Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spinosa, Fanon, Baldwin, James

 Spinosa, Fanon,
 Baldwin, James.
 What do they read,
 these summer days.

 There never was
 a youth without
 a summer.


We see plenty of summers,
staged. This doesn't work.
She doesn't accept reservations.

Saturday commute xxxix: finding value at the flea market

Have I said, I love my camera? This is not foolish, I think, because my camera can handle it. It is by far the most neutral support I've ever known - much more, for example, than a well-placed reading chair - for finding value. It does this by stripping everything I see of what I see in it; restores my world as a flea market. When, as we see, the existence takes place of a book by Richard Cheney, my camera gives me the world as it is, impervious to it. That it gives me a world imper-vious to me, while it's at it, is an observation I can accept from my camera. I go out sometimes with fresh film in my camera, expose it, and ignore its development. I went out to see.

But of all things, my camera is the very most steeped in context; its neutrality is rigidly enslaved to empiricism. It cannot give me this picture, yet this is by all means the most popular style of seeing that dwells in the human mind. We know this, and this is why fear was created, to let us know what to expect from seeing in this mode when it is exuberant.
We learn this terror at an extremely young age, and it exerts an endless warp. Why do I love my viewfinder for restoring the original act of play, only to leave me isolated?

Because I see, I am not? But delight of seeing empirically is still, delight, and how much of this is tolerable before the mind recalls its conditioned reflex to that state? This is not a marginal question; this goes to the heart of what pleasure is, whether in corrupted vision or in a camera's transparent registrations. If I give myself license to extend my pleasure because I deem its vision to be harmless, have I taken Richard Cheney's view with me?

I cannot fear pleasure that asks what it is. Empiricism happens to lack a crucial element of Richard Cheney's vision: tautology. My cam-era is redundant in mode, but not in discovery. 

It is, however, not necessary, that a man should forbear to write, till he has discovered some truth un-known before; he may be sufficient-ly useful, by only diversifying the surface of knowledge, and luring the mind by a new appearance to a second view of those beauties which it had passed over inattentively before.

Samuel Johnson
The Idler
26 February 1754


Friday, September 2, 2011

Mr Cheney has a book out, and it is quite exciting enough

Scarce any thing awakens attention like a tale of cruelty. The writer of news never fails in the intermission of action to tell how the enemies murdered children and ravished virgins; and if the scene of action be somewhat distant, scalps half the inhabitants of a province.

Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages. A peace will equally leave the warrior and relator of wars destitute of employment; and I know not whether more is to be dreaded from streets filled with soldiers accustomed to plunder, or from garrets filled with scribblers accustomed to lie.

We do not disturb ourselves with the detection of fallacies which do us no harm, nor willingly decline a pleasing effect to investigate its cause. He that is happy, by whatever means, desires nothing but the continuance of happiness, and is no more solicitous to distribute his sensations into their proper species, than the common gazer on the beauties of spring to separate light into its individual rays.

An incongruous mode for a great memoir of state? Samuel Johnson, no idiot and no ingenue in neurological intervention, has written the only review worth contemplating of the volume in question. He understood and spelled out the astuteness of the demagoguery condensed within its pages, as the gift of pleasure to a client imploring its own debauchery. From soccer moms to credulous boys, from the intellectual Junkers at The New York Times and The New Yorker to the rabid degenerates of Fox, that regime was all but flawless in its manipulations. You watched, I watched, awestruck that they were getting away with it. And it is happening again. Mr Kerry, a student tapped for the elitest society at the University of Virginia once explained to me, "is just not exciting enough." 

My god. Just not exciting enough.

Samuel Johnson
Selected Writings
Patrick Cruttwell, editor
The Idler
 i, ii  11 November  1758
 iii     9 September 1758
Penguin, 1968©

Thursday evening could have gone better, I guess

  He put the coffee
  In the cup
  He put the milk
  In the cup of coffee
  He put the sugar
  In the café au lait
  With the coffee spoon
  He stirred
  He drank the café au lait
  And he set down the cup
  Without a word to me
  He lit
  A cigarette
  He made smoke-rings
  With the smoke
  He put the ashes
  In the ash-tray
  Without a word to me
  He got up
  He put
  His hat upon his head
  He put his raincoat on
  Because it was raining
  And he left
  In the rain
  Without a word
  Without a look at me
  And I  I took
  My head in my hand
  And I cried.

Sometimes the balloon does not go up, sometimes it goes where one least expects - except that misdirection is to be expected. One can take the elaboratest precautions to defy the fact, without changing it: one is not the balloon. I deny that the play is ill judged, and I know better than to deny tears. One can manipulate ballast, jettison things, adjust the inflation; one can exercise a good deal of control, or less, which is only harder; but when the mooring is lifted, publication is a balloon. I like it when the balloon goes up, and when it does not, there can be suffering, but no regret. I am a balloonist.

That figure who enjoyed my coffee, smoked in my house, got up and left? I figure, he knew that, and already knew or quickly discovered, ballooning is not for him. Here's a publication which will gain, on any given occasion, the most intense referral, igniting a spontaneous blaze for a single insertion, which originally may simply smoulder in a corner somewhere, for weeks. Comparatively few people habituate this publication, but I do know something about them all. They are balloonists, too. I have one in particular in mind, who can help to illuminate this lark, and who happens to inspire its argument.

