Monday, December 31, 2007

Some End of the Year Debris


Stories. Most people need stories; they need to fabricate fictions to give some order to their lives, or they need stories to fill the holes of their misapprehensions. Creating stories allows one to be the hero of his own myth and god of his own reality.
For me, stories are no way of living; stories are only good for books.

Love can inspire us to be more compassionate and enlightened; but it is also amazing how memories of a failed romance can drag us down into such petty shit. Cf. From an Occult Diary, A. Strindberg

What is the color of "beaver"?

Wandering around the web and grabbing snippets to feed my imagination.

What is “psychogeography”? The jacket flap defines it as a “meditation on the vexed relationship between psyche and place,” and any number of well-spectacled young Ph.D.’s in sociology or urban studies will talk to you of Situationists and leave you with the bar tab. At its writerly best, though, psychogeography seems simpler to me: it is clear and vivid nonfiction writing with a sense of the past and an eye for the present that takes us close to the street. I mean “street” both literally, as in the color of the paving stones and the font of the signage and the shape of the sidewalk, and figuratively, as in the multitudes that pass by, the movers and shakers, the loiterers and bystanders, the beggars and mimes. (A bartender might mix one part local historian, one part flâneur, one part novelist, one part raconteur. Call the resulting cocktail a Peter Ackroyd or a John Berger, a Rebecca Solnit or an Iain Sinclair.)


Hunter Thompson once said that satire became impossible when reality itself was too twisted and I fear that’s become the case.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Museums of Disasters, II

picture from this site:

Museum of genetic catastrophe

“I understand that the idea of bringing something dead back to life is fundamentally frightening,” he went on. “It’s a power that science has come to possess and it makes us queasy, and it should. But there are many viruses that are more dangerous than these—more infectious, far riskier to work with, and less potentially useful.’’

Museum of an extinct race

"The man [Dervis Korkut] so determined to protect a Jewish book was a scion of a prosperus, highly regarded family of Muslim intellectuals, famous for producing judges of Islamic law. He studied theology at Istanbul University and Near Eastern Languages at the Sorbonne. He spoke at least ten languages and served as the Bosnian National Museum’s chief librarian."

Friday, December 21, 2007


Inferno, by August Strindberg, from this site

"I had been reading the lovely little pamphlet "The Delight of Dying" and it had made me long to leave this world. To reconnoitre the borderland bewteen life and death I would lie down on my bed, uncork a bottle of cyanide of potassium and allow its deadly fumes to escape into the room. He would draw near, that old Readper, so mild and so seductive, but at the last moment someone always appeared or something always happened to cut me short. The waiter would enter on some errand, a wasp would fly at the window."
-August Strindberg Inferno

But if you are in the mood for something really absurd:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

downturned randomness

It has been a week of feeling sad and defeated, but those feelings can only go on for so long. Sometimes I even feel like I want to stop writing; but I can never stop thinking.

One step positive step in the world: Absinthe, it's back!

Mostly, it seemed to him, they didn’t like the monkey.

“I had the image of a spider monkey beating on a skull with femur bones,” Mr. Winters said. But he said that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau thought the label “implied that there are hallucinogenic, mind-altering or psychotropic qualities” to the product.

“I said, ‘You get all that just from looking at a monkey?’”

I heard a review of this novella on NPR while we were driving back from Mendocino the weekend after Thanksgiving. The reviewer glowed so much about the story, it intrigued me enough to consider reading it.

Last Night at the Lobster, by Stewart O’Nan

The novel contains nuanced portraits of the tensions between the workers, Manny’s rueful confusion over an affair — now over — with a waitress and his profound sadness as his work of the past several years comes to an abrupt end.

The novel’s most dramatic plot points include a vomiting toddler, a slashed leather jacket and a power failure as a snowstorm rages outside. “It is a very quiet piece,” Mr. O’Nan said. “But I think it gets a lot of life into it, considering it’s only 140 pages or so.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd; the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are. The sensation we come to have of ourselves is of a deserted field at dusk, sad with reeds next to a river without boats, its glistening waters blackening between wide banks.

-Fernando Pessoa The Book of Disquiet.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

fresno picon

Every time I visit Europe, I am always struck by a difference in quality and pacing of life compared to the US. I have tried to wrap my thoughts about this and to come up with a reasonable theory. Then I read this interview with Julen Abio, vice-president of the New York Basque Club, and what he said, so simply, summed it all up for me:

"Well, here [US] you leave your house, get into your car, put on the radio, get to work and once again back home. Here you live for work, and there [Europe], you work to live."

