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Ephemeris  August 2011

 

Aug 31, 2011: So there is a 31st of August, after all. I have yet to get that jingle right - 30 days hath September and Bob's your uncle—Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is still running around like a demented woodpecker high on torture, having transformed an already ghoulish America into his own private vestibule. That is to say he is the one vice-president who genuinely made a difference, who did not just waggle his fingers now and then at this or that assemblage of party hacks. Put a dress on him and he could pass for one of Cary Grant's aunties - from Arsenic and Old Lace—Last night, just outside the door to Honey Martin's, which it is a bar, a watering-hole, a species of grad club for the tragically self-infatuated, some gentleman pulled a Virgil to my Dante and said, "You don't look the sort of guy to be going in there. Especially now. It's trivia night. They're doing trivia in there." But it all made sense to me. How could it be otherwise? Dante spoke nothing but whoppers in that whopper of a poem he inflicted on Italy. For history always has this as its broken record, and the record always yawps: the world is crashing down around our ears and we are doing trivia. And why not? A darling has to have his or her downtime. Darling he or she is not empowered for nothing. In any case, you wait and see: we'll get it right. We always do. Yes, and after E the minx left me to the tender mercies of such hoi polloi types as were perpetually and without cease referencing electronic thingamajigs and idly wondering if there were any reality points to be gained should this or that creep or creepess be bedded; should this or that fugitive of suburban hellholes be imbued with 'awesome' qualities, divinity even, I finally got it right: I fled. I took leave of my initial error, which was that I had trundled along in the first place, knowing from prior experience that, anthropologically speaking, I would learn nothing new by it and could contribute nothing by way of consequent ological gleanings to an unsuspecting world. Then, in the morning, I receive notice from London Lunar that he is withdrawing his effing self from the interview that I have been attempting to conduct with his effing self - himself the putative interviewee, for reasons that I am not likely at liberty to discuss, though you are free to imagine what you will. Even so, I shall cobble together the more presentable parts of said interview, because they deserve to be cobbled, and present them somehow; because they deserve to be presented to a public that apparently exists, despite the fact that it is, no doubt, a figment of my you know what. In which interview London Lunar, with some trepidation, did manage to pinch the limp wrist of Poetry between forefinger and thumb and check for a pulse. In other words, I will interview myself. And as for that Roman period piece which I have been reading, in respect to the previous post, I spoke too soon. No sooner am I rewarded for my trouble with a page or two of some quite decent writing in a category of 'history genre', then the author reverts to prior form, and is once again mangling rhythm by chopping up sentences as if they were so many strings of over-cooked pasta. Is once again thinking so highly of us that she assumes we can read the minds of her characters without aid of even the most wispish of clues. But worst of all, she looks to drown us in her to the manor born manner, which it is all human foibles are to be 'tolerated' according to some script prepared by the BBC; tolerated, yes, but not encouraged. She has just brought Nero on stage. He has just had his main rival Britannicus poisoned at a banquet. Her heroine is a witness to the deed. She promptly gets pneumonia. Life is effing filthy. Mais oui—

Aug 30, 2011: I meant, this morning, to expend a word or two on writers of Roman period pieces; how it is like shooting fish in a barrel, going on about them; but that now and then the unexpected happens, and even if an author is absolutely determined that it shall not happen, a character leaps off the page and grabs one by the throat. In this instance, the author in question suddenly suspends her effort to present the reader with a suitable female role model from which other writers - male or female - might draw their female characters, and eh voila, here's some smelly old ex-slave, one who is cagey, suspicious, highly intelligent, amenable to all self-gratification but also disciplined and organized, has an eye on the bouncing ball, and, what's this, he's running Claudius Caesar's empire, attending to the nuts and bolts of administration. Moreover, he's about something more than feathering his nest, though he will, but of course, feather away like gangbusters—He is the Narcissus I know from history books, but the author has granted him a reprieve from her own programmatics and, insensibly, he lives. Still, to pursue this matter in more detail requires a more extended piece of writing on my part, and I am slothful; I am unambitious, and I have not the patience—Just that it is now and then, especially when one least expects it, a happy day when an author puts aside the agendas, and the research and the arrhythmic sentences, and something begins to gather pace and, well, it begins to course along - for a paragraph or two. And then - oh dear - colony collapse. Until another intervention by way of the imagination happens along. In any case, while on the subject of empire, are the old colonizers as of this moment divvying up Libya? Or what? Shall a cynic have his unseemly triumphal moment in the sun? I am not happy with the post previous to this post, but then it is part of my 'code' as it were, that in respect to these writings, a card laid is a card played, and that, because of the almost daily manifestations of these scribblings, I cannot always expect to hit high levels of thought, let alone any level of thought; let alone a consistent standard of writerly excellence; just that I am afraid I may have given the appearance of one who wishes to defend stuffy, old notions of literature when it is not the case at all. Even so, I do not see why I must apologize for the fact that I have long noticed a paradox that obtains not only in literature but is there for one and all to see, and to hear - in everyday speech in everyday places : how it is the 'contemporary' is not always best suited to treat with the 'now', and for reasons I am not sure I comprehend. But that it would explain why it is I still get goose bumps on occasion when something out of Homer or Aeschylus comes at me, or out of Shakespeare or Abraham Lincoln, for that matter; and I could make you quite a list of names that populate the so-called canon - here's Sappho going for the apple on the tree; that some poor wretch is speaking directly to me from deep, deep time. As to time deep or depressingly shallow, I have long had it in mind to ask a certain entity a certain question, only I have always expected to have to suffer horribly for the temerity. But what the hell, I did put the following question to London Lunar and did receive quite the reply - in draft form. You haven't written a poem in a long time. Why? (Note the capacity for mischief in that 'why' - however aggressively, peevishy or wearily it comes off - about to liberate a wallet in a back alley or get cheeky with some less than cooperative deity.) And when the reply finally settles into a presentable state and is duly placed in the venue for which it is intended, I will alert any reader of these posts to the fact and supply the attendant particulars. For now, let me say  that, at one point, London Lunar goes on about envy, that he is inexplicably free of it. In light of which assertion I confess I am not. Yes, envy and full-blown jealousy are such blights in a person, real downers, if you will, but it is envy that tells me I am in the presence, for instance, of a good or even a great poem. Inevitably I hear myself saying: "D—n it all, wish I'd written that—"

Aug 29, 2011: I read, this morning, that Chris Hedges (Pulitzer-Prizer, a journalist and war correspondent who wrote for the NY Times and now writes for Truthdig on-line) suggests that we untie ourselves from whatever mast to which we lashed ourselves and abandon ship. All that is left to us is non-compliance or collaboration. It's all over now, Baby Blue, et cetera. He is addressing Americans primarily. He is either clear-eyed and enjoys the use of a canny stethoscope or he is an outright paranoid. Well, I have not yet had my coffee; I have not yet stuck my finger in the air to test the breezes - though there was quite a breeze yesterday, what with a 'hurricane' having ambled up this far from the Bahamas; and a certain cabin in a vale directly to the east of here may be afloat in Lake Memphremagog at this moment - or not, as it sits or was known to have been sitting on a creek that debouches into that body of water. (Alright, to be sure, I am stalling for time, attempting to get my thoughts in order - just that I see Mr Hedges as a canary of sorts regardless of his views, and what he has to say indicates to me where things could be headed - nowhere necessarily idyllic.) MH brought back as booty from the coast a rag that hails by the name of AdBusters (putative journal of the mental environment - oh dear, are our psyches slated for a little recycling?), the current issue seemingly devoted to a notion of post-anarchism. How very chic. Which is to say that, at first blush, the rag is of interest. It has obviously identified and tagged a few malaises that addle a significant portion of the populace - even in Toronto, and it inveighs against sophistication inasmuch as the 'sophisticate' among us is more than likely corrupt, because steeped in those communication skills by which one manages to appear like one of the good guys but is a rotter through and through—And then language weeps. AdBusters at second blush is the hip equivalent of the rather stuffy Mr Hedges who rather tartly notes that the game is lost in any case, never mind the figure one cuts or fails to cut, and that the stuffy Chomskys and the like have been saying for a while now that it has been coming; and that liberals and artists and, God knows, poets, carry water and hew wood for those who have come, had a look-see around, and conquered, and that this species of obliging bureaucrat will continue to carry water and hew wood and keep things tickety-poo for the one per centers for the foreseeable future. AdBusters itself is nothing but knock your socks off sophistication when it comes to its treatment of images and minimalist texts for truncated yuppie concentration-spans, and it betrays its own desire to meld the revolutionary with the modish and stylish as per how it went down in the 60s - think Warhol, perhaps—Ipso facto, first blush, and I was intrigued. Third blush, and I smell the sell-out already made to order. Which brings me around to saying that I have a glimmer of comprehension in respect to those ancient Greeks who liked to populate geographical regions with mythological grotesques - centaurs and such - and, like so, I view Vancouver and its denizens who enjoy human guise but who may also have found ways to elude a few of the more iron-clad strictures of the evolutionary process, hence the exotica of the various bella figura modes on sample there— Living on the coast (from the 80s on) was like sucking oxygen from within a shiny bubble the outside of which was not hinterland so much as a shadow on a cave wall, like Squamish, for example, or Kamloops, and I cannot believe that much has changed since I departed the area in '94', a lifetime ago. Reality then. As Augustus Caesar, in his capacity as High Priest of Roman religion, controlled the passage of calendar time, so the powers that be at this hour would control how it is we ascertain' reality'. Mr Hedges declares that the powers that be understand to a 't' what the realities are and are not, and the rest of us accept being merely 'managed' and 'massaged' in lieu of knowing to a 't', but that a few intrepid sorts about to abandon ship are beginning to get a glimmer of - you fill in the blank. Even so, as I intimated early on in this post, Mr Hedges's view may be the most paranoid of all possible paranoias in the sense that no one entity ever has that much control over how the cookie crumbles and we are all of us at sea always and all the time. And yet, I do not doubt that there are certain people who have a great deal invested in a desire to keep certain other people under thumb, as it is the latter grouping of people who have lost and are steadily losing that which has accrued - as wealth and other perks - to the former grouping. And here is the nature of my own paranoia: that I see no guarantee of cheap thrills conflagration in the streets looming up ahead, though some sort of bonfire of the vanities is entirely possible; no, what I see is absolute indifference to absolutely everything that would measure and make sense of things, language thoroughly debased by the double whammy of phenoms such as 'art-speak' and 'dumbing-down', discourse pretty much ad hoc patois. We have lost our grip on why the more formal considerations of language ought to have mattered when employed in their proper time and place (and poets are as culpable in this dismissal of sentience as any other Average Joe of whatever gender); and we are increasingly incapable of discussing what is happening to us beyond saying, "Hey man, like duh, we're f—d". Woke this morning with a dream that was a send-up of some bad, campy sci-fi - something on the order of Planet of the Apes. That part of my dream-state self that perpetually critiques the dreams as they unfold was heard to guffaw and say, "My, but this is rich. Kind of like the waking life, don't you think?" To which waking life one comes with trepidation on occasion. And so forth and so on and anon—

