Strong Advice

Car radio piped this one, 107.1 airwaves, return route Ford Road to Prospect from Sunday big box outing,  groceries flying into the cart (fermenteds, quick oats, coffee) and then a four-carts-piled backup at checkout lines, but back to the song: some covers are the friendliest ghosts. A little bit of warming nostalgia, so sick!, Billie Jean, estranged memoriachords, soft glow in the January’s-fine-with-me-since-none-of-it-lasts-long grayscape. Right-timed to go with an equanimity wish, one I almost but then didn’t ask for social media send-up but then nah. Just nah. But back to the grocery shopping: bumped a buggy excuse me and a stranger standing nearby said “That’s how I drive my mini-van.”

Back into the quietude at that hue between the sky’s #EAEAEA and the earth’s #F2F2F2, chicory-peppermint tea with cinnamon stick, teaching preparation and upcoming talk tuning, difficult yoga on the floor in the round.

With Our Fear

Another from Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, what somewhere has been called series whose figments bear strange shadowforms of H. P. Lovecraft:

“Should we go back?” the surveyor would say, or I would say.

And the other would say, “Just around the next corner. Just a little farther, and then we will go back.” It was a test of fragile trust. It was a test of our curiosity and fascination, which walked side by side with our fear. A test of whether we preferred to be ignorant or unsafe. The feel of our boots as we advanced step by careful step through that viscous discharge, the way in which the stickiness seemed to mire us even when we managed to keep moving, would eventually end in inertia, we knew. If we pushed it too far.

But then the surveyor rounded a corner ahead of me and recoiled into me, shoved me back up the steps, and I let her. (58-59)

Dog-eared, a page and its few lines I at first associated with initiates, treacherous descent, down a squish stairwell, footfalls better lace up your boots. But the shambles memory cast as “I would say” or “the other would say,” a whatever dialogue, both of them knowing forward means down deeper and down deeper means longer back. Or end. End in inertia. And with this it’s not only initiates down a staircase into the unknown below but a tandem pursuit-non-pursuit, a companionable procession whose interruption–please someone shove–they both seemed to be ready for, to welcome when, let’s return, let’s go back up again, it came.

Network Sense

Cover of Network Sense: Methods for Visualizing a Discipline

Network Sense: Methods for Visualizing a Discipline released yesterday. The PDF and ePub versions are online at https://wac.colostate.edu/books/network/. Printed copies should be available by mid-late January or thenabouts, I’m told. A few thousand thoughts, a few thousand feelings in finishing such a project as this and seeing it finally stand on its own.

It took years, first as a dissertation. Later as a proposal and redeveloped manuscript. Smoothings through revisions, edits, design, indexing. And there’s fatigue, gratitude, acute awareness of shortcomings, relief. Whatever else of book-affect, it circulates as it does.

I imagine returning to some of its known limitations, taking those as catalysts for some of what’s next, and to puzzling through the indexing process, what I learned from it, nascent ideas in appending a glossary (toooo many terms under-defined, under-elaborated), maybe-or-not an audio version because open access books can bloom any which way they will.

Expertise

A line from Jeff Vandermeer’s novel, Annihilation:

Perhaps my only real expertise, my only talent, is to endure beyond the endurable. (182)

Said the protagonist, a biologist. More context would spoil it. But the line on its own, that and more from Area X sped time during yesterday afternoon’s eternal AT&T internet repair appointment window, only that the technician showed up to hi and bye with “outside lines are not my thing, I’m sorry to tell you.”

I have one more line (and its paragraph) from the novel to share–about initiation, footing, leading steps. Tomorrow. Or in a few months. At this site’s timescale, could be who knows when.

Mung Bean Sprouts Fermentation Attempt

Do your best work, bacteria. And as reward, I will eat you.

This one is a mung bean sprout fermentation attempt. Carrots and kraut turned out well, and the next experiment-attempt is this, set up yesterday for whiffing and tasting in three or four days. It’s a simple packdown of two batches of mung beans sprouted from dry beans for about four days, 1/4 cup times two (that is, in two different sproutsing jars). Read around online to find very little about fermenting sprouts, some suggesting salt massaged beginning, comparable to sauerkraut, others suggesting a simple brine over the top, which is what I did, just after this photo–two tablespoons of kosher salt (just a fuzz less, actually) into a quart of water to heat and dissolve, cool a little bit and then pour over. Two pulls of the de-oxygenating pump to extract air. In the morning, liquid had expanded to overflowing the lid, but otherwise they’re on their way to what I hope will be sourbliss and nothing rotten or funky or toxic.

Mung bean sprouts, quart packed, just before brining and setting to ferment.

Irma

Less than an hour before setting foot into Pray-Harrold 414, a section of WRTG120: Composition I (still with the Roman numerals? Really?) I’m teaching this fall, the first first-year students I’ll have had in class in five years, three years since I’ve taught undergraduates in class, walkcrawling the WPA walkcrawl by teaching the class I prepare others to teach, but more than teaching I’m thinking about Irma’s gnashing waterteeth windteeth at Dominican Republic rn, alternations of calm panic calm panic at knowing Ph.’s being set up in Santo Domingo, uncanny is Brandi Carlile’s The Eye shuffling to iPod airwaves as I showered earlier, though can you really dance in the eye of a hurricane?, no, Brandi Carlile, no, I don’t think so, I think that’s bullshit, but that line about sturdy souls is pretty spot-on anyway, and the skies are blue somewhere upsky, and maybe it’s because I went to college in the nineteen-hundreds, but there is lightness, even a little bit of distracted lightness in considering for a twisted minute the usefulness of this extended version of “Trouble” as a way to talk about on-time attendance expectations with these twenty-five eighteen-year-olds I’m soon to meet, who, if they’re late because they’re dancing in the eye of a hurricane, I hope step in with this much groove.

