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Ephemeris  April 2012

 

April 30, 2012: I read that Current President is 'hogtied' on domestic issues, but that, internationally he is the most 'imperial' president ever. Previous President helped get him there, having trailblazed a certain path in his wild man years, he the 'Decider'. But as for the man now in office, it perhaps explains why I have such difficulty according his regime the benefit of my doubt, as I might otherwise, given his qualities and the circumstances that saw his star rise, as if something had come full circle from those earliest years in South Carolina, for instance, in which the slave trade was the economy, the cash cow. As for someone even less enthralled with the 'moment', Mr Hedges (Truthdig) writes that it is to be expected: one in four Americans are certifiable, as in depressed, and they eat drugs. Moreover, we are going down, no exceptions, be you good, bad, ugly or indifferent, as the fatal Rubicon has been crossed and there is to be no pushback. That is, when the law is jerryrigged so as to provide cover for all sorts of antics in the name of a vampire called capittallism and its pet succubus security, it is finished, whatever sorry excuse there was at the outset to justify the notion of a republic at the expense of a continent of peoples who were already here before the Europeans started showing up. In other words, the emporium may rattle on for decades yet, perhaps even a century or three, but the air that our fathers and grandfathers, and so on, thought they were breathing, nutritive air for the heart, the mind, the soul, has passed on and another weather system has replaced it. Mr Abulafia, in his book The Great Sea, has it that the Roman empire did break apart, this in contradistinction to those who assert that no such thing took place; that there was only a kind of change, a kind of evolution from this, that and the other to some other this, that and the other at a near imperceptible rate - a phenomena that does occur in nature and even within ourselves; but that the other thing - the coming unglued altogether also occurs. At the very least, the Mediterranean, Mr Abulafia's central character, did, as it were, undergo a sea change from about 400 A.D on; that it broke down politically and economically into disparate parts, and Rome could no longer rule it, let alone manage it, for better or worse. There was to be no putting back the dumptiness into Humpty. There were consequences. You could not necessarily expect to be lawn bowling in your golden years—

April 29, 2012: I see that I scribbled something in my notebook about Bette Davis and George Sanders in the movie All About Eve. There is a scene in which their back and forth patter might serve as an instance of optimum exchange between the sexes, but I believe I will step aside from the fray and any number of assertions one might make, in concurrence or not, with any number of the movie's so-called sub-texts and all its genders roaming around in the corridors of life (and life in the movies, too) ain't always what it seems—Morning. Nikas. Alexandra the waitress has yet to comb her hair—Besides, Mr Sanders, in his portrayal of a drama critic who has seen it all and is jaded to the point of incurable boredom is, perhaps, not the most wholesome hombre going for any lasting au pair, despite his intelligence. Hence the Gary Merrill character winds up being what Ms Davis requires for something like felicity, he the bedmate who is not intimidated by her tantrums or by the fact that she is facing the prospect of her fading charms. What? You mean one can overrate intellectual acuity? Otherwise, music and politics are most on my mind, poetry a distant third. Poetry is the easiest house of cards to erect and the hardest one to see for what it is - a house of cards. And then there is the getting out from under the shaky edifice. And then there is getting out of the way when it eventually collapses. There is no fixing a house of cards. Are poems fixable, once inherent flaws materialize in the cold light of day? Did not one use to speak of proper foundations? So much tippy-toeing about so many houses of cards—But perhaps things are better now—Half the population enlisted in workshops, fixable poetry oozing from the collective's every pore—What I did not know, this morning, is that there is such an animal as Hawaiian slack key guitar. Must investigate. Was having a go on the guitar at Yradier's La Paloma earlier, a bittersweet and rightly popular piece of Cuban music. I did not know that the inspiration for it derived from an account of the sinking of the Persian fleet off Mt Athos in a storm, this in the lead-up to the Persian invasion of Greece, white doves escaping the catastrophe—So then love, at least in some quarters, whether as symbol or the real deal, triumphs over death, separation, loss—

April 28, 2012: There it is, or rather I should say, there it was: The Curious Case of John Glassco and What To Do with the Gentleman. He, if not so full-blown scarlet, was somewhat undercover, somewhat pimpernelish. That he is, that he was a Canadian writer, even a Montrealer-Eastern Townshipper. Anglo, then. Ah, those accidents of birth. That he pulled the literary equivalent of baseball's Jackie Robinson whereby a certain party was gate-crashed and a French-Canadian got translated, way back when. That he wrote erotica, unless the word 'erotica' troubles you, as it might smack of Ponceville in your estimation, and you would prefer porn. The man wrote poems. The man wrote fiction. I do not pretend to know much about his life, if anything, and I have not read much of the man's writing, in any case, though something he wrote that I read back in the late 60s or early 70s put me under the impression that there was a genuine literary culture in this fair nation-state once upon a time; and, you know, there was. I like the Glassco poems, for the most part—And he penned a memoir or two, parts of which are apparently fictive, however. But as I did not pal around with Hemingway or Pound in Paris, I cannot say, and getting a big wet one bestowed on my person by Gertrude would not have been up there on my list of fun things to have happen to me—Be that as it may, there we were - St James Church, Bishop St entrance. Montreal Writer's Chapel. Not exactly Poet's Corner, but the idea is there - burgeoning. I liked the windows, the gravitas of the stained glass. The odd bluestocking was in the gathering - like the sighting of a rare bird. Glassco had been born privileged and he did not seem given to photo shoots and the like in which prominent intellectuals pose with peasants and pitchforks. But here he was, as it were, plaque'd, the only writer in this country to be so singled out, so the preacher man told us; just that, unlike a bevy of other of our writers, he was not deified. Insufficient federal funding for that sort of operation. He is, he was sort of subversive to whatever the keepers of the canon keep alight as torches to pass on, but he is, he was not really all that subversive, or so my impression of the man and his oeuvre goes. True, he resists categories, the fact of which renders him unreliable enough in my books, hence, a man to take seriously. But still, what to do with the fellow, with the memory of him? No one seems to know. I confess that ungenerous thoughts were already clouding my mind before I arrived at the chapel so as to keep a private faith that may or may not have had anything to do with the literary Mr Glassco. At length, I could see that the movers and shakers behind the little observance in the little chapel were sincere enough in their intentions; that we were not there to put a horse out to pasture and shoot him, after all. Just that things got a little dull, as is in keeping with The Daily Show's notion of our national character. What to do with uncle Glassco who, you know, tippled? Who was of a 'reticent' generation. Well, as if Canadians still are. I suppose, compared to yanks, they still are, with the possible exception of a certain sector of the populace that is not so reticent. Not at all. For all that, not much seems to have changed since Glassco complained of 'indifference' to 'culture'. Indifference is a word that, among other things, signifies that the wrong kind of attention, if not downright hoopla, will always be accorded that which does not much matter but occupies space, anyway, like a sparkler or party favour—I have made the mistake of not confusing literary skills with political skills. Most unhelpful when it comes to a certain sweepstakes—A certain person whispered in my ear that my presence was required on St Laurent's. I duly went. Hideous bar. Techno-thud. Managerial talent looking for sex. But had the darlings there more innate wisdom in their persons than those darlings back at the church coming to a consensus, no doubt, as to what to do with Mr Glassco? In the course of the evening, in a raw wind, a sizeable student protest was encountered on Sherbrooke St. Much unapologetic energy, however misguided or on the money. Robust. Mr Abulafia, in his book The Great Sea, describes as 'robust' how the Christians treated with pagan temples and whatnot. Well, they burned them down. London Lunar has resorted to code in talking to me. Gesualdo, Gesualdo, he says. Rings a bell. Rings a bell. BBBBrrrrrrinnngggg. Ah yes, the Renaissance composer. Nobleman. Lived for music only. Managed to murder his wife and her lover along the way—Yes, what to do with Gesualdo? There are any number of Canadian writers dead or extant to whom I could apply the same question, but that it would hardly do them or their reputations any good, none whatsoever—

April 27, 2012: A certain bird whispers in my ear of the return of socialism not NDP, not all Mr Rogers and Miss Manners and Booker Prize lollipops as is the NDP. Perhaps those students in the Montreal streets remember what once they had; and perhaps it is no longer tenable, what once they had, but what they are going to get is what they are told to have. Morning. Nikas. Snow out there. And Eddie, owner-cook, appears to be in a mood and so, Alexandra the waitress will have to resort to theatre; that is, she will endeavour to look busy. A certain bird retrospectively whispers in my ear that capitalism cannot maintain on its present course. How retrospectively? Since before the Titanic took its swan dive? Since one of the Ottos, Otto B Goode, was stirring up the pot of European machinations? Hands shoot up in the air all over the classroom. They have been waiting all this time for a moment like this so that it can be made official: what is to be done. "Well, Curly, what?" "What Larry?" "And you, too, Moe - no, we can't leave you out of the discussion." Which reminds me, it has been a while since a certain software entrepreneur who used to hang around here defected to a more stand-up sort of place amongst breakfast eateries, he expecting more from a life lived in 'business class' than an over-priced plate of eggs, cold coffee and lousy service. In respect to the crisis of capitalism, Labrosse has an answer or two, answers in general being a touch more assertive and in your face than suggestions, but he was perhaps more exercised, last evening, with the prospect that the last Canadian team in the hunt for the Stanley Cup was most likely, and once again, on its ignominious way out of contention. The memory of John Glassco, a sort of writer Canada used to produce before - what - the Punch and Judy rigmarole of literary nationalism got at the purse strings - is to be honoured ce soir at the Little Bookshop That Maybe Can, fingers crossed.

