Monday, March 31, 2008

Renata Salecl

A brilliant lecture by philosopher/sociologist Renata Salecl on "The Tyranny Of Choice", a generous critical organization of epistemological ideas on the still-increasing mania of "free will" or "recreation of the 'Self' " so prevalent in Western society.

Salecl comes at it from a "late Capitalist" angle, and it's fascinating since she grew up (and still resides, I believe) in Eastern Europe, giving her perspective a unique (to us) flavour, an outsider's one, though still saturated in the omniprevalent pop-psyche mainstream media, largely (in her examples) through "lifestyle" best-sellers.

This has been something I've been fascinated with for over a decade, and it was enjoyable to have her cross many of the T s and stipple a lot of I s from my own conclusions.

"Choice" is largely irrational, according to Salecl, intoning Freud.

I would add my own thoughts: "choice" is not the end-all; the important matter is "what creates choice"? It's desire. And what creates desire? (the next question goes). The answer is unknowable, mysterious, and even unseemly to ask. That's the terrifying beauty, the unpredictability, of living, superseding any puny "control" we like to think we exercise in important matters.

Desire is its own force; choice is a natural, organic result of who we already are. Here's where I differ, in one respect (though recognizing her macrocosmic argument) with Salecl: choice isn't "forced" or the result of "guilt" or "demand": it is the inevitable result of who we temporally are, and is unamenable to bargaining, plan, belief, or fantasy. Scary? Perhaps. But it's the truth as I see it. And a far more liberating one than what passes for the "free will, create your own identity" simplistic opportunism rife today.

(The audio feed is 52 minutes in length.)

Of Foot Rubs and Fatherly Angst


(Chapter 4)

1) When the Pharoah diocese heard that Jesus had baptized more Shriners than all the county Legion halls combined, they were fair and mickle peeved.

2) (Though Jesus used only the water of the stagnant Thames so's not to be in a conflict of interest with "Holy Waters Inc.-- Your First and Only Stop For Matters Miraculous").

3) He left the outskirts of town, and fell in with the Pneumatic Drillers Union in the miniskirts of the Elite.

4) And He must needs ended up in Bumsmell, a port town of some mysterious notoriety.

5) He wandered far and agog, and quenched his thirst with Gatorade Extra, as the sweat popped out of his upper lip like forty-four triple D tits will do when the bustier snaps.

6) He satteth down upon Jacob's distillery paraphernalia.

7) A woman of some delicacy and grace sashayed to the well to fetch a pail of water, and Jesus saith: "Give me five, up high!"

8) (For his disciples were in Bumsmell learning to play croquet for large stakes.)

9) And the woman saith unto the Holiest of Holies: "Why do you appear dressed in basketball garb when the nearest hoop playground is in the next county?"

10) Jesus answered forthwith: "If thou hast the skill set of Michael Jordan flying the magic carpet, it behooves one to relish the moment." ("Seize the day" had yet to be uttered as a pop slogan.)

11) The woman replied: "Sir, the well is dry, as is your tongue and my panties. I fear we are missing the opportunity of a millenium, but would not be so bold as to make a comely suggestion", whilst batting false eyelashes as a flock of crows scattered from her hooped tresses.

12) She continued: "Art Thou greater in length and girth than Wilt the Stilt, the seven footer who populated an entire town with his voluminous seed?"

13) Jesus answered and said unto her: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again."

14) "But whosoever abstains from the 'Holy Water', well ..... scales shall fall from her eyes, great stinking octopi shall heave their tentacles around her midriff, and the Staple Sisters shall serenade her unto eternity while great pump organs intone 'Nearer My God To Thee' backed by the electric zither."

15) The woman saith: "Lord, you done scare the Beejeesus outta me. Hit me up with the Holy Juice!"

16) Jesus answered: "Call thy husband to me."

17) The woman saith: "I have no husband, and my vibrator collection is useless since the plug-ins are on the blink again.

18) And Jesus answered: "Thy hast had five husbands, and not one of them hast been Ernest Borgnine. Time to rectify the situation with the automatic giver of everflowing seed of the burgeoning dominion."

19) The woman replied: "Sir, I see that you get kickbacks from Ernest, and are in conflict of interest. What hast Thou to say in your defense?"

20) And continuing: "Our brothers worshipped in these fallow fields, and the crow flies westward over heavy onsets of acid rain."

21) Jesus responded immediately: "Woman, believeth me, the hour has come when you will wonder why your collars are not whiter than white, and your 'good hair days' are a thing of the past."

22) "Ye worship false dance gigolos, and fear constantly a return to retro disco."

23) "But the hour cometh when all the record spinners will lie in their graves like slaughtered oxen, unable to give breath to the changing of the genres."

24) "Let the Spirit move you, Sister, and your hips will shake again."

25) The woman saith: "I know that the Messiah has me on His short list, even though I am a respectable 5'8"."

26) Jesus saith: "I am He, woman. Gimme a foot rub, and pronto! My bunions are aching like a rotting tooth from Vincent Price's mouth!"

27) And soon His disciples sauntered by, and were amazed that Jesus had shot no hoops in the interim.

28) The woman then left the side of the well, and moseyed on back to the purlieus of Bumsmell, and saith to the men there:

29) "Come and see the man they call 'The Bringer of the Herb' and 'The Last Great White Hope' or alternately 'The First of the Bo-Peepin's'.

30) Then they followed her heels with deadly hangovers, the walls of the cement expanding like blasted fruitcakes left in the oven at 400 degrees.

31) In the meantime, Jesus' disciples praised him over-sycophantically, saying: "Can I rub Your tootsies, O follicly unchallenged One?", and "Tell me again of the wayward handmaidens."

32) But Jesus responded unto them: "Yay and forsooth, O bibulous ones, I will take my meat on a silver plate, but the condiments have dried up. Who shall I pray to in this fetid desert when the one who prays is the Top Dog, the Head Honcho of the Roost, the Destroyer of Verities, the Ingester of Banalities, the Keeper of the Bored, the Minder of Manners, and the Wellspring of the Wandering Boilermakers' Union Adjunct?"

33) Therefore the disciples looked each other over like confused pelicans about to be billed for an order they hadn't commanded.

