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2006

Translating culture | Cultures traduites

Fiction / fiction Poetry / poésie Translation / traduction Reports / reportage Photography / Photographie Contemporary Art / art contemporain English Français Español

PLUS Jean-Max Albert Jacqueline Cahen Carl Caulkins Flor Garduño Noah Fischer Piotr Kaczmarek Paul Kahn Norman Lock John Oliver Simon

FEATURES

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Beltrametti – Whalen Letters Marie-Noëlle Fontan at Bibracte John Clark on New Orleans Koller & Kyger: english > français Huerta: español > english | 2_ 2006


Magazine

Issue 2 2006 Translating culture | Cultures traduites

Philip Whalen-Franco Beltrametti (typography by Jean-Baptiste Levée) All simultaneous times all places of the imagination all forms of expression are NEW. Editorial address Kahn+Associates 90, rue des Archives, 75003 Paris

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Jacqueline Cahen (English translation: John Greaves) 22

NOT VERACRUZ, A Daybook / PAS A VERACRUZ, Un Journal Norman Lock

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Contributing Editors James Koller Laurence Bossé

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Production Editor Eva-Lotta Lamm

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Pieces for Small Orchestra Paul Kahn

Périple: In the Library Paul Kahn (traduction française: Alba Escalón)

Design Consultant Krzysztof Lenk

Subscription 40€ Eu¤ro / $40 USD for 2 issues (two years)

l’immediat labile

Joanne Kyger (traduction française: Etel Adnan) 26

Editor Paul Kahn

Website www.new-mag.com

Invention and art will win Correspondence, 1967-1970 Kyoto/California/Switzerland/Italy

Marie-Noëlle Fontan at Bibracte / Marie-Noëlle Fontan à Bibracte

John Clark (drawings by Francisco di Santis) 61

New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means? James Koller (traduction française: Jacqueline Cahen)

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A Lot To Keep In Mind / Tellement à retenir Claire Millerioux

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Reciprocity comes into it Jean-Max Albert & François Tusques

Cover: Wall painting by Franco Beltrametti; photo by Dominique Negel

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Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes / Around the Blues in Eighty Worlds Noah Fischer (traduction française: Anne Deniaud)

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The Crowds (Painted Photographs) / La Foule (peintures photographiques) Flor Garduño

Dépôt légal : septembre 2006 ISSN : 1776-9353 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any means without written permission from the publisher. © all images: the authors; © all texts: the authors; © all translations: the authors; © 2006 of this publication : Kahn+Associates S.A.R.L. | 2_ 2006

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Silent Natures David Huerta (English translation: John Oliver Simon)

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El azul en la flama / The Blue of the Flame John Oliver Simon

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About David Huetra Piotr Kaczmarek

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Leafless Trees Piotr Kaczmarek & Irena Szrek

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The Art of Interpretation Carl Caulkins

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The NEW Song


The purpose of

IN THIS ISSUE:

is to learn, explore and not repeat too much of the form Irregular Literary Poetry Avant Garde Art Magazine. The ­burden of our history and cultures can be carried around lightly or with great struggle and suffer­ ing, depending on how each of us relates to gravity and the friction produced by Social Agreement. As Philip Whalen wrote almost forty years ago (29 August 1969): I seriously doubt that we need ANOTHER magazine. Yet we do need to spread the news. So with due respect for that doubt, I need to offer you NEW 2_2006 and hope that you, Dear Reader, will discover something in it you have never seen before. I want to offer you examples of work by people who recognize that meaning can be found in the continuity of visual and verbal expression. As I have traveled in the last year, by email and internet, car, airplane, train and foot, this is what I’ve found. I think the root of human expression is narration, story telling. Working for some years in visual design, I want to share with you how many ways a story can be told. I offer you tales from several parts of the world in which each contributor is translating culture and several have translated the language of others.

Philip Whalen (1923-2002) was a major voice in American poetry from the 1950s onward. His writing, wisdom and kindness touched close contemporaries such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson and Gary Snyder as well as each generation that has followed. Born and raised in rural Oregon, Whalen spent much of his life in the San Francisco Bay area. Shortly after returning from a second stay in Kyoto, Japan in 1971, he became a zen monk, taking the Buddhist name Zenshin Ryūfū, and served as abbot of the Hartford Street Zen Center. His writing is available in Overtime: Selected Poems (Penguin, 1999). Franco Beltrametti (19371995) was a visual artist and writer whose work brought together many artists in Europe, North America and Japan through the force of his publications, collaborations, and performance events. While he spend much of his life in his native region of Ticino, Switzerland, he also lived and worked in Japan, California, New York, and Italy. Major exhibitions of his visual work include Choses qui voyagent (Venezia-MilanoMarseille-Paris 1996) and Franco Beltrametti (Mendresio 1999). Jean-Baptiste Levée ­received a diploma in Création Typo­ graphique from école supérieure Estienne des arts & industries graphiques. He is currently a type designer with Porchez Typofonderie based in Paris.

For further information about and work by our contributors, please visit our website where I can use the internet to connect you to available publications, current exhibitions, and other events that evolve over time. 2

Jacqueline Cahen has been an organizer, performer, and overall active force in the Polyphonix poetry events which have taken place in France and many sites in Europe and North America for over several decades. See the Polyphonix anthology (with audio CD) published by Editions du Centre Pompidou (2002). Her poems are taken from l’immédiat labile, the first collection of her poems to be available in book form. Joanne Kyger’s poems are selected from a current work, NOT VERACRUZ, which she calls “a Day Book for lack of a better way to address what I think of as a daily practice of brush stroke immediacy.” She is a ­resident of Bolinas, California and sometimes teacher at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. As Ever: Selected Poems (Penguin, 2002) is the largest collection of her poetry. Etel Adnan, a native of Lebanon, is a poet, painter, essayist. She lives in Paris, Beirut, and San Francisco where she taught philosophy at Dominican College. She is the author of many books of ­prose and poetry ­available in English, French and Arabic. Her most recent book is In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country (City Lights, 2006). Norman Lock is a writer of fiction, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His recent books include A History of the Imagination (2004) and The Long Rowing Unto Morning (2006). He is also the author of Land of the Snow Men by George | 2_ 2006


Belden and Cirque du Calder – Jules Cuiff’s Reminiscence of Alexander Calder’s ‘Circus’. Sections 18 and 19 of Pieces For Small Orchestra appear in the current issue of Upstairs at Duroc (Paris). Marie-Noëlle Fontan is a native of Toulouse, France. She lived for over a decade in Guatemala and now lives and works in Paris, France. Her unique vegetable fabric work is on exhibition in several shows in France. John Clark (aka John P. Clark, Ph.D.) is a native and resident of New Orleans, Louisiana where he teaches philosophy at Loyola University. ­Under the nom de plume Max Cafard he is the author of The Surre(gion)alist Manifesto and other writings (2003). The portraits drawn by Francisco di Santis accompanying his essay are selected from a documentary project of the Common Ground Collective. James Koller lives in George­ town, Maine. He travels in the United States, Germany, France, and Italy performing his work. Since 1965 he has been editor/publisher of C ­ oyote’s Journal and Coyote Books (www.coyotesjournal.com). Selections of his poems are available in German, French, and Italian translation – see the NEW website for details. The interview with Claire ­Millerioux, a s­ tudent of literature at Université d’Orléans,

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took place in Paris in April 2005 and was completed using tape transcription and email. Paul Kahn is an information architect living in Paris and the editor of new. Pianist and composer François Tusques is one of the ­pioneers of Free Jazz in France. Jean-Max Albert – painter, sculpture, graphic designer, landscape architect, musician – works in many media. The ­selections from Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes is selected from a collaboration that consists of eighty music, text and visual compositions. Plans for the final work include a book publication and multimedia theatre performance. Noah Fischer, native of the San Francisco Bay area, ­attended Rhode Island School of Design and is now based in New York. His work combines photography, sculpture, painting, sound and theatre. The work reproduced here was created from images of street demonstrations in New York City. He is represented by Oliver Kamm/5BE in New York. Flor Garduño is a native of Mexico City and now lives in Stabio, Ticino Switerland. The major collections of her photo­graphs include Bestiarium (1987), Witness of Time (1992) and Inner Light (2002). The photographs published here are selected from the catalog of her exhibition Nature ­Silenziose / Silent Natures, which took place

in 2005 in Chiasso Switzerland. The poems of David Huerta are selected and trans­lated by John Oliver Simon. Simon is Associate Director of Poetry Inside Out (PIO), a project of the Center for Art in Translation in San Francisco. David Huerta lives and works in Mexico City. Piotr Kaczmarek, a native of Warsaw, Poland, is the creative director of Dynamic Diagrams, an information design studio in Providence, Rhode Island. His diagrams and maps of websites were featured in Atlas of Cyberspace (2001) and Mapping Websites / Architectures de site web / Mapas de web / Websites visualisieren (2000). He works in pen and ink, digital photo­ graphy, and Adobe Illustrator. Irena Szrek, also from Warsaw, is senior software consultant at Szrek2Solutions in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Carl “Clay” Caulkins is an American musician living and performing American music in France. A new recording of his songs, The Avalon Songbook (some of which appeared in the first issue of new) will be available soon in CD audio and book+CD format. More information about all contributors can be found at: www.new-mag.com

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Philip Whalen & Franco Beltrametti

typography & design by Jean-Baptiste Levée edited by Paul Kahn

Invention and art will win Correspondence 1967-1970 Kyoto/California/Switzerland/Italy

Intoduction Philip Whalen (1923-2002) and Franco Beltrametti (19371995) met in Kyoto, Japan. Before coming to Japan, Whalen had lived on the west coast of America and been an active voice in the New American Poetry that developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Beltrametti had trained as an architect in his native Switzerland and come to Japan to teach. In the years that followed, Beltrametti became a writer and visual artist, edited and contributed to several magazines and anthologies, devoting great energy to actively connecting a broad community of writers and artists in Europe and the United States. Whalen returned to America and continued to write and publish poetry and novels. From 1971 until his death, he lived as a priest in Zen Buddhist communities in California and New Mexico. In 1995, in what turned out to be the last year of his life, Franco Beltrametti wrote an autobiographical essay. Like all forms of autobiography, it records the way things are remembered. He grew up on the Swiss side of the Swiss-Italian border, in the town of Chiasso, close to the village of Riva San Vitale where he lived much of his adult life. Describing how, when he was a teenager, his family chose among places in Italy and France for summer holiday trips, he wrote:

For summer vacations we later moved to Nervi, east of Genova. I remember blinding afternoon light, large processions of red and black ants, cicadas in the pine trees. I bought my first poetry book there, Il Dolore by Ungaretti, and couldn’t get over the impact: I built a special place for poetry in my mind and wrote hermetic attempts. It took years to find out some basics: the only way to write is to write. Later on in Japan, when at twenty-eight I still was very shy regarding poetry, Philip Whalen confirmed it: in order to write you’ve got to sit down and do it. (Autobiography, F.B.)

The meeting between Beltrametti and Philip Whalen took place in 1966. Beltrametti had arrived, via the Trans­Siberian Railway, to teach architecture. The introduction took place through a series of friends, as Judy Beltrametti described in a recent note:

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When Franco first arrived in Tokyo in May of 1965 he went straight off to the coffee house where foreigners and intellectuals and far-out Japanese went whose name escapes me. There on his first or second day in Tokyo he met Nanao Sakaki, renowned 20th century samurai-poet and activist. At that time Nanao was walking the length and breadth of Japan spreading the word about new and more fulfilling lifestyles that were possible and encouraging a back-to-the-land movement. After Franco moved to Kyoto, I joined him in the Fall of 1965. We lived in the Ginkaku-ji part of Kyoto in an “apatto”, a small room of about four tatami by four tatami. We shared washing facilities down the hall with the other apatto dwellers and could use the owner’s phone, who lived on the ground floor. One day, not long after my arrival, Nanao telephoned and soon was at our place. He asked Franco, “Do you meet Galy Snyda?” Franco, who was a fan of Gary’s mainly because of his book “Cold Mountain”, said he had gone on a pilgrimage to Gary’s house, which was clear across town, but wasn’t able to have a meeting with him. Nanao said “I go. You must meet!” Nanao set off on the trek across town and, lo and behold, he returned some time later the same evening with Gary in tow. We all had dinner together and a friendship had begun. Gary said he had a good friend whom he would like us to meet, an American poet living just down the road from us, it seemed. Within the next few days we heard two American voices coming down our road and it was Gary and Philip Whalen. Another meal was shared and the deep friendship between Franco and Philip began as well. (26 March 2006, email to the editor)

Gary Snyder – American zen student, merchant seaman, poet, translator, essayist – had already been in Kyoto for nearly a decade and was to return to the United States in 1967 to build a home in foothills of the California Sierra Nevada Mountains. In contrast, 1966 was the first time Philip Whalen was able to live in Japan. He was known in the US as one of the Beat poets due to his association with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and had been a friend of Snyder’s since their college years. He had published several books of poetry, but had not succeeded in making a living as a writer. In Kyoto, he had a job as an English teacher, but he had not come to Japan to teach. His travel was motivated by a profound interest in Buddhism and Asian culture. The year they met was the only time that Beltrametti and Whalen actually lived close to one another. Whalen was fourteen years older than the young Swiss architect, and made a strong impression on him. On Bear’s Head, the book that was to contain Whalen’s poetry up to that time, was being prepared by James Koller back in San Francisco. Beltrametti had begun writing poetry and was eager to learn

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more about two subjects to which Whalen devoted much of his life: English literature and Buddhism.

WHALEN & BELTRAMETTI | Invention and Art will win

Phil would visit us, announcing his arrival by blowing a conch shell. He gave me Gertrude Stein, [Charles] Olson, and [William] Blake to read and I went several times through his own books, like Every Day. Oral transmission. Now he’s a Roshi, a Zen teacher in San Francisco, Soto lineage. My practice has always been rather informal, walking meditation is my way; I’ve a strong refusal for anything formally set up. Yet the Diamond Sutra is a daily study along with Lao-tzu. I try to practice their essence in art and life, which have become very much the same, a daily thing, renewed by necessity and chance. (Auto­b iography, F.B.)

This time together lasted only a few months. Beltrametti and his family (his son, Giona, was born in Japan that year) left Kyoto for a teaching job in California. In the next few years, both men moved frequently, Beltrametti going from San Luis Obispo, California to Zurich, Rome and Sicily. Beltrametti’s first books of poetry were published in Italy, soon followed by English translations. Whalen returned to the San Francisco area, then back to Kyoto. In 1971 he left Japan for the last time and returned to San Francisco. My thanks to the people who made it possible to publish the letters in this form. Giona Beltrametti gathered documents preserved in the Franco Beltrametti Archives (Riva San Vitale, Switzerland). Material from the Philip Whalen Papers (Bancroft Library, University of California) was located with the assistance of Michael Rothenberg and David Kessler and selected by Jay Weidenfeld. Judy Beltrametti, Stefan Hyner, James Koller, David Schneider, and Gary Snyder have all provided invaluable assistance. Dominique Negel photographed Whalen’s letters and Beltrametti’s wall paintings. Finally, I wish to thank Jean-Baptiste Levée for accepting the challenge to translate airmail calligraphy into printed pages using his typographic art. Further publications concerning Franco Beltrametti’s work and collaborations continue to appear in ALLORA, published by Fondazione Franco Beltrametti. The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, edited by Michael Rothenberg, will be published by Wesleyan University Press in 2007. PK

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To Franco Beltrametti Lecturer, Dept. of Architecture California State Polytechnical College San Luis Obispo, California U.S. A.

22.��.67 postmark From Philip Whalen c/o Kitamura 73 Higashikubota-cho Kita-shirakawa, Sakyo-ku Kyoto JAPAN

Dear Franco & Judy & Giona,

I am all worn out �rom a long walk in the country. The map shows that Ohara village is just a little way beyond Yase, so I took the train to Yase & began walking. I walked & walked & saw beauti�ul mountains & �ields, & the Takano River & many villages & �arms, & a beauti�ul 11-headed stone Kwannon standing near a little logging road, & at last, a small �at policeman who stood near the highway guard rail {which was all bent & broken} & he insisted upon taking me in his prowl car to Ohara & showing me the road to Sanzen In temple & to Jakko-In. So I arrived at last, in style. Enclosed photos show the nicest buddhas at Sanzen In. I think that the garden there is a huge success. I had a nice walk to the Jakko In, then back to the Amida temple

very good plain wood 11-headed Kwannon there, too a little larger than life size. Big Amida, & a ½life–size Bishamonten & Fudo. Behind, on a shelf, there was a fairly good Fugen on a laughing elephant. just beyond Sanzen In — I had le�t my

�lashlight on the steps. There was a beauti�ul small lunch near Jakko In — rice & soup & vegetables & pickle & tea, very �resh & good. Noodles & tōrōrō at Sanzen In are very good. Back in the city, I went away to the bath & then to Kamo-Hachi �or �resh mushrooms, beer & chicken, & so home again. There have been great visitings & travels. Pico — & later, Mamo & Nanao were all here, & your �riend, Gunther Nitchkie �rom Tokyo & another German architect with a black beard & sad brown eyes & big cheer�ul wi�e Léonie { i� I remember the name right } … all o� the architects & Hal Gold & Mieko & I went to a big special Takigi Nō last Saturday, in memory o� Meiji’s �ather. They played TAKASAGO, and the short “new” Nō which had no distinction, & ATAKA {Benkei & the subscription list } & a great kyōgen about 2 men dancing in 2 halves o� a hakama, & the S UMIYOSHI play about Genji & the Akashi Princess accidentally meeting at Sumiyoshi shrine, & a �inal mad dance

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o� jubilation &c. per�ormed by 2 mountain spirits in long red wigs. Tuesday we all went to Manpukuji �or the chanting & the big lunch {ten o� us} & Wednesday, �our o� us went to the grand initiation ceremonies on Hieizan — it is held only once every �our or �ive years. 8 or 10 boys being initiated also dressed in Heian mode plus gilded crowns with arti�icial cherry blossoms. They were maybe 7 to 12 years old. The 2 high abbots parade about in their lac�uer sedan chairs, as does an Imperial Messenger {in �ull dress, Heian jidai} all carried by costumed bearers & attendants. At one point, about a hundred priests came slowly out o� the �ounder’s hall, 2 by 2, chanting the Hokke-kyo. They wore enormous gold brocade kesa over beauti�ul red & white robes & big Chinese shoes which were gold with red or green �lower designs. Each one carried a round gold �iligree plate be�ore him, with a copy o� the sutra open upon it. 4 long {weighted} ribbons hung �rom each plate, almost to the ground. They marched part way around the temple & then back inside again. Then the whole out�it moved to the Kompon Chudo �or more {secret} ceremonies & then back to the Founder’s Hall again. It took about 4 hours. The Dalai Lama & Alan Watts are both staying at the Miyako Hotel. I haven’t seen either one o� them. Mamo & his great straw raincoat & pilrim hat le�t �or Fujimi Ashram today. Next comes {12 OCT.} the Ushi Matsuri at Koryuji, & the Kurama �ire whoopee & the Jidai Matsuri. I am enjoying a 2-week vacation between semesters o� school. No money has arrived �rom Harcourt Brace & World, but everyone writes me encouraging letters & so I {�oolishly} expect it will come any minute. When it does I will have to �igure out what I must do next. Ginsberg is in Milan with Nanda Pivano & he doesn’t like that city as much as Rome. He was taken to Rapallo to spend the day with Ezra Pound, who scarcely spoke 3 words, but was gentle & kind. Allen plans to come to Kyoto late this winter or early spring. Today was lovely, but when I think about the cold weather coming & that damned kerosene stove &c. &c. I begin to �ind San Francisco a more possible & entertaining prospect. Right now I’m cranky & dopey because I’m not writing anything ; contrariwise, 8

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I don’t want to start anything & then get all hung up about moving out o� Japan &c. …Oh well. Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY �or Giona & Franco, and much love to Judy. I hope that li�e in San Luis isn’t really desperately impossible. Oh – the little Adam & Eve book, THE INVENTION OF THE LETTER, is nearly �inished printing. I told Irving Rosenthal to send you all a copy the minute it was completed. Love to you all, Phil 6:�:67

Dear Phil, Dear Gary,

I’m recovering – somehow. Phil, thank you for yr wonderful rainbow-letter, now hanging and radiating on the wall. You see what gave me a real hard time was to discover that such a greatness of space / mountains / prairies / forests / ocean is not inspiring the people and their life — that for all that beauty there is all that ugliness, all that desolate materialism, all that junk you know, and that all that junk is still increasing… rushing towards some kind of collapse that will happen / must happen. Though we are beyond all that, free of it, at least getting free of it, we can’t help looking at all that with a mixture of compassion and of rage — that was / is one thing. Then you see these guys teaching here – and I’ve to see them everyday ! — don’t have any idea of what’s happening and of what it’s all about – like old bodies at a 14 juillet défilée they are absolutely out of control – but still cheering, in their unhappy grey ghostly world of limited dimensions. Fortunately others are worrying, praying, working, writing, having visions, making love, growing teeth, going thru hells and paradises FOR THEM TOO... � | 2_ 2006

From Franco Beltrametti Lecturer, Dep’t of Architecture California State Poly College San Luis Obispo, California, USA To Philip Whalen c/o Kitamura Higashi Kubota-cho Kitashirakawa Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Japan San Luis Obispo 27:��:67

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When you are with somebody who tells you deadly serious : “see that car full of Mexicans you better watch out” you can’t help tell him go to hell – I’m Mexican I’m Chinese / Tibetan / Eskimo / Etruscan AND I don’t watch out… I’m getting along fine with the students because I talk like one of them, listen to what they say without the I–know–what’s–wrong–with–you–smile and tell ’em not to take seriously all the deceptive mess around and to find themselves, go ahead. (Stand up, swokes !) On the staff here is one guy who is not totally hopeless. He spend one year in Spain, is interested in Buddhism / China / India / Japan etc., built a real good redwood house by himself for himself etc., he is kind of helping me to avoid too much bullshit / organization of the college, of which he is fed up, but he can handle all that — I’m not even going to try : end of spring I will just disappear. Now, in order to survive I’m appealing to all kinds of magical / Taoist / guerrilla like resources, tactics and devices. Judy and I plan to go soon again to S.F., meet again Jim K., Bill Brown, the Mahalila tribe etc.— and probably to stay up there 3 weeks or so in December / January. Yesterday we went to Morro Bay, Baywoods etc. The ocean, the rocks are majestic. South of Morro Bay, on the coast, there is a wide marsh, miles of water, meanders, bushes, yellow wild flowers, open sky — I imagine in a month it will be full of birds… and Giona will be walking… I miss you and Gary very much – love to both of you, and to Masa and Mim and Nanao. Tell me more of yr shaman activities. LONG LIVE GREEN MIKANS !  Franco

Dear Phil,

Your messages are enchanting and woke our joy ! It’s like receiving irish middle age manuscripts or “les belles heures” miniatures or persian hashish visionary garden or terrific apparitions of tibetan – (Rabelais) blue / red / green dancing letters… I hope you’ll be here before the end of November so that (maybe) you can do all the work for your book with Jim and then we can all go rock hunting 10

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(and climbing) and visiting deserts and canyon and mountains and everything. Thru Jay (Blaise) and Issyo Saijo we met a young architect here, Bill Tickell, he knows you (he is a friend of Lew Welch) and is a real free person – we had a wonderful night with him (grass and visions – this was two days ago), met a group of local teachers (yes, sophisticated and intelligent, but… that alone does not help) – danced in happiness all night at their party, dance is better than “intelligent” talk, is not so ? Tell us exactly when you think to arrive in San Francisco if you already know it. Yes – Kyoto is hard to leave – LOVE Franco

From Franco Beltrametti Lecturer Dept. of. Architecture Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, California, USA To Philip Whalen c/o Kitamura Higashi Kubota-cho Kitashirakawa Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Japan San Luis Obispo 1:��:67 �

Dear Phil�,

Bolinas mesa is a good place where to hide ! We’ll come to S.F. (at Jay Blaise’s) as soon as we can – maybe very soon, and of course, first on the way, come to see you at Bill’s house. But first I have to finish getting things done here (school ... ). I’ll tell you everything then. See you very soon. Love Franco� Judy� GIONA�

San Luis Obispo 9:���: ’67 �

Love to Zoe, Bill, Jim K., Cassandra, the goats and dogs and birds and cats and trees… yes – California trees are beautiful and so are the hills, �, … creeks, stars….

