Tuesday, August 22, 2017


excerpt from the short story "someone else's theme" by sigizmund krzhizhanovsky (from the book memories of the future)

for a minute straight was quiet, dividing the silence into beats with his hand. and then: "i'm even afraid of that andante expressivo: it is so artfully absents, so imperiously parts a person from people and things; a few more bars, it seems, and any return will be impossible. it's that feeling - we've all had it - when wheels are carrying us away, while our thoughts keep coming back, when the space between 'i' and 'you' is inexorably windening, and the closer the one and only, the farther away, and thus, the farther the closer. i understand why beethoven, striving to drive the e-flat melancholy of this sonata of leave-takings into fingers not his own, could not find - for the first time in his life - readymade terms. yes, it's here, above the theme of absences, that we see the direction - seemingly lost among the italian words - in his native language: in gehender bewegung, doch mit ausdruck.* i remember that then too, through the accelerating race of piano keys, in the howling wind of octaves and thirds, there flickered a tiny 'i beg you,' but pounding right after it came the final six bars at tempo primo, and before i could catch the signal word, the sonata had veered into its third movement: the abrupt vivacissimamente flooded my ears like a joyful torrent. this was the famous le retour: the return, the reuniting of the disunited. you recall those oscillating triplets in the left hand, hand joining hand, the fever of notes and lips, the pedal pumping on the upbeats so the piano nearly chokes. . . but then stuart mill was right: to understand is to transgress. the devil only knows how it's all done, but it's done in such a way that when i had finished listening, i stood for a long time under the now-shut window, unable to take my leave of the sonata of leave-takings. at the time i had a fair amount of leisure - so i invited the sonata, as it alighted from the keys, to walk with me along the muddy cobbles in the lanes across the river. in exchange for the emotion the music had given me, i offered to help it finish what it had begun. happiness, i argued, doesn't like to oblige people because people don't give it (happiness) any holidays. if people knew how to live like the sonata, in three movements, interspersing meetings with partings, allowing happiness to go off for short spells, for a few bars at least, they mightn't be so unhappy. strictly speaking, music isn't in time, time is in music. yet we treat our time extremely unmusically. a city knows nothing of separations - that never-dispersing crowd, music without pauses - the people in it are too close together to be close to one another. the narrow streets along which you and i are now wandering, sonata, are forever knocking into each other for want of space, physical or otherwise; but the roofless sky thrown open overhead reminds us of its boundless and insuperable emptinesses. if orbits intersected like streets, and stars crossed paths like people, they would all have crashed into one another and the sky would be benighted and black. no, up there, everything turns on an eternal separateness. and if we won't unwedge our cramped everyday life with separations, if we won't convert our collectives from a close order to an extended one - we may perish. an old saying compares separations to the wind that douses the candle but fans the flames. so let us sow the wind. let all the guttering tapers go out, and the sooner the better, all those tiny particles of feeling that produce more soot than warmth or light. the person who doesn't want his soup rattles his spoon and pushes the plate away; but people with no appetite for each other tend to rattle on and on, unable to push away what is unnecessary. the idiotic 'light in the window' should also be put out by the winds of separations: we don't need sitting rooms, or shaded lamps, or round tables. we need strictly enforced rules: on odd days of the month, say, forbid acquaintances to recognize each other in the street; replace two-seater droshkies with one-seaters; impose fines on those who go out in pairs. equate meetings of husbands and wives with those of convicts; allow children to speak to their parents only on the telephone; give those who abandon their families reduced fares. . .

[. . . ] i could easily outline my elaborate yet elegant system of separationism, but what interests me now is the art of separationism - not the theory but the practice."

