Sunday, March 31, 2013

Springlish


    This time last year Myosotis and Oxalis were blooming and maybe an Iris.  The Blood Root would have flowered two maybe three weeks ago, and if a person looked toward woodland they could have seen a mist of green and they could have felt that sense of gaining humidity that means mold and mushroom bloom, a perfect storm for corporate entities that first manufacture, then double the cost of production before they distribute to Grocery Stores, often quite useless medications designed to make it possible to walk upright without falling over from dizziness and sneezing. 

      This year we've had none of that sort of nonsense just yet.  Drifts of cold clean air from the more disciplined Arctic regions, crisp from the ice sheets and scented only by the breath of sleeping Polar Bears, are still rambling around taking photographs and jotting down postcards  for the grandchildren back home.   They'll sit on top of the barn, point and start to laugh when I don't wear the woolly hat, the big boots and a jacket that's  under the coat that's under the overcoat.  And you know damn well these caterwaulers are employed by lobbyists for heating fuel interests because they don't carry banners.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Humility


    Pre-scripted instinctive decisions, as against calculations by individuals.  In there somewhere is the difference between what the word cognitive represents and what the word non-cognitive represents.  And there are times when I don't see the difference.
  
     When,  as his demonstration of Easter humility, the new Pope washed, then kissed the feet of prisoners, instead of Bishops, there were instinctive responses and calculated responses to his action.  Mine was "good for him."  Others preferred something along the lines of "slippery slope to hell."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Compost Pile


   Idleness around the long term compost pile, inadequate sorting, thorny rose, small tree trunks, the occasional stone, odds and ends of wire and plastic, and possibly a sleeping Cobra. These things provide an opportunity to reappraise self and the meaning of life in general.  

      For some years now, my own preference has been to hold out for some sort of absolution from my sin, followed by a miraculous disappearance of the long term compost pile.  Hasn't happened, doesn't look as though it will happen without penance through a cruel physical labor.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Blessed Release


   "The Dasein,"  was and maybe still is, the object to be defined by existentialist thinkers. It dominated the period up to whenever it was the sciences made such inroads into consciousness that thinking about consciousness could no longer remain independent of science without beginning to sound like an utterance from a religious nut.  "The Dasein" is an attempt to arrange words around an objectiveness which mathematicians would have been proud of. And if you think of it as "The Dasein" you might never want to know, that in English "The Dasein" means something like "The Being There."
 
     My own "The Rabbit of Usk,and/or Saint Timothy," like "The Dasein" or "The Being There," is also a something around which to arrange thinking with words. But unlike "The Dasein," or "The Being There," which are both the same thing in two different languages, The Rabbit of Usk is one thing and Saint Timothy is how The Rabbit of Usk defines itself.  In other words, I'm not so much concerned with a definition in which to find an understanding of a something that might actually be true, as I am looking for a narrative in which to find solace.  And I'm fairly sure that whatever you are trying to add to "Being," whether  it is "Time" or "Nothingness" or "Technology" - and the list goes on - you are too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Rabbit of Usk

   While Dunkirkian Transgressions might well have been a  motivator in broadening the horizon of populations to look elsewhere, the more worthwhile question has to be why did those who took to the ships become in any way heroic.  Amongst the Welsh Celts, the word "Saeson" was no term of endearment, it was rather a synonym for 'barbarity' and 'pirate' as well as ignorance. Amongst the "Saeson" those who might have agreed with the Welsh characterization would have been titled "treasonous" and not to be trusted.  As well, amongst the Welsh Celts, those who considered the "Saeson" a breath of fresh air would probably have had their name entered into the short list.

      One answer is a part of the world sometimes called "The Welsh Marches." It runs basically on either side of a line from the Roman Fort at Chester in the north, to the Roman Fort at Isca in the south.  Think of it as a piedmont.  Foothills between lower land and higher land.  Think of it also as lead mines, copper mines, and iron mines, and if you moved further west of the line maybe gold and silver and coal. And if geography is not your favorite, think of King Offa marking a boundary line by raising a population to dig one hundred and fifty odd miles of ditch.  And if the history of shoveling  leaves you numb, think of the Rabbit of Usk, or Saint Timothy, which is how I try to stay calm.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dunkirkian Marine Transgression II

   The principle tribes of the English were Angles, Lower Saxons and easy to forget the most northerly of the English tribes, the Jutes. All of them had settled to agricultural along the North Western shores of  Europe. There are some who will tell you with vehemence that there is actually no difference between the Jutes from Jutland and the Geats from the rocky and often cold shores of southern Sweden.  Perhaps more interesting is why did the Geats hang on in southern Sweden despite incursion by the Goths, and why did the Jutes from the flatness of Jutland cross the North sea to take land from Romanized Island Celts, or The Britons.  The answer can be found in what the professionals call "A Marine Transgression," and what I prefer to think of as "Sea swallowing up land so that people can't live there anymore." Worth remembering there are others who will tell you that seven or nine thousand years ago, about when Jericho had it's first city wall, if you lived in Jutland you could probably have walked across the North Sea to Hull.

