- Meals I Have Eaten
- Jess's New Blog
- One of Jess's Old Blogs
- The Stop Button
- Jenerator's Rant
- The Rejection Collection
- Pockets Stuffed With Notes
- The Silkie Road
- Informed Comment
- Talking Points Memo
- Spoken & Heard
- Ever So Strange
- Marvelous Prompts (& Responses)
- Only Words To Play
- So Misunderstood
- Acknowledge & Proceed
Profile & Email
- If I Were to Take 4 Photobooth Moments With You Th...
- upon examining a picture of Trotsky
- spring break 2013
- Um, howdy there. I think it's going to take a bit...
- Uber MIA
- Thankie Thankerson
- encrazed (with three exclamation points)!!!
- My Adorable Chickens
- Some days, some days most recently, I just don't k...
- re: teaching / learning
- April 2005
- May 2005
- June 2005
- July 2005
- August 2005
- September 2005
- October 2005
- November 2005
- December 2005
- January 2006
- February 2006
- March 2006
- April 2006
- May 2006
- June 2006
- July 2006
- August 2006
- September 2006
- October 2006
- November 2006
- December 2006
- January 2007
- February 2007
- March 2007
- April 2007
- May 2007
- June 2007
- July 2007
- August 2007
- September 2007
- October 2007
- November 2007
- December 2007
- January 2008
- February 2008
- March 2008
- April 2008
- May 2008
- June 2008
- July 2008
- August 2008
- September 2008
- October 2008
- November 2008
- December 2008
- January 2009
- February 2009
- March 2009
- April 2009
- May 2009
- June 2009
- July 2009
- August 2009
- September 2009
- October 2009
- November 2009
- December 2009
- January 2010
- February 2010
- March 2010
- April 2010
- May 2010
- June 2010
- July 2010
- August 2010
- September 2010
- October 2010
- November 2010
- December 2010
- January 2011
- February 2011
- March 2011
- April 2011
- May 2011
- June 2011
- July 2011
- August 2011
- September 2011
- October 2011
- November 2011
- December 2011
- January 2012
- February 2012
- March 2012
- April 2012
- May 2012
- June 2012
- July 2012
- August 2012
- September 2012
- October 2012
- November 2012
- January 2013
- March 2013
- May 2014
n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency
Thursday, March 27, 2008
my fondness for a well-selected collection
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
"What about the color?" I asked, and she told me that their color was made when I first caught sight of Juno. And then she said, "Well, I'm a prognosticator. You won't like this. But you are bound to lose sight in one or both of your eyes." I was startled and rolled over on the mattress, but somehow I could still see her. Suddenly, just as she was leaving for another mattress, her eyes narrowed, her head tilted slightly to the side, and she added, almost wonderingly: "Either that, or it's already happened."
It's odd still being here. In Chicago. In an apartment that doesn't feel like home. I feel completely done, and not just a little bit miserable and fat and lonely. Surely I need more exercise, but it's hard to get myself to do more than sit-ups on the living-room floor while daydreaming about the greenspaces elsewhere in the world. I don't know why, but this feeling of having horribly failed somehow has taken up residence, and only reading or talking to nm seems to make it feel better. Man, I'm a sad sac... maybe I just need spring like the rest of this city?
Friday, March 21, 2008
between a scientist and his prisoner, also a scientist
'Now, dear colleague, pray be so good as to imagine - to imagine vehemently - that I have taken up your watch and wantonly flung it down; and I for my part will imagine that you are a very wicked fellow. Come, let us simulate the gestures, the expressions of extreme and violent rage.'Overall, the book had its amusing moments.
Dr Ramis' face took on a tetanic look; his eyes almost vanished; his head reached forward, quivering. Stephen's lips writhed back; he shook his fist and gibbered a little. A servant came in with a jug of hot water (no second bowls of cocoa were allowed).
'Now,' said Stephen Maturin, 'let us take our pulses again.'
