Machine Phenomena and Light Bulbs

A few years ago, in a paper titled ‘Machine Phenomena’, I explored situations in which the metaphor of the machine is understood and used concretely to express positive or negative, idealised or denigrated experiences — ranging from, for example, the use of innocuous expressions like ‘I need to charge my batteries’ to experiencing being controlled by an influencing machine. This article became a chapter in the book ‘Even Paranoids Have Enemies: New Perspectives on Paranoia and Persecution’  (ed. Berke, Pierides, Sabbadini, Schneider), published in 1998 initially by what was then Routledge.
even paranoids have enemies,machine phenomena,Since then, from time to time, I check whether, and where the concept of ‘machine phenomena’ is being used and to what effect. So it was with pleasure I came across an interesting article, by Grace Halden, titled ‘Incandescent: Light Bulbs and Conspiracies’, in Dandelion: postgraduate arts journal and research network, v.5, no 2, Spring 2015.

In my reading, Grace Halden (2015) illustrates how light, in the form of a lightbulb, became what can be seen as a machine phenomenon (Pierides, 1998), becoming entrenched in concrete fantasies of benevolence and evil. She points out

through examining general technology (such as machines), anxieties surrounding ‘modification, transformation and replacement’ emerge despite the technology being traditionally associated with protection and assistance.

Halden uses the texts of The Light Bulb Conspiracy (2010), The X-Files (1993-2002), and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) to explore how this innocuous, commonplace object, with an enormous beneficial impact in the modern world,

has been used to symbolise the malevolence of individuals and groups, and the very essence of technological development itself.

Interesting stuff. Check it out!

Seasons…

Keramikmarkt, Diessen am Ammersee. Boats come and go, people, seasons…
The pithoi too, all the way from Crete, every year. Only this time, the tireless Nikos Kavgalakis didn’t turn up to build his pots right on the promenade. He had to keep the appointment with his own maker. Rest in peace, Nikos.

Luckily, Nikos’ grandson, Giorgos, is continuing the tradition.

Here is a video of the Diessener Keramikmarkt I came across on YouTube (by Joachim Stracke)  from 2013. It includes a few shots of Nikos building his pitharia.

Keramikmarkt Diessen am Ammersee

What a Day! International Haiku Poetry Day 2016

April 17, International Haiku Poetry Day, IHPD for short, is the day of celebration of all things haiku.  The Haiku Foundation encourages public events on local, national and global levels, including readings, exhibitions, excursions, collaborative projects and competitions. Since 2015, the event is listed in the World Kigo Database,  a great source of advice and information. (see Kigo Calendar).

pottery,jug, While waiting for next April 17 to come round, don’t miss the opportunity to watch the wonderful haiku films that were presented at this year’s HaikuLife, the Foundation’s Film Festival 2016.   And scroll through the longest haiku collaborative poem, EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2016. This year, in acknowledgement of the United Nations Year of Pulses, the theme of the project was Foodcrop Haiku.

Here are my own offerings to EarthRise:

earthquake
the seed in the child’s
open palm
.
picking over lentils—
quiet
of the evening hour
.
mice-nibbled sack—
edging closer to
the real
.
at the back
of the late night bus
whiff of wild garlic
.
all seeds accounted for dawn chorus

.

 

The Haiku Foundation re:Virals 31 and my Commentary

This week, a terrific haiku by Melissa Allen was up for discussion at The Haiku Foundation  re:Virals. Interesting commentaries looking at the poem from different perspectives. You can read the whole post with the poem and all the commentaries  here. I am pleased to say mine was this week’s winner. I copy it below:
.
Melissa’s poem:

radiation leak moonlight on the fuel rods

          — Melissa Allen, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (2013)

And my take:

In current usage, the word leak refers to a variety of situations: from leaking a document and bringing into the light a secret, to taking a leak, to a wasteful dripping of water, to seepage of radiation. This poem, with its radiation leak, immediately opens up a danger zone. Step in at your peril into an image that gives rise to paralyzing fears, to the dead zones of Chernobyl, Fukushima; to the forbidden zones. Anything could happen here.

From a leak to a fireball, from the atom to the apocalyptic mushroom cloud, you could be walking into a minefield of the results of unbridled ambition and unscrupulous greed, a Faustian deal . . . Whether the leak is from a technological or scientific project, where man sees himself tirelessly bent on expanding knowledge and power over nature, finding solutions to the human problems of illness, poverty, and environmental degradation; whether hubris or dedication to the common good, here is a consequence: the spewing of poisonous material, the fall into a dark, man-made Hell.

But now the poet brings moonlight on the scene. Like a benevolent, all-seeing Eye of God, moonlight bathes the fuel rods in light we associate with understanding, with cool logic, in forgiveness. I am reminded of the Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos’ Moonlight Sonata, where moonlight hides smaller-scale follies such as showing white hair as golden, at the same time relentlessly intensifying shadows. In Allen’s poem too, moonlight is both kind and cooling, as well as relentless and permanent, not allowing the fuel rods to hide in the shadows. An image burned into the mind.

Note that the fuel rods are not spent. The young man in Ritsos’ poem too, is present all through the poem, at the end leaving full of energy, bursting into laughter as he walks away. Life continues in its boundless energy, in its perpetual flow, beyond leaks, beyond the night, beyond our human follies, beyond life itself.

 

“Joining the Dots” in Haibun Today

Joining the Dots

From the compensation for the demolition of his house to make way for a new road, he bought two tiny apartments, a four-poster bed, an amber komboloi, and a pendulum clock. As a child, I considered the wall-mounted, cherry wood, chiming clock to be my granddad’s most striking acquisition. I checked it continuously, comparing its time to the watch my dad had given me before going away to sea.

approaching wind knots matter

But it was the sound of it chiming the hour that stayed with me the longest. Half a century later, I can feel the deep resonance of that chime opening doors to the past.

let’s say the map shrinks afterwards

In Haibun Today, 10: 1, 2017

Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box

I step inside a second-hand store in downtown Athens. A musty odor envelops me. A yellow handbag, by the entrance, has pride of place. Plastic dolls of varying sizes, unclothed but for the price tag, line a shelf. Rows of scaffed shoes, and shoes never worn, line the skirting board. Shirts, trousers, blouses, and skirts hang from circular rails. Moths dance in the sunlight. I run my hand across the clothes and continue to the back of the shop, to the books: Fiction, Poetry, Classics, Biography, Bibles. I duck to avoid a doll in military dress.
A glass-topped drawer catches my eye. Sparkling pair after pair of earrings: pearl, gemstone, silver, gold, diamond. I didn’t expect such quality.
The owner, dressed in a beige cotton tunic, approaches. “The Junta General’s wife,” she tells me. “After the trials she could not wear them. Brought them here. In all these years, nobody will touch them, although they come and look.”
A shadow of suspicion crosses her face. She looks me up and down, then relaxes. “Pity. She loved poetry,” she says, fanning herself.

bitter olives . . .
sound of a key turning
in the lock
.

In Haibun Today vol.9, 4, 2015

‘typos’ in RHP 95

typos
in the book of the dead—-
water lilies

In Right Hand Pointing 95, the special, and wonderful, Haiku issue  guest-edited by Eric Burke

RHP, Right Hand Pointing Interesting introduction by Dale Wisely, founder and editor of RHP, who refused to include haiku in the journal for twelve whole years! Well, at long last, Dale!

Read Dale Wisely’s introduction here

Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku

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