34) Jesus continued: "My wish is to genuflect to Someone, but to whom? .... as the Father Head Cheese naps frequently and my thoughts go amiss in this vaporous sand-ghetto."

35) "But betimes and away, I repeat anyway, the harvest happens anon, so gird thy loins for the power-planting. Power-point teleprompter conference at 8 o'clock."

36) "He that reapeth receiveth deepeth pockets of pummelled pelf palaver, slavering dogs of doom hovering nonetheless on rose petals brocaded with imperious footstools of balm-juice extracts. Rejoice!"

37) "One sows; another keeps."

38) "Others are interred for their labours, but whosoever watches the news at nine knows no circumscription of diseased billfolds."

39) And the hungover minions and stray sheep bleated ferociously, the clouds having empurpled monstrously into the shape of Borgnine's gluteous multi-maximus.

40) The heavens filled with leprous harridans, and the corridors of Montezuma were bespoken with cracked rim-worshipping unknown saints, throwrugs heaping on their diamonded foreheads.

41) And many and fearful and amazing visions were undergone, but at mach-speed times infinity cubed, so that painful recall was happening in the future.

42) And the woman returned, and gestured for the Magna Carta to be read in worshipful silence.

43) Jesus departed, and went into the House of Whee.

44) For Jesus Himself testified that a man had no honour in his own northfarthingshire.

45) The Whee-ites welcomed Jesus with open bankbooks, and set about in creating the feast of feasts.

46) And Jesus began fleecing the locals out of their brass farthings with cheesy card tricks out of sheer boredom.

47) A nobleman came upon Jesus and asked that He heal his son, who was ill with vertigo, impetigo, reverse lumbar-lumbago, and tropical rumba-infestivo.

48) Then Jesus intoned: "Except that ye believe in the words of the Fath Healers of the bailiwicks of the shantytowns of Pago-Pago Boutras-Boutras Addis-Ababa-anian Tora! Tora!, ye shall have angst-ridden ordeals to navigate whenever the Sign of the Oman Obdurate is made under the eleventh hour in the moon-craters of Times Square, Amen!"

49) The nobleman saith: "Dost Thou speaketh in riddles, and avert my attention from my pressing ordeal? Come with me, I beg!"

50) Jesus said: "Your son is passing a great gallstone the size and approximate countenance of Brittany Spears newly-gaped noggin!"

51) The disciples gathered, and were amazed at the gallstone's evolution and many-changing colors.

52) Then they all went to celebrate at the Feast of the Wild Stoat.

53) Then the Father Himself awoke with a long groan, and promptly hit the snooze button.

54) This is another in the series of miracles that Jesus did, all to gain adherents for protection.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More New Testament Shenanigans


(Chapter 3)

1) There was a man of the Cyclops invaders named Nickleremus, ruler of the Fools.

2) He came like multiple-hearted briefs in the night, and said unto Jesus: "Rabbi, we know you hold the master keys for all the suburban discos, for no man can do these miracles using only magick spells that they sell to ridiculously gullible Japanese tourists at inflated prices at the visitors' bureau."

3) Jesus answered: "Lo! Then put aside thy mimicking of Herefords and Jerseys, and verily and truly I say unto youse guys: except a man be born with accordion eyelids, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Everlasting Moonwalks."

4) "That which is born of the Flesh is fit for poontanging of a long weekend. And that which is born of the Spirit is fit for a white sheet."

5-7) "Marvel not that I say: Youse must needs be born in sinuous glory."

8) The wind bloweth not unlike Linda Lovelace in typhoon season during the initial releasing of electron combustibles, and it listeth and tosseth and is generally a bitch."

9) Nickleremus answered: "Huh?"

10) Jesus continued: "Are you the King of the Granola Bar, and know not these things?"

11) "Verily and truly I say unto you, you speak as if a viper has deposited great festering offal into your pantaloons."

12) "If I tell you that the Disco is closed for repairs to the dance floor after Ernest's compounded weight has caused a seismic shift in the earth's centre, do you believe?"

13) "And no man shall ascend to the box seats until he shows the requisite payola."

14) "And as Moses riffed with the Serpent in the desert whilst waiting for Brooke Shields to float by on a regatta, even so must the Son of man be ensconced in a shady hammock."

15) "That whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish from lack of dance partners, but shall have everlasting boogie fever."

16) "For God so loved the world, that He rained down great spermy arcs upon the beleaguered heads of the wandering mystics."

17) "For God sent His son to condemn the heathenish samba wrigglers, but ended up doing the watusi Himself."

18) "He that believeth in Him shall pass Go and collect coupons. He that does NOT believeth ... well, no trick or treats."

19) "Light and darkness are manifest, but only the proselytizers of Altamira say they save."

20) "Whosoever hates the light is a bat and an ogre and a myopic codger out of lockstep with their medication."

21) "But he that doeth truth shall get accolades with more abstract platitudes."

22) After Jesus ran short of breath, the disciples flogged themselves with short, tasty whips and chainmail (chainLINKmail, that is. Chain mail was a further invention which would cause great grief and misunderstanding in the internet Kingdom.)

23) John was baptized in a vat of boiling pigs' feet.

24) For John was on weekend furlough from his bad rap.

25) Then there was a cackling about some finer points in the Great Book, for the first scriptural dissemblers had already begun their political agitations.

26) And they said unto John: "Hey, Dude, like what did you get the time for, like, y'know, just fire up a spliff and RELAX, man!"

27) John answered: "A man can do nothing except it be either a happy face in his pants or a savage salute from his personal secretary."

28) "I am not the Christ, but by Christ, I'll let loose with a volley of braggadocio in seventy-five tongues."

29) "The bridegroom may continue to flog his meat after marriage while the best man looks fondly upon the bride, but I say, these things are mere passing fancies that the Lord A-Mighty likes to entertain Himself with, as one would do flipping channels."

30) "He must tend to the bureaucracy, but I get to play golf three days a week."

31) "And He testifieth, and has green hickeys from pantheistic ghosts."

32) "And no man can recant His testimony."

33) "And God is True, but beware of the fossils of doom."

