Friday, July 10, 2020

Critical archi-poetry — Before the End of the World

critical archi-poetry found in the middle
of Ed Roberson's To See the Earth Before the End of the World:

“A dome is the support
                           of the bridge-in-all-directions,
              anywhere the weathervane
                                             seated on it points.

The arch of each foot
                           stands on half the dome     of human balance,
             the start point   of the arc made step     our walking is,
                                        a colonnade of landing,  uplift,  then falling

                            The course the great domes of this program take
                to bridge over mortality       they think
                                               is to shape time and history,

or their stomp of progress           …arcing up andfallingdown,
                         the great capitols
                 each atop the other’s emptied footprint.

Geometries have narrative,
                               story,    program the building poses
               in its fit to the senses,
                                            the spatial drama of its lines
as built idea…

                   … is upside down made begging
            bowl    for wandering oceans…

                                                              … upside down
                           the foot’s upturned arches cupped into a ship’s
            hold   carrying each step’s ground
                                        gained by trampling another’s   

                    …an edge the earth shouldn’t have
                                                     for falling off itself…”


The insides
of a space, the human
in a volume,

internal like the room
of the Pantheon —


as it is poled through time —
also pulls through Grand Central

in slant hour
of light         stroke the floor.
The traveler…


is a transitional structure
its doors in different places.

… the exit to old Penn Station
long gone

                    A building travels
through time
                      … to the original

idea of a door
                        As an entrance to
the city     we could have picked up
our Virgil”

Critical archi-poetry excerpts from Ed Roberson's "Architectural Drawing", "Architectural Program" and "Travel Structure", found in the middle of To See the Earth Before he End of the World (2010) p75-78. Find more on the Chicago poet Ed Roberson and his thoughts on archi-poetry here, and here > where he notably proclaims "the audacity / to have survived. as the architectonic of a city."

Monday, May 11, 2020

the inexplicable - what really goes on

"There is a room of walls which come alive with images and words... You'll have to decipher what's going on, as it happens. Just like I did... on a journey to another dimension to save Words from their demise... This poem goes pretty far, and terrifies me, but it should be read for pleasure. A story, with characters, and illustrations, and qualities of humor and tenderness... the Survivors have with them an Anthology of poetry which is quoted from: only poems can deal in the inexplicable – what really goes on..."
— Alice Notley, "Preface" (excerpts), For the Ride (2020)

Monday, May 4, 2020

a small revolution can tranform the world

"...poetry is not at the margin of ordinary language; it is inside ordinary language. Its inner action renews a language... [and] emotion... is the transformative energy... renovating the social, and language itself. The [poetic]... unit within semantics... is not necessarily visual, although it is vehemently sensual. This is a great part of the pleasure of reading... The time of the poem is the time of an invention... elemental, it stands outside chronology. Through the presence in the poem of the desiring body... a small revolution is proposed.  ...the poem... an altered world... can transform the world... When language changes, life changes."
— Lisa Robertson (excerpts), from "Introduction to the Translation Feature", on Émile Benveniste's unpublished notes on the poetic language of Baudelaire. (ARC Poetry Magazine, n80, Summer 2016)

Friday, May 1, 2020

meaning parades through our brains

"I’m drawn to this idea of language as a stage that we all show up to see. First of all, it’s exciting to think there are objects in the field of language, that there are actually things to see... Language uses our memory of objects and our desire for meaning to world-build. So, if I’m inside your metaphor, and I’ve arrived at this stage upon which I will see language, I’m giddy, because I think I’m looking at nothing. Nothing is happening in my eyes. Though, somewhere else (perhaps through some other kind of seeing) shapes emerge. Signals go off and meaning parades through our brains. How fantastic is that?"
— Renee Gladman (speaking of her then forthcoming book Calamaties (in Bomb, Nov 2013)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Space for those who never go there

"A man with a book goes to the light.
A library begins that way...
This one starts with a man who wants to read a book...

Inspired by a great teacher the fortunate young man
winks to the chapel as he passes...
He was there though he never opened its door...

Not daring to enter the Piazza, I
diverted to other streets
toward it but never allowing myself
to arrive...

Space for those who never go there,
those who must be near and don't enter
and those who go in."

— excerpts from "The Continual Renewal of Architecture Comes from Changing Concepts of Space", Louis Kahn (Perspecta, v.4, 1957).

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Eccentric Crops

Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist game still worth playing. We're calling ours Eccentric Crops, and a chapbook is forthcoming.
periodic poetry table

book idea - inspired by color swatch books (too expensive)

more too expensive book ideas

duct tape moleskin

hostages to an idea 

Eccentric Crops

Saturday, November 16, 2019

when you open a book, the person pops out, and becomes you

Ray Bradbury on why we read.

