Anything and Everything



“Oh judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason.”

(Shakespeare, Julius Ceasar, III.2)


Back in the 70s, at Indiana University, I took a class in symbolic logic. The professor I had for the class — let’s call him “Dr. C” for the simple reason that I can’t remember how to spell his long Italian surname — was an odd sort. An ex-Navy man, he sported a 17th century goatee and mustache, had his hair permed in an afro, and carried a good number of tattoos. He also had a bit of a reputation. Something to do with dating one of his graduate students, a no-no back in those days, there was a bit of a scandal — well let’s just leave it at that.

He also had a brain like a steel trap that I very much admired. And he didn’t try to hide it with false modesty. He was what I would later call a “confrontational” instructor. “Think!” he would yell at us across the classroom. We would kind of fidget at our desks, embarrassed. As well we should be. Thinking — thinking correctly — is never easy. Not happy with my grade at the end of the semester, not happy with having not learned enough in the class, I was to take the very same class with Dr. C  two years later. I only did slightly better. Yes, not easy to learn to think.

Perhaps the chief lesson I learned from him is something that he would drill into our heads the entire semester: “Never forget” he would shout, “anything and everything follows from a false proposition!” If proposition A is false, then conclusion B or C that follows from it may be false or may be true — the problem is that there was no real way of knowing.

No real way of knowing. And for a logician, that is like a deep dark well. It is darkness and death. It is not rational.

Having to deal with chronic free-floating anxiety since my 20s, how well and how many times have I gone back to Dr. C and his much stated sentence. Medication is certainly available to fight anxiety. But it is usually partially effective and almost always a double-edged sword that causes a flip-side reaction that creates depression. Logic and rationality, for me at least, has been more beneficial. No, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that people that suffer from anxiety should simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I’m just saying that as a therapeutic adjunct that in my case logic has been very beneficial.

Perhaps that is one reason why the state of our current culture bothers me so much. And why I have to spend so much of my time hiding from it. Looking outward, I see accusations, ill-defined terms, lies and deceits, gossip and imagined states of affairs posing as truth. I see that deep dark well, I am saddened by it and I want to yell “Just stop!”

So much talking, and talking about talking — including this post unfortunately. And I fear that also. Jesus of Nazareth said not to throw stones — but only he was qualified to say it. And so I reach out to words here, words that open up into the Universe, very carefully. As much as I respect Jacques Derrida, as much as I am prone to my own anxiety-launched deconstructions, I know that they can only be personal, and that the interpreter, as Umberto Eco said, is “a free detonator of what he himself produces.”  

But what I do feel safe in saying is that I fear that besides a return to the Nihilism of the 1930s, that we have entered into what Eco called the Kabbalistic Drift (one might as well say the Godless Kabbalistic Drift):

“Mallarme’s idea of a context made up by empty and white spaces can recall the rabbinical idea of a scroll where even the white spaces are to be read as letters, but this time there is no God to warrant (and to be named by) the combinatory game: The Book is not conceived by God to speak of Himself. On the contrary, the Book…only speaks of its infinite combinatorial possibilities.”

Interestingly, there is another area which deals in infinite possibilities — metaphysics. But if our current deconstruction of meaning — all the words, all the talking —  is tied to the metaphysics of Nihilism, then we are, essentially, saying nothing. I leave it to each of you to decide whether or not that is the current case. 

All I can say is that in the practice of charity, in mercy, compassion, and love, words are not really necessary. And it was not me that said that, of course. A being far greater than any said those things.

I read an interesting quote the other day by Jorge Luis Borges: “I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have ever read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved.” How certainly I have felt that over the past years. I am barely solid, so much of me is insubstantial, like a spirit on Prospero’s Island. Both sinner and saint, I flutter around in the storm as best I can.

And so this Christmas I would like to thank all those friends and family who have given me laughter, who have taught me, who have given me their hand when needed. And to you all I wish you this Holiday a peace that the world cannot give; I wish you Anything not dark; and Everything excellent that God may ordain.



Post-Election Results



Post-election results: The war will continue.

