Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Nobody is ever missing. MIA/war. November 9th.


There sat down, once, a thing on Henry's heart

só heavy, if he had a hundred years

& more, & weeping, sleepless, in all them time

Henry could not make good.

Starts again always in Henry's ears

the little cough somewhere, an odour, a chime.


And there is another thing he has in mind

like a grave Sienese face a thousand years

would fail to blur the still profiled reproach of.  Ghastly,

with open eyes, he attends, blind.

All the bells say: too late.  This is not for tears;



But never did Henry, as he thought he did,

end anyone and hacks her body up

and hide the pieces, where they may be found.

He knows: he went over everyone, & nobody's missing.

Often he reckons, in the dawn, them up.

Nobody is ever missing.


 image: The Passenger, Cormac McCarthy

poem: Dream Song 29, John Berryman

Thursday, November 3, 2022

transits of affect

 myth vs memory

for Peter: November 3

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."


“Once you are real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”





The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Día de los Muertos

  1. The dead surround the living. The living are the core of the dead. In this core are the dimensions of time and space. What surrounds the core is timelessness.

  2. Between the core and its surroundings there are exchanges, which are not usually clear. All religions have been concerned with making them clearer. The credibility of religion depends upon the clarity of certain unusual exchanges. The mystifications of religion are the result of trying to produce such exchanges systematically.

  3. The rarity of clear exchange is due to the rarity of what can cross intact the frontier between timelessness and time.

  4. To see the dead as the individuals they once were tends to obscure their nature. Try to consider the living as we might assume the dead to do: collectively. The collective would accrue not only across space but also throughout time. It would include all those who had ever lived. And so we would also be thinking of the dead. The living reduce the dead to those who have lived, yet the dead already include the living in their own great collective.

  5. The dead inhabit a timeless moment of construction continually rebegun. The construction is the state of the universe at any instant.

  6. According to their memory of life, the dead know the moment of construction as, also, a moment of collapse. Having lived, the dead can never be inert.

  7. If the dead live in a timeless moment, how can they have a memory? They remember no more than being thrown into time, as does everything which existed or exists.

  8. The difference between the dead and the unborn is that the dead have this memory. As the number of dead increases, the memory enlarges.

  9. The memory of the dead existing in timelessness may be thought of as a form of imagination concerning the possible. This imagination is close to (resides in) God, but I do not know how.

  10. In the world of the living there is an equivalent but contrary phenomenon. The living sometimes experience timelessness, as revealed in sleep, ecstasy, instants of extreme danger, orgasm, and perhaps in the experience of dying itself. During these instants the living imagination covers the entire field of experience and overruns the contours of the individual life or death. It touches the waiting imagination of the dead.

  11. What is the relation of the dead to what has not yet happened, to the future? All the future is the construction in which their “imagination” is engaged.

  12. How do the living lie with the dead? Until the dehumanization of society by capitalism, all the living awaited the experience of the dead. It was their ultimate future. By themselves the living were incomplete. Thus living and dead were interdependent. Always. Only a uniquely modern form of egotism has broken this interdependence. With disastrous results for the living, who now think of the dead as eliminated.


On the Economy of the Dead, John Berger

image: Catherine Hessling, La fille de l’eau, Jean Renoir, 1924.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

"And you will dream of me." for Peter, October 20,2020


Guy does not rise into heaven after being consumed by the bear. Instead Sendak writes:

Guy sank upon a couch of flowers

In an ice-ribbed underworld

Awash in blossoming gold from a new sun

Tumbling out dark long-ago clouds,

In caverns and corridors paved with painted petals

Wound round a wild cherry tree dusted pink.

and for 'the brothers':

And Jack slept safe
Enfolded in his brother’s arms
And Guy whispered ‘Good night
And you will dream of me.’

I hear no one like him...

title, image

Maurice Sendak, My Brother’s Book

*New York Times

Monday, October 10, 2022

a hole in the shape of a heart

  A child of, say, six knows you’re not the shape 

she’s learned to make by drawing half along a fold,
cutting, then opening. Where do you open?
Where do you carry your dead? There’s no locket
for that—hinged, hanging on a chain that greens
your throat. And the dead inside you, don’t you
hear them breathing? You must have a hole
they can press their gray lips to. If you open—
when you open—will we find them folded inside?
In what shape? I mean
what cut shape is made
whole by opening
? I mean besides the heart.

image: Jim Dine

text: Maggie Smith, Heart, Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017)

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

they'll rouse the country for him as the Great Liberator (and meanwhile Big Business will just wink and sit tight!)




