Friday, September 30, 2016

boundaries. desire.

all quotes by jeanette winterson from the powerbook

"i looked down. there it was, making a bridge from my body to hers.
i was still wearing my tunic and the princess could not see the leather belt that carried everything with it. all she could see, all she could feel, was the eagerness of my bulbs and stem.
i kneeled down, the tulip waving at me as it had done on the hillside that afternoon i cut it down.
very gently the princess lowered herself across my knees and i felt the firm red head and pale shaft plant itself in her body. a delicate green-tinted sap dribbled down her brown thighs.
all afternoon i fucked her."

"(she suddenly took my hand.) 'this is where i feel things.'
(she guided my hand over the low waistband of her jeans.) 'excitement, danger. . .'
(she flattened my hand on her abdomen and held it there.)
'sex. and to go on feeling i have to keep some empty space.'
(suddenly she let my hand drop. i looked at it sadly.)
she said, 'what about you? what brings you to paris?'
'a story i'm writing.'
'is it about paris?'
'no, but paris is in it.'
'what is it about?'
'boundaries. desire.'
'what are your other books about?'
'boundaries. desire.'
'can't you write about something else?'
 'so why come to paris?'
'another city. another disguise.'"

"then she made a speech. i suppose you can guess the lines.
inside her marriage there were too many clocks and not enough time. too much furniture and too little space. outside her marriage, there would be nothing to hold her, nothing to shape her. the space she found would be outer space. space without gravity or weight, where bit by bit the self disintegrates."

"'i like you.'
'you want to fight.'
'the world is my boxing ring.'
'do you have to fight everyone?'
'only the enemy.'
'is it that simple?'
'you can be so subtle you just tie yourself up in knots.'
'you can be so simple you just go nine rounds with yourself.'
'well yes, i do, often.'
'what for?'
'to stay on my toes.'
'you should relax.'
'i look silly in an armchair.'
'what do you look like in bed?'"

 "what to say? that the end of love is a haunting. a haunting of dream. a haunting of silence. haunted by ghosts it is easy to become a ghost. life ebbs. the pulse is too faint. nothing stirs you. some people approve of this and call it healing. it is not healing. a dead body feels no pain. . .
she thinks i'm holding on to pain. she thinks the pain is a souvenir. perhaps she thinks that pain is the only way i can feel. as it is, the pain reminds me that my feelings are damaged. the pain doesn't stop me from loving - only a false healing could do that - the pain tells me that neither my receptors nor my transmitters are in perfect working order. the pain is not feeling, but it has become an instrument of feeling."

"the danger of writing yourself towards an ending that need never be told. at a certain point the story gathers momentum. it convinces itself, and does its best to convince you, that the end in sight is the only possible outcome. there is a fatefulness and a loss of control that are somehow comforting. this was your script, but now it writes itself.
break the narrative. refuse all the stories that have been told so far (because that is what the momentum really is), and try to tell the story differently - in a different style, with different weights - and allow some air to those elements choked with centuries of use, and give some substance to the floating world.
in quantum reality there are millions of possible worlds, unactualised, potential, perhaps, bearing in on us, but only reachable by wormholes we can never find. if we do find one, we don't come back.
in those other worlds event may track our own, but the ending will be different. sometimes we need a different ending."

"'oh, i know what you think of me.'
'what i think of you and what i feel for you are different things.'
'do you usually sleep with people you despise?'
'that's not what i meant.'
'i want you to be my lover not my judge.'
she's right. i'm the one who's muddling things up. how she lives is her decision. if i don't like it i should stay out of the way. if i don't like it i should say so and close the door.
her arms were warms and tight.
'what is it you want?' she said.
i want to be able to call you. i want to be able to knock on your door. i want to be able to keep your key and to give you mine. i want to be seen with you in public. i want there to be no gossip. i want to make supper with you. i want to go shopping with you. i want to know that nothing can come between us except each other.
. . . how do you seem to write me to myself?
i am a message. you change the meaning.
i am a map that you redraw.
. . . reach in to lift it out and your hand misses. the water is deeper than you had gauged. you reach further, your whole body straining, and then there is nothing for it but to slide in - deeper, much deeper than you had gauged - and still the thing eludes you."

"if i want to say no, i will, but for the right reasons. if i want to say yes, i will, but for the right reasons. leave the consequences. leave the finale. leave the grand statements. the simplicity of feeling should not be taxed. i can't work out what this will cost or what either of us owe. . . she was silent. we were both exposed. the truth is that you can divide your heart in all sorts of interesting ways - a little here, a little there, most banked at home, some of it coined out for a flutter. but love cleaves through the mind's mathematics. love's lengthways splits the heart in two - the heart where you are, the heart where you want to be."

