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Through Adversity

— the stars (with my moon)

'Ways Of Escape: a journey of sorts' is a work in progress by J. H. & J. H.📙 Books    📕 Poets    📗 Thinkers    📘 Writers

ENGLISH LIT.
The English language
Booker / Nobel / Pulitzer
Elizabethan era / “Love letters”
“Definitive List of Literary Works”
French in English / Latin in English
Anthology / Chronology / Terminology
Phrases & idioms (with their etymologies)
Literary criticism: analysing poetry & prose
Glossary of works, writers & literary devices:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  headphone personal-computer spacer spacer spacer face-with-stuck-out-tongue-and-winking-eye ghost tongue

The seas of pity lie/ Locked and frozen in each eye//

foreplay for love


If wild my breast and sore my pride
I bask in dreams of suicide
If cool my heart and high my head
I think, “How lucky are the dead.”


— Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell at their farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1937
Dorothy Parker was very famous in the interwar years for her talent with words. She had, it is said, a stinging repartee and the ability to churn out — at high velocity — endlessly quotable one-liners.
Dorothy Parker
Beneath Dorothy Parker’s sharp wit and acidic humour, was a writer who expressed well the deep vulnerability of a troubled, self-destructive soul who, in the words of philosopher Irwin Edman, was “a Sappho who could combine a heartbreak with a wisecrack.”

Susanna Kaysen (1994, p. 48) writes in her memoir, “our hospital was famous and had housed many great poets and singers. Did the hospital specialise in poets, or was it that poets specialised in madness?” Kaysen went on to ponder, “what is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?”


A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.

Kafka wrote,
Sexton quoted,
Auden would’ve approved.


REFERENCES

Kaysen, S. (1993). Girl, interrupted. Private Idaho: Turtle Bay Books.

Parker, D. (2001). The Collected Dorothy Parker. London: Penguin Classics.

toodle pip

There’s a feeling when say the circus leaves town. You walk over the rubbish strewn waste ground that had, until yesterday been bubbling with the hum of humans, scents of glossy candyfloss and a sensation of collective anticipation—to gawp from the stalls at the leotarded trapeze artists, to stare at the caged, dead-eyed lion (would tonight be the night it finally flips and severs the head of the comic compere?) and to see again the star of the show, the wild-eyed clown, comically nicknamed “Commander & Thief” (‘i’ before ‘e,’ accept after ‘c’). The grass is now threadbare in more patches than one, the trees around the periphery of “The Rec” (for recreational ground) have reverted to reclusive and solitary form; no longer serving as impromptu urinals and supports to hold whilst being rogered by Ray or orally relieved by Phil (some idiot had freshly carved out “JH 4 JH” on to one such trunk). A poster, once pinned erect, vivid, bright and gay, announcing the troupe’s tour dates with your home town’s name in bold (with drop shadow to boot), now lays sodden, soggy and washed out upon the ground (unlike one of its lucky compatriots, it hasn’t become a souvenir and, lovingly encased in laminate, been Blu-tacked upon some girl’s boudoir wall). It is emptiness. It is the inner realisation that the thing that had once so dominated your thoughts and attention… no longer exists. Yeah memories remain, but they are, when all is said and done, fictitious little affairs of your own making (whether you know this or not—I mean to say, depending on if you have bothered or not to read up on what lies behind dreams and the machinations of cognition—you and your brain will soon remold and reshape actual happenings into figments utterly removed from what once immutably was). This is that feeling: “I’ve got the spirit, but [I’m] los[ing] the feeling / /

The hair's a-flare
“The hair’s a-flare”
And yes, objectification is wrong, but did not my man Anderson break with protocol and quip, “the man’s an obese orange turtle on his back, flailing in the hot Arizonan sun”? Two wrongs don’t make a right, my ‘man’ man would say, but come along now my son, the emperor is naked and has long been the arch master in the art of name calling (e.g., [not i.e.] Wild Bill, Low Energy Jeb, Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted Cruz and latterly, Crazy Bernie and Sleepy Joe).

Let us not forget either these other performers who all, in their own walk on ways, played pivotal roles in this now concluded tragicomedy circus:

01. — Spicier
02. — Conaway
03. — Huckabee

Don’t walk away in silence
Don’t walk away

NOTES

The Daily Star… telling it as it is.
🔥|Fact|😉
“Truth isn’t truth.”
Fiction (as in: make believe)
Us (u ‘n’ i) vs. “The world.”

