'Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking...'

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

a translation...

My Two Daughters (Mes deux filles), Victor Hugo

As the fine evening falls in the cool twilight,
one like a swan and the other like a dove,
beautiful, and both happy - o sweetness!
See, the big sister and the little sister 
sit at the garden’s threshold, and above them
a clutch of white carnations with long frail stems,
stirred in a marble urn by the wind,
leans, immobile and living, to look at them,
and flutters in the dark, at the lip of the vase,
like a flight of butterflies caught in ecstasy.

The original:

Dans le frais clair-obscur du soir charmant qui tombe,
L'une pareille au cygne et l'autre à la colombe,
Belle, et toutes deux joyeuses, ô douceur !
Voyez, la grande soeur et la petite soeur
Sont assises au seuil du jardin, et sur elles
Un bouquet d'oeillets blancs aux longues tiges frêles,
Dans une urne de marbre agité par le vent,
Se penche, et les regarde, immobile et vivant,
Et frissonne dans l'ombre, et semble, au bord du vase,

Un vol de papillons arrêté dans l'extase.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

a translation...

Tomorrow, at daybreak... (Demain, dès aube...), Victor Hugo

Tomorrow, at daybreak, when the land whitens,
I will depart. You see, I know you await me.
I will go by the forest, I will go by the mountain.
I can remain far from you no longer.

I will walk with eyes fixed on my thoughts,
seeing nothing outside, hearing no sound,
alone, unknown, back bent, and hands crossed,
sad, and the day for me will be as night.

I will not regard the golden dusk that falls,
nor the far sails going down to Harfleur,
and when I arrive, I will place on your tomb
a bouquet of green holly and heather in flower. 

The original:

Demain, dès l'aube, à l'heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m'attends.
J'irai par la forêt, j'irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l'or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j'arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

writers really do suffer you know...

     So I've read from time to time about people settling down to write The Novel. They set daily goals for themselves, don't you know. I've seen them set for themselves as many as two thousand words a day.
     Two thousand words. Give that a moment.
     Below you'll find today's contribution to my Novel. It is two hundred nineteen words long. Don't worry if you don't know what's going on, that's not the point. The point is that this cost me three hours of labor. Three hours, two hundred nineteen words, for a full day's work. Nor is that unusual for me. I consider anything over two hundred words at a sitting to be a decent haul. Three hundred is astonishing. What's more, I've usually mulled over the work for several days before I can write it down. Finally, it can sometimes take me many more hours to reach that two hundred words.
     That's about a page at a time, written at an agonizingly slow pace.
     How in the hell are people banging out two thousand words a day? Whatever. Without further ado, I give you today's haul. It is a crucial transition in the early part of the story, and again, it took three hours to make. Le sigh.

     He started as the phone rang yet again. He had been lulled to sleep it seemed long ago, yet another dreamless sleep followed by that vague memory of something, something he had no time to ponder as he reached for that phone.
     ‘I trust you’re enjoying your flight.’
     The voice on the other end was new, an older man’s voice, somewhat wispy to the mechanic’s ear.
     ‘It’s been pleasant enough,’ he replied.
     ‘Good.’ There was a pause, then ‘You sound like him.’
     The mechanic considered the darkness outside his window. ‘Who?’
     ‘Your father.’
     ‘Yeah, I hear I have his chin as well.’
     Silence for almost a minute, then ‘When you arrive, we’ll make sure you get to your hotel. In your room you’ll find a tablet with all the particulars. If you need anything, our man will take care of it.’ After another pause, ‘Do you have any pertinent questions?’
     ‘Sure. How did you know the Old Man?’
     After an even longer pause, punctuated by the other man’s wispy breathing, ‘Do enjoy the rest of your flight.’
     At that, the call ended abruptly. The mechanic checked the phone log. The last call was from a blocked number. ‘Of course,’ he said aloud, tossing the phone onto the next seat. 
     With that, he stretched out and fell asleep again. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

     Insomnia in Kansas City - sounds like a pulp novel.