34) "For when God speaketh, even Ernest is still bewildered."

35) "The Father loveth His son, like we love the seventh day of debauchery."

36) "He that believeth in God, shall feel oats being wildly sewn into his Levis, somewhat akin to a self-stimulating machine never out of batteries."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back To The Beginning

Oops, I started at Chapter 5, it seems. OK, let's forget about Chapter 1, which is both lyrically and narratively dead. Here's St. John, Chapter 2:

1) And the third day there was a marriage at the Blue Plate Special of the Golden Seals Cafe whereupon the mother of Jesus happened by.

2) And Jesus received an invitation in mysterious parchment-velcro whilst he was imbibing Tropical Punch and answering fan mail.

3) And he entered the dowdy cafe; and when the besotted patrons wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said unto her Son: "Son, getcher ass in gear!"

4) Jesus said unto her: "Woman, what have I to do with inferior grape and stifling conversation and chicanerous bingo and carpenters' tales of injuries? Be still, and hold thy furrowed tongue!"

5) His mother said unto the butler and maid: "Lo! He has spoken, and it doesn't brook entreaties or misapplication. Hop to it, dissemblers of yore, you're called upon to produce unvile fruit essences and gracious spontaneous origami."

6) There were six barflies and only five pitchers of the dregs of Baby Duck 'Big Red Hosebeast Deluxe' Burgundy left.

7) Jesus said unto the servants: "Fill the pitchers with the promise of Pinor Grigorion Chant." And the vessels were filled to the brim.

8) And he continued: "Get thee more flagons, and pretend to be interested in the wedding proceedings." And it was so.

9) When the bride's and bridegroom's families tasted of the wetness of the Duck, they were confused as to its year and field origination, and they made the Sign of the Flabberghasted Gringo to each other in frenzied hand morse code.

10) And each said unto Jesus: "Every man usually gulps the best stuff, and plonks down the basest plonk to the guests, but you have saved the strongest panty-dropping alcohol for us. Bless you, cross-eyed Messiah!"

11) Then Jesus began showing off with facile and superfluous expositions of a veritable laundry list of miracles: teaching Ernest Borgnine to surf the net unprotected; berating O.J. Simpson on the golf course with bad Thanksgiving jokes, and having the desired effect; turning dangling chads into municipal landslides.

12) The whole gang then went to the haberdasher's for some fine trim.

13) And the passout was about to begin, and Jesus stepped forth in raiments of ox-hair.

14) And he found in the temple the players of mumbly-peg, of loonie-toss, of pin-the-tail-on-the-camel, and of find-the-hidden-bennies-under-the-cup, that they were in an uproar of orgiastic monotheistic worship to Mammonographitic mammary-inspecting moolah-twisting mirages.

15) And when he had made a helical wet towel, he set about whirlpooling the tattered asses of the layabouts, shouting: "Vile profiteers! Trolloping transients! Wooden raspberries!"

16) And he was quite pissed, and continued: "Strep throats for you all, and may the bringer of wine forget to drop down your chimneys!"

17) And they quaked fairly somber and chastened.

18) And the gawkers intoned: "Mighty fine, head Man. Which way to the disco?"

19) Jesus answered: "Take two lefts, then a crooked right, then strike your staffs on the pebbly interlude which passeth all understanding at the Sign of the Goode Eats, then hand in your property tokens to the kickback toll collector, then proceed onto the finest of lawns to the Great Donna Summer Festive Hip-Shakin' Booty Call Bonanza."

20) Then said the partiers: "Forty and six years hast it been since anyone gave us the sign for the entrance to this most holiest of boogie shrines. Thank you, kind Sir!"

21) But Jesus intervened: "Some will say to pay attention to the temple of the temples, but when you're old and grey, and played out like Borgnine, you will realize that the temple of the body is where it's at, Dudes!"

22) When Jesus had risen from the dead (gawd, talk about a poor segue), His disciples remembered the time with fondness, somewhat akin to those days when sheep were created on the second day, and women on the 4, 657th. More sex-- less fighting.

23) When He passed over, He passed out. And the disciples emitted vile shrieks and waved silly placards.

24) But Jesus ignored the calumny and contiunued with His crossword puzzle.

25) And He read the minds of the infidels, and drew an inside straight.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

St. John Continued


(Chapter 6)

1) After running out of rhetorical steam, Jesus relaxed by anointing his head in a mixture of lime kool-aid and Hires' Root Beer. Then, he massaged the temples of his BIG head with eucalyptus leaves crushed into panties retrieved from the stage after the excited front-row tossings of the gentler sex.

2) And folk-clusters followed him like cockamamie Cocker Spaniels smelling Alpo on the Great One's tunic.

3) And Jesus went upon a mountaintop, and played a vicious game of three-pack canasta with James, Bartholomew, Matthew, Ringo, George, Paul, and John.

4) And the passout was nigh.

5) When Jesus saw that there were those who begged for food without the proper amount of foodstamps, he became troubled, and in his compassion, said unto Philip: "How much of that spongy white bread's in the brown paper bag, Dude?"

6) And Jesus then cut out all the crusts, and fed them to Satan.

7) Philip answered Jesus: "We have not enough, O assist-maker of the parquet floors."

8) Andrew then bespoke:

9) "A Union secretary here has four loaves and two carp, but surely this will not suffice."

10) But Jesus said, very coolly and with much somnolence: "Tell that Dude to sit his ass upon my frond cushion."

11) Then Jesus waved his hands over the bread and fish, and a tumescence of purple-black cumulous sprung in vaulting whorls towards the five-thousand-strong crowd, who, agape and agog, nevertheless had the presence of mind to record it all on their camcorders and digital cameras.

12) When the smoke had cleared, great football fields full of pita bread, rye loaves, pumpernickel plenitudes, and essene extras, along with seven thousand wide and teeming seine-nets of tuna and wide-mouth bass splatted at the feet of the astonished crowd.

13) After a brief and stunned silence, the feverish legions began gorging themselves on the miraculous feast with great relish (hamburger) , but were fair and exceedingly thirsty, so Jesus opened the wine vault at the back of the illegal distillery, and filled the smelly shoes of the voyagers to the brim of their ankle-support Nike Air-Stream Jordans with the grape.

