Friday, December 16, 2016

Good Grief!

Two Planes

The Bay

Marseilles, a dazzling amphitheater, rises around the rectangle of the old harbor. The three shores of the square paved with sea, whose depth cuts into the city, are lined with rows of facades, each one like the next. Across from the entrance to the bay, the Cannebiere, the street of all streets, breaks into the square's smooth luminescence, extending the harbor into the city's interior. It is not the only connection between the soaring terraces and this monster of a square, from whose foundation the neighborhoods rise like the jets of a fountain. The churches point to the square as the vanishing point of all perspectives, and the still-virgin hills face it as well. Rarely has such an audience ever been assembled around an arena. If ocean liners were to fill the basin, their trails of smoke would drift to the most remote houses; if fireworks were to be set off over the plane, the city would be witness to the illumination.

No ocean liners fill the bay, and no fireworks are coasting down; there are only yawls, motor launches, and pinnaces, resting lazily at the edges. During the sailfishing era, the harbor used to be a kaleidoscope dispatching moving patterns across the quays. They trickled off into the pores; the gratings of lordly mansions, set back from the shorefront, glistened. The splendor has lost its luster, and the bay has degenerated from the street of all streets into a rectangle. Its desolateness is shared by a side branch of water, a forgotten rivulet that does not mirror the stark houses.

The city keeps its fishing nets open. The catch is collected in the harbor's new basins, which, together with the coastline, describe a mighty trajectory. The arrival and departure of the ocean liners, aglow as they disappear over the horizon, constitute the poles of life. The bleakness of the bare warehouse walls is an illusion; their front side is what the fairy-tale prince would see. In the spongy depths of the harbor quarter the fauna of humanity is teeming, and in the puddles the sky is pristine. Outdated palaces are converted into brothels that outlive every ancestral portrait gallery. The mass of humanity in which the peoples of different nations blend together is flushed through avenues and bazaar streets. These define the borders of the districts into which the human tide disperses. In the shell-like windings of one of those districts rages the eternal mass of small-time tradespeople.

Unfrequented amid all this, the bay lounges about lazily. Its very existence prevents the arches from closing. The streets dead-end on its banks; it bends straight ones into curves. In its public space the obvious vanishes; its emptiness spreads to distant corners. The bay is so mute that it surges through the shrieks like a respite. The filled tiers of the amphitheater spread around a cavity. The upright audience turns its back on it.

The Quadrangle

Whoever the place finds did not seek it.1 The alleys, crumpled paper streamers, are laced together without knots. Crossbeams traverse the soil wrinkles, rubbing against plaster, plummeting into the depths of basements, then ricocheting back to their starting point. A backstairs quarter, it lacks the magnificent ascending entrances. Grayish-green smells of sea waste come smoldering out of open doors; little red lamps lead the way. In the spaces that afford a view, one finds improvised backdrops: rows of flying buttresses, Arabic signs, stair windings. If one leaves them behind, they are torn down and reconstructed at a different site. Their order is familiar to the dreamer.

A wall heralds the square. It stands sleeplessly erect, sealing off the labyrinth. A gully accompanies it with canine obedience, plodding alongside every step of the way. Hatches have been blasted into the wall, small holes at large intervals that admit no light into the spaces behind. Other walls of equal length foreshorten like railway tracks; but not this one. Its vanishing points diverge, either because the gully drops down or because the crown of the wall steadily rises. Suddenly, next to the gully, the square unfolds.

It is a quadrangle which has been stamped into the urban tangle with a giant template. Blocks of barracks fall into formation around it, the rear wall painted red. An apron shoots out from the wall, stops, breaks off. The horizontal lines are drawn with a ruler, dead straight.

On the deserted square, something happens: the force of the quadrilateral pushes the person who is trapped into its center. He is alone, and yet he isn't. Although no observers are visible, the rays of their gazes pierce through the shutters, through the walls. Bundles of them traverse the space, intersecting at its midpoint. Fear is stark naked, at their mercy. No bouquet of palm trees capable of swathing this bareness caresses the edges. On invisible seats around the quadrangle a tribunal is in session. It is the moment before the pronouncement of the verdict, which is not handed down. The sharpened arrow of the apron points to the one who is waiting, follows him, a moving indicator. The eyes of notorious portraits constantly follow the viewer in this way. The red rear wall is separated from the plane of the square by a crack from which a roadway rises, hidden by the apron.

In this tangle of pictorial alleys, no one seeks the quadrangle. After painstaking reflection, one would have to describe its size as moderate. But once its observers have settled into their chairs, it expands toward the four sides of the world, overpowering the pitiful, soft, private parts of the dream: it is a square without mercy
-Siegreid Kracauer, "The Mass Ornament"

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Major Thom Seeks the Disco King

Everything that was directly lived has receded into representation.
-Guy Debord, "The Society of the Spectacle"

Friday, December 2, 2016


A winter's day
in a deep and dark December...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

On Narrower Gates

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Matthew 7 (1:14)

16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”

Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’

19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19 (16:24)

Kansas City Blues

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Many Me's

Many Me's

I feel as if I am constantly being pulled at in two different directions..
It's almost like my mind is divided and the two sides are at a never ending war..
...Always pushing and shoving at one another..
...Desperately trying to reach the surface..
And the moment one finally does, the other immediately pulls it back under..
During this struggle to be heard i just sit, emotionless..
It is impossible even for me to determine what I am feeling at that point..
And then within seconds I become angry, furious actually..
All that i want to do it scream and hurt those around me..
My heart begins pounding wildly..
It is almost impossible to control myself..
These feelings can sometimes last for day at a time..
Then, just as quickly as it came, my anger fades away..
I sink back into nothing..
An empty soul..
Soon comes a new feeling..
A warm sensation of happiness without cause..
I feel a great sense of pride and develop the urge to be a better person..
Throughout my entire body all that I feel is joy and it is simply amazing..
As soon as I start to think that things are perfect...I hit rock bottom..
I feel tons of self pity and sorrow..
All that I want out of my pathetic life are my knife and a side order of drugs to help ease the pain..
My mind gets so deeply tangled that I don't even know who the "real me" is anymore..
I sit and try to figure myself out and become so incredibly confused that I don't even remember if I gave up yet or not..
I must resort to writing ongoing poems about nothing to sort things out..
As I write I drift to sleep and wonder who I will be tomorrow....
-BigPapaIsSoCool, "The Many Me's" (2004)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Stuck in the Middle with You!

