Friday, March 13, 2015


It's Friday the thirteenth again.
Can't go on like this: it can't and I can't neither.
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Laerte: Este é o strip mais estranho que já fiz. / This is the strangest strip I've ever done.
Laerte: Este é o strip mais estranho que já fiz. / This is the strangest strip I've ever done.

        The other book she read and reread, repeatedly, was John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. She felt in her bones the crippling burden born by the Man mired in the Slough of Despond, she followed his travels through wilderness and the Valley of the Shadow, his encounters with Giant Despair and the fiend Apollyon. Bunyan’s tale had a clear message and meaning. Not so, Asgard and the Gods. That book was an account of a mystery, of how a world came together, was filled with magical and powerful beings, and then came to an end. A real End. The end.
A.S. Byatt 'Ragnarök', excerpt from chapter 2.
This is exactly where (at the third reading) I finally see exactly how I've gone wrong. As is usual with epiphanies (if our Northrop is any example) it will be longer in the telling.

I didn't see it when Paul told me in the 70s, and I went along and went along with ol' Foxy Loxy as long as I could possibly do so. Even when the horrendous (and probably inevitable) truth of it became too clear to deny I tried to just walk away - into rejection (some of it imagined) solitude and lonliness as it turns out, enervation, despair, beyond despair, desperation ... using up most of the good capital (stamina & humour) my father left to me.

To here: where I (finally) see that I might have done differently - and without compromising either vision or integrity. Oh my!

Oh well.

Wiley Miller: Principles.
Temple of Quetzalcoatl, Teotihuacan, Feathered Serpent.Temple of Quetzalcoatl, Teotihuacan, Feathered Serpent.Temple of Quetzalcoatl, Teotihuacan, Feathered Serpent.

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Please don't be fooled or misled ('mɪsled' - with a long 'i' and the stress on the first syll-able - as Anita used to say it) by these bits of scripture. It's just counterpoint. Like Lennie's "I wonder what they meant?"

I won't play your 'what if?' game.
Ah, but I'm playing for keeps.
"Faith of our fathers holy faith, we shall be true to thee till death." To which saccharine sentiment I respond, "And will you have Crise de foi with your Crise de foie (gras)?"

They say the universe is expanding. This little part of it, not. They say the sun will explode in some billions of years anyway - so what difference?

Nothing to lose though, or nothing more; light & easy, easy breezy. "There will be nothing to lose till you lose your heart," as it goes in the old tune (which I will try to find later, if I remember).

I get up onto a streetcar behind an old man who has pissed himself. It's a moment I can't forget.

Peer Gynt outwits the button-moulder ... alas, I am not so clever.

I think of 'Perennial Philosophy' as the Golden Rule. Turns out there is a marginal connection between them but the main 'thrust' of the Perennial seems to be any old kind of woo-woo mysticism. OK then, (maybe) I stand corrected on that (and maybe not).

It's the Golden Rule that appears again and again and after all and essentially unchanged regardless of formulation, while each iteration of the woo-woo is 'so' unique.

Ranier Ehrt: Prussian Roulette.Ranier Ehrt: Complacency.

Laerte: Eu não estou gritando. / I'm not shouting.
Why don't you put    Why don't you put     Why don't you put    Why don't you put   Who are you
your memories         your metaphors         your jaws                your molecules        really?
on paper?                on the clothesline?     in the barrel?           in a credit rating?    I'm not shouting!

At first it seemed like a good idea to include these two stories in their entirety within the post - but the links are probably dependable enough for now:

            Entropy by Thomas Pynchon, 1960 (5,400 words); and,
            Sea Story by A.S. Byatt, 2013 (2,200 words).

Both authors are now in their late 70s - Byatt born in 1936 and Pynchon in 1937 - and this is about all there is in the way of similarity beyond arrogant intellectual pretentiousness. Both have sufficiently displayed their ample feet of clay over the years. Neither is fit for a following of devotees even if it is true that Pynchon's strangeness has attracted a bit of a cult. The Pynchon link includes the author's opinion of the story - he doesn't like it (and this could be a strong recommendation). The publication dates alone should be enough to show that the stories come out of very different times and spaces. In many ways these writers are no more than somewhat senior versions of Malcolm Gladwell augmented with luck and competence.

So then, suppose you just read the two stories in stand-alone mode? As far as that's possible what with the scientific, literary & musical references in 'Entropy'; and supposing you know already that Perrier bottles are no longer made of glass; and then meditate, consider, wonder ... how their bones (as it were) might shed any light (or even seem to shed any light) for a fat, stupid, soon to be homeless old man who has just realized he took the wrong turnings.

And I write sincerely hoping that such wondering may be useful to someone.

In the spring of 2010 I am still talking with one of my sisters and she asks me what I'm thinking. So I point at the latest blog post (March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb) and she actually goes away and reads it, all of it including the stories. Imagine! Then comes an email asking what it's about. I answer (something like this - all the emails have been subsequently lost): "It's Easter time, seems right to be thinking about rebirth, regeneration; about the Phoenix, Simorgh, Simurgh, Samandar ...; about Bamyan, Bamiyan, Bamian ... and the destroyed Buddhas there; and about 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' (the covers of some editions include Lawrence's drawing of a Phoenix).

And that's where the conversation stops. I don't get around to really thinking about Quetzalcoatl for several more years (despite Bob Weston's gift of his Quetzalcoatl belt buckle four decades previous) - nor to the serious doubts about Lawrence's motivations springing from a reading of 'The Plumed Serpent'. I'm sure there's no connection between the stoppage and the ... stoppage.

