Entry 1578 — “Afternoon Poem”

September 22nd, 2014

Afternoon Poem, 1968 by Etel Adnan:

EtelAdnanAfternoonPoem1968

This is another work from the Spring issue of Bomb–yes, I’m blah, again.  I grabbed the above, which is about the size it is where I got it, because of the colors (which are a bit better, I think, as published in Bomb)–and something else I couldn’t define.  One thought: that it might well be a work that looks nice when not seen close up, but when my scan enlarged it, I found it was even better.  A genuine visual poem of the Kenneth Patchen variety.  Different from but still reminding me of Marilyn R. Rosenberg’s A-1 book art.   Its accordianation is a big plus: text out of colors in&out over white into more color instead of just text from colors across white into other colors.  Perfectly-placed, perfect eye.

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Scientific American Blog Relocated

September 21st, 2014

My Scientific American Blog is now here–with a complete table of contents.

AHOY!  I finally got Entry 18 done.  It is now here.    Comments Welcome! Please let me know of any typos or gross factual errors. Warning: it’s me at my abstrusest worst–for over 8,000 words.

Later note: From time to time, I will be revising Entry 18.  I hope eventually to correct all the many mistakes in the version first posted.

Entry 1577 — Poems from Bomb

September 21st, 2014

AnselmBerriganPoems1&2

 

Guess who is too worn out from a little work on the revision of his scifi novel to do a real entry today?  So I leafed through the issue of Bomb I plan to write a Small Press Review column of mine and found an interesting set of four poems.  The text of each was a single unpunctuated line of words in lower-case letters that went entirely around the perimeter of its page just once.  To get a complete poem, I had to scan what’s above, pressing down to get the inner lines.  When I saw that it was probably as interesting as the originals, I decided to save work, an’ be a creative artist myself, by leaving it as it was.

It which began, by the way, “the concept must be graspable at the outset of verily . . .” than goes langpoic.  Interesting.  I commend Bomb for having it.  The set is called, “Poems.”  The Upper-Case P surprised.  Author: Anselm Berrigan.  A New Yorker (like Richard Kostelanetz, a leading pioneer of innovative text-placement like Berrigan’s), it would seem, since he is poetry editor of a magazine called The Brooklyn Rail.

I was a big fan of Bomb for a while, and continue to consider it a superior arts publication.  But I was annoyed to find out recently that it does not accept unsolicited submissions.  Which makes it unsurprising that it is published in Brooklyn.

I had planned a really soopeariur essay for today on the involvement of urceptual persona in poems and other artworks.  I had a heap of good ideas for it.  I’ll be busy with household work tomorrow, so it may be awhile before I get to it.  I hope all my ideas for it haven’t deserted me by then.
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Entry 1576 — Stray Thoughts

September 20th, 2014
I just thought of the following question: who is the greatest over-rated living American Poet?
For a moment that sounded like a fun question to me, for some reason.  It is not.  All the many over-rated living American poets, our Merwins and Ashberys, are second-rate at best, so who cares which of them is the best?
It led me to one sort of interesting thought, though: that all canonized poets become either  over-rated or kicked out of the canon.

* * *

Here’s a quotation from T. S. Eliot from an article on him in the latest issue of The New Criterion by Kevin D Williamson (who absurdly ranks him the no. 1 American poet; I have him 9th or 10th, I’m not sure which): “And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen/ Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about.”  I bring it up because it’s hard for me to imagine having nothing to think about.  My only problem in that line has been having too much to think about.  Inner-directedness, once again.  Not that I haven’t gone blank betwixt the ears at times, but that’s different.

After a little reflection: having nothing to think about would be far from terror-inspiring if it left your mind open to pure perception.  But Eliot is talking about “mental emptiness.”  That would include having nothing to perceive.  Or re-perceive since there are memories one perceives without thought about them or anything else.  The more I think about it the less I think I think.  I also make up songs in my head that take up my full awareness, and that is not what I think of as thinking although it could be considered thinking musically and probably should be.  Watching visual images form and change in my mind without “thinking” about them is something else I do, although I find it seldom that I am able to.  (I’ve never taken a hallucinogen although I would have had I been given a chance to.  I’d never want to make any kind of habit of it, though.)

* * *

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Entry 1575 — Others

September 19th, 2014

I was writing in my diary a little while ago (it is now ten in the morning, 9Sep14) and thought (for the ten thousandth times, I suspect, if not more) of the distant others whom it was written for, whether or not anyone read it, and then about how important others were in my life.  But I’m inner-directed!  Having thought the last thought, I left my diary and came here to mull the subject over on paper (or its electronic equivalent) . . . for others.

I feel I’m almost always aware of others.  Even when no one else is nearby, I’m aware of their representatives inside me, particularly Freud’s Super-Ego, which is approximately my urceptual father (or God or Authority-Figure, and maybe also Judge), a little man in one of my awarenesses–either the anthroceptual or the evaluceptual . . . no, both.  No, again: he (yes, he–probably in female awarenesses a he, also) is in the socioceptual sub-awareness of the anthroceptual awareness, with links to some kind of assistant in the anthro-evaluceptual association area.  Other others (and writing that, I think of the others who will find it amusing, I hope) within me are the urceptual mother, friend, sex-object, enemy (whose reaction to what I say and do is also important to me) and several others I’d make more of an effort to recall if writing some final exposition of mine thoughts on this subject–but would probably still fail to make a complete list, and possibly also name some who should not be on the list).

