September 29, 2013

“And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you,

you are for you; your body is yours, take it. I know

why you haven’t written. (And why I didn’t write

before the age of twenty-seven.) Because writing

is at once too high, too great for you, it’s reserved

for the great—that is for “great men”; and it’s “silly.”

Besides, you’ve written a little, but in secret. And it

wasn’t good, because it was in secret, and because you

punished yourself for writing, because you didn’t go

all the way, or because you wrote, irresistibly, as when

we would masturbate in secret, not to go further, but

to attenuate the tension a bit, just enough to take the

edge off. And then as soon as we come, we go and

make ourselves feel guilty—so as to be forgiven; or to

forget, to bury it until the next time.”


- Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa from The

Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism

sense of self

February 20, 2012

“That Hole at the core of Laney’s being, that underlying absence, he begins to suspect, is not so much an absence in the self as of the self. Something has happened to him since his descent into the cardboard city. He has started to see that previously he had, in some unthinkably literal way, no self. But what was there, he wonders, before? Sub-routines: maladaptive survival behaviours desperately conspiring to approximate a prescence that would be, and never quite be, Laney. And he has never known this before, although he knows that he has always, somehow, been aware of something having been desperately and utterly wrong.”

- All Tomorrow’s Parties, William Gibson

Which makes me think of this:

“At first it seemed, from what Temple told me, that the ‘appropriated’ David, and his skill, had been swallowed whole, existed as only a sort of implant or foreign body within her and was only slowly integrated to become part of her. Another gifted (and poetic) autistic woman has compared herself, in this regard, to a boa constrictor, swallowing entire animals whole, but only very slowly being able to assimilate them. Sometimes the swallowed role or skill seems not to be properly assimilated or integrated and may be lost or expelled as suddenly as it was acquired – thus the tendency (especially marked in younger autistic savants) to engulf complex skills or personas or masses of information wholesale, to juggle with these for a while, and then suddenly to relinquish or forget them with such completeness that they seem to pass through without leaving any residue whatever.”

- Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars

February 16, 2012

Excerpts from In That Great River: A Notebook by Anna Kamienska

The sky creaks with the plumes of unread poets.

*     *     *

Joy in the body.

Joy in objects made of wood, fiber, clay, from materials akin to ours, dear and lovely. The world’s consanguinity.

*     *     *

Emmanuel Mounier describes the notion of environment poetically. The environment is not everything that surrounds us. It is only that which may become our experience and possesses the power of incarnation.

“Precisely that winding road transforming proximity into incarnation turns the whole human environment, from bodily fluids and blood to the starry heavens above our heads, into the living body of our life. Anything that has not been experienced this way has not yet become a human environment.”

So things, stars, people must become my body in order to exist for me.

The same holds for poetry.

*     *     *

The eyes of an insect. Perceiving details through the inability to grasp the whole.

*     *     *

You left me a bequest: the earth, birds, trees. But I don’t know what to do with them.

*     *     *

The hell of unwritten poems.

*     *     *

The proximity of distance.

*     *     *

Writing down your thoughts is both necessary and harmful. It leads to eccentricity, narcissism, preserves what should be let go. On the other hand, these notes intensify the inner life, which, left unexpressed, slips through your fingers. If only I could find a better kind of journal, humbler, one that would preserve the same thoughts, the same flesh of life, which is worth saving.

*     *     *

“The child is intimately familiar with objects. Adults have abandoned their homeland in the realm of objects. They wander about a world that has become strange to them; restless and threatening, like animals seized with fear.

The child senses this and strikes up a friendship with objects, for example, with a large table…” (Jurger Bechelmann, “Notes of a Young Man from a Better Family”)

*     *     *

Father J. tells me about his theory. Every time he has an inner question, it is always answered unexpectedly by someone entering the room, by an overheard conversation.

*     *     *

I like Simone Weil’s idea that writing is actually the translation of a text we already carry within us. That notion makes a heavy task lighter.

*     *     *

For all my inner struggles, I know that as a writer I ended on exactly the 22nd of December, 1967. Now it’s just convulsions.

February 1, 2012


Imagined Pixelation Syndrome: believing that your face is fragmenting into tiny squares, and that people can no longer recognise you.


“I examine bar codes, wondering what it would be like to have only laser sight. I stare at handwriting until the loops and whorls stop being words, syllables, and even letters, and become no more than manic pulses brain wave transformed into muscle twitch, traced in the seismograph of our ink-hemorrhaging prosthetic appendages. I gaze at my city streets, running my eyes over the scars on its knees, feeling a refracted rainbow of urban skin interring a personal history of human frailty. I have a polymorphously perverted sense of physical praxis with objects. It’s not that I’m more object-curious or infrastructurally dirty-minded than most; it’s just that once you start to think about what things are wearing underneath their exterior semiotic reality, it’s pretty hard to calm down. Thankfully, the city invites my oddly tactile greeting, smiling and warming to my touch.”

“How many appliances in your house have a digital chime? Can you tell them apart? What do you gain from recognizing the voice of your coffee grinder, your toaster oven, and your iron? What are they telling you that you could not have gleaned from the smell of ground coffee, fresh toast, or a burned shirt?

I would rather my appliances and infrastructure danced for no reason, other than they feel sexy. I want machines to make nerdy inside jokes into street art. I want the Internet of Things to turn Things into Graffiti Artists, Dancers, and Street Performers. An unpredictable sense of humor and a good story about a scar makes a body more sexy than an exposed sexual organ and a symbolic sheen of lipstick.”

- excerpts from City of QR Codes, Adam Rothstein

January 26, 2012

‘I don’t think nostalgia is a healthy modality. But nostalgia and a sense of history are not the same thing. Nostalgia is a dysfunction of the historical impulse, or a corruption of the historical impulse.’

- William Gibson, from an interview by Jesse Hicks, The Verge

predicting the present

Science fiction survives on its metaphors, catching an echo from the human context then rifling current science for an image or chain of images to act as a correlative. The rationales behind this project (including the rationale that it’s all rational, the claim that the project has, or should have, more in common with scientific discourse than poetic or political discourse) are less important to the general reader than the excitement of the found image. Science fiction is not read as a form of peer-reviewed publication.

- m john harrison


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