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Tit for (she-wolf) tat, mathematics & the rigors of rejecting & drawing conclusions

Dear Internet,                                                                           May 11, 2013

At the end of the last post we said we were at last getting our Remus & Romulus tattoo .... well, we at least got the she-wolf part, in Haida style (& apologies for the scanned tit .. but it came out better then the photo) ..

haida wolf tatoo

our scanned tit

The suckling dudes beneath will have to wait ....

Not entirely sure the brothers will be suckling, in fact .. the thinking now is it might be interesting to have the brothers in the act of drawing the she-wolf .... or one brother drawing the she-wolf, while the other brother draws the brother drawing the she-wolf .. (and then a hand drawing this drawing of a drawing ....), ....

The hand that did the drawing on our skin was the hand of Alex Sherker, who has done most of our tattoos. He also designed this one .. based on our one sentence requirement: 'Remus & Romulus suckling the she-wolf, but in the style of the Pacific coast natives.' We recommend his services to anyone in need of getting ink on their skins.

getting inked by Alex Sherker

under the needle

Drawing is a good word because it is simultaneously in binary opposition to itself .. in one instance you could be drawing milk from a teat (in which case the liquid is siphoned or pulled) & in another instance you could be drawing a teat .. in which case ink is coming from the pen to make the teat .. the medium (white milk or black ink) moves in opposition, to instead of from .. one & the same.

Speaking of deconstruction (because that is what we are talking about here, as well as here) .. the hotel where we stayed in Tokyo in 2009 was recently deconstructed (after it served as a temporary shelter for tsunami victims), floor by floor, from the inside out (rather than demolishing it the more traditional way with explosives):

Deconstruction is at the root of becoming. Long before Derrida, Heraclitus speculated that all existing entities can be characterized by pairs of contrary properties, that 'the path up and down are one and the same' & that 'all entities come to be in accordance with this Logos' .. where Logos could mean words or language (& could be the subject of a whole nother post here).

We draw from the inkwell when we draw the inkwell.

The concept of becoming (philosophically speaking) is connected to movement & evolution .. becoming simultaneously assumes a 'changing to' & a 'moving toward.' 

The above rem/rom description we provided to Alex to draw our tattoo is also the same description of The Becoming (whose forthcoming date now becomes August 31, 2013). In fact, if we can manage to squeeze Remus & Romulus in there before it goes to press, then perhaps we'd use this image on a skin-colored cover.

These are just words .. Logos. We don't create here .. only signify .. bring into being what was pre-existing. File, Save.

Empty Trash. These are the actions that become us. Our lives become defined by our actions, by these commands. Switch application, Send/Receive. Click. Delete. We read. Mark as Junk. We write.

When we see the word 'actions' we think of ions acting .... words as interacting morphemes .. molecules forming bonds .. arrangements .. substance.

Book-object-wise, the incoming stack grows faster than we can shelve as read .. but we think this is the end of this current buying spree. New books picked up from the last time:

    • Reader's Block by David Markson
    • Equivalents by Jessica Baran
    • Dream of the Wolf by Scott Bradfield
    • Our Ecstatic Days by Steve Erickson

Most of what we read this past week had to do with Sleepingfish & Calamari (which we quietly opened submissions for last week & have already been pleasantly bombarded) .. Sleepingfish we closed submissions because we have plenty to choose from (if we haven't responded to you, it means we are chewing still).

We re-read History of Luminous Motion, for the third time, which we can officially say now that we'll be re-issuing. We made a cover for it even:

History of Luminous Motion

We are the kid on the above cover .. call us the cover boy. Bradfield wanted a kid on the cover, because that's basically what the book is about .. this 8-year old kid, Phillip. But we also wanted to capture the idea of luminous motion that runs through the book (hence the Gysin-inspired geometric shapes). And being that we didn't want to be accused of child exploitation, or get sued for using a photo of someone else's kid, we figured it best to just use ourself .... even though we are not in California (but Oregon) & we are younger than the 8-year old protagonist in History of Luminous Motion. We are also working on some inner designs/interstitials for the 7 section breaks .. maybe by next week we'll share some of those here.

⌘+Ctrl B. ⌘+S.

