Tuesday, January 26, 2016

VW Bus Life

We lived in that psychedelic painted VW bus,
slept, ate, had sex in it.
Heading to California playing The Beach Boys,
Grand Funk, and The Mama’s & Papa’s
'California Dreaming' over and over again,
cross country on that last trip, tripping our way
three weeks to San Francisco, and that
goodbye scene before boarding my military flight
to Vietnam.
- fanniesson, "VW Bus" (cir 1966)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mayfly Living

Open my eyes
For the first and last time
Spreading my wings
I already knew how to fly
For today is the beginning of my end

Seeing the sunrise first
Seeing the sunset to my last
Born to the end of time
This is the story of the mayfly
For today is the beginning of my end

Rising to the fresh air
Following the rays of the sun
Yet for tomorrow will never be my day
For today is my first and last
For today is the beginning of my end

Why do I have to die?
For I already knew my time
To produce children with the same wife
There is no time to cry
For today is the beginning of my end

This curse lives on
Time does not take too long
To follow me? I am already gone
My life as the mayfly story full of sorrow
For today is the beginning of my end

I can't depend on the moon
My time is too soon
The day is falling to a stop
My wings are beginning to drop
For today is the beginning of my end

I am drowsy
My time is near
I can't no longer fear
For I ran out of tears
For today is the beginning of my end

My children will have the same fate
I need to complain
Still to weak to fly
I am ready to die
I finally reached my end
For this is the story of the mayfly
I need to be reborn again
For my life was not well spent
- Elisha De La Rosa, "The Mayfly" (11-7-09)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Becoming....

It happens again
As soon as I take down her book and open it.

I turn the page.
My skies rise higher and hang younger stars.

The ship's rail freezes.
Mare Hibernicum leads to Anne Bradstreet's coast.

A blackbird leaves her pine trees
And lands in my spruce trees.

I open my door on a Dublin street.
Her child/her words are staring up at me:

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i' th' house I find.

We say home truths
Because her words can be at home anywhere—

At the source, at the end and whenever
The book lies open and I am again

An Irish poet watching an English woman
Become an American poet.
- Eavan Boland, "Becoming Anne Bradstreet"

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Backwoods Living

Barbecued
chicken wing
sticky and sweet
corn bread
black eyed
peas and pig feet
water melon
on the table
country fried
neighbors
and their
country music playing
rainfall
wakes the sleeping heads
and toes
just a few
moments of pleasure
that comes and goes
Dorsey Baker, "Backwoods"

Monday, January 18, 2016

Imagining Bond Girls

Back in my extra days, someone once swore
she’d seen me in the latest James Bond film.

I tried to tell her that they only hired
the really glamorous leggy types for that.
(My usual casting was ‘a passer-by’.)

I’ve passed the lot in Pinewood Studios.
It’s factory-like, grey aluminium, vast
and always closed. Presumably that’s where
they smash up all the speedboats, cars and bikes
we jealous viewers never could afford.

I quite enjoyed the books. Ian Fleming wrote well.
I could identify a touch with Bond,
liking to have adventure in my life.
The girls were something else. All that they earned
for being perfect samples of their kind –
Black, Asian, White – blonde, redhead or brunette,
groomed, beauty-parlourised, pleasing in bed,
mixing Martinis that were shaken not stirred,
using pearl varnish on their nails not red –
was death. A night (or 2) with 007,
then they were gilded till they could not breathe,
chucked to the sharks, shot, tortured, carried off
or found, floating face downward in a pool.
- Fiona Pitt-Kethley, "Bond Girl"

Monday, January 11, 2016

Agoge

'We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything."
- William Golding, "Lord of the Flies"

Friday, January 8, 2016

Heartbeat Levels

Maybe you die twice in life.
One time:
when your own heart
stops beating.
And a second time:
when their heart
starts beating
for someone else.
- Steph Arcadia, "Heartbeat" (4/17/14)

Franz List to the Countess (1856)


