“Some may have blamed you that you took away
The verses that could move them on the day
When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind
With lightning you went from me, and I could find
Nothing to make a song about but kings,
Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things
That were like memories of you—but now
We’ll out, for the world lives as long ago;
And while we’re in our laughing, weeping fit,
Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit.
But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,
My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.”—
“All the forces that have been engaged through the years of childhood, adolescence and youth in confused and ferocious combat range themselves in ordered ranks (and during which) the straight and narrow gateway of maturity, and life which was all uproar and confusion narrows down to form and purpose, and we exchange a great dim possibility for a small hard reality. Also in our American life where there is no coercion in custom and it is our right to change our vocation so often as we have desire and opportunity, it is a common experience that our youth extends through the whole first twenty-nine years of our life and it is not till we reach thirty that we find at last that vocation for which we feel ourselves fit and to which we willingly devote continued labor.”—Gertrude Stein, on being 29.
“It is a God-damned lie to say that these
Saved, or knew, anything worth any man’s pride.
They were professional murderers and they took
Their blood money and their impious risks and died.
In spite of all their kind some elements of worth
With difficulty persist here and there on earth.”—‘Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’, by Hugh MacDiarmid.
I caught sight of a splendid Misses.
She had handkerchiefs and kisses.
She had eyes and yellow shoes she had everything to choose and she chose me.
In passing through France she wore a Chinese hat and so did I.
In looking at the sun she read a map. And so did I.
In eating fish and pork she just grew fat. And so did I.
In loving a blue sea she had a pain. And so did I.
In loving me she of necessity thought first. And so did I.
How prettily we swim. Not in water. Not on land. But in love.
How often do we need trees and hills. Not often.
And how often do we need birds. Not often.
And how often do we need wishes. Not often.
And how often do we need glasses not often.
We drink wine and we make well we have not made it yet.
How often do we need a kiss. Very often and we add when tenderness overwhelms us we speedily eat veal.
And what else, ham and a little pork and raw artichokes and ripe olives and chester cheese and cakes and caramels and all the melon. We still have a great deal of it left. I wonder where it is. Conserved melon. Let me offer it to you.
“From time to time, I work with Will at the foundation, rewriting requests for grants. No such job technically exists, but that’s what I do. I try to recycle the film-is-the-medium and the cable-television-for-the-ghetto people, and help the Blake fanatics and the street reformers who work very hard. Sometimes I miss, or lose the point. Late-sleeping utopians, especially, persist like mercury.”—Renata Adler's Speedboat, a curious novel made up of fragments and anecdotes; no effort whatsoever is made to stitch them together.
What men mean when they talk about their “crazy” ex-girlfriend is often that she was someone who cried a lot, or texted too often, or had an eating disorder, or wanted too much/too little sex, or generally felt anything beyond the realm of emotionally undemanding agreement. That does not make these women crazy. That makes those women human beings, who have flaws, and emotional weak spots. However, deciding that any behavior that he does not like must be insane– well, that does make a man a jerk.
And when men do this on a regular basis, remember that, if you are a woman, you are not the exception. You are not so cool and fabulous and levelheaded that they will totally get where you are coming from when you show emotions other than “pleasant agreement.”
When men say “most women are crazy, but not you, you’re so cool” the subtext is not, “I love you, be the mother to my children.” The subtext is “do not step out of line, here.” If you get close enough to the men who say things like this, eventually, you will do something that they do not find pleasant. They will decide you are crazy, because this is something they have already decided about women in general.
laughing at nothing—
let me tell you
I have drunk in skid row rooms with
whose cause was better
whose eyes still held some light
whose voices retained some sensibility,
and when the morning came
we were sick but not ill,
poor but not deluded,
and we stretched in our beds and rose
in the late afternoons
like millionaires.”—‘Millionaires’ by Charles Bukowski
“Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”—'A River Runs Through It', by Norman Maclean. (Also, film by Robert Redford).
