Saturday, May 01, 2004

"To possess a telescope without the other essential half--the microscope--seems to me a symbol of the darkest incomprehension." --Leonora Carrington, House of Fear

One of the curious unspoken conventions of contemporary poetry is that it's all about the same length: just enough to fill up a lettersize page...

"Indifference, Gundhalinu, is the strongest force in the universe. It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don't stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn't act, it allows. And that's what gives it so much power." --Joan Vinge, The Snow Queen (1980)

"The key thing to remember with literature is that it's a wholesale business as opposed to the visual arts, which is retail business." --Richard Kostelanetz in Atticus Review

Plot is the.gollup (gameliness) of Story.

'Tolstoy's excuse as a preacher is that he had two disciples who derived the practical consequences of his homilies: Wittgenstein and Gandhi.' --Cioran

"What good exterminating evil distorts if the sun itself should be owned by spiders?" --Attanasaio, Last Legends of Earth

"Dogs, sewed up in lamb skins, whisper repent, or wittily property is use." --Gerald Burns

A poem cannot levitate one dust-mote. --saying of Asmodeus

Burroughs [my rabbit] always snatches her cracker with vast avidity; often as not, not having hands, her first bite drops the rest between the floor-grate, & i have to retrieve it. How like humans & happiness!

Certainty is a feeling-state not a knowledge-state. A feeling-state, moreover, caused by a particular degree of ignorance...

'I don't believe in Rilke's angels; I believe even less in his poor.' --Cioran

Proverbs from A Maltese Anthology, ed A J Arberry:
   One man dies of drunkenness, and another dies for (want of) a drop.
   An agreement between two people is reached in two days; an agreement between three requires two months.
   Praise the sea, and remain on dry land.
   He who is born round will not die square.
   Whoever says what he likes will have to hear what he doesn't like.
   For the sake of a cent he will skin a louse.

From the point of view of the rest of the Earth, those who are killing the most of their fellow humans--are heroes.

Friday, April 30, 2004

" 'A sad spectacle!' exclaimed Thomas Carlyle, contemplating the possibility that millions of planets circle other suns. 'If they be inhabited, what a scope for pain and folly; and if they be not inhabited, what a waste of space!' " --from Martin Gardner's Order and Surprise (1983)

Sometimes when i am feeling particularly arrogant, i console myself with the thought that the only thing that kept me from a mathematical career was, i couldn't convince myself that calculus was true.

"We know so much intellectually, indeed, that we are in danger of becoming the prisoners of our knowledge. We suffer from a hubris of the mind. We have abolished superstition of the heart only to install a superstition of the intellect in its place. We behave as if there were some magic in mere thought, and we use thinking for purposes for which it was never designed. As a result we are no longer sufficiently aware of the importance of what we cannot know intellectually, what we must know in other ways, of the living experience before and beyond our transitory knowledge." Laurens van der Post, The Heart of the Hunter (1961)
  [How nostalgic the first part of that makes me feel!--]

As a child i felt toward cars & other vehicles much as primitive humans must have felt toward animals.

"I have always been grateful that I was born into a world and shall die in one where the lion, however diminished in number, is still roaring. Heard in his and my native setting, it is for me the most beautiful sound in the world. It is to silence what the shooting star is to the dark of the night." --ibid

I dreamed that i buried my heart. It was still alive but not beating, & i buried it deep in the ground.
  I'm still thinking about what that means...
  It looked like cicadas do when they're still in thev larval stage: gray & moist & ugly. I tried to get some images of what comes next. ...I realized i couldn't have the rest of it yet--not until i live it--but somehow there's a rightness in waiting. ...--Or: i have never planted my heart here; that's why nothing has grown.

Fantasy flourishes in the decline of empire, becoming indistinguishable from empire itself.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

letter from Melanie to a local radio station:

" Hi, I must tell you how disappointed I was in your show this morning, specifically regarding American Idol, and, especially, the treatment John Stevens and his fans have been getting in the media. I was not in a position to call the station, so as to present the other side's case, or I would have. Although I actually heard you say you didn't want to gang-up on John Stevens, that is, in essence, what you did, and you have not been alone; Edna Gunderson of USA Today is a prime offender, and Paula Adbul has behaved poorly by appearing on Entertainment Tonight and saying Stevens needs to go, although Ms. Abdul would never be so forthright to any AI contestant to his (her) face, and that makes her a coward.

