|. . . 2014-02-04|
WHERE IS RHYME?
by Anselm Dovetonsils
Reading Voices: Literature and the Phonotext
by Garrett Stewart, p. 98)
Rhymes are not read. Where do we read?
Rhyme makes the answer very clear.
It is not found upon the page
but founded through the inner ear.
In a word, a double one:
Where do we read? What do you mean "we"?
Rhyme makes the answer very clear.
Less cleanly, I got your contracted auto-echoism of the transegmental drift hangin, rover drover.
We are impressed and grateful!
Intimations from Sylvia Plath at the Grocery Store
"'The word,' according to Lacan, 'is not a sign but a node of signific- Pages 115 to 341 are not shown in this preview. Frail the white rose please take your change
|. . . 2014-02-03|
Like everyone else I liked Mudhoney and acknowledged the one hit of the one-hit crybaby. But my favorite grunge band was Ed's Redeeming Qualities. When I first heard them in '89, Ed's consisted of four songwriters and one musician:
Together they seemed happier than they expected to be apart; they sounded like a 1989 unheated-apartment version of boiled cabbage at the Hungry Hash House. Or, OK, then, they sounded like "garage-folk, with an emphasis on storytelling and black comedy and poignancy." They taped a couple of cassettes and released an EP, curated and hosted a fine vaudeville series, made mistakes on the radio, and then Dom Leone got sick.
Characteristically the opening number of Ed's next release, a final cassette of the original line-up, promised "So many things that can kill you dead; if you don't have cancer there's a hole in your head." Someone like They Might Be Giants could easily have recorded a tribute to the periodic table of elements; Ed's made it personal.
Carrie, Dan, and Neno moved to San Francisco, kept playing Dom's songs, and kept sticking Dom's scrawls on the merchandise. Their first CD was gratingly bare, but their second seemed more at home in the trio format. Third was best, recorded live, with all-musician no-songwriter Jonah Winter to put sonic love handles on the old favorites.
For now, though, and with the aid of these fine digitizations, I'm reaching back to 1989. From the "Ed's Day" EP, Carrie Bradley explains how the patriarchy maintains power in one solidly idiomatic pun. From a tape made the year before, Dom Leone explains how the patriarchy maintains power in one completely moronic consultation.
|. . . 2014-01-22|
"War, in other words, destroys pretense." - some preening asshole in 2002
For all my life I've been called pretentious, and for all my life I've proudly accepted the charge. It seems to me a just label and a worthy calling. It has at any rate called me to all that's seemed worthy.
The opposite of pretension isn't sincerity. The opposite — and the end — of pretension is silence. First comes pretension, then tension, then sleep.
whether it's the intention of your intension or the other way round, it's pretty intense
|. . . 2014-01-21|
Millar's muse wanted to horrify us with suburban life c. 1960. Millar's job wanted a suspense plot with a revelatory twist. Their relationship ended in divorce.
A well-constructed comedy with sparks of recorded life — in the 1940s it would've been just another picture; in 2013 it's a fucking miracle. Period points for a leading actress who actually looks like a '70s leading actress.
I could accept Joaquin Phoenix as a Thorne Smith hero, an all-rich all-white Urbanland as Spike Jonze's social experience, and porn ELIZA as contemporary Hollywood's sincerest conception of soulfulness. But when a content-shoveler's work-for-hire was pitched and published as his own writing under his own name without legal intervention, disbelief dropped to the floor. And disbelief landed mad.
|. . . 2014-01-02|
Weinstein thought he had a lock on this one, but nothing beats the one-stick-of-dynamite-against-the-Hoover-Dam accuracy of Brad Pitt's tail-end turn in 12 Years a Slave. His bizarrely indulged, buff, and merrily twinkling speechifyin' retroactively consigned Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance and the relatively uncompromised aspects of the script to middlebrow trimmings around another exercise in torture porn. And with Paul Giamatti right there for the asking!
|. . . 2013-12-31|
Nov. 4, 2013 may represent a high-nonpotable-water mark for Adam Gopnik. In the New Yorker of that date, he finished a long essay about his, his mom's, and his girlfriend's total awesomeness like so:
Women, I thought, remember everything. Bread forgives us all.
