Friday, July 31, 2009

Big Bridge Oppen and Slow Poetry features

The new Big Bridge includes features on Slow Poetry (ed. Dale Smith) and George Oppen (ed. Eric Hoffman), the latter of which includes a review I wrote of Oppen's Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers in the winter/spring of 2008.

"Last summer when I began writing about Slow Poetry, I wondered if poetry that dramatized the dark and stupid could matter much longer. So I began framing raw questions that might help myself and others respond meaningfully to these dark and stupid times. I wondered how I could make sense of what's happening around us through poetry, through art? Perhaps Slow Poetry could be a way to help orient attention again in art to the world. I liked the term, too—Slow Poetry—because it associates with Slow Food and that now-global movement's linking of pleasure for food with a commitment to community and the environment. If we can enjoy poetry—itself an essential form of nourishment—why not also take into account the contexts of its making and reception?"
--Dale Smith

"...I asked contributors to provide essays approaching particular Oppen poems, focusing primarily upon Oppen's aesthetics and prosody, together with critical reactions to recent Oppen scholarship (in particular Cope (2007), Heller and Nicholls (both 2008)). This was only the most general of requests as I wanted as little restriction as possible discussion of the work. As Oppen himself wrote, he could not bring himself to write poetic "exercises," nor did not want my contributors to be forced to contribute critical ones. It was therefore with great pleasure when I received these essays, which I believe represent a significant move forward in Oppen scholarship, marking both the distance Oppen scholarship has come since the work of Cuddihy and Hatlen at the same time pointing the way forward for the Oppen scholarship to come."
--Eric Hoffman

CAConrad on John Weiners at PhillySound

check it out! I love the poems Conrad has selected for a new Weiners EPC author page, like this timely one:


Your lips in a cloud
the spirit that visited
before I died
still assigned to the dead

the cyanide garments
that spirit vented
with tears in payment
from provincial rent

Without personal burden
only refuge denied
such taking allowed
as federal government

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

"The limitation is us"

Rereading Mike Kelley's book Foul Perfection, I came across this passage, which seems a wonderful parsing of two discrete definitions of the sublime and the sublime's relationship to objectivity. The passage is quoted from an interview Kelley conducted with Thomas McEvilley in December, 1992:

"Thomas McEvilley: Along with formlessness, the theme of the sublime in recent art involved a sense of the human individual possessing in a hidden way a potential for vast spiritual greatness. [Barnett] Newman is again the obvious example. But clearly you approach it differently.

Mike Kelley: Right. I have a big problem with that reading of the sublime. My reading is more Freudian, involved with notions of sublimation. I see the sublime coming from the natural limitation of our knowledge; when we are confronted with something that's beyond our limits of acceptability, or that threatens to reveal some repressed thing, then we have this feeling of the uncanny. So it's not about getting in touch with something greater than ourselves. It's about getting in touch with something we know but cannot accept--something outside the boundaries of what we're willing to accept about ourselves.

TM: You're not concerning yourself with what's on the other side of that limitation.

MK: The limitation is us. I'm not interested in what's not us. But to keep talking about it in relation to the threat of physical annihilation separates the project too much from aesthetic discourse. And I want that also to be a part of it. It's about one's interaction with an object, not just one's interaction with one's self. The focus is on the object."

Whose Objectivism?

Stephen Burt's eccentric genealogical construction of contemporary potery after Objectivism, "The New Thing," seems yet more evidence that the Objectivist nexus is not one, but many. And all the more reason poets themselves should take responsibility for making the work of their peers legible to each other, and help to reveal its place within larger historical continuums and trends (a work too often reserved for professional critics).

Having grown up among intense communities of poets and artists (as well as critics!), and having studied Objectivism as a graduate student, I am struck by how distant Burt seems from my own senses of an Objectivist continuum in present-day poetries (however much I enjoy reading many of the poets whom Burt mentions).

Citing Burt's statement, "For [C.D.] Wright, as for [Juliana] Spahr and [Mark] Nowak, poetic attention to facts and things—emulated, reclaimed, quoted, re-framed—speaks to the material conditions a left-wing politics works to change. For other makers of the New Thing though, the solidity they seek is not so much economic as phenomenological: the poem finds, and emulates, some permanence—it is, and describes, something with weight and “measure,” small enough to hold in the hand" I wonder: must the political-economic and the phenomenological be partitioned? Many of the most rigorous poets I know today work through political definitions of the phenomenological and vice versa.