The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his "ideas" almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store. Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.”

  “and they'll all be convinced that, even if our Buzzy maybe has got a few faults, he's on the side of the plain people, and against all the tight old political machines, and they'll rouse the country for him as the Great Liberator (and meanwhile Big Business will just wink and sit tight!)"

He had every prejudice and aspiration of every American Common Man. He believed in the desirability and therefore the sanctity of thick buckwheat cakes with adulterated maple syrup, in rubber trays for the ice cubes in his electric refrigerator,[...] in being chummy with all waitresses at all junction lunch rooms, [...] and the superiority of anyone who possessed a million dollars. 

He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an “aching lover, and in
between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts—figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect. 

 ― Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

the historic victory for white life


“Legislating reproductive rights remains a hallmark of authoritarian and fascist governments.”

By 1869, the Civil War was over. Black people were briefly enfranchised until Jim Crow took back their rights. White women pushed hard for suffrage and access to the professions, including medicine. They loudly asserted the right to “voluntary motherhood.” The doctors resisted. They lobbied legislatures to ban abortion as a dangerous procedure and a moral vice. Horatio Storer, head of Physicians Against Abortion repeatedly worried about changing demographics. What if Anglo-Saxons lost their political power? He wondered aloud whether the Western territories would “be filled with our own children or those of aliens.”

The music should sound familiar. “I want to thank you,” a Republican lawmaker, Mary E. Miller, said, addressing Donald Trump at a rally last Saturday, “for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.”

 image: MOMA

Racism, Patriarchy, and Power: Siri Hustvedt on the Toxic Thinking Behind the Supreme Court’s Destruction of Abortion Rights

Monday, July 4, 2022





image: poster at a demonstration

Sunday, July 3, 2022

As soon as our pro‐lifers figure out they can have a tambourine, it’s over.



None of the doctors, nurses, or specialists ever breathed a word about abortion. Because twenty‐six weeks was already too late? Because it was Ohio, and the governor’s pen was constantly hovering over terrible new legislation? Because the hospital was Catholic, and in the lobby there was a statue of Jesus holding a farm animal? They never exactly knew.

It was anti‐abortion singing, led by a woman in a long, cobwebby skirt, and a man in a white collar was standing next to her with a tambourine. Behind them were two ginger- haired, freckled young men with Down syndrome, embracing each other with both arms and their cheeks pressed close.

Oh, my God, she had thought back then. As soon as our pro‐lifers figure out they can have a tambourine, it’s over.

 excerpts:*Patricia Lockwood, The Winged Thing - The New Yorker

** Hundreds of copies of the LA-based guerrilla poster artist Robbie Conal’s latest work, “Supreme Injustices,” were pasted up from Venice to Los Feliz.

image here: Robbie Conal

Saturday, July 2, 2022

What is freedom?


The First Amendment is an important one.

I agree. It says that people are free to assemble, and if their assembly is a threat to powerful people who cause harm, you get to spray them with tear gas and drive your car into them.

We must do everything to protect women.
        Absolutely, and that’s—wait, no. No, we don’t.

What are some synonyms for freedom?
        “Independence,” “autonomy,” and “shut up, stop crying, and do what you are told."                 


Image and text from McSweeney's: Freedom 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

This is hardly a time, then, for traditional solutions. Our national policies are going to have to change drastically, and fast.


This is hardly a time, then, for traditional solutions. Our national policies are going to have to change drastically, and fast. We are going to require torrential shifts of wealth and power. We will need ingenious new forms of political action to represent the wants of the hitherto unrepresented at home and abroad (several billion people in the world are taxed with our power or our presence, but with no representation in our councils).

For this crisis of our time, the slow workings of American reform, the limitations on protest and disobedience and innovation set by liberals like Justice Fortas, are simply not adequate. We need devices which are powerful but restrained, explosive but controlled: to resist the government’s actions against the lives and liberties of its citizens; to pressure, even to shock the government into change; to organize people to replace the holders of power, as one round in that continuing cycle of political renewal which alone can prevent tyranny.

