is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that
something that is interesting is interesting them" Gertrude
The Towering Inferno
(dir. John Guillermin and Irwin Allen, 1974). By the time I sat down
to watch, the swank party was already being ordered to disperse by butch
fire chief Steve McQueen. Lots to be amused by and wry about, especially
if you haven't seen it since you were nine (which I was the summer of
its release). But the most consistently funny bits are those the principals
spend, in situations of supposedly mounting urgency, chatting on dainty
telephones to one another. It reminds me of the several scenes
of The Women (dir.
George Cukor, 1939) I happened to glimpse a few days back. It seemed
each time I looked, a phone call had just come in for one fabulous diva
or another: those black cones propped at the ear, the mouthpiece held
close to the lips, the awkward silences in which the men on the other
end said or failed to say something life altering. Phoning it in, like
they say. I dropped $20 on one of those iTalk mics that Apple
is forcing to remain shitty out of fear of bootlegging. Let it run while
we watched the Inferno, to see how it would handle a long file.
Listening later to just the dialog, soundtrack, and living room banter
made me long for Mystery
Science Theater 3000. Annoyingly, there was tons of what
John Vanderslice has usefully termed pixel
revolt, especially in the quicker passages. What does Adelphia do
will all the money I send them every month? Nevermind.
wonders: "The best evidence for this account is Tynnichus from
Chalcis, who never made a poem anyone would think worth mentioning,
except for the praise-song everyone sings, almost the most beautiful
lyric-poem there is, and simply, as he says himself, 'an invention of
the Muses.' In this more than anything else, then, I think, the god
is showing us, so that we should be in no doubt about it, that these
beautiful poems are not human, not even from human beings, but
are divine and from gods; that poets are nothing but representatives
of the gods, possessed by whoever possesses them. To show that,
the god deliberately sang the most beautiful lyric poem through the
most worthless poet. Don't you think I'm right, Ion?"
Techniques of abbreviation: "Here is a model of abbreviation; the
whole technique is reflected in it: Her husband abroad improving his
fortunes, an adulterous wife bears a child. On his return after long
delay, she pretends it begotten of snow. Deceit is mutual. Slyly he
waits. He whisks off, sells, andreporting to the mother a like
ridiculous talepretends the child melted by sun.... " (from
Geoffrey of Vinsauf's "Poetria Nova," ca. 1200).
Poetry blogs: Happy to stumble upon Rue
nibbled daintily at my syntax. We
all freewheelin' outlaws, but not. Mark at Culture
Industry gives the full text of Benjamin's Post
No Bills from One-Way Street. Before I owned my first computer,
I typed out the theses (click to enlarge image below) to have them always
near. They still hang on the back of a door in our house, getting truer,
more funny and more devastating, as the years of writing add up slash
take their toll.
Screen memories: Company:
The Original Cast Album (dir. D.A. Pennebaker, 1970). Here's a good
idea: leave "The Ladies Who Lunch" until 4am, when Elaine
Stritch is sure to be fresh and sober. Sondheim is amazing with the
singers, calmly correcting pronunciation ("say goody")
and restoring notes that have been unconsciously revised by the performers
during the show's run. The
Elephant Man (dir. David Lynch, 1980). Very belated first viewing
of this astonishing film. Lynch has never been this good again, frame
for frame. Or commanded such a cast. The
Silence of the Lambs (dir. Jonathan Demme, 1991). Continuing a mini-Hopkins
festival, and on the commercial-laden Spike! channel no less. Even with
the fear all drained out of it by familiarity, the small screen, censorship,
the film holds its interest, due mostly to Foster's performance.
Stunned to see that Swoonrocket,
Juliana Spahr's reading
diary, has been online for a year without my finding it until this
morning. Other recent additions to the poetry links:
King, Girish, and
Following a link from Girish, found Flickhead.
And on a tip from Mudd Up,
added downtempo devotée Properly
Chilled. Also updated the link to Honey,
Where You Been So Long.
memories: Georges Brassens, J'suis de la mauvaise herbe (dir.
Alain Poulange and Guillaume Vincent, 2001;
Fever (dir. John Badham, 1977). All but the floor show of
Rocky Horror Picture
Show (dir. Jim Sharman, 1975).
blogs: Here's a glimpse of what Kasey's
up to in San Francisco (caption
anyone?), while Rodney shakes the Limetree
with his appreciations of Kevin Killian
and Michael Gizzi.
