Distribution Automatique

Saturday, July 9

Poetry as Thinking

Interesting discussion right now on

Bemsha Swing {click here}
What Kasey seems to be suggesting is that
Jonathan is preaching to the
choir-and that, in some ways, all contemporary
poetry readers are basically in that choir already.

Whether or not poetry is a kind of thinking
(what happened to feeling-or imagining- or pretending- or
listening?) for the readers Jonathan is talking about-
poetry must- like any kind of verbal construct- be
understandable- or better yet, be completely decipherable;
the poet is creating- or miming- or evoking- a system,
hopefully a unique one, but one that in the best cases is
reducible to that which is always already present in the
world's knowledge base. In other words, these readers would
completely agree that poetry is a form of thinking- but thinking
that is eminently decipherable or decodable as must be any
form of *rational* thinking. Otherwise it is nonsense-
or worse yet, irrational nonsense.

For Wittgenstein, I see that poetry and
music create a kind of language.

He says [in *Zettel*]: "A poet's words can pierce us. And
that is of course *causally* connected with the
use that they have in our life. And it is also connected
with the way in which, comfortably to this use, we let
our thoughts roam up and down in
the familiar surroundings of the words."

For me, the key word here is *familiar.*

Without doubt, I would side with the group that
considers poetry a form of thinking-
But I want more.
I enjoy it most when poetry strives to
create a context in which readers-
in attending to the process of connecting with the poems-
also feel emboldened to construct their own modes of thinking, that
is - to further develop the ability- and the desire: *to think for oneself.*
For me, poetry is one crucial jumping off point in that pursuit- but
not the only one- or even necessarily the most effective one
sometimes. Although I've participated in a couple of schools
of poetry myself- including for awhile- the latter day New York School-
i am apparently not quite as interested as Jonathan might be- at the present
time anyway-
in school construction and maintenance
or poetry career construction and maintenance, for
that matter. This hierarchy-building and
team-building stuff sometimes gets on my nerves,
quite frankly. Poets
need schools because "no one listens to poetry."
But poetry school membership can exact
a painful price-especially in the
thinking for oneself department.

Thinking for oneself is not as easy as it sounds.
Some might picture this idea
as a kind of pragmatism, or rationality.
What I am getting at is efficacy in an attempt to encompass
all of one's experience-the world's experience-as it unfurls-
by extending the parameters of the limits of one's
understanding- which invariably comes around to
including self-transformation- the willingness to
accept change-particularly difficult change-
the essence of learning. I wish I could state
this a little less pretentiously- but sheez, it's
2:45 am!
Gustaf Sobin dead at 70

Some work was published in

Facture 1 {click here}

Boston Review {click here}

Shearsman 53 {click here}

I remember
very much enjoying the gentle,
self-reflexive work published by this fine poet in
*Temblor* in the 80's.

War is the Health of the State {click here}
. Critique
of patriotic hysteria by Randolph Bourne (1918).
via wood s lot
wood s lot {click here}

Eileen Tabios has an author page at

Ahadada Books {click here}
With characteristic modesty,
she discloses the author
photo is 7 years old!

Friday, July 8

Love Is Not A Feeling

"504. Love is not a feeling. Love is put to the test,
pain not. One does not say: "That was not true
pain, or it would not have gone off so quickly!"

"656. To be ashamed of a thought. Is one ashamed
at the fact that one has spoken such-and-such a
sentence in one's imagination?
Language is variously rooted: it has roots, not a single
root. [Marginal note: ((Remembering a thought,
an intension)) A Seed.]"

Ludwig Wittgenstein
(cited below)

Could not Wittgenstein have spoken of love in the same
way: in terms of seeds, intensions and roots?

So much of Wittgenstein's thought is at the boundary
between philosophy and psychology. He is moving
towards a developmental theory of language and
and experience. Love is a word for an experience,
and an experience may be much more gradual
and complex in its development than a feeling. Wittgenstein
is noting the rootedness of words, using an analogy to the
rootedness of an experience. One might go further then, and
say: love (like words) has a
development: seed, intension, conviction, committment.
He keeps pointing out how often people overlook
the intervening details, at the same time he notes
how thought can fly.

