10.2.2022 – feed me in sorrow

feed me in sorrow
laugh in all my pain burn freeze
I find no peace yet

I can think of many inventors.

Thomas Edison and the electric light.

Thomas Edison and the phonograph.

Thomas Edison and the cement house.

Ah, well.

Then there is Thomas Wyatt.

Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Sir Thomas lived, worked and wrote during the era of Henry VIII.

He lived to be the ripe old age of 39, which for someone in Henry VIII’s posse, that might be considered to be a old aged.

When Henry wanted to be free of Anne Boleyn, his 2nd wife (I won’t keep you long as Henry was known to tell his wives), Ms. Boleyn was charge with adultery.

Ms. Boleyn was sent to the Tower of London and the Tower Police rounded up the usual suspects which included Sir Thomas.

I think it is almost still common knowledge today that Ms. Boleyn had her head chopped off by orders of the King.

What I didn’t know was the five other men charged the case, George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton, were also executed.

Some historians think that Sir Thomas was imprisoned in a cell with a view of the tower green and was able to watch as all five men were beheaded and then, 2 days later, watch the same for Ms. Boleyn.

Things calmed down a bit after that and Sir Thomas was restored to favor with the King.

A glance at his short life his Sir Thomas in and out and in and out of favor with the King on almost a seasonal basis.

Then Sir Thomas dies.

Years after his death, in 1557, a collection of some 97 to 130 or so poems that Sir Thomas wrote in his lifetime was published.

As scholars looked them over, they realized some were pretty good poems and were in face, sonnets.

Then the scholars looked at the dates and realized that they were written some years before Shakespeare.

Thusly, Sir Thomas Wyatt invented the sonnet.

Alas, like some many inventors whose inventions reach acclaim after the inventor has passed on, Sir Thomas never knew it.

I find the sonnet I Find no Peace to be a great source of words for haiku and I have quoted it often.

Having just learned the Anne Boleyn connection I wonder.

I wonder if he watched.

I wonder if he heard.

The sound of the axe.

The roar of the crowd.

Did he listen for the key in the door that day?

Would the knowledge that his poems survived been any comfort?

And yet and yet.

And time and time.

300 years later, Mr. Thoreau would say his famous, The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

I find no peace, and all my war is done.
I fear and hope. I burn and freeze like ice.

I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I season.

That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison
And holdeth me not — yet can I scape no wise—

Nor letteth me live nor die at my device,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.

Without eyen I see, and without tongue I plain.
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health.

I love another, and thus I hate myself.
I feed me in sorrow and laugh in all my pain;

Likewise displeaseth me both life and death,
And my delight is causer of this strife.

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)

9.19.2022 – 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.

9.17.2022 – I always had a

I always had a
motto – I make the number
number don’t make me

Reading the article, Julio Jones primed for a revival with Buccaneers after strong start as Tom Brady target, I enjoyed a bit of writing and a quote from Mr. Jones.

Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY wrote that:

“Julio can play,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles trumpeted on Sunday night, echoing the tone he expressed during training camp. “We keep saying it all along. He got in shape. He got healthy. He’s a warrior. He’s one of those guys that’s going to come out every week and compete.”

He’s also a guy with a new ID.

Jones is wearing No. 6 for the Bucs. It’s nothing sentimental, nothing superstitious.

“It’s just a number, man,” he said. “I didn’t want to take nobody out of their number. It was, ‘Whatever’s available, I’m going to take it.’ No significance.”

Brady’s backup, Blaine Gabbert, wears No. 11 for the Bucs. Third-string quarterback Kyle Trask is No. 2, the jersey number Jones had last year with the Tennessee Titans.

“I always had a motto, man: I make the number, the number don’t make me,” Jones declared. “That’s how I go about it

I liked that.

I always had a motto, man: I make the number, the number don’t make me.

I am reminded of being back in High School at Grand Rapids Creston in the late 1970’s.

This was in the OLD GYM Creston before they built the new gym and way before the decision was made to close the school.

The OLD GYM was so small that in winter months gym class took turns between the boys and girls and who got to use the gym and who had an alternative class.

Alternative meant a movie or maybe a Gym Teacher led lecture class on some topic.

One teacher I had like to give a quiz on sports rules to see what we didn’t know about sports.

He would call on individual students one at a time.

One time, I got this this question.

What are the limits on numbers on basketball uniforms and why?

I did not understand the question.

The teacher rephrased it as what numbers can you have on a basketball uniform and why?

That didn’t help.

The teacher, Don Edwards, who really was pretty cool but thought I was one of the oddest people he had ever had in class, stared at me and said, “Come on Hoffman.”

I felt out of place in gym class often but rarely did I feel stupid and at that moment I felt really dumb.

I stared right back and said, “Okay, I give up. What numbers CAN you have in basketball and why.”

Coach Edwards shook his head and said, “Oh come on. You can only have combinations of 1 thru 5.”

That was the dumbest thing I had ever heard.

“You know, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 … 31,32, 33, 34, 35 … only combinations of 1 through 5.”

My eyes must have glazed over as I listened but I did manage to say, “Why?”

“So the ref can signal the scorer with the number of any player with two hands.”

Coach Edwards them demonstrated, “Foul on number 15.”

