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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems

Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems — my first book of archi-poetry — will be published in April 2017 by Signature-Editions. 

Publication info. here

Book Launch April 28th McNally Robinson, 7pm


Saturday, January 7, 2017

philosophy rises from the neighbors' chimneys

“With deep winter upon us and the weather growing colder, even the wood smoke out of the neighbors’ chimneys could be described as philosophizing. I can see it move its lips as it rises, telling the indifferent sky about our loneliness, the torment of our minds and passions which we keep secret from each other, and the wonder and pain of our mortality and of our eventual vanishing from this earth. It’s a kind of deep, cathedral-like quiet that precedes a snowfall."
— Charles Simic, "Winter's Philosophers" New York Review of Books, Jan. 4, 2011

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Milieu & the place of the poem

" the middle, halfway, where the carrier pylon is expected, 
from above or from below, there is the place of the poem..."

—Paul Celan, Microliths

more here

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Architects Fight - Make Poetry at the Crossroads

 "It is disaster to build cities without humanism and poetry—and architects are for that…We are at a crossroads. I propose to fight."
— Jean Nouvel, at the UN April 2016


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Poetry and Fire

"If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it."
—Anne Carson


Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Every Building Should Have a....

....Distinguished-Looking Scar"

—Madeline Gins, What the President Must Say and Do!! (1984) p21


Friday, August 19, 2016

Time to Capture Rhythms of the City

from Lefebvre's Window:    “When rhythms are lived and blend into [one] another, they are difficult to make out. Noise, when chaotic, has no rhythm. Yet, the alert ear begins to separate, to identify sources, bringing them together, perceiving interactions. If we don’t listen to sounds and noises…usually we do not understand (hear) the rhythms and associations which none the less comprise us… To understand and analyse rhythms, one has to let go…but not completely. There is a certain externality which allows the analytical intellect to function. Yet, to capture a rhythm one needs to have been captured by it…in order to hold this fleeting object, which is not exactly an object, one must be at the same time both inside and out. A balcony is perfect for the street…to this placing in perspective (of the street)… For want of these you can always be content with a window… From a window open onto [the] street…one does not have to lean over much to see into the distance. To the right… To the left… Perpendicular to this…and on the other side…. All of Paris ancient and modern, traditional and creative, active and idle.”

“Over there, the one walking in the street is immersed into the multiplicity of noises, rumours, rhythms (including those of the body, but is the person aware of these…). But from the window noises are distinguishable, fluxes separate themselves, rhythms answer each other. Below…a traffic light: on red, the cars stop, pedestrians cross, soft murmurings, a babble of voices…and sometimes a cry, a call…At the green light, steps and voices stop. A second of silence and it’s the surge, the burst of speed of tens of cars accelerating as fast as possible… It’s incredible what one sees and hears (from the window). Strict harmony… After the red light, it’s instantly the bellowing rush of the large and small beasts: monstrous trucks turn towards the Bastille, most of the smaller vehicles dash towards Hôtel de Ville. The noise rises, rises in intensity and power, peaks, becomes unbearable, although rather well borne by the stink of fumes. Then stop… Sometimes cars stagnate in the middle of the road and pedestrians go round them, as waves around a rock, giving withering looks to the drivers… Hard rhythms: silence and uproar alternate, time broken and accented, striking the one who from his window takes to listening. This [urban rhythm] astonishes him more than the incongruous look of the crowds.”

“Incongruous crowds, yes… in groups or alone. They walk without cease, chewing gum or a sandwich… The noise that pierces the ears doesn’t come from the passers-by, but from the engines revving up. No ear, no apparatus could apprehend this ensemble of flows of metallic or carnal bodies. There must be a little time to capture the rhythms, a sort of mediation over time, the city, people.”

