Monday, December 14, 2015

Soundings of A Cretan Eye / I / Aye

In the introduction to the epic poem and magnum opus, "The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel", by the philosopher-poet-author-statesman-teacher, Nikos Kazantzakis, his translator, Kimon Friar, explains Kazantzakis' elan vital:

Odysseus is the “man of many turns,” which for Homer probably meant the much-traveled man, for his enemies the man of chameleon duplicity, unstable and unscrupulous, and for his friends the resourceful and versatile man, ready for all emergencies. He is cruel yet compassionate, modest yet boastful, cunning yet straightforward, heavy-handed yet gentle, affectionate yet harsh, aristocratic yet public-spirited, sensual yet ascetic, a man of mixed motives in a constant state of ethical tension. Only such a complex and contradictory character could hope to give the Greeks, from ancient days to the present, a sufficiently satisfying pattern of their lives and aspirations, and this is why his myth is no less living today than it was almost three thousand years ago. Only one of the twelve Olympian deities had a character equally complex—she who in Homer was Odysseus’ constant companion and protector, and for whom the Athenians named their city as a tribute to both their involved temperaments: Athena. Kazantzakis and Odysseus are creatures of double vision, of the third inner eye, or the “Cretan Glance” which, caught between two conflicting currents—one ever ascending toward composition, toward life, toward immortality, and the other ever descending toward decomposition, toward matter, toward death—glimpses the ideal synthesis and yearns for its almost impossible embodiment in life and work.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

COTUS: "See Something. Say Something"

Those authorities in whom we have invested the public trust have issued the following carefully wrought plan to prevent widespread death and disaster in the future:

They have told us this: "If you see something. Say something."

We are saying that we are seeing that the Congress of the United States refuses to prevent the mass slaughter of innocents by its action of voting down measures to decrease the possibility of suspected terrorists from purchasing assault weapons and ammunition for the express purpose of killing American citizens, any bystanders, and first responders.

We are of the opinion that the first responders to these bloodlettings are not alone in their befuddlement and anger over the asinine, greedy, self-serving behavior of our elected officials.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Use of Force

There is undeniably "a certain blindness" of some human beings in their view of others. In the following, an ending of a short story written by William Carlos Williams entitled, "The Use of Force", the ancient and powerful precept, "First, do no harm," is put to a rigorous test, as is the good doctor who has painfully learned that the means often justify the ends in a life or death crisis.

…But the worst of it was that I too had got beyond reason. I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her. My face was burning with it.

The damned little brat must be protected against her own idiocy, one says to one’s self at such times. Others must be protected against her. It is a social necessity. And all these things are true. But a blind fury, a feeling of adult shame, bred of a longing for muscular release are the operatives. One goes on to the end.

In a final unreasoning assault I overpowered the child’s neck and jaws. I forced the heavy silver spoon back of her teeth and down her throat till she gagged. And there it was—both tonsils covered with membrane. She had fought valiantly to keep me from knowing her secret. She had been hiding that sore throat for three days at least and lying to her parents in order to escape just such an outcome as this. Now truly she was furious. She had been on the defensive before but now she attacked. Tried to get off her father’s lap and fly at me while tears of defeat blinded her eyes.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Howling ModPo

ModPo is at once a love-fest and a learning-fest.
What two things are more necessary
In such a restless world as this is?

To begin—
Enroll before November 23, 2015.
Then, open, scratch, and sniff around for a year, at your leisure, 
until next September's sessions fire up again—
a rave new world of sensual pleasure awaits.

As a septuagenarian I am surely not your average ModPo participant, but then, I am not your average MOOCher, either. Given that, I have a few words to describe my experience for the last two years with the Coursera ModPo group that may be of some interest to those considering the value of the program, the efficacy of its pedagogical methodology, and the importance of its continuing to inject fresh faces, living or dead, into the “babble flow” from which our art, culture, and society can either spread like a paradisiacal, or like a hellish, pandemic.
Firstly, my ModPo experience has enabled me to expand my horizon as a seeker of truth and beauty. The course has sharpened my reading skills, honed my analytical skills, and enhanced my appreciation for original forms of thought and expression.
Secondly, the discussions of a seemingly infinite variety of personal observations and interpretations of each syllable, word, line, pause, stop and stanza, whether in the open discussion forums, the web panel discussions, or the weekly webcasts stimulates new flows of thought while building and displaying new patterns of language in such an active and dynamic way that it cannot help but reinforce the entire structure. Form and content are merged into a viable, cogent, living, breathing, growing body of work—as if the artists and audience were standing side by side in collaboration creating a forever new, forever curious, forever dazzling display.
Thirdly, Dear Reader (I warned you that I was one of the Old Ones), ModPo invites your presence so as "to detain you", as the poet, Cid Corman, does, and you will learn to do as well.

By Flushing Bay

as others cleave gates and wait on-deck in fearful circles
as I must ply gamboling grapplingrateful for fiber-optic streams

as immortal diamonds ebb and flubb beyond mobile coils
as mighty captains flail in their pumpkin-colored nights

as frost-nibbled noses glad-band in the land of Festivus
as hearts are swallowed by chalk-lined bellies abloat with beer

as in opposing dugouts windblown eyes squinting from hollow pits
as in opposing dugouts players screaming howling squalls of sorrow
as in opposing dugouts smiling stretching vomitting squeals of joy

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Host of Narratives

The Bourne Predicament
by Robert L. Keeperman
     Jason smashed the spy’s noggin with yesterday’s Italian bread and before you could say “boo” the naked lady came out crying from under the bed.
     He told her to get dressed and meet him tomorrow in China.
     “But, I don’t even know you,” she cried.
     “Me too,” he shrugged.

