Category Archives: Poetry

Zen Judaism

Repost from the old site.



The first photo above was first published on this blog as part of Stojgniev O’Donnell’s latest piece, My Middle East Solution. Some research on the Internet indicates that the photo of Bush supposedly going to a Talmud Study Class with his Orthodox Jewish former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is apparently a fake.

However, I showed the picture to a graphic artist who works for my company, and he could find no evidence that the photo was a fake. If it was a fake, he said, it was one of the best fakes he had ever seen.

There now seems to be a solution to the puzzle. This blog has received, exclusively, through our connections with Israeli Mossad Intelligence Agency, the original, un-retouched photo of George Bush going to the Talmud Study Meeting with Ari Fleischer. This new photo, straight from the Mossad archives, proves that the original was a fake, since Bush’s long beard and sideburns were removed with a photo-editing program.

I hope this settles the controversy once and for all.

Now, onto Zen Judaism, from The Straight Goods, which bills itself as Canada’s leading online newspaper.

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life.
With the first sip…joy.
With the second…satisfaction.
With the third, peace.
With the fourth, a danish.

Wherever you go, there you are.
Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health or a life without problems.
What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single “Oy.”

There is no escaping karma.
In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited.
And whose fault was that?

Zen is not easy.It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

The Tao does not speak.
The Tao does not blame.
The Tao does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations.
The Tao demands nothing of others.
The Tao is not Jewish.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Forget this, and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
Let your stillness be as the wooded glen.
And sit up straight.
You’ll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Be patient and achieve all things.
Be impatient and achieve all things faster.

To Find the Buddha, look within.
Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.

To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following:
Get rid of the motorcycle.
What were you thinking?

Be aware of your body.
Be aware of your perceptions.
Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

The Torah says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The Buddha says there is no “self.”
So, maybe you are off the hook.

The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings.
Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?

Though only your skin, sinews, and bones remain…
Though your blood and flesh dry up and wither away…
Yet shall you meditate and not stir until you have attained full Enlightenment

2 Comments

Filed under Humor, Judaism, Poetry, Religion, Reposts From The Old Site

Neighborhoods of LA, Gay and Otherwise

The gayest place by far in California is LA! They might as well change the name to LA Gay.

West Hollywood is insanely gay of course, but it’s also a fantastic place to pick up women. You can practically pick them up right off the street if you know what you are doing. The reason is because there are lots of single women there, and they are pretty desperate. Most of the guys are queers, and most of the rest are married. Any remainder are weird Orthodox Jewish guys from Russia with long beards and funny hats.

The areas surrounding West Hollywood like Hollywood proper and Beverly Hills are also quite gay, though most folks in Beverly Hills are straight. Hollywood proper also has many straights along with every type of human known to mankind.

A Hollywood district called Silverlake is incredibly gay. I knew a couple who lived there, and I used to hang out over there. Silverlake is practically gayer than West Hollywood.

Echo Park next door is full of Mexicans.

Los Feliz right next door is also full of gays, but there are lots of other types there. It’s a very wealthy area.

That whole general area is full of desperate single women, mostly young ones. There are plenty of women there, and most are not lesbians. And most of the single guys are queers. The rest are typically married or whatever. So there are way more available single women than single guys, so those neighborhoods are paradise for a single straight man if you don’t mind queers chasing your ass night and day.

The parts of the Valley bordering LA proper are fairly gay. I always thought Studio City was a fairly gay place.

Santa Monica is also pretty gay, but there are lots of other folks living there too.

Venice has some gays, but just about every other kind of freak lives there too.

East LA is full of Mexicans and Hispanics, not queers.

South LA is full of Black people, and it is rapidly filling up with Hispanics.

Koreatown is full of Koreans.

The MacArthur Park District is full of Salvadorans and other Hispanic types. It’s an extremely run-down, degraded and overcrowded area.

There is a large Filipino neighborhood just northwest of downtown. The name escapes me.

There are many Armenians in a town called Glendale northeast of LA near Pasadena.

LA is full of Jews! An area called the Fairfax District is the center, but Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Beverlywood, Beverly Hills, West LA and to a lesser extent Encino and Studio City are insanely Jewish.

Malibu is where the movie and entertainment industry types live, but they also live all throughout the region.

Hollywood writers typically live in West LA, but also live throughout the area. A very large proportion of Hollywood script writers are Jewish.

The movie scene is not particularly gay, nor is the music industry, though looks are deceiving. Many actors are reportedly closeted. I used to go to movie industry parties for the behind the scenes folks (gaffers, storyboard artists, light crew, etc). They throw a great party, and I never saw any gays there. Both the movie and music industry are stacked to the rafters with Jews.

