"It is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that something that is interesting is interesting them" — Gertrude Stein
Attention Span, At Last
Last year's installment of Attention Span is gradually unfolding here, if you feel like dropping by.
Monday -- 04 May 2009 -- permalink
Attention Span 2008
This year's deadline for contributing to Attention Span is Monday, August 4, 2008. Readers interested in participating are invited to drop me a line. Contributors so far include Rae Armantrout, John Wilkinson, G.C. Waldrep, Jon Leon, Patrick Pritchett, Meredith Quartermain, Stan Apps, Chris Stroffolino, Peter Quartermain, Rodney Koeneke, Pam Brown, and Erik Sapin.
Sunday -- 27 July 2008 -- permalink
Noël Coward's The Vortex in a BBC production from 1969 (preceded by an interview conducted by an echt era hipster with a memorable slouch, a tie that can scarcely be descried against a psychedelic shirt of identical fabric and pattern, and a face that seems, oddly, often on the verge of crying). Lot of action for words ending in -ly. • Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Kontakte" (disc 6 of the Gesamtausgabe), and Paul Hillier's 2006 version of Stimmung. With related reading in Mark Prendergast's Ambient Music, which brings little pleasure when attempted sequentially—unlike, say, Rip It Up & Start Again—but is fun enough to thumb through and contains lots of useful information and recommendations. • A real winter, and enjoying it. Snow scrunch under boot. • Battlestar Galactica Razor (2007). Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen and Michelle Forbes give it their best, but the exposition is muddled and the result oddly null. Still impressed by the miniscule vocal range of Edward James Olmos. • Jolanta Karwowska's design work on Bill Fuller's Equipage chapbook Dry Land is amazing: working in thin rectangles of grey, blue, and silver (most matte, a few shiny) on both the cover and the recto page edges, raised lettering for the title, and page sizes that incrementally increase as the book unfolds, Karwowska outfits Fuller's distichs with an environment into which they can blend (ink color) and from which they can emerge ("from my heightened state I knew no book"). Brilliant.
Thursday -- 03 January 2008 -- permalink
For a while there, it felt like I just ambled from place to place explaining Saussure to people. Then, that all I did was work on websites. And now I'm nearly too busy to have even such thoughts. But did update works received. And sketched a few highlights into the neglected daybook. Still not sure about this facebook thing—seems unlikely to play out well in the eternal return.
Saturday -- 13 October 2007 -- permalink
Attention Span Update
The official deadline for contributing to this year's Attention Span is midnight tonight. But there's plenty of formatting to keep me busy while you slip a late entry under the door.
Many thanks to those who have contributed so far: Jerrold Shiroma, Bill Berkson, Pam Brown, Simon DeDeo, John Palattella, James Wagner, Jordan Stempleman, Tom Orange, Allyssa Wolf, Laura Carter, Patrick F. Durgin, Michael Scharf, Meredith Quartermain, Simone dos Anjos, Craig Dworkin, Annie Finch, David Dowker, Joshua Clover, Kevin Killian, Graham Foust, Christopher Nealon, John Hyland, Nancy Kuhl, and Matvei Yankelovich.
Friday -- 31 August 2007 -- permalink
Attention Span 2007
Monday -- 13 August 2007 -- permalink
Screen Memories (Early Spring to Mid-Summer Edition)
Grizzly Man (dir. Werner Herzog, 2006). Touch the Sound (dir. Thomas Riedelsheimer, 2004). Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (dir. Steven M. Martin, 1994). Place de la République (dir. Louis Malle, 1974). La Pianiste (dir. Michael Haneke, 2001). When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (dir. Spike Lee, 2006). Letters from Iwo Jima (dir. Clint Eastwood, 2006). The Best Years of Our Lives (dir. William Wyler, 1946). Thelma and Louise (dir. Ridley Scott, 1991). Playtime (dir. Jacques Tati, 1967). The Queen (dir. Stephen Frears, 2006). The History Boys (dir. Nicholas Hytner, 2006). Parsifal (dir. Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, 1982). Mouchette (dir. Robert Bresson, 1967). Eddie Izzard: Circle (dir. Anastasia Pappas, 2002). Amazing Grace (dir. Michael Apted, 2006). Black Hawk Down (dir. Ridley Scott, 2001). Caprice (dir. Frank Tashlin, 1967). Reds (dir. Warren Beatty, 1981). North by Northwest (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1959).
