I've got Let the Great World Spin next in my queue. Anyone feel like jumping onboard and chatting about it the next week or two or three?
(If so, you can find me in this post! I'll be here talking to myself.)
"Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man." -- Heidegger
I've got Let the Great World Spin next in my queue. Anyone feel like jumping onboard and chatting about it the next week or two or three?
posted by dunkeys @ 11:22 AM
I've been wanting lately to use the internet as a more focused and deliberate tool. I'd like, for example, to use it to have a conversation and do some reading around a particular text. I'd most like to read that text with a group, sort of like what a bunch of bloggers did this summer with Infinite Jest.
"And I began to cry, like I'm crying now, because I'm a real pushover for memory. So I walk up the stairs to the second floor, which is the third floor in American language, and there was this little guy, just sitting there crying. So I sat down opposite him. And I cried too. And when the song was over, I said, 'I can't tell you what that meant to me, because I'm from Kentucky, and I know my family is listening to Jim Reeves right now. Hi. I'm Leee Childers.' And he said, 'Hi, I'm Sid Vicious.'"
"Avast, tempeste! We have kept her keeled and close-hauled through the dark earl gray breakers and squalling rains of chamomile. The sky has returned to its porcelain white, and along till morning we'll sail..."
"So chad and I braved the rally downtown last night. There were probably 100K digital cameras going, everyone trying to capture something of the spirit of the night. Impossible, really. They're saying 250K people, but it felt so much larger than that. When the newscasts called the election for Obama, the roar that rose from Grant Park must have rolled across the empty darkness of Lake Michigan and woken up people on the far shore. Astonishing. So much good will. So many good people. So much joy and hope. And for this flood to march afterward into the giant boulevards of Chicago was incredible. It was a perfect and beautiful night in a lot of ways."
"But let's say Bush lost in 2000. You could argue that this decreases the likelihood of 9/11, because the transition from Clinton-- a president who was pro-active about Bin Ladin-- to Gore would have been smoother (to say the least). But even if 9/11 still happens, we can be reasonably sure that Gore wouldn't have started two wars out of it that are still going on, seven years later. We can also assume that the environmental and economic policies would have at at least slowed the crises there, though I'm less certain of the latter than the former, since Clinton's economic policy sort of started us down this shit chute. But all in all, 8 years of Pax Gora leads to what in 08? Probably, I think, either Lieberman or Clinton LOSING to McCain. "
"I know that Obama is much beloved here. I'm sure there is no city in this country that will probably vote more heavily for him. So it's not as if we were there to assure his victory in our city and state. And there really aren't any hotly contested legislative or local elections this year (Durbin is a shoe-in; Schakowsky is shoe-in). I think what really got me was that all of us were willing to put up with 2.5 hour waits in order to register our belief in this guy and in order to register our severe discontent with the current administration. My reluctance to early vote was partly due to the fact that I've always enjoyed the euphoria I feel voting on Election Day. It was a treat to find that I didn't miss that one bit. Seems like that energy's been floating here for 2 weeks already. I'm trying to reign in my optimism, but it's hard after yesterday: Tuesday is shaping up to be a good day."
"I like titles that borrow phrases as a means of suggesting tone, too. "Everything that Rises Must Converge" is a great title -- apparently borrowed from some French Philosopher and of some exegetic relation to the story itself, but only in some obscure way. What it does, more than unlock the story, is suggest that it is something to be unlocked. I like that sense, that charge of meaningfulness. I think Pound would like it too. A friend recently shared a story "Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground." I liked that. I like that construction in general; two clauses, a coda built into the rhythm and the meaning."
"Europeans, who account for 11% of the world's population, have grabbed 12 of the last 14 Nobel literature prizes (that's 85%). As Wikipedia notes, "The absolute majority of the laureates have been European, with Sweden itself receiving more prizes than all of Asia." Maybe they should give out one per continent every year. Then all I'd have to do is move to Antarctica. And, you know, finish my novel. And publish it."
"(I would think, maybe, that a true commitment to American exceptionalism would necessarily include a willful ignorance of the very concept--an historian's term, really -- because it suggests a possibly critical awareness of American Bestitude. To define the belief that America is exceptional with so many syllables, with that stamp of subjectivity, "-ism," after all, is to admit the existence of alternatives--maybe even legitimate ones. That's probably why, in Polk's day, they just called it "manifest destiny." Destiny -- the perfect word for the true believer, really, because it removes all inkling of agency, alternative, or qualm.)"
