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Ephemeris  May 2012



May 31, 2012: At 'bratwurst', yesterday there on the terrasse, I am afraid that between Labrosse and myself, we fulfilled all the requirements of the archetypal busy-body male. We watched a woman endeavour to park, with varying degrees of success, her SUV in a space commodious enough to receive an 18 wheeler; and we clucked our tongues. I am happy to report that she would eventually prevail, and she would escort her two lapdogs to the nearby pet spa where they would, no doubt, be treated like royalty whilst she went on her cruise somewhere. The point being here not the woman's incompetence at the wheel (as, for instance, there are a great many commonplace tasks in life at which I fail miserably); not the political implications as might stem from SUV, lapdog, cruise; but that Labrosse, tongue very far from cheek, would start going on about self-parking cars - which are the latest thing, I am told, and that this would lead us to observe that perhaps, as ever, convenience trumps autonomy, as we surrender to machines more and more of what we have been wont to do for ourselves. How will you occupy your time while your car parks itself? Investigate your countenance in the mirror? Well, life is long and full of salesmanship, says Mr P Newman in The Long, Hot Summer (1958). It is a movie I saw in my late adolescence and have not seen since. "The world belongs to meat-eaters. If you have to take it raw, take it raw." So Mr Newman advises Ms J Woodward, one of those starlets, and I do not think there were that many of them back then in the 50s, who could not only radiate sex appeal but also a great deal of intelligence, and this was noted long before I had arrived at my maturity. I might not have fully appreciated what it was I had noted long before I arrived at my maturity, but it was noted. I was surprised by the movie's somewhat happy ending inasmuch as I expected something more gothic by way of drama, and I was in no mood for horrors, and was always on the verge of switching to the ball game, just that J Woodward kept me hanging in there, as did Mr Welles of the voice, who fairly mugged his role as a southern patriarch. And yet, for all that, perhaps his mugging it was more real to life than what London Lunar calls 'ugly verité' (as in unsightly? as in spiritually crabbed?), his characterization of the latest production of Verdi's Falstaff whereby sleaze-realism is slam-dunked there on the stage so as to disguise the fact that no one has anything to say.

May 30, 2012: P.M. Carpenter himself, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, cannot quite believe the extent to which he has the onus all on the Republican Party for having put the dysfunction in American politics and keeping it there; that this particular institution has no interest whatsoever in the well-being of the nation; that it is exclusively preoccupied with bringing about a wasteland that it will blame on the 'other guys' as it sashays back into national bunkhouse with spurs on. Ordinarily, when speaking of relationships, one keeps in mind the notion that it takes two to tango, and, and—But apparently not. Republican nihilism aside, the Dems do not inspire one with much confidence either, and perhaps the head of that particular party only looks as good as he does because his would-be counterparts and their retinues are such consummate (but lethal) twits. Moreover, the man seems to have signed on for more cloak and dagger imperialism, with lots of night-vision goggles to go round, and however intelligently (or not) he avails himself of this tool, this army within an army within an army, the movements and deeds of which are not even observable to Congress, let alone the great unwashed citizenry, does not bode well for the future. The imperial presidency - or shades of the thing, at least - has been with us for a while, but it is getting - how shall we say - rather obvious. Apart from workaday politics and the systems in which it operates, blood diamond hostilities and K Street power plays and bureaucracies consumed with internal rivalries and UN eunuchs and corporate range bosses playing all ends against some mythical middle - how can anyone, anyone at all, claim that they have anything in hand, never mind having anything well in hand? But that is what the presidential smile would have you believe. How mawkish then, this bit of poesy that follows (come to me from the aether), and how smarmily Victorian and yet, it speaks truer of us than a lot of swill I read by contemporaries as would apprise contemporaries of their true quality of life: We are not now that strength which in old days / Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; / One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield—Well, you know, Lord Tennyson coming at you like Charleton Heston adrift on the Planet of the Apes, put there by casino profiteers.

May 29, 2012: E was back on shift in Nikas, last night, after a few days in New York City hipster-watching, and with a birthday bash under her belt. I put it to her: "Hipsters? Since when? There haven't been any of those around since the 50s or perhaps a Frank O'Hara poem." "Well, they're there," E answered, "I saw some getting off the bus in Bedford-Stuyvesant—" "And what is your idea of a hipster?" I asked, trying to summon up in my mind vestigial images of such creatures. She answered, with something of a hopeful lilt in her voice: "Someone who dresses a little better than your average bohemian type—?" It was all a little vague—In any case, near closing time, and it had been her privilege, so to speak, to wait on a table of CPC personnel, shock troops for the Conservative Party of Canada, Montreal-NDG not one of its strongholds. They were in missionary mode vis a vis their waitress who presented herself as one all decked out in NDP plumage and who bit her tongue in respect to the fact that she has a horror of men who wear suits and white socks with soiled heels. One such suit was heard to remark that something had to be done about the hippies in the area. Otherwise, age 30 now, and life as she has known it is finished for E. She expects to be a full-fledged 9 - 5er come the fall. No more celebratory waitressing. No more post-shift discourse at 'bratwurst' just up the street, uncle Jamal chaffable—But as per Mr Abulafia in his book The Great Sea, in some times and places (and in Montreal-NDG the narrative on this matter is, no doubt, a decidedly mixed bag) trickle-down did not always float all boats; it did not even come near to doing so. 1100s, and in a city like Genoa, merchants and patricians might together bring about a commercial revolution in trade, but only those personages in possession of urban and rural property had 'staying power'; that is to say, they were better positioned to withstand the caprices of political events, let alone shipwreck, whereas mere merchants could not, no matter how much the odd gamble paid them off. I hear the tinkling of a bell being rung—Morning. Nikas. Thundery skies. Already, I am at war with Alexandra the waitress over the radio and its puling songsterettes and gratuitously male-sexed androids. I am losing this war. It occurs to me that one could, in extremis, go the anti-immigrant route; just that Greece is such a mess—In a way, she has been deracinated over the years, I suppose, so much so she is willing to offer herself up as a suitable victim for the altar of Pop Celebrity. Or else it is how she hangs on to her daughters' affections: by esteeming what they esteem. But at kamikaze decibels?

May 28, 2012: The Battle of Pharsalus (which some historians claim was the single event that ended the Roman republic) was Pompey's to lose, and he lost it. He lost it, though he had a decided edge in numbers, position, logistics and any other factors and variables one might care to mention, with two possible exceptions: luck, and the fact that Caesar's troops had the edge in combat experience. There were also senators and high mucky mucks in Pompey's camp who wanted a quick victory such as would bring each of them closer to whatever brass ring was leading them a merry chase through life that much sooner, and a besieged Pompey caved to their desires. In other words, it had been his intention to take his time and simply starve Caesar out, seeing as he could easily enough choke off Caesar's supply lines. What Pompey dreaded most in his opponent was the man's fabulous luck on the field, and it would seem that, in the end, the luck held. Appian suggests the gods must have had a hand in Caesar's victory as, otherwise, he could not have won. Moderns, of course, will even discount the matter of luck, let alone the active participation of the gods. There will have been a rational reason and no other for Caesar's unlikely win. Caesar himself, after the battle, took a couple of days with which to offer up sacrifices to those gods, as if to say he knew better than to claim sole responsibility for his triumph. Well, he also wanted to rest his troops. And perhaps he wished to commit a few thoughts and impressions to his wax tablet, one of which was that Pompey had failed to pursue his advantages in the sitation. And when Pompey only dug his hole deeper by heading off to Egypt, looking for help there so as to recoup what he had squandered, and he lost his head at the hands of the boy-king and retainers who figured on scoring some points with Caesar thereby, they did not reckon on Caesar's subsequent fury in respect to the act. A rational explanation for that fury would have it that Caesar lost a propaganda ploy with which he could claim magnanimity to his enemies, seeing as he chose to allow them to resume their lives back in Rome. The other explanation: that barbarians could not be allowed to insult a Roman, no matter if Pompey had been Caesar's arch rival in a struggle for supremacy. None of the above has anything to do with what follows here, or perhaps it does - in some subterranean way. Ah, but you say there is a difference in mentality between those who do drone warfare in remote nooks and crannies of the world and crash wedding parties, and progressives who believe their stockpile of what Code Pink femmes call 'boy toys' accord them intellectual superiority to their rivals. But who has lost the war in Afghanistan? Last evening, my immediate neighbour in the back appeared on the deck with his wife, and they set about beating on pots and pans; and it struck me they might have departed their senses. What was all this? Some revived ancient ritual for fending off evil spirits? Was it me and my 12 string on which I happened to be plunking? But I had closed my window so as to spare them, and I did not think the sound could carry. Then the penny dropped: they were having solidarity with those student protesters for whom, in recent days, beating on pots and pans has become signature. Most likely, my neighbours objected to the implications of Bill 78 over and above any hike in tuition fees (seeing as they are business people and not students)—Well then, fine. Beat away. Note: Bill 78 seeks to muzzle dissent  in these parts pure and simple. One suspects other motives, as well, that  is, if Quebec also falls into a pattern of what appears to obtaining elsewhere on the continent and in the world at large: authorities looking for greater police powers, period, no matter what the circumstance—

May 27, 2012: If what I read, this morning, in the not so mainstream press has any validity at all, then it would seem the Afghan people - a mixed lot of tribes - are now consigned to a new perpetual round of civil war courtesy of the Powers That Be. And what seems to be in store for Syria, on the heels of the latest little massacre there, will eventually prove to be another intelligent arrangement courtesy of those Same Powers, each of whom must have his or her or its interests served, to which a slaughter of innocents is only so much background noise. A sense of the absurd getting on to be a fresh spate of rage is, of course, pointless, as have been all those other spates of the same over the course of - but who wants to ascribe an age to oneself?—Last night, because it was there to be watched, I watched The Grapes of Wrath (1940). A fairly conservative lot produced what was then regarded as a 'red' movie, one based on the novel by John Steinbeck. I saw the movie once before in my teens not so long after I read the book, but I have avoided both the movie and the book ever since, and for no good earthly reason I can think of. Perhaps because I feared I would only subject myself to something 'dated' or because I have low tolerance for 'social messaging'. Well, labour camps are labour camps are labour camps, whether they be in the land of milk and honey (California) or in some Stalinist gulag any time, any place. There was one bit of odd dialogue early on in the film I can only paraphrase; just that Muley, minor character in the drama, dispossessed of his house, describes himself to Tom Joad, major character just out of prison, as a graveyard ghost, and then proceeds to ask if he is 'touched' for thinking that way, and is told he is not 'touched' (or batsh-t crazy to you); he is just 'lonely'. Rings something of a bell. As for the rest of the cornponish way of speechifying the principles had, whether laid on thick so as to add 'realism' to the film or not, and apart from the horror certain Californians must have felt at the infestation of unwashed, starving barbarians suddenly looking for work amongst them, there is nothing 'dated' in the film. The capitalists rigged the situation so that they could pay a lot more workers a lot less for their labour and so, spike a margin or two. And were the screws to tighten, say, in a certain part of the Townships I know well, I know any number of people out there who have not got much in them by way of readin', writin' and 'rithmahtick who could easily pass for members of that Joad family who made the trek from Oklahoma to California in a rattletrap truck. And we do have Arizona and its goons. And we are going to get more than that once the wheels start getting even more wobbly than they are, as seems to be the case in Europe and is the case in Philadelphia, a lot of Wisconsin about to break, or political loggerheads just this side of fullblown civil strife; and all sorts of Bill 78s Chicago-style, or that new laws padding the books for the purposes of a short-term security situation are not going to go away once the need for them has passed. Quebec?—

