Monday, December 31, 2012

This One's for Mark Young (excerpt from Appearances)


Among my fondest memories of Mark Young are the times he asked me for lists of poem titles to get him going (ha!  this guy is one of most prolific, always inventive writers I know).

 Anyway, in a section of Appearances that I'm working on now I list titles of imaginary songs that appear on an imaginary juke box in an imaginary bar called the Cave, a very special club house for the legendary performance art group Vaudeville without Organs.  Here's a taste:



159.

A juke box is a treasure trove of information about the sort of establishment it exists within.  Herewith follows a list, alphabetically sorted, of a few of the song titles in the Cave’s juke box:
A.
Algebraic Bric-a-brac Breakdance
B.
Badiou’s Bad IOU Blues
C.
Chalk Songlines
D.
Data Dump Duet (the remix)
E.
Erotic Ergonomic Prelude
F.
Forgotten Fantasies
G.
Ghost Whirl
H.
Homophone Nights,
Haiku Zydeco
I.
Irregular Interventions
J.
Joint Custody Rhapsody
K.
Karaoke Suicide Stomp
L.
Lactic Acid Rock
M.
Multivariate Melodies
N.
Niche Notes
O.
Open Letter Operetta


Mark, you're welcome to any of these titles if you're looking for some.

Francis Bacon's Favorite Toast?

This is reputed to have been one of the painter Francis Bacon's favorite toasts:

"Champagne for my real friends.  Real pain for my sham friends."

Works for me.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I've never had
a complete thought.
Bob,

I don't hate speech, but I believe it hates me.

Love,

Tom

Friday, December 21, 2012

The ground's covered with snow.  Flakes are swirling in the air.  Thankfully the winds have abated.  It's cold.  This 112 year old house makes noises in the cold that are different from other times of year.

*

I was looking at pictures of my one month (one month!) old granddaughter and thought "She has elfin ears."

*

Still stuck at a pivotal point in Appearances.  There's a thing I need to figure out in order to proceed.  I keep rejecting different possibilities.  Once I figure this out the piece should open wider.

*

Thomas Fink and I have returned to working on our sestinas.  Once the revision process is completed we'll have a chapbook worth of work.

*

I have a book's worth of uncollected poetry from the last year or two.  Maybe a couple of books or a number of chapbooks.  I just don't see any available venues at this point.  Nor do I have the sense that the work I've already put out is garnering much attention at this point.

*

Slow sips of wine.  Slow glances snuck at the accumulating snow.

*

I think of my hair as brown but the other day when I got a haircut all the evidence on the apron was gray.

*

The stew I'm building is starting to smell very good.

*

Disappointed that the new Roland Barthes book didn't arrive today.

*

I've been experimenting with a slide on the electric guitar.  There have been isolated moments of an elementary blues developing which I am trying  not to get in the way of.

*

One of the things I love about an electric guitar--strumming it before you turn the amp on and then hearing the sound extend and continue when you do.

*


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Extent of Things

This could
Be otherwise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nick Tosches' Me and the Devil is one of the books in the current mix of things I'm reading.  It goes well with all the blues I'm listening to.  Am currently obsessed with Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge ( it was Buddy Guy's club).  

*

It's unseasonably warm.  Usually, per the weather statisticians, we've had at least 9 inches of snow by this time of year.  We've had less than an inch.  The Devil, you say?

*


Fresh Galatea!


 
GALATEA RESURRECTS ANNOUNCEMENT
 
I'm delighted to announce the release of Galatea Resurrects Issue No. 19, with its 69 new reviews in addition to other features.  You can access the issue directly at http://galatearesurrection19.blogspot.com  For convenience, I am cutnpasting the Table of Contents below.
 
Happy Reading!
 
Eileen Tabios
Editor, Galatea Resurrects
 
==============
 
GALATEA RESURRECTS #19
 

EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION
Eileen Tabios


NEW REVIEWS


Eileen Tabios engages THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON 1965-2010, edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser


Sunnylynn Thibodeaux reviews FAULT TREE by kathryn l. pringle


Judith Goldman reviews FAULT TREE by kathryn l. pringle


Micah Cavaleri reviews STILL: OF THE EARTH AS THE ARK WHICH DOES NOT MOVE by Matthew Cooperman


Guillermo Parra reviews UNCERTAIN TIME by Richard Caddel, with an introduction by Aaron Tieger 


Jeff Harrison engages LETTERS TO MADELEINE: TENDER AS MEMORY by Guillaume Apollinaire, edited by Lawrence Campa, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith


Bill Scalia reviews MAYBE A PAINTER by Christina Fisher


Jean Vengua reviews RING OF BONE: LEW WELCH COLLECTED POEMS, edited by Donald Allen


Burt Kimmelman reviews DIVINE MADNESS by Paul Pines


Lucy Biederman reviews RE- by Kristi Maxwell


Eileen Tabios engages MAY APPLE DEEP by Michael Sikkema


jim mccrary reviews CAPTAIN POETRY’S SUCKER PUNCH: A GUIDE TO THE HOMERIC PUNKHOLE, 1980-2012 by Kenneth Warren


