One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Something I Picked up at the Beach This Morning

Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957)

Bibi Andersson is Mia.

Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957)

Started watching today. Bengt Ekerot is Death.

"Land's End" by Weldon Kees

From the preface, written in 1960, by Donald Justice:
  The poetry of Kees makes its deepest impression when read as a body of work rather than a collection of isolated moments of brilliance. This may account in part for the neglect from which it has suffered. Though a number of the poems are brilliant and many are moving, no single poem perhaps is flawless.
IMHO, perhaps especially in the realm of poetry, flawless can only be a subjective term. That said, here comes a shorter one (these days my preferred length) that is nearly so:


A day all blue and white, and we
Came out of woods to sand
And snow-capped waves. The sea
Rose with us as we walked, the land
Built dunes, a lighthouse, and a sky of gulls.

Here where I built my life ten years ago,
The day breaks gray and cold;
And brown surf, muddying the shore,
Deposits fish-heads, sewage, rusted tin.
Children and men break bottles on the stones.
Beyond the lighthouse, black against the sky,
Two gulls are circling where the woods begin.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Weldon Kees (New Yorker)

In reading his The Last Man I couldn't help hearing (over and over again) T. S. Eliot. This debt--and much more--is discussed in Anthony Lane's New Yorker article, "The Disappearing Poet."

Other interesting documents/criticism re Kees can be found here.

Started on Another "Last Man": Weldon Kees

Didn't know his name at all a few years ago (still don't really know much about his work). Certainly didn't know--until fairly recently and after my book had been "tagged"--that his first published book was titled The Last Man.

Will let you know more when I know more, but for now here's a pretty good one mentioned in the intro by David Wojahn:


The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking. Across the lots
A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.

An orange moon. I see the lives
Of neighbors, mapped and marred
Like all the wars ahead, and R.
Insane, B. with his throat cut,
Fifteen years from now, in Omaha.

I did not know them then.
My airedale scratches at the door.
And I am back from seeing Milton Sills
And Doris Kenyon. Twelve years old.
The porchlight coming on again.

Ewa Lipska's "Envoy"

Finished her The New Century. It was a little disappointing, but I'll eventually give it another go round. IMHO (and what is that) she should follow Szymborska's example and publish less. I can certainly understand the diarrheal impulse, but some excrement shines and some is more or less Shinola.

I could hang up a poem from this volume, but I'd rather not. Instead I'll hang up a little ditty which I found on the Net. And I really like it.

To write so that a beggar
would take it for money.
And the dying
would take it for birth.
[Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Fox Belmont Theater (2nd Street, Long Beach)

Not sure exactly when it was converted, but this theater is now the Belmont Athletic Club.


Fox Belmont Pictures, Images and Photos 

Circa 1970 (based on what's playing: The Music Lovers)

Circa 1939 (based on what's playing: Sergeant Madden)
[Photo obtained from "William" on Cinema Treasures:]

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More on Albertus Pictor

Albertus Pictor = Albert the Painter

Albertus Pictor (English, "Albert the Painter"; b. Immenhusen, c. 1440 - d. c. 1507), also called Albert Pictor, Albert Målare and Albrekt Pärlstickare (Swedish), is the most famous late medieval Swedish painter, known for his wallpaintings surviving in numerous churches in southern and central Sweden.


Albertus was originally called Albertus Immenhusen, after the German town of Immenhausen in Hessen of which he was a native. He occurs in Swedish historical sources from 1465, when he was admitted a burgher of Arboga. Eight years later he moved to Stockholm, where, in accordance with current practice, he took over the workshop as well as the widow of a deceased painter.

He was a versatile and prolific artist, known to his contemporaries not only for his church wallpaintings, but also as an organist and embroiderer (hence his nickname of Pärlstickare, "Pearl-embroiderer"). More than thirty of his schemes, mostly in a secco technique, are extant, many in the Lake Mälaren region, about a third of which bear his signature. Notable examples include wallpaintings at Bromma kyrka, near Stockholm, Lid kyrka, in Södermanland and Täby Kyrkby kyrka in Täby. Part of his life and work are depicted in the illustrated book, "Albert målare och sommaren i Härkeberga" ("Albert the Painter and the summer in Härkeberga"), which describes his painting of the small church of Härkeberga in Uppland (see below).

Celebrations for the quincentenary of his death were arranged for 2009.

[From Wikipedia:]

Albertus Pictor

Albertus Pictor by Hans Olind
Albertus Pictor, a photo by Hans Olind on Flickr.
The "supposed" inspiration for Bergman's chess match. This painting is in the Taby Church in Sweden.

