Dirty Gerty's Hurdy Gurdy


Only the poem knows what's true

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LOVE! Reign O'er Me...Bosie and The Who

Much has been said of Oscar Wilde. Much more has been said of his some time lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, aka, Bosie. When Wilde was in Reading Gaol, he wrote a marvelous work; De Profundis. In which he criticized Bosie's translation of Salome, for one, and in which he said "I ceased to be Lord over myself. I was no longer captain of my soul. I allowed you [Douglas] to dominate me, and your father to frighten me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute Humility."

I sometimes say it's the best Bitchy Love Letter ever written. Partly because it mines philosophy. Partly because it takes you along with Wilde into the depths of absolute humility. I have to read it again, but I'm going to make a not so acute observation. I think De Profundis really signifies Wilde love for Bosie; yes, Bosie helped put him in a horrible situation, "posing as a sodomite," and whatnot, but Bosie, I'd like to believe, was also something of a tool, a mask that Wilde took and tried on, only to realize the mask was worth the taking, yes, but not worth the breaking.

I'm looking at some of Bosie's poetry. He did marry, for those of you who don't know, after Wilde's death, and yes, she was a woman! And Oscar did write him a rather touching letter, after he was released from prison, which follows:
æ Rouen, August 1897

My own Darling Boy,
I got your telegram half an hour ago, and just send a line to say that I feel that my only hope of again doing beautiful work in art is being with you. It was not so in the old days, but now it is different, and you can really recreate in me that energy and sense of joyous power on which art depends.
Everyone is furious with me for going back to you, but they don't understand us. I feel that it is only with you that I can do anything at all. Do remake my ruined life for me, and then our friendship and love will have a different meaning to the world.
I wish that when we met at Rouen we had not parted at all. There are such wide abysses now of space and land between us. But we love each other.
Goodnight, dear. Ever yours,

Of course, Oscar would die two years (?) later. I love Oscar Wilde, his wit, Dorian Gray led me to some marvelous revelations, De Profundis, The Decay of Lying, The Critic As Artist, The Happy Prince, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windmere's Fan... etc., etc., But I also love Bosie. Yes, I love Bosie. The maligned lover fashioned by some as a philistine, by others as a thoughtless Hedon. In my mind, Oscar and Bosie were trying to come to terms with something that was the blight of society, not them. Their love, the love "that dare not speak its name," was boundless. And yes, Oscar was married with children, but what was he meant to do in a society that constrained every aspect of homosexuality?

I wonder sometimes, what Bosie must have been like after Oscar's death. What went through his mind. If he thought much about his dead lover. I think about these lines, from him:

I dreamed of him last night, I saw his face
All radiant and unshadowed of distress,
And as of old, in music measureless,
I heard his golden voice and marked him trace
Under the common thing the hidden grace,
And conjure wonder out of emptiness,
Till mean things put on beauty like a dress
And all the world was an enchanted place.

And then methought outside a fast locked gate
I mourned the loss of unrecorded words,
Forgotten tales and mysteries half said,
Wonders that might have been articulate,
And voiceless thoughts like murdered singing birds.
And so I woke and knew that he was dead.

And I realize, this was a 1900 lament for Wilde, yes, and it's also a lament for love. Some would say this is quite an obvious statement for me to make. That for him, Oscar and love go "hand in hand." But, it's a bit more... profound. Love seems to me a mean thing that puts on beauty like a dress. Something that overwhelms, with its continuing despair and whimsy. Today, we know, it's partly relegated to the pleasure centers in our brains. We know more about the chemical processes. A night some years ago, I was watching the film adaptation of our town. And I envied the characters, for speaking of love as if it were still something otherworldly. Something not chemical, not science, but more... metaphysical. And I wondered if I could ever go back. To just being the effect of it; and I realized, no, I couldn't, but in appreciating its chemical origins, I could appreciate the "neverness" that made it, which makes us, how it interconnects nothing, the interconnectedness of nothing, really. And this makes me love it oh so much more.

So, as homage to The Who, Love (!) Reign O'er Me, and Bosie and Wilde, I'm going to live today in the dream, not that love conquers all, but conquers nothing. It can't conquer death. It can't conquer despair. But in its inability to conquer, it conquers us. And perhaps this is the greatest spell that has ever been imposed upon art... and humanity. "The coward does it with a kiss, the brave man with a sword!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

The rain it raineth every day!

On any other rainy night, I'd invoke Chopin's Raindrops Sequence. I'd convince whoever reads this that if you listen closely, every note on the piano, in accordance, feels like the planned randomness of rain. That there is an intimate distance between Chopin and the rain in that piece.

Instead of bugging poor Chopin, until his spirit comes back with a vendetta against my putting him in, dare I say, trite (?) situations, I want to talk about Led Zeppelin. I've just read the lyrics to The Rain Song. And yes, I'm listening to it now, too. I've decided, though this blog be brief, it should evoke, even the quotidian!

There's something that intrigues me about this song, other than its mesmeric Siren(ic) chords. It's something towards the end. When they sing, "This is the wonder of devotion, I seek the torch we all must hold. This is the mystery of the quotient-Upon us all a little rain must fall... it's just a little rain..."

I remember the first time I read Twelth Night, yes I'll segue to Shakespeare, Feste's song always got to me. The Hey, Ho the wind and the rain. The rain it raineth every day! IT always, in some capacity, eluded me. And, this could be because I'm an idiot, but, I think Shakespeare, by way of Feste, the "fool" who is really wiser than all the others, is saying there will always be wind. There will always be rain. It raineth every day in many ways. In the sense we all despair. In the sense that somewhere in the world, nature will always have its elusively refreshing way, to remind us, for vitality to exist, there must exist this quotient. I'm on this bent tonight, because, yet again, I'm trying to pull through a depression spell... Upon us all a little rain must fall...and, in doing this, I sometimes, always, come to quotidian conclusions about life and humanity. My obvious statement of the night is this: we are devoted to reality insomuch we make ourselves vulnerable, but it's only in the imagined way we find a way to bind ourselves.

