Caveat: Tree #1889 “소방서 뒤에”

This tree was a scraggly, bare tree planted in the sidewalk behind the fire station across the street from my apartment in Ilsan, South Korea. I was noting that some snow had fallen in December, 2013.

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Still haven’t been feeling super healthy. So I ended up being quite lazy today – didn’t accomplish much at all.

Saw this online. It’s interesting to think about.

Grab a couple of dice. Roll them. If you get below 5, those are rookie numbers. Shout at the dice, let them know they’re underperforming. If you get above 9, that’s what we want to see! They’re good dice, and you should acknowledge that. Repeat that and keep a record. You’ll notice that negative feedback often results in better performance on the next roll. Positive feedback, conversely, can make them get lazy. When you truly understand why this method of dice management works, you are ready to give feedback to people.

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Caveat: memes and mastodon

I haven’t really mentioned, on this here blog, the fact that over the last year I have become a consistent user of “social media” again. Unlike a decade ago, when I was quite active on facebook for a few years (and to a lesser extent, I was using the Korean social media ecosystem branded “Kakao”), this time, I’m using a social media thing called “Mastodon”. Mastodon is quite different in one important respect from the social media that most people use: it is not owned or controlled by a large, for-profit corporation. Mastodon has a similar feel to twitter (or also, facebook’s main feed, ca. 2008), but it’s “open source” and “non-profit” and “non-centralized”. That ends up being an important distinction. It has no advertising. It doesn’t manipulate what you see – you yourself completely control it – there’s no “algorithm” to struggle with.

I’m not posting this here to try to convert anyone. Everyone has their preferred social media spaces, and among my close family and friends, the readers of this here blog, that’s largely limited to that ubiquitous and amoral behemoth, facebook (which I abhor but remain engaged with in a mostly ancillary way). I have the option of “cross-posting” entries from this here blog to Mastodon, and I do so, not inevitably (I like the control) but anyway, more often than not. And on Mastodon I’ve done something I haven’t done elsewhere on social media (or the internet in general) – I’ve completely elided the long-maintained separation between my geofiction-hobby identity (aka “Luciano” aka “geofictician”) and my poem-writing-tree-photographing-Alaska-dwelling identity (aka “caveatdumptruck” aka this here blog).

If anyone is interested in exploring mastodon, they can scroll through my feed, here: https://mapstodon.space/@luciano. If you’re interested in joining (making your own account on Mastodon), go here: https://joinmastodon.org.

One thing that any social media is very good for is for finding amusing bits of humor and “memes” as the kids call them, these days.

I ran across this one on Mastodon, yesterday, that I rather liked.

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Caveat: This is first-class reality

Real and Half Real

It was a time to find a new world: who was sent forth?
  Columbus, that is the dove, Noah's dove
Over wide waters. It was time (men having so long
  so vainly envied the birds) it was time to realize
That ancient dream: and who were appointed? Two
  brothers, surnamed Wright, (that's maker, artificer)
Launch their contrivance--where?--on the field of the
  hawk, Kittyhawk, the mewing hawk.
    These are the two great turnings
In a thousand years: you notice how the names mark
  them: to you see Myth
Leaning tall from her darkness over the shoulder of
  History, guiding
The hand that writes? A dove discovers new lands; a
  legendary artificer, doubled to symbolize
Importance, invents the plane.
    Or again: consider the dates of the earlier
  world-war. It became world-war
The day America entered: what was that day? A
  most appropriate day, a so-called Good Friday,
The day of the death of Christ. And then it ended,
  not quite too late, and its armistice
Is dated the eleventh hour, underscored by eleventh
Day and month: a grim bit of humor, trivial but omi-
  nous. --And now we return to complete the 
  twelfth--
The man who is chosen to crack the iron shell of Europe:
  what is is name? --Iron-hewer.
    There seems to be something
Intentional in these coincidences. Perhaps they are
  token
That what makes history is not the actors; men's minds
  and clashing causes are not the cause. The play--
As Hardy, Tolstoy, Sophocles knew--is authored
Outside the scene. Invisible wires are pulled, the pas-
  sionate puppets gesticulate, Napoleon, Oedipus
And Hitler perform their pre-formed agonies.

