the sense of an ending

I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word “mayonnaise.”

Richard Brautigan


the sense of an ending

There must be supra-literary forces, cultural pressures, which tend to make us seek narrative coherence, just as we expect a conundrum to have an answer, and a joke a point. Our whole practice of reading is founded on such expectations, and of course the existence of such genres as the pointless joke and the deviant conundrum depends upon the prior existence of the normal sort. Just so do detective novels depend upon the coherence of elements in an occult plot that declares itself only as the book ends. There are detective novels, of which Robbe-Grillet’s The Erasers is the supreme example, which disobey this convention; but, far from disregarding it, they depend upon it for their effect.

Frank Kermode


the sense of an ending

Q: Is the novel dead?
A: Oh yes. Very much so.
Q: What replaces it?
A: I should think that it is replaced by what existed before it was invented.
Q: The same thing?
A: The same sort of thing.
Q: Is the bicycle dead?

Donald Barthelme, “The Explanation”


The Art of Hermeneutics

On 9th November 1966 Tara Browne and Paul McCartney went riding mopeds while stoned on cannabis, as a result of which the latter crashed, cutting his upper lip (an injury he hid by growing a mustache). Luridly reported–some versions claimed he’d been decapitated–this episode sparked a rumor that McCartney had died. (The contention was that he had been replaced by an actor, though who was supposed to be doing the singing and songwriting during the Beatles’ last four years was never explained). Partly because of the group’s fondness for “random,” clues supporting this theory were discovered in abundance. For example, John Lennon was thought, in the fade-out of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” to mutter “I buried Paul,” whereas (apropos of nothing) he really says “Cranberry sauce.” His similarly meaningless mumble at the end of “I’m So Tired” was interpreted as “Paul is dead, man, miss him, miss him,” while the line “Bury my body” in the fade-out of “I Am the Walrus” was inevitable grist to the rumor mill, despite having been written by Shakespeare. A dozen other song references were recruited to the myth while further “clues“ were discovered on the Beatles’ LP covers, with Sgt. Pepper supplying a particularly rich fund of coincidences. There, McCartney (the only one holding a black instrument) wears a badge on his sleeve bearing the letters O.P.D., supposedly an abbreviation of “officially pronounced dead” (in fact it stands for Ontario Police Department); he is likewise the only one facing away from the camera on some shots, while the cover shows an ominous hand above his head and the Beatles apparently clustered round a grave. The singer’s black carnation in the “Your Mother Should Know” sequence of Magical Mystery Tour kept up a mad momentum brought to a climax by his barefoot appearance on the cover of Abbey Road and the adjacent number-plate 28 IF, supposedly signifying that he would have been 28 had he lived. (Actually he would have been–in fact, was–27 at the time.)

Ian McDonald, Revolution in the Head


Death by Water

154 drown

The Art of Hermeneutics

The Kabbalists believed, as many Christians now do, in the divinity of the story of Genesis, in its deliberate writing by an infinite intelligence. The consequences of such an assumption are many. The careless dispatch of an ordinary text—for example, journalism’s ephemeral statements–allows for a considerable amount of chance. It communicates–postulates–a fact: it reports that yesterday’s always unusual assault took place on such-and-such a street, at such-and-such a corner, at such-and-such an hour of the morning; a formula which represents no one, which limits itself to indicating such-and-such a place about which news was supplied. In such indications, the length and sound of the paragraphs are necessarily accidental. The contrary occurs in poetry, whose usual law is the subjection of meaning to euphonic needs (or superstitions). What is accidental in them is not the sound, but the meaning. It is thus in the early Tennyson, in Verlaine, in Swinburne’s later works: dedicated only to the expression of general states by means of the rich adventures of their prosody. Let us consider a third writer: the intellectual. In his handling of prose (Valéry, De Quincey) or of verse, he has certainly not eliminated chance, but he has denied it as much as possible, and restricted its incalculable compliance. He remotely approximates the Lord, for Whom the vague concept of chance holds no meaning. The Lord, the perfected God of the theologians, Who sees all at once (uno intelligendi actu), not only all the events of this replete world but also those that would take place if even the most evanescent–or impossible–of them should change.