There is a very large theater scene in LA. There are little theatres all throughout Hollywood. I never knew anyone from that scene, but my impression was that the theater crowd was insanely gay. Now why the theater crowd (actors) would be so gay but the movie scene not does not make a lot of sense, except that maybe a lot of movie and TV actors are closeted.

There is also a huge local band scene in Hollywood, mostly heavy metal and punk, etc. This scene is overwhelmingly straight. Some of the big clubs were the Starwood, the Roxy, the Lingerie Club, the Anti-Club and the Whisky.

There is also a pretty big lit/poetry scene in LA. It’s not very gay at all. Just typical neurotic, boozing writer types and nerdy writer chicks.

There is a big art scene in LA. The artists generally live in or hang out in lofts in downtown LA. I was part of that scene for a long time. There were few if any gays in the scene that I was a part of. An artist party is like 300 introverts in a room, everyone scared to talk to each other. It’s pretty easy to get artist girls. Most of them are shy, nerdy types who don’t get laid enough, so they are a bit desperate. Plus once you get one, they’re often horny as Hell to make up for lost time.

Dance Scene

There is also a dance scene in LA. I used to know a woman named Mary Jane Eisenberg who was a big choreographer in town. Smart, cute, skinny, Jewish. She had her hair cut really short, and you know what that means, but I got the impression that she liked men. She was a cool chick; I would love to meet her again. Apparently she is still alive and still working as a choreographer.

I met her at a some wild, rowdy Dennis Cooper poetry reading (Cooper is gay) at some weird club in downtown LA the name of which escapes me.

She was with a couple of her dancers, two guys who were probably some of the best looking young men (about age 30) I have ever seen in my life. They were both apparently gay or bisexual.

They were so good looking and sexy that one almost wanted to turn gay because of them, if only for a while. I thought, “Man, I can see why guys are queer. You get to fuck the best looking people on the planet, just like that. I mean, they’re all guys, but hey! Minor point, no? How many straight guys get to screw the hottest chicks around? If you’re into screwing good looking people and don’t care much about gender, maybe gay is the way to go, eh?”

You could also see how just about any woman on Earth would want these guys. They were that sexy and hot.

Mary Jane asked one of the guys, who looked like Jamie Gillis, “So, what you guys been up to?”

The guy said flamboyantly, waving his hands in the air, “Ohhhhhh you knowwww. Just going to gay baaaars!”

Mary Jane shook her head like, “You’re nuts!”

The other guy heard his friend talking about going to gay bars and kept saying under his breath, “Nooo. Noooo. Nooooo. Noooooo.” Apparently he was denying his queery ways.

Later the same guy leaned over to me and purred, “Soooo, can I buy you a beer?” I told him no thanks and started shaking like a leaf. I was having a nightmare, and I was wide awake. I finished my beer and turned around and threw it into the trashcan, hard, like a punk, and it shattered. Then I sneered. The queer shuddered a bit when the bottle shattered, and then he left me alone.

It was a very weird night!

21 Comments

Filed under Armenians, Art, Blacks, California, Cinema, Culture, Filipinos, Hispanics, Homosexuality, Jews, Koreans, Literature, Music, Poetry, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Sex, Theater, USA, West

One of America’s Finest Poets Is a Black Man

His name is Jay Wright.

Not sure if you are into modern poetry, but Wright is probably among the top 5 or 6 poets in the US right now. He’s an elderly Black man, light-skinned, now poet in residence at Yale University.

Of all of the very many poets writing in America today, Jay Wright is probably among the top 5 or 6. His poems will survive his passing.

There have been quite a few good Black authors. I am a big fan of James Baldwin. Zora Neale Houston is out of this world. And Richard Wright was a very good writer. Samuel Delaney is said to be one of the finest literary sci-fi authors out there, and Octavia Butler is also a superb sci-fi author.

Cornel West is a glorious philosopher, up there with the greats.

If you go to White nationalist forums, as proof of Black intellectual inferiority, they will offer that there are no fine Black authors of the caliber of this or that White author, or there are no Black intellectuals of the caliber of these or those White intellectuals. This is a silly game. These things are so hard to compare. You are comparing the greats with the greats, and where do you begin? IQ tests make an excellent case for intelligence differential between Blacks and Whites.

Comparing the greatest Black and White authors, on the other hand, seems to be a failed exercise. Whatever intellectual and artistic talents it takes to produce a great White writer or thinker, there are sure to be a few Blacks now and then with the cognitive and creative material to match them.

Black people can write and think, at least some of them can. And the best of the Blacks can write and think with the greatest of the greats.

