Saturday, August 30, 2003

Between languages: Yvan Goll.

A well-made site on art & the Holocaust.

"One reason that I have travelled more than you is
that I do not have a car. A car is not a travel machine,
it's a repetition machine." --Momus (his account, with
pics, of the blackout)

By the time they start putting tiny broadcast chips in your
consumer products, you'll be able to buy a chip to block them.
Ah, capitalism! (via Plastic)

Spanish has its Pig Latin too: it's called jerigonza.

"Now, areas are identified as “the one with the crater
where the missile exploded”, or “the street with the
ravaged houses”, or “the little house next to that one
where that family was killed”. --Riverbendblog

Compare your standard of living with other cities in the U.S.

   "The Difference
by Steven Jesse Bernstein
(from the book More Noise Please!)

There are poets stuck
to the underside of the chair
by their fingers. If you
give them string they will
put it in their mouth and
it will come out sticky.
That is as close to being
spiders as they can get.
And, there are bugs
under my fingers, bouncing
them across the keys
like Mexican jumping beans.
That's as close to being
a poet as I can get.
The difference between me
and most insects is that I approach
the truly sexless, while
they approach the truly heartless.
The difference between
me and most poets
is I am really a spider."

[Bernstein had died just before i moved to Seattle, & i
went to a tribute reading for him without knowing who
he was.]

"Over the past 30 years the productivity of the people whose
brain and muscle creates the wealth of the world's richest nation
has grown by 66 percent. But the wage of the typical employee
– the median wage – has grown by only 7 percent." --Mark
(via Wood's Lot)
Beware of cultivating your monstrousness, O
comprachicos; do you know how much love it takes to
pull that off?

'In this growth of landscape-art into a slow transform-
ation of the world into landscape, there is a long human
development. The content of these pictures, resulting
so unintentionally from observation and work, speaks
to us of a future that has begun in our own time: tells
us that man is no longer the social entity, moving with
poise among his like, nor is he any longer one for whom
evening and morning, for whom proximity and distance
exist. It tells us, that he is placed amongst things like
a thing, infinitely alone, and that all which is common to
them both has been drawn from things and men into the
common depth where the roots of all growth drink.'
--Rilke (1902), Where Silence Reigns tr G C Houston

Playing music for other musicians/ music for nonmusicians.
But: there are no magic tricks for other magicians! So art
has a tendency toward illusionism that goes unchecked
when its culture no longer cultivates.

What is it that's so difficult? To talk about each sick
person--and not the Plague.

I want no great art if that only means to be the tree for
a great monkey.

But what kind of degradation has not become an

Turin compares a perfume he reviews to Bizet's Symphony in C.
I just had to check it out, & while it didn't blow me away, the
second movement has a brooding delicacy that is quite charming.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Melanie reviews:
" The following is my mass e-mail review of the screenplay for the current Miramax release, The Battle of Shaker Heights. To refresh, Shaker is the end product of this year¹s current Project Greenlight, the scriptwriting contest sponsored by Miramax, HBO, and Oscar winning actor-writers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (who collectively won the Best Original Screenplay award for Miramax¹s 1997 release Good Will Hunting, in which Affleck played second banana to Damon¹s title character). Anyway, Project Greenlight was initiated about two years ago to encourage aspiring (struggling, waiting to be discovered) screenwriters. In its second go-round the contest, in which all entries are submitted and judged online, was expanded to include as of yet untested directors, who were asked to submit micro-short films for consideration. The catch with Project Greenlight is, as anybody who regularly watches HBO already knows, is that besides a guaranteed one shot movie deal (w/ a modest 2 million dollar budget), the winning writers and directors must submit to Big Brother type treatment (via HBO¹s omnipresent cameras) during the production of their debut effort . The idea seems to be that the normal frustations of making a movie, let alone one with such a modest budget and hurried shooting schedule (approximately three weeks) make for mighty entertaining tv viewing when the focus is on the inexperienced talent behind the camera. Whereas the first season of Project Greenlight highlighted the seeming ineptitude of writer-director Pete Jones (whose film was titled Stolen Summer), the ante was upped in the recently concluded season by pitting a pair of directors (the team of Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle) against a single writer, Erica Beeney; the three of them, remember, all newcomers to the wonderful world of feature film production.