Lucy Biederman reviews NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL by Harmony Holiday 


Garrett J. Brown reviews MAP OF THE HYDROGEN WORLD by Steve Halle


Jaime Townsend reviews HART ISLAND by Stacy Szymaszek  


Tom Hibbard reviews FOUR PAINTINGS by Guy Beining


Bill Scalia reviews BODY OF WATER by Erin M. Bertram


Eileen Tabios engages ANGLES OF INCIDENTS by Jon Curley


Tom Beckett reviews DECK OF DEEDS by Rodrigo Toscano


Lucy Biederman reviews MOTHER WAS A TRAGIC GIRL by Sandra Simonds 


Allen Strous reviews IT CAN BE SOLVED BY WALKING by Jennifer Wallace


Patrick James Dunagan reviews BEYOND THE CHAMELEON’S SKILL by Darius Cooper


Eileen Tabios engages BENDING AT THE ELBOW by Matyei Yankelevich


Jeannine Hall Gailey reviews EVERY DRESS A DECISION by Elizabeth Austen

Edric Mesmer reviews publications by, or edited by, BRIAN ANG, RAE ARMANTROUT, G.N. GABBARD, YVONNE REDDICK, BUCKY FLEUR, ROBERT DUNCAN, rob mclennan, VINCENT CERVONE, JOHN CUTTITO, PAIGE MELIN, ALBERT GLOVER, JOHN C. CLARKE, and j/j hastain


Bill Scalia reviews ABSOLUTE ELSEWHERE by James Davies and Simon Taylor


Gayle Romasanta reviews FOR THE CITY THAT NEARLY BROKE ME by Barbara Jane Reyes


Bill Scalia reviews THE SILVER BOOK by Jen Bervin


Eileen Tabios engages COMMON TIME by Chris Pusateri


Tom Beckett reviews PORTRAIT AND DREAM: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by Bill Berkson 


Bill Scalia reviews RUST OR GO MISSING by Lily Brown


Eileen Tabios engages ARDOR: POEMS OF LIFE by Janine Canan


Henry W. Leung reviews PHYLA OF JOY by Karen An-hwei Lee


Neil Leadbeater reviews SLEEPING WITH YOU AND OTHER NIGHT-TIME ADVENTURES by Geoff Stevens


Neil Leadbeater reviews ISLANDS IN THE BLOOD by Geoff Stevens


Mirna Perrin-Louis reviews “Heart as Arena” from THE FEELING IS ACTUAL by Paolo Javier


Eileen Tabios engages CLOUDFANG :: CAKEDIRT by Daniela Olszewska


John Bloomberg-Rissman engages BAN by Bhanu Kapil


Jon Curley reviews USELYSSES by Noel Black


Nicholas T. Spatafora reviews THE SHEPHERD’S ELEGY by John C. Goodman


Patrick James Dunagan reviews ON THE PLANET WITHOUT VISA: SELECTED POEMS AND OTHER WRITINGS AD 1960-2012 by Sotére Torregian


rob mclennan reviews AS LONG AS TREES LAST by Hoa Nguyen


Neil Leadbeater reviews A PARTIAL VIEW TOWARD NAZARETH by Kathryn Rantala


rob mclennan reviews THUNDERBIRD by Dorothea Lasky


Neil Leadbeater reviews THE WHITE CALF KICKS by Deborah Slicer


Jeffery Beam reviews APPROXIMATING DIAPASON by j/j hastain and tod thilleman


Eileen Tabios engages CUTTING TIME WITH A KNIFE by Michael Leong


NEW REVIEWS VIZ “RANDOM DIPTYCH”
Patrick James Dunagan reviews, viz “Random Diptych,” MATCHING SKIN by Shirlette Ammons, A COINCIDENCE OF WANTS by Michelle Detorie, THRONE by Michael Cross and MAJAKOVSKIJ EN TRAGEDY by Johannes Göransson

 Lucy Biederman engages, viz “Random Diptych,” PARTYKNIFE by Dan Mager and AUTOPSY TURVY by Thomas Fink & Maya Diablo Mason


ESSAYS
 

 
“VISUAL WRITING: 
LANGUAGE AND EXISTENCE 
THE IMAGE OF MATTER” by Tom Hibbard

“Engaging My Trans” by j/j hastain


FEATURED POET


THE CRITIC WRITES POEMS


FROM OFFLINE TO ONLINE
Edric Mesmer and Matthew Hall review DESIRING MAP by Megan Kaminski, FLASH BANG by James Cummins, GLOSS TO CARRIERS by Ian Heames, HGFED.JANVr; SOME STARSs by Jo Cook, THE KATECHON: LINES 101-200 by Michael Cross, PEACHES AND BATS, Issue 9, Spring 2012 edited by Sam Lohmann, THE RELATIONAL ELATIONS     of ORPHANED ALGEBRA by Eileen R. Tabios & j/j hastain, SORRY YOU’RE OCCUPIED: SPONTANEOUS ORDER, edited by James Louden, WHEREIN? HE ASKS OF MEMORY by Jeremy Balius, WORDS ON EDGE by Michael Leong 

Richard Kostelanetz reviews ALL THE WHISKEY IN HEAVEN by Charles Bernstein

John Olson reviews WHERE SHADOWS WILL: SELECTED POEMS 1988-2008 by Norma Cole

 

 
BACK COVER

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Please Consider Signing This Petition

On December 14, 2012, at least one gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and opened fire, killing what is currently being reported as a minimum of 27 people, 20 of whom were children. Completely innocent unarmed victims. 

