I began the day wandering the streets of the small city where I lived in pursuit of two variables (acts and location) that belonged to the same expression (“acts of location”) but mysteriously so. I was looking for an event (in the world) that would index the moment the expression came into being, such that when one said “acts of location” sound or sight would confirm it. Moreover—I thought as I meandered—the event needed to occur between my body and the city. That is, I wanted to express, within the object world, a series of “acts of location” that needed only the body (and the world) in that moment of expression. Yet, I also wanted to find the variables of the expression as independent facts in the world, and, between them, to recognize some form of visible scarring that would indicate, not only that I’d found those facts, but their interrelation as well. The scarring would act like a body (though not mine) which one approached with a word that functioned like a name but didn’t have to be the name that necessarily belonged to that body but could be a name that the body put on for a time then took off to hand back to one. It needed to be a name that could be worn by most bodies, because the idea was that you’d find scarring everywhere, between every gesture and the space that manifested around it. I was trying to see location like I saw wind blowing the small branches of city trees. I tried to have it sync up with the incessant sparrowing I heard. I wanted location to be ordinary and for acts to be countable. However, I did not want “acts” to be sitting on top of “location” in such a way that one was metaphysically indisposed, having to pull the two apart as I was now doing. There had to be a pre-space, before the expression, where they were adjoined but not merged. An act was everything and location was everywhere, which made the whole thing hard to break down, but when you said “acts of location,” you didn’t think all possible things at once. Rather, you narrowed in on a feeling, a specific event that made a boundary in time. I was trying to walk through the city with this unfolding. I began northeasterly with pieces of paper on which I’d scribbled words like “houses” and “bird” and “cinema,” and carried those pieces to sites I thought of as “church,” “bus station,” and “art gallery,” leaving each piece in some kind of correspondence. I lay “houses” within “church” and pulled out my recorder. I hid “bird” behind a trash barrel at the “bus station,” then got on a bus. Somebody asked me what I was doing when I began making new slips for “acts” on the bus. I tore the paper with ceremony and hunkered down to make the folds. A person tried to grab one, but I retained it at the same time that I put “cinema” in his pocket. I thought he might fall to the floor and allow his face to open. I thought he might do something devotional. But, instead he stared and did not blink. You couldn’t understand it if you couldn’t ask about it and you couldn’t ask about it unless you revealed the “act” in his pocket. I walked into the “art gallery.” The ceramicist had her nests on the wall. They already had pieces of paper coming out of them, so there was no place to put my words. I still had “acts” to pass out, more than the “houses,” “bird,” and “cinema” of several hours ago. I had “fold”: I wanted fold to be an act of location and I wanted everybody to have a nook. Inside the nook, I felt, we could understand something that had always eluded us. We would know enclosure. But, that would be “place,” and place was not precisely location. I let the thought go. I grabbed something that was a hand and, also, another idea about “acts,” how acts are sometimes like “pocket notes” that you use to process an experience or work of art, how you might hang nests on a wall and nest in each of them fragments of a manuscript and let pieces of that book fall to the floor, such that within that sequence would be seven acts and seven pocket notes. However, though “the floor” could be argued as location, a fragment falling to it was not the “acts of location” we were looking for. The ceramicist wanted tequila before her opening. We didn’t know if going next door to drink it was making new location or just extending the old one. We didn’t know when our tequilas stopped belonging to the name on the bottle from which they were poured and became parts of the “bird” we uttered during our sips. There were always extra folds of birds of paper and you could move your finger along the length of them and have witnesses, and do this for minutes at a time never having to explain what you were doing nor the desired effect, because it was clear that these folds were the scarring that made people feel safe in public.
I’d been thinking, in the wake of being forbidden to partake of cinnamon and its chemical components, about the elliptical world of REM’s video and how—with all-over roving visibility fishing for & panning past all miniaturized existential horrors—it resembles the flash-forum of affective noise in which we “live” a.k.a. broadcast, & which is typified by Facebook:
Then got to thinking how in formal terms, one desires to make writing that reads like this: a spreading, multidirectional, obsessive field, in which zooming regress and encroachment are possible upon each divisive element: in twenty seconds of shooting, an infinity:
And then landed in the city of ravaged, souped-up eternality. Here are 16 outtakes from its Fall of 2010.
Unakin to the dogged determination of research leading in obedient step to professionalization, the navigation of cities and the production of poetry will always repay the errant seekings of curiosity off the Corso: look further, a second and a third time, for patterns, stances.
Especially in Rome….
“Understanding is a literal idea based on a geometrical notion of congruence, and tuning is a notion of a negotiated concord or agreement based on vernacular physical actions with visible outcomes like walking together….” —David Antin, A Conversation with David Antin, a dialogue conducted through electronic mail with Charles Bernstein
Rome, governance fabric punctured by synesthesia of historical stoppages, Bulb after Bulb. Disorientation of the day’s ratio that resists being placed definitively within or without the person.
In talk it is shared—tamed? The source text of translation is a magnet to which one must draw near enough to be pulled.
The city will be that magnet for each of us. Perhaps between each of us as well.
Wonders—after Chicago—how a city of rises and downslopes, pitches and edges pulls, also halts thought differently. Pulls hours otherwise. In the body, for starters.
To walk in a culture where a request for coordinates of a decent slice is a topic not for discussion but accompaniment, digression, & the inevitable co-losing of ways, as it was always only an experiment in sociability as opposed to expertise, never restricted either to an isolated age. Rubbing off: an outing to the fountain for private arias eking from its mouth whenever the buses and cars, between lights, abate; & taking the road, instead, of shapely wall that from bird’s eye perspective baroquely inclines otherwise.
Passion’s all in the curving away. In tandem, tuned to not imposed.
To transfer this process to allotments of language—& feel, of a sudden, compassion for the would-be geometers of the twentieth century, with their grids, their cubes and their squares!
Or why I had to make amends with the baroque: stone carved several & a half centuries ago for colloquy with this very cloud, vagula, blandula.
OVERSEAS OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Thinking tremolio: premodern conception of the mind as a substance, a vapor, which can take direct effect on the world.
That was philosophy as cognized in the 15th century, not a sheaf of writings but a way of being in the world. Fanciful following up: love of—love in?—knowledge. Tiny notebooks force one to redact:
I thank, therefore I swum.
I thunk, therefore I swam.
As a cognitive construct, a field of play, distinction coming down to white on white on white in its more or less vulnerable shades, pinkening, even in the unforeseeable eyes that have arrived to you by paths most angularly destined, magnetic. As an architecture, carefully quartered crown of bloodlike sweet garden food, roof low enough to touch above the aerosol histories and communiques, as after battle our needing above all to swim together in resources, in the grey quarter’s neighborly love for Pierpa’, free ices in peripheral alleys, basements resalvaged, post-cancerous courage, pulled. Fenestration open again like even the thin Roman bricks signifying human skin entrusted to a countervailing vita passeggera—and mirroring once again for revision the uncrowded self, the narrative loosed because longing to be tendered, pooling.
AN ARGUMENT AGAINST SPECIALIZATION
Al rovescio, as in a beginning. Afloat in a fresh lexicon the pale impulse to trace an anniversary (“turning”) for the initial tendering between of each term, coadamic & brave, pale rose as the fall that blooms against this wall, enamorous.
“Such a vertiginous multiplicity of historical lines of sight, through which entire worlds of concepts are constructed on the basis of few and scanty expressions, is further multiplied and rendered ambiguous by the exact uncertainty of philological inquiry, which seeks in vain scientifically to dominate material that is floating, open to question—a field, that is, where the evanescence of dead stuff sucks vigor from every proof.”
[“Tale molteplicità vertiginosa di visuali storiche, per cui interi mondi di concetti si costruiscono sull’appoggio di poche e scarne espressioni, è ancora moltiplicata e resa ambigua dall’incertezza propria dell’indagine filologica, che tenta invano di dominare scientificamente un materiale fluttuante, opinabile, un campo cioè dove l’evanescenza di cose morte toglie vigore ad ogni dimostrazione.”]
Spectacular tissue of sky shift from one garden brink to the next, cypressed. Plate after plate of variegating, archivebreaking deliciousness. Mental polaroids of a zillion preciousnesses of mutual unearthing scattered and released. So as to taste, to breathe. This near year; these heated, climatized, material pixels, vaporizable.
“Peripatetic historicism,” the philosopher/philologist/historian called it in his learned book. A route, not reliquary, to remembrance. The Italians being light years ahead of North America on memory, liminal and enfleshed.