It is true I entered my script, Learning Meredith, in last fall¹s PGL competition, but let me be perfectly frank: I never wanted to win. Life is humiliating enough without going on tv and essentially being set-up to look like a jack-ass, or worse. All I wanted, all I expected, from Project Greenlight was constructive, informed criticism from my peers; all scriptwriting participants were required to read and evaluate at least four screenplays and a minimum of two short films (likewise, we were guaranteed our script would be rated by at least four of our peers). I thought some of the comments about my screenplay were well intended, but a lot of the responses were laughable because they were so contradictory (example: none of my peer reviewers could list a single movie my script reminded them of--a question clearly designed to gauge marketability--while my scores for originality were only middling).

Anyway, I do not have HBO so I have not seen a single episode of PGL, round 2, (The Making of The Battle of Shaker Heights) which has been a big summetime hit for the premium cable network; however, I have read plenty about the shennanigans the directors pulled, not to mention the frustrations of veterans Chris Moore, producer, and Richard Nord, the Oscar nominated film editor of 1993¹s The Fugitive. Directors Rankin and Potelle apparently underminded Beeney by writing new scenes without her knowledge. Producer Moore has called the directors a number of names too colorful to repeat, and Nord has said trying to edit the film, which fared poorly with test audiences, is/was like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. Hardly a vote of confidence, though, to be fair, not all the blame can be laid on the two directors who, as per the PGL rules, have no control over the final edit. Meanwhile, the tv show is itself assembled to make sure everyone comes across as bad (evil, dense, or both--you name it) as possible. That¹s a given. On the other hand, Rankin and Potelle haven¹t done themselves any favors in the intelligence department, either. In a recent Dallas Observer interview Rankin referred to Emmy winning actress Camryn Manheim (The Practice), who auditioned for a role in Shaker, as Catherine Manheim.

But what about the final result? I was shocked to read that the completed Battle of Shaker Heights runs only a scant 73 minutes, not including credits. Whoa! 73 minutes! That¹s only an hour and thirteen minutes. I went to the PGL website to look at Beeney¹s winning screenplay and found that it was 119 pages long. If you consider the standard one page of screenplay equals one minute of screentime, you have to wonder what the heck happened to Beeney¹s original vision for Shaker Heights. Apparently somewhere along the way to completion 46 minutes of Shaker Heights was discarded, and for a movie that should have been just one minute shy of two hours (a perfectly respectable length), 46 minutes is a significant chunk, easily almost half. With that in mind, I decided to read Beeney¹s script so I could compare it to the actual film at a later date.

