Monday, January 31, 2005

Good letter.

Is there anything about a cuisine its condiments can't tell you? I'm being a little hyperbolic, but in a real way, what is there to know about Chinese cooking that can't be inferred from black bean sauce? About Jewish cooking that can't be known from schmaltz? Vietnamese from nuac mam? What about German from mustard?

I picked up a bottle of sambal and it is absolutely mindblowing. Very simple, sweet and sour, but so different from anything I've ever tasted (this is "ABC" brand "hot and sweet chilli sauce" "sambal manis pedas"). So Indonesian cuisine, I'm very curious about you now.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I'm sorry for the low frequency of my postings recently. When it's this cold, I don't have much energy for anything other than the essentials, like digestion and playing Uno. But I'm coming out of it, which is good, because I'm going into the city tomorrow for a 'master class' with Eavan Boland, a one-time thing through the 92nd St. Y. I hope I have the stamina for 3 hours of discussion &c, I think I will. I'm pretty sure I will, actually, because I'm looking forward to it. I don't know much about Ms. Boland's work at all beyond the occasional run-in, but I heard her read at a Sylvia Plath event at the New York Public Library in 97 or 98, along with Jorie Graham, Sharon Olds, and one other person I'm forgetting, and her reading was by far the most intelligent and considered. Jorie Graham kind of hyperventilated, actually, though it was still interesting to hear her intonations of what she read (for what it's worth, I don't consider her an Ashbery-lite, she has manifested her own poetic sensibility, at least I think. She stretches perception very differently than he, I think, and with different purpose, also with different confidence in mind).

Little thought for today (which is to say, this is the only one I've had(so far)): practice generates conviction; conviction orders practice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I should be picking up the new meditation newsletter from the printer in the next day or so. If anyone's interested in a sample, I'll send you one if you like. I know it's kind of an oxymoron--'meditation' 'newsletter', but community can form around anything, even a solitary practice. Imagine that.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. I was thinking about poetry and community. The discussion which flares up or down but never goes away. What purpose does community serve for us poets? I think one glanced-at quality community serves is to keep where your thoughts go communicable to others. It's a great ideal to want to peel of from humanity and develop one's own poetic, one's own language--to explore one's genius in a place completely alone. But the story usually ends with communal discovery and integration of what that hermit learned/did. The story ends that way, but for every Dickinson there's got to be hundreds who don't get discovered. The danger is probably greater for poets than for fiction writers. If you lose track of where fashion is at, you lose track of an important trajectory. So I think cultivating associations with like-minded poets serves to a) keep others appraised of why you do what you do, and b) reins in any growth which will simply not fit with what poetry 'is'. That is, keep you from looking not necessarily mad, but merely silly. It can happen, you know. And this function isn't necessarily a bad thing, we are communal creatures, though the great fear of decadence is a worthy one. That is, the system will always involve juice-pulling, but when that becomes the/a dominant definer of heirarchy, which I think from what I've seen it does pretty quickly, it's time to set up a new system. So maybe our social tolerance for avoiding the impulse of juice-pulling is what decides when certain poetics become exhausted, and not any internal reality inherent in said poetic being played out.

That said, community is such a fluid word, it means different things at different moments, and can run downhill in so many different ways, that the fact that it runs downhill is only one fact among many.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Jonah likes to make sculptures with his legos. He also likes to make spaceships and robots. When he makes a spaceship, he says "I made a spaceship." When he makes robots, he says "I made a robot." and when he makes sculptures, he says, "I made a sculpture." If you ask him what it is; is it a sculpture of a robot, or a dog, or a gallamimus, he says "It's a sculpture." You know, how 5-year-olds enunciate when you're being an idiot.

So tell me again how the most 'natural' art form is naturalistic representation? (I think 'naturalistic representation' is not the descriptor I mean to say, but I'm drawing a blank. I mean realism, like, accurate representation of something which existed in the world prior to the sculpture.)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Update on the reading: is that I won't be there, barred by the inclement weather. Bad weather!

