Visual language: or a new wander

In which I begin a new intellectual wander amongst the idea of visual language, particularly in comics, or at least that is how I got interested in it in a roundabout way.

My son and my friend Dave will probably laugh at me as this is the kind of thinking they’ve both done for much of their lives. They are visually arty. And musically. I am neither.

Past wanders

I am not sure that I am going to continue homebrewing and I am, after my last session of doing so, seriously reconsidering my beer judging. But those are different stories. This is about a new rabbit hole. “Psst, over here. “


As my Thursday AM coffee shop book, I am currently reading Smits, Rik. The Puzzle of Lefthandedness. Translated by Liz Waters, Reaktion, 2011, and it is fascinating! At least to a left-hander from a family of left-handers. Old enough that my parents were “seriously discouraged” from using said left hand and that even my doing so was looked down on, at the least, at school. Yes, I smeared a lot because that stupid non-smearing way to supposedly hold your pencil was dreamt up by a right-handed zealot with a sadistic streak. [That’s my story.]

Anyway, fascinating book! It is a series of 38 essay-ish pieces (I am about halfway through) about left-handedness but also about the concepts of left and right and their symbolic meanings, and so on. Sort of like 38 takes at tossing a dart at the dart board of the topic from 38 different points in space from all around the target. So, thus, not a coherent, long-form, argument, but a truly interesting way to break off into related topics.

The last couple chapters I read started with one on left and right in the murder genre of Western painting. Because of course “we” have one! ::sigh:: Then there was one on the violence towards women—almost always sexual—in Western painting. This also included the object of the male gaze, the “harlot.” Next was one on left and right in married couples portraits, and single portraits also, which also translates into where the woman stands in a traditional church wedding and which side she exits on, etc.

Interspersed throughout these chapters were talk about how all this depiction of movement [arriving vs departing, messengers with good news versus bad news, etc. transferred to most other forms of art and much of culture, including the stage, the silver screen, comic books and graphic novels, advertising, and so on. Much of this was also looked at cross-culturally; in literate cultures, much hinges on direction of writing and reading.

The point

All this really got me thinking as I have been reading so many graphic novels, comics, and some manga and I am often lost by the artwork and I am self-aware enough to know that sometimes it isn’t simply me or bad art but that I just don’t understand the conventions; especially true regarding manga and other forms of Japanese comics/anime.

Neil Cohn

Over the past weekend I discussed this with my wife and she started poking the Interwebz and found the the following article: Cohn, Neil. Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The Past and Future of a Field. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.

Yesterday I got a chance to print it and read it and it was mind-blowing how perfect it was for me. It isn’t exactly a practical lexicon of comics art, if you will, or not at all, which is what I sort of wanted: something to the point without being overly theoretical or way too wordy or …. I wanted the perfect “document” for me. This is a very close second and, in many ways, better, in that it provides a great entry into what I am looking for.

The article is exactly what the title purports to be: Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The Past and Future of a Field. It shows why “a language of comics” is the wrong object of study and that it is actually “visual language,” akin to “spoken” and (I forget what he called them, but) “manual,” that is signed languages.

Lots of great citations, as he has a good lit review early on, and then looks at the topic from most angles of study in linguistics, covers the research done in that area and the research needed, along with what the proper questions and concepts are in that area, and how they map, if at all, and whether that matters, to other forms of language (for instance, photology versus phonology).

Scott McCloud

The heaviest cited piece he uses is: McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. First HarperPerennial edition, HarperCollins Publishers, 1994, of which he says, “…, contemporary works on comics in a linguistic light—both in America and abroad—have exploded since the publication of comic artist and theorist Scott McCloud’s (1993) graphic book Understanding comics.” and “McCloud’s approach has permeated nearly all linguistically-driven studies since its publication” (4). Ten total cites to it. The author has 20 cites to his own work. But that is spread across 11 different titles versus one. [Not saying that isn’t fair as he seems mighty prolific. I still need to check out Cohn’s website,] But McCloud’s book seems to be the object to engage with in the article and in linguistics and comics since 1993.

When I looked up McCloud’s book to see if we had it at COCC—which we did—I saw that we had a 2nd McCloud book so I grabbed it too when I went up to get Understanding comics. It too is a graphic novel, McCloud, Scott. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. Harper, 2006. And next to it was another early classic, also cited by Cohn, so I grabbed it as a possibility: Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist; [Incl. New and Updated Material. Norton, 2008.

 I have read his fiction graphic novel, The Sculptor.


Of course there is language to this kind of thing but at what level of analysis and so forth? Or is it all practical versus theoretic and where and how have they influenced each other? I need a Wissenschaft on visual language.

Seeing as I do not have one—although that linguistics article went a long way towards portions of theory, and McCloud’s books, along with possibly Eisner’s, will hopefully provide some great practical knowledge—I will have to construct my own.

But that is par for the course:

“Wissenschaft incorporates science, learning, knowledge, scholarship and implies that knowledge is a dynamic process discoverable for oneself, rather than something that is handed down. It did not necessarily imply empirical research.

Wissenschaft was the official ideology of German Universities during the 19th century. It emphasised the unity of teaching and individual research or discovery for the student. It suggests that education is a process of growing and becoming.” (Wikipedia, “Wissenschaft.” Emphasis mine; spelling mistake Wikipedia’s)

I love Wissenschaften since they are, amongst others things, intellectual histories and that is my favorite kind of history by far. I also agree with the philosophy of education.

A New Wander

I have been needing a new rabbit hole—a new intellectual wander—and I do believe I have found it. No idea how far I will go but there are still a handful of citations to look into from Cohn’s article. I mean, seriously, how could I, with my assorted background(s) not read “Impossible Objects as Nonsense Sentences”? A title like that is like an opiate to me. And I have a few books to begin with; two of which are nonfiction graphic novels, my favorite kind.

Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables

Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables John J. McKendry, selector

Date read: 18 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016transl, 2016gnc

Cover image of Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables

Hardback (Museum issue), 96 pages
Published 1964 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: COCC Barber Library

Gorgeous in so many ways! Boy did I luck out listening to the universe on Friday.

Four stars as many of the morals are as or more cryptic than the fables themselves.

There is a five plus-page introduction by McKendry, the Assistant Curator of Prints, that does a wonderful job of situating Aesop’s Fables as possibly the finest work to show “the history of the printed illustrated book,” along with providing an overview of the evolution of the illustrations made for it and the various translations, along with revolutions in printing and image-making technologies that accompanied it.