'I will not say it is conclusive,' said Dr Ramis. 'But it is wonderfully interesting. We must try the addition of harsh reproachful words, cruel flings and bitter taunts...'
Master and Commander, O'Brian, 424
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
mmmmmm. must have even more furry cuteness or will go even more insane.... mmmmmm....
Sunday, March 16, 2008
old news though it may be
A tentative answer to [the question as to where/how memories exist] suggests that these mental images are momentary constructions, attempts at replication of patterns that were once experienced, in which the probability of exact replication is low but the probability of substantial replication can be higher or lower, depending on the circumstances in which the images were learned and are being recalled. These recalled images tend to be held in consciousness only fleetingly, and although they may appear to be good replicas, they are often inaccurate or incomplete. I suspect that explicit recalled mental images arise from the transient synchronous activation of neural firing patterns largely in the same early sensory cortices where the firing patterns corresponding to perceptual representations once occurred. The activation results in a topographically organized representation.it still blows my mind (heh).
Antonio Damasio, Descartes Error, 101.
Forwarded to me by nm, this book was sheepishly taken up to hold good on my not-upheld vow to read more nonfiction.
I started the book wishing I had read it before teaching the class I did on "Writing Around the Body," which by the way, had too many texts above the reading-level of my students... in retrospect, I think I designed the reading list at a grad-level. When I eventually pared away at the secondary sources, the students were able to keep up better and we were able to have more full discussions about less stuff... and in particular, my students became unexpectedly fixated on Descartes' Cartesian Duality, a concept that showed up within every 'reading' we did... including the film Being John Malkovich (which a student accused me of constructing the entire class around since it referenced just about every topic we discussed minus tattoos).
Anyhow, I never felt well-informed enough to lead the discussion of Cartesian Duality away from spiritual jibberjabber, more towards (or at least including) a scientific perspective on how the mind works, how it is interconnected to the body, and how these two terms might not be so easily divided as Western civ would have them (not to mention when our discussion branched out to include 'spirit' and 'soul', two terms I was willing to high-dive off intellectual cliffs in order to avoid). I.e. time to pick up a book.
Descartes Error is supposed to explore the connection between emotion and rationality, and so isn't, I think, focusing on the Descartes concept of duality, but more on the error of thinking that logical/objective processes of the mind form the exclusive basis of reason and rational behavior (I think therefore I am). I haven't yet read far enough into the book to see this argument fully developed although I think I'm seeing the pathway it's heading down. But right now, I'm excited about this earlier chapter on memory and brain layout. I don't know why I'm so excited as I have a feeling that I should have already known this stuff...
I heard some time ago, although I don't know when/where, that brain researchers weren't able to locate the precise location of memory... but maybe I read only the title to an article and not the article itself because I always imagined that this meant the researchers were as yet impeded or inept cartographers who would eventually stumble upon the memory repositories secreted about the brain and marked with a big boulder (hiding the X underneath). And in my particularly metaphoric way of seeing things, I guess I've always imagined the brain librarians shelving memories away in these secret hideaways, of course impeded by the brain pirates seeking to demolish the maps or tunnels, either that or releasing the termites. And likely the stodgy brain academics who pontificate on topics absolutely nobody cares about (repetitive research maybe, or hyper-arcane) are those responsible for keeping those memories in mind that long ago should have been 'let go'.
I mean, I know this is oversimplification but imagine the brain functionaries as chemicals and neurons, and you pretty much have what I thought happened.
But the chapter I'm now reading in DE - a bitty bit quoted above - is laying all that silliness to rest. Basically, if I'm reading him right, he's saying that there are no hideaways for memory, or specific definable locations that are responsible for memory. Instead, what he's suggesting is that when we experience things, the brain has many different portions that are processing this information, which he calls 'perceptual images' (images being a fluent term that also includes hearing, smelling, and feeling), by forming and shuttling reactions down neural pathways and then systems. The brain will then form some pathways that are more fixed, due to a certain degree of repetition or intensity, and others that are less so.
