Tuesday, June 28, 2005


the best thing and worst thing about TMN is that the links change every day. means if i want you to check out this sweetass "festival" in vienna, i have to link to it directly. also, those of political persuasions will find this interesting.

anyhoo, i've had rather an emotionally epic week. i'll save you the confessional stuff but will let you know that i went to two parties and had a very inebriated, amused, solo ride on the 42 back from west philly on saturday/sunday at, oh, 3:00 in the morning. and i saw Rize, which is WOW. go see it. i cried in the middle somewhere just because of its intensity. last night after 6" Under alan and i stumbled into one of our life coaching sessions...he's encouraging me to write and was explaining his was of understanding how to write fiction. "you've got to approach it as you write poetry," he said, and then gave me one of the most inspiring compliments of my life: "to read a whole novel in that voice--" he puts his hands on his heart and swooned, "--oh!"

i have been writing: one poem i'm happy with last week, some nebulous prosey stuff, and two journal entries that both ended in ecstasy. even today at lunch i tapped out a lengthy email on religion to wh, walked to minar palace thrilled despite the oppressing air. i'm trying to pay attention to how themes crystallize in my thought, how to usefully characterize my obsessions. i'll take suggestions. i am returning and returning to many memories of my early days, heady miami, deadening tallahassee, where, as i described it last night, i started accruing suffering.

yes, for one, i'd like to write about the end of speculation, a habit i took on in the face of stoney-visaged, though not unloving, protective parents, in the quiet suburb, in the anyhow corner of north florida -- an introverted life and the mystified conviction that everything was much more complicated than it actually was. to survive that -- not just to keep living but to know what one has experienced and to go beyond it -- is what i mean -- the great tectonic shuddering that knowledge and its awareness produces in such a person, the metaphysical frying pan, as i like to call it. the storm! and the calm that follows. it's like krumping.

Monday, June 13, 2005


does this mean we lost the war in Iraq?

here's the first sentencegraph: "A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,300 U.S. troops in the last two years."

whoopsy daisy.

also, anyone want to come to london with me to attend an intellectual history conference on conversations with angels? looks like fun to me.

Friday, June 10, 2005

ay ay ay ay ay cantaba

charles altieri is a literary phenomenologist at uc berkeley whose latest book is called The Particulars of Rapture. sounds like a lame title until you find out that it's from wallace stevens' "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" ("It Must Change," section IV). i haven't read it yet. my aesthetics professor once said in an email, regarding altieri, "there'd be no one better to study with than charlie."

i'm having a grad school sort of day, which is a sort that inevitably ends with me perusing course listings online and then sighing and closing the window out of dissatisfaction. but why? how do i get so excited about really really really academicky questions like, what are the full implications of the coextension of the histories of art and europe? and then read course descriptions -- or worse, dissertation topics -- and experience kind of violent slamming-shut of closets with monsters in them?

my best hypothesis on this is that i don't see the academic paper as an honest or fruitful mode of pursuing the questions i have. which is a damn shame, really, because universities are exactly the kind of institutions with exactly the kind of resources that could serve as a kickass incubator for all the stuff i'd like to explore. i guess that's what swat was supposed to be for. shucks. anyway, my current underdeveloped theory about why i'm so allergic to academic discourse is that it seems like a seriously weak and indirect way of addressing the sorts of problems that might feel urgent enough to motivate 7+ years of research and study in the first place. to be so obsessed with a problem that you essentially lock yourself away (note: from what?) for a good portion of a decade, and then to come out with some body of material that gets instantly boiled down to a one-sentence-or-less position that your colleagues have every motivation to dismantle, and roughly at that. really, i just want to resist the demand to take a position. i don't want to build a little cubby for myself and spend the rest of my life trying to get people to notice that i'm climbing out of it.

and the language is so evasively abstract. i'm reading an essay on "art" and "the arts" (yes - in quotes - the concepts) right now that begins with a description of what, grammatically, abstraction consists of. muy interessante. what, really, is the nature of this hovering above the concrete, as if once you touch down on something that anyone might see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, you'll be torn to pieces by the alligator of verifiability. you see, in this way, poetic language is much more honest. at least it makes fresh leaps across the lilypads, and puts its heart into helping its reader keep up. humanitarian academic discourse all too often acts more like a helicopter.

