371Horror of deformity: Woolfish grin sirens stickballing + girdling grids + capes to spin plates of quahog all the Great White way to ride Woods Holey Waves

looking down from the 125th street ① stop on the way out of town

Dear Internet,

A foghorn is sounding ... groggy morning after an evening drinking rum + mowing roasted corn + salmon. Now sitting on wet patio furniture staring out at Martha's Vineyard ... tho it's hazy + foggy, can barely see ... Martha's Vineyard being the 8th oldest english placename in the U.S. + 1 of 5 surviving (since their systematic deprecation in 1890) placenames left w/ a possessive apostrophe ... unlike Finnegans Wake.

... + then it started to drizzle so we abandoned the laptop + switched to The Waves by Virginia Woolf. We've tried to read Woolf before ... tried is the operative word. This time we are just letting our eyes swim across the sentences. Skipped the intro + did no background reading so have no idea what to expect ... but like Faulkner's Sound + the Fury seems to be told so far from varying viewpoints ... only w/ S + F was 4 voices + w/ The Waves it's 6 ... intimately connected childhood friends ... + they are not compartmentalized into separate chapters but all jumbled together into 1 voice. In fact, we'd wonder if the 6 POVs are not all alter-egos of 1 whole ... like when u dream of certain people it's not so much about that person but what that person means to u—the dreamer—w/in your psyche.

There seems to be no semblance of «plot» ... just an impressionistic collage, a fuzzy hologram of thought + feeling riding at the edge of consciousness: «Sharp stripes of shadow lay on the grass, and the dew dancing on the tips of the flowers and leaves made the garden like a mosaic of single sparks not yet formed into the whole.» U read it for sentences like that ... each mounting like waves, encapsulating the whole (or hole) ... or sentences like this 1: «He was in his green baize apron cleaning silver; and his mouth was sucked like a purse in wrinkles and he seized her with the pyjamas blown out hard between them.»

1 after the other they keep rolling like breakers ... breathing in + out w/ each sentence. Don't stop to understand, just let the waves sweep over u ... like meditation. There're voices in the house where we're staying ... + spoons clanking in bowls or butterknives on plates ... chatter at such a level we can't quite distinguish words. A dog scratches in the other room. We are most interested in the dog that won't let us pet it ... a rescued 1 from Mexico. Tratamos de hablar español aver si eso ayuda. Takes time + patience. The other dog is too easy ... found his G-spot + now he won't leave us alone ... keeps pawing at us for more.

Sentences bound together in passages like this:

«This will endure. From discord, from hatred (I despise dabblers in imagery--I resent the power of Percival immensely) my shattered mind is pieced together by some sudden perception. I take the trees, the clouds, to be witnesses of my complete integration. I, Louis, I, who shall walk the earth these seventy years, am born entire, out of hatred, out of discord. Here on this ring of grass we have sat together, bound by tremendous power of some inner compulsion. The tree waves, the clouds pass. The time approaches when these soliloquies shall be shared. We shall not always give out a sound like a beaten gong as one sensation strikes and then another. Children, our lives have been gongs striking; clamour and boasting; cries of despair; blows on the nape of the neck in gardens

The sounding of the foghorn no longer audible ... replaced by a lawnmower + the warbly sound of a skype conference call to all parts of the globe spending ½ the time trying to gather people seeing if they can hear 1 another talking all at once about the connection ... «can u hear me now» becoming the mantra of our times. The lawnmower now dopplered loud, drowning everything else out, back + forth in waves ... tho we're resisting looking out the window to see who it is + the pattern they are making ... or why they are mowing in the rain in the 1st place. Percival is not 1 of the 6 voices ... he is an outsider, a muse, an object of desire ... apparently by more than 1 of the 6. Louis is (the above POV). Such language making us feel like we were there, privy to the inner circle. «But stories that follow people into their private rooms are difficult.» So we remain for the most part detached, free floating. In a different time + space w/ occasional moments of clarity into Woolf's world otherwise foreign to us.