“Flows and conglomerates succeed each other; they increase or decrease but always accumulate at the corners then make their way, entangled and disentangled… These last rhythms…cyclical, with big and simple intervals, within more intense, alternating rhythms with short intervals… The interactions of various repetitive and different rhythms, as one says, animate the street and the neighbourhood. The linear…consists in comings and goings and combines with the cyclical and spells of longer duration. The cyclical is social organization manifesting itself. The linear is routine, thus the perpetual, made up of chance and encounters.”

“From my window overlooking courtyard and gardens, the view and the offer of space is very different. Over the gardens, the differences of habitual rhythms … fade; they seem to disappear into a sculptural immobility… But look more closely and longer. Up to a point, this simultaneity is only apparent; surface and spectacle. Go deeper, dig below the surface, listen closely instead of simply looking, reflecting the effects of a mirror. You then discern that each plant, each tree, has its rhythms, made of several… Continue and you will see… polyrhythmicallysymphonically… each being, each body, as having above all, its time. Each therefore having its place, its rhythms, with its immediate past, a near future and hereafter.”

“What this window which opens onto one of the most lively streets of Paris shows, what appears spectacular, would it be this feeling of spectacle? To attribute this… character to this vision (as dominant feature) would be unjust and would bypass the real, that is, of meaning. The characteristic features are really temporal and rhythmical, not visual. To extricate and to listen to the rhythms requires attentiveness and a certain amount of time.”

“Could it be that the lessons of the streets and the teachings of the window are exhausted and dated? Certainly not. They perpetuate themselves by renewing themselves. The window on the street is not a mental place from which the interior gaze would be following abstract perspectives. A practical site, private and concrete, the window offers views that are more than spectacles… Familiarity preserves it as it disappears and is reborn, with the everyday life of inside and out. Opacity and horizons, obstacles and perspectives are implicated, for they become complicated, imbricate themselves to the point of allowing the Unknown, the giant city, to be perceived or guessed at. With its diverse spaces affected by diverse temporalities – rhythms.”

“In this confusion, this scaffolding, is there a hierarchy?... The window suggests a number of hypotheses which restless wandering and the street confirm or invalidate. The bodies (alive and human, besides a few dogs) who move down below, the whole swarming whole wrecked by the cars, would they not be imposing a law? Which one?... The windows, the doors, the streets, the facades, are measured according to a human scale. Those waving hands, those appendages, although they throw off many messages, cannot be taken for signs. But is there a relationship between these physical flows of gestures and the culture which shows itself (and howls) in the enormous noise of the junction? After all, little bistros and shops… are, like the passers-by, on a human scale. The constructions across the street wanted to transcend this scale, go beyond familiar dimensions and also all other past and possible models. Hence, this exhibition of metal and solidified piping with the harshest reflections. And this is a meteorite fallen from a planet where rules an absolute technocracy… What are these strange contrasts saying? What does the proximity whisper…? Does it have a secret - or secrets? … This great building which was conceived not to be seen, but to offer itself to the gaze. Yet, one comes to see it, and one casts upon it an absent-minded look upon what it exposes. One goes around this void, which fills itself with things and people to empty itself again and so forth…”

“Rhythms. Rhythms. They reveal and hide, being much more varied than in music… Rhythms: music of the City, a picture which listens to itself… Rhythms perceived from the invisible window, pierced in the wall of the façade… but beside the other windows, it too is also within a rhythm which escapes it…”

“No camera, no image or sequence of images can show these rhythms. One needs equally attentive eyes and ears, a head, a memory, a heart…. The observer at the window knows that he takes as first reference his time, but that the first impression displaces itself and includes the most diverse rhythms, as long as they remain to scale… Here as elsewhere, opposites find and recognize each other, in a unity both more real and more ideal, more complex than its elements already accounted for.”