Let us imagine now this astral intelligence, dedicated to manifesting itself not in dynasties or annihilations or birds, but in written words. Let us also imagine, according to the pre-Augustinian theory of verbal inspiration, that God dictates, word by word, what he proposes to say. This premise (which was the one postulated by the Kabbalists) turns the Scriptures into an absolute text, where the collaboration of chance is calculated at zero. The conception alone of such a document is a greater wonder than those recorded in its pages. A book impervious to contingencies, a mechanism of infinite purposes, of infallible variations, of revelations lying in wait, of superimpositions of light.... How could one not study it to absurdity, to numerical excess, as did the Kabbalah?

Borges, “A Defense of the Kabbalah”


The Reality of the Symbol

Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians

The Illusion of Reality

Wasn’t it Valéry who said that when he read in a novel sentences such as “The Marquis went out at ten o’clock,” he was tormented by how arbitrary the specific time was and realized he could never stoop to the dreariness of fiction?

Edmund White


The Art of Hermeneutics

As with any obscure text, the Illuminations has received numerous esoteric interpretations that make everything clear: each element of the text – at least each problematic element – is replaced by another which is drawn from some variant of the universal symbolism, from psychoanalysis to alchemy. The strange “son of the Sun” of “Vagabonds” is really oneness, or love, or a pharaoh; the rainbow in “After the Flood” is the umbilical cord; the “Flowers” are the pure substance contained in metal. These interpretations are never confirmable, or refutable either, which gives them minimal interest; in addition, they translate the text bit by bit, with no attention to its articulation, and the final result, perfectly clear, provides no explanation for the initial obscurity: why would Rimbaud have found it amusing to encode these rather ordinary thoughts?

Tzvetan Todorov, “A complication of text: the Illuminations”


The Question of Meaning

In the artist of all kinds I think one can detect an inherent dilemma, which belongs to the coexistence of two trends, the urgent need to communicate and the still more urgent need not to be found.

D.W. Winnicott
“Communicating and not communicating leading to a study of certain opposites” (1963)



The Question of Meaning

So I live with this paradox—on the one hand, I am an important poet, read by younger writers, and on the other hand, nobody understands me. I am often asked to account for this state of affairs, but I can’t.

John Ashbery



The hollow eyes of shock remain
Electric sockets burnt out in the

The beauty of men never disappears
But drives a blue car through the

John Wieners


dialogues with the dead

Without sound, Parry said, “Hello, George.”

Without sound Fellsinger said, “Hello, Vince.”

“Are you dead, George?”

“Yes. I’m dead?”

“Why are you dead, George?”

“I can’t tell you, Vince. I wish I could tell you but I can’t.”

“Who did it, George?”

“I can’t tell you, Vince. Look at me. Look what happened to me. Isn’t it awful?”

“George, I didn’t do it. You know that.”

“Of course, Vince. Of course you didn’t do it.”

“George, you don’t really believe I did it.”

“I know you didn’t do it.”

“They’ll say I killed you.”

“Yes, Vince. That’s what they’ll say.”

“But I didn’t do it, George.”

“I know, Vince. I know you didn’t do it. I know who did it but I can’t tell you because I’m dead.”

“George, can I do anything for you?”

“No. You can’t do a thing for me. I’m dead. Your friend George Fellsinger is dead.”

David Goodis, Dark Passage


dialogues with the dead

“Are you dead?”

“Yes,” said the hunter, “as you see. Many years ago, yes, it must be a great many years ago, I fell from a precipice in the Black Forest–that is in Germany–when I was hunting a chamois. Since then I have been dead.”

“But you are alive too,” said the Burgomaster.

“In a certain sense,” said the hunter, “in a certain sense I am alive too. My death ship lost its way; a wrong turn of the wheel, a moment’s absence of mind on the pilot’s part, a longing to turn aside towards my lovely native country, I cannot tell what it was; I only know this, that I remained on earth and that ever since my ship has sailed earthly waters. So I, who asked for nothing better than to live among my mountains, travel after my death through all the lands of the earth.”

“And you have no part in the other world?” asked the Burgomaster, knitting his brow.

“I am for ever,” replied the hunter, “on the great stair that leads up to it. On that infinitely wide and spacious stair I clamber about, sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, always in motion. The hunter has been turned into a butterfly. Do not laugh.”