Which was pretty much an accomplished fact before even a single vote was counted in the 2016 National election. Hillary Clinton had said that she would continue the war against ISIS and, by extension, the entire war in the Middle East (difficult to have one without the rest). As for President-elect Donald Trump, if his comments on the matter are to be believed, he will escalate the war on ISIS, and even proposed “taking out their families.”

I can only repeat what I wrote back in September:

“I don’t think people understand quite what the war is doing to us. Where reason dismisses death, death destroys reason. It is driving our nation insane. Just look around you.”

Perhaps, at least to some, it is a little more clear now? Did we think that we could open the door to darkness and death, and not have it fall back upon us?

You have to be careful about calling down the Dark Angels; because they do not always stop at doing your bidding.

I pray for the people of this country, my family, my friends. Please note that you can all always find a safe coenaculum — Upper Room — here on my blog. We will pat each other on the shoulder and say “It’s going to be okay.” And, “Have faith.” We will hold each other’s hand.




Your Voice, Your Eyes


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In Jean-Luc Godard’s futuristic detective movie Alphaville (1965) there is a famous scene in which Natacha (Anna Karina) recites some lines of poetry. She is holding a copy of Paul Eluard’s Capital of Pain. The full text of the quote is as follows:

“Your voice, your eyes, your hands, your lips

Our silence, our words

Light that goes, light that returns

A single smile between us

In quest of knowledge I watched night create day

Oh beloved of all, beloved of one alone

Your mouth silently promised to be happy

Away, away, says hate

Closer, closer, says love

A caress leads us from our infancy

Increasingly I see the human form as a lovers’ dialog

The heart has but one mouth

Everything by chance

All words without thought

Sentiments adrift

A glance, a word, because I love you

Everything moves

We must advance to live

Aim straight ahead towards those you love

I went toward you, endlessly toward the light

If you smile, it enfolds me all the better

The rays of your arms pierce the mist”


A beautiful passage. Because of the book, it has always been said that the poetry she reads is by Eluard, specifically from Capital of Pain.

There’s just one problem: I have yet to find any evidence that the lines are by Paul Eluard.

I have read through Capital of Pain twice now, a bilingual translation, and have opened the book now and then and quickly read through a few poems (as one tends to do). But the “Your voice, your eyes” nevertheless sent me back to the book. I wanted to read it in context, as it were. But I couldn’t find it. Page by page search. Nothing.

Maybe I am just blind. Or not methodical enough. Someone, somebody tell me, please, where the lines above can be found in Capital of Pain. Do that I can simply delete this post and all will be well.

Now it could be that the lines are from some other book by Eluard, some poem found elsewhere. But I did a Google search on various lines from the above  — “your voice, your eyes” — “we must advance to live” — “I went toward you endlessly toward the light” — and all I managed to discover was a return path back to the movie Alphaville. Which seems strange. If they are lines by Eluard, and given the fact that they are rather wonderful lines (and lines even quoted in a movie), it seems that there would be some other reference to them, somewhere, the lines quoted on some poetry forum perhaps. But all I get is Alphaville.

Paul Eluard is not listed as being one of the authors/screenwriters of the movie. The only writer listed is Godard himself. In fact, Eluard died in 1952. So he could not have actively worked on the movie as co-writer or consultant. If the lines are by Eluard, they are earlier.

Until such time as more scholarship can be devoted to this question, I suggest we stop stating that the poetry is from Capital of Pain. In fact, I would recommend that we stop even stating that the lines are by Eluard.

But — somebody show me that I am wrong. Please.

One strange thing did happen in all of this, this morning, going through all of the searches and exploring this question — I was reminded of a poem that I damn well know is by Eluard and from Capital.

“It’s here that you see the creator of words

Who self-destructs in the sons he engenders

And names the forgetting of all the world’s names.”

— (from “Drink”)


Perhaps we should leave it at that for now.



NOTE: Please see the Comments to this post to read continuing updates on this investigation. 


Full Circle


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The only surviving manuscript of Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria  (1640).  From the Austrian National Library.

Contemporaries of this opera saw a parallel between Ulysses and Monteverdi, as the composer was “returning home” to opera (at an advanced age in fact) after being away from it for thirty years.

