Ephemeris August 2012
|August 22, 2012: Beginning Friday, August 24th,
Ephemeris is switching venues and a weekly post, along the lines
of what I have been posting for the past two years or so on a near daily
basis, may be perused at Encore Literary
Magazine. From time to time, on an ad hoc basis on this site, I will
bring certain oddments to your attention - bits of music, photographs,
scrapbook items, perhaps even a poem or two, general detritus, and cries
for help in this our parody of paradise that some pundits say (as they
speak of the 'world') has always been a mess, so then, what's the
big deal, get your life in order et cetera. Alright then. Order.
Or as a number of us the other night had it as we sat around and poked
some fun at the vernacular use of the of-the-moment vernacular going the
rounds: cheap philosophy getting cheaper still: amazing awesome.
August 20, 2012: London
Lunar heard them out: a documentary film maker and a Syrian mulling
the possibility of going to Aleppo
make a film on the happenings there. He more or less put it to them that
if they were so disenchanted with life, there were alternative modes
action. A no-fly zone would, of course, spell the end of Assad—I
continue to enjoy a rather zippy translation of Stendhal's The Charterhouse
of Parma. (Modern Library, Richard Howard, 1999.) Our hero gets on
and off his horses with all the zippiness of a jack-in-the-box. Boswell
rogers everything in sight, women in particular, but then Boswell has
nothing whatsoever to do with the aforementioned tale. It would seem there
is no metronome that could pace one through, with the requisite bpms,
exercises involving what is called rapid tremolo. Which it is a kind of
arpeggio the sound of which brings to mind splashing fountains, for instance.
How poncey, eh? And there I was being precious, practicing my rapid tremolo
to the extent my aged fingers were able whilst watching something entitled
Green Street Hooligans in which your average savage Brit pounds
the ever-loving beJesus out of your next average savage Brit, especially
in side lanes adjacent to football pitches; and I wondered, I did, how,
in the matter of violence, the mentality of the Brit differs from that
of the American what seems to have a liking for the technologically-enabled
infliction of pain on persons. Or will gangs be gangs and codes of honour
be codes of honour? Well, honour is something, and it has been accorded
a bad rap, generally by people who have none but who pretend to have
in for blowhard militarists and want everyone to kind of love everyone
in as sappy a fashion as is conceivable; until the love runs out and
hate starts, and then, wow, look out, look who has got the coolest trash
talk in the neighbourhood—
August 16, 2012: Thistle objects to my going on about the American election which he describes as an auction that will redound to the highest bidder, enough said, end of the tale. What more needs saying? Well, hold on, man. Is it so cut and dried as all that? Am I to be denied the pleasures of expatiating on the metaphysics of demise? Do we cease to remark on life because we know that, pretty much, it is an auction that will redound to the highest bidder such as nature will always provide, to the extent even of our extinction? Ah, those evolutionary passions. Otherwise, I have just been in Kingston, Ontar-I-O. Poetry reading. 'Art' was the excuse for a theme with which to separate said event from any other event at which the reading aloud of poems is the order of the day. Art the raison d'etre, the segue into bard mode; and a certain Foulard was our Magister Ludi even if he was not, in fact, attired in white linen. I was among the warm-up acts, and I was not attired in white linen. A book was put into my hands, and it seems a certain Glover has penned a memoir of growing up somewhat gobsmacked in Sheffield, England. The memoir is a paean to lavvies and industrial smog and the 50s-60s and the popular music and comedy of those times. And it is a clear-eyed, unsentimental song of praise to the author's often 'wrong-headed' mother—Headlong Into Pennilessness, Michael Glover, ACM Retro, Ltd. 2011. It is quite the little book, and I wonder if it will not prove to be among the last books of its kind, inasmuch as the tactile possibilities of the world seem to be on the wane, what with tech and market forces wreaking their magic, and we are all of us tearing around in some sort of laboratory or another, and being subjected to various treatments of crowd control such as may curb or, indeed, enhance our enthusiasms, depending on who gets to profit from either the curbs or the enhancements—On the bus back to Montreal, a bit of graffiti in lurid red paint winks at eastbound traffic on the 401 at