"It is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that something that is interesting is interesting them" — Gertrude Stein

Monday — 30 January 2006 — permalink

§ Site note — This week I'll be serializing my article "Free (Market) Verse," forthcoming in the pages of The Baffler, here.

§ Faded lipstick — I'm grateful to Largehearted Boy, Said the Gramaphone, Lux Lotus, Heraclitean Fire, and others from the music side of things for calling attention to this project. I lacked the time in autumn to advance beyond the first few August sketches, but with luck 2006 won't be so brutally busy (knowing smile).

§ Required reading — Lime Tree on Legitimate Dangers.

18 January — permalink

§ Struck from the float (passages from Rosmarie Waldrop's Splitting Image) "Given to conclusions, I admire awkwardness in love. Open my clothes. To what stands outside my tongue."

"How to recall the body to itself, with lines discontinuous, metonymy restless, the mirror in back of the head? The sayable may remain unsaid in what is said, but still pulls. The force of gravity or tears."

"Like money, phonemes have no reality. No weight, no color, no density of desire. An abstract value that makes possible language, lunch in a pub, and the roar of a mob out to lynch."

"A threefold move is needed if the poem is to equal its ground of silence: preferring not to, having nothing to say, and saying it. I imagined the river, too, blinded with quick flames."

§ Brought up badly — "Hegel's third term has bad manners: it doesn't know when to leave. The fact that it has been brought up badly is the motor of the Hegelian dialectic: man is a perverted animal whom Nature fails to reabsorb, an ill-mannered child who insists on having his own way and forcibly transforms his perversion into a universal. Before being the measure of all things, he is the very principle of immoderation; and it is his obstinacy that transforms immoderation into measure. Truth is an enfant terrible (footnote 119 of Althusser's "On Content in the Thought of G.W.F. Hegel," Spectre of Hegel 164).

17 January — permalink

§ Screen memoriesPrivate Lives (dir. Sidney Franklin, 1931; feat. Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery). The script of Noel Coward's play still zips right along (I read it after watching Trouble in Paradise just a few weeks ago and it held its own), but this sluggish monstrosity ruthlessly hunts out and assassinates every scintilla of wit in its vicinity. Shearer is interesting for about eightyfour seconds of the eightyfour minute runtime, and Montgomery seems a cruel and unlikable prig from start to finish. Being married to anyone in the picture, leads or foils, would constitute severe punishment; remarrying one would be sheer idiocy. You can almost hear the shattering of martini glasses chez Noel as this dud made the rounds.

§ Other blogs — Somehow found a moment to housekeep my oudated links page before classes began. Things feel rather barren in the absence of konvolut m and rue hazard, but A Tonalist Notes is a welcome new addition. Today it features some images by Norma Cole, including this lovely one:

16 January — permalink

§ From a journal (21 January 1983, aetat. 18, Huntington Beach): 3 O'Clock & Dream Syndicate at Cal Poly Pomona.

15 January — permalink

§ The cataract — "For the artist, who does not deal in surfaces, the rejection of friendship is not only reasonable, but a necessity. Because the only possible spiritual development is in the sense of depth. The artistic tendency is not expansive, but a contraction. And art is the apotheosis of solitude. There is no communication because there are no vehicles of communication. Even on the rare occasions when word and gesture happen to be valid expressions of personality, they lose their significance on their passage through the cataract of the personality that is opposed to them" (Beckett in his 1931 book on Proust, copied into a journal on 18 January 1986).

§ From a journal (21 January 1987, aetat. 22, San Diego) — "Barrett thinks I'm too rhetorical" (Charles Bernstein, overheard in conversation).

§ Il faut bosser — Preparing to teach The Phenomenology of Spirit this spring, I'm reminded again of the intellectual debt I owe to Robert Pippin, with whom I was fortunate to study at UCSD in the mid-80s, and who has since gone on to chair the Committee on Social Thought at U of Chicago, among many other things. I very literally owe my present life, such as it is, to the education I received at UCSD between 1983 and 1988, and I'm grateful beyond words to a dozen or more professors there (Page duBois, Jean Luc Nancy, Sheldon Nodelman, Michael Davidson, Roy Harvey Pearce, Stephanie Jed, and Steve Fagin all come immediately to mind), but because I encountered him in the very first quarter after I matriculated, and because his lectures on the pre-Socratics, on Plato, Sartre, Derrida, Barthes, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Hegel and others were easily the most astonishing evidence of intellectual range and depth I'd ever at that time had occasion to witness firsthand, it was Pippin whose teaching most fundamentally shifted the horizon of my experiences and expectations as a reader and, if the term may be excused, a thinker.

