Saturday, July 31, 2004

I am putting this here because i don't know how much longer it will be at the other location:

"A Pothole Named Copernicus"

Unfortunate it seems but true that we, though subject to mass delusions & cravings as ever, are now no longer the same political animal, as once could be content with parti-pris. Not even relict culture lends identity enough: the only thing in all the present maelstrom that i can find to cling to build on or huddle within, is my panic-stochastic adoption of a to me savoury subculture.

"Subculture" isn't quite the word. That would imply something lesser &, above all, acknowledged as secessionist by the parent culture. Whereas i maintain our glorious center has simply evaporated. What keep us from noticing this simple fact are the massively concerted fa├žades of media sculsh, psepholatry, taxploitation, & an imperial idiom (already on the fritz). We think in terms of something else. But we don't have a name for it yet. Within the shells of the old divisions & stereotypes, a new paradigm has blossomed.

Take a gander at the nearest newsstand & behold. Wherefore (you ask) can there ever be snagged, a quorum of Iguana Owners? A glossy & not negligible magazine (/website) sits there leering forth: & i understand, like apple-bonked Newton, that the true groups today are DISPERSED. Maybe they never do assemble all at once in one place. A force, invisible & plenipotent, still orients them, guides, like filings of steel around one pole of a magnetic tropism. I call it a "Blik".

"Blik" is a way of referring to a group of people by the one quality or predilection they all share. This, their style-philosophy, works for that blik the way a territory used to for tribes. It's a philosophy because it involves ideas (whether or not they're defined or even talked about), unlike consumerist fashion; & it's a style-philosophy because it involves the whole person's lifestyle, not just a point of view. A blik compels you to seek expression.

What creates a blik? Glamour. A fascination with one specialized mode of being-in-the-world. It can be a type of music, a game, a drug, a hobby, a form of sexuality, a religion, a personality cult, a venerable or self-invented artform, a way of making a living (rarely!); it is anything that gives meaning to your life inexhaustibly & whose contemplation creates a ramified discourse --standards of comparison, preference & exclusion. Icons, metaphors, slang, dress, behavior. It
is a playground for the exercise of free choice, & a dialectical encounter with mediated Necessity. And because all glamours involve the manipulation of symbolic objects (--what "magic" ever was) it is not enough to just "talk the talk". We are driven to repeatedly transact whatever magical-metaphorical operations reinforce our blixen.

They feed.

Hardly anyone lacks a blik; most of us belong to several. On one hand, the system of blixen has swallowed up all the major preoccupations of humanity--art, religion, politics--by breaking them down into specialities that fewer & fewer outsiders care to explore; on the other, this system shades off into the infinitesimal subtleties & infinite variety of "taste". To keep this term at all meaningful, i want to restrict it to those things you not only care about enough to demand one way & not another, but also have spent time discriminating & studying. Maybe it doesn't have a newsletter, or conventions to meet others of your ilk at yet; still, these are inherent tendencies--& goals: who will be the first Perfume Critic? Do the Trekkies have a martyr?

We even perceive our predecessors in terms of blixen. Just read a book & become a Druid! Instead of politics-history, culture-history; each century or (in this one) decade a congeries of fads. I don't know if it's any falser. What Morality was to the Nineteenth Century, & Politics is to the Twentieth, Blixen will be to the Twenty First: a metalanguage. No one will be able to talk about anything outside it. Clearly,the notion of "counterculture" has no place. That's what they ALL are.
History is savagely random, but Culture is savagely dialectical. We're left with the dialectics of blixen. This does not mean nothing. If the Sixties succumbed to irony as much as to consumerism, we seem to be entering, dialectically, a "Post-Ironic" period (i owe this term to the Dallas poet Melanie Pruit [1993]). Irony only has meaning against an assumed norm; precisely what's being contested in the current "Kulturkampf". Governance being left to the Politico-Show Biz blik, that power vacuum consequent became parasitized by sundry pirates flying the colors of
the Biblical-Fascist blik (you can fill in the rest). But two blixen far more readily corrupt than conquer one another.... Ensueth farce, Karl; circus age doom.

Ita dixit Graywyvern Grammaticus.

