Entice with Disgust: Shimmer

 Posted by at 12:42 pm  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Feb 212007

- "Cassandra meets Martin".

Something I imagined, or something that actually happened? Being one of the girls with our “made-up pleasures” who nobody takes seriously, sometimes it is hard to know. Cassandra – well, everybody has met at least one, and you have already met me, Gaspara’s sister.

But who is Martin?  Pix_2007_078

I will tell you. Martin is the man on a horse who gave me his cloak, the sort of horse men used to go to war on, heavily muscled with thick necks and strong prancing legs. You see statues of them in the city squares, and there will be a warrior figure of some kind sitting on them. Martin is riding by at a slow trot with a sword in his right hand. It is the time before guns, but even if it wasn’t he would have a sword, because Martin is the kind of young man whatever he asked, you would do it instantly without questioning.

When he got of his horse and gave me his cloak, he said- "We need not connect what is he already joined".


Care Freedom Conspiracy

 Posted by at 11:18 am  Atelier, IN Conversation  Comments Off
Feb 192007

Care, freedom, conspiracy: three words plucked from the weekend’s talking, reading and thinking. The question that comes to mind: what do these three words do to me?

Care is the daily rhythm of activity in relation to my children, wife, partner, lover, other family members, neighbours, friends; a widening circle of obligation, which now includes a threatened planet.

At least I don’t yet have to ‘care’ for the universe . . . oh dear, even in saying it I open myself to my loving care for the universe.

Care means effort is required of me. I’m upset, moved, prodded towards action. Following the prodding and recognising a certain resistance, laziness or impotence, I might have to justify myself as to why I cannot engage in action; I have the capacity to care as a feeling but not care as an action.

Freedom often seems to be opposed to care. The word carefree seems to be close to the experience of freedom. Care diminishes my freedom. It’s not easy to see outside our confining cultural framework. I say, our, by which I suppose I mean what’s often referred to as Western/American/European/capitalist culture with its love of the individual and his/her freedom. Yes, I’m referring to this thing that looks like a snouts-in-the-trough consumerist orgy. And in this culture, care seems to be worth a grat deal less than freedom.

For some reason, at this point, I’m reminded of Saturday’s walk on Dartmoor, and let me go with this apparent change of subject. When, this was on the return part of the walk, we climbed up to East Wight Barrow, struggling across the beastly bogs and tussocks, so we came into mist.

‘It’s impossible to get lost,’ I said, confident of how well I knew this bit of the moor.

But it turned out that within ten minutes I had led us off course by about ninety degrees and as the afternoon light was waning found myself, when the mist lifted somewhat, in an area completely unrecognisable. Fortunately, as we headed down a valley, which I knew was the ‘wrong’ valley, I did begin to recognise where we were and was able to say, ‘oh yeah we just need to cross this swollen stream and climb over this hill and we’ll be back on course.’

It was just getting dark as we reached the parked car.

On Sunday evening I watched the BBC 2 offering on conspiracy theories about 9/11.

So how about:

Caring is about being connected and staying connected.

Freedom is about really knowing where we are when the mist comes down.

Conspiracy is being caught down the wrong valley and insisting, yes, I do know where I am, and creating ever more elaborate theories to account for it.


 Posted by at 2:55 pm  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Feb 182007

Meanwhile, it is Sunday and a day of rest, and I reflected on this work of writing, especially about our imagined meetings and those that happen face-to-face. I also wrote the following letter today:

Mary-Kay Wilmers


London Review of Books


Dear Editor,

Jenni Diski on ‘Second Life’ (8th February 2007) describes her experience of parallel time spent in/on this online ‘social networking’ site on the web, as being like most religions where we get at least another go at being. – “Meanwhile…” would actually be a better way of describing this parallel time; meanwhile I leap my ‘avatar’ (name for parallel Second Life comic strip beings) from place to place; meanwhile I try to have a parallel conversation with another Second Life incarnation; meanwhile in real life my fingers work the keyboard in front of my screen, and biological life goes on. But religion it is not, not any I know worth the name, where the essence is the struggle to escape the – “meanwhile…” and come “face to face…”.

However, don’t dismiss the Blogosphere’s “meanwhile…” experience of life too lightly. The world of instant online publishing is very big. Second Life has 1 million subscribers, but Myspace has 155 million, and Wikipedia lists more than sixty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites) with growing multi-millions of subscribers on each. Something huge is happening in publishing, and, forget Youtube and other image and video broadcasting, it is mainly about publishing the written word.

Thinking about ‘Imagined Communities’ and going back to Benedict Anderson’s seminal 1983 work on the subject, all publishing engages us in the – “meanwhile…”, time-out of biological life spent writing or reading. The Blogosphere is another instance of an imagined community, except they call it ‘virtual’, that is located somewhere between the novel and the newspaper. It therefore interests us, or ought to, ‘us’ here being the LRB imagined community. Is it all the – “same sad little world” made over and over as Jenni Diski concludes?

