In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hey guess what!

Here's a Melville quote sent my way by Jim Keller after I posted Waveweave, a close-up of a detail from a baby blanket:

"Through the lacings of the leaves, the great sun seemed a flying shuttle weaving the unwearied verdure. Oh, busy weaver! unseen weaver! – pause! – one word! – whither flows the fabric? what palace may it deck? wherefore all these ceaseless toilings? Speak, weaver! – stay thy hand! – but one single word with thee! Nay – the shuttle flies – the figures float from forth the loom; the freshet-rushing carpet for ever slides away. The weaver-god, he weaves; and by that weaving is he deafened, that he hears no mortal voice; and by that humming, we, too, who look on the loom are deafened; and only when we escape it shall we hear the thousand voices that speak through it. For even so it is in all material factories. The spoken words that are inaudible among the flying spindles; those same words are plainly heard without the walls, bursting from the opened casements. Thereby have villainies been detected. Ah, mortal! then, be heedful; for so, in all this din of the great world’s loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be overheard afar."

One can puzzle over why the sun through the leaves becomes the weaving metaphor in Moby-Dick, a novel dominated by tropes of the sea, given that wave and weave share an etymological basis, and that Melville also, like the Dogon people, associates weaving with loudness --it's true that both industrial and treadle-loom weaving make a lot of clacking noise, creakings, etc. –while the romanticized version of the needle arts is of placidity and serenity. Trust Melville to see social relations in even the movement of the sun... Yay Melville.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Warning: Random Intrusion of Po-biz Girl-fun into Textile/Stooges Blog...

I was just tagged by poet and life-coach Arielle Guy to answer a series of questions on my blog. She had been previously tagged by poet and Dusie Kollektiv founder Susana Gardner to answer the same questions. So here goes. I don't usually talk about my poetry "career" (such as it is) here, and in fact there are quite a few questions that don't really resonate, as you may see in my answers. So here goes. So here goes. uhhh... So here goes: QUESTIONS: Q. What is the working title of the book? A. Book? what book? i don't think in terms of books, i create incrementally and then at some point look around and say, hey, maybe i've got the makings of a compendium here. What I envision most clearly now is another x-stitch chapbook like Meshwards, now that I've generated a number of new works. Another book idea is one on Stooges fan culture. The working title is "Stooges Fan Culture and the Glories of Failure." Where did the idea come from for the book? A. x-stitch chapbook: the idea came from doing Meshwards. B. stooges book came from 1. being a stooges fan and 2. learning that the University of Iowa Press has a series on fandom. What genre does your book fall under? 1. visual poetry chapbooks 2. academic/crossover cultural analysis cum storytelling etc. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? B. Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Scott Asheton, Mike Watt, Dave Alexander (RIP), Ron Asheton (RIP), Natalie Schlossberg, Heather Harris, Brian Sg, Danny Fields, Heather Harris, Eric Rasmussen, Jos Grain, and me. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? I'm with you, you're with me, we're going down in history. We're going down. We're going down. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Ask again in a while. Who or what inspired you to write this book? The usual cast of characters. A. Susana Gardner, mIEKAL aND, etc. B. See above. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Lovers of visual poetry, folk arts, textiles, and the Stooges might nibble... Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? a. Dusie Kollektiv b. aforementioned press, we hope. Make up a question you think is pressing in way of poetry today. (put that question here) When will natural processes have an equal place at the table with humans who consider themselves poetry makers?

