His near stammering. With disconcerting promptness one word hid behind another. -- Maurice Blanchot, Le Dernier Homme Contact me: red3ad (at) yahoo (dot) com


Spicy Noodles. &c. 

A long day at work. Managed to print out an essay by Simon Critchley yesterday, something I'd glanced over at work Sunday, courtesy of the Library with Conditions. Had dinner at a small Thai place that generally caters to the office crowd during the day, but stays open until eight. It was nice to have a plate of noodles and read with the sense of leisure tiredness provides. SC covers a lot of ground in six pages -- I share his distrust (right word?- not quite) of "vanguard party" formations, also not quite taken with the faddishness, amog other things, of Hardt & Negri. (I read about 40pp of Empire and, like you're supposed not to do with a mystery novel, skipped ahead to the ending. The final section is startling and optimistic. Quite amazing. [As is the last paragraph of the Critchley lecture]).
I'm curious what it would have been like to hear it in real time, without the opportunity to go back and review... Probably the not uncommon sense of feeling like a pane of glass in a rainstorm, each raindrop/word collapsing into a sheet, pulled down by gravity -- leaving behind a faint scrim of dried particulate matter. But I think that I'd feel, leaving the auditorium, as I do now -- a little elevated, excited... that things are, after all, possible. I think I could spend most of tomorrow (day off) following up references, reading Laclau's response, wch I'll print out in a few minutes and bring home, toss on the desk, and flop onto the bed: a night of guilty pleasure television, then maybe a von Trotta DVD I picked up yesterday, which I'll probably fall asleep to. I keep thinking doing so will affect my dreans: I tried it for about a month, going to sleep with Nostalghia or Children of Paradise on (a friend was trying a similar thing with Joseph Cornell's Theatre of the Mind) but in all cases but for nought.
I've been writing this in the library; there's a partial view out towards the water, and I've watched the post sunset fade of sky from the blue-green-yellow of an old bruise to a rusty brown near the horizon. Now the lights inside are brighter than the remnants of light outside. I'm off. Cheers.



A friend signs off their e-mails with a quote from Lewis Thomas' The Lives of a Cell on the signature line. It's wonderful, and had slipped my mind until a message this morning. It goes:

"Ambiguity seems to be an essential, indispensible element for the transfer of information from one place to another by words, where matters of real importance are concerned. It is often necessary, for meaning to come through, that there be an almost vague sense of strangeness and askewness.Speechless animals and cells cannot do this. The specifically locked-on antigen at the surface of a lymphocyte does not send the cell off in search of something totally different; when a bee is tracking sugar by polarized light, observing the sun as though consulting his watch, he does not veer away to discover an unimaginable marvel of a flower. Only the human mind is designed to work in this way, programmed to drift away in the presence of locked-on information, straying from each point in a hunt for a better, different point. If it were not for the capacity for ambiguity, for the sensing of strangeness, that words in all languages provide, we would have no way of recognizing the layers of counterpoint in meaning, and we might be spending our time sitting on stone fences, staring into the sun. To be sure, we would always have had some everyday use to make of the alphabet, and we might have reached the same capacity for small talk, but it is unlikely that we would have been able to evolve from words to Bach. The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas


hoverring, dubious 

Notebooks fulfill their purpose. Or don't. Wch is, in a way, part of the project; arbitariness & tangentiality are integral to its function. Part of the cahiers has been incorporated into one project, parts are going into another. I'm putting it on hold for now & may eventually delete it, start anew. Though I deeply suspect that clicking a mouse on a "delete" button doesn't quite have the celebratory sense of striking a match and liberating piles of notes / manuscript into ash.



Not enough sleep last night. Walking to work, coffee & cigarette in hand, I pause on the corner, welcome the morning, shadows longer now with fall coming on. I wait for the light to change, watch people on their way to work; I can see a little bit of the water, smell it. It is early, it is possible, riding the edge, the burr of not enough sleep. Not entirely sure the word "burr" means anything in that sentence, but it came to me & might convey... something. An urge to put it into words. (Words: "imperfect mechanical devices" as Chris Mann put it.) But it's quite enough that fall is in the air. Autumns seem to proceed with their own, separate chronology. Permit me the device of a possibly awkward, surely mechanical simile: if chronological time is like the wire of a spiral notebook, continuous, but twisting to link various individual pages, then in fall it's as if the notebook were laid upon a table, a sequence of wire segments touching upon that plane. It is, and is not, 1991, 2002... Ellipsis becomes the form.