Even when Stephanie neglects to nourish
the moon, her flickr
account remains the photo album I most like to leaf through in hopes
of seeing what friends, and photogenic strangers, are up to.
At Equanimity, vacation
is making Jordan really meta: witness this reluctant
post on reluctant posters. I
can't determine if Jordan is supposed to be Lacan or the analysand in
the next graf. In any case, practicing amateur psychoanalsysis on people
one doesn't know has it hazards, as Nada
pointed out a
while back. But I kind of admire Jordan for rushing in (or thinking
to rush in, then thinking better of it, then...) where angels dare not,
etc. I forwarded a link to Michael Nicoloff's thoughtful post
(at the interesting and new to me I
Am Yer Grammar) about Invective
Verse to the author,
and shot her e-mail address to him. Those Maine to Brooklyn hotlines
are always open.... Franklin deficit spends his cultural capital
with a list of works
neither read, purchased, or received. And when the blogs
are slow (which the poetry blogs always are), it's just as Ron Padgett
describes (update: just noticed that Laura
Branigan fan Emily Lloyd
arrives at a similar analogy in the comments box to Shannon's
Things are shaping up well. Keep at it" (or: sunflower, you
are not a sunflower, you are a harbinger of revolutionary violence).
Drew's got notes
to John Godfrey's Private
Lemonade at Overlap.
I was just listening to "Pouring Gulf" this morning, along
with Perelman's "Revenge of the Bathwater," Wieners's "The
Legends of Garbo
and Dietrich," and other poems that take turns with the measly
320 tracks on the iPod (as I write, Paul Dutton fades in and sets about
fluttering his vocal folds in "Shut My Mouth," from the amazing
blogs: First the kind inmate at the croissant
factory tips me to Tom
Raworth's blog, at which I get to hear Paul Anka swinging
Like Teen Spirit," and then Rodney
Koeneke steps in for Kasey (who has been the undisputed king of
summer content, no?) with a great post on mystique management at Limetree.
Links duly updated. (I am acting like Hotel
Point is exercising the French right to a fermeture annuelle,
and that the rentrée will follow, endless and, by Kent
and Jimmy at least, indestructible.) Oh, and thanks to Joshua
for his carefully worded defense of carelessness, insouciance, saying
shit. He's right of course, though I doubt I'll ever overcome my socialization
(is that the right word for what made me recognize something I agreed
with in that passage
from Flaubert that seemed to so upset the budding blog nationalists
in 2003?) enough to bulk up my column inches per annum.
Memories (mid-July to mid-August): Alice
(dir. Woody Allen, 1990): better than the innumerable films constituting
his really depressing shitty streak, and better too than the memory
I'd retained from its release, but for all that, not truly good.
Twelve Monkeys (dir.
Terry Gilliam, 1995): because 28 Days Later
put me in mind of it; not disappointed. The
Children's Hour (dir. William Wyler, 1961): I'm agnostic re: Audrey
Hepburn, but I liked this film (and her in it) very much; the brat who
outs her teachers is better than anything in the Wonka films. Family
resemblance to The Group, though better.
Back to the Future
(dir. Robert Zemeckis, 1985): first full viewing, despite the culturally
mandated clips and bits caught on cable; main attraction: Christopher
Lloyd; and Zemecki's swerve around son-with-mom incest is, uhm, convenient
(her: "I just feel like I'm kissing my brother or something").
Edgeplay: A Film
about the Runaways (dir. Victory Tischler-Blue, 2004): encore
avec le scuzzy Kim Fowley, and lots of vintage resentments; Joan Jett
apparently unavailable for comment. Dogtown
and Z-Boys (dir. Stacy Peralta, 2001): Trackers, Bones, and an Alva
were my idea of heaven in eighth grade; this film (also with its vintage
resentments) explains why. Sideways
(dir. Alexander Payne, 2004): though she's saddled with the name "Maya"
and a correspondingly crippling speech at a turning point in this pretty
forgettable film, Virginia Madsen still spends the duration seeming
like she's in a better movie than the jerks surrounding her; Thomas
Haden Church is in the bad film, but he's dead on as a guy one knew
at SDSU, now all (not) grown up. The
Uninvited (dir. Lewis Allen, 1944): if Nick and Nora Charles were
siblings, they'd react to some melodramatic haunting with similar nonchalance;
by the curtain, the ghosts are laid to rest, and the principles are
just plain laid. Nifty. Ministry
of Fear (dir. Fritz Lang, 1944): along with the Kubrick I'm about
to mention, the only great film in the batch. TimeOut's capsulator gets
the gist of it here.
