30 December 2007

The Friday before last I imagined that everyone at work were incarnations of thoughts I’ve had or moods I’ve felt. The next day I went to see the Francisco Toledo show that I’d only walked through quickly, preparing myself for imagery of the nagual, what the part-Zapotec Toledo describes as spiritual metamorphoses with animals, expressed in mask rituals. Toledo encountered the recently published Accursed Share by Bataille in late 60s Paris while being discovered there as a teenager, which excerpted Bernardino de Sahagún’s transcription of the Aztec myth of the creation of the sun representing the share that nourishes but blinds (Nanauatzin, the sun, who jumps into the fire) and the reflection that can be seen (Tecuciztecatl, the fearful moon). Toledo illustrated a book of the Sahagún transcription. A warm winter night a few days back, the cloud cover was so thick that the moon’s brief appearances felt like an interrogation.

Nagual in some tribes has an aspect that casts a spell against assimilation, which reflects on the conflicts of Toledo’s art and life: the money he made painting was spent both bringing institutions of modernity to Oaxaca (contemporary art museums, art cinema) and archiving local indigenous culture. The Princeton/ UTEP show presents some of his illustrations of Kafka’s Report to the Academy, where a monkey sent to Europe escapes his cage by metamorphosing into a human and describes an essence he can’t return to.

One more week of this show, the best on the East Coast now and the first, though way too small, US retrospective of Toledo in years and years. I’ve never seen his drawings and the draftsmanship is strikingly original. His works presented together enable you to inhabit his mythical logic, play of masks, and mirror hall of sacrifices, ‘the gods had to die.. The wind tore out their hearts and used them to animate the newborn stars.’ (Sahagún)

Toledo’s daughter Natalia has poetry, some of which is written in Zapotec, featured in the Copper Canyon Mexican anthology but has yet to be translated book-length; this portrait of her is most likely based on erotic photos of Francisco in his youth in snake and alligator skin.

25 December 2007

15 December 2007

There’s been some music in town lately. Last weekend the orchestra here tackled Varèse’s Amériques, which you really need to have your local orchestra do rather than an avant ensemble because it requires 120 to 140 instruments depending on the version, including seven french horns, eight cellos, and a lion. I’ve never heard it, thinking until a few months ago that Antheil had the idea to use sirens first (who else would have done it?) I’ve heard so much that imitates it that it sounds like an old favorite warhorse, like the missing warhorse; I will listen to it many more times.

Some virtuoso girls doing Bartók at the Curtis Institute: first Sang Hyun Mary Yong’s over the top rendering of the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra on Monday then Elena Urioste ripping up the Sonata for Violin and Piano this evening. Urioste conveys a broad range of emotions through her mastery of pieces, following up the Sonata with V. Williams’ light, dreamy Lark Ascending, bringing her edge to Beethoven and Janáček, then putting a rose in her hair and (being Mexican-Basque) deconstructing the Carmen Fantasie. An unforgettable graduation recital and I look forward to collecting her recordings.

I bought a bunch of Bartók discs years back and I never really worked them into a listening routine that fit into a particular mood or ritual. I mean, I seem to like every other ‘difficult’ composer. I find his chamber works, or works arranged for chamber, to be more initially engaging because it is easier to appreciate his melodic structure rather than with the combination of melodies in many of his symphonies, which I’m nonetheless inspired to dust off now. Yong's Concerto was exciting, but Urioste enabled me to emotionally connect to Bartók for the first time in a while.

+ on Monday my favorite chamber work, Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. Written in the throes of a complex love affair, it combines Romantic passion with the forms and dramatic structure of modernity. I have gone through long stretches when I’ve gone to bed to it nightly, and I felt as if my mind halfway between wakefulness and sleep was being presented a public meeting.

05 December 2007

At my day job there is an enterprising young Sudanese émigré who plans to return there soon with cash to buy into its economic growth spurt; after talking to him for the first time a week ago I did homework about Sudanese politics, business, history, etc. Today at lunch I found that there’s an elderly African-American who’s also befriended him and done an enormous amount of research, including this gem, at the end of break, which I can’t verify but caused no protest from the native:

that in the Sudan there is so much human blood in the water that the elephants are hooked on the taste, and are beginning to take bites out of the tribespeople. And the Nile he says runs north to Egypt.

01 December 2007

Roberto Matta’s Being With had for a while been at the Southeastern entrance to the first floor Modern galleries at the Met but this situation has made way for an abundantly curated room with Damien Hirst’s shark and other shark and death-related paintings. I asked the guard where the Matta and Beckmann had gone and he said ‘One of them is through there somewhere.’ I had to anticipate which one. It was the Matta, which has found a new home between Barbara Hepworth and Isamu Noguchi sculptures that resemble figures in the painting, facing some complimentary Motherwells. In the old days there was a comfortable couch in front of the Beckmann triptych from which you could look at the Matta from the distance. Sitting on the floor next to the Noguchi you realize that distance was too much. Also, Being With should be looked at after the Ghiberti doors, especially the sequence of the Jacob and Esau relief

and the Adam and Eve relief,

as it relates to the use of perspective (in both) and the whole Gates of Paradise expulsion theme.

You can go to the Mezzanine to see the Abstract Expressionists copy Max Ernst or you could go straight to the new Oceania gallery and walk through Ernst’s soul. That’s a recommendation: if you live in or near NYC, go to the Oceania gallery soon and often. I also found some ancient Egyptian Ernsts with Loplop birds.

I did also get to the Cloisters first and then the Met. It really should be reversed: see the Ghiberti doors on a weekday (til Jan 13) first thing in the morning, and then go to the Cloisters after lunch when the school groups are gone.

24 November 2007

Ghost-like events, event-like ghosts: immediate thoughts on Badiou

Badiou drew crowds on his East Coast tour, as many people were turned away from getting into the New York lecture and possibly Philly’s. His Wikipedia page was a paragraph when I was recounting his commentary last weekend, and it’s grown considerably since the tour.

He’s undoubtably enjoying his stardom in the US after over three decades of departmental struggles in Paris. He has fun with English as the directness with which he expresses his ideas in English helps them pack a punch.

His first book translated into English was Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, I presume because the market for good Deleuze books in English preceded the market for Alain’s own inner thoughts. That’s also the first book of his that I looked at, at the Minnesota MLA booth last December when an editor from the Southwest struck up a conversation and started to get me into him. When I got home I scoured the used internet pool for a few books which I read in dribs and drabs until he stated his positions more directly on the tour.

Since part of Badiou’s star comes from a yearning for a Paris 8 standard bearer, it is interesting to see how his ghosts line up (for the boardwalk shooting gallery). First of all, Badiou’s school spirit pervades his evocation of May ‘68 more than Paris 8's old titan Foucault, who used to brag that he was in Algiers at the time where the real shit was going down.

Like Foucault, he cut his teeth with Althusser as a teacher, and both defended Althusser during Louis’ down years when the bureaucratic pricks were taking their shots. As I’m fond of saying, if you defend your mentor only out of loyalty, s/he’s not your mentor. Badiou writes constantly of the ‘return of philosophy’ while Foucault frequently said that he wasn’t a philosopher. This may have related in Foucault’s case to that stage of structuralism and not wanting to be weighed down by the demands of sorting out questions of traditions, a function that Badiou relishes in his own way. Both referenced Althusser rarely, if ever, in their work. Just as Althusser said avoiding ideology is ideological, avoiding Althusser the mentor is Althusserian, and their divergent approaches can speculatively be seen this way. The Sartreanism of avoiding Sartre is another can of worms here.

Oliver Feltham’s intro to Being and Event touches on this, noting (xxvii, Continuum) the ‘encounter’ between Althusser andthe École normale supérieure’s Cercle d'épistémologie in the 60s and the ‘comparable rupture’ of the ‘lineage of Bachelard, Koyré, Canguilheim and Foucault.’ He then says ‘none of these discourses or authors are privileged in the emergence of the thought of the event, instead Badiou turns to Mallarmé.’ Nowhere in this paragraph or anywhere near it or related to this logical construction do we find the name Deleuze, despite the outline of the rupture from the dialectic and the ensuing integration of Mallarmé in that context obviously coming from Deleuze's Nietzsche and Philosophy. Deleuze is only mentioned in that intro twice: the assertion that Badiou has broken from the self-reflexivity of Derrida, Hegel and Deleuze, when, of course, Badiou’s position with regard to Hegel is a resigned reiteration of Deleuze’s, and noting Deleuze’s objection that Badiou’s thought was analogical.

