Dec 22, 2011
from top to bottom: Indian Peaks in Colorado with the eclipsing Moon setting overhead. Credit: Patrick Cullis; A composite image of the Dec. 10, 2011 lunar eclipse as seen from Ankara, Turkey. Credit: M. Rasid Tugral; A spooky-looking eclipsed Moon, as seen in Oakland, California. Credit: Eexelbots.
Dec 11, 2011
Dec 3, 2011
"Entrapped in being, we shall always have to come out of it. And when we are hardly outside of being, we always have to go back into it."
Nov 24, 2011
Nov 21, 2011
Nov 18, 2011
Our morning is the movement of a wound,
the trace of heartbeat I stranded under your shirt.
Afternoon, the pages of a novel sticking.
Its chapters speak step by step of attrition,
a guidebook for a bleak beatitude.
Anaphora for an afternoon:
when we rode to the country,
when we sucked rocks at the riverbed,
when a familiar gloom
creeped in under our happiness.
The dire sun curled against my limbs
and dead aspens rose like ribcages
in the mountains. Face it —
you leak dissipation on every book you pray over.
The bus stop guards the carcass
of an elementary school,
its walls and wiring gutted out.
We wait in the white dark of morning.
Nov 13, 2011
1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
2. Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money.
3. Never use the word "then" as a conjunction – we have "and" for this purpose. Substituting "then" is the lazy or tone-deaf writer's non-solution to the problem of too many "ands" on the page.
4. Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
6. The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more autobiographical story than "The Metamorphosis".
7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
8. It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction [the TIME magazine cover story detailed how Franzen physically disables the Net portal on his writing laptop].
9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
10. You have to love before you can be relentless.
Nov 12, 2011
Needle Plater, Glenview, Illinois
This is an incredible story from World War II. Here's the original caption on this photo: "Formerly a sculptress and designer of tiles, Dorothy Cole converted her basement into a workshop to tin plate needles for valves for blood transfusion bottles prepared by Baxter Laboratories, Glenview, Ill. She turns in her profits to war bonds to provide a college education for her young nephew."
Nov 9, 2011
Dickau, R. M. "The Hénon Attractor." http://mathforum.org/advanced/robertd/henon.html.
Gleick, J. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Penguin Books, pp. 144-153, 1988.
Grassberger, P. and Procaccia, I. "Measuring the Strangeness of Strange Attractors." Physica D 9, 189-208, 1983.
Hénon, M. "Numerical Study of Quadratic Area-Preserving Mappings." Quart. Appl. Math. 27, 291-312, 1969.
Hénon, M. "A Two-Dimensional Mapping with a Strange Attractor." Comm. Math. Phys. 50, 69-77, 1976.
Hitzl, D. H. and Zele, F. "An Exploration of the Hénon Quadratic Map." Physica D 14, 305-326, 1985.
Lauwerier, H. Fractals: Endlessly Repeated Geometric Figures. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 128-133, 1991.
Michelitsch, M. and Rössler, O. E. "A New Feature in Hénon's Map." Comput. & Graphics 13, 263-275, 1989. Reprinted in Chaos and Fractals, A Computer Graphical Journey: Ten Year Compilation of Advanced Research (Ed. C. A. Pickover). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, pp. 69-71, 1998.
Morosawa, S.; Nishimura, Y.; Taniguchi, M.; and Ueda, T. "Dynamics of Generalized Hénon Maps." Ch. 7 in Holomorphic Dynamics. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, pp. 225-262, 2000.
Peitgen, H.-O. and Richter, D. H. The Beauty of Fractals: Images of Complex Dynamical Systems. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1986.
Peitgen, H.-O. and Saupe, D. (Eds.). "A Chaotic Set in the Plane." §3.2.2 in The Science of Fractal Images. New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 146-148, 1988.
Russell, D. A.; Hanson, J. D.; and Ott, E. "Dimension of Strange Attractors." Phys. Rev. Let. 45, 1175-1178, 1980.