*in unhurried motion, but with expression (german)

Monday, August 21, 2017

desired gaze

from the unbearable lightness of being by milan kundera

"we all need someone to look at us. we can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under.

the first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public. that is the case with the german singer, the american actress, and even the tall, stooped editor with the big chin. he was accustomed to his readers, and when one day the russians banned his newspaper, he had the feeling that the atmosphere was suddenly a hundred times thinner. nothing could replace the look of unknown eyes. he thought he would suffocate. then one day he realized that he was constantly being followed, bugged, and surreptitiously photographed in the street. suddenly he had anonymous eyes on him and he could breathe again! he began making theatrical speeches to the microphones in his wall. in the police, he had found his lost public.

the second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. they are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners. they are happier than the people in the first category, who, when they lose their public, have the feeling that the lights have gone out in the room of their lives. this happens to nearly all of them sooner or later. people in the second category, on the other hand, can always come up with the eyes they need. marie-claude and her daughter belong in the second category.

then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category. one day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark. tereza and tomas belong in the third category.

and finally, there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. they are the dreamers. franz, for example. he traveled to the borders of cambodia only for sabina. as the bus bumped along the thai road, he could feel her eyes fixed on him in a long stare."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

the moan

from the daydreaming boy by micheline aharonian marcom

"it is not the words that express in the fleshiest part of ourselves our fleshy desire, not the words, but the belly pitched moan, from the genital to the spine and seeps into the vocal cord: fuck me, it means, and we know it like we know how to breathe --- and there is no space between the moan and the desire: it is the thing itself. and i think this is why i have always yearned for the moment of high-pitched desire, that falling away of words into the beast's pure expression --- that:          ---its truth in this world of prevaraication of obfuscation of language distanced lies. i want the body only and the sounds it makes ---the truth of flesh"

"perhaps i am nothing, a beastly corporal illusion someone thought up in the dark days of summer and pulled me out of the ether for his pleasure or pain, and relivened me and for what i would like to know? to what purpose? i would have liked to remain unexisted and ubiquitous like the sea out of view from my balcony window. i think it is true that i didn't want to exist and once existing wanted only the peace and the mountains and the warmth of her body, and i don't think i ever had it and i have longed for it all of these many years and now i would like only to unexist, not to die, but perhaps to kill that specter that imagined me out of the ether, that memoried me, has attempted to history the unhistoried boy, the unclanned boy, the orphan, refugee, and i would have liked only to remain so: unspoken because not speakable, because to speak me is to alter maim and transfigure the boy who wanted only to be loved: i can say it now: to have been loved and out and out and free. unspecter me. i have always desired it. out out and free: the sea the wind and the invisible force that brings us to the limits of our desire, to the edge of things, out. i have always longed for it."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


by rae armatrout from just saying

see something, say something.

jotting in a notebook.

carrying oneself
in a defensive posture.

pausing before shop windows.


say something.


“normal circulation pattern.”

rate monitor.

jotting in a notebook.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


***i am so incredibly indebted (reparations yes) to the many many folks of color who have challenged and continue to challenge me from every angle: those who have held my ignorance while holding my hand, shut me down when i needed it, drawn detailed maps of whiteness as presence (as racism), turned my gaze back, generously offered tools, frameworks, stories, compassion, patience, anger, grief... these are such enormous labors of transmutation*** 

from white supremacists with torches murdering and severely wounding people in charlottesville to madison police chief koval rounding up poor black folks throughout the city, on his equally supremacist and fascist "mission" ::: the continuum of white supremacy shows itself starkly 

the grief and anger spinning, our communities reeling

white supremacy culture isn't simply packaged in torches, nazi insignia, police badges, donald trump... it implicates the "nicest" of white liberals, the "fiercest" of white anarchists, the "smartest" of white radical leftist intellectuals, and includes deeply embedded and vigorously defended expectations:
-for everyday environments that bend and shape themselves around white people desires
-for interactions that assume white people should possess the constant presence of both safety and comfort, exploring/ expanding/ appropriating or withholding/ shutting down/ giving up at whatever whim
-for material opportunities, paths towards achievement - property, jobs, relationships, accolades, education, wealth, political power - that concede to an entitled "normalcy" of whiteness
-for ceaseless explicit and implicit control of "intangibles": narratives, aesthetics, rhetoric, emotional well-being, dialogue, manners, critiques, etc etc etc