O' middle child, dear son of mine, you have always let the others shine
All through the years, you have stood behind
---I want to say, I've noticed you

Your sister's charms, of course, we knew...
And your brother's skills were multitude
But, my quiet child, though your words were few
---I want to say I've noticed you

While people cheered, and guitars were played,
as your siblings sang upon the stage
You cheered them on with no restraint
---but, I want to say I've noticed you

Such wit and charm, a heart of gold,
More generous soul, I've never known
A shoulder you will always lend
---a brother, friend until the end

I love you all, .....of course I do
I have watched you grow, each one of you
My quiet child, you are still the same
---you'll step aside from all acclaim

As parents now, all three of you
I am proud beyond the words I hold

My middle child, I hope you know,
while you've always been a one to sow
a quiet gift to all you've known

---I want to say I've noticed you........
- Carrie Richards, "O' Middle Child" (4/30/13)

Sunday, October 2, 2016


All of my tastes correspond to ideas I’ve had since I was a child. For example, the bread that I often wear on my head is a hat that I showed up wearing at home when I was six. I emptied out a pan de crostons, a kind of three-pointed Catalan bread, and I put it on my head to amaze my parents.
-Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali, "Basket of Bread" (1926)
Salvador Dali, "Calatalan Bread" (1932)
Salvador Dali, "Invisible Man" (1932)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sleepless Night

I want no horns to rouse me up to-night,
And trumpets make too clamorous a ring
To fit my mood, it is so weary white
I have no wish for doing any thing.

A music coaxed from humming strings would please;
Not plucked, but drawn in creeping cadences
Across a sunset wall where some Marquise
Picks a pale rose amid strange silences.

Ghostly and vaporous her gown sweeps by
The twilight dusking wall, I hear her feet
Delaying on the gravel, and a sigh,
Briefly permitted, touches the air like sleet

And it is dark, I hear her feet no more.
A red moon leers beyond the lily-tank.
A drunken moon ogling a sycamore,
Running long fingers down its shining flank.

A lurching moon, as nimble as a clown,
Cuddling the flowers and trees which burn like glass.
Red, kissing lips, I feel you on my gown—
Kiss me, red lips, and then pass—pass.

Music, you are pitiless to-night.
And I so old, so cold, so languorously white.
- Amy Lowell, "Nuit Blanche"

Great Escapes?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016


To Add Another
I felt its power,
And it's resonance,

It's eerie dissonance
Came forward, closer,

Twisting my heaving heart.
- Arturo Hernandez, "Resonance" (Jul 9, 2014)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Living the Circus Life


I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.


What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.

And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen' was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.


Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
-William Butler Yeats, "The Circus Animals’ Desertion"

Monday, August 22, 2016

Always Tip the Doorman!

It's a new guy this time
He has the same jacket and gloves
But it's definitely a new guy
I pull the collar of my coat with
The tips of my fingers
And approach the roped off entrance
Of the building

He stops me with a
Sudden hand on my chest
"I'm sorry sir,
but you're not allowed
in today."

"What? Not allowed? I was
Just here yesterday. The guy
At the door let me right in."

"No matter sir. You're not
Allowed in today."

"Well, shit."

I take a seat on the
Rain painted curb
And stare at my reflection
In a dirty puddle

Some cookie cutter schlub
Comes down to the same partition
I was turned away from
The rope is lifted without a word
From either of them

I un-crane my neck from
The door's direction
Meeting my own stare in
The puddle of dirty water

I push off the curb with
Renewed energy and
Approach the doorman again

"Alright, I think I can go in now."

He pulls his white gloves
By the wrist to eliminate any
Excess space in his fingertips
And meets my eyes
With a smug look on his face
And shakes his head

How the hell are his gloves so white
When all the puddles around here
Are so filthy

"Just because you were in here
Yesterday sir, does not mean
That you will be allowed entry
Today. I'm sorry, but that's the
Way that things work."

I bend my mouth into an
Upside down horseshoe
Studying the gaudy marquee above
The padded door

The doorman sees me staring at the blinking
Chipped letters
Sensing my resentment
He tightens his gloves again
And stares at the brick wall
Across the alley

I wander off in the rain
To go find something
Else to do
-Ben, "Members Only"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Timelapse v. Hyperlapse

The moon in time lapse sliding over skyline
the way a remote frisbee might wheel through air
as slowly as a banjo once floated across the wide
Missouri River in my mind when as a boy
the devil to pay permitted me to dream-up
my get-away from home, far from my parents’
witchy vigilance & the wine-barrel cellars
of their household—this after my experimental
stuffing of a dinner fork into a light socket
in the green gazebo under backyard grapevines.
That fuse box blown & blackened was the bliss
of departure—it was thrilling, but sometimes
I have to stop to touch my life & see if it’s real.
How surprising to find that I wanted so much,
and mostly got it. My fantasies are fewer now
(one involves living through a day without
resentments, the other getting seated next to
gorgeous Fanny Ardant on a puddle jumper).
No need to see my life as a story the world
has to read, no need for sentimental
mooning & nostalgia—blessed with a bit
of amnesia anyway, I don’t recall much
of what went down. I know that it’s engraved
there on some cellular level, & that I can’t
command the consequences. Like a spider
who has climbed atop a survey stake in a bull-
dozed field, I feel slightly truer in any case.
- David Rivard, "The Moon in Time Lapse" (1953)

Thursday, August 18, 2016



from Wikipedia:
The Holocene (pronunciation: /ˈhɒləˌsiːn, ˈhoʊ-/) is the geological epoch that began after the Pleistocene at approximately 9,700 BCE and continues to the present. The term "Recent" (usually capitalised) has often been used as an exact synonym of "Holocene", although this usage is discouraged in 21st-century work. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words ὅλος (holos, whole or entire) and καινός (kainos, new), meaning "entirely recent". It has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1, and can be considered an interglacial in the current ice age based on that evidence.

The Holocene also encompasses the growth and impacts of the human species worldwide, including all its written history, development of major civilizations, and overall significant transition toward urban living in the present. Human impacts on modern-era Earth and its ecosystems may be considered of global significance for future evolution of living species, including approximately synchronous lithospheric evidence, or more recently atmospheric evidence of human impacts. Given these, a new term, Anthropocene, is specifically proposed and used informally only for the very latest part of modern history involving significant human impact.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

On Authorship...

“The story is not in the plot but in the telling.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Experiencing Insomnia?

Does experiencing the Real, at times, feel Surreal?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What's Your Style?

Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art

Bullfighting can be an art
Boxing can be an art
Loving can be an art
Opening a can of sardines can be an art

Not many have style
Not many can keep style
I have seen dogs with more style than men,
although not many dogs have style.
Cats have it with abundance.

When Hemingway put his brains to the wall with a shotgun,
that was style.
Or sometimes people give you style
Joan of Arc had style
John the Baptist
García Lorca.

