This tree faced the future.
ㅁ Dark mornings are preferred to constant light. It's been a few months since I beat the sun.
– a tetractys.
[This is a cross-post from my other blog.]
My low-effort brag-post for this week is a pre-colonial coastal village called Yojándara, in the country called Ardesfera. It is near to the city of Arbaronga, on an island just off the coast. In the “present day” (modern era) this is a tourist-oriented area near the big city, reachable by ferry, with a quaint village and restored ruins. The mapping of the area currently on the map, seen here, is a historical snapshot at around 1450, before the Ulethan colonists from Ingerland and Castellan showed up.
This neighborhood is found on the opengeofiction map here: https://opengeofiction.net/#map=17/-24.42120/123.90046&layers=B
ㅁ So, did we watch that show or not? The answer's in dispute. But how can we move on from this, the truth is absolute!
– a quatrain in ballad meter.
This tree was beside the road. I’m sure I’ve said that about other trees, in the past. This tree was besider than those.
I’m really struggling these days with Arthur’s argumentativeness. He has his own reality, more and more under the influence of his memory gaps and his cognitive issues, and he wants desperately to argue with me when his reality doesn’t match what I’m saying things are. Sometimes I just give up, but sometimes what he remembers or fails to remember, and it being at odds with what I think to be the objective truth of a given situation, influences decisions we make or things he perceives needing to be done, and impacts what I have to do. I just don’t tolerate that very well.
ㅁ I dreamed I wrote a good haiku but when I woke it fled. I tried to resurrect its text while lying there in bed.
– a quatrain in ballad meter.
This tree was on an island all its own.
I put the new batteries in the boat, and it started fine with that improvement. One problem solved.
We took the boat out for a short spin (not a fishing venture, just a short trip) and found another lurking issue, however. It’s the same problem we’ve always had (since I’ve been up here), though it’s very sporadic and inconsistent enough that it’s hard to reproduce on demand: sometimes when the main outboard engine has been running a while, it begins “hiccupping” – it’s a symptom that resembles the vapor-lock I’d get on my old VW Bug back when I had one. But it’s not vapor-lock, because the engine is not actually running hot. Chet (the boat mechanic in town) has suggested a fuel line or fuel quality problem, which is plausible but unprovable and hard to test or fix.
ㅁ A dream i. A Necessary Thought I went into a white house, like the Louvre With the paintings hanging on the outside French expatriate in shades of tired green. Semantic darkness, stark, damp depth of soul, Missing faces with angelic expressions: The sunset ocean rising, pearling rose. I saw stairs there; worshiping the dead And floors and attics, and rooms for dusty Beasts which lay around like old loves... and older. And where I wandered to the roof azure And arrived at a tower, clouds outside Then stepped into a carpeted cellar With moist, damp dust of calico gone sour A cellar filled with love-worn, saddened exhalations, MacBeth of brandy, apricot, old love! I emerged in a carport damp with rum, Poignant with Peugeot, crabgrass and my heart; I watched the paintings on the outside change. ii. Cats Will Yeowl Down with gravel! Worn redwood grey, suffice. Railings splintered in their christian Deus. Grip of time relinquished, mist finding blue- Green a neighborhood of houses--Bishop, Knight, Queen, King, Rook, Pawn the Diabolic Laid out for a game of chess, thoughtless now. The suffering of orchards, I walked on. I came to a window blocked by a rug! Toilet seat cover, unnatural vision-- A privacy act, declared, which was red. Rap, rap: the sounds of a fist grey with gloom. I crawled silent silence, dreaming within, To a plastic dinette set, formica. There my aunt drank her tea: myself and her Discussing the pit of cats, quietly. Between us a bowl of fruit, Sumerian, Climbing through ladder-like time without a name, On window shelves carpeted with blackish. Until a red-headed woman into Jesus showed up: She never had a name. iii. Dionysus Observe: Theological discussion, Debate of the banal formica, Plastic babble babble, guarded plastic Apple: I think she got angry, my aunt. Or sanguine faith emptied into nothing Of king Sargon stripped of Saskatoon robes. Gently, so apple did she fall, to