Even in absurdity, sacrament.     Even in hardship, holiness.     Even in doubt, faith.     Even in chaos, realization.    Even in paradox, blessedness


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"Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one's courage."    ~Anain Nin

{ Wednesday, 05 April, 2006 }

Burroughs: My Mother and I Would Like to Know

“We been tipped off a nude reefer party is going on here. Take the place apart, boys, and you folks keep your clothes on or I'll blow your filthy guts out.”

We put out false alarms on the police short wave directing patrol cars to nonexistent crimes and riots which enables us to strike somewhere else. Squads of false police search and beat the citizenry. False construction workers tear up streets, rupture water mains, cut power connections. Infra-sound installations set off every burglar alarm in the city. Our aim is total chaos.

Loft room, map of the city on the wall. Fifty boys with portable tape recorders record riots from TV. They are dressed in identical grey flannel suits. They strap on the recorders under gabardine topcoats and dust their clothes lightly with tear gas. They hit the rush hour in a flying wedge, riot recordings on full blast, police whistles, screams, breaking glass, crunch of night sticks, tear gas flapping from their clothes. They scatter, put on press cards, and come back to cover the action. Bearded Yippies rush down a street with hammers, breaking every window on both sides, leave a wake of screaming burglar alarms, strip off the beards, reverse collars, and they are fifty clean priests throwing gasoline bombs under every car - WHOOSH a block goes up behind them. In fireman uniforms, arrive with axes and hoses to finish the good work.

In Mexico, South and Central America, guerrilla units are forming an army of liberation to free the United States. In North Africa, from Tangier to Timbuktu, corresponding units prepare to liberate Western Europe and the United Kingdom. Despite disparate aims and personnel of its constituent members, the underground is agreed on basic objectives. We intend to march on the police machine everywhere. We intend to destroy the police machine and all its records. We intend to destroy all dogmatic verbal systems. The family unit and its cancerous expansion into tribes, countries, nations, we will eradicate at its vegetable roots. We don't want to hear any more family talk, mother talk, father talk, cop talk, priest talk, country talk or party talk. To put it country simple, we have heard enough bullshit.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:51 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 }

Why Mrs Blake Cried

When William Blake died in 1827, his widow Catherine appointed Frederick Tatham his literary and artistic executor. No sooner had Tatham accepted the position than he was, in the words of William Michael Rossetti, brother of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "beset" by "Swedenborgians, Irvingites, or other extreme sectaries", and compelled to thrust "a gag into the piteous mouth of Blake's corpse". What these timid souls feared was that Blake's remains would disclose his intense, frequently obsessive and occasionally pornographic interest in sex. Tatham's job amounted to a full-scale expurgation of what Blake's less unbuttoned followers considered obscene. Blake had left many drawings and manuscripts containing his most explicit sexual, religious and political expressions - all three were linked for him - and Tatham felt obliged to destroy these. The loss was irreparable, but some of the cover-up - literally - was less extreme. Joined by Blake's friend John Linnell, on some works Tatham only erased the offending words or images. When this proved impracticable they resorted to a fig leaf. Blake's original nude self-portrait for his Milton exhibited an erect and oddly blackened penis. One of Blake's prudish descendants mitigated the shock caused by the poet's proud member by drawing knickers over it. Thankfully, modern technology has restored much of this censored material, and what emerges is a vivid recognition that for Blake, sex was at the centre of his spiritual and domestic life.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:59 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 12 March, 2006 }

Isadore Upinsky: "On Impending Spring and the Turvy Side of a Topsy Life."

The thing about it is, is that the moon will always rise, the tides will always ebb and flow, and Spring will always come. As it happens this year, there are certain configuarations of human events which tumble about the mind and through the winds: war, famine, crumbing institutions, and earthquakes of social change. Yet, these configuations will change and scatter and blow so that each year, there is great uniqueness- and great similarity. The human dance is ongoing, ever changing, ever continuous. Until, of course, the Universe is done with our particular talents and quirks.

Yet I forsee that the forsythia and crocus will always be heralds of awakening. Day by day, songbirds will flock in ever greater numbers to the trees of their ancestors and sing the morning song, no matter the headlines or lack thereof. Spring peepers will make their orchestras in the marshland, and bats will dip and dive in the ruddy ecstasy of sunset. There is great continuity, and our presence for this brief glimpse of time is an audacious and sinuglar prize. We need not white-knuckle the fear of death, for it is simply the lever which rectifies and balances prize distribution. No pinball game can be played forever, yet the thrill of high score can make for golden memory through the entropy of flesh.

So, it is something I have said countless times: that we exist at all is sufficient. Indeed, that we exist and have a bit-part in this drama or comedy is frightfully sacred and at the same time, it is what the Universe does. We emerged from it, so it must somehow be a device intricately arranged to make life out of the organic hodge-podge. Accidental or purposeful? It does not matter, for it is simply enough. The odds are remarkably low for apples as much as they are for God, yet we are content to eat applesauce and pray. Absolutes get tipsy in this kind of moonlight and become romantically inclined ideas, if only for the moment. It's all honeysuckle.

Breathing a deep in full breath of this warming air is tribute to continuity. You, as a being, will not always be in this picture, but you helped to paint it, and it will never be the same. When we get caught up in the trivial, we do a disservice to the infinite, because we lose it if favor of the cute little human gizmos (philosophical and otherwise) used to keep us pretending that there is such a thing as the mundane. Some folks spend quite a bit of time trying to convince themselves that they are normal. Normal people. What is that? We have emerged from a fustercluck of carbon and goo to do the dance galactic for a short spin around the ballroom. An average life is a con, and the very idea will rust the limiting valve of perception shut. As we see everywhere in society.

I deeply encourage, at any time of seasonal change, to allow yourselves to go wild, be animalian such as you are, and to consider for a moment that you are an undilute drop of the cosmos, falling through the spectral delights of time, space, and mind. This is a time of breaking last year's mold, and reshaping. What can be more luxurious and austentatious than to be a new being each year, even each day? Can we not trasform as the world around us? If anything, winter-to-spring is a message that it is not only our right to metamorphose as we wish, it is our nature. And for that shimmering prize, you only have to breathe to win.

[from an uncirculated anthology of his work, circa 1972]

jaybird found this for you @ 22:49 in Authors, Books & Words , Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Thursday, 09 March, 2006 }

Kurt Vonnegut's "Stardust Memory"

A key to great writing, he adds, is to “never use semi-colons. What are they good for? What are you supposed to do with them? You’re reading along, and then suddenly, there it is. What does it mean? All semi-colons do is suggest you’ve been to college.”

Make sure, he adds, “that your reader is having a good time. Get to the who, when, where, what right away, so the reader knows what is going on.”

As for making money, “war is a very profitable thing for a few people. Jesus used to be so merciful and loving of the poor. But now he’s a Republican.

“Our economy today is not capitalism. It’s casino-ism. That’s all the stock market is about. Gambling.

“Live one day at a time. Say ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!’

“You meet saints every where. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.

“I’m going to sue the cigarette companies because they haven’t killed me,” he says. His son lived out his dream to be a pilot and has spent his career flying for Continental. Now they’ve “screwed up his pension.”

The greatest peace, Vonnegut wraps up, “comes from the knowledge that I have enough. Joe Heller told me that.

“I began writing because I found myself possessed. I looked at what I wrote and I said ‘How the hell did I do that?’

“We may all be possessed. I hope so.”

jaybird found this for you @ 21:20 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 28 February, 2006 }

Sedaris: Suitable for framing

She examined all of the painting, and then parts of it, her fingers dabbing in sympathy as she studied the brushstrokes.

“What are you thinking about?” I once asked.

And she said, “Oh, you know, the composition, the surfaces, the way things look realistic when you’re far away but weird when you’re up close.”

“Me, too,” I said, but what I was really thinking was how grand it would be to own a legitimate piece of art and display it in my bedroom. Even with my babysitting income, paintings were out of the question, so instead I invested in postcards, which could be bought for a quarter in the museum shop and matted with shirt cardboard. This made them look more presentable.

I was looking for framing ideas one afternoon when I wandered into a little art gallery called the Little Art Gallery. It was a relatively new place, located in the North Hills Mall and owned by a woman named Ruth, who was around my mom’s age, and introduced me to the word “fabulous,” as in: “If you’re interested, I’ve got a fabulous new Matisse that just came in yesterday.”

This was a poster rather than a painting, but still I regarded it the way I thought a connoisseur might, removing my glasses and sucking on the stem as I tilted my head. “I’m just not sure how it will fit in with the rest of my collection,” I said, meaning my Gustav Klimt calendar and the cover of the King Crimson LP tacked above my dresser.

jaybird found this for you @ 19:39 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 24 February, 2006 }

Phillip K. Dick: If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others

May I tell you how much I appreciate your asking me to share some of my ideas with you. A novelist carries with him constantly what most women carry in large purses: much that is useless, a few absolutely essential items, and then, for good measure, a great number of things that fall in between. But the novelist does not transport them physically because his trove of possessions is mental. Now and then he adds a new and entirely useless idea; now and then he reluctantly cleans out the trash -- the obviously worthless ideas -- and with a few sentimental tears sheds them. Once in a great while, however, he happens by chance onto a thoroughly stunning idea new to him that he hopes will turn out to be new to everyone else. It is this final category that dignifies his existence. But such truly priceless ideas. . . perhaps during his entire lifetime he may, at best, acquire only a meager few. But that is enough; he has, through them, justified his existence to himself and to his God.

An odd aspect of these rare, extraordinary ideas that puzzles me is their mystifying cloak of -- shall I say -- the obvious. By that I mean, once the idea has emerged or appeared or been born -- however it is that new ideas pass over into being -- the novelist says to himself, "But of course. Why didn't I realize that years ago?" But note the word "realize." It is the key word. He has come across something new that at the same time was there, somewhere, all the time. In truth, it simply surfaced. It always was. He did not invent it or even find it; in a very real sense it found him. And -- and this is a little frightening to contemplate -- he has not invented it, but on the contrary, it invented him. It is as if the idea created him for its purposes. I think this is why we discover a startling phenomenon of great renown: that quite often in history a great new idea strikes a number of researchers or thinkers at exactly the same time, all of them oblivious to their compeers. "Its time had come," we say about the idea, and so dismiss, as if we had explained it, something I consider quite important: our recognition that in a certain literal sense ideas are alive.

