Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Part of the Introduction on Milton and MacLeish

J. M.

I may have posted an earlier version of this already, but so be it if I have:
A moment's reflection on MacLeish’s dual roles as poet and public figure should lead readers to see that MacLeish not only knew the two roles, he also had the skill set to make good use of them. He was like Milton in these ways, for Milton was definitely both poet and public figure. However, where Milton wants to justify God's ways to humankind, MacLeish will argue that God's ways cannot be justified at all. Both Milton and MacLeish composed short lyrical poems, but also long, epic ones. They both therefore had to deal with myth and even to mythologize. In fact, the similitude of their similarity and the depth of their difference may very well have left MacLeish anxious about there being too much of Milton in MacLeish's filling of the two roles at least as well as Milton had, but also perhaps anxious to fill the two roles still better than Milton had, even while drawing attention away from Milton's influence. This article will explore these various possibilities.
Feel free to suggest improvements!

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Monday, March 25, 2019

MacLeish and Milton: Conclusions thus far . . .


In MacLeish's two roles – as a major poet and a major public figure – he was much like Milton. In the details, however come the differences, such as Milton justifying the ways of God and MacLeish saying it can't be done. Milton set himself a harder task, actually justifying God's actions down to the nitty-gritty details, and one cannot say that he succeeds. But neither does MacLeish succeed in his logical conundrum, that God is either not God or not good, for we are not epistemologically positioned to know the answer. Perhaps more interesting is the lack of symmetry between creation (Milton) and uncreation (MacLeish). Milton describes creation as a process by which the Spirit of God broods upon the pre-existing materials of chaos. MacLeish, though, implies creation from nothing because he presents an uncreation that results in "nothing at all." And to present the creatio of his poem "The End of the World" as even more original than Milton's creatio, he does not breathe even a whisper of a sigh that Milton might have influenced him in that poem – even though the influence is obvious.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

How Many Homi?


Here's a report by Kim Yoon-ho and Jung Myung-suk from the JoongAng Daily about a "Traditional Korean hoe [that] is a surprise international success" (March 23-24, 2019). The blacksmith Seok No-ki, who makes the hoe, is an overnight success, to use a cliché that's actually accurate this time.

This special gardening tool, pictured above, is called a "homi," and it has become very popular in the West over the past few years because its curved shape puts less strain on the wrist -- even if more strain is sometimes put upon the imagination, for example:
Seok's homi are 100 percent hand-made. If one or two of his neighbors in their 70s help, he can make up to 120 a day, while alone he can produce around 60. It takes about 30 minutes to make one.
So . . . working alone will have him making 60 per day. He's also said to be able to make one every 30 minutes working alone. That's two per hour working alone. If he worked alone a full 24 hours, he'd make . . .

You do the math.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Genesis 1.2 - Brooding Again

Brooding Again
Brown, Driver, Briggs

I hope this is large enough and clear enough for the eyes of all my readers. My instructions remain the same, or I can state them differently: Look in the bottom left-hand corner for "brooding."

You'll note that "brooding" isn't the only translation possibility, but I never said it was. I called it a commonplace translation in Jewish and Christian traditions.

And it is.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Genesis 1.2 Brooding

Brown, Driver, Briggs

Look in the lefthand column, bottom quarter, for the translation "brooding (and fertilizing), so Jer Quaest. in Gen. ed. Lag. 4 (reading 'marahaefeth')."

The abbreviation "Jer" is "Jerome" (not "Jeremiah").

Carter Kaplan requested this, and a whole lot more, but I don't have much time, so this might have to do.

Update: I've noticed that my BDB page doesn't expand enough to be read. If your BDB also doesn't expand enough, go to the Brooding link.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Terminologies of Terrorisms?


Here's an odd headline from the NYT (March 20, 2019):
Unmasking the roots of white terror
I wonder who comes up with these wordings? Can roots be 'masked'?  And shouldn't the word "terror" be "terrorism"? Maybe this is better:
Uprooting the roots of white terrorism
If you don't like "uprooting," how about "digging up" or "pulling up"? I'm not just being persnickety. I want to get the terminology right when I talk about something.

I know what the terrorism of ethnic nationalism is, and I know that it comes in every color of the rainbow coalition. The expression "White Terrorism" is obviously problematic if used to refer to Serbo-Croatian attacks against each other. Serbs and Croats are both white, but they do not band together against the also white Bosniacs.

So, we need to think about our terminology when we begin talking about such things as 'White' terrorism.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jaeuk Performs!