Friday, January 4, 2013


At last, I'm back. Much has happened in the text/textile world of text, textile, exile in the last year and a half, and i have finally retrieved my password so i can reconnect with this site. For now, I'll just post a very brief etymological chain of the word "lace:" lace (n.) early 13c., "cord made of braided or interwoven strands of silk, etc.," from O.Fr. las "a net, noose, string" (Fr. lacs), from V.L. *lacium, from L. laqueum (nom. laqueus) "noose, snare" (It. laccio, Sp. lazo), a trapping and hunting term, probably from Italic base *laq- "to ensnare" (cf. L. lacere "to entice"). Later also "net, noose, snare" (c.1300); "piece of cord used to draw together the edges of slits or openings in an article of clothing" (late 14c.). The "ornamental net pattern" meaning is first recorded 1550s. Sense of "cord for tying" remains in shoelace. As an adjective, lace-curtain "middle class" (or lower-class with middle-class pretensions) usually is used in reference to Irish-Americans. lace (v.) c.1200, "fasten (clothing, etc.) with laces and ties;" see lace (n.). Also "tighten (a garment) by pulling its laces" (early 14c.). To lace coffee, etc., with a dash of liquor (1670s) was originally used of sugar, and comes via the notion of "to ornament or trim." Related: Laced; lacing. Laced mutton was "an old word for a whore" [Johnson].

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Knit a poem, everybody!

My erstwhile collaborator and pal mIEKAL aND sent me this link from the British Poetry listserv: Turn a poem into a blanket! The British Poetry Society has gone craftsy! Calloo callay, I'm chortling in my joy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

skein, skin

Skein: A mystery word! "O. Fr. escagne, of uncertain origin." Well, somebody must know, though it seems to have survived solely as a (fairly widespread) surname with no meaning attached.
The synonyms below are wonderful, building to a crescendo of hopeless confusion and multiplicity.
It is noteworthy that skein suggests confusion and entanglement, while "clue" comes from a ball of yarn that can lead someone through and out of confusion into clear knowledge and certainty. It's true that in the weaving or knitting process, one turns the skeins into balls of yarn (using a swift, another one of those marvelous words, or a little girl with arms held perpendicular to the floor, about a 16 inches apart, or the back of a chair), which then enables one to move forward into the next configuration: casting warp on the warping board or casting stitches on the knitting needles. But the two forms, skein and ball, don't really look so different, especially as most skeins I buy have already been looped and ordered in some kind of loose way, like those two snuggly littermates I got the other day (and why didn't I get a sensible color like black which I really know I can use?)
Skin, on the other hand, goes on and on, but in a somewhat confused way. However, this morsel–Ir. scainim "I tear, I burst"–is just what I'm looking for. No skin without being skinned. No surface without scarring. No border without transgression. Bursting out of your skin comes along with having skin.


-a length of wool or thread loosely wound into the shape of a ring
-a large group of wild birds such as geese

Etymology+Origin of skein (noun)
c.1440, from M.Fr. escaigne "a hank of yarn," from O.Fr. escagne (1354), of uncertain origin.

Synonyms for skein (noun)
jungle * , muddle , snag , labyrinth , coil , mat , jam * , thread , entanglement , mess * , mix-up , web , snarl , series , morass , strand , rummage , sequence , tangle , flock , twist , knot , maze , cat's cradle , mass , complication , mesh

3 entries found adjective | noun | verb |

Etymology+Origin of skin (adjective)

c.1200, "animal hide" (usually dressed and tanned), from O.N. skinn "animal hide," from P.Gmc. *skintha- (cf. O.H.G. scinten, Ger. schinden "to flay, skin;" Ger. dial. schind "skin of a fruit," Flem. schinde "bark"), from PIE *sken- "cut off" (cf. Bret. scant "scale of a fish," Ir. scainim "I tear, I burst"), from base *sek- "cut." Replaced native hide; the modern technical distinction between the two words is based on the size of the animal. Meaning "epidermis of a living animal or person" is attested from 1340; extended to fruits, vegetables, etc. 1398. ~123~"Ful of fleissche Y was to fele, Now ... Me is lefte But skyn & boon." [hymn, c.1430]~123~Jazz slang sense of "drum" is from 1927. As an adj., it formerly had a slang sense of "cheating" (1868); sense of "pornographic" is attested from 1968. The verb is attested from 1392, from the noun. Skin-tight is from 1885; skin deep is first attested 1613 in this:~123~"All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin-deep." [Sir Thomas Overbury, "A Wife," 1613; the poem was a main motive for his murder]~123~

