Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the effect of this symphony...

...can't be transposed into words. And sometimes, I like to listen to it with the volume set to just 20% or less. Then, the effect is even more unspeakable. Except to say that it's like floating out-of-body. Or away-from-ego, while trailing indistinct, merely residual emotions.

I'm hesitantly intrigued...

...by some species of postmodernist philosophy.

From the Wikipedia article on Deleuze comes this sentence, which I sort of like:

A Deleuzean idea or concept of difference is not a wraith-like abstraction of an experienced thing, it is a real system of differential relations that creates actual spaces, times, and sensations.

When I'm in a certain mood, that kind of notion makes me feel something unusual is afoot. It's neat. (And to whomever wrote that sentence above, thank you for the Oxford comma.)

brain power

Alexa, a reader, sent me this cool graphic on brains and intelligence.

It shows that Nobel Prize winners have a 158+ IQ. I knew it! When I was reading a book of essays by Joseph Brodsky a few months ago, I kept murmuring to myself: "This guy's a genius."

It also shows what can be done to increase IQ. Oh my. Diet, sleep, physical exercise, brain exercise -- no wonder I'm getting gradually stupider. I do all the wrong things.

Click on the chart to go to original page with complete image:

Master Your Brain: Raise Your IQ
Created by: www.OnlineMastersDegree.com

Monday, July 30, 2012

reading William Crawford

For all I know, there might be some existing Contemporary Theory of Language & Poetics through which the poems of William Crawford can be read. In a deeper way than conventional reading. Or maybe I will have to invent one. Something that will have to do with openness, immanent modality, haunted time, evental structure, cadential gesture. A theory of poetry to approach lines that vibrate within equivocal dimensions, that form written situations and visions seducing through an early withholding of context. 

Similar to what Derrida said: "...in breathless suspension, that is to say, alive, alert, vigilant, ready [prête] to be engaged down a wholly other path, to open up to whatever may come, listening faithfully, all ears, to that other speech."

So a reader, as if on the trail of a mystery, is led through Crawford's lines and stanzas. To see what is going on. Lured ahead with pleasure, owing to the compelling language and cadence.

All poems, I think, have this in common: the poem itself becomes a part of the life of the poem. An intrinsic self-reflexivity. A certain tension or dynamic arcs between what is being written and the writing of it. A poem is a metaphorm. Usually this is an unconscious thing for the poet. But when he or she is aware of this subtle irony, access is gained to rooms of different saying, to modes of unusual consciousness and art. I think Crawford, more than most, is aware of the poem as such becoming an implicit aspect of the poem's theme or emotion. With such an awareness, the moments of making exist in a field of strange energy and trembling potential.  

Sometimes, the certainty of context or a definite framing remains elusive. I mentioned the word "openness" above. Some of Crawford's poems remain open, even as they ostensibly conclude. I also said "haunted time." The poem below gradually colors the temporality of its happening in wistful, surreal, nostalgic hues. And the cadence is varied, breathing, reverential.

Scars on the Raindrops

the timing was always bad

a dago red window

hemorrhaging heat

petechial scarlet spring

both Venice and Vienna

a glass eyed doll

limp on a balcony

suggesting scenes

dreamed by Fellini

Christmas lights

startled by the depth of their own blues

blinking in early May

waiting for the late darkness to descend

damn this mirror as it shatters

as you open your arms again

hoping for a song this time

comparing common scars

on the raindrops

off-white and awful

set deep in azure

she blew songless bluebirds

out of the right side of her mouth

from the left

she blew penny wishes

blew haloes and grace notes

eyes so still and steady


as she gave that confession

to you

her camera

she was quite the actress

her face exquisitely lit

on one side

the softness of shadow

on the other

a gentled moon


that long flowing jawline

a dangling dolichoid dancer

her mouth a beautiful wound

a strawberry roan

ready to run

and you wished

she would blink just once

just close her eyes –

both blue flower and flame –

allowing rest

possibly dreams

her body was a limestone cathedral

and yours

a snake willing to swallow

anything before it.

From his book Fire in the Marrow
© William Crawford

Badiou said:

…for me, given that the void of Being only occurs at the surface of a situation by way of the event, chance is the very matter of truth. And just as truths are singular and incomparable, so the fortuitous events from which they originate must be multiple and separated by a void.

That sounds far-out and cool to me. Mainly because I take it out of context. 

Badiou's Event has to do with rare, monumental occurrences that change things (ways of thinking, being) on a large scale. The new irruption brings unique truth to perception. And he contemplates being as non-univocal, not as a One, but rather as discrete "quanta" -- pure multiplicity (that's so freaking groovy and bizarre). 

But I prefer to daydream into that quote above in this manner: whether or not being is one or many, I like the notion of a void separating situational surfaces, with chance the deep law and play of life. Even of "insignificant" situations.

