Licking the Good Finger

This was making the rounds in 2000… it’s timeless in its wisdom.

Des étudiants en médecine reçoivent leur premier cours d’anatomie avec un vrai corps humain.

Ils sont tous réunis autour d’une table d’opération avec le corps recouvert d’un drap blanc.

Le professeur leur dit :

En médecine, il faut avoir 2 qualités importantes. La première, il ne faut pas être dégoûté.

Là-dessus le prof retire le drap, enfonce un doigt dans l’anus du mort et quand il l’a retiré, il suce son doigt.

Allez, faite la même chose que moi !

Les étudiants après quelques minutes d’hésitation passent chacun leur tour.

Ils enfoncent leur doigt dans l’anus du mort et sucent leur doigt après l’avoir retiré.

Quand tout le monde a fini le prof les regarde et leur dit :

La deuxième qualité c’est l’observation. J’ai enfoncé mon majeur et j’ai sucé mon index.

I don’t really know why I am resisting translation except to think how wrong it seems to translate “majeur” as “middle”.

And so for day 2646

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The Learners Actually Teach

The polite question:

It is possible that a typing error also occurs
in the statement?

“The possibility of dialogue is inscribed in the
very gesture of theorizing is a gesture of demarcations.”

(Humanist 17.341 theory)

I asked a friend living in the US for the
“is … is”-construction, he said: the first
“is” stands probably for “as”.

The delighted reply:

Very much possible.

It is the second “is” that I would revise as an “as”.

The possibility of dialogue is inscribed in the
very gesture of theorizing as a gesture of demarcations.

However, I would probably, given the chance, rewrite as two sentences:

The possibility of dialogue is inscribed in the
very gesture of theorizing. Theorizing is a gesture of demarcations.

Ironic that a paragraph dealing with the question of demarcations and
hinting at the operations of the unconscious has a sentence that is not
parsable according to correct grammar. : )

You are not only learning you are teaching!

One letter and a verb is turned into a conjunction.

And so for day 2645

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Trip Trap

What I love about this piece of feedback

beautifully designed mind-trap/ip

is that it beautifully captures the hypertext-enabled switch of s/he pronouns at Clioscope in that play between “trip” and “trap” that passes to the reader through the most minimal marker of the /

Note that the “trap” comes before the “trip”. There’s a story there. Or a tipping point /

And so for day 2644

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Extramural: Positions and Attitudes

Back in the day, I began signing my contributions to discussion lists with the moniker “scholar-at-large” and put it in the meta tags to my html page.

<meta name=”description” content=”Scholar-at-large, Francois Lachance
offers various links to studies in technology, perception and
reproduction and electronic text editing as well as multimedia”>

<meta name=”keywords” content=”technology perception reproduction
theory hypertext multimedia electronic pedagogy”>

This is the response I gave way back then to a concerned inquirer (they thought I might be employed in an exploitive fashion).

Scholar-at-large is both attitude and position. Akin in the more ubiquitous “independent scholar” who is without institutional home, it is meant to indicate that extra-muros status as well as to capture the flavour of a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity. Unlike the Ronin, the exploitation factor for this particular scholar is practically nil these days since I now work in the civil service and no longer hold adjunct or sessional positions in the academy. There are some institutions that do have “scholar-at-large” positions that appear to be somewhat like “writers in residence.”

Here’s a different set of opinions:

In my case it is a name I took up and an identity I grew into (still growing).

And so for day 2643

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Small Kindnesses from the September of That Year

What one notices is the sometimes a delicate detail.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Feedback: CBC Radio
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 01:43:24 -0400 (EDT)

I want to thank David Wisdom for the selection of music that concluded
an intense day of listening to media reports and placing phone calls on
September 11th. The first pieces of music that I heard and could listen
to were played on CBC — Phillip Glass playing his own composition for
piano “Metamorphosis” followed by Aretha Franklin giving a soul
rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Somber, clear, expressions of
American culture very worthy of CBC Radio Two’s motto of “Classics and
Beyond”. This was indeed music for the weary mind, body and soul. Much

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: David Wisdom
From:    "Margaret Fitzpatrick" 
Date:    Wed, September 19, 2001 11:42 am

Dear Francois:

Thank you for your e-mail. We appreciate the time and effort you have taken
to email us regarding CBC's programming during this period of crisis in the
United States.  Your kind words are much appreciated.

We will record your comments and suggestions on our Audience Reaction
Report, which is circulated throughout our news staff and amongst our senior
producers and programmers within the CBC including the President and CEO,
Robert Rabinovitch.

Once again thank you for taking the time to e-mail us.

Margaret E. FitzPatrick
Communications Assistant
CBC Audience Relations

Years later, I am reminded …

Everyone needs some positive feedback, and it is in your interest to encourage generous people, who at any rate deserve it.

Miss Manners

And so for day 2642

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Star Crystal

This began as an exchange about the Pantone Color Institute and wishfully getting jobs there setting the colour of the year. We then moved on to found our own colour consultancy agency. My friend thought I would be good at the descriptions. She like my style.

So I gamely offered to gift her with a description. She chose the colour of her couch which is a yellow tone. This is the result:

Star Crystal

You’ve been reading Italo Calvino’s “The Light Years” from the Collected Cosmicomics. And you have been contemplating great distances and the time communication travels the universe and the impossibility of reversing images projected and explaining away initial intentions.

