Month: January 2020
Caveat: just a machine
“I don’t speak. I operate a machine called language.” – the character named Bijaz in Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune Messiah.
Caveat: Poem #1279 “That duck is out of its comfort zone”
Caveat: Tree #393
This tree got whacked by the power-line maintenance people – it was growing up under the wires. Still. It’s sorta hangin’ in there.
[daily log: walking, 2km]
Caveat: Poem #1278 “The uselessness of syntax”
Caveat: Tree #392
Caveat: sin hallar el plomo
UNIDAD En esta noche mi reloj jadea junto a la sien oscurecida, como manzana de revólver que voltea bajo el gatillo sin hallar el plomo. La luna blanca, inmóvil, lagrimea, y es un ojo que apunta... Y siento cómo se acuña el gran Misterio en una idea hostil y ovoidea, en un bermejo plomo. Ah, mano que limita, que amenaza tras de todas las puertas, y que alienta en todos los relojes, cede y pasa! Sobre la araña gris de tu armazón, otra gran Mano hecha de luz sustenta un plomo en forma azul de corazón. - César Vallejo (poeta peruano, 1892-1938)
Caveat: Poem #1277 “Theoretical constructs”
Caveat: Tree #391
This tree is the daily tree. And your appreciation isn’t required.
[daily log: walking, 1.5km; metal-lifting: 200kg]
Caveat: Heavy Metal
I took some time this morning to rearrange the sheet metal on the east side of Art’s driveway. This is the sheet metal that complicated my abortive attempt to exit the driveway after the last major snow (blogged previously).
I’m happier with it now.
That sheet metal is heavy.
What I’m listening to right now.
Deep Purple, “Child In Time.”
Sweet child in time You'll see the line The line that's drawn between Good and bad See the blind man Shooting at the world Bullets flying Ohh taking toll If you've been bad Oh Lord I bet you have And you've not been hit Oh by flying lead You'd better close your eyes Ooohhhh bow your head Wait for the ricochet Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Ooo, ooo ooo Ooo ooo ooo Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Ooo, ooo ooo Ooo ooo ooo Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Aah I wanna hear you sing Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Aaahhhh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Sweet child in time You'll see the line The line that's drawn between Good and bad See the blind man Shooting at the world Bullets flying Mmmm taking toll If you've been bad Lord I bet you have And you've not been hit Oh by flying lead You'd better close your eyes Ooohhhhhhh bow your head Wait for the ricochet Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Ooo, ooo ooo Ooo ooo ooo Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Oooooo ooooooo ooooooo Ooo, ooo ooo Ooo ooo ooo Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Aah I gotta hear you sing Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Aah Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Aah Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aaaahh aaaahh aaaahh Aahh, aahh aahh Oh..God oh no..oh God no..oh..ah..no ah AAh..oh.. Aawaah..ohh
Caveat: Poem #1276 “Morning stuff”
Caveat: Tree #390
I drove into town today. Just me – Arthur stayed home. I dropped off some paperwork at Klawock City Schools. Hoping to expand my substitute-teaching opportunities. I stopped by Jan’s work and tried to help with a computer problem. It’s good to feel useful and competent. I haven’t had that feeling much, lately.
A tree from my archive-o’-trees. This tree, on a cliff, is at Cape Foulwind, on the west side of New Zealand’s South Island. The cape seemed well-named when I saw it, in February, 2011.
[daily log: walking, 3km]
Caveat: 남의 바지 입고 새 벤다
I found this aphorism in my aphorism book.
남의 바지 입고 새 벤다
nam.ui ba.ji ip.go sae ben.da
otherpeople-POSSESSIVE pants wear-CONJ grass cut-PRESENT
[One] wears another’s pants and cuts grass.
This means to benefit by using other people’s things. The word 새 was difficult here. Apparently it can mean “grass” but I didn’t find any Korean-English dictionary telling me so. Nor did I find it in any Korean-Korean dictionary. However, I found many sentences translated online where the word was clearly used to mean “grass.” I suspect it’s a Chinese word, and not, strictly speaking, Korean. It may be seen as archaic or something.
Caveat: Poem #1275 “An occupied territory
Caveat: Tree #389
This tree stands in the rain. It’s hard to see the rain, though.
Arthur’s friend and fishing companion, Wayne, a frequent guest here at Rockpit Resort, was apparently inspired by my frequent tree pictures on this here blog to share with me a picture he took during a visit to Prince of Wales Island – a bear on a tree. I like this picture.
[daily log: walking, 2km]
Caveat: a Lamarckian fantasy
I did something unexpected over the last two days: I read a novel.
For whatever reason, I don’t read much fiction anymore. I used to read it continuously. But over time my reading diet has become more and more focused on non-fiction. I mostly read history, philosophy, sociology, and what is sometimes called “cultural criticism,” which subsumes things like literary theory, postmodern cultural analysis, etc. And it remains the case that I read at least several new wikipedia articles every single day. As an utterly random example – I happen to have a tab on my phone’s browser open to a fragment of WWII history, at the moment: the Battle of Monte Cassino.
Anyway, in fact, I think it’s safe to say this was the first novel I’ve read in at least two years.
But it’s a bit of a “cheat,” actually. The novel is one I read before. Maybe a bit over 30 years ago, when I read a novel every few days.
The novel I read is Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert.
Why did I (re-)read this book?
As has been mentioned, Arthur and I have a custom of watching television for a few hours each evening. We don’t have “broadcast TV” here (whatever that even is, anymore), nor cable, nor any of those many internet subscription TV services like Netflix that dominate the modern media markets. Arthur keeps and constantly expands a library of DVD series and movies, which he rips onto a plethora of external multi-terabyte harddrives, shared through the “My Library” functionality of his MacBooks’ iTunes application. It’s a pretty expansive library.
