Should start hacking more. Or posting about hacks? Haven't been writing anything terribly interesting lately though. Lots of config updates, work stuff, odds and ends. Little of substance. So in lieu of that, some soul nourishing poetry. Been reading more Milosz lately; Second Space, in particular. There are several really lovely pieces, here's one:
A Stay My stay in that city was like a dream And the dream lasted for years.
I was, in fact, not interested in anything So long as I heard a voice dictating verses.
And in that way I invented a life, And thus my destiny was being fulfilled.
Some people believed I was theirs, So they put trust in my disguises.
I reproach myself for that, For I wanted to be different, Trustworthy, brave, noble-minded.
Later on I would only say: why reach so high? I am and will be lame, Which is no one's concern.
It's time to spend an afternoon at the High Museum of Art. But first, I've found a new poet: Wislawa Szymborska.
I'm Working On The World I'm working on the world, revised, improved edition, featuring fun for fools, blues for brooders, combs for bald pates, tricks for old dogs.
Here's one chapter: The Speech of Animals and Plants. Each species comes, of course, with its own dictionary. Even a simple "Hi there", when traded with a fish, makes both the fish and you feel quite extraordinary.
The long-suspected meanings of rustlings, chirps, and growls! Soliloquies of forests! The epic hoots of owls! Those crafty hedgehogs drafting aphorisms after dark, while we blindly believe they're sleeping in the park!
Time (Chapter Two) retains its sacred right to meddle in each earthly affair. Still, time's unbounded power that makes a mountain crumble, moves seas, rotates a star, won't be enough to tear lovers apart: they are too naked, too embraced, too much like timid sparrows.
Old age is, in my book, the price that felons pay, so don't whine that it's steep: you'll stay young if you're good. Suffering (Chapter Three) doesn't insult the body. Death? It comes in your sleep, exactly as it should.
When it comes, you'll be dreaming that you don't need to breathe; that breathless silence is the music of the dark and it's part of the rhythm to vanish like a spark.
Only a death like that. A rose could prick you harder, I suppose; you'd feel more terror at the sound of petals falling to the ground.
Only a world like that. To die just that much. And to live just so. And all the rest is Bach's fugue, played for the time being on a saw.
Today is my 25th birthday. So far I've mostly done chores: grocery shopping, laundry, handing over the keys to my old apartment, odds and ends. And, by design, I don't have any social plans for this afternoon or evening. I'm usually pretty pensive and melancholy around my birthday. This year continues the trend. Generally, when my birthday is coming up I think, "Okay. You've gotten this far and accomplished this much. Maybe it wasn't all you wanted but at least you're further than last year. What's next?" Not the best party conversation. :)
In all fairness, it's been a good year. I finally finished my undergrad degree, got my first job as a professional programmer (a damn good job at that), and moved into an apartment with one of my oldest and dearest friends. That said, I've been struggling a lot lately. A large part of that is because I don't know what I want for myself anymore or what my goals are. Personal relationships both romantic and otherwise, career ambitions and hobbies all seem up in the air. It's had me feeling pretty mixed up. I can't say I'm terribly proud of where I am at 25. Oh, well. I'll certainly enjoy taking some time off this winter to try and sort through things more. At least I've had fun hacking on Andy Hefner's Shuffletron (a Common Lisp command line app, something I have *some* experience with...) music player lately. The main changes so far have been to add playlists and a long TODO file. It's a fun diversion until I get ever so slightly more acclimated to my professional coding life and come up with a serious project that will push me more.
It's been hard to post lately for two reasons. The first is that I've simply been busy. The second is that I haven't had much to say. My thoughts are jumbled. The same thing happened last year and like last year I'm going to borrow some of the words of my favorite poet, Czeslaw Milosz. Wherever you are, thanks for reading this far and I hope the sun is bright and your world is well.
Conversations with Jeanne
Let us not talk philosophy, drop it, Jeanne. So many words, so much paper, who can stand it. I told you the truth about distancing myself. I've stopped worrying about my misshapen life. It was no better and no worse than the usual human tragedies.
For over thirty years we have been waging our dispute As we do now, on the island under the skies of the tropics. We flee a downpour, in an instant the bright sun again, And I grow dumb, dazzled by the emerald essence of the leaves.
We submerge in foam at the line of the surf, We swim far, to where the horizon is a tangle of banana bush, With little windmills of palms. And I am under accusation: That I am not up to my oeuvre, That I do not demand enough from myself, As I could have learned from Karl Jaspers, That my scorn for the opinions of this age grows slack.
I roll on a wave and look at white clouds.
You are right, Jeanne, I don't know how to care about the salvation of my soul. Some are called, others manage as well as they can. I accept it, what has befallen me is just. I don't pretend to the dignity of a wise old age. Untranslatable into words, I chose my home in what is now, In things of this world, which exist and, for that reason, delight us: Nakedness of women on the beach, coppery cones of their breasts, Hibiscus, alamanda, a red lily, devouring With my eyes, lips, tongue. Guava juice, the juice of la prune de Cythere, Rum with ice and syrup, lianas-orchids In a rain forest, where trees stand on the stilts of their roots.
Death you say, mine and yours, closer and closer, We suffered and this poor earth was not enough. The purple-black earth of vegetable gardens Will be here, either looked at or not. The sea, as today, will breathe from its depths. Growing small, I disappear in the immense, more and more free.
I was never comfortable talking about the soul of my generation. I often feel I'm just growing acquainted with them before I decide there is no soul, no essence. Never was.
Souls are just peculiarities, after all. And I had to give up on undecidable problems some years back. The unknowable held my head underwater until I relented, suffocating.
But I've been baring and burying bits of my soul since I've been here. I lost some to a splinter. And the hand I squeezed as it was removed piece by piece. I bared it to a pastor who I doubt understood why I found myself so insufficient.
I left some with a drunk girl who taught me compassion, a faithful girl who taught me guilt, one made of tornadoes who forced me to take a chance and another still who showed me what it feels like to make a home inside someone else.
I squandered some on drugs. Drugs which stole from me both time and memory. Crashing around inside my brain in endless chemical nuptials. Tweak. Tweak.
I spread this thing in bits, countless bits, scattered on platters, fragments littered along buses, planes, cars, trains, in terminals and ports not of this world.
My soul is in all these places, hidden or in plain view. I can't tell you what it means. Or if there's meaning, anyway. I only know that's how it happened. Here I am. Where to next?
It's been a big weekend. I'm pretty exhausted and not entirely ready for the week to come but I'll have to get a good night's sleep and let that suffice as preparation. I'm still working on the weblocks/lisp stuff. Should have a blog article up by this Friday with any luck and there are plans for more in the series.
I enjoyed a friend's wedding in San Antonio the past two days. One thing I noticed today is that I never posted a Milosz poem that seemed appropriate to the weekend's events. I figured I would have by now. I'm quite fond of it so here it is, from Unattainable Earth, page 9:
Don't run any more. Quiet. How softly it rains On the roofs of the city. How perfect All things are. Now, for the two of you Waking up in a royal bed by a garret window. For a man and a woman. For one plant divided Into masculine and feminine which longed for each other. Yes, this is my gift to you. Above ashes On a bitter, bitter earth. Above the subterranean Echo of clamorings and vows. So that now at dawn You must be attentive: the tilt of a head, A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror Are only forever once, even if unremembered, So that you watch what is, though it fades away, And are grateful every moment for your being. Let that little park with greenish marble busts In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle, Remain as it was when you opened the gate. And the street of tall peeling porticos Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.
It's getting harder and harder to post. I'm done with summer classes. Two A's and a C, so Fall will have to be better. The C was in my easiest class funny enough. I've got 16 days of freedom left. Today was my birthday.
I felt compelled to post something...and I settled on poetry since I don't have my own words handy at the moment. I grabbed Neruda because I post too much Milosz and the page happened to fall open to this. It wasn't what I had in mind....but I might have to give up and just let it be.
