Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ten Books Zesty Loves!

1. Selected Poems - Gwendolyn Brooks
2. The Fact of a Doorframe - Adrienne Rich
3. NP - Banana Yoshimoto
4. The Scripture of the Golden Eternity - Jack Kerouac
5. The Essential Haiku:  Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa - Robert Haas
6. Refusing Heaven - Jack Gilbert
7. Words Under the Words - Naomi Shihab Nye
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
9. Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler
10. Dubliners - James Joyce

Monday, 27 January 2014

Quote of the Week - de Mille

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess and we may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” 
~ Agnes de Mille

Leaping! Hello 2014!  Grammys are over - Sundance is over - let's get back to work!

Happy Monday!  Leap Leap Leap!

(I couldn't find where I first saw this image - it was in an article about the photograph, but I re-found it on Sean Rowe's Tumblr - and if you don't know his music, get to know it.)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Top Ten Books of the Week!

Wow - this brings us up to 70 books!  When I hit 100 I will make a big list and maybe even organize by category.

2. Island Possessed – Katherine Dunham

3. Tell My Horse – Zora Neale Hurston

4. Passing – Nella Larson

5. Tropic of Capricorn - Henry Miller

6. The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinkski

7. Geek Love - Katherine Dunn

8. Hawthorne's Short Stories - Nathaniel Hawthorne

9. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

10. City of Quartz - Mike Davis

p.s.  Who can tell me what the picture's from?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Quote of the Week - Li Na

"This is tennis. Nobody says if you win the first set easy you win the second set easy" 
~ Li Na (via Australian Open Twitter)

Same as life.

Hang on. Pace yourself. Life's a five-setter with no tie-break in the fifth.

Happy Monday!

Update: And she won the whole tournament! And she's the oldest winner ever!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Goldfinch Erasure Poem

Have you noted my Goldfinch obsession?  Yeah, not even going to put in links to it - this whole blog feels linked to it lately.  I've put in the cited text below (which I hope is legal!), but if you're going to read the book, just don't read that text.  It won't like spoil anything, but it might be ever so slightly less beautiful and revelatory when you get to it.  And I wouldn't want to do that to you.  I just put it there as a reference to the erasure.  To be clear:  all the great things in this erasure poem were already put there by Ms. Tartt.  This is just a game with words - like Hobie stripping down a piece to see the wonder of its origin, behold its grain.  

The Goldfinch Erasure Poem
p. 761 (Kindle Edtiion)

I’d just as soon forget
the hum of a tuning fork.
here me time
White noise
impersonal roar
Deadening incandescence
boarding terminals soul-free
drenched with meaning
spangled thundering Sky Mall.

Drambuie Tanqueray Chanel No. 5

beauty alters grain of reality

pursuit of pure beauty a trap
beauty has to be wedded meaningful.

Only am I the way I am

care about all the wrong things
nothing right

to tip clearly
everything I love or care
illusion, and yet
all that’s worth living for lies charm

great sorrow beginning
understand: we don’t get to choose
our own hearts. can’t make ourselves
what’s good for us
for other people
don’t get to choose the people we are.

drilled childhood platitude culture
Lady Gaga Rumi Tosca
uniform message: doubt what to do
right shrink, career answer:

“Be yourself.”
“Follow your heart.”

someone possessed a heart that can’t be trusted
heart unfathomable leads willfully
cloud of unspeakable radiance
away health, domesticity, civic responsibility
strong social connections
common virtues
straight towards a
beautiful flare

 e. amato

Original Text:

I’d just as soon forget, but I can’t. It’s kind of the hum of a tuning fork. It’s just there. It’s here with me all the time. White noise, impersonal roar. Deadening incandescence of the boarding terminals. But even these soul-free, sealed-off places are drenched with meaning, spangled and thundering with it. Sky Mall. Portable stereo systems. Mirrored isles of Drambuie and Tanqueray and Chanel No. 5. I look at the blanked-out faces of the other passengers— hoisting their briefcases, their backpacks, shuffling to disembark— and I think of what Hobie said: beauty alters the grain of reality. And I keep thinking too of the more conventional wisdom: namely, that the pursuit of pure beauty is a trap, a fast track to bitterness and sorrow, that beauty has to be wedded to something more meaningful. Only what is that thing? Why am I made the way I am? Why do I care about all the wrong things, and nothing at all for the right ones? Or, to tip it another way: how can I see so clearly that everything I love or care about is illusion, and yet— for me, anyway— all that’s worth living for lies in that charm? A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are. Because— isn’t it drilled into us constantly, from childhood on, an unquestioned platitude in the culture—? From William Blake to Lady Gaga, from Rousseau to Rumi to Tosca to Mister Rogers, it’s a curiously uniform message, accepted from high to low: when in doubt, what to do? How do we know what’s right for us? Every shrink, every career counselor, every Disney princess knows the answer: “Be yourself.” “Follow your heart.” Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted—? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections andall the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight towards a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?

