Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There Is No Fence, though Here and There a Weathered Post Asserts a Former Claim, Strands of Fallen Wire Taken by the Dust

Moo thinks her name is Rose, Woof thinks his Stanley. Rose comes when I say Rose and doesn't when I say Moo, Stanley comes running to Stanley, ignores me when I shout Woof, and OK, they've voted (and Earthgirl and Planet have voted) and I'm a democracy whenever I can be (which is whenever it's in my interest, just like you). Rose is more Rose than Moo anyway, Stanley Stanley. They are wonderful, happy, Rose sweet, Stanley the funniest, most fearless cat ever. Chirpers both, but best of all, bless Fleabus, she's trying, still the best cat ever.

Speaking of Stanley I left my copy of Gaddis' The Recognitions on my desk at work on Friday, and since The Recognitions is only available as an audio book on kindle, Saturday morning I started Elkin's George Mills (which is downloadable to kindle), and here's the title character summing up the book's main theme:

     "Don't be cowardly (said Guillalume). You're still my father's subject, you know. Mine, too, for that matter."
     "I'm everybody's subject," Mills groaned. "I have more law than a company of solicitors."
     It was true. If before he had felt slandered by their notion of him - the tapestry condition - now he knew himself crushed and circumscribed by the jurisdictional one: state, sultanate, realm, duchy, palatinate, empire, dominion, kingdom, and bog - all suzerainty's pie slice say-so.

I was self-imposing sillyass ethical rules on my reading and writing long before shitty bleggalethics. For thirty years I forbade myself reading two novels simultaneously, which really sucked if the novel I was reading sucked because I felt morally compelled to finish any novel I started if I read the first twenty pages; it didn't matter how shitty the remaining four hundred pages turned out. We're not only ruled from above and below but within. You'll get Gaddis or Elkin or nothing, and I'll like it.


Campbell McGrath

On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk's descent from the lightning-struck tree. You've passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?


  1. Enjoyed the Neetch essay. Thought its closing was lazy and weak, all the same.

  2. The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias.

    I can't accept this explanation anymore.

    Why not follow the money?

    High profile media jobs pay much more then they did a couple decades ago. And the number of companies that offer them are few in number. Basically, it's a small group of rich people working for a tiny group of extremely rich people (the few who have benefited from 3 decades of Reaganism).

    Fire a few Robert Scheers and Dan Froomkins, hire the likes of Jonah Goldberg and Marc Thiessen, and the message is sent.

    Toe the corporate line, or kiss that sweet job goodbye. And it's not just the opinion-meisters - see ace reporter Ceci Connolly, e.g.

  3. I love the unis too. First Maryland uniform every that does justice to the flag, love the asymmetry, and especially the consistency of the helmet.