Ah son, do you know, do you know where you come from?
From a lake with white and hungry gulls.
Next to the water of winter she and I raised a red bonfire wearing out our lips from kissing each other's souls, casting all into the fire, burning our lives.
That's how you came into the world.
But she, to see me and to see you, one day crossed the seas and I, to clasp her tiny waist, walked all the earth, with wars and mountains, with sands and thorns.
That's how you came into the world.
You come from so many places, from the water and the earth, from the fire and the snow, from so far away you journey toward the two of us, from the terrible love that has enchanted us, that we want to know what you're like, what you say to us, because you know more about the world we gave you.
Like a great storm we shook the tree of life down to the hiddenmost fibers of the roots and you appear now singing in the foliage, in the highest branch that with you we reach.
PS: The more I read Stephen O'Grady and Charles Stross (and I've only read Accelerando and Halting State...and his blog over the last 3 months) the dumber I feel and the more I'm aware of how much I don't know but want to know.
It's been a long time since I've posted. I meant to take it easy on myself with blogging this year but not that easy. It has been a damn crazy year so far though. Thankfully, I've had a good time writing code and picking up an old hobby or two. I've been playing Magic the Gathering again (I know, I'm a nerd). The sun is out and my skateboarding is markedly less crappy than a few months ago. But I miss writing.
Today I'm posting a piece I started a few weeks ago. I'm still not quite pleased with it (it seems a bit over the top) but I probably never will be. I think I'll just call it "Words".
I remember having words and never knowing whence they came. I often stumbled into them, embarassing myself before greater edifices to literature. Though I had no hope of greatness, of poetry, I miss that corpus into which I could pour: childish thoughts and old desperation, longings and abstract hopes for things I even still cannot name.
Where did my words all run off to? I used to fit into them so nicely. A bit of my foot in this one, a leg in that one. Even a nice place for my fingers to keep me from grasping at everything, insatiable. I wore them around proudly, pointing to each in turn and saying, "Look! Here. This is who I am."
But these days I am naked and scared to venture outdoors. I still run into words sometimes. A few in the sink with the dirty dishes, others left in a coat pocket with a crumpled bill. Yet it is only by accident we are in the same place. My words are on fire and that's how I've been.
PS: You should all pay some attention to the new albums "Gorilla Manor" by the Local Natives and "Tourist History" by Two Door Cinema Club. They're helpful, also good for the spring season. Cheers.
PPS: Special thanks to Don Gerz and Max Kelley for accidentally providing motivational material to keep blogging.
It's been a long time since I've read poetry, as I related to a friend recently. I've wanted to get back to it and so poked through two volumes given to me by friends who know my love of poetry. I absolutely have to post one of the poems I read. The poem is taken from the book Good Poems, given to me by Don Gerz on my 22nd birthday. It was compiled by Garrison Keillor. It's called To be of use by Marge Piercy taken from p. 157. It's really outstanding. Someday I hope I work as well as those depicted...and find work as worth doing as that described.
The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who are not parlor generals and field deserters but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. Greek amphoras for wine or oil, Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums but you know they were made to be used. The pitched cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.
It used to drift in from across the hall in citrus hues and lilting arpeggios. There was no exhaustion and sleep was restful. We woke up, dogwood blossoms falling from our lips, sun streaming through the windows. Sundays there was french toast and the wind was always behind us. Camellias and magnolias filled our home and we moved about as though buoyed by hummingbird wings.
But now there is no hall there. So then there are no harmonies, no gentle crescendos. Once suffused by sweet melody, we dim. Stars go out. And just like that, the words all slipped from my mouth to the floor. I wish I had something more to tell you. I don't. The music has stopped.
I bombed a math quiz today. I mean, actually bombed. As in I think I got a zero. Guess it's time to go re-read the sections and redo the homework.
I wrote a poem recently about how progress is deceptive because it doesn't feel like progress. It feels like plodding along. But I was mostly just trying to convince myself. I don't think I really believe it.
I keep thinking to myself, "you've got a year or two to really excel. If you can't manage that, you'll be an average person. Forever." I have difficulty ascertaining whether or not my level of stress or ambition, for that matter, is appropriate.
Something I accidentally wrote on the bus ride home:
I never know why we put up with each other. The mystery of your flared temper or my sudden detachment. But we keep blowing along, buoyed by unseen currents and dancing in dwindling circles. I sometimes wish, might I cut the chase and stand in the center? But we are opposed magnets in a small room, unable to meet each other, unable to rest.
Hell with it. Here's some good sad bastard music just because.
Things have been fairly ridiculous for the last 10 days. I won't go into details because they concern some other people that might not want them discussed. That said, things have been fairly ridiculous and I've had a hard time focusing on doing schoolwork or anything else. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed by everything. I feel like I can't keep up with school and personal pursuits but that's far from the truth and I'm slowly trying to get my head together. That means it's time for something uplifting though and I've haven't posted any Milosz in a while so here we go.
Earth Again by Czeslaw Milosz, excerpted from Unattainable Earth pg. 8 They are incomprehensible, the things of this earth. The lure of waters. The lure of fruits. Lure of the two breasts and long hair of a maiden. In rouge, in vermillion, in that color of ponds Found only in the Green Lakes near Wilno. And ungraspable multitudes swarm, come together In the crinkles of tree bark, in the telescope's eye, For an endless wedding, For the kindling of the eyes, for a sweet dance In the elements of the air, sea, earth and subterranean caves, So that for a short moment there is no death And time does not unreel like a skein of yarn Thrown into an abyss.
PS: My bracket predictions have been correct for the berrics two out of two times thus far. Post some brackets people!
I meant to post an entry about all sorts of nerdy and interesting computer things I've been reading but it's been delayed. I'll probably regret posting this but it's the first thing I've written poetry-wise since July. It was sort of an experience.
I want the biggest hug I have inside me to swallow you up, Like the reals swallow the rationals. I don't want to go back to the beginning, I'd rather see forward to understand where I'm going. The whence question is imprecise and leads me down paths, many with thorns, and only more imprecise questions.
The waters remain muddy so I climb the ladder out until I find myself in clouds, fluffy and inarticulate. Floating amid a mass of almost fluid abstractions, they leak rain all over my parade. I want to be more than you, encompass you, surpass you.
I lost sight of God just over a distant moon. I hope I didn't offend him, my absent-mindedness is often misperceived. But his opinion is not my concern. I must be ever mindful that even if I find him and think God is everywhere, that my invention is my own and is fractal ...or homoiconic. I cannot trust myself.
I rode the solar winds further up to get a better view but everything was opaque, only more black boxes. I couldn't fathom how to measure the cardinality so I counted off an Aleph One, resolved to return once I was the wiser. Higher still then until I saw it.
Our patchwork universe was being held together by holes. Dark holes which pulled at us as the drain does the droplets. And this was too much for me. I know my monkey brain is too small.
And then I saw you. I remembered, "A ha. I''ve left my sphere." And I looked back and saw it. I'm not sure how long it will last.
It didn't look like much. Small and dirty and ignorant. But I saw a quiet room on a sunday flooded with light and you.
I'm less than my best this morning. I woke up exhausted, I struggled towards the office. I met a Microsoft developer on the train. You could tell from the Silverlight and CodingHorror stickers on his laptop. He seemed like a nice enough guy. However, he was going south towards Downtown and the only Atlanta office listed on the microsoft site is in Alpharetta. Was he fooling me? Is there an unlisted office? Who knows.
I don't believe I have enough of a work ethic. Surely, I would be more than I am if that were the case. Enough of that talk, it tires me already. I read some Neruda a moment ago. It's beautiful enough that I'm compelled to post it. It's taken from his book Extravagaria and titled Soliloquy at Twilight.
Given that now perhaps we are seriously alone, I mean to ask some questions- we'll speak man to man.