I've been listening to this noise for a week, monitoring the Idol message boards, as well as the countless newspaper articles and the coverage on Entertainment Tonight, and I think some people are grossly simplifying the results of last week's show and/or the appeal of John Stevens, himself. First, let me say, for the record, that I am not some lovesick-- white--teenage girl, nor am I someone's doddering old granny. I am an active, happy, vital person who works two jobs and also does some volunteering. Great, good enough. Okay, yes, I do like John Stevens, and so do a lot of my friends, some more than others. Yes, I have voted for him, more than once, even. That said, I've also voted for some of the other contestants, and my thought has always been that this season's round of American Idol was, and is, destined to be won by either LaToya London or Fantasia Barrino. With that in mind, the order in which all the other candidates go home shouldn't really matter. They all have to go eventually. Jennifer Hudson, in my humble opinion, was never destined to win this contest. The judges might have been salivating at the thought of a three way race between the so-called divas, but that was just wishful thinking, because Hudson was always the weaker of the three: inconsistent and at times bombastic. Her renditions of "Imagine" (as part of the first group of 8) and "Circle of Life" were stunners, but even though she sang "Weekend in New England" on pitch, it was still way over the top, at times painfully so. Therefore, in regards to last week's outcome, isn't it possible that voters just preferred the other six singers? Isn't it possible that it's just that way?

As somebody pointed out on an AI post, at this point voters need only be concerned with who they want to see on tv the next week, not who they think can sell the most units. That particular decision need only be made once the contestants are slimmed down to the final two or three. It's of little consequence in the meantime. Further, it's the job of the record label's marketing department to figure a sales strategy, not the American public. I'd probably buy a John Stevens cd, if he did covers of some of the oldies.

As far as changing the voting system goes, that's a bad idea, at least for the remainder of the season. I was always taught that you don't get to change the rules in the middle of the game just because your team is losing. Allowing people to vote only once may have to happen in the future, but not now. Another bad idea is switch the process so that people vote off the weakest contestant. The beauty of the show, and its voting system, is that encourages the notion of a pre-sold fan base, and people can rally behind (or around) whomever they want, and for whatever reason. Just two or three weeks ago Simon Cowell answered a question posed by Ryan Seacrest (regarding talent vs popularity) by saying that people have the right to vote whichever way they feel. There is no right or wrong way to vote. Obviously, the winning candidate should possess a mix of personality and musical ability, but who's to say at this point, what will happen, or, rather, what won't happen?

Obviously, John Stevens has a huge fan base. Just how huge is subject to debate, but it is fair to say a lot of people like him for one reason or another. It is unfair, however, to make judgements against the people who for vote Stevens (as in they feel sorry for him, or think he's cute, or that they don't have any friends, or that they're all little old ladies, that they all power vote, etc.). As I've already stated, I like Stevens. His style is smooth and straightforward, and certainly much more pleasant to my ears than some of the heated oversinging by many of the other contestants; the girls, specifically. Maybe other voters feel the same way. They just prefer one style to another. Why so much attention is being paid to this young man, who's done nothing, really, except go out and sing to the best of his ability each week, is beyond me. After all, and I hate to mention names, but here goes, George Huff for the past two weeks has given awful performances, and yet he's been given a reprieve and no one seems to be upset about that. (Nor do they seem upset that he was set-up as a stooge on last week's results show.) Also, the other girls, Diana and Jasmine, pale in comparison to LaToya and Fantasia, but that they've been allowed to stay another week hasn't prompted nearly as much as outrage (as the Stevens thing). Jasmine Trias is a lovely girl, but seems out of her element at times. Diana DiGarmo is loud, and she's proven she can hold a note, but she's often all over the place in regards to pitch, and yet she gets asked back week after week. As long as there are other singers that I honestly believe are weaker than John, I will continue to vote for him, and that's my privilege. Once Diana and Jasmine are gone, and possibly George, John will either have to step-up his game, or go home, but that time has not yet come.

I wish people would remember that John Stevens was passed through by the judges, legitimately, and that he had the most audience votes of anyone in his group of 8 (when he sang the Billy Joel song). To compare him to William Hung is just plain mean, and unbecoming of any adult. Not only is John Stevens only 16, he's also someone's son, and I'm sure it can't be easy for his parents to pick up a newspaper, or turn on a tv or radio and find someone blaming their kid for whatever is going on with that show. Stevens is blameless, and picking on him isn't going to help.

Finally, consider the judges. Several weeks ago, Simon Cowell, an early Stevens supporter, said he liked John Stevens and that he (Cowell) thought Stevens was what Middle America wanted. Apparently that has been proven true, but now, suddenly, Simon and the gang want to dictate the way America should vote. Last Tuesday, the judges all but told America that the three divas were going to the finals. If that's the case, if it's so predetermined already, why not just cut to the chase and not include the American voting public in the first place? Simon didn't help his case by hurling insults to Stevens (comparing him to Stan Laurel, for example). If anything, Simon probably strengthened the Stevens fan-base's resolve (that is, if you believe the fans' votes even count; there are those who believe the producers manipulate the show according to their whims).