Aug 28, 2011: Champagne and cheese at one in the morning, MH having flown back from her sojourn on the coast with progeny. On Anacortes Island, at a camp site on the beach, she met some 'thoughtful' Americans who did not at all correspond to the image of Americans gone rabid from their politics and the 'state of their union'. Otherwise I am not quite altogether, this morning, and can only report that I have intended to 'interview' London Lunar for a rogue literary venue, and that he himself 'intends to think'. Good God, but the lad is trying to think, oh, as to why he has not written a poem in quite a long spate of time. But has it been a failure of spirit on my part that I, for instance, have seen fit to persist with unseemly behaviour such as involves verse-making? London Lunar has a way of batting an eyelash and tables are turned—Stay tuned. Yesterday, at 'bratwurst', I mentioned to Labrosse, very gross generalization on my part, that I found that CanLit novels are good at grinding out 'agendas' that are resplendent with protean heroes and heroines but (with a few exceptions) poor in simply letting 'characters live their lives' without apologies to grant juries, however good, bad or ugly those lives might happen to be. In other words, if one family has a problem with incest, then every family in the world, or at least every family west of a certain longitude, and in large swathes of Ontario, necessarily and programmatically has a problem with incest - we are all of us beset with it and blindsided, and one must suspect one's neighbour of the same, and we ought to pass a bill in parliament. Problem? There is a problem with the signal service between the calling cards of the 'universal' and the 'particular'; there is confusion between what a writer ought or ought not to do and what ologists do for filthy lucre so as to pay the rent and the cable bill. Which is why, until I recently took up Moby Dick again, I stopped reading novels and opted for Tacitus. If we're going to do incest—Labrosse threw up his hands. "Mais oui," he said, for no reason in particular, but that it was a fine afternoon in Montreal-NDG.


Aug 27, 2011: Say an author chooses not to write of his small town upbringing from fear that the writing will trap him - like a mosquito in amber - in its bullying and pettiness and provincial awfulness, and worse, make him one of them. Is he then a snob, not to be tolerated, to be ejected from a collective of writerly types as if an alien infestation? Say that peer pressure is brought to bear, and now it is write that book or else - write the effing thing or we'll relieve you of your private parts - with a rusty beer tin—And so, the book gets duly written, but that no one gives a straw - no one ever did in the first place - it was all a ruse - a species of amusement - a way of whiling away long, winter nights—Or say, one chooses to write the book, after all, in all sincerity and from out of one's free will; and one rates, for one's trouble, a rave review in a premier newspaper, more kudos in the offing, possibly even the country's most distinguished literary prize (however debased it has become) - so now, now what? Is one now inescapably a Smallville-ite, ruined because condemned to repeat the same literary stokes over and over with no commensurate deepening of the understanding that one's subject matter should have necessitated in the first instance, as one has been arrested, sidelined, derailed, distracted, and shelved for the duration, and forever? You may not recognize the literary climate of which I speak, but I do—Yesterday afternoon at 'bratwurst', he about to be lost to us on account of the imminent school year, DW was on about a number of things all tumbling through his speechifying like so much mountain scree set in motion by an inadvertent misstep. "Everything happened indoors, you know, the curtains drawn...good Irish Catholics always drew their curtains...the drinking...the wife-beating...we were little terrors...brother a pyromaniac...quite the little menace—" Why, the subject of his discourse was Montreal-NDG, and in its glory years; and Labrosse, a Shawinigan product, was seemingly entranced by DW's treatment of the 'life', or else his inner eyes had glassed over, his outer eyes humouring the poor sod. (As for myself, I grew up on American army bases overseas and otherwise, and you would be surprised at how cosmopolitan an ambience they were. There I was in the middle of Mormon Utah, secret outback, reading Verlaine at age twelve—) DW's monologue was brought to an abruptly-occasioned hiatus as a little sprite of a girl, skipping along, approached us - just like that - a fairytale emanation. She was blowing a flood of iridescent bubbles from out of some contraption—DW, enraptured: "Will you look at that—" The girl's father was now front and centre, and the one pedagogue must have instinctively recognized the other by way of markings not visible to ordinary mortals, as they were soon enough shaking hands and talking shop and the girl and the bubble gun. DW: "Got to get me one of those - what it couldn't do for me in class - the little effers—" Pedagogue #2: "I hear you." And though Labrosse had fathered daughters and raised them, it was clear he had not the range of expertise such as these two men possessed in respect to the 'little effers', and, and as for me, I would never know. Father and child passed on. But it had been a cheery interlude, and, as such, a new round was called for, for which exotic toasts were required. Yes, and what about those toasts that originate in Equatorial Guinea with which we had been familiarized some days ago by a gentleman from those parts? He had assigned us each our own individual toast - to be used like a signature, if you will—DW remembered his oombay. Clearly, he was never going to tire of uttering it. Mine was something like infoo, but I cannot recall exactly—Labrosse seemed to have forgotten his. (Perhaps a gentleman from Equatorial Guinea was laughing somewhere, though he had seemed to be acting in good faith at the time.) "Well then,"I said, "I have something to interject into this shabby scene." DW: "Which would be what?" "As we are a little shaky in this matter of toasts, how about a brand new one engineered on the spot?" "And it is?" "It is - prepare your glass -why it's 'awf—k'. To you, sir, and you - awf—k, and may the bird of the proverbial fly up each your filthy nostrils." "Sounds vaguely oriental - could be Arabic—" At length, mirth departed DW's weary, long-suffering, pedagogical eyes, and he was on about NATO and how NATO had quarantined Libya, which it was Libya was not going to be another Iraq, whatever hideous doings were now occurring there. Labrosse noted that, well, yes, the slaughter has been going on in that part of the world for centuries—At which mention I bridled somewhat, long enough to point out that not so long ago we had been Europeans, and Europeans were not to be outdone as butchers of one another by any other conclave of butchers; and though we had crossed an ocean and put all that behind us, why, look, there had been the civil war to the south of us - one of history's bloodiest, most vicious conflicts ever - and besides, look what milk of human kindness we bestowed on the Cherokee and all his cousins coast to coast—Point taken. But perhaps I did sound a little like an Alice in Wonderland who had just stamped her foot. Still, I was on a roll, and I added words to this effect: "Give it time. A generation or two or three, and this continent will descend into a cosy little bloodbath for no especial reason, from sheer boredom, most likely—" Clearly, Labrosse thought me a lunatic but DW looked a trifle rattled. Labrosse, shifting course, was now on about women and compliments; how so many women 'have issues' with compliments, as compliments are one place, among others, where the male scoundrel may seek refuge and persist in his complimenting; which it is a form of subjugation and patronizing and whatnot - this in light of A's performance from the evening before—DW: "Yes but, she'll grow up, eventually - can't expect a child to understand - I know children—" Labrosse: "Careful. She gets wind of this and she'll be right over to bust your balls." A does, in fact, have the wherewithal, what with her rugby-ing. And finally, just to put a cap on things and come almost full circle, as it were, DW - already bored with A and her 'issues' and related matters - was now going on about Maz Bar, how one had to suspect the beer - that it was probably spiked - its owners something out of Apocalypse Now Redux, though they are white, heavy-lidded, no doubt vampires of a kind; how he had dropped in once to watch a football match in the light of day - World Cup - France, Brazil; how mayhem broke out behind him, mayhem that had nothing to do with soccer and everything to do with pool balls whizzing through the air; how none of it seemed at all unusual - wild west saloon in Montreal-NDG - entrance to Dante's hell—And then, to cap the capper, DW was on about his brother, special forces guy, has been everywhere he's not supposed to be, done everything he's not supposed to do, he'd know how to deal with Colonel G's bunkers because that's what he did with the tunnels of the Viet Cong - but my, what fauna carries on in that Maz Bar—"And what flora, too," so I observed. Even so, last word was going to go to the Montreal-NDG underbelly in the person of a young, much overweight white woman tattooed from head to foot. She was scarfing down a sandwich at a table adjacent; she was suffering the attentions of a ratty teenager on a skateboard who was now and then caressing her squat buttocks by way of exploring them in an early, tentative outbreak of sex; and then he would clatter off on his skateboard, only to roll back again and perform the same attentions—Were they lovers, however unlikely the pairing? Mother son? Sister brother? And then she had enough of the sandwich. Her sunshades securely in place, rising, she snapped her fingers with an air as imperious as any spoiled Antoinette. Boy on skateboard materialized from somewhere. As if bidden to light her cigar or some such. Ah then, perhaps they were a little gang, the two of them, she the gang leader—Now that she had had her nutrients, she was going to pick her teeth, maybe have serious sex—No person I have come across in a long, long time so obviously evinced such contempt for their surroundings and all the fauna and all the flora that was in it—

