Saturday, December 15, 2012

Namedrops Keep Fallin On My Head

-the boobirds have come to eat me, it won't be long now

Daily paintings
There is gonna be a stabbing
in plein air
Lady Gaga's boyfriend
on an orange trike
Ozzy Osbourne's tv agent
Be gentle from now on
Charles Saatchi was supposed to come
I couldn't get there after the bombing
Maria Carey
Indiscriminate love
A videotape of how it really happened
Birth control
A fashion show
I love Marilyn Manson and everything
Angels on his balls
Anything you want
Friend who used to punch his horse
There are ways to do this psychologically
I cling to too much to be able to do this
I am inherited, a ghost
We are all disabled
I'm not saying shit
Dennis Hopper said it was a glazed donut
I guarded this other Hopper at the Walker Art Center
Arnold Schwarzenegger stayed at this hotel
And someone else it wasn't George Bush at the Sturgis Hilton
When you see your dog melting don't jump in
I'm done worrying about shit
The name of my show in LA
Keeping money from me
Paintallica my collective or occulted Venus
Someday you'll wake up and everything will be easy again
Staying at the hotel where Graham Parsons died
Scratched my eye stuck in Joshua Tree
You are full of magic
Wrestling with scorpions
Abducted on Oxycontin
Two little Mormon girls lost in the desert
Sun dancer with the black feet
Welcome to dumbdumb land
Yoko Ono, Richard Flood, all star cast
Hunter Thompson and the Hells Angels
Kanye West, Kim Kardasian
Larry Clark, New York gas stations
David Lynch, David Byrne
Chris Farley knocked on my door
the day he died
Perspective from the shining
Brain plague torn memories
Lost memories ancient history
Tattoo on my arm from shoot in GQ magazine
Obama, there's 50 cent
Black hole in the center
My large telescope
Goofball truth syrup
Charges against you
Sid Vicious family reunion
You have gifts
Albert fuckin Einstein
All the film crews at my house
Wrote that last year
Jonathan Borofsky's roommate at Yale
Tattooed on his ass
Barneys New York stayed up
And chainsawed all night
Pablo Picasso's granddaughter
Carhart all day modeling
Partied with David Blaine

[as thumbed 6/28/2012 at western bridge]

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Notes from Jeffrey & Claudia

Drawing in space
Back door to picket fence
Used the clear then the gel
Survived a ten year moratorium on goth

Made a skull of myself
Felt the figment
skin played out over 7 floors
in a world of light
footcandles of bulbs and wonder
Friendship like a river
timing proportion to
cinema and standup

(The Maldives)

Let's make the box less black
Complete the gesture
how assessment of craft
her fear of flying
carries me

A coffin is placed in the household
portrait hung in its place
wooden shoes for water walking

Two slices, unexpected pleasure
in a wooden box
sandwich with too much bread
what is stacked first
I plied the trade
and overpaid

Life about art and death
Art about life and death
Death about life and art
Dreams about a lost word
lost words and love

"Step away from the car"
or symmetry will kill
homoerotic fashion
I'll show you
how plywood reeks

He proved
childhood never stops
timed to sing
to say it
say it
just sing

[from notes taken 11/8/2012 at henry gallery]

Ecology of Vispo – A Blindfold Test

This is my essay from The Last Vispo Anthology, edited by Nico Vassilakis & Crag Hill. You can buy it here or here.  Free sample of the book is here.

Colored by my own predisposition for the idea of the non-ocular, I’m afraid I’d prefer to unsee the visible in visual poetry.  That is, I’d prefer a blindfold test, where the audient can happily focus on the crisp turning of pages and other less obscure signals. 

The new sentience alive in its calling.  Time to unhook to see. 

But I’m afraid I’ll have to leave the affective mapping, or how visual poems consciously and unconsciously impact us, to others.  I cannot even bear witness, ala Charles Reznikoff, to things not seen.  The truth is that the impetus for this essay was to try to explain why I’m not a partisan of the form.

