Book of the World Courant CLXVIII





Condo. Kongo.



He’s a tweet fightin’ man – just what people want. [Salena Zito, New York Post, 11/22/16, p.6]


And Ba Gua round the corner on 21st amidst a canticle of birds. One voice above the rest: Cheap, Cheap! Black Friday is coming! Life is cheap!


He tweets and in tweeting doth wring the withers of a multitude.

I’m With Her [archaic]

Withers: the highest part of a horse, cow or sheep’s back at the base of the neck above the shoulders, derived from Old English “against, contrary.” Withers the part of the animals flesh that comes in contact with, and is impinged on by the collar, yoke or other form of restraint. Wherefore it stirs one emotions or sensibilities.

And then, the play within the spectacle:

CLAUDIUS: What do you call the play?

HAMLET: The Mousetrap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke’s name, his wife Baptista. You shall see anon. ‘Tis a knavish piece of work, but what o’ that? Your majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung. [Act 3, Scene 2]


Brexeunt omnes


November 24, 2016

Dear Wolfgang — I went to bed around 10:30, reasonably sure that Trump had won it, and you are correct, I did not join in the public rending of garments.

The next morning, though, I was surrounded by people who had the air of having lost their best friend – and perhaps the death they were morning (without necessarily having read Habermas) was of the Habermasian ideal of discourse. I encountered a number of people openly weeping – such was the emotional impact of what had happened upon them.

When I ran into people I knew who immediately gave me their “sad clown” face, and apparently expected me to reciprocate, I oddly felt like laughing. When a stunned friend asked: “What do we do now?” I said, “Keep breathing.”

That first day, and moreso the next, a number of folks I spoke with, while freaked out, nonetheless said, more or less, that they felt strangely energized.

I don’t really have a present understanding of things. That’s one quality of the moment I am relishing. I really, truly, have no idea of what to expect. What I do think is that Trump – and by that I mean the social energies manifest in his singularity – is what they call in science a “system disrupter.” You really can’t control the ramifications once they’ve been set in motion. Regular strategies don’t work. So, and for me here’s the potential “silver lining”: something new has to evolve on all fronts. Radical change, I don’t think, is univalent.


Fuck Alberti – let’s dance!


From Ned Sublette, sent early in the a.m., Saturday after Thanksgiving:

I’m in Havana… in La Tropical, dancing to Revé y Su Charangón, when suddenly the band stopped in mid-number.

The announcer came on stage and said: fuerza mayor. Tenemos que suspender la actividad. Murió Fidel Castro.

There was no audible response. Just quiet. Any Cuban in the audience younger than me has never known any other reality. I stood there with my mouth open, a woman came up to me and pushed my jaw shut.

I quickly got my group back to our hotel in taxis. The driver hadn’t heard the news, so I broke it to him. He said, no me digas eso. No me digas eso. Yo soy fidelista.

His remains will be cremated, says Radio Reloj.

I haven’t been out in the street yet.


Pasa una época.




The scaffold will not hold


Theophany: q.v. Rubens’ Death of Semele, caused by the appearance of Zeus without a mortal disguise.

Tryptophany: appearance of Zeus as a turkey

or vice versa


Dionysus, he’s a good son.



Prove it!


Whence cometh grace?




Bathos: lit. “depth.”


The failure of things to signify

Like sex among eunuchs

Lots of thrusting, no conception

The aspic will not gel

You can’t just add tapioca to the pie mix, or corn starch to the gravy – that’s not how culture works.

It seems the yeast is off…


Brilliant will be our red color.

            But only if the dyestuff’s right


Looking at the world through Robespierre-colored glasses


Ni izquierda ni derecha, simplemente alt.


36 Hours of Feasting in America’s First Capital, Paramus, N.J.


Mortar and pestle: one way to imagine yin-yang


NO: negro origins: the blinding white cataracts of the too-long river denial


How subtle yet dispositive the shift between standing rock and falling rock


In olden days a glimpse of stocking


Spin just makes you dizzy


I was walking on the Champs du Mars, when who should I meet but Aphrodite, comin’ thru the rye…


Once upon a time in Pergamon, and now on Museum Island, Berlin, Athena grasps the wing’d and huge Alkeyoneus by the hair and pulls him upward, breaking his contact with his mother, Gaia, who emerges, personified, from her whole earth aspect and seemingly bent on helping her son out of a giant-sized fix.

But indeed it be too late, for Athena has sic’d her serpent on him and the fellow’s entwined and bitten on the breast, fatally, for uprooted from his mom he’s no longer immortal, just big… though in extremis, his features seem ecstatic, not unlike those of Vouet’s Magdalene.

Alkeyoneus generally figures as Heralkes’ antagonist, and some say he was a herdsman with no fixed abode, except, of course, Pachamama. No Olympian he…


Gigantomachy, mon amour


Mothers, don’t let your children grow up to be ploughboys…


Sexiest mensch alive


You discover, on the laundry room book recycling shelf, a 1957 volume entitled Vanished Cities, translated from the German. The authors, Hermann and Georg Schreiber have chosen a Herder quote for the epigraph:

Alas, poor man, you do not tread upon the ground of this, your earth, but upon the roof of your own house, which many deluges have shaped into its present form for you.


