Monday, April 30, 2018

A Saying on Cheating, by a Man Long Gone

My eighth-grade science teacher, Mr. Coy Ferguson, used to quote this adage:
"He who cheats, cheats he who."
Mr. Ferguson was one of my best teachers, and I still remember things he said. I used to go and see him in his little town of Oxford, Arkansas, about 10 miles south of my hometown of Salem.

He died while I was pursuing an education off in the world somewhere, so I never got to see him after I went away to distant lands to study for my higher degrees.

Since he died in 1997, according to this gravestone that I've found, I reckon I was in Australia, halfway around the world.

RIP, Mr. Ferguson. I'm only twenty years late.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Big Hominid Underestimates Me!

In a blogpost Kevin Kim posted the other day about the Korean tendency to test and test and test even with a meaningless test, he wasn't content to limit his professional displeasure to incompetent Koreans. No, he just had to draw attention to my incompetence, too:
"[W]e need to keep in mind that there are plenty of incompetent foreigners teaching English in Korea as well."
See? See?! SEE?! You don't see? Let me then carefully expose the real message:
"We need to keep in mind that tHere are plenty of incOmpetent [neeDless] foreiGnErS teaching English in Korea as well."
So, Kevin, I see what you did! You leave me out of this! I'm only a little bit incompetent! (Watch now how he eats his own damn words!)
Damn. I didn't expect you to figure it out so quickly.
Well, Kevin, you got to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me. Have some breakfast.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

As the wise old adage has it . . .

Bad and Good
Attract or Attack?

. . . Opposites Attack!

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Friday, April 27, 2018

About Time?

Der Toad

Time squats in our present, devouring our future and excreting our past.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Family Values

Like father, like son . . . or dislike 'em both.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Archibald MacLeish: "The End of the World" - Revisited

I'm re-posting a blogpost from April 30, 2014 because the original got an interesting reception recently, as will be seen further below. But first, the original post:

Archibald MacLeish

I've long liked this poem by Archibald MacLeish, though only recently did I realize it's a sonnet:
"The End of the World"

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb --
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing -- nothing at all.
In fact, I noticed its sonnet form only as I was typing it here, so "recently" was yesterday (now that I'm posting it). I've never read any literary criticism on this poem, though I'm sure that reading some would be enlightening, but I think I previously failed to recognize the sonnet form because I was so taken by the poem's subject matter: the encounter with "nothingness."

Nothingness is difficult to conceive properly because our natural tendency is to ontologize it, i.e., to attribute "being" to it, when "nothingness" is in fact the absence of any and all being.

To get to that radical absence intellectually, one must subtract one thing after another from the world until all has been subtracted, whereupon one also subtracts "being" and finally oneself, the thinker thinking these subtractions.

The mind revolts . . . and fails to notice the sonnet form . . .

And so ends the original post. Now comes the recent, interesting comment, from a Mr. Kevin Lynch:
Mr. GS (i.e., Gypsy Scholar): I was perusing the 2018 Pulitzer prizes and noticed online an article that MacLeish wrote about The Pulitzers. This reminded me of the poem of his that I had been so struck by at about age 18 that I created a large magazine-cutouts collage (now long lost, alas) with the poem affixed in the center of the complex assemblage, though slightly above the center, kind of like a minister surrounded by his congregation. Of course, all the quirky, bizarre vitality of humanity that MacLeish encapsulates and explodes so deftly prompted me to create something which, in retrospect, is somewhat akin to the end of the film "Fail Safe" when the director unleashes a sequence of moments around the world which all skid to an existential dead stop. That film, with its very poetic ending, has haunted me since I first saw it in a way that seems akin to MacLeish's The End of the World, though far darker toned. What still strikes me is this poet's surreal sense of humor juxtaposed to the flash of the transcendent, or God, perhaps, in the "vast wings" and then the way he inductively brings the experience of The End upon us. Thank you for pointing out the sonnet form. I will have to read the poem aloud again and appreciate its musicality anew. I'm also now tempted to revisit The Doors' epic song "The End," which has more to say than its Oedipal scenario. Thanks for posting. Cheers, Kevin Lynch
This is a complex comment, lightly penned, but weighty with the biographical detail of a learnéd man's various interests. Anyway, upon this re-reading, I have come to wonder about these words:
"There with vast wings across the cancelled skies."
Could this line from MacLeish be echoing the following passage in John Milton's Paradise Lost:
And chiefly thou, O spirit, that dost prefer.
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know'st. Thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like sattest brooding on the vast abyss,
And madst it pregnant.
Mighty wings? Vast wings? Echo? Maybe. Maybe not. But notice the word "vast" in the expression "vast abyss."