      But, more specifically for the principal tribes of the English, it was the "Dunkirkian Marine Transgression," that mattered. This transgression had a number of phases, one of which was called "Dunkirkian II." It lasted from around 300AD until around 600AD. It eroded away or swamped good portions of the lowland in North Western Europe. Other "Dunkirkian Transgressions," had no effect upon the Jutes, the Angles and the Lower Saxons, because after about 500AD they had become Anglo Saxons, who all lived and had their being east of a line from about the River Tweed to the mouth of the River Severn, then along the coast a bit to around Barnstable, then south across land to Exeter. The foot of Cornwall was where the Dumnonii Celts remained stubborn.  The Jutes themselves moved as southward as possible, they dominated Kent and Hampshire. But in the various Celtic dialects all these European invaders were called "Saeson" or "Sasannach."  And the thing the Sasannach had in common was a developing language that came to be called English, which is these days first spoken by almost as many people as first speak Spanish. Spanish, around the time of the Sasannach incursion upon the Celts of Britain, was a dialect of Latin spoken in the Iberian Peninsular, or Spain.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Potato Kings of Wessex

   In 839, when Egbert King of Wessex died, his only child Ethelwulf  broke with tradition because he inherited the Throne of Wessex.  And there are some Saxons who still blame the church and its more progressive Bishops for such an egregious dismissal of conservative values.  Ethelwulf was a more spiritual or lily-livered person, he took no pleasure from war making, saw it as a necessity rather than a business opportunity.  His own preference was to seek out the help of the Almighty in the battle against the profane and disorderly.  And to this end he chose to make a pilgrimage to Rome, lavish gifts on the Vicar of Christ, who would have been either Pope Leo IV or Pope Benedict the III, in exchange for divine intervention and guidance in the matter of ruling a kingdom.   On his return from Rome,  Ethelwulf fell in awe of Judith Martel.  She was twelve years old and she was one of Charlemagne's legitimate grandchildren.  Ethelwulf,  married Judith in the court of  Charles the Bald, King of the West Franks. Which is a rather long drawn out way of saying "Judith wasn't just anybody, she was a French Princess." But, during Ethelwulf's absence from Wessex, his third legitimate son Ethelbald, who far outshone his father as military leader, had conspired with the particularly reactionary, 'no foreign Sharia nonsense,' Saxon Bishop of Sherborne, as well as Notables and probably Merchants, because as a rule, underneath it all, these things were in those days as they are today, about "who gets what."  Which meant that a fifty six year old Ethelwulf, and his twelve year old bride, were faced with the prospect of civil war for control of the Kingdom of Wessex.


     Traditionally a Saxon King's solution to this sort of circumstance was to go ahead and fight a war, be brave and if necessary die honorably, and while in great pain try to say something catchy. The sort of thing that even today merchants and kings expect from their soldiers, but which for some reason these days soldiers no longer expect from either their merchants or their kings or their members of congress or even their generals. But, Ethelwulf, rather than fight the civil war, again broke with tradition,  he negotiated a settlement.  And in that settlement one of the harder fought provisions was that henceforth  in the Saxon Kingdom of Wessex, anyone married to a king would be permitted to sit on a throne beside the king. And, to further irritate the Bishop of Sherborne, anyone married to a king would no longer be referred to as  "The King's Wife." Instead they would be called "A Queen."  Then when Ethelwulf died, Judith at the age of fourteen married Ethelwulf's son Ethelbald. Then when Ethelbald died, Judith returned to France where at the age of around nineteen she married a man called  Baldwin, who owned a part of Europe that's still called Flanders. Judith  must have been quite fond of her third husband, because they remained together for thirty seven years and had four legitimate children, one of whom became Baldwin the II.  And I'll still insist there should be a variety of Potato named "Egbert" or at least "Ethelwulf."   Incidentally, "bald" in those days meant "bold." "Ethel"  and the word  "bert"  reference old meanings in "noble" that we have built into words like  "famous, illustrious, wonderful, super, fantastic, media star."  And for those who might care about the difference, "Wulf" is today's word for the endangered species "Wolf." And yes! Running fast and loose with the Anglo Saxon Chronicles, translates to,  "it's snowing with horrible wind outside."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mockingbird Woo

