This article on rap music by Daniel Levin Becker catches my attention… especially this assessment of Rap music…

Rap music serves, consistently, contagiously, sometimes in spite of its own claims to the contrary, as a delivery mechanism for the most exhilarating and crafty and inspiring use of language in contemporary American culture.

… i struggle to get very much into Rap, even as i am aware of its enormous significance… i keep trying though… this article may be a window in, as it analyzes lines from a number of songs (raps?) and so could point me to some raps to listen to…

This is just it: taking words at face value is what good rappers almost militantly don’t do. They find the blind angles, the shortcuts, the secret overlaps, and use them, sometimes, to build stunning models of invention and entente, spaces where small discords combine into larger resolutions and we see, hear, how boring it would be to live in a perfect world where like belongs only with like.

… hmmm… saving this article…

First notes…

227.8 lbs

… 24 hrs till departure… things are more or less on track… a few more dangling ends than i would like, but they should be tied up by end of day…

… we watched A Very Murray Christmas last night… it was generally good except for the patriarchal configuration which was generally pretty traditional and maybe more than a little outdated?… it contained the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside, which has come to be known in some quarters as the “date rape song”… as i was listening to it the only thing that stood out to me was the “what’s in this drink” line, which suggests to some in present day audiences that the woman is being drugged… i get that, but, as usual the situation seems more nuanced… it’s worth reading this wikipedia article which outlines the controversy over the song… it is interesting that as contexts change, meanings change too… i generally like the song and the most significant thing to me is that the woman, while resisting, essentially consents… at no time in any performance of the song does she seem out of control… the “what’s in this drink?” line did hang me up a bit… the wikipedia article explains that this line essentially quotes “a common idiom of the period used to sidestep social expectations by blaming one’s actions on the influence of alcohol.”…

… we also watched Chocolat, which was a great movie with a wonderful cast, Jonny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin… it was a Babbette’s Feast movie except it’s more direct target was the Catholic Church entrenched Patriarchy of a small town… i look up Babbette’s Feast and just reading the Wikipedia article explaining the plot i am in tears… what a beautiful film and story… i discover it is based on a short story by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)… i find a pdf of the story and save it to Evernote… i want to read it…

… i’ve gone down a rabbit hole, one thing leading to the next… what bliss…

What i read…

Exclusive: Nadia Lee Cohen’s Powerful Portraits of Strong Femininity, Ted Stansfield, AnOther Magazine… Nadia Lee Cohen turns the idea of Male/Female gaze into something quite different…

Power is the key word here – these images vibrate with the stuff. They confront you. Command you. Compel you. Meet your gaze head on. And they are full of contradictions, too: simultaneously retro and modern, they draw on a legacy of British and American cinema, but feel new and current. Likewise they are staged and stylised, but at the same time real and irrefutably raw. Meanwhile, the women themselves display both a vulnerability and a strength, presenting a fictional character and also their true self, or at least a version of it. It’s hard to look away and even harder not to feel something.

… i read that this project took six years to accomplish… i admire the discipline of a woman in her 20’s… i imagine they have fierce ambition and incredible focus…

Inside Nadia Lee Cohen’s New Book of Chameleonic Self-Portraits, Ted Stansfield, AnOther Magazine… not a unique idea, but a unique execution of the idea…

Place: Ikea Parking Lot, Anelise Chen, Believer Magazine… i plunge in to reading the article and immediately like it… as i am reading, i get the strong impression that i am inhabiting the thoughts of a woman… i knew, without having seen who the author was, that it was a woman…

For me, extended time in parking lots has always signified an emergency, precise moments of narrative dissolution: one version of the good life has come apart irretrievably, and you must, humbly, construct another. Outside hospitals and motels, breakups and breakdowns. I paced because pacing feels like the good, primal thing to do when a body is penned in. It’s what lions and tigers do in their zoo enclosures. Back and forth, up and around, prowl, prowl, repeat. I organized my movements by row: up and down the parking rows toward the now-dim signs for exchanges, returns, exit, enter. The circularity of the movements, plus the weird, abstract commands, felt cosmic. I was in an undetermined space of pure matter, performing a ritual of eternal reincarnation, living many lives.

