‘Latency’ in Word

The act of writing depends on an immediacy of brain to fingers on keyboard to screen (of brain to fingers on pen to paper). I need to see immediately on screen what my fingers are doing to the keyboard.

That is why I always use a simple editors. TextEdit, Writeroom, BBEdit – oh even WordPress – are functioning fine.

But Word and OpenOffice on a Mac drive me crazy. They are great programs for many reasons (the track changes for instance), but I do not understand how anybody who writes can really work with them. In any case, I cannot deal with the latency between my fingerstrokes and what is shown on screen. It is way to slow. My fingers make corrections while typing based on what I see happening on screen. Why have I never read (or heard) anybody complaining about this? (I imagine the problem does not exist with Word on Windows).

Yes, it is often just a question of a quarter second, but that’s way too much.

I mean – uh – I’m just amazed how such fundamental ‘faults’ are just taken for granted. Believe me Word 4 on a MacSE from 1990 did NOT have this problem. (Same thing with the shiny screen on modern laptops which under most light situations are utterly horrible on the eyes).

en,software,writing | January 17, 2010 | 16:32 | comments (0) |

Raymond Federman (1928 – 2009)

Last week Raymond Federman died. I should write an obituary here, but I do not know where to start.

Federman has been very important to me, though I only met him once, in October 1992 when he was in Berlin for the theatrical production of The Voice in the Closet / La voix dans le cabinet de débarras and I took the train there, not having arranged anything. I was 25, I had graduated in Literary Theory at the University of Amsterdam with a thesis on, yes, Raymond Federman’s The Voice in the Closet and postmodernist theory (mostly theory of postmodernist American literature: Brian McHale, Ihab Hassan, Jonathan Culler, and Lyotard too).

This is 17 years ago. I cannot understand this is so long ago. I cannot understand that this was in a time when I did not have e-mail, before WWW, before gopher even. I was reading books, typed on my just acquired 2nd-hand Mac SE and wrote long letters to a friend living in Japan. I did not have a racing bike.

It was Eric Vos who had put the text by Federman on the reading list for a seminar on postmodernist fiction in 1989. It was taken from an anthology, and I had become quite interested in this text, 20 pages of perfectly justified blocks of text (actually each line containing if I remember correctly 68 spaces – using a monospaced letter the text would still be perfectly justified). No punctuation, a voice that seemed to go on and on at full speed, with references to jazz and to Beckett. I read it, tried to crack it, understand it. I wrote a paper on it, the paper led to a thesis, and the thesis eventually led to a proposal for a PhD. (I did get the job as a PhD-student, yet never finished the PhD-thesis: the WWW happened).

I was in my early twenties and had basically never done anything else than reading literature and studying. I loved it. I had started to make translations, just for myself, and had also tried my hand at translating The Voice in the Closet – I was that fascinated. I was working at Perdu (a bookshop/small publisher, organizing literary events, run by volunteers), and at some point the publishers there (I think it was Jan Oegema) must’ve asked me to finish that translation, as they were interested to publish it. I did.

Until that moment I’d never tried to get into contact with Federman himself. Literature being for me predominantly a world of books, the thought of writing to him to discuss translation issues hadn’t simply come up in my mind. Hey, I was just starting out! I did know some other people at Perdu who were trying their hand at translation, but they were translating dead writers, no use to try and consult them… So I tried to find out where to contact Federman (this was before the internet, remember), and got a fax-number. We send a fax from Perdu, asking for permission to publish a translation. Somewhere deep into the night a fax started to rattle in the USA and a 61 year old writer was astonished to learn that a small publisher in Amsterdam was willing to publish a Dutch translation of his 1979 book made by a young translator.

He must’ve told me that he was in Berlin that autumn, so I travelled there by train. I even forgot to bring the translation which was anyhow finished. Checked into a youth hostel, found out that the telephone numbers I was given were not correct, and well, what could I do: went to the theatre where the play based on the Voice in the Closet was to be performed that night, to buy a ticket. And there I luckily ran into people who were with Federman: I was introduced to him. I think we had dinner together, and drinks after the play, he was a sweet man, and full of energy, full of energy at every moment. I was at ease, we talked about his books, and a lot about jazz, about listening to jazz while writing, about improvisation, the rhythm of jazz and how it punctuates the day, and about The Voice in the Closet and he specifically urged me to be free with the translation, to feel free to turn it into flowing Dutch. I do not know if I managed to do that (I’m afraid to look at the translation again, afraid to find many many errors), but the advice has stuck into my mind. For me this has been a very important piece of advice, coming from Federman.