“Long Live Love”

— a monument to now

“*Listen* To Me”


I begun the day in a wistful way—
Your loquaciousness
is so very precious
Ur mind’s delicious
– – – – – – – – –
Despite all this adversity
this ever so harsh reality
& De Profundis’ centrality
– – – – – – – –
You dominate my mind totally
Visions of you so consume me
My constant motif is but you

—but t’was fleeting and soon faded away
. . . . . . .
So listen to me now and do not say,
or utter, a single ‘fucking’ word.
I’ll speak from where they say,
reason does not dare descend.
. . . . . .
Oh for the hands they are a telling,
they are tolling for last orders.
Ignore this play with wording,
it’s just sum wit rejoinders.
. . . . .
Because you do know me and I so know you,
let’s send to hell this thing called reason.
Let all caution be exiled to Timbuktu,
sense!? Let it sing to the horizon.
. . . .
Hear the heart drown out the head,
let reason go, let it sail to a vortex,
Quick to silver, subside to sand,
let it quarry a swirl of Semtex:
. . .
East lays laden with forbidden fruits of Eden;
Shades of purple, orange ‘n’ London-grey;
The road must now be undertaken for
Xanadu opens with a vision of jay.
. .
I know but one deep immutable truth,
you r my singular fountain of youth
.
send me by strive, your kiss of life.

I do know well the Greek modes of love /
I do know my station on their Dionysian-derived cline // oft depicted as a triangle (△) encircled in psychology journals:

“Greek Love”
— Humankind’s attempts to classify love /lʌv/ (the four-lettered word that conquers all else) starting with Sappho.

It’s out there (my station), I am an outlier. I’m now well beyond the pale, o loved one, I’m upon the opposite side of the river from the legions of righteous ones. I read it said that I’d be labeled a serial sinner (you know, condemned as a renegade reprobate). Myth and make believe — the tract I refer to — is though, but a form of statecraft (a claim that would once have been enough to see me be tethered to a stake and to feel the pain of the flame lick and lash at my naked floundering feet, see: 📙 “Hammer of Witches”). Myth and make believe (our “mumbo-jumbo,” jay) are the modus operandi for…, the mode to use when…, concocting statecraft. You see, statecraft is penned patronage. It is paid patronage for the poets and prose makers that write (well) what their paymasters want to be read and remembered. History is verily the victor’s diktat. (What that we are informed is seminal and pivotal, gospel and sacrosanct, the scripts and texts, the tracts and tomes that underpin our understanding, define our being and determine the circumference confines of our culture and civilisation, are what yesteryear’s men of good fortune decided they liked, determined should not be burnt and declared be deemed divine: “Praise You ma’Love.” The anthologies and authoritative lists are set in stone albeit of age-old codex form [more pulpwood cedar ‘n’ larch then than igneous granite {graveyard-grade} ‘n’ sedimentary clay {desert-baked}]. Diligently now, they are being scanned and transcribed to reside in digital form [with audio to boot]. Electronic egalitarianism yes! [1]  But, a further consolidation of what is and what isn’t canonical. Shibboleth — that’s the name given to the centurion gatekeeper who’s older than Rome and Athens — goes back, and I can painfully attest to this, to the bubbling springs of Babylon and the torrential downpours of Uruq. I mean — mouth the following ‘K.R.-style’ — “Come On” Dear reader!” Do we really believe that the carver of the Löwenmensch figurine — a lion-cum-human hewn from a woolly mammoth’s tusk — was anything other than a man; gifted with gold, or the like, by the then chieftain whose Machiavellian right-hand man had deduced that if the clan were to willingly waste there time worshiping an idol, they’d be less likely to question hereditary hierarchy and more likely to conduct their affairs in an opiated kind of way [pay your taxes, your dues to Caesar, do it faithfully, do it obediently for, who are we {who were they?} to hold the powers that be to account? we accept you had to rape and pillage the village in order to teach, you had to kill to save, war is peace, let man control woman in matrimony {thus he’ll not hit back at his master but instead wallop his wife when he gets home} and six + nine is no more or no less that fifteen on the clock {Look for the numbers, it is all about the numbers, not around the numbers, but into the numbers. seven has been found to be divine ((but only if read in ancient Hebrew form [[the power and the divinity is lost in translation]] for in that script, in Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning, …” — we will note that the number seven is written all over it [[(1) there are seven words in this opening verse (2), there’s 28 letters in total {{divisible by seven}} (3), the first three words have 14 letters {{divisible by seven}}, (4) the last four words have 14 letters too {{divisible by seven}} (5), the words: God, heaven, and earth also add up to 14 letters {{divisible by seven}} (6), the remaining words add up to 14 letters as well and (7) the middle word in Genesis 1:1 — when written I reiterate, emphasis and underscore, in ancient Hebrew form — is the shortest, with two letters, but, ‘but,’ the words to the right and left of it have 5 letters each so, combining with either would give us seven too {{proof positive of the almighty one, no? irrefutable evidence of The Invisible Hand or — dare we utter an or… or evidence that wordsmiths have been at play, crafting away, for several millennia or more? (((it is a known known that the good scriptures, while filled themselves with numerical patterns — hidden meanings — expressly forbade us, those made of clay, to dabble in such pursuits; to quote Deutronomy 18:10–12: “Let no one be found among you who … practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable.”)))}}.]])) seven is heaven — oh yes! It rhymes, but what of the sinuous serpentine six? and it’s naughty partner in crime: number nine? ((On six: In Revelation 13:18, the number of the Beast is written with the Greek symbols for 600 and 60 and 6. On nine: This number is related to the number six, being the sum of its factors — 3×3=9, and 3+3=6 — it also purported to be the number of finality and/or judgment; you see, it was in the 9th year of Hosea’s supremacy that the King of Assyria destroyed the northern capital city of the Israelites and too, it was the the 9th year of King Zedekiah’s reign that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, conquered the southern city of the Israelites.))}.].) And, to the unforgiving wilderness of solitude and exiled abstinence that I face on this side of the river’s bank, I say unto you: I know well the lines of “De Profundis” for recently, I’ve poured over them again and again. I hear it has a word count of circa 50,000 but this wasn’t noticed by I. I was, you see, carried away by the assonance (imagined) and the associations… the adages and the aphorisms… the allegories and the allegations:


Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.

I, ____, take you, ______, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death DO us part:

📘 “De Profundis”
— analysis, audio & book in HTML/PDF formats.

Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan (1630) by Diego Velázquez
Baroque | Camp | “Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan” by Velázquez (1599–1660) (1630) — Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter and the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. Velázquez’s artwork became a model for 19th c. realist and impressionist painters and, in the 20th century, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon paid tribute to Velázquez by re-interpreting some of his most iconic images.

— § —


NOTES

[1]   Suffice to set out here — from the surfeit that’s out there free of charge — are the following six (I show no fear & no favour in their selection):
1. — ancient-literature.com
2. — archive.org
3. — classics.mit.edu
3. — gutenberg.net.au
4. — gutenberg.org
5. — sacred-texts.com

Lit.’s “LIT,” literally

The wannabe wordsmith’s
redacted //

📁 Conrad et al.  |  📁 Plath   |  📁 Walcott



I love my one&only as do poets love the poetry that kills them, as do sailors the sea that drowns them.

^ Adapted a little &, agreed:


The classics can console. But not enough . . .

A while back, as per the curriculum’s instructions, I was discovering the works of Toni Morrison. Now a similar set of instructions invites me to investigate the works of Derek Walcott. Like flotsam I’m adrift, listing and teetering, buoyed a bit — only just — by the Gulf stream’s salinity (or should I say in fact the Dead Sea’s? You tell me for, what occurred in the arena and environs of what’s today named Palestine, really underpins all that we call the Western canon of literature). I dwell, I’m sure you’ve ‘deduced’ — you [2nd pl.], the fabled fictitious, as in you aren’t at all there, you; you [2nd sing.], the mercurial one whose mental whereabouts is a mystery to humankind n beast alike — in Arabia Deserta. That is, the region above Arabia Felix — from desert to orange grove, yeah right, no, think Queen of Sheba, the heat of a relentless afternoon in Sana’a and the incessant burn of insatiable internal desire; a constant unflinching flame — and, below Arabia Petraea — that I’ll expand and add to Palestine: ‘The Hebrew Bible’, Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh and, to hell with time and geographical rigidness, Homer’s epics too.  [1]


If I should die, think only this of me…
She’s gone, and all our plans
           are useless indeed
And say with conviction:
“Dulce Et Decorum Est”
But fa sure, consider this rejoinder to Horace:
is it? Is it really worth it…

I see it and read it in “Unspeakable, unspoken” and I see it and read it in “Omeros.” Time heals yeah? And believe you me I listened to 1619 — I even put the audio files here for posterity — but you see, we can lionise Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece because what happened there is past and what remains are beautiful things like democracy and underfloor heating and fa sure, fantastic fiction in both poetic and prose from. So yes I see colonialism and slavery as they rightly should be seen, but — dear reader — has not humankind always been unkind to fellow humankind? Us and them was not manufactured by the likes of Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama. No! It was there in Sumeria, it was there lurking in the orchard, it is, I brazenly say, within the fabric of humankind, part of the human condition.