I have met men in jail with style.
I have met more men in jail with style than men out of jail.
Style is the difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.
Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water,
or you, naked, walking out of the bathroom without seeing me.”
- Mellany Sanchez, "Bukoski Poem on Style"

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Better known than the versions of the Relief Theory of Shaftesbury, Spencer, and Dewey is that of Sigmund Freud. In his Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1974 [1905]), Freud analyzes three laughter situations: der Witz (often translated “jokes” or “joking”), “the comic,” and “humor.” In all three, laughter releases nervous energy that was summoned for a psychological task, but then became superfluous as that task was abandoned. In der Witz, that superfluous energy is energy used to repress feelings; in the comic it is energy used to think, and in humor it is the energy of feeling emotions. (In this article, we are not using humor in Freud's narrow sense, but in the general sense that includes joking, wit, the comic, etc.)

Der Witz includes telling prepared fictional jokes, making spontaneous witty comments, and repartee. In der Witz, Freud says, the psychic energy released is the energy that would have repressed the emotions that are being expressed as the person laughs. (Most summaries of Freud's theory mistakenly describe laughter as a release of repressed emotions themselves.) According to Freud, the emotions which are most repressed are sexual desire and hostility, and so most jokes and witty remarks are about sex, hostility, or both. In telling a sexual joke or listening to one, we bypass our internal censor and give vent to our libido. In telling or listening to a joke that puts down an individual or group we dislike, similarly, we let out the hostility we usually repress. In both cases, the psychic energy normally used to do the repressing becomes superfluous, and is released in laughter.

Freud's second laughter situation, “the comic,” involves a similar release of energy that is summoned but is then found unnecessary. Here it is the energy normally devoted to thinking. An example is laughter at the clumsy actions of a clown. As we watch the clown stumble through actions that we would perform smoothly and efficiently, there is a saving of the energy that we would normally expend to understand the clown's movements. Here Freud appeals to a theory of “mimetic representation” in which we expend a large packet of energy to understand something large and a small packet of energy to understand something small. Our mental representation of the clown's clumsy movements, Freud says, calls for more energy than the energy we would expend to mentally represent our own smooth, efficient movements in performing the same task. Our laughter at the clown is our venting of that surplus energy.

These two possibilities in my imagination amount to a comparison between the observed movement and my own. If the other person's movement is exaggerated and inexpedient, my increased expenditure in order to understand it is inhibited in statu nascendi, as it were in the act of being mobilized; it is declared superfluous and is free for use elsewhere or perhaps for discharge by laughter. (Freud 1974 [1905], 254)

Freud analyzes the third laughter situation, which he calls “humor,” much as Spencer analyzed laughter in general. Humor occurs “if there is a situation in which, according to our usual habits, we should be tempted to release a distressing affect and if motives then operate upon us which suppress that affect in statu nascendi [in the process of being born]… . The pleasure of humor … comes about … at the cost of a release of affect that does not occur: it arise from an economy in the expenditure of affect” (293). His example is a story told by Mark Twain in which his brother was building a road when a charge of dynamite went off prematurely, blowing him high into the sky. When the poor man came down far from the work site, he was docked half a day's pay for being “absent from his place of employment.” Freud's explanation of our laughter at this story is like the explanation above at Graham's poem about the cheapskate nephew. In laughing at this story, he says, we are releasing the psychic energy that we had summoned to feel pity for Twain's brother, but that became superfluous when we heard the fantastic last part. “As a result of this understanding, the expenditure on the pity, which was already prepared, becomes unutilizable and we laugh it off” (295).

Having sketched several versions of the Relief Theory, we can note that today almost no scholar in philosophy or psychology explains laughter or humor as a process of releasing pent-up nervous energy. There is, of course, a connection between laughter and the expenditure of energy. Hearty laughter involves many muscle groups and several areas of the nervous system. Laughing hard gives our lungs a workout, too, as we take in far more oxygen than usual. But few contemporary scholars defend the claims of Spencer and Freud that the energy expended in laughter is the energy of feeling emotions, the energy of repressing emotions, or the energy of thinking, which have built up and require venting.

Funny things and situations may evoke emotions, but many seem not to. Consider P. G. Wodehouse's line “If it's feasible, let's fease it.” Or the shortest poem in the English language, by Strickland Gillilan (1927), “Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes”:
These do not seem to vent emotions that had built up before we read them, and they do not seem to evoke emotions and then render them superfluous. So whatever energy is expended in laughing at them does not seem to be superfluous energy being vented. In fact, the whole hydraulic model of the nervous system on which the Relief Theory is based seems outdated.

To that hydraulic model, Freud adds several questionable claims derived from his general psychoanalytic theory of the mind. He says that the creation of der Witz—jokes and witty comments—is an unconscious process of letting repressed thoughts and feelings into the conscious mind. This claim seems falsified by professional humorists who approach the creation of jokes and cartoons with conscious strategies. Freud's account of how psychic energy is vented in joke-telling is also questionable, especially his claim that packets of psychic energy are summoned to repress thoughts and feelings, but in statu nascendi (in the process of being born) are rendered superfluous. If Freud is right that the energy released in laughing at a joke is the energy normally used to repress hostile and sexual feelings, then it seems that those who laugh hardest at aggressive and sexual jokes should be people who usually repress such feelings. But studies about joke preferences by Hans Jurgen Eysenck (1972, xvi) have shown that the people who enjoy aggressive and sexual humor the most are not those who usually repress hostile and sexual feelings, but those who express them.

Freud's account of “the comic” faces still more problems, particularly his ideas about “mimetic representation.” The psychic energy saved, he says, is energy summoned for understanding something, such as the antics of a clown. We summon a large packet of energy to understand the clown's large movements, but as we are summoning it, we compare it with the small packet of energy required to understand our own smaller movements in doing the same thing. The difference between the two packets is surplus energy discharged in laughter. Freud's account of thinking here is idiosyncratic and has strange implications, such as that thinking about swimming the English Channel takes far more energy than thinking about licking a stamp. With all these difficulties, it is not surprising that philosophers and psychologists studying humor today do not appeal to Freud's theory to explain laughter or humor. More generally, the Relief Theory is seldom used as a general explanation of laughter or humor.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pair IV

John Stezaker, "Pair IV" (2007)
Two movie stars in evening dress lean in for the kiss. The air is scented, the music quivers and mounts. But just as their lips are about to meet, the moment is blocked by a quite different view – of a river at the bottom of a deep dark gorge, flowing away towards a distant light.

