Saturday, June 28, 2003

Better get working on that novel.
"...his proudest creation: The Six-Day Week. By making each day
twenty-eight hours long, he got in eighteen hours' work and ten
hours' sleep. common-week terms he got up four hours later
every successive day. Of course there were inconveniences."
--Rock Brynner, The Ballad of Habit and Accident (1980)
[As i recall, Feynman used to be on a 26-hr schedule.]

Disillusionment: another illusion. That you're safe...

"It isn't enough to push a pram across the Andes." --V S Naipaul

The basis for the myth of objectivity may be that dissociation
experienced in shock: a homemade heroin daze...

The body as image creates dissociation. Rather,
the body as movement, potential energy, transformative possi-
bilities. Because gesture is at once a sign and expression
of feeling; unambiguous except in isolation, infallible knowledge
and the standard of honesty. --This was before acting
became the basis of normalcy, of course. Now we don't feel into
the existence of others, we try to imagine what we look like in
their eyes. And we blind ourselves to our own gestures as a
result. We lose our expressiveness...

"You know, I don't even like chess, but it is my
living." --grandmaster Lev Alburt in 10/84 Chess Life & Review

"For the vast majority of languages, prose has formed
in the hands of bilinguals." --Punya Sloka Ray

Writing is like wood carving. For, being an evolved matrix,
language has a grain (usage) which resists the artist's
unfettered intentions. Whereas in painting, the only resistance
is mental (preconceptions).

Metaphors to a cat: who pricks up her ears at hearing an
electronic sound--among others she paid no attention to--which
happened to resemble the kind of sound a cat might make.
   Art began with being fooled.

Most of our talk isn't communication, it's reacting. Volleyball.
The topic changes: the ball goes all over the court. You can't let
it stay in one spot too long. It might look like you were going to
run away and steal it.
   Communication: a crime against Democracy.

Not our talking but the work we do together is our
singing. We sing playing volleyball. And the song better not get
too good. Or the ball might drop. --What i have been calling Politics,
is kind of like a matter of arguing--while still singing--what's the
next song; what key it should be in. Contesting scales, degrees of
dissonance. Duelling banjos. --For the last thing we care about, is
doing our work the best we can. (You're Weird.) I always put down
the volleyball game, but (almost without realizing it) i play it and
sometimes play it well. Instead of changing the game i mostly
want to choose those i play it with. --All this synchronizing of
talk, matching vocabularies, it's like, so much practice in case we ever
had a use for it, but we never do, the group remains a team of indiff-
erent singers (and adrenaline addicts) which strenuously resist any
suggestion that you drop the ball but stay here together--as
if you were to say, Everybody get out of their clothes. (Harder even
than --No revelations we can allow, besides ones we've
had time to perfect and verify in media-speak...

"If professors are ever in the vanguard, it will be at a very distant
date." --Sara Teasdale

How many are now joining the New Right, not from conviction,
but for the pleasure of knowing the bully is now on their side?
This is the result of our schooling. This is what could have been
seen a hundred years ago by anyone. Why shouldn't civil
liberties disappear here? America is simply the country that
shouted "Freedom!" till the word went blank.

'It may be that people who do nothing but fall in love are more
serious and holier than those who sacrifice their love and their
hearts to an idea.' --letters of Van Gogh

   "Large Trade Surplus"

Give these eyes to someone who can stand them.

Friday, June 27, 2003

'Great events are perhaps so only for small minds. For more
attentive minds, it is the unnoticed, continual events that
count.' --Valéry


Give me
Even the temperature of wool clothes that covered a manekin.
The lady came from a foreign country, they say.
She is an eternal nymph
Because of being a myth.

Let's not throw away
Even polytheism,
Nor knowledge.
Oh, transcendence of today's midnight!

My breathing.
My song.
Oh, the gentle salt
Of tears!

Let's go in the midnight.
Young painters! Let's go in the midnight.
Impossible images
In the darkness, in the darkness,
In the darkness.
Please stop to check
Whether they really exist
With patience, indeed!