What intrigues me and what I want to think about here is the ecology of visual poetry, or the logic of its environment.  The point is to try to understand what makes visual poets matter in their own ways, rather than trying to generalize the divergent practices of visual poets.  That is, I want to avoid a general review that looks for potential unity, or that would illustrate what visual poetry is, or what this anthology represents.

In short, I have only questions, no answers: what makes visual poets think – rather than recognize?  And how are visual poets attached to their practice?  The point is not to find some consensus or commonality among visual poets, for these are intractably subjective questions.  How one is attached to a practice relates to how one belongs and belonging could be thought of as a condition of both owning and being owned by a social nexus or community.  How does that sense of belonging obligate us in an affirmative way, i.e., not in the sense of duty?  Maybe this relates to how practitioners are in debt to their habitat, i.e., not completely autonomous?  We’re not alone in the world.

After Mallarme used white space as silence, there’s a mise-en-page that can be endlessly explored.  But visual poetry continues to be impacted by new technologies:  from Gutenberg to the typewriter to early computers to new digital technologies -- which provide toolsets that build on the array of prior toolsets.  There is now easy access to virtually all known alphabets, as well as programs to construct and design (and deconstruct and redesign) new alphabets, which are themselves easily deployable via vectors that mathematically describe each point and curve of each letter form.

There is a “relationship of relevance between situation and tool.”  The “gesture of taking in hand” both produces and is produced by this relationship.  -Isabelle Stengers

Communion crowds the worker.  It crowns her.  Queen of finger painting.  After alpha blockage, manna stored and resold.

Anthems and Definitions

The Last Vispo Anthology as a spectrum of the current state of the art – “documenting the recent surge in visual poetry, ... [extending] the dialectic between art and literature that began with the concrete poetry movement fifty years ago.”

“Vispo” as a separate compact, an abbreviated entity?  Is this a mere Gitmo-ification that mobilizes a term for the digital era?  That's not clear.  But the provocative title ("Last...") suggests Vispo is all but in a crypt, or that the editors feel the practice is coming up against some kind of a pivotal limitation, perhaps on the verge of becoming other than itself, or in desperate need of a revitalized or new habitat.

It swallows the eye -- the all time best hits.  Chasing the non-human toolkits our future presents.  What's never excluded, aka the affect that escapes capture.  The emotion celebrates its lucre, oozing excess.  Book reports that report on the informer.

“Visual poetry is poetry against metaphor. Scram.  Metaphor is let's make dividends in the boom economy of our passion.  Against Metaphor.  Against Description…”   -Donato Mancini

Following Geof Huth’s definition, a visual poet is a poet irrepressibly drawn to the visual.  In an attempt to describe the discipline, Huth suggests that there are three competencies of the visual poet:
(1) printer’s palette -- or mastery of the visual, non-verbal;
(2) poet’s pen -- or mastery of the linguistic aspects; and
(3) printer’s fist -- or mastery of the emotive and intellectual value of letters/gramma, punctuation, typefaces, words, design.

I use the word “mastery” here, though Huth does not, because of the slippery slope inherent to the model he sets forth.  While Huth may be merely describing what he believes the qualities of a competent visual poet are, rather than necessarily ascribing to them, any such model sets up canonical qualities or categories upon which to judge works of visual poetry.

“Visual poetry, unhooked from the instrumentality of design or the discursive histories of contemporary art.  Most visual poets aren't making images, they're making visually over-coded texts that push the Poetry Master back into pre-school.”  -Donato Mancini

Proposition: the visual poem as a record of the decisions that happen to the visual poet.  But this proposition only makes sense if you understand “decision” in the way that Whitehead uses it, where decisions are what happen to enduring entities or subjects. 

“Decision precedes consciousness and it precedes cognition.”  That is, “decisions make cognition possible, not the other way around…  We don’t make decisions because we are free and responsible; rather we are free and responsible because – and precisely to the extent that – we make decisions.” 
-Steve Shaviro

Dick Higgins suggests that both concrete poetry and pattern poetry tell “the story of an ongoing human wish to combine the visual and literary impulses, to tie together the experience of these two areas into an aesthetic whole… To those who attempt this synthesis, something of the picture of the whole seems crucially important.”

