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):