blog,personal commentary,reflections on the human condition,ephemera,notes from the underbelly
http://web.ncf.ca/ek867/wood_s_lot.html - Sep 19, 2014 11:00:23 AM - Nov 28, 2004 7:34:47 AM
September 19, 2014
Most things can be done without machines. Enough suitably intricate vacant circuitry is available inside us to obviate external mechanisms. The adjusters of these circuits are called angels, the program tapes fed in are called reality, or time. Whoever the programmer may be, he or they or she are anxiously awaiting the outcome of each run. Alchemy is the science of becoming aware of the whole project in which we are being engaged. Alchemy is the science of being used. Alchemy is the science of use. Its name probably means the art of the black, & alludes in all likelihood not to the black soil of Egypt but to the black blankness of the unknown brain, the silent areas’ in which the Operator, bent night & day over his fire, eventually kindles a Voice, one that guides him in the science of penetration, science of final separations.
The lawn of genre: Wittgenstein Jr by Lars Iyer Steve MitchelmoreThis SpaceAll of England was once a lawn, Wittgenstein says. The whole of the country, with its uplands and lowlands, with its suburbs and towns, was once the quintessence of lawn. [...]
And it was in the name of the English lawn that the enemy within was kept down, Wittgenstein says. The Peasants' Revolt was crushed for seeking equality on the English lawn. The Diggers were transported for declaring that the English lawn was part of the commons. [...]
But never was the English lawn so lush as in the great universities of England! Wittgenstein says. Old expanses of lawn, strewn with meadowsweet and buttercups in high summer. Crocuses blooming in spring.
Wittgenstein Jr comes to an end as the carefree life of a student comes to an end. Salvation of a sort is offered to Wittgenstein Jr, but he disappears. A clue to his whereabouts was seen earlier when students go to his room to check on his well-being and spy scraps of paper tacked to the wall with only one word visible: APERION, Anaximander's word for the eternal or cosmological infinity (also spelled "apeiron" but this is how it appears in the novel). Perhaps this is an additional mark of excess to the one Derrida says signifies the participation in a genre without membership, a mark that is itself not part of the genre yet necessary for its distinction and recognition. Aperion then is the mark of a universal principle of existence, an abstraction outside of life that nevertheless makes life possible and is apparently sensible only in the light of a particular afternoon and in the freedom, lightness and excess of writing, and yet which, as Fischer's cavil confirms, must also succumb to the ever-encroaching English lawn.
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 Tate Modern: Exhibition
The Wheel Turns, the Boat Rocks, the Sea Rises Rebecca SolnitThere have undoubtedly been stable periods in human history, but you and your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents never lived through one, and neither will any children or grandchildren you may have or come to have. Everything has been changing continuously, profoundly—from the role of women to the nature of agriculture. For the past couple of hundred years, change has been accelerating in both magnificent and nightmarish ways. Yet when we argue for change, notably changing our ways in response to climate change, we’re arguing against people who claim we’re disrupting a stable system. They insist that we’re rocking the boat unnecessarily. I say: rock that boat. It’s a lifeboat; maybe the people in it will wake up and start rowing. Those who think they’re hanging onto a stable order are actually clinging to the wreckage of the old order, a ship already sinking, that we need to leave behind.
If you want to know how potentially powerful you are, ask your enemies. The misogynists who are trying to sabotage, delegitimize, and silence feminism and feminists only demonstrate in a roundabout way that feminism really is changing the world; they are the furious backlash and so the proof of that change. The climate movement is similarly upsetting a lot of powerful people and institutions; to grasp that, you just have to look at the tsunamis of money spent opposing specific measures and misinforming the public. The carbon barons are demonstrating that we could change the world and that they don’t want us to.
Right now, we are in a churning sea of change, of climate change, of subtle changes in everyday life, of powerful efforts by elites to serve themselves and damn the rest of us, and of increasingly powerful activist and social-movement campaigns to make a world that benefits more beings, human and otherwise, in the longer term. Every choice you make aligns you with one set of these forces or another. That includes doing nothing, which means aligning yourself with the worst of the status quo dragging us down in that ocean of carbon and consumption.
Against Animal Authenticity, Against the Forced March of the Now: a review of Nicole Shukin’s Animal Capital Karl Steelelecronic book reviewKarl Steel’s How To Make A Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages Nicole Shukinelectronic book review
In the newest version of this old spiritual, humanist fantasy, capitalism imagines that the Internet and digital finance free it from factories, machines, heavy products, and, especially, workers, mostly now just consumers, as production goes on somewhere else in places not quite caught up to the fully human present. In this new present, power comes from the wind and sun, not steam and coal, while light transmits words and images effortlessly, without the strainings and sortings of printers and ink and scribes. When the animal rendering of the first (dis)assembly lines gives way to the portability and omnipresence of digital rendering, when stationary peasants give way to migrants, the soul of capitalism ascends from its dull carapace into a celestial glory infusing everyone fortunate enough to live in the true present. Nicole Shukin’s Animal Capital interrupts these contradictory fantasies: on the one hand, capitalism’s self-serving fantasy of an animal/animated capitalism that thoughtlessly and mechanically “knows best,” and on the other, capitalism’s purported abolishment of a presumptively bestial corporeality into a realm of pure, digital spirit. The first fantasy process “renders” life into being capitalism itself, while also rendering animal bodies into products, like film stock, one of Shukin’s key examples, and also the animals of advertising. The second “renders” animals in the sense of digital rendering, or so it thinks, by turning away from physical stuff towards the purely spectral existence of finance and discourse. Shukin’s book frustrates all these processes of rendering, by emphasizing alternately either the cultural existence of animals, to combat the notion of an inert, predisursive natural existence, or the corporal character of capitalism, which cannot be abandoned, whatever its dreams of escaping animality to become pure culture.
In a larger sense, critical animal theory, as a “new thing” in criticism is, arguably, just another product, and, like all products, its time has already slipped away, almost from the moment of its introduction, in favor of still newer critical modes like critical plant studies and object-oriented ontologies, whose pieties claim to outdo anything else to date in their sensitivity to the wholly other. The delight in reviewing a book from 2009, five years on, is that of refusing the market’s demand always to be of the moment. The past, whether medieval or more recent, has its resources. It offers us a way to stop the smooth flow of capitalist time. And with Shukin, we must aim to be as adaptive as capitalism itself, always seeking some “counterhegemonic” (one of her favored words) purchase to whittle away at its fantasies and satisfactions, always looking for some way to get off the clock and to live on terms and in times other than what capitalism sells back to us, without ever imagining that we have got free of our obligations to our animal selves.
The critical core of Steel’s book lies in his radical proposal that “the human is an effect rather than a cause of its domination of animals; that the human cannot abandon the subjugation of the animal without abandoning itself; and that the human can therefore be said not to exist except in its action of domination”. He argues, moreover, that because the human is contingently constituted rather than natural or given, the violence which founds the human needs to be incessantly reenacted. Steel explicitly extends Judith Butler’s understanding of identity as a performative recitation to the category of the human when he proposes that because “the human never comes completely into being, it is always trying to justify itself …. [T]he supposedly foundational act of the human can never cease, since it can never be founded on anything but the act itself”.(....)
