Saturday, August 25, 2007

Visit the Remains and Help Yourself to the Leftovers

Tao, sometimes translated as 'The Way'

[text remains unfinalised]

For new visitors, from whichever direction you arrived, just a little explanation about how I see this 'place'. RAW's wonderful (if hardly unique) creation of an interactive online forum for learning brought together an interesting group of people, with some core members emerging, and a glittering cast of guest stars, walk-ons, extras (who we might call lurkers), has-beens, wannabes, provocateurs, people hidden behind make-up and/or masks and people who strip everything off and run naked through the marketplace.

And the Academy has many more resources than a mere forum - it has a rather fine library of RAW material and work from people that he liked, I'll offer a relevant sample:

The values that Taoism sees in woman and water are their harmony with the Tao. I have not translated this key term, and I do not intend to; but Ezra Pound's translation - "the process" - seems to me more adequate than "the Way," "the Path" and most of the other attempts. Students of General Semantics might understand if I say that the "Tao" comes very close to meaning what they mean when they say "the process-world." The Tao is the flux, the constant change, amid which we live and in the nature of which we partake; or it is the "law" of this change. (But, of course, the "law" and the "change" itself are not different in reality, only in our grammar and philosophy.) A Zen master asked how to get in harmony with the Tao, replied, "Walk on!" Water and woman represent adjustment to the Law of Change, which "man, proud man, dressed in his little brief authority," and his abstract dogmas, tries to resist.

Anna Livia Plurabelle, the water woman, represents the values of the Tao in Finnegans Wake . The very first word of the book, "riverrun" - not the river and the running of the river, but "riverrun" - places us firmly in the "process-world" of modern physics, which is the world of the Tao.

Joyce and Tao By Robert Anton Wilson
From The James Joyce Review, vol. 3, 1959, pp. 8-16

Because of the ephemeral nature of a forum (a rather linear kind of transaction) we planned a quarterly magazine to capture 'the good bits'. Not only did that (through a McLuhan lens) appear based on an old-fashioned print cuture, but it seemed sluggish and unresponsive in a hi-speed modern environment - and, inevitably (or at least predictably) a few enthusiasts provided nearly all of the content, and when they lapsed the editor had to write most of it, and then the group complained it had become unrepresentative.

A few of us decided to start this blog as a more flexible alternative - hovering between chat and finished pieces. Here and Now we find ourselves on a 200th post, and a similar monoculture has appeared in terms of linear contributions by an ever-diminishing group of contributors. Perhaps just following a natural life-cycle?
The Alchemist's Lab
I would feel disappointed if people only came to see 'the latest post' and not do a bit of detective work, rummage in the archives, ask about the odd items in the apothecary jars, or the strange preserves in the old-style delicatessen section, or visit the back rooms (access via Vico's Bar).

I have started indexing, labelling and linking precisely to encourage exploration - just as RAW encouraged us to do a little archaeology (or mining) of the Twentieth Century - combined with early-uptake and adventurous responses (brain machines, online forums, Futurist approaches to the Singularity, etc).

RAW liked Pound's translation of 'Tao' as 'Process'
I think of this site more as a process that a publication. I feel free to return to, and edit, posts. After all, you don't want to find dead links, do you? Why would you want to lock down the words and images? OK, you might like to see the Director's Cut, or sample the raw source material (the first take, or even outtakes) but it seems obvious to me that we should allow ourselves the freedom to tweak, sample, cut-up, hide, reveal and edit the material. Not all contributors have Admin rights (but they could), and any contributor could start a peripheral blog and link back here (and many of us have, as you will find in the links on the right).

If I appear to state the obvious you have to understand that I recently visited another forum and got severely told off for going back and editing or deleting posts of my own. Apparently it made communication difficult for them, and more particularly could get used to make others appear stupid or incoherent, or myself look clever. IMHOApparently, once something gets said (written) in their world, it goes into the electronic akashic records and you have to live with the karma of your own stupidity (or something). I find that impossibly conservative and restrictive! So, I can't correct typos, factual errors or uninformed (or badly phrased) opinions - nothing ever gets forgiven and forgotten! Ludicrous! The Wayback machine and cached Google pages suffice for me, and if people quote the parts of my posts to which they are responding, where can confusion arise? Unless I deny I ever said such a thing!

As a lover of Burroughs, Cage and other anarchists and process-based types, I couldn't believe how oppressive that felt (not to mention the flaming). After all, you can only mess with your own contributions to a dialogue, and further feedback from others remains possible. Of course, if you acquire admin rights (so you can interfere with other people's material) then you do incur some responsibilities, too - and need to act with good intent.

The wind is part of the process The rain is part of the process -- Ezra Pound, Canto 74However, you can always sample the source and re-mix. I liked John Cage's distinction between communication (with intent to affect the other) and conversation (idling along together in parallel).

Whether this blog can remain a process, and can resist turning into an object, remains to be seen. I like the idea that we continue to develop what Bob initiated, and these recent posts simply form my attempt to devise some Brief MLA courses, in the tradition of self-directed learning.

Meanwhile, I will work on making the blog denser, but not longer - feel free to do what you want with it. You can always check out further opinions of mine on my own blog. Be Seeing You!

NB: the next Maybe Quarterly falls due on the Autumnal Equinox, 23 September 2007 - that leaves you a month to consider making a contribution.


The Purple Gooroo said...

Arrgh! I know - the equinox is coming up fast. I'm going to try and contribute cover art, but I'm battling my way through Chapel Perilous at the moment. I hope to have it ready in time - but I may have to ask someone else to step in if I can't deliver.

Bogus Magus said...

Ah, um, yeah - last I heard Minja intended to help co-ordinate this bunch of anarchists (or 'herd the cats') - so I guess you need to connect with her about it...

Me, I still struggle to really get started with my book - especially when Oblique Strategies suggests:

"Do nothing for as long as possible"

Perhaps I should now get another card...just a minute...

Aha! and what does it give me?

"Simply a matter of work"

Almost as spooky as the I Ching...

The Purple Gooroo said...

Oh that's right - I'll let her know if I won't have the cover art in time.

I like Oblique Strategies--I keep meaning to buy a set of the cards.

Ragu said...

Don't mind me... just checking out the odd items and the strange preserves.


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