   There are some, and I have been one of them, who will tell you that all Caucasian people look alike to Chinese people.  And there was a time when I would agree that all Mockingbirds look alike to all people. But the Girl Cedar Mockingbird does not look like other Mockingbirds to me.  Of the possible reasons why, I think probably the more accurate reason why, is because I have been so seduced by her I have become blinded to all other Mockingbirds.  Her quiet voice and movement has a loneliness that draws me to her in the way that sadness draws the heart to comforting.  And I am certain she watches me when I castigate the total inadequacy of the rabbit fence, and generally curse creatures that nibble.

    I found myself with a sudden need to find little things from newly  turned soil to offer her.  That large white grub that crawls on its back before becoming a June Beetle in July. A  most unattractive posse of them gathered where the Ladybirds were copulating, which  itself is not in the least a coordinated activity, it's the wing case and Turtle shape, I guess. But the grub of June Beetle, I reckoned would be like a bacon and egg sandwich with mayonnaise to a Girl Mockingbird. I picked two of them  up to take to her. She was near the bottle tree. As I walked the distance, warmth from my hand must have roused the June Beetle Grubs. I suddenly became very creeped out,  by their wriggling and I'm pretty sure one of them bit me. I felt rather foolish of course, and pretended that I too was interested in the condition of the compost piles. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Ebbing Pox


   Recent preoccupation with Saints, Walking Stewart, the Rabbit of Usk, and a harping on about stubbornness of winter, is obviously one more element in the slow decline occurring in the space behind a deteriorating apparatus of sight and between increasingly inept labyrinths of hearing.  Who knew while in the more natural state of  crawling around on all fours, throwing up and cooing,  that one day I'd make the mistake of standing up, grow at least tall enough to reach the lower shelves and door handles, then eventually start to shrink as various parts start to race each other toward Anatomical Palsy and the Ebbing Pox.

     Probably of all things most frustrating, it's the community that resides somewhere in that part where my head joins its neck.  Day and night this community will chatter on in that high pitched way, and I find myself wishful around The Artist's recently acquired collection of pointed bits of metal.  The more reasonable alternative to so direct and radical  an action against this community is to try to think of them as happy, untroubled by discord and political clash, just merrily about their business. This way, I might come to accept that pretty much everything I do to occupy time not consumed by the demands of a digestive tract that connects the salivating gland to my rectum, has no better function than to distract what remains of me from the presence of these jolly little fellows.

Friday, March 22, 2013

19 Fahrenheit

   Last year March 15th was Peak Bloom for The Forsythia.  This morning The Forsythia has a hint, or a whiff of yellow. I'd say there could be several more days before Forsythia bloom begins to give consideration to a serious attempt at display.  In short this March is turning into icy nightmare with Peak Bloom for Forsythia maybe not until March 28th. And I'll readily admit I belong to the breed who will take his oath in the court room that this year Winter started stealing from us about ten days ago.

    I can look back as far away as last year and remember it for the heat of its summer, the almost complete absence of rain. I can look further back into last year and remember the earliness of its springtime, March 14th the Blood Root had her flowers.  And I can look back to last year and recall a Brown Thrasher at the very end of January, which gave me such a jolt of happiness, I believed in the impossible. But no way should our species have ever been permitted to migrated much  further than  25 degrees north or south of  zero degrees latitude. I'll blame the original sin  upon those dullards who did.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Old Farts

   I'd imagine that when Paxton et al, developed systems capable of more rapidly disseminating ideas and information a whole range of objections were produced.  And one of those objections could well have been that the world as we knew it was on the verge of a terrible dysfunction that could lead to something like the evil of radio, cinema, television.. Not to mention the damage mass printing might do by regimenting the spoken word. Robbing it of its glory, it's flexibility and its power by subjecting it to spelling tests, rules of grammar and punctuation.


    Now days of course you can listen to a remarkably idiotic portion of the  middle aged spread rant on about  how they have limited their child's access to television, censored its access to the internet and force fed books to the unfortunate little bastard.  Then invariably you'll hear from this same satanic cult that they always have supper at the dining table, pursue cohesion through chores and never wear socks that don't match, just like they did in 1450 something. My own view on this subject is essentially, "we've been going to hell since nesting in trees was deemed inappropriate."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another Fifty Thousand Words.