And he held up 1 finger on the left hand and 5 fingers on the right.

“Basket by number 33” and he help up three and three.

At once I was struck by the meaning and the simple magic in it.

Basketball numbers had limits.

Limits created by the five fingers on our hands.

I understood.

That made 33 THE number to have.

Think of the great 33’s (starting the list with Cazzie Russell)

I understood.

And in that moment I suddenly understood the magic involved in the silent protest and statement of using an illegal number.

DR J and number 6.

Big Bob Lanier wearing number 16.

I understood.

I make the number, the number don’t make me.

9.15.2022 – against the swell of

against the swell of
history in the room future
felt like a footnote

Reading this wonderful article about The Old Printshop, that asked the questions, How do you relocate more than 100 years’ worth of (haphazardly organized) fine art, maps and prints?

The last paragraph of the story read:

During a lull in the packing, Scott and his uncle paused to admire a wall-size map of New York City commissioned by the British government in 1766 (and now priced at $325,000). Their conversation rolled back in time, from Revolutionary War strategy to the burning of the Library of Alexandria to the fall of ancient Carthage and beyond. Against the swell of history in the room, the future felt like a footnote.

8.31.2022 – miss above all things

miss above all things
is the kindness of half a
century ago

Adapted from a passage in the book, Past imperfect by Julian Fellowes (2009) New York : St. Martin’s Press.

Mr. Fellowes wrote, again in 2009, that:

There’s danger in it, obviously, but I no longer fight the sad realisation that the setting for my growing years seems sweeter to me than the one I now inhabit. Today’s young, in righteous, understandable defence of their own time, generally reject our reminiscences about a golden age when the customer was always right, when AA men saluted the badge on your car and policemen touched their helmet in greeting. Thank heaven for the end of deference, they say, but deference is part of an ordered, certain world and, in retrospect at least, that can feel warming and even kind. I suppose what I miss above all things is the kindness of the England of half a century ago. But then again, is it the kindness I regret, or my own youth?

I suppose what I miss above all things is the kindness of half a century ago.

But then again, is it the kindness I regret, or my own youth?

I am not sure.

I don’t think the world was so scared, so edgy, so chip-on-the-shoulder.

Maybe that was deference.

Maybe it was respect.

Maybe it was courtesy.

Maybe it was caring.

Whatever it was, it doesn’t seem to be around today.

And I miss it.

My youth?

Truly I am kind of glad I was a kid back when I was a kid.

And I feel sorry for my kids and my grandkids.

They might have more technology but I bet I had more fun.

If you aren’t familiar with Julian Fellowes I am happy to tell you that you are.

Much I what I feel I know about the British Aristocracy is from TV shows like Downton Abby and Monarch of the Glen or movies like Gosford Park and books like Snobs.

Watch all and you get to know certain themes about the Brits that become part of your collective conscious and as many of those themes are repeated in different shows and movies and books that I just named, well then, they must be accurate.

Then you find out there were all written by the same guy, Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford.

8.26.2022 – go for authentic

go for authentic
me, I can think of no
better description

Actress Kate Dickie was asked, “what’s the one thing she’d like readers to know about her?”

“Oh, I can’t answer that!” she laughs.

The interviewer asked her to think about it, and maybe email him.

A few weeks later, he got a reply: “I’ve really struggled with that question! I don’t know! But I think I’ll go for ‘authentic’.”

I can think of no better description, the writer wrote.

Adapted from Kate Dickie: ‘I think I’m happiest being in other people’s skin’ by Mark Kermode.

8.22.2022 – sensing mutual

sensing mutual
misfortune, solace seeking
… in chaos theory

incoming storm over the South Carolina Low Country

Adapted from a line of Jim Harrison’s in the Brown Dog Novella, “The Summer He Didn’t Die” (2006).

Mr. Harrison writes, “ … she felt a sense of mutual misfortune akin to looking for solace in chaos theory.”

I had to go the wikipedia for a refresher on Chaos Theory and it states: Chaos theory is an interdisciplinary scientific theory and branch of mathematics focused on underlying patterns and deterministic laws, of dynamical systems, that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, that were once thought to have completely random states of disorder and irregularities.

I do not second guess Mr. Harrison, but maybe in this case, consider Chaos, or as it is in the Greek, “Abyss” of early Greek cosmology, either the primeval emptiness of the universe before things came into being or the abyss of Tartarus, the underworld.

Considering all three, underlying patterns and deterministic laws, of dynamical systems, or the primeval emptiness of the universe or the underworld, there is not much solace to find in any of them.

Nevertheless, an apt description of the times we live in.

To which I respond with Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis!

Some solace there acutally.

Though the poet responded, Quo modo? fit semper tempore pejor homo!

Or …

The times change, and we change with them.

How’s that?

Mankind always gets worse with time!

Feel better now?

Can’t wait to see how all this turns out.

8.21.2022 – sunset evening

sunset evening
tide star moving seems asleep
and after that the dark

As I watched a freight outbound on the Savannah River I thought of Savannah’s own, Conrad Aiken and the lines carved in a bench at his gravesite.

The lines read:

Cosmos Mariner:

Destination Unknown

Today’s haiku is adapted from the famous Crossing the Bar by Alfred Tennyson.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.