Paths of Glory
(dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1957; image gallery here):
Carey is a proto-beatnik trip, Kirk Douglas is stiffly and bullet-proofédly
perfect, the scarred and scarring George
Macready is vile as they come, and the ending, well, one hopes;
in any event, every frame is worth staring at. La
Cage aux Folles (dir. Eduoardo Molinaro, 1978): for Michel Serrault's
few days ago, Joshua over at Sugarhigh!
took the time to record his impatience with the search-engine assisted
narcissism of poets, linking it to those low-info blog notations like
"I read x today" or "x fell through the mail slot today,"
which to his mind succumb to "the Googlogic of valuation based
on sheer mention" and stifle the "originary thrill" of
blogger-brand wild analysis in favor of the mute accumulation of "cultural
capital." It is good to have such vexations so articulately voiced.
Good also to be asked: "If one isn't going to take the time or
risk to love it or hate it, or to imagine ways of reading the book and
letting the book register its world, why mention the book at all?"
at Third Factory has been to include the reception and reading of books
on the site as a way of providing context for the more substantive critical
work I am occasionally able to do. As I mention below,
I initially thought that work would take the form of a regular column
that would continue the e-mailed "Notes to Poetry" in a web
format. Because I've so far been unable to hit upon the rhythm and mode
of address that would make such a column possible, most of the work
for which Third Factory provides a background happens off-site, either
in the pages of The
Poker, or in reviews and articles here and there. This bugs me,
but not enough to shut down the shop.
evaluative commentary in most daybook
entries in part because I'm not quick-witted enough to write something
subtle and pithy the moment I put a book down. (My sense of Joshua is
that he has those chops, the lucky devil.) I often do have something
to go on after a single read, but it seldom is articulate or reliable
until about the third. And that's another problem: I wish I were better
at getting to that third read more often. Usually it takes an editor's
request to get me there in an accelerated fashion. More typically, it'll
be about five years in the making (for a book I'm interested in; I almost
never get there with a book I'm bored by).
As to displays
of "cultural capital," I don't know. J'adore Bourdieu, but
not to the exclusion of Habermas. That is, I think communicative action,
not primarily oriented to profit or dominance, happens more often than
Bourdieu's exaggerated insistence upon "strategic action"
allows. Is it possible that someone arranged the books on their coffee
table expressly so that I would extract the "meaning" of their
social status from the conveniently provided clues? Totally. Does that
mean that every stack of books is so designed? Not in my experience,
especially not with poets. Nor does the desire for recognition, one
of the more complex and interesting desires, reduce down to sifting
through google results for signs that one (or one's work) exists.
there's taste: hated it, loved it. As Barthes writes: "I like,
I don't like: this is of no importance to anyone; this, apparently,
has no meaning. And yet all this means: my body is not the same as
yours. Hence, in this anarchic foam of tastes and distastes, a kind
of listless blur, gradually appears the figure of a bodily enigma, requiring
complicity or irritation. Here begins the intimidation of the body,
which obliges others to endure me liberally, to remain silent
and polite confronted by pleasures or rejections which they do not share."
foam, glimpses of bodily enigma, obliging others to endure us: Joshua's
right, it puts one in mind of the best (and worst) of the blogs.
response, check here.)
Note: As a way of better acquainting myself with the wonderful resource
that is PENNSound,
I'll be posting listening notes to poetry soundfiles throughout August
Note: Working offline, in Netscape Composer, just trying to get a feel
for the medium, I made the first entries to a Third Factory daybook
four years ago on July 30, 2001 (no anchors, so it requires a bottomsward
scroll to get there). That week I was reading Adeena Karasick, Linh
Dinh, the fifth issue of The Germ, and Juliana Spahr's chapbook
Dole Street. I'd also just begun reading Emmanuel Hocquard's
massive book of poetry and poetics, ma haie, which has been a
source of delight and instruction for me ever since.
have managed to write the regular column around which this project was
to have turned in my initial conception and that lends a subjective
air of the inachevé to my metaphorical factory work. On
the "objective" side, I sometimes hear from others that the
site's organization is quirky and hard to navigate (suggested remedies
always welcome). But at least it has kept me in touch with the one
big poetry union that I joined with pleasure in the mid-1980s and
that has supplied me with contentious comaraderie ever since. Like Schuyler
says: "I salute that various field."