   I am currently on a street corner behind a bakery staring at a crumpled piece of paper.  Otherwise there's not much to see, and the reason for this is because the bakery is a reflection of a place I have very poor memory of.   Nor am I able to plagiarize  the bakery's equivalence from anywhere near where I now live because some of my memories are not so much gone as they are reluctant to stand up and stare in the mirror. The result is a preoccupation with this crumpled piece of paper as it catches the breeze and potters around between the new tarmac and sand on the other side of the road  from the bakery.  And the question is, should I pick this piece of paper up to see what might be written upon it. 
 
    For a while, my answer has been a loud and determined "no!" which sometimes alarms The Artist.  I already have so many wandering strands of thinking, most of which I have forgotten all about, many of which come as a huge surprise as I make the error of re-reading past sentences in a search for the function of semi-colons. I have argued that one more unattended diversion from the invisible grist of the plot and I will have left the idea of story, or narrative, or structure, so far behind it'll no longer behave as a guiding principle and will itself have become yet one more confusing strand.  But clearly I don't really care, because I've decided that sometime today I'll reach for the piece of paper and see what might be written upon it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Invasive Species

   The Froe and Draw Knife, or is it a Spokeshave.  Perhaps a Skew, a Scorp, or Inshave, an Adze or a Bark Spud, a Skidding Tong, a Strop with Stopping Compound.  It's a Geek Speak, I guess.  It has something to do with dangerously sharp, or pointed bits of metal.  Implements of Medieval Warfare, or maybe what happened to prisoners who failed to reveal secrets.  And there is some sort of wooden horse, the Ancient's might have patented, and I know it's not called a Shoji  Horse, but then my memory is not good.


    And there might even be Tung Oil, from the nut of the Tung Tree.  It looks a little like the Nut from the Hickory Tree. And I think Tung Nut Oil behaves as a sort of varnish, and I know Marco Polo reckoned it an ingredient in how the Chinese water proofed the hulls of their sailing ships.  The attempt to grow Tung Nuts here in the United States fell foul of frost and hurricane, or lack of rainfall.  And in Florida the Tung Tree is now listed as a category II Invasive Species.  Like Adam Buddle's Buddleia, maybe, but Buddleia first came from the Caribbees.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jesuits

   On the television I finally watched a  recording of the Old Pope leave upon his gleaming white helicopter. He will be the first Pope to retire in something like six hundred years. There was pomp, ceremony, starch and much ecclesiastical glamour.  The last Pope to retire was briefly imprisoned and the rumor is that he was later murdered.  Then during the advertising break which preceded a refreshingly civilized panel discussion, I watched some made up nonsense about a lotion which if placed upon the nubile and almost naked body of a female by a well muscled half naked male, the consequence will be bliss, happiness, drinkies that contain umbrellas, along with an exotic meal served by smiling island faces. There was some very uncoordinated dancing to extraordinarily dull music, which was followed by what I guessed must have been an early night because the sun was not quite set and no shortage of electricity, motor boats, and I think they are called ski-jets.  And I had to assume this conjoining couple had either failed to pack their wedding ring or had lost it while galloping across sand into the waves, where I at least hoped they might be eaten by shark.


    The new Pope I am told is a Jesuit.  Like most people I am mostly nervous around Jesuits.  These are not gentle Franciscan Priests with their pudding pies and ice cream and earthiness of preaching.  Jesuits tend to be well built and big boned, very opinionated, ruthless at the game of Rugby, fierce with the whip in a classroom, and they enjoy boxing.  They are hopeless at the long game of Cricket which says nothing soothing about their personality.  And yet, like most people I have a sort of admiration for Jesuits so long as their fists remain at a good distance from me. Their founder was a military man.  Wounded in battle, he spoke with Jesus while in the fevers of recovery.  His vows included chastity and poverty, as well as the understanding that, "if the Church shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black."  Rule thirteen, I believe it was called, and I have to suspect that this rule from their founder was most instrumental in shaping Pope Paul the third 's 1540 decision to grant "The Society of Jesus," or Jesuits, their Papal Bull or Letters Patent, or Legitimacy in the Eyes of God.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bacchus, and the Baccalaureate


    Yes, there is a yard or two of ground prepared and yes there are Sprouting Potato to plant, and yes the morning is "rain last night," or if your prefer "cloud and mud."  I guess too, it would be a very good time to take on quantities of alcohol sufficient to reduce the remainder of the day to a discordant blur, as the rivers run green, and far away Beautiful Fairies emerge from their burial mounds to cajole and tempt us mortals, and if you ask why the great poets die young, it's because they surrender to the prettiest or handsomest Pixie.  But many more of us who develop a familiarity with the Dionysian Challenge begin to appreciate the every-day-ness of Saint's Days, such that for some of us what's loosely referred to as 'sobriety' can only be achieved within the confines of the Devil's own holding cell.

