Monday, October 13, 2014

Climbing down Pisgah.

(Following on from 'Lively Up Yourself' a while ago - believe it or not.)
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Flood Bay Street!
Toxic Zombies at Bay & King Streets, Toronto Noon on Friday October 31, Halloween.
Phoenix.Northrop Frye's overarching vision is way over my head and thus easily eclipsed by a certain more immediate quality, a kind of optimism I find in his writing which simply gets me through some dark nights.

Bill Beetsra said to me one time, "Some books are best read in private." He was referring to 'Fanny' which I was trying to take in, sitting & squirming on a couch in the old McGill Student Union (before it became the McCord Museum). Replacing 'Fanny' with 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' changes nothing much.

I go back and re-read Dostoyevsky, 'The Idiot', once or twice a decade. And some others. This month it's 'The Rainbow', D.H. Lawrence, and I've stumbled over Pisgah and I'm remembering some ... past episodes. It's an old man's game perhaps; putting on literary airs. Still ...
Moses on Pisgah.
Here's a kind of personalized progression of Pisgah visions: from Moses, to Lawrence, through Keith, to me:

Moses you can understand. They're up on Pisgah and God says to 'im, "There's the promised land of milk and honey over there but you ain't goin'." Moses dies eventually but not just then so obviously he climbs down Pisgah at some point after this revelation and ... What's he feeling I wonder?

D.H. Lawrence, 1925, by Dorothy Brett.Lawrence - not so evidently in 'The Rainbow' where Pisgah is a kind of foil to the central image, but in the essay - makes it all about something else (mostly Lawrence himself). Any mountain might do if all you want is to make bitter comparisons between ... sheep herders and coal miners. Don't need all the baggage that comes with 'Pisgah' for that. (The essay can be found here.)

Keith read parts of 'The Rainbow' aloud to us. A delicious memory even if what sticks most firmly are moonlight Harpy's kisses.

And me, an old hippie who wakes up in the morning humming a tune (today it's Manu Chao 'La Chinita' with grace notes on 'la negrita' :-), sets out to overcome despair, fails utterly, gives up, begins again ... whatever.

Myth, & biblical scripture in particular, & the KJV especially ... Is it important simply because of convenience? As a kind of stenography? Shorthand? Is this self-conscious I wonder? Did our good Launcelot Andrewes have it in mind?

It even strikes (occasionally) at complacency, at smugness. On the part of Moses (who might have expected more, all things considered); and more generally sometimes, as in John: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth."

View from Pisgah.View from Pisgah.
Mount Pisgah is a real place, or at least the aka Mount Nebo is - east of the northern end of the Dead Sea. So is Toslow. I won't likely ever see Pisgah but Toslow, yeah. I was there once with Harold Ryan.

Toslow.One house was left standing though the pole foundation had fallen down underneath and most of the flooring had rotted away. A red fox leapt out a hole in the far side with a cub in her mouth as we poked our heads in through the doorway.

"Until we see bottom inside the two sunkers, then straight through the channel to Toslow we'll go." Not many True Newfoundlanders left; a vanishing breed. Harold's one of 'em ... and three generations of Pius Power.

Placentia Bay.
As Lawrence says parenthetically in his essay, "(I don't expect anyone to agree with me.)"

Nonetheless I've taken several weeks trying to get this out somehow. There may be something in it, something useful even.

Refudiation: Can you see gentle reader? Any crumb of doubt whatsoever and the daemon skepticism is knockin' at the door like he owns the place! I'm prone cuz I'm alone. That's all it is. Oh sure, a week or so and the pieces re-sort themselves into a whole picture again, back to the 350 nexus and work it through, again, again, again ... but ...

[Space left intentionally blank.]        

... it's not so much fun alone all'a time.
There it is. All the old friends wash their hands of me and turn their backs; and every relative, sister, uncle, cousin, neice, nephew; even my kids. You'll think I'm exaggerating but it's true. I can almost not bear it. I never imagined such a situation could ... occur, come to pass; and more - I do not understand why, cannot comprehend it, can not make sense of it no matter how I try.

Resplendent Quetzal.Laerte: Fat old guy among the moon & stars.
The Resplendent Quetzal (national bird of Guatemala) is known for quickly perishing in cages; apparently intentionally killing itself when deprived of freedom. For this reason it's a symbol of liberty. (Thanks to the Daily Maverick.)
Uhuru!     Ελευθερία!
Deuteronomy: And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, this is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

("Nor his natural force abated," which is indeed the very thread, gentle reader, that leads from 'Lively Up Yourself' to away over here. Unlike Moses in all ways: these eyes really are dim; and any natural force there ever was is abated, exhausted, gone to embers decades ago. It's OK and all. No worries.