Well, it should all be over after tonight. It's Latin music night, and my guess is Stevens has met his match. I honestly don't think it's going to be a great night for him. Who knows, maybe he'll come out there and be really great, but I wouldn't want to have to face that sour group of judges.

Thank you for letting me vent,
   'Night Soul

My soul is sad at the end my soul
is sad to be tired at the end is sad
and tired to be in vain my soul is sad
and tired and at the end in vain
I long for your hands on my face

I long for your fingers on my face
like angels of ice your fingers on my face
I long for the ring to be brought to me
I long for their cold touch on my face
like a golden horde deep within the sea

And I long at last for their remedies
in order not to die exposed to the sun
to die in despair exposed to the sun
I long for them to bathe my eyes
where those in despair lie sleeping

Where so many swans are at sea
swans making their way over the sea
stretching in vain their sullen necks
while down in the winter gardens
there sick men are gathering roses

I long for your fingers on my face
touching my face like angels of ice
I long for them to moisten my eyes
the dead grass of my glances the fields
where so many lambs lie scattered'

Maurice Maeterlinck, Hothouses (1889; tr Richard Howard 2003)

I am still under the spell of the Myth of the Book! I ought to recognize books have affirmed in me what needed affirming (my subjectivity) but did nothing to solve my problems (i could only grow up & into their solution)--& that's all that books are for. Thus i have no responsibility in writing one, than the same. And yet, & yet...
  This ought to be a dialog with someone else.

I can never realize that most other people make do with the most childishly simple maps of the world, or none at all; & that a complex one (like Lojban) will never be more than a kind of caviar for intellectuals--& only one of many, for that matter.

'It is said that during the time the Sung empire was being overrun by the Mongols, the Chinese commander-in-chief was flat on his belly, watching a cricket fight, when he received the news that the capital was surrounded by the enemy and that they were in utmost danger. He just couldn't tear himself away from the crickets, he first had to see who the winner was. The city fell, and the reign of the Sungs was over.' --The Conscience of Words, Elias Canetti (1979)

America: freedom of speech w/out freedom of thought.

"And there impale perfected seraphim
Anguished by answers truant to their love." --Burns Singer

The reason i don't write much, is the same reason a scuba diver doesn't sing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

What Went Wrong.

Who Died In Here?

I abandoned my strict Byzantine palette long ago but i think if you put one of my pictures against an old one you can still see the resemblance. What has changed is now different colors have taken over some of the functions--a dark purple for the indigo, an orange or even cadmium yellow for the vermilion--.
   "The Question and Its Mark

May I cast a spell on the many swans of Leda,
making at last one spastic blizzard in spring
with only enough divine mania to take one
blinding day from her?

The godbirds and their scopophilia
keep her open for view and review, with ever
new speculum and never the elegant jewelry
of stigmata or a heart of quartz.

May I give her only one death? Can we live if she
lies closed in a single final pose, no syphilitic
autopsy or cygnet interrogation?
May I mark her prophecy,

her presence in the very air, with a single
gargoyle on the streetside wall on a place
of worship, finally allowed inside if only by
disappearing into the stones?

Leda possessed a pair of knees that also bent
in prayer. I ask of you only what she asked for there."

Brenda Shaughnessy

Experience illustrates theory, it never proves it.

"Much of Fermat's best work was done while one of the most savage wars in history raged all about him. Yet he never alludes to it in his correspondence." --Eric Temple Bell

"An orchestra is a herd animal. They sense weakness like a pack." --Kate Tamarkin

The things i should be proud of, i don't even remember.

The cat finds happiness in repose, the dog in excitement; but i am like the rabbit, driven from frenzy to lassitude & back again, never long in either.

Boredom for them is a bulwark, a touchstone.

I fight the Vampyre with blood transfusions.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

   a cento from Dobson

We grate our scrannel Musick, and we dote:
  Jest of cloister humourist.
Verse is a drug not sold in any mart
With sore desire some dolorous place to win;
A small gray spot--the record of a tear.

04 18 04

What i want to see is a makeover reality show that takes people who are ignorant about the world, & educates them.
(You could start with the Chief Executive!)

Blogs as an example of braidtext. There are kinds of material, each a color in the weave: in mine, they are quotes, journals, contemporary musings, politics, & links. Recurrent subjects furnish continuity. Whole books could be written on this model ('Follow the brush').

Do cats have egos? Is ego a function of being a carnivore?