Wells, D. The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry. London: Penguin, pp. 95-97, 1991.
i'm at such a loss otherwise about what to do this winter in terms of 'an education.' i think i might do something dumb like either an astronomy class or one on chaos/complexity theory, a class on 'mockumentary' plus one other to balance out the other two
oh, and this is a real good track
i appreciate rhyming couplets in other languages
what does microfiche feel like when it is held?
what does it feel like to hold microfiche?
what does microfiche hold when it is felt?
Nov 8, 2011
Nov 7, 2011
by Gennady Aygi, trans. by Sarah Valentine
and you begin to sing — and I am disappearing
slowly into the snow (like before: a figure
darkening in the dusk
somewhere far away) and the broken board appears
there — among the ruins
in the abandoned shack (they sang whispered
cried long ago — it seems
from great joy) and in the distance the forest
in a dream
opens — and you are singing
(though — you needn’t
for it’s already over)
you go on
(though even without us eternity
is already ripening
you go on
though you’re becoming too muffled
Nov 6, 2011
Nov 2, 2011
(from top to bottom) Casabermeja, Spain: A woman cleans the grave of a relative in the cemetery; Salcajá, Guatemala: A woman fills a jug with water for the flowers she is using to decorate the graves; Sumpango Sacatepequez, Guatemala: A woman pours milk on a grave; Zunil, Guatemala: A woman walks through the local cemetery carrying a bundle of flowers for decorating the graves of relatives
Oct 27, 2011
Oct 17, 2011
I have said this before: I do not possess a superior understanding of the world. In fact, I do not possess any understanding of this world, let alone a superior one. I do not understand the world. I do not understand. That is why I write, because I do not understand. As for the price, it was not worth anything. A person's suffering, life itself, is the most precious thing there is. Nothing justifies the degradation of another, nothing justifies someone wanting to look at a zoo, to stand in front of a cage and think "I am more sensitive and have an extraordinary mind and I watch the common people to see how they behave." I haven't a clue. I belong among those in the cage, I am not standing outside the bars watching. I don't even understand what I have done. When I was in Romania, if I started every night to think about what had happened during the day, I couldn't get my head round it. I couldn't even afford to think within a wider time span. The exact, tiny things which kept accumulating were enough for me. I couldn't think, I had to cope, and this absorbed everything I could come up with in my head. I think literature too is a way of searching. What is this existence of ours? We are all a mystery, even in our own body: we do not know how long we will live, which body organs will fail us, when our mind will go. So this is enough. That is why it was so tragic, because alongside all these existential problems, which automatically concern us all, the dictatorship introduced the political surveillance that you had to fight against. I didn't understand a thing. That's why I keep trying to ask myself: what happened back then? All I have understood is that freedom is important.
Sep 27, 2011
Sep 22, 2011
Sep 20, 2011
You wanted me to tell you everything I did after we left each other.
Well, I was very sad; it had been so lovely. When I saw your back disappear into the train compartment, I went up on the bridge to watch your train pass under me. That was all I saw; you were inside it! I looked after it as long as I could, and I listened to it. In the other direction, toward Rouen, the sky was red and striped with broad bands of purple. The sky would be long dark by the time I reached Rouen and you reached Paris. I lit another cigar. For a while I paced back and forth. Then, because I felt so numb and tired, I went into a café across the street and drank a glass of kirsch.
My train came into the station, heading in the opposite direction from yours. In the compartment, I met a man I knew from my schooldays. We talked for a long time, almost all the way back to Rouen.
When I arrived, Louis was there to meet me, as we had planned, but my mother hadn’t sent the carriage to take us home. We waited for a while, and then, by moonlight, we walked across the bridge and through the port. In that part of town there are two places where we could hire a hackney cab.
At the second place, the people live in an old church. It was dark. We knocked and woke the woman, who came to the door in her nightcap. Imagine the scene, in the middle of the night, with the interior of that old church behind her—her jaws gaping in a yawn; a candle burning; the lace shawl she wore hanging down below her hips. The horse had to be harnessed, of course. The breeching band had broken, and we waited while they mended it with a piece of rope.