26 Comments

Filed under Blacks, Literature, Poetry, Race/Ethnicity, Racism, White Nationalism

Andre Breton, “Sunflower”

The traveler who crossed Les Halles at summer’s end
Walked on tiptoe
Despair rolled its great handsome lilies across the sky
And in her handbag was my dream that flask of salts
That only God’s godmother had breathed
Torpors unfurled like mist
At the Chien qui Fume
Where pro and con had just entered
They could hardly see the young woman and then only at an angle
Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter
Or with the white curve on black background we call thought
The Innocents’ Ball was in full swing
The Chinese lanterns slowly caught fire in chestnut trees
The shadowless lady knelt on the Pont-au-Change
On Rue Gît-le-Coeur the stamps had changed
The night’s promises had been kept at last
The carrier pigeons and emergency kisses
Merged with the beautiful stranger’s breasts
Jutting beneath the crepe of perfect meanings
A farm prospered in the heart of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way
But no one lived there yet because of the guests
Guests who are known to be more faithful than ghosts
Some like that woman appear to be swimming
And a bit of their substance becomes part of love
She internalizes them
I am the pawn of no sensual power
And yet the cricket singing in the ashen hair
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel
Gave me a knowing look
Andre Breton it said go on

From L’Amour Fou (Mad Love) 1937.

The woman in “Sunflower” is Jacqueline Lamba, an artist who was Breton’s second wife.

Andre Breton, "Automatic Writing," 1938.

The Surrelalists’ political platform, which they attempted to ally with the French Communist Party, was threefold:

1. Dreams
2. Mad love
3. Freedom the color of man

The Communists were not buying it.

Breton was barely allowed to speak at the meeting of the Communist Writers for the Defense of Culture meeting in 1935. He was initially banned, but after Rene Crevel’s suicide, they reluctantly allowed him to speak, but only at midnight after most had left.

A year later, Breton broke decisively with Stalin and aligned himself with the Trotskyites. In 1938, he and Jacqueline spent four months with Trotsky, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Mexico. Trotsky and Breton co-wrote Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art. Two years later, Trotsky was dead, an icepick in his skull.

The War was beginning. By 1941, the Bretons were fleeing internal exile in Marseilles on a ship for New York City, a place he hated. He would have hated anywhere that kept him away from Paris. Within a year, Jacqueline left him, and he fell into depression. Two years later, he met another young woman in a New York cafe.

After the war, he was back in Paris with a new wife, but it was not the old Paris. Many of the old Surrealists had joined a French Communist Party which wanted no part of Breton. Others remained in exile. Still others were in asylums or graves.

The war had taken its toll on everything. Even Breton’s poetry was dying. For the next 20 years, he wrote little while Existentialism, Pop Art and the New Novel supplanted Surrealism. By Fall 1966, he was dead.

He died too soon. Had he lived two more years, he would have seen French students shouting his lines in the streets. Even later, Surrealism had infiltrated the entire modern visual realm.

Andre Breton!

Breton is the founder of Surrealism, a man who frequently dresses entirely in green, smokes a green pipe, drinks a green liqueur and has a sound of knowledge of Freudian psychology.

Time Magazine, reporting on the Surrealist Exhibition at MOMA in New York, 1936.

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Europe, France, Left, Literature, Marxism, Modern, Poetry, Regional

Of Dogs and Men

With apologies to John Steinbeck.

Boatswain

When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown to glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below;
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, the foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master’s own,
Who labors, lives, fights, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth.
While man, vain insect, hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole, exclusive heaven.
Ye! Who behold, perchance, this simple urn,
Pass on; it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones rise,
I have never known but one – and here he lies.

Lord Byron, “Boatswain”

Who says that we have souls and dogs none, anyway? The Bible? What kind of religion is that, then?

7 Comments

Filed under Animals, Dogs, Domestic, Literature, Poetry

Harold Bloom, “The Anxiety of Influence”

A book review of his latest book, very nicely written, from the New York Times, by the editor of the book review section.

Bloom is one of our finest literary critics. He’s defended the “dead White men” Western canon at universities in the face of nutty Third Worldists, feminists, queer theorists and other silly postmodernists. These types are the PC brigade of modern lit. They’re mad because there are not enough queers, lesbians, non-Whites and women in the annals of authors of the Great Books. So they champion often marginal works of literature just because it’s written by some queer, lesbian, Black, American Indian or woman.

It’s part of the New Left PC War on the West. They’re mad at us because we are good.

The problem is that a lot of the best lit was written by dead White men! Deal with it.

Bloom has a webpage up on the Western canon, where he lists great books down through the years, starting with the ancients, going on the Greeks and Romans, then to the Shakespeare era, to the 1700’s and 1800’s, and on to the modern era. Here it is online. It’s great! Great just to read through it and at least familiarize yourself with the great authors. And in the modern era, he does deal with India, the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, the Orient, etc.

Bloom’s always been big on Shakespeare. He considers him to be the greatest author of all time. I agree with Bloom. Shakespeare may be as yet unequaled. He’s also big on T.S. Eliot, and I’m an Eliot fan too. Even if you can’t figure him out, there is something glorious about that deadly and doomed poetry.

