Saturday, April 10, 2004

Von Trier is a true Gnostic; & he is just as disagreeable as one of them would be if transported to the 21c.

If Norah Jones married Ariel Sharon, that would make her the palindromic "Norah Sharon".

Another point i would like to make is that innovation more often comes from those on the periphery, or of dual identity, rather than at the literary center. Why should the latter innovate? They are served well enough by the status quo.

"In 1989, the world had 157 billionaires, perhaps 2 million millionaires, and 100 million homeless." --State of the World 1990

"...[Russian] is a tissue of idioms, which has never been systematized, as French or English has been. It is a language produced by illiterate people. ...It was not till the middle of the eighteenth century that a standard usage emerged." --Edmund Wilson, "My Fifty Years with Dictionaries and Grammars", in: The Bit Between My Teeth (1965)

"...the g in the masculine genitive singular () is pronounced as if it were a v ...had been pronounced as g in Bulgarian, but the Russians... never bothered to change the spelling." --ibid

"This language, so rich in vocabulary, was immensely expressive as a literary medium, but it was a language all made up of special locutions, and its wildly irregular inflections would have been hopelessly recalcitrant to any discipline as the European languages had undergone." --ibid

"O rhubarb burning by the sea!" --Mervyn Peake

"One of their [=the Peratae] books was most oddly entitled The Heads of the town up to the aether. It seems to have been, essentially, a description and enumeration of the powers of the lower heavens, which makes us think of the Archontici." --Jean Doresse, The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics (1960)
[I think it was after reading Jack Spicer in The New American Poetry, & then going on to read more about him, that led me, first, to the Gnostics (by way of Doresse, tracking down where Spicer got the title of one of his books from, as i always liked to do in big libraries--), & later to my emulation of this naming-a-new-book-after-a-lost/fictive-old-one as a standard practice.]

Friday, April 09, 2004

"Reminds me of something my translator said to me the other day when I was moving to a hotel. "If you get a room on the 7th floor, then you will die last" -- thinking of a car bomb like the one that went off outside the Mount Lebanon. But then he added, "If it's mortar fire, you die first." I love the Iraqi's sense of humor." --Empire Notes (via Domus Carataci)
Poetry and the confessional. Scholars of the elegiac poets of the Classical world are at pains to caution us against reading too much self expression into their lapidary plaints. Later, the "Archpoet" startlingly rants on the flimsiness of a charity coat; Byron hints at incest to keep up his publicity profile; & Poe's enemies impute to him every derangement he ever imagined. Eventually, we find acolytes adopting what they construe as a "Poet Lifestyle" before ever reading a poem by anybody else. From one angle we can see in this the evolution of The Poet as a commodity separable from his or her poetry (& also, BTW, an equal separation of Poetry from poems--). Art having come to acquire the trappings of a secular religion, the demand is created: for saints.

Meanwhile, a counterreaction ensues; & perhaps a legendary poet like Sylvia Plath is only now beginning to be read as a craftsman & not a scary martyr. But among unsophisticates (at every level), just as the ghost of anapestic tetrameter couplets lingers wherever adolescents start to jingle, there is a core belief in the poetic efficacy of painful experience.

Clearly, good writing & having something to say, cannot be completely divided, yet we must warily circle slippery Antlion-Cones of Victimhood & watch out for Bamboo-Mantraps of Witness Authenticity at every step. What else was the Yasusada Affair about, but the forging of a Holy Relic?

If i were to spearhead a proper counterinsurgency against this Babelovian Confusion, i would start with the injunction: LET HISTORY BE HISTORY, LET RELIGION BE RELIGION, LET POETRY BE POETRY. There may well be a point in the development of subcultures where the need for testimony outweighs aesthetics. And i think those subcultures will naturally develop the criticism they need in their own time, without outside interference--especially from condescending "mainstreamers".

And there have always been, & will continue to be, cases where pathology & poetics contrive to be indistinguishable. (It may be that these are the most interesting poets of all, after contemporaneity fades--.)

But this needs to be kept from becoming a general principle of equivalence. Poetry, & its audience, will be better served in the end by craft definitions rather than by extraneous personal ones.

Toward this, i observe that the cult of "authenticity" must be destroyed, by whatever means necessary.

04 09 04

Where, swift and wool in going?
Fell always wishing like this.

Tomorrow, want less and hunger bigger.
Fewer terror but stronger, staggered.

Taken heart outside to dry.
Rain surprise and ruined.

Silver cold and stops the swelling.
Why hurts from other body?

Why photo soothes with flat?
Salt soaks blood tender.

Brihten flesh in slap.
With word, not blood silent.

Not leave and take me
nowhere, swift and wool in going."

--Brenda Shaughnessy, Interior with Sudden Joy (1999)
[This took the roof of my head off...]
Interview with Ljuba Popovic.

   "School of Blind Painters"

House to house combat, trading
Small arms fire & hand launched missiles.
A structural absence of light
My vocabulary did
This to me

Most people are staying indoors
On this delicate morn of Good Friday
Where an accurate body count
Fills the expectant void with
Newsprint boxkites.

