Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Quilt: The Case Against Education Shtetl-Optimized

I only want to write. And there's no college for that except life
— Dodie Smith, born in 1896

Accept everything about yourself- I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end-no apologies, no regrets. 
~ Henry Kissinger

Here we are  hunkered down in my front parlour while the rain siles down, the Southerly wind blows and the mercury falls to midwinter levels. The first days of Taurusish  May, and, for all the lush, rain-fed green out there, it feels more like the Bullabarra rain is not going to stop any time soon ...

For Tracy K Smith, poetry is hospitable: accommodating whatever she is moved to write. Her work witnesses, protests and raises its own roof. Her contemporary protests take newer risks. There is a long, excellent and bracingly scandalised poem, Watershed, about the pollution of a river in Ohio by the chemical giant DuPont. The poem moves fast – another collage, folding in documentary and reportage and cutting into it with visionary, italicised moments where she almost levitates above her material: “I began rising through the ceiling of each floor in the hospital as though I were being pulled by some force outside my own volition. I continued rising until I passed through the roof itself and found myself in the sky…” Smith is a poet of many voices, from exalted to conversational: “They knew this stuff was harmful and they put it in the water anyway.”

In the summer of 1978, eight NY Times staff photographers, who had some time on their hands because of a newspaper strike, set out to document people using NYC’s parks. They took almost 3000 photos, which were recently rediscovered in a pair of cardboard boxes, forgotten and unseen for decades.
The infamous wretched New York of the 1970s and 1980s can be glimpsed here, true to the pages of outlaw history.
But that version has never been truth enough.
The photos speak a commanding, unwritten narrative of escape and discovery.
“You see that people were not going to the parks just to get away from it all, but also to find other people,” said Jonathan Kuhn, the director of art and antiquities for the department.
The NY Times has a selection of the photos and there’s an exhibition featuring the photos on view at The Arsenal Gallery in Central Park until June 14.

“Out of such chaos, of such contradiction / We learn that we are neither devils nor divines…”

A Brave and Startling Truth: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads Maya Angelou’s Stunning Humanist Poem That Flew to Space, Inspired by Carl Sagan 

Washington Post: One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong.: “A paper published in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics aims to settle the hotly debated typographical question citing new research that made use of eye-tracking equipment.” Please read this article directly as it is written using fonts and spaces than span typewriters to early computers up to the present use of fonts, and spaces. If nothing else, it will take make you concentrate on an interesting matter that has nothing whatsoever to do with current events – this alone is worth the time. And, then you may decide whether you will continue to use one or two spaces at the end of each sentence, but be sure to read through to the end of the article, for the surprise!

He wasn’t sure where he was going, but he was sure anywhere would be better than here.

Review of Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education Shtetl-Optimized


The Quilt

A life’s trials, tribulations, lovers and lessons are stitched together in this  poem

The quilt’s a ragtag syzygy
of everything I’ve been or done,
a knotted spell in every seam,
the stuff that pricks and pulls. The quilt

began in ’96. I scrapped
the blotch batiks and brocatelles,
each backward-bending paisley hook
that tied me to my town. The quilt

came with me when I packed and left
– a bad patch, that – you’ll see I’ve sewn
a worried blot of grey and black
to mark a bruisy year. The quilt

advances, in a shock campaign
through block-fluorescent souvenirs
of seedy clubs and bad psytrance
and peters out in blue. The quilt

came with me when I ditched the scene
and dressed myself as someone new
– or someone else, at any rate,
a charlatan in borrowed suits,
and someone better, too – I felt

and flower prints, and pastel hues,
but things had turned respectable,
and so I stitched that in. The quilt

has tessellated all of it.
Arranged like faithful paladins,
are half a dozen bits and scraps
from those who took a turn, then split –

the dapper one, the rugby fan,
the one who liked his gabardine,
the one who didn’t want to be
another patch in your fucking quilt
but got there all the same. The quilt

is lined with all the bitter stuff
I couldn’t swallow at the time –
the lemon-yellow calico
I never wore again. The guilt

snuck into every thread of it
and chafed all through the honeymoon.
I scissored out the heart of it
and stitched it, fixed it, final, here –

with every other bright mistake
I wear, like anyone.

Joyce, who grew up in Dublin but whose family came from Cork, was mostly pre-occupied by his family’s ancestral city…