For example:

"81. Really one hardly ever says that one has
believed, understood or intended something
"uninterruptedly" since yesterday. An
interruption of belief would be a period of
unbelief, not e.g. the withdrawal of attention
from what one believes- e.g. sleep.
(Difference between 'knowing' and 'being aware

Thursday, July 7

The Most Astounding Things Are Possible

"273. Hardy:'That the "finite cannot understand the
infinite" should merely be a theological
and not a mathematical war-cry.'
True, the expression is
inept. But what people are using it to
try and say is: 'We musn't have any juggling!
How comes this leap from the finite
to the infinite?' Nor is the expression all that
nonsensical - only the 'finite' that can't
conceive is not 'man' or 'our understanding'
but the calculus. And *how* this conceives
the infinite is well worth the investigation.
This may be compared to the way a chartered
accountant precisely investigates and clarifies
the conduct of a business undertaking. The aim
is a synoptic comparative account of all
the applications, illustrations, conceptions
of the calculus. The complete survey of
everything that may produce unclarity. And this
survey must extend over a wide domain, for
the roots of our ideas reach a long way.- 'The
finite cannot understand the infinite' means
here: It cannot work *in the way* you,
with characteristic superficiality, are presenting
Thought can as it were, *fly*, it doesn't have
to walk. You do not understand your own
transactions, that is to say you do not have
a synoptic view of them, and you as it were
project your lack of understanding into the
idea of a medium in which the most astounding
things are possible."

from *Zettel*
Ludwig Wittgenstein
edited by G.E.M. Anscombe
and G. H. Von Wright
translated by G.E.M. Anscombe
University of California Press,
{"Wittgenstein left a box of slips
["Zettel"] cut from copies of very
extensive typescripts of his work
from 1929 to 1948, but mostly
belonging to the period

synoptic: [Mod. Lat. *synopticus*;
Gr. *synoptikos*: seeing the whole
together, from *synopsis* a general

Note to self: read David Berlinksy's
*A Tour of the Calculus*
and *The Advent of the

"Two ideas lie gleaming on the jeweler's
velvet. The first is the calculus, the second,
the algorithm. The calculus and the rich
body of mathematical analysis to which
it gave rise made modern science
possible; but it has been the
algorithm that made possible the
modern world.
They are utterly different, these ideas.
The calculus serves the imperial
vision of mathematical physics. It is
a vision in which the real elements
of the world are revealed to be its
elementary constituants: particles,
forces, fields, or even a strange fused
combination of space and time.
Written in the language of mathematics,
a single set of fearfully compressed
laws describes their secret nature.
The universe that emerges from this
description is alien, indifferent to human
The great era of mathematical physics
is now over. The three hundred-year
effort to represent the material world
in mathematical terms has exhausted
itself. The undertaking that it was to
provide is infinitely closer than it was
when Isaac Newton wrote in the late
seventeenth century, but it is still
infinitely far away.
One man ages as another is born, and
if time drives one idea from the field,
it does so by welcoming another.
The algorithm has come to occupy
a central place in the imagination.
It is the second great scientific idea
of the West. There is no third."

*The Advent of the Algorithm*
David Berlinsky
Hacourt, 2000

Wednesday, July 6

Note to Self

Steve Evans {click here}

writes a poem out of bloglinks.

Note to self: two weeks to go
for the Third Factory deadline
(July 20th) for
Attention Span {click here}
lists of
poetry books
published in 2005 {click here}
What Was That Again About a Blue Light?

There are certain blogs that, after a certain spell
of interest, I don't read
very often; nevertheless I keep returning
to them for counsel from time to time.
For me,
The Cassandra Pages {click here}
into this category. Coming across the link
recently, I noticed something about books
and blogging for writers, and then went
on to something else. But I came back
to read it again.
A Blogland Synchronicity

O.K., I'm exhausted and I've got to
go to sleep. But, maybe one
more peek at the site meter.
I see *Heathens in Heat*
in there: maybe there's something
new (now known as *Orpheus
In Boxers*).

I had spent an hour or so
thinking about teasing,
criticism, sarcasm, insults,
googling these terms, etc.
Then I came across this, posted
David Hess {click here}
As I've said before, in earnest:
if you don't listen to everything,
you don't hear anything.

