April 5th, 2012 / 10:09 am
Craft Notes


Jean would feel obliged if the editor would tell her if lawn billiards can be played on a croquet lawn?

Is there a book of rules on lawn billiards?”






Lawn, a piece of land, a delineated piece of land, specifically referring to grass, specifically grass in a residential setting, each individual house with it’s own lawn, each lawn the responsibility of the owner or occupier of the house.

A piece of land separated from other similar pieces of land by intangible lines, ‘property lines’, ‘county lines’, ‘state lines’ or by tangible lines: buildings, sidewalks, roads, curbs, fields…

Lawn as status. The white house lawn. What does it mean to plant a garden in the white house lawn? Food not lawns? A lawn of significant stature requires professional lawn maintenance. American construct? Probably not. French & English certainly had palace lawns. The perception of the home property as a small sovereignty. Libertarianism.

Apartments without a lawn, creation of artificial enclosed ‘natural’. Roof top gardens, planters, potted plants.


Keeping of a lawn – grooming, as in grooming a pet, an animal, another domesticated “natural” a non human being coopted life form a pet generally requires a lawn, or another artificial space defined. Hard definition: walls, cages, also see the attraction of invisible barriers or psychological barriers “invisible fence” cameras, security / surveillance, panopticon, maybe doesn’t apply to pets but Stay Off The Lawn! Zoos. Strange transitional spaces between highways, or in the crook of an on-ramp. Vaguely maintained. Yards disrupt nature. Yard on a farm or other dwelling in a non-urban space is what is ‘kept’ or groomed while the rest is land.


I mowed lawns as a teenager. 12 13 14 15 maybe earlier, a lot of lawns maybe a dozen a week, big lawns. I had a push mower for a while and then a mower that I could ride but still had to use the push mower and also the weed whacker. A lot of gas engines. The house & trailer next door. The little grove of trees in the yard next to the old house. White house with the collapsing floors where I found my cat (pet!) dead. I kept that lawn groomed. The grove as I think of it was sort of half moon dense with trees and bushes with one very old oak maybe that had blown half over and grew at an angle because of a storm.


Stand in the lawn and watch storms form


That lawn was across from the high school football field

Behind the field was the lagoon, full of sewage.


Lawns are explicitly artificial for these reasons: homogeneity: beings don’t exist outside of a system. Boundaries: explicitly and implicitly limited space. Maintenance: requires external and intentional efforts to persist in current state.


Lawns, generally grasses, low growth and greenness preferred. Isolated trees, (not messy) occasionally small rocks, or woodchips as filler. Gravel. To keep weeds from growing (homogeneity). Things on lawns furniture. Toys. Animals. Cooking appliances like grills. Hoses sprinklers (maintenance). Ornaments or decoration.


Property lines are mostly considered when in dispute.

Whether or not to cross the line or build something or build a fence or a wall (boundaries) though one may have a lawn and not possess property. Maintenance falls to the current resident.


At an impasse between the lawns




The low things with the spear leaves radiating out. Grasses

Immature bushes and tree sproutlings



I have no desire to intervene in the lawn

But perhaps to remove trash, other things that won’t break down


In Logan Square the house is in the middle of the block. The sidewalk intersects the other two sidewalks that belong to the house forming an H one of the legs extends only a step to the stairs to the front door and leads to the street in the opposite direction the other leads from the street all the way to the ally behind the garage. (Though shoddy and decaying gates stand in the way) between the two uprights of the H (seen from the stoop) there is a crab apple tree.


These crabapples mostly fell off during the summer storms. Hail along with the tree that stands in this box formed by the street and the sidewalks there are many seedlings put out by the tree. Low grasses (though my practices of not doing anything has discouraged the growth of the grass)


Most of the yard in the front is taken over by these low flowering things: leafy arrow? Paddle shaped leaves with clustered pink buds with sturdy but not stiff not quite woody stem / stalk — they stay lower than ~20cm can’t help but like them here. Flowers. Smooth dark green leaves darker reddish stalk


These are accompanied or replaced by some creeping plants esp. closer to the house a similar plant that likewise stays low. And spreads but has leaves that are slightly fuzzy and flowers that resemble tiny daisies yellow w/ white whereas in the flower above the leaves go


Are these “weeds”?


Perhaps the bush by the door is woodbine.