“I am not laughing,” said the Burgomaster in self-defense.

“That is very good of you,” said the hunter. “I am always in motion. But when I make a supreme flight and see the gate actually shining before me, I awaken presently on my old ship, still stranded forlornly in some earthly sea or other. The fundamental error of my onetime death grins at me as I lie in my cabin. Julia, the wife of the pilot, knocks at the door and brings me on my bier the morning drink of the land whose coasts we chance to be passing.”

Kafka, The Hunter Gracchus


I’ve been reading Houellebecq in French on the subway.

[my translation:]

The problem is, living by the rules isn’t quite good enough. As a matter of fact, you manage (sometimes just so, just barely, but on the whole you manage it) to live by the rules. Your tax returns are up to date. Your bills paid on time. You don’t go around without ID on you (and your debit card in its special little pocket!...).

However, you have no friends.

Extension du domaine de la lutte


The rules are complex and many-sided.

Outside of the hours you spend at work, there are purchases that need to be made, automatic cash machines from which it’s necessary to withdraw money (and at which, so often, you need to wait your turn). Above all, there are the various payments you have to disburse to the organizations in charge of the various aspects of your life. In the bargain, you may get sick, which involves other costs, and new formalities.

Yet you have some free time left. To do what? To use how? Dedicating yourself to the service of others? But, in reality, others don’t interest you at all. Listening to records? That used to be a solution, but over the years you have to admit that music moves you less and less.

Home improvements, in the most general sense, can be one way to go. But in truth nothing can stop those moments from coming back more and more frequently when your utter solitude, a feeling of universal emptiness, and the premonition that your existence is closing in upon a painful and permanent disaster combine to plunge you into a state of real suffering.

But, at the same time, you don’t yet want to die.

Houellebecq, Extension du domaine de la lutte (my translation)


tv eye

Jeff Wall


what is the avant-garde?

“Experimental art” was a catchphrase which was often a false attempt to give an art the kudos of a science. The catchphrase implied that the result of a successful experiment would be not just the artistic success of the individual work of art concerned but, as it is in science, the formulation of a general rule, by knowing which other artists in the -ism group, and indeed art in general, would progress in the sense that science progresses.

Brigid Brophy



(adapted from the first and last lines of the novel by Margery Allingham)

“It may be only blackmail,”
said the man in the taxi
hopefully. Presently he let his
feet slide gently forward.
The body was never found.



(adapted from the first and last lines of the novel by Agatha Christie)

Mrs Ferrars
died on the night of the 16th-17th September–
a Thursday.
But I wish Hercule Poirot
had never
retired from work to come here to grow
vegetable marrows.



(adapted from the first and last lines of the novel by Dashiell Hammett)

Green dice
rolled across the green
table, struck
the rim together, and bounced
back. Janet
Henry looked
at Ned Beaumont.
He stared fixedly
at the door.



(adapted from the first and last lines of the novel by Raymond Chandler)

The Treloar Building was,
and is,
on Olive Street, near Smith,
on the west side. They moved
the car enough to lift
something out. Something
that had been a man.



(adapted from the first and last lines of the novel by Ross Macdonald)

Heavy red-
figured drapes
over court-
room windows
closed against
the sun. “No
more guns for
you,” I said.
No more any-
thing, Letitia.



The pleasures of secret passages.

Professor Plum walks in the SECRET PASSAGE between the LOUNGE and the CONSERVATORY. He enjoys traversing the house this way: the passage corresponds to something secretive, dark, and wayward in his temperament. The erratic earthen path, the dank stone walls, the dim yellow glow of irregularly placed kerosene lanterns, the spaces of near-dark, all these soothe and excite him, and bring back those boyhood rambles along the bank of the brook in the wood behind his father’s house. He thinks of Pope’s tunnel at Twickenham, of the emergence of eighteenth-century English gardens from the rigidity of French and Italian forms, of the grove of hickory trees in the wood, of asymmetrical architecture and the cult of genius. Professor Plum does not suffer from delusions of boldness. Part of the pleasure of the serpentine dark lies in knowing that he is walking between two well-known points, the LOUNGE and the CONSERVATORY, and it is precisely this knowledge that permits him to experience a pleasurable shiver at the appearance of a lizard in the path, the fall of a mysterious pebble, the ambiguous shadows that might conceal the murderer, the sudden extinction of a lantern on the wall.