Friday, July 30, 2004

I want to write my riposte to The Purpose Driven Life: The Interrupt Driven Life. But i never can finish a sentence...

One book i’ll never write is a book on song covers--because the subject is endless. We tend to forget that, for popular music, covering other peoples’ songs has
been the norm except for a very few recent decades. I became interested in seeing how many versions i could find of some of my favorite songs (e g. “Harlem Nocturne”), as well as in collecting some of the more idiosyncratic cover bands (Swingle Singers, Spike Jones, the Ventures--everyone knows about the Ventures now, but you haven’t plumbed the depths of human depravity until you’ve heard them do Led Zeppelin--, The Three Suns, & of course [in classical] the great W. Carlos...). To use Stevens’s distinction, versions partake of both the beauty of inflection, & the beauty of innuendo (the song’s relation to its other covers). Also, preferring
a less famous version invokes one of my aesthetic strategies, jiaya (literally, ‘the B-side of a single’, or “the path less taken”). So without further ado, here’s an incomplete list i started putting together yesterday, of some of my favorite covers:

Ronstadt- I Will Always Love You
Joplin- Summertime [which was actually the first version i heard][Ella Fitzgerald's is wonderful too]
Hendrix- All Along the Watchtower
Manfred Mann- Blinded By the Light
Byrds- Mr Tambourine Man
Dakota Staton- Cry Me a River
Nina Simone- Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Animals- House of the Rising Sun [though Odetta’s is also great, & Frijid Pink's]
Tomita- Night on Bald Mountain [among so many it’s hard to choose]
Tori Amos- Real Men
Heart- Battle of Evermore
Beatles- Twist and Shout
Who- Young Man Blues [which led me to Mose Allison]
Feliciano- Light My Fire
Kazumi Watanabe- Walk Don’t Run
Ventures- Apache; Love is Blue
Patti Smith- Because the Night; Gloria [i’m still looking
for “Secret Agent Man”--i know it’s out there]
The Pugs- Popcorn [a cappella!]
Roches- Hallelujah Chorus [a cappella!!]
Sinatra- Laura; A Very Good Year
Sarah Vaughn- Stardust
Roger Williams- Autumn Leaves [with Ferrante & Teicher, & Liberace,
these comprise a minor school of jazzy piano versions which are delightful in small doses, & intolerable in large; e.g. Valjean- Bonanza theme]
Joe Harnell- Harlem Nocturne [bossa nova!]
Perry Como- Fly Me To the Moon [plus all of Andy Williams’s movie songs, but i think most of them were the originals...?]
Oranj Symphonette- Experiment in Terror
Ruth Welcome- Over the Rainbow [zither!]
Vanilla Fudge- Windmills of Your Mind
Petula Clark- Bang Bang
Phranc- Ode to Billie Joe
Two Nice Girls- Sweet Jane [combined with "Anyone Who Has a Heart"; which
reminds me of a track by Oranj Symphonette that combines two similar Mancini songs--this ought to be a genre!]
Doris Day- At Last [it partakes of skewwhiff--’spiritual perversity’--to prefer this to Etta James’s...]
Brasil 66- Day Tripper [or Fool on the Hill--they make them the same song anyway]
Edith Piaf- Exodus Theme [--not to forget Lawrence Welk’s!]
Joan Baez- The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down [i also love the folksongs on her early albums]
Loreena McKennitt- Greensleeve [also i have to mention Leonard
Cohen’s agonizing anti-version--]
Santana- Black Magic Woman [an early Fleetwood Mac song actually, & one of the high points of rock guitar, even if it is over familiar]
Ramsey Lewis Trio- And I Love Her
Coltrane- My Favorite Things
Stevie Ray Vaughn- Voodoo Chile
Hendrix- Star Spangled Banner [i wrote a whole paper on this, for college]
Dean Martin- King of the Road [this & not Roger Miller’s was what
John Stevens was doing--& almost better--]
Dolly Parton- Stairway to Heaven [bluegrass!]
No Doubt- It’s My Life
Faith No More- War Pigs
...& “self-covers”: Elvis Costello’s live reggae “Watching the Detectives”...Dylan’s whole “Live at Budokan” thing (which i saw him on the tour of, when he
came to Ft Worth)...

