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. . . 2002-Bloomsday

Papa Was a Wandering Rock

One of the odd aspects of Finnegans Wake -- maybe because it's such a well-established limit case -- is the difficulty of making any statement about it that's not equally applicable to every other literary work:

For Schmidt, in "Der Triton," establishing a reading model is essential to dealing with the Wake.... I, for my part, would like to contradict both Reichert and Schmidt: if one wants to translate, one has strictly to avoid any reading model, any interpretation of what is going on in Finnegans Wake. The translator has to understand nothing. He or she has to look at Joyce's text with as little understanding as possible and to translate Joyce's sentences into sentences that the translator does not understand either.

What I am talking about is not the "tricky problem" referred to by members of the Franfurt Wake group of "how to translate those words that one simply does not understand." Of course, I would like to "understand" every single word -- or, to be more precise, to "understand" what is present in a single word and a given sentence, but, as translator, I do not need to understand why it is present there. Basically, this is the difference between shape and meaning, between knowledge and understanding: the ideal translator of Finnegans Wake knows everything about the text but understands nothing.... On the other hand, the Schmidtian translator -- the one who believes that he or she understands something because of having a reading model -- must inevitably establish a different kind of hierarchy: the one between information that is understood and information that is not understood; between information that supports a reading model and information that does not; between what is felt to be important in Joyce's text and what is felt to be unimportant (or even disturbing). It is obvious that this translator will translate the hierarchy that she or she has established in the text but not the nonhierarchical text that every reader has a claim to....

-- "Sprakin sea Djoytsch?: Finnegans Wake into German" by Friedhelm Rathjen,
James Joyce Quarterly Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 905-916


See also: obtuse/abstruse....

. . . 2002-06-18

The New Dark Ages, cont. (via grim amusements)

Conservative U.S. Christian organizations have joined forces with Islamic governments to halt the expansion of sexual and political protections and rights for gays, women and children at United Nations conferences....
This is considerably more terrifying than the previous bedfellowings of fundamentalists-with-anti-porn-feminists and fundamentalist-Protestants-with-conservative-Catholics, but as predictable a step as the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact. The Bushes have gotten along fine with the Saudis for decades -- and there was that reward we gave the Taliban for their anti-drug efforts.

Quite aside from any specifically coincident issues (such as keeping women in their place), it's to every theocracy's benefit to keep other theocracies in power. When they're our "friends," we jointly eliminate secular democracy; when they're our "enemies," we all have a holy war as a reason to eliminate secular democracy. It's a win-win!

. . . 2002-06-19

Is there one who understands me?

Thanks to Aaron for becoming the second person to notice that I'm Cordelia.

The first person was Christina La Sala, who tried to get me to watch Buffy back in 1997 by playing up that Thalia Menninger angle. But in those early days I was very shallow and thought the show was simply not presentable. I only really became part of the gang in the third season -- which is still my favorite, although the most recent one might've supplanted it in my affection if they hadn't transplanted the ridiculous Magic-Is-My-Anti-Drug plotline from some hell-dimension version of Buffy onto the shoulders of the Real Life show -- and only very recently and while losing all my viewers have I started getting migraines and pregnant and mature and stuff.

Also, I Am Most Like Bubbles.

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Errata: One who should know assures us that, despite our evident admiration for Cordelia, we are not in fact ourselves Cordelia.

We are instead 50% Anya, 20% Willow, 15% Imperfectly-Supressed-Bad-Willow-Confronting-Giles, and 15% Xander-Driving-the-Dream-Van-with-Willow-and-Tara-in-Back.

We regret any inconvenience.

. . . 2002-06-21

Placeholder til I get a frame capture  
Movie Comment: The Arizonian (1935)

The Arizonian is a wonderful anomaly: a 1930s Western B-movie that scrapes the mindless sunny-side-up of Buck Jones or Gene Autry into the slops and rustles us up something more like Marxist spaghetti or the bitter winter rye of Joseph H. Lewis.

There's no roving outlaw gang or renegade Injuns; instead, all hell boils over due to departmental rivalry between marshal, sheriff, and mayor, and the intertwining of money and politics (brought together, as ever, in the person of Louis Calhern). Ethical and emotional compromise is frequent, and sporadically effective at delaying the progression from bullying to murder to group ambushes to massacre. Costumes, sets, and lighting all have a worked-over and lived-in look. So does hero Richard Dix, who carries the gravitas of Randolph-Scott-on-Jupiter -- he's even stolidly tragic about getting the girl.

