Friday, August 30, 2013

Stéphane Mallarmé

A book I would like to have.

New Directions

By the way, I really like the lay-out and color scheme of the New Directions website. It's classy -- an understated elegance.

a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A Vast Confusion

Long long I lay in the sands

Sounds of trains in the surf
in subways of the sea
And an even greater undersound
of a vast confusion in the universe
a rumbling and a roaring
as of some enormous creature turning
under sea and earth
a billion sotto voices murmuring
a vast muttering
a swelling stuttering
in ocean's speakers
world's voice-box heard with ear to sand
a shocked echoing
a shocking shouting
of all life's voices lost in night
And the tape of it
somehow running backwards now
through the Moog Synthesizer of time
Chaos unscrambled
back to the first
And the first light 


Released June 2013

New Directions

two lists for poets and writers

from New Pages

from Poets & Writers

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Destroy all creepy robots...

...before they......turn!

Lucid? -- probably not

I don't want to call nobody a tall tale teller, but it's time to put lucid dreaming snugly to bed. I'm as skeptical as a wildebeest at a muddy, crocky river crossing.

I've had one lucid dream. I was a young fellow. For a brief moment or two, I was aware that I was dreaming. That will mess with your head big time. Reality will shake and tilt for days afterwards.  

I think all the "lucid dreamers" out there are either exaggerating things or confusing modalities. Again, I don't want to call anyone a fibber -- if someone wishes to insist he's a lucid dreamer, go on ahead with it. 

But becoming aware that you're dreaming while inside a dream is not natural and not something to be proud of. Persistent lucid dreaming (many people say all their dreams are lucid) would, I'm quite sure, turn a person into a permanent mute nut. 

I think this is what's actually going on: some people have sharp and detailed recall of their dreams. They confuse the mode of vivid recall with actual prior dream awareness. Or if they're just stretching things, I suppose that's okay. It can make a person feel dramatic and special, if that's what they need.

But again...waking up inside a dream will crack the inside of your skull and leak out your brains. It's just too bizarre and unnatural. After a real lucid dream, a fella would be so screwed up, he wouldn't be able to talk real English for many days. And if someone placed a compass on his head, the needle would spin around like a lost goose. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

metamorphosis in the key of Miles Davis (for Kris)

The gods and angels are written
in Assyrian, Chaldean, Hebrew
by old scribes still remembering
the dream syntax of Gilgamesh.

Who will keep the gods alive
and wings resilient gleaming,
when wheels of breathless time
crack open faint and distant stars?

The invisible host will be changed
by strange art into new substance.
Blue host into green measures....

And cities felt the temple tones
of slow rain Saturday afternoons.
Private detectives in Fairlanes
noticed their lit Lucky Strikes
curling smoke holy and ghostly.
Rain fell jazz, a hidden theme
of substance changing substance.
Cities and their haunted people
felt a shift in the key of days.

The gods are safe and angels listen
to how a wing can shimmer time.

~ TB, 2013

The great psychological universe... full of weird invisible gears, pulleys, and counterweights. That's my hypothesis. All that interwoven and complex machinery of relational stresses spits out an invisible (as if zodiacal) maxim: to the degree you find someone interesting, to that same extent will they intuit you as unpleasantly odd and boring. 

Occasionally, the gears get stuck in eccentric, unlawful meshes and will grind out smoking leap thoughts inside unscheduled leap years -- two people will discover mutual and deep personal interest.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

when light whispers (for JC)

An English day I'll presume has moods
returning almost moribund. The morning
might rain and the evening slant to hearth.
Those walking along streets of London --
see how noon light is weary, not adhering
around the edges of their moving forms?

But where the meadow grass is quiet,
where birds twitter eccentric branches,
one walks slowly in her humble aura,
gathering on her brow the sun's grace.

And maybe she'll stroll a fenced lane
in rapt possession of unusual moments.

Some forms hold the whisperings
of old light's renewed hymns of time.
A brow that gleams yesterday's blurring
into tomorrow's poems of waiting myths.

