31 December 2011

Ah the SUVs and industrial emissions that bring sunny new years like these. There was only one day a while back when before dawn I stood there thinking that the sun might not come up, because I was far from the clocks and had nothing else to obsess over but more importantly, I didn't need pity, the sun's. Kerouac and Petrarch both say that's why the sun comes up. You know it's coming when you need the pity.

28 December 2011

I began to mention while writing about Turner's Sea Monster how the elements of the St. George and the Dragon story seem to have crossed north into the Adriatic Sea from the Ionian, combining the python slain by Apollo in Delphi (above, left) with the story line of Theseus slaying the Minotaur at Knossos (right), and how the 8th to 10th Centuriy barbarian attacks in Amasea, Turkey gave inspriration to the sea monsters slain by Venice's patron saint Theodore. In the late 17th Century, the epic figure Gjergj Elez Alia became the subject of Albanian songs which were influenced by the Bosnian equivalent Alija Djerzelez, believed to be inspired by a 15th Century Ottoman military commander of the Hungarian Succession Wars. Baloz, Gjergj Elez Alia's adversary, is alternately described as a Northern marauder and a sea monster: in Robert Elsie's translation of the ballad "Rumour was spreading and it became known that/ A swarthy baloz had emerged from the ocean" and as with the Minotaur, women are sacrificed to it until the protagonist slays it.

The Bosnian, Serbo-Croat language ballads of Alija Djerzelez, possibly influenced by the bugarštica tradition of ballads that have been traced to the 15th Cenutry, are no longer sung in their original form, but the Albanian Songs of the Frontier Warriors, incorporating the story of Gjergj Elez Alia, have been passed on by an oral tradition and retain their popularity. As Elsie says "While the Bosnian Slav epic seems to have died out as a living tradition, the Albanian epic is still very much alive. Even as the twenty-first century marches on, one can still find a good number of 'lahutars' in Kosova, in particular in the Rugova highlands west of Peja, and in northern Albania, as well as some rare souls in Montenegro, who are able to sing and recite the heroic deeds of Mujo and Halili and their thirty 'agas,' as part of an unbroken oral tradition. One can safely assume that these elderly men constitute the very last traditional native singers of epic verse in Europe."

For whatever reason I came upon what I believe are these ballads on Christmas night as they have just been uploaded onto Youtube in recent years. This one and this one mention Gjergj Elez Alia on their Youtube title, and incorporate the two-stringed çifteli which has in most cases replaced the one-stringed lahuta, the Albanian version of the Greek lyra that gave its name to lyric poetry. Both those videos are compelling traditional renditions of an orally transmitted vocal range, but the nationalistic significance of the Songs of the Frontier Warriors can be seen in two videos with more than 200,000 viewings, in which a pair I believe is called Beqa and Muja performs in military fatigues with what appears to be rooms filled with Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers, full of user comments celebrating the Kosovar Albanian cause.

..these songs seem to have the same melodic structure as the Gjergj Elez Alia songs..

Milman Parry's theory of oral-formulaic composition derives from trips Parry made with Albert Lord to the region in the 1930s, in which they recorded over ten thousand texts in both Serbo-Croatian and Albanian. The fact that only the Albanian songs remain suggest their cultural isolation since World War II may have played a part in preserving the oral traditions. Parry and Lord put forth the notion that repetitions of verses in Homer's epics meant that these songs could shed light on the oral tradition of Homeric poetry, which has been contested by others, but this is what remains of the orally transmitted epic in Europe.

23 December 2011

What's up for two more days, v.2, I mean one more day

Because the Saturday gallery hours are being eliminated this weekend so that the tent cities in the urban centers can be cleared out by authorities and replaced with sculptures of a manger in a gated community with a baby in swaddling clothes, my Two Days Left column culled from wanderings a few days ago has been reduced to a One Day Left, which means you have only tomorrow to see the haunting images of the Iraqi Halim Al Karim in his NYC debut at Stux (530 W 25th), who says "the main challenge for me is to identify and stay clear of the historical and contemporary elements of brainwashing" and "nobody in Iraq hasn’t lost somebody or at least part of their own character." From the gallery press release: "During the Iran-Iraq war, Halim’s family was forced out of their home in Baghdad. Halim was unwillingly conscribed to serve in the Iraqi military during the first Gulf War, which the artist describes as, 'a fearfully lonely and harrowing journey.' Halim Al Karim soon escaped the military and sought refuge in a rock-covered hole in the southern Iraqi desert. He attributes his physical and emotional survival to an elderly Bedouin woman who brought him food and water, as well as educated him about mysticism and gypsy customs. Aided by this wise and kind stranger, the artist retreated to a deeply meditative state that enabled him to distance his memory from the atrocities of war. He emerged from seclusion on occasion, refusing to disclose his whereabouts to his friends or family for fear of jeopardizing his family and his own safety.

".... Hidden ... incorporates the Sufi concept of 'al-batin' in Arabic, one of the ninety-nine names of Allah that denotes 'truth' when recited. The series references the artist’s perspective that humanity is best preserved from brutal acts of violence when an inner focus is maintained and hidden from view. A number of works within the theme are covered with a tightly stretched sheer scrim of white or black silk; this compositional device represents a transcendental portal to the subconscious, where the serene human form latently lies protected underneath." (pdf)

As to whether you should check out Nan Goldin's Scopophilia show (522 W 22 Street) all you need to know is that it has been banned from a Rio de Janeiro museum because of works like this one, that one, this one and that one, utilizing the Baudelarian method of juxtaposing paintings at the Louvre that she photographed during off hours with the contemporary folks from her own photographic oeuvre. Piri' Miri Muli' readers are accustomed to theoretical concepts mentioned here in passing becoming trendy in a year and a half's time but this approach more likely drew some inspiration from Chris Marker's project over the last half decade about which he noted “Cocteau used to say that at night, statues escape from museums and go walking in the streets," one painting making it into both shows. Goldin takes the technique in an expanse of directions and adds a slide show recounting the stories of Narcissus and Theseus.

14 December 2011

to see
by day

then not so
much at night

then more
then less

not to stop
not will

29 November 2011

In Wild Strawberries the dreams are a ripoff of Maya Deren's - a Piri' Miri Muli' exclusive I think - and this conclusion to the evening nap was a ripoff of that. I was to receive an award and was fitted in a cross between a hussar's uniform and a toucan - which I was convinced was a dig at me except as I walked around the apartment complex I saw others with the same outfit. I had a hooded sweatshirt that was hanging out of the uniform but couldn't find my apartment to take it off and leave it there. I started to walk around and then got very lost, to the point where I would need to take a bus back, I was soon in a country town, and there was a garden on a hill with steps with labels but they were for the plants, above the garden was signs and banners for the post office, school, and hospital, and I saw that there was one for the mausoleum which was perfect because I could navigate by mausoleums, except here the mausoleum wasn't for anyone in particular it was just a mausoleum which makes my mausoleum navigation system inoperable. So someone who was with me suggested hiring a bicycle excursion to Vermont and back, since when it returned we would get directions back to the award ceremony, no impulse to ask any directions outside profit motive, and in the carpeted new unfurnished office of the tour guide we were given corn chips but this large growling dog parked underneath us and wanted all the corn chips, was given a lesser corn chip but wanted ours, this dog was I suspect the anthropomorphic incarnation of my concerns from earlier in the afternoon.