Good Night. Forgive the brevity, again, but as a not so wise man said, well, a wise bard through a not so wise character's mouth, brevity is the soul of wit! And I say, anyone who pulls a Polonius should, well, SHOVE IT! (Just remember, we're all windbags, some time)!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guy De Maupassant's Superstition...

I was searching for an essay Sidonie Gabrielle Colette wrote, called The Hand, and came across a story from De Maupassant. Aptly called, The Hand. And I suppose this story will persist and consist itself in this very brief blog. For, I must write about superstition.

I've liked Poe. Lovecraft. Ligotti. Ligotti has a way of inserting some profound philosophy into his words, which isn't even written, is, in fact suggested. Much like Poe, I'd say. Even so, in The Hand, a judge is telling these ladies about something he would call... inexplicable. It was in Corsica. A place where vendettas run deep, from ancestral enmities and so-forth. For some time, the people there were intrigued by this Englishman. Sir John Rowell. The judge went by the name M. Bermutier, by the by. And, by the by, after the judge had happened upon Rowell, after a hunting incident, he got to know the man better. He was invited into his (Rowell's) villa. The parlor of which was black draped. Draped in black with gold encased embroidery. And, other than the busts of animals, there was, much to the judge's shock, a strange thing that attracted his attention. In fact, a:

"strange thing attracted my attention. A black object stood out against a square of red velvet. I went up to it; it was a hand, a human hand. Not the clean white hand of a skeleton, but a dried black hand, with yellow nails, the muscles exposed and traces of old blood on the bones, which were cut off as clean as though it had been chopped off with an axe, near the middle of the forearm."

A chain surrounds it. Which the judge cannot for the best of him decipher. He doesn't see why a "decayed" hand should be chained. But, Rowell affirms it is necessary; that the hand is quite strong. And, a bit later in the story, the Englishman is found dead, with what looks like a finger from the hand in his mouth. When Rowell's servant gives his testament, he says that Rowell had had a fit, after receiving some letters from America. After the "crime," Rowell's murder had happened, the servant noted the hand had disappeared, and it was found on Rowell's grave in Corsica, with a finger missing upon it.

In describing his reaction to this to the women he's telling the story (to), the judge says:

"Oh! Ladies, I shall certainly spoil your terrible dreams. I simply believe that the legitimate owner of the hand was not dead, that he came to get it with his remaining one. But I don't know how. It was a kind of vendetta."

Of course, this doesn't appease the women. And the judge gives the line that makes this story work. He says, Didn't I tell you that my explanation would not satisfy you?

I think I picked this story out for tonight's blog, and superstition in general, because it seems we need it. And not for the obvious reasons. Yes, we require escape, etc., etc., But, if you note, every fantastical story you read, every bit of horror, is made all the more horrible by the fact real human motivations are involved. In this story, the ingenuity is in the way the women react. Bothered there is no climax, or as I would imagine, denouement. It is simply left to their imaginations. And by proxy of this, to the imagination of the reader, to devise.

In many ways, then, I think superstition works to highlight the re-creative capacities of language and all art. It makes us invent. Requires us to mine our imagination and fear, to find here something akin to a relic. A relic of a mask of our core; I should say, a relic of a mask hiding our core. We put up so many affronts. So many affronts of worth and bravado, one of the hardest things is to be brought to ourselves. And I must admit, this little story from tonight, made me realize how real such stories are, because they do just that. They bring us to ourselves by making ourselves imagine what happened. And, once we put the heebie jeebies of superstition beyond us, we're left with what?

A soul that cannot be seen, but a personality (of it) that will, unfortunately, be gleaned.

Friday, March 26, 2010


A woman I'm discovering, from the early-mid twentieth century, Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, said, "total absence of humor renders life impossible." And I'm going to pursue tonight's blog on this bent. Seeing as I'm on a Colette Slant.

I won't delve into the luxuries of her lesbian affairs. Or her life. Or works, even. I just want to render some truth to this idea, which we all know is true, but could, alas, use some rendering. Life has been difficult, for all of us. There are times when I just want my mind to halt, and go Kaput. Not in the comatose sense, or la somnambule sense, more in the, I just want to be something vital, without thought, sense. At moments, like now, I'm through with being tormented, would prefer this depression eased its grip, and let me walk alone, through what I do not know.

To make a joy of sorrow and a sorrow of bliss, this is absurdness. Quotidian thought of the night: we need humor. At times, it's hard to realize. When we're in the throes of loss and sadness and violence, we do not really want to laugh. But, the awareness of joy is made all the more prevalent. I'm not going to go into the ying-yang theory. Nothing of that sort. But I will say, seeing as joy is really sorrow's antithesis, it's only in the throes of sorrow that we can really appreciate joy. I've lost this. Somehow. I've become pulled by Scylla and Charybdis, into some confining free-fall (whirlpool) of shame and monstrosity. I'm sure you'd like to hear of things other than my sadness, pain, lugubriousness, etc., But, I have been guilty of letting joy flit away. And being aware it's there, all the while, aware and made the worse for it; for it had the guile to fly, and I have the guile to sit still.

People offer some scintillating suggestions. Get buzzed. Get high. Get yourself unleashed in every possible way. But, I'm seeking something else. I want humor back, only, when it is back, to realize it was never away. And I think it's this awakening that I'm stumbling upon tonight. The joy never ceases. I can have one of those brains science says is wired to be pessimistic, but, that joy exists, that humor exists, makes life so much more... palatable.

