Enclosing Disclosing

The Truth in Painting
Jacques Derrida

— If police there is (and isn’t there always?) it would here be operating against another police, against another ideological arraignment, and


— You think people would accept that, that they’d receive it as an explication de texte or as a “close reading”? [In English in the original]

Translated by Geoff Bennington and Ian McLead

This juxtaposition is meant to suggest that explication de texte is a policing affair. But is it not a jail break?

Let us pause the reversal of this inversion.

First the justification of linking explication de texte to police activity. We read this reply, in sequence, appearing after the close reading remark:

— Everything comes down to one of those reading exercises with magnifying glass which calmly claim to lay down the law, in police fashion indeed.

The policing frames a before and an after. Jail breaking is always after the sentence. There is always room to consider it thus, more or less. Another réplique:

— It can always, more or less calmly, become police-like. It depends how, with a view to what, in what situation it operates. It can also arm you against that other (secret) police which, on the pretext of delivering you from chains of writing and reading (chains which are always, illiterately, reduced to the alphabet), hastily lock you up in a supposed outside of the text […]

Jail break avant la lettre. Jail break before a being-jailed.

And so for day 2525

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Longing to Belong

Warsan Shire

Summarizing a whole suite of erotic cartographies, the poet telescopes the reader’s attention in a most delightful entanglement of means and ends:

Your grandparents often found themselves
in dark rooms, mapping out
each other’s bodies,

claiming whole countries
with their mouths.

“Grandfather’s Hands”
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth

And so for day 2524

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Consider Gussie’s lines from the 1948 movie Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House — it’s her culinary and linguistic creativity that saves the day. I’ve seen the movie; I now want to read the novel to see if the key plot point rests on the character of the black woman.

Gussie is played by Louise Beavers


Shooting script


Screenplay by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama Based on a novel by Eric Hodgins

               Gussie's head appears from the kitchen.

                         Come and get it! Breakfast everybody.

                         Good! I'm starving! What are we 
                         having, Gussie?

                         Orange juice, scrambled eggs and you-

                              (making a face)

                         Not ham -- Wham!
                         If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't 
                         eatin' ham!

               Gussie's head disappears.

               CLOSE SHOT - JIM.

               CLOSE SHOT - Jim.

                         What did she say?

               He reacts with the sudden exhilaration of Balboa first seeing 
               the Pacific. He snaps his fingers.

                         Darling, give Gussie a ten dollar 

Those lines that sound like a jingle

Gussie: If you ain’t eatin’ Wham, you ain’t eatin’ ham.

are appropriated for the ad campaign that is marked as wildly successful and bringing in the money to cover the by now extravagant new house. Earlier lines that set up the conclusion (but aren’t in the shooting script)…

Gussie : The children like Wham.

Jim Blandings: Well, there must be other things that we…

Gussie: Mrs. Blandings likes it, too.

Jim Blandings: Just the same…

Gussie: And I consider it very tasty!

Just like a snippet from a commercial — they all like it and so should you — no arguing with the arbitration. A case of she who rules the roast, rules the roost?

And so for day 2523

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Samuel R. Delany

interview with Terry Bisson in The Atheist in the Attic

You wrote a critical appreciation of SF, the Jewel-Hinged Jaw. […] I don’t recall what the title signified.


The title was not explained in the book. You just had to recognize it. It was from a line in Thomas M. Disch’s Camp Concentration: from Sacchetti’s poem “The Hierodule,” when Disch describes the black idol of language/knowledge/art, which is presumably suppose to speak the truth:

Behold! Behold the black, untrained flesh,
The jaw’s jewelled hinge that we can barely glimpse …

So, no, you probably didn’t and don’t recall what the title signified, unless you’ve been rereading Disch’s novel with your literary antenna alert to explaining precisely that conundrum.

Saccchetti is a character in the novel

And the notion of hinge leads me to recall the cover art on Catherine Hume’s Hinges — a grid of representations of various examples of hinges.

cd cover catherine hume hinges

With a prominent jaw in its centre square, somewhat shiny like a jewel…

And so for day 2522

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Generations and Terminations

Julia Cooper
The Last Word: Reviving the Dying Art of Eulogy

[A] baby is not in fact a piece of immortality, but rather another piece of mortality.

