Thursday, September 27, 2007

Archive Series: Locus #13

The end of the Locus series.

Title: Notes

Goode, Blakespotting PMLA 121.3

"Deconstruction teaches us that it is beside the point to speak about taking combinations of words in or out of context b/c language is always already reiterated" (Limited, Inc. 7-8)

Tony Bennett: study "reading formulations": "set of discursive and intertextual determinations that organzie and animate the practice of reading, connecting texts and readers as reading subjects of particular types and texts as objects to be read in particular ways" (Reception Study (comp66)

Wai-Chee Dimmock: texts are "activate and to some extent constituted by the passage of time"

Archive Series: Locus #12

Title: Notes

from "Falling Towers and Postmodern Wild Children: Oliver Sacks, Don Delillo, adn Turns Against Language" PMLA March 2005

343 "These powers [of discourse] are engaged, I would argue, in rolling back the dividedness, multiplicity, and ambiguity that, according to my midrash, God authorized when wthe Tower fo Babel fell. Undivided absolutes of Good and Evil, which were exposed as politcally untenable, if not ridiculous, as the cold war ended, were welcomed back by the Bush administration with relief and delight...This is the characteristic post-apocalyptic symptomatic response: the world of semantic and moral ambiguity has fallen and been swept away; the world of simplicity and clarity has taken its place."

"The logic and desire both of terrorism and of antiterrorism are to restore the imagined former state: of social harmony and perfect correspondence between wor and thing--to rebuild its tower, in no matter how grotesque a form. Every historical catastrophe replays the destruction of Babel, for not only are buildings and lives lost but ways of thinking and speaking are transformed."

344 "Even apparently nonlinguistic entities--the unconscious, the body, nature, sexuality--attain all that they can of identity and ontological and social standing insofar as they are signifiers"

Read Benjamin, "On Language as Such and on the Language of Man" in Reflections
Levinas, Otherwise than being
Pinker, The language instinct
Sacks, An anthropoligist on Mars, The man who mistook his wife for a hat

Archive Series: Locus #11

Here's another of these works in progress. I wonder if I'll ever do this.

Title: Notes toward an annotation

of Guy Davenport's poem "The Resurrection at Cookham Churchyard"


Cookham Churchyard--reference to a painting by Stanley Spencer: Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta"
Sir Jonas Moore Surveryor General of Ordnance 1669-1682
Sarah Tubb
Petronella Elphinstone--Scottish Peer?
Sir Edward Coke--important source for later Pound
Michael Ventris--deciphered Linear B
Edward Lear
Theda Pigbone
Karl Marx
Richard Porson--English Classical scholar 1759-1808
drummers of Tobruk
buglers at... Dunkirk
Leander Homer
the Regimental Band
John Ruskin
Jerusalem (east) Sienna (west) Sparta (south) Oxford (north)
Thomas Peacock
Stanley Spencer
Henry Purcell
Edward Horn
Thomas and Henry Vaughan
Edith Sitwell
Henry Fillmore
Stan Laurel
Sir Arnold Edwar Trevor Box (Bax?)
Sire Thomas Urquhart
Proteus Steinmetz
Christina Rossetti
Pumpelly the traveller
Hugh Miller
Ocatave Maus
Black Roger Casement
Alan Turing
Admiral Sir Frederiick jane
Christopher Smart
John Martin
Boole and Babbage and Bishop Hall
Mrs. Hellis
Charles Doughty
Hooke the witch
Henri and Theodore Roussequ
Camille Bombods
Jacques Teyssot
Baron Ensor of Osterd
John Clare
St. Apollinare
Hadschra Maktuba
Bethel and Highgate
Cana's sudden wine
Ruth at Boaz' feet
Hosios Loukas
Tertrahedons Arachne spun
Tassilia cow, Basundi thighs
Solutrian myrtle leaf
Zophar and Bildad
Entuthon Benython
berly Golgonooza
Atoma mundi
gum of terebinth
Gabriel's shofar
"Hosanna! Adoremsu O/ The silver C sharp trumpets blow"

