Sunday, December 28, 2008
I have been reading a biography of the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, by Ragna Stang. The anecdote about he had to boil a book cover for the glue it contained, and how he ate the results, stands out. This is what one calls a starving artist.
Above image by Arnold Bocklin: I first became aware of this great painting when I purchased a reproduction of it on a postcard, bought in New York.
A couple of old ones, prose poems I wrote shortly after (or maybe it was during -- can't recall) a week in Albion, Nebraska, in August 1994, while visiting friends. Ann Erickson of Guerneville, California published them in her now-defunct poetry magazine, tight, in 1997.
by Jonathan Falk
Crazy Horse falls or rolls into the prairie.
Broken angel wings freight cemetery.
Soybeans throttle the soil, coffins underneath the slope loaded with occidental bones of colored glass.
Corn stamens thunder, dipping pollen into the air.
Packed soil where they danced, owl hooking its wings into a pole distant beyond windbreaks, cicadas call in tree domes, pearl streaks thread wind and evening sky.
by Jonathan Falk
Planet beams beyond earth's edge, arisen above plains town.
Windmill blades sigh on distant ridge, wind pouring from flush of receding sun.
Cloud banks, wrinkled and piled, stained with falling glory, looming against the grey zenith.
Birds voice in Victorian trees, pour like motes to nightfall.
Lightning floods clouds far off in the gloam. A penultimate scrap suspended in the drawing blackness. The tables of mortality pepper the ridge.
Posted by Jonathan at 1:54 AM
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Cabin fever, snow like broccoli brains hiding outside the double pane.
Had a UFO dream, in which I saw a vaguely airplane-shaped formation of red lights, maybe forty, fifty miles up, in an inky profound sky, a few cold starlights... Then the lights flew apart and vanished, fading out abruptly.
Posted by Jonathan at 1:07 AM
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Photo I took in Multnomah Cemetery in Portland, of the grave of a Russian (or possibly Ukrainian, or some other nationality) woman... I obscured the name and etched image of her face on the gravestone, but the spectral bow at the lower border of the grave appeared on the developed photo. Product of the developing process, flaw in the photograph, or signal from beyond? The placement of the phenomenon is eerie...
Been reading Sir Thomas More's Utopia -- the early Modern English difficult but worthwhile, more concrete than Plato's Republic.
By Jonathan Falk
Canopus beams through the harbor, pine board scents beneath horns of cumuli; Or saffron shade in Oceanus Procellarum, futhark.
I a boy screamed in the circus – a ventriloquist hypnotist standing in tinsel, camels kneeling, staccato laughter – diagnosis – the 381 inderdiction, a squishing malleus. The dummy’s mouth hinges shiver in junk store. A boy dreaming by the creek, walnut tweezed from his sinus, invisible friend dead in lunar spackle.
Once hearing “paraqueets on Saturn,” big syringe’s wash, these dogs on California Street, spent a lot of time hanging out, as it were, on the poop deck, an earwax pick gleaned in Chinatown sandalwood light, the bums avoid the high places.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:29 AM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Here is an H.P. Lovecraft parody, another light piece. Lovecraft has inspired a large number of parodies, both written and cinematic. The reason why his work lends itself to humorous imitation is plain: The seriousness and earnestness of much of his work (leaving aside the parodies he wrote himself) inspires such thoughts.
Last week watched Arrabal's The Guernica Tree. He is one twisted individual. The blasphemy in Tree isn't quite as revolting as the bisected bug in Viva la Muerte though. Bloggity blog blog.
A photograph I snapped at Boston Harbor way back in 1986 -- bit of a Magritte feel. The illusion turned out fairly well, a little beyond the usual trick perspective, "I'm holding up the Eiffel Tower" gag shot. I'm not clear if the optical deception would have worked with digital photography.
The Chicken Dance of Cthulhu
By Jonathan Falk
“Mr. Cash to the Blackwood Arena! Mr. Cash!” The call came over my cell phone, and I rushed to the shaded aluminum bleachers in the September heat. A small Mexican man sang Roy Orbison on a stage before a handful of teased white heads and shuffling overalls. The Multatonic Oktoberfest and County Fair was in its first few days, before the ecstasies of the weekend. I passed Pinkle – the Clown, with her surging dwarf car, and someone dressed as a robot in a cowboy hat, working the crowds of children.
When I spotted the troublemaker, a tattooed man with a goatee, shaved head, heckling the cruise ship band, he took off toward the exit gate. “Nice security code, asshole,” was ejected at me as he ran into the infrared surge of the world outside.
Oh well. Only four hours of phantasmagoria to endure, I hummed to myself.
One of the advantages of being an event dick is free admission to anything in the arena. Pig’s tongue in a dream, sow crushing her piglets as she tosses restlessly. The art show had the usual crying harlequins and Southwestern whorls of rock canyons.