    But now consider
Something not human:--here the coast hills at Sobe-
  ranes Creek sea-mouth, sleep wedges and cones of
  granite
Thin-skinned with grass; their feet are deep in the flood-
  tide ocean, dark, heavy and still, calm in this trough
Between two storms; their heads are against the dark
  heavy sky. No life is visible but the bright grass,
And a gang of wild pigs, huddled flank-to-flank,
  flowing up a swale
On the far slope; and that one eagle, wheeling and rock-
  ing, high and alone
Against the cloud-lid.
    Here are not trivial artist-signatures, no puppet-
  play, no pretence of free will;
This is first-class reality. The human affair is half real,
  part myth, part art-work: this is in earnest.
I conclude
That men should play the parts assigned to them and do it
  bravely, emulating
The nobility of nature, but well in mind
That their play is a play; it is serious but not important;
  what's done in earnest is done outside it.

- Robinson Jeffers (American poet, 1887-1962)

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Caveat: Tree #1699 “Waiting”

This tree is probably still in South Korea. I took this picture in September, 2010, in the northwest suburbs of Seoul where I was visiting a friend.

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“Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that.” – Herman Melville (in Moby-Dick)

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Caveat: A commodified pseudo-art

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!”

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Caveat: Tree #1449 “The distant ones”

This tree witnessed sunlit, snow-covered mountain in the distance.

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“Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.” – from an Assyrian clay tablet, circa 2800 B.C.E.

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Caveat: for the new year

“For the new year. — I still live, I still think: I still have to live, for I still have to think. Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. Today everybody permits himself the expression of his wish and his dearest thought; hence I, too, shall say what it is that I wish from myself today, and what was the first thought to run across my heart this year — what thought shall be for me the reason, warranty, and sweetness of my life henceforth. I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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Caveat: without human meaning

Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

- Wallace Stevens (American poet, 1879-1955)

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Caveat: Too many words, but precious.

Uptick

We were sitting there, and
I made a joke about how
it doesn't dovetail: time,
one minute running out
faster than the one in front
it catches up to.
That way, I said,
there can be no waste.
Waste is virtually eliminated.

To come back for a few hours to
the present subject, a painting,
looking like it was seen,
half turning around, slightly apprehensive,
but it has to pay attention
to what's up ahead: a vision.
Therefore poetry dissolves in
brilliant moisture and reads us
to us.
A faint notion. Too many words,
but precious.

– John Ashbery (American poet, 1927-2017)
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Caveat: not in haste to end

The Best Thing in the World

What's the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you're loved again.
What's the best thing in the world?
--Something out of it, I think.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning (English poet, 1806-1861)
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Caveat: a piece / of ripened memory

Part of Speech

...and when "the future" is uttered, swarms of mice
rush out of the Russian language and gnaw a piece
of ripened memory which is twice
as hole-ridden as real cheese.
After all these years it hardly matters who
or what stands in the corner, hidden by heavy drapes,
and your mind resounds not with a seraphic "doh",
only their rustle. Life, that no one dares
to appraise, like that gift horse's mouth,
bares its teeth in a grin at each
encounter. What gets left of a man amounts
to a part. To his spoken part. To a part of speech.

– Joseph Brodsky (Russian-American poet, 1940-1996)
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Caveat: beyond / The flames of Troy & Carthage

The Oldest Living Thing In L.A.

At Wilshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum
Trying to cross the street. It was late, the street
Was brightly lit, the opossum would take
A few steps forward, then back away from the breath
Of moving traffic. People coming out of the bars
Would approach, as if to help it somehow.
It would lift its black lips & show them
The reddened gums, the long rows of incisors,
Teeth that went all the way back beyond
The flames of Troy & Carthage, beyond sheep
Grazing rock-strewn hills, fragments of ruins
In the grass at San Vitale. It would back away
Delicately & smoothly, stepping carefully
As it always had. It could mangle someone’s hand
In twenty seconds. Mangle it for good. It could
Sever it completely from the wrist in forty.
There was nothing to be done for it. Someone
Or other probably called the LAPD, who then
Called Animal Control, who woke a driver, who
Then dressed in mailed gloves, the kind of thing
Small knights once wore into battle, who gathered
Together his pole with a noose on the end,
A light steel net to snare it with, someone who hoped
The thing would have vanished by the time he got there.

– Larry Levis (American poet, 1946-1996)
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Caveat: Friday Blogroll

Blogs (and blog-like-objects) in my browser right now (in a few very broad categories).

Politics, philosophy, culture

Art

  • Wikiart (not really a blog, more like an online collection)

Technology

Language, linguistics

A supplementary quote:

“This is war, after all. If it feels good, consider for a moment you might be evil.” – Mike Solana (blog Pirate Wires, above)

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Caveat: An Apostate Quaker Parable

An Apostate Quaker Parable

A city denizen was out in the countryside and encountered a sturdy Quaker farmer. After ascertaining that the man was a Quaker, he asked the farmer if he believed in turning the other cheek.

