Cartel of Defiance

cartel of defiance (noun): 1. In medieval combat, a formal declaration, delivered by herald, of a combatant's intention to fight and refusal to submit. 2. An electronic assemblage of engaged and enraged citizens. 3. An intertextual mode of reading, writing, and thinking that puts the current political, cultural, and personal moment in dialogue with text/art from the past in counterargument to the ahistorical Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Donkey


A magazine should be the reflection of its time, and one that ceases to reflect this should come to an end. The moment we live in is archaistic, conservative and irresponsible, for the war is separating culture from life and driving it back on itself, the impetus given by Left Wing politics is for the time exhausted, and however much we should like to have a paper that was revolutionary in opinions or original in technique, it is impossible to do so when there is a certain suspension of judgement and creative activity. The aim of Horizon is to give to writers a place to express themselves, and to readers the best writing we can obtain. . . . [A]nd so Horizon will have political articles, though it will never imitate those journals, in which, like pantomime donkeys, the political front legs kick and entangle the literary hind ones.

-- Cyril Connolly, "Comment," Horizon (Vol. 1, No. 1), January 1940

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lands of Fragrance

"[I]t is scented boxes, perfume sprays, scent bottles, fragrances that M. R. de Montesquiou describes for us, excusing himself, or rather making reference to the words of Goethe: "Everything is deserving of study and verse if one understands how to fully discern it." And, indeed, one can read in these exquisite and brief pages a sort of abridged history of Perfumery, one could say the literary history of Perfumery, which is for us the equal of Rutebeuf's precious quotation about painted ladies: "She is twenty years old in the daytime and fifty at night," and a tender souvenir, in which all true Balzacians will take delight, addressed to one of our most senior perfumiers of the nineteenth century, César Birotteau, the inventor of Sultana's Paste and Carminative Water. There follows a description of the requisites, brushes, pin cushions, needle cases, fragrance-giving rings, boxes of handkerchiefs, to rouge, powder, scent bottles, that attended to the luxury of our ancestors. And no less attend to our own. "I possess the secret of Beauty" proclaims one of them, and it is good that it preserves it, because even if it is no longer beautifying some person it is still beautiful in itself. And from these scented boxes, whose odours have long since departed to become reunited with the roses, perfumed by them, from faces long covered with dust, from these perfume sprays that have not retained "the odour of memory", and above all from these pages, with infinite and profound grace, it seems that something both disturbing and delightful is being given off, yet more immaterial, the "imperishable Perfume" of the Past."


Marcel Proust, from a review of Comte Robert de Montesquiou's
Pays des Aromates, January 1901, trans. Chris Taylor
--posted by kid o.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

memory hole #1

379g2



"We should make more, since we work on vehicles and can get burned, and we have to stand out in the cold and heat," she said. "If you're working 10-hour days in the rain and getting your pants wet and freezing all day, it's not fun."

She acknowledged that the antiunion videos had helped turn her against unionizing.

"I really wish Wal-Mart would become better," she said. "But even if we get a union, it will be a long battle. Wal-Mart doesn't have to agree to anything. The message we got was, 'You're a small bunch of guys, and you can stand out there and strike, and we're going to replace you.' They'll never agree to a contract, out of pure stubbornness. I'm so confused."

Cody Fields, who earns $8.10 an hour after two years, said that he had originally backed the union "because we need a change" but that the videos had been effective. "It's just a bunch of brainwashing," Mr. Fields said, "but it kind of worked."


--"At a Small Shop in Colorado, Wal-Mart Beats a Union Once More," The New York Times, 2/26/05

Friday, February 25, 2005

Who's There?


Porter: Here’s a knocking, indeed! If a man were porter of hell-gate he should have old turning the key. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub?

Shakespeare, Macbeth

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"...just so long as I'm the dictator."


Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

--W.H. Auden, "Epitaph on a Tyrant" (1939)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What is it like to be Bush (#1)?


Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."

Washington Post, April 17 2004

Spleen

I am like the king of a rain-soaked domain
Rich, but impotent, young, yet infirm,
Who disdains his advisors who grovel and bend,
And bores of his hounds, his falcon, his friends.
Nothing can cheer him, neither hunt nor the chase,
Nor his people butchered in front of his face.
His jester recounting a ribald grotesque
Fails to distract this impassive wretch.
Whose fleur-de-lys chamber is more like a tomb,
Where damsels of court, vainly decked in perfume,
Who'd eagerly fawn, and for any prince swoon,
Can’t win a glance from their skeletal king.
The chemist who fashions this tyrant's gold,
Could not extract the impure from his soul.
And even that ritual of the corrupted and old,
The antique spilling of blood in a bowl,
Elicits no warmth from this meagre corpse,
In whose veins the green waters of Death run their course.


Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du Mal
english adaptation: paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

this land is my land

Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
I been hearin' his name all over the land.

Well, what is a Vigilante Man?
Tell me, what is a Vigilante Man?
Has he got a gun and a club in his hand?
Is that a Vigilante Man?

Rainy night down in the engine house,
Sleepin' just as still as a mouse,
Man come along an' he chased us out in the rain.
Was that a Vigilante Man?

Stormy days we passed the time away,
Sleepin' in some good warm place.
Man come along an' we give him a little race.
Was that a Vigilante Man?

Preacher Casey was just a workin' man,
And he said, "Unite all you working men."
Killed him in the river, some strange man.
Was that a Vigilante Man?

Oh, why does a Vigilante Man,
Why does a Vigilante Man
Carry that sawed-off shot-gun in his hand?
Would he shoot his brother and sister down?

I rambled 'round from town to town,
I rambled 'round from town to town,
And they herded us around like a wild herd of cattle.
Was that the Vigilante Men?

Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
I've heard his name all over this land.


--Woody Guthrie, “Vigilante Man”

Orwell #3

The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her--her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that 'It isn't the same for them as it would be for us,' and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was
happening to her--understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.

The Road to Wigan Pier, Chapter One

Monday, February 21, 2005

mind-forg'd manacles

Opposition is true Friendship.

--William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Cartel of Defiance

Cartel of Defiance

the source of every decision that creates
is the individual
it follows that all the world's agitation
is nothing more than a specific question
addressed to me but only articulated within me
at the moment it forces me into action

the believers in a collective we
were mistaken about the individual
the world's contradictions feature
in the fundamental equation of every life
x is an individual, a creative element
an incalculable freedom
man as a man
really is a creator
but a created creator
it's in hope that we are saved
but this hope is true
for time destroys the act
but the act is the judge of time

Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinema, chapter four (a) control of the universe

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Paysage

Landscape

I would, in chastely composing this pastoral anthology,
Sit close to the sky, like an ancient astrologer.
And, neighbour to bellfries, I’d listen and dream
To the sound of their solemn tolls bourne on the breeze.
My hands at my chin, from the peak of my attic,
I’d take in the singing and clanking of workshops below,
The steeples and chimneys, those masts of the city
And the great skies above them, eternity's dream.

How soft to see born, across the fog of the city,
A lamp in a window, a star in the blue,
Or, as rivers of chimney-smoke rise to the heavens,
The pale moon pour out its enchantments beneath.
I'd witness these Springs, these Summers, these Autumns,
And when Winter arrives with gray flakes of snow,
I'd firmly close the drapes and the shutters,
And build fairy-tale Palaces at night ‘gainst the cold.
Dreaming of gardens and bright blue horizons,
Of kisses and tearful white fountains of stone,
Of songbirds who warble at dawn and at dusk,
I’d fashion an Idyll from childhood’s motifs.
The tumult would clatter in vain at my window;
I'd neither startle nor lift my head from my desk.
But stay plunged in the voluptuous task that I’d chosen,
Of evoking the Springtime by sheer force of effort,
Of drawing some Sun from out of my heartache,
Of making, from out of my heated Obsessions,
The balm of a warm puff of smoke.


Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du Mal
english adaptation, paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005

Shout Out


Before I had a chance to protest, I found myself being led by the arm into the kitchen. There I came upon a group of five or six people sitting around the table eating Sunday breakfast. The table was crowded with food: bacon and eggs, a full pot of coffee, bagels and cream cheese, a platter of smoked fish. I had not seen anything like this in months, and I scarcely knew how to react. It was though I had suddenly been put down in the middle of a fairy tale. I was the hungry child who had been lost in the woods, and now I had found the enchanted house, the cottage built of food.