17 November 2011

When Kant heard the news of revolution, he interrupted his walk. Goethe continued his. How pretentious of them both!

-Aragon, Treatise

15 November 2011

such a
r as arms-

wind re
ading me

09 November 2011

Videos from Saura's Fados are starting to pop up, like this which starts with Grândola until Chico Buarque's head pops up and sings the Brazil-themed "Fado Tropical": "this land will fulfill its ideal/ and still recall an immense Portugal," interspersing both songs with footage from Portugal's Carnation Revolution.

Grândola, which signaled the start of the Carnation protests when played on the radio after midnight, is here matched with pictures from the Arab Spring:

Caetano Veloso, who once told a stadium that mass aversion to experimental literature was "a sphinx," here sings the Amália Rodrigues classic "Estranha Forma de Vida" ("strange life form/ my heart..") with Amália's eye pictured on the back wall. Rodrigues, who adapted lyrics from poets like Pedro Homem de Mello and David Mourão-Ferreira to music, wrote "Estranha Forma de Vida" originally as a poem:

Amália's version from 1961:

I have been gradually posting the Saura-Vittorio Storaro videos from a while back that I watch repeatedly and was watching this one today. Alosno (Huelva province, Spain) is 248 miles from Cadiz, closer to the Portuguese border than Seville, 381 miles from Lisbon, really in the middle of nowhere but close enough to Portugal to be influenced by fado in subject matter and song structure while the melody and percussion are firmly flamenco. Storaro switches from low key lighting to high contrast for "and the break of day" as Nietzsche didn't say in Daybreak: She filled my glass while she spoke of three winters ago and for five nights and days.

03 November 2011

Wednesday night when the texts want
a function they grab one we stopped
where Neither Fashion Nor Denial on
her grave was mourned from a chariot
above the ghosts of the loggers still
sawing away the antlers on the empty
picture frames eating soup marked
for export I asked him to paint the bus
orange and now it's an orange the
cadets moved the mountain I think
of Dean Moriarty but speak of the
function again where the mountain
had been in the shade marked below

its function like the floating pages
disguised as leaves am to cover
the footprints those i don't know

or they were racing on tv sets
when the children were counting logs
west to east and back again water
is branded like tear drops on the backs

glass that isn't there seen through
the mountain down by by way it

28 October 2011

I'd never seen Liberty Plaza Park absent of Occupation, so I have no idea whether it looks large on a normal day, but it has the aura of a delightfully crowded sardine can that makes walking into a constant conversation and negotiation and will not show a yard of empty space any time soon. Hovering above it is the red, large scale sculpture Joie de Vivre by Mark di Suvero, one of the most politically engaged artists of his generation. In the 70's he said "I left the country because of the Vietnam War. We say democracy, and then the United States is guilty of something like Chile. That's incredible." Recently he reflected "The 60's scene was an idea of liberation, was an idea of struggling against this military industrial complex that's still ruling our economy."

di Suvero designed the Peace Tower in Los Angeles in 1966 (left), financed by Rauchenberg and Stella amongst others, which so enraged locals that the artists had to defend it physically, with Irving Petlin at one point reduced to brandishing a broken light bulb. Participants included Guston, Golub, Spero, Hesse, Judd, Motherwell, Nevelson, Rosenquist and many other luminaries. The project was revisited at the 2006 Whitney Biennial with di Suvero collaborating with Rikrit Tiravanija, who had attempted to build a tower in Central Park for the 2004 Republican National Convention.

di Suvero recounted in 2006 why he didn't speak at the recent dedication of Liberty Plaza Park: “They’re not going to let me talk,” Mark di Suvero, 72, said genially, explosively, from his studio hard by the river in Long Island City. “Nah, they’re scared. I got arrested during the [Republican] convention for saying Bush lied. I was one of the oldest people that got hauled in. You should have seen how the cops treated the young girls.” In the city where hovers the legend of Rothko withdrawing his commissioned paintings from the Four Seasons because, as the story goes, he "believed his panels would hang in a boardroom which would be visible from an employees' canteen, that they would be accessible to ordinary office workers.." di Suvero may have wondered back then what sort of audience his sole Manhattan public sculpture would have, until this fall when the best audience he could ever have hoped for convened below it.

As Picasso's 1946 Le Joie de Vivre portrait of Françoise Gilot rose above the nymphs and satyrs by the sea of Antibes, perhaps friends or descendants of the nymphs of Matisse's St-Tropez canvas 40 years earlier (below, currently being stolen from the Barnes estate), di Suvero's figure first rose above the sculptural nymphs on the Pont Alexandre III over the Seine. It then had a brief residence at Storm King, until its original Manhattan abode on the New York side of the Holland Tunnel. I may have driven past it countless times as I like to cross at Holland and then turn left up Broadway to drive through Soho, but I am always focused on the signs and traffic patterns to get into correct lane so I would conjecture that circle is not a prime exhibition space.

Unlike Dubuffet's nearby trees and, across the street, Noguchi's red cube, di Suvero's structure directs the eye upwards towards the skyscrapers that Ginsberg believed in the 50's were depersonalizing the city and dwarfing the potential of the individual "Moloch whose buildings are judgement!.. Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the streets as endless Jehovahs!" This function of a figure re-sized for the surrounding buildings is in contrast to its function in Paris and Storm King (below), but these days there is no shortage of nymphs and satyrs evoking an urban Riviera in the park. It has been roped off since a misguided young Canadian recently climbed it, prompting the police to summon the hostage negotiation team. Previous to that, it was a useful conference space, i.e. "Direct Action meeting at the red sculpture," and one amateur cartographer called it on an Occupied map the "weird red thing."

It would be interesting if di Suvero visited or participated in the protests in some way, except ... oops!.. his wife is in Bloomberg's cabinet... but luckily, as di Suvero said back in the day, "everything I have to say is in my sculptures and I'm stunned that you can't see it."

20 October 2011

What's up for two more days

I generally don't like to write up how wonderful and can't miss shows are right before (or after) they close but .. but what? Why? alright I won't

ok this Youtube doesn't do justice to the many faces and un-faces of the Nick Cave Soundsuits so you should get in there, what a wonderful can't miss...

more on 24th: The last Lari Pittman show at Gladstone had me typing and I like this one more - here where Titian would depict a lute player in the allegory of sight tradition, Pittman writes out the names of Iberian musical forms (fado, saeta, saudade, and the more Italian pavane) to represent sound and emotion, postcards of tourist locations (Monserrat 1757, Yellowstone 1878) to represent time and space, as well as references to psychological archetypes (anima, animus) in his in his DayGlo acrylic, cel-vinyl, aerosol laquer, and gesso.