… didn’t love the way this piece ended, but i love the idea of pacing in super large parking lots to clear one’s head, and then, beginning to pay attention to what is in that lot, which is way more than one would think…

Stuff I’ve Been Reading: Rickie Lee Jones, Emma Dabiri, and More, Nick Hornby, Believer Magazine… a set of well written and compelling impressions of the books in question… impressions seems the right word, because i don’t read these as critical reviews, just an accounting of a book enjoyed thoroughly… also, in the course of reading these impressions i encounter the author referring to themselves as ‘he’ again… it happened in the article above, which led me to search for information on the author and confirm that they present as female and refer to themselves as ‘she’… so now i am wondering what is going on… is being gender confusing a thing and i am out of the loop? Hmmm…

… and now i discover that Summer Thomad is not the author of the articles i am reading, but for some reason comes up with the byline when the articles feed through to Feedbin… i circle back and follow the links through to the Believer Mag website and find the actual authors and switch credit accordingly and the pronoun mystery continues because it turns out i am right about the parking lot article, written by a (Asian) woman… her bio on Wikipedia refers to them as ‘her’ and ‘she’ while she self-refers as male in the body of the article… hmmm some more…

… by the way, i really like The Believer Magazine

Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity, Maria Popova, The Marginalian… i am a walker… i walk every day… my daily goal is at least 10K steps… right now, my weekly average is close to 15K steps… i walk, i think, i make pictures… this has gotten me through the pandemic in good shape… it turns out that Maria Popova is a walker too…

Almost everything I write, I “write” in the notebook of the mind, with the foot in motion — what happens at the keyboard upon returning from the long daily walks that sustain me is mostly the work of transcription.

Maria Popova’s recommendations on reading are always compelling… i have found so much of what i read through her…

Senator Blumenthal Delivered Speech at Communist Party Awards, Brittany Bernstein, National Review… red bating is a time honored tradition of conservatives… this reads like a political hit job… is there something wrong with what Blumenthal did?… why should his wealth-by-wife be any more of an issue than Mitch McConnel’s?… i am fine with socialist policies… not so much with communism… i also believe in freedom of association and speech…

Gone Too Far, Brendan Dougherty, The National Review… refreshing for this substantially right of center magazine to publish an article stating that:

But the riot at the Capitol happened because President Donald Trump simply lied, and lied, and lied. On that very day he lied about what the vice president’s powers were. “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people,” he told the crowd.

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW says not to worry what people will think about his journal writing, time will eradicate what it needs to and embrace the rest… he thinks people will blush reading the journal, not in 200 years time, maybe a little in 100 years time… well, it is not quite 80 years time that i am reading it… no blushing here… i suppose he might have been referring to some of his remarks about people he met… he sometimes wasn’t kind… people who knew the people might blush…

… DW is more and more often sick… all of this flows from the accident he had when 20… i wonder what got so messed up the it should become a slow but steady decline until he dies in his early 30’s… what the cosmos serves up to people… it’s a crap shoot really… by any measure, the cosmic forces that be have smiled on me… i wish i felt better about it all… i still want to find that fundamental truth that makes it all ok…

Life, A User’s Manual, Georges Perec

… a very curious book describing in minute detail characters that the world might generally pass by, but who are exceptional and deeply contoured in their own obscure ways… it reminds me of the realm of true outsider artists, not the posers, but the people who make art just to make… that there might be a market for their creations in the art world is not of consequence to them… they just make… this seems a great deal like the characters in Perec’s novel… they come and go… they contribute what they contribute which is ignored by most of the world…

… in this passage Perec anticipates the ability to tag items digitally, which came with the age of personal computing:

What he would have liked would be to link each label to the next, but each time in respect of something else: for example, they could have some detail in common, a mountain, or volcano, an illuminated bay, some particular flower, the same red and gold edging, the beaming face of a groom, or the same dimensions, or the same typeface or similar slogans (“Pearl oof the Ocean”, “Diamond of the Coast”), or a relationship based not on similarity but on opposition or a fragile, almost arbitrary association: a minute village bay an Italian lake followed by the skyscrapers of Manhattan, skiers followed by swimmers, fireworks by candlelit dinner, railway by aeroplane, baccarat table by chemin de fer, etc. It’s not just hard, Winckler added, above all it’s useless: if you leave the labels unsorted and take two at random, you can be sure they’ll have at least three things in common.1

