Friday, September 21, 2007

float, but pre-digested.

Names collect their own crowds. They are greedy and live their own separate lives, scarcely connected with the real natures of the men who bear them.

The crowd which the seeker after fame envisages consists of shadows, that is, of creatures who do not even have to be alive so long as they are capable of one thing, which is to repeat his name. He wants them to repeat it often, and to repeat it in front of others, so that as many as possible may hear it and learn how to say it themselves. But what these shadows are apart from this -- their height, their appearance, how they live and work -- is a matter of total indifference to the man whose fame they spread.

Another question was presented which was yet more perplexing: It had been decided that thirty-six women should be admitted to the royal table. But in what proportion should they be selected for the municipal banquet from the new nobility, which held their titles by the terms of the Charter, and the old nobility, which had regained theirs? This was the problem to be solved. The new nobility was confounded when it saw that only five places were reserved for it. The common citizens considered themselves still more humiliated, since, among all the thirty-six ladies, there were only two who did not belong to the nobility, and because at a fete given by the city the municipal body was not represented by any woman.

Following is the list of the thirty-six ladies, as it appeared in the Moniteur: The Duchess of Fleury, the Duchess of Duras, the Countess of Blacas, the Marchioness of Avaray, the Marchioness of Boisgelin, the Countess of Escars, the Marchioness of Breze, the Duchess of Serent, the Countess of Damas, Madame de Choisy, the Duchess of Vauguyon, the Princess of Beaufremont, the Countess of Narbonne, the Viscountess of Narbonne, the Duchess of Maille, the Countess of Durfort, the Countess of Nansouty, the Marchioness of Lagrange, the Marchioness of La Rochejacquelein, the Duchess of Rohan-Montbazon, the Princess of Chalais, the Duchess of Coigny, the Duchess of Mouchy, the Duchess of Rohan, the Princess of Solre, the Princess of Wagram, the Countess of Bournonville, Madame Ferrand, Countess Maison, Marechale Suchet, the Duchess of Albufera, Marechale Oudinot (Duchess of Reggio), the Princess of Laval, the Duchess of Harcourt, the Marchioness of Tourzel and the Baroness of Montboissier.

Resignation is the salve for wounded self-love. Difficulties of etiquette are arranged according to inexorable laws. The fete takes place on the 27th of August. It is very fine.

We shall explain later the situation of these women.

It should be recalled that every time the Inca kings wanted to promulgate a new law, they always attributed its authorship to their ancestor Manco Capac who, they said, had promulgated certain laws during his lifetime and left others dormant in order that his successors might make them public whenever they proved to be necessary. They added that all of these laws had been taught him by his father the Sun, before he was sent to the earth.

This fact makes it doubly certain that knowledge of these conditions can not begin too early.

The principles governing confinement and recovery are so simple to-day, compared with the past, that we are confident that we shall see the day when the laborious child-birth will be looked upon as proof of a mistake. Among other great reforms may be mentioned the limitation of offspring, the defects of heredity, skin troubles, etc.

Foremost in these movements stand the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

1- Elias Canetti, tr. Carol Stewart. Crowds and Power. NYC: FSG, 1984.

2- Imbert De Saint-Amand, tr. James Davis. Famous Women of the French Court. NYC: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1892.

3- Garcilaso de la Vega, tr. "A.G." The Royal Commentaries of the Incas. Orion Press, 1961.

4- Mary R. Melendy, M.D., Ph.D. ("Graduate of Hahnemann Medical College, Chicago; Graduate of the Bennett Eclectic Medical College, Chicago; Student at Rush Medical Clinic, Cook County Hospital; Lecturer on Diseases of Women and Children in the American Health University, Etc., Etc."). The Ideal Woman: for Maidens-Wives-Mothers: a book giving full information on all the mysterious and complex matters pertaining to women. E.E. Miller, 1915.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We should all love a great picture.

Inside Rampart Cave was a mound of dung deposited, he and his colleagues concluded, by untold generations of female sloths who took shelter there to give birth. The manure pile was five feet high, 10 feet across, and more than 100 feet long. Martin felt like he’d entered a sacred place.

When vandals set it on fire 10 years later, the fossil dung heap was so enormous that it burned for months.


Madame Ronner loved any kind of cat, but she adored that furry, sprightly, roguish spark of life – a kitten. She watched the ways of kittens until she could paint them better than any other artist. Here we have a delightful example of her art. Leaving her room for a few minutes, she came back and found her mischievous little models playing in her paint-box and disarranging everything. Instead of being angry, however, she sketched the kittens and their mother, and so obtained a prettier, livelier, and more amusing picture than the one she had intended to make.