Oftentimes, here, I feel the pressure to define myself through the projects that I have accomplished, and the projects I have lined up for future accomplishment. Or I feel like a nobody because of my lack of ambition. There is some strange importance placed on what you have done and who you know. It has become the friend-collecting, personality-product era, but these are not my values. What I want out of this life is very straightforward: I want to understand this world that I live in; I want to read great books, look at inspired art and listen to emotionally-deep music; I want to cook well; I want to have conversations with intelligent people; I want to travel to many places; I want to be a good friend; and I want to love.

Anyway, this weekend I went to Fresno, I cannot say that Fresno was ever on my top ten or even top 100 places to visit, but I have never been there, and there's always something worth seeing in a place you've never been to. I learned that Fresno was home to many immigrant Basques in the 1900's and there were a number of hotels and restaurants that catered to these Basque sheep-herders. There are still a few of these places left in Fresno-so of course, we visited one: the Basque Hotel. We tried their famous and cheap Picon and ate their family style dinner. The Picon is an aperitif and you never drink one with a meal. It has a stunning grenadine color, with a slightly spicy- nutty flavour. From this website:
The recipe for Picon Punch is simple: it's basically a liquid parfait built out of layers of grenadine, soda water, amer, and brandy. This recipe was developed in San Francisco by Basque immigrants early in the 20th century and was later exported back to the old Basque country (a stretch of the Pyrenees mountains that spans the border between France and Spain) where it became the celebrated "National Drink" of the Basque people.

The dinner was more food than I usually eat all day, but I soldiered through it. There were seven courses: soup (vegetable), salad, beans, (garbanzo) a beef stew, (yes, I ate it, I had not had beef in over ten years, and yes I survived) potato salad, and the entrée (frog legs). There was also ice-cream at the end, but we sent it back because we could not eat anymore. If I were a real meat eater, I would have had their lamb-chops, which is their famous entrée.

and if you want to visit Fresno

Friday, November 16, 2007


Places I would like to visit in Europe, in no order:
2. Bruges
I first heard about Bruges a couple of years ago when I read the novel by George Rodenbach, Bruges-la-Morte. The Symbolist novel is heavily colored with languid prose about a widower's grief. It prominently features the city and the city's decaying repose.

Bruges (Brugge) was founded in the 9th century by Vikings who settled here at the end of the little river 'de Reie'. The name Bruges is probably derived from the old-Scandinavian word 'Brygga', which means 'harbor, or mooring place'. Because of the proximity of the North Sea, the settlement very quickly became an important international harbor. A sea-arm, called the Zwin, connected Bruges with the North Sea. The young settlement acquired city rights as early as the 12th century. At that time a first protective wall was built around Bruges.

Already in the 13th century Bruges was an important international trading center. Traders from all over the then known world came to the city to sell their products to each other and to buy Flemish cloth, a internationally acclaimed textile product, produced in different Flemish cities (e.g. Gent). In the early 14th century Bruges was the scene of political unrest between the citizens and the count of Flanders. Because of this unrest the French king tried to annex the county of Flanders, but the population managed to kick out the French garisson on May the 18th 1302. Later the Flemish army beat the French army in the 'Battle of the Golden Spurs' on July the 11th in the Flemish city of Kortrijk.

In the 14th century Bruges turned also into an international financial and trading center. Several countries had their own representation in Bruges: the Italians, the Germans, the Scottish, the Spanish made the city into a true European center where different languages could be heard and where the most exotic products could be found.

The decline of Bruges' wealth started in the 15th century : the unstoppable silting up of the Zwin, the competition with the bigger harbor of Antwerp and the crisis in the cloth industry resulted in less commercial activity. The crisis, however, was not immediately noticable. Bruges continued to construct splendid late-gothic buildings and churches, and the Flemish painting school (with e.g. the brothers Van Eyck and Hans Memling ) started to flourish as never before.
By the end of the 16th century the former glory was only a memory and Bruges slipped into a wintersleep that took several centuries. New textile industries were introduced in the 19th century, but to no avail. In the middle of the 1800's Brugge was the poorest city in Belgium.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


picture #1- I don't remember where I found this-
picture #2- from this great website:

"I had a certain talent for friendship, but I never had any friends, either because they simply didn't turn up, or because the friendship I had imagined was an error of my dreams. I've always lived alone, and ever more alone as I become more self-aware. "
-Fernando Pessoa Book of Disquiet

"…recordings seemed to become a kind of phantasmagoria, a virtual reality that threatened to replace concert life." -Alex Ross (New Yorker)

"Le Chants de Maldoror is full of the familiar ferocities and blasphemies, the familiar somber confessions of uncommon and magnificent sins, carried, however, to unprecedented lengths by a young writer who evidently felt that his predecessors had set him a high standard to surpass; but the images of his nightmares and tirades have that peculiar phantasmagoric quality which was to be characteristic of Symbolism." -Edmund Wilson Axel's Castle

Sunday, November 11, 2007

more Oakland

"Art is the dark wish for all things. They want to be the image of our secrets,...concealed and revealed at once" - R.M. Rilke

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Places I would like to visit in Europe, in no order:

1. Dubrovnik

picture #1 from this site:
picture #2 from this site:

Dubrovnik is an historic city on the Adriatic Sea coast in the extreme south of Croatia, positioned at the terminal end of the Isthmus of Dubrovnik. It is a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva county.

