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Ephemera Spiral Infinity
They do - wild, surprising.
They, our daily detrita, make the universe upspiral like a top taking flight. Soon enough, the delivery at your doorstep - you can see it on your phone. Mixer trucks pour wet cement into kidney-shaped swimming pools. Staple guns post broadsides onto foreheads of the innocent - flex of an accusing finger. Fountains of cherry magnolia get through the sparks. Intrusion forces open that cornucopia mouth to say your peace.
If they keep on piling up dilations, new experiences, knowledge; that’s sexy, you devil. Nor am I confused - at least not about the difference between piece and tranquility, manner versus manor. As in for instances compilation dips. To bring to your attention, projections: bite harder on the cog.
Memorabilia complications, extraordinary bricks: A’s to Z
For examples of the incommensurable sui generis, three A’s to a Z, each a monstrosity, three of them bricks of a doorstop tome even in paperback, a fourth thin as the butt of a throwing axe, why I want to draw to your attention my delving into such things, a kind of thinking becomes landscape of text indicates what can only come of a singular mind, mindscape from things, here’s cogitation, he’re shards of thought.
The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton
English in the 17th century luxuriates in vast instruction on how to live and how to be salutary, on how to avoid or deal with despair and misery, on how life in all its varieties of pleasure and pain can be taken on the levels of physicality, psychology, and spirit. What it is to have scope, objectively. Burton, urbanely. The brick is a lay person’s medical treatise on depression, ostensibly, yet - with “melancholy” applicable to any affliction of body and mind - takes the opportunity to offer up the author’s encyclopedic erudition across disciplines of his time, peppered with idiosyncrasies and digressions, and chock full of classical references.
It’s a language profuse and curlicued that could have Madness “defined to be a vehement dotage.”
merely from synopses heading each of the three "partitions" of the tome... “Irascible or Concupiscible” “A consolatory digression, containing remedies to all discontents and passions of the mind.” “Love and Love-Melancholy”/ “Heroical and Love-Melancholy, in which consider” “Jealousy, Improper and Proper” “Religious Melancholy” "A proof that there is such a species of melancholy, name, object God, what his beauty is, how it allureth, part and parties affected, superstitious, idolaters, prophets, heretics, etc."
MIND RECTIFIED BY MIRTH and Burton speaks of understanding “by a kind of divine infusion” and as to humors and temperament, phlebotomy, I work on my diet the same way.
The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin
I came to this book, and have it, thanks to Rob Zweig, my partner for the Ota Benga screenwriting project. This is a ruin, a chunk from a city block, essentially a fragment itself of a masterwork, a gigantic fragmented chunk a piece of Paris itself the city it attempts to perceive unveiled of ideology everybody knows avenues wide enough to prevent barricades of revolution.
Public spaces are political, pacifying, architecture and city planning to structure humanity Second Empire theater urban center “to set up, within the actual city…the dream city” Paris Opera House phantom bird squawks its colonnade twilight jilt.
A book as teeming with objects and angles as the city, each item part for the whole, and so here - keyhole spying, pageant in miniature.
Boredom, Eternal Return ... The belief in progress - in an infinite perfectibility understood as an infinite ethical task - and the representation of eternal return are complementary. They are the indissoluble antimonies in the face of which the dialectical conception of historical time must be developed. In this conception, the idea of eternal return appears precisely as that "shallow rationalism" which the belief in progress is accused of being, while faith in progress seems no less to belong to the mythic mode of thought than does the idea of eturnal return. Haussmannization, Barricade Fighting ... The radical transformation of Paris was carried out under Napoleon III mainly along the axis running through the Place de la Concorde and the Hôtel de Ville. It may be that the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was a blessing for the architectural image of Paris, seeing that Napoleon III had intended to alter whole districts of the city. Stahr thus writes, in 1857, that one had to make haste now to see the old Paris, for "the new ruler, it seems, has a mind to leave but little of it standing." <Adolf Stahr, Nach fünf Jahren, vol.1 (Oldenburg, 1857, p.36.> The stifled perspective is plush for the eyes. Plush is the material of the age of Louis Phillippe. Dust and Rain.
The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard
From famed Re/Search Publications of the ‘80s (well, this one from 1990), the “revised, expanded, annotated, illustrated edition” - with illustrations by medical illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner and photos by photographer Ana Barrado - makes for the definitive version of what was also once titled Love and Napalm: Export USA. A sliver, a slice as in computerized imaging, cross-sectional, this compilation of sex and death shivers near future technological decay, that near future from the end of the 20th century still here now more of the same but worse where are The Jetsons? This coming-of-age novel context is so GenX, yet here in the psycho-sexual schematica of our failed promises dystopia (where accompanying images are non sequitor) a scalpel smears angel apocalyptic grease on the surface of our reasonable paranoia. Indeed its pornography is in its scientific objectification of body and things into diced pieces which are taken up still quivering and athrob to be pinned to the display board of what can’t be denied about claims of society.
