Saturday, January 25, 2020

“with a touch lighter than a lark’s breath” Alison Fell


There's still time to get to Joseph Keppler’s show at the Zeitgeist in Seattle. Here is what the artist writes about it:

“There will never be another show like the first shows, never be another chance to be one who experiences what it is to live in the time with the artists who are showing what that time is like for all who will follow in time.
Do not look for reviews or red dots to justify this 2020 exhibit, which is in part about justifying oneself in North America and globally; critics have not thought reflexively about this art yet and collectors have not loved it yet.
Look upon this art as if looking into daily phenomena, mirrors clouded with oil, language, images, desires, and minds, your own and those around you.
This is a final shout-out to those who have neither seen nor understood the exhibition, Archeology Anthropology Aesthetics Investigated & Delivered Daily. It runs through 5 February 2020, and then it will never be seen again in whole and as first arranged.
Be knowing. Crowds come later but it is different then. Be someone who sees now and not only lives now.”


Cultural anthropology was my major in college, so unless they could be used to meet anthro requirements, literature classes were an indulgence, more partaken as electives in my junior and senior years. I had some great teachers, beginning with freshman English 101 and Comparative Literature 101 classes, then moving on into the upper division classes: African American literature, Chicano literature, Russian literature in English translation, Japanese literature in translation, German literature same, a special class on Borges. I missed Seamus Heaney until now. I’d seen his name, maybe haphazardly skimmed something, but not until the past few weeks had I actual read his work. Here’s a transcription of my audible reaction while reading many of his poems: Wow. Wow. Fuuuuuck. I was in a period of angry doubt, the usual what the hell have I been wasting my life on literature for howling; not only did he astonish me with the writing, he inspired me writer, there is a comforting confidence in his craftsmanship, and that’s really what all this is about: the art. 

I had a minute so I reread Katherine Anne Porter’s story, “A Day’s Work,” from a 1944 collection titled The Leaning Tower. A violent, sleazy, nasty narrative, it stunned me even more the second time around. 

Friedrich Nietzsche could be a smart ass. Here are some cynical lines from Thus Spake Zarathustra that I enjoyed: 

“A little poison now and then: that maketh pleasant dreams. And much poison at last for a pleasant death.”

“Where solitude endeth, there beginneth the market-place; and where the market-place beginneth, there beginneth also the noise of the great actors, and the buzzing of the poison-flies.”

“Full of clattering buffoons is the market-place,—and the people glory in their great men! These are for them the masters of the hour…Such ancient babbling still passeth for “wisdom”; because it is old, however, and smelleth mustily, therefore is it the more honoured. Even mould ennobleth.”

Philip Schaefer:

“I watch a kid kick a telephone pole
with his brother’s face glued to his boot.”


Three of the iconographic buildings in the USA that I have seen are: the Woolworth Building in New York City, the Flamingo Tower in Las Vegas, and the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood. The Flamingo Tower was razed many years ago, but the other two remain in use.


I’m hearing and half-listening to a recording of “A Mind of Winter” by George Benjamin. How often I’m hearing and half listening to things, birds for example, and still becoming infused with sensation.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2020, the next go-round

Remember when there was an "anti-war movement?" 


I have new work in The Bangalore Review and Good Works Review. Thank you to the editorial team at Bangalore Review and to Robert S. King, editor at Good Works Review.

I dropped my subscription to the local daily newspaper, and then became a subscriber to Love notes from Siel, a weekly email on matters literary and otherwise by the Los Angeles-based writer Siel Ju. I look forward to reading her take on the world.

And a couple of things I’ve read recently:

A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen. This has lost its shock value as a woke piece for feminism, but I think it has acquired an unintended legitimacy as a critique of the effect of contemporary consumerism. (Perhaps a project that needs Greta Gerwig’s attention?)

From A Beginner's Guide to Free Fall, by Andy Abramowitz, here is a quick bit of the fresh mouth repartee that I like in the book, a back and forth between a dad (Davis) and his daughter (Rachel) who has just finished kindergarten and will be starting first grade in September:

“You think Old Lady Janacek is going to miss you?” Davis asked. This was how he referred to Rachel’s twenty-five-year-old kindergarten teacher, because the name somehow worked. “School’s over, and you’re officially a first grader. She’s lost you. You’re moving on, never looking back.”

“I’ll see her in the hall,” Rachel said, refusing to see sentimentality where it did not lie. “I’ll give her a hug if she needs one.” She tugged a small continent of cheese off her slice of pizza and dropped it into her upturned mouth. The open-jawed box in front of them on the table was now empty of everything except crumbs, grease stains, and smudges of sauce. Summer was on, school already a distant memory.


Bass players: 
the young and the iconic.