Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Living in the Age

As I type this I'm eating the last piece of my birthday cake (after my birthday get together the remains went into the freezer and we've been occasionally having a piece when we were so inclined. It's wonderful (for anyone in the Seattle area, I highly recommend Simply Desserts in Fremont--support a fine poet whose partner and he are also fine bakers). At dinner Jim was asking me again how it feels to be 42. I guess since I've had several weeks now to get used to it. Of course it doesn't feel any different. And of course it does.

Every minute feels different. And they're all exactly the same.

At lunch on Friday, Tamar and I were talking about how when you're young the things you consider to be gray areas are very small, and as you get older more and more things seems to be in that area until hardly anything seems black and white anymore. Is that wisdom? Seeing more and more of the fine details until nothing has quite the stark outline it used to?

Is anything absolute after 40?

I don't mean that I don't have standards or boundaries but everything feels more relational. When I look at the surface of things I see all kinds of webbing linking things to other things just beneath that surface. And I tend to see and understand why people do things, even things that I don't like, and it makes it easier to forgive them for it--or harder to blame them in the first place, though I do think people have to count themselves as responsible for their own actions. I find it harder to accuse them of acting badly. Not always, though.

But I do wonder about people who keep getting themselves in situations where every time they're in them they become a little crazy. Like my friends who always are crazy when there are partners in their lives. How many times do you have to stick your hand in the fire before you get tired of being burned? All I can think of is that sane relationships are one of the hardest things to learn. I'm certainly not sure I've got that one straight myself, but I do try. That is, when I'm not trying to drive Jim crazy.

So I'm learning what it means to be middle-aged. I'd like to think I'm only halfway done--that I have many more years to get done the things that I feel I need to. I'm sure I'll still be feeling the same way at 70.

I hope I have a little more energy, though, and am actually getting some of those things done then. I wonder if that will feel both exactly the same and entirely different. I wonder if I will read these words then and only distantly remember the character that wrote them, just as I often feel when reading The Phonosnout and the person those words help me remember.

I want to live where I am but I want to remember and I want to project myself into the future.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


This weeks' new obsessions are Anne O'Meara Heaton (http://www.anneheaton.com/) and Terami Hirsch (http://www.terami.com). Girls with pianos are dangerous things. Terami Hirsch's disc is full of interesting sounds, weird timings and off-beat songs. There are a few Tori-influenced soundings here, but mostly not, I'd say.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Alexandra Lapierre's fictionalized biography, Artemisia, about the Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, was an interesting read. I was fascinated about the places where she was obviously fictionalizing and where things were clearly based on documentation from the time. I wouldn't say that it swept me up in it like so many novels can--it seemed to be scanning too much and not getting as deeply into the character as most novels do--but neither did it feel as filtered-through-the-author's-perspective as most biographies do to me. Gentileschi was a fascinating woman. I first came across her when I took a women artists course back in graduate school. The daughter of a well-known painter whose style she emulated many critics felt that she stole from her father, but at the time she was actually at least as famous and respected as her father if not more so. She was also famous for taking another painter to court for rape, and for actually winning the case, even though it almost ruined her family. But they lived to paint again, and Artemisia later married and continued to paint, though separated from her father pretty much for the rest of her life. An intriguing read.

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Only revisions this week. That's all.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1978

923. Pas sumer

Lhudely sing goddam (sumer ain't icumen in. Howl, howl, howl) [1]. ("So I said I am Ezra") [2]. This is all.

924. Drawing board

And it's back to the drawing board, start again from the beginning work again to where we are and it's O Lord I'm stoned again [3], my view of the world has gone all dark and grainy, my tea has made my mouth run raw, back to the drawing board, trying again, again, again, 300 times a day. No less, nor more, only wander through the days trying to find where they hid that board, downing another cup of tea.

925. Burn, baby, burn

How Weary, flat, stale, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world [4]. Everything hurts so much today. Everything scratches too deeply. Poem? Poem? [Quote from a Margaret Atwood poem about hooks and eyes omitted.] Bloody hell. O dear. And it's burn, baby, burn [5]

926. Adam

[Quote from Jackson Browne's "Song For Adam" deleted (6).] Maybe he was tripped. Marty says he said "I will" and that was a dive. I kind of hold to the theory that he was tripped, probably it was a little of both.

927. The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry 7.

Uh huh, Fenollosa, ya knew a few things ya did. Pure metaphor, poor English. Impoverished English. Starving English, dependent on junk food and little else. No wonder you ache so much for so much more. No wonder there will be a wandering.4.

928. Lord of the Starfields

[The entire entry consists of lines from Bruce Cockburn's song of this title, an Osmond's song about going back to God, and a song about "Sunday Morning".]

929. Tom Jones

'e's out lookin' for Sophia, who is waitin' for 'im to catch up. Far too complex for basically simple minds like mine--o yawn I wonder how far this will take me [Quote from a Randy Matthews song about how if hell is any hotter than life already is, then he doesn't want to die.]

930. 'Elp

Nine thirty o dear sosholgy starts at 9:30 (yawn) an' I gotta have a lot read by then. I really shouldn't go 'way this weekend but fer my piece (peace?) o' mind i gotta, so I'm goin' an' to 'ell with it all! (I'm the one that's going to 'ell.)

931. Elves & dwarves

All over the place, runnin' round where we don't know, can't see, but they're there jus' runnin' 'round. Sometimes ya catch a glimpse o' them, jus' sometimes and not much o' them ever. Never catch 'em not likely they'll catch you. They only dream about you.

932. The Lady of Shalott

Uh huh--oh yeah, boring.
Hello Hello from me. Chris, that is. A person who is bored too. Hello bored Nancy. Hello bored class. I wonder how much they pay that guy. Alot [sic].


1. A take on a medieval lyric.

2. The title of A.R. Ammon's poem.

3. I don't think literally. While I'd started smoking illegal substances at 15, there were several years at this time that I didn't touch the stuff.

4. Hamlet. Give a give a literature survey class and she goes hog wild.

5. Reference to a Bruce Cockburn song.

6. I only knew the song from Larry Norman's version of it on Streams of White Light into Darkened Corners, and album where he and his friends did a series of covers of pseudo-Christian songs.

7. About the book by Fenollosa, championed by Ezra Pound as a theory of poetic aesthetics based on the image. I'm sure there's more about this stuff on the web somewhere so I'm not going to explain it further.

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