That's the late Terrence Des Pres, once my teacher, intermittently my mentor, brilliant and complex and probably tragic. When I teach my Holocaust course, it's largely based on his - which was, so far as we know, the first literature course on the Holocaust ever taught at a college or university (this was the mid-1970s). Terrence wrote an op-ed Times piece about the second running of this course: find it here. Of course my students read his brilliant (but, in the end, probably wrong) book The Survivor.
Terrence Des Pres was nearly the first person whose photograph I thought of to add to "Al's pantheon," an album in my new Picasa picture site. As of this writing, the others in the pantheon are my father, Bud Cox, Bob Lucid, Halbe Brown, Dave King, and John Giannotti.
Below you see a tag cloud generated by TagCrowd.com. TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud or text cloud. I created a tag clowd by using as sourcetext the typescript of the first chapter of my new book. I've set it here to create an image of words based on frequency of use, asking it to choose only the top 50. I don't know where "oj" and such "words" came from, but "ltr" I know is the abbreviation for "letter" (as in an archival letter) used in the footnotes. And "Mac" is the first half of the surname "Mac Low" which the machine reads as a separate term because of the space. Thank goodness I've used "poetry" more often than "communist"!
"TagCrowd is being used far beyond the online realm: as topic summaries for speeches and written works; as visual summaries for survey data mining; as name tags for conferences, cocktail parties or wherever new collaborations start; as resumes in a single glance; as visual poetry."
Visual poetry. That I can see.
Okay, then. Now I'm creating a tag cloud without the frequency numbers from the text of a magazine article about Gertrude Stein, a review by Philip Hensher of Janet Malcolm's new book about Gertrude and Alice. Here goes:
Finally let's try a poem itself as the sourcetext. I use William Carlos Williams's "The Rose Is Obsolete" from Spring and All and here is the result:
The original poem is here.
A transcript of Gil Ott's interview with Jackson Mac Low, done in 1979, has been made available by the PhillySound blog folks. Mac Low talks about a particular development of his procedure that dates to early 1961. What does George Washington's camel have to do with anything? Well, go here please and find out.
Above: sketch by Mimi Gross that is part of a series linked to EPC.
CAConrad and his colleagues at PhillySound worked hard to reproduce the transcript of a 1979 interview Gil Ott conducted with Jackson Mac Low, and it (part? or whole?) has been added to the PhillySound blog.
Harold Bloom was "madly in love" with the poems of Wallace Stevens from the time he was an undergraduate at Cornell University. He traveled from Ithaca to New Haven in 1949 and found his way somehow into the reading Stevens was giving that night for the members of a New Haven (not Yale-affiliated) humanities group. That night Stevens would read a short version of what became "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven." Norman Holmes Pearson, the legendary Yale English professor (and conduit between Yale and the OSS/CIA), saw the lonely-looking young Bloom and took him under wing, at least long enough to encourage the young man to approach the great poet, which Bloom did.
I don't how many times Bloom has told the story of his one encounter with the beloved poet, but a few years ago it was recorded as Bloom taught an undergraduate class at Yale, devoting all hour and twenty minutes of his lecture to a discussion of one poem, "The Poems of Our Climate" of 1938. Today, as I did household chores, brought in the houseplants from the back deck, made my lunch, etc., I listened to the entire lecture, hilariously and brilliantly digressive (at several points Bloom admits to being insane and that the main issuance of his madness is an addiction to never approaching the finality of any point). I then edited the recording and here is the 5-minute segment in which Bloom tells the story of meeting Stevens in 1949.
The title of Bloom's book about Stevens is indeed taken from the poem he taught the day the Yale podcast people made their recording: "The Poems of Our Climate." In that book, not surprisingly, he discusses "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven," and here are a few pages.