Monday, April 30, 2007

The Ohrwurm

I'm in talks about talks with Mark Greif, an editor at n+1, about possible publication of the beginning of Your Name Here. I report this development to my co-scripteur, Ilya Gridneff.

All is not well on the business side. I told my agent, Warren Frazier of John Hawkins Associates, that I was happy for changes to be made to the book, but any revisions should be carried out by extremely fabulous Mr Ilya. Warren said he thought the message this sent was that I was washing my hands of the book.

Mr Fabulous writes:

miss hell
n+1 sounds good maybe a conduit to publishing - --> great they like it, maybe they have sway- auctoritas like augustus in the New Pork publishing welt-klang< --- mike was always a big fan off them too- as does Rebecca send me the odd article. someone with more foresight or the strength to carry a loaf of literature ... was thinking if warren (or someone of his ilk) wants to cut me out in thes idea of making the book work- i understand or accept how a book could be concocted sans gridneff etc etc..i don't particularly want this and realise the, ahem, integeral role i play, though can also see how it may hamper your own movement forward---.i could then place the stuff you worked on regarding me, like the frantic bishkek emails and chasing the posh spice money lines in my bag 2 brit - maybe a deal of publish this dewitt book but also gridneff's too...try to make every one happen- but this would be like a whack over the head by the wrong samuari...just a sordid thought sorely thought.. learnt a new german phrase from a german in the pub the other day (

[today's e-mail from IG [9 May] explains that the next para was off the record, so ***]

) the neue wort ist/// --->' ohrwurm' - meaning that catchy tune you have stuck in your head...i love the german language sometimes, it is an Ohrwurm//
well below is the latest symbol of entropy i guess, one loss is another gain. or my own loss in producing something from nothing--- is that entropy?
- aussie's benefiting from the apocylaptic bio-collapse of American bees- its just the tip of the swarmberg...surprised the little fellas don't get homesick and return to sydney where it is safe, free from pesticides and fullof friendly people...

who knows what happened to the gossipy Perez sydney role- Benny Hill-ton gone wild- saw the person in charge, who asked me to come forward into the eyes wild shut like exclusivity of Sydney Confidential, but she was all a fluster what with the MTV awards, snoop dogg being banned by immigration and fasssssshion weak---\et al said 'speak to you later...

[more off-the-record comments from IG]

saw the Pillow Book, highly recommended, great great-- greenaway is so good- ewan's willy too makes a consternated appearance, if this tickles your video rental /purchasing proclicity - it pops out at several piquant will really love this film--beautiful beautifiul...
ok keep the faith like an Iranian Baaji- or petty official in the babyklapper design team

now now/// i know it must be maddening but with new bike parts and a lust for berin life who knows what lies in wait...i have to get out of here--->
did you receive le poste?
kanibal gulag?

