Thursday, October 31, 2013

Writing that is boring...

...should be banished to the marshes of Tunguska.

There's a difference between mere expression and real literature.

Only the marvelous, the wondrous, the living, the refined should be written. Never the boring, the anemic, the hip, the blah-blah-blah.

from a Poe poem

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

this fellow needs looking into

Julio Cortázar

1914 - 1984

To capture the illusory, to capture the fragility of the usual relations between elements of reality. (Me slightly altering a Google-translated thing I found about the author.)

Some of his books:

may a ghost tonight make you hysterical

One of my poems from my ebook In Lieu of Opium:

soirée macabre

Let's all touch goblets of nightshade and drink.
Sing to shocked moons hung with bad poetry.
We're already ghosts, don't dread All Soul's Night.
Why argue the treats tricking from great delusions?

Lock arms with lucky imps and skate on thin ice,
where winds catch throes of all peevish caution.

Mingle and mix and dance if you can.
If you can't then dance more furiously!

Dash pocket watches down on gravestones.
Bother and startle and wake timeless sleepers.

Everything trembles with uncertain waiting.
We're already dead and don't even know it.
Float on this night like moods of old martyrs. 
Fill up your goblets till fear staggers laughing!

Once each year, it's good to drink nightmares
and scream at the bones beneath our strange skin.

two dead guys

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

time is crazy-weird

This -- from Gurdjieff's book Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson -- is very strange, almost impossible to interpret, therefore it makes much more sense than physicists' opinions about the nature or essence of time:
Only Time alone has no sense of objectivity because it is not the result of the fractioning of any definite cosmic phenomena. And it does not issue from anything, but blends always with everything and becomes self-sufficiently independent; therefore, in the whole of the Universe, it alone can be called and extolled as the ’Ideally-Unique-Subjective-Phenomenon.’ 
Thus, my boy, uniquely Time alone, or, as it is sometimes called, the ‘Heropass,’ has no source from which its arising should depend, but like ‘Divine-Love’ flows always, as I have already told you, independently by itself, and blends proportionately with all the phenomena present in the given place and in the given arisings of our Great Universe.


Here's an article on the "poet" Billy Collins:

"Why Billy Collins Is America’s Most Popular Poet"

If you scroll through the comments, you'll find this one by "mentalship":
I have not read any of Collin's work but after reading this article it will be a long time before I do. One of the reasons I love poetry is the  subjective relativity when reading poetry. I want my reading to be a personal experience and watch the meaning and unfolding of the words to resemble the blossoming of a flower. I don't want to read poetry as graffiti in a pisssy smelling subway car. 
I don't need to hear about my mortality as if it were a subliminal message; I know about death as an 18 year old grunt in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet offensive. To me this is condescending and gives his humorous tomes a weak spine of fatal reality. I think this guys stuff could be termed as pop poetry and I'm not going to waste my time on the media drooling over the number of books he sells. 
I may be totally wrong about his tomes but he seems to be arrogantly content with his Poetry for Dummies. To mention him in the same sentence with Frost is so very wrong. I think I'll bypass this particular writing and stay with those who use their blood as ink.

Sometimes you don't need to read. Sometimes you just know. Sometimes stuff sends out an announcing wave or vibe ahead of itself, and it's obvious: "These poems will be banal." Amen, brother!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


From Nina Berberova's The Italics Are Mine:

Then the door of the study was opened, and Merezhkovsky came into the dining room. I never heard him speak of anything that wasn't interesting. Gippius often asked, when speaking of people:
'But is he interested in what's interesting?'

Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky 
1866 - 1941 

Zinaida Nikolaevna Gippius
1869 - 1945

two poems by Vladislav Khodasevich

1886 - 1939

if I ever gave a physics lecture

The opposite of the curvature of space is what happens when Einstein accelerates while running sideways.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Italics Are Mine

I like to read good books. I like that kind of book you can lose yourself in. The kind you can disappear into, become part of another time and another world.