What does this mean, to say that an idea or a thought is literally alive? And that it seizes on men here and there and makes use of them to actualize itself into the stream of human history?

jaybird found this for you @ 20:33 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 22 February, 2006 }

Choose Your Villain

Note the eerie similarities between Goldstein and whomever the posterboy of the day is for All That Is Wrong In America:

In the novel Goldstein is rumored to be a former top member of the ruling (and sole) Party who had broken away early in the movement and started an organization known as "The Brotherhood", dedicated to the fall of The Party. However, in the course of the novel, the reader never learns if "The Brotherhood" or Goldstein himself actually ever existed, even though he is led to believe that neither Goldstein, nor the "Brotherhood," nor "Big Brother" exists outside of suggestion.

Each member of "The Brotherhood" is required to read a book supposedly written by Goldstein, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Each person is said to have three or four contacts at one time which are replaced as people disappear, so that if a member is captured, he can only give up three or four others. Goldstein is always the subject of the "Two Minutes Hate," a daily, 2-minute period beginning at 11:00 AM at which some image of Goldstein is shown on the telescreen (a one-channel television with surveillance devices in it). It is thought that the opposition to Big Brother—namely, Goldstein—was simply a construction, which ensured that support and devotion towards Big Brother was continuous. It is never revealed whether this is true.

jaybird found this for you @ 21:23 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 20 January, 2006 }

Decades-old mystery: Who visits Poe's grave?

Continuing a decades-old tradition, a mystery man paid tribute to Edgar Allan Poe by placing roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave to mark his January 19 birthday.

Some of the 25 spectators drawn to a tiny, locked graveyard in downtown Baltimore for the ceremony climbed over the walls of the site and were "running all over the place trying to find out how the guy gets in," according to Jeff Jerome, the most faithful viewer of the event.

Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, said early Thursday he had to chase people out of the graveyard, fearing they would interfere with the mystery visitor's ceremony.

"In letting people know about this tribute, I've been contributing to these people's desire to catch this guy," Jerome said. "It's such a touching tribute, and it's been disrupted by the actions of a few people trying to interfere and expose this guy."

The cryptic visits began in 1949. Jerome has seen the ceremony every January 19 since 1976. Poe was born in 1809.

"They had a game plan," Jerome said of the spectators. "They knew from previous years when the guy would appear."

jaybird found this for you @ 13:04 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 29 December, 2005 }

Gibran: Your thought and mine

Your thought is a tree rooted deep in the soil of tradition and whose branches grow in the power of continuity. My thought is a cloud moving in the space. It turns into drops which, as they fall, form a brook that sings its way into the sea. Then it rises as vapour into the sky. Your thought is a fortress that neither gale nor the lightning can shake. My thought is a tender leaf that sways in every direction and finds pleasure in its swaying. Your thought is an ancient dogma that cannot change you nor can you change it. My thought is new, and it tests me and I test it morn and eve.

You have your thought and I have mine.

Your thought allows you to believe in the unequal contest of the strong against the weak, and in the tricking of the simple by the subtle ones. My thought creates in me the desire to till the earth with my hoe, and harvest the crops with my sickle, and build my home with stones and mortar, and weave my raiment with woollen and linen threads. Your thought urges you to marry wealth and notability. Mine commends self-reliance. Your thought advocates fame and show. Mine counsels me and implores me to cast aside notoriety and treat it like a grain of sand cast upon the shore of eternity. Your thought instils in your heart arrogance and superiority. Mine plants within me love for peace and the desire for independence. Your thought begets dreams of palaces with furniture of sandalwood studded with jewels, and beds made of twisted silk threads. My thought speaks softly in my ears, “Be clean in body and spirit even if you have nowhere to lay your head.” Your thought makes you aspire to titles and offices. Mine exhorts me to humble service.

You have your thought and I have mine...

jaybird found this for you @ 16:59 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 22 December, 2005 }

Shakespeare's smoke and mirrors tricks solved

“You notice at once that Macbeth is full of optical illusions — there are floating daggers, the ghost of Banquo, ghostly kings, and ghostly cauldrons. I thought, surely if that’s the case, Shakespeare is probably saying to himself, ‘What sort of special effects are available to make these more spectacular?’.”

This train of thought took Professor Wright to the library at the University of Cambridge where he picked up a copy of Euclid’s Geometry edited by John Dee. A contemporary of Shakespeare, Dee is now regarded as one of the fathers of the modern age because of his talent for what was then called natural magic – science. He was especially interested in how specially modified mirrors could create tricks of the light, making things appear as if by magic.

“In the preface, Dee takes a survey of the state of modern science. There is a whole section called the art of perspective, which is what they called optics. In that, I suddenly ran up against this description of a man starting back with amazement at a floating dagger, and of the 'marvellous glass' that produced it. Finding it was pure chance really, a lucky break,” Professor Wright said.

Professor Wright argues that Shakespeare would undoubtedly have been aware of such tricks of the light when writing Macbeth, and may even have used a device like Dee’s to create the effect of a floating dagger. Similar optical effects might also have been deployed to create the many ghosts who pop up during the play.

jaybird found this for you @ 09:00 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 19 December, 2005 }

Good behavior: I Broke the Law at Walden Pond--Twice

So I camped in the trees surrounding Walden Pond that night. Aware that I might be breaking some regulation, I snuck into the forest, the leaves rustling under my tires. I felt like one of Robin Hood’s band of merry men, gleefully trespassing in Sherwood Forest. I broke the law, crushed a few autumn leaves in the process, brought no harm to anyone, and left the next morning.

We break laws every day and neither the world nor our souls are worse for wear. Indeed, to be a law-abiding citizen often requires a citizen to either commit crimes ourselves or become silent accomplices to crimes committed by those we’ve foolishly empowered. The biggest lawbreakers are usually powerful state officials, those who formulate malignant laws that require others to perform felonious tasks and then penalize anyone who resists.

As Thoreau noted, in such cases: “I say, break the law.”

jaybird found this for you @ 20:22 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 }

Vonnegut: Your Guess Is as Good as Mine

Most of you, if not all of you, like me, feel inadequately educated. That is an ordinary feeling for a member of our species. One of the most brilliant human beings of all times, George Bernard Shaw said on his 75th birthday or so that at last he knew enough to become a mediocre office boy. He died in 1950, by the way, when I was 28. He is the one who said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I turned 83 a couple weeks ago, and I must say I agree.

Shaw, if he were alive today, would envy us the solid information that we have or can get about the nature of the universe, about time and space and matter, about our own bodies and brains, about the resources and vulnerabilities of our planet, about how all sorts of human beings actually talk and feel and live. This is the information revolution. We have taken it very badly so far. [via metafilter]

jaybird found this for you @ 08:02 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 09 December, 2005 }

Pinter: Art, truth and politics

It's a strange moment, the moment of creating characters who up to that moment have had no existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be an unstoppable avalanche. The author's position is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by the characters. The characters resist him, they are not easy to live with, they are impossible to define. You certainly can't dictate to them. To a certain extent you play a never-ending game with them, cat and mouse, blind man's buff, hide and seek. But finally you find that you have people of flesh and blood on your hands, people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort.

So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time.

But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:50 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 22 November, 2005 }

Philip K. Dick: How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe -- and I am dead serious when I say this -- do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new. [via metafilter]

jaybird found this for you @ 16:27 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

Isadore Upinsky: On Religion and Mysticism

"The main purpose of most religion is to prevent people from killing themselves for the sheer thrill of it, unless that suicide lends a regime some degree of political credence. The main purpose of most mysticism, however, is to encourage people to completely and utterly annihilate their sense of self in order to view the whole of the Universe--- which is quite possible, literally. They do so in a way that does not prop up human institution, but the creative institutions of love, passion and freedom that humans can so barely grasp these days."

~From "Falling through a Whole"

jaybird found this for you @ 08:28 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 12 October, 2005 }

Vonnegut: "I have a huge disappointment about what this country might have been instead of what it's become..."

"I feel like a certain kind of horse's ass, like somebody born rich. I don't deserve it, and those who crashed and burned didn't deserve it, either. So I'm the asshole who broke the bank at Monte Carlo."

jaybird found this for you @ 08:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 04 October, 2005 }

wordplay: Weird and wonderful vocabulary from around the world

"The Greeks had a word for it," we used to say, when stumped for the precise way to describe something. Now, thanks to Adam Jacot de Boinod and his collection of bizarre foreign words, we discover that the Malays, Hawaiians and Sumatrans had, and still have, words for it too. There is a word for the fold of skin under your chin (alang - it's Nicaraguan). There is a word for the ring you put in the nose of a calf in order to stop it suckling its mother (oorxax, and, as you know, it's from the Khakas region of Siberia). There is, thank God, a word that sums up that annoying thing you do when your taxi is 20 minutes late and you're too restless to wait for the doorbell to ring. It's iktsuarpok - "to go outside often to see if someone is coming."

jaybird found this for you @ 08:00 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 20 September, 2005 }

Winterson on Calvino

Calvino's belief in the transforming powers of literature runs in harness with his hesitations over the newly extrovert role of the writer in society. His instinct was to let the work speak for itself and to seek anonymity for himself. There is a slight awkwardness therefore, in publishing and reading pieces which Calvino made no effort to publish himself, outside of their original moment in newspapers, or as prefaces, journalism and letters. [via mefi]

jaybird found this for you @ 12:45 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 15 September, 2005 }

This American Life: After the Flood

Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans. We give people who were in the storm more time than daily news coverage can to tell their stories and talk about what they're thinking. This leads to a number of ideas that haven't made it into the regular news coverage.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:15 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 25 August, 2005 }

The Venerable Robert Anton Wilson: Premature Illumination

"Faith-based organizations say we don't need any more research, we know enough now, we can be dogmatic, whereas researchers say we don't know enough now, investigate, research," argues Wilson. "Faith is a reason to become stupid: 'From this point forward, I will remain stupid.' To me, faith-based organizations are responsible for everything I see wrong with this planet. Research-based organizations are responsible for everything I like about it. Before the French Revolution, the average life expectancy was 37 years. Now it's 78 years. All due to research-based organizations. Not at all due to faith-based organizations. All faith-based organizations give you is George Bush. Research-based organizations give you cures for disease."

jaybird found this for you @ 12:23 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 16 August, 2005 }

Twain: Letters from the Earth

"Very well, then, let us proceed. We have witnessed a wonderful thing; as to that, we are necessarily agreed. As to the value of it -- if it has any -- that is a matter which does not personally concern us. We can have as many opinions about it as we like, and that is our limit. We have no vote. I think Space was well enough, just as it was, and useful, too. Cold and dark -- a restful place, now and then, after a season of the overdelicate climate and trying splendors of heaven. But these are details of no considerable moment; the new feature, the immense feature, is -- what, gentlemen?"