— Henri Lefebvre, “Seen from the Window” [ca 1986] in Writings on Cities,  edited and translated by Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas (Blackwell, 1996).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Artist Must Act as a Bridge—a Political Operation

"In the specific field of architecture there has been the most flagrant betrayal of the principles that informed the whole modern movement, which were first interrupted by the Second World War, and then later abandoned as 'outdated'.
     In this cancerous avalanche of disorientation everything is swallowed up, dissipated—rapidly ageing into total obsolescence and losing its meaning. In this way 'wild' architecture trounces Antoní Gaudí... the true values of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion of 1929 would require precise historical research, yet the original meaning of Le Corbusier's architecture is given barely a passing thought and Frank Lloyd Wright's on the way to losing all of its original communicative force.
     Art is not so innocent. The grand attempt to make industrial design a motor for renewing society as a whole has failed—an appalling indictment of the perversity of a system... The current debate has shed light on the way that design has been used as the tool of a system...

     ...Any attempt to combat the hegemony of technology...must contend with the structure of a system: the problem is fundamentally political and economic. The idea of renewing society through art, a Bauhaus credo, proved to be a mere utopia—a cultural miscalculation or a means of salving the conscience of people who themselves wanted for nothing.  From these beginnings, it has developed into a kind of rampantly proliferating metastasis...the bankrupt utopia of a technocratic inteligentsia who, in promoting 'rationality' over 'emotionality', have emptied the concept [of planning] of its meaning, fetishistically converting it into abstract models that equate the world of statistics with the world of humans.
    If the problem is fundamentally political and economic, then the part played by the 'agent' in the field of 'design' is, despite everything, crucial. It relates to what Bertolt Brecht called 'the ability to say no'. Artistic freedom has always been 'individual', but true freedom can only be collective. By this I mean a freedom that recognises social responsibility and that breaks down the barriers put up by aesthetics... The strategy of 'non-planning'—a romantically suicidal reaction to the failure of the technocrats—must urgently be countered by a strategy for planning our environment...
     ....The corrupt mechanisms of real-estate speculation, the lack of provision of low-income housing, the profit-seeking proliferation of industrial design—of gadgets, objects that are for the most part unnecessary... We must develop a collective consciousness—any diversion at this time is tantamount to a crime... If it is the role of the economist and the sociologist to offer objective analysis, then the artist must act as a bridge connecting not just with the intellectual but with the engaged public...
     What we need to do now is to start again, from a new reality. One thing however is certain: those who concern themselves only with a small segment of society, those who are content... those who don't care to make a noise—they are definitely on the 'opposing side'.
   It is a mistake to want to eliminate collective reality in the name of aesthetics at any cost. All rebellions and avant-gardes have their basis in aesthetics, regardless of any assertions to the contrary... it is important to accept things that are aesthetically negative and to make use of them when necessary: art (like architecture and industrial design) is always a political operation."

— Nina Bo Bardi, "Planning the Environment: 'Design at an Impasse" [Malasartes 2, 1975/6], translated from the Portuguese by Anthony Doyle and Pamela Johnston, in Stones Against Diamonds (AA Publications, 2013), p86-90.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Situation Would if it Could

“the situation”

“the situation”

“the situation”

“the situation is only what it is”

“the situation holds on to itself”

“the situation paints itself as inevitable”

“the situation is forever”

“the situation is only interested in its own well-being”

“the situation does not think twice”

“the situation cannot do it”

“the situation does not want to”

“the situation would if it could”

“the situation isn’t half as bad as they say”

“the situation tosses everything into the garbage that doesn’t belong to it”

“the situation incarcerates everybody in its realm”

“the situation does not sing”

“the situation does not argue its case”

“the situation will go away”

“the situation must go away”

“the situation lets nobody off the hook”

“the situation sits on itself”

“the situation continues to invade territories”

“the situation falls victim to the same collateral damage that it inflicts”

“the situation does not invite self examination”

“the situation is an accumulation of its own past”

“the situation can’t stand itself”

“the situation necessitates longing”

“the situation routinely shoots itself in the foot”

“if the situation could understand itself it would not continue”

“the situation is hungry for more”

“the situation’s future can only be other than itself”

“the situation forever boasts questionable accomplishments”

“the situation… no!”

