A Modest Halloween Proposal

It sometimes seems clear if there is an afterlife it does not interfere with present life. But what is present? The light from our sun is already a little over eight seconds old. We sunbathe in the past, confident in a present we never quite seem to fully inhabit (physics explains it’s perfectly possible toContinue reading “A Modest Halloween Proposal”

Ode to Joy

Old monk drunk walk garden olive way moon path nude blue light strain powder pouring bare feet stains red muscatel. On his rock sits Jesus eyes clear tell him of your life sans joy brave Brother Anhidonus oh fun monk too but without joy. Hung over herbs your Jesus praying not an only child wasContinue reading “Ode to Joy”

On Boredom

Today we gaze into the Abyss of Ennui. What is boredom? “Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of joy weeps”: In “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” Blake understood the Abyss, and sought to correct our assumptions and expectations. “The busy bee has no time for sorrow,” Blake said. But commuting home through an hour ofContinue reading “On Boredom”

Notes on the Difficulty of Reading a New Poem

What happens when we encounter a new poem? New poems can seem impenetrable. But maybe the idea is not to penetrate. If the poem is new, the reading experience is also new, unfamiliar, foreign to our eyes and ears, to our sensibilities. What happens when we read a poem? In the darkroom, the developer slidesContinue reading “Notes on the Difficulty of Reading a New Poem”

p-1: The Evil Hill on Mariposa

If print does disappear, I will be only partially responsible. I’m doing my part to keep a few print publications healthy. But I can’t subscribe to everything. The question is always the same: what to read and how. A loyal subscriber to The Believer, alas, my subscription has lapsed, and just prior to the 2013Continue reading “p-1: The Evil Hill on Mariposa”

Where the Palace of Wisdom is Loaded with Vice

John Lancaster’s review of The Road of Excess, Marcus Boon’s book on writing under the influence, appeared in the January 6, 2003 New Yorker, and the review provides an effective, short introduction into drug use in writing as well as the journalistic impulse to too easily categorize, stereotype, and generalize. Associating addictions with occupations simplyContinue reading “Where the Palace of Wisdom is Loaded with Vice”

When Reading Was Everything

Alfred Kazin’s Writing Was Everything is about 20th century US reading. The book could have been titled Reading Was Everything. It’s the text of Kazin’s 1994 Massey Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard. There are four sections, a short prologue, “All Critics Are Mortal,” and three chapters: “Before the War,” “During the War,”Continue reading “When Reading Was Everything”

Where Listening Gives Rise to Silence and Fizzles

There lived in our neighborhood some time ago a locally famous pianist who enjoyed great demand for piano lessons from parents for their children. The demand was such that a prospective student had to interview with the teacher. One of the interview “questions” involved listening to chords: the child identified a chord as “happy” orContinue reading “Where Listening Gives Rise to Silence and Fizzles”

The Sick Roses of Suburbia and the Epiphany of a Picture

I knew the Oregonian “Metro” columnist Steve Duin lives not in Portland but Lake Oswego, but was unaware the writer from this banana belt suburb, protected from Portland’s East Winds, would feel protected from precinct prowling. I enjoy his columns, something I’ll miss when newspapers disappear, for the daily columnist is today’s “…voice of theContinue reading “The Sick Roses of Suburbia and the Epiphany of a Picture”

Bio-Lego-Land: Building a Better Body thru Metaphor

In the September 28, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, we meet synthetic bio-Lego-boys Drew Endy and Rob Carlson: “Some of my best work has come together in my mind’s eye accompanied by what I swear was an audible click, ” Carlson tells New Yorker’s Michael Specter, who says Endy has never forgotten “…the secretContinue reading “Bio-Lego-Land: Building a Better Body thru Metaphor”