Thursday, September 30, 2004


So, Thomas is right to point out and I was wrong not to...I just assumed we were playing.

Wittgentein does not talk about "white chickens" in On Certainty.

He writes, in section 1:
If you do know that here is one hand, we'll grant you all the rest. When one says that such and such a proposition can't be proved, of course that does not mean that it can't be derived from other propositions; any proposition can be derived from other ones. But they may be no more certain than it is itself.

I hope all dagzine's readers can see in what manner William Carlos Williams's "so much depends upon" is related to this Wittgenstenian take on propositions. He insists that "any proposition can be derived from other ones." So much depends upon the one hand.

Well, I like Thomas's use of WCW. It charges my exploration and I think he used it because he saw it. Because of my WCW obsession and studies, I just used Thomas's statement. I mean: I got it. It's useful in applying propositions and logic to the poem as a state of affairs that contains objects which can be arranged in different ways. If we are addressing certainty, we can actually step back from everything but the language itself and its use. This is why I may have to throw in some discussion of the psychotics dependence on what Lacan called radical certainty. Lacan used radical certainty in his seminars on the psychoses to distance his discussion from reality. The psychotic is not concerned with what is real--Merleau-Ponty handles this well in Phenomenology of Perception--the psychotic is concerned with certainty.

At any rate, for all those head-scratchers out there, I think at worst I was being sloppy. I hope the use of the revised statement can be seen in light of the discussion at hand.

If anything, it does as Thomas notes in a comment below get to the case the we make of the world a picture of facts.

Thomas (and Jay, et al): I am also interested in the Stanley Cavell (as you may have guessed.) I see a picture as a problem because of technology and technique: is it a painting or a photograph? Good question. For as Cavell troubles over in The World Viewed, a painting is "a world" and a photograph is "of the world." We have read more than enough comparisons of poetry and prose to painting, especially in regards impressionism v. expressionism. With prose, now there is realism v. irrealism. But what if we chuck the relation to "the real" for a moment and consider that poetry and prose can be more than representations of the world, in fact excessively present the world in its of-the-world-ness? Do you see where I am going?

More later.

But for clarity: No white chickens in Wittgenstein. And you may laugh: I was talking to my workshop the other day and mentioned the statement with white chickens in it and we all had a good laugh. Although I do believe that a few folks would have simply gone along with my mistake. A question: is it because I sound authoritative and they wouldn't confront me with my obvious mistake, is it because they got the point, or is it because they were listening but not hearing, or is it something else entirely? I mean...I am a bit embarrassed, but Thomas is the first person to point out the warped use as a problem. Oh well. I am a bit to self-conscious.

Will write soon to handle issues in the comments and my points outlined yesterday.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

for those of you about to doubt....Fire...

I know I will receive junks of comments on David Foster Wallace--his fans are rabid defenders of the faith. So, I will quote him on Irony from his essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction".

DFW is more concerned with herding techniques than he is with defining terms and rigorously examining his own points. His discourse is purely dialectical, always oppositional, and as such is atopic in the worst sense.

DFW: "So then how have irony, irreverence, and rebellion come to be not liberating but enfeebling in the culture today's avant-garde tries to write about? One clue's to be found in the fact that irony is still around, bigger than ever after 30 long years as the dominant mode of hip expression."

Me: What is "hip expression" really? The term itself is the problem itself. The ironic pose is a self-regarding and narcissistic pose. Hip Expression is about as hollow as a concept can be constructed. It is meant for YOU to fill, then and only then does HIS claim make sense and cease to be ironic. In other words, whatever Hip Expression means, his reader's are meant to supply the reason in support of its own claim, which is only its naming of itself.


DFW: "This is because irony, entertaining as it is, serves an almost exclusively negative function. It's critical and destructive, a ground-clearing. Surely this is the way our postmodern fathers saw it."

ME: Ironists make accidents. Little boo-boos. See David's pain? It is represented by the need to guard the Father. Very religious. Questions: Who are these "fathers"? And, is he aware of the masculinist framework in which he operates?


DFW: "The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit 'I don't really mean what I'm saying.' So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it's impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it's too bad it's impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today's irony ends up saying: "How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean."

ME: What a rant. What a lazy rant. Irony is one thing. Cultural irony is another. He slips between the two as if they were equal. They are certainly similar. But to regard all irony as cultural irony is to say that culture is the defining element in irony. Well, I always thought irony, when used properly, turned the gaze on culture itself. So, what is cultural irony? Is it culture-at-work in an ironic mode? And if so, then how does culture represent its subject to us and itself? Does culture embody itself? I thought we imagined it. If he is going to critique cultural irony, he should be able to define it working in society. Whereas his critique is a beginning, it doesn't even bother to examine its own logical implications that are visibly there in the language.


DFW: "And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It is the new junta, using the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself"

ME: No, David. Cute move. But your essay illustrates the tyranny of the "too-successful" rebel. This is your confession. You expose yourself. If this is a purposeful gesture for good and useful reasons, fine. Regardless, it isn't ironic. It is simply unimaginative. And possibly unethical, since a reader would be justified in assuming the reason for such a gesture was to offer a mock apology or false modesty.


DFW: "The next real literary 'rebels' in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue."

ME: How can one rebel while accreting to a set of dogmatic principles. Write about life with reverence and conviction? Who is he kidding? Very bourgeois. Many young writers probably gobble this junk up. What purpose does it serve when confronted with the Ironic moment itself while writing. Should one steer clear because of the possibility that the ironic is no longer authentic? I see such a meeting as a fortunate opportunity to explore an individual(s) confronting the inauthentic. Because, no matter what DFW insists, there are two modes of Being: the authentic and the inauthentic. We aren't capable of living always in authenticity.


DFW: "Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval."

ME: Oh, the real rebels. I thought he meant the artificial rebels. You know, Splenda Rebels. Rebels on coke rather than crystal. He means the afficianados--those professional rebels. Again, the stench of the market.


DFW: "The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism."

ME: They didn't risk anything; they got what they wanted. A rebel isn't apologetic; and a rebel doesn't act in order to receive. Unless, the rebel is a market rebel; a rebel bound in the manner his books are to sales or bound by the love of his students.

Those are the fathers DFW is thinking of above. The writers who herd flocks. The shameless self-promoters. Fortunately, those fathers cannot now be nor have ever had the opportunity to become rebels. Their becoming will always be up for debate.

I submit that irony is a distraction. Rebels become. Not are becoming. They become at this time and now and now and now and now and now and never then.

My artful silence

First, an aside for Thomas and Jay: isn't Rhetoric the artful silence? If you slip while thinking, silence turns into science.

Mapping the constellation so far:
1. Jay and Thomas continue their engaging discussion on Wittgenstein below. See the comments to my 9/23 entry "Preparing a response: Limits".
2. On 9/17, I offered a response to Nick Piombino's aphorism on Thought with the entry "Accompaniment". A link to Nick's aphorism is there. If you want to begin at the beginning, so there.
3. Nick responded; Jay joined the conversation giving it further direction, then Laura and Thomas joined. These appear to be the main participants so far.
4. In addition, many folks have been reading, and I hope, will begin participating.
5. Also, there are bits of significant color in my underdeveloped and playful but related posts on Robert Frost's definitions for the sentence.

