Book of the World Courant CLXV





Hecatombs and philippix always get me down

Not to mention panagyrix and catacombs


Mais, la gogue, la gogue… (joy, happiness in ancient French), which, passing through à gogo, (in abundance, galore) becomes, for a moment ca. 1964, go-go.

            Bonne Courrèges, mon amour.


Whorl Street


And the relation between Albany and Albania


There’s a bit of Iphigenia in Aul(of)us


East of ontology, west of the moon


It’s a lesson to me

The deltas and the east and the free

The ABCs we all think of

To try and win a little love

            I know the rent is in arrears

The dog has not been fed in years

It’s even worse than it appears

But it’s alright

Cow’s giving kerosene

Kid can’t read at seventeen

The words he knows are all obscene

But it’s alright…

[J. Garcia et al, “Touch of Gray”]


Aid groups… say that some of the 6,000 or so migrants cleared out of Calais in the last 10 days have simply landed in Paris, though the government denies it.

Inside some of the tiny tents, barely big enough for one person, there are small children; outside young men sit, bored and listless, waiting for periodic visits by law enforcement, like one Monday in which the riot police swooped in to check identity papers. [“One Monday”? You’ve only got two, potentially to choose from, given “the last 10 days.”]

The groups said that about 60 Afghans were taken away on Monday. [Monday, Monday!] Those without papers are often hauled off to the police station, and some will be expelled from the country, according to the aid groups.

One Afghan still on the street [!], Abdul Adrim Ze, 26, from Logar Provence in eastern Afghanistan, has learned enough French in the last three months [Hmmm, a bit more than 10 days] in Paris to refer to his unwilling adoptive homeland as “the land of human rights,” just as the French do.

With plenty of time on his hands, Mr. Adrim Ze has been taking advantage of the free French classes offered by the aid group BAAM, the Bureau d’Acueil et d’Accompagnement des Migrants. [How pronounced, BAM or BA-AM?]

“Since we have no work, this is our work,” he said. “France is a great country,” he said, hopefully. “Here, it is democracy.”

Farther up the Avenue de Flandre, a young Sudanese man passed the time tearing up bits of bread outside his tent to feed the pigeons. His neighbor sat in a folding chair as the evening chill settled in.

“It is so difficult here. We have nothing,” said Hassan Khairalah, 33, from the Darfur region in western Sudan. “We must wait for the government. We must wait on our destiny.” [Adam Nossiter, “Evicted from Calais, Migrants Trickle into Paris Camps,” The New York Times, 11/4/16, A23: 1]


Euripides: the truth of people, even when those people are “immortal.”


Man from Glad! Man from Glad!


Bureau d’Acueil et d’Accompagnement des Acronymes [BAAA].


The shoe is on the hand that fits,

There’s really nothing much to it

Whistle through your teeth and spit

‘cause it’s alright

Oh well a touch of grey

Kinda suits you anyway

That was all I had to say

And it’s alright

            We will get by

            We will get by

            We will get by

            We will survive…

[J. Garcia et al, “Touch of Gray”]


Divine right of landlords


Iphigenia among tourists


The accepted form of tragedy may be taken to be that described by Aristotle in his Poetics; and Aristotle based his remarks mainly on the work of Sophocles, and on King Oedipus in particular. A play of this type has a central figure, who must be a person of some distinction and nobility, yet a person endowed with human qualities, perhaps weakness, which appeal to the audience as showing that he is of the same flesh and blood as they.

The character of this central figure is subjected to an ordeal resulting from the combination of circumstances (which must not be strained or improbable) with some defect or excess inherent in its own composition. There follows a revelation, embodied in some dramatic act, of the fundamental goodness or badness of that character (in Shakespearian tragedy it is often a development as well as a revelation); and this act leads to a catastrophe, either utter downfall or death, which is at the same time a statement of the character’s moral relation to the universe…

This dramatic pattern, far from being a Greek monopoly, is of course familiar in plays such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Galsworthy’s Loyalties. Other tragedies of Shakespeare show some of the traditional tragic elements with variations such as the ‘redemption through suffering’ theme at the end of King Lear. In every case the dramatic unity is provided by the ‘tragic hero’, who remains the centre of interest and earns from the audience both sympathy and censure, the former outweighing the latter. The satisfying rightness of such a pattern is self-evident. [Philip Vellacot, trans. “Introduction” to Euripides, Three Plays: Alcestis, Hippolytus, Iphigenia at Taurus. Penguin Books, Ltd.: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1968, pp. 16-17. Paragraphs inserted in original text for legibility.]