"The invention and introduction of automatic, unsupervised, self-regulating law for the government of those myriads of whirling and racing suns and worlds!"

"That is it!" said Satan. "You perceive that it is a stupendous idea...

jaybird found this for you @ 06:52 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 08 August, 2005 }

terra: tongue in cheek

What I'd say to the Martians

I admit that sometimes I think we are not so different after all. When you see one of your old ones trip and fall down, do you not point and laugh, just as we on Earth do? And I think we can agree that nothing is more admired by the people of Earth and Mars alike than a fine, high-quality cigarette. For fun, we humans like to ski down mountains covered with snow; you like to“milk” bacteria off of scum hills and pack them into your gill slits. Are we so different?

jaybird found this for you @ 16:19 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 06 August, 2005 }

lawrence ferlinghetti

To the Oracle at Delphi

Great Oracle, why are you staring at me,
do I baffle you, do I make you despair?
I, Americus, the American,
wrought from the dark in my mother long ago,
from the dark of ancient Europa--
Why are you staring at me now
in the dusk of our civilization--
Why are you staring at me
as if I were America itself
the new Empire
vaster than any in ancient days
with its electronic highways
carrying its corporate monoculture
around the world
And English the Latin of our days--

Great Oracle, sleeping through the centuries,
Awaken now at last
And tell us how to save us from ourselves
and how to survive our own rulers
who would make a plutocracy of our democracy
in the Great Divide
between the rich and the poor
in whom Walt Whitman heard America singing

O long-silent Sybil,
you of the winged dreams,
Speak out from your temple of light
as the serious constellations
with Greek names
still stare down on us
as a lighthouse moves its megaphone
over the sea
Speak out and shine upon us
the sea-light of Greece
the diamond light of Greece

Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden,
Come out of your cave at last
And speak to us in the poet's voice
the voice of the fourth person singular
the voice of the inscrutable future
the voice of the people mixed
with a wild soft laughter--
And give us new dreams to dream,
Give us new myths to live by!

jaybird found this for you @ 11:58 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 30 July, 2005 }

william carlos williams

Of asphodel, that greeny flower,

like a buttercup

upon its branching stem-

save that it's green and wooden-

I come, my sweet,

to sing to you. more ->

jaybird found this for you @ 12:35 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 24 July, 2005 }


The Mysticism of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
The other side of Dillard's mysticism explores with the unanswerable questions, such as -- why must there be pain and suffering? She wonders why God would create creatures in such great numbers that some must die of famine, or why God would create 10% of the earth's creatures as parasites -- creatures that live only by destroying other life - and she provides lots of examples of the gruesome ways that parasites devour their prey. Dillard feels that we give children the wrong idea in regards to the nature of reality -- and muses that perhaps stuffed teddy bears should come with little stuffed lice, to paint a true picture of the way things are. {PTC, 233} However, at the same time she is cursing God for the creation of parasites, she also understands that "these parasites are companions for life...more life to the universal dance." {PTC, 234} The existence of two such diametrically opposed facets of nature is confusing to her, and she finds herself dwelling on this paradox.

Annie really grapples with the horrors of reality. She realizes that death, pain and struggling must spring from the same source as do all of the wonders she experiences. She faces the issues despite her fears because she feels it is her holy duty to understand every aspect of the Divine that she comes into contact with - even if the process is a painful one.

One of the basic themes of the book is what Annie calls the Universal Chomp -- or, the horrors of the food chain. Here is a story she tells about the horrors of the food chain: "When I was in elementary school, one of the teachers brought in a mantis egg case in a Mason jar. I watched the newly hatched mantises emerge and shed their skins; they were spidery and translucent, all over joints. They trailed from the egg case to the base of the Mason jar in a living bridge that looked like Arabic calligraphy, some baffling text form the Koran inscribed down the air by a fine hand. Over a period of several hours, during which time the teacher never summoned the nerve or the sense to release them, they ate each other until only two were left. Tiny legs were still kicking from the mouths of both. The two survivors grappled...in the Mason jar; finally both died of injuries. I felt as though I myself should swallow the corpses...so all that life wouldn't be lost." Annie finds it very hard to come to terms with these types of occurrences in the world - the conditions of suffering which cannot be escaped.

She writes, "It is the fixed that horrifies us, the fixed that assails us with the tremendous force of its mindlessness. The fixed is a mason jar, and we can't beat it open." Dillard sees that humans, animals, and plants alike are destined to exist as part horrific food chain, where it is "chomp or fast." She laments, "It is ridiculous...what happened to manna? Why doesn't everything eat manna? Into what rare air did the manna dissolve that we harry the free live things - each other?" She is confused and frightened of a God that would thrust such conditions on its creations. "Evolution loves death more than it loves you or me..." she broods, "are my values so diametrically opposed to those that nature preserves? This is the key point!" Her deliberations continue, "We value the individual supremely and nature not a whit. It looks for the moment as though I might have to reject this creek life unless I want to be utterly brutalized. Is human culture with its values my only real home after all?" Her wavering faith in light of the horrors of the world - horrors that spring from that same Divine she adores - is not unusual. On the contrary, she precisely conveys universal questions and doubts about the existence and nature of God.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:23 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 23 July, 2005 }

hart crane


We will make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.

We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:19 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 21 July, 2005 }

john aubrey

Miscellanies upon Various Subjects(1890)

Mrs. E. W. daughter of Sir W. W. affirms that Mrs. J. (her father's
sister) saw herself, i. e. her phantom, half a year before she died,
for a quarter of an hour together. She said further, that her aunt
was sickly fourteen years before she died, and that she walked
living, i. e. her apparition, and that she was seen by several at the
same time. The like is reported of others.

Mr. Trahern, B.D. (chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgman, Lord Keeper) a
learned and sober person, was son of a shoe-maker in Hereford: one
night as he lay in bed, the moon shining very bright, he saw the
phantom of one of the apprentices, sitting in a chair in his red
waistcoat, and head-band about his head, and strap upon his knee;
which apprentice was really in bed and asleep with another fellow-
apprentice, in the same chamber, and saw him. The fellow was living,
1671. Another time, as he was in bed, he saw a basket come sailing in
the air, along by the valence of his bed; I think he said there was
fruit in the basket: it was a phantom. From himself.

When Sir Kichard Nepier, M.D. of London, was upon the road coming
from Bedfordshire, the chamberlain of the inn, shewed him his
chamber, the doctor saw a dead man lying upon the bed; he looked more
wistly and saw it was himself: he was then well enough in health. He
went forward on his journey to Mr. Steward's in Berkshire, and there
died. This account I have in a letter from Elias Ashmole, Esq. They
were intimate friends.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:39 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 17 July, 2005 }

fernando pessoa


The poet is an inventor.
He invents so completely
That he succeeds in inventing
That the pain he really feels is pain.

And those who read what he writes
Really feel in the pain they have read,
Not the two which he felt,
But only the one they do not have.

And thus in the wheel ruts
There goes round and round, diverting Reason
That clockwork toy train
Which is called heart.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:12 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 15 July, 2005 }

frank herbert

A long lost interview from the creator of Dune
Yes, I can understand that. Well, I had no trouble understanding the question of the voice, as I read the novel, because, among the other things which the novel gave to me, was the whole question of communication and how we communicate on multiple levels, whether it be Paul communicating by shedding a tear…that’s an act of communication on a very profound level…to the Fremen, whether communication of the voice or communication by sword or communication by a dozen different ways that we all do constantly as we’re doing in this room right now. See, you’re communicating by the …in one sense by the way you’re both watching me as I speak and watching Frank and watching the recorder and watching what you are doing with your hands. There are all sorts of communications, just as I’m communicating and you are in a dozen hundreds of hidden different ways. I had no problem with that in the novel and I thought that it was rather well done.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:21 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 12 July, 2005 }

hart crane

Voyages II

--And yet this great wink of eternity,

Of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,

Samite sheeted and processioned where

Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,

Laughing the wrapt inflections of our love;

Take this Sea, whose diapason knells

On scrolls of silver snowy sentences,

The sceptred terror of whose sessions rends

As her demeanors motion well or ill,

All but the pieties of lovers' hands.

And onward, as bells off San Salvador

Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,

In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,--

Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,

Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.

Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours,

And hasten while her penniless rich palms

Pass superscription of bent foam and wave,--

Hasten, while they are true,--sleep, death, desire,

Close round one instant in one floating flower.

Bind us in time, O Seasons clear, and awe.

O minstrel galleons of Carib fire,

Bequeath us to no earthly shore until

Is answered in the vortex of our grave

The seal's wide spindrift gaze toward paradise.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 06 July, 2005 }

Language is a Virus

Cut up machines, writing toys, language deconstrcting gizmos

William S. Burroughs once said that language was a virus. This site dissects that virus, deconstructs it, and attempts to help you put it back together. The genome of our language is removed, thrown to the floor, stomped a bit, and reexamined to see what other pretty shapes it might make.

