Posted by: glue | December 9, 2015


arch_lab Wednesday, December, the final class meeting, Hypermedia, ENC3414, the course I created 1994 and taught in networked classrooms ever since. The room was moved as resources shifted and aged, from the Networked Writing Environment, to Computer Science and Engineering, to the Education School, concluding this year in Architecture.


The class finished about 6:15PM, full darkness. I retrieved my bicycle from the bike rack across the street from the classroom, and made my way north by northwest towards home. Just as I started past University Auditorum, the carillon in Century Tower (on the west side of the Auditorium) burst into a peal of bells, recognizable as a holiday piece–someone practicing for the Christmas season? The music was joyous, a clamor as I passed, continuing as I crossed Plaza of the Americas in front of the library, crossing towards University Avenue, when the music stopped abruptly. I accepted the fanfare and serenade as acknowledgment of the occasion.



These photos obviously are taken in broad daylight on a beautiful winter day in Florida, several days after the event in question. It was a dark and stormy night as it happens. The corner at University Avenue was busy as usual, with the new building still half-finished.


The ride to 8th Ave was uneventful, but then it started to rain. Walking down the steep hill  as usual, I paused to put on the raincoat, mounted the bike at the bottom of the hill, and set out. The rain was so intense that my glasses became blinders, especially in the glare of oncoming traffic. The route being familiar, I didn’t worry about visibility, and rode more or less by feel, until I  came to the intersection, the side road at Westside park, where I misjudged the direction, went over the curb, and crashed into the roadway, but fortunately at slow speed, so no damage or injury. Nonetheless, it was fortunate that no cars were immediately upon me, since that would have been fatal.


Such events remind us how simple life is, how continuous the world, in that we know exactly how things would have unfolded in one circumstance or the other–immense complications in one way, and routine in the other. Once across 34th Street (yes, “Miracle on 34th St”), turning north, at Littlewood School, where my sons attended, and now my granddaughter, the Christmas tree concession was open for business.


As I rode by the lot filled with evergreens the air was heavy with the scent of pine, perhaps released by the rain, triggering involuntary memories of childhood Christmases past, a reward again for the recent spill, nearly home at this point, concluding a final passage, preparing a transition into the next stage, the epoch of open sabbatical.

Posted by: glue | February 14, 2014

Origin of the Popcycle

A recently recovered photo from the family album, circa 1949, Mandan, ND, the “Schmoon” porch (back  porch  of the house on the hill, scene of several mystorical incidents).  The window of the back door!


Posted by: glue | March 3, 2013

Cezanne’s Doubt


This self-portrait was painted in 1966, upon my return from Spain.   It remained in Miles City, in a closet, until my mother left her home in Miles City, to move to Stevensville, MT, near Missoula, to be near my sister.  When we cleaned out the house in Miles City, the few paintings from those years were shipped to Florida.  Recovered from a closet recently, they document something of the feeling of that episode and paradigm:  youth far from equilibrium.

Posted by: glue | December 5, 2012

Fable faible


What resources are available for inquiry and expression in the conditions after Nietzsche, the history of an error, after the simultaneous withdrawal of the true world and the apparent world along with  it?  The time is noon (the  shortest shadow).  What remains is fable.  What are the possibilities of fable as genre?  Duchamp improvised one approach, perhaps not even yet fully appreciated.  His Readymades are fables, albeit weak (faible) fables, in that they constitute the illustrations only (the emblems, impresas).  He intimated his variation on the mode with his most notorious instance, whose title “Fountain” translates “La Fontaine,” antonomasia between common and proper noun, evoking the name of the author of many fables.  Duchamp’s commitment to the punnng bachelor machine logic central to modernism is well known.  He acknowledged his attendance at a performance of a stage adaptation of Raymond Roussel’s 1910 novel Impressions of Africa as a turning point in his career (Roussel’s method of composition used generative puns).  It has been suggested that some of the Readymades at least are comments on dreams described in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, hence that they use rebus methods (visualizations evoking words).  The text of the fabled fountain is provided by its history, being as it is the most influential (if not the  “best”) art work of the twentieth century, including its status as a prank, and all the manipulations Duchamp performed to put the image of La Fontaine into circulation, recorded in Thierry De Duve’s Kant After Duchamp.  What is the moral of the readymade fable?