I came up with that bit earlier on, to make a joy of sorrow and a sorrow of bliss, this is absurdness, after reading Daniil Kharms. Daniil grasped this idea. And, while I'm just learning about it all, the absurd, the way to compact a story to a paragraph, without saying anything of the protagonist except, let's not speak of him anymore, and still making it relevant, people are making it omnipresent. Omnipresent and all powerful. I think one of the things every writer must learn, is that, no matter how sorrowful your work is, there must at least be an intent of humor. An awareness of it, albeit slight or intense. I learned this writing my first manuscript/novel, and yes, I still need to send out queries, revise them more specifically. There's tragedy to it, part of its inspiration comes from King Lear and that lovely British poet of the nineteenth century John Clare, more specifically his sad and probably most famous poem, I Am, but despite this, despite all the tragedy, Cordelia and Gregory and Myrhna (my big three), still have the gall to pull a Lysistrata, on the men of Loonali, that, and put on a kick ass gala, with Gregory stripping to nothing, wearing a boa and lipstick, in a world where sexuality becomes a thing of... absurdity.

My book would lack were it not for that scene. And I believe this is true of so much in life. We'll have science tell us the truth. That we're really an end result of chemistry and biology, processes in our brains that really do exceed us. So, sometimes sadness seems the only option; but, just as silence is louder than sound, sadness is more joyous than bliss. And, I wonder, sometimes, if we could get to a point where we stop being the end-result. Where we stop being the effect of our brains, recognize how everything is functioning, and embody a world where the "effects" of joy and sadness are more appreciated for their slippery cores. For knowing where it all comes from, but not knowing too. Because, again, we are enveloped in the everness of neverness.

Given this, what can we do, but laugh? The world is so incredibly ridiculous, so ridiculously sad and unjust, maybe laughter is the only shrift and justice we are given. And can give.

I'll leave you all with that thought tonight, as I go in half an hour to dabble in The East End. And please excuse me if my blogs this weekend are incredibly brief, (shall I be a windbag like Polonius now?), but, I'll be quite busy. So, I may not even post. You'll have to do without me, then. I imagine this won't be hard; just remember, if you want me at all in your gut or mind, life is not a mirror image of we, us. What separates us/we from the rest of the world, from death, from resistance, is a sheet of thin glass. To break, or not to break? THAT, my dears, is the question.

Bonne Nuit!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Sonata and such...

It was early summer. I was 22, sitting outside, listening to Beethoven's Spring, and reading DH Lawrence. Specifically, his study on Thomas Hardy. And what grabbed me from that work wasn't really just his analysis, but his intro. When he describes the lush vitality of red poppies, and segues into this lifeblood, by ascertaining what a "death in life" is.

I'm telling you this because I didn't post last night. And for that, you have my apologies. I didn't post because I was too depressed. And even "depressed" seems like a trite word to use for the overwhelming sadness, hopelessness, self-critique, which is really self-hatred, and anomie, which ensued. Perhaps as this blog progresses I'll detail more what's happening to my immediate family (my folks, and sister and brothers). Now, I just want to vocalize the horrendous quality of a "death in life."

A death in life really happens when there's an aspect of you still vital. Something beneath the surface begging to be let free. A character in my second novel lives by the affirmation that people don't change. That, all we do is put on different masks, but at our core, there's still the same vulnerability, the same perception, of a child. When people stray too far from this, and let the mask overwhelm so that it does become a makeshift core, they lose everything that makes them vital. And become instead a reflection of the resistance between shadow and sun. When you experience a death in life, you do become a mask. You become the mask that thinks it can't do anything, the one that self-berates, the one that makes you feel death would be better than persisting. Because, even as the taste of living is still there, even as you've eaten your share of apples, it's just that, something at the core you can forget. But will incontrovertibly remember; because the forgetting is superficial, its' the remembrance of vitality that makes this dying all the worse. So things lose value. And you're left in the insistent clutch of anomie.

I'm trying to figure out how to come to a new valuation, from this. Like nihilism, it eradicates worth. But also embodies it, because you know a change must come about. I think the most tragic characters, in history, and literature, and film, are the ones who think they can change their core, but cannot change the mask. There are maybe a few I can think of. Orpheus, for one. For those of you unfamiliar with the myth, he had the most beautiful voice, a voice you think would come from the stars in song. His love, Eurydice, was, I think, bitten by a snake or something of that sort and sent to Hades. Orpheus was so distraught, that he went there, and was told he could lead Eurydice out with his song, but couldn't look back upon her, to see if she was following him. When he looked back to see if Eurydice was there, I used to think it was because, with such a conception of possible demise, he desired the lifeblood of her eyes. Now, I'm resigned to the thought he was only making sure she was following; which, yes, does preserve his vulnerability, but also eradicates the trust, another endemic trust fund set up by our core. He wears the mask of distrust, and this overwhelms him so much, he loses grasp of the beauty of his voice leading Eurydice out, of Hades, the beauty of his love, so she ends up going back to Hell and he is devoured by Maenads.

Really, what could be more tragic than that?

Masks can be many things. Ideas. Images. Persona. I think the blight of our Western culture is the fact it has become so image based. People care so much about how they appear to others, I'm a victim... conspirator... of it, when I was on Prednisone and my face took on that "moon shape" quality and I gained a lot of weight, I didn't want to go out. And, eventhough some of us may recognize our inherent vulnerability and trust, it is often assassinated by those who have abandoned it, to pursue the mask of "beauty" and hubris.