Here is my return to the discussion. Below I quickly outline my continuing thoughts, and am quite happy to let them fester a bit more before I continue in detail this Friday.

Thomas's last comment is where I was intending to go but with different results. (If I am wrong about your direction, Thomas, let me know.) I do think we can use the epistemological arguments in W's T and PI to consider constructing a poetics. Here I differ slightly from both Jay and Thomas. I don't see any problem at all with steering Wittgenstein away from himself for our use. I think of this as a Nietzschean move--he did it with Kant--or a Heideggerian move--he did it with Nietzsche--or a Marx move--he did it with Hegel.

My claim: First, we must assume we are addressing the subject of language and thought. Second, we assert that literary art has something meaningful and useful to say about the state of things that is neither science nor philosophy though it may use both in its speaking. Then, we can make the following claim. If what philosophy and science cannot say must be passed over in silence, then literary art need not silently speak what philosophy and science must pass over in silence.

Both Jay and Thomas will immediately notice that I have made a small leap because from my givens to my claim two complex implications are left assumed that shouldn't be. I need to come to terms with the overcoming of the silent utterance I have implied can be spoken. I hint at my solution in the title to this entry and the playful definition of rhetoric as the "artful silence."

Thomas quotes Wittgenstein: "If you can see the white chickens, I'll grant you all the rest." Well, his gesture is a sacrifice more than a gift. The philosopher has limits just as the scientist does. On the other hand, we don't say that the writer is limited in the same way a philosopher or scientist is: The literary artist has no limit. But "possesses no limit" is itself a Limit--or, we could say, is Limited. And that is the second implied claim I must address. I have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, it is enjoyable and constructive. And undeniably debatable.

This is where I will go and what I will try to discuss and I will use Thoreau and Emerson...Thoreau's Walden and Emerson's "Circles" among other essays. I will use Olson and his discussion of breath and the reader's involvement in breathing the poet's breath--parts one and two of "Projective Verse." There are helpful discussions between Olson and Creeley within their earliest letters--the bits about attending to voice. The scolding that goes on.

Anyway, there is another way to look at this. If the phenomenologists were onto anything at all, I feel that their (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, et satellites) aim best illustrates how Philosophy is the science of Science. What scientists cannot discover through methodology, the philosophers handle. If Emerson's definition for the purpose and use we make of literary artists and their craft/product in "Circles" is precise, then we can safely (which is important for the ability to implement any idea in everyday use, though I prefer dangerously) then we can safely submit that literary art holds stable philosophy and science and all the rest in silence. In other words, in the background. Poetry is The Case.

Now, this should not tempt us to locate our debate inside a teleological frame. The philosopher does this--the scientist, too. The end of philosophy is always some par excellence or another. The end of science is the thing itself by way of a representative solution to a unique method. The end of literary art is its own destruction because literary artists revise method and excellence in each moment.

The literary artist takes hold of the matter of everyday experience with language and, for a moment, shows us ourselves. The intimate relationship that exists through language and thought between the writer and reader is a world shattering campaign contra History and Modernity. [Nietzsche, in The Gay Science talks about Romanticism and Idealism and the desire for destruction--he writes about the mistake of "backward inference." I will get to this as well.] The relationship between literary artist and reader is not the relationship between philosopher and reader (Nietzsche knew this; Susan Howe works on such problems) and is certainly not the relationship between the scientist and citizen. [aside: this is the problem with Aristotle after all. "Wouldn't it be nice?" is all one can say.]

So, the literary artist's aim, when accurate, destroys the telos language and thought are used to cultivate through philosophical discourse. Nevertheless, and this is vital, we depend on philosophy to address those things science cannot address because of the limits its own eminently safe methodology constructs and those ideas art cannot address because IT is not utterable.

Whereas poets tend to accept the need for a poetics (a dialogue as much aout verse itself as it is about the inability to address the poetic object at all,) which is as close as the poet artist gets to philosophy itself, the majority of prose practitioners roll in their own anti-intellectual shit as if they enjoyed the smell of being oneself without knowing oneself. And don't think I am taking sides. I am, after all, in a Fiction program. I chose this route over Poetry because poets tend to see prose in anything that doesn't resemble one of many traditional verse forms. Fortunately, Bin Ramke and Brian Kiteley will both work with me and are more than aware of the limitations and problems of experimentation. One simply cannot be experimental based on a desire to be performing new speech acts in verse and prose. On emay improvise or is always traditional in that a work is always comparable to one other. I think we can agree that we haven't left form behind and that we don't want to and that (quite possibly) we cannot. Epistemology is a help here, by the way. Poets--even those most concerned with objects--tend to forget that they use language. No matter the argument discourse about poetics, poetry, prosody tends to incorporate a bit of modesty that prose artists reject. The typical prose artist struggles to see beyond the work itself at any given time and often offers ridiculous claims about the field. Their statements are either totally solipsistic--useless--or overwhelmingly world-encompassing--colonialistic. (See DF Wallace's statements about Irony and contemporary (American) novel--if I recall properly, he claimed he was going to quit because everything was terribly ironic. Sure, this is an ironic statement. Nevermind that a reader can find irony of this sort anywhere; DFW's critique incorporates the most flawed vision of Irony--its most debased and typical form. Wallace's humor, alas, is for the market. Utterly exchangeable as a quantifiable form without quality.)

But I digress. To return: the literary artist cannot address IT. All writer's know IT well--that thing we cannot write but write around. IT drives the text. IT is in consciousness and behind consciousness. IT fuels the return of the repressed but is not the result of that return. IT is visible and invisible, opaque and translucent. I think of IT as analogous to the "splash of red" Maupassant's madman sees in "Le Horla." IT has a quality not quantity, and that is how we address IT to each other--through prose and verse. Consequently, we only modify Its qualities in language. The philosopher is in many ways dedicated to addressing our limits by iluminating those same limits, therefore taking us closer to IT with language. In this manner, we all write forward together.

The arrow again. Broken yet

swift and accurate.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

musical interludes

I am passionate about music, as many of you are I am sure. My tastes are eclectic at best. I have a record fetish. When I tended bar, I used to spend half my money--this is a lot of dough--on vinyl.

Lately, I have been listening to Satie. I can listen to the Ogives I-IV repeatedly. For cheap, you can get all the piano works, performed by Klara Koermendi.

I am going to begin dj-ing again; so I just bought new turntables--Andrea and I found a beautiful Denon turntable for the house, wood finish, colorful lights, quiet and clear projection. Wonderful stuff.

But I have been in my office since 6am grading essays and listening to the sludge-drenched chord progressions of Thrones. Any Melvins fans out there? Brutal with a sense of humor and intellect, and much less ironic than most fans and critics suggest.