around Glengarry, and a traveller, weary of looking at cloud shapes in the sky, might read: O Canada, eh? Ironic? Snippy? Outraged? Affectionate? An instance of tough love for the federalist ethos? In the seat ahead of me, an 89 year old gentleman of Portuguese lineage was reading in that flagship gazette of a fair nation-state (which it is the Globe and Mail) that Quebec anglos are po'd on account of the fact an election is on and they have been presented with a choice between corruption and the politics of separation. To the extent that a West Islander as old as he will shrug, he shrugged. Morning. Nikas. Alexandra the waitress, newly tanned, is returned from vacation. Naples, Florida. She is chewing gum at a furious rate. "Hello, stranger," I say, and this gets me a smile. All to the good, as we are frequently at loggerheads over the matter of the radio and its decibels. But how easily the Old World slips into the New-Not-So-New-Anymore-World and its tidal drifts. I have been asked recently why I do not consider a meem-war myself and I gave out with a just how bored do you wish to be? response. That this sort of endeavour has to happen as opposed to being planned and coming off as so much tinned meat. At least, that is my thinking on it. Last night, Labrosse, the Moesian, and Literary Thug #1 graced my livingroom. A furious argument ensued as to religion and its merits or lack thereof. Solzhenitsyn was assailed by Sartre was treated to a death by a thousand cuts at the hands of Lacenaire. Perhaps I umpired. Perhaps I did not. I do not quite remember—But I do rememeber that I have started in on a revistation of Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma, the opening pages of which are all chaff, as it should be, on a collision between the French and Italian sensibilities of the day—
August 14, 2012: Just to say that postings will be spotty for the next few days or so, as we flit here and there, and all for art, if you can believe it—
August 13, 2012: Let me say I was regarding the closing ceremonies (Olympics 2012) with suspicion. Fanfare for what? The next spate of spiritual suicide on a collective scale? Lennon's Imagine as the new Lord's Prayer? (I would rather have the old Lord's Prayer; it caterwauls less in the Moral Ascendancy Games.) Figuring then that I would not be missing much, I inserted Gladiator into the cassette machine, calculating all the while that it has been at least a year since I last viewed the thing, and perhaps more. I do receive a fair bit of ribbing for the fact that viewing the flick on an annual basis is a ritual for me. Moreover, a great many cinema buffs I know snobbishly and routinely dismiss the movie as some Hollywood excrescence and want me rehabilitated, cured of liking it, no doubt with shovel and pick in the mines. I recently read somewhere that it is the 'the best and worst of movies'. In addition to the liberties it takes with the historical record, it is needlessly less than accurate when it comes to depicting Roman war craft and the gladiatorial spectacle. On the other side of the balance sheet, in the General Truths Department, it is awfully good. (And this time around, I was rather partial to Proximo's little pep rallies in behalf of his 'stock', his stable of fighters, he the archetypal football coach who can make of the odd home truth a home truth. Ultimately, we are all dead men)—Even so, I was prepared to savage the flick and have done with it once and for all as I began watching, bearing in mind that the German Shepherd on display in the opening battle scene was a serious improbability as, apparently, there were no German Shepherds back then. And well, what's this? - ah, the nonsense had not yet been knocked out of me, that nonsense which redounds to the desire to maintain belief in the notion of the honourable hero. And one wishes to stick to one's romantic view of Marcus Aurelius; that he really was sick to death of endless wars and the glory that was Rome; that he was an attractive sort who did not come off in reality as a little starchy, a bit like a Puritan man of the church, virtuous to a fault, loveless and unloving. One wants to believe he really did have republican sympathies malingering away in his closet, no matter that the 'empire' had long since been an established fact, the only conceivable way of doing business. That is to say, to conduct business otherwise was unthinkable, even for the likes of him. And so forth and so on. And one sees America drifting in that direction. And in this annual viewing of the flick a meditation continues; it is the on-going comparison of things American to things Roman, and how, in each over-arching domain, a similar discrepancy is observable between the promise and the