Derrida said:

Death neither puts an end to someone in the world nor to a world among others. Death marks every time, every time in defiance of arithmetic, the absolute end of the one and only world, of that which everyone opens as one and only one world, the end of the unique world, the end of the totality of that which is or can be presented as the origin of the world for any unique living being, be it human or not. 

Summertime -- Edward Hopper

"Stolen" from Biblioklept.

Matvei Yankelevich said this...

...in his open letter to Marjorie Perloff: 

I would assert that neither Conceptualism nor Conservatism foregrounds "the word as such," nor, moreover "the letter as such" (as described in another important manifesto of Russian Futurism). Neither American mode takes up the Russian Futurist call to free the word from its usual context in service of greater expressivity. Conceptualism may re-frame a discourse, but it doesn't usually insist on the aesthetic autonomy of its parts.

Here's Ms. Perloff's original essay: Poetry on the Brink

Here's Mr. Yankelevich's full statement:  The Gray Area 

Here's her reply: A Response to Matvei Yankelevich

Neither Conservatism nor Conceptualism (as defined by Perloff) are the kinds of poetry I like to read, that are meaningful to me. But apparently in the big leagues of Poetry these days (and decades previous), both genres or attitudes are the stuff that is taken seriously, wins Pulizters, gets published, is talked about in important articles.

Oh my, how distressing to my head! That kind of stuff rattles across my synapses like gravel. It's all so dull and pretentious.

If I understand correctly some of what Yankelevich is saying about Russian Futurism and its emphasis on "word as such," that poetic gesture has something to do with the lyrical mystic of language. I need to read and think more about what he's saying to be sure. All I know now is that Conservatism (as an affect of style, politics, or classroom) and Conceptualism (as a withdrawal from the deep mystic of word-itself in favor of a-textual Idea) both make me want to pull my hair out.

It's worth noting that in all three linked things above no mention is made of the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer. As if his poems are not sufficiently categorizable to be included in a conversation about important poetry. Or as if lyrical poetry as such is completely beside the point. Of course, all three linked things above are limited to discussing aspects of Conservative and Conceptual poetry. Still though, it is telling that the mystico-lyrical aesthetic of Tranströmer is ignored as an exemplary poetic presence. As if his non-alignment to any methodological posturing or his not having any manifesto ax to grind makes him too weird to appear in that conversation.

A poem, in my opinion, is something that happens in the isolated precincts of a consciousness. It is not concerned with a school or method or consensus. It is a kind of magic. A poem creates its own form and content, each time.

A poem, to be remarkable to me, must be attuned to the inherent harmonics of word-as-lyric and must have lines occurring as fragments-of-séance. It is about personal expression. After the inspired magic appears on the page, then comes the refinement of craft -- understanding what appeared, carefully shaping it, revising the vision. Then the poem is ready to invite a reader into its world, a new world containing textures and strangeness and enhanced time.

But what do I know?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

who would win in a fight...

...W.B. Yeats or Walter Benjamin?

Yeats wrote poetry and was obsessed with arcane goofy magic. He was sort of occult.

Benjamin wrote essays and was concerned with the immanence of memory, the artifacts of presence, and the effusions of culture across the mysterious arc of time. He was sort of abstract.

I put my money on Benjamin. Yeats would be running around the ring trying to cast blank verse spells against a massive consciousness.

from that article on Benjamin...

...in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

On one level the Arcades can be seen to mark the furthest development of the shift — begun around 1924, where Fenves breaks off — away from philology and pure philosophy, and towards a new form of cultural history, both experimental and, in a complicated way, monumental. This entailed archaeology of modernity — its urban spaces, temporal structures, emergent media, dreamworlds of commodities and crowds — based on a much broader conception of experience and thought than normally accepted within philosophy’s walls. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

it's a crying shame

All those Victorian and fin de siècle folks running around England in robes and wizard hats.

magical Yeats

Sneaking around in dubious history, looking for incantation books and traces of Hermes Trismegistus. Wasting their time and wasting their brains. They thought they were onto something. Esoterica, secrets of life and death, knowledge of ancient and ultimate reality.

Balderdash. What silly, silly nonsense.

It's too bad that Gurdjieff set up shop outside of Paris too late for those English folks to realize how absurdly they were behaving. Gurdjieff would have told them that all their rumors, devices, runes, alchemies, rituals, and secret books were to be taken metaphorically.

All that hocus-pocus stuff was merely the bastardized version and peripheral goo of a core principle: the deepest level of consciousness is not awake yet in humans; only through prosaic sweat and struggle can anything exceptional, lasting, and spiritual be accomplished; knowledge is not cheap and only comes about through the "alchemy" of transformative inner work; before one can know or do, one must first be.

No spells. No occult books. No Blavatsky tricks and shortcuts.

But even all that Gurdjieff stuff eventually grew tiresome for me. I prefer the magic of poetry to the seeking out of hidden truth or becoming too freaking real.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Henri Dutilleux -- Cello Concerto

What a brilliant piece of music. And what a master cellist Rostropovich was.

and speaking of Benjamin...