Steven Millhauser, “A Game of Clue”



Mrs. White with the Candlestick in the Hall
Prof. Plum with the Lead Pipe in the Lounge
Col. Mustard with the Rope in the Dining Room
Mrs. Peacock with the Wrench in the Kitchen
Mr. Green with the Revolver in the Conservatory
Miss Scarlett with the Knife in the Study

Prof. Plum with the Knife in the Study
Col. Mustard with the Candlestick in the Hall
Mrs. Peacock with the Lead Pipe in the Library
Mr. Green with the Rope in the Lounge
Miss Scarlett with the Wrench in the Kitchen
Mrs. White with the Revolver in the Ball Room

Col. Mustard with the Revolver in the Billiard Room
Mrs. Peacock with the Knife in the Study
Mr. Green with the Candlestick in the Kitchen
Miss Scarlett with the Lead Pipe in the Hall
Mrs. White with the Rope in the Lounge
Prof. Plum with the Wrench in the Library

Mrs. Peacock with the Wrench in the Conservatory
Mr. Green with the Revolver in the Dining Room
Miss Scarlett with the Knife in the Lounge
Mrs. White with the Candlestick in the Study
Prof. Plum with the Lead Pipe in the Hall
Col. Mustard with the Rope in the Kitchen

Mr. Green with the Rope in the Kitchen
Miss Scarlett with the Wrench in the Library
Mrs. White with the Revolver in the Hall
Prof. Plum with the Knife in the Billiard Room
Col. Mustard with the Candlestick in the Study
Mrs. Peacock with the Lead Pipe in the Lounge

Miss Scarlett with the Lead Pipe in the Lounge
Mrs. White with the Rope in the Kitchen
Prof. Plum with the Wrench in the Study
Col. Mustard with the Revolver in the Conservatory
Mrs. Peacock with the Knife in the Ball Room
Mr. Green with the Candlestick in the Hall

Mrs. White with the Candlestick in the Lounge
Prof. Plum with the Rope in the Kitchen
Col. Mustard with the Revolver in the Study

David Trinidad



the collaborative process

The Car

Jane Freilicher & Kenneth Koch

Choke: I am a bloke. My name is choke.
Wheel: I am a wheel, central feel of the automobile.
Gear: I am a gear. You all fear me.
Tires: I am the tires, a raspberry is filled with sins.
Window: I am a window. I know everything.
Windshield Wiper: I am a wiper of window that shieldwiper.
Crank: I am a crank.
Crankcase: I am a crankcase.
Nurse: Bottoms up.
Transmission: I am the transmission, ever close to you.
Trunk: I am a trunk, full of personality.
Dashboard: I am my setting sun, a dashboard.
Clutch: I clutch. We like each other.
Brake: Brake, brake, brake.
Shift: Shifty me you like to see.
Roof: I am roof, the winter’s tooth.
Throttle: They call me throttle. Relax everybody.
Backseat: I am the backseat. Climb up and down.
Petroleum: I am petroleum, love’s dream.
Doctor: Where the hell is that nurse?
Nurse: I am in the glove compartment.
Glove Compartment: I am the glove compartment, your love department.


the collaborative process


Dennis Cooper & David Trinidad

If lucky, you might capture that
elusive flight of ideas which involve you
when you’re “in love” with the chosen one.
One fine day, in other words, your
fleet might come waltzing around
your door. With luck you’ll be looking for what
it implies about truth, beauty, and gratitude—
that kind of stuff. You are my kind
of guy. I am the lucky one. I am
awaiting one sign, or this romanticized look in my eyes
has a way of throwing its dead weight around when
you keep me at arm’s length.
The longer I wait, the more I want you.
I’m in love with you, you big galoot!
Put simply, if I’m allowed to lose total control of myself
for a guy, as if you didn’t know. Don’t go.
1/9/85, NYC, 5:54 p.m.