I finished my shift a little after five o’clock and headed to the beer tent, the sun cooked into my neck, making my thoughts discontinous and irritable. Optimator might make my sunburn worse, but I was frustrated and depressed with life, not unlike the remarkable Hans Pfaall. One company held my car title and I was on a smiling basis with the lady at the payday advance store. The smell of sheep foreheads, placid Mormons peeling Llama wool in endless fair pavilions, breathed into my nose nostrils. Chickens are dumb clucks, cocks and peacocks squawked from the whitewashed barn. Only rednecks and farm kids could be seen, working the hay-bound aisles.
Or you might call them farmer-necks, as a friend of mine once did.
When I entered the beer tent, a little self conscious of my ears, crisp from Sol, I noted the typical oom-pah band on the stage – with a hand-drawn sign reading Helmut Gregor and his Lithuanian Vandals. I did not like the way the accordion was played, with leering overtones and trills. I felt like Thomas Wolfe writing a transparently fictionalized account of his feeling of drunken unity with the world gained at a Nazi-era Oktoberfest in the 1930s.
I ordered the house draft and drank, the beer filling my head like mercury.
Every single person in the shadowy tent was Caucasian – old men in shorts, women in peasant dresses. They were all old.
As the woodchopper’s polka commenced, I had another beer, then another. Soon I was higher than Abdul Alhazred after his binge at the nameless city.
“What’s… in the beer,” I said, as two Teutonic giants sprayed wood chips hazardously through the air, wielding battle axes, the tent now full of wild music. The fall air had become curiously cold.
When I came to consciousness, feeling as if were my first day on earth, I was dancing wildly on the stage, clad in a stiff pair of lederhosen, my bare legs revealed to the crowd, who were shrieking with laughter. I was leading them in a demonic chicken dance: My hands forming monstrous “beaks,” my “tail” wagging obscenely, then clapping in a lunatic fashion. I heard a monstrous noise from beyond the horizon; Great Cthulhu, rising when the stars were right, paid homage by the sickening rite…
Posted by Jonathan at 1:46 AM
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Been re-reading the Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood... potent atmosphere of the silent, menacing Canadian wilderness there... Last read it many years ago... I would give him a very high ranking in literature... And then there's the superb tailoring of "The Willows," of course.
Had a dream recently where I was examining a piece of a nosecone from a crashed Mercury- style space capsule... Then in nonlinear sequencing, I was on the capsule, presumably before the crash, at the edge of outer space, brief sighting of the stars above... A guy who looked somewhat like Walter Cronkite was fiddling with some 1960s-era transistorized equipment on the craft. Paradoxically, the capsule was small on the outside, but looked like a big Gothic room inside... Then we descended toward earth.
And a collage from 2006, and a shot of Vancouver BC from Vanier Park I took back in May... What a pleasant city.
Posted by Jonathan at 9:22 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Two more poems, inspired by, or written during my Norwegian trip of five years ago:
Memories of Father, Lyngor Island, Norway
By Jonathan Falk
“You beast,” Dad would whisper to us, my friend and I uttered as we tripped over the drops and steps of the island, the interior march of cows and rustling branches. The taxi boat brought us out there, knocking through the surf in a profound trip, transporting the two guys. The world-worn restaurant owner, working on a cigarette and cell phone, had taken my order and ordered our taxi. Fish soup appeared, brimming with mussels and crawdads.
We thought of my father when we saw a middle-aged man bare-legged wandering in a robe on this skerry. The bathrobe was like the ones Dad wore, when he would survey the woods and walls in Oregon. Passed out in a brownout of wine, once in a while Dad would wake up, far from Greenland and the Faroes. Sometimes he cried: "Judge Crater!" Then he fell back into a shaded slumber. The bridges and fire stations and platforms of Lyngor wrinkled like swan legs, staves of houses erect on rock lawns, boats ran by our sunny stake of allemansretten.
Written in Arendal, Norway
by Jonathan Falk
I am about to find the ferry to Merdo.
I may never come here again.
I am not
boats moan in the waves, the other side of the channel
weighty except for the pediments seated right on cliff faces
spire tolls to my eardrums
punctured by the Fata Morgana
Are you an Englishman?
Woman of eyes
flashes upon mine,
but I am alone
in birches of granite
Posted by Jonathan at 1:36 AM
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Photo of my great, great, great- grandparents' parsonage in Waldau, East Prussia (now near or in Legnica, Poland) -- and apparently they, or other relatives, or both, are in the picture as well. The photograph was most likely taken in the 1860s or 70s.
I've read some dismissals of the significance of genealogy -- the further back in time one goes, the more ancestors one has. So, it doesn't mean much to be related to Charlemagne or Genghis Khan.