§ Too light a garment for winter — "No, fools, no, goitrous cretins that you are, a book does not make a gelatine soup; a novel is not a pair of seamless boots; a sonnet, a syringe with a continuous jet; or a drama, a railway—all things which are essentially civilizing and adapted to advance humanity on its path of progress. ¶ By the guts of all the popes past, present, and future, no, and two hundred thousand times no! ¶ We cannot make a cotton cap out of a metonymy, or put on a comparison like a slipper; we cannot use an antithesis as an umbrella, and we cannot, unfortunately, lay a medley of rhymes on our body after the fashion of a waistcoat. I have an intimate conviction that an ode is too light a garment for winter, and that we should not be better clad in strophe, antistrophe, and epode than was the cynic's wife who contented herself with merely her virtue as chemise, and went about as naked as one's hand, so history relates" (Theophile Gautier, 1834 preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin, in Burton Rascoe's translation of 1920).

§ Involuntary unmemory —If you asked me today whether I had ever read Nerval's Sylvie, I would reply that I very much wish I had, but no, not yet, and not for lack of opportunity. All the more appalling then, the continuation of that journal entry from 18 January 1986: "3:41pm It seems so much later than it is. I have just finished reading (re-) Nerval's Sylvie. And then Proust's essay on Nerval. I preferred the former to the latter. I don't like hearing Proust's voice outside of his book. I will never read his letters."

14 January — permalink

§ Special Provisions — "Baudelaire was perhaps the first to conceive of a market-oriented originality, which for that very reason was more original in its day than any other (creer un poncif). This création entailed a certain intolerance. Baudelaire wanted to make room for his poems, and to this end he had to push aside others. He managed to devalue certain poetic liberties of the Romantics through his classical deployment of the alexandrine, and to devalue classicist poetics through the characteristic ruptures and defects he introduced into classical verse. In short, his poems contained special provisions for the elimination of competitors" (Benjamin, section 11 of "Central Park," Selected Writings IV: 168; creer un poncif = to invent a stereotype or commonplace).

§ On the fret — "It was an undoubted proof of his good sense and good disposition, that he was never querulous, never prone to inveigh against the present times, as is so common when superficial minds are on the fret" (Boswell, Life of Johnson, 28 March 1776).

§ From a journal (20 February 1998, aetat. 33, Paris): At Le Solferino the young waiter made the—perhaps innocent—mistake of changing an elderly woman's bill as though she had paid with a 100F note rather than a 500F note. The unaccompanied dame declaimed at length about the erosion of ethics in the young, what a rascal this one was, how she would bring the matter before the patron, etc., all through our brief repast. As I remarked to Jen the other day, the French seem unbothered by the lack of an interlocutor—they continue their stream of discourse unabated when alone, all the while checking from the corner of their eye to see if you might be listening, which they hope you are. I find it preferable to the enforced quiet of the puritan U.S., and to the under-the-breath mumblings of the British.

13 January — permalink

§ Screen memoriesThe Wizard of Oz (dir. Peter Fleming, 1939). "Are you hinting that my apples aren't what they oughta be?" • The Big Heat (dir. Fritz Lang, 1953; feat. Glenn Ford, Gloria Graham, Jocelyn Brando, Lee Marvin, Alexander Scourby). Hadn't known that it's Marlon's sister playing Katie Bannion with such elan, and hadn't remembered just how brilliant and ebullient a performance Graham gives. Despite my dread at the two passages in which harm befalls these women, this film just gets better with each viewing. • Boy's Night Out (dir. Michael Gordon, 1962; feat. Kim Novak, James Garner, Tony Randall). Novak has a dissertation to write: "Adolescent Sexual Fantasies in the Adult Suburban Male." Happily, evidence abounds.

§ From a journal (early January 1994, aetat. 28, Providence) — I love the way Kafka in his diaries says about this or that story that he has begun (but cannot finish) that it has x number of "irremediable" errors. He never says what they are, but you imagine that he is thinking of a sentence that can't be written correctly, or perhaps an instance of presentation that is "off" somehow. What counts is that he knows about them, that he is devastated by them. There is a little period, between August and December of 1914, when he seems almost happy. That spring, he writes about Napoleon’s errors leading up to Waterloo. For Kafka, it was always a psychic Waterloo, and the tactical errors were completely recognized as such at each step (not retrospectively). I cannot say how cheered I feel by reading those pages, all those pages: as though someone took the trouble to live less well than a Beckett character. • "I can't endure worry, and perhaps have been created expressly in order to die of it. When I shall have grown weak enough—it won't take very long—the most trifling worry will perhaps suffice to rout me" (Kafka, Diaries: 1914-1923 92).