(Sigh. Sometimes, I do feel a little like Charlie Brown.)

If you go anyway, please let me know how wonderful the other readers were. From what I remember, the city slows down for such snowfall, but doesn't stop moving, so I think it might still be on.

Bud Parr, of Chekhov's Mistress, has told me the reading tomorrow is listed in Time Out New York (yay!) as occurring on Friday (boo!). In case any one has gone to the Ear Inn today, become disappointed (literally), and then googled around to see what was up, and ended up here: the reading is 3 pm tomorrow, Saturday. Just around when the snow starts accumulating, I think. So it'll be cozy.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Just opened "The Lover of God" by Tagore, and having turned from the latest from Mike Snyder, regarding the paucity of common sense among us these poets, read this sentence: ". . . the language, Brajabuli, a long-dead literary dialect of Bengali reserved for the exclusive use of Vaisnava poets. . . . Today many schoolchildren know these songs by heart and delight in their recitation." Now, this strikes me as remarkable, that in Bengal there was a whole dialect exclusively for poets to write in. Can you imagine? That means there were different words, different sounds, different syntactic logics one could use (and integrate with what was more common, I'm assuming, since it was a dialect, not a language). So when Jonathan Mayhew asks this morning "What was the literacy rate in Heian Japan?", I'm inclined to agree with his drift, and think that Mike is asking more of the socio-economic environment that we live in than it wants to give, to like poetry more than it does. I don't think there's much more market for poetry, as things (and the people who embody these 'things') are structured, than exists. I also don't think accomodating an indifferent populace is a formula for success, for poets, either. Wordsworth wouldn't think so, either: he suggested a poet listen to the common language, not the demands of those speaking it. That is, listen for what it is, not for what it is saying it is. If you see what I mean.

Back to my point, entirely contrary Wordsworth: integrating the idea of a separate (and respected!) dialect for poets to use with what is now our poetic 'moment' (though I think that I would still say it is a 'moments', not a 'moment') perhaps the struggle, longterm, will lead to the development of a new separate dialect for poets to use, and that, contra Mike's lamenting this, this will be a motion which has great benefit for the development of the American poetic idiom. It's easy to see how those vocabularies of syntax being elaborated on now (collage, mostly, I suppose) could develop into their own assumed and conventional sub-language (meta-language?) of English. Perhaps our society needs a scold, and every society permutates the human essentials in its own way: and ours, for balance with the long-term and rapacious developments of capitalism, may be moving towards a fusing of the vatic and the critical: and this too would be fundamentally biblical (though I think the power-balance comparison is ironic the way comparing Leopold Bloom to Ulysses is ironic), the ancient Hebrew prophets also were holy scolds. And as the USA (purportedly: though maybe we'll get lucky and extend our expensive experiment: who knows where we'll find new resources to exploit?) moves into a more socially stratified phase, perhaps the zeitgeist is no longer with the democratic manifestation of everyman Whitman; that such a personification is too vulnerable?

Just a musing. And look, if you think I'm writing some kind of dystopian (yeah, I don't think caste systems enforced by language are any sort of ideal to aspire to, though I'm sure there's great aesthetic beauty potentially there to be created) fantasy, look at the factors that contribute to our current situation yourself and with our past in mind (both human and national) draw your own conclusions. But if you try for the big picture, you can avoid being merely reactive in your assessment, is my drift.

Monday, January 17, 2005

On another note, has anyone seen this sale from Dalkey Archive Press yet? Steep entry price, but lots for it.

I haven't had much to say lately. It's not so much that I've run out of things to say as that I've run out of say for them.

