Tuesday, November 30


The infinite tenderness of that infinite melody
Carried to the last consequence
Would move mountains the mountains of hatred of ignorance of distance
From man to man from father to son from woman to man
From body to body

The beautiful circle of that melody
Carried to the extreme limit of the earth the bitter earth
Would bring the light that we long for every day
That flowers
The grave sweetness to the heart of all men all women of every race

That melody
Explored to the last cavern of golden stalactites
Would bring
Not any utopia
But the sacred gestures of everyday life
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
In a dance without questions
In which to be born to die to feed and to love
To sleep embracing another body
Would be part of an endless river
A dance without questions

-- Alberto De Lacerda


Objects don't exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them or between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence -- what I can only describe as a state of peace -- which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry...

"The only valid thing in art is that which cannot be explained," I once wrote. I still feel this very strongly. To explain away the mystery of a great painting -- if such a feat were possible -- would do irreparable harm, for whenever you explain or define something you substitute the explanation or the definition for the real thing ... Believe me, there are certain mysteries, certain secrets in my own work which even I don't understand nor do I try to do so ... Mysteries have to be respected if they are to retain their power ...

It's all the same to me whether a form represents a different thing to different people or many things at the same time. And then I occasionally introduce forms which have no literal meaning whatsoever. Sometimes these are accidents which happen to suit my purpose, sometimes "rhymes" which echo other forms, and sometimes rhythmical motifs which help to integrate a composition and give it movement.

-- Georges Braque, in G. Braque by John Richardson

Monday, November 29

dream dialogue

○ What proof could you give if anyone should ask us now, at the present moment, whether we are asleep and our thoughts are a dream, or whether we are awake and talking to each other in a waking condition?
-- Socrates

○ I can never decide whether my dreams are the result of my thoughts or my thoughts are the result of my dreams.
-- D.H. Lawrence

○ Sleeping and waking I supposed to be not two processes but two aspects of the same process. To fall asleep "here" is to wake "there." My head sinks gratefully into the pillow, and the world dissolves; and at that very moment, on another plane or planet, I rub my waking eyes and begin a new day, resuming without thought or sense of strangeness, the life in which my sleep — my waking hours here — has been a quiescent interval.
-- Gerald Bullett

○ If someone were to tell me I had twenty years left, and ask me how I'd like to spend them, I'd reply "Give me two hours a day of activity, and I'll take the other twenty-two in dreams."
-- Luis Buñuel

Sunday, November 28


But any process, if it is to be perceivable, must be divided into definite, deliberate cycles with a precise rhythm. And so one day we found ourselves considering the problem of pauses, intermissions, breaks of whatever kind in the flow of action, which are as necessary in theatre as they are in music, where rests are as necessary as notes; rests are instruments of articulation in that they help organize and emphasize musical patterns. In theatre, if a pause has a precisely calculated length, it can heighten dramatic tension and become a dramatic fact. The effectiveness of pauses depends, of course, on their placement in the current of the action, and also on their frequency. Therefore, we carefully placed pauses where they would dramatically reinforce coherence. As a result, drama stopped being a condition and became a process. Time and rhythm acquired a precise, almost tangible quality. And I suddenly realized the true sense of Paul Klee's assertion: "Art should not picture the visible, but make the invisible visible, which means that it must translate the world into new pictorial laws or principles. Instead of the phenomenon of a tree, brook, or rose, we are more interested in revealing the growth, flow, and blossoming which takes place within them."

-- Josef Svoboda The Secret of Theatrical Space
Translated by Jarka M. Burian

sign here

Goldfish by Ralph Gibson

Goldfish by Ralph Gibson

It's fixed in the stars that there are a certain number of kisses to every love story and not one more. Love stories that seem to go on forever simply haven't exhausted that final kiss. Putting people on the couch because they're having trouble in love is ridiculous. Nobody's asked to sign a contract saying, "I agree to be successful," or "I agree to be healthy." But you're supposed to sign a contract that says I agree to be happy in love. It doesn't work that way.

-- Ralph Gibson


In its energy and dash, the work of youth or early maturity remains a reflection of the movements of everyday life; animated by a different current, it is shackled to time and can detach itself only with difficulty. But the secret of Le Carosse d'Or is that of creation and the problems, the trials, the gambles it subjects itself to in order to perfect an object and give it the autonomy and the subtlety of an as yet unexplored world.

