Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Gun Goes on Thinking of the Violence Done to Meaning

  • Woke up with Superchunk in head
  • A (not mine) bleggalgaze
  • The kill-joy speaks
  • The coming homelessness and hunger apocalypse in America
  • Today in compare and contrast: Pompeo v Biden
  • Cotherfucking mops
  • Some good news
  • Two days late (my fault): Maggie's weekly links
  • Larry Eigner, for those of you who do 
  • I know nothing about Duckworth other than I do not want to potentially spend the next twelve years of my life with that hideous Debbie Reynold's song in my head
  • Two day's late (my fault): { feuilleton }'s weekly links
  • Some faculty members wrote a lovely email to a colleague of mine praising the Library's work in general during lockdown and singling out me in particular, I begged the colleague not to share it with the Library's Dean but she did, and the Library's Dean sent me a lovely email thanking me for my work, she cced my boss Bookkeeper, nothing pisses off Bookkeeper more, or gets me doghoused faster, than acknowledgment for the job I do by the people I do it for, so that's my week in work as fine metaphor abounding
  • Grid logic



Susan Howe

When I love a thing I want it and I try to get it. Abstraction of the particular from the universal is the entrance into evil. Love, a binding force, is both envy and emulation. HE (the Puritan God) is a realm of mystery and will always remain
unknowable, authoritarian, unpredictable. Between revealed will and secret will Love has been torn in two.

     DUALISM: Pythagoras said that all things were divisible into two genera, good and evil; in the genus of good things he classified all perfect things such as light, males, repose, and so forth, whereas in the genus of evil he classified darkness, females, and so forth.
                              (Thomas Aquinas, “On the Power of God,” p. 84)

     Promethean aspiration: To be a woman and a Pythagorean. What is the communal vision of poetry if you are curved, odd, indefinite, irregular, feminine. I go in disguise. Soul under stress, thread of connection broken, fusion of love and
knowledge broken, visionary energy lost, Dickinson means this to be an ugly verse. First I find myself a Slave, next I understand my slavery, finally I re-discover myself at liberty inside the confines of known necessity. Gun goes on thinking of the violence done to meaning. Gun watches herself watching.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Or Does theTape Say “Viscousness,” Syntax Behaving Like a Solid, Providing Light and Ventilation

  • Snyder was certainly warned this kaboom inevitable and offered a less disgraceful off-ramp
  • He made them do it
  • I've lived here my remembered life
  • I was a fan, avid
  • Landru and I watched games together most Sunday afternoons for years, the 70s, maybe a third of the 80s
  • There was no apostasy, I started hiking Sundays with Earthgirl
  • Helmetball hate in general, hating Snyder in particular, credit Snyder*  
  • the half-assed psychopath desperate to join Team Sociopath
  • (*also too late-capitalism)

  • Please keep burgundy and gold

  1. Another old flag, my favorite
  2. Thinging our hway thru the universe
  3. I thought helmetball the perfect American metaphor until Diaper King's rally at a desecrated Lakota holy site, Diaper King's crackers telling protesting Lakota to "go back where you came from"
  4. Moral accountability and implicated subjects fromYugoslavia to Trump
  5. On crackers defending their mansions 
  6. Fiction and responsibility
  7. On cracker family members
  8. Meanwhile, it's 100 degrees in arctic Siberia
  9. July 4th
  10. Philip Roth's last laugh
  11. What football teaches us
  12. He used an algorithm to help him write a story 
  13. I did not know Elvis Costello wrote the lyrics to Wyatt's Shipbuilding
  14. Lerner (poem below) thoroughly Ashberyized
  15. UPDATE! Also Tate, so much Tate (Update: even if I have read Tate of late)