Where the movie doesn't -- for the most part -- rise above its station is in its "comic relief." With scare quotes because it's scary. When it comes to inspiring utter shamefaced horror in post-Jim-Crow audiences, shuffling idiot Willie Best is second only to the sub-Tor-ean Fred "Snowflake" Toones. Best may be the only guy who can really make us appreciate the skill of Stepin Fetchit. (Mantan Moreland and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson are in another class altogether -- those guys were stars.) But wait, there's more! Much more, by volume anyway: Best's "comic relief" "love" interest in the film is Etta McDaniel, the lookalike but much less talented sister of Hattie McDaniel.

So.... The most I can say is that at least white actors weren't being paid to wear the blackface.

But even here the movie holds a surprise if you can get past "the most part." [And if you want to keep it a surprise, stop reading -- but I reckon odds are slim that any of you will get a chance to see it soon.] The film's everything-falls-apart catastrophe begins with the shooting of Willie Best, rather than, I don't know, the love interest of the hero? a drunk newspaper editor?

Then the allies, having arranged a cover of total blankness, walk into total blankness, firing, disappearing. As the smoke clears, the one true melancholy hero stands alone, surrounded by corpses. Making the perfect target for the one true self-assured villain.

Who in turn turns out to make the perfect target for Hattie McDaniel's sister.

A lunatic servant saves the world with a shot in the back. This is a most satisfying conclusion to the sort of story that's being told.

But that's because it's a disturbingly odd conclusion.

The American Film Institute catalog was disturbed enough to repress the memory entirely. Etta McDaniel, despite her surprisingly central role, doesn't get mentioned in the movie's credits. That sort of omission's not unusual in a 1930s B-picture. But it is unusual for the AFI researcher to have not filled that credit in, and then to have simplified the ending to: "The only survivor of the gun battle, Clay leaves a reformed Silver City with Kitty at his side."

After the catalog was printed, the AFI was apparently told that there was a problem and someone tried to correct it on their super-expensive-exclusive-access-only web site. That someone hadn't bothered to see the first hour of the movie, though, because their correction goes as follows: "... a mysterious black woman [who's been in about a half-dozen earlier scenes] shoots Mannen with a rifle."

(A more accurately chaotic synopsis is available online. I'd send a correction to the AFI's web site but they don't give any contact information.)

And the next time I'm in L.A., I'll have to check the Academy records to see how the Production Code office reacted to it, 'cause they usually didn't take kindly to such things. Like in 1938 when Spirit of Youth was made, starring Joe Louis the year after he won the heavyweight title (and giving Mantan Moreland his first big break), Joseph Breen warned that the movie was "questionable from the standpoint of policy, because it shows, among other things, several scenes of a black man victorious in a number of fistic encounters with white men." So assassinating a white man seems like it would be right out.

What I figure is that the screenplay didn't mention the race of the characters and the Production Code people didn't bother watching the movie any more carefully than the AFI catalog people did. But I'm still curious.

. . . 2002-06-23

The treasury was full
It's Old News

Business correspondent Daniel Defoe reports in The Anatomy of Exchange Alley; or, A System of Stock-Jobbing: Proving that Scandalous Trade, As It Is Now Carried On, To Be Knavish in Its Private Practice, and Treason in Its Public (1719) (via A Bold Stroke for a Wife, ed. Nancy Copeland):

Is not the whole system of stock-jobbing a science of fraud? and are not all the dealers original thieves and pickpockets? Nay, do they not own it themselves? Have I not heard T.W., B.O., and F.S., a thousand times say they know their employment was a branch of highway robbing, and only differed in two things; first, in degree, viz., that it was ten thousand times worse, more remorseless, more void of humanity, done without necessity, and committed upon fathers, brothers, widows, orphans, and intimate friends; in all which cases, highwaymen, generally touched with remorse, and affected with principles of humanity and generosity, stopped short, and chose to prey upon strangers only. Secondly, in danger, viz., that these rob securely; the other, with the utmost risk that the highwayman run, at the hazard of their lives, being sure to be hanged first or last, whereas these rob only at the hazard of their reputation, which is generally lost before they begin, and of their souls, which trifle is not worth the mentioning. Have not I, I say, heard my broker, Mr. -----, say all this and much more, "That no man was obliged to make good any of their Exchange Alley bargains, unless he pleased, and unless he was in haste to part with his money, which, indeed, I am not"; and have not all the brokers and jobbers, when they have been bitten too hard, said the same thing, and refused to pay?

