Tuesday, May 31, 2005

in the bali of the beast

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, there are 155 Australians in overseas jails on drug charges. Most are being held in in South-East Asian countries, most of which allow the death penalty. Two Australians are on death row in Vietnam.

The most recent bust involved nine people being caught in Bali attempting to bring heroin into Australia. Eight alleged mules, one organiser. Four of the mules were arrested at the airport with several kilos strapped to their bodies, the other four in a hotel room where the strapping took place. Some outrage in Australia, mainly from those concerned with civil liberties, primarily because it was a joint Australian-Indonesian police operation which could just as easily been brought to a head by arresting the mules as they entered Australia. But there is no death penalty in Australia. Instead, the Australian Federal Police allowed the arrest to take place in Bali, fully aware that at least those carrying the drugs will probably be executed.

Aside from that there is little sympathy. These are unattractive people.

But the headlines of the last couple of months have been about an Australian woman, Schapelle Corby, in her twenties, photogenic, busted coming into Bali's Denpasar Airport last October with 4.1 kilos of marijuana in her boogie board bag. She proclaimed her innocence, saying the dope had not been there when she left the Gold Coast. Theories abounded, the one with the most currency being that baggage handlers were routinely smuggling dope around Australia in passengers' luggage, & this transshipment had somehow gone astray. This theory was given some credibility when (a) a passenger on a plane looked out the window before take-off to see a baggage-handler driving across the tarmac wearing a camel suit, not something you would miss, taken out of the luggage that the passenger had checked in some time before & (b) a baggage handler was busted in Sydney for smuggling 10 kilos of coke out of Sydney airport that had come in on an overseas flight.

Little activity in the media for about four months. The story really starts when a "Gold Coast entrepreneur" offered to pay her defence costs & arranged for a legal team to be assembled. An aside here. "Gold Coast entrepreneur" is almost a tautology. The life cycle for most entrepreneurs in Australia is: get rich quick with other people's money / go bankrupt owing millions / get convicted of fraud or theft. Yet they have a certain cachet about them, even if those who operate on the Gold Coast could more properly be regarded as carpetbaggers & the others little more than white-collar criminals who always seem to have sufficient money left over to ensure both the best legal representation & the least possible prison time.

It now transpires that this one was possibly bankrupt before he offered to pay the legal fees. No matter. At the time he came across like a white knight, proclaiming the innocence of the accused, offering to pay whatever it would cost to prove it. The momentum started picking up. TV crews & journalists began to arrive. Bali's jails seem exposed to the world; prisoners can talk through the bars to reporters, the arrival at court is almost like an arranged photo opportunity, prisoner & guards stopping to have pictures taken, to talk to the crush. Seeking the death penalty was mooted by the prosecution, then dropped in favour of a life sentence.

As the trial proceeded, the media attention became more intense. As well it might. One of the tv networks had contracted the defendant for $500,000 for exclusive rights to her story, a print subsidiary a further $250,000. The others were fighting over the crumbs & what was available in the public arena. Plus all the elements of high drama were there. The prosecutor boasted of never having lost even one of the hundreds of drug cases he had tried, the Defense lawyer had never handled one before. Someone on remand in Australia came forward to say that he had overheard two fellow remandees laughing about how one of (baggage handler) X's drug shipments had gone astray & had ended up in Bali. He of the hearsay evidence was flown to Bali, tidied up & appeared as a witness. The defendant collapsed in court under the stress, or was too ill to attend. On the final day of the hearings a fax, prepared by the Australia Foreign Ministry under public pressure, & outlining the airport drug-smuggling allegations, was tendered. Throughout it all, the judges sat impassive, like the Fates.

& underlining it all, underpinning the antagonism towards the Indonesian justice system, the doubt it could ever deliver a just result, was the recent memory of the quashing of the convictions of several of the Bali bombers. They had been been tried for charges based on laws hurriedly brought in after the tragedy in Bali where many Australians had been amongst those killed in the bomb blasts. But the laws were not retrospective, & so what they had been charged with were technically not crimes at the time they committed them.

It became obvious that Corby was going to be found guilty. In fact, this was probably obvious from the start. There are two types of criminal legal systems. Those, like Indonesia, that start from a presumption of guilt; those, like Australia, that are supposed to start from a presumption of innocence. The lack of defense evidence was immense. I mean, what can you say when kilos of dope are found in your luggage & you've made an overt gesture to stop the customs official from opening it?

Part of the story is that of the damsel in distress, held captive by the forces of evil, facing death or at least life behind bars. The perceived gestalt of Asian jails, even though that in Bali is regarded as possibly the most humane, is on a par with the Turkish prison of Midnight Express, without the anal penetration.

The other part of the story is the bigotry that has again surfaced in Australia, though it always bubbles there, usually just out of view. This is a country that has only in my lifetime done away with what was known as the White Australia policy, that only declared the Aborigines who have inhabited this land for 40,000 years as citizens 40 years ago. It is a country that treats its indigenous population poorly, asylum seekers atrociously, that locks up children in detention camps, that even deports its own citizens. It is a country where people have asked that the money they donated to the Tsunami appeal now be returned because the Indonesians are undeserving of it. It is a country where a radio commentator can describe the judges in the Corby trial & Indonesians generally as "monkeys" who "can't even speak English".

The verdict was handed down last Friday &, just like it does when the Melbourne Cup, Australia's most famous horse race, is run, the nation stopped to watch it broadcast live on at least a couple of the networks. The sentence was twenty years imprisonment. People cried. The Foreign Minister said the Government would begin formal discussions within ten days for a deal whereby Corby would be allowed to serve her sentence in Australia. The Prime Minister says he will talk to his Indonesian counterpart once all available avenues have been explored. Both sides have said they will appeal the severity/leniency of the sentence.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, the unattractive or Australian citizens of a different ethnicity await their death.
 

Version Therapy

One of the good things about blogs is that they not only give you a chance to look at things off the page as it were, but they also give you the opportunity to amend or edit the posts, the pieces that you post there.

Most posts, per se, I leave alone, perhaps correct a spelling mistake or restructure a phrase. Occasionally I will delete something I feel after looking at it later that is in questionable taste. But with poetry, the blog provides an ideal viewing platform, not necessarily the place to change but at least somewhere to provoke further thoughts about what you've done. There are quite a few poems first posted to a blog that have undergone severe rewriting before appearing in a later collection.

The poem below is as I posted it to my Series Magritte yesterday. I don't remember thinking about it after I posted it, but something must have been churning around in my subconscious because this morning I got up & rewrote it. I have now replaced the original on S.M., but am posting it here because it may give, for those of you who are interested, an inkling of my poetic processes.
# 91 The Delights of landscape

Each night
the hunter returns
recounting the
animals he has
shot, the trees
cut down to
remove all ground-
cover. Sometimes
the animal is eaten
or the head hung
in the trophy room.
The wood is set
aside & seasoned
for furniture, or
used to fuel the fire
in winter. He has
made a frame from
the best timber. It
rests, waiting to be
hung unfilled in
celebration the day
he comes home
empty-handed.
telepathetic

esse

No matter how
small the jar
it still takes time
to fill. Slow
distillations, the
drops falling un-
hurriedly, catching
the light, a spectral
beauty. It is the
smallest containers
that often hold
the treasure, but
not this poem,
but not this body.
 

Monday, May 30, 2005

Telephone Poles

Adding Telephone Poles to the sidebar. It's a blog of Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen collaborations.
 

? & !

The thing I
like most
about these on-
line what _____
are you
quizzes

                are the
conclusions
people feel
they can afford
to post.
 