(In the end I stayed with a small publisher in Berlin, in a house where also a free jazz bass-player was living whose name I now forget and who made a delicious potato-soup from almost nothing. One of the following nights I went to see Motoharu Yoshizawa (sp?) and Merzbow, one of the best concerts I’ve ever witnessed.)

But I should write about Federman.

In december 1992 my translation of The Voice in the Closet was published by Perdu, in a trilingual edition. It sold out really quickly as it was put on the reading list of a seminar at Literary Theory – of course the print run was small, I think it was 300. It was presented on an evening at Perdu, at which also Graa Boomsma – who had interviewed Federman a few years earlier (but that interview never made it into his book on contemporary American literature) – spoke. It was on that evening that he gave me the tip that I should read William T. Vollmann.

I did translate more afterwards, a few stories by Vollmann, Mark Leyner, and by Jacques Servin – published in mostly small literary magazines. But I never became a translator of literature. Yet I still enourmously enjoy the translating trade and occasionally I do translations jobs, mostly texts about contemporary art and new media art.

Apart from the occasional e-mail I was never again in contact with Federman, who, true to his character discovered the internet rather early as a place to write and make his voices speak. The last years he was very active on his blog and his myspace-page – hey, the guy was over 80! and still sounded as if he had all the energy of a young man to spent.

I should write about Federman as a writer. His books. His bilingual voice. The Fiction Collective. His laughing. The surficition, the critifiction, the poems, the joy of language, the playgiarism –


en,reading matter,writing | October 16, 2009 | 16:09 | comments (0) |

De Paladijnen @ Perdu

Ah, and next week friday 16th, I will interview Han van der Vegt about his performance of De Paladijnen, at Perdu, Amsterdam: http://www.perdu.nl/agenda.cfm.

Start copypaste:

De Paladijnen
Han van der Vegt en Sasker Scheerder
interview: Arie Altena

Aanvang: 20.30
Zaal open: 20.00

Na een niet nader omschreven Apocalyps, waarvan sporen in het landschap overal getuigen, is de mensheid onderverdeeld in twee groepen: de berijders van zogenaamde monsters, de erfgenamen van de huidige terreinwagens, die met nanotechniek volledig zelfvoorzienend zijn geworden, en schimmen, mensen die in de open lucht leven en zich langzamerhand aanpassen aan de nieuwe leefomstandigheden.

In Han van der Vegts epische sciencefictiongedicht De Paladijnen – geschreven in dactylische hexameters, de aloude heroïsche versvoet – volgen we de bemanning van een van de monsters. Ze verheerlijken een verleden waaraan ze geen herinnering hebben en een traditie die zelfs mondeling nauwelijks wordt overgedragen. Die traditie vertoont opmerkelijke parallellen met de graallegende. Zo zijn de oorspronkelijke bestuurders van de monsters (hun levens zijn inmiddels stilgelegd) paladijnen van een doodzieke koning. Zo zijn de monsters op zoek naar een graal. Hun navigatiesysteem, dat waarschijnlijk nog van voor de Apocalyps dateert, wijst hen zo goed en zo kwaad als dat gaat de weg.

Samen met geluidskunstenaar Sasker Scheerder heeft Han van der Vegt een voorstelling gemaakt in beeld, geluid en voordracht, waarin dit middeleeuwse sciencefictionepos tot leven komt. Samen brengen ze De Paladijnen vanavond integraal. Na de voorstelling schuiven Van Der Vegt en Scheerder aan bij Arie Altena voor een gesprek.