Thrones Sperm Whale EP has a cover of the theme song from one of the worst/best Spaghetti Western series, Django. Campy. I had to share. Find it. Listen. Enjoy a laugh. The "EP" contains a 45minute opus "obolus" which is wonderful. And for you vinyl fans...this track (in edited form) is available on a wonderfully art-directed 12" from Kill Rock Stars. I am sure it was limited; mine is numbered. The sleeve is black construction paper and silkscreened rabbits with daggers. A must find. If you're interested, I'll send you more info.

But I had to share the Django cover with somebody. Nobody else around.

Now back to the drone...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A great conversation in the comments below...I am taking notes. As I complained yesterday, I am teaching too much and I picked up essays from four classes last week. Lump that together with my course load--workshop and phenomenology course--and you know I am booked. Still--Jay, Thomas--I am taking notes and will have more to add to the Wittgenstein thought project by Tuesday, maybe tomorrow night.

And I already know how I want to finish my point below about Frost and will get to that as well.

In both cases, I want to take the time to respond to many of the points in a meaningful way. So expect a few more marathon posts.

I am currently reading:
Camus. The Fall
Magdalena Tulli. Dreams and Stones
Ludwig Wittgenstein. Tractatus & Philosophical Investigations
JL Austin. Philosophical Papers
Husserl. Ideas
Thoreau. Walden

my favorite blogs

and student essays. Fortunately, my fifth class is a philosophy course in ethics. Tomorrow, I give them a review for their first exam. They write essays in class. This exam is on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. We incorporated into our discussion the films Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt). I wish I could teach five ethics classes. I am getting burned out, seriously, from all the essays. I want to give each student the same courtesy. After 80 essays, how is it possible?

For my students reading this, don't freak, just bring me ice cream. I love ice cream.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

I'm hearing THINGS

Nevermind that Greg Perry doesn't like my reduction of Frost's aesthetics to a cultural critique (see below), I can understand that. However, I am pretty certain that if one hears a sound, then that sound has a source. In Frost's definition of the sentence and from what I gather from his ideas concerning the sound of sense (the intonations in voice that almost by themselves reveal the content of the sentence spoken, to cite Perry paraphrasing Frost), sound makes the content of the sentence known. Fine. I like that.

But when he moves to his definition for a new sentence, this idea is taken to an extreme that I don't like mainly because I find the reasoning circular.

A sentence is a sound in itself upon which other words may be hung. He implies that words should be hung properly, which I take as a worngheaded attack on an over-used and over-determined definition of vers libre. First of all, Perry (channeling Frost) seems to rely on a binary that is much too restrictive--formalism and free verse. Yuck! No way, man. Simply is not the distinction that existed neither then nor now.

oops...I am way too busy. Will Continue this Later...

By the way: Thank you Nick Piombino for supporting Dagzine; and Steve Evans, Tony Tost, Ernesto Priego, Greg Perry, Laura Carter, Jay Thomas, Alli Warren; all those who have recently mentioned DZ...thanks for continuing to read and share your thoughts...out the door.

did i mention that teaching five classes is enough to drive you mad?

intentions and conventions

I have to wrap my mind around the excellent exceptions to my preliminary ideas about the limits to knowing and inferring the thoughts of an other in my Sept.23 post on "Limits."

Jay Thomas handles my discussion from three perspectives and I will address each this weekend. I just finished teaching: on Saturday, it's two three-hour courses, one after the other.

I am always beat a bit after, and we had a wonderful department reading last night. I am really proud of my fellow writers this year. I think we have a great group at DU presently. Even those who are unsure of themselves, seem to show the potential to actually do something.

I read about bus rides, spider bites, bits of information, a broken pencil lead, a spinning black mark, sticking the broom handle into the fan while bending over to look under the bed, and my mother the vampire. Andrea says I touch my face too much while reading; considering I used to hold my hand over my mouth, I have improved. A classmates says it looks like I am eating my words. I am going to write about that probably.

Listening to the rain outside WC244.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Re--it--er--ation, Re--it--er--a--a--tion...

I give Frost credit. Tying shirts together between two trees is certainly not good for the clothes. But what that image has to do with the way syntax is necessary to a line in verse is not necessarily as he puts it in his new definition for the sentence.

To make myself clear:

First, there is a sense to nonsense that doesn't rely on the sound in itself from which we derive sentences; Or, from which we rely on sentences to be derived. We're talking syntax here and prosody--in other words FORM and the History of Form. Frost, as I will repeat below, privileges form. That is an implicit objective for his new definition. And in the implication is the sense of a man re-acting to the move away from formal conventions for the play content-ion allows in objectivist and projective writing.

Second, if a sentence is "a sound in itself", then the sentence apparently has its own sound as a singular object: there is THE sentence (sing) and THE words (pl). Words (pl) "may" be strung on it (sing). Frost doesn't address what happens when words are not strung on the sentence properly other than to say such a move is "bad for the clothes." This is why I make the comment that he is more interested in style than in the clothes themselves. He privileges the line from which they hang and claims that line is primary.

Third, the "sound itself" for any given sentence must exist a priori to the appearance of that sentence. Does he write this explicitly? NO. Yet, it has to be so. Otherwise, the sentence could not have a sound in itself; possibly after itself, or with, or alongside itself, but not in itself. This is not to say that trochaic verse, for example, doesn't have a sound. But we hear it and then categorize it and then seek it out to use it. This isn't precisely an in itself. Unless, we authorize it as the verse form to be used at such-and-such a time in order to perform such-and-such an act. Then, it is a sound distinct from others with an appropriate use as defined by convention, through a consistent use. Trochaic verse dances along stressed to unstressed in steps we call feet. But Frost privileges the line (tying clothes together from tree to tree to form a clothes-line [BAD] or using a clothes-line from which to hang words [GOOD]) over the word or Form over Content.

And Frost may be digging out that we don't present the sound in itself; he may be insisting that we never forget that our work is to represent that sound. Fine. Still, I have a problem with his definition. Lines are infinitely revisable, though finitely populated. In other words, I cannot fathom an end to the ways I represent thoughts, though I am limited to the number of words I can use to construct my thoughts in sentences. [pardon this transition here because this is a complex topic; this is where we need to dig in; this is the crux; and this is what Frost ignores] The sound is fine-tuned not by the sound in itself but by poets for themselves.

I am thinking of Susan Howe at the moment. I don't think she would agree completely with Frost's new definition. Who knows? Let's ask. She might have something useful to add to this discussion. Nevertheless, in much of her work the sound in itself is an imposition to be overcome. The way we form Dickinson, the way we conform women. The way we deform language. Huston Baker, Jr., his famous Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance is useful, too, in which he defines what he calls the "mastery of form" and the "deformation of mastery." That black artists--Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, for example--all had to master a white form and then deform its mastery in order to cultivate or produce a space from which to be writers. Fred. Jameson argues that modernity is marked by the breaks and periods in which the innovations of modern artists produce or clear a space for them to work in society, a space that didn't exist before they made their break. But a process such as Baker defines removes certain artists further from the modern period, further from breaking into culture, simply based on their bodily construction in social space, nevermind what they do with the clothes that hang from sentences.