The episode involving Odysseus's confrontation with Polyphemus in the Odyssey bears similarities to Gilgamesh and Enkidu's battle with Humbaba in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
“Polyphemus”
By Guido Reni (1575–1642) (c. 1640). __ Must’ve been a cold day? Right! ;P __ The episode involving Odysseus’s confrontation with Polyphemus in the Odyssey bears similarities to Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s battle with Humbaba in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Grindstone

Here are some pages of potential interest. I hasten to emphasise and underscore the adjective ‘potential’:

01. — On vocabulary (by J.H.K., 2020)
02. — On language (by Rouse, n.d.)
03. — Literary devices (by Bonnie & Clyde)
04. — “The Elizabethan era”
05. — “British literature of the 20th c.”
06. — “Global literature” (esp. Derek Walcott)
07. — “Comparative literature” (esp. Sylvia Plath)

In terms of public interest and the greater good, a duet of works by Walcott, for study purposes only:

📘 “Collected Poems 1948-1984”
— Initially, many were self-published (Editable PDF).
📘 “Omeros”
— A take on Homer (Editable PDF).


REFERENCES

Walcott, D. (1986). Collected Poems 1948-1984. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

Walcott, D. (1990). Omeros. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux


Derek-Walcott's--Books
“The discontent that lies in the human condition is not satisfied simply by material things.”

— § —


NOTES

[1]   To try and trace the course or deduce the derivation of something is not always a scientific endevour. No! It can be far more speculative and subjective in certain circumstances. It was a long time in coming and the comeuppance was and is harsh. See:
“Empire of Deceit: entrapped in honey, money or, plain old power?”

📕📕📕

{S.} {O.} {S.}

Last night, I was literally saved by a book


so, in deference and in homage of,


I do hereby present to thee


an encomium entitled:


“Between Bookends”


dedicated to


the book


Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
 
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything”
 
Science. Technology. Want for nothing. Maximum pleasure. Welcome to a world where society exists without war, poverty, sickness or unhappiness, where instant gratification and mass consumerism sooth the inhabitants into happy conformity. One man stands to challenge all this: Bernard Marx, alone in harbouring a longing to break free. His attempt to do so sets off a chain of events that could disrupt everything.” — Is this Brave New World that Huxley imagined where we are headed, or are we already there? Take the drugs and float away through Huxley’s relentless cityscape, and you might find answers to questions you didn’t know you should be asking. (This is taken from a too be published 2021 edition introduction by Yuval Noah Harari.) [1]


Brighton Rock
Graham Greene
 
“Heaven was a word: hell was something he could trust.”
 
A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Seventeen-year-old Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, Pinkie is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold, who is determined to uncover him. This is Graham Greene’s chilling exposé of violence, class, and gang warfare inspired many imitators. Few, if any, can match the originality of Brighton Rock, and of Pinkie – one of fiction’s most unnerving and compelling villains.


Catch-22
Joseph Heller
 
“He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.”
 
It’s the closing months of the Second World War and Yossarian has never been closer to death. Stationed in an American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, each flight mission introduces him to thousands of people determined to kill him. But the enemy above is not Yossarian’s problem – it is his own army intent on keeping him airborne, and the maddening ‘Catch-22’ that allows for no possibility of escape. Penguin, the publisher, writes, “No book has satirised military madness so hilariously and tragically. It is the tale of one man’s struggle to survive the sheer lunacy of war.”


The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
Angela Carter
 
“Midnight, and the clock strikes. It is Christmas Day, the werewolves birthday, the door of the solstice still wide enough open to let them all slink through.”
 
We grow up on fairy tales but it is only later we realise what we have been fed. Angela Carter saw the power of these dark stories – stories in which objects betray, children threaten, men turn into animals and women are unsafe. Erotic, subversive, ancient, modern: the tales in this book pulse with a vivid, radical imagination. Turn the key, enter the chamber. Carter untwists our old tales and offers them up with sensuality, depravity, humour – and a mirror held up to ourselves. (From a yet to be published 2021 edition with an introduction by Laura Dockrill.)


