379 A Dyadic search for any dad wandering the N tip of a maphattan state of mind

«There are not only strange voyages in the city but voyages in place: we are not thinking of drug users, whose experience is too ambiguous, but of true nomads. [...] They are nomads by dint of not moving, not migrating, of holding a smooth space that they refuse to leave, that they leave only in order to conquer and die. Voyage in place: that is the name of all intensities, even if they also develop in extension. To think is to voyage.»—Deleuze + Guattari (1000 Plateaus)

Dear WWW (a.k.a. HCE),

Still running to stand still ... every day starting where we left off ... or vice-versa, ending back where we began. It occurred to us that Ulysses is sisyphean like Groundhog Day xcept it's only 1 day that obsessively happens only once yet all at once ... Bloomsday. The other night we had a dream that best we can describe had the feeling of a groundhog day dream ... not sure what the dream was actually about, but it was the same non-dream happening over + over until the dream lost meaning anyway ... to the point where we were afraid to fall asleep + fall into the dream again.

We've since gotten over it ... last night we dreamt we had to wear different shoes on our right + left feet for the next leg of a Ulysses trip + then we ran into some 1 who was doing research on this phenomena where ice formed in tropical climates (well above freezing) ... he was on his way to some bridge in northern Thailand where this was known to occur, he told me as he showed me photos of black ice some 4 inches thick.

urban groundhog (yes mammals besides rats + humans do live in NYC) spotted way north in Inwood
... we'll get to this

Apparently we're still obsessing over all things wandering + walkabouts + dreaming tracks as relates to our own bootstrapped condition in situ ... re-reading Ulysses + The Odyssey ... finally we're leaving Circe's island. We screwed up 2 posts ago in our hypothetical directions Circe scribbles for Ulysses on a bar napkin (we were going off memory) ... Hades is not the final stopover before home but the 1st place she instructs them to go ... + then they return to Circe. But we're not going to hell just yet ...

We're still tripping up on the wandering rocks ... Joyce doesn't follow the same order as The Odyssey + while the wandering rocks is just a sidenote in The Odyssey—of where not to go—Joyce (the glutton for punishment) devotes a whole episode to the wandering rocks in Ulysses. As we said in our initial re-reading, our mind started to wander in this section, perhaps his intent ... kind of like how in Hindu funeral processions they spin the pyre around before burning to confuse + disorient the spirits so they don't follow the dead into the afterlife.

DYAD by Michael Brodsky

Our mind often spins + wanders as such when we read. Like right now we are reading Dyad by Michael Brodsky + we must admit ½ the time we find ourselves spacing out + thinking about something else as our eyes glaze over the text ... so what becomes processed is a sort of amalgamation between our own thoughts + what is going on in the book. Which is not to say it's not well-written or captivating, it's phenomenal actually, the language ... surprising it didn't get more attention in it's day (it was published by Four Walls Eight Windows in 1989). We only heard of it cuz our brother mentions in his 'SSES" 'SSES" thesis, or in his journals. Dyad is quite dense + relentless tho, no section breaks (so far ... we're about ½-way thru) + hardly a p-graph break even
the occasional break
SORT of like THIS
... like blips in the space-time fabric. Otherwise opaquely sustained like Beckett ... unwavering, fixated on a spinning top of text ... so once u space out it's hard to figure out where to jump back in or whether u'd already processed that passage. Brodsky will spend page after page going over a particular detail over + over in his mind—a simple gesture like a photo being handed from hand to hand—sorta like in The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker in this regard. There's a vague plot: a dying man hires a narrator whose name is only given as X_ to track down his estranged son. This narrator is not only a snarky + self-loathing wise-ass but he knows it + he is ever self-aware + aware of us readers as «meaning mongers» or «story mongers» ... he gives us just enough dirt to bait us on a narrative hook then badgers us down some philosophical digression, which are usually fruitful enough we keep chasing him down more rabbit holes ...

«In other words, a great and original thinker is always smelling a comparison of what he is at this very moment undergoing, with something else, something wider, vaster, direr. In fact he lives the direr side far more completely than than the less dire yet without being quite able to sniff out and make its contour conform to what everybody and his brother implies—tells him—he is supposed to be living.»

