Monday, December 31, 2012

my dripping brain?

That sounds grisly and grotesque. Certainly not dignified. It sure took a long time for me to realize that.


how preposterous for me to be writing stuff here. I'm not a published (paid) poet or literary critic or freaking philosopher. A blog should be presented and written by someone with credentials and someone of accomplishment. I'm neither of those things.

How embarrassing to come to my senses at such a late date! How wincing all the unqualified blathering I've done on this blog. A "civilian" like me should look askance at his compulsion to express himself publicly. Should scrunch up his eyebrows and frown at such uncalled-for, dilettantish inclination.

I'll continue to post links to articles and to music on YouTube that affect me. That should do no great harm to public propriety. And I'll do so with as little commentary as possible. Otherwise would be pretentious.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Carl Jung -- peculiar and interesting

I thought this article was quite good -- well-written, critically astute, and philosophically alive:

article about Jung

Though...the writer's concluding talk about God is a bit facile, a mite too edifying, and a good deal problematic.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays... y'all folks round the globe who drop by here every now and then. I appreciate it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE NUTCRACKER (full-length)

BBC Royal Opera House

me, sort of outbursting

Poetry should not consist of cyber Tupperware parties, where "how wonderful" resounds amid clinking teacups of dubious discernment. Nor should poetry consist of jazzy, aesthetically immune readings in front of a microphone. Nor should poetry that is not wondrous poetry be published by editors of small and large presses.

I'm just not that interested.

But I will be patient with poems of a certain character -- those that at least remember traces of highest sensibility. Poems that have as their background the informing power of Lorca, Pavese, Milosz, Szymborska, Tranströmer, the young Kaminsky. Poems that are groping toward exemplary criteria: written art as a circumstance of the extraordinary.

I simply don't "get" poems that are indifferent to the aesthetic imperative. To that mode of saying in which craft and consciousness move within an environment of dark beauty and astonishing metaphor.

For me, poetry is at its best as a reaction to the mystery of phenomena, the eyes of others, the dreams of memory, and the implausible fact of being.

Outburst concluded.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Franck Violin Sonata (1st movement)

a vision

Sometimes, I imagine I hear a male or female voice narrating a black and white documentary. The vague scene is of a city with a lot of people. The impression has such a meta quality about it that any god also viewing this would be bemused, almost hypnotized.

Maybe the voice is in a language I don't understand. It doesn't matter at all. The main thing is the sense that something is being said, in serious tone and cadence, about the odd complexity of all these people moving about in an unknown city. 

As if conclusions have been drawn and are now being communicated about the patterns manifesting. The sense that shattered pieces of phenomena and consciousness are being shifted around by an unseen, insentient, drunken magnet and are forming into a curious significance. Or maybe forming into a composite mood merely from my "looking" into the scene. A disinterested melancholy (so to speak).

Photograph: Alberto Incrocci/Getty Images

Monday, December 17, 2012

Barber's Violin Concerto

Brendel & Mozart

Der Erlkönig

It's understandable, after Sandy Hook and similar events, that people focus on instrumental, functional, societal responses. I also think Schubert (and Goethe) is justified, as an artist, in exploring or expressing the perennial macabre. Horror and death – the symbolic demon king of this lied – is always there, just off-stage. Our society of consumer spectacle, “progress,” and strange optimism tends to repress darker, ancient aspects of world as such. 

The Schuberts, Kafkas, and Celans bring to thought and feeling that other consideration: the irremediable tragic. The aesthetic realm can be a place where works shove aside narcissism, hedonism, and busyness, substituting instead a muted, subliminal shock of being. An expectation of horror as a slow catharsis beneath the waves of phenomena. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

that poem by Yael Tomashov-Hollander

I wrote about this poem a few months ago. I think about it often. Not only for its brilliant overall quality but also for the stunning impact of its last line. That denouement always sends a strange chill up my spine. When I read this poem's conclusion, remembered things and forgotten things collapse into an ineffable singularity.  