But I think it would be an error to say one's ancestry has no relevance whatsoever -- one can sometimes trace cultural and behavioral traits back decades or centuries, on top of the stew of the genetic code. Genealogy also can be a good way to learn about history.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:04 AM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
A collage which Roman Scott and I made over a period of two years or so in the late 1970s (or at least part of it, given the limits of this photo) -- i.e., when we were around twelve, thirteen years old. Our title for it was "The Giant Collage" -- guess you might also call it the Decline of the West or something else. We would pass it back and forth over the months, working on it, and taping sections together. The photos and text were cut out of Soviet Lifes, National Geographics, newspapers, Wild West magazines, newsmagazines, Famous Monsters, and now unidentifiable sources. There were multimedia elements as well, acrylic paint, pen and ink, and so on. Soviet Life was a propaganda magazine distributed here by the USSR, displaying the glories of Soviet communism.
Not so long ago finished Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, (the rereleased unabridged version) one of the longer books I've read in a while. To paraphrase what Dr. Johnson wrote about Paradise Lost, no one ever wished for it to be longer. My opinion of Stranger is divided; Heinlein isn't a subtle writer, and the pantheism is a simplistic element. However, there is much that lingers with one, not least including the Man from Mars and his development. Heinlein assumes that 1950s or early 60s- era martini culture would be around far into the future; The behavior of the characters is often straight out of the Cocktail Nation. This in itself seems short-sighted -- culture always changes, even if in unpredictable ways. Also, he might have set the novel on a planet further away than Mars, so that the premise would hold up in light of new knowledge about our neighbor.
For science fiction writers from roughly the same era, I still would prefer, say, Dick or Sheckley.
Also for sierra hotel india echo sierra sierra echo sierra and giggles, have been re-reading Walden.
Posted by Jonathan at 9:09 PM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
A record of a talk/reading with poet Gary Snyder and others from a few years ago -- it was a practice in recording observations. The event was held on the anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens.
GARY SNYDER talk notes
by Jonathan Falk
May 18, 2005 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, Oregon
About to watch G Snyder speak & Jerry Franklin. big art deco cups in ceiling, roar of conversing crowd of 2,000 or so about me in murkiness
stripper at Union Jack's in MAX light rail here, dark hair & pierced, s & m
stain glass & regal old trim ilahee manager white hair speaking first
says Gary, Jerry, just spent one day in blast zone
Kathleen Moore -- environmental prof.
Fred Swanson -- he invited Gary to come up to St. Helens, 57 years after going there
Kathleen & Fred blonde - grey hair balding
she says we need poets & scientists -- Gary & Jerry
He's talking about long term science project
both speakers grew up in NW both draw inspiration from NW
Snyder -- 18 books
Danger on Peaks
born in SF
1960s in Japan
lives w/ wife Carole
she says integrity
nobody's that good -- he say (referring to applause)
reading from Danger on Peaks
pointed goatee brush of hair
his wife was mtn. climber
measured, deep voice
3 mtns. -- back between prose & poetry
describes climb wi old timer
just like Issa
he's holding book
small behind podium
St. Helens before
slow, whispering, measured voice
8 - 13 - 1945 -- 1st climb of Mt. St. Helens
growl -- onomatopoeia voice
compares to Hiroshima ?
very long sentence
he went back in 2000
trees like toothpicks
premature clapping (from audience)
He says, am I allowed to write about this
rude to write about nature
talks about outer space
rocks in Antarctica -- scientist told him
unclear WHEN poem end
former wife making web sites
castor & pollux rise
almost like singing
coyote asking turds for advice
expressive hand spread open
commercial signs by interstate
warm springs 1954
personal mixed w/cosmic
elegy for his sister poem
struck by a car -- directly
Robinson Jeffers ref.
poem about two people holding hands, on 9/11 jumping
he's honored to speak about commemoration
will be many more
Jerry Franklin is being introduced
Old growth forest
tie, balding, glasses
from Camas -- he says
we have enough facts
not a catastrophe to him -- Mt. St. Helens
slightly nasal, forced voice
A kid in a candy store for scientists
moonscape-predictions were wrong
life came back very fast -- 10 days later, upon landing in helicopter the colonisation came from inside the blast zone, not outside
he says scientists can't predict things, should be humble
Franklin & Snyder will speak
Snyder comes back out
Just got ecology book in his hands
Snyder notes -- how do know when to do nothing
Snyder -- brown shoes,
jeans, hands folded
Snyder points out that Weyerhauser trees grow fast.