A Nocturne for Kirsten Kaschock

What is a dancer? What is it to dance?
Kirsten Kaschock: sleightthing
The dance is

a synchronicity
of celibacy &
sexual excess.

The body embodied.
The body left behind.

Though still
without, within
you dance.

A way of life
a way to life
away from death.

At night the rain
beats black against
the windows. Reflected
you assume the
stance. The rivulets
amend your movements.

The feet. The brain.
Forgotten. Emotion.

Enumeration.
Annunciation.

The dancer is
the dance.
 

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Two Ms for Jukka



 
 Posted by Hello

& almost one Y

ONLY

Ursula LeGuin, & "juvenile fiction"

I have been thinking about the classification "juvenile fiction" over the past few days. Partially it's because of going to the Bookfest, & seeing on the JF table books by Dickens, Mark Twain, Sir Walter Scott, Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, Jack London, H.G. Wells et al. Look at any of the myriad homogenous editions of (out of copyright) "Classics", & the presence there of books like Aesop's Fables or Lewis Carroll's two Alices alongside the above authors indicates the market they are aimed at. Though I doubt very much if any of the authors felt they were writing for a juvenile market.

But more particularly my thoughts have been provoked because I've been reading the last two books in Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea series. They've been sitting on my shelves for a while now, waiting for me to get around to reading them, probably bought in a trawling through a second-hand bookshop where I tend to buy a number of books at once, to be read 'later'. These days I usually only read detective stories immediately I buy them, & buy them new. The paucity of bookshops in this place is one impediment; but the other is I would rapidly drive myself bankrupt if I started buying online, so I stay away from that.

The Wizard of Earthsea, the first in the series, was first published outside the U.S. under a Puffin Books imprint, the juvenile arm of Penguin. The latest, The Other Wind, by Orion Children's Books. But these books are anything but juvenile. The classics mentioned earlier are now probably re-categorised because of certain simplicities; they deal with reasonably clear-cut good vs evil, full of adventure in which good triumphs, full of supposed manly characteristics & male values. Most of them were written by men. & looking around me it would seem as if nothing much has changed – the Hobbits, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Tom Cruise. Even in pop music most of the "strong" women adopt a subservient stance, that of boys' toy – "Fuck me daddy, cos I'm your whore".

LeGuin challenges all this. She challenges the assumed power of men & the role-modelling, the gender stereotypes. Delineations are blurred. (In another LeGuin novel, the brilliant The Left Hand of Darkness, people are latent androgynes, taking on defined sexual characteristics only at estrus.) In LeGuin's Earthsea, the preferred power is something people possess as individuals, that comes from inside them, not from without. She writes about sorcery - without swords – but surrounds it with the universals: seasons, trees, injury, crops, animals, love, respect, dragons, discomfort. (Okay, I concede that real fire-breathing dragons are not everyday items, but the dragon-myth is universal.) She does not write down, & because of that her appeal is across the ages, in all meanings of the phrase.

& if it does get categorised as juvenile fiction, & read by the audience it is supposed to be for, then perhaps there is hope that some that come through will be a little less closed by prejudice, a little more open to change.
 

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The 4096 Ks for Jukka hay(na)ku

(4nK)
^  3,
n  =  4.

corridor / corrida

That came from either side
with drums & tambourines, setting
a pace I could not help
but follow. Lucid in the night
I dreamed of entrances & exits,
& made them sometimes, though
only when the shouting died.
 

Friday, May 27, 2005

an apologetic note to the 80-year olds

If
it's early
Akhmatova, that's okay.
 

Three Bookfest hay(na)ku

There's
hope for
me yet, seeing

80-year
olds picking
over the poetry.

§

What
hope is
there for me

when
I see
80-year olds selecting

poetry
written before
they were born?

§


&
at a
slower pace, a

second
trawl. To
find Ed Sanders

&
Yevtushenko, thick-
bodied, arms machismo.

Supporting
them both
a slender Akhmatova.
 

Another view of Jack Spicer

there was his poem
about the ugly gardener's son,
Crotchety Priapus,

weary in the weeds without the hots
for anyone

let's hope Death
has a big one
for Jack

Jonathan Williams
from: 50! Epithytes,-taphs, -tomes, -grams, -thets! 50!

Search'd

I may be forced to rethink my earlier comments. I have just returned from the Bookfest, back bowed & shoulder broken under the weight of $19 worth of books, almost thirty titles, sold by cover size.

A strange miscellany. Some to continue the replication of the library of my youth, Sartre, Koestler, Malraux; plays by Genet, Beckett, Brecht & O’Neill; a couple of more modern novels, Allende, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy; a couple of those reasonably inclusive Penguin anthologies of poetry, one of poems from the Thirties & the other U.S. – American Verse – that ranges from Anne Bradstreet to Diane Wakowski; Pynchon & Janet Frame; the collected Wilfred Owen, & Sylvia Plath (yes, Emily, one must have a knowledge of the history of the game); a missing Brautigan & a missing LeGuin; The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon.

&, in what might turn out to be a parallel history of this place in which I'm living, the Diaries of Franz Kafka.
 

Searchin', as Leiber & Stoller once wrote

I'm off to the annual Bookfest, an offering of second-hand books collected by one of the local charities & held in a pavillion at the Showgrounds. About 100,000 volumes on offer, although nearly all of it is crap. Perhaps there might be 2 or 3 there that I like.

Still, that's a higher ratio than I find in the local population.....
 

Combinatorics

I know nothing about
anything, except
perhaps the
classification of
butterflies. & even that
restricted. Sizes (two)
& five colours - black,
white, blue, green &
yellow. Still, ten
combinations can be
got from that. & then
to flowers. The black
left out & red
replaces. But. Add short or
long stemmed. Another
factor, a doubled
number. Such learning
is geometrically progressed
& moves across the species,
the areas of concern. Now
back to butterflies, & find, de-
fine the wing above, the
wing below. Two colours
sometimes, & shades
of definition. Such
possible variety. The birds.
 

Thursday, May 26, 2005

64 Js for Jukka

 
jongleur jurassic jingle jaguar jalousie jade jabiru jigger
jerry juxtapose joseph juice jemadar jaffa juryrig jolt
juggernaut jonquil jam joke jettison jockey joie jazz
jest jinx jetsam jihad jerkin juvenile jess joint
jolly jain jacaranda jag jonah jibe jetty japan
jacobite jereboam jemmy jung jewel jingo jilt jester
juggle jostle journal julep javelin jerusalem janitor justice
jeopardy jargon junk jersey joust justify jerboa jodhpurs
hajj
 
Sun-
drenched. Rain-
warmed. Epidermal velocities.
 

Another quote from J.G. Ballard that I like


 
When Armageddon
takes place, parking
is going to be
a major problem.
 
Millenium People
 
 Posted by Hello

Crashgate

A stolen swipe card, not
so smart. Information.
Technology accessible to
anyone. Gated communities
left unlocked. Inside. Smart
drugs. Intensity. Intrusive
turntables, their scratch &
DJ patter a sampling of
other people's bass emotions
best left alone. Witnessing
worried him. He left
when the drum machines
began to talk in tongues.
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

That which was lost has been found again

This morning, after several attempts, at intervals of several hours, & finding only the dreaded Blogger 404 - Page Not Found when I tried to log on to Tom Beckett's whispers within whispers, I assumed, since I had no problems accessing every other blog I tried, that he'd pulled the plug again & so I posted a wailing note of despair.