Since 1979, the historic centre of Dubrovnik has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has always been based on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages, as the Republic of Ragusa, it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a remarkable level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries. Ragusa was one of the centres of the development of the Croatian language and literature, home to many notable poets, playwrights, painters, mathematicians, physicists and other scholars.

from Wiki.

and from an article in the Smithsonian Magazine.

History resides everywhere here. “I was a child during the Italian occupation of parts of Croatia in World War II, and I still remember when the Partisans won that war,” the 71-yearold helmsman said. “Today, Tito’s communism seems to have vanished in the wind. I think it’s easier for people who have a past to put their lives in perspective.”

“In many respects, the 4,000 people living within Dubrovnik’s old city walls function as they did hundreds of years ago,” said Nikola Obuljen, 64, president of Dubrovnik’s city council, as he ambled across a limestone thoroughfare polished by centuries of foot traffic. “Venice has palazzos and the RialtoBridge, but Dubrovnik is a functioning Renaissance city where people live in the houses and shop at the markets.”

I first came to Dubrovnik in 1999 as a visitor searching for an eye in the Balkan storm. Kosovo then was in flames; Belgrade under siege. Bosnia remained intact only by force of international fiat. I needed a respite from Sarajevo, where, working as a journalism instructor, I happened to live a mile from a mass grave. That devastated city was recovering from the war that had ended there only the previous year. But as I drove south from Sarajevo toward Dalmatia, Bosnia’s once-fertile farmland offered only a succession of ghostly hamlets ethnically cleansed of inhabitants. Mostar, the last major stop before the Dinaric Alps, had been reduced to rubble. The Ottoman bridge that for centuries had spanned the Neretva River was destroyed, a casualty of the malignant xenophobia then infecting Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But as I traveled down the coastal highway beyond the mountains, the air began to warm, scenes of destruction grew less frequent and police actually began to smile. At the village of Ston, gateway to the Peljesac Peninsula, I entered the old, 530-square-mile Republic of Dubrovnik, which enjoyed an independent status for a millennium, to 1808. For the next hour, I meandered past fishing villages nestled beneath foothills verdant with vineyards. In the distance, an archipelago seemed to float in the mist. And then it appeared in the twilight: a walled city rising from the rocky coast like an Adriatic Camelot.

Monday, November 05, 2007


picture: The Lovers, Remedios Varo

from this book review:
But Robert Trivers was not interested in biology; he wanted to be a lawyer, and it would take a tragic breakdown (a mania that took the form of staying up all night, night after night, reading Wittgenstein and finally collapsing) to bring him closer to the animal world. [...]
His mentor was Bill Drury, an ornithologist whom the young Trivers learned to love and revere. "Bill and I were walking in the woods one day," Trivers once told a reporter, "and I told him that my first breakdown had been so painful that I had resolved that if I ever felt another one coming on, I would kill myself. Lately, however, I had changed my mind, and drawn up a list of ten people I would kill first in that event. I wanted to know if this was going forwards or backwards. He thought for a while, then he said, 'Can I add three names to that list?' That was his only comment." With Drury's encouragement, Trivers signed up for a doctorate in zoology armed with a plan to study monkeys. But his adviser was a herpetologist, and pointed Trivers to Jamaica and lizards instead. "When we flew to Jamaica," Trivers remembers, "I took one look at the women and one look at the island and decided to become a lizard man if that's what it took to go back there." Thus was born the career of the man who would pretend to explain altruism.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oakland Autumn

"Become a mariner in the seas of one's self." -Lawrence Weschler

Friday, October 26, 2007

Harold Stearns- critic of America

I blogged about Harold Stearns before: critic and intellectual. I ran into a Times article about his death; notice the date, it was written in 1943.

