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I was born with a mind that suffers from the incurable disease of worrying precisely about what could or might have been.

Cipriano Algor


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Sunday, April first, 2012

To Troy, Helen

My latest endeavor into translation hits the streets today: To Troy, Helen, by Fernando Iwasaki. This is my second translation to appear in Words Without Borders; their April issue is devoted to fiction about sex. (The sentence they pick as the header for the story, "She had undressed me then as if she were peeling a piece of fruit," is nice. It's one of a couple of Iwasaki's similes that I find I can't precisely grasp but that I still have enough of a muddled understanding of to render well. And it gives a nice sense of the story's verbal feel.)

posted afternoon of April first, 2012: Respond
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Curses!

Hairfor throw the auctorite of Almichty God, the Fader of hevin, his Son, our Saviour, Jhesu Crist, and of the Halygaist; throw the auctorite of the Blissit Virgin Sanct Mary, Sanct Michael, Sanct Gabriell, and all the angellis; Sanct John the Baptist, and all the haly patriarkis and prophets; Sanct Peter, Sanct Paull, Sanct Andro, and all haly appostillis; Sanct Stephin, Sanct Laurence, and all haly mertheris; Sanct Gile, Sanct Martyn, and all haly confessouris; Sanct Anne, Sanct Katherin, and all haly virginis and matronis; and of all the sanctis and haly company of hevin; be the auctorite of our Haly Fader the Paip and his cardinalis, aned of my said Lord Archibischop of Glasgw, be the avise and assistance of my lordis, archibischop, bischopis, abbotis, priouris, and utheris prelatis and minesteris of halykirk.

I denounce, proclamis, and declaris all and sindry the committaris of the said saikles murthris, slauchteris, brinying, heirchippes, reiffis, thiftis and spulezeis, oppinly apon day licht and under silence ofnicht, alswele within temporale landis as kirklandis; togither with thair partakeris, assitaris, supplearis, wittandlie resettaris of thair personis, the gudes reft and stollen be thaim, art or part thereof, and their counsalouris and defendouris, of thair evil dedis generalie CURSIT, waryit, aggregeite, and reaggregeite, with the GREIT CURSING.

At his cursing blog, Buddha's Black Dog, Edwin Moore quotes Archbishop Gavin Dunbar's curse against the border reivers. Dunbar, whom George MacDonald Fraser called one of "the great cursers of all time," consigns the reivers "perpetualie to the deip pit of hell, the remain with Lucifer and all his fallowis, and thair bodeis to the gallows of the Burrow Mure, first to be hangit, syne revin and ruggit with doggis, swyne, and utheris wyld beists, abhominable to all the warld." (Thanks for the link, Stewart!)

posted morning of April first, 2012: Respond
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Vonnegut on the radio

Yesterday's post at Letters of Note -- Vonnegut's letter to Charles McCarthy about the burning of his books -- inspired be to look through the Letters of Note archive for more by Vonnegut. There are some great things there; also, from reading that, I found a link to some archives of Vonnegut's radio show, which I never knew about, on WNYC in the late 90's: on God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, Kurt interviews the recently- and not-so-recently deceased to get their takes on heaven and earth, life and death...

posted morning of April first, 2012: Respond
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Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Let's Listen to

me and John.

You're welcome.

posted afternoon of March 31st, 2012: Respond
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La oración, hermana mía, no es una cuestión de técnica, sino una gracia.

In Chapter 11 of The Art of Resurrection, we hear the Christ of Elqui praying aloud for the first time in the book -- or at least the first time we have his prayer written out for our ears to follow. Magalena Mercado asked him to teach her a new prayer, as she feels like her Mary icon must be getting tired of the same old recitation, and he answers that "Prayer is not a matter of technique, o my sister, but a grace"; but as he is lying down to sleep he recites this prayer:

Santo Dios, Santo inmortal, Santo fuerte, Santo protector, líbranos de todo mal. Verbo divino, Verbo eterno, Verbo salvador, líbranos, Jesús mío, de todo dolor. Si no puedo amar, que no odie; si bien no puedo hacer, que no haga mal, que en tu gracia santificante, Señor nuestro, nos guíes con tu luz. Que así sea por siempre. Amén.
Lovely! (Magalena Mercado will learn this prayer in Chapter 24.)

posted morning of March 31st, 2012: 1 response
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Friday, March 30th, 2012

I can't stop cracking up, every time I hear myself say

"This is an old tune called The Red-Haired Boy".