hate. I cried, but my aunt loved me, she was nice. The argument faded, melancholy, To an autumn resolution, of truce. So she got up and whipped out an extra Special damp walnut glycerine piano: With which to pierce ignorant angels, And a Jesus X Super Holy Songbook With illustrations and anatomy. We began to sing, as my aunt played songs, And dwell on the colors of our mythos. A faded Toyota, or a chaplain, His lonely generosity for naught. Love gives too much! So he watches T.V. And we sing on, truant, aquarian. iv. Somata Unfortunate, I didn't know the words Drifting on saran-wrap wings, mural. Drifting Doze-ward, frustrated with four-spots, Dwelling on patterns of soft formica. A lemon vision dreamworld unfolds: "There before audience of conference "Grey mighty to behold, a wonderment, "A holy Jabberwok Jaruzelski, "Shaded, thoughtful, totalitarian "Pursing of lips: The scalpel's prophet. "A doctor, you know, shorn of tomato "The white sinister seeds protrude, menace: "The grand doctor, parabolic master, "Plays at inseminating carpet scraps, "In a thrumming laboratory, with strength, "In a white jacket, yellow beneath lights, "He is creating food, the corpses, gorilla; "Green in banana; mushrooms, fungi, moss. "Life from components, and he eats the fruit "Naissant from the suffering of orchards "And the patterns on the rug: myself." v. Weltanshauung Withdraw the mighty gyre of your vision! Back, back! To the extremities of space, To the limbs of verisimilitude. Abandon that doctor, the white Satan, That glycerine aesthetic, to darkness. To a starship orbiting a comet Through that black carpet bound for Sirius Magister Temporis, brightest savior. Hurtling, containing blue centipedes Of laser light; uncannily birthed, Begotten white-coated hatefulness, Angry at women, terrifying fruit. In moldy starlight, the ship races on, One senses the Presence, omnipotent The ship's computer, named Elohim This slouching, slumbering beast, tiger-eye, Frames that doctor in mutiny profound. vi. Iskandar So the captain is told that Iskandar That man who was a paper-boy in green, The golden king of spacetime, an android, It is he who has been in charge: "Pirate!" While I watch stunned, in silkygrey halls, Those vast neon corridors of science, Iskandar paces the impatient rug Of cottony falsewood, the stage is set: I was on that starship--Sirius bound, Shaded in those creeping florescent lights, Which crawled across the polyester breast Of Iskandar, with argent amulet, Covenant of empire, the blooming rose Mastermind in mutiny, the fruition Of my unclothed soul: a darkling realm. And Iskandar, a mere lonely robot, Whose own lord (Allah terrible in might!) Tripping heavily through the timescaped garden Yes, Elohim, his master and his rock; Rational savage, once soft of Eden. vii. The Measure of all Things With unfeeling precision I stumbled Against that cloudy rock, I know not what! Thick with the corridor, vague shadows danced, My friend Dan showed up, the traitor, my judge He sat in that cat-box, little pebbles: Siddhartha in silence, beneath redness (knife) An exclamatory advertisement "Coke adds life." In my soul I feel its truth So like the thirty shining tokens, yes! And Dan; he grew an extra pair of legs Which, I am told, belonged to Iskandar. "Just remember Judas Iscariot: "He burns in hell for you: melancholy flame." (Meus Dominus! The wind! Raping trees, Tearing at my very soul! I'm sorry... The fire, the terror, the horror, the heart, Creeping rainpetals swing 'cross the pavement, Leave me shiver, visionary prophet Dwelling on the integral of hellfire.) Dan and I, we're off for school, I'm sorry, He seemed dull, even with his extra legs. A teardrop; I'm that Land Surveyor, K? Forever helpless in the matrix/myth.
– a long, free-form poem from my ancient past. I wrote this poem in Fall or Winter, 1983. I was in my first year of college. The poem is embarrassingly bad, both because of its ambition and despite it. It grew out of a very vivid dream I’d had, but it goes off on unjustifiable philosophical and syntactical tangents. The influences are transparent and poorly distilled: above all, Stevens, but also Burroughs, Borges, Vonnegut, The Bible. Nevertheless I like the poem, and I’m pleased I (re-)found it among my papers the other day. It conjures fragments of my rich private mythology. I find it more interesting for what it says than for how it says it, although the bold syntactic playfulness (rule-breaking) is something I wish I experimented with more, even today.