With you, with that passerby, with those born yesterday, with all those who died, and with those to be born tomorrow, I want to speak without being overheard, without them always whispering, without things getting changed in ears along the way.
Well then, where from, where to? What made you decide to be born? Do you know that the world is small, scarcely the size of an apple, like a little hard stone, and that brothers kill each other for a fistful of dust?
For the dead there's land enough!
You know by now, or you will, that time is scarcely one day and a day is a single drop?
How will you be, how have you been? Sociable, talkative, silent? Are you going to outdistance those who where born with you? Or will you be sticking a pistol grimly into their kidneys?
What will you do with so many days left over, and even more, with so many missing days?
Do you know there's nobody in the streets and nobody in the houses?
There are only eyes in the windows.
If you don't have somewhere to sleep, knock on a door and it will open, open up to a certain point and you'll see it's cold inside, and that that house is empty and wants nothing to do with you; your stories are worth nothing, and if you insist on being gentle, the dog and cat will bite you.
Until later, till you forget me- I'm going, since I don't have time to ask the wind more questions.
I can scarcely walk properly, I'm in such a hurry. Somehwere they're waiting to accuse me of something and I have to defend myself; nobody knows what it's about except that it's urgent, and if I don't go, it will close, and how can I hold my own if I knock and nobody opens the door?
Until later, we'll speak before then. Or speak after, I don't remember, or perhaps we haven't even met or cannot communicate. I have these crazy habits- I speak, there is no one and I don't listen I ask myself questions and never answer.
There was a fragment of Milosz stuck in my head the last 24 hours that I wanted to track down and get out of my system. It was originally printed as an Inscript in Unattainable Earth but I found it reprinted in his New and Collected Poems on pgs. 412-413.
What did I really want to tell them? That I labored to transcend my place and time, searching for the Real. And here is my work done (commendably?), my life fulfilled, as it was destined to be, in grief. Now I appear to myself as one who was under the delusion of being his own while he was the subject of a style. Just as they were, so what if it was a different subjection. "Do you want white peacocks?-- I will give you white peacocks." And we could have been united only by what we have in common: the same nakedness in a garden beyond time, but the moments are short when it seems to me that, at odds with time, we hold each other's hands. And I drink wine and I shake my head and say: "What man feels and thinks will never be expressed."
I am not opposed to it. I lived fully and well, spending time perched in dogwoods and chairs to try and learn the lessons of machines, men and dogs in their cacophonous chorus.
I am not opposed to it. I eventually did settle with my own thoughts after years of combat. I knew rebellion, fought a long war and nurtured a false hope. Thankfully in the end my carapace had been punctured.
I am not opposed to it though I am weary of the dignity and the chase. Who are we to be so presumptuous? Who are we to assume that in our affairs we should be entitled to the presentation, if not the substance, for all our days?
I am not opposed to it though nod to a fear and hubris that is hard-argued as judgment. Still, if for a year I loved and loved well then I need not keep those cherished ones waiting.
I am not opposed to it. I recognized early that time was my valued asset and treated it accordingly. I fought for ground in a society enamored with the ephemeral. I won. Mistakes were made, the wrong losses suffered and less than the best gains accomplished. But in the end, I stand by my time.
I haven't posted, read or written much poetry in a while. I've been focused on other things and while I'm happy about how I've chosen to focus my energies I miss poetry. With that in mind, I stumbled across a Rilke poem this morning thanks to Tim O'Reilly and decided to reproduce it here.
Archaic Torso of Apollo We have no idea what his fantastic head was like, where the eyeballs were slowly swelling. But his body now is glowing like a lamp whose inner eyes, only turned down a little,
hold their flame, shine. If there weren't light, the curve of the breast wouldn't blind you, and in the swerve of the thighs a smile wouldn't keep on going toward the place where the seeds are.
If there weren't light, this stone would look cut off where it drops so clearly from the shoulders, its skin wouldn't gleam like the fur of a wild animal,
and the body wouldn't send out light from every edge as a star does...for there is no place at all that isn't looking at you. You must change your life.
This is a Czeslaw Milosz poem that should have found it's way here a long time ago. It's called Preparation.
Still one more year of preparation. Tomorrow at the latest I’ll start working on a great book In which my century will appear as it really was. The sun will rise over the righteous and the wicked. Springs and autumns will unerringly return. In a wet thicket a thrush will build his nest lined with clay And foxes will learn their foxy natures.
And that will be the subject, with addenda. Thus: armies Running across frozen plains, shouting a curse In a many-voiced chorus; the cannon of a tank Growing immense at the corner of a street; the ride at dusk Into a camp with watchtowers and barbed wire.
No, it won’t happen tomorrow. In five or ten years. I still think too much about the mothers And ask what is a man born of woman. He curls himself up and protects his head While he is kicked by heavy boots; on fire and running, He burns with a bright flame; a bulldozer sweeps him into a clay pit. Her child. Embracing a teddy bear. Conceived in ecstasy.
I haven’t learned yet to speak as I should, calmly.
This poem was unexpected but I blame it's inspiration on Hofstadter, The Feyerabend Project (particularly the Sussman quote at the end, NO ONE pays enough attention to the Sussman quote at the end), and the quants.
There is a dim luminescence on the edge of the world drawing close. I hardly see it's call but hear my heart rise on approach.
The things unnamed we can't contain, powerless we act in vain. The systems built stay brittle, break when under stress they cannot take. The deeper message anathema to our craven fantasies.
It may come for ill or gain and is not my place to complain, I know not what instruction awaits so idly move at pleasant gait. I hope the best for all of us, for meritocracies in which to trust, but utopia has no need of randomness with which the universe is enamored.
The glamor and gore of that midnight show I will not see and will not know. I'll laugh a good deal as I go but it speeds like a star's falling. If we find whatever defines the space where interaction takes it's place and emerging from names is a trace of self I shan't be surprised.
PS: I discovered that the Sussman quote at The Feyerabend Project was sourced from this paper. It may give some insight into all this.
These words are caught food from the flipping plate, recorded here for your careful entertainment, your frolicking scrutiny. But I can't help wondering what I missed which fell in the sea, and what shore those words finally washed upon. Mostly, I wish they were here.
I had a lovely weekend. Good conversations tend to do that. I wasn't actually productive but maybe my brain was just digesting all that talk during my leisure. Also, my OLPC XO finally arrived. I've had some fun with it though there are things to get used to. I'm trying to get it set up to work with my needs a bit better which essentially means getting Gambit-C and emacs-nox installed. I'm also throwing XFCE on it for a more conventional work environment. Also, I can confirm that The National's album Boxer was the best album of 2007 that I've heard. It's phenomenal. I'll post more on all that later.
I really feel like I should read something tasty about Ontologies and Knowledge Representations or maybe Peer Production. I don't know. I need to empty my head out. Finally, here's a tasty Neruda poem to start off the week but it's behind a cut because I don't normally post poems this long.
Ode To The Atom
Infinitesimal star, you seemed forever buried in metal, hidden, your diabolic fire. One day someone knocked at your tiny door: it was man. With one explosion he unchained you, you saw the world, you came out into the daylight, you traveled through cities, your great brilliance illuminated lives, you were a terrible fruit of electric beauty, you came to hasten the flames of summer, and then wearing a predator's eyeglasses, armor, and a checked shirt, sporting sulfuric mustaches and a prehensile tail, came the warrior and seduced you: sleep, he told you, curl up, atom, you resemble a Greek god, a Parisian modiste in springtime, lie down here on my fingernail, climb into this little box, and then the warrior put you in his jacket as if you were nothing but a North American pill, and he traveled through the world and dropped you on Hiroshima.