Aug 26, 2011: Nikas was quiet last night, E on shift. A table of youngsters (perhaps new in town and sampling the local amenities) soon to start their university year. A table of oldsters with a couple of bottles of wine, heeding, no doubt, some talk show host's advice to live it up and be merry, you'll live longer, and even if you don't—Labrosse and I. A sidled into the place, looking good. She really was looking good. I remarked that she was looking good. The smile that halfways took hold of her countenance was quickly enough erased. Her eyes said, "When will men ever grow up? Jesus wept." She had nothing but scorn for the fact of the baseball game on the TV screen. You can say all you want for the game but it's so boring. Boring—Alright then, I would not even try to defend the sport. Labrosse out having a smoke at the corner, she told me that, yes, she was in a mood. Had just got off work. Had not had a cigarette in some time. Had not had a drink in quite some time. She did not like stupid questions. She was frankly weary of faux vegetables, seeing as she had ordered a Greek salad and here it was, and she was consuming it without enthusiasm, delivering so-called nutrients to listless metabolic processes. Were the tomatoes made of tissue paper they at least would have taste. Can you imagine cucumbers without seeds? That's where the taste is - in the seeds. Labrosse returned from his cigarette, stepping gingerly around her chair to get to his. Then, in a misguided attempt to improve her mood, in a fit of affection he tugged at the ends of her hair. What remained in her psyche of the moment to set off was detonated - wholesale. Stop it - it's not even cute. Oh well, then—Houston, we have a problem—In any case, as Labrosse has been around the block the odd time or two, seen something of life, he could bear up. A and E then made arrangements to meet up later at Maz, and we were not invited, Labrosse and I, not even out of courtesy. New development. Two old men had been told who they were and what they were, and by a child—I am reading that Current President has betrayed the nation (you know, that one to the south of here); that, and all along, all he has wished is to be a paid up member in full of the ruling classes, and so forth and so on. That the fact he 'made history', as it were, elected as the first black president ever to preside over an exceptionalist body-politic, trumps the fact that the nation is in a parlous way. That the fact that the body-politic that elected him and then went on to congratulate itself for having done so cannot accept the possibility it might have erred—I am reading how it is that all of the above is so much ballocks. Look at the mess he inherited, a mess not even SuperWoman with superior multi-tasking skills could have hoped to mitigate, acquainting a collective with an intelligent decision or two. And so forth and so on. Besides, people are bored and jaded with just about everything save for what new outrage will newly insult their intelligence and common sense. The suspense is killing them. Miseries have done this to them. So then, who cares? I am reading a Roman period piece in which the scholarship, by my lights, is adequate enough, just that the prose is remarkably inept. The author wishes us to conceive of her characters - though they wear robes, tunics, togas and such - in much the same way as one does the passengers on a commuter train, lap-tops and cell phones engaged, human relationships ephemeral at best, the pressures on a person to succeed and be a somebody near lethal; all those yuppie rationalizations for having 'lifestyle' having locked the brain in their vise-like grips. It almost works, just that the woman who has authored the book has no more insight into sex than any averagely intelligent male, and she is constantly guarding her rear from the fashion critics - that is to say, the language and thought police who might find that this or that semi-clause is perilously close to offending civilized values, but that the sentence overall bespeaks a fresh turn of mind of someone who has not, after all, been rendered pedantic by PC—In other words, it is a book as has been written with an eye on the rights to a BBC miniseries. She ought to pay more attention to her characters. Then again, I am a sucker for such period pieces, and I suppose this is why a hack can write a best-seller whilst a genuinely gifted writer is busy putting a bullet through his or her brain—As for Colonel G, I can understand those who think him nothing more than a clown with lots of oil money to spend; and I can understand those who take him seriously on account of his anti-colonialist credentials, but what I fail to understand - well, surely, there is something I fail to understand, but at the moment, I cannot seem to hit on it. The season is turning. Idle thoughts of getting in wood (for the cabin out in the vale). A planet has been discovered that, apparently, is, a diamond, one that orbits its sun at some furious rate - once every two and a half hours or so - and perhaps A abides there, glass slipper and all, when she dreams at night. It is not possible to be that person who never bores or irks; it is not possible to not hurt someone at some time; and yet, hurt is hurt just as pain is pain; and even if Labrosse deserved the contempt, the dressing down his bonhomie received from A for its being so boorish, so unimaginative in respect to her state of mind, I will never forget the little twinkle of a smile at the corners of her mouth as she surveyed the wreckage of what her bout of self-assertion wrought. What a little sadist it is.

Aug 25, 2011: A bounty has been placed on Colonel G. It appears a businessman is offering one million plus dollars for results. It is redolent of a world in which both Wyatt Earp's Tombstone and the Cyrenaica (old Libya) of Theseus obtain, Theseus being that mythological hero-pirate (pre-Dorian?) who did more than just pilfer sheep - he raided for women, too. And the next thing you know, a Dido-like figure will be throwing herself on her funeral pyre as love loses out to husbandry, some Dudley Do-Right of an Aeneas wending his way to some Italy so as to plow turf for the makings of new empire. One might say that all turf is frontier, and all frontier is trading post material, a city-state in the offing. And then - and then - well, one has the spectacle of a Thoreau having gotten the heebies-jeebies in response to 'civilization', and he will go out and squat a while in 'nature'. In any case, there was no 'bratwurst', last night, though I did sit with Labrosse in Nikas. We were vaguely aware that the season is turning in Montreal-NDG, the wind blustery. There is less light now in which to view the street and all that is glorious and grotesque and humdrum. We will not see much of DW in the foreseeable future as his pedagogical duties will eat up his sentient hours and he will have nothing left for general dissipation and other silliness, including discourse on political matters. In light of which, I am considering firing off a note to P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, as he has stooped to defending his secularism over and against the likes of what he calls 'religionists', who are nothing of the kind; they are but narcissists pure and simple around whom they imagine the entirety of the universe revolves; and they cause one's flesh to crawl. His writing, yesterday, smacks of the faculty lounge. Foulard, who was in the colonies, is back on his bike, safely re-ensconced in the general vicinity of Clapham Junction, he whizzing around with an eye out for signs of the recent rioting. It is rather like checking for the high water mark of a flood. London Lunar perambulates around the Lakes, communing, no doubt, with the ghosts of Coleridge and Wordsworth. I am sufficiently testy enough this morning to say that he is welcome to them; only that, of a sudden, a little bird flits into my mentations so as to suggest that, pace Creeley, Walt Whitman was not as uniquely and autodidactically an American poet as all that: he will have read his Brits. For what it's worth—Otherwise, I have been asked to explain my distrust of Kazantzakis, and you know, the movie Zorba is one thing, but Nietzschean mania is another—And for the moment, this is the best I can do. —If it were possible to form a state wholly of philosophers - (Polybius) - so that religion is rendered superfluous—Here, here is where all the mischief has been and shall always be—

Aug 24, 2011: Labrosse was in good form, last evening, at 'bratwurst', he carrying the conversation overall while nursing a whisky. Beginning with the recent death of Jack Layton, leader of the NDP Party, and how he thought him a 'decent, civil man', Labrosse went on at some length about the differences between the American and Canadian approach to politics; how, in the long run, the Canadian predilection for 'mediocrity' spares the country the excesses generated by the so-called visionary and charismatic, the hallucinations of self-anointed prophet-kings - the Huey Longs et al of across the border. (I confess I am divided on this score: mediocrity might well suit parliament and contribute to political stability, but must it rule literature as well?) A bit under the weather, I had been couch-bound most of the afternoon, the TV switched on to the events obtaining in Tripoli. What did I think I was watching? Was the question necessary to ask? Did what I was looking at accord with anything I had ever read in books in regards to revolutions and large-scale political unrest? To anything in Tacitus? Labrosse pointed out that Trudeau was the exception to the Canadian rule of anything but the 'exceptional'; that Current Prime Minister rankled him because he suspects the man is privy somewhere in his mind to 'radical' ambitions—"Business people," said Labrosse, "like a steady game-plan." When Labrosse alighted on free trade and some of its consequences, Literary Thug had ready to hand hard data on the subject, the fact of which surprised me, as he does not seem the sort to be pouring over economic reports—Labrosse figured free trade had been a blessing to some and a curse to much else - especially in the US and Mexico, and—Here I began tuning out somewhat, my attentions claimed by a couple at an adjacent table who seemed inordinately interested in the palaver at our table. I guessed them to be in their late thirties; that each had been burned already in previous relationships and were wary of taking up the love game again. That they were dating but thinking of getting 'serious'. She was slim, attractive, in a dress, obviously intelligent, a professional of some sort. He had the look of a pedagogue: shorts, sandals, vague disillusion with things. As Literary Thug is critical of multiculturalism in general and the literature it spawns in particular, I wondered if the two were appalled at our talk. How illiberal of us, et cetera. When Literary Thug started in on young women and how it has become de rigueur for them to use their sexuality as leverage, as a way of 'getting what they want', and then twitting men who either cannot handle the spectacle of cleavage or who complain of the hypocrisy, the woman's ears really perked up, and I half expected her to rise and walk over and read us the riot act. Yet again, though it is a dreary cliché to say as much, I saw myself in a Propertius poem or a Fellini movie, no matter that I was situated in Montreal-NDG, the neighbourhood quite ordinary. Women employing their bodies for cynical ends? Ah well, Rome then. Those eccentrics over at Drunkin Donuts in full force and howling at the moon? Scenes out of Petronius—The Persian families at 'bratwurst', the children all running about with electronic gadgets in their hands, the screens of which lit up like fireflies on a hot summer night—But that it was late August, the autumnal right around the corner—The grotesque - the lyrical trees - Ovid - Fellini—Labrosse took his leave, and a Literary Thug of my acquaintance and I stayed on a while longer. I found myself noodling aloud, and to no great effect, on Tacitus and Christ, that the fact of them both conduced to the single most powerful critique ever of the Roman way of doing business, or any way of doing business, for that matter—And that I was part Ovid happy to sit among people so clearly enjoying themselves and one another's company—But that there was also the Ovid of the last, embittered years who might have seen in 'Christ' a more powerfully realized argument than was perhaps forming in him, and what was really meant when one has fallen out of the empire's good graces—Literary Thug appeared to be interested in this subject matter; at least his eyes were not rolling over—And he had something on his mind, as it turned out, and what had him by the short hairs was this: had I any regrets over my pursuit of 'literature' and the consequent obscurity in which I work. But of course. Was I not a sentient being? But then, I had nothing truly to complain about. I had had an inkling fairly early on of what I was letting myself in for, seeing as I knew I would never truck with literary fashion and that I could never be sure that what I would wind up grappling with would ever be of use to anyone— Literary Thug: "Hmmmm." Well, I apparently spoke to something or another in his bean. We were by now walking down Sherbrooke, he to get to the metro station and I to move about. We wished one another well and parted company. Home, and here was synchronicity for you - I turn on the TV, and eh voila, here is Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ. Kazantzakis and Schrader wrote up the screen treatment, basing it on Kazantzakis novel. I watched what I could stand of it before drifting over to Letterman and the asinities, like 'a good Christian'. Or so Literary Thug remarked by way of a cell phone text after I had advised him of this the latest outbreak of synchronicity in an unsuspecting world. It is not a great flick. I do not trust Kazantzakis, and I will wager that Scorcese is much more comfortable with mean streets and their particularities than he is with metaphysics in broad strokes. Metaphysics is not something the American mind does well. Literary Thug simply noted that, whatever the movie's faults, Barbara Hershey played a 'good whore'—