In this lovely edition the images paired with the fable are fairly contemporaneous. For instance, the first eight are translations by William Caxton in 1484 with illustrations from four different sources, with the biggest difference being all of thirteen years. There are a couple at the end translated by Marianne Moore in 1954 with the illustrations from between one and nine years difference.

The introduction mentions that:

“Although the fables had been illustrated from early times, the invention of the printing press produced a virtual onslaught of the illustrations and made them a major par of our pictorial history. Before the end of the fifteenth century, there were over twenty different illustrated editions of them. The earliest editions are those of Mondavi, Ulm, and Verona, all published between 1476 and 1479, which are among the best books of the fifteenth century” 97-8).

Holy cow! That is insane and seriously supports the selectors contention regarding their importance to the history of the printed illustrated book.

There are forty fables included, with translations ranging from William Caxton (1484) to Marianne Moore (1954) and including ones from every century in between.

If you read this book PLEASE read the introduction. It provides so much context and makes watching the evolution of printing/image-making technology as it advanced and is represented by the included illustrations far more understandable and interesting.

The copy COCC holds has a bookplate which states: “Donated by Dr. Orde Pinckney to Central Oregon Community College Library.”  

Highly recommended but more for its description and depiction of illustrated book history than for the fables, many of which are in hard-to-understand English, irrespective of when translated.

There seems to be copies in some shape that are affordable. May look into acquiring one.

This is the 3rd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

de Botton – How to Think More About Sex

How Think More About Sex How Think More About SexAlain de Botton; Picador 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I read de Botton’s How to Think More About Sex on 1-2 November 2014. It was not quite what I expected; I also expected more. Then again, I gave a mixed review to The Architecture of Happiness, which suffers from some of the same issues.

But first, the contents:

I. Introduction

II. The Pleasures of Sex

     1. Eroticism and Loneliness

     2. Can ‘Sexiness’ Be Profound?

     3. Natalie or Scarlett?

III. The Problems of Sex

     1. Love and Sex

     2. Sexual Rejection

     3. Lack of Desire: Infrequency, Impotence, Resentment

     4. Pornography: Censorship, A New Kind of Porn

     5. Adultery: The Pleasures of Adultery, The Stupidity of Adultery

IV. Conclusion


My comments and excerpts:

de Botton writes in an overly generalized fashion, he considers few alternatives, he is quite probably contradicting himself on a couple occasions, he is often anthropomorphic and reifies to no end, and he seems to have written this book from a healthy, Euro-skinned, heterosexual of reasonably decent (or better) looks perspective. Gays, transexuals, asexuals, whatever do not appear. Do not get mention. Nor do the vast majority of people who are of mediocre appearance at best. Apparently, the only ones who should be thinking more (clearly/intelligently/humanely) about sex are healthy good-looking heterosexuals. Not.

I know this book is short but it leaves so damned much out. And that is perfectly fine and certainly expected. But if you are leaving out that much of the human experience of sex without even mentioning that you have no space for it then you do not deserve to name your book How to Think More About Sex. It really is that simple.

Based on this alone, one probably ought skip this book. But it is short and it has great moments. There are things of import to think about that he brings up. Some of his offerings for ways in and/or out of things are fine and some are bunk. But he is trying to intelligently discuss sex. I appreciate the hell out of that! But this only hits on occasion and it misses by so damned much in its general approach to ignoring much of the world’s population’s individual experiences.

Let’s dive in.

I. Introduction

I really liked this bit in the Intro. The end of that first paragraph is a bit over the top but I can’t argue really with that full one after it. He does a decent but succinct job of showing how messed up our “thinking” is about sex and, thus, why we may need to think/talk/act more intelligently about it.

“…. We [are] bothered by sex because it is a fundamentally disruptive, overwhelming and demented force, strongly at odds with the majority of our ambitions and all but incapable of being discreetly integrated within civilized society.

     Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation. It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and compels us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don’t like but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly wish to touch. Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values. Unsurprisingly, we have no option but to repress its demands most of the time. We should accept that sex is inherently weird instead of blaming ourselves for not responding in more normal ways to its confusing impulses.” 6-7

II. The Pleasures of Sex

He leaps right in trying to show that sex is messy and great and vengeful and loving and …. He does a good job showing that we truly are less in charge than we think when it comes to sex. This is also a bit thin for someone new to it (I am not) but he’s on the right track. Evolutionary biology can only explain so much (if it does at all) and one has to bring other theories to bear to explain more than mere biological sexual attraction for reproductive purposes. He does. Are they the right ones, or at least highly useful?

     1. Eroticism and Loneliness

          “It could sound disgusting — and that’s the point. Nothing is erotic that isn’t also, with the wrong person, revolting, which is precisely what makes erotic moments so intense: at the precise juncture where disgust could be at its height, we find only welcome and permission. The privileged nature of the union between two people is sealed by an act that, with someone else, would have horrified them both.” 22

          “Sex temporarily liberates us from the punishment dichotomy, well known to every one of us since childhood, between dirty and clean. Lovemaking purifies us by engaging the most apparently polluted sides of ourselves in its procedures and thereby anointing them as newly worthy.” 37

On fetishes:

          “In a clinical sense, a fetish is defined as an ingredient, typically quite unusual in nature, which needs to be present in order for someone to achieve orgasm.” 38

          “In this wider sense, fetishes are simply details — most often related either to a type of clothing or to a part of another’s body — which evoke for us desirable sides of human nature. The precise origins of our enthusiasms may be obscure, but they can almost always be traced back to some meaningful aspect of our childhood: we will be drawn to specific things either because they recall appealing qualities of a beloved parental figure or else, conversely, because they somehow cancel out, or otherwise help us to escape, a memory of early humiliation or terror.