Archive Series: Locus #10/STL #53

Title: Basho's Narrow Road

I recently compared 4 versions of Basho's Oku-no-hosomichi, a text composed between 1690-94, recounting 1689 journey into Japan's Northern Interior. The best title in English is I think Narrow Road to the Interior, though I've seen Narrow Path to the Deep North, Back Roads to Small Towns, and other translations. My favortie translation is probably's Sam Hamill's, which incorporates sufficient reference on the allusions into the text and balances literal meaning and poetic affect in he haiku translations. (The text is haibun, a combination of prose and poetry. I also like Guy Davenport's interpellation of scenes from the travelogue into his own story, 57 View of Mt. Fuji. Many of the episodes he chose to incorporate turned out to be my favorites as well, which led me to capture 11 moments from Oko-no-hosomichi, only cheating once.

1. The opening (Chapter 1 in the Corman edition)
2. "Joe Buddha" (5)
3. Meeting Sora (7)
4. Guides (the horse and the broad shouldered mountain guide)(8, 32)
5. The famous pine trees (24)
6. 3 generations (30)
7. Fleas and lice (31)
8. The geisha and the monks (41)
9. Sora falls ill (46)
10. Hurriedly leaving the temple (47)
11. The sixth finger on the hand (57)

Archive Series: Locus #9/STL #52

Title: Eleven for Free Comic Book Day (5/6/2006)

1. The crazy world of Alan Moore I: The earliest Moore I know V, Swamp Thing, and Watcmen. I think I commented on Vendetta earlier, and the muck monster isn't quite up to snuff, but I just finished a thorough reading of Watchmen with my class. Actually, I hadn't thought that much of the book after a single reading, but discovering the parallel themes and patterns of imagery on my next two time through with my class really impressed me. Three things that stand out at this moment: the glass of beer being passed between pre-super Dr. Manhattan and his first love Janey, the entirety of chapter nine (the Nostalgia perfume flying through the air), and the last page of chapter 11: 13 panels depicted the end of the world. In the narrow panel we see the digital clock inside a cab: zero hour is 11.25. Next we see the cabbie and her girlfriend framed by the fallout shelter sign and rorschach blots, then the psychologist and his recently reconciled wife, with the blots falling out of his briefcase.Then two guys who work for the Gordian Knot company, then some watches falling out of a hucksters case, then, last panel of the row, the two Bernies. These two are the focus of the next six-panel row. These two opposites (loud/silent, old/young, black/white) embrace as the scene fades to white. There asymmetrical embrace mirrors the lovers spray-painted on the wall, and the Hiroshima shadows burned into the pavement. The last panel is completely white, filling 5/6 of the page and echoing the all black panels ending chapter six. The last word is Shelley's: "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

A good source for thinking about Moore's craft is the three-part Comics Journal article he wrote on how he writes. He discusses idea vs. plot, structure and storytelling, environment and characters, and ends with plotting and breakdowns. Considering his attention to craft, I don't doubt that even his earliest works, like Marvelman and Halo Jones, are worth reading.

2. The crazy world of Alan Moore II: What I mean by magic is the the same as everyone: pulling rabbits our of a hat." Tell that the to Roman snake god Glycon, buddy. Works like From Hell populate Ideaspace, a realm that artists like Moore and his tribe create out of words, images, and wide ranging erudition that is just as real as physical space. He tells Eddie Campbell " Maybe our individual and private consciousness is, in Ideaspace terms, the equivalent of owning an individual and private house, an address, in material space... The space inside our homes is entirely ours, and yet if we step out through the front door we find ourselves in a street, a world, that is mutually accessible and open to anyone...What is it were possible to travel beyond the confines of one's individual mind-space, into the communal outdoors, where one could meet with the minds of other people in a shared space?"Next to read will be Snakes and Ladders, a record of one of his Crowley-esque 'happenings' and his novel Voice from the Fire.