.... But to leave them a little, and turn our eyes another way, is it not surprising to find new faces among these scandalous people, and persons even too big even for our reproof? Is it possible that stars of another latitude should appear in our hemisphere? Had it been Sims or Bowcher, or gamesters of the drawing-rooms or masquerades, there had been little to be said; or had the groom-porters been transposed to Garraway's and Jonathan's, it had been nothing new; true gamesters being always ready to turn their hand to any play. But to see statesmen turn dealers, and men of honor stoop to the chicanery of jobbing; to see men at the offices in the morning, at the P----- house about noon, at the cabinet at night, and at Exchange Alley in the proper intervals, what new phenomena are these? What fatal things may these shining planets (like the late great light) foretell to the state and to the public; for when statesmen turn jobbers, the state may be jobbed.

It may be true that a treasurer or cash-keeper may be trusted with more money than he is worth, and many times it is so; and if the man be honest, there may be no harm in it: but when a treasurer plays for more money then he is worth, they that trust him run a risk of their money, because, though he may an honest man, he may be undone. I speak of private, not public treasurers.

Indeed, it requires some apology to say such a one may be an honest man; it would be hard to call him an honest man, who plays away any man's money that is not his own. But if it be dishonest to play it away, that is, lose it at play, 't is equally dishonest to play with it, whether it be lost or no; because, in such a case, he that plays for more than he can pay, his master runs the hazard more than himself; nay, his master runs an unequal hazard, for if the money be lost, 't is the master's, if there is gain, 't is the servant's.

What did we win?  

Stock-jobbing is play; a box and dice may be less dangerous, the nature of them are alike a hazard; and if they venture at either what is not their own, the knavery is the same. It is not necessary, any more than it is safe, to mention the persons I may think of in this remark; they who are the men will easily understand me.

In a word, I appeal to all the world, whether a man that is intrusted with other men's money (whether public or private is not the question) ought to be seen in Exchange Alley. Would it not be a sufficient objection to any gentleman or merchant, not to employ any man to keep his cash, or look after his estate, to say of him he plays, he is a gamester, or he is given to gaming and stock-jobbing, which is still worse, gives the same, or a stronger ground of objection in like cases.

Again, are there fewer sharpers and setters in Exchange Alley than at the Groom Porters? Is there less cheating in stock-jobbing than at play? Or, rather, is there not fifty times more? An unentered youth coming to deal in Exchange Alley is immediately surrounded with bites, setters, pointers, and the worst set of cheats, just as a young country gentleman is with bawds, pimps, and spongers, when he first comes to town. It is ten thousand to one, when a forward young tradesman steps out of his shop into Exchange Alley, I say 't is ten thousand to one but he is undone: if you see him once but enter the fatal door, never discount his bills afterwards, never trust him with goods at six months' pay any more.

If it be thus dangerous to the mean, what is it to the great? I see only this difference, that in the first the danger is private, in the latter public.

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Errata

Reader Paul K. comments:

Also, it's "Arizonan" not "Arizonian." When will they learn?

. . . 2002-06-27

Addenda

A wise reader comments on old news:

They say the oldest one ends, "Tha'rt, Popeye, a neckbarker."

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CV (via Looka!)

Ray Davis is a large man.
Ray Davis is from Casa Grande, Arizona.
Ray Davis is a native El Pasoan.
Ray Davis is an American born Kerryman.
Ray Davis is a English/Creative Writing major from Portland, Oregon.
Ray Davis is a Mechanical Engineering graduate of Purdue University.
Ray Davis is a licensed Captain who has sailed the waters around Tobermory for the last twenty years.
Ray Davis is planning a trip to the CAVE at UIUC.
Ray Davis is missing.
Ray Davis is brought onboard.
Ray Davis is a crop duster pilot who's largely oblivious to her sketchy financial habits, but loves their lifestyle of conspicuous consumption.
Ray Davis is in charge of compiling the data for the count.
Ray Davis is one of my teachers.
Ray Davis is all over the back of me again.
Ray Davis is the one with the deep voice.
Ray Davis is the only candidate who can provide you that leadership backed by experience.
Ray Davis is a one time deal.
Ray Davis is very personal and knowledgeable about on the road motorcycle radio systems.
Ray Davis is serving in South Africa.
Ray Davis is currently handling all DNS and FTP services.
Ray Davis is a paid contributor to The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors.
Ray Davis is a perfect example.
Ray Davis is Whitko's winningest varsity girls basketball coach in school history.
Ray Davis is a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Ray Davis is guilty of murdering a 71-year-old woman.
Ray Davis is 12 years old and weighs all of 65 pounds.
Ray Davis is the Assistant Curator of Fishes at Sea World of Orlando.
Ray Davis is the Dickens of rock and roll.
Ray Davis is a rare man.
Ray Davis is only now thinking about retirement.
Ray Davis is down there sketching out our suspect.
Ray Davis is right on his tail with a 1.95 ERA.
The passcode is "UB", and Mr. Ray Davis is the leader.