April 26, 2012: Morning. Nikas. It seems I have entered the premises jiggling my limbs about in rhythm to some asinine techno-sass. Got to get crazy, man, crazy—Does Alexandra the waitress understand my cheek or does she just think I found, at long last, my groove? The deep waters in her maintain their various poker faces—But a casual mention within the purview of a sentence or two in Mr Abulafia's The Great Sea has it that the advent of Christianity happens to coincide with the barbarian invasions, those Germans, you know. I read elsewhere - it is an opinion piece - how it is a Christian to the south of here has come to complain that Christians to the south of here are making it impossible for a Christian to be a Christian (especially if one is the sort of Christian who professes to believe it is good to get along with one's fellow persons rather than look for excuses to continually unleash one's payload of ordnance); but that, in the meantime, he will be headed for the local bar to hang out with his local whore—Guitar Teach goes on to me about the old flamenco guitarists, how they basically just made a lot of 'noise'. Oh dear. Fine for the dancers (who were the point of it all, anyway), but no good for solo performance. Three generations or so have had to come and go before the position of the wrist in relation to the guitar dropped so as to permit a more 'classical' approach to the instrument— Moving on, shall we speak here of the sweet smell of futility in respect to the practice of poetry? Why does one bother? The long answer, no doubt, smacks of wankering and special appeals - the usual stock in trade of the unread poet, myself included; but the short answer is short and it is 'sweet': love. Love of the thing, not of the self necessarily that dreams the thing up. Enough—And to sidle back to the top of the post, techno-sass aside, the Mediterranean got to be a Christian lake in a sense, piggy-backing on Roman rule, the fact of which encouraged a kind of 'multiculturalism', the word just broached one of those lethally-neutering words that sucks the life out of something that ought to be rich in p & v and 'life' and the celebratory (that is, the celebratory not intravenously connected to bank ads and the patter one gets in the mail from one's member of Parliament). Ah, are we not political? Social? Who was Aristotle again? —

April 25, 2012: I see I have got nothing scribbled in my pocket notebook, nothing of such grotty bon mottery as amuses me from time to time, if no one else. Mr Mitt Romney has, as of today, obtained, which is, after all, the predicted result: that he will be the horse that shall attempt to haul the Republican standard back to the White House, and if not there, then to one of Saturn's moons. Sound of political machinery being recalibrated so as to reflect a contest between two wills and personalities and such, though what 'choice' signifies as of the moment seems not to mean what 'choice' used to mean once upon a republic. Morning. Nikas. Alexandra the waitress is discussing 'computer' recipes with a regular, this regular a rather bubbly woman whose métier in life I have never been able to establish. Partly because no occasion has ever presented itself in which I might politely ask, and to rudely cut to the chase would only alienate her good cheer. She seems, however, to be as bubbly by day's end as she apparently is when she bounces out of bed, and yet there is no sign in her of derangement—And then there is the fact of Virgin Radio the industrial application of which enables callow mediocrities to celebrate what passes for sensibility, or endless protocols for 'life situations'—I have always wanted to believe that Alexandra the waitress is better than this—So then, what did constitute background noise for her in Toronto, and before then, Athens? Book II of Appian's The Civil Wars has the young and irrepressible Julius Caesar looking for funding, his ambitions eyebrow-raising. Pompey is the great man of the hour. Crassus is a force not to be lightly discounted. Cicero has made his mark, and he will pay for it. Does not come cheap, being novus homo. Catiline is doing his best Newt Gingrich impersonation, just that, though of good family, he is penniless or denarii-less—Mention of all those well-heeled women who wish to be rid of their husbands, conspiracy of conspiracies by which said husbands, in backing the wrong side, could lose their heads to the sword for their pains—London Lunar still has it in for solo guitar. Oh well. I did compose, yesterday - no, and even 'cobbled together' is too grand a term for it - I schlepped together a guitar piece called Catiline's Conspiracy. An affair between C Major and A Minor, with the lightest of touches on E Minor, a no nonsense engagement with D and F, and then that slide step from A Minor to A Ninth and the concomitant filling out of the blues progression; and then the honours to go to A Minor for the resolution, one that breathes ever so lightly on that G-F#-E descent on the sixth string—Crow's cat might go for it, his taste in music rather discriminating. He will leave a room in which Chopin obtains—Cleopatra, as Shakespeare would have it: Give me some music; music, moody food of us that trade in love

April 24, 2012: According to something I read, this morning, and what I read is purportedly based on once classified documents brought into the open by way of a certain 'freedom of information act', it is official: the yanks in the Bush years did engage in the t-word frequently and almost everywhere. And if some people continue to ask me why I go on so about the Romans and the deep past, it is because I often get the uncanny sensation that past and present and future are merged, for the time being, in a single caprice, and in the Roman world, torture was nearly a way of life—I have finished the first book of Appian's The Civil Wars, Crassus having put the kibosh on Spartacus's slave revolt, Spartacus's body having disappeared though what remained of his cohorts, some 6,000 of them, were crucified along the Appian Way. And then Crassus and Pompey, the two rival claimants for whatever it was that constituted the brass ring in Rome, shook hands and thereby averted yet another civil war, this after some 60 years of civil strife. I also read a piece by Lewis Lapham who used to edit Harpers on what is happening to the language in which we English speakers write, and it is not pretty, how the energies of the internet and market forces have combined and rendered 'experience' superfluous; one need only consume and one has lived. One need only spew words on a page or on a screen and one has written. The political ramifications are, to be sure, immense—E and Labrosse were over, last night, for episodes 5 and 6 of the fourth season of The Wire. Perhaps atypical of her generation, at least so far as The Wire goes, E does not suffer from DAS or decreased attention span; she keeps good tabs on all the comings and goings of all the characters great and small in the production; and Bubbles has begun occupying in more stark relief that near twilight world from which Everyman Continually Sh-t Upon sometimes finds himself gaining purchase on a kind of saintliness—

April 23, 2012: I, of course, cannot sing a lick, just so you know. But when the girl performer at Honey Martin's, which it is a bar, and not a bad looking bar, at that, just that - but another time - when the girl announced that Ian Tyson's Four Strong Winds always 'teared her up', I knew that, very soon, I would be tearing up. And it was the case. And I smacked the wall with my hand from the pain and sorrow of it all. And at the song's conclusion (this point in the proceedings having been arrived at by way of an aesthetic known as over-emoting, which was the girl performer's signature, one on loan, no doubt, from a 'culture' that has long since forgotten what 'self-containment' is), even when I genuflected, salaamed and effected other ritual gestures such as would signify my deference to her awesomeness, do you think she might have gotten the hint and quit while she was ahead? Go out and have a smoke, at least? But the weather in Montreal-NDG, last night, was foul. In fact, there was snow swirling about—"Poetry Lesson #1," or so I said to the Mod Squad, two-thirds of it, at any rate, that had been my guests for the evening; and it was an evening of fairly earnest talk about serious matters and some guitar, the lesson being that you can't get rid of them. Try nice, try nasty - makes no difference. I decided that, in retaliation, I would school myself in the finer points of how to render up Four Strong Winds - it is a song I used to like to hear - and I would, in turn, ambush the unwary for fun and profit. Which brings to mind that, perhaps, there is another more pertinent point to the point here being made: the drinks were already over-priced, never mind what the over-emoting was doing to what I could or could not spiritually afford. Had the weather been otherwise clement, we would gone straight to Maz, instead, where the clientele is a lot grottier but not quite as prone to self-adulation—For the male half of the Mod Squad then recalled why his back always got up in the place: the well-heeled deshabille-ness of it all. The female half of the Mod Squad, perhaps because too civil or too sensible or too shy, had nothing to say on it; but she did remark that the learning of anything worth learning was getting to be an ever more lonely undertaking, unless one made little or no distinction, in the realms of academe, workshops and poetry evenings, between bonding on an electronic gizmo and having bondage in real time. This brought out the Swiss in the male half who is in tough, already, for being part ways Swiss, never mind that he would persist at versification—Once in a while Mr Hedges writing for Truthdig writes something alarming; and this morning, he has been at it again, suggesting that the consequences of the 'globalization of hollow politics' will be nothing salutary in any way, shape or form. That a political rally in SmallTown, Texas, has gotten to be, in essence, no different from a political rally in SmallTown, France, no matter that in the latter a socialist might obtain and in the former an evangelical nutter. But those consequences? Well, for one, the ever deepening erosion of a political modus vivendi. We are there already, just that the 'form' is carrying on long after the substance has been gutted. So then, morning. Nikas. The Albanian waitress of the startling eyes blames me for the weather and she secures her payback by way of the radio's decibels. In Appian's The Civil Wars, Sulla has departed the scene, which is rather a shame as I was enjoying the hair-raising prose that attended to his presence; and now Sertorius has been murdered in Spain, and the controls of the Roman state are in the hands of the craven—Enter Irish harpy and retinue (or husband). It has been a long while since I have remarked on them, but they are, if nothing else, stalwarts—

