Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

new history of Trees

"Rackham talks often about “storm effects”, and in particular about the ecological benefits of the 1987 hurricane, in its disordering of bland and uniform forestry lots. But I sense a metaphor here, too. A kind of storminess is what real woods and trees live with. They are not human pets or manservants. They are dynamic, autonomous, resilient, different... "

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rec'd (a year after languagehat) the very handsome Lee Valley reprint of Admiral W.H. Smyth's 1867 The Sailor's Word-Book--certainly the best single volume let's-get-lost browsing dictionary I've encountered since the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, enjoyable too on the level of Webster or Johnson in that it is so manifestly the work of one mind, but am sobered (if not discouraged) by magisterial naval historian N.A.M. Rodger's withering entry in the bibliography of his four-masted "The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815"--"An extensive but haphazard, unscientific and often ambiguous posthumous work, heavily used by the editors of the "Oxford English Dictionary" for their forays into nautical vocabulary, in many cases with unfortunate consequences." Ouch! ten points for the double diss, five points for the use of "foray", which made me imagine the hapless land-lubber OED editors bailing like Jumblies in their sieve...

Bruges, Paris and the spectres of Symbolism

"What they were looking for can be seen in the famous portrait of the Belgian Symbolist painted by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer in 1895, three years after the publication of Bruges-la-Morte, which is now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It depicts Rodenbach in an open-necked white shirt, with a stylized Bruges behind him. There are gabled housefronts and a beguinhof on his left, a cathedral tower on his right, and, below it, a low stone bridge. His shoulders seem to merge with the canal at his back, and he looks thin and ghostly (he died three years later, in the same year as his friend and master, Mallarmé). Rodenbach appears as the city’s emanation, a pale flower from its watery depths; at the same time, Bruges is like a crepuscular think-bubble, existing only as the writer’s projection. The persistence of that image, or its persistent vagueness, is attested to by the fact that in the Pisan Cantos, meditating on the lost world of European Symbolism, Pound remembers, or half-remembers, “somebody’s portrait of Rodenbach”. If the Symbolist unconscious could be represented as a city, that city was Bruges..."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas folks! Play Safe!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Nanaimo Southend and South Wellington Trees

Friday, December 22, 2006

Proposed new colour schemes at the Hospital.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

a couple of wonderful Laura Nyro performances--Poverty Train & Save the Country

rather enjoyed the new BBC live action version of The Wind In The Willows--Ratty & Mole were fine (though they never make Rat serious enough) but Matt Lucas' Toad & Bob Hoskins' Badger were definitive--"Piper at the Gates of Dawn" left on the cutting room floor as usual, though...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Octopus Escapes Through One-Inch Hole

Stubble and Slough in Dakota

The happiness of a hunting party
is like that of a wedding,

so important is it
that true love shall rule.


A crow flies through
the tinkle of the last window on earth
carrying in its beak
the clementine eye of God,
around his neck a Diana set to bulb
the nitrate views of Minot
the deep sturgeons of Superior
Red Hills of death & indebtedness,
iron pocked surface with fake bulletholes,
elevators tight with mustard, canola, durum,
evolving past kingship with a penitential swoop.


The sun has set,
and no longer bathes
the landscape
in its golden light,
and yet I sit
in the water and mud
and indulge this pleasurable
taste for gore, wondering
why it is so ecstatic,
or if my companions
will not give over
shooting presently.


Cut it out of your thoughts
as though snipping
the furball dreads
from a feral angora,
roll it out the snowy driveway
into the path of a boxy 4X4
with homemade chains
snapping & scattering in the ice,
press it to a wafer
in a tower of turtles.

Friday, December 15, 2006

farewell Ahmet Ertegun (far right, with the Coasters & (Frank OHara's pal) Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller) founder of Atlantic Records, which brought the world Ray Charles, Aretha &c &c. George Trow's New Yorker profile (half of "In the Context of No Context") is very much worth seeking out.

today's YouTube - Skip James-Devil Got My Woman (via metafilter)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hunting the Grizzly Bear

The poor idiotic boy
could not even then
realize the danger
through which he had passed,
and could only appease his anger
by continuing to maul
the bear over the head
with the camp kettle
for several minutes
after she was dead.

Thus from the rococo woods
stumble into the mannerist clearing

or is that muskeg
into which our hooves sunk

sucked runners off escaping subjects
replacing chickens with used books

so slowly no one noticed
until their cakeless birthdays rolled around--

on the icon they've got baby Jesus
standing upright in a dear little

junior pantocrator outfit--
orb & mace, little brocade robe

heavier than him, looking up at his mum
who looks through me.


Bears are usually,
though not always,
killed at considerable distances
from towns, or even ranches,
where it is not easy
to find a pair of scales.