So, what is beauty? To quote Gregory Clare, from my first novel, it is at best elusive and is its own design. I think collectively our culture has so misconstrued beauty's core. We've taken things like beauty, and have made masks for it, much like we fashion masks for ourselves, and pretend these masks are our core. But, I'm more on the slant of Gregory. I think it isn't something we see. And it does elude us; it's meant to. It's like the nothingness I spoke of in my previous blog. The "neverness," if you will. I have this thought that there's an invisible aspect to all of us, and I don't mean the "soul." I mean, we are a fruition of nature, natural processes. And beauty is really the core of these processes, something we'll never understand. Life can grow from the primordial, yes, but the primordial can never grow from life.

Beauty is scope and impact and retraction. It is that feeling we get when the first Spring flowers bloom. Smelling Convallaria (Lily of the Valley). Feeling the coolness after the rain. So much evokes pleasure, and beauty is in many ways pleasure, but it's a pleasure that exceeds our trite and superficial cultural conceptions of what's considered "beautiful." It is, as Cordelia Riley says in my first novel, the interconnectedness of nothing. It's that pulse that binds us, and gives us so many masks, so many charms, like the ones just listed (flowers, rain, etc.,), so our greatest sin is not recognizing its elusiveness. Is, in fact, taking it and making the masks it wears, without recognizing the slippery core.

Do forgive me if I seem to be at all pedantic or didactic. I'm just spouting my beliefs. One friend said I seemed to be on the verge of Sufism, at one point. Though I had said different things to evoke that reaction. Still, if you do anything for the remainder of today, just think about this. We are all really the nothing of something. It's when we reverse those roles, make ourselves the something of nothing, that we become... dead.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Voices of Aphorisms...

Before I progress, tonight, I must affirm that my blog from last eve was inspired by an interview Rebecca West gave with The Paris Review. Which leads me to this. History is very much a palimpsest. Our lives are written upon lives that have not been fully erased; by my estimation, what isn't erased is not our selection. We can preserve as much as we'd desire, and preservation is necessary. But, it is nature's aim that everything not be preserved collectively. Things are "erased," things fall apart, the center cannot hold (to quote Yeats, the fall apart and center cannot hold bit). And I think, things being collectively erased, only lends to the richness of individual heritage and culture. There are things only known by few, and this actually represents itself in nature, too. I don't mean to be dour, but when we decay, our bodies disappear, yes, but they are transformed. Matter is always conserved. Composing the universe invisibly; so, when we breathe, we are actually breathing and breeding our ancestry. What has come before us is thus endemic to the air, composing the world we see, but also digesting it, in a cycle where life and death try to meet at some point of resistance.

On another note, I was reading about WS Merwin. Who is one of my favorite poets, and still alive, mind you. I remember reading this poem he wrote about September once when I was shopping with my mom and sister. I found a seat in the store, and perused through it. And found it quite... magical. But the magic came to the point of sadness, after I read the last line, and saw when it was written or finished, a day before September 11, 2001. And it didn't make me think like Shelley, that yes, poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. It more made me think that the precariousness is always there, as we all know. Much as the future roots the tree (of life, yes I'm utilizing a tree as metaphor for life, quite cliche (!) ), it can always be uprooted by the pressure on the trunk (the present).

Antonio Porchia had a quote, an aphorism, I adore. WS Merwin translated his book, Voices, (Porchia's). It follows:

Only a few arrive at nothing, because the way is long.

When I was reading Borges' interview with The Paris Review, he emphasized the beauty of a word no one has used. No poet, I mean. And that is "neverness."

It's a bit ironic, too, because Borges was purportedly a fan of Porchia (I just found out tonight), and Porchia's aphorism seems quite relevant to me at 11:20 on Tuesday night. If I've learned anything, from being physically ill, and mentally "ill," depressed (Major Depression), it's that something can come of nothing. It may have been said differently in King Lear (nothing can come of nothing, my favorite Shakespearean play, by the by), but all that we are is just that, nothing. Lorca wrote it so beautiful in his poetry. So many poets and thinkers have attested to it. The nothingness surrounding us; think, Wallace Stevens' Snowman nothingness. The seeming emptiness surrounding us, that has us take a handful of without to put it within. Sometimes when you're sick, and you're forced inward, you see, or at least hope, there's something akin to the "soul," what I call intrinsic possibility. And you begin to see this capability in everything, everything you see. The composition, the naturalness of nothingness. But it's so much more, too. It's a feeling, more than anything, one that leads to the greatest revelation, that all life is really death, and vice versa. And I realize, yes, this is all a bit quotidian or cliche, but, when something like this becomes real, palpable, you've grown a notch, I'd like to believe. And you begin to see that Wordsworth may have been right, much as you'd like not to admit, child is the father of man, thoughts too deep for tears, etc., etc., Because, there's something to be said about what you grasp when you're a child. Let me see if I remember a Spanish rhyme:

On children's lips the singing carries, a tale confused, but pain still clear, the way clear water carries a strain, of love long past, and leaves it unsaid.

That should about sum up what I feel and what I am thinking tonight. The particular rhyme just placed has intrigued me for some time. When I first read it, I was already in the throes of Lupus and Major Depression. So, I read it, and could feel every word and intimation. I think, when you find you can feel something to such an extent, that it brings you to tears, it avows my adage of poetry. Poetry as an invented instinct. It reveals to us what we already know. And when you can feel the growth and adaptation and despair of an artist, when you can feel Keats on the cusp of dying in Ode To A Nightingale, or feel J.P Jacobsen's despair couched in Niels Lyhne, you not only sympathize, and empathize, but visualize the capacity and scope of... nothing.

There's more sound in the still night air than there is in a thousand trumpeting horns; in silence you have the awareness of sound, in sound, you only have its absence.

