Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I'm less interested in PKD than I was once, but still interested enough to wish to maintain an interpretation of his work that may actually serve it, or the fans.

First of all, the book is not about madness, drugs and death. Valis is about gnosticism, religious experience, and grieving. Unfortunately my current copy is with a friend, so I'll have to recall details from memory. The novel and its protagonist does not at all lack absence of affect, nor is that absence "evidence of psychosis." The reviewer makes the mistake of thinking that to understand the work, we must understand the person. The work has stood on its own as an entertaining and rather strange book for several years before one could look up PKD in the wikipedia. Of course Dick's personal sanity has long been questionable. Fans of the author do not hold that against him.

Sometimes an author writes something not because they think it's true but because it's meant to lead to another truth, it's a deliberate pattern of interweaving oscillations, in other words, meant to highlight relationships between and among points of interest without divulging their ultimate nature or stand-alone quality. It appears that much of the "revelations" of the book can be read that way, and not necessarily read autobiographically. PKD fans usually agree that the most autobiographical novel among his works is the Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Valis itself is given a definition by PKD that is technical, and there is also, if one reads the sci-fi criticism of the era, a technical explanation for what Dick "encountered."

One could look at Valis historically through the following lens: there is the claim in Valis that Richard Nixon is the antichrist. Why would somebody play with that idea in fiction, on one end and then turn around and attempt to revive gnosticism on the other, when the politics that helped get Nixon elected relied on a provincial outlook similar to the one expressed in the classical gnostic tradition as elaborated on by early-twentieth century scholars? Was Dick aware of that critical input, or is it just another strange and/or deliberate coincidence? It could be that "gnosticism" is a shorthand concocted by Dick in order to give a quick label to something he experienced which he could not in rational terms describe. We as readers may not know what he meant, but as long as he knew, it's ok, right? However, with the biographical information readily at hand to us today, the possibility presents itself that he did not know either, which helps add to the mystery of the exegesis and the allure of the book altogether. With this in mind, one can allow the biographical information to contribute to the mystery and to curiosity rather than impede it. I personally prefer to read with this attitude and hopefully also convey it.

Also appearing in the book is the notion of the Holographic Universe, a quantum interpretation of reality that, while always a minority view, seems to have fallen further out of favor as of late. This doesn't seem to plug in to Dick's larger teleology, either, since the postulate of Valis-as-independent-being itself by Dick remains a trouble spot for the holographic theory in general -isn't the living intelligence itself a hologram also, in other words? Isn't as well the problem of evil a hologram, not to be as stressed over by the character Kevin in the book as much as PKD has him do?

Despite this technicality, Valis is a fun story that reads quickly and usually serves to remind one of pleasant times spent in vigorous discussion over the ultimate nature of the universe at late-night social encounters among friends. This book makes a crystallization of those discussions, imagining that "it's all connected-wow," in ways which are often humorous, allowing for both pathos and insight. But even these things are not the most interesting parts of the story.

Friday, November 6, 2009


indians. frontier. tea. taxes. revolution. laws. punishment. capital punishment. ben franklin. inventions. original sin. deism. chattels. status. slaves. gunpowder. powder.powdered wigs. portraits. empathy. monarchy. rights of man. tight clothing. individualism. novels. autonomy. salons. agriculture. ocean exploration. debt. scurvy. sugar. trade. louis xvi. monarchy. hessians. kant. self-evidence. england. france. ireland. farmers. humanity. enlightenment. rum. silk. men. women. voltaire. rousseau. holland. 18th century. mozart. thomas jefferson. interracial love. manifest destiny. destiny. redcoats. put on a decent shirt and shave. soap. sanitation. bathing. baths. odours. lanterns. quakers. shakers. -ammunitarians. guns. cannon. dueling. cherry oak floors. candle light. green mountain boys. giving a speech. the body. science. secret meetings in swamps. betsy ross. corsets. bonnets. discussion. penal reform. nationalism. handkerchiefs. army almost out of money. the general historie of the pyrates. bayonets. representation. classical. flags. snakes. separatism. dont tread on me. stars. songs. flutes. rockets red glare. all scoundrels (no refuge). horses. horseback riding. barns. battles. more to come.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

California story,8599,1931582,00.html

It's good to see an optimistic article about the economy of California. Trouble is, these are all nascent industries (that are supposed to "lead the pack"). Any question I have of someone saying they are spearheading the future out there, or something similar is: are you hiring?
How many jobs is the guy with the taco truck really creating?

And in my opinion, there are really four Californias: southern, northern, Silicon Valley and the Interior. In this way southern really means the coast from Santa Barbara south. These regions all have their own needs and ideological buttresses, a point made about 30 years ago that unlike solar, has not quite caught on. The article claims that through clean energy efforts, the state already saved 56 billion dollars. Really? Where did that money go? Maybe by saved they mean something else, a point on the flaky language skills that are coming out of the troubled public education system. P.S. Kaiser does not often get rave reviews either.

Once in a while I hear something like: why don't they just put 500,000 solar panels in the Mojave desert and power the whole friggin country? Well, let me ask you this - who is going to drive out there and service it when something goes wrong? And whose panels are they going to be? Will they be America-made or maybe Japanese, German or Israeli models? The claim that SunPower makes the best panels in the world is, from someone who is familiar with the industry - debatable. However, if you are a homeowner and you've ever thought about going solar, there's never been a better time to look into it. The incentives have never been better. (You can ask your local utility company about the Go Green Program! :))

California is a place where as soon as something goes wrong with the romance, they just get rid of the romance and get a new one. So its kind of like Hegel's antithesis never occurs. I don't believe that's a model of behavior that should be an example set for the rest of the country - America as leader of no-fault divorce-type-behavior.