A sepia postcard has been glued to a 50s film still: romantic landscape, romantic movie. That is the work; the method is simple. But the alignment is so skilful that one is able to hold two (and more) opposing perceptions at once: the lovers about to kiss, evident though their profiles are occluded; the prospect of passion welling up in the darkness; but also the exact opposite: two cliff-faces opposed, blocked, never to meet, with no release. Look into the image and it deepens; look, and you see through it to another side.

Pair IV is a collage by the English artist John Stezaker. Its impact clearly comes in part from a lucky strike, the persuasive coincidence of jaw and cliff, eyebrow and foliage, the light in the room and the light in the landscape. Stezaker has shuffled his numberless pack of images and hit upon a perfect match.

But idea precedes experiment, and for 30 years or more Stezaker has been pondering visual incongruity, inverting, rotating, slicing and splicing pairs of old images to create new works of art. His juxtapositions are anything but seamless – colour/black and white, male/female, portrait/landscape – precisely so that the eye is confronted by obvious disunities that the mind must somehow resolve.

I Miss "Yes"...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I AM DYING , Egypt, dying,
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
And the dark Plutonian shadows
Gather on the evening blast;
Let thine arms, O Queen, enfold me,
Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear;
Listen to the great heart-secrets,
Thou, and thou alone, must hear.

Though my scarr'd and veteran legions
Bear their eagles high no more,
And my wreck'd and scatter'd galleys
Strew dark Actium's fatal shore,
Though no glittering guards surround me,
Prompt to do their master's will,
I must perish like a Roman,
Die the great Triumvir still.

Let not Caesar's servile minions
Mock the lion thus laid low;
'Twas no foeman's arm that fell'd him,
'Twas his own that struck the blow;
His who, pillow'd on thy bosom,
Turn'd aside from glory's ray,
His who, drunk with thy caresses,
Madly threw a world away.

Should the base plebeian rabble
Dare assail my name at Rome,
Where my noble spouse, Octavia,
Weeps within her widow'd home,
Seek her; say the gods bear witness —
Altars, augurs, circling wings —
That her blood, with mine commingled,
Yet shall mount the throne of kings.

As for thee, star-eyed Egyptian,
Glorious sorceress of the Nile,
Light the path to Stygian horrors
With the splendors of thy smile.
Give the Caesar crowns and arches,
Let his brow the laurel twine;
I can scorn the Senate's triumphs,
Triumphing in love like thine.

I am dying, Egypt, dying;
Hark! the insulting foeman's cry.
They are coming! quick, my falchion,
Let me front them ere I die.
Ah! no more amid the battle
Shall my heart exulting swell;
Isis and Osiris guard thee!
Cleopatra, Rome, farewell!
-William Haines Lytle, "Antony to Cleopatra"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Shrimp Life

A shrimp who sought his lady shrimp
Could catch no glimpse
Not even a glimp.
At times, translucence
Is rather a nuisance.
Ogden Nash

Monday, June 13, 2016

Watching the Waiting

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
John Burroughs, "Waiting"

Saturday, June 4, 2016

In the Spirit of Dadaism

Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.
—Tristan Tzara, (1920)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Following my Heart...

Just follow your heart,
And follow your dreams,
Don't be afraid to re-start,
Even though it means going down stream.

Often advisors may say
Do this or take on that
But its best when you follow your own way,
By doing just what your good at.

Since, to realise what you want,
Is an impossible feat
But emptiness continues to haunt,
Until you choose that which makes you complete.

In time the right path will be revealed
And you will begin to understand your part.
But you've got to have the courage to believe,
And continue to, ' Follow your Heart'
Runita R Menezes, "Just follow your heart"

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bad Laws

Baby it's a bad, bad law !
It's a bad, bad law, Geronimo

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Texture in Film

"No other art form is able to fix time as cinema does. Therefore, what is cinema? It's a mosaic made with time."
- Andrei Tarkovsky

On the Banks of the Schuylkill...

In "Eddis's Letters from America," dated Annapolis, Maryland, December 24, 1771, he writes, "The Americans on this part of the continent have likewise a Saint, whose history like those of the above venerable characters [St. George, St. Patrick, St. Andrew, and St. David] is lost in fable and uncertainty. The first of May is however, set apart to the memory of Saint Tamina on which occasion the natives wear a piece of buck's tail in their hats or in some conspicuous situation. During the course of the evening and generally in the midst of the dance, the company are interrupted by the sudden intrusion of a number of persons habited like Indians, who rush violently into the room, singing the war song, giving the whoop and dancing in the style of those people; after which ceremony a collection is made and they retire well satisfied with their reception and entertainment."

A later writer adds, "This custom of celebrating the day was continued down within the recollection of many of the present inhabitants of this city [Annapolis, 1841] ." We have noted this celebration here to show that the fame of Tamanend had traveled from the neighboring Province of Pennsylvania, where he had long been celebrated on account of his services to and friendship for the early settlers, and also to call attention to the custom of those taking part in the affair to decorate themselves with buck tails or buck skins, for the reason that a little later the followers of Tamanend and those subscribing to their ideas were designated in the public prints as "Buck Skins." The first meeting of the Society is recorded in an issue of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, dated May 4, 1772. "On Friday, the first instant, a number of Americans, Sons of King Tammany, met at the house of Mr. James Byrn, (Located on the west side of Tenth Street between Mulberry (Arch) and Sassafras (Race), Deed Book I, p. 36.) to celebrate the memory of that truly noble Chieftain whose friendship was most affectionately manifested to the worthy founder, and first settlers of this Province. After dinner the circulating glass was crowned with wishes loyal and patriotic and the day concluded with much cheerfulness and harmony. It is hoped from this small beginning a society may be formed of great utility to the distressed, as this meeting was more for the purpose of promoting charity and benevolence than mirth and festivity." The following toasts were drunk on this occasion:
1. The King and Royal Family (George III. of England).

2. The Proprietors of Pennsylvania (Thomas Penn and John Penn, son of Richard).

3. The Governor of Pennsylvania (Richard Penn, Lieutenant-Governor son of Richard Penn).

4. Prosperity of Pennsylvania.

5. The Navy and Army of Great Britain.

6. The pious and immortal memory of King Tammany.

7. Speedy relief to the injured Queen of Denmark (Caroline Matilda, sister of George III. of England, and wife of Christian VII. of Denmark).