Bonne Nuit!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rachel and Malibran and Madame Viardot

I remember when I discovered Chopin had a romance/affair with Lady George Sand, I was quite... excited. I'd often imagine Chopin's sensitivity. His emotional and artistic insight, too. Sometimes, I'd put on Liszt (another friend of the two) or Chopin on quite loud, downstairs, while I was upstairs, just to pretend one of them was playing on the piano, just for me.

Today, I've discovered other magnificent characters. It's been said, when Daphne DU Maurier, the writer, tried to put Chopin's nocturnes to voice, she was mocked. But, one mezzo did it quite well. She was a friend of George Sand's and Chopin's, and went by the name Madame Viardot. Or Pauline Viardot. Or Pauline Garcia.

Miss Pauline was a leading 19th century French mezzo-soprano, pedagogue, and composer. She was of Spanish descent. And inspired a literary gem, Consuelo, from George Sand, the heroine of which was based on Pauline, aka Madame Viardot. Viardot led a luminous life. She was noted for her talent on the piano, and had even taken piano lessons with the young Franz Liszt. Viardot also performed in duets with Chopin, though her fame was in her singing, alas, it was. Turgenev was so smitten for her, after seeing Pauline perform in The Barber of Seville, that he installed himself in her household, and even treated her four children as his own.

Another historical tidbit I find amusing, and not in the humrous sense, simply in the, oh my, isn't this interesting, capacity (!), is that she inspired Berlioz, who had her in mind as Dido in Les Troyens; Berlioz changed his mind about this, which led to cool(er) relations between the two (him and Madame Viardot). Charles Gounod wrote the lead role in his opera Sapho, for her. And, much to my delight and surprise, Camille Saint Saens dedicated Samson and Delilah to her, and even considered her for the role (Delilah), but declined because of Viardot's age.

I was quite astonished to read the bit about Saint Saens. Only because, other than Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck), Samson And Delilah is my favorite opera. Bear in mind, I like Tosca, too, and I"m not an opera buff. By ANY means. I simply gather and garner knowledge and delight, whether it be musical or poet(ical) or philosophical, as I go.

I want to say that Pauline's older sister was a singer. Malibran. AKA Maria Felicia Garcia. And was compared, I think, by Alfred De Musset in an essay on Malibran and Rachel, the famous nineteenth century actress. Do forgive my blog seeming more like an encyclopedia, at the moment, as opposed to something rife with interest and opinion. But I want to inform those who have never heard of Rachel into her life.

Rachel, born Elizabeth Rachel Felix in Switzerland in 1821, was of Jewish descent. She revolutionized acting insomuch as she acquired and utilized minimalism. In physical gestures. She wasn't, as some would say, bombastic or hyperbolic, and her fame was in Tragedy. She romanced several Bonapartes, and when upbraided by a lover for not remaining faithful to him, she said, "I am as I am; I prefer renters to owners." In many ways revolutionizing feminine roles, albeit in a personal capacity. She died in 1858, in France *bear in mind she was a French actress,* of tuberculosis. And, what intrigues me about her history is the fact that Charlotte Bronte dedicated the character Vashti in Villette, to and after Rachel. Also, Rachel, a light tannish facial powder used in artificial light was named after her.

I suppose I'm a collector. I like to pick up these aspects of history, because, in my mind, they are not only notable and nostalgic but necessary. There's something to be said about discovering the lives of literary celebrity or musical celebrity long dead, finding an affinity with the characters at hand, but knowing more about their connections and lives, and thus coming to a personal interpretation of "Dasein." I read an article in one of my last graduate classes, about intertextuality. How everything, even the Declaration of Independence, is based on intertext, a sharing of words or thoughts from the past. So, those of us who would rather conserve a collective forgetfulness, admonishing the past as ridiculous and obscure, are really making ourselves just that, ridiculous and obscure. I'm going to abuse Proust again and say there's something to Remembrance of Things Past. I like to say we are not rooted in the past, but the future; we are each a massive tree, whose roots are the future, whose bark is the present, and whose leaves and branches are the past. Something so deceptively delicate, like an eyelid, severing what we can and cannot see. (That description is actually from my first manuscript/novel, the bit about the eyelid). The past, in many ways, is more vulnerable than the future, because it's vulnerable to destruction. Venerable yet unwilling to decay. I believe preservation should always be our philosophy; even if there are past moments in our own lives we'd like to forget, they are shaping. And there is a reason the memories are kept. Similarly, there's a reason history's memories are kept; if we lose them, we lose our hope and scope and everything in between. While there is a collective amnesia, noticeable in our times, I think this amnesia will be broken, so long as it's shaken. I don't want it to be shaken, because that might require a horrific event, but it will be.

Of final note, I often say beauty is the interconnectedness of nothing. And, I've never really thought of it this way. But if the "everness" of us is really "neverness," everything we are and do, historically, musically, artistically, philosophically, is reflected in nature. Evolution. Natural Selection, etc., etc., This may be another reason why I found Spellbound (read a previous blog for more about this) so intriguing.

There's something to be said about our lives not being the reflections of mirrors, but the revelation of glass. What we are and seem, the future, is always in some way manifested on the other side of the glass. So we don't get reflections of ourselves, as we persist. We get recollections, recollections which take us closer to ourselves by enlightening what we never thought we were.

Good Night, all, it's only 10:20 pm, raining, I'm thinking of Chopin's Raindrops sequence, which, I ALWAYS say this, but it is a beautiful manifestation of the falling rain, I do hope you have sweet dreams...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where I am, am I?

I can't quite muster much imagination or wit. I've just seen that Health Reform will be made into law; it passed, in other words. I'm not certain what the implications will be. I suppose, like all aspects of history, this is something you must watch. Interesting, how history and writing/art coincide. And not in the usual sense. Just in the sense that you must be a spectator for both, a spectator who exceeds participation, only to participate in its happening.