“Yes, Friend, I accept that biblical instruction.”

Whereupon the city man struck the farmer on the left cheek. The farmer simply turned his head. Then the city man struck him on the right cheek.

Whereupon the farmer dropped his hoe and started to roll up his sleeves. Now since the farmer was larger and far more physically fit that the city fellow, the latter started to worry, and blurted out, “What are you doing? I thought you said you believed in following the Biblical command to turn the other cheek?”

“Oh, yes, Friend”, the Quaker farmer replied, “I do. But the Bible is silent on what to do when the other cheek is struck, and now I am going to chastise Thee for being an obnoxious oaf.”

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Caveat: In all my years as a pedestrian

This Economy

In all my years as a pedestrian
serving juice to guests, it never occurred to me
thoughtfully to imagine how a radish feels.
She merely arrived. Half-turning
in the demented twilight, one feels a
sour empathy with all that went before.
That, needless to say, was how we elaborated
ourselves staggering across tracts:
Somewhere in America there is a naked person.

Somewhere in America adoring legions blush
in the sunset, crimson madder, and madder still.
Somewhere in America someone is trying to figure out
how to pay for this, bouncing a ball
off a wooden strut. Somewhere
in America the lonely enchanted eye each other
on a bus. It goes down Woodrow Wilson Avenue.
Somewhere in America it says you must die, you know too much.

– John Ashbery (American poet, 1927-2017)
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Caveat: comedian-in-chief

The current president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, worked as an actor and as a comedian before becoming president.

In this very short bit, he and another comedian review the history of Ukraine-Russia relations.

– Ukraine has always conned Russia!
– Oh, please, it can’t be understood.
– Ukraine has Russia one day…
– and Russia has Ukraine the next!

I don’t very often spend time on youtube, but after finding that short video clip, I ended up spending more than an hour watching some of Zelenskyy’s oeuvre, including an episode of the sitcom that he produced and starred in (in which he plays an everyman that becomes president) that propelled him, via a bewildering life-imitates-art trajectory, to the presidency.

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Caveat: important

“I have just learned the meaning of ‘important’. It refers to an ant who is being brought into the United States.”
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Caveat: 베어도 움 돋이

I learned this aphorism from my book of Korean aphorisms.

베어도           움  돋이
be.eo.do       um  dod.i
cut-INF-CONCES bud sprout-ADV
Though [it's] cut, [it sprouts] like a bud sprouting.

This has an interesting grammar as far as I can figure out – there’s no main verb, really. The main verb (at the end) is instead in an adverbial form (the -이 ending). So really it’s something like “Though you cut it, the bud a-sproutingly…”. That’s the most I can get out of my grammar book – though I concede I’m a bit rusty on navigating these things – this is my first Korean aphorism in a year and a half.

I think the best contemporary parallel aphorism in English is the infamous whack-a-mole meme. You can’t get rid of a problem by hacking off buds – you’ve got to tackle it by the roots.

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Caveat: Dogwalking #18 and a handy problem-solving algorithm

I took the dog on a walk this morning – first in a week, as the road has been so icy and slippery I haven’t felt inspired to attempt it. The dog was pleased to take a long walk, and was on best behavior. I suspect that’s just coincidence – I don’t think she really thinks things through at that level, being a fairly impulsive beast.

Here are some pictures of the dog – walking.

She pulled hard on her leash till I let her off it.
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She found a deer-carcass skeleton – but she didn’t get carried away with it, as dogs sometimes do with disgusting dead things.
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She stood still for a brief moment for the camera. Not usual.
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Meanwhile, here is a handy way to solve hard problems, as attributed to the famous physicist, Richard Feynman.

The Feynman Algorithm. “The steps are as follows: Write down the problem. Think real hard. Write down the solution. Easy!”

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Caveat: Contempt of Generations

This World is not Conclusion

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond -
Invisible, as Music -
But positive, as Sound -
It beckons, and it baffles -
Philosophy, don't know -
And through a Riddle, at the last -
Sagacity, must go -
To guess it, puzzles scholars -
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown -
Faith slips - and laughs, and rallies -
Blushes, if any see -
Plucks at a twig of Evidence -
And asks a Vane, the way -
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit -
Strong Hallelujahs roll -
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul -

– Emily Dickinson (American poet, 1830-1886)
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Caveat: Dogwalking #17 and a thought on solitude

I walked the dog yesterday after a long break from dogwalking due to excessively icy roads and my own under-the-weatherness over the New Years weekend – mostly it was burnout from the hard push of extra hours working at the gift shop up to and through Christmas. She behaved quite well yesterday.

