30 December 2006

Xmas in Bedlam

On the corner of 1st Ave & W Market Sts, a yard hanging: 3 towel-headed snowpersons point their carrot-nosed faces at a star cross in the sky; so do their 5 sheep, who are not made of snow. The legend: Believe.
 

29 December 2006

And we all shall be changed

• Machines can pool their resources, intelligence, and memories. Two machines or one million machines can join together and then become separate again. Multiple machines can do both at the same time: become one and separate simultaneously. Humans call this falling in love, but our biological ability to do this is fleeting and unreliable.
Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, 26, describing principles of the Singularity (which is Near).


• As virtual reality from within the nervous system becomes competitive with real reality in terms of resolution and believability, our experiences will increasingly take place in virtual environments.
Ibid., 29.

• In virtual reality we can be a different person both physically and emotionally. In fact, other people (such as your romantic partner) will be able to select a different bocdy for you gthan you might select for yourself (and vice versa).
Ibid., 29.

28 December 2006

Let him decide

... Let him decide. Here are the three choices: ...
[] Tear it up.
[] Don't publish it but give me a copy.
[] OK, publish it, on the chance that somewhere someone survives of all those said to die miserably every day for lack of the small clarifications sometimes found in poems.
— Galway Kinnell, "It All Comes Back," Strong Is Your Hold, 7.

27 December 2006

Aw, you guys...

Aw, you guys are the best friends a giant dufus could have.
— Homer, The Simpsons, Paul Bunyan episode.

Anything can be settled

Anything can be settled for a few days at a time, though not for longer.
— Mavis Gallant, "Irina," Paris Stories, 49.

23 December 2006

Any command

Any command is a release, in a way.
— Mavis Gallant, "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street," Paris Stories, 23.

16 December 2006

Quotes from Capt. Nemo

The Bush Administration reached hypocritical mass when Shrubya declared, "Heckuva job, Rummy."


Brandanistas, the LogoNazis...


The famous sputter-but: "But — But — But —!"

01 December 2006

The Prophet on Knowledge

"Acquire knowledge," the prophet Muhammad commanded his followers. "... It guideth us to happiness; it sustaineth us in misery; it is an ornament among friends; and an armor against enemies."
— David Shenk, The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, 39.

25 November 2006

Who are you, then?

Who are you, then?

A long time ago, he said, I wrote a story that included you. Now that story has grown to include me, and our meeting like this.

We each of us exists, he went on, in a web of stories, that extends through all the dimensions of our life. Not just space & time. Memory is also a dimension. So is what you would call imagination. And then there are dreams, visions, and — well, delusions. That's where we live.
 

15 November 2006

For my final script...

Bethlehem Diner
For my final script I will be writing a story about a group [of] people that come together to survive the near end of the world. The world has become infected with a[n] extremelhy contagious virus that reanimates the dead, and turns them into violent cannibals.
NCC scriptwriter's Final Script Summary
Damn! I hate when the stoodies get there ahead of me!
 

10 November 2006

Grissom's wisdom

When you chase two rabbits, you lose 'em both.
— Grissom, on an early CSI.

05 November 2006

DrDann's next gig

I've been upstate for a recording session at Mark Dann's Studio-in-the-Woods.

On my way home he calls to ask how the take-away CD sounds on the car stereo.

"Great!" I tell him. "You got a gig tonight?"

"Yeah," he says. "I'm playing in Kingston with the Tweety Birds."
 

02 November 2006

Urinetown

Bethlehem Diner

Urinetown: Brecht lite? Blitztein lite? "Not a Happy Musical" — what does that mean, in present culture? Hilarious, sends up many another musical — to what end? Are authors utter skeptics, in [Toril] Moi's sense (see Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism)? Are we?
 

01 November 2006

Chair Moves

Advanced Dermatology, Bethlehem
Chair Moves
Physicians Only

— taped to seat of stool Mr. W______ sits on for my examination.
Query: if I sit on it, will it move me? Or would I have to be a (sentimental?) physician?
 