-- Jacques Rivette Cahiers du cinéma 46
Translated by Tom Milne

Saturday, November 27

language does not equal information

Das Sprechen der Musik. Vergiß nicht, daß ein Gedicht, wenn auch in der Sprache der Mitteilung abgefaßt, nicht im Sprachspiel der Mitteilung verwendet wird.

The way music speaks. Do not forget that a poem, even though it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information.

-- Ludwig Wittgenstein Zettel
Translated by Marjorie Perloff in Jacket #14

Friday, November 26


That afternoon, perhaps because of the shock, words began to uncurl from the nib of my fountain pen. (What a splendid term: fountain pen, the source from which prose flows, except in a dry season). I enjoyed the soft wet scratching sound of fresh letters as they linked up -- no longer in copperplate, but in adult handwriting that was at least clear and evenly suspended above the whiteness below: sentences skeining west to east, a book in flight. I grew to love the silence, even the mini-silences that swelled between one word and the next, and to this day, when words won't come, I listen for them rather than look for them. Sooner or later one that sounds right will whisper itself onto the page.

-- Edmund Morris Washington Post Book World 27 September 1998


For beauty, for significance, it's space
We need; and since we have no space today
In which to frame the act, the word, the face
Of beauty, it's no longer beautiful.

A tree's significant when it's alone,
Standing against the sky's wide open face;
A sail, spark-white upon the space of sea,
Can pin a whole horizon into place.

Encompassed by the dark, a candle flowers,
Creating space around it as it towers,
Giving the room a shape, a form, a name;
Significance is born within the frame.

A word falls in the silence like a star,
Searing the empty heavens with the scar
Of beautiful and solitary flight
Against the dark and speechless space of night.

-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thursday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving!

People have always longed to fling food at each other, and to smash the crockery. Louis XIV (he who ruled over the etiquette of Versailles) is said to have baited his brother, the august Monsieur, by splashing soup at his wig until Monsieur lost his temper and flung his bowl of boiled beef at the king ...

The hilarity occasioned by custard cream pies flung in faces must be part of the same complex of emotions. In the Baroque period in Europe, when food was spectacularly arranged -- it often took kitchen staff days to sculpt and decorate pyramids, pièces montées, and architectural fantasies for a banquet -- and a royal feast was like an opera, with gorgeously dressed players at the table and spectators standing round about to view the eating, it was common for the inner circle of noble guests to retire after dinner, leaving the onlookers to move in for the kill. They would rush the table and demolish all the exquisite culinary edifices, with a pleasure perhaps like that of children knocking down sandcastles or towers of building blocks. They would eat some of the food, and throw the rest at each other. John Evelyn, describing a great dinner for the Garter Knights in the Banqueting House in Whitehall on April 23, 1667, says the feast ended with the "banqueting stuff" being "flung around the room profusely."

-- Margaret Visser The Ritual of Dinner

lest we forget

Family Supper by Ralph Fasanella

Family Supper by Ralph Fasanella

There are certain pictorial reasons why Fasanella achieves such a remarkable likeness. (Though these don't explain the uniqueness of his achievement.) His perspective, by professional standards, is inconsistent. It constantly adapts itself to the next sight in view; rather than being a standing static perspective, it is a walking one ... And the same creative inconsistency determines the eye-level. Things are seen either face to face as on the sidewalk, or from above, at about the height of a tenement roof ... Thus each painting offers, not an instant view, a postcard, but an amalgam of visual experience, a sequence of memories. Hence the likeness. Hence the face that those who have lived in these streets, recognise corner after corner ...

The family is Fasanella's. In the centre is his mother. On the right wall is one of his own paintings of his father, the iceman, crucified on a wall of bricks, his head clamped in the ice-tongs with which he worked. On the back wall is a second painting, this time of his mother with his sister and himself standing on chairs in front of another wooden cross, against a brick wall between window frames. Every person and object in this kitchen is a memorial to what happened within his family. But the way it is painted -- and here the truthfulness to experience of the "primitive" painting reveals itself -- the way it is painted makes everything in it continuous and entirely homogeneous with the exterior walls and elevation which surrounds it.

-- John Berger About Looking

Wednesday, November 24


The plane of the rainbow is always at right angles to our view of it, whether we go directly up to it or look at it from an angle. The rainbow keeps ahead of our view of it and turns when we turn. God is always right there in front of us.

