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READIN started out as a place for me
to keep track of what I am reading, and to learn (slowly, slowly)
how to design a web site.
There has been some mission drift
here and there, but in general that's still what it is. Some of
the main things I write about here are
listening to (and playing) music, and
watching the movies. Also I write about the
work I do with my hands and with my head; and of course about bringing up Sylvia.
The site is a bit of a work in progress. New features will come on-line now and then; and you will occasionally get error messages in place of the blog, for the forseeable future. Cut me some slack, I'm just doing it for fun! And if you see an error message you think I should know about, please drop me a line. READIN source code is PHP and CSS, and available on request, in case you want to see how it works.
Nada sé de ti, oh Ávala, salvo que eres
mi hermano poeta
y que vives
en casa callada
Al departamento frío
by Peter Conlay
Al departamento frío llegamos y salimos otra vez;
de ti no sé nada
salvo de que
eres mi hermana.
by Maximiliano Josner Ávala
Nada sé de ella
salvo que es mi hermana
y es muerta
La encontré a ella en el jardín
pero no hablaba.
by Roberto Bolaño
¿Te divierte que escriba en tercera persona?
¿Te divierte que a veces diga que dentro de 100 años
estaremos completamente solos?
Nada sé de ti salvo que eres mi hermana
En los fríos departamentos junto al barrio gótico
A veces escuchando la lluvia
O haciendo muecas delante del espejo
It was a lot of fun to hear D.T. Max reading from his new biography of DFW at Words Bookstore in Maplewood. I am looking forward to reading it; and in particular I am taken with the title. Max says it is an expression Wallace made use of repeatedly in letters throughout his career, and generally without context. It rings true for me in ways I haven't quite been able to sort out yet. (Max said he was surprised, at each stage of the editorial process, at being able to keep the title he had chosen.)
For example this statement seems like it would make a really good epigraph (mutatis mutandis) for Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet -- a book I finished reading this weekend and which I'm recommending wholeheartedly, by the by -- I wonder if it is some sort of postmodern commonplace. This association of love with absence. Both Rushdie and Wallace I think are very concerned with the irreality of the world about which they are trying to write realistically; and maybe this in a way implies that loving someone (as Maria loves Ormus, as otherworldly Rai loves otherworldly Vina) is a way of escaping into their reality from your own irreality, of becoming a ghost. (And this in turn can be seen as a metaphor for the process of reading the novel and identifying with its characters, coming full circle.)
The irritation I felt at Rai's voice throughout the first part of the novel faded about halfway through (indeed about the time I figured out what was making me feel irritated, I started to feel more sympathy for him) -- and in the last 150 pages or so I really started loving his voice (which changed a bit at that point in the story -- he grew in a way that brought more sincerity into his voice).
A mix tape (is mix tape the right term here? Something like a playlist but including readings and videos as well as music...) (and whew! there is something unfamiliar about blogging in English!): The ordering of the playlist is my own chain of memory (with proddings from others) starting from chapter 7, "More than love", of The ground beneath her feet.
Ormus speaks. I have been liking this novel while being rubbed a little the wrong way by the narrator's voice -- Rai seems a little off to me, a little cynical and annoyingly, smugly verbose. I found quite striking the short piece in the middle of this chapter that shifts into Ormus' voice, and into him quoting his father's voice. His mention of vultures and of Attar, and of Prometheus, got me into a "classical birds" frame of mind. Ormus speaks, read by The Modesto Kid
Attar's poem in Fitzgerald's stellar translation, The Bird Parliament. (This would be an amazing poem for reading out loud -- I tried that earlier and got about a ¼ of the way into it... I may have to upload a recording of this to SoundCloud.)
I'm also put in mind a little of Borges' mysticism, in a way I have not been by this novel so far -- the bits of magic in Rai's narration have been undone by his glibness. Specifically The Theologians I guess, though I don't recall there being birds in that.
Un poema (o tal vez dos poemas, no estoy completamente seguro respecto a la división) por The Modesto Kid. (borredor)
azul es la lluvia que cae todos
sobre mis casas y pueblos y ciudades
entre mis líneas longitudinales
penetra la lluvia
y fluye en arroyos
(y no se congela, no es bastante frío)
en eses charcos podrían suceder asombras y milagros.
Veo ahora al fondo del corredor oscuro
puerta desconocida abriéndose. Afuera
gesticulan los árboles mojados; nos llaman a venir.
Si puedes oír, escucha.
Si puedes escuchar, cavila.
Cavilaré esas cosas de nuevo aprendidas,
ésas las que me has dicho
esas ideas antropógenes
que cazan y se acostan ociosos
sobre la cama que es mi cerebro
mejor que no me detenga
sin nunca entender
por qué me has dado
esas lecciones y
ideas tan extrañas
ideas que a mi mirada la llaman
hacia direcciones no bien conocidas
y que entre si no se pueden en total
hay inconsistencias adentro de esa tela de realidad:
por ejemplo: por qué no aceptarías
el deber lo que adeudes
a Machado y a Saramago
y a la historia entera del verso escrito
te comportes como si fuera la poesía
tu invención propia
(How can you say such a thing?)
(¿Por qué me dices tal cosa? y ¿cómo pudieras tal cosa decir?
Por favor no me falsificar. Amigo.)
Pues bien, reconocemos a la influencia y a la belleza de poetas pasados y los celebramos. Y ¡no de mala gana! Qué va, de ninguna manera. Amamos nuestros maestros y maestras y no tenemos ningún deseo, ellos a rechazar.
Lo todo estoy pensando mientras caigo
mientras caigo tan melifluemente, tan ligera, casi involuntariamente --
Tuviera tiempo para hacer reverencias a los relicarios los que estoy pasando en caer
si fuera un creyente. Soy viajante más bien,
recorro las playas del sol
y las mares de la luna.
I did it! Over the past year or so, and for the first time in my life, I have filled a notebook, a yellow pad, with ideas towards poetry and fiction (much of which I have been revising and posting here) and am moving directly into a new notebook -- what has generally happened in the past is that I would start keeping a notebook and... lose interest over a couple of months' and/or pages' span...
This new notebook (which I bought at the same market in Oaxaca where I bought my favorite shoes ever, highly recommend it) is gorgeous! Hard covers and thick soft, recycled paper allow me to write on facing pages, unlike the yellow pad. So I am starting a project writing a bilingual text, Spanish on the left and English on the right like a parallel translation, but rather than the same text in both languages, it is two separate threads of a narration: The left is poetry by The Modesto Kid, the right is my character Peter's journals during his time translating that poetry. This is the idea I'm working towards anyway, I haven't quite managed yet to get the ideas to cohere properly. I will hopefully be posting drafts of some of this here in the weeks to come (if all goes according to plan...); a beginning is in comments to this post.
Dura menos un hombre que una vela
pero la tierra prefiere su lumbre
para seguir el paso de los astros.
Dura menos que un árbol,
que una piedra,
se anochece ante el viento más leve,
con un soplo se apaga.
Dura menos un pájaro,
que un pez fuera del agua,
casi no tiene tiempo de nacer,
da unas vueltas al sol y se borra
entre las sombras de las horas
hasta que sus huesos en el polvo
se mezclan con el viento,
y sin embargo, cuando parte
siempre deja la tierra más clara. -- Eugenio Montejo