Posted by: glue | November 25, 2012


The Poet Speaks

If you are patient, the world provides a relay that you recognize as your own (what belongs to me):  enowning.  What is it like to write poetry, or even to attempt authentic communication?  What is the feeling (the felt)?  What is the motivation?  Here is the figure:  a desire; the elephant Koshik.  Separated, living in isolation, Koshik learned how to imitate the sounds made by the only other living creatures it knew — its Korean keepers.

The elephant’s vocabulary consists of exactly five words, researchers report on November 1 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. Those include “annyong” (“hello”), “anja” (“sit down”), “aniya” (“no”), “nuo” (“lie down”), and “choah” (“good”). Ultimately, Koshik’s language skills may provide important insights into the biology and evolution of complex vocal learning, an ability that is critical for human speech and music, the researchers say.

“Human speech basically has two important aspects, pitch and timbre,” says Angela Stoeger of the University of Vienna. “Intriguingly, the elephant Koshik is capable of matching both pitch and timbre patterns: he accurately imitates human formants as well as the voice pitch of his trainers. This is remarkable considering the huge size, the long vocal tract, and other anatomical differences between an elephant and a human.”

The fact that Koshik talks pales compared with how he talks. When humans make an o sound, they pull in their cheeks and pout their lips out into a rounded circle. Elephants don’t have that cheek-lip structure—they long ago traded it in for trunks—so it’s anatomically impossible to make those sounds.

Koshik sidesteps this problem by sticking the tip of his trunk into his mouth and moving his lower jaw, essentially MacGyvering his vocal tract.

“He really developed a new way of sound production,” Stoeger said. “Naturally, Asian elephants don’t do this.”

Posted by: glue | June 13, 2012


Isenheim Altarpiece


Continuing inventory of relays for mystory and wide image:  W. G. Sebald, After Nature.  Most of Sebald’s works manifest some aspects of mystory:  parallel stories juxtaposing an autobiographical tale with accounts based on biographies of figures drawn from other popcycle discourses.  After Nature collects three “poems” (in translation they read like prose poems):  on the 16th-c painter Grunewald, creator of the Isenheim Altarpiece; the 19th-c botanist Georg Steller who participated in Vitus Bering’s polar expedition; an autobiographical text. The mystorical Moment is expressed in this passage:

I grew up, despite the dreadful course of events elsewhere, on the northern edge of the  Alps, so it seems to me now, without any idea of destruction.  But the habit of often falling down in the street and often sitting with bandaged hands by the open window between the potted fuchsias, waiting for the  pain to subside and for hours doing nothing but looking out, early on induced me to imagine a silent catastrophe that occurs almost unperceived.  What I thought up at the time, while gazing down into the herb garden in which the nuns under their white starched hoods moved so slowly between the beds as though a moment ago they had still been caterillars, this  I have never gotten over (AN, 89).

Markus Zisselsberger identifies this passage as marking the event of crossing a threshold into an imagination of disaster, a world of destruction and catastrophe that informs Sebald’s stand, his art project, or, in electrate terms, his wide image.  Part of the interest in our context is the resonance with Blanchot’s Writing of the Disaster, specifically Blanchot’s epiphany, which also involves a childhood vision through a window, experienced as a revelation of catastrophe.  In the term “catastrophe” in both cases we hear the meaning of “threshold” codified by Rene Thom’s topology. 

Posted by: glue | May 7, 2012


Marilyn Monroe at the Actors Studio

Context for those working with mystory, choragraphy, and related electrate practices.  Antonio Damasio, in Self Come to Mind:  Constructing the Conscious Brain, uses as “the best example” of how mirror neurons function, the way an actor inhabits a role (imitation of gesture, posture, stance, tone, movement produce specific emotions and feelings).  The capacity of the brain to map one’s own body also extends to an experience of other bodies.

