Saturday, August 12, 2017

Superstition, Too, Is a Kind of Understanding

  1. Deactivating the MomCat Emergency Alert System. Worked again.
  2. Every time it has worked - and it's worked every time - I've posted it worked.
  3. There will be a next time. I want it to work again.



Rosmarie Waldrop

I sit in my own shadow, she says, the way my mother gave birth to it. In artificial light, blinds drawn against the darkness of power.  I think of you as if you were that shadow, a natural enclosure, a world, not a slight, so I can wander through your darkness. Has our contract inverted time, made our universe contract, a cramped bed for two? And when I say your name, do I draw water, a portrait, curtain, bridge, or conclusion?

Place there is none, he quotes. Not even to hang up our archetypes. Let alone Star-Spangled Banners. We go forward and backward, and there is no place. Therefore it is a name for God. My eye, steadfast on traffic lights, abolishes the larger part of the round world. I should look at my feet. Space sweeps through us, a hell of distances bathed in the feeble glow of emptiness. Outward mobility, unimpeded. Suddenly we’re nobody home, without any need of inattention, imposture, or talent for deceit.

The wind whips my skin as if it were water, she says. My skin is water. For wind read wind, news, sky falling. Is it a mental disturbance or the higher math of love if I hear you talking under my breath and from the torn fragments assume the sun is far away and small, and a look can cause a burn? Superstition, too, is a kind of understanding, and to forgo it may have consequences.

Clusters of possibilities whiz through our head, he says. Electric charges, clogged highway, screeching brakes, a house too full of guests. With grounds for disagreement and miscarriage. The light rushes in dry, screaming. But the opaque parts of the nerve oppose the noise and void the options. Then the project must be prolonged in terms of lack.


  1. Glad to see Momma Cat is good. I don't know, it's weird but I have a hard time reading stuff these days. At this point I don't give a fuck who the Democrats run, I don't give a fuck about Trump. I grew up during the cold war complete with posters of what to do in a nuclear attack. If there is one I hope I'm at ground zero, it would be over in flash. The world of humans is unfair. It always has been and always will be for how ever much long it will be around. Yes, there are white supremacists. A lot of humans are assholes. A lot of humans if not all are hypocrites in one way or another. So I try to read shit but when people try to dazzle me with ten dollar words and attempt to account for every detail in a way that says I'm better and smarter than you my eyes cross and my vision blurs. Then I move on to something else. Humans aren't as smart as they think they are, animals are probably smarter than we give them credit for. Intellectuals are beginning to bore the hell out of me. I suspect that they don't care what they write about because it's just a game to them. How much can anyone care about everything that makes you sick? When I'm around people that say stupid shit I know they're trying to get a rise out of me but it won't work any more because all they're doing is repeating stupid shit that some other stupid shit said. People moan and groan about global warming but I see an awful lot of gas guzzling pick up trucks that only get used to drive to the grocery store and the gas station. So even though people moan and groan they obviously don't give a fuck rather what's more important is their identity fantasies (The macho manly right, the concerned left, the moral majority, bumper stickers declaring army, marines, navy etc. and blah, blah, blah). But what it boils down to is when I read an argh article I get a few sentences in and I know I've read it a thousand times before. Humans repeat themselves endlessly. And like someone said, how many times can you eat a bagel?

  2. I'm glad for the return. Incidentally, your previous photo of The Kitty showed that she has the capability to fire lasers out of her eyes.