And what startles me is that these pathways themselves... or the act of them being triggered... are the memories. It's the motion through them, their use, that, as he states, 'replicates' the creation of an initial perceptual image. Or rather, tries to. Meaning that memories are flawed and blurred or sharp and detailed based on the fixity of the pathway, which he suggests is linked to initial "synchronous activation":
Damasio earlier claims that in no one place in the brain do the sensory processors come together to create a unified picture. It might seem to us that all our senses... say, as we walk down a street... flow in through our body up to the brain where they unite to give us an image that includes sight / sound / smell / feeling / taste all together. But actually vision is processed in one area, smell in another, and there isn't one region that collects all this processed data and puts it together (although some regions may overlap somewhat). Instead, it is simple timing (synchronicity) that creates the illusion of a comprehensive perception!
I mean, really: only because I am seeing and smelling at the same time, am I seeing and smelling a singular reality... from what I only experience as a singular point of view???
And so, the more processing centers being fired through, the more explicit the memory being re-created.
Okay, because Damasio wrote this book quite a while ago and points out where further research would be needed to support his hypotheses, I am going to assume that new information on this is probably available, and maybe even contradictory, but man, this seems really incredible.
Particularly as I interpret it to mean:  form is content, or rather, motion through form is content, at least in the brain (so nyah nyah anti-Formalists), and  our perception of mind/self is partially a result of time or timing, and  memory is supported and triggered by the very topography within which it winds its path.
I think. 'Course I'm still struggling to understand...
Other thoughts here too, but yah, today has been a good day.
Friday, March 14, 2008
the very careful art of prenostalgia
Thursday, March 13, 2008
dreams of home, spring and summer
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Five Animals, Any Order (creative nonfiction?)
So, trying to get myself back into a habit of writing so I can finish any number of projects and also feel like my degree wasn't just me putting off the inevitable.
Starting by finishing the partially-throughs... maybe?
(i guess i should very soon start thinking about how to send stuff Out There for publication. playing that whole find-o deal. or, if not that, then being somehow more dedicated to working on a longer piece, with it in my mind anew that it's not just for me and those close. something else. must interrogate resistance i guess, or maybe just shove it aside.)
Anyhow, this story is one I imagine verbally introducing somehow, maybe because I originally read a short version of it at Powells this summer; I reckon I built it partially around a game for you, the audience (heh), in person. Because it has to do with those party games one plays with folks in order to mysteriously determine important aspects of our lives, humorously and without the wiles of consciousness getting in the way. a/la "What's your favorite animal/color and what do you think about water?" With the answers metaphorically standing in for aspiration/self-image and feelings about sex.
Well, this game involves ranking five animals, the ranker choosing the criteria by which to rank them. The characters: dog, lion, horse, sheep, pig.
Go ahead. Rank them.
Now that you've done that, I will reveal that your ranking of these animals tells us about your priorities in life. (#1 = highest priority, and so forth)
My personal irony was that I ranked them by the degree to which they amused me, most amusement being #1. I love that my priorities are established by amusement. That told me more than anything.
[Draft removed for drafting purposes]
Okay, now I'm off to finish the mystery novel I'm reading. I need to finish it before I can progress past chapter 2 of Descartes Error, not that I need bribery, but that I am highly distractable. Oh, and doing laundry tomorrow & hopefully cooking food for at least one of my splendid friends...
Monday, March 10, 2008
as much as I hate to
1 Kings Chapter: 3And always, because it was, shook by fear the ones [...] leaned beneath the humble name that gathered: divide, sword, daughter split, political parties who fall sideways at any length, [etc, etc], love that needn't mean much lasting at all, or art or art or artlike traveling a dying fallen, burning clever or throwheart longer than air
16. Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before...