This omission cannot be underestimated. Badiou’s Althusserianism back in the late 60s put him on a departmental collision course with Deleuze who came to the Paris 8 department with a circle of allies fresh from the glory of Anti-Oedipus’ reception. Badiou got to taking shots at Deleuze and by his account, things got tense when Deleuze thought Badiou’s ‘Bolshevism’ was attempting to wrest control of the department from the ‘troika of Deleuze, Châtelet, and Lyotard,’ which ‘retook "power" without resistance.’

What no one seems to say is how Deleuze seems to have taken power over Badiou’s view of the dialectic without resistance, since Deleuze’s attacks on Hegel and the dialectic in Nietzsche and Philosophy on ‘behalf’ of Nietzsche seem to loom as assumptions which pave the way for Badiou’s work. Deleuze came up with the concept of a rupture from the dialectic making use of ontology, since the Nietzschean opposition of being and non-being could not be synthesized, an approach that takes the form of an assumption in Badiou.

Nietzsche and Philosophy is notably not one of the nine books of his that Badiou cites in Deleuze, citing instead Deleuze’s commentary on Mallarmé from their personal correspondence. For those of you that haven’t hung around me much, I think that Nietzsche and Philosophy is Deleuze’s most important work, and despite its title the most Deleuzean. The Guattari collaborations are thought-provoking, getting overly cute in A Thousand Plateaus, ending with the indispensable reflection of What is Philosophy? Pure Immanence is the pared down, most direct and perhaps enduring of his propositions.

Despite building extensively on Deleuze’s ontological approach, Badiou has his ways of staking out a middle ground within the apparently incompatible rupture between Deleuze and Althusser, the ripples of which go back to when Schopenhauer would schedule his lectures at the same time as Hegel’s out of spite. Badiou, on the structures and universal truths of non-ontological situations:

"..my thesis is that in a situation there is always an encyclopedia of knowledge which is the same for everybody. But the access to this knowledge is very different. We can speak in Marxist terms, we cans say that in a situation there is an ideological dispositif [apparatus] which is dominant - in the end it’s the same thing.

Justin Clemens: "Would you say Marxism talks about encyclopedic knowledges but doesn’t talk about the truth?

Badiou: "No, no I think that Marxism, the category of Marxism designates the same thing that I designate by the dispositif of the encyclopedia of knowledge. But in Marxism there is a series of truths, which is different from ideology." (Infinite Thought, 171-2)

It is sort of comical in that context that Simon Critchley, Badiou’s designated opponent on the West Philly fight card, in his exhaustive examination of the options presenting themselves to the Anglophone philosopher, noted an affirmative interest in a Third Way, sheepishly admitting its being a Blairism while we sat safe from the explosive devices in Baghdad. Critchley stood in the ring as one of the ‘anarcho-desirers’ that Badiou had taken on for years so there was no affirmation of the dialectic coming from either side, just the Third Way, as the Third and First ways never do take the time to lift a finger on behalf of the dialectic that forms the basis of their existence. As Blair, Gordon Brown and the others have proved once again, the Third Way is the First Way without the baggage. In the context of Badiou’s refinement of Deleuze’s critique of the dialectic, we can see the Third Way as an embodiment of the reductive, irrelevant, fabricated side of the dialectic, containing nothing of Athusser’s increasingly convincing and resilient case that all thought is ideological.

Badiou touches more on the dialectic in 2006's Logiques des mondes, which I don’t think has been translated, wherein he sets forth a Third Wayish ‘democratic materialism,’ making a third out of what in the other two is not hegemonic. Žižek not surprisingly accuses it of ‘Eating the cake and keeping it’ suggesting the little victories of the new are ‘his all too crude opposition between repetition and the cut of the Event, his dismissal of repetition as an obstacle to the rise of the New..,’ pitting Deleuzean repetition against the Badiouian event. Badiou’s position is not really Third Wayish in that it’s not a compromised one, though, but one of rupture, of what Žižek reductively calls Big Change while critiquing its indifference to incremental reform.

16 November 2007

What Badiou said at the 'event'

Ethics begins with the refusal of the world.

Ontologically, truth to Badiou is the creation of something new, not a judgement; truth is an artistic creation, process of making the new in the world. He noted the logical definition of truth as an organization of the world, a consequence of fact, but stated that existence is a modification of truth, the sublimation of ‘something’ in existence. He asked Simon Critchley to respond to that definition but ‘No Wittgenstein!!’

Badiou accused Critchley of being Rosseauean, which Critchley later qualified but didn’t deny completely. Badiou said his view of individuals is in line with Nietzsche, that humans are animals indifferent to good and evil. Badiou’s wrinkle about all this is his notion that it is the event, something from outside, which enables humans to transcend the limits of the individual.

He said modesty can be benign when it is modesty of knowledge, but oppressive when imposed on people in the form of ‘know your place and shut up.’ He stuck up for heroic affirmation.

He says history is transformed by moments of affirmation rather than fits of anger, using the example of slave uprisings and May ‘68, when heroism and courage proved victorious on a small scale.

He’s not sure that ethics and ontology were in opposition. He set forth a distinction between individual and subject and between ethics of experience and ontology of the event.

The human within the event is infinite.

This event was being filmed by my pal Laura Hanna who, with her Zizek! collaborator Astra Taylor, suggested having the event in the first place. Laura’s been working for a while on directing Megapolis, a documentary with Mike Davis about urban slums in poor nations.

15 November 2007

I perceive myself with the same anthropological disposition with which I regard some other matters of interest: dust brushes, tweezers, imperialistic conceits.
People that come from a place I’ve long wanted to visit seem to have come from my imagination.

13 November 2007

New on DVD

Dilemma: The 15 hour Fassbinder version of Berlin Alexanderplatz is out, and it appears it will take forever to get the first of the seven discs from the mail service, but the subsequent ones are easily available. Start at two? Start at Fassbinder’s epilogue? Wait? None are satisfactory options. "..something that comes from the outside, something unaccountable, something that looks like fate.."

On the occasions when I go to a blockbuster art show, I get a timed ticket for first thing in the morning, and when admitted I make for the middle to end of the show. But that tactic hinges on the perceived absence of narrative structure.

10 November 2007

“Look, if you want me to write a threatening letter to Heidegger I’m going to have to put in a bill.”

“Just tell him ‘time is of the essence.’”

07 November 2007

In the part of NJ that is south of the longitudinal extension of the Mason-Dixon Line,

a friend of mine who teaches got balled out today by the vice principal of the charter school because he gave one of his students a Nietzsche book.

04 November 2007

The extra hour has been most useful. I am not partisan concerning the allocation of hours towards use-value or enjoyment, but enjoyment is usually more flexible with regard to the hours of the day. I'm up now, which suggests a usefulness. I feel no gratitude towards the institution of Daylight Savings Time, only that my hour given in Spring has been returned to me at an opportune time.

31 October 2007

Rock and roll question

If I have any Korean readers, I'd like to know if there's any rock songs out about kim chee.

28 October 2007

I suppose I’m a few days’ late putting up a Kitaj tribute, but better late than never. For those of you who were glad that I wrote about how he would "respond to a rut or blockage by packing his bag, going to the airport, looking up at the departures screen, and picking a destination right before boarding" without making a quaint remark about his new destination, it’s just that I hadn’t thought of it.
Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, my VCR set my clock back when it wasn’t really time to set clocks back. Next weekend is the time now. When I woke up, not privy to the bill’s ratification I spent a half hour rationalizing how I slept through the hour, on account of the dreams I had, now unremembered, as there was no question at that point that the hour had elapsed and there were no extra hours forthcoming and the chance for planning the gained hour in anticipation did not present itself. When I realized it was not Daylight Savings Time, I grinned because I could suddenly admit to myself how flimsy my rationalizations had been. However, I and everyone I encountered seemed to be behind an hour all day and night.

Ryan told me a week ago that no matter what the sun and the atmosphere does, it gets dark at the same time because of the movement of the planet. No matter how obvious that was, it had the painful resonance of an intervention.

