30 August 2006

Road trip photos

Here I disseminate the travel photos BEFORE the trip rather than after.

I have to drive to Austin for a half week for work and back here. I have to pay my expenses and get reimbursed, but tho the innovation of flying and renting wheels there, which most of civilization favors, is economically comparable I enjoy seeing the country. Also, looking at a lot of pre WW2 Western art in places like Indianapolis, Tulsa, and Fort Worth vaguely relates to what I'm supposed to be doing.

My previous jaunt to Texas involved researching food stops along the way ahead of time but on the way I learned that it is best to hit a special place once a day and self-cater the other two meals, because of sitting in a car and the portions involved. I generally like to make painstaking plans and ignore them.

Mon 11 Sept

At supper hoping the Hare Krishnaists won’t smell the Chili Dog on my breath from lunch, or possibly stuffed cabbage instead. I used to be a vegetarian but the South and Mexico ruined this for a while. Museums in Pennsylvania all closed on Monday, hence scenic route.

Tue 12

Joseph Mallard William

I feel under no obligation to eat the chili spaghetti but it may happen. If I can hold out 'til Terre Haute there's always Gerhardt's Bierstube.

Wed 13

Stare at the Beckmanns as long as I want, maybe seeing the rest of the collections, maybe not. Saw the New York retrospective a few years back but you can’t look at his work briefly in a crowd; I can’t.

Will see how South Grand compares to Washington Street Philly for Vietnamese.

Thurs 14

Cowboys and Indians in Tulsa.

Stockyards closed Thursday in OK City so I may settle for a salad.

Fri 15

My Favorite Caravaggio

Sat 16-Wed 20

Chekhov’s dinner set, veggies.

Thurs 21

Twombly gallery, plus Rothko Chapel and the Menil Surrealist collection.

Dinner/breakfast? ..in that Mecca of indigenous American cuisine, Beaumont, TX. San Francisco, what’s that? (never been)

Sat 23-Mon 25

Borrowing a condo on the St Augustine estuary..

Wed 26

Get out of the car, stare at this:

then arrive back here.

I may change this post as the trip changes.

21 August 2006


I really appreciate the feedback on the critical nuggets here, and I often like to motivate myself by announcing what I’m going to do, like essays on Mallarmé, existentialism and Jain philosophy, discussions of Hejinian’s The Fatalist, etc etc, and there were several ‘unannounced’ essays I was working on. And the two book reviews I wrote last week (on the more visited Silliman’s blog) were heartfelt and a pleasure to write.

However, it is in the same spirit of convoluted motivational tactics that I write the ‘anti-post,’ the post that says I’m overwhelmed by a (creative) work project and I need to take a break from blogging longer essays, because perhaps if I don’t post this I won’t take that break. So I do plan to post stuff, just not literary essays that take hours to research.

I’m not sure how long this will be, but definitely the next week and for the most part the rest of the year, although I hope to take some breaks from my break here and there during that time and write more here.

Not a blue one

I was reading Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird to my nephews (4 & 8) recently; they both picked at a guitar (not a blue one to my eyes) through sections 2-7, and in section 8, Owen (4yo) said “stop lying to me!” Owen insisted I keep reading, though, and the more arcane the diction got, the more they picked at the guitar.

It’s in a book about teaching different poems to children by Kenneth Koch. When I started a couple of weeks ago, Frank (8yo) didn’t know what a poem was. He asked me what they are and I said it’s when people can do whatever they want with the words. Owen doesn’t know what they are but he likes them.

17 August 2006

Parataxis history

Concerning Jessica Smith’s assertion that In a Station at the Metro is "not ‘actually’ a haiku," the essential component of a haiku is not syllable constraints but the juxtaposition, and Pound in this poem brought parataxis to Western Literature from Japan where it had been used for many years.

The word haiku came from the phrase "playful linked verse" and the Japanese consider the 5-7-5 to be a traditional form of what can have unlimited syllabic variants.

