Sunday, March 15, 2015


FIVE  I have been thinking of books, not at least for me an unusual path down which to wander and of course wonder.

Though mentioning this has an attending musty odor as I do think books are not much in evidence in the imaginative life of young people with rare exceptions and it is one of the few advantages of aging:  one will not be about for the continued and accelerating marginalization and trivialization of the book.
         EIGHT  I enjoy the complaints about the so-called rising inequality in America but the complaints are only that…they fill up the usual mouths but the reality is that there is nothing to be done about it.  There will be much pretend, much huffing and puffing but until you see say Harvard and Yale opening the Freshman class to any high school student who can block letter his or her name… or when you see violent demonstrators trying to bomb and burn out the rich apartment buildings on Fifth and Park Avenue in New York City…
         NINE   Enough of a nod to so-called reality presided over by…
          TEN  I have been reading for the longest time it seems  THE WALL by H.G. Adler.  This book together with Adler’s THE JOURNEY and PANORAMA are the first books I have read of late that can without hesitation to DEATH OF VIRGIL and THE SLEEPWALKERS  by Hermann Broch… in the original version I had allowed myself to be acarried on in comparison to William Faulkner ABSALOM, ABSALOM and James Joyce’s ULYSSES.. but reconsidered as Adler does not involve the reader in what can only be described as a realistic place, a place of so-called real streets, places… which of course both Faulkner and Joyce do so well though the places they describe really only exist in an imagination created by the words…  there is reality in Adler but it would be impossible to go to an actual place… and pretend that this is the place we read about in Joyce in Faulkner…
ELEVEN  A muddle as you can see…
THIRTEEN  This is not to say that I have only been reading THE WALL  as I have also been reading THE PHYSICS OF SORROW by the Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov who seems to have moved contemporary Bulgarian literature into the modern moment and he is the only Bulgarian writer one can read along with Peter Nadas or Peter Esterhazy though one hesitates as one never knows after only three books  if his nerve will remain steady… but one hopes that he has learned well from Jose Camilo Cela’s CHRIST VERSUS ARIZONA and Mati Unt’s BRECHT AT NIGHT  and of course there is Andrei Bitov’s  THE SYMMETRY TEACHER… on whose shores I have failed, have fallen down and while usually the book is blamed but I do think it is my lousy ability to read that has defeated me… in the case of Bitov whose PUSHKIN’S HOUSE seemed very accessible and THE ONE Russian novel that would come right after Mikhail Bulgakov’s  THE MASTER AND MARGARITA and to date there has not been a Russian novel to add to these two..
         SIXTEEN   Now that check…  DEREK MAHON  the poet visited Lilia McGonigle in Baggot Street Hospital, Dublin in October 1968--- 12 days before we were due to go to the United States, having found no alternative to this desperate move of failure--- she had come down with appendicitis and the necessary surgery… Mahon arrived at the ward along with Eugene Lambe and myself.   The poet said this will help you on your way… it was a wonderful warm gesture and fortunately we had no need of such a great amount of cash as we were setting off for the then still new world, our hearts filled with a desire…  though who the f*** really knows what was in our heads hearts…  to New York and then to Menasha, Wisconsin to which my father had been exiled by the American Can Company, an American Siberia, sharing the same climate as …
TWENTY    Of course in the present moment (2015) we have a vast governmental security apparat but that has always been an adjunct of the myriad smaller kingdoms--- which come and go and sometimes  really go as did the American Can Company…
TWENTYTWO  But Derek Mahon remembers:  in “To Eugene Lambe in Heaven”:     Few/will survive except those, like you, the stuff of myth./ Oft in the stilly night I remember our wasted youth.
THIRTY  How quickly writers are forgotten, but then everyone is replaceable in a terrible easy forgetfulness… who really cares once the guy or woman is dead---the relatives dwindle who remember that so and so wrote books but I confess even to that insane delusion that someday another young person will be browsing the shelves of the Patchogue public library--- who knows if such will remain--- goes into the Local History room or more likely happens onto a local history website and finds a name and a book.. such is how the already forgotten think and they even wonder is it possible to imagine Paul Auster or Jonathan Franzen taking a pause from contemplating their real estate and stock portfolios to give a glimmer to such recognition of their own futures: what happened to D.M. Thomas?... remember when people lined up to buy THE WHITE HOTEL?
FORTY Evidence for previous section:   TODAY’S POETS  edited by Chad Walsh published 1964…  about the only anthology of its kind to include GIL ORLOVITZ between Robert Lowell and Lawrence Ferleinghetti  and then moving on to Howard Nemerov, Richard Wilbur Philip Larkin..Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley and the eye moves on to Derek Walcott who Walsh is writing, “He may well become a major poet”… but it is GIL ORLOVITZ that Walsh really  singles out:  “never been included in a widely distributed anthology  (one might add and never again) and he continues…   writing with a Dionysian frenzy combined with a perfect control of language that has been equaled by few.. he is one of the few contemporary masters of the sonnet and the short lyric.  He also has the rare distinction of carrying on a lover’s quarrel with society without falling into cheap contempt for individual classes of humanity.”
FIFTYONE  I was fortunate to know Chad Walsh and he helped me through Beloit College and beyond.. he had hopes for me and approved of my books…  I can not imagine any young academic like him today as they all seem prisoners of the conventional of the expected but then Chad had been a communist, an Episcopal priest, a proofreader and typesetter when young for Sherwood Anderson's newspaper in Marion Virginia.  Walsh was  one of the first to champion C.S. Lewis before that man was known and famous… and he helped me because when he read my college application--- as he told me and as happened back then—the faculty picked the students not some “Admissions Office Committee” which has  itemized lists of required student quotas to fill---  he was impressed by the fact that I had listed Mein Kampf as the last book read before filling out the application for Beloit…  later telling me  some were appalled by your book choice but I thought here was a kid who discovered that this guy Hitler had written a book… you can’t fake such curiosity…