...Steel’s book participates in an exciting movement to “bring medieval studies into mutually beneficial critical relations with scholars working on a diverse array of post-medieval subjects, including critical philosophies that remain un- or under-historicized”. Such critical philosophies include posthumanisms and new materialisms of various stripes, affect, thing, and object oriented theory, ecocriticism and critical animal theory, and theories of sovereignty and biopower. Steel’s book certainly brings the Middle Ages into intimate relationship with contemporary critical philosophies, particularly those philosophies devoted to deconstructing the sovereignty of the human and elaborating an ethics of co-constitution and co-existence.
Joseph Mallord William Turner Peace - Burial at SeaMadman or Master? The EY Exhibition: Late Turner - Painting Set FreeDavid Shook translating Mikeas SánchezTranslation Drunken Boat Issue 19Those who sleep beyond day and night beyond solitude and abandonment dream of life and are scared to live who doesn’t it scare? And those of us who are awake we who live through absence from the solitude of smiles we who die each instant and console ourselves by filling emptiness with the joy of bodies equally empty we also dream of living inhabiting sillhouetes escaping fright
September 18, 2014
photo - mw
Reception & Effusion: fragments on asemic objects, after Ponge
EntropyThere is one activity can always engage in: the gaze-of-such-a-sort-that-it’s-spoken, the comment upon what surrounds him and upon his own state amidst what surrounds him. Right away, this lets him recognize the importance of each thing and its mute supplication, the instances when, in their silence, they make us speak them, according to their value, and in themselves,—outside of their habitual signifying value,—with no alternative, and yet measured. By what measure?: their very own.I swear language is capable of getting in the way of my use of it.
– Francis Ponge, “Les Façons du regard” [Ways of Seeing]i
Sometimes I can’t bear the effects of its having a mind of its own . . . !
To hold a pebble in your palm once is to understand how every pebble behaves,
how every pebble has ever behaved (since well before the flood,)
is to understand that a pebble wouldn’t move, or couldn’t move,—
that a pebble shouldn’t move,—
unless acted upon by an external force (to quote a phrase),
is to feel that a pebble has no force,
but has been brought by what it is not to where it has come to rest—
Ponge: “It is sometimes the case that the stone itself holds signs of having been stirred. In its final stages, as pebble, gravel, sand, dust, it is no longer able to play its role as bearer or supporter of animate things.”ii
Is this what it means to be without will:
moving only passively through the space on the side of things,
being moved, breaking down, until there is nothing left but pebble, gravel, sand, dust,
until there is not enough left of you to even house or support your suppressors, the ones who caused
you to stir, to disintegrate?
And does a stone continue to possess its body as it falls away to pebble, grave, sand, dust?
And is there even such thing as totality in geology, or has all that was once integral broken into discrete bodies? A sort of incomplete whole.
And to what whole, beyond the pebble itself, could the pebble belong?
photo - mw
Sky High, Skin Deep
dark technologies of mediation
Renata Lemos Morais
What I propose in this article is a theoretical approach to processes of mediation that are not visual. I address unattainable and invisible processes of technological mediation in which mediation itself becomes, parallel to the overabounding surrounding excess of visual percepts, a form of inaccessibility that in its totality becomes unfathomable. Such understanding of mediation goes against simplistic notions that reduce its meaning to "that which makes communication accessible."
Not every instance of mediation can be easily accessed in a world of pervasive media. Dark technologies of media, which range from drone-mediated to nano-mediated networks, lead to partial and absolute degrees of inaccessibility. Pervasive media produces two different realms of non-access: informational and physical. Parallel to the informational obscurancies of dark data and drone-mediated surveillance, weird tales are told about the physical inaccessibility that is a property of nano levels of mediated matter. Dark mediation belongs to science-fact just as it belongs to science fiction. It pertains, simultaneously, to the combined material ecologies of culture, technology, and nature. Pervading data systems and matter itself, our dark technologies of mediation are hidden in plain sight.
Dark mediation presupposes different degrees of inaccessibility. It is, therefore, mediation that leads to partial or absolute noncommunication. This inaccessibility can belong to the realm of disappearance, in which we find the forbidden, the hidden, the forgotten--or it can belong to the absolute, the ethereal, the ontological. The materiality of media technologies and their technological dust are not only causing a lack of breath -- they are also creating a curtain of fog that obfuscates mediation.
photo - mw
_______________________Translation as visitation. Translating silence, or the inability to translate silence. A word that does not want to be translated. Translation as story. Attempting to translate grief. Translation as unanswered letter to the dead. Translation as discovery, biography, or history. Invisible translator. Translation with seams, as weave, as warp or weft, as continuity via femininity. Translation as architecture, music, painting, or poetry. Translation as inevitable failure. Translation of the body, of text into movement or gesture. Translation as transportation, transformation, reformation, performance, puppetry. A translation scrambles the syntax of daily life.BOMB 129, Fall 2014
Translation as conversation. The twenty-three pamphlets in The Cahiers Series echo each other, recombining as cells into a larger body, as, “An instant / translation of / what was splitting / into cells / or wasn't” (from Idra Novey's Clarice: The Visitor, the most recent cahier). Or as Anne Carson in Nay Rather, #21, seems to be saying to Isabella Ducrot (Text on Textile, #6): “My white paint is your broken weft of Penelope.” The series makes a story that does not want to be linear, as if rearranged by Carson's random number generator in “By Chance the Cycladic People.” It asks: Does translation spring forth from an inalienable desire to retrace our many steps to the source, to before-language—to the story as it is so many stories before they become text—so as to rediscover, each of us, our own individual paths back to language?
September 15, 2014
photo - mw
Draft 98: Canzone
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Yet this part of the work remains closest to darkness.
The knowledge of yearning will not be complete.
There is no there; it’s all degrees of here.
Cannot touch them whom we are marked by.
But they are palpable and enter this place.
Be nomadic, nomad. Wander with the wanderers,
yet safe in the room. There is at once too much
and much too little. Wait it out.
“The bit of ugly, the glitch, the torn, the sweeper, the tender,
the constant reminder that things are being made, unmade
and tended”--you are now one part of all of this.
You will be it, help it, answer and feed that
surface of cries, chirps. You will call out.
Live in empathy. Let the agony be. Comfort it.
Reject the whole that someone claims is rule.
A hole, a line, a hold, a lie, a hope,
a hype will slide you through this most dangerous spot.
Resist only rectitudes, resist the crazed
and driven knowers. Find and replace.
Though the mechanism to depict this is
called documentary, still it needs the stinging
pulse of lines. This matches that.
All “ofness” exists
for much more Of.
The beyond moves to two places: here and there.
To achieve connection,
is there just one route of passage?
There is not.