          The task of understanding our own preferences in this regard should be recognized as an integral part of any project of self-knowledge or biography. What Freud said of dreams can likewise be said of sexual fetishes: they are a royal road into the unconscious.” 39

Tying our fetishes to issues of values and the good life which he’ll bring out later:

          “The pleasure we derive from sex is also bound up with our recognizing, and giving a distinctive seal of approval to, those ingredients of a good life whose presence we have detected in another person. The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy’, the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” 44

     2. Can ‘Sexiness’ Be Profound?

          “A consensus emerges about which sorts of faces we find most appealing. From these studies [cross-cultural], evolutionary biologists have concluded that a ‘sexy’ person of either gender, far from being an unclassifiable abstraction, is in essence someone whose face is symmetrical (that is, the right and left sides match precisely) and whose features are balanced, proportionate and undistorted.” 81

          “The discipline [evol biol] absolves physical attraction of the charge of being purely superficial. While conceding that we judge people by their appearance, it holds that appearances themselves are anything but trivial and indeed point towards some rather profound qualities.” 84

     3. Natalie or Scarlett?

          “Evolutionary biology confidently predicts that we will be drawn to people on the basis of their evident health, but it has not put forward any truly convincing theories about why we should prefer one specific healthy person over another.” 63

But what about people who clearly are not “healthy” who find love and are attracted sexually to others?

          Wilhelm Worringer’s theory on art appreciation; essay, “Abstraction and Empathy,” 1907 64-8

          Worringer’s theory applied to sexual attraction 69-72

          “We then declare people ‘sexy’ when we see in them evidence of compensatory qualities, and are repelled by those who seem prone to drive us further into our extremities.” 70

          “We need both art and sex to make us whole, so it is not surprising if the mechanisms of compensation should be similar in each case. The specifics of what we find ‘beautiful’ and what we find ‘sexy’ are indications of what we most deeply crave in order to rebalance ourselves.” 72

III. The Problems of Sex

This section attempts to offer possible remedies, or at least ways in, to mitigate some of the many problems with sex. Of course, only a few are covered in the short space allowed. I am not sure how effectively he deals with some of them either.

     1. Love and Sex

          “It’s time for the need for sex and the need for love to be granted equal standing, without an added moral gloss. Both may be independently felt and are of comparable value and validity. Both shouldn’t require us to lie in order to claim them.” 79

Amen! The data on this–and he does provide some; there is much more–show what a damaging idea modern love (and marriage) truly is. Maybe someday perhaps the two can be pulled apart in a more sane and sensible way but I have my doubts.

     2. Sexual Rejection

          “We don’t have to take sexual rejection as a sure indication that another person has looked into our soul and registered disgust at every aspect of our being. The reality is usually much simpler and less shattering than that: for whatever reason, this particular individual just can’t get turned on by our body. We can take comfort in the knowledge that such a verdict is automatic, preconscious and immutable. The one doing the rejecting isn’t being intentionally nasty; he or she has no choice.” 82

If we could already use reason in regards to love and sex then this probably would be less of an issue than it is. Realigning our views on the issue, as he suggests, would be useful but quite unlikely to be of use to more than a handful of people, statistically speaking.

     3. Lack of Desire:

          i. Infrequency

               “The solution to long-term sexual stagnation is to learn to see our lover as if we had never laid eyes on him or her before.” 97

               “While going about their quite different types of business, the lover and the artist nonetheless come up against a similar human foible: the universal tendency to become easily habituated and bored, and to decide that whatever is known is unworthy of interest. We are prone to long for novelty, kitschy romanticism, drama and glamour.” 99

               “We should try to locate the good and the beautiful beneath the layers of habit and routine.” 102

          ii. Impotence

     Argues that this is a “symptom of respect.” Not buying that for a second, except in some percentage (I’m going with small) of all cases. And the reason why is all the bullshit he says about men in these paragraphs. Again, overly generalized beyond all possible acceptance. Gamergate and #teamharpy, along with way too many other things today show us that most men have not “evolved” as de Botton seems to think.

          iii. Resentment

               “By overwhelming consensus, our culture locates the primary difficulty of relationships in finding the ‘right’ person rather than in knowing how to love a real — that is, a necessarily rather unright — human being.” 121

Yes. This bit is quite valuable. Again, shows the utter destruction caused by the currently prevailing (by those in power) views of love and marriage in Western society.

     4. Pornography:

          i. Censorship

I. Just. He seems to accept, and argues, that pornography is extremely dangerous to society and that some form of censorship is necessary. He is writing in particular about the Internet. Yes, indeed, let’s let nanny-state governments censor the Internet so we can get back to work. Jackass! There are so many intermediate steps.

I should explain that my vehemence here is he because he made no real argument for pornography being an immense destructive force; just assumed via anecdata.

          ii. A New Kind of Porn

I. Just. Don’t. But now he wants a new kind of porn. “Virtue porn.”

“Yet is is possible to conceive of a version of pornography that wouldn’t force us to make such a stark choice between sex and virtue — a pornography in which sexual desire would be invited to support, rather than permitted to undermine, our higher values.” 139

OK. This might work for a few folks; he should go back and re-read his discussion of fetishes though, as a first caution. And some of his examples later on make some sense; again, for a few folks. But his discussion. Oy! His example to lead us into pornography that might support our virtues is Sandro Bottticelli’s The Madonna of the Book, c.1483.

Seems to be contradicting himself in these two sections also. Porn must be censored. Oh, look, a new kind of “virtue porn.” Make a choice or choose a middle ground, sir.

     5. Adultery:

          i. The Pleasures of Adultery

               “However, the real fault in the situation lies in the ethos of modern marriage, with its insane ambitions and its insistence that one person can plausibly hope to embody the eternal sexual and emotional solution to another’s every need.

               Taking a step back, what distinguishes modern marriage from its historical precedents is its fundamental tenet that all our desire for love, sex and family ought to reside in the selfsame person. No other society has been so stringent or so hopeful about the institution of marriage, nor ultimately, as a consequence, so disappointed in it.

               In the past, these very distinct needs — for love, sex and family — were wisely differentiated and separated out from one another.” 152

          ii. The Stupidity of Adultery

This section brought out how also very middle-class and above focused it is.

IV. Conclusion

     “When every contemptuous but fair thing has been said about our infernal sexual desires, we can still celebrate them for not allowing us to forget for more than a few days at a time what is really involved in living an embodied, chemical and largely insane human life.” 175-6

I can certainly agree with this view, but while he did a decent job arguing this, if it was what he truly meant to argue then I suppose it would have been a somewhat different book. Or perhaps not.


This is the sources section.

Conditionally recommended is what I am going to say. That is, if you want to think more about sex. Then again, if you want to think more about sex then I would recommend this book [any edition would be fine], even if the focus of each is not the same.


I had to create a record at Open Library so I could use John Miedema’s OpenBook plugin. I had hoped I was done with adding so many records there but is good to be writing again. And it is a nice record.