The first classical music I ever listened to were the selections on the album The-Well Tempered Synthesizer by Wendy Carlos. There was no doubt that her wonderful arrangement of the suite from Monteverdi’s Orfeo was the work that of all of them drew me in to that world of music.

And here I am, like Monteverdi, older and back again. It is a very special thing in life when things come full circle like that. It is as if the universe is shouting to you. 

Much more on all of this later. Because I am just getting started.



A Scattering Of Bones



On the part of the God of life, a stupefied horror. Could such perpetrators of infamy be considered the summit and crown of creation? Could the tribe called human conceive such crimes, then contrive the weaponry to carry them out? “I did not command them to do such things, nor did it even enter my mind.“*

Daniel Berrigan, SJ — Jeremiah: The World, The Wound of God 


*Paraphrase of Jeremiah 7:31

On the Difficulty of Conjuring Up a Dryad




The Dryad, Evelyn de Morgan (1884-1885)

“On The Difficulty Of Conjuring Up A Dryad”

by Sylvia Plath

    Ravening through the persistent bric-a-brac

    Of blunt pencils, rose-sprigged coffee cup,

    Postage stamps, stacked books’ clamor and yawp

    Neighborhood cockcrow — all nature’s prodigal backtalk,

    The vaunting mind

    Snubs impromptu spiels of wind

    And wrestles to impose

    Its own order on what is.

    ‘With my fantasy alone,’ brags the importunate head,

    Arrogant among rook-tongued spaces,

    Sharp greens, finned falls, ‘I shall compose a crisis

    To stun sky black out, drive gibbering mad

    Trout, cock, ram,

    That bulk so calm

    On my jealous stare,

    Self-sufficient as they are.’

    But no hocus-pocus of green angels

    Damasks with dazzle the threadbare eye;

    ‘My trouble, doctor, is: I see a tree,

    And that damn scrupulous tree won’t practice wiles

    To beguile sight:

    E.g., by cant of light

    Concoct a Daphne;

    My tree stays tree.

    ‘However I wrench obstinate bark and trunk

    To my sweet will, no luminous shape

    Steps out radiant in limb, eye, lip,

    To hoodwink the honest earth which pointblank

    Spurns such fiction

    As nymphs; cold vision

    Will have no counterfeit

    Palmed off on it.

    ‘No doubt now in dream-propertied fall some moon-eyed,

    Star-lucky sleight-of-hand man watches

    My jilting lady squander coin, gold leaf stock ditches,

    And the opulent air go studded with seed,

    While this beggared brain

    Hatches no fortune,

    But from leaf, from grass,

    Thieves what it has.’

The Things We Do For Love


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Valentina Lisitsa La reine du piano

Valentina Lisitsa
La reine du piano

As you may already know, I collapsed yesterday at Riverpark Square while downtown to get a haircut. I was sitting drinking some coffee at Nordstrom’s when I felt a sudden dizzy feeling. And that was it, lights out, my defibrillator went off to counter an attack of ventricular fibrillation. When I came to on the floor there were people around me, and the paramedics had been called — the great guys from Firehouse #4 got there just in time for another round of v-fib. After that I was taken to the hospital. It was like some sort of crazy dream.

At the hospital they looked me over, put some fluids and medication in me, took an EKG and eventually an upload from my defibrillator. I had a long talk with the Guidant technician (who I actually knew from a few years back), and we discussed the event and the outcome. Strangely, this was the first time since getting an ICD in May 2007 that I had ever felt those cannon ball like shocks. Eventually the ER physician handling my case got in touch with Spokane Cardiology to see what they wanted to do. Doctor Goldberg being off, my former Doctor Fuhs handled the case. They suggested that I get checked in to the hospital. But I decided not to do that. Granted, I was definitely thinking about seeing (or the possibility of not seeing) Valentina Lisitsa the following night. But honestly, I was scared of more shocks. And I felt that at home I would be less nervous, and being less nervous there would be a lesser chance of going into v-fib again than if I were at the hospital and worried about the possibility of not seeing the concert. So I checked out and went home.

