Saturday, March 25, 2006

table series: issue one.

Paul de Man’s essay “Excuses (Confessions)” is a reading of Rousseau’s Confessions.

Something I can understand: a reading. de Man states that he will, regarding this particular reading of Rousseau’s Confessions, “attempt to clarify the relationship between critical procedures that start out from the discourse of the subject and procedures that start out from political statements,” and so I will say that is my attempt, as well (278). For the purpose of this series in progress, I will here name specifically the subject as 'speaker' and the political 'autobiography.' de Man states that :
the Confessions are not primarily a confessional text. To confess is to overcome guilt and shame in the name of truth: it is an epistemological use of language in which ethical values of good and evil are superseded by values of truth and falsehood…(279)

This statement is useful to me regarding autobiography and confession, as my text (the text I have chosen to use in order to apply the instruction I have received from the text of Paul de Man) is called an autobiography and is, essentially, a confession. I want to explore, in as much depth as possible, the question of whether or not confession is* inherent to autobiography, and also, if confession is inherently didactic.* That is, as far as I know right now in the writing of this series, where my interest resides.

[In my effort to understand de Man I feel the need to follow, to the best of my ability, de Man’s instruction, and so I will closely read de Man’s essay while also operating upon my chosen confessional text. At least, this is the plan. As per the order of de Man’s essay I must now orient you, my reader, with my chosen text here:]

What does it mean to confess? According to de Man above “[t]o confess is to overcome guilt and shame in the name of truth….” What is key here, I think, is the word overcome, there must be a deliberate effort made on the part of the confessor to defeat guilt and shame. The achievement of this defeat over guilt and shame is the reinstitution of “the economy of ethical balance” and the cleansing of the slate, so to speak, of “the atmosphere of a truth that does not hesitate to reveal the crime in all its horror” (279). Having determined the meaning of to confess, I see a division in autobiography, that confession is not synonymous with autobiography, but can be contained within autobiography, as not every autobiography can be said to achieve this “economy of ethical balance.” I am tempted, however, to state that every autobiography pretends to achieve this state, or wishes to achieve this state, as the writing of one’s history gives the reader of the history a specific presentation, one that seems to claim, by the mere name: autobiography, a perspective that is just: the writing of one’s own history. Now I will pause to identify a text:

Among the many possible Orestes A. Brownsons there could have been : the Unitarian, the Transcendentalist, and the Catholic [not to mention the politician, the man, the father, etc], only one chose to write The Spirit-Rapper, An Autobiography in 1854. In 1854 Brownson was a converted Catholic. [This is not necessary information. I will start again:]
Brownson’s The Spirit-Rapper, An Autobiography is a written account of a man’s life spent sacrificing God for Science. In fact, he substitutes God for Science. In this autobiography our narrator becomes involved in the practice of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, as a means to achieving his deep desired goal of understanding the nature of all things. He is offered these answers, and the power these answers seemingly contain, by his table, which he has mesmerized and which has learned to communicate with him through rapping on the floor in a sort of Morse code.

"I held a long dialogue with the table, which, however, I shall not record. I ascertained the origin of the raps, how to produce them, and how to read them. But this was but a trifle. I would have the power visible to my eyes, submissive to my orders, and speak to me in plain and intelligible language, properly so called. I obtained a promise that this should come in due time, but that for the present I must suffer the force to remain invisible, and be content with a language of mere arbitrary signs. (Brownson 41)"

Here I must pause in order to determine meaning.
Brownson uses several words I want to discuss: dialogue, table, record, read, language, and the term ‘arbitrary signs’.

Friday, March 24, 2006

BOOK PARTY: CAConrad & Shanna Comptom (DEVIANT PROPULSION and DOWN SPOOKY) !!!!!!!

April 9th
(Philadelphia's OLDEST independent bookstore!!!! SUPPORT IT!!!! KEEP IT ALIVE!!!!)
108 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia
(phone) 215.735.9600
robins bookstore

CAConrad's childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He escaped to Philadelphia the first chance he got, where he lives and writes today with the PhillySound poets ( Soft Skull Press recently published his book Deviant Propulsion. He has two forthcoming books, The Frank Poems (Jargon Society), and advanced ELVIS course (Buck Downs Books). He recently co-authored The B. Franklin Basement Tapes with Frank Sherlock for NEXUS Gallery in Philadelphia. For correspondence, please write to
ONLINE LINK for Deviant Propulsion: HERE
ONLINE LINK for CAConrad's homepage: CAConrad

Shanna Compton's first full-length poetry collection, Down Spooky, was published by Winnow Press in November 2005. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Best American Poetry 2005, Coconut, the Tiny, Spork, The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, and elsewhere. As the Associate Publisher of Soft Skull Press, she edited poetry collections and experimental fictions, and curated both the Frequency Series and the Soft Skull Sneak Peek Series. She also edited an anthology of essays on the subject of video games called GAMERS: Writers, Artists & Programmers on the Pleasures of Pixels. From 2002-2005 she served as the editor of LIT. She works as a freelance copywriter and publishes poetry chapbooks and broadsides via her micropress Half Empty/Half Full. Originally from Texas, she has lived in Brooklyn, NY since 1995.
ONLINE LINK for Down Spooky: here
ONLINE LINK for Shanna Compton's homepage: here

Thursday, March 23, 2006


on my way home from german class i was listening to michael krasny's forum : Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality.

