Monday, December 31, 2012

31 diciembre 2012

49ers in the playoffs
the Giants not
Miss Vee & other mysteries kept me awake
tea on the screen porch
in town a donkey brays
the waning moon

Ana tells me I’ll have my own two llamas on the trek

lozened over with silver twiste” [Barbara Guest, Quilts]: in the figure of a diamond or rhomb

rhomb[us]: a parallelogram with four equal sides

from Barbara Guest’s Quilts (1980):

Once you start looking at real
you see art everywhere

Gabrielle Calvocoressi [pic courtesy of We Represent the 47 Percent]

A Love Supreme

Breathless in the backwoods,
backlit by what joy could hold you,
I see you, naked as stripped wire

all coiled against the quarry man’s
hands. You dance the polecat dance,
I lay by the tires, unseen. I crawled

here, sniffing the ground for clues,
bloodhound, girl child rooting you out.
Get gone, you’d say. No way ma mère.

I love you like Elvis loved pistols,
stroking you in the television light,
the possibility of that music

better than all the stages in the world.
Girl, you keep rocking just like so
I’ll go down river and catch you a fish

with my dirty hands, no man
can contain the love I have for you
nor the rapt attention. Take my hand,

take my whole life too. I’ve slicked
my hair back, I’ve made myself
a boy for you.

A must read for language buffs, Joshua Foer's "Utopian for Beginners" in The New Yorker: Foer talks about artificial languages invented by Hildegard von Bingen (Lingua Ignota) through John Wilkins (a new universal language) to John Quijada (Ithkuil):

All families are happy in the same way, while being unhappy in their own way [Tolstoy, Anna Karenina]

the Australian Aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t use egocentric coördinates like “left,” “right,” “in front of,” or “behind.” Instead, speakers use only the cardinal directions. They don’t have left and right legs but north and south legs, which become east and west legs upon turning ninety degrees. . . .

Láadan, a feminist language developed in the early nineteen-eighties, includes words like radíidin, defined as a “non-holiday, a time allegedly a holiday but actually so much a burden because of work and preparations that it is a dreaded occasion; especially when there are too many guests and none of them help.”

Who knew that George Soros's first language was Esperanto?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

30 diciembre 2012

Four Times

I folded, measured, pinned, cut,
unpinned, folded, pinned, & sewed
cloth into sacks, stuffed them with foam
to make four steel-blue-gray chenille cushions:
36" x 13" x 2.5", two per bench, mouths 
open. By end of day, a thousand
or more invisible stitches,
I closed them.

when it is the writer’s unique set of fingerprints we are interested in, it will not matter what he picks up

from Oscar Wilde’s essay “The Critic as Artist” (1891):

By revealing to us the absolute mechanism of all action, and so freeing us from the self-imposed and trammelling burden of moral responsibility, the scientific principle of Heredity has become, as it were, the warrant for the contemplative life. It has shown us that we are never less free than when we try to act. . . . It is the only one of the Gods whose real name we know. . . . And so, it is not our own life that we live, but the lives of the dead, and the soul that dwells within us is no single spiritual entity, making us personal and individual created for our service, and entering into us for our joy. It is something that has dwelt in fearful places, and in ancient sepulchres has made its abode. It is sick with many maladies, and has memories of curious sins. It is wiser than we are, and its wisdom is bitter. It fills us with impossible desires, and makes us follow what we know we cannot gain. . . . [T]he imagination is the result of heredity. It is simply concentrated race-experience.

To give an accurate description of what has never occurred is not merely the proper occupation of the historian, but the inalienable privilege of any man of parts and culture.

autotelic: Describes an autonomous work whose meaning is not dependent upon something external to itself, nor intending to assess a contextual reality beyond itself; not didactic.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Argentina penult

US to send troops to Africa; US to monitor Latin American/Iran relationships; US to snoop on citizens any time any way they want. A UN report says Paraguay has lowest rates in health, education, & standards of living in South America — that is to say lower than the low it is here.

Six Innovators to Watch in 2013: I particularly like bio-tatts & Puzzlebox Orbit.

I am helping Miss Vee through the cat door, in/out, out/in, Push with your head, I tell her.

Paul Kingsnorth in Orion:

the reaction of most people when I tell them I’m a scythe teacher is the same: incredulity or amusement, or polite interest, usually overlaid onto a sense that this is something quaint and rather silly that doesn’t have much place in the modern world.