Thursday -- 05 July 2007 -- permalink
Thursday -- 31 May 2007 -- permalink
May Day Update
When the estimable Pam Lu last updated her blog Open Reader, it was to inform us that she'd begun reading War and Peace, which more or less earns her an active link at Third Factory right through to end times. I've got no comparable excuse for my silence since mid-March, even were I to throw Against the Day into the plea bargain, so I'll not even attempt an explanation. I have, however, managed to update the works received and daybook pages over the past few days. Among so many reasons to celebrate, this one can't help but be my sentimental favorite.
Tuesday -- 01 May 2007 -- permalink
For the Image-Repertoire
Shadows cast by the Large Glass, a glimpse into Given, and the Mister Softee truck that two Sundays ago gave me, in the form of a small vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles, a Proustian experience while visiting the street where I lived as a very young boy.
Tuesday -- 01 May 2007 -- permalink
Commerce between us (continued)
I don't know, maybe there are people who truly care about contemporary poetry, read it with renewed appetite and a healthy balance of curiosity and commitment, trouble themselves to articulate—at least in conversation, maybe sometimes even online or in print—their responses to books and readings and careers and magazine issues and individual poems, and who also feel that the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and Poetry magazine regularly have interesting and important things to say on the topic. For most of us, though, it isn't hard to answer David Orr's question about whether The New Yorker has "given up on poetry" as something more than a "brand-enhancing commodity." It's the same answer one would give if asked about the New York Times Book Review (as Orr might know better than most, being nearer to it). I'd answer differently of the Boston Review, I know people who think more of the poetry coverage in the New York Review of Books than I do, and I'm on record as a fan of John Palattella's work at The Nation, but to whom has it not been obvious, for a long time now, that poetry lacks serious representation in what passes for a public sphere in the U.S.? The Poetry Foundation's solution to the problem, not unlike the Bush administration's strategy in the political sphere, is to pay for coverage of the art that conforms to its own viewpoint and celebrates its own programs. And as we've seen of late, $200 million purchases a lot of attention for voices that couldn't become relevant the old fashioned way, by earning the respect of their peers. • Earlier on nb: 27 February, 12 February, 23 September 2006.
Thursday -- 15 March 2007 -- permalink
Upcoming grad seminars
Wednesday -- 07 March 2007 -- permalink
Happiness: Another reader's present in eleven titles. • Fewer wasted glances of late, thanks to Kaplan's feed. • Cold enough this morning that my hair briefly but pretty entirely froze. • Over at the Against the Day deathmarch, we've wrapped up week five. Some folks are contemplating desertion just about now, but not Rodney and me! • To do: get Douglas to sign all our copies of Matchbook next time he visits (at last, a retirement plan). • The Modern Review has its spring issue all set to go: a snippet from Jennifer Moxley's interview of Fanny Howe can be had online here.
Tuesday -- 06 March 2007 -- permalink
Screen Memories (Oscar Run-Up Edition)
Half Nelson (dir. Ryan Fleck, 2006). Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (dir. Lawrence Jordan, 1999). The Departed (dir. Martin Scorcese, 2006). Babel (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006). Flags of Our Fathers (dir. Clint Eastwood, 2006). Marie Antoinette (dir. Sofia Coppola, 2006). Notes on a Scandal (dir. Richard Eyre, 2006). Silkwood (dir. Mike Nichols, 1983). The Children of Men (dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 2006). Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958). Dracula (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1991).
Thursday -- 01 March 2007 -- permalink
Commerce between us (bis)
Dana Goodyear's New Yorker piece on John Barr and the Poetry Foundation has occasioned a fair amount of chatter online and off. To widen the account of the "argument that keeps on giving" offered on the Foundation's million-dollar website, here's a sample of what people are saying:
Tuesday -- 27 February 2007 -- permalink
Added some fresh clickable cover scans to the ensemble page, which had gotten badly outdated. And recorded another banner week of works received. Continuing on with LibraryThing, despite the extra work it makes. • While the scanner's humming, here's a picture of yours truly in July 1971 (age six and a half), probably thinking more of Oscar the Grouch than Endgame while doing an Evening Times of Trenton photographer's bidding.
Saturday -- 17 February 2007 -- permalink
Commerce between us
Monday -- 12 February 2007 -- permalink
Like paper caught in wind (another whirl)
Friday -- 09 February 2007 -- permalink
Like paper caught in wind
Le modèle et son peintre. One-off. That sort of so-insincere-it’s-sincere tone is his trademark. On the necessity of the male conceptual poet. As she inventories her boyfriend’s parts she inventories the world, and in his valorization becomes herself a giantess! Ironically, the system gets stronger and better because of the attacks as we're constantly upgrading the technology.
