Saturday, October 24, 2020

Un-Entitled

Un-Entitled

The story of a book whose title is abruptly taken from it shortly before printing and whose plot is set in motion as the book sallies forth against a rapidly approaching nameless fate and breaks out into the world in search of an appropriate name while calling itself Entitled, which offends those whom it encounters and causes no end of misunderstanding . . .

Friday, October 23, 2020

Last Things

First things, last things, and things in between are waiting out yonder for us to fill in our spaces. I thus get poems like this one:

P.S. Eliot

As afterthought to Extra Pound,
I'm sent post scriptum all around,
post haste indeed, as very well,
through water high, through deepest hell,
through fire and ice, through ending, found!

There is therefore now not just an Extra Pound, but also even a P.S. Eliot! We find these two final lost ones hiding in Meinong's Jungle, pursued by impossible beasts . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Execrable Limerick

Here's a limerick that'll make you think twice about those unacknowledged legislators of the world:

Ichorous

There once was an old limericker,
whose song made you quit sipping liquor:
"Oh rum, rum-rum, rummy,
gone bad in my tummy,
an ichor made sickest still sicker!"

This ought to turn anyone's stomach. Ah, the legislative power of poetry! Should we call for a recount?

By the way, is there a pun on "I, Chorus"? There is a song, and I do - like Whitman and Dylan - contain multitudes.

But Shelley comes close to the demonic, at times, and I am not Legion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Hello member teacher

I've recently received an email from a reputable journal that I've published with in the past. Their emails are always in Korean, but each one comes equipped with a translation function, so an immediate translation is always available, though not always entirely accurate. After a brief greeting ("Hello member teacher"), the journal confided in me a secret, namely:

We are conspiring for thesis to be published in Volume 30, Volume 3 of the Registered Academic Journal. If you wish to appear on the paper 30 No. 3 Friday, 20 November Our Society Online Journals and Papers Management System (Please give me the complete contribution through). Please refer to the "Submission Guidelines for Manuscripts in English" and "Guidelines for Manuscript Submission" in Volume 30, Issue 2 of this journal.

I can't see the need for this conspiratorial approach. Everything looks above board, albeit rather awkwardly worded. But there is, ostensibly, some small problem, for I'm told:

Then, I will wait for the member teachers to be imprisoned.

Imprisoned? Imprisoned? Something has surely been grossly mistranslated here, but this presents merely a small problem since no one could possibly imagine that prison awaits scholars for some (un)scholarly reason or other.

Here's the original Korean: "그럼, 회원선생님들의 옥고를 기다리겠습니다." The journal needs a better translation engine, if such there be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Daze of Yore Explained

The odd word "yore" comes down to us from the days of yore. In those days of yore, one spoke like this: "The days of 'yore.'" Ain't nobody talk like that these days of non-yore. Anyways, I hope I've clarified this old word for you'uns. You're welcome. Here's a poem to demonstrate the use of "Yore":

Days of Yore

Once upon the olden days of yore,
before Vikings shed for gold much gore,
before war taught to sing
of the great warrior king,
one must admit, life was such a bore.

I don't zackly agree with this poem's message, but jus' 'member, "Yuh don' write a poem. Yuh find one."

Monday, October 19, 2020

Dime Store, Damn Store

I haven't had much time to work on my poetry and fiction during these Covid-19 days that have stretched into weeks, months, and . . . fears of years? But time won't wait for me, so I can't wait for time. I have to keep practicing the combining of words with rhythm and rhyme. I did that last year, and the number of limericks reached 106, not counting the poems that didn't deal with Extra Pound, nor the poems that were not limericks, obviously. Here is a new one, a limerick, though not of Extra Pound:

Differ a Dime's Worth?

Once upon a local, standard time,
a man took pen up, rhythm to un-rhyme
of every rhyming couplet
from every rhyming bucket
'cept bucket-couplet rhyme, not worth a dime!

How does that sound? It's not terrible, I think. But I need another project. That way, I accomplish something of substance. Arguably.

