Friday, October 24, 2014

Time for UBIK?

Tessa Dick argues that it is time for a film based on Philip K. Dick's novel UBIK. Please click HERE.

Not intended as an endorsement, some restrictions apply.  Avoid using while watching TV or during defibrillation.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Of Sonnets, Inspiration, and Method: a brief chat with Mack Hassler and Michael Butterworth

Filial Sonnet for Two Remarkable Sons

                        "There were giants in the earth
                        in those days; and also after that."
                                                            Genesis 6:4

Perhaps one needs to craft a solid form
Capable of standing tall and quell
That energy where wanton waves can swell
The writing reeds obsequious in the storm.
Such sycophants, in fact, do minor harm.
The little writer writes on passing well.
The lover rigs his line to cast a spell
And magic holds the stage and saves the farm.
Still I think our children need to know
Even as they crowd the busy scene
That other stories might have been,
That taking bows, that even pledging troth
Are preparatory.  Work must follow both
And overcoming many deaths is how we grow.

                                             Donald M. Hassler
Mack Hassler has sent us (above) a sample from the section of the work he is preparing for Emanations 5. This is an Italian sonnet.  In the octave, the speaker expresses frustration with the work of a poetaster he's recently heard, which, for lack of sound craft and a paucity of  substantive matter, strikes him as tedious--I am wont to say the poems the speaker has been hearing are "minor" and (maybe) "vapid"... but the point that I really wish to underscore is the poetaster's lack of integrity and, in turn, lack of art. In the sestet, the speaker offers resolution by underscoring the need to engage poetry as a matter of procreation and endurance--that is, producing something that endures and survives from generation to generation (and Mack has his sons in mind as his speaker advances these views). In order to endure, in order to survive, poetry must convey this same knowledge, and the complex of ideas having to do with generative themes and survival are appropriate--if not key--subjects.  Poetry is made of (and made for) seeing--and seeing through--real difficulties. Craft should thus be fit to the subject, as the subject is to the craft, and thus craft itself must be identified as part of the subject. And here forgive my "acute obtuseness" and potted explication, but I am making points rather than offering a close reading. Also, I think I am learning something about Mack's poetry--and learning something about how to write about Mack's poetry.

This theme of craftsmanship: our Submissions Call for Emanations places sufficient emphasis on experimentation and "unusual" work.  But I want to underscore the notion that also we are interested in craftsmanship--close craftsmanship, conscientious attention to detail, and studied but graceful aesthetic sensitivities...  These qualities are evident in Mack's sonnet.  So while we are "experimental," I think it is equally important to emphasize that we are not simply discovering new life forms, slapping together chimeras, or forcing fantastic transformations: we are just as attentive to the action of experimenting through craft... and in the same way that Mack is speaking through the sonnet, which in the bestiary of poetic structures is surely not a new life form, and certainly no chimera.

Michael Butterworth:
I am more of an expressionist writer in the way I produce my work. I have learned very little craft because the complexities of language are not something I'm good at grasping in a conscious way. Charles Platt once said that my writing is produced by an unconscious process of synthesis. I undergo long periods of sensory input and mental processing at an unconscious level, then the writing comes out whole (when it comes out at all). I don't think of an idea, then a plot, then a structure and so on. I sit and wait by the typewriter for something to happen. Once something is written, I will chip at it to shape it better. I can sometimes do a lot of editorial work on it at this stage, and can often see how disparate pieces that I didn't know what to do with link together, and writing bridging text.

I envy writers who can bring craft to their work, and I can see Mack does. If I had been able to master it I would have been a more confident writer (ie by having a ready prepared framework) and a more prolific one. I believe, ideally, that craft and 'expressionism' (for wont of a better word) should go together.

One of the many admirable policies of New Worlds (like Emanations) was its willingness to embrace all forms or writing, high and low, old or new, craft-driven or not, but one of its central edicts was that form should fit the subject matter. In other words things should work in their own right, and it didn't matter how, so long as they did. Part of the novelty of both NW and Emanations is coming across new pieces of writing that surprise you in so free and expressive in this way, that isn't afraid, even, to be a platform for contemporary (New Wave?) classical writing.
The bottom line, though, is content, having something interesting to say that will also hopefully be relevant to today, whatever form it takes.
Over to Mack for a conclusion (at least a conclusion for the time being):
I think Michael is right on message. I never try to write unless I think I have something to say. But when I start to say it, the message either seems trivial  or my expression of it seems weak. That's when I fall back on whatever tricks or wit I might have seen and remember. When the message and the tricks blend, I feel good about it. That happens way too little in my case. I envy the blend in others.
 Please visit the Emanations 5 Call for Submissions by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Philosophy and Understanding

Allow me to formulate my “Conception of Philosophy.”  Appropriate to my understanding of the subject, I have a quick way to do it.  I’ll use a few bits from Kenny’s book From Empedocles to Wittgenstein, Ch 11 “Philosophy States Only What Everyone Admits,” pages 136-137. Kenny opens by quoting Wittgenstein in the Investigations:
“In philosophy we do not draw conclusions. ‘But it must be like this!’ is not a philosophical proposition. Philosophy only states what everyone admits.” (PI #599) 
Kenny then quotes Peter Hacker’s response to the above, in which Hacker puts his finger on what he believes Wittgenstein is (or rather is not) saying: “It does not mean that there are no arguments in philosophy, or that no definite conclusions can be drawn from them, e.g. that solipsism and idealism are incoherent, or that private language is unintelligible.”