"i've been here before and it's not a room with a view. the only power i have is the negative power of withdrawal. if i don't withdraw i have no power at all. a relationship where one person has no power or negative power isn't a relationship, it's the bond between master and slave."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

against annihilation

-for jacob a. hill
by roberta hill whiteman
(from philadelphia flowers)

when i found eraser dust
from “you must do your math”
left on my desk this morning, i thought of how
i love to see your face,
at once so familiar, so foreign.
soon, you will be a man
in a country born from war,
in a country that renews its pride
by making cluster-bombs. but this morning
we are safe on our street and i can watch
your spirit shimmer around you
when you laugh.

at this moment, the joy of antelope twins
who bounded before you on the day
of your birth overtakes you.
you grow bold, curious
to the point of danger,
tramping through jack pines,
setting up camps. your nomadic soul
follows the wind’s way---
whatever arrives, arrives.
yet you never stay out too long

before the coolness of the turtle clan
glides over your shoulders.
then your turtle heart hedges
and you hoard string,
bits of tin, railroad ties,
like gatherers who abided under ancient maples.

you grow so hard on yourself, hibernating,
building robots in your room,
your blood blooming under dreaming seas,
inaccessible to me,
though at times like these
you stand before an open window
like my father.

at such moments, do you ponder
just what phenolphthalein means?
this poem asks the earth
to offer you her care,
to remind you that your grandfathers
lived here for five thousand years.
they followed the loon,
so it may also guide
your running through the humming night.

at distances greater than your twelve years,
through the silhouettes
of starker fears, may these blessings
find you still
wonderously alive
in this world that prizes

Monday, September 26, 2016

the wheel

by Tomaž Šalamun from justice

o, like a little puppy i slept on the floor,
washed myself in the window.
i didn't trust your honeyed heart.
we ate breakfast when you
smelled like the urmother of hours,
mortally dangerous to me.
i tied you up.
you forbade me to steal horses.
they'll come by themselves!
they'll come by themselves!
and i smacked my lips.

only you are here
to burn you and forget you,
my property.
collapsing wet brown houses,
how should i get up.
how should i drink your gulps
in this thick, poisoned
sea air.
you by yourself broke your eyes and
pulled out your
scent with your rattle, your
banal black moan.
you give a damn what happens to me.

come, break me, reduce me. i'm becoming
the family milk bowl. the siren will
kill me. tear her dress off like virgil to make her

a fat, abashed, gelatine. i'm mashed by rocks.
she devours me like a tempest, she devours
the tattered flag. i'm an ice cream cone

melting in the child's belly. smashed
grapeskins. the yawning of sybaritic gazelles.
as an elephant i squirted. as a leopard i

squatted on the cow's heart, the big one, at the edge
bordered with pearls. bamboo was stuck in
the heart's small nooks which on the other side

kept opening like mouths that had just passed
through the gelatine. the arrow, the wing,
the fish fins, the diamond nib of my liquified

brain. this makes the empire. lust.
appoint the sirens in the valleys, but i
swallow you out of myself. i enjoy

you out of myself. and i want more.
more, more, more, still more, 'til the pain
with its heel squeezes my soul like toothpaste

from my throat. to have a good cry again and to
tremble, to shake like an overhead machine
and to sob. to need you. to need you.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

a forge, and a scythe

by raymond carver, from where water comes together with other water

one minute i had the windows open
and the sun was out. warm breezes
blew through the room.
(i remarked on this in a letter.)
then, while i watched, it grew dark.
the water began whitecapping.
all the sport-fishing boats turned
and headed in, a little fleet.
those wind-chimes on the porch
blew down. the tops of our trees shook.
the stove pipe squeaked and rattled
around in its moorings.
i said, "a forge, and a scythe."
i talk to myself like this.
saying the names of things -
capstan, hawser, loam, leaf, furnace.
your face, your mouth, your shoulder
inconceivable to to me now!
where did they go? it's like
i dreamed them. the stones we brought
home from the beach lie face up
on the windowsill, cooling.
come home. do you hear?
my lungs are thick with the smoke
of your absence.

Friday, September 23, 2016

first love

quotes by ivan turgenev from first love

"my father had a curious influence on me, and our relations were curious too. he took scarcely any interest in my education, but never hurt my feelings; he respected my freedom; he displayed - if one can put it that way - a certain courtesy towards me; only he never let me come at all close to him. i loved him, i was full of admiration for him; he seemed to me the ideal man - and god knows how passionately attached to him i should have been if i had not felt constantly the presence of his restraining hand. yet he could, whenever he wished, with a single word, a single gesture, instantly make me feel complete trust in him. my soul would open; i chattered to him as to a wise friend, an indulgent mentor. . . and then, just as suddenly, he would abandon me, his hand would again push me aside - kindly and gently - but, nevertheless, aside.

sometimes a mood of gaiety would come over him, and at such moments he was ready to play and romp with me, full of high spirits like a boy. he loved all violent physical exercise.

once, and only once, he caressed me with such tenderness that i nearly cried. . . then his gaiety and tenderness vanished without a trace. but when this happened it never gave me any hope for the future - i seemed to have seen it all in a dream. at times i would watch his clear, handsome, clever face. . . my heart would tremble, my entire being would yearn towards him. . . then, as if he sensed what was going on within me he would casually pat my cheek - and would either leave me, or start doing something, or else would suddenly freeze as only he knew how. instantly i would shrink into myself, and grow cold. his rare fits of affability towards me were never in answer to my own unspoken but obvious entreaties. they always came unexpectedly. when, later, i used to think about my father's character, i came to the conclusion that he cared nothing for me nor for family life; it was something very different he loved, which wholly satisfied his desire for pleasure. 'take what you can yourself, and don't let others get you into their hands; to belong to oneself, that is the whole thing in life,' he said to me once. on another occasion, being at that time a youthful democrat, i embarked on a discussion of liberty in his presence (on that day he was what i used to call 'kind'; then one could talk about anything to him).