Tuesday, July 5

[Scroll down to Monday, July 4th for
A Dream about Alan Davies; and further
quotes from *Zettel*]
Thomas obit {click here}

via SUNY/Buff poetics listserv
Calculations as Ornament;
Machines as Conceptual Ornament

"709. To regard a calculation as an ornament
is also formalism, but of a good sort.

710. A calculation can be regarded as
an ornament. A figure in a plane may fit
another one or not, may be taken with
other ones in various ways. If further the
figure is coloured, there is a further fit
according to colour. (Colour is only
another dimension).

711. There is a way of looking at electrical
machines and installations (dynamos,
radio stations, etc., etc.) which sees these
objects as arrangements of copper, iron,
rubber etc. in space, without any
preliminary understanding. And this way
of looking at them might lead to some
interesting results. It is quite analogous
to looking at a mathematical proposition
as an ornament.- It is of course an absolutely
strict and correct conception; and the
characteristic and difficult thing about it
is that it looks at the object without any
preconceived idea (as it were from a
Martian point of view), or perhaps more
correctly: it upsets the normal preconceived
idea (runs athwart it)."

*Zettel*, Ludwig Wittgenstein
(see below)
"The human mind is only capable of
absorbing a few things at a time. We see
what is taking place in front of us in the
here and new, and cannot envisiage
simultaneously a succession of
processes, no matter how integrated and
complementary. Our facilities of perception
are consequently limited even as regards
fairly simple phenomena. The fate of a
single man can be rich in significance
that of a few hundred less so, but the
history of thousands and millions of
men does not mean anything at all,
in any adequate sense of the word. The
symmetriad is a million- a billion, rather,-
raised to the power of N; it is incomprehensible.
We pass through vast halls, each with a
capacity of ten Kronicker units, and
creep like so many ants clinging to the
folds of breathing vaults and craning
to watch the flight of soaring girders...
We observe a fraction of the process, like
hearing the vibration of a single string
in an orchestra of supergiants. We know,
but cannot grasp, that above and below,
beyond the limits of perception or
imagination, thousands and millions
of simultaneous transformations are
at work, interlinked like a musical
score, by mathematical counterpoint..."

[from *Solaris* by Stanislaw Lem]

"'Your blood is like my own.'
'I give you my word.''
'What does that indicate? I had been telling
myself that...the unknown force might
be concealed somewhere inside me, and
that it might not occupy very much space.
But I did not know whereabouts it was. I
think now that I was evading the real issue
because I didn't have the nerve to make
a decision. I was afraid and I looked for a
way out. But Kris, if my blood is like yours...
if I really...no it's impossible. I would already
be dead, wouldn't I? That means there
really is something different- but where?
In the mind? Yet it seems to me I think
as any human being does...and I know
nothing! If that alien thing was thinking in
my head, I would know everything. And
I would not love you. I would be pretending,
and aware that I was pretending. .."

[from *Solaris* by Stanislaw Lem,

Reading *Solaris*, absorbing the
theme of the simultaneity of experience,
where so much is gazed upon
and contemplated, as in Wittgenstein's
recognition of the impact of electronic
parts or equations contemplated without technical
comprehension, a fleeting image and
sense of human imagining
and thought throughout
time experienced as one vast living organism
struggling to learn and to create solutions.
The Darwinian evolutionary
struggle seen as a game, an
Olympics of invention:
this outcome decides
the fate of life. All of art and
literature a crucial facet of this
struggle, the facet of
expression and communication.
Big Questions

a link from

Boynton {click here}

Science asks the big questions
Coming of Age in Manhattan:
Still Floating on the Zep

Jordan (Equanimity)
says he still
has some growing up to do if he's
still dazed by the Zep.
Well, I'm still in no hurry, if that's the case,
and I've got quite a few years on Jordan.
Anecdotage tale #9: the day in the
early 70's I ran into Patti Smith on 8th Street
and offered to take her to Led Zep at Mad
Square with my
extra ticket. She said she thought her
boyfriend wouldn't approve! The Zep!
The Zep!