§ And then went down with the ships — In the first of my childhood bedrooms there hung a needlepointed quatrain: "One ship sails east, another west / with the self-same wind that blows / 'tis the set of the sails and not the gales / which determines the way they go." Who worked it, who put it on my wall, and what lesson I was intended to extract from it have all become unanswerable questions with the passage of time, but the lines themselves remain (at least the first three, the fourth can be filled out in a variety of ways, none of which my memory spontaneously reproduces). Last night I experienced an unexpected fusion of past and present selves while reading this passage in Benjamin's "Central Park": "For the dialectician, what matters is having the wind of world history in one's sails. For him, thinking means setting the sails. What is important is how they are set. Words are for him merely the sails. The way they are set turns them into concepts" (section 23, Selected Writings IV: 176).

§ You know who you are — Richard Pryor, Late May 1968, Hollywood: "And when I say white man, I don't mean everybody—you know who you are." Laughter, Pryor guffaws, pauses. Guy in audience: "You're lucky I got a sense of humor." Pryor: "I'm lucky you have too, because I know what you white people do to us." Someone (hollering): "That's right!" Prolonged laughter and applause. Pryor (after a pause): "Can I ask you, why are you all afraid of black power? Why? You, you seem to be the spokesman for the bigot group, why are, uh..." Laughter and applause, Pryor guffaws. Pryor (announcer voice): "A contingent from bigotville, what do you say sir?" Pryor (regular voice): "Guys with a flag" (shifts to falsetto) 'Dammit I'm for Johnson.'" • I've been listening a lot to the Rhino two-disk set Evolution/Revolution lately, which catches Pryor a little before and just after the change of mind and style that grew from his September 1967 "what the fuck am I doing here" epiphany at the Aladdin Hotel and subsequent season in Berkeley with Huey Newton and Ishmael Reed. Pryor was a fact of my growing up—That Nigger's Crazy came out when I was nine—but just how many layers of it were lost on me only becomes apparent in listening again now. • Judging from the audience reactions, the physical component to these routines must have been amazing. But the aural record does suffice: I especially love the stalling use Pryor makes of his own laughter, which he releases in goofy but precisely-timed bursts that allow him to ride the audience reaction while remaining a split second ahead of the cognitive curve of his listeners.

7 January — permalink

§ Screen memoryZardoz (dir. John Boorman, 1974; feat. Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling; 105min; screened on FMC). A tenuous sublimity, indistinguishable from silliness, infuses Boorman's freebie follow-up to Deliverance. One never suspends disbelief, and yet every moment is gloriously unbelievable. • While I can still remember, here are the castes populating Boorman's fable: Eternals (cultural elites who literally live in a bubble), Apathetics (eternals who decline all actions and passions—until they taste Sean Connery's sweat), Renegades (eternals who've opted for a Fellini-esque denouement: unable to die, they dance out their decay), Brutals (who subsist in a Hobbesian state outside the bubble), Exterminators (Brutals commanded by Zardoz to slay surplus Brutals and make the rest to farm). • Connery careers through the picture in a red loincloth, leading J. to comment: "It's his The Swimmer." But Burt Lancaster looks like he was born for that role, while Connery is trapped between game effort and scarcely-concealed shame at what he's being made to do (by Boorman, not Zardoz).

§ For those past forty — "Plato forbids children to drink wine before eighteen, and to get drunk before forty; but those who have passed forty he orders to enjoy drinking, and to mix freely in their banquets the influence of Dionysus, that good old god who restores gaiety to all men and youth to the old, who softens and mollifies the passions of the soul as iron is softened by fire" (from Montaigne's "Of drunkenness," chapter two, book two of the Essais in Donald Frame's translation).

§ It is all the same to him — "He displays himself in complete seriousness, in order to illuminate the general conditions of human existence. He displays himself embedded in the random contingencies of his life and deals indiscriminately with the fluctuating movements of his consciousness, and it is precisely his random indiscriminateness that constitutes his method. Whether he relates an anecdote, discusses his daily occupations, ponders a moral precept of antiquity, or anticipatorily savors the sensation of his own death, he hardly changes his tone; it is all the same to him. And the tone he uses is on the whole that of a lively but unexcited and very richly nuanced conversation.... In him for the first time, man's life—the random personal life as a whole—becomes problematic in the modern sense. That is all one dares to say." (Erich Auerbach concluding his chapter on Montaigne in Mimesis).