… and here i consider the extensive tagging system that i am developing for my journal…


  1. Perec, Georges, Life, a Users’s Manual [return]

Kitchen and Coffee Cafe

… cold this morning… i decide to stop at K&C at opening, 7 AM, it’s a bit of a madhouse… the Thanksgiving orders in the final stages of assembly… the tables all covered with bags of gluten-free baked goods… much busier than i expected…

… i open up Shifting the Silence by Etel Adnan… she writes about Barrett Watten, Plan B

… i finish Shifting the Silence, read about Etel Adnan… she studied philosophy, became a painter, became a poet, became a novelist, a journalist… very accomplished…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW was continually meeting strangers, having extended conversations with them and often being invited into their homes… he seems to have met people easily… more easily than i do… was it an easier time for people meeting?…

… DW has incorporated the people he knew into his fictional work without much disguise, often changing their last names while retaining the first… i have a feeling that i should read at least one of the fictional works, but i am anxious to move on to the so-many-other books i have waiting… to dive further down the rabbit hole or not, that is the question…

… after 10 years, Evie leaves him to work for some ladies in Cornwall though it seems it didn’t last more than a month and it seems Eric and DW didn’t expect it to last long…

… this:

 I know tonight it is best for me to be alone most of the time — near people who wish me well and like to see me, but alone; for in loneness everything seems to grow into its proper place and there’s hardly any waste of spirit. What little there is does not offend, it’s is one’s own fault, one lets it pass.1

… how well i relate to this sentiment… precisely the way i like my world to operate…

… and this:

 yet it is most important to have people near one that one need hardly see. Without this consciousness of other human beings I think almost all of us are liable to be swamped by the power of matter. One’s strength is not enough to bear this with no other help near.2

… this makes me remember the countless hours i have spent in coffee shops and lunch shops, just to be near people but not, generally, to talk with them, unless they were attractive young women…

… i miss pre-covid life… i felt comfortable with more people around me then… i have chosen Trax on 52 as my winter “headquarters,” precisely because so few people go there in the morning… i would rather go to Big Mouth or even Kitchen and Coffee (despite it’s plain vanilla decor and music)… there are more people there as the hour gets later… i like to start with a place virtually empty, then watch the regulars and newcomers come and go… i like to observe and write about them in this journal… the pandemic has not been easy, but i have been well suited to what it requires of us for safety… my habits didn’t change much at all…

… DW has an old doll house he got from a friend… he lovingly restored it… he mentions it in his journals when he finds something suitable to add to its interior… at this moment he mentions a little pin cushion in the shape of a stool that is so much more the stool than the pin cushion that he buys it immediately for the doll house… it is interesting to be furnishing one’s full scale living quarters simultaneously with a doll house… a house within a house, like the nested Russian dolls… one imagines that he wears the full-scale house and decor, as most of us do, as an extension of his psyche, but also, this miniature house… do they engage different aspects of the nesting instinct?… one could build a short story around this…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 270 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 270 [return]

Shifting the Silence, Etel Adnan

Kevin Killian and elements is metioned… KK is a poet, playwright and more… he died in 2019… elements refers to The Elements, a book of poems only published in French right now…

Life is daily, death is eternal; it means that eternity is useless. We live as if we knew that: we hang on details, keep searching, to keep the illusion alive, the illusion that things matter. But is that mere illusion? I don’t always think so.1

… we all hope there is more to things than this daily life, many of us even accept there is not… but not quite…

Too much of a past, too little ahead, but wait a minute, we always lived day to day, so where’s the difference?2


  1. Sifting the Silence, Etel Adnan. [return]
  2. Ibid. [return]

Etel Adnan, Shifting the Silence, rejoiced by Maria Popova

Painting by Etel Adnan from Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure, Guggenheim Museum, 2021. (Photograph: Maria Popova)

… no secret, i am a big fan of Maria Popova… this post on Etel Adnan’s Shifting the Silence is a wonderful read… and now, i have added yet another book to my reading list… i need to carve out more reading time… i am having such fun with it…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… i am passing through a stretch where journal entries are long and very detailed… the kind of details that flesh out a scene, make it more than matter of fact circumstance, people and objects described as if DW wants to take firm possession of them in his memory…