The new internationally focused C24 opened with quite a good "Double Crescent" show putting artists from New Orleans side by side with artists from Istanbul, including Skylar Fein's reconstruction of the Vertov Telegram, believed to have been sent right after the murder of Rosa Luxemborg: "Down with the scented veil of kisses, murders, doves, and conjuring tricks! We need conscious people, not an unconsious mass, ready to yield to any suggestion! Long live the consciousness of the pure who can see and hear!"

26th: Do Ho Suh crafts a model of his pagoda-like childhood home in Korea crashing into an apartment dwelling in Providence, RI. Upon entering it it looks like a model of Federal architecture from a museum, but the interior dollhouses on the reverse side intricately show contemporary use of both upscale interiors and heavy metal crash pads beset by the catastrophe of Suh's house crashing into them.

29th: Leandro Erlich has lots of spacial dislocation fun with elevators at Sean Kelly.

As I am the core marketing demographic for Eve Sussman's Alphaville pastiche utilizing post-industrial and oil city visuals from Northern Russia (below), I quite liked it but didn't get the memo that the scenes are randomly generated and the film never ends, so I was sitting there a while waiting to see how it ends up until a very large and loud tour group (the first I'd ever seen in those parts) provided me the opportune rationalization to forgo the dénouement and epilogue I was awaiting in vain. Quite worthy of an extended gaze if you have the time. (pdf)

Up longer: the Black Mountain show til the 29th (chapbooks of Olson, Creeley, Blackburn, Duncan with his illustrations, plenty of paintings), Ashbery collages, Ilya Kabakov drawings (pdf), Indian masters, Lisette Model photos alongside a few drawings by Grosz, Dix and others (pdf), Fluxus.

14 October 2011

If you haven't heard, Bloomberg wants to clean up Wall Street and he's not talking about the SEC or the Department of Treasury doing it. Using the same tactic he used to disperse Bloombergville, he wants to evict everyone tomorrow at 7am for cleaning, and afterwards no one will be allowed to take sleeping bags, tarps, "personal items," or "gear" back into the park. The campers are of course willing to do the work themselves to bring about the worldly paradise seen on my Blogger photo. (Update: The cleanup was "postponed" perhaps due to good legal advice, the 300,000 name petition or the thousands (including Joris) that joined the campers this morning, or maybe Tim Geithner heard they were going to clean up Wall Street and put a stop to it.)

In Philly, where so far Mayor Nutter has had a more simpatico relationship with the occupation, allowing, for instance, tents, November 15 is the date which is looming: plans have been in the works to renovate the area around City Hall being occupied, and though they had previously planned to start the renovation in September, I suspect the Mayor and the unelected board that controls the neighborhood is not eager to postpone the work because of the tent city. Discussions amongst the protestors as to what to do are ongoing, but the nearby Love Park cannot accommodate the tents currently pitched. It appears if the Mayor doesn't delay the renovations there will be a confrontation of some kind.

I haven't been doing much camping out in general lately and I am home now. The last two days I have been able to combine my commutes with readings of legendary writers. Cecilia Vicuña was talking tonight about Régis Debray questioning her quoting him as saying revolution cannot happen without womens' liberation, so me being me I had to rattle off a list in the Q&A of guys who did say that (in my defense, there was also a question that I eventually remembered), or at least substituting "progress" for "revolution," although "revolution" was invoked by some on this list: Hegel, Goethe, Marx, Breton, Paz (and that's just the guys).. I don't think I said Kant but I think he did say so too, and most tragically I forgot to mention Fourier! So, Fourier too, Piri' Miri Muli' readers. (Update 10/14: Rousseau, too, can't believe I forgot him) And I had never met Jerome Rothenberg til yesterday. I'm working on an essay that involves him but I didn't get into that, explaining who I was by mentioning my short essay on his blog, but I of course didn't prep about that past essay so my first interactions involved me saying "you know the Russian guy" and then we named about six or seven Russian poets til I could come up with Velimir Khlebnikov. Before I could remember the name I thought maybe "the guy who wrote Victory Over the Sun" would work, except again I couldn't remember the title so I was coming up with "Antagonism With the Sun" and so forth. I have a lot of stories like that but of course if you feel comfortable telling them all then they're not that good.

27 September 2011

What's up

It is interesting that for both Dana Schutz and Daniel Richter, two figurative artists that have been noted in proximity with the phrase "the return of painting," James Ensor has been a primary inspiration.

Actually I recently found online an alternate oil version (left) to Richter's The Owner's History Lesson (right) from a couple years back:

I also suspect Schutz' influenced by Sigmar Polke, or that they both have internalized Guston in their own way. While Daniel's non-relation Gerhard strictly demarcates between the figurative and non-figurative, the line between the two becomes less clear in Schutz' canvases in ways that tend to work differently in each one, especially as she says she is moving from Guston to looking at Johns, Dubuffet and Charline von Heyl*. Since Giovanni Bellini conspired against the younger Giorgione there's also been a tight/ loose brush stroke dichotomy, both in figurative and Abstract Expressionism, with Caravaggio and Helen Lundeberg amongst others representing the hard-edge. Before Neo Rauch was known in the US, Arthur Danto used a critique of the hard edge to call Surrealism "retrograde," citing Magritte, the sort of statement like his prattle about "the end of painting" that he typically gets burned on.

The last time Schutz was up at Zach Feuer I thought I would go in reading as little as possible ahead of time to see if I liked her or not, and by the second long visit in two hours I was roasting marshmallows in Camp Schutz. I have noted here my interest in Daumier's dramatic tableaux, and my favorite Charles Demuth is the early illustrations, so you may have figured that I can't get enough of the dramatic tableaux, which Schutz serves up in large portions no two alike, historical dimensions with ambiguity that soaks its way into the brush stroke. Yau says "Schutz’s drawings begin in abstraction—a gouache band or ovoid stain, a thick or thin line in ink and dry brush, a stained field of black dots. Each linear addition brings further definition until finally a figure emerges," a method similar to Ernst's use of frottage and decalicomania to deal with the white canvas.

I mention this because she has a museum show in Purchase, NY (to go with a gallery show in Not-for-sale, NJ) of 42 works which opened this past Sunday, which will make its way to Miami and Denver.

Also, that Hesse girl is showing oils in Brooklyn, apparently the fiberglass isn't selling.