6 January — permalink

§ More screen memories (including a few I'd forgotten about below) — Trouble in Paradise (dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1932; feat. Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, and Herbert Marshall). My favorite film in a cleaned-up print. • Mrs. Parkington (dir. Tay Garnett, 1944; feat. Greer Garson). Odd flick in which we see Garson age from waif to matriarch. • Mrs. Miniver (dir. William Wyler, 1942; feat. Greer Garson, Teresa Wright). The (at-least) annual viewing. • The Best Years of Our Lives (dir. William Wyler, 1946; feat. Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews). Teresa Wright, slain in Mrs. Miniver, rises to love Dana Andrews in Best Years. Myrna Loy is ever so gradually becoming my favorite actress. • 24: Season Four (created by Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran; various writers and directors). Previously I knew neither of Shohreh Aghdashloo (who plays Dina Araz) nor electromagnetic pulse bombs. Now I'm wiser. Fifty-something Iranian exile Aghdashloo is gorgeous (she reminds me somehow of Gena Rowlands), but her voice, rich and throaty, along with her "don't hurry me" line delivery made hers the most memorable character of the season.

§ Greedily tore through Franklin Bruno's alphabetical anatomization of Armed Forces in the Continuum 33 1/3 series. It's a testament to FB's immersive method and indefatigable observational powers that I fully expected him to describe the skip that afflicts "Big Boys" (right after "so you can cross her off your list") on my aging vinyl copy. • A few days after finishing the book, I happened to hear Abba's "Dancing Queen" in a department store. I listened carefully for the piano line Steve Nieve reworked in"Oliver's Army." FB's take: "In 'Dancing Queen,' the phrase is one morsel of ear candy among others, disappearing without resolution. In 'Oliver's Army,' the entire piano part is a neon arrow pointing back to EC's lyric and vocal" (54). • I seem to remember listening to a cassette of AF very intently one summer in my teens when I was at my father's house in Barrington, New Jersey. Few of the historical referents were known to me, and news of the "Columbus episode" hadn't reached me. Still, I studied the music and lyrics for everything they knew and I didn't. And I added being drafted into the "goon squad" to my list of things to avoid (along with people who worked for what the Clash called "the clampdown"). • I listen to country music in the car now and then, for the pleasure of it as well as the ideological education. Little Big Town's anthem "Boondocks" is hard to escape lately. The chorus goes: "I feel no shame / I'm proud of where I came from / I was born and raised in the boondocks / One thing I know / no matter where I go / I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks" (hear a snatch here). Commutation test: drop the phonetically proximate "goon squad" into the "boondock" slot. See what happens.

§ Wrongly reaching for Beckett, when it was Boswell's Life of Johnson that I wanted: "On Wednesday, April 3, in the morning I found him very busy putting his books in order, and as they were generally very old ones, clouds of dust were flying around him. He had on a pair of large gloves, such as hedgers use. His present appearance put me in mind of my uncle, Dr. Boswell's description of him, 'A robust genius, born to grapple with whole libraries'" (1776, aetat. 67).