Higgins goes on to say that pattern/concrete poetry has no single origin.  And it is easy to speculate that the reflexive act of making marks led to a foregrounding the visual elements of the grapheme in its unfolding or recording.  Calling attention to itself and aware of its own motion – the record of the grapheme in motion becomes a sort of proprioceptive trace/gesture, a constructive practice and extension of the body.

Vispo’s Dog Ate My Homework

1. This convergence of literary and visual impulses has something to do with the problems in the reception of pattern poetry.  Rather than creating singularities that diverge and are somehow beyond comprehension, the image unified with its content was dismissed as a visual pun – a naïve version of reality, simply not complex or serious enough to tackle enlightened notions of the “truth” that art was supposed to express.

2. As Higgins writes of pattern poetry: “it was never the predominant mode and… there were violent attacks upon it in each age in which it occurred; since the history of any poetry is always to some extent the history of responses to it, the antagonism which it aroused continued great during the colonial era, so that it fell into disrepute in one literature after another, eventually, by the 19th century, surviving only in comic, folk, or popular verse.”

3. Ben Jonson dismissed it as “a pair of scissors and a combe in verse.”  Montaigne claimed the pattern poem’s means of composition displayed subtleties which are “frivolous and vain.”  Perhaps Montaigne's objection was that it seems to turn poetry into a mere parlor game.  Divorced from the pursuit of truth, he disparages it as novelty, a mere amusement.  Visual puns generate mere iconic effects that don’t obligate us to think, and that violate the ideals of platonic form.

4. Another explanation for the poor reception is that visual and/or pattern poetry is non-modern and violates a sense of decorum or the tradition that privileges the purity of art forms.

5. “Thus the visual poem claims to abolish playfully the oldest oppositions of our alphabetic civilization: showing and naming; representing and telling; reproducing and articulating; imitating and signifying; looking and reading.”  -Michel Foucault 

6. Visual poetry is a constructive practice, it both shows and names, both represents and tells, etc.  Visual poetry stands outside these oppositions – they are irrelevant to its concerns.

7. In We Have Never Been Modern, Bruno Latour describes a world full of hybrid combinations of social and natural objects & subjects.  Humans were never divorced from nature.  Modernity attempts to purify the human and the natural realms, privileging the human realm, including language.  “The proliferation of quasi-objects [viz. the industrial revolution] was… greeted by three different strategies:” first, the ever-increasing separation between the poles of nature and that of society; second, the autonomization of language or meaning; third, the deconstruction of metaphysics.  [my paraphrase]

8. Elias Canetti on the dangers of mixing mediums: “the separate arts should live in the most chaste co-habitation.”  It’s as if the non-platonic intercourse between the word and the image would close up the space in which the reader can breathe.  Welcome to the Kama Sutra school of interconnection.

9. As Whitehead said: “life lurks in the interstices…”   The reader constitutes herself in the gaps.  But there's no reason to think that visual poems necessarily clog these interstices – even when they do aim at unity.  The reader’s faculties are not harmonized by an encounter with a visual poem.

10. The argument may really be about maximizing intensity and affect.  That a unified or closed hybrid object lacks allure.  To unify is a kind of destruction of possibility.

11. Since the world isn’t pure chaos, then there must be some pre-established harmony, even if that’s just a common ground for disagreement. 

12. Friction is an adventure.  The autobiography of a stone.  But there are no marriageable metaphors in a world of physical comedy.

13. “There is no science of the beautiful, but only critique.”  -Kant

14. The divorce of art and science, where science becomes fixated on efficient causes.  But don’t art and science need each other?  Tools with which to think and make marks. 

