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Les Semaines

01.02.25

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

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Dork Factor Rising

As the day has gone on, I've been dressed dorkier and dorkier. I guess I could say that this is because it's Sunday and laundry day and the day started quite warm but has been getting steadily colder so I've been adding odd layers, but I prefer just to admit that it's Dork Factor Rising.

The cats feel the same way. We spotted a flea on Sophia, and so gave them both an Advantage treatment and their fur has been getting ruffled and strange-looking as the medicine spreads through it to get rid of those darn fleas. Sophia is restless. Zach is resigned, and has curled up on the daybed behind me to just get some sleep. He likes to sleep there on Sundays. It's companionable, and this room gets a fair bit of sun, and he also knows that I will rescue him if Sophia starts to bug him too much. And besides, there's that nice soft daybed with various pillows on it to curl on and against.

Another Dork Factor: last night I enjoyed watching the animated movie Titan AE with Jim and Tamar. The dorky part is that if you sat down to analyze it you could pick the movie apart in almost every way, but as long as I could screen out Jim's sarcastic comments, I enjoyed it.

My study is a mess, and the focus of it is clearly the computer. That's dorky. The cds and zip disks and videotapes piled to mail to our friend in Japan add to the ambience.

Anti-dork--I'm drinking on a school night (meaning the night before work. I'ts probably dorky that we still refer to them as school nights). Having a glass of pear cider while we wait for Tamar to show up for dinner. She's still packing, so we invited her over to collapse after her long day. Mind you, cider is a sorta dorky beverage, for alcohol. The only other alcohol I really like is single-malt scotch, and then mostly only the peaty ones. I think it's dorky that I'm so particular--it has nothing to do with class and everything to do with the sharpness of other scotches making me physically shudder when I try to drink them. I also like the flavour of many wines, but have some related allergic reactions that I try to avoid (meaning my face goes bright scarlet which looks really dorky).

So now I'm drinking cider so I'm so dorkily thinking I'm the rowdy dork, the chancy dork, the wild dork. Hear me roar.

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Listening

This is a listening and watching thing as this week we got a copy of Björk's Volumen video collection on DVD (our first and probably only for a long time DVD purchase). I spent many hours fussing with my computer (doing a clean system reinstall then trying to get everything working again) to get the DVD player working again, and since then we've been enjoying seeing/hearing Björk. I love her extremely individual vocal talent (well, there's Bloem de Ligny) and that she works with such creative visual people to do her videos. It's really a treat.

Otherwise, like last week, there has been much listening to Splashdown's blueshift, and also to Two Loons for Tea. I can't imagine getting tired of either of these though I've been playing them to death. Oh, and the new Basque disc, falling forward, which is a great addition to their catalogue. Listening to it is an almost transporting experience.

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Reading

Mark Chadbourn's Darkest Hour is a continuation in The Age of Misrule series that he began with World's End (commented on in my October 15, 2000 entry). In it the old Celtic gods--both the negative and positive ones--have come back to the earth. It's the end of the scientific age and the beginning of the new world of magic. But the dark forces are intent on destroying the world and the good forces, well, do they care about the fragile creatures that are humans? Here the heroes continue their battle against allowing the dark forces to destroy everything. This is a dark fantasy--violent and frequently closer to horror than I usually like, but with moments of great beauty and positive magic. And inhuman magic that is neither positive nor negative. The characters are strong, which is one of this novel's greatest and strongest threads. And they suffer in realistic ways, in human ways, despite the inhuman events around them. Recommended for anyone to whom this sounds intriguing. Too bad these books are only available in the U.K., but they're worth the effort to get them.

Dia Calhoun's young adult novel Firegold was a pleasant surprise for me. Quite frankly, between the shiny metallic artwork on the cover and the title I wasn't expecting much but was intrigued enough to get it from the library. It's the story of a teenager, Jonathon, who lives in a valley full of orchards. He has blue eyes, and is an outcast, but it never occurs to him that he is one of the reviled Dalraida until the valley people accuse him of causing a blight on their trees and he is forced to leave. Then he begins to discover more about the people he comes from--both in the valley and in the mountains. This sounds like a clichéd tale, but it is saved from it by the vivid snippets of valley life and of Jonathon's character. While I wouldn't consider this exactly a classic, I thought it was well-told. A lot happens in the book and yet it doesn't feel rushed. Recommended.

While I was sick I read the third of the Maeve Binchy novels I borrowed from my mother months ago. This one was Echoes, and it's the story of two children growing up in a small seaside tourist town in Ireland. One is the daughter of a small grocer and the other the son of the local doctor, which in that time and place was a dramatic difference. It's the story of the town's characters and how they worked toward having a good life and the tale of how the two children grew up and how they fell in love despite the barriers caused by their class difference. The novel is full of interesting, realistic characters and there's a strong sense that you could actually walk into this town and recognize them. A delightful read.

Following that I read another novel my mother recommended, Marika Cobbold's A Rival Creation. I was intrigued by the main character's suffering--she's a novelist who has suffered the midlist slash--suddenly no one will publish her novels and she realizes that she really can't write and must figure out something else to do with her life. My problem with the novel is that she isn't particularly charming or interesting, and seems, in British schoolboy slang, rather wet. I found her annoying rather than interesting, and I think that coloured the whole book for me. I think what appealed to my Mom most of all was the English village setting, which appeals to me in idea but not particularly in this novel. Blah.