Rome’s baroque colloquy with the void well highlit by current luna plus lumière (with the Tower of the City of Lights, notes J, echoed proleptically in the splayed legs of Bernini’s Navona fountain base [or at least that’s how my rococo makes retrospective prose of it: echoey prolepsis]) furnishes a delectable turning of corners, a delectable all-over score, still going forward, of increasing corner negotiations and curls toward the blank before, tuning.
“ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE & PARKING”
Contradictions or inevitabilities of development? In a city where the disparatest basements meet ancora & ancora.
Sidling through throngs of the flea market behind the 17th-century Janiculum walls in search of socks, mesh of all languages, of the salvaged objects of distances barely imaginable, obliging imagining, hearkening back to ingenuities of the moment before conspicuous consumption, and soundtrack of home for a rummager: idiom of street sales—
MANICOMIO 3 EURO
MADHOUSE 3 EUROS
IO MI RIFIUTO: PORTA PORTESE: ROBBA ORIGINALE
I REFUSE [I RENDER MYSELF REFUSE]: PORTESE PORTAL: ORIGINAL STUFFF
—accompanied by ninnanannalike calls in all possible accents, pulse of the day’s sales piercing, ecstatic in solicitation, satisfaction, memory of intermittent dependence on this, unflagging.
The death of the street, the silence of street song—gregarious lyric—reconjures wistful documentaries of the last century: a Sicilian sulfur miners’ song accompanied by thoughtscatterer, reperformed with a difference after the 1954 Lomax/Carpitella recording 50 years later:
And thanks to a commenter, the lyrics, which arrive at my understanding filtered by fifty percent through a dialect of Caltanissetta, dancing in this intermittence around forgetting—or literally, “disrecording.”
(Of one’s life itself, & family, fatherland, friends, the saints. Of everything but you.)
Mi scuordu, mi scurdà, scurdatu sugnu,
mi scuordu di la stessa vita mia.
Mi scurdavu lu bbeni di ma mamma,
era cchiù dduci, cchiù mègliu di tia.
Mi scurdavu lu bbeni di ma patri,
passa lu mari tri bboti pi mmia.
Mi scurdavu l’amici poi a me frati,
di li santi mi scuordu e no di tia.
& in English:
I forget, I forgot, I’ve forgotten (I’m forgotten),
I forget my very life.
Forgotten the goodnesses of my mother,
she was sweeter, better than you.
Forgotten the goodnesses of my father,
he crossed the sea three times for me.
Forgotten were my friends then kin;
The saints I forget and not you.
But the lines should not be broken thus; listening you will hear them otherwise. The act of forgetting as an act of language broken otherwise.
“Scacciapensieri”=”Jawharp,” or “Jew’s harp,” “Ozark harp”: literally, “thoughtdispeller.”
“Mi porti qualcosa di antico.”
Unconsciously and not through appearance, but through the voice? Lidia, in conversation to the soundtrack of noxious tremors in an out-of-order Vespa on the tram avenue, following discussions of “anxious futurism,” in reverse.
Encounter with the tall, unmarked and unXrayable cadaver next door from the 4th or 5th century AD wrapped in 800 pounds of lead burrito-style (probably for economic reasons—having no money for marble, nor for a lid, Gianni explains) providing the perfect sunkenness toward the end of daylight savings and the raising of hell by compound kids: 800 pounds of toil toward a future of total anonymity and stupefaction by one’s heirs: the hopeful holding on to dawn despite the weight of impending winter yet another lesson in presence, while the craving for extensions of summer & an apprehendable future continues to lace the days.
Is it possible to be bearer of what one’s balked at, studied inassimilably, in the absence of all design?
En route to hear actors vocalize traduced Homers and Bibles (progeny of Vico) in a painted theater off the Via del Paradiso (“c’è solo la via; non c’è il paradiso,” reports a waiter whom we’ve asked for help from a nearby stoop), strapieno: spectacular flock ruckus, uploaded in its archive of silence.
To define xenoglossia: the 12th-century Cupola of the Pentecost in St. Mark’s Basilica, abbagliante, dazzling, in the visual correlative of linguistic stupor, hemmed with coupled men and boys emanating from the holy spirit as silent murmurers of every language of earth at once as the Venetians knew it: Parthi, Medi, Elamitae, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontum, Asiatici, Phrygiam, Pamphiliam, Aegiptum, Libiam, Romani, Judei, Cretes, Arabes. A geography more nuanced in dissolution and union than that of Barbarians, Saracens, Moors, the vocabulary of totalitarian center and other, of seized “diritto”—“right.”
Che cosa sono le nuvole?/What are clouds?, a short from Capriccio all’italiana: Pasolini restages Othello as a puppet-world inside of a puppet-world which begins a riot among audience members, after which the murdered protagonist-puppets, Totò as Iago and Ninetto Davoli as the Moor in blackface, end up in a garbage dump where they discover the clouds.
What’s the truth? asks the Moor before the denouement; Iago bids him to listen to what’s in his head. “Sì sì, c’è qualcosa!” (“Yes, yes, there’s something there!”), Othello exclaims with that naïvete one finds only in Pasolini’s cherubic man-boys before Iago tells him shhh, not to name it, lest it dissolve.
Obsessive retellings of Babel & Pentecost in the sixteenth century: soundtrack of confusion to awakenings of the public sphere.
THE BOOK OF VERTIGO
According to Trajan: sublimity of illegible legibility or legible illegibility as imperial totem, beyond mortal or plebeian sights, craning their little necks against the blaze Rome makes, and the manic craftsmanship and centuries of unsung scholarship that have been vacuumed into its glintful spiral.
Parallel to the high Gothic devotional, to the internet as military strategy?
In which Roman light-in-hiding is repackaged and redistributed along the brinks of the objectively discernible as in some liminally representational yet general—yowl the dogs far off—allegory of opening.
WALL, FLORAL (FOR W.B.Y.)
Slapdashery in duration:
From inside the Aurelian walls, at the intersection where the Portal S. Sebastian gives onto the Antique Appian Way,
site of the private pied-à-terre, designed by the brilliant & tenaciously Fascist architect Luigi Moretti, 1940-43, of to-be-murdered Ardito Ettore Muti, Gim dagli occhi verdi, “the expression of Superhuman values, an impetus without weight, an offer without measure, a fistful of incense over ember, the scent of a pure soul” (sed Gabriele D’Annunzio), lined with watercolour lionskins, mosaics, decked out with she-wolf cage, et al.
From inside the purely psychological massive Aurelian walls that encroach upon the site of writing, 5 years’ slapdashery in the making, 271-275, a sixth built of prestanding monuments that were far better wrought—Juthungi and Vandals and pissed-off mint workers having made the Empire tender: the state of vulnerability taking monumental form.
From inside the fifth-century restorations and the sentry passages, museal, a cool eye castable on Smart cars flowing below through the arrow slits less encroached, out toward Mastroianni’s villa, or these duration capsules, indifferent, of floral Erlebnis.
Winter even here, where the clarity of drier skies brings with it the general foreshortening and scratching at form so we can locate stricter historical trajectories in the panorama, Hadrianic, Jesuit here, 19th-century bureaucratic there, as restorers sprinkle the march of mustached Garibaldini busts with bleach at dusk, without digression from each once-illustrious story vis-à-vis the swoon of soft light.
Bubbles in the panorama park: and the anxiety of perched consciousness that here we are living in yet another, of an order of months: watching again the admittedly decent adaptation of The Wings of the Dove, with its commercial filling in, opaque, of the contours of James’s every last floating it “swaying a little aloft as one of the objects in her poised basket”—as from Milly Theale’s perch in the Alps—while the days honeyed in costlessness at the end of gilding melt, prone in programming to pop mortally as the years of splendid daigomi, giant appliance trash lacking only remote control in some central Japan of the ‘90s Englished in optimism by government fund:
and the optimism of reassurance that only what is priceless can be cobbled, collective, of the immolated bubble which errs from every marble guarantee of the eternal.
for Marianne Morris
When the state’s insufficiency cannot secure the good life.
When the state is unnatural and offers no perfection.
When home to dumb animals and gods,
interstate flies inscribe the orbit like irredeemable cargo.
The gods build houses in each district
but they can have houses here and there, high up
like eagles and low, moles. The gods accrue nature
around their houses like mantles, or padding.
This is polishing security. A digital garrison.
They put clips in their ears, their cars go fast
up the hills into the trees as the suspense burns.
They are in the same league as leopards
The gods live without each other, like wild animals.
Sufficiency is only perfect in the moment of the state.
A spoiled hand is no longer a hand
but dinner, the hermit obscene before his rocks and papers.