"The Seventh Seal": Playing Chess with Death

Usually try to watch a couple "art films" while I'm on summer break. Have been thinking of watching this one again (other options include Bertolucci, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Kieslowski). The copy I have also has a wonderful interview with Bergman on his island.

Anyway, though it is something of a cliche now, this image is still very powerful (IMHO).

Seventh Seal Pictures, Images and Photos 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Agnes Nemes Nagy's "Concerning God"

Apparently a late work. An illness is in view. Very Jobian (IMHO). Stylistically, perhaps my favorite in The Night of Akhenaton.


Concerning God
The gravest of our deficiency-induced diseases

Admit it, Lord, this just won't do. This manner of creation simply will not do. To deposit this brittle eggshell of a world in the solar system, the brittle eggshell of life on earth, and then, to top it all, as if administering a mysterious mode of punishment, to grant it consciousness. This is both too little and too much. This is to lose all sense of proportion, Lord.

Why expect us to cram an entire universe into toy skulls two human hands can compass? Or will you do with us as you do with acorns which you cram with entire oaks?

I wouldn't use a dog as you use me.

Your existence is not so much a scientific as a moral absurdity. To postulate your existence as the creator of such a world is itself an act of blasphemy.

            You might at least have refrained from baiting the trap with so many delights. No one forced you to make clouds, or gratitude, or to crown the autumnal acacia with a head of gold. No one asked for the slender, greenish, sweeter-than-sweet taste of being. That sweet-limed twig of yours, Lord -- horrible!

Do you know what it's like to feel your blood-sugar sinking? Do you know what that faint small patch of leukoplakia is like when it grows? Do you know what fear is? Or bodily pain? Or disgrace? Can you tell how much electricity a murderer discharges?

Have you swum in a river? Eaten a crab-apple? Have you handled calipers, bricks, small slips of paper? Do you have fingernails? To scratch the living trees with, to carve nonsense on peeling plane trees with, while

above you the afternoon stretches ahead, on and on into the distance? Do you have an up there? Is there anything above you?

What did I say? Nothing.

Christopher Columbus: Secretly Jewish?

Christopher Columbus: Secretly Jewish?

Who is Cide Hamete Benengeli?

Simple answer: the fictitious Arab author created by Cervantes. Cervantes claims the Arab writer's manuscript is the source of the "history" of Don Quixote.

More complicated answer: see "Cide Hamete Benengeli vs. Miguel de Cervantes: The Metafictional Dialectic of Don Quijote" by Howard Mancing:

Quixote's Favorite Writer: Feliciano de Silva

According to the consort "notes": Notorious hack (1492? - 1558?), who wrote various romances of chivalry.

Wikipedia is kinder but pretty much agrees:


Anyway, Cervantes makes him Quixote's fave and mocks his style:
The reason for the unreason to which my reason is subjected, so weakens my reason that I have reason to complain of your beauty

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Alaska Hit By 'Unprecedented' Tsunami Debris

Alaska Hit By 'Unprecedented' Tsunami Debris

Tilting at Windmills

Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies. The word “tilt”, in this context, comes from jousting.

The phrase is sometimes used to describe confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.


The phrase derives from an episode in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In the novel, Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants. Quixote sees the windmill blades as the giant's arms, for instance. A relevant portion of the novel states:
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless." 
"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza. 
"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length." 
"Take care, sir," cried Sancho. "Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone." 
—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote's success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.
[From Wikipedia:]

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar Eclipse 2012 (Long Beach, CA)

As filtered through colander, grater, or overhead trees. Various "canvases" are: white posterboard, gunmetal gray siding, offwhite interior wall. Best I could do with the equipment I had.

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

2012.05.20, solar eclipse 2012

Shakespeare & Co. (My Version)

My version dates to my honeymoon (1994). 

If I have other and later "versions," I wasn't able to easily dig them up.

2012.05.20, shakespeare and co

Shakespeare & Co. (1994)

Shakespeare & Co Antiquarian Books

I was here years ago (on my honeymoon and then later by myself). Very close to Notre Dame. Not sure if I photographed it (I'm on my way to look). I remember buying a cheap copy of something by Jean Genet (I wasn't real impressed). I don't believe I knew then of the Sylvia Beach connection.

F Scott Fitzgerald Draws James Joyce, et al

Looks like F Scott Fitzgerald was something of a closet artist. A friend pointed this drawing out to me some while ago (he's a real big fan of  FSF). FSF is bowing before a literary god: James Joyce. I believe the mermaid on the left is Sylvia Beach (of Shakespeare & Co. fame).  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Madrid - Don Quixote

Madrid - Don Quixote by okbends
Madrid - Don Quixote, a photo by okbends on Flickr.
I was in Madrid--years ago. Didn't see this (didn't think to look). We had come from Tangier and were on a train all night (I was traveling alone but I "hooked up" with two others--Japanese and Greek--also getting off in Madrid). We had agreed to go to a bullfight, but after the Prado things got tangled. Anyway, I skipped the bullfight and got on a train to Paris. Oh, well.