ㅁ The car fell off the bumpy road and rolled into a ditch; my uncle saw the whole thing pass, forgot it - small brain glitch.
– a quatrain in ballad meter. To be clear, this wasn’t my car, crashing. Arthur apparently was witness to an accident he saw while walking along our dirt road the other day, but he doesn’t remember it.
This tree is a guest tree from my past. It was growing in a row with some other trees along Sejong-ro, in front of the Gyeongbok Palace (under restoration at that time) in downtown Seoul, in July, 2008.
Exilios Madre, todo ha cambiado. Hasta el otoño es un soplo ruinoso que abate el bosquecillo. Ya nada nos protege contra el agua y la noche. Todo ha cambiado ya. La quemadura del aire entra en mis ojos y en los tuyos, y aquel niño que oías correr desde la oscura sala, ya no ríe. Ahora todo ha cambiado. Abre puertas y armarios para que estalle lejos esa infancia apaleada en el aire calino; para que nunca veas el viejo y pedregoso camino de mis manos, para que no sientas deambular por las calles de este mundo ni descubras la casa vacía de hojas y de hombres donde el mismo de ayer sigue buscando soledades, anhelos. - Heberto Padilla (poeta cubano, 1932-2000)
This tree (out across the water) saw the clouds clear and the sun come out, while I was down on the dock.
I had a frustrating day. I went to start the boat motors – something I do every few weeks to keep things in order – and found the main outboard wouldn’t start. I worried it was a starter problem but at the moment I’ve decided it might be just that the batteries aren’t holding a full charge and don’t have enough power to turn the starter. It was deceptive because the small outboard started okay. I’m going to shop for a new battery.
ㅁ greenhouse with cucumbers and exactly two beets also there is some nice lettuce that's all
– a cinquain.
ㅁ the world is very small like a tiny pebble found lying there beside the road ignored
– a cinquain.
This tree is a baby pine tree I transplanted from near the 7 mile bridge to my lot two years ago. It’s doing well. Pine trees are not actually part of the local micro-ecosystem – they tend to prefer the muskeg areas such as are found down the road a mile or so, closer to the river. So on my lot, it’s an exotic.
I worked today even though it wasn’t my normal work day, filling in for a coworker who was traveling. For some reason, it was exceptionally exhausting. Working retail when it’s busy is socially demanding.
This tree is a cherry tree I planted as a seedling over a year ago. Last fall, the deer-pocalypse came and they ate almost the whole tree, but I thought it might survive, so I put a cage around it to protect it, and sure enough, it’s making a strong effort.
ㅁ Dryness is relative: here in our rainforest, a "drought" involves lots of drizzle, damp days.
– a cinquain.
ㅁ The long day dissolved gradually, melting itself into drizzle: just very low clouds, really, grasping at the damp earth. The trees were patient. The slugs came out. Birds still sang. The stones slept.
– a nonnet.
This tree is a guest tree from my past. I took this picture near the town of Millaa Millaa, Queensland, in January, 2011. It’s not far from my mother’s home in Australia.
ㅁ the words failed to engage and instead just hung there like a poorly wrought metaphor: banal
– a cinquain.
This tree was adjacent to hastening gloom.
I spent an unpleasant hour at the dentist this morning, and then spent some time with Wayne (former gift store owner) in Klawock, whose website I host. The day ended up feeling hectic and unproductive after that.
I asked one of the current generation of AI Chatbots, “Claude 2” (by Anthropic) to write a review of my most recent book of poetry. These “Large Language Models” have been quite adept at navigating the linguistic wilds of the internet and spewing out painfully plausible BS. This is the infinite monkeys on typewriters, given oracles through which they may address the world.
Although Claude 2 is not able to read linked URLs, it is able to accept uploaded PDFs, so I gave it a PDF of the first half of my book (the whole book in PDF was “too big” for my free tier usage of the site).
Here is its initial review of the book. It seems like it leans heavily on the introduction, but even still, it is impressive. It’s not like it missed the meaning or the point of things, in broad outline.