(Tartt, Donna (2013-10-22). The Goldfinch (p. 761). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.)

Thursday, 16 January 2014

This Week's Top Ten Books Are

Possibly worst movie adaptation EVER.  You have been warned.

This week was so tough at first, and then out came pouring the titles...

1. The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

2. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

3. Strasberg’s Method - Lorrie Hull

4. The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson

5. The Portrait of a Lady - Henry James

6. The Road Less Traveled - M. Scott Peck

8. The Mistress of Spices - Chitra Divakaruni

9.  Holder of the World - Bharati Mukherjee

10.  Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson

How hard it is to write a book.  

How infinitely unreasonable it is to have written a masterpiece.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Quote of the Week - Tartt

"… at some point, deep in the night, when we were swinging on the jungle gym and showers of sparks were flying out of our mouths, I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe." 
~ Donna Tartt

Okay - so they were tripping.  But still, this is one of those epiphanies that stick and should be remembered and honored long after the drugs have flushed through your system.  I'm a little jealous of this one, cause it took me a long time to find out on my own.

Lightening up in 2014.  More laughter.

Also, read The Goldfinch.  It's at least as good as everyone is saying it is.  In fact, I just finished it and want to start again.  In fact, I think I highlighted most of the passages in the last 2 chapters.

Here's another secret of the universe.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

RIP Amiri Baraka

My friend Maggie posted a link to Amiri Baraka's Sometbody Blew Up America.  It made me realize I'd seen him perform this.  Can't remember where - when - NY - LA - SF, but I was moved to write a response.  I'm guessing this was back in 2002 or 2003.

I didn't always agree with him, but I always had a sense of his incredibly importance in our evolution as people, as artists, writers, poets.  From the first time I picked up Dutchman and read it.

His presence and art taught three things very well:  to be necessary, to be urgent, and to be fearless.

Response To Amiri Baraka’s “Somebody Blew up America”

“who" is greed
"who" is racism
"who" is sexism
"who" is age-ism
"who" is rabid nationalism and xenophobia run rampant

"who" is homophobia
"who" is untamed desire overweening need
untempered passion lust for power

"who" is ignorance abetted by the state
"who" is what happens when too many i's form ill-fitting we's
"who" is misery loving company
"who" is confusing survival with much more than ample thriving

"who" is willful blindness

"who" is absence of compassion
"who" is mistaken principles
        followed by mistaken logic
        followed by mistaken actions

"who" is giving in to the fear of a world that might exclude you
"who" is confusing opinions with well-drawn conclusions
"who" is substituting profitability for growth or well-being
"who" is capitalism unfettered by humanity

"who" is embracing any -ism without accounting
        for inherent human contradictions

“who” is giving over to worst selves temporarily,
        for extended periods,
        or permanently
        if the rewards are great enough

"who" always takes the first and largest slice of the pie
"who" is reading too much --or not enough -- between lines
"who" forms judgements without first-hand experience, yes
"who" is tricky slippery and ubiquitous

"who" militantly guards the status quo generation to generation
"who" is love buried under piles and piles of burning anger and  hatred
"who" is taking power only to make your own existence better
"who" is forgoing a life to have an agenda

"who" is the identification of more than well-matched enemies requiring constant vigilance

"who” has developed quite a super-hero complex
in fact, “who” might be more than a little neurotic even borderline psychotic

"who" is a force to be reckoned with
defeated only by great courage
"who" is outside of us only as a mirror
the reflection of absolute fear

"who" is walking away from bliss
“who” is no in the face of life saying yes

i've seen god, and i've seen the devil
they co-exist in every being
live on different floors of the same building
each moment i must choose which to go a-visiting

"who" is in all of us
"who" is in each.

e. amato