Cut up: The back dissects deconstructs reexamined a reexamined and S. This bit, Burroughs Burroughs that floor, is that removed, to thrown that removed, stomped put and attempts a virus, it is to thrown what back to that thrown once to together. the removed, make. A Burroughs and Burroughs genome was bit, said.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:26 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 05 July, 2005 }


America still needs his poetry

This month marks the 150th anniversary of a landmark event in literary history: the publication of the first edition of Walt Whitman's ''Leaves of Grass." When this thin volume, with its ornate green jacket, crude title page, and frontispiece showing the casually dressed Whitman, was advertised for sale on July 5, 1855, few could anticipate its tremendous impact on literature. The book met with sharp criticism. One reviewer, shocked by its sensual images, called it ''a mass of stupid filth." Another, puzzled by its emotional intensity, said its author ''must be some escaped lunatic, raving in pitiable delirium..."

The poet, he wrote in his preface, ''is the equalizer of his age and land. . . he supplies what wants supplying and checks what wants checking." He offered a recipe for healing: ''This is what you shall do . . . read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life."

Imagine if everyone followed his advice. What would happen if millions of people read his poetry regularly, absorbed it, and applied its meanings to daily life? What, in short, would be the world according to Walt Whitman?

jaybird found this for you @ 20:06 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 03 July, 2005 }

Sylvia Plath

I am Vertical
via wood's lot

But I would rather be horizontal.
I am not a tree with my root in the soil
Sucking up minerals and motherly love
So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.

Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,
The trees and flowers have been strewing their cool odors.
I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.
Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping
I must most perfectly resemble them--
Thoughts gone dim.
It is more natural to me, lying down.
Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
The the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:36 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 29 June, 2005 }

impossible reads

The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library is a collection of books that only appear in other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:12 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 24 June, 2005 }


New Poem Found

In the new poem... the focus is on Sappho herself. She recites the symptoms of her ageing, as in another famous poem she recites the physical symptoms of jealous love. Then comes philosophical reflection. In the love poem she tells herself that everything is endurable, because fortunes can be transformed at God’s pleasure. In the new poem she tells herself that growing old is part of the human condition and there is nothing to be done about it. This truth is illustrated, as typically in Greek lyric, by a mythical example. It is a tale that was popular at the time, the story of Tithonus, whom the Dawn-goddess took as her husband. At her request, Zeus granted him immortality, but she neglected to ask that he should also have eternal youth, so he just grew ever older and feebler. Finally she shut him up in his room, where he chatters away endlessly but barely has the strength to move.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 16 June, 2005 }

Regarding Cervantes, Multicultural Dreamer

Enter the Quixotic

Why was "Don Quixote" originally written in Arabic? Or rather, why does Cervantes, who wrote the book in Spanish, claim that it was translated from the Arabic?

Much is being said this year about "Don Quixote," in celebration of the 400th anniversary of its publication. And indeed, much has always been said about this extraordinary epic, narrating the misadventures of a half-mad hidalgo who seeks to re-establish the traditions of knight errantry. Faulkner reread it annually; Lionel Trilling said all prose fiction was a variation on its themes.

But aside from its literary achievements, "Don Quixote" sheds oblique light on an era when Spain's Islamic culture forcibly came to an end. Just consider Cervantes's playful account of the book's origins. One day in the Toledo marketplace, he writes, a young boy was trying to sell old notebooks and worn scraps of paper covered with Arabic script. Cervantes recounts how he acquired a book and then looked around for a Moor to translate it. "It was not very difficult" to find such a Moor, he writes. In fact, he says, he could have even found a translator of Hebrew.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:19 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

hopping mad

The Meaning of Madness in Magical Realism [via]

Is the physical, social or political landscape of your story where reality loses its footing, and not the emotional or intellectual landscape of the character? Where does the real chaos lie? Sometimes it's the folks in charge who have created, and wish to maintain, a landscape of madness. The individual characters who struggle to survive this landscape cling desperately to their singular identities as they are caught up in the swirl of anarchy around them. Readers need the anchor of the "true" real in stories of madness from which to establish what's really going on. Madness, after all, is a construct of realism.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:17 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 29 May, 2005 }


O Pilgrims, thou art where, thou art where?
The Beloved is neigh, come hither, come hither.

Thy beloved is thy neighbor, behind the wall
Lost in the desert, you are seeking and you fall;

If that lovely faceless face you once see
Pilgrim and shrine and house you know are all thee.

From house to house, you sought for proof
Yet never ascended up to the roof.

If it is the house of soul you seek
In the mirror see the face that’s meek.

If you’ve been to the garden, where is your bunch?
And where your soulful pearl if at sea you lunch.

With all this pain where is your gain?
The only veil, yourself, remain.

Hidden treasure chest, buried in soil
Why let dark clouds full moon spoil?

King of the World, to you will show
Magical shapes, in spirit you grow.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:00 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 21 May, 2005 }

william butler yeats

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats.
There we've hid our fairy vats
Full of berries,
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by farthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands, and mingling glances,
Till the moon has taken flight; p. 60
To and fro we leap,
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away! O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes,
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout,
And whispering in their ears;
We give them evil dreams,
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Of dew on the young streams.
Come! O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping then
you can understand.

Away with us, he's going,
The solemn-eyed;
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hill-side.
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast;
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
he can understand.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:29 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 15 May, 2005 }

Richard Brautigan

Your Catfish Friend

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."

jaybird found this for you @ 17:29 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 14 May, 2005 }

rainer maria rilke

"I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone"

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother's face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

jaybird found this for you @ 10:37 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 08 May, 2005 }

Margaret Atwood

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:49 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 06 May, 2005 }

the flight of Saint-Exupéry

Air of danger

"Waterspouts stood in apparently motionless ranks like the pillars of a temple. On their swollen capitals rested the dark and lowering arch of the storm, but blades of light sliced down through cracks in the arch, and between the pillars the full moon gleamed on the cold stone tiles of the sea. Mermoz made his way through those empty ruins, banking for four hours from one channel of light to another, circling round those giant pillars with the sea surging up inside them, following those flows of moonlight towards the exit from the temple."

jaybird found this for you @ 19:57 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 05 May, 2005 }

haruki murakami

Where I'm likely to find it
The woman rubbed the bridge of her nose with her index finger. It was a lovely, perfectly straight nose. My guess was that she had recently had plastic surgery. I used to go out with a woman who had the same habit. She’d had a nose job, and whenever she was thinking about something she rubbed the bridge of her nose with her index finger. As if she were making sure that her brand-new nose was still there. Looking at this woman in front of me now brought on a mild case of déjà vu. Which, in turn, conjured up vague memories of oral sex.

“I’m not trying to hide my age or anything,” the woman said. “I’m thirty-five.”

“And how old was your father-in-law when he died?”


“What did he do? His job, I mean.”

“He was a priest.”

“By priest you mean a Buddhist priest?”

“That’s right. A Buddhist priest. Of the Jodo sect. He was the head of a temple in the Toshima Ward.”

“It must have been a real shock,” I said.

“That my father-in-law was run over by a streetcar?”


“Of course it was a shock. Especially for my husband,” the woman said.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:30 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

Annie Dillard

An impish spirit
Dillard's little valley — with its clouds, fences, bullfrogs, giant water-bugs, houses, red-tailed hawks; with its messy entanglement of the human and the natural - allowed her to say all she needed to say about some very big questions. In prose that was at once vernacular and visionary, she set out "to tell some tales and describe some of the sights of this rather tamed valley, and explore, in fear and trembling, some of the unmapped dim reaches and unholy fastnesses to which those tales and sights so dizzyingly lead".

This migration from the particular to the general, from the "tamed" to the "dizzying", is the constant action of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Look, Dillard urges throughout, just look again at details, and you will find yourself dazzlingly surrounded by the four powers of the natural world - "mystery, death, beauty, violence". Open up to the landscape's particularity, and you will suddenly find yourself "sailing headlong and breathless under the gale force of the spirit".

Oh, it leaves me breathless, this alchemist of the word! I feel so lucky to have randomly chosen "tinker Creek" as an audio book for a drive about a year ago. Changed my life.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:21 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 25 April, 2005 }

cervantes a-go-go

Free Quixotes big pull in Caracas

People in the Venezuelan capital Caracas have been queuing around the block to collect free copies of the Spanish masterpiece Don Quixote. The Venezuelan government is handing out a million copies to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication. Populist President Hugo Chavez has urged Venezuelans to draw inspiration from the figure of Don Quixote.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:28 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

george carlin

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time;

We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We know too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, and watch TV too much.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We've conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.

We've learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 24 April, 2005 }

denise levertov

Sojourns in the Parallel World

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:34 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 19 April, 2005 }

James Tate

"How the Pope is Chosen"

After a poodle dies
all the cardinals flock to the nearest 7-Eleven.
They drink Slurpies until one of them throws up
and then he's the new Pope.
He is then fully armed and rides through the wilderness alone,
day and night in all kinds of weather.
The new Pope chooses the name he will use as Pope,
like "Wild Bill" or "Buffalo Bill."
He wears red shoes with a cross embroidered on the front.
Most Popes are called "Babe" because
growing up to become a Pope is a lot of fun.

jaybird found this for you @ 22:38 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 18 April, 2005 }


The Man Who Planted Trees [via mefi]

After the noon meal, he began once more to pick over his acorns. I must have put enough insistence into my questions, because he answered them. For three years now he had been planting trees in this solitary way. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of these one hundred thousand, twenty thousand had come up. He counted on losing another half of them to rodents and to everything else that is unpredictable in the designs of Providence. That left ten thousand oaks that would grow in this place where before there was nothing.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:52 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 14 April, 2005 }

comic absurdity of war

Terry Jones on war on terror

In the book, Jones criticizes the use of language to describe the conflict in Iraq, the coverage by the news media and the influence neoconservatives such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz have exercised in U.S. policy.

"First the [initial] bombing was called a war, but I thought a war had to have two sides," he says. "Then it became a war because people fought back, but now it's an 'insurgency.' "

For that matter, in the book he takes on the phrase "war on terrorism" with a Python's sense of the absurd: "But how is 'terrorism' going to surrender?" he writes. "It's well known, in philological circles, that it's very hard for abstract nouns to do anything at all of their own volition."

jaybird found this for you @ 15:30 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 05 April, 2005 }

21st Century man

Hans Christian Andersen

For Hans Christian Andersen, life wasn't so much a fairy tale as a nightmare. Or so it seems. Though he was Denmark's most famous literary son, and a prolific author in many genres, Andersen never fully revealed himself.