I am relieved, nay, overwhelmed by joy, to find I was in error; that when I checked several more hours later whispers was back in all its glory. Perhaps a little suffused with blushes in the cheeks & other parts, & panting a bit, because of Eileen's poem to Tom.

Accordingly, I have deleted my earlier post, & have instructed my lawyers to begin proceedings against the corporate hierarchy of Google for causing me emotional distress.

(This someone on the Tropic of Capricorn who also misses face to face contact loves you very much, Tom.)
 

Nick Piombino's

post A Blogland Vogue For Questions at Fait Accompli is well worth reading, & so wide-ranging it could almost be subtitled An Answer for Everything.
 

This is sad news

Dear sidereality fans & readers:

Recently, I've come to the realization that my heart's just simply not where it needs to be in order to continue editing and producing sidereality. So, unless someone new wants to step into the position of Managing Editor between now and the end of June, the second 2004 issue will be the final issue of sidereality. It saddens me to end my stint as the creator of this oftentimes wonderful zine, but I think it's something that, unfortunately, needs to happen. We've had, I think, a very good run, and I certainly don't want to continue into a second-rate future.

Clayton A. Couch

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

minimum daily requirements

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen has started up a blogzine, minimum daily requirements, which he describes as a "blogzine for collaborations, experiments and visual poetry".

If anyone wants further information, or to find out how to contribute, Jukka's email address is buried within the 'full details' information at nonlinear poetry.
 

&, following on,

As
the sun
sets, the credits

start
to roll.
This day was

brought
to you
by the seven

ayem
garbage collectors,
a poem that

glistened
just beyond
the edges of

the
trawling net,
Sketches of Spain

with
Miles Davis
& Gil Evans,

four
coldcall intrusions,
all declined, The

Last
Samurai on
cable, washing off

the
line. No
special effects were

provided
by Industrial
Light & Magic.
 

these days,

by
the end
of the credits

the
movie is
a far-gone conclusion
 

A found Spice Bestiary #3

Cayenne


Branches
angular, usually
enlarged &
slightly purple
at the
nodes; petioles
medium; peduncles
slender, often
in pairs, & longer
than the fruit;
calyx cup-
shaped, clasping
base of fruit
which is red, ovate
& long; seeds
small & flat,
from ten to
twenty-nine.
 Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

  genu
     inflection

Prisonnier mordu par des chiens

We pro-
claim
innocence; but
so much gone on
that we are
part of
party to
partially
responsible for

we cannot
claim
we thought
it was an-
other that
did this &
set our
selves a-
part.
 

"I don't think a photo inspires murderers"



 
"These people are motivated by a vision of the world that is backward and barbaric."
 
 :Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Out of Oxyrhynkhos

Trans-
lations a-
bound. Trans-
literations, inter-
pretations, extra-
polations, the do-
nut holes of
torri ex
-plored
-ploded
-ploited. 7
words. On the
third…..stone…..
rolled…..came
…..garden…..
 

a sunday afternoon conjunction

The most ancient problem connected with combinatorics may be the house-cat-mice-wheat problem of the Rhind Papyrus (Problem 79), which occurs in a similar form in a problem of Fibonacci's Liber Abaci and in an English nursery rhyme. All are concerned with successive powers of 7.

The first occurrence of combinatorics per se may be in the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. (However, the more modern binary ordering of these is first seen in China in the 10th century.)

A Chinese monk in the 700s may have had a rule for the number of configurations of a board game similar to go.

In Greece, one of the very few references to combinatorics is a statement by Plutarch about the number of compound statements from 10 simple propositions; Plutarch quotes Chrysippus, Hipparchus, and Xenocrates on the subject, so all apparently had some interest in the subject.

Boethius apparently had a rule for the number of combinations of things taken two at a time.

The author discusses interest in combinatorics in the Hindu world, by the Jainas, Varahamihira, and Bhaskara (the latter in the Lilavati ). The work of Brahmagupta should be relevant, but is not currently available in English.

The Arabs seem to have adopted their combinatorics from the Hindus.

The author also briefly discusses some interest in combinatorics in the Jewish mathematical tradition; two examples are Rabbi ben Ezra and Levi ben Gerson.

Magic squares may first occur in the lo shu diagram, which is often linked with the I Ching. The author discusses how the idea of magic squares may have entered the Islamic world, was then improved, appeared in the work of Manuel Moschopoulos, and possibly through him entered the Western world.

What happened in China is less clear. As the author suggests, the work of Yang Hui suggests that there had been a Chinese tradition of work in magic squares, already dead by Yang Hui's time. For example, the squares Yang Hui gives are not of types found elsewhere. In addition, Yang Hui seems unclear on the techniques for construction.

It is interesting that De la Loubère learned of a simple method for constructing magic squares in Siam.

The author also discusses the possibility of a Hindu study of magic squares; the presumably Arab source of Western magic square mysticism and later developments, such as Euler's questions on orthogonal Latin squares.

The author discusses how questions in partitions arose in gambling, such as the throwing of astrogali (huckle bones, which can land 4 ways) or dice (which can land in 6 ways). An early systematic study is in the late Medieval Latin poem De Vetula, which gives the number of ways you can obtain any given total from a throw of 3 dice. Cardano and Galileo examined the subject in more depth.

Combinatorial thinking in games and puzzles. Discusses the wolf-goat-cabbage, attributed to Alcuin. [Similar puzzles also occur in a variety of other cultures, but are not discussed in this article.]

Also discusses the Josephus problem, based on a process similar to the childhood process of "counting-out". The Josephus problem is named for the Jewish historian Josephus of the 1st century AD, who supposedly saved his life with a correct solution. This problem unexpectedly turned up in Japan.

The author discusses how "Pascal's" triangle was possibly known to Omar Khayyam in the context of taking roots. The Hindu scholar Pingala may have known a method, but the case is more cryptic. At any rate, it was known by the time of Halayudha, who may have lived in the 900s AD. A more clear-cut reference occurs in the work of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in 1265.

In China, the triangle appears in the work of Chu Shih-Chieh (1303), but may have been very ancient by then.

The triangle was used by Pascal and Fermat to resolve the "problem of points". This problem had the goal of determining how to distribute stakes when a game ends early.

from a précis by J. Dieudonné of The roots of combinatorics , Biggs, N. L., Historia Math.  6 (1979), no. 2.

As always, a perverse calculus refreshed and redefined the world.

J.G. Ballard: Millenium People
anchovies
breathe through
the pineal gland

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Illustrated Man Person

& considered. Where
to start. Where to
end. What to be. Call me
Queequeg? Start at
the forehead? Fill it in
or put a title there, the
chapter heading?

The chin? Remembered
moko, had seen the death
of it when young, old ladies
sitting on the kerb
waiting for the bus to
Waitara Pa, green markings
moving with their mouths. Had left
the country before its
resurrection, part of the twin-
tongue reformation. Using the chin
would give that aspect
strength, but continuity
lost in the hidden contours
of the throat.

The neck? Too many
prison tats, tearing along
the dotted line. The chest? But only if
a play, the curtains opening. But only
if the final scene, or curtain
call, everyone on stage.

& how to lay it out?
As newspaper, columnar, or
else a book, straight-
down, verso, recto, the arms appendices
or table of contents &
an index. Dead Egyptian, un-
grateful, right round &
keep on keeping down or
variant helix, single.

Or doubled, entwined, defining
who you are. Or who
might like to be.

Ideal is Möbius
Strip. Reading the message
within the eyes
each other time you pass.
Alternate. Reading without them.
 

urban myth or genuine,

either way it's an item for the almanac.

