The Spoils: November 2012


  1. Poasis: Selected Poems 1986-1999 by Pierre Joris (a review, a second, a third)
  2. Best-selling Jewish Porn Films: New Poems by Wayne Koestenbaum
  3. The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg (a reviewanothera story from the book, another that isn’t)

The Spoils: March 2012

March almost went by without a purchase, despite a promise I made earlier. In the last couple of days of the month, however, I chanced upon three books I just HAD to buy as soon as I saw them:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly Print Annual 1
  2. The Autobiography Of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes (reunited!)
  3. Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins (been waiting for this collection since 2009)


Approaching The Paperless Course

(This entry by no means comes close to being a coherent statement of pedagogy. All these are really just notes to myself, URLs to save, considerations to keep in mind, etc.)

Over the past few semesters, I’ve been trying to explore new ways of providing an online component to my class. I’ve used Wikidot, WetPaint, Facebook Groups set up by my students, and WordPress three times (dot-com only, not dot-org). All of them worked well in their own ways, though Wikidot and WetPaint seem to me to have already run their course (pun unintended).

With a new school year beginning next month, all the entries I’ve been reading from the ProfHacker blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education are making me consider going even further (just one example, among others). I can’t actually go completely paperless, but I think I can approach it far more closely than I ever have before. At the very least, I can do a class where the majority of requirements will be “digital.”


I need something to replace Wikidot and WetPaint, perhaps also Facebook Groups, but I’d like to continue using WordPress. I’m looking into Google Docs too, especially for the theses I will be advising: the new Discussions function seems quite a promising feature. While I’m at it, I’d also like to do something with Google Calendar.

If I simply stick with the WordPress and Google (Docs and Calendar) configuration, I think I’ll be okay. I’ve been quite lazy dealing with WordPress, after all. I don’t think I can match the scale of the UMW aggregation of blogs (home of the wonderful Looking for Whitman), but I’d like to believe this one could be approximated had I but effort enough and time.


The thing is, though, I’m somewhat liking two new online services I’ve just discovered recently: Engrade and Canvas. I’m still working my way through the former, but the latter looks as if it sports a better interface. Whichever of these two works better, the question will still revolve around integration with WordPress and Google. I suspect both Engrade and Canvas might be superfluous, at least from the user experience of students.

It’s that which is really proving a rather formidable concern. I also used Twitter and course hashtags once, which worked for a while for a select few students, particularly those who already had Twitter accounts. The rest clamored for a Facebook Group, which we eventually set up.


For my Horror film course, all film journal entries will be online as usual, but I need better venues for quick and snappy sharing of information ( or Droplr are my simplest options) as well as threaded discussions. I’ll figure out a way for students to have a place to submit their essays, which everybody else can read. I’ll also ask them to do a presentation one of the films screened in class. I’m sure I can think of more requirements (maybe quizzes, which I’ve never given before in ten years of teaching, maybe a return to wiki work in the form of collaborative class notes), but this is good enough for now.

For the theses I’m advising, everything can be done online, except for the requirements which require consultation and collaboration with the rest of the thesis committee. Thesis proposals, defense drafts, and final copies will still have to be “physical,” but I’m sure Google Docs will be good for submitting the other parts.

Four Things

I am, at the moment, so intrigued by:
  1. Invisible Cities: not just the book by Italo Calvino (the first of his works I’ve read and still my favorite after nearly two decades), but the multimedia design project I just downloaded
  2. American Women Poets in the 21st Century: not only because of the poets who appear and how they’re presented in this anthology (a selection of poems is followed by a statement of poetics from the poet herself and then a critical essay about them by another), but also because its subtitle (“Where Lyric Meets Language”) is something I aspire to in my own work
  3. Ghostlier Demarcations: not only for borrowing (from Wallace Stevens) a great title for a book on “modern poetry and the material word,” but also because every poet Michael Davidson discusses is someone I find intriguing, if not inspirational in one way or another
  4. Living in Ballardian Times: not only for being the syllabus for a course on Ballard that I want to attend but one I want to teach

In Smiley’s World

As preparation for my most-anticipated film for 2011, based on one of my favorite novels of all time, I’m currently listening to the recent Radio 4 adaptation. (Later, I plan to re-watch the television adaptation and to re-read the book, of course.)

I’ve just finished listening to the second of its three parts this morning, which means I’m as fully immersed as work and the rest of my life allows, which led to several misadventures this morning (and no, this is by no means an attempt at a Le Carre pastiche; I doubt I’ll ever have that man’s facility with language).

I arrived at the office and immediately opened the briefcase handcuffed to my wrist my bag, which contained a highly-sensitive dossier recommendation letter I wrote for an agent a student who was picking it up that morning from my local runner the Department secretary. The student requested for this letter by dropping me a note in a dead-letter drop my pigeonhole last week. He arrived as I was encoding preparing the document for his pick-up this morning. I was momentarily startled, as if he broke cover, but I simply handed him the letter and wished him luck in his mission application.

The next bit is a little funnier since I virtually sound like I’m in the intelligence business here, with minimal moments of sous rature:

One of my research assistants handed me the highly-confidential (it really was, as indicated by the stamp on the sealed envelope I was given) mission briefing project appointment from HR. (Come to think of it, it IS a mission briefing, since it details a special and somewhat secret project I’ve been tasked to do.) It was a vital document that needed to go to my contact in Personnel, who had been calling me about it for the past two weeks, so I immediately went out and headed over there to pass it on.