Our eldest, Jaeuk, performed last Saturday night in the Narnia Closet (should've been Narnia Cabinet? Ah, now, I've got it: Narnia Wardrobe), mostly vocals but some keyboard:

Here we stand, basking in Jaeuk's glory:

And more basking . . .

That's all folks!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

At Carter Kaplan's Request . . .

"Despite the perhaps disagreeable-sounding title, this interview - this never-before-seen scene of colonial life in America - is a gem, a not-to-be-missed opportunity found only in Kaplan's offer of this year's Emanations: Chorus Pleiades!"  -- Anonymous

"What Anon said. Any negativity is bullcrap!"  -- Ree Verb Berate

"What Anon said. Any negativity is bullcrap!"  -- Iter Rate

"What Anon said. Any negativity is bullcrap!"  -- Ree Iter Rate

Negative Reviews Below The Fold
Click Here


Monday, March 18, 2019

Henry Hart Milman

Henry Hart Milman

I have noted above that the image of God as a bird brooding over creation is a commonplace in the Jewish and Christian traditions because the Hebrew word merachephet in Genesis 1:2 translates as "brooding." In our post-Miltonic times, we even find that Milton's Genesis account can migrate rather far afield in its influence. Take this passage from Belshazzar: A Dramatic Poem, published in 1822 by the clergyman, historian, and poet Henry Hart Milman:
A dim oppression loads the air, and sounds
As of vast wings do somewhere seem to brood
And hover on the winds; and I that most
Should tremble for myself, the appointed prey
Of sin, am bow'd, as with enforced compassion,
To think on sorrows not mine own, to weep
O'er those whose laughter and whose song upbraids
My prodigality of mis-spent pity. (page 93)
This is clearly not a creation account, nor is it an uncreation account, unless in a metaphorical sense, for Belshazzar's reign is about to end, but we see Milton's influence, especially in the words "vast" and "wings."


Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Far Too Easy Pop Quiz

Flaming World

I think that the important words to apply to the lines below are Milton, uncreation, creation, and MacLeish, not necessarily in that order:
with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss

There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
How did you arrange the terms and lines? This is too easy, I know, but you guys have been working hard recently.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

About that Pop Quiz Yesterday . . .

Consistent or Inconsistent?
God is all good.
God is all knowing.
God is all powerful.
There is evil.
Some say these four statements are inconsistent, but how do they know? Our knowledge is finite. God's knowledge is infinite. God might have a good reason for allowing evil. That reason itself might be beyond our understanding.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Pop Quiz Today

Bored of Education?

Who wrote the lines below, what's the title, what's the genre, and what's wrong with the logic?
I heard upon his dry dung-heap
That man cry out who cannot sleep:
"If God is God He is not good,
If God is good He is not God;
Take the even, take the odd,
I would not sleep here if I could
Except for the little green leaves in the wood
And the wind on the water."
No, I'm not trying to foist my work off on you. I do know the answers.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

End of the West?

Andrew J. Bacevich

In Commonweal recently (March 5, 2019), Andrew J. Bacevich asks if we now live in "A World without the West," beginning as follows:
Does the West still exist? Most American politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals seem to think so, or at least they pretend to . . . . In its heyday, the West -- used more or less interchangeably with the phrase "free world" -- was much more than a conglomeration of countries. The term itself conjured up a multiplicity of images: peoples sharing a devotion to freedom and democracy; nations mustering the political and cultural cohesion to stand firm in a common cause; sacrifice and steadfastness in the face of evil . . . . For several decades after 1945, the West imparted legitimacy to U.S. claims of global leadership. Nations said to make up the West endorsed, or played along with, the notion that the United States was exceptional and indispensable. Endlessly reiterated in stump speeches and newspaper editorials, this proposition came to seem self-evidently true -- or at least expedient. Today, it is neither. Seven decades after World War II and three decades after the end of the Cold War, to pretend that something called the West, taking its cues from Washington, continues to play an organizing role in international politics is to indulge in a vast self-deception. It's time to see the world as it is, not as we might wish to remember it. The collapse of the Soviet Empire at the end of the 1980s robbed the West of its principal geopolitical rationale. Nominally, Western unity derived from common values; in reality, it derived from a common threat. Once the threat vanished, centrifugal forces were certain to make their appearance.
These "centrifugal forces" are probably of no surprise to readers of this blog, so I'll stop here. You can read more at the link, though you might have to pay for a subscription.

Much is said these days by many people of a new civil war in the US. I'm skeptical of that. More likely, to my mind, is a civil war in Europe. When the Islamists in Europe reach a tipping point in the spread of Islamism -- namely, radicalization at the root of Islam (not extremism at the margins) -- open killing will begin. One might think it already has.

Baby, you ain't seen nuthin' yet!


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Carter told me to do it . . .


Poem Surrealist

This is a poem
of un-creation
it reveals
strong influence
strange imagery
powerful counter-success
impressive imagery.

It all started here . . .


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ignorance is Matrimonial Bliss

Wedding Vowels?

Minister to Bride: Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?

Bride to Minister: Pardon, but I didn't quite catch the question.

Minister to Bride: Just say, "I do."

Bride to Minister: How's that spelled? D-u-e? D-e-w? Or d-o?

Groom to Minister: And what about e-y-e, a-y-e, or I? Which is it?

Minister to Couple: I now pronounce you incurably insane.


Monday, March 11, 2019

Traditional Nursery Ram

Ram It All!

I'd make a plucky peacock,
Big and fat.
Don't you ever mock
My whereabouts at!
For then, I'd get all steamed up,
Loud as a lout!
"Just tip me tup
And let me out!"


Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Mechanics of Style

Here's a sentence I'm still laboring (and belaboring) on:
This is a poem of uncreation, and it reveals both Milton's strong influence on MacLeish's strange imagery and MacLeish's powerful counter-success against Milton's impressive imagery.
The sentence still needs work, mostly in its vocabulary.

Anyone with anything to suggest?


Saturday, March 09, 2019

Mysticism: Mission Impossible?

Moebius Strip

How would a mystic know he has experienced union with God?

The mystic is finite. God is infinite.

Can the finite experience the infinite?


Friday, March 08, 2019

Theodicy in Job?

Monsters by Blake

I won't go into details, but might there be an unexpressed theodicy in the Book of Job? When Job asks God why God is punishing him, God famously replies with a series of questions about various animals, demanding that Job tell how their parts were put together.

Job cannot answer.

Might the unexpressed theodicy be this: If you, Job, do not know how these animals are designed and assembled, then how can you possibly understand the far more complex reasons as to why the totality is as it is?

Though a little hint as to the answer would be helpful . . .


Thursday, March 07, 2019

Prologue to Archibald MacLeish's "J.B."

Satan, aka Nickles, speaks in "'J. B.' – The Prologue," The Saturday Review, September 1, 1956:
Beauty's the Creator's bait,
Not the Uncreator's: his
Is Nothing, the unface of Nothing
Smiling with its not-there eyes. . . .
Nothing at all. . . Nothing ever. . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Never to have been. . . .
I cannot explain here why these lines are interesting, but I will get to the reason soon.


Wednesday, March 06, 2019

My Father's Headstone

My Father's Grave

He died nearly 20 years ago, but I guess we're supposed to speak well of the dead anyway - no statute of limitations applies to them - so allow me to say a few good things about Bradley:
1. He was a hard worker, the sort who could work long hours of physical labor and never get tired.

2. He taught himself to swim well, and he once or twice rescued some drowning individuals.

3. He saw I was starving because I couldn't digest baby formula, so he switched me to scrambled eggs.

4. His wife Dorothy once told me that he had taught her what love meant, and that means something.
If I thought long enough, I'd be able to come up with a few more, probably, and other people may want to chime in on this post, but be nice, okay?


Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Maternal Grandparents

Maternal Grandparents' Headstone
Salem Arkansas

I was looking for this headstone yesterday, but found the headstone of my maternal great-grandparents instead, which accompanied my poem Visitations.

I stand amazed at what one can find on the Internet. Maybe I could even find my own grave!

Almost . . .


Monday, March 04, 2019

Visitations: A Poem

We visit them each year, no special day,
Just drop in, unexpected, filled with ruth,
And never have they anything to say,
Nor we, to speak the honest gospel truth.

Perhaps we mumble a few pieties,
But they have surely heard it all before,
And from the horse's mouth direct to seize
What lies for us yet still beyond the door.

Our nothings said, we beg our leave to go,
Turn, step away, with graver thoughts ahead,
But soon forget what we had come to know,
The awful, artful silence of the dead.


Sunday, March 03, 2019

Mixed Company: The Avant-Gardes

Richard Kostelanetz announces the third edition of A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, which has entries by Carter Kaplan on Michael Butterworth and Herman Melville, as well as an entry about Carter Kaplan himself.

Buy this book because Richard and I share the same birthday!


Saturday, March 02, 2019

Wots YAWA? Not My Poem!


A childhood story in verse oft overheard, but never understood:
Nursery Crime
I'll tell you a stow'way
about Jack Annoy'Way,
and now my stow'ways begun.