On Wanker’s Pond
By Henry D. Keeperman
     Would it not be dear to march myself into the woodlands to reside? Thither, I would raise a shelter with borrowed tools. Like as not, I would thrive on elderberries and sassafras. Of course, I must forswear further schooling, but would the wise man not deem that a just sacrifice?

The Old Man and The Tree
By Ernest H. Keeperman
     He sat and saw them jump and slobber, claw and bark. It seemed forever that he had been treed by those devil dogs below, their teeth bared and throats hoarse. This was his tree. His branch. He had to pee a storm. At last, he knew he had them where he wanted them.

Of Human Badinage
By W. Somerset Keeperman
     “Philip, heal thyself,” he thought. The trace of a smile appeared in his head. On his face, however, only a grimace had formed. He limped over to his desk and stared deeply at her portrait.
     “Not a bad shot from a Brownie,” Mildred said, erasing even his phantom smile.

Däs Fiergegängenmitbellsundclängen
By Kurt V. Keeperman
     Hank hated extremes. He liked things calm.
     So, when the fire- and ice-storms began, he thought about becoming enraged. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t quite do it.
     So, he calmly wrote about what he saw until the day that his fingers froze and his pen melted.                

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Culture Tap

From a Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart, the author of Absurdistan, this horrifying excerpt out of our fictional lives follows.

“I noticed that some of the first-class people were staring me down for having an open book. 'Duder, that thing smells like wet socks,' said the young jock next to me, a senior Credit ape at LandO’LakesGMFord. I quickly sealed the Chekhov in my carry-on, stowing it far in the overhead bin. As the passengers returned to their flickering displays, I took out my äppärät and began to thump it loudly with my finger to show how much I loved all things digital, while sneaking nervous glances at the throbbing cavern around me, the wine-dulled business travelers lost to their own electronic lives.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lies My Father Told Me, Too

As Moishe Keeperman the oldest, at age 6, you helped your widowed mother, Lillian, who spoke only Yiddish, raise her four kids up-and-out of the Great Depression.

As Moishe Keeperman you played the violin until the night your mother broke it over your head for missing a three-cent lesson from Rabbi Schimmelstein, and then tied you up naked in the bathtub and called all the neighbors from the tenements into your railroad flat to witness your punishment.

As Morris Keeperman you were an all-NYC track-star (see here, in this hallowed tin can, all this weighty, jingling brass, can you even lift it?) the pride of the new DeWitt Clinton High School’s first graduating class.

As Monte King you became the night manager, if only they knew you were a Jew—oi—you think you know from tsuris, don’t ask—gevalt—if they would have caught you—of the prestigious downtown New York Athletic Club. Someday you promised, “I will tell you about the stock tips they used to give me, but maybe it’s not such a good idea to tell you. We'll see.”

As Monte King you bootlegged whisky--what else?--for Dutch Schultz, ran a floating crap-game on Harlem rooftops, ran numbers for bookies, and hustled shopping bags downtown with your dutiful, worshipful brothers, for pennies apiece.

As Kewpie Keeperman you lived for 6 years off the ponies, yourself running up and down the East Coast from Narragansett to Hialeah, wiring money home to us weekly.

As Monte Keeperman when Ma resigned from the OSS and applied for a gig at The Treasury Department how you had to go straight, so you bought a newsstand on a busy corner of the Bronx and raked in a fortune reading the Morning Telegraph and getting paid for sure things from an endless stream of winners and losers: 10% of the winnings, 0% of the losings. Piecework, horse sense, whatever.

As Monte  Keeperman you closed the newsstand after 12 years and became the financial officer of a corporation from which you retired at age 62, and bought a house down the street from Monticello Raceway for which you paid at a Sullivan County bank 32,000 silver dollars that you had collected during your years selling newspapers and had tossed quietly into a bucket.

As Monte Keeperman you saw your wife retire and get a nice plaque from Dick Nixon for her nearly 40 years of service to her country, so you bought a condo in Palm Beach for yourselves.

As Monte Keeperman you went bowling for nearly 20 years in air-conditioned Florida bowling alleys three times a week, averaging an ABC-sanctioned 200+ until one day seventeen years ago tomorrow you left Don Carter Lanes, lit a Camel regular in your 100+ degree spanking-brand-new white Mercury Sable and choked on the smoke until your heart stopped. When I got the phone call I was at the Low-Tor Bowling Alley 1,200 miles away getting ready to pick up a spare for my team, "The Mixed Nuts".

As Ronald Keeperman what I know that is not a lie is that you were getting ready to drive that car home with the one-arm you did not lose in 1942, four months before I was born. Given all that I’ve actually seen you do, I have no reason to believe that your proud son would not have picked up that spare—had he stayed another minute at the lanes. We miss you every day, Pop.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Is A Thing of Beauty...

To quote Michael Schmidt from his obituary for the poet Charles Tomlinson in the Guardian a couple of months ago:

"John Betjeman said: “I hold Charles Tomlinson’s poetry in high regard. His is closely wrought work, not a word wasted … ” For the American objectivist poet George Oppen, “it is [Tomlinson] and Basil Bunting who have spoken most vividly to American poets”. Tomlinson bridged the vast gulf between old and new world poetry, and was an heir equally of Dryden and Williams, Coleridge and Pound. His 16 collections of poetry, books of essays, translations and anthologies are a core resource for English writers and readers of the last half-century, yet he has been more honoured abroad than at home."