3. The crazy world of Alan Moore III: Easy as ABC. One day I hope to wrap my mind around the fictional universe as field of artistic production. In 1963 and his later ABC line he channels Stan Lee (his ambition, not his little brain) and writes at the level of universe. Especially recommended is Promethea (the name of the cab company in Watchmen, incidentally). Research: what's happening with ABC? Is it ending or is he turning the shop over to his partners and daughters? Is Moore really quitting comics?

4. Eddie Campbell. His depiction of "big hairy Alan Moore" in How to Be an Artist. Useful for lore, but I love the tiny sketches no matter what. Ed's best is still the King Canute crowd, but I'm waiting to read more of his history of humor being serialized in his Egomania.

5. Comics Podcasting: Actually, good 'casts seem to be a rare commodity. I've tried and dropped a fair number, usually dropping them immediately. Two endure:, which is three smart guys talking about what's out and new, and, in which a slightly sycophantic host interviews creators of the mainstream bent.

6. Kurt Busiek, Prince of Fanboys. I'm reading ongoing stories in Superman and Batman books right now, and I'm enjoying Busiek and Geoff Johns's Superman quite a bit. Halfway through so far, with each bit ending on a perfect note. First, de-powered Clark getting beat down in an alley; second, GL offering him a spare power ring; third, Luthor accumulating a big pile of kyrptonite; fourth (the half-way point), Clark looking at his handprint in a train that didn't kill him.

7. WheedonX: "You're Scott Summers. You like homework and vegetables." Great stuff with Peter and Kitty (and Logan's sniffer the next morning).

8. Walking Dead: Started off poorly, I think, too close to 28 Days, but by the end of the first collection I was eager to read further.

9. Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine: Let's you and him fight

10. haughty disdain: O, thou shall be dropped.

11. leisure: an illusion, to be sure, but I did have time to read Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra and Ultimate Elektra today. (The art was pretty, but not much otherwise.)

Archive Series: Locus #8/STL #51

Title: Eleven Poems from BAP 2005

I usually at least skim the annual Best American Poetry, and I tend to find some gems among the too-many poems that start with lines like "The diseased dog lowered her head as I came close..." In recent years, more adventurous poets like Robert Creeley and Lynn Hejinian have edited the collection alternating with safer choices like Robert Hass. This year it's a conservative choice, Paul Muldoon, but there's still plenty to enjoy since most editors at least try to be broad minded. My top eleven (roughly 10% of the 75 poems) began by picking the best of alphabetically determined segments, kicking some off and bringing some in, and then exiling some of the 70+ crowd in favor of newer voices. I like what Charles Wright does, but it's lazy to keep listening to him instead of figuring out what Sarah Manguso is doing.

1. A.R. Ammons, "In View of the Fact." And I must immediately recant, since Ammons is someone I've gotten used to in my 15 years of reading contemporary poetry. I like his relaxed couplets, line breaks on small words, and alternatingly fluid and awkward voice, especially when it bunches on repeated words (like "ourselves ourselves" here). This isn't a great Ammons poem, but it's sad to think he won't be starting off any more anthologies of current work.

2. John Ashbery "In Dearest, Deepest Winter." I wonder how many BAP volumes either Ammons or Ashbery (or the two in sequence) have come at the beginning of? Again, a familiar voice. I almost said "the comfort of a familiar voice" but ambiguity and combination of mundane and disastrous is constant in Ashbery: "What calamity on the second floor could flood us/here on the fifth, and not be gone before morning?"

3. Catherine Bowman. "I Want to Be Your Shoebox." Fun verbal riffing that spins out triplets into a variety of internal rhymes and other effects. My 2 favorite stanzas are "I want to be your moonlit estuary/ want to be your day missing in February/ want to be your floating dock diary" and " want to be your milk money/ want to be your Texas Apiary Honey/ want to be your Texas. Honey"

4. James Cummins, "The Poets March on Washington." This poem uses 8 words in a 4-line stanza repeated (almost) verbatim 3 times. The sole variation is the disappearance of an exclamation mark at the end. Without end punctuation, the poem stays with you a little longer, and you see beyond an apparently silly facade to consider the poet's political role as "unacknowledged legislator."