Insight: One does not write a poem; one finds it.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Resisting Islamism in France

The French president Emmanuel Macron recently spoke out explicitly against Islamism, vowing to confront it head-on and ensure that it accept secularism or stay out of France. Ayaan Hirsi Ali observes:

That Macron even gave an anti-Islamism speech was itself a sign of how fast the debate is moving in France. Five years ago, when Fox News referred to ‘no-go zones’ in Paris, the city’s mayor threatened to sue. Now we have an avowed centrist like Macron warning that the ‘final goal’ of the ‘ideology’ of Islamism is to ‘take complete control’ of society. Anyone making such arguments just a few years ago would have been condemned by the left as an extremist. Macron is promising a law on ‘Islamist separatism’, restricting home-schooling of Muslims and demanding that Islamic groups in receipt of French state funding will have to sign a ‘secular charter’. (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "The significance of Macron’s war on Islamism," The Spectator)

Hirsi Ali goes on to suggest several practical steps that could be taken, such as cutting off money from foreign powers to Islamist groups within France, strengthening immigration laws, repatriating asylum-seekers who incite violence, particularly violence against women, dissolving Islamic organizations whose principles clash with the French Republic, disbanding subversive Islamist groups, and generally making France an unpleasant place for Islamists.

For more, click here.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Time on th' acrostic . . .

I read another great essay, "This Side of Paradise" (Notre Dame Magazine, Autumn 2020), which is described as an "uplifting saga of . . . one young man's quest to reveal John Milton's secret code" in Paradise Lost. The young man in quest of an answer to his question of acrostics in Milton's epic poem, Miles Folsom, tells us this:

In class we learned that John Milton hid the acrostic SATAN in his epic poem Paradise Lost. The poem recounts a heavenly battle between angels that results in the fall of man when the defeated Satan convinces Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. After class, I went straight back to the dorm and sat next to my bed. I intended to search the work for other acrostics — letters across lines of the poem that spell out a word or a phrase. With a ruler in one hand and Paradise Lost in the other, I dove in. I was dumbstruck when, 38 lines in, I discovered the acrostic THOTH alongside the first mention of Satan. I dropped the ruler and leaned back against my bunk in disbelief. Could it really be that easy? Scholars have been studying this poem for 350 years. Did I just discover something?

Note that this young man's dorm room was a prison cell, and he had entered prison at 16 for dealing in drugs and related crimes, but had turned away from all that and reformed himself. What he wanted most at this point was an education. He was about to get one.

Once again, I urge you to read a long essay. This young man, Miles Folsom, has the tenacity that we also saw in Tom Blodgett.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Peter Hastings Falk on Tom Blodgett

I just finished reading an extraordinary essay by Peter Hastings Falk in the art journal Discoveries in American Art on the even more extraordinary artist "Tom Blodgett (1940-2012)": 

[He] quietly created an extraordinary body of work — large drawing-paintings — that stand out among the most original and compelling in the history of American art during the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st. In 2000 at age sixty he reflected, "I have to realize the transcendence of this kind of place, this kind of aloneness, this kind of being left more than alone. More than I was alone in the 1960s or 1970s or even the 1980s. This new alone — That is more than alone. That is being left. Left. And I’m going to transcend it." Yet when he died of cancer in 2012 he was virtually unknown, frustrated that the deus ex machina that he always felt would somehow arrive to bring him national recognition had never shown up.

That's the thing about the god of the machine. Not being omniscient, he seldom shows up on time, and was late in this instance by about eight years (or maybe only two years, for this essay dates from December 2014). For his own part, Blodgett didn't help much to get the god's positive attention. But I've said enough. For the detailed story of this great artist, click on the article title above, or more conveniently here, and read this astonishing essay.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

On Good Reviews and Heartfelt Thanks

I recently wrote to a historian friend to thank him for his suggestions on a few poems among those published:

By the way, the poems you helped me with - a sonnet with "roost" and a rhymed poem "Visitations" ("horse's mouth") - and some other poems along with those, were published in August in the eighth of Carter Kaplan's Emanations anthology series (Octo-Emanations). Here's a brief line on my poems from a review of the entire anthology:

The verse and poetry section is always a little of everything. Horace Jeffery Hodges' three sonnets open the section, "The Hearing Ear," and they are very clever and well done.