By Ilya Gridneff

Australian bee keepers are buzzing with unprecedented business opportunities as a mysterious disease wipes out overseas bee populations.
So significant is the drop in American and Canadian bee numbers, Australian apiarists and industry chiefs complain there aren’t enough cargo flights to export our queens to growing foreign demands.
Billions of honey bees in America and Canada have failed to return to their hive over the past two years in what scientists first detected in Europe and now call: ‘Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).’
Scientists are baffled why close to ten billion honey bees have vanished in a trend Penn State University said has halved the American bee population since 1971.
Scientists have posited a range of reasons from pesticides, mobile phones to new parasites and mites mutating within the natural biological cycle.
German scientists blaming mobile phone use and wireless technologies for CCD, believe increased electromagnetic fields fatally interfere with bee swarms but a principle research scientist and bee expert at Australia’s CSIRO Denis Anderson hotly contests this theory.
“The cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is not yet known. If it is a distinct disorder then it is more likely to be caused by pesticides or result from secondary effects of microbial pathogens associated with the already detected Varroa destructor mite or the tracheal mite,” he said.
“The varroa mite, first detected in Asia, is like a hypodermic needle that it injects viruses and other pathogens into the bee's blood as it is feeding. The resulting infections may weaken the bee without killing it and then when entering harsh weather or bad conditions this is the final straw.
“Australia has the same mobile phone infrastructures as around the world but we are not reporting any similar behaviours to the US or Canada. The downfall of bee numbers in the US has also been reported in country areas where there’s little radio frequencies or mobile phones.
"CCD is an important issue to the wider community as one in every three mouthfuls of food can be linked to bee pollination. There is a massive flow on value from bees to all aspects of life. Bees are worth a lot more than the $60-70 million a year Australia makes in honey production.”
Doug Somerville from the NSW Department of Primary Industries echoes this sentiment and adds Australia had been exporting bees for the past 20 years but the last two has seen a boom.
“Traditionally northern hemisphere countries imported bees from Australia in their winter (our Summer) to replenish colony numbers quicker for pollination purposes, but it’s gone from zero to millions in the last two years” he said.
"Californian almond plantations traditionally saw the world’s largest seasonal migration of bees but this was an internal migration from other parts of America.
“Now the largest migration is from Australia and there isn’t enough space on flights. Exporting is also difficult as bees are sensitive to heat and as a colony in a box moved from plane to plane there is great risk they don’t make it.”
He said there were 1000 full time commercial bee keepers and 10 000 registered bee keepers with annual exports estimated at around least $3 million. Somerville added the value of bees in Australia's agricultural production ran into the billions of dollars.
One hive of bee export activity cashing in on CCD is from country NSW, Oberon, where Australian Queen Bee Exports, the country’s leading bee exporter sends millions of bees to the Middle East, Japan and America.
Warren Taylor whose trade with America alone is worth millions of dollars each year said he will meet with Qantas to discuss cargo costs.
"The last time I sat down with Qantas was in the High Court because the carrier lost one of my shipments and had to settle the damages in court. Qantas realises the potential there and wants to talk.
“With CCD everyone is benefiting, there have been all sorts of spin offs for Australian businesses.
"Bees are a high yield export as they don’t weigh a lot but sending them on palettes costs the same as other produce.
“We really can’t get enough direct flights to the US to stem demand and now there’s growing competition with airlines to capture bee exports.
“We send the best healthiest bees overseas and considering we were in a drought the future is promising. The sky is the limit. America has been worth a couple of million of dollars so far and we expect to double that next year as they will be unable to make up the lost numbers this spring and then winter.”

Could you be the guest MSN Movies presenter? Click Here to Audition

It's hard to see why an overworked, underpaid editor would not be thrilled to be in correspondence with this kind of correspondent (and I am NOT washing my hands of the book, I see my my role at this point as that of incorporating Arabic verbs of vague application into the text for the enlightenment of underinformed FBI agents), but, well, no comment.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hail to the Chief

A reader in Iraq writes:

I've actually been thinking a lot about art in general and performance art in particular. I want to get 3,300 pairs of combat boots, clean and new, and set them up in one long row along a sidewalk near the whitehouse. The pairs of boots will be spaced 21" apart, to show respect and keep the veterans from becoming (too) affronted. Joe and Jill Washingtonian will walk with their child along these rows of unused boots and think, "ah, so tragic, so many dead." Then they'll run into one pair of boots that sticks out. This pair will be dirty and brown with dried human blood. Near it will be a plaque describing the horrific details of the actual death of an actual person - burned alive in his tank when an IED caused the hatch to fuse shut, captured and tortured by having his eyeballs drilled out with a powerdrill before he was shot, etc. And perhaps a framed photo of the corpse. Only one pair like this - the rest of the boots will be smooth, clean, and plain.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Refrigerator art

OK, here I go. I'm going
to make this whole
website right now
on this dry-erase

Monday, April 16, 2007

Find one find all

I forget things.

My rent is 411 euros a month, but the cost of living goes up when there are too many things in my head. I am thinking about the book that needs a publisher and the agent who is looking for a publisher and the book I put aside a year ago and the book I am starting from scratch and I walk out the door without my keys.

The Schlusseldienst charges 50 euros to open the door. So walking out the door just once a month without my keys raises the cost of the apartment to 461 euros a month. Or more.