The emergence of political subjects through the incommensurably singular presents a contemporary definition of Objectivism to which I am beholden. Looking back at Oppen and Zukofsky in particular, I believe much of their work allegorizes the emergence of the subject as it struggles to act as a political being via a phenomenology which foregrounds textuality as an extension of various forms of social mediation (the fact that writing has an objective existence and this existence mediates a reader's reality). Oppen's engagements with Heidegger's "arduous path of appearance" comes to mind most readily here; but so do the uncanny convergences of his poetics with Hannah Arendt's thought, for whom the political was also fraught with ambivalence and difficulty. "Left-wing" content, or any content for that matter considered properly subaltern, does not separate itself from matters of form (because it simply can't). Rather, through the subaltern--or that which is made illegible, invisible, or impossible by its situation within the social--form and content constitute an inseparable unity because they coappear within a single event.

For another, more vitriolic take on Burtian objectivism see Stan Apps' Free Will Applicator here.

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ON1 press

Here's some welcome press for ON1, compliments of the University of Arizona Poetry Center's July newsletter .

"ON: Contemporary Practice is a forum for writers to exchange ideas about their contemporaries: writing that takes place now. In their preface to the inaugural issue, Cross, Donovan, and Schlesinger describe a collection that is “not edited, per se, but the accretion of response to the emergency of the present.” These are potent words, and the essays and conversations in ON do feel high-stakes, nervy, and engaged. Tenney Nathanson on Beverly Dahlen, Dale Smith on Hoa Nguyen, Jonathan Skinner on Julie Patton, Tim Peterson on kari edwards, and Jen Hofer and Sawako Nakayasu on each other are just a few of the pairings. Collaboration vibrates through the pages like electricity, and it takes the form of analyses and enactments. ON is great conversation and great theory, protean and visceral."

Copies of ON1 may be purchased at LULU.

ON2 is on the way with contributions by Corina Copp (on Rodrigo Toscano & Poet's Theater), Robert Dewhurst (on Dorothea Lasky), Robert Kocik (on Stacy Syzmaszek), C. J. Martin (on Rob Halpern), Evelyn Reilly (on Rosmarie Waldrop and contemporary women's writing), and Tyrone Williams (on Erica Hunt) among many others.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SHIFTER 15 call

SHIFTER is this great magazine (in a newspaper format!) edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath and coeditors. I am particularly keen on the ways Premnath is blending concept with wit, and bringing visual artists into conversation with scientists, philosophers, poets and others across various "disciplines." Submit if you will.

SHIFTER15 - Will

Editors: Sreshta Rit Premnath, Abhishek Hazra
Deadline: September 30, 2009

‘Indeed, the truth was not hit by him who shot at it with the word of the “will to existence”: that will does not exist… Only where there is life is there also will: not will to life – thus I teach you – but will to power.’
Friedrich Nietzche, “Thus Spake Zarathustra”

When Will shot Joan he did not mean to. He wanted to shoot the apple balanced on her head. The cactus wine may have put the gun in his hand. The spirit may have provided the reckless confidence. And in the spirit of its will he pointed his gun and squeezed the trigger. It may have been at the moment he squeezed the trigger, or perhaps a split second before, that the world had already begun to rip. Space and time had torn the future into an infinite set of possibilities. The set could be divided into two subsets: He would miss Joan / He would not. But the will of the spirit produced a second pair of possibilities that would not matter in the least - He would hit the apple / He would not.

If Will was not himself when he constituted this new reality, one without Joan, then who was responsible? Who’s will acted upon reality? His finger’s? The gun’s? The wine’s? Yet, we must not confuse will with intention - maybe this assumption of a causality itself is a mistake. What is known is that it happened.

If will is a potentiality - a vector that opens possibility and cleaves reality - does it precede choice? Are personal wills constituted by hegemonic ideologies (producing pre-inscribed realities), or rather is an individual’s will that space of agency which allows for an opening and aggregates with other individual wills to produce the transformation of the social?

