Saturday, January 31, 2004

Reading List

reading and looking for other works on the same:
Leon Edel, editor. The Diary of Alice James
Jean Strause. Alice James: A Biography
Anne Carson. Men in the off Hours
Maurice Blanchot. Writing of the Disaster
Augustine. Confessions and City of God
James Stuart Ratcliffe. Rites of Passage: My Schizophrenic Youth in Mosaic
William Carlos Williams. Paterson
Robert Creely and Charles Olson. Charles Olson and Robert Creely: The Complete Correspondence
Virginia Woolf. Women and Writing (collection of her essays on the subject) and "On Illness"

looking for different books on politics of geography and landscape of United States

Henri Lefebvre's Critique of Everyday Life, vols 1-3

Robert Walser. Collected Stories (Sontag intro)

With my students:
Richard Delgado, ed. Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge
Dana D. Nelson. National Manhood: Capitalist Citizenship and the Imagined Fraternity of White Men
Salinger. Catcher in the Rye
Melville. "Bartleby, the Scrivener" and Benito Cereno
David Goodis. The Moon in the Gutter
Jim Thompson. The Nothing Man
Richard Russo. Empire Falls
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics
Horatio Alger. Ragged Dick
Thoreau. Walden, or Life in the Woods
Emerson. "Self-Reliance" and "Experience"
John F. Kasson. Amusing the Million
Alan Trachtenberg. Incorporation of American: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age

On the use of "still" on 1/30/04:

I am considering two approaches to "still" without having to mention it. Not because I don't want her voice to enter my text (but that is, in fact, part of the problem,) but because "it is still true" is my quotation of Benjamin not two lines earlier. The repetition doesn't seem useful or necessary.

I could, instead, simply refer to a list of details about that voice and its tone that recall a different sense of still than in Benjamin's usage yet conjures the idea of persistence.

Or, I could provide a technical list of possible definitions for still...I don't know...I'll add to this as I think about it. continued on--2/1/04.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Persistence in spite of myself

Once upon a time, we walked together hand in hand or so I would like to write not trite about a moment we spent walking holding hands. The walking once written is, now, not simply an act about which I can tell a story, construct a narrative or produce a tone--"one sunny walk" riffed into sound-- it is our walk written as the potential for a series of possible walks forming a permanent recollection-record and an image that has a concrete body (text) and implied mind (author--an author who must either be inserted and/or removed from that walk before it can be seen to have been walked and before it can have a position within a discourse of other similar and dissimilar walks.)

We may have experienced a walk and I may have written about it but I am only a stand-in for the process of comparison of our walks to all the others and then always already together moving into the city and its ambivalently twisted avenues forced into perpendicular streets.

Once upon a time we walked together hand in hand but now the walking is not simply walking but writing and the writing means much more to authors who have a stake in determining how my recollection should be represented in language to justify not walking nor the recollection of particularly remarkable walks nor even my claim to authority but to justify their own use of walking for all tomorrow's walks. And beyond the possibility for our once ordinary walk together under a blank, November sky, their potential words sit clumped together, matted about a body of decomposing works outside of which a young man sits picking out the most interesting, like-minded bits of memory's maggots; he determines and examines not the walk, day or unique perspective but the similar, recognizable and trite bits of content that narrative matter builds upon for any walk to be a determined walk and time to be a memorable time: that day to be not one day contemporaneous and intended with all the others at some time but a day similar to all the days that occurred at that time and the next and that time again.

And so I dagger about our walk suturing in moments only we share resisting nostalgia. But there it is already. A desire for authenticity leads to writing already shared moments as renewable moments and so we read of the walk as a stand-in for a real walk, as a pleasurable and interpretable text with no need for an author, to be experienced only as it is read, known only as it is pulled out of forgetfulness, as recollection, into common knowledge and compared to a formal walk explicitly refusing our one seamless blank November sky.

This walk sells the idea of a walk. A walk would be nice, wouldn't it? This setting sells the idea of a real position. Let's get back to that place where we once belonged. This time, the idea of a particular time. 1968 changed everything. And the fiction breaks down into structures of language, and the authors work to find meanings in phrases, and the critics find meaning in purposive translations. The active writer writes happily in moments of reorganizing and sampling secondhand experience. The only boundaries to my text are the margins and the persistence of historical artifacts to remain disordered and overwhelming before giving them over to words. Benjamin wrote of this "it is still true" meaning that in spite of the image and of its author and of the author's translator, in spite of it all, there is history. And Zukofsky is completely misunderstood. Williams forgotten. Dickinson edited. Everything aims at a materialist critique, a fundamentalist interpretation, a sickly Sarah Vowell cute-ness, or some revisionist history for political profit. Yet, I endured a working out of our walk and your hand in mine slightly wet and the approaching night stealing into the air from under a white autumn day. And I remember your calm response to my eager question, "Still."