This bit of neuroscience confirms the utility of the CATTt used in Heuretics (1994) to generate a poetics of choragraphy.  The Analogy in that experiment was Method Acting in general, and the work of Gary Cooper in particular (the selection of example motivated by Ulmer’s mystory).   This Method is developed in Internet Invention (2003) with reference to impersonation (Elvis impersonators, for example), for guidance in a semiotics of imitation capable of writing Felt.

This connection may be useful in providing rationale in classroom, administrative, or grant contexts.

Posted by: glue | May 2, 2012

Popcycle Tradition

 For those teaching mystory in whatever version, making use of the popcycle discourses (Family, Entertainment, Community, Career), it might be useful to note its resonance with the tradition (whether or not this context adds value).  Revised for the popcycle informing Murphy’s Well-Being (collaboration with the FRE konsult addressing the Cabot-Koppers Superfund site), the popcycle categories are:  Testimonial, Mythology, History, Philosophy.  These descriptors resonate with the terms of the Ancient quarrel concerning which of the discourses is closest to Truth:  Literature, History, Philosophy.  Students of literature used to encounter this question when required to read Sir Philip Sidney.

The Apology distinguishes poetry from both history and philosophy. History, according to Sidney, narrates what was, but it cannot say anything much about what should be because its most successful characters are so frequently villains. To use history as moral guide, everyone would act like Julius Caesar and seize the government. On the other hand, philosophy can say what is right, but its generalized language is dull and inconsequential. Poetry takes a middle ground between the specific and the general. It constructs images that—while not historically true—elevate the mind and promote admirable conduct. The “golden” world created in the “wit” of poets can translate into a more glorious world to live in.

The purpose of mystory, as an electrate pedagogy, is to compose (and think) in all three discourses simlutaneously, and in relation to personal perception and memory (Family Testimonial).

Meanwhile, it is amusing to note the meme Sir Philip Sidney Is Not Amused.


Posted by: glue | February 10, 2012


A basic genre blend, or hybrid, relevant to flash reason, including mystory, is the fotem.  There is nothing original in the composition or poetics of a fotem:  image + text, a relationship between seeing and saying.  The definition is:  a modified image (of any sort:  photograph, drawing, found document…) + text.  The text may be in the image or only the title (as in this case).  An important study of this mode is Michel Foucault, This is not a pipe.

Sorry, No Reward

This fotem consists of the modified photograph + title (“Sorry, No Reward”).  The  term is a portmanteau, photograph + poem, modified spelling (foto-gram), resonance with “totem” (alluding to Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind). Fotemry, fotemic, fotetics.

Posted by: glue | November 29, 2011

Mystory Expression


The drips were not original with Pollock.“Max Ernst [the great painter who was a husband for a while of Peggy Guggenheim], thought Pollock had stolen it from him, and, as [William] Rubin has detailed, poured paintings by a host of major and minor atists associated with Surrealism could claim priority….In any event, the plethora of possible sources makes any one of them less critical, and the particular ways Pollock used fluid paint – the orchestrations of quanitities, speeds, rhythms, and densities that constitute everything in his expression – look like nothing second-hand.”

Pollock was known to have urinated on some his works and Varnedoe notes that Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Pollock biographers, “amassing anecdotal evidence that Pollock was prone to make an issue of urination, argue that the drip method essentially formalized what would be called in vernacular a ‘pissing contest’ with the memory of his father, LeRoy, who had shown his young son how to draw designs in urine on a rock.”

Although reviewers of the biography tend to dismiss this association between Pollock’s childhood memory and his stylistic innovation as an artist, it is entirely  in keeping with the phenomenon of the image of wide scope used by Gerald Holton in his study of the lives of scientists.  John Briggs in Fire in the Crucible (a study  of creativity) collects a multitude of examples from the lives of the most productively creative people, demonstrating a connection between a vivid childhood experience and the imaginative innovation in the person’s career endeavor.  It is always interesting to come across another instance of the phenomenon.

Older Posts »