blog,personal commentary,reflections on the human condition,ephemera,notes from the underbelly
http://web.ncf.ca/ek867/wood_s_lot.html - Jul 25, 2014 3:27:31 PM - Nov 28, 2004 7:34:47 AM
July 14, 2014
Le passant du Pont des ArtsÉdith Gérin (1910-1997)The BridgesIngeborg BachmannTranslated by Peter FilkinsTwo Poems by Ingeborg BachmannTranslated by Peter Filkins
Lonely are all bridges, and fame is as dangerous for them as it is for us, yet we presume to feel the tread of stars upon our shoulders. Still, over the slope of transience no dream arches us. It’s better to follow the riverbanks, crossing from one to another, and all day keep an eye out for the official to cut the ribbon. For when he does, he’ll seize the sun’s scissors within the fog, and if the sun blinds him, he’ll be swallowed by fog when he falls.
The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths Jorge Luis BorgesIt is said by men worthy of belief (though Allah’s knowledge is greater) that in the first days there was a king of the isles of Babylonia who called together his architects and his priests and bade them build him a labyrinth so confused and so subtle that the most prudent men would not venture to enter it, and those who did would lose their way.via Mitsu Hadeishisynthetic zero
puritain place 1960Harold Town b. June 13, 1924
Digital Humanities and the End of (Close) Reading: A Review of Franco Moretti’s Distant ReadingDaniel MooreToronto Review of Books
Distant Reading confirms Moretti’s penchant for playing devil’s advocate, a role that has brought him as close to notorious stardom as his discipline allows. He has been called a true innovator in literary studies, a “great iconoclast of literary criticism,” and maybe not a literary critic at all. (The first opinion is an economist’s; the other two both come from a review of Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary Theory.) Reading Moretti thus tends to raise a question, one that often attends the work of mavericks, about where showmanship gives way to brilliance expressed with uncommon candour. But in Distant Reading Moretti frustrates the iconoclast-charlatan binary by inhabiting both poses at onceFive poems from "Irish Poetry 600-1200" (a work in progress)Geoffrey Squires5 A bank of trees overlooking me and how could I fail to mention this a blackbird composing an ode for me above my book the lined one here in the glade the chatter of birds birdsong a clear-voiced cuckoo in a grey mantle sings to me making a fine speech from the top of a bush-fort truly the Lord is good to me I write well in the wood
Untitled (A Walk In Wychwood Park)Harold Town1956new poemsCraig Hickmanalien ecologiesThe Art of Trees Craig Hickman When words no longer have the means to say what we believe, when doubt and force bring on the mind’s dis-ease (superficial conversation passing for the truth that is, mouthing only lies that catch us gazing into night), then we, who are the party of this dream, this hope, begin to know and see by questioning the art of trees; by walking alone, together among the darkened leaves, where thoughts like tears begin to shed their fears and follow us along the road where children of the forest still wander from our thoughts like so many butterflies, free and alive.Stirrings stillSamuel Beckett One night as he sat at his table head on hands he saw himself rise and go. One night or day. For when his own light went out he was not left in the dark. Light of a kind came from the one high window. Under it still the stool on which till he could or would no more he used to mount to see the sky. Why he did not crane out to see what lay beneath was perhaps because the window was not made to open or because he could or would not open it. Perhaps he knew only too well what lay beneath and did not wish to see it again. So he would simply stand there high above the earth and see through the clouded pane the cloudless sky. Its faint unchanging light unlike any light he could remember from the days and nights when day followed hard on night and night on day. This outer light then when his own went out became his only light till it in its turn went out and left him in the dark. Till it in its turn went out. One night or day then as he sat as his table head on hands he saw himself rise and go. First rise and stand clinging to the table.Then sit again. Then rise again and stand clinging to the table again. Then go. Start to go. On unseen feet start to go. So slow that only change of place to show he went. As when he disappeared only to reappear later at another place again. Then disappeared only to reappear later at another place again. So again and again disappeared again to reappear again at another place again. Another place in the place where he sat at his table head on hands. The same place and table as when Darly for example died and left him. As when others too in their turn before and since. As when others would too in their turn and leave him till he too in his turn. Head on hands half hoping when he disappeared again that he would not reappear again and half fearing that he would not. Or merely wondering. Or merely waiting. Waiting to see if he would or would not. Leave him or not alone again waiting for nothing again. Seen always from behind withersoever he went. Same hat and coat as of old when he walked the roads. The back roads. Now as one in a strange place seeking the way out. In the dark. In a strange place blindly in the dark of night or day seeking the way out. To the roads. The back roads. A clock afar struck the hours and half-hours. The same as when among others Darly once died and left him. Strokes now clear as if carried by a wind now faint on the still air. Cries afar now faint now clear. Head on hands half hoping when the hour struck that the half-hour would not and half fearing that it would not. Similarly when the half-hour struck. Similarly when the cries a moment ceased. Or merely wondering. Or merely waiting. Waiting to hear. There had been a time he would sometimes lift his head enough to see his hands. What of them was to be seen. One laid on the table and the other on the one. At rest after all they did. Lift his past head a moment to see his past hands. Then lay it back on them to rest it too. After all it did. The same place as when left day after day for the roads. The back roads. Returned to night after night. Paced from wall to wall in the dark. The then fleeting dark of night. Now as if strange to him seen to rise and go. Disappear and reappear at another place again. Or the same. Nothing to show not the same. No wall toward which or further from. In the same place as when paced from wall to wall all places as the same. Or in another. Nothing to show not another. Where never. Rise and go in the same place as ever. Disappear and reappear in another where never. Nothing to show not another where never. Nothing but the strokes. The cries. The same as ever. Till so many strokes and cries since he was last seen that perhaps he would not be seen again. Then so many cries since the strokes were last heard that perhaps they would not be heard again. Then such silence since the cries were last heard that perhaps even they would not be heard again. Perhaps thus the end. Unless no more than a mere lull. Then all as before. The strokes and cries as before and he as before now there now gone now there again now gone again. Then the lull again. Then all as before again. So again and again. And patience till the one true end to time and grief and self and second self his own.