I was self-directed to an old edition of The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry after reading, on the inside cover of the October 2015 edition of Poetry magazine, a 9-line offering by Tomlinson which I found at once inspiring, not merely because of its quiet elegance, but also because of its bone-touching, truth-showing, powerful message: We are not alone during our lives, and we will never be alone, not even in death. Certainly, Tomlinson, even in death, communes with the natural world in all of its wonder.


Below another 9 lines, these from the final stanza of Tomlinson's poem, "On the Hall at Stowey", I offer proof of that assertion.

"Five centuries. And we? What we had not
     Made ugly, we had laid to waste--
Left (I should say) the office to nature
     Whose blind battery, best fitted to perform it
Outdoes us, completes by persistence
     All that our negligence fails in. Saddened,
Yet angered beyond sadness, where the road
     Doubled upon itself I halted, for a moment
Facing the empty house and its laden barns."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Poetic Justice

For the conclusion of John Van Doren's illuminating lecture, "Poetic Justice," as a part of the Law and Literature Series at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law (April 5, 1995), Van Doren (then President of the Poetry Center of Chicago) remarked:

"I recall hearing that, years ago, the meetings of the English Department at a great university were always held at three o'clock on Friday afternoons. The younger, idealistic faculty members once asked the chairman why he scheduled them at such an hour, when everybody wanted to leave, when there was time only for administrative matters and none left to discuss literature. Should we not be discussing literature, he was asked? Oh, he said, if we did anything like that, we'd never get home in time for dinner.

"I do not know how it will be for you students in days to come, but I should like to think that, at least now and then, when you arrive home late to find that your meat has grown cold and your spouse asks you where on earth you have been, you will be able to present a straight face and say that you could not get away sooner, you were studying justice--that is, you were reading poetry. I wish you good luck."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Place of Hard Hits, Timely Tackles, and Solid Sacks: You've Entered the 'End Zone'

“How lovely it is that there are words and sounds. Are not words and sounds rainbows and illusive bridges between things which are eternally apart?” 

― Friedrich NietzscheThus Spoke Zarathustra


In Don DeLillo's early novel, End Zone, there is much ado about something untellable, something unthinkable looming, not just for the protagonist, but for the author, his reader, and all of civilization, as well. Peek-a-book below:


"I graduate," Deering said. "Talk about nothing happening, that's the biggest nothing there is. That's the ultimate nothing. I graduate in the spring."

"No more football," Billy Mast said.

I'm all through school. I graduate. I'm gone for good."

"No more football. No more hitting. No more sweat and pain. No more fear."

"I can't believe it."

"No more being yelled out and cursed by those insane coaches. No more running in the heat. No more two laps around the goal posts. No more getting kicked and elbowed and spat upon."

"It's awful. I can't accept it. It's a bitch."

.  .  .

Howard Lowry, Billy's roommate, came in and sat on the desk, addressing himself to Billy.

"People keep bringing up that course you're taking. The untellable. I keep hearing about that course. Nobody talks about it but I heep hearing."

"So do I," Ted Joost said.

"There's not much I can say about it," Billy said.

"You can tell us what goes on."

"We delve into the untellable."

"How deep?" Bobby Iselin said.

"It's hard to tell. I don't think anybody knows how deep the untellable is. We've done a certain amount of delving. We plan to delve some more. That's about all I can tell you."

"But what do you talk about?" Howard said. "There are ten of you in there and there's some kind of instructor or professor. You must say things to each other."

"We shout in German a lot. There are different language exercises we take turns doing. We may go on a field trip next week. I don't know where to."

"But you don't know German. I know damn well you don't. I'm your damn roommate. I know things about you."

"Unfortunately I've picked up a few words. I guess that's one of the hazards in a course like this. You pick up things you're better off without. The course is pretty experimental. It's given by a man who may or may not have spent three and a half years in one of the camps. He doesn't think there'll be a final exam."

"Why things in German?" Ted Joost said.

"I think the theory is if any words exist beyond speech, they're probably German words, or pretty close."

"What do I say to people who keep bringing up the untellable?" Howard said.

"It's a three-credit course. It's a very hard course, no matter how bright you are. And apparently there are field trips. I don't know what else you can tell them."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Joseph Pulitzer: "Indegoddampendent"

Precious: A précis of  Pulitzer's prizes.

The growth of money power in this country has been very fabulous and its connections with and interest in the Government alarming...Let us never have a Government in Washington owing its retention to the power of the millionaires rather than to the will of the millions.

Every issue of the paper presents an opportunity and a duty to say something courageous and true; to rise above the mediocre and conventional; to say something that will command the respect of the intelligent, the educated, the independent part of the community; to rise above fear of partisanship and fear of popular prejudice.

Always fight for progress and reform; never tolerate injustice or corruption; always fight demagogues of all parties; never belong to any party; always oppose privileged classes and public plunder; never lack sympathy for the poor; always remain devoted to the public welfare; never be satisfied with merely printing the news; always be drastically independent; never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

To Hawkeyes With Love and Squalor

"The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests."

--Alexander Hamilton, 1788

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Trumpety Publican Primary Primate Anthem


Here we go in a flung festoon,
Half-way up to the jealous moon!
Don't you envy our pranceful bands?
Don't you wish you had extra hands?
Wouldn't you like if your tails were -- so --
Curved in the shape of a Cupid's bow?
   Now you're angry, but -- never mind,
   Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!

Here we sit in a branchy row,
Thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do,
All complete, in a minute or two --
Something noble and grand and good,
Won by merely wishing we could.
   Now we're going to -- never mind,
   Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!

All the talk we ever have heard
Uttered by bat or beast or bird --
Hide or fin or scale or feather --
Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent!  Wonderful!  Once again!
Now we are talking just like men.