the rub is that these questions do, at least sometimes, feel incredibly urgent to me. my employer, a foundation that makes arts grants and absolutely has the agenda to "be on the leading edge" of funding, i guess, by ear-marking funds to donate to interdisciplinary collaborations among local artists. it sounds great except that, like the bush administration, i have next to no faith that they'll know how to approach such a thing intelligently. they only manage to fund good art in established genres because there are agreed-upon experts in these fields to come in and sit on grant-making panels and make the decisions about which projects are convincing. if my employer has no idea what makes a convincing interdisciplinary project, and there aren't many people around who do know, the initiative will likely fail. any maybe funding mediocre but superficially progressive art is better than funding nothing at all, but i'm not at all convinced that it's better than awarding the money to pretty good artists in established genres.

i've spent the past several months thinking about and researching different aspects of this question, and when i get passionate about it i want to take my boss's boss and shake him by the shoulders and say, WAKE UP ASSHOLE. JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE IN CHARGE OF THE MONEY DOESN'T MEAN YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. in fact it probably means that you don't. i really want philly to be hopping with great art of all genres, old, new, trans-, whatever, and for artists to make kickass concerts and productions and installations with one another, and i'm totally happy to go about doing the intellectual work of figuring out what will enable such a thing to come about. and though i may be a hair's breadth from being able to do that, i have the overriding sense of NO CIGAR. maybe it'd just be a kind of self-imperialism, anyway. maybe that's what power is.

i'll leave that one alone for now. i came up with this idea a couple weeks ago for Patron Saint Productions, an organization that would do that sort of thing, coordinate occasional, small-scale events designed to integrate and publicize various creative resources in the city. idea: EPR, named after the Education/Philosophy/Religion room in the free library, the contents of which i could invite local writers and artists to base works on, involving collaboration with librarians. idea: Schmlassical, battle of the bands style alternating performances between local broadly-pop acts and Curtis students. idea: Sex Ed, dance parties to benefit scientifically and historically accurate sex education in schools. as-yet untitled other idea: semi-private occasional dinners with all local ingredients, strategic invitations to important people in town, held in historic houses, with the invitation to buy local art, support the historic house (many of which around phila are struggling financially), learn about csa's.

i feel these are all good ideas, and i'm only beginning to get a sense of what already exists in philly. just finding or building a database of festivals and markets might be a clever place to start.

i gotta go, but i'll leave you with this little happy ending: i was thinking about "Talk to Her" the other day, and then when i was flipping channels that evening, it happened to be starting on IFC at that instant. coincidink. gorgeous as ever, and again made me desperate to go to spain. so today i went surfing through Life in Seville, and found another reason to go: a weekly animal fair! PUPPIES!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

where to begin?

i have no idea. sometimes all it takes is a few days to overflow on blog juice.

so. i do have to move. with a relatively uncharacteristic gesture, i flicked off my answering machine while listening to my landlord's wife repeat to the room that my house will probably be rented to someone else by august 15th. it's not that i'm so mad, i just think she's got crap reasons for kicking us to the curb, which she'd have realized if she'd talked to us for 5 minutes before she'd made up her mind. "i'm sorry, but i've made up my mind," she said to alan, which, one realizes, is a performative statement when one has rights to property. blah. i've given myself til the end of the week or so to make up my mind about all this. lots of interesting bits floating around, and a phone call with a senior monastic at fire lotus hopefully scheduled for today or tomorrow evening.

alum weekend happened. for me, it was exhausting and rife with old feelings. uncorked a lot of emotion, as well as bottles of wine. actually, the weekend had the precision of a scientific experiment: with repeated conditions, i went through exactly the same shit i did while i was a student: whimsical ringleader, wistful wanderer, announcer-of-bedtime, spiritual alien, surprise-in-a-dress, dodger of inappropriate remarks, cuddler with girls, one half of the platonic form of Roommates, delighter in plants and babies, religion department skeptic and secreter away of short dialogues with cute boys. friends are the best. i only cried for eric. more hugging than i've done probably since i graduated. when i did laundry last night my socks were full of mica.