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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reading: Back to Thomas Bernhard

Wittgenstein’s Nephew is an autobiographical work by Thomas Bernhard, originally published in 1982. It is a recollection of the author's friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, the nephew of Ludwig Wittgenstein and a member of the wealthy Viennese Wittgenstein family. Paul suffers from an unnamed mental illness for which he is repeatedly hospitalized, paralleling Bernhard's own struggle with a chronic lung disease.


The author narrates moments of his friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, "nephew" (actually son of a first cousin) of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (not to be confused with the latter's brother, the pianist Paul Wittgenstein). The title is a reference to Diderot's Rameau's Nephew who also deals with the eccentric nephew of a preeminent cultural figure. A very sensitive man, unsuitable for the world, obsessed by an exclusive and cruel passion for music as well as for race cars and sailing, Paul Wittgenstein dissipated his whole fortune and ultimately died poor.

[From Wikipedia:]

Walking: Seal Beach

I knew the Ruby's was closed for some while (apparently 2013). Hadn't realized till today that it had burned back in May, 2016.





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vladislav Khodasevich's "Selected Poems"

Also reading: Khodasevich (a real live book!). Bilingual edition. Translated from the Russian by Peter Daniels. (Maybe I'll put up Daniels' version of "The Monkey" alongside Nabokov's someday. Maybe I'll have some time -- far down the road -- to dabble in the Russian myself.)

Will certainly look more at Nabokov's Pale Fire in relation to Khodasevich's "Ballada."


Khodasevich's "Petersburg":

They gave themselves to sad monotonous
tasks, until their strength was spent.
Half-dead among them, only I
distracted their predicament.

They looked at me and they forgot
their bubbling kettles boiling dry,
the boots of felt that scorched on stoves
-- all listening to my poetry

Then in sepulchral Russian dark
a flowery herald-girl took my hand;
and music's concord was revealed
to me, knocked sideways in the wind.

Mad with visions, over the sheet-ice
on the canal, I'd reach the bank
and slither up the crumbling steps
clutching a piece of cod that stank,

and driving every verse through prose
disjointed in the pull and push,
somehow I grafted the classic rose
to the Soviet briar bush.

11 December 1925

[Translation by Peter Daniels]

Dag Solstad's "Novel 11, Book 18"

Only other novel on Kindle. Hope more are forthcoming.:)

Also, to some degree, riffing on Ibsen's The Wild Duck.



Oh, that sun shining in through the municipal curtains on the window of this doctor's office at the Kongsberg Hospital! Those nauseating sunbeams in the window frame. The translucent glass in the rectangular windowpanes, sponged down every day as part of the aura of security a hospital must radiate in societies like ours. He was a bit ashamed of his words, for it offended him that a man past fifty spoke about death, and now he had done so himself, loud and clear. A man of thirty can do so, for his death is a disaster, from whatever viewpoint it is seen, being snatched away from his career in one gulp, but for him, Bjorn Hansen, who had recently turned fifty, death would only be the natural conclusion of a natural process, albeit somewhat early, statistically, and so he simply had to put up with it all, without a whimper, done is done, and the race moves on towards its natural conclusion.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mood Jellies

T. S. should write a poem. You should. :)






Sand Jellies

With the tide out, many were beached on the sand. Stranded. How long can they live outside of water? Two boys had fun picking them up and throwing them back in. I watched to see if they were able to swim away. Couldn't see clearly. Late afternoon. Charlie and I walked back home.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Dorothy Wordsworth (1771 - 1855)

Dorothy Mae Ann Wordsworth (25 December 1771 – 25 January 1855) was an English author, poet and diarist. She was the sister of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and the two were close all their lives. Wordsworth had no ambitions to be an author, and her writings consist only of series of letters, diary entries, poems and short stories.


She was born on Christmas Day in Cockermouth, Cumberland in 1771. Despite the early death of her mother, Dorothy, William and their three step-brothers had a happy childhood. When in 1783, their father died and the children were sent to live with various relatives, Wordsworth was sent alone to live with her aunt, Elizabeth Threlkeld, in Halifax, West Yorkshire.[1] After she was able to be reunited with William, firstly at Racedown Lodge in Dorset in 1795 and afterwards (1797/98) at Alfoxden House in Somerset, they became inseparable companions. The pair lived in poverty at first, and would often beg for cast-off clothes from their friends.[2]
William wrote of her in his famous Tintern Abbey poem:
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes [...]
My dear, dear Sister!
Wordsworth was a diarist and somewhat amateur poet with little interest in becoming an established writer. "I should detest the idea of setting myself up as an author," she once wrote, "give Wm. the Pleasure of it."[3] She almost published her travel account with William to Scotland in 1803 Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, but a publisher was not found[4] and it would not be published until 1874.

