I Opened Your Book

I opened your book and what did I read?
Whispers of heavenly death murmur’d I hear

Only an hour before I drowned a mortally wounded fledgling,
too young to die not having lived to fly.

Only after the god-play, huddled in silence
do I laugh and hear laughter
and pluck words like feathers from sleeping hours
.

I was there to drink all these tears
of unfathomable living and dying.

Montreal (Part One)

I love this city … at least, when it’s not winter.

I was riding the Metro toward downtown from Le Plateau-Mont-Royal , and a young man boarded my tram. He behaved as if he had some sort of mental disability. I’m no doctor, so I can’t be more specific.

His exuberance, however, was infectious. He was very excited to be going to McGill. He jerkily walked up and down the tram, laughing and incoherently rambling in a slurred speech. He walked up to me twice, looked me in the eye, smiled, and exclaimed, “I’m going to McGill!”

The other passengers smiled, as well. How could you not be happy for him?

The train’s loudspeaker signaled, “Prochain station … McGill.” When the train came to a stop, he proudly proclaimed, “I’m going to see my girlfriend in McGill!” and hopped off the train.

At any rate, here are some pictures of beautiful Montreal!

Word of the Day – Regicide

REGICIDE – (noun.): (1) one who kills, murders, or shares overt responsibility (as by acting as judge or executioner) for the death of a king especially to whom he is naturally subject (2) the killing or murder of a king

USING REGICIDE IN A SENTENCE

When the news broke of the regicide the night before, it was no surprise, since it was widely believed that the king was a real jerk.

Of course, I am a regicide, and I am proud of the fact, because the king deserved to die, and violently at that, and at my hand, because he had murdered my entire family in the dead of night.

Why don’t you, dear reader, create your own sentence using the word regicide in the comments below?!

WORD OF THE DAY

Word of the Day is a daily, or weekly, or bi-weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or perhaps even biannual feature where I define a word I stumbled upon in a book that was heretofore unknown to me and create several, oft clever, oft dim-witted, sentences employing it, to the amusement and ridicule of the general populace.

Weekly Ruminations

Volume Three

There are special nightmares for the daytime sleeper: little nervous dreams tossed into some brief restless moments of unconsciousness and breaking through the surface of the mind to become confused at once with the horror of some waking vision. Such are these awakenings, like an awakening in the grave, when one opens one’s eyes, stretched out rigid with clenched hands, waiting for some misery to declare itself; but for a long time it lies to suffocation upon the chest and utters no word.

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

Events stream past us like these crowds and the face of each is seen only for a minute … All work and all love, the search for wealth and fame, the search for truth, like itself, are made up of moments which pass and become nothing … So we live; a spirit that broods and hovers over the continual death of time, the lost meaning, the unrecaptured moment, the unremembered face, until the final chop that ends all our moments and plunges that spirit back into the void from which it came.

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

There is a lot of food for thought in Dame Murdoch’s (1919-1999) novel Under the Net. I’m quite fond of an afternoon nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon or a power nap after a long day at work. But if you nap too long or too deeply, you feel haunted by nightmares only to wake and not know who you are or why you’re here, and you wonder what masterful enterprise in which you may have consumed yourself while flushing all those daytime hours, full of hope and promise, down the drain.

She also eloquently writes about those days, sometimes even weeks, on end, when you can’t seem to focus, or concentrate, or observe in impartial solitude, when you’re eaten up by desire, when your mind speeds like a roller coaster off the rails. You try to hold onto the moment but the gale force of it overpowers you, so you try to seize the next, and it, too, flies out of your grip … and then the next, and so on. And it seems as if your thoughts are hounded by demons out of your control, and you hope for angels whom may one day lift you out of the sludge … and then it happens.

There is rest. There is peace. The sun burns and purifies you, and the sky is cloudless because you float above the clouds. And you wonder why it took so long, why it couldn’t have happened before, and why you had sunk into the sludge, anyway.

*****

 

*****

Word of the Week

heresiarch: (n.) : an originator or chief advocate of a heresy.

I recently read the word heresiarch in an odd piece of fiction by Borges called Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius:

Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number or men.

