Saturday, July 24, 2004


The thirst for lies is like the desire for change
Except despair not hope stands watch in the crow’s-nest.

    07 21 04

Listening to: Lene Lovich.

A fellow employee was grumbling about the Danielle Steel “limited editions” we had on sale for $50. I said, “What do you expect in a world where a first edition of Harry Potter is worth more than a first edition of Dickens?” He said, “This is WORSE.”

It is sometimes used as a charge against syllabic verse, that humans cannot perceive such counts; & therefore it is so completely arbitrary as to be meaningless. I disagree. You just have to think in terms of drumbeats. The Japanese building-block “five plus seven” is contained in such nursery rhymes as “Old Macdonald had a farm/ E-I-E-I-O”. and i was listening to a song by Shonen Knife the other day (“Buddha’s Face”) which starts with a run of eleven staccato chords, then two different, then eleven, then two: & it was perfectly intelligible. I would’ve been able to tell the second part was off if it’d been ten or twelve. (But i’ll have to ask someone who’s a real drummer about Marianne Moore’s “nineteen plus four”.)

Ah, the Golden Treasury of Knowledge--the encyclopedia of my childhood. I’ve never seen anything like it: the articles were mysteriously grouped, not alphabetized, giving me already a glimpse of heterodox gestalts; & illustrated lavishly in a melodramatic style derivative of Delacroix. (Anyone who grew up with these is already half a painter.) I was especially troubled by the sinister energy of the pictures of wild animals, prehistoric & primitive peoples. They had something i could not imagine myself ever achieving: joyous freedom.     Later, when i began prowling garage sales, i picked up a couple loose volumes for next to nothing. When i looked again at the pictures, i felt obscurely stirring so many inarticulate emotions i’d projected onto them, & made them perforce the only possible names of. Hauntingly familiar, yet unreadable today.     And it must have been the article on “Hieroglyphs” that started my fascination with the nuts & bolts of language.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Found an illustrated booklet about the "Parade at Persepolis", part of a celebration the Shah of Iran put on in 1971 that saw a lot of heads of state, & also a few avant garde artists, including Peter Brooks, who produced a play written especially for this event by Ted Hughes (in a "language" he invented), "Orghast", later the subject of a fascinating book by A C H Smith.

Some Orghast words: hoan, 'light'; bullorga, 'darkness'; ombolom, 'womb'; glittalugh, 'stars'; gleorghasta, 'the vulture'; oarglakris, 'the eagle'; boh, 'death'.

Ernst Kipling sent me this poem as an answer to mine from yesterday:

“The Clown inside his study reads of war
and ponders deeply where the letters burn:
‘In war’s upheaval all new things are born.’

We raise our malls where clashes and massacres were,
unmindful of the cost of present peace.
The ravens’ shadows lingeringly abide.

A Clown can find in old accounts imbued
with human loss, a most instructive compass:
what soldiers chose, and what they did not choose,
purified by the terror and the goal...

In solitary rooms each Clown turns west
and either lets or does not let beguile
the sunset’s hues across this sparkling waste;
and learns at last defeat is not the worst.” 

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"(there are a lot of retro Beats out who strike me as the literary equivalent of Civil War re-enactors)" 

   "Dog Sausage"

All the gray unlovely wars
Are written up; & shelves in stores
Sag burdened with their glad redundance,
The numbers dry, the backwards pundits:

We move a lot of them. I wonder
If past can outscream present thunder,
If turning over frozen battles
Shields the mind from window-rattles.

Or do they crave a narrative
When chaos stalks them where they live;
The outcomes clear, roles well-defined
Of victor &--the other kind?

Although it suits commercial sales
I think war boasts far fewer tales
Than these. There's really only one,
Of pain unsought, then no more fun.

A pamphlet maybe. Who would read
If all it said was, "None succeed"?
And who'd pursue that glorious boon
If all it meant was, "Die too soon"?

The books continue, pale & prim.
I wish i needn't deal with them
Or have to hear the savage news
That sizzles like a creeping fuse.

07 19 04

New Sosnowski.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Just watched The Night of the Iguana. This is the poem the old poet finally finishes after 20 years:
"How calmly does the olive branch
observe the sky begin to blanch,
without a cry, without a prayer,
with no betrayal of despair!

Sometime while night obscures the tree
the zenith of its life will be
gone, past, forever. And from thence
a second history will commence
a chronicle no longer gold
a bargaining with mist and mold
and finally the broken stem,
the plummeting to earth, and then
an intercourse not well designed
for beings of a golden kind,
whose native green must arch above
the earth's obscene corrupting love,

and still the ripe fruit and the branch
observe the sky begin to blanch
without a cry, without a prayer,
with no betrayal of despair.

Oh courage! could you not as well
select a second place to dwell,
not only in that golden tree
but in the frightened heart of me?"
Yeah, you'd think there'd be Asimov's Laws for corporations--wouldn't you?
Not if the robots write them. They don't see the need.
Pollution level red.
"As models for their language and style the Hellenistic poets had the entire range of ancient Greek literature to call upon, from heroic times onwards; and they had the great new libraries in which they could read its masterpieces. ...they drew upon it for what it had to offer, adding ingenious variations of their own with elaborate erudition and refined self-consciousness. The trick was to revive the words, phrases and rare poetical usages of authors of the past...and to give them a cunning twist, bringing them together in piquant new combinations and endowing them with novel nuances of meaning." --Michael Grant, From Alexander to Cleopatra (1982)
Best zine name: Phosphorus Flourish. Runners-up: Spectacular Diseases, Scree, NeoVictorian Cochlea.

Monday, July 19, 2004

"...Theodore von Grift, the former phenomenon, is an average man weighing one hundred and forty pounds and composed of enough water to fill a ten-gallon barrel, enough fat for seven cakes of soap, enough carbon for nine thousand lead pencils, enough phosphorus to make twenty-two hundred match heads, sufficient magnesium for one dose of salts, enough iron to make one medium-sized nail, sufficient lime to whitewash a chicken coop, and enough sulfur to rid one dog of fleas."  --Joanna Scott, Various Antidotes (1994)

"We have become a people of esoteric leisure."  --W Hampton Sides, Stomping Grounds (1992) [A whole book relevant to my concept of blixen.] 

Sunday, July 18, 2004

This is kind of how i felt about getting laid off:

      "A Silence in the Modem

That password's now defunct--what you remember
is worthless. You will never ride again
the eager way, in pleasure or in labor,
that password's now defunct.
Why did you dream, of all things, clownly gain;
and when you took up planning, were you sober?
Passwords, like jet trails, bloom under the gun.
This is a world of frail and febrile jabber,
whose towers stand no sounder; khaki goon
and ashen wind divide you from that chamber:
that password's now defunct."

--Ernst A. Kipling in Eratosphere