Lately, at airports, little old ladies & babies have been singled out as suspects by the sniffer dogs. Turns out someone responsible for the dogs' training switched the sample bag of coke for baby powder...

So if you've been getting the hots for yr grandma recently after you've exercised yr nostrils, this could be the reason why.

& on the subject of baby powder. Reported correlation of heavy use with cancer. Wonder why. Turns out in the days when it used to be talcum powder not cornflour, there used to be asbestos mixed in with it.
 

Friday, May 20, 2005

a found Spice Bestiary #1

Anise



The oil ex-
tracted from
the seed
is said to prove
a capital bait
for mice, if
smeared on
traps. It is
poisonous
to pigeons.

 Posted by Hello
 

#2

Bugle


The upper lip is
very short &
the lower three-
cleft. The stamens
project. The
flowers have
practically
no scent. After
fertilization, small
blackish seeds
are formed, but
many of the ovules
do not mature.

Posted by Hello
 
toncheekgue

sonnet

At that bright hanging line
fell out of step with the
garnished birds. Trumpets
plagued in the shallows,
a somewhat dirge, but
brightened by the ebullience
of its be-bop bite. Not quite
a march, nor quite a dance

nor quiet with us. Exchanged
the monied quarks & quasars
& left behind the antiquated
paste of amnesty to yolk our
wants & salt the ambience. In
Leipzig paused. Bach. Baroque.
 

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Jukka

 

 
being brought to you by pelican post
 
 Posted by Hello

Mardi Gras

In the narrows the sun
wests. Alligators hotfeet it
for the nearest spa. The delta
stretches, rolls over onto
its back to burn its belly
& better hear the zydeco
band that bubbles by. We
spoke of foodchains, &
whether it was the
resumption of whaling
that had driven the cliff-
dwellers out of the pueblos.
He paused, pleasured by
a point he'd made, & pride
blind-sided him. The
peristaltic erudition of a
passing manatee swallowed
him up in easy pieces. Mean-
while the moon blooms
miserly in the yellows.
 

& now, crossing over to the dark side

The Leevi Lehto Translation Bureau & Change Agency has just doubled its output, & posted the first - the last? - 134 entries of Karri Kokko's Varjo Finlandia - Shadow Finland - in English. Read the Force of the dark side.
 

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

crime fiction 17/5

The air was warm down there, & the ocean breezes were soft balmy caresses instead of endless lashing fusillades of stinging salt cold. I took a look at the positions vacant & chose this one. We did not find the Blonde or the Swarthy Man. The only thing they can give you is a cold. I wore my night-prowler's costume; black jeans, dark windbreaker over a sweater, black cap pulling my hair flat against my head, charcoal on my cheeks to keep the moonlight from reflecting off my skin.

"Oh," said the secretary, "she'll be tickled pink." The thought brought tears to her eyes now, as the pain had then.

No thought of escape had as yet crossed Monsieur Monde's mind. He drank the foam out of the Jax bottle & looked at me with one eye squinted shut against the light. "Must be a good friend, to make you coffee at five-thirty in the morning."

Diaz said, "You know him?"

Yellow Hand nodded. I made up a story.
 

via, via





Star Wars Horoscope for Scorpio




You are a powerful character.
You tend to be possessive and lusty - which explains your greedy nature.
You feel threatened when people try to order you around or control you.
You are prone to suspicion and jealousy - but your resilience and passion get you what you want.

Star wars character you are most like: Han Solo


Oh dear, & I really wanted to be an Ewok!
 

The extinct river

He collected water
from different rivers,
from the same river
at different times. Kept
in a controlled environment
to prevent evaporation. In
old jam jars. Numbered.
Carefully registered.
Date, place, sometimes
season. Whether up-
or downstream from some
notable landmark. The
Fitzroy, 17/12/96, 2 km
above the Barrage, on
the third day of rain. Or:
Nine Mile Creek, seven
years of silence & then
the first flow. 13/1/79.
Most clear waters for
the sediment settled
over time. Different levels
of it, sometimes a sequence,
often sad. Thirty-three years
of the Murray, the jars
side by side, the first with
a thin layer of silt, the last
a jar of dessicated dust.
 

Michele Leggott & a Journey To Portugal

We sat
outside a café
on the quayside
drinking flat white coffees

talking of Portugal
Last year, when I was back in New Zealand, I finally met Michele Leggott, one of my favourite people, my favourite poets. We had corresponded for about seven years, ever since the first stirrings of the anthology Big Smoke: New Zealand Poems 1960-1975 which she co-edited with Murray Edmond (Martin's cousin) & the late Alan Brunton. Her initial letter talked about the anthology project, & asked, extremely politely, if she could rummage through my past.

Those few lines, & her on-going support & correspondence, were the prime trigger for my getting back into writing after 25 years of silence. She got me to look at my old poetry, provided me with copies of stuff I hadn't seen for years, edited & oversaw the selection of my early poems that appeared as The right foot of the giant in 1999, dragged some new poems out of me to accompany the launch of Big Smoke in 2000, provoked some more, curated a selection of N.Z. poetry for Jacket #16 & generously asked me to contribute, the first new poems I had published in 27 years, kept on being supportive as I scratched around, learning to stand on my own feet again, to regain my poetic balance. She was instrumental in my having an author's page posted at the New Zealand electronic poetry centre, in inviting me over to launch the page at the nzepc's 3rd birthday. She was the one who suggested having Martin Edmond as my interviewer in an email Q&A saying we would probably like one another which we did, immensely. &, through her own poetry, she gave me the gift of making the reading of other people's poetry joyful once more. I cannot thank her enough for what she has done for me over these years.

I don't think I have ever looked forward to meeting someone as much as I looked forward to meeting Michele. & I'm pleased to say that the friendship that developed through our correspondence was strengthened by being able to share the same places at the same time. She met me at the airport, we read together on stage, we walked around the North Shore esplanade, I even danced at a party she had – some things you don't forget, though the lungs & legs ain't what they used to be.

& we talked. About all sorts of things, in all sorts of places. The quote at the top of the post, from a poem I wrote shortly after I got back to Australia, is about one of those times, in late afternoon, on the quayside in Auckland, she waiting for a ferry to go in one direction, I for & in another. We spoke of Portugal where she'd recently been, at a writers' conference. It was a journey that held importance for her.

I enjoyed hearing her talk about it. I enjoyed even more the long wonderful sequence she later wrote about it. & now that enjoyment can be spread even further, because her Journey to Portugal is on-line in the latest issue of Jacket.
 

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Have updated

to Geof Huth's Essential Vocabulary 3.0.
 

when he

scored
the winning
word in the
last moments
of the poem

the meerkats
in the bleachers
stood up &
cheered.
 
This was when he felt it most, the part of the evening put aside for playing music together. A string quartet, of which he was the fifth member, sharing neither their musical tastes nor their DNA. Usually he would provide the audience, or be the page-turner if the piece were long. Sometimes he would follow the score. He had learned to read music, had studied it, composition, contrabass, first classical & then jazz, many years ago. Years without playing.

Later, when everybody had gone to bed, he would sometimes sit at the piano & pick at tunes, single-fingered like his typing, but eventually he would get there, could recognise what he was playing. Some things never left him. He could still do a little Bach, the harmonies of Debussy's Clair de Lune, the chord changes for a twelve-bar blues. Clunk. "Don't the moon look lonesome" clunk "shining through the trees". Clunk.