We have no such circle of close friends ... moved around + lost touch w/ would-be friends from various other times ... as if we've led multiple lives. Only 1 constant thread really for the latter ½. We've gotten back into touch w/ childhood friends before + it usually leads to disappointment ... some memories should be better left as is. We say this as we are about to go meet a friend from our undergraduate days who we haven't seen since ... who after UC Santa Cruz left to Woods Hole where he's remained ... + now we find ourselves in Woods Hole + thought of him + thanks to U, Internet, were able to track him down ...

walking into town


from the observation tower of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)
looking towards Martha's Vineyard


Deepsea Challenger (that James Cameron took to the bottom of the ocean + then donated to WHOI) now just sitting in some dock warehouse


on the docks


hanging buoys

(later) ... walked into town ... saw 5 wild turkeys + got caught in a squalling downpour. We'd borrowed rain jackets but it didn't matter. Met our friend from way back ... last time we saw him was around '89 ... more than ½ our life ago. He looks + acts the same ... just maybe more «grown up» ... after all, he's married + has kids. Met him back when we were both studying math/physics + unlike me he stuck w/ it + made a career of it. Did his post-doc at Woods Hole + has been here ever since. After catching up over clam chowder + quahog/chorizo/corn fritters we got a tour of the Woods Hole oceanographic facilities. His specialty is ocean mixing ... + the people we're staying with are soil scientists, so lots of academic talk these days.

It's interesting to see people u haven't seen in a long time cuz it's a gauge by which u can measure yourself. We essentially are who we are when we are in high school or college ... + at least in our case we (comparatively) haven't done anything w/ our lives ... at least not as far as contributions to society or a field of knowledge or school of thought.

Weather was still shitty which put a damper on our outdoor plans. Went for a run anyway, in the rain ... ran along Oyster pond, thru Spohr gardens ... down to the oceanfront. Ran a while along the coast then took off my shirt + shoes + jumped in the water + swam around for a while ... doing the crawl w/ eyes closed. Then ran back ... got to the point where we couldn't distinguish between the ocean, sweat + rain. So much fun that when we got back we talked some others into going back + doing it all over again.

7.18.2014—walked back down to Spohr gardens, along Oyster pond (that used to be an oyster-filled bay but was blocked off by a hurricane + is now a brackish pond), along the beach back to the town of Woods Hole. Ate a lobster taco (perhaps a disservice to both lobsters + tacos). Everything on Cape Cod seems so ... white. The land of crackers. Like being in a Jaws movie.

Oyster Pond as seen from Spohr garden (1 of many collected anchors)


Then we drove the entire length of the Cape stopping 1st at Nauset light beach. Waves were actually somewhat big + the water cold + there were lots of seals (+ signs warning us that there were great whites in these waters, specially where there were seals + the week before this 1 was sighted at this same beach) ... jumped in anyway, but not so far out. Then ran down the beach to Coast Guard Beach which is supposedly #7 of 10 top beaches in the world ... by who's list who knows, but obviously they haven't travelled much. Nice beach, sure, for the NE Atlantic coast but beyond that?

seal riding a wave

«Their quivering mackerel sparkling was darkened; they massed themselves; their green hollows deepend and darkened and might be traversed by shoals of wandering fish. As they splashed and drew back they left a black rim of twigs and cork on the shore and straws and sticks of wood, as if some light shallop had foundered and burst its sides and the sailor had sum to land and bounded up the cliff and left his frail cargo to be washed ashore.»

Seems V. Woolf intentionally repeats words (such as darkened above) ... 1 of our few gripes. That + her use of punctuation is rather tedious.

V. Woolf is not the 1st + certainly not the last to liken ocean waves to death ... but when we observe surf we think of the frothy conditions from which life was spurned ... of mudskippers learning to crawl from the waves + then to evolve to walking beings.

«The waves fell; withdrew and fell again, like the thud of a great beast stamping

Coast Guard beach

Stopped further along at Head of the Meadow Beach, which was nicer ... less crowded + better for swimming. Swam out thru this channel w/ a rip current til we got to sandbar where the waves were breaking ... rode some waves until my feet were numb + then we saw a seal right next to us + figured that was our cue so rode the next wave in.

Stopped at 1 more beach (Race Point) at the very tip of the Cape. Then went into Provincetown which is super gay ... mostly of the male bear variety ... burly white New Englander types w/ beards dressed in L.L Bean (+ some wearing nothing but gold marble-sacks). As usual (Fire Island, etc) gays have taste + pick the most scenic spots ... quaint + historic w/ some big stone tower jutting out from the town center + surrounded by scenic beaches + bays. Ate a bunch of seafood (oysters, scallops, mahi mahi, shrimp, etc.) at some place forget the name of then made our way back.