The Current State of Play: (as it appears to me)
1) The Last Gasp of Climate Change Liberals, Chris Hedges;
2) The Coming Climate Revolt, Chris Hedges, aka Radicals Revolt!;
                and a video of the entire panel discussion;
3) Video with Abby Martin on RT; and,
4) Damned Radicals!, a critique concluding that yeah, it's time for revolt.

Thanks again to Gordy for #1, and Gerry for #4.
A-and there's a book: 'Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt' by Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco from 2012. Not sure where it fits yet; possibly useful as background, dunno.

[The library comes through with a copy for me to read in just two days!]

Ah, but the big takeaway is "Joe Sacco is one of the world's greatest cartoonists." I am gobsmacked and humbled. It all has that well-recycled feeling with grime ground into the brightly coloured plastic. Oh well. Gerry says Chris Hedges is an idiot, fit only to inspire the likes of mindless Rising Tide mouth-breathers. We could all be idiots from what I've seen. I think I'll go watch 'Pierrot le Fou again before I ditch this computer.

Jean Luc Godard: Pierrot le Fou, 1965.
Laerte: O cavalo se sobe.
Power raised up my head.     Glory raised up my head.     Something raised up my head.   But what?

Tentative conclusions around intelligence & rational possibility:
"What's in a name?" asks Juliet.

H. sapiens ... Not!

Examining such springs and levers as some of the cognitive psychologists have uncovered (Antonio Damasio, George Lakoff, Daniel Kahneman) show up rational thought as a (mere) bagatelle. If there is any wisdom at all it's in first, original languages, requiring (as they do) at least two for the tango.

Just to be explicit (and to stress the point): Any intelligence, wisdom, spirit, any moving towards effective possibility, call it what you will, necessarily begins one-on-one with true speech.
Tentative program: (a virtuous loop)
a) "Severing ourselves from the dominant culture,"
b) "Build[ing] small, self-sustaining communities," and,
c) "Physically disrupting the corporate machinery."
Caveat:   (2nd refudiation)
Do not believe such foolishness. Don't even permit it to stand on the doorstep and knock. Nonsense from within terminal addiction to cigarettes & videos? From inside the inability to make any plan even for merely personal survival?

I'm sorry. (Of course I would say that.)
et cætera   et cætera   et cætera ... (as Yul Brynner says in 'The King and I')

Laerte: Ao nosso alcance / Within our grasp.
I don't know if anyone noticed                 Yeah, it really is.
but the moon is beautiful today.                                             Beauty is always there, within our grasp.

Maybe this short clip will help make sense of it: Jean Luc Godard, Pierrot le fou (conclusion): L'art et la mort. [YouTube has kiboshed this clip. Silly buggers. If you want to see it you'll have to get the movie somewhere. Sorry. They have it at the TPL if you happen to be in Toronto. The clip is the last two minutes of the film.] What she whispers is part of Arthur Rimbaud's 'L'éternité (the preceeding explosion being terminal dérèglement de tous les sens):

            Elle est retrouvée.
Quoi? — l'Éternité.
C'est la mer allée
Avec le soleil
 It has been found again.
What? — Eternity.
It's the sea run away
With the sun
A few words of exegesis (guidance), parameters if you will:

   • translation: There is no very good translation of the poem (that I can find). 'Nul orietur' f'rinstance. 'Orietur' might be somthing out of Isaiah (in Latin) maybe - orietur in tenebris lux / light will rise in the darkness - but all the translations carry it straight across. What's that about? Don't know? Don't care?


   • susurration: She is whispering. This is true to Rimbaud's 'murmurons l'aveu' (let us whisper the vow) in stanza two.


   • aphorism: These few lines - one stanza out of six - is often taken separately, alone; but there is no period at the end of it. Not the end of the sentence then.


   • provenance: Godard and Rimbaud may be genius but they are also both entirely nuts, cracked, insane. A-and purveyors of explicit self-indulgence - squared!


   • content: It could be a nursery rhyme. "The cow jumped over the moon." It may simply endure through bourgeois sentimentality, or ... Who knows? But yes, it has endured this far and probably for a while yet.


So ...

Mario & Betty.Ajak Deng.Shhhh.Shhhh.Oroma Elewa.Ajak Deng.Shhhh.

I'm still laffin'. I still
think it's funny as fuck
most of the time I can
see the humour in it.

Be well. :-)

Postscript (Sunday October 26 2014):   Naturally enough in the circumstances I eventually got around to reading Lawrence's 'The Plumed Serpent / Quetzalcoatl'. I don't know what he was up to unless he badly needed money, desperately. I'm just glad I used the library's copy. Poppycock! Poopy poppycock proving him a pretentious (and condescending) pillicock. A rule of thumb when one needs to prove a poetaster - provide an entrée and if their early remarks do not include a "well, yeah ..." then you've got a live one. 'Nuf said.
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