Researching bearberry, partridgeberry virgin bower, fox grape, joe-pye weed


A list of perennial ferns native to illinois:


Maidenhair Fern

Lady Fern

Hay-scented Fern

Spinulose Wood Fern

Marginal Wood Fern

Ostrich Fern

Sensitive Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Interrupted Fern

Royal Fern

Long Beech Fern

Christmas Fern


Other front yard observations:

On the left side of the house is a mature evergreen ~10-12 meters tall small cones that grow high on the tree branches that start around ~3 meters from the ground small needles that cover the walk and brown this tree sits in a small bed and around its base are several intentionally planted flowering plants, lilies that are sort of withered and sad looking asterisks now. The needles from the evergreen cover the ground. The lilies have spear shaped leaves that radiate from a central point, an asterisk. I think they are daylilies if I remember summer correctly or the other ones that look similar, but have a more broad leaf that is supported by a spindly stalk might be


Radiant v decentralized plants


Much of the yard is strewn (not littered) with yellowing maple leaves with their delicate formation — this tree is tall and has dead branches at the top. It shoots branches out of its trunk at an astonishing rate though I have tried to prune it. It has a broad thick branch that stretches out over the street and the trunk is much thicker than the evergreen it faces. It has obviously been shaped to avoid the houses on either side — something about this shape of history I feel an immediate respect for — one of the reasons I rented this house — perhaps some kind of regional childhood affinity for or fondness — a kind of comfort, hominess,

The desire to be among trees

All of the trees show a kind of manipulation, or a condition of being effected of interacting to an environment not only in their placement but in their bodies as well they are only allowed to grow in a particular way, but grow


Next to the porch is a bush, small droplet shaped leaves that are turning red, maybe this is woodbine


More flowers, the sunflowers I planted never grew.




Fine savannahs a kind of natural lawn and some of them as

Beautiful as those made by art


A bacterial layer uniformly distributed over a culture


Lawn v land as defined by texture — smooth v. Striated (a thousand plateaus)


Defined by grazing. A plain v a field (a plane?)

Common lawns for grazing grazing animals as

The first mowers — the contemporary lawn lacking

This kind of utility — savannah as lawn like grazed

Flat the interaction of animals — the digestion of grasses

And the fertilizer (scatological lawn v lawn eschatological)




Now the shit is undesirable (curb your dog) the aesthetic

Of the lawn is derived from the ownership of healthy grazing herd

The lawn is dislocated signifier of wealth — not even a first level signifier,

But at the level of symbol — the lawn signifies prosperity in a circuitous way

See body politics, fitness / thinness signifies prosperity in some worlds: an artificial aesthetic,

Reaction against excessive consumption??


The city environs as the artificial aesthetic; aesthetics of simulation and simulacra


Near the square

A miniature kingdom w the fountain and aesthetic pond (w pump and plastic sheet bed so that the water is recycled and never enters the soil) contained within a gate

This aestheticization thrusts towards utopianism — the exclusion of any undesirable elements being the most important aspect of utopia — and the creation of the artificial aesthetic (lacking utility) (is this correct? “Artificial” seems wrong, but I think in my usage it means distinctly and specifically the recreation of a simulation of an aesthetic experience that pre-exists the observer and existed before the aesthete’s intention? What is artificial? Made through art)


I’ve never lived in or in a house that had a fence before?

The closest thing I’ve had is a hedgerow


Artificiality of the pond, the import of the not only maintained but created and maintained space, the energy used to create and maintain something that does not belong — like a person in space in a space suit; the space suit is a very small oikos — lawn is object over event, the aesthetic over the thing itself or the process, the desire to remain static, the conception, perception of the necessity of maintenance towards utopia is expressly capitalist???? (The maintenance & growth of value through maintenance, while maintenance consumes more resources than it produces; the aesthetic lawn is not only a place to dump excess resources, these excesses, while improving property value in the short term have a detrimental effect on local ecology. WHICH MAKES LAND MORE SCARCE, INCREASES DEMAND FOR MAINTENANCE PRODUCT, FURTHER AESTHETICIZES THE INCREASINGLY SCARCE GREENSPACE ETC. ETC.)


I’m not sure I completely understand Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of smoothness and striation


Patchwork quilt = smooth

Woven cloth = striated


Lawn = striated

Field = smooth


The pre is between the two and that is probably one of the reasons that it is interesting.