April 22, 2012: The Rome that Mr Abulafia presents in his book The Great Sea made a great deal possible that had not been possible before. Especially if one were a merchant, and apart from the weather that one could do nothing about, one could, in any case, come to rely on a Mediterranean clear of pirates, and one could profit from the fact of new and accommodating ports and an extended supply chain comprised of new roads and towns and populations —It is curious: strip empire of its evils and, what? lo, now there is all this sunshine and happy talk such as one might hear issuing from the mouth of a techie-lobbyist Trimalchio along the lines of all is possible. Ah, bounteous. And amen. Pass me a toothpick, will ya?—Apparently, our premier gave a speech the other day at a local convention centre here, outside of which was ensconced a demonstration that would not be overlooked - students protesting tuition fee hikes. It would seem the atmosphere inside the convention centre was tense and our premier considered he ought to lighten things up a little with a joke or two. Or so I heard from Labrosse who heard from an acquaintance of his who had been on the spot, and that, if the jokes did not go down well in certain quarters (and they had to do with employment opportunities in the far north and who could be persuaded to avail themselves of the opportunities up there and so, come to be less of a nuisance factor here in town as has been some sixty odd days of demonstrating thus far), they were nonetheless appreciated by the audience. So then I read today of police action and tear gas in this our fair city. Our fair city is perhaps the closest thing in North America to a city-state such as fosters conditions of being that have definite pluses as well as off-setting minuses; just that it is sometimes difficult to ascertain whether various anarchisms rendered adorable and appealing for the benefit of news cameras are pluses or minuses—Elsewhere, London Lunar observes that violence (as depicted in cop shows, for instance), without deep characterization to absorb it, is only pornography. (Or that some new Danish cop lollapalooza in which much much much is permitted has recently offended his tender sensibilities—Which leads one to suppose that there is the hubris of those who believe that 'decadence' as such can have no deleterious effect on them ever, as per those well-travelled Europeans; and there is the hubris of those who believe that their squeaky clean lives means that there is nothing at all remotely gone off and odiferously suspect in their 'closets, as per Americans at their pews—) I spent last evening watching a double-feature of cop shows culled from the novels of Joseph Wambaugh, and while I would not characterize the movies as great cinema, far from it, viewing them was a bit like having a chat with some agreeable stranger in a bar about whom one might say, "Thank Christ, this one is no idiot—" And for all I have known intellectually-up-to-date hip apparatchiks who were always wont to say, and who still say it, that there is no such thing as evil, there are only various degrees of dysfunction for which there are various corrective measures and penal colonies, if it comes to that, I am inclined to agree with Kilvinski (the cop portrayed by George C Scott in The New Centurions) when he says that X,Y and Z come and go, but evil is ineradicable. Well, he did not make use of that word ineradicable, as it would have tripped up his tongue, but one got his drift—Or could be he did say the word, after all, and it was well-sluiced with whisky, only that it has now slipped my memory—

April 21, 2012: Singularity is a word one comes across in physics, and elsewhere, to be sure, but as the name of a university? Singularity U? I had been watching a news program, first mistake. Well no, perhaps, not mistake the first. Perhaps, as some dour Greek had it in another age, it was best not to have been born. And indeed, we have heard all this before: how it is that the solutions are bottomless such as might be matched to our endless problems. Or that which the aforementioned university considers is its mandate: the slaying of all dragons large and small. Were I able to acquit myself with a tad more honesty than I manage, I would confess to my deep antipathy to science, bearing in mind that it is an antipathy I fight against; bearing in mind that I militate against the bias; that I do everything in my power to bend over backwards for its 'mandate', just that I will not bend over for the thing; bearing in mind that I am as childish as any poet has any right to be. Because, verily, science is the reason I have as many pleasures in my life as I do, as well as a sizeable portion of my wherewithal to do any old X, Y and Z. It is also the reason I have as many fears as I do as are not strictly the products of an addled psyche. When science is part and parcel of the desire to understand, that is one thing; when it supplants understanding itself, that is another—Tacking in another direction now, I suppose that, by now, entire libraries out there exist solely to house books devoted to the origins of modernism of which, so I am endlessly told, I am a relic. My own off the top of my head blind stab at it yields me Nietzsche. Charlie Chaplin? Ezra Pound? But if technology is the message and nothing but, and if it has always been the case, this then suggests that post-modernism, like some single-cell predator the earliest of our predecessors abandoned the swamp to, preceded modernism and whatever stage of the game it has gotten to be in the current moment - pre or post or proto or endlessly typical; and yet the lounge pianist of a thousand films, akin to the super or the janitor or the hall monitor, for that matter, remains a comforting figure to us should we lovers want our musical interlude as well as our toilets flushed and our security from predator and catastrophe vouchsafed and our Shakespeare deconstructed—No doubt, now that the science that predicts our doom as a species, and I have no reason to gainsay the doom it has in store for us, has at last acquired the absolute authority of an all things are relative God, one must suitably remark it. All hail and genuflect. Along with Mr W Herzog. And my goodness, but that Mr J Demme is a s—k. Or that we refer here to an interview conducted by a certain film-wunderkind Mr Demme, filmmaker Herzog the interviewee in some forum or other - post-traumatically-stressed NYC? - on account of the fact Herzog had put a camera to Antartica, Alice in Wonderland-like penguins and mad-hatter scientists, and I enjoyed viewing it.

April 20, 2012: Yesterday saw us at 'bratwurst' for the on again off again inaugural of terrasse season. Suddenly, the butterflies are up and about in leisurely flight. Montreal-NDG bred and born sparrows are remembering cheek. Squirrels are eating blossoms and rattling off verses to the divinity in the trees. But as for the Buffet Rule? As for economic reality in the minds of the young'uns? Labrosse, MH and I kicked the can around in respect to the future of the American economy, and Labrosse had the most to say, he the financier of our moveable feast. To paraphrase the man would constitute an injustice, to be sure, but paraphrase I will. And for the most part he said that the future lies in the non-existence of low-level jobs; or that specialization is the answer, the raising of general capabilities in the populace; but that, in any case, the big decisions have already been made, and if you are middle-class enough, you have nothing to worry about, otherwise you will die and you will not be missed—"Yes," I said, not to be outdone in drollery, "I see a new mentality developing around me, particularly amongst a new generation of personages, and they are getting mastery of it, and just in the nick of time: how to eat sh-t and love it." Labrosse seemed to think I was coming it high, but nonetheless he pressed on, saying that the economy has to keep moving or—Rudely enough, I interjected: "Ah, the Grand Shark Metaphor. By which an organism, by virtue of the fact of cessation of movement ceases to breathe and commences to die. Just that the pace of change in our lives outstrips our ability to adjust, let alone keep up, and the brain will explode, anyway, and we will die even so—" MH had as much to declare on the matter as her male consorts, and she did declare; but she was in incognito, which is to say, should she show up unmasked in my blawg, I would surely die—Uncle Jamal was, in any case, happy enough to see us ensconced at our familiar redoubt, banter flying. Auntie Flora in her bejewelled denims was also pleased. In the corner of my eye, Fellini Woman rose from her seat of temporal power at Drunkin Donuts so as to resume her grip on eternity by way of her Isis mode, she a one-woman Easter parade cum Disney witch all in black; she still indefatigably in the hunt for her long lost entourage; and she took to the pavement with a will and a way, on a mission. Indeed, how could I have not twigged on it for all these years, or that the origin of slapstick is, but of course, Italian, even Etruscan or Atellan, which had it that, should a comedian run out of patter, he could always take to beating his interlocutor with a stick, belly laughs ensuing all around - this according to Monsieur Pierrre Louis Duchartre—And how very French of the French to recognize the genius of commedia dell' arte (when it wandered into Paris), which is nothing but improvised comedy, only a lot less asinine than, say, Saturday Night Live et al. These French not only recognized the genius for what it was, they defected from their logic-driven theatre in favour of the the glories of fooling around, and perhaps, they even brought it off better—I have begun composing a guitar piece I am calling The Good Fortune and Happy Death of the Murderous Sulla, he who gets my nod for being one of history's more interesting and yet all too typical characters; he a sort of sunny (not climactically-dank) Richard III, but a power-monger with a much greater capacity for enjoying life—Then again, as I keep saying, 'compose' is too grandiloquent a word for the cobbling of a few notes together—By way of the most indirect, most oblique of approaches, I am being shunted in the direction of offering up a poem or two in celebration of a general discussion to do with God or Lack of God for some forum or other originating, it would appear, in the heads of some Canadians at large in Merry Olde Englaunde. What will they not cook up next? A forum 30 years too late, I find myself saying, ungenerous lout that I am. What now, brown cow, is poetry being asked to do? What hoop is it being asked to jump through? Still, better late than never, I should imagine.

April 19, 2012: The Wire, season 4, episode 4, and I suppose only a man of Bunk's immense charm gets away with the high-end articulation of the Latin plural of pussy—E, for one, was delighted with it, she and Labrosse my company, last evening; and I put it to the latter eminence that, if America, by way of this particular vehicle or The Wire, can speak this candidly to its troubles, why are things down there still such a mess? And he, with all the off-handed but well-centred equipoise of a steel-trap mind, that of a financier's, to boot, answered: "Maybe because no one's listening." E had had to cut her sojourn among us short: trouble on the home front. "Drama," said E, "I've got drama on my hands", her tone suggesting it was not drama of the diverting sort. The ubiquitous new co-lodger. New lodger happens to be the girl friend of a current co-lodger, and seems, by all accounts, to be something of a femme fatale (she who once had designs on E's swain), a kind of woman not unknown to this author, just that - and I could be sorely mistaken in this - femme fatales were once less compromised by serious lapses of sensibility. Ah, Cyclop's sister, how d'ye do?—Enough. London Lunar chimes in, saying that there is still a place on the face of this earth where a poet may perambulate with honour, and that place is Estonia; and for Estonia's most (currently) esteemed poet, he will be exhausting his repertoire, serving up Moroccan chicken and almond soup ce soir at his digs. Will she live to tell the tale, she being Doris Kareva? For all that my guitar teach is exacting when it comes to technique, nonetheless he treated with my person yesterday somewhat mercifully, he one of those Canadians who did manage to get away, and lived well and learned well abroad; who seems calm for the most part, unfazed by much, not even by my ham-fisted clumsiness; and not given to cheap parlour stunts such as suckholing and special appeals—And to E who has been on my case for what she deems is my unwarranted criticism of her fellow citizens, of which I, too, am one, I say that it was not always so; I remember a time when my critique would have been entirely out of keeping with the reality, and I had a great to deal to learn from the people I happened to wind up encountering; and all I can say is that, perhaps, I did learn a thing or two, after all, having taken them at their word—London Lunar also reports that there is in his town a Canadian poetess whose work appears to be quite good, so good, in fact, that it is worth remarking; and because one does not get to remark it very often, so then one remarks it. And yet, until this report is verified, one will keep the name of the poet in question under wraps— Otherwise, an Odi Barbare to you, mam'selle and to you, unkind sir—Rumour has it there is a literary festival now underway in this burg—The odd voodoo rite is in play—