"Only, I don't believe in Apocalypses. I believe in Apocatastases. Apo-cata-stasis. What it means: 
1) Restoration, re-establishment, renovation. 2) Return to a previous condition.
3) (Astronomy) Return to the same apparent position, completion of a period of revolution"
Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean / Signal To Noise

I am remembering a record of a children's story. The swan freezes or is forgotten
or dies of loneliness. I am seven and the pain wounds me
each time it's played.

Summer is ending right now. A fan turns slowly,
propelling the air that's cooling outside the window.
The sound of a deep, distant thunder gargles above the city that darkened early,
I live one hour backward.
My rain forests are piling up on the table.
As long as I shall read them
I will not die.
The swan freezes or dies of loneliness
and I breathe shallow breaths, growing to a medium size
and kick the transparent door of actuality. Behind it is the blooming garden of emotions;
my little hell.
Maybe there was no swan. But something in that story got left behind
and Death sat with Autumn on the spinning vinyl disc
like two mice, silently.

Right now, summer is reaching its end. The fan keeps stubbornly
turning back the pages.
There, in the white condensed space before the first word,
an error.

from the book Unknown Sea  (2011)
Copyright © Yael Tomashov-Hollander
This poem translated from Hebrew by Shir Freibach

Friday, December 14, 2012

the second amendment

North Korea is not planning a Red Dawn invasion of the USA. The United Nations is not in league with aliens to abduct Americans and put in place a reptilian tyranny. President Obama is not going to release onto these shores a secret horde of Communist Kenyans.

The USA is not under any threat of invasion.

The second amendment, in my opinion, was put in place as a measure against possible invasion of a free state -- the free states, in coordination, having militias to repel militant trespass of our national sovereignty. A well regulated militia is each state's National Guard under direction of each state's governor. The Supreme Court's ruling to the contrary is stupid. The NRA is stupider.

Therefore, the only weapons ordinary citizens should legally own are:

1) single-shot .22 rifle for plinking or rabid varmints.

2) single-shot .12 gauge for home protection.

3) longbow and arrows for hunting game.

4) pair of black-powder dueling pistols for settling honorable disputes.

That should cover it. Case closed.

on an uncanny plane

I like poems written within a certain context. Poems emerging from a peculiar shape of consciousness. That context and shape will have this refined quality: historical mood blended into aesthetic imperative. In the quiet background of such poems will be surreal catastrophe and migration, as well as the music of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler. Those poems will be subtly haunted by the millennial dead and displaced, as well as by the graceful cadences of ballet, the obsessive auras of paintings, and the tragic contours of sculpture.

Regardless of theme, such a poem will speak and flow on an uncanny plane. 


Commonplace miracle: 
that so many commonplace miracles happen. 

An ordinary miracle: 
in the dead of night 
the barking of invisible dogs. 

One miracle out of many: 
a small, airy cloud 
yet it can block a large and heavy moon. 

Several miracles in one: 
an alder tree reflected in the water, 
and that it's backwards left to right 
and that it grows there, crown down 
and never reaches the bottom, 
even though the water is shallow. 

An everyday miracle: 
winds weak to moderate 
turning gusty in storms. 

First among equal miracles: 
cows are cows. 

Second to none: 
just this orchard 
from just that seed. 

A miracle without a cape and top hat: 
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it: 
today the sun rose at three-fourteen 
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be: 
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers, 
it still has more than four. 

A miracle, just take a look around: 
the world is everywhere. 

An additional miracle, as everything is additional: 
the unthinkable 
is thinkable. 

Wislawa Szymborska
(translated by Joanna Trzeciak)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Phoenician revelry

[caution -- archaic theme ahead in loping cadence]

Through this grove of sacred oaks,
we chant to old and lusty gods.
We chant to Baal returned to spring.

On broken paths of moss and stone,
our zithers strum the ghosts of wind.
We strum to Baal returned to spring.

By bleeding brook of tuskéd boar,
we lithely dance and fling our vows.
We dance to Baal returned to spring.

At temple pyre of awe and sparks,
we drink the mandrake unto dreams.
We drink to Baal returned to spring.

