Posts Tagged With: Dylan Thomas

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Joe 0008. (July 24, 2019)

“Stop, these are my people too.”
Statement by a white male directed to a group of other white males tormenting some Americans of South Asian descent with shouts of “Go back the country you came from.”
UBUNTU

 

 

Happy Birthday to my beloved sister Maryann and to her son Brendan.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

On Wednesday morning, I helped Naida take her books to the booth at the State Fair. Many other authors were there also checking in. I got to meet several of them. They were a friendly lot. They all asked me whether I had written a book. When I told them I had not, they insisted I get on with it and write one — then they tried to sell me their books. One woman had been an opera singer who had lived in Florence for a while. She writes books about tales she picked up while living there. We discussed, in Italian, things Italian.

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I left the fair and drove off to Peter and Barrie’s home in the City by the Bay.

 

 

B. A BRIEF SOJOURN IN THE CITY BY THE BAY:

 

 

Soon after my arrival at Peter and Barrie’s house and following a brief discussion with them on the state of the world and of our health, I took a nap. That evening, we went out to dinner at Bacco’s, a local upscale Italian restaurant, and enjoyed a delightful meal. I had gnocchi as I usually do when I go there. I think they prepare the best gnocchi of any restaurant I have tried in Northern California. After the meal, we spoke a while with the hostess an Asian-American woman who is co-owner of the place along with her husband, a native Italian immigrant. We shared memories of Italy and discussed good food and the high prices of everything in the Big Endive. I began eating at that restaurant when I lived in that neighborhood over forty-years-ago before the current owners bought it from the original proprietor. The quality of the food remained high over all those years, but the prices have climbed even higher.

The next morning, I said goodbye to Peter, Barrie, and Ramsey and set off to the UCSF complex on Divisadero. I had my immunotherapy infusion there. That was followed by a CT scan which, after it is analyzed, will tell me whether the immunotherapy is keeping cancer in check. If not, then it may become time to begin chanting Kaddish. I then returned to Sacramento. Usually, Naida drives most of the way, but since she was selling books at the fair, I drove myself. It was difficult to keep from nodding off and by the time I got back, I was so exhausted I went right to bed.

 

 
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The drive back and the side effects of the treatment wasted me for the next day also. After seeing Naida off to the Fair, I ate breakfast and then went back to sleep and slept dreamlessly until mid-afternoon. I then ate lunch, walked the dog, typed this, and returned to bed.

I do not recall how many days have passed since I last wrote here, one or two or maybe more. Today, Naida again is off to the State Fair and the authors’ booth selling her books. I spent most of the day in front of the television following the coverage of He Who Is Not My President’s racist attack on the “Squad,” the four first-term Congresspersons and women of color. One commentator on CNN had what to me was the most interesting observation when he pointed out the media must separate the President’s comments which were undeniably racist from the media’s tendency to concentrate on the political implications of the inevitable give and take in the responses to it.

“Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (p. 658). DAW.

More days pass. In this the time of my decrepitude, as my memory slowly shreds, I find the quiet contemplation of nothing enjoyable. In the past, I could never get into meditation or even the idea of quiet contemplation. It would irritate me. If I had nothing to do, I would prefer taking a nap, reading, throwing stones into the water, starting an argument or shouting at someone — things like that. I could not understand going so far into myself that the maelstrom of my senses, the screaming of my id or the constant preaching by that little voice within that is always with us would go silent and somehow that would make me better, happier. If there were not something out there in the world around me upsetting me or demanding my attention, I don’t think I could feel completely alive — Now, however, not so much. Now, when I sit on a bench along some path in the Enchanted Forest, the dog laying and panting at my feet, I smile, confident that whatever harangue or flight of fancy the voice within me obsess on, it soon will be forgotten. That thought cheers me up now. Perhaps your inner voice enjoys happy talk. Good for you. Mine, alas, is a complainer. Always telling me how I screwed up or how I would fail at what I planned on doing. I guess for me, I should consider it one of the few upsides to my decrepitude.

Today I felt quite chipper so Naida and I set off for the State Fair. It was not her day to man (woman) the Authors’ booth so I felt a bit bad asking her to join me. I had never been to the fairgrounds when it was open, so I was eager to see what it was like. We parked in the employee-exhibitor parking lot, crossed over the levee that separated the parking lot from the fair and entered the fairgrounds.

During the past decade the State Fair, like most of the county fairs in California, has suffered a long decline in attendance, revenue, and public interest caused in part by the decline in family farms over the past forty years, and the more recent changes in the public’s entertainment preferences.

The size of the fairgrounds surprised me — it is huge. There is a number of very large two and three-story buildings scattered helter-skelter around the site. Some are barns where the animals are kept and judged, others contain stores, various booths like the authors’ booth and indoor exhibits such as the school children’s art and the handicraft competitions. There are two separate carnival sites with rides and the like. There are several large entertainment venues, a race track, a raging waters swimming complex and much more. All of it cannot be visited in one day — seen perhaps but not enjoyed. We had a good time visiting the cattle shed, viewing the pygmy goats, browsing through the stores, spending some time at the authors’ booth, eating a lot of odd food, examining some of the arts and crafts exhibitions and watching a juggling show at one of the other outdoor theaters. Alas, our age caught up with us and by the late afternoon, exhausted, we stumbled back to the parking lot, drove home and collapsed onto our reclining chairs.