19. ...this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid...
20. ...at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
25. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to...
26. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned [...], and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide...
[this, or something like this, wants to be inhaled] so.don't.try.harder.like.asmartass.to.be.smarter.as.art.so.try.ass.don't.hard.please, fuck simplicity: answers from the feet of begging maidens. neither were nor weren't women, just for the record, but both perhaps harlots from the start.
I've always spent my evenings just before that moment falling asleep, my own hard or slippern quiet, imagining a world more bizarre and willing to adopt measures, maybe me. Usually the abduction involves green echinoderm aliens, and I prefer it if A] they are furry as well as round, B] they have no mean-bones despite whatever 'conflict' might befall their lives; perhaps they are viscous paintball fiendish, spewing their dire spiteful benevolence occasionally horrific but so-temporary in venom, but always they are fur/ry; C] I am their hero, perhaps for no reason whatsoever.
harlots creating from the body who had die from the body as well, so what next? // dancing feel something oh but the slant of your voice against me when you know we're both caught break underneath // know but can you find the new sentence next, and then don't ask for an herb to get you through // or split
When Joseph Smith and G.W.B. combine. / I am a follower of resource and whatever someone else has designed. \\ Each day is only enough on summer solstice, except when the handmaid overlaid [...] and words do not matter, language is form, form is united, honestly is cliche, e tu che, u you se, that c - lich - e.
Death and its potential is more than a law. | everywhere // harlots from the body aspect // we try to look to but we end up within landscape split, eventually mediocre under our fault.
I'm not religious, and none of our politicians are worth the attention, but it's not just curiosity that (for a change) motivates me; I've always taken as given the idea that everything will change in my lifetime, but really, I've started wondering if it's even possible for humanity to surprise itself along the way.
yeah, so, in-class essays and especially important intrigues. irritation that i can build better circuitry than lowhangs, but persist in achieving very little but talk to myself in public spaces. i'm so fed up with myself these days. and my choice to not veer away.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
a date and timespending
Overall, I think I'm actually proud of myself. Being brave again.
And just for the record, my record: although I enjoy loving folks, I'm still not sure I ever want to be with anyone again. Overall I feel I have too many tasks to accomplish to waste my time with romantic love. But maybe in the long run, I'm full of crap... who knows.
Grading papers tomorrow. And not blogging because it's not really a conversation and I'm starting to think paper is prettier.
in our red miata
but then our decidedly unhappy kittenfrog hopped into my hands and cried, so i rubbed her kitten head but noticed aloud that her amphibian hindquarters were drying. oh fuck it, ali said, and picked a steep old-cemented road we weren't entirely certain would could drive back out of and sort of tumbled down it in our red miata, wind blowing lots of bright heat. ali and brolaw told me not to worry, that sometimes one had to take the risk, but wasn't always meant to climb back out. i didn't feel like arguing: the kittenfrog was mewling.
at the end of the road, a sandy beach with feldspar tidepools, nearly everything flat but the road we couldn't go back up. i stood on the beach holding the kittenfrog in my hands and felt like i had just come home. barefoot and cold rock sand between my toes. the kittenfrog leaped out of my hands and i screamed. it was part amphibian, and who ever heard of a frog in salt water (not to mention a kitten. it was entirely wrong. poor kittenfrog in a salty body of water)!
but kittenfrog swam like a pro, her froggy limbs stretching and folding, her smooth form cutting just a foot under the surface. ali laughed at me, said i didn't know much about kittenfrogs, now did i? now did anyone? when I caught our kittenfrog, she leaped out of my hands again, and bounced over to the tidepools where she buried herself in the sand, little soaks of saltwater forming. this time i walked slowly over so' not to scare her, sat down and buried my knees, stroked our kittenfrog's head and she purred and purred as i pulled the saltwater across her fur.
later we bought five orange sodas from the soda machine at the top of the old-concrete road. we hiked up there and weren't surprised to find the quarters waiting for us, but called our mother to let her know.
