Monday, 9 November 2009

Tip out that old tea

"A blog may have at most 5000 labels."

New places:

Fiction and miscellaneous:
Poetry and miscellaneous:
"Economic Humanities":

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Last night at The Foundry & Tipcake hotladies

Openned / Land for Lajee Fundraiser. We heard around fifteen poets read in three-minute slots, all relevant & some intentionally so, & we saw a short film about the Aida camp & heard some short talks about the camp and the Lajee Centre.  We were taken at our stations by the reverie wherein Steve Willey psyches himself up with Cobbing glossolalia strapping on his brown shinpads for another full day's football against the camp children.  There was an auction and other stuff.

The only thing that didn't make me fucking ecstatic was the sense of a special occasion.  Openned & other itinerary bezoars, like The Blue Bus, Utter!, Xing the Line, Penned in the Margins, Chlorine, and the stuff which happens in Cambridge, should regularly schedule mixtures of poetry and direct prosaic political and activist-administrative address.  New nights too.  If you want concrete suggestions, backchannel me.

Also, in a limited edition of 20, 'Recovery', by Jonty Tiplady, 28pp, LARGE FORMAT, roller skates on the cover, 17 all new unpublished or unemailed out poems, adult themes, Nicholas Lyndhurst, ghetto smurfs, £5, cash, or cheque payable to JT Iplady at F16, 75 Montpelier Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3BD.


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

From "Poetic Speciation and Diversification"

By Peter Philpott.

[...] So, I’m sure you can get my drift here. My assumption is the non-academic one that poetry has survived as a cultural activity through its relative ease of access, and its direct relationship with human needs involving the range of functions language plays in our lives. It is readily produced, readily consumed. It is at root unspecialised. There’s plainly a form of it, or range of forms of it, I feel, as I daresay you do, important and worthy of survival and further development. Its value is that it is also at root unspecialised, highly variable and adaptable. Even British Innovative Poetry must be approachable on terms that don’t necessitate academic training and in places that are separate from higher education.

It seems dangerous to me that the academic ecological niche is becoming so important. I have overheard people commenting that they needed to do an MA to become a writer. This fills me with despair [...]

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lives of the Poets

Tim Atkins’s Life According to Bruce Andrews

Are you a male or female?

Describe where you currently live:

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Your favourite form of transportation:

What’s the weather like?

Favourite time of day:

Your relationships:

Your fear:

What is the best advice you have to give:

If you could change your name, you would change it to:

My soul’s present condition:

Emily Critchley’s Life According to Andrea Brady

Are you a male or female?

Describe yourself:

How do you feel?

Describe where you currently live:

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Your favourite form of transportation:

What’s the weather like?

Favourite time of day:

Your relationships:

Your fear:

What is the best advice you have to give:

If you could change your name, you would change it to:

My soul’s present condition:

Kai Fierle-Hedrick’s Life According to Marianne Morris

Are you a male or female?

Describe yourself:

How do you feel?

Describe where you currently live:

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Your favourite form of transportation:

What’s the weather like?

Favourite time of day:

Your relationships:

Your fear:

What is the best advice you have to give:

If you could change your name, you would change it to:

My soul’s present condition:

Samantha Walton's life according to William Shakespeare

Are you a male or female?

Describe yourself:

How do you feel?

Describe where you currently live:

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Your favourite form of transportation:

What’s the weather like?

Favourite time of day:

Your relationships:

Your fear:

What is the best advice you have to give:

If you could change your name, you would change it to:

My soul’s present condition:

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

My Countrey Audit

By the Earl of Westmorland.

Blest Privacie, Happy Retreat, wherein
I may cast up my Reck'nings, Audit Sin,
Count o'r my Debts, and how Arrears increase
In Natures book, towards the God of Peace:
What through perversness hath been wav'd, or don
To My first Covenants contradiction:
How many promis'd Resolutions broke
Of keeping touch (almost as soon as spoke.)
Thus like that Tenant who behind-hand cast,
Intreats so oft forbearance, till at last
The sum surmounts his hopes, and then no more
Expects, but Mercy to strike off the score.
So here, methinks, I see the Landlords Grace
Full of Compassion to my drooping Case,
Bidding me be of comfort, and not griev'd,
My Rent his Son should pay if I believ'd.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

From "Thomas the Rhymer, Part Third"

By Sir Walter Scott.

In numbers high, the witching tale
The prophet pour'd along;
No after bard might o'er avail
Those numbers to prolong.

Saturday, 29 August 2009


I can't see you anymore because I've been so busy making this for you:

But how am I supposed to give it to you when you hang up on me?

Friday, 28 August 2009


The next Openned vent, a benefit for Land for Lajee, is on the 6th of October at THE FOUNDRY, OLD STREET. Sign up th'expence of Spirit in a waste of shame b/w 7.15 & 7.30. Confirmed poets so far are: Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Michael Zand, Sean Bonney, Sophie Robinson, Harry Gilonis, Josh Stanley, Tim Atkins, Nat Raha, Posie Rider, Peter Philpott, Alan Hay, Amy De’Ath, & more T.B.A. Lots of small press books for sale. Also BBQ @ Chanja D. Naymbak's on Fri (fantasy, prophecy, pattern and rhythm) if you're down, mates.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Architecture for Cartography (7/8)

Drew Milne et al. (2002) write, “Symptomatically, direct poetic statement seems naive, despite examples of clarity, such as the concrete instances of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s neo-classical wit, contemporaneity and polemical purpose: ‘Garden centres must become the Jacobin Clubs of the new Revolution.’ […] A corollary of the oxygen of privacy is hesitancy and embarrassment about public pronouncement, programmes and manifestos, indeed a full scale retreat before the notion of a collective avant-garde. Modes of evasive or transcendent hermeticism seem less vulnerable. This suggests a hostility to collective statement, and, by implication, a hostility to collective criticism. There is a desperate absence of successful modes of mediation between the expertise of the initiated and the naivety of the ignorant. Most of all this is exemplified by an embarrassment and lack of interest in description or criticism which might seek to support or refine creativity, and thus a sense of the priority of poetic inspiration over communicative rationality; a priority of the individual poet’s work over the collective mediation of poetry. Without succumbing to demagogic disgust with the dreaded hierarchies of elitism, we need to suture the wounds of knowledge.”

Let’s say fan Luke Roberts says to fan Nat Raha, “Say, Nat, I like those lines by Franny [Francesca Lisette], 'recess into purity | late bloody glass. like sheaves | unbuttoned on the blank primrose | wet, with intent | to bruise' (lymph(node)),” and Nat says, “I’ll say! They evoke startling topographies!” and Luke, now hysterical, says, “You can say that again!”

Luke and Nat’s “overlapping consensus” is the confluence two differentiated support systems. Each system comprises, like, a chaos of inchoate cognitive and affective ashes, extensively glimmered over with gentle hermeneutic dispositions. They are a little less than or a little more than, and a little prior to, meaning.

Luke feels the “blankness” of the primroses as their paradoxical lack of all properties. Responding to the near-homophone “blankets,” he glimpses something resembling floral wallpaper. This surface is his formulation of the propertyless primroses (their “bare particular”). The predication of primrose-properties to this surface strikes him, paradoxically, as its injury – their “wet” like a “bruise.” Something similar occurs in “late bloody glass.” He senses a person who was once flesh and blood become an opaque surface, which is illogically also a transparent window into that person’s inexistant insides. This association is only possible because Luke recently read Seaton Gordon’s short story about a man living in a glass lighthouse talking to his skin. The most wrought part of Luke’s impression, however, concerns “recess into purity,” (& is supported by said phantasmagoria of paradoxically-propertied surface-objects). When Luke thinks of the recess, he imagines a slot interrupting a surface, and imagines, as it deepens, that its “slotness” and its “interruptness” somehow deepens, so that it progressively becomes the negation of more & more stuff, forming an inch-long continuum, at the bottom of which everything is negated – and there is “purity.” Luke undergoes a succulent nano-monodrama of shyness (“wallflower”), threat, daring and constitutive injury.

Like Luke, Nat thinks of skin. But she feels more vividly the quick, limping traipse over the stepping-stones of end-stopped words, especially “wet, with intent.” There is something like a bird in Nat’s impression, based on a breast (“unbuttoned”, the “bruise” ending the scatter of “t” sounds, and the blood on the glass, which as far as Nat’s concerned erects a crimson nipple against transluscent skin). She receives a topological jolt from the word “sheaf.” She feels the lines proliferated by innumerable tiny thriving ripe spaces with complex, mazy continuities and discontinuities, constantly riven and reconfigured by mitosis. These hybridised lymph nodes, birds, boobs, blood droplets, corn kernels (today Nat is confusing “sheaf” and “husk,” and sees corn husks buttoned by corn kernels constantly “unbuttoning,” reveal other nested unbuttoning rows, matryoshka-martyr-bomber-like) countenance Nat’s assertion of “startling topographies.” The strange flat-yet-profound surfaces, implicated in purity, countenances Luke’s avid assent.