Snyder criticizes giving St. Helens human qualities
after Franklin asked
him about human responses
(questions from audience)
Snyder cupped hands, couldn't hear
Snyder complains about media coverage
forest fires = forest destroyed, but not which kind
Has Gary got inspiration w/ tree plantations -- NOT YET, he answered
Gary looking out to audience, eyes covered
What was amazing on this visit -- 800 foot high hummocks, Gary says
so much green, mellow voice
vision for next 200 years (question from audience member) CHANGE
keeping democratic constitution -- Gary says
nature will follow up
Jeffers -- human explosion -- not cosmic bliss
back home --
last things --
woman asked him about global warming -- she didn't believe apparently
he said he'd talk w/her about other things first
drinking glass of wine
THEN global warming discussion
he bowed as at Reed grad. 1993 or whenever, hands folded,
they gave him & Franklin Pendleton blankets, they walked offstage
said he'd like to chat w/Bush that style!
Night before I had dream I was working for harsh employers w/ R. in house in forest moving stuff
missed Snyder due to working.
Then the earth turned upside down, and I was walking slowly, my feet stuck on the ground above me, sky below my head
Posted by Jonathan at 1:10 AM
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Recently completed Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, translated by Ivan Morris: Tremendous stuff, the interlacing of creepy sex, obsessions, Rinzai Zen, architecture, in WWII and postwar occupied Japan... First thing by Mishima I've read, I think, since taking two courses in Japanese Literature from the late Professor Wolfe at UO, many moons past. I remember him discussing the film Mishima made of the short story "Patriotism."
Another poem of mine, written in the early part of this century.
By Jonathan Falk
Window decal: A boy pisses on a Ford logo, his eyes arched at the onlooker. In other words, piss on Ford, and Ford pisses on Chevrolet.
A volunteer sunflower with shoulders and shawls like a misfit, in the light teeming beyond the silhouette hills.
When mankind enters the doors, they are drawn to the nearest cart. If they find plastic bags, napkins, or other scatterings in a cart, they fish with their hands and flip the refuse into another cart.
Humble yellow jackets are imminent and peripheral in the el Nino of fuzzy autumn shade.
Crows pace through landscaped groves, earth slanting as they ratchet between unseen foliage.
Cars jump when they’re parked, but it’s the ones which aren’t seen which shine as they breeze by my legs, grazing my blind spot.
The maiden whose body is like an ear of corn, a spirit of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, taurine, and sucralose, flour and sugar squared and packed like maple bricks.
“Horn not working, watch for finger.”
Posted by Jonathan at 1:58 AM
Sunday, October 12, 2008
An article about the death of Lafcadio Hearn, the great interpreter of Japan (and New Orleans, Martinique, and other places) from 1904 -- apparently from the defunct Oregon Journal... The tribute is by the Japanese author and poet, Yone Noguchi. The cutting was yellowed and fragrant inside one of his books, where it no doubt had lain for around a century when I bought it. In those days, journalists were a little freer to overtly express their opinions -- also worth noting is the spelling "thru." Click to enlarge.
Here you may also catch up on the latest treaty issues from the Russo-Japanese war; along with some other material.
Posted by Jonathan at 8:47 PM
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The rest of Oddities 3 from 1982, with some more dithyrambic contributions by various people. All of the contributors in this issue were high schoolers at the time (except for Crumb!) ... The back cover is great: an illustration of H.P. Lovecraft's and Hazel Heald's "The Horror in the Museum" by Roman Scott.
Today, or rather yesterday by now, marks the fourth year in a row (and I went once some years before that as well) that I've been to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Ore. Nuggets and news from S.T. Joshi, readings by Richard A. Lupoff and others, and some good films as usual, including an adaptation of The Outsider that was appropriately moody. Unfortunately I missed the showing of Fear of the Unknown, a new documentary about HPL. I also witnessed the wedding of Robert M. Price's daughter Victoria with Mars... Robert performed the ceremony, walking out in a sort of Esoteric Order of Dagon headdress thing... You don't see that every day. And when he pronounces something like "Yaddith," you know he means it. Clouds floated above the street, a few feeble raindrops.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:25 AM
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Here is about half of the contents of Oddities 3, which included a fascination with morbid malformation, decay, and arcane nostalgia. Also included is a letter from R. Crumb himself... Click to enlarge.
Walking down Hawthorne Boulevard today, the dying fall sun over the manholes, random moments of the past poison and enrich the future, the now an evermoving point, sartor resartus tattoo doll lemming soup cilantro fruitfly gonad Chinese automaton drained a million lice
Posted by Jonathan at 2:55 AM
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I recently finished a translation (by Douglas Parmee) of Bel- Ami by Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893), kind of a departure from what I've been reading lately, since it is a continental work. This introduces me to de Maupassant as a novelist; My previous knowledge of him came from reading a bunch of his short stories when I was quite young.
I anticipated reading some far- out Symbolist novel along the lines of Huysmans; but Bel-Ami is naturalistic, though not without some elements of horror, and a phantasmagorical atmosphere. Among the things that linger with me are the characters of the poet Norbert de Varenne (modeled on Baudelaire, I would imagine), and the agonizing death of Forestier... Much else besides. Timely as hell considering that France's colonial misadventures in Algeria and Morocco inform the plot of the novel, as well.