The state alone can be alone
without horror or confusion. Zoo tray
full of grubs and a rattler among
shows us appetite defying
conglomeration at the level of simple
and complex structures. He sucked the wound
the way they do on tv and got shot
in his teeth for common interest.
The state contains our diversity of needs
like a slipper, like a delphic knife.
In the produce aisle insufficiency gleams
a wax skin must be dusted with water.
• Wheat growing at the police station, brassica
• on the railway cuttings, an archaism.
• Hogmeat and corn bread, buried hams,
• hard tack and middlin’ meat. Only in extreme democracies
• are workmen participants: they speak with their mouths.
Insomniacs slip through the gym floor, rolled
a ball of rice, it’s all in the prefect’s letter.
Steady victuals. Sufficiency is a cold perfection.
A farmer gardened with rosacea
is beyond redemption
as he is beyond the Ludgate or the boated occipital.
The marketplace is the divine scene.
A thin girl smiles thinly at a thin boy’s
thin excuse to touch her. Their confederation
is neglectful and will come again
and again until the state is made,
bursting out like a star from a welter.
First get a house and a wife and an ox to draw
and the judiciary follows, cornfed in its balloon robes.
The house is the original scene.
I’m going to put you in my pocket,
which means to sell you.
80s woman unclips a large gold earring
to answer the phone. She is only a chatterbox,
less discrete than a man talks to a brick,
twisting the knot of her idion in hand
and burning hate mail in the afternoon.
She learns to rule by being ruled: dry goods are
his to win, hers to preserve. She boxes up.
Her natural urge to propagate herself is the origin
of the state, state duplex, state boxer.
Foxes lock on under picnic tables,
children twist out into smokeries
and are furnished with commemorative cups and bowls.
The state is a container of duplication,
conservator of the basic minimum.
The phrase ‘cardiac arrest’ conceals a stupid truth:
heart knackered like a punctured football,
the heart is a working component owned by the state.
Our bodies bound to morter and decay.
The property heart, waiting for use
alongside a pop gun and a silk handkerchief
eases the load on the ox hearts, their feelings
an electrical discharge as they tow and hoist.
Now the state’s insufficiency cannot secure the good life
the swollen heart, myopathic, sits on an altar
just free of dancing embers in the residual house.
As we relax our pulse beats
heavily on the sternum, where opening
a crab shell would make its wettest sound.
The element that can use its intelligence
to look ahead is by nature ruler and by nature master.
This is philosophy, self-canonized,
televising projections since dawn.
For alibi the philosopher-king appeals
to the public fact of his chemical castration.
With immortal cunning soul
tyrannizes the body, the father bullies kin,
intelligence tempers desire like a president
kneeling on the senatorial neck. Except
no president does, having made a reduction.
Kennelled by reason, a free body
is erect and useless, suited
for the life of a citizen, divided by war
and peace. The slave body is of course.
The use of slaves is not a form of knowledge
that has any great importance
or dignity. A morbid fat woman
whipped us a little, but only with buckbrush
and only around the ankles. It is diminutive
and feminising, deteriorates the squires
the house is the original scene of tyranny
as prophylactic against female hunger.
My father’s tyranny is imponderable
in the political realm: the red mist of a house burning temper
enables his own emancipation as he rolls in from the suburbs.
He is speaker of the house, house a pork barrel.
How he acquires human properties
is a skill for soldiers and hunters,
raking it in the year of jubilee,
taking dogs to the base of all trees,
forcing runners into muddy shallows.
To be muddled with lime is a sin against the clear
proportionality of his race now he’s
having trouble keeping anything down.
Slaves are tools made for action. Diptherial robotics,
cogs in their hipbones and tightly wired
phalanges nipping at bobbins. If shuttles
could fly and a plucker play a tune all
self-moved, then masters would have no needs
and the cabins, empty, become national trust.
Watch them dance to heaven like the tripods
of Hephaestus shuffling into the assembly of the gods.
However by nature you can
and therefore do belong to him.
You participate in reason so far as to recognize it
but not so as to possess it, for possession
is barred to you are possessed so thoroughly.
Your speech, approximate (I’ve put
the breaks in):
I ’members de time when my mammy was
alive, I was a small child,
afore dey took her to Reems Creek. All us chillens was
playin’ in de yard one night. Just a-
runnin’ and a-playin’ like chillen will. All
of a sudden Mammy come to de door
all ’cited. “Come in here dis minute,”
she say. “Just look up at what is a-happenin’.”
And, bless you life, de stars
were fallin’ just like rain. Mammy was
terrible scared, but we chillen weren’t
afraid, no we weren’t afraid. But Mammy,
she say every time a star fall,
somebody gonna die. Look like
a lot of folks gonna die from de looks of
dem stars. Everythin’ was just as bright as day.
You could a pick a pin up.
You know de stars don’t shine as bright
as dey did back den. Weren’t
long afore dey took my mammy away,
and I was left alone.
I make the dead work.
The element that can use its intelligence
to look ahead is by nature ruler and by nature master.
In the year of jubilee we will have transformation.
Money that grows on bushes, squirrels
and wild things, cotton for free
and good calico, shoes lined with dog fur.
Corn, rye and goober peas, mush and milk,
pepper pot from the cook shack
everyone down at the frolic and nothing partial
such as sleep, warmth, or skins.
Do I know this, your names, your prices.
THE POLICE EYE
The day bluelighted to an infirmary.
Take myself off to conjure
thoughts of dogs
rioted up a tree in the dark
and a silly rotten stick liquors up
the other hand. Fear is a powerful
inducement to club up: clear the backs
sentinelled, looking for freedom
portioned and in regard of: every rut
Ocado may be able to deliver.
I’m heavily pregnant. The horror film
I come into shot they come in crying ‘Meat, meat’
Rhiannon covered in puppy blood
a claw reaches in through the stable window but that’s
the part of the story nobody questions
is a threat to fealty on the island of the mighty.
At the return of relief
– all fields squarely – and the modern houses
I apply at a gate shackled by a deliberate block.
A paddock with deer, too docile and thick
among nettles and rusting gear
boiler pots and winches to make this
place than mortal foreboding. Eaters
nearby, scanned by the rolling monocle
that twitches its history of terror
from only one side of a monumental face.
No wilderness here, even for fodder
coruscating inside their commodity hides
their hips and shoulders move through ragout
the muscleman is hiding his pointed ears in the long grass.
Everything I see is the state. More dogs.
Man is an animal who needs a master
who is an animal who needs a master
that is an animal needs that master
who is a mastered animal, mastering
the animal of his master who is animals
and needing a master is an animal master
for the animals who need a master and a master
of animals is also an animal among animals
who need masters there is an animal
and masters for those animals are animals
who need a master who need a master
animal animal animal master animal.
The duty to obey. The duty waits it out,
down at the mouth and pitifully small indoors
and governed in lesions at the big-box stores
with a woman in pain as the standard bearer
who begs the latch as court-appointed carer: but she
represents no one juridically,
her talent’s symbol. And her nature
restrains her litter at two, as otherwise
she would have as many tits as a pig.
You think they’re numbered to match your eyes?
So quantity is a function of necessity, and
for grundnorm take the tyranny of the family.
The forest regards its infant oaks as luxuries,
silva lisp a word for tender:
the merciless criticism of everything existing.
The thumb is just long enough
to pleasure the mouth without choking.
Domestic Interlude 2
You remember the rowan tree, light
filled apart as clarity
swinging down became a fixation.
A multitude devised as one, brided as one
eventually but not yet.
Still summer with bright gold appearances.
Heavenly grasses. Work spread out
on the table
specie piling up with the ashes of letters
to map your body traditionally to own it.
Food. Irony. Music piped into the ears
that otherwise tripped over birdsong
and otherwise halted in the future.
were everywhere. No material
a likewise possibility. Great tips
and chords, even the bottlenose sighted
a celebratory sleeve for Curtis Mayfield
Spending money on other things like sweaters.
Some drinks in the distance
the muezzin and other dawns
blood loss. Occasional pinches.
To march, to peal and wish nakedly
feeling nothing and/or an excess
it came up at the cinema, there was a book in it.
Then there were the children
But not yet.
Rummaging. Appears on the doorstep,
extracted from her bicycle. Teapot hens
puffy for dawn in Paradise Park, slappy,
fish in the sink,
home a home for recording sessions.
Your body spread out under the pitching.
An excess of luxury soap. The thing
we both knew would be lost to each
if we vanished
And a building site, the plaster all blown
rendered and made good
breakfast up there, under the plants.