Much of it is. Surveys show that Blogosphere writers are mostly one-day wonders who give up almost immediately. Sites typically also have ‘nano-audience’ numbers of readers, and even fewer who interact. As Jenni Diski found  in Second Life most people there find conversations, where everything has to be written to be said, too much trouble. The inhabitants of these worlds are characterised, and frequently both appear as ‘avatars’ and behave online, as young and easily bored.

But it is early days in this online publishing “meanwhile…” world, and we are all only beginning to find our way. For instance, we are still only just learning about etiquette, how to greet; must it always be – “Hi…”, or can we also use – “Salaam aleikan, peace be with you” (although a bit of a mouthful I admit)? We are also learning about having meetings, including about how to have sex. The erotic appeared the one bit of Second Life Jenni Diski found genuinely exciting and worth exploring further, but sadly she lacked enough of the local currency – she said.

And perhaps we are in the process of growing up, and discovering other novel aspects of this extraordinary “meanwhile…” world, for instance:

1. The ‘leaky’ writer/reader relationship online, meanwhile real dangers lurk, such as for the iraqi woman writer of the ‘Baghdad Burning’ blog who must not reveal her name for fear of being killed (http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/).

2. Instant online publishing, meanwhile the ‘deep’ is being constructed through manipulating functions such as future and past times of publication, or an ascending or descending order of online entries, creating new book forms. Take for example the imagined community of writers currently engaged on the online publishing of the Samuel Pepys diaries (http://www.pepysdiary.com/)

3. Writing the world of our imagined meetings on Second Life, meanwhile we may, if we wish to learn how to ‘elevate’ our writing, also arrange to meet, receive criticism, work “face to face…” in real life.

By the way in real life this letter will also be posted to JD.

Max Mackay-James



Next week ak and mmj are also meeting in London ‘face-to-face’. It is an essential part of walkingtalkingwriting. It is an essential part of life.


Entice with Disgust: “No, no, no… No?”

 Posted by at 10:49 am  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Feb 172007

No, we girls read it different, the orgasm that is. Here is a marshy spot. Here, where it is moist and damp, both warm and wet, we quake; a delirious place apart, around which terrible stories have grown, the old myths of danger, so that we have been told to keep it zipped, to entice here is evil, to risk the stench of witchcraft, and either mad (hysteric) or sick, or both together if they can make it stick. (See the London Review of Books 8 Feb 2007 Page 13; advertisement by the Harvard University Press for The Case of the Female Orgasm, by Elisabeth A. Lloyd).

- ‘Keep the fuck shut up!’ is the motto of disgust we have been given, a warning to keep quiet, and several of us have come before the Inquisitor. (Harvard University Press allow Amazon to give you a peep inside Elisabeth Lloyd’s cool and measured  – ‘Do not entice! Do not disgust!’ – text in the  publication: Chapter 2, The Basics of Female Orgasm). My sister Gaspara as I have told you before was not quiet and from the mal de mare died young; some would say, both male and female voices speaking now, a fate deserved, along the lines – ‘She had it coming, to have let herself go with that man like that, well, what do you expect?’.

And I Cassandra, permitting Gaspara’s poems to speak through the city presses of old Venegia, transgress in print the rules and customs of our age, and here and here, neither wholly truth nor wholly falsehood, with these our "made-up pleasures" -  letters sent between our imagined community – Posts.


Smouldering Enticements

 Posted by at 2:01 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Feb 162007

Snuggling down in the long grass, on the sloping ground behind the coal shed, close to where I had planted a conker, my own horse chestnut tree, ten inches of investment in the future which was to be sacrificed to grand plans of politicians and for us a new house four miles away.

Was it in a camp I had made–a sheet of some sort, a rope strung between two points–it’s possible. I can see the sunlight through brocaded, faded curtaining, and the intense greenness of the grass inside the tent. I was always making camps somewhere or other; in the garden or across the road in the woods or even crawling into small spaces like the airing cupboard, warm and secret.

In this memory, though it’s in the garden, and I’m snuggling down with a girl, a year or two younger than me, her head thick with blonde curls. Perhaps snuggling gives the wrong impression. Rather a lying next to each other; a quiet, perhaps not touching, savouring of an indistinct excitement. I have no memory of an exchange of words but my senses must have been super alert, a stirring passion that curled and snuggled down into my belly.

A girl from across the road, a neighbour, a girl who was neither implicated in my sister’s account of girlishness, nor my mother’s account of femininity. Instead I could allow my own smouldering erotic mystery to flame gently.

What I now might call sexuality was some haziness in the scheme of things; an erotic version of the cloud that accompanied and surrounded God as he chatted to Moses. My silent worship of the feminine, hidden from the prying eyes, the intrusive banalities of instruction and meaningless activity.

I was a captive, a slave, in a private and willing subjection to the feminine; the laughing muse who might at any moment turn with flashing devastation to shame me.

What was it I had made up?

Shhhhh Kerbang!

At the dawn of time
Mind set about constructing shapes
Hammered into ‘that’ll do’
Unchecked unchanged for centuries
Millennia even
Set to last forever
Until one day
The unwished unrecognised
Stranger steps off the train

And with the merest suggestion of a breeze
The whole edifice collapses like a house of cards.