5. Elaine Equi. "Pre-Raphaelite Pinups." Equi is someone I've always sort-of liked though I've never really explored her work. This poem is a series of 15 captions to absent paintings. You can say something about language as supplement here, blah blah blah. The disjunction also creates a kind of non-sequitor humor ("I never noticed it before,/but that angel's feet are on fire!") on occasion and a constant suggestiveness ("But isn't every story an allegory--/every house strewn with alchemical symbols like these/").

6. Matthea Harvey. "I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run." "The translator made the sign//for twenty horses backing away from/a lump of sugar."

7. Anthony Hecht. "Motes." One of at least 4 dead poets in the book, and the second on the list. I picked him instead of Clayton Eshleman because I wanted to write the formal structure. 5 stanzas, 8 iambic trimeter lines (some anapests and meaningful variation) each, rhyme scheme abcdcbda. The first stanza contains a single sentence observing motes in "late afternoon light." It proceeds somewhat up to the first rhyme, line 5 ("That filled me with delight'), the sudden rhyme reflecting delight in discovering pattern where none had existed. Line 6 is a significant variation to trochaic: the preceding stress reflects the sense of "Lifted by an updraft." The second stanza also contains a complete sentence speculating that the motes are tiny angels in training ("flight school"--the terrorist history an unfortunate connotation). The third and final sentence of the poem unfolds across the final 3 stanzas. Stanza 3 compares the mote/angels to Jacob's dream of a ladder to heaven. All rhymes except a include a long ee sound. Make of that what you will. Stanza 4 begins with an appostion to the comparsion, calling it a method for concealing sad difficult truths from children Does he mean heaven itself? The second half of the stanza is a complete phrase linking the secret kept from children to its discovery by "youth." Note the rhyme pairs "youth" reaches back to truth, "no joy...unwept" to the secret "kept," "fears" to prevented "tears," the "justified" fear to the "well-tried" secret. Stanza 5 is another independent clause and another bummer alluding to Macbeth's "poor player": "They were type-cast in some play/With a far from comic plot--/Grief, selfishness, and war/Crowding its dog-eared pages." Though motes began a pleasant thought with led a gloomy reverie. Overall a well-crafted poem, with an exquisite stanza structure I believe of Hecht's design.

8. Lyn Hejinian, from The Fatalist This book is really a work of editing. It carves poems out of a file of all L.H.'s correspondence over a year. She's one of my most admired writers, so I'll have to give this book sustained attention soon.

9. Sarah Manguso, "Hell." Truth be told, the note at the back helped this poem get in. It explains that "The kind of music I want to continue hearing after I am dead is the kind that makes me think I will be capable of hearing it then" refers to "I See a Darkness" by Will Oldham. Those self-penned blurbs at the back are interesting. I don't think you could sell the series without them, since poetry has such a reputation of being 'hard.' The ones I like are ones that help me place the poet's aesthetic (the orginating journal helps me do that too sometimes.) This seems lazy on my part, but one does need to reserve one's attention for that which will reward it, and the poems you like on first reading aren't necessarily those. The notes that kill a poem for me are long analytical ones. There are two poems I didn't finish reading in this collection because they bored me after I began them and then saw the author took multiple pages explaining it.

10. D. Nurske, "Space Marriage." Science fiction poems are rare outside of genre magazines, and rarely good. This poem doesn't use sf as a metaphor any more than an sf novel would. For example, "We built robots who built robots/that had a little of our hesitation,/ our fatigue, our jealousy,/ our longing for Alpha, peace, nonbeing..." I also like the end "Out of spit and dust/we made two lovers/who set fire to the world."

11. Kevin Young. "Black Cat Blues." A true blues, mournful and comic, cosmic and mundane. "I showed up for jury duty--/turns out the one on trial was me."

