9.28.2022 – groping as we grope

groping as we grope
if heavens colors were like
music heard afar

Adapted from the poem, Spring, and the Blind Children by Alfred Noyes: from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1913 John Murray (Publishers) Ltd.

As much as I loved the line,

Or wondering, when they learned that leaves were green,
If colours were like music, heard afar?

Seems like the idea of music as colors has turned up before in this blog – and I believe there has been discussion of folks who do SEE color when listening to music.

Then there is the lines:

As though, for them, the Spring held nothing new;
And not one face was turned to look again.

And I think how to have never seen a sunset.

To have never looked back for that one last look.

I am reminded on the painting of the blind soldiers by John Singer Sargent.

Once again the line from The Color Purple comes to mind that “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

Spring , and the Blind Children

They left the primrose glistening in its dew.
With empty hands they drifted down the lane,
As though, for them, the Spring held nothing new;
And not one face was turned to look again.

Like tiny ghosts, along their woodland aisle,
They stole. They did not leap or dance or run.
Only, at times, without a word or smile,
Their small blind faces lifted to the sun;

Innocent faces, desolately bright,
Masks of dark thought that none could ever know;
But O, so small to hide it. In their night
What dreams of our strange world must come and go;

Groping, as we, too, grope for heavens unseen;
Guessing – at what those fabulous visions are;
Or wondering, when they learned that leaves were green,
If colours were like music, heard afar?

Were brooks like bird-song ? Was the setting sun
Like scent of roses, or like evening prayer ?
Were stars like chimes in heaven, when day was done;
Was midnight like their mothers’ warm soft hair?

And dawn? – a pitying face against their own,
A whispered word, an unknown angel’s kiss,
That stoops to each, in its own dark, alone;
But leaves them lonelier for that breath of bliss ?

Was it for earth’s transgressions that they paid –
Lambs of that God whose eyes with love grow dim –
Sharing His load on whom all wrongs are laid ?
But O, so small to bear it, even with Him!

God of blind children, through Thy dreadful light
They pass. We pass. Thy heavens are all so near.
We cannot grasp them in our earth-bound night.
But O, Thy grief! For Thou canst see and hear.

9.27.2022 – evidence not seem

evidence not seem
sufficiently conclusive
always that problem

According to a recent article, the tomb of Egyptian queen Nefertiti may been located in Egypt.

The article states that :

The discovery of hidden hieroglyphics within Tutankhamun’s tomb lends weight to a theory that the fabled Egyptian queen Nefertiti lies in a hidden chamber adjacent to her stepson’s burial chamber, a world-renowned British Egyptologist has said.

The bust of Nefertiti at the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

The article concludes with this wonderful paragraph.

George Ballard, a leading specialist in radar and geophysical investigations of buildings and structures, is as excited by the new discovery as he is convinced that a false wall blocks an entrance to an extension of the tomb: “The evidence that we have so far does suggest that there is a man-made structure forming the north wall and the east wall of the Treasury. The east wall of the Treasury is probably natural stone that appears to have been cut or formed as a wall. There is evidence of man-made structure, although that did not seem sufficiently conclusive to some people. This is always the problem in science.”

There is evidence of man-made structure, although that did not seem sufficiently conclusive to some people.

This is always the problem in science.

Ain’t it the truth?

Some folks just won’t understand facts.

Kind of reminds me of the story of Enrico Fermi constructing the first self sustaining nuclear reactor pile.

Them fellers were 99% sure they wouldn’t set the world on fire though they left a mark on nuclear power to this day by designating someone to be the ‘Safety Control Rod Axe Man’ whose job was to use an axe to cut the rope that the would drop a control rod that ‘MIGHT’ bring a runaway nuclear reaction under control.

That acronym for this job was SCRAM just seemed to fit as in, CUT THE ROPE AND RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, and to this day the button that shuts off a nuclear pile is called the SCRAM button.

Fermi had this guy in place the nuclear reaction went out of control so he was prepared.

On the other hand, the experimental nuclear pile that had a chance to set the world on fire was set up in downtown Chicago.

The remains of the lab are buried there to this day.

Buried under signs that read DO NOT DIG IN THIS AREA.

But Fermi was convinced that there would be no end of the world scenario.

The evidence was against something like that happening although the evidence did not seem sufficiently conclusive to some people.

There is always that problem in science.

9.26.2022 – be disappointed

be disappointed,
may be angry, frustrated
but rarely shocked

So its fall so sports will turn up a little more often as Michigan continues its march to be the first college team with 1,000 football victories.

I start by asking just how bad a time was the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan.

He lasted all of three years at Michigan with a 15-22 record.