Process Note:

I was visiting Dennis in New York; we wrote “S.O.S.” in the living room of his
apartment on Twelfth Street (just off of Second Avenue). A few years earlier we’d
written, while driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a poem called “The
Ordeal,” so this was our second—and in my opinion more successful—collaboration.
I don’t think we ever wrote another. The title is from the ABBA song; I’m
sure it came from Dennis, as ABBA was one of his favorite groups. I remember
that we alternated lines, and that Dennis was responsible for the ending, which
I liked, which I still like. “One fine day” in the fourth line had to have come
from me: I was obsessed with 60s girl groups at the time; “One Fine Day” was
a hit by the Chiffons. I also remember that I had a big (ultimately unrequited)
crush on someone in Los Angeles; this kind of wistful energy fueled not only
the poem with Dennis, but many of my own poems from that period as well.

—David Trinidad


What’s the difference between a secret and a concealed door?

A: Secret doors are constructed so that their function as a portal is not immediately obvious; false backs on fireplaces, revolving bookcases, and sliding sections of stonework are examples of this. Concealed doors are just doors hidden by an intervening object, like a tapestry, a stack of boxes, a door covered over with plaster, and so forth.

Dragon Magazine #76, August 1983


A couple of friends and I are planning on taking over our Dungeon Master’s island. So far our plan is working.

Unfortunately, we have encountered some problems. What we want to know is how to spawn orcs? We need an army at the moment.

A: Orcs are mammals and therefore do not spawn. You will have to find some other way to raise your army.

Dragon Magazine #31 Nov. 1979



Microminiaturization leaves enormous spaces to be filled. Disposability of the physical surround has psychological consequences. The example of the child’s anxiety occasioned by the family’s move to a new home may be cited. Everything physical in Paraguay is getting smaller and smaller. Walls thin as a thought, locomotive-substitutes no bigger than ball-point pens. Paraguay, then, has big empty spaces in which men wander, trying to touch something. Preoccupation with skin (on and off, wrinkling, the new skin, pink, fresh, taut) possibly a response to this. Stories about skin, histories of particular skins. But no jokes! Some 700,000 photographs of nuclear events were lost when the great library of Paraguay burned. Particle identification was set back many years. Rather than re-create the former physics, a new physics based on the golden section (proliferation of sections) was constructed. As a system of explanation almost certain to be incorrect it enjoys enormous prestige here.

Donald Barthelme


unique ciphers of violence and desire.

Optimum child-mutilation film. Using assembly kits of atrocity photographs, groups of housewives, students and psychotic patients selected the optimum child-torture victim. Rape and napalm burns remained constant preoccupations, and a wound profile of maximum arousal was constructed. Despite the revulsion expressed by the panels, follow-up surveys of work-proficiency and health patterns indicate substantial benefits. The effects of atrocity films on disturbed children were found to have positive results that indicate similar benefits for the TV public at large. These studies confirm that it is only in terms of a psychosexual module such as provided by the Vietnam war that the United States can enter into a relationship with the world generally characterized by the term ‘love’.

J.G. Ballard


As the theater darkens

a bright light appears on the left side of the screen. The screen lights up.

To be nobody ... On screen shadow of ladder and soldier incinerated by the Hiroshima blast

To be everybody ... Street crowds, riots, panics

To be me ... A beautiful girl and a handsome young man point to selves

To be you ... They point to audience

Hideous hags and old men, lepers, drooling idiots point to themselves and to the audience as they intone ...

To be me

To be you

Command no. 5 ... To be myself

Command no. 6 ... To be others

On screen a narcotics officer is addressing an audience of school boys, spread out in front of him are syringes, kief pipes, samples of heroin, hashish, LSD.

Officer: “Five trips on a drug can be a pleasant and exciting experience...”

On screen young trippers ... “I’m really myself for the first time”

ETC Happy trips ... To be myself ... no. 5 ...


Shot shows a man blowing his head off with a shotgun in his mouth ...

Officer: “Like a 15 year old boy I knew until recently, you could well end up dying in your own spew” ... To be others no. 6 ...

To be an animal ... A lone Wolf Scout ...

To be animals: He joins other wolf scouts playing, laughing, shouting

To be an animal ... Bestial and ugly human behavior ... brawls, disgusting, eating and sex scenes

To be animals ... Cows, sheep and pigs driven to the slaughter house

To be a body

To be bodies

A beautiful body ... a copulating couple ... Cut back and forth and run on seven second loop for several minutes ... scramble at different speeds ... Audience must be made to realize that to be a body is to be bodies ... A body only exists to be other bodies

To be a body ... Death scenes and recordings ... a scramble of last words

To be bodies ... Vista of cemeteries ...

