Seek and ye shall find, September 2017

I love advice columns in general, even when the columnist is terrible at his/her job. It’s fascinating, the problems that resonate so strongly inside a person that they ask a stranger for help. Anyway. Captain Awkward is one of the good ones, but one of my favorite series on the site is generated from letter writers but rather the crumbs of internet history that led people to the site: It Came from the Search Terms.search

It finally occurred to me check my own search terms. While nowhere near as interesting as the Captain’s, it might be fun to look at these once in a while….

Search Terms:
we make out of the quarrel with others rhetoric meaning
Close! W. B. Yeats said, “We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”

poems to send someone who is no understanding
I am not optimistic that you will be able to make them understand, but I love that you are solving an interpersonal problem with poetry.

I also don’t know what you want the person to understand, but I’ll try to help anyway. The first poem that comes to mind is W. H. Auden, “If I Could Tell You.” Or how about “Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay?

dorothy parker flop
Love is a permanent flop.

wallace stevens man carrying thing
A brune figure in winter evening resists / Identity.

ахматова меня как реку
Суровая эпоха повернула.

forgotten package death sentence
F. S. Fitzgerald— Now the standard cure for one who is sunk is to consider those in actual destitution or physical suffering — this is an all-weather beatitude for gloom in general and fairly salutary daytime advice for everyone. But at three o’clock in the morning, a forgotten package has the same tragic importance as a death sentence, and the cure doesn’t work — and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.

comment on sit feast on your love in “love for love”
Your teacher and classmates want to hear what it means to you, not some random internet person! I’ll give you a hint, though: The poem is about feeling love for yourself after your love affair with someone else has ended.

the literary world larkin poem
Kafka and Tennyson.

frances havergal polyarchive “stars of light”
Frances Ridley Havergal | Compensation

foto eddie vedder
Danny Clinch takes the best.

mark jarman surfer
“Ground Swell”?

love poem for kenneth
Awww. I hope you mean this Kenneth:

Kenneth Parcell

Kenneth Parcell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anywho, i carry your heart is always a solid choice.

ted.com sir ken robinson
Wait, is that the Kenneth you wanted the love poem for?

poem about love of work
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow–A Psalm of Life
You Want a Social Life, with Friends | Kenneth Koch

winmx cyrillic winmx russian
I’ve got nothing. Извиняюсь.

nie z żałości pytam ale z zamyślenia
Miłości moja, gdzież są, dokąd idą

ee cummings introduction to new poems
“The poems to come are for you and for me and are not for mostpeople– it’s no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike.”

Unknown search terms: 733
That’s maddening, isn’t it? Google, what are you doing keeping us in the dark?

 

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What We Have Been Makes Us What We Are

Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are. –George Eliot, Middlemarch

I carried an undeveloped roll of film with me, through moves to no less than 11 houses and apartments, for at least 12 years.

I had shot it with a cheap hand-me-down Vivitar camera, for which I had never owned the flash attachment, before I went away to college. It was the first and last time I ever used the camera. There were shots of my dogs and of my favorite haunts. As much as I was interested in photography, I was painfully aware of how little subject matter I had. No travels, no close friends, lonely solitary hobbies like reading and cross-stitch. Pocket money was stashed away in hopes of a time when things would be different, so there was no cash to spare for processing photos that might not even turn out.

As you may know, the next decade was a frantic series of attempts to change, to grow, to learn, to travel, to make friends. Money got shorter than ever as I took on massive debts to make these things happen. Somehow the roll of film was always packed in the office supply box for each move I made, across town and across country. Both of the dogs photographed on the film died.

It seemed more impossible than ever to develop this film. It would hurt too much, I told myself. And who knows if it even took in the first place?

I had a vague knowledge that film expires, turns red like the glow of a memory. Finally, two years after my last move, 6 years after my beloved American pit bull terrier died, 3 years after my last international travel (my honeymoon), it felt as though the time had arrived to see what this film would look like. In some ways I am poorer and lonelier than ever, and even less accomplished at hobbies and less mentally alert than I was at 19, but I have the strength to survive a look at anything these days. Even a portrait of the sad little self I still carry inside me.

