Laying Down Paths


Constructed landscapes.
Walking the landscapes of literature and time.
Laying down the path.
Leaving a trace.


“Water!...An immense body of water!....And what water!....
Black, stagnant, so perfectly smooth that
not a ripple, not a bubble, marred its surface. No spring, no source. It had been there for thousands of
years and remained there, caught unawares by the rock, spread out in a single, impassive sheet. In its
stone matrix, it had itself become this black, still rock, a captive of the mineral world. It had been
subjected to the crushing mass, the enormous upheavals, of this oppressive world. Under this heavy
weight, its very nature appeared to have been changed as it seeped through the thicknesses of the lime
slabs that held its secret fast. Thus it had become the densest fluid element of the underground
mountain. Its opacity and unwonted consistency made an unknown substance of it, a substance charged
with phosphorescences that only appeared on the surface in occasional flashes. These electric tints,
which were signs of the dark powers lying on the bottom, manifested the latent life and formidable
power of this still dormant element. They made me shiver.”

[The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard pg. 23]


The wind’s [motion swept the world aside. What shall I do with my six hundred wings?

[Anne Carson, pg. 14]

It is because I believe there is no place in this world that is not an unreal dwelling. At this point I abandoned the line of thinking and
went to sleep, centuries of difficult sleep and hard riding and still I do not know

[1. Basho cited by Anne Carson in Kinds of Water. 1987]


the sense of things when I see it,

when I stand with the pieces that clink and fall from my hands,

[2. Anne Carson, Kinds of Water, 1987]

it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as
still as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in
front of it we are drifting back and forth between each other like a
tree breathing through its spectacles.

[3. Frank O’Hara, Having a Coke with You, April 21, 1960]

No breath of wind stirs any longer
the branches’ clandestine green. The
moon has silenced their voices, but
through the grief of the half-open

cold kisses
and blue stars

[4. Hölerlin cited by Georges Perec in La Machine 1968]


In the nights,
at times the sea lit up
and to the sails
appeared a tract of land
all crystalline marble still as a church.


Everyone has washed away,
the mist completely lifted in the night.

[5. W.G. Sebald, After Nature, 1988]


every animal that likes to watch the moon past full
is a rambler; the beginning of a
little more darkness.

[7. Georges Perec, La Machine, 1968]
[8. Basho, 841.]


You would not see me - I lie in
the dark listening, swirling.
‘Indeed, when we do not see,” [Themistius] writes,

[29. Anne Carson, Kinds of Water, 1987]

paraphrasing Stagirite, “<as well as when we see>, we
‘discern [objects] by sight,’ and we not only perceive
light but also jointly perceive darkness, yet not in ex-
actly the same way,”

[30. Daniel Heller-Roazen, Inner Touch, 2007]


The hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way,
and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly she had not
a moment to think about stopping herself falling down
a very deep well, for she had plenty of time as she went
down to look about her and to wonder what was going to
happen when you step across


the chasms between the words

[20. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, 1865]

on these pages
taking care not to loose footing
yet you fall into them
elevator shafts without cables.

[21. Christian Bok, Crystallography, 2003]

You despise the animals which do
not follow you. I wonder if I shall


fall right through the

[22. Georges Perec, La Machine, 1968]

earth. Evening falls,
the shape is still there.

[24. Anne Carson, Kinds of Water, 1987]
[23. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonder-
land, 1865]


Socrates, after bathing,
came back to his cell,
drank the hemlock;
you suffer
others wept,
and keep silent,
swans swam around
unknown to them
an unknown place far from tears,
which he did not understand.

[26. Borges, via Georges Perec, 1968]
[27. Anne Carson, Kinds of Water, 1987]


Leibniz himself understood the doctrine of small perceptions
“unaccompanied by awareness and unaccompanied by reflection:
each soul proves itself to be that of a simple substance
to which he gave the name “monad”
a world in shorthand
an image of the universe
or a living mirror
representing the universe according to its point of view
and above all with respect to its body

[28. Daniel Heller-Roazen, Inner Touch 2007]


lunar landscape
gravel showers
bruise your body till you swoon,
the sand a fluid
solid, spilling time away
into dunes on display in tiny jars;

[25. Christian Bok, Crystallography, 2003]


my water jar splashes
on my back
as I walk.
Kinds of water drown us -
kinds of water do not.
A pool of thoughts tilts this way and


Geology writes
a euology for all that it buries
by pressing words, like moths,
between pages
of a mammoth encyclopedia of

[9. Christian Bok, Crystallography, 2003]


Time embraces youth,
youth embraces
See the circles
fit one upon the other.
See them move and slip,
Turning around a center which
becomes gradually emptier,
gradually darker,
until it is as black as a


mark on the wall, over all castles
is sleep
in all hedges of thorn
you feel

hardly a king’s son
the princesses are silent
in the spinning room

[11. Georges Perec, La Machine, 1968]


But the various sounds of the tongue
nature drove them to utter
and convenience pressed out of them
names for things, not for otherwise than very speechless-
ness is seen to drive children to the use of gesture, when it
makes them point with the finger at things that are before
them. The gesture will also supply noises of its own to color over the silences
and the lulls. For some unknown listeners, these sounds approximate

[31. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura: 1st Centrury BC]

lethargic birdcalls and are rippling in nature.