Cf. B. Kliban:
And thirty pages later, in a piece on JFK's assassination, Gopnik demonstrated the exact limits of male memory:
“Know why you couldn’t figure this one, Keyes?” the guilty Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) tells his virtuous insurance colleague Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) at the end of the great “Double Indemnity,” in a taunting confession. “I’ll tell ya. Because the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya.” Keyes’s beautiful, enigmatic rejoinder is: “Closer than that, Walter.” He means that the cop and the killer share more than they knew before the crime, that temptations that lead to murder are available to us all; the lure of transgression makes us closer than we think.
From the screenplay:
Closer than that, Walter.
The eyes of the two men meet in a moment of silence.
I love you too.
|. . . 2013-12-30|
I draw most of my reading from a decades-old compost pile of decontextualized recommendations. But shuffle play establishes its own narratives, and somehow Eddie Campbell's lifework was followed with a series of forgotten books by great wasters.
First came Saturnine by Rayner Heppenstall, precious documentation of bad behavior in England's finest hour. Then The Crust on Its Uppers by Derek Raymond (all flash and no trousers), La Fanfarlo by Charles Baudelaire (sad stuff), An Anecdoted Topography of Chance by Daniel Spoerri (a less plot-driven Robbe-Grillet), and Minutes of the Last Meeting by Gene Fowler, purportedly a mean-spirited biography of a grotesque old fart once justly loathed by Whitman and Debussy, but more sincerely a shelf of humble-brags honoring the author's parasitism during John Barrymore's and W. C. Fields's terminal declines.
(That last formed a twofer posthumous-character-assassination setlist of its own with Nollekens & his Times by John Thomas "Antiquity" Smith, projected as friendly tribute but executed as vengeance for Nollekens's will.)
Then The Bohemians by Anne-Gédéon Lafitte, Marquis de Pelleport, a 1790 proto-novel formally closer to Thomas Nashe than to Ann Radcliffe. And now The Monkey Puzzle by Victoria Hull — a female waster at last!— and, in a way, probably that very way, my favorite of the lot.
* * *
What with The Golden Notebook and The Bell Jar and so on, and between Piper Laurie and Julie Harris and Liza Minnelli and so on, the post-Home-Front pre-feminist era seems like a bloody golden age of feminine breakdowns, bottoming out alongside the post-feminist pre-suffragette era of Alice James and Clover Hooper Adams.
Hull's "Catherine" hits familiar marks, even including an old-school try at governessing: a questing young woman isolated in an aggressively male academic environment (here, the philosophy department of University College London); emotional collapse followed by traumatic institutionalization; substance abuse; joyless sleeping around; unplanned pregnancy; unsupportive marriage; fag-haggery; and a first experience of political demonstrations, teaching her the first lessons taught by all political demonstrations in every time and place:
‘But what I don’t understand,’ said Catherine, rubbing her head and feeling a bit better for the whisky, the crisis extravagance was still on, ‘is why. Why they charged us. What were we doing?’
‘Existing dear,’ said John, ‘if there are too many people existing in the same place at the same time they have to be removed. On a big scale it’s done by war. On a small scale by the police.’ [...]
‘I find it so extraordinary, when all one’s doing is trying to stop war, and people spit at you.’
What distinguishes The Monkey Puzzle from title onwards is its classically waster attitude, as if the whole mess is redeemed by providing so many told-on-oneself bar stories and flaring bar rants. It's the Paula Prentiss of young-woman-goes-insane novels.
* * *
Victoria Hull's recoverable literary career consists of a few months in 1958, during which she provided four (unsigned) reviews for the TLS:
The publishers have spared no pains to produce a book that is easy on the eye and has every appearance of scholarship. The writing is often good. But it is as if an intelligent, expert artist were commissioned to paint the portrait of an eminent but stupid general. Unable, for fear of hurting his sitter's feelings, to reproduce the complete vacuity of expression, the artist has instead concentrated on other aspects. The portrait that emerges is a curious one. The man has no face; but on his ample chest is a row of medals depicted, down to the last tedious detail, with the utmost care and accuracy.