We chant and strum and dance and drink
upon this altared night of Canaan.
Gods come back in smoke and stone,
but we will fade on moons of time.

~ TB

 Baal Ugarit (Louvre) 

Friday, December 7, 2012

great poetry

Great poetry creates a radical tangent to functional consciousness. Poems written within the milieu of functional consciousness -- school, type, concept, program, manifesto, responsibility, outreach -- will not be great poems. A great poem is a wild thing, and stubbornly unique. A great poem takes place in a region just beyond conventional ego and societal structure, is always an opening, is visionary.

Too much can't be said about the aspect of opening. Somehow, a great poet finds a way to make lines that defy the physics of terrestrial saying. A thousand ghosts of language, memory, and meaning are heretical transparencies that haunt a great poem's stanzas. As you read, the world expands into peculiar dimensions. How a great poet manages to do this using concrete images is beyond my comprehension. A great poet somehow opens spaces between the words -- intervening volumes where wonder floats. An opening in which spiritual suggestiveness arcs. A power of evocation.

Two aspects occur to me: restraint and disjuncture. In those rare poems, I find a lack of too much; in other words, minimalism conjures more than many words. And I find a quality of cleavage; in other words, from one line to another, expectation is startled, semantic flow subtly and artistically broken. For me, both of those aspects are conditions of opening.

A great poem seems akin to a miracle, and rare (almost doesn't exist). Coming upon a great poem, the reader experiences and begins to appreciate a shock to the system. One is swept into a discriminating perspective, becomes an involuntary yet dedicated snob. Henceforth, poems that are not great are trials to one's patience. The altered consciousness becomes addicted to high strangeness, to aesthetic marvels.

I'm not capable of writing a great poem, but I somehow know one when I read one.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

the poetry of Tadeusz Różewicz

Here's a couple of links about this poet:

The Virginia Quarterly Review

Here's two poems (translated by Adam Czerniawski):

A Visit  

I couldn't recognize her
when I came in here
just as well it's possible
to take so long arranging these flowers
in this clumsy vase

'Don't look at me like that'
she said
I stroke the cropped hair
with my rough hand
'they cut my hair' she says
'look what they've done to me'
now again that sky-blue spring
begins to pulsate beneath the transparent
skin of her neck as always
when she swallows tears

why does she stare like that
I think I must go
I say a little too loudly

and I leave her,
a lump in my throat

The Return

Suddenly the window will open
and Mother will call
it's time to come in

the wall will part
I will enter heaven in muddy shoes

I will come to the table
and answer questions rudely

I am all right leave me
alone. Head in hand I
sit and sit. How can I tell them
about that long
and tangled way.

Here in heaven mothers
knit green scarves

flies buzz

Father dozes by the stove
after six days' labour.

No--surely I can't tell them
that people are at each
other's throats.

Szymanowski's VIOLIN CONCERTO No. 1

Oberek -- arranged for string orchestra


Grażyna Bacewicz performing her composition Oberek (I think it's her, it looks like her -- but I don't know the Polish language introducing the piece):

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kempff and Liszt

The Paris Review (or...the hell of boring people)

It's been quite a long time since I checked out The Paris Review online. I checked it out this morning, and my brain almost died on the stem.

I somehow ended up there, to read an essay about friendship. That was an incoherent and boring essay. But I went ahead and pulled up some other categories while there -- on music, on poetry, on cinema, nostalgia, my literary hero, etc.

I thought that first essay must have been a one-off specimen of dullness. So I was unprepared to discover that everything else I pulled up to read at The Paris Review was also mind numbing, vapid, pretentious. It was almost frightening to witness such a uniformity of intellectual shallowness. As if this journal is the hive into which dubious bees form a collective sensibility, depositing their anemic written pollen.

The complacent tone of these articles is unnerving.

Of course, there are many other categories listed there, many articles I did not check out. Maybe somewhere inside that journal are things that might be interesting. But of the 30 or so things I glanced through -- zero. The statistical probability is not encouraging.