The prevalence of tribute albums has led to a resurgence, but alas mostly of terribly undistinguished covers. I wanted to like Madonna’s “American Pie”
but she shortened the lyrics!

Requests: i’ve always wanted to hear Patti Smith & Iggy Pop do “The Beat Goes On”...

I could try to connect this to poets reading poems by other people,
but since most poets are such poor readers of their own works, what would be the point?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Lafcadio Hearn Virtual iDiary.

The Code of a Herdsman.

Then I am Set Round with the Angels of Oxygen.

(The manuscript of the following sonnet was found rolled up inside an almost empty tube of Preparation H, in the trash at an undisclosed location.)

"Some Fellow Ratted Out Me"

Some fellow ratted out me.
Late at night, I essay to work out which,
thinking back, in the pong-threaded dark,
but so many are those grudgeful nebbishes

I've needed to rely since my sad misadventure
That goat-tapeworm Bush
wil never happily throne throne

in the land he reft.
He will never joy the life-days
Allah for what uncanny crotchet
has him gifted past beyond mine.

Today, Bush has the butt itch.
We must manipulate our garden-areas.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"Hitler, for example -- we know he read a lot of Bulwer-Lytton. Osama bin Laden used to read quite a lot of Western science fiction." (via Metafilter)

Often i have thought, since the 80's, when i published with Xerox Sutra (now Xexoxial)--all of whose books had that proportion--that chapbooks were best that had about half text & half pictures. Perhaps they were just too far ahead of their time. Xerox Sutra also pioneered print-on-demand, & although i expect that to become the dominant mode eventually, right now it is something of a curiosity. So now i am thinking of having one of my early chapbooks in that mode scanned in, & if i can get someone to make a pdf of it for me i will sell it at Cafe Press like Fungoids...

I have a 70's facsimile of John Gray's Silverpoints--perhaps the most characteristic poembook of the 1890's--but the poems themselves are just not up to the legend of the book itself. But i've been reading poems by New Zealand poet Charles Spear (on the blog Nacreous Oughts), & i think these are what should have been the contents of Silverpoints...

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

apricot dawn where ride gray legions
go in dread of the bitter rain

somewhere beyond this melee
love shall fall & pity rain

mangrove, mosquitos & the broken
skyscraper windows in the rain

yet poets shall learn to praise
the varieties of rain

i follow her through cloud labyrinths
by a trail like the smell of rain

though all its garments alter
this is still the same terrain

07 27 04
The "A Time To Kill" effect.
"There's something a bit weird about sitting here at the airport blogging while watching a CNN report about bloggers on the news monitor." --Atrios

Idea for a form: Renghazal (renga-ghazal). Odd-numbered couplets have 17 syllables combined; even ones have 14. Couplets linked by renga-like connections. Probably should only repeat the one word, at the end of each couplet.

I was doing checkout, at the raised pulpit, when all the lights flickered out a second then came back on immediately, & at the same time a sound like a raggeder sonic boom was heard from the mall across from us. Everyone stopped & looked that way. A minute later another (no flicker); half a minute later, the last.
I found out a water main broke.

"For those who desire an honourable release, typhoid lice, three in a box, price twopence, are peddled in the streets by starving corner boys." --The Orators

Listening to- Ancient Ceremonies: Dance Music & Songs of Ghana

Monday, July 26, 2004

Poet Vs Poet. (via Poetry Hut)

I Ain't the Only Homeless Blogger.

I scored 48 1/2...

Pac-Mondrian. (via Free Space Comics)

     "Cento from Bryant"

Blasphemous worship under roofs of gold
Yet beautiful as wild--were trod by me
So grateful, when the moon of summer made
And soon that toil shall end;

And many a hanging crag. But, to the east,
Vesuvius smokes in sight, whose fount of fire,
And glad, that he has gone to his reward;
And the ruffed grouse is drumming far within
The record of an idle revery.

07 25 04

Sunday, July 25, 2004

In Oz.

"Although I think the Japanese sex industry is the best in the world, and must be a fascinating thing to get a guided tour of (the sex industry here represents 1% of GDP, the same size as the Japanese defense industry --...)"  --Click Opera

Lunokhod 1. (via Riddell)

Kasparov on Fischer. (via ALDaily)