A crowd soon forms. Neil Pattison can’t say why he likes those lines, but it’s because they reactivate an affective state associated with Pope’s lines, in Essay on Man, “Why has not man a microscopic eye? | For this plain reason, man is not a fly. | Say what the use, were finer optics giv’n, | T’ inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav’n? | Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o’er, | To smart and agonize at ev’ry pore? | Or, quick effluvia darting thro’ the brain, | Die of a rose in aromatic pain?” (which unadulterated he disliked). He and Luke agree, with pondering aspect, that the word “bruise” is like a crushed “rose.” Jow Lindsay likes the lines because he obsessively spoonerises, and thus senses “nymph(lode)” in the title, and feels nebulously an interlocking system of cerulean (“[...] bloo[...] bruise [...]”) Shakespeareana, uncertainly enclosing Francesca’s e-mail address, “blastednymph@,” MacBeth’s “blasted heath,” and the idea of a delicate spirit drawn from a “cloven pine”(“recess”) like a mineral (“lode”). He wouldn’t have liked it if he hadn’t recently heard a lecture about the crinkle-crankle mining of fragmented oil deposits. The journey of the “n” of “node” seems to Jow like a nymph poking its head out of its node, which is terribly touching. Gavin Selerie likes them because they feel to him like an update of, “no one, not even the rain, has such small hands”, and he feels tiny brave hands reaching into even tinier recesses, despite the bruises they accrue. Gavin and Jow agree that there’s something “cute” about them. Posie Rider and Fabian MacPherson both feel the “blank primrose” as a deadpan vagina, the button as clitoral, the purity as chastity, the “glass” as menarchal, the “intent” as transparent, the “bruise” as evocative of erectile tissue, and the “wet” as plasma seepage due to vascular engorgement, but argue heatedly without common ground into awkward and enduring silence. The “glass” for Sarah Silverman is a cup of “racially pure” blood, and she hears an echo of “races into purity” in “recess into purity,” so for some reason she can’t specify, she thinks the lines are hilarious. They makes Rich Owens feel like he’s getting ready for the day (“late bloody glass,” “sheaves” and “shaves” perhaps?). Rich and Sarah agree that the lines “feel like they’re about the future.”

These people are nodding! Not Posie & Fabian obv., who arguably are the only ones who should be.

So a poetic atom (see first six installments) might be merely a regime of coordinated action, based on surreptitious mis(matched)understandings.

Of course, if you believed this, you might not just believe it about poetry. Selective pressure which socialises someone into a practice may be equally well answered by a strategy which lets the agent opt out of the practice without loss. Various “anti-practice” practices can similarly smooth over sui generis actions into apparently uniform practices. For example, “mirroring” behaviour lets agents participate a primordial “tit-for-tat” of peaceful cohabitation or reciprocated aggression with a very minimal shared lifeworld. The meta-practice of “occupying coherent practices with one another,” may arbitrate between otherwise mutually uncomprehending communicative positions. It is not unusual that someone says “I see what you mean” when she doubts that she does. Conversely, it is not unusual that someone misconstrues another’s behaviour as salient to her own. J. D. Vorauer, & M. Ross, “Self-awareness and feeling transparent: Failing to suppress one's self” (1999): check it deep. Such strategies suppress the discrepancies between validity claims raised (I'm talking in Jürgen Habermasese now), and avoid bringing behaviours into a dialogic relation at precisely those points at which they threaten to fail to cohere as practice. Nor is such action necessarily “strategic” in Habermas’s sense. The taxonomies of behavioural economics point to our readiness to favour heuristics which assimilate experience (under the rubric of comprehension) over more fallibilistic modes of accomplishing robust comprehension. Cf. J. St. B. T. Evans, J. L. Barston & P. Pollard, “On the conflict between logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning” (1983). For example, the false consensus effect is demonstrated by a study in which student participants who agreed to wear a sandwich board (“Eat at Joe’s”) around campus gave higher estimates of the prevalence of their response than those who refused to carry the sandwich board and vice-versa. The participants, in other words, tended to overestimate both the degree to which a consensus existed, and the degree to which they were representative of it. That’s L. Ross, D. Greene & P. House, “The false consensus phenomenon: An attributional bias in self-perception and social perception processes” (1977). See note 1. The outgroup homogeneity bias, the availability heuristic, the trait ascription bias, the illusion of asymmetric insight, the illusion of transparency, and the Forer effect could also be important in this regard. Cf. E. Pronin, J. Kruger, K. Savitsky, & L. Ross, “You don't know me, but I know you: The illusion of asymmetric insight” (2001).

You could map by running into their homes shouting:

[coming soon]

Listen: for Habermas, the Habermas of A Theory of Communicative Action anyway, the coordination of social action, via communicative reason, requires that there are real worlds of normative rightness, theoretical truth, and expressive or subjective sincerity. But others aren’t so sure. See note 1. As Lara Buckerton argues, in a review of D. Harlan Wilson's Blankety Blank: “Your vein, if you know your stuff, rises hissing from your forehead like the cobra from her basket – Jürgen Habermas, in a drunken swing at postmodernist irrationalism, hypothesises an “unlimited communication community,” but against this (actual proper) theory, postmodernism can posit a quasi-noumenal “unlimited haggling community,” in which communicative action is steered by fear of boredom, and of the violent restructuring of identity by haggard and mercenary rhetoricians. “Why can’t I find a girlfriend? I don’t understand. Maybe they’re scared by all the multiple orgasms they have when they have sex with me – that it will leave their mind a shuddering husk?” is practically “hi” in Vulgaria – “emotion” in is either an embarrassingly transparent ploy, or good inspiration for such a ploy. It always gets product-recalled by tranquillity. A porn medley with the sex cut out [...] When we can afford a McMansion, shall we fall in McLove?”

But a hypothetical map of mis(matched)understandings would begin to show their regularities. Some patterns could be considered institutions which relieve the cognitive burden of coordinating action through discourse by increasing the incidence, and the surreptitiousness, of such mis(matched)understandings. Poetry would be played out within distinctive sheaves of such institutions. What would these institutions be like? I dunno. Maybe particular versions of boredom, politeness, hospitality, a sense of humour, the overactive imagination, nonconformism, prosodic factionalism, embarrassment of manifestos, impotence, despair, vigilance against positivism, legitimacy of reflex, comfort in deferral. Maybe “gayness” or “shitness.”

“It is well known and widely if tacitly acknowledged,” writes J. H. Prynne in the inaugural edition of Hot Gun!, ed. Josh Stanley, is “that poetry is a retarded practice, close to absurdity as counting for nothing in a real world: it surely does make nothing happen.”

Poetry is gay; e-poetry is shit. With gay I want to evoke the word’s whole felicitous semantic evolution during the second half of the 20th century. Poetry is happy; poetry is curiously carefree; poetry is uninhibited by normative restraint; poetry is salacious; poetry is euphemistic; poetry throws quasi-reproductive shapes, without issue, to gratify and express, and because it does what it desires; poetry is at the business end of a nasty system of discursive exclusion and persecution; poetry is a site of conflict over the meaning of happiness; poetry is not quite queer; poetry is weird, weak, rubbish, fragile, useless, pointless, irritating, inconvenient; poetry is petty and treacherous. When something is poetry it’s usually soooo poetry.

I dunno what manner of being I am, so the following cutting-edge semantic tweaks may be limited to a handful of Radley alumni and Shoreditch wankers (“cutting-edge [...] tweaks [...] handful [...] of [...] wankers”, continuing our season). Poetry and gay now go up higher than other things: poeticness has either no upper limit, or a superlatively superlative one. It is certainly possible to be poetic in a greater degree than it is possible to be any non-poetic x (except gay). The expression “I am gay for you” is not restricted to same-sex couples. It means “I love you,” while implying that that love is an abomination, and that this lover is abominable for holding it an abomination. Spectacles of affection and sentiment are gay, increasingly so in proportion as they are (a) heartfelt and (b) pat set-pieces, coincidental with impersonal public formulae debauched in commerce and popular entertainment. See note 2.

By shit I mean “fucking awful.” Or if you will permit me to be gay for you about it, wildly squirting waste products in need of a sump pump.