Wednesday -- 07 February 2007 -- permalink
A Middle Class Voice
Via Pantaloons and Venepoetics, found my way to Big Bridge 6 and the poem John Wieners wrote (on, do I recall it correctly, a stenopad?) for his reading at the National Poetry Foundation Conference on the poetry of the 1960s, "Lisbon Indian Island." Memories triggered: making the invitation phone call, feeling absurdly awkward and overly formal and, well, very middle class; being perhaps midway through my introduction when John decided that was enough, rose from his seat next to Kevin Killian, and took the stage (beginning with this poem); the worries formed during his reading and expressed afterwards, so many witnessing for the first time Wiener's "state," made painfully uncomfortable thereby. • Raworth's memorial page for John.
Tuesday -- 06 February 2007 -- permalink
Got so excited about the books in this morning's mail, went ahead and started a LibraryThing thing. Too bad you can't grab titles from SPD rather than Amazon (had to hand enter almost everything, whether barcoded, izbin'd, or no). Bumped into Clay Banes via Kate Greenstreet's book. • Second event of the spring (ahem, it's 6ºF as I write that word and windy and not yet sunset!) New Writing Series is Thursday: Jonathan Skinner & Annie Finch. • I'm following Cecil Vortex and such chums as chance by on the Against the Day deathmarch. A stroll through the Fair, so far.
Monday -- 05 February 2007 -- permalink
The method of revision
Saturday -- 03 February 2007 -- permalink
Mantra for a short month
"Neither of us ever took a day’s holiday unless we were too ill to work or unless we went away on a regular and, as it were, authorized holiday.... It is surprising how much one can produce in a year, whether of buns or books or pots or pictures, if one works hard and professionally for three and a half hours every day for 330 days" (Leonard Woolf, Downhill All the Way, qtd. by Claire Messud here).
Thursday -- 01 February 2007 -- permalink
Germany Year Zero (dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1948): Screen with Los Olvidados and Mouchette to next friend who complains about his or her childhood. Fountain of children shot. The shattered facades of the city as a black-market album of a Hitler speech is previewed for purchasers. Parallel to Vertigo as Edmund ascends interior of the last bombed-out structure he'll know. Brought to it by "the zone" sections of Gravity's Rainbow. • Dreamgirls (dir. Bill Condon, 2006): loved the glam, the melodrama, the numbers. Great throwaway shot of a record being pressed. • The Fisher King (dir. Terry Gilliam, 1991; ft. Michael Jeter as "homeless cabaret singer," still below). • Bruno Walter: The Maestro, the Man (1958): Seated on the same cushioned wooden lawn furniture I knew as a child in New Jersey, Walter confesses his hatred of "artificiality" in composing (target Schönberg). When asked his opinion about jazz, he smiles and says "do you wish to provoke me?" then delivers the Adornian line verbatim. I found the scenes of him conducting the Vancouver orchestra unbelievably great but would be hard pressed to explain to you why.
Tuesday -- 30 January 2007 -- permalink
Absent from Every Bouquet
"Postscript: The title for this anthology—The Rose, the Lily & the Whortleberry—was chosen early in the research process as a 'working title.' Subsequently we found many songs and motets with references to roses and lilies, but none, alas, in praise of the whortleberry (which is also known as bilberry and blaeberry). Our search will continue, however, and we are so determined eventually to find the elusive piece that we have decided to remain faithful to our original title."
Tuesday -- 23 January 2007 -- permalink
The Shape of the Lack
"The really depressing thing about 1985, though, wasn't the mainstream tyranny of nouveau riche pop so much as the unimpressive state of the alternative scene. The collective sense of purpose that bound together the diverse initiatives of postpunk had seeped away. Everything seemed desperately disparate and therefore somehow diminished. John Peel caught the shape of the lack well when he admitted, 'I don't even like the records I like'" (Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up & Start Again 390).
"she makes music by way of an accidental foot to wine glass to floor, in a gentle key a sparkle of shatter and nothing no nothing is ever soundproof for long, if ever, if ever desired" (Sawako Nakayasu, nothing fictional...).