22 October 2007

Still no Old Musician

Haven’t seen much good art or heard good poetry lately, but allowed myself to be rather overwhelmed this weekend. I was in Princeton on Saturday and stepped into the art museum right before closing time, and to my surprise they had just opened a Francisco Toledo show. One large room, but quite an appealing sampling of one of the hemisphere’s greats. I got to see a wonderful Toledo watercolor at a Mexico City apartment of a professor (actually his sister’s) who was trying to pick me up. I will return soon (to the Princeton show) for a longer look.

Sunday - Turner in DC. Much better than the Fort Worth Turner show three years ago, this utilizes a lot of Turners from the Tate and elsewhere, including the many owned by the NGA. One of the best artist retrospectives of recent memory, a must if you like Turner and are a few hours away.

"There are cases in which old age gives, not eternal youth, but on the contrary a sovereign liberty, a pure detachment in which one enjoys a moment of grace between life and death, and in which all elements of the machine combine to launch into the future an figure that cuts through time: Titian, Turner, Monet." -Deleuze & Guattari

I recall the NGA curators characterizing him as an academic painter though breaking with British tradition by preferring landscapes. He spent much time around the academy but there was nothing in his work that resembled the academic painting of the time. He was notoriously secretive about his process of working, and I surmise this to be his way of reconciling his singular style with his savvy cultivation of contacts and official recognition. It’s unlikely that Turner would have started a blog where he’d discuss himself and his relation to the academy.

Seeing Hopper on a weekend day is a bad idea, especially as the NGA only opens at 11am on Sunday. Extremely crowded, over 3x the Turner draw steps away. I liked looking at the masses enjoy Hopper’s naturalisic impulse to depict human beings not as actual individuals but as symptoms of his alienation, more than I liked the paintings themselves. Perhaps authors reading this can earn quick dollars with this formula. An elderly man carrying a video camera tripped on IM Pei's crooked staircase while laboring from one tiny gallery to another and was in extreme pain.

Still no Manet’s The Old Musician. The Grinch is just fixing it I presume.

P Inman - Miles Champion - Lorraine Graham is quite the murderers’ row, and I haven’t seen the DC crowd in a while and seized the opportunity to miss a Eagles game that proffered only torturous futility.

I missed the northerly exit for my usual parking space and found myself at Lincoln Park in SE. On Sundays, you can park at the no parking zone around the park, which is quite pleasant on a sunny day and convenient any Sunday. This is apparently permitted to indulge the church goers, so when I came back to my car at 9pm, approaching the square from the opposite direction, there were no cars there, and I was sure I was towed. Alas, on the other side of the park mine was the only car there.

On the way back I read P Inman’s new chapbook while caffeinating in the Deep Water Diner in Carney’s Point, NJ. I think I have found either the best place to read P or the best book to read at this diner, or both. The poems tune the conversations of the clientele, their words are filtered through P’s utilizing an invisible tube shaped like the chemical plant across the street. This my first visit: it has a neon sign at night that only illuminates the T and the R + Diner, everyone knows everyone else meaning the drunk high schoolers converse with the grey haired workers and people dine alfresco in front of the chemical plant at 11pm. Perhaps the truest of Jersey diners, right after you cross Delaware Memorial you look for the sign to Deep Water, follow signs there towards the river, and take a right at 130.

12 October 2007

One of the cultural highlights of Jersey is the collection of Sylvia Beach letters at Princton University, though her correspondence with Joyce is mostly at SUNY Buffalo. Recently I was perusing the collection and I’m looking over my observations:

  • Reverdy’s poem Mao-tcha in the June ‘17 issue of Manifestation Sic, which had works by Jacob and Cocteau and a front cover by Picasso.

  • ‘Talk to Mr Joyce about coming down here (to Cannes) to spend a month. It’s cheap, and I have a rosy tan on me that makes me looks 20 years old.’

    Robert McAlmon ‘22

  • Poulenc had elaborate paper flowers attached to his stationary.

  • 1927, Kay Boyle writes Beach asking for a job, explaining what makes her a good employee.

    1932 she asks for MacLeish’s Newfoundland, while MacLeish was working for Fortune Magazine.

    Another Boyle letter, with no date other than ‘Friday’:

    ‘We were also using some unpublished work of the Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven and I wished to communicate with Miss Djuna Barnes concerning the reprinting of her page in ‘transition’ concerning the Baroness. I have Miss Barnes’ address at home in Auteuil but as I am again ill and not able to get out of bed, I can’t get at it.’

  • 2 x 3 pages with notes written by Beach during a phone conversation with Samuel Beckett:

    En attendand godot
    Malloy - Malloy Meurt
    option on third


    The Grove Press

    his own translations
    wd pay in advance
    on contract

    (New page)

    on novels $1000

    play $200

    would like to act as
    agent for production
    of play in NY

    (New page)

    agent in London
    Mrs Rosica Colin
    Barney Rosset

    print 2000 copies

    $3 a copy

    if all sold 10% royalty

    otherwise separate
    agreement with a

  • Beckett had absolutely the most unreadable handwriting I’ve ever seen. In English, but completely incomprehensible.

  • 1938 Elizabeth Bishop asks for a copy of Stevens’ Man With the Blue Guitar.

  • Walter Benjamin wrote Beach on October 26, 1939 from the internment camp in Nevers where he was held on account of being a German citizen. He proudly ripped his essay Über einige Motive bei Baudelaire (found in Illuminations; On Some Motifs of Baudelaire) out of Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung (which also included an Adorno essay on Wagner and Horkheimer’s De Juden und Europa, examining the relation between liberal democracy and fascism), and sent it to Beach for her to read. Because the note was handwritten and his imminent fate, it was probably the saddest letter I’ve ever read, with Benjamin railing against Hitler and confiding his despair.

  • Hotel du Pont and Brest
    Near Chartres

    My dear Miss Beach,

    You’re rather hard on me, but perhaps with good cause. I did dispatch the letters to you, but by a not very trustworthy acquaintance and I can assume only - as I also lent him some money - that he got drunk on the way - lost them..

    ...but I never know how much loved my wife until she went to America: I should not have let her go, o it’s been hell... ..But everything’s all right now - She’s all right and we’ll be together again in three weeks. I was past momentarily deranged. So please forgive me really.

    Malcolm Lowry

  • Eliot's Christmas card:

    Fra Filippo Lippi
    Galleria Uffizi, Florence

  • Paul Robeson tries to get Beach to convince Joyce to show up at one of his performances and come backstage.

  • Dear Miss Beach,

    I’m terribly sorry about Friday. A friend of mine got in a jam with the police and I had to spend the day sitting in bureaus and telephoning. I hope you will excuse my rudeness, but I am sure you will understand. Next time I come to Paris I hope we will meet properly.

    yours sincerely
    WH Auden

    Dear Miss Beach,

    Just passing through from USA en route for London and then Germany. Sorry to have missed you.

    yours sincerely,
    Wystan Auden

    (Complete correspondence between the two on file)

  • Dec 7 1955

    I would like to meet with you and speak with you, if you have some time free. I know we have a number of friends in common, not least of all Dr Williams. Perhaps you will be interested in hearing that he has been very much excited by these last poems of Michaux which I’ve sent to him.

    29, Quai d’Anjou
    Paris 1ve

  • Cyril Connolly wrote long-winded letters as can be expected, including:

    “The Sunday Times is having a series of the Seven Deadly Sins and I have done one on covetousness (E. Sitwell on Pride, Waugh on Sloth, Auden on Anger)....

    “I am so glad you liked my piece on Hemingway - I was very upset by his death and felt very near to him - I sometimes think the first thing the dead do is to pay a round of visits, at least I was suddenly conscious of a wave of humility and affection from him and so when I was asked to write a piece I cancelld my engagement in London and spent three days down here with my books....

    “PSS As a poet Ernest Hemingway was too direct - not marinated enough

08 October 2007

Thrice in the last two days I have heard loud crashing noises within twenty feet of me. In none of the three cases have I investigated the source of the noise. I think this is a positive development.