If I Don’t Reach My Goal – Have I Failed?

Title unabashedly borrowed from this post by Jane Boyd, the timing of which couldn’t be better. I have been thinking about this more and more lately the last few days as it becomes more than apparent that despite getting off to a great start and keeping up for the first half of the month that I now will probably not make the goal of 50,000 (counted) words for DigiWriMo. As I write this (27 November AM) I need a tad under 10,500 words to reach it.

 So the question is this; by not reaching my original goal – have I failed?  Perhaps yes….perhaps no.  I’m not going to agonize over it.  Instead, I’m celebrating the various things that I have done and that I will continue to do in the days to come.

Now, I told myself before I even committed that not making it would not be an issue as long as I had actually begun writing again. So, thankfully, there’s that.

And I most certainly have been writing. You (whoever you are reader, and from whatever venue you are reading my words from) have probably not seen all of those words. And did I really not make 50,000? It depends on how one counts. So, how (and what) did I count?

I have been using Scrivener to draft in and/or store what I am counting. Scrivener provides a great tool—Project Targets—that not only counts your total but lets you set a timeline for your project and then gives you daily writing goals and tracks your progress toward those along with total progress. There are also ways to simply count your words without using the Targets but this suited my purpose better.

My Scrivener desk top

A screen shot of my Scrivener desktop with some folders collapsed and the Project Targets window up.

You can see the full-size picture on Flickr.


Blog posts – I draft in Scrivener, including pasting in all of the URLs I need for the post, and then paste the complete draft into the WordPress editor and get to work formatting. A fair few words end up not getting counted because they are “behind the scenes”—link text; alt descriptions, titles, etc. for photos. Once the post goes live, I highlight everything from the last tag or keyword up to the title of the post and copy that and then paste it over the draft in Scrivener. Any comments I make on the post—usually in response to someone else’s comment—gets copied and pasted into Scrivener at the bottom of the post; just mine, not others comments.

I have several potential posts drafted. Some may get posted—in November still, or later—some may not see the light of day. But I wrote them—whatever they amount to—so they count.

Tweets – At first I was only counting tweets that were directly DigiWriMo related and carried the #digiwrimo hashtag. I copied the text of each tweet and pasted it into a single Scrivener doc called “Tweets sent” that had a small rule placed between each date. I also pasted in the link to the tweet, which made up for the loss of link text, etc. in blog posts and other things not counted but nonetheless written digitally.

Eventually I noticed that I was having serious conversations—short as they may be—with others via Twitter that were intended to convey or ask for information about topics important to the participants, so I started counting those also. Not every tweet I sent was counted though since some were just goofiness. Still, it could be argued that all should count as they were written digitally. I say “Count what you want.”

When I post to my blog I routinely send out a tweet about it. I also post that same content into Google+ and Facebook for those folks in those venues who might be interested but for whatever reason don’t use RSS. Believe me, in Facebook anyway, I can get a lot of comments regarding my blog posts; more than on the posts themselves usually. ::sigh:: I only counted the tweets though, not the duplication into the other two venues. I could justify an argument for doing so but I don’t want to.

I also did not count retweets or favorites. Favorites I mostly use as a bookmark feature, although I do use it sometimes as a “Well done!” comment to the poster. Retweets are trickier since I am usually throwing them out there as a potential aid to conversation/commentary. Nonetheless, they take so little work that I chose not to count them.

Poems – I did not write many poems but a few were written (or co-written) and posted in assorted places. I took part in the DigiWriMo midnight launch party joint poem writing. Of the rest, two can be found on the blog—a poem written a couple years ago but I that had failed to put up after it was published and the rights reverted to me and one about my experience in the first #digped chat. One was my vignette for the group-written novel and included a doggerel poem written as a fan letter to Digi the Duck, one was a Twitter poem, and two were posted to Facebook since they were in response to a prompt given to me there by a friend (Jess). I have one in draft that is based on the Twitter Trending Topics during the midnight launch party but I never got very far with it.

Book-spine poems, inspired by Andrew McGregor, made up another five blog posts, including one that was a meta-poem about book-spine poetry. Compiling my list of book titles for possible use—only ones I own so far—provided me with 1885 words. I also have a few (very rough) drafts put together. I definitely hope to do more of them.

My journal – I am counting my journal, which I keep in Word, although with any luck no one will ever see it. I write it digitally and I do consult it on occasion, besides whatever benefit the writing of it provides. It used to serve as the genesis of  what became ~20 mix CDs that served as musical journals, many of which I gave away copies as gifts. So I paste my journal entries into Scrivener every couple days to be counted.

Book reviews – Many of these end up as blog posts but some only get put in Goodreads. I did not count both versions if they are in both, only the blog version. I also have a few draft reviews started. Sadly, these are the ones I came into the project with. One is long overdue. Oh well.

Fiction – I wrote a very short story (218 words) comprised entirely of one syllable words based on a prompt my friend (Jess) provided. I am also working from another prompt given to me by my daughter to write something based in the Girl Genius universe. At first I shrunk from that one a bit because as much as I love Girl Genius I don’t think I can do it justice. But then I had a brilliant insight as to how to write a mashup of Girl Genius and Gail Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate series. No! I am not saying what it is. I want it to be a surprise since whether or not I pull it off successfully the idea itself is brilliant. Brilliant, I tell you. I kind of think it won’t be done for DigiWriMo either but that is OK. I want to make it as good as I can since I really enjoy both series.

Assorted – Not counting: As I said above, many tweets did not get counted, nor did much of what (little) I did in Facebook. I also did not count text messages of any sort although they clearly constitute digital writing and often mundane but nonetheless important communications to me. I also do a fair bit of data entry in a couple of spreadsheets for books read and books purchased and am starting a beer purchase history one. None of that has gotten counted. Also, my entries in the Untappd ap  take a fair bit of work with all the selections and ratings to be made even if in the end not that many words are actually typed. Not counted. Oh, no email counted.

Other things that I am counting: I started a list of issues for the new doctor will be going to visit soon since we moved; draft blog posts on liminality in my life, a comment policy, a review/commentary on two movies, draft book reviews, moving to Bend, Facebook promoted posts and businesses that primarily rely on Facebook for reaching customers, digital scholarly editions, and a few other odds and ends; and poem drafts.

Projected stuff – I had hoped to write a short Twitter novella but never found a story line and I had hoped to write more Twitter poems—haikus and similar short things.