To do it now ... Couple embracing hotter and hotter

To do it now ... A condemned cell ... Condemned man is same actor as lover ... He is led away by the guards screaming and struggling. Cut back and forth between sex scene and man led to execution. Couple in sex scene have an orgasm as the condemned man is hanged, electrocuted, gassed, garroted, shot in the head with a pistol

To do it later ... The couple pull away ... One wants to go out and eat and go to a show or something ... They put on their hats

To do it later ... Warden arrives at condemned cell to tell the prisoner he has a stay of execution

To do it now ... Grim faces in the Pentagon. Strategic is on the way ... Well THIS IS IT ... This sequence cut in with sex scenes and a condemned man led to execution, culminates in execution, orgasm, nuclear explosion ... The condemned lover is a horribly burned survivor

To do it later ... 1920 walk out sequence to “The Sunny Side of the Street” ... A disappointed general turns from the phone to say the president has opened top level hot wire talks with Russia and China ... Condemned man gets another stay of execution

To be an animal ... One lemming busily eating lichen ...

To be animals ... Hordes of lemmings swarming all over each other in mounting hysteria ... A pile of drowned lemmings in front of somebody’s nice little cottage on a Finnish lake where he is methodically going through sex positions with his girl friend. They wake up in a stink of dead lemmings

To be an animal ... Little boy put on a pot

To be animals ... The helpless shitting infant is eaten alive by rats

To stay put ... A man has just been hanged. The doctor steps forward with a stethoscope

To stay down ... Body is carried out with the rope around neck ... naked corpse on the autopsy table ... corpse buried in quick lime

To stay up ... Erect phallus

To stay down ... White man burns off a Negro’s genitals with blow torch ... Theater darkens into the blow torch on the left side of the screen

To stay present

To stay absent

To stay present ... A boy masturbates in front of sex pictures ... Cut to face of white man who is burning off black genitals with blow torch

To stay absent ... Sex phantasies of the boy ... The black slumps dead with genitals burned off and intestines popping out

To stay present ... Boy watches strip tease, intent, fascinated ... A man stands on trap about to be hanged

To stay present ... Sex phantasies of the boy ... “I pronounce this man dead”

To stay present ... Boy whistles at girl in street ... A man's body twists in the electric chair, his leg hairs crackling a blue fire

To stay absent ... Boy sees himself in bed with girl ... Man slumps dead in chair smoke curling from under the hood saliva dripping from his mouth ...

The theater lights up. In the sky a plane over Hiroshima ... Little Boy slides out

To stay present ... The plane, the pilot, the American flag ...

To stay absent ... Theater darkens into atomic blast on screen

Here we see ordinary men and women going about their ordinary everyday jobs and diversions ... subways, streets, buses, trains, airports, stations, waiting rooms, homes, flats, restaurants, offices, factories ... working, eating, playing, defecating, making love

A chorus of voices cuts in RM phrases

To stay up

To stay down

Elevators, airports, stairs, ladders

To stay in

To stay out

Street signs, door signs, people at head of lines admitted to restaurants and theaters

To be myself

To be others

Customs agents check passports, man identifies himself at bank to cash check

To stay present

To stay absent

People watching films, reading, looking at TV ...

A composite of this sound and image track is now run on seven second loop without change for several minutes.

Now cut in the horror pictures

To stay up

To stay down

Elevators, airports, stairs, ladders, hangings, castrations

To stay in

To stay out

Door signs, operation scenes ... doctor tosses bloody tonsils, adenoids, appendix into receptacle

To stay present

To stay absent

People watching film ... ether mask, ether vertigo ... triangles, spheres, rectangles, pyramids, prisms, coils go away and come in regular sequence ... a coil coming in, two coils coming in, three coils coming in ... a coil going away, two coils going away, four going away

A coil straight ahead going away, two coils on the left and right going away. three coils left right and center going away, four coils right left center going away

A coil coming, two coils coming in, three coils coming in, four coils coming in ... spirals of light ... round and round faster, baby eaten by rats, hangings, electrocutions, castrations ...