What kindness, circled
by your unprepossessing
Coming back, coming back
coming back and coming
back (wild combination)
Listening as the night-bloom
and the dealers in their parked cars
and the invisible man behind the partition
for baking, strumming. Squashing. Speaking
always with very great interest
how the multitudes devised one.
A retro design
beautifully done, lively. The children.
The house and its work. The children.
Where they came from. Suddenly
over time turns into history
too much to talk about
eating the bread I made in labour
they learn to speak, and then they speak
and everything they say begins to finish the puzzle for us which they are
I feel old now, the day
bright gold appearances of all your faces
this is what my life was, and becoming
how we wake up when we have been there
bracketed to your body traditionally
oh my profound heart
the days work and the nights of knowledge
which has turned out to be knowledge
of you everywhere, and there
The electors of Holland dance to bronze music,
spin the Victorian dynamo in the modified foodmart
chocka with maize, decaf peace, prosperity.
This so Fed-Ex home town commo
freeze the liquor licence with moral temperature:
children cluster and spatter the streets
with taffy goodbar, good in pastel
sugar shades of salt water. Give’m
enough spank to get the job done
take shelter in the urgent and compelling
which is a blank cheque drawn on endless government.
They will always hear your footsteps,
offering plausible deniability for food
and aching corporatist bullyboy spirits for hush money
in Kolleen Park, in Abu Nuwas.
The Free Companies are the scourge of Europe,
their ideal bivouac in motorland,
al fresco on Windmill Island, flush at Tulip Time
with republicanism and Jean Calvin.
The Duke of Ferrara held with no less effort
principality crated to the Great Dismal Swamp:
a day’s drive from Khartoum to Port Sudan,
check my look in the mirror,
lipstick blandishments go alchemized harrier
vanity up corporate warfareground and her precious
pins in L’Eggs and her precious deconfliction
hour in Calgon. Dominions
either accustomed to live under a prince, or to live in freedom,
the pin switch stay where you are with your hands.
Aere perennium the crater mouth
of mainstreet sidewalk of the stars’
general pow chicken and the starry ears.
God’s own infantry linked to
white-side seals, armed tap dancy
from the DeKlomp factory
to Route Irish via the BIAP.
For when Christian men, take not
their Christian Sovereign, for Gods Prophet;
they must either take their owne Dreames,
for the Prophecy they mean to bee governed by,
and the tumor of their own hearts
for the Spirit of God; or they must suffer
themselves to bee lead by some strange prince.
The prince. A theocon master of the universe
poured in China into plastic:
six kids, Roman Catholic, ex-Navy
who appreciates the smoke and bells
and the facilities (confession),
blooded on gays, wombs, cord banks,
Hillsdale’s volunteer firefighter
swimming through ice of an inland sea
in search of the dead, sniffy
oh my dear profiteer pater.
Blackfaced to a jungle dark medlar swelling
under the black peat of Camden and Currituck,
this is the dark sticks river, gallons charged with
forgetfulness and the memorandum of notification.
The ghosted native swings on a palindrome,
going oogedaboogeda from the loblolly bay.
The digital natives check in 140 characters,
walk-ups with grudges whose intel can be checked
by solidarios milites only at the hot
point of a drifted metal.
Dyed with tannins, fringed with berries
for the foraging mascot bears, the cloth stapler
a reversible feedbag and containment unit
for the pure fire of platonic eyes. On the MRE
boxes of sassafrass and pin cherry stand
two wet feet, the Peppa Pig water-wings
slipped off far back in the pocosin stage.
They unclamp the jinga trucks, lock
and load arrears for policy as the oaks burn
giant candles like heads with livid inflammatory hair.
They’re the biggest employer around here
so we can’t diss them, 250 folks
in the steel target factory and on the ranges.
Moyock / mock city near the Jeremiads
are arising, pistol in one hand trowel
in other for an archaeology
of third-country nationals (screwed to the pallets).
RU Ready High, SWAT tango studio teens
scream their gutless piercing illegal Twilight.
Milites ad adorem pacis peiora molintur quam in bello.
Wan. Snooted. Friendlies cast
with hundreds n thousands light the sky for relays.
This fake city as diorama: anatomical displays
showing the gestation of a mil-bird,
from broken avionics and the works
to berthing in foreign service, how we build a state
from components of foreign manufacture.
Teaching that there are three courses for those who wish to hold them: to ruin them, to reside with them, or to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you.
and oceanliner for pirate practice
remote-control kill authority is the real thing
where the deer and the antelope play.
The Praetorian Guard in the summer of 69
drew targets for an extraction
plan by intrusive metal
and intrusive thoughts, while others
cashiered out and found themselves
at loose ends their venomous expertise. We are paid
to outsource blame, a poison ricochet
tamped to the market
instead of the congressional record
building a ‘coalition of the billing’
aka plucking the Durand Line like catgut.
That was a real ass-puckerer,
the Anabasis of Xenophon,
in a circle makes the red arc of an oil dash,
is shot-put, is hockey-sticks
in the comfortable lunge of the Black Bear.
Soapmakers and their sons for silver
have been made into knights,
sheep-dipped green badgers
who align teams as they align stars.
The warrior constellation winks his nakedness
turns lithium and gibbets to flesh
in a flash of an air asset, oh company dog.
The labourers descend from little birds
scuff up on the sandbox, go hoodless
to the Dry Sea / And come home via Qara Na’ur.
Our teams are not cooking meals
or moving supplies. They are taking bullets.
The prince, with little reluctance, takes the opportunity
of rebellion to punish the delinquents, clear out the suspects,
and to fortify himself in the weakest places,
the strategic chokepoints. You draw the shells
in coloured pencils cascade with rain-sounds
from their casing. This is the lethal finding,
drawn down straight from the imperial grotto:
he offends a minority only of the citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them to the new inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and scattered, are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being uninjured are easily kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not to err for fear it should happen to them as it has to those who have been despoiled.
When duty-honour calculations
are displaced by cost-profit and the benefit
shifts like oversight to the executive,
the acceptable face of pain gets masked up
and booted up till the money literally soars.
Jose Cuervo protecting the agave fields,
Zapata engineering the ammo stores:
they quadruple the army payout;
the bouge et gages du court seductress,
the outlivers have the correct figures
but the kickers a life without security
of finance, transport, interiors and health
made into an error against life set to zero.
So the lobby in Holland is marked out
for a private transport times event,
tradecraft walls swicker and rupple to a fervent
catacoustic grunge of election. Triple Canopy
swooning full cash for incredulity, for burning
the log-book and the model detonator.
Outside, through the shifting of the garrison
up and down all become acquainted with hardship
as a kind of burning.
Ramiro taken on pretence and executed
on the piazza at Cesena: the people at once
were satisfied and dismayed.
‘Cofer told him he would have flies on their eyeballs
within a week’. The recipe includes
only bad guys, cooling, stymied, deletable,
good fortune and great energy are needed to hold them
in a loving and deeply sexual embrace as
proof of the muj strategy with passion
fruit pudding ridge road.
Who leave out dog hits, we sniff
the traces, slip up on nitrates
and sink our dearly booted feet
into the hacksaws to cut the switch.
An own-goal, delivered in a handcart,
she wakes up to the smell of premonition
and her new heroic part. There is no uplift.
Disposable muscle and steel and packaging
of Hawkwood’s White Company blown up
to nightmare proportions.
The blades on the Bremer detail
who twitch like eyes remote in their sockets,
slid back behind plastic, routed to semtex
and get jumpy off the X
scoot, shoot, as the stovepipes, shirt rips
on a quick twist and miscalculate a flight risk
they aren’t nearly fast enough off
but swish, one says, behind order 17.
This ilke worthy knight hadde been also
Somtyme with the lord of Palatye
Agayng another hethen in Turkye.
And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys
Raven 23 pins down in Nisour Square,
drop tackle on a hard site,
budgets rattle in the offertory.
They stuff into the BearCat, carbines across their knees,
Von Steuben’s children
Set off in soft-skins, heat-sought
behind a dirt berm, unapologetic.
Evan Liberty among the tard venus
endorsing Camp Ganci, Father of these Ravens.
“And this failure was due to the Naussicaans
being…” he looked up as
he searched for the words, “…beamed away?”
POCKET LANDSCAPES – Trajan’s Monument to Poché
Standing amidst the cacophony of Rome’s Piazza Venezia, Trajan’s Column slips easily into the lively frenzy of tourist and city buses, excavation sites (both archaeological and infrastructural), and traffic (pedestrian, auto, and motorino). As anywhere in Rome, these networks of transit, commerce, and artifacts are layered as thickly above the streets as they are buried beneath them. Through this earth rich with aggregate imperial desires, Mussolini carved an axis connecting his Palazzo Venezia office (and underground bunker) with the Roman colosseum, revealing and dividing two sets of ancient cellular plazas, the Imperial Fora and the Republican Fora. Along this axis, anchored by the column, sits Trajan’s Market, an imperial complex carved into the side of one of Rome’s celebrated hills.