Computer tech is, in geological terms, still a nascent industry. Things go wrong and oh well! let's throw our money into real estate and property development instead! Something's gone wrong? Oh well - throw our money into clean tech! What this article is not saying is that like in many other gold rushes of the state's past, the person "throwing their money" is some capital investor from outside the state, and those larger numbers who have been dislocated by changes in the industry -whichever industry it is - are just moving along so that they can survive and keep chasing the dream.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

sometimes I'm boring

and think of boring things, like brass:

and now, a brassy poem:

does the brass of embodiment
lead to the commodification of the brass?
because brass continually rubs up against it
that is, the jumbo spring system

and if it does, what does that mean for the brassmen?
removes shine and possibly luster
because brassism was already entuba-fied
today they avoid all doorknobs and bedposts

why bother with the right handed brass fantasy
when someone can just seize a brass of means
with relative ease, sounds traveling finger pressure

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Baudelaire, today:


In Nature's temple living pillars rise,
and words are murmured none have understood
and man must wander through a tangled wood
of Symbols watching him with friendly eyes.

As long-drawn echoes heard far off and dim
mingle to one deep sound and fade away;
vast as the night and brilliant as the day
colour and sound and perfume speak to him

Some perfumes are as fragrant as a child
sweet as the sound of hautboys, meadow-green
Others, corrupted, rich, exultant, wild

Have all the expansion of things infinite:
as amber, incense, musk and benzoin,
which sing the sense's and the soul's delight


Thursday, September 17, 2009


don't fish the stick-ups. metaphors are one thing, upgrading one's software is another. open to discussions on practicality. on all levels. oh hai - didn't see you there. i'm here to tell you that in the future, there will be future. he's sleeping it off. this is the common response to problems. i can't because i have to take care of people even more selfish than me. when one is responsible with the symbols, one gets the knowledge, maybe. a boomerang is a better model. leather-bound volumes still make me happy. nothing too different from what has already been invested into. (the devil that i know) biochemistry changes, climate a factor. only four miles from the famous one. still looking for the 60s version. new age means at a fundamental level 'you can heal yourself.' needed a hobby. twenty gets eighty. every industry. dream in which Robert Nozick appeared at a carnival. it was never 'kill mom, marry dad.' the gladness of invisible boats. buenos zebra. even frozen foods go bad. can you not do that, please? its a consequence of the actual ability to walk on both sides. don't lasso the names. don't lasso anything. to stop holding up puppets. more of an adventurous, more of a curious. two prototypes. framing begets more framing. starts reaching across me. turning into a little boy. not waiting for steve. aim high. assumptions don't make an ass - they in fact make nothing. it likely will not be read. a waiter serving empty plates. more dad issues. check the thermostat. gimmicks. he actually didn't care if they got caught, and it matters. how to get the lights to come on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Didn't care for Tarantino's new movie, Inglourious Basterds. His shtick is just getting old - all the thoroughly-measured conversations, the lengthy dueling set-ups, the sullen yet determined femme fatales (was Uma Thurman busy?), and then punching the audience in the face. Then the soundtrack steps in to carry us through exterior scenes - ooo was that mariachi horns we just heard sound over the French countryside? Like satellite radio piped through mall speakers, the typical Tarantino soundtrack means to obliviate the non-consumer exterior environment which makes neurotics nervous for its "lack of productivity." Sorry, I don't see spaghetti western in that. It's gotten lost in the translation.

Some critic wrote that Tarantino is a curator today rather than a creator. I would agree. Kill Bill was more inventive, but not by much. The character deaths are becoming more inventive, which is basically the expected track of the horror director. Maybe QT wishes to go off in that direction for a while, since most of his work today I find horrifying rather than curiously-stimulating like his earlier stuff.

There are entertaining details, but even Valkyrie, which I also didn't like, had better details. The ending was a surprise, so I have to give him points for that.

Tarantino started his career with punching his audience in the face and he's basically staying there, still there, fifteen years later. Hence his growing admiration among the spike tv crowd. I thought Brad Pitt was ridiculous in this movie - maybe his worst role ever - and that the gentleman who played the SS officer was good but not outstanding. The best acting was from the blonde gal who played the spy. Rent this movie if you must, but rent it along with something more satisfying like Bullitt with Steve McQueen. That actually draws you in rather than lets you watch a story you already know from a safe distance like a carnival goer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On the Enjoyment of Unpleasant Places

by Robert L. Stevenson.
I happened to enjoy this essay, and the website, and did not find them at all unpleasant.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The World is Curved, by D. Smick

A very interesting read for people who wish to examine the financial situation, and how it got that way. Most informative are the chapters that discuss the effects of Sarbanes-Oxley on New York and London, and of the Basel Standards in general.

An excerpt from p. 34:

"the world today is moving away from globalization and unfettered free markets of recent decades toward something more reminiscent of the nineteenth-century model of globalization - a new, more mercantilist era of backroom rivalries, deal-making, and tensions based on ambitious political agendas and capital shifts controlled by governments."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

dictated by Time Magazine (monster vision)

All I need to write for Time Magazine is the ability to construct sentences such as this:

Or was it something insidious and, perhaps, even carnivorous like the man-eating jello from the old Steve McQueen movie that inspired the Alaskan phenomenon's nickname?

