Saturday, July 12, 2003

'In times of peace, there's no need for unofficial recorders.'
--Yuan Haowen (1190-1257)

Poets on the factory model: decide to produce (not poems, but
books of "poetry"), and then try to drum up a market for their
product (this may be the chief sin of the Quietudinous--but not
only theirs...). Who will hold a gun to the head of their pet & ask:
Does this need doing? Who would not be burst like a bubble by
such a question? --Then how much of our art is self-protection
against that actual irrelevance.

I quit eating fast-food not because it gave me indigestion but
because they never would give me exactly what i ordered.

Subtract from philosophy what is merely [Jungian] type-
propaganda, and not much remains except earnest exhortations
and embellishment for the sake of embellishment.

I don't enjoy the struggle of intelligence vs. stupidity. I
can't see it as a game. Therefore i shouldn't choose to play it if
i can avoid so. Never mind "what has to be done". My feelings
of indignation aren't a good guide on this, because though they
keep me aimed with an image of Justice, they would make me try
to reach it by an impossible directness. I must make myself immune
to emotional blackmail even when it comes from me.

None of us is sane, none of us is healthy, none of us is whole--
& the pretence that we are, is not the least of our afflictions.

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow is out!

"Either man is obsolete or war is. " --Buckminster Fuller

Friday, July 11, 2003

   "Nothing Left to Lose"

Don't cry for me Afghanistan.
Our mines bedeck your broken hills;
The new resurgent Taliban
Don't cry. For me, Afghanistan
Remains a dream; no Marshall Plan
Shall ever come to salve those ills.
Don't cry for me. Afghanistan,
Our mines bedeck your broken hills.

07 11 03

If Dubya gets re-elected with a 5% approval rating, we'll
know what happened.

I know it's all over the Internet, but how can i not link to
a space blog?

Peter Gabriel sings a duet with a chimp on his new album.

My Lojban translation of Basho's most famous haiku:

tolcnino lalxu
ke banfi nerplipe ke
liksna jalge .uo

Literally: 'Opposite-new lake kind-of amphibian into-break
kind-of liquid-sound result (completion!).'
Driving into Oak Cliff, where i grew up; & which is
now largely Hispanic. Thinking about Low Riders, & how
their ethic is to drive slow where everybody else drives
as fast as they can get away with. Slowness as a space.
Nobody saw it as such before they took it over for their
own use. Laying claim to the despised signifier. How this
has long been a significant strategy for subcultures. Camp.
But now, just the other day, i saw a mainstream-publisher
book on how to decorate "Fifties style" (for those who can't
afford to buy the real thing). I remember when Fifties kitsch
was cheap because everyone thought it was terrible & stupid;
what they wanted was--oh, Art Deco. I remember when a few of
my friends started collecting it--& also the "easy listening"
music of that time (now immortalized by Re/Search's book on
Exotica)... i myself was (in the early Eighties) ambivalent: i liked
it, but i could bring myself to approve of it intellectually (this
changed). Where was the Irony in all this? Only in the sense of
reverse-valorization; the Whigs of that time never felt condescending
towards their found treasures so it wasn't "camp", nor did they
exactly seek the baddest of the bad, merely the most characteristic.
  Then Retro caught up with them, & it wasn't avant
anymore. (Say, ten years later.) --Later still, we are experiencing the
cultural white-noise of too many style-strategies going off at once,
like firecrackers. Are the Eighties "in"? The Seventies? The McKinley
Era??...When white noise becomes the given (=syncretism). The style
of Empire in a syncretic period appears almost random. To define itself,
Imperial aesthetes adopt what i have called Apodeictic Bogosity--but
compounded with Doublethink. Wrapping oneself in the flag despite the
intellectual bankruptcy of the gesture but so fucking what, we can do
what we want--& then being able to feel like this is a fine & noble gesture.
Look how Classic Rock--which originally was anti-war--is being fused
with "Let's Roll" (Apocalypse Now without the irony). I feel less & less
my commonality with the Boomers, when this is what happens when the
Boomers take control... In such a context, is Classical Music then the con-
trarian mode? (I think of A Clockwork Orange.) What is the new
meaning of contrarian, if one is to escape duality? --What we all have in common,
is less a culture than an infrastructure (Hotmail, Yahoo, Google, cellphones,
cable TV, traffic lights & gasomats). Does the infrastructure have a politics?
  Posthumous Poetics (neo-Alexandrianism): in an effort to trans-
cend the noise of the marketplace, one resorts to "writing English as if it were
a dead language" (as was said, perhaps unfairly, of Pater). This has been tried
before. Callimachus is only read by specialists, but his Roman disciple Catullus
is still esteemed; he benefitted from what might be called "hybrid vigor"--the
merging of the somewhat etiolated Greek traditions, with the turbulent up-&-coming
argot of Empire (often wielded best, by provincials: Catullus was a Celt). --I see
parallels in the phenomenon known as "Bollywood" (also, in a more circumscribed
way, in the mid-Nineties "shibuya-kei" music of Japan). Just as when Country met
Blues & produced Rock, when Indian pop culture demanded home-grown movie
spectacles on the plan of Hollywood musicals, something rich & strange resulted.
(Maybe too: scifi, from technophilia plus Pulps--).
  --Which leads to the poetics of Glimflash (one genre superimposed
on another). Glimflash as signifier...of the logical third?
  The poet at this juncture: a three-legged dog who likes to catch

