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Happy together (Sept. 8, 2001)

READIN

Jeremy's journal

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

— William Blake


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Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Practicing

John came over today; we played almost exclusively new songs, songs that we've played at most once or twice before, plus the two songs we'll be playing on Thursday at the open mic. Before he came over, I had been working on a tune that was in my head, without being able to figure out what it was -- turns out what I was thinking of was the chorus of "Frim Fram Sauce"; but not knowing that we just played through it together a couple of times, and came up with a bridge. Might be nice to learn the lyrics and try that one out. Other songs we played:

"Frim Fram Sauce" below the fold.

posted evening of June 29th, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about Jamming with friends

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Dead and Gospel

were the de facto theme of tonight's jam with Bob, Janis and Greg. Two songs I had been thinking about this afternoon before I went over there, were They're Red Hot (by Robert Johnson but I'm not sure precisely whose version I am thinking about -- don't think the Dead ever played this song) and "Simple Gifts", a Shaker hymn. As it turned out we tried a couple of verses of "They're Red Hot" and decided to try it again after listening to it more, and Janis and me played a few verses of "Simple Gifts". The playlist:

  • "The Deal" started us off with a Grateful Dead sound -- after that we tried "Simple Gifts" and entirely too-slow-if-one-does-not-have-an-organ performance of "Amazing Grace", then back to the Dead/New Riders to speed things up a little.
  • "Panama Red"
  • "Glendale Train"
  • "Rollin' in my Sweet Baby's Arms"
  • "Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz" -- I sang this, but I do not really have the range needed.
  • "They're Red Hot"
  • "Summertime" -- this was great, slow with lots of solos...
  • "Harder They Come" -- I never played this before, it was a lot of fun.
  • A few false starts in a row, including "I Shall Be Released"*, "Red Rubber Ball", "My Baby Wrote me a Letter" and "Whiskey Bar"
  • "C'est la Vie"

* It would be more than worthwhile to learn "Harder They Come" and "I Shall Be Released", so that we could jam from one into the other -- these two songs go together really nicely.

posted evening of June 27th, 2010: Respond
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Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Crossover

In the interest of drawing connections between unrelated texts... This passage from "Unworthy":

La imagen que tenemos de la ciudad siempre es algo acrónica. El café ha degenerado en bar; el zaguán que nos dejaba entrever los patios y la parra es ahora un borroso corredor con un ascensor en el fondo. The image which one holds of one's city is always a little anacronistic. This café has deteriorated into a bar; that hallway, the one through which we could make out the patio and the garden, is now a faded corridor with an elevator at the far end.
deserves to be read in conjunction with this song:
(and well also, the song deserves to be listened to in conjunction with that passage -- they magnify one another, is what I mean.)

Another useful point of reference for this passage, and for this song, is the beginning of "The aleph":

La candente mañana de febrero en que Beatriz Viterbo murió ..., noté que las carteleras de fierro de la Plaza Constitución habían renovado no sé qué aviso de cigarrillos rubios; el hecho me dolió, pues comprendí que el incesante y vasto universo ya se apartaba de ella y que ese cambio era el primero de una serie infinita. On the hot February morning when Beatriz Viterbo died ..., I noticed that the iron billboards in Plaza Constitución had been cleared of their advertisement for blonde cigarettes (or whatever it had been)... The matter caused me some pain, when I understood that the vast, incessant universe was detaching itself from her memory; this change would be the first in an infinite series.

posted afternoon of June 26th, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about Brodie's Report

Labyrinthine

Esa obra era un escándolo, porque la confusión y la maravilla son operaciónes propias de Dios y no de los hombres.This work [the building of a labyrinth in Babylon] caused outrage; for chaos and miracles are acts proper to God, not to mortals.
-- "The two kings and the two labyrinths",
which Borges attributes to an inauthentic edition of the 1001 Nights.
In the foreword to Brodie's Report, Borges claims to be attempting ("I don't know how successfully") the composition of direct narratives, stories which do not mislead -- the implicit counterpart being that his previous volumes of stories have been labyrinths, mazes for the reader to lose himself in. (He draws a parallel to Kipling's work which I don't fully understand, need to look into that a bit more.) This is an interesting claim and I think it bears some thinking about...

One way of treating this foreword is as itself a clever bit of misdirection. I have only read Brodie's Report once, in the course of reading Collected Fictions this Spring, did not blog about it at all; my impression was that the stories in this volume would be, after I read them some more and got comfortable with them, my very favorite of Borges' stories, and that while there was a good deal of potential for the reader to get lost in the mazes of these stories, one would need to pull in the themes and storylines of his earlier fictions to make that happen -- that the stories appeared to be straightforward narrative but contained secondary levels in which the path of plot was not as obvious. I'm embarking on a second read now, to try and confirm some of this and to see how they hold up on rereading. Here is some beautiful prose from the foreword:

He intentado, no sé con qué fortuna, la redacción de cuentos directos. No me atrevo a afirmar que son sencillos; no hay en la tierra una sola página, una sola palabra que lo sea, ya que todas postulan el universo, cuyo más notorio atributo es la complejidad. Sólo quiero aclarar que no soy, ni he sido jamas, lo que antes se llamaba un fabulista o un predicador de parábolas y ahora un escritor comprometido. No aspiro a ser Esopo. I have made an attempt, I don't know how successfully, at the composition of direct narratives. I am not claiming that they are simple; there is not a single page on earth -- a single word -- that is simple; for every word must assume the entire universe, whose most noteworthy attribute is complexity.* I would only like to clarify that I am not -- I have never been -- what was once called a fabulist, a preacher of parables, what is now called an "engaged" author. I have no desire to be Æsop.

