4th blog anniversary

Back on 29 January 2005 …the thoughts are broken… debuted. That link now goes to the 1st post of this blog since I migrated to WordPress in July 2006.

Wow! Four years already. I haven’t been doing much here since about the middle of last year and I’d like to get back to it. But. I have more important things (to me) going on in my life nowadays.

#1 is the love of my life. She found me in an alley and my life will never be the same. Thankfully.

Other things keeping me quiet: my job, complexity of the issues in my area, issues of communication, lots of reading, reading & writing poetry, trying to learn more broadly from others, and other things.

I am still participating in the larger conversation, though, just not so much here. I am reading and commenting on blogs and am fairly active in FriendFeed.

Another thing keeping me rather quiet and introspective is the major birthday I have coming up in a few weeks. But that is only (somewhat) responsible for the current quietude.

According to Walt, my blog had 47% less posts in 2008 vs. 2007, and -12% words per post. If those time slices had been a quarter or two later in the year then the decrease would be far more dramatics. Oh well. The issues have been touched on a couple times in the few posts I’ve made since August or so.

No idea what the future holds for this blog, or for me. But for the 1st time in a long time I have serious hopes for, and am actually actively looking forward to, the latter. And that is the biggest thing keeping me quiet here. And I am perfectly OK with that.

I would like to say “Thank you!” to those still around and reading and to those all over the past 4 years who have read, commented, encouraged and challenged me. Thank you!

(Personal) Change

(Personal) Change

Some say that the zebra cannot change his stripes.
Some say that everything is change.
Some say “But, Baby, I’m willing to change ….”

The best change is not that which one thinks is impossible,
Nor that which is inevitable.
It is not even that which one desires.

The best change is that which you notice in hindsight.
In the presence of someone else you were allowed to be.
Different. Better.

It took no work; required no thought.
It was natural.
The change just was.

You know that this is how you were meant to be,
But knew not how to be this;
Nonetheless, you look back and find your being changed.

This is the best kind of change.


11 January 2009 by mrl

Books read in the 2nd half of 2008

For assorted reasons my book reading greatly increased this past year. Based on that I split this list into two, posting the 1st half (or so) on 11 August in a post titled Books read in 1st half of 2008 (and some).

In the earlier post, I reported reading 26 books and re-reading 3 books. This list includes 45 books read, one re-read (also in the 45), and 4 unfinished. I think there are 2 in the read count that weren’t technically finished but close enough. The four unfinished are: Williams, et al.; Black; Crawford; and Berry. All but the Williams, et al. are currently being read.

Thus, totals for the year are:

  • 71 books read
  • 4 books re-read
  • 4 books unfinished

Books Read in 2007 [33 books read, 3 of which were re-reads, and 9 books in progress]

Wow! This is a big increase. Not as big in magnitude as 2006 to 2007, but bigger in raw numbers by far.

As to why I censored myself please see this post or this one which contains the real explanation.

The rest of 2008s book reading follows: [those not in 1st post]

early-June – mid-August (perhaps)

Joannides, Paul., and Daerick Gross. 2007. The Guide to Getting It On! : for Adults of All Ages. 5th ed. [Waldport], Or: Goofy Foot Press.

Read most of this—so counting it as finished—except for a couple of chapters that are directly non-relevant to me.

Highly recommended; highly affordable; and there’s a brand-new 2009 edition out.

11 – 30 August

Harris, Roy. 1996. Signs, Language, and Communication: Integrational and Segregational Approaches. London: Routledge.

I actually read the Preface thru ch. 2 on 10 Mar, and re-read those parts again in May. Then I started over from the beginning in Aug.

This is a good book. It presents a pretty good introduction to Integrationism, but there are many newer works by Harris, and it is one of his longer works. All in all, though, it probably presents the most comprehensive intro to Integrationism. Bought my own copy, to say the least.

…, the question often asked is: ‘But what other theoretical basis is there for the study of communication?’ To that question this book tries to suggest an answer. It is written from the viewpoint of a hypothetical theorist (‘the integrationist’) who, although very sceptical of what passes for the study of communication in modern academic circles, does not (yet) consider it a lost cause.

What the integrationist seeks is an explanatory account of communication which will accord with our lay understanding of human existence but does not prejudge fundamental questions about how and why human beings communicate.

The integrationist’s hypothetical opponent is ‘the segregationist’. Why the term segregationist? Because for this theorist semiological knowledge and knowledge of the world are two segregated domains. … For the integrationist, on the other hand, these are not two domains at all but a single integrated domain, and its separation into two is already a questionable theoretical move which risks distorting our analyses of communication (x).

The present book is concerned only with general principles of communication theory (xi).

12 – 14 August

Kerner. Censored

12 – ?? August

Corn. Censored

15 August. Re-read 21 / 23 September

Neruda, Pablo. 1993. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. Penguin twentieth-century classics. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Penguin Books.

Classic Neruda and my first. I enjoyed it immensely.

XII   Your Breast Is Enough

Your breast is enough for my heart,
and my wings for your freedom.
What was sleeping above your soul will rise
out of my mouth to heaven.

In you is the illusion of each day.
You arrive like the dew to the cupped flowers.
You undermine the horizon with your absence.
Eternally in flight like the wave.

I have said that you sang in the wind
like the pines and like the masts.
Like them you are tall and taciturn,
and you are sad, all at once, like a voyage.

You gather things to you like an old road.
You are peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices.
I awoke and at times birds fled and migrated
that had been sleeping in your soul.

16 – 22 August

Carroll, Lewis. 1998. Alice’s adventures in Wonderland : and, Through the looking-glass and what Alice found there. Penguin classics. London; New York: Penguin Books.

Glad that I finally got around to reading a non-Disneyfied version.

23 August – ??

Williams, J. Mark G, et. al. 2007. The mindful way through depression : freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness. New York: Guilford Press.

Started on this but did not get too far as it is a self-help book. The kind which—by definition, perhaps—requires doing something more than simply reading. Plus, I was going to do some active work in breathing, yoga, and/or related areas and despite a small beginning on said activities did not get very far. Something to definitely improve on in the upcoming year.

24 August – 3 September

Cohen, Martin. 2008. Philosophical Tales: Being an Alternative History Revealing the Characters, the Plots, and the Hidden Scenes That Make up the True Story of Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

British smarminess. Not at its best, either. All in all, not very satisfying.

30 August – 1 September

Harris, Roy. 1995. Signs of Writing. London: Routledge.

This is simply excellent. Short, too. Bought myself a copy and am really looking forward to re-reading it with pencil in hand.

Communication itself, whatever form it takes, is an integration of activities, rather than a separate form of activity carried out in addition to others; and the product of that integration, as well as its enabling mechanism, is the sign.

In the case of writing, the activities that have to be integrated for communication to take place are designated globally, but vaguely, by the traditional terms writing and reading. Biomechanically, the two are independent (as is shown by the possibility of being able to read without being able to write); but as constituents of the process of communication they are interdependent. In other words, whatever can in principle be written must in principle be readable. The two types of activity are linked semiologically by a relationship of reciprocal presupposition.

An integrational approach to writing rests upon this single premiss and on the development of its theoretical implications.

Self-evidently true as the basic premiss may seem, the fact remains that no semiological study has hitherto examined the consequences that may be drawn from it as a foundation for the study of writing (5-6).

15 – 29 September

Steinman, Lisa Malinowski. 2008. Invitation to Poetry: The Pleasures of Studying Poetry and Poetics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

23 – 25 September

Borges, Jorge Luis. 2000. This Craft of Verse. Ed. Calin Andrei Mihailescu. The Charles Eliot Norton lectures ; 1967-1968. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 

Found this utterly lovely little book of lectures practically hidden away in the deepest bowels of the compressed stacks when I went looking for something else on poetry. Bought myself and my lady a copy almost immediately after I began reading it.

Whenever I have dipped into books of aesthetics, I have had an uncomfortable feeling that I was reading the works of astronomers who never looked at the stars. I mean that they were writing about poetry as if poetry were a task, and not what it really is: a passion and a joy (2).

…, I would like to say that we make a very common mistake when we think we’re ignorant of something because we are unable to define it. If we are in a Chestertonian mood (one of the very best moods to be in, I think), we might say that we can define something only we know nothing about it (17).

There are, of course, verses that are beautiful and meaningless. Yet they still have a meaning—not to the reason but to the imagination (85).

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for the last year or so ought to be able to see how (or, at least, that) these quotes speak to me.

The lecture titles are:

  1. The Riddle of Poetry
  2. The Metaphor
  3. The Telling of the Tale
  4. Word-Music and Translation
  5. Thought and Poetry
  6. A Poet’s Creed

26 – 29 September

Oliver, Mary. 1994. A Poetry Handbook. 1st ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Co.

29 September – 4 October

Barbach. Censored

29 September – 17 October

Neruda, Pablo. 2004. The Captain’s Verses (Los versos del Capitán). Trans. Donald D. Walsh. New York: New Directions.

7 – 11 October

Palmer, Donald D. 1998. Structuralism and Poststructuralism For Beginners. For Beginners.

8 – 10 October

Bussel. Censored

11 October

Boland, Eavan. 2001. Against Love Poetry. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton.

12 – 13 October

Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1995. Myth and Meaning: Cracking the Code of Culture. 1st ed. Schocken.

Dated and with well-known theoretical issues but still a classic.

14 – 15 October

Neruda, Pablo. 2008. The Hands of Day. Trans. William O’Daly. Bilingual. Copper Canyon Press.

This was simply an amazing book of poems. This is the only book where I willing and without hesitation read each and every poem twice immediately. I also marked a much higher percentage as favorites/speaking to me. Having read several Neruda books so far (and after) this is by far my favorite!

I wish I could explain why but best that I can say is that the poems, individually and collectively, really spoke to me. In this book, Neruda really questions his life, its purpose, its meaning, and whether he actually did anything of value with his hands. It is intense. But it is what I need.

I declare myself guilty of never having
fashioned, with these hands I was given,
a broom.

Why did I not make a broom?

Why was I given hands at all?

What purpose did they serve
if I …

I  “The Guilty One”

In this shop
I want to buy a pair of hands,
I want to discard
my own:
they do not serve me.

I want to know
whether being so old
I am capable
of starting over,
of working anew,
of carrying on.
With fresh feeling, I want to touch
the world,
the bodies,
the bells,
the roots,
to be born
in other fingers,

XXXV “Seal of the Plow”

There are many poems here asking the questions of these two. What have I done? Has it been of value? Why did I not do something with my hands? Was I valuable? Did I provide a service to the world?

The simplicity of the questioning is stunningly powerful, without coming anywhere near being maudlin.

I am going to crumple up this word,
I am going to twist it,
yes,
it is too flat,
it is as though a big dog or a great river
had run it over with a tongue or water
for many years.

In the world I want
roughness to be witnessed,
the salt of iron rust,
the toothless power
of the earth,
the blood
of those who spoke and those who did not speak.

I want to witness the thirst
inside the syllables:
I want to touch the fire
within the sound:
I want to feel the darkness
of the shout. I want
words rough
as virgin stones.

LX “Verb”

“I want to witness the thirst inside the syllables. … I want words as rough as virgin stones.”

Yes. I do want this.

17 – 20 October

Rilke, Rainer Maria. 1993. Letters to a Young Poet. Trans. M.D. Herter Norton. Rev. ed. W. W. Norton & Company.

Excellent; especially from one so young (when written).

…, dear sir, be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot now be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer [p. 35].

20 October – 8 November

Grayling, A. C. 2002. Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age. Oxf0rd: Oxford University Press.

Spotty; not as good as I had hoped. Although he bravely calls things as he sees them.

31 October – 15 November

Alfaro. 2006. Real.m. 1st ed. [Columbus Ohio]: Silenced Press.

Loaned to me by my daughter on the final night of ASIS&T. Written by a local Columbus, OH poet. Some was not to my taste but much of it I found excellent. Would like my own copy.

3 – 6 November

Longenbach, James. 2008. The Art of the Poetic Line. Art of series. Saint Paul, Minn: Graywolf.

5 – 8 November

Tyler. Censored

9 November – 14 December

Harris, Roy. 2004. The Linguistics of History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Another excellent book by Harris on the language(s) of supercategories. He has written on science, art, and history.

10 November

Hoagland, Tony. 1998. Donkey Gospel: Poems. Graywolf Press.

Was given to me by another poetry-inclined student but didn’t really speak to me.

10 November – 7 December

Bright. Censored

10 November – 29 December

Barnstone, Tony, and Chou Ping, trans. 2007. Chinese Erotic Poems. Everyman’s Library.

There are some really excellent poems in here.

WHITE MOONRISE

The white rising moon
is your bright beauty
binding me in spells
till my heart’s devoured.

The light moon soars
resplendent like my lady,
binding me in light chains
till my heart’s devoured.

Moon in white glory,
you are the beautiful one
who delicately wounds me
till my heart’s devoured.

Anonymous (c. 600 BCE)

NIGHT IS FOREVER (From 42 Songs

The night is forever. I can’t sleep.
The clear moon is so bright, so bright.
I almost think I hear a voice call me,
and to the empty sky say, Yes?