Columbine. Red Lake Minnesota. Essex Vermont. Lancaster. Virginia Tech. To name a few. 

How many more innocents must die at the hands of an antiquated and oft-misinterpreted amendment? Enough. 

It's time to stop the violence.

That's why I signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama, which says:

"Our second amendment rights are long overdue a reevaluation. How many more senseless and entirely PREVENTABLE shootings have to occur before we do something about Gun Control. 

As a citizen and constituent of this great country, I am asking that you take a firm stand and make a positive change by restricting access to guns and saving lives. 

I don't have a gun. I don't want a gun. I don't need a gun. But somehow the guns always wind up in the hands of people crazy enough to use them irresponsibly and dangerously. This HAS TO BE STOPPED. 

Thank you for your action!" 

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name: 

http://signon.org/sign/gun-control-now-1?source=s.fwd&r_by=6328030 
There
are wounds
which never heal.

They
are called
by other names.

A Way Early Valentine for Geof Huth

Love's
an ocean
not a notion.

In places
it's shallow.

In places
it's deep.

Unfathomable things
swim in it.

Unknowable creatures
drown in it.

Love does
not conclude.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Of course I love Tim Morton's elegant response to the shooting tragedy.  Go here.




Ryan, my 4 year old grandson, stayed with me for a couple three hours today while his mom had a medical procedure.  He spent 15 minutes or so educating me about Angry Birds.  We collaborated on some drawings and some piano compositions.  We built some improbable Lego edifices.  We acted silly, had snacks, etc.  It was nice.

After Ryan and his mom left I went to the bank, did some grocery shopping and came home to the radio news of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

My Mom and Dad and both my brothers and their families live in western Connecticut.  One of my brothers, who is an iron worker in NYC, lives in the Sandy Hook/Newtown area.  My other brother and parents live in nearby towns.

I have visited often but never lived in Connecticut.  With the exception of a few years as an adolescent in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I have spent my whole life in the Middle West.  Still I feel closely touched by this tragedy.  Just as I did by the shootings at the Chardon school here in my own NE Ohio awhile back.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this.  I have no desire to preach about anything at this point.  I'm wondering, I guess, though about the sacredness of guns in our culture.  I'm wondering how people can intentionally terrorize and kill children.

Somehow, somewhere in between the sound bites and talking heads, we need to clear a space for  thought and action on the behalf of others.

Society is a petri dish in which all manner of things grow.  Why is it that I think capitalism is the carcinogen in the mix?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Shuddering can, to be sure, be a demonstration of fear, anxiety, the apprehension of death, when one shudders in advance at the idea of what is going to happen.  But it can be light, on the surface of the skin, when shuddering announces pleasure or ecstasy.[...] Water, they tell us, shudders before it boils, which is what we called seduction."
--Derrida

I
I want
I want to
I want to examine
I want to examine something
I want to examine something in
I want to examine something in the
I want to examine something in the light
I want to examine something in the light of
I want to examine something in the light of the
I want to examine something in the light of the current
I want to examine something in the light of the current situation. You
You ask
You ask me
You ask me why
You ask me why I
You ask me why I am
You ask me why I am trembling
You ask me why I am trembling now
You ask me why I am trembling now as
You ask me why I am trembling now as I
You ask me why I am trembling now as I attempt
You ask me why I am trembling now as I attempt this
You ask me why I am trembling now as I attempt this thing
You ask me why I am trembling now as I attempt this thing for
You ask me why I am trembling now as I attempt this thing for You.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

On Saturday afternoons I often listen to The Splendid Table on a local NPR affiliate.  It's a great program about food and food culture.  Tonight I'm going to try and make a recipe that was featured yesterday: Fettucine with lemon, hot pepper and pecorino romano .

*

As many of you know, from 1980-1990 I edited and published a journal called The Difficulties.  Recently I was approached about putting the whole run of the magazine online.  Hopefully that's going to happen sometime late next year.

*

This will be my 481st post to this blog.  When I created it I didn't make up a blogroll because I didn't think L'amour Fou was going to be around long.  I've created and deleted a lot of of blogs.  Sometimes I wish I had some of that old work back.  But for me art has never been about saving every scrap of work.  Destruction has been an aspect of creation.  Having to start over.