& then he would drift, & his hands would hover above the keyboard, & the music would flow. Perfectly, telekinetically. He would think & the keys would depress in the right sequence. He was Monk, playing Straight, No Chaser at the Blue Note, he was Ray Charles on the stage at Newport, he was J.S. Bach on the well-tempered clavier, he was, he was.

But in his most secret moments he was the anonymous piano-player in a smoky nightclub in Paris last century, backing Juliette Greco as she sang the latest poem Jacques Prévert had brought in for her. Her voice would build the song, the audience would push her along, he would help, chords & little runs for emphasis. & then he would pause, & the audience would catch its breath, & the last words of the poem would drift alone, out there, spreading, until everybody was caught up by them & they would finish together.
           Pourquoi me questionner
          Je suis là pour vous plaire
           Et n’y puis rien changer.

Monday, May 16, 2005

ernesto

if i had never done anything before

&

if i never do anything again

to have provoked this wonderful poem

is

sufficient justification
for my existence
 

dipl’matically impugn

For that it takes
some effort or
gives worthwhile
result. Forgiving
ambiguity, the
shoe on the other
foot. Impasse in
past. Kept on
imposed upon. Not
so certain. Shoo
in or gives some
worth while hold-
ing forth, while
holding the fort for.
 
omniportent

Sunday, May 15, 2005

another "exposé",

another tarnishing of those who we may otherwise hold up as being heroic figures in an unheroic age.

Victor Farias, in Salvador Allende:Anti-semitism & Euthanasia, says Allende quotes approvingly in his 1933 doctoral dissertation a "cure" for homosexuality:
"It could be corrected with surgery - small holes would be made in the stomach, into which small pieces of testicle would be inserted. This would make the person heterosexual."
& if small holes were made in the testicles, into which small pieces of stomach were inserted, would this make the person a hungry fucker, straight or gay?
 

Saturday, May 14, 2005

an alphabet para Ernesto Priego, because he's feeling low & I'd like to cheer him up!

A Martian with a clown face can pass as a Venusian.
Butterflies call chaos theory the pissing or pissant theory. They believe that if two men in Guadalajara have a competition to see who can piss the highest, a blizzard will eventually develop somewhere in Siberia.
Codicia de la boca / al hilo de un suspiro suspendida…
Debonair is a tune that makes you want to whistle along with it.
Ebonaire is a dark wood with holes in it. Some people call it a recorder.
Fenêtre is French for window. Perhaps a French window.
Galapagos has tortoises. The lagoon at the end of our street has turtles. Last night I rescued a turtle from the roadway. It was heading in the wrong direction, away from the water. It didn't make me want to rewrite the theory of evolution.
Heavenly shades of night are falling, it's twilight time.
Incognito ergo sum.
Jalapeno peppers bring tears to my thighs.
Kevlar is used for making body armour. In an ideal world you wouldn't need it.
Later he would walk down to the lagoon.
Miles Davis was
Never neutral. Nor was
Octavio
Paz.
Quena is a type of flute made from a human bone. I once wrote a poem about it. The poem rhymed.
Reckon you thought I might stick in Quetzalcoatal for that previous entry, but I'm saving him for a later line.
Swallows are what bellies are for.
Teotehuacán is one of the places where the feathered serpent was formerly & formally worshipped.
U comes before
V. But one of the problems about getting old is that sometimes you actually have to check on those sort of things. The alphabet is its own mnemonic &
When you forget it there's nothing to fall back on.
X-men. Uncanny how we both thought of that together. Snap!
Y am I doing all this? Take it as an act of friendship. Do not question it. Do not pass go.
Zeus was my father. He fell upon my mother as a swan & got up despite the down. Helen of Troy is a sort of sister. Brad Pitt is no relation. But sometimes I think there is an other.
 

a kind of post(ed) comment

Unlike this & most other blogs, where the comments are displayed on a secondary page, As/Is has, for some time now, had its comments mixed in with the poems. It is probably the ideal setup for a poetry blog; but it has recently soured somewhat for me by the influx of a number of 'commenters' who seem more intent on posturing, on spraying a tomcat scent, than offering any honest response to or constructive criticism about the posted poetry.

They remind me of the character Horst Bulcholz played in The Magnificent Seven, the western remake of The Seven Samurai. This probably sounds - & probably is – patronising, but it's almost like they don't know how to behave in public. & the pity of it is that their own blogs are worthwhile, show none of the tendencies that have irritated the shit out of me over recent weeks.

So, I’ve decided to include them in my links, have added to the sidebar Jesse Crockett's differentia & PR Primeau's 'P'R'O'C'E'S'S'I'O'N'. Check them out, there's some good stuff there.
 

Ghosts in the Pawtuckettville night

Some time later, when
the karaoke machines
started calling to one
another, he packed up
his respirator & its axled
oxygen cylinder &,
with a tetrapak of re-
constituted Brazilian
orange juice for guidance,
headed for the jungle.
 

Friday, May 13, 2005

a question for Tom Beckett

Do you
ever
keep yr
deleted
posts or
are they
those bits of
unprotected
text, the
shadows with-
in shadows,
the points
I see vanishing
in the jet-
stream late
at night?
 

Noh "no action"

Sometimes spectators of the Noh say that the moments of "no action" are the most enjoyable. This is one of the actor's secret arts. Dancing and singing, movements on the stage, and the different types of miming are all acts performed by the body. Moments of "no action" occur in between. When we examine why such moments without action are enjoyable, we find that it is due to the underlying spiritual strength of the actor which unremittingly holds the attention. He does not relax the tension when the dancing or singing comes to an end or at intervals between the dialogue and the different types of miming, but maintains an unwavering inner strength. This feeling of inner strength will faintly reveal itself and bring enjoyment. However, it is undesirable for the actor to permit this inner strength to become obvious to the audience. If it is obvious, it becomes an act, and is no longer "no action". The actions before and after an interval of "no action" must be linked by entering the state of mindlessness in which the actor conceals even from himself his own intent. The ability to move audiences depends, thus, on linking all the artistic powers with one mind.

Seami Motokiyo (1363-1443): The One Mind Linking All Powers
(translated by Ryusaku Tsunoda & Donald Keene)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

eine kleine nachtmusik


 
& then there
were the
evenings
he would
dress up as
St Cecilia
& boogie
with the boys
in the band.
 
 
 Posted by Hello
 

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

liking who you are

introrespection

&, on the subject of Jukka

He has recently taken up photography. & how! His recent posts at nonlinear poetry have been a continuation of his textual conjecturing, manipulation, through a different medium. But at textual conjectures, the photos he has just started posting there are pure poetry. Jukka poetry.

We talk sometimes about photographs as being like poems, & photographers will often say how they wish to achieve a poetic quality in their work. But these works of Jukkas are no similes. I have never, never, never ever seen before photographs that are poems.

7.30.pm Have just received an email from Jukka to say that
"I have made a little "gallery", most photos you've seen in nonlinear/ conjectures/stay resident, but there is also a bunch of more experimental shots, entitled "nondimensional". You'll find it at http://nondimensional.cjb.net"

just up at e-x-c-h-a-n-g-e-v-a-l-u-e-s

I interview Jukka-Pekka Kervinen.
 

hunted unto

…..other-
wise it is
hunted unto
extinction. The
parts there-
of. Skin. Pemmican
that once
was flesh. Bone
to coax erectile
tissue. Hence. No
part no more
than any other.
The whole. Should
be. Left
alone. All one…...
 

