26 February 2007

Beckett on the afterlife

Samuel Beckett, on what it will be like in the afterlife: "We'll sit around talking about the good old days, when we wished we were dead." — Louis Menand, "Notable Quotables," in New Yorker, February 19 & 26, 2007.

24 February 2007

There's no

There's no care except hunger
No favors but from an enemy
Nothing edible but a bale of hay.
No lookout but there's a man asleep
No clemency without crime
No safety but among the frightened
No good faith but a disbeliever's
Nor any cool heads but lovers.
— François Villon, from "Ballade," translated by Galway Kinnell

13 February 2007


These are the desolate, dark weeks
When nature in its barrenness
Equals the stupidity of men.
— William Carlos Williams, cited by Lourie's Word of the Day, 2/11/07.
First snow day of this winter. Class cancelled, streets white.
Septentrional: pertaining to winter.
Thanks, Jeffie!

11 February 2007

on Regular Information

Every check we write is drawn on exactly one bank, for precisely one amount, and each has exactly one check number. If we need to record checks, we don't need to worry about checks that are not drawn on a bank, or where "check number" is not a number, or where "amount" is a poem or a drawing.
Mark Bernstein, The Tinderbox Way, 43.
This blog is made with Tinderbox. The book is more than useful in figuring out how to use a software program. It helps find useful ways to think about all the information we seem to have been put here to herd. I wish there weren't so many typos, but I love the calm reassuring voice, and the examples are — well, exemplary.

10 February 2007

Of Love and Other Disasters

Of Love and Other Disasters

The punch-press operator from Flint
met the assembler from West Virginia
in a bar near the stadium. Neither
had anything in mind, so they conversed
about the upcoming baseball season
about which neither cared. We could
be a couple, he thought, but she was
all wrong, way too skinny. For years
he'd had an image of the way a woman
should look, and it wasn't her, it wasn't
anyone he'd ever known, certainly not
his ex-wife, who'd moved back south
to live with her high school sweetheart.
About killed him. I don't need that shit,
he almost said aloud, and then realized
she'd been talking to someone, maybe
to him, about how she couldn't get
her hands right, how the grease ate
so deeply into her skin it became
a part of her, and she put her hand,
palm up, on the bar and pointed
with her cigarette at the deep lines
the work had carved. "The life line,"
he said," which one is that?" "None,"
she said, and he noticed that her eyes
were hazel flecked with tiny spots
of gold, and then — embarrassed — looked
back at her hand, which seemed tiny
and delicate, the fingers yellowed
with calluses but slender and fine.
She took a paper napkin off the bar,
spit on it and told him to hold still
while she carefully lifted his glasses
up on his forehead, leaving him half
blind, and wiped something off
above his left cheekbone. "There,"
she said, lowering his glasses, "I
got it," and even with his glasses on
what she showed him was nothing
he could see. He thought, better
get out of here before it's too late, but
knew too late was what he wanted.
— Philip Levine, New Yorker, February 5, 2007

04 February 2007

Leaving The Road

In the evening the murky shape of another coastal city, the cluster of tall buildings vaguely askew. He thought the iron armatures had softened in the heat and then reset again to leave the buildings standing out of true. The melted window glass hung frozen down the walls like icing on a cake. They went on. In the nights sometimes now he'd wake in the black and freezing waste out of softly colored worlds of human love, the songs of birds, the sun.
— Cormac McCarthy, The Road, 229.

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate* patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes, a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
The Road, 241. Last passage. The end.
* marked with close wavy lines. from medieval Latin vermicularis, from Latin vermiculus, diminuitive of vermis, worm.

03 February 2007

The black shape of it

He got up and walked out to the road. The black shape of it running from dark to dark. Then a distand low rumble. Not thunder. You could feel it under your feet. A sound without cognate and so without description. Something imponderable shifting out there in the dark. The earth itself contracting in the cold. It did not come again. What time of year? What age the child? He walked out into the road and stood. The silence. The salitter drying from the earth. The mudstained shapes of flooded cities burned to the waterline. At a crossroads a ground set with dolmen stones where the spoken bones of oracles lay moldering. No sound but wind. What will you say? A living man spoke these lines? He sharpened a quill with his small penknife to scribe these things in sloe or lampblack? At some reckonable and entabled moment? He is coming to steal my eyes. To seal my mouth with dirt.
— Cormac McCarthy, The Road, 220.

01 February 2007

Sitting over words

Riding the W train headed for South Ferry, on the adrack above the windows:
Sitting over words
very late I have heard a kind of whispered sighing
not far
like a night wind in the pines or like the sea in the dark
the echo of every thing that has ever
been spoken
still spinning its one syllable
between the earth and silence
— W.S. Merwin, Poetry in Motion, from Migration: New and Selected Poems, 2006.