Still hunters of the lyric
must shower with carbolic
to erase the stench of patronage,
build their hides with beaten pewter
to deflect the low winter sun's
dust-revealing torch
as it plays on yellowing pads
& capless brown markers,
they must fold their arms into little wings
and pretend to sing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Warping Human Nature

God Damn US!

You, me and you and all the rest.

The unthinkable has happened and soon deliberate human climate change will be spun as a potential triumph. The current (US) administration has long been promoting and actually accelerating carbon emissions via a pathetic petroleum based fuel economy, inefficient and dirty power generation and transmission, shortsighted and destructive resource extraction and management combined with hollow recycling programs, and on and on and on. All this as a concerted privileged economic policy- While concurrently denying any correlation between oil dependency and dismal environmental policy failures with the increased carbon content of our air and water that is enabled and encouraged. At the same time our govt. scientists are developing for immediate usage ‘small scale nuclear bombs’, ie huge bunker busters, much larger than the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to bomb the 3rd world completely into a new radioactive stone age compounded by massive death, burns, radiation sickness, soil and water contamination, and all the ensuing radiation problems affecting generations for possibly thousands of years.

You and I pay the aggressive military scientists and lobbyist stooges their inflated salaries to think up this insane shit and perpetrate it on our behalf. In exchange we receive the phasing out of social security, the release of genetically modified food without adequate testing, the increasing privatization and construction of toll roads, and crap education and skyrocketing healthcare costs if you are lucky enough to afford them, just to name a few.

I have long believed that the evil motherfuckers serving as our government leaders and scientist tools have approached nuclear warfare as a beneficial geopolitical tool to fuck up certain religions, and a nuclear winter as just some black trick up the magician’s sleeve to ‘bring the earth into balance’.

For several years now I’ve been producing scenes containing snowmen and mushroom clouds- highlighting the two extremes, while being afraid and certain that these soulless puppets would eventually combine these elements of the apparent dichotomy at some point in the near future. * To try and use evil to fix evil in a Dr. Strangelove-esque scenario (With the problems actually created by the supposed hero/absolvers in denial). A complete validation of Pierre Boulez’ novel, Planet of the Apes, where human greed completely and totally overruns common sense and progression of the species. President of the NRA Charlton Heston shall beat his chest in Triumph (of the Will)! And just think- All to offset the repulsive destruction of earth that they simultaneously promote and capitalize on!

It was only a matter of time before my dreadful fears became someone else’s liberating dreams- Merging day with night in the hopes of creating a perpetual grey twilight- much like sacrificing Israel to progress the Apocalypse. An improbable task, but one that will make the perpetrators (government stooges with no value of animal or human life) and the complicit accomplices (average citizens who are more comfortable watching sports than dealing with real issues that affect them personally) feel useful and self righteous still, as opposed to the blind selfish greedy fiends that we know ourselves to be…

At this rate it will not be long before the bombing of non Christian nations becomes a matter of patriotic pride and survival for the rest of us(a). That includes me and probably includes you…

Gold Bless You and Gold Rain on the USA!

Bruce Conkle

Dec 12th, 2006"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On Snow Shoes to Barren Grounds

The storm
was now squarely
in our teeth,
and the dogs
would not face it.


Face the skin & snap of it,
like business cards or snowpeas hurled
at the eyeteeth but hitting the lenses,
suddenly your wig is tighter
than your pants, forepaws
caked with frosting
palming meatballs past numbness--
your gold watch is
we don't eat you,
but the bear
or its surrogates needn't twig that!
But even not knowing the handshake
you could walk these Druid Hills unmolested
sneakers painted with lime,
breath neutral to minty,
predator smile projecting
a half-step ahead as
the plane tree tops of Coffey Park
poke and wave through the ice...


These people
had never before
seen a camera, and
many of my plates
show them scurrying away
or turning their backs.


Waves of wax
ebbed over the fly
until at last
he supplanted the wick
and burned on the counter
for over an hour.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ben Katchor reads Love Teller (YouTube) and gives you some some Paper Dolls of characters from his immortal 1998 "The Jew of New York"...

Sugar Magnolia & Oregon Pine from The American Woods

"Radial, tangential, and cross-sections of 350 North American woods from the 14-volume rare book The American Woods, published between 1888 and 1910 by the author, Romeyn Beck Hough."