Perhaps the most expatriated of the young expatriates was Harold Stearns, who was known to his intimates as a "picturesque ruin." Behind Harold Stearns, in America, lay the broken promise of a brilliant career—essays in The New Republic, editorship of The Dial, prime mover of the famous iconoclastic symposium Civilization in the United States. To the ruin of his career, Expatriate Stearns seemed anxious to add the ruin of himself. The news of his death caused friends to remember the days when, as he confessed in his autobiographical The Street I Know, he made a career of drink and an occupation out of borrowing money. Remembering the stir caused by his symposium, viper-tongued critics would say: "There goes American civilization—in the gutter."

the new me

go here to re-create yourself-

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

more amusing muses

The Surrealists' Muse, by Francine Du Plessix Gray, from the New Yorker

“…Marie-Laure [de Noailles] met the last great love of her life, a Spanish painter named Oscar Dominguez, one of the few heterosexuals she ever took up with. Dominguez, four years older than she, was born in the Canary Islands and, after moving to Paris, hung out on the fringes of the Surrealist movement. A man whose face resembled that of an Easter Island statue, Dominguez was a heavy drinker given to outrageous behavior- he would shout out “My penis is hard as gold” at the dinner table. According to a friend, the couple looked like the union of a transvestite Louis XVI and a Cro-Magnon man, and even at formal parties they pawed at each other like teenagers.”

“…there was something subversive about the institution of the fairy tale in France during the 1690s, for it enabled writers to create a dialogue about norms, manners, and power that evaded court censorship and freed the fantasy of the writers and readers, while at the same time paying tribute to the French code of civilité and the majesty of the aristocracy. Once certain discursive paradigms and conventions were established, a writer could demonstrate his of her “genius” by rearranging, expanding, deepening, and playing with the known functions of a genre that, by 1715, had already formed a type of canon…”

-Jack Zipes from the Introduction, Spells of Enchantment

Friday, October 19, 2007


Some concluded or abandoned blogs, that I have run into, for later browsing:
...musings from a sidelong naturalist about poetry, place and wonder.

I’m the kind of person you can tell a joke to several times. I simply don’t remember them. I like it that way—I have the true enjoyment of being made to laugh more than once. I’ve become that kind of bird watcher. No longer writing down and keeping track of which birds I see, and remembering which I “know” and which I don’t “know”, I’m free now to see them for the first time every time.
His near stammering. With disconcerting promptness one word hid behind another. -- Maurice Blanchot, Le Dernier Homme

Faced with the prospect of a day or the memory of a night, the thin grey sheet, twilight of writing. You write to empty yourself, or hope the act of writing, will do.The pen forms a stroke, a single letter-word, "I," first person singular. Or the downstroke of a T as in the word "The" or "This." A single line and the unconquerable absence. Thus,
"A controlled study of situational decomposition."
Mildly obsessive-compulsive. Keeps a messy desk. Writes in 4-5 notebooks simultaneously, this being one.

Wednesday, September 20
The damp has set in, and rot everywhere

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

objet trouvé

1st photo- Photographer - Mark Segal
2nd picture - Remedios Varo- "Creation of Birds"

"… all forms of intellectual activity- even those which seem on the surface very different: poetry and mathematics…are fundamentally the same sort of thing, merely arrangements or organizations of selected elements of experience."- Edmund Wilson Axel's Castle

You can be me when I'm gone…..

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

axel's castle

"The world of imagination is shown us in Yeats's early poetry as something infinitely delightful, infinitely seductive, as something to which one becomes addicted, with which one becomes delirious and drunken- and as something which is somehow incompatible with, and fatal to, the good life of that actual world which is so full of weeping and from which it is so sweet to withdraw."

Axel's Castle -Edmund Wilson

Thursday, October 04, 2007

synchronicity and blood

The first photo from this photographer- (how I feel sometimes)

In the past week I had two dreams of blood. One of the dreams I had cut myself and felt the blood run down my hand. The sight of the blood made my stomach knot up so tightly that it woke me up and I felt nauseous. The next day at work, I had two bloody noses.
The other dream I had: a basin that was overflowing with blood.

I remember reading about the connection to blood and perfume; it was in a book titled, Scent, by Annick Le Guérer: "the power of perfume have centered upon its similarity to magical potions, its association with the mythologies of vital fluids such as sap and blood". There is a whole chapter on Blood, Incense and Ritual.

I looked for a blood in contemporary perfumes, the closest thing I found was with blood orange: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Sanguine Muskissime, reviewed here.

Sanguine is one of the four humors that relate to blood. The other three are: Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.

The Sanguine temperament, according to Wiki:

Sanguine indicates the personality of an individual with the temperament of blood, the season of spring (wet and hot), and the element of air. A person who is sanguine is generally optimistic, cheerful, confident, popular, and fun-loving. He/She can be day dreamy and off-task to the point of not accomplishing anything and can be impulsive, possibly acting on whims in an unpredictable fashion. Sanguines usually have a lot of energy, but have a problem finding a way to direct the energy. This also describes the manic phase of a bipolar disorder.

I'm more of a Choleric type, myself.