-- Malcolm de Chazal Sens-Plastique
Translated by Irving Weiss

from the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila

Thus does God when he raises a soul to union with himself, suspend the natural action of all her faculties ... God establishes himself in the interior of this soul in such a way, that when she returns to herself, it is wholly impossible for her to doubt that she has been in God, and God in her.

-- William James The Varieties of Religious Experience

Tuesday, November 23


The common perception of the Portuguese fado is one of an emotionally distraught singer pouring out her woes - inevitably a departed lover - in some smoky late-night den. In truth, the fado is rather more complex, and its origin far from definitive. There are claims that the fado has Oriental roots, or that the plaintive songs were first sung by slaves brought to Brazil from Africa. More romantically, and this is the lore Wellenkamp finds more attractive, is that the fado was born out of the sound of rippling waves building into turbulent seas, which fired the imaginations of seafaring folk to tell their passionate tales of love and loss. Subsequently, Portugal's most revered poets wrote verses for fado, embodying themes of unlawful detention and other social injustices.

-- Emma Manning Dance Europe

Vasco Wellenkamp's Amaramàlia-Abandono is a a ballet homage to legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues

Portuguese Amália Rodrigues site

Monday, November 22

play your hand

I admit it's tempting to wish for the perfect boss, the perfect parent, or the perfect outfit. But maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we've been given, and accessorize the outfit we've got.

-- Carrie Bradshaw Sex and the City

Thanks to vilaine fille and to Alex Ross


... one of the strengths of Irish poetry at the moment is that it has its roots, it knows that it has roots in song and dance and story. In America, there's a real danger of that being forgotten. People there think that their poetry has its roots in their word processors, and it certainly looks like that on the page. You see, if you look at the most ancient forms of poetry, the prayer, and the curse, and the song, and the riddle: these are all folk -- to use that awful phrase, "folk art" -- these are forms that have their roots in the community. Good writing pulses with life from those ancient forms and helps the blood to circulate,

-- Michael Longley Five Points Vol. 8, No. 3


The Mountain
This is ravens' territory, skulls, bones,
The marrow of these boulders supervised
From the upper air: I stand alone here
And seem to gather children about me,
A collection of picnic things, my voice
Filling the district as I call their names.

The Path
With my first step I dislodge the mallards
Whose necks strain over the bog to where
Kittiwakes scrape the waves: then, the circle
Widening, lapwings, curlews, snipe until
I am left with only one swan to nudge
To the far side of its gradual disdain.

The Strand
I discover, remaindered from yesterday,
Cattle tracks, a sanderling's tiny trail,
The footprints of the children and my own
Linking the dunes to the water's edge,
Reducing to sand the dry shells, the toe
And fingernail parings of the sea.

The Wall
I join all the men who have squatted here
This lichened side of the dry-stone wall
And notice how smoke from our turf fire
Recalls in the cool air above the lake
Steam from a kettle, a tablecloth and
A table she might have already set.

The Lake
Though it will duplicate at any time
The sheep and cattle that wander there,
For a few minutes every evening
Its surface seems tilted to receive
The sun perfectly, the mare and her foal,
The heron, all such special visitors.

-- Michael Longley

Sunday, November 21


The tray was freighted with the most exquisite and shapely pantoufles, sufficient to make Cluny a place of naught. There were shoes of grey and black and brown suède, of white silk and rose satin, and velvet and sarcenet; there were some of sea-green sewn with cherry blossoms, some of red with willow branches, and some of grey with bright-winged birds. There were heels of silver, of ivory, and of gilt; there were buckles of very precious stones set in most strange and esoteric devices; there were ribbons tied and twisted into cunning forms; there were buttons so beautiful that the buttonholes might have no pleasure till they closed upon them; there were soles of delicate leathers scented with maréchale, and linings of soft stuffs scented with the juice of July flowers. But Venus, finding none of them to her mind, called for a discarded pair of blood-red maroquin, diapered with pearls. They looked very distinguished over her white silk stockings.

-- Aubrey Beardsley Under the Hill

Saturday, November 20

American Beauty


Angela, once again fully clothed, sits at the kitchen counter. She's eating a turkey sandwich.

ANGELA: Wow. I was starving.

Lester puts a jar of mayonnaise back in the refrigerator.

LESTER: Do you want me to make you another one?

ANGELA: No, no, no. I'm fine.

He turns to her and cocks an eyebrow.