In the voids left by both Trajan and Mussolini, the bombast of imperial power feels equal in scale and determination. But while Mussolini’s cut through the strata of this city intentionally obliterates certain histories (the medieval) in favor of a singular view of history (imperial conquest), a reading of Trajan’s Column as material artifact offers an alternate condition where a simultaneity of locational reference and experience are contained and anchored by a single edifice (and its artifice). Trajan (emperor from 98 CE to 117 CE) remains notable for extending the frontier of the Empire to its farthest limits, orienting formerly “barbarian” lands towards Rome. The celebrated column was erected to commemorate Trajan’s conquest of Dacia (modern-day Romania), a calculated act of rational, if viscous, expansion, completely in keeping with the centralizing tendencies of Rome. However, the column also unwittingly acts as a monument to the simultaneity and opacity of place—a contrasting alternative to the hierarchical ethos of the dictum “All roads lead to Rome.”
The column embodies, epitomizes, and ultimately monumentalizes the contradiction between Rome’s desire to locate through centering and the persistence of the unknowable (but not placeless) space of the city. This material sense of the known vs. the unknown can be easily related to the multiple understandings of the architectural term poché. From an architectural perspective, poché includes not only the “pockets” of thickness contained within massive masonry walls, but also the types of functions that are sometimes buried within, such as staircases, servants’ quarters, secret corridors, etc. Because it is hidden, literally or experientially, poché denies an understanding of dimension, geometry, orientation, and ultimately of location itself. The drawing techniques found in Giambattista Nolli’s 1738 map of Rome clearly demonstrate several different understandings of this term. At the level of representation techniques, poché is the intense repetition of hand-engraved lines used as infill within an outlined form to produce a field of gray. In his famous plan of Rome, Nolli’s rendering of the Pantheon reveals a differentiation between two different tones of poché, the darker used to represent true mass or thickness such as the stone masonry of the Pantheon’s at moments 20-foot-thick walls. The lighter tone of poché is used almost everywhere else and ambiguously refers to a condition of opacity, which may be one of solid material thickness, or may indicate a conceptual thickness—spaces either unknown or off-limits to the public.
The experience of Trajan’s Column shifts between these different conditions of poché. The chiseling techniques used to excavate the stairs and apertures within the shaft create a chiaroscuro microlandscape of texture: at each moment where outside light pierces through the windows, an intense field of pattern much like Nolli’s engraving techniques is created. This association with landscape connects the thick marble drum to the quarries of its origin in Carrara. More significantly, within this extensively documented city, the interiority of the column is not only literally hidden from view, but exists as a material lacuna in the consciousness of Romans and tourists alike. Conceptually, the nomenclature of the “column” seems to register only as an architectural element, denying the possibility of internal habitable space. More mass than void, Trajan’s Column oscillates between architecture and architectural marker—between fissure and monolith.
While the slender column operates as a spatial marker like the myriad other obelisks, fountains, and statues that mark the center of so many of Rome’s piazzas, it could also be seen as a compression of all the material contained within its purview, as if it replicated the centripetal tendencies of the Empire, gathering and compressing so much mass from afar. Trajan’s Column shares a similar diagram as Hadrian’s Mausoleum (now the Castel Sant’ Angelo): a massive cylinder with internal helical ramp. But while Trajan constructed what would become the resting place of his ashes in 113 CE, 17 years before his second cousin’s mausoleum broke ground, it could be imagined as a dwarf-star version of the latter, condensing all the material of the grand earthen drum while maintaining the central void excavated to house the body of the Emperor. The variable densities implied here would offer a radically different take on Nolli’s map of Rome.
With this conceptual density locked within its marble walls, more than any other monument in Rome (and perhaps the world), Trajan’s Column operates as a monument to and tower of excavation. With the exception of the significant and much discussed act of stacking 20 drums of marble, each weighing 2 tons, the power and nuance of this monument is due to the successive removal and reduction of material—from the quarrying of the marble, to the voiding of the internal spiral stair, the carving of the 43 window apertures, and the chiseling of the bas-relief frieze. While assembly seems to connect to location through desire or will, excavation is more rooted in material acceptance and exigency—embodying the readiness to work with that which is found rather than imposing that which is desired (through the literal importation and assembly of disparate elements). In Bachelard’s subterranean space of the cellar, the act of excavation connects each individual location through the common medium of soil; here, the abstractions of geometry, geography, and distance are swallowed by the maw of the earth. What better way to connect the aspirations of the tower to the actuality of the earth (albeit an earth originally 250 miles away in Carrara), while its narrative describes the conquest of a landscape (and people) over a thousand miles away?
Figure 3: Every window of Trajan’s Column. Images: Andrew Riggsby
Like so many other archaeological spaces, the column offers a thick buffer against the harsh light and sound of the contemporary city, although here, rather than descending into the damp must of the historical dig, we instead spiral upward, simultaneously leaving the earth while becoming more aware of its cool, massive solidity. This projection of excavation out of the earth allows for a simultaneity of vision afforded by elevation (the ostensible raison d’etre of the column) and by perforation: it is a tunnel with a view. But the set of windows offers an experience quite different from the aerial one, as the column drum could be understood to operate as a thickened zoetrope, filtering out the gestalt of its context while assembling an animated coral-like aggregation of fragments, vignettes, and details. The overexposed cityscape of contemporary Rome is glimpsed through a radial mineral sponge—the baroque domes of Santa Maria di Loreto and Santissimo Nome di Maria, the turn-of-the-century classicism of the Altare della Patria (Il “Vittoriano”)—as jump cuts framed through the deep marble proscenia.
As the embrasure expands each window aperture from exterior graphic rectangle to capacious wedge of interior space, the pattern of chisel marks highlighted by the oblique light raking across the stone surfaces creates a set of miniature mineral landscapes. As these interior pocket grottos encounter the exterior bas-relief, itself an illustrated narrative of territory and its acquisition, they maneuver themselves into the gaps between soldiers’ bodies, stretching to stand in for a cavalryman’s shield, or morphing into the background of the relief’s vernacular architecture. At other moments, the specific location of a window aperture in relationship to the assembly of the columns’ giant stacked drums creates an intersection of window and seam, one slowly eroding into the next over the millennia. These local “aberrations” produce a set of similarly sized rectangular apertures, each uniquely modified according to its context within the unfolding story of conquest and within the tectonic assembly of the monument—so that an expert scholar of the column could locate his or her exact location within this speculative zoetrope based solely on the signature profile of each window aperture.
Rome itself operates both as a center of fait accompli rational planning celebrated by historians and as a subterranean labyrinth of fluid potentiality. The liquid association here is apt, as the massive earthen heterogeneity of this deeply layered city is in fact due to the walls of Rome operating as a mold into which the Tiber would deposit successive layers of material history, trapping and burying millennia of artifacts of all scales within this urban-scaled “cast.” The hidden spaces of the city—ancient aqueducts and sewers, the thickened double-shelled domes of the baroque, and the secretive spaces of sects and curiae, off-limits to the public—conspire to create an extensive complex of irrational, unknowable spaces equal to those more clearly hierarchically ordered. Trajan’s Column constitutes an appropriate, albeit unintentional, monument to the dual nature of this city—studied, interpreted, and idealized and yet persistently thick, opaque, and massy. While the column’s observation platform surveys and surveils through a rational understanding of territory, its material presence connects us to the less rational underworld extending just below the surface of that very terrain.
Epilogue – Trajan’s Hollow
Figure 8: Trajan’s Hollow, a revision of one drum of the original column. Image: Jason Kwong
This alternate reading of Trajan’s Column was extrapolated from the artifact left to us, existing quite independently of the possible desires of its architect, Appolodorus of Damascus. Trajan’s Hollow, an ongoing project initiated at the American Academy in Rome, attempts to extend this trajectory through a series of intensely material “reproductions” of the column, each exploring an aspect of the above agenda in a way the original could not. If the material of history could be used as a filter through which to reinterpret the current surrounding context, would our understanding of empire and territory shift? Although the “place” of the kingdom of Dacia was obliterated, or at least buried, by the gerrymandering of military and political conquest, misreading Trajan’s Column could introduce a porosity to the Roman notion of imperial space so that it might be infiltrated by the subjective space of the topos. This intense interiority, focused more toward experience than governable dichotomies of inside or outside, might offer a simultaneity of idealized abstractions and specific material events.