... actually the old dying father says that, but it pretty much sums up the narrator, whom he hand-picks for this reason amongst others, to find his son. We can particularly relate to this cynical ever-questioning voice in our own quest for our brother, not necessarily at our father's behest, but perhaps for our father. Or perhaps we are continuing the search for our father that our brother started. It doesn't matter really, like any voyage it only matters what u discover along the way ...

«These thoughts, as potential routes beyond the parameters of platitude and predictability toward authentic event, were already details mappable into its world, were already well into into the thick of inflecting the course of events and the grandiose hush before their onrush.»

Speaking of thinking + walking there's an article in this week's New Yorker on the «curious link between mind and feet», which starts off by talking about Ulysses + how Nabokov would famously tell people the best way to teach it was to draw maps (we showed his map + talked more about geographical mapping of Ulysses + The Odyssey in post #366). But it's not just the geography we are necessarily grappling with, but another sort of metaphysical mapping, as it relates to The Odyssey + how we need to unravel this mapping to bring what it is we are working on to fruition ... so here's an example of the type of mapping/projecting we did to help wrap our heads around it (in particular these odysseian episodes nearby to Circe)

projected transformation of The Odyssey to Ulysses
+ then to 'SSES" 'SSES" + now back to 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY'

As happens in these sorts of odysseys, the traveler becomes what he is searching for (in our case, our brother, who in turn was searching for our father), or at least parallel to it for fear of breaking irreversibly thru the surface. In Brodsky's case, the narrator X_ becomes the son, Jim ... as the dyadic title implies, X_ is like an electron orbiting around the proton of Jim ... complimentary attraction/repulsion that feed off 1 another.

«He was busy acquiring specimens that would stanch story—event—flow and I was busy struggling to acquire thoughts and concepts that could be depended on to construct and enlarge such events from scratch. This was a clear indication of our polar oppositeness proving we were ideally suited to inhabit the same story.»

X_ trails him like a ghost or shadow until you don't know who is trailing who, like some fucked detective novel w/ no crime to solve so u may as well make 1 up to give yourself something something to look for, kind of like the feeling u get watching Memento.

«I was bringing up the rear of his instability. But didn't he realize that my traipsing behind, always at the same fixed distance, had nothing to do with enthusiasm for him, for his cause, for his tumor-laden mom and dad. Always maintained at the same distance from my wary steps he was quickly cancelled out and all that mattered now—I mean, then—for now I am en route to the river—all that mattered then—for both of us—was the endpoint he was bound to achieve even if there was none in sight as yet. I was tracking behind and ultimately beyond what he took to be his destiny toward—the story that, contrary to the preconception of his arrogant volubility, had nothing whatsoever—well perhaps not nothing whatsoever all protests of my story-mongering artisans notwithstanding—to do with [...]»

+ now we are hijacking Brodsky for our own devices ... wondering what it was our brother saw in him + now we see. There's a reason why we say things like we're «on the same wavelength» ... it's not just a metaphor, but sometimes it feels that consciousness is really like that ... that a stream of thought is actually something u can physically take for a log ride, a mechanized stream w/ shifting gears, some faster + wilder, others slower + stagnant it matters not cuz once u become a part of that river it's all relative. It's like certain language hits harmonic frequencies, that not only synch conscious thought w/ subconscious thought, but enable u to synch up w/ other minds. Sort of like what we were talking about in the last post w/ the Aborigines—their walkabouts are a way of synching young minds w/ ancestral thought. And language of course, music, art, etc. But fuck all that, now we've got brain-to-brain communication! Pretty soon we won't need language at all but we'll just brain waves + retransmit them into other people's heads.

This is sort of what it's like reading Brodsky, like our mind is shadowing his stream of thought at the time he wrote Dyad ... but just when when u think u are catching up to Brodsky he kicks sand in your face.

«... perhaps this was the function of the scraps, namely to throw sand in the face of the real details, so that they might go on unmolested in their quest for interrelation. I looked around, down and beyond the street's clogged vistas to the World Trade Center.»

