Sunday, June 28, 2009

TC: Clemente (1934 - 1972)



won’t forget
his nervous
habit of
rearing his
head back
on his neck
like a
proud horse

no olvidaré
su nerviosa
costumbre de
altar la
cabeza muy
como un
caballo de raza


Roberto Clemente
: photos from The Pennsylvania Department, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Thumbnail photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Spanish translation by Jose L. Varela-Ibarra

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thinking Of Michael

I was turned off by The Nation's blog on Michael Jackson this morning. Michael Jackson was one of the top practitioners of his art, which, for all its synthetic elements and crossover appeal, is ultimately an African-American form. He comes from the same mold as Louis Armstrong, Jellyroll Morton, King Oliver, and Bessie Smith. Those credentials were recognized in one of those the-planets-must-be-in-alignment situations when Quincy Jones agreed to produce Off The Wall in 1979. I was into Jackson before that album came out, and it was a secret pleasure. Everyone knew and loved The Jackson Five, but after that phase, they — and Motown in general — went into drift. By 1978, the black and white entertainment worlds had separated again. I was in Chicago at the time, and you heard white bands on white radio stations and black artists on black radio stations, and in Chicago, you had a lot of black music to choose from. One of my favorite deejays was named Pervis Spann. He had the rap to match his handle, and he spun some very cool sides. It may have been on his program that, heating up my tube Zenith, I tuned in to what MJ was releasing, which the white world really didn't care about. That is how I want to remember Michael Jackson. Not as the sexy but programmed 10-year-old. And certainly not as the artist and human being who lost his way. But as the epitome of a black form, with a beautiful face, a true innovator. Requiescat in pace.

Monday, June 22, 2009

TC: Fidelity


File:Arundinaria shiuyingiana 1.jpg

Fidelity, after long practice, to
The things that have crossed one's path in life,
Moves one to find "history" in a morning,
A moonlit night, a transitory patch
Of sun upon grass, the turning of a cat's
Sleek head over its shoulder to look back
Into one's eyes, a lifelong lover's touch,
The memory of the shy sweet sidelong
Smile of a friend one may not see again
In "this life"--these things define home
To one now that one lives largely in one's mind--
As though there had ever been any other
Place--once born, once having existed--
In which to somehow locate a world

File:Dew on grass Luc Viatour.jpg

Because brief hours before fadeout life becomes
A late awakening, much as one assumes
Is the experience of "lost" generations
Whose youth is turned back toward childhood by
Dreams; just so one's own dim youth now at last
Appears a kind of slumber from which the slow
Process of waking took a half century
Or so, as time now opens up its eyes,
Yawns, stretches, struggles in dark to discover
Where it is among whirling things, places, years.
But of course one will never fully emerge
From this fog, nor in one's heart wish to do so,
For mere excursions don't suffice on visits
To dead cities--excavation too's required,
Cries out the hungry unborn poem
Within us, demanding to exist as
If alive

File:Australia vs India.jpg

Arundinaria shiuyingiana at Eagle's Nest: photo by Minghong, 2009
Dew on grass: photo by Luc Viatour, 2007
Australia vs. India: photo by Ricky212, 2006

Fidelity: from The New World, Libellum Books (forthcoming)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TC: Daily News


[WOMAN AND WINDOW DISPLAY] by George Eastman House.

Dying day pinches the tot
He grabs my pen and beads
And plays into my hands
His father’s skull glistens
Across his wife’s white arms

The past bursts on a flower
And softly erases its bulb
We hear this going on all around
Night packs the traffic in cotton
And 1st Ave. fruit stands in opal

It is his first day to hurl a toy
But a gray torch rises in the future
Like a pair of scissors
The dark unravels towards
As I return to my newspaper

1st Ave by George Eastman House.

Woman and Window Display
: photo by James Jowers, 1968 (George Eastman House Collection)
1st Ave
: photo by James Jowers, 1966 (George Eastman House Collection)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

TC: On the Lagunitas Road


File:Looking north from Barnabe Fire Road in Samuel P Taylor Park.jpg

Light spray over a daisy chain of days.
Many wives, brought on rocking boats,
Dissolve into one loved damsel.
Jury of Sighs, it is Time
To load the back with groceries.
Did I drive right? Risky slopes
Deer start across, hushed timber
Cool and the engine smoking.
When mouths of fog cover the truck
Pushed by wind, the ocean sends
Us violet shrouds, bears
Brush us in the dark eucalyptus.
Where the hawk dives, a flowing zone
Lights the road. A brown head whispers,
Friend of a lonesome man
In the restless advance of trees
And cars, signalling the way.