Playing fiddle and putting together a slide show with some of ragebunny's designs. This tune seems almost infinitely pliable!

Update -- you can hear the whole gory thing here.

posted evening of March 30th, 2012: 5 responses
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Monday, March 26th, 2012

Structure in The art of resurrection

Chapter 9 is like Chapter 5, a single long paragraph telling Domingo Zárate Vega's back-story. I was thinking today about how these chapters are functioning in the structure of the book. They set off groups of chapters that are telling a fairly straight, linear story, and they are set at critical junctures -- at the end of Chapter 4 the Christ of Elqui is preparing to enter La Piojo; at the end of Chapter 8 he has at last met Magalena Mercado and is receiving an "urgent blowjob." The narrative voice in these chapters is a bit different from the narrative voice in the rest of the book, and I was thinking this might be Zárate Vega writing his memoirs -- I'm not sure about that, it doesn't sound much like the voice he uses in his dialogue.

Chapter 9 gives Zárate Vega's birthday as December 20, 1897 -- I am not clear about my arithmetic here* but I calculated last time I was reading this, that the events of Chapter 4 occur on December 19-20th, his 45th birthday.

The intervening chapters -- the Christ of Elqui's arrival in La Piojo, his sermon, the lunch he shares with the striking workers, his nap, the introduction of Magalena Mercado -- are some pure reading pleasure.

*ah yes -- this was not a calculation, Zárate Vega says in Chapter 15, when the emissaries from the union tell him it is the 21st, that yesterday, when he "almost died like a dog in the desert," was his forty-fifth birthday.

posted evening of March 26th, 2012: Respond
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Saturday, March 24th, 2012

At the end of our little universe

In honor of the man's birthday: here is one of my favorite Ferlinghetti poems.

The Painter's Dream

(from These are My Rivers)

I'm with Picasso and "Fernande in a Black Mantilla" looking tragic with turpentine like rain running down her shoulder
And I'm in Pontoise with Pisarro
And with Gauguin in "The Vanilla Grove"
And in the "Mountains of St. Remy" with Van Gogh
And at "The Bend in the Road through the Forest" with Cézanne
And with Vuillard in "The Place Vintimille"
And with Picasso and "El Loco" and his blue acrobats
And with Picasso shaking his fist at the sky in "Guernica"
And I'm Durer's Steeple-jack seen by Marianne Moore
And those harpies "The Demoiselles of Avignon" are glaring at me personally
And Degas' ballet dancers are dancing for Matisse and Monet and Renoir and all the Sunday painters of Paris and John Sloane and all the Sunday painters of America and most of the painters of the Hudson River School floating along so calm and holding hands with most of the West Coast Figurative painters and their Have a Nice Day cohorts
But I'm also with Malevich in his "Red Square" in the Beautiful Corner
And with Delacroix' "Liberty Leading the Masses"
And with Goya's groaning masses in "The Disasters of War"
And I'm rocking across the Atlantic with "Whistler's Mother"
And I'm crossing the Delaware with Washington standing in the boat against Navy regulations
And I'm with Bierstadt crossing the Rockies on a mule
And with Motherwell and DeKooning and Kline and Pollock and Larry Rivers in the broken light in the shaken light of the late late late twentieth century
And then I'm walking through a huge exhibition in the Whole World Museum of Art containing all the greatest paintings of the entire fine arts tradition of all the centuries of western civilization
When suddenly a wild-haired band bursts into the Museum and starts spraying paint-solvent onto all the paintings
And all the paint in all the paintings starts to run down onto the floors of all the galleries forming fantastic new and exciting images of the end of our little universe
And elite curators in Gucci shoes rush in and cut up the painted floors and hang them on the walls while picturesque bohemian painters in berets stagger through the halls weeping

posted afternoon of March 24th, 2012: 3 responses
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93

As I grow older I perceive
Life has its tail in its mouth
and other poets other painters
are no longer any kind of competition
It's the sky that's the challenge
the sky that still needs deciphering

— from "Poet as Fisherman"

Happy birthday Mr. Ferlinghetti!

posted morning of March 24th, 2012: Respond
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Stone Age Comix Page

Jan Magne Gjerde of the Tromsø University Museum has discovered some fascinating Stone Age art, at Lake Kanozero in northern Russia. Read about his findings at Science Nordic, with pictures of the etchings and of Gjerde's tracings.

via Orbis Quintus, where badger has been linking some great stories lately.

posted morning of March 24th, 2012: Respond
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