Ben Lerner

At some point I realized the questions were the same questions. I’m studying implicit race bias in toddlers. I’m tracking the advent of the credit economy. The implication for folk music of the fact that stars don’t twinkle—the apparent perturbation of stars is just a fluctuation in the medium—is something we want to understand. We want to understand the way it changes our memories of bedtime, for instance. A green flash. Twinkle twinkle. That’s funny, a man in the atrium says, I’m studying the same question. In different terms. I’m living out that question as kindly as possible; in fact, that’s why I’m here today volunteering. You have to admit, the staff is doing an excellent job. Then he sips his tea in a paper cup. Then he describes an experience of defibrillation. The other day I went to see the realignment of a permanent collection; abstraction had been demoted. I had complicated thoughts about it, which I carried into the winter sun, where I realized: that’s the same question, pressing my face into her inner thigh. Calling a friend in agony. For folk music, the implications are profound. Rhythm shapes feeling. That way abstraction can rise again, rinsed of dominance, a blue rinse for the tradition, little star. Only then is it possible to pose the question, cup the question, blow on it gently. Is recumbency necessary to facilitate analytic revelry. Is your mom really capable of hearing you, given her level of anxiety. To use an example from my own life, I sleep with my head under the pillow. I think it’s pretty common for men my age. But do we have a sufficient account of those rhythms of behavior as they spread out across a generation. Now a purpose for the arts comes into focus, leaving a bright halo around the body. The way psychoanalysis lacks an account of nut milks. How the term labor plays about the lips of humanists. I develop predictive technologies for complex scenarios. I slow down popular songs and play them over footage of sunflowers tracking east. That’s funny, a man says. When I was a kid I thought all the skyscrapers were department stores, imagined the top floors were devoted to toys, and when the towers came down I kept imagining large stuffed animals in a panic, a few leaping to their deaths. The moon is not the sun at night. How I wonder what you are. Many stones contain small amounts of poison and the nectarine is no exception. These are things I’ve never said out loud before, how much his personality depends upon holding a hot drink, a small continuous exhibition of care that contrasts with the viciousness of his speech. Wool has more body than rayon. Or does the tape say “viscousness,” syntax behaving like a solid, providing light and ventilation. As a blue flame spreads across a shallow liquid spill, I’m trying to imagine a lullaby that scales. I was taught this printing method in a dream. It contains a hidden countermelody. All I remember from your course, she told me, is that the rose is obsolete. We’d run into each other on the Queens-bound G, and I couldn’t figure out if I should ask her about the bruising on her neck and face. We emerged out of the tunnel into winter sun and around her body a bright halo formed. Can I ask you a personal question. Have you ever felt like your speech is being dictated by phonological associations to such a degree that even—or maybe especially—in your most intimate relationships, the content of your utterances is driven by the demands of acoustical shape. This troubles inwardness. This opens onto the problems of consent. Auditory memory traces are subject to rapid decay, like a diamond in the sky. Rose was my maternal grandmother’s name. Her parents had a small grocery store in Brooklyn. They hired a driver for deliveries who came highly recommended. But—as they learned only after he struck and killed a pedestrian—he had no license. They were sued and lost everything. My great-grandfather went more or less insane. He also suffered from boils. My great-grandmother died from tuberculosis in a sanitorium with concrete floors. Neither spoke English. Rose had to raise her younger brother John in poverty, more or less alone. Many years later, John—who by this point was a pioneering anthologist of folk music—was hit and killed by a Hasidic Jew hurrying home for the Sabbath. Late in Rose’s life, these two car accidents became confused in her mind. Her father had hired a Hasidic Jew who struck and killed her baby brother. But that’s not why I’m telling you this story, she said. When Rose was in an assisted living home in Cambridge, she became convinced that the staff were sneaking into her room and subtly altering her paintings. Taking the canvases out of the frames, adding another outline around the apples and pears, restoring the paintings to their places. My cousin would always argue with her: Are you crazy, who would do such a thing, nobody is touching your paintings. This went on for around a year. Until one day my dad—we were all in town for her ninetieth birthday—got up from his chair, walked to the wall, removed his glasses, inspected the artworks carefully, and said: Well, Rose, you are the one who really knows these paintings. You’ve had them for sixty years. So if you say they are being manipulated, I’m sure you’re right. But you have to admit, the staff is doing an excellent job. How carefully they’re reinserting the paper into the frame. No smudges on the glass. Rose thought for a moment. You’re right, she said, they are doing an excellent job. And she never complained about the staff again. I think this offers us a model of the art critic, if not an itinerary for art criticism, during a crisis in long-term care. Have you noticed how many stories about the power of art are really about the power of institutions, showrooms of the spirit. Here you are, a traveler in the dark. Its most prominent feature is a retractable shell. I prefer the corrosion of metals to the fading of dyes, less the end of an era than its bedtime. Someday it will have to be told how anti-Stalinism, which started out more or less as Trotskyism, turned into art for art’s sake, and thereby cleared the way, heroically, for what was to come: nuisance animals climbing honeycomb structures. Fentanyl overdose vids. I’m studying how glare light scatters in the