Wednesday, October 31st, 2007
We do not understand speech, because speech does not understand itself, nor wish to; the true Sanskrit* would speak in order to speak, because speech is its delight and essence.
This line is from Novalis' The Novices of Sais, newly reprinted in a translation by Ralph Manheim. (Thanks to Conrad and Forrest, for pointing it out to me.) It strikes me as so similar to Fritz' speech to Karoline about Language, that I think Fitzgerald must have used it as source material. (It is also, I think, quintessentially stoner.)
Another great line from The Novices of Sais, from the chapter titled "Nature":
It must have been a long time before men thought of giving a common name to the manifold objects of their senses, and of placing themselves in opposition to them.
It suddenly occurs to me that "manifold" might be a good translation of vielgestaltete in the first paragraph of Hymns to Night.
*This word is kind of bugging me, because when I read it I see the name of a language, not a type of philosophy. My suspicion is that Novalis intends it to mean "mystic", so I am making that substitution when I read.
I always have thought of Moominpappa's Memoirs as the least interesting book in the series, worth reading only for the sake of completeness. But I have been reading it to Sylvia, at her request, for the past week or so; and this time around I am getting a fuller picture of it -- it is not just Moominpappa's boastful relation of his exploits, but rather his telling to Moomintroll (and Sniff, and Snufkin). There is a level of irony and distance that I wasn't really noticing before -- what I mean is, it was clear (in my previous reading) that Moominpappa was making a lot of stuff up to make himself look important -- that is an obvious part of the joke that's going on. But I thought that was the whole joke, and it's a kind of limited and corny one. Now I am picking up on the fact that Moominpappa is himself in on the joke and that he's winking at his audience -- this seems much more interesting to me than if it's just Jansson winking at me.
Also: Sylvia says of the two Jansson picture books (Moomin, Mymble, and Little My and Who Will Comfort Toffle?) that "one is funny and one is serious", and that she prefers the funny one. (I kind of have to agree, though Toffle is pretty charming too.)
On LanguageHat's Happy Birthday Ez thread, commenter bertil links to an archive of Pound reading his own poetry. Good deal.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
Lots of new photos in the Family Album today, mostly of and/or by Sylvia.
Sunday, October 28th, 2007
Spring cleaning, though it wasn't really Spring,
Was the Hemulen's favorite thing
--The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My
So Ellen comes home, sees the new arrangement in the living room, likes it, and views it as an opportunity to move everything else around too! Well I'm fine with that, indeed it was part of the plan; hadn't necessarily anticipated doing it all right now, but: the living room looks very nice now, with the fresh arrangement of furniture.
And somehow that led to the thought that it was time for a little autumnal cleaning -- I got out the ladder and took dust and cobwebs off all (well most of) our window moldings, door moldings, and (where it was really egregious) ceiling moldings. And with the pile of stuff moved under which my coffee table has been living in benign neglect, it seemed like a good idea to give its top, sticky in spots, a good scrub... half an hour later, it looks like oak again,* at least in part... cleaning out the corners of the sunburst in the middle of the table top was particularly interesting.
The newly set-up stereo is serving as a good opportunity to listen to records I haven't heard or thought of in a while -- our cleaning music was Jackson Browne, Running on Empty, which I was not even aware we owned.
*Hmm, well like discolored, scraped oak anyway. This may take sandpaper and a whole new coat of finish before I'm done with it.
When we moved into this house 5 years ago, I set up my stereo temporarily on the floor in a corner of the living room. And there it has been these 5 years, until yesterday when in a fit of organizing, I moved it into a more permanent-seeming location, on a wire rack in the next room, which I am currently thinking of as the "music room" (before it was the "play room", but Sylvia is doing most of her playing these days in her own room).
The problem had always been my perceived lack of a suitable shelf. But Friday night while I was turning over various stuff in my mind, I realized that the wire rack in the garage would be just right. So yesterday morning, I sponged the cobwebs off it, brought it inside, and moved everything around. Well: my records have a home now, on a shelf where you can thumb through them instead of stacked on the floor! You don't have to crouch down to put in a CD or record! I threw out my non-working cassette player! And best of all, the sound is much, much clearer with the speakers off the ground.
Spent last night with Bob, listening to old Robyn Hitchcock and older Pink Floyd. (Bob, a longtime Floyd fan, had never heard of Piper at the Gates of Dawn or indeed even known there were any records before Atom Heart Mother -- it was a privilege to introduce him to Syd Barrett's music.)
Saturday, October 27th, 2007
A link to Sybil Archibald's blog about her art and the art scene in New Jersey.
My favorite thing about I Wanna Go Backwards, on first listening, may be the inclusion of "All I wanna do is fall in love" as a bonus track on Black Snake Dîamond Röle. I was not aware of that song before this afternoon but it is now one of my favorite Hitchcock songs. So I was glad to hear it -- all of that record was really nice to hear again, as was Eye (except I remembered how "Queen Elvis" kind of turned me off to that record -- but the good tracks more than make up for that). Also I was happy to see some key tracks from Eaten By Her Own Dinner on the bonus material for BSDR -- including the majestically weird "Happy the Golden Prince". ("So that's who I am!") The record of unreleased demo tapes, While Thatcher Mauled Britain (fantastic title), is going to take a few more listenings before I decide how worthwhile it is to me; most of the versions of songs I knew did not seem as good as the album versions, and I didn't listen that closely to the songs I did not know from elsewhere.
But seriously, "All I wanna do is fall in love", what a magnificent song. Other extremely good things about listening to this collection: "Executioner", and multiple versions of "Raining Twilight Coast"....also: remember how I said that "She Doesn't Exist" doesn't do bitter as well as "Positively 4th Street"? "Nowhere Girl" is not aiming for quite the same thing as "4th Street" -- but it sure is bitter, and it sure is a fantastic song.
This recipe is way better than I could expect it to be based on the amount of effort I put into making it. Specifically the ratio is Extremely good/Minimal effort.
Bacon and Parsnip Soup
- 2 or 3 yellow onions.
- Several strips of bacon
- A couple of cloves of garlic
- a head of flat leaf parsley chopped roughly
- 1 head fennel
- A half-pound or pound of parsnips
Sweat the lightly salted chopped vegetables in the bacon, over low heat, for about 45 minutes. You could also add a bit of spice at this stage -- I used about a teaspoon of fennel seed, allspice or coriander might be good too. Add enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer uncovered for an hour and a half or longer. You may need to add more stock (or water, or white wine) while the soup is cooking. If you want to make the effort, it would not hurt to skim off some of the foam that will develop at the top of the soup after it has cooked an hour or so -- I did not, just mixed it back in, and the result tasted great -- the soup has a strong enough, rich enough flavor that the bitterness of that foam does not impact the overall taste of it much.
Update: Leftovers are also very good, though not quite in the league of the first serving.
Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.