Friday, October 31, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

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.