HUNDRED   Had my purposes ever been clearer and so  finally expressed as  in this phrase from  a short piece by Henry James on Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister:  “a sublime indifference to the reader--- the indifference of humanity in the aggregate to the individual observer.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Sentimentality and the Body
A concluding essay of a scholastic nature in summary of the book NOTHING DOING  which has just been written and now read
                                                      [photographs have been removed]
One has to end somewhere.

A       The genius of the Poussin painting lies in the absence of explanation.  No myth is being described, no public event being celebrated…  The painting has survived and is on the National Gallery wall.

B       One of the guys who is in the Class of 44 sitting in the Grassroots who knew George was talking of his shock at seeing QUEEN FOR A DAY when he had first arrived in America, being brought here when he was a kid in the 1950s. You came home from school at four o’clock there was this guy getting these women to talk about their horrible lives:  My husband died, I lost my leg to diabetes, my daughter has cancer of the face and I would just like to have a tiny vacation from all of this unhappiness and then Jack Bailey turns to the next woman who wants to be QUEEN FOR  DAY and it seems her husband is dying of lung cancer, two of her children were killed in a car crash and the third has not been able to sleep for  six months because he is afraid of the dark… this woman just wants…. And then Jack Bailey listens to two more wanna-bes and then he asked the audience to clap for who they would like to be           QUEEN FOR A DAY.  The noise is registered on the applause meter…  sadly and really strange, I thought back then, this guy said, the woman  with the amputated leg didn’t get to be and..
Two “sexy”--- you know what I mean--- attendants draped a robe on the woman’s shoulders.  They lead her to a throne and Jack Bailey puts a rhinestone crown on her head and says:  You are QUEEN FOR A DAY and this is what you have won… the camera is panning along the faces of the women who didn’t win and should one suspect that one of them is thinking: when I lose the second leg maybe they’ll give me another shot at the crown?

C       Competitive suffering  you could say but at least these women weren’t young and good looking because now the television only dishes up good looking people and makes them suffer for our viewing pleasure unless they’re competing for some sort of elective surgery.  Isn’t make-over a wonderful word?  As close to a do-over refuting every preacher in the land, if you ask me…

D       All things conceal a mystery, coming from Pascal.  And he quotes:  All men shall pass away and be consumed by time

E        Robert Bresson asked Julian Green to write a scenario for Ignace de Loyola.  Green wrote in his diary:  He seems inimical to picturesque effects, wants neither crucifix nor miracles… In the scene in which the Virgin appears to Saint Ignatius, he doesn’t want the Virgin to be seen (Oh, Hollywood, wouldst that you could read these wise words of a great director)