Having mentioned the Super-Ego, and not being well organized, I will mention that I think Freud’s Id a nice invention, too.  In my psychology it (since it is a sexless child, for the most part, although it becomes highly gendered when caught by the sexual drive) is probably a combination of several ur-beings, but the most important is the fundaceptual ur-hedonist stuffing himself with chocolates or the like.  But to a fairly large extent it’s an ur-advisor to the ur-friend seeking friendship.  I find that I’m hazy about it.  It has to enter into almost everything we do, even an objective verosophical investigation of, well, the Id itself. like I’m trying to carry out.  The goal of everything is pleasure; the goal of the ur-hedonist is immediate pleasure.

I guess my equivalent of Freud’s Ego (which seems to me not really his but everybody’s idea of self since human beings were capable of conceiving themselves as having selves–prehumanly, I am in a minority as believing: every animal has an urceptual self, but not a linguiceptual awareness where it gets a name.  Speciocentrists mistake an ability to discuss their selves as a sine qua non for having selves, which is stupid.  My cat, it seems to me, must know the different between what is outside its body and its body.  All this will become clear once neurophysiologists have the equipment to pin down the components of brains–and pre-brains.  I don’t see why any living thing should not have a self.  Or every thing have one.

Selves come in different sizes, though.  An adult animal’s is probably at least as large in proportion to the contents of everything else in its brain, or equivalent thereof as our’s, but therefore smaller.  And, because I can’t resist an opportunity to anger those against me on a particular political issue, a fetus’s, even a late-term fetus’s, is vastly smaller than any adult mammal’s, so those who can live with the euthanization of adult stray cats and dogs but not abortion are–I want to say “jackasses,” but have to say, very strongly under the influence of their urceptual-mother.

To digress, I suddenly think there are two urceptual mothers (and other urceptual beings may also be paired): the urceptual mother one becomes when she captures one’s attention; and the urceptual mother one becomes the urceptual child of when someone else has activated her and is soothing us, or lecturing us, etc.

An announcement just broke through to me from Thunderbird telling me that Yale has announced a cure for dementia.  Not that that has anything to do with this entry.  I was momentarily stymied by the idea of two urceptual mothers, which was new to me, so took the first excuse to leave it that came up.  Now back to ti, I think maybe one urceptual mother is sufficient.  One becomes the urceptual mother when a child is crying, as in this case; one calls up the urceptual mother but does not become her when it is oneself that is doing the crying, and doing it sufficiently to become one’s urceptual child.

I’m supposed to be working on my novel today.  I have done a bit on it already but am trying my hardest to get an important passage five or more pages in length taken care of, a passage I’ve recently revised twice, and will definitely need one further revision after this one, which is mainly getting it reasonably well-organized where it belongs in the narrative.  It’s been giving me a lot of trouble, but I think I’ll overcome it today if my energy-level holds up.  Which it won’t if I keep getting into my blog or–for Pete’s sake–HLAS where I was earlier for twenty minutes or more re-arguing the idiotic Shakespeare Authorship Question.  I’m going to stay here till I go over the thousand word mark.  Only a little over a hundred words to go.

Make that less than a hundred.  Doing that is for me, not others.  Or not others to much of an extent.  95% pure inner-directedness.  But so much of inner-directedness is free-wendry, too: those who make the most of their  lives, as both free-wenders and the inner-directed try to do, must set goals for themselves and pursue them to the best of their ability.  I’m not sure there’s anything as important that free-wenders share with the other-directed.  I suppose the ability to temporarily not to pursue a goal is one, but it is only important to the free-wender; it’s something someone other-directed can’t help.  The latter is innate other-directed; the free-wender chooses to be other-directed when appropriate.  A rigidnik cannot make that choice, or, at least, not effectively; hence, he is quite different from someone inner-directed.

Well, I’m a thousand words now.  The inner-drected question is whether I should count words typed about how many words I’ve typed.  Probably not, but I’m going to count them now, anyway–because I can’t think of anything more to say–except that this entry only took me  an hour and fifteen minutes to write this entry.

Hmm, in categorizing this entry, I noticed that I failed to include the MacArthur Foundation under “Enemies of Poetry.”  After their recent bestowing of money on five or more poets of no particular cultural value, I thought them probably the worst of all the enemies of poetry.  Poetry was until it gave token space to language and then visual poetry.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe other serious talented poets are not bothered by the recognition institutions like the MacArthur Foundation give competitors two or three orders of magnitude less good at their trade than they.  Maybe they don’t recognize that such prizes indoctrinate all the other establishment sources of help for poets to give money and recognition to the same level of poets rather than to them.  Many may have the good luck not not need financial aid as much as I do, too.

The MacArthur Foundation, I feel the need to add, is not merely an enemy of poetry, but of culture.  Poetry is an enemy of culture, too, since it tends to confirm other institutions defending culture against innovation in other fields like it that they are doing right.  But Poetry can’t be consider directly an enemy of all culture the way the MacArthur Foundation certainly can.

Heh heh, I’m over (with “over”) 1300 words now, thanks to the MacArthur brickbrains.

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Entry 1574 — “Zugzwang” + Lesson in Statistics

September 18th, 2014

I just read that in some parts of Appalachia an average white male lives ten years less than an average white male elsewhere in America, and I failed to think it meant much.  My next thought was how much the media abused statistics based on such facts.  It may be that even experienced statisticians don’t realize why a life-span of 67 years is not as much less a life-span of 77 years as the simple 77 – 67 subtraction would suggest, and those who want to exploit the difference make out.