April 18, 2012: I had been watching some sports figures - pundit-types - chat up the hockey play-offs on TV, and it struck me, the extent of their faith in the fact that any of it mattered; and it does in a way insofar as here were personages truly speaking their minds - up to a point; and it might be asked: "But does it matter more - all this sports chatter - than literary shoptalk, for example, or the existential mulling of Francis the talking mule?" I read, and it was less than 24 hours ago that I did the reading, just that it has completely slipped my mind where I came across the 'text' - you've seen one text, you've seen them all - well, it's what the critics toss around as analysis - that the current electoral campaign to the south of here is akin to the robber baron elections of old such as were essentially spats between ornery plutocrats, the occasional whiff of populism thrown in the mix for the sake of appearances; and that, hey, what do you know - the current election process is an empty exercise. Who will have won what? The right to which bragging rights? To provide cover for - go on, be my guest - fill in that hypnotically-gesturing blank with the likely perp?— In Nikas, last evening, Nick the waiter (on the limp because he had dropped a barbell on his toe) had no theories as to why European footballers are dropping dead of heart attacks. Labrosse figured it had to be drugs, what else? It certainly was not going to be climate change in this instance. For all that, it was noticeable how caught up he gets in the drama this or that ad presents to the consumer ripe to be cherry-picked, and, so much for Shakespeare, for grand soliloquies, when you have got endless tableaux one after the other stitching tattered bits of 'real time' together—And there is, indeed, more than one source in which to get a sense of what kind of man Sulla the Roman warlord might have been, any one of which, modern and some ancient, might suggest to you that the man was a psychopath (by our standards), if not an odd duck. But that, by the standards obtaining in his day, perhaps he was simply skilled (and quite lucky) in the various exercises of power available to him; and then, after all the killing is done, he goes and relinquishes absolute power, not in the least worried about payback. In any case, Appian's account of it is, not to put too fine a point on it, hair-raising. Nothing NY Time-ish in his prose as when puff pieces in respect to artists painting portraits of slabs of cheese are the excuse for selling copy—Appian then: It is almost incredible that after forcing his way to power he should have recklessly and willingly put it aside when he had achieved mastery; and it is surprising, to say the least, that he was not afraid of having caused the death of more than 100,000 young men in this war, and of having killed personal enemies to the number of ninety senators and about fifteen consuls, and 2,600 of the equestrian class, including those driven into exile—Who is it who still keeps saying that plain old spite has nothing to do with the making of history good, bad or bloody awful?

April 17, 2012: It seemed, as I read the pages, that Mr Abulafia in his book The Great Sea passes lightly through a time that spans Pompey's clearing the Mediterranean of pirates to Augustus Caesar's peculiar puritanism. Whether or not AC believed in his own mind that he had returned Rome to republican principles is not likely to ever be known, but, republican principles or not, the Mediterranean was now well-launched in its phase of mare nostrum - our sea, for all that the Cicilians had pirated, boozed and wenched in no particular order, and a good time was had by all. But as I was saying, years of reading, and pages and pages of - and all that collapsed into a few ultra-light paragraphs—In a book to do with Roman art I read: Since the temperament of a people is reflected in its conception of God, it is not surprising that the characteristics of its sacred architecture recur in its secular buildings—(What, on this continent, God is a box with some frosted windows?) But one, in receipt of the art history, in any case, says, "Really?" Though not necessarily to deride but to cast a wistful tone on the notion that the temperament of a people ever used to constitute a legitimate line of inquiry. Indeed, what could or could not bear such scrutiny in these parts? What is peculiar to Roman art, as it was in its heyday, was its attempt to dominate space not only as per architecture but in portrait sculpture, as well. Whereas Greek sculpture simply 'moved' through space, or so the critique would have it—Full spectrum dominance or not, Augustus Caesar would have none of it, none of that decadent and fulsome oriental flattery in his mausoleum. His eternity would observe traditional values: we are a plain, no-nonsense people. But then there was the fact of Rome that was his boast, no need to brag—P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here who has been ignoring me, of late, did write so as to say that we will have to wait until the year 2013 to see whether or not the Republican Party can ever recover its senses; but that this is not insignificant business in what is a two-party political system, the demise of one party being the eventual downfall of the other, no one of sound mind around to keep the other fellow honest. Apparently, I did not imagine it: it did get up to 28 celsius yesterday; and last evening in Nikas, there was Fellini Woman not only inaugurating yet another false summer (in other words, the temps are summery, just that the foliage has not yet attained sartorial splendour), she in her stetson and pumps was straddling a world of lemonade stand capitalism and that world of instant stock transfer by way of her wining and dining the owner of a cafe down the street who is looking for spiritual renewal and the odd cheap thrill, to judge by his deference to her dauntless energy. Labrosse could not believe that Current President's Columbian entourage, his Praetorian Guard, as it were, wound up desporting itself with certain wenches while on tour, just that one of the fellows eschewed payment for services rendered, and hoopla was the upshot, a scandal of sorts. Nor could Labrosse believe that the hockey play-offs, at first blush, appear to be nothing more than a punkfest. I returned to my digs, and noodling on the guitar, switched back and forth between a baseball game and a panel discussion of the repatriation of the Canadian constitution and what it meant for Quebec. The intricacies of the game of baseball. The seemingly ad hoc nature of a federalist-provincialist paradigm and the it is to be wondered: are we a fair nation-state or not? Meanwhile, affixed to some ballpark fence in the eye of a TV camera, something red, burnt Roman red, kept impinging on my eyeball. What was it that wanted definition? What was it that might have been dredged up from Pompeii? It took a while for my brain to register the fact, but it was nothing so much as a movie ad, one featuring not the mug of a resort town god in triplicate, but the mugs of 'The Three Stooges', 2012 makeover. But - 'impactful'? Those sportscasters being so Olympian? Impactful? Really? Otherwise, the following:

17 APRIL TUESDAY 7:30 Woolfson & Tay Bookshop 12 Bermondsey Square SE1 3UN

A Four Second Decay Production

Performers: Marcia Farquhar, Ella Finer, Matthew Fink, Ernst Fischer, Joe Hales, Justin Hunt, Robbie Jack, Flora Pitrolo, Maggie Pittard, P. A. Skantze

afterKLEIST anORATORIO is based upon a cycle of poems by Matthew Fink in which Heinrich von Kleist welcomes other poets to a notional Afterworld (denominated the Refectory). Using the term ‘poet’ in its broadest sense, Kleist welcomes not only Goethe and Emily Dickinson but James Brown and Maceo Parker as well.

There is a good deal of badinage and settling of scores, but also the formation of unlikely friendships (Kleist and Hart Crane, for example). The poets concern themselves with unfamiliar protocols, such as appearing to eat when there is no eating to be done or taking rest when they are already resting eternally.

In performance, the oratorio, a spoken work with ten Refectorians, takes inspiration from the multiple definitions of the form supplied by the OED. These include: “a large-scale, usually narrative musical work for orchestra and voices, typically on a sacred theme and performed with little or no costume, scenery, or action” as well as in a humorous or figurative vein, “a cacophony or tirade; a musical effect produced by many voices or noises sounding together.”

Places Limited Please RSVP

afterKLEIST anORATORIO is the first publication of Repeat Plain Edition, which will be launched in a reception following the performance.

Repeat Plain Edition brings together a veneration of Gertrude Stein (in homage to Stein and Alice B. Toklas’ press Plain Edition) with an acknowledgement of the intellectual vitality, both present and past, of independent presses.

Four-Second Decay founded by Matthew Fink and P. A. Skantze seeks to establish in its performance work an aesthetic of taking one’s time, attempting by so doing to instigate a relationship between artists and audience based on reciprocal attention. Matthew Fink is a writer, photographer and artist. P. A. Skantze, Reader in Performance Practices, Drama, Theatre and Performance at Roehampton University, directs, writes for and teaches theatre and performance in the UK and Italy.

You can see that the immediately above is not something one could easily paraphrase. Even so, it rests my case. That there is absurdity and then there is absurdity insofar as it is 'impactful' of the poetry world. It is saying, nothing for it but to poke ridicule at ourselves; or, forget it, no one is going to be let to actually write a poem worthy of the name, we're stuck with being March hares, why aren't you?—Speaking of which, one person I have difficulty venerating is Gertrude, even if there is something to be said for independent presses—

April 16, 2012: Morning. Nikas. And we are not in the best of moods. And then the Albanian waitress with the startling eyes, usually a sympathetic figure, is put upon as soon as I ask if it is possible to cut the decibels in half, the radio hairy, malodorous, cyclopean, vile. And we are not even talking CBC. Moreover, in some circles, it is sure to come off a risible question: "Have you another poem in you? Good heavens, man, haven't you foisted enough horrors on the world?" As for critics, I suppose, as per 'Sir' in the film The Dresser (1983), one has to have compassion for the wretches. Why? Well, people have to feel they are contributing something; that they are passing the torch; that they will leave the world a better place and the arts, or certain of the arts, at any rate, doubled in market value—I know a fellow who has really fallen in it, and a beauty takes his all in every sense of all save that of sexual reciprocity and that which might meet his self-esteem halfway; and the world will say, as it does say, as it always says (as the world is infinite in its wisdom), that the fellow is a loser, is an addict to love, has issues such as keep the shrinks up late at night itemizing issues. These issues run the gamut. The proverbial gamut. Of course, in this world that we inhabit and that inhabits us, there is no such thing as spiritual failure; there are only matters of logistical miscalculation brought about by inattention to detail, and the world is infinitely wise, and love is only for those people who wear the right clothes and eat at the right places and bring the right amount of attention to the right amount of detail. What if this fellow really does love the minx who mocks him and will have had him for lunch long before the noon hour announces itself with all the angels of everything but the tender mercies? A recent spate of reading in the political blogosphere, which it is another of those ungainly words that infests discourse - that word blogosphere, has not incited me to any breakout belief in the possibility that humankind is any more intelligent as of this moment than it was 36 hours ago, let 36 years ago, or 36 centuries ago. I speak of intelligence in the Socratic sense, the happy confession of one's ignorance; just that one wonders how sincere Socrates was on that score. Besides, we only do gossip here, and we cuff the occasional fraud upside the head when we can motivate ourselves not to spare the rod. However, to what end? To what end, all this furious word-making? Has he another poem in him? Ah, that end. To hear the sound of one's voice. To have it on the record. To have it on the record in the sense that justice and clarity only happen in the past tense. That is to say, by the time justice and clarity of thought have put each their foot on the throat of iniquity, and the blogosphere has completed its ritualistic thumbs up or down, it is already too late. For the record a fellow can say that he has loved though it cost him every stitch of his wherewithal. Yes, and I suppose that is something. And once upon a time a poet would have lauded the insanity of it. But poets are become sheep, going wherever the avatars of 'reason' and circumspect behaviour and all the ologists tell them to go. It seems I am still waking with partial chords on the brain and a voice inviting me to fill in the notes that would link the chords and make of them something like a beautiful coherence. There are any number of poems I could write, but I would know I was only pulling a fast one, though why should I not pull a fast one on any number of pretenders to critical acumen? Conviction begins at home—