Synonyms for skin (adjective)
starkers , unclad , nude

Definition skin (noun)

outer covering, especially of animate being

Notes to skin (noun)

Synonyms for skin (noun)

membrane , crust , case , jacket , fell , bark , surface , coating , casing , leather , slough , rind , exterior , husk , parchment , envelope , hide , bill , dermis , carapace , shell , sheath , complexion , derma , integument , outside , tegument , epidermis , sheathing , peel , fur , coat , cutis , shuck , vellum , film , pelt , chamois , hull

Definition skin (verb)

-the natural outer layer which covers a person, animal, fruit, etc.
Examples for skin

-dark/fair/pale/tanned skin
-skin cancer
-Babies have soft skins.
-Native Americans used to trade skins (= the skins of animals that have been removed from the body, with or without the hair).
-a banana/potato skin
-The bullet pierced the skin of the aircraft.
-Many electronic devices let you create your own skins.
-We had no umbrellas so we got soaked to the skin in the pouring rain.
-I don't worry about what he says - I have a very thick skin.
-I've got an old sheepskin coat.

Synonyms for skin (verb)

remove , knock , bare , abrade , scalp , decorticate , bark , strip , criticize , husk , shave , thwart , scale , denounce , exuviate , rap , scrape , condemn , gall , cut up , unclothe , cut off , undo , cast , shed , peel , blame , flay , pull off , cheat , rip off , defeat , exploit , lay bare , hull , maul , chafe , disarm , excoriate , shuck , pare , rind , deceive , trim , slough , graze

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hand-dyed Silk in Basel

My first day in Basel was Thursday. I slept for a few hours, then went with my hostess, Kathrin Schaeppi, to an English-language poetry reading at the University. En route we passed the open market at Barfüsseplatz (named after the barefoot Franciscan friars, and not, as i first thought, after the discalc'd Carmelites...) and I spied a color-draped booth with skeins of all possible hues hanging in rows in sumptuous splendor. We made a beeline for it and I ogled the goods. The woman was French-speaking, from La Chaux-de-Fonds; she gave me her card: Holzart Atelier Hachem ("tournage et découpe de bois /soie et laine"); her son does the wood-turning and she does the dyeing of silk and linen. It was expensive, as is everything in Switzerland, but I couldn't resist, esp as I was vulnerable from many hours of travel and few hours of sleep. I picked out two skeins in somewhat counter-intuitive colors for me: yellow variegated and slate-blue/yellow variegated. Here's a picture; I'd forgotten my camera on the excursion so didn't get a pic of the booth and the beautiful artisan. However, she's there every second Thursday so I'll get a chance to revisit the scene. This picture is taken against the sheets of my cozy single bed on Bachlettenstrasse. The two skeins look so happy nestled together; it's a case of do-i-want-to-impose-violence-on-them-through-use or do I want to hang them on my wall when I return? The loom room at home is painted a compatible color, a dark blue-gray. Perhaps that's why I chose these colors. I'm not sure which of my friends would wear them, or what I can make: 400 metres per skein, she says.
Skein/skin. Almost too obvious, as in Stein's Miss Furr and Miss Skeene, who were so close, like my two lovely loopy skeins of silk, that they were "regularly gay." But a proper etymological romp remains to be romped.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Reverse Waterfall

Here is a short video by the great Cecilia Vicuña at her Oysi site (listed to the right), a wonderful database of and resource for oral poets around the world. Gorgeous strands of dyed and carded but unspun roving hanging down from a well-like opening of light; in Douglass Library, it seems, at Rutgers University. The pure-voiced singing also echoes as if rising from a well. Women's labor re-imagined as unalienated in orange, tan, colors. A real delight.