First question: does a person who lives 77 years live about 1.1 times as long as a person who lives 67 years?  Answer: yes, if one defines a year as 365 or 366 days.

Second question: so far as the value of a life is concerned, does the person living the longer life have a life-value 1.1 times as great as the other person, all other things being equal?  Answer, and where simple statistics break down: not necessarily.

Why not?  Because having a length of 365 or 366 days is an insufficient definition of a year.  I am no doubt not a representative person, but I’ll use myself as an example, anyway, to suggest a better way of defining a year.  Since I turned 67, my energy-level has dropped, much more noticeably in just the past couple of years.  I claim that I may get as little as 300 days of genuine life out of a year now.  I suspect that if I’m still living on my 77th birthday, I’ll be down to 200 days of genuine life per year–in spite of excellent medical care without which I would almost certainly have died in my earliest sixties of prostate cancer.  So at 77, I will have actually lived around 7 years more than I had by my 67th birthday.

Is that still a significant amount more?  I suppose so.  But there are other variables.  FACT: almost no statistical study of anything whatever takes into consideration all the variables it should.  A big one in this case is subjective experience of chronological length: the days and years of childhood are subjectively much long than those of adulthood, and those of old age go by twice as fast (it seems to me, but I don’t know if any competent studies have been done, or even could be done, on the actual speed).  How do we work that into the question of the difference in length of actual life between a person living 67 years and one living 77 years?

A related subjective variable I think significant is perceived value of a life.  Some lives, for instance, seem finished at thirty–a great athlete’s, say; many, I suspect seem finished by sixty or before.  (Mine doesn’t.)  There is also the question of physical comfort.  I frankly have trouble comparing the simple-comfort-to-discomfort ratio of my present life to what it was in other phases of my life.  For one thing, I can’t remember exactly how I was feeling, on average, in my thirties, or fifties, much less my first ten years.  Lots of good and bad, but rarely any significant bad–and (boo hoo) never any significant good.

Or so I say now, but I know I’m wrong; I just don’t want to think about my two happiest moments, because they turned out to be based so embarrassingly stupid an ignorance of what my life would be–they were the joy I felt being released from formal education and 18, and the joy I felt at being released from the air force at age 23, the first time ignorantly believing the only thing keeping me from a wonderful life was the draft then in force (Nixon ended it, and for that I consider him close to being the greatest 20th-century American President), only to find out a little over a year later that if the government won’t stop you, your genes will.

Now for a terribly elitist opinion: there is a huge difference between what’s in one year of life for an average American and what’s in a year of life for a superior American.  Shakespeare, not an American but a good example, certainly lived a larger life (length: 52 years, height: 100 years; width: 52 years, or 270,400 cubic years, compared to an average man living to the age of eighty with a one-mile height and 10 year width, or 800 cubic years, or a MacArthur Genius with maybe double that.

Gotta go–doctor’s appointment (just a routine check-up).

On 9/18/2014 12:12 PM, katexic wrote:

WORD(S)

zugzwang /TSOOKTS-vang/. noun. In chess (and in life), a position in which the player must make a move but cannot do so without putting herself at a disadvantage. Also, the unpleasant feeling of being in such a position. From German zug (move) and zwang (compulsion, obligation).

“…he reads of a position called Zugzwang, in which the player is unable to move any piece in any direction to any square without making his already imperilled state worse. This is what Arthur’s life feels like.” (Julian Barnes)

“Each life is a game of chess that went to hell on the seventh move, and now the flukey play is cramped and slow, a dream of constraint and cross-purpose, with each move forced, all pieces pinned and skewered and zugzwanged… But here and there we see these figures who appear to run on the true lines, and they are terrible examples. They’re rich, usually.” (Martin Amis)

“The Malaysia Airlines disaster seems to have put Putin in zugzwang.” (Alec Luhn)

I wrote the following to katexic, then decided against posting it there.

“Zugzwang” is a wonderful word that beautifully fills a lexicuum I didn’t realize existed until you brought my attention to that word, Chris.  It describes in particular what happens more and more often in our society’s increasing intolerance of any idea that may offend some person or group when one is asked to discuss something one has a politically-incorrect opinion of such as whether or not male baboons are more intelligent than female human beings–what move is possible for such a person that’s neither dishonest nor offensive.   Or cowardly.  (Hey, I do realize that more than a few female human beings are much more intelligent than almost all male baboons!)

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Entry 1573 — Repaired Scene

September 17th, 2014

An aside before there’s anything for it to be an aside to: It’s Tuesday afternoon.  I was just working on my novel.  It is entirely autobiographical, you should know, except that it is also a complete wish-fulfillment fantasy.  Ergo, the two cats I had in 1998, when the year the novel begins, is in it.  Sally, who dies a few years before that is in it, too, as is Skipper, the cat my family had for only part of a year before a dog got him, when I was ten or eleven.  The reason for this aside is that I wanted to tell you that I just now saw a line in which I said Suzy, one of my cats at the time, “was not a bouncy, friendly cat like Shirley,” the other cat I had then (not to be confused with the one I have now, Shirley II).  I think it amusing that I was upset that I’d written that about Suzy, who was definitely a friendly cat, although not very bouncy, so I changed the passage to “was not as bouncy a friendly cat as Shirley.”  Wouldn’t want my readers to think badly of the poor thing.

Now back to the following, which I transformed from a language poem back to conventionality:

Act 1, scene ii: HORACE, a man in his early thirties, is pacing in a
dimly-lit, nondescript living room.