Anyway, on previous blogs I, a couple of times, wrote love letters to my bloglist.  I'm contemplating doing something along similar lines soon.  I think it's good to let those whose work you value KNOW.

*

Reading the Derrida biography and thinking about the ups and downs of a creative life, thinking about the consequences of thinking against the grain of what's taken for consensus (doxa).

*

I really don't want to take on any editing projects at this stage of life.  And I certainly don't want to do any more projects that resemble The Difficulties or the Rae Armantrout volume.  Not that I don't think those projects are of value.

I have thought at times though that it would be interesting to create an anthology focused on writing sex.  In my feverish imagination it would be a mix of genres, very much a hybrid affair.

*

I continue to be interested in conducting interviews but I'd prefer, at this point, to interview people from other disciplines--dancers,choreographers, architects, composers, musicians, philosophers, etc--about the poetics of what they do.  As you can tell from the slow development of Ask/Tell this is proving a challenging proposition.  So it goes.

*

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I look at erotic pictures on the web from time to time.  I'm fascinated by bodies (all sorts of bodies--male, female, transexual, plump or thin) even while never having been particularly comfortable in my own.

I recently discovered a site called Sex is not the enemy.  It depicts group sex, solo sex,  gay sex, straight sex, bisex, transsex and a   lot of different kinds of body shapes.  What I like most about the site is that most of the pictures communicate joy.  Which is kind of rare in erotic/porn photography.  If you visit the site, check out multiple pages in order to get a feel for the range of what's on offer.  It's certainly not for everyone but I found it rather beautiful.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm enjoying Benoit Peeters Derrida: A Biography.  This morning I was particularly charmed by this passage in which Avital Ronnell tells the story of her first meeting with Derrida:

"I'd come to this conference with my friend Gisele Celan-Lestrange, Celan's widow.  At that time, my status was unclear: I was still something of a student, even though I'd already begun teaching.  I wasn't prepared for this meeting, on that day.  I didn't think there would be so few of us in the hall. During the break, Derrida came over to me and asked me who I was. I don't know why I replied: 'But...don't you recognize me?'  He gazed at me in embarrassment. 'Er...no, I don't think so.'  I insisted. "Really?  But that's not very nice.  I'm metaphysics.'  I was staging myself like an effect of his text.  He was dumbstruck, a bit lost: 'So, you're metaphysics...?'  I'd been hoist by my own petard, and more or less obliged to carry on with the game.  I added something like: 'Yes, and I don't much like the way you've been treating me up until now...'"  (308)

Isn't that marvelous?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Electric guitars are crazy fun.  One doesn't have to know shit to make interesting sounds.  I, for one, am in favor of interesting sounds.
We smoothed
Things out.

We made
Our bed.

We talked
Things over.

It wasn't
Like that.

It wasn't
A wash.

It wasn't
A thing.

We found
Our way.

We thought
Things out.

We were
Out there.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Practice of Writing

for Branton

The practice of writing is not autogenous.  It doesn't arise from within or from a thing itself.

Nor is it autonomous.  It doesn't exist apart.

The practice of writing is interstitial.  It arises between and in the midst of things.

Concepts are things.

Relations are things.

Desires are things.

Practice is, I'd venture, life itself.

I'd venture, idventure.

You say stomata.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I don't think the spouse is too pleased with my having acquired the new guitar.  It doesn't quite fit with the poet nerd thing cultivated over the last 37 years or so (I know).  I'm not trying to be a "guitar hero".  It's more a matter of trying to do a little bit of something I never thought I could do.

I like the acoustic guitar.  I love how the electric sustains the notes--the extension of sound.

Here's what the new axe looks like.  It's cheap, but sweet like me.


New from Otoliths!


Now out from Otoliths

Addenda
Márton Koppány
7.5" x 7.5"
56 pages, full color
Otoliths, 2012
ISBN: 978- 0-9872010-6-5
$24.95 + p&h



Guitar Shorty?

My acoustic guitar now has a shorter, brasher sibling.  Today I followed a classified ad down a country road to a Hofner shorty travel guitar and a Fender Frontman 15 B amp and purchased both used for what seemed to be a reasonable price.  Then I went to a music store I haven't been to before and bought a guitar cable and some more picks.

I called the spouse at work to tell her about something she received in the mail--roses from our daughter and her husband--and said "By the way, I bought myself an early Christmas present today..."

Her response?  "Am I going to need ear plugs?"

"Yeah," I said, "I bought that electric guitar I saw in the paper."

Her response?  "Oh, shit."

So far I haven't done much more than tune it and noodle a little.

When I was at the music store I discussed guitar lessons with the owner.  He was very nice and I'm thinking about it.  Trying to decide if I can afford $80 a month.  I've been spending money lately as if I have it to spend.

Stay tuned. (Now when I use that expression I have a whole different appreciation for what it means.)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The spouse will be returning tomorrow.  I miss her intelligence, warmth and love, but I'm glad she was there for our daughter and her new child.  Especially because of her intelligence, warmth and love.

