Friday, May 27, 2011

Approaching THE Role of Art-Making and the Arts in the Research University with caution: a response to Universities in the Service of the Imagination

How well intended the event was, scientists, Deans, University Presidents, major award festooned Professors, some acknowledged and applauded, some anonymous in an audience that also included artists, makers, students, faculty, members of local and visiting communities, and others there to listen to a keynote address on a subject to which most of those present were already committed. I identified as one of the committed, entering Rackham Auditorium with skepticism in check; after all, I was a maker in a research university, connected to the arts engine (as fuel and as exhaust) hosting the event, and I indeed had a role as an audience member, but a role that changed almost immediately as the opening session began, my feet, legs, head, torso responding to irresistible music of The Gratitude Steel Band;

I danced in my seat to what turned out to be an enjoyable conventional role for the band: background music, organized sound to help focus time spent waiting for the speakers, entrance and exit music, pretty sonic bookends.

I liked this music, and entertained (some of the Gratitude Steel Band’s role of course was to entertain) ideas of allowing movement of my body to interact with the sound of Gratitude, to be sculpted and resculpted according to tempo, modulation, and rhythm more visibly, right up there on the stage, but knowing what happened to Whitney Houston, whose established role has been stage performance, when she wanted to respond more forcefully to Prince’s music at his concerts, I decided against possibly being taken to rehab where some of the role of art-making would be therapeutic.

I didn’t hide these simple involuntary rhythmic responses to Gratitude’s music, but responses were tamed; there was no Pentecostal context that couldn’t be over-ridden; no Baptist fervor to which I might respond in an ecstasy of salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus that makes my mother dance, that enables dancing with a Holy Ghost partner, as most other times, she needs a walker (or the return of my father after 30 years in the grave —she believes that's possible too). So there is power in vibrations pulsing through the body, temporarily regulating movements of components of body to these rhythms that are incredibly intimate, invisibly entering ears, tickling cilia, Holy tickling when God is vibrating in a sermon, in a gospel choir, in responses to calls from praying deacons and deaconesses. In those moments in which body and sound are linked, there is collaboration, one informing another, inciting another to more intensity to a peak preceding decline at which point feeling and memory have chances to prolong effects and to shape meanings, heart rate gradually decreasing, temperature dropping, little transparent pills of sweat evaporating into an atmosphere that was a component of host system of event, that atmosphere marked with evaporation. What was built dissipated, including a promise I’d built for the event, seduced by role, art-making, art, and research cozy in the same sentence, not even separated by commas in the printed program. Members of the same family, royal cousins marrying (distant) cousins to keep their elite advantage elite, exclusive; side-by-side on a research throne.

The Role should have alerted me more quickly than it did; perhaps I was too caught up in hope that I was configuring with my own ideas about art-making, art, and research interfaces, hope that I also knew to function as an intangible snare that can exert enormous power because it often wrangles spirit, mind which many consider the throne of thinking, creativity, and imagination. But I knew to question knowing, so I slid comfortably into that hope,

accepting my role in accepting what was to be offered about the role. Before long, after listening to speakers validate art-making and the arts through art’s ability to produce and maintain cultural relevance, through art-making and the arts exercising of the senses, and through art-making and the arts’ key roles as connections that enable relationships between senses and mind, and between senses and imagination, art-making and art outcomes as evidence, witnesses, and offspring of these relationships, it became necessary to reconfigure my expectations. Because of art-making and art’s association with creativity, almost considered, it seemed from the talks, co- and the only owners of creativity, as if all that is made (by humans in particular, in this role-establishing event) is not also created, as if create did not mean to make, initially without restriction on what is made or created, as if creativity no longer can or perhaps even should mean only a process of creative ability or a process of ability to make —anything. There, it’s true that art may be an outcome of such making, such creation, as anything else made may be. Art is not the only baby made as outcomes of making. Science without creativity? without making anything? without any innovation? How to get ideas for an experiment? How to create something to research? To create a surgical procedure? To make prosthetics? The art of breast augmentation, the art-making of breast implants, the less common art of breast reduction (some geometry there, some parabolic hocus-pocus)? Creative writing and no other written forms may be considered forms of expression? Things can be created, can be made that are functional with or without an additional aesthetic classification (creating taxonomies? lexicons? dictionaries? evolutionary trees (phylogenetic trees) that both inform and beautify?) that would not necessarily be permanent or universal, beauty being variable, interpretable, shifting culturally, personally, etc., having definitions that are also made (lip plates, neck rings, manolo blahnik stilettos).