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

Weekly Ruminations

Volume Two

In Oreanda they sat on a bench not far from the church, looked down on the sea, and were silent. Yalta was barely visible through the morning mist, white clouds stood motionless on the mountain-tops. The leaves of the trees did not stir, cicadas called, and the monotonous, dull noise of the sea, coming from below, spoke of the peace, of the eternal sleep that awaits us. So it had sounded below when neither Yalta nor Oreanda were there, so it sounded now and would go on sounding with the same dull indifference to the life and death of each of us, there perhaps lies hidden the pledge of our eternal salvation, the unceasing movement of life on earth, of unceasing perfection. Sitting beside the young woman, who looked so beautiful in the dawn, appeased and enchanted by the view of the magical décor—sea, mountains, clouds, the open sky—Gurov reflected that, essentially, if you thought of it, everything was beautiful in this world, everything except for what we ourselves think and do when we forget the higher goals of being and our human dignity.

The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov

“Everything was beautiful in this world …” Well, perhaps during Chekhov’s lifetime (1860-1904) this might have been true. I find his conviction difficult to swallow, now that our Mother Earth has been ruined by industrialization and poached of all her vitality and goodness. Nevertheless, what he says is true that if we remain true to our more noble impulses as good stewards, as empathetic and mindful creatures that both require and flourish in an environment more or less free from the filth and contamination into which we recklessly and with unforgivable abandon infect it, then and only then will the world be truly beautiful. But he states his case as if waving off our present troubles as a trifle, as if only a slight adjustment to our sensibilities will set the whole thing straight.

This human dignity about which he speaks seems to me out of reach … and I feel we cannot grow wings fast enough to avoid catastrophe.

But this is a love story! And an eloquent one at that. So we mustn’t be too distracted by the ills of the world to appreciate the artistry with which he paints true love between a man and a woman, in all its turbulence, exaltation, and danger.

*****

PRICKLY PUFFER FISH

Don’t touch the prickly puffer fish!
Though to heal is what you wish!
She bursts with pride; bursts with pain,
Let not the gall prick your vein!

Swim little puffer fish! Your poisoned spears
will deflate by turns into salty tears.

 

*****

Word of the Week

heresiarch: (n.) : an originator or chief advocate of a heresy.

I recently read the word heresiarch in an odd piece of fiction by Borges called Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius:

Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number or men.

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

Weekly Ruminations

Volume One

“Now the drawings you make from us, they look exactly like us,” she reminded
me, smiling in triumph; and I recognised that this was indeed just their defect. When I drew the Monarchs I couldn’t, somehow, get away from them—get into the character I wanted to represent; and I had not the least desire my model should be discoverable in my picture. Miss Churm never was, and Mrs. Monarch thought I hid her, very properly, because she was vulgar; whereas if she was lost it was only as the dead who go to heaven are lost—in the gain of an angel the more.

The Real Thing by Henry James

They had accepted their failure, but they couldn’t accept their fate. They had bowed their heads in bewilderment to the perverse and cruel law in virtue of which the real thing could be so much less precious than the unreal …

The Real Thing by Henry James

There’s a lot of things going on in The Real Thing. One conclusion I draw is that the artist is concerned not with depicting reality, but subverting reality. In other words, art is the bending of reality in some imaginative form envisioned by the artist. Art is the crossroads of imagination and reality. Or, perhaps better, reality is the clay from which the artist molds his or her imaginative vision. Can we really imagine anything that is not rooted in reality? Reality and imagination are forever engaged in a dialectic dance within the artist’s mind.

*****

WHAT?

What struck us down?
Accident?
The blunted knives of miserable fortune?
Wounds unhealed freshly cut open?

Scabs savagely turned out by the blade?
But not love—
Certainly not love.

 

*****

Away I turn to the holy, the unspeakable, the secretive Night. Down over there, far, lies the world—sunken in a deep vault—its place wasted and lonely. In the heart’s strings, deep sadness blows. In dewdrops I’ll sink and mix with the ashes.

Hymns to the Night, Novalis

Word of the Week

Afflatus: (n.) : a divine imparting of knowledge or power : supernatural or overmastering impulse : INSPIRATION

I read the word afflatus in the The Real Thing by Henry James. It was in the last paragraph:

When all this hung before me the afflatus vanished—my pencil dropped from my hand. My sitting was spoiled and I got rid of my sitters, who were also evidently rather mystified and awestruck.

Weekly Ruminations

Volume Zero

“Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”
— Last sentence of Araby, by James Joyce.

I read Araby a couple days of ago. I read, then re-read, then re-read yet again the last sentence. Why vanity? I can understand disillusionment and disappointment, but what does vanity have to do with his love for Mangan’s sister and not finding a suitable present to bring back to her?