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I am becoming used to old age. And by old age, I do not mean that time when you first realize you are getting old and tired, and feeling creepy and irritable. Rather, I think of old age as when you can no longer see your use-by date in your rearview mirror; your diminished memory ceases to be an amusing irritant and you find hours and whole days lost from recall; and you become acutely aware that you suffer from some dread disease that may or may not soon kill you. Although most of the experience is not something you would tell to your grandchildren as bed-time stories, old-age has a surprising upside. No, the upside is not that it all may soon be over. Nor is it that strangers sometimes go out of their way to be helpful to you in your decrepitude. (I used to hate that. When some younger person would, for example, hold the door for me, I used to want to brain him with my cane. Now, I smile. Not because I admire the gallantry, but because I feel I am getting away with something.) No, I find something else pleasing about getting very old.

When we were younger the good is usually good while it lasts while the bad only too often piles up on our backs growing heavier and heavier until we either die or experience some form of psychological surgery. Youthful love is thrilling, but when it is over it often becomes merely a gossamer of a memory. A broken heart, on the other hand, often lasts forever. The tattered memories of old age, at least in my case, allow me to forget the bad, the good too, but I always have. So, I find myself, as a whole, happier.

Old Age also allows me to be garrulous. I should be embarrassed but I am not. I amuse myself knowing the person reading or listening to my endless patter does so for the same reason as the younger person who holds the door for me. On the other hand, if they don’t, I am miffed — another benefit of old age — the ability to get away with childish behavior while knowing we are no longer children.

Having read the above three paragraphs, I realize I have too much time on my hands. Rather than erasing it and saving myself from embarrassment, I think I will walk the dog and sit on the bench for a while.

I did and I feel better now, so I turned on the Rachel Maddow Show.

A few days later, Naida and I set off for the Fair to deliver some copies of her books. It was a hot day. We parked in the exhibitor parking lot, loaded a box of books on a hand-truck and set off for the Authors’ Booth about a mile away. We passed the animal barns and judging pens. I could not see which animal species were being judged that day, but I certainly could smell them and see their droppings everywhere we walked. After we dropped off the books and headed back to the car I felt faint. I had not eaten lunch. It was now four in the afternoon. Happily others appeared from somewhere to assist me whenever I seemed to stagger a bit and Naida demonstrated, once again, that women are more capable and robust than men by guiding me back to the car, providing liquid refreshment, and after we got home serving me a nice dinner while I sat like an ancient salami in my favorite chair.

I watched Fritz Lang’s “How The City Sleeps” with Dana Andrews, George Sanders, Thomas Mitchell and Howard Duff pirouetting drunkenly through the noir movie. (yes they all were, much to Lang’s distress, often dead drunk when they arrived on the set.) It was set in NY or Chicago I couldn’t tell which.

Then we went to bed. While lying there, I described to Naida an article I had read recently about Vikings.

Apparently, sometime between the ninth and eleventh centuries, an Arab traveler had, during his journey, visited a Viking tribe living in what is now northwest Russia. He wrote about his voyages especially the time he spent with the Vikings. He considered them savages. He observed that the Viking warriors were generally drunk from morning to night. He described seeing a drunken warrior die in front of him while drinking a cup of dark ale or whatever. He wrote at length about the horrid funeral rituals performed at the death of their chieftains. It was no Hollywood production featuring a craggy-faced Kirk Douglas lying on his boat with his sword clutched to his chest and fire tipped arrows arching gracefully through the blue-black evening sky while loud brassy classical music blares in the background. No, not at all. It was ten days of slaughter, rape, drunkenness, and savagery. The chieftain was buried temporarily for ten days while his burial clothing was made. The tribe divided his property — one-third to his family, one-third to the other chieftains to pay for his funeral and one-third to be cremated with him. One or more of female slaves were chosen to be raped multiple times every day by the surviving chieftains. On the tenth day, his body was exhumed, dressed and laid on his boat along with his wealth and his weapons. Dogs and horses were slaughtered, carved up and thrown onto the boat containing the chieftains cadaver. Then the slave girl was raped again multiple times by the chieftains, dragged by her hair to the boat, her throat cut, and her body thrown onto the vessel to lie there with the bodies of the chieftain, the dogs, horses, other slaughtered slaves and the chieftains wealth while it is all set ablaze. True or not, quite an image.

After I finished, Naida recited a portion of a poem by Longfellow:

“While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft
The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn
Blew the foam lightly.

“There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”
Thus the tale ended.”

A little later, she reminded me that we had not taken our evenings dose of pills. We then each took the multitude of pills and medicines that are the sad lot of the aged and downed them with water. After I finished drinking my glass of water, for no apparent reason but terminal silliness, I decided to sing:

Keep a-movin’ Dan, don’t you listen to him Dan, he’s a devil, not a man
and he spreads the burnin’ sand with water.
Dan can’t you see that big green tree where the waters runnin’ free
and it’s waiting there for me and you.
Water, cool clear water.

We sang the rest of the song together — at least those lyrics we could remember. Then we went back to bed and slept well until morning.

The following morning, Naida returned to the Fair and I spent the day wondering what I was going to do with myself. I did receive good news. The results of my most recent CT scan arrived showing no growth so far in the cancerous tumor.

Last Friday HRM messaged me that he had hurt his foot while performing some tricks on his scooter. I was not concerned, considering whatever injuries he suffered were those simple bruises that life gifts you with to warn you that you are becoming too old for some activity. Two days later upon hearing that he was still in pain, I set off to the Golden Hills to visit him and see what’s up. I found him sitting in his new bedroom fashioned out of the old family room in the basement of Dick’s house. Jake was there also and no one else. They were playing video games. He said he felt much better and could walk around now without pain.