Pound called it a "hokku-like sentence" which is "meaningless unless someone has drifted into a certain vein of thought. In a poem of this sort one is trying to record the precise moment when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective.

"This particular sort of consciousness has not been identified with impressionist art. I think it is worthy of attention."

16 August 2006

In summer

I spent the day digging trenches for sewer pipes, which feels good if you don’t overdo it and you don’t have to worry about whether your literary essays are ‘legitimated.’ Andy has praise for Sock Puppet Serenade, which would also be a good name for the Silliman’s Blog comments fields.

13 August 2006

Complacencies, coffee, oranges, and cockatoos dissipating the holy hush of ancient sacrifice

I managed to find some web recipes for my ingredients but I didn’t get enough chiles; I got one poblano in Camden. The last cab ride I had in DC was with an Ethiopian driver on the way to Meskerem; I have taken to Silver Spring for Ethiopian plus they have groceries that enable you to wrap everything you eat for four days in injera.

The ‘other’ significance of ChiPs to poetic rhythm is its occurrence in the list-verse tangent of the Black Flag song ‘TV Party’ and Emelio Estevez’s (can I work Cheech Marin and Jimmy Smits into this thread?) a capella version in the movie Repo Man: after polysyllabic shows are listed (Fantasy Island, Different Strokes, Fall Guy) there’s something both humourous and stylistically revelatory to the monosyllabic “ChiPs.” As the thing perceived, “CHiPs” functions within the rhythm and image-presentation sort of like a geometric point that both exists in space and doesn’t, because the phenomenon envisaged by the tableau is that of people who cannot bear collectivity without the presence of meaningless diversions, and Chips represents both such a meaningless diversion and a cultural product that transmits absolute meaning to the characters depicted. I have attempted to minimize blogging about the nostalgia for the passive.

I remember the debate at the recognition of the new digital potential of TV. Gore said give all the public airways away to the communications giants and McCain said, well give the people some things as long as there’s at least ten law enforcement channels. I don’t watch cop shows, which is unrelated to my perception of policemen, except that policemen often watch cop shows. I used to visit an ex-cop who would watch the one with Shatner and it was a way for him to connect with the glorious narrative that got him into that business which was in turn a conduit to his youth, which he would joke about, but cop shows have a logic all their own which is not empirical, especially the docu ones, since all cop show writers reference other shows rather than anything that happens in real life.

Goebbels would have used cop shows to display the inherent criminality of individuals in contrast to the just state, and I don’t pay attention to whether that’s what they have on the tube now. I have a fictional character who is a coroner, and apparently those CSI shows have a lot of coroners, and once in a hostel I tried to get the TV viewers to describe the coroners on those shows, but it didn’t help much.

I didn’t see Manderlay in the theater, but it should arrive tomorrow by one of those mail-services: von Trier’s Dogville is an experience of America culled from American TV and film (since I don’t think von Trier has ever been to the US). It’s amazing how Europeans love to talk about how the American South is, but the people who do the talking never actually visit it. Abroad, the American South represents the Red States that steer the world’s superpower away from policies more like theirs, which in the case of von Trier's Dogville brings forth a neurotic mythology that vacillates from infantile to Brechtian, but is still one of the best films or the best of the last few years.

Dogville is a departure from the New Social Realism style that his own Dogme helped spawn, in favor of a cinematic method that imitates a auteur, Tarantino, who learned about humanity from watching TV.

You can live ten lifetimes in NJ and be vague about it: there’s no public square, which I suppose is why everyone comes here because they left places where the public squares were used for executions.

12 August 2006

Never question a dream

The Mallarmé came, and yes, it IS the Erik Estrada ‘Dice Throw’ I dreamt of, and yes, that’s a recommendation.

I found a Liberian grocery store – Willingboro, a 50s suburban mega-development nearby, is getting a growing African population. My experience is that African grocery stores that have a different native language have a friendly but untalkative staff, but an English-speaking country’s stores (like Nigerian or Liberian) require you to make conversation with the staff for the entire visit, which is part of the experience.