Who am I to find that stuff boring? Who am I to criticize? Those writers are, apparently, important essayists. They got published in The Paris Review. I am not an important essayist, not even a published or publishable writer. But good-freaking-grief! I somehow trust my judgement regarding what is interesting and well written. The stuff I read or glanced through at The Paris Review -- the topics are not compelling to me and the prose does not spark.

Apparently unbeknownst to me, a certain type of "literary" mind has grown and spread like a vast acreage of fungus. It is painful to encounter this generic fungal sensibility. It is hurtful to read prose written without imagination, flair, depth. It is unpleasant to read things by droning, diaristic pseudo-intellectuals.

The horror! The horror!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

the Kodaly String Quartet

a war elegy...and something else

Prokofiev said this symphony is about the tragedy of WWII. I can hear that. But I think it has some other dimensions as well.

This music is an aural location for a particular spirit of aesthetics. That location -- that sounding moment -- is distinct from spaces of meaning and artistry existing especially now. Whatever our present general aesthetic, it is unlike that earlier phase of being, circa 1948. Back then, the spirit of the times was a curiouser thing. Besides visceral memories of the war years that shade into a darkening surrealism, another quality was in the air, so to speak. A nostalgia for the fin de siècle. Today, we are farther (metaphysically) from that turn of the century. We are displaced from those ways of consciousness, those attitudes of art.

Prokofiev was nine years old at the end of the century. Those early years of a boy or girl are impressionable ones. Beauty was extant and vivid. It affected ways of being. Tchaikovsky's music still lived in the special atmosphere of Prokofiev's adolescence. An aesthetic depth and expansiveness of spirit from that time lives on in Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6.

The most audacious art opens a new door into the old House of Beauty.

This is music of Fantasy, Melancholy, and Belles-Lettrs.

The fantastic is allowed to breathe when one takes three steps sideways out of the trancing circle  of the everyday. Then, the hidden spirits of things leave their prisons of matter, to blend with a dreaming human consciousness. This is music, the real thing.

The melancholic aspects of time are given voice and gesture in certain music. Some of us are sustained, even somehow justified by the beauty of melancholy. Our own spirits are freed by this music, and they go out of us to bond with a sadness on the disappearing edge of a symphonic phrase. We live within an aura of death, and certain (older) music conveys that poetic reality, sympathizes with our condition, expresses a catharsis of waiting.

This symphony is also like the lost art of letter-writing. Once upon a time, two souls exchanged works of missive art. Themes and dreams were developed with an older rhythm, a deep unfolding. Not simply reportage, those letters were confessions of how time and space are colored by unusual impressions. This symphony is like a long letter written to us by Prokofiev, a letter in which fantasy, melancholy, and beauty condition even a tragic aural document.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm all ears

Valery Gergiev is one of my favorite conductors.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

deeper than postmodernism

The real is always just beyond us. We exist in perennial lag-time. Some acquiesce in paranoiac solids -- religion, politics, economics, science, historiography, social convention. Or float postmodernist theories about those things. Others (a few) keep trying to arc toward the misting real, keep trying to touch the outside with a dreaming, aesthetic gesture. Those others are the poets.

I just heard and saw... unusual thing in the frosty early breeze. 

Small groups of crisp brown sycamore leaves were swirling on the ground. One or two leaves would swerve away from their spiraling group to join the communal gestures of another group. Two or three groups, in turning and leaning activity, always sending off drunken emissaries or secret agents to blend into other moving enclaves.

The sense of animation, sentience, dance was marked and eerie. As if some living tribal spirit had infected these dead skittering forms.

"Reading Aloud" -- Ilya Repin

I shanghaied this image from Biblioklept

Friday, November 23, 2012

a piano the prism...

...refracting the unusual Scriabin.

concerning 'Pataphysics

Here's the link to a review of the book 'Pataphysics: A Useless Guide --

Back in the seventies, I got hooked on the band Pere Ubu. I got curious, and because of that band I did some research. I found out about Alfred Jarry. That dovetailed nicely with my appreciation of a book I had read a year or two previously -- A Night of Serious Drinking by Rene Daumal, who was a pataphysicist.