I mentioned Dubuffet's writings recently on this blog but in the end I find them good for a painter and not for a writer, and he says at one point that painting is better than writing. He says that because he's a painter and he's not much of a writer, although he expresses himself thoughtfully and originally. Friends of Artaud say he thought writing was 'pigshit' because he was too drugged out to be Proust, which is true on some level, but it freed him up to escape the laws of writing and express something else. Art Brut's appeal to the economic base is its infantilism. Infantilism and bureaucracy can work together well. The Visionary Museum in Baltimore inevitably has begun to have shows of MFAs, just as the MFAs enforce infantilism in literature.

But this quote of his is interesting: "You think you control the things you're interested in and choose to hold dear; what if you are completely mistaken? What if the things you claim to like, that you are convinced you love, are actually and ultimately alien and indifferent to you, whereas other things, unsuspected, which you would be quite astonished to learn play a part in your life, were actually of prime importance, were essential movers in your existence? It's not out of the question. When people affirm their liking for this or that, be careful not to believe a word of it, since they know the least about their taste: the floor of a room, the head of a stairway - they claim they've never noticed them and hardly realize they even exist...

"The things we truly love, the things forming the basis and roots of our being, are generally the things we never look at. Wherever collusion is deep and an attachment is solidly established, the eyes and the conscious mind can mind their own business. Consciousness requires a certain distance... The conscious deals with the unfamiliar or inadequate experience: the moment we're deeply imbued, we're done with the conscious. The objects we isolate clearly within our field of gazing are those still foreign to us. As we grow to like them, they pass into, and no longer before, our eyes, and we are no longer aware of their presence."


At the moment Wall Street has eclipsed Soho and Chelsea for the best art show in town and Piri' Miri Muli' wouldn't think for a moment to suggest otherwise. A video of two women participating in Occupy Wall Street getting pepper sprayed has gone viral, and police brutality of a more widespread sort is what induced the Sorbonne students to march in solidarity with the Nanterre students in May '68. In fact, I'm concerned that the shift of creative vitality from Soho and Williamsburg to Wall Street will lead to rising real estate prices that will drive out current Wall Street residents. Media coverage started to appear on Saturday with the usual columns framing arguments on behalf of the economic élites, taking the protesters to task for not having a specific demand. The march organizers had made the decision long ago to open the "occupation" to discussion over what such a demand would be, a welcome development in contrast to protest organizers that are wont to say "I need bodies," betting that such a process for a demand could constructively emerge. I would suggest this: public funding for elections. Protests for the overturning of Citizens United are sorely needed, as there is bipartisan opposition to the Supreme Court ruling among the rank and file of the two major parties and predictable apathy in Washington to pass the necessary legislation, but if/when it is overturned you're left with the same old campaign finance system that not only didn't work but made things like Citizens United and the Iraq War possible.

You can expect public financing of elections to cost a little more than what is spent on campaigns today, though it doesn't have to, but even if it does, the public can well afford it: 2-5 billion a year for all the races in the country. What we can't afford is all the candidates that take a bribe of a nickel from a corporation and pay them back a dollar of corporate welfare from the public funds - we've tried that for years and it got us a Super Congress for debt reduction, along with cuts in the Securities and Exchange Commission and similar agencies. Our congress with an historically low approval rating knows that they owe their careers to the current system of funding, so the public must take the initiative.

Also, Pasolini's comment from '68: "When you clashed with the policemen at Valle Giulia, I sympathized with them. Because policemen are children of the poor" applies here. An NYPD policeman told Michael Moore in solidarity that Wall Street stole their pension fund, but they know Michael is a regular guy. I agree with those columnists that say there's too much effort spent by college kids heckling the cops, when they should be discussing policy. That said, the cops are ordered to represent the interests of what is being protested and I've experienced how tear gas makes you angry and talkative, to go with the brutality the protesters have witnessed from the hands of some like Officer Bologna. I don't think Pasolini would have liked Officer Bologna, he was Roman.

(Update 9/29: CA Conrad weighs in inside a grey polygon on Huffpost)

I don't agree with Arthur Danto's view that the essential art is in New York, though I note both that Wall Street is in New York and that there have been supportive protests elsewhere. I'll let you know when I agree with him about something.


Criterion came out with The Complete Jean Vigo on August 30, so if I label this a New on dvd citation it is only because a certain mail rental company that has wallowed in the negative attentions of the masses recently, a company that makes no attempt to offer all of Criterion's titles in concert with a larger cultural push to dumb down cinematic audiences, releases it to its subscribers tomorrow. Complete means all of Vigo til his death at 29, including a documentary juxtaposing the idyllic port of Nice with its corruption, no less relevant today, and Zero for Conduct, for which my longstanding adoration has thankfully not affected my good attitude for school. And of course the restoration of L'Atalante (on Youtube sans sous-titres en Anglais), the only comedy and the only film before World War II to make my Top 15. This is not to say I have thought long and hard what the best comedy ever is, because I don't seek out comedies for the same reason goats don't shop for sweaters, but it would be on any short list of the best comedies, adding to the genre - which has caused critics to say the story line is not characteristic of a 'classic' - so much that is completely unique to Vigo and his imitators. I can, however, with more certainty give it award hardware in other categories:

* Best barge movie: I don't think I've seen another canal barging movie but there could be one some time in the right hands; I find memoirs of barge trips amusing and read them often;
* Best cat movie: This perhaps also relates to how many cat movies you've seen and what your needs are in a cat movie;
* Best love triangle movie: Would have to research the extent to which this set forth the French genre of love triangle movies but whatever that may be, it is a parody of all of them that came later;
* I think I had more but I can't think of them. I will update this while I'm watching it again. Also I have recently commenced my fascination with Otar Iosseliani films and he's interviewed on the extras.

* von Heyl has a 10 year retrospective in Philly til Feb 19

14 September 2011

Dream journey: An Armory-like art show that I entered with a friend in the evening, someone who goes to these things infrequently. It was based in an old Gothic revival campus that was otherwise unused, either out of session or permanently, and the surrounding area that was landscaped into wooded paths like a zoo. The first exhibition I entered in the zoo area was a tea garden and plantation house with a field of plastic leaves. There was a tour of the plantation house with free tea, and a place to sit that was more like a cafeteria than a tea house, where a guy who was dispensing napkins at the table and selling $30 plastic sculptures affected that he was the gallery owner but that he was too coy to say so, but I decided later he wasn't. The young man said "my job is to make you endure the impossibilities" and "joy is what you feel when you have expended all anguish." There was then a corridor with smaller galleries which repeated shows I was familiar with, until the heart of the campus where the Gothic revival brick and ivy dorms had large DayGlo insects climbing up them, and a cartoon animal that was going to jump off a balcony with cartoon animals on the ground consoling it with a trampoline, again things I considered predictable. The campus had a large chapel, and the interior was impressively covered with video screens of mostly abstract, kaleidoscopic patterns, and mechanical works by five different artists. I went to a rest room and a trio of women were making cryptic jokes about being on hallucinogens and going to the woods to do more and I spoke to them briefly. Then I entered a corridor and every one in attendance was made to crowd into that single corridor, and I made a loud joke and no one laughed. Then we were made to get on buses for reasons I wasn't told, and basically drove around the block for a half hour and returned to the show. On the bus there was the view of a walking area by a river that had long been out of style, with people trying to rent out paddle boats and no customers, and there were about 12 floating art works in different directions that could be seen from the bus, 9 kites and several other mechanisms.