HORACE:  If only there were something I could do.
If only there were something I could do.
But. neither reason nor the costliest
deodorant available can work
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-breath of aid.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly through
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul dimmed to something only owls could see,
my heart a crypt about to close on it.
Oh, me; oh, my; oh, me; oh, me; oh, me.

MARGARET: Oh, me; oh, me; oh, me? Good Jesus, Horace,
what is wrong with you?! (She bursts onstage out of a door
as she finishes putting on a bathrobe.) The day has shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ouqht to be in bed,
not rasping pathological oh me’s
against the sleep of your superiors!

HORACE:     Oh, Mother, dearest Mother, you can’t know
how miserably unbearable my life’s
become. It’s but an earthworm sandwich made
with neither mayonnaise nor butter.  Each
day Ursula repudiates my love
with greater ardor! What, oh, what, am I–
(Enter JULIUS through a window.)

MARGARET: Good Christ, what lout through yonder window breaks?
Quick, Horace, club the creep!

JULIUS: Hey, just a minute. I don’t breaka nothin’.
she’sa open.  And she looksa just lika mine, so I comes t’rough.
Youse got no calla to clubba me.

HORACE: Of course I do! In case you didn’t know, it’s aainst the
law to come through other people’s windows without permission.

JULIUS: Even if I’m a dreama come t’rough?

HORACE: What are you talking about? You’re no dream come true;
you’re a damned burglar who’s just gained illegal entry to this house
and I’m going to. call the police!

JULIUS: Hey, wait.a minute, Boss. I might be a damma burglar, but
youse hearda the lady: she says I’m a lout. Besides, I am a dreama
come t’rough~-if you wantsa this Ursula.

MARGARET: Give me the damned club, Horace.  I’ll take care of this
cretin if you won’t! You call the police. (She approacnes Horace.)

HORACE: Hold on, Mother.  First I want to find out what he knows about Ursula.

JULIUS:  Hey, Boss, I don’t know thisa Ursula from a Lemona meringuea
pie, but womens, thems I doesa know, an’ I kniowsa how to get them.

HORACE: Terrific.

JULIUS: Hey, I knows a froma the outside youse needsa the help with
the girl.  I got psychica giftsa an’ they tellsa me. That’sa the
real reason I’ma climb t’rough the window. Your needsa was forcin’
me to comea to youse!

MARGARET: All right, then, I’ll call the police.

HORACE:  No, Mother, please. Let me just hear what he has to say.

MARGARET: Good grief.

HORACE: So? Just how do you think you can help me with Ursula?

JULIUS: Hey, who knows? ‘ All, I can tella youse is
And it won’t costa you a arma an’ a lega, neither!
of it in advancea; is all I’ma charge.

HORACE, sarcastically: That’s all?

JULIUS: Yeah, I feelsa sorry for youse, so I do thisa for almosta free.

HORACE:  You’re crazy. You haven’t given me the slightest idea of
what you might be able to do. It ‘s pretty obvious that you’re just
trying to wriggle out of your–

JULfUS: Hey, Boss, I know I’ma ask youse to takea tbe big chancea, so
I tellsa you what: I do it for free, and only fifteen dolla in advance!

HORACE:  You’re really out of your–

JULIUS: Hey, y0use can even paya me in advancea after I does it, howsa that for fair?

MARGARET:  Good grief. Horace, I’m going back to bed. If you finally
call the police and they want a statement from me, they’ll have to
wait until the morning. (Exit.)

HORACE: I really should call the police.  It’s ab–

JULIUS, rushing over to him: No,no, Boss, don’t do that!  I can
really helpa youse!

HORACE: Get away from me!  (At this point, JULIUS bumps into HORACE.)

JULIUS:  ‘Scuza.  (He hurriedly backs away from Horace.)

HORACE, picking up the phone: I was insane to believe even for a moment that you could help me win Ursula. You’re just trying to trick me out of teaching you that you can’t just climb in any open window that you–

JULIUS: No, no, youse got it alla wrong. Look, here’sa my picture
witha my namea, Sean O’ Casey, ona the back. (He pulls out a wallet
and hands Horace a photograph from it.) That’ s a from when I hava
the beard.  If I tricksa youse, youse can justa show the policea
that an’ hava me ina the slammer quick. That way yousea covered,
Boss. Trusta me, I no tricksa youse.

HORACE, putting the phone back down and taking the picture:
Wait a minute. This is a picture of Ursula! And that’s my wallet you have! (Pause.)

JULIUS:  Yeah, yousea right: it’sa your wallet!  (Pause.)  But how is
it it’sa me what’s got it, hunh? (Brief Pause.) Hey, Boss, you ever
hears ofa the psychokinesis? Well, that’s only one ofa my psychica
giftsa. Another, which I justa remember, isa hypnosis. I can use
that for youse with this Ursula. So forgeta the slammer an’ hirea
me, Boss.

HORACE: Ah, you. propose to hypnotize, Ursula into loving me.

JULIUS: Nah, I can’ta do that. I only makesa people thinka
they’re chickensa;

HORACE: You can only hypnotize people into thinking they’re chickens!?

JULIUS: Youse thinks thisa hypnosis isa easy?

HORACE: No, not necessarily. I just think that if–

JULIUS: Listen, ifa the hypnosis isa so easy, I coulda make youse
giva me everything ina the house an’ let me go.  Why I no do that?
‘Cause the hypnosis, she’sa hard. Usea the bean, Boss. Nobody hasa
the room for mqre than a little ofa the hypnotic capacity, an’ all I
hasa isa for to changea people intoa the chicken. Or vice ofa the
versa.

