Saturday, August 24, 2013

Something of a Clock Glimpsed in a Dream

Borges born 115 years ago today. Dig these. What did you think ESPN would do when Helmetball said JUMP! said L to K at a special Friday Night Edition of Thursday Night Pints when K offered the story as shuttlecock of a friendly rally. It's the times, I said to K, bruised, everybody's pissed at everybody but mostly pissed at the people they most like and agree with 99.94% of the time. L said, I see what you did there. My phone chirped. A blog friend emailed me, she asked - this is true, she can vouch, or choose not to - and I paraphrase, what the fuck is the Kind? I texted my bud bleggal and existential context in one or two sentence each. I loved With, said L - the Donald Harington novel where Kind has Borgesian onion layers of meaning. If you and me are Kind - I'm talking to you now - I'll buy you a copy of that amazing novel. L's lending K the one I gave her. I've been promising you, I didn't say last night, I'm talking to you now D, love, the traditional Bonnie Prince Billy cascade.

  • Yes, posting on Saturday's in August is proof of compulsive and futile attention sluttery. 
  • On DC history and equality by a friend of mine.
  • BRT.
  • BRT.
  • What you can buy me for my birthday.
  • ZOMG! The Vegans! An argument for. I'm not near, I'm working on in, not to worry, long-timers and loyalists, I'll not be documenting progress towards or retreat from, but I do have a goal.
  • Vegan Symphony #9.
  • 100 free classics. I just finished Silas Marner last night, I forget to bring Vollmann, in the college book store was a Dover edition for $2.50, 150 pages later I remember what I like about Eliot (for intance, her brilliant use of English in her exquisitely constructed aphorisms of moral scolding) and what I didn't like (for instance, the moral scolding).
  • The rage for order.
  • Raskolnikov in Afghanistan?
  • I am alive.
  • Monk, not Meredith per usual, another one.
  • Julianne Barwick interview. Yes, the Evening Planet post will return when one or both of us need it.
  • On Caberet Voltaire.


Jorge Luis Borges
translated by Robert Mezey

All things are words belonging to that language
In which Someone or Something, night and day,
Writes down the infinite babble that is, per se,
The history of the world. And in that hodgepodge

Both Rome and Carthage, he and you and I,
My life that I don't grasp, this painful load
Of being riddle, randomness, or code,
And all of Babel's gibberish streams by.

Behind the name is that which has no name;
Today I have felt its shadow gravitate
In this blue needle, in its trembling sweep

Casting its influence toward the farthest strait,
With something of a clock glimpsed in a dream
And something of a bird that stirs in its sleep.


  1. re Borges:

    i was thinking of him because a young latin american woman, the daughter of a classmate of missus charley, md, stayed with us on sunday night on her way to take up graduate study at anthropology in charlottesville - this reminded me of his short story 'the ethnographer' and i said i would send her a link to it -

    looking at the biblioklept borges search results i was struck by the paragraph on hawthorne

    i looked up what our friends at wikipedia had on him and discovered

    His ancestors include John Hathorne, the only judge involved in the Salem witch trials who never repented of his actions. Nathaniel later added a "w" to make his name "Hawthorne" in order to hide this relation.


    Hawthorne's uncle Robert Manning insisted, despite Hawthorne's protests, that the boy attend college. With the financial support of his uncle, Hawthorne was sent to Bowdoin College in 1821, partly because of family connections in the area, and also because of its relatively inexpensive tuition rate. On the way to Bowdoin, at the stage stop in Portland, Hawthorne met future president Franklin Pierce and the two became fast friends. Once at the school, he also met the future poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...

