Faeries, come…

All those who believe I’m homeless—blind as I am
Walking with my stick or dog—
That woman in Boston who prayed for me
Who ran off when I offered to pray for her,
What’s wrong with a cripple’s prayer?

In London a girl cried “poor Dearie”
And thrust coins in my hands.
In Cleveland a red faced man
Followed me block after block
Proposing to help…better I thought

Than the alternatives—
The asylum; the work houses.
In general the poets of my nation
See the blind as an existential blank.
But tired of standing for nothing

I sing down Broadway
The sweet, manifold syllables
Of William Yeats—
Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind…

Scandinavian Noir and the Everyman

One may say “you can get away with only so much” and not be far wrong. It’s the narrative idiom whether you’re a fabulist or a scout leader. It’s applicable to state secrecy, demagoguery, lurid pornography and all war crimes. Sex trafficking brings these matters together without fail and this is the focus of much of contemporary Scandinavian Noir as the cops become unwitting moral agents. Criminals sell girls and boys and downtrodden policemen and women appear and say: “you can get away with only so much.” For a brief time good citizens everywhere are reassured.

While there are other topics in Scandinavian Noir sex crimes are a primary feature for many reasons. Number one can be summed up with Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin: “I can see Russia from my house!” (How about Mister Rodgers? “Can you say Russia, Russia, Russia?”)

Russia has pushed a lucrative global enterprise in human trafficking for over twenty years. For Scandinavia and much of Western Europe the brutal realities of trafficking and sexual exploitation are in the news daily. (They’re also evident in the United States–think of the story of Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots who was caught in a botched but utterly revealing “sting” in a Florida spa.)

According to the Borgen Report which details global poverty and its effects: “Russia only has one law that criminalizes human trafficking. Russia passed the law in 2003 under President Vladimir Putin but it does nothing other than label human trafficking illegal. Meanwhile, all the other countries previously part of the Soviet Union have passed over 100 laws against human trafficking. The lack of strong legislation makes it more difficult to arrest, incriminate and convict perpetrators of human trafficking in Russia.”

Putin’s Russia is a worldwide criminal enterprise. The export of captive refugees is an industry. Moreover it’s a mob business which means the bosses are specialists when it comes to local recruitment–pimps and pushers must be cultivated whether we’re talking about Reykjavik or Rouvanemi. Scandinavian noir is therefore often concerned with the lives of local youth and battered elders who, despite the virtues of the Nordic social safety net are almost existentially poor in spirit. In this way all northern noir partakes of some of the chief elements of medieval morality plays.

This means Scandic-noir is allegorical. Protagonists (cops) follow tangled paths (the journey for truth and salvation) while meeting temptations, sin in many guises, and death with or without costumes. The cop is Everyman who struggles to make a good accounting of himself before the eye of God and is frequently abandoned by his untrue friends (Kinship, Beauty, Strength, etc.). His only salvation lies in his Good Deeds.
This means of course that the reader or viewer of the tale must take the role of God and that’s where the intimacy happens. In the troubled 21st century the popularity of this sub-genre rests in your desire to be Yahweh or Christ and while you were thinking you wanted only to know what happened to Vanger’s daughter you were actually sweating out the Ten Commandments.

It’s what you do that counts more than what you profess. When we stand before God, the morality play tells us, the big guy will only care about your mortal deeds. In one of the best known morality plays, entitled “Everyman” we find these classic lines:

“Doctor: This moral men may have in mind;
Ye hearers, take it of worth, old and young,
And forsake pride, for he deceiveth you in the end,
And remember Beauty, Five-wits, Strength, and Discretion,
They all at last do Everyman forsake,
Save his Good-Deeds, there doth he take.
But beware, and they be small
Before God, he hath no help at all.
None excuse may be there for Everyman.”

This is why there’s often no help at all for our Scandinavian policemen and women. God knew what he was doing to them. Or we did.