19 July permalink
The Nation double
issue of 18 and 25 July includes a dozen pages in a row that are
as good as the magazine gets: Lisa Duggan and Richard Kim on gay marriage,
Mike Davis on the H5N1 strain of avian flu, Amitav Ghosh on Abu Ghraib
one year after the photos broke, and John Palattella's masterful review
of Adam Kirsch's The Wounded Surgeon.
upon an unexpected film project while researching the actress who plays
Fanny Price in Patricia Rozema's only mildy interesting adaptation of
Austen's Mansfield Park (see below): Frances O'Connor is slated
to play Laura Riding in Poetic
Unreason, said to be currently in post-production. The IMDb plot
summary reads: "James D'Arcy stars as Robert Graves, the British
poet who becomes obsessed with his new lover, Laura Riding, as his own
marriage lays dying."
Screen memories: The
Name of the Rose (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986); The
Exterminating Angel (dir. Luis Buñuel, 1962); Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Tim Burton, 2005); Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Mel Stuart, 1971); Mansfield
Park (dir. Patricia Rozema, 1999).
The pace of the movie is like a horse dragging a heavy
cart. Inside the cart is everything we think we know. Things start
falling off the cart, though, until the end, when the cart is light
enough again to turn into a train. A music that intends so great
of joy that listeners fall down crying. Le vainqueur dune
rue à calcul voisine vous somme de rejoinder la même troupe
poissonnière dès que sa raquette marquera le premier point.
mechanism is often clogged with rage. And the salvation of this
exchange is understood to be futile. Current technologies of heart and
synapse permit only outgoing messages, while the life of the letter-writer
depends on a response. A little window into a potential poetic
policy. Bodily presence is optional.
Midday at midweek (blogs): Antlers.
Ruler Star. Steel
plate of stupid busy. Not
being mercurial and witty. A
yuppie urban elite being devoured where they shop and show off.
it then my fault that the palsy of my affections benumbs my whole life?
criticism, sarcasm, insults.
Phenomenology of 1981 (Aetat.
16): Gelling. Scamming. The phone. Minimum wage. Punk (T.S.O.L.,
Black Flag, China White, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, KNAC, Rodney).
At home in homophobia, racism, sexism. Class hatred.
Screen memories, 10 June - 5 July: The
Big Sleep (dir. Howard Hawkes, 1946); Gallipoli
(dir. Peter Weir, 1981); What's
Eating Gilbert Grape (dir. Lasse Halström, 1993); 28
Days Later... (dir. Danny Boyle, 2002; image below); Beautiful
Thing (dir. Hettie MacDonald, 1996); The
Group (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1966); A
Room with a View (dir. James Ivory, 1985); Soylent
Green (dir. Richard Fleischer, 1973); Westworld
(Michael Crichton, 1973); The
Piano (dir. Jane Campion, 1993); Steamboat
Bill, Jr. (dir. Charles Reisner, 1928; image above); Close
Encounters of the Third Kind (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1977); Torch
Song Trilogy (dir. Paul Bogart, 1988).
Accuracy, eye contact, volume, and understanding.
think poets should be imperialists; I think they should be importers;
I think they should be exploiters of external experience, without apology.
I don't see that kind of thinking very often in the poetry world."
Span: Call for Participation As the mid-year mark approaches,
readers of Third Factory are once again invited to participate in a
collective charting of the contemporary poetic field. Each contributor
is asked to provide a list of up to eleven titles (poetry and otherwise,
recent and rediscovered). Brief comments are also welcome (but not required).
Please contact me at this
address for guidelines on formatting. Earlier editions, which receive
a fair amount of traffic all throughout the year, can be seen here.
Deadline for inclusion is July 20, 2005.
May, early June permalink
weeks of mostly pleasurable absorption in the work of composing another
set of "Field Notes" for the Poker,
issue six of which can be expected shortly after Bloomsday.
Miss Julie by Strindberg. Transcripts of Adorno's 1959
lectures of The Critique of Pure Reason (a lecture a day); also
his essay on Siegfried Kracauer ("The Curious Realist") in
Notes to Literature. Horace's Ars Poetica in D.A.