Regained my appetite for new poetry (new to me, that is, and printed rather than listened to) recently. Not a regret in the batch. Also updated the list of works received and constellations. • Not sure if you noticed or needed it, but php and xml options for both nb and Lipstick of Noise have been in place for a while.
Zone of Meek Adjustments
Wonderful analysis of the meek adjustments we all make here. Only trouble I can see is this (we had it a lot when the Dictionary of Received Ideas was first published): the meta-analysis implicates nearly every poet the charming FJB will encounter in the coming year. For who has not failed to adequately control his or her abstractions at some point? And whose work is not sometimes enjoyed without being fully understood? Which is not to excuse the "contentious yet unsurprising conclusion" part, just to observe (empathetically) that the "X" that marks no spot digs into everyone's flesh equally.
Come, Senescence, Come
"It’s not that I’m looking for new sounds so much as a new platform for delivering sound into a life that no longer needs to be so tightly wound around music" (Rodney Koeneke at Modern Americans).
Zones of Pragmatic Deceit
"Zones of pragmatic deceit are the social and mental inventions that exist to lubricate the friction between what we claim to stand for (i.e. simple polar pictures) and what we actually have to do to make things works (i.e. navigate over networks of axes). These two are often quite different, as situations change much faster than the moral constructions that are supposed to describe them" (Eno, "Axis Thinking," 1993, Year 301).
"I am engaged in taking away / from God his sound" (Wieners, "Poem for Record Players").
"A luminous pallor surges out of the screen, spreads over every face and form in the picture, it is the color of consciousness" (Fanny Howe, "Au Hasard Suicide").
Screen Memories (Late December, Early January)
Come back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (dir. Robert Altman, 1982; ft. Karen Black): As Gary Morris writes, "While Dennis is the standout, Black is at her most voluptuously horrific in her Kansas City pants suit and Porsche as she dashes every dream of her heartland sisters." Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1989): An essentially charmless picture, seen in (Grail) "research" mode. Borat (dir. Larry Charles, 2006): Sacha's in the bathroom, inventing situations. A Scanner Darkly (dir. Richard Linklater, 2006): like Lime Tree, I approve (but don't love). Little Miss Sunshine (dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006; ft. Abigail Breslin as Olive, Paul Dano as Dwayne): très slight, especially once Arkin's blustery libido absents itself. Berlin Alexanderplatz, episodes 4-6 (dir. Fassbinder, 1980).
Monday -- 15 January 2007 -- permalink
Keep It Burning
New tracks by Franklin Bruno and The Human Hearts. "You play Revolver, baby / that's when I start reaching for my culture." With nods to "Winter Wonderland" and "Life During Wartime" no less.
Monday -- 15 January 2007 -- permalink
In the comments field for Simon DeDeo's appreciative review of Eugene Ostashevsky's Infinite Recursor or the Bride of DJ Spinoza, this amazing sentence by Matthew Hendriksen describing Ostashevsky's approach to performance: "a Russian cyborg Alexander Pope yelling break beats in heroic couplets." • My quick take, and a sound sample, here.
Sunday -- 14 January 2007 -- permalink
Deborah Solomon: "Where do you turn for consolation?" John Ashbery: "Probably to a movie, something with Barbara Stanwyck." (NYT Magazine)
Sunday -- 14 January 2007 -- permalink
And the terrorists hate freedom
Still chuckling about a sentence in Rachel Donadio's early Christmas present to Helen Vendler: "The poets she admires share 'nothing except intelligence and originality,' said Stephen Burt, a poetry critic and professor at Macalester College who studied with Vendler at Harvard in the early ’90s."
Saturday -- 13 January 2007 -- permalink
Audun Lindholm remembers stumbling across ILS Nº 10 at the Poetry and Rare Book Collection in Buffalo.
Wednesday -- 10 January 2007 -- permalink
Three Minute Hero
From a journal (15 June 1982, 4:23pm, Huntington Beach, aetat. 17) — "It just happened so I can explain it well. I was sitting on my bed doing Algebra and taping records, the Selecter at the moment. When the song '3 Minute Hero' came on it absolutely drove me to get up and dance. Here I am all by myself dancing around the house and feeling really great, thinking about Dance Craze, etc. Isn't it amazing what a song can do. Shit, it just struck me so powerfully, what a beat, that I couldn't sit down. Energy—how fantastic." • Clip courtesy of YouTube.