Yeah, MAY-BE, bro...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Les Fleurs du Mal

Very much enjoying, this weekend, The Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire. Outstanding miniatures, far ahead of his time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

the moment before

In theatre, you can choose to direct with something in mind called The Moment Before. This was developed as a "guidepost" out of the experience of the Broadway casting director Michael Shurtleff.

His book Audition, first published in 1978, wherein he explains his theory of the guideposts, and for the purpose of this treatment his concept of The Moment Before:

In the audition situation most actors come onstage to read for a role with very little moment before. The result is that it takes them most of the reading to get warmed up. By the time they are, they've lost the attention of the auditors. Never before does an actor need the moment before more desperately than in the audition situation. But an actor needs a fully developed moment before every time he steps onstage to start a scene. You've seen many of these performances where we say, "He wasn't so good at first, but after he got going he was fine." A good actor doesn't wait to get going; he comes on with it because he already had it going in the wings.

Shurtleff wants to help an actor remember that before anything happens in a scene, something happens. Then the director with this in mind tells the actor: What was it ?- Go there, be that, do that, have those memories, play that action in your mind and/or physically - "crowd the guy" - or whatever it was that happened. Center yourself on what came before the scene for this particular character in this particular situation, and now you're ready for the scene.

In the previous drama of October, I got to employ this for one character's introduction - when the inventor comes out onto the stage to talk about his invention. Not written into the script itself, not obvious, but a creative choice made to enhance the show, I asked - what happens the moment before he comes out? He gets stage fright. So what does he think of? His wife, his home, his pets, the weather, simple things. Working with the script, translated these things into psychology and then into actions. And it went over well, also largely due to the innate comic abilities of the actor himself.

Let me back up to the GAP ads I posted from August for a moment, ignoring the first GAP ad for a second, and dwelling on the second one.

In advertising what we often recall as viewers, if we recall anything, is the label or brand of the product, and the essential function of the ad. We remember that its the GAP and that the function of the ad is to sell their pants and sweaters. If we're paying a little more attention, we can be impressed by the content of the ad, the cheery people -even if its a manufactured, "acted" cheeriness, or the choreography. And, we might even recall some college text we read about advertising, the medium is the message, and so on.

But, if we had any kind of liberal education whatsoever, we more likely remember something about corporate power. Maybe we read Chomsky or Adbusters, or we might have even done some research on our own and discovered enough ethical question marks in the legacy of corporate business entities to warrant suspicion of any product or service produced by such an entity. We could, for example, default to a kind of rump dismissal of any message sent to us by such an entity, as offensive to our aesthetic sensibilities in the least. Or, we may wish to be pragmatic about it all, and act as though there's no real distinction between a corporate power and an independent one, other than how much money is in their respective bank accounts.

This GAP ad campaign was difficult to view in the non-pragmatic way, however, because it did not lack aesthetics! Viewing them over and over, you have to admit there is an aesthetic quality to them. Now if I want to say something about the advertisement, I need to go to the signs and the symbols within it, and the elements of production that allow the ad to temporally exist. And what are those?

There is the subject within the ad - the model who dances. Ok, but if I go there my critical discourse may become locked in an issue of a body, and the beauty of that body. Does my listener/reader have that body, or do they not? Do they have some aspects of that body but not others? Is there a disagreement about the beauty of that body, statuesque v. rubenesque, too tall or too short, etc.?

There is the production: the ad as it happens. Diegetic chess can then occur, in a non-oppositional way, as in the engendering of discussions over what does the director mean by these angles and lighting choices? Wow nice editing, etc.

There is the product, then. In the ads themselves, we often never get to see the product too closely, it is usually just suggested to us. But this can be a trouble spot also, because we might ask, even if we can discern what the product is, well, where's it made? How are their labor conditions? What is it made out of - are those all-natural products? And how do I know I can really afford it unless I walk into the GAP itself?

There are the results of the ad that allow someone to look at it statistically, objectively. Did it increase business, or did people contact the company to say they liked it or didn't like it? Did sales of the displayed items, khakis or whatever it was, go up? Likely though we as consumers would not be privileged to that information, so we can only declare how the ads themselves make us feel. Out of this kind of small-scale market sample, however, we can't much evaluate the quality of the ad from hearing of my point of view versus yours, assuming those are even oppositional views.

We can imagine that postmodern extrapolations are an expression of a certain urban fantasy, not to say the fantasy is exactly false, there may be much that's true in it, but it appears as a kind of collective myth that assigns guilt or glory, or even neutrality, by association. (That is, if I understand the concept of postmodern fantasy correctly). Going to the first ad for a second, you can watch the skateboarders, hear the music, and imagine a technologically-sophisticated body moving the machinery and controls that's putting everything in motion, and that body may be someone you know, or it may be a stereotype.

Or, I can hear the voice of the recording artist and see the dancers and recall a certain drumming session I witnessed, seen outdoors, elsewhere, and now -maybe- I have a different physical image, do I not? I could say - well, so what? Its harmony! But is that a true harmony, or does this harmony only "exist" because of the "magnanimous" overlooking of the corporate entity known as the GAP, and their desire to offer their products as a racial or social solvent? Once again, arguments about the body, the city, and positions of subjects within certain fantasies that are set in motion by a powerful force can appear. (The point about "false social solvents" has been made before in studies on advertising) Fie on this approach.