Frost's definition insists on the prohibition of a deformation of mastery and limits the good use of the clothing of language and thought to sentences that have masered a form. They are, in fact, pre-formed. This is imposed culture to some--the aesthetic component of Empire that colonizes verse not through interpretation but through inscription and patronage.

Again, I "inferred": Frost argues words strung along a sentence must be strung according to a rule of syntax that is a priori. This is not an inferrence nor a straw man. As I offered in response to Greg within a comment to my last post, I believe that this is implied in Frost's definition. I know I may not be RIGHT, but correctness isn't the point. If we take a step back from the claim and attenuate sound, we hear: A sentence is a line that clothes are hung from. Frost has found a way to build into the evaluation of a line, the critique of the use of words based on how words sound on that line. If that line doesn't have an a priori syntax that Frost wishes for us to agree upon come hell or highwater, then how can he possibly position himself to determine which representations or constructions are "bad for the clothes"? --Then how can he be sure that tying the clothes together isn't useful in the case of language representing thought? Certainly he didn't simply take his shirts, tie them between two trees after washing them, left them to dry, and recognized how wrinkled and worn they were after a day in the New England sun, and then proclaimed, "And so it is with the sentence." Damn if all his shirts didn't get ruined, and he was forever remebered for he twisted and wrinkled cuffs and sleeves.

No. A Frostian sentence appears to exist as itself and with its own sound before being uttered no matter what a poet wishes to say. In this manner and this manner only, a sentence has a sound in itself upon which other sounds are hung (words.)

I know the sentence or line is the poet's tool, so to speak. But that is not the FULL sense of Frost's definition. His definition sounds like an attempt at recovery. And I ask myself, what did Frost believe we had lost or were quickly losing so that he needed to create a new definition FOR the sentence. As ambassador of the sentence, what gift does he bear? I suggest: Recovery of form from the background; Decomposing the allure of content, the play of words, and the revision of history through experimental verse; reassessing the free-play of tastes in cacaphonous celebration; and retreating from rising glossolalia--like a burp that brings forth bile. All sympathetic retreats and an understandable source of angst--the desire for recovery of form and the achievement of something solid in language. We see these things when we step outside of a form and examine many similar and different forms in combination and then re-enter the moment to examine the artist's labor with a better idea about how the culture functions through each of us. My examination of Frost's line may be similar to what has been called sociological microscopy. But I am not simply inferring and penning insulting treatises.

Again, from out of Frost's definition we find that either meaning is secondary to sound OR meaning is partially determined by sound. (I like the implications of the latter more than the former.) In this way, Frost can criticize what is good or bad for the clothes.

Well, I think it is safe to say two things about Frost: 1) He's dead; 2) He's more than concretely and justifiably encased. Therefore, his position as an important man of letters is not stained much by my disagreement with his arguments about the sound of sense. But if one feels the need to defend the man, so be it. Nor am I going to do much through my post to tear down that wall of white privilege that exists and supports much of the mainstays of modernist discourse. And if one is not willing to accept that such is in fact the way of cultural discourse, well maybe on another day. But I won't apologize for bringing it up. Such matters are vital.

Tautology as The Poet in Search of Himself and A Power he has not Earned (revised)

Robert Frost through Greg Perry:
I give you a new definition of a sentence:

A sentence is a sound in itself on which other sounds called words may be strung.

You may string words together without a sentence sound to string them on just as you may tie clothes together by the sleeve and stretch them without a clothes line between two trees, but—it is bad for the clothes.

Frost's definition is excellent for Frost. What poses as a meaningful definition--a logical definition of a sentence--ends up as a rhetorical introduction for a critique of other verse. In other words, the significance of his definition is not the so-called definition but the claim that all else is "bad for the clothes."

O, come to the defense of Frost if you must. I will say now: I read his poems. I'll say now: I have a genuine interest and admiration for Frost's work. I'll make it clear: a working knowledge and continuing learning of prosody is essential to a well-rounded education of poetry, of poetics. The problem is his explicit prohibition and the circularity in his reasoning. Quite simply, the definition assumes that the sentence structure exists prior to the line we recognize as a sentence after it is written: uses the word SOUND to anchor the sentence object as a SOUND object to address poetics and bracket linguistics. The problem is Frost "sounds" like Kant; the sound itself is analagous to the thing itself. And I agree with Nietzsche's critique of the thing itself.

In the case of poetics and sound itself, a reliance on the existence of such is actually a deferrence to a higher authority and a continually willful or voluntary surrender to that authority. Such an artists surrenders either fully or partially the will to create. And what he or she doesn't fully surrender is guiltily enjoyed and deformed. This produces within the artist, in this case poet, a slavish reliance on form without personal investment in cultivating new forms--in fact is prohibited from accessing such investment. To digress: we may wish to link such an attitude towards the new--locating it in tradition, in renewal--to the falling out of poetry, not from the market, but from the people. Why read poetry? is the question from the public to the poet. Why read poetry if it sounds the same, if it is what IT is? If it is not capable of innovation (renovation)? To return: this perspective promotes an attachment to a market of ideas constructed to cultivate ideological relationships to the exchange of poetic objects as economic objects. This process gets us counting while we should be emoting.

And, it provides authorities like Frost, an infamous grump (and that is kind,) a position of power that has the flavor of white masculine power structures. Because the sound itself: is it English or Russian that this sound comes from? Is it Teutonic or Mandarin? Who deserves to choose which sound in human language is more primary? Or which cultural factors permit specific artists to continue to construct such definitions on behalf of all other authors? I should ask many questions in this examination, questions the artist resists at best or disregards as beneath him. At any rate, I can think of many historically celebrated poems that do not illustrate Frost's "new" definition.

And what is "new" about it? Is it because is has the sound of the modern?

If a sentence is to be defined as A SOUND IN ITSELF (an object we'll call X) upon which WORDS (also sounds in themselves, but secondary objects while finite not worth assigning a single variable) are strung, then the sentence itself as an empty structure is prior to the sounding of the sentence. Think of Thoreau's discussion of the appearance of the loon and the call of the loon at Walden Pond. The relationship of an object's appearance is always troubled by the sounding of the object itself. The sentence is not necessarily the sound that must be there prior for the utterance of the thought to appear properly. Sometimes the sound is wrong when it is correct. In such cases, literary artists above all other speakers and users of language have the ability to break free from the self-sounding others and reconstruct the sentence itself in order to actually write a NEW SENTENCE. At any rate, If the above rephrasing of Frost's "new definition" weren't accurate, then his new definition would be patently silly. In other words, according to his defintiion, the structure for X must exist in each appearance or case before the sound of X and the sounds of all the words are secondary to the predetermined sound of X that as a fact must contain words to be said to have been uttered.