This association ended around the time Hull's own book was blasted by (unsigned) Peter Myers in a group review:
Mrs. Hull, however, has succeeded only in being cynical in a juvenile way; she is inclined to rely too much on the merely crude (the dust-jacket delicately describes it as 'outrageous') to create an effect, and the reader, having been suitably shocked, as intended, in the first thirty pages or so, will find the repetition wearisome as he works his way towards the end. The story is told jerkily, in one sudden gush of effusiveness, and this style does not make the heroine's chaotic happenings any easier to follow. Characters are unpleasant and unsympathetic (doubtless they are meant to be) while the occasional flashes of mature wit do little to relieve these loosely packed trivia of an unattractive adolescence.
Mr. Richard Charles, in his enchanting novel, A Pride of Relations, has succeeded in full measure. He writes with real humour of three Great-Aunts, Betty, Frances and Jessica, of Grandfather Quincey Charles, and especially of Great-Uncle Justly....
Others provided kinder blurbs: Time and Tide with "the most promising first novel from a new English writer that I have read since the night I stayed up reading Iris Murdoch's Under the Net," Angus Wilson with "remarkably amusing, frightening, and intelligent," and young V. S. Naipaul with "shrewd, barbed, lit up with delicious perceptions" (albeit including reservations about her punctuation).
The book was not reprinted, however, nor published overseas, and its title lived on only among analytic philosophers. With the "rightly confident" blinkeredness so characteristic of the breed, Lord Quinton even declared her "a pseudonym."
It always puzzled Catherine that they should be able to indulge in this mysterious study of the meta without any reference to the science in question. She supposed she would understand one day, in the meantime the whole business seemed unimportant.
The final word I've found on her (or her editor-bookseller husband Tristram) was dropped in a boast by the aforementioned trouserless fellow.
Absent anyone from whom to request permission, I've decided to UbuWeb it.
|. . . 2013-12-24|
On this holiday season, I'm grateful that I don't have to figure out what to give an army of tiny killer robots.
miniature cans of wd-40
Next holiday season, I'll be grateful that I know what to give an army of tiny killer robots.
|. . . 2013-12-05|
So I checked email a couple of hours ago and saw that rare event, an important message from GOOGLE PLUS:
Google+ Auto Awesome
2 Auto Awesome photos were added
So I clicked the link and sure enough, the picture I took on the week of my father's death was now covered by animated snowflakes.
|. . . 2013-12-02|
The lineaments of Gratified Desire are very round.
Oh 'Gratified' not 'Garfield.' Took me a moment.
Un-gratified desire, however, has got that razor-sharp crease
|. . . 2013-12-01|
An appeal to an artwork's realism, its roots in reality, is an appeal not to its accuracy at registering facts but to the depth of its claim upon us. The claim is not, 'this is the real world', but rather, 'this is your world'.- Josh Kortbein, josh blog
Career tip: flatter your readers by telling them they're "made of stories".
Some days I wake up sick to death of language.
As for fiction.
99.999999% of the "conversation" is rhetoric so bad you don't know whether to choke or laugh.
You look around in despair for some state that doesn't include the use of language.
"Made of stories." Bland, meaningless crap.
Noncommunicative actions, impossible to to turn into language & thus not subject to constant mild but slimy abuse. Where are they?
- M. John Harrison, Twitter
“Oh, I’ve said, ‘You can't describe it. You'd have to be there.’ But that’s my first wife telling her mother-in-law about the time we went to Persia. And that isn’t what I mean.”
Kid smiled back and wished he hadn’t.
It isn’t his moon I distrust so much, he thought, as it is that first wife in Persia.
- Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren
That last can do double duty as our review of Gravity (2013).
|. . . 2013-11-30|
"The cat is in the box and the box is indeterminate."
thinking outside the cat?