We read the above on the morning of the 13th anniversary of 9/11 ... spinning in place on a stationary bike, staring downtown inbetween sentences. Brodsky probly could've never imagined what would become of the towers by 2001. His Manhattan is that of the 80s, those coked out campy + absurdly good times, slightly conservative, when they wore khakis after dark ... the NYC captured (not that we can vouch for authenticity as we weren't here) in the classic After Hours (1985), or maybe McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City. ... which come to think of it Dyad might also be compared to, but Dyad is far grittier + post-moderner, less story-telling + more metafictional storytelling about storytelling.

Most of the action in Dyad takes place south of 14th street or Long Island or way north of here in Rhinebeck ... IRL we finished the northern ½ of our maPhattan project. Tackled the tip in 2 trips ... on Sept 7 we did 181st street up to Dyckman ... 1 of the more challenging routes to navigate w/o too much backtracking. What the map doesn't show is the non-linear procession, zig-zagging all over the place.

+ the map doesn't show the topography, but our better ½'s iPhone thingy does:

Getting up into Hudson Heights, didn't feel like we were in NYC anymore ... reminded us of the Monteverde area of Rome, for any 1 versed in Roman geography. In fact the highest natural point in Manhattan is here, in Bennett Park. Not exactly what we'd call a «summit» ...

the highest u can get naturally in Manhattan .... 265 feet above sea level

This is on the west side ... the east side is dominated by Yeshiva University, so suddenly all these orthodox Jewish students. In between, sort of feels like a desolate extension of Washington Heights. Here's a smattering of what we saw in no particular order cuz there was no particular order to our peregrination...

A-stop 181st street


occasional free-standing houses in various states of ruin


strange Disneyesque enclave in the W 180s called Castle Village


street art east 180s


more street art


shuttered shops




St. Frances Xavier Cabrini—the 1st canonized American (her mummified remains are inside the church)

When it came to eating, there weren't many options ... besides a strip of restaurants along Dyckman, it's a veritable food desert ... mostly fast-food fried chicken + «frituras» (Dominican deep-fried whatever). Did eventually find a pizza by the slice place that wasn't so bad.

After our maphatting peregrination we returned to the Riverside to roost along w/ our friends the peregrine falcons ... tho—after a flurry of activity last month—they haven't been so active lately. Which is strange cuz according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, peregrines (so-named cuz of their propensity to wander + migrate from pole to pole) are sposed to winter in the northeast, not summer. Summer they're sposed to be up in the Arctic breeding. But it's a changing world + the peregrines are probly just adapting (+ why not, plenty of pigeons to eat around here) ... like the Canadian Geese who used to just pass thru but now are more or less full time residents ... «nomads by dint of not moving, not migrating, of holding a smooth space that they refuse to leave ...» as we quoted D+G in saying at the start of this post, that sort of captures the state of our current grounded existence, specially this past summer as we didn't venture further than Maine.

The peregrines we've been observing seem to be full-time residents that live on Riverside Church + use our rooftop as their dining room to feast on their daily catch (for a while there it'd be raining feathers past our window every morning at 7 AM). Last year there was 2 + now there are 4 so we suspect it's a couple that had some kids ... often we see them sparring mid-air + mock-attacking, as if they are teaching the little guys how it's done. They aren't easy to capture on film + usually when we see them we are too transfixed to run for the camera ... but here's a few shots we got of them.

flying over the water towers


right after we saw this 1 snatch a small bird mid-air it turned + came towards us

(+it's partner off to the right)


peregrine w/ bird in it's talons


feasting on the roof above our window


the other 1 landing to get in on the action


view from out on the street looking up (yes those are all feathers flying)


2 peregrines fighting or mock-fighting above NJ


... + they drop whatever it is they were fighting over


Riverside Church where they typically roost


acrobatic peregrine + airplane


2 peregrines over a distant Empire State Bldg


3 peregrines playing around over Grant's Tomb


landing on our roof to partake in the feast ...


superimposed in various stages of diving

We spoke too soon ... as we are writing this (Sept 12 6:57 AM) clumps of feathers are raining past our window + i can see her tail sticking out over the edge. Perhaps the peregrines picked up on our brainwaves writing this post. With such a strategic peregrine-watching view who needs to ever leave the apartment?