Above: some economy of image; a visual poam.

I’m probably beating this point to the death of aesthetic quality: I am creating that death, taking responsibility for the quality of that death, making it in a piece of writing, that in order to be a poem, would necessarily offer a lesson in the economy of words, to quote the keynote speaker who expressed the value of poetry as a literary location where we learn the economy of words, a statement fraught with assumption that does not serve well a position of universities in service to imagination. Indeed, the talks, with a notable exception, were fraught with assumption, assumption that confined thinking to a relationship with that assumption, and a path that leads from that assumption to extensions of that assumption that go somewhere, yes; but only where that assumption can go; possibilities of that assumption, perhaps apparently infinite, but a limited infinity, infinite within a context based on assumption. This statement from the keynote speaker betrays a lack of imagination in defining poetry, in a failure to allow for a possibility of a more complex configuration of a system of poetry that is itself configurable; indeed, shockingly betrays, since the speaker decided to go there, proclaiming an embrace of poetry as an example of a university (she has the agency as president to represent one) caught in the act of serving imagination; rather shockingly betrays a lack of knowledge about existing and emerging forms of poetry (and suggests a lack of having entertained a possibility of emerging forms of poetry), a betrayal that is a form of disservice to imagination in its imposing on poetry, whether intentionally or not, a narrow and traditional configuration that apparently doesn’t advocate exploration or experimentation or innovation: three components of research. Most surprising and disappointing to me is how embedded in the statement is an assumption that poetry could be static, relatively unchanging so that the role assigned to it at some unspecified point in time (in order for assumption to have become a part of the speaker’s knowledge in which she has confidence so does not doubt the statement despite its lack of imagination) remains poetry’s role. Poetry’s, it would seem, unchanging and unchangeable role.

Because of poetry’s intense (but not exclusive) association with metaphor (a form of equation), poetry may be easily considered a reliable source for lexical comparisons and equivalences that even science might turn to when, say, a discovery is made in, say, Biochemistry, for which there might not already be in place a classification, an established reference for something new, something emerging, metaphor serving as placeholder, or a helper to introduce something new through linking it to something already familiar as a (temporary) point of reference. Metaphor offers a formula for comparison (a form of interaction) whose possibilities have not been exhausted if in service to possibilities of metaphor, those serving those possibilities delve beyond (created) confines of how that formula has been applied. Using the mind at all, whether performing complex mathematical computations or composing a sonata or slamming a poem in a bar, for instance, involves biochemical and electrical processes in the brain. That very brain that produces science also produces art-making, the arts, and imagination; the brain is in service to all of these, that mock mushy cauliflower of brain —metaphor alert!— is the throne which they occupy, share. Metaphor is able to anchor itself in both the known and the emerging, the dull and the lively simultaneously, offering dual lenses that offer more opportunities when those lenses are not identical, when they share something akin to left and right hemispheric flavors of a brain. It can maintain a foothold in the known (a kind of root system) while bifurcating into less known areas —as when, for instance,

SEM imagery reveals structures on scales for which existing terminology seems to suffer from temporary or apparent inexactitude, and metaphor helps, (perhaps temporarily) configure understanding through a link of new and unnamed with something known that apparently has (perhaps only superficially) similar features or structures or behaviors until such time as more is known about a discovery to render metaphor unnecessary except for aesthetic purposes that help transform science itself into its visual aesthetic potential or its sonic aesthetic potential or its tactile aesthetic potential without additional drawing or painting or rhyming or dancing: science itself may have aesthetic potential and value of its own. Senses of anyone (scientists and strippers, for instance, or scientists who are strippers) can lead to pleasure and disgust, and encourage a seeking of what provides pleasure. Science is not exempt from pleasure-seeking. Entire industries depend on a love of pleasure-seeking and temporary pleasure-finding, that like hunger and satiation, tends to be cyclic, recurring, necessary for some success of capitalism. An initial look at what SEM imagery reveals invites visual associations, connections with what is already in a seer’s visual memory bank

(I am presuming visual ability and visual success; I am not addressing tactile modalities of engagement —please pardon the negligence— but in tactile engagement of images, there are still possibilities of identifying familiarity of structural interface with fingertips; I think of Touch the Universe, for instance, a book that makes meaningful cosmic structures through tactile engagement for the visually impaired)

—something familiar might be recognized, perhaps erroneously in a first encounter in which excitement’s role might not be well controlled, enabling cross-scale connections, maybe even identification of a structural icon that seems to repeat throughout existence on multiple scales —a basic unit of structure, a basic unit of structure available to host configurable meanings, an ability that is essentially collaborative. Of course I have assumptions of my own. I'm offering alternative assessment to that role and to that service than what was so narrowly presented and, accordingly, likely also narrowly considered.

Like many there, I too have interest in collaboration and attempt to make collaborative ventures a routine part of my practice (indeed; I believe that making collaborative ventures a routine part of practice is inevitable, inescapable, a default mode of existing as long as that existence and its components have contact with anything). Most speakers acknowledged interdisciplinarity, were champions of it, supporters of a predictable range of intellectual and aesthetic cross-pollination, that is to say, expected mergers, infusing science and engineering with various modalities of creative process: visual, sonic, tactile, moving, implying that: All will explore art-making and the arts, but without a corresponding demand for art-makers to infuse their practice with more intellectual accountability and protocols of good experimentation (which would include good documentation), some of which might parallel protocols of scientific experimentation or even extend and/or reconfigure what good experimentation can be as it too evolves. There also happens to be some polysyllabic tastiness in the word interdisciplinary; I delight in saying it, and perhaps others do too, after a while becoming enticed by some deliciousness of what happens to tongue, twice kissing backs of upper teeth to say it, a puff of air escaping as mouth purses around ter, and tongue hits a hi-hat palate —some pleasure can be mined there. And that can be enough: mouth and lip service, oral fixation of saying the interdisciplinary-it word daily, proudly, without any unexpected interdisciplinary action following. I say this because of a tendency to mine for rather predictable products; sciences elevating art-making through pairings of artists with scientists and engineers, those who can supply technical interfaces of discovery and breakthrough offering what is more likely to elude someone whose training has been limited to creative rigor rather than quantitative rigor, competing, some thing, systems of logic and insight.

Speaking the interdisciplinary system activated by speaking fork (a video illustrating an essay on Limited Fork Theory: and its offering of multiple ways of studying interacting systems):

Though perhaps unintentional, it did seem that a consensus among speakers (there was one notable exception) was that research components of the university were more likely to elevate and extend expectations of art-making and the arts, through finding ways of integrating (appreciation of) art-making and the arts (as conventionally defined) into research practices, art-making and the arts benefiting from this association, as if without this association, art-making and the arts might not take on a certain kind of heft, certain kind of consequence, certain kind of intellectual respect. Some art-makers do of course maintain infusions of intellectual accountability in their practice, but the role of art-making and the arts in the research university is not to be configured as a broadening of such infusions or an exploring of intellectual rigor of art-making, encouraging emergence of theories of both personal and general art-making based on, for instance, rigorous study of decisions made, outcomes of attempts, reconfigurations and revisions of questions being asked as emerging answers are evaluated, or as alternatives to having to have answers are both imagined and constructed, art-making process documented carefully and analyzed, perhaps exposing rules at work in process, and offering opportunities to vary those rules, to explore making according to variable rules of experiments in making —this to address accountability of any maker, and to help any maker develop a vocabulary for each instance of making practice. Reversal of flexibility given to science and engineering to find value in art-making and the arts was not given to art-making and the arts to find value in science and engineering as host of connection. It became clear just what was being designated savior (of art -making and the arts) and what was being designated (in need of being) saved. Science and engineering host, invite art-making and the arts to bring creative process into disciplines of science and engineering but art-making and the arts are not viewed as hosts of science and engineering, as providers of viable sources for, for example, conventional NSF fundable and career-making experiment configuration.