Ghosts in the Early Morning

I want to be careful. What was it Emily Dickinson said? “Nature is a Haunted House – but Art – a House that tries to be haunted.” I desire my ghosts to be instructive, fail though they may. We try.

If it’s true we create ghosts to haunt ourselves and this is likely I think, then what constitutes a furtherance by which we mean improvement? The house that tries to be haunted must need something. Of course it needs a good scare. A shakeup. We know all ghosts (whether they wish us good or ill) flit against custom.

Salman Rushdie who I admire beyond easy measure said “Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that’s what.” Custom is certainly the house of unfinished biz. Hamlet, The Turn of the Screw, Banquo’s ghost, Christmas Past, all speak to the injustices and corruptions of whatever we mean by “getting on with it.”

Emily Dickinson saw the ghost as muse much as Stephen King does though she thought harder about art. Stephen King writes turgid morality plays, Dickinson writes lyric philosophy.

Still the house that tries to be haunted aims for something, several somethings in fact.

First we must admit the ghosts we chase we’ll never catch. Ghosts pursue us. This is unfair but that’s how nature works. And yes nature abhors a vacuum but it loves ghouls.

I’ve always said Henrik Ibsen was the first psychoanalyst and not Josef Breuer and certainly not Freud. Ibsen wrote: “It’s not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that walks in us. It’s all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can’t get rid of them.”

Think of attenuated dead ideas attached to every man or woman like lamprey eels.

Where did my instructive ghost go? Well Ibsen is one. I’d say my great great grandfather who was a wheelwright and made infant coffins and sleighs is in me. He’s certainly there whenever I say its a nice day because he says “for now” and for me the easy customs are no longer so easy.

Which is the good work of ghosties.

After a Line By Yeats

When I was a boy with barely a crack in my heart
I loved lightning and wild trees

There was no one to tell me different
Old love and new were the same

Grandmother, sister, first cat
I’d barely a crack in my heart

Those were the days of mending
Wounds healed like a second hand

And sunlight fell across the radio
Curtains swayed, postmen

Whistled tunes, sometimes
I drank rain from a can

Barely a crack, scarcely a heart
A boy’s small accounting

And the cat leaving him
The skeleton of a fish


I said I know you but that’s a lie.

I know my arms and throat.

I know my mother’s ghost.

I know the book of dark fragments.

I know the snowy owl’s cry.

I know windows in winter twilight.

I know houses for the rich at the edge of town.

I know the retired bootlegger.

I know only a little about forgiveness.

I know you don’t like to be handled.

I know you weigh less than an ounce.

I know I can’t tell the truth about you.

I know you have the softest call. 

The Diversity and Inclusion Industry vs. Disabled People

It is nearly impossible to speak of disability without asserting its all of us. One consequence of white privilege is the assumption there are no minorities in disability land. I worked for years at a famous guide dog school. Students came from everywhere. I never met anyone who had “it”–the disability “thing” all figured out. 8 out of 10 disabled are unemployed. There may be oodles of rich disabled people but I haven’t met them. But to a finer point: if you’re a person of color who’s disabled you’re far more likely to experience police violence and public ridicule.

The diversity and inclusion industry, which I believe is often a racket, adheres to the so called “medical model” of disability: disability is entirely a physical problem. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more I can do for you,” is the gateway sentence, the doctor can’t make you normal. You’re done. You’re now a deficient normal person. A defective. That disability has culture, history, power, dignity, imagination, and is a rich part of human experience is inadmissible. The blind man (me) is “only” blind. Diversity and Inclusion Inc. doesn’t want to admit people like me because after all, us types should just go and get healed and then we can join the forum. Forget that queer folk, Black people, Latinx citizens all experience disability and moreover are more likely to be brutalized because of it.

In this way “diversity and inclusion” becomes a gateway, a portcullis, a “check point Charlie” a eugenics test, an Ellis Island of medicalized enforcements. Universities are particularly prone to this. Why shouldn’t they adhere to this view? They admit the disabled to college on sufferance, which means of course they’re neither figures of full acceptance or of complete rejection. “You’re here. We’ll see what we think of you.”