27 October 2006

Getting away

We all thought we could get away with everything. No one got away with anything.
— Diary of Alexander Herzen (1812-1870), Russian revolutionary, subject of Tom Stoppard's Coast of Utopia, in New Yorker, October 30, 2006, 96.

22 October 2006

Oh-oh, Eli...

My daughter Nelly was showing her boy Eli, who's one and a half, the wind blowing leaves around. Earlier she'd been reading the Disney version of Rockabye Baby, which shows the cradle coming down with a parachute, but Eli's smart enough to be concerned about the coming down part. So Nell opens the window & picks Eli up & shows him the wind, making the sound, pointing out the blowing leaves. Eli says, "Oh-oh, Babies!"
 

20 October 2006

Halloween scene, Bethlehem

On Market at Liberty, a hanging flag, black background, Huge Orange crescent moon w/ face gazes indulgently on tiny witch on broomstick silhouetted against small orange disk of the full...?

If Mickey Mouse has a dog named Pluto, Goofy is a...?
 

22 September 2006

Born again

If you were born again, do you have two bellybuttons?
— NY Thruway bumper sticker.

19 September 2006

Eric Hoffer say...

I've been meaning to copy these out for weeks; the magazine itself is Harpers July 2005. From Eric Hoffer's notebooks:

Unused Talents Our doubts about ourselves cannot be banished except by working at that which is the one and only thing we know we ought to do. Other people's assertions cannot silence the howling dirge within us. It is our talents rusting unused within us that secrete the poison of self-doubt into our bloodstream. — 1955.


The Academy Universities are an example of organizations dominated wholly by intellectuals; yet, outside pure science, they have not been an optimal milieu for the unfolding of creative talents. In neither art, music, literature, technology & social theory, nor planning have Universities figured as originators or as seedbeds of new talents and energies. — 1956.

I'm not sure this assertion holds true, 50 years later. Where else is there for new talents & energies to come from?

Still...


Schadenfreude The man of words feels better when the man of action comes to grief. There is not the least doubt that depressions have been good for the intellectual's soul. — 1957.


Underestimating To overestimate the originality of one's thoughts is perhaps a less serious defect than being unaware of their newness. There is a more pronounced lack of sensitivity in underestimating (our selves and others) than in overestimating. — 1957.


Lies that preview truth Why is it so hard to tell the truth? Because more often than not the truth is meager and stale. By lying we, as it were, reform the world — arrange things as we would like them to be. And often indeed the lie is a preview of a new truth.

Interlude: a single black loafer on the shoulder of Catasaqua Rd, right where it curves past Applebees — what's the story there?


Back to Eric:

Philosophy I could never figure out — or probably did not take the trouble to figure out — what the great philosophical problems are about. The momentous statements I come across are at best a storm in a teacup. There are quite a number of people who have a vested interest in the stuff, make a noble liviing out of it, and they conspire with one another to keep it alive. — 1977.

And from earlier (pages stuck together when I first opened the mag to start copying out):

Polemics give warmth Perhaps people throw thenselves into heated polemics to give content to their lives, to warm their hearts. What Luther said of hatred is true of all quarreling. There is nothing like a feud to make life seem full and interesting. — 1950.


Brooding I am more and more convinced that taking life over-seriously is a frivolous thing. There is an affected self-dramatizing in the brooding over one's prospects and destiny. The trifling attitude of Ecclesiastes is essentially sober and serious. It is in closer touch with the so-called eternal truths than are the most penetrating metaphysical probing and the most sensitive poetic insights. — 1952.


The desire for praise This food-and-shelter theory concerning man's efforts is without insight. Our most persistent and spectacular efforts are concerned not with the preservationof what we are but with the building up of an imaginary conception of ourselves in the opinion of others. The desire for praise is more imperative than the desire for food and shelter. — 1952.