Today, 200 years to the day after he was born, Andersen remains something of a mystery. But he has also become an indelible feature of global culture. Anyone who reads, watches TV or goes to movies knows his stories. One website lists 102 film titles based on Andersen's fairy tales. Some of his tales are so ubiquitous, they have become part of the language, cautionary clichés: Think of The Emperor's New Clothes, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling...

As it turns out, Andersen is one of those figures who may be better suited to the 21st century than he was to the 19th. Born in 1805 in Odense, Denmark, to a shoemaker and a charwoman, Hans Christian grew up poor and depressed but protected by parents who seem to have recognized that their son was not your ordinary provincial kid. While other boys were running wild in the streets, he was at home playing with his toy theatre and sewing clothing for miniature actors.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became the object of much prepubescent scorn. The fact he was tall, odd-looking and effeminate didn't help. When his father died in 1816, the Andersens hit rock bottom. In 1819, at the age of 14, he made his big break and ran away to Copenhagen intending to create a life in the theatre as a ballet dancer, an actor or a singer. None of those worked out, but in the process he met people who would help him realize his dream of fame, if not fortune.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:48 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 01 April, 2005 }

dune as esoteric masterwork

The Sands of Time

Science fiction novels are normally filled with technological references. Dune has little or no technology and there is a reason for this: advanced computers have long been forbidden due to the Butlerian Jihad, which states “Thou shalt not make a machine in the image of Man’s mind”, and as a replacement human skills have been developed to an astonishing degree – after Mankind as a whole has experienced the dangers of over-reliance on technology. Dune, if anything, is a message for our time, whereby the mind is not appreciated for its true potentials and drugs are seen as having no educational value – instead, we offer a computer-generated world as a virtual reality, neglecting the superhuman abilities that we could perform within our own realm. Dune may thus be a messianic vision of our own future – and a return to core human values… which may explain why it has maintained its freshness since it was written forty years ago.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 27 March, 2005 }

wallace stevens

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

jaybird found this for you @ 19:31 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 23 March, 2005 }

Here's an mp3 archive for hundreds of important poets, authors, thinkers and daredevils.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:48 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 22 March, 2005 }

relativistically speaking...

Phillip Scribner: The Inside-Out Encyclopedia

The Wholeness of the World was given to me by a stranger I met recently at a Midwestern airport when I was delayed between flights. I am not quite sure what to make of it. Having taught philosophy for over a quarter century, I thought what he told me at the time made surprisingly good sense. And after reading what he gave me, I wonder why I shouldn't accept it. But it is not up to me. Others need to consider it... He called it an "inside-out encyclopedia," but in order to explain what he meant by that... let me tell you the story about our encounter...

I was in line at one of those indistinguishable airport food dispensaries deciding whether to have a bagel and cream cheese with my coffee. A delayed flight had left me with a couple of hours to kill, but for some reason, I was feeling rather cheerful . Having accidentally bumped into a young man getting into line, I said I was sorry, and to coat my apology with a little humor, I quipped, when the bagel was delivered, "That's not a real bagel. That's a Wonder Bread imitation of a bagel."

"That's just your interpretation of it," the young stranger replied brightly. "They surely see it as a real bagel."

His comment had the ring of relativism. Perhaps he was a multi-culturalist or a victim of deconstructionism, the now fashionable relativism in literature studies. As an old fashioned philosophy teacher, I tried to draw him out. "But isn't that just your interpretation of what I am saying? Aren't you just commenting on my comment?"

"Well, yes, I suppose so," he said in a more somber tone, "but that doesn't mean there isn't a truth of the matter about the bagel. I'm no relativist. In fact, I believe there is an absolute truth."

jaybird found this for you @ 11:53 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 15 March, 2005 }

paglia on poetry and prose

Characteristically Strong Words...

Artists are makers, not just mouthers of slippery discourse. Poets are fabricators and engineers, pursuing a craft analogous to cabinetry or bridge building. I maintain that the text emphatically exists as an object; it is not just a mist of ephemeral subjectivities. Every reading is partial, but that does not absolve us from the quest for meaning, which defines us as a species. In writing about a poem, I try to listen to it and find a language and tone that mesh with its own idiom. We live in a time increasingly indifferent to literary style, from the slack prose of once august newspapers to pedestrian translations of the Bible. The internet (which I champion and to which I have extensively contributed) has increased verbal fluency but not quality, at least in its rushed, patchy genres of e-mail and blog. Good writing comes from good reading. All literary criticism should be accessible to the general reader. Criticism at its best is re-creative, not spirit-killing. Technical analysis of a poem is like breaking down a car engine, which has to be reassembled to run again. Theorists childishly smash up their subjects and leave the disjecta membra like litter.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:42 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 03 March, 2005 }

Queer Geek Fiction

Strike a Pose by Donnard Sturgis [via bb]
As I walked to the girls’ apartment I really noticed buildings for the first time that I’m sure that I had passed hundreds of times. Funny how not having a home will do that. Most of Glamtasia was made up of Art Deco buildings. The majority were two and three-story boxes, some with palm-filled courtyards. The ornamentation was very drag queen: Egyptian, Greek and even Mayan motifs were plastered on buildings in a tropical climate. The vibrant blues, pinks, greens, and yellows were painted on as heavy as some of my eye shadow.

When I stood in front of the apartment building a feeling of dread surged from my stomach and made me sick. This place was a fucking dump. But I had no choice, and I promised myself it would only be for a couple of months. I rang the buzzer as I stared into the tiny camera above the door. The door lock chirped a soft click and I made my way to the third floor. The door to the apartment was slightly open. I knocked.

Ooh, a cliffhanger! Click the link for extremely well written drag queen sci-fi.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:52 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 01 March, 2005 }

the last hours of Hunter S. Thompson

"He gave his body everything it wanted."

The literary champ was sitting in his command post kitchen chair, a piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot through the mouth hours earlier. But a small circle of family and friends gathered around with stories, as he wished, with glasses full of his favored elixir — Chivas Regal on ice. "It was very loving. It was not a panic, or ugly, or freaky," Thompson's wife, Anita Thompson, said Thursday night in her first spoken comments since the icon's death Sunday. "It was just like Hunter wanted. He was in control here."

jaybird found this for you @ 15:44 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

Umberto Eco

The Gorge

Gragnola and I talked about everything. I would tell him about the books I was reading, and he would discuss them passionately. “Verne,” he would say, “is better than Salgari, because he’s scientific. Cyrus Smith manufacturing nitroglycerin is more real than that Sandokan tearing his chest with his fingernails just because he’s fallen for some bitchy little fifteen-year-old.”

Gragnola taught me about Socrates and Giordano Bruno. And Bakunin, about whose work and life I had known very little. He told me about Campanella, Sarpi, and Galileo, who were all imprisoned or tortured by priests for trying to spread scientific principles, and about some who had cut their own throats, like Ardigò, because the bosses and the Vatican were keeping them down. Since I had read the Hegel entry (“Emin. Ger. phil. of the pantheist school”) in the Nuovissimo Melzi, I asked Gragnola about him. “Hegel wasn’t a pantheist, and your Melzi is an ignoramus. Giordano Bruno might have been a pantheist. A pantheist believes that God is everywhere, even in that speck of a fly you see there. You can imagine how satisfying that is—being everywhere is like being nowhere.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:40 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 28 February, 2005 }

population 1

Woman of the town: sole resident, chief librarian

The sign outside is painted on a section of a refrigerator door. The floor is bare plywood. There's no heat. But there are thousands upon thousands of books. "The Complete Works of Shakespeare." "Treasure Island." Trixie Belden and "The Happy Valley Mystery." Zane Grey's westerns, every one of them, lined up across two shelves. Homer. Tennyson. Amy Tan. Goethe.

Elsie's late husband, Rudy, read them endlessly. He farmed and tended bar, he ran a grain elevator, he delivered gas to filling stations, and when the town was down to just him and Elsie, he served as mayor too. But he always found time to read — science fiction, history, the classics — anything but a Harlequin romance. When he got sick with cancer two years ago, Rudy confided a dream to Elsie: He wanted to turn his collection into a public library.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 27 February, 2005 }

last night the rain spoke to me

by Mary Oliver

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying

what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That's what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment

my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain—
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:59 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 20 February, 2005 }

HST: 1937-2005

The Great Hunter S. Thompson has pased.

Long Live Gonzo!

"America... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

"A word to the wise is infuriating."

"History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ''history'' it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time -- and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened."

"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top."

"Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ''the rat race'' is not yet final."

"As you were, I was. As I am, you will be."

jaybird found this for you @ 23:58 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 17 February, 2005 }

woman carrying water

by Joan Murray

Her Head

Near Ekuvukeni,
in Natal, South Africa,
a woman carries water on her head.
After a year of drought,
when one child in three is at risk of death,
she returns from a distant well,
carrying water on her head.

The pumpkins are gone,
the tomatoes withered,
yet the woman carries water on her head.
The cattle kraals are empty,
the goats gaunt-
no milk now for children,
but she is carrying water on her head.

The engineers have reversed the river:
those with power can keep their power,
but one woman is carrying water on her head.
In the homelands, where the dusty crowds
watch the empty roads for water trucks,
one woman trusts herself with treasure,
and carries water on her head.

The sun does not dissuade her,
not the dried earth that blows against her,
as she carries the water on her head.
In a huge and dirty pail,
with an idle handle,
resting on a narrow can,
this woman is carrying water on her head.

This woman, who girds her neck
with safety pins, this one
who carries water on her head,
trusts her own head to bring to her people
what they need now
between life and death:
She is carrying them water on her head.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:32 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 14 February, 2005 }

Upinsky on Madness

"In this world, there are natural limits and orders of things for a reason, and the most predominant of these is to maintain safety and security, throughout all paradigms, from hut to empire. Those limits affect most of our actions, and one may take notice without great observational ability of those who are prone to hop the fence of decency. Without haste these rapscallions will gain a reputation in the tiniest fractal of society. For example, one must be utterly, completely, thoroughly, infinitely and irredeemably mad, foolish, rascally, idiotic, and dangerous to write, create, and most especially to love at will, all for the sake of invoking Deeper Meaning in the Universe.