Meanwhile you’ll have got my first (recent) letter...

Dear Phil,

Even Milarepa sometimes was kind of stuck in (I guess) Lhasa / etc / etc / etc and I’m sure you’ll turn in beauty and delight that (maybe) “egregious mistake” o� being back in S.F. / etc / etc / etc | 2_ 2006

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From Franco Beltrametti Lecturer, Dep’t of Architecture California State Poly College San Luis Obispo, California, USA To Philip Whalen c/o Rick Duerden 1506 Masonic St. San Francisco, California 94117 San Luis Obispo 27:�:68 �

If you feel like changing air come down with us (Judy is preparing some elaborate bread and a very elaborate hopefully delicious soup / Giona is trying to climb a table / there he is : on the table / no, stuck between table and chair, howling / but usually is a very quiet place / if the rain is not beating on the (shingel) roof / the wind not etc / etc / etc it is in fact very quiet) Did you go to the Sierras with Claude ? I forgot to tell you in my last letter that Gary recently wrote proposing us to join him in going to live up there, so that (o� course) I answer yes and wrote to Dick Baker too (as Gary suggested) though I don’t know Dick (only a 10 minute I silent, meeting) Anyway if I can afford it I’ll buy a piece of land too – if not, just help. (all of you). Anyhow tell me how this place looks to you – I’ll try to see it as soon as somebody (Dick Baker or Claude or ?) will guide me – I’ve no idea where it is, Nevada City (?) If you’re not coming here as I hope, I hope you will find a place very soon / please write soon. love and love !

Dont you think of building a FUDO shrine (close to a waterfall) in the Sierras  ? O – Phil I forgot to tell you how I bought already 3 weeks

28:�:68

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ago if I remember well a beautiful “BUCK„ pocket knife (very expensive) – it is like a samuri sword and makes me happy to look at it and cut paper, fruits / etc. / etc Can you write me the name of Marpa’s wife ? If you remember it. (you know, Marpa Milarepa’s guru). Yesterday after writing you �, Judy and I went out for a walk, nighttime. Went in a blue truck with inside frozen whale (entrance 35 cts) Well it was like visiting a friend killed by somebody. Poor beautiful friend. Sometimes, Phil, I like better fishes and animals than many human beings how about you ? I m[ean how] do you feel about that [?]

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(From One of Those

Condor People,

Franco Beltrametti, 1970)

Bank of America College Square, San Luis Obispo 20.45 nobody around _______________________________________ JERRY MALONE PRODUCTIONS INC. presents LITTLE IRVY 20 tons 38 feet a whale in a truck frozen on two rails 35 cents to enter see oncle Americo the misfit killed 1933 in Santa Maria, California ten seconds & out in the chilly January night shiney cars slide on highway one

I’M NO MORE A CIVILIZED MAN ****

We arrived in Switzerland since a few days and already are in the mountains. We met Hans and Kim at Saanen – where Kirshnamurti is giving talks. Chrisophe too is with us. There are fantastic streams and forests and rocky peaks, and we all take long hikes all day long. Giona is more and more active, and now is screaming in the mist. love Franco

Dear Phil,

We are all fine, but getting out of money (including Christophe). Giona was two years old 3 days ago and we had long festivities. I’m sending you “HOTCHA  !„ a paper published here by a fine young guy, poet himself, Urban Gwerder. I’m seeing him a lot, he is publishing Julian Beck, Sanders, Jean Jacques Label, and others. He just met the Fugs people in Germany. I thought it would be fine if you send me an unpublished poem or drawing or poem / drawing for his paper. (The poem would be printed in English with German translation that we can do). HOTCHA  ! is widely read and getting popular among students and young people in Switzerland and Germany. | 2_ 2006

To Philip Whalen 2427 Sutter Street San Francisco, California USA [forwarded to Box 434, Stinson Beach CA 94970] Saanen 23:��:68

From F.B. c/o CP N40, Muralto, Switzerland To Philip Whalen P.O.

Box 434

Stinson Beach California 94970, USA Zürich 10:�:68 �

13


do you know

From Franco Beltrametti c/o Beriger Forchstr. 38, Zürich, Switzerland To Philip Whalen P.O.

Box 434

Stinson Beach Calif., 94970, USA 3:���:68 �

He is going to publish some of my stuff too. Well, that’s all. I’m writing to Jim too, because Urban could organize some bookshop for “Coyote books„ and will advertise them free in his paper. Today is very sunny and beautiful, Kim came by (he is building beds for friends) and my father is here too and is going to cook polenta (mais)? for everyone tonight – Love Franco I hope to be able to go to Milano soon and will then visit Nanda Pivano

Dear Phil,

I’m glad to know you’ll be back in Kyoto soon. Now that it’s all decided you can take a long dedicated look at America… , how wonderful to leave again under the Bridge ! Our plans : in 2 weeks we go to Milano (� and see Nanda), Roma and Sicily (Dola) On the way I’ll start looking for land, especially near 1) Volterra 2) Carrara 3) via Cassia, north of Roma 4) Gaeta-Terracino 5) Calabria. I’ll dedicate the next months to find a place, possibly hidden. Ok — I started playing a flute (recorder) : it’s fantastic. Judy with guitar, Christophe with pans and drums, another with juice harp, a fifth with cembalo. I was yesterday very high (without grass - just naturally) and understood a koan (the one of tree – wind – moving – it’s your mind moving you know ?) Well, I have to go out work a few hours with Christophe – that house is nearly finished. It’s snowing. love Franco Judy Giona

*

14

Love to Gary and Masa (if arrived). To Jim and Cass and baby (arrived ?) To Zoe and Bill B. To everybody. I just met a strong group of young maoist-anarchists etc. : they are out of sight and beautiful people. #

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Dear Phil,

We’re just back from Italy. In Milano we met Nanda Zürich and Ettore (they were very nice and overwhelmingly 11:�:69 friendly) and Larry Ferlinghetti (has he gone to � Kyoto ?) I’ll start writing for their PIANETA FRESCO (including the translations of yr poems I did in Kyoto if you agree – Nanda would like to print some of yr BOSATSU drawing too. I’ll bring them down in a few weeks). She would like to have yr last books too. It was a fantastic traveling, met all my friends and made new ones, in Sicily. Great people, preparing a real revolution – I may go down again soon with them while looking for land (now there was no time for that). In another letter I’ll tell you more Judy and Giona are very fine. I just finished arranging 2 pages on you for Hotcha  ! – like this :  It will be out end of this month. The same number will have Gary’s WHY TRIBE (English & German) and a page of mine poems. Now we’re totally running out of money – so next week I’ll have to run around trying very hard to find some – hopefully enough to carry us on until autumn... the guys in Sicily would like us to stay with them, but they are extremely poor so if we go down I don’t want to be a weight on them – though they wouldn’t mind it at all. Here two views of Siracusa my preferred Sicilian city. the FONTE ARETUSA is still there with magnificent PAPYRUS TREES (very vibrating dark green  ) In Sicily it was spring : flowers all over, and orange-, mandarine-, lemon trees charged with fruit… here it’s all under snow. I keep practicing on my recorder. Love It’s everything arranged for Japan ? Franco

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15


Saturday night at to o’clock (8:���:69), Zürich

16

Dear Phil,

I got the 3 books you sent : “In  � melon Sugar” I read without being able to stop – it’s beautiful. Nobody else has written things like that before, I think. Idea’s a good place, but Imboil wasn’t all wrong, after all. It’s a book I’m happy somebody has written so that I can have it around. We got the money, too. Thank you Phil, It’s going to be very useful right now. Today was (is) like spring. Blue sky and the air is warm and at Christophe’s gate (with an automatic cigarette machine at the right and an automatic bus ticket machine at the left where always Andalou (the dog) piss) some pale blue flowers just came out (I’ll have to enquire their name and magic properties if any). Because of the spring day I went to the other side of town to visit my young Italian Marxist friend (Mario) who since weeks is sick and supposed to stay in bed and drink tea and not hang around downtown as he keeps doing / anyway / he is living in a sort of ghetto, wooden shacks, with a thousand or more Spanish and Italian workers (mostly carpenters and construction w.), 4 each room (100$ a room !! ). At his wall he keeps Hotcha’s Jim K.’s picture (because he likes his face he said) and a drawing by Giona. 4 guys were playing some strange card game from Puglie. We had very good red wine, from Puglie too. And we all talked of prickly pears, figs, oranges, almonds and other frutto delle Puglie. Bakunin was mentioned too : un brau’uomo, un dútto, a cool guy. Judy went for a long walk with Giona long the lake. And then later when we all were back (and Judy was baking a banana bread – very successfully) and Mario came too and others and I built towers with Giona (with wooden ����� �� etc.) some of them real tall and persian looking. “Le torri”, Giona says. Then we played with my pocket lamp, projecting hands and people and little trucks and things on the white walls, in darkness. Giona was very pleased – and went to sleep. And then we all eat. (But right now a guy called Marino came over and is telling me to go out with some people for a while so I’ll go on with this tomorrow. Ciao). | 2_ 2006


10:���:69

The flowers are “crocus” and are getting colour lilac, very delicate and precious. Judy and I are having sort of pow wow’s to decide what to do etc. etc. There is a huge exhibition of TIBETAN ART in town and we shall go there this afternoon. When are you leaving ? love to Gary/Masa and Jim/Cass and every friend. Lots of love for you Franco

Dear Franco, To Beltrametti, Franco & Judy Via Santa Dorotea 22/��� 00153 Roma, Italia 29.���.69 postmark From Philip Whalen c/o Education Dept./ Kyoto YMCA Sanjo-Yanaginobamba /Nakagyo-ku Kyoto JAPAN

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All my ink is drying up, it is so hot. Why do you think I am wise ? I think it’s because you haven’t seen me �or a while – I am really still a �at dumb old man who doesn’t learn Japanese & can’t �uit buying expensive books & rides in air-conditioned taxi cabs. I still pretend that I shall be able to go hide in the mountains in Oregon in a �ew years. Don’t worry about being crazy. Everybody who has any sense or any �eeling is bound to be a little mad in this day & age. The important thing is to do the work which you �eel must be done. I seriously doubt that we need ANOTHER magazine. That is something �or rich people to do. Nanda Pivano says maybe she will reproduce some o� my drawings in PIANETA FRESCO but that they haven’t started the magazine yet. And she doesn’t want to pay me, unless I �eel very strongly about it. I wrote & told her that I have no other means o� getting money, except �rom publishers & magazines. I also said that the pictures now belong to F. Beltrametti & should be credited as coming �rom IL COLLEZIONE DEI BELTRAMETTI {some grammar !} Nanda says that she & Ettore plan to be in Tokyo in September & hopes to phone me �or the pleasure o� hearing my voice. Give my love to Judy & Giona, & to Kim, when you see him. Try not to worry �uite so much. Love. Phil 17


Blithering dead leaves along the ground Crooked sunlight falling smoke black wind Electric power failure woke me up, I broke The kitchen clock. Franco & Judy hungry in Zurich.

From “Life at Bolinas,

The Last of California” in Severance Pay,

Philip Whalen, 1974.

30:���:68 — Bolinas — 11:��:69 — Kyoto

Partanna 5:�:69 �

18

Dear Phil,

Since 3 days we’re in Western Sicily. One of the very first things we met was yr letter. We live in a barrack whose original conception must be Japanese, but instead of tatami we got a bare concrete floor (I’ll work out something). The plan of the barrack lavabo toilet � but no water (one hour each 2/3 days – they say) shower (Kim is still in Saanen, Swiss mountains, and way up, near the elegant GSTAAD, at some Khrisnamurti friend mountain house) the view : on other barracks. They are all the same. “Baraccopoli” (called San Marlino / one of the 3 bidonvilles out of Partanna half destroyed by the ’68 earthquake) is in the plain amongst orchards. We see : prickly pear (red / violet fruits, yellow flowers RIGHT NOW) (lots) almond trees (lots) vineyards (lots) olive trees (lots of) figues, biwa (a few) cypresses (a few), carrubs (many) kaki (many) oranges and lemon trees (a few) and lots of pomegranates (just ripe now) + lots of wild flowers. Lots of donkeys and horses. Wild rabbits. The sea must be at 5/6 miles distance. We see it beyond a hill beyond another hill beyond etc. Blue air. Today I’ll go to the Selinunte Greek temples out along the beach. Just before leaving Roma I met Adriano Spatola, a young Italian poet and publisher (GEIGER books) who looks like Pantagruel or Gargantua. He is going to do a small book out of my short poems. In December or January. Title : Uno di quella gente condor (“one of those condor people).

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Meanwhile Feltrinelli is considering my “Nadamas” novel. Let me please have the pocket edition of ON BEAR’S HEAD when out, I need it. I’m reading : La vie de Milarepa (Jacques Bacot’s translation) + Levi-Strauss. Writing some new stuff too. Of my work here, later. Ciao. Love, Franco

To Franco Beltrametti c/o Centro Studi e Iniziative Valle Belice 91028 Partanna (Trapani) Sicilia, Italia 20:��:70 postmark From Philip Whalen Fukuoji-cho 82, Utamo, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616, Japan

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Dear Franco & Judy & Giona,

RAIN {also dim & chillness} I was just getting ready to answer your letter when the mail man arrived with UNO DI QUELLA / GENTE CONDOR, which looks very beauti�ul — you should be very happy. I hope lots o� people read it. Thanks �or my poem on p. 27 ; now I must make a new one �or you. The cherry blossoms are gorgeous this year, so I’ve been going all over to look at them — Daikakuji, Daigoji Heian Jingu, Maruyama Park, Arashigyama & Ninnaji — & the hillside between here and Ninnaji — also has plum trees & wild azaleas in bloom. The white magnolias — the Chinese call them YU-LAN — were also very good this year, & o� course the camelias were great. The Toji mandalas were very large — nearly 5 metres by 8 metres — & contain hundreds o� �igures & symbols. There are the 2 usual kinds — the MAHĀKARU�ĀGARBHA-MANDALA, with this basic plan with 8-petal lotus with buddhas surrounding DAI-NICHI-NYORAI. In rectangular areas are rows o� bodhisattvas. All this is done in beauti�ul bright colors & gold, so both mandalas look like “oriental” rugs, in a way. The other big one is the VAJRADHATU-MANDALA which has a general plan o� 9 s�uares with circular mandalas in each o� the s�uares. This general design will contain 74 �igures &   /or symbols. One “map” stands �or the contemplative & one �or the active wisdom side. Other, smaller & simpler mandalas show FUDO, surrounded by the other 4 great kings or the 12 great guardian generals in 2 rows o� six each. The drawing is better in the older ones, o� course. I am sending you a book which explains it better than I can do – it’s in French. Love to you all. Phil 19


Dear Franco & Judy & Giona,

Sorry to hear about all the bother & �uss. It’s very hard to get along with people & impossible to get along without them — an insoluble problem. My solution is to spend �uite a lot o� time in solitude — but that isn’t very satis�actory �or any length o� time. I am sitting more than I used to — I get up early — 5:30 —  & do zazen � an hour, walk around 10 minutes & then do another � hour o� zazen. It doesn’t seem to do any good but it doesn’t do any harm, either. I just have to do it ; I’ve done everything else ; now I am old & have accomplished nothing. I keep �ussing around about what to write next — I see it must be something di��erent — then I write it down & it all comes out being more o� the same old stu��. BLECH ! I saw Gaudenz the other day. He said that he had worked himsel� almost sick, but that he had realized it in time to take a month’s vacation — visiting Japan Sea & lots o� country places — so now he is in good shape. Cid & Shizume are tremendously busy getting ready �or their American journey. I went to Kyoto City Museum, Sunday, & looked at big show o� Spanish paintings — Goya & Greco & Velas�uez & lots o� lesser sillier painters & sculptors. There were some very interesting Gothic & Roman remains, & a lovely prehistoric treasure o� big golden bowls & vases & bracelets & jewelry — very interesting to see. I liked a little o� the painting — all o� it strong when it wasn’t very interesting. Try to be as busy as possible with your own work — that’s the only

To *Franco Beltrametti c/o Centro Studi e Iniziative Valle Belice 91028 Partanna (Trapani) Sicilia, Italia From Philip Whalen Fukuoji-cho 82, Utamo, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616 Japan Kyoto 18:���:70

hope, anyway  —  invention & art like Blake said.

will win, Love Phil P.S. Wonder�ul to hear about your new book ! Will look �orward &. P.

(facing page) Carta della R egione del Ginkakuji Franco Beltrametti 31:�:66 20

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21


Jacqueline Cahen

from l’immédiat labile

L’île de nuit doit maintenant être décrite. On n’en perçoit que les abords. Des arbres de haute futaie. Au premier plan les roseaux – phragmites ou typhas – bien que petits sont importants. Ils obscurcissent le rivage sans pourtant faire d’ombre. La nuit n’y est pas définie par l’absence de lumière car il fait jour sur cette île mais par l’absence de soleil. île de nuit n’a pas de couleur ni l’eau qui l’entoure – est-elle douce ou salée ? Seule une frange de sable isabelle la cerne

Mer haute

Marée descendante

Un autre jour est né de la dispersion des ordres élémentaires Après disparition des remous d’eaux grises opaques et salées un ciel immobile s’est installé couvrant des corps bien au-delà de notre vision Du point unique où je me tiens les angles sont nuls et je sais que les vagues n’atteindront plus mes pieds D’une lunaison l’autre l’oubli passe Un frisson notez-en le pourquoi ( L’écume de mer est un bois dit-on mais il me semble que l’on ment) Le ressac vide le sable d’eau Du bruit toujours Pas d’oiseaux Et l’émotion naît d’on ne sait où

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THE ISLAND OF NIGHT must now be described. We perceive only its periphery. Trees in the high forest. To the fore front the reeds — phragmites or typhas — abundant, small as they are they obscure the shoreline. But create no shade. Night, here, is not defined by absence of light, for there is daylight on this island, but by absence of sun. The island of night has no colour, no water surrounding it — fresh water or salt? It is defined only by a fringe of isabella sand.

High tide

English translation: John Greaves

On the ebb

Another day is born from the dispersion of ordinary elements The back-wash of grey opaque and salted waters yields to immobile sky sheltering bodies far beyond our vision From my solitary stand point the angles are void and I know that the waves will no longer come up to my feet From one new moon to the next the forgetting will pass A frisson takes note of the why (Sea foam is a forest they say but I think they are lying) The surf empties the sand of water Always noise No birds And emotion is born from where we know not

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23


POEME D’AMOUR PHYSIQUE Je t’aime

Jacqueline Cahen | l’immédiat labile

J’aime tes reins ta peau ton foie tes boyaux ta couleur tes cheveux ton cou ton foie tes boyaux tes odeurs tes boyaux ta lymphe j’aime ta rate le pylore l’estomac l’aorte l’hypocondre

la jugulaire tous les capillaires la jugulaire ?

j’aime ton épithélium j’aime la base de ton cou j’aime l’annulaire la clavicule et l’os malaire j’aime tes lombes le jarret et la malléole interne la ligne âpre du fémur le petit trochanter le coccyx l’ischion j’aime le mollet et le secret du creux poplité j’aime la douzième vertèbre dorsale et le ligament rotulien mais surtout le ligament de Bertin et le ligament sacro-vertébral J’aime la tempe évidemment les ombres des fosses sous-épineuses et l’excessive douceur de la saignée Ah ! comment résister à la tentation de la saignée

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J’aime l’hélix - pas – sas - orée de l’ouie l’helix ourlé j’aime le vomer cavite sonore d’enfer l’apophyse zygomatique et l’occiput l’oc ci put je sais nager entre les muscles et les nerfs la brasse ou la papillon je dédaigne le sang j’aime nager entre muscles et nerfs - l’envie que j’ai de glisser mes doigts dans les fentes sous-craniennes – effleurer la dure-mère – prévoir la faille – et se distendre les phalanges dans l’entrelacs des neurones – Attraper disjoncter quelques synapses les conduire jusqu’à l’orgasme

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25


Joanne Kyger

from NOT VERACRUZ, A Daybook January-March 2006

February 5, 2006

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE Outside is brighter, the ocean is full of too many surfers, 55 boards in a three inch square in a kind of suffocating mother worship floating in the sea of mercy and love on Sunday

February 6, 2006

NOTHING LIKE Nothing like a good shower to feel good about warm water in cool weather “The Dharma that is taught &the Dharma that is experienced” Ok. What’s the law?

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de PAS A VERACRUZ, Un Journal

Traduction française : Etel Adnan

janvier/mars 2006

MALGRE TOUT

Le 5 février 2006

Dehors il fait plus clair, l’océan est saturé de surfeurs , 55 planches dans dix centimètres carrés une sorte de suffocante adoration de la mère flottant sur des vagues de compassion et d’amour tous les dimanche.

RIEN DE PAREIL Le 6 février 2006

Rien ne vaut une bonne douche pour apprécier l’eau chaude quand il fait frais “Le Dharma qui est enseigné & le Dharma vécu” Okay. Que dit la loi ?

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27


March 21

I really can’t stand the ‘formality’ of ‘intelligence’ Who really ‘cares’ if eucalyptus have the smarts

JOANNE KYGER | Not Veracruz

March 22

“…they decided not to go to civil war” like they decided not to go to the movies or out for dinner or not to go to Philadelphia just not ‘go’ there.

March 31, 2006

A RECORD Thirty one days in the month Twenty six had rain U.S. government radical religion, oil, borrowed money Good morning fragments of last night’s travels in that invisible state called ‘dream’ sneak around with cardboard boxes full of old poetry cold ocean, but few salmon Everything happened anyway but not in Vera Cruz

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Je ne supporte vraiment pas le côté ‘formel’ de ‘l’intelligence’

Le 21 mars

Qui ‘se soucie’ des eucalyptus quand ils souffrent

“… ils ont décidé de ne pas déclencher la guerre civile” comme ils ont décidé de ne pas aller au cinema ou d’aller dîner ou de ne pas aller à Philadelphie

Le 22 mars

surtout ne pas ‘aller’ où que ce soit.