... further notes on reading The Waves ... breathing comes in waves, language comes in waves. «Now I am getting this beat into my brain (the rhythm is the main thing in writing).» But more than anything The Waves is about relationships between people. People like particles have a wave-particle duality, essentially based on how u look at it. At our level tho we for the part consider our bodies to be corpuscular solid objects. It takes special instruments to detect wave motion. But V. Woolf has a knack for breaking down this regular day-to-day barrier of corpuscular reality to reveal invisible sub-surface harmonics.

«It is to this we are attached; it is to this we are bound, as bodies to wild horses. And yet we have invented devices for filling up the crevices and disguising these fissures. Here is the ticket collector. Here are two men; three women; there is a cat in a basket; myself with my elbow still on the window-sill—this is here and now.»

There is no story in The Waves .. it is pure language. Maybe on some level there is story (the object of desire travels overseas + dies leaving the other 6 in the wake), but if u seek such drama u miss out on so much else. It's more about all the interstitial shit. And inevitably autobiographical.

«I have made up thousands of stories; I have filled innumerable notebooks with phrases to be used when I have found the true story, the one story to which all these phrases refer. But I have never yet found that story. And I begin to ask, Are there stories?»

Stories as waves. There are 6 perspectives in The Waves + the only polygon that can u tile a floor with whose centers are equidistant is the 6-sided hexagon. Square or triangle tiles are not equidistant to each neighbor.

Bees aren't stupid ... neither was Buckminster Fuller (a triangle (the main component of his geodesic dome) is also 1 of 6 slices of a hexagon). The world is a geodesic dome ... we just can't see the underlying structure. Too much crap cobbling the surface.

Must admit we aren't a big fan of trees ... which ties into our general distaste for east coast «nature» (as opposed to the West ... which we went into in the last dispatch) ... there's trees blocking the way everywhere u go on the east coast ... even driving the Cape (when there's not strip malls, car lots or mini-golf courses) you're looking mostly at impenetrable swaths of brushy trees. U can hardly ever see the ocean. Cape Cod looks pretty much the same as Hilton Head (where we once spent a summer surveying swamps) or Jersey or even inland.

can't see anything cept selfies thru all the trees

And then there's the ticks + mosquitoes + all the pesky nuisances that come w/ the east coast bush ... in particular Lyme disease making u afraid to brush up against anything ... need to stick to the wide trails + bike paths full of white families. Better yet just read a book.

«And as the light increased, flocks of shadows were driven before it and conglomerated and hung in many-pleated folds in the background

Originally we got The Waves (on Gary Lutz's recommendation) to read in the Woolfish turf of Sussex county, UK where we had planned to spend the summer ... til our plans fell thru ... tho we saw Woolf's digs back in 2011 + still might go later this summer. Reading it up in New England on the Cape seemed appropriate enough ... anywhere w/ dense underbrush + seasons + traditions + waves perpetually pelting the shore ... or where your psychogeography is burdened by the «waste and deformity of the world» ... enough so to seek refuge in artfully ordered words.

«I want someone to sit beside me after the day's pursuits and all its anguish, after its listenings, and its waitings, and its suspicions. After quarreling and reconciliation. I need privacy--to be alone with you, to set this hubbub in order. For I am as neat as a cat in my habits. We must oppose the waste and deformity of the world, its crowds eddying round and round disgorged and trampling. One must slip paper-knives, even, exactly through the pages of novels, and tie up packets of letters neatly with green silk, and brush up the cinders with a hearth broom. Everything must be done to rebuke the horror of deformity. Let us read writers of Roman severity and virtue; let us seek perfection through the sand.»

... perfection arising from order ... an hourglassy ordering of words, yielding structure + meaning to the bramble + what lays beneath. Invisibly inked hangers or placemats to detect sub-surface interactions + to expose, flashing like fireflies ... atoms sparking in a bubble chamber. A leghorn sounding or lighthouse or whirling dervish rising + swelling + spitting off just the sparkly bits.