The dawn had been consumed. All the birds burned to ashes. An odor of coffins, gas from tombs, thundered through space. The shape of punishment arose, hideous, superhuman, bloody mushroom, dome, cloud of smoke, sword of hell. Burning air rose, spreading death on parallel waves, reaching the mother sleeping with her child, the river fisherman and the fish, the bakery and the bread, the engineer and his buildings; everything was acid dust, assassin air.
The city crumbled its last honeycombs and fell, fell suddenly, demolished, rotten; men were instant lepers, they took their children's hand and the little hand fell off in theirs. So, from your refuge in the secret mantle of stone in which fire slept they took you, blinding spark, raging light, to destroy lives, to threaten distant existences, beneath the sea, in the air, on the sands, in every twist and turn of the ports, to destroy seeds to kill cells, to stunt the corolla, they destined you, atom, to level nations, to turn love into a black pustule, to burn heaped-up hearts and annihilate blood.
Mad spark, go back to your shroud, bury yourself in your mineral mantle, be blind stone once again, ignore the outlaws, and collaborate with life, with growing things, replace motors, elevate energy, fertilize planets. You have no secret now, walk among men without your terrible mask, pick up your pace and pace the picking of the fruit, parting mountains, straightening rivers, making fertile, atom, overflowing cosmic cup, return the the peace of the vine, to the velocity of joy, return to the province of nature, place yourself at our service, and instead of the fatal ashes of your mask, instead of the unleashed infernos of your wrath, instead of the menace of your terrible light, deliver to us your amazing rebelliousness for our grain, your unchained magnetism to found peace among men, and then your dazzling light will be happiness, not hell, hope of morning, gift to earth.
I would like to be born in every country, have a passport for them all to throw all foreign offices into panic, be every fish in every ocean and every dog in the streets of the world. I don’t want to bow down before any idols or play at being a Russian Orthodox church hippie, but I would like to plunge deep into Lake Baikal and surface snorting somewhere, why not in the Mississippi? In my damned beloved universe I would like to be a lonely weed, but not a delicate Narcissus kissing his own mug in the mirror. I would like to be any of God’s creatures right down to the last mangy hyena-- but never a tyrant or even the cat of a tyrant. I would like to be reincarnated as a man in any image: a victim of prison tortures, a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong, a living skeleton in Bangladesh, a holy beggar in Tibet, a black in Cape Town, but never in the image of Rambo. The only people whom I hate are the hypocrites-- pickled hyenas in heavy syrup. I would like to lie under the knives of all the surgeons in the world, be hunchbacked, blind, suffer all kinds of diseases, wounds and scars, be a victim of war, or a sweeper of cigarette butts, just so a filthy microbe of superiority doesn’t creep inside. I would not like to be in the elite, nor, of course, in the cowardly herd, nor be a guard dog of that herd, nor a shepherd, sheltered by that herd. And I would like happiness, but not at the expense of the unhappy, and I would like freedom, but not at the expense of the unfree. I would like to love all the women in the world, and I would like to be a woman, too-- just once... Men have been diminished by Mother Nature. Why couldn’t we give motherhood to men? If an innocent child stirred below his heart, man would probably not be so cruel. I would like to be man’s daily bread-- say, a cup of rice for a Vietnamese woman in mourning, cheap wine in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria, or a tiny tube of cheese in orbit round the moon. Let them eat me, let them drink me, only let my death be of some use. I would like to belong to all times, shock all history so much that it would be amazed what a smart aleck I was. I would like to bring Nefertiti to Pushkin in a troika. I would like to increase the space of a moment a hundredfold, so that in the same moment I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia and sit together with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, drinking anything, except, of course, Coca-Cola, --dance to the tom-toms in the Congo, --strike at Renault, --chase a ball with Brazilian boys at Copacabana Beach. I would like to know every language, like the secret waters under the earth, and do all kinds of work at once. I would make sure that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet, the second--an underground fighter somewhere, I couldn’t say where for security reasons, the third--a student at Berkeley, the fourth--a jolly Georgian drinker, and the fifth-- maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska, the sixth-- a young president, somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone, the seventh-- would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller, and the tenth... the hundredth... the millionth... For me it’s not enough to be myself, let me be everyone! Every creature usually has a double, but God was stingy with the carbon paper, and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation made a unique copy of me. But I shall muddle up all God’s cards-- I shall confound God! I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days, so that the earth buzzes with me, and computers go berserk in the world census of me. I would like to fight on all your barricades, humanity, dying each night like an exhausted moon, and resurrecting each morning like a newborn sun, with an immortal soft spot--fontanel-- on my head. And when I die, a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon, do not lay me in the earth of France or Italy, but in our Russian, Siberian earth, on a still-green hill, where I first felt that I was everyone.
It's titled I would like to describe by Zbigniew Herbert.
I would like to describe the simplest emotion joy or sadness but not as others do reaching for shafts of rain or sun
I would like to describe a light which is being born in me but I know it does not resemble any star for it is not so bright not so pure and is uncertain
I would like to describe courage without dragging behind me a dusty lion and also anxiety without shaking a glass full of water
to put it another way I would give all metaphors in return for one word drawn out of my breast like a rib for one word contained within the boundaries of my skin
but apparently this is not possible
and just to say - I love I run around like mad picking up handfuls of birds and my tenderness which after all is not made of water asks the water for a face and anger different from fire borrows from it a loquacious tongue
so is blurred so is blurred in me what white-haired gentlemen separated once and for all and said this is the subject and this is the object
we fall asleep with one hand under our head and with the other in a mound of planets
our feet abandon us and taste the earth with their tiny roots which next morning we tear out painfully.
Eduardo Galeano, Voices of Time, Soul in Plain Sight, pg.98:
"According to an ancient belief, the tree of life grows upside down. Its leaves burrow into the earth, its roots gaze at the sky. It offers not its fruits but its origins. Rather than hiding underground what is most intimate, most vulnerable, it bares its roots, exposing them to the winds of the world. "That's life," says the tree of life."
I haven't fallen off the face of the earth just yet. More soon guys. I'm hoping to get a SICP progress update posted this weekend as well as (maybe) a REAL ESSAY on REAL THINGS!
Expect me to tie together transcendentalists, the green and possibly civil rights movements, and lisp. Yeah, who knows.
I have learned that Montana is a lonely state. Filled with that beauty which could only belong to abject desolation. They tell me it is the fastest growing county in the state. And here I can more clearly pick out: the howling on the wind, the tracks of my pursuers, and the flock that will follow. What is it, I wonder, that draws us together in our loneliness? Is it some incomprehensible wonder at an unceasing orderless motion? I no longer search the skies for a conductor. My search more often turns inward. And there, clockwork reigns. A silent oscillation between misanthropy and optimism. A confusion at the whispered words of justice. And no sense whatsoever of how through it all a warm hearth is found. And home.
By chance I left Neruda at home, whom Yevtushenko reminded me of. By chance I found that slumbering desire to be everyone, sense everything, and connect with the ineffable essence of the world. And though I may never make peace with this curse of oneness I am confident that there lies in wait for me some richness to call mine that shall not fade.
But I am also unsure any of us are deserving of such a future when I see: our capacity for insular obstinance, our apparent lack of stewardship, or our bottomless apathy, mindless consumerism, moral ambivalence, and petty categorical divisions into imagined communities.
What will it take to stimulate interest and invoke participation in the human cause? Or shall we continue on as an inert public, a chemical cesspool acting out the steps of a process written long ago?
I'm home and I had a great time. I'll give a more complete update later after my first day of full time work and a good night's sleep. I'm also sort of working on a top 40 most listened to songs of 2007 post. First here's something I wrote while I was in Montana. I'll post the second in my next post.
"Unsustainable Earth" I was never brilliant, only distracted. Ever present in an ill-defined elsewhere. But I was born into a decomposing country. And if this Eden is decaying into wasteland I must ask myself: What was the time of death? And is it too late for the surgeon's blade or the pastor's cross to return life to a forsaken land?