So over a few nights starting last week, we watched the 3-part Dune TV miniseries from the year 2000. With respect to the show, I can say that I may have seen it before – the aesthetics of it were vaguely familiar. In some ways it’s an impressive production for a non-blockbuster-level TV production. The costuming and some of the set design is excellent, capturing the the exoticism of the novel, while the acting is inconsistent, and the special effects are often alarmingly jarring – special effects rarely age well due to the rapid changes and advances in that domain. Overall, as a sci-fi adaptation, I’ve seen both worse and better.
But of course I’m more interested in commenting on the Dune books. Having just watched the TV show, which was an adaptation of only the first book in the series, I was walking past my collection of books and there it was, sitting on the shelf: the second book in the series. So I took it down and started reading. Perhaps curious, with the mileau and characters fresh in my mind, as to how it played out.
And I read it straight through.
I had been expecting to find that the Dune books had not aged well. Certainly, my memory of them had not aged well. I recalled them as impressive at the time I read them as a teenager, but pretentious and implausible in retrospect.
In fact, in actually reading the book, it’s better than I imagined, while nevertheless allowing my retrospective criticism to stand unchallenged.
The novels were always famous for being philosophically “deep” and for being quite innovative in their view of possible futures for humanity. They deserve that. And I think some of their “predictions” (although really, being set in a 10000+ years future, “predictions” is probably a bad standard to apply) have actually aged remarkably well.
The books are best viewed as a collection of philosophical aphorisms bound together by an implausible plot but strung along with compelling characters. Being much more conscious of the “craft” of writing than I was as a youth, I see how the books are stitched together, now – more than I did then. I speculate that Herbert wrote his aphorisms first and added the plot as best he could around them. I might be wrong, but it has some of that flavor to it.
Some of the philosophy has aged very well. I read glimpses of some of my most respected more contemporary philosophers: Gilles Deleuze, Frederic Jameson, etc. Yet much of what they wrote came after the Dune books. Was this type of thinking merely “in the air” of the 1960s and 70s? Perhaps so.
One of the more notable things about the Dune books that I have for a long time felt aged very poorly is the aspect that might be termed “Lamarckian fantasy.” I just invented that term, but I use it to refer to the dominant themes of “genetic memory” in those books. Characters have access to the lives and memories of their ancestors via some kind of transcendental genetic transmission. Shockingly, the relatively new, burgeoning field of epigenetics may be rendering this type of fantasy a kind of reality, though not in exactly the way Herbert envisioned. Recently, a study showed, for example, that laboratory mice are able to “inherit” behavioral traits acquired by their parents, even when raised entirely separately (in isolation) from those parents. The presumed mechanism for the transmission of these traits is via hormonal load passed from mother to child at fertilization, influencing epigenetic factors in neuron development. This is essentially a return to Lamarckian thinking, supposedly discredited since Darwin. And suddenly, therefore, Herbert’s concept of inherited memories has a new, scientifically plausible mechanism. One wonders….
This is much more of a book review than I am normally inclined to write. I suppose just the shock of having actually read a novel motivated me. And the fact that I had what I felt to be a genuine insight into how Herbert’s masterpiece series might have anticipated more than he realized, if not quite in the way he envisioned.
Caveat: Poem #1274 “설날”
Caveat: Tree #388
This tree has been blogged before. It’s on the neighbor’s property and juts out over the water photogenically when seen from the dock.
[daily log: walking, 1.5km]
Caveat: each time a different way
My loyal blog reader (and once-upon-a-time college roommate in Saint Paul in the 1980s) David Dickerson writes songs sometimes. He forwarded this one to me, and granted me permission to publish the lyrics as one of my “not my poetry” poems. I like the idea that sometimes the poetry published on my blog is by people other than me, but whom I actually know.
Roadside Buddha Traveller, where are you going? May I help you find your way? Cause you have so many questions Written on your face I'm a roadside Buddha and might know the way Yes, I've been there many times But each time a different way So you'll have to ask again At the start of every day I'm a roadside Buddha in a world of change I regret I can't go with you If you look back, you'll see I'm stone (a weathered stone Buddha) I just wake the wisdom in you You must go your path alone I'm a roadside Buddha and here I'm home Carry me in your heart (In your heart, in your heart) Help others find their way (Help us shed the darkness) Give them sustenence and love (Give us love, give us love) You'll grow richer every day (Sharing makes us richer) Be a roadside Buddha who colors the gray And if you look into the future You'll see that I'm ahead Waiting by the roadside To lend a hand again (To lend a hand) I'm a roadside Buddha going your way
Above is a picture of a “roadside Buddha” whom I saw often in Korea. It’s along the trail at the Yeongcheon Temple (영천사) on the western flank of Gobong Mountain (고봉사), which I used to visit when living in Ilsan, Korea – it was the closest “traditional” Jogye Temple to where I lived (there were closer temples, but those were modern, urban temples, like the one behind the Cancer Center). It was about a 3 km walk. There was a very kind monk there with whom I sometimes spoke in my bad Korean. I believe one time I took my mother there and she met him, too.
Caveat: Poem #1273 “Things that ghosts do”
ghosts emerge from night taste the damp soil, dance on stones, make dark suggestions
Caveat: Tree #387
Most of the people in this video vote – in case you wanted some understanding of the current American polity.
[Warning: quite NSFW]