“the situation overwhelms or underwhelms”

“the situation the situation”


“the situation”

“the situation”


“the situation”

“the situation”


“which situation?”


“what? no”

“the situation”

“the situation has no other goal than itself”

“the results of the situation result from the characteristics of the situation”

“the situation requires all lives to be in it”

“to be alive is to be in the situation”

“all together are the situation”

“the hidden obvious is the situation”
“the situation is the end effect of history”

“the situation is what has us and surrounds us”

“the obvious cannot be admitted therefore it is the obvious”

“the situation is not something but everything”

“words transplanted like onions from their original sprouts
     cannot say the situation”

“the situation says itself in everything”

“the situation is life acquiring death”

“the situation is blind to itself”

“the blind situation acquires blind death”

“the situation is characterized by its blindness”

“its death is characterized by its blindness”

“the situation is everything and all”

“all together are the situation [again]”

“all together are blind”

“all together’s death is blind”

“the blind death of the all together is the obvious”

“the situation implies the possibility of revolt against it”

“the situation is what it is only as long as we allow it to be so”

“the muscles that make the situation function
     are the same muscles that must take it down”

—Peter Schumann, from Bread & Sentences (Burlington: Fomite, 2015).

Lines cited here as a found "archi-poem" are from a series of charcoal sketches for a 2014 performance called "The Situation", included as illustrations in an amazing book of aphorisms (“neither fiction, nor poetry, nor philosophy”) gathered from the working notebooks of the founder and director of the Bread & Puppet Theater.

Please obtain this book, and read it now!
The situation demands it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Violent and Unjust Stupidity of American Politics

"All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."
— W.H. Auden, second to last stanza from "Another Time"
(Random House, 1940)

The full poem was posted by a defender of Humanity the day after a maniacal homophobe — himself probably a victim of unwarranted Islamophobia, and the extremist ideology of the NRAdemonstrated, yet again, the violent and unjust stupidity of American politics.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Charles Olson on the Job of Architecture—as revealed in a work (and story) by Cy Twombly, painter/sculptor, swimmer and lifeguard

"Sculpture fled. And architecture has now run after. And for good reasons: that the round world (which it was their job to lead us to enjoy—to illuminate) turned to rot. It had been treated cheap, not by these arts but by what makes arts: men.
     "All golden things, including the mean, got debased. Then everything blew up, from the inside, from cause [ie. from individual human beings]...
     "What seems clear is, that two dimensions as surface for plastic attack is once more prime...
     "The allure—the light—had better be in any painted, drawn, cut or carved thing [with reference to] that one [narrative] it has not been our habit to regard as one... Say it is not one. But it is surely the way—the tao—that two dimensions is now being given back the job.
     "Take it flatly, a plane. On it, how can a man throw his shadow, make this the illumination of his experience... (In my business [poetry] it comes out... 'voice'; to say what I got to say, which may be of interest to others because it can stand for what they have got to say, if it says anything; and it can only to the degree that, like a plane, it is no plane at all.) How make that plane, the two dimensions, be all—from a [the] point to any dimension?
     "It was some other reference... to how a lake we know in common afforded [understanding] about what Tao Yuan-Ming's east hedge was... who gave me suddenly, as he talked of contemplation, the sense of what architecture now had to do with."

