Monday, March 31, 2008

books and compatibility

The new york times has an article on whether people have to like the same books to be compatible. I really don't think so. I mean, on some level, there has to be some intelligence there, but there are all different sorts of interests, and certainly it doesn't matter much of they know who Nabokov is, or some other arbitrary hoop you might want them to jump through. I personally think compatibility is a lot more complicated than it might appear, and if the interests or perceptions are the same on a certain level, then nothing else matters too much. After all, who wants to marry a mirror image of themself? Love is not directed by the rational side of the brain, which can be a little disconcerting.
Then again, whoever you like has to share some of your interests I would guess.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

cell phones and reality

I didn't switch to a cell phone until last month, when I realized I would spend less money on a prepaid plan than I was spending on a regular phone. Another factor is that there is not a single pay phone anywhere on LBCC campus any more. I am starting to like the thing, and am realizing how much more convenient it is to try to meet someone in the city if you have one. The thing is, it's expected to have one these days, kind of the new reality, where mobile communication is possible. Sure, we got along without them in the past, but why not use them? It's not necessarily going to improve your social life, but it will make it easier for people to reach you, which can be handy.

Mere living alone does not isolate a man, mere living together does not bring men into communion. The common life can either make one more of a person or less of a person, depending whether it is truly common life or merely life in a crowd. To live in communion, in genuine dialogue with others is absolutely necessary if man is to remain human. But to live in the midst of others, sharing nothing with them but the common noise and the general distraction, isolates a man in the worst way, separates him from reality in a way that is almost painless.-Thomas Merton

The Beauty of Things
To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things-
earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars-
The strange beauty of human nature, its thoughts,
attitudes, and passions,
And unhuman nature in its towering reality-
For man's half dream; man, you might say, is nature
dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant-to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express, the
Beauty, is the diversion of poetry.
The rest's elsewhere: those holy or noble sentiments, the
intricate ideas,
The love, longing: reasons, but in counterpose.
-Robinson Jeffers

Jeffers was a strange one, very intense, a son of a minister, who lived in a stone tower on the coast of California, at Carmel, in the 30's. A stone tower that he built himself. His poems more or less focus on natural beauty. He can be somewhat overly unhuman, and that has counted against him over the years.

Friday, March 28, 2008

it's kind of annoying

to have people writing publicly about me on their blog. If you have a problem, send me an email. I will get the message. Plus it's a drag to get into a conflict with somebody you did have some good discussions with and who you recognize as an intelligent person, and I don't say that about everybody.

I'm heading up to Portland today, to watch the people stroll around the Lloyd center, walk around and look at the buildings, hang out with friends, discuss economics, and trade witticisms. It will be nice to get out of town. As a matter of fact, I'm splitting right after I make another espresso and put new batteries in the camera.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

how many thousands...

How many thousands of divinity students
have dipped their bodies into the old night of your name.
What the girls waken to is you,
and when the young men dressed in silver weave
and flash in battle-that is also you.

The poets always met.
in your long vaulted corridors.
And they were emperors of pure sound
and moving and deep and assured.

You are the delicate hour at nightfall
that makes all the poets equally good;
you crowd full of darkness into their mouths,
and every poet, sensing he has discovered greatness,
surrounds you with magnificent things.

A hundred thousand harps take you
like wings and sweep you up out of silence
And your primitive wind is blowing
the fragrance of your marvelous power
to every being and to every creature in need.
-rilke, translated by robert bly


Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock, is a collection of stories about incredibly poor and messed up people in a small town in Ohio. The author lived in a town by the same name and worked in a paper mill there for thirty years before coming out with this book. The writing is good and shocking, maybe in the manner of a Jim Thompson novel, but the characters are even more decrepit. It is holding my interest and inspiring me to maybe rework some of my stories.