His new room had begun to take on the aura of a teenage boy-cave. A large Bob Marley banner covered one wall. The desk against another wall by the sliding glass doors had the names of the members of what I call the Scooter Gang carved helter-skelter in the top. There were Haden and Jake of course and Kaleb, Hamza, Tyson, Ethen and a few others. Inscribed among all the other names, I was surprised to see mine there or rather my nickname, Pookie, that they all know me by. I am pleased that at 80 after a hiatus of more than 60 years, I have once again become a member of a teenage gang — well, I doubt they consider me a member, more like a mascot, I suppose.

H’s mom arrived and immediately ordered them out to get some exercise. As we left they asked me to drive them to Jake’s house where they could resume their video games and whatever else teenagers these days use to spend their time.

As with any sunset, the sunset of our lives needs a good place to sit in order to enjoy the view.

Remember to always take care of yourselves and keep on truckin.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
We should never forget, some of the guiding principles underlying fascism, Trumpism, and the religious and conservative right are:

1. “There are no facts, only ideology.”
(And, when one scrapes away the pseudo-intellectual veneer, what that ideology comes down to is “power,” how to get it, wield it, and keep it.)

2. “There is no morality only religion.”

3. “There is no compassion only transaction.”

4. “There is no love only desire.”

5. “There is no peace only order.”

6. “There is no mercy only philanthropy

7 “There is no freedom only obedience.”

8. “There is no humanity only data, assets, consumers, and laborers.”

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

This is the fourth and I hope the last post describing a critical event in the passage of the California Coastal Act over 40 years ago. The previous post ended with the Governor saying, “Well Senator what’s your problem now?”

The Senator did not answer immediately. Instead, he sat there for a moment and looked around the room as though he was searching for help. Then in response, I assume, to a signal from the undertakers, he turned back to the Governor and said, “Governor, I need some time to discuss this.”

“Take your time Senator. We’ll be right here waiting for your answer,” the Governor replied.

With that, the Senator got up out of his chair and along with the undertakers left the room. The rest of us remaining in the room broke up into small groups and the buzzing of our conversations replaced the quiet. The Governor whispered something to the Chief of staff then remained silently sitting at the table, unmoving. This struck me as a little unusual since I have always known him to be a bit of a fidgeter. I resumed conversing with our little group. We avoided talking about what had just happened neither did we speculate on what may be being discussed by the Senator and his cronies a few feet away. Instead, we passed the time in nervous small talk, about families, the weather and the like — every now and then glancing at the doors by which the conferees had left.

I no longer recall how long we stood there waiting. It could have been as much as twenty minutes to a half-hour or perhaps even more. The doors finally opened, the conferees piled back into the room, the whispering ceased and the Senator announced, “Governor, we can support the bill only with the following five non-negotiable amendments.” The Senator handed a piece of paper to the Governor.

The Governor took the paper handed to him, glanced at it briefly, turned, gave it to me, and said, “Here, can you guys live with this.”

Along with the Executive Director and the Lobbyist for the supporters of the legislation, I examined the handwritten note. As far as I could see, it appeared as though neither the Senator nor the undertakers had read the legislation through because four of the five non-negotiable demands seemed either irrelevant or covered in other parts of the bill. The fifth, however, appeared more significant. While it did not call for any material changes in regulation policies, jurisdiction or authority, it did require a significant alteration in administration, one that would need logistical changes in the operations of the agency, and, of course, more staff. Nevertheless, it was livable and in my opinion, far more detrimental to the interest groups proposing it, then to the agency forced to administer it. After reading it through at least twice, the Executive Director and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, turned back to the Governor and said more or less in unison, “We can live with this.”

At this date, I do not recall if there was a muted cheer or just a collective exhale of breath. The Governor, however, was not finished. He turned to the chief spokesman of the undertakers and said, “You heard it. Now that we have reached agreement release the rest of your votes,” and handed him the telephone.

The chief spokesman dialed the floor of the Senate which was still in session and asked to speak to a specific Senator. The Senator eventually came online. The Chief Spokesman said, “We have an agreement here. You are free to vote for the bill. You can tell the others.” The Senator responded, “Thank God” and hung up the phone. At that point, there seemed to be a release of the collective breath in the room. Handshakes and smiles broke out among almost everyone except the undertakers. The Governor did not partake in the spontaneous celebration, but following a brief word or two with the Senator and the Spokesman turned and, with the Chief of Staff in tow, strolled up the ramp and out of the room.

The Non-negotiable amendments were placed into what was referred to as a “trailer bill” and it also passed.

There you have it. After more than a decade, the efforts of thousands of people and the expenditure of millions of dollars, it all came down to a few people in a room, some lies, a bit of theater, lots of exaggeration, and a bagful of coincidence and luck. That’s often how laws are made — — like sausages, but not as sanitary.

 

 

 

TODAY’S FACTOID:

 

 
“UBUNTU” in the XHOSA culture means: “I am because we are.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 

“Usually, conspiracy theories are for losers,”
University of Miami professor Joseph Uscinski.

 

During my periodic searches through the internet for arcane and interesting (to me at least) blogs, I came across one by someone named Jason Colavito entitled interestingly ‘Jason Colavito.’ (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/). Colavito is an author and editor based in Albany NY. He specializes in the critique of authors and commentators who are crazy. At least to me, they are either crazy or dishonest. They are those people who write books or articles claiming things like, alien visitors created early human civilization, chemtrails are a deep state assault on us all, or the Illuminati conspiracy folderol is real. They use half-truths and at times outright lies in order to persuade the gullible to buy their books, alternative medicines, gold coins, computer currency, and other claptrap they may be selling.