There is a story about a revolutionary who was tortured to reveal the location of a comrade. He lied and gave his interrogators the wrong coordinates. But, when his interrogators arrived there, they found his friend.

Is reality willed into existence?

Details: Please scale image submissions for a 6″X9″ publication (6.25″X9.25″ with bleeds). Images should be at 300dpi. Rich Text, Word, Jpg, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign files are accepted. Send submissions to shiftermail [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Death of a Hippie

after Mike Kelley and John Waters

We are just this kind of junk
Left out to rot in another
Caricature the concept of nature

Or essence means the world to us
Perhaps the symbolic death
That was Reagan Paul Thek

Adumbrated by Pop and not Junk
Not this actual material eroding
Ideas of the 'good' and 'real'

Someone to tuck you in at night
Someone to fuck you like we
Were not all monsters whether

We like it or not some concept
Of culture takes our place
What did the hippie leave us with

Except some notion of the citizen
Public unassimilable criminalized
Even though white crushed

By the political machinery
Deengineering a tenuous democracy
Containing American decadence.

I mean these men and not
These women (men) these places
That were never place enough
(displaced) to blame us in
The eyes of all people (unpeopled)
The sea will rise and we are
This rising (so sited) the dirt
Will move it will be replaced
By money (rather instantly)
It will erode and we will
Have been this dirt (here)
The difference it will have
Caused (always over there)

This is our sense
Of humor in hell
The mask you wear
Of a pig’s face
Reminds me of this

The maggots in that
Naval which would
Otherwise give birth
To the world the
Eyes that seem to

Be everywhere
Desirous frenzied
Not meeting each
Other in their
Reflections sensing

That total sense
Of senselessness
We awake from
If you or I would

Ever shit still
If we would ever
Partishipate this
Filth could affirm
Empire’s manner.

The Hole (II)

Like that Black Sea
Called back by empire
It is overwhelming
The whole process of
The world irreversible
Someone told me they
Would shoot it all into
Space the waste products
They said that others
Would like to drill a
Hole to the core of the
Earth stuff-it full of
Everything we’ve made
But can't account for.

Yet tonight is like the
First night of the world
To be with you again;
A freshness of subjects
Reenacting our origins
Which are called pain
Which are subsequently
Called art.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster

Jalal Toufic's virtual press, Forthcoming Books, has put out a collection of writings on what Toufic calls "surpassing disaster." This collection collates texts from Toufic's books Oversensitivity, Forthcoming, and Undeserving Lebanon. More than perhaps any other concept, I have found Toufic's concept of the "surpassing disaster" a useful and compelling way to think about cultural catastrophe. Here's a link where you can download the book in PDF:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Redistribution at EAI / Tan Lin on "Freelance Stenographer"

Here's an ad for Seth Price's video lecture, Redistribution, now at EAI Video Project Space (more info below), plus a link to a piece Tan Lin wrote for Artforum on the Redistribution project via Price's 2007 performance with others at the Kitchen, "Freelance Stenographer."


July 9 - August 8, 2009
Wednesday - Saturday, 11 am - 6 pm

EAI Video Project Space
X Initiative
548 West 22nd Street, Ground Floor
New York, NY 10011

Opens Thursday, July 9, 2009, 6-9 pm

Admission free

EAI is pleased to feature the latest iteration of Seth Price's new video, Redistribution, at the EAI Video Project Space at X.

Redistribution, begun in 2007 and conceived as a never-finished, constantly updated work, takes up a Guggenheim 'artist's talk' delivered by Price only to pull it apart, reassemble it and graft new material to it, resulting in an open-form hybrid. Equal parts lecture, performance, and essay-film in the caméra-stylo tradition, the work oscillates between fiction and non-fiction, information and entertainment: an exposition as well as an artwork in its own right. Originally made for presentation within the context of Price's art exhibitions, EAI presents the 45-minute video by itself, without Price's artwork around it.

