Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jesse Michaels Thrash Metal Blog

James Whitehead Poem

Good Linemen Live In a Closed World

Good linemen live in a closed world -- they move
Inside themselves to move themselves against
The others and their violence -- they give
To interior visions whole seasons no good sense
Would approve -- their insides creak and groan, crying
A thing that's trapped along the line is shrill
And curious and wants out. Bodies playing
Laugh and dream to gain the massive will
Their trade requires. These men maintain, they attack,
They suffer repetition for years and years.
Part war and similar to art, their work
Is sometimes elegant. Inside their fears
At the closed center of one fear, they move
Quickly against themselves with a massive love.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gut Shabbos

Unplanned Freefall?

Let's say your jet blows apart at 35,000 feet. You exit the aircraft, and you begin to descend independently. Now what?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

38°59′20″N 74°49′12″W

Yiddish Advisor

If you can't go over, go under.
If you have a lot to do, go to sleep.
Sing before seven, cry before eleven.
If you can't do as you wish, do as you can.
When a guest coughs he is lacking a spoon.
When you sweep the house you find everything.
When two say you're drunk it's best to go to sleep.
When a fool goes shopping the shopkeepers rejoice.
If you dance at every wedding, you'll cry at every funeral.
Where people love you, go rarely; where you are hated, go not at all.
Pray that you will never have to endure all that you can learn to bear.
If God lived on earth all his windows would be broken.
Hoping and waiting makes fools out of clever people.
From talebearing and secrets run as from ghosts.
When the people are wrong it's bitter and bad.
For a little love, you pay with all your life.

Good tidings are heard from far away.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

John Kenneth Galbraith Essay

I would like to reflect on one of the oldest of human exercises, the process by which over the years, and indeed over the centuries, we have undertaken to get the poor off our conscience.
Rich and poor have lived together, always uncomfortably and sometimes perilously, since the beginning of time. Plutarch was led to say: "An imbalance between the rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of republics." And the problems that arise from the continuing co-existence of affluence and poverty--and particularly the process by which good fortune is justified in the presence of the ill fortune of others--have been an intellectual preoccupation for centuries. They continue to be so in our own time.
One begins with the solution proposed in the Bible: the poor suffer in this world but are wonderfully rewarded in the next. The poverty is a temporary misfortune; if they are poor and also meek they eventually will inherit the earth. This is, in some ways, an admirable solution. It allows the rich to enjoy their wealth while envying the poor their future fortune. [Harry Crews's "Pages from the Life of a Georgia Innocent" discusses the romanticizing of poverty.]
Much, much later, in the twenty or thirty years following the publication in 1776 of The Wealth of Nations--the late dawn of the Industrial Revolution in Britain--the problem and its solution began to take on their modern form.Jeremy Bentham, a near contemporary of Adam Smith, came up with the formula that for perhaps fifty years was extraordinarily influential in British and, to some degree, American thought. This was utilitarianism. "By the principle of utility," Bentham said in 1789, "is meant the principal which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question." Virtue is, indeed must be, self-centered. While there were people with great good fortune and many more with great ill fortune, the social problem was solved as long as, again in Bentham's words, there was "the greatest good for the greatest number." Society did its best for the largest possible number of people; one accepted that the result might be sadly unpleasant for the many whose happiness was not served.
In the 1830's a new formula, influential in no slight degree to this day, became available for getting the poor off the public conscience. This is associated with the names of David Ricardo, a stockbroker, and Thomas Robert Malthus, a divine. The essentials are familiar: the poverty of the poor was the fault of the poor. And it was so because it was a product of their excessive fecundity: their grievously uncontrolled lust caused them to breed up to the full limits of the available subsistence.

Not Writing

"I should say a little more about this, about not writing. A lot of people ask me about it, and I ask myself. And asking myself why I do not write inevitably leads to another, much more unsettling question: why did I ever write? After all, the normal thing is to read. I have two preferred answers. The first, that my poetry was- without my knowledge- an attempt to create an identity for myself; having created and assumed this identity, I was no longer concerned to throw myself into every poem I set about writing, which is what fascinated me. The other, that it was all a mistake: I believed that I wanted to be a poet, but deep down I wanted to be a poem. And to a degree, an unfortunate degree, I have achieved this; like any reasonably well-crafted poem, I am all need and internal submission to that tormented tyrant, that insomniac, omniscient and ubiquitous Big Brother: Me. Half Caliban, Half Narcissus, I fear him most when I hear him interrogate me, next to an open balcony: "What's a boy of 1950 like you doing in an indifferent year like this?" All the rest is silence."

-Jaime Gil de Biedma

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Perhaps, the Aesthetic Phenomenon

"Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenom."

-Jorge Luis Borges

Vegetrainian Market

Life and How to Leave It

"Every author is surprised anew at the way in which his book, as soon as he has sent it out, continues to live a life of its own; it seems to him as if one part of an insect had been cut off and now went on its way. Perhaps he forgets it almost entirely, perhaps he rises above the view expressed therein, perhaps even he understands it no longer, and has lost that impulse upon which he soared at the time he conceived the book; meanwhile it seeks its readers, inflames life, pleases, horrifies, inspires new works, becomes the soul of designs and actions,- in short it lives like a creature endowed with mind and soul, and yet is no human being. The happiest fate is that of an author who, as an old man, is able to say that all there was of him of life-inspiring, strengthening, exalting, enlightening thoughts and feelings still lives on in his writings, and that he himself now only represents the gray ashes, whilst the fire has been kept alive and spread out. And if we consider that every human action, not only a book, is in some way or other the cause of other actions, decisions, and thoughts; that everything that happens is inseparable connected with everything else that is going to happen, we recognize the real immortality, that of movement, -that which has once moved is enclosed and immortalised in the general union of all existence...

...The thinker, as likewise the artist, who has put his best self into his works, feels an almost malicious joy when he sees how mind and body are being slowly damaged and destroyed by time, as if from a dark corner he were spying a thief at his money-chest, knowing all the time that it was empty and his treasures in safety."    

-Friedrich Nietzsche- from Human, All-Too-Human