Archive Series: Locus #7/ STL #50

Eleven for 4/13/2006

1. Fever: giving over completely to happenstance. Thrashing about, sweating through your shirt and into your sheets, until finally...
2. Recovery: Drinking wine again, drinking coffee
3. Junebug: Like the good version of the horrid Elizabethtown. I think it actually teaches us something about the red/blue divide. Also, I like the lettering in the title. And Will Oldham's in it.
4. Sam Hamill: Translations. Sam Hamill's visit to my Intro to Poetry class 15 years ago was a transformative experience. He talked about poetry as a "gift economy" and recited Kinnell's "The Bear" (making us close our eyes). He talked about Projectivism and the line as a unit of breath, and recited Creeley's "Whale Cakes." He had a man groupie and a woman groupie who chuckled and nodded at the references we didn't understand. He dropped names like John Coltrane and talked about studying the classics, and he knew exactly what these classics were. Over the years I've kept tabs on him, paying attention especially to his translations. I've done comparative readings of his translations from the ancient Greek lyric and from Tu Fu, and find that he balances semantic meaning with strong sonic structures.

The Pleiades disappears,
the pale moon goes down.

After midnight, time blurs:
sleepless, I lie alone (Sappho)
5. Sam Hamill: Poetry. In his own poetry, a lot of his conclusions seem too comforting, too easy. He is also blissfully ignorant of popular culture. (He calls his new selected _Almost Paradise_). But he hews to the clear, simple, and beautiful:
...I love the sound of a storm
without thunder, the way winds
slow, trees darken, heavy clouds
rumbling so softly
you must close your eyes to listen:

then the blotch, blotch
of big drops
plunketing through the leaves.

6. How to Cook Without a Book: so you know why the recipe goes like it does.
7. Smart Playlists: keep track of all that you import into your iTunes library. Keeps a record for the next time you back up your music onto DVD.
8. "You can never hope to grasp the source of our power"
9. David Mamet talking: I like what I've seen of his (mostly movie work) and I love the kinds of pronouncements he makes on the art of drama. "Nobody ever says anything unless they want something from the person they're talking to." (Grotesque paraphrase.)
10. Bonde do Role: That's a slamming MySpace beat!
11. Free wireless. Starbucks doesn't have it? Wha'?

Archive Series: Locus #6/STL #49

This is a format I might want to revive. I like this piece.

Title: Eleven for 3/24/2006

1. 43folders and Lifehacker. I check these "productivity 'pR0n," sites (don't ask) daily. Among the strategic systems (deriving from business management's "Getting Things Done") and tactical modifications there must be something to let me vanquish all the projects I have going and still have time to be culture blogger and hardcore reader. Or so I believe. There are religious ramifications to this cult-like phenomenon I'm sure, but suffice it to say I waste a lot of time reading about how to be more efficient.
2. I got into this when preparing for a computer lab open house. We made a handout of some cool free web apps, with some pedagogical rationale thrown in. This site allows you, the researcher, to peek into the web surfing of others. Once you find a site of interest, you tag it for personal use and then can see what other sites have been tagged in the same way. A vibrant example of the social construction of knowledge.
3. wikis: and speaking of the social construction of knowledge... I'm fitfully revising a paper on using wikis in the classroom as a sort of "text shop" while I'm gearing up for a wiki-based assignment. You'll hear more about this.

next nerdiest
4. Alan Moore: the subject of the wiki-based assignment will be this eccentric magician's Watchmen. I'm re-reading that classic with more pleasure than the first time through. I read V for Vendetta last week in preparation for the dumbed down movie.
5. Legion of Super Heros ("LSH"): In the 31st century, an intergalatic band of super powered teens fight the power of old fogey-dom. The latest in a series of mostly woe-begone "reboot" of a long-running comic book franchise. I loved the dramatic Keith Giffen/ Paul Levitz version from the mid 80's, though my understanding is that subsequent versions fell into the sandtrap of grim and gritty. This version taps into the desire for nostalgia by actually depicting that nostalgia, though at a remove of an additional thousand years.
6. Seven Soldiers of Victory: Maybe the ultimate challenge for a comics writer. Grant Morrison wrote 7 4-issue miniseries on existing C-list characters. Each mini-series is self contained, as is each issue to a degree, but the recurring motifs and characters among the series tell an epic tale (I'm taking this on faith since I'm only half-way through.) This story uses the seriality and multipliciy of the comic book universes as a strength rather than a weakness. It's awesome.