...reading this article was more fun than I've had in quite some time. It was more fun than riding a roller coaster filled with monkeys wearing pink wigs.

a Walter Benjamin blog

I just found this neat blog and am linking to it right here and now, so I will be reminded to read all the posts there:

The Leeds Arcades Project

Walter Benjamin

Asja Lācis

1891 -- 1979

I'm mentioning Lācis because...well...look at that photo above. How could I not try to write something about that face, those eyes?

Asja Lācis was an early witness to the Revolution and a believer in it. This Latvian actress, theater director, and writer combined the aesthetic with the political in Soviet Russia. She met Brecht in 1924 and collaborated with him. She had an affair with Walter Benjamin, which some say led to the assimilation of Marxist ideas into his (always somewhat ambiguous) thinking. She and Benjamin wrote an essay together -- "Naples" -- about the porosity of a city. Here's an excerpt: 

"At the base of the cliff itself, where it touches the shore, caves have been hewn... As porous as this stone is the architecture. Building and action interpenetrate in the courtyards, arcades, and stairways. In everything, they preserve the scope to become a theatre of new, unforeseen constellation. The stamp of definitive is avoided. No situation appears intended for ever, no figure asserts it 'thus and not otherwise'. This is how architecture, the most binding part of the communal rhythm, comes into being here..." 

Lācis must have been an intellectual of a rare order. Or at least someone with a rare sensibility. Was Benjamin drawn to her mostly from erotic impulse or from the seductive shape of her philosophical thinking? Or was it that he found someone whose form of sensibility was as fluid and deep as his own? 

It appears that most scholars have defused and made diffuse the explosive power of the sexual aspect of their relationship. That it was less opposites coming together in an erotic combustion than the fact they shared an attraction to the theater. I prefer that evaluation. I like to think that Lācis and Benjamin were kindred spirits. Floating on a mutual aesthetic stratum, they could confess anything to one another -- dreams, visions, neuroses, existential bafflements. 

But it seems that she was quite set in her Revolutionary thinking, so maybe she wasn't as dreamy or existentially bemused as Benjamin. Maybe it wasn't a balanced relationship. She saw the world through a definite Marxist lens, while Benjamin construed reality via more abstruse, ambivalent forms. So it's sort of delightful and charming after all to think his late-blooming Marxism was, at root, influenced and stimulated by chemical romance. Her presence -- the aura of the work of art Lācis -- sent him down a new philosophical boulevard, perhaps one that he walked half out of his love-ruffled mind.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Regina Walker -- photographer

Regina captures unusual aspects and impressions of New York City. To me, it's like visual free jazz. I "hear" a cool drum kit wrapped in cigarette smoke and a loping, schizophrenic bass and a piano ruminating its odd urban moods.

Form, texture, and color accomplish their pure abstract effects in her photographs. But I think it's more about what is implicit beneath the objective or the brute aesthetic. Maybe something about time, anguish, transient gaiety, equivocal mood.

Yes, she photographs inanimate spirits right out in broad daylight! And sometimes, you think you are seeing things -- a random splatter or rusted object or peeling plaster seems to morph into the vision of a creature or ghost or Renaissance angel.

Regina is a real nice person. Her mind is deep, and she is cool.

Here's a link to some of her work:

Here's her page:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Sandman #51

In the Vol. 8 trade paperback -- World's End -- of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, you will find the story "A Tale of Two Cities." It appeared as Issue #51 during the regular series run.

Someone must say something about that story. I think it is a special thing, and the artwork is really cool. In part of the story, the artwork becomes sort of like German Expressionism.

I pulled this issue off the rack in 1993 and flipped through the pages. I was hooked, sucked in, persuaded. That artwork made me feel weird and that day became good. It seemed I had stumbled onto a secret left there just for me. As if there were an aesthetic code built into the images, whispering to me: "I am here, just for you."

Here's part of a page from that issue:

I bought that comic book. I went home and relished every dang page. It was my first exposure to this series by Gaiman. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



A  short-story or whatever by Tim Buck

(Rendered from the original Portuguese into English by the Masked Translator)

Chapter 1

Ha ha ha...

Please pardon my little outburst. I have an unusual sense of humor. And it strikes me as laughable to be writing this down. Trying to reconstruct with words certain events of the recent past tickles my funny bone. Because what happened had to do with the strangeness of words themselves. I also tend to laugh when I put pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. It's so surprising and delightful to make things mesh and begin forming a recognizable shape.

Allow me, please, to introduce myself. My name is Jack Cardoso. I am a detective. A Brazilian detective. Retired. I was and still consider myself to be a rather splendid detective.

My knack as an investigator came to me at an early age. I grew up in Greater Belo Horizonte, which is located in the southern central part of the country. It is comprised of 34 municipalities and a population of five million souls. One of those municipalities is Sabará, to the east of Belo Horizonte city. That was and is currently my home. There is so much iron embedded in the surrounding hillsides that sometimes cars get pulled uphill by sheer magnetism. Ha ha ha......ha ha...hmm...