May 26, 2012: Morning. Nikas. Little to say and no reason to pretend otherwise. Just that London Lunar is exercised over the choice of some slam dunk versifier to come and squat for the duration in Keats House. The Eve of St Agnes to the beat of a techno-thud smack down? Even so, western civilization is on the brink for any number of other reasons, though one suspects that when any one of the reasons manages to obtain traction it pulls the other reasons on board and a grand, grand time is had by all. In any case, in respect to demise, some say, "Good. About time. Was never worth the paper it was printed on." Some say, "Oh woe is us. Sackcloth and ashes." Some say, "Oh piffle. We'll double down." And so forth and so on. No doubt, this arguing back and forth will muddle on through another century or two, just that the forum will hobble along somewhat gimped, not quite the athlete it has been. Future Abulafias will be writing of Pacific Rim rivalries and - but I have no idea of what they will be writing—Continue smug. What else is there for you to do? You are going to start believing that you actually believe in something? The man who loves truth, and is truthful where nothing is at stake, will still be more truthful where something is at stake; he will avoid falsehood as something base, seeing that he avoided it even for its own sake; and such a man is worthy of praise. He inclines rather to understate the truth; for this reason this seems in better taste because exaggerations are wearisome—Aristotle, Ethics. Seems a fairy tale, those words above. Clearly, literary event intros and American presidential elections were not anticipated in the 300s B.C.—

May 25, 2012: London Lunar characterizes England has a sorry land unable to cobble together a reprint of Hyde's 'magnificent edition' of the letters of John Keats, the greatest letters in the language in Lunar's estimation. Yesterday, New Neighbour, Labrosse and I met up at the 'bratwurst' terrasse as if to engage in the heady business of negative capability, but nothing any of us had to say on the student protests bears repeating. "Feels like the 60s to me," I found myself saying, thinking I could not have come off more inane. It did strike me that Labrosse - his support of the students on the matter of tuition fees rather tepid - is a great deal more exercised on that little item known as Bill 78 which seeks to put a fairly dramatic kibosh on any gathering of people numbering in excess of 8 for any reason whatsoever, some of which just might be entirely innocent. So much for family picnics - in theory, at least? Queuing up for hot dogs at the old ball game? Ah, the police shall be the judge of whether there is malice aforethought in the individual noggins of a minor collective; whether there is dissent with prejudice. "Men in suits," said New Neighbour, "it's about men in suits." I waited for Labrosse to get a little chuffed at this assertion, seeing as he has been one of those men in suits, and happy to say as much. And he was on the verge, though he then thought to forge relations with the more politic part of his personality: he cut the fellow some slack who otherwise did not seem to think it somewhat of a contradiction in terms that he, on his part, has not minded rubbing shoulders with the arts community high and mighty, which it surely is a subsidiary of - but oh, never mind—It is going to be a warm one, today. I have slapped together a new guitar piece entitled Behold the Head of Orpheus. Any excuse for a title, eh? Received from the aether: some lines of verse attributable to Anne Wilkinson, Canadian poet, a modernist, years 1910-1961: In June and gentle oven / Summer kingdoms simmer / As they come /And flower and leaf and love / Release / Their sweetest juice—Received in the post: what looks to be an impressive new volume of poetry from the hand of Gabriel Levin: To These Dark Steps, Anvil Press Poetry. Appian's portrait of J Caesar in The Civil Wars, whatever its degree of accuracy, is nonetheless somewhat bizarre by contemporary lights. Who would have thought that a man for whom grabbing at the brass ring was as natural a thing to be doing as breathing, for whom brutality was nothing more than doing business, could also be awfully nice to his soldiers in a pinch, thereby securing their loyalty; whereas his arch rival Pompey comes off a bit like Anthony Perkins in Psycho; that is to say, twitchy at the edges. Perhaps it is an optical illusion of sorts that has taken root in me from too much reading of those moldy old history books, the contemporary world now little more than an abstraction to me, but for all our sophisticated rigmaroles of mind, we are no less prone to stereotyping our fellow players in the field than our forebears when it comes to getting into and out of messes.

May 24, 2012: Morning. Nikas. And a pleasant morning it is, weather-wise, and a gorgeous evening it was, last evening, Montreal the beneficiary of it, even as Montreal made mention in an Al Jazeera's news banner. Humongous student rally. The on-going student protest now an unstoppable force, according to the Moesian, with or without aid of breezes shagging in from a distant gulf. The Moesian - we were at the Cock&Bull, bar conveniently located across from the Little Bookstore That Can, Has Done, and Looks To Do - was also on about the poetry of Anne Wilkinson. She was among the first Canadian poets I came to read, but it seemed, after all these years, that I was only hearing of her for the first time. And the Moesian was not just talking about the poet, he was praising her to the long defunct sky gods and anyone else who might care to listen. Speaking of whom, he was also on about Jane Harrison and her Prolegomena (to the study of Greek religion), a book in which scientific scrutiny of a kind replaced the usual sort of literary treatment of myth. "Other than the Plato and Aristotle I was reading at age 11 or thereabouts, and the odd volume of Jung at age 17, and perhaps I should have stuck with Timaeus, forget the Jung, her book was the first truly difficult book I had occasion to read, but, no regrets—", or so I said. "It's really dense," remarked the Moesian, and he did mean 'weighty'. Well then, the poetry reading. And I will say that Mr Trotter acquitted himself pretty well, but that the other fellow should know if he is going to write the first draft of some famous dead poet's great poem and then present it as a demonstration of derring-do, his fund of wit had best be on the order of a Byron or the like, or he is only asking for trouble. Still, the evening was too lovely for any cheap shot on my part, and I waited the presentation out by resorting to the street and watching the world go by. Ste Catherine's. And one could say that the world was literally going by in the persons of people from everywhere, and it was heartening to see people from everywhere enjoying the loveliness of the evening. Otherwise, J Caesar is chasing after Pompey in the pages of Appian, and he has things in Rome arranged to his liking, even as his enemies are attempting to sort out how they will eventually deal with him. P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, and a noble one, too, did strike an oddly craven note in his most recent commentary to do with Current President's handling of Afghanistan, suggesting that the man does not rate the criticism he has been getting on that score from circles to the left of him. He writes something to the effect of thank Christ it isn't me who has to make the big decisions. As if to say if you don't stand in his shoes you have no right to an opinion. Counterinsurge? Draw down? Putz about? Yes, well. Mr Carpenter, otherwise a no-nonsense observer of the nuts and bolts of American political affairs, who takes after Mencken in his satire (and he is savage on the previous administration and the horrors it brought into the world), seems to idolize his president who can do no wrong—While the aforementioned poet was having at the beloved memory of a long dead poet for laughs and future considerations, and I had my eye on the street life, the question popped into my head as to what happens to metaphor in a so-called dark age. Or rather what happens to the poetic sensibility or even the 'art spirit'? And the answer that popped up, as smart-alecky as it was, suggested that a treading of water, a spinning of wheels, a kind of house arrest on the part of small and ignorant minds is what occurs. In other words, poetry does not disappear, but it has to make do with what it has to make do, for all that there are so many forces in the world that will be tickled pink should the noxious 'poetic sensibility' really go extinct. Strong citizens falling to the rhetoric of pygmies, indeed. In any case, we wound up at Grumpy's, the terrasse out back. In which I felt like I was in the middle of an Edward Hopper painting. Much earnest and lively talk, however. Hilarity. At some point, the Moesian, by way of an electronic gizmo, was alerted that another crowd of students was building at the corner of Jean Talon and Somewhere, and it might affect how he was to get home. A table of young poets then went rather hard on the person of one J Bieber and his Bieberettes and—Young poets feeling their oats, I suppose. And what would anyone mired in GlamGlitz provenance have to fear from them?

May 23, 2012: It is probably true that the island in the world that may boast of the most convoluted past is Sicily. I once wandered along its coast from Messina to Palermo, and my memory of Agrigento often floats up to the surface from wherever it is memories in a person lie low, and I find myself asking, "What was all that?" Random experience in a random world? Was there something I was meant to see and get, as in understand? It is said time is a fallacy of a kind, an illusion that our senses, even so, manage to convert into something like tangibility; and I suppose my senses must have been working in overdrive in that part of the world, as I 'saw' time. Even now, I see the modern town of espresso bars, and then all the towns Agrigento has been since the days when (the still extant) sandstone temples cavorted on the seaside ridge like so many dolphins. I was not, however, around in the 1100s when what to do with Sicily was one question, among others, being asked, the Mediterranean world a complicated business of who had and who could get the upper hand, what with the Byzantines, Muslims, Venetians, Pisans, Genoese, or perhaps any entity able to put a cargo boat in the water so as to get goods and troops from one point to another. (As per Mr Abulafia in his book The Great Sea.) Last evening, 3 more episodes of The Wire, season 5, bit the dust, Labrosse aghast at Omar's death, the man having been shot in the back of the neck by some tyke with a very grown-up gun - there in the convenience store. Newports. Soft pack. The character of Bubbles proves that there is something like redemption in this life, after all; that it is not necessarily a Christian fantasy or a baited hook or a game for suckers to play irrespective of race, gender, class. Whereas an article by Frank Rich I read, earlier this morning, suggests, by way of his review of some satirical bit of theatre entitled Clybourne Park, that Current President notwithstanding, race relations in the U.S. of A. are not significantly any better for his being in office. They are likely worse, as the economic malaise deepens and it is not only the 1 per centers who are circling wagons; and it is not only liberal pretensions that are coming out the other side of a meat grinder. In light of the aforementioned malaise and so many others, vague, if not downright inchoate thoughts slosh about in that vessel I am please to call my mind. They have to do with the mixed blessing the internet is and the avenues it has opened up for a certain kind of sadist to have his or her fun; sadists who have at their disposal, courtesy, perhaps, of a deeply demoralized postwar France, certain intellectual tools that were to lend themselves to the noble art of 'deconstructing' authority, but—Ah well. Now what? The inevitable falling off of standard. Or that all moments of truth are just moments, have very brief shelf lives save that truism which states that we will always revisit horrors. So then, the ignoble routines of 'de-contexting'; just that this particular exercise establishes in the minds of a pundit class delusions of grandeur as well as hyperventilation. Parse, parse, parse. Can you not hear the hissing of vampires and harpies while every bit of legislation that was designed to keep a certain modicum of what we were once pleased to call civil liberties, let alone a world, is being flushed down the proverbial toilet? Alright, could be onomatopoeia is not your bag. And yes: vague and inchoate, though the anger is sharp enough—London Lunar speaks of a goddess he saw on a bicycle that literally altered a landscape and all human behaviour in it. I do not know whether to extend to him my huzzahs for his having had the vision or to mail him a pill—