One of his curious arguments deals with the trajectory of modern poetry. There’s long been a debate about poetry in the modern era along the lines of a despairing, “There’s nothing ieft to write! All the great poems have been written.” The hidden suggestion is that there is nothing left to do but copy the greats of the past.

Strangely enough, Bloom agrees. He sees all or most poets as copying in one way or another some predecessor. This is like a war in which the new poets, like rebellious sons, fight against the ghosts of the poets of the past, representing their fathers. It is fraught with tension. The best poets are simply better at copying or rewriting the poets of the past. The lesser poets are poor at it, and their plagiarism is obvious, hence they drift down to the forgotten archives.

The critic’s role was to map the geneology of “influence.” That is, to find the ancestor of the poet, hard to do because poets mask their influences so well.

Bloom showed how John Ashberry came from Wallace Stevens, Stevens had come from Walt Whitman, Browning had come from Shelley and Tennyson had come from Keats.

In the chapter, “Milton’s Hamlet” he shows how Milton’s Satan is the offspring of Hamlet.

It does not matter that Satan is an obsessed theist and Hamlet is not.  Two angelic intellects inhabit a common abyss: the post-Enlightenment ever-augmenting inner self, of which Hamlet is a precursor, intervening between Luther and Calvin, and later Descartes and Spinoza.

Nice prose!

2 Comments

Filed under Europeans, Left, Literature, Poetry, Race/Ethnicity, Useless Western Left, Whites

“Drunk and Disorderly: The Joys of Ranterism and Other Topics,” by Jacob Bauthumley

For white English or American readers of this blog, a question.

Who went to church this morning? Go on, own up. Nobody?

Coming home on the bike I passed the Catholic church on the corner of my block (West Earlham). Everyone was of Indian origin, speaking Indian languages! In white Norwich! Not a white Caucasian in sight.

This morning I was up extremely early, and at first light I was worshipping at the church of my allotment, delighting in the alchemy of all life. Yes really! Just enjoying it.

Then, I went scrumping windfall apples, and gathered 150lb of different varieties, which I moved on my bike trailer in an old plastic cistern back to my friend Ruth’s place. I am so knackered now that I have to go back to bed. I’ve been up since 4am, and I’ve had three hours’ sleep. What the hell. Sleep it off, baby. It’s a Sunday!

I rang a friend, a local poet, and he put me in touch with a local cider maker with a press, out in rural Norfolk, in Old Buckenham. My friend John and I plan to turn the apples into ten gallons of cider and sour the cider to make ten gallons of cider vinegar.

Religious views are a very tricky area, aren’t they? The two things you are not supposed to discuss in polite English society are religion and politics. It is clear that I do not have the manners of an Englishman, since I talk about both.

My nom de guerre Abiezer Coppe gives his views on the Christian religion at the end of the piece.

I have been at times an Marxist atheist, an Marxist agnostic, and a Marxist with Christian leanings. In the next phase of my life I shall settle for a Marxist gnosticism, marrying the rational materialist dialectic of Marx, to the otherworldly insights of the Christian Gnostics, starting with Valentinus (3rd Century AD). I am in good company. Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) was also a kind of Marxist gnostic. True, he was a Stalinist, too, but Stalinism is not the main thrust of his remarkable magnum opus on Hope, Das Prinzip Hoffnug, or of his biography of the 15th Century revolutionary peasant leader, Thomas Munzer, which I found in French translation.

Spiritual search: should I give it up entirely? I have tried the Cheshire Cat Buddhists at the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (I swear they all had the same smile) but they gave me the creeps, as every religious group does.

Experiential spirituality is the only type I can connect to: I learned Vipassana meditation once. Ten day silent retreats in Herefordshire, no speaking, no eye contact: it takes a lot to discipline a wild mind. I’ve always been poor, and even the poor can afford it: I gave service instead of cash, and went back and worked in the kitchens on another retreat.

Vipassana was good, and it works, but who wants to spend two hours a day sitting on their arse meditating? It certainly chills you out like nothing else does, the ten day retreat. You come out feeling clean, really clean. A good friend of mine called L–a came on a Herefordshire retreat with me (I drove my totally illegal French taxed, French MOT’d and French insured Citroen BX from Norwich to Herefordshire and back, and around on the roads of the UK for 2 years, and the police never stopped me once). She’d smoked dope and tobacco, and drank alcohol all her life. After the 10 day retreat she just stopped, without even a struggle. No alcohol, no drugs, no tobacco. She just didn’t want them anymore.

Buddha was really onto something, then. Buddhism is a practical spirituality centered on the practice of compassion, and the meditative practices of Buddhism actually renders one more compassionate. It can’t be a bad thing.