I developed the film this past weekend. With the exception of a few frames decayed beyond recognition, I think they came out rather well.

The Letter | Dana Gioia

The Letter
by Dana Gioia

 

 

 

Adams Express Company postmark, with 'Paid 10'...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
And in the end, all that is really left
Is a feeling—strong and unavoidable—
That somehow we deserved something better.
That somewhere along the line things
Got fouled up. And that letter from whoever’s
In charge, which certainly would have set
Everything straight between us and the world,
Never reached us. Got lost somewhere.
Possibly mislaid in some provincial station.
Or sent by mistake to an old address
Whose new tenant put it on her dresser
With the curlers and the hairspray forgetting
To give it to the landlord to forward.
And we still wait like children who have sent
Two weeks’ allowance far away
To answer an enticing advertisement
From a crumbling, yellow magazine,
Watching through years as long as a childhood summer,
Checking the postbox with impatient faith
Even on days when mail is never brought.

 

 

 

 

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Wallace Stevens | Man Carrying Thing

Man Carrying Thing
Wallace Stevens

Snowflakes at night

(Photo credit: krystian_o)

The poem must resist the intelligence
Almost successfully. Illustration:

A brune figure in winter evening resists
Identity. The thing he carries resists

The most necessitous sense. Accept them, then,
As secondary (parts not quite perceived

Of the obvious whole, uncertain particles
Of the certain solid, the primary free from doubt,

Things floating like the first hundred flakes of snow
Out of a storm we must endure all night,

Out of a storm of secondary things),
A horror of thoughts that suddenly are real.

We must endure our thoughts all night, until
The bright obvious stands motionless in cold.

 

From Transport to Summer, 1947.

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Digging | Seamus Heaney

Digging
Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Seamus Heaney

(Photo credit: Burns Library, Boston College)

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney, “Digging” from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney.

Conrad Aiken ~ Discordants

Discordants

I. (Bread and Music)

MUSIC I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
Now that I am without you, all is desolate;
All that was once so beautiful is dead.

Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
These things do not remember you, belovèd,
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.

For it was in my heart you moved among them,
And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;
And in my heart they will remember always,–
They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

II

My heart has become as hard as a city street,
The horses trample upon it, it sings like iron,
All day long and all night long they beat,
They ring like the hooves of time.

My heart has become as drab as a city park,
The grass is worn with the feet of shameless lovers,
A match is struck, there is kissing in the dark,
The moon comes, pale with sleep.

My heart is torn with the sound of raucous voices,
They shout from the slums, from the streets, from the crowded places,
And tunes from the hurdy-gurdy that coldly rejoices
Shoot arrows into my heart.

III

Dead Cleopatra lies in a crystal casket,
Wrapped and spiced by the cunningest of hands.
Around her neck they have put a golden necklace,
Her tatbebs, it is said, are worn with sands.

Dead Cleopatra was once revered in Egypt,
Warm-eyed she was, this princess of the South.
Now she is old and dry and faded,
With black bitumen they have sealed up her mouth.

O sweet clean earth, from whom the green blade cometh!
When we are dead, my best belovèd and I,
Close well above us, that we may rest forever,
Sending up grass and blossoms to the sky.

IV

In the noisy street,
Where the sifted sunlight yellows the pallid faces,
Sudden I close my eyes, and on my eyelids
Feel from the far-off sea a cool faint spray,–

A breath on my cheek,
From the tumbling breakers and foam, the hard sand shattered,
Gulls in the high wind whistling, flashing waters,
Smoke from the flashing waters blown on rocks;

–And I know once more,
O dearly belovèd! that all these seas are between us,
Tumult and madness, desolate save for the sea-gulls,
You on the farther shore, and I in this street.
Sea gulls Solitude 2
by Conrad Aiken

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We Shall Not Cease from Exploration

I love, love, love T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (previously). The words, “We shall not cease from exploration” give me goosebumps every time I read them. How does one take those words to heart, to take a visceral experience and illuminate the everyday tedium with it? To just not cease from exploration? Can it be that simple?