But seriously, as a child I had an instinctive talent for finding things. When I was a little rascal, the neighborhood women, who were always losing things around their houses, would call for me to find those missing items. I would stand, arms akimbo, in the middle of the last room they remembered seeing their lost trinket or cooking item or emerald-colored high-heeled shoes. I would concentrate as if in a trance, and within minutes, things came crystal clear. I would walk confidently on my little legs and point to the errant object.

Gold mining has been a basic industry in our region. And finding gold became a talent of my teenage years. I didn't follow the standard rules of metallurgical technology. I relied instead on discernment of topography, in relation to the characteristics of flora and the behavior of fauna. I can't explain my aptitude, and it's not anything extrasensory. Aspects of a phenomenon – sought object or mysterious event – simply spread out inside my head, with associative threads forming a subtle pattern. The circumstantial array begins to offer up to me its implicit essence – the main thing. So an answer,  a solution, a discovery leaps into my quiet thinking. Yes, I would walk those large hills that are covered with eucalyptus, rosewood, and wild peppertrees. Until the landscape “spoke” to me. Until I knew with a comfortable degree of certainty that gold waited and winked here or there below, veined in the sleeping rock.

When I became a young man, I did a stint as consultant for the local police department. Crimes were solved with my help. After that, I have spent my entire adult life as a private detective, taking on cases ranging from domestic suspicions to kidnapping to locating lost relatives. Even the occasional diversion into more eccentric avenues: debunking mediums, explaining UFOs, exposing subliminal messages embedded in television frequencies that caused a mass addiction to Brazilian singing and dancing contests. 

I remember one case, especially. Old General Azevedo lost his marbles. I was called in to find them. He had lost them -- Oxbloods, Cat's Eyes, Glimmers, Bumblebees -- when he was a child. The loss had haunted him even into elder age. In his memory and imagination, they had grown to the size of wondrous-colored planets. He dreamed of them, night after night, as the years had hobbled into the future. To make a long story short, I discovered, through interviews with his ancient friends and relatives, that he had been a young sleepwalker.  After a session of psychological probing, surreptitious hypnosis, and renegade logic, I converged on an empirical apotheosis. We located his sleepwalked bag of missing marbles in the fist-sized bole of a gnarly tree still standing on the family villa.  I can still hear the old general's gasp. I can still see him tearfully loosening the bag's drawstrings and pouring his lost marbles to the ground. The silver tips of his handlebar mustaches quivering.

Okay...now to the account, the mystery that inspired this present writing. 

It had come to my attention that certain individuals in France were saying strange things. And since I had become bored as a detective retiree, I decided to investigate, to find out why peculiar things were being said by these famous and semi-famous French philosophers. I don't fly,  so I set sail (so to speak) one brilliant summer morning.

it's way past time...

...to consider Moldova.

The country has a rich history. Language and ethnic differences -- Romanian, Ukrainian, others -- weave a complex human texture. In the past two decades, strife and conflict have unsettled the nation.  Dire economic factors add to the stress.

This is a map:

This is a scene:

This is currency:

This is a stamp:

Speaking of grapes, Wikipedia has this to say:

Moldova consumes the highest amount of alcohol per capita in the world.

I would like to visit there or at least float through. To absorb the atmosphere. To drink some of that wine. Think of the wine-brimming conversations! Everybody sociable and smiling, maybe a little dancing. Someone brings up poetry. Recitations of how forlorn it is to be so landlocked. Of how sad and pleasant to sway while dreaming of wine-dark seas beyond the horizon....

Monday, July 23, 2012

words flail...

certain men's tennis shoes piss me off

They're uncalled for, and they're ridiculous.

Treads like an Abrams tank. Exaggerated girth, hyperbolic arch. Embossed with a bunch of techno-gizmo-nonsense. Stupid colors.

A regular-sized guy's feet now look like Size 20. Massive tennis shoes. Squat kayaks for muskrats to paddle down the river in.

Sometimes, you find these on guys in their fifties, wearing starched faded jeans. It's horrifying!

And think about it. After floating around all day in these swollen tennis shoes, you take them off at night. In your nekkid and now real feet, you begin to sway. The fake hyper-arch is now gone. You also experience the  shock of instant top-heaviness, from an impression that your feet are now the size of an infant's. Vertigo sets in, and you fall in a heap to the floor. You struggle back up to a standing position. To move now, you must hop on what seems like pegs instead of sashaying around on real human feet. Who in their right mind wants to live in such a manner?

Something must be done about this.

False alarm! False alarm!

A few days ago, I said I was going to shut up blogging. Obviously, this is not me shutting up. I require a venue, I guess, for miscellaneous expression. Because I'm just built that way. Whatever.


Today's topic is Shanghai, China. It's a very large municipality comprised of, apparently, 17 districts. Many, many millions of people live there. All those people, all those consciousnesses! Shanghai must be thought about every now and then, because it is surreal. When you consider that great city, your synapses begin to bend and sway and glow nicely. Awesome.

