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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Attention Aspiring Writers

"If a writer has something to say, he should write it."

But know this--one of the central elements in the enduring appeal of Hemingway is that he conveys the impression one need have no special skills to become a writer.  Credulous readers with high ambition, beware; for where is the reader who does not entertain the thought of becoming a writer?

John Singer Sargent mural, courtesy God's Own Library.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chump's Game

M. LeClerc: "Criticism, no matter how worthless, always appears superior to its object." Or almost always. The shooting-from-the-hip attacks on successful literary figures by the subunderground writer are not launched out of malice, but rather from a sometimes desperate will to survive that is
Image courtesy Fogg Museum.
nourished, sustained, by ridicule and mockery, no matter how petty and unjustified. Established writers who are assaulted understand this, most of them, and out of noblesse oblige let it pass.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cathedral / R. Carver

This collection of stories is a series of lead weights resting on the floor of a sea of negativity, constructed according to the cardinal principle of literary minimalism: "Always leave out the primary event the reader needs to know about," which is gratifying to the mind that has given up on the concept of closure, of human happiness, of teaching by delight. He's like a Hemingway who never picked up a rifle, who played with toy soldiers instead of enduring combat, morose, despairing, grim to the last breath.

I may actually finish this book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Woodcuts of Women / Dagoberto Gilb

With steamy woodcut illustrations (the fundamental reason this collection of short stories was purchased, that plus a $4.99 remainder price for a $12 paperback {Grove, 2001}), the first story by Gilb, a Guggenheim and Whiting Foundation fellow, is puerile to the point of unbearable, but the point of interest is that on the single occasion one served as ghost writer/copy editor for a literary work, as a favor to a friend, the penname chosen for said editor (credited) was, wait for it--Dagoberto Rebop.
Image © Artemio Rodriguez, 2001. All rights under copyright reserved. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Trump's Cabinet

As cancer spreads from a single malignant cell.

Friday, December 9, 2016

American Mischief / Alan Lelchuk

A novel of boyish fantasia packaged as realism; one might as well play a video game.
Image courtesy Fogg Museum. 
Distinctly not to say bizarrely misinformative on the "dating" practices of women in Cambridge. The milieu of the People's Republic is adequately, in places carefully, observed, but the style is humdrum.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

When Bukowski Charms

      "The next day a nurse came out and got me and helped me onto a rolling platform. I was still vomiting up blood and was quite weak. She rolled me onto the elevator.
      The technician got behind his machine. They poked a point into my belly and told me to stand there. I felt very weak.
      'I'm too weak to stand up,' I said.
      'Just stand there,' said the technician.
      'I don't think I can,' I said.
      'Hold still.'
      I felt myself slowly beginning to fall over backwards.
      'I'm falling,' I said.
      'Don't fall.'
      'Hold still,' said the nurse.
      I fell over backwards. I felt as if I were made of rubber. There was no feeling when I hit the floor."

      --from The Most Beautiful Woman in Town & Other Stories

How he kept at gainful employment, of the lowest order, with the most unappealing sorts of people, for as long as he did rather than falling into a life of selling drugs or burglary or check kiting I'll never understand.

But spare me 90 to 95 percent of the poetry. Don't need the smut either, Hank being a regular contributor to the discontinued L.A. serial Open Pus*y, among other eminent journals.
 This is a writer who, when he serves decadence, makes it stink like a dead dog that's been lying in the sun for three weeks. But he has his moments, and the humor, here and there, cracks me up, I won't deny it.

Photo © 1980 Pete Rozycki. All rights under copyright reserved.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

No Reply!

Dear Remnick,

I am waiting patiently for it to dawn on your copy editor that the appropriate method for your magazine to deal with the near-ubiquity of gutter language throughout contemporary culture and written discourse is to use the * to show that The New Yorker has some sensitivity to the fact that there was a time when profanity was perhaps the arch symbol of gauche people and that there is no obligation to let that time go down the drain. Yes, a word of profanity with an asterisk (F*ck that!) is an artificiality, a pointless disguise, a sign of being uptight and out of touch with today’s world and the relentless evolution of the English language, a mark of repression, a violation of the First Amendment, and on and on, etc., etc., etc., but you know what? It is the only reasonable way to prevent the soiling of children who read this magazine, (a publication that in almost every other way is the best there is, in my opinion), and the irritation of geezers who believe words should be chosen with care, that decorum and delicacy are not reprehensible, that one should not walk into someone’s living room with sh*t on one’s shoes, or one’s tongue.