Johan Gottschalk Wallerious: Swedish chemist, mineralogist
Someone said: singer, poet, desire, child, brute, amateur
Else: Else, historical, machinic
I Am (in Brooklyn, (in Berlin: a body, a vector in space, a given place
Heriberto Yepez: Heriberto Yepez
Charlotte Wolff: scientist, radical sexologist, chirologist, philosopher, wearer of men’s clothes, psychologist of gesture, lesbian identified
Via Alev Ersan: via the writer Alev Ersan, on Facebook
Public Space: Public Space
Sheena Easton: Sheena Easton
June Jordan: June Jordan
Minor Appearances: Orgy, Aristotle
Johan Gottschalk Wallerious:
Else requires someone else
Someone said, to become someone else
Requires someone else
Other-ness, someone said
An Allotrope of Else
Someone said, A Loosening Ampersand
Throbbing with amperes
& a bromo blue
Citi sign, someone said
Electrically To Become Someone
Else requires some structured bonds
Someone said, more & more
In a less fixed phosphorous
Someone said, Ore.
some other means.
for example. She
is a machine
Bromo blue. Watermelon red.
I love that color.
If it moves
If it’s alive
If it’s alive
or move it’s
speech acts, the band
in every conversation
in them, yeah yeah yeah
a long-fingered tool
for climbing is, until branded
Elsewhere, a hand since
from wing or paw
is the first machine,
is this asks the / the
repeat the sentence
movement to dethrall.
Else’s hard intel stare.
Core. Else’s black substrate.
Core. Else under a chair lost.
other country it
no longer exists
save for the objects
made in said
Old English thūma; related to Old Saxon
thūma, Old High German thūmo,
Old Norse thumall, thumb of a glove
from Latin tumēre, to swell.
Yeah yeah yeah
As if homophony
Wasn’t the easiest
Hard drive. More
“The granary of Empire.”
1.08 billion palms
“The ore of Empire.”
Siri, where does Coltan come from?
Let me check that…
This might answer
your question: Collective information
for US births. Rank: 65th. Fraction:
1 in 318 people. Number: 6318 people per year.
Siri, what is Coltan.
Would you like me to search the web for “Cole train”?
Coltan, short for
You touch the glass with yr machine.
You touch the machine with yr machine.
Glass architecture in a glass palm.
The one surfacing there, touching there.
The one swiping there, pinching there.
You touch the glass with your ear.
You make a call, out from that flesh there.
by other means. In other
what is the space
behind the knee?
What is Dancoe? Let me think…
Here’s what I found: Dana Holding Company (DAN)
Latest trades: DAN $20.95 NYE.
The popliteal space?
I Am (in Brooklyn:
I realize, and it is not without irony, that I tell stories. I tell a certain kind of story in response to which one reaction I have witnessed is repulsion a response perhaps to what is felt as my attack on the lush ground that ‘story’ is thought to occupy.
When I tell a story it is as though I am interrupting. The room. Something is always happening. For example a sudden repulsion that seems to augur logic. I trust the interruption. I want to tell you now, not later. It won’t matter anymore. It may never again matter. I…
I am (in Berlin:
Here is a story that comes after an attack. Or rather footage of an attack. What exactly is the story when there is an attack in a public space. What exactly is the story when women are not allowed in public space. Rather than footage what was in the machine was: a double story.
Let me explain.
There was the violence of the attack and violence of the machine recording the attack and the machines which transmitted the recording of the attack and the machines which downloaded the act with ease, with a swipe of a thumb, a gesture, automated. This was all after the fact. The story begins before this. What was in the machine was. The image bundles affect, which is duplicated, doubled, becomes story, gothic. I stood up in my apartment, gagged.
My story begins with a machine in a country nowhere near the country where the footage was taken. Let me explain. I am in a country which is a story that turns me inside out, violently, suddenly nowhere and nowhere nearly as the violence which a body holding a machine witnesses, nearly commits, let alone the body suffering the fact of attack. I broke into a sweat. No lush ground. No story. No nearly, nowhere. Refuse to let the image empty you. What was in the machine was. It’s telling.
Gesture of a Holding Recording Device
Gesture of a Hollow Recording Device
Gesture of a Holding Recording Device Just Above One’s Head
Gesture of a Holding Recording Device In Front of Your Head
Gesture of a Hollow Head That is Nonetheless Extremely Heavy
Gesture of a Holding Recording Device At One’s Side, Inconspicuously
Gestures and Gesticulations of Fingers as Eyes
Gesture of a Holding Recording Device Beyond One’s Head While Running Forward
Gesture of a Hollow Recording
s a dislocatio
I Am (in Brooklyn:
Insides without outsides.
Rudely formed viscera, unsheathed.
Precious, monstrous, starkly lush.
t and tundr
Heriberto Yepez and Else (together):
The text will become the history of the loss of our body.
The loss will become the history of the text of our body.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
Stories are locative adverbs.
I don’t desire a visit.
What upon us.
She. She was a visitor. She
Was a visitor. She was a
visitor. She was a visitor.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
This is an attempt at never visiting.
Gesture of Pressing Against Travel
Gesture of Trying To Stay Put
Gesture of Failing the Gestures
Where you stand.
She is not a visitor.
Where you stand still.
Where you are (not) visited.
Tell me why is it so.
Don’t wanna let you go.
Okay. Hold o
n for jus
d line wants t
o finish bu
t can’t. Th
e animal, ever
y time it trie
s to complet
e it, or disentangl
e itself eviscerate
s further int
Already? At the start
a space between
one or more sentences
gathered, a violence
IT makes more sense
IT holds as if it were a breath
IT the very moment
IT has nothing to project protect
IT becomes extreme weather
IT suggests terrible things happening
after near escape, off the page,
in this unfriendly helicopter sky.
Up up and away
my beautiful, my beautiful.
Up up and away
my beautiful, my beautiful.
Up up and away
and away, way up HIGH
my beautiful, my beautiful.
& so we painted
on fallen drones.
Gesture of Removing Drones from the Sphere of Metaphysics!
Gesture of Removing Drones from the Logic of Speculative Finance!
We would like to use your location.
Your thumbs know where the keys are.
It doesn’t take long to adjust.
Even if we are somewhere else.
As in a place other than where we desire
the footage to record our movements here.
A statue of a protester.
An archived space. An image
full of gestures. A public space
generating images. A public
full of gestures. An image
full of images. A film
of a still image of a protester. A film
of a still image of a
protester in public space
into a run, a fist or feint or
to image or film, the edge
in an image or screen or page
or square, an opening there
that is NOT a tear, a duct
at the base of a pear.
Neo-remembering. Never mind for now: a 4 cornered body crossed by a three pointed star
tries to exceed its surface into the atmosphere by excreting.
It wants. IT historicizes herself anticipating the tragedy of submission, our sticky times.
Reaching down while getting up
subject to being fucked
by that broken head (god)
Rough and crumble over figure
Off the page IT leaves
IT can’t, and turns back up and
back into itself.
“Good upload man”
I Am (in Brooklyn:
peacefully enough but
taken with a persistant
I am attempting to leave
the never born child
No, don’t cry ou
t with it! Don’
t make the imp-
d: IT to
o wants t
I Am (in Brooklyn:
I cut off the head your encephalitic
squirming for you!
[humming tune of “Like a Virgin,”
spasmodic gestures approximating
Like an earthworm
Touched for the…
g. To exis
e is onl
I Am (in Brooklyn:
Losing the want
Though it’s good to have somewhere clean to stay
Eat and Touch more than a square foot is better,
Especially nice for one to be
Map-able Find-able Bury-able
The houses poorly ventilated, overcrowded,
have no chimney. In Jalazone, a Palestinian refugee camp,
dampness is present in 72.5% of the houses,
50.5% have mold, 37% have leaks, and only 41.5% were
exposed to the sun. In Jalazone, 61% of the households
have 3-5 people to a room, while 16.5% of the households
have over 5 people to a room.
Via Alev Ersan:
“Dear friends, currently the mainstream global media is keeping an eye on Taksim, Istanbul. Thus, the police forces have backed off and they have remarkably scaled down the number of attacks against the protesters. However, in the meantime the police terror in Ankara as it is now is on a much larger scale compared to the very beginning of Istanbul attacks. Tear gas is relentlessly being thrown inside apartments, people are suppressed by plastic bullets, illegal custody, and physical assault. Things have escalated quickly and the scale of these attacks is rapidly increasing. We need to make benefit of social media once again to show the world what’s going on in Ankara right now. Here is a message from the people of Ankara: ‘We have supported the protesters of Istanbul from the beginning, and now it is your turn to support us and the rest of Turkey. This resistance is clearly not limited to Istanbul, it has taken over all of the country. The festive atmosphere in Istanbul is just a trick to fool global media and soothe off the masses. Nothing has been accomplished yet and things have just started actually.'”