Worth looking into . . .


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Law of Unintended Consequences . . .

. . . was never intended as an excuse for not anticipating consequences.


Monday, April 23, 2018

The 2018 Winners of the Pushcart Prize are in!

And I'm out . . .

But I want to thank Richard Kostelanetz for nominating the one-line poems I published in the Emanations anthology (2017). I am honored that a writer of his stature would consider my one-liners noteworthy.

Many thanks, Mr. Kostelanetz!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Tree of Life Church

Sun-Ae and I took a short walk today and discovered this interesting doorway:

Sun-Ae tells me that the Korean part says "The Tree of Life Church." As for the Hebrew, I think it says "Blessing of Yahweh." Here's the same message higher up:

But enough on religion for now! Let's eat:

Okay, back to religion. I Googled this church's name later, along with the word "Hebrew," and found this:

The tree images look similar. Must be the same non-denomination. More here.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Psalm 24:1

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it" . . . so get off His lawn!


Friday, April 20, 2018

Islam, Islamism, and Radical Islam: Differences?

I had a brief conversation with my old friend Bill Vallicella over the meaning of "radical" in the expression "radical" Islam:

Dear Bill,

I see we're both still struggling (our inner jihad) with what to call 'radical' Islam.

"I am coming to the view that the qualifier 'radical' in 'radical Islam' is redundant: True Islam is radical by its very nature." (Vallicella)

"Islamism is not Islamic extremism; rather, it is radicalism at the root of Islam." (Hodges)

I'm playing with the root meaning of radical, as you know.




Hi Jeff,

You appear to be distinguishing Islam from Islamism. How would you characterize the difference?




Dear Bill,

I contend that Islamism is not a form of extremism because Islamism is not peripheral to Islam. Islamism is at the root because it is the root of Islam. Islamism is usually suppressed because it is so horrible even to Muslims, but when Islam radicalizes, it is true to its root.




Hi Jeff,

So you are saying that Islamism is the essence of Islam, the ineradicable root without which Islam cannot exist?

So there cannot be a moderate, an 'enlightened,' Islam?




Dear Bill,

I wouldn't say that there could be no enlightened Islam - humans are pretty clever at reinterpretation - but Islam doesn't make it easy.

What I'm trying to do with my formulation - "Islamism is not Islamic extremism; rather, it is radicalism at the root of Islam" - is get people to think about the supposed distinction between Islam and Islamism.


And thus do things stand . . .

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Likes and Dislikes of the English Spelling System

"A proverb only looks pro verb."


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sounds Right About Right

Sow Proud of Herself

Proverbial Wisdom:
"As you sow, sow shall you reap."
And sow it shall be . . .


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Observe a Cat Observe a Bird!


Our cat Angi, cat-intent upon his new hobby of cat-birding at the bird-feeding spot we've set up these past two weeks, tries not to startle the two doves that have discovered the unexpected special birdseed gift, while Goya and Scat lurk in the background and thus do not appear in this photograph.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Troy Frantz: Illustrator at Work!

Friends of Troy

Troy Frantz (artist) is illustrating a couple of my stories for children. He explains the photo above as:
a reference photo that I took of my housemates playing the Mom and Dad, who discover a strange, flat, somewhat human-looking thing in their boy's bed.
This story of mine goes strange places, as you'll see relatively soon . . .