April 15, 2012: I had forgotten, until Mr Abulafia reminded me by way of his book The Great Sea, that the Roman taste for things Greek (and 'culture' is sometimes not much more than a fad in the early innings) came about because the Roman conquest of Syracuse in Sicily. It resulted in Rome being flooded with Greek artifacts, Syracuse the largest Greek city by far outside of Greece—Morning. Nikas. Every once in a while a song appears on Virgin Radio that is something other than pollution, that is not insipid spew infested with techno beat, and one need not raise up one's shield as per a procedure in defence, intergalactic combat in progress—Last night, I had occasion to watch, along with MH, a film entitled The Dresser (1983). It is a film about an aging man of the theatre and his relations with his 'personal assistant' or dresser, or the fellow who keeps the actor up to snuff in matters of costume and make-up, not to mention his lines and anything else you might care to draw our attention to. A relationship of petty rancour, to be sure, and the odd flash of affection. I rather thought, as I watched, that London Lunar could pull off a plausible Norman, what with the drolleries and the whinge-ing. And yet, when 'Sir', the actor in question, comes to do his curtain call, this, too, is reminiscent of - but best leave it there. In the interview that followed the film, it was said that theatre has been dying since 1925 and the onset of sound in movies. If so, it has been a slow death, or so the interviewer predictably observed. Meanwhile, Shakespeare seemed a sort of Homeric hero whose shade required constant propitiation, German bombs falling about—Well, it is something the Brits have that no one else has; and I have certainly known my share of litterateurs in this fair nation-state who, at mere mention of anything Brit, begin to spit and hiss and make the sign of the cross, behaviour I have long since come to believe only allows the colonial chip to sit all the more heavily on the fair colonial shoulder—

April 14, 2012: I read that 'Facebook' is a problem. The critique I read has within it a serious charge or two as to the consequences of this phenomenon. I cannot say one way or the other as I have absolutely no idea what Facebook does or does not make more efficacious. Connectivity is enhanced, yes, so I am led to understand, but in the end one is to regard oneself as having been rendered all the more lonely and wretchedly isolated. At some point in the critique, Sophocles was quoted - Sophocles the 5th century B.C. writer of Greek tragedies - to the effect that the harder one tries to make oneself happier, the less happy happy, bouncing off the wall happy one is. Which is something I can observe around me as I go about my daily routines on a street of Montreal-NDG, and without recourse to gizmos: one too many happy happy countenances in the window of that trendy eatery though the postal worker on her lunch break looks pretty effing grim. One too many happy happy faces desperately endeavouring not to crack into a million fault lines. Last evening, as I sat with Labrosse in Nikas, and we had not much to say to one another beyond Spain's economic difficulties and Syria's horrors, I observed a table of otherwise attractive girls - three of them all giggly and magi-like - seemingly spellbound by the gizmos in their hands. Even as they ate they did not put the gizmos aside, though they were evidently vastly entertained by the fact of the things. Well, if for nothing else, I am all for the pleasure principle and the fact of things. Still, it was all rather odd, as if some implacable gravitational force were making it impossible for the girls to divest themselves of the gizmos in question. Perhaps it is a large or a small thing - like I said, I have no idea, one of those crazes like the hula hoop that comes and goes in the course of human affairs. Meanwhile, it seemed to me but a short step in a kind of logic to make, or that one could see the girls availing themselves of the pleasures of the bed while eternally welded to their connectivity machines. I shivered a little at the thought, as much in concern for myself as for the darlings. Of all suffering from Fortune, the unhappiest misfortune is to have known a happy fortune—Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy.

April 13, 2012: The Moesian was in the neighbourhood. It is to say his presence was upon us, last evening, at dinner, and there was talk. Roast chicken, pilau, wine and talk. How, MH wished to know, is one to really make sense of the Orpheus myth? Why, for instance, does Orpheus, told not to do so, look back whilst attempting to spring his sweetheart from the clutches of Hades? Does one consult Freud on this matter? Hang in there with some ancient Greek poet? How about the Athenian version of a garage mechanic - what would he have had to say on the matter? The mother of Alexander the Great? Does one write Mr Jung or Mr Campbell a Dear Abby letter? When is a myth not a 'tale' as such, but a mode of thought on the order of mathematics, for instance, a language in its own right? Here, I wish to correct what might be a misleading impression that I served up in the post previous - to do with 'knuckleballing' (baseball). I said that knuckleballers are a dying breed when I might have better said that knuckleballing is a dying art, inasmuch as there were never many knuckleballers around in the game at any one given time, but that now the pitch, along with its peculiar physics, may disappear altogether from the pitching arsenal—That out of the way, the Moesian and MH teamed up to suggest I ought to relax in respect to Current President; that he is a cunning fellow; that he is not going to get steamrolled into doing anything truly heinous, like start up a gulag somewhere, or bomb some country to smithereens, or roll back whatever is left of civil liberties to roll back— I remain uneasy. The secret to the apparent vibrancy of Montreal's cultural life just might be rent control—I am far from being the first person to broach the thought that follows; I first heard it remarked in the 80s, I think, or that self-censorship amongst writers in this fair nation-state is what gives the literature its particular savour—Well, one does not want to give a tedious discussion topic - Canlit - any more legs than it truly deserves (it is getting on having some 40 years worth of legs and issues outstanding still unresolved), but the discussion would be incomplete without mention of the fact of self-censorship; or that writers, not wishing to compromise their chances for grant funding, do fudge, and the great echo chamber that is a literary culture just keeps ringing all the more tinny. The consequence? We have ourselves something that is an eerie semblance of a state literature rather than what I might call a national literature, a concept with which I have no quarrel. Morning. Nikas. Alexandra the waitress is in great need of the radio's decibels and how it is some darling or other has just won his or her darling self an all expenses paid visit with Oprah—Yayy. Euripides. Eumenides. But there seems no one around with needle, thread, scissors, a handy-dandy patch, and a will, and a way, and any idea at all—Orpheus is always going to blow it. Louise Bogan is always going to write that poem in which she says love is not worth the trouble, no male can match the love that there is in a woman, go ahead and kick back with Oprah—

April 12, 2012: I am told the Vietnam war, as a metaphor for futility and an emblem of an age, is well and truly finished, what with Afghanistan the new contender, and, who knows? Syria or Iran (or any one of a number of other pushable buttons) on tap. I do not believe a word of it. So a metaphor has gone wherever it is metaphors go to die - amidst scrap heaps and scavenger birds and feral dogs; but there has always been 'Vietnam syndrome' (consider Athens and Syracuse way back when) and there will always be such. It is not a one-off ball of quagmire—Otherwise, MH blew into town on a provisions run. She has knuckleball pitchers on the brain. This may require some explaining for any reader of this post unfamiliar with the game of baseball. Suffice it to say, knuckleballers are a dying breed; the knuckleball is the most difficult pitch for pitchers to control, let alone for batters to hit; and it is no picnic for catchers, either. Somewhere along the line, on an axis that connects pitcher, batter, catcher, humiliation is sure to erupt when a knuckleballer takes to the mound. For all that, MH is a sensible woman. I chalk it up to the fact that it is early spring and she is entitled to the odd flight of fancy as might entail the quest for the perfect knuckleball—Well, seeing as our mood is unusually, dare I broach it, mellow, are things so cut and dried as all that, now that Mr Santorum has exited the political stage and left it for Mr Romney to finish out his two-step and ritualistic nod at the brass ring? What part has the man to play? Nothing theatrical immediately springs to mind. Nothing from Aristophanes or Molière. Shakespeare? His diabolicalism is insufficiently grand for Richard III. I continue to believe that in a deck of cards that is this electoral year and a game of poker, the joker, as it were, is still at large and yet to figure, but that he or she will. Last evening in Nikas, Labrosse let me know how it is American banks are essentially a shabby lot, but never mind. As if to complete a symmetry, Canadian banks are sound, are the soundest in the world, but not by virtue of whiz-bang financiering. The presidential campaign will have little or no effect on Quebec and its fortunes, though some cable outlet news show might try to dream up an effect or two—And, what do I think of Bill C-10 insofar as it is a crime bill that somehow impinges on writers? Ah well, off the top of head response, and bearing in mind my imperfect understanding of the bill as it stands: I am all for calling into question the dreck some writers write and that taxpayers fund and that bureaucrats manage, but that government should get involved in the game as a kind of 'critic', or, effectively, as a kind of censor, is not to be tolerated, period. Ever. Which brings this post full-circle: Ozzie Guillen. There he is, flamboyant, loose cannon skipper of the Florida Marlins, which it is a baseball team, major league. There he goes: Mr Guillen, lets fly. In which he says he respects Fidel Castro insofar as certain entities have been trying to kill him for years and the effer just keeps keeping on. Mr Guillen has forthwith and thereby offended the Cuban expat community. Fair enough. But that he should be suspended from his duties in consequence even if only for a token period of time - this disturbs. As I have been saying—Yes, I have been saying it for a long time: the excuses build up. The pattern continues to deepen of craven deference to whomever or whatever controls the purse strings, political correctness a prettily-coloured puff of circus smoke behind which all sorts of bad actors anywhere on the political spectrum are having the time of their lives —