Beyond any doubt, he is a cultivated master of his craft, but his passion is to suspend all of that in the pursuit (I beg you to believe) of surfable waves, a species of ballooning known for saltier countenances than our aerialism allows. He writes to me, that the season at his favourite marine haunt is somewhat tepid this year, that they have had years of finer waves - vintages, can you stand it, pretty much exactly as Virgil said; but the company has been marvelous. This is our tendency. If you will the risk, to be tumbled or stolen aloft, you will the company; and sometimes, you must be. 

This morning, then, dispatching the spent coffee and airing out the place from that nervous cigarette, already there are readers who have scattered, and frankly the vestigial company is marvelous. Here, text is not a verb, and only a piece of the noun, which is context; and that is where the balloon, the surfboard is drawn. It's Friday, but the game is still ballooning. We gauge the wave. We pick our breeze; and both are always volatile. The thing is, to let go the line. Faites vos jeux.

The balloon may go up.

Jacques Prévert
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, translation
City Lights Books, 1958©


Thursday, September 1, 2011

What compels the righteous to renounce the soul?


So will I compass thine altar, O Lord: That I may publish with the voice of Thanksgiving.

     Thine altar is to me this bathtub
     where my four-year-old twin
     girls tip back their heads.
     They close their eyes.
     I read their faces from above,
     in trust and fear, in holiness,
     has touched their hairlines, cautious.
     Look: their hair flows underwater
     like the scrolls unfurled in heaven.

Psalm 26
Translation from the Greek by
  Brooks Haxton

Brooks Haxton
  Antiphonies to Psalms
op. cit.

Alexander Agricola
1445 - 1506
Motet, Nobis Sancti Spiritus
San Francisco Chanticleer
Chanticleer Records, 1993©

Only two more days of dreadful office lighting and air

you can handle it, tiger

    it isn't forever

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Window, obligation

Linnea has published something very fine about living with forgotten people, which follows upon recent comments on convalescing. I would borrow her words, because they cannot be improved, but it's obligatory to use one's own to commend her statement to readers here. I'm grateful that she accepts our mode.

I have an impression she does not put forth, that what is seen beyond a window is assimilated by means we associate with the operation of memory, interpolated by the pane, possibly intensified by the frame. It follows that beyond a window - as through a lens - there is a readily recognisable element, whether we've taken that view before or not, to which we bear a virtually remembered relationship. I believe our universal resort to windows, that shared experience, allows us more than a hypothetical aperture to recognise each other. All that is needed to see another, is to see his window. Our morals, enjoining respect, ought not to deprive us of sight. 

So you want a film festival and yet you must go by land ii

That is definitely cheating.

  Just sayin'.

So you want a film festival and yet you must go by land

Even then,
Venice is


           worst case,
           "we'll always
           have video."

somehow, one can't
hear Bogart say-
ing that.

So you want a film festival ii



   pace of the fast

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So you want a film festival

Here comes another festival in Venice. You can sort of tell. The pool at the Cipriani is roped off, for insurance reasons. You can't get a drink at the Gritti, and nobody will empty your ashtray. They're looking for faces. And who isn't. They can look all they want. 

There are Lions of Venice, minted every year. And there are lions. Yes, there are. 

Are you in Church now, dear man? Is your Quaker wedding concluded, and are you still in your white shirt, cufflinked? Does your watch chain sweep clear of your cartridge belt, and do you know the time? Have you come to this arena, of all places, combed as you are, with hope? 

Then give people that. Change the world, if that's not asking too much; and be the face of it.

Mr Cooper in Venice

Fred Zinneman, director
Carl Foreman, screenplay
Floyd Crosby, cinematography
Gary Cooper as Will Kane
High Noon
United Artists, 1952©

Solidarity election poster
  Republic of Poland
  At High Noon, 4 June 1989

On the Virginia Governor's graduate thesis, at age 34

For Poesy! no, she has not a joy,

At least for me, so sweet as drowsy noons,

And evenings steep'd in honied indolence;

O, for an age so shelter'd from annoy,

That I may never know how change the moons,

Or hear the voice of busy common-sense!

Brooks Brothers was established in 1818 and in the following year, John Keats came out with his disgusting Ode on Indolence. I see this cause and effect, right away, now that my mind has been bathed clean in the investigative methodology of Pat Robertson's academy; and soon we entered the depraved Age of Jackson, whence, need I say, all golly heck broke loose and our gummint in Washington has been a fornicators' tyranny ever since, which began with his unconstitutional assertion of national control over our currency, itself an obscene publication, 

from the sacred entrepreneurship of Nick Biddle, who was not really that snooty, all because this fancy kind of boy was drowsying in bed and, as you can always tell with that kind, far from alone, it hurts my soul to report, or what was all that honey about, I would like to know, because the Lord calls upon his pure and shining servants to be brave in these matters and unashamed to jive about our beliefs and intentions, so we can hold office in this sinful world, and let good people do what has to be done about these honeyboys.

I take it, mon cher Auguste, that on the discovery of this manifesto, his defense was to call it, spurious?

Mais non, Hercule. He confided that these had been his beliefs, in the infancy of his recent 30s, but in the alternative, like the late Chancellor assuring Hindenberg of his gentleness in the use of emergency powers, promised to be benign, admitting that he does so need to exercise power over others, that he trusted he could be excused an endeavour to be popular.

John Keats
Ode on Indolence

i, iii, iv, v  Thibault Oberlin