COMPTE – RENDU

Le 31 mars 2006

Trente-et-un jours dans le mois Dont vingt six de pluvieux gouvernement américain religion extrémiste, pétrole, dette extérieure Bonjour des fragments de voyages faits la nuit dernière dans cet état invisible appelé ‘rêve’ se faufilent avec des boîtes de carton remplies de vieux poèmes océan froid , mais peu de saumon De toutes façons tout a eu lieu mais pas à Veracruz

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29


Quick go out, before it rains Several days a week just lay there and read

JOANNE KYGER | Not Veracruz

get guilty over listening to the assurances of the news reporting voices that say we’re acting in the best interests of your security, making you ‘safe’ here with a border just under you that’s totally OPEN looking more like a cradle of the heart to come “What is it that I started a long time ago And how can I get back to that” Walt Whitman said when he came to California Ok, let the winds blow, let the storms come, the real estate fall off the cliffs into the sea banging noisily It’s a test of the authentic unborn, beyond

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Sorties rapides, avant la pluie Plusieurs fois la semaine que s’étendre et lire se culpabiliser d’avoir écouté le ton rassurant des nouvelles qui disent que nous agissons au mieux des intérêts de votre sécurité, vous mettant ‘à l’abri’ ici avec juste au-dessous de chez vous une frontière totalement OUVERTE ressemblant plutôt au berceau du coeur à venir “ Qu’est-ce donc ce que j’avais commencé il y a déjà longtemps Et comment pourrais-je y revenir” se demanda Walt Whitman quand il arriva en Californie Okay, que les vents soufflent, que les tempêtes débarquent que l’immobilier s’effondre dans la mer par-dessus les falaises dans un fracas assourdissant C’est un test de l’authentique non-avenu, au-delà

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31


Norman Lock

from Pieces For Small Orchestra

17. The Hat Check’s door is shut and hung with a funereal wreath concocted of black bands torn from hats e­ ntrusted to her care. The Prime Minister is furious at the ruin of his Borsalino – a gift from a Tuscan courtesan, whom he favored with his custom in the noughts. She shall pay for this outrage to my haberdashery! he fulminates. The Taxidermist, who adores her regardless of malfeasance, calls sotto voce through the door: What is the reason, sweetheart, for your mourning? He scratches at its faux mahogany cham­ fered ­panel with a rabbit’s foot (attached to an entire, if dead, ­rabbit of the Belgian type): Come out and see the present I have brought you. She will not, saying that she grieves for the demise of her dream of a circus to go to in our other­ wise dreary hotel. Dreary? – dreary? – dreary? sputters the General, who is happy here, though often not himself due to intoxicating pleasures both potable and sensual. She continues in her unhappiness to rebuke anyone in earshot, thus: My hopes were raised by the elephants, however inexplicable and even magical their arrival; and they are dashed – my hopes are – now that apathy has seized those who promised us a circus. True, we have been gripped by inertia since waking from the dream of Sumatran orangutans. We have contracted – the Photographer declares – a condition known to Victorians as neurasthenia, or the vapors. I myself am in a slough of despondency difficult to exit, he admits. A circus – the Hat Check shouts through her barricade – will cheer us up! But we are wary of the miraculous appearance of jungle fauna and paraphernalia. (Who can blame us after the debacle of the Anthropologist, who left with no more trace than camel ash and dung?) I, for one, refuse to ­submit to the Bassoonist’s further dreaming! the P. M. says, ­a nnoyed. I woke with a migraine I have yet to shake in spite of a powerful analgesic. I awoke with a thirst for Bombay gin, the General remarks – drinking it in a bumper ordinarily reserved for champagne toasts. It is always so since my days on the Subcontinent, where I was a lieutenant of cadets. The Psychologist – who has not been seen before, because of the euphoria that has been general on every hotel floor (and in the cellars, too, where interesting work on an enchanted lake

32

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has been ­progressing nicely) – coughs to clear his throat, which is, as a rule, phlegmatic: I believe, ladies and gentlemen, that I can create a circus from the repressed longings of the Hat Check if she will let me hook up my new thoughtprojector to her brain, using electrodes, clips, and ordinary tape. It’s quite painless, I assure you, and the experience can be fun. I won’t submit to any crack-brained experiment! the pretty girl says pettishly. (She is pretty, though we cannot at the moment see her through the door.) We are at an impasse then; for without some method of insinuating clowns, lions, bareback riders, a seal or two on beach balls, a cannon and a man to be shot from one, there can be no circus. This is not the worst of it, the Building Inspector, who has been unable to find his way back to the street since discharging his duties in regard of the hotel’s drains and mains, says: The elephants have disappeared. Disappeared? How is it possible for things so large to do so without a by-your-leave? He does not know. (Why should he, when mammals of any size are not his specialty?) And did they vanish without a trace or – I hope not! – leave behind some dung? the P. M. wants to know for public safety’s sake. Not dung – the Building Inspector answers – but pieces of themselves: an ear, a tail, a tusk. How strange! we think. The Hat Check overhears us. (According to the Telepath, she is a perfect medium of the supersensory – a rare conductor of the uncanny.) If we hold a séance, I may be able to tell the whereabouts of the missing elephants. We agree – eager for diversion, even one within the spirit world. The lights go out. We sit together quietly holding hands. The orchestra obliges with Transfigured Night by Schoenberg. Suddenly, we hear a distant trumpeting. The elephants have returned to Ceylon and are bathing in the Bay of Bengal. They are – she assures us – happy there. A reasonable girl, she is content to renew her former after-hours’ pleasures: to dance, to gaze at night at the trompe l'oeil moon, to eat ice cream, and sleep – all thoughts of circuses banished from her head. Thus do we mediate between illusions – inside our hotel where all is fantasy, desire, and shame.

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NORMAN LOCK | Pieces For Small Orchestra

20. Tomorrow, I shall wed the Funambulist, who has resumed her lonely orbiting above our heads – in the hotel’s upperatmosphere, so to speak – aloof from desire, rancor, and the vagaries of the musicians, whose music (when they make it) is to her a rustling of dry leaves, concert programs, and trolley transfers soft and pastel as lingerie (which she some­ times neglects to wear – to the General’s infinite delight, and mine). Will you – I said yesterday from a step-ladder’s topmost rung, while she pedaled a unicycle used by those of her aerial profession – marry me, please? She wobbled uncertainly (the General and Prime Minister gasped!) before regulating her course with the balancing pole she never goes without. I – she began and finished an hour later when her circular peregrination brought her back to me again – will. How is it to be managed? the General asks as the Barman performs an act of effervescence with a siphon bottle and two tumblers. What? I inquire with my eyes, which are cross­ ing sottishly. (We are drinking Scotch and soda.) Cheers! the General says, quaffs, wipes his gray moustache, snuffles, says – love on a high-wire? I would not risk it now that I am old; but in my youth, I would have! (The Funambulist, whom I adore, has sworn never to leave again the air for common ground, having done so only once since her arrival to rescue me from suicide.) No pied à terre for her! the General laughs with endearing bonhomie. I have not considered it, I admit to the old roué. Not? No. Why not? It slipped my mind. The General is aghast. Well, you must – it is essential – the raison d’être and sin qua non of love! (If I could be sure it is I who dream this hotel and what happens in it, I would make out of thin air a house. But I can not, knowing that all may be conjured by others who have fled civilization’s rout.) I shall love her in my mind, I tell him. Pah! The General is disgusted. Then I will learn to walk the wire like her – I say – and make love in midair as swifts and hawks do. The General is indifferent to ornithology, remarking that bliss is achieved easiest in bed, with champagne, dim lights, and a record crooning on the gramophone. Life – he declares – is theater and must, like it, have furniture and properties and music! But she will not come down! I cry, startling the hotel guests arriving with swizzle-sticks, silver fish-forks, and other wedding gifts. The Engineer (master of expediency) presents me, shyly, his: a kind of wristwatch which, when worn, will help me rise to the occasion. It contains a tiny gyro and a patented device designed by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. With it – the Engineer colors crimson – you will achieve the necessary lightness. I am overcome and cannot find words to tell him thanks. In their turn, the General promises a

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jeroboam of Taittinger from Reims; the Photographer, aerial photos in chiaroscuro; the Electrician, romantic lighting of varied hue and lumen. Now all that remains is a musical accompaniment to our union! I exclaim. (The orchestra cannot be counted on – this, we have learned during our days and nights in the hotel.) In answer, the endlessly revolving Funambulist whisks past on her cycle; and we hear how the wind in her hair plays a serenade for strings. Thank you for this dream! I call to her, throwing kisses. Tonight, I will levitate with miniature moons left by the Astronomer in his trunk and adorn your fingers, your ears, and the tips of your breasts. And after tomorrow, I will spend my nights suspended from your lips like a trapeze artist – in despite of gravity and death. 26. In the hotel’s deepest cellar where the lake is, black mostly in that sunless underground (electric moons of every lunar hue and phase can be drawn on almost visible wires to lighten it), the Interior Designer (who once dreamed of a theatrical career like Edward Gordon Craig’s) creates the Nile at the time of the Pharaohs, in particular Cleopatra. His interest, frankly, does not lie (like mine) in her dusky thighs, ebon hair, and clavicles bisected by the straps of two precisely conical housings for the royal breasts. Properties, costumes, and stage furniture, which he combines into a picturesque tableau, excite him only. We are invited to the debut of this rich Ptolemaic fantasy by messengers singing a cappella, formerly employed by Western Union: Gentlemen, please join us for an evening of ancient spectacle and dishabille, starring Cleopatra and an asp – they declaim in recitative more suitable for opera than a pantomime. Our blood is on the boil (that which flows in the men of our hotel) by the prospect even of a counterfeit Cleopatra; and we resolve to attend her, after a dinner of Oysters Rockefeller and champagne cocktails. (O! the never-quite-extinguished fire of men in middle-age.) We go shyly – even the General, who spent a year in Egypt, bivouacked near the pyramid of Cheops, feeling like boys about to kiss girls for the first time or fumble at their breasts. The swan boats and gondolas are not at their usual moorings, replaced by a barge painted ersatz gold (rowed by thirty Nubian oarsmen fabricated by the Engineer), with a throne on which sits Cleopatra and a monkey (emblematic of men’s folly). The monkey is mine! boasts the Taxidermist, who stuffed it. We applaud him for the sake of courtesy, though we do not care overmuch for simians now that we have a nearly naked queen to feast our

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NORMAN LOCK | Pieces For Small Orchestra

eyes upon. The moment is one of high romance! the hotel Plumber, who is not typical, exults – enthralled by Cleopatra’s elbow (reminding him of pipe). The General’s eyes are fastened on her slippers in a way that makes us wonder if, perhaps, he is not a fetishist! Torch flames rock on the lake’s agitated surface like roseate salamanders treading water. (Or are they newts? Regardless, they are beautiful.) Transfixed by them, we find it difficult to tear our eyes away to gaze at Cleopatra, whom we came to see (not these illusory amphibians)! We do look at her at last and are captivated by forms generated by algorithms of desire. (Physically, she is more impressive than all the oarsmen put together.) The orchestra plays a nocturne in the reeds that stick up in the margin of the lake. The water sobs against the hull. Sobs, not flowers, are the language of love – the Florist admits, weep­ ing, as he drops a tribute meant for Cleopatra; caught up by a wave, it floats toward her (tempo: largo). And love, not discretion, is the better part of valor – the General observes with unusual pith. (But what exactly does he mean?) The orchestra leader conducts the moon from out the wings; it is, the moon, a bronze parenthesis. Things are going well! the Decorator states; and we cannot deny it. Next we are treated to an amorous interlude during which the Queen and Marc Anthony dally on the Nile. I am glad that, at the last minute, I decided to attend! the Prime Minister exclaims. (He was in favor of a dance instead, when he might press his pin-striped suit against a lissome body.) This is art of the first water and not the pornography I expected. In a pink spotlight, a girl walks across the beach (stage left to right), carrying a placard on which is written: Cleopatra Dies by Asp. But this is not historically accurate! complains the Plumber. Cleopatra died inside her palace. But we shush him, knowing that art observes a greater truth than realism. She presses the tiny reptile to her bosom, which is lush, and in a moment dies. We are too moved to listen to the Engineer explain how he transformed an ordinary worm-gear into an asp miraculous in movement and detail. He stalks away in high dudgeon while our hearts (riven by tragedy) urge our eyes to tears. The Decorator waits in anticipation of applause, which we must withhold so overcome are we by thespian similitude. The monkey, forgotten, scuttles winningly about us, begging with his little hat for coins. But not for the world would we defile this moment by base trade. Adieu, monkey! Adieu, Cleopatra, who is sailing in her barge toward Osiris and the Underworld – all torches out, all oars shipped, and the mechanical hearts of the rowers stopped. We may never again see such a spectacle as this of Cleopatra and the Asp!

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27. When the orchestra is awake and playing tutti a tune we like, interruptions enrage so that, ordinarily amiable and pacific, we are liable to strike him or her or it that distracts the musicians from their music. Blood has been shed from noses, and vases (even Ming) flung across the room. We would beat our mothers were they foolishly to ask whether we wanted white sauce or raisin on our ham. Imagine then our anger when a subway train appears in the middle of the ballroom where we are dancing! (To be precise, a subway station. We do not see the train halt beneath the dance-floor.) The General, n ­ ibbling happily the dainty ear of the Chanteuse, orders a cavalry charge, forgetting that there are no horses here. Cannon then! Surely, there must be an artillery piece somewhere in the hotel! Dynamite it, the Prime Minister (who lost his office to anarchists) advises. There’s a stick in the pantry next to the Tabasco. The Maître d’ is dashing there when who but the Journalist should be coming up the subway stairs, his battered Underwood pendent at his side! I did not think to see you again in this life, sighs the Manicurist, who has carried a torch ever since his departure from the hotel. He kisses her having, during his sojourn in reality, missed her too. I brought you this – he says, making her a present of a flower, which is dead. (Reality is hard on flowers.) Speechless with surprise, she will press it later in The History of Chocolate, which commenced with the Mayans, who liked it hot and spicy. What brought you back? the Prime Minister inquires. Life outside is all but d — What news of the moon? the General rudely interposes. The Journalist takes off his hat as if in mourning for the moon. Not good, he replies. It pines for starry night, rolling seas, and aromatic firs in whose branches it was wont to rest. What a funny way to talk! the Building Inspector, who believes in vox populi, laughs, though not unkindly. I’ve been reading Shakespeare to it – the sonnets and the plays. The moon is fond of the Elizabethan Age. The present distresses it. Do the partisans torture it? the General demands, his moustache bristling. They starve it, the Journalist replies. You would weep to see the moon now that it is no more than a sliver of its former self! I am appalled! the General rages like Lear did on the roaring heath. But what good’s ire in an old man good for nothing but ballroom dancing! We look away for pity’s sake. The Journalist sits and says, You may be interested to hear how the hotel appears to those outside. Yes, we would! the P. M. affirms. It is something I have wondered about. So have I! I say. Me, too! the Manicurist cries for fear the Journalist has forgotten her now that he is serious (a side of him that does not thrill her like his amorous one). The hotel

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NORMAN LOCK | Pieces For Small Orchestra

moves. Moves? It shifts. It is never in any one place for long. (Proof, perhaps, of String Theory?) And when it’s moving, it blurs – sometimes even disappears. (Just as the Physicist predicted!) It is this that keeps you safe from siege. This and something also inexplicable: the building changes architectural style. When I left, it was rococo. Last time I looked, Art Deco. How bizarre! the Building Inspector remarks. It is sheer luck that I am here at all, though I wished to be. (The Journalist lays his eyes on the Manicurist, who blushes.) How so? the P. M. asks intrigued. The hotel came to rest atop the subway platform at the exact moment my train stopped. The conjunction is accidental and brief. As if on cue, we perceive the unseen train depart by a screech of steel and odor of ozone. The stairs leading down disappear, as we shuttle block by block across the city – up, down, and sideways like a rook in chess – scarcely visible to our enemies, behind the battlements of our hotel.

28. Theoretical science has disturbed the aplomb of the guests, whose insouciance is less now that they know the hotel and all in it are hurtling seemingly to no purpose in two dimensions while vibrating spatially in twenty-six of them. If it were not for my Funambulist wife, who moves overhead like an unswerving planet, I too would feel uncertainty’s rising damp. You are my lodestar, my compass needle, my railroad timetable! I shout to her as she passes. I gaze fondly at her ribboned underpants, recalling my nuptial visit on the high-wire she never leaves, wishing – as I do always – that she would live on the ground like me. But her clay and destiny are different from mine (quite possibly from all others’); and I pay her homage, which she acknowledges by tipping her balancing pole before tottering into the darkness at the end of the wire. Her departure is propitious; for a preposterously chaotic weather pattern at this moment wreaks havoc in the Sahara Room, in which we are eating figs. The camels! the Taxidermist shouts, alarmed (they are tedious to stuff) – too late to save them from a sand spout. The caravansary is also carried off, together with the yoghurt and ­burnooses. Run! the ­General, who was in Arabia with Lawrence, commands – mouth full of sand in spite of his moustache, which ought to have strained it. Now the oasis is under attack – its papier-mâché palms torn to shreds by the burnishing wind! Ours – we learn later – was not the sole meteorological quirk. Snow fell on the Cote d’Azure Room, surprising several nudists. Föhn, familiar on the lee side of the Alps, drove even the h ­ otel’s ebullient to thoughts of suicide. Haze

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invaded the lobby as an African Harmattan scattered folders ­devoted to destinations once in walking distance of the hotel (no longer, now that it moves – d ­ ragging with it cellars and sub­terranean lake because they, like us, are aspects of the same unconscious­ness – whose, we cannot say). Other winds besetting us include a Sudanese Habob, an Andean Pampero, a Kurdistan Reshabar, a Persian Shamal, a Mediterranean Tramontana, and even a south Australian Buster! My Funambulist – by luck, providence, or prowess – outran them all. The Prime Minister, who lost his toupee, denounces the Meteorologist for “gross negligence and malfeasance” in permitting such eccentric conditions to arrive un­announced. The House Detective is sent with a subpoena to the penthouse weather station. The Meteo­rologist is drunk! he reports shortly after. Drunk? To a degree seldom encountered in hotel life where booze, drugs, and sex are la mode. He fed the subpoena to the weather simulator, producing a squall in the hotel’s upper atmosphere, registering 8 on the Beaufort Scale. Observation favors the hypothesis that he had been feeding it the Choreographer’s dance diagrams stolen from his drawer. Only his unconsciousness saved us from the dances beloved by Brazilians: Lambada, Carimbó, Merengue, Forró, and Samba, which were next. That would have been catastrophic! the Engineer agrees. The load-bearing walls are not rated for South American rhythms. The Psychiatrist, tugging at his beard, avers – Neither are the soles of men. (This abysmal pun, even Freud would not have laughed at, though he might have cited it in his Jokes and Their Relation to the Subconscious.) I adore them! the Hairdresser sighs, whose salon is now profiting by the mercurial winds. Men? the General leers. Rhythms of the dithyrambic sort – she says, demonstrating, impromptu, a fandango with her stiletto heels and contempt for the General with her fingers’ castanets. The Journalist comes up the cellar steps as if from out a grave – ashen and shaking. What’s wrong? asks the House Detective, alert more than most to disturbance and unease. Come see, he answers tersely, unwilling or unable to say more. We follow him down the winding metal stairs to the fourth cellar, where the Hydrologist has been digging a Suez Canal. There, as if the water were a bed, bodies are asleep in the feeble light of oil lamps – or dead. Dead, the Journalist answers the unsaid question. The partisans! exclaims the General. The anarchists! cries the Prime Minister. They are victims of the enemies of the moon, the Journalist avows. He opens the mouth of one; and we see, like a communion wafer, a white circle on the tongue left by the assassins of poetry, lunacy, and love. The musicians play “Clair d’lune” and weep, as do we all, for garden nights without moonlight, for the waters of the earth their streetlights all put out.

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NORMAN LOCK | Pieces For Small Orchestra

29. Death has entered the Hotel and with it Realism, a mode contrary to desire as we know it in the work of Gaudí but not of Mies van der Rohe (his towers of glass), which we like but do not wish to live in. Haunted by dreams of Tintoretto’s Susanna at her bath, the Plumber has hanged himself because he cannot have her. The Hat Check counts hats. The Hydrologist abandons his Suez for the study of drainage ditches. The Meteorologist makes rain in a pluviometer the better to measure it. The Manicurist praises the hangnail and torn cuticle. The Journalist writes Wall, in which he renders minutely the surface life there, including the order of Blattaria, or roach. The Photographer prepares a photoessay on beheaded roses to the dismay of the Florist, who remains a Romantic in spite of the dead men in the cellar. The Taxidermist wonders how to make a glass eye cry. War has replaced amour in the General’s memoirs, which he dictates to the Amanuensis, whose calves remind him of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, who was struck mortally through her corsets by an anarchist at the end of an old century. We are afraid, we say one to another in the barroom where we have cloistered ourselves against violence and vulgarity. We are fantasists – the Prime Minister observes – and have no right to escape a dark age such as ours. Well-read in the Moderns, the Barber counters thus: We were once outside and could do nothing to stem the blood-red tide as Yeats called the anarchy then loose upon the world. I, for one, do not wish to drown unless it be for love in a Venetian canal accompanied by an elegiac cello. Fond of rum, the Cellist begins to weep, saying – Would I could be there when you do! But I am hydrophobic! The Prime Minister is unconvinced by the Barber’s glossing. He hopes in this way to lessen his offense, the P. M. thinks. What offense? the Telepathist asks, having learned to read minds at the Institute for Psychical Research. Our desertion, the P. M replies. Desertion? Of humanity, or is it From? Are we not also humanity, though a small and – by many – despiséd part? the Barber orates with rhetorical flourishes, which remind me of spit-curls. I leave them to their wrangle, knowing the issue has no resolution. Soru rahats1z edici ve yap1şkan, sanki Turkish Taffy – says the General, who was an attaché in Istanbul during the abolition of the Sultanate. Genç ve güzel bir k1z1n yan1na uzan1p boş vermekten başka ç1kar yol göremiyorum.* You are my constancy – you, dear General, and my beloved Funambulist! A ­Western Union Messenger steps smartly onto the stage (for * Translation from the Turkish: “The question is vexed and sticky like Turkish Taffy. I see no way out of it but to sleep on it next to a pretty young girl.” How the narrator came by his Turkish is not known. 40

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this is theater after all!). For you, sir – he says, handing me a blue telegram, which rustles pleasantly when I open it. come to me tonight. i shall be crossing the rotunda ceiling at eight. it is time to leave the hotel now that it is not so hospitable to dreaming. your funambulist. I arrive well before the appointed

hour. (One must be punctual for a tryst with someone who is never still.) The Rotunda is dark; but through the windows that pierce it, night seeps, lightening the gloom. No longer willing to abet our insularity since the arrival of the floating dead, the Carpenter has unboarded all the hotel’s windows. In the morning, the guests will confront day and day them; and their fancies will be di­spelled like scraps of paper s­ cattered by a wind-­machine. I’m here, Norman – the Funambulist whispers from her great height above the floor. (Whispers, nevertheless I hear!) Hello, dear! I whisper in return, marveling at the dome’s acoustic properties. I’m ready to go with you, but where? To the moon, she answers. It slipped its bonds inside the trolley-barn while its abductors slept! And as if cued by her, a light slices through the windows that ring the mezzanine – dazzling and unbearable were it not coolly lunar. It powders the Funambulist’s face and those of my friends standing like statues on the mezzanine, at the railing foiled in silver. Come, says my Funambulist wife. I touch the dial of the watch given to me by the Engineer, containing a tiny gyro and a device designed by Count von Zeppelin. With it I have the necessary lightness to ascend. I rise into the arms of my bride, saying adieux to the moonlit figures, which may or may not be real. She lets go her balancing pole, having no further need of it; it floats above the high-wire while – together – she and I go through the roof and on out into the night.

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41


Paul Kahn

from Périple

In the Library There is a rule about making love in a library. He knew there was a rule. There must be a rule. He was determined to find out for himself. He couldn’t read the regulations. They were posted on the wall beside the entrance. There was a door on the outside of the building, a huge heavy door made of metal, with figures carved in the panels. There were many animals – bears, wolves, stags with large racks of horns, boars with curved tusks, a leopard dragging her tail across the snow. The door was open. Inside the door there was a small entryway, and another door covered with worn brown leather. He pushed on the inner door and it swung open, then shut quickly behind him, blocking the outside light. He entered the library. There was a paper held to the wall by four pins. These were the regulations, written in a language he could not understand. There were many people inside the library, sitting on benches, leaning over long tables. Several people were wearing heavy coats. No one was speaking. He had no idea what language they would speak. If they spoke the language written on the paper, he would not understand what they said. He walked down a long corridor with open doors. He could see shelves filled with books through the doorframes. He noticed a room with no shelves. He stopped. The room had nothing on the walls visible from the corridor. There was a single wooden bench beside the far wall. He went inside. He sat down on the bench and looked at the wall he had passed through. Beside the door was a painting. The ­painting was on the wall, it was the wall itself. Two figures were kneeling, crouching on the ground, over a cloth. They were figures of men, facing each other, kneeling on the ground. They were looking at the cloth between then, and one man’s hands were crooked with his palm open, suggesting he had just dropped something on the cloth. He followed the gaze of the figures to the cloth. He recognized the shapes sitting on the cloth. It was the vertebrae of sheep. They gambled for his bones. The phrase was already in his mind. He couldn’t place it, but now it belonged to the

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­ ainting on the wall. He wondered what the man who won p the toss would do with his bones. He was thinking this as he looked at the faces of the two men. Which one is the man who wins the game?, he asked himself. It is an old story. He didn’t know the story, but the person who created the ­painting on the wall knew it. He tried to understand the story by looking into the faces of the men in the painting. If the information was there, he couldn’t understand it. He looked at his watch. He had promised to meet her at half past the hour. That time had passed already and he looked at his watch to see how long it had been. He tried to remember if this was where she had promised to meet him. He reached into his pocket and took out a paper she had written on. Her handwriting was obscure. As he looked at the writing again, the meaning of the words changed. The strokes and curves and dots realigned into a different pattern. He looked at his watch. He rose to his feet and walked quickly out of the room. It occurred to him that he was in the wrong place. He joined the people moving through the corridor. At the end of the corridor he saw a staircase leading down. There was a map on the wall, embossed on a metal plate. It showed three levels. Perhaps he was on the wrong level. The words on the map did not match the words on the paper. He walked to the staircase. The staircase was made of polished bright stone. Despite the polish, the stone was worn near the center of each step. The railing was the color of brass. As he placed his hand on the rail, he felt how cold it was. He ran his hand along the metal rail, as he walked down the steps and his hand became cold. At the bottom of the steps there were cases recessed into the walls, sealed in glass. Through the glass he could see wooden models of buildings and the surrounding landscape, extend­ ing onto paintings on the walls of the cases. They were models of the town, he thought. The old library building was there in each model, but the surrounding buildings and landscape was different in each case. He put his hand against the glass. It was warm. Perhaps the

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Paul Kahn | Périple

lights in the cases were heating the glass, he thought. Suddenly two figures were walking past him. He had not noticed them coming towards him as he looked at the glass cases. He saw two men in large coats, their heads covered in fur-trimmed hats. As they walked past him, he could see their breath. The moisture of their breath condensed in the air and quickly disappeared. They passed him and he heard their footsteps continuing up the stairs. At the end of the corridor there was a café. A man was standing behind the bar in front of a machine. The man was polishing a cup with a white towel. There were glass doors leading to a lawn. Tables were set up inside the glass doors, and more tables were visible outside beneath an awning. There were black metal poles between the tables, each with a wide round cap covering a heating coil. The coils were glowing with a red color that reminded him of burning coal. He looked at the heads of the people sitting at the tables. He didn’t recognize anyone. Some of the women had scarves over their heads. The men were reading small books and newspapers were hanging from the wall on brown wooden rods. He took a newspaper in his hand. He could not read the language written on the paper. The paper was a dark yellow color, and as he raised the page between his fingers he felt it crack and break. The fragments of the paper slowly drifted to the stone floor. He looked through the glass doors at the people sitting outside at the tables under the awning. She was sitting at a table under a glowing heater. She was holding a white cup in one hand. The other hand was holding a cell phone against her ear. He tapped on the glass behind her. As he touched it with his fingers, the glass began to crack. He heard himself calling out her name, though he couldn’t feel the breath in his lungs. But he heard his own voice shouting her name in his ears. The glass cracked and splinted each time he tapped it with his fingers. She continued to talk on the cell phone and occasionally took small sips from the white cup she held in her other hand. He removed his hand from the glass and thought for a moment. What was he doing here? Why was he trying to attract her attention? He reached up with both his hands and ran his fingers through his own hair, pushing the hair behind his ears. Then grasping the sides of his head with both hands, he lifted his head off his body in a smooth motion and held it in front of his chest. There was no resistance as his head came away from his body. He stood motionless for a moment. He felt very light. The object in his hands had no weight at all and his shoulders felt very light. He heard a rustling sound. It reminded him of the sound made by swans when they folded and unfolded their wings.