HORACE: But what possible good would it do to turn Ursula into
a chicken?

JULIUS: Hey, what kinda man is gonna stay with a chickena? This guy
who got her, he’sa drop her fast!

HORACE: How ignorant you are, poor fool. No man
on earth could disconnect from Ursula
though she erupt in boils and breathe black flames!
Her soul would make a coat of leprosy
a fashion all Chicago’d fight to wear!
The filigree of her least thought would win
a thousand worshippers through any stink
of cancer you could mar her beauty with!
The perk of what she is, is far too rare
to be susceptible–

JULIUS: Okay, okay, I getsa your drifta!

HORACE: Besides, there’s no
way I could let you desecrate the flow
of her nobility of form and hue.
There’s no way I could let you desecrate–

JULIUS: Okay, okay! I tellsa you what I does: I hypnotizea the guy
she’sa hot into; I makesa hima .the chicken. (Pause.) That way, he
doesn’ta droppa her, she dropsa him!

HORACE: I don’t know. She’s very loyal.  And making him act like a chicken wouldn’t make her boyfriend much less than the dweeb he already is.

JULIUS: How you knows a that tilla we tries it? (Pause.)  Justa give
it somea thought: what youse got to losea? If I no helpa youse, youse
just losea the happiness ofa shuttin’ a poor misguideda soul what
comesa accidentally t’rough your window into the jaila. But if I
helpsa youse, youse winsa the Ursula!  (Pause.)

HORACE:  You can really hypnotize people?

JULIUS: Sure!

HORACE: it could work. T~is North–that’s her boyfriend–fancies
a philosopher. If he suddenly started acting like a chicken,
so disturb his mind that he’d forget even Ursula.

JULIUS: North? Not Larry North?

HORACE: Yes. Why? Db you know him?

JULIUS, laughing: Why, sure. Thisa North, he’s my nexta-door
neighbor except for a few houses.

HORACE: So you wouldn’t want to hypnotize him, after all.

JULIUS: Hey, sure I doesa it For fifteen dollars inna the advance.
He’sa not my friend, justa my neighbor. An’ he’sa too big onna the
positivista school of philosophy fora my tastea.

HORACE: And you could hypnotize him?

JULIUS: Hey, I guarantees it, Boss.

HORACE, suddenly exploding: Okay, okay! What have I got to lose?
For neither reason nor the costliest
deodorant available has worked
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-breath . .

JULIUS, overlapping the last part of Horace’s speech:
spirit, Boss. (Curtain.)

I am now fairly certain, by the way, that I will go with the 1996 version of this play–but I may try to find a way to use some passages in the above.  Especially the punsa.

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AmazingCounters.com

 

Entry 1572 — Another Scene from Werebird

September 16th, 2014

Act 1, Scene 3 from the 1998 version, made into a language poem by my OCR software:

AG’1’_ L,s.cene iL.:. HORACE., a.. man. in his early thirties, is p(3.cing in ?
dimly-lit, nondescript living room.

HORACE:

I.f only there were s ome t.h i.nq J could ‘do.
If “only there were something I could do.
But. neither reason- rio r the co.s.t.Li.e s t,

deogerant available can work
me int~ his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my d.eep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’sTb~eat~’of aid.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly thtough
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul di~ea toso~ething only owls could See,
my heart a crypt about to close oq it.
Oh, me;’ oh, my; oh, me; oh , me; ch , me.’

MARGARET: Oh, me; oh, me; oh, me? Good Jesus, Horace,
what is wrong with you?! (She bursts onstage out of a door
as {3he finishes putting on a bathrobe.), The day haS shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ouqht; to be in pe.9,
not ~asping pathological oh me’s
against the sleep of your superiors!
HORACE:     Oh, Mother, cte?rest Mother, you can’t know
how miserably unbearable my.li:E;e’s
beC;Ome. It’s but ap earthworm sandwich made
. with neither mayonnaise nor butter. Eau:h
day Ursula repudiates my love
with greater a.x:dor! What, oh, what, am I–‘
(Enter JULIUS through a window.)
MARGARET: Good Christ, what 101,ltthrough yonder winC;l.ow breaks?
Quick, Horace, cluj:) the creep!

JULIUS: Hey, just· a minute. I don’t breaka nothin’.
sheisa wid~ open. And she looksa just li’ke mine, so I
Youse got no calla to clubba me.

The windo”,:,
comes t’rough.

HORACE: Of COU-rse I do! In case you didn’t know, it’s a9ainst the
law to come through other peoply’s windows without permission.

JULIUS:

Even if I’m a qreama come t’ro1.).gh?

HO~CE; What are you talking about? You’re no dream come true;
you’re a damned burglar who’s just gained illegal entry to this bouse
and I’m going to. call the police!
JULIUS: Hey, wait.a minute, Boss. I might be a damma burglar, but
youse hearda the lady: she ,says I’m a lout. Besides, I am a dfeama
come t’hrough~-if you wantBa this Ursula.

MARGARET: Give me the damned club, Horace.
cretin if you won’t! You call the police.

I’ll take care of this
(She approacnes Horace.)

HO~CE: Hold on, Mqther.
about Urs u.La..

First I want to find out what he knows

,}OLIUS:’ Hey, Boss, I don’t know t h i.s a U,:t::sula from a Lemona meringuea
pie, but womens , thems I doe.s a know, an’ I kriows a how t o get them.