Kenny replies:
“Against Hacker, I think Wittgenstein is seriously maintaining that there are no arguments in philosophy, and that philosophical methods lead to no conclusions. If it is possible definitively to dispose of philosophical errors such as solipsism and idealism, or the belief in private objects, this is achieved by methods that resemble the cure of a delusion rather than the deduction of a therom.”  
A little lower, Kenny quotes the following line from the Investigations: “Philosophy simply puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces anything” (PI #126).  There is another line that comes to mind from Wittgenstein to the effect that “Philosophy leaves everything as it is.” I don’t consider this to be anti-philosophy, but instead consider it to be advancement in our understanding of what understanding really means... or, put another way, what understanding really is.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Trafika Europe: Online Quarterly Journal of New Literature

Editor Andrew Singer has announced the launch of the online quarterly literary journal Trafica Europe. The first issue, "Northern Idyll" focuses on work from Europe's northern islands, with new poetry, stories and novel excerpts translated from Gaelic and Shetland Scots, Faroese, Icelandic and Norwegian, as well as new works from German, Russian, French, Slovenian and Occitan.

To visit the Trafica Europe web site and view the first issue, please click HERE.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Scarlet Letter in Italy

Dario Rivarossa has blogged on the International Authors edition of The Scarlet Letter.  Please click HERE to read his comments.

We will return to this topic soon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

International Authors: Report from Kosovo

Kosovo poet Xhevat Latifi has posted a description of International Authors and our annual anthology, Emanations. From the XL Express Media website, here is the description in Albanian:
Antologjia International Authors me dy poet nga Kosova!
Dy poetë nga Kosova, janë përzgjedhur  në prezantimin  e Antologjisë me autorë ndërkombëtar ku përfshihen tridhjete krijues nga 33 vendeve të Botës.  Poetët Aziz Mustafa (1967) dhe Xhevat Latifi (1968), janë përfshire në  antologjinë e cila sipas redaktorit  Carter Kaplan, janë prezantim i dinjitetshëm i diskursit te artit bashkëkohor që krijohet sot në Botë.

Carter  Kaplan, ka vlerësuar se “ Emanations- Foray Into Forever, është edicioni katërt,  ku përfshihen krijime të reja të artit bashkëkohor nga 33 vende të ndryshme të përzgjedhura të vlerësuara nga redaktorët e International Authors: Brookline, Massachuetts”.

Antologjia  Emanations- Foray Into Forever botuar nga International Authors: Brookline, Massachuetts, përpos krijimeve autorët i ka përcjellë me një biografi të shkurtër të cilat tregojnë edhe diversitetin e prejardhjes së autorëve nga vende të ndryshme të Botës.

Dr Aziz Mustafa, është paraqitur me poezitë:   Thirty- Trree, Letter to a friend, We Die a Little After Death, If Syd Barrett Comes Out of the Asylum, Learn to Say “No”, All You Nedd is Love.

Xhevat Latifi, është prezantuar me poezitë:  Love is notg affraid of shadows, Tonight, Nero’s night?, Over the roof a jellow star-spangled!, Idecided to break silence, Sleppy times,  Helvetia or the tale about you, Mother, she kept memory to herself, Can we leave this nightmare anda make love?.

“Është një kënaqësi botimi i poezive krahas autorëve të tjerë, është një sfidë për të shikuar artin tonë edhe si vlerë artistike edhe si konkurrencë me artistë të tjerë të Botës”, ka thënë Dr Azis Mustafa.

Ndërkaq poeti Xhevat Latifi, ka vlerësuar se prezantimi në Antologjin  Emanations- Foray Into Forever botuar nga International Authors: Brookline, Massachuetts, është hapërim i suksesshëm të krijuesve nga Kosova.

“Është një sukses i avancuar i prezantimit të artit tonë në Botë, ne presim që në kuadër të kësaj redaksie së shpejti të fusim poetin tonë dr Aziz Mustafën, kjo do jetë dhe një dritare tjetër e prezantimit të artit tonë në International Authors”, ka thënë Latifi. /
Click HERE for the google English language translation.

Xhevat Latifi

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What moves the heavenly bodies?

In his blog today, Tasso devotee and sage translator Dario Rivarossa draws some interesting distinctions:
Do the Sun, stars, etc., move because of physical laws, or because Spirits drive them? The philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend was right when he said, against Popper, that new theories do not provide "better" answers, they simply delete old questions. As to Tasso, he made no clear choice between the two cosmological patterns.
I should observe the laws don't move the planets, rather the laws describe how they move.