What is considered Creative Practice does not (have to [when/if it does]) depend on arbitrary gestures.

Art-making and the arts were too defined by most of the speakers for any other possibilities to emerge. Paths offered are well-established. Significant and historic trailblazers and their loyal scholar-followers have kept these paths paved and determined, sometimes to a point of rut-formation, a sentiment advanced by one of seven speakers who warned against excessive bowing to what has been canonized, and against fortresses of disciplinary silos (forms of Big Bad Wolves) that grow naturally out of internal organizational structures whose roots are dense. More fire from blazing new trails might burn away some of that density, however. In some of these silos, opportunities emerge that are labelled opportunities, such as interdisciplinary opportunities that, unfortunately depend on having divisions that a doctrine of silos creates and maintains. What would/could interdisciplinary studies try to merge if there no clear-cut separate disciplinary silos? These divisions are products of fantasies of silos. Remove fantasy barriers, and connections already present might have opportunity to emerge (become visible to those unable ti see them). Disciplinary silos and their resulting assumptions offer but one system of organization of information, but not a system of information organization that information being organized requires. There are other systems. This current approach to interdisciplinarity betrays itself by seeking to join the disciplines, by accepting the appropriateness of these divisions; interdisciplinarity seems to maintain a loyalty to those disciplines, so will form a seam where these junctures occur, a fault line where these interdisciplinary junctures are vulnerable and susceptible to rupture. Rather easy to rip apart or ignore by moving closer to the interior of a discipline rather than remaining on the boundaries where interaction is less easily avoided. Only those hired or assigned to boundary or fringe positions will commit to an interdisciplinary ideology that occupies boundaries and fringes with them. This is not an integrative approach that assumes information is already connected, and that encourages configurations and reconfigurations of these connections. It is not necessary to build an interdisciplinary bridge to link that which is already linked —throughout, not just on the fringes. Such bridges become necessary when disciplinary silos (and factories of disciplinary silos) have been built, and travel from one silo to another is impeded and perhaps even discouraged by the silos themselves and by associated perceived differences that feed a logic of division and separation. Perhaps a role of art-making and the arts can be some dismantling of silos. Perhaps some of a university’s service to imagination can be imagining a university without enforcement of those silos even though Rita Dove in her text poem comments on how erection of (disciplinary) silos does not protect those silos from metaphor, from art-making about the silos themselves; indeed, protection from metaphor fails in the first word, an uncertainty of like, an admitting of doubt, texture of possibility, encouragement of continuing a system of questioning, like what else? and what else? —not in a search for the definitive, but a search for likeness, a study of likeness, a study of an apparent inevitability of likeness should it turn out that there is a like equivalence for anything, for everything, etc.:


Like martial swans in spring paraded against the city sky’s
shabby blue, they were always too white and
suddenly there.

They were never fingers, never xylophones, although once
a stranger said they put him in mind of Pan’s pipes
and all the lost songs of Greece. But to the townspeople
they were like cigarettes, the smell chewy and bitter
like a field shorn of milkweed, or beer brewing, or
a fingernail scorched over a flame.

No, no, exclaimed the children. They’re a fresh packet of chalk,
dreading math work.

They were masculine toys. They were tall wishes. They
were the ribs of the modern world.


Of course, there’s more art-making work that can be done upon investigating particular silos, particular circumstances of geography, climate, economy, etc. From what distance does this consideration of silos occur? As that distance changes, as various climates fluctuate, what can be said about particular silos that accounts for some implications of emerging configurable information? From which angles of consideration, etc. Silo uniformity or something else? Which town? Do sociological implications of silos vary from town to town? Small owner silos versus corporate silos? What of silo shadows? Light-interface silo shadows and economic-interface silo shadows, for instance? What happens to abandoned silos? What are circumstances of abandonment? Etc. Do these tall structures of certain towns scrape the sky well? What about other configurations of scraping sky, urban development, satellites, ozone layer, etc.

The role of art-making and the arts wasn’t configurable in silos of the speakers’ imagination. In those silos that were better entered with compression, not expansion of the mind, in their ability to implement rules of inclusion and exclusion without having to state the rules, I learned that every undergraduate has an opportunity for a meaningful encounter with art at Princeton, the nature of which was not defined, but as it is a meaningful encounter, it could be a singular event

(as opposed to a seeking of a way to integrate that heightened level of perception throughout a life, a student as an integrated person in whom information should mingle anyway, what is encountered across the disciplines converging in a single person, a single life, not a person with silos in the mind to prevent mingling of information from all sources);

a singular event that according to the speaker, exposes non-artist students to that heightened perception artists are known for —heightened perception that non-artist students evidently wouldn't encounter in pursuit of their more practical majors and careers —heightened perception that a meteorologist wouldn’t need, that an archeologist would need, that a scientist (paleontologist/molecular biologist, etc.) studying genetic or evolutionary memory wouldn’t need in turning back on, genes that have gone dormant in an evolutionary journey from dinosaur to chicken, resulting in these rather imaginative living embryonic sculptures of Gallus gallus domesticus with elongated dinosaurian tails, beaks of jurassic-appropriate teeth, and every reason, from a current status of fossil evidence, to keep their feathers.

How much better this work will become once those researchers acquire that heightened perception all undergraduate students will encounter meaningfully at least once: a meaningful encounter. Certainly, nothing in the keynote address precluded undergraduate opportunities for multiple encounters, but heightened perception and heightened sensitivity to how words are used when applied outside of the speaker’s customary academic silo —pictures painted with words, sounds words make in translations from transmission to reception, some of it discordant to some ears, and textures of those translations, for instance— might help the speakers at the event better understand (or be able to notice them at all) rules at work in their configurations of research, art-making, and the arts, configurations they in all likelihood inherited, acquired, learned in institutions similar to the research institutions they now lead; configurations that neither research nor imagination helped them reconfigure into discoveries that are less likely, not impossible, but less likely to occur when art-making and the arts are perceived as that which (only) enriches society while scientific research performs, it is implied, some other role in society, something evidently more quantitatively significant because the research university can extend life-support (implying a need for such support to stave off certain kinds of death of art-making and the arts, or to resuscitate when death is either in progress or has just occurred, research, it is implied, being healthier and in a better position to save; indeed a [presumed superior] intellectual rigor of [scientific] research suggests and supports competency of the research university to save art-making and the arts, something policy-reconfigurations could render moot [rhymes with research loot]).

What was stated was open to these interpretations; configurations of the speakers’ words and ideas did not include limiting factors that could reduce emergence of interpretations such as what this response offers —variables that this response delivers could have been reduced though a revision of phrasing and a revision of thinking that is a parent of that phrasing, thinking also a parent of policy; a failure to anticipate such variables when preparing speeches and the keynote address was just not good science, a form of science, but not a good form —unacceptable is a lack of awareness of where those ideas and configuration of them into utterance was weak, allowing some sentiments expressed to be historical, obsolete or even, worse, irrelevant as they applied to forms of art-making and the arts that are not the exclusive forms practiced —just how much research of art-making and the arts was done by those speaking, those forming the policy behind the role of art-making and the arts in the research university that is in service to the imagination? Why so little imagination in how art-making and the arts and their role was configured? Silo syndrome.

So much stored grain to sustain existing diets with palatable comfort food.


Image sources:
Dinosaur-Chicken evolution
Gratitude Steel band
SEM of AIDS virus
Touch the Universe
Tree of Life
X-RAY of women's feet

Audio source:
Keep Hope Alive

Video clip source:
Discovery Channel
Nikon Small World Photomicrography

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dove Fish in Stone Gathering Moss ( a text poam entree system)


Dove Fish in Stone Gathering Moss
by Rita Dove
annotated with a text poam that is further annotated by Thylias Moss

(as presented in Minneapolis, Minnesota at a Rain Taxi sponsored celebration at Open Book (dream store-gallery-book-making-workshop) of the Poetry Society of America centennial, another stab at site specificity, to make connections between that fish, that stone and my aunt, another sibling of the six out of nine that died before their mother from a disease I was told was, at the time, European, as if that part of them warred successfully against the native part whose strength went to their appearance; that's why Blain's is in [tenacity of presence] what follows: a text piece (form of poam) of even more limited applicability than usual, specific to, peculiar to an intersection of all that meets, convenes, converges to mark each other with having come together, some of it forced, then diverges, separates without having to reconnect the same way or at all except for how the marking influenced, steered to some degree, that likely won't be known fully, where participants in the collaboration went, some of it to this blog post, more than a year later [particles of it still pulse while blessed apparent simultaneity echoes of a big banging cosmic event still travel in all directions, determined to connect with us].):