Slaughterhouse 5
Kurt Vonnegut
 
“So it goes.”
 
Billy Pilgrim – hapless barber’s assistant, successful optometrist, alien abductee, senile widower and soldier­­ – has become unstuck in time. Hiding in the basement of a slaughterhouse in Dresden, with the city and its inhabitants burning above him, he finds himself a survivor of one of the most deadly and destructive battles of the Second World War. But when, exactly? How did he get here? And how does he get out? Travel through time and space on the shoulders of Vonnegut himself. This is a book about war. Listen to what he has to say: it is of the utmost urgency.


The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway
 
“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
 
In the baking sun, in a small village off the coast of Havana, lives an old fisherman named Santiago. It has been eighty-four days since he last caught a fish. The locals call it bad luck. Refusing to accept defeat, Santiago sets off in his tiny skiff alone, fishing further out than ever before. It is here, over a number of days, that he, his will and his character are tested beyond imagination. Faced with bad weather, hunger and thirst, the old man finds himself in battle with a giant marlin, a fish bigger than any to have been caught before. Nature is not kind and gentle in this fable, nor is Hemingway. You hold in your hands one of the very best pieces of writing to have ever been created.


When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi
 
“Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.”
 
This magnetic, hopeful book was first published in 2016. Adored by millions of readers, it is a Vintage Classic already and a book that will stand the test of time. — We often ask ourselves how we should be living. In Paul Kalanithi’s deeply moving memoir, he is forced to ask himself the question, ‘how do you live when you are dying?’ At thirty-six, having just finished his training to become a neurosurgeon, he was faced with a devastating cancer diagnosis. This is his memoir. From student, to doctor, to patient, to father, and to writer, Paul preserved his last years and legacy in this truly unforgettable book.


To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee
 
“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”
 
This evocative and amusing novel has charmed and inspired generations. — Summers for Scout in the Deep South are long and golden. Her story is one of innocence, and growing up. It is also about justice. When Scout’s father Atticus Finch, a lawyer, agrees to defend a black man against an accusation by a white girl, he takes on the prejudice of the whole town. Through the case, Atticus teaches Scout that your imagination is not just for childhood games, but for understanding other people. Because you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.


Stoner
John Williams
 
“He learned silence and did not insist upon his love.”
 
For nearly fifty years this book existed as quietly as its protagonist before it was rediscovered. It is now regarded as one of the most heart-stopping and beautiful classics of the twentieth century. — This is the great forgotten novel of the last century – a quiet book; the story of a quiet life. William Stoner is a man who learns to contain himself, but beneath the surface lie passions and principles. An undistinguished career, an unhappy marriage, a bitter conflict with a colleague; Stoner endures. He is a different kind of hero. This wise, moving story seethes with the power and beauty of an individual life.


The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood
 
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
 
Atwood’s Handmaids have become a symbol of feminist resistance. This masterpiece blurs the boundaries between fiction and news headlines. — Imagine a world where women’s bodies are controlled by men. Where society has descended into religious patriarchy and censorship. Where the environment has been destroyed and a powerful few hold the reins to all wealth and freedom. Welcome to Gilead. This is the story of Offred, a Handmaid forced into sexual servitude, in the country once known as the USA.



Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness . . .
. . . Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
          Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


— John Keats (extract, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”)


NOTES

[1]   Vintage Classics [Penguin, 2021]: “MOST LOVED. MOST RED.” — ten must-read modern classics. You get me, don’t you:

William Burroughs and, Maurice Girodias (a bootleg pornographer and renegade Parisian publisher; he inherited Olymipa press — think: Henry Miller’s 1934 novel, “Tropic of Cancer,” which had explicit sexual passages and could not therefore be published in the United States; Anaïs Nin’s “Winter of Artifice” (1939) and James Joyce’s “Haveth Childers” Everywhere and “Pomes Penyeach” (1932) — and ran, for a time, Obelisk Press, notable publication firsts were Burroughs’ “The Naked Lunch” and, “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov).
 
“Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

*ART

Joseph Conrad places fiction in the schema of *art

— What is *ART?