Let's pretend we are . . . never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
This is the way of the Monkey-kind.

Then join our leaping lines that scumfish through the pines,
That rocket by where, light and high, the wild-grape swings,
By the rubbish in our wake, and the noble noise we make,
Be sure, be sure we're going to do some splendid things.

--Rudyard Kipling

Friday, July 17, 2015

1929: Not So Far From the Madding Fall

For All The King's Horses and
For All The King's Men...a
by W.H. Auden

Sir, no man's enemy, forgiving all
But will his negative inversion, be prodigal: 
Send to us power and light, a sovereign touch 
Curing the intolerable neural itch, 
The exhaustion of weaning, the liar's quinsy, 
And the distortions of ingrown virginity. 
Prohibit sharply the rehearsed response 
And gradually correct the coward's stance; 
Cover in time with beams those in retreat 
That, spotted, they turn though the reverse were great; 
Publish each healer that in city lives 
Or country houses at the end of drives; 
Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at
New styles of architecture, a change of heart.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?

Peter L. Berger is a professor emeritus of sociology at Boston University. His most recent book is The Many Altars of Modernity: Towards a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age.

In his review of The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions, by Michael Walzer, he illustrates a point about the difficulty of cutting the ties that bind us to our traditional modes of being and believing. Berger happily notes:

"Rarely does a joke reveal a social and religious reality as sharply as this Israeli one: A woman and her young son are riding on a bus speaking Yiddish sometime in the 1950s. A staunch Labor Zionist fellow-passenger is annoyed and scolds her: "You are in Israel now, not in the diaspora. Why don't you speak Hebrew with your son?" To which she replies: "So that he won't forget that he is a Jew."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day, George Washington

There's time yet to make you proud.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Keep the Faith says a Prince of Bible Study

Colin Wilson has written: "Medieval culture was based on saints and visionaries; modern culture is based on Freud, Darwin and Marx. We envy Dante and Fra Angelico for having a heaven to soar into. And we recognize that men like Pascal, Blake, Swedenborg were attempting to reassert the basic reality of heaven, and so to create the conditions in which the spirit could soar. Our materialistic philosophy has made us slaves of the trivial. Yet how could Swedenborg and Blake begin to undermine this materialism? Only by asserting the solid "reality" of the visionary world. Blake said he saw a tree full of angels. Possibly he was lying--or exaggerating. But what of a man who says, "No, it is just a tree." Is he not lying too? Perhaps Blake's angels are closer to the truth..."

From a new translation (by George F. Dole) into modern English of the unique major work, Heaven and Hell, by the West's most remarkable philosopher and theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg

After death, a person is engaged in every sense, memory, thought, and affection he was engaged in the world: he leaves nothing behind except his earthly body.

Manifold experience has witnessed to me that when a person crosses over from the natural into the spiritual world, which happens when he dies, he carries with him everything that is his, or everything belonging to his person, except his earthly body. For when a person enters the spiritual world, or the life after death, he is in a body the way he was in this world. There seems to be no difference, since he does not feel or see any difference. But his body is spiritual, and so is separated and purified from earthly elements. Further, when something spiritual touches and sees something spiritual, it is just the same as when something natural touches and sees something natural.

As a result, when a person has become a spirit, he cannot tell he is not in the body he had in the world, and consequently does not know that he has died.

Further, the spirit person enjoys every outward and inward sense he enjoyed in the world. As before, he sees; as before, he hears and speaks, he smells and tastes; as before he feels the pressure when he is touched. He still yearns, wishes, craves, thinks, ponders, is moved, loves, and intends as before. A person who enjoyed scholarly work reads and writes as before. In a word, when a person crosses from one life to the other, or from one world to the other, it is as though he had gone from one place to another and had taken with himself all the things he possessed in his own right as a person. This holds true to the point that one cannot say that a person has lost anything of his own after death, which is a death of the earthly body alone.

He even carries his natural memory with him. For he keeps all the things he has heard, seen, read, learned, or thought in the world from earliest infancy right to the last moment of his life. However, since the natural items that dwell in his memory cannot be reproduced in a spiritual world, they quiesce the way they do with a person who is not thinking about them. Still, they can be duplicated when it pleases the Lord.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ruin Was Busting Out All Over

Albert Camus: A Life
by Olivier Todd

In the summer of 1939, Camus felt confused, as he wrote to Francine Faure, "I don't know if I'm going to take my vacation, and if I did, I'd want a month doing my own work in a place I liked. But I can't think about that today--I received the typed copy of Caligula [his new play] and on rereading it, I see I'll have to rewrite it all. Everything seems difficult to me, and I have to make an adaptation of La Condition humaine and get on with my novel. All that requires more energy than I've got, and how can anyone work when there's an ignoble threat of war?"

He wrote to Francine again a few days later: "Unless there's a miracle everything will collapse. I'm thinking of T. E. Lawrence's last statements: 'The world is waiting for a great movement of generosity or a great wave of death.' The wave is here, and for it to recede, each of us must do everything we can in his little circle to start the movement."

Although he was happily in love with Francine, Camus felt out of sorts with himself. After a brief vacation during which he worked on his own projects, from October 6, 1938 to October 28, 1939 he had learned the journalist's trade, helping to produce nearly four hundred issues of the Alger Republicain.

