Friday, July 26, 2013

The Afternoon Will Fold You Up, Along with Preoccupations that Now Seem So Important, Until Only a Child Running Around on a Unicycle Occupies Center Stage

Google kept sending me emails telling me to renew my domain name or lose it and the blog, I said last night at Thursday Night Pints to K's question of what the google drama was last week. Google was no help, I said, they provided a button to a link for supposed renewal but google wouldn't recognize my log-in and password. Their help forums are useless. A Kind reader gave me workarounds, they aren't foolproof, they rely heavily on google being both incompetent and indifferent - safe bet there, said L - and my due diligence. Bleggalgazing continued briefly, K and L each offered a version of should this blog disappear I'll live quite nicely and more profitably should I survive withdrawal. L said, there are other ways to be an attention slut, you know. Hilltop talk, much of which can't be shared here but discussion of Hilltop's expansionist ambitions in general and bid to build a campus on the old Walter Reed campus (I could add a link to the Hilltop blog with the story, but, er.... no, google if you're interested). I was given grief that my liberal Maryland congressperson voted no on NSA amendment, their liberal Virginia congressperson voted yes. I've always said, I said, I could live in the People's Republic of Arlington if I had to. L asked, I've seen new stuff at your other places, are you going to shut them down now that you think the main one is safe? Probably not, I said, maybe VNTY'SGRVYD (though I like the name), maybe the tumblr (though I like I can't see if anyone is reading it), not DRGDKCLB. K asked, are you going to link to them tomorrow? Are you going to post the new poems? Yes, I said, and probably.


John Ashbery

How little we know,   
and when we know it!

It was prettily said that “No man
hath an abundance of cows on the plain, nor shards
in his cupboard.” Wait! I think I know who said that! It was . . .

Never mind, dears, the afternoon
will fold you up, along with preoccupations   
that now seem so important, until only a child   
running around on a unicycle occupies center stage.   
Then what will you make of walls? And I fear you   
will have to come up with something,

be it a terraced gambit above the sea
or gossip overheard in the marketplace.
For you see, it becomes you to be chastened:
for the old to envy the young,
and for youth to fear not getting older,
where the paths through the elms, the carnivals, begin.

And it was said of Gyges that his ring
attracted those who saw him not,
just as those who wandered through him were aware
only of a certain stillness, such as precedes an earache,
while lumberjacks in headbands came down to see what all the fuss was about,
whether it was something they could be part of
sans affront to self-esteem.
And those temple hyenas who had seen enough,
nostrils aflare, fur backing up in the breeze,
were no place you could count on,
having taken a proverbial powder
as rifle butts received another notch.
I, meanwhile . . . I was going to say I had squandered spring   
when summer came along and took it from me   
like a terrier a lady has asked one to hold for a moment
while she adjusts her stocking in the mirror of a weighing machine.   
But here it is winter, and wrong
to speak of other seasons as though they exist.   
Time has only an agenda
in the wallet at his back, while we
who think we know where we are going unfazed
end up in brilliant woods, nourished more than we can know
by the unexpectedness of ice and stars
and crackling tears. We’ll just have to make a go of it,
a run for it. And should the smell of baking cookies appease
one or the other of the olfactory senses, climb down   
into this wagonload of prisoners.

The meter will be screamingly clear then,
the rhythms unbounced, for though we came
to life as to a school, we must leave it without graduating   
even as an ominous wind puffs out the sails
of proud feluccas who don’t know where they’re headed,   
only that a motion is etched there, shaking to be free.


  1. 1) our friends at wikipedia disambiguated "hilltop" for me - i will send them a few dollars someday soon

    2)speaking of disambiguation - in your comment yesterday re "mwah" and "gah" - could one substitute "oi" and "od" after the initial consonants?

    3)the early part of ashbery's poem, from 1994, reflects the pre-web search engine era of civilization which we have so recently left behind (some of us more decisively than others - i myself am still using my laptop, even as today's youth migrate to their tablets and smartphones)

    4)the reference to gyges's ring sends me to wikipedia once again, where i am reminded (because i did once read plato's republic, although i was still a stripling, during the previous millennium)

    "The Ring of Gyges is a mythical magical artifact mentioned by the philosopher Plato in book 2 of his Republic (2.359a–2.360d). It granted its owner the power to become invisible at will. Through the story of the ring, Republic considers whether an intelligent person would be moral if he did not have to fear being caught and punished."

    once again we are back at the issue that the 19th century novelist george eliot dealt with so effectively in the passage you linked to yesterday

    5)time - as gurdjieff termed it, "The Merciless Hieropass" -

    "time - time - time - see what's become of me
    while i looked around for my possibilities
    i was so hard to please"

    hazy shade of winter, composer paul simon, performed by the bangles (used in soundtrack to the memorable robert downey film less than zero)

  2. 6)seeded by arcade fire - a rather prettier acoustic cover of "sprawl ii (mountains beyond mountains)" by juliana daily richer

    7)seeded by destroyer being compared to "talk talk" in the description at youtube

    Talk Talk - It's My Life (Live at Montreux 1986)