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.