Falling headliner
And my holey fedora vie
For the honor of ending this poem.

04 09 04

A Ukrainian poet.
Sadr calls for calm. (via Juan Cole)

Faces of the Fallen. (via Michael Moore)

A good, but depressing, article on the emerging One Party State. (via Wood_s Lot)

"...the noticeably large divergence between the spoken and the written language...almost to the extent of there being two distinct stages of linguistic development--as that, say, between Middle English and modern English."
--Masao Miyoshi, Accomplices of Silence: The Modern Japanese Novel (1974) [referring to the end of the 19c.]

"I do not believe it an overstatement to say that writing in Japanese is always something of an act of defiance. ...the culture is primarily visual, not verbal, in orientation, and social decorum provides that reticence, not eloquence, is rewarded." --ibid

"...the suicide rate for Japanese writers is 'three hundred times higher than that for Japanese men as a whole'..."
--ibid (footnote)

   2 tankas by Borges: (tr.)

  'The sound of a bird
which the twilight is hiding
  has fallen silent.
You wander in your garden.
I know that you miss something.'

  'Not to have fallen
like others of my lineage,
  cut down in battle.
To be in the fruitless night
he who counts the syllables.'

--from Borges: A Reader ed. Monegal & Reid (1981)
[Was there ever so poignant a use of the word "syllables"...?]

'Isaac Luria the Lion taught that the soul of a dead man can enter an unhappy soul to sustain or instruct it; perhaps the soul of Omar lodged in FitzGerald's around 1857.' --"The Enigma of Edward FitzGerald". op cit

Sign in the window of the Revolutionary Bookstore: "Phony Communism is dead/ Long live real communism". (I can't disagree with the sentiment, but that word is ruined forever.)

And i'm supposed to write--what? an epic about Empire's Nemesis--lyrics about being unemployed?? little difference it really makes what's in your head, when your lifestyle is the cancer.

"In the estimate of Fortune magazine, not more than one thousand individuals own or control 90 per cent of the world's economic capacity." --The Big Bang Never Happened, Eric J Lerner (1991)
[footnote: i don't see that nonuniform distribution of stars in an infinite universe wouldn't still result in Olber's Paradox...]

'Hypocrisy is quite as inseparable from being a man as sliminess is from being a fish.' --Kierkegaard

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A strong contender for Worst Title of All Time: Scrooge Wore Spurs.

Lies Counted.

"Dance of the Seven Veils"

   Gray in my whiskers
By a low sun; the drive through
   Bank, Condoleeza
Takes the stand; heavy fighting
Breaks out all over Iraq.

04 08 04
"Perhaps the worldwide public appearance of UFOs and the appearance of LSD, both of which events took place shortly after the first atomic bombs devastated entire cities, are not isolated separate events but, on the contrary, closely linked." --George C Andrews, Extra-Terrestrials Among Us (1986)

'And I entered into that house, and it was hot as fire and cold as ice...' --The Book of Enoch (1) tr R H Charles (cited in the book above)


And nothing has disturbed the stern portico
of the Voynich House... pale cerulean
batrachian sunrise raised from Mexico
with carven hieroglyphs in an alien
space pidgen, eyes scouring the sidewalk
on the way back from food stamps. Azure zero cypher
fingertips on fire, cumulus bulwark
gray (lutefisk) gray or animal sapphire
the thirty-second Perfect Number--found.
  And nothing has disturbed the stern portico
of the Anglisc lingvo...: seasons underground
our glimmer train instilleth vertigo.
The troll of the Aurora Bridge beckons.

04 10 92

"With Stupidity and sound Digestion a man may front much." --Carlyle

"Aelian writes of Trizus, the tyrant, that he commanded his subjects not to speak together, and when they used signs, instead of words, he also forbade those; whereupon the afflicted people met in the market-place to at least weep for their misfortunes, but neither was that permitted..." --Jeremy Taylor

"...even in the doctrines heretical there will be superheresies..." --Religio Medici

The difference between alchemy & chemistry is that of a eucharist ritual without & with a psychoactive drug. The drug in scientific ritualism is guessing & confirmation. The ritual came first.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Sharbat Gula. (via Metafilter) More.

"If wars were fought only by the men on the ground, the men facing one another in real battle, most wars would end quickly and sensibly." --Anthony Swofford, Jarhead (2003)

The Myopic Void.

Listening to: Giovanni de Chiaro- Scott Joplin on Guitar.

" I blog this, all the mosques, Sunni and Shi’a alike, are calling for Jihad."
--Baghdad Burning

What the Arab World is Seeing.(via Counterspin)
"There are more statues of Stalin in Albania than petrol stations." --Edwin Morrisby, op cit

"...each given name in Japan, men's & women's alike, is in theory at least supposed to be a unique coinage made up for the occasion by the parents, rather than being selected (as is customary in the West) from a ready-made repertory..."