Place. As smoke and mirror.
[Watching television, or in a television frame]
We USAmericans, United Statesians, USonians: love our Arabs and Muslims in the form of democratic youth, so much we are willing to watch them be slaughtered, to watch our premieres meet in gilded frames.
Who controls the smoke controls the mirrors.
Who controls the mirrors is SMOKING.
u want m
e to say som
e thing abou
n. Maybe on
e would wan
t it, if on
e hadn’t gotte
n it. To be know
I Am (in Berlin:
It’s hot. I sign off all my emails with the phrase It’s hot here. The emails I receive from friends in Brooklyn end with same phrase. It’s hot here. The emails I receive from friends in Rio end with the same phrase. It’s hot here. The emails I receive from friends in Paris end with the same phrase. It’s hot here. The emails I receive from friends in Morocco end with the same phrase. It’s hot here. The emails I receive from friends in Sweden end with the same phrase. It’s hot here. It’s hot here and the windows are open. The windows of all the neighbors in the courtyard are open and we move around with few clothes, we move around slowly wearing few clothes. Nearly everyone sees everyone else in a Berlin hinterhof. Nearly everyone sees everyone else in apartment buildings that face other apartment buildings. There is rarely any sun in Berlin and rarely are curtains needed. The neighbor across from me moves slowly through the room. We have seen each other over the years numerous times through the curtainless windows. All the neighbors have seen each other numerous times. We move together slowly and we see each other.
Gesture of Sight
Gesture of Sight Among Other Gestures
Gesture of a Body Next Door Felt in the Wood of the Floorboards
Gestures Conditioned by Distinctions Between Public and Private Space
I Am (in Berlin:
The other is there, right across the air, the hinterhof. The crows on rooftops throw their voices into it and revel in the echo—hopping sideways, gleefully! Nearly deranged! As all crows are, all over the world, perhaps because for them there is no—
Gesture of Delirious Harley-Rider-ish Sound in Order to Break Free From.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
Hearing from the front and back. I look to the harbor and hear the ocean. I look to ocean and hear the helicopters. Rhomb lines for airplane. Just Above My Head. I smell jet fuel. Craving.
Gestures of Crows for Whom All Space is Public Space.
Crow Gestus: Gesture of making big USAmerican noise without sound.
Beep. Beep double
I Am (in Berlin):
It’s hot here. The windows are open. Waist high. Last night a voice in the courtyard cried out, a pleasure so complete the pitch of it was genderless and everyone, in all the windows, was turned on, although the lights stayed off. Squares of open air. An image open, emptied. Architecturally intimacy occurs. We have seen each other but not recognized each other. We have not recognized that we have seen each other but we know this recognition exists, unrecognized, when we meet each other in the treppenhaus, the stairways. Here there is also air between our bodies, but less.
Ja Ja Ja
in Agnst Essen
I wanted most all of it shot in courtyards
leading to hallways—
Architectures of Recognition Gestures
Gestures of Public Touching
Western expansion camps. Refugee cramps.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
door and a
meet in a doorway
But not provisional
structure the outside
Orgies, intafadas and riots!
They must take place
In physical space.
If a staircase, then
There is no
way to erase
Step by step.
Full of objects
Via Alev Ersan:
A space however
Small for politics.
A failed anagram.
When you look up ‘gestures of location’ on Google you are directed into an Apple development site on Gesture Recognizers. Gesture Recognizers interpret touches to determine whether they correspond to a specific gesture, such as a swipe, pinch, or rotation. If they recognize their assigned gesture, they send an action message to a target object.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
They look more forgotten each time I see them. There is a man I feel like I am friends with. He must be Jewish or Arab or Armenian does it matter which? Wait…we were at “A Gesture of Location” or Gestures of Location or. I don’t know his name but I have known him for all the years that I have lived in my neighborhood. Those years a teenager between us: 17 or 18…year old teenager trans person yesterday hacked to death. My unnamed friend in Brooklyn is a cortortionist. He can bend the back of his neck so that his head is at 90 degrees.
Maybe that is not so hard.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
I watched him like this for 10 years. Because he sat on my stoop. I could tell he liked me, felt kinship with me. Maybe this means he is Jewish or just relieved to not be put out to the dogs. One day after ten years he looked at me and he was standing up straight. I smiled at him until he recognized me. Today I saw him on the train. We nodded to each other. When he got off the train he went back to being hunched over, in 90 degrees.
Gestures feel real
she read, but only
when finger and
n that i
r one no
Flow, from one to each’s other.
Shift, from thinking to knowing.
Recognition is as augury for catastrophic
A beautiful contraction, a perfect
Recognition denied or disabled.
Unclear weather. I recognize this.
Thunder precedes. Like this.
Flow. Shift. From cathexis to
Uninstalling the blind
Stupid trilogy. Anti-
Oedipal yes, but
Let’s goes further,
Condemns the binary
And the 4 winds.
The last episode brought closure and still managed to stay open-ended.
I Am (in Berlin:
Something someone said about a partial way of looking.
Lines, electrodes, an anti-reflective coating it alone.
Tap to zoom in on king.
I am (in Berlin) holding an object, an iPhone, the screen of which functions by sensing anything having a dielectric different from air. A kind of death, or experience of death, the sudden fact that difference is gone. I was in the air when my father died. I was high up, 30,000 feet, 35,000. I was in the air and my route in the air was figured by, ironically, “ground speed.” The screen on the back of the seat in front of me was roughly the size of the head resting against the seat. Flight status map. Africa a tan desert. Iceland, white. The Labrador Sea: a kind of rippled digital basin. Dimension on a low-res flat screen seems always like sand to be collapsing. “Local time at origin.” The places we travel to in order to leave them. A head winds. Distances: the minute you have a destination you arrive. I am (in Berlin) trying to locate where my body was when my father died, since where we were when a thing happened was the memory of the thing that happened. I arrived when I found out in New York, and got home, and turned on my iPhone with a swipe of my thumb, reading the email which was written by my mother from a coast across from the coast where I had arrived, which is not where my father died. That was my thought at that time in the narrative, where was I at that time in the narrative, now that I am (in Berlin) recalling this. Without location narrative posits it, sentence by sentence. Above somewhere named Gaspe. Somewhere above No. Only later on a phone with a circuit containing a mineral named by a Swedish chemist and mined in the Congo did a message arrive from another sentence, which was opened solely with the movement of a sentence, its intimate muscles, which are the only muscles in a sentence that move the sentence. Conflict minerals us. Somewhere above Dingwall. The sentence across a page vibrates. You could say a gesture also involves when it is finished dying. Else this high capacitance in a small volume, a river over time finds its way into a circuit small enough to allow live streaming. It won’t take long to adjust. Somewhere above Riviere-de-la-Chaloupe, Baie-du-Renard, Cap-aux-Meules. Airlines always use butt-ugly fonts. I remember that sentence, thinking that. This is a view from seat 42A, from a sentence folded in a seat among other sentences on an Irish airline with a Gaelic name somewhere above Dingwall, which is nowhere near Ireland.
Gestarchitecture of Invisible Strings.
Gestarchitecture of Immigration.
I Am (in Berlin:
The flight attendants on either aisle end at take off, at the origin, synchronized. One hand positioned over a face and another behind the head. Jerk to release oxygen. During the prerecorded preflight safety instructions my lips moved with the recording. I am always from the start attendant. Invisibly the machine we become we are synced to. Always, from the start, he said again, narratively. Your thumb suddenly white, like Iceland. Else this high capacitance for an electrical charge, a circuit small enough to resist breathing. The body which is not a sentence in a ritual reduced to ashes, mailed to other bodies who stand there, holding them in a posture that, like any fixed position, grief included, interrupts gesture, freezes it, violently, he said again.
Living Gesture of Poses Opposed to Any Fixed Posture.
I Am (in Berlin:
The email recorded the passing of a circuit small enough to prevent grieving.