Monday, July 4

[Scroll down to Sunday, July 3rd
for Mimi Gross In Her studio and
Saturday July 2nd for link to
*Boynton*, who is taking a hiatus
and considering closing the blog;
Chris Stroffolino opens a blog,
*Continuous Peasant*]

A Dream About Alan Davies {click here}

Alan Davies calls me to ask me to meet him
at a bus stop near my house. I have a black
briefcase with me that I set down on the
floor. As the bus travels down a long
hill, I speak with Alan about how you can
write an article about practically anything.
"You talk about a poet's book, say one
by Charles (Bernstein), and go on
to discuss whatever it is that interests you."
I look up and see that we've arrived nearby
my office. I am astonished by this because
by subway, including the
walk to the station, it takes nearly
an hour. "This was so quick!" I say, astonished.
"We've gotten here in about twenty minutes!"
It is intensely bright outside.
Alan is beaming. I pass by my stop by one
block looking for the stop bell. I hurriedly
find my briefcase, say goodbye to Alan,
and jump off. Alan is smiling.
"255. How can one learn the truth by thinking?
As one learns to see a face better if one
draws it.

256. Philosophers who think that one can as it
were use thought to make an extension of experience,
should think about the fact that one can transmit
talk, but not measles, by telephone.

259. 'But how can human understanding outstrip
reality and itself *think* the unverifiable?' -Why do we not
*say* the unverifiable? For we ourselves made it
A false *appearance* is produced? And how can
it so much as *look* like that? For don't you want
to say that this *like that* is not a description at all?
Well, then it isn't a *false* appearance either,
but rather one that robs us of our orientation. So that
we clutch our brows and ask: How can that be?'
456. Some philosophers (or whatever you like to
call them) suffer from what may be called "loss of
problems". Then everything seems quite simple
to them, no deep problems seem to exist any more,
the world becomes broad and flat and loses all
depth, and what they write becomes immeasurably
shallow and trivial. Russell and H.G. Wells suffer
from this."

from *Zettel* by Ludwig Wittgenstein
edited by G. E. M. Anscombe and G. H.
Von Wright
translated by G. E. M. Anscombe
University of California Press, 1967

Sunday, July 3

The Artist in Her Studio: A Visit to Mimi Gross

The brilliant artist Mimi Gross {click here} is the daughter of the famed
sculptor, the late Chaim Gross, some
of whose work and art collection is housed at
the Renee and Chaim Gross studio museum
on LaGuardia Place. The museum includes numerous
pieces by Chaim Gross, of course. In particular, I coveted
a piece illustrating a tall, thin juggler, but there are also
many models of large outdoor sculptures in collections.
The museum also houses a
large collection of African art and many incredible
art works by famed figures. Since Mimi's mother, who sadly
died very recently, lived at the Museum, it may not
be kept going much longer, and is already not open to
the public as it was for years, although there was still
a staff working there who greeted us, as Mimi chatted
with Jacob Burkhardt, the photographer and son of the
filmaker and artist Rudy Burkhardt. Mimi then brought us to
her studio a few blocks away. Her art work includes
innumerable incredibly beautiful and thought-
provoking works including some gorgeous assemblages
(one of my favorite media) and notably a piece from the late
80's, early 90's that depicts the brain
by means of a huge colorful
construction of gauzy yellow and red pieces of cloth
hung on a wire scaffolding in lovely undulations.
Mimi is very interested
in anatomy and has made many paintings and a considerable
amount of book art around this topic. We also got to
see her powerful book about 9/11 made with Charles
Bernstein and published by Granary Books. Mimi's
studio is a wonderland of objects including a vast
collection of paintings and antique toys; there is a lovely portrait of her as a young child and
one of her as a teenager made by Raphael Soyer!
We can't wait to return; we left showered with gifts
including a small book of aphorisms by the physicist
inventor Billy Kluver, illustrated by Mimi as well as a
CD-Rom of *The Baby Book*, illlustrated by Mimi.
We then walked over to the Odeon for drinks and
dinner and hours of memorable conversation.

Most recent sighting: working
on a poster at Coney Island on Mermaid
Parade day- as part of a
project of artists restoring the rich history
of that endlessly fascinating and pleasurable
Brooklyn destination.
Also spotted watching the
parade: Emma Bernstein, Nada
Gordon and Toni Simon.