donderdag 29 augustus 2013

Nothing in that drawer. [repetitive poem that does not repeat itself.]

Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.

Ron Padgett (1975 or earlier)
Now this is a remarkable clever find: it is the same sentence 14 times over, yet each time it speaks of a unique event. And also: everybody knows that the sensation of opening drawers in some forgotten cupboard in an old house. I would have found the poem more realistic of furniture design if it has less drawers. 

Found this on the CD that accompanies "All Poets welcome", a book on the poetry scene of the Lower East Side in 1960ties written by Daniel Kane. The book itself is sometimes interesting but mostly drowns the good bits in academic hyperjargon that fails to explain.  

maandag 26 augustus 2013

The discovery of America in 3 strange maps.

Included in the Penguin edition of the Vinland Sagas (two medieval Viking tales about the discovery and settlement of Greenland and further exploration into the Americas) is a map based on the sagas first created in 1590 by Icelandic teacher Sigurdur Stefansson. There is England, Ireland and islands on the right and Helleland (Baffin Island), Markland (New Foundland) and Skraeling land (Red Indian land, Labrador?) on the left. Greenland is shown as continues with it (pack ice?). It is clearly recognizable from the point of view of present cartographic knowledge.

Now take a look at these two books from the Zorzi codex reproduced in Carl Sauer's excellent book about the first years of Spanish expansion, "The New Spanish Main". They were made in 1525 at the latest and show the way Columbus' brother Bartholomew (and by extension Columbus himself) imagined their discoveries as part of the new cartography. Never able to come to terms with their landing on a new continent, they needed to account for it as outlying islands at the extreme perimeter of East Asia. A passage to the heart of it was only a matter of time. Sauer notes that observers at the Spanish court understood the fallacy at an early point and even at the time these maps were anachronistic.

zondag 25 augustus 2013

For a decade I have kept a record of the wild plant on two diverse areas

I had completely forgotten about this until I reread it recently. It's from Aldo Leopolds 'Sand County Almanac' (1949). Neighbourhood ecology at its best and the impetus behind my own weeds in my street surveys. 
[O]n week ends my floristic standard of living is that of the backwoods, while on week days I subsist as best as I can on the flora of university farms, the university campus, and the adjoining suburbs. For a decade I have kept, for a pastime, a record of the wild plant species in first bloom on these two diverse areas:

Species First
Blooming in
and Campus
visual diet

It is apparent that the backward farmer's eye is nearly twice as well fed as the eye of the university student or businessman. Of course neither sees his flora as yet, so we are confronted by the two alternatives already mentioned: either insure the continued blindness of the populace, or examine the question whether we cannot have both progress and plants.