'liberty,' he repeated. 'do you know what really makes a man free?'


'will, your own will, and it gives power which is better than liberty. know how to want, and you'll be free, and you'll be master too.'"

"zinaida guessed at once that i had fallen in love with her, but then i wouldn't have thought of concealing it. my passion amused her. she made fun of me, played with me, and tormented me. it is sweet to be the sole source, the arbitrary and irresponsible source of the greatest joys and profoundest miseries to someone else. i was like soft wax in the hands of zinaida; not that i alone had fallen in love with her. all the men who visited the house were hopelessly infatuated, and she kept them all on leading-strings at her feet. she found it amusing to excite alternate hopes and fears in them; to twist them according to her whim. she called this, 'knocking people against each other'; they did not even think of resistance, but gladly submitted to her. in her whole being, vital and beautiful, there was a peculiarly fascinating mixture of cunning and insouciance, artifice and simplicity, gentleness and gaiety. over everything she did and said, over every moment, there hovered a subtle, exquisite enchantment. everything expressed the unique, peculiar force of the life which played within her. her face, too, was constantly changing. it, too, was always in play. it seemed at almost the same instant mocking, pensive and passionate. an infinite variety of feelings, light and swift, succeeded each other like shadows of clouds on a windy summer day, in her eyes and on her lips. every one of her admirers was necessary to her. byelovzorov, whom she sometimes called 'my wild beast', or sometimes simply 'mine', would gladly have leapt into the fire for her. with no confidence in his own brains or other qualities, he was constantly proposing marriage to her, implying that the others only talked. maidanov was responsive to the poetic strain in her soul; somewhat cold by nature, like nearly all writers, he assured her fervently, and perhaps himself too, that he adored her. he composed endless verses in her honour, and recited them with an ardour at once affected and sincere. she sympathized with him and, at the same time, faintly mocked him. she did not really trust him, and after listening to his effusions for a while, used to make him read pushkin, in order, as she used to say, to clear the air.

looshin, the sarcastic doctor, so cynical in his talk, knew her best of all, and loved her more than the others, although he attacked her, both to her face and behind her back. she respected him, but did not spare him, and sometimes, with a peculiar malicious pleasure, used to make him feel her complete power over him. 'i am a flirt: i have not heart: i have an actor's nature,' she once said to him in my presence. 'all right then. give me your hand and i will stick a pin into it, and you will feel ashamed in front of this young man. and it will hurt you, and still you will be kind enough to laugh, mr truthful.' looshin flushed, turned away, bit his lip, but in the end stretched out his hand. she pricked it, and he did begin to laugh, and she laughed too, and drove the pin quite deep, and kept glancing into his eyes, which ran helplessly in every direction.

least of all did i understand the relations which existed between zinaida and count malevsky. he was good-looking, clever and shrewd, but something false in him, something equivocal, was apparent even to me, a boy of sixteen, and i wondered that zinaida did not notice it. but perhaps she did notice this falseness and was not repelled by it. an irregular education, odd habits and company, the perpetual presence of her mother, poverty and disorder in the house - everything, beginning with the freedom which the young girl enjoyed, with her consciousness of superiority over her surroundings, had developed in her a curious, half-contemptuous kind of carelessness and unfastidiousness. i remember how, no matter what happened - whether vonifaty announced there was no sugar left, or perhaps some squalid piece of gossip suddenly became public, or some quarrel broke out between the guests - she would only shake her curls and say, 'fiddlesticks!' and leave it at that.

but my blood, i remember, used to rise when malevsky would sidle up to her like a sly fox, lean gracefully over the back of her chair, and begin to whisper into her ear with a self-satisfied and wheedling little smile - while she would fold her arms and glance at him attentively, then smile herself and shake her head.

'what induces you to receive monsieur malevsky?' i once asked her.

'ah, but he has such beautiful little moustaches,' she replied. 'and anyway that is not your province.'

'perhaps you think that i love him?' she said to me on another occasion. 'no! i cannot love people whom i find that i look down on. i need someone who would himself master me, but then, goodness me, i shall never come across anyone like that. i will never fall into anybody's clutches, never, never.'

"the most violently conflicting feelings, thoughts, suspicions, hopes, joys, pains, tossed and whirled within me in a kind of mad chaos: i was afraid of looking into myself, if a boy of sixteen can be said to do such a thing; i was afraid to face anything -  whatever it might be - consciously. i simply tried to get through the day as fast as i could, from morning till night: but then, at night, i slept. . . the lightheartedness of childhood came to my aid.

i didn't want to know whether i was loved, and i didn't want to admit to myself that i was not. i avoided my father - but avoid zinaida i could not. her presence seared me like a flame. . . but what did i care what kind of fire this was in which i burned and melted, when it was bliss to burn and to melt? i gave myself freely to my sensations as they came, telling myself lies and hiding from my own memories, and closed my eyes to what i sensed was coming. this sick, sweet longing would probably anyhow not have lasted long; but suddenly a thunderbolt blasted it, and flung me on to a new and altogether different path."

"she tore herself from my embrace, and was gone. i went too. i cannot even begin to convey the feelings with which i left her. i never wish to experience them again, but i should count it a misfortune never to have had them at all."