eye. I’m tracking how expressions of dissatisfaction with the given world can be recuperated by sonic patterning. The bruised idealism of the nectarine. Before a physical confrontation, the girls at my high school used to remove their rings. A ceremony of great solemnity and tenderness. Like one of those children’s singing games that’s also an artifact of pagan survivalism. Eccentric circles, clapping, buffoonery. Or like a candle visualization relaxation technique designed to counter the gender panic threatening meaningful interdisciplinarity. Sample sentences, pop-up affects. We were walking on the beach at sunset, hoping to see a green flash. My cousin was explaining a difficulty in his marriage, which he kept referring to as a “sticking point.” I feel less like I’m living my life, he said, than displaying my life’s elements. That he didn’t attempt to kill the mosquito that had landed on his arm struck me as an indication of the depth of his depression. It was then that I began to ask: What do the things we spare reveal. Now I ask that at the end of every session. It was then I noticed a gunmetal drone hovering a few feet above us. The atmosphere bends the sunlight, separating the light into its colors, much like a prism bends and splits sunlight into rainbows. That way abstraction can rise again. I told him: I think you’re confusing two accidents, those of birth and those of glass. Any long-term relationship is going to involve weeping, crizzling, spalling. If conservators had their way, nothing would ever be exhibited in the atrium. Every minute near sunset, brightness changes by a factor of two, so an error of sixty seconds can do permanent damage. He nodded absently, the fentanyl having its effect. At cloud tops, over distant mountains, beneath very strong thermal inversions at high latitudes: little star. I can feel it getting away from me. A sense of ripe conditions, but not for anything. A sense of oceans and old trees. Then a powerful institution approached a friend of mine about curating an exhibition based on their permanent collection. You can have, they said, free rein. Over the course of a year, she drew up plans for a show organized around the halo. How do depictions of the halo change as pictorial space grows complex. When are halos only light and when do they possess implied mass. Are some figures aware of their halos or are they always extradiegetic. She wouldn’t really talk about anything else, even as her partner’s condition worsened. But increasingly there were problems with the institution; shipping, for instance, was a sticking point. The radiant discs have to be continuously irrigated. Sterile ice has to be packed into the cavities. You have to come up with a fair scoring system for pediatric candidates. Finally, we were having our monthly lunch, and she was complaining, as ever, about the staff, when I just kind of blurted out: Emma, it’s never going to happen. Olivia, it’s never going to happen. Mia, there’s just no way. All of the most popular baby names end in “a.” As in sparkling rosé. Wild fennel pollen. Stone fruit tossed with salt, bay leaf, and coriander seeds. Think of the head as the lid of a pot, holding the flavor of the shrimp inside its body. Isla, Olivia, Aurora, Cora, Ada, Amara, I said, as she started to cry. The water in our glasses trembled as the G train passed beneath us, little perturbations in the medium. Someday it will have to be told how spider monkeys, who started out more or less as woolly monkeys, evolved a distinct system of locomotion, and thereby cleared the way, heroically, for what was to come: anonymity networks. Among my friends, at least my guy friends, a return to traditional prosody. But of course we never talk about me; we talk about whether you’re going to get shit on Twitter for folding in the aureola. Is it better to be sponsored by the diocese or Big Tobacco. Can we secure a couple of big names for the catalog. Bring me up to speed about your volunteer work at the hospital, you say, when the espressos arrive. Meanwhile your partner is sinking deeper into her memory foam, texting you the latest article about microdosing. Maybe this will help, sad emoji. The self-absorption is staggering. The orator aims to bend the spirit by his speech. Rhythm shapes feeling. I pushed my chair back, a gesture totally unlike me, and threw a couple of twenties on the table. Then I found myself on Fulton Street, dazed in winter sun, more than a little drunk. Only when I dug my hands into my pockets and touched the unfamiliar gloves did I realize I’d taken someone else’s black wool coat. But I couldn’t just go back into the restaurant after the scene I’d made. I headed toward Fort Greene Park and sat on one of the benches near DeKalb. I felt around the pockets of the coat and found a pack of Vogue cigarettes, the slim British ones marketed to women. While I smoked, I looked through the wallet, which I’d located in the inside pocket. Cash, cards, dry-cleaning ticket, etc. There was also a piece of brown paper that I unfolded, revealing the following handwritten note in purple ink: I know we’ve had a difficult year, but I want you to know that I love you. I will always love you. What happened in Denver will never happen again. If anything, it has only clarified for me how important you are to me. I think the way things started was confusing—your being my teacher. And then when my career took off the dynamic was suddenly reversed. The change was hard for both of us, especially with all the travel. I also see now how it stirred up a lot of stuff from childhood. I just started questioning everything. I’m sure this happens in any long-term relationship, but maybe it’s worse now, for our generation, because of climate change. Anyway, I’m not trying to excuse what I did. I just want you to know that I believe in you and I believe in us and I’m looking forward to the adventures the new year will bring. I looked up from the note with tears in my eyes. A siren receded in the distance. The sun seemed suddenly lower in the sky. A large white dog on a leash brushed against my legs as it passed. All of my anger was gone. The message, I felt, was meant for me; folk music is for all of us.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Quacking, Quacking Like a Scarf

