Thursday, December 11, 2008

"a homonym ... within a planet"

a homonym that must / be a criteria / talking for him,” thereby colluding / all bananas belonging to the class / we saw in Chapter 1. Each flower / held within a planet’


But his words seem to us cryptic, and their meaning has hardly survived. What he appears to say is this: ‘The Muses, who love country life, have granted to Virgil delicacy and graceful charm.’ It is possible that this is a piece of semi-technical literary criticism, intending to ascribe to Virgil’s rural poetry those qualities which are the opposite of heroic or pretentious.

1226. Rhymeless (anti-authoritarian : compare Whitman). On the fear of the atom Bomb, the castratory nature of which is popularly perceived only as fear of “sterilization” after-effects. Compare the classic womb-return fantasy, with the incestuous element boldly prominent, in “The Wish” by the Earl of Rochester (d. 1680) :

Oh, that I now cou’d by some Chymick Art
To Sperm convert my Vitals and my Heart,
That in one thrust I might my Soul translate,
And in the Womb my self regenerate :
There steep’d in Lust, nine months I wou’d remain,
Then boldly fuck my Passage out again.

1230. Joke, about married men on a hunting trip, none of whom could get to sleep until the guide gave each of them a hairbrush to hold.

After a few minutes each actor finds that the comic mask is stuck. S/he cannot remove it no matter how hard s/he tries. S/he is fixed permanently with the smiling face of the comic mask, and the internal despair of the trapped mask-maker.

The principle here is that you can recreate the appropriate muscular tension and, in finding the shape of the body or facial muscles and related breathing states, emotion becomes apparent. You are internally passive and externally active, focusing only on the doing of the task.

Especially among Euro-Americans, there is a tendency to reduce a complex physical-verbal-musical phenomenon to the merely verbal. Thus, the Shout is often discussed as a kind of folk song. And the same reduction has been worked on rap, where the dance components of the form are almost always ignored in favor of the verbal.41


At the end of the 1960s, popular music was developing at a remarkable rate. Yet, dance per se was not the focus of forms such as psychedelic music, heavy metal, and art rock. Increasingly, songs about dances became not merely wannabe dances, but conceptual dance instruction songs – songs about dances that did not exist.

But when I continued to insist that I was innocent, he suddenly leaped up and, pointing to the can of sardines, asked:

“And what does that mean?”

“Nothing,” I replied, nonplussed.

“We shall see. Remove this provocateur!” he shouted.

With that the interrogation was concluded.


1 - Michael Grant, Roman Literature. Pelican Books (Harmondsworth), 1958.
2 - G. Legman, ed., The Limerick: 1700 Examples, with Notes, Variants and Index. Bell Publishing Company (NYC), 1969.
3 - Dymphna Callery, Through The Body: A Practical Guide to Physical Theatre. Nick Hern Books (London), 2001.
4 - Sally Banes and John F. Szwed, From "Messin' Around" to "Funky Western Civilization": The Rise and Fall of Dance Instruction Songs, from Thomas F. Defrantz, ed., Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance. University of Wisconsin Press (Madison), 2002.
5 - Stanislaw Lem (tr. Michael Kandel), The Star Diaries. Harcourt (NYC), 1985.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

pretext. He himself declared, as we

One is thus inaugurating another word, in sum, a homonym that must be put forward cautiously between quotation marks. Another word-concept is thus staged whose event one causes to come about.”16

Whereas Sontag concerns herself with how quotation marks make camp, or camp the quotidian, Marjorie Garber, in her essay “ “ ” (Quotation Marks),” highlights authenticity as a central problem for quotation. Garber notes that “paradoxically … quotation marks, when either written or spoken, can convey both absolute authenticity and veracity, on the one hand, and suspected inauthenticity, irony or doubt, on the other.” 17

The crowd to her, so
many marks




“Fabulous, fabulous”


If smoothness is to be a criteria
Then you’re definitely inferior

The researchers quoted prominent jazz critics, such as Barry Ulanov, in support of the thesis that the musicians’ supposed lack of training in moral philosophy and the liberal arts contributed to their “immaturity and disorganization.”4 Moreover, displaying extreme naivete concerning black musicians’ access to white media, the two scholars maintain that the jazz musician was “relatively illiterate in respect to the verbal expression of his own art … the musician has remained silent and allowed others to do the talking for him,” thereby colluding in his own isolation from the world.