Thursday, July 10, 2003

If Dylan was going to plagiarize someone, he should’ve
borrowed from Kathy Acker.
Was the decline of poetry in the eighteenth century
partly due to the popularity of coffee? and how about
the "Enlightenment" as a coffee phenomenon among
the intelligentsia?

An age poor in individuals is an age rich in devotees--
which does not make it an "age of faith" to live in
(though afterwards it may be called such): such believers
are faithless to themselves and to each other; that's what
every age of faith is really like.

This continual violent shaking of city life passes for
stability because it makes things easy, relieves a lot of
hard choosing through its robot rounds & routines, but
stability is something else.

Until there is social justice it's no use kvetching about our
personal injustices. But we can still strive to be more just
ourselves. How do you increase your desire to be just? Not
intellectually--by empathy.

More than i want social justice, i want a land where i don't have
to hate.

I'm not interested in making art that's "passable" nowadays
and it annoys me when mine is judged as a failed attempt
at that-- --but my whole life is judged so, too! (e.g. by potential
  This doesn't incline one to objectivity.

My father, now in his seventies, is learning to play the clarinet.
For some reason i am irresistibly reminded of that moment in
Plato where Socrates tells his friends who have come to be with
him on the last day before his execution, that he has had a dream
in which he was told, "Socrates, practice music." And so, that's
what they find him doing when they get there...

"In the video documentary 'Aftermath' i made about the '84
convention protests for cable there's a bit i used over & over like
a leitmotiv of this real blankfaced suited droid riding down the
escalator at the Republic Bank, just as the War Chest Tour gang
swarmed in, & he wasn't reacting at all. Well, the first day i worked
there, i got out by the same escalator & i didn't recognize it till
i arrived at the bottom & looked up. This belongs alongside Goethe's
riding past his old self & the second time he experienced it as the
old man he became...except i have failed to be enlightened...

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

"...for a while the small illuminated stage of 'culture', where
ideas & words could loom large & seem like causes, passed
for the whole scene. Now that's dissolving--to writers it
appears catastrophic--to demagogues perhaps a Godsend--but
nothing in the way humanity creates or resists innovations is
different or will be different. Except for the fact that trivial
twitches on the sleeping face of the Electorate get amplified
into earthquakes by our power to instantaneously respond to
bad dreams. Maybe the best way to focus local power is to
work on attenuating those larger influences. makes me wonder
whether the visceral-reponse democracy we are heading into
will keep pulling energy out of the commonwealth or reach some
point of general distress that historically has always resulted in
great upheavals in the way people live, if not the way they
think. ...even the Reaganoids in Washington & elsewhere cannot
find a world sufficiently sanitized & isolated to maintain their
lifestyle once the roads become impassible--there aren't enough
helicopters. Poetry has turned itself into helicopters for the
minds of another elite...and meanwhile reinvents itself as Rap in
the ghettos. It's not yet as distinct as Latin and the vernaculars
were to become; that means choices made now can influence their
reciprocal evolution. Shall i say "politics" is another such heli-
copter? --that it means one thing to people who own houses and
something else to renters...?

"Our fathers to their graves have gone;
Their strife is past, their triumph won;
But sterner trials wait the race
Which rises in their honored place;
A moral warfare with the crime
And folly of an evil time." --Whittier

The most famous concrete poem.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


It is written in the skyline of the city (you have seen it, that bold and accurate inscription), where the gray and gold and soot-black roofs project against the rising or the setting sun,
It is written in the ranges of the farthest mountains, and written by the lightning bolt,
Written, too, in the winding rivers of the prairies, and in the strangely familiar effigies of the clouds,

That there will be other days and remoter times, by far, than these, still more prodigious people and still less credible events,
When there will be a haze, as there is today, not quite blue and not quite purple, upon the river, a green mist upon the valley below, as now,

And we will build, upon that day, another hope (because these cities are young and strong),
And we will raise another dream (because these hills and fields are rich and green),

And we will fight for all of this again, and if need be again,
And on that day, and in that place, we will try again, and this time we will win.”

