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Sometimes Stops Being


—–     —–     —–

sometimes taxi dog’s blue.  sometimes stops being.
bees someone “else”.  lost somelongtime now.  fragmented, loozing hiz gripz.
Becoming…   …   …?
hard to describe.  looked for coincidences.  Serendipities.

—–     —–     —–

now, not describing, more being.
conclusion?  not yet.  not now.
but feelz goode…   …   …words flow, non-sensemaking, easzier.
all the betterer, all the meaning-er.

—–     —–     —–

Not for you?
i take’m as they are…   …   …out of analysis, out of form(alde)…   …   …hyding.
Will you see the strange reading
I’m sure, I think, for you.
For me; ecstasy!
A lopstuck piglet?
Who knows?

—–     —–     —–

What’s written is a manufractured, pro-ducttaped assemblage.  an un-naturaled axe.
Want “heard”!
Want Meant!
Allizz what I can write-right now.  Allizz is fragments.
writing fragments like the end.  ’til the end.  ’til I end.
‘Til I write in an ‘other’ way.

—– —– —–

brainworthy of worry?  scary to me.  How to know; lest you know.  tell me?
Maybe brained injured writers will be all the rage in the later parts of his decage (sic?).
Stick to the sictionary, TD.  browse the Classics. paleontology?  knew her sisters well:  Ellis and Anne?
The Brontesauruses?
Pun-machine hymning,
thanks God!

—– —– —–

I’m no eecummings.  and hezze no me.
Go nightnight  Go to my cell.

—– —– —–

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Wish you were h…(gulp)

You know how I feel about excuses, but the last few months have been like that picture:  menacing doom!!  But its only a feeling, right?   Everything is really okay.  Right?  Still, the loss of control haunts me still.  Everything seems okay.  Until its not!!

And so fast.  Each day get gets a little bit worse than the other.  You say ‘I’ll do this’ or ‘say that’.  And you get all tied up like Brer Rabbit in the briar patch, with only your wits to help you.  You’ll live on, but you’re a bit less sure.  PTSD with a serio-dramatic twist.  Laugh or Die.  Laugh AND die!!

I thought that if I could write it out, I’d be cured.  But its not happening.  Middle of June, middle of July, and its August.  I was exhausted.

I start again.

Just a little post today.

Next week I’ll be taking a class on memoir writing.   Like a writers’ workshop where we critique each others produce.  And some classic memoirs found in The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate.  Maybe I’ll get to be a better writer.  Maybe not.

I’ve been reading Duane Kelly’s blog, “Lapis Loquens” where he gives caveats to the frustrated artist.  But its approaching mid-night and tomorrow WILL be another day.

The Monstrous Blank Page

You’ve been staring at me for weeks, you hobgoblin.

You son of a whore.

Mindless.  Voiceless.  Hole who looks back at me with mendacity.

I scream at you.  Poke at your chest. Scratch at you eyes.



—-   Two   —-




Rock back and forth on my heels.

Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe Tomorrow.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe Tomorrow.

But I HAVE started; haven’t I !

I win.

I’m A Baaad Boy…

…and I broke up a ‘party’ with my big mouth.

A colleague, seventhvoice.wordpress.com, organized a Collaborative Poetry contest.  In these “contests”, poets build lines of verse, one at a time, into a complete work of art.  Like painting a picture, one stroke at a time; each painter adding one brushstroke.

It sounded interesting to me.  I can’t paint worth a damn.  With oils, I could make quite a mess.  But words…   …   …what harm could I do?

Charles Dickens

I thought and I thought.  And I recalled a story I once heard:

Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo were once challenged to write the shortest possible English sentence.  Dickens wrote furiously, editing as he scribbled along, producing, “I win”.  But Hugo won!  His sentence:

! “.

I wanted in on Seventh Voice’s contest, but I don’t have the “cojones” to go quill to quill with Dickens or Hugo.