Russell's prose translation. Edith Grossman's translation of
Don Quixote (a chapter an evening, ad libitum).
Edith Wharton's House of Mirth (begun). Randall Collins's
fat study of The Sociology of Philosophies (opening three chapters).
Recent issues of Artforum, Bookforum, Boston Review,
London Review of Books, NYRoB (Didion on Schiavo), TLS and
the usual news sources (NYT, Economist, Political Theory Daily
website, Wallerstein's bi-weekly bulletins).
Golden Ring: Sir Georg Solti (dir. Humphrey Burton, 1965).
Three by Linklater: Before
Sunrise (1995), Before
Sunset (2004), and Waking
Life (2001). Seconds
(dir. John Frankenheimer, 1966; still below left). I'm
Not Scared (dir. Gabriele Salvatores, 2003; still below right).
Mens' semi-finals of the French Open (Nadal def. Federer).
Episodes of Queer as Folk (fifth and final season) as they
May Wednesday permalink
Journey into Fear | Dir. Norman Foster, 1942 | Feat. Orson Welles,
Dolores del Rio, Joseph Cotten | 68min TCM
May Tuesday permalink
Phantom of Liberty | Dir. Luis Buñuel, 1974 | 104min |
Criterion Collection 290
| IMDb | Obscure commentary
in Jacket 2
May Monday permalink
surrealism, coming after, and coming off it (poetry blogs): An extraordinary
meditation on Broken
Constructivism: Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados at
David Hess's Heathens
in Heat. Hotel
Point peruses Alice Notley's new book of essays, Coming
de Corey: "To 'Come off it' (with an implied exclamation point)
is indeed the specialty of the New York School; it might be the secret
subtitle of Frank O'Hara's 'Personism.' And it might also be the motto
of The Hat, which I'm reading now for the first time. One major
and notable exception so far is Joshua Clover's piece, 'At the Atelier
Teleology,' which though tongue-in-cheek stills strikes me as having
highfalutin' aspirations toward the Big Statement, Big Poemness, 'Mastery'in
short, 'IT.' Which does not in fact strike me as a bad thing; which
seems even a tonic in the midst of the delightful, bird-witted, sometimes
energetically vulgar, always hyperintelligent, 'come off it' poems surrounding
Late April, early May permalink
memories: All About Eve
(dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950), Los
Olvidados (dir. Luis Buñuel, 1950; still below), Nazarín
(dir. Luis Buñuel, 1959), Imitation
of Life (dir. Douglas Sirk, 1959), Annie
Hall (dir. Woody Allen, 1977). The
Ox-Bow Incident (dir. William A. Wellman, 1943).
May Monday permalink
Another Site Note: Finally got around to a sorely needed updating of
the poetry links today, and also connected
some dots between the works received
and the daybooks. Added three new works
to the constellation page as well.
I've never gardened, but the manner in which little things always need
doing on a website makes me think of that activity. Hard to imagine
that I've kept it up for four years, all for the sake of a few things
that would have grown wild anyway.
Pam Brown and John Tranter announced Jacket
27 today. There's a secret pocket sewn into the lining of that elegant
and capacious garment in which you'll find a few manifestly inadequate
words on Lisa
Robertson's Nomados chapbook Rousseau's
April Sunday permalink
Site Note: Updated the ensemble, daybook,
and constellation pages. Like Walter
Benjamin says in "The Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses":
"Nulla dies sine lineabut there may well be weeks."
March Sunday permalink
Screen memories: The
Mayor of the Sunset Strip (dir. George Hinkenlooper, 2003). The
Kid Stays in the Picture (dir. Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen,
2002). Napoleon Dynamite
(dir. Jared Hess, 2004). CHO
Revolution (dir. Lorene Machado, 2004). Orphée
(dir. Jean Cocteau, 1949).
March Sunday permalink
des tables (first in a series, perhaps): work desk, circa 11am,
slightly fanned out but otherwise unmanipulated. Now if only I could
commission Manny Farber....
I'm with Mika on both these
also mightily relieved to be released from the third
season of 24, which I finished
watching on dvd Friday. Even when I thought the baby she brought into
CTU was a viral vector, I still liked Chloe. And as the season progressed,
her version of Coleen
Rowley-like rules following, her great vocal pacing and scrunched
up facial gestures, her terrific non-taste in clothes, all added up
to a distinctive character.