*In this regard, see also "Scripture".


Reading further, he is talking about his political beliefs in a slightly combative way, or perhaps in a resigned tone with a bit of self-justification about it. He says, his writing does not contain his personal political views -- except for once, in the case of the Six Days War -- this almost sounds like a response to (or an anticipation of) people who think he was denied a Nobel prize which he deserved, on the basis of being considered too conservative. The Six Days War thing would be useful to read up on... not finding quickly what writing he's got in mind, though I see a reference to it in this Martín Zubieta piece at leedor.com.

posted morning of June 26th, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about Jorge Luis Borges

Oblivion

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Paul Greenberg has a riveting examination of the impending end of commercial bluefin tuna fisheries (and perhaps of the wild species). Really well-researched, compelling reading -- also includes an overview of the history of commercial fishing, and of the history of sushi as a cuisine, and refreshingly upbeat look at kahala farming in Hawaiʻi... a lot of material but I do not get the impression Greenberg is scanting any of it.

posted morning of June 26th, 2010: 2 responses

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Road trip

Cine adicción: Justo y Malacara

I wanted to recommend this film, I don't have much to say about it besides that it is light-hearted and sentimental, and a lot of fun. It's Historias mínimas, an Argentine film (d. Carlos Sorin) with a couple of independent stories cleverly interwoven, three people making their way from Fitz Roy to San Julián. Trailer here. Breathtaking Patagonian landscapes and visuals in general.

posted evening of June 24th, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about The Movies

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

The author speaks

"I believe the best thing is for an author to intervene as little as possible in his work."
Well this is an exciting find: a lecture by Borges with the stated subject, "Concerning My Stories." I've been reading his stories, and some of his essays and lectures as well, but him talking about writing his stories is a new one for me! New and welcome.

Unfortunately none of the sites where I'm finding this lecture have any information about its provenance.* It's definitely from the late '70's or early '80's (because of which stories he talks about), and I'm guessing it was given in Argentina. Don't know what book it was published in, or if it has appeared in translation -- it is not in Selected Non-Fictions.

He discusses four stories: "The Zahir," "The Book of Sand," "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" -- he describes these three as variations on a single theme, which seems to me to be stretching it, though I can certainly see the similarities between the first two -- and "The Weary Man's Utopia," which I was surprised at because it had made so little impression on me when I read it** -- I had to scratch my head for a while to even remember what he was talking about. He calls The Book of Sand "my greatest book, if I may speak of greatest books." (I will need to go back to The Book of Sand -- it does not seem to me like his greatest book, but I have only read it once, and at the tail end of reading all his other works.)

I found the talk about composing "The Zahir" the most interesting -- he starts out with just a word, "unforgettable," and imagines what it might mean if it were used in a literal sense. Progresses from there to talking about choosing a coin as the unforgettable object, about obsession, about Poe and Lenore, about love and God and insanity.

* I am also seeing the same piece under the title "The Short Story and I", again with no information about provenance. ...But, aha! Here it is published in Los escritores y la creación en Hispanoamérica, with the following note:

Jorge Luis Borges, "Borges Tells How He Creates His Stories". ...Lecture published in 1978 in the magazine Quimera, #103-104. Transcribed by Amérigo Cristófalo.

** And when he is talking about "The Weary Man's Utopia" he makes reference to a Coleridge line which sounded very familiar as I was reading it -- turns out, it is the line which Pamuk used as his epigraph to The Museum of Innocence.

posted evening of June 23rd, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Notebooks

On my birthday last month, the Saramago Foundation started updating the man's blog a few times a week with quotations from his work, from his books and his articles and his speeches. I'm not sure how I feel about this -- the entries are worth reading and it's nice to be introduced to some of his work that I didn't know about (and it did seem like a nice birthday present), while OTOH I had been identifying the blog (naturally) closely with him, and it's unsettling for him to be in the ground and the blog to continue. They have retitled it Saramago's Other Notebooks, which could help in identifying it as a new blog.

Today's entry comes from The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis:

Palabra

La palabra es lo mejor que se puede encontrar, la tentativa siempre frustrada para expresar eso a lo que, por medio de palabra, llamamos pensamiento.

The Word

The word is the greatest thing you will ever meet, the always frustrated effort to express that which, by means of the word, we call thought. [Vastly improved translation contributed by Rick in comments]

(Speaking of notebooks, I have ordered a copy of the Lanzarote Notebooks and am looking forward to reading it! though it will be my first posthumous Saramago...)

posted evening of June 22nd, 2010: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Saramago's Notebook

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Storefront Cats

Listen to DEVO's new record with some cool cats:

Update: Wow -- this is a really, really good album. I'm not sure what I was expecting from a first-record-in-20-years... whatever I was expecting, this exceeds it many times over. The cats are a nice touch too.

posted afternoon of June 21st, 2010: Respond

Longest day, shortest night

Happy Solstice to all of my pagan readers (Hi Randolph! Hi Kier!) and to all other people who find that the cycle of the seasons affects their life.

posted afternoon of June 21st, 2010: 2 responses

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