Take a look at this photo. There is what you see here, and there is what can only be inferred -- the glorious, ineffable Weird; part substance and part uncanny mood.

Here's another photo, but with a very different sense of the unusual. This University City District in Songjiang surely is a marvelous setting to learn stuff. But I wouldn't be able to learn anything -- I'd just look around all the time at the water, sky, buildings, trees, and distant mountains. Just being there! But if you are, indeed, a disciplined scholar, such a setting could only enhance your ingestion of knowledge and your forms of understanding.

Going into the past, this photo will blow apart a tenuous and unsealed mind. Nanking Road in the 1930s. Those people walking and riding around there back then! -- all I have to say about the picture is that reality is preposterous and beautiful.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

across from the hospital

The old Catholic cemetery, many deceased.
Small and large pale markers, some leaning,
all glowing faintly as the sun begins to set.

The well-kept grounds are silent,
and a strangeness delves here.

Large oaks and elms are holding summer communion.

William J. Witt
Dec.   3, 1831
May 21, 1910

All the events of the world
while you were not dead!
How unusual that time, then.

All manner of living,
hard or easy breathing,
takes our bodies and souls
across the planes of waking.
To lose those days of being --
to die away from laughing,
grimacing, touching, dancing --
it is such a hurtful riddle.
But to lose the daydreams
stretching toward dim vista...
that is an unholy, direst thing.
Thin layers of hope and fog
wrap and hold some spirits,
cushioning them as they go
to worlds beyond the real
and deeper than ocean
on this side of death.

Did you, William J., ever cast a thought
over the pines prickling a ridge's spine,
to bounce beyond a locomotive's tasking
or the village's worn and weary talking...
a thought beyond possible going to
but rich with shimmering tomorrow?

Which is worse...
the Dreaming fog to die away
when you become cold dead
or Dreaming time to lose its art,
to beggar you before you go?

Copyright 2012, Tim Buck

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chopin's Ballade No. 4

The Winter Men

Originally slated to be an eight-issue series, this Wildstorm comic book ended up as only five, with a supplementary special.

The Winter Men, in my opinion, is one of the finest comic books ever created. The story written by Brett Lewis is compelling. The artwork by John Paul Leon is mesmerizing. The dialog is the most realistic and convincing I've ever read in a comic book.

It ran from 2005 to 2006. The special was released in 2008. A trade paperback, collecting the run and the special, came out a couple years later. Good luck finding a near-mint copy of that out-of-print trade at a reasonable price. I don't have the trade, and I can't shell out $50 and up for it from Alibris or wherever. I'll settle for my five singles, and I need to purchase that special issue.

From the Cultural Clutter review "Winter's Gone," comes this:

The series is all raggedy noir thriller and political history and devastated personal lives mixed together and rendered in thick lines and thin washes. The details are nice—Kalenov passed out in the snow, Moscow’s mayor threatening to shut off the Kremlin’s electricity, a turf war set to a Pepsi franchise guide. The powder blue translation arrow boxes for all the sepia Cyrillic headlines and tattoos are just swell.

From the Crave Online review of the TPB:

There are so many layers to this book, from Russian history to commentary on American pop culture, that it's easy to ignore the interesting plot that Lewis has constructed. Even without his lacing of intellectual prowess, the plot of Russian gang warfare and a kidnapped mystery girl has enough fuel to burn on its own. However, the thing that solidifies The Winter Men as a truly great book is in Lewis' [sic] consistency with the themes he establishes. Most prominently, our lead character's nickname is "The Poet", and he lives up to that title via Lewis' handy work. There were numerous occasions where I found myself mulling over the select lines of narration or dialog, reveling in their brilliant construction or powerful simplicity. Throughout all six issues Kalenov delivers upon his nickname, and every time it made it just that much easier to understand why the hell this book took so long to come out.

Well...it's a good comic. 'Nuff said.

To Russia, with Love

This here blog thing has some statistics. It shows me what countries my blog pageviews are coming from. I get "hits" from all over the wild world. Most though come from here, in the US. But Russia is the next one in number of visits. That's cool. I like Russia a whole bunch. Whomever y'all are over there, thank you for taking an interest in the stuff dripping from my brain. (I also appreciate all those other visitors from all those other countries.)

This one goes out to my Russian friends:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Anything worth doing...

...is worth doing at least half-assed.

If you are the interviewer for a blogtalkradio show, you owe it to your guest to be prepared, to take the thing seriously. Winging it by the seat of your casual pants is a discourtesy to guest and to listeners.

That's the way I see it, and I happen to be correct.

How uncomfortable to guest and listener for the interviewee him- or herself to have to become their own interviewer! To subtlety nudge the master of ceremonies toward questions or observations that are within a mile of the topic. Or be forced to enter conversational void-spaces to urge the fumbling continuum along a sustained and coherent pathway.