File:Sherbrooke forest Victoria 220rs.jpg


Looking north from Barnabe Fire Road, Samuel P. Taylor State Park: photo by Miguel v, 2003
Sherbrooke Forest: photo by Patche99z
'49 Chevrolet 3100 1/2 ton and '54 deluxe: photo by Writegeist, 2007

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TC: Postconceptualism


File:Robot-human-face onscreen.jpg

I like breathing better than wireless ideation
But strange is the human meat
When it is ripped out of the atmosphere
And arrows are shot into it

File:Giovanni Baleison - Main altar in the Cappella San Sebastiano - detail.jpg

Nothing is personal then

And everything is true
Including love's great circumambience
And the skull in the mirror

File:Acherontia lachesis.jpg

File:Odznaka Dywizjonu Huzarów Śmierci wz. 1920 - replika.jpg

The mortal intimation
Of souls of beings long since lost
In a forgotten past
And the deep pink nescience

Of the thought evacuated tissue
Glaring back at you
Through the empty eyeholes
In the mask

File:Plante Mask.jpg

She Sees Him (Human Emulation Robot): photo by Steve Jurvetson, 2004
Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (detail): Giovanni Baleison, 1484 (Main altar, Cappella San Sebastiano, Marmora, Cuneo, Italy)
Death's-head Hawkmoth (Acherontia lachesis): photo by Trevor Hartsell, 2006
Polish Death Hussar Insignia 1920, from M. Gajewski, Replika odznaki Dywizjonu Huzarów Smierci, 1920: photo by Kuczman, 2009
Jacques Plante's original fiberglass goaltender's mask (1959): photo by Horge, 2008

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TC: Light Sleeper

File:Balloon over Luxor - Egypt.jpg

As all the ballast of familiar life
Floated away from the hot air balloon
That was taking me in far-travelling mood
Over vast still mountains once glimpsed in dreams
I felt my foolishness in the domain
Of the air like a kind of punctuation
Applied to a page before a word’s written
By that great Friend who, scattered everywhere
In the universe, seems to piece together
The floorplans of the endarkened rooms
Of this great city by negative design
Until the shapes before my eyes became
Obscure as all those lost relationships,
As all the ballast of familiar life

File:Balloons Mara.jpg

Early morning balloon flight over the West Bank in Luxor, Egypt: photo by Marcosleal, 2004
Hot air balloons over the Masai Mara, Kenya: photo by Whit Welles, 2007

Saturday, June 6, 2009

TC: Post-Election (After Baudelaire)

File:Bee and jatropha.jpg

The world's pretty much worn out. The only argument for keeping it going is based on the fact that it exists. A poor argument, given the far better arguments to the contrary. It no longer has a function or a purpose. What's there left for it to do?


And even should the world, out of sheer stubborn force of habit, manage to go on materially existing, will this existence be superior to simply throwing in the towel and heading for the hills -- the hills where everything interesting stopped happening centuries, maybe light years ago?

File:Aglais urticae 3 Luc Viatour.JPG

Who'd possibly be interested in all that history?

File:Hummingbird hawkmoth a.jpg

Am I saying everything will collapse and those of us left alive will wander the ruins, hunting down our next meal? No, we're already doing that. And we're proving not so good at it.

File:Bumblebee on Echinacea Flower.JPG

The problem is we're simply too feeble, we've lost whatever it was may once have enabled our ancestors to survive in the rough.
The subtle enduring energies and intuitive
cunning skills: the world has Americanized them out of existence in the name of technological progress. The American idea of progress has atrophied the spirit of the world.


We dreamt our brilliant utopias and played out our overwhelming conquests of nature, mounted our marvelous religious wars in the name of paper gods. The outcome will betray the dream, the conquest be reversed, the wars lost over and over.


Our claim to earth ended with the decline of primogeniture. What will be left for the eldest son, no longer the elected one, to do, save to exact revenge by stealing the sustenance of hungry young animals? But even that won't be the worst thing that happens.

File:Hibernaculum sweepings.jpg

(after Baudelaire's Fusées)

Bee seeking Jatropha interrima nectar: photo by Sanba 38, 2007

Bee pollinating a Neomarica candida: photo by M.A.P. Accardo Filho, 2004

Aglais urticae: photo by Luc Viatour, 2006

Hummingbird hawkmoth drinking from Dianthus
: photo by Yummifruitbat, 2005

Bumblebee pollinating an echinacea flower: photo by Mgimelfarb, 2008

E. popovi, Javalcluz, Jae
n: photo by Jose M. Gomez, 2008

A bee pollinating a water-lily flower: photo by KayEss, 2005

Hibernaculum sweepings: photo by PixOnTrax, 2006

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

TC: Blanqui: L'éternité par les astres

File:Pleiades large.jpg

The Pleiades: open cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus: images from Schmitt Telescope, Palomar Observatory

The entire universe is composed of stellar systems. In order to create them nature has only one hundred simple bodies at its disposal. Despite the prodigious profit it knows how to make from its resources, and the incalculable number of combinations these allow its fecundity, the result is necessarily a finite number, like that of the elements themselves. And in order to fill the entire expanse nature must infinitely repeat each of its original or generic combinations.