De Maupassant died of syphilis at the age of 43...
Two photos of myself: Chirisan, South Korea, 1995, and Vancouver, British Columbia, 2008... before different styles of totems.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:35 AM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The front cover of Oddities 3 (1982), a magazine published by Roman Scott through the 1980s (and I played a certain role in the zine as well). This cover is Roman's work. As Burroughs wrote, time is everything -- I wouldn't be remotely capable of producing now what I created back then. The surrealism and horror had an insurrectionary quality to it... I may put up some of the other pages from this issue after a while.
Of late I have been listening to a cd of Schubert's cycle Schwanengesang, and other lieder (I understand Schwanengesang was a posthumous title, someone else came up with), classic recordings by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore... The version of Heine's Die Stadt, with Moore's piano sort of replicating a feel of flowing water, to my mind, is really melancholy... The Erlkonig quite potent as well... I had a 45 record of this as a kid, a reading of a translation of Goethe's poem, which creeped me out... Of course Standchen a classic warhorse. Also been playing Bruckner's Mass in F-minor.
Had a dream of attending an exhibit on the Simpsons, with a friend, who vandalized one of the displays. Some attendants in scary animal costumes, sort of rabbit men, thin and tall, appeared, doing a sort of menacing pantomime. Some sort of archetype, such as the costumed thing who appears toward the end of Kubrick's The Shining.
Posted by Jonathan at 10:38 PM
Sunday, September 7, 2008
written after seeing a lunar eclipse, February 2008
By Jonathan Falk
Train frame sudden horizon gloam clucking – engine sighs in the setting riverbank dusk.
The bum above caboose’s slice who coughed and threw a charm of dice,
Intimation of wine vapors in a jug on gravel.
The boxcars become the moon, an empty field that wasn’t empty at all, dry reeds over an eclipse, terminator’s sulfur, Hyades & the crests of Lhasa projected on the craters
Posted by Jonathan at 10:40 PM
Monday, September 1, 2008
The front and back covers from a book I read at the age of fourteen, fifteen or so, (more than once) -- the bloom high way by Asa Elliot. The book covers the odyssey of Ethen Bloom, a Jewish guy from Long Island, through the 1960s, with detailed descriptions of smoking pot and using other drugs, sex, watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, dropping out of college because his head may not be into Harry Haller at that particular time, meeting real people such as Timothy Leary, evading the draft, and so on. The book was published in 1972. I discovered the book among a bunch of books in boxes my father had. He bought the collection from a guy who was going to start a used bookstore, but who did not do so. The novel (which I would gather is heavily autobiographical) left some impression on me.
For madmen only.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:37 AM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Here are two journals from two trips, each a fortnight, taken a while back. The journeys occured in dissimilar places, and they were taken for different reasons. I typed them up (with only light editing) from handwritten entries written in a little notebook. Always interesting to land somewhere new and find out what happens.
And a photo of the facade of the Hollywood Theatre in Portland OR during the HPL Film Festival, which I took a few years back... Appropriately atmospheric cloud background.
Two weeks in Norway and Two Weeks in Shanghai
by Jonathan Falk
June 10 2003 Oslo airport to Skien train Graffitti on a few overpasses ravines & fir trees used homey feeling of the trains like Japan very rolling rugged grueling plane flight with screaming kids
June 11 2003 midnight sun 8:00 pm looking out on curious grey light that will give way to grey twilight white nights
R. took me on walk today through downtown Skien statue of Ibsen up to ruins of Romanesque Church with deep crypt, crumbling cement being replaced large bluffs green trim vertical -- boarded houses firewalls
Went to Ibsen's boyhood farmhouse dark attic of wild duck
mystical onna no hito
walked to bronze age rock carvings, at the edge of a forest, with four-spoked wheels cut into vertical rock ship symbols topped with curling lines worn almost flat got caught in the harshest rain I've ever seen solid water, back to sun now old farm tools wooden rake, steps & double core elevated pillars rich poetic visons, narrow roads jet lag
back here with H. & R.
12 June 2003 Skien, Norway Went to collection of old farm houses in Skien today. Sod and trees on roofs widowmaker climb of stairs from central Skien seagulls. I am silent in shops, can't respond to questions.
