Friday, September 26, 2008

time maps

So thinking a lot about maps, which I love of course (who doesn't); but also about calendars and clocks, which are maps of time not space, and which I am obsessed with, maybe in bad way.

(A clock I guess is not so much a map as a GPS guidance system -- "you're HERE now; no wait now you're HERE; now HERE; look out, you're almost THERE" etc. God SHUT UP people must want to say to their GPS things. But I don't want to say that to my clock, I always look at it with gratitude and sometimes longing: make me not here any more, take me there, where it will be better.)

But a calendar lays it right out, where you can review it any time: where you've been, what you've come from or been launched out of or escaped; plus all the pleasures that await you. That's the part I like, the all the pleasures that await me. Am not much for reviewing the past.

It would probably be good for me to delete every appointment from my calendar, and take off all the lines from all the squares, and all the numbers and names of months. Just a long unravelling blankness for a map.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I hate omniscient narrators, I really do. It's always false, as boring as a false god w/beard, opinions, etc. The commandment against false gods is because they are BORING; not that that has stopped us. And we make stories boring when the narrator can blah blah on and on without a voice or point of view. Stories need a voice. I like the potential for lying and mistakes in a real voice.

(I say all this and I am sure there are about 8 million books I love with omniscient narrators. Will have to notice more and figure out how they work--I think mostly via intersubjectivity rather than real omniscience. Maybe.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

solved v resolved

The serious problems of life are never fully solved but some states can be resolved rhythmically.
- Roethke

a good rhythmic sentence too. That's what I need; more rhythm.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

okay this must be north

Choosing how to orient a map is a big moment--you commit yourself to one view of the world.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

rilke baby

I've been waiting (fruitlessly) for this new translation of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus to make it over from eng-land but nothing, it's been almost two years now, and I have given up. Checked it out at the PCL, since I cannot afford the cost, sorry I mean carbon footprint naturally, of shipping it across ocean.

The poet/translator is Don Paterson and it is so lovely (so far), like clear water, no irritating grit but gorgeously shifting shallows and depths. The third one has been on my mind lately and he does it beautifully (beginning from second stanza):

A song is not desire; so you taught.
Nor is it courtship; nor is it courtship's prize.
Song is being. Easy for a god.
But when are we? When will the Earth and stars

be squandered on us, on our living? Youth--
don't fool yourself that love unlocks this art;
for though love's voice might force your lips apart

you must forget those sudden songs. They'll end.
True singing is another kind of breath.
A breath of nothing. A sigh in a god. A wind.

Monday, September 8, 2008

performative words

In a college French class my professor happened to mention "performative verbs" -- verbs that do not merely describe but perform an action as they are spoken. "I solemnly swear," "I promise," etc.

So this has stuck with me ever since, and lately has connected with my thinking about maps, although I don't think I've sorted that our very well yet. (Are there performative maps? is maybe the question). In some traditions, including at least one Christian Gospel, the world was created by a word, the Logos.

And that made me think about sounds that are eggs or seeds. In Sanskrit there are syllables called seed sounds which I know little about but I think they are meant to affect you energetically rather than convey meaning. Are there other egg or seed sounds out there?

You know I can go on and on about this and use words like performative but what's cool is that it's magic spells; magic words.

Friday, September 5, 2008

radio play scene 1

Scene 1.

Phone ringing [maybe some specific tune]. Quite a few rings

Sorry, isn’t that your phone?

That is my phone.

Are you—-you’re not going to answer?

That’s one very strong possibility.

And you’re not going to – most cell phones have silent modes, I mean in case you didn’t know, where you can—

And I’m not going to silence it. I’m almost certainly not going to answer it, and more certainly, I’m not going to silence it.

Do you mind if I ask why? Because it’s really pretty irritating to—

Because I might answer it. I might answer it. That possibility also remains open. And it can’t remain open if I can’t hear it. I can no longer hang balanced in perfect anguish between those two possibilities. If I turn the ringer off.

(pause. phone continue to ring)

Why isn’t your voicemail picking up?

I cancelled the voicemail.

So it could just ring forever.

It could.


Whoever it is, they really seem to want to reach you.

I agree.

What if it’s something important. What if it’s, it could be something like, it could be your mother, she’s sick, she might have fallen, she could barely reach the phone in the first place, and now she’s holding it to her ear, her last hope –

My mother died a year ago.

Oh. Well. Sorry.

It’s okay. (beat) It’s been a long year.

(Phone ringing)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

figure and ground

I was thinking about this idea a lot a year or two ago because I had just read Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees and was excited. I want to think about it more so I am sticking it here, in the world's most random blog. In the book, Lawrence Weschler quotes the painter Robert Irwin, who writes about how you separate the line of a painting from the rod on the wall it's hanging from:

Well, of course you do it on a scale of values. In other words, the line in the center has some kind of compounded meaning which gives it the emphasis to be focused on. Whereas the rod on the wall, of course, is very meaningless. So therefore, you can, in a sense just not see it . . . So what we're really talkingabout in this whole process is not anything to do with the painting itself, but rather something to do with this thing of value . . .

And figure and ground is a whole system of that kind of focus. You've got a way of looking at the world . . . In this case, you simply eliminate those rods by a deductive process of meaning. They're meaningless, so therefore they simply fall out of view.

But now, when you have a construct like that, that's how you go through the world. In other words, you don't just do it when you're looking at painting. We're talking about a mental construct to which the whole civilization has deeply committed itself.

There's more and it's excellent but I have been typing all day. But he talks about how cubism flattened figure and ground--"the marriage of figure and ground." And he talks about how he (Irwin) is doing work that marries painting to the environment: "Suddenly it had to deal with the environment around it as being equal to the figure and having as much meaning."

This is one of those ideas that is both beautifully obvious but also won't stop unfolding. I will even set aside what it means to the way we watch political conventions, or walk around the world for hell's sake. Just confining it to art for a moment it is still slightly thrilling (and much more manageable).

What constitutes figure and ground in theater, and how can they be married? (Married=flattened is funny.)