Clarice Lispector seems to be getting a lot of buzz lately for some reason .. so  we took it upon ourself to read Água Viva .. to remind ourselves what a load of pretentious, elitist & navel-gazing dribble she is. For starters, she abuses our three least favorite words .. I, God & the verb to be.

«But the most important word in the language has but two letters: is. Is. I am at its core. I still am. I am at the living and soft centre. Still.»

.. & here's an example of her confused & pathetic religious blathering:

«Even for unbelievers there's the instant of despair that is divine: the absence of the God is an act of religion. At this very instant I'm asking the God to help me. I'm needing more than human strength. I am strong but also destructive. The God must come to me since I haven't gone to Him. Let the God come: please. Though I don't deserve it. Come. Or perhaps those who least deserve Him need Him most.»

This is the kind of crap troubled teenage girls write in diaries .. not publish in books that pretend to be literary & her some sort of wanna-be artist. Just as we're shocked when we meet scientists that are religious (especially biologists that are creationists), we also think art & religion are mutually exclusive .. religious art is not art, but a craft. Not that we have anything against it .. we have lots of it gracing our walls.

Later Lispector says:

«Whoever doesn't know what God is, will never be able to know. In the past is when the God was learned of. It's something already known.»

Say what? Fuck you, Clarice (said in the voice of Hannibal Lector). What did you see, Clarice, what did you see?


Clarice Lispector is a bad-ass name .. we'll give her that much.

Clarice Lispector Agua Vive

We wouldn't have wasted our time reading Água Viva, but it was the only thing we brought on the long ride to & from Red Hook to get our she-wolf tattoo (& it's a short read). On the way there we also stopped at the nearby ballfields to get tacos (overrated .. you can do better in the city) & slurped mint juleps at some bar that was showing the derby .. viva Orb!

⌘+S. , Sleep.

                                                                                              May 12, 2013

After we put this machine to sleep, we were about to go to some sort of baci ball/bongo drum party in Sty town, when a thunderstorm storm came rolling thru, so we got the camera out & just happened to grab this footage .. first lightning appears to hit Riverside church, then it strikes Grant's Tomb twice (actually strikes behind, but just happened to be aligned as such) & then you can see how lightning travels up (yes, lightning actually (sort of) travels from the ground up to the cloud) .. up the same bolt six times as another bolt strikes the river .... all this in the span of a few minutes.

Oh, the distractions of having such a view .... it's a wonder we get any work done. Anyway, speaking of I, God & to be (& Clarice Lispector's abuse of them), neither of these words appear, not even once, in The Becoming .. rest assured.

We also read Mathematics: by Jacques Roubaud. Since we also have a background in math we thought it might be interesting .. but mostly Roubaud pontificates about all the boring day-to-day drama of academia, Roubaud mulling to & from class, sitting in class, thinking of himself (the poet) sitting there in class, Roubaud thinking about writing this book, Roubaud self-consciously writing the book, etc. .. rarely does he actually talk about mathematics .. it's more about his experience studying it .. descriptions of students & professors, etc. And if he does talk about something mathematical (for example Fermat's last theorem, which mathematicians have been talking about for centuries) it's not like he's adding anything new to the conversation.

Jacques Roubaud: Mathematics

Not only does Roubaud try to pass off his writing as a combinatoric concoction of mathematics & poetry, but he's got the gall to name his book simply, Mathematics: .. as if he is the authority on the subject. In his words:

«Thus, a book is merely what answers (or tries to answer) the question: why this title? It is a special case, in terms of the axiom given above ['A title is a proper noun describing a book' .. attributed to Gertrude Stein], of the question (or the enigma if you prefer) of proper nouns: what unites a proper noun to the "singularity," the absolute, irreducible, rigid singularity that bears it as a name? To put it another way: a book is the autobiography of its title and, as such, the narrative of a singularity.»

Um, sorry to burst your bubble, Jacques, but this is not The singular definitive book on mathematics. Though we do agree that a book should be the autobiography of the title (hence, the role of author is redundant, at odds with the title). You wouldn't call someone: '[his/her name] by [his/her mother's name]' .. for example, our name is not 'Derek White by Sharon White' .. despite our tendency to write in first person plural. Our mothers & fathers biologically made us, sure, but it doesn't mean we need to tattoo their names on our foreheads (which is what putting the author's name on a book seems like to us).

