Sunday, June 09, 2019

'I Like the Way You Go About a Sentence'

  Thomas Hardy, born in 1840:

The main object of religion is not to get a man into heaven, but to get heaven into him.

“Sometimes a "mistake" can end up being the best decision you ever make.”
Mandy Hale

  How one hippie town became the anti-vaxxer capital of Australia

Pull out all the stops: Textual analysis via punctuation sequences.
“Whether enjoying the lucid prose of a favorite author or slogging through some other writer’s cumbersome, heavy-set prattle (full of parentheses, em-dashes, compound adjectives, and Oxford commas), readers will notice stylistic signatures not only in word choice and grammar, but also in punctuation itself. Indeed, visual sequences of punctuation from different authors produce marvelously different (and visually striking) sequences. Punctuation is a largely overlooked stylistic feature in “stylometry”, the quantitative analysis of written text.


FASTER, PLEASE: Men with prostate cancer offered hope by ‘search and destroy’ treatment. 

Sound Wars: Where Silence Isn’t Silent And Sound Battles Sound

There are days when sitting in a room that noiseless sounds appealing. But some people are so unaccustomed to such levels of quiet that, after just a few minutes inside the chamber, they become disoriented.  – The New Yorker

Walking Backwards” is in The Collected Poems of Henri Coulette(University of Arkansas Press, 1990):
“The horizon follows me.

The tall buildings lurch by.

“I overtake someone,

or someone turns and smiles.

“We stop and make small talk:

'I Like the Way You Go About a Sentence'

“They read the lines of boredom
in the rare book of my face.

“They read between the lines
and turn away, hurt.   

“I leave them. I leave the squares
of which I am an angle,

“And the truths, the great truths,
at the ends of their chains, barking.”

On my first recent rereading, it was the poem’s final lines, reminiscent of Orwell’s “smelly little orthodoxies,” that grabbed me. Like rabid dogs, many possessors of today’s fashionable truths – global warming, say, and the depredations of capitalism – snap and froth and make a mess on the floor. To suggest there might be another way to look at things is to risk censure or worse.

Sunday supper: The American tradition that cuts across cultures.
Mikesell, the father of three children and owner of a Strip District cafe, found he was tired of making those same excuses and hearing them from other people, so he decided to bring back the Sunday supper.
“With all this stuff that’s going on in the world and the breakdown of the family, I wanted to be part of something that brought that kind of traditional value back for people who either have lost their family to other parts of the country or to age, or to people who moved here and want that sense of belonging,” he said.
Like his grandmother and mother before him, cooking gives Mikesell an euphoric joy. “It is a true sense of purpose, I am creating and adding and making a mess and sharing with people the thing I do best: cook. There is something about people uniting over a heaping bowl of ricotta balls and pasta that is joyful, and I get to be part of it and in turn other people get to be part of it,” he said.
Several months ago, he decided to make a Sunday supper. He set a large table, cooked an overabundance of food (five courses), and said a little prayer hoping people would come. He did not use social media or an evite or any modern tools of communication. Like the old neighborhood he grew up where a story could pass from one porch to another faster than any text, he just told a handful of people and waited.
He had no idea if anyone would come.
“I set that table for 40 people, cooked for 80 …” he joked.
“By 5 p.m. I was glad I cooked for 80, because that is almost how many people came.”

A Spital Tongues Gargantua

When do you work?’, W. says. ‘When do you have ideas?’ But he knows the answer. I am too busy to work, I tell him. I am troubled to have ideas.
I’ve been institutionalised, W. says. Bureaucratised! It was when I became the perfect administrator that I stopped doing any real philosophical work.
What do I do in my office?, W. wonders. Answer emails. Fill out spreadsheets. Take home management communiqués, and read them with bloodshot eyes. And what do I do in the evenings? He sees me, in his mind’s eye, W. says, opening a bottle of wine in the squalor of my flat after a day at work. He sees me, booting up my laptop, getting ready to write.
But that’s my problem!, W. says. I think that writing is the same as having ideas, when in reality, they are entirely different. You have to stop writing to have an idea, W. says. You have to pause and wait. Thought has to come to you, W. says, not you to it. You can't force thought by writing.
My writing is really the enemy of philosophy, W. says. Its waters close over the head of thought. Its dark matter occludes the sprawl of stars and planets. Its mantras drown out the holy scriptures. 
In the beginning was the non-Word, W. says; in the beginning, there was no beginning. A kind of eternal seething instead. The licking of black flames... Nothingness turning in nothingness... The void, thickening, and thinning out... That's what he hears in my writing, W. says. That's what rumbles in his head when he reads me online.
Of course, it’s worse for me when I actually stop writing, W. says. It’s worse when I collapse into my bed and try to sleep. He pictures me, staggering around my flat in the early hours, amidst the squalor, amidst the mould spores and the flies, preparing for bed. He sees me, drunk, or half drunk on Tesco’s cheapest wine, ranging around my flat like the abominable snowman, with my dressing gown flapping around me ...
‘You can never sleep, can you? You’ve never been able to sleep’, W says. He sees me, lying sleepless in bed, full of great paranoid imaginings about the way I think they’ll sack me. He sees me, lying there, quite panicked, fearing that I’ll be sent back to the dole queue. And he sees me, falling asleep at last, collapsing into unconsciousness at last, just as dawn breaks, and the birds start singing, just as, at the opposite end of the country, W. is waking up, ready to begin his studies. He sees me, dreaming fitfully about working out my notice and exit interviews. He sees me, mouthing the words, No!, No!, in my half-sleep ... And he sees my eyes open again, the Leviathan awake, rolling out of my bed like a Spital Tongues Gargantua ...