Branching out – I was fairly successful in branching out by trying my hand at a group poem, a group novel, the Twitter vs. Zombies game, book-spine poetry, short fiction (of one-syllable), and an intended fiction mashup.

Prompts – I culled prompts, actively and passively, from many places. Some came from DigiWriMo directly, like the opening night party’s group poem, and later Twitter vs. Zombies and the group novel.

I started the month with a list of ideas, which my wonderful wife also contributed to. Some of the things she suggested were that while writing about moving to Bend that I try to answer the question,” What would I show to visiting family/friends?”, a list of areas for growth/learning over next couple of years, and some commentary on things not read, that is, things acquired with the full intention of getting to quickly but that fell by the wayside.

Other DigiWriMo participants contributed some through their own efforts or by directly putting out prompts. The idea for book-spine poetry came for Andrew McGregor. A poem and commentary came from the first #digped chat. I saw a few other prompts from DigiWriMo folks in various places but never got around to acting on them. A few days ago I goaded Jeff Brackett into posting the list of 51 that he had on Twitter and culled the following in a first pass:

  • Prompt 2: Select one Tweet & expand into blog post #DigiWriMo
  • Prompt 3: Choose one #DigiWriMo participant; comment on work and encourage them
  • Prompt 4: Why are you *not* writing? #DigiWriMo
  • Prompt 5: Turn ideas from one song from playlist (or radio) into Blog post #DigiWriMo
  • Maybe you can substitute some words/topics to generate new prompts #digiwrimo // thanks!

I also put out a request on Facebook on Black Friday and these are the responses I got:


  • Pick a line/syllable restriction that appeals to you (3 lines/7ish syllables per line usually feels do-able to me even when I’m stuck) and poem it up. Tell me what you see, what you smell. Be a reporter in verse.
  • Write a short short story (I’m not picturing more than a double-spaced page, here) entirely in one-syllable words.
  • Write a creative non-fiction short story, but from the point of view of one of the other people involved.

Stacey: How about a blog post on Why the Humanities matters? 😉

Sara (daughter): Something in the Girl Genius universe?


  • When I was a child, I loved…
  • Whenever I smell ____, I am reminded of…
  • I first learned about sex from…

I took on a few of those, as mentioned above, and am working on some of the others. I want to heartily thank everyone who has directly inspired me, challenged me, and supported me this month!

I have a fair few things in the pipeline ready to post but I think I will spend the next few days primarily writing. The goal is to write 50,000 words digitally and make some of them available and not to post 50,000 words. As of these words that I am currently typing, early in the morning of 29 November, I have 44,268 words. I am so very close. This post itself may or may not get posted before midnight Friday as it contains an awful lot of links and formatting in WordPress still takes a fair bit of time and effort.

Final words:

I actually made 50,000 words at 3:20 pm 30 November during the last #digiwrimo twitter chat with this tweet:

These 20 words will reach my #digiwrimo goal of 50k words on Friday afternoon, 30 November 2012. Go me! Win!

It also include this picture:


I had a good time, met lots of interesting people, many of whom I look forward to interacting with again, learned some things, have a ton of things drafted up and ready to post to the blog, and also have some interesting projects to work on further.

I send a hearty “Thank you!” to all partcipants but especially to Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer), Sean Michael Morris (@slamteacher), and all the others at Marylhursts’ English & Digital Humanities program for hosting, driving, and inspiring Digital Writing Month.


Today, meh

Today hasn’t been that awesome of a day. My stomach had a big knot in it when I went to bed last night, which I thought perhaps came from having the chocolate gelato for dessert after having had a Rodenbach Grand Cru at dinner.

Today the hard knot is gone but replaced by worse, which has really disrupted my day. I did get our ballots dropped off at the drive-thru ballot ‘box.’ We could have mailed our ballots in if we had been a couple days earlier in filling them out. But, the drive-thru was kind of neat. No “I Voted” stickers, though.

Also got a small bit of necessary grocery shopping in but I skipped Haiku Circle, which I had really wanted to attend. It was only the second meeting since it started last month. Also, I wanted to see how many people showed up since there was no reminder and maybe remind them to use the Facebook page or the email list or something.

Not much writing is getting done for DigiWriMo because I just feel pretty crappy. At this point, I am thinking I got a stomach bug of some sort. Whatever it is, I truly hope it clears up fast since tomorrow is the Deschutes Brewery University Barrel-Aged Beer class and I want a solid stomach for that!

Thanks to a tweet from Andromeda (@ThatAndromeda) earlier today, I am signed up for a free Git and GitHub Basics class from GitHub. So this afternoon I got Git installed on my Mac (command line version), set up a GitHub account (MarkLindner), made my first repository and followed Andromeda as she suggested. I hope/think I’m ready for the class tomorrow. I have no idea when I’ll have a real use for Git and GitHub but hopefully I can learn enough to plod along when the time comes. Who knows, maybe that time will be sooner than I think.

Also, in some way, it seems directly related to DigiWriMo, so now is as good a time to learn as any.

Late this afternoon we went to an event held by OSU-Cascades called Brains & Brews, which is where a professor talks about some of their current research while folks sit around and drink at a local establishment. It is so popular that you have to sign up in advance and it isn’t advertised on the faculty events calendar page. It was quite interesting. A couple folks talked about equine-based psychotherapy with folks with PTSD.

Hopefully the evening will remain quiet and my stomach will get itself under control. I guess when I have to eat next, which will be soon, we’ll see.

We are moving to Bend, Oregon

We are moving to Bend, Oregon in early August.

Sara got a job as the librarian for OSU-Cascades in Bend. She starts in the 3rd week of August so we are in full on packing and move planning mode.

We are really looking forward to this move. Just over two years in Sioux City (SUX) has been plenty. Don’t get me wrong, Sioux City has a fair few good things going for it and we’ve made a few friends who it hurts to leave, but for two liberal, vegetarian (or nearly so [me]), academically-oriented librarians it has little to offer.

Our time was certainly not wasted here, which is a consolation. Sara got more experience as a librarian and was promoted to Director of Educational Technology, a position created for her. I had a poem published in the Iowa state poetry contest annual, and a photograph published in a literary magazine and on display in the Sioux City Art Center for about 7 weeks. I also helped edit this year’s edition of the Briar Cliff Review, took several classes, all of which were literature or writing courses, except for one digital photography course where I finally learned to use my Nikon D40X off of automatic.