We also don't care much for proper nouns, they are a mere convenience (especially in this age of SEO). In The Becoming, we adopt the Indian way of naming things, i.e. He Who Sees Lightning Flash Six Times  .. or One With Tattoo on Tit .. or Standing Under Powerlines.

Like Roubaud, we sought mathematics as a way to cope with the vagueness & lack of rigor in our lives. But unlike Roubaud, who took to mathematics mid-life (in crisis?) (.. which in mathematical terms is too late to amount to much as most mathematicians who do anything substantial do it by the age of 25), we were into mathematics from an early age. Not that we chose math .. we never consciously liked it .. math chose us. Whatever grade school we attended in Oregon allowed us to somehow get ahead (maybe it was the powerlines in the above photo rearranging our brain cells) .. so when we entered 7th grade (in Guadalajara, Mexico), we were placed in an algebra class with 9th graders (one of whom, awkwardly, was our brother who was two years older than us). When we came back to California for 10th grade, that school wouldn't allow a 10th grader to take 12th grade calculus, so we spent a year doing nothing .. & then switched schools & took AP calculus as a junior.

We are falling into the same trap as Roubaud, in giving the mundane details which you could probably care less about it. The point is, it was the lack of rigor in our lives that probably led us to mathematics .. being as such from hippie/new age Californian pedigree. Studying math seemed more interesting than taking drugs & talking about The Celestine Prophecy or Carl Sagan. Or artsy mumbo-jumbo crap like the kind Clarice Lispector pens.

At the core of it, what bothers us most about religious or new age thinking, is this intellectually lazy idea of throwing up your hands & giving yourself to a higher power .. of saying something is pre-destined .. this lack of free-will .. the lack of control over one's destiny. There's another word that makes me want to vomit.

We choose our destinies, our destinies don't choose us. People turn to religion & new age bullshit to understand .. but understanding is overrated. We don't live to understand, we live to create.

Not that we don't believe in 'broadening your horizons' .. or exploring new ideas. As long as we need not subscribe. If anything, we consider these lessons in what not to try at home .. don't try to write like Clarice Lispector (though many still do, including the Clare Donato book we talked about two posts ago). Don't write about how we are a poet that studies math .. plenty of people do that (most all of them boring hacks).

math scraps

Roubaud (like most) is at his best when he dishes us scraps.

«You can consider these as scraps of material that will allow you, I hope, to complete my interrupted work (after all, "poetry [ ... ] must be made by everyone, not by one" [ ....] that poetry is necessarily "made" by everyone," and not by one, because it is language, and thus reflects a part of the biography of one's language; it is for this reason that it is "uninterrupted," except by death (of the language).) —here they are: banjoy jejune jeune, jeûne, á jeun, je, ban, Ben (Big?), benne, job, Job, oboe, ....»

.. at which point Roubaud rattles off a list of words, that although we don't really know what they all mean, we found it to be a refreshing break from his quotidian detailing of his day to day student life. Also, his admissions of not understanding are more interesting than what he understands.

«I read and reread these definitions countless times, without understanding anything, literally without understanding anything. I have a clear recollection of this incomprehension [ .... ] But the remembrance of my incomprehension is far greater than the deductible knowledge of the fact that before understanding, I must not have understood.»

We also suffer from this inability to understand, in both math & literature .. & it is what we don't understand that we are most attracted to. Like the last sentence in the above quote .. not sure we totally get it, but we are on the verge .. & are intrigued nonetheless. Command+S .. Insert, Image ..


If it sounds like we reject everything .. god, hippies, poets .. that's because we also find this more interesting (to reject, rather than accept). Even wearing our editorial Sleepingfish hat, where we are forced to reject or accept .. often it's what we are inclined to reject that we find most interesting (& then we turn around & accept .. then reject our acceptance .. or accept our rejection .... in vicious cycle).

Rejection as selection .. to evolve you need to reject. This is what punk rock taught us .. to reject everything coming before. And now we reject punk rock, or those that already rejected punk rock, or those that reject post-punk ....

We eat food & we reject it. We absorb some of it .. but that something becomes part of our being .... nothing that can be articulated in concrete terms .. except that it might be secreted out later as something true to our own being.