Multiplication is not continuation.

And so for day 2521

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Edward Carson
Look here Look Away Look Again

We are led to be mindful of space and what traverses space.

“”Some Assembly Required”

     to mind     is bird,

a networking   of neurons

And to over hear echoes …

“Towards The Rainbow”

why  oh  why on  the  way  to  somewhere  over

the  way  up  high  or  even  higher  still  looking


away  sometimes  hoping  for  something  like  a 

beautiful  music  relentless  as  why  oh  why  oh

To take flight. To displace.

“The Migratory Bird”

thought  begins  and  then  travels  on  to  arrive

at  another  place  connected  and  like-minded

And so we are as oriented by white space as by words.

And so for day 2520

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Camomille’s Pleasures of the Self and of the Word

What is around and what is within …

Vingt Fois

Le sens de la nuit. Qui appartient à Camomille comme une félicité dans son ventre d’amoureuse d’elle et de son corps, des extases douces qui se dilatent et dilatent sous sa peau, intérieures et jeunes fougères. Verte vie d’herbe en dedans du corps pendant que la fête remue autour. On va se reconnaître dans toutes les directions. A suivre: les mots, fols hélicoptères, bourdonnantes convictions.

Nicole Brossard French Kiss

Twenty Times

The sense of night. A night that belongs to Camomille like the joy in her belly at being her own lover and her body’s, tender ecstasies that swell and cause to swell beneath her skin like young unfolding ferns. Green herbaceous life inside her body while all around is revelry. At every turn we’ll recognize ourselves. To be continued: words, whirling helicopters, throbbing convictions.

Translated by Patricia Claxton in French Kiss Or: A Pang’s Progress

At every turn — directions and words — to be continued continues.

And so for day 2519

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Ecology of Education

As we advance in the Anthropocene…

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.

C.S. Lewis
The Abolition of Man: Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools. (Riddel Memorial Lectures).

This was first published in 1943.

And so for day 2518

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Anachronism Fest

I find anachronism to be a charming trope. I am particularly drawn to the markers of temporal irregularities.

Julia Cooper in The Last Word: Reviving the Dying Art of Eulogy describes how news spread of the death of President Lincoln.

Not that the public mourning of President Lincoln wasn’t aided and influenced by the period’s technology: the development of the railroad and the arrival of telephone lines literally connected the news of Lincoln’s death to the American population. People and news were travelling faster than ever […]

Lincoln dies in 1865; telephone patent granted in 1876. “Telephone” is of course an accidental: “telegraph” is meant.

After spotting this passage in Cooper, I had to search for “Lincoln and telephone”. And was rewarded by an image of the President holding a smartphone and poised to take a selfie, all rendered in the appropriate past-marking sepia tone.

Doctored image of Lincoln holding a smartphone

Please don’t say this was “photoshopped.” There was no Photoshop back then.

The caption found with this doctored image delivered a double dose of anachronism: “Please don’t say this was ‘photoshopped.’ There was no Photoshop back then.”

Almost like tomatoes appearing in a Euro-Medieval recipe…

And so for day 2517

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Shoes & Laces

A cobbling of quotation:

There we are again: the ethical question of how to render “experience itself.” Lyricism becomes associated with the moral failings of a belles lettres tradition of dressed-up writing, one that makes the words shimmer, shudder, and tremble but cannot capture the experience it describes. So is literary lyricism’s moral failing the same as that of a scientific language equally inadequate to the task of transmitting the experience itself? Better, it seems, to play the humble artisan whose attitude toward his work is strictly utilitarian: “I think one needs to have an artisanal sense of this, just as one should do a good job making a shoe, so one should do a good job making a book.”

p. 239

Lynne Huffer. Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory.

A list of meditations on Van Gogh’s paintings of shoes:

Heidegger: The Origin of the Work of Art
Shapiro: The Still Life as a Personal Object
Derrida: Vérité en peinture
Fredric Jameson: Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

Kickin it on down the road …

And so for day 2516

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