In 1996, Dara & I took a vacation to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula with her parents. On a wildlife/glacier watching boat, one half-day, we saw a humpback and her calf breach; we saw an orca carcass and the thousand seagulls on it eating it. Towards the end, we rode up a fjord to get close to a glacier's front. Every once and a while, you'd hear a large crack and a piece of the glacier--an iceberg, really--would calve off. Around 1/2 of a mile away, we heard a crack, took a picture, we were close enough to see small variations and ridges on the calving iceberg, and the cracking just didn't stop, the entire face of the glacier calved off, and sent a huge swell--30 to 40 feet, higher than the boat deck, easily--our way. The captain told everyone to get belowdeck, and turned prow into the swell quickly enough. The feeling of watching that swell approach was wordless. Not exhilarating, not frightening, awesome in a participatory way, in that space between awesome and awful which is the same. We didn't go belowdeck, of course, and the riding feeling of it lifting us and passing beneath us was awesome too.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Heartbreaking article on Hayao Miyazaki in the New Yorker this week. Print only, though there's an online interview with the author, which detail strikes me as byzantine. Interesting in that New Yorker way, though.

What else will we have to do to fight evil? Think we'll find out?

Hope not.

Friday, January 07, 2005

And that's Dara reading one of her favorite poems of mine, "Pear Trees."

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Well, that's an audioblog post from me, last post. I'm a little tired, tonite, so my voice may be more scratchy-nosed than even usual, but there it is. My voice.

I'll be reading in the Ear Inn reading series on January 22, 3:00 pm, 326 Spring Street. My last reading was two (!) years ago. It may be another two years after this, though I hope not. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it. If you're interested, please come. &, the other two readers look very interesting, so.

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Slate has a slideshow essay on Isamu Noguchi here, today: the pieces are astonishing (ha!), lovely. Have you ever seen his untitled sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum, in the Japanese section? It's the large rock with a pool of water which runs over it's smooth top and trickles into a pebbly floor; recirculating, one assumes, up again. It is one of my all-time favorite objects in the universe to be around. I used to go visit it regularly when I lived in New York.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Eduardo asks for notebook pages, so here, I've taken one from a few months ago. Easier (though grimmer, too) than organizing the thoughts I have about the Blaser essay from Poker 5. That'll come eventually, anyway.

Yeesh, here comes the paste. Forgive me that not only it is not Adagia, but that it is mundane:

my grandfather was a well-, widely-loved man and if his spirit ever wants to visit earth, there are many places he would be welcome.

smudge of mud.

the sound of grief choking on itself


you can’t control everything, and you can’t expect people to be different than they are.

This depth all breakers.

The place of great stillness
keeps moving
hungry for it
I run

In light of this, one way of describing qigong seems to me that we know everything but don’t have enough energy to realize it. Qigong attempts to know you not with reason and logic (Socrates) but with energy.

Verfrumdung—making the familiar unfamiliar in order to shock the audience into taking control of their perceptions.

Titus Andronicus, A Closet Drama

I’ve never heard it mentioned that one of the mechanisms (the kernel of magic, where opposites are harmonized) of the Kore myth is that she, unable to resist her hunger, is the goddess of bearing-forth and plenty.

The human body is a cage capable of taking whatever shape (possibility) wants.

she looks into the mirror to see how she feels

titles: Let it Go; Red Cedar; Eastern Juniper; “The Rigid Pallor of an Apoplexy That Fixes its Own Distortions” (from Moby-Dick)

I ask for quiet
like a man asks for quiet
listening for the making
of the tracks he sees at his feet

I was given myself to worship the world through

in that man maketh, he is as a piece of tin foil upon the great sea

to channel means you write down what happened, and what happened is that you wrote down.

the motion of breath is the motion of tide, not surf—breath’s soul is, that is, tidal, not surflike.

I find first books the most serious, often. Then again, I’m the guy whose favorite movie for several years was Batman Returns. I cried each time I watched it—the holocaust imagery, and the deft portrayal if the gaudy idiocy fascists play out as drama on the world—just right. So maybe I have a weakness for what others see as weakness, the tendency to earnest dramatization of internal, socially-written, states, which could maybe be said to be a trait—self-importance—first books generally share.

That is, the mechanics of poetry aren’t so mechanical.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Great dinosaur comic today.

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