Zi Ye (3rd-4th centuries CE)

There are many, many more. Some are even quite explicit, especially if you grasp the Chinese motifs. The short introduction provides a bit of a grounding in them.

?? – 27 November [couple of weeks]

Hollander, John. 2001. Rhyme’s Reason: A Guide to English Verse. 3rd ed. New Haven: Yale Nota Bene/Yale University Press.

Forgot to record when I started this but it was my bus/lunch book for a couple of weeks.

15 – 20 November

Hornby, Nick. 2001. How to Be Good. New York: Riverhead Books.

23 – 25 November

Boccaccio, Giovanni. 2007. The Eaten Heart: Unlikely Tales of Love. Trans. G. H. McWilliam. Penguin (Non-Classics).

This is really just some tales excerpted from the Decameron, which I think I read a couple years back. I certainly started the Decameron and I remembered some of these tales but I’ll count it anyway.

25 – 26 November

Neruda, Pablo. 1991. The Book of Questions. Trans. William O’Daly. Port Townsend, Wash: Copper Canyon Press.

XLIV

Where is the child I was,
still inside me or gone?

Does he know that I never loved him
and that he never loved me?

Why did we spend so much time
growing up only to separate?

Why did we both not die
when my childhood died?

And why does my skeleton pursue me
if my soul has fallen away?

LXVI

Do the o‘s of the locomotive
cast smoke, fire and steam?

In which language does rain fall
over tormented cities?

At dawn, which smooth syllables
does the ocean air repeat?

Is there a star more wide open
than the word poppy?

Are there two fangs sharper
than the syllables of Jackal?

LXVII

Can you love me, syllabary,
and give a meaningful kiss?

Is the dictionary a sepulchre
or a sealed honeycomb?

Assorted questions from varied poems:

Where can you find a bell
that will ring in your dreams?

Does the earth sing like a cricket
in the music of the heavens?

Is 4 the same 4 for everybody?
Are all sevens equal?

How many weeks are in a day?
and how many years in a month?

There are some absolutely amazing questions in these poems!

28 / 30 November

Neruda, Pablo. 2002. The Sea and the Bells. Trans. William O’Daly. 2nd ed. Copper Canyon Press.

30 November – 9 December

Nabokov, Vladimir. 1992. Lolita. Everyman’ Library 133. New York: Knopf.

5 December – ?? [not yet finished]

Black, Steven. 2006. Serials in Libraries: Issues and Practices. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Reading at and for work/professional reasons. I’m a bit over halfway through it so I’ll leave it here.

6 December

Pinsky, Robert. 2006. First Things to Hand. 1st ed. Quarternote chapbook series #5. Louisville, Ky: Sarabande Books.

I know Pinsky was a recent poet laureate but I did not find this to my taste at all. There was only one stanza in one poem that spoke to me. In other words, this is the 2nd worst—to my taste—book of poems I have read. There was another book that I gave up on about 1/3rd of the way in during this time frame but I did not record it.

7 December

Page, P. K. 2008. The Essential P.K. Page.  Essential poets, Vol. 2. Erin, Ont: Porcupine’s Quill.

Saw this lovely little book of poems on the cart waiting to be cataloged. Waited somewhat patiently for it to be done so I could check it out. Talk about some profound idiocy; some policy-based and some system (ILS)-based. Once it was in the English Library and on the new books shelves I still needed help to find it. Keep in mind that I knew the call no., the poet, the title and exactly what it looked like!

The English Library actually has 4 call no. sequences for their new books. Four freaking sequences! A major WTF?! God forbid the theater books get crossed with the poetry or the literature or …. You know, because call numbers can’t help us with that. Wondering if this is some faculty/department driven idiocy, or what?

But let me go on record. Idiocy.

This Heavy Craft

The wax has melted
but the dream of flight
persists.
I, Icarus, though grounded
in my flesh
have one bright section in me
where a bird
night after starry night
while I’m asleep
unfolds its phantom wings
and practises.

7 – 20 December

Blue. Censored

?? – 14 December

Hyde, Stella. 2006. Literary lust : the sexiest moments in classic fiction. New York: Atria Books.

11 – 16 December

Phillips, John. 2005. The Marquis De Sade: A Very Short Introduction. Very short introductions 124. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

mid-December – ?? [not finished yet]

Crawford, Walt. 2009. The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look. A Cites & Insights Book: Mountain View, CA ; distributed by lulu.com. http://www.librarything.com/work/7141660. lulu.com http://www.lulu.com/content/4898086

Mostly finished; just working my way through the blog profiles now.