The Battle of Shaker Heights tells the story of a high school senior, a smart aleck misft, named Kelly who spends his free-time reenacting famous WWII battles; we¹re also to understand, as per the script, that this young man is more qualified to teach history than his teacher. Our hero has a messy, downscale, home life: his mother, a once promising artist, now employs an assembly line to manufacture pieces for ³starving artist² shows and the like; the boy¹s father is a reformed druggie now devoted to helping others less fortunate than himself. Kelly¹s life changes when, at one of his war events, he meets and befriends a rich kid, a private school type from an affluent, seemingly perfect family (with the possible exception of a dad who¹s just a shade uncaring, or remote). Moreover, the rich kid has an older sister named Tabby (???) upon whom Kelly develops a crush, even though he knows full well she¹s engaged to be married. That¹s the basic set-up, and it¹s a fine one, although in many ways it¹s not too terribly different from last year¹s Stolen Summer. Both movies are boy coming of age stories and, more specifically, both are fueled by the friendship that develops between boys (or, okay, young men) from opposing backgrounds. In the case of Stolen Summer, a Catholic boy befriends the terminally ill son of a rabbi. I didn¹t hate Beeney¹s screenplay for The Battle of Shaker Heights--she clearly has some screenwriting savvy, almost too much at times (I could only take so much of her editorializing about the onscreen action...very much telling, rather than showing). She also has a keen ear for dialogue--and good for her. I will go so far as to say that in many ways, the script was better written than most anything I read during the first round of judging. Some of the scripts, nevermind essentials like basic storytelling and dialogue, were poorly formatted and gramatically suspect. Beeny¹s script has only a few such lapses. Still, in spite of all that is good and right with the script, the story itself is slight--119 pages of generally well-written nothing--and some of the turns of plot seem entirely arbitrary, melodramatic, even, whereas the action should at least seem to flow organically from the characters. Most of time, absolutely nothing seems at stake. The war reeactment stuff forms the basis of a sequence that seems almost premature; after that, the idea goes nowhere. That said, the writer has come up with an interesting lead character; interesting in the abstract, that is; a tad sketchy (inconsistent, all over the map), perhaps, but one with plenty of potential in the hands of the right actor, and by all accounts, Shia LaBeouf, of Disney¹s springtime hit Holes (and the cable series Even Stevens, also from Disney), is well up to the challenge of connecting the dots in Beeny¹s script (so that Kelly seems more a creature of deep, contradictory impulses instead of an assortment of writer¹s whims). Some early reviews have even compared LaBeouf to a young Dustin Hoffman. The character of Kelly¹s mother might also turn out to be interesting in the hands of the capable Kathleen Quinlan (an Oscar nominee for 1995¹s Apollo 13).

Finally, perhaps Beeny¹s biggest selling point, the thing that made her script so attractive to the contest¹s judges, is its relative simplicity--a few basic settings, maybe only a dozen speaking parts, and, again, the war stuff is kept to a minimum, although it¹s a great hook.

Apparently Beeny, who reportedly has signed a deal with Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd, has waffled all over the place in her estimation of the finished film. I know I¹m definitely curious to see how a 119 page script can be whittled down to a satisfying--coherent--73 minute film. What¹s the point? Stolen Summer made less than a million dollars at the box office last year. Shocking, in light of all that built-in publicity (and a praiseworthy performance by Kevin Pollack as the terminally ill boy's rabbi-dad). Can a movie as seemingly butchered as Shaker Heights be expected to fare better, on its own cinematic terms, that is, and not as an extension of a curious prank?


More about LaBeouf. Shia LaBeouf, by the way, is of Jewish and French (Cajun?) descent. He has joked that his name, the first part of which reportedly rhymes with ³Hi ya,² actually translates as ³Thank God for the Beef.² Funny boy. Besides Shaker and Holes he has also been seen in some of this past summer¹s biggest duds: Charlie¹s Angels Full Throttle and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd."
"A caged community of chimpanzees reacts very
sensitively if a member of the tribe has received
LSD. Even though no changes appear in this
single animal, the whole cage gets in an uproar
because the LSD chimpanzee no longer observes
the law of its finely coordinated hierarchic tribal
order." --Albert Hofmann, LSD: My Problem

"Until the late eighteenth century there was no
history of art, only the lives of artists." -Jacques
Barzun, The Use and Abuse of Art (1973)

The thinking type says; There is no evil but error. Find out!
The feeling type says: There is no evil but unhappiness.
Love every thing!
The sensation type says: There is no evil but pain. Do what
feels good!
The intuitive type says: There is no evil but being lost. Get
   --But who ever has suspected that
there might be more than one ill, & one remedy?

The mark of a barbarian is clumsiness. What passes for culture
today is the strenuous simulation of a few smooth moves.

"The stars are only a gleaming leprosy in the sky" --Hegel,
quoted by Heine in Kaufmann's Nietzsche

For a thinking person violence is the ultimate banality, and all
banality seems to some degree an act of violence.

