Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spoiling for a nice day

I listened to an interview on the ra-
dio yesterday, with an energetic per-
son in London, fulfilling her commit-
ment to the saving of the climate by
This demonstration of the futility
of fossil fuels, interrupted as it 
was, filled her with intense grati-
fication, and nourished her resolve
to keep at it. It wasn't difficult
to empathize with this character of
punitive arrest, because the piling
of one's body upon others in a road
has about it the gay proficiency in
going nowhere, of the separation of
one's ass from a board on the water,
while its carbon footprint matches
the radiant inefficiency of fueling
a Beetle to get to the beach, when
one may tumble down stairs at home.
We all desire nice weather, and are
happy to exert ourselves to love it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Origins of Wednesday xciii: What strategies has Spring?

These are this season's weeks of
vulnerability in northern hemis-
pheric viticulture, when only
right-wing ostriches deny an es-
calated costliness in storm and
other weather patterns, includ-
ing prospects for deadly frost.
Technicians of the vine are al-
most powerless to mitigate this
exposure, and in many communit-
ies - often named for saints -
the interval before mid-May is
one of suspense, and much re-
sort to superstition. The real-
ity of the impartiality of the
season remains strangely over-
looked, but then whose seasons
are, any more, uncorrupted by
ourselves? Meanwhile, it will
be remembered, it wasn't until
the height of Summer that Rich-
ard Nixon was run out of town,
with his Pence gone before him.

This is a moment of awkward
experience for Americans, be-
ing governed by only one res-
ponsible Party, certain to be
savaged by a domestic polit-
ical combine the world hasn't
seen since the last of the Ro-
manovs, an axis of political,
judicial, media, and occult
institutions in league with a-
lien powers to block the path
of justice and reform - wily
enough, to goad patriots with
the specter of autocracy, and
not to fail to bribe clients
committed to the most noxious
and unsustainable policies in
every field of public interest.

What strategies has Spring, de-
spite appearances of passivity,
apart from its benign exposure?
Already a fated uproar of tech-
nicians can be heard, claiming
to translate it in their voice.
What strategies has Spring, but
to be overwritten by technique?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Suppose English really were of pigskin

A friend of mine, who bears the onerous
burden of painting and writing poetry in
a paradise within earshot of the tide at
Drake's Bay, has chided my irritation in
response to the abdication of editing at
The Washington Post, by reciting truisms
on the volatility of language, its por-
osity to enrichment. Being older than he
is, by two academic years, these salves
only chafe the mind, having endured just
that much more exposure to the language
at its undecadent best - to infinitives,
for example, kept intact for their alac-
rity to be unencumbered by distracting-
ly premature adverbial ornamentation.

Still, the war upon gerunds has gone so
far, as utterly to deprive them of their
native coherency as adjectives. The most
pristine example of this savagery emerged
from some subaltern bureaucrat in the in-
dustries subsisting on our health care,
with the term, "pre-existing," whose il-
legitimate place on this planet owes ev-
erything to vengeance against "existing"
for unimpeachable efficacy. I need hard-
ly belabor the sadistic cruelty of this
viral monstrosity, in view of its claim
to be recited in a compassionate context.

Just today, The Washington Post - and any
writers' syndicate it is, that publishes
E.J. Dionne - hotly leaps at the throat
of moral discipline, itself (a favorite
zone of his attentions), in his deliri-
ously wobbly invention, "pre-shaping."

      Barr's calculated sloth in making the re-
      port public gave the president [sic] and
      his AG sidekick an opportunity to pre-
      shape how its findings would be received.

Caesar, himself, could not have prepared
a battlefield with less "enriching" fire,
than Dionne would have his following do,
in shaping an inquiry of impeachment.
Talk about embodying the enemy, with a
head feint! This advice is enough to
enervate whole legions of unctuous de-
fenders of upright executive conduct,
on the spot. But is this not the point?
Is virility in language not a hallmark
of persuasion's deepest asset, thought?

Was there never, do you suppose, a rea-
son why the great rhetorical models of
this language's brief tenure as the
most widely distributed structure of
human expression on this planet, adapt-
ed themselves to the plain and simple
sinews of the fleetest mode of transit?

And if language were a football, as my
friend suggests it is, the rules of the
game may change all they like. But the
physics of its missile are well tested.
One can't gain yards with wobbly balls.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Many are making love

Many are making love. Up above, the angels
in the unshaken ether and crystal of human longing
are braiding one another's hair, which is strawberry blond
and the texture of cold rivers. They glance
down from time to time at the awkward ecstasy -
it must look to them like featherless birds
splashing in the spring puddle of a bed . .

 I've been making my own
 truant discoveries in the
 poetry of Robert Hass.

 Well, I'm sorry to have
 taken so long, but I do
 report from time to time
 from David Ferry, so I'm 
 in no position to claim 
 I've not been looking out.

and the angels are desolate. They hate it. They shudder pathetically
like lithographs of Victorian beggars
with perfect features and alabaster skin hawking rags . .

Robert Hass
The Privilege of Being
The Apple Trees
  at Olema
  New and Selected 
Harper Collins, 2010©