I'll tell you annoy-there
about his bro-there,
and now my stow'ways done.
The whole story just stole away after its second stanza . . .


Friday, March 01, 2019

Apple apps: Engrish

In the Cloud
In the Fog?

Here they are, 'English' translations provided in this week's weekly email from Apple Watch, which sounds like an organization formed to keep an eye on Apple, but which actually seems to be an Apple timepiece, so we're not talking here about doing time but about keeping time:
1. All the big vessels, making UND click the "Like" iPhone photo shoot secrets.

2. Well how to edit photos.

3. Reporting also create your own songs on your iPad, Also found the sound of his own doing.

4. To take a fantastic videos on iPhone Kkultip and tricks that allow.

5. A great app idea that only my head The iPad into a reality.
As I've already noted above, I receive such messages once a week. I can't quite consider them spam because I like them for their inadvertent humor and suspect I could benefit through mining them for lines in "Language Poems"!

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Terrorists' god is an Evil god

Mark Nicol, writing for The Mail on Sunday, February 24, 2019, informs us that "SAS troops found the severed heads of 50 Yazidi sex slaves":
"In their hour of defeat, the jihadis' cruelty knew no bounds. They conducted a cowardly slaughter of these desperately unfortunate women as a final act of depravity and left their severed heads behind for us to find."
A soldier in the British SAS (Special Air Service) related this ghastly report to Mr. Nicol. And I say that the truth sometimes just forces itself to be expressed:
The terrorists' god is an evil god.
Make of it what you will, but can you read it right and yet disagree?


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The False Dissembler?

Satan is described in Paradise Lost 3.681:
So spake the false dissembler . . .
A dissembler is a dissembler, so a false dissembler is a non-dissembler, right?

So much for Milton's great epic! I'll never again trust a word of it! But WAIT, if Satan is a non-dissembler, then we CAN believe each and every single one of his very words. BUT whom are we to believe? Satan? Or Milton? OR does it not even matter?

Oh, this lit-crit business, so hard to get a handle on.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another Pun in Paradise Lost? Probably not.

The Grieslie King?
Tartini's Dream (1824)
by Louis-Léopold Boilly

Consider the unfallen angels' search for Satan in this passage of Book 4, Paradise Lost, borrowed from Dartmouth's Milton Reading Room:
[The band of angels went quickly from their consultation,]
In search of whom they sought: him there they found
Squat like a Toad, close at the eare of Eve; [ 800 ]
Assaying by his Devilish art to reach
The Organs of her Fancie, and with them forge
Illusions as he list, Phantasms and Dreams,
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
Th' animal spirits that from pure blood arise [ 805 ]
Like gentle breaths from Rivers pure, thence raise
At least distemperd, discontented thoughts,
Vaine hopes, vaine aimes, inordinate desires
Blown up with high conceits ingendring pride.
What I wish to ask - though I much doubt the actual possibility - is whether or not the "Toad" of line 800 might possibility be a pun on the German word "Tod," for "Tod" means death, and death is a thing that Satan brought into the world?

But I won't press this suggestion very far, as I doubt there is a pun. This query does, however, raise another question, a necessary one, namely, how do we recognize a genuine pun?


Monday, February 25, 2019

Mongolia Rocks!

This is astonishing music! It'll have you wishing you were Mongolian, which would be a good thing in this case since the band sings very nationalistic lyrics:

Yuve Yuve Yu

Wolf Totem

Click on them. Expand your horizons!


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Through Other's Eyes . . .

In an interesting NYT article - "At our core, emotions" (February 23-24, 2019) - Sy Montgomery describes her last meeting with an old friend:
A few years ago, I found myself in a [sad] situation . . . . My friend Octavia was old, sick and dying. We hadn't looked into each other's eyes for a long while - nearly a fifth of her life span. I came to say goodbye. When she caught sight of me, Octavia, with great effort, using some of the last of her limited strength, rose to greet me and enveloped me in her arms . . . . My friend and I had last shared an ancestor in the Precambrian Era - before limbs or eyes had evolved, back when practically everyone was a tube . . . . Octavia's mouth was in her armpits, she had no skeleton at all and her arms were equipped with 1,600 suckers. Octavia was a giant Pacific octopus. Yet she and I cared for each other - enough for both of us to delight in one last, tender, emotional embrace.
As I said, interesting. Interesting, what we're learning about animals, particularly what we're learning about their intelligence, intelligence that in some ways challenges our own. Maybe even exceeds our own . . .