The lady came from a foreign country, they say,
Because of the myth of her brain.
Please make up me
Even with the black dusty colour
That spoiled a manekin!"

--Un Go
[Anyone besides me think this one smells like flarf?]

Jungian Note. To Rational (primary: Thinking or Feeling) types
the world seems to be irrevocably divided along the Irrational
axis (Sensation=Body, vs. Intuition=Spirit), just as to Irrational
types (primary: Intuition or Sensing) the world is divided into
Accident (=Thinking; the Arbitrary) and Order (=Feeling; the
Necessary). These dilemmas remain mutually incomprehensible
insofar as to the other type, those poles are both so strong and
real that they seem on the same plane of existence, a shifting
balance or sliding polarity, that's "obviously" no contradiction.
Reconciling those opposites is childishly simple (as Objective/Sub-
jective has always been for me, not even a deep mystery, a shallow
riddle) and so much perplexity & paradox along their axis is nonsense
or pointless semantic obsession... The corresponding spiritualizing
paths, or processes of discrimination, are askesis and psycho-
analysis. For the other type they don't work & are so much charl-
atanry. Because what they are struggles to clarify and define, to the
alternate types, is like night and day. (And after the separation,
come the corresponding joining processes, Healing and Understan-
ding. --Which is the major work of these type-dominants.)

Unsaying lies begins the possibility of saying truth.
Yes, in casual contacts we mistake which are the lies we no
longer separately believe, as if then that gives us something
in common--but the two of us have not yet unsaid
them together.

Much more important than our eyes' image is our skins'
image of each other. And this may be the substance of
our reality--or lack of it.

I turned on NPR & they were talking to Milton Babbitt. Cool! I
love that early electronic music, what i call Stone Age
Computer Jam
. It was real mad-scientist stuff back in
the early 60' computers! Hollerith cards! And
lots & lots of switchboard wires!

An obscure DeLillo: Amazons by "Cleo Birdwell" (1980) was
apparently written when he was changing publishers, & his name is not
on the book; a bit warmer & more humorous than he allowed himself
in be in other works of that time, it purports to be the autobio of "the
first woman to play hockey for the NHL" & it can sometimes be found
in the sports section at Half Price. I read somewhere when the book
came out, he actually hired an actress to impersonate Cleo for the
book release parties...

Who says Evil never dies? (But the rumors that it was caused by
a certain notable Supreme Court ruling are entirely unsubstantiated.)

Zainab blogs.

I used to use boring postcards because they were cheap. Now
they're cool & i can't afford them anymore.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

  "In Praise of Saddam Hussein

A blatherskite named Michael Weiner
Savagely vilified cleaner
   Departures than his
   From normalcy--whizz
On his noose if you'd boost his demeanor."

--Victor Vermis
[Note: V.V. informs me that this limerick has been created as
part of a group blog-protest, & no offense is meant to the
scat & auto-erotic asphyxiation communities by seeming to
associate them with a rightwing bigot. We hope you will

The idea of time is our consolation for losing the moments
we fail to pay attention to. We say: it's got to go some-

Note on street protests (1984). The streets are no longer
where anybody is, only a way to get to somewhere
else. Not even a place, since pedestrians themselves don't
think in terms of walking, but just like carless drivers. Thus
whatever happens in the streets, is nowhere, can be
nothing. The streets are where you ignore whatever
isn't in your immediate path....As a consequence, there is
no public forum for all the public (only, separate groups
arranged by explicit distinctions and for particular times)
and no sense of awareness as the people. Television
usurps these regions with its artificial homogeneity and
compulsive irrelevance and most of all its totally bogus,
arbitrary authority. Besides that, there's subculture organs
of media which define narrow and narrower points of
view, till one can no longer communicate with any other
except through the empty hieroglyphs of mass imagery--
through advertizing slogans--and nothing but the crudest
emotions (adrenaline on, adrenaline off)...for subtlety
you have to use some specialized argot: a hobby, a job, a
cult, or an addiction.
Postscript 2003. One may now ask: is the Internet
a place? Or is it, perhaps, our nostalgia for a common place,
made manifest?