The heavenly imprecision of the “mainstream / avant-garde” bifurcation leads to (a) nanonoble cartography à la Duncan and these posts and (b) stabs at a better bifurcation. Geoff Squires evokes one very seductive imprecision in an e-mail to The UKpoetry List, 24/10/2008:

“[...] a great deal of ‘mainstream’ poetry is implicitly empiricist in the sense that it is concerned with the world as it comes to us through our senses. It takes as its point of departure some experience, situation or incident, which it then works back from and reflects on: the Wordsworthian formula. Rationalism, by contrast, is concerned with what we bring to the world: language; our historically and socially situated consciousness; our whole cognitive apparatus. Modernist writing tends to be concerned with these rather than experience in any direct sense, and is thus reflexive rather than reflective, de-centred rather than centred, abstract rather than concrete. With the empiricist stance comes an experiencing ‘self’, identity and a ‘voice’ ( I think ‘ear’, being receptive, is a different matter); rationalism treats these as problematic, as constructs to be deconstructed [...] Mainstream empiricism in England is further reinforced by the notion of common sense, and one has only to recall the various associations of common (common land, common law, common prayer, commonwealth etc) to see how powerful and pervasive an idea this is. (The term does not translate easily). So empiricism claims not only to be the indigenous philosophy (if we make Hume an honorary Englishman here) but a shared, demotic element of the culture. Rationalism is felt to be vaguely continental and alien, and this perception applies then to modernism. Why modernism should have these rationalist tendencies I don’t know: I am not aware that the early modernists were supping on Kant or Descartes, although there is the parrot somewhere in Beckett who can only manage the first part of Hume’s famous dictum: nihil in intellectu [...]”

See note 3. Trade sales vs. direct sales dissemenation is another tantalising polarisation. Queer vs. heteronormative poetry is yet another, which seldom enjoys overt articulation – maybe because queer poetics are constitutively bored with striking generalising divisions, even when (especially when?) equipped with careful caveat. How many small press, rationalist stanzas are mere patriarchal liaisons which conflate “level” and “pussy” – stabs at a better bifurcation, ontologised?

I’ve come up with a polarisation. If not “avant-garde,” how about “New Social Movement” (in the cant of the shark-faced Sociologist, obv.)?

NSMs are characterised by no formal membership; by on-the-surface-of-it weird alliances (the best-known example is the “hippies <3 toffs” of the Green movement); by a focus (some say, in contrast to the labour movement’s preoccupation w/ production) on social changes in identity, autonomy, lifestyle, culture; NSMs are frequently organised around a single issue. In this case, the issue is language.

Sorry, but it is. Botox Bogey Yoga Yoda writes, “And as for Blair being right about their [the 7/7 London bombers] having ‘no excuse,’ he cannot possibly be right, the phrase is calculated to stimulate an unconscious memory of the authority of schoolteachers and make us all sit up straight like good pupils having a lesson taught to them. The phraseology is deliberately mismatched; words more commonly used to talk about the unruly behaviour of children or footballers are applied to suicide combatants in a war which those combatants never asked for and which they wouldn’t have entered had it not been for our illegal invasion of Iraq and the wholesale slaughter of the Iraqi people. NSMs also often try to exemplify the social relations they seek to bring about” (Thu, 28 Jul 2005 08:33:10 +0100).

Poetry which is practiced after the fashion of an NSM (Type A) vs. poetry which isn’t (Type B).

Type A is a bad NSM. It is losing. It is petty. Its disarray is the privative of an unacceptably deadly array. What does that even mean? It is stupid, in Keston Sutherland's sense (see Quid 18, "This is not "This Ain't No Chicago Review""), retarded, in Prynne's sense, and gay, in ours.

It’s easy nowadays to be abominable, cf. Adorno: “we’re like in a big SAW trap [...] aaah”. Type A embraces evasive discourse-centrism, estrangement, postmodern frag-disavowal of authenticity, formal-novelty-fetishism, set procedures, twink improv, neo-dada, room-centrism (this list adapted from one by Peter Philpott), which have an elective affinity w/ the side-stepping of abomination.

Language *is* the perfected vapour, the transparent medium conveying unpolluted the oomph of governmentalised presences. If not language, what? $$$$? Meaning? Compressed chests and narrow souls? Thought? Power? Something called materiality? Type A don’t detest confessionalism, empiricism, the lyric I, the (so-called) Romantic Ego, or stand-up, because they somehow fail to function. They function too well and crystallise pulchritudinous yet annoying crypo-BNP dickheads franked to their personal Bardvilles. Type A hate the Type B poets who appear in Type B poetry. That’s how we can forgive Frank O’Hara his lyric I, and that’s why we quite like some of those Aisle 16 guys. That’s why some Type B poets embrace discourse-centrism, estrangement, postmodern frag-disavowal, but still come across all countryside alliance Silver Surfer. Sean O’Brien’s lines, “[...] the mind takes out / Its lightness to inspect, and finding nothing there / Begins to sing, embodying, emboldening its note.” Mean *that* [...] the mind takes out / Its lightness to inspect, and finding nothing there / Begins to sing, embodying, emboldening its note. How the fuck dare he say that shit to us?

Among Type A poets, there are disquotation analogues, and there are careerism analogues. Tim Atkins (56”) talks of the greasy pole of poetry with the indifference of one who assumes others have seen it too. But a ritual reluctance surrounds these analogues. Status is accrued furtively or forlornly. We talk about “making stuff happen” and “getting stuff out there,” but not about giving people stuff they want, or making them want stuff. Public relations language is unwelcome. The people who are sort of exceptions to this tend to put on events for everyone else, or they run Salt. There are no striking exceptions. The anarchists and stern Leninist blocs guard against public relations language, but that’s not the whole story. The Type A cryptotories dislike it too; the PR self-understanding is vulgar, ephemeral, and improvident. Probably because poetry is gay, a sizeable contingent of Type A isn’t going to do it “for ever.”

E-poetry promises a lot to Type A. Shit, or a lying shit?

To Be Concluded.

Note 1: Cf. B. Mullen and L. Hu, “Social projection as a function of cognitive mechanisms: Two meta-analytic integrations” (1988): majorities sytematically underestimate their size, and minorities sytematically overestimate their size. The latter tendency supports my argument; the former is problematic, could still conceivably be involved in a process of consensus overestimation. More problematic biases include pluralistic ignorance (see D. Katz & Floyd H. Allport, Students' Attitudes: A Report of the Syracuse University Reaction Study (1931). Artificial evolution is a technique I’m always banging on about which introduces the principles of selective pressure and heritable variation to iterated configurations of silicon components. In one such evolved circuit, one group of field-programmable gate arrays “are not connected to the main part of the circuit through conventional routing resources, but it can be shown that they are still contributing to the behaviour. Possible mechanisms include electromagnetic coupling, or interaction through the power-supply or substrate. Evolution was able to exploit this physical behaviour, even though it would be difficult to analyse.” Such artificial evolution illustrates the counterintuitivity of the kinds of material processes which can underlie what is usually formulated as telos. Adrian Thompson, “Exploring Beyond the Scope of Human Design: Automatic generation of FPGA configurations through artificial evolution, (Extended Abstract)” (1999). Cf. e.g. Timothy G. W. Gordon and Peter J. Bentley, “On Evolvable Hardware,” esp. pp. 18-9.

Note 2: It reminds me of John Wilkinson’s weird superversive manifesto, “Cadence.”

“The sorry liability, as much avant-gardism attests, is that with deeper implication into the impersonal of the most personal, a compensatory movement occurs, and atop the magma of grossly accelerated, fissile desire — all radioactive fallout — a tendency is asserted toward the hollow, posturing figure of the adventuring writer, a frozen romantic tableau, a rhetoric akin to that of freedom at present.”

Also of the “new social type” of J. G. Ballard’s High Rise (1975), “who were content with their lives in the high-rise, who felt no particular objection to an impersonal steel and concrete landscape, no qualms about the invasion of their privacy by government agencies and data-processing organizations, and if anything welcomed these invisible intrusions, using them for their own purposes.”

Note 3: Posie Rider just sat down and was as annoying as possible, and read this quotation in an annoying “sentence-my opinion-sentence-my opinion” way, and in her closing statement queried “the Wordsworthian formula” (I blamed the Language poets and she was partly mollified) and said Structuralism would do quite as well as Rationalism.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Unconditional (6/8)

I've been pondering a line from Simon Jarvis's (brilliant in normal as well as weird ways) The Unconditional, "double smash castrate Manhattan". The most obvious reference here is the September 11 Al Qaeda attack on Manhattan's Twin Towers. What bothers me is, why insist on bludgeoning? Castration is chemical or it is edged. The hijacked planes smashed into the towers, but the "castration" was done by heat.

Also, castration is already dual. Would a double castration be fourfold? Where is the "should have gone to Sex-spayers" extra pair accounted for? Is it just redundant, an oversight or kind of hyperbole? In a text which makes such frequent, taunting use of stacked modifiers and prefixes -- forcing the reader to run little gauntlets of logic gates -- it seems unlikely.

I like the idea of asking for a double cocktail like you might ask for a double whiskey, but I don't think its gets us anywhere.