Charming older lady shewed us house from 1815. tapestries, cast iron stoves cast iron tombstones Norwegian. slept sitting up rose room, lumber painted with roses, dark-reeking attic lice, she picked at her skin to illustrate wood buildings elevated, windowless mud-daubed reconstruction of reed and woven hazel hut rain showers & sun
Ibsen's furniture, faded velvet Empire style (Napoleon) The park is called brekkepark
Written on Lyngor Island, South Norway Surrounded by the eerie torn wail of seabirds on the skerries
thinking of Elena for some reason
last night R. & I drank gin & tonics at Moen campground near Risor until we were babbling; I saw Odin in the woods later punctuated by the cries of swans & unknown howls from the woods, as the eldritch twilight pulsed beyond the inlets, swans cutting the water with a weird sound from their wings
fish soup across the bay, rich full of seafood
solid rock coastline faces me, on a rock island where houses are cut into the rock, vertical clapboards, & plain gables
spent time in Risor yesterday, walking on the waterfront, Chinese food, omosiroi onna no hito
went on a walk to the center of the island, lichen and pine on broad slopes of rock sat by aquarium while R. painted watercolors.
man in wheelchair called R. over, then told him it smells like mackarel
saw old man in robe on path on this carless island, inhabited once by shipbuilders
In Risor, houses perched on incredible huge rocks, churches, steep narrow roads, some for bikes only very narrow scary road to get to place where we could take water taxi, R. driving the car to go home. Lovecraftian Nantucket feel on this island. barely slept a wink in the light, cold and mosquitoes
16 June 2003 Written on the Oslo-Bergen train in the drammen foothills firs rushing past, don't know what FJORDS to expect
Today went to Oslo for 1st time on train, R. seeing me off annoying morgenlandische onna no hito chirping a few seats back to a blonde Norse dude both speaking Norwegian
Yesterday R. & I went from Moen campground to ARENDAL neoclassical paint-veneered houses on steep winding streets, brick alleys giving way to views of gambrel roofs. Old 1815 radhus (townhouse) occupying a soaring amount of white space. many old houses perched on rocks of course. Stopped at incredible Romanesque ruins at Bamble, new neo Gothic church standing near turf-topped roofless nave, ancient stones jagged in the wilderness which once was. R & I talking & milling about. took ferry to Tromoy, not too remarkable, went past some steep roads to a gravel road which shewed a good view of Arendal, massed roofs & spire
The islands of Hisoy & Tromoy across the channel provide a tree & roof-studded view. We sat in an alley & exchanged anecdotes of my robe-wearing dad "You beast" he called R. in 1981 drunk & lying on the couch, waking up once in a while in Corbett. Good vista of the different neighborhoods of Arendal from above the narrow steep street, houses perched at different levels
17 June 2003 On top of Mt. Floyen, Bergen Norway Looking out onto the North Sea somewhere a low hot sun at 9:38 pm. Sharp rooftops, glacier-molded hills, many waterways, steep drop. Been walking twelve hours. Ate at a Kurdish diner, lamb, rice, fries & pita. Saw Bryggen waterfront, dense angles sagging into each other, threading crooked alleys like Nosferatu, sharp angles. Went to Bergen museum, showing plague masks, archaelogical digs showing 12th c. wooden foundations, rune sticks faded. Up funicular railway steep to here. Guy snoring like a buzzsaw in hostel. Saw Mariakirke, medieval twin towers & high tiny windows, from the 12th Century, cracked stones, cast iron graves out front. bought goods at Viking gallery from morgenlandische onna no hito, Odin & c. Hanseatic upper floors of Bryggen, peaked gables. Watched a band play marches & Beatles medley in town center, clarinets & sexy sax players in black, also young girls dancing to music. Boys in break dance competition. Kurdish music ululating while I ate there a bunch of Kurds (I think) talking loudly in Arabic or whatever. Also came across Rosenkranztarnet, and Hakonshallen, next to each other, with their massive lofty walls. H. 13th century and Ros. a collaboration, mediaeval, grey, & faced with massive stones.
The resistance Theta museum wouldn't let me in though.
Now I'm up here.
20 June 2003 Terrible day -- couldn't find lodging in Oslo & ended up staying at the train station. Tried to sleep on a bench (some others were trying the same thing) but got rousted by some security guards. Sat outside on a bench then saw two drunk young kids fighting two security guards; then a brawl ensued, finally one kid got pushed down the stairs. They handcuffed him, and he screamed in pain, while the other one circled around, yelling in Norwegian & fighting. Finally the police showed up, talked to them all, then let them go.
3:30 am -- Been up almost 24 hours, walked probably 20 miles or more
Saw Akershus Castle & Fortress crypts of kings cool & formal in a crypt behind a gate. Also after the fight heard a car crash, & several police cars shewed up close by.
People pouring by all night -- don't the Norse ever sleep? castle -- guide in period dress, huge halls, painted windows went to 6 museums!