Little to say If writing gives us satisfaction, we are likely to end up writing for definite periods each day when we have little to say. The hanging on to an empty form is almost natural since it is the form only that we can control and stage. There is, of course, also the unconscious assumption that once you stage the form, the content will come to nest in it of itself. All ritual is perhaps based on this assumption: you stage the gesture and words that go with fervor and faith and you assume that the latter will somehow materialize. — 1952.

14 September 2006

Slow Mo/The more of them

He wears the eventlessness of his life very well.
— friend Rabbo re cat Elmo.


The more of them there are, the more they look alike.
— friend Nemo re These People.

10 September 2006

More from Aegypt

Some additional morsels for the journey:
To what extent do we invent our rituals to frame a procession to the desired outcome?


... And hearing it all as it were from a third party, I saw, too, how the past fit together like the smooth and fitted stones of the Great Pyramid. You could not insert a knife blade between the blocks of recollection, no prying them apart to make a different narrative. The past was its own joined whole — a thing unto itself and complete. However, torn apart again, it was yet another fragmented mystery.
— Ba voice, in M.D. Coverley, Egypt: The Book of Going Forth By Day, Papyrus 20.


... What is hardest is the letting go. The realization that nothing counts, nothing can be saved up against the emptiness of the journey: it is always one time, one place, this night, this time.
— Ka voice, Ibid., Papyrus 25.

Nice to retrieve additional context for "the emptiness of the journey"...
 

02 September 2006

01 September 2006

Without art

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.
— G.B. Shaw, epigraph to Ch1 in Stephen Archer's Theatre: Its Art and Craft, 5/e.

Yeah, I guess. But let's not forget which side of the divide *teaching* art is on, especially to the Generation of Entitlement in a distribution course...
 

30 August 2006

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29 August 2006

The joys of hardcore sf

"All the inner planets are eggs," he continued, flattening Drea's interjection like a Hummer ironing out a motorbike.
Fantasy & Science Fiction, Oct/Nov 2006, 12.

20 August 2006

Two-step

In the linear life we lead, as opposed to the multivalent life we dream and remember, whenever you take a step in the wrong direction, you have to take two more just to stay in the same place.
 

17 August 2006

Grief

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. W e might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be "healing." A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to "get through it," rise to the occasion, exhibit the "strength" that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day?We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

— Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking, 188-189.

08 August 2006

From The Great Fire

Isolation had made me arrogant, too. I wasn't prepared for the quality of thought in others.
— Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire, 124.


When we're indecisive, yes, the wishes of others gain.
Ibid., 146.


There can be danger in supplying what people say they want...
Ibid.,


"The illusory quiet of the world": small flaring hubbub of humanity, and the encompassing night. That ancient balance had tipped long since.
Ibid., 147.


When a life goes off the rails, the casualties are many. One grows by turns patient, even saintly, and furiously resentful. These fluctuations occur in rapid succession or simultaneously, and the habit of abnegation loses its interest. Like others, I turn to my work, which occasionally palls.
Ibid., 312.

One wants, of course, to simply copy out the whole thing.
 

05 August 2006

Satisfaction

I should know better than to derive satisfaction from experience.
— J. Nathan Matias, in his blog Notebook of Sand, 27 Jul 2006.
 

04 August 2006

Tragedy in life

...in life, tragedy is not one long scream.
— Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 417.

03 August 2006

The universe

Why is the universe so complicated? Why is it so over our heads?
— Martin Amis, interviewed by Bill Moyers on NOW.

01 August 2006

The only way you can write the truth

The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.

Impossible, of course.

— Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 283.

31 July 2006

Rooms

You live in your head.
You live in your heart.
You live in your gut.
You live in your genitals.

Each is a room — in an apartment, say — and each room communicates to each other room — you can go from any to any.

Living only in your head makes you crazy.
Living only in your heart makes you sad.
Living only in your gut makes you sick.
Living only in your genitals makes you disgusted.

Each can purify each. Any purges any.