I pasted my reaction, plus some words of irony, to that review:

Nice to hear, even if only a line. Not many people read poems, I guess. Poetry is the old maid of literature. An embarrassment allotted a back room upstairs. You have to take care of her because she's family, but you hope she'll stay put and not come out of her room to attempt conversation with all the married folk.

My historian friend replied strictly to the positive words of praise, though adding a hopeful reading of the virus quarantine:

Congratulations on the review. One good line is worth an infinite number of mediocre ones, in reviews as well as in poetry. Perhaps Covid will inspire more people to write poetry, to fill the time if for no better reason. And those who write it might read it, which would make them different from many historians.

He's right, I think, about the worth of one good line of a review as well as one good line of poetry, but I am skeptical that people will write and read more poetry during this Covid-19 era. My friend's likely also skeptical, but couldn't pass up the chance to needle fellow historians, and maybe humanities scholars in general. So many scholarly works in print, so few scholars reading them.

Where's the poetic justice in all this?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Per Change, To Dream

I keep having long dreams of the Ozarks, strange tales of places I know. My mother's small town of Salem, Arkansas becomes Peaceton, my father's Viola, Violation. I'm stuck between the two, but their dream-inspired names don't entirely reflect their natures.

This awakened side of the dreams, I could play around with the names of other towns and townships in my area of the Ozarks, and maybe come up with some narrative tale to tell . . .

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Right to Insult!

I had meant for the poem below, previously seen on this, my blog, to appear with my other poems as the second of International Incidents (the first being "I. Attend," a poem dedicated to my friend, Eric Walsh, the Canadian ambassador to Korea), but I must have sent it too late.

I recall looking for it in my poetry folders, and I did finally locate it somehow, and I did send it along, but it must not have reached the editors' eyes early enough.

Anyway, I wrote this poem in hopes of getting an unnamed, but major politician's interest and getting him to insult me in return:

II. Insultry Limerick

There once was a man called Sir Trumpet
who thought ev'ry girl was a strumpet.
He was starting to dodder,
for he took his own daughter
for a hoe in his garden, dadgummit!

As you see, my insultry limerick could have gotten my poems lots of attention, but such was not to be.

I remain The Great Unknown . . .

Monday, October 12, 2020

North Wishes Global Warming on South

Hostility still rages from the North toward the South:

The Northern leader used his speech to express a "warm wish" to the South.

Obviously a malicious wish that climate change wreak its havoc on a hotter South. Moreover, my hard copy of the Korea JungAng Daily shows this headline:

"North Korea unveils huge new ICBM"*

Immediately below that headline appears a photo of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. He does look bigger.


*International Constipation of Bowel Movements

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Food for Thought

 Here's a poem by Michael Butterworth that I can entirely identify with:


09.04.14


Little Thinking

And Much Drinking

Always end up drunk,

Even though both try

Very hard

Every day

Not to.


Much Drinking will be

okay

Until Little Thinking

Forgets

And buys a can,

Then Much Drinking

Will have one too.


Little Thinking will sober

up but

Much Drinking

Will be unable to stop,

And so Little Thinking

Will have another.


In this way

They pass the day.


And that surely says all that need be said on how one sets out not to go on a drunk, but goes on one anyway.

This poem is from pages 180-181 of Kaplan's Octo-Emanations.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Medicine of the Future Perfect?

Even a health guru must sometimes learn from an experience of failure, such that the guru will have learned a truth in time to backpedal before harming anyone outside the immediate family, for example, Michael Butterworth's father, who 'learned' at age 20 that gazing directly at the sun would heal one's eyes of their afflictions, a 'truth' that was literally 180 degrees at variance with the real truth, namely, that turning away from the sun and gazing in that opposite direction would better prevent afflictions of the eyes.

This has nothing necessarily to do with food, but Butterworth's father combined the solar teaching with teachings about food and health, and he learned his lesson about the falsity of the solar teaching by trying it on his brother and temporarily damaging his brother's eyes.

Butterworth would perhaps suggest that his father learned merely a narrow lesson about direct sunlight's effect on eyes, but not on the rest of the body, for his father insisted that his children practice sunbathing even when science had proven the causal link to skin cancer.