Thanksgiving to Christmas — permalink

§ Screen memories (randomized by memory) — The Prisoner of Zenda (dir. John Cromwell, 1937). Witty performances by Ronald Colman, David Niven, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (dir. Fielder Cook, 1971). The CBS holiday special that turned into the Waltons series. Post-stroke Patricia Neal is uncanny as Momma Walton and Cook's nonchalant handling of diurnal clock verges on avant-garde. Scrooge (dir. Ronald Neame, 1970). Musical version with Albert Finney, who is magnificent in the lead. Also features the best Christmas present I can call to mind ("Come here, you weird little man"). Folks indebted to Scrooge celebrate his death (foretold) by dancing on his coffin and thanking him very much (for dying). Oliver Twist (dir. David Lean, 1948). Great sets. Alec Guinness's pronunciation of the word "dears." The trembling of Bill Sike's attack dog. A Christmas Carol (dir. Edwin L. Marin, 1938). With the poorly-suited Reginald Owen in the role reserved for Lionel Barrymore, who was too ill to fill it. Meet John Doe (dir. Frank Capra, 1941). Imagine a world in which this, not (the also terrific) It's a Wonderful Life, was consulted by all citizens on an annual basis. Barbara Stanwyck's "wow" is as pure of vocalization of anagnorisis as I've ever heard. Fanny & Alexander (dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1982; Swedish television version). Babette's Feast (dir. Gabriel Axel, 1987). I'd forgotten about the moan the turtle makes: so mournful. Jarl Kulle, so brilliant as Gustaf Adolf in Fanny and Alexander, plays the old general (whose task it is to appreciate the feast for the uncomprehending diners—and viewers). First eight episodes of the third season of The Family Guy (created by Seth MacFarlane). About 2250 UMaine students list themselves as members of the Family Guy Appreciation Club on facebook, so I am more or less professionally obligated to know it. At a first glance, I liked the pacing, the rampant allusiveness, the abrupt shifts from bathroom humor to arcane cultural references. Also the dog not dog, baby not baby things going on with Brian and Stewie. One great random sequence in which Peter is drawn into a fistfight with a rooster concludes with the latter's startled—what's the term? cluck doesn't quite get it—of recognition of the doom approaching it in the form of a propeller blade. Little Women (dir. Gillian Armstrong, 1994). The 39 Steps (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1935). The Lady Vanishes (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1938).

9 November — permalink

§ Thanks to Noam Scheindlin, Anna Moschovakis, and Matvei Yankelevich (the latter two pictured below), I'm less ignorant about contemporary poetry than I was before arriving at CCCP. We never made it out of "conference time," and so sadly missed Drew Gardner's reading (and book launch!) with Alan Davies on Saturday, but otherwise, je ne regrette rien. That Kasey and Stephanie arrive in Orono momently seems an extension or resumption of the conference somehow, or maybe the mystical marriage of n/oulipo and cccp? Apropos the question "what time is it?" Kaplan has an interesting answer.

28 October —permalink

§ Screen memories: Shadow of a Doubt (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1943). More at Filmsite, including Uncle Charles's epistemology lecture to young Charlie, delivered at the Til Two Club, where indelible Santa Rosa bad girl Louise (played by Janet Shaw, center in the still below) waits tables in sarcastic slo-mo: "You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl who knows something. There's so much you don't know. So much. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day and at night you sleep your untroubled, ordinary little sleep filled with peaceful, stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares! Or did I, or was it a silly inexpert little lie. You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know if you rip the fronts off houses you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie! Use your wits. Learn something."

§ Antic anticapitalism anyone?

23 October —permalink

§ "Every composition is a finite certainty out of the infinite uncertainty" (Schleiermacher).

22 October — permalink

§ I read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking over the course of three evenings a few weeks ago. The first evening I felt panicked by the premise of the book, reading quickly, a bit hysterically. (Photographs of the people who jumped from the towers on 9-11 produced a similar feeling when I first saw them in the days following the events.) The second evening I was carried along by Didion's calculated rate of narrative disclosure, always aware of the disjunction between the distress she was describing and the mastery of the description. The third night I sped too quickly through the closing pages, distracted by the story-line of the daughter (which concludes outside the book's frame) from fully attending to that of the husband. I'll have to reread those final forty pages or so in a calmer state of mind. "Because we were both writers and both worked at home our days were filled with the sound of each other's voices. I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right but we were each the person the other trusted. There was no separation between our investments or interests in a given situation. Many people assumed that we must be, since sometimes one and sometimes the other would get the better review, the bigger advance, in some way 'competitive,' that our private life must be a minefield of professional envies and resentments. This was so far from the case that the general insistence on it came to suggest certain lacunae in the popular understanding of marriage" (17).