 

The Cave at Lands End - Cabo San Lucas

The Cave at Lands End – Cabo San Lucas (Photo credit: Camerons Personal Page)

 

I don’t know. But here goes.

 

When I started blogging in 2002, I would often list what I was reading/watching/listening to/thinking about. (I’m pretty sure this idea first came from Dooce.) Then I moved from updating an HTML doc on my self-hosted site to a blogging platform (shame: LiveJournal), and the practice kind of tapered off. So without further ado, or adieu, here are some recent discoveries:

 

 

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the infinite sky

There’s a Peanuts cartoon (wish I could find it), in which Charlie Brown says, “I’ve watched this movie 29 times, and Shane never comes back.”

I feel the exact same way about Prince Andrey Bolkonsky in War and Peace. Recently, I did a freelance project (a Cliff Notes type thing) for W&P, and so I read it for the fourth and most deliberate time (though not the most painful–that would be the time I had to do it in Russian). And I’ve watched some of the film adaptations–some of which are harder to get through than a 560,000 word novel.

And every time, I keep hoping that Andrey won’t die and leave everyone else to sink into mediocrity. But he always does, and they always do. When he dies, his transcendent vision of the infinite sky expires with him.

I may post some excerpts of my project here. It really is an amazing book, all hype aside.

In looking for images for this post, I found the various interpretations of Andrey to be fascinating:

First, an illustration by Valentin Serov:

tumblr_m8wb87wdQN1rd3w7po1_500

Then, Mel Ferrer, 1956 USA version:

War_and_peace4

That is a terrible, terrible blond toupee.

Daniel Massey, 1963 UK version:

WAR AND PEACE

Not sure what scene this is supposed to be…

Vyacheslav Tikhonov, 1965ish USSR version:

v.tikhonov bolkonsky

Good casting. Bondarchuk almost redeems himself for casting that sweaty old guy (himself) to play Pierre. Oh wait, no it doesn’t at all.

Vyacheslav-Tikhonov-and-V-001

Oh hai Napoleon.

And then, my friends, we have Alan Dobie in the 1973 UK miniseries (with Sir Anthony Hopkins as Pierre):

tve4703-19721007-622

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wpcbaker

Nathan Gunn, French opera production, 2000:

nathangunnwp

Alessio Boni, 2007 miniseries by multiple European countries: kriegundfrieden_ov

“So insignificant at that moment seemed to him all the interests that engrossed Napoleon, so mean did his hero himself with his paltry vanity and joy in victory appear, compared to the lofty, equitable, and kindly sky which he had seen and understood, that he could not answer him.

“Everything seemed so futile and insignificant in comparison with the stern and solemn train of thought that weakness from loss of blood, suffering, and the nearness of death aroused in him. Looking into Napoleon’s eyes Prince Andrew thought of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life which no one could understand, and the still greater unimportance of death, the meaning of which no one alive could understand or explain.”

–Lev Tolstoy, War and Peace

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Shoe Event Horizon

Shelly's Shoes

(Photo credit: Louis Beche)

Many years ago this was a thriving, happy planet – people, cities, shops, a normal world. Except that on the high streets of these cities there were slightly more shoe shops than one might have thought necessary. And slowly, insidiously, the number of the shoe shops were increasing. It’s a well-known economic phenomenon but tragic to see it in operation, for the more shoe shops there were, the more shoes they had to make and the worse and more unwearable they became. And the worse they were to wear, the more people had to buy to keep themselves shod, and the more the shops proliferated, until the whole economy of the place passed what I believe is termed the Shoe Event Horizon, and it became no longer economically possible to build anything other than shoe shops. Result – collapse, ruin and famine. Most of the population died out. Those few who had the right kind of genetic instability mutated into birds who cursed their feet, cursed the ground and vowed that no one should walk on it again.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

A local version of Shoe store (鞋鋪) in Mong kok...

Shoe store (鞋鋪) in Mong kok , Hong Kong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The shoe event horizon

(Photo credit: abrinsky)

think of the little children!
(Photo credit: ztephen)