There Is Madness In This Method:
Commentary on a fragment from Deleuze and Guattari’s What Is Philosophy?
It is often said that people are indifferent to the dreams of others, that only the dreamer finds the story he is recounting of any interest; I have always been perplexed, even shocked, by such received wisdom. I usually find people’s dreams very interesting, even the seemingly banal ones where nothing strange or untoward happens. I like Deleuze and Guattari’s association of dreams and philosophy, for I find dreams very philosophical, and Deleuze’s philosophy very oniric. I used to (30 years ago!) express this by saying that Deleuze’s philosophical style incarnates a constant “pulsation between the conscious and the unconscious”, but though I still agree with the thought I find the vocabulary too academically “recognizable”.
People are indifferent to others’ thoughts, just as they are indifferent to an other’s dreams. Until some danger crops up, and their attitude changes. If the danger is to them, they panic and run, or at least give a wide berth. If the danger is to the dreamer or the thinker, people may find an unhealthy interest in observing al that from afar. But it is not the recognizable, “obvious”, dangers that count, recognition is for the indifferent. The dangers, the risks, are in the experimentation, the doing of things outside correct thought that are tied to getting one thinking. If you are not on the lookout you will perceive nothing: “they often remain hidden and barely perceptible”. Hidden in plain sight, if you are willing to use the eyes of the mind.
The scream of geometry
Translation by Linda Rugg and Andrzej Tichy
These things are on your mind as you sleep: (1) a landscape (2) two bodies (that is: one animal and one human) (3) the car. The landscape includes the rain. The car includes the bottle. The human includes the eye and the hand. The animal includes the idea of mortality. The rain includes the soldier. The bottle includes the idea of Albania. The eye includes the mother. The hand includes the wall. The idea of mortality includes the witness. The soldier includes the father, the idea of Bulgaria the names, the mother the end, the wall the moment, the witness the shot, and the shot the shot.
Animals, landscapes. Direction, journey. One hundred soldiers shooting a Romanian policeman. A Macedonian. What is your image of this? You anticipate – but what? Which words are included? One hundred professional boxers shooting an Algerian news announcer. There are deserts, oceans, mountains, lowlands, savannas. Then there are evergreen forests, broadleaf forests, cultivated soil, tundra. Finally glaciers, prairies, pastureland, tropical rain forests, and taiga. Rank these. Animals, landscapes. One hundred Lebanese shooting a Belarusian maid. An infinite number of ways of not knowing. But the number of directions is infinite only from a mathematical perspective, in reality it is finite to such an extent that it spoils the whole journey.
EyelandIt’s the sea
refusing to be worn.
Any laugh is a laugh at structure
the audacity of it
to carry off
our share. Our brevity. Only a fool, or the inspired folk
would laugh at the sea,
listen to its silver-tongued absurdities.
under your stone shoulder, holding sun up
one’s live long day.
The smell of salt haunts
a village with the
mad howling, an answer for the gibber of waves:
of broken plates
cackling at the edge of town.
The Cuttyhunk Photographs of Charlotte Mandell
with texts by Lynn Behrendt, Billie Chernicoff,
Robert Kelly, and Tamas Panitz
exploring "the flanges of words"As citizens in the commonwealth of language, we are anxious to make new work freely and easily available, using the swift herald of the internet to bring readers chapbooks and other texts they can read and download without cost. The first publication in this series is Eyeland, photos by Charlotte Mandell with texts by Lynn Behrendt, Billie Chernicoff, Robert Kelly, and Tamas Panitz.
In future weeks, we will make more texts available, including the long poem The Language of Eden by Robert Kelly.
September 12, 2014
Abandoned City1904Fernand Khnopff b. September 12, 1858An Alchemical Journal (6)Robert Kellypresented by Pierre Joris
It has been my intention to banish all learning from these pages. Only what I have stood under will serve our purposes, gentlemen. Say the blessing &, we will begin. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one being to sever the biological bonds that have held it to life & amber waves of grain. The purple mountain’s majesty (Yesod) above the fruited plain (Malkuth). Learn the colors. Defer invention. Isnt it just like a burnt-out painter to invent the telegraph. What hath man wrought indeed. I know so little of history I can almost breathe. ...(more)
mapping space in fiction: joseph frank and the idea of spatial form Aashish Kaul.
Joyce was among the first, if not the first, to upend, after the manner espoused by the Russian Formalists, the traditional hierarchy of form and content in the novelistic tradition. But unlike them, and perhaps unaware of them, Joyce here offers a more nuanced understanding of the creative process, which does not hasten to remove the artist entirely from his creation, but allows him to fade into it, becoming an invisible presence, behind or beyond or above his work though still very much there. As Joseph Frank points out in his early study from 1945, Spatial Form in Modern Literature, Joyce, in Ulysses, works with the assumption that his readers are Dubliners, intimately acquainted with Dublin life and the personal history of his characters, thereby allowing him to refrain from giving any direct information about them; information that, contrary to his intentions, would have betrayed the presence of an omniscient author. What Joyce does, instead, is to present the elements of his narrative in fragments, as they are thrown out unexplained in the course of casual conversations, or as they lie embedded in the various strata of symbolic reference, allusions to Dublin life, history, and the external events of the twenty-four hours during which the novel takes place. The factual background, which otherwise is so conveniently summarized for the reader, must be reconstructed in this case from fragments, sometimes hundreds of pages apart, scattered through the book. As a result, Frank argues, the reader is forced to read Ulysses in the manner he reads modern poetry – continually fitting fragments together and keeping allusions in mind until, by reflexive reference, he can link them to their complements. Indeed Joyce himself, although his model was Aristotle, says as much of Ulysses in a letter to Ezra Pound of 9 April 1917: ‘I am doing it, as Aristotle would say – by different means in different parts.’ Taking his cue from Sergei Eisenstein, Frank observes that the juxtaposition of disparate images in a cinematic montage automatically creates a synthesis of meaning between them, which supersedes any sense of temporal discontinuity. This is equally true for the poetry of Mallarmé, Pound, and Eliot, as it is of the modernist novels of Faulkner, Woolf, and Dos Passos. Frank extends this thesis from Joyce and Proust to Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood, but the same may well be said about a disparate list of works from Nabokov to John Hawkes, Julio Cortázar to Italo Calvino. Indeed the study of spatial form in narrative is ever more relevant today than any time in the past.