… i think about the Perec book, with the minimal detail of unremarkable things, only finding the barest representation of what the thing or person or animal is and leaving it at that… i begin to realize there are many ways to report out on the quotidian…

… DW seems to be most concerned with the objects that accompany his and other’s lives, the way that people impact him, noting his feelings about them…

… i am trying to put my finger on something… the way these journals unfold… they are tellings of daily happenings and impressions and you know that there won’t be a dramatic climax, but rather a series of smaller climaxes along with their attendant valleys… the rhythm of a life… none of it terribly important but all of it necessary…

An Attempt At Exhausting A Place, Georges Perec

… i decide it is ok to jump Perec to the front of the reading line… it is a journal of what passes through his vision as he sits at various cafes watching the movement (a favorite pastime of the French i was told when i visited many, many years ago)… nothing is described in any depth, just the for the moment notable details… on the back jacket of the book is written:

One overcast weekend in October 1974, Georges Perec set out in quest of the “intraordinary”: the humdrum, the nonevent, the everyday—“what happens,” as he put it, “when nothing happens.”

… it is interesting… he builds up an impression of place, its rhythms, inhabitants, just noted as passing through and impinging on his senses… little details, a priest back from a trip (there is an airline tag still fixed to his bag)…

… i do a similar thing with images… when i sit down to write i select some of the various non-events to write about in more depth… he writes just the apparent facts, never speculating without reason what this individual or that individual might be about…

… i imagine the book staged as a play… a solo performance… a man sits on a chair, center stage, and recites the book to the audience… the impressions build in the audience… the non-events surface memories of experiences that have more depth in each individual… to the quotidian surface details the audience adds their individual depths… would anyone come see it?…

… the thought that when i make pictures, edit them, and put them together for viewing that i make non-events events…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… the war injects itself more and more… deaths on the front… V-1 (doodle-bug) rocket bombs starting to fall…

_On Thursday last I went towards the river and I saw truck after truck with a huge red cross on it winding slowly along the road — quite 50 of them. And I thought of the soldiers inside — their wounds and torn bodies.

I picnic by the river in the boiling sun, in only my shorts; then I bicycled right along the banks until I felt the sun burning into the dip between my shoulder blades.1

… these two paragraphs together are surprising… DW observes the war from a distance, getting on with the pleasures of his life… it’s quite the juxtaposition…

… DW talks about Italian prisoners of war roaming the countryside and going for swims in the streams… no POW camps?…

… DW picnics all the time… the war seems of little consequence and concern, impinging on him daily and sometimes dangerously close, but his reporting of it is like the reporting of a minimal nuisance, like a mosquito… he sees it but it seems to have little impact… one wonders if he ever thought of volunteering his time?… if so, he never mentions it… overall, he seems very self involved… on the other hand, aren’t journals the place where we get to be self involved?…

_ in the past through the barley field by East Peckham sluice gates I found a little flat red stone or piece of glass with a masonic symbol on it; and I have put it in my pocket for my fortune. Up above, the doodle bugs are whizzing up to London with the guns banging black puffs in the sky.

Just in the river was a vicious plop, which is a spiked finger of shrapnel diving.2

… there is something surreal about the way he recounts all this… as if he is narrating a film, not actually threatened with death and dismemberment…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 157 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 160 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… Eric Oliver appears in DW’s life… it is interesting how matter of fact DW is about his gayness… he describes in great detail time spent with EO, makes it very clear that he loves him, but has yet to say anything much about a sexual relationship…

… a remarkable passage of existential angst…

 Again I felt nothing but all the sadness and parting and dying and diseases in the world. All the accidents and hate in the long, long everlasting going-on-ness of it all. I thought that I and Eric and all people living were nothing but the reflection of all the thousand million people who have gone before, and I thought that in a long time, almost no time at all, we would all be gone again and swept away.1

… it’s all EO all the time now… total infatuation… EO seems to be bisexual… DW describes the attraction between him and a woman friend, and how they go off together alone to do he knows exactly what… apparently EO thought the girl was “passionate”… sexuality is implied often but not talked about overtly… discretion seems to be the dominating force… finally, there is a kiss, one, to comfort… he so doesn’t make a point of the homosexuality… it just is and this is probably as it should be…