I’ve met atheists and Marxists who are – or seem – spiritual, and plenty of Christians who are not. It’s about the being, the beingness of the person, the kind of love they put forth into the world. I’ve met Muslims with a spiritual energy to die for.

Spirituality is? – taking the risk in every moment to be honest, to connect with other beings (it might be a frog, my favourite amphibian) and live and love from my deepest sense of whom I am, from my wild and untamed self. And damn the consequences. It’s difficult. We are English. We are fairly shy. We like dissimulation and subterfuge; it is what, as a nation, we are more comfortable with. At least the chattering classes, the bourgeois, the middle classes. I can only speak for my own class, and I am not Jay Griffiths, though I admire her guts. I am more comfortable with Latins, personally, than the emotionally repressed public school Englishman (I did that. I went to a small private boarding school in Suffolk for six years).

WYSWYG: What You See Is What You Get, in my experience with people of Latin  extraction.

If they don’t like you they come straight out with it. I respect that. In fact, seriously, who would WANT to live any other way once the inner wild being in each of us is brought to light? Who then would settle for the psychic equivalent of suburbia?

Read Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths, to get an idea of what we have lost touch with, our mammalian, our animal nature, our inner wild being. Once we were wild beings, too.

Wild: An Elemental Journey is a magnificent book, and the woman has bags of courage, lots of cojones, as the Spanish say. Maybe we need to “re-wild” ourselves a bit (if a return to barbarism is all that’s in the offing, barring a socialist revolution: Socialism or Barbarism, Rosa Luxemburg), like Jay, sing from the rooftops, dance naked, and masturbate on a rock in the sun, as Jay describes doing in her book: she was doing a bit of Deep Ecology that day, connecting with nature, worshipping the sun and giving her all to the big O. Her account is in the book.

People are rarely so frank. In fact she was intensely lonely, in a wild place, far from human company. The orgasm brought her back to her sense of self, and reconnected her with her surroundings. Orgasm as sacramental act; I like it. Spirituality is not about going to church, it is not about which imaginary friend you have: it’s about love, love and respect for yourself, love and respect for your neighbours too, even the little frogs who come and visit me when I am harvesting vegetables I have grown.

Social revolutions are carnivals of bacchanalia, festivals of the spirit and festivals of the oppressed (Lenin), explosions of creativity and joy (it is not nice being oppressed, is it? It is often fearful, too): or they are boring barracks socialism, and end in Five Year Plans, the Fulfillment of Quotas, the Meeting of Production Targets, and the ruination of nature. And ultimately, a return to capitalism, consumerism, conformity and fear: China now. So revolutionary politics must include this spirit, as it will inspire the people of this land to rise against their oppressors.

Leftist political parties can be hard work emotionally! I didn’t see much joy and revolutionary fun in the 1970’s British Communist Party: it was a bit dour, a bit too serious, and very English. Yet there was also a real warmth among the comrades. We were en route for a better future, or so we thought…And when we stood up at District meetings and sang Jerusalem, by William Blake, it warmed my heart to sing the words of the greatest English gnostic poet, just as singing the Internationale in French to anyone who will listen does now.

Which Communist country kills 600,000 workers a year from overwork, and has a flexible working day of anything between 20 and 35 hours? China, the West’s new slave empire that produces all our electronic goodies. Someone died of exhaustion on a production line somewhere in China making my laptop…that thought does cross my mind (more here on Chinese workers).

I still identify as a Marxist, but as a Marxist Feminist Gnostic, which is totally unacceptable to the comrades! I’ve done the Communist Party (CPGB, PCF), done the Socialist Workers (SWP), but I couldn’t hack it, organised male Marxist politics (yawn…), so these days I work for the Green Party, campaign for them, but I won’t join. I’ve stopped being a joiner.

At least the UK Green Party do not have the one thousand hang-ups about the Soviet Union that the Communists had, and all that bloody coded language… They mean the things they say, too….it’s prefigurative politics, of the type I’ve always believed in. You carry the changes you want to see into your personal life. If you’ve rubbed shoulders with Stalinists for several years, as I have without ever being one of them, you’ll know how refreshing that is.

Where’s the Libertarian Marxist Feminist Gnostic Party?

That’s what I want to know. I haven’t seen one yet. When I do I’ll sign up.

I struggle with the materialist epistemology of Marxism. I have had a go at being a philosophical materialist, read the books (back in the day it was Maurice Cornforth, now completely and deservedly forgotten, and Emile Burns)  but found it kind of miserable…back in the day I read a lot of Marxists. The only ones I could go for were the outliers, the non-conformists like Ernst Bloch, a German Marxist who wrote a thousand page book about dreams, day dreams, hope and the place of utopia in the human imagination (Hope The Principle, 3 vols). Bad Marxists, utopian dreamers. William Morris and his News From Nowhere. Nowhere is where I live – the name of Utopia!