[32. Ben Marcus, The Age of Wire and String, 1998]


Bird speech at the Circle of Willis results in
migrant noises or “puddles” that amass
near the head of the pedestrian,
rallying it toward a form of disruption
within the flowing crowd.

A sound not heard on the first pass is

shot back

into the messages that follows messages accumulate,
denied entry; -

the sealed, low frequency bird speech rises to the fore and nags at the walker with squawks, chirps, and peeps until its knees buckle under the weight of unheeded instructions.

The motions of pedestrians is evasive and certain scavengers appear to have harder more heavily woven tor- rents of fluid bird cries, replacing stolen messages and thoughts, pounding at the noise as it pumps into the body of the world’s person.

[33. Ben Marcus, The Age of Wire and String, 1998]


over all hilltops
is rest,
in all treetops
you feel
hardly a breath;
the birds are silent
in the forest.
Only wait, soon
you too shall rest.

[34. Wandrers Nachtlied II (Rambler’s Lullaby II), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe via Georges Perec, 1968]


s i l e n t b i r d s f e e l r e s t
b i r d s f e e l r e s t s i l e n t
f e e l r e s t s i l e n t b i r d s
s i l e n t f e e l r e s t b i r d s
f e e l r e s t b i r d s s i l e n t
r e s t b i r d s s i l e n t f e e l
b i r d s s i l e n t f e e l r e s t
s i l e n t r e s t b i r d s f e e l
r e s t b i r d s f e e l s i l e n t
b i r d s f e e l s i l e n t r e s t

[pg. 57 Perec The Machine.]


Therefore no single thing returns to nothing,
the branches upon the trees grow green,
the trees also grow and become heavy with fruit;
hence comes nourishment again for our kind and for the wild beasts;
hence we behold happy leafy woods
all one song with the young birds;
herefore things do not utterly pass away that seem to do so,
since Nature makes
up again one thing
from another.

[36. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura: 1st Centrury BC]



  1. Anne Carson, “Kinds of Water,” Grand Street Vol. 6, no. No. 4 (Summer 1987): 185.

  2. Ibid., 177.

  3. Frank O’Hara, “Having a Coke with You” from The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Mauren Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O’Hara.

  4. David Bellos and John O’Brien, The Review of Contemporary Fiction: Georges Perec Issue: Spring 2009 (Dalkey Archive, 2009), 88.

  5. W.G. Sebald, After Nature, Modern Library Paperback Edition. (New York: The Modern Library, 2003), 59.

  6. Carson, “Kinds of Water,” 179.

  7. Bellos and O’Brien, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 67.

  8. Matsuo Basho, Basho: The Complete Haiku, annotated edition. (Kodansha Europe, 2008), Trans. Jane Reighchold, 202 (Haiku: 841).

  9. Christian Bök, Crystallography, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2003), 57.

  10. Anne Carson, Men in the Off Hours (Vintage Canada, 2001), 7.

  11. Bellos and O’Brien, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 63.

  12. Titus Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura, 3rd ed. Loeb Classical Library (London: Hinemann, 1937), IV, 595-614.

  13. Bök, Crystallography, 29.

  14. Basho, Basho, 102 (Haiku: 349).

  15. Margaret Cavendish Newcastle and Eileen O’Neill, Observations upon experimental philosophy, Cambridge texts in the history of phi- losophy (Oxford ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 118.

  16. Basho, Basho, 293.

  17. Carson, “Kinds of Water,” 177.

  18. Newcastle and O’Neill, Observations upon experimental philosophy, 107.

  19. Sebald, After Nature, 58.

  20. Lewis Carroll, The Best of Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass/The Hunting of the Snark/A Tangled Tale/Phantasmagoria/non- sense from Letter (Booksales, 1992), 6.

  21. Bök, Crystallography, 56.

  22. Bellos and O’Brien, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 67.

  23. Carroll, The Best of Lewis Carroll, 7.

  24. Carson, “Kinds of Water,” 177.

  25. Bök, Crystallography, 57.

  26. Bellos and O’Brien, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 88.

  27. Carson, “Kinds of Water,” 180.

  28. Daniel Heller-Roazen, Inner Touch, Reprint. (Zone Books, 2009), 193.

  29. Carson, “Kinds of Water,” 179.

  30. Heller-Roazen, Inner Touch, 86.

  31. Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura, V, 1028-1034.

  32. Ben Marcus, The age of wire and string : stories, 1st ed. (Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1998), 71.

  33. Ibid., 72-72.

  34. Bellos and O’Brien, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 57.

  35. Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura, I, 246-274.