The cutting of the lawn creates a false smoothness; desirable traits of a lawn are uniformity, a kind of lushness or health, an control I think

Healthy green grass with no brush or debris; carpetlike. Sod is brought in often in lawns of particular priority or opulence like golf courses

Where is sod grown and how does it grow like that? In these kinds of lawns often grass itself is not good enough or is simulated such that it has nothing to with the grass anymore, except in appearance, astroturf. The smoothness conveys control and mastery over the natural, the plants are kept at a specified length, but thrive under this control, or so is the desired effect? The lush carpetlike layer of foliage must happilyserve the will of the owner hence pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, manicures. The illusion is that the subservient beings that make up the lawn are happily thriving in a sustainable community under the control of a benevolent master, while undesirable beings are expelled and killed; in this way the lawn itself reifies a utopian fascism???


  1. Helen

      Sensual theory. Love this. 
      I like to find/photograph abandoned houses sometimes so wonder what you’d make of the ruin-porn lawn, the kind that creeps into pathways and seeds above windows and in eaves. 

      I lived with a lawn that was more a field when young (neighbours sheep and cows would sometimes come and eat it) and then with suburban lawn that was fenced of but always seemed to be sprawling into the cracks in the patio and growing high and weeding in the corners, preventing definition between the borders. Wondering how this has affected my sense of meaning of borders/thresholds in writing and reading.

      Basically I’d like to print your piece out to study later. In bigger font because this is tiny and makes my eyes burn.

  2. Merzmensch

      Wonderful! Actually a lawn is a construct, it’s a semi-artificial simulacrum of nature, at the same time surpressed and admirated by human beeing. Do people love wilderness? Does wilderness love people?

  3. Leif Haven

      the concept of ruin-porn is great / weird. I think ponge is interested in that possibility in the making of the pre, as the pre, which can be translated as meadow basically, is a kind of liminal ruin space between development / commercialization / agriculture and some other thing that we might think of as “natural” The pre, to continue to be, must be maintained, so that it attains neither “wildness” nor “domesticity”. I think, I would respond w/r/t lawns by saying: when the lawn takes over, it is because it has ceased to be a lawn. the lawn is constructed such that it requires maintenance, and if that maintenance is neglected, the lawn itself ceases to be a thing? It is something else. The bizarro reification of the lawn resolves / dissolves, whether or not the concept is being imposed at any particular time onto a particular plot of land, into the concept of ecology. atmo, ymmv. and wtf fascism???

  4. Helen

      That hedge has become monstrous – my first thought.

  5. deadgod

      What do you mean by “reification of the lawn”?  Is a lawn a thing made (partly) out of a sense of, say, order, or beauty?  –because then every concretization – every act – is a “reification”.  Or do you mean that ‘imposing will or interest’ is a kind of “reification”?  –because then, too, “to reify” sounds like a synonym for ‘to act’ or even ‘to will’.  (An interesting take…)

      Similar questions about “fascism”:  is ‘imposing aesthetic sense or interest’ “fascism”?  Is all praxis that’s concerned with form “fascism”?

      “Reification” and “fascism” seem like pretty explosive terms to use to describe ‘tending a garden’.  –I mean, compared to ‘treating labor as concretely separable from people’ and ‘treating struggles for social power apart from their human consequences’.

  6. Frank Lloyd Wong

       i know this form well. the classic “shit, left a document open while i was high looking at pictures”. i’m kinda more into the works of anther acker, if we’re talking radical critiques of ruin porn.

  7. Vomithelmet McGee

      Grass = the first thing I ever googled in my life! If only I had been taken here when I was 10 years old I wouldn’t have felt a dry nausea perusing through the results.

  8. Sugar Bear


  9. Jory Avner

      Be constructive, or simply browse for something else.

  10. Nic Farra
  11. The Madison Book Project

      i plucked the weeds to help the tomato plant, forgotten about, grow, because i thought you were interested in growing tomatoes, or else why would have you planted them? i picked the weeds because there is a level of competition with plants that are supposed to produce food, your desired food, and those that just grow by some design that’s not your own, i picked the weeds and sat in the dirt under the back porch because i was hung over and missing you upstairs because i sat in the woods for a summer learning about cow thatch and pelican families and inspecting the middle laid of the lane predator scat and never wearing shoes maneuvering that reality of living in the north