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a series of fragments & notes about Chance, Fate, and Context by Dara Wier


Here is Walter Benjamin (yes, that one) saying this about reading:

For a week you were wholly given up to the soft drift of the text that surrounded you as secretly, densely, and unceasingly as snowflakes.  You entered it with limitless trust.  The peacefulness of the book, that enticed you further and further!  [...To the child] the hero’s adventures can still be read in the swirl of letters like figures and messages in the drifting snowflakes.  His breath is part of the air of the events narrated, and all the participants breathe with his life.  He mingles with the characters far more closely than grown-ups do.  He is unspeakably touched by the deeds, the words that are exchanged, and, when he gets up, is blanched over and over by the snow of his reading.

(ONE WAY STREET AND OTHER WRITING, translated by Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter, NLB, 1979)


Our chief want in life, is, somebody who shall make us do what we can. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, (1803-1882)


this Emerson sentence above, really surprises me, though I gather the “somebody” could be anybody including one’s self, and I guess must suggest someone doing something for someone, doing something out of love, or a wish for someone to be pleased with you (or more) on account of what you do, serving as inspiration and inducement


Here is something from Jean Braudrillard’s 1968, THE SYSTEM OF OBJECTS

The degree to which a machine approaches perfection is thus everywhere presented as proportional to its degree of automatism.  The fact is, however, that automating machines means sacrificing a very great deal of potential functionality.  In order to automate a practical object it is necessary to stereotype it in its function, thus making it more fragile.  Far from having any intrinsic technical advantages, automatism always embodies the risk of arresting technical advance, for so long as an object has not been automated it remains susceptible of redesign, of self-transcendence through incorporation into a larger functional whole.  When it becomes automatic, on the other hand, its function is fulfilled, certainly, but is also hermetically sealed.  Automatism amounts to a closing-off, to a sort of functional self-sufficiency which exiles man to the irresponsibility of a mere spectator.  Contained within it is the dream of a dominated world…………


Automatism hopes to avoid chance, contingency, coincidence, incorporation of “mistakes”, and much else.


I think when someone says “and the astute reader knows this” someone is talking about the unspoken understanding writers have with writing and with anyone who’s reading.

And I agree whole-heartedly about emotional truth, which is really another way of indicating, hey, anyone out there reading this, I respect and count on you, I thank you, I appreciate you, I rely on you, and so on.  It is your brain I’m relying on to read this.  It sems so self-evident.

(and I am not pulling the wool over your eyes, or condescending to you, or having one over on you (is that a phrase???? oh my god) or otherwise keeping from you my true feelings about you or this piece of writing), and, yes, in fact I am thinking about you, I rely on you, I thank you for lending me your brain for this while, without you once I’m done writing something, it is pretty much done unless or until someone else, not me, reads it.


Now this conversation also  opens up a whole other can of worms.  What about the emotional extortionists out there……you know the ones…….they routinely dupe others…….ahhhhh but they do know something about human nature and its willingness to be duped or fooled or tricked or played with or befuddled and mystified.

(see Andy Kaufman quoted in inside undivided #13) (my first book begins with a little epigraph anecdote that REALLY HAPPENED, one of the first poetry readings I ever attended included the poet’s introducing his parents who were in the audience; the poet then read poems about his brother’s suicide; it was excruciatingly awkward and difficult to listen to the poems after the poet’s introduction of his parents, I don’t think necessarily the poet was cynically extorting emotion, the poems were almost too naive to bear that……I don’t know, this is what this is, an incident, a curious incident that taught me something I can’t completely articulate)


I respect a magician, an illusionist, an impersonator, (but probably not an imposter), maybe certain hoax perpetrators; I respect sleight of hand and drawing and paintings’ illusions of so many kinds, though there scale alone tips the balance & corrects any misunderstanding (whether magnified or miniaturized).

It’s said over and over and over again how and why and when INTENTION is inconsequential.  I don’t think so.  I get why this is said.  I get the warning saying it intends.  I get how, in fact, saying this says that beyond intention (one’s intended) there comes a judgment, and other means by which value is assigned.


Serendipitous encounter with Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language installed in a hallway and alcove at MOMA.  We were going to see Cindy Sherman show and did see it, nice and early in the morning and from back to front so the rooms were empty up until the very end.  I’m crowd-o-phobic so ways to avoid crowded gallery rooms economize on xanax.  Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language shows letters and words behaving as material objects. It is like being in a seriously well made series of places or spaces in which letters and words get to be themselves.


Here is something from there:  from Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language.

Organized by Laura Hoptman, assisted by Eleonore Hugendubel

We really liked spending some time in this collection’s gatherings.


El Lissitzky:


in what circumstances is meaninglessness possible?  (this has nothing to do with above show, in fact EcstaticAlphabets/Heaps of Language seemed all about meaning.  As in something along the lines of:  I mean what I say.  I meant to say what I said.  I mean, I mean to mean that.  There, now that word’s transforming beyond this moment’s understanding)


pronouns prompted by a remark by Lesle Lewis  (Alice James:  lie down too; Landscapes I & II; Small Boat), Lewis remarked how she is suspicious of you no, no, maybe it was it she was suspicous of, I am partial to listening to what Lewis is thinking about.  I thought these things:

you I’ve always been partial to (because probably my original association with it is as it’s used vernacularly, as in when we talk like this:  you know, you go to the grocery store, your car breaks down, you can’t find a ride, you deal with it  (it is a substitute for the more elegant one).  (one deals with it)

My family (this family is my old family back in Louisiana) talk has an odd verbal habit. My family often and typically refers to itself as they.  As in, go see if they have any milk in the icebox.  “They” so strange.  Also in south Louisiana talk there is a tic, a habit, that goes like this:

Me, me, me I’m going to get me some of that milk, me.    (me is used so much as an amplifier, repeating modifier of a musical kind)  I’ve always loved the me that comes at the end of the sentences.  I like that, me. it, first of all comes to mind:  Simic’s poem all abut it in RETURN TO A ROOM LIT BY A GLASS OF MILK, (the poem is called The Point, check it out.  I love all pronouns, I do.  They are strange little words and they do strange big and little things.

Here is what I think they do:  they say to us:  hey you, you know what I’m standing in for, your brain can do that switch, hurrah for your brain, look at that, your brain can do that.  Ha.  Pronouns should get a whole lot more credit than they get, they are workhorse words, look at them, they do almost anything.for us.

Maybe another thing to think about are the verb pronouns:













I can’t help but like thinking that those words function in some (not explicitly but interestingly) ways similarly to words like, what, that, these, those, and all.

And then there are the nouns, like for instance thing.  It stands in all the time for so many things.

Maybe I think articles are more problematic!  (handling articles involves such delicate operations)



Faithful pareidolia  eastern standard time

to practice it faithfully, to make a practice of it, to see what it, that, shows, does, is






does any of this have anything to do with our current political situation, ah, to call it a situation is fraught