Disabled Black people are far more likely to be the victims of police violence than their neighbors. Shouldn’t this alone be enough to open the doors in the Disney Land of D and I?

One would think so. But the medical model says “aren’t there “special places” for people like you? You know, special places, you know, some office somewhere where you people go? Some disability thing someplace in the basement of a building that no one can find? Whatever. You don’t belong in the agora. The quad. The lovely gardens.

A friend writes that she proposed including disability in the D and I culture of her university. The chair of the D and I committee said, “dream big” and changed the subject.

Beyond the medical model there’s this other dynamic at work in the D and I universe. Administrators want brochure photos featuring healthy looking “diverse” students and workers.

Not long ago while I was in residence at an arts colony I heard a noted American novelist tell a large audience that they’d never be so blind and poor of judgment again—referring to (wait for it) a broader appreciation of certain art forms.

Blindness as metaphor, indeed all disability as metaphor is offensive. That this happened at a well heeled arts event doesn’t surprise me. It’s still the case that disability isn’t part of inclusivity in the arts even when some of the most amazing creative work in contemporary America comes from the disability community.

I’ve come to understand this as a matter of resort sales. Years ago I conducted training sessions for Sandals and Beaches resorts. The idea was to help these beach front hotels become better service providers for the disabled.

One executive told me that having disabled people on the property would negatively affect their business.

Their promo material featured photos of sleek, gym toned, happy looking people. Some were white, some were from different ethnicities. But the point was everyone was very very attractive.

When you look at the photos featured on the average university you’ll notice that all the students look like they’ve just come from the gym.

The D and I Industry is often shallow and reinforces discrimination even as it stages its photo ops.

Conjuring the Last Gleeman

There’s a curious essay by Yeats called “The Last Gleeman” wherein he details the life of a Dublin street poet named Michael Moran. Curious because it shows how one can believe too much in words as remedy where dignity is in short supply and curious because Yeats allows Moran’s blindness to stand for Ireland herself which is a mistake–certainly a poet’s error.
In any event as a blind poet myself “The Last Gleeman” has pestered me for years and like all pests I’ve found it’s not without clever inducements.

“Gleemen” is a a medieval neologism for a new brand of itinerant musical beggar. After the Crusades when blind men filled the streets of Paris the performance of disability became a factotum of sufferance. They were thought to glow while singing, hence “glow man” which meant also “joy” man. Many played fiddles. I don’t know if the fiddles glowed. I think the etymology of glee is intriguing:

“Old English gliu, gliw, gleow “entertainment, mirth (usually implying music); jest, play, sport,” also “music” and “mockery,” presumably from a Proto-Germanic *gleujam but absent in other Germanic languages except for the rare Old Norse gly “joy;” probably related to the group of Germanic words in gl- with senses of “shining; smooth; radiant; joyful” (compare glad), from PIE root *ghel- (2) “to shine.” A poetry word in Old English and Middle English, obsolete c. 1500-c. 1700, it somehow found its way back to currency late 18c. In Old English, an entertainer was a gleoman (female gleo-mægden). Glee club (1814) is from the secondary sense of “musical composition for three or more solo voices, unaccompanied, in contrasting movement” (1650s), a form of musical entertainment that flourished 1760-1830.”

See “Online Etymology Dictionary” https://www.etymonline.com/word/glee

It’s intriguing how jest, play and sport enter the picture. Blind street performers–indeed all crippled singers–were irreverent, saucy, flippant, facetious and wholly disrespectful. “Good on them” as we say. They worked on sufferance which in the monarchial world meant that where free speech was impossible they “had it” as we say. Now sufferance is also a fascinating word since it means the absence of disapproval but not true acceptance and in a Latinate sense it has a transferral quality: the beggar does you a service for he becomes your sorrow or rage or joy while performing.