Damn it, why aren't there more fools in the world?"

~Isadore M. Upinsky, "Sophism on a Tricycle and Other Paralogical Gyspy Fishmongering."

jaybird found this for you @ 23:08 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 06 February, 2005 }

Arthur C. Clarke on the post-tsunami world

Letter from Sri Lanka
The New Year dawned with the global family closely following the unfolding tragedy via satellite television and the Web. I was... reminded of what Bernard Kouchner, former health minister of France and first UN governor of Kosovo, (who) once said: "Where there is no camera, there is no humanitarian intervention." Indeed, how many of the millions of men and women who donated generously for disaster relief would have done so if they had only read about it in the newspapers? But cameras and other communications media have to do more than just document the devastation and mobilize emergency relief. We need to move beyond body counts and aid appeals to find lasting, meaningful ways of supporting Asia's recovery.

jaybird found this for you @ 17:09 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

The Ecotheology of Annie Dillard

If I wanted to make a theological statement I would have hired a skywriter.

The point of the dragonfly's terrible lip, the giant water bug, birdsong, or the beautiful dazzle and flash of sunlighted minnows, is not that it all fits together like clockwork- for it doesn't particularly, not even inside the goldfish bowl- but that it all flows so freely wild, like the creek, that it surges in such a free, fringed tangle. Freedom is the world's water and weather, the world's nourishment freely given, its soil and sap ....

jaybird found this for you @ 10:24 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 31 January, 2005 }

Pablo Neruda: Twenty love poems and a song of despair

Hardened by passions, I go mounted on my one wave,
lunar, solar, burning and cold, all at once,
becalmed in the throat of fortunate isles
that are white and sweet as cool hips.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:34 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 25 January, 2005 }

The 400th anniversary of Don Quixote, and tilting at Einstein.

Cervantes lived his character. He fought the Turks at Lepanto in 1571, the culminating struggle of medieval Europe. He lost his left hand, was enslaved in Africa and imprisoned in Spain. His plays were failures. His life was a mess. Yet in just a few months of 1605 he wrote a book which soared beyond its time.

The two parts of Don Quixote are as different as thesis and antithesis. The Don of the first part is the true fantasist, sated on fusty old texts. He sets out to re-enact the rules of chivalry, to defend justice and love in a sinful world. He battles with windmills, sheep and innkeepers’ daughters. In his great essay on the Don, Carlos Fuentes talks of “art giving life to what history has killed”.

Part II breaks step with the past. The Don hears tell of his own exploits, indeed of his own book. Already he has chastised Sancho for thinking him unaware that Dulcinea is not a great beauty. He knows that she is a vulgar village girl, but she is the nobler for it. “Come Sancho,” he cries, “it is enough for me to think her beautiful and virtuous . . . I paint her in my imagination as I desire her.” A million Spanish women cheer. We are no longer sure who is poking fun at whom. Who are we to legislate between dream and reality? We are players and audience alike in the charade.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:39 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 24 January, 2005 }

The (Complete) Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron Muchausen.

jaybird found this for you @ 17:20 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

The spoken word poetry of Taylor Mali

jaybird found this for you @ 11:16 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 18 January, 2005 }

The Aberdeen Bestiary Project [via Blort]

The Aberdeen Bestiary is considered to be one of the best examples of its type. The manuscript, written and illuminated in England around 1200, is of added interest since it contains notes, sketches and other evidence of the way it was designed and executed.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:44 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 16 January, 2005 }

Zapatista Literary Life [via Wood's Lot]

"Flor y Canto" (literarily 'flower and song'), the literary and musical expression of the indigenous peoples of Meso-America, is close to the heart of the Zapatista rebellion. No rebel celebration is complete without harps and accordions, songs and anthems, dramatic recitations, parodies, and poetry, and the 11th anniversary of the uprising marked this past New Year's eve at the "caracol" of Oventic, the Zapatistas' most public cultural-political center in the highlands above San Cristobal de las Casas, was no exception.

Guided by its silver-tongued mouthpiece Subcomandante Insurgent Marcos, the Zapatista rebellion can be interpreted as an 11 year-long literary workshop informed by Mayan Indian tradition and the culture of revolutionary struggle.

jaybird found this for you @ 21:02 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 10 January, 2005 }

Annie Dillard: Write Till You Drop [via MeFi]

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

jaybird found this for you @ 19:58 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 05 December, 2004 }

A lovely translation of one of the workd's finest poets, Rainer Maria Rilke. (via wood's lot)

Yes, the springtimes needed you.
Stars now and then craved your attention.
A wave rose in the remembered past;
or as you came by the open window
a violin was singing its soul out.
All this was a given task.
But were you capacious
enough to receive it?
Weren’t you always
distracted with expectation, imagining
these hints the heralds of a human love?

jaybird found this for you @ 07:44 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 03 December, 2004 }

David Sedaris: Old Faithful

One time in France we were lucky enough to catch an identical stomach virus. It was a twenty-four-hour bug, the kind that completely empties you out and takes away your will to live. You’d get a glass of water, but that would involve standing, and so instead you just sort of stare toward the kitchen, hoping that maybe one of the pipes will burst, and the water will come to you. We had the exact same symptoms, yet he insisted that his virus was much more powerful than mine. I suspected the same thing, so there we were, competing over who was the sickest.

“You can at least move your hands,” he said.

“No,” I told him, “it was the wind that moved them. I have no muscle control whatsoever.”


“Well, that’s a nice thing to say to someone who’ll probably die during the night. Thanks a lot, pal.”

jaybird found this for you @ 15:14 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

What it's all about, according to scores of respondants to the "Real Meaning of Life Project."

Love those who mean the most. Every life you touch will touch you back. Treasure every sunrise, every raindrop that hits your nose, every slobber of your dog, the feeling of sand between your toes. Be moved by the tears of a child, and try to fix the cause. Be grease, not glue. Breathe deep, exhale slowly and never miss a chance to help another fellow while on
your journey here.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:08 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 27 November, 2004 }

Requiem for a Dreamer

What follows is a conversation between Kurt Vonnegut and out-of-print science fiction writer Kilgore Trout. It was to be their last. Trout committed suicide by drinking Drano at midnight on October 15 in Cohoes, New York, after a female psychic using tarot cards predicted that the environmental calamity George W. Bush would once again be elected president of the most powerful nation on the planet by a five-to-four decision of the Supreme Court, which included “100 per-cent of the black vote.”

jaybird found this for you @ 10:47 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 25 November, 2004 }

Mother's the word

Think about the word mother: does it make you burst into a fantastic smile as you think of the woman you will love with a passion for all eternity, she who guides your destiny towards freedom, liberty and perhaps tranquility?
If your answer is yes, you will have embraced your mum and the 10 English words that came top in a survey of favourites conducted by the British Council.

jaybird found this for you @ 22:02 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 10 November, 2004 }

Arundhati Roy: Peace?...

If you think about it, this is an alarming shift of paradigm. The difference is that notions of equality, of parity have been pried loose and eased out of the equation. It's a process of attrition. Almost unconsciously, we begin to think of justice for the rich and human rights for the poor. Justice for the corporate world, human rights for its victims. Justice for Americans, human rights for Afghans and Iraqis. Justice for the Indian upper castes, human rights for Dalits and Adivasis (if that.) Justice for white Australians, human rights for Aboriginals and immigrants (most times, not even that.)

It is becoming more than clear that violating human rights is an inherent and necessary part of the process of implementing a coercive and unjust political and economic structure on the world...

jaybird found this for you @ 07:07 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 31 October, 2004 }

"The Raven"

(via Edgar Allen Poe)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow will he leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet violet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

jaybird found this for you @ 23:26 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 27 October, 2004 }

This poem by one of my most beloved poets is making the rounds, a battle cry for the inevitable shift in national consciousness that will earn us a legitimate, more honorable government. With six (gulp) days left, go John go!

"Let America Be America Again"
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It was never America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There never has been equality for me,
Nor freedom in the "homeland of the free.")

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In that Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every birck and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let, America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America was never America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack of ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

jaybird found this for you @ 07:19 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 23 October, 2004 }

Golem XIV by Stanislaw Lem

You have come out of the trees so recently, and your kinship with the monkeys and lemurs is still so strong, that you tend toward abstraction without being able to part with the palpable - firsthand experience. Therefore a lecture unsupported by strong sensuality, full of formulas telling more about stone than a stone glimpsed, licked, and fingered will tell you - such a lecture will either bore you and frighten you away, or at the very least leave a certain unsatisfied need familiar even to lofty theoreticians, your highest class of abstractors, as attested by countless examples lifted from scientists' intimate confessions, since the vast majority of them admit that, in the course of constructing abstract proofs, they feel an immense need for the support of things tangible.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:01 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 14 October, 2004 }

Umberto Eco: Notions of beauty

For their part, the mass media no longer present any unified model, any single ideal of beauty. They can retrieve - even for an advertising campaign destined to last only a week - all the experimental work of the avant garde, and at the same time offer models from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, even in the outmoded forms of automobiles from the mid-century. The media continue to serve up warmed-over versions of 19th-century iconography - the Junoesque opulence of Mae West and the anorexic charms of the latest fashion models; the dusky beauty of Naomi Campbell and the Nordic beauty of Claudia Schiffer; the grace of traditional tap dancing in A Chorus Line and the chilling futuristic architectures of Blade Runner; the femme fatale of dozens of television shows or advertising campaigns and squeaky clean girls-next-door such as Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz; Rambo and RuPaul; George Clooney with his short hair and neocyborgs who paint their faces in metallic shades and transform their hair into forests of coloured spikes, or shave their heads.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:34 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 03 October, 2004 }

The Household Cyclopedia (ca. 1881,

The Household Cyclopedia (ca. 1881, via MeFi)

When a person is wet he ought never to stand, but to continue in motion till he arrives at a place where he may be suitably accommodated. Here he should strip off his wet clothes, to be changed for such as are dry, and have those parts of his body which have been wetted, well rubbed with a dry cloth. The legs, shoulders, and arms, are generally the parts most exposed to wet; they should, therefore, be particularly attended to. It is almost incredible how many diseases may be prevented by adopting this course. Catarrhs, inflammations, rheumatisms, diarrhoeas, fevers, and consumptions, are the foremost among the train which frequently follow an accident of this kind.

jaybird found this for you @ 17:08 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 01 October, 2004 }

"I walked right on up

"I walked right on up to that bear, 'cause I was God's Own Drunk and I loved everything in this world."