Reading Violette Leduc’s La BâtardeDeborah LevyDalkey Context N°14“At the age of five, of six, at the age of seven, I used to begin weeping sometimes without warning, simply for the sake of weeping, my eyes open wide to the sun, to the flowers. . . . I wanted to feel an immense grief inside me and it came.”La Bâtarde (1964) is a harsh title for an autobiography that is full of animals and children and plants and food and weather and girls falling in love with girls. It’s true that Violette Leduc was the illegitimate daughter of a domestic servant who was seduced by theconsumptive son of her employer, but to choose such a melodramatic and reductive title, “The Bastard,” tells us how hard it was for Leduc to escape from the way her mother described her, and in that description gave her daughter an internal crucifix on which to nail her life’s story. It’s not surprising, then, that the furnace at the center of Leduc’s autobiography, and indeed all her writing, is stoked by her ambivalent steely-eyed mother, of whom she writes, “You live in me as I lived in you.” Yet if the young Violette’s tears spill from eyes that are open to the sun, the older Violette’s words spill from the same place too. She is not blinded by her tears, nor are her eyes shut to the pleasures of being alive. Which is to say Leduc was a writer very much in the world despite the distress she suffered all her life. What’s more, she was a writer who was going to give maximum attention to the cause of her distress and create the kind of visceral language that often irritates men and makes women nervous.Foreword to Violette Leduc’s La Bâtarde Simone de BeauvoirOn Violette Leduc: Interviewing Sophie Lewisasymptote
“I am a desert talking to myself,” Violette Leduc wrote to me once. I have encountered beauties beyond reckoning in deserts. And whoever speaks to us from the depths of his loneliness speaks to us of ourselves. Even the most worldly or the most active man alive has his dense thickets where no one ventures, not even himself, but which are there: the darkness of childhood, the failures, the self-denials, the sudden distress at a cloud on the sky. To catch sight suddenly of a landscape or a human being as they exist when we are absent: it is an impossible dream which we have all cherished. If we read La bâtarde it becomes real, or nearly so. A woman is descending into the most secret part of herself and telling us about all she finds there with an unflinching sincerity, as though there were no one listening. “My case is not unique,” says Violette Leduc at the beginning of this narrative. No; but it is singular and significant. It demonstrates with exceptional clarity that a life is the reworking of a destiny by freedom.(....)
... my work on Leduc was very slow. I felt that I needed to make decisions about tense, about tone, about degree of disclosure for almost every sentence. There seemed to me to be an oscillation between an almost forensic, dispassionate detailing of thought and feeling, and a lyricism that aimed to paint feeling more passionately—yet Leduc would never intentionally sacrifice clarity or exactness. So I somehow had to marry the two impulses all the way. It was tough work.
I’m wary of translations that are guided more by the translator’s personal approach than by their feel for the text. I do occasionally turn down books for which I don’t think I have much sympathy—that’s a principle. I don’t have the flexibility (yet?) or the command of English or simply the ear to translate anything and everything. I’m much surer with some voices than with others. I think translators should have a commitment of sympathy to the texts they work on and be open about this. Of course I’m ready to work hard to capture and recreate a new or challenging voice. But there’s no gain in working against one’s personal linguistic grain.
The Day Comes to an EndFernand Khnopff 1891
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture A. O. ScottnytAdulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable. It isn’t only that patriarchy in the strict, old-school Don Draper sense has fallen apart. It’s that it may never really have existed in the first place, at least in the way its avatars imagined. Which raises the question: Should we mourn the departed or dance on its grave?
An Investigation Into the Reappearance of Walter Benjamin Adam Leith GollnerHazlittHistory tells us that the influential German literary critic died more than seventy years ago. So how is it then that Benjamin is now out doing lectures and has published a new book?So much of therapy – and I use that term precisely – is about making other people comfortable and society feel safe. Analysis differs in that it suspects that accommodation is the problem the analysand suffers from. - larval subjects
September 11, 2014
Carel Weightb. September 10, 1908Four Poems Alan GilbertconjunctionsAllegories of Art, Politics, and PoetryAlan Gilberte-fluxDumb Luck
We’ve come so far, and yet we’ve barely left the porch. Still, there are children involved, and monsters to defeat, some of which are inside me. Luckily, they’re susceptible to spells resting our shrunken heads on a mushroom blooming everywhere else amid the knife play banned along with opposable thumbs. Each new era gets shorter and shorter. Soon they won’t bother to call our names, as every desire exceeds its object, even in the dark, and I’m a machine of consequence, such as Operation Empty Candy Wrappers is in full effect. Right here, right now. There is no other place I want to be. Unless we’re talking about a medevac. Or maybe just more meds and a refrain that goes hurt, hurt, hurt I took on tour with me to sell T-shirts along with a round of hangman, because when a hum tickles between the teeth, a poem is close to being finished.more poems by Alan Gilbert 123 Alan Gilbert in the Boston Review
In a world where a fundamental strategy of ruling ideologies is to make themselves appear natural, the absurd can be its own form of critique. “Allegories are, in the realm of thoughts, what ruins are in the realm of things,” Walter Benjamin writes in The Origin of German Tragic Drama.6 Allegories need time to unfold, but all time is scented with death—to use a description in the spirit of Benjamin’s analysis of the German baroque. The danger with allegory is that it so easily turns into myth when lifted out of time and history. Hence Benjamin’s desire to keep allegory directed toward death and ruins.
WaitingCarel Weightpoems by Romanian poet Andra Rotaru translated by Florin BicanAsymptoteThe Voice
today I’ll pretend: every touch is voluntarily guided. we’re leaving behind the abandoned territories I cannot walk straight. we are getting into each other’s way, you laugh and your jaws then lock back. we’re seemingly serene, I’ve got to walk straight: you can walk. each of our inclinations, the most crooked and cleanest of them, the wide-open mouth of a child twisted by atrocious language.
The SilenceCarel Weight 1965
The Naysayers Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and the critique of pop culture. Alex Ross
The Internet threatens final confirmation of Adorno and Horkheimer’s dictum that the culture industry allows the “freedom to choose what is always the same.” Champions of online life promised a utopia of infinite availability: a “long tail” of perpetually in-stock products would revive interest in non-mainstream culture. One need not have read Astra Taylor and other critics to sense that this utopia has been slow in arriving. Culture appears more monolithic than ever, with a few gigantic corporations—Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon—presiding over unprecedented monopolies. Internet discourse has become tighter, more coercive. Search engines guide you away from peculiar words. (“Did you mean . . . ?”) Headlines have an authoritarian bark (“This Map of Planes in the Air Right Now Will Blow Your Mind”). “Most Read” lists at the top of Web sites imply that you should read the same stories everyone else is reading. Technology conspires with populism to create an ideologically vacant dictatorship of likes. This, at least, is the drastic view. Benjamin’s heirs have suggested how messages of dissent can emanate from the heart of the culture industry, particularly in giving voice to oppressed or marginalized groups. Any narrative of cultural regression must confront evidence of social advance: the position of Jews, women, gay men, and people of color is a great deal more secure in today’s neo-liberal democracies than it was in the old bourgeois Europe. (The Frankfurt School’s indifference to race and gender is a conspicuous flaw.) The late Jamaican-born British scholar Stuart Hall, a pioneer of cultural studies, presented a double-sided picture of youth pop, defining it, in an essay co-written with Paddy Whannel, as a “contradictory mixture of the authentic and the manufactured.” In the same vein, the NPR pop critic Ann Powers wrote last month about listening to Nico & Vinz’s slickly soulful hit “Am I Wrong” in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and catching the song’s undercurrents of unease. “Pop is all about commodification: the soft center of what adapts,” Powers writes. “But sometimes, when history collides with it, a simple song gains dimension.”