As Maria Popova writes in The Atlantic on the subject of (the increasingly, nowadays, ‘controversial’) Joseph Conrad, “Much of his writing bears a profound philosophical quality, exploring the depths of psychology and other pillars of existence.” In this post I give you some of Conrad’s case for how strings of (“tired old”) words can be construed as a form of fine art. I would personally place literature (not music, as he does) at the pinnacle but, this is me and, I am not he:

A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colors, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential—their one illuminating and convincing quality—the very truth of their existence. The artist, then, like the thinker or the scientist, seeks the truth and makes his appeal. Impressed by the aspect of the world the thinker plunges into ideas, the scientist into facts—whence, presently, emerging they make their appeal to those qualities of our being that fit us best for the hazardous enterprise of living. They speak authoritatively to our common-sense, to our intelligence, to our desire of peace or to our desire of unrest; not seldom to our prejudices, sometimes to our fears, often to our egoism—but always to our credulity. And their words are heard with reverence, for their concern is with weighty matters: with the cultivation of our minds and the proper care of our bodies, with the attainment of our ambitions, with the perfection of the means and the glorification of our precious aims. It is otherwise with the artist.
 
Fiction—if it at all aspires to be art—appeals to temperament. And in truth it must be, like painting, like music, like all art, the appeal of one temperament to all the other innumerable temperaments whose subtle and resistless power endows passing events with their true meaning, and creates the moral, the emotional atmosphere of the place and time. Such an appeal to be effective must be an impression conveyed through the senses; and, in fact, it cannot be made in any other way, because temperament, whether individual or collective, is not amenable to persuasion. All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its high desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions. It must strenuously aspire to the plasticity of sculpture, to the color of painting, and to the magic suggestiveness of music—which is the art of arts. And it is only through complete, unswerving devotion to the perfect blending of form and substance; it is only through an unremitting never-discouraged care for the shape and ring of sentences that an approach can be made to plasticity, to color, and that the light of magic suggestiveness may be brought to play for an evanescent instant over the commonplace surface of words: of the old, old words, worn thin, defaced by ages of careless usage.
 
The sincere endeavor to accomplish that creative task, to go as far on that road as his strength will carry him, to go undeterred by faltering, weariness or reproach, is the only valid justification for the worker in prose. And if his conscience is clear, his answer to those who in the fullness of a wisdom which looks for immediate profit, demand specifically to be edified, consoled, amused; who demand to be promptly improved, or encouraged, or frightened, or shocked, or charmed, must run thus: My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm—all you demand—and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.
 
Sometimes, stretched at ease in the shade of a roadside tree, we watch the motions of a labourer in a distant field, and after a time, begin to wonder languidly as to what the fellow may be at. We watch the movements of his body, the waving of his arms, we see him bend down, stand up, hesitate, begin again. It may add to the charm of an idle hour to be told the purpose of his exertions. If we know he is trying to lift a stone, to dig a ditch, to uproot a stump, we look with a more real interest at his efforts; we are disposed to condone the jar of his agitation upon the restfulness of the landscape; and even, if in a brotherly frame of mind, we may bring ourselves to forgive his failure. We understood his object, and, after all, the fellow has tried, and perhaps he had not the strength—and perhaps he had not the knowledge. We forgive, go on our way—and forget. And so it is with the workman of art. Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off. And thus, doubtful of strength to travel so far, we talk a little about the aim—the aim of art, which, like life itself, is inspiring, difficult—obscured by mists. It is not in the clear logic of a triumphant conclusion; it is not in the unveiling of one of those heartless secrets which are called the Laws of Nature. It is not less great, but only more difficult.
 
To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and color, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause for a look, for a sigh, for a smile—such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for a few to achieve. But sometimes, by the deserving and the fortunate, even that task is accomplished. And when it is accomplished—behold!—all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile—and the return to an eternal rest.

1619

Lest we forget or indeed, in case we aren’t yet fully au fait, you may like to listen to or download even, the “1619 Project” podcasts.

“Elsewhere”

_ that’s where i am _

“Elsewhere”


Elsewhere Anchises,
 
Fatherly and intent, was off in a deep green valley
Surveying and reviewing souls consigned there,
Those due to pass to the light of the upper world.
It so happened he was just then taking note
 
Of his whole posterity, the destinies and doings,
Traits and qualities of descendants dear to him,
But seeing Aeneas come wading through the grass
Towards him, he reached his two hands out
In eager joy, his eyes filled up with tears
And he gave a cry: “At last! Are you here at last?
I always trusted that your sense of right
Would prevail and keep you going to the end.
And am I now allowed to see your face,
My son, and hear you talk, and talk to you myself?
 