14) Some, when they were finished, bowed before Jesus, while others thanked the Holy One by loud and repeated belches.

15) They even had enough left for doggy bags.

16) The disciples then went for a quick skinnydip.

17) But Jesus said: "Hey, half-hour before you go in the water after such a big meal!"

18) And the sea arose with arms of Shelley Winters escaping the Titanic, and swept across the shore with a daunting pass.

19) And, though they had retired to a rickety scow, and were sore afraid, they witnessed Jesus walking on water while nonchalantly picking his teeth with the royal post-prandial golden sliver.

20) Jesus said: "Don't try this at home, kids."

21) Then Jesus stepped on board, and the scow immediately sunk. But they had on lifejackets of wooly velcro, and dogpaddled to safety while simultaneously swatting each other about the ears, ala Laurel and Hardy.

22) Jesus then slept off his feast, and awoke with a hankering for a rum and eggnog.

23) But the Royal Cooler was empty, and the Father laughed in the Highest of Heavens while he switched channels.

24) The disciples looked for Jesus in Tuscon-of-the-Desert, but found instead only a trail of ersatz ricecakes.

25) Then, after the peyote buttons had kicked in, they saw Jesus again on the hovering water.

26) Jesus said unto them: "Verily and truly, I say ye revere me not because I am the Saviour, but because ye have full bellies and wish to suck up some more for the prospect of a nightcap."

27) "Labour not for the sacrilegious beatitudes of oversized disco medallions, but make haste to stuff your craws before I'm gone, and Ernest is back to replenish his depleted (by his enormous standards) belly.

28) Then they said: "What shall we do when Ernest smiles that Dentyne smile, and recruits us for his minions?"

29) Jesus answered: " Stuff his face with a stale loaf, then hightail it off his overpriced dancefloor."

30) The disciples continued: "show us a further sign, that we may record it for posterity (and for the exhorbitant resale value)."

31) "We break bread with thee, but the weevils returneth anon."

32) Then Jesus answered: "Verily, etcc... you may have eaten the best of the oven-baked booty, but Thy Father Art up there in Heaven has the best buttered scones."

33) "For the bread of Heaven costs less than the overflowing weed, and dental floss has now been invented (though well after the promised eighth day).

34) Then the multitude zoned out after the pig-out, while a few of the celestial custodians began tossing dwarves about to clear the area (as well as for malicious fun).

35) And Jesus went unto them, and said: " Put the smallest ones in the Heavenly gunnysack, then spread ashes on your foreheads. Spit three times on the dusty ground, while simultaneously rubbing one out and whistling "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?", and when the moon is full and Pisces is in the seventh house, the ravens will cavort with the pigeons and the garbagemen will work on Sundays. The rams will spread prophecies in cryptic code with the umbilical cords of their second-born, and the gophers will laugh in the hills. Fungo bats will give birth to quintuplets, and raccoons will stampede the unlatched pantries....."

36) "....Excuse me while I take another hit....."

37) "All that the Father giveth unto me shall bear the sign of the Seal of the Cross-Eyed Rosicrucians, drunk but with athlete's elbow from overuse of the secret handshake and bending back the Guinness."

38) "And the petals of wildflowers shall breeze faintly like the filmy mists of predawn filtering through the backlanes of the ghetto haberdasheries."

39) "And it is the Father's will that ye shall undertake great sacrifice and consternation over just what channels to select when digital comes on-line."

40) "Whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting removal of bunions, Amen!"

41) The accountants then began to mumble and whisper in rude quaintness, while Jesus flossed His teeth, danced a sprightly impromptu jig, regaled a Jehovah's witness, stole a communion wafer, and spritzed Dentyne-Mist onto his healthy pink gums.

42) And the accountants were upset that the official tax-return forms in triplicate were neglected, scuffed and stamped upon in the furious dust.

43) And Jesus responded: "Do not murmur among yourselves, goggle-eyed ones of the interfering offices."

44) "No man shall come unto me, for I am heterosexual, (and not asexual, as the future scriptural dissemblers would have everyone to believe.)"

45) "And whosoever hast returned the bottles to the nearest depot shall increase their good karma, and should wear the raiments of gold-brocaded Tarzan suits with pride."

46) "And whosover gets a peek of the Father should wear sunglasses, for it is akin to the total eclipse at forty paces."

47) "Whosoever believeth in me shall have incremental life, with a free magazine subscription to Wildebeest Monthly."

48) "I have the Holy Bread, and the Pacifying Herb."

49)" Your fathers did not eat manna in the desert, and also abstained from the plentiful Perrier springs, and for their sins, had to resort to environmentally compromised retsina."

50) "This is the bread of the Bank of Nova Scotia, with buttered debentures and free cleaning for your dentures."

51) "Eat of my body, say some renditions of the Holy Word, but I prefer not to be boiled in a large kettle in the hidden rainforests of Zaire for such delectation."

52) The accountants then began a-murmuring again, which really, really pissed Jesus off.

53) Jesus said unto them: "Look! Lickspittles of the yellowed and parched secular word-- this is your last warning: one more peep, and I call sleeping Daddy to fry your loins in a furious plague of spit-turned broiler pokes!"

54) "Whosoever drinketh my blood and eateth of my flesh shall enter the Satanic halls of doom-- I have no wish to be party to a screwball cult!"

55) "For my flesh is young and tanned, and my blood is type A."

56) "Whosoever dares to eat my flesh and drink my blood shall get a sore tummy-- which serves whomsoever right, so there!"

57) "And when my Father finds out of this madness, He shall rain soggy invoices down upon the heads of the heathens, and the Heavens shall close up before 5 p.m. (daylight savings time not withstanding)."

58) "The bread is plentiful, but the county jail has much space."

59) These things said Jesus on the makeshift pulpit, amid assorted pickup bingo games in the back pews, and travelling toga salesmen in the dark narthex.

60) His disciples then woke up, and jostled each other in order to appear to have heard Jesus, for there would be a post-sermon cross-examination of them, and they were already afraid of the inevitable failing grade.

61) When Jesus saw His disciples, he said: "What'd I just say, Matt?"