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

a piece of nostalgia

If you're wondering how that fuckwit ever got into the White House, this might help. It was the subject of one of my first posts to the pelican, & my closest brush with Robert Creeley since he was the person who sent the link to the person who sent it to me.
 

a second speculative fiction, perhaps

Several people in blogland have recently become excited over new finds at Oxyrhynkhos. Let me just insert a cautionary word from The Allegrezza Ficcione.
Unable to contain his inquisitiveness, he asked Dae what she & Joo-eun were doing, was told that they were forging ancient Egyptian & Greek commercial documents, that one of Tamur's sidelines was selling them through blackmarket channels. Tamur admitted it, said that the dig at Oxyrhynkhos had given him the opportunity to suggest to prospective buyers that he might be able to obtain documents smuggled out from the site. Allegrezza was surprised when he told him how many museums had taken advantage of his offers.
Looks like Tamur expanded the scope of his operations.
 

a speculative fiction, 9/5

Turning right, turning left, he wished he could interpret scuffs & broken brush. But let the victim call once more, move once more. He became openly abusive, criticised my work before junior members of the staff, even threatened to report me to the directors. Two small mouse-like animals had come scampering out, rushing around the laboratory until the cat caught & ate them. Why there were two, & so different in shape & size, where one would have done, I couldn't imagine. But it is all one, & if at moments the facts seem to alter with an altered voice, why then you can choose the fact you like best; yet none of them are false, & it is all one story. It was to this heterogeneous building that the many cupolas & columns belonged. I am a student of such things. We had played too many games for me not to try this one, too. It won't be pleasant at first, but afterward you will feel quite lovely.

(with assists, in no particular order, from Ursula LeGuin, Umberto Eco, Fritz Leiber, William Gibson, Samuel R.Delany, Michael Moorcock, Bruce Sterling, Philip K.Dick, Jorge Luis Borges & J.G.Ballard)
 

Monday, May 09, 2005

101 essential tips on bonsai


 
#3 The simplest way to acquire a bonsai is to buy one ready-made.
 
 Posted by Hello
when
I asked
they told me

poems
unlike questions
should be open

ended
 

Sunday, May 08, 2005

por ernesto priego

were
those the
birds, some posts

below,
where, if
your most recent

post
was your
eyes, I might

expect
to find
your belly, swallowing?
 

reading(s) & writing

I have been considering my reaction to the topic of this recent post by Ron Silliman.
"It’s been at least three decades, for example, since Bromige first noted just how often I can be seen at a reading jotting something down into a notebook. It is rare, actually, that what I am scribbling relates directly  to the reading (tho at times there will be depiction of the event itself). Rather, I find that mental space of confronting the well written word aurally is a remarkable – unsurpassed, in fact – tool for turning over the language in one’s own mind/experience/ daily life as well. Thus I find myself at a reading listening to the text, observing the event & often composing something completely different all at once. Sometimes I feel that I will wander – get too far away from the reader’s text, or forget literally my own environment if I get “absorbed” into a work – but I usually can make myself return if I try."
My natural arrogance does not let me think for a single moment that I would give a bad &/or boring reading. My natural humility excludes the possibility that I might so inspire/influence someone that they felt the need to haul out a notebook & start writing. So my initial reaction would be to become pissed off at anyone in the audience that starting doing this. My second reaction would be getting even more irritated & pissed off. & my third reaction would be thinking to myself that it's a good thing that I'm not an aggressive person, because otherwise I'd get so irritated & pissed off that I'd stop reading & go out into the audience & punch their fucking lights out.

But then, I'm not a notebook sort of person.
 

Saturday, May 07, 2005

It is a time-
consuming process,
first delicately
harvesting the epithelials
left on the pages
of the First Folio
& then culturing
them in agar broth &
growth hormones
so the resultant cell-
line can be used
to recreate the
Bard of Avon. Some
success. Four clones
so far. One looks
like Queen Elizabeth
the First, another
Francis Bacon. The
other two have tent-
atively been identified
as Lennon & McCartney.
 

Friday, May 06, 2005

joy across my big brass bed

In the light of my very recent posts about Dylan, it is extremely bizarre that I have just received the following piece of Nigerian Scam Spam from someone whose email 'name' is Joy Lady Joy.

MY NAME IS MRS.MABEL MARADAS, I AM THE MANAGER CREDIT AND ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT GLOBAL BANK LAGOS.I WRITE YOUIN RESPECT OF A FOREIGN CUSTOMER WITH ACCOUNT NUMBER14-255-2004/CCB/NG.WHO AMONG OTHERS ON BOARD HAD A PLANE CRASH INUSAON THE 31ST OCTOBER 1999.ALL ON BOARD PERISH AND DIED IN THEPLANCRASH.SIR,SINCE THE DEMISE OF THIS OUR CUSTOMER MR GEORGE SHIMONY A LEBANESE IMPORT AND EXPORT TYCOON HERE IN LAGOS . I HAVEKEPT A CLOSE MONITORING OF THE DEPOSIT RECORDS AND ACCOUNTS SINCE THEN NO BODY HAS COME TO CLAIM THE MONEY IN THIS ACCOUNT AS NEXT OF KIN TO THE LATE MR GEORGE SHIMONY,HAS ONLY $10.5MLLION IN HIS ACCOUNT AND THE ACCOUNT IS CODED IT IS ONLY AN INSIDER THAT COULD PRODUCE THE CODE OR PASSWORD OF THE DEPOSIT PARTICULARS. AS IT STANDS NOW. THERE IS NOBODY IN THAT POSITION TO PRODUCE THE NEEDED INFORMATION OTHER THAN MY VERY SELF CONSIDERING MY POSITION IN THE BANK.BASED ON THE REASONS THAT NOBODY HAS COME FOR THE CLAIMS OF THE DEPOSIT AS NEXT OF KIN, I SEEK FOR YOUR CO OPERATION TO USE YOUR NAME AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO THE DESEASED TO SEND THIS FUNDS OUT TO A FOREIGN OFFSHOREBANK ACCOUNT FOR MUTUAL SHARING BETWEEN ME AND YOU ONLY AS I AM THE ONLY ONE WITH THE INFORMATION BECAUSE I HAVE REMOVED THE DEPOSIT FILE FROM THE SAFE .BY THIS DOING, WHAT IS REQUIRED FROM YOU IS TO SENDAN APPLICATION SEEKING CLAIMS OF THE DEPOSIT AS NEXT OF KIN TO THELATE MR SHIMONY.I WILL SEND YOU SPECIMEN OF APPLICATION AS SOON AS YOU CONFIRM YOUR READINESS TO ASSIST ME MOVE THE FUNDS OUT OF THE VAULT OF OUR BANK.NOTE: THE BANKING RULES AND REGULATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY DOES NOT ALLOW SUCH DEPOSIT TO STAY MORE THAN FIVE YEARS AS AN EXPERTRIATES ACCOUNT , IF THE DEPOSIT STAYS MORE THAN TOLD FIVE YEARS THE FUNDS WILL BE INHERITED BY NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT ACCOUNT ASUNCLAIMED DEPOSIT.
IN VIEW OF THIS DEVELOPMENT I BEG FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE AND FULL CO-OPERATION TO COME AND LAY CLAIMED TO THIS DEPOSIT AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO MR GEORGE SHIMONY THERE IS NO RISKINVOLVE IN THIS BUSINESS AS YOU WILL BE EQUIPED WITH ALL VITALINFORMATION OF THE DEPOSI AND THE ACCOUNT. YOUR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN DOESNOTMATTER, WHAT MATTERS IS YOU AS THE NEXT OF KIN HAVING ALL NECCESSARY INFORMATION TO BACK UP YOUR CLAIMS . NOTE THAT ALL MODALITIES? FOR A HITCH FREE TRANSACTION HAS BEEN PERFECTED FROMMYSIDE I WILL SUPPLY YOU WITH ALL THE ACCOUNT PARTICULARS . I WILL NEED YOUR FULL NAME AND ADDRESS COMPANY OR RESIDENTIAL SO THAT I CAN COMPUTERISE THEM TO TALLY WITH NEXT OF KIN COLLUM IN THECERTIFICATEOF DEPOSIT.FINALLY I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE REQUEST FOR A FOREIGNER AS THE NEXT OF KIN IS OCCATIONED BY THE FACTTHATTHE CUSTOMER WAS A FOREIGNER AND FOR THAT ONLY REASON A LOCALCANNOTREPRESENT AS NEXT OF KIN.I HAVE AGREED TO SHARE THIS MONEY WITHYOUIN THE MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING OF 40%/60%YOU KEEP 40 WHILE I KEEP 60.YOU HAVE MERITED THIS PERCENTAGE BECAUSE YOU WILL PROVIDE THE ACCOUNT WHERE WE SHALL FINALLY TRANSFER THE FUNDS INTO ON A SUCCESSFULCLAIMING OF THE DEPOSIT. MY 60% WILL REMAIN IN THE ACCOUNT PENDINGMYARRIVAL IN YOUR COUNTRY FOR DISBURSEMENT AND SUBSEQUENTINVESTMENTS.
LASTLY FOR THE IMMEDIATE TAKE OFF OF THIS TRANSACTION YOU HAVE TO CONFIRM YOUR WILLINGNESS AND READINESS TO ASSIST ME RETRIVE THIS DEPOSIT, THEN I WILL SEND TO YOU BY FAX ORE-MAIL THE APPLICATION TEXT AND OTHER VITAL INFORMATION YOU NEEDTOKNOW ABOUT THE DEPOSIT.I ASSURE YOU OF 100% RISK FREETRANSACTION.TRUSTING TO HEAR FROM YOU.
GOD BLESS!.
YOURS RESPECTFULLY ,
MRS MABEL MARADAS,