May 22, 2012: It was warm and breezy, last evening, Labrosse and I at the 'bratwurst' terrasse, watching the world go by. And Labrosse, in a playful mood, thought he, in his capacity as a fellow who used to rescue failing businesses for a living, might ring up Charest and offer him some cheap advice. Surely, the man must know he has a mess on his hands, what with the students, what with a cabinet, perhaps, in disarray, 'aggressive positioning' in progress on the part of all parties concerned. What, in fact, was up with those jets flying over 15 minutes prior to Labrosse and I meeting up? They have finally gotten around to invading us Who? The Americans. Ah, Charest has called for back-up—Well, speaking of advice; speaking of a mess; speaking of 'aggressive positioning' on the part of all parties concerned—And then there's Fawcett. Brian G. Fawcett does writing in this fair nation-state of ours, and he educates and he arbiters and he enforces the good; and in the person of Fawcett and friends there is no end of good. There may be the instance of the poet (such as myself) too much enamoured of the sound of his own voice, and God only knows I have, of late, attempted to con myself into thinking that that voice can render up a song as I plunk away on the guitar, but what of the person in love with the sound of his or her own virtue and optimal intellect? What would that sound like? Most likely not as messy as the mess my mind is always in - all stripped gears; I would not tell you otherwise. To be sure, I have written my share of howlers; it is almost guaranteed I will write more; and for that I deserve all the ridicule in the world; and for that I have received all the ridicule in the world from men and women who are more gifted in mind and have more honour in their souls than the perpetrator of a recent salvo that has my name on it (and it is this salvo I am endeavouring to address). But here's the thing: that I somehow lack any capacity for fun as would make of me a mensch in good standing, as Fawcett would have it there in his little sunshine spot of internet agora by way of an insinuation - that is a truly grave charge. Or that anyone who's had dealings with Sibum will tell you (I am probably coming up short in the Total Recall Department here, but I would need to put myself in quarantine should I revisit the site in which these words or something like them were promulgated) - well, I know quite a few people who have had dealings with me, and whatever they might have to say for me or against me, they will not say I lack capacity to have a good time and they will not say I have a treacherous nature. I will say it to your face, not to your back. So, now what? The high road? Cheap shots? I generally head for the high road, or as high a road as I am able to negotiate, even if, on occasion, I might be heard to mutter cheap shots under my breath. Here in this fair nation-state that used to regard its virtue as something other than an advertising ploy, the way to the high road is very often blocked by some Cyclopean highwayman who wants his cut of whatever's going, on general principles, if nothing else, that kind of puts me in mind of Fawcett, but I might be off base in this characterization. In any case, Fawcett asks, and well he should, why would the world take a poet seriously? He has likened the practice of scribbling poetry to urinating at the streetcorner for all the good it does, in respect to which act of pissing in the wind one hears the sound of clucking tongues. Poor guy. Off his meds, no doubt. I have stood on plenty of streetcorners, quite sensible of the absurdity of it all. Fawcett will probably tell you that he wished to be taken seriously; he began to write something other than poesy, or, heroically, he arrived at the decision not to inflict it on you; and, any idiot can write a novel, which leaves - ? - opinion-driven screeds and journalism, or that real men go to Tehran. But there are serious people here and there who not only take poetry seriously, they love the thing; and my suspicion is, suspicion, mind you, as I have not heard the man say it in so many words, is that Fawcett would prefer a world in which something as messy and as unsanitary as poesy should ever get past him on that good bridge to the high road; and if it somehow does, it will come at price, as something that will have passed muster as per Fawcett's specs. Could be a good critic needs to be as territorial as that and as jealous of time and space so that, it is always who goes there and why? But the further suspicion is that when Fawcett delivers a critique, and I have been in receipt of them as per request, and I did not think I was as much of a fool as all that, as he was, so I was told, my better - but when Fawcett lays down a critique the world is instantly rendered a wasteland out of which nothing can grow. It is fun for him. It does strike me how often the man is always on about having fun, and perhaps he does imagine he is Zorba the Greek - I cannot say, but I can bear witness to the glee, and Fawcett's glee is to bully and otherwise intimidate, and if possible, humiliate, and more or less reduce any ponce to so much bug squat on the hockey boards. Apparently, Fawcett's little number on me was not meant for my eyes; it was meant for some wild man in Prince George, B.C. not named Ken Belford and having epiphanies in the bush, a man with whom I once had a very satisfying drunk; so then - inevitable question - how is it my eyes are clearly meant to see what was proffered? Another line of thought: perhaps I am not only being asked to apologize for the odd accidental occasion of brilliance on my part but I am being asked to bend over for my studied and deeply mannered lapses in this prison of an agora - virtual literature; and, at the very least, I ought to find sufficient decency in myself that I from now on cease and desist from writing these posts. It would seem they fail to make the appropriate squawks in the hen house of CanLit. Fawcett and friends will tell you - indeed, they love to tell you - who runs the plantation and for whose benefit (and very likely, when it comes to benefit, you are not even in the running); just that they are the plantation and the hired guns and the posse that would drum it into your head one way or other as to what 'language' is, what language is for, whose benefit it is for or you will know the reason why; and it is certainly not for floating trial balloons or indulging whims. I can buy into that to some extent. There has been altogether too much published that is not even remotely worthy of consideration as prose or poetry. But then if that is all there will be permitted to poetry - a rationalism that has been put through all the wringers and filters of the intellecualized mind and the 1001 varieties of PC whomever defines PC as such, and squeezed free of any freely-breathing life, then it is not poetry, and there can be no hope that it will ever become poetry - by way of the odd flight of fancy, leap of logic. Morning. Nikas. Pissy out. A good day for getting something off one's chest. My relationship with Fawcett is long and more complicated than it should ever have been, and a lot of that is on me, but for the life of me I cannot see how a man has less earned his right to such literary popery (or Calvinizing) than the man of which I speak. Whatever muddlement I may have occasioned in the mind of John Harris - there in B.C., and it was so good of Fawcett to set him straight on this score, I trust my position in respect to things CanLit and literature in general is crystal clear: I have always wanted the best for it and I have become accustomed to seeing (there are exceptions and always will be, just not enough of them) anything but.


I have been asked if I read all of the Fawcett screed, and, as implied above, the answer is no. I was already plenty furious before I had to operate the scroll feature on my computer. But now, I have had that more comprehensive look, and by the words that are further featured in the screed it would seem I am a pretty unsavoury character, indeed, and one in constant need of ego-stroking and in desperate want of sound advice, let alone an editor. For the record: I never had any desire whatsoever to write for Fawcett or his site. He may have wished for me to have that desire for one reason or another, but no, it was never there. He at one point did ask me if I wished to be his 'Quebec correspondent' and I was ever so briefly tempted; but then I thought of all that gleeful red-pencilling that would be coming my way when I handed in my assignments, so to speak, and yes, sorry to say it, but I did not think I could bear up. Furthermore, what was up that he would ask me in the first place as his opinion of my work was pretty evident to me, and it was not the most favourable of opinions, immature pup that I am, child in want of growing up. As for the rest of it, well, what can I say? I have rarely been the guest from hell. Perhaps on that night in Fawcett's princely domain, I perhaps thought myself in hell, but what the heck, I generally give the benefit of the doubt to most situations. I mean the man thinks he's Cary Grant and is the highwater mark of society—As for my perceived insecurities as a writer, any writer worth his or her salt will now and then wonder if one is kidding oneself, and then, whether in a delusional or clear-minded state, one will either give up the writing or get on with it. Fawcett in his own mind suffers from no delusions, except perhaps that he imagines himself as something of a - oops - almost a cheap shot. In any case, that is all she wrote: I have nothing else to say on this matter. You are welcome to your own conclusions. I never wished for enmity with the man in question. It is one thing, however, to be 'so advised'; it is quite another to find oneself smeared.