I also appreciate how Jarry influenced and enriched the arts and literature of Modernism and beyond. But...his anti-system is still a system. A totalizing form of being, despite its claim of absurdist granularity, its stance of alienation from all types of normality.

As I age, I grow more aloof from my earlier attraction to schemes of existential darkness. I'm still a somewhat dark being, but rather than acquiesce in allures of nihilism and surreal revolt, I've arrived at a different station of attitude. I choose to seek venues of beauty (yes, even dark and strange beauties) as antidote to creeping cosmic nothingnesses. As a personal way of reaction to persistent strains of normality that the pataphysicists also strove against.

Yes, I count 'Pataphysics as one of many versions of nihilism. To me, it is another circumscription instead of a freeing or an opening. I've just grown weary of the negative as artform. That's why I have no use for the films of Tarantino -- violence for entertainment's sake. Even the widely celebrated Godfather movies are repellent to me. I have no use for the filmic glorification of cheap thugs, warped souls. But I'm drifting from my topic. Sorry.

Back to Jarry. And back to beauty.

Settling on the absurd is a kind of living death. However oppressive and constrictive the conventional, choosing to live inside a manifesto doesn't strike me as revolutionary enough. Jarry and his attitudinal descendants were, I think, as much anti-beauty as anti-convention. How much beauty -- how much of aesthetic substance -- can one find in the poetry of the Beats? Not very much, I think. But why beauty?

Art, music, dance, and literature (especially poetry) can be vehicles of exploration beyond the confining gists of absurdism and the concretions of irony. Aesthetic attitude is a tunnel of light boring through not only the granite of normality but also of giddy anti-systems and anti-attitudes.

A dream is a fully free thing. It continually opens onto ungoverned prospects. And so does the aesthetic attitude. Beauty is a wakeful dreaming into alternative reality. Beethoven, Van Gogh, Bruno Schulz, the Bolshoi Ballet, Tomas Tranströmer -- here can be found ways of living in which aesthetic moments become stranger, deeper than any surrealism and any irony.

I would like to dream that the aesthetic is an echo of something eternal and essential. That anything exists at all a kind of aesthetic determination or expression coming from who-knows-where. And even if it's simply a finite human gesture, it's a gesture of peculiar light and not laughing night.

Diana Butto on CNN

I just saw her interviewed. She's a Palestinian legal analyst. She's either stupid or a liar. She doesn't appear to be stupid.

She kept saying that for there to be peace Israel must end its occupation of Gaza. Israel has not occupied Gaza for years.

It is counterproductive and even incendiary to accuse Israel of an occupation of Gaza. Dianna Butto has, for me, no credibility as an honest evaluator of events and conditions in the Middle East.

Why would the CNN anchor interviewing her allow the untrue phrase "occupation of Gaza" go unchallenged?

my daughter saw Lincoln

I asked my daughter if she enjoyed watching Daniel Day-Lewis. She said, "I didn't get to see him at all. What I saw was Abraham Lincoln, right before my eyes."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I don't know...

...what orchestra this is or who the conductor. But the orchestra plays with involvement and sympathy. The conductor paces with a tempo that encourages lilting rhythms.

Schubert's German Dance No. 1

an interview with the very talented Paul Lewis

me just standing there...

...for no good reason and without a thought in my head.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A poem...

...should aspire to the condition of Beethoven's music -- spiritual and aesthetic, open and searching, mysterious yet ineffably familiar.

I give you...Ilya Kaminsky.

You can read his remarkable poem "A Toast" here:

Tupelo Press

Monday, November 19, 2012

a description of Hamas

From the Council on Foreign Relations:


I'm not being incendiary or ideological when I state the following sober fact:

a coastal enclave, wishing to become a sovereign country, is going to have big problems if it is culturally and politically committed to the destruction of another country.

Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

Keep that basic social, religious, and military fact in mind during the current conflict.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Listen!... the wonderful Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

In Beethoven

In Bartók

Friday, November 16, 2012

the touch of a book

This article is about the difference between reading a physical book and reading an electronic book:

"Out of Touch"

from the article:

"The book’s graspability, in a material as well as a spiritual sense, is what endowed it with such immense power to radically alter our lives. In taking hold of the book, according to Augustine, we are taken hold of by books."