Only $10.5 million? The man died a pauper!
 

the times they are a-changin'

Dylan's
dime stores
now $2 shops.

a stranger in a strange (g)land

    priupic
hedownism

a footnote to the post below

& don't forget to check out dérives!
 

Thursday, May 05, 2005

speculo, speculavi, speculare, speculatum

In a post of a few days ago I attempted to describe Martin Edmond's genre of writing. I first used the term 'creative prose' but that didn't feel quite right so I amended it to 'speculative prose'. Though I left it there, I still wasn't happy with the phrase. Fiction is easy to define, non-fiction that is as creative as we perceive good fiction to be far harder. Sure there are categories into which things can be fitted – Henry Miller's Colossus of Maroussi can be described as a travel book, Guevara's Bolivian Diaries as autobiography – but they are often a loose fit, & there is still a body of work that doesn't fit into even the single circles of a Venn diagram.

My use of the term 'speculative prose' is, in essence, an oxymoron. I consider Borges' ficciones as speculative fiction that could quite possibly be fact. A small transposition & I ended up with speculative fact which conjured up to me the idiocies of van Donkeyhead's Chariots of the Gods. So, speculative prose as a compromise.

Martin picks up on my dilemma with his own thoughts about & problems & responses he encounters when defining his style. I won't attempt to paraphrase since (a) his post upholds my opinion of his abilities & (b) it can be read simply by clicking here (& read also the post immediately beneath). But I will include part of the quote from Italo Calvino with which he closes the post since it is almost the phrase I had been originally looking for.

"…the more reflective kind of writing in which narrative and essay become one."
 

My favourite Dylan song

is probably Love minus zero / no limit.
In the dime stores & bus stations,
people talk of situations,
read books, repeat quotations,
draw conclusions on the wall.
Don't know why I thought of it. Actually, I do. It's the post below, Qin the Emperor, Quinn the Eskimo.
when
Qin the
Emperor gets here

ev'ry-
body's gonna
jump for joy.

A musing for Emperor Qin

I am smoking filters
now, but still
sit outside
to have them. Ex-
tinguish them by
pushing the lighted tip
into a bucket
of sand. Twenty
butts from the day's
smoking, brown ends
staring up at me. Some
day I might bury
the bucket. What for?
Future fame. Think of
the terracotta warriors.
 

The Long Good-bye

I grew up on a diet of detective stories - courtesy of my parents & their weekly trip to the Library - & science fiction - courtesy of my brother, 12 years older, who left his books behind when his work transferred him to a year's post in some provincial town in New Zealand.

Through their combined efforts the platform for my subsequent reading was made up of writers such as Chandler & Hammett, Dick, Bradbury, Clarke, Kornbluth & Sturgeon. (I first read Borges in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.) I don't read much SF these days, probably only J.G. Ballard, Ursula LeGuin, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling plus I regularly re-read Samuel Delany, but I still read detective stories & buy each new book by John Sandford & Sara Paretsky & James Lee Burke & Martin Cruz Smith & a handful of others, although part of the reason for that may be that this range is one of the few that interest me that are stocked by the local bookshops. (Poetry? What's that?)

I have just finished reading a Chandler compendium of three novels featuring his famous "hard-boiled private eye" Philip Marlowe. I haven't read them in what must be decades, though in the interim I must have seen the celluloid interpretations of Bogart & Mitchum & Dick Powell many times.

I still think Chandler is a great writer, but what I had previously not been consciously aware of was how racist & homophobic he was. The first two novels, The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely, both written pre-Second World War, are full of denigating terms & a disdain for Chinese, Japanese, Afro-Americans & Mexicans. This racism is not so evident in The Long Good-bye, written in the early fifties, although this may be in part due to the setting of the novel. But his homophobia is still very much present.
'I had a male secretary once. Used to dictate to him. Let him go. He bothered me sitting there waiting for me to create. Mistake. Ought to have kept him. Word would have got around I was a homo. The clever boys that write book reviews because they can't write anything else would have caught on and started giving me the build-up. Have to take care of their own, you know. They're all queers, every damn one of them. The queer is the artistic arbiter of our age, chum. The pervert is the top guy now.'
This cannot be excused as characterisation because Chandler put too many speeches about things he obviously believed in in the same mouths. & I have probably not picked up on this before because in my much earlier readings & re-readings I did not consider such attitudes to be morally reprehensible. & re-reading my own earlier work - not so much the poetry but the reviews & essays I did - I discern some of the same attitudes there. Not homophobia, but there is evidence of sexism, &, in one piece that freaks the shit out of me now, is the descriptor 'n*****-minstrel', without the asterisks, a phrase that now horrifies me & makes me ashamed that I ever could have used it.

It tarnishes me as a person, it poisons my past. Let me just say, years later but far too late, I apologise.
 

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm
a Fann
of the Finns.
 

Leevi Lehto, white knight

Of late, I've been thinking that I'm going to be forced to learn Finnish. Jukka has become involved in the local literary scene - how does he find the time to do so much? - & is editing a zine called FinStream. There's also an autogenerated version. Sound familiar?

& Karri Kokko. Not only has he started two new blogs in Finnish, but his posts to his main blog Muisti|kirja have of late been exclusively in his native language. Because that was one of my favourite ports of call in the days when I could read it - now I can only look at the occasional picture he posts - I dropped him an email the other day asking whether he had deliberately changed his policy.