For Yeats Michael Moran was Ireland. (For Yeats there were many Irelands. Moran was transferral Dublin and not the Celtic Twilight.) How is a blind man Ireland?

His parents put him to work shortly after he went blind:

“Michael Moran was born about 1794 off Black Pitts, in the Liberties of Dublin, in Faddle Alley. A fortnight after birth he went stone blind from illness, and became thereby a blessing to his parents, who were soon able to send him to rhyme and beg at street corners and at the bridges over the Liffey. They may well have wished that their quiver were full of such as he, for, free from the interruption of sight, his mind became a perfect echoing chamber, where every movement of the day and every change of public passion whispered itself into rhyme or quaint saying. By the time he had grown to manhood he was the admitted rector of all the ballad-mongers of the Liberties.”

The “Liberties” is a famed tenement district of Dublin (home to the Guinness brewery) named for its ancient charter–by decree neither city or town–a no man’s land which in metaphor heavy Ireland says everything. Michael Moran stands for free speech on downtrodden free soil.

In Yeats’s telling Moran is “a perfect echoing chamber” who’s a cash cow–can one say an “echoing cash cow?” I suppose. Certainly we can say Moran is charming for Yeats and his readers because he’s not quite a poet. He’s more a vessel into which mad Ireland’s nonce scraps and titillations fall only to emerge as glee. “No rules, just right” says the American TV commercial. Freed of nuance or scruple Moran is almost Shakespeare for whom it may also be said that every movement of the day and every change of public passion whispered itself into rhyme or quaint saying as was the playwright’s wont.

Let me repeat the phrase “in Yeats’s telling”–for in it Moran as blind child is presumptive, conjectural and unproven. When precisely did Moran’s parents wish they’d more blind children? When did they find he’d felicities of expression? How did they point a blind child into unfamiliar and dangerous streets? Did they escort him to the river? Did they retrieve him after dark? Were they rhyme loving story telling people who taught him by example at the fireside before abandoning him without orientation and mobility help? Did he have a mongrel dog who accompanied him? Did the ragamuffins of the Liffey “take him in” as they say? Moran’s blindness is in Yeats’s telling yes, in his telling, pure figuration and he reduces the child and then the man through metonymy–a small cripple standing for something larger. One can only accomplish this by leaving out the particulars of his early life.

Yeats might say that he’s giving the man his due showing us how Moran transmuted the raw material of everyday experience into lurid expression and ribaldry. He writes:

“His humorous rhymes were, however, more often quips and cranks at the expense of his contemporaries. It was his delight, for instance, to remind a certain shoemaker, noted alike for display of wealth and for personal uncleanness, of his inconsiderable origin in a song of which but the first stanza has come down to us:

“At the dirty end of Dirty Lane,
Liv’d a dirty cobbler, Dick Maclane;
His wife was in the old king’s reign
A stout brave orange-woman.
On Essex Bridge she strained her throat,
And six-a-penny was her note.
But Dikey wore a bran-new coat,
He got among the yeomen.
He was a bigot, like his clan,
And in the streets he wildly sang,
O Roly, toly, toly raid, with his old jade.”

Let’s be candid: this is a filthy verse to be sure. Dirty Dick’s wife is a jade–a whore, worn out, no better than a disagreeable horse (for a jade is also a horse). When versifying Moran is wretched Dublin’s gramophone, an occasional creedal blasphemer, famed for telling off-color religious stories, quick on his feet, a satirist of hecklers. Who’s to know however that Moran was born only ten years after the first school for the blind was opened in Paris–that there was no such school in Ireland or anywhere else in the world, that the blind were popularly believed to be illiterate, that Braille had yet to be introduced to Dublin or London or New York?