. . . 2002-06-29

"Who's the weirdo?"
 
 
 

"The object of group truth is group-confirmation and perpetuation."
     -- Laura Riding, Anarchism Is Not Enough, 1928

  On the set of Queen Christina

As usual, Laura Riding is unpleasantly correct. Science says so! A top priority for any social group is to protect the integrity of the group by erasing disputes within the group and exaggerating disputes with those outside the group. We need to synchronize our beliefs; their truth is a secondary (if that) consideration. One might even speculate that the very concept of verifiable "truth" develops -- not invariably -- from the social pressure to eliminate disagreement.

One well-documented result is that group discussions polarize attitudes, leading not so much to the lowest common denominator as to the most extreme tenable discriminator. Stereotyping of other groups, for example, follows that pattern: after a good hearty talk about Those People, mild prejudices become more vicious, and, having been publicly stated, more clung to.

Sadly (for those of us who perceive innate value in "truth"), just providing evidence to the contrary to everyone in the group isn't enough to interfere with this high-contrast-filter transformation. People -- not being essentially rational -- don't waste attention on evidence unless there's a reason to. If everyone in the group shares familiarity with the same counter-stereotypic information, they don't feel compelled to bring that information up. It's old news, as the saying goes.

But in "The Communication of Social Stereotypes" (Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Vol. 81, No. 3), Markus Brauer, Charles M. Judd, & Vincent Jacquelin found a loophole:

If only one member of the group knows the counter-stereotypic information, the information is grounds for disagreement. Thus it becomes interesting, attention is drawn to it, and polarization doesn't occur. Heterogeneity within the group increases the visibility of evidence, and thus the validity of group opinions.

Some comments:

  1. Anyone who's lived and worked both in widely diverse groups and in severely monocultural groups (and who perceives innate value in "truth") knows how much more satisfying the former are. Obviously, this is partly because there are fewer polarization points for untruths to latch onto. But secondarily, experience and knowledge may become more accessible to the group if they vary.

  2. Which in turn reminds me of the ways in which teaching can help the teacher learn.

  3. More depressively, I might guess that there are some cultural dependencies at work here, and that, internationally, not all groups would be equally invested in debate as a way to secure group boundaries.

  4. More obsessively, I scribble a barely legible cross-reference into my neuraesthetics notes: "attention drawn to particulars: evolutionary counterbalance to generalization."

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"Nvidia real time Fantasy rendering flummoxes Fudo"

All this chatter about the Supreme Court's voucher decision and the threatened rollback of the Pledge of Allegiance to pre-1954 righteousness levels keeps making me think of the formula, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and render unto God the things that are God's."

I'm pretty sure I didn't come up with that myself -- 'cause it lacks that characteristic folksy tang -- but I can't quite place the original source, and a quick Daypop search on "rendering" just hands me our headline story.

Anyway, as long as we're fiddling around with the Pledge, isn't it about time to insert "equality"? Or is that still too controversial?

. . . 2002-07-01

"Who's the weirdo?", cont.

You know what makes me happy?

OK, that's a stupid question. Of course you do. But do you know what makes me happy right now?

... well, yeah, "trying the patience of the reader" works, but you know what else?

It's when results reported in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology match results reported in cognitive science texts from MIT Press. As for example, on the good ship Cognition in the Wild, skippered by Edwin Hutchins, who I trust, among other reasons, 'cause he says "the real value of connectionism for understanding the social distribution of cognition will come from a more complicated analogy in which individuals are modeled by whole networks or assemblies of networks, and in which systems of socially distributed cognition are modeled by communities of networks." Boo-yah!

Cap'n Hutchins set up a constraint-satisfaction connectionist network to simulate hypothesis resolution between communicating gatherers of evidence for or against conflicting hypotheses.