  3. your title and musings on superstitution reminded me of this

    Beloit Poetry Journal Fall 2005


    The Poem in which the Devout and the Atheists Meet in Minnesota

    But it isn’t any prepuce, no: this
    dessicated flap of creasy tissue is Our Lord’s,
    inside a reliquary looking like my sister’s
    three-tier wedding cake-—but all-over gold
    and tourmalines—-and miraculous cure
    is attributable to standing in the field
    of its presence: asthma, a goiter, a cancerous
    lei of petals over the neck and chest
    . . . as, elsewhere, someone rubs the penis

    of a marble god perennially erect,
    as if a human infertility might somehow be redressed by this
    proximity to potent marble sperm;
    the brassy pubis of a goddess has been similarly
    hand-beseeched for centuries, and worn to a color
    in between seaweed and nectarine: a testament
    to superstitious thinking of a kind that we
    find laughable over our chilled chablis, but
    one friend treasures a book especially because of its

    “association value”-—on the title page, in deep bold script:
    From [X] to [Y]-—and someone else is googoo
    for an otherwise insipid fifties cookie jar she bid on
    —-it was Andy Warhol’s, once. The lesson:
    secularism isn’t immune from magical authority;
    and she may squeeze an artificial square to do her dishes,
    but the sponge that Janet uses in her bath was once
    alive in the sea, and trickles a hint of that
    primacy over her body. Often deity

    is seemingly behind some grand phenomenon; and
    often not. It’s either and it’s both
    in Minnesota, on this stretch of freeze and emptiness
    tonight when—-in a purity of sky as absolute
    as thought—-Aurora Borealis sweeps upon us
    out of everywhere and nowhere. This is air,
    and ice, uncommonly touched
    by light. This is the air of our planet
    brought to higher power.

  4. and perhaps the following, from the fafblog comments column, also deserve another moment of attention

    I was thinking of posting a recipe for Halloween, which is coming up soon, and while looking hither and yon for something suitable, I came across the following at the blog New England Folklore, which may be of interest to those rare minds who seek to expand their limited perception via this comments column.

    with best wishes,
    Fannie Farmer (Mrs.)


    How to Make a Poppet

    I think most people are familiar with the concept of a voodoo doll. It's a small human figure meant to represent an individual for magical purposes.

    The term "voodoo doll" is really a misnomer. Using dolls to cast spells has a long history, and isn't even particularly associated with Voudou, which is really an Afro-Caribbean polytheistic religion.

    In colonial New England these dolls were known as poppets, which is an old spelling of puppet. They were often cited in witchcraft trials as evidence of malicious magic. For example, Goody Glover, and elderly Irish woman accused of bewitching several Boston children, had in her home

    "several small images, or poppets, or babies, made of rags and stuffed with goat's hair and other ingredients. When these were produced the vile woman acknowledged that her way to torment the objects of her malice was by wetting of her finger with her spittle and stroking of these little images."

    See? No pins are necessary to torment your victims, just a little spit. And Goody Glover later showed that your doll doesn't even need to be well made - a common stone will do.

    Before her execution Goody Glover was visited in prison by Cotton Mather, who prayed for her soul. But, as soon as he was out of her sight, he said she "took a stone, a long and slender stone, and with her finger and spittle fell to tormenting it; though whom or what she meant, I had the mercy to never understand."

    Goody Glover's trial happened in 1688, and set the stage for the Salem trials of 1692. Poppets once again played an important role.

    Two men testified against Bridget Bishop that while doing work in her cellar, they tore down a wall to find "several poppets made up of rags and hogs' bristles with headless pin in them with the points turned outward..." This evidence helped make her the first person executed in the Salem witch trials.

    Poppets were also used as evidence against Candy, a slave in the Salem Village house of Nathaniel Putnam. She kept in her room "a handkerchief wherein several knots were tied, rags of cloth, a piece of cheese, and a piece of grass." These must have been a very simple dolls indeed, but the afflicted girls claimed they could see the specters of Candy and the Black Man (i.e. the Devil) pinching the dolls, which caused them great pain. Candy was later forced to eat the grass, which she claimed burned her skin. Candy confessed to being a witch, and ultimately escaped execution.

    Given all the bad energy surrounding poppets in this part of the country, I'm reluctant to provide specific instructions. However, I found this video (with peppy music) that shows you how. Watch it if you dare!

    The quotes in this post were from Chadwick Hansen's Witchcraft at Salem.

    October 19, 2011 9:50 AM