section 43

Sayings that illuminate
lapidary inscriptions
saying the writing
writing the architecture
writing architecture writing   through
up and down manually
or left-handedly or with an intercession

and a few photons, jolly
“in a sudden feeling of shock, surprise, or disappointment,” that’s not
joyous or a joint resolution exactly
even as festivities jolt a centenary
in reading for the archive that is at once a central nervous system
and a center of intentionalities—what were graphics
designating transitive writing arts
in visual culture that left the logo
and remaindered it to information, each of four
letters vetted a rhetoric
technologies opted for rhinestones to the eye
notwithstanding rhizomes in the brilliance

of mind, of the mind in multiplex.

(Marjorie Welish, from “From Dedicated To”, p. 97 in Isle of the Signatories.)

charles s. peirce has a plan

“The idea which occurs to me is this. Bierstadt has invented a car which opens out into a room 27 feet wide. The Russian & German governments have taken it up; the N.Y. Central people are about to go into it. It is a very practical thing. It goes about like a car, and then can be transofrmed in a few minutes, by lifting the roof and drawing up sides for part of the roof and by letting down inner sides for a floor and other movements, into a chapel, or a theatre, or a picture gallery, or a shop, etc.

I believe a car costs $8000. It is quite cheap. Now let Hegeler pay me $2000 and I will get him the right to build a number of such cars for Sunday or other lectures on the Religion of Science, which being sent about the country & free sermons & lectures given, & would distribute the Open Court and raise that to a satisfactory paying basis. The lecturers (preferably two) would sleep and eat in the car, and their expenses would be light. If it would add to the inducement I will give 100 lectures.”

(Charles Sanders Peirce, letter to Francis C. Russell, 5 November 1896, quoted on p. 256 of Joseph Brent’s Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life.

at any rate

“At any rate she was wonderful with horses and he loved automobiles only he would never take a job where he would have to lie down under an automobile with his legs sticking out. This was distasteful to him.”

(Gertrude Stein, Blood on the Dining-Room Floor, pp. 4–5.)


“Actually, this is a device used brilliantly by George Borrow, whose books simply stop. I like this sense of ‘okay, that’s it’ that eloquently supersedes the expectation of surprise and closure. It’s a new kind of surprise. Little Niels Bohr is said to have shown his father a homework assignment to look over. The homework was about the periodic table, and Father noted that Niels had left out hydrogen. This was easily fixed: ‘In conclusion, I would like to mention hydrogen.’ This is worthy of Calvin, but suggests with uncorrupted honesty that grand finales are a suspect posture.”

(Guy Davenport interviewed by John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Paris Review 163.)

a sort of a song

Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
—through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks.

(William Carlos Williams.)

no swan so fine

“No water so still as the
     dead fountains of Versailles.” No swan,
with swart blind look askance
and gondoliering legs, so fine
     as chintz china one with fawn-
brown eyes and toothed gold
collar on to show whose bird it was.

Lodged in the Louis Fifteenth
     candelabrum-tree of cockscomb-
tinted buttons, dahlias,
sea-urchins, and everlastings,
     it perches on the branching foam
of polished sculptured
flowers—at ease and tall. The king is dead.

(Marianne Moore, 1932.)

the islands


What are the islands to me,
what is Greece,
what is Rhodes, Samos, Chios,
what is Paros facing west,
what is Crete?

What is Samothrace,
rising like a ship,
what is Imbros, rending the storm-waves
with its breast?

What is Naxos, Paros, Milos,
what is the circle about Lycia,
what, the Cyclades’
white necklace?

What is Greece—
Sparta, rising like a rock,
Thebes, Athens,
what is Corinth?

What is Euboia
with its island-violets,
what is Euboia, spread with grass,
set with swift shoals,
what is Crete?

What are the islands to me,
what is Greece?


What can love of land give to me
that you have not—
what do the tall Spartans know,
and gentler Attic folk?

What has Sparta and her women
more than this?

What are the islands to me
if you are lost—
what is Naxos, Tinos, Andros,
and Delos, the clasp
of the white necklace?


What can love of land give to me
that you have not,
what can love of strife break in me
that you have not?

Through Sparta enter Athens,
Thebes wrack Sparta,
each changes as water,
salt, rising to wreak terror
and fall back.


“What has love of land given to you
that I have not?”

I have questioned Tyrians
where they sat
on the black ships,
weighted with rich stuffs,
I have asked the Greeks
from the white ships,
and Greeks from ships whose hulks
lay on the wet sand, scarlet
with great beaks,
I have asked bright Tyrians
and tall Greeks—
“what has love of land given you?”
And they answered—“peace.”


But beauty is set apart,
beauty is cast by the sea,
a barren rock,
beauty is set about
with wrecks of ships,
upon our coast, death keeps
the shallows—death waits,
clutching toward us
from the deeps.

Beauty is set apart;
the winds that slash its beach,
swirl the coarse sand
upward toward the rocks.

Beauty is set apart
from the islands
and from Greece.


In my garden,
the winds have beaten
the ripe lilies;
in my garden, the salt
has wilted the first flakes
of young narcissus
and the younger hyacinth,
and the salt has crept
under the leaves of the white hyacinth.

In my garden,
even the wind-flowers lie flat,
broken by the wind at last.


What are the islands to me
if you are lost,
what is Paros to me
if your eyes draw back,
what is Milos
if you take fright of beauty,
terrible, torturous, isolated,
a barren rock?

What is Rhodes, Crete
what is Paros, facing west,
what, white Imbros?

What are the islands to me
if you hesitate,
what is Greece, if you draw back
from the terror
and cold splendour of song
and its bleak sacrifice?

(H.D., from Selected Poems, pp. 30–34.)



How does your interest in flying technology fit into your view of technology in general, which is fairly suspicious? You’ve written several times, and eloquently, about cars, for instance, about how they’ve changed our views of space, of the city, of our own bodies.


The point of view I take is the point of view of Diogenes, which is that when a man owns a lion, a lion owns a man. The thing about technology is that it owns us. I know several desperately poor people, practically beggars, who own cars. On the other hand, you have people who drive their cars to work, to make a living, or to have a delightful excursion in it with the wife and children. But the point is that all progress asks that we pay a kind of ransom or blackmail in order to have it. The telephone is God’s gift to the bore.

(Guy Davenport interviewed by John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Paris Review 163; noted by Wyatt Mason. See also: Patrick Kurp.)