Agnes Nemes Nagy

nemes_nagy_agnes_kozepkoru by kosatibor
nemes_nagy_agnes_kozepkoru, a photo by kosatibor on Flickr.

What I'm up to: No Good

  • End of a semester (feels like I was punched in one lung) 
  • Reading: Finished Holderlin's letters (wanted to linger there; will save the essays for another day); Agnes Nemes Nagy's The Night of  Akhenaton (told to read her long ago); Cervante's Don Quixote (it's been on my to-read list for some while)
  • I think I'll go for a walk

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Speaking of Tunnels

Switzerland is tunnel heaven (it's not just a land of cheese and chocolate). Of course, as I was driving, I didn't get too many good pictures of tunnels. Here's a couple shots of the tunnel we took from Italy back into Switzerland, landing in Brig.

Can't really see the tunnel but we're waiting in line.

We're on the "car train" and the tunnel's up ahead.

Tubingen Bike/Pedestrian Tunnel

snail. by ch i r i bir i be l a
snail., a photo by ch i r i bir i be l a on Flickr.
Another perspective (again: not mine). I guess at least two people other than myself thought this tunnel interesting. We were racing to Holderlin's tower--and we had to get back to the car before the meter ran out. A beautiful spring morning. Only wish we could've stayed longer. We were on our way to Zurich.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lines (Tubingen Bike/Pedestrian Tunnel)

Lines by chrys
Lines, a photo by chrys on Flickr.
Not my photo. Didn't think to take one. But I was thinking of this today, about how it'd be a bit spooky at night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Sure enough: the etymology is Welsh. These Pennsylvania towns (eventually merged) were named after two places--Bala & Cynwyd--in Wales.

Apparently they lie in the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania (just outside Philly) and were founded by Welsh Quakers (1680s).

Learn something everyday.


Anna Jarvis Birthplace Marker

I love that placename: Bala-Cynwyd. Reminds me a bit of something you'd see in Wales. Anyway, here's to Anna Jarvis. Letters are better than Hallmarks.

Anna Jarvis: Mother's Day Founder in U.S.

Anna Marie Jarvis (May 1, 1864, Webster, West Virginia – November 24, 1948, West Chester, Pennsylvania) is the founder of the Mother's Day holiday in the United States.

Anna Jarvis was born in the tiny town of Webster, West Virginia. Her birthplace, known as the Anna Jarvis House, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[1] She was the daughter of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. The family moved to nearby Grafton, West Virginia in her childhood. She graduated from what is now Mary Baldwin College in 1883.

Anna's mother Ann Jarvis had founded Mothers' Day Work Clubs in five cities to improve sanitary and health conditions. The Mothers' Day Work Clubs also treated wounds, fed, and clothed both Union and Confederate soldiers with neutrality.

On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna held a memorial to her mother and thereafter embarked upon a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday. She succeeded in making this nationally recognized in 1914. The International Mother's Day Shrine was established in Grafton to commemorate her accomplishment.[2]

By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis had become soured by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association, trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and was once arrested for disturbing the peace. She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. Both died in poverty. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said,
A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.
—Anna Jarvis.[3][4]
Anna Marie Jarvis never married and had no children. She died in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and was buried at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

[From Wikipedia:]

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hofmannsthal's "An Incident in the Life of Marshall de Bassompierre"

IMHO, other than Ein Brief, perhaps the best story in the slender NYRB selection. Apparently it's connected to Goethe's Conversations of German Refugees in a big way.

From Joel Rothenberg's A NOTE ON THE SELECTION:

"An Incident in the Life of Marshall de Bassompierre" incorporates material from Goethe's Conversations of German Refugees (1795). Hofmannsthal's failure to include an attribution in his story as first published in 1900 attracted some unfavorable notice at the time. Karl Kraus had this to say about the controversy: "What ignorant persons are calling plagiarism here is actually quotation."

*If I can locate the related Goethe text I will post it.

From Holderlin's Letters

Just a few bullets:

  • there is nothing more than these four walls
  • Everything is interconnected, and suffers as soon as it is active, including the purest thought a human being can have
  • Kant is the Moses of our nation, leading it out of Egyptian lethargy into the open
  • But the scribes and Pharisees of our time, who have made out of the dear holy Bible a cold prattle that kills heart and spirit, I certainly don't want them as witnesses of my intense, living faith
  • Every day I have to invoke the absent god again
  • like a poor glimmering lamp that would dearly beg a drop of oil to shine into the night a bit longer

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Colorado Lagoon & Fence Art

Have wanted to walk down and get some photos of the art (kids' art) on the green fence skirting the Colorado Lagoon (as far as I know: there's a dredging project going on that may last till the end of summer). Thought it might brighten up things "around here" a bit.