Monday, January 5, 2015

think he knows what he sounds like?

Neil deGrasse Tyson just never fails to disappoint. Some comments on his comments from way back in 2011:

'The Bible (public library; free ebook), to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself' - others like NDGT.

'On the Origin of Species (public library; free ebook) by Charles Darwin, to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth' - way, way more to this book; Darwin's synthesis of the Sublime [Deep Time from Lyell et al] with Victorian Efficiency [Malthus's dystopian despair] is a tour de force - yes, you should read the book; if you want to learn of 'our kinship with all other life on Earth' there are books in addition to Darwin's that make it quite plain, books like, say, the Bible.

'The Wealth of Nations (public library; free ebook) by Adam Smith, to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself' - wrong, sorry, thank you for playing; that is not what you get from Adam Smith, and only a prejudiced, and scattered, reading would yield such a conclusion; whether, on the other hand, you find Smith persuasive on his own terms is another matter.

'The System of the World (public library; free ebook) by Isaac Newton, to learn that the universe is a knowable place' - again, way too simple for such a complex, demanding, and world-building work; if you don't know how to follow complex geometric arguments, some remedial work is in order before you read Newton's great system; the ontology implicit in the work is fascinating, and bears some resemblance to that implicit in the works of Milton, another arch-heretic whom I can't help but love.

Friday, December 26, 2014

calling a work of art 'pretentious' is actually pretty pretentious...

     There's a certain philistinism that likes to sneer at a great works of art because they're 'incomprehensible', while praising the latest comic book franchise or Doctor Who series, as if all depth of meaning and beauty of expression amount to nothing more than pretense. I've always been suspicious of the charge that a work of art is 'pretentious'. So, the work either goes over your head or is too deep for you to appreciate it. That's actually a good thing. It has nothing to do with pretense on the part of either the artist or the work. Perhaps you just need to shut up, sit down, and learn something. That it might take you a lifetime to even begin to understand a great work of art is not a fault in the work, but simply a feature of human existence.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

just occurred to me..

     So, one day we'll get to meet the shepherds who adored the newborn Jesus. How cool is that?

Monday, December 15, 2014

a small rant...

     I love it when some tendentious comparison is made between the US and some European country or another, usually to the effect that all would be well and all manner of thing would be well were the US to adopt whatever pet policy is on offer. It is often some dreary Scandinavian country with a tiny, homogenous population, a correspondingly minuscule budget, and no international relations of any kind. Norway seems to be rather popular for this at the moment, but Finland (which is not, technically, Scandinavian, but o well whatevs) has its share of devout followers. Yes, I suppose we could all be taciturn troll-hunters if so moved, but only if we lived in a small, mostly uninhabitable northern wasteland where the hobbies are burning churches, raising taxes, and suicide. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

on the other hand...

     In all candor, show me another polity that would allow itself to be so wracked (!) over the use of torture by its agents. There are a few I'm sure, but not that many. How often does China go into public paroxysms of doubt and moral self-excoriation over its labor camps and summary executions? Think there's a lot of *public* soul-searching in the halls of the Kremlin for all the world to see? Do we still await that very public report on the appalling condition of prisons in France, set within a system that demands the accused prove his innocence against a presumption of guilt, and where the judge is empowered to determine if the accused can even mount a case? But yes, Brutus is an honorable man etcetera. (Again, this isn't about particular souls in their private cells contemplating their culpability in the light of eternity.) There's something unique about a place where, yes, it takes forever to get at the truth, and yes, there are always those who offer public apologies for the worst offenses, but where, yes, people rise up and put their very polity and its laws to the test in light of its worst failures. I do much wonder what more we can expect this side of the Second Coming.

just an observation...

