Friday, May 4, 2007

Paintings by Xul Solar

Xul Solar (1887-1963) was an Argentine painter, sculptor, writer, and inventor; a visionary utopian; an occultist and astrologer who yet remained catholic; an accomplished musician who was fluent in seven languages, two of which were of his own devising; and a minor character in Borges’s Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. The following images are scans from the catalogue Xul Solar: Visiones y revelaciones, which was published in 2005 to coincide with a major exhibition of his work, staged in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Mexico City and Houston.
(via Barista)

the language of politics has tag clouds for last night's Republican debate and last week's Democratic debate. Its worth noting the striking differences in the use of language. (via Daily Kos)

Without having seen the debates, I can say with confidence that Biden, Dodd, and Gravel were too wordy, Edwards was populist, and Obama spoke a completely different language. Also, based on language it looks as if Romney and McCain went for flag waving populism, although McCain, being a Senator, did fret a bit about political process.

Mission manly

I missed this post at Liberal Avenger looking at the Mission Accomplished anniversary.

Silence (2 of 10)

I look at you. Perhaps I look away.
There are reasons for my actions
    for this silence,
reasons which I do not want to explain.
Read into this—into this pain—
what you will.
There is love there,
but present just the same.

Wang tang evo-devo

Quite long, not easily encapsulated, but fascinating: Dr. Nick Matzke Kevin Padian's Dover testimony on macroevolution. (via Pharyngula)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wine recommendations

Seghesio Arneis 2004. A complex delightful white, full of body, surprisingly good.

Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir 2005. Young and watery, but full of flavor. A quality wine, depending on price.

Rodney Strong Sonoma Country Chardonnay 2005. Not exceptional but pure. A well-crafted delight.

Obviously I'm not a pro at writing wine reviews--writing about food and drink is akin to singing about smelling or dancing about writing. The comparitors that wine reviews often use (hints of oak and maple complement this melon-raspberry palate with an asphault bouquet) often seem akin to hieroglyphics. If I recommend a wine, it means just that I find it enjoyable and drinkable, and you might too.


One Art and Filling Station, by Elizabeth Bishop.

Spaces We Leave Empty by Cathy Song.

Looking for Republican heroes

Drum says the less said about Hoover the better. I disagree.

The more said about Hoover the better--Hoover was a smart man blinded by ideology and incapable of confronting the misery that was becoming wide-spread in America. He was a big believer in small government, laissez-faire capitalism, and private charities. Surely, I couldn't have been the only one who saw the ghost of Hoover in Bush Sr's 'thousand points of light' campaign?

There was a reason why Hoover and the Republican party were so thoroughly trounced: they were completely out of touch with the needs, hopes, and dreams of ordinary americans... and when crisis struck, the emperor and his court were without clothes.

Alec Soth's Niagara

Alec Soth's Niagara. (A few more from the project, put aside as being too nihilistic.)

Peter Ciccariello's two photo-blogs: Uncommon Vision and Invisible Notes (via wood s lot)

an old theme

Silence, a series of ten little poems, the first of which is below, is new (the ink is still writhing and wet). This poem is, by comparison, old, written almost ten years ago. It is a different approach to the same theme, from a period in which I spent a great deal of time thinking about how music is made.


The jazz trumpeter—an old theme,
    so bear with me on this one
    because, truly,
        not every poet has paid homage
    to davis, gillespie, et al. . .
signifies the eloquence of silence
    by continuing to play
        after the piece is at an end
    by continuing to blow
    by producing
        an absence of sound.

Quote of the day.

You know- I stop worrying about someone's struggle in this cruel and unjust world after they've made their first billion dollars. Is that wrong of me?--Christian Burnham (scroll down)

American deserters in Canada

Canada isn't as independent as many would believe.
The incidents have sparked allegations that Canadian law enforcement has been collaborating with U.S. officials to help track down American soldiers who have fled to Canada. Some critics, including a left-leaning member of Parliament who represents Nelson, say they believe it is a campaign of intimidation.


Ever since the Vietnam War, many Americans have viewed Canada as a liberal oasis, ready to welcome those who no longer want to take part in Uncle Sam's wars. But the reality is more complicated these days, especially with the conservative Harper government in power since 2006. Although the Canadian people are still largely welcoming, some war resisters say they have faced hostility here. And all of them who are seeking refugee status to remain in the country face complex legal obstacles, according to experts on Canada's refugee laws. Meanwhile, the alleged cooperation between Canadian and U.S. law enforcement authorities to track them down raises thorny legal questions of its own.

Silence (1 of 10)

Out of silence... monsters—
long sharp ink-black teeth
always ready for a nibble
to always nibble
their horrified prey—
blood in the darkness
   blood in the darkness
muted screams.
Mistakenly misshapened
by the maker of
bees, gods, and men
in silence borne
in silence wept
in silence.


Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut. I read this on the recommendation of Phil Nugent, and it was the missing gem that out-sparkles everything else in the crown of Vonnegut’s literature (or literateria). The novel is the confession of Howard Campbell, Jr., American spy and Nazi propagandist, written just prior to his trial in Israel on war crimes. The inspiration of the novel comes from the famous trial of Eichmann (written about so well by Hannah Arendt—and if you haven’t read Eichmann in Jerusalem, you really should) and the questions of evil and complicity that arose from that trial. The novel professes to be about identity and evil—and on one level it is. But on another level it is about loss—the loss of love, and the loss of identity—and despair. There are numerous inconsistencies in the story—both with historical fact and with its own internal fictions—and yet, we would expect nothing less from an "autobiography" (written in the literary tradition of Lolita et al.).

The only other Vonnegut novel that really had an impact on me was Bluebeard—which is either underappreciated, or really not that good... take your pick. I never developed a strong appreciation for Vonnegut—perhaps I didn’t find him that funny, or imaginative, or touching? But Mother Night is haunting. Sincerely profound. It is a story that tells more by what is not described as by what is. A story that works as much in shadow as in light. Something to aspire to.

Banksy’s Wall and Peace is delicious fun. For someone such as myself who isn’t really enamored with graffiti (truly there is nothing as inartistic as writing ‘I was here’ on a wall... the equivalent to a dog pissing on a tree) I can’t help but make an exception for Banksy, whose work I find engaging, thought-provoking, and whimsical. Perhaps I am influenced by the fact that his work is more political than artistic, more exposé than cover. Perhaps you’ll agree? Or perhaps you’ll find his work a suitable sponge for coffee stains? Check out his periodically changing website. Well worth your time.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

more poetry

Today's poem at Verse Daily, Joy by Donald Platt, is quite good.

Thomas Sowell’s desperate cries for order

Sometimes it seems as if everybody is trying to rip off his own little piece of America, until we are all torn apart.


When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.
Thomas Sowell, May 1, 2007

I am an old black man—
don't you dare call me a nigger—
confounded by the degeneracy
that I see around me—
young people with tattoos,
gangster rap, declining church attendance,
and a completely uncivilized
approach to politics, driven
in large part by a twenty-four hour
ADHD news culture—
don’t you realize we are a nation at war?—
where’s your dignity? Where’s your respect?
why in god’s name can’t you keep it in your pants?—
what this country needs is clear lines—
people need to appreciate sacrifice—
clear lines of behavior and thought—
what is acceptable, what is unacceptable—
but don’t mind me, don’t mind me,
I’ll just sit in the back of the bus.

In the tradition of the music being talked about...

Jeff Sharlet discusses and reinterprets Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor's Faking It: the quest for authenticity in popular music (via Cursor). My favorite bit, because it is so telling of the times:
... Leadbelly, a favourite of folk aficionados who to this day perceive him as a giant of "black music", even though the vast majority of his fans were white. (When white producers brought Leadbelly to New York City in 1935 to play "traditional" music, Life magazine declared in a headline: "Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel".)

Three yards over

Three yards over a dog is barking monotonously,
it staggers in intensity but not in tone
as if the dog were reincarnated and practicing
a meditative bark-like drone.

I catch myself wondering
whether to murder such a meditative
mammal might be a mercy, sending it
further on the path to enlightenment,
or at least, to the realization
that one need not bark so long or so loud.

. . .

But who am I to judge
the practice of others?
I bark too. I bark too.

increasingly despicable

Bush II.
Dear Mr. President,

Today, in your veto message regarding the bipartisan legislation just passed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, you asserted that you so decided because you listen to your commanders on the ground.

Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear -- most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops' peril.


As someone who served this nation for decades, I have the utmost respect for the office you hold. However, as a man of conscience, I could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military's finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now.

I urge you to reconsider your position, and work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals laid out above.


Major General Paul D. Eaton, USA, Retired

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mitt Romney's strange taste

So... Mitt Romney's favorite book is Battlefield Earth.

[jaw drop]

The "my favorite book" question is an example of all that is silly during campaign season: there can never be an honest answer--someone who reads will have more than one favorite book, someone who doesn't read will have no favorite book. Nonetheless I find Romney's answer inexplicable.

Its as if someone asked him what his favorite flavor of ice cream was and he said 'peach-licorice'. Certainly there is nothing wrong with such a weird choice... but why wouldn't he have said chocolate or vanilla?

May Day

“I want to be possessed,” she tells me
with something like hope
glistening in her eyes.
“I do too,” I whisper,
half to her
half to myself—
and it is an elaborate dance
     made all too simple
by forgetting—
in a painting
     only her eyes
     would be accurately described
everything else
     would be gauzy
     or lies.