Words on Film
The always excellent Girish takes stock of his reading about film in 2006; there were more than fifty comments when I last checked in, with suggestions aplenty for further reading and some interesting discussion of what I too take to be a fundamental problem in blog design, identified thus by Girish: "But so much of valuable on-line writing and comment exchange is widely dispersed, and proceeds to disappear quickly, as time passes, into the dark caves of the archives. It's my one serious dissatisfaction with the blog format: I wish every blog contained a helpful table of contents page that conveniently listed or indexed all posts at a particular site. This year, I'd like to add a table of contents and index here; I'm assuming it won't be that difficult to do."
Documented Case of Involuntary Bressonism
I'm having an ambivalent but absorbing relationship to Robert Bresson's films as I work slowly through the dvds available to me. But perhaps under the influence of Kent Jones's meticulous BFI study of L'Argent, a quickly devoured Christmas present, I found myself thinking fondly, indeed almost longingly, of Bresson while seeing Brokeback Mountain for a second time the other night: first, as I meanly willed the complete annihilation of Gustavo Santaolalla's "subtle" guitar-driven score, and again in the penultimate scene at Twist's parents' ranch, the interior of which—a structural emanation of the stricken look on the mother's face, or vice versa—seemed a distant visual echo of the Sylvie van den Elsen scenes at the close of Bresson's last film.
Having blinked each time a year end list of books, films, or music tripped into my peripheral vision in December, I feel receptive to the picks by Pam Rehm and Peter O'Leary at Cultural Society. And Da Crouton's favorites from 2006. My resolutions for aught seven all concern inframince adjustments nobody but me would notice. Less a resolution than an inclination I hope to remember to give in to from time to time: stopping by here.
Friday -- 05 January 2007 -- permalink
"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely becomes its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit—all these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided" (Eno, A Year with Swollen Appendices, 19 December 1996).
Thursday -- 04 January 2007 -- permalink
Whoever they are
From a journal (4pm, 18 January 1987, Quel Fromage coffee shop in San Diego, aetat. two days shy of 22) — Reading Joyce's letters ($5 at 5th St. Books, discard hardback from SD Library). Endless account of accounts. Badly edited, too—but once in a while something worth the time and tedium. Woke up early for a Sunday, made coffee, showered, read two chapters of Anti-Oedipus. Went to laundromat: amazing woman, dressed in fringed cowboy boots, green tights, a black skirt, short slicked-back dyed burgundy hair—like Deneuve in the opening 'cruising' shots of The Hunger—sunglasses and all—drinking Heineken through a straw, heavily made up, kind of tough looking. Defined a charged area in the erotic economy of a Hillcrest laundromat with her scads of lingerie on hangers. • Am going to see Down by Law in half an hour. Last night saw Decline of the American Empire (Canadian) at the Guild and a tape of Tati's Playtime at M. & B.'s. The latter was brilliant—the elements / shots / objects become characters and the film moves by anxiety(-ies)—which are enacted (finally someone does walk into a closed glass door) and continued—much like Ulysses.... • X. called me last night at M. and B.'s and began another attack (whining) on the language poets (whoever they are)—the dullness of which is hard to recount. (45:3504)
Wednesday -- 03 January 2007 -- permalink
"The only value of ideology is to stop things becoming showbiz" (Brian Eno, A Year with Swollen Appendices).
Tuesday -- 02 January 2007 -- permalink
Tuesday -- 02 January 2007 -- permalink
In tomorrow's paper
Joshua Clover on Waldrop's Baudelaire. "It’s by no means the first prose translation, but it's the most charming: I don't recall another version, verse or prose, that slips so easily into the comradely 'we.' Or that uses the phrase 'dropsical dame.'" • Hear some.
Phonomnesis (James Brown)
Circa spring of 1983, an LA club called Lhasa temporarily became the spot we all craved to go to (not a club, now that I think of it, but a night at a club: we never knew for sure if and when it would be happening & guessed wrong at least once—not a small thing since it was an hour's drive away). I remember one night dancing to the Supremes with a bunch of superior mods (mod had no internal check on snobbishness), feeling dejected about some impossible erotic object, and gaping at the screen on which this was projected. • A few years later (when I was a sophomore at college?), I went to a party thrown by UCSD art department grad students at which all they played was James Brown: it seemed the height of considered taste to me. • What I can't recall is when I first heard him: the famous Apollo show recording was released two years before I was born, so in a way, he never wasn't there. • Via Fluxblog, Douglas Wolk's six-hour JB radio show from Christmas Day 2000.