Associative Images are by
photographer Myoung Ho Lee

"That is, I knew sculpture was buried, was become an art underneath us all, had gone down to be our sign—by a sort of inverted archeology—that each of us had now to come up live, like those stone images scholars are digging up in so many places; that only by ourselves can we find out... the round all men have been rifled of. And I knew this was... traction in dance... like combination of... documentation and... conjecture in the art of narrative. But I didn't know, until that instant, as the two of us were looking at a new large black-and-white canvas of Twombly's, what use architecture had now to be.
     "...I thought that here Twombly had... slipped off the wire any of us in all of the arts walk over...candor is still such a ruthless reality on the other side... and confronted by the will of that reality with which artists can have nothing to do... the will by which most of our fellow men manage to get through. An artist has to cross over.
     "I knew what Twombly was fighting for, even in this canvas... getting in to what he is confronted by—into that rectangle—that honor & elegance are here once more present in the act of paint.

     "...Twombly had tried to solve it outside the place where he almost every time does battle it out...
     "...his penetration of the reality bearing on us is... in the same diggings out of which he is digging himself
     "...his apprehension—his tien— is buried to the hips, to the neck, if you like
     "I underline his paintings to distinguish... that all document is not the equal of a man's life, what he bears inside himself and makes speak directly... no facts, only his own acts make it
     "Suddenly I understood, as the two of us were there inside that too small room in that too modern building jutting out over that lake [eg. at Black Mountain College] which we both had bent our art around, that architecture had no reason any longer at all to confine space, that it was we who were confined, that architecture, like sculpture, had gone elsewhere. And it occurred to me, that a billboard made more sense. That here, too, [we] had been given back [our] oldest job...
     "And so, if Twombly does make canvases boldly behave as two dimensions and yet makes forces present which... have been absent... look for cause
                    "... in yourself...
                    "... you can do it, because you
                     are the only round thing left...

     "And the wood of the tree which grew? how would you carve it otherwise than in like dimensions, and like candor?"

Excerpts from "Cy Twombly" [1952] an essay by Charles Olson in Collected Prose: Charles Olson (University of California Press, 1997) p175-178. As the editor notes (p414), Olson's insights arose not simply from looking critically at Cy Twombly's painting, but from his "questionings, to find out more" about a singular story: about how and why Cy Twomby, one night, came to dive into a lake to rescue his fellow [art] student Robert Rauschenberg "from drowning."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Last words from Hejduk's Such Places as Memory

from Prayer for a House
        "matrix like a painting fool
         And blessed is the school"
from Orpheus's Memory
        "her heart burst red roses"
from Bacchus
        "seepage is inevitable"
from Florentine Grey
        "kept from descending
         by a pull of a heart"
from Without Interior
        "triangles shift as in a sea"
from On a Bridge
        "which reflects the graphite"
from Oslo Room
         might be kissed"
from The Metronome
        "densities silently implode"
from Outside Rome
        "the photos bled"
from Venice
         bird and man"
from Lampasas Square
        "endless twirl of fan"
from Helsinki Warehouses
        "slip out while you can" 
from Berlin Looms
        "the plan had been
from Arcadia
        "the sculptor knew
         the northern architect"
from A Monster Slain
        "there were such things"
from Vicitims-2
        "The past is not past"
from Atomic Light
        "their terror
         of abandonment"
from Parallel Implosions
        "Einstein laughing
         to an infinity"
from the Sleep of Adam
         of the lament"
from The Breath of Bacchus
         silencing all sound"
from Where Irises Once Were
        "the tears of blood"
from A Journey of Two
         aging simultaneously"
from Eros
        "a blush that made
         desire wait"
from Weightless Heart
        "the earth
from Soundings
         for birth
         and you?"
from Whispers of Prague
        "your building stones entomb"
from Munch's Night Crossing
         photograph he had taken himself"
from Electra
        "the chambers of her heart"
from Seville Blue
        "the skin
         explaining night"
from A Dead Oak
        "the silence of the bull"
from A Distant Breath
        "a distant breath"
from A Dark Plum Room
        "in a dark plum room"
from Abduction
        "the night sky"

from Under the Granite Arches
        "dragged from the light"
from Obsession of Dürer
        "left her

from A Lament
        "to a point
         celebrating a sadness"

from Chartres Dusk
        "the ancient dust"