No, you don't have to be a skilled or trained radio professional. Just bring some basic tools of interviewing to the table: a bit of research, some notes, a freaking outline.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

a fishy case of aestheticization

Try saying that last word three times backwards real fast.

I hadn't thought about that old TV series Sea Hunt for 40 years. Then I thought about it. Couple years later, I thought about it again. Then I thought about it just now.

I'm still trying to figure out what is going on with those marvelous fish swimming around inside that black-and-white-filmed water world. Inside those mind-warping shades of water-gray. Even when I was a kid, those fish were not actually just fish. They took on some other quality. Some kind of ideal condition beyond substance and beyond the power of naming or even metaphor. It made me feel groovy, when I was a kid, to stare at those fish swimming around Mike Nelson.

I said "beyond substance." But those ocean fishes had a peculiar mass and floating heft. I think the main metaphysical fish were probably groupers, swimming in their imperturbable, existential psychosis.

I think I've finally squeezed out a possibility for what the deal is with those fish (I'm very slow on the uptake, usually).

They were not fish. They were forms of the fantastic shaped by the mysteriousness of ocean water. From a state of organic normality they had evolved in my consciousness to the condition of pure aesthetic presence. A phenomenality of alien grace and gnomic locomotion. Happening inside an unfathomable, not-explainable environment (who in their right mind would attempt to define "water"?).

Apparently, my little human head had added something new to those ostensibly natural creatures: a dimension of the brute uncanny. And I suspect that the uncanny is an aspect or element contributing to the emergence of aesthetic sensibility. That's my theory for now, anyway. I like to think I have a sort of aesthetic soul. That would compensate for a bunch of personal voids.

I still remember sitting mesmerized in front of the old television set, watching those fish. I had no idea what the stories of Sea Hunt were about. In fact, those plots interfered with my pure aquatic amazement. For me, it was simply an unmediated hyper-experience of large and small fishes. And transcendental bubbles rising toward the surface, where sunlight gathered as pieces of improbable time and early melancholy.

I picked out some fish-trance and water-light music:

fragment on Sebald

I'm not going to subscribe or whatever to The New Republic, so all I get here is a partial review of stuff by W.G. Sebald:

Sebald -- The New Republic

But the two available paragraphs from the link are important to me. They remind me that there is a sizable part of my sensibility that I must hold in reserve, in private. Because I have no one with whom to talk about the Sebald effect. It is a phenomenon that interpenetrates the skin of my soul.


what would it amount to if I did have someone with whom to talk about Sebald? It would be an insufferable experience for my interlocutor. When I get inspired by a topic, I speechify. I start talking in run-on sentences that would never end, if my listener's countenance didn't begin to evince signs of mental stress or strangulation (a subtle roll of the eyeballs into the back of the head). Signs of a hounded and now trapped being who is close to a condition of conversational panic. Only then, would I bring my rambling to an incoherent trailing-off toward silence and expectant reply.

No, it would have to be something more indirect. With the Sebald effect merely an implicit aspect of shared consciousness. I could then remark "The atmosphere is rather misty today" or "This particular poem resonates with me," and what I meant by those statements would echo in sympathetic regions of my interlocutor's soul. Yes, that's the ticket. I could never actually discuss Sebald and his effect. It must remain as a hovering aura beneath which other things are considered and appreciated. Sebald must only haunt between the lines of whatever I discuss with a kindred spirit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

just one of those things...


I wrote some stuff about William Crawford's first book of poems -- Fire in the Marrow. Here's the announcement poster for Will's second book -- Actual Tigers -- to be released in October of this year by Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House:

Here's the webpage: Actual Tigers at Edgar Allan Poet
And the Facebook page: Actual Tigers on Facebook

I'm looking forward to this release. Crawford's poems don't preen and are not pretentious. They are honest x-rays of emotional, lived-through situations. The lines are irradiated pulses that project onto a glowing page the images and states of actual souls, actual interiors of heartful consciousness. This is not easy work and is not for the unskilled or untalented. To go this deep into lives and moments must have an effect on the writer. Gamma sweat beads must surely drip from Crawford's seeking, cathartic pen.

So...when the book comes out, I'll post something again. Just alerting My Dripping Brain friends about something special on the burning bright horizon.

fantasy & meaning

For all I know, those guys and gals could be borderline drooling monomaniacs. But I don't think they are. I think they are nice folks who love their families and friends and who do their duty.

Those guys and gals who blog perpetually about comic books. I'm talking years. They are locked into the subject of their fascination. These are disciples of Golden Age goofiness, adepts of Silver Age wonderfulness, cultists of Bronze Age wackiness, monks of Platinum Age garishness, adherents of Vertigo Age irony.

There's this one guy -- Mike Sterling. He runs the Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin blogsite, where he expresses himself about aspects of comic books. He also works at a comic book store way out there in Ventura, California.Years back when I had me some money, I would order comic books from him, from that store. He was always very nice, knowledgeable, and willing to go the extra mile to be of help. I don't think he is existentially unstable at all. I think Mike is grounded and probably sane. The fact that he is obsessed with Alan Moore's Swamp Thing...well...that extrusion of his human spirit into a fantastical dimension of meaning might have deep philosophical implications for the entire human Earth.