[unfortunately NOT online but maybe one day you will find it HERE

krasny interviews theologian Jack Rogers who has authored a book by the same title.

i've been thinking about the bible often. in fact it has been running in the background of my thoughts for this past year non-stop. it was triggered into overdrive one day while m and i were discussing Academia and Religion [how the two shalt not often meet]. later, we were out with several friends after a reading and i was struck by the absoluteness my fellow revellers had re: the non-existence of GOD and, moreso, the underlying assumption that all present [being 'educated'] knew this as fundamental.

now, i'm not here to spout about GOD, so much, as to spout about how, at this point, the truth of the matter makes little to no difference. the belief does. the fact is: THEY believe GOD exists. and that HE wrote the bible. [and even worse, the HE wrote it in English. tho i think this point really does matter] and *what* THEY believe about the bible [which i'm currently reading and must say God is one big asshole so far... and thank Him for having a Son bc if he didn't and he is real we'd all be in some serious trouble] has an impact on my life in this world.

all this to say... Jack Rogers is someone who has read the bible. and researched. and he found all sorts of insertions about homosexuality. [insertions = entered into by the culture after the fact].

this is good news. if anyone wants to hear it. and gee... maybe if THEY actually read the bible things might be a little different.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Help the Polish Queer Community!

Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 12:24:40 -0500
From: "Julie Land"
Subject: Queers in Poland!

I noticed that on this listserve there was a recent post regarding protests
of Polish president, Lech Kaczynski's visit to the United States in reaction
to his treatment of the GLBT community in Poland. I was overjoyed to see
that the Queer community elsewhere has taken notice of the situation in this
country. As many of you may already know the situation for sexual
minorities in Poland has grown increasingly worse over the last few years as
a result of a conservative backlash to the increasingly vocal GLBT community
and globalization (read accession into the European Union). For the last
two summers Kaczynski, as the mayor of Warsaw, cancelled pride parades, and
the situation has grown violent at some points as tolerance marches in
Krakow, and more recently Poznan have drawn violent reactions. However,
what many people do not know is that the situation will likely worsen, as
Kaczynski has only recently begun his 5 year term as president, and funds
for NGOs and other organizations dealing with GLBT and sexual minority
rights have become even more scarce in the past couple of years.
From my vantage point in Krakow, I can see that there is real fear and
uncertainty within the GLBT community. Organizing has, in a way, become
more difficult since Poland joined the European Union; western funds which
were previously supporting social justice causes have all but disappeared
under the assumption that the Union's structural and cohesion funds would
fill the void. Indeed, it was widely believed that when Poland entered the
EU, the non-profit and NGO sector (a key part of civil society) would live
on and even thrive, however this has not been the case. Money coming out of
Brussels is distributed to the national and regional authorities of the
member states, and the Polish government is rarely willing to pass the money
along to causes relating to, for example, the liberation of women or sexual
minorities. If one keeps abreast of the Polish news, they might find that
this month the government allocated millions of Polish zloty to build a new
Catholic Church (in a nation of many thousands of Catholic Churches), which
would serve as a shrine and a museums for Catholic pilgrims. Yet,
practically in the same moment, one of the nation's oldest and most
respected feminist organizations lost its office space in Krakow due to a
lack of rent money. The situation at the moment seems bleak. Many of us
who watched Brokeback Mountain (it premiered this weekend in Poland) saw the
film not as an historical text, but rather as a commentary on the reality
and difficulty of life for the Queer community in Poland.
Yet, there are still sights of resistance. At the end of April in Krakow
the Foundation of a Culture for Tolerance will hold the Festival for a
Culture of Tolerance (, which will
include cultural, social, practical, and academic aspects, but the most
important and most visible part of the festival will be the "March for
Tolerance" to take place on the 28th of April. Already posters have
appeared throughout the streets of Krakow proclaiming "Stop Homosexual
Depravity and Deviation" and urging the citizens of Krakow to try to prevent
the march from taking place. With the all-to-recent memory of skinheads
wielding bats, throwing stones, and shouting "We'll do with you what Hitler
did to the Jews" and "Queers to the gas," there is fear that the march in
April will be met with violence, but on a scale even larger than before.
Support from the Queer community is desperately needed here in Poland!
Letters written to Polish Consulates and Embassies, telling them that the
world is watching and that GLBT rights are Human Right, will send the
message that further violence and the denial of basic rights will not be
tolerated (for the addresses of Polish embassies throughout the world,
visit: Parties or
other benefits to raise money for NGOs and other organizations dealing with
GLBT liberation in Poland (and especially the Foundation of a Culture for
Tolerance) would also be a great way for Queers to unite across borders and
help a community that going through a particularly difficult period. But
the letters and the money aside, it is crucial that you spread the word
about what is happening here in Poland. Forward this email far and wide;
tell your friends, and keep your eyes on the news. Kaczynski and his
government must feel the heat of public opinion weighing down on their every
action, and they must be forced to face the problems of homophobia in this
country. The Queer community is everywhere, and when our voice is heard in
its full fury we cannot be stopped! Thank you for your time and for reading
to the end. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact
me: ,
or go to the Fundacja website:

Sincerely, Julie Land