--Kenneth Fearing

Nothing should be simpler to keep up than the meshing of
related purposes, like well-used forest paths that don't have to
be recleared everytime somebody uses them. I only have to
count the crossed out lines in my address notebook to see
the likelihood of that. Well, we are gossamer, and if like the
coral-tube worms we contribute to some Great Barrier Reef,
visible from the moon, that's not a part of the tubeworm's
plans. Maybe 'organizations' are obsolete. And networks
--except as the temporary filament sufficient for a contact,
a letter, an image glimpsed for 1/30th of a second... But i
don't know that (true, the Bank has not bought its new
building like all the others before it--they rent). The old
paradigm, of building to last, still troubles me; it must be
too long since i've travelled, for that's like a great wind
sweeping away a lot of clutter & reducing you to essentials--
it helps teach the art of prioritizing, which is worth any
number of megalithic monuments. Having gotten that, further
travel is redundant--turns into a place itself; albeit one without
any particular topography.

"The waste of fine tea through incompetent manipulation
was considered one of the three most deplorable acts in the
world (the other two being false education of youth and
uninformed admirations of fine paintings)." --F R Carpenter
on tea in the Sung Dynasty, quoted in The Signet Book of
Coffee and Tea

"Grammar of five-fold rose and six-fold lily..." --Kathleen Raine

"How many ages since has Virgil writ!
How few are they who understand him yet!" --Roscommon's
essay on translated verse

Monday, July 07, 2003

"Indeed if the worst conceivable situations which our
humanity may have to confront lie beyond the scope of
poetry, then poetry itself is a mere diversion." --Kathleen
Raine, The Inner Journey of the Poet

"You talk like a Rosicrusian, who will love no thing but a
sylph, who does not believe in the existence of a sylph, and
who yet quarrels with the whole universe for not containing
a sylph." --Thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey (1818)

"The wickedness of Cheops reached such a pitch, that being in
want of money, he prostituted his daughter and ordered her to
make a certain sum of money: but I was not told how much. This
she did, and being minded besides secretly to provide for her
own memorial, she demanded of every man that lay with her the
gift of one stone towards it. And of these stones, they say, was
built the midmost of the three pyramids, fronting the great pyra-
mid, whose sides are a hundred and fifty feet long." --Herodotus
Book II.126 (tr Harry Carter 1958)
[This myth illustrates quite clearly, i think, how the common
people feel about the Caesars & Cheopses of this world.

    "--Also we've caught
A poet, a small shrill man like a twilight-bat,
Accused of being a traitor to his country..." --Jeffers, "War-
Guilt Trials"

"Nowadays they call slavery ethos, which was being hooked on
values you had no hand in creating." --Ishmael Reed

"...Americans are, perhaps, after the Albanians, the least humorous
of people..." --Gore Vidal

Someday it will be wondered why the people of this age were
always using sentences with the names of famous persons in them
(even our poetry). As if we could not bear to speak about ourselves
or anyone we knew, but still wanted to improvise on some vestige
of a relationship.

Almost a good idea: Which Book lets you set the parameters, & it
comes up with a suggested book to read--but only from those
published after 1995!

Sunday, July 06, 2003

   "Only Lacan Has The Phallus"

In a streetlight's sphere
close-pent by dark
the rain as it descends
  seems to radiate out
from the eye of the light;
  so all that occurs
in one's mind alone,
accretes to Ego
--that specter made of limitation.

The metaphor of the Spirit. Put your hand out the car
window at 90 mph. Most of the time we don't even know air is
there. The "Spirit" is simply a way of saying this about the
humanness of humans. It's really harmful to posit a separate place
(or mode of existence) where we will (or could be now) always and
necessarily fully human. Because then it becomes politicized--a
collective condition (e.g. why should salvation be the same for any
two persons--the same process or the same language--Christianity
arose when having an identity was rare; that is, when it was poss-
ible to ignore individual differences, or when they were usually sub-
sumed under sectarian names) that obviates the need for individual
effort (the doctrine of Works is almost better, ezcept it too narrowly
defines what work can be)... Gurdjieff'sconcept, however, is restricted
to building an ego. I would like to integrate this into "The Cloud of
Unknowing" (future mindscientists* may measure my folly from this),
for it matters most of all what kind of ego (and egolessness) you make
--or allow for. I think of what a wonderful house my mother's father
built. There was a pit in the garage for working under a car. There was
a receptacle for dog shit so it wouldn't draw flies. There was a foldup
drawing table by the window with the best light. --He just failed to
anticipate the disintegration of society in his plans. It left completely
isolated... --So we construct egos without considering the destruction
of the Spirit

*menli jenai degji fatci as i put it on #lojban recently:
the science of "mental- and not finger-reality".