They spring from the same fetid swamp as conspiracy theorists, patent medicine salesmen, far-right politicians, and Fox News commentators.

In a recent post entitled, “David Wilcock Claims YouTube Is Part of an Anti-Trump, Population-Reduction Plot,” he smashes into Wilcock, someone I have never heard of, like The Hulk into a building. Here is the opening paragraph of the post:

“David Wilcock hasn’t been having a very good couple of years. Only a few years ago, he was the third most prominent ancient astronaut theorist* on Ancient Aliens, behind Giorgio Tsoukalos and David Childress, and he was one of the biggest stars of the Gaia TV streaming service, which featured hundreds of hours of programming from him. He also had a lucrative line of books and DVDs and a speaking tour. But then Wilcock made the critical error of turning subtext into text. With the exception of Tsoukalos, nearly all of the Ancient Aliens crew and their colleagues are right-wingers, but they manage to keep their conservative ranting mostly confined to short asides in YouTube videos and tweets. Wilcock, on the other hand, has been outspoken in his embrace of the most extreme pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including both Pizzagate and Q-Anon, and he has proudly declared himself a recipient of Russian propaganda, which he repeats uncritically. Between this and his contentious departure from Gaia, even the brain trust behind Ancient Aliens finally cut ties with Wilcock, who has not appeared on the show since Wilcock refused to participate in their episode interviewing John Podesta, whom Wilcock considers part of an anti-Trump, child-raping alien death cult.”

 

One of the things I like about Colavito is his writing style. It is almost as bad as mine. I notice his last name, like mine, indicates an Italian heritage. As a result, like Italian prose is often written, he strings his sentences together into paragraphs of operatic magniloquence (I apologize, I could not resist). Most English speakers prefer a more leisurely and sparer style. One stretching out the story over several paragraphs — perhaps even over whole books. But I digress. Colavito continues:

As Wilcock’s platforms have collapsed around him, his claims have become more extreme as he “programs to the base” and attempts to develop a smaller but more intensely loyal audience for his self-produced products. In his latest blog post, whose six parts form a 51,000-word eBook, Wilcock has fully embraced the Q-Anon conspiracy theory, and he has extended it to the recent efforts by YouTube to clean up the video-sharing service by altering its algorithm to display fewer conspiracy theory videos. Wilcock has declared this action to be the work of the “Deep State.” “And, as we so often like and need to do,” he wrote, “this initial phase of the story will expand into a vastly more interesting mega-conspiracy as you read on.” Oh, don’t they all.

 

I like Colavito. He goes after those that hide in darkness — those conspiracy theorists, who prey on the gullible and whose success encouraged the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other purveyors of malice and hate.

More:

Over the past year or so, YouTube has come under fire from a wide range of advocacy groups and law enforcement agencies for its algorithms, which by design direct viewers to progressively more extreme content in the hope of keeping viewers watching for as long as possible. This resulted in many viewers being directed to white nationalist content, extreme conspiracy theories, and content that sexualized young children. YouTube officials took steps to reduce the prominence of this content earlier this year after a wave of negative stories in the media. They did not eliminate the content, but they made it harder to stumble across unknowingly, and they also removed advertising revenue from some videos that did not meet their decency standards.

In his massive blog post last week, Wilcock likens this action to the music industry, which he accuses of deliberately killing off rock-n-roll for nefarious reasons, leaving only … Papa Roach? “Since the 1990s, there has been little to no financing, development, promotion or exposure of new rock bands of any real prominence, other than a handful of examples like Papa Roach,” he wrote, nonsensically. I hesitate even to begin to think about what is going on inside Wilcock’s head, particularly since we know that he remains fixated on what he called his traumas and mental illness during his adolescence in the 1990s, as he chronicled in The Ascension Mysteries. This might seem like a laughably silly digression on Wilcock’s part, but one of his overarching if wrongheaded themes is that pro- and anti-alien conspiracy theorists use popular culture products to deliver secret messages to the public. He typically associates this with science fiction movies and TV shows (he believes the series finale of Game of Thrones was a psy-op conspiracy, for example), but here he extends the idea to music acts beloved by himself and his father, a onetime music critic. Music he doesn’t like becomes part of an evil conspiracy. In this case, he follows some conspiracy theories suggesting that elites purposely designed hip-hop to promote criminal behavior in order to oppress African Americans.

 

Colavito ends his post with:

 

The last third of his blog post / eBook endorses every bizarre aspect of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory and then attempts to link it to Tom DeLonge and To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which he sees as fighting a battle against the Deep State to reveal the truth about … well, not quite UFOs. Wilcock picks up on DeLonge’s embrace of the ancient astronaut theory to argue that the real truth is that space aliens are also fallen angels and that they had an outpost in Atlantis from which they meddled in human affairs, sort of like super-Russians plotting a thousand Trumps.

It’s all too much, really. The volume of his conspiracy theories is mind-numbing, but the ease with which he abandons his supposed beliefs as soon as they become inconvenient is all too typical. He believes that he has a right to have major corporations promote his belief that they are all run by child-raping demon aliens, and he is mad that the corporations have decided not to put up with him anymore.

On a sadder note, Wilcock said that he has “very few acquaintances” apart from his family, his manager, and his “creative team.” That he describes none of them as friends is perhaps sadder than realizing that there is a “creative team” behind his seemingly dada verbal diarrhea.

 

I bet you never knew something like this existed in the dark underbelly of our nation. An entire industry of deranged lunatics crawling through the sewers of America desperately hoping to infect the rest of us with their peculiar derangement.