There is no telling how Adorno and Benjamin might have negotiated such contemporary labyrinths. Perhaps, on a peaceful day, they would have accepted the compromise devised by Fredric Jameson, who has written that the “cultural evolution of late capitalism” can be understood “dialectically, as catastrophe and progress all together.” These implacable voices should stay active in our minds. Their dialectic of doubt prods us to pursue connections between what troubles us and what distracts us, to see the riven world behind the seamless screen. “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism”: Benjamin’s great formula, as forceful as a Klieg light, should be fixed as steadily on pop culture, the ritual apparatus of American capitalism, as it has been on the art works of the European bourgeoisie. Adorno asked for only so much. Above all, these figures present a model for thinking differently, and not in the glib sense touted by Steve Jobs. As the homogenization of culture proceeds apace, as the technology of surveillance hovers at the borders of our brains, such spaces are becoming rarer and more confined. I am haunted by a sentence from Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves”: “One cannot live outside the machine for more perhaps than half an hour.”
Carel Weightwith Arseny Zhilyaev, Jonas Staal, Hassan Khan, Miran Mohar, Sotirios Bahtsetzis, Eduardo Cachucho, Bilal Khbeiz, Suzana Milevska, Keti Chukhrov, Knut Åsdam, Edit András, and Ilya BudraitskiHope in a Hopeless SituationIlya Budraitskistranslated from the Russian by Thomas CampbellWhy is there no antiwar movement in Russia? Why are so few people willing to take to the streets to publicly accuse the government of furthering the war in Eastern Ukraine? People who supported the March 15 peace march in downtown Moscow still pose these questions to each other. Their numbers are constantly shrinking, but the point is that even those people who still support the spirit of protest no longer have any confidence that protest can change anything. If the new war (or prewar) footing into which Russian society is sinking deeper has a point of consensus that unites different social and cultural strata, it is the smothering, eerie awareness of society’s total powerlessness in the face of interstate conflict. The flood of news has overwhelmed the already fragile system of coordinates used by individual citizens. Their psyches cannot withstand the strain, surrendering to the unknowable, opaque logic of events, a logic seemingly less and less amenable to anyone’s specific will. “It is not the mind that controls the war, but the war that controls the mind,” wrote Leon Trotsky about a war whose start one hundred years ago has been somewhat timidly commemorated this summer.
September 09, 2014
Léon De Smet
d. September 9, 1966
Passion for Solitude
Born: September 9, 1908 Translated by Geoffrey Brock
All things become islands before my senses,
which accept them as a matter of course: a murmur of silence.
All things in this darkness—I can know all of them,
just as I know that blood flows in my veins.
The plain is a great flowing of water through plants,
a supper of all things. Each plant, and each stone,
lives motionlessly. I hear my food feeding my veins
with each living thing that this plain provides.
The night doesn’t matter. The square patch of sky
whispers all the loud noises to me, and a small star
struggles in emptiness, far from all foods,
from all houses, alien. It isn’t enough for itself,
it needs too many companions. Here in the dark, alone,
my body is calm, it feels it’s in charge.
photo - mw
peripateticism in robert walser
3:amTo walk, we have to lean forward, lose our balance, and begin to fall. We let go constantly of the previous stability, falling all the time, trusting that we will find a succession of new stabilities with each step.Robert Walser’s work is defined by the action of walking. A walk is an attempt to remain upright while continually moving forward. So is an essay. This essay proposes to take two large steps (made up of many smaller steps). It will attempt to define the concepts behind walking in Walser’s work, and then show the where and how of those concepts in several examples of Walser’s writing. It will attempt to remain upright. It will attempt to move forward. It may stride. It may tiptoe. It may circle back or zig-zag. It may even lose its balance. It will attempt to catch itself.
— Robyn Skynner
Walking, among other things, is also an act of self-effacement: while out on a walk, one begins to lose oneself in one’s surroundings. Walter Benjamin notices this in Walser’s writing: “Everything seems lost; a surge of words gushes forth in which each sentence only has the task of obliterating the previous one” (emphasis added).
This self-effacement is related to Walser’s ideas of servility and becoming zero. Instead of losing oneself in one’s surroundings on that walk, one realizes one’s smallness in comparison. In his essay “Unrelenting Style,” Martin Walser (no relation) not only describes how this realization works, but also that it becomes part of Robert Walser’s writing practice: “Instead of letting go, a person has oppressed himself a little. And lo and behold, he has a much clearer sense of himself as his own oppressor. . . . this becomes method.” Elias Canetti understands this servility (for what is servility if not self-oppression?) in terms of the fear evinced above by Kudszus: “His work is an unflagging attempt at hushing his fear. He escapes everywhere before too much fear gathers in him (his wandering life), and, to save himself, he often changes into something subservient and small.”
Another aspect of this smallness is Walser’s use of bricolage. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the word bricolage as being rooted in the French word bricoler, which means “to do small chores” (emphasis added). Bricoler, in turn, has a Middle French sense of “to go to and fro.” The word bricolage itself means “construction or . . . creation from a diverse range of materials or sources,” and carries the connotation of “use of what is at hand.” Peripatetic literature is by necessity bricolage in that it is always appropriating what the eye sees next. Peter Bichsel has the following to say about Walser as bricoleur and walker: “He takes whatever he happens to need at the moment”; “[h]e doesn’t invent walking, it’s quite simply what’s nearest at hand—when he wants to describe himself he has to describe a walker.” And in a much quoted, but never fully translated prose piece, “Eine Art Erzählung,” Walser has this to say about himself: “If I am well-disposed, that’s to say, feeling good, I tailor, cobble, weld, plane, knock, hammer, or nail together lines.”
Léon De Smet
Poems by Cesare Pavese
Translated by Richard Jackson
Numéro Cinq >The Boy That Was In Me
I want to know why the grave of evening settled in the meadow.
Perhaps it was because I collapsed, exhausted from sunstroke,
Pretending to be some wounded Indian. In those days the boy
Tried to escape loneliness by seeking models for ancestors,
And drew his imagined painted arrows and shook his lance.
The evening sky itself was colored with war paint.
Every day the air was so fresh, and the aroma indeed was
So plush, so deep, from sprays of flowers that were also
Reddish gray, and then suddenly the clouds and sky
Caught fire among the early stars. The boy turned
To the village feeling he should preserve it by celebrating it.
But the sunset dulled his senses. It seemed best to squint
So he could enjoy and embrace what he saw. As if immersed in water.