. . . And so I ask myself, what, at this moment in history, would not be a waste of my time? And I arrive at five tentative answers: 

One: Withdrawing. . . . Two: Preserving nonhuman life. . . . Three: Getting your hands dirty. . . . Four: Insisting that nature has a value beyond utility. . . . Five: Building refuges.

The excellence of the screen porch is too good to be true. More pix here.

Today I wash the screen porch floor & move furniture, I sew patches
on work jeans, I ride my bike with its new Slime tubes & Mr. Tuffys.

Mike cuts my hair, I pick zapallito & cucumbers, I take ibuprofen
for muscles cramped & aching from working outside, I give my body a rest.

from the Preface of Ford Madox Ford's Collected Poems:

Is there something about the mere framing of verse, the mere sound of it in the ear, that it must at once throw its practitioner or its devotee into an artificial frame of mind? . . . [M]ust it necessarily quicken them to the perception only of the sentimental, the false, the hackneyed aspects of life?

This afternoon I finished reading Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver: Volume 1 of The Baroque Cycle. A slow start, then a must finish, although at 927 pages it wasn't quick. I soon gave up trying to make sense of 17th century history — too many nobles, mostly related. The main characters — Daniel, Jack, Eliza, Enoch the Red, Leibniz, Hooke, Newton, Huygens, William of Orange, various nobles, etc. — & the presumably largely accurate period detail of alchemy, cities, countryside, courts, crime, cyphers, intrigue, medicine, punishment, sex, slavery, travel, war, etc. make the book. Yes, I expect I'll read Volume 2 . . . but not any time soon. Maybe my next long plane ride.

For the woman who was raped for an hour on a Delhi bus & subsequently died: may each of the men & the bus driver be executed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

imagine yourself here

photo courtesy of Adventure & Landscape

Kent & I are going trekking from January 5th through 8th in Jujuy province, Argentina with the Adventure & Landscape folks. Originally, we were to trek from Tilcara to Callilegua, high desert down to tropical rain forest, with donkeys & horses for pack animals, but no handlers could be found willing to risk their animals on the wet side during the present rainy season. The new plan is to trek with llamas for pack animals from Tilcara to Abra de Punta Corral.

Google satellite map of Tilcara (A) to Abra de Punta Corral (B)

I fitted myself out with kickass trekking equipment when I was in California this past month, & for the past two months, we've been trekking training in the mountains west of here & the Quebrada de las Conchas north of here. Kent & Roan are going on an overnight hike/camp this coming weekend, but since they didn't hire a pack animal for me, I can't go.

Poets & fans of edgy work, check out Tao Lin's I Livetweeted Getting Robbed & Watching The Hobbit Alone At 9:45PM In Manhattan On Christmas Eve.

every morning I head out to garden with the idea of working no more
than two hours — not exhausting myself — yet here I am again, exhausted

limping, too, I need a hike; maybe EmilyP would hike with me tomorrow
EmilyM & Jane are coming over today, each for half of a ripe watermelon

In his chapter titled "Problems About Objects," Louis Menand (see my 27 diciembre 2012 post) quotes Pater & Bergson on the topics of sensation, aka experience with duration, intuition, reflection, impressions, language, & image; also Eliot on the absolute.

from Walter Pater’s The Renaissance (1873):

At first sight experience seems to bury us under a flood of external objects, pressing upon us with a sharp and importunate reality, calling us out of ourselves in a thousand forms of action. But when reflexion begins to play upon those objects they are dissipated under its influence; the cohesive force seems suspended like some trick of magic; each object is loosed into a group of impressions — colour, odour, texture — in the mind of the observer. . . . Every one of those impressions is the impression of the individual in his isolation, each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world.