He was tempted by journalism because of the pressure of a daily deadline, the quickened  pace of European history, and his penchant for being a moralist. The newspaper's politics were sympathetic to the working classes and Moslems and opposed Franco in Spain, Nazism, and fascism.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

10 Words Beginning With the Letter 'A' That You Can Discover Just By Reading Stuff

ablative: a grammatical case used in the Latin language.
accoucherka: a midwife.
abseil: descend a steep faced rock-face using a double rope coiled round the body.
advowson: one who appoints a clergyman to receive a benefice.
agapanthus: an African lily.
alopecia: baldness.
Amitabha: The Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Light.
anhedonia: the sudden inability to derive pleasure from anything.
apotropaic: supposedly capable of turning away evil or misfortune by use of an unknown power.
autochthonous: aboriginal, earliest inhabitant.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Post: A Resurrection & Listicle for April

Francis Andrew March and his son, F.A. March, Jr., created A Thesaurus Dictionary of the English Language (c) 1902; a marvel of utility for a couple of generations of language lovers. Norman Cousins saw fit to guide its rebirth in 1958 under the auspices of Hanover House. An excerpt from this holistic risen treasure follows up.

Accomplish, etc. To bring to an issue by perseverance or skill, etc. See COMPLETION.
Achieve. To perform something worthy or honorable.
Acquire, etc. To get in one's possession by skill or purchase, etc. See GAIN.
Bear. To give birth to; to produce.
Bear fruit. Produce.
Be brought to bed. To give birth to a child.
Beget. To produce; to generate.
Breed. To produce young; to bring up.
Bring forth; bring into being; bring into existence; bring up.
Build. To construct, as a building; to put together by any process.
Call into being, call into existence. Create.
Carve. To accomplish or produce, as by cutting or carving.
Cause, etc. To be the cause of; to produce, etc. See CAUSE.
Chisel. To accomplish or achieve, as by carving or chiseling.
Coin. To make into coins; to fabricate.
Compose: To produce by putting together.
Constitute. To make up the substance of.
Construct. To bring together and put up as an edifice.
Contrive. To plan ingeniously; to design.
Create. To make come into existence either out of nothing or existing materials.
Develop. To cause to increase in power, strength, etc.
Do. Perform; make.
Drop. To bring forth; to give birth to, as young.
Ean. To bring forth young.
Edify. To build up as in morals, etc.
Engender. To cause to be in existence.
Erect. To set up, as a building.
Establish. To fix firmly; to set up and secure firmly.
Evolve. To open; to develop.
Fabricate: To construct by art; to invent.
Farrow. To bring forth young; said of swine.
Fecundate. To make fruitful, as in children.
Flower. To produce flowers; to bloom.
Forge. To make or shape by hammering; to alter with fraudulent intentions.
Form. To take existing materials and give shape to; to put in a particular shape.
Frame: To put together for some specific end.
Fructify. To make fruitful.
Gar. To cause.
Generate. To cause to be, to bring into being.
Get. To gain possession of; to come to be.
Give birth to. Bring forth by birth.
Hatch. To produce young from eggs by incubation.
Impregnate. To make pregnant or prolific.
Incubate. To hatch eggs by heating.
Induce. To produce by a course of reasoning.
Institute. To set up and put in operation.
Kindle. To light a fire; hence, to arouse, to produce an effect.
Kitten. To bring forth, as kittens.
Lay. To construct by a course of reasoning.
Lie in. To be in childbirth.
Make. To cause in all its various senses.
Make productive, etc. See FERTILITY.
Manufacture. To make by hand or machinery.
Operate. To accomplish; to conduct or manage affairs.
Organize. To bring the parts into connection and working harmony; to establish with cooperative parts.
Perform. To carry out; to execute completely.
Procreate. To produce by generation.
Produce. To bring into existence, as by nature; to manufacture.
Progenerate. To beget.
Pullulate. To germinate; to bud.
Pup. To bring forth young; said of a female dog.
Put together. Compose; construct.
Raise. To put up in a place; to cause to grow; to breed.
Rear. To bring up as children; to build up.
Run up. To put up rapidly and hurriedly, as a building; to put in a prominent place, as a flag.
Set up. Put up.
Superinduce. To induce in addition.
Suscitate. To call into life or activity.
Teem. To produce, as offspriing.
Usher into the world. To bring into existence.
Weave. To make by weaving; to construct with elaboration.
Yean. To bring forth young, as a sheep.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Confessions of a Mouthbreather

In 1938, afraid that the coming war in Europe might be the end of him, Henry Green decided to write, at 33, his autobiography, "Pack My Bag". It is an informative, entertaining account of a young man from the privileged class of England, a well-schooled lad with many insights to offer about the affects and effects of his upbringing on a Gloucestershire estate replete with horses, hounds, and the trappings of the hunt, his pressure-cooked Eton and Oxford education and engagement in the art of social climbing for one's very survival, and finally his happy brief time among the working-class at his parent's factory. The following excerpts are from these latter days among those common people whose company he enjoyed more than any others.

"I was soon to leave Oxford for good....I lived in lodgings, worked a forty-eight hour week first in the stores, then as a pattern-maker, then in the ironfoundry, in the brass foundry and finally as a coppersmith, and wrote at night. Week in week out I averaged eleven hours a day, so that I was only a visitor, I hardly took part at all in the life outside the "shop."...

"This was to make up for doing no work for years, with my hands or my head but only with my feelings. So that when I say I found the life satisfying and I had never before been satisfied, the long hours of being occupied may have coloured what I thought I saw so that it may only be, but surely this is more than just something, that the life was happy....

"The men themselves, the few that bothered to think about it, were of the opinion I had been sent there to be punished. They can take it from me theirs is one of the best ways to live provided that one has never been spoiled by moneyed leisure which is not as they would put it, something better....