Aug 23, 2011: I woke this morning with this music in my head: Crazy Love. The Supremes. And because I was not sure that Crazy Love is actually the title of any song and not just a refrain in some other song, so as to be clear in my mind about the matter, I googled the words 'crazy love the supremes' and got, as an answer to my desire for edification, nothing pertinent; got a whole lot of soft porn and so (as if you did not know already) I am here to tell you that the internet is not about knowledge nor is it about 'knowledge is power'; rather it is a marketplace (or sewer), and a marketplace (or Calibanized bog - see, or read Mr Browning) could care less about what you might actually wish to know - its modus operandi is to slip you something that, in all likelihood, you do not need—(As if you have not already come to this conclusion on your ownsome—) But then, on a daily basis, I do pass the time of day with persons who were not born in days before there was an internet; who have no other alternative notion of a god; who, push come to shove, would probably categorize themselves as being 'secular' and in no need of the crutch of a god when, in fact, their psychology is anything but that; whose minds, hearts and souls have been been hijacked, and they have no concept (let alone words for the concept) of what a cold wind it is that blows through those parts of their being in time and space where one might expect minds, hearts or souls to obtain—But I will cease and desist—Poor form to sermonize, especially this early on in the morning—Best left to all the Father Mapples of this world - as portrayed by Mr Welles(Moby Dick) - who has no peer among the current generation of actors - there is no one even remotely close—And so, there is scant possibility of a discussion on what this reality entails - as, who would know and who cares? Indeed, why bother? All I saw in the bar, last night, were girls who wished to be had and boys who wished to have, but not one of them, not a single one, male, female or any other gender, could have given a carcass like myself a single sentient heads-up as to the whys and wherefores of the having or not in the cards to have. And thereby hangs a tale - to be taken up, some rainy day, when there is nothing better to do—

Aug 21, 2011: Morning. Nikas. Mozart. Unheard of. Blue-checkered tablecloths curl at the edges. But I will take it and will not second guess a waitress, another Albanian with the eyes of a goddess of dreadful aspect. In any case, it occurs to me that the state of my verse-making is a horror and wants attention; and wants time that I have been plowing into these posts, all the while I attempt another John Fahey composition, which is a very sly, very droll piece of blues, as if blues ever had but two speeds: manic and somnolent. Goodness, but Irish harpy when she makes her entrance, her retinue of husband and son in tow, she will carp, catching the scent of Mozart on the wind: "What's this music? Albanian gypsy? We don't do gypsy in Montreal-NDG." And so forth and so on. Or perhaps she will surprise me. It has happened, if all too rarely. I also have a little review to write of Daryl Hine's last book, a book which my antennae tell me has all of five readers, undeservedly so in this benighted nation-state of philistines, poltroons and assorted narcissists, whose literature is massively funded and still has no readers, no readers who are not, you know, putting on a show—But that is another tale. I see that Mamet has gone off liberals, only that in so doing he has, so rumour informs me, embraced the radical right. I have gone off liberals, as well, for their capitulation to 'life-style', but I have no consequent desire to cosy up to the Palins of this world. If you look closely at her face, with your mind's wary finger, you can trace the lineaments of Mussolini's jaw—At any rate, Square One. You look around. With whom will you play a game of tennis now?

Aug 20, 2011: Speaking of femme fatales, London Lunar - who is not a femme fatale - now and then gets downright Shakespearian when he says: if power comes with beauty, then watch out, Caesar; watch out, Antony—Whether or not Shakespeare was a femme fatale, I cannot say, though it has been conjectured that only a woman could have written some of what he wrote. Pillicock sat on Pillock-hill: halloo, halloo, loo, loo—Or: When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools—Even so, it strikes me that if one is overly fixated on which gender wrote what, one misses out on a lot of fun—And speaking of another sort of femme fatale, or Canlit, which it is an assemblage of hot to trot hosers all presumably looking out for one another's interests when there can only be One Interest to consider, a Young Poet of my acquaintance has this to say by way of a peroration to his description of his literary stance as being as far outside Canlit as possible: I don't write poems or books to make friends—Yesterday afternoon at 'bratwurst', a gentleman from Equatorial Guinea whose father had three wives, and I suppose the gentleman had three mothers, more or less, taught Labrosse, DW and I a number of toasts, none of which I now recall save one - oombay (spelled here phonetically) - so, oombay to you, Mamselle and Monsieur. The gentleman's first Montreal winter came as quite a shock to him. As soon as he deplaned at the airport, he understood immediately that certain parts of his anatomy might fall off due to the cold. He now knew that one can touch snow—At which point in the gentleman's disquisition DW trundled off to the corner store for cigarettes. Tatiana (or Stalin's ghost out to 'get him') is still very much on his mind; just that A, our very own girl rugby player, has assured him he need not worry himself over Tatiana on her watch. In any case, on his return to table, he was followed by two young, attractive black women who were in animated converse. At first DW thought they were speaking of him as they went on about the world's sexiest man, but then thought better of it as the talk turned on the matter of the man's hair-styling, which they compared to a rat's arse—DW has about him an air of acute, critical intelligence, but otherwise, as for looks—No one in these parts, these parts being Montreal-NDG, may any longer read books, let alone read, but there is life about; there is drama; piquant drolleries. There are even cautions: And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, / And then from hour to hour we rot and rot: / And thereby hangs a tale

Aug 19, 2011: Dream: I am playing the guitar, and while I am playing, civic-minded citizens examine me for moral character. Stony silence on their part. I burble something not even remotely articulate, something to the tune of: "Aw geez, guys—" I throw my hands up in the air out of exasperation, and yet, even as my hands have taken to the air and are fluttering about like so many birds, I am still managing to play through the more difficult bits of 'Desperate Man Blues'. Quite a feat, when you stop and think about it. Civic-minded citizens, however, are not impressed—Otherwise, there is little to say; just that there is always something to say, only I am feeling sluggish and uninspired. Even so, a Literary Thug of my acquaintance dropped by, last evening, with the air of a man wanting to reward his day's pursuit of virtue and good works with a beer. I showed off my growing mastery of the aforementioned Desperate Man Blues, and he sensibly agreed there has been improvement. We then went to 'bratwurst' which is both a few steps and a galaxy away from my digs. There we found Mehdi the truck driver at table, exhausted from his day's labours. He mumbled something about all the Quebec highway construction and what a shell game it is such as involves clandestine behaviour, bags of filthy lucre—The mumbling was not pretty. (I owe him, by the way, a cd of John Fahey compositions in return for his having made a present to me of Night, Silence, Desert - Persian music that is some of the most exquisite music I have ever heard.) Literary Thug and I talked in a very general way about certain literary matters, and then moved on to Current President. Earlier in the day, I read a powerful critique of the man and his administration. The fellow who wrote the piece simply compiled a list of personages whom the President had wanted on his 'team', some of whom were still on the team and some of whom, for one reason or another, were not, services terminated. The writer of the piece invoked a maxim of William James, a moral pragmatist - but really, is there such a beast? - to the effect that one does not know a tree from it roots but by its fruits; and all the personages the President has either fired or allowed to quit all had their reservations in regards to his thinking on Afghanistan, and much else, besides. Even P.M. Carpenter, a writer of political commentary, staunch defender of the President, is now suggesting that the man is receiving catastrophic advice from his 'inner' circle—I have been taking note of a certain 'sinking feeling' in my gut. Just how many ways are there by which to blow an election and bestow it on madness? Crazy Person becomes prez, the country tied and gagged in the boot of his or her car. Botched kidnap attempt. How best dispose of the body being the order of the day—The policeman who often patronizes 'bratwurst' showed up with his girl friend - the tall, breathtakingly beautiful one who carries her beauty with utter disdain of lesser mortals like myself; who moves through space like a meditative jungle cat. Impossible not to be impolite and not stare—It struck me that Literary Thug, gentleman that he is, despite his ferocity in argument, was casting his lines of vision on another world, one whose existence had not been suspected; whose dangers and delights might only be apparent or real enough, as the case might eventually prove - only time would tell. And there was nothing to say, absolutely nothing to say, except to admire; to remember to breathe, and then get on with the business of living. What lady is that, which doth enrich the hand of yonder knight? Shakespeare's Romeo.

Aug 18, 2011: The Sandbaggers, last night, the most devastating of the episodes in which Burnside, special ops chief, sacrifices the love of his life (a captured agent) in the interests of his Hungarian network and his privileges with the CIA. He has her killed in the course of a prisoner swap (think Berlin, bad old days). There it is then - the real world. In the real world love does not triumph. Ever. And so, most of us are fantasists. Afterwards, A and E, Labrosse and I repaired to 'bratwurst; for a rather sober nightcap. A was not drinking as she has a bet on - worth a fair bit of change to her - to the tune of five hundred dollars - that she will not touch a drop until sometime in September. She was concentrating her resolve. Even so, and despite the fact that her lines of sight seemed to have crossed, she was able to follow the conversational drift. Labrosse, in regards to Laura, the expendable spy: "I knew she wasn't going to make it, but I didn't figure on her getting it that way—" A: "Didn't see it coming. Not at all." E missed the episode, showing up as the credits were rolling and so, we did not want to spoil things for her by discussing the matter any further, as she will get to the episode in her own time— And then Maz Bar, after hours, a hell-hole that is almost Fellini-esque, minus the poetry. Prose at its most banal levels of molecular exchange. But E was in a certain frame of mind that permitted - no - that encouraged her to converse at me without her usual reliance on fetishes of speech as comprise the fashions of the moment. Straightforward words then, treating with her aspirations - some of which are literary. Whether or not she is deluding herself on that score did not trouble me, given the way in which the words tumbled out of her, her enthusiasm for life and its possibilities something to behold, the diffidence and flaky manner with which one generally associates with her character quite dropped away or put on hold for the time being. Love does not triumph in the real world, but sometimes, the so-called failure to communicate reverses its predictable trajectory—Her - how shall I say it? - energy, her 'aura' - ah - now I am the flake - attracted various youngsters, and they hovered about and were rather ghoulish in their fawning and preening in respect to her attractions; and were to be briefly tolerated; just that one of them who just might be the world's only embittered, middle-aged composer-cum-folkie-cum-pedagogue ever catalogued as per some Aristotelian system of classification actually contributed something to the general discourse, he conversant with the music of John Fahey and Fahey's heroes - Bartok and Bach and the great blues men of a by-gone era - Charlie Patton, Bukka White and the like. Phil then. And he claimed to be able to render this music - delta blues - up on the guitar, and if true, I will apply to him for lessons. It is one of my unrealized ambitions to take back Robert Johnson from Eric Clapton and like ilk - all testosterone and nothing much else. In any case, the last thing I remember is sitting on a bench somewhere, E going on about Plato and Aristotle, and how Plato is generally misconstrued; and how Aristotle is so programmatically dreary. Neo-platonist that I am, and shamelessly so, nonetheless I had to correct her view of Aristotle, suggesting that someone had to organize the world into its various parts and components, and better he than - than - than Rumpelstiltskin, for instance, or that Dr Suzuki fellow - who truly is programmatically dreary —And besides, the ancient Greek phenom had talked about poetry in a fairly sensible manner. Morning now. Nikas. One of my immediate neighbours at the restaurant door, a certain Marlowe, a pothead (according to Irish harpy - she knows everything, this local sybil), has just run a crack-user off with an astonishing display of commitment. D—n near heartening.

