Lapham’s Quarterly has published this helpful cut-out-and-keep guide for those irritating, unexpected accusations witchcraft:
I came across a lovely piece about the relationship between the leaders of the GOP and – at the time – candidate Trump.
It begins with this report of a conversation amongst some old New York mobsters:
In the late nineties, federal agents insinuated an informer into the ranks of the DeCavalcante crime family, of New Jersey, and the resulting wiretaps and transcriptions revealed a dying language of secrecy, petty schemes, and blood oaths gone wrong. Sad old veterans of the Punic Wars of Essex County talked about selling old comic books and Viagra to make money, and yet they knew they were losing touch with the new world.
“They make money with the computer,” a gangster named Joseph (Tin Ear) Sclafani said incredulously about the young. To which another associate replied, “These [expletive] kids—twenty-five, twenty-six years old—will teach you things you could not ever believe.”
“That’s the whole thing,” another says. “In this [expletive] life that we live, every day if you ain’t like a chameleon, if you can’t change, you’re finished.”
I thought of this exquisite sampling of the DeCavalcante tapesafter reading the riveting serio-comic report in the Washington Post by Adam Entous describing a meeting in June, 2016, on Capitol Hill, at which Republican Party leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, gathered to talk business. Let’s not be unfair, much less libelous. It’s not that the members of Congress present were involved in crimes or illegal activity of any kind; no, it’s that they seem so craven, cynical, and, ultimately small-time. They have sunk so low that they are willing to get behind a candidate for whom they clearly have no regard. Because, well, that’s “this [expletive] life that we live.”
The two reported dialogues are well worth comparing.
It’s the Dream
Translated from the Norwegian by Robert Bly
Some poems become touchstones, words you carry with you and turn over and over in your mind. This is one of mine from Norwegian poet, Olaf Hauge. He’s worth seeking out.
It’s that dream that we carry with us
that something wonderful will happen,
that it has to happen,
that time will open,
that the heart will open,
that doors will open,
that the mountains will open,
that wells will leap up,
that the dream will open,
that one morning we’ll slip in
to a harbor that we’ve never known.
Many years ago my then brother in law made us a mix tape. It was funny, eclectic and filled with surprises.
It also included poetry – of the wild, beat, ecstatic kind – that he was exploring at the time. Listening to the high incantatory voice of the poet; the golden flow of images and words is a memory of long car journeys into Wales – entranced and dreaming.
The downside is that I never knew who it was or what he was reading.
We lost the tape years ago – and anyway nothing we have would play it now – but I never forgot the poem and today, looking for something else entirely I came across Frank O’Hara’s Ode to Joy and recognised it straight away!
Better yet, here’s a recording of him reading it:
and here’s the Ode itself:
We shall have everything we want and there’ll be no more dying
on the pretty plains or in the supper clubs
for our symbol we’ll acknowledge vulgar materialistic laughter
over an insatiable sexual appetite
and the streets will be filled with racing forms
and the photographs of murderers and narcissists and movie stars
will swell from the walls and books alive in steaming rooms
to press against our burning flesh not once but interminably
as water flows down hill into the full-lipped basin
and the adder dives for the ultimate ostrich egg
and the feather cushion preens beneath a reclining monolith
that’s sweating with post-exertion visibility and sweetness
near the grave of love
No more dying
We shall see the grave of love as a lovely sight and temporary
near the elm that spells the lovers’ names in roots
and there’ll be no more music but the ears in lips and no more wit
but tongues in ears and no more drums but ears to thighs
as evening signals nudities unknown to ancestors’ imaginations
and the imagination itself will stagger like a tired paramour of ivory
under the sculptural necessities of lust that never falters
like a six-mile runner from Sweden or Liberia covered with gold
as lava flows up and over the far-down somnolent city’s abdication
and the hermit always wanting to be lone is lone at last
and the weight of external heat crushes the heat-hating Puritan
whose self-defeating vice becomes a proper sepulcher at last
that love may live
Buildings will go up into the dizzy air as love itself goes in
and up the reeling life that it has chosen for once or all
while in the sky a feeling of intemperate fondness will excite the birds
to swoop and veer like flies crawling across absorbed limbs
that weep a pearly perspiration on the sheets of brief attention
and the hairs dry out that summon anxious declaration of the organs
as they rise like buildings to the needs of temporary neighbors
pouring hunger through the heart to feed desire in intravenous ways
like the ways of gods with humans in the innocent combination of light
and flesh or as the legends ride their heroes through the dark to found
great cities where all life is possible to maintain as long as time
which wants us to remain for cocktails in a bar and after dinner
lets us live with it
No more dying
“she pictures Mom in a gym suit. The gym suit is shiny and blue, and Mom’s feet move swiftly; she’s the star of the team. She can do a kick split and spin like a top. She’s so stunning that Dad can’t take his eyes of her. No way he’d ever get enough of watching a girl like that. Dad takes a running start, he takes a running start and streaks through the gym, his big hands stretching out before him. He wants to get over to where Mom is and he does. He comes within reach of the girl in the shining outfit. She looks like a kingfisher, he thinks, and kingfishers are rare. They screech as they fly through the air like arrow shafts, and Mom screeches too when Dad’s red hands grasp her about the waist. Then she sinks down; he is gravity itself. “You’ve got strong arms,” she tells him.”From Dorte Nors wonderful novel, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal
There’s a good review of it (and more about Dorte Nors) here
We were talking about the election we are facing here in the UK and shaking our heads at the lack of credible contenders for Prime Minister.
May is hopeless, Corbyn principled but hopeless. The rest so far off having a chance of election that they hardly register. But Tim Farron….really?
Then C had a brilliant notion. If you look at football there’s a similar situation – a dearth of talent at every level. Football’s solution is the same as every other business and industry in Britain – it buys in foreign talent.
Why apply the principle to politics as well? Instead of choosing from a ruck of losers why not go for foreign talent. Buy the best!not appoint MPs and our Prime Minister on the same basis?
The Queen I guess would have to stand in for the FA in this situation and instead of an election campaign we’d have a ‘window’ like the Transfer Window and then it would be a race to get the best.
But who of the premier league leaders would you choose.
I fancy Duterte. Now there’s a man who’d give those Europeans a fight…
I’ve just come across this from Victor Hugo:
‘It is our conviction that if souls were visible to the naked eye, we would clearly see the strange phenomenon whereby every individual member of the human race corresponds to one of the species of the animal kingdom … Animals are nothing more than the forms our virtues and our vices take, trotting around before our very eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls.’
Was this starting point for Philip Pullman’s daemons?