God's Own Drunk by Lord Buckley

jaybird found this for you @ 19:40 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 27 September, 2004 }

Burroughs, Gysin, and Ginsburg on

Burroughs, Gysin, and Ginsburg on the 'Cut Up' method of automatic literature. (flash, 10mb)

jaybird found this for you @ 17:14 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 07 September, 2004 }

Anyone can share a story

Anyone can share a story of any kind at A Million Stories... some really fascinating reads.

jaybird found this for you @ 23:01 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 06 September, 2004 }

The Invisible Library The Invisible

The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library is a collection of books that only appear in other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound.

jaybird found this for you @ 19:23 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 22 July, 2004 }

Words Without Borders is an

Words Without Borders is an online magazine for international literature. This issue features religious lit of many faiths. Thanks Ellen for the link!

jaybird found this for you @ 23:27 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 20 July, 2004 }

Pablo Neruda: a Life Consumed

Pablo Neruda: a Life Consumed by Poetry and Politics

Neruda, born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in the lonesome town of Parral, Chile, proclaimed that "there is no insurmountable solitude." He added: "All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song."

jaybird found this for you @ 07:14 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 12 July, 2004 }

A comprehensive list of banned

A comprehensive list of banned and challenged books over at the The Forbidden Library, via MeFi.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:35 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 09 July, 2004 }

Short, sweet: constrained.org is a

Short, sweet: constrained.org is a community site for short stories that adhere to various literary constraints, ranging from the well-known (anagrams, acrostics, palindromes) to the obscure and arbitrary...

jaybird found this for you @ 07:27 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 27 June, 2004 }

Why in the world


Why in the world does Tom Robbins write,
and where do we all fit in with the grand creative process
? [2.9mb mp3]

jaybird found this for you @ 16:36 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

Audio entry: this is part

Audio entry: this is part 1 of several clips from the Tom Robbins festivities today: here, Tom gets vaguely semi-autobiographical. [2.2mb mp3 file]

jaybird found this for you @ 03:00 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 25 June, 2004 }

Anonymous is one prolific author!

Anonymous is one prolific author!

jaybird found this for you @ 17:26 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 24 June, 2004 }

Remembering the amazingly mature poetry

Remembering the amazingly mature poetry of Mattie Stepanek: national goodwill ambassador with muscular dystrophy, and 13 year old prodigal wordsmith.

This is the 2000th post to bird on the moon dot com. Couldn't be mo' better.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:02 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 20 June, 2004 }

Three Q & A sessions

Three Q & A sessions with the crazy guru in town next week, Mr. Tom Robbins: 1, 2, 3.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:39 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 16 June, 2004 }

Revel in Joycean exaltation, for

Revel in Joycean exaltation, for it's 100 years of Bloomsday today.

Every year since at least 1954, fans of author James Joyce have celebrated Bloomsday on June 16-- the date (in 1904) when his Ulysses takes place. (Even in 1924 the word was used by friends presenting Joyce a bouquet.) In many cities, attempts are made to read the entire book out loud. In Dublin, tourists dress up and retrace the routes of Joyce's characters. Everywhere, alcohol is consumed in quantity.

jaybird found this for you @ 06:57 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 26 May, 2004 }

Gnosis By Christopher Pearse Cranch

By Christopher Pearse Cranch

We, like parted drops of rain,
Swelling till they meet and run,
Shall all be absorbed again,
Melting, flowing, into one.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:14 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 18 May, 2004 }

The I's Have It An

The I's Have It

An amiable sun shines down. Clad in khakis, plaid sports jacket and a crayon-yellow turtleneck, Updike, arguably among the most talented living writers in the world, has a toothy smile on his red face. His hair is gray-white. He is amused: At the past. At the present. At the country. At long races. At short stories. At human foibles of all colors.

"Writing is a way of taming the world," he says, "turning the inchoate, often embarrassing stream into a package." It's a construct that enables him to remain amused, and amazed. Putting the world on the page has made a good living for him and for countless professors around the world who teach his books.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:27 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 15 May, 2004 }

Kurt Vonnegut: Cold Turkey I

Kurt Vonnegut: Cold Turkey

I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren’t crazy to begin with. Some of the games that were already going on when you got here were love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf and girls’ basketball.

jaybird found this for you @ 13:11 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 30 April, 2004 }

Another classic poem, that stirs

Another classic poem, that stirs up goosfeathers in my soul, in celebration of the last day of National Poetry Month:

WILD GEESE by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

This is one of the most moving and inspiring poems... it's like a mantra that moves soft like breath-steam over a cool morning. It uplifts while it also reintegrates you with the fundamental, base nature of our animation.

jaybird found this for you @ 15:26 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

In celebration of the concluding

In celebration of the concluding day of National Poetry Month, I present one of the finest and most ecstatic poems of the 20th Century's most wonderful poet, Pablo Neruda... [about Pablo, more poems]

POETRY by Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating planations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesmal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.

This piece reminds me of how we approach the creative process. It's an encounter with a magic carpet, which whisks us from our small, secure and known territory, out into a staggeringly large, oft frightful, and blissful universe- one thought not only leads to another, but a whole great branching of thoughts. The process toward creation is exponential, and this poem, in its imagery and technique, takes me from my seat and out into the folds of stars where we encounter mystery, and thus, inspiration to create from the expanse.

Also, being the last day of National Poetry Month, it seems fitting to announce that my target date for submitting my manuscript for the new book, retitled Rainbow Over Crossroads, is May 31st- a month from now. I've not had much time to work on it lately, but it's so very nearly done that I'm brimming with anticipation for the moment I hit send and it flies away.

jaybird found this for you @ 10:10 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 24 April, 2004 }

The Ern Malley Poetry Hoax:

The Ern Malley Poetry Hoax: The greatest literary hoax of the twentieth century was concocted by a couple of Australian soldiers at their desks in the offices of the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, land headquarters of the Australian army, on a quiet Saturday in October 1943.

"Ern's" poems here. [via monkeyfilter]

jaybird found this for you @ 19:54 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 23 April, 2004 }

Shakespeare's Coined Words Now Common

Shakespeare's Coined Words Now Common Currency

• Method in the madness
• Neither rhyme nor reason
• One fell swoop
• Seen better days
• It smells to heaven

jaybird found this for you @ 12:06 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 16 April, 2004 }

From the Murky Depths :

From the Murky Depths : Fathoming the lasting appeal of Saint-Exupéry and "The Little Prince."

In 2000, divers off the coast of Marseille discovered the wreck of a Lockheed Lightning P38 plane that crashed into the sea in 1944. Last week the news went round the world that the wreck's serial number had been confirmed as belonging to the plane of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), aviator and author of "The Little Prince." First published in 1943 in French and English, "The Little Prince" is said to be one of the best-selling books in the world, surpassed only by the Bible and "Das Kapital." Sixty years after its first appearance, "The Little Prince" still sells over a million copies each year. Still, the overwhelming interest in this wreck and its pilot is extraordinary. What motivates the sainted exuberance of Saint-Exupéry's many fans?

jaybird found this for you @ 07:24 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 13 April, 2004 }

Massive list of important authors

Massive list of important authors and their contributions to the literati. Astounding! [via Reality Carnival]

jaybird found this for you @ 10:14 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 25 February, 2004 }

> :: Burroughs Special ::"

By William S. Burroughs

But Pan lives on in the realm of imagination. In writing, painting, and music. Look at van Gogh's Sunflower's, writhing with pretentious life. Listen to the Pipes of Pan in Jajouka. Now Pan is neutralized, framed in museums, entombed in books, and relegated to folklore. But art is spilling out of its frames into subway graffiti. Will it stop there?

[kinda sorta via MeFi]

jaybird found this for you @ 18:22 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 19 February, 2004 }

A very good interview with

A very good interview with Arthur C. Clarke

What was it Oscar Wilde said? "Someone who knows the price of everything knows the value of nothing." Some things have eternal value, and compassion is one of them. I hope we never lose that.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:01 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 10 February, 2004 }

Mockingbirds, by Mary Oliver In

Mockingbirds, by Mary Oliver

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door
to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,
but gods.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:16 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 05 February, 2004 }

Lady of Lesbos Poet, courtesan,

Lady of Lesbos

Poet, courtesan, bisexual, victim... look beyond the labels for the essence of Sappho

jaybird found this for you @ 07:51 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 26 January, 2004 }

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius' disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight,
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.

~Robert Frost, from "Bond and Free"

jaybird found this for you @ 12:58 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 25 January, 2004 }

Now, to cancel out the

Now, to cancel out the dubious commercial nature of the previous poem, here's beautiful piece from Pablo Neruda: "Love"

Because of you, in gardens of blossoming flowers I ache from the
perfumes of spring.
I have forgotten your face, I no longer remember your hands;
how did your lips feel on mine?
Because of you, I love the white statues drowsing in the parks,
the white statues that have
neither voice nor sight.
I have forgotten your voice, your happy voice;
I have forgotten your eyes...

jaybird found this for you @ 18:52 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 15 January, 2004 }

other people's stories [via MeFi]

other people's stories [via MeFi]

jaybird found this for you @ 19:52 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 06 January, 2004 }

Arthur Miller: A Visit With

Arthur Miller: A Visit With Castro, observations on Cuba and it's leader by the playwright.

The city itself has the beauty of a ruin returning to the sand, the mica, the gravel and trees from which it originated. The poverty of the people is obvious, but at the same time a certain spiritedness seems to survive. Poor as they are there is little sense of the dead despair one finds in cities where poverty and glamorous wealth live side by side. But this is all appearances, which do count for something but not everything.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:37 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 17 December, 2003 }

Let it Snow by David

Let it Snow by David Sedaris.