62) "Shake thy cobwebs from thy droopy eyes, and leave the building if I'm keeping you from needed REM sleep."

63) "The flesh quickeneth, but the Spirit hovers like a taxman or pitbull around your neck."

64) "If the Spirit quickeneth, then the electrical currents are interfered with, and the TV rabbit ears will have to be dug up out of mothballs."

65) "I fain would lie down."

66) After this lengthy speech, the accountants jumped into their Datsuns and sped across the desert in total confusion.

67) Then said Jesus unto His disciples: "Will you also leave so unkindly?"

68) Then Simon Saltpetre said: "Lord, whither shall we go? The bars have been closed for three hours, and the 3 for 1 sales have been rolled back."

69) "And we believe that, yes, yes, ye are the Holy One, but when will the dancefloors be refurbished?"

70) And Jesus said: "Have I not chosen you well? And is not one of you a stoolpigeon for the Shriners Guild?"

71) He spake of Judas Escargot, for that one was always trailing like a snail or slug behind the coattails of the sycophants, not joining in the licking of feet, and brownnosing of the Holy Bottom.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Missing First Draft of The Book Of St. John


(Chapter 5)

1) After the mah-johhng sets were put away and the ping pong tables were sandpapered and set aside, there was another feast in The House of the Blues, where Jesus picked up a baritone sax and began guttural moans of "Trouble In Mind" between blowing a few lines (on his sax, that is). He walked out after a six-second standing ovation (and 43 cents in his hat), and went unto Booze-by-him.

2) Now there is at Booze-by-him a gaggle of sheep and a stray poet, all sauntering aimlessly by an oversized pink porch.

3) On the floorboards lay a great multitude of impotent men, aged pedestrians, blind crossing guards, lame 100-meter dash medalists, demented orangutans, and confused cosmopolites who had wandered there by mistake after taking a wrong turn at the head municipal tax office.

4) An angel went down on a medalist in the deep end of the pool, and troubled the water with chlorinated milky deposits.

5) And the poet, who had been inflicted with a myriad of psychosomatic diseases (and thought he was better than Homer) for two score and several years, lurched after Jesus.

6) When Jesus saw him, and recognized the pinkish nightgarb, he bestowed unto him a secret salve and balm and adornment made of scented myrrh and the essence of lilac in a halo garlard.

7) The impotent man then said: "Sir, I grow even softer when thrust into the frigid zones of the pool, but when I used to come here, the towers erected themselves out of the lonely dust."

8) Jesus said unto him: "Rise, and when once you've risen, then take up thy bed and get it on!"

9) And immediately the man had a raging boner, and took up his bed, and on the same day, scored with Sonia Braga.

10) The accountants then said unto the suddenly erect one: "It is illegal to play musical beds of a Sabbath day."

11) The man answered: "Grope thyselves nimbly or sourly, I don't give a brass farthing. Now away, dour bean tossers!"

12) They then answered: "What man hast given thee such turgidity?"

13) But a great cloud of ersatz epsom salts had sprung upon their midst, obscuring the Messiah in translucent mists of orange-glowing radiation, from which Jesus made a secret getaway to the head temple.

14) Jesus found the once-impotent (now beaming) man there, and said unto him: "Get thee to a pharmacist forthwith, and order the Holy Rubber-- filtertipped with sage-juice and on sale only today for nineteen shekels for a box of two dozen (extra large)."

15) The man departeth like the road runner after a missing Bugs Bunny Show residual.

16) The accountants then attempted to slay Jesus, since their johnsons were sore and packaged lonely and humid.

17) But Jesus answered them: " My Father needed no splints or Viagra, and I mock the interlopers of stale seduction."

18) Therefore the accountants sought further to do grievous injury to Jesus, for their once glorified tumescence was now mocking them with thin leakage out their Lazy Susans.

19) Then Jesus continued: " Verily and truly, O office conformists, I say unto you: wheresoever you lay your hat will be your home; and though papa may have been rolling his bones on the north forty, you'll always be alone."

20) "For the Father hath napped and splurged in His dreambed of backward millenial unsanguined reminiscences of bonding and nature-humping."

21) "For as the Father raised up His staff and lightening-fucked the Earth, so too do your own peckers blacken with buboes foreign to our generational genital specialists."

22) "For the Father judgest not of thy fallow centuries, but betimes hurries unto the Holy Den, where pan pipes of groovy tobacco and spiked lime wedges multiply like loaves of buttered scones."

23) "And whosoever honorest the Son shall honorest the fungus of thine own loins, for the Father hast often said, 'Yay, know me by the lowest of the low, that though they quail and quaff, are also of the Lord's creation' ".

24) "Verily and noisily (and somewhat in irritation) I say unto you, whoever believest me shall not pass the horrific gallstone, but will have equanimous bladder flow unto the end of his days."

25) "The hour of the Lord is at hand, and the minute of the Lord is in the rice."

26) "For the Father is weary of the same motions from His creations, and is planning a spontaneous population explosion which will-- for a first time-- NOT go through Ernest Borgnine's harem first."

27) "And the Father will stand no squabbling over longer line-ups at the discos."

28) "Marvel not at this, since the graves will open perforce unto the entirety of the evening news, interrupting the how-to-do-it-hemp-growing classes."

29) "And the basketball courts shall be divided into the sons of Wilt, and those who've never been in the same continent as Wilt."

30) "And judgest not of the rancid bacon fat, that it will continue to self-replenish when the Tigris turns silver and gives up its spurious algae."

31) "If I tattle-tale on myself, then Bob's yer Uncle, I'll pay the parking ticket."

32) "And if anyone witnesses the hookah getting up and walking off of its own accord, he may replenish his bowl immediately, and is within local oversight to request another supplier."

33) "And John will be out of the klink soon and anon."

34) "And I'll read the further requests to waive the initial cable-hook-up charges, and get back to you."

35) "The Father is a burning light, just as most of his burger-blighted burghers are pox-stricken with grey toadstools on their back porches."

36) "And I'm better than John, neener-neener!"

37) "And my Father is bigger than your father."

38) "And your father can't afford to send you to the best universities, so sorry."