I Am (in Berlin:
The use of the word is proof that literal affirmation neutralizes dissent: economy class. The space between bodies, increasingly infinitesimal. Within inches of every sense an ad. If we are intensely mindful in such a space not to touch anyone, even at the elbows, it is because discomfort stemming from enforced proximity extinguishes any notion the larger sentence might be, with such touch, suddenly countered, changed.
e the minut
e you hav
e a destinatio
n you arriv
I Am (in Berlin:
Willingly move beyond this sentence in solidarity.
also to read as if
risk, both to hold
what we know as fragile
and to have that,
bad porn, visibility
broken global shatterproof
to struggles, despite
borders, and the
beyond a sweetness
the sunlit fur
on the backs of
bees, hidden there
it will win us
over it will
soften us with us
I am slurring in a soft warehouse.
What is a repeat—a repetition that is not conservative, conservatizing, that bleeds new life—how to name it—close to that falling storm. Sheena Easton, save us.
I Am (in Berlin:
Sentences willingly in solidarity move beyond this.
I Am (in Brooklyn:
(spasmodically dancing again)
But the Spring…is physical, it is
difficulty, not death. Broken
trees lost branches. Cold air at my bottom
while breasts hot, humid. Slow magnolias
Bright necessity alive—shortened, stumped.
Pushing force of
collective energy out
An experiment in CALLING TO SITE by Lyn Hejinian and Christopher Patrick Miller
A Note on Procedure: What follows is an experiment in call and response. The basic constraints were that one of us could ask the other a question and the other would respond in five lines followed by another question. The impetus was to have the opportunity to ask and respond to questions at once intimate and expansive that don’t seem accessible in ordinary conversation, perhaps because it seems too much to ask of another. To remain in the question, we found, is a difficult process and often leads us to places, attitudes, or styles of discourse where, some time later, we don’t recognize the person who troubled to speak and be present there.
Does your place of birth suit your imagination of yourself?
My stone, my stanza, my heap of salvage metal. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. We sank beneath your wisdom like a stone. The way I would walk around the edge of our property, or what I thought was our property, trying the gaps and recombinations the weight of a certain person may cause. Whatever I was born into, I always had the sense that it was falling apart, that birth was falling apart with the people who willed it into being, and now I call that birth New England and describe its various qualities of superstition, reticent candor, and narrowed vigilance from the stranger who visits, who is always visiting, for longer than he may have been willing to admit at the outset.
Do you find the personal wherever, or whenever, you resist it?
The personal was what I was educated to become, myself, albeit nameless, as a personal person, though not my own. We have and get had, and acceding to that is a social bargain I personally can’t ascribe to. As of when, you ask (or might ask)—you, a person, particular and unique and known to me with a pronounced name—when did I resist it, but that assumes that I do. “I” could be anyone’s, anyone—the sort of thing John Wayne might say, though not of a river crossing or mules. The interiorization of self-reflection is a political, social, thing.
What is required for you to feel that you are somewhere?
Lamps seem the closest thing we get to living with apostrophe, vital animations we come home to, watch others approach, and reach to quiet when our bodies would love something other than this day. I mention this about lamps and apostrophe because they are a mere coincidence—light and the things it lights occurring together—which is the shortest definition I can manage for home. How we feel light is another question and gets us into the fray of skin, memory, entropy, time travel, etc. Driving up the dark road we may be surprised so few people are home at 7pm on a Tuesday evening and then maybe we realize that the power is probably out on the road and that we are confident the sun must rise tomorrow so everyone is new to the habits they have waiting in the form of furniture and music and food. Feeling this one is our home, feeling for a switch, our bodies hum with the decadent rhythms of hope and explanation.
Has there ever been a moment when you have doubted the continuity of who you are?
I don’t see how anyone who has consciousness of history, or consciousness of being a participant in the eventfulness of reality, can avoid experiencing him- or herself as becoming, at key junctures, markedly and perhaps lastingly discontinuous with whom he or she had been. Indeed, according to Whitehead’s metaphysics, we (along with all other real things) are each a sequence of events, and different at each site of our eventfulness. The real question is, how does one feel for the switch, the event-shift switch, which is not connected to a lamp, but to circuits of the brain, the mind, the social, the senses. I switch to a different language, and to a different sensorium.
The language of poetry is a language of metamorphosis. If so, what can or do you, as yourself, believe in?
Belief is looking into the multiple faces or stomachs of doubt as they surface recurrently, like objects you thought were drifting in someone else’s ocean, with some errant race of alligators, but float back and show us the swollen bellies of their numbers, cluttering the coasts. We learn how to talk to them, to instruct them, and to strain them from the waters and then, in turning, mistake this process for some personalization of such doubts and the waters as safe for swimming. Leviathan into a behemoth, mermaids into priests or professors. Isn’t it funny too how well crowded our coasts are, how we set up overlooking the oceans in houses that, like Nietzsche’s gay real estate, draw as much color from the monster of the sea as they do from the shifting cataclysms and buckles of land. I myself have never lived in such a house, only visited them, and often dream of the discarded lives revolving in the oceanic vortices of garbage and such privileged vantages of faith.
Can one visit a friend, a home, or a place, that one believes in and still address it as a doubt?
I believe in almost everything that exists in the present and almost nothing in the future. I’m rampantly gullible, but everything projects its own doubt forward and into its path. The significant events in the life of the perceptions unfold as experiences of belief or of doubt, but doubt isn’t the same as disbelief; doubt doesn’t negate belief (though it does make fun of gullibility), it isn’t even a failure of belief. Doubt expands belief into its ramifications. During the visit you ask me to imagine (to “a friend, a home, or a place”), belief and doubt are bound together in the fact that the visited scene has the holding power that we call temporality.
Do you ever feel that you are being visited by ideas?
In fact, by which I mean in bone the being of spirit is, that is the only way I feel by way of ideas: visited, alongside, with, inaccessible in part. Cora Diamond has this notion of companionable thinking, a thinking with or alongside something (in her case with “animal life” that is not antagonistic or at variance from human life) that may still be sought as company because its consumption or reproduction lies outside of reasonable bounds. We seem to believe that ideas are much more easily reproduced, made self-identical. Listening to a program this morning where economists were anthropomorphizing the market all over the place, even describing its “psychology,” and spinning prognostications from Ben Bernanke and the Fed Reserve’s recent announcement to stop buying assets, I was struck by how ideas like inflation or cash reserves are for them not companionable figurations/ideas but markers of how their expertise is generative of their realities, the reality they take everyone else’s necessities to be dictated by. As Marx taught me, I do not just believe in a different premise for social reality, but I believe that being social enables me to be visited by ideas from other forms of life, realms of necessity, and tremors in the voices that would declare them.
Given your gullibility, a quality I think we share, do you ever worry that you (and I) lose (y)our ability, at times, to sort the concretions of the present from the seductions of endless indeterminacy?
Why make a distinction between the “concretions of the present” and the “seductions of endless indeterminacy”? Aren’t the former the very sources and terms of the latter? This may be precisely what the Federal Reserve and the other makers and mongers of monetary policy don’t understand—or won’t: that the present is the site at which history presents the future as what might be, and as what might be beyond determination. All the present is is things changing, shifting position, becoming and ceasing to be eventful, etc., but also with the peculiar characteristic that, despite its momentariness, nothing of or in the present disappears, no true negation of event is possible, whatever happens will never not ever have happened, etc.; all closures are illusory, all compensation is futile—or am I being gullible? Well—no need to answer that question—more pressing is the awareness that one would have to be gullible indeed to believe that yielding to the seductions of endless indeterminacy is entirely distinct from a death wish. W.J.T. Mitchell (in What do Pictures Want?) says that the term totem, derived from Ojibway, properly means “a relative of mine,” and with that in mind, I ask you this, my real question:
Insofar as you undertake “companionable thinking,” are there terms/images of thought that are totemic for you?
Maybe the strongest totem for me, what I have been calling lately my tendency toward a community-effect, is the collective pronoun: we. And maybe there is a death wish lurking in this social positivism, what Lee Edelman-via-Freud might call a drive that leads us to act the unraveling of normative reproducibility of nature by a non-reproducible discontinuity, an impersonal rift in the archive, that can also lead to disastrous moments of shared desire amidst linguistic and representational ruin. But this too seems a fetish of non-reproducibility and non-normative response, a denial that we don’t act beneficially, for ourselves and others, as we “ought” to act all the time, sometimes knowing full well such a normativity is provisional at best. What seems to me lacking in so many accounts of the turns to a productive confusion, shifting revaluations of the present, and truth-as-suspension of coercive and exploitative social mechanisms (these being examples of what “indeterminacy” is sometimes a short-hand for) is an account for how such revolutionary potential enables direct responses to our varied, but shared, histories. The fact that I so often rediscover my totem, “we,” signifies for me both a desire and a failure to not explode indeterminacy but apply it, set it to work, so that elaborate compacts like trust can have a more definite speech.
If we were to end here, how would I know where I began and you ended?