We can then observe an eschatological choice offered in the overall "message" of the ad, at least by the first ad. In the second one, the choice is clear - if you want to have a merry Christmas, you'll shop at the GAP, won't you? But in the first ad you can present yourself with the problem of how do I launch myself into space, and outfit my dominion with designer wear at the same time? We know its an advertisement, because no one wears pants like those when they're on a ramp. But the question presents itself not so much in 97 or 98, or whenever the ad came out, but in hindsight, since we know so often that the two goals are becoming mutually exclusive. Its like - how can I eat whatever I want, and never gain weight? Well, you can for thirty seconds if you're part of a GAP ad. The ad ends, we go back to our regularly scheduled programming, and its like you never ate anything! Or did you? Is there an uncomfortable narration about sacrifice that can walk through the back door of this approach -? yes it can.

When it comes to any media analysis, I'd like to simply shelve these rationalizations and consider The Moment Before, by itself. The Moment Before the ad is produced is where the energy is, creatively and otherwise. Once the ad is made, we can only look at it through one of these filters I mentioned above, see if it checks the boxes on our list of political correctness items, or dismiss it with a neo-marxist wave of the hand. "Bah! Corporate conformity!"

In the moment before, there is a vast territory. We don't have to worry about being right, we only have to see what actually happens, from our own point of view. We have to be there in order to know the moment before, we can't download it. We may see conversations about what's for lunch (was it lamb?), we may see the mind at work of the producer or the dancer or the casting director, we may just see the set and that's enough to tell us what's going on, if we seek reportage, or to inspire us, if we seek an aesthetic reception and/or transmission.

It may not be literally necessary to be there, or even physically possible. Maybe we can merely remember what someone tells us in conversation, but to be believed we should try to be there at the moment before the ad, or whatever it is that's moving our art, happens. There is so much more information, more tension, more romance, more possibility, in the moment before than in the detached, cerebral analysis of the moment after. All that narration - who cares? I want to hear about a day in the life of a dancer. I want to see the sweat on their brow, their humiliation when a higher-up dismisses them, or when they look across the aisle at someone in an equally noncreative blue sweater and think i love this so much, i would do it even if not paid etc? Everything that happens the moment before someone tells them to take their places and says "standby - lights ready, lights up."

The rote commands that get an actor to turn left or right on ice skates, pirouette etc, the directives of the production itself, those are necessary for choreography, but they are not as interesting for writers, at least not for me. By choosing to see a creative opening in the process of the production and not the product, the moment before the product itself is made, we not only give ourselves more freedom creatively, but we may even notice a pivot or statement expressed wherein something in the process itself is apparent to our critical boxes, and then so checked in our minds as such.

If my creative work is relayed through thoughts and thoughts on thoughts after the fact of whatever moved me to write initially, I'm much stricter about what I write, because I understand this then to be an effort of journalism first -reportage on my experience- and expression second, in which case I ought to have something really groundswelling or distinct to say.

All of this is written not as a totality of what I myself mean to say creatively, but as what can be derived from theatrical production before the product is itself made. More alchemical, and less photojournalistic. Good theatre is when someone is immersed in the role and the emotions of the character, bad theatre is when someone is interested in being photographed being in the role. If photography must appear, let it appear for something where there is a genuine alchemical difficulty in expressing it directly, or even indirectly. For this reason, I created the character of the Singer in my other play, The Boy Who Liked Me. While the other characters are fluid in the play, the Singer stays put (for a while) and merely sings the words "the boy who liked me." This is because the boy who liked "me" in the play, a woman who exor-cises her thoughts on the boy throughout, is an alchemical difficulty for her character. The Singer works as a photograph of a thought that is stuck until the humor appears in the story to unstick it.

This may seem very elementary or even common-sensical for theatre, but I've seen plenty of productions where there seems to be very little thought given to it. When it is, though, sometimes you can see a difference. You can see where the actor has done work, that can appear in the pauses before or between the action(s). These moments before decisions are made to surrender, or command, or give, or sometimes a combination of all three, can reveal human weakness and vulnerability, and it may be for that alone that choices to "go there" are not always popular, substituted instead for results-oriented, ultra-confident me who appears to Judge the World through Stage.

But The Moment Before can assist then both in analysis, and in creativity, in addition to what it can also provide on the stage. I'll go ahead and recommend Audition by Michael Shurtleff here, because each of the guideposts for actors that he relays throughout this very small book can initiate thoughts on creative work similar to those above, or better. I've had it for ten years and always enjoyed it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I've had to withdraw from the June production of theatrical fun at Lemon Grove, due to mostly casting and logistical problems. I'm still getting a minor credit.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Today I mistrust Agamben's writing also, because when I read it I have to reference the law, and when you reference the law you encounter things that divide. Its kind of like the problem with islamic sharia - when I look at differences in their law in comparison to ours I find things that are divisive, but if I look at arab architecture instead, now there's something I can work with in terms of dialogue (with my neighbor).