Recess time in the woodsJanine Niépce 1921 - 2007
Taking a break - the "s lot" will resume early August - mw
from “Company”Samuel BeckettYour mind never active at any time is now even less than ever so. This is the type of assertion he does not question. You saw the light on such and such a day and your mind never active at any time is now even less than ever so. Yet a certain activity of mind however slight is a necessary adjunct of company. That is why the voice does not say You are on your back in the dark and have no mental activity of any kind. The voice alone is I company but not enough. Its effect on the hearer is a necessary complement. Were it only to kindle in his mind the state of faint uncertainty and embarrassment mentioned above. But company apart this effect is clearly necessary. For were he merely to hear the voice and it to have no more effect on him than speech in Bantu or in Erse then might it not as well cease? Unless its object be by mere sound to plague one in need of silence. Or of course unless as above surmised directed at an other.(....) In another dark or in the same another devising it all for company. This at first sight seems clear. But as the eye dwells it grows obscure. Indeed the longer the eye dwells the obscurer it grows. Till the eye closes and feed from pore the mind inquires, What does this mean? What finally does this mean that at first sight semmed clear? Till it the mind too closes as it were. As the window might close of a dark empty room. The single window giving out on outer dark. Then nothing more. No. Unhappily no. Pangs of faint light and stirrings still. Unformulable gropings of the mind. Unstillable. … For why not? Why in another dark or in the same? And whose voice asking this? Who asks, whose voice asking this? And answers, His soever who devises it all. In the same dark as his creator or in another. For company. Who asks in the end, Who asks? And in the end answers as above? And adds long after to himself, Unless another still. Nowhere to be found. Nowhere to be sought. The unthinkable last of all. Unnameable. Last person. I. Quick leave him....(
July 11, 2014 James McNeill Whistler
a visitor in the nightExtracts from Journal of a dead man Marcel Béalu Translated by Andrew Robert Hodgson3:amI can’t sleep anymore. I’ve called off the search. All evening, buried in my armchair I’ve sat and waited for the waves to take me. But as they started to reach the walls, as the eddies took up the things in my room, a frogman slowly opened the door. Green water rushed in and over his heavy form, ran over the carpet, raced up towards the ceiling. He walked towards me clumsily as if at the bottom of the ocean. Then, taking off his glove, he placed on my table a pebble. A phosphorescent pebble glinting in the shadow growing thicker. I could no longer see the diver after that. Just in the middle of the night this white pebble. Sometimes my night-time visitor comes without his diving suit. The sight is terrifying. On such evenings he puts under my eyes a book always opened to exactly the same page. The book is a diary covered in black canvas like they use commercially and the page is that day. The last time I read it was Monday 28th April, the day of Saint Aimé. On that day I hadn’t loved anyone. Under the day’s appellation there was nothing, the page was a desert of pure white. More often than not the pages are blank like that. That night I whispered under my breath, I pleaded with him: I’m dead, I’m dead aren’t I? And as soon as I uttered these words the diver tore out the page and disappeared with the book. But his gaze, the intolerable weight of his gaze lingered before me to the end of the night. On other nights I see on the page a mess of hieroglyphs in red ink. I look across the incomprehensible signs until they dissolve and flow together as nets of blood. The page then takes on the look of turned out skin, overly neat, clean, or a map of the rivers, waterways and canals of some unknown country. Other times still there moving on the page like on a cinema screen but with extraordinary photographic perfection, octopi or water lilies. Sometimes simply scenes from my day; but I never recognise the beings that surround me.Simon Perchik: New Poemsexquisite corpseSimon Perchik1234567Not yet certain, half stone half held back -wave after wave rattles it, makes it start over louder, distracted by the sound that is not your shoulders gathering around this grave no longer facing the fragrance riverbeds become once they dry by calling out to each other clog your mouth with salt and nearby -what you hear is edging closer has doubts, lost count the way these rocks are winded and one by one broken up as flowers and your arms....(more)
Sea and Rain
James McNeill Whistler
b. July 10, 1834More Chicks and DicksJoanna WalshberfroisEcho's Bones cannot be read alone. A massive in-joke for anyone who's read More Pricks Than Kicks, the slim volume's best concordance is not the notes that decipher the text's extensive references, but the preceding collection; don't attempt Echo's Bones without it.The first time I read More Pricks Than Kicks I was assailed by terrible cramps that rippled up and down the front of my torso until I stopped reading. It seemed appropriate. Echo’s Bones is a long short story originally intended as the ‘recessional’ to More Pricks Than Kicks, Beckett’s 1934 collection of stories about Belacqua – Dubliner, eternal student, abject sufferer from his own body: goitre, hammer toe, sexual dysfunction and moral turpitude. Although Beckett had to be persuaded to write the story in order to flesh out the collection, Echo’s Bones gave Shatton & Windup “the jim-jams” and it was rejected. Now here it is, resurrected and larger-than-life, bulked-out by an introduction and notes longer than the text itself. The beautiful new Faber edition (taking notes, my pencil sunk into what must truly be the Andrex of paper stock) is annotated almost out of existence, making the task of reading nearly as great a labour as digging up your own coffin, as Belacqua (now deceased), finds. There is much to annotate. ...(more)Simon Perchik : eight poemsjacketTo calibrate this stone
you break the sun just so
part shoreline, part darkness
where the Earth survives
by holding on to your shadow
as if it had no mouth
and what you hear are seabirds
covered with cries that circle
as rain and dust and nightfall
—it's an ancient gesture
half salt, half waves
and nothing inside the stone
that can reach so far
yet you let it drop
with an undisguised precision
that blows open your fingers
and one stone toward another
that is not the sea
not the grass among these flowers
nothing, not the overcast all night
falling from some woman's dress
and you can't hear it raining.
Village at the Water's Edge
Roger de La Fresnaye
b. July 11, 1885On “Translating the Untranslatable”: Conversations with French Poets Anne Portugal and Pierre AlferiPierre Alferi
I write poetry when I cannot make sense of my present predicament. The process is one of clinging to scarce fragments floating around me and tying them together to avoid drowning.Anne Portugal Participating in translating my work with my translators has always been a wonderful and funny linguistic adventure. Of the many examples, consider the way Rosmarie Waldrop translated the poem “Voyer en l’air” in Quisite Moment. In French, this book is already composed as a sort of riddle, where cutting a banal word begets a new one. So the trick is to simultaneously keep the joke in French and re-create it in English. Here are some titles, for example: “den gust of fresh air,” “mantic evening,” “mendous news,” or “able legs.” I also remember Jean-Jacques Poucel’s difficulty in translating the pronouns and possessive adjectives in Formula Flirt from the very long and complex French syntax and to distinguish those designating “he” and “she” (the two lovers in the book) from those that were more deictic. From one language to another, the major difference is always in the designation of plants and flowers. For example, in La formule flirt, one poem is about the notion of being constrained, as in a jail, so un if in French is perfect for its slimness and idea of sorrow, but in English the choice between “cypress” and a “yee” and other sorts of conifers leads to interminable hesitations. Finally, I can’t forget my experience when, at the Hakiyoshidai International Center in Japan, a group translating “Le plus simple appareil” into Japanese had to find an equivalent of the French word “magnolia,” then ten Japanese poets around the table proposed forty sorts of colors and shapes of magnolia to me.