May 21, 2012: I went to witness a baptism, yesterday, of the son of a friend; and in so doing, what I had figured would have me in for a penny proved to be the pound, a pound's worth of hymnifying and psalming and exhortation and a sermon of sorts. The woman minster was, no doubt, sincere, however much there seemed to be discernible patches of boredom at the edges of her commitment; and, alas, she was given to something of a patronizing manner, as if each member in good standing of the congregation was not so much a child of God but a child and a complete idiot, as well. United Church. Cosy Montreal West. There is no point in me slagging 'religion'; I have no quarrel with religion as such. It has, for me, as much to say as to why we are what we are as the latest researches in string theory or the implications of Marx's comeback. I have more of a bone to pick with militant atheists who wish to deprive me of a body part, as it were, or one of those garden paths in the brain along which neurons perambulate—But even so, as I sat there; as I was asked to rise, sing, pray, and alight again on the unforgiving pew, my back got up, try as I might not to surrender to a mere 'attitude', no air to breathe. All the minutiae of life - from Grand Mystery to small m mortality and advance notices of the next concert of which one might avail oneself - was covered by this or that homiletic, nothing left to chance. Was there chapter and verse for breaking wind? Were Catholics as obsessive? Buddhists? That person reading out the gospel lesson - was she or he in receipt of a sex change? If so, was she or he getting here the sort of spiritual sustenance as might be required, inasmuch as she or he had the look of a person up against it and rather deeply troubled? It was held out before me: the prospect of membership in a club that did not claim for itself exclusivity by way of race, gender, class; that does not claim ownership of some ultimate truth; just that it does claim exclusivity of race, gender, class - so long as one buys into the system; and does assert that to be a child of God rates one the fighting of the good fight, as is life and its 'challenges'. Could be. Perhaps perversely so, what the 'church', what any church is quite capable of delivering up, is a looksee into one's mortality. On this score it is fairly peerless. In any case, my friend's little son got himself through the ceremony, acquitted himself well enough; got gifts for his troubles of a material and spiritual nature; was, so the cynic in me burbled, bought off by a handful of balloons. A hoot all around. If a little perplexed, he was happy. Family was happy. Extended family was happy. Other members of the club were gratified to have been in on the occasion. I did all I could to see these people as brave stalwarts (after all, I have had a lot of practice in this when it comes to poets and other forms of literary life) in a world increasingly hostile to their religiosity. There was genuine decency in these people. There was smugness, too, of a self-blinding sort. There was also a crushing sense of a universe all 'determined', even if God Himself is but the prime avatar of free will and choice. It was community. Community matters, no question. Community may be all there is. But it was not a community for which I could feel any natural fellowship; that, if anything, I have been at loggerheads with it all my life; and why this being at loggerheads with it has not made of me an aggressively-minded atheist, beats the hell out of me. There was Labrosse, nattily attired, at my side also conscious, perhaps, of the unforgiving pew, dying for a smoke break. So much for all that Christ-suffering and the honouring of that suffering by way of a little discomfort on one's own part. He seemed to be rating an undue amount of sideward looking glances from a few lonely looking ladies, widows perhaps, or just loners or wives somewhat compromised. Even so, signs of life. He was mildly amused by the spectacle, he deep in enemy territory, as he is not 'anglo'. I heard much talk of the Holy Spirit but, cheap shot, I am sure, I cannot say I detected any hint of the item in the vicinity unless it was in the guise of some cocktail swilling ironist in cosy old Montreal West of the glorious trees having at it on the other side of heavy drapery. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has no desire to truck with a middling poet such as myself, and I do not hold that against the Spirit. Otherwise, Thistle notes that, indeed, Marx has been right all along; that if a primitive sort of communism prevailed on this earth for some 20,000 years, capitalism has had only 200 years in which to truly muck things up, and it does appear to be in some extremis, even if the Branson types are the forerunners of those types who will have us mining for moon-ore as slaves soon enough. Then the effer goes and accuses me of fiddling on my guitar while Montreal burns—

May 20, 2012: It being the season, we sat out on the 'bratwurst' terrasse, Labrosse and I, and kicked the can around. Labrosse was on about the difference between a principle and an opinion. Even he for whom all intangibles are suspect would say that, on occasion, one has to take up a position even when such facts as are pertinent to it are not necessarily in evidence. 'Ah, faith," I said. Labrosse looked put out by my interjection of a deeply distrusted word, but then figured I was just having fun with him. He almost agreed with me that people who only abide by the facts are always looking for their way out of a binding principle—I know such people. They never seem to have to greet a day that will inform them they were ever wrong - in respect to a conviction held. Labrosse now got mellow. He spoke of Carcetti the pol whom the TV series The Wire portrays. How he learned the main lesson there is to learn, once elected to office. That bowl of sh-t one is served on a daily basis, the hearty appetite one must maintain. Labrosse moved on to recent political developments here in darling old Quebec; the promulgation of a new law such as interdicts the gathering of any group of people in excess of 8 persons and deemed by police to constitute dissent. "There was no animal more political than a Middle Ages, even a Renaissance Italian," I said, apropos of nothing. Labrosse grunted and continued on with his genial, if paternal gainsaying of his government. I do not believe it has gotten sinister all of a sudden, but that, yes, it has departed its senses, that law a bad piece of business. Later in the evening, we were joined by a young poet who brought his banjo along; who would be a pickin' and grinnin' fool on the thing. He was upset by the law and considered it as something that marked the taking of his political cherry. He began to round on it by way of reason. Labrosse, playing devil's advocate, helped him out in the reason department. "Reason has nothing to do with it," I said. "Reason," I continued, "didn't bring about my objection to the Vietnam war, emotion did. The reasons came after—" It had all the appearance of it being a long night of wine and bs. And yet, Labrosse - elder statesman - took a civilized leave and trundled off into that good Fellini-like night of Montreal-NDG eccentrics and gleaming, exotic sports cars. At the Cinderella hour - we had repaired to my digs to further discuss matters - I turfed the young poet out, sent him packing. He could go and confront whatever hells are coming for him on his own time. I did however say to him: "Every once in a while, a generation comes along that's just going to be trouble, no matter what, period. Mine was like that for a while, until it discovered life-style. I think yours is like that. It certainly looks to be the case, but we'll see—" Morning. Nikas. Soon I am off to as church. Literary Thug #1 has a son. A baptismal ritual is in order. I have no idea how to even begin reckoning up the last time I was in a church in some capacity other than that of tourist or concert-goer in for a measure of Bach and having to put up with bad folk music—

May 19, 2012: Things, it would seem, are roiling in Quebec, and I do not require the media to tell me as much. From my Esteemed Landlord as of yesterday: dire predictions as pertain to Quebec, to the federal scene, to America and the world. Police state, he cries, and in the way that he is half right is dire enough. And MH suggests that the bill for the security costs the government incurred in monitoring the situation in the streets might easily have gone to those students in the matter of their tuition fees, after all. Even Labrosse, no radical, vaguely liberal, believes the government has overreached and more or less handled the situation ham-handedly —I note a new note in P.M. Carpenter's commentaries, Mr Carpenter being a Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here. An ominous tone in recent screeds. I said as much to him and he responded, and I paraphrase: "No, not ominous so much as weary, as in weary of the absurdities." In other words, he has Republicans and the electoral campaign on his brain. Ah, I then responded: mere absurdities. We are not talking, then, prodigies of nature such as the post previous to this discusses, that and the heavens breaking open with lightning strikes on anything ever so vaguely sacred. In any case, dire enough (political) thoughts had the run of my head, last evening, as I idly watched some ancient screwball comedy what had Jack Benny in it in drag. Absurdity of a gentler kind, as if the world was once a gentler sort of absurd. No, I guess not. In Appian's The Civil Wars, Juba - North African king or warlord or vassal to the Romans, allied to Pompey - has the head of Curio to regard at his leisure such as tells him how he is faring in the sweepstakes of divide and conquer. Even so, a mix of military engagement and sweet talk is strengthening J Caesar's hand in his designs on the brass ring. That is all there is : the brass ring and the designs it spawns. Mr Hedges over at Truthdig, backhandedly acknowledges as much as he breathlessly quotes Camus and Havel on 'revolt', or how one has not much of a life if one is not in a state of revolt; or that dissent is simply citizenship, not necessarily a 'power grab', et cetera. And all of that is true so far as it goes, just that there still remains the fact of power and the endless discussions, sometimes involving violence, as to which crew of knuckleheads one would prefer being done by. There are many ways to define a cynic, most of which do not present a dear in a very good light, but should one pretty well distrust anyone who would go on about right behaviour ad nauseam and shrilly, and be deemed a cynic for one's troubles, then - and need I complete the sentence? Indeed, in following up on the notion (at the behest of Literary Thug #1) that LBJ had something to do with JFK's assassination, I come across some oracle or other who suggests that the day the American public was skeptical of the official version of said event was the day the republic died, if it did not die shortly after the 1790s or near the apogee of American civilization. Either the universe is infinite / or I am,' He remarked to passersby, / 'Either the universe is finite or / I am. Or I'm not. Or I'd better be.' —This from God in Paris, 1945, Evan Jones in his poem collection Paralogues, Carcanet Press, 2012. Words that could speak to any number of matters, even the existential health or lack of it in respect to the 'republic' or western civilization or the quality of one's hamburger steak, to be avoided in Joyceville, some truck stop off the 401—

May 18, 2012: She tells me we live in a strange world. It is a strange world when - you fill in the blank. MH has some economic reality or other in mind, some criminality or legal obscenity. For all that, she brought in tender young lettuce from the Vale Perkins garden. It has been good weather for growing lettuce. We are not talking metaphor here: not greenbacks, not other paper currency that so irks some proponents of the gold standard—Yes, and Mr Abulafia's book - the Great Sea - speaks of the Italian commune of Middle Ages times as having done more for the oligarchs than they did for any Average Giuseppe. It seems to go against the sense of the word commune—And how could I be neglecting Appian, The Civil Wars, J Caesar making his move on Rome, Pompey beetling out of Dodge with his army, prodigies of nature irrupting everywhere, mules getting preggers, history on the make, as ever. One could call a halt to time here, stop history, and still tell the history of the rest of time, of the rest of the world. And with all the Gordon Gekkos we would find ourselves saddled with, even so - well, they are nothing new. At least Trimilchio did not have it in for art history majors. Otherwise, and I do not know if she is a great actress (or if she just benefits from a personable countenance), or if the movie (Being Julia) is anything more than fluff for nostalgic yuppies, but I must have been almost mellow-minded, last evening, won over by Annette Bening. Perhaps, it was that last scene that did it in which she, solitary in a restaurant, after she delivered a tour de force performance on stage, having hijacked the dialogue and so, having upstaged her fellow actress and rival in art and love (mostly love), and there she is, knocking back that well-deserved beer, not champagne, mind you. And one says, however hunkydory it all is out there courtesy of the culture wars, and despite the parody that Sarah Palin is of down home womanhood, that ah, a girl after one's own heart. One is reminded, as it were, that they are still out there; they still exist. MH expects we will be back to a barter economy any time soon—

May 17, 2012: Mr Abulafia, in his book The Great Sea, not only has a word for it, he has opprobrium; he has remonstrance and true indignation. He renders up the word and there can be no mistaking it. And if it was such a clear-cut instance of the thing, as it was in Sardinia, 12th century, then it certainly was and is elsewhere - in a word, exploitation, the verb of which is exploit, exploit, exploit for all you're worth. What was up with those Sard rubes and all their sheep, anyway, once the Pisans and the Genoese began to treat the island as each their back 40, the indigents their not-so-hired hands? Some disease, some famine, some depression of mind, some subjugation. Fewer mouths to feed. More grain to export back to the good folk on the mainland. Once Mr Abulafia has put it the way he has, one cannot very well continue to fudge yet another instance of the thing, as in Gaza, for instance—Morning. Nikas. In a dream, last night, I meet a woman by chance in a bank. I was once married to her, and had not seen her in quite a while. As she always had money and something like taste, I am a little surprised by the uniform she wears and the amount of jewellery she packs on her person. "What's with all the hardware?" I ask. "What's with the guitar?" she comes back with. I am packing a guitar, in fact. In any case, it turns out she is bored, and as she always loved to drive, she has hit upon the expedient of driving for a way of passing the time, ferrying the denizens of her class from points A to B; and, as she was always something of a raconteur she can regale them with tales and pick up a little gossip in the process. But me and the guitar? What? Have I stooped so low as to resort to the cheap tricks of identity politics? Well, you would think it could have been this simple in real life, the way things eventually get sorted out and various behaviours given their slots as per some Aristotelian mode of classification. And to go by Virgin Radio, there is such simplicity closer to hand than one might think, and yuppie life, or whatever the life that I characterize as such, however belatedly or after the fact of its heyday, is nothing much more than an on-going exercise in softcore pornography, hopefully bacteria-free. For this one must shut one's eyes and hold one's nose as this or that mounting tension in the socioeconomic sphere of what boots for it humankind engenders this or that prevailing corruption and hypocrisy as so much wind that will blow and then move on, all the while spawn, irrespective of gender, can be made to happen and reared and delivered unto the ranks of management—