Monday, June 1, 2009

San Diego post

Well, you can't beat the weather.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Vampire is not an everyday occurrence

Initially I had a lot of thoughts on this, but now just digesting it. Overall glad there is someone pursuing these topics. Enjoyable, but it strikes me as flawed in this regard: if we can't make the private sector safe for democracy, we likely cannot make democracy safe for the private sector. Lack of safety is the point, but how can you sell a theory where lack of safety is the goal? Are there people interested in that on this continent? Won't the insurance companies squawk when you start to re-occupy the warehouse? You would have to do it capoeira style.

Its ok if you're going to move in lofts and a hookah deli, but..beastliness, vampires, uh oh...i wonder about how the reviewer might approach questions of what aggression for profit would look like as distinct from aggression against it. Not why the aggression, but how.

linked from the blog of Mr. Quarles:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

apocalypse mall

the tendency, when confronted with bad news in every direction, to go shopping.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


In general lately I have been reading less poetry and more fiction and nonfiction. But I have read some works lately of Sharon Olds, d.a.levy and Clayton Eshleman. Also, in longer-form I've read some of Dostoevsky and Isak Dinesen. I read Harry, Revised by Mark Sarvas.

Monday, May 18, 2009


by Alice Notley

I like this a lot. Don't you know who you sound like? yeah I've heard that in many writers groups. It might be a resemblance to Grover C. Anderson maybe? Which is worse, that, or when someone says with just a glance: 'you don't sound like anyone I know and therefore I'm scared of you. are you a muslim or something?'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Japan revisited

In which Madsen and Katz write on the economic situation and its parallels, or lack thereof. (in Foreign Affairs)

Feminism and writing

Glad to see new thoughts on this (in various places)
Here, mostly:

I don't have any conclusions to draw for now, other than that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

One Year and Thanks for the Readers

Hello readers of skyplumber/pillar.

I've noticed recently this blog has been in existence for over a year now and the profile has received just over 1,400 views. I want to thank my readership and let you know there is more in store for this next -fiscal so to speak- year of this blog. I especially want to thank the wish-to-remain anonymous individuals who sent me gifts and have encouraged me to keep writing. There have not been a lot of you, so I appreciate your generosity that much more.

For those who have linked to my blog, thank you also. If you have linked to me, or pick up my feed, I more likely know who you are and I still do read you as well. I may put up a new link to names in the future. Right now though, I don't want to, mostly because I have felt in the last few months a kind of shifting of allegiances within myself personally, and a kind of relaxation into being ok with those things.

Friday, April 17, 2009

the rose

hooray for roses, and Williams.

don't you wish you could write like that? I do. This kind of thing inspires one to seek out new modes of expression. Someday I think I can do vaudeville and power chords until I'm blue in the face, but there is more.

a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
the yellow rose of texas
ode to a downfallen rose
every rose has its thorn
there is a rose in spanish harlem
bread and roses
moses supposes his toses are roses
blue rose of Novalis
war of the roses

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Picasso's dream of Franco

linked from Jerome Rothenberg:


Also, I was reminded of this:

Luke 11:24-36

An Unclean Spirit Returns

24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

BUT WHO AM I TO JUDGE, RIGHT? "tolerance, tolerance" oh yeah. What one person describes as tolerance I usually see as apologetics.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring & All

oh yeah, that

I have in fact read some things out of Spring & All, just pieces of it, never the whole thing.

And always liked this poem by Williams, which has been analyzed oodles of times.


As the cat
Climbed over
The top of

The jamcloset
First the right

Carefully then the hind
Stepped down
Into the pit of
The empty

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Japan pt III

how did they do it?

banking laws relaxed, credit bubble

kind of like now

we don't have the duality in our culture that he mentions however, we have a plurality.,9171,1884815,00.html

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Williams: edited on Sunday

Once again considering the latest from Ron's fabulous blog:

This time it is a passage from Williams, whose Spring and All I haven't read:

(W)e are beginning to discover the truth that in great works of the imagination A CREATIVE FORCE IS SHOWN AT WORK MAKING OBJECTS WHICH ALONE COMPLETE SCIENCE AND ALLOW INTELLIGENCE TO SURVIVE


When in the condition of imaginative suspense only will the writing have reality . . . – Not to attempt, at that time, to set values upon the word being used, according to presupposed measures, but to write down that which happens at that time –

thoughts of Ferlinghetti here - poet as tightrope walker, although really this sounds very journalistic

To perfect the ability to record at the moment when the consciousness is enlarged by the sympathies and the unity of understanding which the imagination gives, to practice skill in recording the force moving, then to know it, in the largeness of its proportions –

It is the presence of a

This is not “fit” but a unification of experience

That is, the imagination is an actual force comparable to electricity or steam, it is not a plaything but a power that has been used from the first to raise the understanding of – it is not necessary to resort to mysticism – In fact it is this which has kept back the knowledge I seek –

yes. I usually think of mysticism as a possible, one of many, starting points, but too often its made into a finishing line, end in itself

The value of the imagination to the writer consists in its ability to make words. Its unique power is to give created forms reality, actual existence

This separates

Writing is not a searching about in the daily experience for apt similes and pretty thoughts and images. I have experienced that to my sorrow. It is not a conscious recording of the day’s experiences “freshly and with the appearance of reality” – This thing is seriously to the development of any ability in a man, it fastens him down, makes him a – It destroys, makes nature an accessory to the particular theory he is following, it blinds him to his world, –

diary entries may actually prevent writing then? They may prevent good or interesting writing. I'm thinking of hyper-realistic indie films - Kevin Smith comes to mind. Then here is what actually happened, then here, then here..commodity-fetishism makes more sense in this light - nature as accessory to theory, the theory being - these stories are Real and we need Real because we need to punk the liars. Well, sometimes you do, although personally I don't see how Kevin Smith films served anybody but the people who starred in them. Except Chasing Amy -that was clever! But if Williams really thinks this is true how is it then science can be "completed" through works of the imagination, when in science you need a conscious recording of the day's experiences


The writer of imagination would find himself released from observing things for the purpose of writing them down later. He would be there to enjoy, to taste, to engage the free world, not a world which he carries like a bag of food, always fearful lest he drop something or someone get more than he.