from Hymn to a Sculptor
        "your signature of roughness"

from An Evening Conversation
        "to begin?
         We have already"

from Investigation of a Museum
        "in such a place"

from Archaeological Museum
        "their reality"

from Acropolis
        "Exit implies entry's lament"
from Medusa

        "your mouth and eyes

— a selection of last words from John Hejduk's Such Places as Memory: Poems 1953-1996 (MIT Press, 1998); in other words, archi-poetry begets archi-poetry.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

but a step from sublime to ridiculous

"The 'center' of the picture is not spatial but is the focus of interacting forces.
     The definition of [mirror] symmetry in static terms is the exact correspondent of the error by which rhythm is conceived to be recurrence of elements. Balance is balancing, a matter of distribution of weights with respect to the way they act upon one another. The two pans of the scales balance when their push and pull on each other is adjusted. And scales exist ... only when their pans are operating antagonistically to each other with reference to reaching an equilibrium. Since esthetic objects depend upon a progressively enacted experience, the final measure of balance or symmetry is the capacity of the whole to hold together within itself the greatest variety and scope of opposed elements.
     The connection of balance with stress of weights is inherent. Work in any sphere is performed only by the interworking of opposed forces—as by the antagonistic systems of the muscular frame. Hence everything depends in a work of art upon the scale attempted—that is the reason it is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous. There is no such thing as a force strong or weak, great or petty, in itself. Miniatures and quatrains have their own perfection, and mere bigness is offensive in its empty pretentiousness. To say that one part of a painting, drama, or novel is too weak, means that some related part is too strong—and vice versa. Absolutely speaking, nothing is strong or weak; it is the way it works and is worked on. It is sometimes surprising in an architectural vista to see how a low building rightly placed will pull together surrounding high buildings instead of being annihilated by them.

    The commonest fault in works having some claim to be called works of art is the effort to get strength by exaggeration of some one element. At first, as with temporary best-sellers in any line, there is an immediate response. But such works do not wear. As time passes it becomes every day more evident that what had been taken to be strength signifies weakness on the part of counterbalancing factors. No sensuous charm, however great in amount, is cloying if it is counteracted in relation to other factors. But in isolation sugariness is one of the most quickly exhausted qualities. The 'he-man' style in literature soon wearies because it is evident (even if only subconsciously) that, in spite of violent movement, no real strength is displayed..."

— John Dewey Art as Experience [1934] (Penguin 2005) p187-8.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Make the community of experience delightful

"There is no need for me to go out of my way to condemn the insincerity of using adornment to conceal weakness and cover up structural defects. But it is necessary to note that upon the basis of esthetic theories which separate sense and meaning, there is no artistic ground for such condemnation. Insincerity in art has an esthetic not just a moral source; it is found wherever substance and form fall apart. This statement does not signify that all structurally necessary elements should be evident to perception, as some extreme 'functionalists' in architecture have insisted they should be. Such a contention confuses a rather bald conception of morals with art. For, in architecture as in painting and poetry, raw materials are reordered through interaction with the self to make experience delightful." (132)

To this I would just add the caveat that, like all the arts, architectural experience is always to some extent social (even if one imagines their experience to be solitary): "works of art are the only media of complete and unhindered communication between [human beings] that can occur in a world full of gulfs and walls that limit community of experience." (109)

— John Dewey, Art as Experience [1934] (Penguine 2005)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

urban(e) paradox: sensual mediation "produces community through differentiation of the milieu"

"The gap makes all the difference, inviting us to differentiate and discriminate…[But] Aristotle replaces the common notion of sensing through distance…with sensing through mediation… a [mediating] potency which can take on the form of anything other than itself without being it; and an act which establishes a continuity across distance and difference… Metaxu [the intermediating between, or middle-ground] is the spacing of the interval which produces community through the differentiation of the milieu. It both unites and separates at once. It does not preexist the operation of mediation—it is mediation."