You sit and your light shines on the person sitting next to you. Together your glow radiates to the entire room. You leave and the couch is saturated. Golden. Pollen. Petal Dust. Star Glitter.

And you are thankful for proximity.

A yellow that emanates. Recalls the collision of helium. In a collapsing core. Forecasts ever occurring rise of chains of carbon and life. And stories. A yellow of emanation.

An origin surpassing itself.

A pause that extends beyond light years. Or beyond the moment of reading “The Light Years”. Aglow in the contemplation.

And so for day 2641

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Dare I Teach a Peach?

Reading and participating in the discussion surrounding Kathleen Fitzpatrick‘s Generous Thinking made me primed. I immediately perked up to the possibilities of an analogy with scholars and librarians and teachers and farmers in David Mas Masumoto‘s description of a farmer’s social and professional network.

The journey of my peaches begins with a hand-crafted flavor, born from a regional advantage: the common geography I share with the other family farmers, a proximity that promotes interaction and exchange of information. We hope to learn from and trust each other. Living in this community can become a competitive advantage. Just as my peaches can’t be grown elsewhere, farmer-to-farmer friendships can’t be replaced and our farm stories can’t be duplicated. Small speciality farming depends on collective learning within competitive structure. A chance meeting in town, at a dinner or funeral, provides opportunity to pass on information about market demand, coming legislation, labor trends, and regulations. We exchange our own “consumer’s reports” on equipment and new innovation, especially with pest control. Solutions from the established industry need to be questioned; many of us have learned firsthand about the limited of conventional scientific research.

from Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring

And so for day 2640

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surrender “to” to avoid surrender “of”

Emily Dickinson

I was first attracted by this evocation of a decisive moment in the English-French struggle over Canada: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 1759 … The similarity of the general’s responses to death is belied by the contrast in the syntax of their utterances. One serves a collective enterprise; the other is focused on the individual.


Wolfe demanded during dying
“Which obtain the Day”?
“General, the British” — “Easy”
Answered Wolfe “to die”

Montcalm, his opposing Spirit
Rendered with a smile
“Sweet” said he “my own Surrender
Liberty’s beguile”

The parallelism and the ellipsis in the last two lines trip me up.

This is how I read the lines:

“Sweet” said he “my own Surrender [i.e. to death]
Liberty’s [surrender] [may] beguile”

I take that last verb to be in the subjunctive mood.

I do like the construction:

surrender “to” to avoid surrender “of”

It is a sentiment I believe found in other poems by Dickinson. Time to hunt. Like a bee.

And so for day 2639

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Road Back to Semantics

Umberto Eco
“Porta: Rhythm and The Poetic List”
translated by Samuel Fleck
in Piercing the Page

[A formulation he repeats from the Postcript to The Name of the Rose]

I said that signifiers engender a thought and not that a thought engenders signifiers, the words to express it — and this is my notion of poetry; while on the one hand prose and narrative follow in particular the Ciceronian precept of rem tene verba sequentur, poetry and that of Porta in particular follows the principle in which verba tene, res sequentur. And he says so himself:


Let us return to the concept of physicality of the poetry; let us discuss, that is to say, poetic language more so than mere “poetry,” of doing more than being, of the signifier over the signified. Let us put on hold queries into “what it means,” what it communicates, in order to concentrate our attention on how it is on what sort of thing it is, on how it sounds, on how it is pronounced, on how it stirs the language.

John Picchione introduction to Antonio Porta selections in Italian Poetry Today edited by Ruth Feldman & Brian Swann [p. 413]

In its first stage, Porta’s creativity is guided by a poetics which, on one hand, advocates poetic writing as a cognitive medium capable not only of presenting reality, or history, but also of projecting hypothetical or utopian models of existence, and, on the other, expresses an autonomous conception of art. Poetry is intended as a world in itself and not as a metaphor of the world. The most striking example is represented by Cara (1969), which seems to hypothesize that language represents only the material presence of itself. Poetry is identified solely with its linguistic construction, with the rhythmic and syntactic space in which it moves.


It begins in sound…

Joy Harjo
Beautiful Baby, Beautiful Child (a lullaby)
in Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings

Beautiful baby, beautiful child
Hokosucē herosē, Estuce herosē.


Mvskoke Word List

It carries on in words, songs, toughness and love…

“One Day There Will Be Horses (a traveling song)”

One day, I will have words enough
One day, I will have songs enough
One day, I will be tough enough
One day, I will have love enough
To go home.

Eco, again, ““Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.” Postscript to the Name of the Rose.

One of those stories twice-told is the return to language. Home. A trip to be always undertaken anew.

And so for day 2638

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Daughter of the Dust

Crystal Williams
“For the Woman Who Didn’t Know My Name”

Like a grain of dirt a letter rises

In some old men there is a softness
in voice a hint of dust y Alabama

a bit of grit

And later in the book we come across this appreciation of dirt (and an equal art of spacing)

When I die
my manicured hands,
which have always been plump
and found keyboards necessary,
will have a fine layer of dirt under their nails,
and will be known for their slow and gentle touch.

         I have planted cosmos, asters.

from “At 25, I Have Already Begun to Like Lou Rawls”

In case you missed it, there is a kinship between Kin and dust …

And so for day 2637

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