It is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that something that is interesting is interesting them...

27 September — Saturday

§ George Steiner | "Grave Jubilation: Auerbach's Mimesis remains a monument, and a gift" | TLS 5242 | 19 September 2003 | 3-5

"Nothing is more lacking in our current encounter with and understanding of great literature than joy. The sheer wonder of the thing, the laughter even in the creation of the tragic—perhaps only Nietzsche had exact words for it—irradiate Auerbach's learning. He knows the works of the masters to be a donation, unpredictable, at times harrowing, but in some sense miraculous. Homer and Dante might not have been, or might have been lost. A gravely jubilant sense of good fortune inhabits this book. We are its debtors" (5).

26 September — Friday

§ Satyricon | Dir. by Federico Fellini, 1969 | 129min | VHS | IMDb link

"Sometimes together, sometimes separately, Encolpius, Giton, and Ascyltus wander across the face of the Roman Empire, either participating in (often as victims) or just observing orgies, feasts, festivals, murders, abductions, you-name-it.... The individual elements of the film are realized with such conscious style that all of the nonacting, as well as the scenes of violence, or of copulations performed by persons fully clothed, have the effect of ritual, rather than the reality of some gaudy Italian spear-and-sandal epic, to which Fellini Satyricon is actually related, as all movies are related, though distantly" (from Vincent Canby's 1970 review of the film's first US release). Lawrence Russell's evocation of a key scene on Filmcourt: Encolpius and Giton "wander the city, which is a warren of the grotesque, a bizarre brothel, a merchant mall of the unconscious. A huge head is being dragged through an alley, a nightmare from a beheading, or an icon of the local Caesar (the megalomaniacal Trimalchio, as it later develops). They retire to Encolpio's room, make love, but in the morning are found by Ascylitus. Instead of fighting, they decide to go their separate ways, split their possessions, but when asked who he wants to be with, the faithless Gitone chooses Ascylitus. Encolpio barely has time to dwell upon this treachery when an earthquake hits, and the city collapses, blocks splitting from the huge dream walls, burying citizens, animals and the collective memory."

§ Chris Fritton | "Conversation Overheard in the Hall of Mirrors" and "Wolf Boy Falls in Love with the Bearded Lady" | Two of the three attractions in Dime Sideshow via Telephone | 8ish pm

25 September — Thursday

§ Edward Said, 1935-2003

"And while it is impossible to avoid the combative, assertive early stages in the nativist identity—they always occur: Yeats's early poetry is not only about Ireland, but about Irishness—there is a good deal of promise in getting beyond them, not remaining trapped in the emotional self-indulgence of celebrating one's identity. There is first of all the possibility of discovering a world not constructed of warring essences. Second, there is the possibility of a universalism that is not limited or coercive, which believing that all people have only one single identity is—that all Irish are only Irish, Indians Indians, Africans Africans, and so on ad nauseam. Third, and most important, moving beyond nativism does not mean abandoning nationality, but it does mean thinking of local identity as not exhaustive, and therefore not being anxious to confine oneself to one's own sphere, with its ceremonies of belonging, its built-in chauvinism, and its limiting sense of security." — from "Yeats and Decolonization," in Culture and Imperialism (229)

20 September — Saturday

§ Poetry Blogs — midmorning, EDT, with several updates

Allodox checks out the Drew Gardner Trio at the Pourhouse. • As does Elsewhere. • Limetree reports on Barrett Watten's discussion and reading at UC Berkeley: "If you've ever seen Watten in action in one of these discussion situations, it’s fascinating: he always has an answer ready at least six words before the end of the question, and the answer almost always changes the question into another, more complex and elaborately contextualized question that in turn requires the asking of several more questions just to get to a point where the conversation is back somewhere near where the original questioner started.  And then sometimes he’ll ask someone else what they think about something: good luck, someone!" • Bemsha Swing takes a well-deserved breather: after forty-nine rounds, it's Komunyakaa 14, Creeley 26, draw 9. • The death of Wayan Limbak prompts Silliman to reflect on the Ketjak form: "In Ketjak, & specifically in Lewiston’s recording of a 1966 performance, the effects of accumulation, reiteration & collaboration are instantly available to any ear. It was those aspects that I had in mind when I chose to name my evolving non-narrative prose poem Ketjak." • SDPG continues to articulate an "assembly poetics": "Assembly technicians are basically friendly data transformers at home among an ensemble of activities....[they] are quite comfortable with cute names and titles for things because any predictable future reaction doesn’t mean much anyway."

18 September — Thursday

§ Monique van Genderen | Opening at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts | Show runs from September 19 - November 9, 2003

§ Salvatore Marano | University of Catania, Italy | "Geomantic Rationale: On the Poetry of bpNichol" | English Dept Lecture | UMaine

17 September — Wednesday

§ Poetry Blogs — noonish, EDT

As of eight this morning, Bemsha Swing had staged twenty-nine rounds of the "battle of the BAPs." In the early "h's," the score stood at: Komunyakaa 10, Creeley 15, draw 4. The agon is, of course, fascinating, but even more so is the crisp articulation of a single reader's values, unfolded poem by poem. • More well-warranted attention for the Bronze Skull chapbook series: to Overlap's recent notes on Bob Harrison's Chorrera, Silliman now adds an appreciation of Stacy Szymaszek's Emptied of All Ships. • Twenty points and a postscript from Mexperimental to Houlihan. • Free Space Comix has its cloaking device activated in the wake of an extended and at times acrimonious discussion of editorial practices in the small-press world. • On a related note, Ululations cops to Machiavellianism. • Tympan settles into Central Time. • Allodox takes in Lost in Translation ("a phenomenology of being attracted to someone sympa from within a promise of emotional and physical fidelity"). • Laurable reminds us that it's WCW's birthday—and kindly calls attention to Alan Golding's interesting paper on modernist little mags, archived at an earlier version of Third Factory. • Passages: Seamus Heaney on Never Neutral, Alan Davies on Well-Nourished Moon. • Headshots: Jackson Mac Low on Sorter and Barrett Watten on Limetree.