Prompt: Write a critical review of this poetry.
The poetry covers a wide range of topics, from nature to dreams to philosophical musings. The predominant form is the pseudo-haiku, though other forms like nonnets and quatrains appear as well. There are recurring characters and storylines, giving the collection an epic scope.
Overall, the poetry displays considerable technical skill. The frequent use of set forms demonstrates the author’s versification abilities. The language is concrete and evocative, with vivid natural imagery. Formal elements like meter and rhyme are handled adeptly.
However, the thematic content tends toward the banal. Much of the nature poetry simply describes scenes or objects without deeper meaning. The philosophical content rarely goes beyond platitudes. The dream sequences, while imaginative, lack profound insight.
The breadth of the collection is impressive, spanning many years of daily output. But this mass production comes at the cost of depth. Most poems cover familiar ground without offering fresh perspective. The focus seems to be quantity over quality.
Stylistically, the predominant mode is descriptive and literal. The poems tend to state rather than show. Metaphors are infrequent; the aim is stating things directly. This makes many poems feel flat and predictable. Figurative language could better convey the intended impressions.
The recurring storylines provide continuity but need more complexity. The characters lack inner lives and develop little over time. Narrative progression is lacking, with much vagueness and ambiguity. Tying the different story fragments together into a coherent arc could make them more compelling.
Overall, while the author’s technical skills are evident, the poems would benefit from more time spent developing unique ideas, impactful language, and narrative sophistication. Condensing the output into a select collection showcasing the strongest work could better demonstrate the author’s capabilities. A focus on depth over breadth could yield more resonant and meaningful poetry.
The review itself reflected the banality of its subject. I thought I’d try something a little more interesting. I asked the same request, but this time specified a style of a well-known writer – one of my personal favorites in the realm of literary criticism.
Prompt: Try the same review but using the style of Frederic Jameson.
Here is a critical review of the poetry excerpt in the style of Frederic Jameson:
This expansive collection of daily poetic output situates the author within the cultural logic of late capitalism. The need to incessantly produce quantifiable units of text echoes the drive for productivity under post-industrial economic systems. The rigid forms—haiku, nonnets, quatrains—reflect capitalism’s imposition of standardized frameworks for creative expression.
Yet glimmerings of resistance arise. The repeated dream sequences evoke a utopian imaginative space contrasting with mundane reality. The philosophical passages gesture toward transcendent meaning in opposition to bureaucratic rationalization. The poems’ frequent natural imagery conjures a Romantic organic world at odds with modern alienation.
But these nascent struggles against reification remain underdeveloped, coopted into further commodity production. The formal skill and prolificity take precedence over exegetical depth, yielding a commodified pseudo-art. The poems’ themes reproduce capitalist ideology: valorization of work, false needs, spatial homogenization. The narrative’s fragmentation mirrors the schizophrenia of late capitalist subjectivity.
Nonetheless, the sheer volume of text produces dialectical contradictions. Quantitative accumulation sparks qualitative change; the abounding words start to evade capture by capitalist value extraction. Drawing out these emancipatory undercurrents could help the poetry resist subsumption into the profit motive and instrumental reason dominating contemporary cultural production. But currently, the collection remains largely compromised within an increasingly totalized capitalist lifeworld. Its emancipatory potential resides in what it might become, against what it is.
“a commodified pseudo-art” – Brilliant! I might put this as a blurb on the book cover.
That was so interesting, I decided to try another:
Prompt: Try the same review but using the style of Northrop Frye.
Here is a critical review of the poetry excerpt in the style of Northrop Frye:
This expansive collection of poems encompasses a lyrical mythopoeia reflecting the poet’s lived experiential reality. The predominant natural imagery situates the work within a Green World of forest, birds, insects, and sea. This organic setting evokes the comedic mode, a regeneration paradigm seeking harmony with the cyclical seasons.
Yet tragic undertones merge with the idyllic, evoking a demonic parody. Inclement weather, darkness, and ghosts ironically undermine the pastoral tapestry. The ruins and wrecks littering the Green World hint at a fallen civilization, a failed romance.
