SOR JUANA WORKS IN THE GARDEN
Time for gardening again; for poetry; for arms
up to the elbows in leftover
deluge, hands in the dirt, groping around
among the rootlets, bulbs, lost marbles, blind
snouts of worms, cat droppings, your own future
bones, whatever's down there
supercharged, a dim glint in the darkness.
When you stand on bare earth in your bare feet
and the lightning whips through you, two ways
at once, they say you are grounded,
and that's what poetry is: a hot wire.
You might as well stick a fork
in a wall socket. So don't think it's just about flowers.
Though it is, in a way.
You spent this morning among the bloodsucking
perennials, the billowing peonies,
the lilies building to outburst,
the leaves of the foxgloves gleaming like hammered
copper, the static crackling among the spiny columbines.
Scissors, portentous trowel, the wheelbarrow
yellow and inert, the grassblades
whispering like ions. You think it wasn't all working
up to something? You ought to have worn rubber
gloves. Thunder budding in the spires of lupins,
their clamps and updrafts, pollen and resurrection
unfolding from each restless nest
of petals. Your arms hum, the hair
stands up on them; just one touch and you're struck.
It's too late now, the earth splits open,
the dead rise, purblind and stumbling
in the clashing of last-day daily
sunlight, furred angels crawl
all over you like swarming bees, the maple
trees above you shed their deafening keys
to heaven, your exploding
syllables litter the lawn.
from margaret atwood's "the door."
thanks to raoul.
"tendentially, the book you want is never there, while another book is offered to you...the library is the space of substitutes for desire..." ~roland barthes
i was just thinking this the other day (though not in so many words, it was a thought that hovered over this idea but never landed into this articulate of a statement), walking home from the library with sophie. neither of the books we had gone looking for were there. at first, sophie wasn't interested in looking any further, but i coaxed her a little to just browse the shelves to see if she could find something interesting. some part of me has always been grateful not to find what i was looking for, for in this position i am most open to suggestion. what may start out as the substitute for something i wanted may become, mysteriously, the book i most needed to read. in it i might find the lost mate to a sock or the church key to a forgotten memory.
taking it from the shelf i see into it like a house lit up. i can peer through the living room window and glimpse the life that is lived there. i don't even have to knock to be allowed in. all of the possessions and combinations of objects come as pure surprise. the book is a place i may yearn to go to, yet i am its destination, according to barthes. without me its world stays folded and quiet. i have come across many of these books in the library which have not been opened in years. some not even once, the pages still uncut. desire to acquire a certain book is driven by the potential pleasure we sense that it will be capable of giving. it has promised something, some possible deep and intimate knowledge or else a validation of something you have long held dear. but without the possibility of having the object that holds so much promise, you find after all that you are here, in the veritable cathedral of promising objects, the library.
in my search i found a book i just had a sense that sophie would like. i noted its position and kept looking. when she joined me, i pointed it out to her. she read the jacket and decided to check it out. after we got home, while we were eating lunch, she said 'i really like stories that take place on ships.' she also likes vampires, had gone to the library in search of a vampire book they didn't have. later, after she's read some of the book, she said 'i love this book. and it takes place on a ship and it has vampires in it..'
blue vintage dress
feathers to leave trail
"if you're lucky enough to have a project in mind, most of the things that happen around you are relevant and fall into place as if destined to do so. your whole life turns into a kind of beehive where every cell instead of staying stupid and empty is filled with the honey of events that confirm either your good luck or fate in general." ~julia kristeva
i have always loved this painting by magritte, in which the hen herself seems to be asking "which came first?" i came across a picture of it last week, only a day after my own red hen inexplicably expired. i found her on her back with her wings splayed out and her head turned restfully to the side. from a distance i thought she was sunning herself. there had been times in the past when she was alive that, from the way she was splayed out sunning herself, i thought she was dead.