Lost in Dreams -- Friedrich von Amerling

Because we exist...

...certain thinkers try to think into the abstract structures of the situation -- of the ontological everydayness. They apparently think it can be described and explained. Maybe it can. Maybe the French postmodernist philosophers were onto something. Maybe their descriptions and explanations are accurate, more or less.

Of course, those French thoughts might not be accurate, but 
only fascinating:

"Delight at having understood a very abstract and obscure system leads most people to believe in the truth of what it demonstrates."

-- G.C. Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799)

The "textualness" of books, personality, and circumstance may indeed be amorphous and infinitely deferential. Something called "Event" may be eruptively efficacious in patterning great turns of time within abstract being. Contextualizing arenas of action and change may shed unexpected light. Social psychoanalysis may yield groovy ways for looking at the problem of identity. Critiques of power relations may tell us about general attitudes and systems of value. Semiotics may point to the elusiveness of any conceptual solids in our discourse.

Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Badiou, Lacan, Baudrillard...fine. Go ahead and think your stuff to the max. It's entertaining to read and ponder odd and original views of the world.


at some freaking point, I think it would be a truer thing to replace the word that floats their thinking -- "abstract" -- with a different word -- "mystical."

So what would we gain by a mere word substitution? Probably not much. But just as Heidegger danced around none too nimbly trying to avoid the mystical implications of his own work, I think it would be more honest and more succinct for the French to cut to the chase: consciousness finds itself always and at every ontological location enmeshed not in intertextual patterns or reified ramifications but in the chronic impossible.

That's the rub of it. Being is best describable and explainable as a massive paradox. 

I keep wondering about what those French guys have said. Why in the world do they spend so much time being profound and arcane? What practical (existential) thing results from the dark rooms of thought where they develop their abstract pictures of reality?

The problem of mortality trumps the problem of thinking. Being death-haunted makes the student in the Lycée lecture hall grow impatient, fidgety. "Speak to me of why, not of what," she says to the French professor who thinks reality is contained inside language and abstruse prolixity.

Something is surely going on with all this human existing stuff. I'm just not sure it is accurate or aesthetically satisfying to account for it in terms of postmodernist abstraction.  It seems to me there is something that remains yet hidden (mysterious) behind our best attempts to map phenomena onto a coherent plane of deep thinking.

It's not just the French guys. There's also Slavoj Žižek, the Slovene. Inside his strange reality bubble, we bounce around trying to dodge the anti-matter particles of his contrariety. Those elusive particles eventually agglomerate into political shapes. But politics is a form of sleep, of normalizing trance. The true radical is the one silently screaming toward the mystic abyss. 

What do I mean by "mystic"? Not sure exactly. But maybe something like this: what is not possible has nevertheless found a way within the sentient doldrums of a dreaming Holism.

Does anything practical (existential) result from such an intuition? Not in the normal sense. Rather it offers a perspective in which the organic, the inorganic, and all the laws of process are imbued with traces of an old and weary magic. In such a milieu of the holographic uncanny, it behooves us to have compassion for all other drifting and tragic spells of being. 

The Sensitive Layer -- Yves Tanguy

Gergiev on Szymanowski

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Shepherd on the Rock

Consider (if you wish) the melody of this. And the indescribable beauty of Elly Ameling's soprano. Also remarkable is the evocative mood of this lied.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"The Noble Rise Above"

This is a poem by William Crawford, read aloud by me (mispronouncing "centimes"):

The Noble Rise Above

the first time
Coltrane played Paris
the French booed
and threw copper centimes
at him

Coltrane just
closed his eyes
raw oceans gentling

and listened to
the sound of pennies
tapping the wood
of the stage

it reminded him
of rain falling down
onto the tin roof
of his first home

Coltrane mimicked
that sound with his horn
then quoted
Pennies from Heaven
for safe measure.