The hail was actually coming down and reminding me of some lines:

The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams
the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've been feeling kind of indifferent towards things today, just a generalized indifference that focuses on nothing in particular. An indifferent indifference. I wasn't indifferent to the rain. Walking around in the rain is something I always find relaxing, and the rain today was quite enjoyable (said like the oregonian that I am). I get a kick out of the quiet of the town this week, and it doesn't seem depressing to me, but more like a kind of portentious feeling, and a kind of opportunity to delve down to the things that really matter, and think of what I really need to be concerned with.

Shotokan seminar with Sensei Smaby, 7th dan

I got up really late today and it is pouring down rain, and the cat was wondering why I was asleep so late. I guess mowing the lawn is out, ....not that I was looking forward to that.
The JKA-US NW, the regional Shotokan organization, has a seminar coming up week after next here in Corvallis, so it will be good to be ready for that. And then next month in Bend is the regional tournament, and I would like to do well and maybe even go to the national tournament. I don't have much competition around here, sparring-wise. I guess maybe I should go around to the other schools to see if visiting is an option.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nietzsche on scholars


Nietzsche, from "On Scholars" in Thus Spake Zarathustra:
"I am too hot and burned by my own thoughts; often it nearly takes my breath away. Then I must go out into the open and away from all dusty rooms. But they sit cool in the cool shade: in everything they want to be mere spectators, and they beware of sitting where the sun burns on the steps. Like those who stand in the street and gape at the people who pass by, they too wait and gape at thoughts that others have thought.

Here's one of the best Peggy-O's ever recorded:

spring '77 peggy-o's

The grateful dead weren't that great in the late 70's, for the most part. Terrapin Station wasn't much of an album, although it had a lot of good parts. The other albums of the time were kind of hit-and-miss. Apparently though, three shows in spring of '77 are legendary, particularly the versions of peggy-o played on those three occasions. The song is incredibly beautiful and jerry encompasses so much in his voice. I finally located an mp3 of one of those shows. It made me happy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

windows of the almshouse

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard times. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; The snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.....Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society. ....Moreover, if you are restricted in your range by poverty, if you cannot buy books and newspapers, for instance, you are but confined to the most significant and vital experiences; you are compelled to deal with the material which yields the most sugar and the most starch. It is life near the bone where it is sweetest....I delight to come to my bearings-not walk in procession with pomp and parade, in a conspicuous place, but to walk even with the Builder of the universe, if I may-not to live in this restless, nervous, bustling, trivial nineteenth century, but stand or sit thoughtfully while it goes by. What are men celebrating? They are all on a committee of arrangements, and hourly expect a speech from somebody.

Anyway, that is all good advice. I would say this Easter has pretty much gotten to me. I managed to work out today, but I am still not feeling well, some lingering cold, but it should have been better by now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

more rilke

My life is not this vertical hour
in which you find my passing at a run.
I am a tree in front of my own background,
I am only one of the sounds,
and that would be first to be silent.

I am the quiet between two sound
that only with difficulty grow used to one
for the tone of Death also wishes to be heard-

But in the darkness of the interval
they make peace with one another, uncommonly
And the song continues sweet.

Hail to the spirit that would connect us;
in that we live truly in figures.
And with small steps pass the hours
beside our authentic day.

Without knowing our true place
we are moved to action be real relation.
Antennae feel antennae
carried by empty distance...

Pure tension. O Music of powers!
Is not through this venial industry
every disturbance deflected from you?

Even when the farmer cares and toils
to that place where the seed itself transforms,
he does not reach. The Earth bestows.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

books I read recently and other thoughts

Book of Jamaica, by Russell Banks: this starts out pretty well, and Banks obviously has some understanding of that environment.

Continental Drift, by same. This is a brutal book, about a working class guy from the northeast who moves to Florida and gets into all kinds of trouble.

Rule of the Bone, by same. About a fourteen year old pot smoker living in sordid conditions. The characterizations are quite good. The first half of the book is great.

Russell Banks writes about losers and crazies and low-income types, and he does it with some understanding and believability.

Stephen King's new book is very readable.

Eliot Spitzer was a fool. The sad thing is, he was an innovator on passing human trafficking laws. He was also trying to do something about the corruption on Wall Street. But anyway, he's gone. Way to go, Eliot.