A word detached from the necessity of recording it, sufficient to itself, removed from him (as it most certainly is) with which he has bitter and delicious relations and from which he is independentmoving at will from one thing to anotheras he pleases, unbound

and the unique proof of this is the work of the imagination not “like” anything but transfused with the same forces which transfuse the earthat least one small part of them.

Nature is the hint to composition not because it is familiar to us and therefore the terms we apply to it have a least common denominator quality which gives them currencybut because it possesses the quality of independent existence, of reality which we feel in ourselves. It is not opposed to art but apposed to it.

I suppose Shakespeare’s familiar aphorism about holding the mirror up to nature has done more harm in stabilizing the copyist tendency of the arts among us than

the mistake in it (though we forget that it is not S. speaking but an imaginative character of his) is to have believed that the reflection of nature is nature. It is not. It is only a sham nature, a “lie.”

Of course S. is the most conspicuous example desirable of the falseness of this very thing.

He holds no mirror up to nature but with his imagination rivals nature’s composition with his own.

He himself becomes “nature” – continuing “its” marvels – if you will

this last part on Shakespeare is very interesting because it really walks into the discussion about art-as-commodity, toward which I think marxist critique can be useful. When the mirror is held up to nature long enough, eventually one sees a beast gazing back, but there is still innocence in something like a still-life painting of fruit, or what-have you. There is a continuum of appropriation of "the natural" then. I think an artist or writer should attempt to be conscious of what they think their reader can be responsible with. Many folks would just prefer to avoid the kind of caretaker/codependent complexities which can emerge from wrestling with this by accepting the "sham" as good enough. I'd rather shop at IKEA, for example, if its convenient, because it just takes too much work to be conscientious of where all these products come from and who's getting paid what to make them. I tend to think nature's quality of existence is not independent from us but interwoven with us. IKEA has begun to understand this also, now working on a more eco-friendly product line.

Recently re-read Philosophy of Furniture by Poe and thinking of the vast difference in associations between feng shui practitioner and interior decorator. The first is very fluffy, new agey and graceful while the second is stiff, flamboyant and/or judgmental. Either way, does my home need a caretaker who can come tell me how to cure my living space of the sickness of bad taste? There is nothing about IKEA's "imagination" that rivals "nature's composition with its own." But that's why people shop there. Since I am not an interior decorator I don't care much what happens in the world of furniture, but if I happen to write a book that goes on a coffee table, do I want it to blend in with the table or stand out? :::::HOW TO SURVIVE INTERNET ACCIDENTS: worst-case scenario, by Doug:::::

Good question. Would they sell Spring and All by Williams at IKEA? Why not? More likely they would sell Shakespeare, because the Bard today is comparatively conservative, even sham-esque, to say, nearly everything coming out of Japan.

I think there's likely an entire fleet of design people who take a similar attitude toward writing - instead of thousands of writers hammering away at their personal idiosyncratic texts, why don't they just take one text that they figure will sell - or has already sold - ten thousand copies and then everyone just pull together and make lots of those?


Some aspects of San Diego theater tend toward family values in this way. I notice the more morally-policed show as a family of four arrives for a total of $50 for the evening. (2 adults at $15 and 2 kids at $10) but if I go to the edgy and groundbreaking theaterful of couples and homosexuals now its just $12-20 per pop, so I already know family-friendly theatre will make me more money. The thing is, on professional level, I have _already_ made this kind of thing.)

I worry about a similar force happening in letters, the IKEA-ization of letters, because really who can say when someone else's writing has "become" nature?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Great Books meme

Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read but didn't finish. Put a big X by those you read and finished.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen ( x)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (x )
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte ( x )
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (x )
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible - ( X, yeah I've probably read every book at least once)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte ( )
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ( )
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X )
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (x)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy ( x)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (X )
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (nah, not complete...)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier ( )
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien ()
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ( )
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ( )
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot ( )
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (x)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald ( X)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ( )
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ( )
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (x)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ( )
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky ( )
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ( X)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (X)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ( )
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (X)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (x)
34 Emma - Jane Austen ()
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen ()
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini ()
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ( )
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ()
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown ( )
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (x)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving ( )
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ()
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X )
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ()
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ( x)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ( )
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel ( X)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (X)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons ()
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen ()
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ( )
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ( )
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ( x)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley ( X)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon ( )
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (x)
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (X)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (X)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ( )
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ()
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ()
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (X)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ( )
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ( )
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville ( x)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens ( x)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett ()
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ( ) But I read his other book
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (x)
76 The Inferno - Dante (X )
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ( )
78 Germinal - Emile Zola ( )
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray ( )
80 Possession - AS Byatt ()
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (X)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ( )
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (x)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ()
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (x)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ( )
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (X)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom ( )
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( X)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ( )
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad ( X)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (X)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ( )
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ( )
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (X)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (x)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

CNBC has the story,vepisode,1

Not news to me. But I wonder if sometimes the state thinks its more cost-effective to just let everyone do their thing than to intervene with enforcement. Maybe they just look for spikes in activity then, which would conceivably be the same thing the renegades look for.