Tears came to her eyes. I felt I’d best not ask why. I kissed her hands across the table: “You’ll be beautiful whatever.”

After the meal I hurried off to the bathroom (the normal proportion between what I drink what I excrete has yielded to a magic process that produces a liter of piss from a glass of anything, and vice versa); once alone I remembered these pages waiting to be filled. Not only filled but provided for. A full account of my life requires a full life. Example: I can’t report what I read unless I read. Having scribbled these paragraphs, I’m going to do precisely that. Young Days in Bratislava – not comparable to Goethe or Henri Beyle, but good enough to make me want to write memoirs of some sort. I’m no writer, but if I ever became one, what greater gift to readers (at least I’m a reader!) than that of past times judiciously salvaged in the written word?


Is the growth of a lifetime. Portions
have been written: portions dictated
through the years of blindness.
Always has rung in my ears the
wail of that old Greek threnody:

Ai! Ai! Ai!
The dead that come not back!


In a book I am reading Fellini says that and that
Augustine never advocated caprice
An unknown woman says to my mother
I’m so sorry for your loss


“Since you possess the sum I ask for, sir, and my guarantee is sufficient, why do you refuse me?”

“Because men have their caprices as well as women, madame.”

“But what is this caprice, which makes you act thus against your interest? for, I repeat to you, make your conditions; whatever they may be, I accept them!”

“Your grace will accept all the conditions?” said the notary, with a singular expression.

“All! two, three, four thousand francs – more, if you will; for I tell you,” added the duchess, frankly, in a tone almost affectionate, “I have no resource but in you, sir – in you alone. It will be impossible for me to find elsewhere that which I ask you for to-morrow; and it must be – you understand – it must be absolutely. Thus, I repeat to you, whatever condition you impose on me for this service, I accept.”

In his blindness, he had interpreted in an unworthy manner the last words of the duchess. It was an idea as stupid as it was infamous; but we have already said that sometimes Jacques Ferrand became a tiger or a wolf; then the beast overpowered the man. He arose quickly and advanced toward the duchess. She, thunder-struck, rose at the same moment and regarded him with astonishment.


“Well then, and now I want to tell you what Mendel Teichmann had to say about Pechmann: that he was an attempt on the part of nature to make a good man. There are a million such attempts. Inexhaustible Nature is patient in its inventions. That’s what Mendel Teichmann said.”

“Yech,” said Pepe, bored, “we can’t use good people right now. What we need are heroes, fighters, executioners, knife-grinders, desperadoes.”

“You will need all sorts of people,” I said, “when the revolution has taken place.” I gasped—it wasn’t me speaking, it was Mendel Teichmann speaking through me. What had Teichmann done to me? What had Pechmann done to me? And what would Pepe do to me?


1 - Alan Weisman. The World Without Us. NYC: St. Martins, 2007.

2 - Arthur Mee and Holland Thompson, eds. The Everyday Library for Young People, Volume V: Plays, Pictures and Poems. NYC: The Grolier Society, 1916.

3 - Harry Mathews. The Journalist. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1997.

4 - Joseph P. Widney ("Author of: Race Life of The Aryan Peoples; The Lure and the Land; Genesis and Evolution of Islam and Judaeo-Christianity; The Faith That Has Come To Me; The Three Americas. In Preparation: LIFE AND ITS PROBLEMS AS SEEN BY A BLIND MAN AT NINETY-THREE"). Whither Away? The Problem of Death and the Hereafter. Los Angeles: Pacific Publishing Company, 1934.

5 - Laura Solomon. Blue and Red Things. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling, 2007.

6 - Eugene Sue. Mysteries of Paris. NYC: A.L. Burt, no date but probably late 1800s.

7 - Fred Wander, tr. Michael Hoffman. The Seventh Well. NYC: Norton, 2007.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Link Of The Week

I have often believed that book dust contains a brain toxin that slowly makes people crazy in a particular way. If you have met a lot of used book dealers, you probably know what I'm talking about -- anecdotal evidence suggests that the longer you hang around old books, the nuttier you become...

And so I refer you to today's SITE OF THE WEEK:

The main point is that, looking carefully to the mechanism of dust accumulation on the books and the way it transfer to our respiratory organs; makes the case of books dust special and needs new revision.