Stanley Kubrick: 2001-A Space Odyssey, 1968, conclusion.
        There before him, a glittering toy no Star-Child could resist, floated the planet Earth with all its peoples.
        He had returned in time. Down there on that crowded globe, the alarms would be flashing across the radar screens, the great tracking telescopes would be searching the skies - and history as men knew it would be drawing to a close.
        A thousand miles below, he became aware that a slumbering cargo of death had awoken, and was stirring sluggishly in its orbit. The feeble energies it contained were no possible menace to him; but he preferred a cleaner sky. He put forth his will, and the circling megatons flowered in a silent detonation that brought a brief, false dawn to half the sleeping globe. Then he waited, marshaling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next.

But he would think of something.

Stanley Kubrick: 2001-A Space Odyssey, 1968, concluding chapter 47 - Star-Child.
[The obvious symmetries are not always best. The character in the book & film is Dave f'rinstance, and my name is David. Easy to imagine a certain ... putting on of airs. And you, gentle reader, can have it any way you like.   ;-)   I do think that Arthur Clarke had very very little to do with it.]

Joep Bertrams (edited with apologies for k-k-Canada): De grote mars / The long march.Do lemmings put their head up their ass on the way to the cliff edge I wonder? Obediently following the official instructions on what to do in the event of an air crash or nuclear explosion?

Don't mind me. I'm probably one of those poor sods with Dunning–Kruger syndrome. (Though if you read their paper you may suspect - as I do - that it don't wash.)

Be that as it may, John Cleese's rant is worth the minute it takes to watch ('cept he don't include American Senators among the heavy abusers); and Garrison Keillor's somewhat subtler Prairie Home Companion skit is a good'un too.

This year's Canadian Year of the Ram stamps make me think of the 2003 sphinx, Canadian version, made of snow, and none of them are anything like a ram at all.

Graffiti: Words do not mean anything today.Canadian Stamp 2015: Ram / Bel / iér.Canadian Stamp 2015: Ram / Bel / iér.

Canadian Stamp 2003: Year of the Ram.You may think it strange that the Green Party logo is there on that sign with the others. OK, do this: read The Green Party of Canada's platform, in brief or in (100 page .pdf) detail and then show me how it is sufficient to avert the unfolding environmental catastrophe.

I get a different message from Elizabeth May herself - see here.

I have been following up in my riding (Beaches-East York) and will report again soon. (Several days of effort so far and no clues yet.)
Adão Iturrusgarai: How to turn a junkie into an ecologist:
Adão Iturrusgarai: How to turn a junkie into an ecologist.
Trash talk that we're         Without water you can't            Coca plants and             Defend the Planet!
running out of water.         make beer and whisky ...          poppies die ...                Save Water!

Laerte: The end of narcissism.
I'm surrounded by idiots.   Outside of them there's     Next there's a great         I provide light and heat
                                        a circle of imbeciles.         wheel of cretins.            for the whole system.

[This last one's included just to show that even Laerte can be the victim of her own psychology (not all of which she is necessarily the cause of though responsible for) combined with inappropriate rhetorical follow-through. She's a tennis player perhaps.]

Sometimes the uncertainty descends so heavily, all personality, identity dissolves. Black terror one  :-)would do anything to escape except one has no idea what the 'anything' might be ...

... and then ... it passes.

Just listen (even if it chokes you) to Chris Hedges talking with Abby Martin and then show me how to realistically walk around what they're saying.


A 2009 interview with A.S. Byatt in which she says of herself:
I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It's the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things.

I, who I am, is the person that has the project of making a thing. Well, that's putting it pompously - but constructing. I do see it in sort of three-dimensional structures. And because that person does that all the time, that person is able to love all these people.

Two poems from 'Parasites of Heaven', Leonard Cohen, 1966. I buy the book in one of the bookstores on the south side of Sherbrooke Street opposite McGill and read it in the Mansfield Tavern that used to be on the Sherbrooke corner. It's sunny and cold that day I think. 1966.

In the very next pidgeon-hole over is the title poem from 'Bring Forth the Cowards', Pierre Coupey, 1964. I always want to say "Call forth the cowards". I went to some trouble a few years ago and got the book from the stacks in the Toronto Public Reference Library and photocopied the poem and then transcribed it incorrectly (the scanner software choked I think and I didn't check it well enough) into a blog post somewhere ... here it is.

Some silly thing. I had decided to get copies of all of Dudek's McGill Poetry Series or something like that. I might have bought several of them that day. My library then was kept in a lovely oak bookshelf with glass doors that my mother got for me when we moved to Montreal from Toronto - in 1960 or so. I remember her buying it for me. It was expensive, even second hand, but she didn't hesitate.

All gone now: bookcase, books, mother, even memories; and yet these few poems remain, grains of sand in the flesh of an oyster that have never become pearls. Haveta laff.
So you're the kind of vegetarian   
that only eats roses
Is that what you mean
with your Beautiful Losers
Gretel & Hansel.
The nightmares do not suddenly
develop happy endings
            I merely step out of them
as a five year old scientist
leaves the room
where he has dissected an alarm clock

Love wears out
like overused mirrors unsilvering
            and parts of your faces
make room for the wall behind
If terror needs my round green eyes
for a masterpiece
            let it lure them with nude key-holes
mounted on an egg

And should Love decide
I am not the one
            to stand scratching his head
wondering what wall to lean on
            send King Farouk to argue
or come to me dressed as a fast
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