Since I’ve been quite absent-minded these days, it took me a while to notice the envelope had my name on it as a receiver: I was so overwhelmed by the importance of the document, which up until this morning I didn’t even know existed, that I thought it was something for Personnel’s eyes only. Realizing my mistake, I opened it, clumsily tearing the envelope in my haste, certainly looking as if I was about to read something I wasn’t supposed to. I signed the document, but realized at the last minute that I needed to take note of details (like my salary) I needed to tell Control my wife.

So I took photographs of the document with the camera on my mobile phone.

I also picked up my paycheck today, and of course, I had to show my papers faculty ID first before signing a release form that had me leaving Accounting with a smile on my face and Smiley on my head heart head heart END TRANSMISSION.


178. The four classes of play—if I can recall, I no longer own the book: competition, make-believe, chance and vertigo.

What a coincidence! I was just discussing these ideas with the students in my Information Society class. I wish I could remind Kearney that these ideas are from Roger Caillois, who uses the Greek terms: respectively, agon, mimesis, alea, and ilinx.

(And that link has a great set of explanations of the terms, including its relationship to improvisatory paidia and structured ludus.)

POET : Douglas Kearney : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

From Bishop To Deane

“The Nit Pickers” is Ward Sutton’s new Drawn To Read (a book review in comic form) about the “centenary editions” of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, prose, and correspondence with The New Yorker.

(I’m trying not to get excited over the title of Bishop’s “In The Village” for reasons that have little to do with her, although I was thrilled to have discovered a poet named Nichola Deane while looking for links about Bishop.)

Aside from an abiding interest in Romantic poetry (an area I’m currently pondering), Deane has nine blog entries about Nick Cave (she also has PJ Harvey‘s official site on her blogroll), once interviewed Clive James on F. Scott Fitzgerald, has a poem-cycle about Lee Miller in Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet, and counts Bishop, Patti Smith, and Maya Deren among her triptych of influences. They’re certainly on mine, too.

Seven for Today

There’s too much work to be done for me to read any of these right now, but apparently not so much work that I can’t take note of the URLs here:

  1. The Anagram, the Palindrome & One-Dimensional Cosmology: Because I do love mathematics. Or, more precisely, I want to love mathematics, but only on my own terms.
  2. Admittedly, “Music for Shuffle” isn’t really something to read, but something I will download and play and enjoy in its infinite variety. I have a feeling this might be a really good piece of music to listen to while writing.
  3. Don’t Look Now and Roeg’s Red Coat” is an evocative article on an evocative article of clothing in an evocative film.
  4. I could have sworn I once had a read-along children’s book version of Tron. That’s now lost, but this has been found.
  5. Peter Bogdanovich talks about what we really mean, or what we really should mean, when we talk about “poetry in film.”
  6. “Angry Nerds” has a funny title, but serious philosophical AND social consequences in its discussion of the dangers of misunderstanding Nietzsche.
  7. Chad McCail makes beautiful art.

I’d like to mention that the first two were  from the Twitter timeline of Christian Bök, who has delighted me in so many ways. I think I’ll do practice drills in French using his reading and translation of Rimbaud’s “Voyelles.”

Poetry Plus

Douglas Kearney already has two pieces on the Craft Work section of the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog. Both gather aphorisms on his poetics.

The first is “Mess”:

My poetry is often guided by an impulse to fail.

When this is the case, writing is an attempt to salvage something from the mess.

The second is “Mass”:

In effect, the poem may perform an attempt to master amassed mess.

Since he’ll be posting for the next two months, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing “Miss,” “Muss,” perhaps even “Moss” next. I, for one, am looking forward to the rest of his pieces.


Just as interesting is Brian Kim Stefans, who talks about the Surrealist Fortune Cookie in a lecture on “the Holy Grails of electronic literature” and “seven varieties of crisis.” He’s also written “A Manifesto for Video Game Developers” and a freeware “anthology” or “syllabus” that serves as an introduction to electronic literature. Had I known about that last one, I would have taught a class with it.

First Five (or So) Books for 2011?

resolve plan to not only read but finish more books this year, and I hope this includes some novel-length fiction. God knows how I plan to get this done, given how the holiday break from school and work has ended (not that I read much during Christmas vacation). In addition, not only do I need to worry about the regular work that has resumed and needs to be done, I also have to review and prepare for my foreign language exam.

Still, this is what I have on my plate at the moment. Having several books to read in one go is going to be either a good idea or a counter-productive one:

  1. The Keep by Jennifer Egan: It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned Egan here, but with A Visit from the Goon Squad still unavailable here, I’m pleased to have found a copy of her previous novel in the meantime.
  2. Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside, edited by Courtland Lewis and Paula Smithka: I claim it’s for class, but it’s really more for fun. My own take for the Doctor Who course I’m teaching, which is not as impressive as this by the way, is closer to…
  3. Triumph of a Time Lord: Regenerating Doctor Who in the Twenty-First Century by Matt Hills, which uses a Foucauldian discursive approach to discuss my own pet issues surrounding the program in particular and television studies in general.
  4. Unending Design: The Forms of Postmodern Poetry by Joseph M. Conte: It’s my first time in a long time to check out a library book, and I’m hoping this one can help me prepare for my thesis, in which I’m going to try a long poem.
  5. The H.D. Book by Robert Duncan: I want to know more about these two poets, so discovering this, given its recent reissue, is more than welcome. That said, I’m broke now, so I’m reading this version.

Irritatingly, only one of those books is a novel. I guess I should also mention that I’m trying to get into Hart Crane. I don’t presume to understand his poems well, but I love reading them aloud. Again, because I’m too broke to pick up the Library of America edition of his works, I’m working with this older collection.