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Hay Bales

The sight of round hay bales in a field pleases me to no end, which helps me understand why geometry was was cornerstone of Ancient Greek thought (and Ancient Chinese thought, come to think of it, and the whole tradition of geomancy), how we get deductive reasoning from mathematics, and so forth. Our bodies are made to discern form and the contrast of forms, so of course certain sets of forms will please us; in much the same way, our bodies were made to communicate linguistically, and the form language takes is metaphorical (or metonymic, if you want to get into that argument, but really both metonymy and metaphor should be part of a single category): words mean because they represent something else, and metaphors are bald reminders of that fact, just as rolled hay bales in a field are bald reminders of how our perceptual and conceptual faculties are inseparable, and are the reason we can feel pleasure in the first place. After the hay bales was a wooden fence, also pleasing, then a quickee muffler place, less pleasing because of the simple grace of previous forms… it might be pleasing if I stopped and studied it, but driving…
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July Art Squirrel

Several apparently unconnected events connected themselves recently, or maybe I’m just glomming them together, but no matter: first, my lovely wife came to tell me there was an injured squirrel at the bottom of our driveway. Injured it was, seemed its back was broken, so though it tried desperately to get away from me, it only ended up spinning itself in a circle, like Curly did in the Three Stooges, but with the added horror of a broken spine. I had to run an errand, so I lifted the squirrel onto the grass where it would be a bit more comfortable and where I wouldn’t run over it with my car. The image of the squirrel spinning itself stayed with me as I drove downtown, coloring everything I saw: a woman crying into a cell phone, another woman crying and sitting on the steps of a church, a man limping down the sidewalk in front of the hospital for a smoke, a geeking kid in a doorway searching the empty street… I’m sure I passed happier scenes, but these were the ones I noticed, seeing the squirrel changed what my mind was letting in, altered the emotional locus of what…
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Two articles

That are interesting to read sequentially, or at least they fell upon me that way and I found them thus: Larry Sanger Joseph Wood The first article outlines a kind of anti-intellectualism exhibited by the hipster/geek/digerati tribe, and the comments section provides, not always intentionally, evidence to support the argument. The second article is about contemporary poety in the US, careerism, and ideology, and the comments section follows a similar pattern, leading me to think that the problem is less anti-intellectualism and disdain for knowledge than it is intellectual balkanization and disdain for any kind of knowledge but one’s own, at least as evidenced in the comments sections of blogs and articles. And while I don’t want to create a taxonomy of blog comment types, I do see a connection between intellectual balkanization of the type seen in contemporary poetry and the way internet-enabled crowd-based opining–maybe “cloud critique” is a better term–has sharpened social exclusion. As I recall, part of the promise of the internet was that it would expose more people to more new ideas, make them more flexible and inclusive, rather than exclusive…. whoops.  Resisting this ongoing reshaping of our discursive selves, fighting the cloud, that’s the trick…. CDs listened to: 457) D’Angelo: Voodoo; 458) Orb: Orbus Terrarum; 459) Trio: Da Da Da (love…
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No Complaint

I’ve noticed several friends sharing the same sentiment recently, that they are getting old, a state of being usually noticed because old patterns of behavior no longer work as well with their bodies (and by “bodies,” I also mean “minds”).  “I cannot stay up all night carousing, instead I prefer to stay home and make tea cosies” is more or less typical of this sort of complaint, though I’m not sure it is wholly complaint, and it is only more or less typical because I don’t know anyone who makes tea cosies. I do know several semi-retired carousers, however. I say that I’m not sure it is entirely complaint because I detect a sense of relief as well as a mourning for the vitality of years gone by, a sense that one no longer has to pay attention to all the very stupid shit that accompanies being young and party-worthy, like having to go to parties and pretend each one is the best one, ever, anywhere in time and space. Part of the problem is marketing, I know, we have created a culture in the US (and, increasingly, elsewhere) that venerates images of youthfulness (because they have disposable income and lack the self-restraint necessary to not dispose of it); yes, the idea of youth is venerated…
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Muse Baiting