This does though. Manhattan transfer is one of those Internet sex terms (felch, squick) which I can't help but suspect is quite disconnected from the practice it describes. Lifeworlds apart, the more so since the sense is contested and "I consent to be Manhattan transferred" probably means "poop in my ass," but maybe not. When you poop in Bronislaw Malinowski's ass over a number of years, he admits he is skeptical about the term's usefulness. What's crucial here is how the doubly-abject faecal phallus seems almost duple poop. Propriety implies that my turd and thy turd are twain.

Miranda July's incomparably sweet Me and You and Everybody We Know (2005) evokes pre-potty twaining utopianism:

The Twin Towers, moreover, were not exactly testicular. They were two phalluses.

I think Jarvis, with avidity typical of the dialectician, is indicating that the penis -- which we tend to treat as transcendentally phallic, as the standard for what it means to be monolithic -- already depends on a dual structure. That is, the bulk of the shaft of most cocks consists of two columns of erectile tissue (the corpora cavernosa. Another more slender column, the corpus spongiosum, which runs down between them, contains the urethra and is capped with the glans).

Continuing our season, another little facéd friend:

Sniffing the trail of the Manhattan transfer, we can recognise penectomy by vagina dentata as the moment in which the penis's repressed duality returns -- "my" phallus is finally "your" phallus. (Typically of "down there," the ultimate realisation coincides with death). As Linus Slug puts it, "I am often with double penis: heimlich und unheimlich."

A dermoid cyst is a tumor which may contain pockets of teeth and muscle (as well as bone, fat, sebum, blood, eyes etc.). "Of the actual dynamics of the eruption of ovarian teeth it is impossible to speak" (W. McAdam Eccles). Morphologically, dermoid cysts are the nearest we've got to vagina dentata -- and they're plainly inadequate.

These are final "vagina dentata ergo hakuna matata" moments of the arthouse B-movie Teeth (2007):

Teeth is a fervent, snap-dash coming-of-age yarn with a metal soundtrack. But it sort of posits an insouciant genderqueer primed to penectomise rapists.

Penile fracture, rupture of the tunica albuginea (chin and T-zone q.v.), is perhaps the closest functional correlate -- substituting, for an ideology of slice, a praxis of bludgeoning. Could the conditions of possibility of vagina dentata be cognitive, Jarvis asks, not anatomical? In a more generalised idiom of political activism, the question posed is this: how to transform an ensemble of risk concepts ("woman-on-top," "impact against the female pelvis or perineum and bending laterally") into a repertoire of resistance tactics? And then when would be best to have the workshop?

UPDATE: I just checked the line and it's actually "castrate Manhattan in a double smash", so. That makes more sense.

Friday, 7 August 2009


From "Little Dune Buggy"
By The Presidents of the United States of America.

Little blind spider
Took the wheel
Navigatin grass blades completely by
Got a sassy chassis
Sparklin in the sun
All four small bald fat tires
Rockin through the sand & burnin up

Little dune buggy
In the sand
Little blue dune buggy
In my hand

Gotta rubber band motor hummin on the beach, ready for fun
Quit spinnin that web & come out & play in the sun
Eight thimble-sized cylinders
Be as smooth as you please
Spider's got his fat old abdomen
Stuck in the bucket seat





Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Li'l' '


Tomorrow night, 6th August, The Leather Exchange (15 Leathermarket Street) will cross three lines from 7.30: like a three line whip, those lines will be Alan Hay Line, Nat Raha Line & Johan de Wit Line.

Also, Angel Exhaust 20, "You Just Rang Anne WIDECOMBE?" is out now, with new poetry by John Kinsella, Kelvin Corcoran, Jeff Hilson, DS Marriott, John Goodby, David Chaloner, Jesse Glass, Rita Dahl, Jason Wilkinson, Michael Haslam, Charles Bainbridge, Chris Brownsword, Colin Simms, Out To Lunch, Carrie Etter, and the results of "a survey where contemporary poets explain what’s wrong with the poetry scene."

Plus, closer to the surface, a new issue of The New Yinzer has just gone live. The guest editor, Claire Donato, hopes you discover transformative rearrangement in the wee things found there, things that pay attention to, directly address, or represent the not fully formed, the seemingly insignificant or unimportant, the little, compact, short, bijou, tiny, miniature, microscopic, cramped, elfin, etc.

Here's a bit from "Songs from a Long Poem Which is Not Called "Sing-Along Morality of Thinking" But More Like "Hmmmmmmm Time and Politics"" by Josh Stanley, the most erotic thing I've experienced since the one time I stopped to talk to that chugger for three days:

my shepherdess lovely,
is a notion too trivial 2
engage much attention
ooooo Time:
ay touch u like radiowaves
ooooo ay’d like
us + u 2 know ev’rything
fa la la / + ay’ll b getting head
+ by u am er crowned while
eating blackberries
while u my dear ay
crown with myrtle +
swallows twitter in the skies that represent the universal wing:
they sing we sing u sing she sings ay sing
the day in its sadness in Tupperware bring
white birds 2 true lovers do not ever sing
+ o + o + most among the coral
ay desire for none 2 b excluded
o the grass, it is so green

And, damn, here's something from Dan Wyke's "Where to Sleep?"

Monday, 13 July 2009

From "The Well-Beloved"

By Thomas Hardy.

To his Well-Beloved he had always been faithful; but she had had many embodiments. Each individuality known as Lucy, Jane, Flora, Evangeline, or whatnot, had been merely a transient condition of her. He did not recognise this as an excuse or as a defence, but as a fact simply. Essentially she was perhaps of no tangible substance; a spirit, a dream, a frenzy, a conception, an aroma, an epitomized sex, a light of the eye, a parting of the lips. God only knew what she really was; Pierston did not. She was indescribable.

Never much considering that she was a subjective phenomenon vivified by the weird influences of his descent and birthplace, the discovery of her ghostliness, of her independence of physical laws and failings, had occasionally given him a sense of fear. He never knew where she next would be, whither she would lead him, having herself instant access to all ranks and classes, to every abode of men. Sometimes at night he dreamt that she was 'the wile-weaving Daughter of high Zeus' in person, bent on tormenting him for his sins against her beauty in his art -- the implacable Aphrodite herself indeed. He knew that he loved the masquerading creature wherever he found her, whether with blue eyes, black eyes, or brown; whether presenting herself as tall, fragile, or plump. She was never in two places at once; but hitherto she had never been in one place long.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

From Blake's annotations to Reynold's Discourses

To: "The most beautiful forms have something about them like weakness — minuteness, or imperfection."

Blake: Minuteness is their whole beauty.

To: "But not every eye can perceive these blemishes. It must be an eye long used to the contemplation and comparison of these forms."

Blake: Knowledge of ideal beauty is not to be acquired. It is born with us. Innate ideas are in every man, born with him; they are truly Himself. The man who says that we have no innate ideas must be a fool and a knave, having no conscience, or innate science.

To: "... from reiterated experience an artist becomes possessed of the idea of a central form."

Blake: One central form composed of all other forms being granted, it does not, therefore, follow that all other forms are deformity. All forms are perfect in the poet's mind, but they are not abstracted or compounded from nature, but are from imagination.

To: "The great Bacon treats with ridicule the idea of confining proportion to rules ... Says he: '... The painter must do it by a kind of felicity and not by rule.'"

Blake: The great Bacon he is called — I call him the little Bacon — says that everything must be done by experiment. His first principle is unbelief, and yet he says that art must be produced without such method. This is like Mr. Locke, full of self-contradiction and knavery.

What is general nature? Is there such a thing? What is general

Friday, 10 July 2009

From "Sonnet: Autumn"

By Charles Baudelaire trans. I.H.

mildly we like
excepting animal frankness, irritant heart

the pale day, the crime
the fear & madness

old engines, daisy pale
me 'n' you are not an autumnal sun
that kicks to whiteness
like this

Last night at Leather

Very cool Xing the Line last night to launch this onedit. One by one the readers stood and gave me pleasure. Mythological beings like Kai Fierle-Hedrick and Matt Chambers gravely sat among us. Jennifer Cooke went to the wrong issue and maybe the wrong tube. I bit Emily Critchley for everyone. You couldn't tell from Sophie Robinson's reading but she was wasted. Three poets said no to the samosa you eventually ate. Jeff Hilson severally chucked, killed, but he guffed, floored, at Jonty Tiplady's plaint re being tweeted to Bishopsgate. Then Jonty contrived difficulties in describing an orgasm face which freighted it with emotions and possibilities, made it & then claimed that it shone us. Somebody told me something like, the people are divided over his work, but Jonty Tiplady, I beg you, heal this rift. I left with a stack of stuff from The Arthur Shilling Press.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Barque & Cork

Sean Bonney's Document has just been published by Barque Press. If you only commission one ritual of verification this cycle, make it this.