The Gleeman is inspired as the illiterate voice of poverty, therefore he’s one of Yeats’s Irish dramatis personae and yet knowing little to nothing about his Dublin cripples Yeats must in the end sentimentalize them. Moran died in his filthy rags surrounded by singing urchins and here’s how Yeats ends the matter:

“Moran must have felt strange and out of place in that other kingdom he was entering, perhaps while his friends were drinking in his honour. Let us hope that some kindly middle region was found for him, where he can call dishevelled angels about him…”

Moran, you deserved better on every front. Yeats invented the Ireland he needed at every moment, one that was agreeable to his mood. Amusing cripple! With your bamboo cane strapped to your wrist which you’d thrust and parry in earnest or jest. Hot, expulsive! You, who despite it all loved the Virgin Mary. Who could spit further than the sighted. Yeats kept you out of his ideal community, even in the afterlife. Christ! Some kindly middle region was found for him, with disheveled angels? Moran, you were made to endure the worse of Yeats, alas.

Bullying, Ableism, and Higher Ed

Some things are simple. For instance there are only three types of bullies. The first is a soloist. He (or she or they) gets you in a corner when no one else is around. This is the weakest bully for he fears group opinion.

The second kind is like Vladimir Lenin. He’s a public speaker. Draws a crowd. Exhorts the mob. He can either be a satirist who humiliates you in front of others or he can be the instigator of violence. Donald Trump was this type.

Number three is an apparatchik. Think Henry Kissinger. He’s a system man. Works behind the scene. Knows the ropes. Controls the bullies above. In addition to Kissinger one can add Putin and Ho Chi Minh to this group. And of course your average gym teacher.

Group three is often the most articulate. They can sound reasonable. One thinks of Robert E. Lee saying: “Never do a wrong thing to make a friend–or to keep one.” My oh my!

As a disabled guy I’ve met all three, sometimes in the course of a day. As a blind college professor I’ve met #3 rather often, and though it pains me to say it, he, she, or they is often another professor. I’ve written extensively on this blog about ableism in the faculty ranks.

Ableism is at its core “discrimination in favor of able bodied people.” Ableism is seldom consciously designed, indeed one may say it occurs as a sin of omission. At the university we know we should provide accessible teaching and work environments, even extracurricular ones, but we seldom manage to do so. We kick the can down the road whether the issue is accessible software and websites or an accommodation for a student, staff member, or campus visitor.

Ableism doesn’t have to be fully conscious. Like racism, homophobia, misogyny, it works from a set of assumptions. The first is that disability is someone else’s problem—a holdover from Victorian society which created specialized hospitals and asylums for the disabled. We still believe in higher education that there should be a sequestered office that “handles” disability which in turn means most deans, faculty, and administrators in central administration have a collective mind set that the disabled are both a problem and they belong to someone else. Jay Dolmage’s book “Academic Ableism” provides a clear overview of how this dynamic works.

The second assumption is that all disabled people are singular and they’re all medical problems—defective patients who couldn’t be cured. This medical model of disability creates a set of cascading metaphors but the most insidious of them is the idea that a student, staff member, visitor with with a disability who needs an accommodation is a solitary, individual “problem” which in turn means they’re not respected and valued.

I’ve been told as a blind faculty member to “line up behind other faculty” when I needed a sighted graduate assistant—that is, my need for an accommodation was viewed as something out of the ordinary, a matter of competition with non-disabled faculty, and yes, an unwelcome problem. If that was a unique event one might say something like “it’s all in a day…tomorrow will be better….” Pick your own bromide. But in my own case the negative assumptions about accommodations have been legion.

A sin of omission happens when we know we should do better, care for others, direct ourselves toward goodness but we manage not to do it.

Ableism is merely one product of this failing.

Why do so many universities fail to include disability in their efforts to foster diversity consciousness?

One answer is that the inherited competitive structures and ethos of higher education rewards Bully #3 and admires him.

American Hernia

I entered college during Nixon’s second term which meant I was disposed to believe anyone over thirty was venal, amoral, and in some sense “perverted”–though if you asked me what the latter meant I’d have said old people copulate with dogs and that would have been the end of it. In short I was hot headed and unsophisticated and now when I look back on that guy I find that I still like him.

