There's a lot more I wanted to fit into this review, but I'm happy with those things I was able to fit in despite the limitations of the form and forum:

Read it before they ask me to take the f-bomb out!
I woke early this morning to the sight of the moon with a bite out of it. The sun rising on one hand, the moon eclipsing on the other. I thought I'd missed it under yesterdays cloud cover. Instead, it came as a surprise, an unexpected reward for (an undesired) early rising.
From the Ebert Club Newsletter:

"The Heretics' Gate" draws inspiration from Dante's Inferno, the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. A twenty foot high, arched screen and a thirty foot long reflecting pool, are cleverly combined to deliver a mesmerizing and strangely ethereal vision of hell at the central focus point of the church's imposing gothic architecture.

What can I say... I'm waiting for the BP to weigh in. This must be quite amazing in situ... the following link has video of the piece and contains an interview with the artist...

But I have to say that I'm also quite enamored of the amateur links around the web with people walking by and talking... the 'bad' recordings that capture a something completely different about the piece.

Still, imagine wandering into a chapel at the cathedral and seeing THAT!
Heart worries about the sound of his own heartbeat.
If it must be percussive, why cant if be musical like
a steel drum or kettle? Or if not orchestral, at least
more aggressive like a dragon's bellow in a dark tunnel.
No one has yet critiqued the sound of his heartbeat.
Were they being polite? Did they discuss it with one another
the puny patter of his inferior ticker? In Heart's
newfound chagrin, he wants us to buy a megaphone
so his heart can boom, or a synthesizer so it can sing
like a Back chorale. Timpanies, trumpets, tom-toms--
shouldn't his heart blare like a quartet of trombones
to declare his arrival? How lavish have been his loves--
shouldn't his heartbeat reflect his ardent complexity?
Instead it beats out a dull monotone: thump, thump.
But perhaps, thinks Heart, I delude myself. Perhaps
my passions are quite insignificant and my sensitivity
no greater than anothers. Heart chuckles at the folly
of such a thought. Over the horizon lie the Himalayas
and within him rise the emotions, while the disparity
in elevation is slight. Heart decides that his sedate beat
is only camouflage. If it bespoke his feelings exactly
it would mean constant earthquake with people leaping
from sky scraper windows and babies yowling all night.
If it truly reflected the cataract within him, gladhanders
would nag him for favors. He'd waste his passion on trifles.
Once again Heart is struck by nature's immense cunning:
the complexity of the butterfly's wing, the salamander's
artful coloration, and his own heartbeat: constant and sly.

--- Stephen Dobyns, from Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Today is the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the United States. Even though I knew about women's suffrage, it surprised me to learn that this right was only 90 years old. My grandmother was older than the right to vote! When I consider the relatively short period it's been with us, I feel a little more forgiving about the progress that's been made.

Tangentially related, Deborah Tannen's 'He Said, She Said' and, of course, poetry and Puritans! )
This post from [personal profile] fengi is about the repeal of a 1951 law in 1974 making it legal for women to work as bartenders. You've come a long way, baby!

Also, re: the veil issue, I thought this column by The Nation's Katha Pollitt might straddle the divide nicely. I'm with Nussbaum all the way---what the hell do I care what people wear on their heads or whether they cover their faces, I wouldn't want people telling me what I could and couldn't wear, especially if it had spiritual significance---but was surprised to find this stance made many of you uncomfortable. So here's Ms. Pollitt on the issue:

Btw, along with her topical essays, I've just discovered Ms. Pollitt's poetry, and like it very much. It reminds me a little of Stephen Dobyns. And since I'm in the middle of a new poem for the crabapple cycle, I was very pleased for her to describe the Tree of Knowledge as a crabapple.

Oh, yes, and here is her follow-up to that wretched Atlantic 'End of Men' article I decided was not worthy of my comment. My response is pretty much, "What she said." (Except Pollitt says it better that I could.):
From a post by the BP:

In Ecology without Nature I talk about the Aeolian as an effect of ambient poetics—the illusion that sound, imagery etc. is emanating from an unseen source, like wind in sympathetic strings.

I like to joke that the power lines outside my home are a very large scale Aoolian harp, but the cables give off extremely low hums, almost imperceptible, but definitely unsettling. Click the info button on the left hand corner to release more examples of ambient wind instruments.
Robert Pinsky on Robert Frost. It strikes me that while I've never really grokked the poetry of Mr. Pinsky he has done an amazing service to the understanding of poetry through his wide and varied 'PSAs' (Poetry Service Announcements).

On just intonation vs. equal temperament. Usually my family doesn't get into these arguments at the dinner table, but occasionally it emerges. The BP is very big on this stuff.