least nerdiest
7. Great Fire of London by Jacques Roubaud. Roubaud is a member of the Oulipo, a group of writers who use self-imposed limitations and procedures to create literature. I haven't figured out the constraints of this book about the loss of the author's wife and the independent life of memory, but it's one of those books (like Cortazar's Hopscotch) which require you to skip from the main narrative to "interpolations" and "bifurcations" in the back. I'll repost on it after I finish.
8. Bob Grenier: This poet is an important fellow traveler of the language poets. I love his Sentences, a box of 3x5 cards which contains poems like

a port to a green


the snow with snow


previously leaves were red

My favorite poem right now is


9. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat. I wouldn't have bought this for myself since I've never been impressed by Rilo Kelly, but the songs, ranging from alt trad country to alt Nashville (and recorded in alt Omaha) really grab me. I especially like the title track.
10. Freaks and Geeks: The least nerdiest thing I'm into this week is a TV show called "Freaks and Geeks." Help me! I had one of those great unintentional marathons last weekend with this show. It's pitch perfect as a period piece, and Linda Cardellini's facial reactions are extraordinary. My favorite episode is the one where it seems that Lindsey is giving up on freakdom and going back to the Matheletes. Though you know this would help her get into a good college, you can't help but think she could be throwing her life away. It's a great great show that I'm in the midst of watching again, so maybe you'll hear about it next week.

staff of life

11. Bread crumb eggs: Encrumb your day old bread in the blender and leave it in a bowl on the counter. When hungry, heat some olive oil in a frying pan, scatter the bread crumbs on top and wait for a quiet sizzle. Crack your eggs on top of them, salt and pepper as normal. When you flip them, they'll be covered with a crust of crumbs (oh, and any herbs you put in as well). Plate the eggs and splash some balsamic vinegar in the pan and scrape this along with remaining crumbs on top.

Archive Series: Locus #5

Title: Other British Poetry

sources: Bunting, Macdiarmind, Jones
opposition to: Larkin, Hill
founders: Ian Hamilton Finlay, J. H. Prynne, Lee Harwood

some names: John Agard (Mangoes and Bullets), Thomas A. Clark,
Andrew Crozier, Peter Finch, Alan Halsey (Robin Hood Book), Tom Pickard, Tom Raworth, Peter Riley, Maurice Scully, Gael Turnbull (A Gathering PR 6070 U 67), Catharine Walsh

Archive Series: Locus #3

I won't republish notes that have fulfilled their purpose or are better used elsewhere.

Title: Weird Poetics

sketch of an idea based on okay-ish article I read

His syllabus: Trakl, Ryokan, Artaud, Baitaille, Lautremont, Holderlin, Archilochos, Lenore Kandel, Gabe Gudding, tho I probably wouldn't include this list exactly: Hannah Weiner I would tho. The "weird" frame wd appeal to the kids, it cuts way across periods. Include "Old Weird America" delininated by Marcus.

Archive Series: Locus #1

Locus was a shorter-lived, less formal blog project. My emphasis was more on development than the finished essays of STL (The STL archives series will continue anon).

Title: Beats
n.d., 2005-6

I'd take this class.

Possible Texts:
Brossard, Who Walk in Darkness
Dylan, Chronicles (ch 1-2: great Greenwich Village context)
Rexroth, poems
Ginsburg, Howl
Kerouac, On the Road and Dharma Bums
Cortazar, Hopscotch

Recreate geographies of beat-dom. Foci: Greenwich Village (Brossard, Dylan provides excellent background), SF (City Lights reading), and an unexpected location like Dallas or Denver.