Up until then, everything had been for me one of a kind. I could not conceive of different examples of the same thing existing simultaneously in more than one place at once. Thus in my dream, all bananas belonging to the class of bananas had had to be contiguous. Bananas existed at my behest and without that there could be no place for them. Annie Sullivan expresses concern in one of her letters about my number obsession:
June 12, 1887
I am teaching Helen the square hand letters as a sort of diversion. It gives her something to do, and keeps her quiet, which is desirable while this enervating weather lasts.

Zygogynum trees produce many flower buds, but only a few open each day. Consequently one small tree may remain in flower for months, despite the fact that each blossom lives no more than two days. This is a common flowering strategy of many tropical trees, as we saw in chapter 1. Each flower usually has two rings of stiff petals. The petals of some species have a pinkish tinge while others are yellowish-orange or a deep burgundy.

The pollen-making stamens and seed-making carpels live together in the same Zygogynum flower, but they mature at different times…. By isolating the sexual organs from each other in this way, Zygogynum trees avoid accidental self-pollination.

In the 1920s, Blue Tit birds in Southhampton learned to tear the tops off milk bottles and drink the cream inside. Soon, Blue Tit birds more than a hundred miles away were exhibiting the talent -- even though the birds rarely flew more than fifteen miles -- and by 1947, the habit was universal among the species. This owed to morphic resonance, a collective memory held within a planet’s morphogenetic field, and passed on to each new generation of life. The same effect was witnessed in monkey creatures four million years in the future, on the planet Endarra.814


1 - Jennifer DeVere Brody, Punctuation: Art, Politics, and Play. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

2 - Charles Bernstein, The Sophist. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1987.

3 - George E. Lewis, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

4 - Madeline Gins, Helen Keller or Arakawa. Santa Fe: Burning Books, 1994.

5 - Peter Bernhardt, Wily Violets and Underground Orchids: Revelations of a Botanist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

6 - Lance Parkin, Ahistory: An Unauthorized History of the Doctor Who Universe (2nd Edition). Des Moines IA: Mad Norwegian Press, 2007.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You mustn't forget about spiders.

“Garrett, let’s hear from you.”

“Well,” Garrett said, but declined to elaborate.

“They keep the money,” Rondo reminded them, “in banks.”

“Listen, guys,” the Bear began.

“Don’t say. A fucking. Thing,” Hatwell warned him.

The Bear deferred, and they drank some so-called beers.

The logical response was to substitute other forms of international liquidity. The problem to which this was a solution was not a global liquidity shortage but the need to substitute a new reserve asset for the dollar in order to prevent the process described by Triffin from destabilizing the Bretton Woods system. As mentioned above, this was favored by weak-currency countries and opposed by their strong-currency counterparts. Discussions were complicated by the fact that the dollar was both weak and strong.

Those words kept going through my head, and I just kept on walking. That man sort of followed me, shouting that he needed directions. Finally, the man yelled, “What are you, deaf?!” And I stopped, and I just gave him the directions, and that’s all he wanted, after all. But I was scared to death of him!

After the first day, one of his fellow smugglers suggested he get a fishing rod and pretend to be fishing so as not to arouse suspicion. Muscles went to a sporting goods store, bought seventeen rods and assorted tackle, and returned to the pier. He sat there for hours, trying to figure out how to put everything together.

After two months of struggle, I concluded that I could not solve these problems. It seemed it was in part because of the terrible privations of postwar life. Soon, however, I made some lucky discoveries: it was not the result of my limitations that I could not solve these problems; they are unsolvable! For various reasons, which I no longer remember, my conviction grew.

This doesn’t mean that for Menocchio the book was incidental, or a pretext. He himself declared, as we shall see, that at least one book had moved him deeply, encouraging him to think new thoughts by its startling assertions. It was the encounter between the printed page and the oral culture, of which he was one embodiment, that led Menocchio to formulate -- first for himself, later for his fellow villagers, and finally for the judges -- the “opinions … [that] came out of his head.”

Have you ever tried such a thing? I have, and it’s impossible, something only a few natural writers or journalists can do, be talking about politics, for example, and at the same time writing a little article on gardening or spondaic hexameters (which I can tell you, boys, are a rare phenomenon.) And that was how she spent her days at the general’s office, and when she had finished her work, sometimes quite late at night, she would say goodbye to everyone, gather up her things, and leave on her own.