The collaborative poem went along like this:

I used to have a perfect mouth,

That spoke of days gone by (Ruth2day)

Where imperfect syllables came out (Ian Moone)

funny, often wry (Julia Dean Richards)

As I greenly kissed your azure heaven (Lady Day)

but none listened (Ariane Zurcher)

And you hear of many truths (Boomiebol)

From the heart my words would flow (paulaacton)

Glittering in a pretentious dye (parshant)

With dirty words I just can hold back. (Silentlyheardonce)

to poison those I love, (Sacha Black)

distorted but defining (Cathmae)

We look to the heavens above (Nutsfortreasure)

The repressed taint redounded (Angel Fractured)

Victor Hugo

I thought about that contest between Dickens and Hugo.  And made my contribution.

It went like this:

—     “fin”    —

Yes, I’m a baaad boy.


NeuroScience: Anticipation And Feeling In Literature – 2


How is it that readers can sense a direction, a possible future meaning, from a given sentence?

This is the basic question of the neuroscience of literature.  David S. Maill, http://www.ualberta.ca/~dmiall/ University of Wales, currently at the University of Alberta, CA,has studied in this area for decades.

“What are its causes, and what are the inferential processes that are initiated? How does the sense of a whole arise, and from what aspects of a text? And what is the relation between these two levels of response, the local and the global? These prospective aspects of response have not generally received much consideration from psychologists: models of response have proposed solutions drawn from non-literary fields (usually cognitive science) that underestimate the nature of the problem.

For example, the concept of macro-structure proposed by Kintsch and Van Dijk (1978) seems inadequate as a representation of the kinds of overall understanding at which readers of literary texts aim. Similarly, the discourse structure described by Hobbs (1990) takes no account of the poetic features of literary texts that delight and surprise their readers (see Beers [1987] and Miall and Kuiken [1994a], for some critical discussion of theories of this kind). Moreover, studies in the cognitive tradition have also tended to blur distinctions between literary and non-literary texts, and have provided no purchase on the individual differences between readers or on the personal and often feeling-rich meanings evoked during literary reading (cf. Zwaan, 1993, p. 162-7).”

“We do not wait until reaching the end of a text before beginning to entertain ideas about what the text means!

Various aspects of the text, semantic, stylistic, and narrative, provide suggestions upon which a reader is likely to build his or her own anticipations.

This can be demonstrated by a brief analysis of the following passage, taken from the opening of a short story by Virginia Woolf, “Together and Apart” (Woolf, 1944/1982):

Mrs Dalloway introduced them, saying you will like him. The conversation began some minutes before anything was said, for both Mr Serle and Miss Anning looked at the sky and in both of their minds the sky went on pouring its meaning though very differently . . .

The narrative situation at the outset seems to involve a social gathering, such as a party. From the second phrase, “you will like him,” we are likely to infer, perhaps without noticing it, that there will be a bias towards the point of view of the female character (which is confirmed by the remaining part of the long second sentence that I have not quoted). The opening phrase of the next sentence, “The conversation began,” picks up an obvious expectation that the characters will begin talking, but then thwarts it by stating that nothing was said. What kind of non-verbal conversation are these characters holding? We may already be predicting something like rapport or sympathy, especially as we have been told that she “will like him.” In the next phrase we discover that the meeting appears to be out of doors, and for many readers the reference to the effect of the sky might momentarily evoke a romantic aura; however, the appended phrase, “though very differently,” could be taken to undermine this. So far, then, a narrative situation has been invoked, in which a woman meets a man with whom she may feel an immediate sympathy: already, readers may be anticipating a romantic scenario. The stylistic features can be construed to support this, given the metaphors of a conversation without words and the sky that “pours” meaning. At the same time, hints of a possible distance between the characters could also be read into the same metaphors, for which the phrase “very differently” provides evidence. Perhaps these are two characters who will in some way fail to relate to each other.”