The Architect Sketch
Saw a dozen or so episodes of early Monty Python last week (freeloading on another person's gift). Hadn't remembered this one, in which Cleese's pacing is brilliant. The frame shift first cued by "rotating blades" takes a few seconds to accomplish, in which lag the humor: "This is a 12-story block combining classical neo-Georgian features with the efficiency of modern techniques. The tenants arrive here and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these...." • Upon learning an abattoir was not what the committee had in mind: "Oh. I hadn't fully divined your attitude towards the tenants."
Sink more rapidly
From a journal (January 1994) — Kafka never can work: when he might be able to there is something that defeats him—headache, necessity of going to bed before 1 or 2 so that he can get to the office in the morning, a letter from "F." or someone connected to her, perhaps above all, noise. It is an elaborate game that he chronicles in detail. "Once again prodigious efforts stand before me. You have to dive down as it were, and sink more rapidly that that which sinks in advance of you" (January 30, 1915).
Great opening graf by Drew Gardner: "How you experience music depends partly on history, partly on physics, and partly on your body and mind. History provides musical values against which you measure every sound you hear. Physics provides waveforms acting in certain ways. The body provides the ear that changes these waves from air-pressure patterns to signals that the mind experiences and interprets." Read on in his review Tony Conrad for the Brooklyn Rail. • Tom Devaney kicks in some liner notes for his winter PennSound picks. • Pared some dormant links away to make room for Condalmo, Waggish, Sign and Sight, Discobelle, Eclectic Grooves, and Torture Garden.
Thursday -- 21 December 2006 -- permalink
Short Cuts (dir. Robert Altman, 1993). Scrooge (dir. Ronald Neame, 1970; ft. Albert Finney). Berlin Alexanderplatz, episodes 1-3 (dir. Ranier Werner Fassbinder, 1980; ft. Günter Lamprecht as Franz Biberkopf). Fanny and Alexander, television version, prologue and first act (dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1980). Judy Garland: Duets (wonderful snippet here; bonus track includes Garland singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in the show aired live the week following JFK's assassination). Little Women (dir. Gillian Armstrong, 1994).
Wednesday -- 20 December 2006 -- permalink
Tuesday -- 12 December 2006 -- permalink
Nowhere To Be Found
"When a foolish man hears of the Tao, / he laughs out loud. / If he didn't laugh, it wouldn't be the Tao" (Tao Te Ching 41, in Stephen Mitchell's translation).
Wednesday -- 07 June 2006 -- permalink
§ Wide Open — "How many times, in our lives, do we have to deal with 'frank' people (that's to say, who show off being so): in general, that precedes a small 'attack': one clears onself (in a tactless way) of one's own tactlessness; but the worst about frankness is that in general it is an open door, and wide open, onto stupidity. To me, it seems difficult to have the proposition 'I will be frank' followed by anything else but a stupid statement" (Roland Barthes, "Silence," The Neutral, trans. Krauss & Hollier, 25).
§ Good enough — "When an organism or blend is entirely good enough for the purposes at hand, relative to other organisms or blends, it is not additionally required to be the best one possible. Evolution does not look through all possible worlds; it selects only from what has come up. In the same way, conceptual integration employs whatever happens to have been activated in individual brains and collections of brains, rather than reviewing everything that could have been activated. In blending, as in evolution, good enough is good enough" (The Way We Think 321-22). This, believe it or not, is a pep talk.
§ Playing favorites — Summer, the season of uncoerced reading, is only about a week old, but I already have some favorites: bound book of poetry, Meteoric Flowers by Elizabeth Willis; chapbook, Seniors by George Stanley; serial epistolary work of poetics (unbound): the Gazette de la Villa Harris (Nºs 1-20) by Emmanuel Hocquard with Juliette Valéry; short story in the New Yorker, Alice Munro's "Dimension" (5 June 2006 issue); blog, A Tonalist Notes (esp. Laura Moriarty's pitch perfect entries), though posts like this one necessitate a mention of Odalisqued as well; book review (of a book I feel indifferent about), "Extended Play" by John Palattella (favorite moment: "Publishing these works isn’t wrong. But it is weird..."). More or less abstaining from film at the moment, but I did watch Munich on dvd a while back with a lively admiration for the acting, costuming, sound engineering, and much of the script: not a favorite, but it's been so long since I saw a movie that didn't suck, let it stand in for one.
Monday -- 22 May 2006 -- permalink