Archive for December, 2021

December 31, 2021

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December 28, 2021

Two drops from a shaken wet tree above me:  one that merely grazes my right arm’s hairs before continuing its descent; the other which strikes my arm but is so slight and insignificant a point of moisture that it leaves no mark — as if the effort to instill me with a sensation of itself had caused it to expire and be vanish.

December 25, 2021

“Same angular velocity”: as my head swiveled toward that woman across the street, that woman across the street raised her thermos to her mouth.

Man watering garden plants in same careless manner you’d hose anything down — mud from sidewalk, soap off car… Loose grip on nozzle handle; a waving motion so lackadaisical it could be interpreted either as circular or side to side; sprays lawn and perimeter fence as much as garden.

Toddler walking in grass nearby. Though so small, he seems to walk like a giant, raising feet much higher than necessary.

Oddly tone-deaf Sherwin-Williams ad on truck side. It seems to enjoin us to “cover the world in paint” and portrays a globe being immersed in a paint can.

Looking away from staring at a stranger (middle-aged white woman putting stuff in the back of her parked car at the Quadruple A) to discover I am myself being stared at by a stranger (young Latino garbage man in full-on reflective gear, appearing out of “alley” of Quadruple A.)

Squirrel’s scrambling path describes trapezoidal pattern when I approach –each corner a reconsideration– then clambers up ornamental tree.

Counting several seconds behind the watch: when it says 47, you think 44, when it says 48, you think 45 (achieving what when you do this?) (Trying to beat, to otherwise get at, Time.) (Disorient your own notions of it, you perhaps mean.) (Right.)

Rectangle of sky seen between the four tires of the ART bus as it crests the Walter Reed Hill. This now trapezoidal space of sky has suddenly emerged between its tires, but is almost as quickly occluded by the front of the bus, then the bus itself is concealed by the hill.

My head having already been turned to a greater than 90 degree angle – or so it feels with my eyes continuing to scroll – I must either stop my forward progression, or stop watching the tennis players.

What is the relationship between the stone garden gnome on the steps and the weeping willow in the yard? (Only willow on the route though not the only gnome.)

The only willow, the only seated gnome on the stairs, the only freestanding flagpole in the yard, its halyards causing something to repeatedly clank in the wind just now.

The Meager Content of the Life of Malone

December 19, 2021

What do I think is important about Samuel Beckett’s writing– Formerly I would have said something about the style, but now the content is striking me as no less important: life stripped bare of illusions and consolations.

Malone is Job, not in the sense that he is reduced from a great position to a bereft one, but in the sense that both his sufferings and gratifications are pathetically meager, the peaks and valleys existing at the same bereftly monotonous level, yet he bears up under it. The style being the proof he bears up — that he is able to endure his life’s content.

“Court packing” is not the same as increasing the number of Supreme Court justices.

December 13, 2021

 Court-packing is of course wrong, if the aim is depoliticize the selection of Supreme Court justices, but that’s not the same as increasing the number of justices on the Court, (which could, for example, be done by staggering the selection of additional justices over several administrations), which the authors of this article don’t address. 

Similarly, their criticism of term limits for Supreme Court justices is a criticism of a specific way of arranging such limits, not of the practice in general.

The authors seem rather more concerned with how to defend the Court from what they perceive as further politicization than with the question of how we can make it less political — and their use of word “court-packing” suggests that the question itself has become politicized without their being aware of it.

On the other hand, they do helpfully link to Hamilton’s Federalist 78 about the judiciary, which I haven’t encountered in decades and should study. 

At first blush, it seems Hamilton is saying that the permanency of judicial term limits is “indispensable” because the courts represent the weakest of the three branches of government, which is interesting and not how I tend to think about the Supreme Court at all; serving to remind us that the Court, unlike the other Branches, does not have an army or checkbook at its disposal. 

I believe that the problem that people are seeing, however, is that the distinctions between branches of government are fast disappearing while the distinctions between factions are fast increasing. 

You can see this very clearly in the executive and legislative branches, particularly under the former President, but it is occurring in the Supreme Court as well, where decisions have been made that not only bolster Republican causes (Heller, Hobby Lobby immediately come to mind) but directly bolster Republican political power: Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, and Shelby, to name the most visible. 

You can see it in the number of decisions split upon party lines. You can see it in the way that the more weakly argued opinions tend to be those of the majority.  You can see it in the absurdly contentious nominating process and the dark money that goes into it. And, of course, justices don’t help the cause of judicial independence when they fraternize with high ranking officials and wealthy donors from their own party. 

Very worrisome.

Funambulista: Might history and poetry border each other in energy “quanta” of human experience?

December 12, 2021

. fun. To ambulate is to walk of course. fun. related to funicular but apparently not to funnel. I think of the cord of water of a whirlpool, that the whirlpool is a funnel. Cuerda. “Cuerda de l’acera.” Opposite of that but getting into the spirit of the word by holding my arms out for a moment, walking with one foot directly in front of the other for a moment Funambulista. tight rope walker, which immediately evokes early 20th century Germanic writing, Zarathustra …

It seems essential to the understanding of what I call my project that what I’ve been after here is not poetry at all but fact and history, microhistory they call it, looking for hitherto unfound facts in the tiniest slivers of perception. Probably, I ought to have been after poetry. Maybe I have been after poetry without quite acknowledging it, because I have been so far from attaining poetry. And maybe, which is not the same thing, “facts at the tiniest slivers” of perception are closely related to poetry, as represented by Duchamp’s inframince and maybe haiku. Maybe the atoms of aesthetics and history are the same at this point. Might history and poetry border each other in very brief moments, in energy “quanta” of human experience?

Coinage of Samwyttry

December 10, 2021

Coinage of Samwyttry –portmanteau of sandwich and symmetry— conceived of. When four different customers order, consecutively, a chicken salad sandwich, a cold turkey sandwich, a cold turkey sandwich, and a chicken salad sandwich, that could be said to be an instance of Sammytry (alternate spelling). Samwyttry could also be a portmanteau of sandwich and trajectory — (a) the path traversed by a sandwich as it slips from a plate to the floor (b) the path traversed from plate to mouth. 

December 10, 2021

Attendant didn’t know what an I Phone charger looked like. Here, he said, when the customer asked if he had one, producing a bucket full of customers’ left chords, adapters, chargers and such things. (Customer found one in the jumble and, what was an even greater surprise, it worked.)

December 9, 2021

Le soleil ni la mort ne se peuvent regarder fixement.

Neither death nor the sun may be looked at fixedly.


December 7, 2021

Idea that the opening of Infinite Jest contains the same dilemma as in The Metamorphosis — a monstrous outer appearance, inner normalcy.

Romans were to Indigenous Americans as Europeans were to Germanic tribes

December 5, 2021

Regarding this idea, I put it to the customers: did they think it was possible to make a meaningful analogy between the interactions of Europeans and Indigenous Americans and those of the Romans with the Germanic tribes?

Either (a) Romans were to Europeans as Native Americans were Germanic Tribes;

or (b) Romans were to Germanic tribes as Europeans were to Indigenous Americans;

or (c) Romans were to Indigenous Americans as Europeans were to Germanic tribes…?

or what have you. Pretty much everyone said no, there was no meaningful analogy to be made there but thought the question rose interesting issues and was a good catalyst for discussion.