"Last foreign book I read: Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Nigerian novellas and stories). The book is stunning, marvelous, horrifying. But I automatically snapped back and plowed through three or four American novels in a row without reflecting on my choices -- as if returning home from vacation. That is insular, I think, or at least shows a strong insular tendency. I think I know why I instinctively reach for the Campbell's soup, though: the rhythms of American speech. That's my mother's milk. When I'm reading a translation, or hell, even something British or Irish, I am aware of the fact throughout. I may like it a great deal -- looking at you, Garcia Marquez, Dickens, Dostoyevsky -- but stylistically it's something else, a relatively exotic work coming out of a different tradition. And my own writing will never sound like it."
"Since those rat bastards sold us out, Rory's been turning tricks down at the end of the pier where the men dress as ladies -- she's running a handjob special, if any of you old leches that used to stare at her during our pool parties want to trot on down there (Although some of you have been by to see her -- I'm looking at you, Artie! You fuck!)"
"I do think that there's an air of self-improvement to the way Americans read foreign lit. Broadening one's horizons, as it were. To some extent that's natural and reasonable. To another it is marketing and fetishization. The broadening itself has been overmarketed and too much appealed to our consciences as consumers, asking us to think of reading abroad as a moral question. That's the sense I get, anyway, reading the back of so many foreign books that make it over. They're appealing to my most moral sense of self and that manipulation bothers me. Reading a work of fiction is almost never amoral act; most usually, it is a diverting one. We shouldn't pretend otherwise. Of course I don't mean that reading and stories don't have moral dimensions. I just don't like when a consumer object seeks too cynically to take advantage of the American consumer's bad habit of conflating purchase with action. Publishers make clear their expectations of us and then we prove them right. It's not a horrible crime--better that rich white ladies discuss Darfur than a lot of other things-- but it is something bothersome in its way."
"On the rare occasions that college students do mistake me for a source of legitimate advice, this is what I tell them: go ahead and do the creative writing major, but do something else, too, if you can. And for god's sake, take all the lit classes you can take. There's not much point to writing done in the absence of reading. In that pointlessness, it's all actually rather similar. You want to be original, the best way to do that is to read and to think about what you read."
"A big problem for me is trusting the quality of translation. When you spend as much time using and thinking about language as most of us do, there is something--at least to me--discomfiting about relying on someone else's translation. It's one thing when you read the new Tolstoy or Proust and the translation is part of the story. You know the degree of effort and expertise that went into the process. With new fiction, however, I feel less confident. Anyone who has tried to translate one text into another language knows just how much liberty you have, and how many questions surface. With poetry, it's even harder. There are some translations, like William Weaver's Italian-English translation of Italo Calvino, that seem so transparent I never pause. It's rare, though, that I feel this way."
"In junior high, I saw a Van Halen show where Michael Anthony played a bass solo that consisted of him drinking a bottle of JD (which even my young self was pretty sure was just iced tea) and fall over. The bass kept playing. And, at that same show, three hot and very stoned college girls adopted me and my friend like puppies -- buying us beer, letting us sit with them, asking us if we were speaking Spanish (we were not). This proved to me that the dream posited by the "Hot for Teacher" video is very much alive ... if we only believe."
"As many of you know, Ted's firm took something of a hit this year. Terry Dodge and Larry Butterworth took it upon themselves to make a deal with the authorities, so we're still up in the air about what the future of Redlefsen, Redlefsen, Dodge, and Butterworth will look like, but I'm sure it will turn out better than any of us could have hoped for. I'm sure the blame will end up where it belongs, whatever those two may be up to (as you may remember, I never liked those two -- and never invited them to our famous Redlefsen Family Christmas Extravaganzas. I'm glad there actions have proven me right, although Ted and I are trying to be more Christ-like in our dealings with them). Although I had to call off the bash this year, once we get settled here at Ocean View, I expect to see Rhonda and Raul tearing up the dancefloor with their famous tango next December(hah hah! Muy Caliente!)."
"The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a 'Post Turtle'." The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she don't belong up there, and she don't know what to do while she's up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up there to begin with.""
"Quite a different take than Gloria Steinem's. I found Steinem's essay more interesting. It hadn't occurred to me that black men have been given many rights and privileges before white women -- voting for example. And based on that pattern, her essay makes me think America will in the end be more likely to vote for a black man for president before a white woman."