30 August 2011

Blacked out for 46 hours, recalling my emotional stake in electricity: I like to read by candlelight but someone told me once "it's hard on your eyes." What I like about electricity is reading at night, reading blogs instead of newspapers, pushing buttons on a laptop that make books appear in the mail, some movies. Every way that electricity can make you stupider is utilized to the fullest, including by writers. This past week I've been into Dubuffet's writings, quite helpful and freeing, including "every year there are small discoveries like the telephone or the airplane, and these small discoveries ultimately have no importance for man's mind, his condition, or his sense of life. When a Parisian who's got gas and electricity in his home speaks with a villager who cooks in a fireplace and uses a kerosene lamp, it won't take him long to realize that the villager is nevertheless not supider than he, and that things like gas and electricity are trivial, highly trivial matters, that in no way modify or even scratch the position or structure of man."

What I was driving at with Matta was first described by his precursor Duchamp: "Simply, I thought of the idea of a projection, of an invisible fourth dimension, something you couldn't see with your eyes. Since I found that one could make a cast shadow from a three dimensional thing, any object whatsoever - just as the projecting of the sun on the earth makes two dimensions - I thought that, by simple intellectual analogy, the fourth dimension could project an object of three dimensions, or, to put it another way, any three-dimensional object, which we see dispassionately, is a projection of something four-dimensional, something we're not familiar with." This is at the heart of what is accurately called conceptualism, when conceptualism is being helpful to expression - the combination of the retinal and the non- or super-retinal, the invisible dimension which the literary art has through the centuries attempted to illustrate in different ways.

29 August 2011

I'm at the community library, still blacked out.

Supposedly Roberto Matta was one to read any theory that may possibly apply to painting, and there was an early period of about six years when he would mostly use a blue-yellow color scheme, so I am entertaining the notion that this period was influenced by Goethe.. perhaps influenced also by Turner's application of Goethe. Turner's Deluge series has been at the Tate for some time. I generally don't have editors influencing my thought process, but a large press editor who lives in a flooded area was staying here and when I told him about the Tate, he said that it was possible Matta saw the image in a book. See what I mean! That ruins my whole practice of trying to GPS an artist's movements in order to chart their influence tree - artists see things in books. My main point, though, is that both Turner and Matta used the symbolic aspects of color (day/light, night/darkness) both in representatation and as emotional prompts, to stage an allegorical realm - Turner using the image of a shaved Moses in After the Deluge and Matta developing his own iconography for this practice. The storm was itself relaxing for me, nothing weighty flying around and less death than anticipated. I took in practically the whole thing in my observation chair with only a 2.5 hour sleep break Saturday night, there appeared a mosaic of the ocean for which I had left out the painted tiles and the waves put each in a separate space, some words so shaking their obstacles.

27 August 2011

Turner's most primary application of Goethe's theories of color in his Deluge series (1843, a year after the painting in yesterday's post) was that blue is the primary derivative of darkness (Evening)...

and yellow the derivative of light (Morning)...

26 August 2011

Hard hat, goggles, Turner books that can get wet. Took in some folks from the shore that lavished me with gifts but evicted them because they were interrupting my train of thought and compromising my latest literary affectations.

23 August 2011

I was writing about books as a physical phenomenon this hour when the East Coast earthquake happened and a few books fell, a very mild affair (5.8 in Virginia) that played on the locals' cluelessness of such things. My first. Of course I didn't think it was an earthquake, and the only explanation I could muster was that there was a very large animal on the roof, although no particular species could credibly fit the bill for size, behavior, or proximity, so it became a sort of hypothetical animal - perhaps human or partially human - that adopted its own mythological dimensions, and I circumnavigated the house with a baseball bat to satiate my curiosity about this animal and make sure it was not rummaging through my desk.

Years back I was going out to write in a small shack in the yard at 3 am where I had my computer set up, and apparently a passer by called the cops, so when I was immersed in a paragraph I looked through the window to see a SWAT team making its way through the brush towards me. The light was on above me and when they saw me typing they got back in the van and left. I thought, "this must be a good paragraph."

21 August 2011

I've actually been working on some reviews of recent books of poetry.. six in all, for here or elsewhere. Three of them are positive, one is mixed, two are negative. I'm thinking of making one of the positives more mixed and giving one of the negatives a better consideration. I did "Friday capsules" a while back and was going to do five the following week, but wanted to re-read a book I was going to pan, that I read but didn't buy, but never did so.

I have criticized logrolling, but I think if logrolling were a major crisis people would react differently to it. If you don't like the state of criticism, do it better. Obviously as someone who has defended Silliman's blogging, that was for me sort of a formative experience of contemporary criticism, and I was motivated by respect for him, but not so formative as I thought there was anything unusual going on, as I expected there to be some backlashes against what he was doing. A lot of the "lack" of negative criticism of small press books arises from the feeling that they are up against enough. But Silliman's crit often took the form of criticizing the stylistic foundations of works that were well realized, which is often the most useful negative criticism rather than "so-and-so is a lightweight." Cahiers du Cinema, when negative, criticized the foundations of works that were well realized.

I don't think film or art criticism has done much to improve those genre. The negative reviews of Andrew Sarris seem suspect to me, even if his positive reviews make me want to see a film. What film reviews do best is publicize the product in the newspapers, but this has comprehensively resulted in a declining medium. Most negative art reviews I read are garbage. Frank O'Hara's art commentary, such as it was, set the standard for only being positive in what he said, even when quietly acting to impose limitations on the medium. Ashbery says he only reviews art that he is very interested in, i.e. positive. The others in that town mostly followed suit. There is no golden age of literary criticism. Thomas Mann presumably writing Lukacs into the Magic Mountain was contrary to pattern, the way most good things are in this racket. What we have now is a vast improvement over what we had 40 years ago.

But in general I have been trying to focus on finishing up creative things in recent months and my internet interactions have been unfortunately limited to responding to things that really irritate me. I have enjoyed some recently published books. I would perhaps like at some point to get a lot of free books in the mail and gab about them, but I have difficulty - or cultivate difficulty - with what I'm writing as it is, and don't need to seek out more distraction.