Aug 17, 2011: There were stalwarts in Kingston. Stalwarts came out to pack the Grad Club (Queens U.) and hear various poets present their various wares. Foulard was even seen to be in attendance, and he expatiated (briefly and so, mercifully) on why poets should sleep au pair. Reprehensible notion. Foulard is a funny moniker for a Brit. In any case, various poets wound up decompressing at the Silver Wok where I ordered chicken and snow peas and saw precious little of it. Perhaps poets in Kingston do not get all that much to eat and so, were taking advantage of strangers in their midst. Afterwards, I took advantage of Kingstonian hospitality and liberated a bottle of wine from the only person I have met in years who still remembers what the initials H.D. signify (the poetess Hilda Doolittle); and I squirrelled that bottle back to Foulard's borrowed lakeside chalet where I endeavoured to show the man the basics of 'cotton-picking', which it is a way of playing the guitar. But there are limits to what a man can do. I suppose that on the drive back up the highway to Montreal on the following morning, I fell into an old and still familiar 'highway' reverie, what with the John Fahey cd in the vehicle's cd player (When the Catfish Is in Bloom), the sunny sky, the lush foliage - even in Presbyterian Ontar-I-O. The reverie was soon enough blasted to bits. 'Bratwurst' terrasse in the afternoon, and DW presented Labrosse and myself with a venting in regards to Latakia (Syria); the apparent disappearance (not verified) of some ten thousand souls (Palestinian refugees?) - Iran, Syria, Israel in collusion. Not that the nickle-and-diming of the same lot does not go on day after day after day—He was not best pleased. He then went on to enact how his adolescent students go about the school halls in mimicry of his oh well, je m'en fiche. And getting carried away with his theatricality, he then went on to demonstrate how he expects to succumb to a heart attack in one of those very same halls, and how likely it is that the last word to escape his lips shall be Tatiana, or Stalin's ghost; and by dint of the subsequent exhortations of students at the scene, Tatiana shall be heard from one end of Montreal to the other. Silly Season, already in full swing to the south of here, received a boost quite recently when one of the presidential candidates intimated that, should a certain Fed Chair print more paper money in response to the on-going economic crisis, a Texas-style lynching lies in wait for him. Mere campaign rhetoric perhaps, but rhetoric that nonetheless bespeaks a Pied Piper in cahoots with the Energizer Wabbit and a page ripped out of a Weimar Republic primer, all of which continues to lure the populace on - and so forth and so on.

Aug 15, 2011: Off to Kingston (Ontar-I-O), today, that was made of limestone and was once a capital and has heritage. Off, but against my better judgment. Which is to say one ought not read poetry in public more than once in a blue moon, and here I go - in contravention of my moral rigour. Shameless. Not much to report from yesterday. The 'bratwurst' terrasse for an hour, at Labrosse's bidding. An hour in which some low level political discussion was bruited about, over and beyond DW's obsession with his Tatiana (Stalin's ghost), or that which is gaining on him. That, and his dislike of Chrétien who happens to be an old Labrosse friend. That, and whether or not Shawinigan, Labrosse's hometown, stinks to high heaven on account of pulp and petrochemicals and the like: yet another tale in which the owners get the profits and the workers get the cancers—Chrétien? He did the dirty work that Trudeau disdained doing—Out of pity for a mere babe in the woods, Labrosse disdained wringing DW's dirty neck, thereby choking off at the source DW's calumny—Morning. Nikas. I tell the waitress filling in for Alexandria (who is cavorting in Miami on her way to Athens) that if staff here keeps letting Larry the software entrepreneur in the place, I will have to consider other options. Oh dear. I am such a kidder, it seems. Then again, I get paid to sit here, a feather in the Nikas hat, a jewel in the crown, mud in your eye—

Aug 14, 2011: Hmmm, ring tone. Or shall we go and write in red, you and I? An explanation is forthcoming (though I suspect you can work out the implications for yourself). For now, it is to be wondered whether the accordionist who so bedevils DW has a ' narrative', this busker who has at his disposal all of four notes that he engages over and over and over again - there at the corner eleven floors below DW's window. DW continues to live in hope that, some day, come the revolution, some intrepid soul will stuff the instrument down the jackanape's throat. Yes but, is there a story, one that might ennoble the wretch? Just that there almost never is such a story. Then again - on further consideration - indeed, when it comes to offending 'instruments', it is the cello that most cripples body and soul, and DW knows, because he has born up under a life-long affliction: cello elbow. He sat there - at 'bratwurst', having at his lamb shanks and rice. Labrosse and I resolutely, but with pacing, nursed each our beer so as to weather the storm winds of DW's discontent, this pedagogue staring down the prospect of yet another year in the pedagogical stalls, nothing nobly Augean to them. What the parents fail to screw up in the kid, and what the teachers overlook that is there to screw over, the kids will attend to - on their own. At this point, as if on cue, E, in good spirits, bounced our way and looked to join us. She would have a beer before going on shift at Nikas just a few bounces away. And, being somewhat peckish, she would have at some lamb shank, too. DW: "Excellent decision. I can recommend the house fare." Whereupon, soon after, out came more of the house fare, the meat wonderfully tender such as would melt in the mouth. DW: "You like the marrow, too? I like the marrow. Shall we resort to toothpicks so as to extract the stuff? I'll go and fetch us toothpicks. Coming right up. We shall whistle whilst we work—" E: "Oh please, my good man, please do." We watched, Labrosse and I, as a pair of carnivores attacked a delicacy, Labrosse seeming to recall that, in normal circumstances, the predator, having made his kill, goes first for the heart, the immediately nutritious—Labrosse, as an aside, to no one in particular, and in light of E's not entirely successful marrow-extraction: "She's not used to long bone—" I suppose the man simply could not help himself. "En titi," observed DW, his words signifying in Quebecois that one is coming it high, laying it on a trifle thick, E an altered shade of pale perhaps because she has some intimacy with the notion of - but never mind. E, by way of a look, not voice: "Men. Really. They can be so infantile." No doubt. And then, across the street at Drunkin' Donuts, there was the Fellini-esque realtor all legs and wide floppy hat and sunshades who so astonished us the other night. E: "Realtor? No, I think not. She runs pyramid schemes. But she's lost a lot of weight. Really. She told me she's decided she has something to live for." Sex? But even so, be it resolved: realtor - adequate euphemism for just another crook. (Well, she might be an entertaining crook.) Which was as close as the afternoon's discourse got to politics, the horrendous politics. One asks, can things get any worse? Certain wags, like London Lunar, respond that yes, they can, as things have been worse. And other wags, like myself, suggest, that if things are this bad, it is very likely that things will get worse still. Or, generality, if politics was once a debate between conflicting principles, now politics is a screaming match between conflicting fantasias—Cameron, Current PM over there across the pond, he can declare war on rioters all that he likes - he will have to bring out the jackboot in order to win his engagement, and the jackboot is beginning to look like the weapon of choice in the western democracies: austerity, the boot, and the writing off—In the meantime, we do not know if E can get through the rest of her life without her ringer being turned on, but we may have an answer to that at some point in coming days, months, years - or perhaps not at all. We have as our share inconstancy, irresolution, uncertainty, grief, superstition, worry over things to come, even after our life, ambition, avarice, jealousy, envy, unruly, frantic, and untamable appetites, war, falsehood, disloyalty, detraction, and curiosity. Indeed we have strangely overpaid for this fine reason that we glory in, and this capacity to judge and know, if we have bought it at the price of this infinite number of passions to which we are incessantly a prey—Montaigne.