I regret that only a few lonely difficult to read and understand commentators like Colavito confront these people in their dank dens. Respectable pundits seem to shy away from challenging them. Perhaps they dismiss them as irrelevant. Perhaps they are embarrassed to engage with those they consider absurd and dishonest. Nevertheless, we should never overlook the fact that almost every pernicious, fascist and violence provoking political movement begins with those in the shadows whispering make-believe conspiracies and specious histories to the gullible and poorly informed.

* Is third most prominent ancient astronaut theorist something one would, or should, aspire to? For that matter, is first?

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Conspiracy theories are the improper application of correlation to causation developed usually by those with pecuniary or malicious intent and designed for consumption by the ignorant, naive, and foolish.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 
This poem is very close to my heart. It is written in a poetic form called Villanelle, a rather complex rarely used poetic format. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

A villanelle, also known as villanesque, is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately at the end of each subsequent stanza until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form. The word derives from Latin, then Italian, and is related to the initial subject of the form being the pastoral.

Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” also is written in that form.

My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night
BY ANTHONY LAWRENCE

My darling turns to poetry at night.
What began as flirtation, an aside
Between abstract expression and first light

Now finds form as a silent, startled flight
Of commas on her face — a breath, a word …
My darling turns to poetry at night.

When rain inspires the night birds to create
Rhyme and formal verse, stanzas can be made
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.
My darling turns to poetry at night.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her dreams have night vision, and in her sight
Our bodies leave ghostprints on the bed.
My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

 

 

D. Mopey’s Musings:

 
Terry suggested I read an article that examined storytelling and death. I post portions of it here in order to include it in my morning contemplations about what it is I should be doing now.

“I began to wonder whether the secret to a good death wasn’t looking forward, but peering backward — whether retrospective examination might be more therapeutic than prospective preparation. I thought of how often I’d focused solely on helping patients navigate the future: how many weeks or months of life they might expect, which procedures they should or shouldn’t consider. These discussions, while important, fail to address what research has revealed about the deeper wants and needs of seriously ill patients.”

“Nearly 20 years ago, a seminal study in the Journal of the American Medical Association explored what patients and doctors feel is most important at the end of life. Many responses were predictable and consistent across groups. Both doctors and patients, for example, thought it was important to maintain dignity, control pain and other symptoms, and have one’s financial affairs in order.”

“But where physicians and patients diverged is telling — and suggests both a missed opportunity and a path to progress.”

“Patients were far more likely to express that it was important to feel that their life was complete, to be at peace with God and to help others in some way.”

“In other words, to feel that their lives mattered.”

“A growing body of work suggests that a powerful but underused method of creating this sense of mattering is storytelling — reflecting on the past and creating a narrative of one’s life, what it has meant, who you’ve become and why…”

“In a 2018 study, researchers assigned veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to engage in either five 30-minute writing sessions in which they reflected on traumatic experiences, or a rigorous 12-week program of cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a first-line treatment for PTSD. The study found that the short writing sessions were just as effective at reducing PTSD symptoms as the resource-intensive CPT program.”

“Other work suggests that the particulars of storytelling matter. Simply looking back and listing life events doesn’t seem to help. It is the constructing of a narrative — exploring linkages, formulating a plotline — that’s critical for arriving at a coherent sense of self…”

So that has been what I have been up to for the past 10 years — writing T&T and preparing to die. I guess that beats obsessing about it — although I do that too.

 
E. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:

 

I have two apologies, regrets and humiliations from my previous post:

1. In that post, I wrote that Naida’s book was titled “Girl of the West.” I was totally embarrassed when she pointed out to me that the name of the book that I had been working on with her these past few months is actually called, “Daughter of the West.” I regret the error and apologize to her and to everyone else I may have misled.

2. Also, Madelyn Glickfeld pointed out that in the story about the passage of the Coastal Act, I wrote that Mr. West’s request that “In the future, you don’t have to call, a letter or email will do,” could not be correct because email was not in use back then. She is correct. I recall West mentioning a letter and something else. Email was obviously not it. I will correct it in the final version. I apologize, regret the mistake and am, once again, humiliated.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Next time he asks, have Lisa tell him that I’m no longer human. And that is why I cannot sleep with anyone any longer. Have you ever seen statistical theory making out with Newton’s first law of motion?”
Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. Vita Nostra. Harper Voyager.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

united-states-gdp-per-capita-ppp-1

 

GDP PER CAPITA IN US SINCE 1990.

This chart demonstrates that at least from the 1980s, and probably all the way back to the 1940s or 50s, Democratic presidents replacing a Republican administration have received declining economies upon their taking office. As a result, they spend the first years or so of their presidency turning the economy around. Having successfully revived the economy, the Democratic administration then passes the now healthy economy on to their Republican successors, who promptly cut taxes for the rich, take credit for the health of the economy and then when the economy collapses again pass it on to their Democratic successors who then must concentrate on rehabilitating the economy rather than on the social programs on which they ran for election. This is no way to run a country.

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Categories: July through September 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Papa Joe 0007 (November 11, 2018)

 

“Man is fed with fables through life, and leaves it in the belief he knows something of what has been passing when in truth he has known nothing but what has passed under his own eye. “
—Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Thomas Cooper.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
It is autumn in the Enchanted Forest — Time to change from Hawaiian shirts to flannel; for hearing the fallen leaves crackle beneath my feet as we walk by; for golden sunlight in the afternoons and early sunsets; for the yellow pollen from the Deodar Cypress trees coating the cars and the sidewalks; and a time for sleeping late in the morning and for reflection.