Barbara Vine's (actually Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine) The House of Stairs is another novel that I found recommended online and took out from the library on that basis. This is a murder mystery, but the murderer is known from the first few pages--what is gradually revealed over the course of the novel is who is murdered and why. I really enjoyed this. It's told by someone intimately wrapped up in the lives of the murderess and the murdered and is about the tangled relationships in the groups of characters that surround the event. The narrator explains her relationship with the murderess--her fascination, really--and the other intricate emotional relationships in The House of Stairs, a house her wealthy, eccentric aunt buys and fills with young people, including the narrator, that she basically supports. I liked the way the mystery was told, the emotional wrangling that goes on, and the strong sense of the narrator's character and her coloured view of the events. Very well told, and recommended. I don't normally like mysteries much but I thoroughly enjoyed this.

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Writing

Spent some time this week working on that damn long poem. That's about all. Lame dork.

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Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

June - July 1979

1010. Characters
Saturday, June 16/79

I am a character in someone's existentialist novel. I exist merely in their dream, without thoughts, or existence, of my own. At times my life is romantic and daring, yet when the person is not thinking of me I lie like a field: fallow & listless. Dreaming, until I am called on again to play my part. I am like the actor waiting backstage for his cue, rehearsing. I am heavy with my action, my role, I carry it within me like a child. At times I take it out and look it over, turning it over and over in my hands, sometimes with awe and wonder, sometimes inattentively and without reason or thought. (For I smell of burnt cedar, and words.)
     The heaviness of the gray sky is often my stage and the other characters are arbutus [1], cedar, dogwood, and fir. Sometimes people follow the stage with me, but rarely, and never with anymore conception of the stage or the roles than I. It is light, and eyes follow my eyes, and the dreaming spreads. Never have I seen my puppeteer, never has there been a leading role as large as mine. Never have I slept and dreamt anything but this life, this stage, this novel. Any emotion I feel is like battering a padded cage. It is never sent and received, merely sent and returning, half-absorbed by the walls.
     This is here, and this is all. I may sit and wait for moral conclusions forever. They can never be drawn, though there is no lack of data, simply, nothing ever adds up to more than anything but the moment.

1011. Tristement
Sunday, July 15, 1979

Now Randy has run away. Seven days ago the separation began, now we are trying to make it complete. Linda [2] made it the three, the family, which caused disintegration--now Randy is really running. Away from everything--school, life, God, himself, me, Linda...oh ever on. I feel part of his pain, but not enough, I can't die for him any longer, I can only let him go--placing him in the only hands I know to trust him in. The disintegration; the disappearance. Happening forever, eternally, like the stream of darkness inside an object without air or space for light to fill (where there is an absence of light there is darkness.) Now it is night, and Randy is silent somewhere consuming himself "This is the bond, the darkness, and the night beyond" [3].) I wonder if Randy will ever get far enough away from himself to grow up, to laugh at himself--take a distance from the darkness, and laugh. It is night it something over for him--growing. Now he will only shrink and die--or recover. I hoped, I had hoped, I even dreamed--and that is where the danger came in. ("I am drawn simply because it is so dangerous.")

1012. Lines from Home
July 17/79

A mountain hazes in the distance:
People keep reducing themselves.

1013. Running Home
July 22nd

Randy has run home again. So have I. Linda is off to her sister's--Trevor is icumen home (lhudely sing cuckoo). Mix ups & magic--messes. Messages. Morning. I have run home. Randy is better, we love suddenly, for how long? Can I count on anything? The cycle brings us all running home, but soon we will be stepping out again. I have to get writing--I haven't done any serious writing in a forever, and oh, I am tired. Drifting through work.

1014. Marijke
July 25th

Marijke [4] steps through time in to the mountain that hazes in the distance. Marijke steps through time and distance, into...more time and more distance (Yes, o yes, the mountains to the east must remain there. I am beginning to understand 5). Stepping through time and distance and the weather is always River 6. The time is distance and she/I wade(s) through it like the liquidity of light. Wind is spirit, and time and light. The dimensions all meet in time, they all reach the peak of their sudden perfection, and here I taste it, drink it light a heady wine. It all revolves around the self, and it is me. It is me revolving around my self. It is so very other with the mountain hazing in the time of distance. (touching)

1015. In which we begin again
July 16/79

Here we take our first step out the/into the door. Here we enter the door, and entering leave it. Here we wander into the hazy beyond, inside/behind the door. Inside the hollowness inside the wood. Beyond it. And I am the door. Enter. 7

1016.

(aside--the Sidhe/Are dextrous fishers, and they fish for men/with dreams upon the hook." The Only Jealousy of Emer - Yeats (Hook twice the glory; twice the fear. 8)


NOTES

1. A tree known here in the Altered States of America as a madrona.

2. Linda was a friend I made in my Shakespeare class the summer before. Her husband Trevor (whom she was about to leave) went out of town, and I went to stay with her for a while to keep her company, and of course with me went Randy.

3. I don't know if this is a quote from something or if it's my own.

4. Marijke was a real person, but she became a character in a poem of mine and from there became a mythic woman in my poetry and in Harold's.

5. Referring to a J. Michael Yates line.

6. A reference to a poem of mine, later called simply "River" which appeared in Seven Robins.

7. I used something rather like these lines later in a poem called "Cassandra" which also appeared in Seven Robins.

8. A reference to a refrain in the wonderful Canadian novel, The Double Hook, which I believe I'd read for the first time in my Canadian Literature course the previous May.

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