  • Early past March visiting Planet in Michigan
  • on the Sunday morning before we left for airport 
  • Earthgirl and I met Planet and Air and Air's parents for brunch in Chelsea 
  • Walking to the restaurant we passed a store selling local hand-crafted Duckdogs (and other stuff, some remarkable but not duckdogs) (it
  • fascinates me why my head just duckdogged not dogducked, why did I automatically name Duckdog Duckdog and never occur to me to name Duckdog 
  • Dogduck) the store had just opened, bought
  • We left Chelsea directly for the airport
  • gave Dogduck to Planet for assured safekeeping
  • hugged her goodbye in Chelsea Michigan four months ago and haven't hugged her since much less picked up and brought home Dogduck as I would have without this plague
  • Planet mailed me Dogduck (with help by Air's amazing boxing skills)
  • arrived yesterday, my newest favorite object, meet Dogduck


James Tate

The directions to the lunatic asylum were confusing,
more likely they were the random associations
and confused ramblings of a lunatic.
We arrived three hours late for lunch
and the lunatics were stacked up on their shelves,
quite neatly, I might add, giving credit where credit is due.
The orderlies were clearly very orderly, and they
should receive all the credit that is their due.
When I asked one of the doctors for a corkscrew
he produced one without a moment's hesitation.
And it was a corkscrew of the finest craftsmanship,
very shiny and bright not unlike the doctor himself.
'We'll be conducting our picnic under the great oak
beginning in just a few minutes, and if you'd care
to join us we'd be most honored. However, I understand
you have your obligations and responsibilities,
and if you would prefer to simply visit with us
from time to time, between patients, our invitation
is nothing if not flexible. And, we shan't be the least slighted
or offended in any way if, due to your heavy load,
we are altogether deprived of the pleasure
of exchanging a few anecdotes, regarding the mentally ill,
depraved, diseased, the purely knavish, you in your bughouse,
if you'll pardon my vernacular, O yes, and we in our crackbrain
daily rounds, there are so many gone potty everywhere we roam,
not to mention in one's own home, dead moonstruck.
Well, well, indeed we would have many notes to compare
if you could find the time to join us after your injections.'
My invitation was spoken in the evenest tones,
but midway through it I began to suspect I was addressing
an imposter. I returned the corkscrew in a nonthreatening manner.
What, for instance, I asked myself, would a doctor, a doctor of the mind,
be doing with a cordscrew in his pocket?
This was a very sick man, one might even say dangerous.
I began moving away cautiously, never taking my eyes off of him.
His right eyelid was twitching guiltily, or at least anxiously,
and his smock flapping slightly in the wind.
Several members of our party were mingling with the nurses
down by the duck pond, and my grip on the situation
was loosening, the planks in my picnic platform were rotting.
I was thinking about the potato salad in an unstable environment.
A weeping spell was about to overtake me.
I was very close to howling and gnashing the gladiola.
I noticed the great calm of the clouds overhead.
And below, several nurses appeared to me in need of nursing.
The psychopaths were stirring from their naps,
I should say, their postprandial slumbers.
They were lumbering through the pines like inordinately sad moose.
Who could eat liverwurst at a time like this?
But, then again, what's a picnic without pathos?
Lacking a way home, I adjusted the flap in my head and duck-walked
down to the pond and into the pond and began gliding
around in circles, quacking, quacking like a scarf.
Inside the belly of that image I began
recycling like a sorry whim, sincerest regrets
are always best.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I Reached for the Phone and Fell Over Dead