William S. Burroughs


The Task of the Translator

Around 1916, I decided to apply myself to the study of Oriental literatures. As I was reading with credulous enthusiasm the English translation of a certain Chinese philosopher, I came across this memorable passage: “It matters little to a convict under a death sentence if he has to walk on the edge of precipice; he has already given up on living.” To that phrase, the translator had appended an asterisk, and indicated that his interpretation was to be preferred to that of a rival sinoloist who had rendered the same passage thus: “The servants destroy the works of art so as not to have to pass judgment on their beauty or defects.” At that point, like Paolo and Francesca, I read no further. A mysterious skepticism had crept into my soul.

Jorge Luis Borges
“An English Version of the Oldest Songs in the World” (1938)


tv eye

Sans Soleil



So uh this is abut the uh things on the table
so this one will be counting up
If you see any of those baggy pants, chuck the hills
And if somehody asked him, it was trees

the uh scarf of where in black and white
that this one will be sittin’
this about the uh things on the table
this will be counting up

so uh uh this is about the uh things on the table
the uh scarf of where in black and white
that this one is sittin’
this is about the uh things that were
If you see any of those, then this could be one of them
so stop here so stop this so look here
so this is written
Hey Mr Bojangles
Hey Mr Bojangles
Hey Mr Bojangles
so this could be the one that was
so if you see this one, then...

Gun gun gun gun
Hey Mr Bojangles
Hey Mr Bojangles
Hey Mr Bojangles
Christopher Knowles bank robbery
so if you know
bank robbery bank robbery bank robbery is punishable by
20 years in federal prison so this is written
so if you know this is one so so look here
so Christopher Knowles and the Beatles
so so

Christopher Knowles


tv eye




I feel the earth move... I feel the tumbling down tumbling down... There was a judge who
like puts in a court. And the judge have like in what able jail what it could be a spanking. Or a
whack. Or a smack. Or a swat. Or a hit.
This could be where of judges and courts and jails. And who was it.
This will be doing the facts of David Cassidy of were in this case of feelings.
That could make you happy. That could make you sad. That could
make you mad. Or
that could make you jealous. So do you know a jail is. A court and a judge could
do this could be like in those green Christmas Trees. So Santa Claus has about
red. And now the Einstin Trail is like in Einstine on the Beach. So this will.
So if you know that fafffffffff facts. So this what happen what I saw in. Lucy or
a kite. You raced all the way up.This is a race. So this one will have eight in
types into a pink rink. So this way could be very magic. So this will be like to
Scene women comes out to grab her. So this what She grabbed her. S if you lie on
the grass. So this could be where if the earth move or not. So here we go.
I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel tumbling down tumbling down. I feel if
Some ostriches are a like into a satchel. Some like them. I went to the window
and wanted to draw the earth. So David Cassidy tells you when to go into this on
onto a meat. So where would a red dress. So this will get some gas. So this could
This would be some all of my friends. Cindy Jay Steve Julia Robyn Rick Kit and
Liz. So this would get any energy. So if you know what some like into were. So...
So about one song.
So that was one song this what it could in the Einstein On The Beach with a trial
to jail. But a court were it could happen. So when David Casidy tells you all
of you to go on get going get going. So this one in like on WABC New York...
JAY REYNOLDS from midnight to 6 00.
So heres what in like of WABC.......
JAY REYNOLDS from midnight to 6 AM
I feel the earth move from WABC...
JAY REYNOLDS from midnight to 6 AM.
HARRY HARRISON from 6 AM to 10 AM.
RON LUNDY from 10 AM to 2 PM.
DAN INGRAM from 2 PM to
So this can misteaks try it aga9...
JAY REYNOLDS from midnight to 6 AM.
This could be true on WABC.
This can be wrong.
This would WABC.
JAY REYNOLDS from midnight to 6 AM.
HARRY HARRISON from 6 AM to 10 AM.
RON LUNDY from 10 AM to 2 PM.
DAN INGRAM from 2 PM to 6 PM.
GEORCE MICHAEL from 6 PM to 10 PM.
CHUCK LEONARD from 10 PM to midnight.
JOHNNY DONOVAN from 10 PM to 3 AM.
STEVE-O-BRION from 2 PM to 6 PM.
JOHNNY DONOVAN from 6 PM to 10 PM.
CHUCK LEONARD from 3 AM to 5 AM.
JOHNNY DONOVAN from 6 PM to 10 PM.
STEVE-O-BRION from 4 30 AM to 6 AM
STEVE-O-BRION from 4 30 AM to 6 AM
JOHNNY DONOVAN from 4 30 AM to 6 AM

