30 December 2015

Snowy day

I wonder if God perhaps does not speak English. Outside of the post office, I heard a woman suggest that since she has chosen to avoid having children, she should be exempt from the monthly anguishes related to fertility.

Today I awoke lamenting war, and I remembered a passage from Nietzsche’s The Wanderer and His Shadow (284)—which the translator Walter Kaufmann says was “written when Germany was at the zenith of her power”:

And perhaps the great day will come when a people, distinguished by wars and victories and by the highest development of a military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices for these things, will exclaim of its own free will, “We break the sword,” and will smash its entire military establishment down to its lowest foundations. Rendering oneself unarmed when one has been the best-armed, out of a height of feeling—that is the means to real peace, which must always rest on a peace of mind; whereas the so-called armed peace, as it now exists in all countries, is the absence of peace of mind. One trusts neither oneself nor one’s neighbor and, half from hatred, half from fear, does not lay down arms. Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared

At some point while writing this entry, O journal of mine, I will need to break away and go shovel the snow: a few meters accumulated overnight, and it’s still coming down. I look forward to this, by the way—I enjoy snow shoveling (as long as I don’t have to clear more than 700 walkways). The only reason that I’m recording my deepest concerns right now, instead of fulfilling my duty as a path-clearer, is that my sweetheart is still in bed: I don’t want to jar her awake with the sound of a shovel scraping our yellow brick road. As it is written:

…and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. [Rev. 21:21]

I think that plagiarism concerns novelists more than it does lexicographers. So I hope that I am not frowned upon for copying verbatim this definition from an online dictionary: “A palinode is a poem in which the poet retracts a view or sentiment expressed in a former poem.” I was lucky enough to hear this word used in conversation today, and it made me wish that I had composed everything I’ve ever written as a palinode. I should begin devising a counter-canon to invalidate all my holy scriptures. I love the notion of retracting sentiments.

When one reads writing, each sentence follows the next as quickly as you like—there’s nothing but the content of the composition to indicate that a major adventure transpired between the previous and present paragraph. But I warned you that this might happen: that “at some point” I might need to “break away” in order to “polish the streets of our city.” So here is what happened:

My sweetheart, at long last, came lumbering up the stairs, and I took this as my cue to shovel the walkway. So I shoveled not only the walkway but also the patio, the driveway, and the deck. And while I was shoveling, an inhabitant of one of the neighboring cell blocks appeared driving a motorized vehicle into their garage. (I say “their” garage instead of “his” or “her” garage, to avoid afflicting my subject with the curse of sex.) And then they began shoveling their walkway, just as I was shoveling my walkway—so I decided to give up; because I felt that it was ridiculous for us both—my neighbor and my own mortal soul—to stand out there in the freezing cold shoveling, when old Zeus could just snap his fingers and make the snow vanish.

So I left off from laboring and went back inside of my apartment. I said to my sweetheart: Let’s drive our small car to the park that we love so much. (There is a local park that my sweetheart and I are fond of, because it has a path that goes through the woods.) So she said yes, and we got in our car and drove. Then we tried to walk, but the snow was too deep: we would have needed skis or snowshoes to successfully navigate that style of terrain. So we left and went home.

The roads were slippery when we were driving. And there was an accumulation of snow blocking the entrance to our living quarters; for, although they do their best during winter storms, the plows need forgiveness for their sins just like Jesus Christ who baptizes with fire; but THEN the garbage truck arrived, at the exact same moment as my sweetheart was driving into our driveway; so our car slid and lodged into the snowbank, thus blocking the path to paradise: and I had to rapidly remove the snow from around all four tires (thank Yahweh of Armies that we always keep a shovel in the trunk). So we got our car unstuck and parked it back in our garage and vowed henceforth to never leave our cell block. But then my sweetheart had to go to work, so she took the car and got stuck again on the way out.

So many critics, over the years, have written about Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poetry; I wonder what Shelley himself would make of all the things that they have said. As I wonder this, I am thinking specifically of three poems: “Mont Blanc”; the “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”; and “Prometheus Unbound”—these are the titles that I’ve been reading and rereading lately. (In my last diary entry, I referred to a certain high hill at our local park as Mont Blanc because that poem was on my mind.) At different times, I feel different passages more or less deeply—right now I relate to section six of the Hymn:

Lastly I just want to mention that I listened to a couple of audio interviews yestermorning. One was with a rock star, and one was with a popular movie director. The rock star listed what foods she eats and how much weightlifting she does on a daily basis to maintain her physique. The movie director said that in order to get a film financed and distributed, its ideas and execution must match a precedent that previously worked—and by “worked” he meant “raked in the dough,” which is to say: “earned money,” in other words, “raked in enormous piles of money.” Therefore the movie director—since he prefers to make experimental films that have no hope of attracting the patronage of teenage boys (who alone finance the financiers, apparently)—has chosen to create short projects for himself alone, and to retire from public filmmaking. Plus, for lunch, the rock star eats tuna from a can, because “certain types of protein are less likely to make a person drowsy.”


Thomas Heise said...


Bryan Ray said...

Dear TOM 9000, I thank you for bringing my attention to this recording of the Overture from Alexander Borodin’s opera Prince Igor – it pleased me immensely!


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