Landscape of the Vernal Equinox
d. July 11, 1946
string theory and post-empiricism Richard Dawid interviewed by Richard Marshall.3:amRichard Dawid is always wondering about philosophical issues arising from physics and string theory, in particular the problem that string theory hasn’t been empirically tested, that it looks like it won’t be in the near future and that fundamental physics is entering a phase when empirical testing is increasingly difficult. He thinks about why physicists trust their theories, why some think this is no better than theology, why he doesn’t, why nuance in understanding underdetermination is required, about how a theory can be scientific without empirical testing, about whether such theories are strictly true, about why this doesn’t result in a constructivist, anti-realist position, about the status of string theory, about how physicists think about what they’re doing, about reliability, about the relevance of the discovery of the Higgs-boson, about how we’re entering a Kuhnian paradigm shift but only in physics and why reliance on non-empirical theory assessment is not a deficiency of soft sciences but integral to all scientific reasoning. Bazinga!
July 08, 2014
Isle of Skye
three poems from 'Nights Reading'Marthe Reed poems online
presented by Jerome Rothenberg...(more)
Gazing At Plums
Though the reasonable man does not have doubts, the condition of woman is perhaps less certain. A question of where
A box of pens, a wooden bowl, desk littered in open books: the uncertain truth of propositions
Light penetrates the shadow of night jade. A hawk rending the black-flecked back of a bear. Can we rely on our senses?
A prescription of dialogue. Such talk gets it’s meaning from the correspondence between doubt and longing
Explanations signal: a book of fables, illustrated herbals. The interchangeable nature of service and servitude demands precision, the roots, red and potent as the flowers
Scheherazade’s inventions. She prepares a tisane of chamomile, dried quince flowers. Though it is not a matter of seeing
An open field, a page of writing. To confirm an hypothesis, again and again
Does she have a body? Married to interrogation, herself predicated on the firmness of flesh, her teeth tearing through it, the sweetness of its juice
A place she enters into
b. July 8, 1867
Translations of five poems by Julia Piera
by Forrest Gander
nth position...(more)And so it begins again, lugging the politics of fear on her shoulders teeth sweating pure rage a chest for the fencing of sobs between garbage, screen, cumulus succubus of garbage... the terror with a cursor in its burned little hand screensavers, multiethnic "personalized," just for her, from a white balcony of grates and pitas the b. skips, digital gladiolus and something immense plunges
by Alan Sondheim and Sandy Baldwin
electronic book reviewIn PAIN.TXT, Alan Sondheim and Sandy Baldwin explore the limitations of expression at the borders of human sensation. Derived from a dialog between Sondheim and Baldwin on extreme pain, this essay considers how one signifies intensity and another attempts to interpret that intensity, and the challenges this process poses for affect, imagination, and ultimately intersubjectivity. In keeping with the content of this piece, the two preserve the dialog format, recreating for readers a discourse on pain that never finds its center.
The Post-Spectacular World, Part 1The most brilliant advertising campaign for alienation we’ll ever get to watch has always been us.
The Spectacle is separation perfected.
This spectacular world. The slips of pain in my head are daunting. Fibrous slimy pink hemispheres pulling apart the middle so slowly that I’m feeling every little weave away from me. Wet feet ringing into leather. Sticky, sweaty face.
I keep trying to get intimate with this moment, trying to be intimate. I’ve taken too many drugs into my system. I haven’t felt well for years and who is to blame? How much energy will I waste on crap thinking? How much energy not getting involved in the things I care about? I can type ninety words a minute yet still can’t capture my dumb hick voice. I want to talk about Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle and how it fails.
It fails because it’s been the only feature in the last ten years of my life that has always been stable. I love the Spectacle because I don’t have to worry. I get it, this invisible layer in our communication. All this ongoing pop-mediation-image complex whatever. Hum in the shower of made up show tunes, pitching early Beatles and Rihanna lyrics 7:15am. I got to stay clean, because I’m afraid to smell. I keep asking people if my room smells because I spend so much time in there, hoping to find a job so I can leave it.
A lot of theory has this lazy war tactic, where a term gets defined over and over again as, “this thing is.” It’s a hijacked value, straw poll results. I bet I could string a pretty long line of anal-beads when Debord does it.
So, how can I define it. John Courie, my closest adviser, says it’s in the first chapter in SOS. Separation Perfected. But, I think that’s it right there, the title itself. The urgency of desire is need in children. Desire pools until reaction voids the user.
July 07, 2014
Landscape at Daybreak,1872Odilon Redon d. July 6, 1916
1914 versus 1938: how anniversaries make historyIvan Krastev
It is arguable that if the fall of the Berlin Wall had not coincided with the bicentennial of the French Revolution, our reading of the changes in Central and Eastern Europe could have been different and what we call revolution today could have been called by another name. And it was this very word “revolution” with all its rich historical connotations that determined the choices of the actors. After 1989 it was the shared fear of revolutionary violence that urged both the old communist elite and the dissidents to opt for negotiations and compromise. It was the shadow of 1789 and the Terror that followed that acted as the invisible presence in Central European politics in the early years of transition. The power of historical anniversaries is so real that one can also imagine that if a mass political protest erupts in Moscow in the year 2017 (centenary of the Bolshevik revolution), we would be tempted to believe that history has yet again changed its course and our view of what is happening on the streets will be dramatically shaped by the books about Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky that will top the bestsellers lists. In their classic study, Thinking in Time, American political scientists Richard Neustadt and Ernest May have revealed that the choice of the proper historical comparison is at the heart of any crisis decision-making. Policy makers need history to make sense of the present.
DADA-Bild1920George Grosz d. July 6, 1959Poems by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhovenjacket2Dropping the Baroness in the middle Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Dada dressing, German Arts, and poetry today Tanya ClementHell’s Wisdom My "Derangement" dwells in absence - as - under circumstances existing - normally - it should be present. It maintains in circumstance - There I leave it. My being in senses right is normal height. It being uncommon – presents strange - as genius does - uncompanioned. Victim of circumstance I am not – as I am no dweller in For me - to be touched - touchably - by circumstance - normal To vacuous spectres of substance past - should so be abnormal – as to cause revulsion degree – Provoking instant insanity – whence I am protected by radius of spiritual emanation To circumstance I am immaterial - as is circumstance to me. Diametricaly opposed - alone we leave each other - charmed aloft Lone I - enhanced shrouded earth – by own atmosphere mine self’s own self – out-of circumstance cosmic star - volve revolve - evolve -I do - by starshaped pride stygmatized outcast from circumstanced press - presssure – I am.