I am blue to be missing the Soundeye festival in Cork:

Wed July 8 • 18:00 • admission free
Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork
Reading: Sean Bonney (UK) + Mairéad Byrne (Irl/USA) + Keith Tuma (USA)

Thu July 9 • 18:00 • admission free
Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork
Reading: James Cummins (Irl) + Frances Kruk (UK) + Keston Sutherland (UK)

Thu July 9 • 20:30 • admission €5
The Other Place Club, St. Augustine St. (just off Paradise Place / Western Rd.), Cork
SoundEye Cabaret (Programmed by Fergal Gaynor)
With Isabella Oberlander (dancer AUT) + Boiled String (performance poetry CYM) + Mathematical Muse (poetry / performance / music) + Retorika Quartet with Camilla Griehsel (baroque and renaissance strings with soprano) + many more

Fri July 10 • 14:00 • admission free
The Guesthouse, 10 Chapel Street, Shandon, Cork
Reading: Swantje Lichtenstein (Ger) + Kevin Perryman (Ire/Ger) + Stephen Rodefer (USA/Fr) + Michael Smith (Ire)

Fri July 10 • 17:30 • admission free
Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork
Reading: Jerome Rothenberg (USA) + Geoffrey Squires (Ire/UK) + Christine Wertheim (Aus/UK/USA) + special guests

Fri July 10 • 21:00 • admission free
Meade's Wine Bar, 126 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork
Couscous@Meade's with M/C Mairéad Byrne
(Pre-programmed open-mic)

Sat July 11 • 11:30 • admission free
Wreckage of Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork
Poetry by Default programmed by Jimmy Cummins
Reading: Jim Goar (USA) + Marcus Slease (NIre) + David Toms (Ire)

Sat July 11 • 17:00 • admission €3 (towards the upkeep of the building)
(Sonic Vigil runs continuously 12:00 - 18:00)
St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork
SoundEye/Sonic Vigil sound event
Performance: Jaap Blonk (Nl) + Jerome Rothenberg (USA) + Christine Wertheim (UK/USA)

Sat July 11 • 20:00 • admission free
Eason's Hill Community Centre, Eason's Hill, Shandon, Cork
Reading: Peter Manson (UK) + Maggie O'Sullivan (UK) + Tom Raworth (UK/Ire)
[Tom Raworth's reading is generously supported by Poetry Ireland]

Sun July 12 • 11:00 • admission free
Wreckage of Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork
Reading: Thomas McCarthy (Ire) + Mark Mallon (Ger/Fin) + Luke Roberts (UK)

Sun July 12 • 13:00 • admission free
The Guesthouse, 10 Chapel Street, Shandon, Cork
Reading: Billy Mills (Ire) + Martin Corless-Smith (UK/USA) + Catherine Walsh (Ire)

From "Our Daily Bread"

By Keith Tuma.

Laughter that rescues us from rancor, belly over speedo on La Playda de los Muertos. It's contagious, her bed-swap; it's international. Misoygny trumps misandry as the fashion industry sleeps furiously. Some say Mao was good for the women of China, though you wouldn't know it from Wang Ping's The Last Communist Virgin.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

From "Squat"

By cris cheek.

Stuck into What seems to be Vacuous
Discussion. A switch which only works
When turned first On and then lodged

[page break]

In position halfway back to Off. That
Uneasy moment when a personal memory
System Breaks Down. Cough sweet Sticky
Glistens Orange in the bottom of a Cup.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Drax redux

Justice is done! The troublemakers have been found guilty and sentenced to death.

Martin Wrainwight's summation article.
Drax facebook group.
Paul Chatterton's web site.
The Coal Hole - a site about direct action against coal.
Cops love donuts and solve crimes. These ones were harmless. **COOL LINK!**
Pledge donations towards legal and execution costs. **COOL LINK!**

From "Sonata"

By Maurice Scully.

[...] paper money shaking

catching light now &
then then losing it
lost altogether or
not. lovely moments.

o lots of lovely moments.
kin. where distinctly
rich meet distinctly
poor & drop down law

whispering gold-gold
through a polar smile
or two in the middle
ground. I don't know.

what? a kitten nibbles a twig.
& when breezes

the leaves a little it pretends
amazement. mica-

s. corm. here ( ) is the
( ) news.
paint [...]

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Jonathan Stevenson's quotes pt. XVIXI

Members of the jury.

I'm going to try to summarise why we feel that we are not guilty, why we feel that what we did was right, despite the very proper laws against obstructing trains, why we feel that it was the wrong decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute us in this case, and why we don't feel that we are guilty of a crime.

I want to start by responding to your request for clarification yesterday about "lawful excuse". His honour may say [in his summing up] that it's true that there are ways in law to make space for circumstances, to allow a bigger picture to be considered.

These ways can have different names for different offences — so for example "lawful excuse", which you asked about yesterday, applies only to the charge of criminal damage. For example, last September, a jury in Kent found six protesters not guilty of committing £30,000 worth of criminal damage to Kingsnorth coal-fired power station, since the group were acting to prevent a greater crime. Those on trial did not disagree that criminal damage is a crime, just that, in certain circumstances, it may be necessary and proportionate to cause some damage to prevent a great crime. That jury agreed.

His honour may explain that there is a legal defence of "necessity", that applies to most laws, and that it was on the basis of "necessity" — the fact that we believed our actions were going to save lives and that we had to act — that we prepared a legal defence before this trial. Along with many legal professionals we were very disappointed by his honour's decision prior to the trial that this defence was not available to us in law. Nonetheless we decided not to appeal against it. We felt that you the jury would be free to decide on the facts of a case as you find them - and not just the ones his honour tells you are relevant.

It's up to you to decide whether what we did was necessary. I would like to emphasise to you that we believed and we still believe that it was urgently necessary to do what we did, and proportionate to the scale of the problem, that the consequences of that train taking coal into Drax are so serious that any reasonable person would understand our reasons for stopping it. To help explain why we were so sure of the links between Drax's activities and deaths around the world we had expert witnesses lined up to talk to you about the immediate and ongoing harm that Drax's emissions cause. However from what evidence we have been able to get across to you, with his honour's indulgence, we hope that you can see that these facts speak for themselves, and our actions, though harmful, were indeed necessary to try to stop a greater harm. And if you agree with that then you still have a legal right – as the jury - to find us not guilty.

You've heard it said already I think, that the judge decides about the law, but the jury decide about the facts. What does that mean? It means you the jury can decide as you see fit. You the jury have a constitutional right to follow your own judgement and not necessarily follow the judge's directions to find us guilty. In other words, you get to make the final decision. In law this principle is called the jury's power of nullification, and it's been a right that has been regularly used over the years when juries have felt the law has been applied harshly, or inappropriately, or unjustly, or incorrectly.

Perhaps I can explain this with a quote from a very senior judge, Lord Denning. He said:

"This principle was established as long ago as 1670 in a celebrated case of the Quakers, William Penn and William Mead. All that they had done was to preach in London on a Sunday afternoon. They were charged with causing an unlawful and tumultuous assembly there. The judge directed the jury to find the Quakers guilty, but they refused. The Jury said Penn was guilty of preaching, but not of unlawful assembly. The Judge refused to accept this verdict. He threatened them with all sorts of pains and punishments. He kept them 'all night without meat, drink, fire, or other accommodation: they had not so much as a chamber pot, though desired'. They still refused to find the Quakers guilty of an unlawful assembly. He kept them another night and still they refused. He then commanded each to answer to his name and give his verdict separately. Each gave his verdict 'Not Guilty'. For this the judge fined them 40 marks apiece and cast them into prison until it was paid. One of them Edward Bushell, thereupon brought his (case) before the Court of the King's Bench. It was there held that no judge had any right to imprison a juryman for finding against his direction on a point of law; for the judge could never direct what the law was without knowing the facts, and of the facts the jury were the sole judge. The jury were thereupon set free."

This was affirmed as recently as 2005, in relation to the case of Wang, where a committee of Law Lords in the highest court in the land, the House of Lords, concluded that: "there are no circumstances in which a judge is entitled to direct a jury to return a verdict of guilty". So you do have that right to decide for yourselves. And unlike in 1670, his honour won't be able to fine you, or put you in prison for making what he sees as the wrong decision.

There have been many cases over the years where juries have decided, on reflecting more broadly, to find people not guilty despite directions from the judge. For example, the case of Zelter and others who were accused of damage to an aircraft about to be used for bombing civilians. In all of these and others the judge said that the defendants admitted the offence and so must be found guilty. But the jury chose to look outside the limited view of the court room, and to find them not guilty.

The freedom that you have is what enables the law, where necessary, to move forward. It is what allows you to look beyond the confines of this court to the wider world, and to make a judgement based not just on law, but to make a judgement based on justice. Justice is the force that underpins and breathes life into the law, and it is your role as the jury to see that justice as you see it is done.