This is what I imagined and looked forward to
As I counted the days; and my trust was not misplaced.
To think of the lands and the outlying seas
You have crossed, my son, to receive this welcome.
And after such dangers! I was afraid that Africa
Might be your undoing.” But Aeneas replied:
“Often and often, father, you would appear to me,
Your sad shade would appear, and that kept me going
To this end. My ships are anchored in the Tuscan sea.
Let me take your hand, my father, O let me, and do not
 
Hold back from my embrace.” And as he spoke he wept.
Three times he tried to reach arms round that neck.
Three times the form, reached for in vain, escaped
Like a breeze between his hands, a dream on wings.


Virgil, “The Aeneid” (Book VI). Translated from the original Latin by Seamus Heaney (1939-2013); published by The New Yorker in 2016.

^ I have now read this a dozen or more times and only now, is a meaning emerging. I’ve no context (((I could dig but I shan’t — i.e., I could read up on Virgil’s “The Aeneid” and/or look into a good half-millennia’s worth of essays and tomes that draw out and align his Roman founding myth with that of Ancient Greece’s — I did though happen across a few painted works of art on the subject and these are depicted below))) but what’s beginning to form in my mind is a passage depicting a dream, double vision, wanting a heartfelt wish to materialise, wanting beyond want a thing that is neigh on impossible to get or to have. More devastatingly so because, even if it were to be realised, the ramifications of it — I speak here more personally now — would soon act to indelibly taint and mar the realised dream. Back to the poem, some things can never be sated; sons and fathers reaching in vein to bridge breaches. Must there be fault-lines along this cline? I know not, if ever I had a connection, it has long since gone (I don’t feel beholden, I don’t feel denigrated). As my woman said to me, no response stings more than apathy. To elicit consternation and ridicule is better than a snoring Lecturer on student presentation day or, a swipe left without a second glance or a moment’s hesitation (I don’t recall if rejection’s a swipe to the left or to the right but, you get the point don’t ‘you,’ oh fic-fuckin-ticious you). Mums ‘n’ daughters; Freud (Sigmund) ‘n’ Freud (Lucian) & the Oedipal complex and, the impassioned lyrics “The killer awoke before dawn / He put his boots on / He took a face from the ancient gallery / And he walked on down the hall // He went into the room where his sister lived / And then he paid a visit to his brother / And then he walked on down the hall / And he came to a door / And he looked inside / Father? / Yes son / I want to kill you / Mother, I want to… /// was it ‘fuck,’ or just ‘kill’ too? Etc. etc. I’m sic n tired of relying on context for understanding, for my long-run weakness to blindly adhere to the interpretations of others. Literature is art, art is in the eye of the beholder, it is for me — in my isolation wing of solitary confinement — to decide what I see and what I feel when I happen across a piece of poetry.

Virgil reading “The Aeneid” to Augustus, Octavia, and Livia
By Jean-Baptiste Wicar (1762–1834) (1790).
“Aeneas flees burning Troy”
By Federico Barocci (1535-1612) (1598).
“Aeneas meets Dido”
By Rutilio di Lorenzo Manetti (1571-1639) (c. 1630).

I grasp

for you

“Verse XIV”

 
In this hour I feel you like never before
*
As you lay there imprisoned in a state of isolation, I lay here restless in the straight jacket of my making.
*
I see the naïveté of a youth transcend to the reason of an adulthood. Along has come a first dose of morbid fear: a realisation that this is life and no, no it’s not going to unfurl and happen but that it is, it is unraveling and happening.
*
In this hour I need you like never before.

Click here to see Bidoonism's pictorial profile of Lucian (
Click to see Bidoonism’s pictorial profile of Lucian “the lothario” Freud.

“Come On Gaius”

 
I love beginnings
Love! “So strong!” It is though
Oh how much I know this
Venus to Uranus
Exploded with a kiss
&
I hate though endings
Hate! “Too strong!” Not at all
All conspires against us
The mean and religious
Everything does curse us.
 

 


NOTES
 
[1]   Uranus _ 27 known moons _ 7th planet from the Sun; named after the Greek god of the sky _ I’ll believe in Pluto ’til I die _ Twenni-seven, huh! Twen Tee Sev En, HUH!

 
Excuse me while I kiss the sky,
you got to get it while you can.
Love cannot save us from fate,
go back to her, I’ll go to black.