The new findings reveal that the problem is beyond our current knowledge about dust mite or allergy and asthma due to dust. The health damage is more serious than we would want to ignore because of economical concern. This problem is of concern not only to librarians but anybody who keeps books at home or deals with books. We clean everything carefully in the house except books. The study shows that, long time exposure to books dust can create many illnesses like lung cancer, heart attack, allergy, asthma, skin problem, depression etc. This site is created to sensitize the public for taking action against this serious health hazard.

This is the result of two entire years working for days and nights. I did this for the love of people and science. I did my best. I did my part. I cannot do anything alone. I now need your help and support.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The spirit of the place / as dogma, the heart / I cannot cite

I first learned the word orthoepy when Keith Waldrop, at the San Francisco Poetry Center in 2003, held up a placard, in lieu of reading the word aloud, when his poem contained it, on which the word was spelled:

Jacob Delafon locates the word orthoepy, meaning the “correct pronunciation of words.” The Word seems to him unpronounceable.

Two years later, at a library sale, Tyler Carter came across a copy of that grand old book: The Orthoepist: A Pronouncing Manual, containing about three thousand five hundred words, including a considerable number of the names of foreign authors, artists, etc., that are often mispronounced, by Alfred Ayres. Some months afterward, forgetful that we already had a copy in our household, I checked another copy of the same book out of the same library. We stayed up late that evening, drinking ouzo and discussing pronunciatory varietals until our own slurred speech rendered all one. “Dude,” I said, “The more things change.”

I am sometimes fond of a radio show on which the host likes to say

These are troubled times we live in. There are some strange things happening out there.

in response to almost anything. I once grew accustomed to arguing with Jenn Guitart about the need to distinguish between Dawn and Don, or lack thereof. When I recorded her own pronunciations and played them back to her, she could not say which were which. But later I found this map:

Whereas today I found, on my desk, a copy of Alfred Ayres’ later (1883) book, The Verbalist: A Manual, devoted to brief discussions of the right and the wrong use of words, and to some other matters of interest to those who would speak and write with propriety, which states quite clearly on page 109:

“However, my dear James, let this strong and striking instance of the misuse of the word it serve you in the way of caution. Never put an it on paper without thinking well of what you are about. When I see many its in a page, I always tremble for the writer.”
Jeopardize. This is a modern word which we could easily do without, as it means neither more nor less than its venerable progenitor to jeopard, which is greatly preferred by all careful writers.
Just going to. Instead of “I am just going to go,” it is better to say, “ I am just about to go.”
Kids. “This is another vile contraction. Habit blinds people to the unseemliness of a term like this. How would it sound if one should speak of silk gloves as silks?”
Kind. See POLITE.
Knights Templars.

Mencius, whose philosophical attitude is not entirely unlike that of Alfred Ayres, says this:

If prevented by statutory regulations from making their coffins in this way, men cannot have the feeling of pleasure.

Erle Stanley Gardner, who likewise enjoys rationalizing death, presents the following image in The Case of the Screaming Woman:
“A ray of black light,” Mason said. “It’s fixed so that, when they swing one of their cars in the driveway, the garage doors all open....”
“But, Chief,” Della Street said, “doesn’t that make the garage vulnerable to any prowler or--?”
“They can undoubtedly turn a switch on the inside of the house and shut this mechanism off,” Mason told her. “The fact that it’s been left on indicates they intend to be back within a short time.”

Embleme XXXIIII of The Theater of Fine Devices, containing an hundred MORALL EMBLEMES, a facsimile of the unique copy of the book of emblems published by Richard Field in London 1614 and now in the collections of the Huntington Library starts with the motto
Some that in knowledge diue most deepe
know least from hurt themselues to keep

, continues with a crude etching of a bird falling, belly up, from a tree, and concludes with the following verse:

The Nightingale hath such a daintie note,
No other bird the harmonie can mend;
Sometimes to sing she straineth so her throte,
That therewithall her song and life doth end.
Eu’n so likewise some students do so dote,
When others do their prose and verse commend,
      That to attaine vnto more perfect skill,
      With studying too hard themselues they kill.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A tendency to show upward when drilled I

What if I were tell you a fairy tale?
The Old Witch might wander through the night
in search of an ending, only to find her role
in this story had never really been worked out.

It would be interesting to see from a study of their works, what idea the various artists had not only of Agnes’ character, but of the kind of death she died; unfortunately this would take far too long.

For the same reason, I cannot cite all the poets; for that reason, and for another too, which is not to their credit: it is rare that Agnes has inspired anything very good.