In a conceptual, multi-disciplinary art practice that includes video, sculpture, sound, and written texts, Price engages in strategies of appropriation, recirculation and packaging to consider issues of cultural production, the distribution of information, and the role of ideology. Shifting and manipulating the detritus of commodity culture, his projects have included early sampler-based academic music, anonymous Internet-circulated video, and art historical imagery. Investigating the cultures generated and re-circulated by mass media technologies and information systems, Price ultimately questions the production and dissemination of art and meaning itself.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"I have visited her eyes"

I have been trying to write on Bhanu Kapil's poetics since the winter now, and am currently making another go at it for the upcoming issue of ON. Frequenting her blog lately, I came across this beautiful passage last night, from an April 16th, 2009 post entitled "Rain":

"I loved being in a transpersonal classroom. As if that wasn't enough, the next speaker was Elizabeth Lonzano, a Colombian scholar specializing in global feminism and strategies of non-violence. Setting up her power point presentation, she put on some music and said: "This music just wants to make me burst out dancing. I don't know if I'm going to be able to help myself from bursting." It is hard to explain how alive this person was. Who then spoke on her work as an international witness in the peace community of St. Jose de Apartado, where the people who live there resist, through non-violent means, the "killing, rekilling, and superkilling" that have dominated life in their country since the massacres of the 1940s.

Territory/terror: "It's not just that we're going to kill you, we're going to tell you we're going to kill you first. Then, we're going to cut your body into little pieces, because we know that your body is sacred to you, that it represents the earth, and your relationship to the earth, who is like a mother to you." These were Elizabeth's expressions, describing what it's like there every day, the domination of corporate paramilitary and military alliances, and how an act of resistance might look like this: if someone is killed, beheaded, their body chopped up with a machete, the entire village "goes into the jungle, looking for the pieces of the body, and then they bring them back. It's a celebration, it's saying, this blood is life, it's spilled into the earth, and now we've gathered the body and we'll bury it rejoicing that from this life is going to come so much growth." A "symbolic burial." Integrated power versus the power that comes from threat, in peace studies discourse. She described a man who met a paramilitary soldier in the jungle, on a small path, and when the soldier began to tell him, I'm going to kill you, this is what is about to happen to you, I'm going to cut your arm off and then...the man said: "It is not in your power to kill me. You can kill me, but the order is not coming from you. It's coming from God. God has given that order. I follow God's orders, and so do you."

Tell me what you know about dismemberment. As Elizabeth was speaking, speaking about body, jungle/ground and divine feminine as linked by the cellular matter of blood, the blood a kind of milk, I thought of the goddess Parvati, killed by her father and left on the ground. Shiva, her lover, found her and slung her body around his neck. He sat in kind of ruined trance for a long time until one day, unable to tolerate the pain of having lost her any longer, he stood up and flung the pieces of her body to each direction. So that, in modern India, to recreate the body of the goddess, to make that body whole again and to integrate it (through the physical effort of pilgrimage, through meditation, through opening yourself to the vibration of place) with yours, you go, in a lifetime, to all the places -- in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet -- where the parts of her fell. Vulture Peak is where her ear is, I think. In Kolkata: her eye. Her big toe. And so on. I have visited her eyes, her ears, her tongue and her heart. My blood ties flood me, sometimes, and I want to go to where her stomach is, and her nose.

Elizabeth: "Do me a favor. Don't drink Coca Cola ever again. Don't eat Chiquita bananas. Whatever you do, don't eat a Chiquita banana. If you want to support peace and non-violence in Colombia, don't drink that coke.""
--Bhanu Kapil

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Conference of the Birds podcast

Check out Stephen Cope's cool podcast here, Conference of the Birds. The generic range and cross-pollination of the podcast is pretty incredible as you can probably tell from the playlist below:

Playlist, Conference of the Birds, 6-23-09 (pre podcast)
Host: Stephen Cope

Key: Artist/ Title/ Album/ Label Location: Label, Date.


Set One:

Pierre Akendengue/ Salut Aux Combattants De La Liberte/Akendengue - Reveil De L'Afrique/
Gabon/France: NTYE/Melodie, 1995.

Jacques Coursil /Frantz Fanon 1952/Clameurs/ USA: Sunnyside, 2007.

Matébis/ Acid/Matébis/ France: Iris Musique, 1999.