"People are inclined to dismiss too airily the big difference money makes in the amount of security their money gives them. On three or four pounds a week life can be comfortable so long as the family is in good health, but what margin there is cannot cover protracted illness. That and the question of whether he can keep in work are the two great worries of the artisan, but this last does not bother him too much, if he knows his trade he can get another job except during one of the comparatively rare cycles of bad trade. As against this he need not think overmuch about his work while at it, and when he knocks off for the day he has no reason to think of it again until the next morning. On top of that there is the deep, the real satisfaction of making something with his hands. This has to be experienced to be believed, it is more than sensual and is obviously the purest form of self-expression....

"One and all are violently opinionated, it is not lack of education, I do not know what it is, and reading does surely require an open mind. They are like Americans, they may say they agree but they never listen, and this is one reason why they express themselves with an unheard of clarity. And their speech, unadulterated by literature as it is and unaffected when I was there by the B.B.C. has something which is much more than clearness. When they describe, as everyone knows, they are literally unsurpassed in the spoken word, as in the following:...

"In the trenches, in the War, before they were going over the top and they had an issue of rum, see, but one of the chaps felt a bit queer and put his down on the parapet because he reckoned he'd bring it up if he swallowed it. And a big rat come along and drank it down, then sits up and says, 'now for the cat'."...

"The gayest of all were the oldest labourers. Why this should be so I have no idea. It may be that their families had grown up so that the struggle to raise them was over at last, but most likely they had got into that blessed state when you forever cease to give a damn. Their obscenity, always in the form of comment or shouted advice was superb, beyond imagination magnificent. They had their off days but fewer than anyone else and some of the things they said, unprintable of course, will warm me always. If one should come to think of it at the end they would be worth dying for by those heroic comparisons in simple words so well chosen and arranged, so direct a communication they made one silly with laughing."

Monday, March 16, 2015

And Behold, A Living Rubric

Behold, the final paragraphs from "Hawthorne at Concord" exquisitely told by Philip McFarland:

<< "To sit down," a living consciousness had written on a certain Saturday in the fullness of life, twenty years before his death, "in a solitary place (or a busy and bustling one, if you please) and await such little events as may happen, or observe such noticeable points as the eyes fall upon around you. For instance, I sat down to-day--July 27th, 1844, at ten o'clock in the forenoon--in Sleepy Hollow, a shallow space scooped out among the woods." Just turned forty, Hawthorne was then living with his wife and four-month-old daughter at the Manse. Before him in his present solitude was this geologic opening, "pretty nearly circular, or oval, and two or three hundred yards--or perhaps four or five hundred--in diameter." A decade and more would pass before the concavity was made into the town cemetery. For now, nearby were surrounding woods, and a cornfield, and a pathway that knotted oaks overshadowed. Hawthorne would take note of it all: the twigs and decayed leaves on the pathway, the bird chirpings overhead, the "cheerful, sunny hum of the gladsome that you pardon them their intrusiveness and impertinence." In fact, at this instant a fly was "intent upon alighting on my nose. In my room, now--in a human habitation--I could find in my conscience to put him to death; but here we have intruded upon his own domain, which he holds in common with all other children of earth and 

air--and we have no right to slay him on his own ground."

But there was so much more to see in one quiet interlude, an inexhaustible panorama: last year's acorn chips strewn about, suggesting table services at fairy banquets, oak balls that kittens love to play with on the carpet, mosses, "And how strange is the gradual process with which we detect objects that are right before the eyes; here now are whortleberries, ripe and black, growing actually within reach of my hand, yet unseen till this moment. Were we to sit here all day, a week, a month, and doubtless a lifetime, objects would thus still be presenting themselves as new, though there would seem to be no reason why we should not have detected them all at the first moment." The shadow of a bird flits across a patch of sunlight on the ground. The blue sky, the fragrance of white pine, a breeze sighing with hardly imaginable gentleness, a red squirrel shrilly chirruping--and suddenly a mosquito, about which instinct prevails over "all the nonsense of sentiment; we crush him at once, and there is his grim and grisly corpse, the ugliest object in nature." Then comes the striking of the village clock, a a cow bell tinkling, and the whistle of a locomotive, telling its story of "busy men, citizens, from the hot street."

Yet look even closer at hand. Mushrooms. A colony of anthills. Like some malevolent giant, the observer dribbles grains of sand over the entrance of an ant dwelling. "And, behold, here comes one of the inhabitants, who has been abroad upon some public or private business, or perhaps to enjoy a fantastic walk--and cannot any longer find his own door. What surprise, what hurry, what confusion of mind, are expressed in all his movements! How inexplicable to him must be the agency that has effected this mischief. The incident will probably be long remembered in the annals of the ant-colony, and be talked of in the winter days, when they are making merry over their hoarded provisions."

All of Hawthorne's wonderful achievement would seem to be here in microcosm: the sharp observation, the freshness of insight, the recognition of truth's complexity, the incipient compassion, the wit, the stylistic charm, the story forming that involves dark fate. Yet, he concludes, "how narrow, scanty, and meagre, is this record of observation, compared with the immensity that was to be observed, within the bounds which I prescribed to myself. How shallow and scanty a stream of thought, too.--of distinct and expressed thought--compared with the broad tide of dim emotions, ideas, associations, which were flowing through the haunted regions of imagination, intellect, and sentiment, sometimes excited by what was around me, sometimes with no perceptible connection with them. When we see how little we can express, it is a wonder that any man ever takes up a pen a second time."

To our benefit, this man, Nathaniel Hawthorne, did take up his pen again and wrote The Scarlet Letter, wrote The House of the Seven Gables, here having used it to record a single Concord day, now long dead, that the wonder of his art keeps miraculously alive. >>

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What the Dickens Sayeth He?