We instinctively tend to solidify our impressions in order to express them in language. Hence we confuse the feeling itself, which is in a perpetual state of becoming, with its permanent external object, and especially with the word which expresses this object. . . . Not only does language make us believe in the unchangeableness of our sensations, but it will sometimes deceive us as to the nature of the sensation felt. . . . In short, the word with well-defined outlines, the rough and ready word, which stores up the stable, common, and consequently impersonal element in the impressions of mankind, overwhelms or at least covers over the delicate and fugitive impressions of our individual consciousness. To maintain the struggle on equal terms, the latter ought to express themselves in precise words; but these words, as soon as they were formed, would turn against the sensation which gave birth to them, and, invented to show that the sensation is unstable, they would impose on it their own stability.

from Henri Bergson’s “Introductionà la métaphysique” (1903):

the image has at least this advantage, that it keeps us in the concrete. No image can replace the intuition of duration, but many diverse images, borrowed from very different orders of things, may, by the convergence of their action, direct consciousness to the precise point where there is a certain intuition to be seized.

from a T. S. Eliot article, "Leibniz' monads and Bradley's finite centres," in the Monist (1916):

The Absolute responds only to an imaginary demand of thought, and satisfies only an imaginary demand of feeling. Pretending to be something which makes finite centres cohere, it turns out to be merely the assertion that they do. And this assertion is only true so far as we here and now find it to be so.

Today our west-facing patio became a screened porch. More pix here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

27 diciembre 2012

early morning excitement: the sound of water; rain? no; flood? yes
acequia running? yes; overflowing? no; fountain? yes: pipe break
in the vineyard irrigation system; rapid response from management? no

maybe our olive trees will like it; certainly the weeds will

330 houses damaged by lemon-sized hail
70 people treated at hospitals
11 head wounds
one child sent to BA for treatment
5 people fell from roofs
80 tobacco farmers lost their crop

photo courtesy of El Tribuno Salta

Jane Kenyon’s Otherwise & Hayden Carruth’s Letters to Jane over cappuccino:
dark outsider ambushed by joy, gruff familiar bound to mitigate pain

the author of the fourth “Prelude” feels obliged to demonstrate his ineptitude . . . conceits become riddles . . . the rhyme scheme is disheveled; pronouns displace one another without any apparent narrative authorization. His first stanza is a syntactical cul-de-sac: it cannot seem to decide whether to become a sentence or not, and what looks like synecdoche — the feet, fingers, and eyes — turns out to be fragmentation, parts without wholes. The text itself becomes a sign for what nothing in the text can quite manage to signify: the trouble with the form is a trope for trouble with the emotion. The trouble with the emotion is that it cannot discover whether it is sincere, and not a hallucinatory four-o’clock-in-the-morning thought, because all the objects on which it seeks to ground itself threaten to turn into figures of speech. The trouble with the form is that without a figure of speech to give the objects a grammatical field in which to play, no emotion will be recognizable. It is the problem posed by a poetic that has declared what is merely literary to be illegitimate: where everything must be genuine, everything will end up looking artificial.

Over the past two days Mike has painted the south-facing,western-patio-facing wall of the parilla the same glorious green color (Verde que te quiero verde) as the garden walls. 

the photo does not do justice to the verde

When Mike removed the firewood underneath the parilla grill, he found sixteen toads — sapos — waiting out the heat of the day & tossed them all into the garden to find new hiding spots while he painted.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

26 diciembre 2012

lemon-sized hail destroys 85 houses in Salta: cement/asbestos roofs
cattle industry stages a one-day strike, bankers to strike at noon

what’s a strike during the last week of December when no one works anyway?

Her mother in a hospital bed scares her
(from a yard away she stares at 
the angle articulated, her mother taped & tubed
spotting the plush monkey, she says, For me?
watches the nurse ask about her
mother's pain, sits on the bed beside her mother's sheet-
draped knee, is petted, stroked, soothed
says, after 15 minutes, Go home now, so we went)

Barbara Guest [photo by Judy Dater]

Today the children lived in syllables pushing rafts
pushing themselves, the clime of heads on them the sun . . .

Loss gropes toward its vase. Etching the way.
Driving horses around the Etruscan rim . . .

Time calls hoarsely for sorbets and gestures
of sparrow . . .

throat against darkness, we say a nose
examines with dignity, gives thrust
the painter uses the nose like a trowel . . .

I thought of the white poem I had written whose face
might even now be speckled with dust, and the white pen
used to which I attached the poem’s name, “The White Pen.”
Surely among the belongings in the kit where the shoe polish
was kept there might be my “White Pen” with cream in its
nostrils . . .

Hatching away in her nuttery . . .

morning finally announced itself in the shape of over-
head spinning and clumping she resolved to go into
Zurich even if it meant encountering slipshod vowels all
the way . . .

The road branched and ricocheted. The noise of pebbles
pinched her ears.