Long ago somewhere, maybe a vision,
I've heard this glowing thoughtful aura.
As if a childhood echo of a lost friend
or the awed going into a cathedral
where breathing is almost prayer.

~ TB, 2013

Enigma of the Absolute

How could I blithely skip past a song titled "Enigma of the Absolute"? Not possible.

Saloman hung down her head
Laid bare her heart for the world to see
She craved for intimacy
Through the darkened doors
Her aspect veiled with indecision
Gazed out to sea
She craved lucidity
Cast adrift from past relationships in her life
Hoisted up the ideal
This was her saving grace
Sea's of rage
That once assailed her concern for the truth
Had past her by
And left her high and dry
In her saviors arms
In her saviors arms
In her saviors arms
Across the sea lies the fountain of renewal
Where you will see
The whole cause of your loneliness
Can be measured in dreams
That transcend all these lies
and I wish and I pray
That there may come a day for a saviors arms
for a saviors arms
for a saviors arms
for a saviors arms

Hunter S. Thompson said this:

We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value.

I don't want to hear anyone alluding to the United States or any other country as "Nazi."

That shit will not stand, Mr. Gonzo Journalist.

The old, real Nazis tried to systematically destroy an entire people. The Nazi horror of cold-blooded, industrial slaughter is unique. Alluding to any other nation as "Nazi" is to diminish or make diffuse the actual phenomenon of Nazis horror.

Just stop it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

an Osip Mandelshtam poem

For the sake of delight
Take from my hands some sun and some honey
As Persephone's bees enjoined on us

Not to be untied, the unmoored boat
Not to be heard, full-shod shadows
Not to be silenced, life's thick terrors

Now we have only kisses
Like little furry bees
Which perish when they fly from the hive

They rustle in transparent thickets
In the dense night forest of Taigetos
Nourished by time, by honeysuckle and mint

For the sake of delight, then, take my uncouth present
This simple necklace of dead dried bees
That turned honey into the sun

from TRISTIA - James Greene translation (Osip Mandelshtam Selected Poems, p.35)

My friend Renée posted this poem elsewhere, so I stole it. Because it's very good.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The music of Mieczysław Weinberg...

...means a lot to me.

Some info on Weinberg

Alfred Schnittke -- Concerto for Mixed Chorus

Composer Alfred Schnittke's music is unusual, therefore it's something I dig the heck out of. For me, the religious aspects of his Concerto for Mixed Chorus can be mostly set aside (or universalized into a vaguely mystical region of imagining). 

Some choral music has a darkly mysterious effect on me. It's a special way of being temporarily transported to who-knows-where. 

I think these are indeed the first two (of four) movements. It's hard to be sure, because this first one (below) is around seven minutes, whereas other first movements listed on YouTube are twice that long. I don't know what to make of it -- I assume there is only one choral concerto by Schnittke. Or perhaps the first movement (below) is only a fragment of the actual whole movement? I'm posting this one rather than other first movements on YouTube because I like the sound and quality of this chorus.

Anyway, here's something about this piece:

Going Toward the Light: Shadow Sounds in Schnittke's Concerto for Mixed Chorus 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I found myself...

...thinking about Beethoven's 4th Symphony. The one Schumann referred to as "a slender gorgeous maiden between two nordic giants." Sometimes, a guy doesn't want to listen to anything too heavy, metaphysical, dramatic. Sometimes, a fella just wants to hear music for music's sake. Form and color. Shape and substance. Absolute music -- a movement of architectural sound through time and imaginary space.

I'm thinking about Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s. I like the fact that this recording is not considered one of the greatest or "definitive" renditions. I like the fact that it's well played, sounds good, is more than serviceable. It doesn't make you get distracted with awe like you would if it were the Vienna Philharmonic. 

It's been maybe three years since I last listened to this CD. I need to go pull it from the shelf.

Mahler -- Symphony No. 5

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Alfred Schnittke -- Violin Concerto No. 4

Schnittke -- Wikipedia

toward a new thought

Hermann Hesse was born in the Black Forest. His books are unusual. Johann Reuchlin (1455 - 1522) was also born in the Black Forest -- spirits in the air, tales of old trees, auras of the fantastic. Thus primed, young Reuchlin goes off into the wider world to become a scholar.

I read an article in Haaretz that set me to wondering and thinking about this fellow Reuchlin. For me, his life was fascinating (Reuchlin at Wikipedia). Reuchlin's life as a Christian also set me to contemplating the historical milieu and predicament of Jews in 15th- and 16th-century Europe (the Germanic regions especially). The way Jews were treated casts the whole of Christendom into an unflattering, even malevolent light. Anti-Semitism, flourishing toxically back then, persists today as a general cultural pox, continues to erupt as mini-plagues of idiots.

Reuchlin's scholarly adventure began with a focus on Greek (philology and philosophy). Later, his thought branched out to a focus on Hebrew (philology and philosophy).

That is interesting.

A kind of fusion occurred in Reuchin's head. From the Greeks, he followed the misty trail of the Neo-Platonists into Gnostic precincts of thinking. That dovetailed nicely with the Jewish Cabala. From the weirdness of the Black Forest to peculiar Greek and Jewish glimpses into reality.

Here's how it happened and what happened next.

While on a sojourn to Italy, Reuchlin met and was influenced by Pico della Mirandola, who provided him intellectual entry to the Jewish Cabala.  That interest led our scholar to a long involvement with the Hebrew language and with Jewish culture in general. Against the pressures of Rome -- to burn all Jewish books in Christendom except the Jewish Bible -- Reuchlin stood opposed. For him, free inquiry implied that all texts are sacrosanct. Reuchlin got into a lot of trouble over that. Historians since then have examined that episode as having three important results: exposing the virulence of anti-Semitism in Europe; developing the free mission of humanist scholars; auguring the Reformation.

Mulling over all this stuff, I think Reuchlin contributed indirectly to later proto-Enlightenment and Enlightenment ideas about dissent, about questioning forms of absolutism and monarchical authority. And I think his view of scholarly freedom stems directly from his studies of rabbinical Talmudic commentary. That's a distinctive aspect of Jewish culture -- argument with authority. God as something other than transcendent celestial Caesar. God as something more like a cantankerous uncle who can be interrogated, even occasionally scolded. 

Or as Reuchlin himself wrote about Hebrew: 
In this divine language, God speaks with men, and men with angels, face to face, as one friend converses with another.

So, I'm struck by how our man Reuchlin improvised his way onto paths of subtler, deeper thinking. His experiences led to a coalescence of impressions toward a new thought: beyond the taken-for-granted and the imperious lie wonders concealed in time and language.

Reuchlin remained a Christian, but I suspect his belief became a somewhat eccentric version.

Johann Reuchlin

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I confess!

I like this dust jacket image:

World Publishing Company, Cleveland, OH, 1932

 This copy is at Abe Books for $2000

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Things that fascinate me...

...are not things that fascinate others. That's okay (I suppose).

Certain things from the past are, for me, not in the past. They remain fresh and are more breaking than any so-called Breaking News! Things from the past of a peculiar depth and remarkable quality reverberate constantly into my present, with a soul-enriching effect.

Right now at, the hardback book The Kaprálová Companion is available. If I had the money, I would buy and read this book. I would read it so intensely that the words would quiver like hummingbirds on the pages. 

Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová died at the age of 25. She bequeathed to posterity a treasure of music that bends my mind. Listening to it and contemplating it are important things for me.  I have no idea how such things happen in the world -- the appearance of a talent and sensibility in the past of such subtle power that it can rehabilitate the present.

More info on this composer: The Kapralova Society.

When I come across...

...a journal promoting itself as "experimental and cutting-edge," I know to shift my jalopy into reverse and slowly back away.

The shocking and the raw are boring, so "Pshaw!"

Friday, August 16, 2013

Brahms -- Liebesliederwalzer No. 6

Someone needs to say something...

...about Gabriel Fauré. 

About the general quality and effect of his music. About its late 19th-century French spirit flowing with elusive melody and complex harmony. About its evocation of rarefied mood. About how his piano quartets seem to have no fixed tonal center, the key appearing to modulate and float around like an amnesiac papillon, creating cumulative and pleasurable bewilderment. About how.....well....someone needs to say something about all that stuff.

1845 - 1924

I'm helplessly infatuated...

...with the comic art of Mike Mignola.

I was transported to the riverbank

Some people consider this a children's book. After all, Kenneth Grahame wrote it for his children (or so he said). 

I wasn't exposed to it until I was 28 years old -- 1980. It was an early autumn afternoon. I was listening to the radio -- the local university station, with a tie-in to NPR. The actor David McCallum was reading chapters from the book. I didn't know what hit me! There's no way to describe the fantastical mood I was cast into. Mes-mer-ized.

When I soon got my hands on the actual book, army tanks and bazookas could not have pried it from my hands. This book is almost too much of a good thing for me. I've not recovered since.

Everything I read by Zagajewski... something I like to read.
Venice was emblematic and enigmatic; palaces were reflected in the murky canal water; the same water seemed to reflect all the poems written about the city. Rilke and Alexander Blok floated in the dark waters. Chateaubriand was walking nearby. Hofmannsthal looked with awe at churches, museums, and human beings.
                 -- from The Veneto as a Magnifying Glass

Kaprálová's "Studeny vecer"

I don't know what to say. I'm thoroughly and pleasantly gasterflabbered. Czech composer Vítezslava Kaprálová's music is dear to me. If you click on the link, you can then click on the red "Studeny vecer" to go to the song recording (with an English translation of the lyrics). This song is made with her characteristic musical excellence, and it flows with that hard-to-describe, melodically eccentric Czech sensibility.

Here's what the Kapralova Society says:

We are proud to present a brilliant recording of Smutny vecer (Sad Evening, also: Cold Evening), courtesy of Helene Lindquist and Philipp Volger at The Art Song Project ( 
The previously unknown song of Kapralova was discovered by Karla Hartl of the Kapralova Society in 2006 and reconstructed by Timothy Cheek of the University of Michigan in 2011. The song was published the same year by AMOS EDITIO in Prague.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ravel's transcription of Debussy's 3 NOCTURNES

being cool versus being readable

My impression of American literature since the 1960s -- since the plague of hip ironizers -- is that it knows something instead of questioning everything. Instead of being artistic and perplexed, the novels are annoying and omniscient (they tell us, with arms akimbo and winking smirks, the way it is with time and being).

Literature before the beatniks, especially in Europe and Eastern Europe between 1900 and 1940, generates in me a different impression: the works are interesting and worth reading.

Why did American writers become cool rather than readable?

Americans are too far from the spiritual geography of Beethoven, Schubert, and Mahler. Instead of looking out toward the mystery of time and being, Americans became obsessed with the in of themselves, became egoistic: the Blues, jazz, rock and roll. A constricting of world therefore a lack of imagination. The cultural condition here is cheap, disposable spectacle. No wonder that worthwhile, elegant prose is so rare. Instead, writers today utter clipped, hepcat sentences exuding psychological hubris and spiritual shabbiness.

Americans are too noisy, self-persuaded, and non-melancholic to produce works that approach the condition of deep music -- in other words, readable literature.

And don't get me started on American poetry, which is either self-absorbed or preachy -- both forms of egoism that induce an excruciating boredom in the reader.

The great living poet Adam Zagajewski, from Poland, loves the music of Schubert and Mahler. That's telling.

Monday, August 12, 2013

when only music.......

poet Yael Tomashov -- I have my reasons

Yael Tomashov's poem "Apocatastasis" impresses me as a very fine poem. I have reasons for being impressed (after the poem). 


"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.

Copyright © 2011, Yael Tomashov
Translated from Hebrew by Shir Freibach

This poem delivers a fully realized artistic experience.

When I read this poem, I read myself into lines that present an immediate context, a spiritual location to which I effortlessly go. Narrative is, of course, something muted in good poems, but it's still required in order that some sense is generated, that some direction is maintained. I'm talking about comprehensibility. In a poem, there should be both intellectual and emotional comprehension, in my opinion. Too many poems rely strictly on the affective -- the reader has no idea what's going on, really, so he must default, in desperation, to emotional aspects only for his contact with that poem. Lines that one has to read as if on LSD or peyote are not lines taking place in the condition of a fully realized art. Too many poems wait entirely too long to let the reader know where he is and what's happening. Tomashov's poem generously escorts the reader into its precincts of meaning. That way, the affective elements register with a deeper human resonance.

Imagination haunts and breathes into this poem. If there's not at least an implicit component of the fantastic -- of the not ordinary -- a poem will read like plaster walls cracking and dusting in a house abandoned for good spiritual reasons.  "Apocatastasis" without delay casts us into an image of the extraordinary -- a swan! Only those without a soul would be immune to this early creature of entrancement. The experience created in this poem is suffused with symbolism, which is poetry's own magic:

distant thunder gargles

rain forests are piling up on the table

blooming garden of emotions

Death sat with Autumn on the spinning vinyl disc
like two mice, silently.

A poem written without instances of subtle or eruptive amazement is a thing moving relentlessly away from a reader's intrinsic capacity for wonder. A poem has, I think, a responsibility to itself and to readers to create an atmosphere. Craft and sensibility should extrude from language a heightened experience of moments -- with the lines becoming, as in this poem, conveyors of the peculiar behind, beneath, or beyond usual experience.

Related to imagination is otherness. In this poem, the poet realizes her present distance from the otherness of her younger self. And the difference between perceived and actual memory:

Maybe there was no swan. But something in that story got left behind"

Time has a way of becoming a kind of geography. We can find ourselves transplanted into a conditioned region that sometimes aches for a lost temporal land. But there are traces that last. Out of nowhere, so to speak, a whiff of music -- remembered or heard -- can, like Proust's aromas, cascade us into a sense of otherness -- into even a metaphysical sense of consciousness always already being other to itself.

What to do with poems that fail to arrive anywhere? Not to worry here. The adventure of living with this poem, like looking into a fable, reaches a destination. "Apocatastasis" carries us along to an actual denouement. And what a denouement! Tomashov's written epiphany is a startling one. It's not clearly seen ahead of time, yet the preceding substances hint at and prepare us for it. Maybe that's why it continues to reverberate long after reading: this poem and its conclusion open us up to unsuspected resources of being in ourselves. Why even on some distant evening while sipping wine and thinking of nothing, the ending of this poem will return to deliver anew that beautiful, timeless shock of art. 

Poems that inspire one, again and again, to written appraisal and appreciation are poems echoing the qualities (my reasons) of works in an aesthetic tradition. I know I've come upon a natural talent when I desire exposure to more of that artist's work.

Unknown Sea

The book in which this poem appears is in Hebrew. I was provided with an English translation of the featured poem.

poet Adam Zagajewski -- I have my reasons

Adam Zagajewski's poem "In Strange Towns" impresses me as a very fine poem. I have reasons for being impressed (after the poem). 

In Strange Towns
for Zbigniew Herbert
In strange towns there is an unknown joy, 
the cold bliss of a new glance.
Yellow-plastered tenements where the sun 
climbs like a nimble spider 
exist, yet not for me. Not for me are the town-hall, 
port, jail, and courthouse built.
The sea flows through the town in a salty 
tide, sinking cellars and verandas.
At a street market, pyramids of apples 
stand for the eternity of one afternoon.
And even suffering isn’t really 
mine; a local idiot mumbles 
in a foreign tongue, and the despair of a lonely 
girl in a café resembles a patch 
of canvas in a poorly lit museum.
Huge flags of trees flutter as in familiar places, 
and pieces of the same lead-weights 
are sewn to the hems of sheets, and to dreams, 
and to imagination, which is homeless and wild.

Copyright © 1989, Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Renata Gorczynski and Benjamin Ivry

This poem delivers a fully realized artistic experience.

"In Strange Towns" flows, from beginning to end, with comprehensibility. Most poems take place within the vacuum of insular expression -- the reader hasn't much of a clue what's going on or why. Not so this extraordinary and generous poem. We walk beside the poet, fully alert to the textures and wonders of this strange town's milieu. Since we are there, we aren't on the outside trying to mentally or emotionally claw our way through the obscurantism one finds in most poems. Part of comprehension has to do with participation. If the reader is viewed by the poet as an almost superfluous element, the reader's willingness to identify with the written experience is compromised. The sure sign of an incomprehensible poem is an attitude and atmosphere within it of dull self-absorption -- you can't really comprehend what is solipsistic, therefore militantly uninteresting. 

Zagajewski' vision here is infused with the kind of poetic imagination one rarely discovers in a poem.  Cadence can be a method and indication of imagining, can instill expectation and a quality of the haunted marvelous. As the poem speaks itself through this town, pulse is measured out in the suspenseful prosody of fascinated being. Imagination is also and decisively conveyed here through subtle metaphor:

At a street market, pyramids of apples 
stand for the eternity of one afternoon.
And even suffering isn’t really 
mine; a local idiot mumbles 
in a foreign tongue, and the despair of a lonely 
girl in a café resembles a patch 
of canvas in a poorly lit museum. 

Many great poems are vivified by a spirit of otherness.  Whether owing to physical exile or a sense of psychological dislocation (disorientation), a poem becomes strange --  therefore artistic -- when the poet is confronted with alien substances, unfamiliar forms, spiritual contrasts. The emergence of otherness -- the exotic -- from a poem's material engenders a sympathetic involvement for the reader in this drama of the peculiar. Poems that take place within conventional, moribund spaces of experience and emotion are less likely to be compelling works of art.  

Finally, "In Strange Towns" is an adventure toward epiphany. Poems that don't lead to a new intuition or perception meander around, then run out of steam. This poem is quietly mapped onto the palimpsest of an organic significance. It obsessively and poignantly traipses the ground of potential meaning until eventually arriving at insight:

Huge flags of trees flutter as in familiar places,
and pieces of the same lead-weights 
are sewn to the hems of sheets, and to dreams, 
and to imagination, which is homeless and wild.

Poems that inspire one, again and again, to written appraisal and appreciation are poems echoing the qualities (my reasons) of works in an aesthetic tradition. I know I've come upon a natural talent when I desire exposure to more of that artist's work.

Adam Zagajewski

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

to compose, perchance to glow

I'm still rereading the book Brahms by Malcolm MacDonald (The Masters Musician Series, Schirmer Books, 1990). It's as much analysis of his music as biography. It's such a good book to drop in and out of, depending on my mood. Reading it, I feel close to the spirit of Brahms.

One special thing I get from this book (a similar thing I get from a Scriabin biography) is how wonderful an occupation must composer be! 
Composing is surely one of the most deeply satisfying things for a human being to do. 

Brahms would go for long walks in Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Inspirations for themes and possibilities of development would come to him during these lengthy strolls. Many summers, he would retreat to rustic mountain settings, the air pure, the flowers bright. Secluded, he would write many profound works.

Think of it! Walking along while tunes emerge from subtle emotions. Then later, sitting down to put pen to paper. Again -- how richly satisfying to compose music! How fun to go back and make corrections or find alternate expressive moments for certain measures or sections -- to change a color here, an emphasis there. 

The sheer lived-in hours of perpetual creativity. It must be like having a parallel form of time running within one's consciousness -- ordinary life flowing along with extraordinary aural visions rising silently within. 

And much later, after all is affirmed and settled, to write out the fine copy manuscript to send to the publisher! Some lives, despite hardships and loneliness, are truly blessed. To compose must surely bring a warmth to the soul.

"Moonlight Mile" -- the Rolling Stones

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I'm beside myself

So the two of me are sitting here mulling over this recording. I hadn't heard the Oistrakh / Klemperer until today.

It's wonderful. It's two or three metronome ticks slower than the usual performances, it seems to me. That gives it an unusual flowing pulse. It works!

The orchestral instruments somehow come through with more individual clarity than in other recordings. That's cool! And the soloist's articulation is as clear as Richter's on the piano. Also like Richter, Oistrakh finds moments of very subtle rubato, which allows a dynamic expressiveness without aghasting the composer. It must be a Russian kind of thing!

Monday, August 5, 2013

the gosh-dang Ventures!!


There have been a number of great poets. There are some great living poets. Great poems should be a resource for wanna-be poets (like me, for instance).

I'm not talking about templates or body-snatching. I'm talking about the possibility of general principles encoded in great works, principles that occur in those works regardless of style or originality.

One general principle that is apparent to me: comprehensibility. 

A reader should not require a Vulcan mind-meld to know where he is and what's going on during the first four lines of a poem. 

There are more general principles.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Elliott Carter -- flute & cello

Enchanted Preludes

The future... what hasn't happened yet. I repeat -- hasn't happened yet. 

So if any Mr. Future Guys insist on appearing anyway, they deserve cream pies in their faces.

toward art and simple wonder

Philosophy, as a world-grasping and world-ordering milieu, eventually gives way to deep music, unusual poetry, and the mapless condition of dream. Thought, given enough time, gradually releases itself from the brain's algorithmic, relational neurosis and begins to feel its way toward and into the abyss behind symbols, which is the mystical (or whatever).

I'm tired, and I'm babbling like a drunken platypus.


Composer Sean Shepherd's Magiya.

Russian for "magic." As Shepherd says:
"...a specifically Russian sense of magic…in the stories, folklore and literature (old and new) of the country, a kind that often gets no explanation or justification; a ‘normal’, everyday magic."

And hey -- my guy Gergiev is conducting!

Friday, August 2, 2013


”It is one thing to set a marker in memory of a departed colleague, and quite another when one has the persistent feeling of being beckoned to from the other side.”

~ W.G. Sebald about Robert Walser, whom he had known only through Walser's writings

"Sebald's Walser"

amid the flowers

"There was a life force I felt so powerfully as I walked through the gardens."

~ Regina Walker

Her latest piece in Out and About in New York City

The New York Botanical Gardens (or, The Sensual Life of Flowers) 
August 2, 2013

the birth of eccentricity

How can I describe to you an impression of something that I still don't understand 50 years later?

Maybe 10 years of age is too young to be taken on a class field trip to an old, several-stories-tall bank in El Dorado, Arkansas in 1962. Or maybe the teacher and shadowy "officials" should have conducted tests beforehand, to winnow out from participation youngsters with peculiar predispositions.

I remember we were taken past heavy diamond-mesh sliding doors, into what must have been the vault or a pre-vault. There inside display cases were specimens of large-denomination US bills -- $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000.

Something happened to me while staring at those bills. Their auras interfused with my aura. Those bills were not only the most hypnotically beautiful things I'd ever seen, they were also charged with a dark metaphysical power. 

Maybe I was absorbing pure joules of reification -- the mysterious relation of exchange value among human beings almost audible as the siren call of tangible substance (engraved bills). 

"Engraved." The word suggests a clue. Staring at those wondrous large-denomination bills was like falling into an ecstatic numinous tomb. Especially the $5000 bill. It was abyssal. Its infinite allurement was partly of the aesthetic, partly of the macabre.  

I wanted that bill so badly!

If I had known how, I would have stolen it in a heartbeat and never experienced a twinge of remorse.

Afterwards and for weeks, I was in a cottony state of dementia. I daydreamed about having that $5000 bill for my very own. Not because it was worth $5000. Who wants to buy that much stuff? But because it was beautiful, because looking at it made me feel peculiar, because it called to me with a symbolism of things beyond my ken.