I’m still, and will likely forever be, puzzled about the “why” of making art. Observing art, participating in another’s work, seems much more clear, an act of co-creation that pierces human isolation, connects us the way a good conversation or fight or hug or love-making session does… but making art is not the same experience, at least not for me, it’s more like broadcasting bits of experience for someone else to converse with, shooting radio waves into space. In a social and historical sense, I guess an artist is in conversation with both their predecessors and their peers, though I do think too much contemporary art of all kinds is focused on the current chatter, the easily accessed chorus of voices inching toward and away from a representative style–this is a very broad generalization, I know, and I am thinking more of poetry and prose and music than I am of plastic arts, but anyway–too much cloud thought and decision by committee and not enough listening for voices in the wind, or speaking from musty corners of history. I suspect it has been the case for some time, at least for the last few centuries in Western art, that for the great bulk of artists the salon is…
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The Drone of Nations

So, Osama bin Laden is dead, and as a result I feel…not much. Bored. Perhaps a little sad at the way people are so quick to dance in the blood of their vanquished foe like it was some kind of sporting event. But I know that there will always be people like that, or rather, I know there will always be people who are less than willing to contain their own worst impulses, and that some of them might think better of it, later—and others will just go home and immerse themselves in another distraction. And I know there are people who will take my lack of wrath, and my sadness at the wrath of others, as an invitation to feel even more indignant, to claim that I am somehow sympathizing with a terrorist–but indignation is such a cheap emotion, so much like junk food, a quick flash of simple flavor on the tongue, then nothing but a craving for more, providing no dietary benefit whatsoever. A steady diet of indignation makes for a people primed for silver bullet answers to complex problems: he’s dead, now we have closure, it’s a symbolic victory, he deserved to die. What silver bullets…
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Full Random

When I started listening to all my CDs, I had a few rules, like: I have to listen to each CD from start to finish, not as part of a mix. But, to hell with that, putting 5 CDs in the player and hitting “full random” is often fun, and just as often jarring, but this particular full random set is pretty fucking cool, every song comments on the next in an interesting way… and the whiskey helps, but I’ve had but one, so it’s not simply a booze-fueled diorama my head is creating. No, it is a diorama, but the fuel is the songs, from these 5 CDs, which happened to be the next 5 on the shelf: 422) Johnny Cash: At San Quentin; 423) NOFX: Heavy Petting Zoo;  424) Black 47: Home of the Brave; 425) Zafa: Funky Grooves of Yemen; 426) Spirit: The 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus.  Like eavesdropping on an interesting conversation… it occurs to me that I could get a 100 cd changer and bang out a whole bunch at once, but then I wouldn’t be able to move from the couch for days, unless it had a programmable memory–nah, 5 is a fine…
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Falling behind…

In listing out the CDs I’ve listened to, that is. Ah well, not sure what I was thinking when I decided to listen to them all in order anyway–oh, wait, yes I do: my wife asked how long I thought it would take, which I then inflated into a challenge, “yaha! Of course I can! Though it take me years, I am possessed of stamina, fortitude, and more good CDs than bad ones….” There is still plenty of time for the above statement to be disproved. CD listened to: 401) Jesse Winchester: Love Filling Station; 402) Jesse Winchester: Gentleman of Leisure (these are both new, we were lucky enough to see Jesse perform in Homer, NY at the Center for the Arts. A fine songwriter he is, go hither and find him if you don’t know…); 403) Caitlin Cary: Waltzie; 404) Esquivel: Cabaret Manyana; 405) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Murder Ballads; 406) Nitzer Ebb: Showtime (the musical equivalent of a mesh muscle shirt); 407) Dirty Three: Ocean Songs; 408) War: The Very Best of: 409) The The: Dusk; 410) Van Morrison: His Band and Street Choir; 411) AC/DC: Back in Black; 412) Lyle Lovett: I Love Everybody (such…
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So Tired….

Tired of trying to have fruitful debates with tea partiers, webforum libertarians, spiritual warfare christians, zealots of all stripes… and it seems the GOP has been overrun by these folks, I know they exist on the left too, but geez–it anguishes me, actually, I don’t want to give up, I don’t want to stop trying to have discussion with these folks, but it’s hard to have a discussion with someone for whom listening, really listening and considering what the other person is saying, even if it doesn’t fit your belief system, is considered a weakness. Typical conversations go like this: me: that’s interesting, here is another way to look at that; them: platitude/talking point that changes that subject. me: ok, well, that’s interesting, here is another way to look at that; them: platitude/talking point that changes that subject. And on and on and on, until I get frustrated and quit, or they start calling me names (this happens a lot, as anyone who tries to have these conversations can attest). What do I do? I don’t want to give up, I believe in talking and sharing ideas and learning new things, and in the power of dialogue to enrich our…
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