1 - Rafi Zabor, The Bear Comes Home. WW Norton (NY) 1998.
2 - Barry Eichengreen, Globalizing Capital: A History Of The International Monetary System. Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ) 1996.
3 - Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years. Dell (NY) 1994.
4 - “Roy Graham”, COWBOY MAFIA: The Finest Story in True-Crime History. Roy Graham 2000.
5 - Mariko Yasugi and Nicholas Passell, Memoirs of a Proof Theorist: Godel And Other Logicians. World Scientific Publishing (Singapore) 2003.
6 - Carlo Ginsburg (tr. John and Anne Tedeschi), The Cheese And The Worms: The Cosmos Of A Sixteenth Century Miller. Penguin (NY) 1982.
7 - Roberto Bolano (tr. Natasha Wimmer), The Savage Detectives. Picador (NY) 2008.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Knowledge of these conditions cannot begin too early.

Indeed, it seems to me that the art of our country has for many years past been introduced to the public of Europe and America in all sorts of ways, and hundreds of books have appeared in several foreign languages; but I have been privately alarmed for the reason that a great many such books contain either superficial observations made during sightseeing sojourns of six months or a year in our country or are but hasty commentaries, compilations, extracts or references, chosen here and there from other volumes.

The masks represent the Himalayan atmosphere of awe-inspiring mighty peaks and deep-sounding river gorges, of eerie rustlings of haunted forest leaves in the valleys and desert-like mirages appearing among the giant mountain landscapes. When the cult of the Devi captured the people’s imagination, and more and more temples were erected in almost every hamlet, these masks were in great demand because the local temples which could not afford to commission a complete idol of the goddess could still do her honour through such symbols. With the passage of time, the practice became a custom so that even when the temples were more prosperous and their imagery more resplendent, masks still occupied the principal altar – and were no longer made of wood or clay, as in the past, but cast or beaten in metals such as copper, silver and even gold.

We admire their terracotta colour, at the same time as our incurable anthropomorphism leads us to classify them as repugnant, disgusting, slimy and other equally unjust epithets. Actually, they’re very beautiful slugs, with a smooth and shiny front part followed by a dorsal section that looks like the work of Piza, our friend the Brazilian painter, I mean a surface filled with little gathers and grooves that look hand-made, although it’s hard to imagine a hand working on a slug, and much less Piza’s. As is their custom, this cohort of slugs advance millimetre by millimetre, giving the clear impression they’re not going anywhere, except where pedestrians and vehicles will irrefutably crush them; but we’re falling back onto anthropomorphism because slugs know better than us why they leave their woodland shelters and make their entrance into the rest area, although it might also be ingenuous to imagine themselves so sure of themselves, poor little things.

“You mustn’t forget about spiders,” Carol reminds me after I’ve consulted her regarding certain details about slugs in Canada.

“I’m inclined to think he does,” said I; and Fritz, who had been by my side, dropped respectfully behind.


If I were to detail the ordinary events of my daily life at the time, they might prove instructive to people who are not familiar with the inside of palaces; if I revealed some of the secrets I learnt, they might prove of interest to the statesmen of Europe. I intend to do neither of these things.

“How do you account for what my father saw and heard there?” asked Leo.

“Coincidence. No doubt there are bluffs on the coast of Africa that look something like a man’s head, and plenty of people who speak bastard Arabic. Also, I believe that there are lots of swamps. Another thing is, Leo, and I am sorry to say it, but I do not believe that your poor father was quite right when he wrote that letter.

Since his map is not a descriptive, but an analytical and selective representation of Istanbul, it certainly reflects the city vision or concept of the 16th century Ottoman intellectual such as Matrak├ži Nasuh, who was a typically educated Ottoman military man. He wrote books on history and on mathematics and he was a calligrapher and a painter. Before carrying out any analysis, however, we have to remember that there are rules imposed by the size of the pages, by the nature of the miniature painting itself, such as the lack of perspective, a lack of realism in depicting the correct shape of the site and the almost total absence of motivation for a representation of the third dimension.

The most remarkable characteristic of Matrak├ži’s map is the absence of roads, streets and open public places. His map is directionless.

1 - Henry P. Bowie, with prefatory remarks by Iwaya Sazanami and Hirai Kinza, ON THE LAWS OF JAPANESE PAINTING, Dover (NY) 1952
2 - Madanjeet Singh, HIMALAYAN ART, Macmillan (NY) 1971
3 - Julio Cortazar & Carol Dunlop, tr. Anne McLean, AUTONAUTS OF THE COSMOROUTE, Archipelago (Brooklyn) 2007
4 - Anthony Hope, PRISONER OF ZENDA, Penguin (NY) 2007
5 - H. Rider Haggard, SHE, Penguin (NY) 2007
6 - Dogan Kuban, ISTANBUL AN URBAN HISTORY, The Economic And Social History Foundation of Turkey (Istanbul) 1996