voice imitators 

I won't waste your time with a lengthy post here: simply put, I was at the newsstand and picked up a "literary journal" to find a quote from Poetry magazine -- clearly a case of the blind leading the blind here -- about how the joy of poetry lies in "finding a truly original voice." [Emphasis theirs].
I mean, what a filth of ignorance. Fools.

the approval of life, up to a point 

I can see something in the action of the suicide -- not a statement of the unmeaning of life, but in feeling its value too dearly. Overcome with a sense of incapacity, an ultimate act of refusal to compromise. Idealism taken to a pathological level, I think -- but then I wonder to what degree is any idealism a pathology.
"When I think about something, I'm really thinking of something else. You can only think of something if you think of something else.
"For instance, you see a landscape new to you. But it's new to you only because you mentally compare it to another landscape, one which you know."
I have JLG's In Praise of Love on in the background. That passage just played as I finished writing the paragraph above.

great problem / project 

Two summers ago I was working on a book; last year reviewing the proofs, etc... but this year, no Project: a form of work that encompassed reading, writing, sitting on park benches, smoking, even -- drifting, like smoke, with a sort of fuzzy intentionality. & how would I characterize the past few months? A general hatred of poetry, a tiredness, a lack. Partially due to politics [something I have promised myself not to write on here; I will say, though, that I have only underlined one phrase in any book, and I often turn it over in my mind as a consolation. It's from Borges: "Like all men, he was simply given bad times in which to live."]... partially an overabundance of light; a steady flux of job-work that, while I can't complain about it, leaves me without extended space to ruminate. Ah, to become bored.
There have been the occasional small poems. The sometimes-returned-to project of writing a description of the sky every morning upon waking. The dream of wrting a type of "conventional" narrative; something I find problematic on several levels, and a relationship -- the novel -- that I suspect will always resemble a form of courtly love.
The. Project. Doomed from the very words, implying, as they do, a future end, predetermined by accident, perverted by language. Better to build an empty box, impossible to be opened.
Hope constituted by the hopelessness of writing; writing its impossibility.

words like "hope" and"truth" enter into it
But there are other hopes, I know: friends were recently married. They asked me to write a piece for the wedding, wch was both flattering and something of a challenge: to write a text, an occasional piece, without cliche, and to remain personal while obviating as much of my self as possible: thinking, this has nothing to do with me, this is not about me... and the sort of freedom this constraint gave me. Knowing that for a few moments, while all eyes would be upon me, the writing was for those celebrating their commitment, and the writing, no matter how fine, would be subsumed by the event itself. Then -- gone.
And, as such, is perhaps the best case for writing.


interesting box 

"interesting box." It is.



an essay by Andrew Levy begins "Wonder about continuity when it comes to anything. Defeat the tendency of thought to delay itself promising a greater clarity at a later time. It's lying."

With the short nights of summer, I've pretty much quit setting an alarm clock. This lack of closure to rest time tends to bleed into the more useful portion of the day. No concrete projects; idleness and lassitude.

commitment: the blur 

to commit -- x number of hours of reading per day, y amount of writing -- perhaps writing that does not come; what then?

Sitting in the sunlit portion of the reading room, looking down the length, into the dim of it, long pale windows at the end. As I write, the black ink glistening wet for a few seconds, catching the light, so that the convoluting line seems to hover -- not dark, nor pale -- a shining thread above the blur of the page.


an episode of work 

What does the work of Blanchot ask of us? To read, to read, all the possibilities of that word, all that it engages. Upon completing a book, one realizes that a circle has been drawn close, a gap at its center revealed. L'attente, l'oubli. One hovers at the edge; the book cannot properly be shelved; it is undone, put on hold. Reading the end of the book, one fuflfills an obligation -- of writing itself -- and begins again.



It's safe to publish poems by my friend emma zek here, since she never uses the internet. Not inappropriate, this morning, the damp calend of September:

are we going to share one of those horrible moments now
just sitting there
the rain comes down as snow

sky like cotton wool
the world held in God’s mouth
so he can’t talk

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