Aug 13, 2011: Politics is the triumph of one set of interests over the interests and aspirations of some other set, no exception, and without surcease. Perhaps I have read these words somewhere, seen them constellated on a page as one might a commingling of stars in a night sky—Perhaps one of the early rising sparrows chirped it in my ear as I underwent the transition from sleep to semi-wakefulness, this morning. Canada is an awkwardly put-together country, the majority of its populace strung along its border with the U.S. of A. like a bead of saliva or solder, or so I once scumbled in a bit of verse that I have since deep-sixed. Sheer cowardice on my part. But when I come across a writer whom I think I should have known about at an earlier time (George Johnston, for example, or Molly Amabile) the fact that I did not know of the existence of these poets I sometimes ascribe to the politics of the awkwardness: all those years on the west coast, and there was, it seems, sentience in the 'east'. I will get to the fact of John Glassco in due course. Yes, and politics is sooner or later personal, and the London riots were political and personal, however mindless the pillaging; and riots happen in threes, so London Lunar would have me know. Whoever heard of a fourth night of rioting? Well, I am sure he is mistaken in this, and, as the man is so rarely mistaken - on any matter, I must seize upon this opportunity to exult over the matter of my own more likely supposition, or that one may easily enough hear of a fifth night or a twelfth of cult behaviour —It is also noteworthy, at least it is to me, that P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here (and here is Montreal-NDG, and Montreal-NDG is an ad hoc consensus of retirees, a reconstituted bourgeoisie class, anarchists of one stripe or another somewhat overly fixated on their 'health', and sufficient numbers of ne'er-do-wells who also contribute piquancy to a stretch of Sherbrooke St West) has changed his tune a little. Mr Carpenter, one of the President's staunchest defenders from the aspersions cast on the presidential character by the more leftie left, has rounded on the President, albeit gently enough, for his capitulation to those rightie hosebags who really do wish to make your politics and mine up close and personal; who are retrieving the 1850s from their bag of options and scattering them here, there and everywhere like so many pearls as will make us all swinish eventually—Enough of this. Mr Glassco, then. Mr Glassco as per the writer Carmine Starnino presents in his book John Glassco and the Other Montreal, Frog Hollow Press. (Is Frog Hollow Press out there west of west a beachhead of sorts for neo-classicists in these parts?) By way of an introductory essayette to a selection of Mr Glassco's poems, Mr Starnino put his finger on a couple of what I consider to be pertinent items so far as they speak to a history of Canadian literature, and then he removed his finger from them, as if from a hot stove. I read the piece. I went and scribbled a few words, as follows: Mr Starnino seems oddly bemused by the fact of Glassco's awareness of his own mortality and the likelihood that his life and achievements would, in the end, prove ephemeral - what? as if Mr Starnino and the dear lads and gals of his own generation are not made of the ephemeralities of flesh and blood? Glassco was simply sentient, his sense of doom personal and otherwise but the fact that he had two brain cells to rub together that might otherwise be occupied with the Royal Canadian Air Farce. The fact that he was a literary man need not necessarily explain the fact that he knew he would die, some day, and that his literary reputation was pretty much tied up amidst the exigencies of a crap shoot—That he was a grown-up man and poet in a time when perhaps Canadian literature a la its Montreal manifestation was also 'grown-up', and why we should look back on that particular time as a kind of infancy is beyond me. That if Glassco figured he had been called out as a 'clown' by the new sensibility on the block, or the Bowerings et al, who has been more the clown to call a clown a clown than Mr Bowering? Tish did not just die as a literary movement, however authentic it was for a brief duration, it rotted away by dint of its perpetual self-indulgences, having done its Clockwork Orange number on the country, against which a handful of writers and poets sounded early warning alarums; and one can still hear the echoes; and yes, Mr Newlove, in spite of it all, did manage to write a few decent poems so as to prove that not every Canadian was rolled by the American juggernaut as were the colonizers who colonized in the name of Duncan, Creeley, Olsen, Dorn and so forth and so on. Mr Starnino is another matter that I may, one day, take up - or not, spirit willing. The man is a poet and critic of talent whom I, on occasion, dub as Young Master - from affection, but from vexation, too; as it strikes me that he spends too much time politicking and not enough time 'writing'. The pursuit of poetry is not a parliamentary exercise. To be sure, Mr Starnino, in rejecting the anarchistic tendencies of the poets of my generation (and God knows that plenty of those poets were and are out and out flakes) is only exhibiting a practicality of mind such as I lack, but even so, the question will always arise: to what extent does he write to appeal to his 'base' and to what extent is the muse driving him around the bend, which is what she aims to do, no question, even to the unsuspecting and unwary—I appreciate, however, that Mr Starnino took the time and trouble to draw the distinction between what Glassco represented and what Bowering perhaps still is the front man for, but I suspect that Starnino himself will not present to anyone anything other than a moving target. Souls of Poets dead and gone, / What Elysium have ye known, / Happy field or mossy cavern, / Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern? Or some such, and perhaps with some pertinence to the above. Words by a stationary Keats—

Aug 12, 2011: Labrosse figured 'bratwurst' would be busy with a Ramadan crowd. It was anything but, we the terrasse's only occupants. Twenty past eight, and the moon was checking in, having just risen above LeSuperClub, Montreal-NDG. We had left Nikas behind, the ambience of which had either descended or ascended into the Fellini-esque, what with the old and leggy realtor in her mini-skirt and wide, floppy hat and sunshades; what with the combined effect of her pout and general air of 'blondes have more fun'; what with the hyper-ventilating cell phone exchanges; what with the three men she had corralled and deposited at a Nikas table, spider food, the restaurant packed with diners—I wanted to talk about the poems of Michael Glover, in particular those in his newest collection: Only So Much, Savage Poets Collective. (I doubt that the poets are as savage as all that. Am I wrong to think so?) I had wanted to say that, due to the conditions that obtain in Canlit, I tended to divide its products into the sentient and un-sentient, just that the exercise will consume all the oxygen of a room available for such literary matters, and that there is, more often than not, little left for the finer distinctions; for, as it were, deeper analysis. So that I was, so to speak, out of practice, out of shape. I was unused to the rigours of said 'deeper analysis'; of venturing to comment on a spate of Glover poems, for example; he a Brit, in any case, one who may or may not be casting covetous eyes on the literary nut that is Toronto. (He is welcome to it - to crack that nut at his own peril.) But as for the poems, they put me in mind of Breughel, if seen in detail. And one might observe that the poems are somewhat romantic in tenor. Risky. And dark, as well? Mais oui. Unusual contiguation of the optimistic we'll muddle through this and the futility of it's all a lark anyway when it comes to sentient endeavour? Yes, I had best leave this sort of thing to the professionals who, no doubt, lurk about Toronto in their hundreds, so many sharks in a busy shoal—Perhaps Labrosse, by his silence, was indicating as much. But I like the poems, and I say as much here, should there be any question. Their fits of rhyme. Their internal music. Their scale. Their unobtrusive discipline. Jamal, 'bratwurst' proprietor, as easy as kiss my hand, then wheeled grandson and carriage onto the terrasse, parking them. A fire truck went by, clamorous. Shortly thereafter, Flora took grandson and carriage into her orbit. A brief but intense chat with Labrosse in French. And then she was off, a study in how it is 'life' takes one up unexpected paths, the grandson certainly unbargained for. I had wanted to talk about M1's just published first novel, M1 a literary thug of my acquaintance. Its sex scenes were - how shall I say it? - explicit, and yet, for the most part, needless. Now how was I to approach the man with this objection in a way that would not alienate his regard for my person and cause him to doubt his abilities, and the man is not bereft of abilities? I half-expected Labrosse to draw an analogy from the business world, as it is his realm of expertise, and he continues to believe that 'life' in the business world has lessons to teach 'life' and the living of it, but no analogy was forthcoming. It was going to be an early evening for him. As he had just begun to read the novel in question, he would report back in due course. So I took my leave, went home, worrying over M1 and his book. Picked up the guitar. Had a go at John Fahey's The Yellow Princess, a composition of his that cascades about between the keys of E and G, the A-seventh chord providing a kind of slingshot effect at a crucial point in the proceeding—What am I saying - I am neither musician nor music critic—In the meantime it became evident that M2, another literary thug of my acquaintance, intended to drop over within the hour. And so, along with E just off her Nikas shift, I wound up returning to 'bratwurst' and the terrasse. Immediately on M2's arrival, we got down to it, as he knows M1's novel well, well enough to defend it, at any rate; and he defended; and suddenly we were on to the London riots and the recent Norway shooting rampage and the 'gates of hell'. M2 suggested that the Norway business had just been 'Avon calling', whereas the riots were a true harbinger of much that is coming—To be sure, the youths, irrespective of motive, ought to be made to clean up the mess and make restitution where restitution was owed, otherwise talk of 'responsibility' was an academic exercise, the clinker no solution. Full circle now, and the novel and its 'youths'. The book, despite its faults, would argue that Canada's cosy multi-cultural fabric is something of an illusion, something for 'politics' to hide behind. Fair enough. "It's an honest book," I said, "but, backcover blurb aside and that snark in regards to Holden Caulfield, it has nothing to teach Salinger (as in J.D Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye), perhaps because Salinger, being deceased, is no longer with us." M2 ignored my little witticism - it was more than likely unworthy of wit; but he did seem to agree that publishers ought to take more care with their blurbs that they are too lazy to write anyway; and that the authors who write their own always come it rather high—The book? Ah yes, the book. Mongrel. Made available by Mansfield Press. I will not render the author's moniker explicit here and blow his cover—But why have I got Dylan's John Wesley Harding on my mind? Was a friend to the poor - gun in every hand -

Aug 11, 2011: I have little to say. Perhaps I and my garrulity have retreated into Linear B. But driving back into the city from the Townships, there were the talk shows and the riots; and once in a while someone had something on offer that, if not illuminating, was at least sentient, be the sentience situated in Terra Haute (Indiana) or North Hatley (Quebec). The Monday night poetry-reading-that-was showed me what Canadian literature might amount to once it leaves off being Canlit or a special appeal, once the authors stop playing the sorts of games that special appeals foster and spawn. I cannot state categorically that, behind the scenes, a power struggle on the scale of a gigantomachy is on-going - between Wall Street and Eisenhower's bogeyman, or the fabled military-industrial complex; and that the warring occurs at the expense of the citizenry at large, but I will not be much surprised if it is, in fact, the case. Financiers, more than anyone else, did in Rome—Or this: The god of war, money-changer of dead bodies—An interesting juxtaposition of words, say what, from the Agamemnon of Aeschylus?—I have received in the mail a book entitled John Glassco and the Other Montreal about which I will, no doubt, burble up the odd remark or two in coming days.

Aug 10, 2011 (late): I have been absent from the the fence for a few days, with lots to think through; only, as it turned out, I did not wind up thinking about much. Played some guitar at Crow's princely estate while he plied a princely crew of marauders with grown-up cider. And along with the world's best translator of the verses of Emily Dickinson - she and I, indeed, annihilated the opposition in a game of petanque. Later in the evening, heard out old recordings of Apollinaire and Reverdy and others, the music of Ravel and others interspersed. Heard a devastating performance of a late Vivaldi concerto by the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Giuliano Carmignola the violinist, and there was their treatment of The Four Seasons, as well; and if the music was good enough for Bach to steal from - need I say more? - this music that has been ruined by musicians looking to exploit its popularity. So then, why think much about anything? - those London riots, the last week in Washington, Syria, Libya, and so forth and so on. The mist rose, this morning, from off the Massawippi. Coffee and buckwheats on the verandah. Foulard was given an object lesson in the application of maple syrup; that is to say, parsimony, in this instance, does not apply. There had been that poetry reading of the night previous up on St Hubert, Montreal. It got off to a catastrophic start. Even so, two Literary Thugs of my acquaintance managed to turn the evening to good account, the one because he has a 'voice' to die for, one with which he rendered some verses of Richard Outram; and the other because, nervous but still in possession of his wits, he did not stand at the mic all smug and complacent and empowered, a star already, pubescent zits having barely departed the body—Foulard himself managed a creditable delivery of the estimable poems of Michael Glover, the new collection entitled Only So Much, Savage Poets Collective, Sheffield, England. A wild man also tossed of verses from memory, and, all in all, it was quite the evening. Yes, and if you wake one morning feeling like life is a bowl of cherries, but then wake the next morning immersed to your neck in excrement of dog, well then, you begin to understand what For The Sheer Hell of Living is all about, which just happens to be the title of Glover's previous book of poems, San Marco Press, 2008. Afternoon. Nikas. Thundery-looking sky. Otherwise I will confine my remarks for now to the ones just broached above; just that I have been nudged and advised that I am garrulous—