30 April 2007


what tags the bats
entering light
what motive / so they say

300 velvet curtains
on 300 reaches

bird dances ladders
eyes each zero branch
nests on one

29 April 2007


once again this year
we drafted for
harmony with nature
on day one

even though we were 29th
in the league at illustrating
the decline of civilization

we know
what sells cracker jacks
to ourselves

28 April 2007


ba in the mirror
14 of 28 limbs
fur coats rioting

27 April 2007

guardians of zero
pursuing cardinal numbers

situations of zero
blocked by hosts of essence

hypothetical lions
or browns

26 April 2007


26 / feet wide
the mangrove / vultures each side
turkey and black / 100+

why / carcass appeared
distracted / I entered the eye

it flew / to the ocean
I rowed / as before

25 April 2007


kula two heh bowe bowe bowe bowe
kula two hen bowe bowe bowe bowe
kula heh hen bowe bowe bowe bowe
kula hen heh bowe bowe bowe bowe
kula tell wid bowe bowe bowe bowe
kula wid tell bowe bowe bowe bowe

revise bear fish with specialists
revise oedipus with horse tricks
revise acrobats with reference

revise bowe hen hen hen hen hen
revise fish bear bear bear bear bear
revise trish horse horf horf horf horf
revise reference bat bat bat bat
revise trick bat everything thing goes
revise go vat that that that that

24 April 2007


economist from Dresdner Kleinwort:
Sarko doesn’t understand economics
but understands perks of being ‘divisive’

like leading in the polls

Le Pen’s daughter: Sarko
steals their ideas

the markets say:
‘let Le Pen’s imitator
privatize the oil’

the government either owns the oil
or the oil owns the government

a fact lost to those who blame
the Americans for the wars

23 April 2007


when I became water
if you’d walk on me

then blood
if you'd have a drink

then covered myself
with a tambourine
and slept

22 April 2007


ten coats align
for the twenty-two skies

ten coats arrived
from the beaks of ten seas

where a rose is not a rose
til you’re born

21 April 2007


feather hands
after mask feet
in Saturday air

feather leaves
multiply mask space
lost in the eye

through their hat
talking the map
sacred feathered cast

20 April 2007


Bigger than a breadbox? No
In your skull? Yes
Looks like a cabbage? No
In your mind? Yes
All in your mind? No
Involve memory? No
Anyone I know? No
Would I find it in a supermarket? No
In a graveyard? No
At the State Fair? No
Is it alive? Yes
Do the pious seek it? No
Referenced by Lucretius? No
By Aristotle? Yes
Is it a jet engine? No
Atlantis? No
Does it fly? Yes
Is it a jet engine? No
I already asked that, can I take that back? No
Is it a catharsis? No

19 April 2007


white teapot
white pantheon
in two three four
six smoke eight
nine ten

smoke ten
white whole white
artichoke white
bicycle wheel
loaf of white

and nineteen
bone white
smoke rings
rings rings

18 April 2007


...................................‘tis but our fantasy..........
.......And will not let belief take hold’..................
........................beacon disappears........................
....................five miles off.....................................
.................Dick Nixon and Frank O’Hara.............
................discuss Rachmaninoff.............................
........'thy commandment all alone shall live’.........
........'unmixed with baser matter’............................
................how each limb feels.................................
..................in found sarcophagus.........................

17 April 2007


nothing left but gold
and songs of wand’ring swallows
soul’s a creation

16 April 2007


I’LL STRIKE THIS PARAGRAPH on the forehead once it reveals to me the antithesis of your curiosity. NATIONAL POETRY is DADA, says the taxman in every tree, as he is writing this for me while I turn to sand. No one can escape FATE no one can escape NAPOWRIMO. Poetry has nothing to fear but poetry itself. Enter through the purple door and make for the front of the boxcar, don’t stop, don’t read the signs, til you have reached the antithesis of your curiosity. Don’t reveal to me its enigma! Don’t get in the way of the paragraph!

15 April 2007


cavalry’s horned
to out mountains

corners attached
to their old buildings

violins in your hair
bring forest boxes

oxen walk gently
in unlit shapes

14 April 2007


Ensor’s mother dealt masks; Longhi’s rhinoceros
across the channel appealed to him, for I saw yesterday
his masked men viewing a tortoise, across the room
his Watteau’s Pierrot and his Delacroix. The grotesque
in masks found in the spirit rituals, players' masks around
Pierrot made to shine in Carnival, where Leonardo
and Daumier used the face for grotesques - Ensor’s
is a spirit ritual of another kind. A grotesque existence,
fitted onto minds that choose it, peering at the animal hoped
to show its essence under its shell. Creeley said
sonnets ‘are highly difficult to use because society
does not offer them a context with which
they are intimate, anymore than society
offers a context for dancing the gavotte.’

13 April 2007


Jefferson and/or Don Adams
is the title

the contrasting traditions
of Lukács and Lacan
is the topic

the text is a synthesis


Jefferson and John Adams
died the same day

26. Kxg2 Rxc3
27. Ba3 Ne8
28. f4
Game drawn 1/2-1/2

12 April 2007


Birthday today: You don’t want to know.
Star birthdays: David Letterman, which makes for a good argument for posting this as a poem and a good argument against it.
(Video can also be found here)

Aries (21 March-20 April) Cancel your lunch appointment and make a detour to an Asian buffet that involves at least three trips to the dessert cart.
Taurus (21 April-21 May) Emphasize in your remarks that you don’t know how a flagrant racist could come to work in your media corporation.
Gemini (22 May-22 June) Your lawsuit should include the damages incurred by not only preordering the Here Comes Everybody anthology but by the fact that you rented hundreds of thousands of lunch carts and pay toilets with the expectation that everyone was coming and your deposits are not refundable.
Cancer (23 June-23 July) José Bové isn’t going to win, but who cares?
Leo (24 July-23 August) Your witty banter and terminology-intensive yarns about the early days of the Situationists are certain to keep that Eastern European stunner from going back to her ex to shoot up heroin again.
Virgo (24 August-23 September) Treat your apostles to an after dinner cognac and broach the question of which one of them betrayed you later.
Libra (24 September-23 October) A poetry flame war will take your mind off the easily resolved problems in your relationship.
Scorpio (24 October-22 November) Even if your anti-war resolution is non-binding, you won’t encounter anyone in your sheltered existence that is affected either way.
Sagittarius (23 November-22 December) You can quote Bela Akhmadulina on your blog til the cows come home, but you’re fucked no matter what you do.
Capricorn (23 December-19 January) So what are you doing with this guy?
Aquarius (20 January-19 February) I’m just going to project my anxiety on you now.
Pisces (20 February-20 March) When making your presentation to the board of directors, just say that the venture is sure to be a success because your horoscope says so.

11 April 2007


Lake was spelled snake
then you jumped into its mouth

your shape was the boat
from the reeds of our distraction

now a map of the lake sits
above the jar of old skins

climbing up
the side of me
you get to the top
then you go back
down again

10 April 2007


the sleep of one is zero

the sleep of zero
produces shadows of monsters

cast on a sea of one
caravels of love and planets
navigating animal wind

zero revised to zero
one revised to one zero
the sleep of the wind
produces animal zeros

09 April 2007


Praise be to crustaceans in Mme Crevette’s soup
that she keeps watch for us and that
the Mlle’s man sleeps til noon

Scorn to the lark’s cry
the celestial spheres
scorn to time’s torch in mine eye

I’ll walk to Figeac
where the laundresses by the Célé
still think me a mute

08 April 2007


soon the Digital Sappho
will tell you all the places

where giant dinosaur teeth
rise from the earth

but first the Digital Sappho
will tell you all the places

where people are throwing out
their recently purchased appliances

07 April 2007


in sonnets Berrigan found Ben Franklin graceless
in sonnets Mallarmé found trumpets graceless
Rilke thought the sonnet more real than grace
playing the glass armonica in the trumpet of his ear
my bread is a sonnet because I eat it
buzzards encircling the seven deadly arts
breadlines form tomorrow for want of grace

number nine number nine number nine
Kehre me on dead man
line eight is avant line ten is post
happy birthday Mr. Wordsworth in your grace
you preferred Milton to the pricks in London
come see what sonnets lurk in the reviews of Today’s Man
lake in daffodil in a lake in the daffodil

06 April 2007

scouts from Mount Parnassus
chomp cigars in San Pedro de Macorís

looking for southpaws that follow chin
music with hard sliders away

to retire Romantics
in powdered wigs

05 April 2007






04 April 2007


Eve of all hollows, the children factor cruelty with population density, findings suppressed. An egalitarianism as extreme as last night’s mischief, moon’s appetite for leftovers. Authorial intention spilled as seas, the philosopher’s stone migrates North, Spicer steals his thing from the prince of thieves. Tip the maid and she’ll wake the unhappy hermaphrodites. Annihilate the senses be for rations of four-sided croissants, the line’s duty to frame the Last Judgement for dessertion. The Gothic sequel’s pizza boy bearing Taco Supreme enters your casket on all soul’s, I see him on the analogical mountain with Persephone and then never again.