“Within a few seconds a range of complementary but also contradictory responses has become possible. While some of the inferences that are made may be confirmed or not confirmed quickly (as happens with the inference of point of view), others may not be satisfied so soon: the reader may need to keep in play several possible meanings that will have a bearing not only on the outcome of the story (the narrative dimension) but also on what it means (the point of the story, or its theme). The reader must, in other words, assess the strength of the different implications, such as those presented in the second sentence, in the light of subsequent evidence, and decide which offer the best fit to the story as a whole. In fact, the failure of relationship is the implication that the story will emphasize. (A study of readers’ responses to this story found that readers tended to shift from a romantic interpretation at the beginning of the story to one involving isolation or inability to communicate: Miall, 1989a.)”

“Woolf’s story is not particularly unusual as a literary text in posing such problems, except perhaps in being unusually compact. The problem, from the perspective of reader response theory, is to account for the processes by which local details, of the kind we have been describing, project the larger meanings. In what form are such anticipations made, and what control processes do readers use to evaluate and monitor their anticipations?”

“Two reader response theorists who discuss the experience of reading in this way are Stanley Fish and Wolfgang Iser. In “Affective Stylistics” Fish (1980) argued persuasively for the significance of the experience of the reader during reading. The extraction of a “correct” final meaning for a text is not the only reading activity in which we should be interested. Fish pointed in particular to a range of syntactical devices by which readers are led to expect meanings that are then contradicted. At the sentence level, Fish would, for example, recognize the shift in meaning of “conversation” in Woolf’s second sentence as a significant strategy from the reader’s perspective. He proposed that “the temporary adoption of these inappropriate strategies is itself a response to the strategy of an author; and the resulting mistakes are part of the experience provided by that author’s language and therefore part of its meaning” (p. 47). Iser (1978) has offered a comparable account of reading, based primarily on concepts drawn from phenomenology and gestalt psychology. The “gaps” or “blanks” in a text (such as the possible contradiction we noticed in the Woolf passage) require readers’ acts of “ideation” and the building of a schema adequate to the text as a whole. Neither Fish nor Iser, however, have undertaken to develop their models in psychological terms; nor have they attempted to test them empirically with readers (and Fish has not continued to develop his model).”

“A part of Iser’s argument is the contention that fiction texts differ from expository texts in terms of the mental processes required for understanding them. An expository text refers to a given object, thus the range of possible meanings of each sentence must continually be narrowed down to make reference precise. During a fictional text “the very connectibility broken up by the blanks tends to become multifarious. It opens up an increasing number of possibilities, so that the combination of schemata entails selective decisions on the part of the reader.” (1978, p. 184). In effect, an expository text refers to an object that is specified with increasing precision; a fictional text refers forward to a schema that the reader must bring into being. The two reading processes may roughly be described as retrospective and prospective. An empirical comparison of readers’ activities during the reading of an essay or a fictional text by Olson, Mack, and Duffy (1981) showed that while few anticipations were made during the reading of essays, anticipations were characteristic of the response to stories. Readers of essays appear to be engaged in building a model of the text: “Each new element in the essay is related to earlier elements. There is little anticipation of what is coming up, except at the most general level.” In contrast, the reader of a story “is looking ahead, trying to anticipate where the story is going. Except at the beginning, where an overall hypothesis is being developed, the story reader tends to relate each sentence to the general hypotheses and predictions that have been developed” (p. 311).”

“The different orientations are described in the Olson et al. study as retrospective and prospective. Unlike this report, however, accounts of literary reading proposed by psychologists have more frequently tended to embody retrospective models, based on discourse theory or schema theory (e.g., Hobbs, 1990; Simon, 1994). While such theories have been notably successful in accounting for some of the processes of comprehension, given relatively simple prose or stories, the key role of the anticipatory processes of the kind required by literary texts is largely invisible to such models. The difficulty of studying the anticipatory aspects of reading, and the lack of constructive thought about this problem on the part of cognitive scientists, points to the strategy offered in this article. As a way of posing more explicitly and in more detail what specific problems face the literary reader in the anticipatory domain, and to enrich theoretical understanding of reader response, the present focus will be on a neuropsychological model of reading.”