There are many wonderful passages in this autobiography by Nina Berberova (1901 - 1993). I'll just post here the latest paragraph that struck me, as I continue to read this book. It begins on page 165 with a mention of Pavel Muratov and then segues into an impression of the theater:  

He was a frequent guest at our place. There was a time when he came every evening. He liked it when I sewed beneath the lamp (there is something about this in his story 'Scheherazade', dedicated to me). In Khodasevich's notes his name often appears in succession -- with Boris Pasternak or Nikolai Otsup or Bely. I lived with him through my strongest theatrical experiences of the time: Pierrette's Veil, in which Chabrov appeared, and Princess Turandot (in Vakhtangov's production that visited Berlin). Chabrov was an actor and mime of genius; I can refer to him in no other way, his magic and great, sparkling talent were exceptional. Fedorova (later to become mentally ill) played with him, and Samuil Vermel played Pierrot. I remember even now every detail of this striking spectacle -- nothing has impressed me so much as this Veil -- not Mikhail Chekhov in Strindberg, Jean-Louis Barrault in Molière, Zacconi in Shakespeare, Anna Pavlova as the Dying Swan, Ljuba Welitsch in Salomé. When Chabrov and Fedorova danced the polka in the second act, and the dead Pierrot appeared on the little balcony (Columbine does not see him, but Harlequin already knows that Pierrot is there), I understood for the first time (and forever) what real theatre is; and even now a shudder goes up my spine when I remember the Schnitzler pantomime performed by these three actors. Such theatre does something to the spectator, changes us, affects our later life and thought; becomes a kind of sacrament, swallowed and assimilated. The second recollection -- Vakhtangov's production, is less strong: there was more of the actual show and less of the irrational shudder. We also more than once sat in the tavern Zum Patzenhoffer with Chabrov -- he was a friend of Bely's (and at one time of Scriabin's).

Knopf, 1992 

"The eloquent testimony of a doomed artistic generation, captured as indelibly as it is in Nabokov's fiction."--The Boston Globe

Friday, October 25, 2013

Akhmatova's poems...

...are written with concrete images that go deep into the reader, stimulating the reader's imagination. This is not accident; this is art. Though an Acmeist and not a Symbolist, Akhmatova wrote with images that, for me, implicitly point to the metaphysical behind the phenomenal. After all, language is a symbolic emanation from experience. A carefully calibrated image-in-words evokes the mysterious qualities latent in language and object. This is not accident; this is art.

another Akhmatova poem


Tallest, suavest of us, why Memory, 
forcing you to appear from the past, pass 
down a train, swaying, to find me 
clear profiled through the window-glass? 
Angel or bird? How we debated! 
The poet thought you like translucent straw. 
Through dark lashes, your eyes, Georgian, 
looking, with gentleness, on it all. 
Shade, forgive. Blue skies, Flaubert, 
Insomnia, late-blooming lilac flower, 
bring you, and the magnificence of the year, 
nineteen-thirteen, to mind, and your 
unclouded temperate afternoon, memory 
difficult for me now – Oh, shade!

an Akhmatova poem

How can you bear to look at the Neva? 
How can you bear to cross the bridges?
Not in vain am I known as the grieving one 
Since the time you appeared to me. 
The black angels' wings are sharp, 
Judgment Day is coming soon, 
And raspberry-colored bonfires bloom, 
Like roses, in the snow.


a Blok poem

Life slowly moved like a mature fortune teller 
Mysteriously whispering forgotten words. 
I sighed, regretting something , loss, or failure, 
My head was filled with dreams of other worlds. 
As I approached the fork I stopped to stare 
At the serrated forest by the road. 
By force of some volition , even there 
The heaven seemed to be a heavy load. 
And I remembered the untold and hidden reason 
For captured power of youth and captured hopes, 
While up ahead the fading day of season, 
Was gilding the serrated verdure tops… 
Spring, tell me, what do I regret? What failure? 
What are the dreams that come into my head? 
My life, like a mature fortune teller, 
Is whispering the words I did forget. 