Birds sing difficult
songs no other birds can sing. The spindle
whirls and gossamer appears. Faces stare . . .

Let that embrace last on the rim of the inkstand . . .

the homespun
logic of our twosomeness, a fabric time
will displace the threads, a shrivel here,
there a stain, the rotting commences like lanes
of traffic hurtling into air as the sun comes down . . .

Seeking the chute or drifting
these rafts hourless in the breathing
admire the quarter hour
brave sofas surround . . .

A child entered the room
wearing a clock costume . . .

"In the flashes of identity between subject and object lie the nature of genius. And any attempt to codify such flashes is but an academic pastime." [Jules Laforgue]

Roan stained, Mike painted, I weeded; Jane & Kent returned the plastic
chairs on their way to pay tickets received 11 months post-infraction

for proof, photos of his truck entering & leaving a zona urbana at 100+ kph
how many more might be pending; half-price if paid within 5 days

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

25 diciembre 2012

septation: the division or partitioning of a cavity into parts by a septum

the watermelon Mike noticed starting to split is now cracked open
in our kitchen, sweet juicy chunks in our mouths, seeds spit in the sink

working outside the wall, Mike pruned broom while I weeded the rock
pile, the east border, between trips to the kitchen to stir the squash

a roast of squashes: yellow, spaghetti, zucchini; a curried soup of onion,
collards, potato, sage, & squashes: spaghetti, zapallito aka Pilar

the last palán palán has been uprooted & trashed — no more
weedy seedlings — as well as three thorn trees, victims of winter cold

today I received a ripe watermelon, an acorn plus two spaghetti squash
also four white cactus flowers, a peeled-back fingernail, & a shave

yesterday we saw a worm sewing itself up in a twig cocoon

I don’t care
what figureheads have to say
on Christmas day

the teru-terus kept Miss Vee from their chick this morning, might be
doing it again — Miss Vee! Stop! — I run barefoot — You leave that chick
alone! Ow! Ow! — I grab her — hot gravel! Ow! Ow! — I hand Mike
Miss Vee, hotfoot it inside where Mike pulls thorns from my soles

revers [BGuest writes reveres]: a lapel on a woman's garment; turned back to show the reverse side — only a woman’s?

the shrieking resumes
it’s fox against chick
yes, I can grab the cat
but never a fox

from Barbara Guest’s The Countess from Minneapolis:

She tore into the curl papers as she would attack a silo, knowing she had rendered them useless as the silo wrestled from its usefulness would in turn relinquish the fortune that yet sustained her.

over dust-filled air from fierce winds dark clouds swell in the west:
except for an owl spiraling up from its burrow, the birds are down

Monday, December 24, 2012

foxes & weeds

US Senator Crapo arrested on DUI
Oh my God, he forgot he was a Mormon

Gallup reports the 8 out of 10 countries with most positive emotions:
Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica
is it the weather/drug combo?

clove oil at my wrists, a drop of DigestZen oil in my water  — anise!

head out to weed east & south
particularly berries, but a few weeds east of the acequia distract me
as did more around the willow
my body decides to work around the house, what I see most
so I prune & dig mint, deadhead coreopsis —
the dead stems & flowers ruin the garden
dead & dying matter underneath the plants
likely coreopsis can’t stay beautiful in constant dry heat

a blog of what passes through me
everything I would have fb’d or journaled
today titled Way

why not buy a car in Paraguay
sell our limited-to-driving-in-Argentina car
drive anywhere we want
every one of South America’s thirteen countries
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile,
Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana
Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, & Venezuela

it can’t be that simple
Argentina will have a law against it

Argentine political analyst Joaquin Morales Solá says:

the speech full of resentment and the policy of confrontation
so ingrained in the national and popular government
have erased any border between good and evil

the subsidies policy without any matching efforts in education or work
resentment from vandals against those who “have” something or very much
the property of somebody else is a right of those living in the margins

the prevailing social doctrine which says anyone can do whatever they wish . . .
because “the ‘have not’ are in their right to take from the ‘haves’

there is a judicial thinking, currently predominant,
which simply wants to abolish the Criminal Code

foxes here are in poor health
shortly after 14:00 on this hot afternoon
this fox drinks from the pond

wanders west

stops for a lick

before disappearing into the vineyard

suddenly a solution

first you see coreopsis

then you don’t

end of problem