Will I ever be able to say “Today it writes,” just like “Today it rains,” “Today it is windy”? Only when it will come natural to me to use the verb “write” in the impersonal form will I be able to hope that through me is expressed something less limited than the personality of an individual.

And for the verb “to read”? Will we be able to say “Today it reads” as we say “Today it rains”? If you think about it, reading is a necessarily individual act, far more than writing. If we assume that writing manages to go beyond the limitations of the author, it will continue to have a meaning only when it is read by a single person and passes through his mental circuits. Only the ability to be read by a given individual proves that what is written shares in the power of writing, a power based on something that goes beyond the individual. The universe will express itself as long as somebody will be able to say “I read, therefore it writes.”

This is the special bliss that I see appear in the reader’s face, and which is denied me.

A very old man who had sung in Rabbi Shmelke’s choir when he was a boy, used to tell this: “It was the custom to lay out the notes for each text, so that it would not be necessary to fetch them when the praying before the pulpit began. But the rabbi paid no attention to the notes and sang utterly new melodies which no one had ever heard. We singers fell silent and listened to him. We could not understand from where those melodies came to him.”

“We think we smell with our noses [but] this is is a little like saying that we hear with our earlobes,” wrote Gordon Shepherd, a neuroscientist at Yale University.

Explorer: Don’t forget the knee cap. That’s missing in the arm.
Camel: I wonder if I have knees in my arms?
Explorer: This gentleman had good-sized feet for his height. Look at the length of these bones.
Camel: How firm a foundation!
Helper: Who’s mumbling in his beard now, Professor? Well, now that we’ve got him, what are we going to do with him?
(Enter Genii)
Genii: That’s what I’d like to know.
Explorer: Who are you?
Helper: Where did you come from?
Camel: I thought it was about time for you to show up.
Genii: This is Can’t-Believe-Your-Eyes-or-Ears Oasis. I’m the spirit of the place.
Helper: Does every place have a spirit?
Genii: Of course. Isn’t there an American spirit?
Helper: Why, yes, I guess there is.
Genii: And school spirit?
Helper: I hadn’t thought of that.

For the heart he put it as dogma: the heart dances in the line. Where the intellect shapes. In this concept of a syntax where there is no duality of body and spirit, the organic forces are reflected in the counterpoint of the poem. There is no “body” as there is in closed-form poetry to be inhabited by the spirit of the poem — as a sonnet is inhabited by the poet’s. Projective verse is a process. The poet practices it as a science (there is no duality between science and art, knowing and creating).

1 - Jonah Winter. The Continuing Misadventures of Andrew, the Headless Talking Bear. Lincoln, NE: Octopus Books, 2006.

2 - Louise Andre-Delastre (tr. Rosemary Sheed). Saint Agnes: Child-Martyr (Your Name Your Saint Series). New York: Macmillan, 1962.

3 - Italo Calvino (tr. William Weaver). If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. New York: Harcourt, 1981.

4 - Martin Buber (tr. Olga Marx). Tales of the Hasidim: Early Masters. New York: Schocken, 1966.

5 - Alexander Tsiaras. Body Voyage: A Three-Dimensional Tour of a Real Human Body. New York: Warner, 1997.

6 - Frances W. Butterfield (ill. Dorothy M. Weiss). From Little Acorns: The Story of Your Body. New York: Renbayle House, 1951.

7 - Robert Duncan. Introducing Charles Olson, 1957 — a handout. Reprinted in Minutes of the Charles Olson Society #18 (November 1996).

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thursday Linkday

Link of the Week:

Before the word blog existed, I googled with Altavista. Those were the text-centered days of html, when babelfish was easily made recursive, allowing one to translate entire pages from English to Russian and back again with a single cut-and-paste. On several occasions this led me to something called The Hotsy Totsy Club, which was a serialized, real-time hypertext published in blocks of text the size of a computer screen. The Hotsy Totsy Club had a tendency to show up when I, bored, altavistaed any of my more peculiar cultural obsessions: Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Jack Spicer, Blind Willie McTell, Samuel R. Delany, George Herriman. I imagined a bustling community of outsider scholars, perhaps an alliance of computer programmers with queer taste in music and literature (which happened to coincide, in large parts, with my own -- I had never met anybody who agreed with me about anything before!), who had simply decided to make public all their internal deliberations.

Gradually I started reading The Hotsy Totsy Club for its own sake, following its links into the greater world of hypertext, and it wasn't long before I discovered that the Club was actually some guy named Ray Davis, and that there were other people, with very different cultural obsessions, keeping similar web pages. One day the word "blog" appeared, and suddenly everybody had one. But Ray's, my first, has always been my prime example of what a blog can be.