Richard Kearney, The Wager of Carnal Hermeneutics (Fordham U. Press, 2015) p25-26.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Used to light, one must also get used to the dark.

[in Plato's Republic] "the ideally ordered polis, fails not because of malevolent or external forces, but because of its own complexity. That is a true statement concerning something we all know to be the reality of any humanly planned economy: be the rationality of the planning ever so highly developed, in the execution of it there is always the power of coincidence, and above all, there is always human shortcoming. Because we are human beings, not because we planned mistakenly, even an ideal self-sustaining organization in full accord with the plan for it will nevertheless go under in the rolling seas of historical life. To say this is not at all to deny the task of reason to shape action reasonably. …human reason is not restricted to the realm of utopia and strict ideal order. On the contrary, it is fully capable of expanding into the historical world of vague regularities. The disorder of human things is never complete chaos. Ultimately this disorder represents the periphery of a sensibly ordered universe that under any circumstances would have its periphery. … In respect to interpreting the allegory of the cave …this wonderful and many-layered metaphor… [the] theme is the blinding by the brightness that befalls those accustomed to the dark, and conversely, the blinding of those who leave the brightness and enter the dark. … One must not only get used to the light; one must also get used to the dark. "

Hans-Georg Gadamer, "The Polis and Knowledge of the Good" in The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy (Yale University Press, 1986) p73. English translation by P. Christopher Smith.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On Becoming a Midway Radical

"...towards being angered: if we are angry overmuch, we stand in a bad relation towards anger, whereas if we are not angry at all where we ought to be, in that case also we stand in a bad relation towards anger.

The mean state, then, is neither to be pained overmuch nor to be absolutely insensible. When we stand thus we are in a good disposition…

Similarly in the case of boastfulness and mock-humility. For to pretend to more than one has shows boastfulness, while to pretend to less shows mock-humility. The mean state, then, between these is truthfulness."

— Aristotle, Magna Moralia (1186a15-27)


"The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and, further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, [is a] good-tempered man [but] he is not revengeful [and] tends to make allowances....
nor fails to take sufficient delight when it is appropriate to do so."

— Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (1124b32-1126a3;

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

cutting through the middle to encounter ideas

"It's safer to go cutting through the middle;
it's there rather that one might encounter ideas.
This makes all the difference in inquiries."

—The Stranger (from Elea), in Plato's Statesman (262C)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

floor plans for the house of desire

the answer was within

a radius of several
floor plans for the house

desire was always building
and destroying..."

Robert Hass, excerpt from the poem "Breach and Orison"
in Time and Materials (Ecco Press, 2007) p16.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Nothing is known in lightning speed from thought to deed

"Nothing is known to match in lightning speed
The mind of man, passing from thought to deed.

Whatever nature shows to human sight
Is not so swift as is the soul in flight."

— Lucretius (On Nature), as cited by Michel de Montaigne in "How we cry and laugh for the same thing" [1572-74], The Complete Essays of Montaigne, Donald Frame (trans, 1943) (Stanford University Press, 1958) p174.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Suppose the man should fall asleep

London Bridge is broken down,
Broken down, broken down.
London Bridge is broken down,
My fair lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair lady.

Set a man to watch all night,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair lady.
— I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 270-6.  An "archi-poem" posted in response to the recent election results in the UK, and London's recurring fascination with over-the-top bridges.Commentary:

With all the hullaballoo about bridges in London, and the Falling Down in the recent UK election of those many hoped could Bridge Left and Right, and who we imagined were Strong Enough to Stand Up against Nationalism, Xenophobia, and the Hoarding of Wealth and Power.... well... with all that in mind, I thought I'd revisit the classic "archi-poem" called London Bridge.

It an interesting poem if you read it all the way through, 
and bother to interpret it. 