The Chick1945Frida Kahlo b. July 6, 1907The Earthquake In This Case Was Mary Jo Bangjubilat
Blind faith relies on an obedience that verges on boredom. Any disquiet, however slight, might define a moment like a character's obsessive cough might define a character by exploding when it shouldn't. It keeps exploding just when it shouldn't and when it does it acts in the story like a glass box cracked by a hammer that breaks and becomes a broken box. In both situations, action releases the stale air encased there.
Rain1911Marc Chagallb. July 6, 1887
A silhouette of itself: Taipei by Tao LinStephen MitchelmoreThis Space
Recently I suggested the reason why the works of Marcel Proust and Karl Ove Knausgaard maintain a fascination with readers is not due to the extreme length of their books or similarities in subject matter but instead the ambiguity of their genre: both are presented as novels yet are so closely aligned to the reality of the authors' own lives that we read them more aware of everyday mystery and chance than in a traditional memoir, and far more so than in 'gritty' realism. While the coy name change moves Taipei closer to Roth/Zuckerman territory than to the same-name first person of Proust and Knausgaard, this is a necessary function of the condition of interchangeable signs without meaning from which the novel emerges: Paul is barely himself, and it is no joke. So while Taipei might not gain the aura of Proust and Knausgaard, it shares their struggle.A Poem Wislawa SzymborskaTranslated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh Nothingness unseamed itself for me too. It turned itself wrong side out. How on earth did I end up here— head to toe among the planets, without a clue how I used not to be.
Paris Through the Window 1913Marc Chagall
July 04, 2014 photo - mw
How can they write and believe? (PoemTalk #78) Muriel Rukeyser, 'Ballad of Orange and Grape'Muriel Rukeyser reads The Ballad of Orange and Grape.Ballad of Orange and Grape Muriel Rukeyser (1973) After you finish your work after you do your day after you've read your reading after you've written your say -- you do down the street to the hot dog stand, one block down and across the way. On a blistering afternoon in East Harlem in the twentieth century. Most of the windows are boarded up, the rats run out of a sack -- sticking out of the crummy garage one shiny long Cadillac; at the glass door of the drug-addiction center, a man who'd like to break your back. But here's a brown woman with a little girl dressed in rose and pink, too. Frankfurters frankfurters sizzle on the steel where the hot-dog man leans -- nothing else on the counter but the usual two machines, the grape one, empty, and the orange one, empty, I face him in between. A black boy comes along, looks at the hot dogs, goes on walking. I watch the man as he stands and pours in the familiar shape bright purple in the one marked ORANGE orange in the one marked GRAPE, the grape drink in the machine marked ORANGE and orange drink in the GRAPE. Just the one word large and clear, unmistakable, on each machine. I ask him: How can we go on reading and make sense out of what we read? -- How can they write and believe what they're writing, the young ones across the street, while you go on pouring grape into ORANGE and orange into the one marked GRAPE -- ? (How are we going to believe what we read and we write and we hear and we say and we do?) He looks at the two machines and he smiles and he shrugs and smiles and pours again. It could be violence and nonviolence it could be white and black women and men it could be war and peace or any binary system, love and hate, enemy, friend. Yes and no, be and not-be, what we do and what we don't do. On a corner in East Harlem garbage, reading, a deep smile, rape, forgetfullness, a hot street of murder, misery, withered hope, a man keeps pouring grape into ORANGE and orange into the one marked GRAPE, pouring orange into GRAPE and grape into ORANGE forever.
The Balloon 1878Pál Szinyei Merse b. July 4, 1845
Against MasteryWilfred M. McClayThe Hedgehog Review: Vol. 16 No. 1 (Spring 2014)(....)
How, for one, will we make sense of death if it comes to be viewed as something with no intrinsic meaning, but chiefly as a piece of bad luck, a matter of bad timing—the misfortune, for example, of contracting the disease before the march of inevitable medical progress had caught up with it? Or worse, how can we ever be reconciled to death when it becomes understood as something almost entirely accidental, and largely preventable? Do we imagine that complete control over our biological fates will necessarily make us happier? Perhaps it will. But one can as easily imagine that there might be little room for uninhibited joy or exuberance in such a world. More likely it will be a tightly wound world, saturated with bitterness and anxiety and mutual suspicion, in which life and health will be guarded with all the ferocity of Ebenezer Scrooge guarding his money. Growing mastery means growing responsibility, and the need to assign blame, since nothing happens by chance. Some of the blame will be directed at the parents, politicians, doctors, and celebrities who make plausible villains, or conspiracy theories that explain why someone else is always at fault. But much of the blame will devolve upon ourselves, since in being set free to choose so much about our lives, we will have no one else to blame when we make a complete mess of things. No, there is good reason to fear that the more our lives are prolonged and powers extended, and the more death becomes seen as an avoidable evil whose precise moment should be “chosen,” rather than an inherent feature of human life, the more common it will be to encounter people who live imprisoned by their fear of all risk, since the possible consequences of any risk will seem too vast, too horrible, and too fully avoidable, to be contemplated.ABSTRACT
The Internet of Things (IOT) is the extension of the Internet to the next level, i.e., bringing the Internet to the real physical world of things. In this research, 22 people working with different aspects of IOT development were interviewed in Finland and in China, in order to investigate their thoughts and personal opinions on the IOT and the individual privacy in the IOT. This paper presents the background of the IOT, interviews and collected answers, as well as highlights of collected free comments.
photo - mw
Autism, sociality, and human nature Gregory Hollin... over the past thirty years autism has become an all-pervasive cultural experience. ‘Autistic fiction’, for example, has become a recognised genre. And when I talk of ‘autism fiction’, think not only of Rain Man and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time but of all those times that autism is used as a ‘prop’ or ‘prosthetic device’ to explore humanity in toto. Just last week I found myself watching The Machine, a dystopian film in which badly brain-damaged war veterans have computer chips implanted into their brains with the aim of allowing them to return to ‘normal functioning’ (read: become super-soldiers). As you might imagine, this experiment does not end well. What I find particularly interesting, however, is the manner in which these scientists come to realise that these militarised cyborgs are less than human: they fail the Sally-Anne Test, one of the oldest psychological tests for autism. ‘Facts are just facts’ says Paul the cyborg, unable to grasp that the world could appear different to a second person. And so it is within The Machine: as with a great deal of fiction (and, as I’ll argue below, within particular academic disciplines) what is missing in autism is taken to reveal something fundamental about what needs to be present in order to be human. How did this situation occur? How did autism which, until quite recently, was an unusual diagnosis of little broader concern, come to hold a central place in debates over human nature? That’s what I’d like to think about in this essay. My argument, in short, is that the thing which is ‘missing’ in autism, crudely put, is assumed to be social functioning and this is crucial when it comes to understanding why autism is taken to be so important for the human....(more)Somatosphere Science, Medicine, and Anthropologyvia Kenan Malik
photo - mw
Manipulus vocabulorum, A dictionary of English and Latin words, arranged in the alphabetical order of the last syllables by Peter Levins. First printed A.D. 1570
A facsimile edition from 1867 of the very first rhyming dictionary, produced by Peter Levins in 1570 via public domain review
The city wears a slouch hat (1942) A Radio Play John Cage & Kenneth PatchenubuwebThe city wears a slouch hat is one of those Cage works that many know about, but few have actually heard. Commissioned by CBS' "Columbia Workshop" to accompany a radio play by "Beat" poet/writer Kenneth Patchen--a surreal script centered around a mysterious drifter known as "The Voice" and his encounters with various characters of the urban landscape. Cage's music aptly fits Patchen's texts, scored for "sound orchestra" of 5 percussionists along with live and recorded sound effects, revealing Cage's gift for orchestrating the timbres of percussion. One can only imagine what unsuspecting families, seated around the radio for an evening's entertainment, made of this bizarre script and rambunctious music in 1942!