Pétanque - Contrasting Styles

Aug 7, 2011: Foulard is due, today, increasingly imminent. Esteemed poet, editor, art critic, raconteur. Working class lad from - I forget where - Sheffield? Crossed the pond to New York so as to have a wave at certain notables there. He now wends his way up here for the Canadian leg of his annual chauttauqua. Even so, I have London Lunar's permission, should the man wax all sunshine and optimism, to commit wiolence. I certainly shall wing the man's neck if he goes on about poetry being the salvation of humankind. Who does he think he is? Ezra Pound? Goodness me, but there are still circles extant in which Sincere Souls, as we speak, are quoting Wilke and Awden so as to wag a finger at said humankind - which goes to show at what a pretty pass we are, paying for yuppie sins such as include the stocking of bookshelves with Booker Prize authors. Yesterday, up to no good, MH read aloud to me a particularly smutty bit from The Postman Always Rings Twice, her pleasant to the ear voice still part and parcel of a post-war economic boom, the American Dream, Ohio edition—Well, I suppose Cain's book was partly meant to give the lie to all that and partly to make buckets of money. MH has a theory, in any case, and she does not claim it as her own - just that it makes sense to her: that nation-states are redundancies, corporations having engineered the situation, the perhaps unintended consequence of which is that everything must be re-defined, even what it means to be a 'citizen', if not a human being—Ergo, Silly Season. Open Season. Bad Moon Rising. So much opinion dressed up as knowledge. If I had the slightest sliver of a noble impulse in or on my person, I would shut this post down and defer to a greater good: the exceptional eloquence of silence. At any rate, MH read aloud until I could not take it anymore - the honest enough, cock-snooting prose of a pretty boy rogue whom the church was stupid enough to ban, having fallen for the con. But as books go, it is a much better book than the one I am currently plowing through - Roman period piece that has nothing to do with 'writing' and is everything about reportage, the weight of its research weighing on the language, on the thinnest possible pretence to plot and character—For which I can forgive the author who is, no doubt, an honest fellow looking to make a honest buck and has apparently succeeded in doing so; just that he made a terrible blunder, attempting to replicate the decadence of a Roman banquet scene in the house of an ex-slave gone nouveau-buckoo-rich. Not only that, he then brings up the example of Petronius's Satyricon (the centre-piece of which is a decadent banquet scene, a grotesque nouveau-buckoo-rich Trimalchio presiding) so as to buttress his own wink and nod—The problem is not in showing off one's library; the problem is killing the life within it stone dead by ham-handed borrowing—What do you know, it takes a halfways decent poet, after all, to steal properly—

Aug 6, 2011: A Literary Thug of my acquaintance made an unscheduled appearance in the neighbourhood, last night. We met up at 'bratwurst' where he was rewarding his various labours with a cold beer, his labours involving both 'literature' and child care. I do not recall how we got on to the subject - it had something to do with bread and circuses - but at one point, there he was, my interlocutor of the moment, saying that if he had to choose a time and space not this one in which to sojourn, he would choose the Paris of the Second Republic, or, if you will, the Second French Empire; the 1860s thereabouts; the Paris of Napoleon III, autocrat and bon vivant; of Hausmann, Baudelaire, Manet; of Credit Mobilier; the Suez Canal, ephemeral desire—Keep the people distracted but reasonably content—Unlike now when it seems that, to the south of here, there are people as young as 40-ish who have had a job but may never have one again, at least not a job-job - steady wages. People who, to hear Labrosse tell it, and the man is no radical, are being written off by those who make the big bucks to make the Big Decisions. On the other hand, earlier, in the course of watching a baseball game with MH, she treated me to a seminar of sorts on the economy. By her lights, Average Joe and Average Jane, average for all that banking ads and addled poets tell them they are unique and empowered, are just now beginning to realize that the 'economy' is screwed, blued and tattooed, and isn't coming back any time soon: they will exact a political consequence. Well, we will see, will we not, in roughly a year's time? Back to 'bratwurst' - a summer's night - busy terrasse - families - pistachio sweets - Baudelaire - Balzac - the odd bon mot or two - Virgil in the corner of my eye - a knowing how truly pointless it is to say that the sky falls—

Aug 5, 2011: The counterpart to DW's evil Tatiana, or Stalin's ghost, or she who is out to get DW one of these days in some unimaginably gruesome manner, would be Ludmila. One l or two? But who is this Ludmila who means so much to DW? Well, it seems she is a sprite in leather. She is a ferocious dynamo who, as we speak, is, no doubt, coming to the aid of all ninety pound male weaklings in Kiev or, closer to home, Verdun or, say, Sherbrooke (that brickish town, a kind of regional capital of Quebec that hails out of Apuleius's The Golden Ass where a certain kind of witch simply adores waylaying unsuspecting strangers.) Her capacity for vodka is prodigious. She is fearless, the bane of all bullies. The white hat she wears is always on the side of the angels. She is every man's secret longing. She is all unexpressed contempt for all those incompetents she is pledged to serve—In any case, all this was born out, last evening, at 'bratwurst'. One could smell autumn coming from the terrasse and yet remain assured that there is a month or two left of the season for out of doors libations. Mehdi the truck driver was in attendance, having survived a recent camping trip in the Canadian outback somewhere, no thanks to his vehicle's dead battery. Labrosse was cantankerous for no good reason that anyone could discern, exercised by the nuts and bolts of the legislative side of American governance; that is to say, by the two congressional houses and what the one could do to the other as the appetite for doing arose. I was in a quiet, one might almost say, contemplative mood, happy enough to just sit there and watch the world go by. It struck me that this unlikeliest section of urban turf would, one day, wind up as celebrated as the Via Veneto once upon a time was celebrated—All that is wanting are the daughters of a dying class with castles and money to burn—Wait a minute - I happen to know a couple of liberal wenches, daughters of—Enough. DW was hyper, no question, but then he had finally succeeded in sequestering his aged mum in a 'home' nearer his own, and he might now visit her four times a week. Yet, being something of a realist, he acknowledged that four times a week would very likely and soon enough downgrade to twice a week - and so forth and so on. No word as to where the mum stands on the matter: whether or not she is up for such constancy or inconstancy of affection—Otherwise, I have not much going at the moment. Foulard is imminent. Indeed, must nail down the silverware. A new poem develops, but it is early days for the thing. It is a joy to sit around and get through a piece on the guitar without a hitch. More and more I begin to feel some sort of kindred spirit-ship to Karl Kraus who, no doubt, also played Desperate Man Blues on the guitar in addition to those Shakespeare recitals he tossed off in addition to his hatred of Nazis in the particular and otherwise—Yes, and one line of thought that DW promulgated, once he could leave off the subject of his mum, was to compare (speaking now of the French resistance) the Gaullists and the communists and which of the two actually managed to accomplish anything—Here and there a squirrelly voice predicts civil war to the south of here, and in one particular instance, an analog is made between Buchanan the first (unaccredited) homosexual president and Mr Obama the first (credited) black president, and how each did and are presiding over disasters which they are headed toute de suite for the nearest sheer drop and chilly abyss. Ludicrous prediction, to be sure, but one that testifies to the quite real dysfunction into which the arts, if not the science and the psycho-babble, of American governance has gone head over heels. Is Current President a hundred pound of weakling? Are his hands tied by rancorous morons? Or is it that he is a closet-Reagan with a yen for the simplistic, given his daily fare of snake oil types, of mediocrities, of rabid zealots who wish to install heaven on earth by way of masonite, abstinence and assorted cheap thrills? So then, for those of you with a taste for the enigmatic, I squirrel you this, from Montaigne: Those who give the first shock to a state are apt to be the first ones swallowed up in its ruin. The fruits of the trouble rarely go to the one who has stirred it up; he beats and disturbs the water for other fishermen

Aug 4, 2011: I briefly shilled for 'enlightenment' and 'reason' when a younger man; that is, when I assumed I was in possession of those items. Then I remembered I was a poet, or I had, at least, set out to be one. For poets, superstition and error - for good or ill - are as much a part of the spiritual landscape as any other product of the mind; and there are histories and legacies as well as the 'poetry' of it all to consider—Yes, well, the same to you—It is an intolerant time. And the more intolerant things get, the less I trust those who clamour the loudest for 'enlightenment' and 'reason' according to terms of their own making. To be sure, much of what they call superstition is, in fact, that - superstition, but then they would also discount why those superstitions always have a shelf life and they grotesquely account themselves free of all the fears, of the grosser sorts of mental imperfections that addle lesser minds. It explains the glassy eyes of those who are forever celebrating their triumphs in the sweepstakes of moral ascendancy—People, for the most part, drift in and out of their beliefs. They may embrace and disown God more than once in the course of a life, let alone in the course of a week. The ancient Epicureans held that the gods were indifferent to the existence of humankind, so much so there might as well have been no gods—It is a weaselly sort of outlook, yes, but it is one I have some sympathy for. I have similar attitudes toward anti-matter— And no doubt, one day, they will hit on something like anti-gravity that is a kind of structuring force of a world we cannot see but can easily enough intuit— (I returned to a notion of the gods by virtue of the cats that hang about the temple ruins: the Largo Argentina, Rome. If one must be smug, theirs is the way to go about it—) The raison d'etre of these posts is gossip of a kind, generally with literary matters in mind. In light of which (and forget literary matters - literature being one of the more spurious modes of marking time, even if you are as hairy as Esau and live in Idaho), it would seem that E inadvertently revealed something of herself, last evening, at the conclusion of an episode of The Sandbaggers. She has had contretemps with a roommate who is rather aggro; who, from the sounds of it, has developed an unhealthy interest in E's boyfriend. The details are dreary and predictable enough, but as E provided them and as Labrosse rolled his eyes and as A had discreet pyscho-sexual epiphanies of her own right then and there, it was clear that E cares more for the melodrama, the cat-fighting, the thermodynamics of a threesome, the arabesques of a 'situation' than she does for the health of her relationship to her 'man'. We all of us play games to some extent or other - presumably so as to affect an 'end', but with E, well, it is my suspicion that she gets quite a kick out of playing games for the sake of playing games, and that this is fairly typical of men and women, of boys and girls of her age who would waste much too much good booze on such empty-headedness. She believes she is engaged in enlightened activity and has at her disposal all the implements of reason and then some; that she is somehow Bloomsbury. What lively lad most pleasured me / Of all that with me lay? / I answer that I gave my soul / and loved in misery, / But had great pleasure with a lad / That I loved bodilyI don't know, does this verse of Yeats signify in respect to anything at all, these days? Or this from Gibbon: —The gross appetite of love becomes most dangerous when it is elevated, or rather, indeed, disguised by sentimental passionSentimental passion being all that renders the brain witless, though Nietzsche's poisoned and nasty-minded Eros can void you like that, too, and snap your spine as well as break your heart, should you retain enough sentience to understand you've had a heart to be broken—