03 April 2007


Sea creatures in tanks at the Museum of Modern Art, my internal logic contingent on the expectation that you would elope with Nelson Rockefeller. The love triangle reimagined in Graces, Fates beside them, Furies in tow, Muses tugging the other side of the rope. ‘On board the Circe’ she sends us via abode of Scylla, their past appears closer by superior mirage. My dream a drink with Harry Cohn we mirror the coats of the west (spoiler). Boating is an aid to memory, you can leave me at the next sight of land, keep the limbs, ‘lose all companions.'

02 April 2007


if the self tastes bitter
it is not self


so the bird on the high branch
eats the symbols of the fruits

only to spit the seeds
where the second walks

‘two of us
wearing raincoats’

the eagle signs its name
to its antithesis

only because the pen is dry
Loplop is 116 years old today

free to die 21 years ago

wake up tomorrow

and bet on the cockfights
between blinded kings

01 April 2007


notre musique
Video sent by magnanime77

Voice-over, immediately after credits:

"And so, in the age of fable
There appeared on earth
Men armed for extermination"

Almost halfway through, couple flees burning house in b/w:

"They’re horrible here
With their obsession for cutting off heads
It’s amazing that anybody survives"

Near the end, as children sled:

"We consider death two ways
The impossible of the possible
And the possible of the impossible"


‘The state dreams of being one,’ fixate on false beginning, the cruellest mouth, fool’s golden dawn. Before you can sing like a bird, you must learn to sing like a machine. To understand the world is to destroy it, to destroy the world is fate. They fly into place while the oracles sleep, fashioning your eyes into backyard swimming pools. Fate prefers the radio for its memoirs, the TV for its excitements. The death of one is zero. The death of infinity is one.

19 March 2007

Review: New on DVD

Jean Cayrol, a poet who died two years ago, is most known as a concentration camp survivor who wrote the screenplay for Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog. His script for Muriel, or the Time of a Return, which I’ve just seen for the first time, is clearly one of the seminal works of film narrative, one of only a handful of films that has stylistic significance to the history of the novel. The pre-production for the film was done at same time as Resnais’ Robbe-Grillet-scripted Last Year in Marienbad, also starring Delphine Seyrig, and as it would have been written in the late 50s it came at a time when Robbe-Grillet had honed his prose style following the release of Jealousy and his much-discussed literary essays.

It is thus interesting to note the Robbe-Grillet influence and its boundaries here. You can see the influence in the dialogue, which like in Jealousy is innocuous, every-day chitchat of bourgeois characters (with the exception of the young, neurotic filmmaker and ex-Algerian-confict soldier Bernard). Clearly since Resnais was working with Robbe-Grillet this influence is likely. But Cayrol has no interest in Robbe-Grillet’s limits: he creates strong, iconic characters with psychological dimensions that are clear but not exaggerated. The use of everyday dialogue, especially that of Seyrig and her reuinted lover Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Kérien), a proud WW2 veteran who exemplifies the dress and manner of middle class café life, is pieced into small narrative fragments in a bounty of jump cuts, like a cubist painting of a man reading a newspaper, similar to Zamyatin’s ‘solar’ style of narrative which reorganized everyday life for symbolic effect.

Unlike the famous dolly shots of Hiroshima, Mon Amour (containing my favorite dolly shot ever) and Marienbad, the camera is always on a tripod and the editing makes movement in time more pronounced than in space. There are no flashbacks - everything happens in sequence, including Bernard’s recollections of Algeria. Deleuze notes that the film exists in an absent present: indeed, the characters don't know who they are or what they are doing (except Jean Champion’s Ernest, who intrudes into a dinner party to sing one of Resnais’ favorite childhood songs and set matters straight), are overcome by events of the past, and must suffer in life (like Cayrol) amid the many who have died.

Cayrol has spent a lifetime on the Blanchot ‘disaster'; here without any filmed footage of Algeria, the atrocities of the war are depicted and have ramifications on the action completely offscreen. With Resnais, who had just gone down this road with Duras in Hiroshima, Mon Amour and whose collaboration with Cayrol (Night and Fog) had previously been suppressed for diplomatic reasons, he is seeking to depict atrocities on a human scale, without the dehumanizing overabundance of carnage that you see in history films or in Hollywood action films. Muriel is a girl who is tortured in Bernard’s presence in Algeria, but we don’t know her, and neither did Bernard, so I speculate Cayrol is trying to replicate this detachment: Bernard’s obsession with the plight of someone he doesn’t know is neurotic in a film of only French middle class characters where he is expected to deal with his own problems and relationships but refuses to. It is notable how few French films deal with Algeria, even those of the patriotic Swiss-born Godard, and it is quite possible that Téchiné’s Changing Times, which has a similar story line of a reunion of elderly lovers involving North Africa and a title which may be taken from a line in Muriel, is a feel-good update of this movie.

12 March 2007

Resnais’ Muriel, or the Time of a Return comes out on DVD tomorrow; I don’t remember whether I ever had the chance to rent it on VHS, tho I don’t think I ever did. This 1963 NY Times review is truly impressive:

"...But that's about as much as I can fathom or tell you is evident in the fantastic display of hodge-podge movements, random details, erratic images and utterly nonsequential cutting that Mr. Resnais has arranged....For it strikes me that Mr. Resnais has here carried intentional elusiveness so far, without any evident justification for it, that he has killed the effectiveness of his film.... I get a feeling that Mr. Resnais is somehow pulling our legs, and I don't find it amusing."

09 March 2007

Review: Music

A wonderful Shostakovich’s 4th awaits you this Saturday night if you’re near Philly. Charles Dutoit’s tenure as interim skipper of the Philadelphia Orchestra will feature four years of speculation about which young conductor will get the nod to form the orchestra’s identity starting in 2012, and I am already won over by Ingo Metzmacher (pictured), whose cup of coffee this month seems to be going well. One of the reasons I like him, and the reason I suspect he won’t get hired, is this line from the program notes: ‘Metzmacher’s book, Keine Angst vor neuen Tönen, published in German by Rowohlt in 2005, is a plea for pioneering composers such as Ives, Messiaen, Schoenberg, Varèse, Stockhausen, and Cage.’

Today, Leopold Stokowski would never last in the orchestra he made world class. Basically now the Orchestra gets into a tough spot financially and the suits take over, don’t want to make a brave decision and don’t want new music. It’s because of the audience, we hear, though I have never seen more people at the concert hall as when they played Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder.

The strike highlighted the absurdity of the situation: old-timer Wolfgang Sawallich was hired in the early 90s, declaring immediately that ‘Mahler is too noisy,’ which meant any record contracts would have to take the form of some label wanting to put out the gazillionth Brahms’ 1st, and the sought after, groundbreaking recordings from the former Soviet bloc countries could be had for a pittance by the record labels. The musicians loved Wolfgang and his repertory but wondered why EMI ditched them, and went on strike in ‘96 over lower recording bonuses.

What went wrong with Eschenbach is something that those privy to the rehearsals are best to answer to; I’m inclined to think that a clash of musical philosophies doesn’t tell the whole story. As much as he represented to some the modernization of the orchestra, I saw the programming as an insufficient departure from convention, which I tended to associate with Esch though he does braver stuff across the pond. I did see his Mahler’s 6th that everyone talks about and do recommend the CD to those who don’t have the whole Mahler set – there his tendency for tinkering was most vindicated.

