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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Modiano's "Pedigree: A Memoir"

Contemporary Proust? Who knows. Post-Nobel, more and more of Modiano is coming out. Someone's making $$$. Lots on Kindle now. When I first read him (a year or so ago), there was hardly anything.


From Pedigree:
     Over the following months, my father had to resign himself to my finally leaving the dormitories where I'd lived since age eleven. He made appointments to see me in cafes. And he trotted out his standard grievances against my mother and against me. I could never establish a bond between us. At each meeting, I was reduced to begging him for a fifty-franc bill, which he would give me very grudgingly and which I'd bring home to my mother. On certain days, I brought nothing home, which provoked furious outbursts from her. Soon -- around the time I turned eighteen and in the years following -- I started to find her, on my own, some of those miserable fifty-franc bills bearing the likeness of Jean Racine. But nothing softened the coldness and hostility she had always shown me. I was never able to confide in her or ask her for help of any kind. Sometimes, like a mutt with no pedigree that has too often been left on its own, I feel the childish urge to set down in black and white just what she put me through, with her insensitivity and heartlessness. I keep it to myself. And I forgive her. It's all so distant now ... I remember copying out these words by Leon Bloy at school: "Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence." But in this case it was suffering for nothing, the kind from which you can't even fashion a poem.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Just Checkin'


Point Mugu [6.15.16]

Long drive up the 405. Even worse coming back. But we decided to meet beyond Point Dume and do a little hiking. Beautiful day. You felt like you'd left civilization behind (according to T-Mobile, I was off the map!).  A celebration. Old friends. Can't do any better than that. Only problems: being old and a couple gonzo mountain bikers. Afterwards & afterwords: some reasonably priced seafood at Neptune's Net.







Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. A Wall Street lawyer hires a new clerk who—after an initial bout of hard work—refuses to make copy and any other task required of him, with the words "I would prefer not to". The lawyer cannot bring himself to remove Bartleby from his premises, and decides instead to move his office, but the new proprietor removes Bartleby to prison, where he perishes.

Numerous essays have been published on what, according to scholar Robert Milder, "is unquestionably the masterpiece of the short fiction" in the Melville canon.

[From Wikipedia:,_the_Scrivener]

On Your Mark ...

Sleep Or Ride (Long Beach, CA)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Walking [6.11.16]

Palindrome: 61116. June gloom (my fave) and a little drizzle.



Saturday, June 4, 2016

Spreading the News (ROE)

Protecting My Turf


Bouncing around (why ask why): Herbert (drank from the same glass as Eliot), Roth (him on him -- so-so), J. F. Powers (found via Roth -- also so-so, but I'll keep trying), Macbeth (because I want to revisit Leskov's Lady). Also, just finished my second Penelope Fitzgerald novel (about spring and Russia; not as good as Blue Flower).

Anyway, from Zbigniew Herbert:

To Ryszard Krynicki -- A Letter

   Not much will remain Ryszard in truth not
of the poetry of our mad century Rilke Eliot
a few other worthy shamans who knew the
of word spells time-resistant forms without
no phrase deserves memory and speech is
like sand

  our school notebooks subjected to earnest
with their traces of sweat tears and blood
will be
to the eternal proofreader a song without a
nobly righteous and all too self-evident

  we came too easily to believe beauty does
not save
that it leads wantons from dream to dream
to death
none of us was able to wake the dryad of a
or to decipher the handwriting of the clouds
that is why no unicorn will stray across our
we'll raise up no ship in the bay no peacock
no rose
nakedness was left to us and we stand here
on the right the better side of the triptych
The Last Judgment

  we took public affairs onto our lanky
the battle with tyranny lies the recording of
but our foes -- you admit -- were despicably
and so was it worth it to bring down holy
to rostrum gibberish to a newspaper's black

  so little joy -- sister of the gods -- in our
poems Ryszard
too few glimmering twilights mirrors
wreaths ecstasies
nothing just obscure psalmodies the whine
of animulae
urns of ash in a burned-out garden

  what forces do we need -- in spite of destiny
the decrees of history and human iniquity --
to whisper a good night in treason's garden
  what forces of the spirit do we need
blindly beating despair against despair
to ignite a spark a word of atonement

  that the dancing circle might last on the
soft grass
the gifts of the air of the earth of fire and of

  I don't know -- my friend -- and that's why
I send you these owl's riddles in the night
a warm embrace

a bow from my shadow