Also, consider the poem in relation to the old London Bridge, which had dense housing on it (as impressive as Kowloon in its day). Look - it's about people as a vulnerable bridge, living in a precarious and absurd, but somehow wonderfully propped up, situation in the city. Both city and bridge (it is a metaphor, duh) were crumbling under their own weight, and the burden of time: i.e., there were people living on that falling down bridge/city; singing this song in a morally decayed bridge/pub; not simply singing a lullaby to their kids—who may indeed have had a hard time sleeping, knowing the bridge was crumbling beneath them, and in need of restoration, not cynical demolition of housing.

Seeing London Bridge as part of this spectacular panorama (with the Globe theatre in the foreground), reminds us of the dramatic tension of a city crossing and surrounding a river that also divides it. An allegory one can stuff in a pipe and smoke it, if one imagines one does not need to (or cannot) take a more difficult course of action: i.e., to collectively cross the bridge of indifference, and span the gulf of that all-too-human desire to be forever young and absolutely free.

Link here to an interesting before and after of London Bridge

And for the latest news on the Garden Bridge Scandal Link Here:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

vivid pleasures

"Those stairs: there were five of them: I took three in a leap, coming home from school, and then four, and one day five, and have complicated feelings about the fact that it was one of the vivid pleasures of my life..."

It was years before I understood...
It's hard to see what you're seeing with..."

— excerpted from the poem "Consciousness" by Robert Hass, in Time and Materials (Ecco, 2007) p83-5.  This work is cited for the purpose of encouraging others to read/write what I like to call "archi-poetry."

Monday, March 30, 2015

the future... other people will pick up and go beyond

     "When I speak about a social goal, the goal of society...I don't say, 'This is exactly what it's going to be like.' I don't have a blueprint in mind. I'm thinking more of a vision, I'm thinking of direction and I'm thinking of steps. I'm thinking more in terms of signs pointing in the right direction than I am of the shape of future society because I don't know what that shape is going to be—I don't know of anybody who has predicted correctly...
     "I think it's important to understand that the quality of the process you use to get to a place determines the ends, so when you want to build a democratic society, you have to act democratically in every way. If you want love and brotherhood, you've got to incorporate them as you go along, because you can't just expect them to occur in the future without experiencing them before you get there.  I agree with Che Guevara: the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. If that love isn't built in, you'll end up with a fascist society. 
     "A long-range goal to me is a direction that grows out of loving people, and caring for people, and believing in people's capacity to govern themselves. The way to know they have these capabilities is to see something work well on a small scale... I think your belief in people's capabilities is tied in with your belief in a goal that involves people being free and being able to govern themselves.
     "... A long range goal has to be something for everybody. It can't be a goal that helps some people but hurts others.
     "Goals are unattainable in the sense that they always grow. My goal for the tree I planted in front of my house is for it to get big enough to shade the house, but that tree is not going to stop growing once it shades my house. It's going to keep on growing bigger regardless of whether I want it to or not. The nature of my visions are to keep on growing beyond my conception. That is why I say it's never completed. I think there always needs to be struggle. In any situation there will always be something that's worse, and there will always be something that's better, so you continually strive to make it better. That will always be so, and that's good, because there ought to be growth. You die when you stop growing.
     "Your vision will grow, but you will never be able to achieve your goals as you envision them. My vision cannot be achieved by me. You may save the whales, but the dream must push beyond that. It's a dream which I can't even dream. Other people will pick it up and go beyond. To put it in a simple way, I once said that I was going to start out on a life's work. It had to be big enough to last all my life. And since I didn't want to have to rethink and start over again, I needed to have a goal that would at least take my lifetime. After making that decision, I never thought of doing anything else, because I knew that I could just hack away on it, and what little I could do would take my lifetime. And even if we had a revolution, the quality of that revolution wouldn't necessarily be satisfactory, so I'd have to try to make it better."

— Myles Horton, concluding chapter called "The Future" in The Long Haul (Doubleday, 1990) p226-8.