May 16, 2012: As per Mr Abulafia's book The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean (as opposed to a history of lichen): pre-industrial capitalism. Or that such gaudy shows they must have been - those sea and river ports of load and off-load. All those spices. All those miserable slaves and animals. Nothing like our malls such as endeavour to keep from us the true cost of a thing, especially the spiritual cost. Otherwise, London Lunar is on about the 60s and its frequent mention of the word love and how, perhaps, too much use of the word brought out the worst in people; that just possibly it could even bring one to incessantly quote from the poesy of Rimbaud, and in French—E and Labrosse were over, last evening, to avail themselves of The Wire, season 5, episodes 4 and 5, E increasingly fretful, as it seemed Omar was about to be seriously compromised by treachery, as were the 60s. I have to say, and it does seem to be occurring more often of late, as if I have used up my quotient of forbearance for such things; as if one does not change, one simply stands more unmasked, that when I see someone of my age alighting from a new model top of the line vehicle of one sort or other, my back gets up. Histrionic of me. Childish, to be sure. It must be a rather peculiar pleasure-principle that I adhere to such as would have issues with car, cocaine, sex. This seems to be what became of it all: car, cocaine, sex. (And I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed traversing the continent in my old Buick LeSabre, boat of an automobile.) What hypocrisies the Romans indulged, and those Romans were a brutal lot, they never pretended to a morality they never had, and were happily carred and cocained and sexed, and entitled as they administered. Morning. Nikas. Yes, those early Christians (whose true condition of mind has always been a fascination for me - what was it they thought they were turning their backs on, even as they turned the other cheek?) - it did not take them all that long to slip, slide and go the way of the world, and in the latest models, too—

May 15, 2012: We were up for the 'bratwurst' terrasse, last night, the season underway, Labrosse and I in session; and we did not require any other branch of government for our validation and excuses. Open to all comers. Eminence in the person of Literary Thug #1 did park at our table in due course, and the man regards it as patently obvious, as axiomatic, even, that LBJ had JFK knocked off. The king would be king and all that. Labrosse's answering grin more or less kept it simple, it signifying: "You mean stuff happens." So then you can imagine what we swatted back and forth, twilight having faded into fullblown night, the 60s a decade in which ideals were ideals, and when they died, there was no mistaking the dying. Mostly though, and before eminence had befallen our lot, Labrosse and I kicked the can around, the can being the economic picture, Labrosse doing most of the heavy lifting. Said he, speaking of the latest scandal, and I paraphrase: "$2 billion dollars is a lot of money, but in terms of loss for the house of J P Morgan it's but 1 per cent of the total assets and et cetera, not cheese, but not a Theban debacle, Oedipus full value for the riddle of the Sphinx but blind to the worm inside him—" Alright then, Labrosse did not say the last bit—For all that, Greece was likely to become instantly pauperized any moment now as when the drachma returns as the currency of choice; and seeing that it still requires 4 quarters to comprise a buck, Labrosse foresaw serious economic disruptions here and there around the globe. Well, the man is a financier, semi-retired, and how about the European middle-classes? It would seem they have perpetrated a shift in the political winds over there, Sarkozy history, Merkel hung out to dry. The Americans, he said, do not need to invade Canada; they will simply absorb this fair nation-state through their ravening pores; trade agreements that Canada is a party to guarantee the outcome, and, and - then what? Will we pout and stamp our feet and say there could not have been the likes of Current Prime Minister had it not been for Trudeau (blessed be his memory and Lévesque's) having accorded the western provinces such short shrift? The vengeance then, of the west. Said Literary Thug #1, "The Americans have a myth to which they will ascribe, no matter what their politics. The land of the free and the home of the brave and all that. Canada? That there is no myth is maybe a strength. Probably it's a weakness—" "What about Dudley Do-Right?" I asked. "Dudley who?" Literary Thug #1 was genuinely in ignorance of the icon. "I give up," I said. "I surrender." At which point Literary Thug #1 saw fit to go on about eastern Europeans, a subject neither he nor I know squat about, but that it did not stop us—I wanted to say something about Naples, how that Italian city frightened me more than any other city I have ever been to and yet also delighted me more than any other I have visited, a city - when I was there - seemingly of nothing but anarchists of both tender and brutal dispositions. Even so, Mr Abulafia in his book The Great Sea wonders how the little town of Amalfi to the south of Naples had managed to outperform Naples as a shipping power and—Perhaps because Amalfi, like Venice, was not such a centralized geographical entity, difficult then to dispatch with a single knock-out blow—

May 14, 2012: In Appian's The Civil Wars, J Caesar has crossed the Rubicon. Appian had it that Caesar said on the occasion: "If I don't cross this river, bad for me, but if I do cross it, bad for mankind." It is to be considered that he framed his dilemma more eloquently than my paraphrasing presents it, but nonetheless—The question remains as to whether he actually expressed the sentiment; and yet, if he did, it suggests a great many 'bad' actors know exactly what it is they are doing at any given moment in their trajectory toward copping this or that prize. Over and against which, Mr Hedges at Truthdig, getting more and more sour by the week on this spectacle we may or may not be pleased to call our socioeconomic reality, is calling all cars, especially those piloted by déclassé, 'educated' middle-class intellects such as might include the odd poet, to the scene of the crime, or the streets, if you will; and well, he has a point; just that he has it the regime (and he defines the regime as the 'corporate state' or a nexus, I suppose, of patron-client relationships, which it is, pretty well, the whole of life since the first ever grain surplus), as dying, hence the feeling it has been circling the wagons for some time now. I do not wish to gainsay Mr Hedges view of the situation; in the broad strokes it probably is what's going down, but there is something to the man I cannot quite put my finger on that rubs me the wrong way - the hint of the thin-lipped, sniffy puritan - something Savanarola-ish, unable to tolerate the fact that what is most resilient in our nature is our vanity—He suggests it will not matter who the Americans elect to go and nuzzle the Brass Ring, but that they ought not take too much time in their deliberations, as it would be time taken away from the real task at hand, which is to occupy the streets. In the shortfall, I suspect it does matter who gets elected, but as for a somewhat more distant future? Who can predict it, Europe of a sudden seemly turning on a dime and heading leftward by way of votes cast? The genius of the American system, such as genius is, is that, in a general sense, it always managed to let off just enough steam so as to prevent the boiler from blowing and the whole thing fly apart, populace and all; but that, perhaps, this time around - too little too late. Or that the bankers really have gotten into porking pretty heavily, so much so, they have not even the ghost of a pretence that it is all to the common good. Old news in many quarters. It is just that I am not always thinking about poetry, you see—Or did I ever? Be that as it may, credit is due New Neighbour for defining modernism as any poor benighted soul still kicking around out there - there cannot be many of them left now - who still cares. Cares about what? Well, and can you believe it? art, for one thing. He certainly has regarded me with arched brows; and I begin to feel I have more in common with the doomed silverback in a diminshing jungle outback than I do with some punked-out descendant of Marcel Duchamp tarting up a notion of ziploc'd human excrement with the suggestion that here, here's art for you. Here's your buzz. Morning. Nikas. Virgin Radio. Which is, of course, the fanfare of failure. The rhetoric of pygmies. For all that, I do not get what it is Mr Hedges has against hedonists. One per centers conspicuously spending - that is not hedonism, properly speaking; it is merely showing off—

May 13, 2012: Labrosse said it seemed an awfully long time since we last occupied positions on the 'bratwurst' terrasse, and with our respective libations, watched the world go by. Well, during that freakish patch of warm weather a month or so ago, here we were; and yet, I knew what he meant: it has seemed an awfully long time since we were properly ensconced in a proper season. And what with Drunkin' Donuts and its ragtag anarchists across the way, and the video and liquor outlet and the bank, and the failed café that now vends flowers, including the basket of creamy, bright begonias suspended above our heads; and on our side of the street, the copy place, the manicure and antiques shops, pet spa, internet café, the ubiquitous Korean grocers, and there was ample scope for theatre, a world in lurid blossomage. And a somewhat muggy afternoon it was, yesterday, pleasantly so—I told Labrosse that Literary Thug #1 wishes me to believe that LBJ knocked off JFK, but that I was having a hard time believing it, and not because LBJ was any saint; and he, Labrosse, agreed that, while 'plausible' it was 'improbable' that LBJ would have any truly compelling reason to have had it done; that it just doesn't work that way as per some Richard III. Still, if political murder was not exactly a way of life in the U.S. of A. as it is and has been elsewhere, it certainly is a prominent arrow in the quiver of American foreign policy, and et cetera. Neither of us just then had the energy with which to itemize the instances for all that there are plenty of them to itemize—And is Current President in the political fight of his life or is he, you know, in the bag? I cited P.M. Carpenter to that effect, the Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here. He, of late, seems to have drifted to my point of view, one I have been promulgating since Bush's first term, which is that, while the logic of events has not yet lost logic, it has acquired the capacity for slipping gears, the fact of which makes predicting the future truly a mug's game. You would think that X will occur - and so forth and so on - just that chickens don't always roost at home any longer and this particular sh-t doesn't always fly— Some discussion as to how persistent some politicians get, how they never accept defeat, Nixon, for example, or Mulroney of the oily baritone—Two women, hand in hand, walked by, their countenances deeply etched with 'substance abuse' and bad marriages, no doubt; and it was clear that romantic love, even when uncompromised by hetero musicals, really does put one at the centre of the universe. Just that there was this rather tiny but sly lap dog seated at the feet of its master under a table, doggie eyes very alert to everything in the immediate surroundings, wise to every personality in their purview, and on the look out for stray bits of food - this creature was the centre of a universe of sorts, the most being-est of all the beings around. One did expect 'bratwurst' to have been hopping with patrons, what with the warm temperature, uncle Jamal and auntie Flora remarking as to how quiet it was. "It'll get crazy," I said, "you wait and see." I had not the slightest idea of what I was talking about. In my novel I state over and over again that we are not moral beings. However the question is: are we innately moral beings? And all measures such as would comprise the applications of science, literature and religion and the odd philosophical beat cop, strike me as divided on the matter. About which I certainly do not trust science to enlighten me, except when it comes to the numbers game. That is to say, evolution is a numbers game, or that which science touts as the ultimate determinant of our behaviour or lack of the same. It may very well be there is nothing more than that by way of a court of appeal, and we have been wasting our time with poetry and such and affixing rhyming couplets to spooning asides of some Richard III or Hillary Clinton. One adds variables to variables or eliminates the same from same, and one way or another, contributes lustre to one's plumage or, indeed, sullies one's feathers, simply because one is stuck for the moment in rotterdom or simply because a certain set of circumstances has yet to arise which would incline the monster lurking in one's angelic proclivities to come out and play. But what there is in some people is the desire to be moral actors and it makes some of them crazy—