Or at least use the asterisk in every other issue, or every other story, or once in a blue moon if that’s all that can be managed, anything countervailing would be welcome. What is gained by abject and total surrender to the current vogue of giving Joe Sixpack language, dive bar language, prison language, complete access to the printing press? Shouldn’t some resistance be shown, some objection? Words matter, no? Obscenity in a novel is no problem; but in a magazine representing the zenith of American culture? You are condoning the free use of obscenities in the midst of refined and important thinking, and the thought of this grates. I’m probably the six thousandth person to write to you about this and have a sunken feeling I am not going to accomplish anything by sending you this letter, but I look forward, at least, to hearing your response, or someone’s there. All the budding Burroughs out there should not be allowed to dominate, to lead the way, to set the tone. 

Separately, I sometimes feel a law should be passed to prohibit the cartoons—they are so potent a form of communication they almost put the articles to shame, often conveying more in one glance, one instant, than a writer does in half an hour, or longer. It’s not fair! But were the cartoons to disappear, life would no longer be worth living, so forget I mentioned it.

Keep up the good work!

With kind regards,

Mr. David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker

1 World Trade Center, New York NY 10007


NO REPLY, (naturally)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"Hilarious" Authors in Focus

Over and over and over and over again, and again, book reviewers tell us such-and-such a title by Author Whoever is "hilarious." Over and over. Apparently the world is crawling with hilarious writers. I'm weary of it. I'm weary of reading this adjective over and over and over again. As even the stone-cold dead-serious-stupid know, humor is a primary means by which depressives cope with their intolerable lives. So the next time you read a puff-quote about an author's "hilarity," remember--often, they're miserable people. So you are not required to feel inadequate when comparing yourself to them, as you will unavoidably do, saying to yourself, "Where's the hilarity in my writing? Where's the hilarity in my life?" Hilarity has an underside, and you can live without it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TV Every Night?

When Johnny Carson visited H.U. in the l970s, he was conducted to the office of an elderly academic with whom one happened to have a passing acquaintance. The acquaintance, according to a media report, didn't know who Johnny was.

Johnny wasn't happy.

God's Gift to the Cursive Writer

The gel pen.

Heaven comes to earth.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Bleeding Edge / Pynchon

Okay, what level of enlightenment and entertainment can we gain from a third person narrator who appears to know the generic and tradenames of every material object on the face of the earth (and isn't afraid to let it show--can anyone spell "conspicuous cognition"?), including the esoteric intricacies of the web, the Deep Web, and all associated programs, hardware, and tentacles, as well how to build, connect, sell, and abuse the components; regards American slang as precious unto priceless; knows the venture capital, surveillance, Manhattan bicycle-delivery industries inside and out; has deep familiarity with all walks of life and the totality of legal and illegal business enterprise in New York City as a whole (and parts of Jersey); enjoys giving characters anti-realistic names and organizations goofy ones (e.g., In & Out Travel Agency); places emphasis on maintaining a suspenseful plot. We've encountered this package before. What does it all add up to? Mighty wisdom? Crucial revelations about our "times"? Perhaps.

This is a story told by a brainiac (think Samuel L. Jackson's line to Vincent Vega in that early scene in Pulp Fiction where the two of them visit the twenty-somethings--"Look at the brain on William here!"). Bit on the cool side touching human emotion. But it's fun, there's no denying it.

Woden's day, August 3, 2016 @ 4:55 PM

Now when an author/narrator, whatever, is clearly working hard, or effortlessly, whatever, to give the impression s/he knows everything there is to know not only about the stylistic twirls/themes/characters/plot/etc. of the novel in hand, but the world in general, including any number of useless foreign languages, whether from innate genius or exhaustive, mind-numbing research in specialty libraries or out-of-control intellectual curiosity, whatever, in an effort not so much to impress the reader but to establish their authority as, if this term can be used, storyteller, this can boomerang because it is a given there are readers for whom this tactic is def a springloaded mockery trigger. The Egghead Resistance Front will tear a narrator like this to pieces, in no time, with the joy of a pack of wild dogs attacking a haystack-size pile of t-bone steaks. Mighty Sir Pynchon places an enormous bet on specificity. It matters to him--no need to say this is a pathological compulsion--to give the precise specific technical specialist's term for every material object in his fictional "world" and he did not start doing this yesterday.

Some readers will be impressed. Others will feel inadequate, uncomfortable, vow to become more knowledgeable. Others will cry "pretentious!" Others will yawn, start to skim.