April 11, 2012: Mr Abulafia, in his book The Great Sea, subtitled A Human History of the Mediterranean, as opposed to a history of lichen, agrees with me in my estimation that Rome came upon its top dog position in the known world of its time by accident. That is, after the dust settled, and all that dust had to do with the 'Punic Wars' (which were more than a battle to the death between Rome and Carthage over a span of many years; it involved all sorts of conflicting interests on the part of other players) Rome woke up, one morning, and in a state of near panic, saw that it was preeminent. Similarly, the U.S. And one wonders if Ike wondered if it was going to be worth the bother. I suppose there are any number of biographical treatments of the man that I shall have to read so as to find out. But that similarly the U.S. bit, what it signifies is that it accounts for the fact that most Americans for most of my life have always figured that they, as a collective, meant well. To be sure, there are a great many men and women happily playing a game of poker called full spectrum dominance who, as Americans, do not mean well—Otherwise, I was earlier engaged in my usual reading of internet news sites, and I chanced upon an article or an 'opinion piece' seemingly written by a fellow who wished to say that he himself is not particularly religious, but that he has a bone to pick with 'militant atheists'. Seems he has already taken a lot of flak from those quarters because he has suggested that their cast of mind is in essence difficult to distinguish from that cast of mind that has Christian fundamentalist carved on it. In any case, I decided to treat myself to what the man had to say, thinking I would be in the company of a fellow traveller. I should have known better. Inasmuch as I was very soon in the heavy weather of an incoherent lecture on wave and particle physics, and the upshot of all those sexy experiments that rather sexily suggest that there is no reality as such - there is only what we perceive, and so forth and so on. And by now I was raising up my white flag, my own conclusion as follows: that I now know that I have known since high school a certain kind of American who is awed by anything that glitters (that is not necessarily gold). That is to say, the fellow in question, in 'writing his opinion', was sidetracked in mid-course by all that stuff that is no doubt fascinating, paradoxes and such, but forgot what he was on about in the first place. If cave man could not have kept his mind on the hunt—The garage mechanic who has read nothing but comic books is, perhaps, not up on his Umberto Eco, but is not, willynilly, as much a fool. We shall pass by the tenured and suggest that truly educated persons, and I have had the privilege of having had the acquaintance of a few, because they tend to be alienated from their surroundings, go through life arguing with themselves, unable to scare up a conversation elsewise. The excuses for wide spread violence that may or may not erupt any time soon, nonetheless, keep building up. This prospect continues to alarm me, even as I manage to ignore the alarums for the most part of any one day. The main thrust of today's post may not seem to have much to do with the statement just broached, but it does. The inability to rise above pettiness or to respond to narrowness of mind with anything other than one's fantasy of self and prowess—And then I see how easily I am brought to the point of incoherence, and—Morning. Nikas. Eddie - owner-cook - is very proud of his new sliding cabinet doors such as now keep the dust off his neatly stacked serviettes.

April 10, 2012: I spent the greater part of last evening in an endeavour to match chords to the verses of a friend, all the while I had the TV on mute, baseball game in progress. It was perhaps as close as I will ever get to a troubadour idly experimenting on a lute whilst a joust is underway in the corner of his eye, and the likes of a Cervantes is somewhere about sketching the outlines of a farce in his idle thoughts. In any case, 9th inning, home opener, Torontonians deep in the suds and rabid, and when the closer for the Blue Jays took the mound, I interrupted the dulcet tones issuing from my mouth to say to no one in particular that he was going to blow his save attempt, if only because it was Toronto, and, voila, he did. It seemed I had powers of prognostication. Was it magic conferred on me through the agency of an art song?—I really do not like to admit that my unease with Current President continues inasmuch as it means I still cannot satisfy myself that I get him, comprehend how he sees what is around him, have some measure of savvy in regards to his character and the game or games in which he is embroiled. Are not pundits supposed to know? Not that I am one of those, but that, if one has ventured the odd opinion or two in a semi-public forum, one just might be tarred and feathered with that particular brush. The left has its litany of complaints in respect to what were the man's campaign promises, and it is a compelling list, however much the 'pragmatists' have argued that the political situation does not, because it cannot, admit much by way of change just yet, wait until the second term gets rolling - and so forth and so on. The worry, I suppose, is that the man, in his tacking to the right for reasons of strategic politics, has boxed himself in, if not attached himself all the more irretrievably to the puppet strings of his masters—I had considered the political process, such as it is, moribund for years now. The fact of this particular president was a challenge to that point of view. And now? Well, how did he get to be president in the first place? What permitted it? What chance? What perfect storm? What inspired political acumen? What desire deep in the heart of the body politic, if there is anything left in it that truly smacks of desire? What, in the interim, has shifted? I don't know. Do you? In any case, art songs. What is up with me that I am suddenly trucking with art songs such as always left me cold in the past, however much I might otherwise like the music of a Schubert or a Brahms et al? To hear Maimonides tell it, live a thousand years and a human being will have experienced everything there is for a human being to experience short of time travel - from absolute abjection to the sublime. Meaning that, somewhere along the line, I might find myself making sense of the game of cricket or some elected official or - and there I go, sailing solo around the world—

April 9, 2012: For dry as dust history reading (and all ancient history is dry as dust reading), Appian's pages to do with Sulla are pretty hair-raising, and they are something of a reward for hanging in there with 'dry as dust'. Sulla about to march on Rome again, nothing but vengeance in the extreme on his mind, the demographic make-up of the senate beside the point, as well as whatever the polls are saying. Who has said character and emotion are not factors in the unfolding of events? Sartre having a hot flash? Otherwise, London Lunar, re-emerged from untracked Manchester, which it once was a cotton town and perhaps still is, suggests that his near-death experience with the local poetry society drove him to a spate of bible reading; but that, when come upon 1 Corinthians, 13:2 - And though I have the gift of prophecy - something in the verse struck him as gone off and not quite as he remembered it; that as a translation it was a hash, the older translation having 'love' for 'charity'; London Lunar's drift being, no doubt, that if one has no charity in one's heart, one is still something, if only a Scrooge, but that if one has no love one is nothing; nothing at all; one is incapable of effecting anything that truly affirms life. Et cetera. Then again, this sort of thinking that once occupied a few momentarily idle minds, say, back in the 50s or 60s, is currently only the purview, only the stuff of wispy, glassy-eyed seminarians on a cookie drive for the church. And now we are led, by way of Literary Thug #1 to the august pages of Dooney's, of dooneyscafe.com, which it is a blog site; which it is not a blog site because it is edited, which it is - well, which is it? - a bird, a plane—But in any case, some of its pages as of the moment seem to have to do with whether or not CanLit is dead, and if dead, who killed it, and so forth and so on. And it is supposed that anyone who appears to have less than half of an articulate response to said question is probably a comfortable white guy, perhaps even a war criminal this side of paradise or Prince George, B.C.—And there you have it - the triple-triple guessing on everything PC or non-PC, depending on who in what cultural niche got out of the wrong side of bed whenever it was their whim to so rise from pillow talk. For all that, the pages to which I was directed, those of a Mr Harris, seemed to make some sense to me in which the question is put: why should a poem willynilly have more value than a menu or a laundry list? And my answer, just off the top of my head, if you please, is of course it should have more value. The question ought not to have been entertained in the first place, but that it did points to the obvious fact that culture in general is diseased and has been so for some time, and I mean 'culture' in a much larger geographical and spiritual sense that that which is CanLit specific, which, God knows, was, way back when, an honest enterprise, if nothing else, before it became a parlour game for hucksters. A bookseller once said to me, rough paraphrase here: lose your faith in art and the making of it and you will have lost faith in everything. Poets who have lost their love of poetry (and they are out there and I have seen them and I have heard them) are not going to be up to much when it comes to poetry, and they can dress this loss of love (so as to disguise this loss) in any kind of political, theoretical, post this-and that costume they wish, it does not alter the fact they are simply unable to say they are sick to death of poetry and novels and all related written words as such. Why not just say it and have done with it, as per one of Robert Johnson's homicidal blues lyrics? It would have the virtue of clearing the air and one would know with whom one was dealing. Unlikely to happen. Would spoil the fun—To be sure, there is nothing more absurd than to want to be a poet and then to continue being a poet even after the absurdity of it all has become excruciatingly apparent. Just that I, for one, am not going to let the usual gaggle of hacks go so easy on themselves as they sneer away at what it is they themselves can't bring off and never could. Who killed CanLit? From a certain point of view, yes, as per Mr Harris, and one is aghast to hear of it, writers, as too many of them have been coached into allowing themselves to be caught up in special appeals and little else. From another point of view, everyone, inasmuch as Hyperbole's no one cares much about anything, save for what looks good in the mirror of American Idol, obtains —Morning. Nikas. George - owner-cook - must be Georgette as there is no waitress on shift. This is what is called entrepreneurial agility. I woke with lines of poetry in my head, the first in months. Shocking lines, though. Since I value my life, I will have to keep them to myself for the time being. You know, the absurdity of it all—