I have no certainties about our salvation, or our chances of salvation. Perhaps the end will come like a burst of fire from the furnace. Perhaps we will be swallowed as though in a swell of the ocean. Perhaps there will be opportunity for escape, to foreign lands or a more profitable future. But avoiding the dystopian concerns too few. And the earnest simplicity of obliviousness will lead untold numbers to oblivion.
There are good stories to be told here though this may not have been an era of the brave and the decent. I do not contend that we should not be reproached. Still, an ending befitting our gluttony is to be resisted.
I also just sort of got this poem in my head while brushing my teeth. This is a draft. What do you think? What would you call it?
As though expecting to hear a proclamation, any moment now, "Poetry is no longer recognized as one of the forms of art. You lot may go on about your business." No more need: to try to compress the world into words, as if we could capture what fleets from us in a phrase given the proper amount of pressure. It is true that one should write a poem only under incredible duress. That way should we ever be caught, stuffing the universe into a handbasket, we might appear less greedy. And less foolish.
Finally, I'm going to be out of town for a week. I'll be back next Wednesday. See you guys then!
We are only what we are, straining in the fog of an early morning. Fearful but not yet unhinged, we are waiting to spin in an endless dance. Advance and retreat, feints and confessions. That the art of existence is still an area of active research. That the domain and range of man are still a combative struggle. To be simply is not so simple. Thoreau deceived at least one. But perhaps in a short time we will not falter in our waltz with death and instead laugh, like children do.
I sought in my sinew some struggle, some measure of resistance, against what even in youth I recognized as the turmoils of a Jagannath. But my vertebrae were not as strong as I expected. Or dreaded maturation has weakened once well-formed resolve to fling my body under the crushing, undulating wheels of the chariot.
"To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 141 (the last page)
"Since my youth I have tried to capture in words a reality such as I contemplated walking the streets of a human city and I have never succeeded; that is why each of my poems seems to me the token of an unaccomplished oeuvre. I learned early that language does not adhere to what we really are, that we move in a big make-believe which is maintained by books and pages of newsprint. And every one of my efforts to say something real ended the same way, by my being driven back to the enclosure of from, as if I were a sheep straying from the flock." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 32
"I have always aspired to a more spacious form that would be free form the claims of poetry or prose and would let us understand each other without exposing the author or reader to sublime agonies.
In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent: a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in us, so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out and stood in the light, lashing his tail.
That's why poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a daimonion, though it's an exaggeration to maintain that he must be an angel. It's hard to guess where that pride of poets comes from, when so often they're put to shame by the disclosure of their frailty.
What reasonable man would like to be a city of demons, who behave as if they were at home, speak in many tongues, and who, not satisfied with stealing his lips or hand, work at changing his destiny for their convenience?
It's true that what is morbid is highly valued today, and so you may think I am only joking or that I've devised just one more means of praising Art with the help of irony.
There was a time when only wise books were read, helping us to bear our pain and misery. This, after all, is not quite the same as leafing through a thousand works fresh from psychiatric clinics.
And yet the world is different from what it seems to be and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings People therefore preserve silent integrity, thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.
The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficulty it is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will.
What I'm saying here is no, I agree, poetry, as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly, under unbearable duress and only with the hope that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument." - Czeslaw Milosz, Ars Poetica, New and Collected Poems Pg. 240
This popped out in my Discrete Mathematics class today after walking there listening to Funkadelic's Maggot Brain and reading some of Pablo Neruda's work. Tell me what you think. Also, title suggestions please.
Youth, I know not what became of you. Lakes and cities, a fiery rebellion. Always aware of a justice without touch or name. You walked with me through the mud caked ruins behind the trees of the subdivision and sought out with me a refuge from the savages in the weeds of back roads and trails. You were there when the infection poured out from the skin of my back like mineral water from the mountain. You were there for escapes to beaches and oceans whose splendor seemed to swallow all that I knew. But that was another world. These days only the vaguest memories remain. Flickering images whose sources cannot be pinned down, absent of references or citations. Only a feeling and a thought which, I know, as Milosz has said are "too much for the meager word". How is it that I am nostalgic for what I cannot recall of my own life? A great sadness wells up within me. As though what cannot be remembered did not occur. I know that to be a fallacy, but in my weakness must hope that in some eternal memory that beauty and difficulty which I suffered does persevere.
Oh, hello. You're the only one reading today aren't you? You are. Welcome.
10 days? 10 DAYS? Where have I been? Busy I suppose. And in case you noticed the server being down, it turns out the router it sits behind decided to go crazy...which is almost comforting. /*This entry dedicated to Raganwald, XKCD, Radiohead, and Amazon.com for keeping me occupied and away from you guys for so long.*/ So, what's been going on?
First, I actually wrote something today. It's been a while since that happened and it felt good. It's not fantastic but it's a start and maybe I'll be able to polish it up some in the future. I don't know that it was inspired by the following Milosz quote, but the quote resounds particularly with me today so I'm shoving it in your face anyway. "There must be a middle place between abstraction and childishness where one can speak seriously about serious things." - Czeslaw Milosz, Second Space, 4. I Apologize (pg. 49)
And here's the as yet untitled poem, please file naming suggestions below: How surprised was I to learn that the dichotomy was not that of good and evil, as expected. Rather, torn between shame and the frivolity of a bottomless awe. Bound mesmerized to the spectacle of the world and all the marvelous constructions within it. I found myself vertiginous, perhaps self-aware, but certainly unsure how to contribute to so great a vista. As though asked to add new colors to the horizon, or change the sound of the ocean on a starry night. That task is too monumental for me, I said. But awe is not enough, my immense wonder is insufficient. Still, it is better to make public a frivolous and joyous etonnement than to admit to the truth: That every man is a thunderclap receding into the distance, and silence.
Second, on Friday we had the best video game tournament in probably 10 months or so, IMHO. I actually did well in Melee with Zelda/Sheik. Semifinals well. The small atmosphere and various special appearances made the evening though. Derin and Pete were both able to come and I had lost touch with Derin so that was particularly awesome.
Third, the new Radiohead album is out and it's outstanding. What's more outstanding is that Radiohead are releasing and self-distributing the album as a download via their website and you decide what to pay them for it. That actually might not be more outstanding than the album itself which could be the best thing since OK Computer. More to come but I really like it and the early favorites are Reckoner and Jigsaw Falling Into Place followed by Nude and All I Need. I'm still pretty skeptical about the last track, Videotape. There's a live acoustic version on Youtube that just sounds better to my ears.
Fourth, I figured if I'm really going to take a year off to self-study and see if learn more/better/faster/stronger/etc that I'd better come up with a sort of reading list. Thank goodness for Amazon.com wishlists. I figured I might as well include a bunch of the stuff from my earlier book lists as well. The Computer Science stuff is thither.
good music: nostalgia 77 - seven nation army, skye - feel good inc, asobi seksu - lions and tigers, marconi union - shibuya crossing, telefon tel aviv - when it happens it moves all by itself honorable mention: massive attack - dissolved girl
A tasty Neruda poem... and a real blog post soon. Promise this time. I Ask For Silence:
Now they can leave me in peace, and grow used to my absence.
I am going to close my eyes.
I only want five things, five chosen roots.
One is an endless love.
Two is to see the autumn. I cannot exist without leaves flying and falling to earth.
The third is the solemn winter, the rain I loved, the caress of fire in the rough cold.
My fourth is the summer, plump as a watermelon.
And fifthly, your eyes, Matilde, my dear love, I will not sleep without your eyes, I will not exist but in your gaze. I adjust the spring for you to follow me with your eyes.
That, friends, is all I want. Next to nothing, close to everything.
Now they can go if they wish.
I have lived so much that someday they will have to forget me forcibly, rubbing me off the blackboard. My heart was inexhaustible.
But because I ask for silence, don't think I'm going to die. The opposite is true; it happens I'm going to live.