When i busy myself with postproduction (and caring about what
happens to my work) it's like the island castaway taking his
message-bottle between his teeth & wanting to swim it across
the ocean...There can be no one it's aimed for...
Yet it goes.

"Alas, the penis is such a ridiculous petitioner. It is so unreliable,
though everything depends on it--the world is balanced on it like
a ball on a seal's nose. It is so easily teased, insulted, betrayed,
abandoned; yet it must pretend to be invulnerable, a weapon
which confers magical powers..." --William Gass, reviewing Henry
Miller [--substitute: the Single Discrete Auctorial Voice of the

Ozick on Helen Keller.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"The face of Osama bin Laden morphed into that of Saddam Hussein."
Senator Byrd strikes again!

"Why I'm Not Ashamed to be an American: My America vs. the Empire

In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, John Fogerty of the terrific (if weather-mad) band Creedence Clearwater Revival recalled "feeling this shame just sweep over me...I was terribly ashamed of our country."

He needn't have been, as he soon realized. For Richard Nixon was "not my country. He's those guys--over in Washington. First thing I thought about was the Grand Canyon and my friends and neighbors--and the people all across the country. The people in power aren't my country any more than a bunch of gangsters are my country."

Nor is the Fortunate Son in his fortified bunker on Pennsylvania Avenue my country--or your country, either, unless you are as thin and insubstantial as one of those vapid wraiths hissing of empire on CNN or MSNBC or any of the other alphabetical collisions in our corporate-media soup.

There are two Americas: the televised America, known and hated by the world, and the rest of us. The former is a factitious creation whose strange gods include "Sex and the City," accentless TV anchorpeople, Dick Cheney, Rosie O'Donnell, "Friends," and the Department of Homeland Security. It is real enough--cross it and you'll learn more than you want to know about weapons of mass destruction--but it has no heart, no soul, no connection to the thousand and one real Americas that produced Zora Neale Hurston and Jack Kerouac and Saint Dorothy Day and the Mighty Casey who has struck out.

I am of the other America, the unseen America, the America undreamt of by the foreigners who hate my country without knowing a single thing about it. Ours is a land of volunteer fire departments, of baseball, of wizened spinsters who instead of sitting around whining about their goddamned osteoporosis write and self-publish books on the histories of their little towns, of the farmwives and grain merchants and parsons and drunkards who made their places live.

We are the America that suffers in wartime: we do the dying, the paying of taxes, we supply the million unfortunate sons (and now daughters) who are sent hither and yon in what amounts to a vast government uprooting of the populace. Militarism and empire are the enemies of small-town America, not only because some native sons come home in bodybags but also for the desolating fact that many never come home at all. They are scattered to the winds, sent out--by force or enticement of state--in the great American diaspora, never to return to the places that gave them nurture.

War kills the provinces. It drains them of cultural life as surely as it takes the lives of 18-year-old boys. Almost every healthy, vigorous cultural current of the 1930s, from the flowering of Iowa poetry to North Dakota cornhusking tournaments to the renaissance of Upstate New York fiction, was terminated by U.S. entry into the Second World War. Vietnam, like any drawn-out war or occupation, disrupted normal courtship patterns on the homefront: the difference between republic and empire might be restated as the difference between taking the girl next door to the Sadie Hawkins Dance and paying a Saigon whore in chocolate bars and the Yankee dollar.