He replied:
No, I haven't. Not consciously, anyway. I don't know what happened. There's a lot going on, and I guess the English dept. had to be the one to suffer. The two new blogs I have take a lot of time & energy. Uusia lauseita (New Sentences) is about random findings from the Finnish Blog Front. A "story", a comedy of written manners, or mannerisms, written blog-style from the bottom up. So far, it's become a small hit inside the Finnish blogosphere.... The name of my other blog, Varjofinlandia (Shadow Finlandia), refers to the biggest literary prize in Finland, the Finlandia Prize. To every prize and its winner there's always the real winner, the one that gets overlooked, the one that gets shadowed by all the hoopla. In Varjofinlandia, I give a voice to the vast amount of people expressing their negative feelings: depression, pain, weariness, fatigue, insomnia, addiction, sorrow. It's about the dark side of Finlandia, if you may. So there.
So here am I, knowing I'm missing out on something that I'm sure would be pretty good if I could understand it. & then Leevi Lehto comes in from left field, to use Karri's phrase, & out of the blue, on a white charger - I think those are the colours of the Finnish flag; had to work it in somehow - & publishes an "unauthorised" - & that, given the nature of the blogs, may or may not be an unintentional play on words - translation of the first 60 posts to varjofinlandia.

My guess was right. This is a marvellous piece of work. I hope both Karri & Leevi continue on, Karri daily, Leevi at regular intervals.

But I still think I'm going to have to learn Finnish. From what I can see of the local scene, there's too much activity happening to keep missing out on it.
 

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Even if it was as
the specialists suggest, that
in certain intensities of
light the interplay
of particular patterns
might strobe &
cause him to
black out, he would rather
pass up the surgery
than pass up the
opportunity to see
the salamanders come down
to the world's edge
& drink up the blood
of the setting sun.
 

Monday, May 02, 2005

Driftglass

    "Driftglass," I said. "You know all the Coca-Cola bottles and cut-crystal punch bowls and industrial silicon slag that goes into the sea?"
    "I know the Coca-Cola bottles."
    "They break, and the tide pulls the pieces back and forth over the sandy bottom, wearing the edges, changing their shape. Sometimes chemicals in the glass react with the chemicals in the ocean to change the color. Sometimes veins work their way through in patterns like snowflakes, regular and geometric; others, irregular, and angled like coral. When the pieces dry, they're milky. Put them in water and they become transparent again."
Samuel Delany writing about driftglass, in his story of that name.

I have written elsewhere of the images of childhood I carry with me, like extra vertabrae or ribs; mountains, trains, the sea. What I have probably not spelt out is the fact that these are fractals, that within them there are patterns within which are smaller patterns. The mountains devolve to become separate mountains, & not just mountains but within them states of being, distinguishing marks. How high or low the snow is; where & when they are seen. Trains can be the grit from a coal-fired engine coming through the not-closed-in-time carriage windows as the train enters a tunnel, or the sound of a train in the distance, or the enormity of a local coal train, seeming two kilometres long as, powered by several engines, it heads towards an export port or a power station. When I have to stop the car at one of the number of level crossings within this city, I do not become frustrated by the delay but am quite relaxed, even if all that the train is carrying are containers. Even though there are no longer guard's vans to mark the end, just a single light bolted to the last bogie.

& the sea. There are few offshore islands in New Zealand, so the horizons stretch unbroken. South America off to the east, Antarctica to the south, a few Polynesian islands to the north but the ocean mainly uninhabited till you reach Siberia & Alaska. Only to the west is there a landmass of significance, Australia, but even here the latitudes only overlap partially, so that if you started from far enough south you could keep going until Africa was reached.

The sea. I almost drowned in it when I was two, wandered away from my sister's care & was found floating face down in the water. The beaches are black sand, in parts contain oil. New Plymouth had derricks almost on the water's edge, pumping away. (Just over the railway line to the port, with the single dormant volcano Taranaki, in English Mt Egmont, upthrust as a backdrop.) I can only remember one white-sand beach, Oriental Bay in Wellington Harbour, created from the ballast carried by ships coming from Europe. They are often isolate, foreboding, lined by grey papa (damp clay) foothills & cliffs. The mountains of N.Z. were amongst the highlights of LOTR. The beaches featured in Xena, Warrior Princess.

I would walk them, confronted by sea lions & seals & pelicans. I would pick up or wander amongst pieces of driftwood or starfish or shells or kelp. I would often find driftglass.

In Australia, too, I have never lived far away from the ocean. But it is a different environment. Built-up, often to obscene levels as in Surfers Paradise. Civilisation intrudes, the detritus of civilisation fouls the tides. Shopping bags, & PET bottles that don't mutate in the way that glass does. The beaches are hard to reach – thirty kilometres in Sydney is over an hour's drive in heavy & frustrating traffic. Hedonism when you get there. Nowhere to sit in lordly & isolate splendour. There is too much at your back to be able to think clearly about what is in front of you.

Here, where I am living now, the beach is the same spatial distance as in Sydney, much closer temporally. But there are resorts & marinas & the tourist trade. Built up, becoming a high-priced suburb, unattractive. Still somewhere I go to occasionally, when the need takes me, but for a quick fix as it were, a drive along the foreshore, stopping only briefly, preferring to take in the ocean by osmosis.

There are sideroads running off the drive to sea, but never explored until yesterday. One ends at a boatramp on the river, just after you pass a meatworks – which, when I top the peak in the road near home, I can see in the distance lit-up at night far across the flood plain - & an open chapel built during the second world war by the U.S. servicemen that were stationed here. Further down the main road, just after the roadside fruit stall – 95% locally-grown produce – where we sometimes buy pumpkins & papaya & pineapples, & just before the sideroad where the signpost points to a crocodile farm, there is another road that we took for the first time. & it lead to a beach, a kilometre or so long, sheltered by a natural outcrop of rocks on one side & a breakwater on the other, constructed from jagged stone, thrown together, without smoothing, so that those who wish to fish from it have to pick their way very, very carefully no matter what their footwear.

A beach with a row of houses running along it, mainly simple beach houses, holiday homes, though there are a couple of more substantial structures that have been built, fortunately, with a consideration for the place. A deserted beach, only a couple of people casting lines in the shallows & a couple of kids with boogie boards. Sunflowers planted in the dunes, a regeneration project underway. Places to sit comfortably in the shade. A barbecue area.

On the beach pods of seaweed. Small balls of sand cast out by the tiny crabs that live in holes. Shells. Strange lines that seem to have been made by worms, raised where the use is recent, depressed, etched, where the tide has come in & collapsed them. A few starfish. The water surprisingly warm.

&, the first time I've seen any for more than thirty years, pieces of driftglass. Milky when dry, but transparent when you dip them in the ocean.
 

Sunday, May 01, 2005

dérives

When I drive cab
           A revelation of movement comes to me: They wake now.
           Now they want to work or look around. Now they want
           drunkenness and heavy food. Now they contrive to love.

Lew Welch: After Anacreon
Martin Edmond, who I consider to be the best writer of creative prose - a phrase I'm not particularly happy with but I can't think, at the moment, of a better one; perhaps speculative prose - in blogland, has hived off his taxi-driving pieces from Luca Antara & has posted them to a new blog, dérives, which doesn't so much ask the question Where to?, but rather Wherefore?

Hire thee hence. There is no flagfall. The journeys are free, exciting, enlightening, insightful. The destinations varied & endless. This is a gypsy cab.
 
annoydne
Even though it is
often said make yr
own path, it's by
following the foot-
marks of others
that most of the
journey is covered,
the first part, any-
way.
 

MayDay


 
ah, nostalgia, when the only war was the class war
 
 Posted by Hello