To be, and to go on being.
I will not be, however, if, inside me, the crop does not keep sprouting, the shoots first, breaking through the earth to reach the light; but the mothering earth is dark, and, deep inside me, I am dark. I am a well in the water of which the night leaves stars behind and goes on alone across fields.
It's a question of having lived so much that I want to live that much more.
I never felt my voice so clear, never have been so rich in kisses.
Now, as always, it is early. The light is a swarm of bees.
Let me alone with the day. I ask leave to be born.
It seems I just can't help myself when it comes to this guy. Here's some of his work from Second Spaces which I believe is the last of his poems that were published.
From Part III, Treatise on Theology: 4. I Apologize I apologize, most reverend theologians, for a tone not befitting the purple of your robes. I thrash in the bed of my style, searching for a comfortable position, not too sanctimonious and not too mundane. There must be a middle place between abstraction and childishness where one can talk seriously about serious things. Catholic dogma is a few inches too high; we stand on our toes and for a moment it seems to us that we see. Yet the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the mystery of Original Sin, the mystery of the Redemption are well armored against reason. Which tries in vain to get straight the story of God before His creation of the world, and when the separation into good and evil occurred in His Kingdom. What in all that can be grasped by little girls in white for First Communion! If even gray-haired theologians concede that it is too much for them, close the book, and invoke the inadequacy of the human tongue. But it will not do to prattle on about soft little Jesus in the hay of His manger.
And also this one, from Part III's Treatise on Theology as well: 15. Religion Comes Religion comes from our pity for humans. They are too weak to live without divine protection. Too weak to listen to the screeching noise of the turning of infernal wheels. Who among us would accept a universe in which there was not one voice Of compassion, pity, understanding? To be human is to be completely alien amid the galaxies. Which is sufficient reason for erecting, together with others, the temples of an unimaginable mercy.
It's been a nice, leisurely weekend thus far. I've been meaning to post more and to post some things that are a bit less technical but I've been bad about making the time of late. This is a smattering of things that have been backed up in my head.
I realized recently that there's a Milosz poem I never threw up here that I really wished I had. It's titled Diary of a Naturalist and taken out of his work From The Rising of The Sun.
My generation was lost. Cities too. And nations. But all this a little later. Meanwhile, in the window, a swallow Performs its rite of the second. That boy, does he already suspect That beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive? Now he sees his homeland. At the time of the second mowing. Roads winding uphill and down. Pine groves. Lakes. An overcast sky with one slanting ray. And everywhere men with scythes, in shirts of unbleached linen And the dark-blue trousers that were common in the province. He sees what I see even now. Oh but he was clever, Attentive, as if things were instantly changed by memory. Riding in a cart, he looked back to retain as much as possible. Which means he knew what was needed for some ultimate moment When he would compose from fragments a world perfect at last.
Isn't that nice? Here's one I wrote that just sort of flew out this afternoon: The world is not chaos or justice, Mere good and bad happening all round. Swept under the rug in our wake, Dust returning to dust, in clumps at that. We do not like to go quietly, or alone. But what of the unquantifiable interim? Ah, qualified not quantified: Rich, peerless, Are there stories greater than our own? Certainly not with more twists, turns, surprises. Still, here I am, trying to understand how: I have become trapped like a fly in amber. Like those who have come before me, now Teachers, who sought after explications for the Milieu of an era, the abstract of an age.
I'm not sure what I think but I may be warming up to it. Now that that's out of the way.
Top 5 Books I couldn't live without: Unattainable Earth by Czeslaw Milosz Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton The Success of Open Source by Steven Weber The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig
Honorable Mentions: Selected Essays by Jerzy Kosinski The Blue Octavo Notebooks by Franz Kafka The Trial by Frans Kafka Tender is the Night OR The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Of late, I've also really been enjoying reading Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston. If you're considering ever starting your own company or if you'd just be edified by reading about people succeeding outside the system/convention and innovating I'd highly recommend picking it up. There's also a book called Coders at Work in progress at the same publisher by a different author. That book is composed of interviews with some of the world's premiere programmers and it may find it's way onto the can't live without list. At least, I expect it will.
As my last point today, I'd like to congratulate Electronic Arts. They have successfully made the first good skateboarding video game in years. This is a huge thing for me because I love skateboarding games because I'm a big skate nerd and it's taken way too long for someone to best Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. Honestly, what happened to you Neversoft? Anyway, I highly endorse EA Blackbox's new game skate. It's amazz-z-zing. I might need to end up getting one more game console after all. Alright, more later folks.
I have gone about dedicating myself to invisible empires. I rise and the day brings visions of struts jutting out of the soil to sustain immeasurable edifices to man.
I am having fun. I can say that much. To Do list: Cookies. Essay on Radical Visions. Lots of Discrete Mathematics to prepare for Wed test. Java Programming and C Programming. Figure out what days are with whom this weekend. Note: skate will be out. Gym and Laundry. Read one of the following good things: The Wealth of Networks, Programming the Universe, Open Sources (1 or 2), Infotopia. Also Milosz and Neruda.
This is the last scheduled post I'm going to write. After this, it's back to the good old days. Everything will be "Just For Fun" and I'll post what I like when I like. It's been a good experiment in generating content these past 2^4 weeks but this is the end of it. Though I do expect to have some very nerdy stuff up by Saturday. :-) No promises.
That said, I'm ending with a bang. This untitled piece from Unattainable Earth touches on many of the frequent themes of the master poet Milosz. I hope you enjoy it:
Rustling taffetas. At sunset in a park by the Prypet River. The party sets out for a walk on a path lined with flowers. The fragrance of nicotianas, phlox, and resedas. Great silence, the empty expanse of rising waters. Meanwhile the servants bring in lamps, set the table for supper. And the dining room windows lit the agaves on the lawn.
Lela, Marishka, Sophineta! Lenia, Stenia, Isia, Lilka! Is it fair that I will never talk with you In a language not disguised by etiquette As less than language and reduced to table chatter But austere and precise like a thought That attempts to embrace the poor lives of beings?
I walk about. No longer human. In a hunting outfit. Visiting our thick forests and the houses and manors. Cold borscht is served and I am abstracted With disturbing questions from the end of my century. Mainly regarding the truth, where does it come from, where is it? Mum, I was eating chicken with cucumber salad.
My pretty ones, abducted, beyond will and guilt. My awareness harrows me as well as my silence. All my life I gathered images and ideas, I learned how to travel through lost territories, But the moment between birth and disappearance Is too much, I know, for the meager word.
Strings of wild ducks fly over the Respublica's waters. Dew falls on Polish manners imported from Warsaw and Vienna. I cross the river in a dugout to the village side. Barking dogs greet me there and the bell of an Orthodox church.
What would I like to tell you? That I didn't get what I looked for: To gather all of us naked on the earthly pastures Under the endless light of suspended time Without that form which confines me as it once confined you.
Seeing the future. A diviner. In a soft merciful night. When pigweed grows on the paths of a cut-down garden And a narrow gold chain on a white neck, Together with the memory of all of you, perishes.
Yesterday's post did quite well on reddit and my server handled the traffic as well so that's nice. Expect more details and thoughts on "The Concurrency Problem" as well as a general update tomorrow.
As for today, it's more Neruda. Today's poem is titled I Will Return, from his work "The Stones of Chile".
Some other time, man or woman, traveler, later, when I am not alive, look here, look for me between stone and ocean, in the light storming through the foam. Look here, look for me, for here I will return, without saying a thing, without voice, without mouth, pure, here I will return to be the churning of the water, of its unbroken heart, here, I will be discovered and lost: here, I will, perhaps, be stone and silence.
More Neruda today, the end of his poem Autumn Testament, from the work "Extravagaria". If you all really like it I'll be happy to post the full text to Autumn Testament which numbers a few pages...