"The job now is to get back to that other perennial and substantial world in which we really do live, in which the foundations of our life will be visible to us, and in which we can accept our responsibilities again within the conditions of necessity and mystery. In that world all competently wakeful and responsible people, dead, living, and unborn, are contemporaries. And that is the only contemporaneity worth having." --Wendell Berry in: The Poet's Work ed Reginald Gibbons (1979)

"As above, so below": fractals.

'Poetry is the plow that turns up time so that the deep layers of time, the black soil, appear on top.'
--Mandelshtam, ibid

'But to say what you want to say, you must create another language and nourish it for years and years with what you have loved, with what you have lost, with what you will never find again.' --George Seferis, ibid

Time is the enemy we receive succor from.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Ask Sistani. (via Cursor)
We have two stores, & i was giving someone directions over the phone as to how to find a book i knew was on the shelf: I could just visualize it—but the person i was directing couldn’t find it. The next time i was over there, i looked for it & found it. It was just where i’d said, but in a different corner. My brain had stored certain features of the location automatically, & yet not all of the surrounding relationships correctly. And suddenly i realized this was how humans have Metaphor. As soon as you start storing memories by salient features, they are going to start coinciding; & sometimes in ways that can be seen as meaningful. This also connects to a mystery that long has had me wondering: the way Latin words translate into so many different English words. They had, so to speak, a net of looser weave; or, they called a lot of things by the same name we would have distinguished. Or, you could look at the Romans as having a poetic cast of mind even in everyday life. (Learning to express yourself in an artificial language with a limited vocabulary requires a similar effort.)
Bloggin the Stans. (via Rubber Hose)

I didn't know they made a movie of Melville's Pierre! (via Third Factory) [Pierre, of course, is where the good Herman invents Postmodernism three generations before Modernism even existed--no wonder his critics were baffled--which puts me in mind of the other day, when we received all of Bob Hope's "Road" movies on VHS, & i announced to several equally bewildered bystanders the insight that Hope had been toiling in Camp Country before the thing even had a name. --But that's another story.]


New Patti Smith website. (via Poetry Hut)

"We are feeding our young people into a machine designed to do nothing more than supply energy to the delusions of our government. It was a long time ago, but I remember Vietnam. ...There is an inevitability here that Sophocles would savor--his problem as a writer, though, would be to find a single character with the dignity--which is to say, self knowledge--to qualify as a tragic figure. Our current administration & its war would probably amount to nothing more than a satyr play..." --Reading and Writing
A reader responds (to this):

"It's yours till you volunteer it for a tribe or you die and a tribe
claims it for their own, I think. Individual pieces of writing have shifted
tribes over time, much as other artifacts have: drug laws were once feminist
and then not.

(Obviously I disagree with Silliman that an intimate knowledge of the
writer's tribal allegiances at the time of writing is necessary when a
reader encounters writing. It may or may not add amusement value, that
much I'll agree with.)"

Only a Million.

"For the coming national anthem, may I suggest Chalabi, Allawi, Hakeem and Talbani in a gaudy, Iraqi version of "Lady Marmalade"?" --Baghdad Burning
   Nine Skathons of Sxwaixwe


Sxwaixwe, they say, came from the union
   of a garden slug
& a raven... Few have ever seen
   his chartreuse scales, his
esplumoir; many have heard his laughter.


Sxwaixwe laughs like a baby crying.
   Sxwaixwe wears a tall
black silk hat, & lives beneath the Sound.
   He has clairvoyance;
his cranium's tetrahedron-shaped.


There is a book belongs to Sxwaixwe.
   In it, he records
ev'rything that happens: past, present,
   & future, but not
in any particular order.


I saw Sxwaixwe once, walking backwards
   in Pike Place Market
with his hat & his multicolor
   coat. I watched him stop
& buy a vista of Mt Hekla.


Sxwaixwe appears sometimes in your dreams
   but only in part:
headless torso; wings & hat alone...
   He is an omen
of erratic luck & weird events.


Sxwaixwe gives oracles in Scrabble
   takings you have to
anagrammatize yourself into
   sense; visions seen
in oily puddles; shrieks of seagulls...


Without Sxwaixwe we would have no fog,
   espresso, leather
jackets, or yellow trees in autumn.
   (Especially sacred
to Sxwaixwe is Caffe MedicĂ­...)


Squid-headed Cthulhu, Sxwaixwe, & the
   Jesus of twoway
cards & Mexican gilt-framed icons
   are siblings, slug-born,
but engendered by diff'rent Fathers.


Sxwaixwe gave me this Form, to notate
   my ruminations,
weave coincidences, & invoke
   the spirits of this
gray-green crowded water-ruled abode.

01 10 92
[These were part of my attempt to contact a Coast Salish deity, one that resided at the bottom of Puget Sound, for my own purposes.]