The satisfying rightness of such a pattern is self-evident.


The philosophy of life on which they [Euripides’ perceptions with reference to Hippolytus] are based asserts that happiness and suffering alike are indivisible; that their impact on the group is more significant than their impact on the individual, and the true ‘tragic hero’ is humanity; that evil, by the time its activity has gained any noticeable power, is already outside the control of any human agent, is something impersonal, something at the same time sub-human and super-human; in fact, something like one of the Olympian gods. [Ibid., p. 18]


Whatever the nature of that “something like,” by the time it attains visibility, or “any noticeable power,” its power can no longer be controlled by human beings, or even seen as originating in the individual or social acts of human beings. The agency belongs to the gods, when in actuality, we’ve simply transferred our data to The Cloud and no longer recognize it as a manifestation of own action. Whence it can now rain down on us as a seemingly capricious “natural” or godly force.

Vellacot continues, again with regard to Hippolytus: What we are shown is the impersonal power of the cosmic force represented by Aphrodite descending upon a closely-linked group of people and bringing them to a comprehensive disaster. If there is a lesson to be drawn, it is that in a world containing incalculable forces, both of good and evil, a man [sic] can hope to preserve happiness only by the utmost care, humility, patience, and charitableness. [Ibid., p. 19]

Which, taken together, sounds a lot like the contemporary notion, adapted from Buddhism [?] of “mindfulness.”

But do we need to construct a buildout of good and evil from the concept of “incalculable forces?” And must forces perforce be calculable? Isn’t it enough that humility, patience and charitableness are, shorn of their Christian virtues, the trifecta of a harmonious flowing with the Dao? And isn’t one of the things Euripides persistently “says,” is, in essence, rigidity of spirit and behavior leads to untimely disaster, and likely death – both for the individual and the “closely-linked group”? In this light, is not Hippolytus’ rigidity – by which I mean his allegiance to an idea of purity over the love of an actual woman [Phaedra] – from whose body could be born the generative product(s) of their union – an absurd attempt to live outside the Dao? The only, and fatal, cure for which is to displace agency onto a god or gods so as to no longer be able to trace it back to its source within us.

When, at the end of The Trojan Women, Castor and Pollux take the stage amidst a heap of corpses to explain that Helen was never in Troy at all, only an eidolon of her was sufficient to, in Marlowe’s language, launch a thousand ships and burn the topless towers of Ilium, Euripides “reveals” thatthe gods were just mindfucking the mortals… again. But with friends like ourselves, who needs gods?




The more I try to draw like the old masters, the more my spirit and the spirit of my time shine through. The more I emulate Cervantes, Austin or Whitman, the more my pen takes its freedom.


Put your spirit in your belly and your body in your head


Voyages Among the Scarcely Human


And at the end of Iphigenia in Taurus, after Apollo and Artemis fail utterly, it is Athene, who, as joint representative of author and audience who steps in and says, via her action: Enough of sacrifice or murder – call it what you will. Further death and blood flow among these mortals, whether of the most poisoned and perverted, or the wronged-against or innocent serves no purpose.

Can the gods learn?


There is an order of operations: first, step out onto the street. Then, look to see if you’ve been run over.


What was billed as a U.S. presidential election distilled down to a referendum on hard vs. soft strategies of patriarchy, or, if you prefer, male supremacy. The question having been explored indirectly in the most qualified and equivocal way via the trope of race in Obama’s presidency: a physical man, possessing a clearly African bloodline, may serve, symbolically, as a Man. So the majority of the electorate somewhat grudgingly decided, and in this case sex trumped race.

Which opened up the higher order, and even more vexed question of whether a physical woman, given the benefit of considerable masculinist cultural mediation, could be permitted serve as a Man. The deeply paternal-maternal Bernie Sanders, by inclination and training far less patriarchal than Hillary Clinton, initially muddled the question. But we soon saw our way through to the crux, if not the heart, of the matter. At which point our time-honored political machinery produced the two contenders best fitted to enacting the contest we wanted to decide.

All of this remained firmly beneath the level of discourse, and for many people, beyond the threshold of imagination. The a priori never emerged as a question. How, indeed, could it?


Without ever knowing

What sent the blood flowing


And then, Chelsea Manning, aligned in some perhaps not entirely superficial respects more closely with Melania than Hillary.


I saw her today at the reception…




To allow what we know to develop into the language of thought. This is both a courageous form of psychoanalysis, and a rare species of gong fu.






Pretending to be old school

But just old
























6 BEATS 9!