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Monthly Archives: November 2021

2021 1114 know this

Know This

Keepsakes are not vainly kept
Nothingness has zero depth
Out of Love came You and I
With Caresses meeting Sighs

This image and double-acrostic quatrain is from a remembrance of my favorite book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. The way I read Bridge, Wilder presented five different kinds of human love as an argument that the Universe did in fact make sense. I try to conduct my life as if that were true.

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Breaking a fast of a night full of dreams In a well-conceived ripping of old-notion seams Haunts a bachelor’s kitchen with ethery steams And wreaks chop-happy havoc on thought-laden streams. In other words, when I woke up after dreaming about friendship and loyalty, with the (not original with me, I’m sure, but there it was, echoing away) phrase “some friendships never die until both friends have died” looping in my head, I lurched into the kitchen, found some items that would suit, and prepared a meal while looking with a strange lens at what I was doing.

Recently I read T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” I don’t pretend to fully understand it. There are helpful footnotes and biographical material in the edition I own (Penguin Classic, The Waste Land and other Poems, edited and with an introduction and notes by Frank Kermode, purchased at the amazing The Book House in St. Louis, Missouri, Eliot’s home town) but the sense of Eliot’s focus choices still eludes me. I see and touch the parts of his poetic elephant without getting a good, wide-angled, aerial-photography look at the elephant itself. Time, research and thought will take care of that, I trust. Meanwhile I’m in the kitchen, a bit sleep-befuddled, under a slight Eliot influence. As I start chopping the potato I think of how much better it would be to say “There’s more than one way to chop a potato” than “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Those poor cats!!! (In St. Louis I spent several days in the company of my cartoonist/poet friend Russ Kazmierczak and his significant other, the cat-adoring Missy Pruitt. I like cats myself, but Missy has devoted a portion of her life-energy to the welfare of cats on a scale beyond most of us.) (If T. S. Eliot had never existed, the play Cats would never have existed either, and Paul Newman would never have gotten up in his seat in the audience of “The Late Show with Letterman” and demanded, “Where the Hell are THE SINGING CATS??!” Thoughts don’t come out of nowhere.) (Russ K is a huge Letterman fan. I’m hoping this passage will bring him a smile. Russ is a huge Missy Pruitt fan too. If Eliot were writing this, he would make less sense but be much more eloquent.)

Anyway, I ended up chopping the potato unconventionally. I did half in thin slices of wedges, a third in discs, and the rest just a home-fries chopchop. And I made a staged potatoscape and thought of what potential the right painting of the scape would have in elbowing its way into the Museum of Modern Art.

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Potatoes need company. This one was accompanied by slow-sautéed scrambled eggs, topped by Mexican-style blend grated cheese and surprise guest red-pepper-enhanced hummus, applied to the surface of the melting cheese using a two-spoon technique I invented for the occasion. I’d never used hummus as an ingredient before, and I may not have if I hadn’t been addled by dreams and haunting Eliot allusions, but no regrets: it was just the right amount to add a red-peppery tang. Having eaten, I am now a slightly different person than I was before I woke: slightly better nourished both by foodstuffs and by eerie, arty, Eliot-laced musings. May you, Friends, find just the sustenance and musement you yourself need today!

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I’m in Saint Louis, Missouri, on an adventure. And when I told my friends about it, poet Perry Sams observed that both T. S Eliot and William S. Burroughs were born here. Yesterday that sprang to mind when I went on a pedestrian pilgrimage from where my traveling companions and I are staying to the majestic St. Louis Arch. Suddenly the passage from Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” superimposed itself on my closeup sight of the Arch: ” . . . To lead us to an overwhelming question . . .” And the Arch was telling me that such as question will be an overARCHING question as well.

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The Arch communicates nonverbally. It may be asking if “What goes up must come down” is valid, or if a gleaming tribute to parabolas is its own reward, or if large-scale focal points of attention may enhance a global psyche. A true Overarching Question might endure over time and cultural change.

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Reader, I invite you to ask your own Overarching Question. You have lived long enough to ponder and wonder. What question keeps you awake more than any other? What issue would make you happiest if resolved?

And I further invite you to imagine putting that question to the Arch Itself, just to see what happens. It costs nothing, and, who knows, the Arch may have something to convey. It certainly spoke to me, though not in words. And it made me smile.

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2021 1103 offset

I am a disbeliever in miracles, though I have some sympathy for my late, great friend Karen W’s Course in Miracles definition of a Miracle as “a change in perception.” But Childbirth does seem miraculous, and holy, to me. It is an essence of hope. It is that fabled Death-Defying Act

That said, if a potential parent doesn’t want to have children, case closed as far as I’m concerned: they absolutely ought not to have children. There should be zero pressure from relatives, and especially there should be zero pressure from significant others, for someone who doesn’t want children to have them anyway. And Contraception ought to be vigorously employed in such cases. The “be fruitful and multiply” edict was initiated when the world population was far fewer than one billion. The more billions we add, the more overall quality of human life goes down.

Sorry about the preaching. May all the childbirths in your life be cause for joyous celebration!

off (offset) set

offspring nascent in the throes
ferment verdant purple rose
fellow mellow friend or ghost

2021 1101 dream of a 10 yr old

Sometimes old dreams float up to the surface of consciousness after more than half a century. This is one such, but it is not a faithful recording of the dream, which did involve being on a strange planet in the dark, but didn’t have any floating triangles. What it is is the collaboration of two dreamers, one a kid, and one that still-kid decades hence.