Much of what Butterworth writes on his father's obsession with health is amusing, even at times laughable, until one remembers that the children were forced into sharing their father's obsessions, and it's then not so funny, as Butterworth lets his readers know.

Butterworth's essay can be found on pages 221-232 of Kaplan's Octo-Emanations.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Critiquing Capitalism?

I just finished reading "A Critique of Capitalism" by Carter Kaplan, who has written what would appear to advertise itself as a monograph on economics, but is in fact one of Kaplan's Bronson Bodine tales, the type of tale that always packs a lot of story into few pages, and, come to think of it, the Bodine tales often do amount to economic treatises with their wealth of national and international intrigue, but this story confines itself to Bronson's relationship with his father, and an odd-father, at that, for he spends the latter half of his life on earth living in one of the aisles of a discount store, where Bronson also lives on weekends, securing his father's 'visitation' rights, I reckon, but it all comes crashing down on them, one fine morning, when . . .

Sorry, you gotta read the story for that.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

M-A Berthier's Great Adventures

Curious to acquaint myself with the writing of the man who had praised my "three sonnets [as] very clever and well done" (Berthier, Amazon Reviews to Octo-Emanations [2020]), I visited the excerpt from his sequel to his Some Rumor of Strange Adventures, this excerpt appearing in the anthology itself (Octo-Emanations [2020] 117-132), and I'm tempted to write the same words for him that he wrote for me: "very clever and well done." Beyond that, I hesitate to say much, for fear of giving away plot spoilers. Suffice it to say that Berthier writes with the graceful confidence of a man who knows what he's talking about, as though he isn't entirely unacquainted with at least some of the things at which his protagonist appears to excel.

Reader of this blogpost, go thou and read, if thou be'st born to great insights . . .

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

On Writing Miltonic Sonnets

One Milton scholar I know couldn't activate the Octo-Emanations function for looking inside the book, so I sent my Miltonic sonnets to him, and he responded:

They're certainly Miltonic, and the effect is arresting. Apart from respecting and admiring them, I'm not sure what I make of them yet, although I now recall there was a time when I pondered, as a project/experiment, writing in a past idiom "now," to see what effect it produced. Well, now I've apprehended it and at some point hopefully I'll comprehend it! A fuse has been lit but I don't know how long it is...

As for me, writing in Miltonic style is relatively easy because I grew up in a region, the Ozarks, that used the King James Bible, and nearly everybody I knew there could pray in King James English because they read solely that Bible and memorized its passages.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Follies of My Youth . . .

One of the many follies of my youth was my membership in an anti-fraternity known as the NoZe Brotherhood. We did satirical things to needle our alma mater, Baylor University. My pseudonym was Brother AgNoZetic, so I was, naturally, Keeper of the NoZe Prayer, a petition to Elmo, the lighting god, which went like this, the parentheses indicating the congregants repetition of my words (repeat):

Compensate Elmo,
(Compensate Elmo,)
Hope wake I,
(Hope wake I)
Before die I,
(Before die I,)
If keep to NoZe My Elmo to pray I,
(If keep to NoZe My Elmo to pray I,)
Sleep to down me lay I now. 
(Sleep to down me lay I now.)
Achoo!

I prefaced the prayer with the words, "Every head bowed, every eye closed," a ritualistic expression that preceded nearly every prayer I ever heard in a Baptist context. I also developed the extended sneeze at the close of the prayer, accompanied by the famous Baylor Bear Claw, which came crashing down at the very end of the sneeze. And if Elmo disappoints you, then just recite in reverse.

We were a tempest in a pink teapot, a Fillmore Know-Nothing party of picaresque antiheroes who wore Groucho Marx noses and made mischief in the land.

A long time ago . . .

Monday, October 05, 2020

Thrice is a charm . . .

"Third time's a charm"? "Thrice" is more charming.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Fountain Filled with Blood

Here's a rather gory literary image, the product of a Protestant mind dwelling upon the salvific blood of Jesus:

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

There's more, but I'll not quote more. You can find the entire hymn here. The image in my mind was rather different from the one in the mind of an artist who painted the scene as he saw it, which is available here.

