Diary: How to Improve the Text (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)

textsDiary: How to

Improve the Text (You Will

Only Make Matters Worse)

 

John Cage titled his diary, “Diary: How to

Improve the World (You Will

Only Make Matters Worse)” (1965),

suggesting a zen koan where every move

in one direction is a move in another direction.

Cage was not too into the game of chess,

that was Nabokov. Were they neither control

freaks? One looked down on the ground

for mushrooms, the other up in the air for butterflies.

 

Listen to the music mushrooms make:

shiitake, for example.

 

“Nothing to be done,” Beckett said, and he said

it more than once: “Nothing to be done.”

Again and again, recycling the words,

 

imagining a future without retail,

which entailed imagination, the tale

of dead malls, hollowed out shells,

shelter for the homeless.

 

(artificial intelligence:

“all watched over by machines

of amazing grace,” Richard Brautigan said.)

 

What if anything is artificial? Artifice, father, creator:

The true ecologist loves garbage, Slavoj Zizek said,

and, we must become more artificial,

if we are to comprehend the universe,

a grasping together. GASP! (Taylor, Examined Life).

 

Every thing is recyclable, even no thing (as Beckett showed),

all things crawling with recycling bugs chewing,

the textual droppings of these bugs crawling across the page

two streams of ants, one going, the other coming:

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

tna tna tna tna tna tna tna tna tna tna tna.

The ants smell textual clues.

 

The job of being

human

altruism and community, signage,

the shape of mouths, lip tools,

tongue, teeth, mouth to ear, surplus

age, a pantry of letters, a kitchen of words

a living room of text, a bed of books,

a shelter of stories.

 

It probably never was the best of times

and self-pity to call any time the worst of times.

The people bored march on nothing.

Blog is dead, someone said, sweeping up,

blogging, only dead if you thought

that; otherwise, it was still

“lots of fun for everyone!”

 

Retail is dead, the tinker said,

stirring her pots and pans;

on the other side of the street,

a drone drops a text.

 

In “For

The Pleasure

of the Text…,” Jeremy Fernando explains how

text comes into being when reading, comes and goes, his book

full of marginalia mushrooms, the writer a saprophyte,

pages flipping to and fro like butterflies, and as hard to find,

the text always disappearing, pages not mumbered [sic],

but we know where to look

for mushrooms and the colors butterflies prefer.

 

When speaking of the universe, keep in mind nothing is factual; everything is argument – claim and rebuttal, recycling. When speaking of the text, keep in mind everything potentially purposeful, so yes, the most effective writer knows not what will be read, can’t be sure of what’s being written. That is one pleasure of the text, the not knowing, uncertainty, ambiguity – the taking and eating of a strange mushroom, an invasion, a landing, of alien butterflies. Beckett said we can’t listen to a conversation for more than five minutes without noting inherent chaos. Yet some writers abhor ambiguity and seem to think they write with clarity. What is clear is that nothing is clear, in spite of grammar.

 

Understanding the text, or attempts to understand one’s own comprehension of the text, are subservient

to experiencing the text. One can only begin to experience the text by giving in to it, which is to say,

consuming it, mouthing the words, eating the text, licking the letters, smelling the ink’s decay.

The text is a meal which like the mushroom can be distasteful, cause belches or gas, even be poisonous.

One might prepare for a heartburn of the text, but that heartburn is part of experiencing the text. The

metaphor grows stale, corny. Halt. Stop. Let us retire for a break in the text to some hops.

The text plays itself out.

text
g UL p
ale

The reader returns to the text, changed, reader and text, both changed, a bit tipsy, textual vibrations: screen shots of textual cuts, rips, woven riffs, quotes like on a guitar, but cited for the newly planted who need authority to get established, but why would one want authority over/under/sideways/down another? textual authority to pass testual [sic] authority, getting testy this, this authority, King Ibid on his throne in the kingdom of Where Did You Get This Weave? There can be no misreading, only the experience of reading: vicarious. Author as vicar, vice advice, a writing vise.

a grammar of the other

another

other

mother

moth (lex) toward the light

mouth (law) toward the dark

declension

every text an attempt to improve

which worsens

writing as self-medicating

for which there is no cure

curator

mother

a text that cures

Watt Ales

 

what is the meaning of an unpaginated (upainted) text?

citations as reproductions, pics of texts

folder paper, where the lines are the bedrock

of grammar, the grammar of the text –

the reader creates the ungrammatical (including typos)

as the police create crime (cite N+1)

calls into question any misreading

“justesse of any sentence” (JF, PT)

ripping through the text, pulling quotes out

disrupting the horizons of folder paper lines

horizontal disappearings

a following silence until a new text swells

the crowd disperses, the text shelved.