July 03, 2014
Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville
long pause, romantic music, silence Laura Legge3:am
The goal of subtitles is clear: to cross linguistic and auditory barriers. And to achieve this objective the subtitler must not only translate between languages, but she must convert between entirely separate media. Spoken language is transformed into written text, the difference between apples and sliced apples. If, at the laser-lit karaoke bar, someone is singing viking metal or bachelor pad pop in a language you do not understand, the lyrics on screen are clearly a separate unit from the words being sung. But still they work to float the observer through what might otherwise be an experience of estrangement, or at least one lacking pleasure.An Empty StreetJeffrey WainwrightAfter Ottone Rosai, Via San Leonardo(....)
*** What is there to an empty street? Have you seized it for your melancholy, shushed and deterred all would-be passers-by, your neighbours, even understanding friends, emptied them out like plums from a paper bag and then folded and re-creased it as you have it now? *** What is there to an empty street that you will not let it go? There is no blood, robbery or impiety open to the view, no spectacles required to see what can be seen, not even, for certain, what I’ve called your melancholy. So you leave me here, just as you meant to do, watching the street. ***
VertigoHitchcock photo by Eva BesnyöThe case for an absent-minded InternetWe've built a huge memory machine whose capacity is becoming at best a nuisance, at worst dangerous. Meet the thinkers trying to teach the Internet to forget. Leon NeyfakhWhen it comes to the Internet, we're dealing with a garden of infinite acreage being tilled by millions of gardeners, most of whom are too busy adding to the vegetation to spend any time pulling out weeds. In effect, what we have on our hands is a piece of technology with the potential to radically expand our access to the past-which sounds great, until you think about how much past there is, and what lies there.
To a world obsessed with memory—whether measured in gigabytes or in standardized test scores—the idea that forgetting could be a virtue does not come naturally. Having a powerful memory tends to make people seem smarter, better at their jobs, and more fun to talk to; they know more facts about the world and make their friends feel good by remembering little details about their lives. Above all, it’s hard to shake the intuition that retaining more of our experiences, and being able to go over them in our heads long after we’ve had them, makes for a richer, more engaged life. Forgetting, on the other hand, usually feels like failure: Not only is it incredibly frustrating to find yourself unable to recall something you used to know, it can also be a genuine handicap in life, especially if it becomes chronic. For this reason, we tend to overlook the ways in which acts of forgetting, broadly speaking, help society function. The legal system, for instance, is designed to “forget” the crimes of children in the interest of giving them a chance to start from scratch as adults. Family life is predicated on the ability of the people involved to forget inevitable moments of discord that would otherwise eat away at any bond. Trauma victims, as well, must work to put painful memories behind them in order to not be haunted by the past. Forgetting is also increasingly being described by psychologists as key to human cognition.
Reflections on e-slavement Andrew Mitchell Davenportfull stopI looked down the aisles, and saw all of the travelers plugged-in and watching films or television on their touchscreens, too. They were watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, a World Cup match, and SportsCenter. My 85 year old grandmother had her earbuds in, too, watching the news. I thought of the word “digital” and how it really means to touch.Words without Borders July 2014: Migrant LaborPoem to the One in Far-Off LandsJuan Carlos MestreTranslated from Spanish by Jeremy Paden The one banished by poverty lives heartless in far-off lands and cares for nothing as if it were his and is sullen and tired under the heavens. The one who leaves his house defeated and is dragged along by the murmur of people and empty wanders the street and sits in front of a machine. The one grieved by reason who faces a life that dies still hoping and does not return. To this one whom no one ever bade farewell and who one day takes the train toward dawn. No one will know him, his story is sad like a sea that lies undiscovered. He has not wanted to look at spring, he works in order to return, to germinate one day like the flowering tree that in his orchard gave shade and purpose to morning. You might think heaven will forgive him, think love, city and birds and towers will peal again the bells in his eyes. But he, who lost in far-off lands was boulevard debris, has died. Mourn him not, next to that dark wood bubbled an honest spring.
Willard Leroy Metcalf b. July 1, 1858
Dynamics of inequalityA conversation with Thomas Piketty Translation by Trista Selous
I regard myself as a social scientist as much as an economist. When you're studying questions such as the distribution of wealth, the boundaries are fluid and approaches must of necessity be combined. After finishing my doctorate at the Ecole normale supérieure I spent the early 1990s in the United States, teaching at MIT and elsewhere, and was very struck by the self-satisfaction of economists in the universities there. They were convinced that their methods were far more scientific than those of their colleagues in the so-called "soft" sciences such as sociology, history, anthropology. But their "science" was often highly ideological. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, economists have played a major part in the idealization of the market, in the United States and around the world. Despite my scientific background, I have always been drawn to history. From the outset I tried to gather data on the historical evolution of wealth distribution, because there was very little around. Contrary to what you sometimes hear, historical data do exist, you just have to take the time to gather them, for example by going to the Ministry of Finance archives or the probate records. I have nothing against theory, but it must be used sparingly: a small amount of theory can explain many facts. But most of the time economists do the opposite. They fill the air with theories, giving themselves the illusion of being scientific, though the factual basis for them may be extremely fragile.
The Lament of Orpheus 1876Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret d. July 3, 1929
July 01, 2014
Tom Thomson at Lake Scugogphoto by T.H. Martin
happy canada day
The Perfect Mango Erin ManningThese words are written on my body. They are twenty-five-year-old words and sometimes they have lived a thousand years. I have been waiting to write this book, waiting all my life for it to stop long enough so that I can transpose these words aching, marking, devouring me. Today I write my body.What Can The Body Do? Conversation recorded with Erin Manning in New York on January 19, 2014.