reality. One knows the 'good' by its very absence and yet, there is always this 'idea' floating about that suggests that the 'good' is not doomed to perennial extinction. Otherwise, slow reader that I am, I carry on with Tuchman's The Guns of August, an increasingly harrowing book to read; and the book continues to feed a certain suspicion in me that the world in which WWI occurred is still very much with us. In light of which, a young poet has sent me a poem which indicates that he is in possession of an 'ear', but that I cannot make heads or tails of the content. I suspect he is attempting to get at the moral failure of his generation, and, hell's bells, in respect to his 'age group' it is early days for that sort of sussing out rigmarole yet. In any case, form and content. Form and content. It was ever thus. I would rather have a line go klunk in that good night than sacrifice sense to music. I suppose this means I am a 'content' man. 9 times out 10, technical difficulties in a poem generally bespeak inadequate grasp of content. Still, I do not hold with the stipulation that a poet should always know what he is on about, as so much that transpires in life exists beyond words, as it were, and our fraught relationship with language; but something in the poet needs to know, if not his heart, then his big toe or some other anatomical feature—
August 12, 2012: Yesterday afternoon, late, and I sat a while with Labrosse in Nikas. He was in a mood to celebrate his existence following some medical procedure involving his heart; and he had the wine cow out and a fund of political chitchat and lots of good words to say for the medicos who had been attending upon his person. His opener: is Billy Clinton dying? Had I seen such a headline? No, I had not. A reverie on Labrosse's part due to some change in his regimen of pills? P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, besides indicating that Romney's campaign is the worst ever in the American annals of presidential campaigns, states that the man's choice of veep guarantees his defeat. It certainly suggests that the Tea Party has not fizzled out and faded away; that it is, in fact, the official face of the GOP for the time being. Here and there the odd respectable Republican type who has survived the purges of the past decade or so might console his or herself with the notion that, this time around, the party is getting something out of its system; that sanity will return once it is evident to all and sundry that insanity will not gain anyone the Ultimate Brass Ring, and 2016 shall see the reaping of a better whirlwind. For all that, Mr Carpenter, though he is confident Current President will see himself re-elected, is also fairly sure that control of Congress will remain in the hands of the plutocratically-minded nutters, and it augurs for another long four years of trench warfare—Labrosse shrugged as I reported what Mr Carpenter has written of late in his on-line commentaries. Then I had a fleeting moment of screwball comedy paranoia when I wondered aloud that, if Mr Romney's campaign was so inept and yet, the pushing of panic buttons on the part of his party's strategists has seemed somewhat stagey, well, who knows something that the rest of us do not know, and who has what up whose sleeve? "Tut-tut," said Labrosse in his best imitation of an ancient Egyptian soothsayer, "you're being, how shall I say it not in French, a little overly imaginative." At this point in waltzes E coming on shift, she in combat mode in summery suburban attire, and with lots of cheek in her countenance. She was once at the centre of our Nikas universe and she wanted us to know she was still an entity we would have to continue taking seriously. She might have had a point to carry. It would seem the culture we inhabit that eats us up does not suffer from any dearth of imagination. There is plenty of imagination to go around, market forces revelling in the stuff. But if imagination is 'seeing', as in seeing and comprehending, then that is, perhaps, another matter altogether. I told Labrosse I could not get the movie I saw recently and to which I referred in the post previous, that flick about high school pedagogues, out of my mind, and he agreed: once the kids are sacrificed to all the snap crackle and pop of cheap thrills but are denied the tools with which a true imagination can be developed such as might lead to a kid becoming a 'real person', and such tools are in broad strokes nothing more than 'literacy', then it's all over, and there is no reason to believe in anything, have faith in anything, and hope for anything. Perhaps even E knew that as she flashed her challenge at us before going into battle as Everyone's Saturday Night Nikas waitress.