She wrote a very early account of an ascent of Scafell Pike in 1818 (perhaps predated only by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's of 1802), climbing the mountain in the company of her friend Mary Barker, Miss Barker's maid, and two local people to act as guide and porter. Dorothy's work was used in 1822 by her brother William, unattributed, in his popular guide book to the Lake District – and this was then copied by Harriet Martineau in her equally successful guide[5] (in its fourth edition by 1876), but with attribution, if only to William Wordsworth. Consequently, this story was very widely read by the many visitors to the Lake District over more than half of the 19th century.[6]

She never married, and after William married Mary Hutchinson in 1802, continued to live with them. She was by now 31, and thought of herself as too old for marriage. In 1829 she fell seriously ill and was to remain an invalid for the remainder of her life. She died at eighty-three in 1855 near Ambleside, having spent the past twenty years in, according to the biographer Richard Cavendish, "a deepening haze of senility".[2]

Her Grasmere Journal was published in 1897, edited by William Angus Knight. The journal eloquently described her day-to-day life in the Lake District, long walks she and her brother took through the countryside, and detailed portraits of literary lights of the early 19th century, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Lamb and Robert Southey, a close friend who popularised the fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Dorothy's works came to light just as literary critics were beginning to re-examine women's role in literature. The success of the Grasmere Journal led to a renewed interest in Wordsworth,[7] and several other journals and collections of her letters have since been published.

The Grasmere Journal and Wordsworth's other works revealed how vital she was to her brother's success. William relied on her detailed accounts of nature scenes and borrowed freely from her journals. For example;
I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing
— Dorothy Wordsworth, Grasmere Journal 15 April 1802[8][9]
This passage is clearly brought to mind when reading William's 'Daffodils', where her brother, in this poem of two years later, describes what appears to be the shared experience in the journal as his own solitary observation. Her observations and descriptions have been considered to be as poetic if not more so than that of her brother.[10] In her time she was described as being one of the few poets who have lived who could have provided so vivid and picturesque a scene.

[From Wikipedia:]

Dag Solstad

Dag Solstad (born 16 July 1941) is a Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, and dramatist whose work has been translated into several languages.[1] He has written nearly 30 books and is the only author to have received the Norwegian Literary Critics' Award three times. His works have been translated into 20 languages.

His awards include the Mads Wiel Nygaards Endowment in 1969, the Nordic Council's Literature Prize in 1989, for Roman 1987 and the Brage Prize in 2006 for Armand V. Solstad is among Norway's top-ranked authors of his generation. His early books were considered somewhat controversial, due to their political emphasis (leaning towards the Marxist–Leninist side of the political spectrum). Dag Solstad lives part-time in Berlin and part-time in Oslo.

[From Wikipedia:]


A bit scattered. The stepping stones pretty much go: Coleridge, D. Wordsworth, Keller, Solstad.


Excerpt from Solstad's Shyness & Dignity:

     It was not that they were bored, it was rather that look of injury through which their boredom became manifest. There was nothing strange about being bored in a Norwegian class where a drama by Henrik Ibsen was being studied. They were, after all, eighteen-year-olds who were supposed to acquire a liberal education. They were youths who could not be viewed as fully developed individuals. To characterize them as immature, therefore, would not offend anyone, neither themselves nor those with authority over them, at any rate when considered from a sober and objective viewpoint. These immature individuals were placed in school in order to obtain knowledge about classical Norwegian literature, which it was his to offer them. He was, in fact, officially appointed to do just that. The main problem with such a job was that they were incapable of receiving what he was supposed to give them. Immature individuals, at that in and of itself exciting stage between child and adult, are not in a position to understand The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen; to maintain anything else would be an insult to the old master, and for that matter to every grown-up person who has managed to obtain some knowledge of the shared cultural heritage of humanity.

Walking (8. 9. 16): The Seven Wonderful Bumps on the Beach

Semi-retirement is the life. Unfortunately (fortunately) the world needs saving and school starts in less than a week.:)




Saturday, August 6, 2016

Morning in Seal Beach









Tuesday, August 2, 2016