§ Tim Crane | Director of the Philosophy Program, School of Advanced Study, U of London | "The Mind - Body Problem as a Dilemma" | Dept. of Philosophy Colloquium | UMaine

13 September — Saturday

§ Poetry Blogs — midmorning EDT

Elsewhere makes the case for Chris Stroffolino's importance, calling him "one of my generation's most consistently, and uniquely, fabulous poets." • Slow-loading Ron Silliman ponders "how form, genre & chance impact our lives," drawing examples from Salam Pax, Viggo Mortenson, Mike Davis, Paul Pena, and Stan Rice. • The Well-Nourished Moon is just one of the blogs to note the passing of Johnny Cash. • The omni-attentive Mosses from an Old Manse remembers Teddy Adorno on his centenary. • Limetree assays the "Houlibaloo." • While Mainstream Poetry presents the avantophobe with a poem. • And Free Space Comix jots her an e-mail. • Meanwhile, absented from Jim's Crush List, Laurable unveils a Self-Portrait in a Monkeyed-With Mirror. • And among the "innovations in American Poetry" called for over at the Monkey, a much-needed "acclaim chamber," a souped-up critic with total recall, and a decoder box for rendering interesting poetry dull (this differs from an MFA program how?). • Now take a better blog tour with SDPG.

12 September — Friday

§ Basquiat | Dir. by Julian Schnabel, 1996 | Dir. of Photography Ron Fortunato | 104min | DVD | IMDb link

From Janet Maslin's NYT review: the "film's central figure remains a cipher, the subject of a colorful scrapbook rather than a revealing portrait.... Mr. Schnabel's screenplay is much weaker than his visual direction, turning conversation into a mixture of grand pronouncements and yawning chasms. The film pitches well-chosen rock songs into its awkward lulls, but the gaps remain."

11 September — Thursday

§ ER | "When Night Meets Day" | NBC | First screened on 8 May 2003 | link

10 September — Wednesday

§ Call for Papers | National Poetry Foundation Conference on the Poetries of the 1940s, American and International | 23-27 June 2004 | link here for more

I attended two of the NPF's "decade" conferences—the 1930s (1993) and the 1950s (1996)—before helping organize the 1960s conference in 2000, and I can vouch for the quality and intensity of the nonstop poetry conversation to be found in Orono over the course of those four summer days. The only thing missing in the past? Bloggers... (though Kevin Killian, having already turned in a very dismayed fashion report about the 1950s event, did chronicle the 1960s conference in four detailed and delightful installments to the Poetics List: I, II, III, IV).

§ Poetry Blogs — early evening, EDT

Overlap comments on Bob Harrison's recent chapbook, Chorrera. • The Well-Nourished Moon takes stock of the books awaiting her attention on desks, shelves, and bedside tables, in bags, and by couches. • Harlequin Knights, one of my favorite places to read about films, remains on apartment renovating hiatus, but courteously suggests that I occupy myself with a Dziga Vertov manifesto on SDPG. (Which I do). • Twenty or more comments and counting over at the Possum Pouch, where Dale Smith posted his "Open Letter to Joan Houlihan" on Monday. • Monkey weighs in on the same issue here and in a series of funny comic panels. • Elsewhere overcomes novacaine numbness to do the bloggers in different voices. Sorter lists the ten books that brought him to poetry. • And though he's moved on since, Silliman's dwarf-fruit edition of Saturday derided blog names that don't coincide with their author's name (i.e. nearly all the poetry blogs save his), calling them "verbal leisure suits" that will haunt their wearers far into the future. (This from a man who wore suspenders without a jacket in the mid-1980s when I first saw him read!) Other entries are happily more to the mark, including the praise of my colleague Ben Friedlander's website for the course he taught on the 1940s last year.

2 September — Tuesday

§ Fast Times at Ridgemont High | Dir. Amy Heckerling, 1982 | DVD | 90min | IMDb link | Fansite link

My homage to the resumption of classes. • It's not so much that Cameron Crowe "gets" the Southern California I grew up in (graduating high school in Huntington Beach the year after the film was released)—in fact, I don't really "recognize" the people of Almost Famous and Fast Times the way I do the people in Altman's Short Cuts—but I do find the goofy, good-natured spirit of both films irresistible. Sean Penn's hilarious performance is undiminished after thirty years, but it's Jennifer Jason Leigh's patient and curiously self-assured suffering through of puffy-faced teen libido (and its consequences) that I admired most this time around. • Later: Pointing the car back onto the Maine highway after receiving a pretty gratuitous ticket (expired inspection sticker), what else can I think of but Spicoli's response to Mr. Hand, more incredulity than insult: "You Dick!"

§ English 429 - The Vital Word | Fall 2003

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