18 August 2011

Enrique Morente recorded two albums in the mid-90s about Frederico García Lorca, one collaboration with the rock band Lagartija Nick called Omega with lyrics from Poet in New York and a follow up called Morente-Lorca, which concludes with a stirring elegy in collaboration with the Bulgarian Female Choir:

I just found a live version of this for Spanish television with the choir which is quite dramatically enacted but medleys into the sudden (spoiler alert) appearance of Lagartija Nick for a different tune.. I would have liked to have heard the whole song on its own live..

Speaking of cantaores, someone uploaded my two favorite El Lebrijano songs, which are from his album Grandes Cantaores de Flamenco adapting verses from the Sermon of the Mount (Spanish versions in comments section):

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven..
Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither
do they reap, nor gather into barns;
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

(from Matthew 6: 19-29)

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's
Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way,
that leadeth to destruction..
Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Inwardly they are ravening wolves
Do men
gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Beware of false prophets..

(from Matthew 7: 13-16)

Manolo Sanlúcar is on guitar in those two tracks.. of whom there's a fair amount of footage online such as in the Saura film with Diego Carrasco singing "I am a gypsy, from the salt of Cádiz" and the women in the back singing "ay, lemon seller, give me some lemonade.."

Also lest I forget I found 29 seconds of an early 60's TV appearance by veteran Colombian actress Dora Catavid singing "Se Llama Lucia Cristal" surrounded by two guys dressed as elephants:

16 July 2011


o th
say ma
de in th

Ah.. Qui me rendra mon pays.. Haiti.. C'est toi mon seul paradis.. Haiti.. Ah.. Dieu me rappelle.. Tes forêts si belles.. Tes grands horizons.. Loin de tes rivages

La plus belle cage
N'est qu'une prison

Oui.. Mon désir, mon cri d'amour
C'est de te revenir un jour

Oh, beau pays bleu.. Bien loin, bien loin sous d'autres cieux.. Je vivais des jours heureux.. Mais tout est fini..
Seule dans mon exil aujourd'hui
Je chante, le coeur meurtri

Oui ! mon désir mon cri d'amour
C'est de te revenir un jour

(emphasis mine)

10 July 2011

In addition to Frank O'Hara's statement that Twombly was "witty and funereal" and CA Conrad's poem where "we realize we're driving in Cy Twombly's paintings," I recall Robert Creeley talking about how he walked through a Twombly show after exhibition hours and the custodial staff was having an animated conversation, pointing out different parts of the paintings with their mops... & a conversation I had with a guard at Philly's installation "I'm going to tell my neice about this" "Why your neice" "She paints.. She can do this because she's 8" "Then she should" "But I keep telling people, it has a meaning." In 1994 Twombly sculpted the Thermopylae series, each of which contain insciptions from Cavafy's poem of the same name:

Honor to those who in their lives
are committed and guard their Thermopylae.
Never stirring from duty;
just and upright in all their deeds,
but with pity and compassion too;
generous whenever they are rich, and when
they are poor, again a little generous,
again helping as much as they are able;
always speaking the truth,
but without rancor for those who lie.

And they merit greater honor
when they forsee (and many do foresee)
that Ephialtes will finally appear,
and in the end the Medes will go through.

tr: Rae Dalvin

19 June 2011

ed it i on
land it-see

i am)



11 June 2011

What's up

Galán's show at the Mexican-owned Ramis Barquet (532 w24th, til July 9) is only 14 paintings, full of a tortured lyricism that rewards comparisons to a Cavafy sonnet. So taken in by this appearance of no comparisons too unfortunate am I that I've made up lineup cards for the Neo-expressionism - Venetian Renaissance masters game:

Basquiat ss
Eliz. Murray 1b
Clemente 2b
Galán lf
Baselitz rf
Cucci cf
M. Dumas c
Paladino 3b
Kitaj p

Tintoretto ss
Bellini c
Titian 1b
Giorgione p
Mategna cf
Veronese 2b
Lotto 3b
Palma rf
Bassano lf

OK, perhaps that's a one-sided game but my point seems to be that while the prolific get on base frequently (1-3 spots), the enigmatic master (batting cleanup) drives the metaphorical art ball further out by a combination of impenetrable subtext and a rethinking of painterly form. Piero della Francesco and Anselm Keifer are both pennant race acquisitions, btw. Though, as I said, small, this is Galán's first gallery show in New York since 2001, and since he hasn't had a museum retrospective since 1994, this is a show you don't want to miss. Galán's posthumous website is also quite good whether or not you can make it to the show.

On 24th the Salvatore Scarpitta tribute should be checked out at Boesky, 509, til June 18.

Marlborough's "Living in Havana" show (525 w25th, til June 18) features a series of conceptual works by Ernesto Rancaño, known around the Caribbean for his exceptional "baroque" paintings. At a show of Cuban art at the UN Office at Geneva in 2005, two nudes were taken down out of Rancaño's paintings, at which time the curator asked him to create a work for the International Labor Organization headquarters. What he came up with was "Noble ser" (left), a shovel covered with thorns, leading to the development of the other conceptual sculptures in this show including a ladder with thorns on it called "Ascension," a rope to escape being a figurine in a suit perched high on an obelisk called "The Escape," a phone with the earphone and microphone on opposite sides called "Wordless," and a horseshoe with a microscope on a man in suit.

Neo-expressionist midlife crisis in Bali (Ashley Bickerton, Lehmann Maupin, 540 w 26th til June 25) v. Neo-expressionist midlife crisis in the Hamptons (David Salle, Mary Boone, 541 w24th St til June 25). The artist in the Hamptons repeats himself more, while the artist in Bali felt enfranchised a few years back to rethink his art, winking at the brand he's now created for the international art market while finding interesting compositional effects in the personae he's turned to. The artist in the Hamptons adds deck chairs to the brand he created back in the day. The artist in Bali is in a shotgun wedding with Gauguin's legacy, having reacted to expat artists' Gauguin kitsch and the inability to "invent" his paradise for the Western mind, referring exclusively to the garish ubiquity of the culture he left behind, the artist in the Hamptons leaves his social surroundings intact.

Tony Shafrazi (544 w26th, til July 30) has some of the orignial R. Crumb drawings for Kafka for Beginners, amongst other things a graphic pep rally for writing in solitude, and quite a lot of Soviet film posters with Potemkin, Earth, and Man With the Movie Camera on a continuous loop. Kafka quotes found elsewhere: "Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself." "I need solitude for my writing; not 'like a hermit' - that wouldn't be enough - but like a dead man." "one can never be alone enough" “It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking . . . in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.”

Louise Bourgeois (Cheim & Read, 547 w27th, til June 25) features works of the past decade made out of discarded fabrics, which freed up her color palette and made for other creative re-thinkings to surprise even to those who think they've seen all the LB combinations.

Speaking of fabric shows, Philly has Sandra Hicks this summer at ICA of much greater fabric scale, a fabric scale rarely scaled, with comparable artistry, til Aug 7.