Frost implies thoughts--what bubbles up from being and erupts as words, phrases, then clauses--conform to language. And I think most of us would agree with this. To some extent we must cater to the capability of language to utter thought. We do say, for example, "I am searching for just the right words." But wait...according to Frost, we must know/recognize the right sentence that has a determined sound that restricts the use of words--syntax, order, length of breath, tone, all of our technique really--to sounding out the sentence properly. Or we ruin the clothing (that language gives thought. Of course, I agree with Wittgenstein that language is not primarily designed to expose the form of thought.) Frost's definition can serve no practical purpose other than to distinguish correct and incorrect presentations of language in verse because it simply refuses to address language as a whole. In other words, his new definition is not of the sentence but of style. And as such his is more of an attempt to claim that taste--what sounds sound proper (good and useful) to the ear--is predetermined and not up for debate.

The sentence, for Frost, defines the sentence. It's like tuning the orchestra--A must sound like A to be A, so all artists play a line of A in chorus and that line sounds like A or it isn't A. Works fine for tuning, but certainly has little to do with the sounds produced in chorus during the performance of a composition. In fact, many great composers have experimented with exactly this problem in the production of sound. I think of Terry Riley's In C immediately only because I was listening to it this morning. I think of Jazz improvisation as well. I think of what Coltrane does with breath; I think of what Olson does with breath. All violate the prohibitions of such a restrictive definition. Or, by his definition, they are bad for the clothes. Of course, this is only the case if you believe that language is designed to perform such a specialized task primarily and all others secondarily. That his definition is the telos of the sentence and all others are degraded forms. Not in my language.

The definition is useful, however. In other words, it is not THE definition of the sentence. In this way, it may have been A new defintion, or one new sentence. His is a good argument for the use of templates through which to temper our expression in verse (or prose.) Regardless, writer's have good reasons to refuse templates, as many if not more as there are reasons to use them.

I hadn't time to really revise this much before posting it about 90 minutes ago, so this version is in fact revised with a few qualifications. And I now add what I was going to end with before I had to leave my office to teach: I might be more inclined to agree with Frost if he had written something like, "A sentence is a line on which words are strung." Drop that sounds business.

A claim, then, to gather similarities from above:
Sounds are not lines.

I might add, though I haven't considered at length, that sounds are not structured like lines. Lines have necessary obligations that sounds ignore. It may be that sounds are asked to oblige but simply refuse regardless of our needs. As language can escape us in our moments of need to communicate positively private experience, sounds can betray us in our moments of need to communicate appropriately public experience.

Or something like that.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Preparing a response: Limits

I am going to put on the table, so to speak, the elements I will concern myself with in further response to Nick Piombino's thoughts on thoughts (my thoughts on his thoughts, as well) and Jay Thomas's responses to both. I invite any and all participation in this conversation. I am playing and reflecting, but not in solitude. [Please pardon any grammos and typos...I had to rush through this.]