… i did a search on Eric Oliver who’s noted accomplishment seems confined to being Denton Welch’s companion and executor of his estate…


  1. Welch, Denton, The Journals of Denton Welch, p 125 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… what an interesting entry:

 I seem to have spent a great deal of my childhood in prison — other people’s prisons. The Black Tulip prison, the French Revolution prisons, the Spanish Inquisition prisons. And the horror of those prisons was so real to me that I often look back and vaguely remember straw, the filthy food, the oozing walls and the toads on the floor, as if I were really once in that situation. Whenever I hear about prisons, I seem to imagine that I have experience confinement myself.

… would one engage so strongly in prison fantasy if one were not feeling in a prison themselves?… i wonder what DW’s prison was… certainly it was his physical infirmity in adulthood, but this memory takes place in childhood before the accident that ruined his health… would it be closeted homosexuality?… that would be the major suspect, but without knowing more about his life, i don’t know if there were other prisons to be endured…

… DW describing a visit to a wealthy woman to deliver a painting of her pug… DW seems to be comfortably bourgeois… i think to myself that a painting of a pug could not be breaking any new ground in art… is it pandering to the wealthy for sustenance?… the journals so far leave me with the impression that while DW was open to experiences, and rendered them in often considerable detail in his journals, that there isn’t anything particularly extraordinary about him other than his penchant for prose writing… i will have to read one of his fictional works before i arrive at a firm opinion… in any case, my efforts are no more groundbreaking or notable… not even as notable, because i’ve had little success at being noticed in general… he is going places and doing things that i can only imagine the equivalent of in my time on earth… my movement through this time and space is more mundane… yet i write about it and publish what i write… am i any less arrogant?…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… women continue to be “supporting cast” in DW’s journals… he is all about the men and seems to manage a level of intimacy with total strangers that is surprising given my understanding of the difficult time men have talking to one another… and i wonder if any of them suspect he is gay?… the men are brief encounters as he moves about the world… none yet has become a lover, or at least, that he is willing to tell about in his journals… i imagine him as an effeminate man who aspired to take the place of the ladies the young men he befriended would talk about as men do…

… an extended set of entries describing a rogue man named Monte… this set of entries becomes the basis of a book, we are told… Monte is an incorrigible liar and confidence man… one wonders whether these entries are entirely fact or already the fictional account that will make its way into a book at a later date… DW seems to have regularly penned things into his journal that were rough drafts or sketches for something more ambitious later…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… so far, i am not certain of the broader value of DW’s journaling… his descriptive powers and command of the English language are, as advertised, impressive… but he seems arrogant, self indulgent and often petty in his assessments of people around him… i am not sure i see the potential for any profound observations… an observation that dives to the core of what it is to be human in this cosmos… or perhaps he is the profound observation… a complicated human being that seems more honest than many in his journals…

… most who write about him or his work excuse his less attractive qualities because of his accident and the, reputedly, constant pain he suffered… they make him out as a kind of saint to endure such affliction and produce so much so well… i think at best one can excuse him for being young and vain, complicated by his unfortunate physical circumstances and consequent short life…

… i read further and recognize the over abundant passion of a young man responding to the cosmos around him… the lovely description of an oriental lacquer screen in the fading daylight…

… and then, a really lovely entry, from his sick bed, imagining an historic old house as it might have been inhabited more than a century before… observations of the solemn, harsh adults, the contrasting gaiety of children and of servants quarreling and making love… this starts to be less the arrogant, over passionate youth, and more the maturing writer who is beginning to understand restraint and, in any case, is focused on something other than himself for the moment…

… the description of a suicide attempt… the rough draft for a story… compelling… the editor of the book warns in a footnote that the scene is fictional… still, it compels me to think it real and i wonder whether there is some basis in facts as all DW’s work is autobiographical… he writes powerfully in this passage… i begin to be a fan despite his foibles…

On the writings of Shirley Jackson

… what an interesting article in the Bulwark this is… Shirley Jackson… i feel i know this name, but not as an author of fiction, but for another area of accomplishment… a search on the www turns up Shirley Ann Jackson, an African American, a woman, a renowned Physicist… hmmm, not what i was thinking, but an interesting find…