On Tuesday, I went for my appointment at the office of the surgeon selected to operate on my neck. A very young doctor followed by a female medical student entered the examination room where I had been placed. He appeared to be of South Asian heritage. He examined me briefly and answered my questions. He was thin with limpid sympathetic eyes. He then left with the student trailing in his wake.

After a while, the surgeon himself entered with the young doctor and medical student in tow. He was a small man in a grey-brown suit and sporting a bright blue bow tie. For some reason, his appearance made me recall that I had read somewhere that surgeons have the highest percentage of psychopaths of any profession. He felt around my neck, had the young doctor stick a camera down my nose and into my neck and watched whatever it was he saw on the monitor. He then announced that the proposed operation was dangerous and I would probably die. He followed that good news up with the observation that there had been almost two months since the PET scan and his examination showed that during that time the tumor had grown substantially and now pressed too close to my cartroid artery to be safely removed by surgery. He then railed about the unwillingness of my health-care group to allow his health-care group to use their follow up organizations thereby limiting his activities only to the surgery. He ordered his assistant to schedule another CT scan. If it confirms his diagnosis, I may be in deep trouble.

My oncologist told me a few days before that if surgery is unavailable then we may try immunotherapy. At best, immunotherapy, he said, slows the growth and spread of cancer cells. If it does not work, then it is goodbye time for Joey.

I had woken up that morning in reasonably good spirits. By 3PM I may have become a dead man walking. Life is funny sometimes.

For the next day or two, I was very depressed. That little voice in my head, the one that talks all the time and tells you how good you are or how bad you are as though your goodness or badness is the most significant goodness or badness of anyone in the world, was worried.

“What does it mean to me for you to die?” it said in that same youthful voice it always had? “I mean, it’s not like sleep,” it added. “When you sleep you anticipate you will wake up in the morning. Isn’t that consciousness? You anticipate something is going to happen next even if you cannot know what.”

I was getting annoyed, even depressed with its musings. “That’s it,” it continued. “You close your eyes like you’re are going to sleep and you never wake .”

“That’s very profound, you idiot,” I said annoyed.

“No, you Don’t understand,” it went on. “Without anticipation, there is no life, no consciousness.”

“And this insight is supposed to help me how?” I enquired. It was silent. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I could not hear It. I was afraid, very afraid.

By Thursday I felt a little better — a good dose of valium and a nights sleep allowed me to begin to get things in order. First, I thought, “Write a will” — a wasted gesture. I always wanted to die with nothing. I am pretty close to that — both dying and money. I probably need someone to take my collection of Hawaiian shirts, however. I would rather not send them to Goodwill. Pookies last will and testament: “I leave to______ my Hawaiian shirts. End.”

So here I am typing at my computer, watching MSNBC and CNN and reading Tana French’s latest novel. It is a mystery novel, but so far I am not sure about the mystery. I have read about 1/3 of the book and all that’s happened so far is that the narrator gets beat up and spends a long long time in the hospital worrying about everything except who beat him up and why.

The weekend trundled by. I arranged for the CT scan on Monday that will indicate whether an operation is feasible. On Tuesday, I will watch the election returns. If the Democrats do not retake at least one house of Congress with a substantial majority, then — then what? I am too close to the end for it to make much of a difference to my welfare, but I may be sad for everyone else.

Perhaps, this is where it all may begin to end — in some ways, life has always been, little more than a scramble for scarce resources (money and sex — ok, not so scarce) ending in death.

A computer simulation by Jeremy England and colleagues at MIT showed that a system of particles confined inside a viscous fluid in which the particles are driven by an oscillating force, over time, triggers the formation of more bonds among the particles. In other words, shine enough light and apply enough heat long enough you eventually get life. In general, the function of life is to more efficiently convert matter (resources) to energy (movement). Humans have gotten very good at converting resources to energy and leaving waste and destruction behind — perhaps too good. Maybe the answer to Marconi’s query, “Where are they?” regarding alien civilizations of 40 billion planets in the Milky Way capable of sustaining life, is simply that advanced life-forms a become so efficient in converting resources to waste they destroy the planet before ever making an effective foray into space searching for others.

On Saturday, we had a barbecue and fresh oysters at Naida’s daughter’s home nearby. Sarah’s husband is a nurse. One of his colleagues, another male nurse, was there also. I asked them why they became nurses. Besides liking to help people, they agreed that employment opportunities were a major draw. One said, “I could be fired at my current job and before arriving home I would have a new one.”

Between medical appointments and various episodes of depression, I have not seen HRM all week. That makes me sad. On the other hand, autumn is a pleasant time to walk the dog and stand on the levee watching the river flow by.

The second third of the Tana French book focused on Hugo, the narrator’s beloved uncle, who is dying from inoperable cancer. Hugo surprisingly confesses to the murder and promptly dies the next morning while in police custody. In fact, the murder had been committed by others.

On Sunday Terry, the Cannabis King of the Siskiyou’s dropped by. It was good to see him. He had been looking into some alternative therapies for me. It is good to have friends. I have had some very good friends along the way. When I was very young, in grammar school, I had no friends so I used to pretend that I was sick so I could stay home in bed and read the encyclopedia. That is where I get my fondness for melodrama —pretending I a sick almost to death. Once I recall, I successfully persuaded my parents I was as sick as I had ever been in my life, so they let me stay home. After they both left for work and I was alone, I began to persuade myself that I was, in fact, very sick. I was sure I was going to need help or I was a goner. I slipped out of bed and crawled because I was too weak walk through the apartment to the door where, if I were able to open it, I could call for help and one of my neighbors would undoubtedly save me. I reached for the doorknob but I was too weak to grasp it and I fell motionless to the floor.