    I guess I have to admit that the Dionysian Challenge, is no more than my own reading of an ancient cult.  "Bacchus, and the Baccalaureate," I could call it. The challenge, it seems to me,  was to put drunken revelry, orgiastic behavior and excess under the charge of an equivalent to something like Bishops rather than Barmen, Bouncers and the Magistrates Court.  In the golden era, before a person could indulge in the jolly good fun of an altered and often barbaric state, he or she endured an initiation by officers of the faith that insured the soundness and quality of what was considered a spiritual experience.  In short, in past time, it was less like being an entitled lunatic, than it was like practicing a warranted religion.  Either way, freeze or frost, the rain gauge is returned to the rain gauge holder, because not knowing how much rain fell last night is more than my own being can comfortably manage.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feathers

    The picture theory of language, suggests that words are arranged around  what might be called a  'moment.'  A mind chooses which words best reflect the 'moment,' it then gives structure, or grammar,  to the words before an utterance is issued by the vocal chords.  A picture however will never be fully embraced by the sentence or sentences uttered.

    The picture, or the photograph, or the painting, or the drawing, will contain considerably more information than maybe a hundred thousand long drawn out and interminable sentences.  And perhaps it's easier for me to think of the language device as it developed  in us people as something like a feather.  It identifies, it denigrates, it camouflages, conceals, it comforts, it warms and has enabled us to fly through pictures we might never have actually seen. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Up-Burst

    The forecast suggests soaring temperatures, slight chance of rain, and we'll be frost free until Tuesday.  Around this time of year when such statements are casually issued, odds are that sometime in the next day or so, there will be thunderstorms, with gusty wind and maybe hail, or perhaps a tornado, possibly some sort of down bursting wind, followed by sub-zero temperatures and no access to the electrical grid. If you want to know why, it is because winter likes this part of Kentucky and when it is time for winter to leave, he or she paces about in an irritable and bad tempered manner.  And I guess there have to be some in our number who are flattered by winters reluctance to leave us.
  
    My own contribution to the physics of  seasonal movement is basically summed by the word 'epithet.'  The Greeks loved them, but their epithets were usually rather useful. "Of Tarsus," or "The Great."  They tended toward using their epithets as markers that denoted place or attribute or action.  Mine, seem to have outpaced  the widening of usage the word 'epithet' has come to  encompass. As well  as obscure vocalization and random dissociative remarks, mine include gesture and facial twitch, the sort of thing 'an observing other' might readily mistake for late onset Tourettes Syndrome rather than a contribution to the physics of seasonal change  And while "The Good Lord" regularly figures in such uncontrolled up-bursts, I will henceforth try harder to recall the wisdom of science which has proposed that rational speech and good grammar is associated with the outer layer of the left side of the brain, whereas uncontrolled expletive is an utterance from the deeper,  more ancient spheres, where brooding emotion lurks.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Undo

    This morning I had forty emails. Excited I was by the prospect of discourse. But not one of them was doing anything other than trying to sell me something.  Then the technical device asked me whether I wished to 'auto archive,' and usually when this question is asked, because I try to be agreeable when around technical devices, I replied with a 'yes.'  Today, however, I replied with a 'no' and I did so in a somewhat aggressive manner that gave me a brief moment of immense satisfaction. It's this sort of taking control with the word 'no'  that places a person on the right of a political spectrum, I decided.

     Sadly I have absolutely no idea what 'auto archive' means.  Sadder still I have no clue how to resurrect the 'auto archive's' question so that I might change my mind, and in my confusion I have somehow said 'yes' to an equally confusing question from the technical device, and as a result I have just deleted every email I have ever sent or received, leaving me with a sense of loss, which has resulted in a strong desire to 'undo.'  But fortunately I think that somewhere in my current dilemma is a long sought definition of  the word 'principle' as it is understood by the political class.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Honey Dipper

    Recently, the often very personal ritual of bodily function has been taken to the fresh air. Classically enough these past few days have been rain swept, well marked by high wind and chill, and it is very apparent to me that holes are easier to dig in the late winter than they are in the late fall. 