.....................................................Why translate? Kenneth Rexroth, one of the most influential translators, writes in his essay, “The Poet as Translator,”– “The writer who can project himself into exultation of another learns more than the craft of words. He learns the stuff of poetry.” Translation is at the heart of poetry– a poet like Rilke writes in his “Ninth Elegy” that when the poetreturns from the mountain slopes into the valley,Rilke’s notion that words only metaphorically stand for ideas, sensations and feelings suggests that they are themselves a form of translation. Of course, this could lead us quickly into a maze of problems and suggest that even a poem in our own language must be “translated.” What is at issue in translating poetry is the very nature of poetry, and the very nature of language. The main problems and debates that arise concerning the translation of poetic works occur when one realizes to what extent the essence of a poem lies, as Rilke and Rexroth suggest, beyond the words per se.
he brings, not a handful of earth, unsayable to others, but instead
some word he has gained, some pure word, the yellow and blue
gentian. Perhaps we are here in order to say: house,
bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window–
at most: column, tower….But to say them, you must understand,
oh to say them more intensely than the Things themselves
ever dreamed of existing.
My personal history of ideas by poet-translators on their art is a far ranging one that extends from the Romans like Catullus who saw it as a “combat” with the original, to poets like Petrarch and Samuel Johnson who judged a version by its effect in the so called “target language,” to Robert Lowell’s and Alexander Pope’s loose “imitations.” I know that some of these practices would startle if not horrify most of my language teachers. Yet even a respected academic like Wilhelm Humbolt, in his introduction to his translation of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, says: “the more a translation strives toward fidelity, the more it ultimately deviates from the original, for in attempting to imitate refined nuances and avoid simple generalities it can, in fact, only provide new and different nuances.” This is perhaps why a poet like Jane Hirshfield, also a translator from Japanese, writes: “Translation’s very existence challenges our understanding of what a literary text is.” I think what has intrigued me about the various possibilities of various kinds of translation is precisely that challenge; it offers a way to understand my native language better, to pay more conscious attention to kinds of detail that I approach on a more subconscious level in writing my own poems, and to appreciate some relationships between my own poems and those of poets in another language with whom I have found a kindred spirit.
photo - mw
September 08, 2014
The road and the treeAndré Derain d. September 8, 1954TWO LINES Online Center for the Art of TranslationAbstract By Hsia Yü Translated by Steve Bradbury Leaping past “the calamity of love and the aloneness of not loving” and all manner of other for instances I meander back to the corner grocery and see five syllables on a wall—“Fresh Cuttlefish Roe”—then off I go again to the arts and craft supply store to buy 50 oil pastels 50 individually wrapped colors that each emit a tiny sigh as it passes through the register I listen to the sound of each color passing the sorrow love gives rise to is quite enough to sway me. The sorrow alone can make a person feel quite extraordinary can make a person far more capable of coping with those problems that come up smitten with the whole kit full of delicious maliciousness unexpectedly expressive (how the words carry us forward) our story is cut short caught up in someone else’s for if we are to presuppose that every single person is the best possible casting choice to play the lead in his or her own story ...
The Bagpiper at CamiersAndré Derain c.1911
bartleby politics: on disavowal, derangement, and drugs Jake Nabasny3:amAs I lay in this bed, slightly dizzy with a minor hangover, I am reminded of Marcel Proust in his cork-lined room. He was always a sick child, but later in life his illness restricted him to his bed for all but a single hour of the night. He could only leave his room at that unique hour of the night when the late-night drunks were sleeping and the early-morning workers had not yet woken up. The air was moist and easy to breathe even though his illness was intensifying. Despite being so reclusive, Proust loved to throw parties in absentia. With his hour of freedom, he would visit the halls in which parties were thrown. Constantly feverish, he walked around in a gaudy coat with a fur-lined hood; Proust was an Eskimo in a desert. What better hero could there be to begin this meditation than one who experienced all kinds of displacements, dispersions, delays, derangements, and departures? When many read Proust they see a plethora of anchors, like graveyards of old nautical vessels that have not moved in the past fifty years and probably will not move for another fifty. A history is built and links to the past are constantly made. One imagines the entirety of the Search to be consisting of traces and recollections. This could not be more wrong. Proust’s brilliance lies precisely in his explication of the opposite of this interpretation. What connects Proust to his grandmother’s boots is not remembrance or nostalgia, but delirium. The very proliferation of signs and the impossibility of an absolute reading (viz. an absolute origin) is what the Search truly discovers. In other words, it is not the destination that the reader discovers at the end of the Search, but searching itself. Proust introduces a new polarity, one that is usually ignored, but more often miscomprehended. Anchors and memory define one pole, while the other is designated by wild oceans and delirium. According to this framework, one can begin to understand state violence, the prohibition of drugs, Western epistemology, human rights, behavioral health clinics, and several other politically-charged topics. Proust provides a new revolutionary strategy by re-conceptualizing power structures. Following this line of thought may be enlightening for some, but for those to whom it speaks directly, it will be intoxicating. At this point we must depart from the Proust anecdote (which is also an antidote) and turn to a web of texts that contribute to a general theory of disavowal.
Lucas Klein translating Li Shangyinthe inaugural issue of Drunken Boat’s translation sectionUntitled Time to meet is hard to find and parting, too, is hard The east wind has no force and a hundred flowers fail Unless spring silkworms reach their death silk cannot be spun When waxy candles turn to ash will tears begin to dry In morning’s mirror only worried about her temples turning white She recites at night while I’m sure she feels the chill glow of the moon From this place to Mount Penglai is just a little road Bluegreen bird indulge me please and spy a little glance
Effect of Sun on the WaterAndré Derain1906Lightning Storm Mind: Pre-Ancientist Meditations Max Cafard exquisite corpse Heed the Word of Our Ancestor! The Way is obscure, but it is the Way. The Logos is the Way. This Way is obviously obscure and obscurely obvious. The Naturing of Nature is Lightning Storm Mind. Awakening Mind has a Lightning Storm Nature. Thus stroke Heraclitus. Our Obscure Ancestor taught that “you can’t step into the same river twice.” Translation, at the risk of falling into the icy waters of unsalutary clarity: “Step into the river!” “For two and a half millennia, poor creatures will learn to forget how to step into the river. For two and a half millennia, poor creatures will learn to step only into their ideas.” Will these poor creatures survive all this unlearning? Will the river survive all this forgetting? The world is in fragments. The world was born whole, but everywhere it is in fragments. The world was born whole and not whole, but everywhere it is in fragments.
In short, awakened being, being awakened, is surregional exploration! We become Hidden Nature uncovering Hidden Nature, both having been buried under layers of brute Reality. Yet, brute reality prevails. As Our Ancestor predicted, in Late Civilizationism, we murder to dissect. Murderous clarity reigns over the obscurity of life, the vagueness of the Way. Dissectarianism emerged with the religious fundamentalism and obsessive literalistic reductionism of sixteenth-century protomodernity. Dissectarianism triumphed with the archic and agoric fundamentalism of political and economistic pararationality, raison d’état and raison d’achat. Dissectarianism perfected itself ideologically in dissectarian analytical technological pararationality, and its Evil Twin, dissectarian analytical philosophical pararationality. We are left with the spiritual desolation of dystopian dissectarian paranormality on Evil-Twin Anti-Earth. Still, the hidden remains hidden, and continues, with imperious subtlety, to unhide itself. Our Ancestor warned that “unless you expect the unexpected you will never find it.” Or worse, that we will find it without finding it. We all have a Ghost Problem.