Over the years since Michigan began playing football in 1883, they have averaged 7 wins a season to get to 920 so far.

Rich Rod was 6 wins below that average.

But here is the thing.

In 2008, with the Morgantown Miracle worker in charge, Michigan lost to Toledo.

Toledo beat Michigan, got that?

Toledo beat Michigan AND fired their coach!

There was a time where any team any where any time that managed to BEAT MICHIGAN, the Coach of that team would get a building on campus named after them.

me and my little brother

There was a time where any team any where any time that managed to BEAT MICHIGAN, the Coach of that team could count on his next contract to be the big one.

You know that time.

That time last year.

Michigan gave up 5 touchdowns to the same player (hmmmm maybe tackle the guy with the ball?) and Sparty walked off with win and Coach Mel Tucker walked off with $95 Million Dollars and a 10 year contract in his pocket.

In many ways, Michigan was back and beating Michigan was worth something once again.

Of course, as with the morning after hangover that often makes you question the actions of the night before, this year is a new year.

And while Sparty fans have the hope which springs eternal in the human breast, reports are that in the loss in Minnesota Saturday,  more than a few got up to go in deep despair and today there is no joy in Mudville.

Sparty fans are looking back, perhaps fondly, on the Legion of Gloom and Mark Dantonio.

Still it is early and the chuckle heads still have Michigan on their schedule, so they have reason to hope for a good year.

I enjoyed Mr. Tuckers comments in reply to a question if he was shocked by the loss to the Golder Gophers.

Mr. Tucker said, AND I QUOTE, “There’s really nothing that happens out there that’s like a shock to me, just because I’ve seen too much football. I’m not really shocked. I may be disappointed. I may be angry. I may get frustrated at times, which I do, but we all want to compete and play better and win. But I’m rarely shocked at something I see on the football field.

Shocked?

The man has 95 million reasons to not be shocked.

If that doesn’t shock him, then I have to agree that there’s really nothing that happens out there that’s like a shock.

9.25.2022 – bring your whole self to

bring your whole self to
work fully show up ourselves
to be truly seen

According to an article I just read, the latest trend in Human Resources — say that out loud and ask yourself what exactly was wrong with the term, personnel — anyway … the latest trend in HR is Bring Your Whole Self to Work which means being able “to fully show up” and “allow ourselves to be truly seen” in the workplace because it’s “essential” to create a work environment “where people feel safe enough to bring all of who they are to work.”

Thankfully the article, Do Not Bring Your ‘Whole Self’ to Work, a New York Times Opinion piece by Pamela Paul, rejects the concept.

As I understand, the point is to get people excited about being back in a common workplace about almost 3 years of covid and working from home.

Ms. Paul writes, ‘But “bringing your whole self to work” is a cheap benefit — easier for employers to provide than, say, a raise — and one vague enough to be largely meaningless.

Nor is it available to the majority of the American work force.

Nobody is asking a line worker or customer service representative to add more personal vulnerability to the enterprise.

For most gainfully employed people, it’s not work’s job to provide self-fulfillment or self-actualization.

It’s to put food on the table.’

You have to love vague enough to be largely meaningless.

It a way it was almost comforting to learn that after almost 3 years of covid, HR has not moved away from Office Space or Dilbert/

I am human.

I am a resource.

Should be good enough.

9.24.2022 – writers write from pain

writers write from pain
he closed up all wounds, all can
write are these small things

The diaries of Alan Rickman were recently published.

The review I read stated, “Why he kept a diary is unclear. Diarists come in all shapes, and their reasons for recording their lives are similarly diverse.”

My question is, did he know or want them to ever be published.

Historian Edmund Morris wrote that one cannot read the private letters and diary of Theodore Roosevelt with out feeling that TR knew and wanted them to be published to the point that letters were not so much written to any one person as much to posterity.

I cannot say I am much of an Alan Rickman fan and then I think about all the movies I have seen in him and I say my gosh was that Alan Rickman?

Die Hard, Love Actually, one of those Jane Austen period pieces and all those Harry Potter movies that I have never seen made from books that I have never read (there, I said it, I have not read any Harry Potter)

I skimmed through the excerpts of the diaries because of the tag line, “two decades of Rickman’s withering film reviews.

Few things I enjoy reading more than withering film reviews except maybe the back story behind withering film reviews.

Like Pauline Kael writing that The Sound of Music was “the single most repressive influence on artistic freedom in movies” and getting fired from her job because of writing that.

But this is all digression.

What caught my eye was a comment Mr. Rickman wrote into his diary on December 29, 2000 when he had a four hour conversation with Edna O’Brien.

Josephine Edna O’Brien is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short-story writer and Philip Roth described her as “the most gifted woman now writing in English”, all according to wikipedia.