At 535 West 22nd Street 2nd floor, a selection of the American master George Tooker just opened, at DC Moore til Aug 5.

Of course the John Richardson-curated "Picasso and Marie-Thérèse" show at Gagosian (522 West 21st Street, til July 15) is up, the third of what has happily become an annual tradition, and though at 80 works smaller than the "Mosqueteros" extravaganza (sob pout sob), the wide variety of materials makes for a feast even for those who've seen their fill of Marie-Thérèse stone heads and portraits. Uptown Gagosian features Arshile Gorky (980 Madison til July 1), around the corner from Baselitz' work from the 60s (Werner, 4 e77th til June 18).

I enjoyed Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung's parodies of the 2008 US presidential election, but his 10 new digital prints inspired by the Chinese Jasmine Revolution of the past few months provides a rare glimpse into the Chinese resistance, at Postmasters (459 w19th til July 9). Revolutionary dissident Ai WeiWei can be found on one digital print imprisoned in a logo of a chrysanthemum extract powdered drink and as the Buddhist god Guan Yin in another (left). A running theme is the Great Firewall of China, internet censorship including a ban on the word "Jasmine," which is expressed here both in the digital prints and a ping-pong table with the Great Wall in the place of the net. If you go as you should, take the brochure at the entrance in with you which explains the symbols and dark humor of each work.

Galan paintings: blue background: Llegando por mi, 1989; red: Los complices, 1987; maritime: The Black Pearl, 1990.

02 June 2011

Another addition to the top 30 films of the 00's:

12a. In the City of Sylvia (2007, d: José Luis Guerín) came out on dvd last week, and I hadn't seen it before though it has had the keyboards buzzing. I had just re-watched L'Eclisse, which is clearly an influence on Guerín, who avoids the gravity of Antonioni's subject matter in favor of the sights and sounds of the street, that full opening up to the faces, footsteps, reflections and shadows as in Jeanne Moreau's Milan encounters in La Notte or Monica Vitti's Messina stroll in L'Avventura. In the City is so referential that it seems to me like a second-gereration exercise rather than a strikingly original film, but this opening up to the particulars of the frame and soundtrack is so pleasurable and such a stark contrast to other current fare as to merit its cult status. The Rohmer influence also comes through very clearly, especially the third episode of Rendezvous in Paris in which "the painter" follows "the young woman" around the Marais after adjourning his date with "the Swedish girl" at the Picasso Museum. The knot in the back of the hair of this woman in the café presumably refers to that Anglo-American classic of the fixated male in urban romantic pursuit, Vertigo..

Though Antonioni said "the female consciousness is the best filter of reality I know," Guerín, like Rohmer in the Rendezvous episode, centers the film around the male consciousness. William Arrowsmith explained Antonioni's quotation "women provide less impeded access to the realities suppressed by the Faustian organization of the world. Since the actual structure of the Faustian world, especially those in Italy of these earlier films, is a male affair, and since Antonioni has mostly depicted male intellectuals - architects, writers, art critics, even stockbrokers, all of them clearly Faustian intellectuals insofar as they are manipulators of abstractions - his men exhibit fairly consistent traits..." Perhaps coincidental or not is a factor that I don't think has been touched on much, the narrative structure of In the City's debt to Goethe, about whom Guerín made an earlier seven minute short (in the extras) called In the City of Lotte. At the age of 21 Goethe lived in Strasbourg, the City of Sylvia, where he was introduced to German folk songs by the slightly older Johann Gottfried von Herder, and fell in love with the country girl Friederike Brion, about whom Goethe's folk song Heidenröslein was written:

Once a boy saw a little rose standing,
Little rose of the field,
She was so young and beautiful,
He dashed there quickly to see her near,
Beholden with abundant joy,
Little rose, little rose, little rose red,
Little rose of the field.

The boy then said: “I shall pick thee,
Little rose of the field.”
The little rose said: “I shall stick thee,
That you’ll always think of me,
And, I’ll not want to suffer it.”
Little rose, little rose, little rose red,
Little rose of the field.

Still the rough boy picked the rose,
Little rose of the field.
The little rose fought thus and pricked,
No prose of pain could help her,
Alas, she must suffer it yet.
Little rose, little rose, little rose red,
Little rose of the field.

..so if In the City seems to me at first to take the atmosphere of Antonioni while forgoing the master's use of these forms to reflect on the "Faustian world," it returns to a pre-Faustian male consciousness of one who did perhaps the most to decipher that world.

Update: Also, Balthus seems to be a big influence: both the portraiture and the street scenes, in which guys are constantly carrying things across the frame.

27 May 2011

"The duty of the right eye is to plunge into the telescope, whereas the left eye interrogates the microscope."
-Leonora Carrington (1916-2011)

A little quibble: (note: after I contacted the Daily Telegraph, they corrected the obit. Email me if you require a copy of the rant.)

Also, speaking of the lost loves of Loplop, the red knots will be in Delaware Bay feasting on horseshoe crab eggs for another week or so, and can be seen on the Jersey side here (where I saw them) or here or on the Delaware side. Since horseshoe crabs are 250 million years old and have existed in other forms for another 200 million years, and birds predate the dinosaurs, this has been going on for a very long time, but the number of red knots migrating to the Arctic Circle from Tierra del Fuego to mate is only a quarter of what it was thirty years ago. (PBS special) They're lighter than an apple but their tendency to fly in groups of 100 or so, provoked at a moment's notice (such as if you step within 40 feet of them) which can commence a week in the air, never gets tiresome.

21 May 2011

Only a week after Mexican poet Javier Sicilia's son - declared innocent by police - died as a result of the drug war in Cuernavaca, he had organized marches in 16 Mexican cities. The poetry of Sicilia, who writes political columns for Proceso, reads like spiritual preparation for life's trials, in which he consults Catholic saints, world religions, Mexican modernism, Rilke's meditations and Cavafy's nostalgic sensualism. The pain felt sets in motion a vision of "a world not worthy of words" from where he shared with his lost son in what he called his final poem "the silence of the righteous," after which he organized a silent march of 20,000 people from Cuernavaca to Mexico City.