8. Unanimity between Great Britain and her Colonies.

9. Speedy repeal of all oppressive and unconstitutional acts.

10. May the Americans surely understand and faithfully defend their constitutional rights.

11. More spirit to the Councils of Great Britain.

12. The great philosopher, Dr. Franklin.

13. His Excellency, Governor Franklin, and prosperity to the Province of New Jersey.

14. His Excellency, Governor Tryon, and prosperity to the Province of New York.

15. The Honorable James Hamilton, Esq., late Governor of Pennsylvania.

16. The Chief-Justice of Pennsylvania (Honorable William Allen, vice Kinsey, deceased, 1750 to 1774).

17. The Speaker of the Honorable House of Assembly of Pennsylvania (Joseph Galloway).

18. The Recorder of the City of Philadelphia (William Parr, vice Chew, resigned).

19. The pious and immortal memory of General Wolfe.

20. The Pennsylvania farmer (John Dickinson).

21. May the Sons of King Tammany, St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick, and St. David love each other as brethren of one common ancestor, and unite in their hearty endeavors to preserve the native Constitutional American Liberties.
The company started off with the regulation toasts of the day, and it was only when they reached the eighth toast that their real feelings show themselves; the ninth was stronger in its sentiment, the tenth rings out; quite vigorously for America's rights, but the toast-master evidently thought that it was now time to tone down the enthusiasm, so the eleventh toast sounds well but is perfectly harmless. Then follows a series of toasts to provincial dignitaries until we reach the twentieth, when the real sentiment of those participating crops out in the toast to the Pennsylvania farmer whose letters were then challenging the attention of the world.

In the last toast is the call to unite all parties in a common cause to defend the rights of America against oppression.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Liminal Being

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.
from Wikipedia
The Sphinx is drowsy,
Her wings are furled:
Her ear is heavy,
She broods on the world.
"Who'll tell me my secret,
The ages have kept?--
I awaited the seer
While they slumbered and slept:--
"The fate of the man-child,
The meaning of man;
Known fruit of the unknown;
Daedalion plan;
Out of sleeping a waking,
Out of waking a sleep;
Life death overtaking;
Deep underneath deep?

"Erect as a sunbeam,
Unspringeth the palm;
The elephant browses,
Undaunted and calm;
In beautiful motion
The thrush plies his wings;
King leaves of his covert,
Your silence he sings.

"The waves, unashamed,
In difference sweet,
Play glad with the breezes,
Old playfellows meet;
The journeying atoms,
Primordial wholes,
Firmly draw, firmly drive,
By their animate poles.

"Sea, earth, air, sound, silence,
Plant, quadruped, bird,
By one music enchanted,
One deity stirred,--
Each the other adorning,
Accompany still;
Night veileth the morning,
The vapor the hill.

"The babe by its mother
Lies bathed in joy;
Glide its hours uncounted,--
The sun is its toy;
Shines the peace of all being,
Without cloud, in its eyes;
And the sum of the world
In soft miniature lies.

"But man crouches and blushes,
Absconds and conceals;
He creepeth and peepeth,
He palters and steals;
Infirm, melancholy,
Jealous glancing around,
An oaf, an accomplice,
He poisons the ground.

"Out spoke the great mother,
Beholding his fear;--
At the sound of her accents
Cold shuddered the sphere:--
'Who, has drugged my boy's cup?
Who, has mixed my boy's bread?
Who, with sadness and madness,
Has turned my child's head?'"

I heard a poet answer
Aloud and cheerfully
"Say on, sweet Sphinx! thy dirges
Are pleasant songs to me.
Deep love lieth under
These pictures of time;
They fade in the light of
Their meaning sublime.

"The fiend that man harries
Is love of the Best;
Yawns the pit of the Dragon,
Lit by rays from the Blest.
The Lethe of Nature
Can't trance him again,
Whose soul sees the perfect,
Which his eyes seek in vain.

"To vision profounder,
Man's spirit must dive;
His aye-rolling orb
At no goal will arrive;
The heavens that now draw him
With sweetness untold,
Once found,--for new heavens
He spurneth the old.

"Pride ruined the angels,
Their shame them restores;
Lurks the joy that is sweetest
In stings of remorse.
Have I a lover
Who is noble and free?--
I would he were nobler
Than to love me.

"Eterne alternation
Now follows, now flies;
And under pain, pleasure,--
Under pleasure, pain lies.
Love works at the centre,
Heart-heaving alway;
Forth speed the strong pulses
To the borders of day.

"Dull Sphinx, Jove keep thy five wits;
Thy sight is growing blear;
Rue, myrrh and cummin for the Sphinx,
Her muddy eyes to clear!"
The old Sphinx bit her thick lip,--
Said, "Who taught thee me to name?
I am the spirit, yoke-fellow;
Of thine eye I am eyebeam.

"Thou art the unanswered question;
Couldst see thy proper eye,
Always it asketh, asketh;
And each answer is a lie.
So take thy quest through nature,
It through thousand natures ply;
Ask on, thou clothed eternity;
Time is the false reply."

Uprose the merry Sphinx,
And crouched no more in stone;
She melted into purple cloud,
She silvered in the moon;
She spired into a yellow flame;
She flowered in blossoms red;
She flowed into a foaming wave:
She stood Monadnoc's head.

Thorough a thousand voices
Spoke the universal dame;
"Who telleth one of my meanings
Is master of all I am."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Sphinx"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Studio... the Art of Recording Music

- Dante Gabriel Rossetti "Veronica Veronese" (1872) [model:Elizabeth Siddal]
One face looks out from all his canvasses,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans;
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,
A saint, an angel; – every canvass means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
- Christina Rossetti, "In An Artist’s Studio" (12/24/1854)
Jean Leon Gerome, "Pygmaleon and Galeta"
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "Portrait of his sister, Christina Rossetti" (1877)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dream a Little Dream....with ME!

Dreaming, he turns the crank to wind her
Through his own eyes that he looks into, and
The girl moves toward him through going mist
Neared and clearer as though through unwound days and
Slowly; and veil after veil slides apart and behind her,
Veils moving over and away from her, ankle and wrist
Breaking the dark dominion. Then the spolight finds her,
Traman sees the long aisle of crushed flowers behind her,
How even now she stands in trampled flowers.

But then he looks again through the small
Slot; keeps busy with the crank's turning (tired)
And sees that it is not flowers at all:
Running in flickers of light at him (not
Tired) she kicks the fallen leaves in the road hollows:
Hot against him now, laughing (this is fun),
Her hair sweet like grass that lies a day in the sun.
She runs away from him. He follows

We will lie in the sun, Traman yells at her. He shouts
We will lie a long time in the sun. But then he sees
The sun going down between his knees: so he props
Her, very solemn, against a haystack and whispers
That the sun isn't going at all down now, anytime ever down;
and the sun, sure enough, stops.