May 12, 2012: Morning. Nikas. I believe, but do not quote me, that I just heard Patti Smith on the restaurant radio; she someone about whom I know nothing; about whom I do not care to know anything, but whose favourite author is, apparently (so I am told by a certain magpie), Robert Louis Stevenson. RLS is the greatest under-valued prose writer in the language, for what it's worth, and that it would say something for her - rocker, punker, whatever she be - that she holds him in some regard. Ahkmatova used to hold Pushkin in some sort of regard, so much so, she used to fancy that his spirit would whisper in her ear on occasion—Elsewise? Well, it seems that Netty pulled a fast one in the Knesset, or that pique can make, if handled properly, serious contributions to parliamentary legerdemain. It seems Current President is fighting for his political life, even if I, for one, do not get that impression, his magic carpet still airborne. Impression? What impression am I supposed to receive from a rabid media whose main product is a tool-kit for self-cannabilization on both a collective and individual level? Still, the mood of Alexandra the waitress is, at least, of lighter stuff than lead, if not quite the buoyancy of a souffle in pop-tart mode. Her love of bad music perhaps bespeaks her thwarted ambitions and resentments such as stem from motherhood; but then, were I to remark on all this at any length, it would only make of me a pop-tart shrink, and we have scant respect for shrinkdom in these pages, let alone pop-tart suzerainty, despite each its mighty leverage in this our society of ghostly and some ghastly individualists. My reading of Mr Abulafia's The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean (as opposed to a history of lichens), and my reading, too, of Appian's The Civil Wars, has been interrupted by my reading of my own novel, unpublished, the aim being to edit the thing. There used to be editors for this sort of endeavour. Wherever have the editors gone? Ah, the accountants have trumped the ancient editorial mandate. No? Ah, recovering boozehounds? No? Ah, panjandrums with blood on their hands in the hunt for the next quick literary fix—It partly explains why my attempt to render up Leadbelly's Fannin Street lies in ruins and that there will be no putting HumptyDumpty back together again, though we will continue to try—London Lunar howled at the moon, last evening, he and his fellow dinner guests. They do howl at the moon on occasion over there in Merry Olde Englaunde where literature is a game of hardball when it is not a game of whiffleball. Question: may a BBC journalist, in mid-stream, trade in his frequent flyer points for street creds as a singer of the blues? It is not that Alexandra the waitress must always gad about the restaurant happy happy; and if she did, I, for one, would doubt her sanity; just that her sort of mordancy is so heavy and linked to such Wertherian air guitar—

May 11, 2012: Morning. Nikas. Virgin Radio greets my slouching toward Bethlehem shtick past Alexandra the waitress at the cash. Well, just about everything is shtick nowadays, is it not, as opposed to the aggravations to be suffered in some rogue outbreak of high modernism? For all that, it is not a half bad song being featured on the air waves just now, something that has all the hangdog sound of psycho-sexual ennui coupled with an absolutist's sense that the fix was in before one was even born; just that the rest of the programme is generally nothing but so much drivel, drivel of puling boy and girl voice, and then the hydra-headed ads. I suppose it all pays someone's rent somewhere. Readers of these posts, however many there be, will have surmised, by now, that after a fairly protracted period of bending over for it, giving it all the benefit of whatever doubt I have managed to muster in its honour, I have lost warm and fuzzy feelings for much of what would accord itself as 'art', unable to drive from my feeble mentations the notion that 'art' as such involves a paintbrush, paint, and a surface on which to apply said paint, and, and—Yes, truly and indeed, how silly of me. How antediluvian. Ziploc bags of human excrement have been the new buzz in the western arts world, and it has been a comment upon - what? - that Rembrandt just did not know how to get to the point and close in for the kill and still bank his subprime dividend? A monument to our infinite capacity to say clever things, any clever thing but that which actually wants saying? And God only knows what the buzz is now, and you are welcome to it, if you want buzzing. New Neighbour was over, last night. Perhaps, he figured, after a month or so of residence in the building that I do not present much of a threat to his person - must be losing my touch - and that he could afford to remark on X, Y and Z and still depart my digs with his head attached to his neck. He did remark on his long involvement with the Bread and Puppet Theatre (Vermont) and how it is those good people that comprise it are mega-poor whereas they are mega-rich - those who 'produce' the Circus Soleil that is now everywhere in X number of venues - like so many vending machines vending cheese sandwiches; but that the theatre in the woods is artistically superior to the more moneyed arts and entertainment offerings of a slicker stage. That he himself has trucked with arts stardom in his capacity as a photographer; that perhaps he, too, wished to be an 'arts' star but has, for some reason, lacked the wherewithal or has not been gifted with the fluke of good timing inasmuch as he has been hung up at the wrong part of the food chain at the wrong time; that it is all, of course, corrupt, something of a mini-copycatting of the so-called corporate lobbying world corruptions at large, in spite of those Ziploc bags of human excrement that are said to be commentary of sorts, that would, like Batman and Nicole Kidman, clean up the mess; that he has been consoling himself with drink and philosophy as would befit any hoser still just able to effect a sex life. Oh, and that much of this 'art' world seems to hinge upon a certain kind of darling, female usually (as the men are touchy-feely wusses who, in their various militancies, have discovered that God will not strike them back, as, well, there probably is not any such entity) who has been gradually supplanting any notion, any consideration of art altogether with a new and improved notion of the same, or that what is truly sacramental, truly holy, truly to the point, is one's self-infatuated ego and one's vast ambitions—At which point, new neighbour rolled his eyes as if to say it has been hell, being in the trenches. Who was it that lacks conviction? And who was it that is all passionate intensity? I rather like new Neighbour. He is neither craven workshopped fodder for someone's arts scam nor a pretender to integrity. But if he had 'made' it, we would certainly not be talking. In any case, a chair at Animal House Table, Labrosse presiding, E scooping up the tips, wants filling. In Mr Abulafia's book The Great Sea, the rubbing up together of such tectonic plates as Muslim and Jew in the mercantile sphere brought about a fresh coherence in the Mediterranean world, a cosmopolitanism in which a man might own a house in Alexandria as well as Palermo, and marry off son or daughter in some charming nook and cranny of Spain—

May 10, 2012: In Mr Abulafia's book The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean, that body of water is about to reacquire its old coherence lost at the break-up of the Roman empire; just that events in my life conspire to keep me, of late, from a good sustained read of the reasons why. Meanwhile, London Lunar introduces into my lexicon for daily usage the word 'panjundrum', which it is a popinjay of rank, factotum of sorts, a go-fer, perhaps, when no one is looking, a kind of guy or guy-ess of ridiculous aspect and vast ambitions. London Lunar, no doubt, has his reasons—Captain Kydde wishes to know if I have read Nonnus's epic on the life of the god Dionysus. The short answer is, no, I have not, but that sinking sensation in my gut advises me that I will have to investigate yet another tome, as it would seem this Nonnus character also wrote a 'paraphrase' of the Gospel John, and the implication of having done so suggests that, in the late world of antiquity, pagan and Christian were not always so diabolically at odds. We have commenced - E, Labrosse and I - our viewing of 5th season of The Wire, the first 3 episodes knocked off, last evening. I was astonished at myself for having been asleep to the implications of 22 dead black bodies in a city like Baltimore. Such carnage, except when it was a political convenience, did not figure all that much in official circles, as they were not white bodies. But of course: Bunk's anger, and Freamon's, for that matter, that caught me up and told me that my attentiveness has been getting inattentive. Otherwise, I was gratified to see Labrosse, in his capacity as a retired financier and amateur philosopher, taking it all in like a man keen to obtain a handle on all the moving parts of a Big Picture; not that he necessarily requires an education, so to speak, but that - well - true dat. (As we are all of us amateur philosophers, even the professional ones who get paid the big bucks for parsing X, Y and Z.) In any case, politics is politics. Justice, unless one is a Platonist, does not exist independently of the operations of time, which is all about human failing as well as the quaint-looking platypus and quainter looking performance poets. E? Platonist in tights? I sometimes have the feeling she views The Wire much as women of a previous generation might have viewed a cheesy soap. Cheap shot? That she is intellectually capable of grasping the relentless fact of an injustice but that nothing burns in her gut in this respect as she is the mythological heroine of her own little melodrama on which anything in play in a larger world will not directly impinge unless connected to sex or the propping up of ego. Check out Theocritus—According to Virgin Radio, my nemesis, one of them, at any rate, the footballer Beckham is coming to town. Now here is a blatant instance of drumming up celebrity fever for no other sake but to drum up celebrity fever, lest it slip the minds of the hoi polloi that there is an item in the world such as celebrity. Who gets the juice from this particular exercise of drumming up beats me. But is Beckham himself the least interested party in this affair? Or is it that a matching set of male-female deejays require a reason to live? Been having a go at Leadbelly's Fannin Street on the 12 string guitar. Have had the rather dispiriting sensation of hands, my hands, dropping away from the instrument in despair over their colossal failure to effect whatever it was Mr Leadbelly effected on his guitar, Pete Seeger's version of which is merely academic. Poetry? You mean there is something to poetry in general other than the building of careers, as if in parody of a bad soap chockfull of marketing executives and members of Congress? Then again I suppose filthy lucre has always managed to out-metaphor poetry or that which was given to the spawning of metaphors in the first place—