15. Poetry and other art forms are attached to human interests – they’re attempts to make alluring artifacts.  On the other hand, science demands answers that can be detached from human interest; science wants to eliminate artifacts of subjectivity (i.e., all traces of subjectivity) from the experimental apparatus.  Science wants to find reliable facts, to discover or explain mysteries of nature.

16. This said, art and poetry have always deployed technology or tools – much like science, e.g., the alphabet, the hand.  And science can never completely purify itself of the human artifact.  The experimental apparatus also attempts to uncover alluring facts, which might be precisely those facts that seem to have an alluring lack of human artifact.

17. The real source of this apparent contradiction may be the notion of human interest.  The hybrid objects or assemblages produced by visual poets are facts, regardless of how alluring they are to others.  Perhaps it's a question of what’s reliable (recognition, emotion) versus what allures (or what generates thinking, affect)?

18. “ for thinking are then the ones that address and actualize this power of the situation, that make it a matter of concern, in other words, make us think and not recognize.  When we deal with practices, recognition would lead to the question-- why should we take practices seriously as we know very well that they are in the process of being destroyed by Capitalism?  This is their 'sameness', indeed, the only difference being between the already destroyed one and the still-surviving ones.  The ecology of practices is a non-neutral tool as it entails the decisions never to accept Capitalist destruction as freeing the ground for anything but Capitalism itself.”   -Isabelle Stengers

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thoughts On Other Words (an erasure)

These anti-ocular repetitions become us 
I must have been referring to pills 
push-ups jacked to abstract length
Punched out moguls on our pale slope
Dumb bells by the dozens 
Your elegance a delirious lump of restored fat 

We’re rendered invisible
a quietude of pixilated transmission
where the point is to get from zero 
Sharp elbows and table salt

That’s nothing new – a sort of unlettered corpse
drumming a petition for difference
I got sideways – off the scheduled pulse.  Derailed
movement for those who refuse to move
or truncation for those in trunks 

Delicious life is thrown or imbued still
diced down
with this ring a turn of flowers anoints me
its circle becomes arabesque

Just think of the fact
wink their winks
divide the beasts that divide.  Injured and
edged out
the steady hand, the wavering tone

I hear monotheisms are all alike.  Big ears and sandals 
We ate their heros and lived to tell.  Do not forget to change
the subject
reduced to the simplest forms
I removed myself
one foot at a time.  Equal to 160 square rods by the acre 

To divulge a promissory, drag cash across a surface
sniffing air for something new.
Pricked with jellies
an exercise of teeth
dark with times impasse, emptied of curves
rhe better to simulate spin
spheres and tubes
parked in their boats

Rotations without mechanical parts
entice reaction
pellets in the eye

A traumatic exit closed the body to new investment
The wound reveals initiation or closure.  A classic carousel
She rides The Whip or The Deacon of Night
A sine wave
immanent poetic with no entrance
projectile arced or curved

We enclose work and let no light in 
The craven tune erased – forgetting time
the million daggers falling false from the sky 
image diluted
in search of a tree.  The desert plants
Each pleat an affirming push

Relief is as relief was.  The forgotten morsels
all feel
A tightrope on the appointed land
coming together to swim laps in
the sultan's soup.  His lips famished and unnaturally droll
Beyond leather bound – folded in time that stops
for no attack.  Time that gives the people what they want.

Birds until the night swallows their song.
Lost in the borough, no bridge to brook the flow, no sea to settle
The stoop birds approach.  The marvelous perch dispersed.

Testosterone Poisoning (an erasure)

The throat signals a kill.  Pairs of shoes toward sea.  Wheeze of lung an accordion bound in single key.  This chair holds the registry of yes.  Hats too feign to doff.  The choice is next to the price.  Below clavicle, just the eyes.  A banquet fills the hole.  A bouquet plugs disdain.

Seeds of various fruit, some rarely eaten.  As chance widens so skin alters and attention fixed.  Scraps of litter, the propagation of sounds.  Xylophone and oboe on ice.  Fog horns.  The baritone guitar.  The headline dissolves our stitches.  Wait for intermission.  Play the cocktail glass.  Ceaseless ringtail of impersonating tones. 