Dutoit was the only older conductor with a strong relationship with Philly, and his forte is modernism, which means I get some quality time with my beloved Stravinsky. French standards: Dutoit's rendering of Symphonie Fantastique is worth timing your romantic angst for and you can go deep into the Ravel catalogue, as he does, without finding anything you don’t want to hear. I remember his massive production of Honegger’s Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher, the sort of thing he tends to go out on a limb for, which one would expect me to like on account of my Francophile tendencies but I couldn’t get over the fact that the librettist Paul Claudel had dissed the Surrealists. Dutoit doesn’t strike me, though, as someone who goes out on a limb for anything after 1950, the decade when Stravinsky effusively praised Boulez’ Le marteau sans maître, which changed the face of French music thereafter.
Dream journey: Radioactive waste was coming out of a water fountain near the entrance of the park and I surrounded it with plastic chairs so that no one would touch it. Went home and Werner Herzog was on Hollywood Squares, bottom, right hand corner.

07 March 2007

Payback time

Baudrillard's death. Loss of confidence in his own genius. It is fatal to be an absolute reference. The loss was merely the biological transcription of the other process. The same thing happened to Barthes when he 'allowed himself to die.'

(someone had to do it)

L’Echange symbolique et la mort

‘Identity is untenable: it is death, since it fails to inscribe its own death..

‘Death is always simultaneously that which awaits us at the system’s term, and the extermination that awaits the system itself. There is only one word to designate the finality of death that is internal to the system, the one that is everywhere inscribed in its operational logic, and the radical counter-finality, ex-scribed from the system as such, but which everywhere haunts it: the same term of death, and only it can manifest itself on either side. This ambiguity can only be seen in the Freudian death instinct. It is not an ambiguity. It simply translates the proximity of realized perfection and the immediate defection of the system..

‘Death should never be interpreted as an actual occurrence in a subject or a body, but rather as a form, possibly a form of social relation, where the determination of the subject and value disappears. The object of reversibility puts an end simultaneously to determinacy and indeterminacy..

‘In truth, there is nothing left to ground ourselves on. All that is left is theoretical violence. Speculation to the death, whose only method is the radicalization of all hypothesis. Even the code and the symbolic are terms of simulation - it must be possible somehow to retire them, one by one, from discourse.’

-Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007

06 March 2007

Art in DC:

Johns at NGA: I walked through the Johns at a quick clip, to go stare at the faces of Family of Saltimbanques. Clement Greenberg wrote in the early 60s that Pop Art existed for collectors that couldn’t afford a Pollack and didn’t want a Norman Bluhm, and everything Johns has done from the beginning to the end was repeated ad nauseum throwing conceptual softballs to his buyers. I do like Rauschenberg because he used Pop techniques to find other possibilities.

Rembrandt at NGA: Crowded, I went for the loose drawings from the 1640s. Paris photos: tame Brassaïs, good Atgets, one good Nadar (who I noted once seemed to have decided that the camera was invented for Sarah Bernhardt, the Eiffel Tower and hermaphrodites), one great Dora Maar. Manet’s The Old Musician is a no-show these days, but at least The Tragic Actor (Rouvière as Hamlet) (pictured) isn't upstaged this way. Corcoran: Wall of Courbet - Pissarro - Monet, etc., free til mid-March.

African Museum - Body of Evidence: Worth seeing if you’re in town for William Kentridge’s Ubu etchings (pictured, Ubu Tells the Truth), Sue Williamson’s interactive reflection on Truth and Reconciliation, Ouattara Watts’ Basquiat-influenced Ka Cabala Voodoo. Small, but ritual masks await you in the next room.

Food in DC:

I happened on a Trinidadian take-out joint in Baltimore, the first in the US I’ve ever seen, and on the way back found another one in DC, in Takoma on the corner of New Hampshire and University (Carribean Palace, next to the Starbucks in the huge strip mall). A roti with everything (lentils, spinach, and spuds) puts you down $5, a potato pie $2.20. There’s delicious and then there’s food that makes you think you made a pact with Satan, this is on the high end of the latter. After that there was a nasty accident further North on NH, so I had to turn around and this led me to a Guyanese place and a wonderful Ghanaese market on Riggs just North of University. I was saving the roti for later so I had room for a Guyanese meat pie and their creamy calaloo :)

01 March 2007

One foot

The good news: In my third figure drawing class, I finally drew a somewhat acceptable foot.
The bad news: It was attached to an arm.

Au Lecteur

Everything that you’re confused about has been covered by a Newsweek Book series from the mid-70s called Great Matters of Confusion for Future Newsweek Readers.

24 February 2007

Review: Armory Show

Had a great time at the Armory Show; highly recommended for those on or near NYC before it closes Monday evening. People consider it an overwhelming amount of art to see but for me (who once did 18 museums on the 5-day Paris pass) it is just almost enough, acting overwhelmed is just silly; next year I want to get an earlier jump on things and see one of the other fairs the same day. After the first 100 galleries a brief visual fatigue sets in followed by a state of hypnosis which I find conducive to optimal reception. Plus the international fashion show of it all.. here what crowds there are, which seem to disperse somewhat during the dinner hour, are not such a detriment, and some of the cell conversations are downright hilarious in an unintentional way.

Perhaps the most powerful canvas was Daniel Richter’s The Owner’s Historic Lesson (Zwirner), which shows the back of a diabolical-seeming figure in shadow with a gallery of hooded death masks in the audience, bringing to mind works by Ensor, Picabia, and others. The coloration and composition pulls off this concept, the red and white background features the black figure in the center, as the viewer sees the scene from the perspective of the black figure.

Sean Kelly had wonderful new paintings by Ilya Kabakov – villages on mountaintops with upside-down villages meeting them from the top of the canvases - what seemed a Utopian Magritte vision. Another highlight from an old favorite was Marcel Broodthaers’ 1960s canvas replicating the page layout of Mallarmé’s Un coup de Dés (the first edition of which can be seen at the Rutgers New Brunswick, NJ’s Zimmerli) with straight lines (Crousel, Paris).

Audi was one of the corporate sponsors, and several jokes (cries) were made at the expense of Mercedes: Dongwook Lee’s new sculptures that portrayed the medallion with a plastic female nude as the interior three-pointed star, and elsewhere a 1974 Piero Golia that linked the medallions together to make a ritualistic necklace. Along with Dongwook Lee in Arario’s (Beijing) impressive lineup was Wang Guangyi’s ‘Great Criticism - Art Museum No’ which utilizes socialist realism for the broad strokes of a manifesto.

It’s not an Armory Show unless viewers are shocked, and though many tried, including a bloody, sensual Paul McCarthy photographic sequence, or a neon ‘Shit’ that greeted visitors through the turnstiles, I did see shocked people regarding Tracey Emin’s neon construction consisting solely of an oval containing the words ‘People like you need to fuck people like me.’ What I liked about it is its relation to the commercial tradition of neon - if you are not being shameless, why use neon? Another propagandist work I was sold on was Erwin Worm’s canvas (Krinzinger, Vienna) ‘Support Hegel,’ with minimal figurative illustration.

Also utilizing the commercial tradition was Ulrich Strothjohann’s lit signs that rearranged wordings from their retail beginnings. The Aachen gallery showing him also had wonderful Mexican photos chronicling archeology ancient and modern; doesn’t everyone grow up there wanting to be in the Anthropology Museum, the big show?

The progeny theme continued with Diego Fernandez’s ‘Vulgi Fabulae (Rise of the Giant Witch Craze)’ which stuck Marilyn Monroe’s partially obscured head with what looked like a piece of prefab insulation on top of it, above a vintage volume of ‘Catholic Viewpoint on Overpopulation’ by Anthony Zimmerman SOD with a base of cutouts of various Hollywood stars among which only Salma Hayek was recognizable to me.

I give the folks at Enrique Guerrero, Mexico DF credit for downing robust amounts of tequila during the proceedings, bringing back fond memories from my thirsty days down there when produce merchants would ply me with free shots while I was sorting through corn and avocados. Their offerings did not disappoint; Enrique Jozin’s ‘Practica (Fifty 12-oz. cartridges)' was wooden figurative constructions with bullet holes, and Pablo Helguera chipped in with thought-provoking photo diaries and collages that sorted out globalization.