Moon day, August 29, 2016 @ 4:24 PM

On the plus side of the ledger, our incomparable literary titan, in teaching us the name of every other material object and business activity on the face of the earth, displays a zest for the world, and for his work, that is contagious and energizing. He is in no way bored or depressed, and someone like that is good to be around. He puts a spirit of fun in the air with all the slang. Must be a guy who likes to party, maybe, who knows?, his longtime and strict, not to say paranoid, avoidance of the public eye, or congenital shyness (?), or calculated self-sequestering in the interest of enfolding himself in "glamour" à la your run of the mill movie star, leaving us in doubt as to what's up with him, like Salinger, and Shakespeare, a.k.a. the Ninth (?) Earl of Oxford, maybe, who knows?

On the negative side of the ledger, the relentless lust of our Massive Artistic Intellect to know all there is to know, the schoolboy yearning for omniscience, puts a certain inhuman cerebral something in the air one can't seem to put a word to at the moment. Artificiality? Unreality? Coldness? I mean who walks around silently naming virtually everything they see, or even knowing the names?  The reader experiences a stylized reality, not the reality she lives in; which is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.

Though I actually think I'm going to finish this novel, it's the fun factor, I can't deny it.

Thor's day, September 1, 2016 @ 9:25 AM

And the sexual encounter between protag Maxine, a disbarred Manhattan fraud investigator and mother of two (or three?), and minor character Windust on the floor of a slum apartment near Hell's Kitchen, with wild dogs in the basement that roam the building's halls at night, is wholly lacking in eroticism, except for Maxine's squeak at the end, which typifies Pynchon's lack of humanity, so I think I'm actually going to drop this thing, it's mass confusion, more characters than one can keep track of without taking notes, subplots metastazing to all points of the compass, the cold and repugnant atmosphere of compulsive rationality, rationality out of control, in which human feeling suffocates as if wombed in a cloud of nerve gas. Basta. It was fun for a while, but I've had enough.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donnie's Central Flaw

Not to oversimplify, but it seems the endless commentary on D. Trumpet, all the TV profiles (which one has not watched) and exhaustive cover stories in the news weeklies and all the NPR broadcasts analyzing his political views and the adequacy of his psyche, may be summed up in two words:

He's stupid.

To have acquired skills in making money, duping acquaintances, and manipulating mainstream media is not proof of intelligence. It is proof of being one of the most common types in "successful" America--a hustler embracing superficial values with death-grip intensity.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Touching Trump, the worst aspect of the heavy media coverage he has received due to his circus-performer remarks is that a grotesquely unqualified and dangerous candidate, one one can't help but suspect is a "plant" put into the race by the Clinton machine, is that a candidate with no political experience, not to say a freak, has been normalized. Journalists now discuss him as a bona fide candidate worthy of reflective analysis, a politician who deserves to be taken seriously. Witnessing coverage of this nature is shocking, surreal, sad.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Holding a Grudge?

As to yesterday's inconceivable tragegdy in Nice, France--

Is the ongoing attack on the West by Islamofascist terrorists the result of a grudge that goes as far back as the Crusades? Are they driven by, at the core, a thirst for revenge?

How to deal with an enemy possessed by extreme mental illness and living in chronic homicidal frenzy? When one's antagonist is foaming at the mouth and slaughtering non-combatants, how can there by any thought but extermination, which of course, in the long run, will guarantee the problem will never be solved, because what hawks will probably call "justifiable genocide" or some such thing, will only deepen the thirst for revenge?

A problem with no solution? One desperately hopes not, with God as one's witness.

Saturday, July 16, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

As to this past Thursday night's terrorist tragedy in Nice, France, today's Times reports:

[T]he Islamic State had featured its claim of responsibility 
in a news bulletin on its radio station, Al Bayan, and ...  
“threatened that ‘crusader states’ are not safe.” The claim 
must be greeted with caution. The Islamic State has at times 
asserted responsibility for attacks carried out in its name, 
even when there was no indication that the terrorist 
network had any direct role in planning or carrying out the 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Mind Boggles

Shakespeare became so many different characters, from all levels of society and at all points on the intelligence continuum, that it is next to impossible to imagine what he was to himself, who he was. Dear God are we all lucky that, in Walter Becker's words, this near-random universe saw fit to create him, or allow him to arrive here on terra infirma, or however one says what happens when a true genius reveals himself or herself among us. All praise and respect to the Unknown! And to William Shakespeare!, whose like we have not seen since, and probably never will.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dungeons & Dollars

