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Showing posts from May 16, 2021

What then is useful to the bee: a poem by Karen Chamisso

  “Honeysuckle. So named because of the old but entirely erroneous idea that bees extracted honey therefrom. The honeysuckle is useless to the bee.”   What, then, is useful to the bee? My world,   penned in by human pride Allows me to see as I see Through the two eyes on either side   Of one nose – unlike the bee Who sports two eyes for domestic tasks And three ocelli To make impressionistic tracks   Among the flowering vegetation – What can I know About such kinds of navigation About what it’s like to go   About, laughing up your sleeve At the honeysuckle’s vain imposture? I don’t even bring in the sheeves. I lay on my sheets as useless as an oyster.      

The American blat

    Ferdinand Lundberg, in 1939, wrote a book about the sixty wealthiest families in America. He made the audacious claim that these families collectively owned and directed most of America’s wealth – her industrial capacity, her speculative/financial sector, her raw materials. He names the families and engages in the tedious geneological work of showing how marriage and strategic alliances maintain and expand fortunes that have their roots, many of them, in the 19 th  century. He goes there from the first sentence in the book, which proclaims: “The United States is owned and dominated today by a hierarchy of its sixty richest families, buttressed by no more than ninety families of lesser wealth.” He claims that behind the de jure democratic form of government is a de facto government, “absolutist and plutocratic.”   Now, it is a difficult business, tracking family fortunes. For one thing, “family” is a misleading category. Lundberg’s families are really more like the famous modern

On method: advice from the puppeteer

  In Kleist's essay, On the Marionette Theater, Kleist presents a dialogue between himself and a marionette master concerning theater and the relation of the marionette to the human actor. The master voices the idea that even human actors display their souls not in their voices but in the bodies and their movements. "Just look at that girl who dances Daphne", he went on. "Pursued by Apollo, she turns to look at him. At this moment her soul appears to be in the small of her back. As she bends, she look as if she's going to break, like a naiad after the school of Bernini. Or take that young fellow who dances Paris when he's standing among the three goddesses and offering the apple to Venus. His soul is in fact located (and it's a frightful thing to see) in his elbow." These examples are not neutral - they gather and explode in his next passage: " Misconceptions like this are unavoidable," he said, " now that we've eaten of the tree o

TSE and me

  Everybody has his or her year of genius, a yar in which neurons configure into revelations. For some it is at age five, for others, at age 65. Everything becomes a portal. You see your life globally. You see your life in a grain of sand or a raindrop. And you see, in a brilliant flash, the alien, strange, other-than-you life of the grain of sand or the raindrop. For me, that age was approximately fourteen. 1972, 1973 – ninth grade. In the summer between the eighth and ninth grade, I made a fair amount of pocket change, for a kid, bagging ice for my Dad. Dad owned an ice company, due to, well, the absurdity that ruled like a broken mirror’s curse over my Dad. The company went belly up in, I believe, 1975. For me, this money meant I could buy three things that helped nudge along my revelatory neuronal path: a television set, which I took into my room, a couple of Dylan albums, my first – Bringing it all back Home and Highway 61 – and a subscription to William Buckley’s National Review