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Acheronta Movebo

Habits are thus the very stuff our identities are made of: in them, we enact and thus define what we effectively are as social beings, often in contrast with our perception of what we are - in their very transparency, they are the medium of social violence. Back in 1937, George Orwell deployed the ambiguity of the predominant Leftist attitude towards the class difference:
We all rail against class-distinctions, but very few people seriously want to abolish them. Here you come upon the important fact that every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed. /.../ So long as it is merely a question of ameliorating the worker's lot, every decent person is agreed. /.../ But unfortunately you get no further by merely wishing class-distinctions away. More exactly, it is necessary to wish them away, but your wish has no efficacy unless you grasp what it involves. The fact that has got to be faced is that to abolish class-distinctions means abolishing a part of yourself. Here am I, a typical member of the middle class. It is easy for me to say that I want to get rid of class-distinctions, but nearly everything I think and do is a result of class-distinctions. /.../ I have got to alter myself so completely that at the end I should hardly be recognizable as the same person.
Orwell's point is that radicals invoke the need for revolutionary change as a kind of superstitious token that should achieve the opposite, i.e., PREVENT the change from really occurring - a today's academic Leftist who criticizes the capitalist cultural imperialism is in reality horrified at the idea that his field of study would really break down. There is, however, a limit to this strategy: Orwell's insight holds only for a certain kind of "bourgeois" Leftists; there are Leftists who DO HAVE the courage of their convictions, who do not only want "revolution without revolution," as Robespierre put it - Jacobins and Bolsheviks, among others... The starting point of these true revolutionaries can be the very position of the "bourgeois" Leftists; what happens is that, in the middle of their pseudo-radical posturing, they get caught into their own game and are ready to put in question their subjective position. It is difficult to imagine a more trenchant political example of the weight of Lacan's distinction between the "subject of the enunciated" and the "subject of the enunciation": first, in a direct negation, you start by wanting to "change the world" without endangering the subjective position from which you are ready to enforce the change; then, in the "negation of negation," the subject enacting the change is ready to pay the subjective price for it, to change himself, or, to quote Gandhi's nice formula, to BE himself the change he wants to see in the world. - It is thus clear to Orwell that, in our ideological everyday, our predominant attitude is that of an ironic distance towards our true beliefs:
the left-wing opinions of the average 'intellectual' are mainly spurious. From pure imitativeness he jeers at things which in fact he believes in. As one example out of many, take the public-school code of honor, with its 'team spirit' and 'Don't hit a man when he's down', and all the rest of that familiar bunkum. Who has not laughed at it? Who, calling himself an 'intellectual', would dare not to laugh at it? But it is a bit different when you meet somebody who laughs at it from the outside; just as we spend our lives in abusing England but grow very angry when we hear a foreigner saying exactly the same things. /.../ It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realize what your own beliefs really are.
There is nothing "inner" in this true ideological identity of mine - my innermost beliefs are all "out there," embodied in practices which reach up to the immediate materiality of my body - "my notions-notions of good and evil, of pleasant and unpleasant, of funny and serious, of ugly and beautiful - are essentially middle-class notions; my taste in books and food and clothes, my sense of honor, my table manners, my turns of speech, my accent, even the characteristic movements of my body"... One should definitely add to this series smell: perhaps the key difference between lower popular class and middle class concerns the way they relate to smell. For the middle class, lower classes smell, their members do not wash regularly - or, to quote the proverbial answer of a middle-class Parisian to why he prefers to ride the first class cars in the metro: "I wouldn't mind riding with workers in the second class - it is only that they smell!" This brings us to one of the possible definitions of what a Neighbor means today: a Neighbor is the one who by definition smells. This is why today deodorants and soaps are crucial - they make neighbors at least minimally tolerable: I am ready to love my neighbors... provided they don't smell too bad. According to a recent report, scientists in a laboratory in Venezuela added a further element to these series: through genetic manipulations, they succeeded in growing beans which, upon consumption, do not generate the bad-smelling and socially embarrassing winds! So, after decaf coffee, fat-free cakes, diet cola and alcohol-free beer, we now get wind-free beans... Lacan supplemented Freud's list of partial objects (breast, faeces, penis) with two further objects: voice and gaze. Perhaps, we should add another object to this series: smell.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Tolerance as an Ideological Category"