As it happened, that was the wrong decision. I spent most of the night fearful of more shocks and regretting I didn’t have the support of being in a hospital. So I toughed it out until this morning, then called Spokane Cardiology. The cardiologist on call got back with me and said that if I hadn’t had any shocks since yesterday morning then it was not likely I would have more, at least not right away. He said that if I did suffer more than one shock this weekend then of course I should call 911 and check into Sacred Heart. But if not, then it was totally acceptable in his view that I could just “lay low” (his words) this weekend until Dr. Goldberg could be brought in on Monday.

And so I had a decision to make about the Valentina Lisitsa concert. There is nothing that says that it is likely that I would go into v-fib if I attended the concert tonight. In which case I could live the dream I have had as a fan for many years — to finally meet Valentina, get an autograph, maybe even a photo with her. And of course hear her play live again.

But from yesterday I knew how fast those v-fib attacks can come on, and unannounced. Things might go okay if I attended the concert. But also, perhaps not. And we are not talking about a sudden wave of nausea where I could rather quietly leave my seat during the show. No, v-fib would knock me on my ass. The crowd would grow concerned. Eventually the music would stop while, once again, the EMTs made their way to me. Perhaps not likely, but still a possibility.

It would be bad for the concert-goers. And more particularly it would be bad for Valentina. With all of the political bullshit that has been going on lately I think, speaking as her loyal musketeer, that what she needs is a really successful concert on American soil amidst her fans. Something she could move forward with. And I do not want to risk being there and disturbing the good things that would hopefully flow from all that.

And so, this old musketeer has decided to take another lead ball in the leg for his Queen. Because sometimes that’s what you have to do. Even though it be unpleasant. Even though it might break your heart.

Ah, the things we do for love. And of course it’s not only about Valentina. It’s about my mom, too, considering that I am 60 percent her caregiver these days. And it’s about my beautiful doxie Sasha. Who would pick out Sasha’s meat if I wasn’t around, give her the nightly chew treats, or be there for her when she goes into one of her epileptic seizures? That I do not even want to think about.

And so I will stay home this weekend. I will “lay low.” I will watch Wonder Woman and Star Trek and Svengoolie. And eat a burrito. Not exactly the weekend I had been looking forward to for two years. But I am alive.

Not Quite the Post I Intended




Well I was finally doing it. My first blog post in two months. I can’t say that it was a really significant post. It was just one of those images where people write stupid or humorous stuff on maps. Nevertheless it was in fact time-intensive. And it was turning out nicely.

Well after about four hours work I was almost finished with it. All that remained to do were a few additions to southeast Asia. Unfortunately at that point I didn’t have the time to complete it. I had to make a trip to Idaho, and so I figured I would put the work away and come back to it the next day and finish it up and post it. I did a quick Merge Layers and then did a Save. Or at least I thought I did a Save. Yeah I was totally convinced that I had done that important and necessary step. 

But no. Something screwed up. When I came back today to finish the job, all I found was the blank map I had started with. Nothing of my work remained.

One of the differences between the Pixlr editor that I have been using on my Chromebook and Adobe Photoshop is that kind of thing would never have happened in Photoshop. If you forget to hit Save in Photoshop it assumes you are going to come back to the work later and saves the work anyway as an executable PSD document. Then you just go from there.

Not so with Pixlr, alas. You know I really do like Pixlr. It has most of the bells and whistles that I was used to on Photoshop. In fact the only thing I didn’t much care for in Pixlr was the Text function, which is needlessly complicated and kind of a pain in the ass. And of course you can’t beat the price of Pixlr — it is free, compared to Photoshop which you have to sell a kidney to buy and which won’t work on Chromebook anyway.

So all that work, lost. But I was bound and determined to get something out of it. Thus, this post. And a new Batman bitch-slapping Robin meme which never existed in the entire history of the world. So there.  

Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)



Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) once again gets crux-flashed in 1973s Satanic Rites of Dracula. This was the last vampire movie the Lord of Horror made, with Lee saying he thought the movie “fatuous.” Actually it’s not much different than most of his Hammer Film series; and in fact the whole deadly plague thing thrown into this one adds something new. The movie has an itty bit of titty, so Not Suitable For Work. Just in case you would watch a movie called Satanic Rites of Dracula at work anyway.

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