Concluding remarks from American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens:

"It is an essential part of every national character to pique itself mightily upon its faults, and to deduce tokens of its virtue or its wisdom from their very exaggeration.  One great blemish in the popular mind of America, and the prolific parent of an innumerable brood of evils, is Universal Distrust.  Yet the American citizen plumes himself upon this spirit, even when he is sufficiently dispassionate to perceive the ruin it works; and will often adduce it, in spite of his own reason, as an instance of the great sagacity and acuteness of the people, and their superior shrewdness and independence."
"‘You carry,’ says the stranger, ‘this jealousy and distrust into every transaction of public life.  By repelling worthy men from your legislative assemblies, it has bred up a class of candidates for the suffrage, who, in their very act, disgrace your Institutions and your people’s choice.  It has rendered you so fickle, and so given to change, that your inconstancy has passed into a proverb; for you no sooner set up an idol firmly, than you are sure to pull it down and dash it into fragments: and this, because directly you reward a benefactor, or a public servant, you distrust him, merely because he is rewarded; and immediately apply yourselves to find out, either that you have been too bountiful in your acknowledgments, or he remiss in his deserts.  Any man who attains a high place among you, from the President downwards, may date his downfall from that moment; for any printed lie that any notorious villain pens, although it militate directly against the character and conduct of a life, appeals at once to your distrust, and is believed.  You will strain at a gnat in the way of trustfulness and confidence, however fairly won and well deserved; but you will swallow a whole caravan of camels, if they be laden with unworthy doubts and mean suspicions.  Is this well, think you, or likely to elevate the character of the governors or the governed, among you?’"
"The answer is invariably the same: ‘There’s freedom of opinion here, you know.  Every man thinks for himself, and we are not to be easily overreached.  That’s how our people come to be suspicious.’"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Hole of It: Mythadventures

When I was enjoying a tender age (pre-"Shot Heard 'Round the World") [Bobby Thomson's shot, not Lex. & Con.'s.] I had two children's books within my sticky-fingered grasp at home. One was an illustrated Children's Bible, and the other was R. L. Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. I never bothered to look for and read the Fairy Tales of the Grimm brothers, having already learned that I lived in an amoral society, I didn't need to have it rubbed in, or Lewis Carroll's, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, because Walt Disney ruined it for me by doing such a great job with his feature-film when I was 8 going on 9 in 1951.

So, ironically, thanks to Hollywood, I dove right into the other available books on my father's bookshelves. I was seven when I began to read Hervey Allen's trilogy (which weighed more than I) The City in the Dawn. I might finish reading it this year if my local library can track it down. There is supposed to be one copy extant in my surrounding counties where they are hopelessly searching. I want to finish reading it (not really) before I die, even if it kills me (also, not really.) [I think I read somewhere that Allen did, in fact, die before finishing it.] I see things through, usually (well, once-in-a-while) to the bitter end, out of stubborn habit (that part's on the bloody money) and a cautious pessimism borne of a cynical, skeptical, quasi-pragmatic, pseudo-longing for improbably happy endings. I have such foolish hope for the planet Earth, which by the way...ahem...brings me to the subject at hand for this particular blogposting: Fantasy & Science Fiction.

This is a very large subject, so I will probably need to post several additional components to round out and solidify my thoughts about both of these fields. To begin with, I have enrolled in a Massive Open Online Course the ( which started a week ago and will run for another nine weeks. I was assigned to read finally, in my dotage, Grimm's Children's and Household Tales, which I found, I think, more fascinating now than I would have when I was a kid. I would have thought it pure bunk back then when I knew everything, but now that I know better it struck me as being worthy of being called "art" (by me--who is always the final arbiter of such matters. My formula is simple, if I like it, it's art. If I don't like it, it may or not be somebody else's art. This evaluating mechanism has never failed me.) [By the way, when I put something in parentheses, it is because I am inviting you deeper into my mind, so take your shoes off, won't you, before you enter.] And alway, always, tread lightly, especially if you enter within any bracketed material.

I discovered while doing this week's Lewis Carroll assignment this, for example:

"A Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry

'Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe."

"Hence the literal English of the passage is:

It was evening, and the smooth active badgers were scratching and boring holes in the hill-side; all unhappy were the parrots, and the grave turtles squeaked out."


The above can be found in the Barnes & Noble Classic Edition ($7.95) of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, illus. by John Tenniel. With comprehensive material, including Introduction, Chronology, Notes, Biography, Inspired By, Comments & Questions, and suggestions For Further Reading all by the author, artist, critic and poet, Tan Lin.

Now young heads might roil with a swift swipe of a card,
Yet who would not gift such should it crack open a Bard?--REK

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Wrest His Case

When I was an adolescent, that is, before I learned that I didn't, in fact, know everything there was to know, I used to pick up the books that my father had just finished reading and read them on the sly. Just to keep him honest, I guess. Although, I guess he wasn't doing a good job of keeping me honest, because often I slid a Camel out of his sleeping packet, or relieved him of pocket change so I could buy editions of the Journal-American, or the World-Telegram and Sun, two newspapers that he felt unworthy, even, for wrapping fish. To my credit, I did deliver, door-to-door, Dorothy Schiff's Bronx Home News and imbibe, by inky osmosis, I suppose, a sense of what those commie-pinkos at the Post were trying to put over on us. All of this changed one day when he finished reading and closed a book that opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I didn't know everything after all.