she had laid an egg only the day before. some people don't know that hens lay eggs whether there's a rooster around or not. i remember reading that back around aristotle's time they thought that hens were "impregnated" by the wind when they laid eggs without roosters. the egg is certainly an object worthy of this kind of contemplation. when my hens first started laying eggs i was contemplating them plenty. then, like everything else, i began to take them for granted. but now, with only one hen who lays eggs now, i'm remembering their value. buying eggs in a carton robs you of the delicious experience of carrying them in your hands from the laying boxes into the kitchen. they feel like the most exquisite treasure in your hand if you pay attention.
i really loved the studs terkel interview with the waitress delores dante in his book working.
here's just a little part of it:
"...when the plate is down you can hear the sound. i try not to have that sound. i want my hands to be right when i serve. i pick up a glass, i want it to be just right. i get to be almost oriental in the serving. i like it to look nice all the way.
to be a waitress, it's an art. i feel like a ballerina, too. i have to go between those tables, between those chairs...maybe that's the reason i always stayed slim. it is a certain way i can go through a chair no one else can do. i do it with an air. if i drop a fork, there is a certain way i pick it up. i know that they can see how delicately i do it. i'm on stage."
russian waitress poster may be seen in its glory here.
2. a microscope
3. a telescope
4. a camera obscura
5. a cabinet of inks
6. a beehive
7. a roomful of clocks
8. a memory theatre
9. a set of epiphanies
10. painting lessons
11. a shadow lantern
12. a holga
13. an enormous umbrella
14. a pet tiger
strange, in this picture of my father an i, must be 1968, i only just noticed that the tree isn't decorated. maybe we were about to trim it when the picture was taken, presumably by my mother, who would be jumping ship in a matter of months.
in "the grand hotels," a short story inspired by the works of joseph cornell, robert coover wrote: "childhood is the source and model of all architecture." that line struck me especially, mostly because i have also believed it for some time. this photograph tells me something about why i am hesitant to put holes in the wall in order to hang things up, why it's taken me so long to get down the basics of inhabiting a space. why i am attracted to the lightest objects, why i'm never dressed warmly enough. why i love things that fold up, and words so weighty they seem to almost stand in for the real thing. words like
curator, frock, grandeur, trapeze.
bellhop, scaffold, winter, and shy.
the title of bergman's "sawdust and tinsel" lends much to its overarching and tawdry undertwisting themes. we might add to the list: mirrors, humiliation, clowns, leering onlookers, the circus of unhappy marriage, hypnotism, and other high wire acts. when the movie was first released it was met with a cool and critical reception, called "bergman's vomit" by one critic that he quotes in an interview that is also included on the criterion dvd. but though bergman's is a pessimistic view emphasizing the inherent cruelty in human sexual relationships, the film sparkles and sizzles at every turn.
how can you not love this kind of talk between the equestrian and the sadistic, opportunistic thespian who seduces her : she: "i can ride great geldings bareback at a full gallop holding on with only my thighs."
he: "you smell of stables, cheap perfume and sweat, but i'll lick you clean like a dog."
at one point they arm wrestle to settle who's the stronger.
and the scene that takes place in the tiny trailer between the heavily inebriated frost the clown, the equally intoxicated albert the cuckholded ringmaster, and his gun is amazing. the tragic and grotesque expressions that pass across frost the clown's face are maybe the most unforgettable part.
a sequence of flickr favorites, which you can visit individually here:
1. Yr Hen Wlad: Dydd Gwyl Dewi 2007., 2. B&W Gramophone, 3. be still my beating heart..., 4. Images From Everyday Classics Second Read, Baker & Thorndike, Copyright 1922, 5. 2050_0219s56000072-1
thanks to helen and scamper, this wonderful device has just been brought to my attention.
read more about how it works here.
last week i found an old hamster cage at sacks and decides that it would make a good lampshade. then i got some paper to line it with and glued it all inside. then today i went to the hardware store to get a lamp socket, and the guy who helped me find it took the time to make sure i knew where to put the hot cord and where to put the neutral one. after he explained it all very carefully to me, i put the socket kit in my basket and thanked him, saying that i thought i'd probably be able to figure it out after all of his help. "you're practically an electrician already," he said, "next time i see you you're going to be driving a big truck for your big lamp company, and you'll have tattoos of electric bolts all over your arms."