We reject books .. we reject Clarice Lispector & Jacques Roubaud. We also started reading The Names by Don Delillo .. at first we accepted it .. but now we are starting to reject it. We reject The Names perhaps because we've read lots of Delillo before .. & each book gets progressively less interesting because they all are so similar, at least in style. He learned one way that works & keeps churning out books & Don Delillo's checked out .. he stopped evolving .. he's on autopilot or he's hired ghost writers to apply his formula. We're not even sure when he wrote The Names, we're thinking it was one of his first .. maybe if we've read it first it or we read it on an island in Greece in the 80s it might be our favorite Delillo book .... but right now, in Manhattanville in 2013, we are starting to reject it like our body might reject a transplanted organ.

We can't help ourselves.

Scientists reject things .. this is their job. To try to disprove. For every theorem that's proven fact, there's probably a hundred bunk theories rejected otherwise.

Mathematicians, on the other hand, (who exist in an idealistic world) are hell-bent on proving shit. Mathematicians have something to prove, chips on their shoulders.

But is anything provable, outside the context of language? Outside the context of language, everything just is, or rather, becomes .. no language can ever be found that describe a reality outside the confines of language.

Are we sounding like Clarice Lispector? Maybe that's why we have such an aversion to her writing. But in our defense, this is not a book .. this is our admittedly juvenile diary. It's not so much her writing that bothers us, as much that the writing is in the context of a literary book. So what it does is desecrate the book object for the rest of us.

We object to objects being objects. We reject rejects.

We just googled «mathematicians have something to prove» & no one else has said this until now. Maybe we should put it on a bumper sticker & sell it.

Or not.

Looking up the etymology of reject, it's interesting how it (as well as eject, object, subject, etc.) all hinge on jet .. the verb to stream forth, to throw .. jeter in French .. which is why Derek Jeter is such a bad-ass name for a short-stop (not to mention he spells Derek the correct way). You'd think to reject would mean to re-throw, but it's more like to push it back in your face, before it ever gets thrown.

Switch application .. Share .. Embed .. ⌘+C .. switch application .. ⌘+V.

.... fuck mathletes & poets. Fuck Werner Herzog. Block the cheap shots of geeks & preachers. Fuck ourselves (is there a word in the english language that describe someone who fucks his or herself? Someone told me once this is what maricon literally means in Spanish, but we're not so sure .. ) .. reject anyone who doesn't reject everyone else.

.... and what about athletes .. & big D?

The point makers in basketball get all the attention, but no one talks much about defensive players. Even MJ .. everyone talks about his offense .. but his defensive skills are a sidenote .. but it's all part of the package. We're more impressed by blocked shots than made shots. Who remembers when a game is won by someone rejecting a shot that could've otherwise been a game-winner?

Rejection is a creative act.

At least in the literary/arts world, not enough rejecting is going on .. hardly anyone's playing tough D. Not enough referees are calling foul. The arts world for the most part is a safe-haven for those fearing rejection .. all patting each other on the backs rather than putting a hand in the face. It's not good for the game. New agers too .. all this talk about positive forces .. what about negative forces? And in religion .. at least in Christianity .. all this brainwashing by benevolent gods, but what about the devil? Why does he get such a bad rap? Does suppressing negative forces bring out the perceived 'evil'? At least Hinduism has three gods .. one to create (Brahma), one to preserve (Vishnu) & one to destroy (Shiva).


all hail the destroyer

In quantum field theory, we have two operators .. the creator (creation operator) & the annihilator
(annihilator) (.. & you could also think of a third, the preserver, that preserves the state .. essentially a null operator, like multiplying by 1 or adding 0), where:

creation operator    

annihilation operator

.. & they simplify the Schrödinger equation to:


QED. ⌘+S.

Yeah, sure, Christianity has the trinity .. but they've written the devil out of the equations, or at least changed his name to the «holy ghost» (unless the son is considered the destroyer .. which is the case in Bradfield's rather oedipal History of Luminous Motion. The diabolic 8-year old kid in HoLM uses the G-word a few times, but he also mentions Shiva & quantum mechanics .. mostly as vehicles of self-discovery .. but all these things he eventually rejects (accept mabye his mother, who is the neutral preserver in this book)).

Anyway, we'll talk more about History of Luminous Motion in a future post .. maybe even interview Scott Bradfield. For now we've said enough.

Text, Check Spelling. Accept or Reject change.

Put File.

Delete. Empty trash.

haida she-wolf tattoo

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