(more at BibliOdyssey)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Upper Peninsula

Such strawberries as these
need to be seen

to be appreciated and must be
visited to be seen,

for they are too large and
too delicate

to bear much travel


A cold ragged-trousered arrival
we had of it, into such weather

as would strip us clean
we thought, the bell bottom

bottoms likewise unhemmed
the better for to drag sticks

along like the furrowing bellies
of a fat clumping cat,

less walking than a kind
of controlled trip through

skinned coffeemate puddles
to unwaiting basements

and uncontrolled thaw.
To open the window

was to invite death, or if not
a long snooze in the Legions

of North Battleford, Cold Lake,
Pickle Lake, Humboldt--

anyway as far up as Basic Stick
had taught the locals to hip shuffle

& thus in appreciation buy beers
for the band including retinue.

Later Jerry Lee, Haggard, Kind of a
Drag & Kind of Blue.


It is the name
of a river, a canoe trip
down which
has all the charms
of wood life
without its discomfort.


Last dependant leaf
swinging like a rusty gate

or a kid's emphatic
no way headshake

getting carried away
& falling into an earthquake.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

from the mighty Isola di Rifiuti--

"“Rien,” as Mallarmé so aptly put it. Snow accumulating under Wallace Stevens’s hat. Thomas Pynchon talks about the “suburban imperative”—right up the alley with Thoreau’s “quiet desperation,” what most men live lives of. One makes a little niche for oneself, keeps a blank white notebook nearby. Nudges one’s furriest utterances to the cave-mouth, out into the unblinker’d lambency of spangled light. Morton Feldman: “When you play an instrument, you’re not only playing the instrument; the instrument is playing you.” Nidges and nods of agreement. The language: a fish-bone in the sun. We a nidgery to it, and its only begetter. Language acting like Marcel Duchamp asking John Cage, that terribly poor student of chess, “Don’t you ever want to win?” Of course not, bourgeois miscreant! One desires language to cook in its own juices like a cutlet, desires it malleable and off-putting, consistency of the brain of a small child. Baudelaire: complacency in a shoe, an abattoir of complacency. “A very nodypoll nydiote myghtbe a shamed to saye yt.” First cousin to lucid prose, no?"

East River Raft

"I have climbed high in the steel of new bridges and skyscrapers, and laughed with sandhogs building caissons deep beneath the dark water. When I was a child, the port of New York was my playground, and since I had never been far from home, it offered much of what little I knew about the world beyond the river.

I often walked the piers with my father in the summertime, sometimes riding high on his shoulders, past thick webs of netting loaded with bananas and rare woods, touched by the breezes of distant oceans that mingled with the fragrance of spices and exotic teas; pausing to stare in awe at the huge smoke-clouded stacks of great ocean liners, sometimes eight at once, that loomed above the tenement rooftops..."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

sad to learn here that the essayist George Trow has died. His 1980 "Within the Context of No Context" was crucial for me.

“Television is dangerous because it operates according to an attention span that is childish but is cold. It simulates the warmth of a childish response but is cold. If it were completely successful in simulating the warmth of childish enthusiasm — that is, if it were warm — would that be better? It would be better only in a society that had agreed that childish warmth and spontaneity were equivalent to public virtue; that is, a society of children. What is a cold child? A sadist.”

Kevin Davies' Comp., traduit de l'anglais par Xandaire Sélène

"Comp. dresse un portrait acide de l'Amérique au tournant du XXIe siècle. Dans le prolongement critique de la poésie L=a=n=g=u=a=g=e, Kevin Davies tire son matériau lyrique des discours qui font la sphère publique nord-américaine. Livre-poème en cinq parties, Comp. désarçonne et relance la lecture par une composition libre, qui sélectionne, assemble, remixe. Ruptures de ton, glissements de sens, syntaxe et vers combinatoires emportent cette comédie de langage, où se profile l'homo economicus moderne en pleine surproduction agitée.

S'écrivant depuis des points de vue toujours mobiles, Comp. se construit en reprenant à son compte les thèmes, les préoccupations et les rhétoriques du pouvoir, du militarisme, de l'obsession de la gestion, des combats idéologiques, de l'automatisation, du corporatisme triomphant, du consumérisme comme mode de vie, de la médiation à tout prix et en tout.

Au-delà de la vigueur critique des textes, la composition rythmique et visuelle de chaque page, de chaque poème confère au livre une beauté indéfinissable, en porte-à-faux, où résonnent, flottant, les échos d'un feuilleton collectif que tous les langages traversent d'office : Comp. les éprouve et les ausculte à l'écoute de vérités pliées.

Délicieuses erreurs de communication, les phrases et les vers se font ici en se défaisant, et leur force est de réaliser le potentiel poétique du bruissement continu des discours qui nous entourent – qui constituent le véritable landscape américain d'aujourd'hui, qu'il est encore possible d'investir et de transformer..."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hap'ly re-reading Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon in preparation for planned post-Xmas curl-up with the new one & suddenly here is this splendid on-line reference...