“You are going to be in so much trouble when Dad gets home!” we shouted, and in response my mother pulled the drapes. Dusk approached, and as it grew colder it occurred to us that we could possibly die. It happened, surely. Selfish mothers wanted the house to themselves and their children were discovered years later, frozen like mastodons in blocks of ice.

jaybird found this for you @ 06:47 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 09 December, 2003 }

"Short Story: The Spell"

His day... that is, the day of the old cretin, the maniac, the ancient paper-skinned recluse, was listless and pointless. He did not leave the house. He rarely ever did. Instead, he refilled the pepper grinder, played games with his tired cats, tried to fix the toilet, read two chapters of an erotic novel, made a pot of chai which he never got around to drinking, organized his pens by color and ink type, and tried, to no avail, to sleep. That is just my assumption, mind you, but I have it on good authority to be true. I'm demonstrably not mad. Yet my commerce is words, print, which in this day and age to communicate as such is daft, I hear. I do it nonetheless. I've recorded this story as an epistle to the general time of life that spawned my thusfar fair efforts.

The hours passed by the window as a washed-out picture-show of unrealized possibilities. The clouds that yawned through the slumbering branches existed solely as potentials; he watched, but was unaffected by the shapes and tendrils that ran by, kissing the blue of mid-afternoon. Newspapers covered the floor, and he tried to walk around the house by stepping only on certain letters. He did not know why. It’s just what he did all day, that Tuesday, which might be yesterday or tomorrow for all I know. I suppose these were word games, or maybe he was trying to spell something.

As his neighbor, by circumstance mind you and not by choice, it was I that brought him his letters. He always accepted it, kindly, said that I was prettier today than before, and promptly burned the unopened envelopes to ashes in his oven. I know this because I watched him, secretly, as his habits intrigued me. It’s not the custom of a woman of my class to spy upon urban hermits, but his gnarled knuckles and words compelled me. I think this man, whom I shall not name to preserve the scraps of dignity that remain attached to his history, noticed me. Perhaps he even welcomed my intrusions. I believe this to be the case because I was the only person that acknowledged him. Every Earth needs a moon to orbit it. You might say, “what about the letters?” Those letters were always from the same sender, in the same handwriting, from the same address; his own. You may even question my sanity when I tell you this, but I believe that on the day he left this oft troubling world, in that dank place where he tiptoed upon yellowed and torn papers of distant news, he burned no letters. I found the envelope that I’d delivered that morning of the floor, atop the trodden newspapers. In it was a letter; it read, ‘hello.’

jaybird found this for you @ 21:36 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

Chilling and spooky: Jean-Paul Sartre's

Chilling and spooky: Jean-Paul Sartre's The Wall

via Alamut

jaybird found this for you @ 20:41 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 08 October, 2003 }

Go Terry go! On an

Go Terry go! On an unforgettable Fresh Air today, Terry Gross interviewed, rather, attempted to interview, the UltraCon windbag Bill "Shut-up!" O'Reilly, with hysterical consequences (WM format. FF to about 3 minutes toward the end). Metafilter's thread on the subject is exquisite and about as funny as the interview debacle itself.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:41 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

My friend Leigh has launched

My friend Leigh has launched a portfolio of her writing... great stuff!

jaybird found this for you @ 17:47 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 05 October, 2003 }

Walt Whitman: When Science

Walt Whitman: When Science and Mysticism Collide While science was a useful antidote to superstition, it was hampered by a sublunary narrowness of vision. Scientific facts, Whitman believed, had esoteric ramifications best elucidated by sages, seers and philosopher-poets—in other words, someone like him...

jaybird found this for you @ 12:15 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 24 September, 2003 }

Yup, Huxley and Heinlein write

Yup, Huxley and Heinlein write pr0n: Parents seek to ban books “This is pornographic literature and we do not feel it has a place in any school funded by taxpayer dollars.”

jaybird found this for you @ 06:50 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Monday, 15 September, 2003 }

Madonna's new book tells

Madonna's new book tells children: don't be envious Madonna, 45, climbed on to a swing, with her children, and read for five minutes, then said anyone who wanted to learn the ending must shell out £12.99. The English Roses is the first of five morality tales by Madonna to be released before the end of 2004. All are based loosely on the teachings of the Kabbalah, which she follows.

jaybird found this for you @ 06:46 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 24 August, 2003 }

From the ‘Song of the Open Road’ By Walt Whitman


FROM this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I would do the same to you,

I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.


Here is the efflux of the Soul;
The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through embower’d gates, ever provoking questions;
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the darkness, why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me, the sunlight expands my blood?
Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the shore, as I walk by, and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman’s or man’s good-will?
What gives them to be free to mine?

The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happiness;
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows unto us—we are rightly charged.

Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman;
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)

Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old;
From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments;
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.

Allons! whoever you are, come travel with me!
Travelling with me, you find what never tires.

The earth never tires;
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first—Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first;
Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine things, well envelop’d;
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here!
However sweet these laid-up stores—however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain here;
However shelter’d this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here;
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are permitted to receive it but a little while.


All parts away for the progress of souls;
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of the universe.
Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.

jaybird found this for you @ 10:07 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 21 August, 2003 }

Kevin Kling's Circus Tale was

Kevin Kling's Circus Tale was on NPR tonight and was pure delight. Real Audio format

jaybird found this for you @ 18:31 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Friday, 15 August, 2003 }

How can I keep my

How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn't resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws one voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.

~Maria Rainer Rilke

jaybird found this for you @ 16:43 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Saturday, 26 July, 2003 }

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver "You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting..."

jaybird found this for you @ 14:26 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 20 July, 2003 }

Where Everything is Music

by Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Don't worry about saving
these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music..

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements
come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift
and the edge
of driftwood along the beach,

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window
in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.

jaybird found this for you @ 22:38 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Thursday, 17 July, 2003 }

2003 Results of the Bulwer-Lytton

2003 Results of the Bulwer-Lytton international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory if not the reputation of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), who has just enjoyed his bicentennial. The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and the phrase, "the pen is mightier than the sword," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

jaybird found this for you @ 07:59 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 24 June, 2003 }

whichbook.net is a website using

whichbook.net is a website using Flash to help you find new reading material. Stunningly accurate. My wishlist has grown by three so far.

jaybird found this for you @ 18:02 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Sunday, 22 June, 2003 }

Meet The Invisible Writers "Over

Meet The Invisible Writers "Over the years I've met a diverse collection of writers who have never been published or earned any academic credentials, yet whose claim to the title of artist is genuine. These invisible writers are soldiers and bakers, convicts and salesmen, winos, hairdressers, firefighters, farmers and waitresses. Their only qualifications to literary authenticity are their writings and their desire to write. Often the only time they have is stolen time, and their private scrawls end up on cocktail napkins, penciled in the margins of receipts, on any piece of paper handy. "

jaybird found this for you @ 01:02 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 18 June, 2003 }

Our Perfect Summer by David

Our Perfect Summer
by David Sedaris
"One day, it seemed the right time to have a beach house all our own."

jaybird found this for you @ 23:28 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 11 June, 2003 }

Wow. Since this is my

Wow. Since this is my first official week working with children, I found this amazingly pertinent. Taylor Mali - What Teachers Make "I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen."

jaybird found this for you @ 20:45 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

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are Copyright 2005 by theodore "jay" joslin and joyous jostling studios. Thank you, Wanderer, for All. 


i am jay joslin: a spirit-fed mountain hopping lover of everything, an ordained lefty-veggie-homo, and bon-vivant go-go dancing with all the messenger mockingbirds of morning. 



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Letter Excerpt:


Ten Considerations for Being Well n this Goofy Universe


0. If you find yourself wonderstruck, don’t forget to return the favor.

1. Always be of service to the whole and the Holy. You’ll find that the Holy will reciprocate by being of service to your becoming Whole.

2. You will be called upon to use your mind and your vision in ways I cannot possibly glimpse. Never turn down an offer to shine that light so uniquely yours to help others in their darkness, and you’ll find that when it’s your turn to be in the night that there’ll be someone along the way who happens to have a little glow to share .

3. The rewards of being true to yourself  are infinite, even when outwardly your efforts are met with nothing.

4. You’ll also see that  knowledge and wisdom will come from within yourself through your own struggle and curiosity... your loved ones may guide you to insight, but yours is the power to choose it.

5. You’ll find that some of your choices could’ve been better, or at times were downright stupid. That’s okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what a good one might feel like if I tried it on.

6. Your growth will be a mysterious, comic, ecstatic and sometimes scary ride, and I pray that you strive to savor each minute of it, even the most difficult or embarrassing minutes. Don’t count on second chances.

7. In those times when everything collapses around you, and what’s left won’t go right, don’t forget your chances of being alive in this solar system, in this galaxy, are a little on the slim side. So slim in fact that it could be called a miracle to breathe this air, drink this water, and have whet ever predicament you’re having no matter how you shake, rattle and roll it. So go with the cosmic flow and always choose something over nothing, while remembering that there’s a little of each one hidden in both.

8. Respond as best as you can with love to adversity rather than reacting with fear... Love, in any situation and  being the primordial source and essence of ALL THIS STUFF, leaves / enters us with the most possible ways out / in.

9. Whatever you’re doing, celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what you’ve got when you’re done. Magic lives in the action.

9 ½ . All matter is energy. All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short time in this shape until we’re reunited with the expanse from which we came. Your delicate yet sturdy, resilient body is a temporary shelter of energy that has swam the universe eternally and will continue eternally. You are a sudden crystallization of the infinite. One must ask themself, therefore, why be bored?

9 3/4 . Choosing to live in the moment is courageous but becomes effortless once you begin...feeling obligated to survive in the past or future is dangerous and is difficult to continue. It’s one of the few risks I’d recommend not taking, right up there with trusting icons and shrugging off coincidences.

10. The Universe itself it not confusing, we humans just like it that way. Do frogs seem bewildered , butterflies befuddled and amoebas addled? Nope, just us, my child. So, whenever things just don’t make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as best you can, because that’s what you get for choosing this goofy, unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.