at the end of our conversation, our mother forgot to hang up her phone and i could hear her cutting carrots in the greenhouse, listening to Guns N' Roses. i asked ali: "did you know mom listened to Guns N' Roses?" she didn't.
there isn't even anything to say
Thursday, March 06, 2008
not quite, nor ever, spring (+ personals ads)
I've decided that I need a new goal. A tangible one. So, my recent daydreams: a dog - catching a ball under a grey sky; a kayak - holding me even upside down in crosscurrents; a cover band - playing all the songs I didn't even know matched; a mime - rendering my life into 3-dramatized- dimension; a pirate ship - abducting me, but then tossing me into a sperm whale's gullet for fun, where I last for three months before being regurgitated on another planet that I have to mathematically reconcile; a lunar eclipse - giving a new excuse for playing footsies with tubby quintuplets.
tangible daydreams, tangible futures, ones with a messianic approaches to bilingualism, doubled bodies, polydactylism of the mindspace, discipline without ornery disposition, ordinary dispossession, or disappropriationalized olfactory dissonance (the ones discussed when I wasn't obstinate about disillusioned oligarchical orchids organized orthodontally by dyspeptic dilly-dalliers on their tangy furoin).
okay, a funny story. no, I mean funny. um, I put a personals ad out there on el internet, which I've done only once before, but it freaked me out the last time so very badly that I didn't return to the internet for two weeks. oh yes, something about this nonbody space and never letting it intersect with realtime. also, if you don't know the body or body language or even a person's walk, how are you supposed to go on a date? but ok, bored and disconnected right around now, I went ahead and posted a personals ad, 'poetically' mentioning that I'm a) only interested in a date, and b) moving in under six months. then prepared slowly for a response or at the most two.
As opposed to fifteen in two days.
I guess it helped that I didn't attach my photograph, physical description or physical 'requirements'?
oh woeful woeful freakout. After about five new emails, I figured that getting nineteen cats and letting them lick the freckles off my face on a regular basis wouldn't be that bad. If out of hunger, they eat me when I die, what's the big deal really?
you riding clean
but ya gas tank is on E
be stepping out, ain't no decent shoes on ya feet
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
A big day in the primary elections. I'm pulling for Obama...
Monday, March 03, 2008
not bad, not bad at all
For some reason, this tickled my funnybone. Maybe I find it ironic that she has to press for a years' old love promise in order to get herself a cup of coffee. Ah, but what one is promised and then denied in love!
Just so's you know, I'm doing pretty well these days despite the anxiety surrounding not being able to support myself on my two days a week night-class. And, I guess, despite a skinheart stircrazy that has perhaps to do with toiling the Chicago winter, but also with that readiness to move on and discover how to return without returning.
But I mean, oddly enough, I'm fairly well-content. No big angsty moments, no dangerous emotions spiraling down. I feel well-fed and well-loved not to mention strangely hopeful.
Yesterday was a big + thump on that score, as the temperature in Chicago went (a billion and) twenty degrees up, yes maybe temporarily, but ah the incredible glee of not needing a coat, only a sweatshirt after months and months of storm-burrowing. And the sound of our mineloads of snow melting, rushing hither and so very rapidly revealing a touch of green. As I walked around the neighborhood, groups of boys roamed the alleys, throwing about the remaining snow before chasing each other, sweaty and large-mouthed, dashing their winterlong hair out of their eyes. I saw one group of men playing soccer, and a group of poodles wearing black pom-pom protectors on their ankles. On top of it all, the first smell of spring, a warm wind that might almost be called a bluster.
There's no doubt that this has been a hard, very long winter here, and lh bet me it will last a month longer (in the news, predictions of another deep snow tomorrow), but perhaps the sky's finally made some form of promise. And I have to say, one of the best attributes of Chicago, visible every year I've been here, is the sweetlollydashing talktalk with which the aft-wintered urbanites greet each other - visibly, loudly, generously. Nobody will talk to strangers more than a Chicago-ite after winter.