    Then yesterday the honey dipper arrived and one of us at last was able to finish the article he was reading about the political class in his attempt to understand what it was our rulers mean by the word "principle."  Suffice to say the long thought about "Outhouse With Magnificence," will now proceed at pace.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Polysyllabic Discourse

    As I understand Post Modern and Post Structure, they are themes in thinking about Human Being that have concluded our being is of such a complexity that the center or structure once proposed will always be suspect.  The confusion for the polysyllabic discourse -any thing with 'post' in front of it - is pretty much summarized by a lecture delivered by Jacques Lacan, a psychoanalyst, in Baltimore in 1966. It's title: "Of Structure as the Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever."  Which might well sound more comprehensible in French.

    Post Modern and Post Structure thinking is however very far from accepting my own notion of center which is somewhere in the very simple word 'random.'  In another way, I have to think of life as having emerged from chaos and with the tools available to Human Being, we will only ever possess moments of  insight, many of which will conflict because our brains are not big enough to hold it all. Nor do I call this position acceptance, or resignation, or without logic, or depressing, or wacky in any way. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tsavo

http://archive.org/details/maneatersoftsavo00pattiala

    'The Man Eaters of Tsavo and Other East African Adventures,' contains an account of building part of the East African Railway system.  It was written  by Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson and it was published in 1907. The book can be read to you by a mechanical device, if you follow the above link.  A dispassionate voice can ramble on in the background, while you gaze at the weather radar, and it can pleasantly distract you from worrying about Spinach seedlings.  The book has many photographs, some of which are interesting.  Amongst other things, John Henry Patterson was a soldier, a Christian Zionist and a  hunter, and he spent a great deal of his time while in East Africa shooting creatures, some of them troublesome, others just minding their own business, and  most of those creatures he shot required the gathering of wood, so meat could be cooked then eaten.


    I mention this book for two reasons.  The first is that I seem to have lost enthusiasm for books written by authors who use twitter.  Which makes reading Chomsky's view of postmodern and  post-structuralism difficult for me, but he is a little older than I am, so there is hope. I also have developed an allergy to authors who appear too frequently on the television.  And this means  pretty much every book upon a best seller list, has become almost impossible for me to even think about trying to read.  The second reason for mentioning Patterson's Adventures, contains hints of further flaws in my personality.  Both the Preface, the Forward and the First Chapter of  Man Eaters of  Tsavo begin with the word "It."   Which of all the things to remain in a memory, I  noticed first when I  read Man Eaters of Tsavo sometime in 1960 or 1961.  The school master asked me something like, "Why do you always begin your paltry attempts at composition with 'It.'"

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Anno Domini

   OK.  It's all about Forsythia bloom, Cedar Gall, and the morning after hangover from an excess of exertion that gave shine to the shovel.  These past months I have not been saintly, I have pontificated through the valley of sloth and I have feared no evil. 

      I now have a waddle Sumo Wrestlers might envy.  My hands are soft, my elegant wrists limp from daintiness, my wing and knee in so terrible a revolt I firmly believe they will shortly secede. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Chomsky

   This is what Chomsky said about language in the 1950's.  If you had something like a baby Hedgehog and a baby member of my own species, and both of them were untrammeled by physical  impairment, and you put them in a room together, then subjected them through their early years to language, the baby human would learn to use language, but the baby Hedgehog would not.  Humans he argued have a language device, something a Hedgehog does not.  The challenge, Chomsky decided was to work out what that language device might be, how it works, where it might reside, what it's limits might be, what role it plays in the processes and structures of thinking, and in what ways might that language device have separated  our species from both other creatures and from sensibleness.

    Chomsky would also argue that both baby Humans and baby Hedgehogs are capable of what the logical call 'inductive reasoning,'  which is the ability to produce, "the odds are that if I do X then Y is  likely to happen."  Inductive reasoning enjoys the possibilities and is sometimes nervous around them.  But it's cousin, referred to as 'deductive reasoning,' is a capacity of people, not Hedgehogs.  Deductive reasoning, abhors the uncertainty of inductive mental process, it sneers at doubt and becomes lofty when the word gamble arises. "If I do X then Y will certainly happen."  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Constraints of Narrative

   An accurate account of events is rare.  There is the date and time of the event.  The moment of it.  Which can be reasonably accurate.  October 14th 1066,  for example. Most everything else is interpretation. I wished Harold victory, others probably delighted that Harold died form a wound to the eye. And this is something I can say with some confidence because recently, and by 'recently' I mean the past twenty odd years,  I have been trying to write the "history of me."  Which in and of itself is a fairly ludicrous exercise, because I am not yet dead.   One solution to the impasse would be to embrace what it is I am trying to sell.  Sadly I am not certain what that is, so invariably a "history of me" becomes  "A Propaganda of Me." A flagrancy that benefits no one.