After an appropriate amount of time. I got up off the floor and walked back to the bedroom, climbed back into bed and resumed my reading.
On Monday I had my CT scan. More needles stuck into my body and radioactive substances injected into my bloodstream. After that, I drove up to the Golden Hills, ate lunch and walked a bit around the CCD park.

I finished the Tana French book today. Despite everything I found out previously and the resolution, more or less, of the murder that occupied most of the book, it ends with a twist as surprising as any I have read in detective fiction.

Today I have my appointment with the surgeon to review the results of the CT scan and determine if I am dead or not.

Well, the surgeon informed me today that if they operate there is a 90% chance I would die on the operating table. I do not know if that was an evaluation of his abilities or the complexity of my tumor’s location. He followed up that news with the opinion that, absent successful alternative therapies, my remaining lifespan would be somewhere between three and six months. Unfortunately, the only alternative therapy available to me appears to be immunotherapy which the surgeon explained to me would have about a 20% chance of success.

If the situation is as dire as he indicates, I intend to fully indulge myself of whatever unorthodox alternative treatment approach that I may enjoy — mushrooms, cannabis, of course, acupuncture, mood-altering drugs and the like. One of the good things about knowing your days are limited but you are otherwise in good health is that you have few restrictions on pandering to yourself.

In the evening, my sister joined us for dinner. She is down from Mendocino to attend an economic development conference. After dinner we watched the returns come in. I had hoped for better.

That night, I was afraid I would not be able to sleep. I tried all of my little tricks to help me fall asleep including counting my breaths backward from 99 and contemplating the SF 49’s starting lineup but to no avail. So I turned to Naida and said, “I can’t sleep so I am going downstairs so that my twisting and turning will not keep you awake.” She responded, “What are you talking about? It is 5:30 in the morning. You’ve been sleeping peacefully all night.”

The next day, my radiology physician confirmed the surgeon’s diagnosis and opined that under these circumstances immunotherapy was the best alternative — “Sometimes it works,” he added. I said, “It is odd feeling as well as I do but knowing I’m as good as dead.” “Yes,” he responded. “It is like that for cancer patients.” That got me wondering how many people I pass each day with similar problems to mine, that go about their days without complaint. Almost every day I meet someone who asks me how I am doing. As is my want, I tell them. They often tell me that they had gone through similar treatments two or three times already. It always makes me feel worse when I am unable to wallow in the uniqueness of my imagined misery.

I left his office with him promising to think about the possibility of additional radiation therapy should the immunotherapy treatment falter and traveled into the Golden Hills to pick up the Scooter Gang. I dropped them off at Dick’s house. They promised not to get in trouble (follow my rules, don’t hurt yourselves, don’t spill anything on the floor and don’t break anything) while in the house but begged to be able to get into a little trouble when they traveled to Town Center later. While I was leaving, Hayden walked up to the window of the car and said, “Remember Pookie you have got to believe.”

I guess there are no more adventures for Pookie — unless dying itself is an adventure — Pookies last adventure. Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go quietly into that dark night.” Well, I am pretty sure I will not go quietly. But instead of “railing against the darkening of the light,” it will be more like bitching and complaining (see my screed on bitching: https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/petrillos-commentary-on-bitching/). My mother always said I screamed constantly from shortly after birth until I began to talk and then I complained of everything until I became a teenager and then thankfully I only sulked.

My sister came by again yesterday evening. We laughed a lot. Planned for Thanksgiving and reminisced.

The leaf-fall of autumn has increased since the air has cooled and the Fall breezes grown stronger. They are falling too fast for the ground-keepers with their leaf-blowers to keep up so the Enchanted Forest’s paths and lawns are covered with yellow and brown leaves that in the sunlight look like spilled paint. While walking the dog I like stomping through the leaves, kicking them into the air and watching them fall back again like a 79-year-old child.

Today, we visited my chemotherapist expecting to set the schedule for my immunotherapy. We were surprised. Apparently, he spoke last night with the various doctors involved in my case. He said the radiologist changed his mind and now thought radiation might be possible. Also, my regular oncologist told him he was setting up an appointment for a second opinion at UCSF. He then laid out my treatment schedule. First, I get the second opinion. If that supports the first surgeon’s judgment, then we will begin a new round of radiation therapy, followed by Chemo and if necessary immunotherapy. Although this might appear to be more positive than the other recent medical opinions I have received, it actually seems to me to be simply a change in a treatment plan and not in prognosis. I think they are just trying to make me feel better. Despite their attempts to humor me I intend to continue bitching and wailing, “The end is nigh. Woe is me.” I do so like melodrama.

Yesterday evening, I picked up HRM from his mountain bike team practice. On the way home, after asking me how I felt, he mentioned that at the church youth meeting he attends every Wednesday all the eighth-grade boys, many of whom I know, prayed for Pookie. I may not be someone particularly optimistic about the power of prayer, but I cried nevertheless at the thought of the Scooter Gang praying for me.

On Friday, before returning to Mendocino, my sister came by to take us to a Japanese grocery store to hunt for mushrooms for my new diet. Later we had lunch at the Freeport Inn in the Delta. Following my sister’s departure back to Mendocino, Naida sautéed some of the mushrooms for dinner. They were delicious.

Saturday, we attended the weekly coffee at the Nepenthe clubhouse. It is the season when everyone there was involved in the various charity drives and party planning undertaken by the community. On the way back home while I was busy kicking the leaves about, Naida noticed a sign for a meeting at the small clubhouse of something called “Conscious Community.” We decided to find out what it was all about. We discovered they considered themselves a consciousness-raising group like those of the late ’60s except without the dope.

