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.

Nightmare Theater




Long before Svengoolie, and even long before Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, there was Sammy Terry and Nightmare Theater. I was just a young kid then. My parents didn’t like horror movies (although my dad did develop a liking for sci-fi movies). Nevertheless they would let us stay up and watch them late at night on weekends. Which is to their credit, as some parents back in the 60s didn’t let their kids watch them.

This of course was long before you could rent movies to supplement regular network television. WTTV (Channel 4 back in those days) was an Indianapolis alternative station. They would program movies, local professional wrestling, reruns of series that had wandered off of the regular networks, as well as a local news program.

There was a strange lure to Nightmare Theater. It was dark, viewed in black and white those days. But anything really frightening about the program was pretty much negated by the camp attitude of Sammy Terry himself — played by and the creation of Robert Carter. He was certainly one of the pioneers in this genre.

And there were certainly a few movies across the years that scared the hell out of me. 


12 oz. Jean Valjean Mocha



“I saw you at Starbucks. You are Jean Valjean, are you not?”

“No. I am not.”

“But you look very much like him. And Jean Valjean was a heavy expresso drinker.”

“Regardless, I am not the man of whom you speak.”

“You really do resemble him. And Jean Valjean always ordered the double shot mocha, like you did.”

“Sir, I am not Jean Valjean.”

“I have a feeling that you are.”

“And I have a feeling…that I am not.”


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