Davis's webwriting practice has meandered and mutated for something like a decade now, and he keeps changing the name of his site. For a while it was "Kokonino Kounty", which implied a spatial conception of hypertext -- a strange landscape to be stumbled through, with the occasional brick tossed lovingly your way (I have always identified Ray with Ignatz, not Krazy, in my own allegorical whaleworld, though he may think otherwise himself). Then it became "The Bellona Times", which was a way of formalizing both the serial, timestamped nature of blogging and its arbitrary relationship to time, while at the same time insisting (by allegory, again, here to Delany's Dahlgren) upon its power-dependent construction of a public sphere amid the deliriously fragmented anarchy of the internet. Nowadays he calls it "Pseudopodium", a clever portmanteau which downplays his own power as a public speaker, and emphasizes (instead?) his amoebic articulations of thought.

As for me: Despite a lifelong attachment to computers, I am but a fool in html. How do I get my blockquotes to show up in those neat little boxes that Ray uses on his page?

Recursive Babelfish

On several cases this conducted me to that caused something by club Hotsy Totsy, which was published by series, in real time hypertext the published in blkakh of text size of the screen of computer. Club Hotsy Totsy had a tendency to show upward when drilled I, altavistaed any of my more specific cultural obsession: Thinking Connection Local 282 fellers, Jack Spicer, Dazzles Willie McTell, Samuel R Are made, George Herriman. I it presented bustling the community of the scholars of outsider, is possible the alliance of programmer with queer by taste in notes and literature

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Today my desktop, whales the world


In the future, people may be able to talk with chimpanzees and dolphins. Imagine what we may be able to learn from them. They may know about many things which we do not know about. New genetically engineered animals may roam in the forests. Wild places of the earth may be quite different from those of today.

The world of the future will be more complex than ours.


This is a ridiculous pretension. Nonetheless facts are fascinating and Melville has an insatiable curiosity. From a simple and seemingly tongue-in-cheek enumeration of the whale’s various characteristics, something of the whale will come to light. Parody at first conceals a fascination and later goes thoroughly astray. The heavily disguised mannerisms in Moby Dick are closer to mimesis than to parody.

Instinctively an allegorist, Melville creates a whale-world and imprisons us in it.


What we still don’t fully understand is how sperm whales catch their prey. There are no pictures or film of sperm whales eating. The relatively small squid they consume are bioluminescent...; but seeing is one thing, catching is another....

How, then, do the whales capture the squid? As one comes to expect with sperm whales, there are many theories but few answers. The sounds that sperm whales make might be focused into a powerful pulse of sound, or sonic boom, which stuns the squid, allowing the whales to gather them up at a leisurely pace. Perhaps the whale’s white teeth or the bright white flesh on the inside and the edges of its mouth act as beacons, luring the squid into the whale’s maw....

Among the more unusual items that have been found in a sperm whale’s stomach are shoes, rubber boots, toy cars and toy guns, bundles of insulated wire, dolls, coconuts, cosmetic jars, flesh from baleen whales, and fishing nets.

But surely the most unusual item is a man.


My other favorite design is of water lilies printed on silk. It is an iridescent fabric because of the fact that the warp and weft threads are different colors. She had the pattern of water lily blossoms and leaves printed on the warp (vertical threads) before the solid-colored weft (horizontal threads) were added. When the warp and weft were woven together, the pattern softened and fell slightly out of alignment, creating a shifting and shimmering quality, like real water lilies floating on water.

I also curate something called miscellaneous natural substances, which are all the things no one else wants to deal with in the decorative arts and have been dumped on me. There are strange bits of things on ivory, weird pieces of folk sculpture, fire buckets made of leather, plates made out of trees. We have a horrible little profile portrait of Ben Franklin in wax, now half melted, and odd bits and pieces, like scrimshaw, whale teeth that have been carved on by sailors. Apparently the boredom of being on a whaling ship was extreme, and the sailors would make decorative objects out of these things to bring home to their wives and families.

The museum is a big part of my life, but I have many other things in my life.


1 - Simon Lamblin (ill. Christian Bessiere, adaptation Howard E. Smith Jr.) . The World We Live In. New York: Larousse, 1982.

2 - Jean Jacques Mayoux (tr. John Ashbery). Melville. New York: Grove, 1960.

3 - Eric Jay Dolin. Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America. New York: Norton, 2007.

4 - Amelia Peck, as told to Danny Danzinger. from Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Viking, 2007.