I sang the light and watched the shadow.  The hollow forms fiddle and bow – moving with some delicacy.  How does one make primary use of red?  To collect the preciousness of an inverse C.  Until the crayons ran out of color.  A gargantuan snag of me uphill.  Supine on their backs an instrument with heads attached.  The stars are out above the bivouac.  Black and blue concern of similar pitch.  It’s the fire we smote.  Aghast.

In the living breathing singing then.  A ceiling concludes six walls of comfort.  Certain autistic features in the vast overlap.  No taste of that old game. 

I wore no hat to signal my deficit.  The talk outside.  The danger of words.  Recall the quiver, some country lyric.  My teenaged thought echoes back –dangers of an early image.

This time was then.  Expelled until the unit L.  The fury of forced closure a tool for vicious conduct.  Stalemate of disconsolate autumn.  My binaries become you.  A sonic default.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Two Minute Dance -- take 2 -- for John Cage

[revised for centennial reading]

Whose circus jerks to attention
so precariously concerned
in this ring, in the grooves of this record

A refusal to capture what
time's body disguised
a precision meant to be obeyed
based on an equal presumption

His timing a cross between Buster Keaton and Beckett
Yes, comedy needs space
a precise place for delivery
a silent taunt
an admonishment heard there

Closing oneself off to prepare a sequence of images
to consciously work on becoming a nicer person

Regression of the germ
before the human
before language spoke, shhh!
We're watered and grown
we feed and feedback

Your mouth needs a body
it needs to ingest the word, the worlds of others
it needs to reject the “good taste” that “knows when to vomit”

Yes, the animal is a hierarchy of parts
living off the more democratic vegetation
The singular hedge makes its decision
solves the maze
Uncut from what translates

Beauty is what the parts do
Not what the whole is

Cage celebrates the finite event
A sneeze, the fidget of the person sitting next to you

To rescue music from its sublime failure – that is –
from our inability to grasp the total, the infinity of it
he instead induces us to sideline the subject
and embrace singularity

to feel how an act of experience constructs

Sunday, September 30, 2012

STAND UP & READ / like a loser

[5 minute version of 30 minute piece, as given at Convergence on Poetics conference at Bothell, WA yesterday]

 “Originally we wanted it to be improvised, but there wasn’t time, so we wrote it all out,” said the tenor sax.

“There is no time to be brief,”  said the Canadians.

“There is no character to hold to...” I said.  

 No time to make jokes, said the little birds, though this is precisely what is required for standing up. Words alone are never funny, & neither is this:
“You know why elephants don’t smoke? Because they can’t get their butts in the ash tray.”

I’ve been calling everything I do lately: reading like a loser (props to Malcolm Bull)... It is an  attempt to find an antidote to Nietzschean heroics, against Nietzsche’s pursuit of an artist-ocracy or an elitism that would deny many the right to exist. 

To read like a loser is to read “to one’s own overthrow.  It means assimilating a text in such a way that it is incompatible with one’s self.”  It is to make oneself passive and vulnerable, to make oneself a victim of the text. 

The first step is to acknowledge the lack of a ‘primary artistic force,’ that we are not alone in the world.  And similar to the first step in overcoming addiction, we need to admit that we are powerless, that one can’t solve the problem alone.  I can’t vouch for the other 11 steps.  but it is clear that collaboration is key.

Here’s Nietzsche: “I want wars in which the courageous & vital drive out all the others.”  So -- he wants to weed out “those who cannot withstand the thought of eternal recurrence, who are ‘unfit for life’.” 

I say, fuck that. Instead we should:

Imagine collective intelligence rather than solitary genius; immanence rather than transcendence; the beautiful rather than the sublime.

Imagine, how you belong and are obligated and attached – to what you do and how you do it.  Find the questions that matter – questions that make you think rather than recognize.

Imagine decision as something that happens to you – a decision without a decision maker... an embrace of precarious possibility.

