Pierre Joris on Douglas Oliver.


Alexander Cockburn explores the distant past in Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need To Know


Fighting the heat-induced torpor, Katie and I took a Saturday afternoon field trip to the Met. The East Village in full afternoon sunlight felt like Death Valley or Reno. We immediately caught the uptown 21, a polarity of that familiar line I am less intimate with. The bus runs up the frontage road, with its odd no-man's-land configurations of cramped parking areas and besieged/empty feeling slivers of park space that dwell beneath the FDR exactly like the setting of a 1970s J. G. Ballard novel.

The public transportation karma was clearly switched on for the trip, because the 6 train was practically waiting for us at the transfer. Space can render itself as sheer obstruction in New York City, especially when you are in a hurry and confronted with a maddeningly slow wall of people creeping up a subway station's stairs as though they were at a funeral. When the stars align in the right way, though, even the most distant destination can seem to gravitate toward you within a spectacularly short time frame -- in this case about a half an hour.

So we arrived at 5th Ave, walked past the swarms of loitering tourist and headed into the massive hording-behavior spectacle of empire that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, intent on checking out Treasures of the Sacred Maya Kings, a kind of lifestyles of the sacred Mayan rich and famous / Mayan MTV cribs.

There were ceremonial and ritual objects and some status objects and expensive kitchenware, fascinating and beautiful, most of it the accoutrements of a religiously justified system of class warfare only slightly more explicit than the one whereby The President of the United States believes he has been chosen by God to run the country. Beholding the Mayan jade blood letting needle of the king, I couldn't help wondering if any blood spilled on the ground during our president's periodic mountain biking accidents might not result in some kind of spontaneous eruption of petrochemicals from the earth, magically ensuring a profitable financial quarter for Halliburton.

The most interesting objects to me were the ones that incorporated the images of animals into the object design, this cormorant for instance. There was also a lovely caiman /crocodile. Whoever the craftsmen was who earned a living creating this kind thing for king/priest class, that person certainly had a feeling for the animal. The little crock was what you would call cute, foreshortened, rounded and fierce in an adorable way. The power of cuteness is an affirmation that we very much belong to the animal kingdom. Looking at this thing, I momentarily lose the sense of religion as class warfare and feel the natural environment this civilization lived in transmitting information to me through this thing via it's anonymous human creator.


Cool water courtesy of Alex.


Staring at the tunnel doesn't make the train come any faster -- or does it?

That is: what qualifies as a state of poetic concentration,

even if no poem is produced?