We all know that times change, and what was acceptable in one era may not be acceptable in another. You have heard of how it was once legal to own other people, how it was illegal for women to vote. Well one way or another we are going to have to stop burning coal and move on from the fossil fuel era. And that means that the law will eventually have to change and acknowledge the harm that carbon emissions do to all of us, by making them illegal. The only question is whether the law will catch up in time for there to be anything left to protect.

We are not trying to tell you how to decide. We are only trying to say that it is up to you, and we are grateful for that.

I want you to think back to that situation of there being a person on the tracks ahead of that train going on its way to Drax. Members of the Jury, it may sound like a strange thing to say but in truth there is a person on the branch line to Drax. The prosecution have not challenged the facts we presented to you on oath about the consequences of burning coal at Drax. 180 human lives lost every year, species lost forever. There is a direct, unequivocal, proven link between the emissions of carbon dioxide at this power station and the appalling consequences of climate change. That many of those consequences impact on the poor of other nations or people in Hull we don't know should not in any way negate the reality of this suffering. We got on that train to stop those emissions, because all other methods in our democracy were failing. Just because we don't know the name of the person on the tracks or where they live or the exact time and day of their dying, does not in our view mean they are less worthy of protection.

We don't dispute that there's a law against obstructing trains. We don't dispute that obstructing trains is a crime and should continue to be a crime. We just argue that in this case, we should not be found guilty of a crime for trying to block this train on its way to Drax.

On Tuesday the prosecution argued that what we did was quite simply a crime, and as a result we should be found guilty. They were trying to suggest that if you find us not guilty, the whole world would fall apart. We argue that the more likely route to the whole world falling apart is if we continue burning coal in the enormous quantities that it is being burnt at Drax.

His honour may say that we have been telling you stories, that we are trying to introduce emotions into the trial to distort the evidence. But we have been telling you the facts. If those facts move you, that's because they are moving, and they are what moved us to do what we did.

We are happy to be judged by you, the jury.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to us.


Twenty-two activists, including my friend Jonathan Stevenson, stopped a coal train headed for Drax power station in North Yorkshire, hopped on and tipped out the coal.

Here's an article about the Drax trial from The Guardian. The jury are probably retiring today, hopefully haunted by carousels of suffragettes and Gandhi heads. Here's today's article and a Twitter feed.

At first the judge was being a wee bit Eichmanny, from the sounds of things, making dark hints re contempt of court, but he seems to have softened a bit and by now I sometimes imagine him as a lion. I hear (second-hand) the lawyers had to go because trying to run the defence the activists wanted might have got them disbarred. So the activists are defending themselves and us. They could get two years, I think. In the picture, Jonathan is the one sort of standing around.

If you would like to show solidarity with activists, click h - just kidding, go stop another coal train.

Monday, 29 June 2009

From "The Well-Beloved"

By Thomas Hardy.

You will be sorry to hear, Sir, that dear little Avice Caro, as we used to call her in her maiden days, is dead. She married her cousin, if you do mind, and went away from here for a good-few years, but was left a widow, and came back a twelvemonth ago; since when she faltered and faltered, and now she is gone.

She becomes an Inaccessible Ghost

By imperceptible and slow degrees the scene at the dinner-table receded into the background, behind the vivid presentment of Avice Caro, and the old, old scenes on Isle Vindilia which were inseparable from her personality. The dining-room was real no more, dissolving under the bold stony promontory and the incoming West Sea. The handsome machioness in geranium-red and diamonds, who was visible to him on his host's right hand opposite, became one of the glowing vermilion sunsets that he had watched so many times over Deadman's Bay, with the form of Avice in the foreground. Between his eyes and the judge who sat next to Nichola, with a chin so raw that he must have shaved every quarter of an hour during the day, intruded the face of Avice, as she had glanced at him in their last parting. The crannied features of the evergreen society lady, who, if she had been a few years older, would have been as old-fashioned as her daughter, shaped themselves to the dusty quarries of his and Avice's parents, down which he had clambered with Avice hundreds of times. The ivy trailing about the table-cloth, the lights in the tall candlesticks, and the bunches of flowers, were transmuted into the ivies of the cliff-built Castle, the tufts of seaweed, and the lighthouse on the isle. The salt airs of the ocean killed the smell of the viands, and instead of the clatter of voices came tho monologue of the tide off the Beal.

More than all, Nichola Pine-Avon lost the blooming radiance which she had latterly acquired; she became a woman of his acquaintance with no distinctive traits; she seemed to grow material, a superficies of flesh and bone merely, a person of lines and surfaces; she was a language in living cipher no more.

When the ladies had withdrawn it was just the same. The soul of Avice -- the only woman he had never loved of those who loved him -- surrounded him like a firmament. Art drew near to him in the person of the most distinguished portrait painters; but there was only one painter for Jocelyn -- his own memory. All that was eminent in European surgery addressed him in the person of that harmless and unassuming fogey whose hands had been inside the bodies of hundreds of living men; but the lily-white corpse of an obscure country-girl chilled the interest of discourse with the king of operators.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

From "Negative Dialectics"

The guilt of a life which purely as a fact will strangle other life, according to statistics that eke out an overwhelming number of killed with a minimal number of rescued, as if this were provided in the theory of probabilities -- this guilt is irreconcilable with living.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

From "It is time to move on"

By Malcolm Brinded.

I am aware that the settlement may – to some – suggest Shell is guilty and trying to escape justice. Some newspapers have leapt to that conclusion. But we felt we had to move on. A court hearing would have dragged us backwards, dug up old feuds and painful memories, not only for the plaintiffs but for many others who have been caught up in the violence.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sophie Robinson's very beautiful a has been published by Les Figues Press. It is a skinnybook for a warrior thincess. Don't cut your nails or you won't be able to lift it from the tabletop.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


By Marshall Sahlins.

Thomas Kuhn and others have wondered whether the social sciences have paradigms and paradigm shifts like the natural sciences. Nothing seems to get concluded because some say that the natural sciences don’t even have them, and others that in the social sciences you couldn’t tell a paradigm from a fad. Still, considering the successive eras of functional explanation of cultural forms—first, by their supposed effects in promoting social solidarity, then, by their economic utility, and lately, as modes of hegemonic power—there does seem to be something like a Kuhnian movement in the social sciences. Though there is at least one important contrast to the natural sciences.

In the social sciences, the pressure to shift from one theoretical regime to another, say from economic benefits to power effects, does not appear to follow from the piling up of anomalies in the waning paradigm, as it does in natural science. In the social sciences, paradigms are not outmoded because they explain less and less, but rather because they explain more and more—until, all too soon, they are explaining just about everything. There is an inflation effect in social science paradigms, which quickly cheapens them. The way that “power” explains everything from Vietnamese second person plural pronouns to Brazilian workers’ architectural bricolage, African Christianity or Japanese sumo wrestling. But then, if the paradigm begins to seem less and less attractive, it is not really for the standard logical or methodological reasons. It is not because in thus explaining everything, power explains nothing, or because differences are being attributed to similarities, or because contents are dissolved in their (presumed) effects. It’s because everything turns out to be the same: power.

Paradigms change in the social sciences because, their persuasiveness really being more political than empirical, they become commonplace universals. People get tired of them. They get bored. In fact power is already worn out. Borrrring! As the millennium turns over, the new eternal paradigm du jour is identity politics. The handwriting is on the wall: I read where fly-fishing for trout is a way the English bourgeoisie of the late nineteenth century developed a national identity. “In nineteenth century England, fishing, not less than war, was politics by other means,” writes anthropologist Richard Washabaugh in a book called Deep Trout. (Is this title a play on Clifford Geertz, so to speak, or on “Deep Throat”?) Well, the idea gets at least some credibility from the fact that fishing is indeed the most boring sport on television. Coming soon: the identity politics of bowling, X-games, women’s pocket billiards, and Nascar racing.

Monday, 1 June 2009

From "Aphorisms for my ex"

By Posie Rider.

Do you know that I read
your emails when you are
asleep? I think they are

You never introduced me to
your mother but I don’t think
she would have liked me.

I am working my fingers
into your scattered lines, I am
keeping myself busy now.

Today I called your house so
you would answer and so I
could check that you were in.
I hung up, like a serial killer.

I am prickled all over at the
thought of the moths in the blanket.

I am treating your smile like
an upturned dog. Restful.

What some people are like

Sunday, 31 May 2009

From the journals of Sir George Smart

They settled the manner at rehearsal as how it was to be sung, but when the time came, Madame Caradori-Allan made some deviations; this prompted Malibran to do the same, in which she displayed a most wonderful execution. During the demanded encore, [Maria] turned to me and said, "If I sing it again it will kill me". "Then do not," I replied. "Let me address the audience." "No," said she. "I will sing it again and I will annihilate her." She was taken ill with a fainting fit after the duet and carried into her room.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Season of Quite

By Roddy Lumsden.