17 – 18 December

Machiavelli, Niccolo. 1962. Clizia. Trans. Oliver Evans. Barron’s library of literary masterpieces. Great Neck, N. Y: Barron’s Educational Series.

Ultimately based on a no longer extant Greek comedy entitled Cleroumenoe by Diphilus of Sinope, but actually based on an adaptation of it by Plautus. Plautus’ play is known to us as Casina, although the title he gave it is Sortientes. Written by Machiavelli around 1520.

18 – 20 December

Machiavelli, Niccolò. 1957. Mandragola. Trans. Anne Paolucci and Henry Paolucci. 1st ed. Library of liberal arts 58. New York: Macmillan.

Written between 1512 and 1520.

20-30 December

Harris, Roy. 2003. The Necessity of Artspeak: The Language of the Arts in the Western Tradition. London: Continuum.

Truly excellent! Of the supercategory books I probably prefer the one on science (naturally), then this one, and then the one on history. All are important commentaries. though.

29 December – ?? [just begun]

Berry, Wendell. 2004. The long-legged house. 1st ed. Washington DC ; [Berkeley Calif.] : Shoemaker & Hoard ; Distributed by Publishers Group West.

I’ve previously only read perhaps 2 essays by Berry. This is his first collection of essays, “[f]irst published in 1969 and out of print for more than twenty-five years, …” (back cover).

Some things about the new year

Not sure where this blog is going this year. I said some things last year about where I wanted to take it / thought it might go and it got nowhere near any of those places.

I read through all of my posts for 2008 on the 1st and 2nd. Wow! What a year! Talk about ups and downs. The reading went much quicker for the back half of the year seeing as I had but a handful of posts over the last quarter of the year.

I did and still do have some things to say. But for many reasons I chose/choose not to and/or am unable to do so—both good things and not so good things.

Things are really good in my life in some ways as I enter a new year and rapidly reach the half century mark. But I don’t get to say much about those.

I am in love and have the love of an amazingly wonderful woman. ‘Nuff said.

Some things are not so good; but really no worse than for many.

I have a job. For several more months anyway. But better than some, I knew from the start that it would end [on 15 August 2009]. At the time I got it there was a very good chance that it could be extended. With the economy tanked that is highly unlikely, though. So now I truly am on the job market—with many others—in an extremely poor economy.

It was a year of growth—some painful, some pleasant—and recognition of some areas which need improvement. In some cases I have a good idea and plan for how to work on those areas. Some are still too amorphously vague to have a plan; but awareness—or working towards awareness, at least—is the first step.

I have been working on a long post on the books I read this past year and WordPress is giving me fits. Apoplectic fits. Not sure if/when it will get posted anymore. The formatting keeps changing as WP sees fit from moment-to-moment. As soon as I figure out how to work around what it is doing it does something else. And now it is pulling out assorted COinS data. It is all becoming too much. [Hopefully it will be following on the heels of this one. ::fingers crossed::]

Also, one of the things I came across in re-reading my blog posts was my comments on censoring myself in my post “Some things read this week feature is over.” Now, none of those reasons have gone away although I was managing to ignore them as I constructed my Books Read in 2008 post. This morning [Saturday], in a different context, I was reminded that perhaps I am putting too much out there. So now I have to decide what to do with that post on top of trying to fight with WP.

I have no idea what this year will bring. I do have some hopes and desires but it is also a time of great change for S and for me.

I sincerely hope that I can continue to be the man I want to be in this relationship and that I can continue growing as that man.

I hope that I can be better at some things than I was in the past year. There were several issues that I wanted to comment on and had told others that I would that I never got to. Finding a way to discuss these issues in a more positive way is a big desire of mine. Finding a way to discuss them in a way I feel “safe” doing so is a hope.

I hope that I will be better at working on my breathing and perhaps find a way into yoga and other forms of exercise. I also hope I take up running again as soon as spring allows.

I hope to have a job after 15 August. And that it be interesting, challenging and with good people in a nice setting (work and non-work) is a desire.

Staying in better touch with assorted, but specific, people is a hope. Toward that end I am now in FriendFeed as it allows for a different kind of conversation than blogs or facebook. That, of course, is not enough and I must truly work harder at this.

I have many other hopes and desires for the new year. Some are concrete and some are still pretty abstract.

Besides hoping that everyone can be the person they desire to be in this year, my biggest hope and desire is that I actively and continuously work at being/becoming the person I want to be.