I had a couple of good guitar moments today.  I was experimenting with using my index finger as a slide and improvising with the plectrum--strumming and hitting notes.  I got to a different, freer place.

Was lonely this afternoon so walked downtown for a snack--calamari and wine.  Had a good conversation with the restaurant owner, one of his managers, a bartender and a waitperson.  Reminisced a bit.  This is a place I've been in and out of for 40 years.  It felt good.

I've been getting too isolated lately.  Not getting out enough, not talking to people enough.  It's a problem.  I can see it.

I'm slowly adding to Appearances.  I can't help but wonder what David Bromige would have made of this manuscript.  He always had a penchant for showing the mechanics behind a piece, revealing the Wizard behind the curtain, going meta but with a wink.

As I get older and come to understand that my work is probably going to be lost when I'm gone, I vacillate between  extremes of emotion.

Between is the keyword of the day.

Out.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Earlier this afternoon I walked a little over a mile in the cold.  I was wearing my scuffed leather jacket, ripped jeans and a cap that my youngest daughter knitted for me a couple of years ago.   It was good to be out and moving.  Moving briskly against a brisk wind.

I'm almost finished reading Neil Young's memoir Waging Serious Peace.  It's a loopy book.  I mean that in the best sense.  It meanders as conversation does, as anecdotes and memories do.  I like that Neil actually wrote it himself, that it wasn't ghosted (though it is obviously haunted).  It has all the perfections and imperfections of an intimate conversation with a friend.

As I am writing this I am listening to Young sing 4 Dead in Ohio.  It is, of course, a song about events that happened in the town I've lived in for the last 40 years.  Watching Neil Young's Journeys, Jonathan Demme's documentary about Young's solo concert in Ontario, I sob like a baby when he does this song--especially in the parts paired with May 4th footage.

I haven't been able to make progress with Appearances for weeks.  Finally today I had an insight that allowed me to go back and make some changes and also to begin a new section.  My plan at the beginning of the year had been to have a rough draft by the end of the year.  If I'm lucky I'll have at least half of a rough draft by the end of the year.  If I'm lucky.

James Joyce spent twenty years working on Finnegan's Wake.  I need to think about that level of commitment.  Except that I don't think I'm going to live that long.  And except that I know I'm no James Joyce.

Who and what am I?  Too late to ask 8 months away from 60?


Saturday, November 24, 2012




A constellation
Of keywords
Comes between
Us, comes
Between me
And you.


And all
Around the
Words between
Us are
Other words
Out of
Reach and
Not available
For use.


Words are
What are
In or
Out of
Reach of
A you’s
Or an
I’s use.

It may
Be that
Use is
The least
Of what
Words are.

It may
Be that
You and
I are
Only of
Use to
One another
When keywords
Fall away.





Friday, November 23, 2012

The spouse is on the East coast with my daughter and the new baby.  I'm in Ohio holding down the home front.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful.  Today it's cold and there are predictions of snow showers later this evening and for the next few days.

When I haven't been doing family related things or household chores I've been reading or practicing guitar.

Writing doesn't seem possible lately.  I have less and less the sense that there is an audience for the work I want to do.

"Everything is
not connected"

but any
thing is

connected to
some other

thing, is
it not?

I had Thanksgiving dinner with my youngest daughter and her family.  It was a nice visit, but I'm allergic to animal dander so am suffering a bit today.

I enjoyed interacting with my two grandsons.  The older one, Andy (he's 6), asked me how time was invented.  What a great question.  I responded that it probably came about when people observed that different things happened at different parts of the day--that it got light and dark-- and that there are seasons. Andy said "Oh, but how do you make a clock?'

I had to respond that I didn't know.  What I probably should have said is that he should ask his father who is a mechanical engineer.

Hmm.  I like questions.  Sometimes kids ask the best ones.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Girls

I am the father of two daughters.  This morning my oldest daughter gave birth to her first child, a girl.

A few moments ago I finished reading Kate Zambreno's Heroines.  It's a fierce and inspiring book.

So girls are on my mind.

I am not writing my daughter or her baby's name and particulars because that is my daughter's desire.  She wishes privacy in these matters.

Zambreno's Heroines is about writing the mess of personhood, about making the private public.  I think it is a book which will find a large audience over the course of time.  Its sincerity and grace are undeniable.  It's a book which is particularly addressed to women but which I truly hope men will read because I think it has a lot to say to us.

In flipping back and forth between notes about my daughter and KZ I'm not making comparisons.  I fiercely love my daughter and her baby melts my heart.  My daughter, by the way, is a genius in her own way.

Later.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed."

This morning I found this Chesterton passage in Zizek's Less Than Nothing:

"Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed.  Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion.  And the scepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape.  We who are Liberals once held Liberalism lightly as a truism.  Now it has been disputed, and we hold it fiercely as a faith.  We who believe in patriotism once thought patriotism to be reasonable, and thought little more about it.  Now we know it to be unreasonable, and know it to be right.  We who are Christians never knew the great philosophic common sense which inheres in that mystery until the anti-Christian writers pointed it out to us.  The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied.  Everything will become a creed.  It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them."