 
    I have considered the idea of reducing my existence to separated moments. And giving each of those moments an end date. A structure, inspired by Opinion Polls, which if I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times, are 'snapshots in time.' But if I look at Opinion Polls, which since the advent of a tyranny called audience participation that can be found even in the Dentist's waiting room, I would make the observation that 'fickle is understatement.'  And there is the boogaloo of memory, which in polite terms is 'unreliable and fraught' and can sometimes be checked.  Then there is constraint of narrative, where currently I am in a mental asylum, haunted by the spirit of a disgruntled Saint who has appeared to me in the form of a Rabbit.  And I'll tell you this much, I have grown much fonder of the Rabbit than I am of me.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Brutus

   For a period of about four hundred years the Roman Senate dominated politics.  There were checks and balances and all the various devices, term limits and so on, that allow debate to precede action and form the mainspring of both wise and unwise decision making.  Long and beautiful public debate, speech that inspired.  Certainly the Roman Senate as it gathered history looked less and less like a bunch of part time soldiers, who'd occasionally agree to protect the flock by warding of the more unpleasant neighbors. It began to comprise property owning gentlemen with the correct lineage, and here property included people and acres and ship yards and whole islands and maybe entire mountains covered with Grapevine and perhaps the complete toe of Italy.  As well during the time of the Roman Republic there was a powerful Plebian Council where the day to day matters were debated by non-patricians, or Romans who owned insufficient wealth and birthright to earn the title Senator. The Plebs were a  patriotic bunch who tied their fate to Rome's expanding empire, filled its legions and cheered.  They were raucous with shouting and passion, they greatly enjoyed spectacle, and probably much fun to be around.  Inevitably the Patricians defined them as common and subordinate and unsavory, as do some dictionaries today.

    But the Plebs were the middle class, they owned small farms, they made cheese, they were craftsmen, teachers stone masons, scientists, the list goes on, and as Rome expanded so did their standard of living. Then around 100 BC, following financial crisis and a massive increase in the slave population that had resulted from victory abroad, things began to go awry.  The Plebs lost economic power and their numbers increased. A Patrician Landowner, who once might have employed Plebs, no longer needed to.  Poverty forced Plebs to sell what they owned at bargain base prices to Patricians. And it turned out that slaves were harder working and much less expensive than cantankerous freemen who where constantly taking a break for snacks and maybe the occasional day off, and there is always the talking back which can be such a bind and you can't send freemen to die in a tin mine when they reach the age of about thirty.  Nor was there much call for military service, because  Rome had defeated her enemies, the Mediterranean was her lake, and increasingly, a powerful Roman, if he wanted his oats and a hob-knob with the pinnacle of career, would make war on another powerful Roman, rather than stress about Scythians and deserts and places too cold for the civilized to live.  Around 49 BC Julius Caesar, a general of the army, finally disobeyed the Roman Senate, he crossed the Rubicon with a military force and basically he became Dictator for Life. A Tyrant whose word alone was law. And for the next four hundred years if you wanted to get ahead in Roman politics you took your cue from Caesar, rather than dialogue and 'what if.'  As for me, I hope March 15th will see the ground well prepared for the warmer days.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ratty


    Data from the Almanac will tell you that high temperatures for this particular day of the year, in this part of the world where I live,  have ranged from 30 F to 87 F.  Low temperatures have ranged from 3 F to 62 F.  In the next two months mean average temperature, I am told, will rise 20 F.  This coming Sunday, time springs forward. Which means that in the middle of Saturday night we either gain or lose an hour, and if you want to know why, it has something to do with school children, the electric light, and the uberlords whose day begins at either nine or ten in the morning and finishes in the mid afternoon, with all of Sunday and Saturday off.

     I do understand that despite effort to the contrary, I have maintained a 'ratty-ness' toward certain sectors of the community and toward certain seasons of the globe and toward many of my fellow creatures whose contribution to wellness are clearly too far beyond my comprehension for sense making.  And I feel safe in declaring this 'ratty-ness' a deep flaw of personality, rather than a thing honed by a desire for purity.  I have said terrible things about bankers and politicians, Job Creators, Moles, television personalities, Merlins, film stars, the Northern Harrier,  gun nuts, Rabbits that breach fences. But, when I leave this earth, even if it means having to return again, I want to be segregated from "The Great Oneness," because I do not wish to rub shoulders with anyone or anything that has kind words for winter.  Go ahead! Call it a negative attitude.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Potato Darling


    March 17th isn't so far away.  Ten days or so. The ground this morning is not just damp, or moist, it is wet.  And there is always the trade that "At least it drains well."  And while a wet March is nice, unless it means a dry April, ground preparation where I live is again behind. 