August 10, 2012: It has been a while since I last crossed the street for a sojourn among movie titles at the video outlet. I was in the mood for something, but what could I spiritually afford? Had I finally seen enough Fellini to satisfy a lifetime? I selected a recent release at near random, and without expectation, took it home. If it turned out to be awful, it would cure me of any future expeditions to the video outlet for the time being—The something was called Detachment. Ostensibly a flick about high school teachers and what a thankless job they perform. It put DW in mind, a grade school teacher I knew who committed suicide not long ago. He taught in a 'rough' school. Seriously damaged children. Dysfunctional parents. Boneheaded administrators. The works. If there was even a sliver of truth in the movie, perhaps I was getting the picture? The movie was The Wire all over again, but without the preponderance of blacks and without even the ghost of a hint of hope that anything could come of going through the motions of an education. Here and there the odd melodramatic flourish caused me to wonder if what was on view constituted a 'new bad', a whole new way of making a bad movie. Even so, at movie's end, I could only conclude that the person who wrote the screen treatment or the director or whomever had read too many of these posts in which my pessimism is shamelessly displayed, if nothing else. Movie's end, and there is a reading by the teacher of The Fall of The House of Usher to an empty, gutted classroom—Symbolism or what? That the situation is parlous, if not past fixing. And what struck me about the movie is that it resounds with the aforementioned judgment; there is no fannying about implying it. Otherwise, I continue with Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August. I ought to put the thing down and forget about it, as it it is not doing much for my sunny disposition. What the Belgians did to the Congo what the Germans did to the Belgians what the allies will soon enough do to the Germans what will echo on down and mutate and involve a whole new spate of actors - almost all the nation-states all part and parcel of the same madness—Morning. Nikas. Irish harpy and retinue (husband) survey the 'wreckage' as they do almost every morning here, there being something always bombed out in their view of things. It just ain't what it used to be—Albanians in the kitchen having too much fun. New world. But is it?
August 9, 2012: Juniper the poet blew by, last evening, with his girl friend, a DVD of Volker Schlöndorff's Young Törless (1966) in their possession. It was all that I needed, in conjunction with Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August - the German appetite for order aside and the lengths the Teutonic cast of mind will go to achieve said order - to confirm me in my view that humankind is not a terribly kindly lot; it is a lot of sadistic monsters, mostly. Cats, too, that boundless oracular source of cult antic, kill for sport - this according to the latest scientific finding such as had your average household cat monitored. You were wondering what cats do when they go roaming about, and now you know. In the movie some little sh-t seeks a metaphysical explanation for what boots it for cruelty and then concludes, a la Rumsfeld - the ultimate basketball coach shod in hush puppies - that stuff happens; that good and evil are hopelessly intertwined and so, if you please, you can draw your own conclusions, the probability very high that that's all she wrote, as it were, and in any case—Having arrived at his estimation of the matter, the movie's young hero decides to leave the boarding school in which all the dark foofara is the order of the day, the hapless Barzini the recipient of and bearer of humiliations and physical pain; and the movie's young hero, addicted as he is to theory and repulsed by what he perceives to be Barzini's craven cowardice - that it is somehow a worse defect of character than those defects of character such as shape the behaviour of his tormentors - returns to his mum's nesting love as is, in itself, a cloying, smothering, creepy ministration. Girl friend, as in instances past when she and her man have brought a movie around, seemed to be paying unusual attention to the implications of the fact that our nature is infinitely perverse. Bespeaks serious intelligence on her part. And perhaps a species of fatalism that North American society, in general, mightily frowns upon. She is in tough, if my suspicions about her have any basis in reality. Juniper the poet appeared dangerously close to thinking he had it all sussed out. There is always the proud boast of the male in juxtaposition to the cool realism of some females. He is at that stage where young poets believe poetry to be a kind of inoculation against evil. I had that problem for a brief spell - until I began to get out more, and the sparkling bubble was burst.