Small Stacks

A couple of reading lists, nine titles ordered and delivered to Halle Library on behalf of the First-year Writing Program, and then another pile, an odd-stack, maybe I’ll get to these this summer and maybe I won’t, read bottom to top and top to bottom, shuffled and reshuffled depending on where I leave a copy, depending on what time I have, depending on mood and disposition and weather and gut bacteria, depending on nothing much at all sometimes.

For Halle Library, nine titles.

I am reminded upon posting just the one photo (above) that reading habits run a fickle, snaking course–meandering and irregular, never especially disciplined-seeming except perhaps in their continuing, on-going. Anti-library, nomad-habit, ambivalence, juxtaposition, re-reading, crumb trails, low on fucks or high, intention and purpose or their lacunae, and then add to it finishing up with writing one’s own books, with others or solo, mid-careering, wondering only but so effortfully what’s next and why would this be next but not that. Not the most strenuous May-June ever, litotes.

The Little Mushroom the Englightened Yogi Secretly Stayed With, Untroubled

Implicitly (until now) there is some kind of faint jostling between these stacks, different microlibraries, hints of interest and curiosity washed back by life and distraction, laziness and Netflix, accidental and well-intentioned anti-library, I meant to read you. I really did. I was going to. I was going to read everything.

There’s much missing here, too, another gift, Murakami’s The Strange Library, a couple of books from Ypsilanti Public Library due last night by 11:59 p.m. whose deadline I beat by an hour to renew–a miracle–even though they’re all read, finished, complete, ready for the return slot. Read with greater urgency the books that go back, temporary visitors, ones who would if they could but who cannot stay.

Until Finally a Carrier Stumbled

Especially the second paragraph:

Close to large tinajas [water pockets or pools] the trails converge like strands of a spiderweb coming to the center, and within a few miles of water, broken pieces of pottery tend to appear alongside. Mostly the pieces are plain: thick-rimmed, ochre ceramics called Colorado River buff ware. Clay vessels would have been hauled back and forth until finally a carrier stumbled. The stumbles added up in places so that over hundreds upon hundreds of years pottery became evenly scattered, in some places pieces on top of pieces. Along with the pottery a small number of shells might be found, brought from far oceans probably for adornment, wealth, or ceremony. Along one of these trails I picked up part of a shallow-water cockleshell, its delicate hinges still intact after being carried hundreds of miles from the Sea of Cortés.

I started calling these trails waterlines. Waterlines are the opposite of canals, moving people to water rather than water to people. This bestows a formidable significance on the origin itself, the tinaja, because that is where you must go. Must. It comes and goes over the year, or  over the days, while the location always remains the same. You can put your finger down and say here. Of all this land, all this dryness, all of these mountains heaped upon mountains, here. (31)

Childs, Craig. The Secret Knowledge of Water. New York: Back Bay Books, 2000.

For the talk I’m giving next month at Macomb CC, “Writing Desert Survival Kit,” I’m leafing Childs’ Secret Knowledge, struck by the shard trails, anticipating the desert metaphor (much like food deserts) as accounting for what diminishes, dehydrates, and becomes perilous in crawls across the writing barren, writing spare curriculum. Waterlines, in this extended metaphor, however, introduce a centripetal and extracurricular counterpart, desert traversals, travels that surfaces and circulate writing (also supporting it). These tinajas are comparable to the writing center, which, if you decline to provide a formidable writing curriculum (e.g., explicitly guided and supported writing experiences in every year of university education), you’d damned well better fortify your tinajas.

Anti-Credential and Boredom

There is no promise of love and light or visions of any kind–no angels, no devils. Nothing happens: it is absolutely boring. Sometimes you feel silly. One often asks the question: “Who is kidding whom? Am I on to something or not?” You are not on to something. Travelling the path means you get off everything, there is no place to perch. Sit and feel your breath, be with it. Then you begin to realize that actually the slitting of the artery did not take place when you were introduced to the practice. The actual slitting takes place when you begin to feel the boredom of the practice–real boredom. “I’m supposed to get something out of Buddhism and meditation. I’m supposed to attain different levels of realization. I haven’t. I’m bored stiff.” Even your watcher is unsympathetic to you, begins to mock you. Boredom is important because boredom is anti-credential. Credentials are entertaining, always bringing you something new, something lively, something fantastic, all kinds of solutions. When you take away the idea of credentials, then there is boredom. (53)

Trungpa, Chögyam. The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation. Boston: Shambhala, 1988.

From yesterday’s reading, a few lines on anti-credential and boredom, related are concerns for non-aggression, for what discourse brings or fails to bring to sadhana’s privacy, elsewhere Trungpa noting that practice needs only the earth as its witness. Boredom here instates non-magical thinking, reduces expectations, appeases the incommunicability of source work. Consider with this, the credential-pursuing verification expressions for writing in parallel, socializing about writing goals, about writing discipline and ritual, several days in a row, timed sessions, testimonials about doing the work, when really there is no promise of light and love or visions of any kind in writing, also.