    But whatever the weather might decide, I am dreaming of  Potato, fresh from the soil.  And this year rather than think of "Potato crop," with associated tension and storage and long lines that would make the soldiers proud and a constant gaze at the clouds. I'd like to try to think of "Potato Darling."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Comprehending Peace


    Tomorrow's Anniversary contains an element I'll call smokiness, rather than fog.  It's not so much regret or sadness, because I am older than I might once have been, and if there is such a thing as wisdom, it amasses what might be called a "gentleness toward."  A phrase not easy to define in a manner that contains no suggestion of emotion, or yearning, or hope, or wish, because gentleness toward as I mean it can appear cruel or loving or dumb or even blind.  Nor is it really tender or caring. And most assuredly it is not easy to handle in the way soft things are supposed to be, because it's where the ghosts live.

    Better to picture it as the Christians have, think of it as forgiveness, but unlike the Christians my understanding of "gentleness toward" contains no hint of grace.  And I guess this is because I am godless, so who forgives who, becomes irrelevant. Which is why 'smokiness' is peripheral, at the edge of vision.  That area the motor vehicle department tests in eyesight before granting license to drive.  It's an uncertainty that makes a person turn his head, the better to see and that way reveals his flaw. In "gentleness toward," however there is no reason to turn the head.  A highbrow, you might think, but I'd argue it's much, much older than our two legs and tailless-ness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Egbert, King of Wessex and Dumnonia



    Egbert was the King of Wessex, victorious at the Battle of Ellendun around 825 of the common era.   His victory assured him the loyalty of Sussex and Kent.  He moved North toward the Mercian Kingdom and according to the chronicle he was for a while the "wide ruler" of England.  Which in those days ended on the Scottish border to the North, and ended  on the Welsh Marches to the West.  Cornwall, down there, at the end of the foot that sticks into the Atlantic was called Dumnonia during the Roman time, and I'd guess King Egbert would have recognized it as a part of the world that was pre-Anglo-Saxon, its inhabitants more Celt than they wanted to be Saxon.

    Quite why I am telling you all this, I am not really certain, but during the extended Potlatch and Vacuum Ceremony earlier this day of March third 2013 of the common era, while enduring the emotional struggles of what to throw out, I found a scrap of paper upon which I had written the words "Egbert, King of Wessex? Dumnonii?"   Granted it's been a while since last I was able to reach parts of the room where I sleep, and I should have just thrown the piece of paper into the litter, instead of becoming preoccupied by it.  Currently I suspect it might have had something to do with varieties of Potato, rather than the Anglo-Saxon relationship with Celts.  Nor was I able to throw my Wasps away.  Otherwise I feel just that little bit closer to having to worry about what might happen to my relics after I'm gone.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spring Cleaning


    Disentanglement from that condition of being 'gainfully employed' leaves me wide eyed and wholly content, Squirrel tailed.  The sun, if ever he shows his face again, will be much prettier, he'll wear an apron for purpose  The Mockingbird will regain charm, gather the mass of gentleness, his conferences negotiated, pacts signed with song and dance as yesterday becomes an interlude in the tapestry I will call progress, or dream time.  A positive charge within the great unknown, a happiness.





   One of the understandings however, is much older than you or I.  It comes to us from ancientness and we are still met by it through the course of our own time as though it were new, a young thing, unique and lonely.  Some will call this good and bad, or give it to the palsy of Yin and Yang. Others justify it with theory, or hope, and go so far as to call it love.  But I know this glowing is none of those things, because I have looked at a day where there is no tomorrow.  And I tell you it's better than ice cream. Which means it's time to haul the vacuum, let potlatch loose in the room where I sleep.









Friday, March 1, 2013

Doveliness


    There is domination here where I live.  Always important to anticipate sudden alarm, indignant fluttering and a huge guilt trip before opening a door to the outside.  Otherwise the surprise can be such that it sends the heart of person to racing worse than a visit from a Sheriff  Deputy's Assistant.  There is a pair of Dove, who when not engaged in amorous embrace, will sit in the shelter of the porch daring anyone of us who are clumsy from winglessness to disturb them.
 
    It was for a while endearing.  That sort of warmth that comes from engagement with others.  I guess they call it sociable-ness, being there at the lunch counter, belonging, or some such set of related words designed around the concept of commune. Now we watch them strut along the railing, scratch at the glove box, make gooey eyes at each other, and for my part I'd find it much less vexing  if I maintained a pair of shoes at both doors to the outside.