Norwegian resistance radio clipped to dentures, Narvik, concentration camps
can't even describe what I've been through in Norway -- a lifetime in less than two weeks. Last day in Bergen saw Hanseatic museum beds with sliding doors to lock apprentices in dark corridors, varnished sloping floors from Dutch 44 explosion. ledger books, dried king cod mummies hanging
Saw Bryggen's melting angles, rain storm came in from North sea, walked out to a point, a park. Went to Fantoft Stave Church, rebuilt, tight joined wood inside, windowless wishing stone on side, shewed to me by a friendly Norwegian guide. Spoke with him some time about language usw. Starting to get quite light at 3:45 am now. Farewell to Bergen's beautiful hills! Also: Viking ship museum, was captivated by representation of man's head on Viking cart burial ships are huge, bigger than I realized, one for sailing, the other ceremonial. ceremonial wagon with animal interweave panels, textiles. Went to Folkesmuseum & lingered a long time, endless black barns, mills, houses with galleries & medieval design, smoke vents, turf roofs with grass growing, & GOL STAVE KIRKE smelling of ancient wood, black & sloping inside, the witchcraft of gables angling sharply outside -- incredible! Went to Fram ship mueum, milled around in the sturdy hold and deck, instruments etc., of the reinforced bulk of the ship. saw a folk music ensemble in bunad playing a huge triangular bass, zithers, medieval horns, singing & so on.
Ate at a clip joint Chinese restaurant walked around "downtown" back from Bygdoy on ferry
21 June 2003 Trondheim This, the furthest North I have ever been in my life is also the longest day of the year; although I can't see the sun. Can definitely feel the "Northern" air in the bird's flight against a tenuous wall of clouds cooler than Oslo. Yesterday walked to Gustav Vigeland Park in Oslo. Was looking at the huge human figure statue, against a dramatic lighted sky, when some youths who had been yelling on a hilltop, came down & one said something to me in Norsk. I said "Snakker du Engelsk?" (Do you speak English?), told him I was Russian, & he said you can't fool Norwegians. Very drunk. Then he tossed my bag, & I ran & got it to pick it up. Then he grabbed my chips & the bag broke, & he said, look at your hamburger. When I started to go, he shoved me hard, & I started to run, saying "I'm OK." They continued yelling after me, but only followed a short way. I called the police, a big blond guy & quiet guy with short hair picked me up & drove me back through the park & all through its many roads, but they'd disappeared.
Then I spent a couple hours in the seething hordes on Karl Johans Gate, watching Africans, Middle Easterners, Norwegians etc. A juggler who make risque jokes & juggled a chainsaw & flaming torches, British. A mime in a gown & wig, on a pedestal, with classical music. roma fiddlers with lined faces streetcar
Went to the Munch museum in the am on the subway. crucifixion, vampire, sun, brushstrokes
Today here (Trondheim) saw Nidaros Cathedral, with the revelation of its sculpture-decked western wall, rose window, & the aged stones of the Archbishop's house next door. Military museum with swords of Vikings, Krag rifles, Resistance Museum, Quisling & commando raids & Nazi & anti-Nazi propaganda. Widowmaker kill walk to hostel
6-22 2003 Writing this overlooking harbor in Trondheim Fjord, lots of boats & Munkholmen Island. Looks romantic & mysterious from a distance, but, up close there's not much too it -- a few old buildings & forts with small windows & loud people & families. Channel with seaweed beautiful rich fjord waters paved out to infinitude, gulls howling, ferry.
Went to Kristiansten Festning early, a defence against Swedes, then used by the Nazis as "prison & execution ground"
Munkenholm, jewel-like in the ribbons of water, Nidaros green & spiny in the struts of the town
Sunken places running in the fortress ground wings with metal doors & windows, high star-shaped defensive wall of old stone. Some old guy popped out of a building & asked me something in Norwegian today. He figured out I spoke English, & asked me "What day is it?" & "What time is it?" Went to seafaring fart museum, navigation instruments, turtle mummy, diary of a privateer, old ship models.
Saw weird Fata Morgana rainbow above St. Olav on his massive column late last night
Saw hospitalkirken from 1705 also, smelling of red paint, octagonal, old 19th C. rows of wood houses