My desk

Friday, June 29, 2007

Incomplete recently every intention tomorrow

This poem from Kristin Prevallet's altogether extraordinary I, Afterlife:


The lack is consumed with his thoughts.
I now believe that this world is nothing more than a means of being in another.
There is the orchestra, the lawn, and the buzz.
The echo outside of my dreaming that occurs within me but is actually only a projection. An antenna tuning in to the noises of the forest.
Epictetus: play around with the power of moving towards an object and retiring from it.
This gesture of approach is the closest you will get to the other side.

: of which we wanted only a fragment, but couldn't. I hereby transcribe this poem entirely. No kidding, transcribing, I mean it. If you must have a fragment, have this, from Gil Ott's Amputated Toe:

Where is she headed, is she running away, and if so, away from what or whom? Answers to these questions might make an interesting story, but they are not relevant to this one.

And this, from The World We Live In (1982, Larousse):

Grandmother may ride around in her own little helicopter. There will continue to be a family life. People will still cook meals. Committees will meet, people will have friends.... Interestingly, some objects may not change: rolling pins, spoons and shoes. There are no aliens from other planets in the picture.

Jean Jacques Mayoux (tr. John Ashbery), says in Melville (Grove Press, 1960):

No one will ever know exactly how Moby Dick was written. In the book which has come down to us, which is the only one we have, Melville's mixed and conflicting intentions are not easy to unravel: for example, the epic tone (a universally accepted convention) of the temptation to parody (a more dubious convention) and of the idea of the real greatness of modern man (proposition of a new truth).


...and when Queequeg squints at the signs on his own body ("he's found something there in the vicinity of his thigh -- I guess it's Sagittarius, or the Archer," says Ahab) one cannot shut one's eyes to the sexual motivation, or separate it absolutely from Ahab's madness, dissociate from a supreme humiliation that unatonable pain he feels, that suffering which inspires Melville to see "a crucifixion in his face." It is, in any case, a despair of ever existing which leaves intact only the "mechanical humming of the wheels of his vitality in him."

Look at text while I

A partial list of my incomplete readings:

(These are books that I have recently started to read, with every intention of finishing them tomorrow)
  • Advanced Number Theory, by Harvey Cohn
  • American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853, by Meredith L. McGill
  • Angle of Yaw, by Ben Lerner
  • Bear Comes Home, by Rafi Zabor
  • The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu
  • Bed, by Tao Lin
  • A Book of the Book, by Jerome Rothenberg and Stephen Clay
  • Collected Poems, by Basil Bunting
  • Folly, by Nada Gordon
  • Girly Man, by Charles Bernstein
  • Hopscotch, by Julio Cortazar
  • I, Afterlife, by Kristin Prevallet
  • Lilith's Brood, by Octavia Butler
  • Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight In Heaven, by Sherman Alexie
  • The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick
  • Mason and Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon
  • Mere Anarchy, by Woody Allen
  • Radiotext(e), by Neil Strauss and David Mandl
  • The Revisionist, by Miranda Mellis
  • Shakespeare and the Book, by David Scott Kastan
  • Storming The Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics, by Rebecca Solnit
  • Varieties of Disturbance, by Lydia Davis
  • Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio, and the Avant Garde, by Douglas Kahn and Gregory Whitehead
  • A Worldly Country, by John Ashbery

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A book is mistaken for the appropriation of its / tongue, implying that it is spoken / "with all my heart," I say

I picked up a YA novel for E at the BEA -- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -- because I know that she is a Sherman Alexie fan, and we both love Ellen Forney. I discovered the book some few mornings later at my bedside, next to the buzzing alarm. I took it to the kitchen and placed it on the counter, because I like to look at text while I drink my morning coffee.

A couple hours later, E came home to find me lying on the couch, now on my third cup of coffee. I barely looked up from the text. "OH THAT BOOK," she said, "IT IS TOTALLY CAPTIVATING AND HEARTBREAKING."

I thought she was making fun of me by sarcastically quoting a blurb from the back of the book. But I was indeed on the verge of tears or laughter, and had neglected to feed or dress myself -- I became angry, I know she doesn't approve of my YA habit, but -- but --

Of course, the book doesn't have any blurbs yet, because it is an advance reader. It'll be coming out in the fall. I hate to use this blog to blurb a book, but E was being totally sincere.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What do heaven bears do things?

Reads The Last Novel, by David Markson:

Anybody can be nobody.
Said Eugene V. Debs.

Novelist's personal genre. For all its seeming fragmentation, nonetheless obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax.