Please excuse all errors & scribbling.
                   Sr. M. Attracta

G       The inexorable reality of the material world, its stones, its voices, its faces, its great beauty, its thought even, everything that, in a certain way seems right when spirit seems wrong, because this world offers nothing that is not provable and almost tangible whereas the world of spirit, of faith remains interior, mysterious nonprovable--- how would it be possible to avoid suffering from this eternal contradiction?
                  Julien Green         12 July  194

H       When the metal door opens you find yourself walking down a flight of stairs into this open space between two buildings on Sullivan Street to a door which was open on this Saturday at five o’clock.  A long narrow basement space was demarcated into two areas separated by a kitchen alcove and toilet. You have found yourself in a basement  converted into an office.  The walls have been stripped of their paintings; the bookshelves have been emptied.   For a few more days until the end of the month GEORGE KAMEN will remain on the bell upstairs, which his patients rang when they came for their sessions.  All of that is done with on this Saturday.  All of that was now once upon a time.  It is not something to mourn, at all, George would be saying.  A person can always go to Paris to see things that stay the same.  Every city is different.  People get confused when they try to criticize a city with the standards of another city.  It is a way to go crazy.  You have to be able to see what is front of your face, first.

I         For some time he has been trying to take pictures of his own body.  He has not resorted to using the timer of the remote       control.  Too many memories of comic people setting timers,           then rushing to get into the picture.  He has not taken           photographs of himself in the mirror.  He tried to make a movie of   his penis, of his ass, of his chest hairs.  He notices the vulnerability     of the flesh when he views the little movies or the still photos.  He        is knocked out by the sheer loneliness  implicit in such work.  The        camera is for taking a picture of things, of other people, of           sunrises, sunsets, all the world of nature.  Someone might say it is   an exercise in self-love but with no evident erection these photos         and little films are hardly that… and  then of course they might be          an exercise in self abnegation,  a session in self-mortification       because one sees the aging  flesh, the reality of flesh that has not           been presented… of course he is aware of Buster Keaton trying to    escape his face in Beckett’s FILM, all the while Beckett himself         liked posing for the camera, well knowing he filled up the        sensitized paper…  was this all a commentary on Joyce or his, as   well as, my knowing that famous photograph of Joyce who was           said to be thinking would he loan me a pound…  of course       everyone knows  Joyce was involved in establishing the first movie   house in Dublin and even Celine had been off to Hollywood in the         hopes of seeing Journey to the End of Night upon the big screen…         and am told about John Coplans and the very large photographs      of his own body, but he himself was not behind the camera for   any of these photographs, though his body was the subject of   these photos and he was telling the girl or boy when to snap the          picture, how to position the camera and then he gave instructions         on how to cut the pictures, how to mount them, but he himself           hardly did anything , not much more than being an art director for this project which was the photographing of his own body: and         again there are no erections but there are slightly comic poses          when the body is posed in such a way that fingers look like a nest          of maggots or a torso becomes a piece of ancient armor… and as        must be said, Coplans is now quite dead but his body remains          behind: remains, toward the end, instead of the predictable large         photo albums of the children when young and the long funneling down to the remains being dropped into a hole

To maintain the dream, and the scar of the dream.
      from  Carnal Love     by Henri Deluy  

K       He died. 
They stayed alive. 
The dead seize the living.

l.        These three men in the Poussin painting do not seem to be the        robust material required for how are we to know when to turn from one to the next to the next?  Three men out for a walk, three men who do or do not know each other, three men in a book,   three men in a painting.  Even in Douglas when you open a grave     of a certain date you do not know what you will find, which is     probably stating the obvious.

M      Like most people who have read books I am aware of Paul Valery    saying a book is never finished, it is simply abandoned… but given        the world today Valery’s words seem to come from so very far      away… there is  now no destination for the words you have read, no place where this reading  can be exchanged.  How naively I had           imagined   a young person, much like myself it is true,  wandering   into a library somewhere— Menasha, Wisconsin, Patchogue, NY,         Douglas, AZ will serve---  and walking up and down the aisles,   falling by accident upon my book and for a few moments it is      alive… but those shelves are not much gazed upon anymore.  There is a feeling up front, everyone is a little embarrassed by all          those books over there…  arguments are always breaking out       about someone jumping the line to use the computers…  get the   key for the public bathroom…