But alas, later this morning we set out to finish the northern tip of Manhattan ... another not so straight-forward route ... getting further slanted off the grid to the point where it's hard to tell what's a street + what's an avenue (incidentally, all these maps are rotated 29° counter-clockwise to make Maphattan straight up + down) ...

final northern peregrination (Sept 12)

We've also been slogging our way thru Ovid's Metamorphoses. Feel like we're reading a reference book of metamorphosizing myths... hard to process all at once, but u sort of tuck them away in your brain for a time when u might need them. Just got to the few stories about Daedalus, of particular interest in light of our simultaneous processing of Ulysses. The character of Stephen Dedalus goes back further tho, to Portrait of the Artist ... + some speculate the narrator of some of the stories in Dubliners ... Joyce's go-to alter-ego u could say. To the Greeks, Daedalus was a master craftsman/artist, father of Icarus. He appears in Metamorphoses as the craftsman King Minos hires to build a labyrinth so inextricably intricate that «its very designer could scarcely retrace his steps to the entrance.»

King Minos commissions Daedalus to build this maze to house the Minotaur ... who ends up is the bestial bastard son of Pasiphaë ... who is King Minos wife (+ also Circe's sister ... it's all so incestuous), but the ½-bull ½-man Minotaur is not his son ... in other words his wife not only cheated on him (a cuckold like Bloom) but she fucked a bull (+ she also hires Daedalus to build her a cow-hide contraption by which she consummates this act!). Obviously King Minos is disgraced by this Minotaur, so he hires Daedalus to build this amazing maze to entrap him. A few other Daedalus stories follow suit ... the famous 1 about his son Icarus + how he wanted to fly across the sky w/ his father's fashioned wings, but even tho he was warned he flew too close to the sun + the wax holding the feathers melted + Icarus fell to his death in the sea. Then Daedalus' sister leaves her 12-year old son, Perdix, in his care as a sort of apprentice ... + w/o Daedalus' help (beginner's luck) he invents the saw ... + then a compass + Daedalus gets jealous + being the dick he is pushes Perdix down a hill ... but the gods intervene + save him + turn him into a sort of bird + banish Daedalus + after that he «was exhausted and found a home in Sicily.»

But we are not on the island of Sicily ... tho Sicily was 1 of the last places we were in our nomadic existence before returning back to Manhattan last year, or guess it's almost been 2 years now. Anyway, back to our northernmost block of mapHattan ... started by taking the 1 to Dyckman, where it becomes no longer a subway, but an aboveway, on elevated tracks over Nagle + then 10th ave.

Dyckman stop


Nagle + 10th


chickens waiting to become pollo guisado

Probly should've had chicken guisado or something deep-fried in corn oil for our representative meal, but we already had Dominican food a few times in our maphatting + it was early so we got a simple breakfast at some place could've been anywhere ... on the corner of Dyckman + Seaman (... not sure what the deal was w/ whoever named these streets ...)

they like big butts (even that alligator thing has quite the nalgas redondas)


fritura cart + hanging crack tennies


bottle man checking out what we're checking out




seems most of the murals/street art are in memory of some 1 or other probly shot


Dyckman House (the oldest remaining farmhouse on Manhattan)

On the east side in the 200s got into this industrial area w/ power sub-stations + trainyards (fenced off) + some sort of incinerator w/ hundreds of garbage trucks lining the streets.

dept of sanitation


the «Seaman-Drake Arch» ... which may not look like much

... until u see what it looked like back in the day ...

... the Seaman Drake Arch in 1903, when it was the gateway to the Seaman mansion


the cliffs (C-rock) near Spuyten Duyvil (more exciting when the kids are jumping off them)

... the C is for Columbia btw, which has a big sports complex nearby


looking out at Spuyten Duyvil
... the river bend that separates the north tip of Manhattan from the rest of the world ...

At this point we finished off the last few streets + headed across the Broadway bridge into the Marble Hill area of the Bronx ... so now are officially done w/ everything north of 72nd street!

the 1 train continuing across the Broadway bridge to the Bronx


xing bdwy bridge


shop in Marble Hill (the Bronx)


on the Marble Hill 1 stop platform


looking back over the Bdwy bridge towards Manhattan

 > 380 > An itemized récit for wandering the Obscure undead from west 71st to 60th


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