Something plops.
Light flares. Traman is alone, blind,
And will not remember how he got out of the place.
Not clearly what happened; nor will he greatly mind,
Being stunned and bewildered, his ears ringing with the terrible
thunder of all those suddenly collected veils fallen between
him and her beautiful face.
-Winfield Townley Scott, "Dream Penney in the Slot at 6 A.M."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Boiling Away the "Mad"

bubbles of laughter
rise up from my consciousness
burst when they touch air
- βέƦẙḽ Dṏṽ the Smartass Rabbi, "My First Bubbles Burst Haiku" (5/26/15)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Acedia - The Curse of the Ascetic

“Boredom is the nihil out of which we create.” – Slavoj Zizek
The water was a deeper dark than purple dye,
and we, with its somber waves for company,
made our way down along a rough, strange path.

This sad [tristo] stream, when it has reached
the bottom of the gray malignant slopes,
becomes a swamp that has the name of Styx.

And I, intent on looking as we passed,
saw muddy people moving in that marsh,
all naked, with their faces scarred by rage.

They fought each other, not with hands alone,
but struck with head and chest and feet as well,
and with teeth they tore each other limb from limb.

And the good teacher said: "My son, now see
the souls of those that anger [ira] overcame;
and I ask you to believe me when I say,

Beneath the slimy top are sighing souls
who make these waters bubble at the surface;
your eyes will tell you this -- just look around

Bogged in this slime they say, 'Sad [tristi] we were
in the sweet air made happy by the sun,
continually carrying our depression [accidioso]
inside us;

now we lie sadly [attristiam] here in this black muck!'
This is the hymn they gurgle in their throats
but cannot sing in words that truly sound."

Then making a wide arc, we walked around
the pond between the dry bank and the slime,
our eyes still fixed on those who gobbled mud.
- Dante Alighieri, "Inferno" (Canto VII)
“In romantic longing ..the subject strives for an impossible object. ..The ..perverse reversal [of this] most elementary matrix of desire [is acedia]” – [in boredom + acedia] the desired object is all too close, intrusively imposing itself, but the subject now no longer desires it, the object gets desublimated, deprived of the objet a. Laziness, boredom, disgust are all secondary particular forms of this. ..Acedia explodes in a permissive superego society, when suddenly becomes nauseated by the saturation of objects offering themselves to us with the promise of satisfaction. ..The ultimate gesture of reconciliation is to recognize in this threatening excess of negativity the core of the subject itself.
– Slavoj Zizek

Friday, April 8, 2016

The All

What is your meaning, Zeno? Do you maintain that if being is many, it must be both like and unlike, and that this is impossible, for neither can the like be unlike, nor the unlike like—is that your position?

Just so, said Zeno.

And if the unlike cannot be like, or the like unlike, then according to you, being could not be many; for this would involve an impossibility. In all that you say have you any other purpose except to disprove the being of the many? and is not each division of your treatise intended to furnish a separate proof of this, there being in all as many proofs of the not-being of the many as you have composed arguments? Is that your meaning, or have I misunderstood you?

No, said Zeno; you have correctly understood my general purpose.

I see, Parmenides, said Socrates, that Zeno would like to be not only one with you in friendship but your second self in his writings too; he puts what you say in another way, and would fain make believe that he is telling us something which is new. For you, in your poems, say The All is one, and of this you adduce excellent proofs; and he on the other hand says There is no many; and on behalf of this he offers overwhelming evidence. You affirm unity, he denies plurality. And so you deceive the world into believing that you are saying different things when really you are saying much the same. This is a strain of art beyond the reach of most of us.

Yes, Socrates, said Zeno. But although you are as keen as a Spartan hound in pursuing the track, you do not fully apprehend the true motive of the composition, which is not really such an artificial work as you imagine; for what you speak of was an accident; there was no pretence of a great purpose; nor any serious intention of deceiving the world. The truth is, that these writings of mine were meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides against those who make fun of him and seek to show the many ridiculous and contradictory results which they suppose to follow from the affirmation of the one. My answer is addressed to the partisans of the many, whose attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the being of many, if carried out, appears to be still more ridiculous than the hypothesis of the being of one. Zeal for my master led me to write the book in the days of my youth, but some one stole the copy; and therefore I had no choice whether it should be published or not; the motive, however, of writing, was not the ambition of an elder man, but the pugnacity of a young one. This you do not seem to see, Socrates; though in other respects, as I was saying, your notion is a very just one.
- Plato, "Parmenides"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I've been Framed!

We see the man; not the pain
As in a picture within a frame
On the surface all seems well
Caught inside a frame of hell

No one can see inside the heart
Or imagine it being torn apart
We see the tears in others eyes
But do not hear their silent cries

Out of the blue you get a call
The tone in the voice says it all
The bad news quickly settles in
That you have lost a dear friend

Many question the reason why
That one would say goodbye
Make the choice to end it all
Allow the curtain of life to fall

Let us lift our prayers for a man
That held his life within his hand
Then attempted to ease the pain
Of a man caught inside the frame
- Anthony Raymond, "Caught Inside the Frame"

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Island Tunes

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
- John Donne, "No Man Is An Island"

Friday, April 1, 2016

On the "Other Place"...not "Here"

Entrances to the 'Virtual' Heterotopias of "Mind"
This passage quotes a "certain Chinese encyclopedia" in which it is written that "animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (1) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off" look like flies".
- Michael Foucault, "The Order of Things" (Preface)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Beckett Again Beckons...

From the initial Absurdist reception in the 1960s to the more recent Postmodernist and Poststructuralist appropriation in the 1990s, the works of Samuel Beckett have always been either celebrated or denigrated for their virulent resistance to the process of meaning-making. To begin with, his works baffled both critics and general audience and readers with what can be called a misconstrued absurdity or meaninglessness. It was Theodore Adorno who hit the nail on the head by saying that far from being meaningless, Beckett’s works “put meaning on trial” (Adorno: 1997, 201). In due course, the critical commonplace around Beckett changed from an absolute foreclosure of meaning to an allowance of free-play to meaning and a foregrounding of the deconstructive aporias in discourse. Beckett became the “poet of the poststructuralist age” in the words of Lance St. John Butler and Robin J. Davis (qtd in Katz: 1999, 03). Be it the existentialist approach where meaning is seen in a metaphysical and affective manner and meaninglessness becomes a form of anxiety and despair or the Postmodernist approach which highlights the linguistic inexpressibility of meaning in a pervasive critique of the representational powers of language, Beckett’s treatment of meaning still remains one of the most debatable issues in Beckett Studies. It is from this debate regarding signification that I want to come to the problem of the academic dissemination of Beckett’s works.