LESTER: (concerned) You sure?

ANGELA: I mean, I'm still a little weirded out, but ... (sincerely) ... I feel better. Thanks.

A long beat, as Lester studies her. Then:

LESTER: How's Jane?

ANGELA: What do you mean?

LESTER: I mean, how's her life? Is she happy? Is she miserable? I'd really like to know, and she'd die before she'd ever tell me about it.

Angela shifts uncomfortably.

ANGELA: She's ... she's really happy. She thinks she's in love.

Angela rolls her eyes at how silly this notion is.

LESTER: (quietly) Good for her.

An awkward beat.

ANGELA: How are you?

LESTER: (smiles, taken aback) God, it's been a long time since anybody asked me that. (thinks about it) I'm great.

They just sit there, smiling at each other, then:

ANGELA: (suddenly) I've gotta go to the bathroom.

She crosses off. Lester watches her go, then stands there wondering why he should suddenly feel so content.

LESTER: (laughs) I'm great.

Something at the edge of the counter catches his eye, and he reaches for ...

CLOSE on a framed PHOTOGRAPH as he picks it up: It's the photo we saw earlier of him, Carolyn and Jane, taken several years ago at an amusement park. It's startling how happy they look.

Lester crosses to the kitchen table, where he sits and studies the photo. He suddenly seems older, more mature ... and then he smiles: the deep satisfied smile of a man who just now understands the punch line of a joke he heard long ago ...

LESTER: Man oh man ... (softly) Man oh man oh man ...

-- Alan Ball

Friday, November 19

Picasso's Colors

Then the man in the blue suit reaches into his pocket and takes out a large sheet of paper, which he carefully unfolds and hands to me. It is covered with Picasso's handwriting — less spasmodic, more studied than usual. At first sight, it resembles a poem. Twenty or so verses are assembled in a column, surrounded by broad white margins. Each verse is prolonged with a dash, occasionally a very long one. But it is not a poem; it is Picasso’s most recent order for colors …

For once, all the anonymous heroes of Picasso’s palette trooped forth from the shadows, with Permanent White at their head. Each had distinguished himself in some great battle — the blue period, the rose period, cubism, “Guernica” … Each could say: “I too, I was there …” And Picasso, reviewing his old comrades-in-arms, gives to each of them a sweep of his pen, a long dash that seems a fraternal salute: Welcome Persian red! Welcome emerald green! Cerulean blue, ivory black, cobalt violet, clear and deep, welcome! Welcome!

-- Brassaï Conversations avec Picasso

Thursday, November 18

The Abnormal is Not Courage

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers,
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
The bravery. Say it's not courage. Call it a passion.
Would say courage isn't that. Not at its best.
It was impossible, and with form. They rode in sunlight,
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore's heart: the bounty of impulse,
And the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
Not the month's rapture. Not the exception. The beauty
That is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.

-- Jack Gilbert

Wednesday, November 17

the essential nature

The actor takes the mask, studies it, and as he puts it on, his face slightly modifies itself until it goes towards the shape of the mask, and he puts it on his face and in a way he has dropped one of his own masks; so the intervening flesh masks disappear and the actor is in close contact, epidermal contact, with a face that is not his face, but the face of a very strong, essential type of man. And his actor's capacity to be a comedian (without which he couldn't be an actor) makes him realize his potentiality to be that person. So at that moment he is in that role. And that becomes his role; and the moment it is assumed, it comes to life, it is no longer hard and fast but something that adapts itself to any circumstance; so the actor, having put that mask on, is sufficiently in the character that if someone unexpectedly offers him a cup of tea, whatever response he makes is totally that of that type, not in the schematic sense but in the essential sense. For instance, if he's wearing a proud mask, in the schematic sense he would be forced to say proudly, "Take away your tea!" But in a living sense, the proudest of men can see a cup of tea and say, "Oh, thank you," and take it without betraying his essential nature.

-- Peter Brook

The Nearest Dream

The nearest Dream recedes -- unrealized --
The Heaven we chase,
Like the June Bee -- before the School Boy,
Invites the Race --
Stoops -- to an easy Clover --
Dips -- evades -- teases -- deploys --
Then -- to the Royal Clouds
Lifts his light Pinnace --
Heedless of the Boy --
Staring -- bewildered -- at the mocking sky --
Homesick for steadfast Honey --
Ah, the Bee flies not
That brews that rare variety!

-- Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, November 16

Pierre Louÿs' wedding march

The marriage will take place in six weeks, at the Saint-Philippe Church. Do you know the organist of that curious edifice? I intend to suggest to him a little Bachian program which would include as an introduction a celebrated unpublished Hochzeitmarsch by Debussy! Are you disposed to indite one for two manuals and a pedal in the customary march time in four beats, a piece of festive nature, lascivious and fervent as behooves a nuptial ceremony? It ought to be one of those little masterpieces that one writes at the table in a restaurant between a scotch and a chaser. You cannot refuse an old buddy.

-- Pierre Louÿs Letter to Claude Debussy 1899

We Have to Meet

We have to meet deliberately
knowing in full consciousness
that there is nothing other
than what we make.
We make our idea of love
Our definitions move the words we speak,
so when we will that definitions leave us --
we are there
in a presence that in that moment
is love.
Love is for the shapers of reality.

-- Miguel Algarin

Monday, November 15

John Cale's wedding

Before John and I got married, we lived together at the Chelsea Hotel, then on a loft on LaGuardia Place where Nico lived under our kitchen sink. When we decided to get married, all the Velvets were against it, probably because John was the first to have a girl come into the group. I think Lou saw it as a threat; John and Lou always had a star problem. I'm sure that Lou didn't personally dislike me, but he thought I could cut a good pair of pants. We were going to have this funky wedding at City Hall. Ladies Home Journal found out about it and were going to throw this big bash afterwards, so they could photograph the freaky rock'n'roll scene. About a week before the wedding, John went to the hospital for a blood test because he was turning bright yellow. Sure enough, John had hepatitis and stayed in the hospital for four months. Ladies Home Journal wanted me to go ahead with the wedding without John; they said they'd just take a picture of him and strip it in later.

-- Betsey Johnson

On Chaplin's Limelight


It remains to be said, nevertheless, that the famous scene near the end of the movie when Calvero performs on the stage as a comic violinist, with Buster Keaton as his accompanist, represents a kind of success far beyond the complex and unsteady ironies of the earlier parts. In this there is no longer any problem of interpretation and choice, no "victims" and no victories, no shifting of involvements back and forth between the performer and his role and his audience, no society, no egotism, no love or not-love, no ideas -- only a perfect unity of the absolutely ridiculous. Perhaps the Tramp's adventure with the automatic feeding machine in Modern Times is as funny, but there it is still possible to say that something is being satirized and something else, therefore, upheld. The difficulties that confront Calvero and Keaton in their gentle attempt to give a concert are beyond satire. The universe stands in their way, and not because the universe is imperfect, either, but just because it exists; God himself could not conceive a universe in which these two could accomplish the simplest thing without mishap. It is not enough that the music will not stay on its rack, that the violin cannot be tuned, that the piano develops a kind of malignant disease -- the violinist cannot even depend on a minimal consistency in the behavior of his own body. When, on top of all the other misfortunes that can possibly come upon a performer humbly anxious to make an impression, it can happen also that one or both of his legs may capriciously grow shorter while he is on the stage, then he is at the last extreme: nothing is left. Nothing except the deep, sweet patience with which the two unhappy musicians accept these difficulties, somehow confident -- out of God knows what reservoir of awful experience -- that the moment will come at last when they will be able to play their piece. When that moment does come, it is as happy a moment as one can hope for in the theater. And it comes to us out of that profundity where art, having become perfect, seems no longer to have any implications. The scene is unendurably funny, but the analogies that occur to me are tragic: Lear's "Never, never, never, never, never!" or Kafka's "It is enough that the arrows fit exactly in the wounds they have made."

-- Robert Warshow The Immediate Experience

Sunday, November 14


The task of the lighting technicians is an extremely creative one. A really good lighting man has his own plan, though he of course still needs to discuss it with the cameraman and the director. But if he does not put forth his own concept, his job becomes nothing more than lighting up the whole frame. I think, for example, that the current method of lighting for color film is wrong. In order to bring out the colors, the entire frame is flooded with light. I always say the lighting should be treated as it is for black-and-white film, whether the colors are strong or not, so that the shadows come out right.