I now have copious amounts of dried codfish and Monrovian collard greens. I believe collard greens were taken from the US to Liberia when the country was founded.

I've never seen CHiPs.

10 August 2006

Package tracking drama

My copy of the new Oxford translation of Mallarmé was scanned in Cincinnati today. The Gashouse Gang is also in town, but Pujols, Ducky Medwick, and Rolen (one of the best-read ballplayers) better keep their hands off it - I know how they like to trade uniforms with postal workers and loiter around the warehouses, especially Pepper Martin. They can read my Dover Tolstoy that I got to get up to the free shipping threshold.

This translation was in production when I had my dream of ‘A Throw of the Dice Does Not Abolish Chance Starring Erik Estrada’ but I think I would classify that as either an unwarranted anxiety dream or a review of the Weinfield versions that I never got. In other words, I’m giving this thing a chance. My MacIntyre Selected is currently AWOL which is not an acceptable arrangement.

When that baby comes some commentary on rhythm and form is sure to ensue.

09 August 2006

Senate races

If elections were held today and results corresponded to polls, the Senate would be 50-49-1 Republican.

That factors in Lamont (D) winning in CT and Republican incumbants DeWine (OH), Burns (MT), Santorum (PA), Talent (MO), and Chafee (RI) getting knocked off. Also, narrow leads in NJ, MD, and MN have to hold.

For the Democrats to become the Senate Majority in 2007, they need to win in either Tennessee (where Harold Ford trails three Republicans slinging it out in the primary) or Nevada, where a safe GOP seat has moved into single digits.

Polling data can be found here, here, and here.

03 August 2006

The age of shocks and struts

I’ve thought that if I was to name my car after a Ron Silliman book, it would be ‘What,’ with ‘Manifest,’ ‘Sitting Up, Standing, Taking Steps,’ ‘Mohawk,’ and ‘Xing’ as other possibilities.

But I was framing yesterday in the heat and was treated to a similarly heated argument over architecture, which culminated with the exclamation ‘Do you want Windows or What?!!’ ..followed by ‘OK, well I’d rather have Windows than What!!’ which I thought could also be a last minute Creeley-or-Silliman argument in a book store or a syllabus controversy in a faculty lounge.

‘Nox’ would be the name I wouldn’t use for my car.

Li pale franse

One shouldn’t use French blog titles to the exclusion of Creole, such as the expression above, which literally translates as “He speaks French” but in Haiti universally means “He is trying to deceive you.” Languages are best when they have undergone no bastardization by the political class.

However, the Miami Herald seems to have arrived at a new usage of the phrase “political class” this past Sunday. “This is the last chance for Haiti's political class to show that it is capable of governing.” In this usage the political class means a cabinet comprised of people with the overwhelming support of the public that escaped being bumped off by death squads authorized by UN-designate John Bolton, as opposed to the criminal class which is the rightful owner of political authority, and certainly has authority over the Miami Herald.

Or perhaps this is the Miami Herald’s way of translating the proverb “Kreyon pep la pa gen gonm” (The people’s pencil has no eraser.)

01 August 2006

Modèle de l'année

One thing I notice in the poetry blogosphere and internet publications is the ‘year’ fixation regarding style: I’ve seen it used over a dozen of times by different young authors, all in the last few years. ‘That’s so 1978' ‘as if it were 2004' ‘it’s not a matter of bringing back the early 80s,’ etc. This has replaced the rhythmic doctrine, serving the same purpose the old forms served: facilitating the act of being told how to write and maintaining hierarchization resistant to discourse, at which time discourse is accused of being an act of telling people how to write.

It would be hasty and charitable to conclude that this practice is rooted in an inherent belief in progress, rather, it seems to exist astride utter indifference to it. Some are on the record as not believing in progress, which is their prerogative, and it is no coincidence that none of those people have ever done ‘the year thing’ to my knowledge. Meticulous planning and trillions of dollars of investment have gone into bringing about the decline of culture, including privileging fashion over art; whether a few artists have managed to withstand that is always a matter of speculation.