Empire focuses our attention on matters distant and remote, affairs to which we are mere spectators. You can care about your backyard or Baghdad; you can't tend to both. Under empire, Madonna replaces our mothers, imperial fantasies straight out of Henry Luce's LIFE erase our lower-case lives, and the wolf at the door is named Blitzer. Only he's not at our door--our doors are too insignificant for such a ravening creature--but on the idiot boxes that broadcast without cease the propaganda of the regime. Facile contemners of President Bush deride him as a "Texas cowboy." If only he were. Alas, President of the World Bush is a deracinated preppie, an Andover yell leader who blamed his first defeat for public office, in a 1978 congressional race, on "provincialism." It seems that the real cowboys were unimpressed by a naughty boarding-school cheerleader who was unable to pronounce correctly the name of the largest city in the district. Young Bush's helpmate, Vice President Cheney of Haliburton, is a man so placeless that once he humbly determined himself to be the most qualified running mate Mr. Bush might have, he had to hop a plane to Wyoming and become an instant citizen of the Equality State so as to avoid violating the pettifogging constitutional clause that effectively prevents President and Vice President from being residents of the same state. Bush and Cheney have no similar constitutional scruples when it comes to honoring Article 1, Section 8 of that forgotten document, which reserves to Congress the right to declare war, but then such hairsplitting is for epicene liberals, not big draft-dodging he-men like George and Dick.

So no, I do not feel "ashamed" of my country, for America, as John Fogerty understood, is not Bush or Cheney or Lieberman or Kerry but my friends, my neighbors, and yes, the Grand Canyon, too. Even better, it is the little canyon and the rude stream and Tom Sawyer's cave and all those places whose names we know, whose myths we have memorized, and whose existence remains quite beyond the ken of the Department of Homeland Security.

Will Rogers, an American of the old school, once said, "America has a great habit of always talking about protecting American Interests in some foreign country. Protect 'em here at Home! There is more American Interests right here than anywhere."

The Men in Grey who rule the televised America won't protect American interests because they have no interest in America. It's up to us provincials. What's it gonna be, fellow hicks: serve the empire or preserve the street where you live?"

(via CounterPunch)

Mountains had steep valleys;
Why are the two dim flags of different colours standing
On the submits of Mt Têbêg with majestic ranges?

Mountains and the river stretched into distant views.
In the valleys where the dear mother-tongue encircled
Is viewed a watch-box of strange alien soldiers.

Both with bloody eye-balls
In the village where terrors quietly screened by walls,
The river was flowing with abysses.

Only there were inevitable compromises between lines and lines,
Yet they were not obstacles set up in reality.
In front of passionate eyeballs and decorated joy,
Sun-flowers stretched along the luxurious rails of the sun
Even in this area where controversial warnings brooded.

From the day when the gun-smoke flamed there dimly,
And the roaring of guns resounded in my tiny heart,
The spot was really an alien space to me.

The line was an unexpected demarcation,
Called a boundary line; the area of indignation,
Where the human history challenges against me."

--Yong-tê Gwôn

Nowadays a "generation" is (1984) about 5 years: as defined
by the minimum age difference necessary to render the music
of one stratum unintelligible to another. I'm not kidding:
this is a matter of languages, for those who have no need or
knowledge of formal English. To be young and without a music
...who could endure it? who has tried to? The best of us learn
several, like polyglots, and achieve a degree of cosmopolitan
skepticism about genres--but to do without any, that is a poss-
ibility which demarcates the real desperados from the poseurs...
without music, you create more consciousness continually,
though it might seldom achieve self-awareness; you make up names
for the things you feel and otherwise might only have correlated
to groups or songs. I don't say: Silence. It takes maybe years of
music withdrawal to merely conceive of Silence, I'm beginning to
realize. At first you hear the static of your momentarily disconnected
channel......And this goes for images as much as for music; moreso,
because we trace out images where we don't think of music (we then
are just impatient to be listening to it)--our whole culture is a kind
of semi-collectivized, semi-personalized hallucination stream--i try
to imagine having my eyes replaced with radar, or

"As a space, the present has been oversold." -- William Gass

Insomnia is the first distance; and all distances--are degrees
of insomnia. Tinctures. Ink.

It's not enough to dedicate myself to the future that should
have been

Loving without being loved is a miracle of levitation--a horrible miracle.

Revenge. Murphy's Laws: a revenge that didn't work. The motives
of revenge and of excellence are the same; only with one, transcen-
dence is an evasion (the need for confrontation) & the other it's
the solution. Thus the pressure of society against individuals
produces crime and art. We cannot know what an art without
society would be like.