April 8, 2012: Perhaps London Lunar has been lost to the wilds of Manchester, never to be heard from again, especially as there is no environment more hazardous in the civilized world than that of a poetry society, Estonian women about—Morning. Nikas. Yes, and if you are a Greek, I suppose it is not Easter for you just yet. But what was it Labrosse said, the other night, even though he was once big on venture capital? That there is less and less scope for self-determination in the world, no matter what the ads say. How it is that, soon enough, a set of glasses that we might wear will allow us to read our e-mail and surf the net while, in our gated communities, we watch our sunsets, a cold one, presumably, in our each our hand. Convenient, no doubt, but self-determining? The more the technology tries to fuse together this earthly paradise's disparate parts the more fragmented things become. The more it can do the less is possible. (Somebody or other said this recently before sidling with pith helmet into the untracked jungle of an old cotton town.) There is a political price to pay for this convenience, one more steep than that which came of the automobile and the airplane and the telephone and else that followed, given the implications of the surveillance state with its super-computers such as endeavour to keep tabs on every darling on the planet, even the Masai shepherd. I read the bloody history of the ancients, and just as I am about to descend into smugness of a kind in respect to the fact that we are evolved and 'progressed', it hits me, perversity being the well-spring of poetry, that Theseus on a raid, still had the leisure to take in the miracle of a dawn and toast his gods at night with appropriate measures of wine; that he was more than a brute because, however unsavoury to us his intentions and behaviour, he implicitly understood the nature of beauty and transience and life and death, and this without a university degree or a slew of books that he might have authored, and and—True enough, he may have been nothing more than a figure out of myth, a hero peculiar to Athens—But we, we really are well on our way to brute-dom, no poetry in us other than Mad Max tics and ceaseless shell shock and formulaic novels and end zone antics and a culture of stuntmen that is the arts in general— For all that, baseball is back with us, and one has a feeling that this season may prove to be one for the stuff of sagas, baseball's charms still inexplicable, and happily so, and even if I have been, throughout the years, this close to losing interest all together on account of the effect of big money on the game, big money always and ever death on poetry—

April 7, 2012: Woke this morning with the chords G and D on the brain. Or rather what was on my brain was an insistence that I play those chords in a certain sequence, all the while I am figuring there are only two of them - chords, that is - therefore, how problematic can it be, getting a sequence right? Moreover, it was as if those two chords - a D9 and a partial G - spoke for something in a dream that had slipped away from my consciousness. Now should there be a chord that goes by the letter O I would have to say that, verily, the mind does play beautiful tricks on one, as a G and an O and a D, it coming on Easter—And all the while we gossip and natter here about this, that and the other, we are ever mindful of the deteriorating order of things on almost any front you care to mention; though I am thinking primarily of the political situation by which it is not clear who one is electing to what. Well, true enough, if you are down there running the gauntlet of those running interference for a handful of entrenched interests such as run the world. Up here? A noose seems to be tightening no matter where one is, and three guesses as to whose neck is in it. The buzz expression surveillance state does seem to have a little more going for it than pundited cachet; that it is there in the offing with a baleful eye ready to wink in any dead of any dead of night, should one be given to metaphorical flourishes—I was summoned to Nikas, last evening, by a high court consisting of one man: Labrosse, E on shift, she as ever having all of life sussed out and solved. Perhaps she keeps a manual under her pillow. En route, I knocked on New Neighbour's door and invited him to join us at his leisure. It would be nothing exciting, I explained, but he was welcome, in any case. He proved a no-show. While I hunkered down with Labrosse and thought that the street seemed rather quiet for the first eve of a long weekend, the liquor store ingesting and expelling those poor s.o.bs unable to get out of Dodge, a table of young'uns - a foursome, in fact, of dating pairs looking like they were well on the way to marriage - kicked the can around. The can consisted of sports and money and how each plays on either side of a border, and the conversationalists seemed utterly oblivious to the dark political clouds building up, so much so, that I had to scour my own mind for its sanity or lack thereof; that perhaps I was encountering the 'pop' signification of the expression parallel worlds. But there it was: I had a frame of reference and they had not. They had no past, so to speak, by which to judge a present. Upshot? They were blissed. The foursome had the aspect of a sit-com in which all life forms are pretty much adorable. And not to be outdone in 'adorability', here were males floating a pre-marital trial balloon: how much longer could they obsess over football until the eyes of each their honeys glassed over permanently? The girls had the look of girls who have successfully passed certain rites of passage, some of which presumably include sex—Labrosse, of course, once a financier, continues to suggest that - frames of reference? - forget them. Nothing changes. That is to say, there is no better or no worse effected by change. Things simply evolve. Maddening. I suppose the man has been a life-long 'systems' man. Men who have lived systems all their lives do have a certain purchase on reality and the big picture that the rest of us do not have, but they also seem a little weak in an ability to tot up the human cost of said systems—Enough. Labrosse controls the wine cow; I control nothing nearly as important. And any day now, and I expect some scientist to tell me that the way one has understood one's brain to work is not it at all and never was, not by a long shot; the consequence of which is as follows: one may as well never had a brain, let alone a life to live. When the odd Victorian got it through his or her head that the earth was not necessarily the centre of the cosmos or that God was a dubious proposition in the extreme, did they then consider they had been living a life in vain; that they were just filler until the next breakthrough trashed the stage set they inhabited for the next generation of filler to negotiate? I am sure I have read at some point some novel or other, or some lines of verse, on this matter, but all that seems to have slipped my mind, as well—

April 6, 2012: London Lunar is scandalized. Rigoletto. Stage production of which is all T&A and fellatio at the local opry house which I assume is Convent Garden of which I have a couple of fond memories. But the sleaze. Or when imagination fails bring on the smut and call it realism, having done one's homework. What is wrong with smut for smut's sake? There was, however, an El Greco sky above Montreal-NDG, last night. I could have sworn that someone had managed to figure out how to project one of the man's famous paintings onto the atmosphere, A View of Toledo being the painting in question. It is considered the first landscape painting in the history of Spanish art. One wonders if El Greco thought of it as a landscape, he of mystical bent—But in any case, it was near unsettling: in the sky above a stroke for stroke mirror image of the piece—Labrosse had summoned me to Nikas, and though we did not get up to much by way of talk, and there were the Canadiens one game shy of concluding a dismal season, Labrosse did allow that fascism has a short shelf life as it invites rebellion. Could be. I was idly given over to the notion, if only for the sake of conversation, certainly not for purposes of serious inquiry, that some wars are fought for no other reason than to clear the decks for the war that, in the end, has to be fought. Was not the Cold War stand-off between the U.S. of A. and the U.S.S.R. the main event of the 20th century, the title bout awarded to the former on points, and not so much those other wars? Just saying. The notion was interjected into my head courtesy of Mr Abulafia and his book The Great Sea and the fact of Rome and Carthage; how it was that everyone was fighting everyone until, at length, Rome and Carthage squared off for supremacy of the Mediterranean world. What, have I been hanging around Kissinger too long? But the battles they fought nearly broke Rome's back and it did break Carthage—E was on shift, and we kept it civilized, seeing as she has it in for me for my 'constant' critique that has in its sights much of what passes for Canadian 'culture'. For all that, it seems I have mistaken her, as she does not willynilly defend the culture just because she was born in Sudbury and has no other reason for breathing. Could be. Likewise, Esteemed Publisher would remonstrate with me over the matter; and when Esteemed Publishers remonstrate matters will have gotten to be serious. When he is not remonstrating he is heroic, in the business of selling books at a time when, supposedly, books are going the way of any extinct bird you care to name. (Yes, he flips books in return for the pleasure of the sheer absurdity of it all—) And yet others would tell me that there have never been so many books; that it is a jolly enough glut of books, just that it is all about the wrong sorts of books—It being Good Friday, a religiously-minded person I came across earlier in my daily perusing of the news, speaks of the drone and the crucifix as instruments of imperial power. An easy enough parallel to draw (between Rome and the U.S. of A.) that has nothing whatsoever to do with Esteemed Publisher. I was going to make an early evening of it, last night, when Dave the trucker showed up in the restaurant for a late supper. We started in on the old days; how, if anyone had cash, any cash at all, we would pile into a car, any old beater, and head for San Francisco or somewhere for the weekend, a 12 hour drive nothing, and we would worry about money and food and lodging when we got to where we were going - if we got there; and we would even put our jobs at risk; and it was freedom of a kind. We were proudly creatures of the now suspect gas guzzler. Man, are those days ever gone.

April 5, 2012: Yesterday's post, after a year and some months of near daily posting, smacks of a nadir, if nothing else. Perhaps I ought to clarify my points or better explicate them or bring on some perspective or check myself into a hospice, but no: a card laid is a card played. Besides, formal thought? Any kind of thought? At this hour? Morning. Nikas. George - owner-cook - is happy, happy. His daughter has got her walking legs. His football team has got its victory. (Barcelona.) Alexandra the waitress? Is there a winning  American Idol in her? As for Appian's Sulla and the immediate aftermath of his march on Rome, what seems to be the general idea is that the backlash was unusually vicious. Sulla's enemies, Sulla being out of town, began rounding up his supporters, including senators and other high mucky mucks, and liberating their heads. Decapitation, in other words. These heads, as such, were put on view on the rostra in the forum. Impious. However violent the Romans were, they were deeply superstitious about its practice, and there were certain things one just did not do lest the gods take exception. And here I had been talking about the viciousness to be found in the odd Canadian cultural redoubt—According to Mr Abulafia, in his book The Great Sea, our sense of the word rostrum or 'speaker's platform', derives from the Roman practice of detaching the beaks (rostra) from captured enemy ships and displaying them in the forum at those points where various personages were wont to speechify. Mission accomplished and et cetera. I promise to put a chicken in every pot—Thistle writes me that, in respect to a biography he happens to be reading of Stephane Grappelli the jazz violinist, it is observed that not everything can be taught in academe, especially when it comes to 'art'. He wonders if poetry can be 'taught' by way of a master-disciple relationship. I have my doubts, and serious ones at that, on that score; but a torch, as such, can be passed on to some end or other. A long long poem on which I have been engaged for a while has collapsed on me, and I should have known better in the first place. One eventually arrives at a point at which, to parody Eliot a little, one comes to an end only to arrive at the beginning, or the fact that one can no longer justify that one has been writing a dog. In the meantime I have been setting some verses of WB Yeats and Donne and EA Robinson and Johnny Wilmot, that old lecher, to guitar music - nothing too arty - and I have to say there is serious pleasure to be had in the sounding of an end rhyme in correspondence with the right note at the right moment, even if endless rhyme on the page renders me restive and I want to go and fix the effing faucet—