Technology goes one way, the security system goes the other. And now I feel so much like Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. That's just a point that can never stop being made. Is your vision based on movement? They can only see it when it moves, lol

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


this is funny

Friday, February 20, 2009

Anarchist and Detective

links to a review of a lesser-known H.G. Wells story about an anarchist foiling a rational detective, pre-turn of the century, when it appears Wells and Conan Doyle had something of a rivalry going on. Usefully illustrates Wells' point about irrationality prevailing in a criminal environment. And by that token, Sherlock Holmes was a square. Odd how later Wells went for the 'rationality' of communism. But that's not really the point.

I think in the course of Bush's America, the anarchist and the detective have become separated - they are now two people usually, whereas during the 90s I can recall some acquaintances who were both - I don't think Wells' story has any reference to current events other than it may suggest a clue as to how the two can be re-forged.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I have material in a theatrical show appearing in June, in the nearby city of Lemon Grove.
2 comedy plays, 10-min plays, and I may also direct a one-act in this show, we'll see.

This is a new theater, they don't have a website up yet, so for now I'll just link to the Lemon Grove City Hall website.

more details to come

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Big Sister is watching

This photo of Drew Barrymore done up to look like Marlene Dietrich is on the wall of the local Red Robin.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


An enjoyable reading last night in San Diego, featuring the highly-successful women of Les Figues Press. Standing room only.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Another link from HCP, hermeneutics and 'speculative grammar'

whew-wipes brow- a lot of names in there, many people I haven't read.

I've often thought speculative grammar, just by itself, can give us ways to 'think around' the constraints that we may perceive to be binding or limiting us, or just because its funny and clever to use them once you see the use in them, slang of the african-american diaspora for example, that one can pick up on by going to poetry slams - even though you would likely remain the epitome of white bread once you try to apply it in a performance context, haha

Never knew there was a term for it, though.

significatio passiva - interesting concept. Attributes of God only have import when they appear in us - correct? Directs attention away from the iconography of roman or orthodox approaches, maybe, toward the subject.

an excerpt:

"that which we truly understand, is never other than that by which we are tried, that which we undergo, which we suffer and toil with in our very being. Hermeneutics does not consist in deliberating upon concepts, it is essentially the unveiling or revelation of that which is happening within us..."


Then, there is the Modist project of Thomas of Erfurt and his collaborators , which supposedly influenced Heidegger:

The heart of the Modist project is the assumption that there is a triadic or parallel relationship between word, concept, and thing. Meaning is based proximately on understanding but ultimately on being. According to Thomas of Erfurt:

Every mode of signifying is from some property of the thing. Concerning the second thing to be noted, that since such notions or modes of signifying are not fictions, it must be that every mode of signifying radically originates from some property of the thing. This is plain thus: since the intellect, in order to signify, imposes the voice under some mode of signifying, it considers the property itself of the thing from which it originally drew the mode of signifying; this is because the intellect, since it is a passive power indeterminate of itself, does not advance to a determinate act unless it is determined from another source. Whence since it imposes the voice in order to signify under the determinate mode of signifying, it is necessarily moved by a determinate property of the thing; therefore some property of a thing, or mode of being of a thing, corresponds to any mode of signifying. (DMS, 2.4; Bursill-Hall: 3)

The connection of all this to Heidegger intrigues me, since he keeps popping into my daily ruminations. The understanding of Being is possible given only an event - this is key in Heidegger. This may mean that good journalism makes an understanding of Being possible.
uh huh, right. :)

But here is the possible connection to the significatio passiva - this is the event of an attribute of God becoming present in an individual. I could take this to mean, among other things, that words and concepts are at the least, not fixed - but some degree of free speech is valued by a rebel to stand opposed to the fixedness - which may in Heidegger's early theological approaches be a way for him to stand apart from the Catholic clergy, who at least in services repeat the same tracts over and over, ad nauseum. Although to me, the attribute communicated and valued in such services - mass for example, is the constancy of God, not a demand on our own behavior. This is the kind of thing taken for granted today but I suppose it could have been quite the bogey at one time, speculative grammar equals heresy, and so on.

Believing in God is a difficulty but I do keep a door open for the unexplained.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

war against imagination, linked from HCP

This is linked from the Henry Corbin Project:

I remember reading this DiPrima piece aloud at a reading in Oakland - 02 I think,and it got a mixed response. Part of the problem was that the event organizers, I learned later, were losing the warehouse where they were keeping everyones paintings, and where incidentally this reading was occurring, so maybe they felt at that evening that the war against the imagination had taken a blow. But it could have just been that girls feel like this is more of a girl poem and boys shouldnt be performing it.

But it could be more of a faux pas in terms of the legacy, and by that I mean DiPrima is making more of a Culture War-relevant statement about the imperiled Imagination, and since I wasnt really groovin past Henry Huggins in 1985, when it was written, I cant really speak to it, although today I feel like I understand the arguments.