March 16th, 1902 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

those old dead Greek guys

All those old dead Greek guys -- they must have been smoking something powerful while they lounged on marble steps. 

The ideas emerging from their heads were preposterous and shockingly brilliant, like bolts of lightning into a darkened sea.

The word "epiphany" is too soft sounding. Some other word is required, something fractal and jagged and language-exploding. 

Since then, it's been mere elaboration, billions of words lacking the luster and sizzle of that originary voltage. 

All those old dead Greeks guys -- wow! And that briefly extended moment of the truly extraordinary! The move from here-we-are to what-the-hell seems like trespass across a hidden and illicit threshold. Some drunken god must have been dozing, had let down his guard.

What it must have seemed like to them is beyond my imagination. To have first glimpsed or brushed up against the possibility of the real. The quality and texture of that first trespass or immersion as a never-to-be-repeated experience.  

I'm less concerned with the substance of their thought than with the poetry of those brilliant arching moments. To have moved from the Greek into the Freak. Yes, moments like bolts of lightning that shattered the surface of a dreaming sea of consciousness. 

Surely, Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Parmenides went on to write some weird, surreal poems that haven't been recovered.

Yes, the Axial Age also saw Indians and Chinese being profound and stuff. But for me, they weren't as intriguingly odd as those Greeks.

Those old dead Greek guys -- what can I say?  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Occasionally, I entertain...

...the almost serious thought of buying an Old West doctor's satchel. I would dump out the frightening instruments and stuff it with socks, underwear, a change of clothes, and a toothbrush. I would take a bus to New York City. I would walk around the city and engage all kinds of people in impromptu conversations. I would look at stuff. I would try to look like a city person so I wouldn't get arrested. I would then return to Arkansas and put my New York adventures into poems. Those poems would be thoroughly bizarre. Not because New York is bizarre per se, but because the whole experience would be surreal in my head. At my age, getting lost in the Strange becomes increasingly important for some reason.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I keep thinking about the lad Borishka and his great bronze bell down in Tarkovsky's clay-casting fire pit. His father had died before telling him the secret of bellmaking. So he proceeded according to trial and error, instinct and intuition. An amazing chapter from Andrei Rublev, one of my favorite films.

Some dreams...

...are stranger than strange. At least that's my opinion. Those stranger-than-strange dreams are rare ones. How can I describe them? I'll probably make a mess of trying to describe them. But I'll proceed by the seat of my pants.

I suspect that we absorb more "data" than we realize. I think consciousness is a vast and baffling reservoir of collected experience and impressions. I think we know more subconsciously than we realize.


some rare dreams bring into "awareness" that hyper-subtle data we don't know is there when awake. Someone of our acquaintance will appear in a dream in a seemingly uncharacteristic way -- their mannerisms and reactions to your dreaming self contradict how we assumed their attitude toward us to be.

Is that merely crazy-quilt dream invention, sleeping paranoia? I suspect not. I suspect that is our deeper mind bringing to our sleeping mind a true image based on hyper-subtle information.

Someone who we think, when we're awake, has a favorable attitude toward us is revealed in the dream as having a contrary disposition toward us.

You wake up and can be quite hurt from this new realization. But then you can also marvel at the large aptitude and unexpected talent of your hidden mind.    

Monday, October 21, 2013

Proust's novel

An article about Proust. I like this paragraph especially:
Proust's novel is so unusually ambitious, so accomplished, so masterful in cadence and invention that it is impossible to compare it with anyone else's. He is unabashedly literary and so unapologetic in his encyclopedic range that he remains an exemplar of what literature can be: at once timeless and time bound, universal and elitist, a mix of uncompromising high seriousness with moments of undiminished slapstick.

a cool-ass quote

Stéphane Mallarmé described poetry and the Book (book per se) as "the Orphic explanation of the Earth."