March 19 Saturday permalink
Autography: In more than ten semesters of organizing the New
Writing Series, only once have I had the wits to get all the participants
to sign the poster:
16 Wednesday permalink
Sitting in on Carla
Billitteri's graduate seminar on poetics, with guest Lyn Hejinian:
March Friday permalink
Inframince studies, portraiture (cont'd):
Jennifer Moxley's presence in the photo detail below is inframince.
Further studies in inframince at Hotel
Point (scroll down): inframince-meat, inframincingly.
"When one day at last they come to storm your deluxe cubicle"
Tree seeks inclusion on the enemies list.
March Thursday permalink
State of exception (cont'd): Mosses
from an Old Manse points to Disappeared
in America, an online companion to an exhibition at the Queens Museum
Joshua Corey's eloquent response
to Alyssa Lappen's March
4th attack on Ammiel Alcalay raises an interesting question concerning
strategy: should one attempt to reason with organizations (and delegates
thereof) that repeatedly demonstrate contempt for rational discourse?
As the right-wing stigmatizing machine
becomes more elaborate, and the consequences of stigmatization more
urgent, it will be important to have in place effective means of intellectual
self-defense. What will those look like?
March Wednesday permalink
Need, demand, and desire (cont'd): I decided to
check my recent loose talk about Lacan, desire, and pop songs against
his 1960 lectureoriginally delivered at Royaumonton
the "Subversion du sujet et dialectique du désir dans l'inconscient
freudien" (Ecrits II, Paris: Seuil, 1971: 151-191). It's
difficult going, as I recall from my very first attempt at the translation
(spindly note at top of the first page indicates that was January 13,
1989), but reading it in a Duchampian spirit (Lacan's graphs as notes
for his own Large Glass?), I actually managed to enjoy myself.
Fish hook, bottle opener, question mark: three shapes Lacan finds in
his "che vuoi" graph. But the completed graphas others
must have noticed by nowlooks very like an old style parking meter.
The way I see it, the coin drops right into the "tresor du signifiant,"
and the dwindling timereversing the vector from voice to signifieris
that of the analytic session.
(The food court at) Big Rock Candy Mountain (cont'd):
I can't imagine why Konvolut
K wished to traumatize me so, but I've now visited a Hootie-narrated
wonderland where breasts grow on trees and buckets of, um, dressing
spill freely as purple onion hula hoops spin and cheerleaders give free,
um, shaves. I hadn't known that there was a king who wanted me to have
it my way, until
now. Regicide does spring to mind.
As The Crowd, I'm pretty sure (no
lyric sheet anywhere) conclude: "It just goes to show you that
the world is shit." Where
"it" can be almost anything.
The advertisement does call attention to the curious absence of libido
in the original song. Alchohol, cigarettes, and laziness in abundance,
but not a woman in sight. Or have certain verses been dropped from the
version I know?
The voice: "And why is the right, last part of the vector of the
signfier S-S' the part subsequent to the point de capiton
designated as 'voice'? To solve this enigma, we must conceive the voice
in a strictly Lacanian way: not as a bearer of plenitude and self-presence
of meaning (as with Derrida) but as a meaningless object, as
an objectal remnant, leftover, of the signifying operation, of the capitonnage:
the voice is what is left over after we subtract from the signifier
the retroactive operation of 'quilting' which produces meaning"
(The Sublime Object of Ideology [London: Verso, 1989]: 104).
Conceptual (dis)integration network (cont'd):
"The picture is like a memorial drawn by an infant with a classical
education who can barely write..." (Arthur C. Danto on Cy Twombly's
1983 painting "Anabasis" in the 21 March 2005 issue of the
More convincing than the "cogito" are the words inscribed
on Duchamp's grave:
"D'ailleurs, c'est toujours les autres qui meurent" ("Besides,
it is always the others who die").
March Monday permalink
Need, demand, and desire (or, Lacanian pop, cont'd):
The structural exclusion of an agent (rabbit)
from the satisfaction of its desire for a thing (Trix) serves to interpellate
a class of agents (kids) whose desire, being satisfiable, makes them
rabbit"). Only the rabbit doesn't know that the whole universe
has been arranged specifically to preclude the satisfaction of his one
Need, demand, and desire (or, Lacanian pop, cont'd):
Woke this morning humming "Big
Rock Candy Mountain," which inverts the Silly Rabbit scenario
by describing a place where everything has been arranged specifically
to facilitate the satisfaction of a hobo's needs and desires. I'm especially
interested in the sacrifice that seems to have brought about this paradise:
"I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day / Where they hung the
jerk that invented work / In the Big Rock Candy Mountains."