That bit was from G.K. Chesterton's Heretics (John Lane, 1905).  It has great explanatory force in today's political environment, no?

*

My wish for the world is that we spend less time trying to be right and more time practicing kindness.  Crazy, eh?

That being said, sometimes it is important to say no.  To say it emphatically, even.  But that, too, can be an act of kindness on occasion.  Be kind.  But don't be stupid.

*

I bought the new volume of David Foster Wallace essays, Both Flesh and Not.  It was an extravagant purchase to the extent that I only wanted it for one of the essays, "The Empty Plenum: David Markson's Wittgenstein's Mistress."  Markson is a writer that I love.  As is Wittgenstein.  I was curious to see how the amped and wordy Wallace would approach both Markson and Ludwig W.  Truth  be told, he connects everything up brilliantly.  Hopefully I'll post something more about it at some point.  Fascinating to me how philosophy, fiction and poetry bleed into one another at times.

*

It's been awhile since I've read a lot of the writers discussed, evoked and transfigured in Kate Zambreno's Heroines.  I'm thinking of Jane Bowles, Henry Miller, Kate Chopin,Bataille, Laure, Plath, Sexton,Anais Nin, Jean Rhys, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald,Breton and his Nadja,  Flaubert and his Bovary and many more.  (I'm highlighting figures I have a particular history with. There are a lot more that come into play in this wonderful book.)  KZ's making me want to re-read it all and I can't.  I have too much else I need to do at the moment, before I run out of time. But...

The work Zambreno's doing is essential. And very moving to me.  She's found a way to make "the wives" of modernism present and for them to speak through her almost parallel existence.  It's an intensely realized tightrope walk through many genres in which the real and the virtual are deeply intertwined.  I love this book.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

In today's mail: Derrida: A Biography by Benoit Peeters  (Polity Press, 2012)   I'm anxious to read it.

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I'm not writing lately but my mind is reeling in a number of directions.  I'm reading like a mad man.

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My guitar work is stalled at the moment.  I have six notes down pretty well but I'm having difficulty understanding some musical concepts on my own. And the only way I can play accurately is to play slowly.  So, I hit notes but am not doing tempo/rhythm.  I am learning, but very slowly indeed.  I've only nibbled at chords.  They intimidate me so far.

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 I truly don't understand "certainty".  Doubt enters into everything for me.  I have principles.  There are places I won't go; but reality is porous and sometimes decisions must be made from among an array of grays.  One just often doesn't know enough about anything.

If I could promote one principle above any other it would be curiosity.  If I ask you a question, it is because I really want to know what you think.  And, I think, that is a path that matters.

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I'm a rather unglamorous person.  No one is clamoring to have me read for them or much of anything else.  Still, I plan to continue until I no longer can.

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Am loving this footnote in Zizek's Less than Nothing:

"The ideological aspect of ecology should also be denounced in relation to architecture.  Architecture should be in harmony with its natural environment?  But architecture is by definition anti-nature, an act of delimitation against nature: one draws a line separating inside from outside, clearly stating to nature: 'Stay outside!  The inside is a domain from which you are excluded!'--the Inside is a de-naturalized space to be filled with artifacts.  The effort to harmonize architecture with the rhythms of nature is a secondary phenomenon, an attempt to obliterate the traces of the original founding crime."  (373)


Just finished reading this fascinating book, The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand by Benedict Anderson (Seagull Books, 2012).  It's about an extraordinary sculpture garden at a huge temple complex called Wat Phai Rong Wua in rural Thailand.

The sculpture garden attempts to portray what hell is like.  It features an assortment of naked figures being tortured for their sins.  Typically there is explanatory writing on the figure. On the belly of the figure depicted above, an inscription reads:  "He did not fear sin."

The images are all life size or larger.  Often disturbing.  Sometimes erotic.  This site shows a number of images from the temple.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"...content is always content for some entity.  Normally we do not notice this in our own lives, since we take ourselves for granted and assume that merely by opening our eyes we see everything exactly as it is.  We are normally unaware of the contortions imposed on the things by our own limitations and even our own gifts.  For this reason, we do not usually experience the tension between ourselves and our experiences, any more than we usually notice the tension between an apple and its real or sensual qualities.  For this to happen, we need to endure a breakdown of the usual situation in which perceptions and meanings simply lie before us as obvious facts, or in which we stalk through life in quasi-robotic union with the empty words we utter and the learned habitual gestures that have come to seem like natural extensions of ourselves."

--Graham Harman, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (258)

Philosophy and poetics combine in the above passage in ways that are of deep interest to me.  Poetry writing at its best is very often a deep disordering of the "usual situation in which perceptions and meanings lie before us as obvious facts."  That Rimbaud called for a disordering of the senses, that Coolidge, Mac Low and Cage embraced aleatory methods, that Charles Bernstein and so many other innovative writers have engaged in homophonic translations, only serves to underscore the point.