    I was educated (as the phrase is) at Bowdoin College. I was an idle student, negligent of college rules and the Procrustean details of academic life, rather choosing to nurse my own fancies than to dig into Greek roots and be numbered among the learned Thebans.

    borges wrote of hawthorne, "His death was tranquil and it was mysterious, because it occurred in his sleep."
    i began to think of those of my ancestors whose circumstances of death i am familiar with - my paternal grandfather's death was the most similar to hawthorne, because it was tranquil and in his sleep, and it occurred in new england - specifically, in the village of northport, nova scotia - unlike hawthorne, who was only 59, my grandfather was in his eighties - he told his daughter who was staying with him there at the farmhouse that he would sleep downstairs, rather than going upstairs to his usual bed, and she found him dead the next morning - it would be nice to go like that

    my mother had the privilege of dying at home, as well, but she was about hawthorne's age, and died of lung cancer after being a smoker for about four decades

    my father died in walter reed army medical center, at the age of 96, after two weeks of useless torture which were considered to be 'appropriate care'

    my other grandfather and both my grandmothers died in nursing homes - i know my maternal grandmother did NOT have a DNR order, do not know about the others

    and while we're talking about death, missus charley and i no longer consume the flesh or the secretions of our fellow animals - once you've decided to do it, it's not that hard, there's lots of delicious plant-based food - we approached it from the health angle although we are glad that it is or at least could be seen as a kinder way to eat - you could read books by drs mcdougall, esselstyn, and barnard if you wanted more info, and/or see the documentary dvd forks over knives

  2. Replies
    1. I thought that may well have been the most insightful thing Milbank's ever written. Which is not to dismiss your overall assessment of him, and not that I'd care to spend even a fraction of one percent of the research effort needed to find out whether I'm right. I admit I give some weight to the number and political variety of people Milbank pissed off with that column, and to the raw ineptitude of much of the commentariat's anger. In this case, I tend to think it lends credence to the notion that, for once, Milbank wasn't utterly full of shit.

      And again, and importantly, not that that validates anything else he's ever written or done. "Is Dana Milbank a dick?" is a pretty fucking futile argument with a clearly evident answer.

  3. Veganism is very mainstream in Burlington. I don't follow it, but I don't object to it either. Being a strict Vegan is hard work and I am lazy.

    1. spouse and self are not strict about our plant-based style of eating - a bit of butter here, a bit of cheese there is not worth worrying about - and we keep on wearing our leather shoes and belts and our silk ties

    2. mis tah .. ,and j. , with my not eating meat.. from the age of three on .., i've had only alternative shoes et' . ..over the years , making for some interesting alternatives over the years ,and wearing them through ..because i could only afford one well made /of fair.., and sensible , at a time . / not vegan.. but there is a lot that i do not eat ..when considering all of the ways of fair trading ..

  4. As somebody who believes that veganism is an upper middle class white affectation, I'll be looking forward to the veganoposty. ;)

    1. Heh!

      Not to worry, I'll not document successes or failures and - best of all - will not talk about motives either way nor proselytize if successful.

  5. What's vaginaism?

    Oh yeah, baby. I'm back!

  6. When GGW talks about BRT, what they mean is "make private vehicle ownership prohibitively difficult." As Dan Reed pointed out a few weeks ago, something like 90 percent of MoCo households have a privately owned vehicle. I don't have a problem with BRT, but I also don't have a problem with traffic lanes, and I do have a big problem with MoCo's nanny-state insistence that walkers and transit users have as much of a stake in, or pay for as much of a share as, private vehicle owners.

    GGW also supports NCLB, one of the most reprehensible pieces of legislation of the last 15 years, and the concept that your wife is personally responsible for test scores, which are (in the NCLB- and GGW-endorsed perspective) the only valid measure of learning.

    In short, GGW can lick my balls.

    I stand with Jim in opposition to vaginapostasy.

    As to your actual cite: uhm....yeah. Vegans are victims. Veganism and "animal liberation" are equivalent. Jesus H. Tittyfucking Christ on a wobblyass crutch, why the fuck do you insist on linking to aggressively stupid retards as if they're intellects of any consequence, even with your completely ineffectual and ridiculous rationalization that you're just linking? Mind, that's by far the most incredibly fucking stupid thing you've linked to in quite some time, but holy fucking shit, dood.

    I haven't smoked. I'm guessing Jim couldn't tell.