In Sicilia's "Meister Eckhart," about the theologian whose doctrine of "disinterestedness" has been compared to Buddhism: "the meditation of naked gaze/ went beyond silence," Silicia goes on to describe how the silence and absence was greeted with divine presence. "Vigil," a sonnet for the composer Manuel Ponce, refers to no sound other than "the murmur under the aurora." Octavio Paz noted how Mexican rituals recover time and memory: "The fiesta occurs in an enchanted world: time is transformed to a mythical past or a total present." (Labyrinth of Solitude 50) "(The fiesta) is a break in the sequence of time and the irruption of a present which periodically returns without yesterday or tomorrow. Each poem is a Fiesta, a precipitate of pure time." (Paz, Mexican Poetry 41) In such a land of ritual, eternal themes are passed on from place to place and person to person, so the story of Thérèse of Lisieux - who influenced Bergson, Kerouac, and Merton, in Alfonso Reyes' hands is a Cubist "being beside me," is in Sicilia's a testament of sacrifice, in which the poet is absent and his commentary is minimal. Reyes (right) instilled in Mexicans a belief that "literature was more than a vocation or a profession, it was a religion.. the writer's first obligation is fidelity to his language. The writer has no other instrument but words." (Labyrinth 163-4)

Mexican poetry went through a period at the beginning of the 20th Century when it imitated the Parnassans, until Enrique González Martínez (left) decided to "wring the swan's neck." The erroneous belief that this was a reference to the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío underscored how this poem set forth what would define Mexican modernism in relation to other traditions. Where Darío would give way in Nicaragua to Ernesto Cardinal's Liberation Theology and political testimony, González Martínez' spiritual imagery, written by a traditional politician opposed to Madero's revolution, was kept separate from the political, setting the standard for Mexican modernism and thereafter. "Grace" is found in "interpretation" rather than appearances, the signified and not the signifier:

Wring the swan's neck who with deceiving plumage
inscribes his whiteness on the azure stream:
he merely vaunts his grace and nothing feels
of nature's voice or the soul of things.

Every form eschew and every language
whose processes with deep life's inner rhythm
are out of harmony... and greatly worship
life, and let life understand your homage.

See the sapient owl who from Olympus
spreads his wings, leaving Athene's lap,
and stays his silent flight on yonder tree.

His grace is not the swan's, but his unquiet
pupil, boring into the gloom, interprets
the secret book of the nocturnal spill.

(tr: Samuel Beckett)

Paz wrote in Labyrinth of Solitude "At the beginning of his eighth Duino Elegy, Rilke says that the "creature," in his condition of animal innocence, "beholds the open"... unlike ourselves, who never look forward, toward the absolute. Fear makes us turn our backs on death, and by refusing to contemplate it we shut ourselves off from life, which is a totality that includes it. The "open" is where contraries are reconciled, where light and shadow are fused. This conception restores death's original meaning: death and life are opposites that compliment each other. Both are halves of a sphere that we, subjects of time and space, can only glimpse.. This recognition can only take place through detachment: he must renounce his temporal life and his nostalgia for limbo, for the animal world. He must open himself out to death if he wishes to open himself out to life. Then he will be 'like the angels."(61) Sicilia's poem "The Open" distills in his own mind Rilke's imagery, referencing in Jen Hofer's translation "the animal advancing low to the earth toward the Open, a back and a forward in the occurrence of the infinite" the angel "suspended in the eternal" concluding with a utilization of Rilke's "is it different for lovers?" finding in their embrace "a faint crack/ in the porcelain dawn of the Open."

In a best-selling - though not translated into English - book published by Random House, Anabel Hernandez (above) accuses Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Gerardo García Luna, Secretary of Public Security, of having made a pact with Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán (on book cover) and the Sinaloa Cartel, and last month filed an official complaint of death threats against her made by García Luna. On December 15, 2010, Gerardo Fernandez Jose Noronha distributed 300 copies of one of Hernandez' books at the end of a parliamentary session as a Christmas gift, asking for the resignation of Calderón and his government. Says Hernandez, "I think it is not a failed war but a phony war." Journalist Diego Enrique Osorno has published a book making similar allegations.

In 2006, several marches on behalf of former Mexico City mayor and presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the capitol's Zocalo, alleging that Calderón's victory was a result of electoral fraud, attracted more than a million Mexicans, (below) with tent cities set up to accommodate the protesters from day to day. Over 800,000 ballots were added and over 700,000 were missing, 60% of the ballot stations had inaccurate counts. With a one term presidential limit, electoral fraud is a way for past presidents to hold onto power, and both Carlos Salinas and Vincente Fox were actively involved in rigging the election.

Upon taking office, Calderón immediately declared his war on drugs, leading to the death of almost 40,000 people, about which Charles Bowden says "the Mexican government has announced they’ve made 53,000 drug arrests since they started this war. Less than two percent are the Sinaloa Cartel, the biggest one. I guess they haven’t had time." Congressman Manuel Clouthier, a member of Calderon's party, says "The Calderon government has been fighting organized crime in many parts of the republic, but has not touched Sinaloa.'" Policeman Luis Arturo Perez Torres says "I work in the police and because of this I know the government is protecting Chapo Guzman. It's hitting all the cartels but Chapo." Many of the protestors this weekend called for Calderón's resignation. After the protests, Calderón made a supposedly high profile bust of a Sinoloa operative. Also last month, legendary Gambino family attorney George Santangelo filed a two page motion in US federal court on behalf of Sinaloa kingpin Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada alleging "the FBI, the DEA and various Dept. of Homeland Security agents in Mexico were actually working with Zambada for more than five years." The US provides $1.3 billion annually to Mexico for military and juridical aid.

Sicilia, a self-described anarchist, has called for García Luna's resignation and drug legalization but is not endorsing a political party and spreads the blame around: "The political parties, the PAN, the PRI, the PRD, the PT, Convergencia, Nueva Alianza, the Panal, and the Verde have become a “partyacracy” from whose ranks emerge the nation’s leaders. In all of them there are links to crime and the mafias across the entire nation. With out a real cleaning up of their ranks and a total commitment to an ethics policy the public will have to ask ourselves in the next elections, 'For what cartel and for what power will we have to vote?”

In 2006, the PAN party had very low approval ratings, but Calderón's approval rating was high enough for him to run close enough to López Obrador to steal the election. After Calderón's highly unpopular drug war, those not in the higher echelons of the Sinoloa cartel or money laundering for US banks have a low opinion of PAN while its candidate, perhaps Calderón's campaign manager Josefina Vasquez Mota, will likely face off against López Obrador again next year. López Obrador said "the ones who defame, slander, and accuse me are those that think they are the lords and masters of Mexico. They are the ones who want to privatize the oil and electric industries.." CSIS, a US thinktank seeking to privatize Mexican oil, reported this month (pdf) that "although López Obrador himself contemplated a role for the private sector in oil production prior to the election of 2006, he has since moved firmly away from that position" that "A PAN president would likely try again to get far-reaching reform of the oil sector" and the old guard PRI "is once again the most intriguing of the three options.. it is the most likely to control Congress, yet.. has hard-line groups within it who continue to resist (oil privatization)."

Reformist president Lazaro Cárdenas expropriated Mexican oil in 1938, which had the effect of wiping out the prosperity of boom towns like Tampico. But of course, once private companies take over the oil, they take over the government. Would the politicians and media rush to war in Iraq if the US's oil was publicly owned?

Bowden, when asked if anything gave him hope, replied: "Certainly. To start with, the war on drugs has to end. We can’t build any more prisons. Second, the endurance of the Mexican people." Bingo.