Saturday, December 27, 2003

Some people you have to give directions in landmarks, others (like me) in street signs; maybe literature is like that--it needs a story & also a meaning, one not reducible to the other, & both as clear & unique as possible. (Muddiness for enhancement only. Those who want all-muddy works are perceiving Literature itself as a single work with too much clarity (but how? their ignorance maybe) & wish to complete the big picture.) Character is part of story, images are part of meaning; where characters create images, the best literature is born; and what else is History but that part of events graspable in terms of characters creating images?

The taste for freedom as a form of sensuality. --How intuitives can be indulgent in a revelry of movement & change, to the exclusion of true growth. (My thousand interests--)

My ivory tower sank in quicksand.

To dwell among weapons, then: only possible for the unthinking, or the lucid suicidal, who find comfort in their potential, as in carrying house keys, while you move from room to room in a large locked mansion.

"To go to the stars, you must be worthy of going to the stars. And the stars don't care." --Terence McKenna

Friday, December 26, 2003

Global English. (via Under the Fire Star)

"Rather than restore the old town after the war, the Dutch authorities signed the city over to a variety of young architects, who did their best to make the place look modern and interesting. As a result of their labors, a large part of the city looks like the senior thesis of a talented and precocious architecture major, albeit one who was heavy into drugs. There are bright colors and unusal shapes everywhere, and many of the buildings seem to be answering questions of the form "Wouldn't it be cool if..."" --Idle Words

What about the Modern Garuda?

"You can walk the surface of Mars for a thousand of your years without making any discovery which you have no right to make..." --The Master Aetherius

The Alternate Mars Project.

Texas Sand Dragon.

"This speculative history of the Nephilim is indeed grim: Exile, collapse, and then slow death. How could a loving God allow such things?" --A Hill on Mars

"A proper poem is four lines with one word per line."

The Scarlet Pimpernel calls in.

1956: W H Auden reviews Return of the King. (via Mysterium)

Lemme see...that's three times as many human beings as died in "9-11". [Ten.]

The word "flarf" appears to be Icelandic for 'wheel'.

Silence from Beagle 2.

Light the Umoja candle.

We need another George Grosz.

Satan's Secret History and the Monuments of Mars.
Or what about the Seven Cities of Mars?

A real myth solves an unanswerable problem with a string of images, that together create a story which implies its answerability. A world mythologized is not a world with infinite anxieties, though its meaningfulness gives no satisfaction to the inquiring intellect. Science is an attempt to create a myth that is also an explanation. To the extent that it succeeds as one, it inevitably fails as the other. But our popular arts are almost totally devoid of myths; they are deliberate lies made to foster certain sensations or else, more or less candid self-exposure. The real myths of our time (not: its cant or its prevalent misunderstandings) are more like pre-myths, the ritualized feelings of certain habits & recurrent practices, which tend to sustain a set of familiar images, but which never (or seldom ever) attain the clarity of a single complex mythic-core, on account of the fact that no artist has yet bothered to contemplate that context, without bringing in everything else he knows & feels & especially, his desire to be stylish.

Pity the poet who isn't ahead of the science of his time; pity the scientist who is.

The desire for an eclectic style & the desire for a homogeneous style: both nilpertain the necessity of textural relief which form (perceived as insight) imposes. These idols come from a blindness in the mind's eye. It's a glaring indictment that modern art history eems to be about them.

"School is teachers who don't know teaching facts that aren't true to kids who don't care." --Matt Groening

"In this country, only the executioner may indulge his perversities." --Angela Carter

After complaining about the way things are run, Americans invariably add "but it's still the freest country in the world" --to which i want to respond: "Two dozen others have lower infant mortality rates".

A new blog for visual-verbal poetry, from Geof Huth of mail art & "dbqp press" fame.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Prejudice against "abstractions" is usually against words of Latin origin vs. Anglo-Saxon--but their words were as real to them as ours to us.

To go to work regardless if you're sick--to write when uninspired. What can be the justification? If you get fired otherwise.

After a good poem i am a little more myself & a little less the pretender, by that exact degree of extra effort i have had to make to keep from lying in the presence of my fearfulness (not: my fears. they are nothing so discrete!).

The rites of a trade remain, through all high culture & decadence, inviolate. Until the actual technical secrets get lost. Then cultlike nontrades emerge: associations without any real knowledge, & invent a secrecy & hierarchy to justify their existence.

So many poets today hate words! they only love "being a Poet".

How can i sing the fate of an empire when my own life has no direction?

The time for critiques is past; now it's find a new form of life, or perish. [THIS IS NOT AN APHORISM IT'S A FIRE IN YOUR SHOE.]

Books to recreate the magic of first books...Finnegans Wake.

Maybe Art doesn't want to be saved; maybe all it wants is an easy death & we are torturing it with heroic measures of prolongation...[unwilling to believe in actual rebirth.]

The Novel rolled through poetry like a Panzer division & left every poem cluttered with irrelevant anecdotes, meaningless description, arbitrary allusion & obscure personal trivia. While novels succeeded in becoming flat, standardized, & fearsomely contemporary.

Art has a way of fomenting its own conspiracy. On the [shortwave] radio i am listening to something by Peter Maxwell Davies & after the Dick bio [by Paul Williams] it occurs to me, naturally, that P. M. Davies has already been invented as a fictional character, in Thomas Mann's novel Doktor Faustus, as the composer Adrian Leverkuhn (if i remember aright) whose oeuvre consisted entirely of variously grotesque & somber parodies of earlir music. ...Davies is interrupted by a CB'er & for a fraction of a second i think it's part of the program. All that has to happen next is to hear the CB'er start talking as if to me... No wonder i don't get any work done.

