Saturday, February 18, 2006

special Saturday night treat: a sneak preview of Kevin Davies' "One-eyed Seller of Garlic" (excuse mild-reformatting)--


Nothing to do
but study the architecture
of the abandoned Recluse
And examine the way Bill
deletes Dot
from various poems
containing daffodils and not
But I have stood
and stared, if not stooped
to labour
And I have introduced
a new and crucial content into verse
Defending the dalesmen and their ways
visible certain devices
But I won't be translated
into French
until 1949
And I am surrounded
by trick questions, which I avoid
As I would a papist, or a Fenian
A terrible hangover one Grasmere morning
Smack dab in the middle
of literary history
Is one fucking
cup of tea too much to ask?
I ask you,
bending into the head throb
Is it all a waste
The mere ante-chamber of the chapel
In two, thirteen,
finally fourteen books
I will describe the terror beyond god
Waiting in
downtown Bangor
for the bus that connects to the mall-hopper

 Posted by Picasa

review of a novel about Gilbert White's tortoise Timothy--

"So it is with humans," Timothy explains. "Quickness draws their eye. Entangles their attention. What they notice they call reality. But reality is a fence with many holes, a net with many tears." Just as Melville revealed the ambivalence of the natural, Timothy sees ambivalence in the human: "The truth of my time among humans. As subject to their neglect, their forgetfulness, their most trivial intentions, as I am to their malice. As vulnerable to their wonder as their loathing." Yet there is cause for hope, even sympathy. "Sense of wonder rising within him," Timothy observes of the aging White. "Not at the beauty of nature alone. But at what it knows."

 Posted by Picasa

Chapter xxxii - CETOLOGY

"But it is a ponderous task; no ordinary letter-sorter in the Post- office is equal to it. To grope down into the bottom of the sea after them; to have one's hands among the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis of the world; this is a fearful thing. What am I that I should essay to hook the nose of this Leviathan! The awful tauntings in Job might well appal me. "Will he (the Leviathan) make a covenant with thee? Behold the hope of him is vain!" But I have swam through libraries and sailed through oceans; I have had to do with whales with these visible hands; I am in earnest; and I will try..."

 Posted by Picasa

Ahab gives up smoking, from chapter XXX "The Pipe" of Rockwell Kent's Lakeside Press Edition of Moby Dick (Victor Levy-Bealieu's "Monsieur Melville" very effectively uses cropped close-ups of many of these among its many illustrations)--

"Some moments passed, during which the thick vapor came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which blew back again into his face. "How now," he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, "this smoking no longer soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring, - aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and fullest of trouble. What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I'll smoke no more - "

He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made..."

 Posted by Picasa
another review of Taylor Branch's At Canaan's Edge

"Then, of course, there were the white people. Branch very deftly documents the ways in which the careers of an entire generation of conservative politicians depended upon managing the rhetoric of racial backlash. Here, for example, is Ronald Reagan's voice playing over an ominous film of riots in a commercial for his 1966 gubernatorial campaign: “Every day the jungle draws a little closer.... Our city streets are jungle paths after dark.” And Branch notes that the man who would become Reagan's presidential successor, then-Houston congressman George H.W. Bush, gave a 1968 speech criticizing “miscellaneous purchases under the federal anti-poverty program” in which he charged that seven new microscopes the government had bought for schools in his Houston district were in fact “rifle scopes secretly retooled for insurrection.” But if there's a failure in Branch's book, it's that he dwells too briefly upon this theme. For all his great characters, Branch decides not to create even one iconic figure of what would become the great white backlash—the defining feature of politics for the next quarter-century."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rockwell Kent's Casanova, from a nice little portfolio...
 Posted by Picasa

lured temporarily from the deck of the "Pequod" this week by the (since superseded oh well) Arthur Machen translation of the Memoirs of Casanova (here online) acquired in a bargain near-mint boxed version of the three-volume 1960 Dover (with that smooth paper they used to use still snowy white) edition with Rockwell Kent illustrations...

 Posted by Picasa

John Kricfalusi (above, with Bjork) of Ren and Stimpy fame has a cool new blog...
 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 16, 2006

farewell Barbara Guest--

Wild Gardens Overlooked by Night Lights

Wild gardens overlooked by night lights. Parking
lot trucks overlooked by night lights. Buildings
with their escapes overlooked by lights

They urge me to seek here on the heights
amid the electrical lighting that self who exists,
who witnesses light and fears its expunging,

I take from my wall the landscape with its water
of blue color, its gentle expression of rose,
pink, the sunset reaches outward in strokes as the west wind
rises, the sun sinks and color flees into the delicate
skies it inherited,
I place there a scene from "The Tale of the Genji."

An episode where Genji recognizes his son.
Each turns his face away from so much emotion,
so that the picture is one of profiles floating
elsewhere from their permanence,
a line of green displaces these relatives,
black also intervenes at correct distances,
the shapes of the hair are black.

Black describes the feeling,
is recognized as remorse, sadness,

black is a headdress while lines slant swiftly,
the space is slanted vertically with its graduating
need for movement,

Thus the grip of realism has found
a picture chosen to cover the space
occupied by another picture
establishing a flexibility so we are not immobile
like a car that spends its night
outside a window, but mobile like a spirit.

I float over this dwelling, and when I choose
enter it. I have an ethnological interest
in this building, because I inhabit it
and upon me has been bestowed the decision of changing
an abstract picture of light into a ghost-like story
of a prince whose principality I now share,
into whose confidence I have wandered.