With refreshments and some modesty and home-drawn maps,
the ladies of the parish are marshaling the plans in hand,
devising the occasions, in softest pencil: the Day of Hearsay,
Leeway Week, the Maybe Pageant, a hustings on the word
nearby. Half-promised rain roosts in some clouds a mile out,
gradual weather making gradual notes on the green, the well,
the monument, the mayor's yard where dogs purr on elastic.
Everything taken by the smooth handle then, or about to be,
hiatus sharp in humble fashion. A small boy spins one wheel
of an upturned bike, the pond rises, full of skimmed stones
on somehow days, not Spring, not Summer yet. Engagements
are announced in the Chronicle, a nine-yard putt falls short.
Dark cattle amble on the angles of Flat Field. The ladies close
their plotting books and fill pink teacups, there or thereabouts.

Friday, 29 May 2009

From "Marginalia to Theory and Praxis"

By Theodor Adorno.

The subject, thrown back upon itself, divided from its Other by an abyss, is supposedly incapable of action. Hamlet is as much the proto-history of the individual in its subjective reflection as it is the drama of the individual paralyzed into inaction by that reflection. In his process of self-exernalization toward what differs from him, the individual senses this discrepancy and is inhibited from completing the process. Only a little later the novel describes how the individual reacts to this situation incorrectly termed "alienation" -- as though the age before individualism enjoyed an intimacy, which nonetheless can hardly be experienced other than by individuated beings: according to Borchardt animals are "lonely communities" -- with pseudo-activity.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Can anyone help me remember what I saw or read in which a person, I think with a fear of heights, tries to kill himself or herself by repeatedly jumping out of a low window? I have a feeling it might be in Family Guy, or David Foster Wallace?

Via Passive-Agressive Notes


While I appreciate D’s enthusiasm for subjects dear to her, sometimes she talks too much about Zombies, and shows a lack of respect for me as her manager and an internationally published poet by suggesting I wear a Viking helmet.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

From "Property"

By Alaisdar Gray.

[...] The elder boy said they didn't know that the roadside was not public, also that their motorbikes and other things had been stolen.

"Not stolen. Impounded," said the man, "I had them removed last night to the police station. You can thank your lucky stars that I was kind enough to leave you the tent. So now dismantle it, collect your chattels from the station and clear out. I do not object, as a rule, to visitors who behave properly and drop no litter. I regard this --" he indicated the tent -- "as a form of litter. I have a friend, a very brave soldier who had similar trouble with a family of people like you. Well, he discovered their address, went with a friend to the municipal housing scheme where they lived and pitch a tent of his own in the middle of their back garden. They didn't like it one little tiny bit. Quite annoyed about it they were as a matter of fact.

The man turned a little and looked steadily
towards the loch, mountains, glens, rivers,
moors and islands that he regarded
(with the support of the police)
as his back garden.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

From "Blackstone's guide to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988"

By Gerald Dworkin, Richard D. Taylor.

In Cummins v Bond [1927] 1 Ch 167 a medium was held to be the author of a work which she claimed merely to have written down in a seance at the dictation of "some being no longer inhabiting this world, and who has been out of it for a length of time sufficient to justify the hope that he has no reasons for wishing to return to it". Eve J was clearly aware of a jurisdictional problem if he were to decide that the real author was the person "already domiciled on the other side of the inevitable river" but in any case he found that the medium had exercised sufficient skill, labour and effort to justify being treated as author. Her activities "obviously involved a great deal more than mere repetition" and encompassed the "gift of extremely rapid writing coupled with a peculiar ability to reproduce in archaic English matter communicated to her in some unknow tongue".

Monday, 25 May 2009

Apparently we can't be friends if I'm not as into Zac Effron or don't think Hannah Montana is as annoying as she does.

From "The Reed of God"

By Caryll Houselander.

By His own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent: He was absolutely helpless; He could go nowhere but where she chose to take Him; He could note speak; her breathing was His breath; His heart beat in the beating of her heart.

Today Christ is dependent upon men. In the Host He is literally put into a man's hands. A man must carry Him to the dying, must take Him into the prisons, workhouses, and hospitals, must carry Him in a tiny pyx over the heart onto the field of battle, must give Him to little children and "lay Him by" in His "leaflight" house of gold.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

From "The End of All Songs"

By Michael Moorcock.

He was content not to judge her mood but to share it. He laughed with her, springing up. He advanced. She awaited him. He stopped, when a few steps separated them. He was serious now, and smiling.

She fingered her neck. "There is more to literature than conversation, however. There are stories."

"We make our own lives into stories, at the End of Time. We have the means. Would you not do the same, if you could?"

"Society demands that we do not."

"Why so?"

"Perhaps because the stories would conflict, one with the other. There are so many of us -- there.'

"Here," he said, "there are but two."

"Our tenancy in this -- this Eden -- is tentative. Who knows when . . . ?"

Saturday, 23 May 2009

I have quite a lot of info about what people are up to at the moment. For example, Sarah is cheese-rolling with Gav and Helen True's going to see her mum and Wuzza's going to a wedding in a bit in Pinner Village Hall. Backchannel if you need more.

From "Negative Dialectics"

By Theodor Adorno.

The visa stamp of practice which we demand of all theory became a censor's placet. Yet whereas theory succumbed in the vaunted mixture, practice became nonconceptual, a piece of the politics it was supposed to lead out of; it became the prey of power.
Elizabeth James, author of Slurs, fists bunched with blurbs.

"You know Salt of course -- a poetry press with an innovative approach to being 'small', i.e.: Burgeon! Salt has a shameless gusto for all the dirty bits of publishing i.e. marketing hype, e-commerce, ratings, bottom lines etc., alongside a genuine informed enthusiasm for experimental writing and determination to bring it to a wide audience [...]"

The case continues.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

From "Crowd Safety Planning for Major Concert Events"

By Mick Upton.


Crowd surges are not the only problem that might be experienced. Cultural behaviour at rock concerts can be a major cause for concern. Moshing is an American term used to describe what seventies Punk Rock culture called slam dancing. Moshing is therefore a dance ritual during which people literally slam into each other, although it appears to be a violent action it is not intended to be. It can nevertheless result in the participants receiving cuts, bruises or more serious injuries such as broken bones. The act of moshing generally takes place in the "mosh pit". This term is used to describe the general area that moshing takes place and should not be confused with the area in front of stage known as the primary pit. A mosh pit can start spontaneously anywhere in the crowd and should therefore be regarded more as an activity and not an actual place. The term moshing is also often used in a broad sense now to refer to a number of other activities.

Crowd Surfing

Crowd Surfing is one of these activities, and it involves crowd members lifting an individual above the crowd so that the person can roll or swim their body over the heads of the crowd. Normally a surefer will move toward the stage with the intention of climing onto the stage to stage dive. People have been known to actually bring surfboards into a show for the purposes of crowd surfing. There have been numerous injuries recorded as a result of crowd surfing. These injuries have included neck and/or injuries to people that have been kicked in the head by the surfer, or spinal injuries caused as a result of the surfer falling, or being dropped onto the ground. There is an added danger in that a crowd collapse might then take place onto a fallen surfer causing an intolerable pressure load. There have been serious injuries reported as a result of crowd surfing. For example, Sara Jean Green wrote in the Seattle Times (2002) that the parents of 14-year-old Scott Stone reached an out of court settlement for permanent brain damage which it was claimed was the result of a crowd surfing incident in 1996. Green went on to claim that there had been 1,000 reported injuries from just 15 American concerts in 2001. In America there have also been allegations of sexual assault and even rape on female surfers who have been dragged down and stripped of their clothing by males in the crowd.

Stage Diving

Stage Diving is exactly what the term implies. It is the act of a performer or member of the audience diving from the stage into the crowd. The intention is then that the crowd will support that person above their heads while they crowd surf. Unfortunately there have been at least two fatal accidents due to stage diving. In 1994 a young man died at a club in New York as the result of what appears to have been a stage diving incident. It was alleged that a security man pushed the victim off of the stage, but the security denied the allegation and alleged that the victim was stage diving (Rogers et al 1996).

[For legal reasons, a sentence at the bottom of this page that appeared in earlier editions has been deleted.]


Pogoing is a seventies punk rock dance ritual, during which the crowd jumps up and down in unison, often giving gladiatorial salutes. The activity is still popular with a range of rock culture crowds. While this activity appears to be harmless, pogoing can present a problem at green field sites, particularly where there is a steep gradient toward the stage. After prolonged or heavy rain the field becomes very slippery and a mass of people all jumping up and down in unison can easily cause a dynamic surge similar to a landslide which might result in a crowd collapse.