May 9, 2012: I suppose it would make of me a cultural reactionary should I object to the fact of overly-polished, workshopped, overly-long introductory speeches such as I heard trotted out the other night, literary event. One wondered if those two women laying down the introductory patter were not the present-day equivalent of professional mourners, women who went about the village keening and wailing and lamenting the recently dead. One had the feeling that blanks were a prominent part of the offering, blanks that one, as one flitted from venue to venue, simply filled in with the names of the authors to be mustered out of the woodwork. Never mind, really, any discrepancy of biographical and curriculum vitae detail. Just behold the phenomenon. Ah, well, am cynical—Idle Thought #10923: God as poetic language. Being vastly uninterested in theological and evolutionary quarrels as to what boots it for our species when it comes to how we are at the pretty pass we are at, nonetheless 'God', if Nothing Else, as poetic language is something I insist on. One need not even reference the August Deity, whomever or whatever, just that such language is the only one we have with which to treat with the presence of evil in this world, as science will not admit of this presence; there is only dysfunction and varying degrees of the thing. And there are pills. Mistah Kurtz, he dead. Such an idle thought, by way of its twisted nature, might bring up one against the question to follow: the origin of masks, the masks I have in mind being those that were to become the stock in trade of commedia dell'arte. I am guessing Golden Bough, sympathetic magic, that sort of thing, and the attempt by our forebears to mollify the effects of god and demon, but it is only a guess, and no one seems to know with any certainty. Which brings to mind that I have been meaning to importune P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, with yet another question, his thoughts on whether LBJ (that masked man) had anything to do with the assassination of JFK. I just cannot muster sufficient courage with which to approach the great man, conspiracy theories fairly frivolous items with which to importune anybody—Man-Going-Up-River (as per Apocalypse Now) has departed the area, and sanity has stuck its toe back in the household door. Man on a mission. Man that, so one imagines, started out trading baseball cards and look where he is now: man holding down one of life's more hazardous professions: publisher. I managed to have had a run in with a young poet in the course of a post-reading debauch. Young poet is a very nice fellow, but when the smile ever so briefly vanishes, the assassin winks —This fellow seems to believe, if I get his drift, that there is no such thing as 'truth' or that something might be 'truer' than another thing. True enough, capital T Truth is almost always a matter of cultural and political convenience; however, stand in front of a moving bus and root there and one will get hurt. Silly of me, however, to have pressed an argument on this point. Other agencies in life, perhaps even life itself, are so much more eloquent on this score than any clown of idle thoughts such as myself with a flagon in his system. Unless there is no such thing as 'life itself'; unless 'life itself' is also there to be viewed as fallen into the meat grinder that would favour the chewing up of one world at the expense of spitting out another. Well, worlds are not 'planned', no matter what the engineers say. They come into being as whims—They are maelstroms. They are stealth operations. Difference between lowly poets and one per centers is not a whole lot, just that some whims are a great deal more expensive than others—And there is a whim outstanding out there that wishes to permanently put the kibosh on the ability of any citizen not a one per center to argue for their well-being and future. And I watch poets happily dismantle language for the sake of some fetish or other that would recommend itself as poetry, and strip language of its ability to push back or at least effect some parlous balance, and is it any wonder I sometimes get all out of sorts in bad temper—

May 7, 2012: A certain Publishing Man is here with his evil-tasting whisky, and there was a night of it, so much so, one wonders if there possibly can be a day of it—It is serendipitous, no doubt, and nothing but, but I have been sent someone's dream account of the island of Torcello and its having slipped beneath the waters, the serendipity of the dream and its sending lying in the fact of the post previous. I have also been sent a 20 minute U-Tub segment of some spectral hombre or other reading a poem. Good golly, Miss Molly, 20 minutes. Just kidding

May 6, 2012: Literary Thug #1 dropped by, last evening, to have himself a libation or two and to reflect on things in company. He is not just any Literary Thug #1 such as are beginning to appear here and there as copycatters, Toronto being suspect. He is one of those men who may have not have read the canon in full but have seen one or two things in life clearly and without equivocation; and he will speak on these matters clearly and without equivocation, and it makes him somewhat dangerous. So I was a bit taken aback when he hit upon Lyndon Baines Johnson as the man ultimately behind the assassination of JFK. "Well, think on it," Literary Thug #1 put it to me, "political murder is commonplace elsewhere, and has been throughout the annals of time. Why should it be any different in the U.S. of A.?" Yes but, or so my mind was spinning its wheel, getting up speed so as to object. Johnson was ruthless, no doubt, but—And I have no doubt some conspiracy or other was behind the JFK's death, and for that matter, some conspiracy or other did in his brother and MLK, as well; but, again, Johnson? "Look," said Literary Thug #1, "Johnson's last days were so dogged by guilt they had to call in a therapist, and we're not just talking the Vietnam debacle and all that, all of that which is still with us, no matter how many yellow ribbons got tied around how many trees." "On that score, we're in accord there," I said, "and the civil war dead are still dying to the south of here." In any case, political climates—I have been pressing on in Appian's The Civil Wars, and the old Roman republic is winding down, consigned to the ambitions of J Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Clodius and Cicero, among all sorts of scoundrels full of p & v and zest for life, the wanker Cato and a few of his like-minded associates the last line of defense; electoral corruption and outright bribery the order of the day, and it does put one in mind of more contemporary agendas—A young poet tells me my recent acquisition of a 12 string guitar will make of me a mystic yet—Frightening—But we are getting off subject—Literary Thug #1 moved on to matters Quebec and student protests, and how it is he can understand why separatists in these parts might wish to separate from this fair-nation state, but then to go and nestle down in the loving embrace of the U.S. of A.? Where are their heads? Do they think they will be honoured with special treatment, tea with a Clinton? Back to Johnson, and it would seem the man had his reasons, not the least of which was his past in which he had blood on his hands and this fact was threatening to come to light—I have heard something to this effect before —I am more likely to believe - indeed, I do believe - that Republican Party intransigence in respect to any president of the Democratic Party persuasion is deliberate stratagem, calculated to return the party to the control of more than just Congress and the Supreme Court, the welfare of the country be d—mned. For a town whose early history smacks of being 'fascinating', as it were, and we are not talking Pittsburg or Ottawa, my nod goes to Venice, once a village amongst other villages in the forever shifting contours of the marshlands. Nature and common sense seems to have enabled its peoples to elude the worst their predators could do to them—The Mediterranean scene fallen into disarray, Venice gradually took over from Marseilles the role of 'enabler' in respect to Constantinople that was in tough with the 'Franks' and the Arabs. Torcello is one of those places - there are two or three of them for me on this earth - where, once I have set foot on its soil, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and stayed stood up - as if time becomes material, exotically and absolutely palpable, more so than when one sits around a café - morning, Nikas - and observes time passing through the agency of the familiar.

May 5, 2012: I avoid books with come hither titles; whose subject matter I am, in all likelihood, already in sympathy with. True, it will almost always be the case that the power of analysis on the part of the authors of these books will prove so much greater than mine, as mine is pretty much laughable; but that I will miss out on opportunities to pad my arguments with facts and figures germane to this or that besetting issue. There but for the grace of some deity or other—Despite how it might strike you, I doubt I am all that irrational. What I am, I suppose, is illogical, inasmuch as my 'world-view' is more a product of emotion than reason, with enough experience thrown in to complicate matters. For all that, I read, this morning, a fairly hefty review of a book, one that suggests to me that, now and then, a little exercise of reason and the occasional attempt to speak in a clear manner about what seems to be happening to us is not always just rooting for the home team, no questions asked, and hoping the bad guys will go away. The review itself (in Truthdig) speaks to a book I have not read and am not likely to read, one called Zombie Politics and Culture In the Age of Casino Capitalism. (I am not sure, in this instance, where the main title leaves off and the sub-text gets visiting rights. A certain Henry A Giroux has written the thing, however.) The book's tenets aside - and if I read the review correctly, they are pretty much what I would harbour were I a creature of some zoned-for-intellect-academe from which I presume the author draws sustenance - one has only needed a pair of eyes and a thin smattering of grey matter in order to ascertain that 'life' since the 70s has been increasingly about 'self' and less about any 'self' that could possibly matter, were we to talk authentic personhood. Yes, and nothing is stickier than 'self', or that which would, by way of the very fact of 'oneself', legitimize or de-legitimize anything in perceived purview, from the food one eats to what one avoids, fearing pain, inconvenience, retribution, loss of membership in any society going of Cyclopean entities. In other words, I have little argument with so-called 'individualism' or that which a great many collectivists deem the great evil of the day, and I say that if a person has not attained personhood by age 35, there is not much hope that said person is ever going to be anything other than a machine that ingests and spews back as waste whatever it is one ingested, and with little reflection on the import; then again there is what is frequently referred to as 'narcissism' - ah, a word the meaning of which I know, just that it seems to mean different things to different people in different places—To put it another way, my vaunted pleasure principle is under lethal assault by those who would squeeze all the life from it in the name of lifestyle and greater profits and keeping the fix in play; and if it is true that a creeping authoritarianism is gaining an ever greater hold on our lives, it is those quarters that expedite the gaining; it is not so much the fevered minds of various right wing wackos who believe that God keeps tabs on their personhoods that robs me of sleep. As for the fevered minds on the left, and some are fullblown tropical - there we have capital R reason writ large to which they alone hold the executive key, should the need arise —No, I am not likely to read the book. I am lazy; I am indolent, in fact. I have been sitting around, singing Dekalb Blues to myself on the new 12 string. A quaint act. A Proustian extravagance. Inasmuch as Monsieur Proust lined the walls of his room with cork in order to maintain radio silence and keep madness at bay except that madness which mattered to him most. It is what I like about the man; that he was unapologetic in respect to his obsessions; and he reasoned - oh, he reasoned, but all the while he knew it was just a game, or rather just a pretext for getting into the record that whiff of that madeleine he once happened to eat, that sent him into a tailspin he rode all the way to the end—Yes, and apparently, a French writer named Proust said the following: It comes so soon, the moment when there is nothing left to wait for

May 4, 2012: An impulse suckered me, last evening, and I did the silly thing, bought that Oscar Schmidt 12 string that looked so pretty in the window. And I took it home, embarrassed for my sanity; sat down with it, had a few trial runs with a Leadbelly tune or two; paid especial attention to his way of 'walking the bass'; sang a few licks; decided that, perhaps, I was not such a great fool, after all. Dreamed at some point in the night that I brought someone back from the dead, playing that 12 string. Well, there is a certain volume of sound that, willynilly, emanates—Guitar Teach, classical man, will be severe—Otherwise, P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, and sometimes Distinguished, seems to have developed a liking for speaking on literary matters as opposed to political ones. Dr Johnson and Harold Bloom. T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare in the past week. (Celine, anyone?) Poor Yorick's skull is his own that he contemplates on a semi-regular basis, on occasion publicly. That casing for a brain regards him with reproach: "Why is my head full of all this - this minutiae of doom? The Republican Party and its, how shall we put it, wallflower counterparts across the aisle? Can't we talk Charlemagne? More bloody-minded than Sulla—" Morning, and somewhat sultry. Nikas. George - owner-cook - blames the traffic for his arrival past opening time. I keep telling him that he ought to leave me with a key, and I could always have the coffee ready. Alexander the waitress who rode into work with him grins. Her grin is not so much sheep-faced; not so mucn a grin of apology; rather it taunts: ha ha, your routine's been upset—Next thing you know, on top of the guitars, I will be awash in mandolins and banjos, serenading a Titanic's ship-worth of one per centers or some contemporary equivalent of—I was sent a photo by a local book dealer, one to which was appended a slight paraphrase of words of Isaac Babel: To be in Montreal on May Day and not to be fishing is a terrible thing—Photo depicts protesters with fishing rods in a stand-off with a phalanx of helmeted police—I am sure the humour was lost on the cops (who most likely have never heard of Isaac Babel); and this fact, so it seems to me, puts the protestors in a somewhat precious light—