Screens were selected to prevent this intrusion
of exacting light and add a chiaroscuro,
so that Genji may turn his face from his son,
from recognition which here is painful,
and he allows himself to be positioned on a screen,
this prince as noble as ever,
songs from the haunted distance
presenting themselves in silks.

The light of fiction and light of surface
sink into vision whose illumination
exacts its shades,

The Genji when they arose
strolled outside reality
their screen dismantled,
upon that modern wondering space
flash lights from the wild gardens.

 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

very good Charles Taylor on the third volume of Taylor Branch's Martin Luther King biography--

"Against the current certainty on the right and the left that the other side is beneath contempt, not worth talking to -- an attitude that leaves no possibility for real change and reduces democracy to majority tyranny, no matter who is in power -- we have King's belief in the ability of people and their country to overcome the worst in themselves. In his vision empathy is not appeasement but the beginning of change. In his introduction, Branch quotes the last words of Mickey Schwerner, spoken to the Klansmen who held a gun to his head: "Sir, I know just how you feel." That's the challenge this story throws down to us. How can any less be expected of those of us who don't have a gun to our heads?"

 Posted by Picasa

"Damage done by the Asiatic Exclusion League to the boarding houses of T. Kato and H. Hayashi, 230 and 236 Powell Street
8 - 9 Sept. 1907 / Vancouver, B.C"


Framing Canada--lots and lots of searchable pictures...

 Posted by Picasa

Aguas de Marco-- enchanting embedded b & w Quicktime (via robot wisdom) of Ellis Regina with "Tom" Jobim singing one of my favorite songs around 1970. Think of it is a belated Valentine.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 13, 2006

interesting 1974 Clive James on the successes and failures of Sandy Denny--

"Here, had she but known it, was a straight message from the Muse: the text of "Tam Lin" should have told her that the language of the past is too alive to be copied, and can only be competed with by the language of the present. As it happened, she went on to attempt a contemporary folk language composed mainly of archaisms, and so was unable either to extend the resources of the modern song or add to the heritage of the ancient one -which was composed, in its time, not out of scholarship but out of the language of the day. Swarbrick�s excellent edition of "Tam Lin" (there are dozens of versions, but his is of exactly the right length and dramatic structure) has the continuous linguistic interest by which a strophic song can gain from its repetitive form, and inversions like "as fast as go can she" fall with a naturalness that no modern writer can possibly match. She sang the song with dazzling attack, as alive to its theatrical force as she was deaf to its lesson..."

 Posted by Picasa

looking forward to seeing Hank and Ciff Robertson in the 1964 Gore Vidal scripted campaign drama The Best Man tonight at 10:30 Pacific on TCM...

 Posted by Picasa

the new Doppelganger magazine has a memoir by Peter Quartermain, a portfolio by Jason McLean, a piece by Chris Brayshaw and a new section of "Big Trees in Seattle"

 Posted by Picasa

the winter issue of Fascicle has lots of work by the likes of Lee Ann Brown, Brenda Iijima, etc etc including this poem by Brenda Coultas from "The Abolitionist's Journal"--

"The Bluegrass State

Although they are called the Bluegrass
state, they are better known for their
weed. You can buy any kind of drug in
most factory parking lots.
There are drive thru liquor stores and
dry counties in Kentucky.
They have bluegrass music and a radio
show called Old Scratchy records. Bill Monroe and the Shady Boys lived there.

Daniel Boone brought the first slaves to
Kentuckians roller-skate in old tobacco
barns and frequent the "World's Largest
Thrift Shop" in Louisville. Everyone
strips tobacco in Kentucky.
They know barbecue and horses in

Wendell Berry, a poet, is from
The shakers built a round barn in

For heaven's sake, Kentucky is all that
separates us from Tennessee.

My husband tells everyone we are going
to Kentucky because people get very
excited about this idea called Kentucky.

I was a member of the Owensboro,
Kentucky Junior Coin club.
Johnny Depp and Richard Hell went to
high school in Kentucky.
I've never been to Rough River nor
Goldie's Opera House in Owensboro.

I attended the reburied of native
American graves in Kentucky.
There is a Paris, Kentucky. and a Paris,
Lilly Tomlin and Bobbie Ann Mason
are from Paducah.
Ashley Judd is from Ashville, Kentucky.

There are underground coal mines in KY
and strip mines in Indiana.
I like the strong labor unions of
Kentucky where everyone sits on
WC Handy was born in Henderson
where they fought to keep super Wal-
mart out.
John Jay Audubon lived with his slaves
in the wilds of Kentucky.
Josiah Henson escaped from
Yellowbanks (Owensboro) Kentucky.

Edgar Cayce and bell hooks are from
I stayed at Land Between the Lakes
once, a huge man-made lake in a dry
county, near the Eddyville prison.

I had my collarbone set in Kentucky.
My mother had a hysterectomy in

I know a man who calls it K-wacky.
They grow their fingernails
long and gouge out eyes. Brothers and
sisters and first cousins marry each
other. No one is a virgin. They bite off
ears and lips in barroom brawls in

Disclaimer: I am sorry about all the
beans I spilled on Kentucky. You should
know that some of my family members
and friends are Kentuckians. "

Posted by Picasa

good writer Lee Siegel has a nice flash slide show about sculptor David Smith

 Posted by Picasa