It’s the contrarian in him. He had good reason to distrust his elders. They said he didn’t belong. In almost every setting–from Kindergarten onward–his legal blindness was a shameful thing according to the good burghers, (who later he’d enjoy calling the “running dogs of the bourgeoise.)

The ableist running dogs. Yes I still like him. He loved the old New York joke. You hold up two hands, wiggle your fingers and ask “you know what this is?” Then you stick up your middle finger and say “it’s a whole flock of these.”

Screw you you ableist running dogs.

Later he’d write a poem:

America with your history of eugenics.
With your hostility to the global charter on disability rights.
With your jails, stocked with psychiatric patients—worse than the Soviet Union. We are Gulag Los Angeles; Gulag Rikers Island; Gulag Five Points in Upstate New York.
America with your young Doctor Mengeles.
With your broken VA.
With your war on food stamps and infant nutrition.
With your terror of autism and lack of empathy for those who have it.
With your 80% unemployment rate for people with disabilities.
With your pity parties—inspiration porn—Billy was broken until we gave him a puppy.
With your sanctimonious low drivel disguised as empathy.
With your terror of reasonable accommodations.
With your NPR essays about fake disability fraud, which is derision
of the poor and elderly.
With your disa-phobia—I wouldn’t want one of them to sit next to me on a bus.
America when will you admit you have a hernia?
When will you admit you’re a lousy driver?
Admit you miss the days of those segregated schools, hospitals, residential facilities—just keep them out of sight.
When will you apologize for your ugly laws?
When will you make Ron Kovic’s book irrelevant?
America, you threatened Allen Ginsberg with lobotomy.
America you medicated a generation of teenagers for bi-polar depression when all they were feeling was old fashioned fear.
When will you protect wheelchairs on airlines?
When will you admit you’re terrified of luck?

Let’s admit he wrote the poem much later, that he couldn’t have written the thing at 18. But the hot kid who rejected popular opinion by just being disabled and fighting on, that kid, who didn’t give up or become a young Republican, that kid would read Allen Ginsberg and understand the republic was lousy with social lies and that those lies kill people, he’d grow up to ask America when it will apologize for Nixon eating cottage cheese and ketchup while discussing war casualties? When will it apologize for homelessness? When will it ask for forgiveness for the Judge Rotenberg Center where until last year autistic children were tortured with electro-shock?

Years later he’d find this quote from F. M. Cornford, whose translations of Plato he’d read in college, and whose essay Microcosmographia Academica he’d discover in a book by Christopher Hitchens:

“There is only one argument for doing something; the rest are arguments for doing nothing.

Since the stone axe fell into disuse at the close of the Neolithic Age, two other arguments of universal application have been added to the rhetorical armoury by the ingenuity of mankind. They are closely akin; and, like the stone axe, they are addressed to the Political Motive. They are called the Wedge and the Dangerous Precedent. Though they are very familiar, the principles, or rules of inaction, involved in them are seldom stated in full. They are as follows:

The Principle of the Wedge is that you should not act justly now for fear of raising expectations that you may act still more justly in the future—expectations that you are afraid you will not have the courage to satisfy. A little reflection will make it evident that the Wedge argument implies the admission that the persons who use it cannot prove that the action is not just. If they could, that would be the sole and sufficient reason for not doing it, and this argument would be superfluous.

The Principle of the Dangerous Precedent is that you should not now do any admittedly right action for fear you, or your equally timid successors, should not have the courage to do right in some future case, which, ex hypothesi, is essentially different, but superficially resembles the present one. Every public action that is not customary, either is wrong, or, if it is right, is a dangerous precedent. It follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time.

Another argument is that “the Time is not Ripe.” The Principle of Unripe Time is that people should not do at the present moment what they think right at that moment, because the moment at which they think it right has not yet arrived.”

So the hot youth turned hot man would wrestle with moral prolepsis, anticipating in advance objections to demands for justice.

Disability advocacy and poetry deserve no less.

