Thought Trafficking

there are books that describe all this
March 29, 2012, 4:34 am
Filed under: listening, Reading, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

The internet is abuzz with tributes tonight; both Earl Scruggs and Adrienne Rich have died. I like the banjo, but I have more to say about Rich, so I will add a selection to this, this, and this (among, I’m sure, many others).

I first read Adrienne Rich in an American Poetry class taught by Prof. Luke Carson. It certainly one of the best classes of my undergrad, and Prof. Carson would read each poem aloud before we talked about it. I still have the anthology used in that class, and I still find the notes very useful. Adrienne Rich was one of the first poets that I really struggled with, because as much as I liked some of her poems, others really frustrated me, in particular “Paula Becker to Clara Westhoff”: I felt, at the time, like she was completely denying the grief that Rilke had felt in composing his elegy for Becker. It was only this summer, reading a book of essays on female poets and ekphrasis, that I realized why some of her poems bothered me the way they did: her tendency is to appropriate a “male” way of speaking (and on occasion, of gazing) for “women”–it’s a strident voice, sometimes a confrontational one (I put those in quotes because, who knows, gender in writing is often a fluid thing). Which is also what I so enjoyed in certain poems, my favourite being “The Burning of Paper Instead of Children.” If you would like to hear it read, you can go here (it goes a little quickly, but you can hear a train in the background).

We are fortunate to have, to have had such people in our world, fortunate that they left us parts of their lives.

And then there’s this, this amazing thing.


Back so soon
March 27, 2012, 3:36 am
Filed under: listening, Reading, writing | Tags: ,

The silence of the desert is a visual thing, too. A product of the gaze that stares out and finds nothing to reflect it. There can be no silence up in the mountains, since their very contours roar. And for there to be silence, time itself has to attain a sort of horizontality; there has to be no echo of time in the future, but simply a sliding of geological strata one upon the other giving out nothing more than a fossil murmur.

Jean Baudrillard,  America

It was the sea’s vacancy that the ancients found most disturbing. Medieval Europeans also viewed the waters to the west as a void, but eventually they turned this emptiness into potentiality, first as a spiritual asset and later as material opportunity. When they finally ventured into the Atlantic in the fifth and sixth centuries they did so in search of a desert in the sea, coveting empty rather than inhabited islands. The initial motivation for voyaging was religious…”Landscape is the work of the mind,” writes Simon Schama; and desert is something we project on a place.

John R. Gillis, Islands of the Mind

“I could spend my entire life portraying such a landscape.”
September 18, 2009, 5:15 pm
Filed under: listening, living, music

The mailman is still wearing shorts, but it is coming on fall. Of course you know that; the equinox is in a few days.  The trees are breaking out in a kind of sunny yellow acne. And a bird just bounced off of the window and then skittered away and took off again, confused.

“Meanwhile, here we are, usually forgetful, occasionally aware.”

-Charles Le Gai Eaton

As if the picture of this guy wouldn’t predispose me to like his music:

At first I was wary of his voice, raspy and a little reedy. A couple of songs was enough to convince me, though.

September 14, 2009, 4:24 pm
Filed under: listening, outside | Tags: ,

This is very worthwhile, I feel:

In addition…

here we go