     I confess that it sometimes seems to me that many who live here would just as soon US society finally collapse. It's as if these people can't wait for the next financial crisis, or a massive oil spill, or some geophysical calamity created by a confluence of widespread fracking and the reactivation of long-forgotten fault-lines. We just can't punish ourselves enough you see for all the evil we have unleashed. If only we had remained aloof and neutral, this idyllic world would have advanced to ever greater tolerance and peace, but no, we had to go and wreak havoc with our imperial ambitions and our obsession with oil. For this, and many other failures, our doom is certain, and certainly at hand. It cannot come swiftly enough for these confident yet casual observers, for all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well when all Americans wear hair shirts and eke out livings as latter day Hobbits (nasty little bastards with their blood and soil *sense of place*). Then, once we have purged ourselves of the guilt of having existed in a terrible history which we did not create, we can rest easy in the New Kingdom. It's a nightmare whose consummation is devoutly desired by many.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

46 years ago Thomas Merton died, so here's a poem...

A Dream

     Dante and Li Po wandered along a lakeshore.  Li Po wished to dive in after the moon’s reflection.  Dante held him back. 
     Later, they drank wine, exchanged verses.  Dante offered, ‘As a cunning man cures ills with his secret knowledge, so will our occult friendship heal these wounds of exile.’  Li Po responded, ‘I’ll return to my porch, drink some hot wine, and think of you always while watching the stars.’ 
     Li Po sadly kept vigil, for the moon’s reflection faded as the sun rose.  After exchanging gifts with Li Po and taking his leave, Dante dove in seeking a stone long come to rest on the bottom.  Li Po was too drunk to stop him. 
     After waiting a while, Li Po gathered his cup, his wine, his walking stick, and wandered away through the mist.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

a little whine with breakfast...

     It's five in the morning. I've been up since about three.
     That's it. Nothing more profound to report, just that I've already been up and moving about for two hours and it's not even properly o'dark-thirty. O, and I have to work today.
     This is going to be the best day ever.

Monday, December 1, 2014

while I have your attention...

     So, you people know it's just a trailer, right? And that the original movies weren't that good, right?
     Hello? Is there anybody out there?

too many books!

     It is time once again for a book purge. This one will not be as extensive as the last one, but it will no doubt inflict some pain. Already two boxes of books destined from before the foundation of the universe for perdition stand by the back door, manifesting the glory of my terrible justice. As always, you cannot say why one books stays while another goes. It is only the decree of my inscrutable will that determines how the judgment will fall. Some books I love, some books I no longer love - it was but a temporary state of grace you see - while some books I neither love nor hate. With that, I return to my task. Peace out.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

faithless in little things...

     A string broke on my classical guitar. Around these parts, that's a big deal. Couldn't find any strings in any of the places you'd normally find 'em, which shows how negligent I have been in this vital spiritual matter. Until tomorrow, she will remain mute and practically entombed in her case.
     Advent is a season of repentance, and I see now that I have much to do in a short time.

This terrifies me.

you guys sure are weird...

     I'm ever so fond of my friends near and far, but for the life of me it sometimes feels like we come from different worlds. I suppose that's the Way it's meant to be, and it doesn't bother me in the least (well, sometimes it does, but that's life in the Big City you know). 
     Still, my friends, you'll lose me - in the sense that I won't understand you - if you make references to, inter alia: Doctor Who at too great a level of detail (which Doctor is which, how they dressed, who the Bad Guys were and are, what's happened in the last three years, etc); Star Wars as though it's still a Thing; Tolkien, because he's overrated and most of us are not in high school anymore; any of C S Lewis's fiction, and almost all of his nonfiction (his criticism is, oddly, rarely mentioned though it's quite good); Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, mostly because I think they suck; comic books; video games after 1989; most anything intended strictly 'for children' (this goes all the way back to when I was a child); Gilbert & Sullivan (I only know a couple of lines because they're in other movies or television shows); etc. Any mention of Chesterton is likely to make me want to strangle a puppy, especially if it's a clever quote meant to Explain Something Important.
     None of that is evil (well, Chesterton...), it's just from another world. So I love y'all, my friends, but I really don't know what the hell you're talking about half the time.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

why not post a low quality photo of myself?