Imagine being “responsible only for paying attention as best you can” – not abiding the power of some ‘general’ reason (that is, not abiding to a reason that is illustrative, mobilizing or unifying).

There is a big problem with the heroic, “reading for victory” tendencies that we get schooled in. Nietzsche is the prime example of this – since he does it so well. He’s fodder for young avant-gardists playing for victory, with their own jaded notions of purity.

Standup is heroic; it is a race to the punch line, a race to kill or be killed.  I’ve shuffled the deck. A punch line cannot exist without someone getting punched.  What’s funny is not necessarily logical, rather it is eco-logical.  Something is funny only in relation to its environment.  But that’s an incoherent translation…  If you make coherence funny, you win. 

How can we embrace expression - against ambition?  It is the opposite of transcendence. How can we resist being so easily accustomed?   Hold on to your bucket seats.... “In the US it is illegal to fund the study of defeat.”

 I'd forgotten about this poem which is the only thing I've ever written in the google blogger interface --but i recently noticed that it was getting more (probably) false hits -- by far -- than any other post. Maybe it's the presence of certain words -- fisted – or blackbox or blog.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ben Beres - Vortext

At Davidson Galleries, thru Sept 1.

Microwriting.  Opacity.  Beauty.

Go see it!  Here are translations of two pieces.

A Danger

A danger vortex for what?
It's about fucking pay back
I dare you to return to muse
A world on fire for kings
bottom dealing in queens


Muffled and jetset. The cold hands for blood drawn out. These are not appearance of mind. They are vicarious chill and darkness. Oblique tang as a spaceage translation, it lingers on the tongue. Rusticated bliss. Donkey kong. Theatre of bloody noses.

No Walking It Back

the process performs
as if it could add more life to life
It kicks out the jams and is kicked out
as if transfer of means is the past
pursuit of a limitless future

8. it isn't a zero sum game, is it?

not some singular mess
so don't bother me with particulars

7. the return of the same

coming to a theatre near you
muscle and bone

consumed the whole time
deformed at the cost of vigour

6. remember this banana tastes better than a dollar bill
5. workers revolve and appreciate
at a rate uncommon -- retreads
can't cotton to what's
already worn out

4. scarcely had my ditch been dug
spades violently churning
aces beat your pair of twos

extravagant animals sing the facts
intermediate equations with valves that count
no essence for the nonce

ask me in 10 years
a reproductive machine one curve off
to seek the fruits of time

2.  say what you will but stand by it

1. goodbye bug. yes, he's a cockroach
but he's our cockroach
bemoaning the point of conversion
of conversation

-blast it!
are we supposed to diagnose it
or just
add value to value

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Boxcars - for Steve Farmer

[an idiosyncratic translation of Steve Farmer's tremendous Caravaggio Boxcar Draft]


emotive capture
cupidity's tusk
exiled to action

a prison with legs


your subtraction a bridge
irrational shadow
for six shooters
trapped in space
the numbers or romans
can't paint

weeds where thought
is something to look at

looks like a military kitchen
no chicken in harlem
no film set asleep
north of that brawl
gritty match
whose flame speaks thru you

backwater hues
awhirl in lakes that scoff
to call back and haunt

(O to stay inside with (boy) toy semis
victorious spooning with light sauce)

No disabled
cuff as standing cells
breed wherever reparked
bodies desist

an eyepatch billows
its re-engineered pat-down
patent check for that deep drop
paradigm spiral thru you

Friday, June 22, 2012

Intro for Ball & Chain

[written for STAND UP & READ / like a loser]

B&C was written as a backdrop or voiceover for PE Class – which was one of the groupuscles of the Autonomous University. We read Marx’s Capital in a series of meetings in the basement of the henry gallery – in that lab space or tech lounge, where we could project recordings of soccer matches.

Most of us independently watched David Harvey’s on-line lecture series on Capital vol 1.  At the end of the 13th or 14th lecture, Harvey uses this quote: “hic Rhodus hic salta” – which I think comes from the 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon [START VIDEO].