Set Two:

Neville Marcano/ Yaraba Shang/ Shango, Shouter & Obeah: Supernatural Calypso from Trinidad
1934-1940/ USA: Rounder, 2001.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou/ Nouèssénamè/ Volume ONE "The Vodoun Effect" - Funk
And Sato From Benin's Obscure Labels 1972-1975/ Germany: Analog Africa, 2008.

Balla Et Ses Balladins /Bi Diamana Moo/ The Syliphone Years: 1968-1972/UK/Brazil: Stern's
Africa, 2008.

Les Amazones de Guinée/ Alhamdoulilah/ "Wamato"/ UK/Brazil: Stern's Africa, 2008.

Kwabena Nyama / Okunin Nusu/ Ghana: Musique Vin de Palme/ France: Buda Musique, 2000.

F. Kenya's Guitar Band / Madame Zehae Ala (Just As I Am)/ Electric Highlife: Sessions From The
Bokoor Studios/ Canada/USA: HNH International/ Naxos , 2002.

William Parker/ El Puenteseco/ Long Hidden: The Olmec Series/ USA: Aum Fidelity, 2006.

Myra Melford; Be Bread/ Be Bread/ The Image of Your Body/ USA: Cryptogramophone, 2006.


Set Three:

Craig Harris & the Nation of Imagination/ Dreamtime/ Istanbul/ Turkey: Doublemoon, 1998.

Orchestra Di Piazza Vittorio / Ya Baba Maragia/ Orchestra Di Piazza Vittorio/ Germany: Ausfahrt
MV Gmbh, 2006.

Fawzy Al-Aiedy / Layali/ Le Paris Bagdad/ France: Buda Musique, 1998.

Malouma / Lemra/ Nour/ France: Marabi, 2007.

Youssou N'Dour / Baay Niasse/ Egypt/ USA: Nonesuch, 2004.

Set Four:

Bahauddin Qutbuddin Qawwal & Party/ Khyal Ang Qawwali/ Troubadours Of Allah-Sufi Music
from the Indus Valley/ Germany: Wergo, 1999.

Abdel Hadi Halo & The El Gusto Orchestra Of Algiers / Win Saadi/ Abdel Hadi Halo & The El
Gusto Orchestra Of Algiers/ England: Honest Jon's, 2007.

Dahmane El Harrachi/ Elli Mab'gha Yebghini/ Chaabi: Volume 5/ France: Club du Disque Arabe,


Set Five:

Billy Bang / Ly Ngua O/ Vietnam: reflections/ Canada: Justin Time, 2005.

I Wayan Sadra/ Stay a Maverick / Mana 689: New Music from Indonesia Volume 2: Central Java/
USA: Lyrichord, 1993.

Euis Komariah & Jugala Orchestra/ Bardin/ Jaipongan Java/ Indonesia/UK: Jugala/Globestyle,

Steve Coleman and Five Elements/ Li Bai, Astrology II, Triad Mutations I/ Weaving Symbolics/
France: Label Bleu, 2006.

Set Six:

Kang Jongsuk & Chang Dokhwa/ Pansori "Simch'ong-Ga" / Traditional Korean Music: Sanjo And
Vocal Music/ Japan: King Record Co., 1995.

Putra Sasak Asli (Cilokaq Modera Pusaka Group)/ Idik Gamak Inak/ Cilokaq Music Of Lombok/
Japan: King Record Co., 1994.

Francis Wong / Autumn Moon Reflected On The Peaceful Lake/ Great Wall/ USA: Asian Improv,

Equal Interest/ Rondo For Jenny / Equal Interest/ USA: OmniTone, 1999.

End of Playlist

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Peace On A at PennSound

Some recordings of Peace on A events are now up at PennSound. These include Dan Featherston, Eleni Stecopoulos, Dorothea Lasky, Kevin Varrone, and a big group reading for O Books' War and Peace vol. 3, "The Future," which includes CAConrad, Michael Cross, Paolo Javier, Brenda Iijima, Rodrigo Toscano, Bruce Andrews, Evelyn Reilly, Susan Landers, and myself. Thanks again to Michael Hennessey and interns for their invaluable effort!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

from Externalities

Chemicals syllogistics
We recrudesce around

Any place but here
In the air they call there

When they breathe it in
Their lungs then it becomes

Something more than shared
A private public the more

We bear this logistics out
The more clear it becomes

No one is safe from not
Having the most inter-

Connected view possible
Of when we contract.