Your humble chef and factotum. I look like an escaped convict who broke into the house and decided to do some cooking.

Um, sorry for the mess. I made eggnog.

an interim report...

     Last night we completed Phase 1 of Thanksgiving Cookingpalooza 2014 by making stew and biscuits. I also confected The Nog and prepped for Phase 2, a Thanksgiving breakfast of french toast served with The Nog after it has chilled several hours. I am pleased to report that Phase 2 was a smashing success. The Nog goes well with french toast, o yes it does. 
     We've already begun Phase 3. I sautéed onions, celery, mushrooms, etc, for the dressing. I also made a wine/brandy/stock mixture for said dressing. Now Lea Ann has taken over the kitchen to prepare The Bird. Later I will make my Insanely Good Mashed Potatoes. O, and there is still plenty of The Nog in the refrigerator.
     Here endeth the interim report on Thanksgiving Cookingpalooza 2014. I'll leave you with these words from the Reverend MacLean in A River Runs Through It: 'I'd say the Lord has blessed us all today. It's just that he's been particularly good to me' 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a couple of things in the news...

     Somehow I've never thought of cricket. 
     Seriously, cricket never crosses my mind, or at least it didn't until this morning. Now that I have thought of cricket, the sport doesn't look that violent to me. Yet there's this guy named Phillip Hughes you see, and he's on death's door, felled during a cricket match of all things. 
     O, and they've thrown a proper riot in Ferguson, which will no doubt make things all better. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

help out a writer with too many books and not enough time...

     I seek a patron, one reasonably indifferent to what I do as long as the requisite sonnets and epithalamia appear at the appointed times. If you know anyone who would like to set me up with $3k a week, let me know.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

the gospel according to Beckett...

     As always, Sam’s wisdom is apt to the day: ‘All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

so you know...

I've been up since 2:30am. That's all. Suffering needs no embellishment. 

pre-flight whining...

Why do people insist on bringing bags bigger than Cadillacs onto the plane? They're wedging the damn things into the overhead compartments with crowbars and frontloaders. This is why it takes fifteen hours for everyone to find their seats.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

South Park Tells About the Foundation of Mormonism and Joseph Smith

This about sums it up.

only God and the Marines are up that early...

     I must rise at o'dark-thirty in the morning to catch my flight to Jacksonville. That's 3am in human time, which is about when I like to fall asleep. So, it should be a doddle, a cinch, a lark, a piece of cake, a walk in the park...

my very own modest proposal...

     While we're killing children for convenience and profit, we might as well use the opportunity to see who really means what they say. So, I propose we decree that those who declare themselves 'Pro Choice,' either by explicit statement or by the votes they cast and their common associations, must register to kill an unborn child before they will be allowed once again to vote, hold office, serve on a jury, drive a car, register for a firearm, or legally work in the US. What's more, each of the killings must be of a child at four months development or later. 
     The use of proxies for these killings would be forbidden. Under the supervision of licensed professionals, those who are 'Pro Choice' must themselves deliver the chemicals to burn the child to death, or they must dismember the child. If need be, they must partially deliver the child, insert the scissors, and suck out the child's complex brain so as to make the skull collapse. No one who is 'Pro Choice' would be exempt for any reason. 
     (Those who have openly declared themselves 'Pro Life,' but who exhibit all the proclivities of those who are 'Pro Choice,' will be required to participate in this program.)
     Those who complete the killing of an unborn child will be given a tattoo signifying their willingness to kill a helpless human person who is completely vulnerable and at their mercy. After being given their special tattoo insignia, they will also be given the remains of the unborn child they killed as a reminder of their special day. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I've wandered into a Stephen King novel. 
Did you ever have the feeling that something was fighting you, something you couldn't see? 

Yeah, you're right, that's crazy talk.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

just noodling about...

     Won't do a job that requires neckties. The damn things should only be worn at funerals to signify the absurdity of death. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Denys Turner on Julian of Norwich...