«I am conscious of flux, of disorder, of annihilation and despair. If this is all, this is worthless. Yet I feel, too, the rhythm of the eating-house. It is like a waltz tune, eddying in and out, round and round. The waitress, balancing trays, swing in and out, round and round, dealing plates of greens, of apricot and custard, dealing them at the right time, to the right customers. [...] Where then is the break in this continuity? What the fissure through which one sees disaster? The circle is unbroken; the harmony complete. Here is the central rhythm; here the common mainspring. I watch it expand, contract; and then expand again. Yet I am not included.»

... or as Thom Yorke croons, «And this just feels like spinning plates, my body's floating down the muddy river.» Richard Feynman came up w/ quantum electrodynamics (QED) cuz 1 day he was bored in the Los Alamos cafeteria (if we member correctly) + started messing around w/ crockery + writing the equations for spinning plates just for the hell of it ... which led to QED + the Nobel prize. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Back to the rectangular girded griddings of our maPhattan Project (speaking of Feynman—who worked on the maNhattan variation) ... Manhattan being a metaphysical microcosm of the state, country, world, universe, etc... our psychogeographic state of mind. The empirical albatross we wear to go no where else. As natural as nature in itself.

«Only in moments of emergency, at a crossing, at a kerb, the wish to preserve my body springs out and seizes me and stops me, here, before this omnibus. We insist, it seems, on living. Then again, indifference descends. The roar of the traffic, the passage of undifferentiated faces, this way and that way, drugs me into dreams; rubs the features from faces. People might walk through me.»

Our route of the day (July 19) .. streets 130th thru 135th + what we saw along the way ...


130th + 12th ave underneath the viaduct (our bldg at left)


looking down from 130th


1 of many opened hydrants (on W 131st)


along E 131st


on E 132nd


stoop on 132nd


W 132nd



church on W 133rd


storefront on 133rd

«So into the street again, swinging my stick, looking at wire trays in stationers shop-windows, at baskets of fruit grown in the colony, murmuring Pillicock sat on Pillicock's hill, or Hark, hark, the dogs do bark, or The World's great age beings anew, or Come away, come away, death--mingling nonsense and poetry, floating in the stream. Something always has to be done next. Tuesday follows Monday: Wednesday, Tuesday. Each spreads the same ripple. The Being grows rings, like a tree. Like a tree, leaves fall.»

way west on 134th


hanging out on 134th


Harlem Stage Gatehouse


135th looking at St. Nicholas park w/ City College looming overhead


white heads on St. Nicholas near 135th


07.20.14 ... decided to do another double-header weekend ... this time ticked off more streets south ... getting to the point where we're gonna have to bike or take the subway to get to starting points as just getting to/from the starting point is tagging on more than a mile each way.

route for July 20, 2014—111-110-109-108


Tom's Restaurant (a.k.a. Monk's cafe in Seinfeld + Tom's Diner to Suzanne Vega) on 112th + Bdwy


Bookculture (most recently in the news cuz the owners fired 5 employees for trying to form a union)
on 112th + the post office from where we've shipped many a box of books


the gnarly Peace Fountain + St John's (at 111th + Amsterdam)

Stopped + got pastries at the Hungarian Pastry Shop (to qualify as our street meat) ... then looped around St. Johns/Morningside Park to get back on track to 111th ... again, we didn't necessarily do the streets in this order but are putting photos in order from north to south ...

111th + Lennox (1 of many fried chicken joints)


111th + Lexington


De La Vega's re-rendering of Guernica


homage to Derek M. Armstead (a.k.a. Bloodshed, rapper in Children of the Corn)(on E 110th)


street art on E 110th


where Obama lived for a year in the '80s (142 E 109th) ... apt 3e

So not only do we now have the distinction of seeing where Obama shacked up during his early college years ... but we've also seen where his father was born in Kogelo, Kenya.

Just yesterday we were commenting about how in all our time in NYC we'd never seen any1 playing stickball ... + then we come across these guys on 109th ... an organized league (they got permits to block the street off even) ... + offered to let us take a few swings ...

playing stickball on 109th

This stretch of 109th is also named Tito Puente Way so imagine he was born or lived around there.

Real Real Estate on 108th


wall on 108th

 > 372 >The great pond analog of Mt. Analogue, Maine


[  (ɔ)om.Posted 2014  derek white  |  calamari press   ]