“…you’re very curious, aren’t you, to find out how I fell in love with books. Now remember this, love is the center of your life. The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do. So that’s what you learn from books… You see, libraries is people. It’s not books. People are waiting in there, thousands of people, who wrote the books. So it’s much more personal than just a book. So when you open a book, the person pops out, and becomes you… So you find the author who can lead you through the dark. And Shakespeare started me there… and Emily Dickinson led the way for me, and Edgar Allen Poe said, ‘This way. Here’s the light’. So you go into the library, and discover yourself.”
—Ray Bradbury.
Posted for #StudioBilbio, a studio/seminar on the architecture of public libraries.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

the most imaginative teaching hearth ever built

“Imagine... a Yestermorrow architecture, imaginative enough and large enough to enclose everything in a single structure... that lures, calls, leads, and pulls you from one area to the next.
...Imagine... an art gallery enclosing a museum, enclosing a library, enclosing a university, enclosing a theater. Five concepts, five environments, five ways of seeing life. Each circling, each rounding the other.
...Why a theater at our architectural core? Well, isn't life one drama topping another? Isn't everything theater? 
...Try to imagine any human activity that does not finally shape itself into vivid metaphors spoken, acted, taught. 
...stepping through from circle to circle, what would we find?
...An architecture, in sum, it seems to me, as marvelous as those rounded self-encircling nautilus shells found along the shores of our seas. Easy to build? In the mind, yes. With glass, brick, stone, and mortar? Difficult. And expensive. 
...What a pomegranate experience. What an incredible womb... Will it be built between now and the century's end? ....can it be the most imaginative teaching hearth ever built to warm our minds? I say it can be done. I wish it to be so.”
– Ray Bradbury, excerpts from "Yestermorrow Place" [1988] 
in Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures, Capra Press 1991, p 77-80.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Now is the Time to Take the Archi-Poetry Leap

Now is the time to take the Archi-Poetry Leap: 

“The language revising its own architectures is the cloud palace and drift of your desire.”
—Robert Duncan, Notebook 31 

[as cited by Steve McCaffery in “ParaPoetics and the Architectural Leap” in 'A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy' (Fordham 2008)]

2 choice McCaffery quotes, that I agree with (if that matters): 

1) “We must remain alert to architecture’s ominous expansion in the hyper-realism of the neoliberal dream, alert to the colonizing force in which architecture is mobilized by a compound telos of planning-for-profit.” p104.

2) “Why the leap into architecture? From ’stanza’ to the ‘prison-house of language’, architectural figures dominate within the very formulation of the linguistic. Architectural metaphors haunt writing to a degree sufficient to cause us to question a merely benign metaphoric presence. One of Heidegger’s lasting insights is into how both language and architecture ground us in the world. In architecture, as in language, human beings dwell (poetically or not) whether in open mobility or confinement. Derrida observes, ‘We appear to ourselves only through an experience of spacing which is already marked by architecture.’ Heidegger and Derrida alike suggest that prior to becoming social subjects, we are all architectural bodies [cf. Arakawa Gins]. We need, however, to add to Derrida’s grammatological conception of architecture as ‘a writing space, a mode of spacing which makes a place for events' the facts that architecture too is the materialized conception of dwelling and the dwelling is fundamentally a relation of ontology to spaces. Architecture in that enriched sense serves to return being to its problems by way of 'oikos' rather than 'poiesis'. And if Bachelard is correct when claiming that all inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home, then the link between reading and dwelling appears to be far from a strained analogy.” p105.

I have more work to do, on #archipoetry from the side of the poets...
Thank you Adam Katz and Garry Thomas Morse for the breadcrumb trail.

Link to source text here, or via your library > A Time for the Humanities  

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Room To Room: Poetry & Architecture in Conversation (a limited edition chapbook)

Limited Edition Chapbook

Room To Room: Poetry & Architecture in Conversation

Three genre-jumping poets with a background in architecture have joined together to exchange poems and thoughts about the architecture of poetry and the poetry of architecture.

ARKITEXWERKS (2018) 4 1/2″w x 11″h, 100 numbered & signed copies of this limited-edition chapbook were printed with archival pigment inks on 28 lb. acid-free archival Mohawk Superfine Eggshell paper, wrapped in 100% rag vellum endpapers and a cover of Strathmore 300 watercolour paper, then hand-sewn with waxed linen thread.

available while supplies last for $10 via Plug In ICA (online or in-store)
or Knife | Fork | Book (in Toronto) 
or Ingrid Ruthig (who edited & made this wonderful little book)

Link here to Video of my portion of this Archi-Poetry event.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Poetry & Architecture in Conversation, Toronto Nov 2, 2018

3 archi-poets joined for an evening of Poetry & Architecture at Knife|Fork|Book Toronto Nov 2, 2018

Ingrid Ruthig + Komi Olaf + Ted Landrum

Stay for a Q&A led by Elsa Lam, editor Canadian Architect.