March Sunday permalink
Adoption and its progeny (cont'd): A heterosexual
couple about to adopt a two-year old boy from Kazakhstan is instructed
to arrive with about ten grand in fresh clean US currency (hundreds
I think they said).
Cerebral jukebox (cont'd): The Crowd's "Silly
rabbit / trix / trix are for kids" drowns out The Postal Service
song about wanting badly to believe that "there is truth and love
is real." An interiorizing burn now twenty
years old (Huntington Beach, towards the end of High Schoolif
I'm placing it correctly), itself a parasite on the jingle
known since the dawn of consciousness, thus displaces a recent, more
ambivalent burn. As delegated speech, the Postal Service lyric is held
in low esteem by my ego. But maybe its the unconscious dropping nickels
into the machine just now? And what would its investment in such rank
sentimentality be, exactly?
Need, demand, and desire (or Lacanian pop, cont'd):
always thought of the 'valley low' as being filled with thickets, bogs,
quicksand, snakes, etc.worse than the mountain, even. As in 'so
wide you can't go around it, so low you can't go under it.'"
Already agape with admiration for Peter Culley's richly-articulated
charting of erotic topography, I experience a surplus frisson at his
sly invocation of the même meme in "worse
than the mountain, even."
Effect (cont'd): Commission a Wilson-Lincoln
Effect for the largest radiator in the house? But who of? (Suggestions
The tributes to Susan Sontag in Artforum
make me think of the evening in Parisperhaps the sole snowy one
in the eighteen months I lived thereon which we trudged out to
view several reels worth of Andy Warhol's screen
tests. Among the many responses to the Factory formula (three minutes
of stationary camera time during which subjects were instructed to remain
still), Sontag's performance stands out for its giddy inability to remain
still, or serious, or even in frame. Against all the talk of her "seriousness,"
one should also place what this screen test silently captured: a winning
willingness to succumb to a fit of giggling, même.
Inframince studies, zoological-architectural (cont'd):
When the frightened mouse wedges itself into the crevice between stove
and cabinet, the wiggle room remaining is inframince.
Inframince studies, olfactory (cont'd):
the scent of Greta has dwindled to inframince.
Read Drucilla Cornell's "Adoption and Its Progeny," from the
Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Matters, ed. Sally Haslanger
and Charlotte Witt (Ithaca: Cornell, 2005): 19-46.
Cornell's anarcho-Lacanian argument for "the equal protection of
the imaginary domain" goes like this: "we need not only actual
physical space, but also psychic space in which to struggle to become
a person. The individual, not the state, should be the normative 'master'
of this kind of struggle in which we seek to make sense of the identifications
that make up who we are" (26).
Acoustics of enclosed commercial environments (or, unlidded ear, cont'd):
even after assigning some focused attention to the task (zoning out
from group conversation to do so), I can hardly pick out a single signified
in the lyrics of a completely familiar tune. Finally, sheer redundancy
enables a (correct) guess: it's Groove
Line. At the same restaurant, I catch a guitar passage from a Rod
Stewart song that sounds like a passage from Pink Floyd's "Wish
You Were Here," a song I now think was "Fire" by the
Ohio Players (but I distrust my memory as I write this), the woozily
sex-dependent hook of "You are a magnet / and I am steel,"
the one-two punch of "Boogie Nights" and "Funky Town,"
a moment toward the start of "Never Known Love Before" that
I mistake for Duran Duran, and, as we depart, the ever-rousing "Barroom
Wallace Stevens, transgressor of the heteronormative family: To the
bumper stickers that read: "Marriage = [urinary segregation sign
for "man"] + [urinary segregation sign for "woman"]"
we could add a [silhouette of a blackbird]: "A man and a woman
and a blackbird / are one." Of course, once blackbirds are in,
all forms of alterity flip from inexcusable to inexcludable.
Delays not in glass (cont'd): The year old child in the jpg has one
brown baton-like object in her left hand as she gnaws at the end of
a matching baton-like object grasped in her right. For the first time
in years, I think the word "numchuck," wrongly.