… back to the Shirley Jackson of the Bulwark article… it is a curious article for the Bulwark, which is usually centered on current news and politics, but makes sense if you think of Halloween as news… after reading the article, i also think it might be a sidewise reference to current political times… James Harris, one of Jackson’s curious characters, is described as a sinister presence that can turn a person to their dark side with the most minimal of interactions, say, talking to them over the phone… shades of 45?…

… i will find out if H has read any of her books… i might undertake to read Jackson’s writings out loud to them as a b’day preset?…

… when i search for The Haunting of Hill House, the book, i also turn up the Netflix series which i feel certain we have watched… i look it up and become convinced we have not, or at least, i have not…

… i also discover that there is a movie made in 1963 that is considered by some to be a brilliant interpretation of the novel…

… H’s birthday week is coming together!…

Daily Feed

Jackie Nickerson

Woman with floweres and dinosaurs III, 2020Photography by Jackie Nickerson

Photography by Jackie Nickerson

… as i look at the images i try to decide between gimmick and serious art work… i like the images, like the concept, but am i being seduced by something which really only has surface attraction?… she is described as a “world-class” photographer… she has earned her reputation in the fashion industry… interesting that these art/fashion photographs are about identity through, essentially, hats…

… the photography is from Salvage, her latest photobook… it explores the relationship between people and consumption in formal portraits… but what exactly does it say about that?… that we throw away some beautiful things that make cool face and head props in a photo project?…

… i look at the images… first take, cool… second take, what’s the message?… should we be forced to wear the wages of our sins?…

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.1

… as i think the words “wages of our sin” onto the computer screen, i look up the reference… a bible passage… and so, my thoughts about the photographs move to the objects plastered onto the heads of the models as some kind of cancerous growth… but not grotesque… somewhat disturbing but also beautiful… cleaned up, sanitized, cancerous growth…

… the pictures are compelling… would be easy to hang on the wall of ones living room… but… is the message lost in the glamour of the photography and art direction?…

Ann Barngrover, Taking Flight

… the author discusses the work of another author… Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights… i have, but have not yet read, H is for Hawk… Vesper Flights is a collection of essays… as i read the descriptions of the books, i am thinking they would make good Christmas gifts for my sister…

… i learn about the German concept of wunderkammer, “cabinet of wonders.”…

Originally depicting rooms rather than pieces of furniture, wunderkammers were most popular in Victorian times as enclosed spaces that held collections of rare or unexpected finds. Instead of functioning as museums, “It was expected that people should pick up and handle the objects in these cases; feel their textures, their weights, their particular strangenesses.” You could touch and hold mollusk shells and chinaware, pressed feathers and butterfly wings, beaded stones and the fragile candelabras of fish bones, things both natural and forged. “Nothing was kept behind glass,” Macdonald notes.2

… as i read about the concept of wunderkammer… i think, i have a wunderkammer… my studio is a wonderkammer in a way… i have lots of natural objects i have collected… a bag of such objects from Block Island, sitting on my bed right now… a windowsill full of them… i think, this could be an art project… a photo project…

… the author moves on to talk about a college course on Star Wars that she and her colleague designed and gave… she talks about the feminism in Star Wars… she talks about the male know-it-alls who claim exclusive dominion over Star Wars interpretation…

Indeed, wondering comes at a price. As Macdonald reminds us, “Increasingly, knowing your surroundings, recognising the species of animals and plants around you, means opening yourself to constant grief.” This is the sobering reversal of slowing down and rejoicing in complexity and nuance, beauty and depth. The more you slow down, the more you will find. The more you find, the more you will connect. The more you connect, the more you will love. The more you love, the more you will lose—maybe not today, but one day, one day soon.3

… a good essay… worth reading…

Reese Herrington, “Girl Talk”

Girl Talk, Photography by Reese Herrington

Girl Talk, Photography by Reese Herrington

… a young woman photographer photographs the women around her in appreciative, sensual and sexual ways… in the bedroom, the bathroom, the boudoir… if its women photographing women, is it objectification?… their Instagram site is more balanced…