August 8, 2012: I sat a while with Labrosse at 'bratwurst', yesterday, and we agreed that neither of us cared one way or the other about government subsidy of athletes. We had in mind the Canadian women's soccer team, members of which played their hearts out, the other day; and if they lost, they lost - in Labrosse's words - with full dignity. If there were government monies involved, it was not thrown away on literary fecklessness. Dignity? What's that? One of those establishment words. Because only oppressed farm workers have dignity— Yes, well, the right word in the wrong mouth can have grotesque consequences—An impulse to satire and my disdain for PC complicate my inwardly Pindaric view of things; and the satire and the disdain have made of me a barbarian, if not an outright cynic. But enough. It was a pleasant afternoon, for a change. Deep summer. It was one of the afternoons that seemed like it could last forever, humankind around us god-like, immortal. As were the sparrows and the canines and the squirrels. But what a mess it all is and is getting to be. In any case, I have just finished reading Barbara Tuchman's account, in her book The Guns of August, of the Battle of Tannenberg, and while I gave up trying to follow the movements of each and every battle group on all sides of the equation, that the battle was a hopeless tangle of men and horses and field pieces and corpses in the forests of East Prussia comes through clear enough. Grisly debacle. Comedy of errors. It is the opening pages of the next chapter, however, that thoroughly frighten me, the author going on about what happens to the minds of those who believe themselves to represent the forces of reason, who believe themselves to hold the best of humanitarian ideals; but who are denied; whose expectations fall terribly short of any reality; and they become as bloody-minded as any tinpot warmonger that they had begun the day despising. And then talk of restoring honour and dignity and whatnot, of a release from decadence. The Great Purge (of this or that national soul)—And soon enough, and virulent intellect emanating from every point of the political spectrum, and you have an atmosphere in which the grunts who will come to take the field do not care for what they are fighting; they just want to fight. Just want to kill somebody— One might say it is always WWI, the sequel getting to be a fait accompli.
August 7, 2012: Clearly, something horrible has been happening in Syria and yet, it does not seem that a straightforward account of any of it is to be had from any source in any branch of the media. One suspects the country is on the chopping block in the cause of further isolating Iran and so, what's a few thousand people here and a few thousand there should they get snuffed by way of so many cross-currents in a very sticky power struggle? The big powers scheme, finesse, and muck about; the result is not order but an order of a kind. And one's little nation-state and its reasons, however spectrum-dominant, is but another gag-line of a joke purchased off some pimp who deals in jokes and perhaps even whores and arms and concoctions promising paradise on the side - sweeteners, as it were. You wish to speak of your individuality, your uniquesness. Perhaps all that is a sham, eh, each of us one weed among others of a weed-collective that is, in itself, one weed-collective among so many others competing for space on the surface of some planet, and it just happens to be this one that for some reason or other favours the dispositions of tinpot psychopaths and public intellectuals—What is it again that separates us from the other animals? I had intended to expatiate a little on comic book evil and my little fear that the evils of the 20th century were not a one-off deal; that they were a continuation of what had been and a precursor to worse to come. In my less exalted moments of anything that might smack of focused consciousness, comic book evil does seem, at times, to be as good an explanation as any other for the why and how of it all, religious, psychological, economic, sociological inquiries just more comic strips, ones as garish and over the top as whichever one of those things features Hellboy. In any case, no, I do not really believe comic book evil accounts for our reality, just as I do not believe Joseph Campbell did anything but make neat and tidy what was and is an impenetrable mess - those mythologies. Comic book villains, as well as Campbellian villains, seem always to be rendered up as ultimately manageable, solvable, eradicable even if the hero is something of a complicated personality, someone a bit tortured, an entity parts of whose psyche is not unacquainted with the shadows who has trouble attracting women. Ah, we will have to call London Lunar onto the carpet and have him remind us as to why St George and that effing dragon matter —Yesterday, I was tempted to shut down this site. Exasperation with the computer. One is not and never has been enchanted with all the technological hoo-haw. There has been no such thing as a duffer-proof technology ever, I being that quintessential duffer. Also, after two years of more or less daily posting, one can be forgiven for thinking one has gotten a little stale. Remedies? Give it up. Permanent Lent. Fewer posts, perhaps. Put more idle in 'idle musings'. I am, at any rate, contemplating a change of venue, the details of which are all up in their air at the moment. However I will, for now, continue as before, and I will let you know—
