28 February 2010
Walking around a city looking for a lunch place (w a poet ergo a poetry dream tell him later) he ran a bit ahead and went through a pair of doors. I entered the doors and he was running down a long hallway and then jumping through what looked like a glass window at the entrance to the dining room. Upon inspection, there was no window but he had jumped onto the counter where the cash register was, had broken several glass pitchers of water, and had gone to wash up. The waitresses were laughing as it was a tradition, and I told them I was the barefoot guy who came with the guy who broke the glass.
27 February 2010
I can only find one minute and five seconds of footage of Colombian cumbia legend Lucho Bermúdez, but what a minute and five seconds it is: in addition to the first ten seconds of dancing, the vocalists appear on a merry-go-round near the end. I believe the recording is a rebroadcast from a performance some time in the mid-1950's, after Bermúdez returned from Mexico. 'Tis a shame there's not more footage of the great vocalists he employed but maybe something will pop up later.
26 February 2010
25 February 2010
Fado Menor Do Porto
The wind blows too hard for me to rest
something in my mind is going to stop
perhaps this soul thing thinks life is real
perhaps this calm thing makes my soul live
a harsh wind blows, I am afraid to think
my mystery deepens when lost in meditation
wind that passes and forgets, dust that rises and falls
alas if I could know what goes on within me
Fadista: Camané, from Carlos Saura's Fados
23 February 2010
Creeley had rented a fenced-in beach cottage and I was told to stop by when I wished, but I was hesitant to go. It was getting near sunset, I hadn't gone to the beach, and I decided to enter the beach through Creeley's because any other way would be a long trek. I peered in through the gate and there were people sunning in the courtyard. I entered and walked by them and then into a dining room where Bob, Ron, and seven others had dined on grilled fish, climbing onto a table to exit through a casement window to the sand. Opening the window crushed what remained of the cakes on the dessert tray. A woman said, "That's Ian, he hasn't been to the beach all day." Returning from the beach, my father was there to tell me that a guy he had lunch with on Tuesdays killed himself and that I wasn't helping out enough.
17 February 2010
I don't like digital cameras because I like to try to remember my visual experience while being attentive to my present experience. Once in a while I use manual controls because it makes me think about the light rather than have a machine do it. One of the few times I took photos was in Brixton when at least one man chased me and threatened to take my film, and a few Amerindian women blessed themselves when I photographed them, which you shouldn't do, and I take their side. However, I broke down and purchased a used digital camera for practical reasons and it has ten pictures from Israel on it:
I assume this is Tel Aviv:
I'm not sure what this is
I assume this is Tel Aviv:
I'm not sure what this is
14 February 2010
Instead of a museum guide I requested a man in a 19th Century military uniform that would bow at the vertical stretches of the frame of whatever I looked at: twice for a painting and four times for a triptych. Eventually he refused to bow to one side of a collage commissioned by Bourdieu and launched into a speculation of the effect that would have on my psyche, and when I offered my interpretation of the gesture he then bowed to it to get me to stop.
10 February 2010
No sooner is the death of the Bo language reported that we get a chorus of corporate news columnists sounding the "bye bye Bo, don't let the door hit you on the way out" theme, with the Manchester Guardian linking to like minded arguments. What's the point of the economic dominance of the King's English if you can't buy supportive linguists, but even so the Guardian has to misrepresent the arguments between linguists on the value of endangered languages. Linguistics in English is well suited to analysing specific phenomena and, when the occasion calls for it, inventing methodology to support a pre-existing conclusion. What must be called a partisan backlash against the foundations of linguistics supported by a plurality focuses on two areas of refutation: that language has an insignificant effect on cognition, and that actual differences in languages are minimal. On the second point, the star child is Chomsky, whose belief in universal grammar is matched by his attempt to reform it politically while he maintains there's no relation between the two and scoffs at post-structuralism for conflating linguistics with sociology and economics rather than adopt his compartmentalized system. Saussure disputes the first point and Derrida the second, as does Foucault, a disagreement which would have made a better argument with Chomsky if it never in fact came up. Lévi-Strauss adds to his agreement with Saussure the effect of language on the organization and traditions of tribes. It would seem to take a lot of tricky logic to separate linguistic changes from changes in lifestyle, as well as being completely blind to what's happening, and also to not note that people are in the course of this linguistic change, rapidly moving from an ecologically sustainable existence to the unsustainable existence brought about by technology. The change happens more quickly in the flat plains than in the resilient, arid mountains or the thick jungle, hence the lifestyle of surviving Amerindians in the US became Westernized in the 19th Century. Art is full of emulation of the 'primitive,' and when Picasso calls African sculpture 'a weapon,' he increases the function and expressive potential of the object. Joyce understood this as well as anyone, this which no one completely understands, creating in Ulysses what can be seen as among other things a drama based on the effect of existing uses of language on cognition and creating characters to illustrate (also among other things) his own relation to the English language which is the substance being sculpted by the writer. The second drama accompanies the emergence of the unified Europe, in which language is learned for assimilation when isolation is exploited, which brings with it a Nationalistic inclination associated with the native language, and on a literary level, his modernist cosmopolitanism is contrasted with the methods of Yeats. Gaelic and Latin exist as romanticism belonging to another age, being processed by the analysis and propaganda of the Germanic English. English is an analytical drum surrounded by romance languages. Guardian says that attributing thought patterns to language is "an almost mystical idealisation of Native Americans." No, you don't want to romanticize anyone. I see the conflicts between the languages built into the languages, with English attempting to co opt and overcome romanticism, Keats or no Keats, just as German has held firm to the Latin tradition, and art maintaining a representational relationship to the conflict. Galeano quips: "It seems Paul Gauguin, a rather absentminded fellow, put his name on a couple of sculptures from the Congo. The error was contagious. From then on Picasso, Modigliani, Klee, Giacometti, Ernst, Moore, and many other European artists made the same mistake, and did so with alarming frequency. Pillaged by its colonial masters, Africa would never know how responsible it was for the most astonishing achievements in twentieth century European painting and sculpture." What this (perhaps humorously and deliberately) misses is the well-acknowledged debt these artists paid to their precursors. When Breton and Barnes stack the works side by side, the law courts break up the display, while the African works first seen by Picasso and the rest in Paris have been relocated to the Quay Branly, arranged randomly rather than be separated by culture, except that they're separated from the European works and the signatures on them.