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She was standing next to him, with her back turned. She was looking out the window of a hotel room. There was a small round metal table in front of the window and her hands were resting on the table. She had wrapped herself in a large blue scarf. The ends of the scarf were gathered with tiny ceramic beads. The beads made a sound as they hit one another. She was motionless but the beads were vibrating. He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her around. He placed his palm against the space between her breasts and ran his fingertips gently over her skin. She began to sing and the sound of her voice blended with the sound of the beads. She brought her hands up to cover his hands as he ran his fingers over her skin. Her hands were large, as large as his hands. They covered his hands and began to guide his motion. He could feel her fingers slipping between his own fingers and guiding the motion of his hands along her skin. He felt their fingers hook together and press against her breast. Then he was moving his hands apart. It was the motion he made when he was swimming, both hands moving outward, pulling the water away from his own chest and pushing it behind him. He felt her body open like a door. He felt her arms behind his shoulders, pulling him forward. He was inside her body. He was warm. He could feel the liquid from her body running down the insides of his legs. He could feel the books on the shelves moving. They were resting on a bed on the floor, and the walls were covered with shelves. The shelves were filled with boxes of papers, large bound volumes, metal tins with paper labels glued to their sides. There was a low table beside the bed made from transparent glass. In each leg of the table he knew there was a silver hand or foot, visible through the glass. The hands had bright rings with jewels on each finger. The ankles of the feet were covered with bracelets made of rope and metal. He tried to move his head, to shake it so that he could feel the hair move against his ears. Nothing happened. He didn’t want to move. He was inside her and he could sense that she was sleeping. It had taken so long to get here, he thought. He had not asked her about the rules. He realized he had always wanted to reach through the glass and touch the things on display. He couldn’t hear anything moving. I will find out soon enough, he thought.

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45


Marie-Noëlle Fontan at Bibracte Paul Kahn

One of the pleasures of being an American ­living in France is confronting time. Each culture has its own version of the past that leads irrevocably to the present. In France, the past is manifest in an enormous number of physical monuments identified with periods of time. People have lived in France and left some physical record of their lives for tens of thousands of years. There is nothing remarkable in that – the same sentence could be written about most places on earth. But France offers a unique mixture of opportunity and cultural imperative. Following the cultural revolutions of the nineteenth century, each new French state set about preserving what had been destroyed but not entirely demolished. Inventing Bibracte The region of Burgundy is rich in monasteries and churches, the oldest surviving examples created 1000 years ago in a period now called Romanesque. Beneath this, in the chronological sense, is the Gallo-Roman layer, a Celtic culture aligned with the Roman world, another 1000 years older. A specific historic event markes the transition from the native culture the Romans called Gauls — a Celtic culture out of history that left no great physical monuments — to the culture called GalloRoman, with towns defined by roads, gates, temples and public works. In June of 52 B.C. the military force led by Julius Caesar, an army of Roman troops and tribal allies, completed a campaign against an alliance of tribes let by Vercingetorix. The Roman victory was recorded by the winning general in his native Latin in Commentarii de Bello Gallico, a text that became a primer for Latin students in what we now think of as the recent past, the 19th and

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20th century world of “classical” education. Among the places mentioned in Caesar’s text are Alesia, where the Gaul forces were defeated, and ­Bibracte, their capitol which the ­Romans occu­pied. As Caesar famously wrote “he himself determined to winter at Bibracte” and perhaps it was there that he wrote or dictated the book that every Latin student has been forced to read ever since. The identification with the Roman world among the people of the region eroded in the Christian centuries that followed. The king­ doms that rose and fell around Burgundy counted Charlemagne and his descendants as their ancestors. For centuries, the French sense of time started in Biblical geography, leaped to the Roman world, never tired of disputes concerning the location of Mary ­Magdalene’s relics, and ended in the present, removing any profound interest in what lay beneath the ground under the ruins of villas, aqueducts and churches. The rebirth of the Gauls as a symbol of the French past is a recent layer, dating from the mid-19th century. The forces of nationalism in the Second Empire needed a symbol and the Gauls, though pre-Christian and famously defeated by the Romans, were reborn in the image of fierce warrior-ancestors, ready to take on the Huns of the North. In the same decades when an interest in carvings on the cave walls of the Dordogne valley was giving birth to the concept of pre-history, the young science of archaeology identified a hilltop near the village of Alise-Sainte-­Reine as the site of the battle of Alesia. In 1865, ­Emperor N ­ apoleon III had the site crowned with a statue of Vercingetorix sculpted by Aimé Millet on a base designed by ViolletLe-Duc, the architect who re-created G ­ othic

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France. Vercingetorix is standing 7 m ­ eters (30 feet) tall, his hand on his sword. But the location and nature of Vercingetorix’s capital was not so clear. According to Roman accounts, the town of Bibracte was abandoned within a generation following the conquest. The Celts had built their town on an igneous plateau, about 550 meters (1800 feet) above the river valley, surrounded by fortified walls. The Romans built their towns along ­rivers where they could make their roads. The population of Bibracte was removed to the new Roman town of Augustodunum along the river Arroux, now the modern city of Autun. Bibracte disappeared from all records for 1800 years. Then during the same period of Gothic Revival when Vercingetorix’s image appeared on the hilltop, two men “invented” Bibracte. In the 1860s Jacques-Gabriel Bulliot, a wine merchant in Autun, identified Mount ­Beuvray as the site. Bulliot then devoted the next forty years of his life to finding and cataloging ­objects at the site. Joseph Déchelette, his ­nephew, continued the work and wrote the first major manual of pre-historical, Celtic and Gallo-Roman archaeology. But work stopped after Déchelette’s early death in the cultural suicide of World War I. Seventy years later, François Mitterand was Président de la République. In the 1950s Mitterand had been mayor of nearby ­Château­Chinon, and in the Orwell year of 1984 he declared the top of Mount Beuvray, now ­ ­located in the Morvain Natural Park on the border ­between two administrative depart­ ments, a national monument. Contemporary archaeo­logy of the site began in the 1990s, under European Union sponsorship. Unlike most archeological sites in France, which are

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c­ ontrolled ­either by the State or l­ ocal ­Regions, Bibracte is a Euro­pean site with excavations carried out by university teams from many parts of Europe, north and south, east and west. The range of languages spoken by the students who sift through the soil each ­summer may resemble the cacophany of ­languages spoken by ­traders at the town markets several thousand years before. The museum on the site, the Musée de la civilisation celtique, is an inspired and ­inspiring example of contemporary architecture fitting both its function and its environment. The building stretches along the area below the outer fortification wall, where the modern road crests the mountain and winds

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Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

down on either side to villages below. PierreLouis Faloci designed a long three-story structure built into the hillside, with levels connected by steps both inside and outside the stone and glass walls. Light enters on both sides with clear views of the forest and nearby hills. The overall shape of the space echoes the excavations on the site above, where the earth has been opened in rectangular trenches covered by temporary roofs. The permanent exhibition tells the story of a Neolithic civilization that covered an area from the Danube to the Atlantic and moved trade goods of forged iron, pottery, woven cloth, and slaves from Iberia to the North Sea coast. The Art of Marie-Nöelle Fontan From March through June 2006, an exhibition of Marie-Noëlle Fontan’s art shared space with models of Celtic towns, the statues of household gods, metal ornaments and explanations of pottery and weaving. To discover her sculpture for the first time in such as setting was a revelation. What Fontan does can be classified as “fiber art” because her primary technique is weaving. Previous major exhibitions at the Musée de la Chemiserie (Argen­ ton-sur‑­ Creuse), Musée de Charlieu and ­Palazzo Opesso (Chieri, Italy) have emphasized this aspect of her work. Her art has the flexibility of fabric. But the materials woven together with flax, cotton and copper thread are largely plant materials: twigs, stalks, moss, leaves, and seeds, as well as metal filaments. The pieces are all shapes and sizes. They hang in the air or rest against walls, are pressed ­within frames, rest on stands, and wind along the floor. Many of the pieces in the exhibition were made from the forest materials of Mount Beuvray. The eye recognizes hundreds of nut cases, dozens of bark, moss and twig fragments, arranged in chromatic patterns. I thought of the nature démiurge insect collection of Jacques Kerchache, that vast range of beetles, scorpions, mantis, and moths impeccably mounted and arranged in chromatic rainbows. But that delicate and obsessive arrangement of pinned creatures, while

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it reveals a vast beauty of natural form, is not the same form of expression we find in Fontan. She selects and arranges plant materials. Yet the same principle of camouflage and formal transformation we see in the color and shape of forest insects appears in her wall hangings. That arrangement of twigs, lichen, and ­fabric invokes the physics of the insect world as much as it does the plant materials from which it is composed. The spine, whether vertebrate or invertebrate, is an organizing principal shared by all compositions alert to gravity. Fontan’s compositions — hanging, twisting, draping, and resting — are alert. The presentation of this work in a museum that features “experimental archeology” — the reconstruction of furniture, woven cloth, and tools from daily life, based on excavated ­traces and fragments made from plant materials that have long since returned to earth — presents an illuminating setting for Fontan’s art. Fixed by the loom, we see the colors and forms of fragile plant materials. Her palatte is quite literally these ephemeral colors and textures. The regular geometry of the threads attaches the chaos of spines thrust from the seed cases. How can the mind separate our visual ­response to the materials from the sculptural form of the work itself? We are not so distracted by the specific type of paint Rothko chose to make his colors from because we expect to care ­nothing about its chemistry or origin. In Fontan’s art the material is a major factor, ­familiar yet strange, recognizable but not so easy to place. While some of the work shown at Bibracte was made from local materials, Fontan’s materials are also drawn from Central America, where she lived for over a decade, as well as the urban parks and other parts of the French countryside. There is a harmony with aspects of The Ephemeral Is Eternal, Wolfgang Laib’s retro­ spective presented at Fondation Beyeler (­Basel) earlier this year. Among Laib’s ­major s­ culptures are Pollen, composed of grains gathered from hazelnut trees and dandelion plants. These works are re-created for each exhi­bition. As Laib explains, the color that glows before the

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View from the Musée de la civilisation celtique, Mount Beuvray; photo: Paul Kahn

human eye when millions of grains of pollen are arranged in enormous rectangles or conical piles is not a color he could mix. The same could be said of Fontan’s palette, which relies on the color of things themselves. It is a color revealed by the meticulous acts of gathering, accumulating and presenting. The sculptural form of Laib’s work ­focuses entirely on the geometry of religious ritual. In contrast to this approach, Fontan is neither intention­ally ephemeral nor specifically religious. Her work will not disappear tomorrow, though it is not clear how long it will last. As I watched the woven vegetable paths move in the wind outside the walls of the m ­ useum at Bibracte, it was clear that the process of weaving seeds from the surrounding forest into art would not prevent them from returning to the soil again. Her formal reference is not ­human ritual. Her vegetable cloth is not made be worn. Her ­garden paths are not ­designed to be walked on.

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It is difficult to capture the scale and threedimensional nature of Fontan’s art in photographs. They are small and they are large. One wants to see the whole piece and the ­detail, the surface and the depth of texture. Some work is translucent, some opaque. A focus on the surface obscures its depth. Many are multiple woven pieces composed of many individual items, themselves arranged in groups. In harmony with the architecture of the site, Fontan’s installation penetrates the transparent walls and links the inside and the outside of the space, bringing the forest in and returning it beyond the glass. Hanging from stone and concrete walls exposed to the forest wind, the hanging gardens are as ephemeral and persistent as the woods that will absorb them.

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Marie-Noëlle Fontan à Bibracte Traduction française : Alba Escalón

Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

Un de mes grands plaisirs en tant qu’américain vivant en France est de prendre conscience du temps. Chaque culture a sa propre vision du passé menant irrévocablement au présent. En France, le passé se manifeste à travers un grand nombre de monuments de différentes époques. Les peuples qui ont vécu depuis des dizaines de milliers d’années sur le territoire français ont laissé des traces matérielles. Il n’y a rien d’étonnant à cela, et l’on pourrait en dire autant pour la plupart des régions du monde. Mais la France offre un mélange unique de possibilités et d’impératifs culturels. Tout au long des différentes révolutions culturelles du XIXe siècle, chaque nouveau pouvoir politique a affiché une volonté de préserver ce qui n’avait pas été totalement détruit. « L’invention » de Bibracte La Bourgogne est une région qui compte dans son patrimoine bon nombre de monastères et d’églises, les plus anciennes ayant été construites il y a plus de mille ans, durant la période dite de l’Art Roman. Avant cette période, plus de mille ans auparavant, se trouve la strate gallo-romaine, une culture celtique contemporaine du monde romain. La transition des Celtes — que les Romains appelaient Gaulois, culture hors de l’histoire qui n’a pas laissé de monuments importants — vers les gallo-romains, avec leurs villes structurées par des rues, des portes, des temples et des aménagements urbains, est attribuée à un événement historique spécifique. En juin de l’an 52 avant J.C., les armées romaines soutenues par des tribus alliées, conduites par Jules César, accomplissaient une campagne contre un regroupement de tribus, dirigé par Vercingétorix. La victoire romaine fut consignée par le chef des vainqueurs dans sa langue natale, dans Comentarii de Bello Gallico, un texte qui devint incontournable pour les étudiants en

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latin d’une époque ultérieure que nous percevons aujourd'hui comme un passé récent. Parmi les lieux mentionnés dans le texte, on trouve Alésia, où les forces gauloises furent battues, et Bibracte, leur capitale, occupée par les Romains. Selon la fameuse citation de ­César « il décida lui-même de passer l’hiver à Bibracte » et peut-être était-il à Bibracte même, lorsqu’il écrivit le livre que chaque élève en latin est forcé de lire. L’identification des gens au monde ­romain diminua au cours des siècles chrétiens qui suivirent. Les royaumes qui se développèrent et disparurent autour de la région de Bourgogne ont considéré Charlemagne et ses descendants comme leurs ancêtres. Durant des ­siècles, la conception française du temps historique passa de la géographie biblique au monde romain. Sans jamais se lasser des disputes concernant, par exemple, le véritable emplacement des reliques de Marie-Madeleine, on arrivait au temps présent, sans jamais se préoccuper de ce qui gisait sous la terre, sous les ruines des villas, des aqueducs et des églises. La mise en valeur des Gaulois en tant que symbole du passé français est un phénomène récent, ­datant du milieu du XIXe siècle. Les forces natio­nalistes du Second Empire avaient b ­ esoin d’un symbole fort, et les Gaulois, bien que préchrétiens et marqués par leur défaite contre les R ­ omains, ont été repris comme l’image des terribles guerriers ancestraux, prêts à combattre les Huns venant du nord. Puis, dans la même ­décennie, alors qu’un intérêt grandissant pour les gravures pariétales des grottes de la vallée de la Dordogne donnait naissance au concept de Préhistoire, une colline, près du village d'Alise-Sainte-Reine, fut identifiée comme le site de la bataille d’Alésia par la naissante science archéologique. En 1865, l’empereur Napoléon III honora l’emplacement par une statue de Vercingétorix sculptée par Aimé

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"Mélèze-musique"(2005) 4 pièces de 48 cm x 25 cm; photo: Guillermo Escalón

Millet sur un socle dessiné par Viollet-LeDuc, l’architecte qui avait redonné naissance à l’art gothique en France. On voit un Vercingétorix de sept mètres, la main sur son épée. Mais le lieu et la nature de la capitale de Vercingétorix n’étaient pas si clairs. D’après les documents romains, la ville de Bibracte fut abandonnée en moins d’une génération après sa conquête. Les Celtes construisirent une ville entourée de fortifications sur un plateau igné, à quelque 550 mètres au-dessus de la vallée. Les Romains établirent leurs villages le long des rivières navigables. La population de Bibracte fut transférée vers le nouveau village romain d'Augustodunum située au bord de la rivière Arroux, l’actuelle ville d’Autun. Bibracte disparut de tous les registres pendant mille huit cents ans. Puis, au moment du renouveau de l’art gothique, et que l’image de Vercingétorix apparaissait en haut de la colline, deux hommes « inventèrent » Bibracte. Dans les années 1860, Jacques-Gabriel Bulliot, un marchand de vin d’Autun, identifia le « Mont Beuvray » comme étant le site. Il consacra dès lors quarante années de sa vie à trouver et à cataloguer des objets du lieu. J­oseph Déchelette son neveu, continua le travail et écrivit ce qui fut le premier grand manuel ­d’­archéologie

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préhistorique, celtique et gallo-romaine. Mais les recherches cessèrent après la mort de ­Déchelette, dans le suicide culturel de la première guerre mondiale. Soixante-dix ans plus tard, François ­Mitterrand devenait Président de la Répu­ blique. Dans les années 50, Mitterrand avait été maire de la commune voisine de ChâteauChinon, et lors de l’année orwellienne de 1984, il avait déclaré « monument national » le mont Beuvray, aujourd’hui situé dans le parc naturel régional du Morvan, à la frontière de deux départements. Les travaux archéologiques contemporains du site commencèrent en 1990, sous le patronage de l’Union Européenne. Á la différence de la plupart des sites archéo­ logiques de France, contrôlés par l’État ou par les régions, Bibracte est un site européen dont les fouilles sont dirigées par des équipes universitaires venant des quatre coins d’Europe. La diversité des langues parlées par les étudiants qui fouillent le sol chaque été évoque la cacophonie des différentes langues régionales parlées par les commerçants dans les marchés quelques milliers d’années a­ uparavant. Le musée de la civilisation celtique construit sur le site est un très bel ­exemple

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Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

d’architecture contemporaine, conciliant parfaitement fonctionnalité et accord avec l’environnement. L’édifice couvre une zone en contrebas des remparts, à partir de laquelle la route actuelle serpente en descendant de la montagne vers les villages. Pierre-Louis ­Faloci, a imaginé une structure de trois étages qui s’intègre aux flancs de la colline et dont les niveaux sont reliés par des marches à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur des murs de pierre et de verre. La lumière pénètre abondamment des deux côtés par des verrières qui laissent voir la forêt et les collines environnantes. La forme générale de l’espace intérieur évoque les tranchées rectangulaires des fouilles, protégées par des toits provisoires. L’exposition permanente du musée retrace l’histoire d’une civilisation néolithique allant du Danube jusqu’à l’océan Atlantique qui échangeait des outils en fer, de la poterie, des habits de laine et des esclaves de la Péninsule Ibérique vers la Mer du Nord. L’Art de Marie-Noëlle Fontan De mars à septembre 2006, l’exposition de Marie-Noëlle Fontan partage les lieux avec des maquettes de villages celtes, des statues de dieux protecteurs, des bijoux en métal et des explications sur la poterie et le tissage. Découvrir son sens de la sculpture pour la première fois dans un tel décor fut une révélation. Le travail de Fontan peut être considéré comme ­« art de la fibre » car sa technique de base est le tissage. Ses expositions précédentes, au musée de la Chemiserie (Argenton-sur-Creuse), au ­musée de Charlieu et au Palazzo Opesso (Chieri, Italie) ont souligné cet aspect-là de son œuvre. Son art a la flexibilité du tissu, mais les matériaux tissés avec du lin, du coton et du fil de cuivre sont pour la plupart des plantes : brindilles, tiges, mousses, feuilles et graines. Les pièces, aux formes et aux tailles différentes, sont suspendues dans l’espace, accrochées au mur, enca­ drées ou posées à même le sol. Beaucoup de pièces de l’exposition ont été faites à partir de matériaux originaires du Mont Beuvray. L’œil du visiteur reconnaîtra des centaines de châtaignes, des douzaines d’écorces, de mousses et de brindilles disposées chromatiquement.

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Tout cela m’a fait penser à la collection d’insectes de Jacques Kerchache, véritable démiurge de la nature, avec ses vastes rangées de scarabées, de scorpions, de mantes religieuses, de papillons de nuit, impeccablement disposés en arcs-en-ciel chromatiques. Mais l’agencement délicat et obsessif de ces créatures épinglées, même s’il révèle la ­grande beauté des formes naturelles, n’est pas la même forme d’expression que l’on trouve chez ­Marie-Noëlle, dont les tableaux tissés évoquent pourtant le même principe du camouflage et de transformation des formes. L’arrangement des brindilles, des lichens et des fils évoque autant les lois physiques du monde des insectes que celle du monde des plantes. L’épine dorsale des êtres vivants est un principe structurel partagé par tout organisme alerté à la force de gravité. Les compositions de Marie-Noëlle, suspendues, entortillées, enroulées, étalées, sont des compositions en alerte. La présentation de ce travail dans un ­musée dédié à l’ « archéologie expérimentale » - la reconstruction du mobilier, des vêtements tissés et des outils de la vie quotidienne faits à partir des fragments d’origine végétale ­depuis longtemps ensevelis – constitue un décor idéal pour l’œuvre de Fontan. Sa palette est composée littéralement de couleurs et de textures des plantes fixées par le métier à tisser. La géométrie régulière des fils s’oppose aux chaos des épines et des gousses. Comment l’esprit peut-il séparer notre perception des détails de celle de la forme sculpturale de l’œuvre elle-même ? Dans le cas de Rothko nous ne sommes pas distraits par la ­nature des couleurs utilisées par le peintre, nous ne sommes pas concernés par leur chimie ni par leurs origines. Dans l’art de F ­ ontan, la nature des matériaux est un facteur majeur, familier et étrange à la fois, identifiable mais difficile à situer. Même si beaucoup de ses œuvres exposées à Bibracte ont été réalisées avec des matériaux des environs, d’autres éléments peuvent venir aussi d’Amérique Centrale — où Fontan séjourna pendant plus d’une décennie — aussi bien que des parcs et des forêts de France.

