how can i express the relationship between the interior and the exterior, the mutual constitution of the two, the folds of the self?

i love roussel's idea of using parentheses (within parentheses (within parentheses)) in a story to convey the complexity of a situation or an idea or a person.  ah, grammatical possibilities!

red canna by georgia o'keefe


it was so snowy and magical last night that i couldn't sleep, so i sat in the dark living room drinking hot chocoate at 430 this morning.  when i crawled back into bed after 5, i sat and listened to the wintry morning.  birds chirpped softly.  no cars passed by on our normally busy street.  silent.

then, from directly in front of our house, as loud and clear and confident as a radio, an old man sang the most soulful rendition of bob seger's turn the page i've ever heard. 

he stayed and sung for a minute or so, as if he was singing directly to me, transfixed in my bed, then he continued on down the street.  his powerful voice faded and i fell into a cozy slumber.



one day humanity will play with law just as children play with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but to free them from it for good.  what is found after the law is not a more proper and original use value that precedes the law, but a new use that is born only after it.  and use, which has been contaminated by law, must also be freed from its own value.  this liberation is the task of study, or of play.  and this studious play is the passage that allows us to arrive at that justice that one of benjamin's posthumous fragments defines as a state of the world in which the world appears as a good that absolutely cannot be appropriated or made juridical.

giorgio agamben


pleasures lie thickest where no pleasures seem:
there's not a leaf that falls upon the ground
but holds some joy of silence or of sound,
some spirits begotten of a summer dream.

laman blanchard


the proper name (nom propre) does not designate an individual: it is on the contrary when the individual opens up to the multiplicities pervading him or her, at the outcome of the most severe operation of depersonalization, that he or she acquires his or her true proper name.  the proper name is the instantaneous apprehension of a multiplicity.  the proper name is the subject of a pure infinitive comprehended as such in a field of intensity.  what proust said about the first name: when i said gilberte's name, i had the impression that i was holding her entire body naked in my mouth.  the wolf-man, a true proper name, an intimate first name linked to the becomings, infinitives, and intensities of a multiplied and depersonalized individual.  what does psychoanalysis know about multiplication?  the desert hour when the dromedary becomes a thousand dromedaries snickering in the sky.  the evening hour when a thousand holes appear on the surface of the earth.  castration!  castration!  cries the psychoanalytic scarecrow, who never saw more than a hole, a father, or a dog where wolves are, a domesticated individual where there are wild multiplicities.

deleuze, as crazy as you are, lets be together forever.
(diagram by marc ngui)


there is freedom within, there is freedom without
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
there's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
but you'll never see the end of the road
while you're travelling with me

hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over
hey now, hey now, when the world comes in
they come, they come, to build a wall between us
we know they won't win


does academia crush creativity?

if we think of truth as foucault suggests, it is a product of the procedure that establishes it.  we have certain conceptions of truth that are acceptable, even in academia.  there are competing 'truths' in the academy to be sure, but those truths are still limited to the range of acceptable truths that emerge from the forms of power that are 'fixed' by the academic institution.  academia is training, whether we want to think of it as 'radical' or not.  academics are reproduced.  even what we call 'radicalism' or 'resistance' is formed in a particular context that that defines what is radical and what is not. 

is there room for creativity here?  is there a place for someone that wants to do it all, without drawing connections or perhaps drawing tenuous and sometimes ridiculous ones?  i am forced to produce things that fit a certain mold.  my creativity is suffocating under a blanket of obligations, established epistemologies, imposing academic figures.  i was told once that academics don't really produce any new way of looking at the world.  we are supposed to stand on the shoulders of giants--we aren't expected to become giants ourselves.  more importantly, we are still expected to acknowledge the existence and importance of 'giants.' 

somtimes i like to think about what the academy would look like if we truly valued creativity and new ways of thinking about things.  what if we were all artists instead?  what if research was really an art?



but what a strange lesson in geography i was given!  guillaumet did not teach spain to me, but made the country my friend....  the details that we drew up from oblivion, from their inconceivable remoteness, no geographer had been concerned to explore.  because it washed the banks of great cities, the ebro river was of interest to map-makers.  but what they to do with that brook running secretly through the water-weeds to the west of motril, that brook nourishing a mere score or two of flowers?

"careful of that brook: it breaks up the whole field.  mark it on your map."  ah, i was to remember that serpent in the grass near motril!...  And those thirty valorous sheep ready to charge me on the slope of a hill!

little by little, under the lamp, the spain of my map became a sort of fairyland.  the crosses i marked to indicate safety zones and traps were so many buoys and beacons.  i charted the farmer, the thirty sheep, the brook.  and, exactly where she stood, i set a bouy to mark the shepardess forgotten by the geographers.

antoine de saint-exupery


on this fifth anniversary of the landfall of hurricane katrina, i am remembering something that joe and i saw on our extended roadtrip a few months ago.  neither of us had been to new orleans before, so i'm not sure what it looked like "before."  if there is anything beautiful to have come out of that disaster, it would have to be something small, something everyday.  right off the highway, at an exit for the french quarter, was a giant playground built in an old and decrepit part of town next to the exit ramp.  the playground was piecemeal, constructed of random plastic playground equipment, presumably after the flooding of katrina when people obtained what they needed from the abandoned businesses.  it was a jungle of a playground, with ropes and trees and plastic in a jumble a few stories tall.  i wish i played on it or at least took a picture...


dionysus, the greek god of wine and ecstasy, also known as bacchus to the romans, led a wine cult in which the intoxicant was consumed to bring about higher levels of consciousness.  groups of people, drunk and in fits of extreme joy, would travel around the greek countryside, laughing, singing, and playing music.  dionysus represented liberation--from the mind, from the trivialities of life, from a person's oppressed societal status.  the women that participated in the dionysian rites were empowered beyond that which they experienced in everyday greek life.  he was also a blend of masuline and feminine, representing one who transcends those categories.  the freedom and transcendental knowledge that emerged was seen as a threat to society by many greek rulers.  they were unsuccessful in the control of the religion and it spread throughout the greek isles before it declined in the roman era.  the term "bacchanalia" was derived from his roman name, now meaning a sort of drunken revelry, lacking the social and spiritual meanings of the festivities.


there was a rambunctious little boy running around the thrift store, throwing himself into the racks of clothes, falling onto the tile file, while his father sifted through hundreds of shirts.  i noticed the kid because he was irritatingly loud, but i tried to cut him some slack because kids are kids.  i browsed the books, then went to the other side of the large room, far enough to not hear the little boy yelling and throwing things.

i circled back around toward the toy section and there was the hyper child, digging erratically and destructively through the discarded dolls and action figures.  his manner was so careless, but who could blame him?  he was maybe seven years old and still had a lifetime of learning ahead of him.  parents probably expect too much of their children at that age--they have to figure things out on their own.  hopefully, they will. 

next to him was a little girl, about the same age.  she was mousy, a little round thing, with a dull brown pageboy haircut and wire frame glasses.  she was the polar opposite of the boy.  she was not saying a word, just gently looking through the toys, trying to avoid the objects being thrown toward her by the little boy. 

all of this i saw sort of indirectly--i wasn't really paying attention at all, just sort of lazily noticing whatever happened around me. 

then, the little girl picks up a clown doll, something that looks like it was made in the early 80s, with a hard, cloth covered face and a soft doll body dressed in half-white, half-gold lame.  it had no eyes left from years of use.

the little boy saw the doll and yelled, 'ew, that's ugly' and then snatched it from her hand and threw it back at the toy pile.  the quiet, soft-spoken little child, looking at the clown, then said, 'no its not' and lifted it very delicately from the toys.  the boy sort of shrugged and ran off to find his dad. 

it made me smile to see her take up for the doll for some reason.  maybe it was because, when i was her age, i thought that all things had feelings, including dolls.  i would try to spend equal amounts of time with each of my stuffed animals so that they wouldn't get jealous of each other.  i played with every barbie when i visited my friend's house, even if it was for just a minute, so that no toy was neglected.  i didn't want my toys to get dirty or torn because it might hurt or humiliate them.  i never talked about it--i just did it.  i'm not entirely sure that those feelings ever truly disappeared, because i still have a bag of stuffed animals that i can't bring myself to gt rid of, because what would happen to them?  how would that make them feel, to be loved for so long then tossed away when i think i'm too good for them?

i remembered all of these feelings watching this mousy little girl demonstrate empathy and compassion for an eyeless and smudged clown.  what was most amazing to me, however, was when she would up the crank on its back the entire way and played its music the whole way through, standing silently in front of it, until it was done.  then she placed it gently back into the toy bin and walked away.  i lost it.  i ran out to the car and bawled.  i still can't exactly explain the feeling, but it was overwhelming and i think it was good.


"improv everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places."  one of their pranks was featured on the first episode of this american life.  check out their website for other acts of awesomeness:   http://improveverywhere.com/


empty playground, bottomless lakes state park, new mexico
stark white sand dunes, white sands national monument, new mexico
immaculate conception catholic church, ajo, arizona
radiating love from the bouldertops, joshua tree national park, california
idyllic sunset, three rivers, california
sea lions in the city, san francisco's pier 39, california
riding bikes in death valley national park, california
butterfly and flower umbrellas, las vegas, nevada


verlan (fr. n.):  an underground language game that transposes syllables within a word to create a somewhat standardized slang language frequently used by youth in france to communicate in secret in front of parents, the police, etc. it is also popular amongst musicians, such as hip-hop artists, for this same reason.  because there are generally accepted verlan words, the use of verlan is used to indentify a user as a member of a social group--that of rebellious urban youths.

flic (cop) = keufli, now keuf
pourri (crooked cop) = ripou
mechant (mean) = chanme
choper (to score sex or drugs) = pecho
shit (hash) = teuchi, now teuch

other countries have similar "secret" langauges, such as satrovacki (a south slavic slang created by criminals to use in front of police and now used by urban youth in places like belgrade and sarajevo) and backslang (used in several english-speaking countries).


late winter trees on the ochlockonee river, florida
chilly day at bald point, florida
exploring a fire tower, lake valentine, louisiana
boats under the city, san antonio riverwalk, texas

wading in the rio grande, big bend national park, texas

late afternoon, big bend national park, texas
 litter art, guadalupe mountains national park, new mexico
teeter-tottering in a dust storm, brantley lake state park, new mexico


revolutionary dreams, by nikki giovanni

i used to dream militant dreams
of taking over america to show
these white folks
how it should be done

i used to dream radical dreams
of blowing everyone away
with my perceptive powers
of correct analysis

i even used to think i’d be the one
to stop the riot and
negotiate the peace

then i awoke and dug
that if i dreamed natural
dreams of being a natural
woman doing what a woman
does when she’s natural

i would have a revolution.

(reblogged from lazz @ tumblr)


you fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong.  you might get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home and tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again.  since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception.  and yet what are we to do with about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims?  is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day?  the fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway.  it's getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful consideration, getting them wrong again.  that's how we know we're alive: we're wrong.  maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride.  but if you can do that--well, lucky you.

philip roth in american pastoral


you know life is good when you see a middle-aged black man driving a riding lawnmower shirtless down a busy four-lane street casually drinking a slushee he got via the drive-thru window. 

oh lexington and your laid-back, farmboy-turned-urbanite lifestyle, i want to make love to your front porch conversations, afternoon showers, and endless swarms of fireflies all summer long.


by keith althaus

rough birds
fit this field,
starlings and crows,
their blue-black wings
against the sheen
of the week-old snow
and the metallic
stubble of corn.
the sun behind
a squirrel's nest,
an eclipse
unnoticed in the rest
of the world,
sends no one
into panic, an omen
of nothing to come.
observe one gray
displace another.
this day in history
a mouse was caught
in a drainage ditch,
you hurt your arm,
at night the stars
came out.

(photo by sam abell)


my mind's such a sweet thing
i wanna do everything
what a beautiful feeling
crimson and clover
over and over

tommy james and the shondells


that beautiful season ... the summer of all-saints! filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
henry wadsworth longfellow

('sinead' by karen inderbitzen-waller)


freedom is actually a bigger game than power.  power is about what you can control.  freedom is about what you can unleash

harriet rubin

there is a block in the center of downtown lexington, just a short walk from my new house, that is nothing but a green field surrounded by horse fencing.  when i first saw it, i thought it was a nice public green space for romantic picnics, blowing bubbles, or chess games.  i learned that it is actually a semi-failed development project that lost its funding to build another four-star hotel/business lounge/million dollar condo combination.  the company bulldozed a block of local businesses--including the most popular music venue--to build this new development and it has yet to do anything with the land.  because the construction company still owns the land, it is a big, beautiful grassy field that is off limits to the public.  tresspassers are imediately chased out by security.

there was much outrage about the development, the destruction of several popular downtown businesses (and possibly the destruction of the downtown period), as well as the policing of the area.  so, in response, people organized kickball games.  though the games are only brief before the players are kicked off the field by security, i think this is a perfect example of proactive (rather than reactive) politics.  we can create the world we want to live in.  we can take something ugly, like an off-limits development zone, and turn it into something much better, if only for a brief moment.  we can reclaim space and we can experience life (freedom, happiness) in those moments, in those spaces.

the picture above is from the big snowfall this year.  people walking around downtown decided to ignore the no tresspassing orders and have themselves a snowball fight.  glorious.  for a link to an article about the fight (as well as a link to the source of this picture), click here: http://noclexington.com/?p=24


can you imagine living during this time, when centuries of repression suddenly had an outlet in music? people just seemed to explode. the best part of this video is after 2:19 when people just start throwing their clothes off and moving their bodies in whatever way they felt. i love it.


prisoners deserve ice cream too.  this blog was actually inspired by a similar story i saw on the news one day about a group of people that took ice cream to a prison (in arizona i believe).  the video showed worn and dirty prisoners laughing and eating ice cream and it brought tears to my eyes.  beauty can be found in even the darkest places.  i've been searching for that video since the start of this blog, but this is the closest i could find.


the easiest way to reclaim the beauty of our childhood is to play outside. 

sunshine + sweat + freedom = happiness

[edit: 3/13/2015: i have no idea what picture i had originally chosen for this post.  i have deleted the long-broken pic (which was probably a piece of blurry 1970s nostalgia, with kids playing in the sun) to a modern--and more real--photo of kids playing with a bat and ball in a houston housing project.  i accidentally discovered the photo through some sort of internet image search, and it turns out it goes to this fascinating article on reenvisioning public housing called 'the beautiful project.'  about one complex called thair xuan village, the article cites josh harkinson in the houston press:
any sidewalk between any two buildings leads into a valley of microfarms crammed with herbs and vegetables that would confound most american botanists.  entire front yards are given over to choy greens.  mature papaya trees dangle green fruit overhead, and vines sagging with wrinkled or spiky melons climb trellises up second-story balconies.  perfumed night jasmine stretches for light alongside trees heavy with satsumas, limes, and calamondins.  where the soil ends, vietnamese mints and peppers sprout out of anything that will contain roots .... 
i like to think of all of the beautiful memories that children make growing up, no matter where they grow up.  i remember the dogwood trees in bloom in the retention area next to our house growing up.  they were the most beautiful and magical thing to me--no matter where they were.  we played so many games of explorer and make-believe under those trees.  same with the kids growing up in the houston projects, i bet.]

i read a story in the newspaper today that gave me hope for the future.  a 16-year old australian girl sailed around the world--without stops and all by herself--battling a number of storms and dangers along the way.  her pink yacht named ella's pink lady--pictured above--traveled from sydney, up over the equator in the pacific, under the tips of south america and africa, and into the indian ocean before returning to sydney.  upon her return to australia, she told of forty foot waves and boat rollovers, as well as a complete silence that few people ever experience. 



hugs are the foundation of any truly civilized society


being in the desert makes you more acutely aware of the moon and its phases.  you are often dozens of miles from the closest town and that town is probably very small, meaning the light pollution is minimal.  the march full moon is tomorrow, which will light up the desert like an overhead LED, but we've been able to see pretty clearly for several days now.  the harshness of the desert is softened by moonlight, and everything takes on a calming, pale blue hue.  though many desert animals are nocturnal--an adaptation to life in the scorching hot chihuhuan desert through which we're traveling--the presence of animals at night is somehow less menacing.  as i was lying in the covers, staring at the moonlit landscape around me, i became very sad.  people have become so used to artificial light that they often don't get to experience a place in natural lighting.  the dark becomes a scary place that we feel we must tame with lights.  i have always been afraid of the dark and the things that creep around in it, but at night here in the desert, i feel like i have a place in the landscape.


according to quantum mechanics there is no such thing as objectivity.  we cannot eliminate ourselves from the picture.  we are a part of nature, and when we study nature there is no way around the fact that nature is studying itself.  physics has become a branch of psychology, or perhaps the other way around.

carl jung, the swiss psychologist, wrote:
the psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fatethat is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner contradictions, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposite halves
jung's friend, the nobel-prize winning physicist, wolfgang pauli, put it this way:
from an inner center the psyche seems to move outward, in the sense of an extraversion, into the physical world
if these men are correct, then physics is the study of the structure of consciousness.

gary zukav


there is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. and such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.

jack london


masuru emoto has become notorious for his experiments involving water crystals. he states that water exposed to positive thoughts take a more aesthetic formation, whereas the crystals are more erratic and jagged when exposed to negative thoughts. the picture above shows water exposed the the picture of a cherry blossom. i am a skeptic, but it does bring up some interesting questions:
what is the power of intent in language?
does the picture of a cherry blossom have a positive connotation because of the positive energy that went into creating the picture?
does it have a positive effect on the development of water crystals because the person observing the water has a positive thought about the picture?
can the human mind affect our surroundings more than we realize?
if the development of the water is being mistakenly attributed to positive and negative constructs of the human mind (a cherry blossom is "positive," pollution is "negative"), how do we explain emoto's beautiful pictures? chance?


a nos­tal­gic drive through one man's mem­o­ry
[edit 3/13/2015: this video hasn't existed for a long time now.  it was a 8mm film that showed dusty clips of an old man's childhood from his perspective driving past home now.  it had blips of the sun coming through the trees, people waving.  i think this would be a beautiful project--revisiting the places you remember growing up with a camera.]


the spiraling flights of moths appear haphazard only because the mechanisms of olfactory tracking are so different from our own. using binocular vision, we judge the location of an object by comparing the images from two eyes and tracking directly toward the stimulus. but for species relying on the sense of smell, the organism compares points in space, moves in the direction of the greater concentration, then compares two more points successively, moving in zigzags toward the source. using olfactory navigation the moth detects currents of scent in the air and, by small increments, discovers how to move upstream.

barbara kingsolver