Consider a simulation experiment in which all the networks have the same underlying constraint structure, and all have the same access to environmental evidence, but each has a slightly different initial pattern of activation than any of the others. Furthermore, all the networks communicate with one another, all the units in each network are connected to all the units in the other networks, and the communication is continuous. This can be regarded as a model of mass mental telepathy. With a nonzero persuasiveness, each individual network moves toward [the same] interpretation more quickly. ... Once there, they respond only a little to additional evidence from the environment. Once in consensus, they stay in consensus even if they have had to change their minds in order to reach consensus.... a group mind would be more prone to confirmation bias than any individual mind.

... diversity of interpretations is fairly easy to produce as long as the communication among the members of the community is not too rich. If they are allowed to go their own ways for a while, attending to both the available evidence and their predispositions, and then to communicate with one another, they will first sample the information in the environment and then go (as a group) to the interpretation that is best supported.

Given that, he went on to set up primitive models of such painfully familiar conflict-resolution approaches as monarchy, Quaker-style consensus, and majority-rule voting. No surprises as to the plusses (shortened time to resolution) or minuses (d'oh!) of monarchy. Or of consensus:
if some individuals arrive at very well-formed interpretations that are in conflict with one another before communication begins, there may be no resolution at all.
With majority rule, he points out:
voting does not always produce the same results that would be achieved by further communication. That this is so can easily be deduced from the fact that the result of a voting procedure for a given state of the community is always the same, whereas a given state of the community may lead in the future to many different outcomes at the group level (depending on... the bandwidth of subsequent communication).
Probably because of wanting to keep the models simple, he doesn't mention another serious problem with working democracies, or at least the one I'm in right now: Block-voting by a prematurely and persistently frozen-state monoculture of theocratic fundamentalists. Once a plurality of voters has arrived at very well-formed interpretations, they may ignore any evidence that contradicts their hypotheses and still be able to win control of the government.

Hutchins speculates that "in some environments, chronic indecision may be much less adaptive than some level of erroneous commitment." And I have a further obsessive (with the combined force of two obsessions) speculative comment of my own:

  5.         The computer simulations I've seen of language and other human memory-experience-extenders assume constant access and transmission.

That might be true of oral culture. The only thing transmitted through time is what's always important at each time. (Which may in turn be how the notion of sacred narratives and formulae developed: as a way of keeping seemingly arbitrary language in place, working against the ravages of convenience.)

But artifacts -- such as writing -- can outlast their time and their popularity, and survive to transmit new information -- that is, to transmit old information to new recipients.

Anything that develops outside of our own cultural circumstances provides, by definition, that healthy "diversity of interpretation" based on "broken communication" between entities that have "gone their own ways for a while."

My quixotic rage against copyright extension has nothing to do with those profitable works that get all the publicity --those which are popular and reprinted. I don't care whether Disney gets the money for Disney properties or not, so long as the Disney properties are available.

No, the utterly blankly death-reeking evil aspect of copyright extension and extension and extension is our forced regression to a secular oral culture, crushing into dust (if paper) or vinegar-reeking glue (if film) those artifacts that aren't currently -- at every moment -- obviously overwhelmingly profitable.

. . . 2002-07-03

Words to live by, at a safe distance

I continue more hunter-gatherer than cultivator, without much more to say about Laura Riding's 1928 prose collection Anarchism Is Not Enough than 1) it seems a useful reference point for a certain type of person, 2) thanks to the Sonny Bono act, it's not due to enter the public domain until 2023, and 3) thanks to Lisa Samuels, it's been reissued in a still-available paperback edition. A sampler quilt of aphoristic blocks:

"Language and Laziness"

Poetry is an attempt to make language do more than express; to make it work; to redistribute intelligence by means of the word. If it succeeds in this the problem of communication disappears. It does not treat this problem as a matter of mathematical distribution of intelligence between an abstract known and unknown represented in a concrete knower and not-knower. The distribution must take place, if at all, within the intelligence itself.

 
"This Philosophy"

Only what is comic is perfect: it is outside of reality, which is self-defeating, serious striving to be outside of reality, to be perfect. Reality cannot escape from reality because it is made of belief, and capable only of belief. Perfection is what is unbelievable, the joke.

"A Complicated Problem"

A complicated problem is only further complicated by being simplified. A state of confusion is never made comprehensible by being given a plot. Appearances do not deceive if there are enough of them. The truth is always laid out in an infinite number of circles tending to become, but never becoming, concentric -- except occasionally in poetry.

 
"What Is a Poem?"