Every star, whatever it might be, thus exists in infinite number in time and space, not only in one of its aspects, but as it is found in every second of its duration, from birth until death. All the beings spread across its surface, big or little, animate or inanimate, share in this privilege of perennity.

File:The sun1.jpg

The sun, as seen from the surface of earth through a camera lens: photo by Lykaestria, 2005

The earth is one of these stars. Every human being is thus eternal in every second of its existence. What I write now in a cell in the fort of Taureau I wrote and will write under the same circumstances for all of eternity, on a table, with a pen, wearing clothing. And so for all.

One after another all these earths are submerged in renovatory flames, to be re-born there and to fall into them again, the monotonous flowing of an hourglass that eternally turns and empties itself. It is something new that is always old; something old that is always new.

File:Betelgeuse star (Hubble).jpg

Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), red supergiant: Hubble Telescope image (NASA/ESA)

Those curious about extra-terrestrial life will nevertheless smile at a mathematical conclusion that grants them not only immortality but eternity. The number of our doubles is infinite in time and space. In all conscience, we can hardly ask for more. These doubles are of flesh and blood, or in pants and coats, in crinoline and chignon. These aren’t phantoms: they are the now eternalized.

There is nevertheless a great defect: there is, alas, no progress! No, these are vulgar re-editions, repetitions. As it is with editions of past worlds, so it is with those of future worlds. Only the chapter of bifurcations remains open to hope. Never forget that all we could have been here, we are somewhere else.

File:Sirius A and B artwork.jpg

White dwarf star in orbit around Sirius: artist's impression: G. Bacon (NASA/ESA)

Progress here is only for our nephews. They are luckier than us. All the beautiful things that our globe will see our future descendants have already seen, see now, and will always see in the form of doubles who preceded them and who follow them. Children of a better humanity, they have already scoffed at us and mocked us on dead earths, passing there after us. From living earths from which we have disappeared they continue to condemn us; and on earths to be born, they will forever pursue us with their contempt.

They and we, as well as all the guests of our planet, are born over again as prisoners of the moment and place that destiny assigns us in its series of avatars. Our perennity is an appendix of its perennity. We are but partial phenomena of its resurrections. Men of the 19th Century, the hour of our apparition is forever fixed, and we are returned always the same, at best with the possibility of happy variants. There is nothing much there to satisfy the thirst for what is better. What then is to be done? I haven’t sought my happiness; I have sought after truth. You will find here neither a revelation nor a prophet, but a simple deduction from the spectral analysis and cosmogony of Laplace. These two discoveries make us eternal. Is this a godsend? We should profit from it. Is it a mystification? We should resign ourselves to it.

Crab Nebula: mosaic image taken by Hubble Telescope (NASA)

But isn’t it a consolation to know ourselves to constantly be, on millions of planets, in the company of our beloved, who is today naught but a memory? Is it another, on the other hand, to think that we have tasted and will eternally taste this happiness in the shape of a double, of millions of doubles! Yet this is what we are. For many of the small minded this happiness through substitutes is somewhat lacking in rapture. They would prefer three or four supplementary years of the current edition to all the duplicates of the infinite. In our century of disillusionment and skepticism we are keen at clinging to things.

But deep down this eternity of man through the stars is melancholy, and sadder still this sequestration of brother-worlds through the barrier of space. So many identical populations that pass each other without suspecting their mutual existence! But yes! It has finally been discovered at the end of the 19th Century. But who will believe it?

File:Mira 1997.jpg

Mira, oscillating red giant : Margarita Karovska, 1997 (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/NASA)

And in any event, up till now the past represented barbarism to us, and the future signified progress, science, happiness, illusion! This past has seen brilliant civilizations disappear without leaving a trace on all our double-worlds; and they will disappear without leaving anymore of them. On millions of earths the future will see the ignorance, stupidity, and cruelty of our former ages.

At the present time the entire life of our planet, from birth until death, is being detailed day by day with all its crimes and misfortunes on a myriad of brother-stars. What we call progress is imprisoned on every earth, and fades away with it. Always and everywhere in the terrestrial field the same drama, the same décor; on the same limited stage a boisterous humanity, infatuated with its greatness, believing itself to be the universe, and living in its prison as if it were immense spaces, only to soon fall along with the globe that carried — with the greatest disdain — the burden of its pride. The same monotony, the same immobility on foreign stars. The universe repeats itself endlessly and paws the ground in place. Eternity infinitely and imperturbably acts out the same performance.


The reflection nebula NGC 1999 illuminated by V380 Orionis (NASA)

Louis Auguste Blanqui, L'éternité par les astres, Librairie Germer Bailliére, 1872, Paris; trans. Mitch Abidor for marxists. org (with variants).

File:Betelgeuse star (Hubble).jpg