Now the kid in me believed some ridiculous things. He’d discover people over thirty are not inherently canine copulators and he’d find that marijuana doesn’t make anyone smarter. He’d discover the average poet is no more empathetic or progressive than any variety of blue collar workers. Yes and he’d remain wholly vituperative about ableism.

Admit you have a hernia America.

In Defense of the Insuperable

“But just as man is mysteriously ashamed of the skeletons of the trees in winter, so he is mysteriously ashamed of the skeleton of himself in death. It is a singular thing altogether, this horror of the architecture of things. One would think it would be most unwise in a man to be afraid of a skeleton, since Nature has set curious and quite insuperable obstacles to his running away from it.”

–G.K. Chesterton


When I was a boy and in love with Superman I took the “old super” at face value and chose, insofar as a child does, to equate super-ness with truth, justice, and the American way. It wasn’t until I went to junior high and owing to blindness was subjected to cruelties by classmates and teachers that I first recognized insuperable obstacles–the social and physical architectures of ableism. Ableism is the fear of a skeleton.

Nowadays when I think of design justice I know that the singular thing as Chesterton puts it is the horror of humankind to the architecture of things and hence a fealty to whatever is unimaginative. Ashamed of our bodies, grasping and covetous that in their vulnerabilities they should remain unchanged, we design physical and digital spaces that are as unwise as the fear of bones.

Ableism is the fear of a skeleton. Oops. Here comes a blind one with his skeleton dog. The security checkpoint in your average airport grinds to a halt. How will the man and dog proceed through our metal detectors? Panic ensues. Buttons are pressed. Behind the blind skeleton man and his bony dog all human progress comes to a halt. Frustrated passengers cry out. The underpaid and hapless transportation personnel are themselves panicked. Can we take his dog away? Can we pat down the dog? How do we talk to the man? Can we grab him? Everyone in this scene is ashamed of his, her, or they body. All are secretly conscience stricken about working in this iridescent slaughterhouse.

Here comes a woman with a metal hip. Here’s a transgender man. The algorithms of the scanning machine flip out. The transgender person is subjected to a cruel public show trial which is loud and entirely demeaning. Who will pat they down? The computer design team behind the AI behind the screening machine are 80 per cent to blame for this misery, the rest, well the shaming industry resides in every pencil.

It is the skeleton principle. And there’s no Superman in sight.


Nature has set insuperable obstacles to ignoring or outrunning the skeleton which is the chief value of the thing, for Mr. Bones is nature itself. Shouldn’t we admit we’re all falling apart? Can’t we build public spaces that not only incorporate (yes pun intended) this idea, but make much of it?

I shall defend the insuperable, hopeless, insurmountable grind of the imperfect perfect.

“Therefore all deformed persons are extreme bold — first, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn, but in process of time, by a general habit.”

–Francis Bacon “Of Deformity”


From a notebook:

Pregnant emptiness.

Morning, the color of shipwreck.

Without leaving the present, the condition prior to our entrance, bent like an embryo.


Ignominy, jewels of perdition strung together. The eyes are nudists. The eyes have no philosophy but cry to be entertained.


Boyhood: all lapsus linguae.

Even now I keep a mortal house with no inhabitants.

Last night I cracked a window and my hands shook as they often do. The body, the dark, the raising–what? I saw how literalism and futurism are of little value when you’re crooked.


The broken body is fire. Das Lebend’ge will ich preisen/Das nach Flammentod sich sehnet

Walked the neighborhood, slowly, in the way of the crippled, but I was really in the cave of phantoms–

Playing a part, spiritual body, no singular life

Still, bones full of warnings


Routine, dismal, bored with gathering

A cripple reads too many newspapers

Canary on the terrace filled with excess. His narrow throat of destiny

Of deformity, knowledge is specific, enters the man by bits


Incarnation is iconoclasm. The crooked man throws ashes

Advances across borders

He moves stiffly in the lamplight’s theater