August 6, 2012: Morning. Nikas. And before I pitter-patter, let's get att'er, allow me to say that George, owner-cook, just now comes out of the kitchen all spry and all agog with Mr Bolt, the Olympic sprinter. In respect to his own prospective dash into immortality, George figures he can do it in - but here he mumbles and I cannot quite catch the time he cites. I had intended to remark on sport and nobility of spirit but have decided to leave it alone lest I begin to fulminate in some unattractive fashion. There is still 'sport' in this world. There is still 'nobility of spirit'. On occasion, sport and nobility of spirit come together. On occasion. And then what? Nothing, really. The coming together ought not be as rare a sighting as that and something for sports presenters to blather on mindlesly about—On page 264 of her book The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman has a survivor of a certain battle for which the casualty figures were grotesquely high say that a lesson had been delivered unto the strategists 'by which God teaches the law to kings'—Moving on, page 286, and the historian permits herself a witticism: Fateful moments tend to evoke grandeur of speech, especially in French - this in respect to a French reversal of fortune early on in WWI. (I had occasion when I was recently in the country to quote this bit of Tuchman to Crow who is a French-Quebecker and who, on the evening in question, happened to be doing send-ups of certain French poets and their recorded recitations, including one prominent surrealist whom Crow considers to have been the butt-end of a horse. More on Crow, later—) By page 293, and Tuchman has it said, quoting a journalist of the time, I believe, and in respect to Germans marching through Belgium, the smell of half a million unbathed men—Not to mention the smell of blood and medicine and horse manure and unburied corpses—And then a brief treatment of the Russians about to enter the war, how sincere they were about it all, so much so, they restricted the intake of vodka among their troops; just that vodka was sold by the state, therefore the ban on vodka sales choked off a principle source of governmental revenue that might have afforded those troops boots and ammunition—May one justly say that the conduct of the entire war on all sides was just one long uninterrupted comedy of errors? In any case, I have, indeed, been out in the country where MH and I had to dinner Mr and Mrs Crow, the Moesian and the countessa. At which dinner I was advised that I have not been paying attention, or that Current Premier has called an election for this fair province. It would seem that both Current Premier and Current Prime Minister are unbeatable inasmuch as their is no credible opposition. Even so, perhaps cutbacks in arts funding might here and there starve some of the more unsavoury aspects of state subsidized art - which is pretty much what the art scene is, and art return to its own true wellsprings—But perhaps I and a few others are waxing a little romantical in this regard, and here's why: equally unsavoury is the prospect of fascists imposing certain correctives to a boondoggle that should have been the work of the more liberal-minded of those who have been self-advertised as caring in some genuine way about art and the arts, but—you fill in the blank. Art or no art, dinner was et; wine flowed; opinions continued to be bandied about deep in the vale where two brooks intersect and a cabin was grandfathered into existence 60 some years ago with a hammer, a saw, a plumb line. A postprandial walk to the lake for a vicious game of petanque until darkness set in, bringing about a cessation of hostilities. Earlier in the day, I had been at this same lakeside; and it seemed to me I was occupying a commanding position in the foreground of a French impressionist painting, the Moesian and the countessa doing something of a Fitz-Zelda imitation, larking in the water beyond the safety zone. All that press of humanity looking for its heat-relief, tippy-toeing into the water, backwash from all the speedboats and power yachts rippling against the thighs and ankles of ordinary folk. The rich have their own private rivieras—French impressionist painting? Could be I was Mr Hulot on holiday—I read that a former high muckymuck of the Republican Party has come out with a book remarking on just how batsh-t crazy the party has become over the course of the past 10 years or so. And Mr Hedges over at Truthdig has delivered his weekly homiletic, this time on a theme of the dark side of science; and once again, while I 'concur' with the point of view proffered, the somewhat puritanical tone in which the view is delivered is hard to take. I have been saying for years, to no one in particular, partly because there is no particular one to hear me say it, that science is science; and that all that is well and good; just that science is as likely to go to bat for our demons as favour the so-called better angels that apparently visit our hearts and minds once in a blue moon keep on shinin'—