April 4, 2012: Labrosse, once a financier, would educate us in respect to NAFTA, which it is a trade agreement; which it was a way for the U.S. of A. to unload jobs it never intended to protect in any case; which it is an excuse for certain souls of Montreal-NDG provenance to grin like there is no tomorrow because they have not had to bear it for a long while—E had it, however, that the sex trade - at its peak during commuter rush hours - is unrelated to what, otherwise, the market will bear, and no bill of parliament can alter the fact that the sun will rise in the east. It was The Wire, last evening, E and Labrosse in attendance, and I should have seen it coming, inasmuch as E was unusually chatty, as if she, a la some athlete on a ten-speed, had ingested a performance-enhancing drug, and she could not cease and desist from a running commentary-patter on everything that was The Wire, and which of its males was in possession of drop-dead gorgeousness. Fair enough. But so much for the drug industry as a metaphor for upper-echelon politicking, be it Ottawa or K Street or one of Saturn's squalid little satellites—The long and short of it: E rounded on me. Her eyes flashed that it seems I have nothing good to say for Canadian culture. Ever. Who'd gotten to her and promised her what? Well, there is hockey, or so I managed to say afterwards in Maz Bar, one of Dante's unremarked circles, certain sharks that E keeps on her metaphysical payroll circling ever more close the more I foreswore compromise with the stone tablets that were the windows of her soul. One saw, with a sinking heart, that she is not true blue Sudbury or even a Moses of the female persuasion - she is a mercenary subject to the highest bidder, and one pays her off not in shekels or arms, necessarily, but in all the loose change of esteem and applause. (One does not do 'culture' for applause, but that seems a lesson never taught anywhere in these parts)— Besides hockey, there is a culture of viciousness such as circles the wagons around every arts pond against all interlopers from - where? - abroad? the sky? Middle Earth? Which it is I have been, for example, characterized as having had strong connections to a stronger literature elsewhere. Which it is, I take it, I was not born in one of the St Johns. Which it means I am not worthy of consideration, not even as a mediocrity—Fine. Well and good. Only one gets a little chuffed now and then for being reminded of the fact every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I'm a citizen, I said. Me and my critique and the taxes I pay - we are within our rights—Oh E, who got to thee? This viciousness is culture of a kind, to be sure, and I suppose I have gotten so used to it over the years that I have long since failed to take due account of its protoplasmic dimensions until E, generally mild of soul, got so weirdly histrionic, and she being from United Church-NDP stock and all— I do suspect the hyper-extended reach of a certain bad actor who, no doubt, twigged to the fact that her greatest vulnerability is not her Mad Men schtick but flattery of her French language skills and so, there was an opening with which to conduct the latest stealth-operation—Something, at any rate, whispered in her ear—It was, in fact, immediately after she received her kudos from Labrosse and myself over her latest triumph in ivy-clad academe that she bgan to lower the boom on me. I was such a cad—I had said, somewhere in the course of the first three episodes of season the fourth (The Wire), that wherever it has gone so monstrously bad (the U.S.A. say) apart from Idi Amin's Uganda, a few good souls, at any rate, will have dug in and pushed back, even in a classroom. Yes but, what I had to say did not seem to compute. No, everything is just ducky here. This and that arts council - they have your back, and that your commodious soul is rotting within its 7200 Ks of scaffolding matters hardly, if not at all.

April 3, 2012: P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, tornado zone, has been sombre, of late. Ideologically-minded court (the highest one in the realm), dysfunctional senate, crazed congress - would any of this have anything to do with it? Could be. And one saw, at the conclusion of the denouement (NCAA men's basketball championship game) confetti festoon the court of the Superdome, New Orleans. A rosy picture? A late bloom on the bloom? One did not look too hard, singing, as one was singing, certain verses of the Earl of Rochester (Johnny Wilmot). Ancient person of my heart—And how it is a minor poet of another age in this age comes off a heavyweight—Sulla had marched on Rome. Sulla took the emporium by force.  Nothing all that remarkable, perhaps, in the deed. Just that he was the first Roman to get so exercised as to spill native apples to that extent. Picture some American military type doing as much, one who is a bit of a playboy; who likes his wine; has a smattering of culture on his tongue - a little Sun Tzu, some Leonard Cohen; and you might get an idea of the enormity, K Street about to get slickery with special interest gore—I am in receipt of a book of photographs and 'text' to do with the Bread and Puppet Theatre, Vermont, about which I know nothing. As, well, lived all those years on the west coast, you know, and nothing much gets past those mountains save what boots it for La-La Land—But in any case, the book certainly bespeaks something interesting had been transpiring by way of theatre and other arts. The photographer himself, in his guise as New Neighbour, presented me the book along with a portion of the wine cow, the man a relic, too, of another time—Morning. Nikas. Once again, the battle of the radio, its decibels forsooth. The spew. I do not know about Alexandra the waitress who is temperamentally as fierce as Artemis, a trace of the ancient culture still in her, for all that she has mastered the contemporary ins and outs of passive-aggression. She seems to think this is the point of the culture here, culture being the ads, the force-fed force-played music, the we're not pompous, we're oh so cool, we're collegial voices riding each their sonic boom, those voices driving you mad all the while you never know it. It is almost touching that, for Alexandra the waitress, all of it seems to have become a credo of sorts, a reason to get up in the morning, a personal cause. Is she in trauma? Massively depressed? Culture shock? That she had lived two years in Torontah? Just an ignoramus, however fierce? Of what is the subtlest madness made, but the subtlest wisdom? As great enmities are born of great friendships, and mortal maladies of vigorous health, so are the greatest  and wildest manias born of the rare and lively stirrings of our soul—Cousin Montaigne—

April 2, 2012: Mr Abulafia, in his book The Great Sea, writes of the Rhodians (the people of the island of Rhodes which came to be a favourite vacation spot of certain Roman Caesars - just kidding) as if they were an intelligent middle power of sea-going merchant-traders with none of the headaches with which the greater powers had to contend—Athenian decline had expedited Rhodes ascent or descent into the mix, and Rhodes did good on an 'opportunity'. One might suspect Mr Abulafia of a little finger-wagging here, as if he were saying to the contemporary world: look what the overweening chase after leverage gets a fair nation-state, these days—Or something along those lines. Yesterday MH wondered if Anne Boleyn could have possibly loved old Hennery the Eighth I am I am, given what court life was - a snake's den of scheme and counter-scheme and power-seeking and mongering and all the rest of it. The romantic in me said: sure. She could have come to love the man, even if she thought him pretty much a pig at the outset. The realist said: a modicum of affection, perhaps, was achieved, a modicum tempered by an acute awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of one's position—Well, perhaps—Inasmuch as it seems Anne B either underestimated her enemies or overplayed her hand or all the above, or was simply the innocent (or not so innocent) victim of Cromwell, cold fish if there ever was one. Then there was what seemed like a good movie, as opposed to flick, film, or cinema, something called The Memoirs of a Geisha that had succeeded a BBC documentary on the Plains of Abraham and how that little fracas made North America what it is, you fill in the blank. (The Brits were scientific and methodical in their approach to battle and colonialism, so sayeth the presenter, clearly an enthusiast of some sort. Scientific and methodical got them past their French-speaking competitor in the new world. Scientific and methodical just got them snafu'd in respect to the yankees—) Good movie or not (and somehow I can never quite trust anything along movie lines that has Spielberg's slick money imprint on it), it has to be remarked that no matter how monstrously cruel Japanese militarism was in the last century, the Americans in the post-war aftermath do come off rather coarse in comparison to the people they occupied. And, as MH observed, no less cruel. People seem to think that human intelligence, when it is actually applied, justifies all and renders everything forgivable in the end, and solves it all now and forever. Not the romantic, not the realist, but the poet in me, to the extent that there is such an animal like that lodged in my person, has it that human intelligence, however indispensable to 'civilization' or to living off the land, generally invites and inevitably hastens every collapse of a house of cards that is perennially in the making—

April 1, 2012: Ah yes, wild night. Good people managed to stuff me in a cab, no doubt happy enough to divest themselves of my person. I had talked poetry with 'young people'. And guitar. Mighty important that - guitarrrrr. Which it was the bonus to the commitment to have had some discourse in respect to anything that might or might not come to mind. And there seems to have been talk of 'life' in a much generalized sense. Yet added bonus—I sat back, settled down, listened—Morning. Nikas. According to Eddie, owner-cook, there was a fire in the restaurant next door at some point in the course of last night's proceedings. But I had been sweet to the world and noticed nothing. I do seem to recall that a certain Eric, in whose company I was down in St Henri, notoriously Montreal, along with Mr and Missus Katzenjammer and the dog, all of them bon vivants and intellects as well, assured me that his 'generation' is not dead to the sort of 'issues' I raise. Good to hear. Does not bode well for a certain generation for whom poetry has been a career option and nothing but—I have been working on a guitar piece I call Dvorak Transcendent. It could be that 'tablature' has destroyed guitar music - I can't say, inasmuch as I am one of those who has benefited from the fact of guitar tablature. To anyone familiar with Dvorak's New World Symphony then, it ought to be obvious I have attempted to incorporate in my piece a gaggle of notes such as underpin the melody of the man's famous largo. I am also working up a piece I call Arcangelo R. Banjo tuning—Open G variant— Well, if you are a young poet and you happen to be confused in the matter, read your Elizabethans, yes, for what they say, but especially for their ear. Best poetry in the language when it comes to ear. Read it aloud when you are in the tub. Rubadubdub. If you ain't got that ear, you have got nothing much—

 

 


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