There's been a lot of reality probing for a long time. That Gilgamesh fellow, Zoroastrianism, the Upanishads, Hebrew monotheists, Chinese mountain sages. Then on to other stuff: Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, whomever.

All trying to suss out what the heck is going on.

When all's said and done, I think we've gotten not one whit closer to what's going on. In fact, we might even be getting collectively stupider, with all that philosophical specialization. Who's to say in what the Good Life consists? The twist is that all of those philosophical projects -- those ostensible attempts to get at the Real -- are oblivious to the fact that reality is always already sur-real. Ultimate Meaning is always already swallowed up in the vortex of beyond-our-brains.

And that's where fantasy comes in.

That vortex of beyondness. That's sort of where Doctor Strange goes to cast his overwrought spells. Dimensions and worlds on the "edge of infinity," where cat-whiskered villain guys turn mystic adventurers into eternal statues. Utterly unusual stuff. Just like the cosmos itself, reeling in the inhuman condition of its own phenomenal non sequiturism.

Fantasy is a transformation of time into substances complementary to the riddling deal. It metabolizes the gaucheness of false normality into infinite daydream. Fantasy is an alchemical human process turning the apparent solidity of our facts back into the gleaming liquid of escapism and jaw-dropping reverie. It turns time into color and wonder.

You might adore someone who exists in an Earthly condition beyond you. Is it unreasonable or strange that your adoration flows on a fizzling current of the extraordinary and the impossible? Not at all. The meaning of your regard moves upon ethereal, marvelous, and beautiful forms of feeling. It's no crazier than the oddly impersonal cores of stars or that card game still being played before the Big Bang around a table of winking, toothless pink sharks.

Comic books are cool. They open up a plane of altered duration that is distinctive. The love of comic books is a graphic attunement to the way things already are down to the roots -- preposterous. Comic book obsession is, therefore, a wonderful grooving to the rhythm of Great Nonsense. It's also where Doctor Strange's world is as real as anything else.

Image of Doctor Strange by Caravan Studios

When I began writing this piece, I think I had a point I wanted to make. I'm not sure if I actually made any kind of point. But that's okay, I guess. It don't mean that much. I'm just word-roaming through an old mood and a new half-thought.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I've been Žižek'd

I can't help it. I dig that guy's conceptual improv. And the way he takes a thought-road not traveled by folks with less-hyper brains. It's always the non-apparent with him, stuff that would never cross our minds. Listening to and watching Slavo Žižek is like experiencing continuous episodes of intellectual whiplash, with a concurrent release of surprise-endorphins. Especially when he applies his free-form analyses to conventional topics of culture, like movies and stuff. Even if I have trouble following his thought and even if I might not agree with some of what he says, it's just groovy anyway. 

a nice Kandinsky essay

This is an interesting and well-written evaluation by Yakov Rabinovich:

Kandinsky: Master of the Mystic Arts

I think the tie-in to Doctor Strange -- my favorite old comic book character -- is cool.

I had also written a Kandinsky essay, in which I took the artist to task for his use of the word "spiritual." I'm not sure if my argument was a coherent or appropriate one. I felt that such a word has to do with something beyond aspects of human psychology or issues of symbolic proximity or intuitions of plane-space hierarchy or concerns with theosophy or even allusions to a God. Mr. Rabinovich apparently has no qualms or caveats about the painter's use of the word "spiritual." That is a reasonable perspective and is most likely the majority opinion. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Oistrakh -- Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto

For me, this guy is the only one for this concerto.

Sometimes, I want to string together a bunch of fancy sentences explaining why Tchaikovsky's music is important to me. But who wants to read such self-indulgence? I'll just say that his music appeals to me very much.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

mostly hot air

When a certain moods hits, things get unusual.

A long time ago, I was divorced. I got very sad. Lost my bearings. Went up to Missouri, near Kansas City, to visit my parents. One weekend, they coaxed me to go with them out to some place where colorful hot air balloons were putting on a show.

Late afternoon. Big crowd sitting on the nice grass everywhere. Luxurious shadows cooling the summer. I sat there, watching the surreal balloons take off. I sat there, observing all the people everywhere. I was feeling very sad and quite lost.

A certain different mood hit, and things became unusual.

That mood was stimulated by the alien solidity of all those people strewn across the grass. They seemed to possess a disconcerting substance or concentrated will. You could see it in the experiential gravity of their eyeballs -- their looking eyes were intense with energy, like uranium marbles. Their collective body language expressed a kind of supernal entitlement. Being there did not flummox them at all. They were exactly where they were supposed to be at that particular time. They were one with this spectacle of floating hue and fabric.

That phenomenon of audience and balloons felt like a large conspiracy. Some secret ritual was occurring. I was an intruder, out of spirit with this event. As if a vapor in human form.