I think the narrator is imposing his adult consciousness on the memory of his boyhood. He “sees himself” … the words suggest that he is coloring the memory through the lens of manhood. The narrator is all too conscious of his station in life–a man of meager means, born to the lower classes and to a working class family that struggled to survive.

Perhaps Araby represents to him a promised land given by birthright to the rich. He both strives for it and is repelled by it because he is both proud of and detests his heritage.

*****

SOLITUDE

I made my way back to the forest called Solitude.

I play the tops of trees
like piano keys.

 

*****

“What is needed is this, and this alone: solitude, great inner loneliness. Going into oneself and not meeting anyone for hours – that is what one must arrive at. Loneliness of the kind one knew as a child, when the grown-ups went back and forth bound up in things which seemed grave and weighty because they looked so busy, and because one had no idea what they were up to.

And when one day you realise that their preoccupations are meagre, their professions barren and no longer connected to life, why not continue to look on them like a child, as if on something alien, drawing on the depths of your own world, on the expanse of your own solitude, which itself is work and achievement and a vocation? Why wish to exchange a child’s wise incomprehension for rejection and contempt, when incomprehension is solitude, whereas rejection and contempt are ways of participating in what, by precisely these means, you want to sever yourself from?”

Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet

Words of the Day – Solipsism and Neologism

Solipsism and neologism are two words that, every so often, I read in a book, look up in the dictionary, nod sagaciously at the definition … and then quickly forget.

Hence this post.

Merriam Webster defines solipsism like this:

SOLIPSISM – (noun): (1) an epistemological theory that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and states (2) extreme indulgence of and concern with the self at the expense of social relationships especially as expressed in a failure of artistic communication

I think solipsism is generally used nowadays in the negative sense of selfishness and ego-centrism. As an example:

“It’s also why the picture of Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings—his anger, his narcissism, his solipsism—was so familiar to us, as well.”
— Brett Kavanaugh and the Private School Pecking Order

USING SOLIPSISM IN A SENTENCE
I will now attempt to use the word solipsism in my own sentences:

Her solipsistic posture is an unpierceable armor against cooperation.

The theory of solipsism suggests that the apple before me is not real but a projection of my own consciousness.

*

Merriam Webster defines neologism in this way:

NEOLOGISM – (noun) (1) a new word, usage, or expression (2) <psychology> a new word that is coined especially by a person affected with schizophrenia, is meaningless except to the coiner, and is typically a combination of two existing words or a shortening or distortion of an existing word

Some more recent examples of neologisms might include: spam, app, troll, metrosexual, and staycation.

Here are couple of sentences using the word neologism conceived by yours truly:

It follows that the word neologism was once itself a neologism.

The man who heard monsters under his bed referred to their incessant chattering with a neologism of his invention: grurbitzing.

Why don’t you, dear reader, create your own sentence using the words solipsism and neologism in the comments below?!

WORD OF THE DAY

Word of the Day is a daily, or weekly, or bi-weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or perhaps even biannual feature where I define a word I stumbled upon in a book that was heretofore unknown to me and create several, oft clever, oft dim-witted, sentences employing it, to the amusement and ridicule of the general populace.

Word of the Day – Ebullition

EBULLITION – (noun.): (1) a sudden violent outburst or display (2) the act, process, or state of boiling or bubbling up

USING EBULLITION IN A SENTENCE

After the prime minister effaced the law of the land regarding a citizen’s right to not wear pants on Thursdays, there was a horrific ebullition from the general populace that manifested itself in riots on an untold scale.
The unseemly ebullition from the car mechanic after I told him he was a crook was both telling and frightening (and it put a wrench in my afternoon plans).
The fetid ebullition of my concoction of diet coke, rum, and battery acid was a good indication that I should not drink it.
When the much-maligned high school football team–The Bixbury High Hermit Crabs–won their first game in twelve seasons, the ebullition from the crowd was indescribably joyous.

Why don’t you, dear reader, create your own sentence using the word ebullition in the comments below?!

WORD OF THE DAY

Word of the Day is a daily, or weekly, or bi-weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or perhaps even biannual feature where I define a word I stumbled upon in a book that was heretofore unknown to me and create several, oft clever, oft dim-witted, sentences employing it, to the amusement and ridicule of the general populace.