 

In the middle of the text we find a pic

of “Anatomie” (Ibid: 180), and this

quoted:

“To write the body,
Neither the skin, nor the muscles, nor the bones,
nor the nerves, but the rest: an awkward, fibrous,
shaggy, raveled thing, a clown’s coat”

so we get at once
Love’s Body (Norman O. Brown)
Beckett’s clown
& Bob Dylan.

 

Next comes the pun: body > corpus

and “authenticity” – the authority

of the corpse, already with us,

and the illuminated manuscript,

backlit screen.

 

And don’t miss the three asterisks.

 

A typo it appears? (Elfriede Jelinekl) in the text, part of the text; typos are like black holes. They suck in the light. Some readers delight in seeing them (schadenfreude), but perhaps the typo corrects one’s vision. Certainly they test it. Typos are purposeful. Theory of accidents.

 

Musical interlude, listen, an invisible text. Music as language must be translated. “Happy New Ears,” Cage said.

 

…now to dreaming:

the experience of reading. experience is not

necessarily evil, a song of experience is not

a song of evil – nor is a song of innocence

necessarily a song of good. depends on text.

 

No more links, likes, or comments;

and if you don’t like this post at the Toads,

take it up with JF’s RB, or RB’s JF.

 

The bits about death, or Death? One prefers breath, or Breath! One might here sight [sic] Walt Whitman or Charles Olson, but there follows a sketch (portrait), not traced, there are rules, after all – yes, but whose rules?

The rules of the text:

JF and RB by JL

~~~

the text tails off

them’s that’s got it

Vonnegut footnote

inventions (externalizations)… to be continued, continue to be

References

Fernando, Jeremy. (2015). For The Pleasure of the Text… {etc.}

references

 

Reading Roland Barthes’s Writing Degree Zero on Line 15

What would Roland Barthes have said about the snippets of poetry published among the ad displays, public service announcements, and caution notes headlining the interior of local bus Line 15?

 

The poetry placards please riders through a program called, somewhat fancifully, Poetry in Motion, though the poems move relative only to someone off the bus. For the rider/reader, the poems move at the same speed as everything else on the bus, with the exception of the rider just boarding, stumbling down the aisle in the opposite direction of the bus lurching forward. It’s a good idea to wait until seated before trying to read the poetry. In any case, why not call the poems, simply, “Bus Poems”?   

 

But what’s remarkable is the number of riders and therefore potential readers of the poetry, “reaching an estimated 15 million daily [countrywide],” according to the Tri-Met site. Poetry never had it so good.

 

Readers may be reminded of Johnny Tillotson’s 1961 hit song “Poetry in Motion.” The refrain of Tillotson’s song seems particularly apt to the riders on Line 15: “…For all the world to see.

a-woe woe woe woe woe woe.” Find out more about Poetry in Motion at the Poetry Society, or at the Tri-Met site: Selections for 2007, or check out the British original Poems on the Underground, including Autumn/Winter 2008 selections, which celebrate the 1918 Armistice.

 

A random search adds to the randomness of the entire enterprise with this from Charles Bukowski, the bard of beer, on poetry and motion– locomotively, as Bukowski is seen displaying his full critical license (not for the poetically squeamish). We’ve not seen any Bukowski poems on the bus – though there are times on the bus when we feel we are in his company.

 

Which brings us back to Barthes, who found deconstructing poetry difficult, since the pieces already cover the floor in various stages of disassembly: “…what is attempted [in modern poetry] is to eliminate the intention to establish relationships and to produce instead an explosion of words…since…modern poetry…destroys the spontaneously functional nature of language, and leaves standing only its lexical basis” (p. 46). This sounds like a bus ride. “The Hunger of the Word, common to the whole of modern poetry, makes poetic speech terrible and inhuman. It initiates a discourse full of gaps and full of lights, filled with absences and over-nourishing signs, without foresight or stability of intention, and thereby so opposed to the social function of language…” (p. 48). “…modern poetry destroyed relationships in language and reduced discourse to words as static things” (p. 49). Maybe that’s why they decided to put some on the buses.

 

The audience on the Line 15 bus shifts slightly at every stop, and every bus ride is already a poem in motion, riders hopping on, hopping off, each a word, or a line, some a full verse, the bus curtsying occasionally, its caution bell bleeping, as it leans down to pick up a rider unable to hop, poems and riders waiting patiently motionless, the big scurrilous bus a measure of notes transpiring.

"On the Road," a Bus Poem by Ted Kooser on Line 15
“On the Road,” a Bus Poem by Ted Kooser on Line 15