Yet...that mood of being almost nothing contained something wonderful.

In place of existential substance appeared a radical, deep, and beautiful ache. This pain was exquisite. How wonderfully awful to feel so alienated! Instead of being part of this tissue of shared time, I was splattered into pieces of null-yet-yearning plasma. Space became a far arena for absurd, impotent longing, rather than a bluegrassy plane for conspiratorial participation. This indefinite desiring into the impossible is suppler and subtler than the most poignant music. The texture of what is forever beyond one's disposition is a wondrous weave of ache and beguilement.

Thinking about this stuff now, I realize something. A lot of my poems are mostly hot air. A verbal peering into the invisible labyrinth of what can't be.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Schumann's Fantasy Pieces


Sometimes, a soul is encountered who makes a deep and lasting impression.

This person is inspiring and opens up a unique sense of world. When someone like this appears, life takes on a new color, glows with a quality similar to a resonant poem or poignant sonata. Time is deepened by knowing that person. Such a one enriches duration with a faint dreamlike aspect, something akin to fantasy or the uncanny. Something like hopefulness draws you toward them and gathers around you, intervening against despair or lostness.

You feel like you have known that friend forever. How dreadful never to have encountered such a person.

Their manner of expressing themselves is not ordinary, so you hang on every syllable. Yes, it is uncanny. At first you think "How wonderful. Someone who understands and appreciates me." But that's not really the thing. The frisson of such a feeling soon dissipates, and you begin to realize something else is happening. It's not really about the absurd vortex of your ego.

It's actually about gaining privileged access to another world. It's less about you and your needs than moving into a different mode of being. New impressions are breaths of exotic air. You are altered by contact with  someone who is almost a form of human magic. That sense of hopefulness they inspire is about becoming gradually reconciled to the mystery of time. Even to the baffling prospect of death. A form of muted and harmonious stoicism. The temporal dimension expands into metaphysical sublimity rather than into an environment for narcissistic grasping. You have touched a remarkable aspect of being, and that makes things worthwhile.

Maybe that is, though, the fulfillment of an unsuspected need. But it seems more an exposure to a beautiful riddling equation. The ego, id, and superego are obscured by a wonderful stupefaction. One might even attempt to capture this change of spirit across the lines of a poem. If you can accomplish that by sublimating the energy into a different theme, so much the better.

This person owes you nothing, because you are mostly nothingness. There would be something awry in the laws of the cosmos if this person found you of more than passing interest. So you are entitled to no expectation. When the one happens to make an appearance, it is a surprise, fiat, beatitude.

Even if you lose touch with such a one, the effect of their personality remains. Such a soul is unforgettable. The halls of memory echo a soft tonality of remembrance.

I scraped up some dollars...

...and went to the bookstore this morning. I bought this:

I'm going to enjoy this thing. And that's a fact.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

poetry and audacity

I read some poetry by internet poets. On blogs and websites. When I was on Facebook, I would read quite a bit of poetry by people who posted their stuff there. I also read some poems by people whose stuff gets published in cyber and print journals or in books.

For the most part, I'm struck by mediocrity. An attitude of mediocrity, a blasé disposition toward the possibilities of language. As if a poem is no big deal. As if a poem is where a slightly perturbed consciousness sets down its lines with a casual motivation and circumscribed expectation. If a handful of friends or a small circle of readers likes what has been written, mission accomplished. As time goes by, the circle might slowly expand. It's as if the poet says: "I'm satisfied to write poems that are not powerful enough to reverse Earth's magnetic field or cause frogs to levitate over Tokyo."

As if every attempt at writing a poem should not be to produce something marvelous, something on the highest level of artistic accomplishment.

A friend wrote me a while back. This friend was feeling disheartened, was having a moment of self-doubt, a crisis of confidence. The talent to write great poems, said my friend, was missing.

My friend may not realize it, but the main ingredient is already there for writing great poems -- the desire to write great poems. The audacity to hold such a thought in consciousness! I'm confident that my friend is one of the rare poets who will, eventually, produce great poems. I'm excited to think about what poems may come and how they will reverberate in my own consciousness.

My friend sent me some poems that had been written over the past year. They are already more marvelous than what I usually encounter. They are already haunted with an awareness of the great poets, are implicit with the audaciousness of those who turned language into art.

This is not about ego, although ego is always a part of artistic expression. This is about sensibility and appreciation for things that are on the highest level. It's about reaching for or climbing toward greatness.

Tomas Tranströmer writes with boldness. When I consider his images, I realize that he moves in an atmosphere far removed from the blasé. Yet showing-out doesn't enter into it. Rather, a compulsion toward quality has gathered around and spiraled into his work. The audacity of serious creation makes his images astound.

My friend and Tranströmer share an attitude toward the page:

"This new poem will not be a mediocre thing. This new poem will be a momentous occasion for shaping language into marvelous forms of echo and vision. Otherwise, why bother?"