Reading through Creation of the World, I have come to feel that Tasso's point is similar. Although he cites Genesis for his cosmogony, his main point is that the system of movements (like the planets, moon, sun and stars themselves) is an artifice. But of course this is hard to prove in the text, which provides all sorts of contradictions. Nevertheless, Tasso's texture seems plain enough. It was up to Milton to more sharply and consciously underscore the mythological nature of the explanations; while the point about artifice remains the same for both poets.

The point is akin to the implication par excellence of Witttgenstein's philosophy: the universe is an artifice. Our science can, in part, help us to understand how this artifice works, but not necessarily why, wherefore, where from, and so on.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Curious Cup: Patterns of Renaissance Understanding and Sensibility

Dario Rivarossa has posted a photograph of an exotic 16th century cup that bears upon the phenomenon of "different and alternative but coexisting patterns of understanding."  Please click HERE to read more. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dymaxion Map

To enhance and embellish his political and economic notions, philosopher and architect Buckminster Fuller created the Dymaxion map to portray  Earth's continents as a nearly contiguous land mass: one island on "Spaceship Earth." By presenting the world this way, Fuller underscores his point that the earth is an interconnected system which, accordingly, we should integrate with rationally.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Adam's Hyacinthin Locks

"Adam" by Dario Rivarossa

His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Absolute rule; and Hyacinthin locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad...
 Paradise Lost, Book IV

Saturday, September 27, 2014

100,000 Stars

100,000 Stars is an interactive artist's rendition of the stellar neighborhood. It shows the real location of over 100,000 nearby stars. Zooming in reveals 87 major named stars and our solar system.

Please click HERE to activate the viewer.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ultra-Gonzo Highbrow Par Excellence: the words and wisdom of Robert Strange McNamara

I must say I don’t object to its being called McNamara’s War. I think it is a very important war and I am pleased to be identified with it and do whatever I can to win it.

Management is the gate through which social and economic and political change, indeed change in every direction, is diffused through society. 

You can never substitute emotion for reason. I still would allow a place for intuition in this process, but not emotion. They say I am a power grabber. But knowledge is power, and I am giving them knowledge, so they will have more power. Can’t they see that? 

Robert S. McNamara (2004), Official Teacher’s Guide for The Fog of War, p. 5:
1.             Empathize with your enemy
2.             Rationality will not save us
3.             There’s something beyond one’s self
4.             Maximize efficiency
5.             Proportionality should be a guideline in war
6.             Get the data
7.             Belief and seeing are often both wrong
8.             Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
9.             In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
10.         Never say never
11.         You can’t change human nature
I would rather have a wrong decision made than no decision at all. 

Neither conscience nor sanity itself suggests, that the United States is, or should or could be the global gendarme. 

In the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the end, I think we did put ourselves in the skin of the Soviets. In the case of Vietnam, we didn't know them well enough to empathize. And there was total misunderstanding as a result. They believed that we had simply replaced the French as a colonial power, and we were seeking to subject South and North Vietnam to our colonial interests, which was absolutely absurd. And we, we saw Vietnam as an element of the Cold War. Not what they saw it as: a civil war.

Never answer the question that is asked of you. Answer the question that you wish had been asked of you.

I’m not so naive or simplistic to believe we can eliminate war. We’re not going to change human nature anytime soon. It isn’t that we aren’t rational. We are rational. But reason has limits. There’s a quote from T.S. Eliot that I just love:
We shall not cease from exploring
And at the end of our exploration
We will return to where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Now that’s in a sense where I’m beginning to be.

Robert leading from the lectern

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Thoughtful Essay on Scottish Independence

Hayden Westfield-Bell, an Englishman who lives in Edinburgh, and whose poetry is often featured in Emanations, has written a thoughtful reflection on the Scottish independence vote, which, as I learned this morning, was defeated.

His essay--pregnant with optimism and keen understanding--can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Hayden Westfield-Bell composing his thoughts (and cooling his toes) whilst standing in a peaty burn.

As a tail on this, I can say (and think) very little. I've lived there but don't have a clue about what's going on just now. In Scotland, the Labour Party is (or in the past has been) called the "Socialist" Party, while the Tories are (or in the past have been) called the "Unionist" Party. A "divide" might fall out, as well, between the Anglo-Scots and the Scottish-Scots, which is a vague and loose way to draw a distinction between Scottish Episcopalians and Scottish Presbyterians, though I should again underscore the vagueness of the distinction. Notwithstanding accents, "English-speaking" Scots are just as Scottish as "Scottish-speaking" Scots, and only obtuse people with coarse perceptions draw a distinction. Meanwhile, somewhere in this mix the English fit in as well, though as Hayden suggests, English antecedents are no indication of the side of the question to which an English person might fall. Complicating matters are all the various regions with their distinct identities: 1) the Highlands and Islands, 2) the East coast, 3) the Borders, 4) Edinburgh, and 5) Glasgow.  Fife has it's own identity--with the middle-class in the East Neuk and round St. Andrews, and the working-class "Socialists" in the west...  And thus class is also a dynamic, with the middle classes and the upper classes tending towards the Liberal Democrat or Unionist parties. But over to Hayden for a report from someone with his feet on the ground (or in a burn) over there.