Oleta Adams sings Get Here:
(buy at iTunes, Amazon)

Open Book mapped:

View Larger Map

Dove Fish in Stone Gathering Moss

The fish in the stone
would like to fall
back into the sea

one of many puddles,
billions of luminous cosmic pools
can also fail
in their promise of depth

So much longing

so close to the Farm and Fleet's
assortments of toys, home basics, wild bird care,
cherry life savers as a jazzy set of monocles Belvia often held up
making an oasis of her eyes' black centers' surrender to endlessness,
eleven Farm and Fleet opportunities to get to Coon Rapids
and ping-pong all day with Anoka, the landings of her most beautiful days
splashing a genetic puddle full of only near resemblances
flickering on the water's surface as if nothing is more grand
than to sparkle: say oh and ah to brightness
even if just a single megaton bomb exposing its bubbling--pretty near effervescent
--guts: an explosion of newly forming fins, evolutionary artistry since 1955
how true it is that if you can't find it at Blain's Farm & Fleet,
you don't need it, certainly not to shine

—you see above the fish in stone as countertop,

cruelty and kindness of proximity to Kohler styled water that from now on just turns stone more smooth; while I spoke in Minneapolis' Open Book's sea of 2D and 3D print possibilities, nearby in Plymouth, the Green River Stone Company, this image on the left from the web page about them, had already been fishing the shale in a private Wyoming quarry in order to Supply Fossil Fish Murals and Stone Products for Interior Design —Fossil record of evidence of opulence, my onions diced on the complex surface of chances, knife marks and their role models of fossil fin structure make good on parallel worlds. Green River fish in stone escape the wearying analysis to come for the Dove fish (keep reading); these rest pretty
with a hope of mistaken identity as fancy mutant feathers of alternative stone scriptures—

Yes; it could have been routine pistil, stigma, sepal, a week-old petal
mapped with creases of opened origami a net on an Anoka wicker table with Aunt Belvia in cap and gown, highest honors, a picture I could look like,
if drained of just about all my color: I’m Muddy Puddle

[As Walela sings in I Have No Indian Name (buy at iTunes, Amazon), I have no Indian name though I was named by an Indian. There are names for the specifics of my mix, but I don't use them; they don't help me know me better. This I understand (as I did saying this at the Open Book in Minneapolis to celebrate this understanding within a celebration of the Poetry Society of America's centennial): I'm forkergirl of the muddy puddle, the mud and bifurcations helping me slide into and out of a host of inexact translations where sometimes I leave more than I take away, and sometimes take away more than I leave.]

[On the right is an image of a puddle portal in Minneapolis, captured during an exchange between forkergirl of the muddy puddle, light, atmosphere, the amoeba of water (also like the splat of fried-egg-shaped aliens —Denevans— that invaded Mr. Spock who went blind, during the radiation to purge his system of them, until his own alien eyelid raised, taking the blindness with it [mine persists, left eye only —one-eye forkergirl of the muddy puddle ((muddy from a galactic tail being stirred into it before it settles down into a piece of ghetto stained glass.))])

that conceals a mix on an Anoka afternoon, flower drooping
over graduation photo frame like a lamppost trying to inject
its last light into itself leaning against my Coon Rapids aunt's chin's
witness to a fish in stone,
geologic origami folding the planet into a pop-up book:
mountains, silos, and Mount Olympus theme park coasters popping out
like other badly kept secrets of the most powerful trance I know:
too will granulate, to be flecked and scattered all over the place, universal placement
of constellations, bright enough to fill, but don’t, the universe
of glowing traces of identity my aunt gave to Huntington's,

movement that with enough distance reduces to shimmer:
What every net cast fails to catch.