Skanking is a Jamaican term originally used as a term for Reggae dance and then appropriated as a term for slam dancing, or as a prelude to crowd surfing. The term is now more likely to be used to describe a mosh pit activity where a circle forms within a crowd. The crowd then moves in a circular route while they continue to slam into each other. In some respects the circle resembles a North American Indian war dance, or in extreme cases, like a whirlpool. The size and duration of this rotating circle is dependent on the number of people drawn into it. Skanking has been known to cause a crowd collapse which, as has been previously stated, can lead to intolerable pressure loads being imposed on those unfortunate enough to be at the bottom of a pile of bodies [...]
Aw boo poor Salt, if you buy just one book now you will save them (they are from top left, Chris and Jen, flies). But which book is it? Definitely not Blade Pitch Control Unit or Vacation of A Lifetime or Gravity or Capital or The Damage or Effigies Against the Light or The Sense Record because I've done those and Salt is not saved. I also used to have Fig. I reckon it might be Terrain Seed Scarcity by Peter Larkin or The Grimoire of Grimalkin by Sascha Akhtar, or maybe I Capture The Cold Sore by Marianne Munk or Beaten by Chastisement by Mark Illis and Susan Wheeler or Theatre by Alison Croggon or Armor by Vincent de Souza or Portrait of the Artist as Some Numpties Killing a Rapist by Justin Katko or No Traveller Returns by Vahni Capildeo. I don't think it's Folklore by Tim Atkin, I don't think Tim Atkin would let them and it's probably not 101 Ways To Make Poems Sell by Chris Hamilton-Emery. Thinking about it it might be How to Gild a Lily by Luke Chivers or Restfulness Before Entering a Moor by Andrew Duncan or I'm Rotting You Remotely by Alan Halsey or Ars Arse by Chef Hilson also but that's just a guess.

"Saving Salt Publishing: Just One Book

As many of you will know, Jen and I have been struggling to keep Salt moving since June last year when the economic downturn began to affect our press. Our three year funding ends this year: we've £4,000 due from Arts Council England in a final payment, but cannot apply through Grants for the Arts for further funding for Salt's operations. Spring sales were down nearly 80% on the previous year, and despite April's much improved trading, the past twelve months has left us with a budget deficit of over £55,000. It's proving to be a very big hole and we're having to take some drastic measures to save our business.

Here's how you can help us to save Salt and all our work with hundreds of authors around the world.


1. Please buy just one book, right now. We don't mind from where, you can buy it from us or from Amazon, your local shop or megastore, online or offline. If you buy just one book now, you'll help to save Salt. Timing is absolutely everything here. We need cash now to stay afloat. If you love literature, help keep it alive. All it takes is just one book sale. Go to our online store and help us keep going.

2. Share this note on your profile. Tell your friends. If we can spread the word about our cash crisis, we can hopefully find more sales and save our literary publishing. Remember it's just one book, that's all it takes to save us. Please do it now.

With my best wishes to everyone
Salt Publishing"

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

From "Language Death"

By Nancy C. Dorian.

Where other forms of Gaelic are concerned, most ESG speakers report that they have great difficulty in making them out. This is especially true of women. A good many women had considerable exposure to other regional dialects while migrating around the coasts with the herring fishery. Typically they claim that they barely understood the Hebridean fisher girls, especially those from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, or even that they simply did not understand them at all:

Investigator: Were you speaking the Gaelic with the girls [at the gutting station]?
Brora bilingual: No, no, they were Stornoway girls, they were so hard to understand. They wouldn't understand us, and we weren't understanding them. They would say [in Gaelic], "What? What? What are you saying?" [1968; translated from the Gaelic.]

Another Brora woman claimed, less drastically, "If you'd catch the first word the Stornoway girls said, you could follow, but if you didn't get the first word, you're gone. You're just lost." Still another Brora woman reported that she was unable to understand [...] the Gaelic church services broadcast by the BBC [...]

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

From "The Accidental Philosophical Lexicon"

By Larry Laudan. (Original post).

Buechner Muchness Buccaneer
Feyerabend Considerably Imponderable Federated
Hintikka Antiknocks Skintight Intakes
Lakatos Krakatoa's Lactose
Nagel Bagel Angel Navel
Ockham Jackhammer
Schlick Schlock Schtick
Parmenides Disbarments Promenades
Jowett Towelette
Plotinus Guillotines
Sextus Empiricus Textures Sixties empiricism
Avenarius Aquariuses
Cassirer Brassiere
Dilthey Filthy Dilute
Feuerbach Paperback
Gadamer Daydreamer Cadaver
Horkheimer Alzheimer's
von Kleist Pleistocene
Meineke Neckerchief Menace
Meinong Tiptoeing
Natorp Vibrator
Radbruch Debauchery
von Schlegel Phlegmatic
Tugendhat Halogenated
Vaihinger Fingernails
Weininger Mudslinger
Anaximander Gerrymander
Anaximenes Proximateness
Anscombe Uncombed
Boutroux Monstrous
Brentano Repentance
Condillac Vacillation
Neurath Accurate
Schleiermacher Supermachine
Voegelin Hegelian
Wollaston Gladstone

Monday, 18 May 2009

Saturday, 16 May 2009

From "Dialectic of Enlightenment"

By Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.

The triumph over beauty is celebrated by humour – the Schadenfreude that every successful deprivation calls forth. There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh at. Laughter, whether conciliatory or terrible, always occurs when some fear passes. It indicates liberation either from physical danger or from the grip of logic. Conciliatory laughter is heard as the echo of an escape from power; the wrong kind overcomes fear by capitulating to the forces which are to be feared. It is the echo of power as something inescapable. Fun is a medicinal bath. The pleasure industry never fails to prescribe it. It makes laughter the instrument of the fraud practised on happiness. Moments of happiness are without laughter; only operettas and films portray sex to the accompaniment of resounding laughter. But Baudelaire is as devoid of humour as Hölderlin. In the false society laughter is a disease which has attacked happiness and is drawing it into its worthless totality. To laugh at something is always to deride it, and the life which, according to Bergson, in laughter breaks through the barrier, is actually an invading barbaric life, self-assertion prepared to parade its liberation from any scruple when the social occasion arises. Such a laughing audience is a parody of humanity. Its members are monads, all dedicated to the pleasure of being ready for anything at the expense of everyone else. Their harmony is a caricature of solidarity. What is fiendish about this false laughter is that it is a compelling parody of the best, which is conciliatory. Delight is austere: res severa verum gaudium. The monastic theory that not asceticism but the sexual act denotes the renunciation of attainable bliss receives negative confirmation in the gravity of the lover who with foreboding commits his life to the fleeting moment. In the culture industry, jovial denial takes the place of the pain found in ecstasy and in asceticism. The supreme law is that they shall not satisfy their desires at any price; they must laugh and be content with laughter. In every product of the culture industry, the permanent denial imposed by civilisation is once again unmistakably demonstrated and inflicted on its victims. To offer and to deprive them of something is one and the same. This is what happens in erotic films. Precisely because it must never take place, everything centres upon copulation. In films it is more strictly forbidden for an illegitimate relationship to be admitted without the parties being punished than for a millionaire’s future son-in-law to be active in the labour movement. In contrast to the liberal era, industrialised as well as popular culture may wax indignant at capitalism, but it cannot renounce the threat of castration. This is fundamental. It outlasts the organised acceptance of the uniformed seen in the films which are produced to that end, and in reality. What is decisive today is no longer puritanism, although it still asserts itself in the form of women’s organisations, but the necessity inherent in the system not to leave the customer alone, not for a moment to allow him any suspicion that resistance is possible.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Jonathan Stevenson's quotations!

Every year, Jonathan Stevenson shares with all you [...] Tea [...] Israel readers what they said stripped of context.

"I am sorry that you had a bad experience here in Kent and I hope that this will not be the case if you visit us in future."

"From what we've seen there are basically three groups of loons. Anti-capitalist loons who want universal communism, environmental extremists who have a litany of complaints, and anti-war folks who want to give peace a chance while bin Laden and his crew cut off people's heads"

"A tazer was fired at RampART. The gentleman ducked and it missed."

"This crisis was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of some people that are white, blue-eyed. Before the crisis they looked like they knew everything about economics, and they have demonstrated they know nothing about economics."

"For help at any time press 8"

"Tomorrow dawns a day when nothing is certain. And what could be more liberating than this after so many long years of certainty?"

"I don't believe too much in leadership. I believe more in good passing than a guy who jumps around with the hands in the air and plays the leader."

"Almost every day we go to the park"

"I'm not try'nna tell you nothing 'bout right and wrong/ it's a whisper and it's growing into a song"

"I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them."

"I don't have any specific proposals to make but I feel it would have been better if more of the people with PhDs had been shovelling some of the shit!"

"Greedy bankers had another losing night on the roulette tables yesterday as giant US investment firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Wall Street financiers demanded that the state bail out their losses."

"I have spoken to Kishwa and she said that no they don't have the right to come into the property when doing a bail check, they don't have the right to break your door down, and they don't have the right to arrest you for obstruction and DS Bull is a wanker."

"Oh, how I wish I was young again"