And for fun, some music samples from Rondellus, an Estonian medieval group best known for their medieval covers of Black Sabbath in Latin. Sorry, no BS samples here:

ETA: Here's the Rondellus cover of 'War Pigs.'
I just got news that Ai, the poet in residence while I was at CU, passed away this weekend. I didn't know her personally, but she wrote amazing 'monologue' driven poetry and kind of cracked open my ideas about how poetry should be written and read. (The BP now teaches Blake as 'monologues,' no sense of whether it might be due to Ai's influence.) Her poetry is frequently disturbing, violent, but strangely humorous, especially as she expanded into 'monologues' by public figures later in her career. Her collection Vice won the National Book Award in 1999, just after she left CU.

Here is an excellent overview of her work @ Poetry Foundation, which includes links to some of her poems:
In one of my rabbit-hole internet experiences, I came across something posted by one of the current creative writing faculty professors at CU. I had thought it was regarding an event for a visiting professor, a lecture series on 'Why We Write.' With a slight roll of the eyes I clicked through to find a very long paragraph by Jaqueline Jones LeMon on some of the usual romantic preoccupations with the daemonic.

It took me a moment to figure out that the post was not by the person posting it, that it was not about an event, and to sort through my own thoughts on the issue (I think that the reasons for writing are as varied as the persons writing, though I suspect it is something of a pathology, or the expression of it, at very least: daemonic perhaps, diseased most probably) before I noticed the "In Memoriam: Lucille Clifton 1936-2010" at the bottom of the post.

Read more... )
There is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting an honest living. Neither the New Testament nor Poor Richard speaks to our condition. I cannot think of a single page which entertains, much less answers, the questions which I put to myself on this subject. How to make the getting our living poetic! for if it is not poetic, it is not life but death that we get. Is it that men are too disgusted with their experience to speak of it? or that commonly they do not question the common modes? The most practically important of all questions, it seems to me, is how shall I get my living, and yet I find little or nothing said to the purpose in any book. Those who are living on the interest of money inherited, or dishonestly, i. e. by false methods, acquired, are of course incompetent to answer it. I consider that society with all its arts, has done nothing for us in this respect. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual’s musings. Cold and hunger seem more friendly to my nature than those methods which men have adopted and advise to ward them off. If it were not that I desire to do something here, - accomplish some work, - I should certainly prefer to suffer and die rather than be at the pains to get a living by the modes men propose.
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or my art.

With thanks to [profile] frostmorn who left this poem in her wake.

Not only is the comic funny on its own, but because of the conversation I had @ Secret Stan this week and a heavy dose of the Beloved Professor (a big fan of both Kant & Keats) earlier today I couldn't help but see its relation to Kant's objectivism vs Rand's Objectivism.

Kant's objectivism tells us that all we can really know is the contents of our own mind because we are limited by the very means through which we sense the world. Rand mocks Kant reinterpreting his thought to mean, "man is limited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others; therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind because he has eyes—deaf because he has ears—deluded because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist because he perceives them."

I think that Bucky the Cat shows us the fallacies of Rand's Objectivism daily by the twisted approach he has to the world. He acts on his sensory input with invested self-interest but he is almost and always categorically wrong.

Anyway, I'm probably not using the words correctly (since I lack a proper vocabulary for philosophy), but I think you get my drift.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
At the earliest ending of winter,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.

He knew that he heard it,
A bird's cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.

The sun was rising at six,
No longer a battered panache above snow...
It would have been outside.

It was not from the vast ventriloquism
Of sleep's faded papier-mache...
The sun was coming from outside.

That scrawny cry---it was
A chorister whose c preceded the choir.
It was part of the colossal sun,

Surrounded by its choral rings,
Still far away. It was like
A new knowledge of reality.
Sorry, I forgot to note the first day of spring, in which I wanted to cite Prof. Morton's comments that while human's may share 99% of genetic code with chimpanzees, they are also 35% daffodil. "Great for Wordsworth."

Wordsworth's Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Everyone knows this poem, but when was the last time you actually read it? Happy Spring!
These past few months, I keep returning to a book [ profile] frostmorn sent to me, a collection of essays by Roger Housden titled Ten Poems to Change Your Life Again and Again. There were a couple of things that have stood out at me, but none more so than the following poem. I've returned to it several times trying to decide if it said what I thought it was saying:

by Jane Hirschfield

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated, brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant –

stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’d come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling,
that you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

Read more... )
So, I find that in January I tend to glut myself with books. I think it's a combination of poor weather (though January has been unseasonably warm in CO this year) and holiday letdown. The social season is over, no one has any money, the nights are dark and long. This means I usually get buried in either: s/f epics (preferably something of the deep space depressing variety), or romantic suspense.

Romantic Suspense )

The book dump. )
This website/review via RB's horoscope totally made my day yesterday. It is a collection of aphorisms from and relating to Chinese poets.

Read more... )



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