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.