Some history of the blood orange:

"The Blood, Moro, or Maltese Oranges are very old orange varieties. There is some historical evidence that the blood orange hybrid first appeared in Southern Europe around 1850 and was then brought to North America many decades later by Spanish and Italian immigrants. Commonly know throughout most of the world as "blood," "blood-red" or "blush" oranges, they have a number of other common or regional names."

Last week, within one hour I read two reviews of the same book, not intentionally. One in the New Yorker, the other in Raintaxi (which does not have it available online).
In Her Absence
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen (Other Press)

Mario believes that his wife, Blanca, has disappeared and been replaced by an impostor who is almost identical, only more sensual and tender. Thus begins the story of an unlikely marriage. Mario, guided by the lessons of his working-class origins, values “almost nothing in life more than stability.” But Blanca, privileged and with an “innate” sense of entitlement, has come to feel that their life is one “from which great experiences were absent.” Mario is infatuated with Blanca; Blanca is infatuated with art. As her interest shifts from one trendy artist to another, Mario strives to keep pace. Muñoz Molina layers a subtle satire of artistic hypocrisy with a stirring account of class separation. Mario is entranced by his wife’s “aura of uncertainty” but cannot escape his own self-annihilating caution. “Penury,” he reflects, “makes people fearful and conformist.”

Monday, October 01, 2007

dangerous blonde sunday

Sunday, I spent nearly the whole day in bed reading the biography of Caroline Blackwood (Dangerous Muse: The Life of Lady Caroline Blackwood by Nancy Schoenberger). Blackwood was born in London in 1931, grew up in Ireland and lived sporadically in America until her death in1996. She is famous for her beauty, her eccentricity, her writings and her husbands (the painter, Lucian Freud and the poet, Robert Lowell). What struck me about her was her slovenliness, her alcoholism and her morbidity. Nevertheless, it makes for a magnetic read. I wondered if she had not been beautiful and titled, would she have become a writer and would she have even been famous at all? I am quite enchanted by muses, how little they are acknowledged and valued and the creatively inspired havoc they can unleash on their lovers/artists.

I came across this book while browsing the late Theresa Duncan's blog; she quotes in her post, a little from this review of the biography. I was immediately intrigued and went out to check out the book from my library. The pictures above are: Lucian Freud's portrait of Lady Blackwood and the cover of the book, which is a photo taken by Walker Evans.

Here is an excerpt of an article written about Lowell and his last minutes of life- it gives insight into the ill-fated marriage between Lowell and Blackwood:

On this day [September 12] in 1977 the poet Robert Lowell died at the age of sixty in the back seat of a New York City taxi. He had hailed the cab at JFK airport and was heading up to West 67th Street, returning to his ex-wife, the writer Elizabeth Hardwick. He had just flown back from a disastrous trip to Ireland, where he had gone to explain to his present wife, the Anglo-Irish Lady Caroline Blackwood -- like Hardwick a writer, as well as heiress to the Guinness Stout fortune -- why their marriage was over. The meeting at Blackwood's estate outside Dublin had of course ended badly, with Blackwood storming out with her three children -- the son she had had with Lowell and two daughters from two former marriages, one to the painter, Lucien Freud (grandson of Sigmund Freud), one to the composer, Israel Citcowitz. At the end, Lowell still clutched in his stiffening arms one of Lucien Freud's paintings of the young Blackwood, staring out from the canvas into the void.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

California Floristic

Something I was thinking about while riding BART to work: California plant communities. This may be a strange thing to be thinking about at 8am, but I used to be, and still am, a bit of a botany nerd. I've taken some botanical trips to some `interesting plant areas of CA; two of the more notable areas I have visited are the White Mountains and the Siskiyou Mountains. The oldest living trees, Pinus longaeva inhabit the White Mts., and in the Siskiyou Mts., there exists, alongside California conifers, other conifers that usually inhabit farther north, Alaska and Northern Canada.

California is a biodiversity hotspot, meaning that a high number of native or endemic plants are found here. Where I live, Oakland, the plant community is considered Coastal Sage Scrub. But you can find very little evidence of this now. Depending on what system you use, Munz, Ornduff, Jepson and etc., there are up to 30 plant communities; some even argue that each city, town or even hillside is its own plant community, although I find that a little extreme.
There must have been something in the air for me to ponder California plant life, for when I arrived at work, I saw this headline: New Plant and Animal Species Discovered in Vietnam
There's always great hope when we discover new things in this world.
on the pictures: 1. Coastal Sage Scrub- the Santa Cruz coast (July 2003)
2. a conifer in the Siskiyou wilderness
3. A scene of the White Mts.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Imagination loved to wander the streets. The sun delighted her and the sounds of conversation, cars driving, and footsteps would make her smile. The wind would come up and blow her dusty, copper-burnt hair into a halo around her wide-open pale, green eyes. She would let her nose take direction, and she would joyously pursue the smell of daphne, stomping through front yards until she happily located the scented culprit. Those were the days when we held each other’s hand.