During the walk, we noticed a mysterious cement ball had appeared in the street in front of our house. It remains there today. Nothing like it exists anywhere else in the neighborhood. What can it be? A portent of something? Alien scat? A hairball from a giant cat?

IMG_5852

Pookie with the mysterious orb.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

–$710,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives contracts generally fall within this range. At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives exposure to global GDP is about 21 to 1.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Adventures with Hayden on Top:

One day, I set off with Hayden to drive to Mendocino in order to spend a few days with my sister. During the drive from Sacramento to San Francisco to pick up my grand-daughter Amanda and her mom Hiromi, they were joining us for the weekend, I tuned into the local university classical music station to listen to a 1977 NY Metropolitan Opera performance of that old Verdi warhorse, La Forza del Destino, sung by the aging Leontyne Price and the young Placido Domingo.

A few days before, I was listening to the same station while driving Hayden to school in the morning. As we approached the school, he insisted I turn off the music, which I did assuming he found my choice of music distasteful. Because of this, during the station’s introduction before the opera presentation, I asked him if he wanted me to change the station or turn off the radio since he did not enjoy the same type of music as I.

“Oh, no,” he said. “It’s not that at all. I was afraid that some of the bullies at school would hear the music when I opened the car door and make fun of me for listening to old people’s music.” Then for the next hour, he entertained me by singing along with the performers every part of the opera, especially mimicking Ms. Price’s lirico spinto soprano – sometimes note for note including vibrato.
March 29, 2013

 

B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

In searching through the Blogosphere, I discovered a blog entitled “Logarithmic History: the history of the universe — from the Big Bang to the end of the year — day by day (https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/). The author attempts to compress the entire history of the universe using a logarithmic scale (you can read the “about” section of the blog to find out what he’s about)

The first entry I came upon, I assume corresponding to November 4, the day on which I discovered it, contained an excerpt from Essays of Montaigne on Cannibals that I found fascinating. Here it is in its entirety.

Three of these men [Tupi Indians from Brazil], ignorant of the price they will pay someday … ignorant of the fact that of this intercourse will come their ruin … poor wretches …were at Rouen, at the time the late King Charles IX was there [in 1562]. The king talked to them for a long time; they were shown our ways, our splendor, the aspect of a fine city. After that, someone asked their opinion and wanted to know what they had found most amazing. They mentioned three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and I am very sorry for it; but I still remember two of them. They said that in the first place they thought it very strange that so many grown men, bearded, strong, and armed, who were around the king (it is likely that they were talking about the Swiss of his guard) should submit to obey a child, and that one of them was not chosen to command instead. Second (they have a way in their language of speaking of men as halves of one another), they had noticed that there were among us men full and gorged with all sorts of good things, and that their other halves were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these needy halves could endure such an injustice, and did not take the others by the throat, or set fire to their houses.

I had a very long talk with one of them. … When I asked him what profit he gained from his superior position among his people (for he was a captain, and our sailors called him king), he told me that it was to march foremost in war. … Did all his authority expire with the war? He said that this much remained, that when he visited the villages dependent on him, they made paths for him through the underbrush by which he might pass quite comfortably.

All this is not too bad — but what’s the use? They don’t wear breeches.

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Your successes may be enjoyable but your failures are usually far more interesting.

D. Today’s Poem:
Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

Luigi Pirandello was born in 1867 in Girgenti (now Agrigento) on the southern shore of Sicily. He attended the University of Rome in 1887 and later transferred to Bonn University. His doctoral thesis was a study of the Sicilian language. He was influenced by Luigi Capuana (1839-1915). Antonietta, his wife by an arranged marriage suffered a mental breakdown that is said to have led to Pirandello’s sense of disillusionment. He was a prolific writer, producing widely acclaimed novels, short stories, and plays. His masterpiece, Six Characters in search of an Author was written in 1921. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934. He published five books of poetry.

Sempre Bestia

Senza far nulla, un leone è leone:
e un pover’uom dev’affrontar la morte
per avere l’onor del paragone
con quella bestia, senza stento, forte.

D’alti pensieri l’anima infelice
nutrite, si che s’alzi a eccelse mète.
Un gran premio v’aspetta. Vi si dice
che veramente un’aquila voi siete.

Sciogliete in soavissima armonia
il vostro chiuso intenso ardente duolo,
fatene una sublime poesia,
e vi diran che siete un rosignuolo.

Ma dunque per non essere una bestia
che dovrebbe far l’uomo? non far niente?
non pigliarsi ne affanno ne molestia?
E ciuco allora gli dirà la gente.
Always An Animal

Without doing anything a lion is a lion:
but hapless man must brave death
to have the honor of being compared
with that animal, strong, without limit.

Nourished by the soaring thoughts of an
afflicted soul, if one reaches an apex.
A grand prize awaits. Then it is said
you truly fly like an eagle.

Write a sublime poem,
that sings in silken rhyme
of your innermost intense feelings,
and they’ll say you sing like a nightingale.

What must a man do to not be likened to
an animal? can he simply do nothing?
without feeling anxious or troubled?
People would then take him for a jackass.

– –translated by Arthur V. Dieli

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“That’s right! Zombie bankers!” A flaming skull floated along beside the ghastly businessmen, howling like a hellish carnival barker. “Which is more terrifying: their eternal hunger for the flesh of the living? Or their reckless fiscal irresponsibility? No, seriously. Your input is valuable!”
Pike, J. Zachary. Son of a Liche (The Dark Profit Saga Book 2) (p. 528). Gnomish Press LLC.

Categories: October through December 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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