I go to the Schlusseldienst and tell him I am locked out and he tells me he can meet me at the apartment at siebzehn Uhr, 1700 and I say fine. It's 4.30. The mind which is taken up with the three books and the agent seizes on the 7 and thinks 7 o'clock, a long time to wait but it has to be done. I go to Yorckschlosschen, the jazz café on my corner, and order a Jever and Smoky Bacon Walker's Crisps. I read the café's copy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, I think about the three books, time goes by, it's only 5 pm, it's 5.30 pm, I order another Jever, it's 6 pm, it's 6.30 pm, I pay, I leave. As I walk down the street to my house "siebzehn Uhr" goes through my mind and I think: 1700. 1700. 1700. Which is 5 o'clock. And now, of course, the Schlusseldienst is closed. What can I do? Where can I go?

My friend Ingrid Kerma is a painter who lives in London but has an apartment in Berlin near Kotbusser Tor. The key is kept by Barbara Colosseus, the web diva who designed my website and lives two floors up from Ingrid. I don't have Barbara's number. I take the U1 to Kotbusser Tor, go to Ingrid's place in Naunynstraße, ring Barbara's bell. She's there.

I let myself into Ingrid's apartment, call her to tell her I'm spending the night there. It feels pretty good.

In the morning I go to the bank for more cash. I think of the locksmith turning up at my apartment at 5pm, waiting for me, wondering what to do; I feel terrible. I need to apologise, I need to grovel, I need to offer more money, I need to atone. I pass a flower stall and buy 30 tulips for 12 euros. I go back to the Schlusseldienst, I explain in broken German about the 24-hour clock and the confusion this causes those who have not grown up with it, I give him 30 tulips, I apologise. This time the Schlusseldienst takes me to the apartment in his car. I offer more money but he says No, no that's fine.

In a separate but unrelated incident I am thinking about the three books and my agent and put water on to boil for pasta and go back to my laptop to work on one of the books or perhaps write to my agent. It's late. I go to bed. In the morning I go to the kitchen and the gas is still on under a dry pan with a blackened bottom.

Sometimes I lose things in the apartment. Every surface is covered with papers. I know the keys are here somewhere because I could not be in the apartment if I had not had the keys. So I can't leave the apartment without looking under all the papers until I find the keys.

Sometimes I put things in a safe place. I put my driver's licence, which I seldom use, in a safe place. I put my passport in a safe place. Later I remember that I put these documents in a safe place, but I can't remember what I thought would be a safe place.

Find One Find All is a device that can be attached to various things that get lost (key rings, wallet, remote control). Each object has a code. The device has a keypad. If you have located one of the objects, you can key in the code of a missing object on the keypad and the FOFA of the missing object will emit a signal enabling you to track it down.

It will not help you remember that you put water on to boil. It will not stop you walking out the door without your keys. But perhaps you've had this experience. You need a phone number. It's in your mobile phone. You can't find the phone. There are papers everywhere; you ransack the place but you can't find the phone. You call it on your landline; the William Tell overture burbles merrily from your pocket. You can't use your landline to contact your keys, your wallet, your driver's licence, your passport. FOFA might do the trick.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hypnotism of octopus

Surprising as it sounds, octopuses can be hypnotized. The Dutch zoologist, J. ten Cate, proved this with the common octopus. It was not an easy subject, but when it succumbed it was found that the most effective way was to hold the octopus in one hand with the mouth upwards, and with the arms and body hanging downwards. The great difficulty was to prevent the arms from touching his hand or arm, as this completely broke the spell. But when he was able to prevent such contact, and to hold the octopus in the required position long enough, it was hypnotized perfectly. It breathed easily, and the arms hung limply, with no trace of movement.

When the octopus was thus hypnotized an arm could be lifted, and when released it fell as lifeless as a piece of rope – as great a contrast with the normal behavior of an arm as could possibly be imagined. The octopus could be thrown from hand to hand and showed no more reaction than if it had been a football. A heavy pinch with surgical nippers, or even more drastic treatment, was required to awaken it.

Kingdom of the Octopus p. 84, Frank W. Lane (1960, Sheridan House, NY)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Adorno on Beckett and the Deformed Subject

I got an e-mail from Mr Gridneff, don;t read, with a link to this video on YouTube

and so came to this video of Adorno on Beckett and the Deformed Subject

Adorno is saying...