Reading Jane Mayer's Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, I think the Koch brothers who are running the business enterprise need to ask themselves whether they belong in jail for manslaughter, or perhaps capital murder, for the environmental pollution they have inflicted on citizens of the U$A. And while "we" are in the political sector--Bernie's campaign has been beneficial to the country, but by endorsing Hillary today he has revealed that he is perhaps too old to be a true revolutionary. Revolutionaries do not compromise. As a young man said to the UN in the fifties, or sixties: "Patria ou morte." Yet all honor and respect to the man, he has a heart, a characteristic all too uncommon in the U$ political arena.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Dalkey Archive / F. O'Brien

The only thing I liked about this incomprehensibly venerated comic novel, which I slogged through only to the midpoint, was the dedication, an all time classic:

To my guardian angel. 

(And a not insignificant publishing house adopts this title as its name? I'm going to need to have someone explain that to me.)

You wanta laugh aloud over a novel, try Bukowski's (scabrous) Factotum, or Waugh's (more refined) Scoop or Sorrentino's (tragicomic) Red the Fiend or Th. Berhard's (insane!) Old Masters.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday, July 4, 2016

Chump's Game

All that criticism and high-toned theorizing turned out by Shakespeare and Kafka and Hemingway and Faulkner--why did they bother with their works? Dear God, all the lives wasted by taking the highroad when the low road was right there ....

Of Dullness, Confusion and Rousseau

What's needed for Of Grammatology is a guidebook like Catalano's superb work on Being &  Nothingness. Deconstruction is hard enough to understand but when it is presented in a manner that is indifferent to fundamental principles of expository writing it becomes a tar pit, and if that's the point, that he wants us to experience textual futility and the death of reason and all the other sacred principles of his "ground-breaking" and "heuristic" and "indispensable" philosophy, let him exhibit the courage of withdrawing it from publication, or burying it in an unmarked grave in the first place, and perhaps crawling in with it, though one isn't about to demand it, live and let live, but the book should be buried, or rewritten in a manner that shows some respect for the reader. Cf. M.LeClerc: "The fundamental requirement for the philosopher is a capacity to absorb virtually unlimited quantities of dull writing."

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Television as the Annihilation of Social Justice

Corporate media get away with continuously broadcasting one-sided information and debasing the concept of journalism as the conscience of a nation due to the demonic magnetism of television and the ease with which the average person becomes bewitched by it and permanently addicted.

Kill your television, as the saying goes. Sure, one is going to ache for the loss of Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece, Democracy Now, local community television, l940s films, but long-term benefits outweigh the losses, because nothing is more important for America as a whole than social justice.

What does one do instead after a hard day's work? Rest. Read. Engage in conversation. And be liberated from daily manipulation of one's mind by capitalists determined to imprison one. And then there's this thing I've heard about called the internet . . . apparently it is not (yet) opposed to honesty and balance and free thinking and diverse cultural and political viewpoints, the only problem being it allows the NSA to count every breath one takes and every shift of one's eyes, along with continuous monitoring of one's heart rate, dreams, and long-term plans.

Sports can be watched in sports bars and movies downtown.

If a television is anywhere in the house, including the basement or attic, in time it will entrap the people who live there.

One of the most powerful forces in human history? Teevee. There are people of acute intelligence and considerable experience of the world, who have achieved mighty deeds, who believe they cannot live without television and are wholly blind to the significance of what it means to pick up that remote and press that rubbery button.


As Bernie Sanders noticed some thirty years ago, American society needs to be dismantled in an orderly fashion and reconstructed according to the principles of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, i.e., on a foundation of social justice and rationality.

We can do better than the prevailing social modality of cruelty, irrationality and self-destructiveness.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cars & Garages On Her Mind

Touching Camille Paglia's Sexual Personalities: Is she fascinated by sex, preoccupied by it, or obsessed? This is a work of criticism that finds untold layers of meaning in the ancient game of cars and garages. She speculates about the extent to which the thinking of men and women is shaped (controlled?) by their profound anatomical differences; the relationship of women to slime, ooze, and the chemical that accounts for the smell of rotting fish and her historic dominance, in various areas, of man (woman "flees in order to dominate," ... "Male power can never surpass female power."); art as the product of an unending conflict between healthy sexual exhilaration and disgusting sexual cruelty ("Sex is poetry, poetry is sex"), Apollonian restraint and Dionysian insanity, joy and sadomasochism,  comedy and Sadean cruelty, kindness and rape, culture and what she sees as the morally indefensible world of Nature (despite the fact that Nature feeds us and provides the materials we rely on for clothing and shelter), hermaphroditism/homosexuality and nymphomania/satyrism. She gravitates to taboo subjects, writes in short sentences on whose abrupt periods one is constantly stubbing one's toe and tripping, loves the word "chthonian."