Art is wasted on those who have to decide right away "it works"
or "it doesn't work"; you have to be willing to be bored before you
can begin to get interested.

The star, Maïr, shines in the sky above me--
   The star, Maïr.
A world is lighted by this star so lovely,
   So far from home.

The land, Oilay, floats on the waves of ether--
   The land, Oilay.
The glittering light of Maïr one can see there
   Is bright as day.

In that calm land of love, the Ligoy river--
   The lithe Ligoy--
Makes the bright face of Maïr softly quiver
   As waves deploy.

The flowers that smell, the lyres that strum (amazing
   Lyres, strumming clear),
And songs of women in one breath praising--
   Praising Maïr.'

--Sologub in: Modern Russian Poetry (tr Markov
& Sparks, 1967)

The avant garde speaks: "I'm not an artist I'm a
terrorist. My bombs don't hurt bodies--they blow
up souls. So far I have had no effect. Can it be that
there are no souls left?"

Thursday, August 28, 2003

"Never forgot about, never more has been yiped
Stalking nothing like it was beat--Just like a watch band
A shot beats . A giraffe progresses.
Piercing sounds, wails, crys: 'Shut up, you profane faces!'
A chain talks noisily, but no one ever listens ...
Like Brett, the petals flopped in violent circles--his anguish exposed
Hope for you is not a morning dove, rather a mourning ham hock
Why ask why ? One envisions this always.
O melancholy world, you have punched me again."

--Poetry CreatOR 2
'You ought to learn to laugh, my young friends, if
you are hell-bent on remaining pessimists.' --Nietzsche

At the Dallas museum i saw a Mochica cast-pot with just
the same expression as Picasso's famous portrait of
Gertrude Stein.

We are inundated with images of unavoidable injury, to
the point that all injury seems unavoidable. (That enter-
tainment accompanies this teaching is entirely beside
the point.)

"I read their expression as if I were reading the ingredients
of a bottle of poison I swallowed by mistake." --Darcey
Steinke, Suicide Blonde (1992)

Listening to: Morton Subotnick, "Silver Apples of the Moon".

Sailor Moon cocktails. (via Plastic)

just a minor correction. I am not muslim or Kuwaiti.
Take care

"[William Wells] Brown had a wildcat bank up in
Buffalo, New York, you know. The first Afro-American
novelist printed up and issued his own money. Think
of that." --Ishmael Reed, 1977 interview, in:
Conversations with Ishmael Reed (1995)
Interesting meter in that Red Hot Chili Peppers song
that begins: "Can't stop addicted to the shin dig".
At first i analyzed it as a palimbacchus (@@* where
@ is a stressed syllable) plus first paeon (@***)
plus a trochee (@*) or spondee (@@) or dactyl
(@**), depending on the rhyme; but as i let the
rhythm sink in, i realized the 6th syllable was almost
always a very weak stress, giving a duple movement
to the latter half of the line. Then, too, the first two
syllables have a kind of syncopation, audible in the
near-equivalent one-line song from "Frazier": "Flesh
is burning/ dada dada da-da". So, it becomes a trochaic
pentameter with caesura after the second foot & a
combination of slowing the first part & speeding up
the second. Actually, this kind of line is known in
Yugoslavian poetry as an epic meter...

The Swingle Singers: a cappella classical music.

Four and a half billion years to produce a
creature that would rather kill than push
the brake pedal with its foot!
  "Two barbarians meet"

First one says: "I hurt. Pity me."
Second one says: "I hurt worse. I need all my pity for my own pain."
First one says: "You lie."
They begin to fight.

2 23 83

A glossary of Pali & Buddhist terms.