From having been born so often I have salty experience like creatures of the sea with a passion for stars and an earthy destination. And so I move without knowing to which world I'll be returning or if I'll go on living. While things are settling down, here I've left my testament, my shifting extravagaria, so whoever goes on reading it will never take in anything except the constant moving of a clear and bewildered man, a man rainy and happy, lively and autumn-minded.
And now I'm going behind this page, but not disappearing. I'll dive into clear air like a swimmer in the sky, and then get back to growing till one day I'm so small that the wind will take me away and I won't know my own name and I won't be there when I wake.
Hi. Without meaning to be a burden, encouragement would be a good thing for me right now. If you have any lying around and are interested, feel free to pass it my way.
I have in mind a future, Perhaps in Chicago, then Montana, Or maybe the white sands of the beaches of my youth. But the desire for home is an illusion, Found in people not in places, The trinkets I call thoughts are only treasure if they're shared. How can I swear myself to safely guard your things, and always maintain interest in the head from which thought springs? For my love is the attent of the brook that babbles beyond your lips. But in a world ever warming, how can I promise the well won't run dry? Am I a dam holding water which once broken sends old currents back to sea? That water needed to return to that amorphous oblivion. It's vitality left long ago.
"Past" by Pablo Neruda: We have to discard the past and, as one builds floor by floor, window by window, and the building rises, so do we keep shedding- first, broken tiles, then proud doors, until, from the past, dust falls as if it would crash against the floor, smoke rises as if it were on fire, and each new day gleams like an empty plate. There is nothing, there was always nothing. It all has to be filled with a new, expanding fruitfulness; then, down falls yesterday as in a well falls yesterday's water, into the cistern of all that is now without voice, without fire. It is difficult to get bones used to disappearing, to teach eyes to close, but we do it unwittingly. Everything was alive, alive, alive, alive like a scarlet fish, but time passed with cloth and darkness and kept wiping away the flash of the fish. Water water water, the past goes on falling although it keeps a grip on thorns and on roots. It went, it went, and now memories mean nothing. Now the heavy eyelid shut out the light of the eye and what was once alive is now no longer living; what we were, we are not. And with words, although the letters still have transparency and sound, they change, and the mouth changes; the same mouth is now another mouth; they change lips, skin, circulation; another soul took on our skeleton; what once was in us now is not. It left, but if they call, we reply, "I am here," and we realize we are not, that what was once, was and is lost, lost in the past, and now does not come back.
More Neruda today. He's good stuff. From his work, Canto General, X: The Fugitive: "XII" To all, to you silent beings of the night who took my hand in the darkness, to you, lamps of immortal light, star lines, staff of life, secret brethren, to all, to you, I say: there's no giving thanks, nothing can fill the wineglasses of purity, nothing can contain all the sun in the invincible springtime's flags, like your quiet dignity. I only think that I've perhaps been worthy of so much simplicity, of a flower so pure, that perhaps I'm you, that's right, that bit of earth, flour, and song, that natural batch that knows whence it comes and where it belongs. I'm not such a distant bell or a crystal buried so deep that you can't decipher, I'm just people, hidden door, dark bread, and when you welcome me, you welcome yourself; that guest repeatedly beaten and repeatedly reborn. To all, to all, to whomever I don't know, to whomever never heard this name, to those who dwell all along our long rivers, at the foot of the volcanoes, in the sulfuric shadow of copper, to fishermen and farmhands, to blue Indians on the shores of lakes sparkling like glass, to the shoemaker who at this very hour questions, nailing leather with ancient hands, to you, to the one who unknowingly has awaited me, I belong and acknowledge and sing.
So, today has been unspeakably awesome. Things have been fun here at work, I've listened to good music, and I've read some wonderful things. Did I mention I have a kick ass new IBM Thinkpad running Linux? More on that later. First, here are some notes on the other stuff:
Songs of Summer The Good, The Bad, and The Queen - History Song Brightblack Morning Light - A River Could Be Loved Zero 7 - This Fine Social Scene Maximilian Hecker - Full of Voices Mylo - Drop the Pressure Broken Social Scene - Looks Just Like The Sun Incubus - Favorite Things My Brightest Diamond - Lucky (Radiohead Cover) Foo Fighters - Generator Broken Social Scene - Alive in 85
Literary Lines More Neruda today. This one's called Poetry. It's gorgeous: And it was at that age...poetry arrived in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where it came from, from winter or a river. I don't know how or when, no, they were not voices, they were not words, not silence, but from a street it called me, from the branches of night, abrubtly from the others, among raging fires or returning alone, there it was, without a face, and it touched me.
I didn't know what to say, my mouth had no way with names, my eyes were blind. Something knocked in my soul, fever or forgotten wings, and I made my own way, deciphering that fire, and I wrote the first, faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing; and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open, planets, palpitating plantations, the darkness perforated, riddled with arrows, fire, and flowers, the overpowering night, the universe.
And I, tiny being, drunk with the great starry void, likeness, image of mystery, felt myself a pure part of the abyss. I wheeled with the stars. My heart broke loose with the wind.
Social Brain Dump http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9738924-7.html http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/07/why_congress_ne.html http://www.ohloh.net/projects/3783/analyses/latest
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2161500,00.asp it's awesome to see suspicions confirmed in reality like this.
https://answers.launchpad.net/awn/+question/10849 AWN has moved to launchpad. Significant?
Thursday Literary Lines Today's piece is from the Neruda book that arrived while I was at the beach. It is titled Ars Poetica.
Between shadow and space, between trimmings and damsels, Endowed with a singular heart and sorrowful dreams, Precipitously pallid, withered in the brow And with a furious widower's mourning for each day of life, Ah, for each invisible water that I drink somnolently And from every sound that I welcome trembling, I have the same absent thirst and the same cold fever, A nascent ear, an indirect anguish, As if thieves or ghosts were coming, And in a shell or fixed and profound expanse, Like a humiliated waiter, like a slightly raucous bell, Like an old mirror, like the smell of a solitary house Where the guests come in at night wildly drunk, And there is a smell of clothes thrown on the floor, and an absence of flowers- Possibly in another even less melancholy way- But the truth is that suddenly the wind that lashes my chest, The nights of infinite substance fallen in my bedroom, The noise of a day that burns with sacrifice, Ask me mournfully what prophecy there is in me, And there is a swarm of objects that call without being answered, And a ceaseless movement, and a bewildered man.
My Neruda hasn't come in the mail yet so you all are stuck with another week of Milosz. This week's poem is titled Nonadaptation.
I was not made to live anywhere except in paradise. Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation. Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound,. Whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved. I pretended to work like others from morning to evening, but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries. For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed, under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise. I have not loved a woman with my five senses. I only wanted from her my sister, from before the banishment. And I respected religion, for on this earth of pain it was a funereal and a propitiatory song.
Looking out on murky skies I want to sound the bell, Shout til my throat's gone, Raise a little hell. But there's no answer to the call That will echo back to me Because only time will tell So I just have to wait and see. And I want to be subversive, Yeah I want to go against the grain, Strike a few nerves and maybe Cause a little pain. But I get the sense that all of That would simply be in vain, Like a character on camera Trying to escape the frame.
And though I don't know What in days to come Will still remain, I'm waiting for it like The dry earth waits To greet the rain.
For I don't stand in the road Looking out upon the fork. I stand in amber fields of grain Writing a cartographer's report. Rather than traversing a garden Full of forking paths, I'll travel through the weeds And meet you in the aftermath.
More Milosz today. I don't know. I'd swear it's good for the soul. I also feel so...illiterate posting Milosz all the time. It's just good for me though. Anyway, I've always loved this one and it seems particularly relevant today. What do you guys think?
Temptation Under a starry sky I was taking a walk, On a ridge overlooking neon cities, With my companion, the spirit of desolation, Who was running around and sermonizing, Saying that I was not necessary, for if not I, then someone else Would be walking here, trying to understand his age. Had I died long ago nothing would have changed. The same stars, cities, and countries Would have been seen with other eyes. The world and it's labors would go on as they do.