39) "And stop putting oatmeal in the scriptures to mark the passages."

40) "And stay off my front doorstep after 9 p.m., please!"

41) "I receive no kickbacks from any man."

42) "And I know you, that you have a burning love for the daughters of Donna Summer."

43) "You can name your children anything, but registry prices have gone up, and are not optional."

44) "Seek the honor of the Father, but shed your tokens to the greater marketplace, especially when the Holy souvenirs are a-plenty."

45) "Last taps, gotcha last!"

46) "Had ye believed in Moses, you would have been in prison long ago for hypocrisy."

47) "But if ye had truly believed in Moses' words, then I'd be out of a job, Amen!"

(to be continued ....)

Monday, March 17, 2008

St Pat Day Over, But Spring Is Springing, So Let's Continue With The Good News

JP Morgan Chase & Co just bought out busted Bear Stearns, the fifth biggest bank in the U.S., for $240 billion, which was less than 1/10 of its value just last week. News leaked out about the crisis last week, and investors freaked, pulling out $17 billion in two days. The value of the stock immediately plummetted from $30 a share on Friday to $2 a share on Monday (a little over twelve hours ago).

What's all this got to do with you and me, if you're also in Canada? The world is a small place, and we're undergoing a brash new experiment called "globalization". Economies are tied together in complex and inextricable ways. Most countries are monetarily pegged to the U.S. dollar, and the U.S. leads every nation in trade deficits, debt, consumption, energy importation, and energy use. (And entitlement expectation.)

More explicitly, banks, with the Federal Reserve's blessing and urging, have created many convoluted financial scams in order to keep the "growth" model afloat, akin to skating ever faster to avoid falling through thin ice. Credit Derivatives Swaps, aka CDs (not the music disc), arestillgrowing exponentially, and have now ballooned to $516 trillion in paper/computer "money". That's right, that's a "t" in front of illion, not a "b". What are CDs? A collusion and smokescreen whereby one financial institution sells insurance to another firm in return for another loan in order to collect a razor thin profit margin which accrues from (among other avenues) the yuan/yen carry trade (buying Japanese and Chinese money, and immediately selling onto U.S. relative deflated markets, and so securing a "paper" profit).

Sorry if this all sounds dry. It is. But, to me, who has a good fundamental mathematical mind, but who has had to stretch my knowledge to assimilate this arcane contemporary accounting, it's imperative in being able to understand the financial tsunami in play by the Fed/U.S. and foreign banks/U.S. gov't intervention.

And getting back to the tie-in with Canada (and with the world): the CDs are frightening not only because it's all phony "money", all promises to pay and/or speculative notes or pixels, (and so the asset boasting is fundamentally untrue), but because the CDs are, like secret spirochetes, helically affixed to virtually every financial transaction in every country. And no one knows how much, to what extent, any single transaction is infected by these inflated scams. (CIBC in Canada had to be bailed out several months ago by the Bank Of Canada; banks in Norway almost went under last month; one in England would have failed if the gov't there hadn't rushed in to save it). Speaking of "saving" banks, that's just what the Fed in the U.S. are doing, and will do: they provided billions to JP Morgan to help them in their JP Morgan buy-out of Bear Stearns, but they had to print money out of thin air, and swap toxic mortgage payments to do it (those mortgage promises are, themselves, "ticking time bombs", in Peter Schiff's words).

U.S. banks are virtually insolvent right now. Federal law stipulates that at least 85% (or it could be 90%, I forget) of their liquid monetary holdings have to be there. The reverse is actually true: ther numbers are staggering, and I won't hunt up the exact figures and institutions, but of the five or six biggest banks, about the same amount -- 85% to 90% -- is speculative, is derivatives or other loan-based investment paper "assets", and only 1/10 of it is liquidity, actual money.

Gold just hit 1,000 an ounce. It'll continue to climb. The problem is that if worldwide inflation continues to climb exponentially -- and the U.S. Fed/U.S. gov't has stated that that's their course -- then the rest of the world has no choice but to follow suit in order to avoid their own currencies from being worthless from skewed isolationist contrasts: Canada has cut their own bank rates in conjunction with the U.S. Fed in every instance in the past six months. And this means that even were you to realize dramatic increases in gold/silver returns, it'll be more than negatively offset by nominal horrors, that is, by the exploding inflationary realities which are a mathematical fact of having more money printed and in circulation.

But at least it's easier to carry around gold and silver in one's pocket than it is to tote ahead a wheelbarrow of worthless Lauriers and Lincolns.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ken Babstock's Days Into Flatspin

What a breath of fresh air!

I read Babstock's Mean a while back, and was thrilled with its authorial confidence, vigour, and lyricism. It's a feast of sound. A bold syntactical shaping of the tricks that time plays to our subjective confusion.

Wanting to savour the mood of that first offering, I delayed in reading the follow-up, Days Of Flatspin. Just having read and reread, many times, this latter effort, I feel it's a mixed bag, and definitely below par when contrasted with Mean, but that still puts it on a much higher plane than most other contemporary Canadian poetry tomes, whether a first collection or a fifteenth.

There are many highlight pieces in the first half of Days Into Flatspin , but "Regenerative" is perhaps my favourite:

Highly suggestive, circling back through imagination from the brutally stitched witnessed opening of the dog's wound, and rendering an eerie yet plausible history of the dog's fate, the language is gorgeous and precise, filtered through a tight lens to capture a quick event with astonished non-judgement.

Several other poems attain a similarly vivid impression, blending harsh image with a kind of sliding internal "inscape", to use Gerard Manley Hopkins' term for tattooed imagination linking the real with the ephemeral and lyrical. Also similar to Hopkins' achievement (in kind, if not degree) is Babstock's simultaneous internalizing of concentrated experience, both brief and simultaneous, from which a larger realization can either be epiphanic or fearful, depending on the specific fast-flowing presence of the speaker. This is complex in both experience and art, and that Babstock even dares to attempt it is bold; that he succeeds -- to the latter detail -- in any degree is a measure of his poetic worth.