Because I'm lacking quite a bit tonight, I am going to provide the end of Session Four from my second novel, The Life Of Dedrick Forrester. To the few (?) who read this, Proteus is a figment of the speaker's (in this chapter Rick) imagination, and really an extenuation of Dedrick's psyche, his subconscious, trying to come to terms with the death of his (Dedrick's) younger brother, at the behest of a man who called himself Proteus. This novel has been an extraordinary venture, if only because as I write about the immediate experience at hand, the hardship of losing someone you love, I'm also commenting on how we make a ghost of things. And turning this process into a metaphor for artistic experience and re-creation. More about this at a later time. Now, I'd prefer you kept your gaze on this bit. The first part, mind you, is from Rick's journal, the remainder the finale of his fourth session, with Dr. Forrester:

. I miss touch and tongue and the rungs I climbed to get here. They weren’t stars. But stones that would roll upon you had you not climbed them with the right touch. I knew I wouldn’t end up like Sisyphus. But sometimes when you’re climbing, you forget, and the fear of forgetting is like going beyond the pale, into the veil, not even grasping its sacrificial shroud.
And Proteus, you’re the angel, or daemon, who took me here. Took me away from living into this facsimile of being. And I don’t know if it’s right to hug or punch, you. I love you so much, your hand loves mine, but there are moments when I see your sinister smirk, and wonder if you aren’t more a work of heaven than hell…
So, that’s all I wrote, for the first entry. Forgive me if it seemed a bit long. But I’m trying to come to terms, with it all. Don’t you understand? Proteus was more a mentor than daemon. But it’s when he mentored me that I always wished he were the daemon hiding behind my soul.
Our session isn’t up yet, right? It’s so strange talking to you. I’m looking in a mirror, the glass is shattering to bits, but I can still grasp the outline of your eyes. I want to write about it. Do you mind if I jot something down?
Nothing extraordinary. Just, in eyes the mirror rages you, to break and find your iris; tangled in blue, entangled by the shroud that mirrors you. I usually write better, well, when Proteus was here I was quite prolific. I could feel more; I wasn’t so much a thinker. And I know thinking is tantamount to everything, that all we experience is an interpretation of being. But how can one be but to be the effect of everything? The nerves that tangle us, the molecules, the space, how can we be anything but the fruition of this, pouncing our feelings, without analyzing them to death?
I miss the truth. The way I was as a child. I’m still that child, I suppose. But, I miss the smell of grass, and the things I imagined living beneath. I didn’t think there were ants and insects and spiders, like every normal child does. I thought there was a little version of me, watching as I re-lived everything he had already experienced, his little arms reaching out to me, to stop me, from plucking the wildflower, which was his shelter under the rain. Or digging up the dirt, where at night he’d hide his eyes and dreams.
That thought, of being re-lived, frightens me quite a bit. Some say I’m doing it via Proteus. But I don’t know. I suppose that’s for you to decipher. I only want a break, to have that gush of feeling encompass me again. Not the one that came when Proteus did. But the one that came when I’d reach my hand out to that little man in the grass, and feel his fingertips as needle-points, and hear the welt of this, his voice, really, telling me where not to go.

BONNE NUIT, quoth La Somnambule!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I suppose you could say I am spellbound. And, if I call myself what I am, La Somnambule, sleep-bound too. It's a little after midnight. I'm quite fatigued, so, dear reader(s)?, this will be brief.

I was fortunate enough to see Hitchcock(s) Spellbound today. And something other than the quote from Shakespeare that introduces the film, the one about blame not being in the stars but ourselves, something other than that intrigued me. The music. I once took a film class and the PHD student teaching it said music anchors films. The music from Spellbound verged from eerie to romantic, and switched in an invisible instant. I was pleased to see it won an Oscar just for that.

Another aspect of the film I found intriguing was the dream sequence. As all "buffs," which I am not, know, developed by Salvador Dali. Is it just me, or do the symbols in the dream representative of reality, in an amnesiac's mind, say something about surrealism? And the collective amnesia inherent in humanity? Is surrealism kind of, despite its other implications, an attempt to "unlock" our collective consciousness? And find therein some value to life, or maybe the value that only "neverness" can come of "everness?"

I was reading Nietzsche via Heidegger a while back. And the one thing I liked, that all philosophers fret upon, focus on, especially Nietzsche, according to Heidegger, is what we are. Why we're here, etc., And my answer is, we're matter. The Large Hadron Collider will tantamount this. We're a beautiful, tragic spectacle of it, but really, that's what we are. All all we can do is embody that cliche, live for the moment, even if in the moment you have no remembrance of things past (yes I abuse Proust sometimes in my phrasings)!

Amnesia is good because it erases the rhythms that might stymie us. But it also erases the rhythms that pull us forward. If amnesia is good for anything, it's remembrance. Perhaps that's the greatest lesson I learned from the film. Amnesia has peculiar rhythms... Persephone plucking Asphodel... etc.,

I best be off to sleep. And, FYI, that bit from my previous blog, though, about Twain, was an article he wrote for Harper's. He was at some government meeting, in Vienna. Quoth the stupid blogger (ME)! And she affirms it may have been in the 90's, which, in her time, was the 1890's.

It's time to bid adieu...

Bonne Nuit!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Vampires, West, and such...

I just saw a bit on the news, about a livery cab driver in the Bronx, who was, in the midst of defending himself from a gun wielding customer, bitten, on the arm, the neck, etc., The news anchors juxtaposed the security image of this perpetrator, the "VAMPIRE" as they call him, against a trademark image of Dracula. The resemblance, a bit intriguing. I'm not saying this Vampire, who left some atrocious bite marks on the livery cab driver, is really that. What I am proclaiming is... can one really be surprised? It is the Bronx, after all. And I don't say that in a demeaning manner, but, in the most whimsical way. Last year, it may have been, someone was shot with an arrow in the Bronx. My sister had a running joke after that about how crazy that borough is; she did teach there for a bit. I wonder how she'd react to this latest bit of news.