For Christ's sake, get away from me. You've tormented me enough, I said. It's not up to me to judge the calling of men. And my merits, if any, I won't know anyway.
I was in Borders the other day and strolled through the poetry section. Surprisingly, there was a Milosz volume that my copy of his Collected Poems didn't contain. I also realized how much I'd like to read Bukowski and Neruda. I'm still working my way through the mountains of Milosz' catalog but diversity is a very important thing and when it comes to poetry I've just sort of been sitting in one corner for a while. T.S. Eliot would certainly be a more distant jump than Neruda or Bukowski. Frost would also be a good distance for that matter. Whitman not as much. At any rate, I stumbled upon a Neruda work online today that seems so applicable to events of late that I feel oddly compelled to post it. It's titled Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example,'The night is shattered and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too. How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her. And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her. The night is shattered and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her. My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees. We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her. My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before. Her void. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.
Today was awesome but as much as I love Borges I'm going to post some tasty Milosz tonight. More Borges next week...I promise. Or at least a different poet. :-D
Gift A day so happy. Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden. Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers. There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no one worth my envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me. In my body I felt no pain. When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.
I remember when my hand was cut and I snuck over to your house on the first day we were together and you bandaged it. I remember when I cooked you salmon and we made love, in my bedroom. And so this is life. Rich, more than we are able to absorb in all it's facets, too rich for us. Rich, beyond comprehension. Full, beyond belief. My cup overfloweth. And I know not what to do.
I finally got around to reading some Borges last night and he's lovely. Today's excerpt comes from his story The Ethnographer in his collected fictions:
"He must have forseen the difficulties that lay ahead for him; he would have to convince the red men to accept him as one of their own. He set out upon the long adventure. He lived for more than two years on the prairie, sometimes sheltered by adobe walls and sometimes in the open. He rose before dawn, went to bed at sundown, and came to dream in a language that was not that of his fathers. He conditioned his palate to harsh flavors, he covered himself with strange clothing, he forgot his friends and the city, he came to think in a fashion that the logic of his mind rejected. During the first few months of his new education he secretly took notes; later, he tore the notes up - perhaps to avoid drawing suspicion upon himself, perhaps because he no longer needed them."
Fireflies flicker in skies like morning dew on leaves, And drift about the evening air like mist upon the breeze, I don't remember time or place where I've been more at ease, The world usually seems clearer the closer man is to his knees. I find it hard to try to tell what path did lead me here, Though always seek companion who might like to lend their ear, And through dark fears in younger years persevered to present day, But perhaps should have left more warnings for others along the way.
If foreign lands with beckoning sands have grounded in my mind, Then perhaps discoveries lie in wait more forward than behind, But putting the past aside is difficult for what might be derived is a succulent fruit, of knowledge to boot, waiting to be tried. Temptation though to puzzle out what meanings there may lay is better left for when I rise upon an older and wiser day. And until then my unseen friend I raise my glass and say, Godspeed to all of us. Into the tunnel. Light the way.
Okay. I'm kind of going to cheat today. I was planning on moving on from Milosz after posting what are probably my three favorite poems of his and post an excerpt from Borges today. The problem is I haven't gotten around to reading the Borges. So, for now, Borges will have to wait until next week and then hopefully I'll have read it. For now, here is another Milosz poem i'm intensely fond of.
At Dawn How enduring. How we need durability. The sky before sunrise is soaked with light. Rosy color tints buildings, bridges, and the Seine. I was here when she, with whom I walk, wasn't born yet And the cities on a distant plain stood intact Before they rose in the air with the dust of sepulchral brick And the people who lived there didn't know. Only this moment at dawn is real to me. The bygone lives are like my own past life, uncertain. I cast a spell on the city asking it to last.
Livejournal hasn't let me post from my computer since late yesterday so I had to log on to a friend's computer to make a post to fix the problem. Today I'd like to share the third of (what are probably) my three favorite Milosz poems.
The pungent smells of a California winter, Grayness and rosiness, an almost transparent full moon. I add logs to the fire, I drink and I ponder.
"In Ilawa," the news item said, "at age 70 Died Aleksander Rymkiewicz, poet."
He was the youngest in our group. I patronized him slightly, Just as I patronized others for their inferior minds Though they had many virtues I couldn't touch.
And so I am here, approaching the end Of the century and of my life. Proud of my strength Yet embarrassed by the clearness of the view.
Avant-gardes mixed with blood. The ashes of inconceivable arts. An omnium-gatherum of chaos.
I passed judgment on that. Though marked myself. This hasn't been the age for the righteous and the decent. I know what it means to beget monsters And to recognize in them myself.
You, moon, You, Aleksander, fire of cedar logs. Waters close over us, a name lasts but an instant. Not important whether the generations hold us in memory. Great was that chase with the hounds for the unattainable meaning of the world.
And now I am ready to keep running When the sun rises beyond the borderlands of death.
I already see mountain ridges in the heavenly forest Where, beyond every essence, a new essence waits.
You, music of my late years, I am called By a sound and a color which are more and more perfect.
Do not die out, fire. Enter my dreams, love. Be young forever, seasons of the earth.
Another one of my favorites. This is the second Milosz poem I ever read but it's really stuck with me. I'll give the last of my three favorites next week and then move on.
3. Paradise by Czeslaw Milosz: Under my sign, Cancer, a pink fountain Pours out four streams, the sources of four rivers. But I don't trust it. As I verified myself, That sign is not lucky. Besides, we abhor The moving jaws of crabs and the calcareous Cemeteries of the ocean. This, then, is the Fountain Of Life? Toothed, sharp-edged, With its innocent, delusive color. And beneath, Just where the birds set alight, glass traps set with glue. A white elephant, a white giraffe, white unicorns, Black creatures of the ponds. A lion mauls a deer. A cat has a mouse. A three-headed lizard, A three-headed ibis, their meaning unknown. Or a two-legged dog, no doubt a bad omen. Adam sits astonished. His feet Touch the foot of Christ who has brought Eve And keeps her right hand in his left while lifting Two fingers of his right like the one who teaches. Who is she, and who will she be, the beloved From the Song of Songs? This Wisdom-Sophia, Seducer, the Mother and Ecclesia? Thus he created her who will conceive him? Where then did he get his human form Before the years and centuries began? Human, did he exist before the beginning? And establish a Paradise, though incomplete, So that she might pluck the fruit, she, the mysterious one, Whom Adam contemplates, not comprehending? I am these two, twofold. I ate from the Tree Of Knowledge. I was expelled by the archangel's sword. At night I sensed her pulse. Her mortality. And we have searched for the real place ever since.
"It happened that sometimes I kissed in mirrors the reflection of my face; since the hands, face and tears of Annalena had caressed it, my face seemed suffused to me divinely beautiful and as if suffused with heavenly sweetness." - Oscar Milosz, L'Amoreuse Initiation
I liked your velvet yoni, Annalena, long voyages in the delta of your legs. A striving upstream toward your beating heart through more and more savage currents saturated with the light of hops and bindweed. And our vehemence and triumphant laughter and our hasty dressing in the middle of the night to walk on the stone stairs of the upper city. Our breath held by amazement and silence, porosity of worn-out stones and the great door of the cathedral. Over the gate of the rectory fragments of brick among weeds, in darkness the touch of a rough buttressed wall. And later our looking from the bridge down to the orchard, when under the moon every tree is separate on its kneeler, and from the secret interior of dimmed poplars the echo carries the sound of a water turbine. To whom do we tell what happened on the earth, for whom do we place everywhere huge mirrors in the hope that they will be filled up and will stay so? Always in doubt whether it was we who were there, you and I, Annalena, or just anonymous lovers on the enameled tables of a fairyland.