And then there's the class I'm teaching, which fills me with pleasant gripes and tribulations. It's an odd class, nominally a Comp I class, but in practice something closer to Principles of Writing. My students barely know how to compose a sentence, much less a paragraph, and it took me too long to figure that out. I came in primed to teach analysis and critical thinking, and have swerved to teach compound sentences, topic sentences, and basic reading skills. All these I don't mind teaching, but I resent walking into a class expecting students who had tested, or worked their way into, a particular form of college-writing class, only to find out that I need to back up several, or rather a lot of, steps.
In addition to this, I'm under the impression that this class represents a whole bunch of unexpected work for these students. They aren't turning anything in, and I've resorted to threatening their grades, which I fucking hate to do; I like students to negotiate their own obsession or interest in grades without me having to refer to them ever, or even at all. I'm pretty straightforward about my grading criteria and the school's grading criteria, and then I expect to not have to mention it ever again. I mean, call me crazy, but I tend to think of teaching as the mission to generate know-how and conversation, not me guarding the gates. I've always thought my deal was to help them through the door. So it makes me feel like a tremendously crappy teacher to have to say, "Hey you, do your fucking work or I'll bust your butt back to Timbuktu."
But nooooo, no. These students don't turn in 50% of their work, and I've already cut back the workload I assign by at least 75% since my heady T.A.ing days. I can't cut it down any more or there won't even be the slightest point. But it's been hard sticking to this, because most of my students are working immigrant (or first-generation) Hispanic parents without home access to computers. How can they type their essays, they like to ask me, if they don't have anything to type them on? So... in a bold and brazen mode, I shifted 1/3 of the class-time to open-lab writing, but even that is not nearly enough. Then again, I again and again watch them fritter this time away nattering on about their shoes or the dance scene. (They think I don't speak enough Spanish to know they are yapping about topics outside of our class. It's become one of my daily pleasures to never reveal I know a fair amount of Spanish while simultaneously demonstrating that I know exactly what they're saying.)
Boy, that sounded like a full-out gripe session.
But this is my strange, twisted pleasure. I really enjoy teaching. I remember this so many times in a single class. I love these students; I appreciate that they've given me their trust. I vow to never let that trust down, and to help them succeed in every way I can. I promise I'll never lie to them, tell them I understand something when I don't. And there it is: being in class is a pleasure, and watching them laugh or smile or enjoy an exercise even as it teaches them something they want or need to know, well, it makes me dreadfully content, and so it goes.
Yah, so life humdrum, lack of cute datable women, and everything in transit, ain't really that bad. And on top of it, I received a phone-message from an abroad loved-one, plus my buddy took me out to fabulous Lebanese food today, and I truly stuffed my face.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
One of my close friends is writing right now about how when people work/live within structures of violence, they must in a way accept the beast in order to survive.
and then I'm still reading Moby-Dick and was struck by how Ahab went insane because he didn't reconcile himself to the violence done to his body, but instead dissembled, hiding his rage to brood upon it; thus creating a symbol that ultimately became larger than anything else in his life... out of a disturbing, but limited memory. So he (I presume having not finished the book) was the one who destroyed himself, and whatever the whale is going to do (I haven't gotten there) will merely be the physical world coinciding.
How horrifying. So I'm curious by what processes do people incorporate past grief? Obviously you can't erase the past, or force yourself to forget it, which I think is sometimes the urge behind "letting it go." But if someone constantly remembers, they likely can drive themselves insane as their ghosts somehow become more real than anything tangible. I wonder what the healthy balance between letting-go / remembering might look like, and how incorporating past sadness differs from remembering joy or happiness. Any thoughts?
Oh, and I just saw the documentary The Protagonist, and thought it was very good.