-- Akira Kurosawa Notes on Filmmaking
Translated by Audie Bock

Saturday, November 13


Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect, and touch, and greet each other.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Cézanne's Cloth

The Black Clock by Paul Cezanne

The Black Clock by Paul Cézanne
Private Collection (Stavros Niarchos)

His still lifes are so wonderfully occupied with themselves. The frequently used white cloth, for one, which has a peculiar way of soaking up the predominant local color, and the things placed upon it now adding their statements and comments, each with its whole heart. The use of white as a color was natural to him from the start: together with black, it defined the two limits of his wide-open palette, and in the very beautiful ensemble of a black stone mantelpiece with a pendulum clock, black and white (the latter in a cloth that covers part of the mantel and hangs over its edge) behave perfectly colorlike next to the other colors, their equal in every way, as if long acclimatized ... Brightly confronting each other on the white cloth are a coffee cup with a heavy dark-blue stripe on the edge, a fresh, ripe lemon, a cut crystal chalice with a sharply scalloped edge, and, way over on the left, a large, baroque triton shell -- eccentric and singular in appearance, with its smooth, red orifice facing the front. Its inward carmine bulging out into brightness provokes the wall behind it to a kind of thunderstorm blue, which is then repeated, more deeply and spaciously, by the adjoining gold-framed mantelpiece mirror; here, in the mirror image, it again meets with a contradiction: the milky rose of a glass vase which, standing on the black pendulum clock, asserts its contrast twice (first in reality, then, a little more yieldingly, in reflection). Space and mirror-space are definitively indicated and distinguished -- musically, as it were -- by this double stroke; the picture contains them the way a basket contains fruit and leaves: as if all this were just as easy to grasp and to give. But there's still some other object on the bare mantelpiece, pushed up against the white cloth: I'd like to go back to the picture to see what it was.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke Letter to Clara Rilke 14 October 1907
Translated by Joel Agee

Friday, November 12


A skillful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents — he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentences tend not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided.

-- Edgar Allan Poe Graham's Magazine

Thursday, November 11


I made a poem going
to sleep last night, woke
in sunlight, it was clean forgotten.

If it was any good, gods
of the great darkness
where sleep goes and farther
death goes, you not named,
then as true offering
accept it.

-- Ursula K. Le Guin

Wednesday, November 10


For the phenomenon of music is nothing other than a phenomenon of speculation. There is nothing in this expression that should frighten you. It simply presupposes that the basis of musical creation is a preliminary feeling out, a will moving first in an abstract realm with the object of giving shape to something concrete. The elements at which this speculation necessarily aims are those of sound and time. Music is inconceivable apart from those two elements.

-- Igor Stravinsky Poetics of Music
Translated by Arthur Knodel and Ingolf Dahl

Tuesday, November 9


Looking through a book of drawings by Holbein I realize several moments of truth. A nose (a line) so nose-like. So line-like. And then I think to myself "so what?" It's not going to solve any of my problems. And then I realize that at the very moment of appreciation I had no problems. Then I decide that this is a pretty profound thought. And that I ought to write it down. This is what I have just done. But it doesn't sound so profound any more. That's art for you.

Joe Brainard

Monday, November 8


Much is said of what is spiritual, and of spirituality, in this, that, or the other -- in objects, expressions. -- For me, I see no object, no expression, no animal, no tree, no art, no book, but I see, from morning to night, and from night to morning, the spiritual. -- Bodies are all spiritual. -- All words are spiritual -- nothing is more spiritual than words. -- Whence are they? along how many thousands and tens of thousands of years have they come? those eluding, fluid, beautiful, fleshless, realities, Mother, Father, Water, Earth, Me, This, Soul, Tongue, House, Fire.

What beauty there is in words! What a lurking curious charm in the sound of some words! Then voices! Five or six times in a lifetime, (perhaps not so often), you have heard from men and women such voices, as they spoke the most common word! -- What can it be that from those few men and women made so much out of the most common word!

Walt Whitman An American Primer


For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy whereas it now appears finite & corrupt.

This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.

But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

-- William Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Sunday, November 7


What interests me about making a film is the impact the original idea makes on me in the first place. That's what I hang on to. That's what I try to remember all through the shooting and cutting and editing. Because films are all in bits and pieces and you can easily lose track of the main objective and that's where you go wrong. I don't really explain to myself why it has such an impact. It's like a girl you're in love with. I try to remember the emotional impact it made on me initially. After that it's what the actors do to it.