Beckett’s refusal to interpret his own works has always been based on a claim of nonknowledge [“I don’t know”]. He has claimed “ignorance”, “impotence” and described himself as a “non knower” and a “non-can-er” (Graver and Federman: 2005, 162). While Mathieu Protin reads this as a rhetorical posture of pseudo-naiveté to counter the ideologically engaged and committed figure of the author in contemporary France, I would like to take my departure here. I think we need to take Beckett’s insistence on terms like “impotence” and “ignorance” seriously because they are part and parcel of Beckett’s resistance to system-building. This is what marks his problematic and contestational relationship with academia. Once he was asked whether his system was the absence of a system and Beckett responded: “I can’t see any trace of any system anywhere.” (162) I would argue that Beckett’s critique of academic dissemination is centred on the idea of a literature of non-knowledge which resists all systemic appropriations. Beckett’s is a literature of evacuating knowledge which turns the “Academy” into “Acacademy” or better still “Aquaquademy”. I think this is the major reason behind the difficulty of teaching Beckett in the classroom. As I would show, Beckett’s non-system of non-knowledge both subverts and extends the discourse of the university and I would develop my argument by focusing on two areas: Beckett’s brief stint as a teacher and his anti-hermeneutic and anti-epistemic authorial practice.


the presence of knowledge. Truth always breaks with existing knowledge since it initiates something new into the world. It is only by subtracting knowledge that truth can be approached as a kenotic point where knowledge is lacking or in other words, it is placed in a lack. Following Lacan’s axiom: “The effect of truth is only a collapse of knowledge” (Lacan: 2007, 186), Badiou develops his own theory of truth as a rupture in knowledge: “[…] truth causes the failure of knowledge.” (Badiou: 2005, 79) In Beckett’s works, there is an increasing concern with the evacuation of knowledge. We may remember the first line of ‘Lessness’ [1969] here: “Ruins true refuge long last towards which so many false time out of mind” (Beckett: 1995, 197). The recurrent expression “all gone from mind” (197) from ‘Lessness’ upholds the essential kenotic movement of consciousness Beckett’s work dramatizes. Throughout How It Is, the narrator serio-comically mourns the loss of different categories of specialized knowledge he once possessed: “the humanities I had” (Beckett: 2009, 24), “the history I knew” (28), “the geography I had” (35), “the anatomy I had” (46) and so on. This movement of emptying the mind develops in tandem with the evacuation of the signifier which is the declared literary project of the young Beckett. In the famous German letter to Axel Kaun in 1937 he announced his literary project in terms of the act of boring holes into the “terrifyingly arbitrary materiality of the word surface” (Beckett: 2009a, 518). This act of drilling intends to dissolve the surface and cut open the veil of language “until that which lurks behind, be it something or nothing, starts seeping through” (518). As an author, Beckett’s words propose to punch holes in the existing register of language and its given body of knowledge. In his 1956 interview with Israel Shenker, Beckett described his literary trajectory as one of impotence and ignorance as opposed to Joycean omniscience and omnipotence:
The more Joyce knew the more he could. He’s tending toward omniscience and omnipotence as an artist. I’m working with impotence, ignorance.” (Graver and Federman: 2005, 162)


The trashing of knowledge and a dialectical focalization of the intersection of knowledge and truth are at the heart of the psychoanalytic ethic of teaching. The analysand comes to the analyst with the presupposition that he knows it all and has the key to all his problems. But the end of analysis is constituted by a trashing of what Lacan would call the “subject who is supposed to know”. As Lacan says in Seminar XI, whenever there is a subject-supposed-to-know, there occurs the problem of transference (Lacan: 1977, 232). The analysand will gradually realize that the analyst does not know anything. He is a listener who only returns the analysand’s words in an inverted form thus unhiding the truth that was always already there in the speech of the analysand. Therefore, the Lacanian end of analysis consists of a trashing of the subject supposed-to-know or in other words it accomplishes itself by annihilating the transferential supposition of knowledge. In the ‘Overture’ to Seminar I, Lacan evokes the image of the Buddhist master as an analogue:
It behoves the students to find out for themselves the answer to their own questions. The master does not teach ex cathedra a ready made science; he supplies an answer when the students are on the verge of finding it. (Lacan: 1988, 01)
Apart from allowing the students to find their own answers here, the teacher also comes to know the possible answers from the search of the students. He does not know anything on his own; it is the students who impart to him all that he comes to know in course of the pedagogic process. This is a dynamic of teaching which is essentially different from the classroom pedagogy. I think it is this psychoanalytic ethic which comes closest to being a suitable pedagogic framework for teaching Beckett and Beckett himself makes a gesture towards this analytic reciprocity by supplementing knowledge with truth and undercutting the epistemological process with an ontological emphasis. At a more general level, taking into consideration, the revisionary insights of Beckett and Lacan, we can proceed towards building a new pedagogy of the 21st century classroom where the egotistical power games of teaching will be both unveiled and undone.
- Arke Chattopadhyay, "From Acacademy to Aquaquademy: Samuel Beckett and the Challenge to the University Discourse"

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Life Outside the Frame

Most of the things you made for me—blanket-
chest, lapdesk, the armless rocker—I gave
away to friends who could use them and not
be reminded of the hours lost there,
not having been witness to those designs,
the tedious finishes. But I did keep
the mirror, perhaps because like all mirrors,
most of these years it has been invisible,
part of the wall, or defined by reflection—
safe—because reflection, after all, does change.
I hung it here in the front, dark hallway
of this house you will never see, so that
it might magnify the meager light,
become a lesser, backward window. No one
pauses long before it. But this morning,
as I put on my overcoat, then straightened
my hair, I saw outside my face its frame
you made for me, admiring for the first
time the way the cherry you cut and planed
yourself had darkened, just as you said it would.
- Claudia Emerson, "Frame, An Epistle"

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ansel Adams - Visualizing

Shadows of light and darkness
Contrasting images of El Capitan
Half Dome sliced by an ice age glacier

I met him that day in Yosemite
Touched by the unique qualities of his photos
Fine prints are displayed at his gallery

I marveled at his skill
Black and white contrasts
Create spiritual moments and introspection

I brought him home with me
His work now hangs in my office
Ever inspiring, ever grand
-Carolyn Devonshir, "Amazing Art of Ansel Adams" (March 15, 2015)

The "Meaning" of Regret

“We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.”
― Milan Kundera, "Laughable Loves"

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cry Rape!

They say that Leda once found
an egg—
like a hyacinth.
-Sappho of Lesbos

On Swans...and of black feather farmers.