I felt the last half of the book dragged. The precious "we", which I always cringe at, and which is unfortunately rampant in modern Canadian poetry, crops up in a number of poems. This presumptive choice of pronoun attempts to both link disparate and individual experiences into a pseudo-spiritual elevation, and it (in my mind) attempts an even greater transgression: that of pandering to the reader's better nature through subtle didactic concinnity.

The third-to-last poem in the collection, "To See It For What It Isn't Until We Have To Go" is a kind of obverse Wallace Stevens poem: the experience failing to translate to the bliss of transformative imagination. One of the many strengths of Babstock is the overwhelming strong passages of "show me, don't tell me", but here as well as in several of the back-end poems we have a creeping philosophizing, not patronizing, but annoying all the same. And the language suffers for it, as it usually does when abstractions reign: "....So, habit seeded by hours soaked/in indirection, ennui, when seeing meant//seeing an object recede, like a thing one loved/that couldn't love back or even mimic the act/of attention, and so to draw it near//....".

The poem's last stanza runs: "Do we get a little precious about it? Yes, and why/not, if we fail to inflate the love in order to take/in more, we're left with what it was." No, Ken, if you (not "we") fail to inflate a love, or a desired object, it means you won't agonize as much from idealized and unrealized desire. What goes up comes down. "Left with what it was" is its own deep love and realization, always unfolding.

One area where this second Babstock collection outshines the first is in its more varied mood and voice: the grim or athletic intensity gives way at times to a calm acceptance, a stance from different living things and even inanimate objects (the delightful "The 7-Eleven Formerly Known as Rx"), playfulness, and occasional distancing, which contrasts more effectively (at times), by zooming in and out, with the living quickness of the moment as well as its overarching effect or import.

I'm looking forward to reading his "Airstream Land Yacht" next.

Friday, March 14, 2008

War Pass

The precocious colt War Pass goes tomorrow at Tampa Bay Downs, listed at 1/2, but likely to go off at 1/5. Beyers of 103 and 113 in October have yet another legitimate Triple Crown prospect in play.

I've been playing Tampa every race day this winter and I'm looking forward to the tilt, though the Zito charge could still canter by the length of the grandstand in a no-match.

If all goes well with him, New York's Wood Memorial is next (and last) up before the Kentucky Derby.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Peak Oil Show on History Channel Tonight

At 8 pm Pacific Time.

It's good to see Peak Oil finally starting to hit the main media outlets. My prediction will be that, shortly or in several years, Peak Oil will replace Global Warming as the acknowledged immediate danger, though GW and other converging problems will worsen the overall situation.

From tonight's show's outline:


Mega Disasters: Oil Apocalypse

The oil that our world runs on won't last forever. The gap between supply and demand is ever increasing. Will alternative energy save us or is it already too late? What would happen to the world as we know it when our oil dependent industries come to a grinding halt? A worldwide depression is a certainty but a power struggle for the basic necessities of life would be complete chaos.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

George Steiner

Steiner, to my amazement, in an interview I just experienced, said that his father inculcated in him a desire that to teach was more important than to create.

Creators work their magic from thin air; they originate. They borrow, and are influenced, yes, but only from a long line of antecedent like-souled driven creators.

The teacher, critic, reviewer (Steiner, in the relevant irony) is entirely dependent upon the creator. An artist can teach. But without the artist, a teacher is out of a job.

Irving Layton reacted in similar fashion to Northrop Frye's contention than a critic was the parallel force to the creator, the synergistic necessity. The poet dismissed this as: "Fleas need dogs; but I've never known a dog who needed its fleas". Layton, angered at teachers' hubristic defense, compared their operation to that of "parasites".

Of course, Layton was, himself, a teacher, and many artists are also critics. But the hierarchical observance is important. I feel that Steiner (and others) inflate the role of the critic/teacher in order, by relentless attachment, to piggyback the Parnassian adventures of the creators they admire (or deride), and in doing so, acquiring a hoped-for reflected glory.

Critics are important; teachers are indispensible. But without creators, even the best teachers would be instructing their acolytes in the best way to hold a fork at the dinner table, or in the vagaries of deconstructionist relativist ambiguity in the third-removed footnoted transmissions of Derrida.

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Light" Verse

I write a lot of light, ridiculous verse. "Unredeeming" verse, to some or many. I do so for four main reasons:

1) I have fun doing it. If writing verse (or even "serious" poetry)is a drag, an excruciating labour, an obligation, then why bother? The remuneration sucks, any "fame" is fleeting (and usually overblown in the poet's mind), and the work is overwhelmingly likely to be forgotten in short order, if it finds an audience at all.. Creative mischievousness, however, is its own reward, and is time well spent.

2) Any audience that happens to come in contact with it may get a chuckle, jolt, or satisfying received transmission of wit.

3) It keeps one's creative flexibility, interest, and focus at the ready when a more substantive mood or idea is born.

4) In regards to (2) above, most so-called "serious" poetry is boring, pretentious, and inept. The reader is justifiably chloroformed, faintly annoyed, and/or confused about what is on offer, and indeed, is concerned about why the effort was made in the first place. Light verse is traded with the purpose of entertaining, but it also serves (at times) a more subtle purpose and effect of deflating the preponderance of self-important banalities from every seeming corner of our poetic landscape, as well as insinuating (O necessary snake!) a needed satiric bite into the wooden appleflesh on our collective sleeping boughs (mine included).

Noone's immune from the drowse, since the forces of creative inertia are a social frozen tsunami. Light verse, satirical prose, critical thought and expression, are (if good) valuable counterpoints to the dreck compounding in our pages like the credit derivative swaps which infect everyone in international ways we can't detect or completely separate ourselves from.

And at its best, "light" verse can transcend its seeming limitations of scope, and can become more "serious" than many other efforts which outline the author's grand "sensitivities".

Robert Bly derided light verse, and I wasn't surprised to read that about him: his poetry is unremittingly solemn (and unmusical, but that's another matter).

Ralph Gustafson said that "there are those who believe that light verse is not serious. That notion is not to be entertained" (close to the direct quote).

Here's something from me that has no pretension of being sold as a keeper, or admitted to a century anthology. All the same, I enjoyed writing it some time ago:


Crossstitched, my eyelids, to a hospital pillow.
The clothes outside are faint eggshell blue. They billow
While the humid matron pumps horse-meds down my throat
With a two-by-four back-up and a rubber goat.