The Ten Commandments leave Alabama; meanwhile, in

"The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire
poem could be made in this vocabulary." --Louise Gluck

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Would you drive the moneychangers
out of the temple? It's their temple. (the Art

Egotism creates empires, but Empire also creates
egos. The missing link is collectivized
education: the means is by preventing contempla-
tion (which would develop [the power of voluntary]
attention). That's why dogma is so important
to an empire. Without knowledge of real things
to furnish a common context, the only basis for
human relations must then be a rigidly preserved
terminology. [N.B. Dogmas need not be verbal. Many
of ours are made of images.]

The ego is finite and unbounded.
Psychologies have been founded on either of these
(half-) truths.

The concept of the Unconscious means: here there
are no more explanations. --But that assumes
explanations must be rational. If explanations are
instead 'stories', then the unconscious is also a
story, and can be elaborated. Once there were two
brothers who lived in the same house. But these
were blind and deaf brothers, and each thought that
he was alone. A day came when things were no longer
where they were supposed to be. They couldn't find
anything half the time. "Am I going crazy?" they
said to themselves, "Or do things move of their own
I often watch movies on video in pieces, an hour
here, an hour the next day or the next. Onetime i
had been watching one of the "Thin Man" movies,
but by mistake i put in a different one the next time,
& was mildly confused by how the mystery finally
wound up...but i hadn't been watching it for the
plot anyway. An idea for a novel: midway through
it, finish with the second half of a different
novel--sharing the same character names, but
nothing else. This, i believe, would be truer to
life than the illusion of transparency given by
an omniscient author with a point to make.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The 'tater that exploded. One of my wife's
friends was cooking new potatos in the microwave.
She bit into one & it exploded in her mouth, burning
her severely. Her husband heard the report clear
in the next room!

Stefan George: Ihr alten bilder schlummert mit den toten

'You ancient visions with the dead have vanished,
I lack the strength to conjure you again,
Since from the true dominions I was banished,
I now wil taste the splendor tinged with bane.

By rumors of enchantment I am stricken:
The meadows of an azure vale reveal
How herons white and rosy-colored quicken
The nearby lake that sleeps and shines as steel.

There, as in symmetry of chords she paces,
Her upward pointed finger lifts and takes
The shrouding garment by its silken laces,
That in the night she wove of willow flakes.

O subtle play divined behind these veilings!
My senses wrought the fancy we were paired,
Before through vines that screen with bloomy trailings
Down to the nearby lake she slowly fared.'

--Poems tr Valhope & Morwitz (1943)
[I italicized this because in the original, George's poems
are printed in a peculiar typeface sort of like Carolingian
uncials, & he doesn't capitalize nouns, an effect impossible
to simulate in English...]

Monday, August 25, 2003


"Wondrous life!" cried Marvell at Appleton House.
Renan admired Jesus Christ "wholeheartedly."
But here dried ferns keep falling to the floor,
And something inside my head
Flaps like a worn-out blind. Royal Cortissoz is dead,
A blow to the Herald-Tribune. A closet mouse
Rattles the wrapper on the breakfast food. Renan
Admired Jesus Christ "wholeheartedly."
Flaps like a worn-out blind. Cézanne
Would break out in the quiet streets of Aix
And shout, "Le monde, c'est terrible!" Royal
Cortissoz is dead. And something inside my head
There is no twilight on the moon, no mist or rain,
No hail or snow, no life. Here in this house
Dried ferns keep falling to the floor, a mouse
Rattles the wrapper on the breakfast food. Cézanne
Would break out in the quiet streets and scream. Renan
Admired Jesus Christ "wholeheartedly." And something inside my head
Flaps like a worn-out blind. Royal Cortissoz is dead.
There is no twilight on the moon, no hail or snow.
One notes fresh desecrations of the portico.
"Wondrous life!" cried Marvell at Appleton House."

--Weldon Kees; An essay on him.
You think people are interchangeable,
don't walk in another man's moccasins--
look through his glasses.

'Health consists essentially in being able
to resolve contradictions.' --Kierkegaard,
The Sickness Unto Death (1849) tr

Artists settle for gestures. Then curse the
audience for not having enough imagination
to supply the rest.