Slightly shocking, illuminating reading that goes deep into the forbidden.

She recommends reading Sade. ("He must be confronted, in all his ugliness.") Must? Really? Can anyone here spell fascist? Cf. Kandinsky supra: "There are no 'musts' in art.")

Her interpretation of Blake's lyric "Infant Joy," is subtle and momentarily interesting in its shock value, but the license, the cynicism, the demonic Negativity of her viewpoint propels it deep into the realm of the laughably academic.

She views nature as a cage of horrors from which there is no escaping and sex as a bottomless pit of intractable problems. In discussing women, she gives careful attention to transvestites, lesbians, and vampires. As of the halfway point, there has been little if any mention of women as bona fide nurturers worthy of respect and admiration, and next to none of the aesthetic magnificence nature can exhibit. Rousseau and Wordsworth are scorned as ingenuous nature lovers who cannot see the full meaning of what is before their eyes. But there exist in the world cloud formations so beautiful they are beyond comprehension and flowers that are salve to the wounded! One senses an effort by Paglia to attract attention by deliberately presenting her ideas in a one-sided extremism custom-designed to shock the general reader.

One does go on reading though.

November 29, 2016 @ 1:36 PM

As to her view of the hideousness of Nature, consider this promotional copy for M. McCarthy's nonfiction work The Moth Snowstorm: Nature & Joy: "Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide--feelings stemming ultimately from our own unbreakable links to nature, which mean that we cannot be fully human if we are separate from it."

July 14, 2016 @ 12:17 PM

She sees the Western literary and visual arts canons as permeated, as to content, by androgyny and hermaphroditism. Sexual pathology or ultimate freedom? Profoundly revelatory or flat-out creepy?

One of the interesting claims she makes is that no one spoke the way Shakespeare wrote. I guess one sensed that, but to see it spelled out on a page brought it into focus in a way one will not forget.

July 22, 2016 @ 10:33 AM

She presents the case that the Western literary canon drips with erotic eccentricity, or erotic liberation, or erotic pathology, citing any number of bizarre sexual escapades in major texts. As of p. 468 one is becoming weary of the repetitiveness of the theme, which she pursues with unrelenting single-mindedness.

July 26, 2016 @ 7:22 AM

She has a taste for making grandiose and "glamorous" generalizations, somewhere early on (where? well somewhere!) saying something to the effect: "There are no non-exploitative relationships in male-female relations in the West." Cynics' delight!

Saturday, July 30, 2016 @ 7:54 AM

Sex sex sex, this author never lets up: women are portrayed as spongy erotic predators and cold-blooded tyrants driven by the chthonian (i.e., the animalistic underworld of the id; pron. "THO-nian"), men as willing sadomasochistic slaves, writers as solitary and often incestuous hermaphrodites, nature as a torture festival.

I wanta go outside and have a catch with the football!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Down With Intellectual Filth

N.O. Ting: "So-called 'language poets' (could there be a more redundant brainless f*ucked up name for a gaggle of self-adoring circle-jerking poets?) are determined to add to the incomprehensibility of the world, no matter how many people they demoralize, not to say disgust, with their intellectual filth--f*ck that.)"

Work Ethic Woes

As to these laboriously long novels that keep being churned out--Mason & Dixon, Europe Central, Letters, Women & Men, Infinite Jest--etc., etc., one isn't saying they are worthless, but one does need to point out they are symptomatic of the out of control work ethic of capitalism, which is responsible for a vast amount of harm across the globe, substituting endless compulsive unexamined busy-ness for reflective thinking. N.O. Ting: "And let's not let Moby Dick off the hook either. Go ahead, arrest me, I could give a f*ck."

I mean look at Hamlet. No longer than a couple chapters in one of these doorstops, readable in next to no time, comparatively, and it stays in one's thoughts for a lifetime. Why can't people see this? What's wrong with something like Moody's Hotels of North America or Bukowski's Factotum or Chambers' Delta 88 or Robbe-Grillet's Djinn? Are these literary crimes because they do not weight eight lbs. each? Because they are pure pleasure and do not make one feel like Sisyphus? Because they are as graceful and light as a ballet dancer sailing through the air?