HORACE:

Terrific.

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JULIUS: Hey, I knows a froma the o~tside youse nee9sa the help with
the gir~.. .I got p sych.i.ca gi£t.sa” an ‘they tellsa .me , That ‘.sa .t he
real reason I’ma climJ::} t’hrough the window. Your needsa was forcin’
me to comea to youse!
MARGARET: All right, then, I’ll c9.11 the police.

HORA~E:

No, Mother, please. Let me just hear what he has to say.

~GARET: Good grief.

HORACE:

So? Just how do you think you can help me with Ur.sula?

JULIUS: Hey, who knows? ‘ All, I can tella youse is
And it won’t costa you a arma an.’ a lega, neither!
of it in advancea; is all I’ma charge.

that .1 finds a way.
Five dolla, twenty

HORACE., sar.c~stically:

That’s all?

JULIUS:

Yeah, I feelsa sorrY for youse, so I do thisa ~or almost free.

HORACE:
what you
trying to

You’re crazy. You haven’t given
might be able to do. It ‘.s pretty
wriggle out of–

me the slightest idea of
obvious that you’re just

JULfUS: Hey, Boss, I know I’ma ask youse to takea tb.e big chance, so
I tellsa you what: I do it for free, and only fifteen dolla in advance!

$HORACE:

You’re really out of your-,-

JULIUS: Hey, yquse can even pay me in advance after I do it, howsa
that for fair?
MARGARET..:. Good grief. Horj3cce, r’m going back to bed. If you finally
call the police and they want a statement from me, they’ll have to
wait until the mOfning. (Exit.)

HORACE:

I really shQuld call the police.

It’s ab–

JULIUS, rushing over to him:
really helpa youse!

No,no, Boss, don’t do that!

I can

HORACE:

Get away from me!

(At. this point, JULIUS bumps into Horace.)

JVLIUS:

‘Scuza.

(He hurriedly backs away from Horace.)

,~()RACE, picking up the phone: I was insane to believe even for a ‘moment
that you could help me witn Ursula. You’re just trying to trick me out
of teac;::hing you,that you can’t just climb in any .open window that you–
JULIUS: No, no, youse got it alIa wrong.. Look, here’sa my picture
w i.t.ha my namea, Sean 0′ Casey,ona the. ba.ck., (He pul.lsout a wallet
and hands Ho x ac e a photograph from it.) That’ sa from when. I havea
the beard. It I tricksa youse, youse can justa show the polic::ea
!
7. ,\hat an’ havea me ina the sla~er quick. That way yousea covered,
! ‘Bbss. Trusta me, I no tricksa youse.
I     I
\ (HORACE, having by now put
,     I
~~e phone back down, takes the picture.)
HORACE: Wait a minute. This is a picture of Urs1,lla!. And tbat’s my
wallet you have! (Pause.)
JULIUS:

Yeah, yousea right: it’sa your walletl

(Pause. )

But how is

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it it’sa me what’s got it, hurih ? .(Brief Pause.) Hey, Bo s-s , you ever
hears ofa the psychokinesis? Well, that’s only one ~fa my psychica
giftsa. Anothef, which I justa remember, ~sa hypnosis. I can use
that for youse with this Ursul?l. So forgeta the slammer an’ hirea
me, Boss .

HO.RACE:

. Ah, you. propose to _hypnotize, Ursula .i.nt.o .Lov.Lnq .me.,

JULIUS: Nah, I can’ta do that.
they’re chickensa;

I only makesa people thinka

HORACE:
JULI.uS:

You can only hypnotize people into thinking they’re chickens!?
Youse thinks thisah.ypnosis isa easy?

HORACE:

No, not necessarily.

I just think that if–

JULIUS List~n, if a the hypnosis was so .easy, I coulda make youse
gi vea me everything .i rta the house an’ let me g.o. viChy I no do that?
‘Cause the hypnosis, she’sa hard. Usea the bean, Boss. Nobody hasa
the room for mqre than a little ofa the hypnotic capacity, an’ all I
hasa isa for to changea people intoa the chicken. Or vice ofa the
versa.
HORACE; But what possible good would it do to turn Ursula into
a chicken?
JULIUS: Hey, what kinda man is gonna stay with a chickena? This guy
who got her, he’sa drop ~er fast!

HORACE:
JULIUS;
HORACE:

How ignorant you are, poor fool. No man
on earth could disconnect from Ursula
though she erupt in boils and breathe black flames!
Her sout’would make a ‘coat of leprosy
a fa~hion all Chicago’d fight to wear!
The filigree of her least thought would win
a thousand worshippers through any stink
O£. cancer you could .ma.r .he,r beauty with!
The perk of what she is, is far too rare
to be susceptible–
OkaYJ okay, I getsa your driftal
.Be s i.de.s , there’s no
way I could let you desecrate the flow
of her nobility of form and hue.
There’s no way I could let ~ou desecrate–

JULIUS: Okay, okay! I tellsa you what I does: I hYPnotizea the guy
she’sa hot into; I makesa hima .the chicken. (Pause.) That way, he
doesn’tadroppa her, she dropsa him!
HORACE: I don’t know. She’s very loyal. And making ,him act like a
chicken wou Ldn ‘ t .make her boyfriend much less than the dwe eb he already
is. _ .
JULIUS: How you knows a that t.illa we tries it? (Pause.) iJusta give
it somea thought: what youse got to losea? If I no helpa youse, youse
just losea t.hei happ.Lnes,s ofa shu.ttin’ a poor misguideda soul what
comesa accidentally t’rough your window into the jaila. But if I
helpsa youse, youse winsa the Ur su La l (Pal,lse.)