Going Places (Doing Stuff) at Flux Factory

Flux Factory Presents:

Going Places (Doing Stuff) Part II, "Best Summer Ever" Edition

Sign up now for the first three tours! Seating is limited. Email with your name, phone number, and the tour you are interested in.

July 11
Yoni Brook and Liz Barry, "Unheard of"

July 18
Jason Eppink and Matt Green, "Quest for Immortality"

July 25
Moses Gates, "To the Rising Sun"

You get on a bus, you don’t know where you’re going, and then something happens!

Following the success of last summer’s acclaimed “Going Places (Doing Stuff),” Flux Factory will outdo itself and offer even more amazing artist-led tours to the general public. Think of it as "adventure as performance art." The content of the tours is entirely up to the artist, and destinations are kept secret. Artists will have "carte blanche" to lead a bus-full of people on an odyssey around the greater New York/Tri-State area.

This year our tours will be on board a school bus propelled by vegetable oil provided by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

Before each tour, we provide only the following information: the artists' name, title of adventure, duration, and a list of needed supplies. In other words, when people sign up for a tour, they know what to bring and how long they’ll be gone, but will have no idea where they’re going or what they’ll experience. Last year's adventures included upstate swimming holes, a trip to a burning city known as "hell on earth," a gastronomic tour through NYC, and a chase after an imaginary character.

There is always mystery in traveling, even if you know where you are headed. Going Places (Doing Stuff) is all about this mystery, asking members of the public to give themselves over to our artists. The excitement of simply stepping on a bus to who-knows-where becomes a metaphor a nd catalyst for the leap of faith inherent to aesthetic experience in general.

Things that may or may not occur:

-Partial or total immersion in various bodies of water
-Impromptu back-of-the-bus dance parties
-Mesmerizing encounters with astonishing and unexpected fleeting beauty that will vanish before you can grasp it, leaving you with indescribable feelings of Baudelairian melancholy and enlightenment
-Miscellaneous imbibitions
-Life-affirming encounters with extraordinary individuals and their extraordinary pursuits
-Breaking of world records
-And much more!

All tours will be first-come, first-serve with a suggested donation.

Curated by Jean Barberis.

Participating Artists:
Yoni Brook and Liz Barry, Jason Eppink and Matt Green, Moses Gates, Siobhan Rigg and Carolyn Lambert, Douglas Paulson, Justin Rancourt and Chuck Yatsuk, Jeff Stark, and David Felix Sutcliffe.

Dates an d contents of tours are subject to change.

For documentation of past tours please visit:

State of Exception Checklist

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
5. Harass citizens' groups.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
7. Target key individuals.
8. Control the press.
9. Treat all political dissidents as traitors.
10. Suspend the rule of law.*

*from Naomi Wolf's The End of America

For Simone and Etel

What if Charles Olson
Had gotten that Fulbright
To travel to Iraq would
We be sitting here right

Now before a revolution
After a war would the sun
Be late in the afternoon
Like some angel of no

One’s culture wishing
Things were different
This world we can see
Everyday with our eyes

Not a subtle one just the
Familiar stench of wealth
In Manhattan's Upper
West Side in contrast

It is so subtle to be
With you in conversation
Admire the bright ivy
Covering the back

Edifice of your apart-
ment building the Persian
Rugs and the books
Missing from your

Bookcases as if you
Were barely moved in
More likely in transit
The simplicity of

Your kitchen the fruit
On your table cherries
And red grapes a warm
Aesthetic of Sufism.

“Such distances are short”
--Etel Adnan

Like the progress one makes
From sign-to-sign site-to-site
Since now we must be earth-bound

We can imagine other ages
Aeons when this isn’t so when
There is here where I is you

And this horizon is continually
Thin always waking smelling sweet
Becoming smells sweeter being

With you there is recourse to
Sensuality a kind of thinking or
Nonsense because the sun says so.