August 3, 2012: It would seem that it is the same Renquist who wrote a Supreme Court decision favouring Larry Flynt the pornographer's First Amendment suit or appeal who helped Bush steal his electoral triumph and bring on hell. As in baseball, hero one day, goat the next or worse? But why the remark? Because, back in 1987, I had not been paying attention—P.M. Carpenter's (he being that distinguished political commentator to the south of here) latest prediction has it that the popular vote count will be a close one between Current President and Current Contender, but that when it comes to the electoral college, the former will eclipse the latter by a seriously wide margin. And then, as per Labrosse, given that the man should have his mandate, at last, in hand, we will see what kind of president he truly is as, at least for me, and perhaps I am just too awfully thick in the head, it is not obvious. Otherwise, a certain black dog continues to pursue London Lunar. A certain number of horsemen have set themselves on the world. People are shrill and getting shriller. I find my geranium pots particularly poignant to the eye this season, but I cannot tell you as to why that should be. What do we understand, if anything? Ever? Thistle is swamped with student essays. He complains. He implies that the things may as well have been written by louts whose grasp of the language might induce other members of the primate family to take up the pen in self-defense. To those darlings of sentience who would deny that language is all we have and that the fact ought to be respected more, I present my naked posterior. Captain Kydde, deep in the years of his majority, is overworked, too. He perhaps made the mistake of not keeping his gifts and accomplishments a secret of the household; and now he is a dishrag to be wrung dry. Even so, he has approached me for a service. Would I set some crazy ballad of his to music? No harm giving it a shot. Shove over, Beethoven—I spent last evening having at Estudio en Mi Menor, Guitar Teach doing his angel with the flaming sword act at the gates of guitar heaven. In other words, I am a poor sinner not yet fit enough to handle even the humblest parts of the canon. Certain invectives come to mind. Nonetheless, he is not entirely without justification—
August 2, 2012: Was not up to much, last evening. The heat. Even so, Apocalypse Now Redux on offer by way of a movie channel, and as I had yet to see the thing beginning to end, I resolved to finally tie up this loose end. I would now and then check the score of the Detroit-Boston game as I worshiped at the altar of grand movie-making. So there I was, an hour or so into the thing, and I realized something, and the realization was a little frightening. But it was as if I had failed to see that what was being portrayed was out of the ordinary. I was seeing the madness as customarily routine, to be spoken of in the same breath as and that retires the side. Bottom of the seventh and—But of course the Romans will march into Gaul every season and incinerate villages and pull all sorts of crazy stunts in some celebratory fashion or other, all the while The Ride of The Valkyries resounds from boom boxes in the sky. Perhaps J Caesar did set the stage for the moral ascendancy of the Wagner that was to come. But here I am being what Woody Allen might characterize as jayjune—In any case, the protagonist - the captain on a mission - at length obtains his objective or Kurtz the insane colonel deep in the remoteness of a lost world not so remote as all that (Kurtz gone god-like amongst Stone-agers); and the captain, in respect to the colonel, will 'terminate his command'; that is, he will kill the fellow as per his orders handed him by putatively saner officers who oversee the madness. By now, the movie truly has me; and though I am only a few decades late in this - better out of date than never, or so they say - and I find myself according this flick or movie or cinema as imbued with something like greatness. Perhaps it does not succeed in explaining what may, in fact, be inexplicable, or how madness generates madness generates madness and bends light and gravity, but the captain's countenance (as it is projected onto the screen by that Martin Sheen who fathered a Commodus), after he has dispatched the soul of Kurtz to his rogue's reward; as it inwardly marvels at its own infinite capacity for madness, does speak to something - 'the horror' - and from a place where light and gravity have been bent. The countenance done up in operations paint is not a fashion statement. At least it was not meant to be at the time. Then again, these days, who can say? Well, I suppose it had to happen: that a man as fairly middle of the road politically as P. M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, mild of manner social democrat, though of fairly spiky syntax, would get around to calumniating a certain segment of the Republican Party (and perhaps the whole kitandkaboodle of it) as the Clockwork Orange Party, and that this explains madness, enough so that I can take up crocheting and let him do the driving. Or not. Does