HORAC;E:

You can really hypnotize people?

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,

JULIUS:
HORACE:
himself
it might
JUL,IUS:
HORACE:

Sure!
it could work. T~is North–that’s her boyfriend–fancies
a philosopher. If he suddenly started acting like a chicken,
so disturb his mind that he’d forget even Ursula.
North? ~ot Larry North?
Yes. Why? Db you know him?

JULIUS, laughing: Why, “lure. Thisa North, he’s my nexta-door
neighbor except for a few houses.

So~ you wouldn’t want to hypnotize him, after all.

JULIUS: ,Hey, sure I doesl For fifteen dollars inna the advance.
He’sa not my friend, justa my neighbor. An’ he’sa too big onna the
positivista school of philosophy fora my tastea.
HORACE: And you could hypnotize him.
JULIUS: Hey, I guarantees it, Boss.
HORACE, suddenly exploding: Okay, okayl What have I got to lose?
For neither reason nor the costliest
deoder,ant available has worked
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-.breath . .

JULIUS, overlapping the last part of Horace’s speech:
spirit, Boss. (Curtain.)

.

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Entry 1571 — A Scene from Werebird

September 15th, 2014

My plan to post a copy of Werebird is indefinitely on hold. For one thing, I found two versions of it that seem equal to me.  Both seem flawed, as well. For another, my OCR stinks. If I re-typed the thing, I’d have a decent copy of it faster than I can get one now, using my OCR software. I think it’d take a full day, at least, and I’m not up to that much work right now.  Perhaps I would be if I had a version I liked. I have to read both versions and come up with something significantly less over-plotted.

What follows (in blank verse) is the first scene of my 1996 version,  as close to looking the way I’d like it to as I could get it.

Act 1, scene i: The stage is dim.  On it three witches, barely perceptible, speak in low voices.

WITCH #1: Three times the brinded cat has yowled.

WITCH #2:  Four times the earth itself has growled.

WITCH #3:  The dank ferns chime, “‘Tis time, ’tis time.”  (At this point HORACE appears approaching from the auidence.  His speech over-laps, and drowns out most of what the witches are saying.)

HORACE: If only there were something I could do.
If only there were something I could do.
But neither reason nor the wham of the
most costly underarm deodorant
available can work me into his
sweet place in her esteem. Nor have my deep-
wailed applications to the heavens won
me even half-a-wingbeat’s-worth of help.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly through
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul dimmed to something only owls could see,
my heart a crypt about to close on it ..
And th’ scald of my–

WITCH #1: Round about the cauldron go;
in the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad that under coldest stones
thirty days has frozen its bones–
add its urine to the pot
to inspire the brew to clot.

ALL WITCHES: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH #2: Fillet of a fenny snake,
in the cauldron boil and bake;
eye of cow and mousie’s tail,
virgins’ spit and wool of whale,
For a charm most wondrous subtle,
Like a mad-mind boil and bubble.

ALL WITCHES: Double, double toil and, trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH #3:  Scale of dragon–  (At this point HORACE has mounted the stage.)

WITCH #1:                            Peace! He’s here!

HORACE:                                                          Ye gods,
from what far planet have you sprung? Or do
you come from Jersey? You appear to know
what I am saying from the way you each
at once your choppy finger lays upon
your skinny lips. You should be women, yet
your beards forbid me to interpret you
as such. Speak.if you can: say what you are.

WITCH #2: Owls. Owls are we, with art to see.

WITCH #1: Who who. Who who.

WITCH #3: For three long threes of centuries
we’ve waited in time’s darkest bin
for something new–

WITCH #2:  –to winsomely do–

WITCH #1:  –to counteract the world’s drear lack–

WITCH #3 –of narrative illustrative–

WITCH #2: –of how much men can win to when
they commit their souls to myth-large goals.

WITCH #3: And so this night we’ve come to light
a new pulse to your time of rue.

WITCH #1, holding up a flask: A sip of this and every kiss
its sipper gets he will regret.

ALL WITCHES: For every night the moon’s alight,
his brain, will thicken, and he turn chicken!

WITCH #1, handing the flask to Horace: In short, take this to win the bliss
for which you’ve yearned,

WITCH #2:   . . . and will have earned …

WITCH #1:  . . .   if you know who to give it to!
(The WITCHES all laugh. HORACE accepts the flask blankly. Pause.)

WITCHES #2 & #3: Who who, who who.

HORACE:     Ah, yes, I’ve got it! Yes! (The WITCHES disappear, but HORACE is too excited to notice.) Yes! Now at last
you’re finished, Larry! My long days and nights
of praying into every crevice that
a god or spirit could inhabit has
at last paid off! Dear Ursula will soon
be mine! Oh, yippee! Yippee and yahoo!

MARGARET, offstage: Yahoo? And yippee? Jesus, Horace, what
in Hell’s the matter with you? (As she speaks, the bursts out of the room she was in. She is partway into a bathrobe that she finishes putting on.)

HORACE:                                          Mother? How
can you– (The lights go up to reveal HORACE and MARGARET’S apartment.) My gosh, I’m home.

MARGARET:     The day has shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ought to be in bed,
not cannonading idiotic cheers
against the ramparts of my hard-won  sleep!

