Sunday, January 29, 2006


many of you know of the anguish i have been experiencing lately over my recent increase in girth.

things have taken a similar turn for my cat.

frenchy (aliases: miles, licky, westerly, francois) moved in with my parents about 2 years ago, so that he could spend some of his life not living in a tiny apartment and so that he could have a yard to play in. also my parents are shameless cat-spoilers, whereas, although i love him dearly, i tended to treat the frenchman more or less like furniture.

he was always a small cat, having been abandoned as a kitten, and even full grown he weighed in at about 6 pounds.

of late, frenchy has more than doubled in weight. he looks like he ate himself. frenchy is the marlon brando of cats.

according to my mother, he eats ceaselessly (now, i have seen her FEED HIM FROM THE TABLE, but we won't stoop to the blame game here), and because of his obesity he has developed sleep apnea and now snores as well. my mother has started taking him on car trips with her because it's the only way to keep him away from the food bowl.

finally, she has decided to seek medical intervention. and frenchy, it seems, may need to go away for a while. we'll find out tomorrow.

(the above picture is from frenchy's pre-brando days; i couldn't bear to humiliate him by posting a recent photo)

Friday, January 27, 2006


"Petersburg During the Blockade" notwithstanding, how funny is Shklovsky?

"When Mayakovsky steps on your foot and starts shouting, it's hard not to hear him."



Amelia Jones: She Giveth, and then She Taketh Away.

I’d like to thank Amelia Jones for introducing me to Elsa Baroness von Freytag- Loringhoven last week. In her short piece from The Dada Seminars, Jones convincingly presented the Baroness and her “oversexualized self-performances” as somehow working to collapse the distance of signification by repeating her relationship to the modern object-fetish as “too close.” This introduction of a logic of “too close” to be used as a tool for treating history, the body, and signification in revisionist accounts of the avant-garde seems to me both appealing and appealingly problematic.

So you can imagine my disappointment when Jones herself fails to use this tool. Her book-length examination of the Baroness is bereft of “too close.” Instead, Jones offers readers neurasthenia, the blasé aesthete, the détraqué (“ragpicker”), and feces. In so doing, she manages to misread Benjamin, Baudelaire, Djuna Barnes, and even the Baroness herself in one fell swoop. And this is but a partial list of her abuses. I would argue, as I began to in class, that the above theoretical apparatus could be replaced with the dialectical relation of “too close” and “ennui.” While Jones seems to have some kind of chip on her shoulder regarding Charles Baudelaire, to perhaps let him introduce “ennui” would allow her to skip a forced, tiring, and ultimately wrong reading of the flaneur (whom she equates, not entirely correctly, with the dandy). Via Baudelaire and Rimbaud, a working concept of ennui looks something like an overdetermined boredom or numbness caused by the excessive shocks of modernity. It is thus the opposite of the grotesque “too close” which also contains in it as its cause that same “too close.” Ennui gestures toward bodily immersion instead of the removal of the body that seems to set it up for Jones’ misreading of neurasthenia. It is, maybe, over-enchantment; Jones could here avoid the binaries that ultimately ruin her gendered reading and render her concept of “lived Dada” suspect. She could also use the Baroness’ body in a more interesting way than “it smells like shit.”

Jones’ endemic misreading eventually leads her to argue that the Baroness was the model for, and can thus be equated with, Robin Vote in Barnes’ Nightwood. And I really feel like Jones didn’t start out intending this; more likely, her forced and overwrought readings got her to the point where she had to make this assertion: “the Baroness, as model for Robin Vote, is precisely such an abject, queer figure or détraqué: she can be viewed… in her stench, in her overt sexual displays…. a ragpicker and department-store thief” (189). But Robin Vote is a somnambulist, a sleepwalker, imbued with irrationality, yes, but more a figure of ennui than of neurasthenic (stinking, abject) display. It is Barnes’ Doctor who stinks, who lies in bed wearing a stained nightdress and the remains of cheap make-up, who is arrested for “cruising,” and whose room is a monument to abjection, who embodies the qualities Jones attributes to the Baroness and then somehow links to Robin. Robin’s “promenades” are not at all like the Baroness’.

But in keeping with her tradition of non-readings, Jones presents Elsa’s poem “Ostentatious,” and then proceeds to read it, well, literally:

Vivid fall’s
Bugle sky–
Castle cloud’s
Leafy limbswish –
Saxaphone day’s steelblast galaxy –
Big she-moon’s cheekflushed travesty
Ultramarine venues limpid thoroughfare.

Okay, so, yeah, there is walking going on here. But what if we read the images and words dissolving into sounds (as they do) not as a narration of oversexualized self-performance but as the enchantment of the Baroness’ sexual body with the ruins of the city? Like a “limpid thoroughfare,” the moving body swallows manifold images and transforms shocks into a “cheekflushed” sexual wish using the pairing of “too close” and ennui. The revised and embodied history that this would allow for is much less limited than Jones’, and sounds to me more like Dickerman’s read of Schwitter’s Merz, wherein “the monument, emblem of the collective and of history, is swallowed by the interior.”

Monday, January 23, 2006


ephemera, part one-billion:

in shower this morning, decided i need an "in-shower" to-do list. there is just so much to take care of in the shower. when did i become such a victim of bath-product capitalism? my shower is so filled with paraphrenilia, utensils, and product that there's barely room for little old me. whereas for my Dad, bathing is him, some flowing water, and a single bar of soap. maybe some hand lotion when he gets out. and he is one of the best-groomed and nicest-smelling people I know.

chocolate on pillowcase again this morning. i am so guilty.

spent some time this morning trading crock-pot recipes on-line. when did THIS happen? remember when i used to be cool? remember? remember? although if they could see me, most of the other recipe traders probably wouldn't feed their families anything i suggested. optional garnish: xanax, anyone?

so now i'm heading out to do errands. on list: bar soap, white chocolate, mom-jeans.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again
and interesting, and modern

(Frank O'Hara)

Saturday, January 14, 2006


"You know when you've found it,
There's something I've learned
'Cause you feel it when they take it away."

Damien Rice

100 breaths

it's hard to organize all the things i am thinking about to make some kind of sense on this blog.

no shit, you're thinking.

frequently, and for similar reasons, i have trouble falling asleep. when this happens, i try counting backwards from 100. the logic is that this process breaks the overdetermined monolith of sleep down into steps, or units, of one number each, one breath per number. each is encountered, and subsequently overcome, in its turn. and, unlike counting forward, this process is not completely automatic. i have to think, if minimally, about what number comes next, and then i assign it a role in helping me get to sleep.

one number, one breath, one thought, emptying myself into rest.

from one-hundred to zero, the monolith of self opening onto a single smooth surface, one page, the flows (if you will) deterritorialized, uncounting my day.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

thank you, Hardt and Negri

for finally explaining Darstellung and Forschung to me.

this has gone on for far too long.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

hand of ben enters frame

this supercool photo was taken by my equally cool and talented friend ben.

among ben's many talents:
galaxy-wide prominence
possessed of the hand of god
raucous bass-playing
founder and director of the Camden International Film Festival

(okay, so this was a plug. because it's hard to create links when running blogger on a mac, i encourage you to reference my links to check out the film festival)

so this is the new year...

and the birds of detroit are really confused. i think they think it's spring.

Alice Munro:

"It was as if she had a murderous needle somewhere in her lungs, and by breathing carefully, she could avoid feeling it. But every once and a while she had to take a deep breath, and it was still there."