Wondering why one is surprised to realize that Thoreau was dead at forty-five.

A lament of Schopenhauer's:
Over how frequently the mere purchase of a book is mistaken for the appropriation of its contents.

Two pages of The Mill on the Floss are enough to start me crying.
Said Proust.

Meanwhile, on page 93 of A History of Modern Computing, the words

The word "language" turned out to be a dangerous term, implying much more than its initial users foresaw. The English word is derived from the French langue, meaning tongue, implying that it is spoken.

can be found. Dinaw Mengestu's narrator, the shopkeeper Sepha Stephanos, has this to say:

On those good days, which come once or twice a week, I make just over four hundred dollars. I walk home at the end of the night feeling better, not only about my store, but about this country. I think to myself, America is beautiful after all. There is more here. Gas is cheap. This is not a bad place. Things could be worse. And what else could I have done?

"So then, you hate America today?" Kenneth says. He smiles a half-smile. He pours a little scotch into a Styrofoam cup he stole from his office and hands it to me. I know that if I let him, he would pull from his pocket the missing $26.16 and slide it into the cash register. Anything to make me feel better.

"With all my heart," I say to him.

STAY ALIVE / the electric bass, I would have

One of the reasons I am keeping this blog: I hope to discover, or invent, hitherto unaware themes in my reading. I will be using the word "unaware" where others might use the word "subconscious". You might say that I may be investigating, as Jung wouldn't say, the "collective ignorance" of my books.

Collective Ignorance Artifact No. 1: BEARS.

I have recently read, for example, Rafi Zabor's excellent jazz novel, Bear Comes Home, in which a highly intelligent talking bear plays the saxophone (after Bear's first gig, Ornette Coleman helpfully suggests that he stop transposing his music into human). I have also read Tao Lin's Eeeee Eee Eeee, which involves talking bears as part of the scenery of depression. As you read this blog over the coming weeks, keep an eye out for BEARS -- especially talking ones -- and we'll see if they carry any meaning.

AND SO TODAY: As I work a 14-hour day at the store, I will be reading The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu, in my spare moments. Whenever I read the title, I think it is missing a verb at the end. I will also continue my browsing through David Markson's The Last Novel -- I'll let you know if I find any bears within.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Difficult where there are small trees to climb.

I can't stop looking at photographs of dead people.

I also keep reading How To Stay Alive In The Woods.

Why is everybody's mother reading Ishiguro?

Have you read the latest Linh Dinh? I have.

I also finished Harry And The Everything.

My first hit from google: somebody searched "rowled."

If I wanted to learn to play the electric bass, I would have plenty of books to choose from.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Its realism created a furor in the dizzy days of the last decade.

The March 30, 1935, issue of The Literary Digest contains the results of a symposium wherein Hamlet was voted "most popular play".

The compilation of the votes of the three hundred contributors was recently given out and the table showed:

"Hamlet" ............................. 80
"Rain" .................................. 64
"What Price Glory?" ......... 46
"Cyrano de Bergerac" ....... 44
"Peter Pan" ........................ 41
"The Jest" .......................... 40
"The Green Pastures" ...... 40
"Journey's End" ................. 36
"Reunion in Vienna" .......... 30
"The Cherry Orchard" ...... 25

9 years later, Saul Bellow's Dangling Man tells us:

My talent, if I have one at all, is for being a citizen, or what is today called, most apologetically, a good man. Is there some sort of personal effort I can substitute for the imagination?

How To Stay Alive In the Woods, by Bradford Angier, gives this relevant advice:

If you are unarmed and really need the bear's meal, you will want to plan and execute your campaign with all reasonable caution. This will probably mean, first of all, spotting with the minutest detail, preferably at least two paths of escape in case a fast exit should become advisable. This should not be too difficult where there are small trees to climb.

Page 154 of Orton & Sadler's 1888 Business Calculator and Accountant's Assistant gives the following examples of 10-letter code phrases for use in marking the cost and price of goods:


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Read one line repeatedly for two days.

Some books I've read during my absence from this blog:

- most of the rest of The Number System
- several poems from A Worldly Country, by J. Ashbery
- pages 15-23 of Pauper, Brawler and Slanderer, by Amos Tutuola
- the beginning of Hopscotch (chapters 73, 1, and 2)
- more of 39 microlectures
- a readers copy of Harriet and Isabella, by Patricia O'Brien (quickly deciding"NO", but unable to look away from the wreck. I probably read about a third of it, in fragments.)
- Imagine. You Are Landing. A book by Vittorio Santoro.
- some more again of Blues People, by LeRoi Jones
- HP and the..., up through the beginning of book 5.
- The Pines, Vol. 4

This blog will become more interesting if I write in it.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Substitute the new and destroy the old, thus necessitating but one reference.