     Turner spins an argument that I find challenging, since for years I have been on the 'Scotist' side of that great divide about the 'necessity' of the Incarnation. In short, so the question goes, would the Second Person of the Trinity have become incarnate had Humanity not sinned? Mine has been a kind of 'soft Scotist' answer to that question, inasmuch as on the one hand I find it a bit pointless given that Humanity did in fact sin, while on the other hand I would never confess that the Fall took God by surprise. He had no need for an emergency remedy, yet the Incarnation is a remedy indeed.
     So, to Turner we go.
     'And the reason why Julian would appear to have less need of this Scotist distinction is that she has less trouble with seeing the Fall as behovely, because for her the divine end of self-disclosure in glorified humanity is most fully achieved precisely through the single complex event of the Fall and its remedy. Creation, Fall, and Redemption are all of a piece with one another, embodying in their conjunction the primary and only motive of the Incarnation.
     '...Within that providential act the Fall is indeed a crucial element, but not as if standing outside it and as if necessitating it causally. That, of course, was the principal burden of the example of the Lord and the Servant: Adam's fall and the falling of the divine Word into Mary's womb are one and the same falling. Hence Julian, unlike Scotus, has no need to distinguish between what God would have willed absolutely had human beings not in fact fallen, and a secondary motivation arising out of the fact that human beings did in fact do so. From all eternity "sin is behovely." That is all we can know as governing the Incarnation's necessity, because all you need to know by way of answering Anselm's question is that "it is a joy, a blisse, and endlesse liking to me that ever I sufferd passion for the[e]."'

bears repeating...

     '...it is never unequivocally clear who God is. The one for whom we live and die, whom we love or hate, who possesses us in our inmost being, yields the evidence. If this is so, then Christianity is not merely akin to conviction, even less a mere religious doctrine, or conversely a particular morality within a limited social sphere. Rather it is worldwide service in the discipleship of Jesus and in resistance to superstition. What is determinative is the tie to the Lord, who was crucified on Golgotha, ' Ernst Kasemann.

Friday, October 17, 2014

flee the madness while there's time!

     So, one sign that I should flee the Proper Job came in the form of an email to 'all employees', in which we were informed of an important update to company policies. Seems that twenty years is sufficient to earn four weeks of vacation. That's right, after twenty years, you can have your four weeks, but wait - don't try to take 'em all at once.
     What the hell? First you tell me I have to work on Sundays - which, mind you, contradicts what they told me at the interview - and now this? I mean, the hideous break room with the blaring television and the sea of dead eyes I can endure, sort of, but this manhandling of my time is beyond the pale. 

     Y'all fight so hard for these jahbs. Why? I'm happily returning to the world of independent contractors. Join me. It's harder at times, yes, and there is no job security to speak of, but you set your own hours, pay your own way to earning as much as you want (it's running a business you see), no one can legally bark orders at you, and you can take as much time off as you please. Walk toward the light, my friends, walk toward the light. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

something from Dame Julian...

     'The blewhed of the clothyng betokenyth his stedfastnesse. The brownhed of his feyer face with the semely blackhede of the eyen was most accordyng to shew his holy sobyrnesse. The largnesse of his clothyng, whych was feyer, flammyng about, betokenyth that he hath beclosyd in hym all hevyns and all endlesse joy and blysse. And this was shewed in a touch, wher I saw that my understandyng was led in to the lorde, in whych I saw hym heyly enjoye for the worschypfull restoryng that he wyll and shall bryng hys servanunt to by hys plentuous grace,' Shewings XIV.51. 
     I now have a sign on the wall by the desk in my home office that reads DON'T BE PRUDENT. 
     Wisdom, let us attend.

things to do, people to annoy...

     Tomorrow morning I have a few things to do. First, I quit my job. Then, it's time for a lovely omelette at a diner that has the best iced tea as well. Perhaps I'll have the fried potatoes as well with some salt and pepper. That'll hit the spot.