Monday, March 7, 2016

On Deidamia, Achilles' Lover

Achilles too, forsooth, couldn't fight,
Out of Deidamia's Sight;
Oh! how his Stars he oft would bless,
Whilst lay disguis'd in Female Dress;
Among the Royal Fair One's rov'd,
Who highly the Campaign approv'd;
Whilst in their Arms he found Repose,
A Fig for Greece and all her Foes:
- Cornelius Arnold, "The Force of Beauty" (excerpt)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Re-Animated Movement

What a profound difference between living and simply being alive
I could never feel alright living sane
I'd much rather be living out of my mind

Don't you ever get bored, or are you really that easily amused
So apathetic and content without a purpose
This is existence desperately confused

We'll dream dreams of extraordinary men
In extraordinary days
And their extraordinary ways

Then awaken to our TV screens
And praise our fashion queens
The wax wings of mediocrity

Right underneath our noses they've raised an army of plastic men
You might have seen their recruiting posters
I WANT YOU! to be more comfortable than you've ever been

A life lived with reckless abandon is barbarism, or so they've said
Who are they to speak on the matters of living
Just look in their eyes and see that they're already dead

A more beautiful thing than the American Dream
Is a dead man coming back to his senses
Don't get me wrong, I'm a patriot too...
It's just I've got a strange affinity for burning picket fences

I want to go down in flames
I want to be the one
To thrive on sweat and blood
To finish what we've begun
I want every breath to scream
"My purpose is this"
Twelve rounds to knockout
I wont be meaningless.
- Brandan Eliot, "Reanimation for Dummies"

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fightened Rabbit

You knelt on the trail,
hands cradling my head
while I worried about you
worrying about me. The fear
came later.

A rabbit freezes.
The raptor's shadow
darkens a stubbled field.

They arrived quickly,
but I could see your eyes
marking the moments between
steep slope, sled, and ambulance.

Sometimes the falcon
fails, hunger
his only prize.

The patrol moved carefully,
bundling me in a rigid papoose.
Later, you told me you winced
with each turn and bump,
but I welcomed the pain.

The danger passes.
The rabbit quivers
and returns to feed.

The x-ray tech
joked with me
until the films emerged,
damage stark silver
against the black.

Five years later,
I revel in long winter walks,
study lessons written by animal tracks
like hieroglyphs in snow.
- Lisa Janice Cohen, "The Healing"

Friday, February 26, 2016

Your "Spell" is My Desire

Where true Love burns Desire is Love’s pure flame;
It is the reflex of our earthly frame,
That takes its meaning from the nobler part,
And but translates the language of the heart.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Desire"

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Leapin' Lizards!

I am an orphan of the heart,
wandering thin branches,
searching for home.
I could find my legs,
if I didn't fall down
believing in lies,
believing in lies.

I could fly like you, leapin' lizard,
scaling a twig like a highway on a bridge,
holding to tree trunks as if horizontal,
unafraid of gravity, climbing straight up.
Brave little heart, if a fear should enter,
you launch, and you fly,
faith in a leap--
to green exaltation,
across a blue sky.

Please take me with you,
before my heart dies,
as you sing a new song,
through expanded pink throat,
that I may be adopted
by what I now borrow,
the green of your hope
to take heart in tomorrow.
- Memory Trace, "Leapin' Lizard"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This Winter Blues

O winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear’d his sceptre o’er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch! that deal’st
With storms, till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.
- William Blake, "To Winter" (1783)
In the 16th century Caspar Peucer wrote that the Gates of Hell could be found in "the bottomless abyss of Hekla Fell". The belief that Hekla was the gate to Hell persisted until the 1800s.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Over It

The rainbow arches in the sky,
But in the earth it ends;
But if you ask the reason why,
They'll tell you: “That depends.”

It never comes without the rain,
Nor goes without the sun;
But though you try with might and main,
You'll never catch me one.

Perhaps you'll see it once a year,
Perhaps you'll say: “No, twice”;
But every time it does appear,
It's very clean and nice.

If I were God, I'd like to win
At sun-and-moon croquet:
I'd drive the rainbow-wickets in
And ask someone to play.
-David McCord, "The Rainbow"

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Human Toolishness

Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to Alexander with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him; and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many people coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, "Yes," said Diogenes, "stand a little out of my sun." It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, "But truly, if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes."
- Plutarch, "Lives..."

Ignoring "the gap", the "mad" cynic's oversight:
Insofar as symbolic castration is also one of the names of the gap between my immediate stupid being and my symbolic title (recall the proverbial disappointment of an adolescent: is that miserable coward really my father?), and since a symbolic authority can only function insofar as, in a kind of illegitimate short-circuit, this gap is obfuscated and my symbolic authority appears as an immediate property or quality of me as a person, each authority has to protect itself from situations in which this gap becomes palpable. For example, political leaders know very well how to avoid situations in which their impotence would have been revealed; a father knows how to hide from the gaze of his son his humiliating moments (when his boss shouts at him, etc.). What is protected by such strategies of “saving one’s face” is appearance: although I know very well my father is ultimately impotent, I refuse to believe it, which is why the effect of witnessing the open display of his impotence can be so shattering. Such humiliating moments fully deserve to be called “castrating experiences,” not because father is shown castrated-impotent, but because the gap between his miserable reality and his symbolic authority is rendered palpable and can no longer be ignored by way of the fetishist disavowal.

For Hegel, the definition of a king is a subject who accepts this radical decenterment, i.e., to quote Marx, the fact that he is a King because others treat him as a King, not the other way round – otherwise, if he thinks that he is a King “in himself,” he is a madman (recall Lacan’s claim that a madman is not only a beggar who thinks he is a King but also a King who thinks he is a King). According to a legend, during the decisive battle between the Prussian and the Austrian army in the 1866 war, the Prussian king, formally the supreme commander of the Prussian army, who was observing the fight from a nearby hill, looked worried at (what appeared to him) the confusion in front of his eyes, where some of the Prussian troops even seemed to be retreating. General von Moltke, the great Prussian strategist who planned the battle deployment, turned to the King in the middle of this apparent confusion and told him: “May I be the first to congratulate your majesty for a brilliant victory?” This is the gap between S1 and S2 at its purest: the King was the Master, the formal commander totally ignorant of the meaning of what went on in the battlefield, while von Moltke embodied strategic knowledge – although, at the level of actual decisions, the victory was Moltke’s, he was correct in congratulating the King on behalf of whom he was acting. The stupidity of the Master is palpable in this gap between the confusion of the master-figure and the objective-symbolic fact that he already won a brilliant victory. We all know the old joke referring to the enigma of who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays: “Not William Shakespeare, but someone else with the same name.” This is what Lacan means by the “decentered subject,” this is how a subject relates to the name which fixes its symbolic identity: John Smith is (always, by definition, in its very notion) not John Smith, but someone else with the same name.
- Slavoj Žižek, "King, Rabble, Sex, and War in Hegel"