Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disjecta membra

Reading the poetry of Charles Wright (Negative Blue).
Reading the long poem, "Disjecta membra," I am pulled in. Disconcerted by words I do not know, I remember the thick black dictionary in our home where I looked up the words I didn’t know. I wrote them down in a tiny loose-leaf notebook, a tiny black binder with tiny pages, tiny holes and narrow lines. I wrote in ink and sometimes used the words in sentences, in paragraphs.

Wright's words here: “the soothing words, the sleights-of-hand to hoodwink the Paraclete.”

[paraclete: an advocate, an intercessor. 2. cap. the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (“person called in to help”)]

“Under the arborvitae, The squirrels have buried their winter dreams, and ghosts gather, close to home.”

[arbor vitae: a treelike appearance in a vertical section of the cerebellum, due to the arrangement of the white and gray nerve tissues.]

I thought the Paraclete was the Holy Spirit but wasn’t certain. And arbor vitae. I had no idea what it meant. How could I possibly have understood what he was saying, what he meant, if I hadn’t looked it up?

This poem is long, several pages...

The title “Disjecta membra” is probably Latin.

[disjecta membra:
scattered members; disjointed portions or parts: applied to fragments of poetry or fragmented quotations. From the Latin, an alteration of: : limbs of a dismembered poet, a phrase in Horace]

“Love is more talked about than surrendered to. Lie low, Meng Chiao (A.D. 751--814) advises -- beauty too close will ruin your life.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

That hopey, changey thing...

For Valentine's my husband bought me a 3/4 inch diameter curling iron and a bag of dark chocolate. I just mentioned these two things this morning as possibilities for the big romantic day and, as usual, he got right on it. I was bragging about this to my daughter and she asked me what I was getting for him. She's my conscience. I thought of the brownie mix in the cupboard and decided to bake brownies for him.

We were out of vegetable oil so I decided to run out to the grocery. It's near the Goodwill store so I couldn't resist a visit there first. I like to look for beautiful things among the ruins: fabric, baskets and china pieces. I also like to check out the half-priced books. Today I bought three,
Race, Class and Gender by Margaret L. Anderson and Patricia Hill Collins, 1998; New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours by Sam Davidson and Stephen Mosely, 2007; and Guide to Wine: An Introduction for Beginners by Fiona Sims, 2001.

According to half.com, the current list price for the 3rd edition of Race, Class and Gender is $43.95. But the half.com prices for "very good" copies begins at 75 cents and there are about 25 of them. So I won't make much money selling my copy. It's a college sociology textbook. My daughter majored in sociology and I know Patricia Hill Collins through my attempts to understand what she was learning. Collins is a black feminist. Sociology is a controversial discipline because it calls attention to things which make some people uncomfortable. Historically, sociologists have take the positions that here in the U.S. we have fallen short of our ideals. as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, for example, and that it would be a good thing to move closer to our ideals. This stance angers some many. Sociologically inspired projects -- movements toward social justice -- were once looked down upon as "social engineering."

Today the ideas that there is more than one valid interpretation of social experience and that members of formerly marginalized groups can make valuable contributions to the whole of society are threatening to many.

Like many sociologists, the authors of New Day Revolution have decided that some change would be a good thing. Jim Palmer, author of Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you) writes just inside the cover,
"William Faulkner writes, 'The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.' New Day Revolution by Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley was like discovering how to transform the world one stone at a time, one day at a time, one practical step at a time." I didn't know Faulkner said that...

The authors are Nashvillians and are the founders of Cool People Care. Their book and their organization appears to be for young people -- twentysomethings -- and is an immensely cheerful moral/ethical guide to living one day/one hour at a time. Print on both sides of the paper, buy fair trade coffee, eat everything on your plate, they say. They explain carbon offsets, the advantages of shopping at farmers' markets, and what "biodegradable" means. They point out the advantages of giving and working for non-profit organizations. This is how their beginner's glossary defines change agent: Usually synonymous with charity or non-profit, this term describes an organization (or individual) who seeks to change society in some meaningful way.

For a while now I have been yearning to learn more about the French secret to good health: wine. And this Goodwill purchase for $1.50 looks like just the thing. I don't want to be snooty, just knowledgeable enough to buy the stuff with confidence.

Well, the brownies are cooked. And I think I'm finished here for a while.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Bye for now.