Life gets hard. Challenges can nose their way into the sunscented happiness. It was hard for me to let go of her hand, I had to once in awhile. But I always wanted to take her hand again.

Oh, what a petulant one she is. I always hope she would understand and not stay angry for long. My moods are my moods; I cope by navigating into architectures of withdrawal. It is a complex building with rooms going into more rooms. I never felt lonely as long as I knew that she was out there.

Some of places on the street I cannot go back to, they are haunted for me. I never felt comfortable brushing up against the traces of my memory. Imagination could spin those memories into something else. She could re-call the story that would erase my regret. She was always my best friend. I whispered all my grieved secrets to her while we slept. Her hair intertwined with my hair, there was no boundary between her skin and mine. Our limbs flung onto the other. So of course I began to miss her when she was gone.

"Free of disappointment and tedium, the days went by blissfully. In the mornings, we would wake up happy, joyful at being together; each day presented us with a vast, unknown world of surprises. Familiar things ceased to be familiar, recovering their newness, while other things, like park and lakes, became inviting and maternal. We went around the streets noticing things other people didn't see. Aromas, colors, light, time, and space were more intense for us. As if under the effects of a powerful drug, our sense of perception had grown more acute. But we weren't drunk, just perceptive and calm, endowed with an unusual capacity to be in harmony with the world." - Cristina Peri Rossi Full Stop

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

season of hoaxes

Why do we fall for hoaxes? Some hoaxes seem too absurd to believe, and yet people believe. Is it the impossibility that we fall for? Perhaps in this life of much-desired security that some event, so improbable enchants us. And perhaps, in this pre-ordained world, that something can escape and exist outside of all expectation? Yet, when the hoax is discovered, oh the wrath. Nevertheless, no one seems to learn from it, and one waits to fall for the next hoax. Below the story of the word that never was, the wine mixer that never existed, the pianist that never played and the story that was never written.

Turn to page 1,850 of the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia and you’ll find an entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, a fountain designer turned photographer who was celebrated for a collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes titled “Flags Up!” Mountweazel, the encyclopedia indicates, was born in Bangs, Ohio, in 1942, only to die “at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.”

If Mountweazel is not a household name, even in fountain-designing or mailbox-photography circles, that is because she never existed."

If indeed Parker’s hundred-point 1921 Pétrus was a fake, such hubris might not be misplaced. Could Rodenstock have become so proficient at making fake wine that his fakes tasted as good as, or even better than, the real thing? When I asked Parker about the bottle, he hastened to say that even the best wine critics are fallible. Yet he reiterated that the bottle was spectacular. “If that was a fake, he should be a mixer,” Parker said. “It was wonderful.”

Fundamental to the burgeoning interest in Hatto was awe that she could be so tirelessly productive during what should have been her retirement. Her exploits seemed even more remarkable after Richard Dyer, then the chief music critic of the Boston Globe, interviewed her in the summer of 2005 and wrote an article that began, “Joyce Hatto must be the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of.” The next paragraph contained a surprising revelation: “Hatto, now 76, has not played in public in more than 25 years because of an ongoing battle with cancer. She was once told that it is ‘impolite to look ill,’ and after a critic commented adversely on her appearance, she resolved to stop playing concerts.”

The most fascinating aspect of hoaxes is the extent to which they tend to escape the control of their creators, absorbing new accomplices along the way. As McHale observed in a recent interview, literary hoaxes are ''cut loose from their source, or outright lie about it, and so float free, in a certain sense, so that they can be reclaimed further down the line and used for all sorts of unintended purposes."

Monday, September 17, 2007


"Every day things happen in the world that can't be explained by any law of things we know. Every day they're mentioned and forgotten, and the same mystery that brought them takes them away, transforming their secret into oblivion. Such is the law by which things that can't be explained must be forgotten. The visible world goes on as usual in the broad daylight. Otherness watches us from the shadows." - Fernando Pessoa

Friday, September 14, 2007


Stolen pictures: top-
bottom- from W Magazine October 2007
Photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott

My imagination has left me. She left neither a note nor a forwarding address. One day she said, "I'm going out for a walk", then under her breathe she muttered, "and I'm never coming back." I did not believe her then, she is often petulant. When she was gone for a while, I thought she was hiding among the books by my bed. But she could not be found.