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Variant on a Franklinish S(h)ort of Wisdom

Has-Been Franklin

Ben Franklin was his own BF (and his own worst enemy)
Surly to bed
and surly to rise
made for a
Ed Cetera . . .


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Firing from the lip!

I wrote a blogpost back in 2010 suggesting that Eve was being depicted as serpent-like, and that post received this odd comment yesterday from a woman calling herself "Aquarian Ideals" (AI) who took issue with what she thought I'd said:
Yes clearly Eve is the "Hero" though not in Milton's Poem. I am not sure what you actually read to come up with that rather bold assertation. Milton went so far as to roofie Eve when the Arch Angel was bestowing all the wisdom of past and present on Adam because obviously that bitch couldn't be trusted. In fact, from the moment that they "fell" all culpability fell onto Eves shoulders despite being a mutual fault.
I didn't know what the commentator was referring to (serpent = "Hero"?) until I realized she was confusing me with an anonymous commentator who'd said that "everyone knows Eve is a hero." Anyway, AI appears to have a chip on her shoulder about history, for she tells me:
You are supposedly a history/politics buff, bully for you. Me too. I have taken the same plank of classes you have only I went one step further and got my English Degree as well because politics as of late seems to be a fools errand.
I very much doubt that this commentator has "taken the same plank of classes" that I've taken. But just to set the record straight on my specific degrees, I have a BA in British and American literature, an MA in history of science, and a PhD in history proper, but that's not good enough for a person who despite finishing her English degree cannot write a proper subjunctive sentence:
If you were such a History buff, perhaps you knew (sic "would know") that Milton had woman issues, not marrying until his mid to late 30's and when he did he married a teenager. He carried an over idealized idea of marriage so it lasted a whopping six months. Eventually they reconciled after years and years but my points the same, he was an interesting mess of weirdo who thought marriage was the perfect institution until reality slapped him in the face. This reality is rather spelled out into Paridise Lost. He vilifies Eve much like he vilified his wife for years. History is an interesting thing, it's all there for you to find, you don’t need to try to read into long winded over glorified text to get into the inferiority complexes of it all.
I have to say . . . I don't much cotton to haughty advice from someone maybe twenty years my junior, especially if that youngster can't distinguish between what I've written and what a commentator has written. If AI's 'advice' had been less arrogantly proffered, I might have responded here with more courtesy, but I won't let anyone talk down to me.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Islamism is . . .

Islamism is not Islamic extremism;
rather, it is radicalism at the root of Islam.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Franklinish Sort of Wisdom

Bad Advice-Poem
Bad-Advice Poem

Surly to bed
and surly to rise
make for a

etc . . .


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Body Snatchers Fall on Hard Times: Eggplant Planet!

Body Snatcher Grows One

Body Snatchers have declined so much in trying to produce goose-egg eggplants that they can no  longer grow a pair, not even when they have two models happy to demonstrate how.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wisedumb Saying Nr. 3.14159 . . .


Don't poke your business onto other people's noses . . . just shake hands on it.


Monday, April 09, 2018

Be even more concise!

Excise "even more"!

Be Concise!


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Be Concise

Be Concise.

And don't repeat yourself! That's not being concise!


Saturday, April 07, 2018

Good Writing Advice: Be Not Verbose

Verbosity: Too Many Verbs?

Never write things down on paper - or on other stuff, like cardboard boxes, for instance, or on rocks or in the sand, or even on computer screens - in a very verbose sort of way that wastes the time of readers, who probably have a lot of better things to do in order to occupy their time, but you, instead, you, rather, you yourself should be extremely concise in all of the written words that you scatter across a page, or that, rather, you scatter across the surfaces of any of the other stuff mentioned above, because a lot of people don't like to take advice, not even from reputable sources, since even the reputable sources, like me (but trust me), can be corrupted or lose focus and forget the issue under consideration, which was (I think) something about the necessity of being ridiculously articulate.