First: On Wittgenstein, particularly from his work in the Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus
  • Literary artists tend to get a bit uncomfortable with philosophers or epistemologists who claim logic to be more important than psychology (and the ultra-vague "culture" or "sociology") to the investigation into the limits of thought and language; but this is Wittgenstein's goal.
  • From his Introduction he reflects: "Perhaps this book will be understood only by someone who has himself already had the thoughts that are expressed in it--or at least similar thoughts." (My emphases.) The first sentence of his treatise contains the keys to its purpose:
    • Wittgenstein is concerned with Solipsism.
    • He is going to write about thought, the limit of thinking about thought.
    • He is going to write expressively. I risk stating the obvious only because we tend to focus so much on the heavy word LOGIC which is so important to Wittgenstein's work. Nevertheless, this work is a work of possibilities: the limitless quality of possibility. In a manner of speaking, we can rightly say, "I can only say what I think, and what I think must be possible, and all else is not to be uttered." --Not to be uttered because it is not possible. The impossible is apparently a topic for psychology not because it isn't useful, but because it isn't utterable. Once the impossible is uttered, in other words, it is a fact and possible and etc.
  • He continues, "The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence." How do we find a way to clearly say what we say so that we can mean what we say? This is important for the logician, the epistemologist, and the literary artist. But I am very interested in the second part of the statement. Wittgenstein recognizes a prohibition on talking about "what we cannot talk about." Why not write something simple such as: We cannot talk about what we can not think. The sense is that the silence is imposed on thought by or through logic, which makes it worth study outside of the psychological and sociological.
  • We must find a way to say what we mean by drawing a limit to the expression of thoughts. As a result we will be able to recognize sense from nonsense.
  • In many ways, Wittgenstein's Tractatus makes all things possible in literature. If it can be uttered, it is possible and its possibility has a limit. The world is divided into facts, a totality of facts determines what is the case or is not the case. What is the case, he writes, is the existence of states of affairs/things and those states are composed of a combination of objects.
    • A poem is a fact because it is a state of affairs and is comprised of things we call sounds, words, lines, etc. We could do the same with an epic, story, or novel.
  • W: "Just as we are quite unable to imagine spatial objects outside space or temporal objects outside of time, so too there is no object that we can imagine excluded from the possibility of combining with others" (2.0121, my italics).
    • Production of space
    • Authority--the cult of the Author--the crap line that so-and-so began such-and-such form, or owns such-and-such style that so many writers use to critique one another in workshop and in public.
    • All poems have all poems in common, very atomistic: this troubles the reliance on prosodic form to justify the use of any content. Nonsense is nonsense even though it sounds pretty, or is a sonnet. But breaking rules to break rules is just as useless.
  • Now, we get into the territory of Nick Piombino's aphorism--"The final thought of thought is freedom from thought."--W argues that any thought contains the possibility of the situation of which it is the thought. He argues that what is thinkable is possible. (3.02)
    • Idealistic sounding, optimistic?, more so than it is unfortunately. A thought must be thought not simply possible. In other words, a thought of a thought is not a possibility or a case or a state of being. (Reference the problem with Utopian philosophy and Futurism.)
    • Think of W at 3.12: I call the sign with which we express a thought a propositional sign.--And a proposition is a propositional sign in its projective relation to the world.
      • See Charles Olson please on the projective. No accidental or negligible relation, I can assure you. In 3.13, W notes that a propisition merely contains the form of its sense, not the content of sense. That is the literary artist's duty. Once again, slavish duty to prosodic narratives of sense and sound do nothing for the projective relation a sign has to the world. Prosody relates to prosody and that is its only sense. Rhyme relates to rhyme. But the content in the field of poetry is unbound in every sense except that it is bound by what is utterable, and if it is utterable it is possible. I am not arguing that all possible poems or stories, for that matter are good, but they are all poems and stories nonetheless.
        • So, Hank Lazer, What is a poet? I do not believe we need worry about when poetry will have its next big star as Lazer does in his discussion of post-Lowell America. Never mind the relationship of poetry to the market--needs much more examination than I can afford, heh. My two cents: poetry is not market-bound, left the market, for its own good, catapulted itself back into language, left the everyday behind which it is consistently, obsessively even, attempting to regain, and now is quite frankly bound up within itself and its own problems. This isn't a problem. It should be only the slavish versifiers of lilting sounds and nonsense, those who wear poet-masks of poets gone, who really care whether poetry makes any sound sense in the market. The Poet Capitalists have lost out, thankfully. The idealism is there, but the idealist is an isolationist.
      • Notice how logic prepares space and time for thought to express itself and the quality of its "always already" (to crib from the phenomenologists) there-ness. See above about thoughts and situations, but if W is precise in his representation of thought, then the possibility for a situation must be there prior to the occurence or utterance of its thought.
      • This is playful stuff for logic and not as prohibitive as it first appears in the logician's notational form. Notation and Verse are similar: If you do not believe me, take a closer look.
    • So, if the final thought of thought is freedom from thought, then freedom from thought is, first of all, possible, and second of all, situated as the case.
    • A problem. It finally appears that thought, in this sense, has an end; that the end of thought is being-without-thought (I do this so not to repeat Nick's phrase.) A telos usually addresses a formal completion of a thing. That thought's end would be freedom from itself is engaging to me because it seems to parallel the life of the body rather than the function of the mind. In other words, Nick's aphorism dumps the mind-body binary, which I appreciate. However, were we to ask how one purposefully attains freedom from one's body, we are left with a specific kind of dread that death brings with it, and a specific form of death that is typically passed over in silence not by the individual experiencing it but by the polis left with its excess: suicide.
  • At any rate, I have opened my discussion on Wittgenstein and Nick's aphorism a bit with one exception. I wanted to address the problem with thought and language (though Jay recognized his mistake) for only a moment to point out what I am particularly concerned with and to enhance our further conversation to come:
    • W, in 4.002, an important section, writes that we possess the skill to construct language that will express any sense. Nice gesture. And I think writers enjoy this play the human function allows. But, he ends up writing that language "disguises thought. So much so, that from the outward form of the clothing it is impossible to infer the form of the thought beneath it, because the outward form of the clothing is not designed to reveal the form of the body, but for entirely different purposes."
    • Wowsers. This is why I adore Wittgenstein. Look at the language: disguises and designs, especially. We construct language, design it, and speak it to fashionably disguise thought as it is. And language is not meant to display thought but to display its own form. Hence, we do have the need for the epistemologist, the logician. However, we can revel in the skills we are capable of developing as literary artists--the formal disguises for thought.
      • Certainly, W is getting at the practical uses for everyday language and I am stretching his intent. An example of his point: "I need some water." It means I am thirsty and communicates a need based on my health, possibly my survival. It doesn't mean I want to take you out to dinner. And to infer such would be a false inferrence. In fact, W claims it is impossible to infer the form of thought beneath language.
      • Those of you who know a bit about linguistics will know the important discussions about explicature and implicatures. We can read these mechanisms in the logical structure of language and find meaning. But inference is always that thing the audience gets to do, and it in fact has more to do with a listener's or a reader's thoughts about a speech or a text than it does show any direct link between the thoughts of the parties involved. In fact, unless we are telepathic, how could we infer the thoughts of another from his or her words?
  • For Nick: Can't you see the implications for a study of narcissism here? If narcissism has to do with purposeful and consistent approach or arrangement of life in order to cultivate an ideal image of the self--as an individual, family, community, or society--then we have a key to the problem of narcissism from an epistemological approach rather than psychological approach. W argues at 4.01: "A proposition is a picture of reality./ A proposition is a model of reality as we imagine it."
    • earlier in the text, W writes: "A picture cannot, however, depict its pictorial form: it displays it." (2.172) & "A picture represents its subject from a position outside it. (Its standpoint is its representational form.) That is why a picture represents its subject correctly or incorrectly." (2.173)
    • The narcissist represents images incorrectly.
Second: On Nietzsche's Aphorisms
  • I can begin simply. Talking about thought and language separately may not be useful at all; in other words, not correct. We picture thoughts through language, and that which is passed over in silence, according to Wittgenstein, is not possible. Freedom from thought appears possible. We should experiment with the idea. As Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil: From "The Free Spirit" (maybe something in Nick's aphorism that approaches the troubled spirit, if we find Spirit and Thought to be similar, if not equal), section 42, "A new species of philosopher is appearing...As I divine them, as they let themselves be divined--for it remains in their nature to want to remain a riddle in a some respects--these philosophers of the future might rightly, but perhaps also wrongly, be described as attempters. This name itself is in the end only an attempt and, if you will, a temptation."
    • Another word for attempt is experiment...The German is Versuch for attempt or experiment; Versuchung for temptation. We are attempting to picture the world, the attempt is an experiment and, whether or not our representations are correct, we are tempted to do so--to represent new ideas--as well, to make mistakes and to be misrepresented ourselves.
  • In Section 40, N writes "Everything profound loves the mask; the profoundest things of all hate even image and parable."
    • Is this not thought?
  • In The Gay Science is Nietzsche's defense of the aphorism.
One times One. --One is always wrong; but with two, truth begins. --One cannot prove his case, but two are always irrefutable.
    • So it is with thought and language; so it is with aphorisms or representations. We must have more than one to put next to the other in contiguity, to compare and contrast, to have something to say at all about representation. The Fragment brings the reader into play as well. And here is where Zaum and Oberiu writing come into play: the interaction of linguistic objects in new ways that shock the reader out of the banality of everyday representation, that shake one from the comfort of the real, and that encourage a reader, in this case, to work for meaning alongside an author.
More to come...this is a good beginning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


President Bush worried that because of frivolous lawsuits "too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Monday, September 20, 2004

die Massen und der Schrecken

My response to Jay and Nick remain in the hamper until I can untie my tongue and spit-up properly (without rush) my thoughts re: Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Zaum, et al and lang/thought...probably beginning late tomorrow night.

For now, the October issue of Harper's arrived. Jacqueline Rose's essay "Our Present Disillusionment" is not to be missed.

"A group is nothing if not the struggle to preserve the ideal image of itself." Bingo.

"The greatest sacrifice the people are being asked to make on behalf of the state is to give up their right not to believe in it." The horror--Freud uses der Schrecken, Rose reminds us, to describe both war and people's loss of faith.

Narcissism--Rose uses Tony Blair's recent statements; however, Bush & Co. are just as guilty of the violent preservation of self-regard, "I believe in myself."

And the people, of course, cannot accept that they elected "bad" leaders, so they re-elect and stand behind the ones they trust the least in order to "preserve the ideal image of itself." There is no future for this illusion.

Also, William Gass on Rabelais...pretty swell stuff, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Johnny Ramone

I wanna be...

hausuafgaben and sleep

I celebrated this weekend--peacefully. Was nice; slept well, in other words. And now I am in the thick of it again.

Jay Thomas troubles Wittgenstein's language and thought distinction. I will get to this tomorrow. And on Nietzsche, too. I think I left a comment unfinished on his blog, Bad with Titles.

---saw Last Life in the Universe. Best film I have seen out in a long time.

Alexei Kruchenykh. Suicide Circus
Leonid Tsypkin. Summer in Baden-Baden
Jorge Luis Borges. A Universal History of Iniquity
JK Huysmans. Parisian Sketches
Paul Celan. Glottal Stop
Bin Ramke. The Erotic Light of Gardens
Doris Grumbach. The Magician's Girl
Blaise Cendras. Complete Poems
Don Delillo. the Body Artist
Heinrich Boll. A Soldier's Legacy
John Ashberry. Flow Chart
Henri Michaux. Darkness Moves (anthology)

A few of these I have always wanted but never bought; can't pass up the remainders, though. All these for under 100 smackers. Guess I'll go without wine for a couple of weeks.