So, I dragged the fat pug with me and we took a few photos before continuing our walk around the lagoon and golf course. Even found a good golfball which I've added to my collection.

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

2012.05.06, 2012.05.06

Holderlin on Education

At least in his early years Holderlin is making a living as a tutor. I believe (I've not read a full biography, so I'm garnering it from his letters): a live-in tutor.

Thus some fragmentary thoughts on education (at least in this letter he is interacting with Rousseau pretty much throughout):
  • I must waken his humanity
  • But Rousseau is wrong in patiently waiting for humanity to awaken in the child
  • But I would never ask the child whether he had remembered what had been said, for the point is not history itself but its influence on the heart
  • So long as geography is not, as it usually is, reduced to something dead and papery; so long as the maps are enlivened with suitably adapted travel accounts
  • If the child can come to notice day by day that arithmetic is part and parcel of many useful activities he will very likely take pleasure in doing it
  • To teach a child a language systematically will be very difficult if it is to occur before the child is even capable of working towards a freely chosen goal, given that constraints and unjustified demands cannot well be avoided in this case. Yet it is possible to become fairly familiar with a language through conversation. This would probably work best with French

Hindenburg - 1937

Hindenburg Disaster

Saturday, May 5, 2012

From Holderlin's Poem: "The Eagle" (Der Adler)

Combing through Holderlin's Hymns and Fragments, translated by Richard Sieburth. I had underlined (2005) a passage (the ending) from "The Eagle":

What you possess
Is taking breath.
What you raise
By day, rediscover
In sleep.
Where eyes are covered
And feet are bound,
You will find it.

Und was einer hat, ist
Athem zu hohlen.
Hat einer ihn nemlich hinauf
Am Tage gebracht,
Er findet im Schlaf ihn wieder.
Denn wo die Augen zugedekt,
Und gebunden die Füße sind,
Da wirst du es finden.

Holderlin's Letters

Started them a couple days ago via Kindle. Below I bullet just a few underscores:

  • I went home moved, and thanked God that I could feel where thousands rush by indifferently, either because they are accustomed to the sight or because they have hearts like lard
  • the desire to learn can consume all other desires
  • But don't we most doubt precisely what we desire?
  • The wisdom of my 21 years very often deserts me
  • The reason I'm still in the seminary is that my mother wishes it. I suppose I can waste a year or two for her sake
  • Send me some of your poems soon. There is more in them for our souls than in letters. Isn't that true?
  • And a good cause can always hope for God's protection
  • pray for the French, the champions of the rights of man
  • The magical light I saw it in when I had finished it, & even more when I read it to you on that unforgettable afternoon, has now dissipated so entirely that only the hope of soon writing a better poem can offer me some consolation for its imperfections
  • I no longer attach myself so fondly to individuals. My love is for humankind
  • These seeds of enlightenment, these quiet aspirations and efforts of individuals trying to shape the human race, will spread and gain strength and bear splendid fruit
  • Swabians soon track one another down wherever they are
  • Convinced that all humanity that does not also bear the name of reason, or is not in exact relation to it, cannot be so called
  • Virtually the only thing I'm reading at the moment is Kant
  • I am certain you will have thought of me from time to time since we parted with the watchword 'Kingdom of God!'
  • That Robespierre had to pay with his head seems just to me, and will perhaps bring some good with it. Only let the twin angels of humanity and peace come and the cause of humankind will be sure to thrive! Amen
  • We have to go through the night, and happy is he who can lend a hand and has work to do 

The End of "Sebastian Knight"

Finished S.K. earlier in the week. Have also downloaded to my Kindle Pnin (read it years ago and loved it) and Invitation to a Beheading (pretty certain I've never read it).

Something I've experienced on various modes of transportation (but no one puts a finger on it better, or funnier, than Nabokov):
Ah, that bulky monster rolling on my left was a woman; eau-de-Cologne and sweat struggling for ascendancy, the former losing.
The ending (winding down with the train's clickety-clack in your ears) is probably my fave part. I only grind out part:

And then the masquerade draws to a close. The bald little prompter shuts his book, as the light fades gently. The end, the end. They all go back to their everyday life (and Clare goes back to her grave)--but the hero remains, for, try as I may, I cannot get out of my part: Sebastian's mask clings to my face, the likeness will not be washed off. I am Sebastian, or Sebastian is I, or perhaps we both are someone whom neither of us knows.