The contrast to mine is that I see Emmanuel lying in a hospital bed giving blood through numerous tubes that all lead to a fountain into which they express themselves with such force that a flood of that crimson tide bursts high up into the air and rains down upon the sinners in a mysterious way that does not stain them, but rather, washes them clean of all stain.

Now, that would be a thing to see!

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Octo-Emanations: First Review

Carter Kaplan informs us that the first review of Octo-Emanations has posted at Amazon, and I see from visiting via the link, that the reviewer, M-A Berthier, has some kind words for at least some of my poems:

The verse and poetry section is always a little of everything. Horace Jeffery Hodges' three sonnets open the section, "The Hearing Ear," and they are very clever and well done.

That's nice to hear, even though it's just one line.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Soon to See Print: Finnegan's 'Woke'

And you thought Finnegan's Wake was unreadable!

Thursday, October 01, 2020

The Unreadable Novel

"I didn't read halfway through Finnegan's Wake, and gave up."

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Almost a Quote . . .

"History is a nightmare, but we can't wake up."

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Filthy Lucre

Find a penny,

pick it up.

All the day,

you'll have good luck.



And probably some corona virus, as well, if not something worse.

I wonder . . . have past epidemics ever been carried by cash?

Monday, September 28, 2020

Banksian Brainy Bee

The freelance science journalist Elizabeth Preston tells us that bees with specialized diets seem to have larger brains than those bees that have complex social behaviors, which means that these big-brained bees don't share meals, I reckon. The particular bee Preston singles out to identify is Panurgus banksianus (not actually an all-around urge for a Banksy mural, despite the name), otherwise known as the large shaggy bee, an insect that keeps itself to itself, living alone in burrows throughout the sandy grasslands of Europe, listening to Neil Diamond's Solitary Man, and subsisting on EU social welfare. Just kidding. It lives on a diet of yellow-flowered members of the aster family, stars of the plant kingdom.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Make, Do, and Solve

One of my students, intending to say something positive about computers, opened a body paragraph with these words (and note my underlining):

"On the one hand, computers make things efficient when we do things because they quickly solve things that we do not know."

The thought is comforting, somehow, to know that somewhere in the world, a computer - or several - is working hard to solve things that I do not know. Is it doing this especially for me?

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Anagoglin Treasure

Anagoglin Up That Hill
For G.F., Critic

The young surveyor asked the elder man
if he knew where that corner marker lay.
Said the elder, "You'd do well to stay
here and forget that ever ill-turned plan

to divide up the world beyond that hill,
for wildness begins there, way out yonder,
where you start to wonder as you wander
in that forest thick as night, through deep still-

ness that sorely undertakes your measure."
But young man, ears blocked to never listen,
filled with names of distant lands to christen,
lit out for his anagoglin treasure.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Natural Order

Did you ever wonder how this muddle of 'scientific' terms was selected to identify the natural order of living things:

kingdom
phylum
class
order
family
genus
species

The only word that looks at all essentially scientific is "phylum." Oh, maybe also "genus." Okay, also species, if we're going to loosen the term "species" enough to ignore its various nonscientific meanings.

Anyway, how were these chosen? Anybody know?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Old Internet Acquaintance Reading My Books . . .

I sometimes receive messages from people I got to know even some twenty years ago through this blog or other internet service, and the man who wrote the email below had been out of contact about ten years but wrote to tell me that he's been reading my published stories:

Hello good sir! I hope this finds you and yours as well as can be in these interesting times!

I just wanted you to know that I have read The Uncanny Story --- LOVED IT!! It was a lot of fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interexuality and the meta stuff .... so much fun, though I shall henceforth avoid smokehouses.....

I had problems with Amazon letting me read The Bottomless Bottle of Beer at first, but the problems are now straightened out, so now I'm going back to that tale, having moved it to the top of my list! Enjoying it so far .... and you had me at Old Pecular...;)

I'm gratified to hear that he's liked my stories so much. If only everyone would discover the stories I've published and reach the same conclusion . . .

A link to the Bottomless Bottle is found in the upper right-hand column of this blog.