Philosophical materialism, in the forms in which I have encountered it, rules out as nonexistent that which palpably exists!

I have yet to meet a Marxist, for example, who takes homeopathic medicine at all seriously, and I trained as a homeopath, so I know it works!  They parrot the standard line. One would think that a revolutionary would have had a little more insight than that. If I had breast cancer, for example, a homeopath would be my first port of call. See Dr A U Ramakrishnan’s work in that area: consistent success across many types of cancer, with five year follow-ups, and none of the extreme toxicity and immune devastation of chemotherapy.

Mr Abiezer Coppe was, I imagine, a Christian gnostic sans le savoir, and inspired William Blake, who I think knew he wrote in the gnostic tradition (see historian E P Thompson’s last book, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law, which is a brilliant study).

That is why I identify with Blake, too, and especially with The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), a text on the dialectic before Marx and Hegel. It is a lot more fun to read than Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, too!

The English Ranters rejected all forms of spiritual, sexual and religious authority, and insisted that the only church was the human body. They were good chaps, religious anarcho-communists before communism, and more libertarian than Gerard Winstanley’s more puritanical Diggers, the only other Commies on the block at the time.

The Ranters had a endearing habit of preaching naked (if their enemies are to be believed) in the open air, on heaths, and drinking ale and fornicating at religious meetings. Very endearing. The Ranters did not believe in sin. Ranter women are said to have looked for sin in men’s codpieces, and on being unable to find any, declared there was none. That’s a kind of healthy materialism I like. So they didn’t believe in that superstitious shit the Church teaches, either, the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, or the sexual perversions resulting from the Christian, especially Catholic, strictures on the priesthood.

The Ranters were not feminists, but you can’t have everything, and in any case, who was a feminist in 1650? Ranters believed everything should be held in common, including women; they weren’t keen on the legal union of marriage and, I guess, just as in the 1960s, these 17th Century anarcho-hippie Ranter men enjoyed their sexual revolution and their sexual libertarianism while Ranter women got pregnant, had the babies, and were left holding them on the heaths of England, bereft of the men who had sired them. Maybe the Ranter males were indeed “only around for the conception”. Nothing new there, then!

So much for sexual liberation in 1650s England. Did they know about satisfying a woman in bed?

Funnily enough a feminist historian (Alison Smith) of early modern England told me that that there was a generally held view at the time that if a woman did not have an orgasm during sex with a man, then she could not conceive. So, in the beliefs of the time, no female orgasms equaled no babies…Quite progressive really, but did condoms exist then? I doubt it – condoms came in later…18th century, I think. Any condom historians here?

English Ranterism and the Digger movement represented a political dead end. With the Cromwellian Thermidor of the English Revolution after 1649, and the general persecution and ostracism of the Ranters, a lot of them recanted their beliefs, including Abiezer Coppe, stopped railing against the rich (one of their specialties!) and settled down to become Seekers, or Quakers (who are very much in the Gnostic lineage – no priests, no service, no dogmas, no crap, just the Inner Light of Not-God, etc…) or even Muggletonians…see E P Thompson’s book on William Blake (1993) for more. He interviewed the last surviving English Muggletonian. How about that?

More on the Ranters below:

Discussion of the Ranter historical context, and Ranter views.

– Extracts from the writings of Abiezer Coppe

My comments, writing as Abiezer Coppe, on Christianity and gnosticism:

27 Comments

Filed under Abiezer Coppe, Asia, Britain, Buddhism, China, Christian, English, Europe, European, Europeans, Feminism, Gender Studies, Guest Posts, Health, Heterosexuality, History, Illness, Left, Literature, Marxism, Medicine, Philosophy, Poetry, Politics, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Religion, Sex, USSR

Virgilio Giotti, Triestine Venetian Poet

Repost from the old site.

Let’s take a look again at Triestine Venetian.

Virgilio Giotti was a famous poet who wrote in Triestine Venetian. He was born in 1885 in Trieste, a child of Riccardo Schonbeck and Emilia Ghiotto. He died in Trieste in 1957. He is considered to be the most important Triestine Venetian author. For this, he was honored in 1957 by the Accademia dei Lincei.

Highly-regarded critics such Mario Fubini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gianfranco Contini, Cesare Segre and Franco Brevini enthusiastically described Virgilio Giotti as one of the most important Italian writers in Italian “dialects” of the 1900’s.

From 1907 to 1919 he lived in Firenze. In 1912, he met Nina Schekotoff, a Russian from Moscow, the only woman he ever loved. In Tuscany, she bore him three children – Natalia, (Tanda), Paolo and Franco. Sons Paolo and Franco both died in Russia during World War 2.