I'm going to divert from the Bronx Vampire, maybe there will be a Bronx Slayer, so as to go "Westerly." And, geographically speaking, I don't mean Rhode Island. This actually pertains to Rebecca West. I was reading her interview with The Paris Review today. I haven't finished it. But, she said some things on which I tend to agree. And this isn't about art. It's more about humanity, "feminism," etc., Bear in mind I'm paraphrasing her ideas, but, when asked if she'd ever espouse a religion, she said she would, because for humanity to be so silly and incomprehensible, one might need something equally silly and incomprehensible to, (this is me perverting her phrasing now), get through the day. Also, she thinks whatever "God" exists is still honing us, still working out our quirks and flaws, which to keep, etc.,

She also mentioned that Vietnam was an indication of a flaw America shared with all superpowers. Thinking they could actually control another country from abroad. This was Germany's mistake, and whatnot. And, bear in mind, she was BY NO MEANS equating the United States with the fascist Nazi scum found on the bottom of Germany's shoe, she was more saying this is a flaw of nature. Human beings don't really, by my interpretation. always have palpable bounds and logic. We are very much a work in progress. Prone to evolution, but constantly stymied by the dream of revolution when all we do is repeat history's mistakes, over, and under and over again.

I also learned something intriguing. Mark Twain made a note of the direction Germany would go in, Supreme Fascism, etc.,, as early as the 1890's. I'm going to make it my aim to find this piece, that he wrote. Once I find said piece, I will read and react. Rebecca (bear in mind that's her pseudonym, from an Ibsen play), Ms. West, was thrilled by Twain's prose. His clarity, his ability to take situations at hand, whether political or historical, and make so much wit. And there's a difference between wit and wisecracking. As a great woman said, something like this, wisecracking is verbal gymnastics, I'd say verbal Olympics, but wit, why wit has truth in it.

Funny, I remember in high school, when I was told history repeats itself, I found it such a bore. Such a horrid little cliche. But, alas, like all horrid little cliches, there's some truth to it. And I've thought about the danger of historicizing. Inventing history without a deep reference to the past. And I realized, this is true for literature, too. Ms. West said we have an endemic need, a longing for the written word, as embodied in art/literature. Well, imagine if we just abandoned the past. Eschewed tradition, which some will say is hegemonic, to continually go forward. But, the logical question follows... how can we move forward without the past as our reference? It's simple, really. Quotidian.

*My thoughts tonight are quite boring; do forgive this.*

One of my fears is that our civilization will go so awry as to forget the past, and re-live some historical fiascoes. Again. And Again. Over and Under and Over Again. And that whether or not art suffers, because of this, is entirely dependent on the audience. I do believe if Fascism rears its horrid receding hairline in The Western World, to a super power, the artistic mainstay will be ABSURDITY.

To make a joy of sorrow and a sorrow of bliss, what is the absurd, but this?

Dear Reader(s)?, I must be off, now. It's time to sleep. Where mask and flesh deny their schism and dreams defy elision, until nothing exceeds their vision (!) Sleep, or, as it's almost midnight, get myself horribly drunk and stoned. And those of you who know me, know, of course, I'm kidding. Not that I would mind getting buzzed, I prefer buzzed over losing all consciousness, or stoned, but, really, tonight seems to be about revelation. If I do stay up, I'll be La Somnambule. And maybe, as the somnambulist mystic, all somnambulists are mystics, in their own strange way, remember, it's kind of like, seeking antithesis from the Zombie's clutch, as the somnambulist mystic, I'll come to some theories that may intrigue, or bore. Tonight I fear I've bored. Do forgive this. At least I didn't delve into my theories of half revealed vacancies and accuracies, and double delusion(ary) inconsistencies! You should be grateful for this.

Bonne Nuit!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Truman (Capote), I've HAD my share of apples!

So, reader(s)?,

It's almost 5:30 pm, and I need to jot some things here. Indeed, it's one thing, really. I've been reading Volume One of The Paris Review Interviews. And, I've adored the enlightenment, and the wit, of Dorothy Parker, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemmingway, etc., One thing that particularly piqued... intrigued is a better word... me, is something Truman Capote said. About how we approach our work emotionally.

Just imagine, and I'm paraphrasing his idea, here, you've eaten an abundance of apples. Have only, in fact, eaten apples for an entire week. By the end of the week, you've gotten sick, more than likely, or at least have had your share of, said apples. You know them. And, of course, the taste of the apple is there.

If you apply this to the emotional capacities of art, I think it's an ingenious concept. Only because, before you write, you need to get all your emotions out. You need to, kind of, have a grasp of technicality, of function and form, and have the emotional taste in your gut. But it cannot be immediate and overwhelming. Rather, it must be detached. You can still feel it, but it doesn't overwhelm to the point that you're so much in laughter or tears you cannot progress.

People speak so much of artistic inspiration. How there must be something emotional and cathartic as pertains to art. And art is very much a re-birthing process, so you can be considered the Phoenix and exorcising Priestess all in one. In my experience, as an artist, you must be more like the fire that re-births the Firebird, as opposed to the Phoenix itself, and you must think less of catharsis and more of re-creation, and you MUST, MUST have some sort of detachment; otherwise your work will be half-there and goo goo and glop. Dorothy (Parker) said something wonderful in her interview, how Flaubert would despair for a day trying to find the right word. And, I do believe, this is how important it should be. Inspiration isn't just an emotion, I mean, it's a conflagration of persistence, insistence, and truth. It's not so much that you have to have an idea and apply it to your work; just speak with conviction, and don't take yourself too seriously. Simply, it's a game of balance, a game that requires scope, intuition, and, above all, exposition.

