Year in review

2 July 2014

From Twitter, between January 1 and December 21, 2013. Question for the day: how do you archive & resurrect experience of the digital over time?

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My sister at breakfast: “Do you know what the German word for birth control is? ANTIBABYPILLEN.”
4 January, 3:44 p.m.

On the Difficulties of Recollecting the Plots of Novels One Has Partly Read While Drunk. #unwrittenessays
10 January, 12:48 a.m.

“…but those who believe, that Abel lived an hundred and twenty nine Years, think it improbable he should die a Batchelor.
10 January, 1:06 a.m.

“If you put front vowels in your language, nobody will take it seriously as a language of Orcs.”
11 January, 4:47 p.m.

Tarantino films that feature scenes in which characters literally give each other acting lessons: Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs.
17 January, 1:28 a.m.

“There you are, like butter in sunshine.” Martin Luther insult randomizer:
20 January, 12:50 p.m.

RT: Thank God for technology. Before Twitter, I just used to go up to strangers and whisper in their ears. @tejucole
26 January, 1:42 p.m.

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Rewriting marx

6 July 2013

Reading Franco Moretti’s Atlas of the European Novel I find this, taken from Marx & Engels’ Communist Manifesto—

In place of old wants, satisfied by the production of their country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness becomes more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises a world literature.

—and a little bell goes off & I rumage around my notebook until I find this speech coming out of the mouth of one of the characters in David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet:

“What prophet of commerce in, let us say, the Year 1700 could have foreseen a time when commoners consume tea by the bucket and sugar by the sack? What subject of William & Mary could have predicted the ‘need’ of today’s middling multitudes for cotton sheets, coffee, and chocolate? Human requisites are prone to fashion; and, as clamoring new needs replace old ones, the face of the world changes…”

Noise

3 July 2013

“Our speech,” wrote the German poet Noralis two centuries ago, “was at first far more musical, but it has gradually become prosaic and lost its note; it is now noise or a ‘loudness’; it must become song again.”

Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
— That is God.
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
— What? Mr Deasy asked.
— A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.

And tumble out your hair that the salt drops have wet; being young you have not known the fool’s triumph, nor yet love lost as soon as won, nor the best labourer dead and all the sheaves to bind. What need have you to dread the monstrous crying of wind?

And while the children’s games became increasingly noisier and more complicated, while the city’s flushes darkened into purple, the whole world suddenly began to wilt and blacken and exude an uncertain dusk which contaminated everything.

Whether it be in mid-sea
Or the dark, green water-wheel
Or on the beaches
There must be no cessation
Of motion, or of the noise of motion,
The renewal of noise
And manifold continuation

And most, of the motion of thought
And its restless iteration

In the Hellenistic Hidden Sacred Book of Moses Called “Eighth” orHoly,” an Egyptian Jew describes the seven laughs of God:

Hha       Hha     Hha      Hha      Hha      Hha      Hha      Hha

Cortés and his men were taken to the palace of Axayácatl, the home and headquarters of Montezuma’s father, the emperor before last. At this, the conclusion to their extraordinary journey, the arquebusiers let off a discharge, filling the air with acrid smoke. The artillery was also fired to mark the triumph which all felt, if only temporarily, at having arrived in the city. Doubtless the few Valencians in Cortés’ army rejoiced especially at such a familiar celebration. The Valencian Rodrigo Borgia similarly marked his arrival in Rome as Pope Alexander VI. Very loud noise, especially of fireworks, has always characterised Valencian celebrations.

… cited by some historians as the first printed appearance of the bass figure that would come to be identified with boogie-woogie. It was recorded only as an instrumental, by a septet of white American soldiers based in Paris in 1919 and billed as L’Orchestre Scrap Iron Jazzerinos.

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Works cited:

Collected Poems, W.B. Yeats
Collected Poems, Wallace Stevens
Conquest, Hugh Thomas
The Dozens: A History of Rap’s Mama, Elijah Wald
Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang & Beyond, Hillel Schwartz
The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories, Bruno Schulz
Ulysses, James Joyce

Divided feelings

30 June 2013

I am drinking gin at a coffee bar when two Americans come in to discuss, in sign language, some hot dog sandwiches displayed in the window. I speak loud Italian and express in this way some of my divided feelings about my own country. We go to the villa for cocktails and see from the terrace the city like a painted backdrop; we hear the famous bells.

Cheever’s journals: this is a light touch, and funny, and you have done exactly this. In Jaén you’d avoid Americans in large groups except on major U.S. holidays. You have, in your life, concealed your ability to speak English. It’s a small thing: you want to show you’re better, you don’t like being on the outside. (Especially when being outside means being related to those drunk assholes, the ones in four-leaf-clover leis.)

All of these feelings—the shedding yourself, the conflicted sentiment towards your origins, the sense of doomed likeness, the constant straining to prove otherwise—were probably prefigured as soon as you left the Midwest for the coasts.

Maybe I like reading these journals because Cheever’s flaws are very close to my own, and because he’s so much more lucid, anatomizing them.

Streets, edible

18 May 2012

Constantinople had a thousand churches and insuperable walls landward and seaward. On the main approach to the palace, only the perfume merchants were permitted their trade.

The housing bricks and paving stones, they said, could boil down into soup; the place was steeped in root, and leaf, and fruit.

Lemon peels crushed in the gutters of the streets scented the early mornings where he used to sing . . .

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Arcadia, Jim Crace
“Byzantium,” Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper’s Magazine
Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon