Fire, … it’s good to have room for new things

Even in a large city, the streets after a certain advanced hour of night are relatively still. What one hears and sees are apparitions and sounds to which both our eyes and our ears have long since grown accustomed. There are none of the usual sounds. People are at home, sitting around the cozy family table, or else in bars hunkered over their beers and political discussions, or in the concert hall, reverently listening to the pieces of music being performed, or at the theater, following the suspenseful goings-on upon the brightly lit stage, or else they are standing in pairs, or in groups of three or seven on some melancholy street corner, delving into profundities, or else perhaps aimlessly walking in some direction or other. “Hey there, car!” another cries out, and somewhere there might be a poet buried in his isolated room, drunkards wandering in wretched bliss from one still to another, bawling and harassing the passersby; perhaps a horse pulling a hackney cab is collapsing somewhere, a woman fainting, a scoundrel being apprehended by the always vigilant and safety-restoring police force—and suddenly someone shouts: “Fire!” Quite close by, it seems, a fire has broken out. People were just standing around, indecisive and bored, about to accuse the hour of lacking all interest and in any case starting to feel chilled, and suddenly here’s this great novelty being presented, something unexpected to kindle our enthusiasm. Everyone lurches forward and without realizing it has already begun a conversation with whoever happens to be standing alongside, cheeks are glowing, and now people are even starting to leap and run. They’re suddenly doing something they haven’t tried in a good two years. All at once the world appears changed, expanded, thicker, and more tangible.

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Le Système des objets, into the domestic universe


The Modern Object Liberated in Function

The style of furniture changes as the individual’s relationships to family and society change. Corner divans and beds, coffee tables, shelving – a plethora of new elements are now supplanting the traditional range of furniture. The organization of space changes, too, as beds become day-beds and sideboards and wardrobes give way to built-in storage. Things fold and unfold, are concealed, appear only when needed. Naturally such innovations are not due to free experiment: for the most part the greater mobility, flexibility and convenience they afford are the result of an involuntary adaptation to a shortage of space – a case of necessity being the mother of invention. Whereas the old-fashioned dining-room was heavily freighted with moral convention, ‘modern’ interiors, in their ingeniousness, often give the impression of being mere functional expedients. Their ‘absence of style’ is in the first place an absence of room, and maximum functionality is a solution of last resort whose outcome is that the dwelling-place, though remaining closed to the outside, loses its internal organization. Such a restructuring of space and the objects in it, unaccompanied by any reconversion, must in the first instance be considered an impoverishment.

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ism, n.

A form of doctrine, theory, or practice having, or claiming to have, a distinctive character or relation: chiefly used disparagingly, and sometimes with implied reference to schism.


(Beginning is nothing
Ending is also nothingness
I am nothingness.

Etymology: Representing French -isme, Latin -ismus, < Greek -ισμός, forming nouns of action from verbs in -ίζειν, e.g. βαπτίζειν to dip, baptize, βαπτισμός the action of dipping, baptism. An allied suffix was -ισμα(τ-), which more strictly expressed the finished act or thing done, and which in some cases is the source of modern -ism. Besides its free use as a suffix forming verbs on ordinary nouns and adjectives, -ίζειν was (as mentioned under -ize suffix) affixed to national names, with the sense to act or ‘play’ the people in question, and hence to act like, do after the manner of, practise the habits, customs, or language of, side with or adhere to the party of, those people. Hence the noun in -ισμός had the sense of acting or doing like, siding with, adhesion to, or speaking like the people in question; e.g. Ἀττικίζειν to Atticize, to side with the Athenians, to use the Attic dialect; hence Ἀττικισμός, Atticism, a siding with Athens, Attic style of language, etc. The Septuagint (Esther viii. 17) and New Testament have Ἰουδαίζειν to Judaize, to live like the Jews. The derivative Ἰουδαισμός Judaism, the manner of the Jews, occurs in the Septuagint (2 Macc. ii. 21). The Latin Jūdaismus occurs in Tertullian (c200); Jūdaizāre in the Vulgate. Origen (a250) has Χριστιανίζειν to play the Christian, act the part of a Christian, practise Christian principles, and Justin Martyr (a150) has Χριστιανισμός the practice of Christians, Christianity. Hence late Latin chrīstiānizāre in Tertullian, chrīstiānismus in Tertullian, Augustine and Jerome. On the type of these, -ισμός, -ismus, became the ordinary ending to form names of religious, ecclesiastical, or philosophical systems; thus pāgānismus is cited by Du Cange from a council of 744. The Old French representation of this, paienisme, paienime, painime (12th cent.) is probably the earliest French example, and appears in English as painime, painim in the 13th cent. But, in the modern form and sense, Judaisme is found a1500, and christianisme (a1500 in French) c1525 in English. From the 16th cent. such formations are numerous.