“The focus of the discussion will thus be on anticipation, and its role in the constructive process by which a reader interprets details in a text and works towards an understanding of a text as a whole. However, several of the neuropsychological studies that will be mentioned point to the role of feelings and emotions in creating and supporting the anticipatory function. Feelings, it will be suggested, probably play the central role in initiating and directing the interpretive activities involved in such complex activities as reading. A glance at recent accounts by psychologists shows that the anticipatory role of feeling in this respect has not received much consideration (e.g., Frijda, 1986; Oatley, 1992; but see Aylwin, 1985, pp. 136-7), although it was recognized by various authors in the last two centuries, such as Coleridge and William James. This points to the need for a systematic investigation of what the neuropsychological research suggests, in order that the hypotheses it provides can be brought to the domains of both psychology and reader response studies for elaboration and testing.”


NeuroScience: Anticipation and Feeling in Literary Response

Poetics, 1995, 23, 275-29 


Anticipation and feeling are taken to be significant components of the process of literary reading, although cognitive theories of reading have tended to neglect them.

How does the brain make sense of its neurological inputs in order to make sentence make sense?  This is the first of two posts from David S. Miall, Department of English, University of Alberta, in which he expounds on the Neuroscience of literature.

“Recent neuropsychological research is described that casts light on these processes: the paper focuses on the integrative functions of the prefrontal cortex responsible for anticipation and on the contribution of feeling to the functions of the right cerebral hemisphere.”

It shows how feelings appear to play a central role in initiating and directing the interpretive activities involved in such complex activities as reading.

“In particular, a key feature of literary texts that captures and directs response is foregrounding, that is, distinctive stylistic features: these defamiliarize and arouse feeling. Such responses are likely to be mediated by the right hemisphere, which is specialized to process novelty. An analysis of the neuropsychological mechanisms implicated in response to foregrounding suggests how readers discriminate among competing interpretive possibilities, and how other important elements of literary response such as imagery, memory, and self-referential themes and concerns are recruited.”

“Several studies are cited indicating that response to various characteristic components of literary texts is mediated by this hemisphere, including the prosodic aspects of foregrounding, figurative language, and narrative structure. This hemisphere also provides the context for elaborating and contextualizing negative feelings, a process related to Aristotle’s notion of catharsis. It is argued that the neuropsychological evidence sketched in this paper provides a more reliable basis for future theoretical and empirical studies of literary reading.”

The article is comprehensive and goes on for several pages.  In the last installment, below, I’ll summarize the findings and conclusions.    The link to the entire article is included.


An Un-Illuminated Manuscript

UN-Illuminated Manuscrpts

But they’re in the process of being illuminated.  I’m just in the beginning stages of each post.  Hopefully I’ll remember to complete them.

Am I becoming more manic?  Time will tell!

1- The Man In The Iron Lung

2- Is Conversation A Lost Art?

3- Koan And Katz

4- Fear And Loathing In Psychology

5- Zen Is Boring!

6- Sit Down And Shut Up!

7- Blogging Too Complicated?

8- In The Event Of My Death

9- Doctor My Eyes

10- Its Bach-y-Rita’s Helmet, But Its Cheryl’s Tongue

11- Chemay!!!

12- A Matter Of Loaf And Death

13- “Left” Gets It Right. “Right” Is Right.  So Who’s Left?

14- My Political Compass

15- Camiile

16- Medical And Mystical

17- Malthus Was Wrong Says Both Right And Left, And Wrong!

Me Dreyfus, You Jane

I found a friend from grade school on Facebook.

Coney Island Express

She wrote,

I joined the circus so part of time I’m traveling and
performing as a high wire ballerina-the rest of the
time I live in New York City and work as a dental
hygienist. Life is good!

 And I responded,

The circus? Where were you when I needed you? All those floppy shoes in my closet! And me, in my baggy pants, doing my sailors jig looking for you. What a pair we would have been!

Instead, I’m a retired psychotherapist in California. You haven’t been on this website for years. But just in case, I’ve left you the keys to my locker and, if you need help, just whistle. Phew! Phew. and we’ll run off together. I have the keys to my dad’s old jollopy, jellopie, JALOPY, what-ever [thanks, wikipedia] and off we’ll go.

Its a shame you’ll never see this. I had great fun writing it.  Hope all is well.