Moon Palace, Paul Auster

Saturday, February 19, 2005

To Arsene Houssaye

My Dear Friend,

I send you a little work of which no one can say, without doing it an injustice, that it has neither head nor tail, since, on the contrary, everything in it is both head and tail, alternately and reciprocally. I beg you to consider how admirably convenient this combination is for all of us, for you, for me, and for the reader. We can cut wherever we please, I my dreaming, you your manuscript, the reader his reading; for I do not keep the reader's restive mind hanging in suspense on the threads of an interminable and superfluous plot. Take away one vertebra and the two ends of this tortuous fantasy come together again without pain. Chop it into numerous pieces and you will see that each one can get along alone. In the hope that there is enough life in some of these segments to please and to amuse you. I take the liberty of dedicating the whole serpent to you.


Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen
trans. Louise Varèse, posted by kid o

Friday, February 18, 2005

emergency broadcast system

Weird Beard said, “I know what you think. You think I’m making it up. I’m not making it up. If it gets from me to you it’s true. We are for real, kids. And this is the question I want to leave with you tonight. Who is for real and who is sent to take notes? You’re out there in the depths of the night, listening in secret, and the reason you’re listening in secret is because you don’t know who to trust except me. We’re the only ones who aren’t them. This narrow little radio band is a route to the troot. I’m not making it up. There are only two things in the world. Things that are true. And things that are truer than true. We need this little private alley where we can meet. Because this is Big D, which stands for Don’t be Dissimilar. Am I coming in all right? Is my signal clear? We’re the sneaky little secret they’re trying to uncover. Do you think I’m making it up? I’m not making it up. Weird Beard says, Eat your cereal with a fork. Do your homework in the dark. And trust your radio before you trust your mother.”

Jack had no idea what the guy was saying. He squeezed a Preludin down his throat. It takes away your procrastination about what to do next.

--Don DeLillo, Libra

Orwell #2

In a country like England, in spite of its class-structure, there does exist a certain cultural unity. All through the Christian ages, and especially since the French Revolution, the Western world has been haunted by the idea of freedom and equality; it is only an idea, but it has penetrated to all ranks of society. The most atrocious injustices, cruelties, lies, snobberies exist everywhere, but there are not many people who can regard these things with the same indifference as, say, a Roman slave-owner. Even the millionaire suffers from a vague sense of guilt, like a dog eating a stolen leg of mutton.
-- "Charles Dickens"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

black ships

27 March 1854

I spared no pains in providing most bountifully for this numerous party, being desirous of giving them some idea of American hospitality in comparison with their portions of fish soup. My Paris cook labored for a week, night and day, in getting up a variety of ornamental dishes which would have done credit to Delmonico of New York...


The chief commissioner Hayashi ate and drank sparingly though tasting of almost everything, but the others proved themselves good trenchermen, Matsuzaki getting gloriously drunk, and the other three quite mellow...


The party on deck was very uproarious, the Japanese taking the lead in proposing toasts and cheering “à l’Anglaise” at the top of their lungs whilst two bands stationed nearby added to the din...


Previous to the dinner hour the commissioners with their attendants visited the Macedonian and saw the crew of that ship at general exercise and also witnessed the movements of the engines of Powhatan, put in motion purposely for their examination. They were saluted by Macedonian, Mississippi, and Saratoga, and after retiring from the table were entertained on deck with the performances of the very excellent corps of Ethiopians belonging to Powhatan. Even the gravity of Hayashi could not withstand the hilarity which this most amusing exhibition excited. He and his coadjutors laughed as merrily as ever the spectators at Christy’s have done. At sunset they all left the ship with quite as much wine as they could well bear. Matsuzaki threw his arms about my neck and repeated in Japanese as interpreted into English: “Nippon and America, all the same heart,” and in his drunken embrace crushed my new epaulettes.


—“Reception on Board the U.S.S. Powhatan,” from The Personal Journal of Commodore Matthew Perry: The Japan Expedition 1852-1854

Zimmerman #1:

(for the bizarrely reemergent Ahmad Chalabi)

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings.
Steal a little and they throw you in jail,
Steal a lot and they make you king.

-- "What's a Sweetheart Like You . . ."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Au Lecteur


To my Reader

Addiction, debauchery, indulgence and vice
Obsessively devour our bodies and minds
And we feed our precious regrets
Like beggars nourish their lice.

Our sins are bold. Our repentances lax.
We pay out our penance with fat wads of cash
Then stubbornly dive down the same dirty path,
Half-believing our sick sobs might wash us clean.

Big Daddy Satan sits on a Pillow of Souls
Devotedly cradling our submissive licks.
Mining the veins of our will and our cravings,
A savvy chemist, he nurses our fix.

It’s the Devil that knows how to tug at our strings,
And though we’re disgusted, we make peace with things.
Calmly and daily past shadows of stink
We take one more step in pursuit of the brink.

Just like that poor junkie who kisses and feeds
At the martyred tit of an elderly whore,
We steal pleasure in treading this passage to Hell,
We squeeze and we suckle, as if working an orange.

Like an army of tapeworms, close-ranked and bright,
Thousands of demons writhe in our skulls.
And when we breathe, like an invisible river,
Death descends muffled overtaking our wails.

If rape, if poison, if a gun or a knife
Have not yet stitched a scar cross our cheek,
Banal canvas of our pitiful lives,
Then it’s sadly because our souls were too weak!

Midst the hookahs, the needles, the pills and the junk
The vials, the emetics, the cheap rooms, the porn
The condoms, the vein-hunting, nose-feeding night
Midst that infamous mob, our monsters of vice

There is one more ugly, more wicked, more unclean
Despite that it makes neither gestures nor screams
It may fashion of Earth but a pile of debris,
Or with one facile gag, it might swallow the sea.

Boredom! Its eye caught in an unwilling tear,
Dreams of the hangman while puffing its pipe.
My reader, you know this delicate beast.
Hypocrite brother, my reflection, my mirror!


Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

english adaptation by paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005

a loaded gun

Alone on the railroad track
I walked with pounding heart.
The ties were too close together
or maybe too far apart.

The scenery was impoverished:
scrub-pine and oak; beyond
its mingled gray-green foliage
I saw the little pond

where the dirty old hermit lives,
lie like an old tear
holding onto its injuries
lucidly year after year.

The hermit shot off his shot-gun
and the tree by his cabin shook.
Over the pond went a ripple
The pet hen went chook-chook.

"Love should be put into action!"
screamed the old hermit.
Across the pond an echo
tried and tried to confirm it.

--Elizabeth Bishop, "Chemin de Fer"

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Orwell #1

There was a new rule that censored portions of a newspaper must not be left blank but filled up with other matter; as a result it was often impossible to tell when something had been cut out.

Homage to Catalonia, Chapter 13

spleen

I have more memories than if I’d a thousand years.

An overstuffed drawer lined with pages and tears
With poems, past due notices, and locks of hair
Hides no more secrets than my sad brain.
A pyramid. A cavern. A mass grave.
I am a cemetery abandoned by the moon
Where remorse, trailing fingers of worms,
Feeds on the beloved of my dead.
I am a bedroom littered with roses
Mothballed with dresses from decades ago
Where only the face on an old magazine
Breathes a living perfume.

Nothing can match those heavy days
When under the weight of snow-filled years
Boredom, that idle fruit
Takes the measure of the infinite.
You are no more than this, my Life,
A stone sculpture beneath a disfiguring wave
Reclining unmapped midst wind-driven sands
A fierce Sphinx forgotten by a too-busy world
Whose throat only sings when the sun turns away.



--Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du Mal

english adaptation: paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005

I am a camera


To-day the sun is brilliantly shining; it is quite mild and warm. I go out for my last morning walk, without an overcoat or hat. The sun shines, and Hitler is the master of this city. The sun shines, and dozens of my friends--my pupils at the Workers' School, the men and women I met at the I.A.H.--are in prison, possibly dead. But it isn't of them that I am thinking--the clear-headed ones, the purposeful, the heroic; they recognized and accepted the risks. I am thinking of poor Rudi, in his absurd Russian blouse. Rudi's make-believe, story-book game has become earnest; the Nazis will play it with him. The Nazis won't laugh at him; they'll take him on trust for what he pretended to be. Perhaps at this very moment he is being tortured to death.

I catch sight of my face in the mirror of a shop, and am shocked to see that I am smiling. You can't help smiling in such beautiful weather. The trams are going up and down the Kleistrasse, just as usual. They, and the people on the pavement, and the teacosy dome of the Nollendorfplatz station have an air of curious familiarity, of striking resemblance to something one remembers as normal and pleasant in the past--like a very good photograph.

No. Even now I can't altogether believe that any of this has really happened...

--Christopher Isherwood, "Goodbye to Berlin"

Man (1938)

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