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Detail of "Mélèze-musique"(2005) 4 pièces de 48 cm x 25 cm; photo: Guillermo Escalón

On trouve une harmonie avec certains ­aspects de L’éphémère est éternel — exposition rétrospective de Wolfgang Laib présentée à la Fondation Beyeler (Bâle) début 2006. Parmi les plus importantes sculptures de Laib se trouve Pollen, composée à partir de grains de pollen provenant des noisetiers et des pissenlits. Ces œuvres sont recrées à chaque nouvelle exposition. Comme Laib l’explique lui-même, la couleur qui brille devant l’œil humain quand des millions de grains de pollen sont disposés en énormes piles coniques ou rectangulaires n’est pas une couleur qu’il pourrait obtenir à partir de mélanges. On peut en dire autant de la palette de Fontan, ses couleurs sont les couleurs des choses elles-mêmes. Ce sont des couleurs obtenues par des actes méti­culeux de rassemblement, accumulation et disposition. La forme sculpturale du travail de Laib est centrée sur la géométrie du rituel reli­gieux ; chez Fontan, par contre, nulle inten­tion de « faire » éphémère ou religieux. Son travail ne disparaîtra pas demain, mais nous ne sommes pas certains de sa durée. Quand je regardais son chemin tissé se balancer au vent à l’extérieur du musée de Bibracte, il était clair pour

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moi que tisser des graines provenant de la forêt environnante ne les empêcherait pas de revenir sur ce même sol. Sa référence formelle n’est pas un rituel humain : son tissu végétal n’est pas fait pour être porté, ces chemins fleuris ne sont pas faits pour êtres parcourus en marchant. Il est difficile de capturer, dans les photographies, l’échelle de grandeur et la nature tridimensionnelle de ses œuvres. Elles sont petites et grandes, on veut voir la pièce entière en même temps que le détail, la surface en même temps que la profondeur des textures. Quelques pièces sont translucides, d’autres sont opaques. Faire le point sur la surface en obscur­ cit la profondeur. Beaucoup sont des pièces composées de tissages multiples, arrangés en ensembles. En harmonie avec l’architecture du site, les installations de Fontan pénètrent la transparence des murs et relient l’intérieur et l’exté­ rieur de l’espace, y transportant la forêt et la renvoyant au-delà des vitres. Accrochés à la pierre et au béton, exposés au vent de la forêt, ces jardins suspendus sont aussi éphémères et persistants que les bois qui les engloutiront.

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Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

Published Sources / Sources bibliographiques Nota, Silvana: Trame d’Autore, Marie Noëlle Fontan, La natura tessuta, incontri mono­ grafici d’artista 4, Turino, 2003.

Kerchache, Jacques: nature démiurge, ­insectes, Fondation Cartier pour l’art ­contemporain et Actes Sud, 2000.

Végétaux tissés de Marie-Noëlle Fontan, Musée de la Chemiserie et de l’Élégance ­masculine, Argenton-sur-Creuse, 2005.

Marie-Noëlle Fontan – Tissage – Art Textile www.marie-noelle-fontan.com

Laib, Wolfgang: Das Vergängliche ist das Ewige / The Ephemeral Is Eternal, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostifildern-Ruit, 2005.

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Parc archéologique gaulois – Bibracte en ­bourgogne (Mont Beuvray – Morvan – ­Bourgogne) www.bibracte.fr

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Left and above: Detail of “chemin d’herbes” (1999-2006) 38 m x 45 cm, “Les épis”(2005) diameter 80 cm; photo: Paul Kahn

Details of “mosaïque végétale” (2001) 10 pièces de 300 cm x 30 cm; photo: Paul Kahn

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Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

Detail of “Hêtres et mousses du Beuvray”(2005) 3 pieces, 94 cm x 34 cm each; photo: Guillermo Escalón

Detail of “Châtaigniers” (2005) 9 pieces, 175 cm x 18 cm each; photo: Guillermo Escalón

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Detail of “Gui” (2005) 30 cm x 20 cm; photo: Guillermo Escalón

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Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

Detail of “Lichen de pommier” (2005) 110 cm x 50 cm; photo: Guillermo Escalón

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Detail of “Chêne” (2005) 120 cm x 40 cm; photo: Guillermo Escalón

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Paul Kahn | Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

Detail of “Châtaigniers” (2005) 9 pieces, 175 cm x 18 cm each; photo: Guillermo Escalón

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New Orleans Do You Know What It Means?

The Sound of Distant Thunder The news reached Dharamsala that Hurricane Katrina had attained maximum strength and was heading across the Gulf of Mexico on a direct path toward New Orleans. As Katrina approached the city, twenty Tibetan monks came together, here, on the other side of the world, to offer puja for the threatened city and its people. I was in India with the Louisiana Himalaya Association, a group from New Orleans that works with Tibetan refugees*. The monks, friends of the LHA, came to the group’s center to express their compassion for and solidarity with those of us from New Orleans. We sat in a large circle, with the five of us from New Orleans at the front of the room. A number of the students from the English class I was teaching were there. My monk friend Tsering led the chanting, which seemed to me the most beautiful I had ever heard: soothingly hypnotic and calming yet at the same time power­­fully moving and uplifting. It continued for an hour. What­ever destruction through wind or tides the massive storm was to bring, our anxieties were soothed as we were immersed in waves of compassion and care. By the evening we heard that the hurricane had turned slightly and was passing a little to the east of the city, saving it from the most dangerous winds. We breathed a collective sigh of relief. ­Apparently the puja had worked! Once again, as for so many times over the past forty years, our city had been saved from disaster at the last moment. Or so we thought, until the next day’s news revealed what Katrina had actually brought to ­

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John Clark

* See www.lhainfo.org

My friend Tsering turning a prayer wheel.

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John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

New Orleans. Over the next few days the horrifying tragedy unfolded. We watched the reports in disbelief, as did much of the world, astounded that the world’s richest and most powerful empire could abandon one of its most historic cities to suffering, death and desperation for days on end. Four-fifths of the city was underwater. Bodies floated in filthy, toxic water. Thousands cried desperately for help, stranded on housetops without food, water or medicine. At the city’s hopelessly inadequate shelters tens of thousands suffered in sweltering misery as elderly people died in their wheelchairs, overcome by the heat, the stress, and perhaps the despair. Desperate citizens searched for food and water in the stores that had not been inundated. Some went on rampages of looting, carrying away the treasures of ­con­sumer society to a ravaged environment in which most of the stuff would be useless. Huge quantities of drugs, alcohol and firearms were plundered. Fights, shootings, arson and vandalism broke out. The police responded with repression, violence, brutality and occasional looting of their own. Mass arrests were made on the flimsiest of pretexts. Amid the breakdown of all institutions there was one civic initiative: a makeshift prison was set up at the bus and train station and its squalid wire cages with cement floors were q ­ uickly ­packed with prisoners. Guantanamo at the Greyhound ­Station. We were later to discover that well over a thousand lives were lost in the New Orleans area that day. The equivalent of fifty years of destruction of the surrounding wetlands, the city’s major protection from storm surges, had taken place in a few hours. Dozens of neighborhoods with many gene­rations of rich history and cherished traditions were lost in a single day. Several million people in the region were dis­placed. Hundreds of thousands from the city itself were fated to remain scattered for the next year, facing an un­certain future. Fundamentalists gloated that God had finally destroyed a corrupt city of sin, home to a carnivalesque culture of licentious hedonism, to saint-worshiping Catholic ­idolaters and heathen voodoo practitioners, and to every form of sexual perversion, as epitomized by the city’s ­a nnual “Southern Decadence” celebration. The irony that the devas­tation was greatest in quiet residential neighborhoods, while the notorious French Quarter survived almost entirely unscathed, was lost on these apostles of divine retribution. In fact, whether or not an angry God fanned the furious winds of Hurricane Katrina, it was not these winds that brought catastrophe to New Orleans. It has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that it was the failure of

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the unsafe, defective levees designed and built with abject incompetence by the United States Army Corps of Engineers that was the immediate cause this disaster. It is also clear that the destruction of 1800 square miles of the state’s protective wetlands, most significantly by the ruinous practices of the oil industry, was its major long-term cause. Given the effects of human negligence, incompetence, injustice and opportunism in creating the Katrina disaster in New ­Orleans, there was little room left for a vindictive God to take any credit.

Touched by Devastation An idea that recurs in all the great wisdom traditions is that the confrontation with death, dissolution, and mortality is often a path (perhaps even a necessary path) to spiritual awakening and metaphysical enlightenment. Western mysti­ cism testifies to the existence of a Dark Night of the Soul in which, says St. John of the Cross, the spirit is purified and stripped of all attachments so that it can unite with God. According to the great German mystic Jacob Boehme, when one is in the depths of anguish, divine love wells up in its midst and leads one to Divinity itself, the groundless Abyss of Nothingness. Similarly for Hegel, the great biographer of Spirit, we must go through the “Night of the World” in order to develop spiritually. We must face death, whether ­l iterally or figu-

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Saint standing amid the rubble in the Lower Ninth Ward.

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John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

* G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit (Miller trans., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 19. ** This is the popular translation of the famous quote from the Genjo Koan. See Dogen,“Actualizing the Fundamental Point” [The Genjo Koan] in Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen (Boston and London: Shambhala, 1999), pp. 35-39.

The residents of the Upper Ninth Ward painted this message in an intersection: “FOOD + WATER ?”

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ratively, fully experiencing the contingency of all things, including our own fragile existence. “The life of Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it. It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself.” “Spirit,” he says, “is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and tarrying with it.”* All this is strikingly reminiscent of Buddhist practice, which also aims at an acute awareness of the emptiness of all things, including one's very self. It teaches that out of an apprehension of emptiness arises a profound appreciation of the world, a deep feeling of compassion, and dedicated compassionate action. In Dogen’s famous formulation, “To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barriers between one’s self and others.”** It is remarkable how this practice has been integrated into the daily lives of the Tibetan people. An endearing quality of many Tibetans is their calm and often light­hearted view of things; the manner in which they greet the small incidents of life with a smile and even laugh at aspects of life that others might find dismal and depressing. Also im­pressive is the extent to which kindness, consideration, concern for others, and a sense of gratitude pervades the everyday life of so many people. Buddhist compassion is expressed in an everyday ethics of care, and a pervasive spirit of generosity. And what is perhaps most astounding is how in just a few decades a small, once isolated people could have suddenly done so much to communicate this spirituality and ethics to a world in which such values as non-attachment, nonegoism and compassion seem so alien. There are, of course, causal factors. Tibetans have a thousand-year history of meditating on the emptiness of the self, the world and the things that usually weigh us down with all their ­ponderous insubstantiality. Even Tibetan ­humor on the

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deepest level is a kind of ongoing everyday practice of nonattachment coupled with a sense of generosity and sharing. In addition, Tibetan society is not so far from its roots in traditional culture in which local ties, ­familial connections and other intimate bonds are much more important than they are in the rationalized, econo­m ized, mediatized modern culture that we strangely think of as a normal environment for human beings. But none of this seems to explain the Tibetan miracle adequately. It seems to me that it must also be under­stood in relation to the recent trauma of the Tibetan people. They have endured and are still enduring the dark night of their collective soul. They have faced destruction of their­­community on a terrifying scale— twenty percent of the ­population killed, masses of people imprisoned and ­tortured, thousands of monasteries destroyed, much of their cultural heritage of art and artifacts sacked and ruined, and for many, perhaps unending exile. It is impossible not to ask to what extent the trauma of social catastrophe led to a rebirth, to the flowering of the Tibetan spirit. As the Dalai Lama has said, awareness of this connection should in no way lessen our sense of the injustice that has been done or reduce our resolution to help end the immense suffering that still continues. But miracles do come out of tragedy. Reflecting on the fate of Tibet let me pose another question: Might the catastrophe we are now suffering through in New Orleans lead us to a kind of awakening, to a new awakened practice, perhaps to finding a gift of great value that we can give to one another and to the world? One Stanza on Emptiness “Everything is impermanent,” said my friend Tsering as we walked along a road in Dharamsala the day after Katrina. “All things come to an end. Some just end a little more ­quickly than others. Some end sooner than we expect them to. But they are all impermanent.” “All things come to an end.” It goes without saying, one might say. After all, in Buddhist teaching, impermanence is one of the Three Marks of all existence. I had heard the news. Why then would this compassionate monk merci­ lessly beat the dead horse of substantiality? It was just a helpful, and quite necessary, reminder. For sometimes we forget the most obvious things. Ironically, we often forget them precisely when they become most obvious. I was soon to see New Orleans, the city I love deeply, the city in which my family has lived and died for twelve generations, illustrate this simple truth. And it would all seem quite unbelievable. It would be mentally and emotionally unaccep-

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table, as predictable as it certainly was. The mind inevitably seeks escape from harsh realities.

John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

A meeting of volunteers at Leenie’s.

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In the Land of Dreamy Scenes As much as I loved Dharamsala and those around me, I ­yearned to return home as soon as possible. Almost two weeks after the hurricane I had finally ascertained that most of my family was scattered across several states but one of my children, who was later found, was still missing. I ­yearned to be reunited with loved ones, to find out the fate of my home and neighborhood and those of my family and friends, and to get involved in the process of healing and recovery of my community. So I left India, and flew to Toronto, Houston, and finally Lafayette, Louisiana, the closest it was possible for non-military aircraft to get to New Orleans. Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I got a ride into the city. A mandatory evacuation order was still in effect, but we ­managed to get by the roadblocks. I was finally home! I never thought I could use the old Dickensian cliché “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times” in a non­ironic sense, but this is precisely what I felt about New Orleans in the period after Katrina. On the one hand I was surrounded by almost unimaginable devastation. On the other, I saw an outpouring of love and generosity, and a spirit of dedication and cooperation far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Devastation has many dimensions. One might be called the sublime horror of catastrophe. This was caught in some of the news photographs. Images of a vast urban landscape covered with water; of a huge area completely leveled, ­Hiroshima-like, in the Lower Ninth Ward; of large boats sitting in the middle of streets, cars sitting on top of ­houses and houses on top of cars; of large crowds of battered and distraught victims clustered on overpasses and around shelters. But as everyone who has come to the city has repeated, no news photos or video footage has quite captured the awful reality of the devastation. The feeling of overwhelming destruction

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really sets in when one travels through street after street, neighborhood after neighborhood, and sees many thousands of houses and other buildings ruined and deserted. Particularly at dusk or in the weird glare of headlights in the dark of night, one is overtaken by the nauseating and dispiriting feeling evoked by the decomposition, decay, and mortality that pervades the deserted neighborhoods. Another dimension of devastation we might call the intimate world of catastrophe. Its truth is the subjectivity of disaster. Since my own home, though seriously damaged, was not destroyed, I first experienced it in its full force when I visited the ravaged home of my daughter’s family. The experience is reminiscent of a certain kind of nightmare. I am in a place I know but it is horribly transformed into something radically different, something dead. It didn’t register immediately but what I was seeing eventually sank in: it was the corpse of a place. There is rubble everywhere. Around the house everything is brown and grey, the grass, plants, shrubs, and trees. The floor is buckled, all the windowpanes shattered. Objects, scattered everywhere, are broken, twisted, covered with sediment, moldy. The refrigerator is turned on its side and sprawled across a doorway. The c­ lothes dryer rests on top of the washing machine. The yellowbrown waterline cuts across the walls of each room, marking where five feet of water had stood in the house for weeks. The most heart-wrenching experience of all is to see the most personal expressions of the family’s life r­ educed to d ­ ebris. For a family of artists this means sculptures, paintings, drawings, delicate handmade objects, photo­ graphs. On the floor lies sadly a mold-covered chart e­ ntitled “­Brianne’s Ancestors”, a school project of my grand­ daughter. ­Personal history has enveloped personal history. ­Hundreds of thousands of our families have gone through this process of experiencing the death of their homes, the death of their neighborhoods, the death of the places that they loved. If I spent too much time among these ruined homes and ravaged neighborhoods it was difficult to resist the onset of severe, incapacitating melancholy. Meditating on a corpse is one of the most ancient and most useful meditative prac­tices, but we are not meant to dwell in a community of corpses. Yet a confrontation with the reality of mortality can help us return to our living community with a new appre­ ciation of its vitality, and with a new spirit of engagement and compassion. A Street Named Desire The day I returned to New Orleans I heard from my friend

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John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

Leenie Halbert, who had opened up her house in an ­u nflooded part of the city’s Ninth Ward as a center for relief activities. A group of volunteers—a motley, high-­spirited collection of anarchists, greens, activist students and neighborhood ­people—had materialized spontaneously, inspired in part by the Common Ground Collective that had organized a week before in the Algiers neighborhood. By that evening I had moved to Leenie’s and began working with the group. A reporter from the New York daily newspaper Newsday wrote an article about our work at Leenie’s. He entitled it “On a Street Named Desire”, for our little collective was indeed located on the street famed for its streetcar of bygone days. It is also known as the site of one of the city’s largest and most historic, but also most blighted and crime-plagued housing developments. It is called, with inadvertent irony and pathos, “the Desire Project”. We were undertaking a kind of Desire Project o ­ urselves. From a certain perspective, the cause of our problems today — the deep, underlying social and ecological crises of which the Katrina disaster is a cruel manifestation— is ­desire. And the solution is also desire. There is a kind of desire that consists of hopeless craving for an impossible object. It rises up out of an emptiness of the spirit, a lack that may be imaginary but has a quite material basis far back in the history of our species and our civili­zation and a quite material, tangible effect on us today. It fuels a futile quest to fill up the illusory void. Strange as it seems, we’re running on emptiness. What’s more, we’re running out of control, despite all our illusions of power. This emptiness has powered a long history of domination, despair, cynicism, and rage against reality. But there is also another kind of desire, a desire that seeks to heal divisions, break the chains of illusion, and restore a certain contact with long-obscured or forgotten realities. Sometimes in the trauma of crisis it is reawakened. This was our desire project. It seemed to me that this project was very much in the spirit of the non-attached compassion that, according to Buddhism, arises out of the awareness of emptiness. In New Orleans this compassion is now widely known as “Solidarity not Charity,” the motto of the Common Ground Collective. In fact this is an almost exact synonym for “non-attached compassion” — for what is “charity” other than compassion distorted by condescension and ego-attachment? The Newsday reporter said that for the first time in his life he had met a group of “communitarian anarchists, people who believe in do-it-yourself action within small groups”, and who wanted to “feed the hungry and bring

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­ ater to the thirsty, to fix the broken homes of [the] neiw ghbors and to offer a sense of community in their deserted streets”. He was willing to concede that “whatever Leenie and her friends called themselves and whatever they believed, though, they were doing a good thing.” As Leenie herself explained it, “I just wanted to bring love back to my neighborhood”. * What our little group tried to do on a very small scale for a short time has been carried out on a large scale and for the long-term by our original inspiration, the Common Ground Collective.** The Groundless Ground of Compassion Common Ground began in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans one week after Hurricane Katrina, when, according to a now legendary account, three friends sitting around a kitchen table, with nothing but a cell phone, $50 and their own energy and vision to work with, decided to take direct action to save the community. In its brief nine months of existence over eight thousand volunteers have participated in Common Ground’s projects and its aid programs have helped 80,000 people. Volunteers have ranged from students who have come for a week at Thanksgiving or Spring break to long-term relief workers who have stayed for months or moved to the city more or less permanently to act as program coordinators. The organization now has projects in a number of neighbor­hoods, including a large center at St. Mary of the Angels School in the city’s ravaged Ninth Ward. Every classroom in the school building is filled with cots and fivehundred volunteers can be housed there at one time. There are several distribution centers, a media center, a women’s center, and several clinics. Common Ground has ­i nstituted a vast spectrum of projects, including house gutting, roof­tarping, tree removal, a newspaper, community radio, bioremediation, computer classes, childcare co-ops, worker co-ops, eviction defense, prisoner support, after-school and summer programs, and wetlands restoration work. One of the volunteers I met immediately after r­ eturning to the city was Francisco di Santis. Francisco, who calls himself an “embedded artist” and “visual folklorist”,­a­ rrived on September 11, less than two weeks after the hurri­cane. He immediately began talking to survivors, evacuees and volunteers and sketching their portraits. Over the past eight months he has created a collection of over a thousand powerful, stark, dramatic, expressive portraits, and on each of them its subject has written his or her story or dictated it to be written. Francisco’s “Post-Katrina Portrait Project” is

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* Alex Martin, “On a street named Desire”, Newsday (September 26, 2005) ** Information on all aspects of the work of Common Ground can be found at www.commongroundrelief.org

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* See www.postkatrinaportraits.com

John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

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now one of the official projects of Common Ground. Almost 350 pages of images and texts have recently been put on a website and anyone who wants a deeper insight into the experience of the grassroots recovery movement than these few words can begin to convey should explore this material.* Gary Snyder has said that “the truly experienced person delights in the ordinary.” To me, this is exactly what the portraits are about, the miracles in the everyday lives of ordinary people—though in extraordinary times. They are the story of how the shock of awakening can open us up to what the surrealists called “the marvelous” that lies, usually hidden, all around us, in those we meet, within ourselves. A few examples from this wealth of testimony to the miraculous … One volunteer expressed a sentiment repeated by a great many others: that the confrontation with overwhelming disaster might have produced hopelessness and inability to act, but the precise opposite results when one acts as part of a caring community. “What could have become resignation instead sparked a desire, an awesome will to effect change… Surrounded by those who care, I have realized a different future, a hope that can become a reality”. A survivor wrote of the mutuality that develops between residents and volunteers as this caring community emerges. “My eyes have been opened wide to those who come from afar to help us. I see your eyes open to us and our lives”. She also described a new relation among local residents who endured the disaster together. “Once I met a fireman who I helped in a very small way. Both of us with tears in our eyes promised to never forget, never forget, how much we needed each other. I see the hope and promise of a new day”. A volunteer expressed similar ideas. She writes of ­coming to work on the house of an elderly woman and seeing the tears in her eyes. “I sat and listened to her sing her heart song, and we cried together”. The volunteer sees her caring efforts as part of a larger process of restoration and h ­ ealing. “Louisiana sunshine rests cozily on a shoulder. Whole towns sweats through universal pores. It beads and glistens as it slowly begins its descent down the crease of a back or the tip of a sun-burnt nose. It’s wiped away with a dusty finger as its creator labors away at the exhausting endeavor of making this body whole again, so that we all may breathe and laugh and dance and cry, as if New Orleans had never been severed before.” A persistent theme of survivors and volunteers is their new recognition of what is of real value. A survivor who had lost her home told the volunteers, “You know what? It’s a ­relief. I feel free … Sometimes it takes the complete stripping

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of your home or possessions to really see what life’s about”. This echoes the ancient ideal of the bhiksu, whose embarking on a spiritual journey is described as accepting a state of homelessness (pravraja). The idea is that the loss of exclusive attachment to ones home can lead to a larger sense of being at home in the world. The portraits reveal a wide spectrum of experiences and emotions. One extreme is conveyed well by a volunteer who said of first seeing the city: “Emptiness … that’s all my mind could comprehend”. In almost all cases this experience of desolation was followed by one of powerful affirmation. “I see heaven in the eyes of every person I’ve met … I’m going to do everything I can to better my own community, just like we’re doing here. Heaven is everywhere sacrifice for human­ ity takes place”. Another volunteer spoke of “seeing flowers and birds coming back literally and figuratively”. After coming briefly and finding in the relief effort “a lot of authenticity and a model of people being the power”, he left for home. For the next three months he found himself all the while longing to return to a place where “out of deep hurt can come beautiful transformation personally and collectively.” He’s now back for a longer stay.

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Post-Katrina Portraits

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John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

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John Clark | New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

One of the many reasons that the Post-Katrina Portraits are important is that they give an intimate human face to a profound truth. This truth is that out of an openness to the reality of suffering—both one’s own and that of others—can come deep compassion; out of the encounter with the mortality and impermanence of all things can come a deeper love of other human beings, of the community, of the spirit of a place. This is certainly a pleasant thought, but as mere ­mental furniture it has no more than a faint reality. As the living truth of people’s experience it has overpowering, transformative force. The Killing Season Summer is near. The Blue Irises came to south Louisiana in March and April, spreading across the swamps in a magnificent blanket of brilliance. Then they faded away. Things come and go. It’s now nine months since Hurricane Katrina. Most of our fellow citizens remain in exile and there is no largescale, official effort to bring them back. Vast areas of the city remain in ruins, and there are no programs to rebuild them. Even if the repairs and reinforcement of the levees that are underway are completed, they are unlikely to prevent flooding if another storm at the level of Katrina should hit us in the coming months. Should a more powerful storm strike the city directly, the result would be much more catastrophic than anything we have ever seen in the city’s history. The worst case scenario foresees twenty feet of water covering even the highest ground and the city remaining inundated for months. At this time there is no plan to construct levees that would protect us from such a killer storm. Neither are plans being implemented to restore the wetlands that are our first line of defense against a powerful storm surge. As the hurricane season begins this week, one must wonder, will this be the season of our disappearance? Rela­ tively few seem to take seriously such a possibility. In the city, most of the people who are back carry on, some immersed in the cares of everyday life, some busy trying to forget them. And once again we celebrate. The Mardi Gras Indians have marched, the second liners have second lined. The rhythm is back, and so are the blues. Will the harsh light of everydayness blind us to the truths revealed in our dark night of the spirit, or are we at the dawn of a new awakening? 30 May 2006

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Giuseppe Moretti Watersheds of the Mind, 2006. Italian translation by the author and J. Koller. 30 pp. $5

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Translating Gary Snyder French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Italian, Russian, Swedish and Japanese translations, plus brief essays by each translator about what they have to do to make Snyder’s poetry work in their language and culture.

$20 / 20€ www.new-mag.com | 2_ 2006

plus: Willie Alexander Hal Ferguson Norman Fischer Clay Caulkins Lily Bruder Eliot Weinberger JB Bryan Claude Mollard Ted Nelson Grégoire Paultre James Koller Mirtha Dermisache Carrie Noland Edgardo Cozarinksy Florent Fajole Paul Kahn 75


James Koller

from A Lot To Keep In Mind September 2003—February 2005

She stood in the middle of the road, waved, & I waved, until over the hill, we couldn’t see each other. There’s a lot to keep in mind. If you can cross a river when you come to it, you should. Sometimes you can’t help getting wet.

* He owned many horses, no houses. We stood a long time together saying goodbye in the rain. * The moon is in the west. I watch the stars disappear as the sun comes up. After the rain the grass greened. Yellow flowers everywhere. Her prayer flags snap in the breeze. How did you find your way out here? for Philip Whalen

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de Tellement à retenir septembre 2003—février 2005

Elle était au milieu de la route, à faire des signes, et j’ai fait des signes, jusqu’à ce que passé la colline, on ne puisse plus se voir.

Traduction française : Jacqueline Cahen

Il y a tellement à retenir. Si parvenu à une rivère on peut la traverser, il faut le faire. Parfois on ne peut pas ne pas se mouiller. * Il possédait plusieurs chevaux, pas de maisons. Nous sommes restés longtemps ensemble à nous dire au revoir sous la pluie. * La lune est à l’ouest. Je regarde les étoiles disparaître dans le soleil qui monte. L’herbe a verdi après la pluie. Fleurs jaunes partout. Elle a posé des fanions de prières qui claquent dans la brise. Comment as-tu atterri ici?

pour Philip Whalen

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At dusk I find no lights on, the door left open for the dog, who sleeps on her bed. The breakfast dishes are in the sink, a carton of milk warm on the counter. Everything looks to be in order. * JAMES KOLLER | A Lot To Keep In Mind

The wind blew me in. She wants answers now to questions she never asked or thought to ask when she was a girl. Question after question. The wind finds its way under every door. * Watching herself in the mirror she doesn’t see herself, but sees someone looking at her who sees only what she wants to see.

* I looked for you. You weren’t there, weren’t even in the phone book. The old house belongs to someone else. You showed me once black & white photos of your mother & your father, looking as I remembered them long ago. Their ashes were scattered, you said, no place to go back to. Fog blows up & over the mountain road.

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La nuit tombée je ne vois aucune lumière chez elle, la porte est restée ouverte pour le chien, qui dort sur son lit. Vaisselle du petit déjeuner dans l’évier, carton de lait chaud sur le bar. Tout a l’air en ordre. * J’ai fait irruption avec le vent. Elle veut des réponses maintenant aux questions qu’elle n’a jamais posées ou pensé à poser quand elle était petite fille. Questions après questions. Le vent trouve son chemin sous chaque porte. * Elle s’observe dans le miroir et ne s’y voit pas, elle voit quelqu’un qui la regarde qui voit seulement ce qu’elle veut voir.

* Je t’ai cherché. Tu n’étais pas là, tu n’étais même pas dans l’annuaire. La vieille maison appartient à quelqu’un d’autre. Tu m’as montré une fois des photos en noir & blanc de ton père & de ta mère, tels que je me les rappelais il y a bien longtemps. Leurs cendres ont été dispersées, as-tu dit, nulle part où retourner. Le brouillard se lève sur la route de montagne.

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Everything disappears. in memory of George & Mildred Krakora *

The Moods of Heaven JAMES KOLLER | A Lot To Keep In Mind

She thinks of him, dead, as a man who could not live with his past. He spoke, again & again, she said, of those he watched die, even those he killed. Each time the story is told she forgives more, the details more precise, more to the point. I am reminded of the child asking for a drink of water from her bed, before sleep. * When I find myself alone in the houses of others each day begins in much the same way. I drink two coffees, looking at the sky, which is often quite different.

*

THE WAY Just at the moment wind hit the aspens, the sun lit those leaves. * 80

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Tout disparaît.

en mémoire de George & Mildred Krakora

*

L’esprit du Ciel Mort, elle pense à lui comme à un homme qui ne pouvait vivre avec son passé. Il parlait, encore & encore, disait-elle, de ceux qu’il avait vu mourir, de ceux qu’il avait tués même. Chaque fois qu’on raconte l’histoire elle en oublie un peu plus, les détails plus précis, plus justes. Je revois cette enfant qui demandait de l’eau à boire dans son lit avant de dormir. * Lorsque je suis seul chez les autres dans leurs maisons chaque jour commence à peu près de la même façon. Je bois deux cafés, en regardant le ciel qui est souvent complètement différent.

*

LA VOIE A l’instant même le vent frappa les trembles le soleil illumina ces feuilles. * | 2_ 2006

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I remember breathing into her clothes, but I forget why I didn’t go back. * Trees bend, flags flap. Some things never change. JAMES KOLLER | A Lot To Keep In Mind

Men go & come back. For some things there’s a reason. For some things there should be a reason. There will always be a wind. * A river I couldn’t find flows through my head. You are standing below the cottonwood tree on the river’s bank. I listen to the wind move the tree’s leaves. Your long dark hair wraps around you. I can’t see your face. * How often does someone else care for what you planted? Everyday, she said. *

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Je me souviens que j'humais ses vêtements, mais j’oublie pourquoi je ne suis pas revenu. * Les arbres ploient, les drapeaux claquent. Certaines choses ne changent jamais. Les hommes vont & reviennent. Il y a une raison à certaines choses. Certaines choses devraient avoir une raison. Il y aura toujours du vent. * Une rivière impossible à trouver coule dans ma tête. Tu es debout sous le grand fromager au bord de la rivière. J’écoute le vent agiter les feuilles de l’arbre. Tes longs cheveux noirs s’enroulent autour de toi. Je ne peux voir ton visage. * Quelqu’un parfois s’occupe de ce que tu as planté ? Tous les jours, dit-elle. *

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Six in the morning looking up, a shooting star passes before me. Four kids with kids of their own. Orion high in the west. That dog still behind me. JAMES KOLLER | A Lot To Keep In Mind

*

SURPRISE We reached the narrow bridge at the same moment from opposite directions. No room for two trucks, we rolled down our windows. When I saw who it was I smiled, & she opened her door, jumped out, gave me a big kiss. What are you doing here? * Once the song is sung do we remember it, or can we still hear it? * “There must be a reason you’ve traveled this far.” We were in the creek bed. She was on her back on the small wet stones. I was lost in the brown-green of her eyes. *

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Six heures du matin je lève les yeux, une étoile filante passe devant moi. Quatre enfants et leurs enfants. Orion haut à l’ouest. Toujours ce chien derrière moi.

*

SURPRISE Nous atteignîmes l’étroit pont au même moment en sens inverse. Pas de place pour deux camions, nous baissâmes nos vitres. Quand j’ai vu qui c’était j’ai souri, & elle a ouvert sa portière, sauté à terre, m’a embrassé. Qu’est-ce que tu fais ici ? * Un fois la chanson finie s’en souviens-t-on, ou peut-on l’entendre encore ? * «Tu dois avoir une raison pour avoir fait tout ce chemin.» Nous étions dans le lit d’un ruisseau. Elle était sur le dos, sur les petites pierres mouillées. J’étais perdu dans le brun-vert de ses yeux. *

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The sun disappeared into low clouds. A little rain. On the Boulevard de Clichy the women tugged on our sleeves. “This only happens when I’m with you,” you said.

JAMES KOLLER | A Lot To Keep In Mind

* Is the Past? Where Is the Past? How close can you get to the Past?

* When you have no choice you don’t worry about the wind, you don’t even worry about the tracks you leave in the snow.

*

TARA There were voices coming down from the mountain. The important thing, you said, is what she holds in her hands. You left her your scarf.

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Le soleil a disparu dans les nuages bas. Pluie fine. Sur le boulevard de Clichy les femmes nous ont tirés par la manche. «Cela ne m’arrive qu’avec toi» as-tu dit.

* Le Passé ? Où est le Passé ? Peut-on se rapprocher du Passé ?

* Quand il n’y a pas le choix on ne soucie pas du vent, on ne se soucie même pas des traces qu’on laisse dans la neige.

*

TARA Il y avait des voix qui venaient de la montagne. L’important, as-tu dit, c’est ce qu’elle tient dans les mains. Tu lui as laissé ton écharpe.

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Reciprocity comes into it an interview with James Koller Paris 28-04-2005

Claire Millerioux Where do your poems come from? Can you explain their genesis? My poems are a record of my experience on several levels. They are often built from images or bits of dialogue that have collected in my mind – a process, these bits seem to gather themselves with other fragments to finally express some complete “message.” There are areas of my life, experiences that I feel are more meaningful than others in terms of poetry. Much of my poetry is concerned with the spiritual, as I experience and understand spiritual: the love that one feels for other living beings, the love given by others, the sensuality others elicit and I experience, the messages that the natural world elicits, the messages that come from dreams. Confucius, as Ezra Pound translated him, said, “Things have roots and branches; affairs have scopes and beginnings. Know what precedes and what follows”. Pound himself wrote, “Nothing is without effective cause”. Those I’ve known who have died appear with regularity in my poems. They continue to live in both the poems and my mind. Even dead their lives evolve from my knowledge of them as living folk – life, like identity, as long as any vestige remains, continues to change as that life or identity is experienced by others. What were your literary influences? How did you become a poet? There is a story: before I knew anything about poetry, I once walked with my father on a beach. He pointed to a cabin and said, “This is the kind of a house a poet lives in”. I’ve often wondered what my father meant by the remark, but at that time I knew instantly

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I wanted to live in this particular way, wanted to be a poet. The man who sometimes lived in that cabin was Carl Sandburg. He was from the middle of America, Illinois, which is where I grew up. He was interested in folk music and had a socialist point of view. When I was ten or so, a substitute school teacher read one of his poems to us. It was about how fog moves into a place, on little cat feet, he said. I liked the poem, started to read poetry, especially Sandburg, and to write poetry. My second major influence was Ezra Pound. I ran into his work in my teens, but ­saved it until I thought I could make sense of it. In my early twenties I read everything I could find that he had written, hunted down all the references he made that I could follow. How much is your writing part of the Beat generation? When the war was over in 1945 we all felt we had the freedom to move again, and I made my first long trip by car with my family in 1948. We lived in the big flat center of America. At seventeen, in 1953, I was already out on the road, driving across the US and Canada. I knew what it was like. In 1956, the summer before On the road was published, I was in California. I hung around City Lights bookstore and could feel something was going on, the energies there. When On the road was published it became clear that Kerouac was one of the keys to understanding all this ­energy. As I read it, I recognized the feeling, was ecstatic! I read the first hundred pages at one sitting, and then drove at 80 mph to share it instantly with a friend.

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I was 22 in 1958, saw myself as part of the Beat movement as it emerged. I liked the poetry people like Philip Whalen, Paul Blackburn and Gregory Corso were writing, a poetry that I found open, took one into the streets, into the “now” of experience, wasn’t academic, but one that spoke a language I i­ mmediately ­understood. Back in the middle West I started graduate school in Iowa. At one point in a literary criticism course we were asked to write a paper on a literary critic of our own chosing. I chose to write on Ezra Pound. When I handed the ­paper in, the teacher said nothing; when he gave ­papers back a week later, he returned papers to everyone but me. When I asked him where mine was, he only stared at me. I was enrolled in a writing course, and when I attempted to discuss one of my poems, the teacher responded, “I have no basis on which to criticize your poetry”. I thought, “Well there’s no ­basis for my being here”. I went on reading and writing poetry. I was also sending my poems around. Evergreen Review #2 featured the San Francisco scene so I sent poems to the review but they refused them. I kept trying. Finally, a former editor from the Chicago Review (Irving Rosenthal, who had edited a suppressed issue of the CR) joined the Evergreen Review staff. He liked my poems and offered to put me in contact with Donald Allen who was editing an anthology of Beat poetry. I moved to San Francisco in 1960, met Don Allen, and through him Philip Whalen and Richard Brautigan, before moving up to the Pacific Northwest. Donald Allen and Philip Whalen ulti­ mately introduced me to many others. I met Gary Snyder and Lew Welch about 1965. In 1964, I was one of the founding editors of Coyote’s Journal in Oregon. Many of

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Photo: Maggie Koller

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the Beats were published in its pages. (It was ­published regularly at first, then infrequently… But Coyote never dies!)

Claire Millerioux | Reciprocity comes into it

Nature inspires you a lot. Do animals like hawks, crows and wolves have a particular significance to you? All the animals and birds are important to one watching, yet some make a bolder ­statement, because they know their place in the food chain and can allow themselves to be more apparent. I particularly identify with magpies and crows (who are the messengers between worlds in the ghost dance) and coyotes (who are audacious tricksters, great teachers of cause and effect). My connection to the wolf comes from studying the literature of their behavior, from having raised Alaskan Malamutes, who share many characteristics with wolves. All animals have power; it is the power that I see. Birds are like rosaries, link with natural power, with natural spirits. They are also ­fellow travellers. When I look at a­ nother animal’s eyes, I find we are the same, they have the same problems as we’re having, ­often more. Even insects… Once I was walking into a room and saw an ant walking too but it s­ uddenly stopped on seeing me, such a big monster, then it zoomed past me as I ­waited for it to make its move. Clearly insects can ­relate noises from those passing to knowing to stay out of the way. Trees too have a sense, react, turn and ­relate to heat and cold. We often forget that the tree is part of a forest, that the forest itself has a relationship with other living forms and the energies that affect it. I have a symbiotic sense of nature. Reci­ procity comes into it. Everything is inter­ connected. We allow ourselves to think that we can function in nature. But the whole ­ability to be thankful for our food, to know who died to feed us, what contributes to our life, is not thoroughly understood by most western ­people. On the same level, I can identify myself with the animals, the life I see when I go into the woods. I am not different, I am part of the whole.

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What are the connections in your thinking between sensuality (and your relationships with women) and the greater natural world – i.e. does the relationship between the phy­ sical and psychological life one experiences inside approximate in any way the physical and psychological life outside, especially in an intimate way? Inside and outside are much the same. The direction my experience has taken, as well as the particulars of what I’ve experienced, seems in large part a result of my combined senses. I understand the world to be a physical place and that one’s experience is limited by or to one’s senses, to the experiences one can­­realize via one’s senses and/or to an under­ standing of those experiences consistent with the capability of those senses. The physical world is never still, is ever ready to stimulate in some manner. An openness to stimulus determines, makes possible, what happens. I have a strong sense of cause and effect, which seems to work in tandem with my senses. Certainly being able to engage my senses in ­keeping with what I understand as cause and effect enables me to respond in an appropriate manner. I think my relationships with others, especially women, are what they are because they began with my senses, went on to i­ nitiate my understanding of cause and effect, and ultimately drew on my judgement. The same factors ­operate in those of my actions that are concerned with physical reality overall and my experience of the response or effect those ­actions generate. (In a sensual relationship one opens to possibilities, allows reciprocal exchange and growth. In the natural worlds an openness in exchange effects much the same. The notion that one need take charge, order the world, is most often counter to natural ­order.) Sensuality in our contemporary world is often thought of in terms of sexual behaviour. Sexual practice in most social groups is limited by the group’s social mores and imposed law and punishment. It is also limited by a lack of imagination. The effect all this has on one’s ability to experience the world as it is, is devastating.

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Can you say more about Coyote or the Trickster figure? Why is it important in your poetry? I believe one thing always causes another, in an ecological sense. We can call that reciprocity. The Trickster figure, in folk and indigenous stories, very often is the agent of reciprocity. He is the prime mover, provokes questions and discomfort, sometimes in a positive, sometimes in a negative way. Coyote always has a purpose. He changes his shape and he wants to create something by this change that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. How much is cause and effect part of your work? Cause and effect occupies a major place in my thinking. My read of the world happens from my understanding of what Pound called “an effective cause”. No one has the power to anticipate all the effects of an act. Some seemingly insignificant things actually make more sense when considered in terms of what they effect. I react to stimuli, they create an e­ ffect on me; for instance, my being on the road triggers recollections, the cars passing by ­ ­create the story. It all adds up. One of my favourite memories c­omes from when I was a kid. We were driving around Texas and we came onto an old car by the side of the road. In that time, you always ­stopped, in case someone was in need. There was an old man in this car with a fighting cock ­pacing on the top of the seat next to him! My father ­asked, “Is there something we can do for you?” The man just replied “No, I’m fine”. There he was on the side of the road, taking in the world with a fighting cock. We had worried the man had a problem, in that situation, in such a land­scape, but we were wrong, not him! We obviously didn’t have all the information. Everything is the effect of some cause, even if, at first, you can’t see the link.

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To what degree is shamanic ecstasy an ­acknowledged part of your poetics, espe­ cially in terms of giving shape to the shape­ less, i.e. in the sensual determination of realities? Or, in terms of what might be considered rite, where you speak with the dead, i.e. in some fashion “killing death”? While the word shamanism has all sorts of new age connotations now, the original reference is to those chosen individual members of native groups who were able to move freely across physical/spiritual borders in a manipulative manner to effect desired ends. In our western cultures the word ecstasy is linked with drugs, sex and religion. For me shamanic ecstasy is a form of religious ecstasy, i.e. a state where one is possessed by spirits other than one’s own, who make themselves known to witnesses. Generally speaking I’m not possessed. I sometimes witness or experience single acts that in themselves connote no complete message, but are obviously of import, which when associated with other such acts do effect a message. Writing that comes to pass from such acts is never forced, but ­flowers once the message is complete and I become aware that it is complete. Some of my writing originates with dream. I understand that these dreams arrive from a sense field that I don’t generally ­inhabit in a waking state. Usually the dreams arrive or are remembered as complete, say what they say in a complete fashion. The ­writing that comes from them tries to pass on the same experience or information. In my ­ ­ waking state, when writing from my dream mind, what comes to the rational surface is past ­rather than ­present, sometimes previously un­ acknowledged e­ xperience. I find as I b ­ ecome older that my thoughts are often interrupted by seemingly irrelevant recollections which when examined can be found to connect – thus, the c­ onnections are not at the time willed, but come ­because my mind is trying to enlarge upon an existing pattern. I don’t differentiate between the experiences of physical reality and dream mind in my writing – they do all create my reality, which is what I’m expressing. 91


Claire Millerioux | Reciprocity comes into it

Do you employ sound to achieve any ­particular end? The sound patterns I use are generally enhanced natural speech patterns – enhanced in that they are recognized and added to, or eliminated, to effect what it is that the work seems to “want to say”. Some of my poems are conscious efforts to effect ends. These poems evidence a determined and sustained focus, function much as thinking about someone intensively often does, by bringing response. These poems are directly and consciously related to shamanic acts. Repeated words and phrases, and words that sound like the thing spoken of, in patterns of sound and silence sometimes find their own way into these ­poems, creating a music which differs from my normal cadence. When performing with a ­musician the poems take on still another ­reality, often a result of counterpoint. I am very interested in folk music and many of my poems can be sung or at least musically ­spoken. Considering the idea that poetry is work on a particular language, how do you ex­ plain your use of foreign languages in your poetry, namely, French and Italian? In the late 80s and early 90s I spent half time in Ticino, making frequent trips to I­ taly and France, and believe I started to use the languages I heard around me. There is in North America a Latino poetry which moves back and forth between Spanish and English – a p ­ oetry that I much enjoy. I have in the past (when I lived in the western US) used Spanish in my poems. I love the fact that Hispanic Americans use the two languages everyday, I’d love to be able to do it. Sometimes, as in “She saw the wolf”, I play on double meaning and idiomatic phrases. I like ambiguity and playful meaning. I use other languages for their music too. The road, or travel, figures largely at times in your writing. Is this a conscious meta­ phor or device, and if so to what ends? The road and travel have indeed figured largely in my life. I was born and raised in the center of the US, a land of farms and plains,

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and the roads that intersected and connected it all. I was on these roads early on and have been on them a good bit of my life. For fifty years I’ve driven back and forth across North America, visiting and revisiting most of the US and southern Canada. Besides Maine, where I live now, I’ve lived in New York, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico. I have used the road as a device in my ­writing, to connect thoughts, but generally when the road appears in my work it is there because it contributes itself to the experience I’m expressing. Many of my poems evolved from experiences on the road. Many were also actually written on the road. How do you deal with the tension between the fact that poetry comes from personal ­ex­pe­rience and the fact that once pub­lished, the same poems belong to the public sphere, to readers who do not know your personal life? My senses are how the world comes to me. I write from what my senses stir up. When I look at a flower, I see a beautiful thing and the same occurs with a beautiful woman. I’m not ashamed to explore any of it. Sometimes I have a sense of where the poem will go, who will read it, sometimes not. Because I have some idea of what certain groups of people will find of interest, or find problematic, I’m able to stay polite as necessary. (I didn’t under­ stand all these lines when I was younger!) ­Generally speaking, I have no didactic purpose in my poetry, in other writings, but not in poetry. Poetry ­cannot be the same to all of us. ­Readers take what they can take. You can’t know everything. It is not all rational, it can’t be all rational. As I read old poems years after they were written, I sometimes think “why did I write that?” Some belong to the past. Some were true at the time they were written, but as I read them now, even if I can still relate to them, find they correspond to past feelings and ­experience. Other poems do not belong to a particular period of time, stay true. One continues to re-interpret and re-experience.

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You quote Bill Brown in one poem: “Poetry is too personal”. Do you agree with this s­ tatement? I suppose poetry can be too personal – but as a poet, I feel I have the license to make people feel uncomfortable. I try to be in full control of my writing, to let the poems say as much as they want to say.

in many schools, in natural preserves of many kinds, and at gatherings. The idea is that my poems have something to say that these folks can understand. For me, it is great to have found people who keep those fires burning.

Do you expect anything from your readers? I want them to be there, to be willing to open up to the poems. If I’m afraid they might not be open, I try to structure an appro­ priate grouping of poems, to effect that end. Much as a curator in a museum arranges for ­desired effect. A heavy poem is often followed by a lighter. Usually I try to finish a book on a lighter tone, as I do in Snows Gone By, even if the last poem relates as it does the feeling of being stuck, not knowing what to do. There is an escape: “have a bite to eat” and “forget the whole damn thing”… When I read to kids for instance, I usually know what they’re going to like, can give them that. What is the connection, the common link, between all the poems of Snows Gone By? The major link, simply put, is that they are my work, written over a long period, and were not collected before. The book is ­consistent on some levels; for instance, humour runs through the collection. But as I say in my ­preface, “there is little need for consistency”. On a broad level, the book represents me as no other of my books has – includes bits and p ­ ieces that it seemed at earlier times best to leave out. However ­in­consistent, I am who I am. A final question: What can you tell about your involvement among the Italian bio­regionalists? The bioregional network in Italy is a loose network of people who are centered in the places they live, who try to live locally, in ­simple ways, close to nature and generally hold a range of varied beliefs much like those of what was in America once called the alternative society. I’m known as a poet, have read

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Jean-Max Albert (Récits et visuels/ Text and visuals)

François Tusques

de Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes

(Musique/Music)

Comme des dieux de mythologie qui discourent tantôt sous la forme de grenouilles, d’arbres ou de taureaux blancs, les quatre-vingts blues composés par François Tusques sont multiformes, font des contes et distribuent des images.