-- Stanley Kubrick

Saturday, November 6


At evening the woods of autumn are full of the sound
Of the weapons of death, golden fields
And blue lakes, over which the darkening sun
Rolls down; night gathers in
Dying recruits, the animal cries
Of their burst mouths.
Yet a red cloud, in which a furious god,
The spilled blood itself, has its home, silently
Gathers, a moonlike coolness in the willow bottoms;
All the roads spread out into the black mold.
Under the gold branches of the night and stars
The sister’s shadow falters through the diminishing grove,
To greet the ghosts of the heroes, bleeding heads;
And from the reeds the sound of the dark flutes of autumn rises.
O prouder grief ! you bronze altars,
The hot flame of the spirit is fed today by a more monstrous pain,
The unborn grandchildren.

-- Georg Trakl

thanks to mark at wood s lot


Have faith and pursue the unknown end. The trial, by all means, must be made unless one would bear a spirit altogether abject, for there is no comparison between that which we lose by not succeeding and by not trying.

-- Francis Bacon

Friday, November 5


Maybe we are creatures in search of exaltation. We don't have much of it. Our lives are not what we deserve; they are, let us agree, in many painful ways deficient. Song turns them into something else. Song shows us a world that is worthy of our yearning, it shows us ourselves as we might be, if we were really in the world.

-- Salman Rushdie

The Sleepers

No map traces the street
Where those two sleepers are.
We have lost track of it.
They lie as if under water
In a blue, unchanging light,
The French window ajar

Curtained with yellow lace.
Through the narrow crack
Odors of wet earth rise.
The snail leaves a silver track;
Dark thickets hedge the house.
We take a backward look.

Among petals pale as death
And leaves steadfast in shape
They sleep on, mouth to mouth.
A white mist is going up.
The small green nostrils breathe,
And they turn in their sleep.

Ousted from that warm bed
We are a dream they dream.
Their eyelids keep up the shade.
No harm can come to them.
We cast our skins and slide
Into another time.

-- Sylvia Plath

Thursday, November 4

my life as a dormouse

Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she helped herself to some tea and bread-and-butter, and then turned to the Dormouse, and repeated her question. 'Why did they live at the bottom of a well?'

The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, and then said, 'It was a treacle-well.'

'There's no such thing!' Alice was beginning very angrily, but the Hatter and the March Hare went 'Sh! sh!' and the Dormouse sulkily remarked, 'If you can't be civil, you'd better finish the story for yourself.'

'No, please go on!' Alice said very humbly; 'I won't interrupt again. I dare say there may be one.'

'One, indeed!' said the Dormouse indignantly. However, he consented to go on. 'And so these three little sisters—they were learning to draw, you know—'

'What did they draw?' said Alice, quite forgetting her promise.

'Treacle,' said the Dormouse, without considering at all this time.

'I want a clean cup,' interrupted the Hatter: 'let's all move one place on.'

He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him: the March Hare moved into the Dormouse's place, and Alice rather unwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The Hatter was the only one who got any advantage from the change: and Alice was a good deal worse off than before, as the March Hare had just upset the milk-jug into his plate.

Alice did not wish to offend the Dormouse again, so she began very cautiously: 'But I don't understand. Where did they draw the treacle from?'

'You can draw water out of a water-well,' said the Hatter; 'so I should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle-well—eh, stupid?'

'But they were in the well,' Alice said to the Dormouse, not choosing to notice this last remark.

'Of course they were', said the Dormouse; '—well in.'

This answer so confused poor Alice, that she let the Dormouse go on for some time without interrupting it.

'They were learning to draw,' the Dormouse went on, yawning and rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy; 'and they drew all manner of things—everything that begins with an M—'

'Why with an M?' said Alice.

'Why not?' said the March Hare.

Alice was silent.

The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went on: '—that begins with an M, such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness— you know you say things are "much of a muchness"—did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?'

'Really, now you ask me,' said Alice, very much confused, 'I don't think—'

'Then you shouldn't talk,' said the Hatter.

This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off; the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.

-- Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Wednesday, November 3


You and I have spoken all these words,
But for the way we have to go, words are no preparation.
There's no getting ready, other than grace.
My faults have stayed hidden:
One might call that a preparation!

I have one small drop of knowing in my soul
Let it dissolve in your ocean.

There are so many threats to it.
Inside of us, there's a continual autumn. Our leaves fall
and are blown out over the water.
A crow sits in the blackened limbs
and talks about what's gone.

Then your generosity
returns: Spring, moisture, intelligence,
The smell of hyacinth and cypress

-- Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks