Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
The ability for it should grow, be made to grow, be cultivated.
The objects of it change, often disappear or become demon versions of what they were.
'Romantic' love shapes itself within an amniotic sac, handling itself only in the most exegetical, self-definitional way. No wonder it's short-lived. Nine months? It should gestate that long! The membranes, the frontiers of self-contained environments, they stiffen, they fissure, they crack, and -- boo! -- a monster is born.
Hence the relative virtue of caritas, the love spun from the heart of religions -- and surely secularizable.
Without a sense of broader connection, of fellow-feeling, one gets the cynic -- not that justifiable version of cynic who questions establishment values, but the cynic soured on anything. Stunted.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
T Fool has a graduate degree in literature, yet has seen performed only 14 of Shakespeare's plays, has only just recently 'read' Joyce's Ulysses (by listening to Jim Norton's performance of it on Naxos), has intended to take on Proust's Recherche, etc, but hasn't, has no intention of tackling Don Quixote despite its being brought up time and again.
Indeed, if key works (let alone major subsidiary works, still less the intensively-researched 'small' ones) of the Western world (not even getting to the Eastern) were scribbled onto sheets of long paper, T Fool's check marks would be far and few between.
This is not to denigrate either his education or his ambition toward one.
This is to note how difficult it is to get beyond 'small specialty' even when one's aim is humanistic, even when one tries to encompass much, even when one preaches 'breadth' and 'range' and 'depth' to classrooms of college faces which betoken intelligent minds beyond the mp3 earbuds, slouchy clothing, and other contemporary camouflage.
Learning. 'How to'? If so, how to . . . outgrow 'received ideas', letting [idea/principle/awareness/reality] emerge from experience.
Science is foremost a methodology. Products of it are always by-products.
Wisdom? An ever-humility, an acceptance of shortfall, a comfort with unending mystery.
Masha, with her long legs and buoyant hello. She kicks up her legs in greeting, if once, often, in T Fool's fantasies of her. The room imagined with books: Pushkin and gazeteers, Marguerite Duras, some volumes with analytically cold titles connecting to mathematics. T Fool has no understanding of the latter, but in hearing her discourse on them -- sometimes in chalk, in a poetry (!) of quantitative relationships -- he feels her fire. The serious looks, her face picking up shadows, pin him, and he lies back as she initiates lovetaking. Authoritative. He has wanted to feed her cherries, but meets her pace. That is all.
Asking about her five years after circumstance keeps their daily routines utterly separate, he's apprised she has cancer.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The 'decent man' lives in a showroom of compulsive order, a combination of basic-training barracks, HGTV, Howard Hughes, and presentation vanity.
The 'average man' lives in a den of squalor, part garage, part last night's pizza party.
The living room?
Not fit for the average swineherd.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The American system is one of negation.
In their heads and hearts, some still hold allegiance to Dixie.
Some to the Frontier.
Some to the Colonies.
Enough of some combination of these prevents adjustment or innovation.
Our glory will be our epitaph.
Long lasting are traditions.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Said of Robert Byron's books (and character), by Paul Fussell in his book Abroad.
" . . . all nine . . . dramatize the action of the disciplined moral intelligence beleaguered by stupidity, convention, received error, greed, provincialism, nationalism, and aggression."
Byron seems to have come from what we Americans might see as an 'aristocratic' point of view, a man parodied by movies as 'English gentry': part eccentric, part wit, part fop, part university man, part remittance man, part fair-play umpire, part assumptive snoot, part decent sort. A type not without charm and interest, but a type hard for us to create now with a straight face.
Not being able to attest either to Byron's books or to Byron himself, one might like to assign such virtues to those of us living now, hoping that we might apply them in our own context.
That human ugliness against which Fussell claims Byron's opposition, though, might be pinned down in the matter of less than an hour, concretized from a look or two at websites or web headlines.
We're arboreal no more, but we're a bad crew. Always have been.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
How many become posthumous dedicatees?
How many know what this is?
How many avoid as 'metaphysical' this whole notion of interest and just find focus in the probability question?
How many see this as a diversionary query barely masking an anxiety toward death?
How many see this as involving only one pampered class who feel they may ignore concrete problems?
How many would trample all this under horsehoof, tanktread, jackboot to clear the knot in their throat?
The Zapruder film. Freeze frame.
Pillbox hat. Oleg Cassini.
Hands at throat.
Who watches this, still, the hundredth time, who watched it then, that week, the hundredth time, and just took it in, maybe an eye muscle tightening, a sympathetic twitch.
To watch death occur.
To hope it turns out different.
You look nice, he, looking at her.
She wondered what nice meant.
A child sounded somewhere?
Her mind stuttering between skepticism and anger.
She did a retro. Thank you, kind sir.
Curtsy. Self-ironic turn by knicking him with the corner of a Starbucks VIA Ready Brew packet.
Friday, August 21, 2009
People -- once -- got into this heavily.
To be honest, this guy thought it went the way of the antique railway, all 'communication fiddlers' been diverted at one point to CB radio, all 'electronic drones' long ago into semi-conductorville.
I want it at midnight, during and after the floor show
I want it with sequins on the fluted glass
I want it pink
I want to drink it out of Cinderella's tall shoe
I want the bubbles to burst (boom) and to tickle my nose
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
From Quinx, the fifth novel in The Avignon Quintet cycle. Diplomats having to explain Buddhism to the Chinese. Tale of the Chinese King and the result of zazen practice over decades in one place:
". . . Reality now was sweet as a plum, romantic as wedding cake among these neolithic veins of gorgeous stone which he rejected in favour of a barren uncoloured strip of cave . . . What he was rewarded with was something that would not melt in silence, nor pucker in wind, nor be honed by mischief-makers, nor claimed by clowns. Within it all polarities ceded. Never was it to be disavowed by the wrong love."
Would an ancient Roman have said, "Video video"?
One more stumbling step by yours truly into the technified 21st Century: LATE OTT (i.e. this blog) now shows YouTube and other source videos. (See webpage links).
Note my stodgy compromise? Nothing more current than, maybe, ten years, and some considerably older, all dealing with figures well-established, brave but declining, or dead.
That's the way I like 'em: Genuine. Weathered. Historic. Authentic.
Yes, I do like yapping about 'mid-Century' themes almost as much as a room full of architects and design mavens. Being lodged one leg deeply in that time, this animal calls out for resolution of it, a meaning to it, to see what it's all been destined for.
A little heavy for dealing with writers, film directors, and television interviewers? Maybe. But the thread of my life still does feel its tensile anchor outside the labyrinth as I continue to wind my way around.
Friday, August 14, 2009
T Fool knew Stagger Lee.
T Fool has never let any man step on his chi.
Is there an (H, h)olocaust that hasn't been denied? No man of such negativity step forward? Has hatred never not been a popular option?
North Dakota is cold.
Georgia has too many counties and local traditions.
T Fool is just plain folks.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Bill Clinton impresses me, but he's never been a 'first choice', nor has (the valuable, talented, worthy) Hillary.
Yet what overwhelms me, what truly eclipses what people like to make of his ego, is:
How people make any world event involving political or diplomatic acts into a 'small-p', selfish-agenda, who's-outscoring-whom story.
Our statemanship has begun to show itself after 8 dismal, dangerous, stupid years. Why see it as a game to be scored?
Commentators quickly spoke of 'political theater' in the Sotomayor hearings.
Guess what? That's all that hearings seem to be made for -- at least the ones covered broadly.
Justice Sonia should have had a 100-0 favorable vote.
By the way, is there a will-or-way to my projected '5 William O. Douglas' Court?
Anyone out there with me?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Two young women, pretty, Asian, silhouetted by the spacious, sun-whitenened Starbucks window, looked my way, and one of them waved. I looked behind me and saw a man with salt-and-pepper hair and an Aloha shirt. He winked. My conclusion: they're together. But, no.
One of the women came trotting up to me. Mr. T________, Mr. T________, don't you remember me?
She brought her friend nearer. This is Mr. T________, the best teacher I had in . . . language arts? English?
Yes, I said, That's me in there somewhere.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Very sunny day
Wander here thinking to savage, find flame, ant-heaps your home
Theirs: oasis. Theirs: the sound of cataracts. Theirs: the strength of camels. Goat meat.
Bring bags of water, many hooved animals. Protected bags.
Where rivers are not, they find hidden springs
Where springs are not, they find plant sap. Sunny.
Needles, bristle-brush, lazy green, runnel-bark, the fir has.
Rangier, more swoopy one whose bark's incised and wavery as the sun-damaged face of the Marlboro Man -- that's cedar
The Call of the Wild
The frozen Vogue pose, then sharp, rapid jump by the jittery squirrel at the deep boom dog woof
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Books I'm currently reading:
Diplomacy auth Henry Kissinger
Moses And Monotheism auth Sigmund Freud
Sebastian (fourth read of five novels in The Avignon Quintet) auth Lawrence Durrell
The First World War auth Martin Gilbert
Reader's Block auth David Markson
Cultural Amnesia auth Clive James