LES QUATRE ÉTATS DU BLUES Chacun des quatre-vingts blues occupe une double page où il expose ses quatre états : sa notation musicale, son récit, sa boîte d’images et son pictogramme. MUSIQUE, CONTES, ET VISIONS La musique de film, on le sait, accompagne un récit en images. À l’inverse, — d’une façon subtile et fugitive — des mots, des idées et des images accompagnent la musique qui est jouée pour elle-même. Des récits et des visions qui se tiennent cachés derrière la mélodie et alimentent notre oculus imaginarius, cette caméra mentale, qui nous dispense un spectacle et un discours interne quasi ininterrompu. Car le blues ne reste pas à végéter dans la cave sombre d’un club de jazz aux murs de velours usé imprégné de tabac froid et d’effluves de white lightning — le bootlegged whisky de Billie Holliday — et ne se confine pas à chanter des désespoirs amoureux ! Non. Le blues court dans une prairie sous le soleil, collecte des coquillages, des pollens, des étoiles. Il conte comment un arbre devint porte parole d’Eric ­Dolphy ; comment une ampoule, au fond d’un garage du nord de l’Espagne, consume ses 40 Watts d’amour pour Ihfuli, la fille de Zeus ou encore, le blues décrit le choke-bore de la trompette de Don Cherry. Il parle de la splendeur féroce du Boson de Higgs ou de l’absurdité de la notion de progrès en art; il rapporte les conseils que Thelonious Monk prodigua à Mondriaan à New York en 1940; il nous apprend que l’amas de Persée émet depuis 250 millions d’années-lumières un si bémol, un si bémol situé cinquante sept octaves en dessous de ce que perçoit notre oreille! Le blues encore, nous vante le peuple Querpéen qui a inventé l’horloge pour éviter que tout n’arrive en même temps…

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from Around the Blues in Eighty Worlds

Like gods of mythology who discourse in the shape of frogs, or sometimes trees or white bulls, the eighty blues composed by François Tusques are multiform; they make tales and they offer images.

English translation: Jean-Max Albert

THE FOUR STATES OF BLUES Each one of the eighty blues is exposed in its four states: a ­musical notation, a tale, a box-of-images and a pictogram.

MUSIC, TALES, AND VISIONS The music of cinema, as one knows, accompanies a story in images. At the opposite, — in a subtle and fugitive way — words, ideas and images accompany a music when played for itself. Tales and visions that are hidding behind the melody feed our oculus imaginarius, this mental camera which provides us an uninterrupted internal spectacle and discourse. Because the blues does not remain vegetating in the dark cellar of a jazzclub where worn velvet walls are impregnated with cold tobacco and emanations of white lightning — the bootlegged whisky of Billie Holliday — the blues, as well, is not confined to singing of lost love! No. The blues runs in a meadow under the sun, collecting shells, pollens and stars. It tells how a tree became the voice of Eric Dolphy; how an electric bulb at the bottom of a garage in the north of Spain consumes its 40 watts of love for Ihfuli, the daughter of Zeus, or the blues describes Don Cherry’s horn chokebore. It speaks about the wild splendour of Higgs’ Boson or the nonsense of the concept of progress in art; it reports the advice that Thelonious Monk lavished on Mondriaan in New York in 1940; it teaches us that the cluster of Perseus emits, for 250 million years lights, a B flat, a B flat located fifty-seven octaves below what our ear perceives! Further, the blues, praises the Querpéen people who invented the clock to prevent everything from happening all at once…

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ALBERT & TUSQUES | Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes

PARTITIONS ET PICTOGRAMMES Lorsque le blues sort de son existence purement sonore, sa personnalité, son apparence visuelle, se montre sous forme d’une construction colorée, une composition similaire ou équivalente à sa structure musicale. Cette composition ­relève du concept fondamental de structure que Franck Lloyd Wright considérait comme « la plus grande invention de notre siècle dans le domaine de la pensée ». La structure de chaque blues est considérée de façon à en extraire une lecture synthétique : un pictogramme. Depuis le caractère « abstrait » des éléments ­décoratifs dans les traditions persane, chinoise, islamique… ­jusqu’aux recherches de Paul Klee, on trouvera peut-être une­a­ pproche similaires à celles des pictogrammes proposés dans l’ouvrage. Pour Klee d’ailleurs, la démarche de transposer dans le domaine plastique une oeuvre polyphonique est une démarche quasi banal : « dont l’intérêt ne commence qu’en pénétrant plus profondément dans cette sphère de nature cosmique ». Matisse, lui, a évoqué des analogies de la peinture avec les harmonies d’une musique. Analogie : le maître mot… Mondriaan vivait l’analogie musicale, on se le représente dansant le fox-trot dans son atelier, en plaçant et déplaçant ses adhésifs colorés sur sa toile. De son côté — de l’autre côté — pour ainsi dire, Edgar Varèse quittait une composition musicale en cours pour aller peindre, puis revenait à sa partition. Le passage d’une forme musicale à une forme plastique a son existence dans un battement fulgurant et immédiatement obscurci. Pour effectuer cette transposition, il faut chercher à atteindre un espace dans lequel un arrangement sonore et un arrangement visuel fusionnent : un point situé en amont de chacun d’eux, une sorte de sous-entendu de l’espace. Région difficile d’accès, où, seulement après de nombreuses tenta­tives, nous pénétrons, de la façon la plus inattendue, par une sorte de distraction. Cet état, comme l’observe Julio C ­ ortázar dans le beau texte de son Tour du jour en 80 mondes, défini sous le nom de distraction, est une différente forme d’attention.

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PARTITIONS AND PICTOGRAMS When the blues leaves its specific sound existence, its visual appearance — its personality — shows up as a coloured construction, a composition which is similar, or equivalent, to its musical structure. This composition raises the fundamental concept of structure that Frank Lloyd Wright regarded as “the greatest invention of our century in the field of thought”. The structure of each blues is considered in order to extract from it a synthetic reading: a pictogram. From the “abstract” character of the decorative elements in the Persian, Chinese, Islamic traditions... to the research of Paul Klee, one will find an approach similar to those of the proposed pictograms in this work. For Klee anyhow, the fact of transposing a polyphonic composition in the plastic field is a quasi-banal step, “whose interest starts only with the most deep penetration in this sphere of cosmic nature”. Matisse evoked analogies between painting and the harmonies of music. Analogy: the master word... ­Mondriaan was living musical analogies, one may represents him dancing the fox-trot in his studio while placing and moving coloured adhesives on his canvas. On his side — the other side — so to speak, Edgar Varèse used to leave a musical composition in progress, go to paint, and then come back to work on his score. The passage from a musical form to a plastic form has its existence in the beat of lightning, fading immediately. In order to obtain a transposition, a space has to be sought (and reached…) in which sound arrangements and visual arrangements fuse. This point is located upstream from each of them, in a kind of understatement of space. In this area difficult to access, we may enter — after many attempts — through the most unexpected medium: distraction. Julio Cortázar, in his beautiful text Around the day in 80 words, observes that this status, which is defined under the name of distraction, is as well a different form of attention.

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#3/ Là-bas

ALBERT & TUSQUES | Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes

T. aimait beaucoup s’attarder dans la cour de courte durée. Cela se comprend : une fraîche végétation, un ­mobilier confortable, un Steinway bien accordé, les céramiques orientales et la table en céramique, des fruits, un Chinon frais (Clos de l’écho, 2001). C’était une époque — ­l’ai-je précisé ? — où de grandes quantités de jours nouveaux se succédaient. Des volées de jours nouveaux poussaient la volée précédente avant même qu’elle ne se soit posée… Cette cour, curieusement, si l’on considère son nom, se trouvait assez bien abritée du déferlement des jours nouveaux.

T. loved to loiter in the courtyard of short ­duration. This is understandable: lush vegetation, comfortable furniture, a well-tuned Steinway, elegant Eastern ceramics, a ceramic table, fruit, cooled Chinon (Clos de l’ écho, 2001.) In those days — did I already mention it? — great quantities of new days were follow­i ng one another. Countless flights of new days were pushing the preceding ones, even before they were totally accomplished... Curiously, if one considers its name, this courtyard was rather well sheltered from the surge of new days.

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#8/Monk et Mondriaan

ALBERT & TUSQUES | Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes

À l’occasion de leur rencontre en 1940, Monk conseilla à Mondriaan de ne pas oublier la mélodie. Il est vrai que Thelo­ nious conseillait ça à tout le monde, mais cette fois il avait à faire à forte partie car Mondriaan ne jurait que par le rythme. Le rythme des parcelles de couleur, des axes verticaux et horizontaux des couleurs et des tons neutres. Il est certain que dans ce champ (celui de la peinture) le chant (de la

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mélodie) est sinueux et complique sérieusement les transpositions. Lorsque Mondriaan dansait le fox-trot — parce qu’il allait tous les jours au dancing — il lui arrivait souvent de quitter la piste dès que la mélodie se faisait entendre. Retournait-il discuter avec Thelonious pour savoir si la surface peinte correspondait au beat et la surface blanche au off beat ? Avec tout ça, le Broadway ­boogie-woogie de 1942 est resté inachevé.

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When they met, in 1940, Monk advised Mondriaan not to forget the melody. In fact, that’s what Thelonious recommended to everybody, but this time he had to deal with a tough customer since Mondriaan swore exclusively by rhythm. Rhythm of vertical and horizontal axes, rhythm of colors in relation to neutral tones, in a word: rhythm of composition… It is certain that in this field, (that of painting) the field of melody is sinuous and seriously complicates the

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transposition of music into a visual structure. When Mondriaan was dancing the fox-trot — he went to a dance hall every single day — it often happened that he left the dance floor as soon as the melody started to superimpose the rhythm. Did he go back, then, to deter­mine with Thelonious whether the painted surfaces corresponded to the beat and white surfaces to the off beat? With all that, the Broadway ­boogie-woogie of 1942 ­remained unfinished!

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#11/Les Querpéens

ALBERT & TUSQUES | Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes

Les Querpéens, bien avant les grecs et leur klepsydra, avaient inventé l’horloge ! Cette création ne répondait pas à un quelconque intérêt pour la mesure du temps, mais à éviter que tout n’arrive en même temps. En effet, avant cette invention, les jours, n’apparaissaient pas les uns après les autres comme ils le font maintenant. Les choses ne se succédaient pas : tout était là d’un coup ! Par exemple : un morceau de musique se présentait d’un seul tenant : notes, silences et harmonies confondus, compactés en un seul instant — bien que le mot instant soit, on l’imagine, inapproprié en ce qu’il implique une fraction de temps en une époque où le temps était indivisible. Avec la totalité du morceau de musique, vous aviez aussi les musiciens dans tous les états de leurs vies — y compris prénatales et post mortem ! Et tout en même temps que la musique et les musiciens, il y avait aussi bien des chevaux, tout ensemble galopant, trottant, reposant, pissant de l’urine fumante dans les matins d’hiver, forniquant dans les soirs d’été et toutes les sortes d’entre saisons, et en même temps, tout aussi bien, les arbres en feuilles vertes bruissant dans le vent, en feuilles rouges qui se détachaient en tournant, des arbres en graines dans le sol, et en bûches dans le feu. Dans cette masse à la fois terne et multicolore, stable et bondissante : on ne discernait rien ! Aujourd’hui grâce aux Querpéens et à leurs horloges, les choses se succèdent : chacune à sa place et au moment venu.

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Long before the Greeks and their klepsydra, Querpéens had invented the clock! The purpose of this creation was not out of any specific interest in the measurement of time but to prevent everything from h ­ appening all at once. Indeed, before this invention, the days did not come one after the other as they do now, events did not follow each other: everything was there all at once. For example: a piece of music was nothing but a compact block:

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notes, silences and harmony were compressed into a single moment — ­a lthough the word m ­ oment is inappropriate since it implies a fraction of time where time was indivisible… Like the block of music, musicians were also in all times of their lives — antenatal and post-mortem! All the while, next to music and musicians, were horses simultaneously galloping, trotting, resting, pissing smoking urine in winter mornings, fornicating in summer evenings and

doing all sorts of things in all seasons; at exactly the same time, occurring as well, green leaves were rustling in the wind and red leaves falling, spinning, while trees were seeds growing in the ground and logs burning in a fireplace. In this dull and multi-coloured mass, static and bouncing: nothing was to be distinguished! Today, thanks to Querpéens and their clocks, one thing follows another: each one at the right place when time has come.

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Noah Fischer

The Crowds (painted photographs)

Panorama with Metal Barriers, glass paint on film, 50 cm x 23 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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I went to all of the large anti-war protests in New York City between 2002 and 2004 and always brought a ­camera. But it never worked. The pictures produced by my ­father’s black Ricoh were neither fuzzy nor pointing in the wrong d ­ irection – yet, even worse, they were not even photo­g raphs. Later I realized that my snapshots had been nullified by powerful forces emanating from the center of the crowd. So I put down my camera and set out to take a photograph of the crowd. There is some confusion as to who invented photography, but it is a fact that the Frenchman Nicephore Niepce fixed the first photograph in 1827. It was printed by way of a dead-end process: exposure of Bitumen Judea, an asphalt compound dating back to the time of the Egyptians. This was after a maddening decade spent watching images fade or blacken when they reached the light. These were ghosts, not photos. Bitumen Judea and then silver salts and iodine and mercury vapors began to chemically fix images for posterity, but this was only the fetishization of industry: lenses guiding trained hands which produce a different type of photograph are much older than the 19th century. Go see Vermeer’s View of Delft (in The Hague, Netherlands) and you will know that you’re looking at a photograph. Photography is an ancient and cultish way of seeing. Crowds are a way of being. Crowds are a unique social space where the self dissolves into the many. The c­ ommon fear of crowds is understandable because crowds have lynched, burned, turned, trampled without reason.

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Elias Canetti wrote that crowds make up a large organism that has bodily urges like an immense appetite for watching things burn. But when I think of crowds, I try to transcend the fear and remember the joy and the human power of the many. These crowds in New York City in 2002-2005 were something else too. They were giant human photographs. When we went out on the streets to protest the war in Iraq, we were flattening ourselves out into an image – each one of us a single pixel. This image was complete, hot, ­potent, challenging all other images (in the papers, ­tele­­v ­ision, internet) for the title of document-of-what­really-is-going-on. The NYPD made it clear that they con­ sidered this giant photograph dangerous. They were trying to mess up the image. A baroque system of metal barriers ­created a maze miles wide that funneled millions of p ­ otential

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Panorama with Metal Barriers, (detail) glass paint on film, 50 cm x 23 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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NOAH FISCHER | The Crowds

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Left: Slow Motion Movement, glass paint on film, 30 cm x 23 cm, 2005 Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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Below: The Warriors, glass paint on film, 43 cm x 20 cm, 2005 Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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NOAH FISCHER | The Crowds

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Peacewalk, glass paint on film, 30 cm x 23 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

足足足crowd-pixels into separate sections. In this way, the NYPD cranked the resolution of the image way down with big holes everywhere in the photograph and in fact there was only one complete view of the enormous dispersed crowd and this was from high in the sky. Sure enough, NYPD helicopters hovered overhead, no doubt snapping high resolution photographs while any other photo was impossible. It was August 2004 and the protest against the Republican Convention was coming up. I was soon going to fly off to the Netherlands for a year to study painted panoramas (a nineteenth century virtual reality machine which first made Daguerre famous). It was at that August protest that I had finally perceived the facts described above, and understood the worthlessness of my snapshots. So I shot seven rolls haphazardly in less than an hour and took the film with me to the Netherlands. Why not? I spent a year staring at those pictures, getting to know intimately every face in the crowd. Meanwhile, history moved on. Bush was re-elected, then grew unpopular, and the war in Iraq raged on, and for a few weeks people only thought of the lost crowds in the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But from my desk in the Netherlands, this is how I finally set out to take a photograph: I laid acetate over the snapshots and traced them with black ink or colored gels, using a tiny brush. In this way I fixed all of the little light-shapes足 making-up-faces into the folds of my brain, and the photograph began to take on a sublimely subjective dimension. Little painting resulted and there are in fact usable black and white negatives and color positives. In my dark room, I used ancient processes of candlelight exposure to create the ghostly photographs on silver gelatin paper. The colored gel paintings exist as little slides, ready to be scrutinized, projected, magnified in search of the truth about what happened in the streets of New York in August of 2004.

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La Foule (peintures photographiques) Traduction française : Anne Deniaud

NOAH FISCHER | The Crowds

Sunglasses in the Dark, photograph from hand-painted negative, 100 cm x 35 cm, 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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J’ai participé à toutes les grandes manifestations anti-guerre à New York entre 2002 et 2004 et j’emportais toujours avec moi un appareil photo. Pourtant il ne fonctionnait jamais. Les photos faites par le Ricoh noir de mon père n’étaient pourtant ni floues, ni mal cadrées, mais ce n’était simplement pas des photographies. Plus tard, j’ai réalisé que mes clichés avaient été anéantis par les forces puissantes émanant du coeur de la foule. Alors j’ai posé mon appareil et me suis mis en route pour prendre une vraie photographie de la foule. On ne sait pas qui a inventé la photographie mais on sait que le français Nicéphore Niepce prit la première photographie en 1827. Ce processus d’impression réalisée grâce à une exposition au bitume de Judée, un composé de goudron naturel datant de l’époque des égyptiens, aboutissait à la mort de la photographie. Elle finit pourtant par être fixée après une dizaine d’années démentes passées à regarder les images disparaître progressivement ou noircir en présence de la ­lumière. Ce n’était alors pas des photos mais des fantômes. Le bitume de Judée puis les sels d’argents, l’iode et les vapeurs de mercure finirent, à l’aide d’un procédé chimique, par fixer les images pour la postérité. Mais tout cela n’était que le résultat d’une fétichisation de l’industrie et des artistes manipulant des lentilles avaient déjà produit une photographie d’un genre différent et ceci bien avant le XIXe siècle : allez voir, la Vue de Delft de Vermeer (à La Haye, aux Pays-Bas) et vous réaliserez que vous contemplez une photographie. La photographie est une manière de voir ancienne et cultuelle. La foule est une manière d’être. La foule est un espace social unique où le moi se dissout dans la multitude. La peur commune de la foule se comprend car la foule a lynché, brûlé, attaqué, piétiné sans raison. Elias Canetti a écrit que la foule

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est comme un grand organisme qui possède des­besoins physiques comme celui de regarder des choses brûler. Pourtant, quand je pense à une foule, j’essaie de transcender ma peur et me souviens de l’enthousiasme et la force de la masse popu­ laire. Ces foules dans la ville de New York en 2002-2005, c’était aussi autre chose : elles formaient des photographies humaines géantes. Lorsque nous étions dans la rue en train de protester contre la guerre en Irak, nous nous aplatissions en une image, chacun de nous devenant un pixel unique. Cette image était complète, chaleureuse, puissante, révélant plus que tout autre image (dans les journaux, à la télévision ou sur Internet) ce qui se passait réellement. Le NYPD (la police new-yorkaise) nous faisait clairement comprendre qu’elle considérait cette grande photographie comme menaçante. Elle essayait d’abîmer l’image. Un réseau baroque de barrières métalliques formait un large labyrinthe qui canalisait les millions de pixels humains en sections séparées. De cette manière, le NYPD réduisait grandement la résolution de l’image créant de grands trous dans la photographie de telle sorte qu’on ne pouvait obtenir une vue d’ensemble de l’énorme foule dispersée que depuis le ciel. Les hélicoptères du NYPD, eux, passaient au-dessus de nos têtes prenant sans doute des photographies haute résolution, alors que toute autre prise de vue était impossible. On était en août 2004 et les manifestations contre la convention républicaine étaient sur le point de­commencer. J’allais bientôt m’envoler vers les Pays-Bas pour étudier pendant un an des panoramas peints (des machines à créer de la réalité virtuelle datant du XIXe et ayant rendu Daguerre célèbre). C’est à cette manifestation en août, que j’ai fini par comprendre pourquoi… pourquoi les clichés que j’avais réalisés jusqu’ici étaient sans valeur. J’ai pris alors des photos au hasard, sept pellicules en moins d’une heure, et je les emmenais avec moi au Pays-Bas.

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Disruptive Conversion, photograph from hand-painted negative, 90 cm x 35 cm, 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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NOAH FISCHER | The Crowds

Sunglasses in the Dark (detail), photograph from hand-painted negative, 100 cm x 35 cm, 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Oliver Kamm 5BE Gallery, New York

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J’ai passé une année à regarder fixement ces photos, de­­ve­n­a nt familier avec chacun des visages formant la foule. Pendant ce temps, l’histoire avançait. Bush était réélu, il devenait impopulaire, la guerre en Irak faisait rage et pour quelques semaines seulement les gens pensèrent aux foules englouties par le tsunami en Asie du Sud-Est. Depuis mon bureau aux Pays-Bas, voilà comment je décidais enfin de prendre une photographie : j’ai posé une feuille d’acétate sur les clichés et les ai décalqués à l’aide d’un petit pinceau, en utilisant de l’encre noire et des gels colorés. De cette manière, j’ai fixé toutes les petites formes composant les ­v isages dans mon esprit et la photographie s’est mise à prendre une dimension sublimement subjective. Cela a donné des peintures miniatures mais également des négatifs noir et blanc et des positifs couleurs. Dans ma chambre noire, j’ai utilisé un procédé ancien d’exposition à la bougie pour créer des photographies fantômatiques sur du papier à la gélatine d’argent. Les peintures réalisées à l’aide du gel coloré f­ orment comme de petites diapositives prêtes à être attentivement examinées, projetées, magnifiées pour faire la lumière sur ce qui s’est réellement passé dans les rues de New York en août 2004.

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from Silent Natures

Flor Gardu単o

Cocodrila, Switzerland, 1997, 100 cm x 108.8 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Art 75 Yves di Maria, Paris

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FLOR GARDUテ前 | Silent Natures

Paraテュso, Poland, 1988, 100 cm x 144 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Art 75 Yves di Maria, Paris

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San JosĂŠ, Mexico, 1997, 100 cm x 135 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Art 75 Yves di Maria, Paris

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FLOR GARDUテ前 | Silent Natures

Dos peces, Switzerland, 1995, 100 cm x 121 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Art 75 Yves di Maria, Paris

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Imagen mĂ­stica, Switzerland, 2005, 100 cm x 133 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Art 75 Yves di Maria, Paris

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David Huerta

From: El azul en la flama (Ediciones Era, 2002), reprinted by permission of the author.

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from El azul en la flama

Dentro del ojo Obleas de fenómenos se fugan por el ángulo más iridiscente de las habitaciones. Hay presencias y roncas sombras de voces (¿o era voces de sombra, o bien silencios luminosos, o acaso, no sé…?) Azul insistencia de esos pequeños discos intangibles: rozan pestañas, acarician la carne leve de los ojos, raudamente se acercan y se alejan de la cortinilla de los párpados. La noche se espesa como tinta de sumi en torno de estas etéreas manifestaciones. El cuerpo se desprende, con lentitud atlética, de estos asedios, vuelo de espíritus chocarreros. Una ola roja y relampagueante entra por los ventanas: el ser del día. Los discos diminutos se encogen; ya no se fugan; se condensan en la Mesa del Centro; crean vibraciones de sedante melancolía. El diurno latigazo se extiende, se difunde, se debilita. Dentro del ojo, un océano del color de la sangre y millones de agujas entran en curso de colisión. Amanece. Anochece.

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from The Blue of the Flame

Within the Eye

English translation: John Oliver Simon

Encapsulated phenomena flee through an iridescent angle of rooms. Presences and hoarse shadows of voices (or were they voices of shadow, or maybe luminous silences, or maybe, I don’t know…?) Blue insistence of these tiny intangible disks: brushing eyelids, they caress the eyes’ soft flesh, approach in a torrent and flee from the eyelids’ curtains. Night thickens like sumi ink around these ethereal manifestations. the body lets go, with slow athleticism, of these annoyances, flight of X-rated spirits. A red glittering wave comes in the windows: the day’s being. The tiny disks shrink; they no longer flee; they condense into the Table of Downtown, setting up sedative melancholy vibrations. The diurnal whiplash spreads, dilutes, weakens. Within the eye, an ocean the color of blood and millions of needles enter on a collision course. Dawn. Dusk

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Hablar Cada palabra se inclina entre los basureros estrépitos y culmina en la desengañada curva de los silencios numerosos. Cada callar lanza hacia el círculo de los oídos sus discursos virtuales. DAVID HEURTA | El azul en la flama

Hablar o no hablar. El rostro recoge los ademanes del otro y multiplica la fuerza de las bocas, la tibieza protectora del deseo que nace. Hablo y hablas. Con cuántos murmullos se forman estas conversaciones: medias frases, susurros, pedacería de los lenguages. Los gestos —la energía de los cuerpos, el ansia de la materia viva— se cruzan con la continuidad quebradiza de los significados. Y esmaltan así los contactos, los vínculos imperfectos y la fluidez diamantina de lo que se dice, figura siempre deshecha, desasida.

Los animales y los árboles Junto a los árboles, los animales en su divinidad concentrada, no menos que la de aquéllos. Discurren bajo las hojas y junto a la solidez de los troncos. Así con el tiempo, árbol de los minutos: criaturas bajo el amplio follaje, rayado por luces intempestivas en los atardeceres y el oleaje de oro de los amaneceres. Los animales y los árboles: imágenes en devenir, marcados por el pulso frágil o tempestuoso de la materia, su generosidad, su imperfección. 120

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To Talk Each word topples down toward noisy garbage cans and ends up on a disillusioned trajectory into numerous silence. Each silence hurls its virtual discourse toward a circle of ears. To talk or not to talk. The face picks up another’s expression, multiplying the force of mouths, a warmth protecting nascent desire. I talk and you talk. How many murmurs go to form these conversations: half-sentences, whispers, fragments of languages. Gestures — body energy, anxiety of living matter — cross paths with the shattered continuity of signifiers. Adorning the contact, the imperfect connection and adamantine fluidity of what we say, a form always worn out and thrown away.

Animals and Trees Next to the trees, the animals in their concentrated divinity, no less than that of the pines. Under the needles and next to the trunks they meditate. So it is with time, tree of minutes: critters under the ample foliage, striped by tempestuous lights at sunset and the golden wave of dawn. Animals and trees: images becoming, framed by the fragile or stormy pulse of matter, its generosity and imperfection. | 2_ 2006

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Libro del mundo Vuelves la hoja de esta manera de callar y el volumen del mundo —todo se consuma en este Libro— deja escapar un poco de polvo de fenómenos, telarañas de metafísica y actos en potencia. DAVID HEURTA | El azul en la flama

La hoja en blanco de esta manera-de-callar parece nieve alpina. Pasas la mano sobre esta superficie y sientes un Fabriano magnífico —pero es nada más la luz entre un cuerpo y otro. Callar, acercarse de esta manera entre las líneas, reescribir con una musitación estas imperfecciones, este vaho bibliotecario que va construyendo con una delicia maniática el sabor y la orilla de las fisiologías.

Disgregaciones Negra todo señal hundida en cada sílaba del agua izquierda donde la blanca ruta de la disgregación se acumula, nuberío de flamas, un pueblo errante sobre las piedras en los labios de las rocas y más abajo en la piel de los abismos cunde el otoño, las páginas vuelan, diste un golpe en el vidrio y antes de que dejaras de ver la imagen reflejada un destello se insertó en oscuros latidos de tela y de papel, otra vez las disgregaciones— este óxido de diminutas manos manchadas recogiste debajo de la mesa de la gramática, manos de una delgada electricidad, sustantivos que agarran a pedazos el mundo y lo susurran desde su cara de cáscaras, con sus bocas heladas.

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Book of the World You turn the page on that way of shutting down and the tome of the world — everything’s consumed in this Book — allows a little dust of phenomena to escape, spiderwebs of metaphysics and potential actions. The blank page of that way-of-shutting-down resembles alpine snow. You run your hand over that surface and you feel the magnificence of a Fabriano altarpiece — but it’s only the light between one body and another. Shut down, find your way between the lines, rewrite, musing over these imperfections, this librarian’s breath which constructs with maniacal delight the taste and shore of physiologies.

Disperson All black signs submerged in each syllable of left-handed water where the white route of dispersion piles up, cumulus in flames, a town adrift over the stones in the lips of the rocks and further down on the chasm’s skin where autumn swells, pages fly, you punch the glass and before you stop seeing your reflection a gleam inserts itself in the dark pulsing of cloth and paper, again dispersion — this oxide of tiny stained hands which you gathered under the table of grammar, hands of slender electricity, substantives grabbing the world in fragments and whispering it out of a face of shells, of frozen mouths.

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Recuerdo borrado En un flash de anterioridad y cancelación, el recuerdo comenzó a borrarse: por las orillas iba quemándose, red hundida en el tiempo, pañuelo transparente con signos negros impresos en el apretado labio donde el revés y el derecho coinciden. DAVID HEURTA | El azul en la flama

Es todo esto como un destello para engranar el espacio y el tiempo, los oráculos del olvido, los pálidos rituales de la memoria. Iba quemándose directamente, iba apagándose como una gota en el pavimiento veraniego de Nueva York, “como un puño cuando se abre la mano,” como la sed en el borde del vaso generoso. Desapareció y en el espejo curvo de la mente quedó una huella de palpitación, grano esplendente de energía sobre el doblez de los minutos, sobre el ancho y rudo despliegue de los días.

Sonidos brillantes He aquí las aguas de lo hablado Las musitaciones del filósofo en vuelo Los gritos del hada en la caverna De la boca magnética Rebaba de palabras Abracadabra o gesto de Huidobro Despeñado entre los pedruscos de colores De una Babilonia demolida Por el suspiro de los magos Tantas sílabas que manchan la rosa Eclipsada y limpia Tantos estiletes de sonidos brillantes Bajo los chispazos de sodio en las avenidas

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Erased Memory In a flash of anteriority and cancellation, memory began to erase itself: it charred at the edges, a net submerged in time, transparent handkerchief with black ideograms printed on the crushed lip where reverse and obverse coincide. All this is like one gleam enmeshing space and time, the oracles of the forgotten, pale rituals of memory. It burned directly and went out like a drop on the summer pavement of Manhattan, “like a fist when you open your hand,” like thirst at the lip of a generous glass. It disappeared, leaving a trace of moisture on the mind’s curved mirror, a resplendent grain of energy on the redoubling of minutes, on the broad crude unfolding of days.

Brilliant Sounds Here we have the water of what’s spoken The reveries of the philosopher in flight The screams of the fairy in the cavern With the magnetic mouth Spit-up of words Abracadabra gesture of Huidobro Tumbling from the rainbow crags Of some Babylon demolished By a wizard’s sigh So many syllables to stain the Rose Eclipsed and clean So many stilettos of brilliant sound Under sodium sparkles along the avenue

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Ocurrencias Un jugo de miedo moja los labios del vaso negro, la boca de la prudencia se cierra con un temblor, la mano vacante se abre hacia la plenitud del objeto, el deseo se electriza hacia su límite de destrucción en medio de los títeres angulosos del despotismo, DAVID HEURTA | El azul en la flama

cada ojo prefiere ver por su cuenta los desleídos espejismos y las suculentas alucinaciones del fin de la semana burgués y, en fin, el viento de los cuerpos rodea la esbelta perfección del espíritu y la esmalta con perfumes y sabores de inmediatez y calor.

Rocío de la memoria Rocío de ventanas despedazadas, lustrosa lluvia navajera: ¿no sientes ahora el minucioso, voraz, inexorable asedio de los recuerdos, su frescura quemante? cual un pertinaz roce, la memoria te rodea y te penetra; duele, fecunda. Sin ella, nada serías; con ella a cuestas, el proyecto que eres avanza en medio de una incierta habitación llena de espejos, de espejismos, de imágenes a medio fracturarse. Caen desde lo alto de tu soledad, en el frío de la mente, los diminutos fragmentos de tu vida pasada, cumplida, inevitable.

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It Happens A juice of fear wets the lips of the black cup, the prudent mouth snaps shut like an earthquake, the empty hand opens toward the object’s plenitude, desire is charged to the limit of destruction between the angular puppets of the despot, each eye wants to see for itself the unread mirages and succulent hallucinations of a bourgeois weekend and finally a wind of bodies surrounds the slender perfection of the spirit adorning it with perfumed flavors of right-now heat.

Dew of Memory Dew of shattered windows, lustrous knife-edged rain: now don’t you feel the greedy, meticulous, inexorable bombardment of memories, their burning freshness? Like a persistent chafing, memory surrounds and penetrates you: painful and fecund. Without it, you’d be nothing; with memory on your shoulders the project which you are moves forward in the midst of an uncertain chamber of mirrors, of mirages, of images half-fractured. Falling from the height of your loneliness through the cold of your mind, the tiny fragments of your past life, fulfilled, inevitable.

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John Oliver Simon

About David Huerta

David Huerta (born 1949, Mexico City), one of the most prominent Mexican poets of his generation, is himself the son of a very famous poet: Efraín Huerta (1914-1982). Efraín Huerta was the great hope of the Mexican Left for a progressive poet to match up against the disenchanted ex-Communist, Octavio Paz (1914-1997). Paz, of course, was much the greater writer, while Efraín Huerta’s celebration of the Party line would serve as an eternal self–refutation of political poetry in Mexico. In 1952 he contemplates the Kremlin: There lives the only man in the world who knows what he thinks... His name is Josef Stalin, and he is over seventy years old. But he is for the centuries... Five suns so that Stalin may read and think, live, go on living and raise high the blue flag of peace in the world.

Efraín Huerta’s genius was more whimsical than militant: his legacy is his love poems, which reveal a charming sense of humor: Siempre I always Amé Loved Con la With the Furia Silent Silenciosa Fury De un Of a Cocodrilo Lethargic Aletargado Crocodile

The Left affectionately nicknamed Efraín Huerta “el coco­ drilo”, and Octavio Paz calls him a crocodile too, in the ­g reatest Mexican poem, “Piedra del Sol”, in which redemptionary crocodile, uniformed pig, joking tiger and pedagogical burro form a grotesque bestiary of animal repression which must tumble at last in order to permit humans to share bread, the sun and death, the forgotten wonder of being alive

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The elder Huerta’s study is preserved, with Delicados cigarette butts and well-thumbed tomes, in the Bibilioteca Efraín Huerta at the Casa del Poeta, a house-museum largely dedicated to its onetime resident, Ramón López Velarde (1888-1921), and which serves, with frequent readings and workshops, as the nerve-center of Mexican poetry. David Huerta edited his father’s collected poems. “I read aloud each one of the poems in the book”, he recalled later. “It was like incorporating the poetry of Efráin, making it enter into me. An exciting, incredible, mediumistic experience”. The words which David uses to characterize his father are amor absoluto (absolute love). Already at 27 in Cuaderno de noviembre (1976) young David Huerta has found his mature voice: long-lined, meditative, discursive, obsessively phenomenological: “a body under the light, in the light, made of metal light which burns under names/ while indifferent things make noise in the corridors.” In Incurable (1987) Huerta takes on the universe of Mexico City in 387 hard-edged, gritty, dense pages. Was there no poem left? I despaired. Had David Huerta taken it all? It’s the twentieth century, what bullshit. A loveliness meshed in time, splintered forthwith: man walks with his mouth unmuzzled in the river of nickel, like a horse tied to the daily grindstone, he’s got wine up his ass, arterial, with all his prose in his stained face he goes for the light which got mixed up toward 3 p.m., sweating castoff desire in his crotch and a sweet obscenity for whatever Nefertiti seen in passing.

The last line of David Huerta’s interminable, incurable poem is Tendré que decir lo que tenga que decir—o callarme (I’ve got to say what I’ve got to say—or shut up). Either he hasn’t said it after 387 pages or it’s unsayable. The phenomenological dilemma which trapped a whole generation of ectomorphic North American poets in the reductionist cul-de-sac of l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e led Huerta into a more fruitful vein. He is included in the 1996 anthology Medusario (edited by Roberto Echebavarren, José Kozer and Jacobo Sefamí; Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 1996) a continent-wide sampling of poets labeling themselves neobarroco (neoBaroque), or with a characteristic word-play, neobarroso (neo-muddy). The Neobarrocos pay homage to the great Spanish poet of the Siglo de Oro, Luis Góngora y Argote (1561-1627), and the Cuban José Lezama Lima (1910-1976), affirming a method that piles on and spills over and keeps going, erasing the signifier under a wealth of details. This style ­heightens

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JOHN OLIVER SIMON | About David Huerta

into a mountain of shimmering veils in the work of the gay Argentine Nestor Perlongher, dead of AIDS at 43, and it achieves nanoscopic clarity with Coral Bracho (Mexico, 1951) and hieratic playfulness among the Pharaonic cats of Olga Orozco (Argentina, 1920-1999) but, like any formula, it becomes unreadable in less talented hands. The editors of Medusario write perceptively of David Huerta: “Words, sounds, the eye, the mirror are the favorite themes of David Huerta’s poetry… Negation as a mechanism to question what it affirms, in an incessant process of autocriticism. The text is a reflection of the world, but in its effort to read and interpret, language becomes an obstacle to any true reading, which can only be obtained by silence… there is a certain philosophy of perception in David Huerta. Selfreflection acts as a negative force…” An Un-Meeting In October 1996, a dozen prominent Mexican poets were invited to Hayward, California for an Encuentro, a Coming to Meet with their best-known Chicano counterparts. Nobody has written about this event on either side of the border for fear of opening a thousand cans of worms. Fue más bien un desencuentro, I can only say it in Spanish, it turned out to be an un-meeting. The Chicanos, brown-skinned, proud of their pre­ Columbian ancestry and campesino roots, framed by their militant identity as an oppressed minority, highly educated and most of them teaching creative writing in high-quality MFA programs, speaking English natively, often hesitant in Spanish, were anxious for the validation of la madre patria, and like children unsure they will be loved, read their most confrontational work to shock their mother. Me vale madre. The Mexicans, pale-skinned, mostly upper-middle class, equally well-educated with a better foundation in the classics, highly erudite in Spanish and often inarticulate in English, proud of their status as international intellectuals, most of them supported in their writing by government becas, an elite in their own culture but with a chip on their shoulders vis-à-vis Uncle Sam, really had no idea what they were supposed to have in common with these ragged pochos. The magnificent Lorna Dee Cervantes, as tiny against the podium, as she painfully noted, as any Indian woman from Chiapas or Oaxaca, complained about how the Mexicans were translating and publishing white yanqui writers, but not their Chicano cousins. While many of the poets present made a valiant attempt to treat each other collegially as tú, Lorna Dee continued with great formality to address David Huerta as Usted.

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Juan Felipe Herrera, in other venues a highly sophisticated post-modern riffer, read a flatly political call-and-response poem against that year’s anti-immigration Proposition 187, which had, count’em, one hundred eighty-seven audience refrains, come over, come over, while David Huerta, son of a militant Stalinist, fiddled with his papers with a disapproving grimace and very conspicuously did not join in the rhythmic clapping. David Huerta got to his feet at last to lecture the assem­bled Chicano poets like an angry father ordering his ­daughter’s novio out of the house. “I have my own political commitment”, he insisted. “We have the same mothercountry complex about Spain. We are not going to give up our mother tongue to learn English. In the stupid world of ferocious capitalism, as a victimized Chilango [inhabitant of Mexico City] I choose to read Gorostiza.” [José Gorostiza, 1901-1973, a metaphysical, apolitical, Mexican whose greatest poem, Nostalgia de la muerte, layers metaphoric implications of a bedside glass of water into an Image that shimmers beyond itself]. “Writing needs intellectual rigor”, David Huerta admonished the glowering Chicanos. “I’ve read [Chicano writers] Tino Villanueva and Alurista. [Chicana novelist] Sandra Cisneros came down to Mexico con mucha bomba y platillo, a lot of tinsel and glitter. The first writer to take on the murders which made the Zoot Suit Era [the 1940’s in east LA] was [the Mexican] José Revueltas. As to the question of you Chicanos getting published in Mexico, you have access to the best market in the world. Why do you want our poor little Mexican mercado too?” As an Anglo poet fluent in Spanish, who had worked closely with several of the Chicanos in programs such as California Poets In The Schools and translated many of the Mexicans, I was in a unique position to have empathy with both worlds. I wanted so much for them to like each other. It was never going to happen. It was painfully ironic how David Huerta, son of a militant leftist, had to reject the naked ­politics in the poems of the mutant Raza. These Poems In El azul en la flama (Ediciones Era, Mexico City, 2002), from which these nine pieces are translated, David Huerta’s incessant themes and recurrent obsessions re-examine themselves in a style which strives to follow a thread of common experience out of the labyrinth of phenomena, to make its way through thickets of difficulty towards transparence. I hope my English brings his clarity and density across frontiers.

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131


Piotr Kaczmarek

Leafless Trees

Just to show you what I am currently working on, I attached a few samples of photographic collages. Though I am using a digital camera, I am not manipulating the photographs beyond what would be possible applying standard darkroom techniques. The physical structure of the collage also reflects the source material: one photo - one piece of paper. I chose the leafless trees as a subject because I was interested in a clear visual representation of a complex structure; starting from the high level of defined spaces between tree canopies, then the obvious organization of branches, and patterns of twigs. I like the drawing-like line qualities of the subject. What the collages are after is to reveal the fractal nature of these organic shapes. The overlaid sequence of images smoothly zooms in from one level to the next and to the next taking advantage of the consistency of the system repeating similar patterns at different levels. To achieve the effect of the viewer being drawn into a set of distinct spaces, I have to start with sizeable pieces allowing the deepest, smallest, layer of the buildup to be big enough to show recognizable detail. Piotr Kaczmarek in front of Leafless Trees 1, 2006, 87 cm x 65 cm. Collage: four photographs, three layers

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Leafless Trees 5, 2006, 87 cm x 65 cm. Collage: three photographs, two layers

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PIOTR KACZMAREK | Leafless Trees

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Leafless Trees 8, 2006, 87 cm x 65 cm. Collage: five photographs, four layers Leafless Trees 3, 2006, 87 cm x 65 cm. Collage: three photographs, two layers

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Leafless Trees 8, 2006, 87 cm x 62 cm. Collage:four photographs, three layers

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Piotr Kaczmarek (Text)

Irena Szrek (Illustration)

from The Art of Interpretation by Example of an Unselfconscious Creation

INTRODUCTION A doodle, which is the subject of the following analysis, was created by Irenka during a relaxed evening conversation. Her scribbling may be considered a good example of unselfconscious art. All the creative effort of making sense (discovering the sense?) of such a work of art is up to an insightful inter­ preter. This work follows in the steps of art critics, archeologists and other critical thinkers whose goal is deciphering intentions of a creator. All these people take it as a challenge to rely on powers of their own imagination in recreation of an object by its ­thorough analysis. Aim of this work is to show how enticing the art of interpre­ tation may be. MATERIALS and METHODS The original of the drawing was converted into digital form using an Apple scanner. Computer technology was very helpful in presenting the results of the analysis. First, the image was strengthened and weak ball pen lines were intensified for ­better clarity. No touchups, such as deleting or adding anything to the original image, were done. Then selected fragments of the image were highlighted, separated and analyzed in detail. ORIGINAL The original image depicted in its entirety on the adjacent page covers large part of a 10 by 10 centimeter leaf of paper. At a first glance it looks just like a dense collection of lines and the only creative impulse seems to be horror vacui, that forces humans to fill their surroundings with ornaments. The following part of this work attempts to show how misleading is that impression. The original is preserved in the author’s collection and it is available on demand to any serious researcher. Theoreticians and practicians of art of interpretation are encouraged to familiarize themselves with it and conduct further analytical ­studies of the subject.

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KACZMAREK & SZREK | The Art of Interpretation

BULL: Dynamic and hieratic. Thickset and strong, it has all the male attributes. Formally it has a lot in common with all the bulls of Mediterranean culture from Greek kylix to the drawings of Picasso, but it also possesses some uncommon elements which are clues to its true identity.

b

c

a c1

a. Right eye is set into a triangular, pyramid-like shape, suggesting an association with The Eye of Providence or Eye of Fate.

b. A mark in the middle of the forehead is an Indian symbol of the high cast and may indicate mythical powers of the beast.

c. An important element of the drawing is an ornate saddle on the bull’s back. The triple buckle of the saddle-girth is very clearly depicted (c1). This may lead to conclusion that the drawing represents Nandi, a holy bull serving as a vehicle for the god Shiva and a symbol of his nature.

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KACZMAREK & SZREK | The Art of Interpretation

PARROT: The bird widely associated with lottery tickets and its ability to mimic humans, is shown here grown to monstrous size. Judging by ruffled feathers, whirling marks on the bird’s skin and dark growth on its left leg the hideous creature must be suffering from several nasty diseases. A human figure at the side of the monster has features of a ­woman warrior. Her patterned dress is also an armor and a shield. She has long blond hair and no helmet, a pointed saber is her only weapon. It is not clear if the intention of the brave woman is to fight the repulsive creature or use her saber to perform some radical surgery and cure the ailing monster.

a b

c

a. Woman’s left-handedness is purely symbolic. Left hand is associated with functions of the right side of the brain and points to the warrior’s constructive and systematic approach to her task.

b. Bird’s whirling skin marks may suggest form of parasitic infection.

c. A dark growth on a left leg.

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KACZMAREK & SZREK | The Art of Interpretation

BIG FISH: This selected fragment depicts a monstrous fish, which jumps out of the water to swoop down on a little sailing boat. In the boat three men are holding each others’ hands in horror. Amazingly, in this dynamic scene full of dramatic ­tension, the fish is shown in the manner more suited for an anatomical atlas. Similar drawings of Australian Aborigines depict internal organs of live animals with x-ray vision precision. This picture, gruesome in its slaughterhouse realism, may signify its author’s aversion to the fish meat and fish in ­ ­general.

c

d

b

a. The sailboat with a threeperson crew.

b. The front part of the fish covered with scales.

c. The middle part of the fish showing the ­met­a meric structure of its muscles.

a

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d. The tail part presents the isolated nervous system and intestines.

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143


Carl “Clay” Caulkins

NEW The way Mademoiselle had dressed herself made a man want to undress her But I could tell it would be necessary to impress her I wasn’t wearin’ Guess Who jeans, I had no roll of green But it just so happened that I had a little magazine I passed it across the aisle, she smiled and began to scan it Man oh man, it couldn’t have gone any better if I had planned it I figured that I had her in my grasp when she gave a little gasp and her eyes grew wider But she was staring at that photo of old Gary Snyder Oh no Oh no New New New You made me so blue blue blue Ain’t nothin’ you can do do do When those poets come marchin’ through Well I told myself, “Clay, don’t despair He might just remind her of Rumplestiltskin or her first teddy bear Remember Sinatra, remember the Duke of Earl Remember that the singer always gets the girl” So I held my breath as she turned those pages one by one And when she started in tappin’ her foot I knew my time had come I left my seat and very discreetly glanced over her shoulder She was singin’ along to that jazzy song by old Jimmy Koller Oh no Oh no New New New You made me so blue blue blue Ain’t nothing you can do do do When those poets come marchin’ through

Fresh from riding from the south on the TGV, Carl Caulkins performing at the NEW Magazine celebration, Librairie Mazarine, Paris, 23 September 2005. Photo: Dominique Negel

144

Well I let her keep the damned magazine, I could see that all was lost By now she’s probably tryin’ to buy The Riprap Bone Show at any cost Paul, all I’m asking of you is cut me a little slack And when you do New number two put the poets in the back New New New You made me so blue blue blue Ain’t nothin’ you can do do do Those poets are the chosen few

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Philip Whalen-Franco Beltrametti (typography by Jean-Baptiste Levée) 4

Invention and art will win Kyoto/California/Switzerland/Italy Letters, 1967-1970 Jacqueline Cahen

22

l’immediat labile Joanne Kyger (traduction français, Etel Adnan)

26

NOT VERACRUZ, A Daybook / PAS A VERACRUZ, Un Journal

32 Norman Lock

Pieces for Small Orchestra

42 Paul Kahn (traduction français, Alba Escalón)

Marie-Nöelle Fontan at Bibracte

57 John Clark

New Orleans: Do You Know What It Means?

72 James Koller (traduction français, Jacqueline Cahen)

A LOT TO KEEP IN MIND / QUE DE SOUVENIRS Claire Millerioux

84

Interview with James Koller Paul Kahn

90

Periplé : In the Library Jean-Max Albert & François Tusques

94

Le Tour du Blues en Quatre-Vingts Mondes / Around the Blues in Eighty Worlds Noah Fischer (traduction français, Anne Deniaud)

104

The Crowds (Painted Photographs) Flor Garduño

113

Silent Natures David Huerta (English translation, John Oliver Simon)

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El azul en la flama / The Blue of the Flame John Oliver Simon

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About David Huetra Piotr Kaczmarek

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Leafless Trees Piotr Kaczmarek & Irena Szrek

136

The Art of Interpretation Carl Caulkins

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The NEW Song

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NEW 2006_2  

Philip Whalen & Franco Beltrametti correspondance 1967-1970, Jacqueline Cahen, Joanne Kyger, Norman Lock, Paul Kahn, Marie-Noelle Fontan, Jo...

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