Friday, June 17, 2016

W. Burroughs

William Burroughs--The human mind as a bubbling cesspool with the laugh of a jackass.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Night at the Movies / R. Coover

Wonderful technique. Wonderful, wonderful.  Clever, original, entertaining, etc., etc., etc., every sentence densely packed with wonder and blinking neon words, etc., etc. But what's this Coover's soul like? Hunh? What's he all about? Of course, as a card-carrying post-postmodernist (American Academy & Institute of Arts & Love Letters) he wants us to know that reality is a wonderful blend of chaos and chance and meaninglessness, oh and inconclusiveness too, of course, no question, this is what the contemporary writer is obligated to convey, it's in the contract, it's not discretionary (lovely quote from a British critic, one Peter Sheridan: "Salvador Dali has dreams like this"); oh, and the movie industry is all nonsense and formulas and inane repetitiveness, intellectually worthless down to the last ticket stub, everything "wacky" and "wickedly funny" and so on ... but there is a coldness at work here, an arctic Negativity on which the (Linden/Dalkey) 1987 novel (subtitled You Must Remember This) floats, we're drifting on an ice floe. One has read perhaps thirty pages; with reading as with living, one may or may not keep moving forward, all that one asks being that one not be compelled to learn something.

Woden's day, August 17, 2016 @ 9:22 AM

With its vast profusion of "plots," multiplying with cancer-like abandon, and incidents and set pieces, this novel seems to suggest plotting is an effortless enterprise driven by random whims and lacking in enduring importance.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Couple Copyright Violations

Remarkable the range of concepts, emotions, philosophies and whatnot music can handle, from the refined and crystalline-angelsbreath-delicate to the piledriver-driven ideologies of the underclasses and the compulsively mindlessly rebellious anti-culturalists.

Let's listen to an example of the first, comprising exquisite word play, non-irritating rhymes, emotions of dear nostalgia and innocence lost, from The Fantasticks, © Tom Jones, Harvey Schmidt, 1960[?]:

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain so yellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a young and a callow fellow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow--follow, oh-oh
Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow
Try to remember when life was so tender
That love was an ember about to billow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow-follow, oh-oh
Deep in December it's nice to remember
Although you know the snow will follow
Deep in December it's nice to remember
Without a hurt, the heart is hollow
Deep in December it's nice to remember
The fire of September that made you mellow
Deep in December our hearts should remember
Then follow . . . .

For a wonderful article about the magnificent musical for which this song was written, see

Then there's Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name": you, I won't do what you tell me. you, I wont do what you tell me. you, I wont do what you tell me. you, I wont do what you tell me. you, I won't do what you tell me. you, I won't do what you tell me. you, I won't do what you tell me.
MOTHERF.CKER !!!! ... UNH ... UNH ... UH!! ....

(Yes, I counted, with a tally sheet.)

Now would this be what's known among insufferable snobs as a "binary opposition"? (Cf. Marcel: "The one sin for which there is no forgiveness--snobbery.")  I think it would be. Is music elastic? I believe it is. Is this a good or a bad thing?

Is there a point in asking? Why? If something exists, it's incomprehensible, sat verbum.


Never much cared for this legendary poet's poet. When I think of his work I think of a cold wind blowing. He's written some incontestably great lines ("Into the valley of death rode the five hundred ... If music be the food of love, play on ... Come to the window, cool is the night air ... I am tired of tears and laughter / And men that laugh and weep ... April is the cruelest month ... etc., etc.) but I can't recall a single occasion when he made me laugh. Now perhaps laughter is not the sort of thing one should ask for from poetry, but there are any number of poets in Exquisite Corpse that have cracked me up over the years, in particular the immortal and late lamented Jim Gustafson, RIP. Even Andrei (who has regrettably lost his taste for my work, sigh) is funny at times. I liked very much Yeats' final poem, in which an aging speaker views a young woman and pines for being young (and presumably potent) again, and I liked Ferlinghetti's take on "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" ("I will arise and go now, / And go where Beer-is-Free ...."), even bought a paperback of his collected (black cover with that photo of his oh-so-serious face), and his command of meter and language is princely, but at the end of the day he's just not my guy, I feel no affection for him, no brotherhood, as one does with Salinger or Proust or Bukowski, despite his legions of worshippers.

Yet the world keeps turning.