You don't gain skills, you lose preconceptions.

No dreams grow where reality is not

Art can be a discipline instead of just a
drug, when it demands more freedom of
the artist.

I could never be a professor, because the first
thing i'd have to profess is the evil of

Terrorism insurance. (via Volokh)
An addiction is like being pinned to the
ground by a spear. You don't just get up
and walk away. --Nor should you hang a
flag from it.

'The beauty of the world is the mouth of
a labyrinth.' --Weil

Every heresy is at once a power struggle &
a quibble over words.

We seem not to be able to conceive of an
individuality which finds fulfillment in
solidarity, or a solidarity which does not
suppress the individual.

A real history of ideas would have the effect
of mapping possible discourse. Without a
continuing dialog with the past however, it's
just etymology and dates.

First mistake: that words have a meaning.
Second mistake: that they don't.
"Eliot, writing as a critic, easily
demonstrates the impossibility of Eliot's
writing The Waste Land." --Stephen
Spender, The Struggle of the Modern

"A terrible thought, that after God's
withdrawal into silence the ancient mechanisms
which made prophets should continue working,
like machines left on in an abandoned factory:
so that bearded wild men strode forth as before,
howling, to any who would hear, their
inarticulate warning." --John Gardner, The
Sunlight Dialogues

Falling ones admire jugglers most. It makes
them feel like they're going somewhere.

Perhaps the hardest thing to recognize is the
process by which a truth becomes a lie. If you
believed it, you can't alter it without attacking
some part of yourself. And if you never did
believe it, then it seems to have been untrue all
Sleepiness makes me forgiving. Ego thrives on

"So skilled was he [Pessoa] at this art that, after
reading the autobiography of a well-known English
magus named Aleister Crowley, alias Master Therion,
he dared to inform the author that the horoscope
he'd drawn up for himself and published in his book
was mistaken. Crowley recognized the error, struck
up a correspondence with Pessoa, and came to
Lisbon in 1930 to meet the poet astrologer, who
in the following year published a Portuguese version
of 'Hymn to Pan'..." --Introduction to Fernando
Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems
, ed & tr Richard
Zenith (1998)

Momus defines a new aesthetic for the new century.

A long, fascinating essay on "neophilic irreligions" on the
internet, such as the Church of the Subgenius & the
Cthulhu mythos.


   I want my canal share
   Of life on Mars.
   I hear its sough
   Where air's not thick enough.
   That Yma expiry
   Named Orphalese
   Drones on in koto
   Glissades. Come Boreas,

   Penetrate the dimness
   That is our wisdom
   Or somber cargo
; come, ye Parcae
Flying pyramids, massed rods of Rome!

07 04 97

Sunday, August 24, 2003

'...poetry is like the arts of painting, cooking, and
cosmetics in its ability to express every sensation
of sweetness or bitterness, beatitude or horror,
by coupling a certain noun with a certain adjective,
in analogy or contrast...' --Baudelaire, Draft of a

"Black stands for malediction, red for flames,
and white for light. Those who use only three colors
say that blue, green, and yellow washes are merely
intended to please clients and are neither necessary
nor effective against demons." --Jacques Mercier,
Ethiopian Magic Scrolls (1979)

Martin Seymour-Smith's top 20c list would be something
like: Vallejo, Mandelshtam, Pessoa, Riding, Cavafy,
Rilke, Valéry, Hagiwara, Campana, Ady, Goll, & Isaac
Rosenberg, possibly Bacovia & Hart Crane.
The trouble with thinking canonically is you will
reject without thinking any possibility of being
influenced by, say, Beddoes, Mayakovsky,
Chikamatsu...or Banjo Paterson. But why not?
This isn't biological evolution--there are
no dead ends in poetry
The gazebo scene in "Sound of Music" is lit just like
a painting by Paul Delvaux.