Saturday, July 26, 2008

sure, van

"Nothing's the matter!"

Van Heflin and Janet Leigh. Act of Violence. 1948.

an unfortunate sentence

What are the central prongs within a Christian spirituality of sexuality?
Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Leave us with a recipe for poetry.

With compassion, and while remaining truthful to yourself and life, write what actually goes actually goes through your mind. Mutter musically. Don’t impress.
Nick Piombino at men of the web wide poetry world

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

postmodern pastoral

I'm drawn to pastoral as one of the oldest literary modes of mapping, which is simultaneously a troubling of the territory: where does nature end and culture begin? And as I immerse myself more deeply in ecocriticism I recognize its attempts to think space, place, and history in a fresh way. Struck by the mutual hostility and incomprehension of mainstream ecocritics and postmodernists, and by the similarity of their projects: deep ecology, which seems to be the most influential ecocritical impulse (versus the shallowness of "environmentalism" as just another attempt to manage nature), takes a post- or anti-humanist stance that Foucault might recognize in its decentering of the human subject. The difference is that Foucault, et al, would say that there is only discourse (il n'y a pas hors de texte) and the power relations that generate and situate subjects, whereas the deep ecologists privilege the nonhuman and in their more enthusiastic moments claim the nonhuman as a kind of ur-discourse (mystical, scientific, or both) through which we can access reality directly. I'm too far gone in postmodernism to go there: I think all our claims about nature are saturated in ideology, even and especially when they're made in scientific language. The virtue of pastoral is the transparency of its relation to ideology, and a properly postmodern pastoral will deconstruct its own claims about nature while its powerful affect remains intact.
Joshua Corey, "Poetry as Navigation"

Monday, July 21, 2008

truth content?

Modernity is ancient history by now, modernism only slightly less agèd, yet we have come up with nothing to replace or succeed either one, just variants of the "post." We are still struggling toward a poetic language of the city as neither exotic wonderland nor demonic nightmare, a language that embraces those real conditions and relations, those profane cityscapes stripped of what Benjamin calls aura. The challenge is to find a vocabulary and a syntax for the city that isn't simply a reiteration or ventriloquization of the language of prose, but a specifically poetic language that can encompass, embody, and enact the chiming and clashing textures of the city. The city's resistance to our reified, ossified poetic dialects also provides some resistance to the rhetorical "cheating" that often goes on when people write about "nature." As Baudelaire wrote almost a hundred and fifty years ago, modern life demands a new language. And more recently, Theodor Adorno has pointed out that "Nature poetry is passé not only because it is losing its subject matter, but also because its truth content is vanishing."
Reginald Shepherd, "Toward an Urban Pastoral". Orpheus in the Bronx, 2007.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


To belong to a church is to be loyal to many things, not just to one thing. A healthy member of a church community does not pick, in an either/or fashion, between having boundaries or emphasizing freedom, between believing in defined doctrines or emphasizing individual conscience, between the gift of legitimate institutionalized authority or the importance of individual charisma, between the needs of the local community and the needs of the larger universal church, between what the gifted artist brings to the community and what the poorest of the poor brings, between liberal and conservative, between old and new, or even between what is being said by those church members who are alive and those others who have died but with whom we are still in vital communion. To be a member of a church is not to choose among these. It is to choose them all. Like our God in heaven, we too need a heart with many rooms. The true mark of church is wide loyalties.
Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

A Path

The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.
Wendell Berry, "A Native Hill" from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Norman Wirzba, editor. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2002.