Listening to: Odetta- It's a Mighty World

Monday, December 22, 2003


I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars."

Muriel Rukeyser (via Poems for the Time)

"at the end of this tunnel of guilt and shame
there must be a light of some kind...."
--Ani DiFranco

From here, the light increases.
Happy solstice!
This is the Serbo-Croatian translation of my poem "Christendom", in the new issue of Novi Kamov:

   "Krscanski Svijet"

bio jednom jedan kralj
budalast kralj
sin jednoga kralja

i vladao je velikim carstvom
najvecim u njegovo doba
i pobozan on bijase

tako pobozan
da je htio kazniti
svakoga tko nije vjerovao

pa je taj pobozni kralj
osnovao ministarstvo
da uhodi vlastiti narod

ali rat je ono sto je volio
stalni rat
rat bez svrhe

pa je ratavao dok nije iscrpio
sva bogatstva najveceg carstva
i unistio zemlju svoju

doveo je do potpunog stecaja
pa je postala
najnazadnija zemlja u Europi

i nakon toga kralja
cije ime bijase Filip Drugi
Zlatno doba umjetnosti I knjizevnosti

utrnuto je
kao da nikada postojalo nije
a rijec je o tristo godina

tristo godina da se u Spanjolskoj
opet nesto dobro stvori

--Just so I don't g ive Blogger fits, I'll tell you instead that there's supposed to be an acute accent over the 1st, 3rd, & 5th occurrences of the letter C; & carets* over the S's numbered 1, 7, 13, 20, 23, 28 & 30; the Z's numbered 1, 2, 4 & 9; & the C's numbered 7, 8 & 9. Thank you, Slobodan Drenovac!

An appreciation of Jacques Jouet. (via Moby Lives)

*actually, a hacek (which is an upside down caret)--& there's one over the C of "hacek", too.

"The difficulty of explaining romance to a 7-year-old is nothing compared to the difficulty of explaining the 'romance' of a darkened room and candles- especially if the 7-year-old has associated candles to explosions and blackouts her whole life." --Baghdad Burning

According to The Family Romance of the Impostor-Poet Thomas Chatterton (Louise Kaplan, 1987), he had just written a political article supporting Lord Mayor Beckford & which had been accepted for publication when the lord Mayor died. Scribbled on the back of a manuscript are the computations: "Lost by his death on this Essay-- 1 (pound) 11 (shillings) 6 (pence); Gained in Elegies [which he promptly wrote on Beckford]-- 5 (pounds) 5 (shillings) 0 (pence). Am glad he is dead by 3 (pounds) 13 (shillings) 6 (pence)." (p. 168)
Online Gwendolyn MacEwan stories. (via Wood's Lot)

A friend recommended the sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, whose most famous work is the horseback Indian bowman in Chicago.

   'Morning Song

Words are the poison in a song

on the track of the song's night road
police sirens aftertaste
the alcohol of sleepwalkers

waking up, a headache
like the window's transparent speakers
from silence to a roar

learning to waste a life
I hover in the birdcalls
crying never

when the storms have filled up with gas
light rays snatch the letter
unfold it and tear it up'

--Bei Dao (tr Eliot Weinberger)

Listening to: Musafir- Dhola Maru.

'The easy possibility of letter-writing must--seen merely theoretically--have brought into the world a terrible disintegration of souls. It is, in fact, an intercourse with ghosts, and not only with the ghost of the recipient but also with one's own ghost which develops between the lines of the letter one is writing and even more so in a series of letters where one letter corroborates the other and can refer to it as a witness. How on earth did anyone get the idea that people can communicate with one another by letter! Of a distant person one can think, and of a person who is near one can catch hold--all else goes beyond human strength. Writing letters, however, means to denude oneself before the ghosts, something for which they greedily wait. Written kisses don't reach their destination, rather they are drunk on the way by the ghosts. It is on this ample nourishment that they multiply so enormously. Humanity senses this and fights against it and in order to eliminate as far as possible the ghostly element between people and to create a natural communication, the peace of souls, it has invented the railway, the motor car, the aeroplane. But it's no longer any good, these are evidently inventions being made at the moment of crashing. The opposing side is so much calmer and stronger; after the postal service it has invented the telegraph, the telephone, the radiograph. The ghosts won't starve, but we will perish.' --Letters to Milena

"On December 6, 1982, at 4:00 p.m., I met with President Reagan and his daughter Patti Davis for seventy-five minutes... He seemed continually to have his own agenda and didn't appear to listen much or to consider seriously my statements or replies. ...He quoted some material saying that the freeze campaign was orchestrated by Russia and that we were KGB dupes. I looked at him and said, 'That's from the Reader's Digest.' He shook his head and said, 'No, it's not; it's from my intelligence files.' If I am not badly mistaken, it was copied straight from the John Barron article in the October 1982 issue of Reader's Digest." --Dr Helen Caldicott, Missile Envy (1986 ed.)

'I am steel; I am a druid.
I am an artificer; I am a scientific one.
I am a serpent; I am love; I will indulge in feasting.
I am not a confused bard drivelling...
I am a cell, I am a cleft, I am a restoration,
I am the depository of song; I am a literary man...
I am a bard of the hall, I am a chick of the chair.'
--Book of Taliessen III. in: William F Skene, The Four Ancient Books of Wales (1868)

Listening to: John Coltrane- Meditations (on vinyl)