May 3, 2012: Yet again E put on her principessa hat, and though in this instance she swore she would only be 15 minutes 'max' beyond the agreed scheduled time of convocation, 15 minutes soon became an hour and more; and Labrosse got chuffed, and I knew I had been trifled with in my capacity as the evening's host. Perhaps a liking for some approximation of punctuality is a mark of an authoritarian personality; perhaps punctuality is simply the civil thing to do—In any case season 4 of The Wire was completed, and no one had much to say afterwards; those 'bodies' that started showing up, plucked one after the other from their tombs in those abandoned Baltimore dwellings, said it all. What more was there to say? Every metaphor has its 'body'. That is to say every rigmarole of the imaginative mind has or ought to have its root in something concrete, and a corpse is certainly concrete enough—Every altar has its victims. And there they were - subject to Det. Freeman's gleeful count of them, the payment due a culture, and every culture is an altar, and I am not just talking drug culture or prisons or group homes or Bubbles attempt to hang himself after he had inadvertantly killed the best friend he had in the world—"There's a man who has a conscience," I said to my assorted guests, "a rare enough thing". I got only a grunt out of Labrosse for my trouble, as he did not like my drift inasmuch as the word conscience lies too close to his disdain for the church; and from E just the usual generational abyss. Conscience? Is that a word? Eventually, the atmosphere in my livingroom got less frosty, courtesy of the wine cow and the essential good natures on each our parts, but even so—Perhaps E, in time, felt herself restored to our patriarchal good graces, perhaps not—There was no lingering this time as is sometimes the case, both Labrosse and E out the door tout de suite and promptly; no invitation to partake of a nightcap either at Maz Bar or at Honey Martin's (where I would only get my back up in the end). Indeed, to the point of selling herself cheap, E would have put to the test all the ways in which she is admired, adored and lusted after by any number of desperate young males of a jungle outback, she queen for a day, and with any luck, for tomorrow. Nature is cruel, to be sure, but is there in nature a crueller and cruellest? And now here was Letterman suggesting that Current Presidential Nominee was, in truth, a Martian, his tone of delivery suggesting that nothing matters. Would Letterman have amused Nero? And - yes - Kabul - Current President's fly-by-nighter there - kabuki - but what about those secret service guys - what hankypanky in good clean praetorian fun, eh, folks? And then the stupid pet tricks and the obliging dogs, the darlings, the applause for asinity which it is applause of self and celebration of - what? - chronic low expectation? And then I had had it for an evening, and while I searched for sleep or waited for sleep to find me, I reviewed certain guitar ditties in my mind and a few pages of Mr Abulafia's book The Great Sea, the Mediterranean breaking up insofar as trade and culture obtained or failed to do so; the Vandals having gotten in their innings, and the Goths, and Augustine his panic attack, or that which got us The City of God; and another round of Persian incursions, and then Arabs on the fly and they and the 'Franks' and the Byzantines, in a continual shifting of alliances and counter-alliances, sorting it out at any given time as to who was going to lord it over, say, Sardinia. The world lost Carthage for good, the third great city of the Mediterranean universe, after Rome and Alexandria. But no, you can put your hanky away. And that universe, too, had a fling with 'climate change' and it triggered plague and famine by which, joined with war and politics, life acquired extra degrees of difficulty—I did think it odd, that fast food joint on St Denis where I had been earlier in the day, having a coffee, awaiting my session with Guitar Teach. A reek of hot dogs and catsup. The garish decor that says abandon all hope all ye who enter here. And so forth and so on. But in the sound system real Mozart, real Haydn such as were not bank ads or promo material for yuppie consumer items, no yuppies in the place, in any case - down at heel students, workers of menial employ, sallow-faced cynics—

May 2, 2012: Thistle wonders if I have not gotten Spenglerian in my views, but I have long since forgotten what that could possibly mean - Spenglerian. I suppose I am disenchanted, so to speak, when it comes to X, Y and Z and divers, but that I am otherwise an ebullient pessimist, and can hold my own when it comes to any talking-it-up wine cow symposium. Thistle has the Cyclopean eye of the ologist, one that swivels in its socket with all sorts of spin, be it Krafft-Ebing or Marx or the reverse spin of a well-struck bone to pick; and it sees all, save - well - I cannot speak to what, if anything, escapes its notice—Labrosse, when I came across him, last evening, was standing outside Nikas having a musing smoke in a soft rain. Perhaps the point of it all was that he wished not to have anything to say and was opting for the sheer pleasure of having a musing smoke in a soft rain. Later, he did take a vain stab at Current President's secret-not-so-secret jaunt to Kabul where a little kabuki was performed, perhaps to give Current Presidential Nominee something to mull. At a table near us a middle-aged man and woman were deep in chitchat, in which the word figuring most prominently and employed with such reverential awe was fragile. "Fragile," she said. "Right, right, right," he said. The wine flowed. To be sure, the wine ought always to flow—I read somewhere, and at first I confused algorithm with agolagnia, that the trouble with society, today, is the lack of anything worth concealing. Sin as such has been so trivialized it is of no consequence; and guilt is such a put-up job that consciousness, let alone conscience, has rendered the ceremonies of innocence, were there ever such items, either beside the point, or ludicrous to contemplate, or downright impossible. Spiritual castration R Us. Enough. Perhaps I misread the import. Perhaps I dreamed I had read something out of The Marble Faun—I had intended to go on about spring rain in the twilight of an evening. That time of year. The almost lurid appearance of foliage. Montreal-NDG doing its little imitation of some unprepossessing quartier of Rome. I slapped (compose is still too grand a word for it) some chords together connected with a somewhat mournful yet rollicksome bass line for a ditty called White Lilacs, Cold Sky, just that it seems I have fallen into a literary trap of such dimensions that not even music may ride nobly up to my rescue. Gesualdo! Gesualdo! Ah, now it is explained: I had permitted myself to be lured, evening before last, to an evening of literary culture. Such an easy mark I prove to be—

May 1, 2012: The Moesian summoned me downtown, last evening. Blind date with a poetry reading. Man, am I ever trusting. We met up at the Cock&Bull for a pre-nuptial libation; and I had meant to complain about the new $50 note that has all the appeal of flensed human skin, but it slipped my mind somehow. Surrounded on all sides by banks of TV screens - hockey, NBA play-offs - I was left to hear the Moesian out as he went on about Mr Hedges's recent Truthdig opinion piece in which the esteemed journalist had it in for cappittallism and its deleterious effects on the human soul, and the imagination, too; and how Current Prime Minister, the dear, is paving the way for a two-party system in this fair nation-state inasmuch as the Libs and the NDPers will find themselves implanting big wet kisses on one another's various body parts or perish; and how Current Prime Minister, the dear, is feathering his duvet by way of all the new immigrants and such family values as he can buy their loyalties with - kind of like J Caesar (in Appian's The Civil Wars) expanding his political base, securing land for any man who was daddy to a minimum of three Roman brats (and when the call first went out, seemingly in an instant, 20,000 such daddies materialized, screaming brats in tow)— Furthermore, the Moesian wondered how it is that literary minds got so tiny they cannot love both Keats and Pope, the one poet the antithesis to other - on the surface, at least. But by then, we had run out of excuses by which one might avoid a poetry reading and so, lambs to the slaughter, we duly crossed the street to the Little Bookstore That Can. I will not go on about the reading itself, the best line of which was something to this effect, and I loosely paraphrase: I was never wild so you can't tame me, this line having pride of place in what was ostensibly a political poem. But at Grumpy's afterwards, various personages held court with various personages, sometimes with telling effect, sometimes with effect not so telling, but there was energy afoot, so much so, various personages attracted the attentions of a Professor of Economics no less (paid-up member of McGill's academe, I think it was) who surveyed us at a glance; who then suggested that we all of us take up real professions and add to the tax base and his pension. Part of me acknowledged the justice of his remark; part of me was troubled by the fact that his insult lacked for wit and charm and he was not worthy of the honour of insulting a bunch of shabby poets in apprenticeship stage en masse. Umbrage occurred, spontaneously erupting from the beating hearts of various personages and the man was sent to the showers. Ah, a good evening to be a poet, then. The evening's second featured reader, not a Canadian by birth, not even by way of Thunder Bay, said a curious thing. He said that the likes of a Lowell, a Schwarz, a Berryman (all esteemed poets of their time, and yanks, to boot) were brothers of a kind - in a spiritual sense, one imagines; and that when the one 'went down', the others were honour-bound to 'go down' - by way of drink or what have you. Self-administered bullet? Just that North Americans (and Canadians by implication), otherwise, have no sense of honour, unless it be the sense of the parody of honour as was the spectacle of all the JohnWaynes once upon a time when honour was one of those useless feathers in the cap of some strutting army brass or the local American Legion parade. And then there was the spectacle of Bush the Younger. At which point someone piped up and objected, saying that Bush the Younger ought not be slagged so arbitrarily, given that he had been a good man at a party and liberal in the distribution of cocaine. A helicopter had been hovering all this time somewhat athwart of our terrasse table, though I doubt our little group was the object of its affections. The Moesian took the helicopter as his cue to announce that Montreal was getting to be an interesting city in which to reside and would once again take over the cultural lead amongst cities of this fair nation-state, the other burgs perhaps somewhat somnolent and fatally smug, and this just might include Toronto. The Moesian then excused himself from the fray, as he wished to be a disciplined writer and would commence to write at the crack of dawn. One by one various personages peeled off until a nucleus of stalwarts remained. I sensed it was Time-To-Quit-While-One-Is-Ahead-Time-And-Before-One-Can-Utterly-Alienate-And-Otherwise--Thoroughly-Piss-Off-Some-Entity-Or-Other - Gesualdo! Gesualdo!; so I took my leave, and, no doubt, the good stalwarts maintained into the wee hours. I have had a missive from a tender soul who wished, darn it all, that people in general would see that poetry matters; and I believe I replied by implying that one cannot force the seeing so; that one can only write the best poetry one can at any given time; and that fame, in any case, as per Rilke, is a misunderstanding, and that if I could be more uplifting in regards to poetry, I would—

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