“Rimmer:[discussing his last exam] Lister, last time I only failed by the narrowest of narrow margins.
Lister: You what? You walked in there, wrote “I AM A FISH” four hundred times, did a funny little dance and fainted!
Rimmer: That’s a total lie.
Lister: No, it’s not. Peterson told me.
Rimmer: “No, it’s not. Peterson told me.” Lister, if you must know, I submitted a discourse on porous circuitry that was too… radical, too unconventional, too mould-breaking for the examiners to accept.
Lister: Yeah. You said you were a fish!”—
Search The Money. A search function using alot of data from ElectoralCommission, but only focusing on the Tory party. I’m not sure who’s behind it; the single-party focus makes me fear it’s a Labour HQ excursion, but very useful and occasionally fascinating nonetheless.
They Work For You. Useful for loads of stuff about MPs - voting history, speeches in the HoC, etc. But the Register of Member’s Interests is where you can find some real interesting stuff.
Open Corporates. Claims to be an open database of corporates around the world. This might well be so, although it often isn’t comprehensive enough to be useful or interesting. But it may have what you’re looking for.
I feel absolutely clean inside, and there is nothing but pure euphoria. I have never felt so great, or believed this to be possible. The cleanliness, clarity, and marvelous feeling of solid inner strength continued throughout the rest of the day, and evening, and through the next day. I am overcome by the profundity of the experience, and how much more powerful it was than previous experiences, for no apparent reason, other than a continually improving state of being. All the next day I felt like ‘a citizen of the universe’ rather than a citizen of the planet, completely disconnecting time and flowing easily from one activity to the next.
As the material came on I felt that I was being enveloped, and my attention had to be directed to it. I became quite fearful, and my face felt cold and ashen. I felt that I wanted to go back, but I knew there was no turning back. Then the fear started to leave me, and I could try taking little baby steps, like taking first steps after being reborn. The woodpile is so beautiful, about all the joy and beauty that I can stand. I am afraid to turn around and face the mountains, for fear they will overpower me. But I did look, and I am astounded. Everyone must get to experience a profound state like this. I feel totally peaceful. I have lived all my life to get here, and I feel I have come home. I am complete.
”—The inventor of MDMA records his experiences of 120mg dosage. Drugs, and their committed fans, are very much a mixed bag. This is not an endorsement of this particular drug, or any of them. The writing is beautiful, that’s all.
First read this a year ago, but something of the hysteria among UK liberals for Obama’s re-election reminded me of it. An analysis of class in the US, in the form of a brief memoir. As well as being incredibly touching, it’s really useful for putting Republican politics and politicians in context. Also helpful for explaining how US telly people - Daily Show, Bill Maher, those kind of shows - help Republican candidates by snobbishly alienating huge chunks of the electorate. It was written by Sady Doyle, and she is brilliant.
People watching television series used to have to wait till the next week to see what happened, now you can get it on iPlayer, you can download it through torrents, people have seen it before it’s made sometimes. It’s a wider change in society that has had a detrimental effect on football.
One of the things I try to encourage is a sense of belief and culture, and a sense of continuity. When I was 17, 18, 19 everyone we knew who was older, we’d ask about the 50s, ‘What was Finney like? Why did United not win 3 European Cups with a forward line of Best, Charlton and Law?’ I wanted to find out about these things. It struck me the other day that young lads now, they don’t ask me questions about all the stuff I’ve seen.
Growing up, I remember reading Salinger, I think it was Franny and Zooey or Seymour: An Introduction, one of those, and it says, ‘For me, I didn’t have fairytales; the Great Gatsby was my fairytale.’ I read that and thought, ‘You know what? My fairytales were all Billy Lidell and Albert Stubbins.’ That’s what I grew up on. It made me want to watch more and it seemed like a wider thing that I was into.
There’s something brilliant about singing the songs your father sang, and when you lose that part of the game, it just becomes entertainment, instead of being culture.