More on entice/disgust

 Posted by at 3:39 pm  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Feb 152007

The OED suggests that entice may derive from the Old French enticier, to set on fire, which in turn was an alteration to titio, the Latin for firebrand.
That seems about right!
I can identify with the idea of being something rather like dry tinder, except, come to think of it, it’s not dry, so let’s say, rather like petrol or some other highly flammable liquid. A substance that requires only the addition of a spark to burst into out of control flames.
Yes, yes! That’s me, ever on the lookout for that spark.
Unless I’m tired and then it’s off to bed to prepare another volatile mixture for the following day.
What the fire needs is oxygen and here’s the link with inspiration. An inspiring idea, a speech will deliver increased amounts of oxygen to the system. What this seems to be saying is that we yearn to live more–more fully, more deeply, to experience the highs of living.
Ah, so now’s the time to bring in disgust.
Disgust and its close ally, corruption: much in the news at the moment. Or more to the point corruption is never out of the news.
The food on the plate looks so enticing and I’m so hungry.
Yet in a day or two that oh so enticing food is reduced to a turd awaiting examination in the toilet bowl. Like any of our productions it’s worth at least a cursory glance, a brief fascination with this thing that’s come out of our bodies. But catch a whiff of it–yukk! And it’s time to put some distance between it and me.
Turning to another major object of desire: sex. In the earlier stages of my sexual experience, ejaculation, orgasm, was often followed by a brief(ish) visit from disgust, at which point I would want to escape–the woman, the room, get some fresh air, be free.
It was as though I had to learn to hold the physical act of sex within a bigger feeling of love. In other words, lust needed to have a place within love, or it would lead to me doing a runner.

Entice with Disgust: La bella Flora

 Posted by at 1:04 pm  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Feb 132007

Galla… Serenissima… our imagined cities. La bella Flora (signifying ‘Italy’)… Serendip… our imagined communities. "We are made-up pleasures", I begin again.

It was the mistress of Coreggio dressed in widow’s black, Veronica, whose words – "La bella Flora", began the sonnet that ends:
E col consiglio e con la man possente
                   / And with your wisdom and your powerful hands
Fate libera me, voi salve e quiete.
                   / Liberate me; make yourselves free and peaceful
Veronica never remarried, her freedom to work jealously protected by her dress of satin black. A widow after only nine years of marriage to her husband Gilberto, how easily we are separated from our loved ones. How easily the bands are severed.

Pix_2007_087_1We are Honesta / honest women that  protect our honour and tell of virtue threatened. In the Times Literary Supplement, 09 February 2007, page 11, Martin Thom reviews L’onore Della Nazione, Identità sessuali e violenza dal XVIII secolo alla Grande Guerra, by Alberto Mario Banti, and writes in this hsitory – "Banti’s stated intention was in fact to build on Benedict Anderson’s celebrated Imagined Communities (1983)".

I remember both this representation of the ‘Rape of Europa’ in the ante-chamber room on the secondo piano / second floor where women are not permitted, and as a child in our library turning the massive pages of the illustrated books, the Posters of the Great War images that depicted the ‘Rape of Belgium’ and other atrocities. The first memory of enticement only attracts. The other of disgust only repels. Where once there was entice with disgust, now there are these images in which the connection is broken, closed.

We are Honesta, widows all, and we also work to build upon these are our imagined communities, and Into the Blogosphere, the ‘online, edited collection explores discursive, visual, social, and other communicative features of weblogs’; the Accademie dei Dubbiosi / College of the Dubious – we might say, reciting sonnets that begin with the words – "la Bella Flora", and end with ‘an introduction to the imagined communities of instant publishing’ – here.


Entice with Disgust: a Latin Anatomy

 Posted by at 12:49 pm  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Feb 122007

Flattery, caresses, and false declarations of love / lusinga  – "these made-up pleasures", I begin, "that are also our gifts", lusingamente / enticingly (or self-deluding some prefer).

Alletare / to delight, alletante / alluring, these too, even as in other throats – "fa schifo!"/ ‘It is disgusting!’ is breathed out, schifo / nausea, loathing expelled.


Adescare / to lure, and besides allure, fascino del mare / under the lure of the sea, her spell or charm, as well as the corrupting (the sea-witch cursed) touch of salt.

Alletare / and besides delight, by a violent breath of wind, to be bowled or knocked over, flattened to the ground.

To entice with disgusto / disgust, ripugnanza / repugnance, ribrezzo / shudder, or stizza / vex.

But we are honesta / honest women who, in the city where ‘all is put to the service of the re-publica (those things that all share in common), rise up by another way than the way reserved by men, the Golden Staircase from the primo piano / first floor to the second.

My sister Gaspara being inducted into the Accademia dei Dubbiosi (the College of the Doubtful) in 1550, found her voice under the name of "Anaxilla" (signifying the misfortunes of her abandonment): enticing / alletante.

Or the alternative, that of being flattened by a violent breath of wind.

After Gaspara’s death at the age of thirty one from male de mare / the sickness of the sea, I, her sister Cassandra, had published her 311 surviving Rime / poems. "Lasci questo bastarlo", she declared in a song of love, "quello che la fa scrive" / ‘Let it be enough for you, that it makes you write.’