It’s a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one’s nature. - Ballard
Cut up of a cutup:
back cover photograph of a size matters missile horizontal on its forked brackets "An individual is a four-dimensional object of greatly elongated form; in ordinary language we say that he has considerable extension in time and insignificant extension in space." Eddington, Space, Time, and Gravitation. 'Was my husband a doctor, or a patient?' Dr. Nathan nodded sagely, glancing over his fingertips at Catherine Austin. What had Travis seen in those time-filled forbidding eyes? 'Mrs. Travis, I'm not sure if the question is valid any longer. What we are concerned with now are the implications - in particular, the complex and events represented by World War III. Not the political and military possibility, but the inner identity of such a notion. For us, perhaps, World War III is now little more than a sinister pop art display... Elizabeth Taylor was staying at the Hilton during the shooting of Cleopatra, when she contracted pneumonia and was given a tracheotomy. The Hilton's balconies remind Travis of the actress' lost gill-slits (which we all develop embryonically as we briefly recapitulate our biological past). full page "medical" illustration of a system of blood vessels amidst a freeway interchange with corpuscular little cars and other vehicles and a line arrow labelled "Berry aneurysm of left vertebral artery" pointing to a bulbous area branching off from the main.
You and Me and the Continuum narrative and compendium these are ways to tell what’s really going on.
Zibaldone by Giacomo Leopardi
Zibaldone di pensieri
In Italian, a zibaldone was a miscellany, a commonplace book, a “heap of things” - the usual ephemera until poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) left his own such behind and posthumously turned the commonplace into something else entirely. What is common to all becomes exceptional, with thought. A book - or a singular mind - becomes a universe, so long as we understand a universe as a “heap of sweepings,” ala Heraclitus, beautiful order brought forth from disorder.
So far I’ve tailed these works for their dizzying spin. Leopardi demands a change of pace. His thought is slow, the tempo is deliberate, his deliberations hit the brakes at the curl of an upspiral. Decelerated gravity ponders on the brink of stasis - right through the ceiling.
The modern becomes ancient, and everything that today is ancient was modern. If you start reading some book, even a very easy one, or listen to the clearest speech in the world, with excessive attention, and an exagerrated concentration of mind, not only does the easy become difficult for you, not only are you amazed and surprised and grieved at an unexpected difficulty, not only do you strive harder to understand than you would have with less attention, not only do you understand less, but, if your attention and the fear of not understanding or of letting something escape is extreme, you will understand absolutely nothing, as if you hadn't read, and hadn't listened, and as if your mind were completely intent on another matter. ... Nor will you be able to gain your purpose unless you relax, and slow down your mind, placing it in a natural state, and soothe and put aside your concern to understand, which only in that case will be useful. Everything that is ended, everything that is last, naturally awakens a feeling of sorrow and melancholy. At the same time, it excites a pleasurable feeling, pleasurable in that very sorrow, and that is because of the infiniteness of the idea that is contained in the words finito, ultimo, etc. finito - ended ultimo - last (Thus by their nature such words are, and always will be, poetic, however ordinary and common they are, in whatever language and style. And so are those other words and ideas, in whatever language, etc., that I've noted in various places as being poetic in themselves and in the infiniteness that, in essence, they contain.)
My previous entry, Laughing Down Absurdity, demonstrates - with examples - how laughter is sometimes the only possible response to an outrageous reality.
As a response to that, my father-in-law, Rich DeLeon (Professor Emeritus of Political Science at San Francisco State University and author of Left Coast City: Progressive Politics in San Francisco, 1975-1991) brought to my attention the 1968 political ad against Richard Nixon’s running mate, corrupt Maryland governor Spiro Agnew.
Laughing unto coughing, choking, sputtering…
In that same piece, in the section about Kofi Ofosu-Yeboah’s film Public Toilet Africa, I mention how I don’t even mention its soundtrack: so I’ll mention now how the song “Psychedelic Woman” provides heady fanfare for the female lead, although I can’t remember if I first became immersed in Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté from the film or, coincidentally, Cultural Reads’ “Best Malian Musicians” posted about the same time.
Now you can find my recommendation of Public Toilet Africa in Cultural Reads #45 directly following a celebration of Zamrock, which category includes a favorite song of mine during these past few months, Khala my Friend by Amanaz.
Finito, ultimo, I’ve been brained by a couple of books on spirals of late: Junji Ito’s graphic novel Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror borrowed from a friend and not yet returned; plus (in idea and anticipation) Mimi Tempestt’s, The Delicacy of Embracing Spirals, forthcoming from City Lights.
I’m afraid to lose myself in my creations. No, not true - so I have poetic-philosophic works of creative nonfiction among the rest. I’m afraid to lose myself in my created characters. No, not true - so I’m a monologist who nevertheless often gives voice to lives in dialogue with society and history. I’m afraid to lose myself in my created worlds. Yes, so my world incommensurably spills over into the common world and vice versa.