On the way home, I told Louis about my old school friend, who is his old school friend too. I told him how you and I had spent our time together. Out the window, the moon was shining on the river. I remembered another journey home late at night by moonlight. I described it to Louis: There was deep snow on the ground. I was in a sleigh, wearing my red wool hat and wrapped in my fur cloak. I had lost my boots that day, on my way to see an exhibition of savages from Africa. All the windows were open, and I was smoking my pipe. The river was dark. The trees were dark. The moon shone on the fields of snow: they looked as smooth as satin. The snow-covered houses looked like little white bears curled up asleep. I imagined that I was in the Russian steppe. I thought I could hear reindeer snorting in the mist, I thought I could see a pack of wolves leaping up at the back of the sleigh. The eyes of the wolves were shining like coals on both sides of the road.
When at last we reached home, it was one in the morning. I wanted to organize my work table before I went to bed. Out my study window, the moon was still shining—on the water, on the tow path, and, close to the house, on the tulip tree by my window. When I was done, Louis went off to his room and I went off to mine.
Sep 10, 2011
Aug 28, 2011
"The actual facts of the historical story had practically begged to become a novel: a beautiful Italian noblewoman, gone blind in the flower of her youth. A local inventor, inspired by her beauty to create the world’s first typewriter. The complication that both of them were married to other people. The lush backdrop of early nineteenth century Italy.
It was deceptively simple: Carolina, the contessa, wanted to write a letter to Turri, the inventor. When I had her sit down to do that with the tools she would have had at hand: a pen, ink, sealing wax, and open flame – I knew immediately why Turri would have been inspired to invent his new machine. For a blind person, these simplest elements of communication would have been not only virtually impossible to negotiate, but genuinely dangerous – which is why most early typewriters weren’t conceived of as commercial products, but as writing aids for the blind."
Carey Wallace | review of The Blind Contessa's New Machine
"and I could give you all the olive trees oh look at the trees and look at my face and look at a place far away from here"
As framework, mere externality without substance; as in the outer part.
Received unto windows as indecent allusion; as glass in its two halves.
As if edifice or fabric whose interior, removed is now merely an arc.
As skeletal or concessive to such regression. Remains of a ship
once carved and filled. As in building invites a return unto dust.
As coming away, as departure from the unending hymnal
procession of blues that envelop an egg as it does.
As encasement shed in order to lay the insides bare
As the child or pupa casts its skin; as giving up its outer form.
No longer fixed close, but to divide and to pare.
As an empty case of crushed fruit sits outside in unexpected storms.
As currency. As drinking vessel. As containing pigment of erasure.
Vicissitude of hues; as whiteness in fragments. As opening or as closure.
Aug 27, 2011
"I stripped Shakespeare's sonnets bare to the 'nets' to make the space of the poems open, porous, possible—a divergent elsewhere. When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest."
Jen Bervin | Nets
Aug 26, 2011
When I woke there was
just time to make the
train to a country dinner
and talk about ecstasy.
Which I think comes in
two sorts: that which you
know "Now I'm ecstatic"
like my strange scream
last Friday night. And
another kind, that you
know only in retrospect:
"Why, that joy I felt
and didn't think about
when his feet were in
my lap, or when I looked
down and saw his slanty
eyes shut, that too was
ecstasy. Nor is there
necessarily a downer from
it." Do I believe in
the perfectibility of
man? Strangely enough,
(I've known un-
happiness enough) I
do. I mean it,
I really do believe
future generations can
live without the in-
tervals of anxious
fear we know between our
bouts and strolls of
ecstasy. The struck ball
finds the pocket. You
smile some years back
in London, I have
known ecstasy and calm:
haven't you, too?
Aug 24, 2011
Yes, they are alive and can have those colors,
But I, in my soul, am alive too.
I feel I must sing and dance, to tell
Of this in a way, that knowing you may be drawn to me.
And I sing amid despair and isolation
Of the chance to know you, to sing of me
Which are you. You see,
You hold me up to the light in a way
I should never have expected, or suspected, perhaps
Because you always tell me I am you,
And right. The great spruces loom.
I am yours to die with, to desire.