I know why she has left, She felt unappreciated, under-utilized, abandoned. I changed. I no longer lingered in dreamy dialogue with her. I was too immersed in history and science. I wanted answers, I stopped drifting along the avenues of possibilities. I was tired of all the things that could be. History steals sleep from the reader, dreams become truncated, filled with events. Imagination always wants room to spread about, leave her socks on the floor and mess up the bedcovers. I found myself always picking up after her, then resentment started to invade. It beings with cutting words then turns into pricked sideways glares followed by unsuppressed blown raspberries . No wonder she left.

No one wants to be forgotten, as though you never existed.

I thought I caught glimpse of her among the trees, but she dissolved into smoke. And the leaves fluttered helplessly with laughter around my head. I did not run after the apparition, I'm too tired.

"One falls in love with certain places restlessly associated with the beloved and strolls among them, alone but intimately accompanied." - Cristina Peri Rossi Mona Lisa

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

useless efforts

Pictures stolen from this website:
Amazing stuff!

"Some of the useless efforts are beautiful, others somber. We don't always agree about their classification.

There are men who have taken long journeys in pursuit of inexistent places, unrecoverable memories, deceased women, disappeared friends. There are children who undertook impossible tasks with great resolve.

Entire sections of the museum are dedicated to voyages. We reconstruct them from the pages of the books. After a time of drifting across various seas, traversing dense forests, discovering cities and marketplaces, crossing bridges, sleeping on trains and station benches, the travelers forget the purpose of the trip yet nevertheless continue traveling. And then one day- lost in a flood, trapped in the subway, asleep forever in a doorway- they disappear without a trace. And no one comes to claim them."

The Museum of Useless Efforts -Crista Peri Rossi

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

John Lilburne

Who's that writing? John the agitator

"If only John Lilburne were left in the world, then John would quarrel with Lilburne and Lilburne with John" Henry Marten

picture 1 is from this website- a Libertarian who travels the world giving lectures- I'm not a Libertarian, but he does have nice pictures on his website-

From Wikipedia:

John Lilburne (1614?–August 29, 1657 England), also known as Freeborn John.

John Lilburne began in earnest his campaign of agitation for freeborn rights, the rights that all Englishmen are born with, which are different from privileges bestowed by a monarch or a government.

John Lilburne was arrested upon information by an informer acting for The Stationers' Company and brought before the Court of Star Chamber. Instead of being charged with an offense he was asked how he pleaded. John Lilburne demanded to be presented in English with the charges brought against him (much of the written legal work of the time was in Latin). The Court refused Lilburne's request. The court then threw him in prison and again brought him back to court and demanded a plea. Again John Lilburne demanded to know the charges brought against him.

The authorities then resorted to flogging him with a three-thonged whip on his bare back, as he was dragged by his hands tied to the rear of an ox cart from Fleet Prison to the pillory at Westminster. He was then forced to stoop in the pillory where he still managed to campaign against his censors, while distributing more unlicensed literature to the crowds. He was then gagged. Finally he was thrown in prison. He was taken back to the court and again imprisoned.

This began the first in a long series of trials that lasted throughout his life for what John Lilburne called his "freeborn rights". As a result of these trials a growing number of supporters began to call him "Freeborn John" and they even struck a medal in his honor to that effect. It is this trial that has been cited by constitutional jurists and scholars in the United States of America as being one of the historical foundations of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is also cited within the 1966 majority opinion of Miranda v. Arizona by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the other side, perhaps related, an apartment that costs 45 million dollars? Not even a house, but an apartment in a 201 unit apartment building in New York City-absurd. From the New Yorker

A building like this leaves you two choices: you can resist it or you can yield to it. On one level, there’s something unsettling about the whole thing—is costume-drama luxury the best that our new century has to offer? And what are we to make of the feeding frenzy surrounding it, in an already hypertrophied real-estate market?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bell Wheel- Museum of Jurassic Technology

Locus Solus- Jurassic Technology

Picture 1 from:
The Museum of Jurassic Technology.

picture 2 from Tom Kidd's art website:

The surrealists call Roussel the "Proust of dreams" and after reading this heavily detailed novel of his, I can concur. We meet the main, and one of the only characters of this strange novel, Martial Canterel, on a tour of his estate. The reader is part of an unnamed group who views enigmatic scenes. The scenes are vividly described to the reader. After viewing the insensible scenes, Canterel then elucidates what has been shown.

Locus Solus, by Raymond Roussel, has no real plot except for this. There are no characters except for Canterel and some minor characters named, but never fleshed out. There are stories within the stories which build up the novel. We (and the character that represents us) are always outside. There are those who are convinced that clues are strewn within Roussel's works, and by some key, a mystery can be solved. Reading Locus Solus, one might be tempted to take this view in consideration to make sense of it. Perhaps.