[The fish] is weary
of analysis, the small
predictable truths

--if only worlds smashed, when a puddle is trampled,
could bleed or trumpet
and not just ripple an attempt to transmit messages
across light years of prairie-flat space

all chokeberried out, replete with Saskatoon berry bushes, needle and thread grass shimmering like fledgling wings experiencing what looks like delight below cascades of brightness rippling over fields as mock swarms of birds changing direction to unheard music, the profound human deafness that confronts most vibration, molecular frenzy deep in the rock stroking the fish, laying down rutted outlines of seismic devotion, held as securely as those in eighteenth century lunatic asylums —what is hungriest there

or just across the reflecting pool on the mall in DC where

He is weary of waiting
in the open,
his profile stamped
by a white light

clean white coats

(image from wikipedia)

In the ocean the silence
moves and moves
and so much is unnecessary!

If we would eat more soup with a fork,
we'd understand that more slips through openings
than tines can, than tines are supposed to retain;
seems we base everything to which we've given a base

on remnants, bits and pieces that shouldn't fit together
because so much is missing;

yet who can deny, lifting the fork
so limited in what it does, sharing limitations of its makers;
who can deny, the fork with its partial catch of fish remnants lifted
toward incandescence and therefore also toward
everything incandescence anoints (we say if we are generous,
anointing things almost desperately, perhaps defending against
there not really being any permanence
or meaning that can come only from that)--

As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly,
you leave marks behind, however small. And in return,
life - and travel - leaves marks on you.
Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful.
Often, though, they hurt

Anthony Bourdain (The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and Bones)

--who can deny those sticky gleaming bits of translucent fish bits
hanging from fork teeth like jellyfish tentacles
or bleached streamers of antler velvet,
or tatters of flags and banners,
anything can be coveted, taken
to a moment when salvage accrues significance,
anything the fork snares and keeps for just a moment
before those particles of splendid incompleteness fall
through the openings into other unseen, unproven opportunities,
perhaps —I hope so— a meaninglessness which might be the only way
to wipe off all pretense once and for all

the moment to cast his fork of
skeletal blossom

stretch mark tines of reach
not cluttered with grasp

The fish in the stone
knows to fail is
to do the living
a favor.

He knows why the ant
engineers a gangster's
funeral, garish
and perfectly amber

unrequited request for sainthood, lack of recognition
keeping the amber coffin free of corruption, sacred impossibility,
antiseptic, sacred vacuum

He knows why the scientist
in secret delight
strokes the fern's
voluptuous braille:

Aunt Belvia's eyelids veined with stick figure statues,
stick figure promises of ho-hum basic stop motion animation
making us weep, simple Jesus remnant
resisting an imprint of the penny's Lincoln Memorial
that made me wish, when I saw it with her,
that palaces were necessary

when anything can gleam briefly,
stellar magnitude
fades during every bright moment,
blasts itself away, satisfied
for having known radiance at all

Good-bye Aunt Belvia

resurrected temporarily in even brighter memory

(is this amber a chunk of wayward flame?
at home beside Lichtenberg figures of captured lightning electron paths
failing to find the god particles they are generating
while bifurcating in Lucite into forests,
each branch a mini big bang, group of revivals, more minor resurrections,
relentless risings, a general upness, bipedalism)

oh, ah, ah, ah

then it's over, a finish the ever-luminous
--even just an idea of immortality--

Friday, May 20, 2011


100% fat-free ideas served to you for free! on the moxie supper plan from the Gray Matter Kitchen

If you're tired of tasteless ideas that fill you with empty mental calories unable to satisfy your cravings for more complex thinking that won't turn to brain flab; if you secretly crave more dimensions to meanings that may or may not prove impossible well beyond current limits on lifespan, meanings that can be part alternative and part antidote to catchy pop refrains and marketing jingles that are often like sonic roaches, then take the moxie supper path to the moxie supper diet that allows you to gain mental weight while sloughing some flab of superficiality.

A video Appetizer from a gray matter kitchen:

An unfinished (active) moxie supper path map —waiting for additions, adjustments, extensions:

Bon App├ętit!

(from the preface to the current daily new edition of the ideology cookbook and guide to jungian and freudian late-night psychological snack cake: award-wining sponge, angel, and devil's food recipes)