09 February 2010
There was a movie I snuck into which wasn't a movie but live theater in a mulitplex which starred Jane Birkin as a sort of healer whose entrance is anticipated by a group of actors in a seating area facing the audience's seating area. Rufus Sewell was heavily made up. Jane asked for a sandbag to be placed on her shoulders so that she could lean back, she was a seer and she had walked a long way to get to the seating area. I would be pleased if someone took the idea of staging live theater in a strip mall multiplex but I can't vouch for the economics of such a thing. I only saw the end of the play, and I was going to reenter but we left the cinema-house to get a soda and then my companion changed money in the street, making change in the same currency, a game in which the person who can't make change for the smaller coins is stuck with the difference but no one was getting ripped off this time. This saves me from having to visit the cinema-house, as I am disinclined to see the 3D or the other stuff. I have long been reconciled to the fact that environmentalism has to be banalized, shoved down the entertainment public's throat, but of course there's the risk that the fad will go away when the collective consciousness can't take it and James Cameron's marketing strategy any more and there will be little change in public policy to show for it. You have Obama rolling in to Copenhagen after warmongering to the Nobel committee and saying he couldn't concentrate on the ozone layer because the South Americans are making too much noise, and Brazil doesn't think they have to deal with the rainforest because blaming everything on the US is more popular, and now the public in Massachusetts have spoken and corporate lawyers with three houses are men of the people if they drive a large pickup truck, which is only fair because the VP is a corporate lawyer with an adult life conditioned by lobbyists who drives a large pickup truck, that's what works in the NE rust belt, I'm of course not blogging about politics and the cinema on my poetry blog. I never look at the New Yorker poems but I did last night, Dorothea Lasky and Aimé Césaire together at last which I found amusing with weather-related titles. I have realized that I like reading Dottie's poems on the page somewhat quickly, turning to the next transcribed moment rather than reviewing one repeatedly in one sitting. Lasky's poem is more emotional and quickly written than the John Ashbery and Josephine Jacobsen that would be there when I was getting drunk at someone's house who got the New Yorker, which is when I was going through my 'craft v. post-projective non-craft' dilemma phase. Her lyric emotion comes off as much more authentic than Bly channeling Trakl, and you get dream imagery mixed with theological speculation, the latter being something Ashbery and the Gang would consider a slippery slope, perhaps they're trying to raise circulation. A taste for organizing form around emotions comes back when you banish confessionalism from your thoughts and then semiotics, and then get all old school Sartrean, leapfrogging structuralism. OK, I'm putting off Muldoon's translation of Césaire, what do you expect me to say, just imagine I'm saying what you expect me to say, I'm a broken record. Jerome Rothenberg put new translations of Césaire (Eshelman/Arnold) on his blog the day the quake hit Port-au-Prince, and I was going to blog about them but people were dying, more people were getting their lights turned out by the hour while the diplomats where jockeying for power at the airport than by Trujillo's rifles, but I digress from matters of poesy, Joris did a well-deserved number on Muldoon's translation, which is actually quite pretty even if it bears no remote resemblence to the poem being translated, banishing the political theme like the machine guns banish Lavalas, you can make Césaire sentimental but you can't make him garbage. I'm not going to take any lines out of context in the Eshelman/Arnold translations in which the mere appearance of the poems are a major event and the translations are the result of many years of inspired care. One aspect of them that presented difficulty enjoying the poems on the 13th of January is how in that day's global news cycle shorthand, "Europe" provided a corrective to "nature," constituting a thematic reversal to Césaire's iconography from Martinique in 1948, which is why altering the context of "What then of words? Grinding them together to summon up the void/ as night insects grind their crazed wing cases?/ Caught caught caught unequivocally caught /caught caught caught /head over heels into the abyss /for no good reason" from political alienation to natural occurence, tailor-made for the occasion, is inherently deceptive. Muldoon's translations are the Creole Magic floor show at the hotel restaurant, whilst in Eshelman and Arnold's translations, you're dinner.
01 February 2010
As you'd guess I live by Beuys' 'principle that the 'artistic' must cross over into every subject in the curriculum,' and even though several of the best poetry blogs: Silliman's, Linh Dinh's and Lisa Jarnot's, for instance, deal extensively and insightfully with politics and current events, I will attempt the virtual separation of starting a separate blog for politics and write more frequently about poetry here. You could get the impression that I've been holding my theoretical cards close to my chest but, though they are close, they're stacked in a tower beside me... theories always travel better in the form of reproductions. Great care has been taken to assure that I have no idea what I am doing here.