The real is never well-served by paraphrase.  The real is always being reinvented.

Monday, November 12, 2012



"...it is
the negative
that wears
the trousers."
--J.L. Austin, Sense and Sensibilia


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I am wanting
dress and address.

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"Location, location, location"
is repeated
often in my poetry.

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An argument happens
in a spot
which
is spreading.

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This is
what it will
never be.

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Friday, November 9, 2012




Beautiful sunny day in the low 50’s.  Went for a long walk this afternoon.  Inspite of my sore knee, tight hamstring.  Resisted the urge for some fried crawfish.  Now wish that I hadn’t.  The Cuyahoga is swollen and running fast.  My friend the heron wasn’t out.  I miss it.  Look for it whenever I’m by the river.
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Earlier today I read a review of a biography of  Ferdinand de Saussure in the new London Review of Books (Saussure by John Joseph).  It’s sounds like a good book.
I’m really interested in intellectual history. Sometimes ideas aren’t as interesting to me, in themselves, as how they came about.  Which has something to do, I suppose, with why I have a fascination with interviews and poetics, politics and collage.
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 Slow progress with the guitar.  I’m learning to play notes, but…
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Guitar and piano are the instruments which most particularly haunt me.  Oh, I love other instruments  too—Miles’ trumpet, Coltrane’s sax, Trombone Shorty’s , uhh, trombone, innumerable violins and drums, and on and on… but there’s something about Monk’s and Jarrett’s pianos piecing their ways through various partings and parsings which never fails to move me.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012


“…madness: its most succinct definition is that of a direct harmony between universality and its accidents, of a cancellation of the gap that separates the two—for the madman, the object which is his impossible stand-in within objectal reality loses its virtual character and becomes a fully integral part of that reality.  In contrast to madness, habit avoids this trap of direct identification thanks to its virtual character: the subject’s identification with a habit is not a direct identification with some positive feature, but an identification with a disposition, with a virtuality.  Habit is the outcome of a struggle for hegemony: it is an accident elevated to an ‘essence,’ to universal necessity, made to fill in its empty place.”

Zizek, from Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (358)


This bit from Z. resonates.  My ongoing, currently stuck, project (Appearances: A Novel in 365 Fragments) is very much about the Virtual and the Real.  In fact, the Virtual and the Real are both characters in that wannabe book.  In Appearances, phenomena and noumena dance together in public.  And a recurring iteration of a Chalk Outline character makes orphic pronouncements in fulfillment of Vaudeville without Organs' collective dreams.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Speaking of the President, I really love this In Performance at the White House blues concert.  Check it out. It has some stellar moments.





U.S. political culture is an increasingly schizy thing.  Part of the divide is along religious and secular lines.  Part of the divide is along male and female lines.  Part of the divide is along North/South, East/West  lines.  Part of the divide is along social and economic status lines.  Part of the divide is decidedly racial.

It cracks me up that the right has characterized Obama as a socialist demon.  He's a pragmatic left-leaning centrist.  For me he's not progressive enough, but he's certainly a good man who is trying to take this complicated, sprawling country into a better future.  And he's certainly navigating an incredible series of obstacles which are daunting at best.

I wish President Obama well, but I have few illusions.  The next 4 years are going to be rocky.










Tuesday, November 6, 2012



Page: 1
Of 1.
Words: 0.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vote on Tuesday!


                                                     
(click on image to enlarge)

Friday, November 2, 2012

This morning a couple of links were added to the Sonny Rae Tempest interview at Ask/Tell.  In the comment  section of the post just below this one, John Bloomberg-Rissman has also provided a link to an interesting Sonny Rae Tempest collaboration with Chris Funkhauser.

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I've been in a funk this week.  Writing's not going well.  And I seem to have hit a wall with the guitar.

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I like the interviews that have been posted to Ask/Tell so far.  But I'm disappointed that more interviews haven't been completed.  The premise of the site is to try and encourage cross-disciplinary conversations.  I'd welcome proposals.  I'm looking for in-depth, serious interviews. Not monologues.

The interviews I did with Graham Harman and Tim Morton turned out well, but I've had a number of attempts with others which didn't come to fruition.  Such is the nature of the beast I guess.

But, again, I'd welcome suggestions, proposals.  I want to think outside my usual parameters with people I might not otherwise have the opportunity to communicate with.  And I want others to do the same.

Think about stretching yourself in the direction of doing an interview for Ask/Tell.

Ask not what you can do for yourself.  Get others to tell you what they know.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



The above photo gives an idea of the hardscaping we had put in last week.  There's still some concrete work that needs to be done, but hurricane Sandy put that on hold for a bit.  Happily we escaped the brunt of the storm.  Some of my east coast relatives weren't so fortunate.  It's just grey and wet here in NE Ohio.  Which isn't unusual for this time of year.

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If you haven't ordered this anthology yet, you should.  It's a game changer.  Go here.

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Richard Lopez and I have been having an interesting exchange about Balthus' painting The Guitar Lesson.