12 min. video of my reading here

Knife | Fork | Book, at The Dark Side Studio
244 Augusta Ave, 2nd Floor, Kensington Market, 


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Keeping it up rather than Tearing it down

"Every time I heard or read about the destruction of a building I had known, or saw it burn on the local news, I felt like a piece of my flesh was being ripped away. 
         I've always turned the old corner with dread: What if, when I reach the apartment house where I grew up, there's nothing there? It wouldn't be surprising: so many of the buildings in these parts have been sealed up or torn down; streets that were busy and noisy and too narrow for the crowds twenty years ago are as open and empty as deserts today. But it hasn't happened, at least not yet; the building looks surprisingly good, a little Art Deco jewel in the midst of devastation. A heroic superintendent and organized tenants have held it together; and its present landlord appears to have some interest in keeping it up rather than tearing it down. I feel a sense of metaphysical relief...
     ...Life is rough in the South Bronx, but the people aren't giving up: modernity is alive and well."

—Marshall Berman "The Signs in the Street" [1984],
collected in Adventures in Marxism (Verso 1999) & Modernism in the Streets: A Life and Times in Essays (Verso 2017).

Considered among Berman's best essays, "Signs in the Street" was a reply to a review of All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. As Michael Walter points out, "The last line in Marshall’s essay summarizes his new position: “Reading [Marx's] Capital won’t help us if we don’t also know how to read the signs in the streets.”

Read it here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

All that is Solid Melts into Air - Berman's Howl

"Thus, in Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl'...remarkable things are happening...urging us to experience modern life not as a hollow wasteland but as an epic and tragic battle of giants. This vision endows the modern environment and its makers with a demonic energy and a world-historical stature that probably exceed even what the Robert Moseses [Fausts and Trumps] of this world would claim for themselves. At the same time, the vision is meant to arouse us, the readers, to make ourselves equally great, to enlarge our desire and moral imagination to the point where we will dare to take on the giants. But we cannot do this until we recognize their desires and powers in ourselves... Hence Ginsberg develops structures and processes of poetic language...that recall and rival the skyscrapers, factories and expressways he hates. Ironically, although the poet portrays the expressway world as the death of brains and imagination, his poetic vision brings its underlying intelligence and imaginative force to life—indeed, brings it more fully to life than the builders were ever able to do on their own... They could not bear to look into the nihilistic abyss that [Faust's/Moses'/Trump's] steam shovels and pile drivers opened up." 
—Marshall Berman [Archi-Poet], All That is Solid Melts into Air (1982), p311.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Poetry as Research: Fabricating Truth in Architecture, Feb 1-3 Atmos: Fabrications Symposium


Presenting Archi-Poetry as Research, Feb 2, as part of the Atmosphere: Fabrications Symposium, 2018Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba. 
A small stack of books will be available for purchase.

More on the symposium here 
Download the full book of Abstracts here
Order Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems here

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review of Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems

Thank you Jill Stoner for a generous review of Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems, in the November issue of Canadian Architect magazine.

Here is a link:

And a downloadable copy is attached
Jill Stoner's book "Poems for Architects" is a wonderful threshold to archi-poetry.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ted Landrum reading at Thin Air: Winnipeg International Writers Festival, Sept 24, 2017

Link here for a video of my reading at Thin Air, Winnipeg International Writers Festival, Sept. 24th 2017. I read three poems from Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems: "Snippets of Kairos for Enkidu Haircut", "Writing an Aid to Me" and "Agog":

Thanks to Charlene Diehl, for the opportunity; to Joshua Whitehead, Guy Gauthier, and Uma Parameswaran, for sharing the stage; and Lisa! for recording and so much more.

Midway Radicals &Archi-Poems (Signature Editions​ 2017) can also be ordered through any earnest bookstore by requesting the ISBN #978-1-77324-004-6. Or, simply order through the publisher >

#Poetry + #Architecture = #ArchiPoetry

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems

Midway Radicals & Archi-Poems will be published April 2017 (poetry month)

Publication info. here

Local Book Launch April 28th McNally Robinson, 7pm

A review of the Book > here.

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 secrets 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."

— Lina 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."