Copyright © 2012, William Crawford

-- from his new book of poems Actual Tigers (Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House)


Friday, November 9, 2012

hallucinatory music

I listen to this, and I can't explain to myself what is happening inside my imagination. Except to say that it's as if I slip off-world or off-time into some realm of mythic dream.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barney Fife -- genius of the possible

We all liked to watch Barney and Andy back in the early 1960s.

Poor Barney. All around him was the languor of static Mayberry. He could not be still, though. He wanted something to always be happening. He wanted to make something happen. Sure, his schemes and eruptions of nervous energy led to hilarious and preposterous circumstances.

But Barney wanted something to happen. Barney could not sit still while the clock of being ticked sluggishly through the molasses of normality, the dullness of tradition.

In that sleepy town of Mayberry, Barney Fife -- conjurer of sheer situation, impresario of revolutionary theater -- pried open moments onto event, expanded metaphysical space for absurd possibility.

Barney -- heroic jester, tragic agitator!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

you can read a certain book...

...right now inside the ethersphere, with no muss or fuss, at Google Books:

In the Pale: Stories and Legends of the Russian Jews
by Henry Iliowizi, 1900

The introduction -- "A Word to the Reader" -- is interesting to me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

on the eve of the War Between the States

I wrote this song, and the cool-as-heckfire Robin Willhite plays lead guitar.

I'm posting it in case anyone might be interested in my take on the antebellum era and auguries of catastrophic upheaval.

Gathering Storm

There’s talk in town from the livery to saloon
Just last night, somebody saw a blood spot on the moon
And two counties over it was rumored that three dogs went mad
They put ‘em down with charm salt but those folk’s luck still gone bad
Well, this morning in the pine pews at Calvary Church
The womenfolk were nervous, the sermon unrehearsed
And the newspaper front page spoke of a Mr. John Brown
When they hanged him in Virginia, he wore an abolition frown

There’s a gathering storm
From the North to the South
Swirling with vengeance
There’s thunder in them clouds
That gathering storm
From the Wild West to the East
Is coming like a locomotive 
Engineered by a hellish beast 

‘Ol Sassafras Sassoon was hunting down in Snakebite Hollow
Said he found a dead angel and his tobacco he did swallow
Said that angel was a dire omen of consequence to come
Said he got down on his knees and prayed after a shot of sweet rum
Well, there’s fussing and fighting in the Jenkins household
Tommy told his pappy no man or woman should ever be sold
Pappy said Ham from the bible, he was to blame 
So Tom bought a ticket one way bound on the first northern train

Don’t you feel that gathering storm
Something’s wrong with the weather
A gathering storm is moving
Over the cowering heather
That gathering storm
Gonna shake our sycamore trees
There’s lightning in the firmament
And it’s aimed at you and me

Don’t you feel that gathering storm
From N’Orleans to Arkansas 
Casting a great big shadow
Like a sharp black bear claw 
A gathering storm
From Mississippi to New York
That gathering storm
Gonna rain down pitchforks

That gathering storm
From the North to the South
Swirling with vengeance 
There’s thunder in them clouds
A gathering storm
Hear the nevermore ravens sing
All the hosts of heaven 
And hell are shivering

the Gothic Rangers

a Bruno Schulz letter

My next book will be a volume composed of four stories. The subject, as always, is insignificant and difficult to summarize. For my own use I have several names that convey nothing. For example, the theme of one of the stories bears a title borrowed from Jokai's "Marsz za porte-épée"—I really don't know how to describe the theme before the contents crystallize. The real subject matter, the ultimate raw material that I find in myself without any interference of will, is a certain dynamic state, completely "ineffabilis" and totally incommensurate with poetic means. Even so, it has a very definite atmosphere, indicating a specific kind of content that grows out of it and is layered upon it. The more this intangible nucleus is "ineffabilis" the greater its capacity, the sharper its tropism and the stronger the temptation to inject it into matter in which it could be realized. For example, the first seed of my story "Birds" [inCinnamon Shops] was a certain flickering of the wallpaper, pulsating in a dark field of vision—nothing more. That flickering had however great potential content, enormous possibilities for representation, a quality of ancientness, a demand or claim to express the world itself. The first germ of "Spring" was the image of a stamp album, radiating from the center of vision, winking with unheard-of power of allusion, attacking with a load of content one may conjecture. This state, however poor in content, gives me the feeling of inevitability, a sanction for imagining, certainty of the legality of the entire process. Without this basis, I would be given over to doubt, I would have the feeling it was all a bluff, that what I create is arbitrary and false. At the moment I am drawn to increasingly inexpressible themes. Paradox, the tension between their vagueness and their evanescence and their universal claim, their aspiration to represent "everything" is the most powerful creative stimulus. I don't know when these stories will be ready for print. An inability to take advantage of bits and scraps of time forces me to set aside their completion until vacation. 

