Tuesday, November 29, 2011


John Bloomberg-Rissman has joined Maria Damon, and myself, as a co-curator at Ask/Tell.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Listening to Coltrane's A Love Supreme after listening to a bunch of Steve Reich and Keith Jarrett.


Working on a new longish poem called Risk Groups. Not sure where it might be going. I think though that it owes a bit of its impetus to the impending end of my career in public health.


Three weeks to go before my last day at the Health Dept. Those final weeks will be pretty frantic as I try to finish up as much as I can. As much as I want to leave the job, goodbyes are always difficult. There have been a few surprisingly touching moments already--heartfelt exchanges with people I've worked with in the field for as many as 34 years. It's a time for reflection, for sure.


As I wrote in an earlier deleted post, to be a public health sanitarian is to be a professional worrier. One's spending one's working days trying to prevent bad things from happening. What does one accomplish in the end? I can't tell you how many people I kept from getting sick. I don't know. It's an intense job with many layers. It's also pretty thankless. I'm looking forward to the next chapter. I want to live some of the life I've deferred over these last 30 plus years. I want to do some readings, collaborations, and take the writing to a different level than I've had time for thus far. That's my ambition. We'll see what happens.


Am hoping to travel east soon before the De Kooning retrospective ends at MOMA. That's a show I'm aching to see.


I'm also hoping to redefine my relation to blogs in the coming year and to step things up at Ask/Tell.





Sunday, November 20, 2011

I pay attention to a lot of things. Yet I blur on a lot too. I wonder what it is reasonable to expect of a human being (in terms of responding to its environment).

Graham Harman on Quentin Meillassoux

I've been slowly working my way through Harman's Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh University Press, 2011). It's a challenging book and is not the place to start if you're new to Harman's work. ( Circus Philosophicus is the book I'd urge newbies to begin with. I think it's a volume that poets, in particular, will find engaging. But I digress.)

I'm fascinated by a passage from the Meillassoux volume. It's from the chapter on The Divine Inexistence. Here goes:

"Meillassoux's model of the divine 'carries both atheism and religion to their ultimate consequences in order to unveil their truth: God does not exist, and it is necessary to believe in God' (DI 233). If God existed, we could not believe in his advent, and we would be stuck with the amoral God who allows miserable things to occur. Belief now means hope for the future immanent God rather than faith in a current but hidden one. But we should also remember that 'atheism diminishes humans and humiliates their projects by deposing what it believes to be a simple myth' (DI 234). We have seen that what it gives us instead is a Promethean model of humans who are debased as badly as the amoral God of religion himself. For this reason, all the present-day efforts at demystification are a 'mocking enterprise...that only allows our species a few mediocre projects compared with what we are capable of envisaging. It is a sarcasm of humans towards humans, and thus a hatred of oneself' (DI 234). Religion is no better, but simply 'the undercurrent of a world that is not infinitely desired: a world not seized in its infinite power of advent, and loved for the eternal promise of which its madness is guarantor' (DI 235)."

I've been thinking about this passage all morning. It is a startlingly cogent tear-down of a chilling cultural binary.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Many thanks to Lars Palm who sent this poem in response to Parts and Other Pieces :

(q & a)
for Tom Beckett

am i rude if i say
the questions appear more
interesting than any answer?

or will you recognize my love
of questions & w(e)ariness of all
who claim to have answers?