I know I have written this before, that it has been written before me and in the thousand years and twenty-five I will write it many more times. Today I write my story, written among the maze of paint and vomit that is my life today, a story of love and desire and fear and weakness.
Often I wonder whether my teeth are rotting. Is that the mark of my story on my body? My story ravages my body every time I try to read it, exposing the traces of time left behind, the unfinished fantasies and dreams come true.
Once I wrote another book. It was about a sea that disappeared, about a boy who believed in a beautiful purple sea, about parents who didn't see, about a sea that disappeared. There were pictures as well, painted in watercolour. I don't have the book anymore. It was stolen. Perhaps it is the mark on my left thigh, the one that looks like cellulite. It's not cellulite at all. It's my lost story, waiting to be read again. But I can't read it because everytime I open a magazine I read about the new magical cure to eliminate cellulite. They don't want to read my book. They want to unwrite the writing on my body and make me whole again. They want to polish me up and make me smooth, nice to look at, appealing and unthreatening. In my book the sea disappeared because they couldn't see. Perhaps my book was smeared by their creams and not stolen at all. Perhaps they will make this one invisible with their magic wrinkle creams. This book is full of wrinkles.
What story can I tell you that is my own? What story can I tell you without losing my body as I borrow the writing from it? What will you do with my story once it is told? Will you iron it out as well? Do you like my story?
I would like to write a love story, a story about love. It would be easier to write if I had purged everything but it's hard to throw up today. I would like to tell you a love story and I promise to tell it with a happy ending. I promise not to talk too much about throwing up. I promise not to make you uncomfortable. I promise not to tell.
Parque das Caldas da Rainha Portugal Landscape architecture by Francisco Caldeira Cabral photo by Manuel Silveira RamosFernando Pessoa: The falling of leaves that one senses without hearing them fallpresented by Tom ClarkBeyond the Pale
To cease, to be unknown and external, the stirring of branches in remote avenues, the tenuous falling of leaves that one senses without hearing them fall, the subtle sea of distant fountains, and the whole indistinct world of gardens at night, lost in endless complexities, the natural labyrinths of the dark! To cease, to end once and for all, yet to survive in another form, as the page of a book, a loose lock of hair, a swaying creeper outside a half-open window, insignificant footsteps on the fine gravel curve of a path, the last twist of smoke high above a village as it falls asleep, the idle whip of the waggoner stopped by the road in the morning... Absurdity, confusion, extinction -- anything but life...
Such is the law by which things that can’t be explained must be forgotten. The visible world goes on as usual in the broad daylight. Otherness watches us from the shadows.
Fernando Pessoa,The Book of Disquiet,translation by Margaret Jull Costa,
Alberto Magnelli b. July 1, 1888
The Pragmatist Skepsis as a Social Practice. [pdf] Skepticism, Irony and Cultural Politics in Rorty’s PhilosophyOlivier Tinland
Symposia. Pragmatism and the Social Dimension of Doubt: Fresh PerspectivesEuropean Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy Volume 5, Number 2, 2013
A Taste Of Empty Ideas Peter UngerEmpty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy Peter Unger amazonInterview With Peter Unger by Grace Boey
A central thesis of the book, perhaps its most central thesis, is this: Contrary to what has been supposed by Anglophone academic philosophers, during the last five decades, there has been offered hardly any new thoughts whose truth, or whose untruth, makes or means any difference as to how anything ever is as concern concrete reality, except for ever so many perfectly parochial thoughts, ideas about nothing much more than which words are used by which people, and how various of these people use these words of theirs — and nothing any deeper than that. (And, if it be required that the newly offered non-parochial thoughts be credible idea – at least more credible than their negations, or their denials, then what’s been relevantly placed on offer, in all these years, goes from hardly anything to nothing at all.) Rather, even while brilliant thinkers have offered thoughts meant to cut lots of concrete mustard, what’s been newly placed on offer, with any credibility, are just so many thoughts empty of import for concrete reality, that is, just so many concretely empty ideas. And, each of these concretely empty ideas owes its emptiness to its being analytic, in a useful sense of that term, so, what’s more, each of the offered thoughts are thoughts that, at least when correct, are just so many analytically empty ideas, each on a par with, in that way, the thought that someone can remember her old college days only if she went to college.
Alberto MagnelliThis month we present writing about migrant labor. Through official channels or underground networks, fleeing poverty or chasing dreams, the characters here leave their homelands in search of work and new lives, finding nothing is quite as they expected. Bulgarian journalist Martin Karbovski harvests cucumbers and comedy. Christos Ikonomou's sorrowful Greeks watch their world slip away. Journalist Wang Bang interviews Chinese prostitutes in a shadowy London, and Russian graphic artist Victoria Lomasko documents modern slavery in Moscow. Taleb Alrefai learns the hidden cost of a work permit. In Paris, Wilfried N'Sondé takes the temperature of a simmering banlieue. Vladimir Vertlib sees Russia recreated in Brighton Beach. Saud Alsanousi, the winner of the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, portrays a mixed-blood Kuwaiti victimized by that country's harsh immigration policies, while Bangladesh's Shahaduz Zaman's visa applicant endures medical tests and examines his own emotions. Mely Kiyak observes Turkish immigrants in Germany, and Juan Carlos Mestre mourns a worker who never returned. Elsewhere, Musharraf Ali Farooqi introduces and translates a group of Sindhi folk tales.
June 30, 2014
The Ballad of the Bone Boat
Allen Grossman (1932-2014)
I dreamed I sailed alone
In a long boat, a white bone;
Like a strong thought, or a right name
The sail had no seam.
The mast, and its shadow on the sea,
Fled like one high lonely tree
Bent with the weight of the wind-fruit sown
By the cold storm.
It was a dream of dignity
When I steered on that plated sea
With a seamless sail, and a boat like a bone,
In a fair time of the moon.
There was no rudder in the long bone boat,
The compass was a stone –
The air was empty of the deep sea gull,
And gone was the cry of the loon.
The sea and the sky were one dark thing,
The eye and the hand as cold.
Unbound was my hair, unbound was my dress;
Nothing beckoned or called
But the words of a song
That had death in its tune
And death in its changes and close –
A song which I sang in the eye of the moon,
And a secret name that I chose.
And this is the song: “Straight is the way
When the compass is a stone,
And the sail has no seam, and the boat is a bone,
And the mast is bent like a tree that bears
The wind-fruit of the moon.”
And now I sing, O come with me,
And be at last alone;
For straight is the way in the dream of the boat
That is a long white bone.