Mallarmé and Souriau

An article on Stéphane Mallarmé. I like this paragraph:
In 1893, Paul Souriau penned the essay “La Suggestion dans l’art” (Suggestion in Art), which jibed with what Mallarmé was saying about the reading life at the same time. Souriau identified what he called “reading-hallucination,” which could send the reader into a state of reverie. He wrote as well of the “interior gaze” readers experience when the imagination is sparked: “We can even believe ourselves to have continued reading without interruption; but in these imperceptible intervals that have disrupted it, we have had the opportunity to cast a furtive glance from time to time to an imaginary world.”

Stéphane Mallarmé

Expression as such... not synonymous with or identical to the creation of an aesthetic object.

~ I said that, and I'm sticking by it.

Pure expression -- without craft and without sensitivity toward possible auditors -- often produces a less than aesthetic result. Beyond the affective, spiritual subtleties of the creative instinct and generative process comes the question of how the written object should manifest. A poem should be as dynamic, symbolic, and aesthetic as a Van Gogh painting or a Beethoven sonata. Be hallucinatory yet also possess a certain communicable, soulful coherency. A poem should be a paradox of unconscious freedom and conscious structure. The poet should possess a certain wondering and weird attitude toward language as such. The move into aesthetic crafting should be as serious as a toothache, the object produced be as haunted as a lost house and as remarkable as a fluorescent pelican.

After the waning of the Symbolists and after the collapse of influence of New Criticism, poetry has become, in my opinion, mostly wretched -- solipsistic and boring. The poem as formal blathering.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A thought about composer Dag Wirén...

...quivered through my consciousness this afternoon. So I found something on YouTube and then watched it.

fascinating stuff

A review by Anthony Grafton of David Nirenberg's book Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, which is about "imaginary Jews." An excerpt from the review:
Nirenberg’s lucid, searing narrative and analysis rest on extraordinarily wide reading, the contours of which are charted in his ample and informative notes. He never hesitates to take issue with authorities in many fields, and at times—as when he explains that “I intend no resonance with Jacob Taubes’s treatment of Romans”—his language has a touch of Carthago delenda est. But he conducts his arguments with a seriousness rare in our intellectual life, and vanishingly so in works of historical synthesis. Even when he piles paradox on paradox—as when he argues that Spinoza built the portrait of biblical Judaism in his Tractatus from the stockpile of materials that non-Jewish thinkers had created over the centuries—Nirenberg grounds his arguments in close reading of the texts and engages with the modern authorities whose interpretations he rejects.

W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Bravo, President Obama!

Those Republicans who shut down the government and threatened a massive credit default now stand thoroughly disgraced before the nation and the world. They got nothing for their shameful, reckless efforts.

Bravo, President Obama, for standing resolute.  

Right now, almost all Republicans (disclosing their misanthropy) are against the Affordable Care Act  Ten years from now, almost all Republicans will be for the Affordable Care Act. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I consider last night a success

I managed to have another of those dreams from which I wake up disturbingly enriched and wonderfully crestfallen. 

A car-traveling dream, always somewhere between east Texas and south Arkansas. Bogged down and disoriented in a strange town. Lost and frustrated. Can't find my way out of that town. 

Directions sought from sullen inhabitants lead nowhere. I consult the town's beautiful blond travel-agent oracle, who sits behind a desk on an elevated platform. She tries her smiling best to inject charts and information into my head, to no effect. Then wandering on foot through industrial precincts.

The way it all felt and seemed, the sense of an eternal dismal marooning -- it just doesn't get any better than this!

Edgar Allan Poet Journal #1 -- Official Book Release

EAP Journal #1 Official Book Release

Today is the day! The Edgar Allan Poet Journal #1 is now available for viewing free online & NOW IN PRINT ON AMAZON! This full color 8.5 x 11 collective of poetry prose & short stories is published in tribute to the writers of & the evolution of Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House.

Contributors Include:

Aunia Kahn, *Barbara Moore, Bill Friday, Cedric Drake, Dan Capriotti, Danny Baker, *David McIntire, Dom Gabrielli *E.L. Freifeld, Echoe Paul, Francesca Castaño, Gloria Wimberley, Greg Patrick, Ian Lennart Surraville, Jessica Ceballos, Jhon Baker, JR Phillips, Katie Bickell, *Lois Michal Unger, Marie Lecrivain, *Martin Willitts Jr., Michael Wayne Holland, Neil McCarthy, Niall Rasputin, Rich Follett, *Rick Stepp-Bolling, Samantha Ledger, Stephanie Bryant Anderson, Susan Botich, Thomas Kent, *Tim Buck, *William Crawford.

(*) EAP 2013 Award Nominees



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

O Fortuna

Elena Vaenga

Despite all this latter-day discrediting and whatever, you've got to hand it to Sigmund Freud. He paid attention when he read his Schopenhauer. He sussed out: the force that through the wild fuse drives the libido drives everything.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


After years of fretting and worrying about it, I've finally decided that David Oistrakh is my favorite violinist in the history of the cosmos. 

Heifetz, Milstein, and some others are up there, but Oistrakh, for me, is the human embodiment of violin musicality, which is distinct from talent and technique. It's something that inheres through deep cultural osmosis and aesthetic intuition. Oistrakh's Tchaikovsky happens in an artistic dimension almost beyond belief for me.

So it's settled now. I feel better. I can pick out something else to fret and worry about.

1908 - 1974

Gould & Mozart?

Ordinarily, I prefer the eccentric Gould in Bach only. His Bach mesmerizes me. But I stumbled across this (yes, eccentric) recording of the "Rondo Alla Turca" movement from Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major.

Ordinarily, this movement is played trippingly and with gusto. As if eunuchs trailing silk scarves were dancing up a delightful court pantomime. But here comes Gould! He slows it down. He plays it with a kind of funky swing. While listening to this, I discovered my shoulders bouncing up and down to the exotic strutting groove.

Sometimes, a reduction in tempo uncovers and releases inherent rhythm.

For some time...

...I've suspected there are books of a certain kind out there that I don't know about. I only know they must exist. Imagine my astonishment when such a book was delivered to me! The cover almost glowed faintly, gauzy, otherworldly. It somehow came to me from another world. I prefer not saying the title of this book. I'm superstitious and don't wish to break the spell of its presence. I'm going to live with this book as if born freshly into it or dreaming a long time within it. Things are indeed out there that have our names invisibly written on them. We wait with time, and they come.

Friday, October 11, 2013

13th Floor Elevators

I've been watching this video of Roky over and over. He later lost his mind and then later partly recovered it. But even back then -- before he went sideways -- look at him! 

There's something organically tragic moving on his face and posture. It's as if the question Why? had become human and didn't even know why it was asking itself itself. Roky has such hurting eyes.

This is officially one of my favorite YouTube things.

Roky is so colossally odd and alien cool.  

Such a beautiful tone...

...and sensitive interpretation.

Friday, October 4, 2013

a book about Ozu, Bresson, and Dreyer

I'm drawn to the title of this book and would not fling it aside if it appeared in my hands.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

a Fernando Pessoa poem I dig

"The Tobacco Shop" by Álvaro de Campos, a Fernando Pessoa heteronymn

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

For some reason...

...the following quote in an essay about Fernando Pessoa made me laugh and laugh:
In photographs the appearance is always the same, his face like a disguise picked up at a novelty shop: the big nose attached to the thick black glasses, the thin unsmiling lips almost concealed by a little moustache. The fedora, bowtie, and raincoat are likewise invariable, and the whole effect is of neutrality-of-being carried almost to the point of non-existence. Photographs seek to prove that we exist, but Pessoa appears to be trying to tamper with the evidence—an impression that wouldn’t be worth much, except that his writing ratifies it so completely.

I'm glad someone... bringing back that old fusion thing and giving it some new life.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

something happened today

I found out today that my poem "Blue Woman" has been nominated for the Pushcart Best of Small Press Awards by the editor of Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House.

article in

I'm honored by this.