While reading Locus Solus, I had deja vu, a sense of slippage. In December 2006, I took my first and only trip to L.A. A friend highly recommended a place to visit, this was confirmed by some guide books that I consulted. So on our first full day in L.A., I organized our day. First we were to stop at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Of course, we arrived too early and went to visit some avantgarde architecture which is also in Culver City.

A little after 10AM, we arrived at the nondescript storefront that is the entrance of the museum. We spent a half-hour in the entrance were bookstore is to be found just looking at all the fascniating books. We wandered through this strange and hypnotizing place. I was particularly entranced by the bell-wheel, which I heard tinkling as soon as I entered the museum. I tracked it down by listening, ever curious by the falling sound. I finally found it inthe dark Athanasius Kircher exhibit. Later, around 1Pm, I think, we were allowed upstairs to have tea and cookies. We looked at the Cat's Cradle exhibit along with another, which I cannot remember.

Reading the narrator's tour in Locus Solus reminded me of this visit. We wander undecipherable scenes with little clues to understand what we are seeing or how we are to interpret such scenes. Of course, at the museum's bookstore I purchased Lawrence Weschler's book to try to grasp more meaning. I am not the only one to make this connection.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Kypros is an ancient Greek perfume mentioned by Theophrastus . It contained cardamon and a sweet-scented material called aspalathus which had first been steeped in sweet wine. It is used by men and was used to counter lassitude. -Nigel Groom, The New Perfume Handbook

It is times like these that I feel my thoughts are pressed like leaves between pages of the texts I read.

Friday, August 24, 2007


"Every reader, as he reads, is actually a reader of himself. The writer's work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader's recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book's truth." -Marcel Proust

I read, I read incessantly. I read partially to escape this world which brutalizes me, but I also read to glean clues and insights about this place I am forced to inhabit. I read to gain comprehension. I am often horrified by the people of this world and their behaviour, yet I am flooded with insatiable curiosity to peer into their motives. Yes, I attempt to construct a world in texts parallel to the world I see outside my window. I want my mind to be re-ordered, yet the words intact.

Contrarily though, I wonder if all this reading puts me out of sync with the rest of humanity? Reading alters time; I wander the passages of someone else's thoughts and mental departures.

"Artists' fame is the most monstrous of all, for it implies the idea of immortality. Every novel created with real passion aspires quite naturally to a lasting aesthetic value. This is the novelist's curse: his honesty is bound to the vile stake of his megalomania." -Milan Kudera

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

scent of Vienna?

More stolen pictures: 1. Ernst Haas- Photographer, born in Vienna 1921
2. A photo by Ernst Haas- and yes, that is Marilyn Monroe, from Arthur Miller's The Misfits, 1960

More thoughts on Vienna, I was imagining, what would a perfume inspired by Vienna smell like?

Like Diorella?

"Start with the obvious: Diorella is a profoundly strange perfume. A Frenchman I said this to became very defensive and replied, ''Diorella is a classic!'' Which was not only irrelevant -- it also missed the point entirely. Can you describe Diorella? People say, ''Intensely flowery''; they say, ''Fresh yet weightless''; they say, ''Notes of citrus and ripe fruit'' and blah-blah-blah. O.K., fine. All of this is wrong: what is wonderful about Diorella is that it smells like a new fur coat that has been rubbed with a very creamy mint toothpaste. Not gel. Paste. It is a great, great fragrance. It was created for Dior by the legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska in 1972, and it feels like 1932 and 2022 at the same time."

No- Maybe more like Nombre Noir:

"The flower at the core of Nombre Noir was half-way between a rose and a violet, but without a trace of the sweetness of either, set instead against an austere, almost saintly back-ground of cigar-box cedar notes. At the same time, it wasn't dry, and seemed to be glistening with a liquid freshness that made its deep colors glow like a stained-glass window."
-Luca Turin

This scent would follow the end song of the plays and stories of Arthur Schnitzler- Wiener Moderne writer.

"Schnitzler's final stories are, inevitably, elegies for a vanished world. It is surely significant that several of them end in suicide, as if the self-destruction of individuals embodied the disaster of a whole society rushing into oblivion. In the novella "Night Games," a young officer, Lieutenant Wilhelm Kasda—precisely the sort of person Schnitzler would once have satirized—is ruined in a game of baccarat. He has a day to raise the money or his honor as an officer will be lost and suicide his only option. Few writers could hope to equal the intensity with which Schnitzler imagines Kasda's desperation as he begs for money, first from a rich uncle and then from a woman he slept with once and then neglected. When the suicide comes, however, the narration switches to a tragicomic mode that is almost Chekhovian. The uncle, arriving too late with the money, cuts a painfully foolish figure beside the corpse."