Landscape in North Wales
b. June 30, 1891
Stanley Spencer (Scraps)
Isola Di RifiutiGuy Davenport, out of "Stanley Spencer and David Jones":
How, then . . . to see Spencer? . . . Is he a mystic descending from the heaven-on-earth designers (St.-Simon, Fourier, Mother Ann Lee) with a hope for political reformation? Clearly, his sexual paintings constitute a critique of society as we know it, comically different from D. H. Lawrence's, Ibsen's, or the yeastier psychoanalysts with bees in their bonnets about a society without repressions. Not even Fourier, that most imaginative of Utopians, considered orgies with sunflowers and dogs. A plausible answer might be that he is a disillusioned visionary. Apolitical, but a democrat in the philosophical sense, eccentrically religious, honest, a realist in matters of the flesh, Stanley Spencer was before all else a poet for whom the natural beauty of the world-meadows, gardens, trees in blossom, rivers-was the primary fact.
The elements will writhe around him. The elements buckle and break and twist.
Nietzsche and the Burbs
I sing that graceful toy, whose waving play,
With gentle gales relieves the sultry day.
Not the wide fan by Persian dames display'd,
Which o'er their beauty casts a grateful shade;
Nor that long known in China's artful land,
Which, while it cools the face, fatigues the hand;
Nor shall the muse in Asian climates rove,
To seek in Indostan some spicy grove,
Where stretch'd at ease the panting lady lies,
To shun the fervour of meridian skies,
While sweating slaves catch every breeze of air,
And with wide-spreading fans refresh the fair;
No busy gnats her pleasing dreams molest,
Inflame her cheek, or ravage o'er her breast,
But artificial zephyrs round her fly,
And mitigate the fever of the sky.
John Gay (b. June 30, 1685) from The Fan
This is Spring for the last time. And poetry
Is dead — as when the Great Mind of the world
Or the mind in fact of the one man or woman
Among us who can speak has suppressed a momentous
Theme and nothing comes to mind in its place
And nothing is heard and nothing is seen
And the field is empty. Or it is like
An old ballad written down, or foot prints
Under the ice of time: the trace of one
Foot fall and in that print another print
Of foot falling and perished in the air
(And thus began the motive of our endless
Patience — the waiting for the sound a thousand years
Of the one foot fall and to hear it again
To hear it is the reason of our art
By which the greatest poet makes the deepest silence
In the empty heart of the strongest song);
But in earth remained the writing of the path
Of two — human, or partly human — who were
Walking on a bare flat plain at the dark hour
The far mountain threw down this dust. ...
d. June 29, 1955
Descartes' Loneliness (Meditation Three) Allen Grossman Toward evening, the natural light becomes Intelligent and answers, without demur: “Be assured! You are not alone. . . .” But in fact, toward evening, I am not Convinced there is any other except myself To whom existence necessarily pertains. I also interrogate myself to discover Whether I myself possess any power By which I can bring it about that I, Who now am, shall exist another moment. Because I am mostly a thinking thing And because this precise question is Only from that thoughtful part of myself, If such a power did reside within me I should, I am sure, be conscious of it. . . . But I am conscious of no such power. And yet, if I myself cannot be The cause of that assurance, surely It is necessary to conclude that I am not alone in the world. There is some other who is the cause of that idea. But if, at last, no such other can be found toward evening, do I really have sufficient assurance of the existence or of any other being at all? For, after a most careful search, I have been unable to discover the ground of that conviction – unless it be imagined a lonely workman on a dizzy scaffold unfolds a sign at evening and puts his mark to it.
June 27, 2014
If This Be Not I
b. June 27, 1913
The Philosopher, the Drunk, and the Lamppost
R. Scott Bakker
Three Pound BrainA crucial variable of interest is the accuracy of metacognitive reports with respect to their object-level targets: in other words, how well do we know our own minds? We now understand metacognition to be under segregated neural control, a conclusion that might have surprised Comte, and one that runs counter to an intuition that we have veridical access to the accuracy of our perceptions, memories and decisions. A detailed, and eventually mechanistic, account of metacognition at the neural level is a necessary first step to understanding the failures of metacognition that occur following brain damage and psychiatric disorder.As well as the degree to which we should accept the deliverances of philosophical reflection.
Stephen M. Fleming and Raymond J. Dolan, “The neural basis of metacognitive ability”
Philosophical reflection is a cultural achievement, an exaptation of pre-existing cognitive capacities. It is entirely possible that philosophical reflection, as an exaptation of pre-existing biocognitive capacities, suffers any number of cognitive short-circuits. And this could very well explain why philosophy suffers the perennial problems it does.
In other words, the empirical possibility of Blind Brain Theory cannot be doubted—no matter how disquieting its consequences seem to be. What I would like to assess here is the probability of the account being empirically substantiated.
Two PoemsArielle Greenberg
Arielle GreenbergWhere I Am From
I am from a big book with five books in it. It is often red: a red book, a red binding. We were slaves in Egypt, we stood at the bottom of Sinai with a golden calf made of melted bracelets and with tambourines, etcetera. I am mixed on the subject, but mostly proud in a useless and illogical manner.
But it is my original family, my gene-tango. My extended blood. Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Romania, Austria, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, places I may never go or may never go again but my bones in my face sing these songs anyway, and can be recognized by the more recent immigrants, by the natives of each cabbage-souped place.
Of tenements I know nothing but how the word beats in me, beats me. Of how I beat it to death.
Head and Bottle
Holy Cow: Parable Poems
Robert Petersthe philosopher
he's an old man, an
old philosopher. he dies.
we embalm him and
wrap him in flannel.
we put him outside
on a wooden platform
near a limpid river channel.
he's dead for hours,
among the hydrangeas, castor
beans, and other commemorating
flowers. we read his works.
they're full of quirks: too
Kantian, too Platonic, too
erotic we laugh, go crazy,
get it on. an orgy. the wind
plays with his dead hair.
we show his dead eyes a
picture of Schopenhauer.
he stirs and yawns.
slowly, he undoes his bonds.
he leaves his ankies tied.
he looks a little dried
from the formaldehyde.
he resembles Freud. like
Socrates he sits
among his acolytes. one leg
dangles over the bed.
"Talk, talk, talk," he says,
"and fuck. That's all you do,
that's all you care about."
"Right on!" we shout, wondering
what the miracle is all about.
he throws off his clothes.
he fingers his groin. his cock
rises like Lazarus from the grave.
he doesn't miss a stroke.
we chant in rhythm with his
beat. he dies and lies back
down. angels the size of
from his sperm. each angel's
face is a famous philosopher.
the angels flutter in a ring.
they clap their hands and sing.
they drop their angel clothes
and enter the old man's body.
he flies to the sky.
My Father As House Builder
Cedar poles skidded by horse
from swamp to highland, stripped
of bark, hauled to the house-site
on a knoll near the county road.
A pattern in the sand
for two rooms and kitchen, drawn
with a sapling and a string.
