i think i just slept for around eleven hours! i can’t remember the last occurance of such sleep for my little brain. i have recently returned from a nice little excursion into canada to ski and recreate. we went up around roger’s pass and found the nice snowy medium in the backcountry. i towed my old airstream up there and got it rigged with propane heat (catalytic) for the evenings and it was like high living in there at night. prociutto and brie cracker hors d’oeuvres, tea, music, reading…
i finished my long started project of a book called, “where the sea used to be.” i ended up starting it over again in the airstream and reading it in totality.
it is the story of the latest leviathan of the planet. well, actually the leviathan as it occurrs here is around 500 million years old… but has only recently surfaced: OIL.
a character of ahab dimension, dudley, is like an alchemical, bacchic, egotistical pursuant of the greatest element on earth for exploitation, for the service of man and confirmation that man is greatest. he lives in the book mostly by heresay as well as his journals, which a young geologist reads in a snow encrusted cabin as he tries to map new oil prospects for the old man, even in the middle of a winter more severe than any i have known… and probably many have known. this is where the book takes place: in a small snow-bound community (i think mirrored from a deep north western community the author, Rick Bass, lives(ed) in), where transport in is limited to one crazed group of sledders who come in stinking like gas, selling crap near the end of the season, and snow travel out of the valley is very close to impossible. the extremes of this climate are so thoroughly thought out and evinced and beautifully written in this book, that, well, winter becomes a beautiful character as well. it seems to me a story that silently contends with one of the deepest seated issues of modern civilization, the horror and complete vile nature of what we do to this planet… yet seats it very quietly–without the klaxon clamor of an author declaiming his issue–and in the midst of a deep human beauty, posing CHOICE as one of the great possible ancestors of our coming generations.
since i’m not that into book reports, i’ll just say that i highly recommend this book. i believe actually, that it holds an important place in the history of american literature.


baked lime

i may have spoken before about the totally miraculous quality of concrete.  i am currently writing sort of an epic poem about it as i find it probably the best invention of the last millenium (the second one after christ)… mostly because if it was not for it (concrete) this modern world would not exist, nor could it support the population at present.  there are many factors that go into this statement; and i don’t have the luxury to begin to explore any of these really right now.  i was, though, just now walking around and enjoying the afternoon and noticed a large excavation underway.  there were construction people all over the exterior of this beautiful craftsman apartment building and some of them laying out the formwork for new concrete slabs, stairs, etc.  i reflected on these gentlemen for a while.  in the modern system of building, these guys would be called “masons.”  concrete masons.  i contrasted them with the masons of old.  of old, it was hewing stone itself.  harvesting stone from the earth, hewing it and keying it into place in such a way that it could bear tremendous load, the elements, and subsist through great expanses of time.  now, stone is not used in its raw form, but is crushed and baked at great temperature.  baked lime is the main ingredient of portland cement and creates the grounds of the miraculous chemical reaction.  and modern masonry as such, is not heaving around these massive entities and conceptualizing their placement: no, it is rather the opposite: making voids where this new liquid might flow.  concrete masonry is like the ghost or shadow of stone masonry.  now it is a question of visualizing where this rocky chemical liquid (soon to be solid) will flow.  and i would wager that the secrets in it are great, perhaps as great as those that went into the founding of the brotherhood of free masons.  the knights templar and so on.  after all, what is a better example of UTTER FAITH than an elderly woman walking under a stone arch (weighing 50 tons of lime above her) on her way to her apartment, mounting the steps and climbing the path to her little domocile, without any preponderance of what goes into making that building stand erect.  that seems like a secret worth protecting.


i think it was around the year 1997, Yehuda Hanani, the world famous and very celebrated cellist, came to St. John’s College (my alma mader: www.sjcsf.edu) and played Bach’s six cello suites. this is a rote performance for all great cellists… and an extreme pleasure for the listeners of such genius.

during this concert, i think everyone was a little in shock that it was actually happening. i was sitting in the front row, watching this man bow his instrument, listening to those glorious notes flow from his pregnant pear shaped cello; i could hear his breathing syncopated with the music and i left time in that music and moreover in the moment of this man’s performance. he played the first three suites and sort of brusquely stood up, setting the bow and cello aside. everyone in the audience (in the great hall at my college: it holds 300 people at most) shifted around and seemed surprised that he stopped. he just suddenly did this, unplanned, and then started talking.

he began by saying that everyone has to do something. he said that for a long time he had the intimation that his thing was music, and above that, that it was the cello… and, like jonah, he ran from his calling, afraid of its power and portent. he described slowly coming around to the realization that no one can do all things, no mortal anyhow, and then one must choose. he told the audience that one must choose a thing as an object of dedication. “you have to choose your shackles,” he said. picking up the cello again and holding it, looking down at it, he said, “this is my shackles.” and then sat down as abruptly as he had stopped and played the last three cello suites of bach.

age quod agis. this is a latin expression which means, “do what you are doing.” when i first heard it i thought, “how could a person NOT do what he is doing?” but i think, upon meditation, that it means, do what you are doing to the fullest. DO IT. if you’re in war, fucking do it. if you’re going to take the roof off your house, take it off in the best way, as best as you possibly can, with virtue, grace and find solace in that. if you’re picking up dog shit in your yard, DO IT. this man, yehuda hanani, does what he does. that is worthy of commendation as much as anything else in this theater of human activities.

so it turns out that nike’s catch phrase has even more depth than we originally thought.


i always heard in that doors’ song, “riders on the storm” a lyric: “hector out alone.”  maybe he was being intentionally ambiguous… because that’s really what it sounded like to me; but checking into it, it looks like what he wrote is, “an actor out on loan.”

the reason i thought it was a good line is that he says, “a killer’s on the road/ his brain is squirmin’ like a toad,” etc.  and then this thing about hector.  that does inspire fear and the storm… because achilles is the killer and hector must go out alone to meet him, for honor, because fate will have achilles exact revenge for the loss of patroklos.  and hector knows to step up and meet this juggernaut… because that’s what warriors do.  but achilles is a force, more than a human being… a literary force, a tendency, part of greece’s spirit thundering down the war plane in a charriot.  but he knows, from the beginning, that he is one breath, one hair, a simple small seed of a thought, away from stepping out of the cycle of history and seeing this fault: that he has nothing of forgiveness in his blood and that that is what his blood most covets: to forgive… that it would be better to forgive than lose life in massive volume because of a woman.  it is, however, his woman in question and the interminable path of history will not wander far from this tenent: vengeance is mine.  i think that’s a fair way of capturing vengeance: as “mine.”  that is the entirety of the problem basically.  if it were not MY woman agamemnon took, i would feel much less excited about bowling into a war.  vengeance is mine: i get to exact it, keep it, relish it… but also, abstractly, “mine” signifies that it is not the will of a community or populace, necessarily.  but here, in this storm, achilles is beyond the woman: he is out to kill for revenge upon his cousin’s death.  there is no word anyone could utter to waylay his hand against hector.  that is true cause for fear: out alone on the road, about to face achilles… not only because you will die, but because he will then drag you across the planes, trying to desecrate your body before all, giving you no respect.  hector out alone.

and the cycle of vengeance continues to this day.  one could imagine any host of scenarios that it continues: hector’s infant son grows up and learns of achilles and the greeks, for instance.  it might be said that this fear (of the abstract achilles) keeps one on one’s toes.  but ending the cycle holds even more power: forgiving one’s enemy holds its own kind of incendiary quality.  “i hate you, but i can hold my hand back.”  now the contest is one of peace.  but that’s just what i say.  what if i were achilles and hector killed my cousin?  i’m sure i could do nothing but beat down the trojan gate and slay this foreign rampart, make the whole kingdom of troy drop a knee.  and thus men continue to be born into a cycle of creation and destruction, without ever really having the peace of mind that one can have one’s woman, one’s garden, one’s peace until time separates this costume of flesh once again from our souls… because even if i or you achieve this peace, achilles is still there, and he might come knocking… perhaps for the sole reason that you are good.