I cannot ever think of me, I desire you
For a room in which the chairs ever
Have their backs turned to the light
Inflicted on the stone and paths, the real trees
That seem to shine at me through a lattice toward you.
If the wild light of this January day is true
I pledge me to be truthful unto you
Whom I cannot ever stop remembering.
Remembering to forgive. Remember to pass beyond you into the day
On the wings of the secret you will never know.
Taking me from myself, in the path
Which the pastel girth of the day has assigned to me.
I prefer “you” in the plural, I want “you”
You must come to me, all golden and pale
Like the dew and the air.
And then I start getting this feeling of exaltation.
Aug 22, 2011
This is a good place to begin.
Something beginning in an event that beginning overrides.
Doubt instruction light safety fathom blind.
In the doorway is the beginning thus and thus no denial.
A little beat of time, a little happiness quite distinct from misery as yet.
The sun shines.
The sun is perceived as a bear, then a boat, then an instruction: see.
The sun is a lily, then a whirlpool turning a crowd.
The shadows lengthen, the sun-drenched line of arriving strangers are all admitted, seen in the day and not the same at night, host and guest alike.
Two things then, both occurring as the beginner arrives: acceptance and the reconstruction of the world which that acceptance implies.
In the first twenty-four hours nearly blind and with hands swelling, the gaze fierce, face scowling, the beginner faces scowling.
The beginner is a figure of contradiction, conditions what has begun.
Someone could say clouds suddenly, correctly, there's a change in the low-lying blue, the space for it having diminished, its limits are almost certainly black.
Yes, black is right, it's for certainty, yellow for cattle, brown for the violin, pink is fortuitous except in flowers especially the rose, rose is for the rose, gray for clocks and the time they keep, orange for lips or for cups, also sponges, their accompanying sentiment, gold for blue and iconography and geographical distance, red is for the forest and for the alphabet, blue is for intelligence, purple for the old neighbors smelling of wool, green is for sweat, and out of white comes what we can say.
The birds in Wyoming fly too close to your hat. Birds group, regroup. A thumbprint of black then too much sky. They're already bored with the ritual. Not a bird, but a collection of blue: cobalt, indigo, ink-dipped navy. He preferred the romance of handwriting, the perfect slant of a "t".
In me every thought, however much I’d like to preserve it intact, turns sooner or later into reverie. If I wish to set forth reasons or launch a train of argument, what comes out of me are sentences initially expressive of the thought itself, then phrases subsidiary to those initial sentences, and finally shadows and derivatives of those subsidiary phrases. I begin to meditate on the existence of God and soon find myself speaking of faraway parks, feudal processions, rivers that pass almost soundlessly beneath the windows of my contemplation . . . And I find myself speaking about them because I find myself seeing them, feeling them, and there’s a brief moment when my face is grazed by a real breeze rising from the surface of the dreamed river through metaphors, through the stylistic feudalism of my central self-abandon.
I like to think, because I know it won’t be long before I stop thinking. It’s as a point of departure that thinking delights me—a cold, metallic harbor station from which to set sail for the vast South. I sometimes try to focus my mind on a large metaphysical or even social problem, because I know that, ensconced in the hoarse voice of my reason, there are peacock tails ready to spread open for me as soon as I forget I’m thinking, and I know that humanity is a door in a wall that doesn’t exist, so I can open it onto whatever gardens I like.
Thank God for that ironic element in human destinies that makes dreams the mode of thought for the poor in life, even as it makes life the mode of thought—or thought the mode of life—for the poor in dreams.
But even dreaming channeled through thinking ends up making me weary. At which point I open my eyes from dreaming, go to the window, and transfer my dream to the streets and rooftops. And it’s in my distracted and profound contemplation of so very many roof tiles divided into rooftops, covering the astral contagion of people organized into streets, that my soul becomes truly detached from me, and I don’t think, I don’t dream, I don’t see, I don’t need to.
let's meet for lunch along the Champs-Elysees
we can watch the box elders
climb flowers whose names they can't pronounce
when the rain starts, we can run home and I will
bake you bread, the next day we fly to Russia
and write a tangible manifesto to one another