Today I walked the dog again, but she was quite badly behaved. She decided to chase a car, and pursued it at least as far as the shooting range – about a mile from our house. I had to walk to catch up to her, in very cold weather and calling for the dog. Then when I found her, I had to convince her to come close to me so I could catch her and put her leash back on. That was time consuming and difficult.

Then we made the trek back to her house, on the leash rather than letting her run free.

She seems to realize the leash is a problem, and frequently pauses and engages the leash in a game of tug-of-war to show her feelings.

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It was a longer walk than usual, anyway. Probably good for me.


I had a thought about solitude. Actually, the following quote is my own modification of something I must have run across somewhere online, which I have been unable to track down.

I like being alone. I have full control over my own life and my imagination has free rein. Therefore, in order to win me over, your presence has to feel better than my solitude. You’re not competing with another person, you are competing with my own mental landscape.

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Caveat: the internet, explained avant-le-lettre

The style will often be strange, incorrect, overburdened, and loose, and almost always strong and bold. Writers will be more anxious to work quickly than to perfect details. Short works will be commoner than long books, wit than erudition, imagination than depth. There will be a rude and untutored vigor of thought with great variety and singular fecundity. Authors will strive to astonish more than to please, and to stir passions rather than to charm taste. – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

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Caveat: tough

At the store today things were moving very, very slow. Wayne (the owner) came in and we stood around talking for almost 30 minutes. He said something memorable, which he attributed to an old logger he used to know down in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “Anybody can get old, but you have to be tough to stay old.”

Albert (an old Native American guy) came in at a different time and told some of his never-ending and entirely implausible stories about Sasquatches, the “Waterfall Mafia” (Waterfall is a major resort down the island a way), and the Murkoswki family’s criminal empire.
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Caveat: the clockwork programmer

The field of computer programming is not immune from the coming automation-of-everything.

In this video, some guys demonstrate the current state-of-the-art in computer programs that are able to write computer programs. Which sounds weird and tautological. But it’s kind of cool to watch.

At the end, they use their computer programming computer program to use Microsoft Word, which long ago became too complicated for humans to use effectively anyway. So now… they have made a program that can operate Microsoft Word in response to your instructions. Progress!

This quote is relevant, and I like it a lot, by one of my favorite contemporary bloggers:

“Computers are just going to get better and better at stuff, and at some point probably they’ll be as good as humans at various things, and if you ask them if they’re self-aware they’ll give some answer consistent with their programming, which for all I know is what we do too.” – Scott Alexander

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Caveat: where the field long slept in pastoral green

The Apparition
(A Retrospect)

Convulsions came; and, where the field
Long slept in pastoral green,
A goblin-mountain was upheaved
(Sure the scared sense was all deceived),
Marl-glen and slag-ravine.

The unreserve of Ill was there,
The clinkers in her last retreat;
But, ere the eye could take it in,
Or mind could comprehension win,
It sunk!—and at our feet.

So, then, Solidity’s a crust—
The core of fire below;
all may go well for many a year,
But who can think without a fear
Of horrors that happen so?

– Herman Melville (American writer, 1819-1891)
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Caveat: Zamza

I read a short story just now, that I enjoyed. It’s… difficult. It’s speculative fiction, of a sort. It reeks of Borges and postmodernism and pays homage to the recent developments in neural-net “artificial intelligence” (GPT-3 – not yet intelligent, but definitely something new and emergent).
Give it a try if you want. This is not a recommendation (in the spirit of the story itself). The link: Tropic of Zamza
Best quote:

Tropic of Zamza is only a book. It contains many words—92,581 of them, to be exact—but it is, mercifully, only a book. Being only a book, it lacks the capacity to physically injure you. You should remind yourself of this fact regularly, in the event that you make the horrible mistake of reading it.

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Caveat: where to be

I came across this quote.

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” – Marcus Aurelius

Maybe I’ll add it to the column on the right.
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Caveat: un río de libros

Aunque le pregunte al aire
Miro al aire y se convierte
en una calle invertida,
que se transforma en un río
de libros, rostros, pañuelos,
que se pone en pie y se vuelve
esbelta torre, que sube
y se troca en arcoíris,
que se transmuta en escala
por la que desciende una
luz vertical y amarilla
por la que camine - y cierro,
por no cegar, los ojos -
y ya no lo vuelvo a ver,
aunque le pregunte al aire.
- Ángel Crespo (poeta español, 1926-1995)

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Caveat: to sell them the world

Good Bones
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
- Maggie Smith (American poet, b. 1977)

This poem reminded me of my mother for some reason.
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