End copypaste.

art,en,free publicity,nl,ubiscribe,writing | October 8, 2009 | 13:05 | comments (0) |

Lunar Distance

This summer I wrote a short piece on Finnegans Wake and Vico for the catalogue of the exhibition Lunar Distance at De Hallen in Haarlem. It’s available now, and I am very happy with the publication — I like it a lot, it’s very beautifully designed. (And btw, the exhibtion is worth while visiting too, runs till 29th November): http://www.lunardistance.nl/.

art,en,free publicity,reading matter,writing | October 8, 2009 | 12:01 | comments (0) |

Vollmann: Imperial

So, however flawed Vollmann’s Imperial might be judging by 20th century (sic! Twentieth Century) Standards of Literature, and I personally have a hard time keeping my mind focussed reading Vollmann on Water Politics, … I, currently on p. 1011, wholeheartedly agree with Thomas McGonigle’s ‘rant’ (is it a rant, no, not really): http://abcofreading.blogspot.com/2009/09/into-america-on-not-reading-of-imperial.html.

en,reading matter,writing | September 10, 2009 | 12:17 | comments (0) |

HUO interview with Raoul Vaneigem

I missed this earlier: HUO interviews Raoul Vaneigem: http://e-flux.com/journal/view/62.

art,en,reading matter,writing | September 7, 2009 | 17:36 | comments (0) |

Vertaalbaarheid / translatability

Blog on translation / weblog over vertalen. Good stuff / goed spul. http://www.tirade.nu/.

blogging,en,nl,writing | July 9, 2009 | 13:35 | comments (0) |


I have been hoping to write this post since about May 2006. I could have written it since last friday. On that day I finally finished the job of updating my xs4all-site, the place where I archive (well…) the texts I’ve written and (mostly) published. Old skool html, unchanged url’s since the very first day (1997, but when?) (The only major changes in all those years have been the adding of a bit of css and a bit of cleaning up).

Don’t expect fancy design, don’t expect proper editorial and/or typographic quality (as often I do not have a digital copy of the text as it is actually printed), don’t expect that these texts are exactly identical to what’s printed! It’s just as good as it gets. I mean: I did not reread those more than 50+ texts that I uploaded. But at least it’s available now. (A-and, I have some sort of an overview of what I did…).

A-and no: I am not going to scan that lot to make pdfs available. But if you feel like doing that: go ahead, and please send me a copy too…

Ah… update (a few minutes later): I checked the wayback-machine, the first entry for my site is the 2nd of december 1998 and I see that at that time the site actually had a bit of design. So a major change was that I got rid of some characteristic 90s-html-design. The page in on archive.org states that it was last changed on the 14th of October 1997. A-and, shame to me, I apparently did change file-names at some point. What is now schmidt.html was as1.html. Ah, there goes my story of having ‘persistent’ urls for over 12 years.

O, I’m talking about this site: http://www.xs4all.nl/~ariealt.

Update (one day later): ah, there was one error, and strict browsers did not like to read my html. Corrected now. But do not expect that my html validates 100%.

blogging,writing | June 11, 2009 | 17:00 | comments (0) |

On internet & time

My last 4 “tweets”:

ariealt going thru my rss-feeds, seeing i havent looked at most of them since november 16th (2008), excepting those of friends &c. less than 5 seconds ago from web

ariealt the website that’s not updated since january 2006! less than 5 seconds ago from web

ariealt first a second big coffee. hmm twitter-spam. have to finish listing my publications of 2008, then update the website less than 5 seconds ago from web

ariealt home (after a’dam-r’dam-enschede-almelo-r’dam-a’dam for an evening on digital poetry in enschede), dishes done, back to work or cycling? 8 minutes ago from web

Yeah, I know, plugins do exist to stream twitter-updates straight to wordpress. I won’t use it, I guess

blogging,en,research,ubiscribe,writing | January 28, 2009 | 13:39 | comments (0) |

Literair overleven / literary survival

Working hard to finish a 1000-words reaction on Literair overleven, Dirk van Weeldens plea for ‘aanvallende literatuur’: http://www.augustus.nl/. (Literally ‘offensive literature, but that has a strange connotation that the Dutch ‘aanvallende literatuur’ doesn’t have — what is meant is a progressive, playful, enthousiastic literature, a literature that freely and happily takes up the challenges of this world).

I thought I’d already missed the deadline. So I’m happy it was not too late. As usual my text was still 2500 words long at 21.30. With pain in my heart I just deleted 2 paragraphs in which I mentioned Open API’s and open standards. Down to 1275.

« Previous PageNext Page »
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. | Arie Altena