  1. Bible, Romans 6:23, New International Version [return]
  2. Barngrover, Ann, Taking Flight: https://www.guernicamag.com/taking-flight/ [return]
  3. Ibid [return]

Lauren Elkin on Another

No. 91/92: A Diary of a Year on the Bus

… this book catches my attention… the come on about not looking at commuting the same every day… the still images of women staring blankly into space, which turn out not to be buy the author, but are, instead, film stills from movies by directors that are felt to be relevant to the work being discussed… the book comes from notes the author made on her phone as she traveled to and from work on the bus in Paris… this is the kind of thing that i have done… i am enthralled… i buy the Kindle version of the book to read while i am on vacation…

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective. David G. Lanoue

… what matters, that we all die, or that we sing along the way?…

The last example is perhaps the most dramatic and poignant. Issa introduces it with the head note, “Flood” (kôzui 洪水). The insect may be floating to his death, yet he keeps singing. Perhaps Issa sees himself in the insect; perhaps he sees in it the fate of all living creatures, for all are equally, eventually doomed. The important thing isn’t the inevitable death to which the currents of the universe sweep us; what matters, Issa implies, is to embrace the present moment … and sing.1

… what one of us isn’t concerned with the inevitable subsidence of our “conscious” being?… we are crafted to survive at all costs… it’s inbuilt that we worry about the integrity of the configuration of atoms and processes that constitute our bodies and consciousness, whatever that may mean… the Buddhist way is to work hard, through meditation and mindfulness of the present moment thinking, to let go of the obsession with dying which is, in any case, inevitable… so, the advice is to sing regardless of the situation you find yourself in…

… another way of looking at the poem referenced is that we are what we are, even in the face of disaster and imminent demise…

still singing the insect

is swept away …

floating branch

… and now i learn that animals of all kinds can be observed to dance… interact while moving in that exhibit structure and repetition… early humans learned to mimic these animal dances and would do so in ceremonial ways to encourage abundance and successful hunting, to become one with the animal being hunted… close identification with animals of all kinds allows behavior prediction… it also focuses mind and body on a successful encounter, whether the objective be to kill, capture or avoid…2

… the interesting question arises, does one need to know they are dancing to be dancing?… “I think, therefor I am.”3… i dance, therefor i dance?… to be the best kind of dancer i am sure a dance training master would suggest that one need’s to forget they are dancing and simply be the dance… i am groping towards something here… conscious, so called “rational thought,” is a hinderance to being in direct communication with one’s environment… it is impossible to hold anything sacred that is only “thought” about… one must be in seamless relationship with the world to hold the idea, the instinct, that it is sacred, worthy of respect and honor, of careful and respectful interaction… by writing poems about nature and animals and the world in general, one is setting themselves on intimate terms with all of that, dissolving the boundaries between self and cosmos…


  1. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 145). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. Ibid, with some embellishment and expansion by me. [return]
  3. Descartes [return]

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective, David G. Lanoue

  •  The deeper truth of his not purely whimsical poem is that frogs, just as much as humans, are fully part of this universe and, in their way, might appreciate its wonders.1
  • … i read this and think… hmmm… making just a little too much of a claim to animal sentience… but then, but then… i wonder if animals, when their basic needs have been met, take moments just to enjoy the good feeling of having needs met coupled perhaps with an idyllic evening, or afternoon, or morning?… my immediate thought is that they have more to fear from their surroundings than i and most of the humans I know do… can they ever let their guard down?… can they ever experience a moment of vulnerability?, of bliss?… my dogs do, i am pretty sure… wrapped in the security of having their basic needs met and being with humans who love them dearly and protect them, they can afford to have their guards down and perhaps enjoy a pleasant moment in the cosmos…

  1. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 137). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A buddhist Poet’s Perspective