""Whatever do you mean?" asked Princess BigLots. Alcoa and Trout looked equally nonplussed, all three with their space pants down around their ankles."
"One has a foot so far in the grave they think it's a new species of Chinese mushroom, and the other shoots wolves from planes with a rifle, which is the dumbest thing I've ever seen, because anyone with half a brain would use an AK on fully automatic or at least hand grenades."
"Ralph Nader of Connecticut / Matt Gonzalez of California / Peace and Freedom Party Ralph Nader is from Connecticut? And his party has that name? Didn't know that. But I can never forgive him for what he did in 2000. (He cut in front of me at the Minneapolis Airport Cinnabon.) And I'm sorry, someone came here from Mexico and named their kid Matt? Seriously? Doesn't bode well on the judgment issue."
"The more music I have -- and I'm up to about 90 GB -- the more I feel this nagging anxiety about not listening to any of it with a depth of experience. When I was a teenager, I walked about 45 minutes a day, back and forth from the T. I was occasionally annoyed with my inability to carry more than a few tapes with me. In four years, I probably listened to a total of twenty different tapes, albums and mixes both. Somedays, when my batteries were low, Black Francis fell down a few registers to a tenor and Minor Threat became a midtempo grind. But otherwise, I was tracing the same handful of grooves everyday. It was a ritual, a privacy, and something like meditation. Now I am overburdened by choice. The choice becomes the experience in a way I don't much enjoy. It seems, in fact, like a problem representative of the times: digital technology and late stage capitalism together make for some absurd conundrums and anxieties. Give a man 15000 options and even after he's decided, the thought of the other 14999 can linger--sometimes unpleasantly so."
"Place is packed, folks on the stairs behind me Ice blast a bus has pulled up or something Can't see Dean, never see him, a voice only in a speaker Sam intro, claims of bold, hilarious, heartfelt, playful, and combustible Trevor beside me says once briefly looked through her journal, passed around having Portrait of a Lady charting, was chastened, Handouts now, applause "Poem to Shout in the Ruins" by Louis Aragon "Let's spit the two of us let's spit On what we loved On what we loved the two of us..." Live life as a poetic procedure Coherence not linear consistency Written after one pointless war Political obscenity Radical dismemberment Championing erotic value Random happenstance Actual functioning of thought Perpetual revolt Mind acting freely yields the marvelous Must everything be advertising How can recklessness be preserved Breton: "to send men rushing into the street" Nonrational reading of the world Irregular system of signals, heretical, sexual Not a mode of artistic production The taint of literature Social, political, economic revolution Art is the result of surrealism Wordsworth's mountainclimb Wordsworth missed peak experience in the Prelude Ejaculation, imagination, Romanticism Dropped off the map He and Coleridge share double task Full monstrous flower of surrealism Sam, pronounce this word for me Learn by doing system Sense sublime of Do it on our own at Romanticism is the prehensile tail of surrealism Letters of the Seen Man was not yet working on himself Poetry will no longer give rhythm to action Highness of casualty Rimbaud sketch out principles Identity will become plastic If brass wakes up a trumpet it's not its fault If old fools had Poet will define the amount of unknown awakening in his time The time of the monsters has come Wardrobe (laughter) did he put on a mask can't see World War I Rube Goldberg machine Blood and drunkenness Red sweet wine of youth English soldiers kicking a football toward the enemy Objective muddles Coughing like hags Owen's Dolce The great fuck-up, 60,000 mown down by machine guns Government way of dealing: Be cheerful, be encouraging Don't think you know better than the general Sounds like Dick Cheney Dada refused to do this 1919-1929 Suicides Pointlessness of life Murderous hypocricy of the status quo Name Dada means nothing, aims to mean nothing, was chosen for its absence of meaning Collapsing constructive and destructive To be Dada is to be against Dada The right to piss in different colors The big drum is brought in Dada is the first great realism World torn open Mockery of its own claws Monstrous collages in pasted together corpses from the front "To Make a Dadist Poem" by Tristan Tzara "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 the 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." Craft of poetry, how to platitudes Dada has it both ways Use of uselessness, willful derangement Duchamp found a coatrack, left it on his floor, people kept tripping over it so he nailed it to the floor Self is accidental contruction of life anything else Self is plagiarized "Man Ray's Poem" by Man Ray By God all the words are blacked out Like a letter from Iraq, says Trevor "In the interest of time I won't read this aloud" All the different translations Defeats ownership Self-consuming confabulation of aesthetic judgment Achieves opacity through