Bachelors, brides, and delays not in glass (cont'd): Growing up, the
eldest boy in a working-class family comes especially to treasure two
objects, a set of leggos and a nearly-complete set of Hardy Boys novels.
When he moves from the family home his mother forbids him to take these
objects with him. The conditions she sets for retrieval are two: marriage
and a mortgage. After a delay of some years, and for motives not reducible
to his mother's blackmail, he complies and is reunited with his childhood
Inframince studies (cont'd): A well-known
feminist poet and scholar is sitting on our couch, listening as a colleague
of ours tries to persuade her of the value of a poet she hasn't much
cared for in the past. She listens patiently, then replies: "You
are convincing me, slightly."
"This fitting room / audited by / male loss prevention / associates."
Need, demand, and desire (or, Lacanian pop): It's easy enough to hear
My Love" as a less (or differently) jilted rewrite of "Ain't
No Mountain" (to which I was subjected in another enclosed
commercial environment today). But the latter loses me with the "valley
low enough" line. A low valley doesn't fall into the category of
sublime obstacle the overcoming of which demonstrates (proves) my equally
sublime capacity for answering the beloved's every demand. In other
words, it just sounds too doableat least in my "imaginary
Last night I finished Giorgio Agamben's short treatise on The
State of Exception (trans. Kevin Attel; Chicago: U of Chicago, 2005;
104pp; $12; link here to video
clip of Agamben lecturing on the topic). Not yet having read Homo
Sacer, which the present book is meant to supplement, I am deaf
no doubt to certain of the echoes better informed readers will hear.
Nevertheless I valued the careful political, juridical, and philosophical
genealogy provided by Agamben with the intent of demystifying certain
recent developments, such as the Bush administration's "extra-"-legal
conduct in the wake of September 11, 2001 and the wars in Afghanistan
Agamben explores a threshold concept for constitutional democracies:
that of the state of "exception" or "emergency."
We know that under certain conditions of extreme duress (siege, civil
unrest, economic crisis, revolution) the state can suspend normal law
in order to defend against its own dissolution. But what happens when
the apparent exception (temporary suspense of law in the face of "necessity")
has in fact become the rule (as Benjamin suggested in the eighth of
his "Theses on the Philosophy of History")? When the state's
monopoly over the right to lawlessness acts back on the entire legal
structure, infusing anomie into every crevice of the nomos?
Agamben: "That is to say, in extreme situations 'force of law'
floats as an indeterminate element that can be claimed both by the state
authority (which acts as a commissarial dictatorship) and by a revolutionary
organization (which acts as a sovereign dictatorship). The state of
exception is an anomic space in which what is at stake is a force of
law without law.... Such a 'force-of-law' [law is struck through in
the text], in which potentiality and act are radically separated, is
certainly something like a mystical element, or rather a fictio
by means of which law seeks to annex anomie to itself. But how is it
possible to conceive of such a 'mystical' element and the way it acts
in the state of exception? This is precisely the problem that we must
try to clarify" (39).
Effect (cont'd): Agamben's treatment of the "state of exception"
in the United States focuses on Lincoln's period of constitution-defending
non-constitutionality, or "commissarial dictatorship," beginning
in April of 1861 and Woodrow Wilson's arrogation of "even broader
powers" during World War I: "It is, however, necessary to
specify that instead of ignoring Congress, as Lincoln had done, Wilson
preferred each time to have the powers in question delegated to him
by Congress" (21).
Stephanie Young flickers
into view. And with her, the Oakland poetry scene.
Bedbugs are de rigueur (or, the persistence of frame): Seeing Lumet's
Running on Empty
(1988) with Russell's Spanking
the Monkey (1994) still in mind (see February 18 below)
tilts the Christina Lahti - River Phoenix relationship ever so slightly
Connection to Duchamp: "Rrose Sélavy trouve qu'un incesticide
doit coucher avec sa mère avant de la tuer; les punaises sont
In the space of fifteen traumatic minutes, seeing Mickey Rooney first
in drag (as Carmen Miranda), then in blackface. Brace yourself for Babes
June 1-15, 2003 June
July 1-15, 2003 July
16-31, 2003 August 2003
September 2003 October
- December 2003 January - February
2004 March - June 2004
July - December 2004 January
- February 2005
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