We saw a few concerts, the more important of which we had to go to Iowa City, Omaha and Minneapolis for. We attended the Iowa Library Association annual conference in Coralville, THATCamp LAC in Green Bay and the Library Technology Conference in Minneapolis, and a few smaller ones here and there in Iowa.

I was hired as a cataloging contractor by Briar Cliff’s Bishop Mueller Library and eventually was able to do a lot of collection development work, particularly weeding, among other things. We are hoping that I will be able to continue doing some work for them by distance.

But. Bend. Oh my. We already have tickets to see Madeleine Peyroux and we will attending a 3-day yoga festival in early Sep. That is no doubt more than my quota of yoga in one sitting but I figure it’ll be a good way to suss out the local community and see if there are any instructors whose style I like and so on.

They are also a craft brewing haven. There are 8 microbreweries within walking distance of each other in Bend alone, with a few more in the nearby Central Oregon environs. There are also 3-4 more opening in the next 6 months to 1.5 years. That web site lists 14 breweries in Bend and one in Sisters but it also includes brew pubs.

They have tons of events like the upcoming Fermentation Celebration on 12 July (we’ll miss it), which is the kickoff to Oregon Craft Brewers Month. Also, coming up (and we’ll be there!) is the Ninth Annual Bend Brewfest. There is a Bend Ale Trail and they even have an app. Oh, also coming up is the 4th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest. Oh my.

Downtown has an independent coffee shop on most every street where we have one (perhaps 2) decent coffee shops in Sioux City.

There’s an organization called (theNatureofWords).  How can I not like an organization with that for a name? Their mission statement:

The Mission of The Nature of Words is to strengthen and support the literary arts and humanities in the high desert region of the Northwest through community interaction with acclaimed authors and through creative writing programs for youth and adults.

There are several disc golf courses in the area including one right out back of the library Sara will be working in.

Mountains, forests, outdoor activities of all kinds, new forms (to me) of natural objects to learn about and photograph, and so on.

Moving sucks, as usual. And yesterday I tripped and fell backwards over something in the basement while working down there so I now hurt far more than I did simply from the labor of packing and disassembling things which I’ve been doing for a week and a half now; started with the books and the office primarily. Also sorted out still fully packed boxes in the basement from those needing repacking. So lots of heavy, tiring work. And more to come after a day off today.

But we’re going to Bend!

Emmons, Baseball nights and DDT

Baseball Nights And DDTJeanne Emmons; Pecan Grove Pr 2005WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This is an excellent book of poems which consists of four sections: “Refinery,” “Cooking from Scratch,” “Possessions,” and “The Sound of One Hand.” Amongst the poems of each section is a poem of the same title, except in “Possessions” where the poem is actually “The Possession of Susan Smith.”

This is the second of Emmons’ three books of poems; the first being Rootbound and the third The Glove of the World. I have not yet read the third book.

Full disclosure time: Jeanne Emmons is a friend of mine and the professor I have taken the most classes from at Briar Cliff. Other than providing me a deeper knowledge of the poet, which helps in placing the poet in relation to some of the subject matter of the poems, I do not think it colors my judgement of the poems in the slightest. These are powerful poems whether or not I have more insight into some of them than the general reader of them does.

The poems in “Refinery” center around the author’s growing up in south Texas: Halloween, the baseball nights and DDT of the title, Southern Baptist churchgoing, segregation, living in a refinery town. “Cooking from Scratch” encompasses relationships and where they lay in time; friends, family—living and gone—make their appearance. The third section, “Possessions” contains exactly what it says, the things that possess others and ourselves: gardens, travel, names and events in the news, mythology. The last section, “The Sound of One Hand,” consists of poems about Emmons’ father and their complex relationship and the whole book is dedicated to her father, Winfred S. Emmons, who passed in 2000.

There are so many poems I’d like to share with you or comment on but I’ll keep it to a bare minimum.

On her parents’ wedding night, from “Fantasia Reissued”:

That year, someone would split the atom,
and Bald Mountain would soon be racked
with thunderbolts and deadly rain,
but they held out hope and loved each other
with pink parasols, one after the other,
opening and opening in the darkened theater.

“Contingency” is one of the most beautifully and quietly erotic poems that I have ever read, even more so since there is nothing explicit in it.

“Medusa” is a wonderful reinterpretation of the boy-meets-girl story.

Since I cannot transcribe the whole thing, go find a copy and read them. You will be rewarded.


Todorov, In Defence of the Enlightenment

In defence of the EnlightenmentTzvetan Todorov ; translated from the French by Gila Walker.; Atlantic Books 2009WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder

I almost bought this book when it came out in December 2009, but I had read at least one review which was not very positive. I wish I could find whatever I had read to see whether I agree with it. I have tried but I failed.

I have read at least three other Tzetvan Todorov books that I am certain of: Facing the Extreme, Imperfect Garden, and Hope and Memory. I have enjoyed them all, even when I have not entirely agreed with him.

I decided to pick this up now as I am taking a class this semester in Enlightenment Literature, or, more specifically on Anglo-American Enlightenment literature. Todorov focuses on the French Enlightenment, understandably; he has lived in France since 1963. Certainly, a few other thinkers from Germany, England, and America crop up but the vast majority of references are to French thinkers.

I read this book, in essence, twice between 3 February and 5 March 2012. I read a chapter or two and then I went back and reread and took my notes, leapfrogging slightly ahead with my reading over my note taking.

I have decided to count it as a Two-Thirds Book Challenge book as it is directly applicable to my current interests, it is a fairly meaty book for its length, and, as I said, I read it twice.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It’s not bad but it seemed a little narrow-minded, or defensive, perhaps. And, yes, I am fully aware that it is supposed to be a defense; but, there is a fine line between making a defense and being defensive.


  • Introductory Note
  • 1 The Project
  • 2 Rejections and Distortions
  • 3 Autonomy
  • 4 Secularism
  • 5 Truth
  • 6 Humanity
  • 7 Universality
  • 8 The Enlightenment and Europe
  • A Note of Conclusion
  • Notes

The physical book (hardbound) is a nice artifact, well edited, no typos, with good margins, but no index.

§ Introductory Note

“… I set out here to outline the key points of Enlightenment thought, without losing sight of our times, in a continual back-and-forth movement between past and present” (2).