The 1975 New York Social Register includes the January 1975 peach-colored insert DILATORY DOMICILES, which contains the above instructions. I found Caroline's and Penelope's families, but oddly nobody named Cohen or Rosenberg...

Matthew Goulish's 39 Microlectures in proximity of performance (signed by author) begins with some important instructions: "When reading this book, please take your time.... Start anywhere; stop anywhere....Don't read the whole book if you don't want to....Read one line repeatedly for two days...."

...With that in mind, you may want to avoid reading this book altogether. Go directly to the source notes, and read the books from which I have quoted or misquoted.

A sidebar in Angus Hall's The Supernatural: Signs of Things to Come is illustrated: "DREAMS FOR SALE: This 18th-century engraving shows a London street peddler with her dream books for sale." We thus learn that dream that you are whistling popular songs denotes that you can't carry even the simplest and easiest tune.

Looking Out For #1, by Robert J. Ringer (author of Winning Through Intimidation), features a cartoon on page 68: the tortoise protagonist is visiting the "People Store", where the people are divided into ROSES (broadly grinning); WEEDS (frowning); and NEUROTICS (making funny faces). The tortoise says to the salesman: "I have two neurotics and a weed in the car. I'd like to trade them in on a couple of roses."

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Gentleman's estate a cultivated farm by whom?

Sick as I am, on Sunday night at work I finished HP2. Last night I read a chapter of The Number System aloud to E, until she fell asleep and I continued to myself. I've in the meantime read fragments of several other books, but nothing I can mention now. I need rest.

I don't know, I've never rowled.

On Friday afternoon I took the G train, though it be by far the least efficient way to get to work, because I wanted to read The Number System and eat a vietnamese sandwich. The NYC subway system is in all the world my favorite space in which to read and think, with its aggressive admixture of public and private noise and silence. I managed to prove the laws of arithmetic from my underground seat, but by the time I walked the short mile from the station to the store (it was very hot) I was feeling rather ill and sorry for myself. I've been suffering from a respiratory infection ever since.

Although I promised myself to wait until I had finished another book before starting HP#2, by late in the evening I was unable to take in anything but take-out and Rowling. One has an awkward tendency to read these books as a substitute for sleeping, as a faint simulacrum of one's own dreams. I woke up (too) early on Saturday to visit the terrible belly of the BEA, stumbling again underground with a copy of Herodotus-- a classic with which to steel my mind against the flash and bang of the horrid new books at the tradeshow. I collected so many freebies and catalogs that I had to take a taxi back to brooklyn.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

(not classed as major)

I read the next 170 pages of HP1 in bed last night, quietly while E slept -- I feel it my professional duty, as the obligatory host of a midnight release party, to get myself genuinely excited in anticipation of the Deathly Hallows, so I am trying to read the first 6 books before July 21. I'd successfully avoided them until yesterday, and had explained to strangers by way of analogy to their own teen jobs: Nobody wants to eat ice cream after scooping all day.

Over coffee this morning I read the introduction to Shakespeare and the Book, by David Scott Kastan. I am excited by the subject, and sympathetic to Kastan's approach, but I think I'll learn more by reading the footnotes (and following the citations) than by reading the actual text.

Jessi brought back the book I've been reading on subways, The Number System by H.A. Thurston, which I left in Kensington on Monday, when I had brunch with her mother, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. It strongly resembles Cortazar's Hopscotch in its structure. She also brought back All Poets Welcome, by Daniel Kane, which she had borrowed from E.

Apparently "Bouwerie" is derived from the dutch word meaning "cultivated farm" or "gentleman's estate".

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is your war a lemon?

I just read pages 12-13 of The June 30th Manifesto*, while thinking about what to blog. Earlier I read the beginning of the first Harry Potter book in the bathroom. I also perused the Official Baseball Guide for 1979 -- pages 120-121, which features the Slugging Leaders for each year in the history of the American League, starting in 1901.

Actually, there is an entry for 1900, but in place of a player's name it says "(Not classed as major)". A picture of "Boston's Jim Rice, 1978 American League Pacesetter" takes up most of page 121. According to Scott Helmes, John Ashcroft's phone number is 202/353-1555.

*compiled by John M. Bennett & Scott Helmes (Luna Bisonte Prods StampPad Press, 2004)