"'she is dead,' i repeated, stating dully at the porter, and making my way noiselessly into the street, wandered off without knowing where i was going. the past suddenly rose and stood before me. so that was to be the final answer to it all. so that was the final goal towards which this young life, all glitter and ardour and excitement, went hurrying along."

"perhaps the whole secret of your enchantment lies not, indeed, in your power to do whatever you may will, but in your power to think that there is nothing you will not do: it is this that you scatter to the winds - gifts which you could never have used to any other purpose."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

persephone the wanderer

by louise gluck from averno

In the first version, Persephone
is taken from her mother
and the goddess of the earth
punishes the earth—this is
consistent with what we known of human behavior,

that human beings take profound satisfaction
in doing harm, particularly
unconscious harm:

we may call this
negative creation.

Persephone’s initial
sojourn in hell continues to be
pawed over by scholars who dispute
the sensations of the virgin:

did she cooperate in her rape,
or was she drugged, violated against her will,
as happens so often now to modern girls.

As is well known, the return of the beloved
does not correct
the loss of the beloved: Persephone

returns home
stained with red juice like
a character in Hawthorne—

I am not certain I will
keep this word: is earth
”home” to Persephone? Is she at home, conceivable,
in the bed of the god? Is she
at home nowhere? Is she
a born wanderer, in other words
an existential
replica of her own mother, less
hamstrung by ideas of causality?

You are allowed to like
no one, you know. The characters
are not people.
They are aspects of a dilemma or conflict.

Three parts: just as the soul is divided,
ego, superego, id. Likewise

the three levels of the known world,
a kind of diagram that separates
heaven from earth from hell.

You must ask yourself:
where is it snowing?

White of forgetfulness,
of desecration—

It is snowing on earth; the cold wind says

Persephone is having sex in hell.
Unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t know
what winter is, only that
she is what causes it.

She is lying in the bed of Hades.
What is in her mind?
Is she afraid? Has something
blotted out the idea
of mind?

She does know the earth
is run by mothers, this much
is certain. She also knows
she is not what is called
a girl any longer. Regarding
incarceration, she believes

she has been a prisoner since she has been a daughter.

The terrible reunions in store for her
will take up the rest of her life.
When the passion for expiation
is chronic, fierce, you do not choose
the way you live. You do not live;
you are not allowed to die.

You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike. Scholars tell us

that there is no point in knowing what you want
when the forces contending over you
could kill you.

White of forgetfulness,
white of safety—

They say
there is a rift in the human soul
which was not constructed to belong
entirely to life. Earth

Asks us to deny this rift, a threat
disguised as suggestion—
As we have seen
in the tale of Persephone
which should be read

As an argument between the mother and the lover—
the daughter is just meat.

When death confronts her, she has never seen
the meadow without the daisies.
Suddenly she is no longer
singing her maidenly songs.
about her mother’s
beauty and fecundity. Where
the rift is, the break is.

Song of the earth,
song of the mystic vision of eternal life—

My soul
shattered with the strain
of trying to belong to earth—

What will you do,
when it is your turn in the field with the god?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


 look like scrutiny
  found to stave off boredom
   contradictions in motion
    a crisis and yet
     keep up the pace
      peripheral or centrifugal
       flip it spin it lunge
        out of reach push
         the stories tease and read it
          self-soothing self-scathing
           never a dull breath
            for a reason


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

symbolic interactionism

by mira gonzalez from i will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together

people walk from one destination to another
with looks of determination on their faces
they stare at me
and they say ‘where the fuck are you going’
i say ‘i am going to a place’
they say ‘fuck you’
and i have an intense feeling of being a pathetic asshole
and that feeling manifests itself in the form of frantic unrestrained

i begin to realize that my face will never be inside of your face
and that we can silently communicate using a series of microscopic

and we will understand that the phrase ‘alone together’ is not an
oxymoron anymore

and i will resolve to never be happy enough to forgive you

and i promise that from now on i will only have emotions that can be
perceived as neutral

i wonder how it is possible that there are billions of people in the world
yet i am the only person on the planet

Monday, September 19, 2016


quotes from this is not a pipe by michel foucault

"what is essential is that verbal signs and visual representations are never given at once. an order always hierarchizes them, running from the figure to discourse or from discourse to the figure.

this is the principle whose sovereignty klee abolished, by showing the juxtaposition of shapes and the syntax of lines in an uncertain, reversible, floating space (simultaneously page and canvas, plane and volume, map and chronicle). boats, houses, persons are at the same time recognizable figures and elements of writing. they are placed and travel upon roads or canals that are also lines to be read. trees of the forest file over musical staves. the gaze encounters words indicating the way to go and naming the landscape being crossed. and at the nexus of these figures and signs, the arrow that crops up so often (the arrow, sign bearing a primal resemblance, like a graphic onomatopoeia, and shape that formulates an order) - the arrow indicates the direction in which the boat is traveling, shows that the sun is setting, prescribes the direction that the gaze must follow, or rather the line along which it must imaginatively shift the figure provisionally and a bit arbitrarily placed here. it is not, in fact, a question of those calligrams that by turns bring into play the subordination of sign to form (a cloud of words and letters taking the shape they designate), then of form to sign (the figure dissecting itself into alphabetical elements). nor is it any longer a question of those collages or reproductions that capture the cut out form of letters in fragments of objects; but rather a question of the intersection, within the same medium, of representation by resemblance and of representation by signs. which presupposes that they meet in quite another space than that of the painting.

paul klee, the wild man
the second principle that long ruled painting posits an equivalence between the fact of resemblance and the affirmation of a representative bond. let a figure resemble an object (or some other figure), and that alone is enough for there to slip into the pure play of the painting a statement - obvious, banal, repeated a thousand times yet almost always silent. (it is like an infinite murmur - haunting, enclosing the silence of figures, investing it, mastering it, extricating the silence from itself, and finally reversing it within the domain of things that can be named.) 'what you see is that.' no matter, again, in what sense the representative relation is posed - whether the painting is referred to the visible world around it, or whether it independently establishes an individual world that resembles itself. the essential point is that resemblance and affirmation cannot be dissociated."

