October 02, 2006

September Review; two e-mails; plus, a Rilke poem translated.

September ended well this year, with visions of a drunken universe, transubstantiated mimosas on several sabbaths, and play-acting as with the idle rich. On the poetical front, my political soldiers were armed with “bunker busters”, for which our commander-in-chief couldn't get funding, but my imagination knows an alchemy which no congress can poo-poo. Musically, however, the world's body was impotent & incontinent.

I'll conclude this month's weblog with a thought. What if our government made it harder to get a driver's lisence? My sister once proposed that the drinking age & driving age be switched. Meaning, one should practice being a drinker when one is going to anyway, and postpone controlling 35-hundred-pound hunks of steel until we've passed thru our “collegiate maturity”.

I've been trying to picture what a city would look like with 25% fewer cars. My beautiful new apartment overlooks a huge parking lot; &, to walk to my favorite coffee shop & the bar where I play guitar, I have to walk thru two parking lots, cross a busy intersection, & walk down a quiet residential street which is nonetheless completed lined with parked cars. And my “commute” is only four blocks, taking about eight minutes! & I must pass a couple hundred cars! In addition to the obvious green considerations, a decrease in the number of cars would thin out some of the places where they congregate. But what would we do with all that space? Gardens, trees, patios, piazzas, museums, circuses, playgrounds, sculptures, trails, ponds, kitchens, lemonade stands – you know, the things that used to fill up a city before cars took over fifty years ago. How we might replace the noise of traffic is another issue.

Who would be the volunteers to stop driving, to decrease the amount of cars by 25%? What if the driving age was not 21 but 30? This would operate under the assumption that no healthy, single, childless twenty-something actually needs his car to commute to work or to get his groceries home. And this would operate under the assumption that no poor, entry-level-job, college-indebted twenty-something needs to be spending (on average) ten thousand dollars a year on something superfluous, noisy, dangerous, & polluting. Even renting an automobile for travel, the dozen times a year that might be necessary, plus the price of trains or public transportation, adds up to strikingly less than the price of owning one.

But of course, one could not expect, & one would not want, a law like that to ever appear. But what if it were a subject of morality instead of legislature. Christians, for instance, don't expect the government to enforce abstinence until marriage; why should conscious liberals want anyone but their community to discourage automobile-ownership until necessity. And by reshaping our society, necessity would quickly dwindle.

Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2006 23:03:40 -0700 (PDT)
From:"S. Sandrigon" <_________@yahoo.com>
Subject: Birds
To:Send an Instant Message "Rachel Eley" <________@yahoo.co.uk>


We just finished watching Attenborough's
Life of Birds. I used to love those Oxford coots so much, until I saw them killing all their own babies tonight. I got pretty choked up at the end when he was giving his "save the birds" speech.

I'm up thru Act Three of the Jest-book. I haven't quite figured out how to respond yet. I'd love an explanation of the song "Squats on a toad-stool" [III.iii.322-67]. It seems to be about an aborted fetus wondering which of God's gross creatures it should inhabit next; but, why, Rachel, why?

I've more or less put off my job hunt until I finish reading it, & then I'll tell you how I liked it.
How's school?




Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 19:43:40 +0000 (GMT)
From:Send an Instant Message "Rachel Eley" <__________@yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Re: Birds
To:"S. Sandrigon" <__________@yahoo.com>


When in Oxford, Nick and Geoff Schullenberger developed a highly detailed cosmology of ducks, in which coots featured as 'the fallen ones' and were charged with undertaking the devil's work, as far as it extended to the river bank, and for guarding portals to the underworld beneath their enormous and evil-looking nests. The two became so possessed by this idea that the sight of coots made them visible angry and, on occasions, prone to hissing. Only recently do they appear to have forgotten about it. I am not going to tell them what you saw.

As to dear little frog-voice, I'm not quite sure what to tell you. Of course he is not the only bodiless childfull who longs for a body in the play. He has been torn from from womb, as others from the tomb, and the question for all is of course 'where next'? Dying and staying dead just doesn't seem to be an option in a play written by a compulsive poet-experimental anatomist. Perhaps it's worth remembering too that Isbrand is an orphan, and one who spends much of his time plunging in and out of different bodies (court-fool, brother, conspirator, revolutionary leader, meglomaniac). His belief that he can choose who he wants to be is central to his character. ('I would have seized the sky some moonless night,/ And made myself the sun; whose morrow rising/ Shall see me new-created by myself.) I think he admires frog-voice, who like him aspires to be 'more than human'. Creating yourself and creating others (through alchemy, necromancy or the apothecary's art - all practised in the play) seems to be tactics in this foolish power struggle. What happens to Nature and humanity, I'm not sure.

School has begun well. Somehow my 'vocational' degree (that's what I told my parents anyway) involves me comparing and evaluating the relative merits of 'bio-ethics', deep ecology eco-socialism and Gaia theory. I shall be a hippy!

More later; I am trying to keep on top of the reading list this time around and i've a core class tomorrow. So far no sign of the old demons.


I notice you, in all of everything:

That which is good, you are, like to a brother,

That which is small, you shine, like to a sapling,

That which is huge, you give, like from a mother.

Such is the awesome theater of powers:

To go thru things, as with a slave's perfection,

To grow in roots, to flow with sap and flowers,

And in the canopy, as with a resurrection.

-from Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Studenbuch

(trans. by the weblogist)

1 comment:

James Welsch said...

Here's the whole Beddoes poem, in case it was hard to find in my link:

Squats on a toad-stood under a tree

A bodiless childfull of life in the gloom,
Crying with frog voice, 'What shall I be?
Poor unborn ghost, for my mother killed me
Scarcely alive in her wicked womb.
What shall I be? shall I creep to the egg

That's cracking asunder yonder by Nile,
And with eighteen toes,
And a snuff-taking nose,
Make an Egyptian crocodile?
Sing, "Catch a mummy by the leg
And crunch him with an upper jaw,
Wagging tail and clenching claw;
Take a bill-full from my craw,
Neighbour raven, caw, O caw,
Grunt, my crocky, pretty maw!

And give a paw."

'Swine, shall I be you? Thou'rt a dear dog;
But for a smile, and kiss, and pout,
I much prefer your black-lipped snout,
Little, gruntless, fairy hog,
Godson of the hawthorn hedge.
For, when Ringwood snuffs me out,
And 'gins my tender paunch to grapple,
Sing, "'Twixt your ancles visage wedge,

And roll up like an apple."

'Serpent Lucifer, how do you do?
Of your worms and your snakes I'd be one or two;
For in this dear planet of wool and of leather
'Tis pleasant to need neither shirt, sleeve, nor shoe,
And have arm, leg, and belly together.
Then aches your head, or are you lazy?
Sing, "Round your neck your belly wrap,
Tail-a-top, and make your cap

Any bee and daisy."

'I'll not be a fool, like the nightingale
Who sits up all midnight without any ale,
Making an noise with his nose;
Nor a camel, although 'tis a beautiful back;
Nor a duck, notwithstanding the music of quack,

And the webby, mud-patting toes.

I'll be a new bird with the head of an ass,
Two pigs' feet, two men's feet, and two of a hen;
Devil-winged; dragon-bellied; grave-jawed, because grass
Is a beard that's soon shaved, and grows seldom again

Before it is summer; so cow all the rest;
The new Dodo is finished. O! come to my nest.'