-- from the Schulz biography Regions of the Great Heresy by Jerzy Ficowski 

crackling with deep electricity

Imagination is the spark and flame of energy propelling a work into pronounced aesthetic and spiritual life. It's a rare literary aptitude. Hardly anything has that dark and wondrous current running through it. So many novels, stories, and poems -- they are so boring and so self-important that your reading brain becomes an entropic mass of congealed literary disappointment.

Bruno Schulz wrote a thing that is almost beyond belief -- The Street of Crocodiles.

As you read it, you enter the infinity of imagination, the realm of aesthetic wonder. This book is one of the marvels of literature.

A large part of me has been shanghaied or absconded into that partly real, partly fantastic Polish town of Drohobych.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a feathered Legend

The Swan of Tuonela -- by Sibelius

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Imaginary Conversations" by poet Jen Pezzo

Jen's new book of poems has been released by Poet's Haven Press.

There's a complex sensibility living in these poems: Cheshire smiles, spirit states, and erotic whispers.

As writer Mary Turzillo says: "And exciting collection for romantics and cynics alike."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

ANNUNCIATION - András Jeles (1984)

Hungarian filmmaker András Jeles made this film. The excerpt above projects a strangeness. I watch it and then ask myself: how is it that we human beings are not perpetually stunned to discover ourselves as minds in time and space, as spiritual substance amid phenomena, as unique experiencers of desire and event?

what a poem can do and mean

How could I not post this poem by Emily Dickinson?

There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
'Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I guess 60 changes a guy

I recently experienced my 20 x 3 birthday. And it seems my perspective or attitude on some things is shifting, modifying.

Here's an article about George Steiner:

"George Steiner, Last of the Europeans"

I have these books by Steiner and enjoyed reading them over the years:

And this book of essays about Steiner:

So.......what is it that changed with me?

I still admire Steiner's writings. He's an impressive literary and culture critic. My general assessment: Steiner is an advocate for high culture as a kind of divine immanence. Art, music, and literature (especially literature) are bridges between the phenomenal and the possible transcendent. The Holocaust, for him as for me, is a thing of great temporal wounding -- time itself and its speaking through language have been permanently altered, made equivocal and dark. (Those who continue blathering out their postmodern novels and ego-saturated poems are oddly oblivious to how dimensions of being have been distorted by the industrial slaughter of Jews.)

For quite a while, I was sympathetic to Steiner's basic form of sensibility. There's probably a bunch of my essayic ramblings on this blog that echo Steiner's thought. For me, high culture was a weave of meaning that I thought could be discerned in the world. Made life worth living.'s all beginning to go strange on me. Steiner's mandarin intellection, his brilliant observance of literary associations and allusions, his hypnotically elegant writing style -- all these are maybe only apparent and not actual excavations and examples of deep meaning.

How has human life as such been elevated and made more humane by high culture? At this moment, I can't think of an answer. And Steiner's diffuse, balletic incantations have, so far as I know, conjured no god from the silence behind language or from the absence behind appearance.

I'm afraid that George Steiner (me, too) writes a lot of merely elegiac, effusive stuff. A wreathing of serious-sounding words around a metaphysical void. It strikes me now that Steiner's writing is perhaps more language-as-musical-affect than language-as-semantical-effect.

I guess 60 changes a guy.