30 July 2006

A word

She stubs out her cigarette in the brown glass ashtray, then settles herself against him, ear to his chest. She likes to hear his voice this way, as if it begins not in his throat but in his body, like a hum or a growl, or like a voice speaking from deep underground. Like the blood moving through her own heart: a word, a word, a word.
— Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 112.

28 July 2006

Some people.../Morning after

...some people can't tell where it hurts. They can't calm down. They can't ever stop howling.
— Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 2.


The sun was up, the room already too warm. Light filtered in through the net curtains, hanging suspended in the air, sediment in a pond. My head felt like a sack of pulp. Still in my nightgown, damp from some fright I'd pushed aside like foliage, I pulled myself up and out of my tangled bed, then forced myself through the usual dawn rituals — the ceremonies we perform to make ourselves look sane and acceptable to other people. The hair must be smoothed down after whatever apparitions made it stand on end during the night, the expression of staring disbelief washed from the eyes. The teeth brushed, such as they are. God knows what bones I'd been gnawing on in my sleep.
Ibid., 35.

21 July 2006

Prejudice

By definition a prejudice is a principle that its owner does not intend to examine. Which does not prove it wrong. And what a comforting thing it is.

— Wallace Stegner, The Spectator Bird, 156.

12 July 2006

Aegypt delivered

Eight years ago, at a hypertext conference in my home town Pittsburgh, M.D. Coverley did a demo of her new work, Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day.

Last month she sent me a copy on CD, the artist's book version. I can't express my gratitude.

I've been reading it through and through for the past month, and haven't found the bottom yet, but want to share four quotes that struck me along the way:

We need, too, silence and watchfulness, attention to the ritual. Any hour of the night we could fall prey to the forces that seek to steal our hearts, make us walk upside down, leave us putrid beside the water's edge, separate us from what we love most. — Papyrus 12


One thing we do not know is our responsibility in the outcome. Does Osiris guarantee us safe passage? Or must we depend on the magic we have gathered ourselves? The ritual guarantees us nothing, perhaps, once we have embarked. — Papyrus 16


And what of the point, in the middle of the way, further than the middle of the way, in the shambles of the gods, when the journey back is too long to undertake, and we can only go forward? — Papyrus 22


Nothing can be saved up against the emptiness of the journey. — Papyrus 25

10 July 2006

22 June 2006

Sloganeering for Jesus

Sign out front of Epworth Methodist, on the way to Speech class:

SPIRITS LOW? COME IN FOR A FAITH LIFT!
There's gotta be a book in this...

13 June 2006

People-watching at the Star City Diner

I didn't ask to be princess, but the crown fits.
— T-shirt on a 9-year-old a couple tables away at breakfast.
And we wonder why they hate our freedoms.

23 May 2006

Street scene, Bethlehem

I heard the bawling baby approaching first, a young infant with a good set of lungs, then it passed beneath my deck overhanging Prospect Ave, at last revealed in a 3-wheel racing stroller pushed by its jogging father, who patted behind at a fair clip, hydrator sloshing at his hip, Borg phone clipped to his near ear, free hand leashed to 2 trotting spaniels.

My dear, the gear...

09 May 2006

Max Weber's definition of government

Government is an organization claiming a monopoly on the licit first use of force in a specified geographic region.
— paraphrased in Eric S. Raymond's "Why I Am an Anarchist"

15 April 2006

"Boys" on Verse Daily

It's a small thing, but good news is always welcome. My poem "Boys," recently published in Runes: Signals, was featured April 2 on the poetry site Verse Daily.

Thanks to CB ('Lyn) Follett & Susan Terris, co-editors of RUNES, for the heads-up — and always for their encouragement & enthusiasm.

09 April 2006

Life at work

Life at work is like a tree full of monkeys, all on different limbs at different levels.

Some monkeys are climbing up, some down.

The monkeys on top look down and see a tree full of smiling faces.

The monkeys on the bottom look up and see nothing but assholes.

— sign on the door of 19 Old Main, Kutztown U