Whenever this vacuum, the poem, occurs, there is agitation on all sides to destroy it, to convert it into something. The conversion of nothing into something is the task of criticism. Literature is the storehouse of these rescued somethings. In discussing literature, one has to use, unfortunately, the same language that one uses in discussing experience. But even so, literature is preferable to experience, since it is for the most part the closest one can get to nothing.

"All Literature"

People may treat themselves as extraneous phenomena or as fundamental phenomena -- it does not matter which. It does not matter, so long as they behave consistently as one or the other. What discredits character is not self-importance or self-unimportance, but the adjustment of person importance according to expediency.

 
"Poetry and Music"

Poetry isolates all loose independencies and then integrates them into one close independency which, when complete, has nothing to do but confront itself. Poetry therefore seems idle, sterile, narrow, destroying. And it is. This is what recommends it.

"Poetry and Painting"

Painters no longer paint with paint except in the sense that poets write with ink. Paint is now only a more expensive, elegant ink.

So much for the so-called abstractness of painting: the sense is made identical with the medium by forcibly marrying it to the medium. Medium and sense are a legally fictitious One in which the medium, the masculine factor, forces the sense, the feminine factor, to bear his name and do honour to his bed and table. She is all meek, hopeless amicability, he is all blustering, good-humored cynicism.

 
"Jocasta"

And here psycho-analysis is more consistent than criticism because it is frankly interested in extraversion rather than in extraversive works: it would not seriously worry psycho-analysis if works and their authors were discontinued: it would still have Case B, in which Mr. X and Miss Y. . . . Criticism, on the other hand, cannot get along without famous works by famous authors, which are, moreover, a continual source of discord since they are all introversive in origin and cannot be allowed to take their place in literature until they have been rigorously extraversified.

[Of course, criticism has since taken great strides away from its dependency on individual works of literature by individual authors.]

"Hungry to Hear"

A clear situation like this, in which life is easy to understand, is cruel to them. It leaves no scratches in the mind around which opinions, sympathies, silly repetitions can fester and breed dreams and other remote infections -- too remote always to give serious pain. They long to be fumbled, to have confusion and uncertainty make a confused and uncertain end of them. There they sit, having pins-and-needles of obscurity which they mistake for sensation. They open their newspapers: 'I suppose it is foolish to spend all this time reading newspapers? They are lying and dishonest and devoted to keeping a certain portion of the population in ignorance and intellectual slavery? Or is it foolish to take it so seriously? I shall go on reading them out of sophistication? . . .' Oh, go to hell.

 
"How Came It About?"

I feel an intense intimacy with those who have this loathing interest in me. Further than this, I know what they mean, I sympathize with them, I understand them. There should be a name (as poetic as love) for this relationship between loather and loathed; it is of the closest and more full of passion than incest.

Also her clothes, which do not fit her well: this again makes me even more attached to her. If she knew this she would be exasperated against me all the more, and I should like it; not because I want to annoy her but because this would make our relationship still more intense. It would be terrible to me if we ever became friends; like a divorce.

"In a Cafe"

I for one am resolved to mind or not mind only to the degree where my point of view is no larger than myself. I can thus have a great number of points of view, like fingers, and which I can treat as I treat the fingers of my hand, to hold my cup, to tap the table for me and fold themselves away when I do not wish to think.

It is all indeed, I admit, rather horrible. But if I remain a person instead of becoming a point of view, I have no contact with horror.

I am well aware that we form, all together, one monster. But I refuse to giggle and I refuse to be frightened and I refuse to be fierce. Nor will I feed or be fed on. I will simply think of other things. I will go now. Let them stare. I am well though eccentrically dressed.

 
"An Anonymous Book" [anticipating Borges]

An anonymous book for children only was published by an anonymous publisher and anonymously praised in an anonymous journal. Moreover, it imitated variously the style of each of the known writers of the time, and this made the responsibility for its authorship all the more impossible to place. For none of the known writers could in the circumstances look guilty. But every one else did.

"The Damned Thing" [anticipating Lacan]

Man himself is unreal. On woman he gets physical reality. She is his nature, the realistic enlargement of his own small sexual apparatus. She is the morphological supplement of his phallus. Through her he can refine, ritualize and vary his monotonous and trivial appendage. It is perhaps fair to say that as a consciousness man is woman's equal. As a physical apparatus he is a clumsily devised gadget.

When, she sighs, will man grow up, when will he become woman, when will she have companions instead of children?

 
"Letter of Abdication"

My o my o my o, what a thing, poor beastie, to be but dainty when you would be statistical.

. . . before . . .. . . after . . .

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2002 Ray Davis.