“But in the troubled sleep of De Beauvoir Town, monsters crawl and swim; memory traces of old Hackney bedlams, the shit and straw of satanic madhouses lurking beyond the walls of the City. Blotting up damage. Incubi and succubi attend the recently impoverished with garlands of nightsweat: final demands, failed commissions, overdue novels. A face that is your face in a mirror that refuses to recognize it. Nakedness as the final disguise. Until that story too can be captured, polished and made tame.”—Iain Sinclair, in his Hackney book.
‘The Little Book of Ideas’. from Occupy London’s Economics Working Group. An introduction to basic financial terms and concepts, reformist policies and individual financial activism. Really great. Hats off to that particular working group.
The Debt Resistor’s Operations Manual. from another Occupy economics working group I think (this time from OccupyWallStreet). This looks like it’s going to be a big deal. Deliberate, coordinated, consumer defaulting - if in substantial numbers - has real potential to make waves.
“With friends and strangers I can be no one; more and more I confine myself to their company. Then one day I enter a room full of acquaintances, and fly into a blind panic: I cannot remember for the life of me who these people think I am …”—Don Paterson.
“Huckleberry Finn took the first journey back. He was the first to look back at the republic from the perspective of the west. His eyes were the first eyes that ever looked at us objectively that were not eyes from overseas. There were mountains at the frontier but he wanted more than mountains to look at with his restive eyes—he wanted to find out about men and how they lived together. And because he turned back we have him forever.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Thanks to Tom Conoboy for highlighting this gem). It suggests to me there should be a blog - like AwesomePeopleHangingOutTogether - called, maybe, AwesomePeopleWritingAboutEachOther. Does such exist? Please let me know.
“I would like to try to tell such a story, if he means the kind that begins: “There was a woman…” followed by plot, the absolute line between two points which I’ve always despised. Not for literary reasons, but because it takes all hope away. Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.”—Grace Paley’s marvellous short story, A Conversation With My Father. Lovely musings on the nature of storytelling, and short stories in particular. Here is Ali Smith reading it aloud, and then spraffing about it briefly. This is a real treat. Don’t bother with the rest of this blog; this is the best thing here.
'Mandated Femininity', on the kinds of women, and kinds of femininity allowed (and the kinds that very much aren’t allowed) in many feminists discussions and spaces. Totally worth reading (even the comments!), especially if, like me, you’re a cis male swimming in privilege.
“Language is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker’s intentions; it is populated –overpopulated– with the intentions of others. Expropriating I, forcing it to submit to one’s own intentions and accents, is a difficult and complicated process… As a living, socio-ideological concrete thing, as heteroglot opinion, language, for the individual consciousness, lies on the borderline between oneself and the other… The word in language is half someone else’s. It becomes one’s “own” only when the speaker populates it with his own intentions, his own accent, when he appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention. Prior to this moment of appropriation, the word does not exist in a neutral and impersonal language… but rather it exists in other people’s mouths, in other people’s contexts, serving other people’s intentions; it is from there that one must take the word, and make it one’s own.”—
“A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”—from Hawking’s Brief History of Time. Seems like this anecdote may be rather famous, but it has passed me by until today. ‘It’s turtles all the way down’. What an utterly lovely phrase.
“A young poet should realize that if he writes something and it bores him, it’s going to bore many other people also. There is nothing wrong with poetry that is entertaining and easy to understand. Genius could be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way. He should stay the hell out of writing classes and find out what’s happening around the corner. And bad luck for the young poet who has a rich father, an early marriage, an early success or the ability to do anything well.”—Charles Bukowski
“1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
15. Learn people better
16. Keep rancho clean
17. Dont get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war — beat fascism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight”—Woody Guthrie’s new year resolutions, 1942. Already posted elsewhere on this blog. Worth hearing again. ‘Wake up and fight’.