We cannot have a new politics for the citizen with an old approach to law. The demands of our time will not be met by the narrow approach to civil disobedience suggested by Mr. Fortas. We are tempted to follow his advice because the Supreme Court has been in many ways the most adaptable of our three branches of government. But we should keep in mind that the Court is still a branch of government, and that in the never-ending contest between authority and liberty that goes on in every society, the agencies of government, at their best, are still on the side of authority…

Howard Zinn: In Defense of Civil Disobedience

Monday, June 27, 2022

How much of our science and philosophy has been colored by the justifications of shitty men?


All of the authors were men, and I was surprised by how often they acknowledged the deeply personal motivations that led them to their preferred theories of mind. Sheila Heti

Men make these laws,” she told her mother. “And they also don’t know where a girl pees from.” Patricia Lockwood

Everything had been decided by a sky in long black judge robes, and she floated as the head at the top of it and saw everything, everything, backward, backward, and turned away in fright from her own bright day.”





Thursday, June 23, 2022

a second beating heart





*title, text from: “Headfirst” from Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong, Copyright 2016. Published by Copper Canyon Press.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

My Grief, give me your hand; come this way.


Erica Green, "In the Thick Of It" (2022), knotted fibers, sewing pins, clay, wax, paint (all images courtesy Wes Magyar, Union Works Gallery and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art) 

We Need to Stay Heartbroken About This

"[...] make our feckless leaders taste our hot salt tears and hear our wails of pain. We need to make them feel our grief."



text: Margaret Renkle, NY Times

image: here


Recueillement (Meditation) by Charles Baudelaire

Monday, May 9, 2022

Nothing exists except an endless present



More than 1,500 book bans have been instituted in US school districts in the last nine months, a study has found, part of a rightwing censorship effort described as “unparalleled in its intensity”.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”**

 “Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory... In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man's freedom.”

 Fire is bright and fire is clean.”****

* The Guardian

**  1984, George Orwell

*** Franklin D. Roosevelt

 ****Ray Bradbury

image: Holland House Library September, 1940: 

The photograph provides an image of the fetishization of the text, or document, of the ways in which history attaches itself, not to the social disturbances and crises surrounding it on all sides, but to the ruins of the past, and even more so, to the orderly archive of the narratives of those ruins. In that austere repository of the bound volumes of fabula and historia -- the library -- the scholar seeks the world of lived human experience but encounters instead one of its chief symptoms -- writing. link

see also, Eduardo Cadava, The Lapsus Imaginis':The Image in Ruin

Paper Graveyeards 

Friday, May 6, 2022

pretending to be even more stupid than nature has made them

 One of my teachers at Columbia was Joseph Brodsky...and he said 'look,' he said, 'you Americans, you are so naïve. You think evil is going to come into your houses wearing big black boots. It doesn’t come like that. Look at the language. It begins in the language." - Marie Howe

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature has made them.

Bertrand Russell : here

Thursday, May 5, 2022

the heart, in those days, was small, and hard, and full of meanness


We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

image: from a poster at an anti-Trump demonstration, c.2018

text: Mary Oliver, From Devotions 

Read one newspaper daily (the morning edition
is the best
for by evening you know that you at least
have lived through another day)
and let the disasters, the unbelievable
yet approved decisions,
soak in.

I don't need to name the countries,
ours is among them.

What keeps us from falling down, our faces
to the ground; ashamed, ashamed?

 from Whiskey River: 

- Mary Oliver
A Thousand Mornings

Tuesday, April 19, 2022



Photographing Hell

"I’m getting tired of those endless disclaimers — like the one at the top of this essay — that say, “Warning: Graphic Material.” The best photographs of war might make us want to look away. It’s imperative that we do not."

Mikhail Zygar, the Russian journalist and author, wrote, “If one can’t write poetry after Auschwitz, then what can one say after Bucha?” 


Iraq, Russia,WW II

New York Times: David Hume Kennerly won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 1972 for his pictures of the Vietnam War taken the prior year. He was also President Gerald R. Ford’s chief White House photographer. He is on the board of advisers of the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation.