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Where I would be going this weekend, if not living on different continent: James Joyce archive at the Poetry Collection, University of Buffalo:
UB Anderson Gallery
Discovering James Joyce
The University of Buffalo Collection
The world’s the most distinguished James Joyce Collection resides in the Poetry Collection of the University at Buffalo. The archive is comprised of ten thousand worksheets, notebooks, letters, and scraps of significant notes. It also contains photographs, portraits, books from Joyce’s library, his personal items, first editions, inscribed copies and hundreds of ephemeral items. This exhibition is intended as a means of sharing this remarkable Joyce archive with the general public, the academic community and Joyce scholars. Designed to highlight the scope and variety of significant Joyce archival materials at the Poetry Collection and to reveal some of its most unique facets, Discovering James Joyce features items that have heretofore not received wide exposure. The exhibition has been divided into sections, each highlighting a different strength of the UB Joyce archive.
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There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
An anecdote from the beginning of David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon college. Had recently looked for it on web and now coincidentally Blinde Schildpad was reading it a few days ago, so hallelujah.
Sadly ironic and foreboding that in his speech Wallace talks about people blowing their heads off only three years before committing suicide himself… no wonder he was fascinated enough with infinity to have written a book about its history. And in his speech characterizes many people’s default setting as ‘the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.’
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
‘This is water.’
‘This is water.’
(Teeth-grindingly do not know how to get rid of this automatically formatted double-spacing)
– — –
Nul heeft twee lieflijke, klein wenkbrauwen,
een sterrenstelsel waardig.
Nul is wat niet zichtbaar of denkbaar is.
Nul is het spoorloze rijk van de liefde.
Nul is de hoeder van verdwenen sokken en spelden.
Nul is die jongen op school die je je niet herinnert,
naast je zittend, slapend. Nul is het sleutelgat
waarachter waarheden zich omkleden. Nul is
het schrikbeeld van wetenschappers,
zakenlui en kranten. Nul kent geen beursgang,
hoeft geen vijandige overnames
te vrezen. Nul is het brood der eendjes
die vastriezen. Nul is het pootje haken
van gevolgtrekkingen door conclusies. Nul is een lege not
in de onkraakbare partituur. Nul is zwanen, violen,
violen, zwanen. Nul is heel mooi.
Nul is een miskend orakel voor lui
die niks in de gaten hebben. Mensen als jij.
Mensen die poëzie lezen. Nul is erg goedkoop
Zero has two cute, small eyebrows
worthy of a galaxy.
Zero is what is not visible or thinkable.
Zero is the traceless realm of love.
Zero is the keeper of vanished socks and pins.
Zero is that boy at school who you do not remember,
sitting next to you, sleeping. Zero is the keyhole
behind which truths change clothes. Zero is
the nightmare of scientists,
business people and newspapers. Zero knows no stock exchange,
needs fear no hostile takeovers.
Zero is the bread of ducks
that freeze stuck. Zero is the tripping up
of QED. Zero is an empty nut
in the uncrackable tablature. Zero is swans, violins,
violins, swans. Zero is very beautiful.
Zero is an unrecognized oracle for people
clueless. People like you.
People who read poetry. Zero is very cheap.
When at some point I’ve actually read Graham Harman (Prince of Networks, Tool Being) it would be worthwhile to see how his concepts relate to / lend themselves as tools of analysis for Zukofsky’s Objectivism, Olson’s Projectivism / ‘objectism’. Not to mention a recent article about contemporary poetry in the Boston Review, by Stephen Burt who signals a return to the thing (object), i.e. The New Thing.
Perusing some very readable essays by Henri Bergson, The creative mind: an introduction to metaphysics. Thinking immanence through space:
Reality, as immediately perceived, is fullness constantly swelling out, to which emptiness is unknown. It has extension just as it has duration; but this concrete extent is not the infinite and infinitely divisible space the intellect takes as a place in which to build. Concrete space has been extracted from things. They are not in it; it is space which is in them. Only, as soon as our thought reasons about reality, it makes space a receptacle.