23 June 2003 last full day in Norway.
Writing this by some stone Gothic building in E. Trondheim -- I don't know what it is -- university? Uneventful day, had trouble finding Volksmuseum & finally gave up as it got too late. Got on wrong bus, toward Heimdall in the woods. Bought a weird shamanic pipe from a Peruvian, with a horn stem & face half Indian & half hawk
Some bum asked me for crowns in English, heroin addict
Saw ruined church foundation & skeletons in library, Olavkirken
Day of things unrealized & frustrations
Munkholmen (island) in Trondheim reminds me of Bocklin's Isle of the Dead
Some Iranian guy at burger stand was friendly but complained about "Axis of Evil" as if I were responsible for that label
birds crying in vaults above Var Frue Kirke St Mary's Church big convenience chain is NARVESEN
24 June 2003
Still stuck here in Trondheim
I got a reservation for a sleeper from Bergen to Oslo, not Trondheim to Oslo, through a slip
Now I'm FUCKED
I've got to stay up all night here with no place to sleep, & may or may not make my fucking flight
crazy guy with a ponytail was yelling & gesticulating outside the station
24 June Frankfurt Germany Much less strict than Norway
don't have to watch your back
29 June Oregon Stayed out on street on Frankfurt, migrating from rioters at bars to a place I could lie down on a busy street, down to Main & orange cathedrals & swans at dawn
Thai restaurant & asking & getting answers auf Deutsch
March 11 2004 Shanghai China horrible jet lag slept all day Walked in coruscation of Bund & Pudong, neon shattering the fog & rolex watches
We ate dinner
tofu & beef & beer
March 11 2004 Walk on Huahai Rd. in Shanghai today, jet lag letting up a little. Dangerous crossing streets. Saw only one other Caucasian. Pagoda atop new girdered building. Sky crowded with cranes & gigantic gilt facades. Amazingly, I didn't get lost. Bought beef jerky & Vitamin C drink. motor scooters on streets, bikes towing cardboard in trailers, construction work with no warning signs, jackhammers & fresh-poured steps. tiny fruit stands, moulding staircases outside dingy homes grey walls of shrubberies
22 March 2004 Betrunken, W. & I ate meat & mushrooms dropped into rolling water, spicy sauce, surrounded by Chinese, back on subway, constructed street.
3-13-04 Went back to the columns & friezes of the Bund w/ W., & the Pudongho across the river, massive struts of sheer buildings. We went to Yu Yuan (outdoor market & gardens) with tight balconies or mildewed facades, traditional buildings incredibly packed crowds. Ate dumplings in wicker baskets, spicy soup. dense alleys full of shops w/ fans & wooden combs & traditional instruments. Went to Shanghai Museum, curled filigree of bronze, scroll paintings, Bodhisattvas & calligraphy
Ate at Lushun style restaurant near here, beer, dumplings fried pork
15 March. Went to Jing' an temple with W., with the temples elephant gables and softly glowing gables & eaves. Came across a ceremony with chanting monks in orange robes, shaven heads, keening amplified, soft cadence of drum beats. Smooth lines of large statues, offerings in shrines. Ate udon stew, seaweed.
Then wandered below huge neon blinking sign of cigarette smoking woman, no yielding to pedestrians. Met woman from New Orleans teaching here w/Chinese boyfriend, who led me to an internet cafe high in a building. Wandered the nite streets a bit, home in cab.
Went to mart full of Rolex/dvd/ software "salesmen"
feel a little under the weather
17 March 2004 -- Went to Sun Yat Sen's residence, down Huahai Road. Smell of ancient furniture, looked at sculpted garden filled with wind & monsoon. Accords with Communists & Nationalists. Then W. & I went to restaurant w/ Filipino bar band.
3-18-04 Went to Oriental Pearl Tower. Saw Bund backed by jagged waves of crystal skylines, teardropped in Pudong & across the river.
Took light show of Bund Tourist Tunnel, fiber optics bursting surrealistically. Walked up Nanjing to People's Square, took cab long way back. Cold wind tonight.
3-19-2004 Went to Museum of Sex Culture. Stone dildoes, pillow books, sex chairs, banana carved into a penis, foot binding, etc. Then back in taxi, through hordes of motorcycles & bicycles, leaning facades of open stands. Then W. & I went for Szechwan tofu & beef, on sizzling platter.
3-28-2004 Went to Jade Buddha temple via subway on March 22. Incense lighted in pots in courtyard at Jade Buddha
dark inside, robed sakyamuni
white gloss of jade
Posted by Jonathan at 1:40 AM
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Gurdjieff country over there in the Caucasus is certainly cooking...
August 6: the date on which Hiroshima was bombed. I once read a diary my grandfather kept ( unfortunately, the diary seems to have disappeared, probably lost during one of my father's moves). In August 1945 there was an entry stating simply "The US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, today." (Or something like that). That was it -- no reflection or commentary. There were long gaps between entries, sometimes several months or even years.
Once I met a Japanese guy, who, when I asked him where he was from, replied, "Hiroshima -- you know, A-bomb!" Point your attention to the elephant in the room right away...
Dream of watering intricate parterres at my old house...
Posted by Jonathan at 1:57 AM
Sunday, August 3, 2008
of course, the Laurence Olivier character in Marathon Man is a thinly veiled version of Dr. Josef Mengele, the death camp doctor. Read a biography of Mengele a few years ago, Mengele: The Complete Story, by Gerald L. Posner & John Ware... Strikes right at what people will do given the opportunity, the years of hiding in Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil after the war, the essence of evil... And the Boys from Brazil portrays Mengele as a sort of campy superman. Ironically, both films came out around the end of his life.
Just read The Voyage of King Euvoran by the great Clark Ashton Smith, powerful use of both coined and real, exotic words.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:02 AM