HORACE:     But I still have the potion. It could not
have been all dream! Oh, yippee! Yippee and
yahoo!

MARGARET:     Goddamit, Horace, what is wrong
with you!?

HORACE:     Oh, Mother, Mother! Life is not
as viciously unfair as I once thought.
My cruel long absence from the arms and heart
of my beloved is about to end! (He holds up the flask.)
As soon as I’ve delivered this, she’s mine!
Oh, yippeee! Yippee and yahoo! (He exits.)

MARGARET:  Good god. (The scene ends.)
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Entry 1570 — Not William the Conquerer

September 14th, 2014

In an article for the the latest issue of The New Criterion, Gary Saul Morson quotes this from a dialogue by Alexander Herzen, the Russian provocateur of letters: “An end that is infinitely remote is not an end, but, if you like, a trap; an end must be nearer–it ought to be, at the very least, the laborer’s wage, or pleasure in the work done.”

I prefer Emerson’s idea of hitching one’s wagon to a star but agree with the above, I suppose, if you know the end you are aiming for is infinitely remote.  Otherwise, I fear I have Nietzschean elitist contempt for anyone without some goal vastly superior to the laborer’s wage (although only a little bit superior to pleasure in the work done.

One reason I bring this up, aside from my inner-directed near-obsession with attaining some grand goal or other is my impression that just about no one else I know seems to have any particular goal in life, other than having nice things, financial security and friends.   They would agree with what Morson goes on to say after quoting Herzen:  “Each present moment, and each human life, is precious in itself, not just as a means to some exalted goal.  This is a lesson revolutionaries never seem to learn.”

Actually, the majority of present moments are at best innocuous.  As for the preciousness of each human life, that our species seems to have made that its Primary Moral Truth is the reason I feel myself to be some kind of aberration–or would if it weren’t that there are people who think there are some things more valuable than human life.  Morson would probably agree that liberty is, since liberty is what would be lost if reason controlled lives (from what he otherwise says in his article, which includes the Tolstoy quotation that I re-quoted yesterday).  Yes, liberty is more valuable than life–but only if you use it for more than getting your kids through college.  Unless you mistakenly believe that doing that is an important step toward getting them, or someone else, to another galaxy.

Sure, the latter is no doubt meaningless, but I hold that there are degrees of meaninglessness, and a final understanding of existence, which exploration of space may be a sine qua non for the achievement of,  is substantially less meaningless than  whatever it is that most people seem to be living for.

I do believe that all we have are moments, but that it’s foolish to be content with each of them equally.  One should be aware that no moment is of any value unless it contains a lot more than the present.  I would As I’ve said quite a few times, just about the only times I’ve experienced such moments have been when I’ve taken some work of art or verosophy into what seems to me of Final Positive Value to Mankind(!) and makes me remember other moments when I’ve felt the same way about something I’ve been working on, and makes me remember in reverse later such moments I’m sure I will have.  Urp.

I have very few such moments now.  (Yes, boo hoo.)  Certainly not right now, although I have a hydrocodone in me.  It occurred to me a moment after writing that the the best moments also contain some hint of an applauding audience, and now I really feel sad, as opposed to self-disgusted, because I would have wanted my parents in that audience, and too many others now dead.  I think now of my poor alcoholic father whom I always looked down upon for not seeming to have any real goal, realizing (as I sort of have many times before) that he did have a superior goal: it was that his children have superior goals and reach them.  He was proud of my achievements, however minor they were, once introducing me to someone as a playwright the day after a play of mine became a finalist in some play competition I lost.

That reminds me that I was going to post a copy of that play on the Internet yesterday, but found I had no computer file of it.  Today I hope to scan it.  It may take a while to correct the conversion to readable text, but I vow to do it and post the damned thing.  I’m megalomaniacally thinking of then posting an extreme revision to update it to the present.  I wrote the first draft of it more than forty years ago.  Werebird is the name of it.  A young man’s dream of marrying a certain young girl is threatened by his sudden propensity for becoming a chicken when the moon is full.  The Marx brothers and Macbeth and his wife are in it, albeit with different names.  I saying so much about it to psych myself up–and I want as many people to know of my vow to make sure fear of Horrid Embarrassment will force me to live up to it.  (Although I have probably horrideously forsaken at least a thousand previous such vows.  But I’ve begun scanning.  Pray to Apollo for me–and Dionysius.  You don’t have to pray to Athena–I know she’s on my side; how could it be otherwise considering the wonderful poem I   made in homage to her?)  No “urp” this time but an “Excelsior and Gahzoo the the power of 97!”

With this word, I brought this entry up to a total of 900 words.  As an extreme example of Riesman’s inner-directed man and thus neurotically obsessed with goals even tinier than this one, I must now write another hundred or more.  They will probably be filler butread them anyway: who knows what I may say.  And, gosh, the way I’m going now, I may keep going until I hit two thousand! My scan, by the way, is up to page 7.  52 pages to go after that.

I glanced at the first page, by the way, and really liked the first stack of lines (in blank verse–the scenes my Macbeth and Lady Macbeth characters are in are in blank verse).  The process is going much faster than I thought it would, but I have no idea how good the result will be.  As always when doing anything concerned with pages, I curse the dryness of my aged fingers.  I suppose I should use hand lotion much more than I do.  With that, I pronounce this entry done, with a word count of 1066.  Phooey, my counter just changed that to 1074.  It didn’t want me to brag I was William the Conquerer, I guess.  But it got me to go past a count of 1100.
.

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