  • Reminder: we're just in the top of the first, one out
  • Earthgirl and I won't be hiking up The Gorge to top of Cadillac in three weeks, I'm betting
  • Reminder: we're just in the top of the first, one out
  • That guy who rented us the marina house in Deale thirty-five years ago so we could find out if we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together (and is still a family friend) would drive a Florida golf cart for Trump if he had a golf cart and lived in Florida, his kids won't talk to him unless they absolutely MUST, he's driving the person I'm related to by marriage nuts
  • Dick Cheney wore a mask then latest Russian shitspigot began spewing
  • We won't remember by Friday (I know that's an eternity these days but I think this one has legs. or at least the deep pockets of the frumpian Republicans that run the Democratic Party's organ-grinders...)
  • Reminder: we're just in the top of the first, one out
  • Reminder: we're just in the top of the first, one out
  • Old flag:


James Tate

I was playing with Peapod, when I suddenly grabbed my head and fell
to the floor. The cat came over and sniffed me, but soon got bored and walked
away. I squirmed and tossed and finally lay still. I reached up to my
head and felt something clinging to my skull. I pulled and pulled, but
it wouldn’t come off. Finally, I was able to pinch it off. It was a beetle
of some sort, huge and ugly. I got up and threw it in the trash, but only
after I was certain it was dead. I felt dizzy and couldn’t walk straight
for a minute. I sat down at the kitchen table and soon felt better. I
reached for my insect book and looked it up. It was a Yellow Bellied Sawbuck
from Brazil. It said it can kill you if attached to the skin for 24 hours.
I had no idea how long this one had been attached. I certainly hoped it had
been less than 24 hours, but how would I know. I had been to a concert of
Brazilian music a few days ago, and I supposed I had picked it up there. I
poured myself a glass of milk. Peapod came over and I scratched his head.
He rubbed himself against my leg. I tried to stand, but felt wobbly. Then
I took a couple of steps and felt better. I made it to the bathroom and
relieved myself. On the way back I felt faint and propped myself against
the wall. I sat down on the floor and held my head. My head was spinning.
I thought I was going to faint. I sat like that for twenty minutes or more.
Then I tried standing and I was okay. Peapod wanted to play and I tossed the ball
for him. I sat down at the kitchen table again. I reached for the phone and
fell over dead, or at least I thought I was dead. I must have lay like that for
an hour or so. Then Peapod came over and jumped on the table and bit me
on the nose. I wriggled around and opened my eyes. So this is heaven, I
thought. It’s just my home, though I think I like it better.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

And So We Played Golf and Everything Was Back to Normal

Me yesterday on Cornfield Hike

  • We're exploring the Shaeffer Farm mountain bike trail maze, in Moco but State Park land, mountain biking clubs built and maintained, very excellent, why did we not do this before?
  • We tried twice before a few years ago, on weekends, good weather weekends, see the trail in above photo, two-fifths of the twenty plus miles of Shaeffer Farm are that narrow, some steep, blind curves, the people who bike here know how to bike, I've nothing bad to say about the bikers, it's their park, but the two long ago weekends we spent diving into briars to avoid being hit kept us away until now
  • so weekdays now, saw NOBODY yesterday, was medicine
  • Six mile long Yellow Trail passes through a half mile of cornfield, what's almost head high now was only knee high two weeks ago
  • The trails weave around working cornfields and up and down densely green and steep and wet and gorgeous wooded stream hollows, the most consistently spectacular woods in Moco
  • Boots get wet, streams need fording, there are no bridges, no stepping stones, wear old boots
  • Driving home my 2013 Subaru hit a milestone at River and Falls stoplight