"The poet struggles to keep his words from saying something,
although, like the carrot, they want to go to seed." --Gass

Long Bets--a great idea, but you have to have money behind your
prediction. Which sucks--how many prophets are also successful
capitalists? You can have my prediction for free: The Chinese will
colonize the Moon.

There's no "litmus test for poetry", of course, but i always think
of that anecdote from classical antiquity wherein someone hears
a poem, & asks that it be repeated over & over, "so I won't die
without having memorized that poem". --In an age of mechanical
reproduction, one can devise a hierarchy: poems you'd buy the
book for new...poems you'd check out the book from a library to
xox...maybe even: poems you'd copy out by hand (i remember
typing out all the Rubaiyat for myself, once upon a time). Nowadays
you more often see this passion in song collectors. And
such. --Would you buy that poem on eBay?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

"As darkness is mined and transported from place to place
like marble, so the light bulb is the chisel that delivers it
from its inertia..." --Gravity's Rainbow

I can still shock people by telling what i really believe,
that our Utopia isn't 50 years off, but more like 500 or
5000 (or 50,000)--is it not peculiar, how our daily conduct
hinges on eschatology?

   "DO. BUT DO."

Gray of mock
is dirt shoved over
the still active coals
and i walk without thinking
of where
i find myself ever
returning to fire and desire
key's in the lock.
Lemmings are running
and i have some duty
that drags me along
In spite of my knowledge
i can't quite resign
from this place and my race
for leaving
is also

11 10 84

I learn more about America from a long bus trip than from
years of living in one place.

Our image of violence is that it escapes causality whereas
it actually relinquishes our only freedom from causality--detachment.

"Khaki Hamlets don't hesitate to shoot." --Ulysses

'The real vertigo is the absence of madness.' --Cioran, The Fall into
(1960, tr R Howard)

'After a long intimacy with doubt, you come to a particular form of pride:
you do not believe that you are more gifted than others, you merely
believe you are less naïve.' --ibid
"Snow warred on the El's world in the blank snow" --Lowell

Seven Eleven,
yard workers stop in early;
i get my paper.

Both checkers try their Spanish:
one Indian, one Anglo.

Even Marilyn Manson is scared of Otep. (Is this
like Henry Kissinger saying Rumsfeld scares him?--which he did.)

When Hal Clement devised his planet Mesklin after the discovered wobble
at the star 61 Cygni* indicated one that size might exist, he chose for novelistic
purposes to make it a solid body--larger than Jupiter--instead of (as he doubtless
knew) the gas giant it probably had to be. I want to write about an imaginary
satellite of the 70 Virginis planet, only at the nearer inaccurate distance it was
first described to be, even though it is my own disproof that such a temperate
world can be there. THIS--is my PoMo twist. But for all the rest, i want to follow
scientific probability exactly.

*which is now also a band & an object of Bible-Code bloviation.

Monday, June 23, 2003

A good article on the history of propaganda in America. (via Metafilter)

I used to be interested in micronations like CyberYugoslavia; & thought oneday they might
replace real nations.

It's kind of an emblematic situation: Gioia at the NEA (while it
yet lasts--), & off in the hills, like a Ho Chi Minh of Cyberspace:
Silliman's Blog. Pope & Anti-Pope (oh, i thot Marjorie Perloff
was the LangPope?). --Naah (though it would be nice to be at
least a LangCardinal, i admit--). Blogs are more like the old literary
salons, except you can't see who's in your living room & the
refreshments are strictly metaphorical. We aren't so much busy
drawing up canons & lists of ex(non)communicates, as trying
each to map our own bewilderment. Blogging is poetry waged
by other means. I respect anyone who's read something i
haven't. Nevertheless...when Swinburne died, the young
Yeats is reported to have cried out, "Now I am King of the Cats!"
Robert Lowell, for whatever good it does him now, was King of
the Cats. I rather think today's King of the Cats is going to turn
out to be someone we've never heard of, probably off on the
fringes of the English-speaking world right now; & i don't
mean myself (although as a joke, i plan to try Yeats's line &
a sky-kick when Cohen dies--& i hope that's not anytime soon).
I only mean to figure in that late 20c anthology: among the 10
million minor poets.