Within a fortnight span: Fidel’s death, Trump’s ascent: the coin flips.

And spins.

Who can evaluate such a currency?

Call it in the air!

OMG! It’s heads and tails!


Bessemer mucho


2013: Sotheby’s sells “Salvator Mundi,” a questionable da Vinci (picked up by “traders, so-called but unnamed by the NYT in 2001 for ten million dollars), to a Swiss dealer for a cool eighty-seven mil – around the price of a mid-level Koons.

The dealer, one Yves Bouvier, flips Sal Mun the following week to a Russian oligarch for $47 million more, and now the lawsuits are popping up like, well, poppies. Without a heliotrope in sight.


How the West went south…


The meaning of gomorrah is “land covered by water.” From the location of the two cities it is evident that only the waters of the Dead Sea could have flooded Sodom and Gomorrah… We can assume that in the process great sections of the earth’s crust tipped up and turned over – so that the passage in the Bible was describing an event by no means legendary. “And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”

As a matter of fact, the Biblical text apparently adheres so closely to historical truth that doubt is cast upon the asserted reason for the catastrophe. For up to this point, the story speaks only of the cities, which the Lord threatens with destruction because of their sinfulness. However, in the description of the disaster itself, not only the sinful cities are destroyed but “all the plain… and that which grew upon the ground.” When the land sank and the Dead Sea overflowed, no distinction was made between the righteous and the sinners, between the innocent countryside and the corrupt cities.

But could any cluster of huts by the shore of the Dead Sea in those remote times actually be dignified by the name of city? Had the nomadic people of Israel, accustomed to wander from pasturage to pasturage, already developed into an urban folk” Geologists assign the probable date for this catastrophe at the southern tip of the Dead Sea to the first half of the second millennium B.C. – that is, to the centuries during which archaeologists assume, the Israelites first migrated from Ur across Palestine to Egypt. Sodom, therefore, was not an Israelite city. The Bible relates that the “men of the city” came to Lot’s house and surrounded it, “both old and young, all the people from every quarter.” And they said to him: “Go away. You are the only stranger here and would be a judge.”

Lot, the Jew, was a stranger, the only foreigner, and the people of Sodom expelled him. He was neither the first nor last exile to wish dire destruction upon those who drove him away. Nor was he the first, when a natural calamity ensued, to connect this with his own expulsion or the expulsion of his forefathers. An early Jewish historian may have known of the doom of Sodom and looked upon it, or chosen to look upon it, as punishment for the expulsion of a Jewish family. To make religious capital of this connection would require that the situation be reversed: the Almighty decides upon the annihilation of the city and warns the single representative of the chosen people to flee. [Hermann and Georg Schreiber. Richard and Clara Winston, trans. Vanished Cities. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957. pp. 7-8]


Alguien esta en la cocina con Dinah…

Creo que


Kvetch ‘n’ kvell, kvetch ‘n’ kvell, the eternal oscillation


My, my Bessarabian pie…


What do we speak of when we speak of tribe?

What do we speak of when we speak of race?

What do we speak of when we speak of nation?


“Honoring a Holocaust Witness Whose Words Seared.” [NYT. 12/2/16. A3:1]


In a remarkably candid readout of the phone call, the Pakistani government said Mr. Trump had told Mr. Sharif [Pakistan’s Prime Minister] that he was “a terrific guy” who made him feel as though “I’m talking to a person I have known for long.” He described Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people.” When Mr. Sharif invited him to visit Pakistan, the president-elect replied that he would “love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.”

The Trump translation office, in its more circumspect readout, said only that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sharif “had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future. It did not confirm or deny the Pakistani account of Mr. Trump’s remarks. [“Trump’s Breezy Remarks Leave Diplomats Aghast.” NYT, 12/2/16. A17:5]


Precarity, thy name is…




This year’s slow autumn lent the pear tree leaves the most remarkable hues, so that in falling, the appear as so many scraps of brightly dyed leather.


Pieces of ape! Pieces of ape!


Annals of the Klonopin Dynasty


Can it be laid to pure coincidence that the wounds on the posterior sides of Christ’s hands and feet correspond to key acupoints: lao gong (Pericardium 8) in the palm center, and Yong Chuan, (Kidney 1), the “bubbling well” just behind the ball of the foot?




You’ll say we’ve got nothing in common

No common ground to start from

And we’re falling apart

You say the world has come between us

Our lives have come between us

Still I know you just don’t care

            And I said “What about Breakfast at Tiffany’s?”

She said “I think I remember the film

And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it”

And I said “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got…”

[Todd Pipes, Deep Blue Something, 1995]


Five phenomena: fair, rainy, hot, cold, wind

Five flavors, or tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, hot, salty