Christopher Knowles


tv eye

Sans Soeil



I used to be a boat rower in times in dreams at least to be freaky. Be on your on.
So turn off your taperecorder off and go to sleep. So that why we call so.
Like bad mad sad but you shold be glad to be proud of you.
So this won’t wreck and destroy your things to be.
So if your actress no behave to be so.
To be announcing the Philadelphia Freedom. But when you’re with my Daddy never is.
I used to be a boat rower in times in dreams at least to be freaky. Be on your on.
So turn off your taperecorder off and go to sleep. So that why we call so.
Like bad mad sad but you shold be glad to be proud of you.
So this won't wreck and destroy your things to be.
So if your actress no behave to be so.
To be announcing the Philadelphia Freedom. But when you’re with my Daddy never is.
I used to be a boat rower in times in dreams at least to be freaky. Be on your on.
So turn off your taperecorder off and go to sleep. So that why we call so.
Like bad mad sad but you shold be glad to be proud of you.
So this won’t wreck and destroy your things to be.
So if your actress no behave to be so.
To be announcing the Philadelphia Freedom. But when you’re with my Daddy never is.
I used to be a boat rower in times in dreams at least to be freaky. Be on your on.
So turn off your taperecorder off and go to sleep. So that why we call so.
Like bad mad sad but you shold be glad to be proud of you.
So this won't wreck and destroy your things to be.
So if your actress no behave to be so.
To be announcing the Philadelphia Freedom. But when you’re with my Daddy never is.
To be announcing the Philadelphia Freedom. But when you’re with my Daddy never is.
To be announcing the Philadelphia Freedom.

Christopher Knowles



You ever go to Sarasota?

Interesting story. I knew this guy who got AIDS in Sarasota and then went back the next year and fucked the same dude and the AIDS disappeared.

Harmony Korine



Contributions to the Critique of Criticism

I quoted a playwright whose name I could not remember who admitted in an interview that he told his friends if there was a choice between being honest and being kind in talking about his work, they should choose to be kind. “Don’t value your opinion over my feelings,” the playwright said.

Kim McLarin


size matters


Contributions to the Critique of Criticism

KK: Have you ever been physically attacked because of your art criticism?

JA: No, because I always say I like everything.

KK: Would you say that is the main function of criticism?

JA: If it isn’t it should be.

John Ashbery, A Conversation With Kenneth Koch


size matters


Contributions to the Critique of Criticism

Artists don’t need criticism; all they need is praise.

Gertrude Stein (as recalled by Virgil Thompson)


size matters


Forgot to renew my license to ill.

Let’s see if any cop is dope enough to call me on it.



spoiling great works of literature

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: Rosebud is the narrator.

Great Expectations: Miss Havisham is not the sled.

Moby Dick: The white whale is Rosebud.

Tender Buttons: A Rosebud is a Rosebud is a Rosebud.


The Map and the Territory

A profile of Ellroy published a few years ago mentioned his plot outlines: The Black Dahlia’s ran to 142 pages (the book itself is 358 pages long in paperback) and that of L.A. Confidential to 211 (the paperback has 496). At the time, he had just finished the outline for Tabloid; it came to 345 pages, while the book itself runs a mere 576. This is reminiscent of Borges’s famous map which is the same size as the country it describes.

Luc Sante


opening lines

Nous voici encore seuls.

(Here we are, alone again.)

Death on the Installment Plan



FEBRUARY 13, 1975

Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s:
tomorrow I’ll think about
that. Always nervous, even
after a good sleep I’d like
to climb back into. The sun
shines on yesterday’s new-
fallen snow and yestereven
it turned the world to pink
and rose and steel-blue
buildings. Helene is restless:
leaving soon. And what then
will I do with myself? Some-
one is watching morning
TV. I’m not reduced to that
yet. I wish one could press
snowflakes in a book like flowers.

James Schuyler