Traffic cop Hotzmeister: "Mr Totzinger, did you know that you have a dead cat in your trunk?" Totzinger: "Well I do now."
|. . . 2013-11-23|
Carol Reed had a knack for depicting horny Nice-by-their-own-assessment Guys whose lust is neither reciprocated nor refuted by its target, and his signature suspense anticipates a crisis of extortion and humiliation. Ralph Bellamy without his angelic harmlessness; Guy Kibbee without the safe distance of the gargoyle; Joan Blondell with the powerlessness of Joan Blondell. That's the startle of the real in Reed's quota quickie; that's Reed's highest-stakes modification to Graham Greene's condescending entertainment: the unreassuring observation of incompatible fantasies at close quarters.
Leo G. Carroll, on the other hand...
Yes, it's a pity that Carroll couldn't join Charles Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton for Trouble in Paradise's survey of male territoriality.
|. . . 2013-11-09|
It is little wonder, then, that people tend to move from a belief in determinism to a belief in fatalism and to an attitude of resignation, for they may be conflating determinism with predictability. The right response is to distinguish more clearly between determinism and predictability.- "From Determinism to Resignation; and How to Stop It" by Richard Holton,
Decomposing the Will, ed. Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein & Tillman Vierkant. Oxford, 2013.
Well, hey. At that time I lacked easy access to the relevant citations, and so assumed I'd veered into an established fire-access road off the layperson highway. Instead, my cri de W. may have been as original as all these stupid obvious jokes I don't find in a websearch. (However much that is.)
Aside from the usual (and far from trivial!) pleasure of being proven disposable, I enjoyed Holton's assurance that the catastrophe of complete predictability isn't imminent. (Other catastrophes, sure, but not complete predictability.) As the NSA recently re-established, in a social universe, no matter how much you know as an individual — even if you're a CEO, or a Big Ten-Inch Data Czar, or indeed The very Girl herself — someone will make it their business to surprise you. Omniscience may or may not be compatible with consciousness but it surely isn't compatible with company.
Re the kleenex man, I'm glad his dog still believes in him.
Two, or more, omniscients knowing their difference(s) as really the only interesting stuff around
Doesn't that relate more to creation ex nihilo than to omniscience?
|. . . 2013-10-29|
The lyric is
In a sense, this three-word capitalized line is even more of a shuck than Zukofsky's sentence-cased fiver: Zukofsky crams in hyphenated compounds; Friedlander hyphenates at will over line breaks.
But regular lineation which intensifies semantic and sensual effects must fit some sense of poetic meter, and in that sense Friedlander improves on his inspiration. (As Friedlander himself demonstrated before the book was finalized.) A line cut to the beat or the rhyme, or prose broken at emotional paragraphs, lets my eye, ear, and consciousness coast: I see the corner and what I sense in the walk is my target. Here, to slacken is to jump the track. The abrupt stops and noisy starts force focus to stretch the length of the lyric. I need to sound out the sentences to make them cohere.
And they always cohere. (One of the few obscurities was revealed as ekphrastic by a photo posted to Facebook. No things but with ideas.) Friedlander keeps his bow tightly strung between speech and music, never ascending to noise or nonsense. A game without stakes is not his game; neither is grabbing the pot and diving for the door.
Zukofsky came of age while Pound and Eliot were in full strut; Friedlander in the Language-era Bay Area, and, among other things, One Hundred Etudes studies his contemporaries. Aside from some readymades and conceptual stunts, hilo-brow punning is the tonic note; the anti-paratactic pointedness and concision are Friedlander's own — even more concise and aphoristic than Mark Scroggins's arithmetic suggests, since several individually numbered etudes are sequences of separately titled pieces. (Number Twenty-Six, for example, is an abecedarian arrangement of twenty-six sentences "for Ron Silliman"; number Thirty is a set of thirty tiny lyrics "for Robert Creeley.")
The effect is sharp but weighty, determined in multiple senses. Friedlander worked on One Hundred Etudes through the 2000s, when our country flipped out of its slowly descending handbasket into pure plunge. And this to date is my favorite poetic response: no inane pronouncements, just expression, expeller pressed.
Proper packaging, too: 6" x 4.5" x 1," a small sturdy block ready for incision. Or a Little Big Book, ready to be stuffed in a stocking or dropped in an acknowledged legislator's jacket pocket.
|. . . before . . .||. . . after . . .|
Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2013 Ray Davis.