blackness Poetry is a form of encryptment Achieved lucidity Stands for everything defeated All information is too sensitive The poem at the end of all poetry Dezoning the past Culmination of a culture Under Keats under Browning A dark joke, a grave Dada Fraud of art Suicide of ultimate theater After a while even train wrecks become mundane Breton sent to psychiatric center encountered astonishing images on a higher plane than occurs to us Recklessness carried to extremes, a simulacrum Bloody injuries were like makeup Corpses might be made of wax Mad vividness Access to liberty Measure of recovery Secrets of insane Manifesto of Surrealism Most important statement of the 20th Century and I missed it Imagination: state of slavery Experience itself circumscribed Always for the first time Constantly wrong in one's own life Inability to love Magical reactants Imagination fundamentally erotic Waking state: phenomenon of interference Close our eyes and walk into walls Dreaming is not inferior, is satisfying Agonizing question of possibility Surrealism: omnipotence of dream disinterested Actual functioning of thought is absence Exquisite corpses Goal isn't production but change in consciousness Breach in reality through trauma Split wound marvelous greenhome Prose and cons Borne by the images which enrapped it Day compared to it is night Surrealism used after 9/11 Identity destabilized Reimagining our role Justin Timberlake popping open Janet Jackson's breast is not surreal, it is predictable Chance meeting of umbrella and sewing machine on an operating table, spark flowing among them Two objects brought incongruously together As much field where those occur Surrealism is the operating table "Free Union" by Andre Breton "My wife whose hair is a brush fire Whose thoughts are summer lightning Whose waist is an hourglass Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger" Always for the first time The high point and the decline of formulaic Seems familiar The student who says Shakespeare is full of cliches Disjunction lasting characteristic of 20th Century Collaging techniques of "The Waste Land" Fractional self Source of art Overarching preoccupicity Ecstatic subjectivity vs. neurotic subjectivity Instability into a positive trait Tragic erudition of modernism "The Waste Land" is great but repugnant Uses Dada techniques only to convey us all back into the library Fitting that Eliot ended up writing doggerel about cats Not be a victim of itself Formalists Lowell, Barryman, Plath Instabilities of identities seem pathological Fetishization of the self There is no subject "I" is counterrevolutionary Self is decentered, not that it doesn't exist How else account for that voltage Exploits occasions If divinity is in us, it's to make and unmake the self Voice of Robert Desnos? No handout for this one Sense of futility Its something is bouyant Encyclopedic romp Drunken kisses from cyclones Purpose of poetry is to maintain the spirit Restore us to impossible first necessary condition It is impossible to write poetry, therefore we do it Not craft, not wringing something out of nothing Look into mirrors Who am I, why am I here, why do I love, what will be my death? Recreate the world we find Wandering horses appear Signal always fades Being touched which is impossible Being alive which is impossible"
"It was a mall type building, in a city. No clues there but a lot of traffic. I went back inside and came out a different door, into a neighborhood. Then I remembered I was looking for a shoe store -- I walked toward a house and saw two girls talking. "Excuse me, could I use your phone?" I intended to call my brother. They let me in the house. "Where am I?" I asked. "Conorville." But the girls disappeared. Instead I was stuck talking to their mother. Then another guy came home, looking like, I don't know, weird and tanned and wrinkled, then some more guys came in and brought over a plate they were holding together and started talking to the mother. "Look, we got this off the top of the cake!" On the plate was the top half of a sandwich, kind of oozing. She seemed interested. I looked around and a kid was putting up a poster that said "Right-wing church - MEETING TONIGHT." I left and started walking again through the neighborhood. All the mailboxes at the end of driveways were shaped like greyhound dogs and were moving, running in slow motion. Then I saw I'd gone in a circle and was back at that house, and I spotted one of the original girls -- she lived above the garage. "Hi!" I said. "You were going to let me use your phone." She was standing on a ladder that had been leaned up against a blackboard. She turned to me on the ladder and smiled and said, "Here is what it will cost." On the blackboard she wrote: $28. I was looking through the contents of my pockets when I woke up."
"But here's one! (Not that I want to encourage anyone to read bad poetry...) "Lines in Reply to the Beautiful Poet who Welcomed News of McGonagall's Departure from Dundee"--an excerpt: And, in conclusion, I'd have him to beware, And never again to interfere with a poet's hair, Because Christ the Saviour wore long hair, And many more good men, I do declare."
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