It's probably Balthus' most controversial painting.  Some critics think that the teacher's face is Balthus' self-portrait.  There are many ways to read the painting.  It's pretty fair to say that the teacher is holding her pupil like a guitar.  So, a lesson is beginning?

The painting is more or less disturbing, depending on your point of view.

For me it is a painting about the cusp of sexual awakening and not much else.

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This morning I re-read the first couple of pages of Don Delillo's Cosmopolis.  The 2nd paragraph in the book haunts me:

"He tried to read his way into sleep but only grew more wakeful.  He read science and poetry.  He liked spare poems sited minutely in white space, ranks of alphabetic strokes burnt into paper.  Poems made him conscious of his breathing.  A poem bared the moment to things he was not normally prepared to notice.  This was the nuance of every poem, at least for him at night, these long weeks one breath after another in the rotating room at the top of the triplex."

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I have serious writer's block lately.  I read, listen to music, do various other things, but am feeling unhappy with myself.

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Writing is a funny enterprise.  If I know exactly what I want to write I can do it.

The writing which really interests me though is the writing that I don't know how to do.

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Aleatory writing, procedural writing, is a way around writer's block.

But I'm not particularly interested in chance generated writing.

I am, though, interested in writing which takes chances.

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Writing, at its best, braids epistemology and ontology.  Being and knowing can't be separated.  A thing is a thing only insofar as it exists in relation to other things.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Listening to Gary Clark Jr.'s new CD, "Blak and Blu."  It's lovely. Good god that man can play guitar.

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A little worried about hurricane Sandy.  My parents and brothers are in Connecticut.  My oldest daughter is in Maryland.  It sounds like we might get a touch of the nastiness here in Ohio, too.

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In today's mail came, in addition to the Clark CD, my electronic guitar tuner and  The Collected Early Poems and Plays by Robert Duncan.

The tuner's been helpful already.

I've leafed through a bit of the Duncan.  Much of what's in this volume is the work of his that I know best--the Stein imitations,  "The Venice Poem,"  Medieval ScenesFaust FoutuLetters, Caesar's Gate, etc.

I love this piece from Caesar's Gate:

Eyesight II

The eye opening is a mouth seeing,
an organ of sight gasping for air.
Love in the eye corrupts the seed
stirring new freaks of vision there.

How wonderful in the new sight the world will appear!

The mouth speaking is a heart breathing.
The blood itself has seen something.
The world worm changing, coild in his pit
is the ripeness of the fruit, the organ of sight.

How wonderful in the new eye the world will appear.

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I'm soldiering on with Zizek's Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism.  This morning, on the exercise bike, this passage gave me pause:

"Immersion in cyberspace can intensify our bodily experience ( a new sensuality, a new body with more organs, new sexes...), but it also opens up the possibility for someone manipulating the cyberspace machinery to literally steal our own (virtual) body, depriving us of control over it, so that one no longer relates to one's body as to 'one's' own.' What we encounter here is the constitutive ambiguity of the notion of mediatization."

That passage is going to rattle around in me for awhile.  It evokes notions of possession that I find to be very powerful.

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I am a person who has never felt at home in his own skin.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012


This past week has been a wash as far as writing goes.  We had contractors here from Monday-Friday working on the “hardscape” at the front of the house.  They tore out and redid a long stretch of retaining wall, tore out a set of concrete steps and a set of wooden steps, widened the dangerously narrow driveway, changed the approach to the house by adding a tiered tumbled concrete (faux stone) staircase/walkway from the street up to the house.  It looks beautiful. It also was more expensive than I want to think about, but it had to be done.  We’ve been in this house for twenty years and the retaining wall was starting to lean when we moved in.  It wouldn’t have survived another Ohio winter. 

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I just ordered an electronic guitar tuner because I simply don’t yet have the ability to tune by ear.
Guitar work is going slowly and I get discouraged at times, but it is a concrete thing to do, making sound shapes in time.  I am not going to quit.  I may suck at the instrument. I look at my thick fingers trying to line up in a row for an A major chord and curse my gracelessness. But I am going to do this thing.  Earlier today I practiced the first few bars of a 2 string blues.  I am starting to make a few modest connections.  If I do this, that happens…but what if I do this?

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Living in Ohio during this political season is a form of craziness.  Ohio has to be the quintessential swing state.  We get robo-called at least ten times a day, the tv commercials are nonstop and—although I’m a political person—I’m wearying of the talking heads talking over one another.
Plus I’m not a good capitalist.  The only invisible hand I know anything about exists only in my sexual fantasies.  Too much information?

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I doubt that whatever I’ve done as a writer will long survive my death.  I wonder what it means what we make in life. 
In the meantime, while I’m still alive, I’m preoccupied with making something better than what I’ve made before. And I’m totally uncertain that I’m succeeding.
 My novel Appearances is such an attempt and it has had a rocky path. It’s a meta-novel and after ten months it’s only reached about 60 pages of manuscript.  I’m thus about a third of the way through a first draft.
The uncertainties of creation are a constant of my life.

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