I'm still trying to figure what bend I want these blogs to take. If they should all be about things like this or if this would bore people endlessly! I only ask you, reader(s)?, to be patient, with me. There's a voice to be had in the "BLOG'SPHERE," I just haven't quite found mine yet, or at least, not a consistent theme. It seems to be, what ever intrigues me on that day, I will write about. But, I best be off to indulge in J. Cain's interview; Double Indemnity was a lovely film. And, I'd love to see Mildred Pierce. Perhaps tomorrow I'll speak to the importance of the written word, or any word, for that matter.

Now, I must bid adieu!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ocean(ic) Thoughts...

Dear Reader(s)?,

I love late-winter days when there are vernal intimations, and you can almost cup the zephyrs catching cold. This was such a day, spring-like, sunny. I took a walk on the shores of the Ocean (to those of you unfamiliar with my geography, I'm on the North Shore of Long Island, abutting The Sound, and the ocean is on the South Shore, 25-40 minutes, by car, from my home); there were breezes, there were slight waves, a few surfers in the water, and the smell, as anyone who has experienced the ocean would expect, exquisite! And it was here, walking, that something came back, to me. A girl etched her name in the sand, "KENZIE," and it reminded me of something from Ulysses. I think, in the Nausicaa chapter, it was Leo.(pold) POLDY (!) Bloom who wrote his name in the sand, after viewing Gerty McDowell on the beach. And this wasn't a crude, humdrum, girl in a bikini viewing. This was the early 1900's, when men were still crass, but alas, there was still more... class. And don't get me wrong, I know Ulysses was censored...banned, for a bit, in America, and I also know how horrid that is, because it offers so much to the artistic sphere. But, my point in this matter, is that, viewing Gerty, getting an ever so slight imaginative glance into her knickers, his stream of consciousness, albeit masturbatory, ensued. I think what people misconstrued in Joyce's era, was the necessity of making his stream of consciousness liquid, masturbatory, fertile, as opposed to eunuch-like. And the "I AM A" being written in the sand signifies so much. Hoe things can so easily change, the ineluctable modality of form, the cuckolding, Molly cuckolding him in action, he cuckolding her in this moment in thought, (and remember Molly is meant to be Penelope's "other," meant to embody a perversion of Penelope, Odysseus's fair, loyal companion/wife), the fact that I AM A will be washed away. Leopold leaving his imprint, what some would call a name, would be washed away, simply shows how prone to re-creation every form is. Particularly art. So, walking on the ocean, when I saw "KENZIE," I realized, yet again, the re-creative capabilities of all art. How a signature is left, somehow, but like the primordial, can only be conceived in imaginative mercy. Life can grow from the primordial, yes, but the primordial can never grow from life. Just as we can't color the primordial with anything save our endemic, human hues, so a reader or viewer can only capture a portion of an artist's emotion and impact. So much of it must be re-created in the readers' eyes. And I'm by no means espousing a misconstrued Barthesian "Death of the author," but a Descartesian, "Cogito Ergo Sum." THe author will always be there, incontrovertibly; what we must realize, to be good readers, good viewers, to be even deserving of what we encounter, is that we are responsible for the work being born, again. The artist is the fire that kills and reborns the phoenix, we are the dream of the phoenix's re-creation. *I also, mind you, indulged in the beautiful ocean winds, the again, lovely, smell, and collecting sea-shells and watching peoples' footprints in the sand, knowing they too, like "I AM A," would be washed away.* Bonne Nuit!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Blog

Dear reader(s)?,

I've never quite posted a blog, beyond MYSPACE. So, I am a slight novice as pertains to this sphere. Even so, I intend to take some minutes every day to write. Whether it be nonsensical, literary, or even poetical. Tonight, as I'm in a deadly mood, I'm posting a poem. It's quite... simple... and I can write better. I know because this was written some years ago... I may even have been a teenager when it was written But, what good are blogs if you cannot display yourself, in multifarious aspects. It, the poem, pertains, as you will see, to there being nothing in life but nothing of life, and "everness" of death:

There is no path but to the grave,
Though some may pave another way,
And dream that life can self-insert,
The world of loves that is our hurt.

But we, who've seen the many ways,
That life can turn our eyes astray,
So we won't view the life we're fed,
And feed instead on dreams long dead.

We know, life has not perfected,
The image, we see reflected,
Is not the life we'd like to live,
But all that life can never give.

Our mirror is the common way,
The only way, to live astray,
From all the sun, and shadows save,
There is no path but to the grave.

Forgive the dour quality of this piece, and its horrendous quality, too. I've just re-read it, and realize I've grown beyond lines like "The world of loves that is our hurt." And I know the value of metaphor. And even allusion. And this poem signifies nothing of that. What it does signify, is something I have been thinking, about.
Namely, the way death, and I would go so far as to say nihilism, is necessitated by life and valuation. I'm not quite sure what slant my blogs will take. But, for my first one, I'd like to insert the thought that there is an assertion in death. One that proclaims we must know the value of everything is nothing. But, to quote that beautiful word Borges found once, and used in an interview with The Paris Review, the value of "everness" is "neverness."
That is all, for now. I promise to be a bit more enlightening. A bit more... joyous, too, in the future. I may even bore you with the mundane aspects of my life, and even the most enthralling... perhaps not them... but, as a woman who has endured Systemic Lupus, Kidney Disease from Lupus, Major Depression, and people she loves dearly physically ill, I know the value of thought, and communication. I suppose blogs are remarkable because they foster both (?).

XOXO reader(s)?