... that fucked up whiteness of the mind. it is poison

Saturday, August 12, 2017


from antwerp by roberto bolaño

she said she loved busy days. i looked up at the sky. "busy days," and also insects and clouds that drift down to the bushes. this flower pot i leave in the country is proof of my love for you. then i came back with my butterfly net in the fog. the girl said: "calamity," "horses," "rockets sliced open," and turned her back on me. her back spoke. like the chirping of crickets in the afternoons of lonely houses. i closed my eyes, the brakes squealed, and the policemen leaped out of their cars. "keep looking out the window." without any explanation, two of them came to the door and said "police," the rest i could hardly hear. i closed my eyes, crickets chirped, the boys died on the beach. bodies riddled with holes. the brakes squealed and the cops got out. there's something obscene about this, said the medic when nobody was listening. i'll probably never come back to the clearing in the woods, not with flowers, not with the net, not with a fucking book to spend the afternoon. his mouth opened but the author couldn't hear a thing. he thought about the silence and then he thought "there's no such thing," "horses," "waning august moon." someone applauded from the void. i said i guessed this was happiness.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

i feel more lonely when i am with people than i do when i am alone looking at the internet

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

in social situations i hide specific parts of my personality that i think
other people might perceive as unappealing
i don’t feel like i am pretending to be something different that what i
i don’t feel like i am anything really
i am very tired all the time
i don’t identify with most people
i don’t think highly of myself
i am too passive to create a situation in which i convince another
person that i am valuable
that i am someone who deserves things
that my physical presence in the world should induce positive or
negative feelings
everyone is growing apart from me
i am letting them do that

Monday, August 7, 2017

the valve is language

excerpt from the literary conference by cesar aira

i have often asked myself how i got into this situation, what happened during my formative years that increased the speed of my mental flow so excessively and made it stick there. i have also asked myself (what haven't i asked myself?) what the exact measure of that speed is, for the very concept of "mental hyperactivity" is approximate and must contain gradations.

to the first question, regarding the history of my malady, i have responded for better or for worse with a small and private "creation myth," whose modulations have been all the novels i have written. i would be hard put to spell this out in the abstract because the myths' variations are not specific "examples" of a general form, in the same way that specific thoughts that are always flashing through my head like lightning are not case studies or examples of a type of thought.

that myth of the ideal myriads, that little drama without characters or plot, would be shaped like a valve. or, in less technical terms, it would have the characteristic baudelaire called "irreversibility." a formulated thought does not pass back through the same caudine forks of its birth, does not return to the nothingness from which it came. which explains not only the fierce overcrowding but also a quite visible feature of my personality: my bewilderment, my imprudence, my frivolity. the withdrawal of an idea to the conditions of its production is the necessary condition for its seriousness.

in my case, nothing returns, everything races forward, savagely being pushed from behind by what keeps coming through that accursed valve. this image, brought to its peak of maturation in my vertiginous reflections, revealed to me the path to the solution, which i forcefully put into practice whenever i have time and feel like it. the solution is none other than the greatly overused (by me) "escape forward." since turning back is off limits: forward! to the bitter end! running, flying, gliding, using up all the possibilities, the conquest of tranquility through the din of the battlefield. the vehicle is language. what else? because the valve is language. therein lay the root of the problem. which doesn't mean that once in a while, such as during those sessions at the pool, i didn't attempt a more conventional method, by relaxing, by trying to forget everything, by taking a short vacation.

but i have no illusions: there's something phony about this effort because i don't believe i'll ever renounce my old and beloved cerebral hyperactivity, which, in the end, is what i am. despite all our plans to change, we never voluntarily do so at the core, in our essence, which is usually where we find the knot of our worst defects.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

variations on lostness

if someone
does not want me
it is not the end of the world.
if i do not want me.
the world is nothing but endings.


she asked
'you are in love
what does love look like'
to which i replied
'like everything i've ever lost
come back to me.'

- both by nayirrah waheed