"...The broken glass in the corner,
even though you cut your foot upon it,
seems only a moment of confused sunlight
in a room without windows." --William Virgil Davis

"...and at dawn
The small-mouth bass breaks water, gorged with spawn." --Robert Lowell

"The apothecaries have Books of Gold, whose leaves, being opened, are so
light that they are subject to be shaken with the least breath; yet, rightly
handled, they serve both ornament and use." --Thomas Campion

'So thick the confusion,
Even the cowards were brave.' --Archilochos, fragm 281, tr Guy Davenport

"An ambiguous situation arises when poems are read for reasons other than
those for which they were written..." --Laura Riding, 1938 preface

"Everything possible to be believed is an image of the truth."--William Blake

Sunday, June 22, 2003


     His Prayer To The Powers Of This World

All those years that you ate and changed
And grew under my picture
You saw nothing
It was only when I began to appear
That you said I must vanish

What could I do I thought things were real
Cruel and wise
And came and went in their names
I thought I would wait I was shrewder but you
Were dealing in something else

You were always embarassed by what fed you
And made distances faster
Than you destroyed them
It bewitched my dreams
Like magazines I took out with the sheep
That helped to empty the hours
I tried to despise you for what you did not
Need to be able to do
If I could do it
Maybe I could have done without you

My contempt for you
You named ignorance and my admiration for you
When they were among the few things we had in common
Your trash and your poses were what I most appreciated
Just as you did

And the way you were free
Of me
But I fought in your wars
The way you could decide that things were not
And they died
The way you had reasons
Good enough for your time

When God was dying you bought him out
As you were in a position to do
Coming in the pale car through the mud and fresh dung
Unable to find the place though you had been there
Once at least before
Like the doctor
Without a moment to lose
I was somewhere
In the bargain

I was used to standing in the shade of the sky
A survivor
I had nothing you
Could use

I am taking my hands
Into the cleft wood assembled
In dry corners of abandoned barns
Beams being saved
For nothing broken doors pieces of carts
Other shadows have gone in there and
On hewn feet I follow the hopes of the owls
For a time I will
Drift down from the tool scars in a fine dust
Noticeably before rain in summer
And at the time of the first thaws
And at the sound of your frequent explosions
And when the roofs
Fall it will be a long while
Since anyone could still believe in me
Any more than if I were one of the

It was you
That made the future
It was yours to take away
I see
Oh thousand gods
Only you are real
It is my shame that you did not
Make me
I am bringing up my children to be you”

W S Merwin, The Lice (1967)

   ”A Colloid of Gas & Plasma”

  In the days of huge cars
Our unprotected eyes
Could see fathoms of miracles
And all the great teachers

  When all the skalds scolded
This king a dwarf among dwarves

  They thought, surely it will burn off now
But the fog only thickened

Here comes the silverfish solo

4 13 01
   ”Spontaneous Remission”

A small foreign car exploded. The next day the problems began.
The earth stood quite still under my feet. And in my head the
revolution began in earnest. I got up to watch the sun rise, but I
had to end up spinning the ship. Will I stop? No. Will it be painful?
Yes. What should I want instead. You tell me nothing. The same
old jokes. The back of my head is the front of my head. Have you
no ambiition? Expires on birth date. How many minds have you
lost? 2 crutches embrace. Why so much protection? You see how
you’ve been brainwashed. This is not a planet. & the universe is a
most infinite place/ that you won’t, you can’t possibly span. The
accident was a godsend. I never did care for you anyway it was only
a symbol it was always myself that I loved. The walls are still holding.
There’s vomit all over the walls. Leaving it to you to prove & refine it.
The dancers whirl, blur before my eyes, fade quite out. Who ever
reads the Leader’s book to its end?

--from Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds (1984)