Politics was present but tended to not focus itself directly on current goings on: one worthy attention-getter was Thomas Hirshhorn’s large, grotesque installation ‘Outgrowth - Family,’ which represented without subtlety the word out there. Martha Rosler’s mid-80s multimedia ‘If it's too bad to be true, it could be DISINFORMATION’ (pictured) focused on media distortions in reportage of the Contra War. Lara Almarcegui (Pepe Cobo, Madrid) centers her compositions amid the overdevelopment of São Paolo, in on canvas cataloging the building materials used, in photographs showing the vain battle of flora to remain glorious. Another vision of an urban future is the cartoon-like canvas Rickshawpolis from a gallery in India.

Comic Strip, 1968

Unreal city, scooters hydroplaning on ant clusters, the undead razing their unworld. Objects in Id’s mirror may be closer to Le Pen than they appear. The master trades classical distance for caricature, only those parts of the third dimension capable of freedom. Pop goes Greenberg’s resistance to kitsch, giant green jolly goes Pop. I, Tiresias, old man in an Isis costume, saw the first six episodes of Captain Pugwash, gathered the rest. Who’s laughing now, a part united of press syndicate, all the way to the comic bank. It’s love flies like a bird, it’s death flies like a plane.

21 February 2007

Flamenco, 1995

We don’t line up for Il Confomista for the soft colors of Paris but for the hard lines of EUR, the state’s shilling also building Storaro’s Forbidden City. Architecture feeding on alienation as its sponsors tend to do. Here everyone passes through longing for a village but finds a Malevich. But it’s self the light favors, the essence that remains, becoming what we know when blinded by beacons.

Stroszek, 1977

The pathos here is cheap, the pathos is for the people. Loplop stuffed inside an Allegory of Music, nothing declared at customs. The rabbit as king of the fire that is never consumed. Follow the sunset West and it never leaves you, your proverbial kicks means the proverb never has to end. The social contract has won, the camera won’t smoke it out of its cave. I know why they hawk omniscience. Ski lifts are cyclical, time is home.

Band of Outsiders, 1964

I’d like to see a basketball game in a room of ancient sculptures, with an audience of prisoners. Replicas will do for starters, perhaps thereafter: the real ones would sound an apocalyptic note, a ritual of expenditure, Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus. I saw a kid prancing through a museum somewhat recently, with the requisite reproach from Mom: here the Band storms the palace, taking their own sarcophagus by force while the Horatii look on helplessly, a tomb where they’ll never belong.

Pierrot Lunaire, 'Mondestrunken'

Dance: Rudolph Nureyev; Choreography: Glen Tetley; Music: Arnold Schoenberg; Translation of Giraud Into German: Otto Erich Hertleben

‘...into the waves flows a flood of Spring, the silent horizon. The eye tastes countless desires as they swim against the flood. The wine which with the eyes we drink, spilling night into the waves. The poet, devoted, fills with potion, mind of sky...’ - Albert Giraud, 1884

Sunlight, carne vale

Melting snow makes separate offerings to different senses, ‘la boue est faite de nos pleurs.’ The birds have returned. I have no previous memory of being healthy in the cold weather: last year it was a minor but persistent fever, the year before a hernia I mistook for something more threatening, the year before I crossed into Presidio, TX just in time to see the pretty girls in the supermarkets with ashes on their foreheads. My emotions are free from memory, inventions!

Off the ballot

Dream last night: I had to write a press release that an actress/model that was constantly gone on hard drugs was going to forgo a run for the school board. I think she was not running, though it’s possible that she was entering the race; it’s a good thing I don’t have to actually write the press release.

Anna Nicole-related: probably, though I don’t turn on the tube someone related the hullabaloo to me last week and I descended into a dozen or more news stories. You can invent scenarios that are more descriptive of these United States, even less extreme, more revelatory ones, it’s just hard, as it’s supposed to be.

19 February 2007

Tales of summer

Though none of these would be among my top two dozen favorite movies, I have been watching Éric Rohmer films set in summer resort areas to take my mind off the weather, a pastime I recommend because, among other reasons, no cinematographer photographs summer better than Néstor Almendros, and these are all shot by him unless noted. These don’t include films (like Chloé in the Afternoon) which may take place in the summer, just beach films and, yes, I’m going to rank them now:

1. Claire’s Knee. Respecting and liking the main characters of a Rohmer film is not a necessary requirement for its enjoyment, even though some of his films (like, say, Boyfriends and Girlfriends) cannot overcome the mundane characters that inhabit them. This film revolves around three likable characters, a fourth, Claire, who is more distant, and ancillary characters whose contemptibility is convenient. Much is gained from the presence of the writer Aurora whose conversations with the male protagonist about the minutia of his caprices are essential to the end product. You can’t ask for a more pleasant visual evocation of summer than this photography of the Alpine Annecy lake region. The DVD includes a wonderful 1999 short film by writer-director-actress Edwidge Shakti called The Curve, filmed with Rohmer's supervision.

2. Pauline at the Beach. As Rohmer’s films attempt to accurately depict the romantic behavior of different regions of France, one expects a different result in this, a film about vacationers from Paris to a nearby coast (St-Malo - Granville region, with some exterior footage of Mont-St-Michel) than, say, Clermont-Ferrand (where My Night at Maud’s takes place including extended church footage). Rohmer himself is from Alsace (real name Scherer), but I don’t think he sets a film in Alsace, though I would like to see one.

Just saw this.. Didn’t remember much from previous viewings but this is an absolutely fascinating film. Like Rohmer’s best films, every character is essential to the dramatic tension of the film. 15-year-old Pauline stays with the older Marion, who snubs the romantic Pierre for the deceitful, mediocre Henri, who in turn mentors the young Sylvain, who had been flirting with Pauline. Spoiler alert: All the characters come off as contemptible except Pierre, who, since he’s the romantic protagonist, we expect to see win his sentimental payoff or at least follow him into dejection. Instead he disappears from the film completely in the last act and we are left with only the characters connected by a web of deception, followed by an epilogue which is likewise guided more by Rohmer’s perceptions of human behavior than sentimental cinematic conventions.

A Summer’s Tale. This is a very enjoyable film full of likable characters and some delightful sea shanties. It is set in Brittany, which makes for lush scenery and you can guess how the traditional Celtic setting affects the outcome of the film. Amiable musician Gaspard has to choose between three girls, two of whom are quite personable and one which is his snobby would-be girlfriend that has been avoiding him, and his indecision takes up 95% of the film. Shot by Diane Baratier, various scenes on Youtube without subtitles.

4. Summer (also The Green Ray). This film follows a sulking young vegetarian woman who feels (with justification) above other people that has no plans for her summer vacation, no boyfriend, and no one to travel with. The Aristotelian crisis is that she doesn’t have a plan for having fun. As you would expect this makes for fine cinema, starting in Paris and moving to the Alps and Biarritz. Shot by Sophie Maitigneux, co-written by the lead actress, with a lot of improvisation.

5. La Collectionneuse. In The Five Obstructions, a favorite of mine, Jørgen Leth describes this as his favorite Rohmer film while hiring its star, Patrick Bauchau, for his short film with no obstructions which he sets initially in Bauchau’s native Belgium. La Collectionneuse is Bauchau’s first break in what became a long film career. Claire’s Knee is his best performance from what I’ve seen, but here the film is set around a tension between Bauchau, the host of a St. Tropez villa and ‘The Collector,’ a female guest who beds a parade of guys he doesn’t like, a tension that doesn’t become all too dramatic for my tastes.

17 February 2007

What would you do without you?

15 February 2007

Clever parables

This evening I was putting together a long post on Zamyatin, and I never got the Wyndham Lewis book out to get the quote right. It’s the first ‘item’ on the Code of the Herdsman: “Never maltreat your own intelligence with parables. It is a method of herd-hypnotism.” Close enough.

The second item in the Code is about cleverness. Even though I had no idea where the idea for that ‘whose clever’ post came from at the time, I’m sure now it did come from faint memories of the passage “Do not admit cleverness, in any form, into your life.” You can write a three volume book going through all these statements and analyzing them.

I don’t agree with much of the Code, and the idea of a Code does sound scary coming from him, but it is full of his ability to cut through the BS and make you really think.

13 February 2007

Killer application

On Line: giving the rhetoric somewhere else to go... til it’s all gone.. Single file.. No stopping til it’s gone...came, saw, emptied...