  • More of that magical learning more about something the bigger its smaller gets, this hiking Moco
  • Agnothesia: n. the state of not knowing how you really feel about something, which forces you to sift through clues hidden in your behavior, as if you were some other person—noticing a twist of acid in your voice, an obscene amount of effort put into something trifling, or an inexplicable weight on your shoulders that makes it difficult to get out of bed
  • If I didn't keep two cemeteries on the blogroll I may have missed Dictionary's first post in nine months, I email now and then old buds blogdead, hibernating, sleeping in blog purgatory, crickets 
  • Hiking with Earthgirl best medicine yes, stirred life in the blog's mortuary medicine too, my annual June flu abating, thanks for tolerating, angry aggregator returning, plus this weekend's forgotten band:



James Tate

Hovering over me all night was some kind of spirit. I didn’t know
who or what it was, but it made me uncomfortable. When I got up in
the morning, I felt drained and beaten. I looked around, but there was
nothing there. I needed something, but I didn’t know what, a rock, some-
thing to bang my head against. I drank a glass of water, then another
glass, then another. Then I felt a fly buzzing inside me. I needed to
kill it. I stood on my head and managed to spit him out. Then I walked
into a wall and fell down. I lay there for a while dreaming I was
in a bumper car, banging this way and that. Then I stood up, shaking my
head. I walked to the couch and sat down. Everything was clear and
bright. I was OK now. I looked out the window. A dark cloud came over.
I sat there twiddling my thumbs. I knew I was supposed to do something,
but I couldn’t remember what it was. Oh, yes, I was supposed to buy my
mother a birthday present today. I tried to think of something. I could
buy her a parrot, or a monkey, or a snake. None of them seemed right,
because my mother had been dead for ten years, or was it twenty? Oh well,
forget about the present. I was supposed to do something else, but what
was it? I was supposed to go to work, that’s it! But what was my job?
I didn’t know. A carpenter? A plumber? I didn’t think so. I went
back to twiddling my thumbs. I was pretty good at it, but nobody was going
to pay me. I decided not to worry about it. Maybe I was senile. I knew
my name and address. I didn’t think so. I knew my mother’s birthday.
I was an out-of-work genius! There was a knock on the door. “Hello Jack.”
“Hi Bob.” “Have you got your golf clubs?” “Oh yes, I’ll get them.” And so
we played golf and everything was back to normal.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Spastic Clicking of Jerked Knees

  • My mother would have been 86 today
  • My family packs Father's Day, SeatSix's birthday, my mother's birthday, my parents' anniversary, Earthgirl and my anniversary, my father's birthday into five weeks, first time through without my mother, first time through in time of plague
  • So that and the end of the academic year (and anxiety about the academic year ahead)
  • To make matters worse,  at work plague has revealed to those above my immediate report that I'm valuable, especially on projects directly related to the plague, I was invisible when present in the building before the plague and am now visible if not in the building because of the plague, I don't mind the work, I hate the zoom but more something I can't type here, I shouldn't have typed this, and won't write in tablet

  • Also too the viral Obama and Biden video praising GWB for civility while Bill Barr openly - openly - energetically works to create a police state
  • , while... etc, I...
  • I finished the rereads of first two of Mantel's Cromwell trilogy and finding myself unable to stop thinking about the new third I started reading it, I can't unsee the twenty pages, not bad, just not now, digest the first two first
  • mentioned because (Cromwell had something on everyone even if it was only his thumb) I can't help think Bill Barr when I read Mantel's Cromwell, I wonder if Barr's read all three, sees (a textbook) the resemblance I see, knows the ending of the third
  • For the blanks above the Noveller, think that gag I ran for a week when typing about motherfucking professional Democrats.
  • My apologies, I hope to unclog and reblog as the plague cog I am, a return to aggressively angry aggravating aggregator soon, or at least by the end of June


Tom Clark

Always behind my back I hear
The spastic clicking of jerked knees
And other automatic reactions
Tracking me through the years to where
Time’s winged chariot is double
Parked near the eternity frontier
And in such moments I want to participate
In human life less and less
But when I do the obligatory double take
And glance behind me into the dark green future
All I see stretching out are vast
Arizona republics of more