We have all had great fun getting our tongues around the alliterative phrases like “crabbit crocodile wi clarty claes” – well, you’d be grumpy too if someone was throwing tomatoes at you and getting your clothes all dirty! – and we’ve learnt lots of Scots in the process. Little brother’s favorite is the “octopus in ooter-space”, planting the Scottish flag on the moon.

A whole world of ABCs and 123s, by Marjorie Coughlan.

sceenshot from twitter/novelsin3lines

Félix Fénéon’s collection of faits divers, Novels in Three Lines – now available to the twenty-first century reader in serial form, so you can experience them as Le Matin readers did a century ago.

via A Different Stripe.

After the video with Celan reading Todesfuge posted by Baroque in Hackney a few weeks ago, here’s another I’ve just happened upon:

source: The Omniscient Mussel.

The poem he’s reading is Tenebrae:

Near are we, Lord,
near and graspable.

Grasped already, Lord,
clawed into each other, as if
each of our bodies were
your body, Lord.

Pray, Lord,
pray to us,
we are near.

Wind-skewed we went there,
went there to bend
over pit and crater.

Went to the water-trough, Lord.

It was blood, it was
what you shed, Lord.

It shined.

It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
Eyes and mouth stand so open and void, Lord.
We have drunk, Lord.
The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.

Pray, Lord.
We are near.

[trans: John Felstiner]

The German composer Wolfgang Rihm chose Celan’s poem to conclude his composition Deus Passus. Interestingly, there’s another musical connection – Harrison Birtwistle’s Pulse Shadows – Meditations on Paul Celan for soprano, string quartet and ensemble (1996) includes a setting of the poem. This review, over at classicalsource.com makes the Birtwistle piece sound unmissable.

Stephen Mitchelmore, in a recent post at This Plaice Space, writes of his “uncomprehending recognition of the regular flounder between Blanchot and Bernhard, Proust and Kafka, Stevens and Celan from which this blog is suspended.“I thought that a nice phrase – we all have our tutelary deities, beneath whom we variously, to quote Webster’s definition of “flounder”, fling the limbs and body, as in making efforts to move; … struggle, as a horse in the mire, or as a fish on land; …roll, toss, and tumble; … flounce. I seem to myself to make steady dabs between Perec and Celan, Ashbery and Pessoa, Rauschenberg and Frank Stella, and many others…

In the meanwhile, here’s a rather angry-looking flounder, by Günter Grass:

Gunter Grass, 'Butt uber Land' ('Flounder above country') 1978

Gunter Grass, ‘Butt uber Land’ (‘Flounder above country’) 1978, etching

from the exhibition “The Writer’s Brush”

Time’s Arrow


At first glance, writers of languages like English seem to be those who favor an arrow of time which goes left to right and down the page. Page breaks are some sort of discontinuity which doesn’t seem to bother them, but seems to bother a related clan, the copy editor. But a closer inspection of the writer clan shows that their arrow of time is at best a confusing mishmash of directions. For example, an often employed trick is the so-called “flashback” in which the reader is magically transported back in time to an event which the writer couldn’t figure out how to include otherwise or was too lazy to figure out how to include without using this trick of the trade. Another common technique is the mental head fake on the arrow of time known as “foreshadowing.” So while the rhythm of reading may go left to right and down the page, this direction in time is often a farce, disguising a deep disregard for any pure direction of time, but allowing all sorts of internal analepsis, external analepsis, and prolepsis.

Conclusion: the arrow appears to be left to right and down, but in postmodern interpretation is to be regarded none of anyone’s business.

from The Quantum Pontiff: Occupational Arrows ofTime, via Fed by Birds

People Reading


New York attorney and bibliophile Donald Oresman and his wife, Patricia, began in 1974 to focus their art collection upon images of people reading. That year, they saw Jim Dine’s portrait of his wife, Nancy, reading and bought it. A few weeks later they came across Larry Rivers’ portrait of the poet Frank O’Hara reading. “Something clicked,“ Oresman would write. “Readers became the focus from then on.”

People Reading: Selections from the Collection of Donald and Patricia Oresman

gouache 'Pioneer' by Maurice Ashkenazy, 1929wood engravinglithographgouache

wood engravinglithographColour lithograph

via Wessel & Lieberman, via del.icio.us/sarahhollenbeck



page spread from The Book of Accidents

The Book of Accidents: Designed for Young Children. New Haven : S. Babcock, Sidney’s press, 1831.

via Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

The Triumph of Bullshit

One of the diseases of this age is the multiplicity of books; they doth so overcharge the world that it is not able to digest the abundance of idle matter that is every day hatched and brought forth into the world.

– Barnaby Rich, 1613

Smitten II


some fellside agitprop?

[I was looking for this photo last night, and couldn’t find it:

Sheep on the Move, by lundulph]