And now, we’re now corresponding.  So;

Hi, Jane:

There’s so much to tell.  But first, the formalities.  I’ve learned the hard way how easy to be misinterpreted on the ‘net so don’t get angry but I just want to correspond.   Hope you have similar good, healthy social instincts too.

Enough of that.

When I saw your bio I thought, “I should have known you better”, in the day.  I was so ‘spaz” then.  I was so scared.  Vietnam, the “Cuban Missile Crisis“, the whole 60s thing…and all I could think of was “Should I join the ”Weathermen’ or be an upstanding citizen.  So I became an upstanding citizen.  No serious regrets.  Little ones, but no biggies.  I loved, and still love, being a father.  My two daughters are joys.  The eldest, S., gave up a good career in non-profit management to open a knitting store.  My youngest, J., is a good third grade teacher.   S.’s husband owns a small, small medical PR firm.  They adopted my grand-daughter, M.S., from China the same week I was dieing [sic] in the hospital after a stroke.

That’s whole other story.  Later!

J. has a boy, J., 10; and and girl, M., 6.  J. has my personality.  Thoughtful.  A little too thoughtful…he gets paralyzed by doubt.  He thinks things through, and through…I encourage him to let go…most things work out well, don’t they?  Otherwise we all, as a Human Race, would have been long gone.  But he’s so young, poor kid, and he needs a wise grandfather.  Eureka!  He has me!!  J.’s beau is among other things, a blues guitarist, and went back to grad. school at State to be a nutritionist.  Come to our house for Thanksgiving, y’all.  He’s from Dallas!

I know what you’re thinking.  This guy really know how to write the shit out of a piece of paper!  That’s the rest of my story.  In 2002, I had my second stroke.  It left me paralyzed on one side, and aphasic.  I was in rehab at university hospital  for months.  I am The Six Million Dollar Man.  I joke about it, what else is here to do.

I blog about my good fortune, and my newly acquired neuroplasticity, at http://taxi-dog.com

I’d love to talk to you.  And I will!  But first another story.  An embarrassing one.  I don’t know you!  Of course I know your name.  But nothing else.  My elderly mind thinks we knew each other in grade school…maybe even Mrs. Callahan’s class by…what, Ditmas Park, before even The Caton School?  Maybe not.

In the1980’s, at the reunion, Larry S. was saying, “You’ve got to see Jane…You’ve GOT TO SEE Jane.  She’s been looking for you.”   It was the scene from “American Graffiti“!  I was Richard Dreyfus and you were Suzanne Somers.  But I never found you!

And now its 30 years later, and I’m still looking but my stroke-leaden mind just doesn’t compute.  Were you my Cadillac Girl?  Was I your chubby little Jewish philosopher?


“Eliphino”, he trumpeted!


30 Day Blog Challenge

By now you probably know my ambivalence about writing.  It exhausts me physically and emotionally.  But how can I avoid it.  It is HUMAN to speak.  I think well.  But I DO have real brain damage.  Stroke, paralysis, aphasia, visual deficits, …, its all there.  But I continue.  And I think, what else can I do?  How NOT to speak?  NOT to write?  NOT to think?  How to separate the distinct actions, muscles, nerves.  Thinking of this minutia is what takes up the thought-space in my mind.  Yes, it exhausts me.
I have other things to write.  Its silly, but I want to write a piece on salamanders in the Catskill mountains.  When I was a boy, I used to explore in the creeks and streams looking for them.  I used to pick wild blueberries in the fields.  I want to memorialize those thoughts in my blog..
Well, that does it!  Salamanders one; Truth nothing!
—–     —–     —–

But if you’re interested, here’s the blog challenge:

Day 01 : Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 : Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 : Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 : Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 : Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 : Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 : Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 : Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 : Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 : Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 : Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 : Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 : A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 : A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 : Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 : Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 : A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 : Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 : What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 : Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 : (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 : Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 : Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 : Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 : The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 : Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 : What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 : What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 : Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 : A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

As this project progresses, I will provide links to each post.  I am eager to explore this massive undertaking of exploring each idea and possibility attached.


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