Mr. Rickman quoted Ms. O’Brien commenting on Harold Pinter, the play write.

Just to keep this all straight, I am repeating something Alan Rickman wrote down that he claimed Edna O’Brien said about another person, Harold Pinter.

Got it straight now?

He said that she said that “The trouble is writers write from pain and Harold has closed up all his wounds, so all he can write now are these small things.”

Of late I have been bothered by, OF ALL THINGS, the quality of my haiku.

Not that I am any great poet let alone a poet let alone a writer.

I pretty much set at my keyboard and my fingers ran away which you can tell from typos and grammar all too often.

Still, when I read some of my earlier stuff, I think, this isn’t too bad.

The stuff inspired by a bizarre work environment and daily commutes in and out of Atlanta, Georgia and an extended family situation that was less than settled.

Now I pretty much enjoy my job.

My commute, when I have to go in to the office, if across tidal wetlands on palm tree lined roads.

And my kids, for the most part, are slowly getting their act together (though lots of rough edges remain).

Recently a friend commented that I ‘ … have a charmed life.’

I cannot argue.

Maybe I have closed up all the wounds.

Maybe all I can write are these small things.

If I have to complain, what I complain about is mostly that covid fatigue (along with political fatigue – well this soap opera ever end?)

Can I call those wounds?

Hardly.

I live a charmed life.

I should start acting like I know that.

9.23.2022 – morning light moon light

morning light moon light
everything shines, little words
slowly read story

Breakage by Mary Oliver –

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

That’s my wish.

And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?

So says Burt Lancaster in the role of Moonlight Graham in the movie, Field of Dreams.

In book, Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella, Doc Graham says, “That’s what I wish, Ray Kinsella, whoever you are. Is there enough magic floating around out in the night for you to make it come true?”

What Ray thinks of is something Joe Jackson said to him.

This is the kind of place where anything can happen, isn’t it?”

They were thinking of Iowa.

I am thinking of the beach.

I love to sit and watch and begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

Anything can happen.


9.22.2022 – mystics of the fact

mystics of the fact
and a mystic can’t judge: can
only bless or hate

Based in the essay Character, by Antonio Gramsci, in  Il Grido del Popolo, March 3, 1917;

Our adversaries don’t worry themselves with judging the attitude of socialists in the same way as they do principles and methods that the socialists have always professed and followed. Doing do this would mean truly considering them and doing something concrete. They don’t even attempt this judgment, being incapable of it.

They lose their way when placed before men of character, grope about in the darkness, giving up all hope in the blind alleys of gossip, of slander, of defamation. They don’t understand a straightforward, strictly coherent demeanor. They are hypnotized by facts, by current events. They don’t understand the man of character, who weighs and judges facts not in and of themselves as much as in their relationship with the past and the future; that facts are thus judged primarily for their effect, their eternal nature. They are mystics of the fact. And a mystic can’t judge: he can only bless or hate.

But this is the strength of Italian socialists. To have preserved character. To have succeeded in defeating sentimentality, to have succeeded in throttling the throbbing of the heart as a stimulus to action, as a stimulus to the manifestations of collective life. In this period of history the Italian Socialists have realized for historic ends humanity in its most perfect form. A humanity that doesn’t fall into the easy traps of illusion. A humanity that has rejected as useless and harmful the inferior forms of spiritual life: the impulses of the tender heart and sentimentality.

They have rejected this consciously. Because they knew how to assimilate the teachings of their greatest teachers, as well as the teachings that are spontaneously produced by bourgeois reality, bitten into by the reagents of socialist criticism. The Italian Socialists have remained steadfast in their ranks determined by the demands of the social class. As a collective they are not disturbed by the painful spectacles that are presented to them. As a collective they don’t faint when the still breathing corpse of a murdered child is thrown at their feet. The commotion that every individual has felt, the heartache, the sympathy that every individual has felt hasn’t scratched the granite-like compactness of the class.

If every individual has a heart, the class, as such, does not have a heart in the sense that feeble humanism usually gives it. The class has a will, the class has a character. All of its life is molded by this determination, this character, with nothing left over. As a class it can have no other form of solidarity than that of class, no other form of struggle than that of class, no other nation than the class, that is, the International. Its heart is nothing but the consciousness of its class being, the consciousness of its ends, the consciousness of its future. Of the future that is its alone, for which it demands the solidarity and collaboration of no one, for which it doesn’t desire the throbbing of anyone’s heart. There only throbs, in its immense dynamic and creative potential, its tenacious determination, implacable towards all who are foreign to it.