September 07, 2014
Self portrait in a bamboo mirrorÉdouard Vuillard
1868 – 1940To tell the truth, if painting and my work have never so genuinely interested me, I'm still of the opinion that existence itself, and the relationship people have with each other or God, if you will, are the main thing, the rest is only consequence, the clothing which has taken its folds according to our gestures....
from a longer quotation at flowerville
Conversations & Silencedark ecologies
Every day we wake to absence, to transparency
Surrounding us like thoughts of death or ancestors;
Something rare dips its powers ladling our minds,
Energies of other times rising with each cupful of wine.
Heartbeat and spirit, thump of that drum, leather clowns;
Rubble and hoof-prints on clouds, conversation
Of lost memories delving along the riverfront lodge.
Old battles with the fathers have settled down now,
and we wander off from that marsh-grounded silence as ghosts.
Our eyes see now what is in ruins: dead to us in cracked poems.
The Lamentations sing to us of lost greatness among bones,
And fragments of voices echoing along the edges of darkness like boasts.
~ poetry of love, death, and laughter
b. Sept. 6, 1836
Theory, A City: Introduction
lemon houndThe feminist writers of Montréal have altered their city irrevocably. When women write about and from the cities they live in, they are transforming the material city into a web of possibility and risk. The description of the city bends back on itself — it not only represents, it opens up a site for the political imagination. Through the fictive and theoretical act, the city is re-inscribed as a space for radical otherness. Montréal is more than its official civic history. In this volume, it figures as a character, a velocity — its streets and cafés and bars are exerting forcefields. It’s a gathering of urgencies, errancies, overflowing critiques, pausing to make in the movement of women’s language what the political economy has disallowed.
The feminist consciousness that Nicole Brossard recognized in the writers she invited to the Sunday theory group in 1983 — what supported it, what permitted it to develop? Why do certain cities at certain times become the stages for intense social and cultural transformation? I think of early 20th century Paris, the city that was a home for so many of the women expatriate writers who have become the crucial figures of modernist literary and intellectual culture — Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy, Mary Butts, Sylvia Beach, Nathalie Barney. From my admiring distance, and across the duration of many friendships, Montréal feels to me to be a place of comparable intellectual generosity and intensity. What generates and supports the networks of friendship, argument, and intellectual collaboration that have caused 20th century women’s writing to consistently develop and strengthen as an urban, cultural, and political force in Montréal and elsewhere? Thinking about and reading the work of these Montréal women now, 25 years later, I am brought to the realization that feminism is one of the scintillating companions of the culture of cities. Feminist culture, discourse and resistance has shaped contemporary urban experience and urban space. Certain writers have claimed the city for feminism, to insist that any city is the vibrant space inflected by women’s voices. There is no city without our voices.
Flowers on a Mantlepiece in Clayes
OF THE ALWAYS Part Foura series currently unfolding at Mill Of Particulars: The bLog of Robert Kelly
a mind without a zipper
the purse-seine savages the sea
and there were words in it
this time, Antietam,
this time Actium
History is a lizard basking in the sun.
An Alchemical Journal (4)
presented by Pierre Joris(....)
So many birds of morning. Elephant on the desk. To each unit of the biological world belongs its proper gesture. We call it lucus, ‘grove,’ a non lucendo, from the fact that it is not bright inside it. Dark birds. The traveller asked for an empty glass. One tusk is longer than the other. In a poem of Rene Char’s we read of deujc pointes semblables, sun shining on two like tips, of the horn of the bull, of the sword that kills him. I have kept him all these years at the door, waiting for one to become empty.
Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World
reviewed by Cara DaggettTimothy Morton’s Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World is a queasily vertiginous quest to synthesize the still divergent fields of quantum theory (the weirdness of small objects) and relativity (the weirdness of big objects) and insert them into philosophy and art, which he notes are far behind ontologically speaking. Morton’s wager is that for the first time, we in the Anthropocene are able to see snapshots of hyperobjects, and that these intimations more or less will force us to undergo a radical reboot of our ontological toolkit and (finally) incorporate the weirdness of physics. You know that cozy hobbit world where people tend gardens and think stars are beautiful and flush their excrement into the ‘away’? Well, that world is a fantasy, and now that we can see hyperobjects, that world is at an end, hence Morton’s subtitle. Morton encourages us to adopt an object-oriented ontology (OOO), and OOO tells us that “thinking and art and political practice should simply relate directly to nonhumans”, which is actually not so simple. But more on that later.Society and Space
So what is a hyperobject? Morton acknowledges that big objects have always already been there, nudging those who would listen toward an ontological reboot, but it has been possible for most people to ignore this. No longer. Morton argues that the ‘hyperobjects’ of the Anthropocene, objects like global warming, climate or oil that are “massively distributed in time and space relative to humans”, have become newly visible to humans, largely as a result of the very mathematics and statistics that helped to create these disasters. As we glimpse them through our reams of data, “[h]yperobjects compel us to think ecologically, and not the other way around”.
September 05, 2014
Delphi Antinous unearthed Temple of Apollo 1893e-flux 56
I propose, instead of trauma, to talk about catastrophe. The difference between the two is that one cannot really recover after a catastrophe, as one normally recovers after a trauma. Catastrophe is meta-traumatic. It happens absolutely: at the beginning there is—there was—always already the end. Catastrophe defines the borders of a collective and the true sense of what we call history. By catastrophe I mean, of course, what people do to other people or to nature, and what nature or gods do to people: wars, genocide, bomb explosions, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, but also certain legendary events, like the expulsion of humans from Paradise, the Flood, and of course, the Apocalypse. Above all, I am thinking about the catastrophe of one’s own existence, this apocalypse of the now—the irredeemable nature of a single present moment. You cannot change anything; the worst is what just happened: your beloved just died, your child just died, a giraffe in the zoo just died, god died, too, you yourself just died or woke up in your bed in the body of an uncanny insect, like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa. As opposed to what is usually said, catastrophe’s time is not in the future, but in the present, which we can only grasp as the past, because it flows, just as the waters of the Flood: time itself is catastrophic. Catastrophe is what already happened, no matter how long ago—it happened in prehistory, or it’s happening right now, although people are still expecting some bigger, ultimate catastrophe in the future, as if the previous ones did not really count. I want to make this point as clear as possible. Our collective imagination, overwhelmed by all kinds of pictures and scenarios of a future final collapse—be it another world war, Armageddon, an alien invasion, an epidemic or a pandemic, a zombie virus, a robot uprising, an ecological or natural catastrophe—is nothing but projections of this past-present. We project onto the future what we cannot endure as something which already occurred, or which is happening now. We still believe that the worst is yet to come—it is a perspective, but not a reality, and therefore our reality is still not that bad. A fear of the future and anxiety about some indefinite event (“we will all die”) is easier to suffer than a certain, irreparable, and irreversible horror that has just happened (“we are all already dead”).