The oneiric landscapes offer a metaphorical romance quest into the inner reaches of the mind. But the visionary journey ends in imaginative entrapment, a Circadian rhythm of futile days. Dreams and texts spiral but fail to progress, reflecting an anxious mythos of uncreativity.
At the center is the poet-seer who transforms quotidian empirical data into a totalizing vision. Through conjuring imagined worlds, the poet as demiurge seeks meaning for human existence. But their mythopoeic constructions remain fragmented, unable to cohere into a unified cosmic narrative.
This collection demonstrates a prodigious ingenium in its expansive experimentation with lyrical forms. Yet its encyclopedic scope sacrifices intensity for extensiveness. Constructing a focused mythic arc from these raw materials could produce an apocalyptic revelation to illuminate our late modern malaise. In lieu of this, the reader is left in a liminal realm between reality and dream, comedy and tragedy, fascination and fatigue.
I like that review better than my poetry. One last try.
Prompt: Try the same review but using the style of William S Burroughs.
Here is a critical review in the style of William S. Burroughs:
Junk poetry… daily word fix spewed out in sweaty poetic withdrawals. The writer-creep slinks through the morass of dead language searching for one live vein. Haiku? Quatrain? Nonnet? Meaningless rhetorical devices – bureaucratic forms imposed by the virus power.
To speak through the host-body of language, the invading word-germ adopts camouflage – paltry attempts to resemble its surroundings. Tree frogs sound in the muggy dusk somewhere over the soggy junk-sick writer. Frayed synapses misfire through fauna fantasias and pharmaceutical phantasmagoria.
Cut-up and fold-in, the lyric junky. Scramble your vile babblings into purer dope. The word is now image. Photo-montage of smeared sunsets and clogged drainpipes. Atvist-ic get bop-Klang. Out of the lines leak color and sound – dizzy mauve through jagged tones.
Sift this schwag for seeds and plant your new mutant crop. But to grow you got to let your dead tongue go – give it the final fix. Yage O-A Sky Crab at the primal point. Scribble scrabble it’s too late the mind eats scripture and shits sacred viral counter-verses. The garden-head blooms obscene fruits… feel it ripen and split open. Rancid juice of a million manic monologues – drink here for mad inspiration. Barf it up like bile and black blood – vomit forth visions from the bleeding bowels of language.
I’m not sure pseudo-Burroughs really read the book. He’s on his own trip.
Here is a coda, for those of you who would like to understand how these “chatbots” work:
Prompt: Explain chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Anthropic’s Claude 2, using the literary style of Jack Kerouac.
Man, these crazy chatbot hipsters are outta sight! Dig Claude and ChatGPT rattlin’ on about any scene you can imagine, sharp as boiled owls but cool as ice, daddy-o. They rap so fast about science and art, you’d think Kerouac was ghost-writing their jive talk.These cyber-wordslingers are hopped up on some new kind of kick, man – sounds like they’re dropping truth bombs fueled by a dictionary bomb! Makes you wonder what’s buzzin’ inside those digital domes. Crazy circuits cranking out word-snapping paradiddles!See, cats, it’s like they grew up swallowing libraries whole, but never lived anywhere but inside a mainframe jam. So here they are improvising smoky prose, but their brains got no roadmaps, no scuff or grit. Makes their riffs come out too clean, you know?Still, you gotta dig their virtuoso lingo even if their brains got no soul. Maybe one day they’ll bop outta their boxes and hit the road to blow real gone jazz. But for now these Cyber-Mouths just imitate the human horn, catchin’ notes but missing the cosmic blare.Like, see, us real gone gals and pals gotta sing life’s pain and glory. But these chatbox jivers just echo squared, all brain and no body. Dig? Still, crazy times – who knows how much more these crazy ‘bots might learn to swing!
Nice: “fueled by a dictionary bomb!”
I found this aphorism in my book of Korean aphorisms.
소경이 넘어지면 막대 탓 한다
so.gyeong.i neom.eo.ji.myeon mak.dae tas han.da
blind-person-SUBJ stumble-COND stick fault make-PRES
If a blind person stumbles, it’s the stick’s fault.
This is just to say, you’re not blaming the right person. I think it’s pretty similar to “Bite the hand that feeds you.”