Began the Kruckenykh. A zaum poet (will help me in my comments to Jay Thomas concerning language and thought). Used Daniil Kharms on my comps--he was opposed to zaum movement, at least claimed to be in the Oberiu Manifesto...

Friday, September 17, 2004

I passed my comps.


From Fait Accompli:
The final thought of thought
is freedom from thought.

notebook: 1988

N, I have been thinking about this since you posted it. A few permutations:
  1. In recognition of our conflation of thought with language, language with thought:
    1. I am tempted to replace the third instance of thought with language. Gives thought to itself--naked, no longer contingent upon the form of the cloth language designs (from the machines of logic) for it. Moreover, it activates a latent metabolism that satisfies the needs and demands of thoughts and further distinguishes the need we and our thought have for thought to be tied to objects (through speech acts, utterances, conversations, all forms of positive communication) from our desire to see thought in things regardless of our need to communicate at all.
  2. In an attempt to consider thought as one of many deeds prior to language and act:
    1. I am tempted to replace the first instance of thought with deed, leave the second instance alone, exchange the third once again for language. Gives thought the flavor of purposefully directed action in accordance with an aim more or less towards happiness. That is, if we associate freedom with formless-ness.
    2. Or, we could do the opposite. "The final thought/act of language, is freedom from thought." Provides an opportunity to discuss how we can use language as a tool to take a step back from the object/demand of our thought and look at it working while we are with it working. This is the project of psychoanalytic and phenomenological studies. --And moves us back to the promises of Language Poetry, and to the demands of form, and to the restrictions the Rhetorical Guard place on our rebellion against the alienating means of production.
      1. For many authors, language is a tool that locates/projects thought into objects within prohibitive prose or verse forms--prosody, for example, is at the same time restrictive and permissive. The great artists know when to be restricted or to take liberties. We--as artists and readers alike--analyze and interpret the placeholder for thought more often than the thing itself. Only a few authors seek to explore the object itself in language itself: letting it be; letting it function. I think of Stein immediately--moving away from studies of character that marked 19th C writing to studies of the composition of compositions and portraits. Zukofsky, of course. Williams, I think. And he was shamed by Stevens for this attempt to wander; Stevens who was so tied to the form of obsessive attachment thought projects onto image-objects during the laboring of imagination to produce lasting symbols to its own greatness, so tied to IT that he must necessarily rule his own discourse; be ruled in other words. (Not that I don't admire Stevens, folks.) And possibly we are all tied to the sound of our own voices, but we do not need to be tied to the object of our thoughts. We can be projective, I think, in this regard. Enter the field to see what we see and leave having seen what we saw, and prepared to better enter the next field.
        1. What is style but delusional belief?
        2. What is it but Nothing Special?
    3. I hear something in your "note" that is not "in it"--the reading of it. Its function is a deliberate step away from the machine and co-operation that the tradition demands from many of us.
      1. For Emersom, the poet is the one who has the ability to observe from the outermost circle at this moment, the ability to circumference our moment, and observe what is there to be observed.
      2. But Emerson beguiled the gift, its charity.
    4. Also, in the hearing: a playful chorus celebrating Thought while seeking refuge from its horrific self-appearance...maybe a celebration of the return of the repressed. What better to take back than our projected thoughts; and by so doing, exorcise the habit thought demands. Let experience build rather than erode. Let singularity of perspective communicate positively rather than refine and define negatively. Then, language becomes what language can become--human language, poetic language, a pleasing sound that means something to those who hear it because they wish to listen.
  3. In the syllogism I have inferred from your three-fold use of thought, the conclusion might be:
    1. The final thought of language is the freedom from thought.
      1. This apparently sets language against itself, if we believe, as Wittgenstein argues in the Tractatus, that language is the clothing for thought. For language to wish for freedom from thought is at once a wonderful rebellion and a self-inflicted wound. It is a constant-cutting.
      2. Freedom from thought is a freeing of language from thought and giving thought to itself and language to us. What this does for logic is to free the intellect from the demand of other minds and the tradition built into the genealogy of The Intellect or The Rhetoric.
        1. And for the psychotic, the permission for radical certainty to escape the confines of delusional belief--maybe a form of transcendence, at least a transvaluation, for us all through a freedom of though.

Freedom from thought is to wander:
it is a birth and a death:
a process that occurs without our ability to experience it.

What a pleasing engima then: to have a thought that is in itself the freedom from itself; its being is its own end; and, if so, it own end is its recognition of its immanent being.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Red Miscellany

What is it with red? --de Maupassant's splash of red (1887, "Le Horla"), Husserl's redness (1907, "The Idea of Phenomenology"), Heidegger's redness (1964, letter sent to Drew University on "The Problem of a Nonobjectifying Thinking and Speaking in Today's Theology"), Wittgenstein's red exists (1935-49, Philosophical Investigations). --Why not blue or yellow?

EMP. Stevens used purple and green.
Roger Miller's danged maple syrple goes with purple,
but red does not rhyme with "ice cream."

In this case GREEN is not a color but a flavor that RED does not have.

How is it with red--from whence and to wither?

It is: Roquentin's It exists!
Befuddlement: Wo?, Woher?, Wohin?
John's: In the beginning was the word
John's Empty Cup.

Vattimo: After he expressed his doubt to the man, his mentor asked, "Do you believe?" And V responded, "I believe so."

Essence may be
A Direction of Becoming,
The genuine Content of an object.

Contentment (contemptment, too) of Content is the figurative thing itself.
Verse composes the poem as a poem only after the line becomes verse.
Prose composes the narrative as prose only after the plot is assumed and shared.

I don't know about anything; I understand around here.

"Do you believe?"
"I have no idea?" [You tell me: What word receives the emphasis?]

NOTHING SPECIAL=the everyday itself emptied of itself,
bored with its everydayness; stewed. burnt.
come round.
there again.
end stopped.
Then and only then is it appropriated by zen practitioners and meditated upon:

What are you doing there?
Nothing special.

Says Socrates to Alcibiades.

I am reading:
Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, ed. Ben Marcus
Dreams and Stones. Magdalena Tulli
The Trial. Kafka
Daniil Kharms
Susan Howe
The Off-Centaur. Eugene Ostashevsky
I am writing short prose fragments and working on my novel. I haven't had time to work on that for, well, let's just say the DU "writing" program is short on time for writing. Not that I am complaining, much. But I haven't been able to spend time on my prose, and the working out of prose and verse interconnections significant for me until now. After this quarter, I have a third and fourth year left to write. (Yes, I it says poetics in the masthead, and the concept belongs. IT is all poetics.)

I am in a wonderful seminar titled Phenomenology and Theology, after Heidegger's essay of the same name. I'll share the reading as we move along. This is my last class--as a student in a program. I find that refreshing, the looking ahead to something new and unknow. I find it sad. "I can't go; I'll go on." Can't put that sentiment any better.