it, however, speak to a secret fear on Mr Carpenters's part, that the election is not, in fact, a done deal for Current President as he has, heretofore, been predicting? On some other note, I am reliving the old form and content argument by way of the guitar. Says Guitar Teach: "So you win the odd street fight, and this makes you a karate master?" Lessons with the man are come by pretty much on an ad hoc basis, one of the chief pleasures of which is marking time before the lesson actually commences. And I will mark the time in a fast food joint on St Denis of lemon-lime interior. Ghastly. The French classical radio station, however, is always on the go on all cylinders. Poutine and flute. Even The Third Man Theme done up as a guitar novelty act might be heard. Only in Quebec. I wonder if it is company policy - Mozart, Haydn et al. Guitar Teach has absurdly small hands. Lastly, in the 'Ain't It The Truth Departmen't, there is this little remarking-upon from Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August: But once divinity of doctrine has been questioned there is no return to perfect faith. The words are meant to indicate that one of the age's paramount clichés, or reality on the ground, is very often in conflict with this or that grand strategy with which a military mind might be reluctant to part ways once that mind has dreamed it up—Kind of like how it goes in art, sometimes. Art? Did someone broach the dreaded word? Not me. Poutine, man. Where it's at—
August 1, 2012: I and anyone who would care to join me will be raising a glass of something somewhere somehow to Mr Gore Vidal the American writer who, it appears, has just died. The man probably knew more about two things that matter a great deal to me than anyone I have ever run across, and those two things would be American politics and Roman history and the echoes each generate that seem to say that the one is the other right down to the pietism and the concomitant perversity of the body politic. I am no enthusiast of Mr Vidal's novels (but then I have not read all of them); just that his thinking on things certainly has commanded my attention, he one of the few 'public intellectuals' for whom I have ever had any regard, once I sort of cured myself of having any ambitions in that direction. Enough said—I have started in on Wittgenstein's Nephew, which it is a mix of memoir and fiction by a certain Thomas Bernhard, Austrian writer who may prove to be a man after my own heart, if the the initial pages hold up over the course of the book. That he is perhaps a fellow traveller, he with his skepticism in respect to science, or that it, in its more hubristic claims, is just another flimsy refuge for which humankind has a penchant when faced with its finitude and the immensity of the void through which it careens along. No doubt there are people who have no fear of their own extinction, but I have never believed a certain kind of secularist whose stated lack of fear in respect to death comes off militant vis a vis all the sentimentalism of deists and after-lifers. This militancy is not even false courage, let alone false advertising; it is so much sucking wind and preening of the mind and no more worthy of respect than the Jesus Loves Me Forever crowd. On a simultaneously saner and more lunatic note, London Lunar is attempting to acquaint me with Sardinian circle singing. There is always something—Otherwise, and seeing as how I alluded to 'will' in a post previous, or rather, 'willingness', I have the Big Bang on my mind along with my old suspicion that our lives are nothing less than predetermined, after all. Visualize an explosion. Follow all the bits as they attend to each their trajectories through space, as they create space and time in the process, but not because they are autonomous actors capable of changing course on a dime. Allow for other forces to develop and apply. Gravity? Electro-magnetic fields? Of what is this a picture? Bits in relation to one another that will obtain through eternity, all that is 'quark-riddled' aside. Perhaps it is possible that the operations of will, sheer randomness, and that which is set in perpetuity can carve up the universe between themselves, then again—But as I know nothing of the scientific and philosophic underpinnings of such thinking, but that I probably came across some account of the two in an encyclopedia while in one of childhood's more vulnerable states, no doubt explains the muddle immediately above. For all that, I believe the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker can probably intuit the true nature of the cosmos around us on their own steam; that science simply adjudicates—Something in the mind - is it logic then? - tells me that P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, is right; and that Current President will see himself re-elected, if not by the landslide Mr Carpenter predicts. On the other hand, as a portion of my mind more querulous than logic instructs me, it is an age for clowns of a certain species of spots and rubber noses. It is a clown time that favours clowns of a pinheadedness that renders all the field marshals of any army of WWI the acme of sagacity—We will see, I suppose, what is ultimately favoured—