Aug 132018
 

Why should I let the toad work 
Squat on my life? 
Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork 
And drive the brute off? 

Why should I let the toad work 
Squat on my life? 
Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork 
And drive the brute off? 

Six days of the week it soils 
With its sickening poison – 
Just for paying a few bills! 
That’s out of proportion. 

Lots of folk live on their wits: 
Lecturers, lispers, 
Losers, loblolly-men, louts- 
They don’t end as paupers. 

Lots of folk live up lanes 
With fires in a bucket, 
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines. 
They seem to like it. 

Their nippers have got bare feet, 
Their unspeakable wives 
Are skinny as whippets – and yet 
No one actually starves

Ah, were I courageous enough 
To shout, Stuff your pension
But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff 
That dreams are made on: 

For something sufficiently toad-like 
Squats in me, too; 
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck, 
And cold as snow, 

And will never allow me to blarney 
My way of getting 
The fame and the girl and the money 
All at one sitting. 

I don’t say, one bodies the other 
One’s spiritual truth; 
But I do say it’s hard to lose either, 
When you have both.

 

Jul 192018
 

A pronoun is a kind of withdrawal from naming.
Because naming is heavy, naming may be slightly shaming.
We live much more lightly than this,
we address ourselves allusively in our minds –
as “I” or “we” or “one” – part of a system
that argues with shadow, like Venetian blinds.
Speaking of Venice, called “the Shakespeare of cities” by a friend of mine,
reminds me of how often the Sonnets misprint their for thine:

beware the fog in Venice.
Beware those footsteps that stop in a hush.
I used to think I would grow up to be a person whose reasoning was deep,
instead I became a kind of brush.
I brush words against words. So do we follow ourselves out of youth,
brushing, brushing, brushing wild grapes onto truth.

 Comments Off on Anne Carson: Reticent Sonnet
Jul 172018
 

A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened… Totalitarianism demands, in fact, the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.  The friends of totalitarianism… usually tend to argue that since absolute truth is not attainable, a big lie is no worse than a little lie. It is pointed out that all historical records are biased and inaccurate, or on the other hand, that modern physics has proven that what seems to us the real world is an illusion, so that to believe in the evidence of one’s senses is simply vulgar philistinism. A totalitarian society which succeeded in perpetuating itself would probably set up a schizophrenic system of thought, in which the laws of common sense held good in everyday life and in certain exact sciences, but could be disregarded by the politician, the historian, and the sociologist. 

 Comments Off on George Orwell: from The Prevention of Literature (1946)
Jul 042018
 

In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.  In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.  And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.

 Comments Off on Pico Iyer: …nothing is more urgent than sitting still