Rosy Fingered Dawn

I will write about my dog. And I will write about my fence.
I will list at least seventeen reasons On the Significance of Circumference
I will make manifestos, too, concerning Holes in socks,
Chocolate bars eaten in public restrooms, and

The spectacular patience in waiting
For angels to trouble the waters.

In this pool of mosquito-filth,
In a concave lump from my backyard,
It is my finger moves any waves moved.

--All from a new Adirondack chair, not broken,
Yet Miraculously Tempered.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A death list

corroded batteries, stacked, blind side, yellow house, Ridgefield


swimming pool, leaves, the drain down there

oblong, orange, styro floaties, bitter flakes, short grass

white rope knotted, covert tension

umbrella, table, patio, poison ivy beyond back gate

underoos, aquaman, spider man, nestle crunch, cousin

volkswagens, light blue and red, buzzing backseats, perforated fabric ceiling

Danbury News Times, rubber bands

beatle bowl cuts, aquanet, brothers

polyester pants, shirts with zippers

mom's room, white dressers

A mirror

Snored to sleep, wild animals, leftovers under incandescent front porch

mystic moths

roast beef, pimento olives, salted cucumbers

beginning of imagination, front yard performances

lawn darts, baseball cards

elusive uncle photographs, bills on bureau

st bernards' slobbered walks in woods

puritan past, ruins out back, walls not windows

New England stone fences

Danbury Fairgrounds (became a mall)

Buster Browns, Zips, yellow blue

green, concrete, tar, asphalt, a hill

Ice cream stand, lick one side Ridgefield the other Georgetown

Friendly shakes

intellectual mold

Danbury, Milford, Sanford, Ridgefield, Philadelphia, Tulsa, New London, Denver

Maps and Winnebago

Skis, anklebiters

language clothes more than thought

Monday, September 13, 2004

I have to get back into the swing of things.

I feel like I am entering society for the first time. Feels strange.

I read all the wrong books. Ha!

Will begin posting daily again to Dagzine; I have some catching-up to do in blogworld. Here are my students' blogs for the Fall:
  • Falling into Culture : Should be regularly posting to this blog by the end of the week. We are reading Kafka's The Trial, Camus' The Fall, Bataille's Blue of Noon, and Baudelaire's Paris Spleen. Also a bit of cultural theory focused on the everyday and mass observation. They are reading Kafka first.
  • Comp : Examining American cultural and geographical landscapes. Reading Suburban Nation, Bomb the Suburbs, Magical Urbanism...the class is truly focused on becoming better researchers and writers; in other words, better critical readers and writers. I have chosen this topic to help focus our class into a discourse community.
Feel free to read along and post (useful) comments. They know the blogs are public spaces. I expect that the former will be more open to discussion than the latter. Those of you who teach first-year English classes will understand.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

et voila!

comprehensive exam:
it is done;
i am done with it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Society of the Friends of the Text

Do we, in fact, have even our enemies in common?

Two revisions today;
Two revision tomorrow...

I am losing things lately. Latest loss: On the Genealogy of Morality. Not simply amidst the piles of books for my week-long exam. It is gone. And what a text to lose. This is the excellent Hackett edition, as well. I have the crummy Golffing translation. Am I the only one who does this?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

veritas est adaequatio intellectus est rei, ekstasis, and the radical certainty in delusional belief

I am 3 down, 1 to go. Finish tonight, I hope. Leaves Wednesday and Thursday to revise and proof. Two per day.

Today, Nietzsche. Enjoyable question to answer, but those tend to be the toughest to finish.

Fredric Jameson's A Singular Modernity grows on you, but lacks (in my opinion) any discussion about the materiality--the substance itself--of the trope. Everything is ideology (intellectual) for Fred J...les mots...just drops out of the mouth, two thuds hit dirt.

And we know what Wittgenstein proposed. Language disguises thought.
And we know what Derrida quipped. It's always too late to talk about time.
And we know what Lacan assumed. Schreber is no poet.

But JL, the sense of ordering ruptures into periods that contain their own unique forms and concepts is a sign of modernity. And as the breaks increase and the over-determined syntax used to contain the breaks within meaningful rhetoric gives up sense to nonsense--maybe glossolalia--maybe what we witness is a going under to get over. From grundsprache to High Modernism...

Ambiguous yet unshakeably meaningful. Isn't that poetry? It is also a good definition for the radical certainty in delusional belief. Isn't verse used to fill gaps in the external world, the (w)hole out-there; literary art irrupts--projective--into the world as event? It is psychotic. What does it disguise? Always the ordinary.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Valery taught me the ears see and the mouth listens

I finished my first question around 11 last night. The Novel as Document.

Wrote on verisimilitude. Share later.
We're supposed to keep our answers to 3000 words. How to with at least ten works required?

Nietzsche & Versuchung

Today, Literatures of Illness. Not the best name for the list/test. I should have called it Documenting Private Experience. That should show you where I am headed today--from Wittgenstein to P.K. Dick.

Have lodged in the front of my head, 9 to 5. Brings back horrifying period in US cultural development. Ugly couches; heavy TVs with fake wood frames; HBO flourishes opening movies we've seen fifteen time this week; Beta; And apropos that moment/this pain: a mute scene in which three successful women look their worst, in poly biz suits and hairspray molds, and cock their heads unnaturally, bobble-headed: each cute in a way each weren't. The beginning of Reagan-era. Worst: the refrain repeating over and over; no doubt a result of the pop-song production technique of slowly fading out rather than ending with coda.

Keeps it going in the head

Friday, September 03, 2004

Tropics of Comps-Course

I am going for my exam package this morning. All week I anxiously awaited comps to happen. The dread I felt until this morning--the moment is upon me, after all--has nothing to do with whether or not I will pass. I will pass. Most of my colleagues will pass; though some are more worried about a grade than the thinking. The dread, I feel (or is it think,) hovers about the completion of the program. And not the program at the University of Denver, because, in many ways, I am just beginning. The program of classroom regimen is receding into the horizon. The dread is an order disordering--I am experiencing (an awful turn of a phrase) an I'm on my own now sensibility I have not felt since homesickness drove me to reckless disregard sixteen years ago. Fortunately, I am not that impulsive anymore. But I do feel like melting into the carpet. I can just let go enough to do that. But that's depression; and I am not depressed. And I do see language. I have been dreaming not Nietzsche but his multiplication table: I am not myself in my dreams but different folks with whole narratives I experience rather than know ahead of time, yet I can explain the meaning of the plot. I am quite sick of it, really. It is all very exhilerating.

So, I am writing an essay a day: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I miss Dagzine. I think I will share with you a bit each day. Not about the test itself, but the taking of the test.

Capitalist Discourse, if discourse is a turn of language:
  1. own
  2. now
  3. won
  4. one
And there in lies the myth of the self-making man self-made in himself by himself, the world outside him a reflection of the things in him.

From many to one is a problem not a solution. (Our President is the lack of this awareness. Listen to the shifts he makes from the first-person plural to the first-person singular.)