1680 E. Pettit Vision of Purgatory 46 He was the great Hieroglyphick of Jesuitism, Puritanism, Quaquerism, and of all Isms from Schism. 1756 Monthly Rev. 14 359 Arianism, Socinianism, Arminianism, or any other ism. 1789 H. Walpole Lett. 4 Nov. Alas! you would soon squabble about Socianism, or some of those isms. 1808 R. Southey Select. from Lett. (1856) II. 182 It has nothing to do with Calvinism nor Arminianism, nor any of the other isms. 1811 T. J. Hogg Life Shelley (1858) I. 373 He is nothing,—no ‘ist’, professes no ‘-ism’ but superbism and irrationalism. 1820 R. Polwhele Introd. Lavington’s Enthus. Method. & Papists 118 It has no connection with Methodism, or Puritanism, or any ism or schism. 1820 T. Carlyle Let. to M. Allen Oct. I expect much pleasure from talking over old bygone things, from discussing Spürzheimism, Whiggism, Church of Englandism, and all other imaginable ‘isms’. 1840 Fraser’s Mag. 21 702 All the untidy isms of the day shall be dissipated. 1843 T. Carlyle Past & Present ii. xv. 158 This is Abbot Samson’s Catholicism of the Twelfth Century;—something like the Ism of all true men in all true centuries, I fancy. 1864 J. R. Lowell Rebellion in Prose Wks. (1890) V. 138 That class of untried social theories which are known by the name of isms. 1884 Kendal Mercury 3 Oct. 4/7 The principles on which Education Acts are based, irrespective of isms and creeds. 1928 G. B. Shaw Intell. Woman’s Guide Socialism lxxxiii. 447 The proletarian Isms are very much alike. 1968 S. C. Hutchison Hist. Royal Acad. xvii. 183 He saw no place in art for abstractions and ‘isms’ and had a very low opinion of their adherents. 1974 Listener 14 Feb. 220/1 Impressionism became the most successful ‘ism’ in the history of art.

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The Country Boy

Soy el tigre.
Te acecho entre las hojas anchas como lingotes
de mineral mojado.
El río blanco crece bajo la niebla. Llegas.
Desnuda te sumerges. Espero.


Under the volcanoes, beside the snow-capped mountains, among the huge lakes, the fragrant, the silent, the tangled Chilean forest … My feet sink down into the dead leaves, a fragile twig crackles, the giant rauli trees rise in all their bristling height, a bird from the cold jungle passes over, flaps its wings, and stops in the sunless branches. And then, from its hideaway, it sings like an oboe … The wild scent of the laurel, the dark scent of the boldo herb enter my nostrils and flood my whole being … The cypress of the Guaitecas blocks my way … This is a vertical world: a nation of birds, a plenitude of leaves … I stumble over a rock, dig up the uncovered hollow, an enormous spider covered with red hair stares up at me, motionless, as huge as a crab … A golden carabus beetle blows its mephitic breath at me, as its brilliant rainbow disappears like lightning … Going on, I pass through a forest of ferns much taller than I am: from their cold green eyes sixty tears splash down on my face and, behind me, their fans go on quivering for a long time … A decaying tree trunk: what a treasure!… Black and blue mushrooms have given it ears, red parasite plants have covered it with rubies, other lazy plants have let it borrow their beards, and a snake springs out of the rotted body like a sudden breath, as if the spirit of the dead trunk were slipping away from it … Farther along, each tree stands away from its fellows … They soar up over the carpet of the secretive forest, and the foliage of each has its own style, linear, bristling, ramulose, lanceolate, as if cut by shears moving in infinite ways … A gorge; below, the crystal water slides over granite and jasper … A butterfly goes past, bright as a lemon, dancing between the water and the sunlight … Close by, innumerable calceolarias nod their little yellow heads in greeting … High up, red copihues (Lapageria rosea) dangle like drops from the magic forest’s arteries … The red copihue is the blood flower, the white copihue is the snow flower … A fox cuts through the silence like a flash, sending a shiver through the leaves, but silence is the law of the plant kingdom … The barely audible cry of some bewildered animal far off … The piercing interruption of a hidden bird … The vegetable world keeps up its low rustle until a storm churns up all the music of the earth.

Anyone who hasn’t been in the Chilean forest doesn’t know this planet.

I have come out of that landscape, that mud, that silence, to roam, to go singing through the world.

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1405 G. Chaucer Franklin’s Tale l.420 At Orliens in Studie a book he say Of Magyk naturel, which his felawe..Hadde prively vp on his desk ylaft

desk, n.

Forms: Also Middle English–1600s deske, (Middle English–1600s desque, 1500s dexe, dext), 1500s–1700s Scottish dask.

Etymology: Middle English deske, apparently immediately < medieval Latin desca ‘cum descis et scamnis, et aliis ornamentis’ (c1250 in Du Cange). The latter is to be referred ultimately to Latin discus (also used in medieval Latin in the sense ‘table’), of which the regular Romanic form remains in Italian desco ‘a deske, a table, a boord, a counting boord; also a forme, a bench, a seat, or stoole’ (Florio). Probably from this Italian desco, the medieval Latin desca (feminine) (like mensa, tabula) was formed.
Desk was in no way actually connected with dish , Old English disc , Middle English disch , although Old English disc , West Germanic disk , was itself an ancient adoption of Latin discus . The Old French representation of Latin discus , Romance desco , Provençal des , was deis , English dais n. Thus dais, desk, dish, disk, all originate in the same word.

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A Man in Love, … next year I shall plant some Tomatoes

Walking down a narrow street one evening, I stole a melon. The fruit seller, who was lurking behind his fruit, caught me by the arm.

Miss, I’ve been waiting for a chance like this for forty years. For forty years I’ve hidden behind this pile of oranges in the hope that somebody might pinch some fruit. And the reason for that is this: I want to talk, I want to tell my story. If you don’t listen, I’ll hand you over to the police.

I’m listening, I told him.

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