"resemblance presupposes a primary reference that prescribes and classes. the similar develops in series that have neither beginning nor end, that can be followed in one direction as easily as in another, that obey no hierarchy, but propagate themselves from small differences among small differences. resemblance serves representation, which rules over it; similitude serves repetition, which ranges across it. resemblance predicates itself upon a model it must return to and reveal; similitude circulates the simulacrum as an indefinite and reversible relation of the similar to the similar."

rene magritte, decalcomanie

"in decalcomanie (1966): occupying two thirds of the painting, a red curtain with large pleats obscures a landscape of sky, sea, and sand. beside the curtain, turning his back as usual to the viewer, the man with the bowler hat looks out to sea.

now, we find that the curtain has been cut out in exactly the shape of the man: as if he himself (although of another color, texture, and width) were merely a section of curtain snipped away by scissors. within the large opening the beach is visible. what are we to make of this? is it that the man, in changing places, having departed the curtain, exposes what he was looking at when he was still enfolded within it? or is it that the painter, in moving the man a few centimeters, has set against the curtain that fragment of sky, water, and sand that the man's silhouette hid from the viewer - so that thanks to the cooperation of the artist, we can see what is contemplated by the silhouette that blocks our view? or must we admit that at the moment the man turns to look at it, the fragment of landscape immediately before him has leapt aside, avoiding his gaze so that before his eyes it became his shadow, the black smudge of his body? transference? doubtless. but from what to what? from where to where? the thick black silhouette of the man seems to have been shifted from right to left, from the curtain onto the landscape he now obscures; the fold he makes in the curtain displays his prior position. but in the shape of a man's silhouette, the landscape has also been cut loose and transferred from left to right. the scrap of red curtain that remains bizarrely attached to the shoulder of this human landscape, and that corresponds to the small part of curtain hidden by the black silhouette, in itself demonstrates the origin and the location from which the sky and water were cut. a displacement and exchange of similar elements, but by no means mimetic reproduction.

and thanks to decalcomanie the advantage of similitude over resemblance can be grasped. the latter reveals the clearly visible; similitude reveals what recognizable objects, familiar silhouettes hide, prevent from being seen, render invisible ('body' = 'curtain,' says mimetic representation. 'right is left, left is right; the hidden here is visible there; the sunken is in relief; flatness extends into depth,' says the similitudes of decalcomanie.) resemblance makes a unique assertion, always the same: this thing, that thing, yet another thing is something else. similitude multiplies different affirmations, which dance together, tilting and tumbling over one another."

[Footnote: 'decalcomania.' the title embodies a complex play of ideas. decalcomanie means transference, transferency, or decal; it is also a painterly technique (often mentioned by breton) in which pigment is transferred from one side of a painted surface to another by folding over the canvas. finally, decalcomanie refers to a species of madness bound up with the idea of shifting identities.]

Saturday, September 17, 2016


quotes from the art of cruelty by maggie nelson

"trecartin's 2007 feature-length video, I-Be Area, while nominally based on the concept of 'virtual reality,' is a riotous exploration of what kinds of space, identity, physicality, language, sexuality, and consciousness might make possible once one leaves the dichotomy of the virtual and the real behind, along with a whole host of other need-not-apply binaries (the everyday and the apocalyptic, the public and the private, the utopic and the dystopic, male and female, gay and straight, among them)."

"'i love the idea of technology and culture moving faster than the understanding of those mediums by people,' trecartin has said, and his works aim to immerse viewers in this failed-to-upload state. the disorientation of this state is not that of grandpa befuddled by a fistful of printer cables, but rather the sort of psychological and physiological stupefaction more often associated with acid overdoses and schizoid breakdowns.

I-Be Area takes incapacity - to absorb, to make sense, to cohere, to sort, to concentrate - as its starting point. . . then it amplifies this incapacity by turning up the speed, the color, the hysteria, the flicker. image or speech overflow is no longer a problem, and certainly not one that art could or should aid in solving. . . it is our 'abstract plot of now,' as he calls it. trecartin's ability to sustain us here for some real time often feels like a miracle, in that such an ability seems as if it should be, by definition, also beyond the artist. that is to say, the art often feels as if it is moving faster than trecartin himself could be - which is likely why his films, when combined with his youth (I-Be Area was finished when he was twenty-six), have had something of an awe-inducing effect on the art world."