N       A discussion among the members of the class of 44 in the Grassroots the other day:  what are the things never to be done again, to be bought, to be longed for, to miss, to hope for?  Never to buy a new dress suit, a white shirt, never to discuss the buying a wedding ring, listen to a parent die, never, never,  ever to think today is going to mark a real change in my life, never to feel under some sort of obligation to the go to any museum …

O       A scrap of paper in George’s hand:  The cruelest of the bosses in the camps was Major Goranov who invented   and introduced a sinister ritual.  We had to line up at 4:30 AM before work.  At that time he was usually awake as he had simply not gone to bed at all as he was drunk.  He would step in front of us and call the chosen victim.  He would hand him a small round mirror, one of these which were sold at the festivals and tell him,” Look at yourself for the last time.”  At that moment this man was dead already.  Goranov would give him the wooden litter and sack and instruct the Brigade leaders, “ Now you know what to do.”

P       It would be convenient to return to the circle, the going about in circles and the echo within the Tohono O’odham, the circling up out of the earth to the light of day though it is probable some young man long ago realized that the reverse seemed far more likely, the fate:   waiting, so patiently:  how out at the Shell station in… they came in, those from out there who had been driving across the land and talking about how fortunate, how lucky to be able to be here forever.. or that couple: that old man and his young son, looking more like a grandson and the old man is trying to talk to the checkout girl asking her what is the prettiest thing to see around here.. and this in Bashas’ … and the line behind every so firmly scraping the sneakers against the floor just wanting to get into the Mars candy bar washed down with a twenty ounce bottle of Mountain Dew and then… I saw his son so embarrassed so impatient… to be getting on…  but with a twinge of guilt because to get on brings him closer to have to clean out the old man’s room or house or God knows where he has ended up…  some people are half way screwed into the earth and there is no way to suggest  maybe it is from how you look at them as they are maybe going the other way, for all anyone really knows…  give me a break… old men ain’t going but one way and so are the young people around here even if they get away…

Q       Wednesday, 8 July, 1857. This morning I had the remains my mother & and of my son Waldo removed from the tomb of Mrs Ripley to my lot in "Sleepy Hollow." The sun shone brightly on the coffins, of which Waldo's was well preserved--- now of fifteen years. I ventured to look into the coffin. I gave a few white oak leaves to each coffin, after they were put in the new vault, & the vault then covered with two slabs of granite.

R       Review.  No quiz for sure.  A journey and some travelling.  A painting.  Three men.  My own history or at least some of it.  Other voices accumulated along the way and the eye comes to a stone set in the grassy earth of Calvary in Douglas, not to be explained as the words are plain enough:                        OLLETHA   B
                                         RAULSTON   FINLEY
                             Jan  11   1921 --- MAR  12  2002
                                      MAX  EVERT       
                             MIA       1944   SAIPAN    U.S.  ARMY 

S        Satisfied by nothing, right, Karri was answering me, and they would try it, the oldest gimmick: why can’t you be satisfied, look at Jack, Bill and Harry over there, ain’t they satisfied, why can’t you be satisfied by what you have and have had and what you are likely to be getting still down the road with not a fear in the world if you compare yourself to most of the poor shlubs dragging their asses from pillar to post as again used to be said with plenty of damp spots to fall asleep on…

T        Tomorrow.   Put it off, put it off, if it is worth putting off today it is worth putting off tomorrow.

V       Vanity.

X       The spot:  …it must be admitted that normality is often a (almost unfathomably) complex state--- more complex at any rate that those forms of pathology which rest on regression and primitivization.
                                   From “On Courage” by Heinz Kohut. 

A  commentary by Michael Roloff: 
to report, however "normality"   invariably produces a lot of wear and tear which will make for a news event of one kind or another. you generally don't need to probe too deep to find the psychotic core in just about every human being.

A reply written by the shade of Julian Green:  the psychotic core you mention has another far older term:  the affects of original sin--- 

Y        Why a bit too opportunistically  I should not stop with the letter ZZZZZZZ as I would not or maybe I should encourage the cartoonist in all of you to supply the sleeping figure as the head moves to desk as it falls back against the pillow on a wonderfully sunny afternoon when the street outside is quiet

There is now the turning back to     the first page