"No eye sees the seas I know." --David Morice in 5/92 Word Ways

"The author is of the opinion that Basque is in fact, New High Cro-Magnon." --Michael Girsdansky, The Adventure of Language

"I was against the U.N. resolution on the use of force in the Persian Gulf. In fact, I debated Charlton Heston on the Donahue show." --Jerry Brown, The Nation interview [1992]

"Sirius is too young to remember." --Basil Bunting

The six men who crossed Antarctica on dogsled spent 2 months under the Ozone Hole. There, exposed skin burns severely within a few minutes... They have seen the future...

"I more & more am coming to believe that the wellsprings of many of our biggest decisions have nothing to do with those storylike contrivances we insist are our reasons; more like avalanches than stimulus-response... After i had been here awhile i realized i didn't know why i left Dallas; that everything i'd believed were causes had vanished like a summer rain which leaves the sidewalks dry an hour later." --letter

'Each person takes his revenge on the world. Mine consists in carrying my grief and anguish deeply embedded within myself, while my laughter entertains all. If I see someone suffer I symoathize with him, console him to the best of my ability, and listen to him quietly when he assures me that I am fortunate. If I can keep this up to the day of my death I shall have had my revenge.' --Kierkegaard's Diary (among the books at Teahouse K-- Y--)

...I exchange maybe ten words a week with V--, otherwise i only talk to telephone zombies. Wondering if the Krishnas on Vancouver Island are filled up, or still there even...Ha! they'd probably send me to an airport to shake down the newly-disoriented arrivals from depression-elsewhere.

'The Desert is Monotheistic.' --Renan

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

'O Lord of the Dark Blue Throat,
I have the very same Six Thou hast.
And yet, estranged from Thee, I suffer misery.
There surely is this difference:
Thou art the master of the Six,
By the Six I have been robbed.'

--Lal Ded, tr Jayalal Kaul

I hear "Twin Peaks" is a big craze in Japan [1992]; they say David Lynch has wabi.

from Linguica 13: "Recent events seem to have somewhat broadened the spectrum of permissable discourse in the American mass media. Now they're willing to admit something's wrong, which is a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether even this small awakening can withstand the winds of amnesia (till November is the utmost of my hopes). Meanwhile Empire & Entropy contend in the arena of anomie; & smart money favors the arms merchants."

"Here the coelacanth awaited us in a large trellis-work cage that was hauled up from the depths. I observed its slow and measured movements, its primitive appearance, its sharp hooked teeth. Most of all I was conscious of its eyes. Definitely not your usual opaque fish eyes. These were alert, watching, waiting. The eyes of a predator, the eyes of man's ancestor." --Edwin Morrisby, Unpackaged Tours (1988)

"Without these shadows I would be
In air one wave of ruinous light" --Gwendolyn MacEwen

'I fear continually that the premature night
will hunt me down darkly one noon...' --Waclawiwaniuk (tr)

"Basho and friend are of course moved by the sight of the child who has been left to die from exposure and starvation, but precisely in the way that one would be moved by the sight of an abandoned kitten or puppy; tossing it a bit of food, he and his companion are content to continue on their poetic journey once they have resolved their emotions by assigning the waif its place in the pseudo-Buddhist world-view of late 17c. Japan, and--most important of all--have memorialized the incident with a learned poetic allusion." --Roy Andrew Miller, Nihongo (1986)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Promoting health and safety within the rave and danceclub community.

Too bad it's not great poetry. (via Metafilter)
The Wallace Stevens Walk.

1st Blogiversary.

Orcinus on Fallujah.

Poems for Madrid is now available for downloading. (My triolet was supposed to be in there somewhere, but it looks like something happened. Anyway, here it is:

   those who disagree
   must die
   to free
   those who disagree

   from their infirmity

   that's why
   those who disagree
   must die)

"Appalling and incomprehensible mercy--
The seeing see only this world."
--Franz Wright

"...Cromwell's cannons were inscribed 'God is Love'.)" --Eliot Weinberger

'Everybody seemed intent on his daily round and went smilingly about the business of carrying out his instructions. It was essential to smile--if you didn't, it meant you were afraid or discontented. This nobody could afford to admit--if you were afraid, then you must have a bad conscience.' --Hope Against Hope (tr Max Hayward 1970)

   "for Xtmprsqzntwlfb"

Transhumant stars, napalm of forgiveness
this grim & crenulated heart
Odo, Abdurrahman:
behind the mountains there are mountains

Saragossa espresso
gneiss of skraelings
books with broken spines

Necropolis mass-transit
here runs on time
collateral damage dead spider decor
Aldus shrugged

my melted face oodoolay
my Voynich coelacanth

05 24 92

"There is a Skagit Indian myth that tells of a common language spoken by humans and animals and nature. It prophesies: 'When we can understand animals, we will know that the change is halfway. When we can talk to the forest, we will know that the change is come.' " --Brenda Peterson, Living by Water (1990)