12 February 2007

Shanna's Dusie trio

Am enjoying Shanna Compton’s wonderful poems in Dusie, which retain what’s striking about Down Spooky while rapidly developing new possibilities. ‘A Novel’ looked at first Stein-influenced exercise, but I am struck by how it proceeds initially as a chronicle of unrelated personas, and then proceeds to suggest very fragile hints of interrelationships between the sentences/ images presented. Wherever it comes from, it seems to resound with Imagism/Vorticism in how items are simply presented, with some Tropism in the estrangement of the component parts.

‘Bloody Intellect’ continues more in the vein of the ‘inside/ outside’ socio-themes of Down Spooky, with the oxymoronic title commenting abruptly on the character study of the poem, beginning with the question, ‘What’s intellect go to do..’ into the critique of getaway into concept. ‘We’re loving it’ captions her travel photos as a personal take on the old song of sense and landscape, the sort of subject matter and received syntax (thank you.., our official position..) that frames and amplifies what’s new to do here.

A joy to read these free, fun poems on a blah, Wintery Monday.. :)

11 February 2007

Poem comprised entirely of Three Stooges titles

he cooked his goose
Africa screams
so you won’t t-t-t-talk
hold that lion!

where’s the matador
malice in the palace
the choke’s on you

hand of death
hold that ghost

art trouble
pop goes the easel
it ain’t hay

10 February 2007

Electric ascension


I'll collect my thoughts until Ron posts something in a few days.

The elephant hand

I was trying to make sense of the second paragraph of Ryan’s post where discussion of individualism segways into crevaces and pillars, and it made me think of the Hindu elephants. This is a watercolor I’ve seen in Philly throughout my life, of a Rajasthani ‘composite elephant’ comprised of different animals. The one pictured is from the British library:

Elephants are pillars in Hindu sculpture as the guardian deities facing the eight compass directions are mounted on them. Thus there is no difference between a particle and a pillar.

Hindu myths say elephants were formed of water, and the elephant hand of Shiva, the one that points down at the highest foot, is the one that says that the elephant always steps into new terrain first, that the ego is a blip on the radar, but the self which is part of the whole of the universe is eternal.

09 February 2007

Lately (1) cabin fever trumps avoiding the cold and (2) there’s a lot of cool stuff going on, so I’ve been out a lot. Initially the cold nights gave me a headache, but my head is getting used to things and I know not to wear a baseball cap instead of a beanie. Tonight rocked: two free shows of poetry and music back to back, Flarf and three sets of jazz from the Ars Nova Workshop.

On the way to the Flarf show what sounded like gunshots went off at the hour of six, and I thought perchance it was Flarf-related and/or Chris Daniels was being set up as the patsy. When I got there I was glad everyone was okay. Ran a tad late and I expected standing room only for this verse-u-tainment event where I’d be staring at the monitor or the fireplace in the living room. No, ample empty seats. A cold night, but when they get tenure their audiences will increase threefold as will their backlash, a cadre of two dozen anonymous gradschool detractors with lame-sounding internet handles.

Had fun, laughed and guffawed a lot and got to see Gary, Sharon, Nada, and hear Mike Magee for the first time. & Rod’s one of my half dozen favorite living poets, for those who want me to make more declarative crit comments on this supposed poetry blog. The biggest laugh came when Gary said ‘Has Gary Sullivan dragged Charles Bernstein further than Bernstein dragged Charles Olson past the tree where Olson once dragged Ezra Pound? -Ron Silliman’ and I’m sure somewhere between 95% to 100% of the people laughing didn’t know that Ron Silliman actually did say it.

I have only had good things to say about Flarf, and what criticisms I have have been pretty well covered in a post by Gary last June in which he seemed to appropriate the arguments of several detractors he lambasted. You probably won’t see a flame war between the two of us, which would produce enough Hibernian argumentative rage to cause an East Coast blackout. As Ezra Pound once said: 'When you can build your own chair you release yourself from the whole Flarfian cycle.'

After the reading, duty to the Muses required me to rush over to the Rotunda after stuffing my face with a poor imitation of Mexican food. The first act was the Rova Sax Quartet, which I thought was to be the only show, and went on for about 45 minutes. The last number they did, Certain Space, was one of the best live compositions I’ve heard and I will note in this space when it is released on CD unless I am on a Himalayan mountain or thereabouts. They’ll be playing a not-free show Saturday night featuring additional cats including Andrea Parkins whose ‘Slippage’ I listen to repeatedly, which I may attend and will definitely be attended by a certain poetry blogger whose comments field I am known to frequent.

I had no idea that there would be three bands, and after the second I was tired and wanted to go home, and I thought the show was over anyway. After all, who wants to go on after the Rova Quartet? What can you do to top that? Mike Pride’s trio provided that answer, in an unforgettable OOOOMMMMMGGGGG moment for everyone present. I will comment on his From Bacteria to Boys CD, perhaps on this comment field below, when I listen to it, but you can just jump the gun and get it now. I have to note a superhuman alto sax by Darius Jones and inspired bass by Evan Lipson. My night became much less free as I was compelled to stock up on his recorded oeuvre, of which I have decided that I have to listen to the four selected discs for the first time in my car because my home stereo and Walkmen don’t have subwoofers. Luckily, my car stereo is configured (by me, a great way to fend off the temptation to get a new car, & and everyone says it’s the best they’ve heard) to sound like the inside of Art Blakey’s head during the late 50's, so this stuff fits right in.

06 February 2007

New releases

Have been enjoying the YouTube blogging thing because it's all right there, not involving the normal consumerist prompting that accompanies the recommendation of passive entertainments. But there’s six, count ‘em, six Satyajit Ray films coming out today: Mayanagar (The Big City), Charulata, Mahapurush (The Holy Man), Kapurush (The Coward), Nayak (The Hero), and Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God).

04 February 2007

Review: Who’s clever ‘07

As you may have guessed, being called clever by me is not a compliment. But part of being clever by my designation means not giving a damn what I think; I make sure of that. I don’t really have anyone particular in mind: What? Why? Last year some crafty people made it in.

Cause & effect

I’m sitting here in a chair now. I suspect if you saw me you’d understand me better than I understand myself, which is why for the moment you’re there and I’m here.

02 February 2007

Review: Music

My interest in Andy Gricevich’s work began with his comments on Silliman’s Blog and then extended to his poems, but I really hadn’t listened to the Prince Myshkins until last Thursday night. As I have lately acquired the taste for post-industrial towns in hilly valleys, I had been meaning to see the Lehigh Valley so I took Thursday off to day-trip there to see them play and hang with Andy and songwriter Rick Burkhardt.

The highlight of the visit was definitely the Myskins show, followed by a quick Sargent study painted for a friend of his at the Allentown Art Museum, early editions of Leaves of Grass at the Lehigh U gallery illustrating how its reception influenced successive cover design and Whitman’s self-image, and H.D.’s grave (like Jesus, she was born in Bethlehem). Gastronomically, the Valley is the Lyon of the Hot Dog, featuring the delicious natural casings of the Yocco's chain centered in Allentown and many unique establishments like Charlie’s Pool Room in Alpha, New Jersey, where two brothers make dogs with an inimitable sauce invented by their Hungarian grandmother in a building that was once the City Hall and whose hospitality and local history lectures enjoyably detained me for an hour and a half.

‘Tis not the time for me to explicate the reasons why I don’t listen to much political folk despite my civic passions, but I find a lot of it to be predictable, too dependent on the bogeymen du jour, and my favorite period of Dylan is right after he went electric, to make a few points briefly. However, the Myshkins two sets blew me away, both musically and lyrically. Rick’s accordian and Andy’s guitar were steeped in years of loving absorption in Kurt Weill’s rhythms, their use of physical comedy was meticulously crafted, and the lyrics were hilarious, insightful, and animated by the enigmas of citizenship and culture in our age of politics and media.

Lisa Jarnot’s evocation of the Fugs as a frame of comparison rings true to me in how they both utilize rapid fire melodies to give your mind plenty to think about and behold. Although they jokingly describe their work as intentionally temporary, each of their two albums is a stimulating capsule of a political era that, like the Fugs first two albums, holds up to extremely frequent listenings: Total Myshkin Awareness, which covers the W. years and Shiny Round Object, which harkens us back to the post-Seattle, post Contract for America era.