§ The Project

Trying to define the Enlightenment project is difficult for two reasons: (1) It “was a period of culmination, recapitulation and synthesis, not one of radical innovation”; and (2) “Enlightenment thinking was formulated by a great many individuals who, far from agreeing with one another, were constantly engaged in bitter discussions, from one country to another and within each country” (3-4).

Three ideas form the basis of the Enlightenment project, according to Todorov:

  1. autonomy
  2. the human end is the purpose of our acts
  3. universality (4-5)

“[W]hat we need today is to re-establish Enlightenment thinking in a way that preserves the past heritage while subjecting it to a critical examination, lucidly assessing it in light of its wanted and unwanted consequences. … [I]t is through criticism that we remain faithful and put its teaching into practice” (23).

§ Rejections and Distortions

Enlightenment thinking was the subject of much criticism, particularly from the civil and church authorities that were being challenged (25). Many criticisms were directed against caricatures of Enlightenment thought, while some simply misread its spirit, Todorov tells us.

But this is one of the weak points of the book; Todorov told us earlier that many different and disparate voices vehemently disagreed about what exactly was the Enlightenment project but throughout the rest of the book he gives us a pretty straightforward account, claiming that such-and-such is the Enlightenment view of each topic that he covers. But it simply is not that easy. While I agree with him in general outline most of the time, the discussions he provides really need to be more complicated and nuanced. Perhaps that would lengthen the account but if one is going to defend the Enlightenment then one should do it well and not use an oversimplified caricature of Enlightenment thought.

I do think he does a decent job of showing how various ideas that pass for a fairly mainstream view of the Enlightenment are actually distortions of it, and how these ideas were often bastardized in the employment of dubious, and much worse, ends.

§ Autonomy

Twofold movement: “a negative movement of liberation from norms imposed from the outside and a positive movement of construction of new norms of our own devising” (41).

Discusses various forms and kinds of autonomy, such as collective vs, individual, of thought, opinion, etc., and its abuses by thinkers such as de Sade. Some of the possible conflicts between demands for collective autonomy and individual autonomy discussed include:

  • education as indoctrination (50)
  • economic globalization (51)
  • international terrorism (51-2)
  • mass media (53)
  • influence of fashion / spirit of the age/place (53-5)
  • public opinion (54-5)
  • advertising (55)

 § Secularism

Discusses various forms of temporal vs. spiritual power and what exactly secularism is. Other threats discussed are the family, Communism, Nazism and fascism. As Todorov tells us, “The enemies of a secular society are many” (70). Several pages discuss the role of the sacred in a secular society, and it does have one.

§ Truth

Distinguishes between two types of acts and discourses, those that aim for the good and those that aim for truth (77). Also discusses dangers to truth.

“The political life in a republic and the autonomy of its citizens are threatened by two symmetrical opposing dangers: moralism and scientism. Moralism reigns when the good prevails over truth and, under the pressure of the will, facts become malleable materials. Scientism carries the day when values seem to proceed from knowledge and political choices are passed off as scientific deductions” (82-3).

The scientism that arose, and is still with us, was opposed by some Enlightenment thinkers like Montesquieu, Rousseau (85). Some of the dangers of scientism discussed include:

  • 20th-century totalitarianism and the elimination of ‘inferior’ races and/or reactionary classes (86)
  • the temptation to rely on ‘experts’ to formulate moral norms or political objectives (86)
  • the sociobiological’ project (86)
  • heterogeneity in the paths to knowledge (87-8).

Moralism is, of course, much older than the Enlightenment and its dangers are also discussed.

Todorov writes, “Truth cannot dictate the good but neither should it be subjugated to it. Scientism and moralism are both alien to the spirit of the Enlightenment. But a third danger exists, and that is that the very notion of truth be considered irrelevant. … [The challenge to truth in totalitarian regimes] is that the very distinction between truth and falsehood, between truth and fiction, became superfluous in light of the purely pragmatic considerations of usefulness and convenience” (91-2)

He then goes on to show several examples in the US where truth is subjugated to “usefulness and convenience” in the very late 20th-century/early 21st (92-4). We would do well to think about these kinds of issues. And, yes, he slams present day France repeatedly throughout the book, too.

§ Humanity

Discusses how the shift of the human to the center was practically Copernican; “Not surprisingly this reversal elicited strong opposition from those who defended the existing hierarchy, from Bonald to John Paul II” (103).

de Sade is again mentioned in this chapter for his distortions of Enlightenment views.

§ Universality

Discusses equality and human rights, along with challenges to them such as the death penalty, political correctness, and relativism.

§ The Enlightenment and Europe

Discusses why the Enlightenment happened where and when it did considering that none of its ideas were particularly new, and some went back thousands of years.

“The lesson of the Enlightenment consists in saying that plurality can give rise to a new unity in at least three ways: it encourages tolerance through emulation; it develops and protected a critical spirit; and it facilitates self-detachment, which leads to a superior integration of the self and the other” (143-44)

§ A Note of Conclusion

On why the Enlightenment still holds relevance today:

“The reason for its topicality is twofold: we are all children of the Enlightenment, even when we attack it; at the same time, the ills fought by the spirit of the Enlightenment turned out to be more resistant than eighteenth-century theorists thought. They have grown even more numerous. The traditional adversaries of the Enlightenment — obscurantism, arbitrary authority and fanaticism — are like the heads of the Hydra that keep growing back as they are cut. This is because they draw their strength from characteristics of human beings and societies that are as ineradicable as the desire for autonomy and dialogue. … Added to this are modern distortions of the Enlightenment, in the form of scientism, individualism, radical desacralization, loss of meaning and wholesale relativism, to name a few” (149-50).

The Enlightenment may be history but it is still extremely relevant today. Enlightenment thinking was highly complex, and it was disputed by those within and without the project. It deserves not to be oversimplified.

This is a decent book and it was worth reading, but it is flawed by simplification where there should have been complexity.

Dickens 2012 at Briar Cliff

Tuesday of this week, February 7th, was the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, his bicentenary. Various events were held worldwide and we did a little bit here in Sioux City at the Bishop Mueller Library at Briar Cliff University.

Charles Dickens, sitting, with colorful birthday hat on his head

Late in January, thanks to having most of our Dickens’ texts around me due to a reclassification project, I decided to see if I could do an exhibit in the campus library. I had been aware of the (then upcoming) Dickens’ bicentenary for a good while based on seeing reviews of new biographies of Dickens, commentaries on his status as a literary icon, and so on.