Our adversaries don’t understand this. In Italy character is not understood. And this is the only thing in which the Socialists can benefit and have benefited Italianness. They have given Italy that which it has lacked up till the present moment: A living and dramatically throbbing example of an adamantine and superbly proud character.

Antonio Francesco Gramsci was an Italian Marxist philosopher, journalist, linguist, writer, and politician. He wrote on philosophy, political theory, sociology, history, and linguistics. He was a founding member and one-time leader of the Communist Party of Italy. (Wikipedia)

9.21.2022 – and treated him as

and treated him as
if he was a halfwit – most
people do these days

I DO like how Brit’s can turn a phrase in the same manner in which they might turn a knife into someone’s rib cage.

Consider this paragraph:

Miliband treated Rees-Mogg as if he was a halfwit. Most people do these days. Long gone are the times when MPs were impressed by his faux politeness and smug self-confidence, squeezed into an oversized undertaker’s suit. Now people see him for the needy fraud that he is.

this is the half-wit himself – Mr. Rees-Mogg does have that Barney Fife/Gomer Pyle look doesn’t he?

The article, Tories usher in their brave new world of half-arsed fantasy by John Crace, got better.

Maybe we need to introduced half-arsed into our lexicon.

Consider again these paragraphs (I can feel the fun as Mr. Crace’s fingers typed them out.)

But she has at least chosen her new health secretary wisely. Because when you’ve got no ideas, who better than Thérèse Coffey? A woman of no imagination and no great brain. But someone who can be relied to come up with some nonsense on the back of a cigar packet.

Sure enough, Coffey did not disappoint, coming up with – in the absence of a plan – a memory game. A was for Ambulance. B was for Backlog. C was for Care. D was for Doctor. And E was for total fucking Eejit. Poor Thérèse. She didn’t realise how shabby and half-arsed her ideas were.

The sad part, as in all political commentary, is the writing is about people who are making the decisions, the real decisions, that really do affect us all.

As Mr. Crace concluded his writing, “Truly we are screwed”.

9.20.2022 – occupational

occupational
citizenship behaviors
leaving work on time

In an article about the quiet quitting concept, Mr. James Tapper wrote:

Rather than working late on a Friday evening, organising the annual team-building trip to Slough or volunteering to supervise the boss’s teenager on work experience, the quiet quitters are avoiding the above and beyond, the hustle culture mentality, or what psychologists call “occupational citizenship behaviours”.

Instead, they are doing just enough in the office to keep up, then leaving work on time and muting Slack. Then posting about it on social media.

Occupational citizenship behaviours.

These, I think used to be called ‘Conventions‘ as in, “The conventions demand it.

In the movie Revenge (which is based on a Jim Harrison short story but achieved more fame when Kevin Costner told the story that he was signed up to do the movie ‘Revenge’ and the script went into re-write and Costner asked how long it would take as if there was enough time, he was going to go do this baseball movie in Iowa), the killer anti-hero says out loud something along the lines of , ‘I have to do this. The conventions demand it … I don’t even know what means.’

Occupational citizenship behaviours.

I do know what that means and while I am back in the office only two days a week so far, I just don’t want to have to follow through with them anymore.

Suffice it say, leaving work on time used to go against the conventions.

9.19.2022 – ameliorations

ameliorations,
all of the human lot, these
strivings towards light

Adapted from Victoria of England by Edith Sitwell, 1936, BY FABER AND FABER LIMITED, 24 RUSSELL SQUARE, LONDON.

Dame Sitwell wrote in the final paragraphs, “Hers had been such a long life, and it had seen the beginning of a new era. On the day of the Diamond Jubilee, by means of touching an electric button, her message had been sent to her people of the Dominions. Hers had not been the same world as that which was known by her father and her uncles. She had used a telephone, travelled in a train, her voice had been recorded on a gramophone, her photograph was familiar to those over whom she ruled. The whole of the hospital system had been reformed, the use of chloroform, which had so astonished Mr Greville, was now general; the sanitary system was now in good working order, so that the country was no longer swept by appalling plagues of typhus and cholera. The penal system, too, had been changed, and the horrors of transportation and of public executions were abolished. No longer were the work-houses the People’s Bastille, nor did the terrible Debtors’ Prison exist. The state of the workers was much ameliorated, their wages were put on a better scale; the divorce laws were less cruel, and there was some attempt to ease the hard lives of children born out of wedlock.

All these ameliorations of the human lot, these strivings towards the light, had been brought about in her lifetime. But now the Queen of England was tired, and she wanted rest. The trees were silent because of the secret of the coming spring that they held within them, and as the carriage drove beneath the violet boughs the shadows seemed to grow longer.” 

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any previous British monarch and is known as the Victorian era.

It was the record for almost over 100 years.