That book was Philip Wylie's, "An Essay on Morals": A Science of Philosophy and a Philosophy of the Sciences / a Popular Explanation of the Jungian Theory of Human Instinct / a new Bible for the Bold Mind and a Way to Personal Peace by Logic / the Heretic's Handbook and Text for Honest skeptics, including a Description of Man suitable for an Atomic Age /  together with a Compendium of Means to Brotherhood in a Better World / and a Voyage beyond the Opposite Directions of Religion and Objective Truth, to Understanding / with a new preface by the author" (1951)

Below is an excerpt from that new preface to Wylie's, "An Essay on Morals"

"In the same letter in which he has expressed his general satisfaction with this effort to explain his basic theory, Dr. Jung has also said it may be five hundred years before the principle is popularly understood or widely put to use. If it is, I feel sure that man faces the worst half-millennium in his terrifying history. For man, today, must either quickly learn who and what he is and how he is governed by Nature or else he will indubitably employ the very forces of the sun to bring upon himself a sequence of hideous nights--of wars, rebellions, rampages, continental ruinations and sterile centuries. In such a case, this essay and all similar works will stand as mere inscriptions to be comprehended by the descendants of any who may have survived the agonies. The knowledge existed and was ignored, our voices will say: Kilroy was here. That token, and the present value of truth-seeking to such individuals as will undertake it, are the reasons for attempts to share an advanced science with a currently regressive society."

Friday, January 30, 2015

From an Air of the Troubador

"It is doubtful that any author could be as home in the world re-created in his novels as Louis Dearborn L'Amour. Not only could he physically fill the boots of the rugged characters he wrote about, but he literally "walked the land my characters walk."

"I think of myself in the oral tradition--as a troubador, a village tale-teller, the man in the shadows of the campfire. That's the way I'd like to be remembered--as a storyteller. A good storyteller."

From Kiowa Trail, one of the more than 100 books by the Medal of Freedom-winning author:

"It was after we got back to the ranch that Jim Sotherton started my education.

"Somehow or other we got on the subject of poetry and I quoted him some of 'Marmion' that I recalled from the readings at home. After that, there was a change.

"While I taught him to track and to live off the country like an Apache, he taught me all he could think of about English literature, history, and other subjects. At some time or other he had been an instructor in a military school in England--I think it was Sandhurst--and he knew a good deal about teaching.

"We spent a good bit of time riding over the country, and from time to time we went to San Antonio or to Austin, and then one day to New Orleans. There we went to a bank and Sotherton picked up some money, quite a lot of it, in gold.

"Then he bought some books and some new equipment, and he bought me a Henry .44 rifle.

"It was the day after we got back to the place at the foot of Burro Mesa that I found the tracks--and they were not Apache tracks. Somebody had been around the place while we were gone.

"Every man's track is distinctive. A man's trail is as easily recognized as his signature. In my own mind I was sure one of the men whose tracks I saw was . . . "

Monday, January 26, 2015

Retrieving Our Beautiful Due

Tomorrow it will be 6 years since John Updike died. He is noted for remarking that he wanted "to give the mundane its beautiful due," and it cannot be denied that he best succeeded when he applied himself to describing the life and times of Mr. Everyman, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. It is notable that when I came across the following poem written by another gifted writer, also a poet, her words conjured up for me, despite the degrees of separation in their socio-political views, an image of these two authors at rest, peaceful and hugely satisfied, melding well, at one with each other and as well with our Universe.

Come into Animal Presence

Come into animal presence.
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn't
quicken his trotting
across the track into the palm bush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

--Denise Levertov

Thursday, January 22, 2015

In Medias Res

From "Updike", Adam Begley's comprehensive and enlightening biography of America's eminently versatile and valuable author, John Updike, these lines, this perfect bouquet, picked from Updike's Collected Poems, 1953-1993.

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market--
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.

                                                   --John Updike

"The in-medias-res opening line, the verve, the rapid flow, the cheeky cynicism of the complaint--even the deflated last line--all remind us that despite his worries about death...the poet himself was very much alive. And thanks to the performance captured in "Perfection Wasted," he lives to this day, at least in the sense that his magic is preserved in the fourteen lines of the sonnet.

"But the old Shakespearean ploy of cheating death by grafting the perishable self onto 'eternal lines' of poetry works only if the sonnet continues to be read."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

First and Foremost is the Final Frontier

In his book of carefully wrought reflections, "Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer," the esteemed literary critic, Alfred Kazin, makes poignant observations about many acclaimed writers who had plied their talents and applied their arts in middlish 20th-century America. The following passage is but one of many sparkling gems an interested reader can find unearthed there:

"Certainly Nabokov's ideas about the simultaneity of all events in time are not original. Baudelaire said it all: 'Talent is nothing more nor less than childhood rediscovered at will -- a childhood now equipped for self-expression, with manhood's capacities and a power of analysis which enables it to order the mass of raw material which it has involuntarily accumulated.' Or as the painter Claes Oldenburg recently put it: 'Everything I do is completely original. I made it up when I was a little kid.'

"Self-sufficiency, for our time a major form of freedom, is Nabokov's real genius. And freedom as it expresses itself in and through the creative act is its object. There is finally no 'truth,' just this sense of freedom. Love is the pleasure of freedom. Even in lovemaking, genius is the only actor."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The State of Our State

From Alain de Botton's, "How Proust Can Change Your Life"

the following premise:

"There are few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness. Had we been placed on earth by a malign creator for the exclusive purpose of suffering, we would have good reason to congratulate ourselves on our enthusiastic response to the task. Reasons to be inconsolable abound: the frailty of our bodies, the fickleness of love, the insincerities of social life, the compromises of friendship, the deadening effects of habit. In the face of such persistent ills, we might naturally expect that no event would be awaited with greater anticipation than the moment of our own extinction."