"koestenbaum notes that trecartin's work is about radical distraction. . . but recartin's brand of distraction doesn't rely on any simple use of the imitative fallacy - that is, 'contemporary life is mind-scrambling, fragmented, and distracted, so my art must be mind-scrambling, fragmented, and distracted, too.' it is too tightly orchestrated for that - too layered, too well performed, too purposefully edited, too intelligently perverse. however bawdy and hysterical, trecartin's videos draw tight rings of action: they are condensed, fast-moving world creations that make an intense demand on our attention. and the animating paradox of this world, as koestenbaum has put it, is that 'trecartin's characters concentrate on distraction.' however frenetic I-Be Area may be, its distraction is not of the same order as that of, say, the idiotic pop-up balloons and crawling tickers that have become staples of the television screen. to stay with I-Be Area all the way through - to listen to every word, to follow every decision and cut - requires a keen effort. you'll get the most out of it if you, too, can concentrate on distraction.

of course, you may not remember much of what happened; you may not remember any of the characters; you may not even be left with an image. if your experience resembles mine, you'll be left with something far more amorphous - a kind of vibrating memory of the unnerving psychic state the work induced, or captured, or invented (and, perhaps, a notebook full of scrawled lines that sounded great at the time, such as 'my personal really concise pussy is developing a very inner monologue which i will not reveal to you as i become dynamic')."

"both foreman and trecartin work from a conception of the human, or the 'real,' borne out of contradiction, fluctuation, incoherence, and perversity; both offer immersion in their vision without rehashing the avant-garde fetish of terrorizing the audience or the mainstream one of chaperoning it. 'we abide by cultural directives that urge us: clarify each thought, each experience, so you can cull from them their single, dominant meaning and, in the process, become a responsible adult who knows what he or she thinks,' foreman has said. 'but what i try to show is the opposite: how at every moment, the world presents us with a composition in which a multitude of meanings and realities are available, and you are able to swim, lucid and self-contained, in that turbulent sea of multiplicity.'"

Friday, September 16, 2016

the myth of control

from too perfect by allan e. mallinger and jeannette dewyze

chapter two

"the whole reason obsessives construct and embrace the myth of control is to fend off anxiety; and when an experience contradicts the myth, if they can't ignore or reinterpret the experience, the anxiety returns with a vengeance. they may even develop physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, sleeplessness, or dizzy spells."

"when obsessives lapse while dieting or trying to quit smoking or drinking, they may have trouble moving beyond their lapse and refocusing on the goal. . .  not because they seriously think one slip will make them fat, sick, or drunk, but rather because they lost control. they failed to make themselves do what they decided to do, and if such a slip occurred once, who knows where it could lead?"

"one patient told me she hated to miss even a single workout because it made her feel she couldn't trust herself, and that frightened her. this all-or-nothing thinking occurs partly because obsessives rarely live in the present. they think in terms of trends stretching into the future. no action is an isolated event; each is merely a part of something bigger, so every false step has major ramifications. . .  obsessives tend to envision the worst possible outcome of a scenario and then worry as if such a scenario had in fact come to pass. or they will mentally magnify small personal gaffes into something far more serious."

"by their nature, emotions sometimes defy control, and this unruliness disturbs the obsessive. also, through their extremist lenses, many obsessives unconsciously fear that any show of emotion could lead to their humiliating themselves, devastating someone else, being rejected, or even losing all self-control. . . when their feelings are starting to surface in therapy sessions, many obsessive patients will deliver an intellectual analysis of them, change the subject, joke, or focus on something trivial - anything to avoid actually feeling and exploring this perturbing part of themselves."

"some may repress their feelings so effectively that they do not know what their feelings are; they come to believe they were born without the normal emotional range present in others. this causes them pain, as they sense themselves to be defective in some core way. in their wish to seem normal (to themselves and others), these people may fake whatever feelings they think are appropriate in various situations. or they may unconsciously compensate for their perceived defect in an altogether different way, by idealizing it. . . people who take this path disdain feeling as evidence of weakness. they sneer at emotional people and admire intellect and reason. they thus convert the pain of feeling defective into pride in being 'strong'."

"my patients use a subtler strategy to control those around them: they strive to make people think well of them, always. the main objective underlying this strategy is to leave no room for criticism. in early childhood we learn which behavior and abilities are labeled 'good' by parents, teachers, and others. many obsessives master these skills, developing a brilliant facility for identifying those attitudes and behaviors considered virtues in each new social setting, and then adopting them absolutely. thoughts or impulses incompatible with this image of perfection are suppressed or rejected."

"obsessives believe that knowledge imparts a protective power. a related form of 'vigilance' is the obsessive's tendency to worry, as if internal fretting over anything that might go wrong can actually prevent it from happening."

"their 'fairness doctrine' helps them to hold on to the illusion of control. and intertwined with the conviction of cosmic justice, most obsessives hold a belief, also unconscious, in what i call the cosmic scorekeeper. . . this notion enables obsessives to believe that they can control their destiny by being good or bad. they can guarantee themselves safe passage by making the scorekeeper owe it to them. they do this by piling up a track record of self-denial, sacrifice, industry, diligence, honesty, and loyalty rivaling that of a saint. they try to avoid behaviors, feelings, even thoughts that will subtract points from their stockpile of sacrifices. . . before doing something 'selfish,' they may need to earn it by performing some distasteful (but noble) duty."

"like many other obsessives, every time things begin to go 'to well' for her, dory braces herself for the scorekeeper to balance them out. similarly, if she has some bad luck, she wonders what she did to cause it. did she step on the figurative crack in the sidewalk? did she have overly selfish or hostile thoughts? did she feel too much pleasure? or let herself become too optimistic and confident, jinxing herself? the minute she finds her 'misstep,' she feels better because she can tell herself that she can prevent the misfortune next time by simply behaving differently."