Help me, dreamLove! Defrost my poems and bite my lips.
Float here; sing a lullabye while I let one rip.
Flip cartwheels. Install butter in my dressing gown.
I think one of the nurses saw my backside and frowned.

Ahoy! I'll abet the rumours with furious glee--
See the straightjacket wall strings covered with cat pee?
That's my work, I composed it for you, matchless Love,
Though your eyes cross, twitch when espying my wet glove.
Ahh! Another old fart, the minister of the ward
Has come creeping 'round my sickroom with a pen sword.
He's trying to convert me to the other side
Where poems are big and my head voices don‘t chide.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Busy Day

I've almost finished work, and have a few minutes before socializing and then setting out to see and hear world finger-picking guitar champ Don Alder, with his friend Masa Sumide (over from Japan). Verna organized the concert, and will be singing a few songs with them, as well. I'll be at the door extracting greenbacks and recipes for cajun chicken casserole.


My friend Marc composed a hilarious affectionate parody of Walt Whitman's "Song Of Myself" some time ago, renaming it "Song Of My Wank". During the middle stretch, he became stuck and asked me to complete verses 34-36 (the first of these obviously hard to match in any way as to a light-hearted take-off). So here's my rendition of verse 34:

Now I tell the unofficial history and future of culture
(Six-pack gym-ridden nulliparous G.I. Janes
Escaping their dreary nine-to-five cubicles,
The millions and millions and millions are noisily dumb even today).
It is the tale of the murder in cold blood of creativity in the young men and women of
…my past generation.

Retreating from glades with ornate, proud calligraphy on Erato's breastplates,
Hundreds of brilliant poems stuck stillborn, ripped from quivering uvulas, was the
.... price they paid for refusing to march lock-step with the Man.
Essenin going insane, Mayakovsky turtling and retching in private, Trakl
.... overdosing with hundreds of gored soldiers circling like crimson mandalas.
They retreated, befuddled and silenced, gave up their satires and maledictions,
Oblique lyrical ironies, recording mirror-horrors,
.... and marched off the lines of bloody parchments.

They were the glory of the race of oracles,
Matchless with metaphor, symbol, character assessment, moral compass,
.... admonitory darts puncturing the penguin pomposity and brute stupidity.
Large with dreams, turbulent, handsome, proud, and affectionate,
Not a single one a flunky bureaucrat or regurgitating poltroon.

Technocrats wielding advertisements for the good life massacred them all, it was
.... a strikingly beautiful summer day.
Equivocating bland daggers of clich├ęd halitosis covered them in three hours.

None obeyed the command to convert to ad execs or political speechwriters.
Hart Crane jumped overboard, Berryman jumped from the bridge, Cesar Vallejo --
.... grave and proud -- starved amidst overfed burghers.
Djilas jailed, Mandelstam vaporized,
Rimbaud, just past seventeen, gun waving, put down his pen in disgust
.... at the middle-class who machine gunned the remnants with job offers
.... of gold-plated pensions, company vehicles, comprehensive medical for
.... fat chins and skinny souls.

At eleven o'clock began the burning of the poems
In all the minds of the fledgling imaginative.


edit: I see the marathon line doesn't work with this layout, making for unintentional enjambments. Ah, well ....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Polluted Pantoum


My Love diddles with a garden hose,
The Martians are spry and nimble,
The neighbour inhales bug spray up his nose,
Wolverines body slam the cymbals.

The Martians are spry and nimble,
Aliens raid the cellar pantry,
Wolverines body slam the cymbals,
My Love has lost her see-through panties.

Aliens raid the cellar pantry,
The neighbour has overdosed again,
My Love has lost her see-through panties,
Wolverines toast marshmallows in the glen.

The neighbour has overdosed again,
The police have surrounded the house,
Wolverines toast marshmallows in the glen,
Empty bottles, everyone's soused.

The police have surrounded the house,
The neighbour inhales bug spray up his nose,
Empty bottles, everyone's soused,
My Love diddles with a garden hose.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Eclogue Between Three Poets


(Eclogue in the English countryside between Philip Larkin, Thomas Hardy, and D H Lawrence.)

LAWRENCE: I'm transformed! Fucking birds and insects! The sulphuric pollen pushing, dry lava from anther pockets, my steel sepal saluting in perpetuity!

LARKIN: Fuck that! There's too much fucking in this world. I haven't had my dick wet since 1942. Bombs flooding copses? Keep your emotions. I just toss one off three p.m. every Sunday. And I forgot my Scotch.

LAWRENCE: Ah, Larkin, you're a Willie Wet Leg. A putz without a home. Every day above ground is a gift. What joy to be here, and away from the throng circling gaslights in cloak-and-dagger ennui.

LARKIN: And surrounded by kamikaze bugs and philosophical tawdriness. Bah!

LAWRENCE: Ha! We're in Divine presence, a holy hill of heather and broom! Celebrate!

HARDY: (waking up groggily) God is asleep. We're all toast.

LAWRENCE: Come, Tom, if God's asleep, then it's up to us to take the mantle of authority and decorate it with our ecstatic sperm!

HARDY: ( z-z-z-z-z-z .... )

LARKIN: I need a drink.

LAWRENCE: Tom, you're not fooling me, I see you peeking at the rolling clouds through the interstices of your bony fingers.

HARDY: The architecture of the sky is gothic in my imagination.

LAWRENCE: Well, at least you're not in the same pickle as Larkin. Speaking of pickles, yours must still be getting wet, Tom. Married for a half-century ....

HARDY: Huh? I've built a spiral staircase on the outside of my cottage so's I can go straight from outside to my cloistered den, never even seeing her for days. We have a good arrangement. God knows what she's all about.

LARKIN: David and Frieda are happy, though ....... I hate public poetry readings, but I'd like to read to you guys, and hear your own. Tom, "The Darkling Thrush" would be apropos for my mood.

HARDY: (sits up, clears throat):

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

LAWRENCE: Bravo, Tom!

LARKIN: Here, here!

LAWRENCE: The wind sweeps this pulsing hill, a lover calling us home.