Originally I heard of the poem through a friend. I dont know how the war against the imagination fares for him today. I dont hang out with poets, he told me once.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trees Matter

reading again on Ron's the post on trees, the jacaranda poem of Mrs. Armentrout

its a nice poem, yeah the trees make a difference in the creative culture too. I'm not sure how much - I wouldn't say the ideal San Diego person is 'beautiful, but not serious' isn't that more of the ideal L.A. person? Yep. But in L.A. there are palms everywhere. In L.A. then people are more thorny and individualistic..? well hm. Trees make a difference in how people think of their environment.

If you were a tree, what tree would you be?

I don't know, but once in a while I imagine living in a place where there are a lot of trees, and canopy overhead, walking underneath it. In the city where I grew up, one day I came back to see that all the eucalyptus had been cut down. I guess they endanger native animals or something, but they were always used for windbreakers back in the old days, to prevent erosion on large stretches of property before it could be developed. And they were awesome to look at, 50 or so feet tall - lined up together in a row. Much better to look at then some ghastly mini-mall- the Sandwich Hut! (hooray..)

For me, trade is ok, but I never liked property development. Because they cut down whatever trees are there and put in these little halfling birch or something. Which is kind of a nice tree once it grows up, but you need about twenty years to wait for it.

Also in the town where I grew up they used to have walnut orchards. You would dig down just a few inches and find shells everywhere. There are still orange and lemon orchards - in neat rows of course, but you have to drive out into the country. At one time almost all of San Fernando Valley - that was our neighbor valley, was orange orchards, and to get to L.A. you had to take a pass through the mountains because there was no freeway yet. That was before my time.

In the mountains of the north county there are pine, and the pine has its own unique beauty, but you can't grow anything around them because they make the ground too acidic. Ponderosa - that is quite the tree.

In L.A. too, more toward the north side they had avocado orchards, but when the developers came in they didn't always take the tree out, so sometimes in some places in older L.A., Pasadena or whatnot, when you go in the backyard there is a big avocado tree there - and the avocados are entirely good to go. Those trees make a terrific canopy - always 10 degrees cooler underneath, plenty of shade, and the dirt that is produced underneath the leaves that bunch up in piles and have to be raked has a musty odor.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Omnitopia & Borges

from a reader email

thank you!

(thinks to my-self: wondering how omnitopia can be thought of as narrative or non-narrative - the aleph as a "happening" or maybe more of a cosmological constant, or as just a shorthand for understanding a phenomenon, like the Nietzschean "abyss")

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Donnie Darko

This film was recommended to me by a relative, and I can after viewing it see why it has a cult following. It's a teen movie, but it's smart enough for adults; it's a paranormal science fiction piece, kind of a souped-up Twilight Zone. Jake Gyllenhaal performs the role of Donnie with considerable skill, there are also highly enjoyable performances from Drew Barrymore as an earnest English teacher and Patrick Swayze as a two-faced self-help guru. Spoilers follow.

It's the story however that is the most compelling. Is Donnie crazy, or has he just somehow accessed a parallel dimension? At first we're not sure. He has medication to take for emotional problems, he sees a menacing 6ft tall rabbit named Frank who tells him, among other things, that the world will end in 28 days. The falling of a dangerous object from the sky provokes him into exploring the feasibility of time travel, and there is also a charming romance interwoven with the rest of the plot.

Much like the director of Ghost, (another film starring Patrick Swayze - why is Patrick Swayze always getting involved in films with emotional intensity bordering on the manipulative?) the director of this film seeks to manipulate your emotions throughout the story, in order to build sympathy for certain characters, only to reveal an eschatological gotcha! at the end. I don't mind it though because the messages are so sweet and indulgent in that let's-relive-our-high-school-drama kind of way. Ah if only for a time machine, ha ha.

I didn't have much difficulty grasping the scientific theory presented as an explanation for all the strange events -it seems plausible that the universe could have evolutionary forks that collapse upon themselves in the same way that the biosphere does. The questions would be then - how do they happen? How often? And at what speed? Speed is something often useful to keep in mind when viewing or reading science fiction of any kind. But those are good questions for the intellectually curious.

Its hard to shake the image of the rabbit in this movie as no less than demonic, since there is another film that came out about the same time in which the rabbit is a devilish figure. But does the rabbit save Donnie or want to kill him? The interplay that Donnie has with this shadowy spirit guide is less easy to explain, even when the science appears at the end of the film to sort of "explain it." (they made me do it - carved in front of the atrocious school mascot by Donnie-as-prankster: well, who? There's just one rabbit - we know he doesn't mean "they" in that persecuted-loner kind of way)

At first it appears that the story means to send a message about drug use in America - it all takes place in 1988, and there is the debate televised between Dukakis and Bush 41 in which they mention radically different approaches to drug policy and Latin America. Donnie himself seems at least mildly damaged by his own medication. Does the writer mean to suggest that the "end of the world"that Frank the Rabbit describes is the perfect rapture of the police state brought on by the imminent succession of HW Bush to the presidency, and the Left's resulting capitulation - better expressed in my opinion by the Batman films - or is this just another one of these high school "fantasies" that is expressed scientifically at the end of the film as a mere "tangent universe" along with other such fantasies that step into that universe during the film - such as an English teacher who really gets you, pranksters flooding the school until it closes, and making love to the prettiest girl in the class on Halloween night?

In other words the director means to ask us which universe is the tangent and which one is normal/better? Where is a position of manipulation, and what is just a prank? There is enough comedy in the film too so one can laugh while thinking about these things.