About Me

My photo
Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870. The "xothique" portion of the web address is a nod to Clark Ashton Smith's fictional continent of Zothique.

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.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

East of Vinland Duo

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.
White nights
sputter where
I am not
boats moan in the waves, the other side of the channel
masonic compass,
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
melatonin gravitas
in birches of granite

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.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Giant Collage

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.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gary Snyder

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
laidback voice
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)
white shirt
reading from Danger on Peaks
pointed goatee brush of hair
his wife was mtn. climber
measured, deep voice
danger, foolishness
The mountain
3 mtns. -- back between prose & poetry
walked slowly
conspiratorial voice
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
hid crying
growl -- onomatopoeia voice
compares to Hiroshima ?
500 H-bombs
very long sentence
Pearly Everlasting
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
final section
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