Cedar poles adzed flat,
other Poles notched for walls.
We chinked logs with swamp moss
secured by slats, then plastered.
We puttied the windows.
Scrap lumber for the roof and floors.
A cellar hole in the living room,
the sand fetched up by buckets
and dumped in a marsh hole
filled in for a garden plot.
The upper story, hip-roofed, low,
built without plumb lines.
Tin smoke-pipe leaning north,
tied by guy wires to the roof.
We nagged Dad to finish the walls,
but he never did.
The studs, he said,
were good for hanging pots and clothes.
The walls we insulated
with flattened cardboard boxes
and decorated them with pictures
cut from Hearst's American Weekly Sunday News.
One might say that immensity is a philosophical category of daydream. Daydream undoubtedly feeds on all kinds of sights, but through a sort of natural inclination, it contemplates grandeur. And this contemplation produces an attitude that is so special, an inner state that is so unlike any other, that the daydream transports the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity.
Far from the immensities of sea and land, merely through memory, we can recapture, by means of meditation, the resonances of this contemplation of grandeur. But is this really memory? Isn’t imagination alone able to enlarge indefinitely the images of immensity? In point of fact, daydreaming, from the very first second, is an entirely constituted state. We do not see it start, and yet it always starts the same way, that is, it flees the object nearby and right away it is far off, elsewhere, in the space of elsewhere.
When this elsewhere is in natural surroundings, that is, when it is not lodged in the houses of the past, it is immense. And one might say that daydream is original contemplation.
b. June 27, 1884
The Poetics of Space
June 26, 2014
Nostalgia Ricky D’Ambrosequarterly conversationFew habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). One example: Kleist, writing at the start of the nineteenth century, wanted the mind to catch up to language, which leads the way. Ideas, in Kleist’s view, can be made to syncopate with speech—and the mind can arrive at the summit or at the top of an idea—but through language alone, which forms and dispatches a thought spontaneously. For Kleist, what matters is the movement of a consciousness; an idea can never be fixed, but created only by the whim, and the digressiveness, of thinking aloud. Another, much earlier example: the mystic, who expends a human life to verify his piousness, and whose own movement entails an ongoing series of tasks, a life project, that ensures the intimacy of his relationship with God. Events, like ideas, are replayed endlessly in the soul of the believer (the soul being, for the mystic, the exemplary scene of revelation). Exhaustion, in either case, is never too far off. Approaching an idea under the demands of a peddler’s consciousness means enduring the fear of having arrived too late. In this scenario, the closed shop of the mind (or of the soul) admits a limited type and number of transactions, turning revelation—and both Kleist and the mystic are concerned, principally, with revelation, whether of a thought or of a God—into an impassable situation. But if one can no longer talk and think and move aimlessly, at the whim of chance, and if it is no longer possible to direct the ecstasy of a life outward, toward God, then another, less edifying option may be in store. In this third scenario, one rescinds a position without retracing one’s steps, moving backward with the impression that the consciousness of the peddler can survive the disapperance of the two techniques that prolong its legacy: perpetual motion and unlimited exchange. When a consciousness, attuned to unlimited exchange and movement, is made anxious by a revelation that never occurs—the thought that language doesn’t disclose, the last judgment that never begins—then it may have no place else to go but backward. But there is only so much that the past can offer a nostalgic consciousness, which has nothing to offer but the guarantee of its spectatorship, of looking and watching—the docile view. The Angel of History looks back, impotently. The nostalgic looks back, more tolerant of this new impotence, but nonetheless saddened by what it implies. “I do not want anything to do with a felicity that can spoil clairvoyance,” Gide writes. “It is essential to be able to find happiness beyond. Accertation; confidence; serenity: virtues of an old man. The age of struggling with the angel is over.”
Data Storms and the Tyranny of Manufactured ForgettingHenry A. GirouxThe current mainstream debate regarding the crisis in Iraq and Syria offers a near perfect example of both the death of historical memory and the collapse of critical thinking in the United States. It also signifies the emergence of a profoundly anti-democratic culture of manufactured ignorance and social indifference.
Surely, the celebration and widespread prevalence of ignorance in American culture does more than merely testify "to human backwardness or stupidity"; it also "indicates human weakness and the fear that it is unbearably difficult to live beset by continuous doubts." Yet, what is often missed in analysis of political and civic illiteracy as the new normal is the degree to which these new forms of illiteracy not only result in an unconscious flight from politics, but also produce a moral coma that supports modern systems of terror and authoritarianism. Civic illiteracy is about more than the glorification and manufacture of ignorance on an individual scale: it is producing a nationwide crisis of agency, memory and thinking itself.
Chen JiagangIn the beginning, there was madness. In the beginning, there was chaos. And all forms of sanity were formed out of madness. And the forms of order were shaped out of chaos. He speaks of the last God. He speaks of God become madness, sheer, blazing madness. He speaks of the last God, who has burnt away everything except sheer, blazing chaos.
Madness is a god that has forgotten it’s a god. No – madness is divinity without god. Madness is the place from which gods are born. And into which gods collapse. — Nietzsche and the Burbs
Old WallChen Jiagang · Photography
John Ashbery Interviewed by Adam FitzgeraldbombBOMB 128 / Summer 2014Through his translations from the French, John Ashbery joins a body of great twentieth-century American poets who have sought to trace their lineage from elsewhere, as much to undermine prevailing literary conventions as to inform us about those other traditions. In the twin prose and poetry volumes of Ashbery’s Collected French Translations, recently published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a compelling argument can be made—that the wild diversity and vitality of innovative American poetry operates today, in large part, because of what the translator-poet found in Raymond Roussel, Arthur Rimbaud, Giorgio de Chirico, and Max Jacob. By influencing Ashbery so decisively throughout a seven-decade career, these Frenchmen have shaped us all. Adam Fitzgerald
AF Kenneth Koch turned you on to Roussel, coming back from his Fulbright in France. What was it about Roussel that excited you and still excites you now? For me, it’s hard to get into because it is just so dry. JA That’s what I find so exciting. It’s as though he’s trying to reduce the temperature of literature to absolute zero. Somehow, the closer he gets to that, the more passionate it seems to become, just because of his fanatic and fantastic desire to reduce everything to something clear and passionless and meaningful only in itself. It doesn’t have any allegorical quotient. AF In French, is it very literary? Once you said it was very technical sounding. JA I think it was Leiris who said that Roussel wrote the kind of French that students were instructed to write at the Lycée: grammatically correct and totally limpid and cold. I don’t know why it appealed to me so much. I don’t think I’m a cold person myself. Maybe that’s why.
The Toy Shop 1962Peter Blake b. June 25, 1932
Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical PhilosophySpecial Issue 2014: New Realism and Phenomenology