I asked the director and she said, “Certainly,” and we found a spot. A few days went by and then I got busy and picked the books I wanted to use, found the illustrations within a few that I wanted to display, located the stands, and made a few info sheets with a mini-bio, some web sources for more information, sources for free ebooks and subscription ebooks via the library, and the call number range(s) for books by or about him and his works in our library [the reclass project is not done]. The display debuted on the 1st of February.

Display of works by and about Dickens

Charles Dickens Bicentenary display at BCU Mueller Library

A day or two after putting the display together, and no doubt prompted by gathering links about the bicentenary, I thought that it would nice to host a reading ourselves, a Read-a-Thon. I asked the library director if we could do it in the library and got a definite “Yes.” I then asked the president of WREN, our student Writing and English club, if they would co-sponsor the event, which for me simply meant telling the Writing/English students about it and letting me put their name along with the Library’s on the flyer I would make. Alex did a great job and even secured permission from the Dept. Chair for the students to get service credit for reading. [Juniors and seniors have to do so many hours of service to the department and/or university to graduate.] I then asked the prof who teaches Victorian Lit, Dr. Jeanne Emmons, if she would give us a short introduction to Dickens at the start to which she readily agreed, and also claimed the education portion of Hard Times.

From there I designed a flyer with the help of my lovely wife. I found a photograph of Dickens that I could legally use and had Sara place a birthday hat on it at a ‘jaunty angle.’ [See above. Original photo found at Flickr and supplied by the Penn State Special Collections, Darrah Collection, Image 61680. The photo is licensed as CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, so feel free to use this transformed work under the same license. Thanks for sharing, Penn State!]

I then hung these up around campus several days in advance. The library director sent out an all staff email advertising the event, too, as I wanted any interested party to be able to come and enjoy listening and to read, if they chose.

On the day of the event, I came in about an hour and a half early to push around some of the furniture to make a space and provide more seating. I also went to the stacks and grabbed a pretty much complete set of Dickens’ works and brought them down on a small cart. A big pot of coffee was brewed and the cake and cookies I bought that morning were put out.

The event was scheduled from 4-5 pm and people started showing up a half hour in advance. By 4 PM we had a good 20+ people with 6 pre-signed up to read.

I gave a brief welcome, introduced myself to those (few) who didn’t know me, and provided the ‘rules’ and encouraged people to sign up on the list of readers. Then I handed the stage to Jeanne who gave us a nice introduction to Dickens’ life, works, and enduring influence and then she read from Ch. 2, Bk. 1 of Hard Times, “Murdering the Innocents.” Next up was Great Expectations from another of our English and Writing profs. Several folks read from A Christmas Carol, one from David Copperfield, and Sara read excerpts from letters Dickens wrote to his friend and sometime collaborator, Wilkie Collins, which can be exceptionally funny.

We only got two additional takers who weren’t pre-signed up but all in all it worked out great as we went the whole hour. I, too, read from Hard Times, and as there is so much wonderful material there I had a hard time (ha ha) narrowing it down. I initially read from Ch. 15, Bk. 1, “Father and Daughter.” I read a fairly lengthy selection making sure to encompass Luisa’s all important ‘digression’ to her father while he is presenting Mr. Bounderby’s marriage proposal to her:

“There seems to be nothing there but languid and monotonous smoke. Yet when the night comes, Fire bursts out, father!” she answered, turning quickly.

I went near the middle of the pack and as we wound down and got no other takers but still had a few minutes left, I took the emcee’s prerogative and read a shorter section from Ch. 8, Bk. 1, “Never Wonder,” as I figured it would be good to end with the library scene and “these readers [who] persisted in wondering.”

Woman reading from her iPad

Dickens Read-a-Thon at Bishop Mueller Library, Briar Cliff University

More folks had shown up throughout the event, including the University President. All in all, I would say that it was a roaring success. More importantly, many others, including most of the English and Writing faculty, the president of WREN, and the librarians, thought so. They were still talking about it the next morning.

Success! And Happy 200th Mr. Dickens!


My friend Jess talked me into participating in JaPoWriMo, or January Poetry Writing Month. At least that is how I am parsing it out.

The idea is simply to write one poem a day. She insisted they could be a short as haiku and that there was no requirement for them to be any good. I am sharing them with her and my wife, of course and, so far, one or two with the odd other here and there.

Much of my month is taken up with my Grimm’s Fairy Tale class and editing and other magazine production duties putting together this year’s issue of the Briar Cliff Review. Thus, a couple have been about Grimm’s; I foresee one or more about editing; I have written a couple about books, those I’ve read and those I won’t be reading (end-of-2011 book post); one about meetings (after a long meeting on Friday); one about our SirsiDynix Symphony ILS (subject of said and several other meetings); one about not having a subject; and so on.

There is no need to worry—not much anyway— as I will not be sharing all of them with you here. Many of them are bad, and I doubt that any of them are actually good. But I agreed to commit to this writing a poem a day in an otherwise already quite busy month as I hoped that more writing, even if mostly tossed off, would help me in assorted ways as a poet and a writer. The bottom-line is that I am a lazy poet. Perhaps this will cultivate a habit, perhaps this will leave me with a few choice phrases or lines or ideas, perhaps nothing will come of it.

With all of that said, I would like to share two that I wrote in response to my Grimm’s class. The first was written about 15 minutes before the class met for the first time; the second was written this morning and is a conflation of “Snow-white and Rose-red” and “Little Snow White,” which we read for and discussed this past Friday, along with other generic thoughts on the role of “beauty” in the tales we’ve read so far (~10).


Grimm’s excitement today
Innocents start to play
Villains and ogres slay
Justice wins come what may

3 January 2012

Beauty for its own sake, enticement.
Or is it really entrapment?

The hunter spares her …
The wicked queen poisons her …
The dwarves domesticate her …
The prince wants her … dead and mute.

Snow-white. Rose-red. Two
Halves of the same girl.
A maiden on the edge
Of womanhood.

Tame the bear,
Emasculate the dwarf,
Remain kind to the vile.
Gentleness, purity, innocence

Retained. These are the steps to
Make oneself a woman.
Chaste, yet chargedly erotic.
Snow-white. Rose-red.


8 January 2012

I may spend some time with the second as it could undoubtedly be improved. But, considering that I wrote it in about 10 minutes this morning I can live with it.