so i came home and i did it, with a little bit of constructive help from adam. when it was time to plug it in, he teased me that since the whole thing was made of metal, if i had done anything wrong it might be catastrophic. it's true i had to take it apart a couple of times until i got it right. i know it's just a little thing, putting together a lamp socket kit, but it exhilarated me anyway. apparently i'm an easy person to exhilarate.
i would say that makes me a lucky person.
criterion dvd release date: february 19th, 2008.
thanks chris for the heads up.
i came up with an idea to help counteract the problem we all have of forgetting to bring our cloth bags into the grocery store when we go shopping. clothes with bags built in! the bags would fold up in such a way inside a coat or on a dress as to be barely noticeable, but when you needed them, they could be unsnapped or untied to accomodate your groceries. eventually all clothes would have them, just as many clothes have pockets or zippers, it would just be part of the way clothes were made. at first it might feel strange and awkward leaving the grocery store with various enormous lumps under our clothes, but i'm sure people would get used to it, and it would really cut down on the unnecessary bags.
1.) feats of daring, dexterity, and skill
3.) understanding what someone is saying to you in french
4.) comprehending higher math
5.) not losing oneself in an eddy
6.) reaching a key that is just out of reach when you're locked in a jail cell and the warden is sleeping, but stirring
7.) not telling a rude customer what you really think of him or her
8.) not looking as you drive past an accident
photo found on ffffound.
just a few photos from a flickr photoset that i found utterly beautiful. i found the quote in an article that did not clearly state its sayer.
1. spoon, 2. wan, 3. two bowls, 4. in my room, 5. antique spoon, 6. wan
far-off resonant booms
oxygen (jim's idea)
*things to take on an island with you*
a musical saw
the dictionary in several languages
oil rig (jim's idea)
*things with centers*
russian nesting dolls
the middle ear
algebra (jim's idea)
fear of falling
wonder (wonder = curiosity + doubt)
home shopping network
many other things that are not intrinsically
uninteresting, only uninteresting to me
1.) the muscular bodies of trees
3.) the soothing monotony of telephone lines
4.) irretrievable balloons
5.) pets looking out apartment windows
6.) lucy in the sky with diamonds
"the tour is not a study of buildings, dates, and statistics. it is a study of ourselves." ~timothy "speed" levitch
timothy speed levitch is my newest hero. i watched bennett miller's (now almost ten-year-old) documentary "the cruise" about levitch when he was living in manhattan and guiding tours of the city with the most quirky and celebratory candor and i was instantly smitten. his take on the significance of the landmarks of a city is in stark contrast to the spectacle of tourism as we know it, and reminded me of guy debord's definition of tourism as being "the act of going to see what has already become banal." the glazed-over expressions of many of his passengers do not change a whit all the while that he is saying the funniest and most brilliant of things (though in this particular still of the film, the general blankness of the tourists is not apparent). at times his mannerisms bring to mind other free-spirited characters: willy wonka, charlie chaplin, and his unruly hair brought my affections for georges perec and einstein also into the influence he had on me. though his voice bears a similar peculiarity to woody allen's, i think he is more the antithesis of woody allen than anything else. proof in point:
levitch: "you are better than any party you've ever been to."
allen: "i wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member."
and now, in the last twenty-four hours, i have managed to finish reading levitch's book "speedology: speed on new york on speed." published in 2002, i'd say it was time another edition was released, because it is a very hard [read expensive] book to get into one's hot little hands. the observations of levitch have some of that jouissance of whitman's poems combined with just enough humor, ironic distance and purely interesting factual information, so that reading him bears some resemblance to having someone play really good pinball with your brain. a couple of sentences scoring high:
"Common sense is the department store of the mind."
"the feeling of arrival, that feeling of being grand and central simultaneously, is the sensation of an adventure coming just as you in turn become the adventure's discovery."
"if you're a woman you can consider your whole body a jet engine."
"i completely identify with [magellan]. the major decision of his life was whether to go with or against the wind."