This is also the source of that famous line from Marx: “Hegel [not funny] remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”  Note that the 18th Brumaire is about Napoleon’s nephew who was elected president of France – the nephew wasn’t the tragedy, he was the farce.   

Anyway, Harvey translates “Hic Rhodus hic salta” in effect to say: Enough talk, time for action!

I looked it up and it’s actually the punchline from a story of Aesop.  It’s the boast of an athlete (about how far he had jumped when he was visiting at Rhodes) which is countered by a heckler who says “this is Rhodes, let’s see you leap.”  Show us!  Hic Rhodus, hic salta.  

Ball & Chain (written out of the footnotes of vol 1 Capital).
It’s got an epigraph from Spinoza: People “will fight for their servitude as if for salvation.”

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Elias Canetti Notebook Excerpts - 3 of 3

This is the last of three posts of Canetti excerpts, i.e., recordings of the decisions that happened to me.  Post 1 here & 2 here.

From The Agony of Flies

If he had made good use of his time, he never would have amounted to anything. (127)

Whenever he is assaulted by adjectives, he becomes ridiculous. They contain his emotions. (127)

The misfortune of ethics: because it knows everything better, it learns nothing. (129)

How many people Nietzsche inspired with a craving for danger! Then the dangers materialized and they all failed miserably. (147)

Keep things apart, keep sentences separate, or else they turn into colors. (159)

His life is a search for everything that can't be sold. (99)

He collected all opinions to show how few there are. (199)

The desire to stay, a kind of bookkeeping. (227)

From Notes From Hampstead

“Voluptas ex felicitate alieni”
    -Leibniz (ecstacy from the happiness of another)

I have read my old sentences again; they are no longer mine. Since they were printed a piece of my life has fallen away... (83)

A thinker must forget that he is clever, else no matter what the field he will think only about his own cleverness. (84)

We write because we cannot speak out loud to ourselves. Speaking to others leads to the most unpredictable estrangements. (85)

It is necessary that we leave learning alone from time to time, that we put it away, not use it, almost forget it. It is precisely this compulsive quality ...that makes it necessary to let air into it, loosen it, fill it with the breath of years. It can be part of our nature only when it has given up its compulsiveness. (86)

A country where everyone walks backward, to keep an eye on themselves. A country where all turn their backs on one another: fear of eyes.

A labyrinth made of all the paths one has taken.

...the sole criterion of the epic talent: a knowledge of life even at its most horrific, a passionate love for it nonetheless, a love that never despairs, for it is inviolable even in its desperation. (90)

He was so good that no one ever remembered his name. (128)

She kills every man who won't love her. But she also kills every man who does.

“Nothing pleases me more than presenting a totally false picture of myself to those people I have taken into my heart. Perhaps this is unfair, but it is daring and, so, correct.”
    -Robert Walser, “Jakob Von Gunten” (129)

The English expression “I appreciate”: embarrassing. Its tone of “pressure” and “price,” as if one wanted to say, “I will keep pressing till the price is right.” But without the pressure, the price wouldn't mean anything. One of the arrogant expressions of the English language -- in this, the language is inimitable. (139-140)

Poets are unbearable to one another. You have to see them with other people to know what they're like. (141)

“A friend of mine”: one of the greediest English expressions when spoken.... The friend remains indefinite, unnamed; he is private property, protected.  (172)

It is always painful for me when I stop narrating. It is this pain that keeps me alive. (188)

“And that the likes of Shelley, Holderin, and Leopardi perish in misery means nothing; I think very little of such men.”  -Nietzsche (190)

I love the sense of justice Jews demand of people, their patience, often their kindness! But their obedience to the never ending threat of God disgusts me...  Can we stand up against a visible lord if we have no invisible lord?  A trying question. (190)

A writer who doesn't have a wound that's always open is no writer for me. (212)

One who sucks all the poison out of books and administers it to those around him in careful doses. (208)