Friday, April 06, 2018

How did the Virgin Islanders . . .

. . . ever have kids? (And I wonder if there's somewhere in the world a Whore Island.)


Thursday, April 05, 2018

A cold day in Hell

Idiomatic Hell: Because Smart Words Hurt

The saying in the heading above is given as an example of an "idiom" - i.e., an expression that is peculiar to itself grammatically or that cannot be understood from the individual meanings of the words, strong evidence that the expression was first uttered by an idiot, hence the term "idiom."


Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Life's Little Dilemmas

"Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?"

This double-barreled query has been attributed to Albert Camus, but no certain citation cites the man.

Anyway, if you are ever confronted with this choice - it's only a dilemma if you're feeling suicidal against your will but really, really hate coffee - go ahead, kill yourself if you just have to . . . but why not have a coffee first?

To go!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Torn Ethnicities

Kaya Genç
Google Images

Kaya Genç , writing "Who Is a Turk? It’s Complicated" (NYT, April 1, 2018), notes that new means of genetic analysis are wreaking havoc with ethnic nationalisms and ideologies of ethnic purity. The results in Turkey are quite interesting, for there has been a:
. . . debunking [of] the imaginary ethnic purity of Turkish nationalism. Indeed, a 2012 study in the journal Annals of Human Genetics found that Turkey’s paternal ancestry was 38 percent European, 35 percent Middle Eastern, 18 percent South Asian and 9 percent Central Asian.
So much for the romantic myth of the Turk storming down on thundering hooves from Central Asia!

Turkey has also recently opened its population register, whose archives go back to Ottoman times, and people are finding many surprising things:
One Turkish nationalist learned that his great-grandmother was of Kurdish origin . . .

A writer friend was surprised to discover her great-grandfather’s name was Isaac . . .

One of my neighbors found out she had European roots and decided to apply for dual citizenship . . .

Many Turks discovered they had Armenian family ties just recently . . .
That part about Armenian ancestry will be very interesting to pick up on. I would, in turn, like to see what a genetic analysis of various European countries would uncover, particularly in such ethnically 'pure' states as Hungary and Poland.


Monday, April 02, 2018

Radiant Snow on Kindle

Radiant Snow on Kindle

My book of poems is now available on Kindle at a lower price than the hard copy, and it has various errors corrected, so this is the one to buy as the least expensive and the most up-to-date!

I'm told that the hard copy has the same corrections, so I've ordered it and will let you know when I receive the text.


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Saved in Her Bedroom?

Sewol Report

Sewol. Sunk. Four years ago. Over 300 lives lost through stupidity and ignorance. This preventable sea-faring tragedy in which so many students died always angers me, especially when I think of the utterly and entirely wrong instructions given, namely, the order that told passengers to remain in their cabins, where they drowned.

As for the attempt to hold the then-President Park Geun-hye responsible for the lives lost, I think that this is entirely wrong-headed and largely the reason that Korea has such tragic accidents again and again, for what is assumed is a Korean top-down approach to decision-making, such that potential rescuers wait to be told what to do by higher-ups who don't even know what is happening.

This was again brought to mind in an assumption made by the reporter Ser Moja in the opening line of her report in a recent edition of the Korea Joongang Daily (March 29, 2018). Ser's generally a good reporter, but the implication that Park Geun-hye could have saved any lives is absurd. This report had another failing in this same line, a sentence construction that makes the report sound even more absurd (and that should have been caught by an editor, even if just a copy-editor):
On the day of the sinking of the Sewol ferry in 2014, then-President Park Geun-hye spent crucial early hours when people could have been saved in her bedroom.
I'm curious as to how any Sewol victims could have been saved in Park's bedroom. Nevertheless, miracles do happen, and perhaps the headline was right in saying "Seven-hour mystery about Park, Sewol solved," for mysteries do often imply some metaphysique!

But not here, not this time . . .