...immer von Beckett ist eine technische Reduktion bis zum außersten
...always from Beckett is a technical reduction to the extreme
Aber diese Reduktiion ist ja wirklich das was die Welt aus uns macht
...das heißt die Welt aus uns gemacht diese Stümpfe von Menschen
also diese Menschen die eigentlich ihr ihr ich verloren haben
but this reduction is really what the world makes out of us
...that is the world [has] made out of us these stumps of men

so these men who have actually lost their their I
die sind wirklich die Produkte der Welt in welche wir leben
who are really the products of the world in which we live

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Evolutionary Biology of Plants

The cactus has its bristling armament of spines that can radiate heat and defend its water-packed stem from herbivory (p 5)

Consider that the cactus spine would be an impossible adaptation unless the cactus stem or some other organ type carried on photosynthesis. The cactus spine is a highly modified leaf that functions in ways not otherwise normally entertained by green foliage leaves because the cactus stem is capable of assuming tasks of typical photosynthetic leaves (light interception, gas interchange, etc.). (p 6)

The Evolutionary Biology of Plants, Karl J. Niklas

Friday, April 6, 2007

Verbs of vague application 2

Wright concludes the chapter as follows:

§8: 18. Since the differentiation between a verb of specific application and one of vague application very often resides simply in a difference of short vowels, the beginner reading unvocalized material will often face a problem in deciding which is intended. Here again (as with the case of the ambiguity over the status of a prepositional phrase mentioned in §2: 11) the overall structure of the sentence is the deciding factor. When a verb is of such a nature that it implies the participation of two entities, then it can only have a specific application if either the sentence itself or the context in which it is placed mentions two entities: if mention is made of only one, then the reader must assume that the other entity is unmentioned and that the veb is a form of vague application. Take the following example:

قتل بعضهم اللُصُوص الذين هجموا على القَرْية فى تلك اللَيْلة

mentions two entities, and the verb is therefore of specific application, and the sentence is capable (according to contextual likelihood) of standing for either 'the robbers who attacked the village on that night killed some of them' or 'some of them killed the robbers who attacked the village on that night'; but if قتل بعضهم is a complete sentence, then it may represent 'he killed some of them' provided that the context suggests the participation of a previously mentioned 'he' in the action, but if this is not so then the verb must be assumed to be of vague application, and the statement represents 'some of them were killed'.

Verbs of vague application

I was going through papers looking for a story I wrote a long time ago. I came across a photocopy of Chapter 8 of Wright's Arabic Grammar, VERBS OF VAGUE APPLICATION; PARTICIPLES. I wished I had come across this earlier so I could have put it in my new book before it was sent out.

Wright says:

§8: 1. The verb forms which have hitherto been discussed carry with them a specific mention of the agent, or 'doer' of the action: both أخْبَرَني (akhbarani) 'he (implying an already known individual) informed me' and أخْبَرَني الوزير (akhbarani-l-wazir) 'the minister informed me' are structures which state the identity of the informant, and are to that extent specific in their application. Parallel to these there exists a set of verb forms, distinguished by different vowel patterns, which do not state this identity but imply vaguely that 'someone or something unspecified' is the agent.

§8: 2. Verbs of vague application are characterized throughout all verb types by a vowel sequence u-i in the perfect and u-a in the imperfect. ... Forms of vague application of Type IX verbs do not exist. It will be noticed that the imperfect form of vague application of a Type IV verb is indistinguishable from that of a Type I verb.

§8: 3. When the specific verb has a direct object, the corresponding verb of vague application varies in its form as if the direct object were the agent; the direct object functions in the sentence structure as a surrogate for the unmentioned agent. ...

§8: 6. The participle is a recognizable word pattern which is primarily an entity-term associated with a verb, and connoting the agent of the verbal idea but without adding any other information about that agent. The participle form associated with the verb كتب يكتب (kataba yaktubu) means simply 'writer', that is, an entity definable solely by the statement 'he writes' or 'he has written' and carries no further information about the entity. Consequently, الكاتب is congruous in meaning with الذي كتب (aladhi kataba) or الذي يكتب (aladhi yaktubu) 'the person who wrote/writes', and كاتب (kaatib) with مَن كتب (man kataba) or من يكتب (man yaktubu) 'a person who has written/writes'.

I like this sinister grammatical form of unmentioned informers and vague application. I like the idea of a form that means an entity definable solely by the statement 'he writes' or 'he has written' and carries no further information about the entity.

W. Wright, A Grammar of the Arabic Language (3rd Edition)