§ In the early-90s I read more Habermas than is probably healthful. It was I suppose a kind of "cure" from the French post-structuralism I'd been drawn to as an undergraduate and grown impatient with a few years later. I still had time to read in those days, and I dutifully made it through the public sphere book, the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, several of the books from the late-1960s and early 1970s (Legitimation Crisis, Knowledge and Human Interests), as well as the Political-Philosophical Profiles and the collection of interviews Verso published under the title Autonomy & Solidarity. When I laid down the second volume of the Theory of Communicative Action in the summer of 1994 (I think it was), the "saturation" phase came to a close and I have read only sporadically in his oeuvre (and the substantial body of commentary around it) in the decade since, during which he has continued at a prolific pace. So it was with a familiar kind of pleasure that I read in one sitting his interview with Josef Früchtl concerning "Critical Theory and Frankfurt University" and the chapter from his recently translated Truth and Justification entitled "From Kant to Hegel and Back Again." While the latter does not advance any substantially new thinking on the matter of Hegel's partial carrying-through of a fundamental "detranscendentalizing" of the subject of knowledge and action, it does bring Habermas's thinking on the topic forward in an admirably concise, erudite, and even—at least in Barbara Fultner's translation—stylish manner. In the 1985/1987 interview, Habermas is asked to clarify some "ambiguous" remarks he'd made about Adorno's "genius-like" abilities. His answer is a mixture of empathy and awe: "Adorno was a genius, I say that without a hint of ambiguity. In the case of Horkheimer or Marcuse, with whom, by the way, I had a less complicated and, if you like, more intimate relationship, no one would have ever thought of saying such a thing. Adorno had an immediacy of awareness, a spontaneity of thought, and a power of formulation which I have never encountered before or since. One could not observe the process of development of Adorno's thoughts: they issued from him complete—he was a virtuoso in that respect. Also, he was simply not able to drop below his own level; he could not escape the strain of his own thinking for a moment. Adorno did not have the common touch, it was impossible for him, in an altogether painful way, to be commonplace. But at the same time, in his case the elevated demands and the avant-garde claims were without the purely stilted and auratic features which are familiar from the school of Stefan George. If there was a pathos, it was the pathos of negativism—and this need not stand in contradiction to fundamentally egalitarian convictions. Adorno remained anti-elitist despite all his striking refinement. Furthermore, he was also a genius in the sense that he had preserved certain childlike characteristics—both the precocity and the dependency of those who have not yet grown up; when faced with institutions and bureaucratic procedures he was peculiarly helpless" (220-21).

§ Screen Memory: I Walked with a Zombie (dir. Jacques Tourneur, 1943). Script and other information here. From the film transcript: "Jessica keeps walking toward Betsy, forcing her to backtrack. Betsy backs up against the stone wall. Staring into Jessica's frozen face, Betsy panics and SCREAMS, rushing past Jessica and pressing herself up against the opposite wall. As if in a trance, Jessica turns and slowly pursues her. Meanwhile, on the first floor of the tower, two servants stand nervously in the doorway, while Paul, in a robe and carrying a flashlight begins to mount the stairs. Jessica closes in on Betsy just as Paul reaches the top."

§ Wishes and grins: Wish I could be in Los Angeles to catch the /n/oulipo festival. • And wish I'd been in DC to witness the Baraka-Smith seminar. • For some reason, I grin when I scroll out of the October 20 entry at rue Hazard (last sight the good king Ubu) and into the October 19 entry (first sight a Lear-like Olson). • But it's a full smile when I open the cardboard box and reach through the packing peanuts to retrieve 750 pages of Ted Berrigan! I thought I'd have to wait until my trip to NYC in early November to see it, but some kind soul at UCal wants me to have it now, for free, with the words "examination copy not for resale" stamped in red along the top pages, which I can't mind, because they're what save me $50. Back to grinning, right through "Train Ride" (randomly selected):

"Man, you got to do

something about that hand-

writing! It's Terrible!"


Lorenzo Thomas

Said That

to me

in 1962.


I didn't.


It's ME.

10 October — permalink

§ Site note: The aggregate results of Attention Span 2005 can now be consulted here. Individual lists, many with commentary, will come online throughout October here.

8 October — permalink

§ Site note: On a rainy morning, with the prospect of a few days off in embarrassed institutional semi-acknowledgement of Christopher Columbus, it's possible to think, no doubt erroneously, that one has a handle on things, like classes (familiar and new), reading series, panels, and odd projects. So I've scoured the house for works received since late August & updated that page after a long lapse. And might—who knows?—get around to more.

18 September—permalink

§ Poetry blogs: Of the countless thing that might have been more carefully expressed in the "Field Notes" to Poker 6, I most regret a remark concerning Stephanie Young's marvelous (and recently relocated) Well Nourished Moon. I love the moon when it waxes and when it wanes. Having nothing (or too much) to say, and not saying it, is (with apologies to Cage) more admirarable than compulsive posting. Hence I love the periodic disappearing acts at Ecritures Bleues, the self-described "coy" of Odalisqued, the photogenic phases of Stephanie's work. But I hadn't figured that out yet when I filed my notes, or at least not to the point of making myself understood to others. • Another way to approach the issue: I can't easily call to mind a more erratic posting schedule than the one at this factory of mostly nonproductive labor. But so be it: off-line life is absorbing, happily (per Lyn Hejinian) and sadly (per William Fuller).

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