"Castle Engelbourg (Thann)"1859Adolphe Braun 1811-1877
Psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva in Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection argues that the abject horrors of war, however stomach-churning they are, have the capacity to bring us to what Lacan called – The Real, i.e. that which is authentic and true, especially in relation to our own self/being and the infinite. Facing a bloodied, mutilated corpse can produce a spasm within the deep core of one’s being, accompanied by the breakdown of everyday meaning, which leaves one literally beside oneself. This primal physical and emotional response catapults one into a primordial realm of existence, where there’s an acute awareness of human smallness, insignificance, fragility, yet uniqueness, mystery, beauty. Kristeva also argues that oppressive and inhumane institutions, which wield power in the modern world, are built upon the notion that man must be protected from the abject (hence sanitisation of Death). By facing the abject face-to face one tears away the support of these institutions and embarks on the first movement that can truly undermine them.
Reinventing emancipation in the 21st century: [pdf] the pedagogical practices of social movements. Sara C Motta and Ana Margarida EstevesThis issue of Interface aims to make a contribution to the ongoing politics of knowledge of those marginalized, made illegible and spoken-over by the contemporary geopolitics of capitalist coloniality. It engages with the rich heritages of popular pedagogical practices, subaltern philosophies and critical theorisations by entering into dialogue with the experiences, projects and practices of social movements who are at the forefront of developing a new emancipatory politics of knowledge for the 21st century. In this introduction we situate historically, politically and theoretically the centrality of the pedagogical in both the learning of hegemonic forms of life, social relationships and subjectivities but also in practices of unlearning these and learning new ones. We identify the general themes that emerge from the rich cornucopia of experiences discussed in the issue as a contribution to the mapping and nurturing of the ecology of counter-politics of knowledges flourishing across the globe. Our intention is that this dialogue and systematisation will itself constitute a pedagogical intervention which can facilitate and inspire experimentation, reflection and collective learning by social movements, communities in struggle, and activist-scholars. We hope that this issue of Interface can play a performative utopic function visibilising the ‘others’ of capitalist coloniality and posing open questions which support the flourishing of multiple grounds of epistemological becoming.Interface volume 6 issue 1. Movement pedagogiesInterface a journal for and about social movements
Entrance to yard Winton, Minnesota1937Russell LeePhotogrammarYale University a platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing 170,000 historic photographs The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information (FSA-OWI)
Monoculture beer no more Other poetries from Ireland Christodoulos Makris
Driven by a few committed individuals, there begins to emerge a vital and disparate counter-scene that takes its tune from a newly honed political restlessness. Increasingly, writers who have entered the workings of “Irish poetry” from elsewhere are making their mark with hard-to-ignore activities and statements, while boundaries between poetic practices, genres, interests, and art forms are being — slowly — erased. Political writing does not only take the form of spoken word anthems or performance pieces looking for consensus. Despite much work that still relies on a traditional understanding of what a poem is or how it may come about, with a reluctance to experiment with processes and interrogate forms as well as the minutiae of language and how it’s employed persisting, a stirring has begun.
SeptemberShiko Munakata b. September 5, 1903
September 04, 2014
photo - mw
And we will walk in solitude, sharing our solitude. We’ll walk, empty solitudes, having renounced everything.Nietzsche And The Burbs
And we will meet other solitudes, other walkers-for-nothing. Other departers-for-wider-shores.
And thought will rest inside you. The capacity to think. And you will be part of the springtime, of the blooming spring. Part of the summer.
And every moment will be incomparable because every previous moment is forgotten. And we will see things we have never seen. And beauty will announce itself again, as for the first time.
And the real world will push upwards through our walking feet.
And we will be alone, but with each other, and with the earth.
Mill Of ParticularsAn Alchemical Journal (3)
presented by Pierre Joris
Being in this city under the sea was submitting himself almost to Ordeal, a testing of a Self (which did not perhaps need to be tested) in the midst of the irrelevant, the unnecessary, the irritant, the abominable. It was a sorrow to be here, to turn from what was his, the terrene airy life he lived in the heart of, to put himself in this fix, the half-day journey down, the being-there in the hopeless knowledge of having to ungo the whole way to get back where he had been, no further, except the furtherness of self-betrayal; yes, that was it he thought (his pen blurring in the hydrosphere), in the destructive element immerse (he quoted), yes, that was it, his joy had been to taste of self-betrayal, see darkingly how far he could go in without destroying the self (....)
The bLog of Robert Kelly
Coastal Landscape in Moonlight
b. September 4, 1852
On Harvey Shapiro's 'A Momentary Glory'Norman FinkelsteinFor William Carlos Williams
1924 - 2013
My rhetoric imagines you as your rhetoric says you.
You are in the city, drinking coffee,
a morning break. The poem in your head
is neighborly to all you see. Those who
sit next to you are not foreign to your lines.
Impure identities, they fill your poem with essences.
You do not build tombs for posterity
but open spaces where we can breathe
intelligence and the pain of love.
The bread of life is what we die to taste.
I taste it in your poems.A Momentary Glory: Last Poems is a sustained act of inspired writing, the passionate outpouring of a brilliantly gifted poet in the face of age, illness, and mortality. The language is charged with unprecedented gravitas. Yet the work is as edgy as ever, and Harvey never abandons the supple, even jazzy wit that is central to his style. The verbal economy, the razor-sharp lineation, the perfectly timed presentation of detail that are his trademarks — all are subtly at work here, never flashy, still in the service of a poetic sensibility in search of what Harvey always called “the way,” from halakha, the Hebrew term for the Law. ...(more)A Momentary Glory
Harvey Shapiro; Norman Finkelstein, ed.
Wesleyan University Press
photo - mw
The Zero-Sum Game of Perpetual War
One could posit that what’s happening in Eastern Europe offers a look-see into the nature of the groups that are calling the shots in the United States. Do they care that their destabilization program in Ukraine provokes a nuclear-armed country or enables neo-Nazis to assume vital positions in government? So far almost 2,600 civilians have been killed in the ongoing humanitarian crisis. While the corporate press does its best to create the impression of a “shining city upon a hill” which aims to “spread democracy” and conduct “humanitarian intervention[v],” a different sort of world power is clearly visible to those who look carefully.
The appalling savagery of radical groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reflects the appalling savagery of American military incursions. Or perhaps the collective consciousness of the United States has already forgotten over hundreds thousand dead Iraqi civilians [vii] and the long trail of drone induced “bug-splats.” Ruthless men like Genghis Khan didn’t vanish into history books. Oh no, they’re still around. Some of them are right here in the good old U.S.A. It’s just that they’ve replaced scepters with hand-tailored suits and have traded thrones for seats on corporate boards.
Who Are Those Guys?
So just who are the “deciders”? American philosopher John Dewey answered this question in one crisp sentence[xiv]: “Politics is the shadow cast on society by big business.”