  • i read about butterflies as road trip companions…
  • i learn about Arukigami, the God of Wandering… i learn that Arukigami entices people to leave their homes and walk about… sounds a little aboriginal to me…
  •  The haiku jokingly connects his and the cat’s restless journeys to a god’s influence, when in reality, as he and his readers must know, the force that compels a cat and a poet to wander is quite worldly: the cat seeks food or sex; the poet seeks inspiration for haiku—which, in turn, makes the attainment of food and sex (whether in marriage or in the brothels of which Issa sometimes writes) possible.1
  • i learn about winter seclusion, what Issa and poets before and after him did in the harsh winters… find a hut to hang out in and stay there until spring came around…
  • i learn that fukubiki can be translated as “Lucky the Toad,” and that Lucky is a common stand in name for toad…
  •  People are genetically programmed to be repulsed by the smell of rotten food, to be excited by the smell of good food, and to be attracted to partners whose faces and bodies exhibit symmetry that indicates health and might therefore ensure the passing of one’s genes to the next generation. If our human sense of beauty evolved from such primal impulses, we might come to suspect that nourishing flowers excite and draw butterflies to them because, to butterflies, they are beautiful.2… i think the question and thought needs to be reversed, that humans need to first acknowledge that as conscious as they appear to themselves, they are largely driven by “animal instincts,” which are the same instincts all animals and even plants possess, so a concept of beauty is the world at large attracting the animal to something beneficial…

  1. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 114). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 124). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective, David G. Lanoue

… Chapter 2, Anthropomorphism or Realism?…

… the difference between Basho and Issa…

cawing in the tree

are you a widow, crow?

Milky Way above1

… one of Basho’s most famous crow haikus:

on a bare branch

sits a crow…

autumn evening2

… in the first, poet and crow participate in the universe together and share existential possibilities and kinship… in the second, the poet channels his own loneliness and late stage of life through the crow… for Issa, animals are fellow travelers… for Basho, animals are symbolic of the human condition… of his condition…

… overall, this book has confirmed my sense that Issa is a “down to earth” poet… he keeps his poems grounded through anthropomorphism and a willingness to depict life in it’s every day sense…

… Issa observing the universal condition… every creature must “work” to survivie… food and shelter must be obtained and maintained… children must be conceived and fed and supported… life, for most creatures is work… we are blessed when we are one with the work that sustains our lives…


  1. Issa and the Meaning of Animals, p 99, translation David G. Lanoue [return]
  2. Issa and the Meaning of Animals, p 100, translation, David G. Lanoue [return]

Basho and His Interpreters, Selected Hokku with Commentary, Makoto Ueda

… a book i ordered a couple of weeks ago… i have decided to set The Analysis of Matter aside given that i will be traveling and won’t be able to concentrate as effectively as i would otherwise… i will read this book instead as i think it will be more digestible in short spurts… also, the spiritual dimensions of haiku may be helpful at this moment…

… the haiku as a stand alone poetic form grew out of renga, a form of linked verse composed by a group of poets gathered… the guest of honor initiates the sequence and each poet takes a turn composing subsequent phrases in the sequence… renga have been known to get as long as ten thousand verses but more usually were one hundred or less…

… i find myself a bit tired for concentration even on haiku…

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… today, the book is finished… the last notes discuss the origins of the haiku form and the difficulties of translating them… i am surprised that Robert Hass is not fluent in Japanese but rather, learned what he needed to learn to translate the poems, initially for his own pleasure/study, later for publication… he says he set himself the task of translating one haiku a day, which involved looking up the characters of both the Japanese and Chinese languages and deciphering what they meant or implied…

… at the very end, there is a list of elements of Haiku that make them difficult to render in English:

  • syntax… The swiftness of the syntax is one of the fascinating things about these poems, and I don’t think itv can be rendered.1
  • Rhythm… exists in the structuring of the lines, where there are shifts and changes in direction, which have the effect of taking a 5-7-5 structure and rendering it as 5-4-3-5 or 5-3-4-5…
  • Chinese Characters… Japanese is written in a combination of phonetic signs for individual syllable sounds and ideograms based on Chinese characters, or kanji2
  • Pivot Words… words that suddenly change the meaning, or the expectation of meaning, of a sentence, as you read it, a kind of grammatical double exposure.3
  • Seasonal Worlds… known as Kigo… as Mark Morris observes, “translation cannot convey the feeling of at-homeness, of being inserted in the cycle of a natural and ritual calendar that kigo communicate to the haikai reader.”4

… the earlier traditions of haikai and hokku, which birthed the haiku form, are compared to the call and response improvisation of jazz bands of the 1920’s…


  1. Robert Hass, The Essential Haiku, p 310 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 311 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 312 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 314 [return]