"if they work at something such as school, therapy, or staying healthy, and their efforts don't succeed, they may feel cheated and resentful. . . time after time she expected fairness and was disappointed and outraged when she failed to get it."

"when she and a group of friends were deciding where to go for dinner, jennifer knew immediately in her own mind which was the best choice. she refrained, however, from explicitly trying to persuade the group to go there. 'i didn't want the whole decision to be on my shoulders,' she said. (in the next chapters we'll take a close look at how perfectionism commonly provokes such fear of decision-making.) instead she insisted that the choice made no difference to her. the more the group discussed other possibilities, however, the more jennifer inwardly chafed. almost in spite of herself, she began to try unobtrusively to influence the decision toward her preference, casually mentioning a few advantages of the spot, noting a drawback to one of the alternatives. and yet almost the moment the group did select her preference, jennifer found herself regretting she had ever said anything that might have tipped the scales in the decision. all the way to the restaurant she worried: about whether the same chef was working there; whether everyone in the group would like this type of food; whether the service would be too slow. later, when one of her companions voiced a minor complaint about his meal, the comment deeply upset her. she had assumed total responsibility over the whole experience, as if it were within her control to make everything work out well."

chapter five

"obsessives tend to be especially sensitive to demands, either real or imagined, that are placed upon them. one aspect of demand-sensitivity is the tendency to 'hear' demands or expectations in an exaggerated way."

"whether or not the obsessive person complies with them, they are exquisitely attuned to . . . unstated obligations. in fact, they hear them as if they were shouted through a bullhorn. placed in a new situation, their first concern often is getting the lay of the land, discovering what the rules are."

"people who need to be above reproach are often most comfortable when they feel their decisions and actions are being dictated by outside forces. . . in the obsessive's worldview, where conscientiousness is king, it's better to be fulfilling one's duty than satisfying one's own needs."

"the costs of unconsciously disowning one's desires are high. . . when most of your activities feel like obligations, you can reach a point where nothing gives you pleasure, and life feels meaningless. you don't feel like an active participant, taking what enjoyment you can in life, but instead experience yourself as a passive recipient, grinding away at the obligations that are laid upon you. . . a solid sense of self requires a consistent awareness of your volitional side - what you want. without that anchor, you wind up feeling insubstantial and passive, and you may feel more vulnerable to external influences, especially the wishes of others. because you feel (at an unconscious level) as if your sense of self - unanchored as it is - can at any moment be overrun by more powerful outside forces, you are compelled to guard against people who seem strong or intrusive, or who get too close."

"gerald saw a clear connection between his oppositional adult self and the child who so often had felt threatened by his mother's demands.
'one major source of confrontation was food. even when i was hungry, i resented how my mother controlled my meals. she gave me more than i wanted; she made me eat foods she knew i didn't like without giving me the chance to say no. it was like i was an extension of her needs, as if she were saying, 'if you eat, i'll be happy.' i was just mirroring something in her. i felt that if i just automatically complied with whatever she asked, i'd be asked to do it again. and i'd be asked to do so many things, i'd always be reacting and never stopping to know what i wanted.'
'and what then?'
'i wouldn't be there. i wouldn't exist! there would be no i!'
eventually, gerald found a weapon. 'the weapon was holding back,' he told me. 'if i didn't eat, it drove my mother crazy. if i withheld affection, it caused my parents pain. it made me feel powerful, in control'. . .
i would describe gerald as intensely 'demand-resistant' - that is, inclined to balk at various expectations simply because they are perceived as demands. as gerald discovered, demand-resistance is closely connected with interpersonal control. first, it's a way of safeguarding one's fragile sense of self by refusing to be overpowered or controlled by others. second, it is a way of reassuring oneself that one can have a subtle impact on - and control over - others by frustrating them. . .
a small percentage of people, like gerald, consciously recognize that they feel resentful, not only when someone tells them what to do, but when they feel even a subtle expectation or pressure. some may have a reputation for being stubborn or oppositional. but it's far more common for demand-resistance to be nearly undetectable. inwardly, the obsessive may have some hesitancy when confronted by certain demands. 'i get a tightness inside, a tightness in my gut,' is how one patient described it. 'i feel a suppressed anger.' but often there are no external signs of this private turmoil. in other cases there are outward signs - procrastination or inability to stay with a task, for example - but the foot-dragger himself is bewildered and often dismayed by his inability to do what he consciously thinks he wants to do."

"even self-employed obsessives can experience inner demands as somehow coming from the outside. with no boss or supervisor to blame, they focus their resentment on the work itself, their clients, or their dependents (who are 'making' them work). when demand-resistance sabotages their on-the-job performance, many obsessives start to feel demoralized because normally they take pride in their ability to work effectively. for many, the 'solution' to this dismaying turn of events is to rationalize their resentment of, and alienation from, their work in ways that enhance rather than hurt their self-image. since practically everyone regards conscientiousness as a virtue, that in itself often provides the perfect excuse. the obsessive tells himself he's a victim of exploited conscientiousness. . . his feelings of victimization explain his negative attitude toward his work, and meanwhile his demand-resistance goes undetected."