Aug 3, 2011: Three old men with cell phones discussed politics on a pleasant afternoon, 'bratwurst' terrasse, Montreal-NDG. Would there be a Romney-Bachmann Republican Party ticket? A ticket then comprised of a slitherer and a fading ingenue with dragon lady inclinations? And why, when Canada was once so rich with gifted politicians is Canada no longer so rich in gifted politicians, clowns breathing up all the oxygen?—"Chrétien," said Labrosse, "is the last of them. Opportunists hijacked the airplane and flew it straight into the ground—"A roster of other slitherers, according to DW, after he excoriated Duceppe for his having been anything but a man of principle, would include Gingrich and Delay, and the usual, old hat stand-bys such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, the Bushes, Bush Sr being so much more slithery than Bush Jr as Bush Jr was not capable of autonomous motion, let alone thought - had to be cattle-prodded—"There are some things," I suggested to DW, one of the few men I have ever known whose rage, while it fits him like a comfortable shoe, nonetheless is genuine, "that one never gets out from under of. Aha! Four prepositions in a row, count them. Or three at least—But in any case, your Tatiana, sir, or that which is out to get you in any way conceivable; that which the very fact of your existence invites as the anti-matter to your existence - your Tatiana being Stalin's ghost; your Tatiana being a bug-eyed, sex-crazed, nihilist social-worker; your Tatiana once source among others of our amusement—" Well, DW was happy to oblige us, to be sure, if it was amusement we desired (and of course it was)—But did he too notice how a certain kind of middle-aged woman, passing by our table, smiled and put on an extra lilt to her ambulation, as if we in our engaged threeness presented to her worldly-wise eyes such a cute spectacle? It has been noted how much more pessimistic the commentaries of P.M. Carpenter, Noted Political Commentator to the south of here (he is now a go-to guy, for example, for the Daily Beast) have gotten. He now rates the re-election chances of Current President at only fifty per cent, and on the slippery side of a slippery slope. This ought not to be in a universe governed by rational physics. And jumping from one line of thought to another, apparently I must now read a fellow named Tsirkas for his treating with Alexandria the city in a very thick book, and sure, why not? I am something of an antiquarian, even when I am playing Desperate Man Blues on the guitar—Later, A - dodging work and perhaps much else besides - joined us. Whereupon three old men with cell phones attempted to corrupt and ruin her and render her forevermore unfit for life as an article of commerce—D—n near succeeded, too. She had, however heard of Tolstoy ("Yes, I've heard of Tolstoy, as in Leo, the guy with the beard—"), but no, she was unfamiliar with Gratianus, a seminal source of canon law—So then three old men with cell phones returned to lamenting the hideous state of things, allowing A freer latitude with her schnitzel and salad and beer—Then again there are at our disposal a hundred thousand million 'blogs' that will happily service us with all the whys and wherefores of a terrible terrible mess, and why such creatures as the wife of Goebbels and the Bachmann wench came and have come to be; who are more purely fanatic than any blood-crazed moray eel looking to feast on succulent slaves kept on hand for such a purpose—Foulard is imminent in these parts soon, as if a figment out of a Beckett play, but one that Beckett never bothered to write, perhaps because absinthe might have rotted that part of his brain privy to a Foulard. Beckett is that curious instance of an author whose brilliance is undisputed by the likes of one such as myself; but that I have never spent much time with his writings as I have never much trusted men I have known who most energetically extol him to the skies. Ditto for Primo Levy, Adorno, and certainly - oh, what's his name - the idiot who goes about with a pickfork here and there, for photo-shoots, and thinks he's a peasant - salt of the earth - wears a bandana - the name, for certain compelling reasons, escapes me - oh crap, Berger!—I have taken up another Roman period piece set in Pompeii. It will be the Elder Pliny all over again - how could it not be? the engineering mind given pride of place over and above Ovid. The trouble with period pieces is that their language is almost always fatally imbued with burdens of plausibility - the more research one does the more items of plausibility with which one has to grapple—This particular book, however, wears it pretty well, so far, whereas in the other period piece I am also working my through, one suspects the presence of a three-legged mule packed down with the goods of all the imperial palaces there have ever been— No matter. One comes to appreciate more the likes of a Moby Dick or any other 'great' book, forget 'novel'. The best novels are those that cause one to disremember that there is a word that one spells with the letters n o v e l—The book breathes; the reader breathes - a kind of exchange - as when one is in the shade of a boulevard tree, 'bratwurst' terrasse—There is much in life, and the muchness includes too many critics and reviewers and their contemptible products, that endeavours to rip that exchange apart. Morning. Nikas. Enter Irish harpy and retinue—Does one laugh? Cry? Sing? Dance the Hokey Pokey?—

Aug 2, 2011: A great many ages have their pet names. The 'Augustan Age' is one that has as much to do with 18th century England as the Rome that, under Augustus Caesar, was getting to be marble—The 'Age of Reason'. The 'Age of Anxiety'. The 'Gilded Age'. The 'Age of Constantine'. (But no, the latter is the title of a book by Burckhardt, one of my very favourites, to do with a great many things, one of which was a tired Rome increasingly subsiding into irrelevance—) In any case, you get the idea. Now 'Vile Little S— ts' comes to mind as a moniker for our current passegiata through topsy time and turvy space. So much celebration for so little. Such a concatenation of narcissists in every Starbucks. Parnassian-like little oracles of the 80s in Vancouver declared that there was nothing wrong with a little narcissism to go with that café mocha, and in a sense, they were right: so many poor unloved Calvinisted sots running around - why not smatterings of self-love? Who else would bother? And if self-love comes replete with a corporate brand, it has to come with something: nature abhors a vacuum. I had no comeback, as to have 'comeback' would have made me a boor, pedantically serious - and I was already that, and plenty of it; but I also recall thinking then that there would be a price to pay - there always is - for the preening and dolling up of souls that also happened to be essentially mindless, and I was right: look around: fundamentalists, narcissists, goombahs - they all of them infest the same coin of the realm, and they have spawned. Yes, and when one watches something approaching from a deep horizon - like one of those camel riders in Lawrence of Arabia - and one fears the worst, and when the worst, at last, arrives, there is little to say. So very little to say - unless one wishes to sputter and spit and spew profanities at some celestial object, Elmer Fwudd of malaises worse than a speech impediment. What are the reasons for the imbroglio to the south? For the narcissisms? For the unemployed and increasingly unemployable? The loony-tunes fascisms that may look endearing now, but later—The reasons, whatever they may be, are all related - under and above the surface of things, but then I am not an ologist whose urge to preen is under wraps and in the closet - for the sake of discretion and in the interests of field research. Poetry is my game, if you will, and what a game it is, about as exciting as watching a poker player take forever to decide whether to raise or check to the Young Master to his left. There has always been something a little absurd in the practice of the thing; and in a world more or less devoted to dreaming up ever new and improved satanic mills, the absurdity now and then attains quite a piquant savour. Surely, one of the all-time great poet-gourmets and jet-setters, or Ovid, knew the absurdity - to the point of perpetual and unrelieved nausea - there in Tomis (a kind of company town on the Roman frontier) where he had been banished by a vindictive Caesar; and not because, as poet, he had been speaking truth to power (no, he was not that full of himself) but because he more than likely had been at the wrong party at the wrong time—Never have I felt the absurdity more - I was going to tap out keenly here - but is keenly even a word any longer which smacks somewhat of ponces and principessas and sportscasters? Never has the absurdity of it all been more clamorous and writ large—Then again, had I a thousand years to live, and I had lived 878 of them, I would know better than to make such claims.

Aug 1, 2011: London Lunar has been ex-Canadian for so long he cannot recall how best spell the name of the country of his birth. Certainly, there are no readers of Candian literature, or, if there are they are few in number, fewer still of Canlit. As for 'Canadian literature', well, I am unable to say; just that an essay sent me by a Literary Thug of my acquaintance suggests that it has all been a boondoggle which benefits somebody or other, though not especially your average, unsuspecting reader. Trouble is, it is as if he has just discovered the reality and outed the pertinent facts when a few sentient persons in these parts have been quite aware of the situation, oh, since the woolly mastodon was hanging about Lake Huron—The 'deafening silence' to which he refers has been characterized as such since roundabout 1982, and one might, without stretching a point, reach for a number in the 70s hat—Despite all that, Foulard, in a few days (from somewhere in the greater London area not Hammersmith) will attain shining imminence in these parts, all in his attempt to rehabilitate poetry in general and to entice me back into the fold of Those Who Still Believe Poetry Readings Are Justifiable Endeavour, yes, as if he were a bishop of a church wishing not to see a Good Man sink into the bogs of apostasy. Or he may not bother, it being his business only to avail himself of space in which to doss down and raid my fridge - I will have to check the silverware—Then again, knowing what he is about, he understands one such as myself may be rendered pliable by the simple expedient of having me included, along with himself, on an evening's bill of poetry performers - dreaded euphemism for - you fill in the blank, my vanity's annual hit of oxygen thereby vouchsafed, the literary venue the equivalent of a crack house—And things might get a little crazy wild in my immediate environs, crazy enough that the smooth workings of these posts may be disrupted for some days - the possibility of which may also be one of the man's intentions. In the dream (of last night) I had initially agreed to the rocket ride into space, then reneged on it - for unaccountable reasons, deeply vexing a whole lot of very serious people. Curious development, as in previous dreams, I had no problem with such rocket rides and none with sojourning on alien planets - I am far ahead of any Tea Party member in this regard - but this time around? At any rate, like I said, I do not know the whys and wherefores of my reluctance. Even Fawcett the Torontonian, one of the great arbiters of taste and political theory north of the 49th parallel wanted to know why, but then he had joined the American military, allowing that it had been his plan all along—There is in every body, or polity, or business a natural stage of growth, zenith, and decay—Or unnatural as the case may be—Even so, Polybius.

 

 

 

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