Giotti first book was Piccolo Canzoniere in Dialetto Triestino, published in Florence in 1914.

He became famous in 1937, when the great critic Pietro Pancrazi, in a review in Corriere Della Sera pointed out the anti-dialectal character of Giotti: his poetry was described as écriture d’artiste (literary writing) or patois de l’ame (the language of love).

Pancrazi described Giotti as a poet who wrote mainly in dialect, but he differed from the usual poetry of Italian “dialects” that was often folkloric, standardized, generic, etc.

Giotti spoke Tuscan Italian as his principal language, and he considered Triestine Venetian as “the language of the poetry” only – that it only had a literary and cultural value, but was not useful beyond that.

Giotti’s Triestine Venetian lexicon was impoverished and full of simple words, with only a very sparse use of idioms. Giotti’s Trieste was far from the Trieste of Svevo, Saba and other writers: there’s no Port wine, no psychoanalysis and no Mitteleuropa.

Giotti’s world is one of sensations, little places, family and friends, the arcana of quotidian existence. He was a romantic poet of everyday life.

Let’s look at one of Giotti’s poems, With Bolàffio, in classic Triestine Venetian, then in modern Triestine Venetian, then in an Italian translation by Antonio Guerra (Italian language link) or Tonino Guerra (a famous Italian screenwriter), (Italian language link) and finally I will try to translate it into literary English.

If you think you can do a better job of translating this into nice poetic English, even a line or two, give it a shot. This translation stuff is kind of fun!

Con Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

Classic Triestine Venetian

Mi e Bolàffio, de fazza
un de l’altro, col bianco tavoja

de la tovàia in mezo,
su i goti e el fiasco in fianco,
parlemo insieme.

Bolàffio de ‘na piazza
de Gorìzia el me conta,

ch’el voria piturarla:
‘na granda piazza sconta,

che nissun passa.

Do tre casete atorno
rosa, un fiatin de muro,
un pissador de fero
vècio stravècio, e el scuro
de do alboroni.

Xe squasi mezogiorno
E un omo, vignù fora
de là, se giusta pian
pian, e el se incanta sora
pensier. Bolàffio

in ‘sta su piazza bela,
noi, poeti e pitori,
stemo ben. La xe fata
pròpio pai nostri cuori,
caro Bolàffio.

In quel bel sol, in quela
pase, se ga incontrado
i nostri veci cuori;
là i se ga saludado
stassera alegri.

Con Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

Modern Triestine Venetian

Mi e Bolàffio, de muso
un co’ l’altro, col bianco tavoja

dela tovaia in mezo,
su i calici e il fiasco de fianco
parlemo insieme.

Bolaffio, de ‘na piazza
de Gorizia il me conta

ch’el voleria piturarla
‘na grande piazza sconta

che nessun passa

Do tre casete atorno
rosa, un fiatin de muro
un pisador de fero
vecio stravecio, e il scuro
de do alberoni

Xe quasi mezogiorno
E un omo, vignù fora
de là, se giusta pian
pian, e il se incanta sora
pensier. Bolàffio

in ‘sta sua piaza bela
noi, poeti e pìtori
stemo ben. La xe fata
proprio pei nostri cuori
caro Bolaffio

In quel bel sol, in quela
pase, se ga incontrado
i nostri veci cuori;
là i se ga saludado
stasera alegri

Con Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

Italian translation by Antonia Guerra

Io e Bolaffio, l’uno
di fronte all’altro, col bianco
della tovaglia in mezzo,
i bicchieri alzati e accanto il fiasco,
parliamo insieme.

Bolaffio mi racconta di una piazza
di Gorizia, che vorrebbe dipingerla:
una grande piazza nascosta,
dove nessuno passa.

Due tre casette intorno,
rosa, un poco di muro,
un pisciatoio di ferro,
vecchio stravecchio, e lo scuro
di due alberoni.

È quasi mezzogiorno.

E un uomo, venuto fuori di lì,
si mette a posto pian piano,
s’incanta sopra pensiero. Bolaffio,
in questa sua piazza bella,
noi, poeti e pittori, stiamo bene.

È fatta proprio per i nostri cuori,
caro Bolaffio.

In quel bel sole, in quella pace,
si sono incontrati i nostri vecchi cuori;
là si sono salutati stasera, allegri.

With Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

English translation by Robert Lindsay

Bolaffio and I, face
To face, sitting down
At a table dressed in white

In the middle
Picking up the wineglasses and a bottle nearby
Together we’re talking

Bolaffio is telling me
He would like to draw

A picture of a square in Gorizia
It’s a big hidden square

Nobody is walking through

2 or 3 small houses around
Rose-colored, a small wall
An iron pissoir*
Very old, and the dark shadows
From a couple of trees

It’s around noon
And a man came out
Of that pissoir
Slowly, he buttons up his pants
And he stops himself
No thoughts in his head
Bolaffio

In his nice square
We, painters and poets
We feel good here
It was created just for our hearts
Dear Bolaffio

In this nice sunshine, In this
Peace, our old hearts
Have met each other
And tonight
They’re enjoying each other

*pissing place= Vespasiano, where to piss

My friend Paolo describes Giotti’s language as the old “Modern” Triestine Venetian.

1 Comment

Filed under Europe, Italian, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Italy, Language Families, Language Samples, Linguistics, Literature, Poetry, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, Romance, Venetian

Will Shakespeare Ever Be Equalled?

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was not yet surpassed 150 years ago. Doubt if much has changed since. In glorious prose the likes of which we don’t see much anymore, Emerson lays out precisely what the contenders are up against:

Shakespeare is as much out of the category of eminent authors, as he is out of the crowd. He is inconceivably wise; the others, conceivably. A good reader can, in a sort, nestle into Plato’s brain, and think from thence, but not into Shakespeare’s. We are still out of doors. For executive faculty, for creation, Shakespeare is unique. No man can imagine it better. He was the farthest reach of subtlety compatible with an individual self – the subtlest of authors, and only just within the possibility of authorship.

With this wisdom of life, is the equal endowment of imaginative and of lyric power. He clothed the creatures of his legend with form and sentiments, as if they were people who had lived under his roof; and few real men have left such distinct characters as these fictions. And they spoke in language as sweet as it was fit.

Yet his talents never seduced him into an ostentation, nor did he harp on one string. An omnipresent humanity coordinates all his faculties.

Give a man of talents a story to tell, and his partiality will presently appear. He has certain observations, opinions, topics, which have some accidental prominence, and which he disposes all to exhibit. He crams this part, and starves that other part, consulting not the fitness of the thing, but his fitness and strength.

But Shakespeare has no peculiarity, no importunate topic; but all is duly given; no veins, no curiosities; no cow-painter, no bird-fancier, no mannerist is he: he has no discoverable egotism: the great he tells greatly; the small, subordinately. He is wise without emphasis or assertion; he is strong, as nature is strong, who lifts the land into mountain slopes without effort, and by the same rule as she floats a bubble in the air, and likes as well to do the one as the other.

This makes that equality of power in farce, tragedy, narrative, and love-songs; a merit so incessant, that each reader is incredulous of the perception of other readers.

Whoa! That’s some kickass prose. I didn’t know Emerson could write like that.

He’s right. Shakespeare’s in another world altogether. There’s Shakespeare, and then there’s everyone else.

References

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 1850. Representative Men. Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Co.

5 Comments

Filed under Literature, Poetry, Theater, Writing

Writing Is Like Music, Cinema, Painting or Photography

I recently complemented a commenter on the site by telling him he’s a genius. By that, I mean he’s a great writer. He’s also a fine thinker, but the two go together. We have lots of fine thinkers on the board, but not all are great writers too. He’s Korean, and Koreans don’t seem to write English spectacularly. I don’t know why, but they are better in visuospatial than in verbal IQ:

Thanks. I found one of the secrets to writing that is engaging is having a musical awareness. Walk down a street and run a tune through your head. Preferably one that you made up. Then just play with it. Volume, pacing, accelerate, decelerate. And volume is key. Change in volume completely changes the tune. Try it. Try Beethoven’s 5th bahm, bahm, bahm, baaahmm.

Quietly. Done quietly it’s nothing. LOL. So here’s the dramatic conclusion to why Koreans don’t write spectacularly. They are raised to be quiet. It shows in their writing.

And we are not even getting into poetry yet. Sure the best poetry is musical, always has been. That’s why it’s so hard to translate. But so is the best prose. We are talking strictly prose here. How do you translate Finnegans Wake into any language other than English? Where do you even begin?

So when you write, your prose is music. Well, it should be, if your aim is artistic. Or at least that’s one way to write

Of course, the best prose is both music and even visual art like painting. I don’t know if it’s cinematic. And the best prose sings like poetry too. It’s all about the rhythm.

I write musically too, and I also write cinematically or like paintings. I get little pictures in my mind when I writing. They just pop up. Then I look for words to describe the paintings or scenes. Sometimes they are pictures like storyboards for a movie or just a painting or picture or frameshot or photo or other visual image. In other cases, it’s like a scene from a movie. Then I search around for the words to describe the scene I just saw in my mind.

When I was 22, a could of friends read my fiction and said it was like Joyce, “painting pictures with words.” My junior college journalism teacher threw me off the paper for “hallucinating with words.”

36 Comments

Filed under Art, Cinema, Literature, Music, Photography, Poetry, Writing