"perhaps even sadder than its impact on his work is the damage demand-resistance can inflict on the obsessive's experience of his leisure-time activities. one painful consequence of the conversion of 'wants' into 'shoulds' is that at some point the obsessive comes to regard even potentially joyful activities as burdens. an obsessive may take up a project or hobby with a pleasant sense of anticipation. but somehow 'i'd like to knit my husband a sweater' becomes 'i really ought to work on that sweater' - something that should be done, exactly like an external demand. the person begins to slog through the project, rather than relaxing and enjoying the chance to be creative. sometimes this unconscious resistance doesn't affect the actual performance of the task, but often it does. for instance, the person may begin procrastinating. in extreme cases it can lead to the abandonment of one hobby or personal goal after another. . . 'i get the feeling that as soon as i put a goal down on paper, it becomes an obligation!'"

"many obsessives also have a fear of dependency, and of intimacy. . . demand-resistance can inflict more serious damage on a well-established relationship. . . sheila felt a lingering hurt and anger when she underwent major surgery and her husband, gary, acted cool and distant. why did he behave that way? not because he didn't love her or was insensitive to her need for nurturance, but because he recoiled from the expectation that he give such nurturance."

"since his demand-resistance was unconscious, gary blamed his lack of compliance with his wife on other factors. he told me he didn't want to 'set a precedent': 'i feel if i did break the ice and open up a dialogue, it would be a constant expectation, that i'd have to sit and talk every night. i have this feeling that precedents are being set all the time, and they'll be thrown in my face in the future.' although gary expressed apparently sincere love and respect for his wife, he often felt irritated by her, a pattern i've seen repeatedly among resistive obsessives. often they will harbor resentment toward the people, institutions, or rules they feel demand them to behave a certain way."

"'i don't want to make a commitment of friendship to her right now. i don't want to set up expectations - i don't want her to come to expect my time or energy. i don't like to feel that people have claims on my time,' judy said. even the thought of such demands made her feel panicky. 'i just want out. i feel in danger of being smothered. to be around people, i have to do it on my terms instead of shared terms or their terms'. . . 'i feel i might never really know my self unless i resist in this way.'"

"the most important step in overcoming demand-resistance is recognizing the demand-resistance consciously as it is happening. oddly, i find that many people are able to make changes as soon as they are able to recognize what's occurring. . . start paying attention to the number of times you think, feel, or say 'i should' or 'i have to' rather than 'i want.' if you are demand-resistant, this way of thinking is a self-protective habit that has grown out of proportion, causing you needless pain and undermining your sense of autonomy. . . don't let the ownership of your life slip away. realize that even when you are pressured to do something, the decision to comply or not is entirely yours."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

first things at the last minute

by robert hass

The white water rush of some warbler's song.
Last night, a few strewings of ransacked moonlight
On the sheets. You don't know what slumped forward
In the nineteen-forties taxi or why they blamed you
Or what the altered landscape, willowy, riparian,
Had to do with the reasons why everyone
Should be giving things away, quickly,
Except for spendthrift sorrow that can't bear
The need to be forgiven and keeps looking for something
To forgive. The motion of washing machines
Is called agitation. Object constancy is a term
Devised to indicate what a child requires
From days. Clean sheets are an example
Of something that, under many circumstances,
A person can control. The patterns moonlight makes
Are chancier, and dreams, well, dreams
Will have their way with you, their way
With you, will have their way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

forgetting something

by nick flynn

Try this—close / your eyes. No, wait, when—if—we see each other / again the first thing we should do is close our eyes—no, / first we should tie our hands to something / solid—bedpost, doorknob— otherwise they (wild birds) / might startle us / awake. Are we forgetting something? What about that / warehouse, the one beside the airport, that room / of black boxes, a man in each box? I hear / if you bring this one into the light he will not stop / crying, if you show this one a photo of his son / his eyes go dead. Turn up / the heat, turn up the song. First thing we should do / if we see each other again is to make / a cage of our bodies—inside we can place / whatever still shines.

Monday, September 12, 2016


by jennifer militello

Things too thin inhabit our dreams and we take on
their starving. We live until hunger

takes on such a shape that it is shoulder blades
in everything and sounds up in the trees. Then,

such ghosts. Such bones without skins doubled over.
A starless night every night and starlessness

is ashes or newsprint on the hands. Living
is barely a flock of birds the way it moves

like falling; it must be the cure for something,
the last lit house on a dead end street

or a hunger with two minds, drawing children
to the damp sheds at the far fence of their yards.

There is an entire August storm in everything said,
and to open the violent hives of remembering,

we imagine marigolds, birds drowned in the creek,
the lights left on in a room left behind.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

after sunset

by joyce carol oates
from women whose lives are food, men whose lives are money

broken walls of waves
said to be the atlantic
sweep toward us

wave upon wave
so much is breaking
so much is happening

for centuries, here,
so much has happened

droplets of water
bubbles of bright flesh
we stand here
again and always
and once again, again,
hypnotized out of flesh
jarred by the earthquake
of the sea

we are waiting
for something

we are waiting
for something to record

how icy the shock on our bare feet!

a hundred yards away a vendor sells
stickers for the bumpers of cars:
the proclamation of the achievement
of the replication of--
the recording of--

we are waiting
again and always
and again, again,
stalkers of meaning
human and cold