Thursday, September 30, 2010

Immortal Weapons

That’s Rachel Weisz as Evelyn, “Evy,” from Stephen Sommers’s 1999 blockbuster, “The Mummy.”

It’s a film about two magical books and a beautiful, resourceful librarian who pursues the books, rescuing them from obscurity, lost literally in the ancient sands of time, and rescuing them from ancient monsters.

Hmmm. A beautiful, resourceful librarian who loves books and fights monsters.

The movie is not set here in the real, modern world—of course!—it’s set in a kind of fantasy version of 1926.

The movie is not set here in the real, Western world—of course!—it’s set in a kind of fantasy version of early 20th century Egypt. Egypt. Even as far back as in Plato’s time people regarded civilization in Egypt as the most ancient civilization on earth.

They’ve had books, or things like books, and libraries, or places like libraries, for a very long time in Egypt.



Ever since publishers started returning original art, it’s been a useful source of income to many artists, although all but the most celebrated find that it’s not uniformly easy to sell. There are the “money” pages, which feature good action shots of popular characters, and there are the “meat and potatoes” pages where nothing much happens visually and nobody’s in costume.

Dave Gibbons

As comic books replaced real books—preparatory to TV replacing everything, including real life—this business of “money” pages versus “meat and potatoes” pages always has been a strange issue. [coughs]

The pretense of comics and now graphic novels is that images are powerful and images are entertaining and the whole genre is something like a magical combination of art and commerce.

The reality of comics and now graphic novels is that images are just assembly-line product.

Instead of glorifying images comics trivialize images.

That’s why as enthusiastic and passionate as the tiny, fringe demographic of comic fans may be, everybody behind-the-scenes in the comic industry is at the equal-but-opposite pole of being jaded, cynical and eternally exhausted.

Images become not things you look at and study and fall in love with, but things you flip through to get to the next thing, whatever the fuck the next thing may be—another image, another scene, another story, whatever.



In the film “The Mummy” when the monster demonstrates that its supernatural powers can manipulate even the Sun and Moon, Evy’s friend Rick considers giving up the fight, and points out, “You heard the man. No mortal weapons can kill this guy.”

Evy, ever resourceful, shrugs and says, “Then we are just going to have to find some immortal ones.”

Immortal weapons.

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“The Mummy” at Wikipedia


Fluorescent Lights On A Book Of Shadows

Whatever Pretend Means

The Margins Of Water In The Wild


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pictures Of Lily As A Zombie

Then one day things weren’t quite so fine
I fell in love with Lily
I asked my dad where Lily I could find
He said, “Son, now don't be silly
She's been dead since 1929”

Oh how I cried that night

Pictures of Lily, Pete Townshend

Over the last few years the two video stores near my old house—the corporate store and the locally owned store—went out of business and I’ve done a lot of posts about them going away.

All the links are at “Organic Chemistry Is So Hard!”

The corporately owned chain totally went out of business. The locally owned store closed up and some of their movies and staff were re-located to the ‘flagship’ store of the locally owned chain a few miles away on the other side of the suburb.

That flagship store is now closing. I think that is the last video store in the suburb. I think they are all gone now, the locally owned stores and the corporate stores. There might be one Blockbuster over on the borderline trying to live through bankruptcy, but I think even they have given up and closed down.

So I drove over to the last locally owned store to say goodbye to the clerks and see if they had any DVDs I might want to buy.

I’ve got all the monster snake movies I want so I didn’t buy any of those—and there are quite a few monster snake movies I don’t own. It’s a popular theme.

But I did buy a zombie movie. Now I proudly [?] have my very own copy of this:

Yep. It’s not a good movie, but it has a couple of fun parts. Mainly I bought it because I like the cover graphic so much. Too bad the cover art is completely unrelated to the content of the movie. In the movie itself there is no scantily-clad redhead kneeling on a Trioxin container.

I also like the plot, the notion that stupid kids—You Damn Punk Kids—would take Trioxin on purpose to enjoy the high, and the zombie plague would start not as a result of government shenanigans but rather as a result of ill-conceived designer drugs and the quest for a higher high.

The series came about as a dispute between John Russo and George A. Romero over how to handle sequels to their 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. The two reached a settlement wherein Romero's sequels would be referred to as the Dead movies, and Russo's sequels would bear the suffix Living Dead. Thus, each man was able to do what he pleased with the series, while still having one another's work distinct and be considered canon.

“Return of the Living Dead” at Wikipedia

The zombie movie industry now is basically divided between Romero making pretty bad social commentary horror zombie films where zombies shamble around aimlessly kind of doing what they used to do when they were alive and biting people who are stupid enough to get too close to them, and everyone else making pretty bad action horror zombie films where zombies hunt around fast for brains or living flesh to eat.

Not too long ago I watched in real life as a Photorealist artist created a hand-drawn copy of a black and white photograph.

The whole process seemed to consist of two basic procedures. First the artist would lean way back from the paper and assume something that looked like a painfully bored expression and, holding the pencil high up the shaft, sweep the pencil in wide arcs again and again across a shape, slowly bringing the shade of the shape down to an appropriate value. Intermittently, then, the artist would lean way forward, almost nose-to-paper and assume something that looked like a painfully tense expression and, holding the pencil by the very tip, adjust an edge of a shape very carefully to a particular kind of hard line or a particular gradient of a soft line. Then the artist would lean back again and return to making wide sweeping marks.

At no point—to my eyes—did the artist look happy or interested or excited or engaged in the process in front of him.

I think if a person were feeling ornery they could make the case that the zombie movie industry itself is a more interesting metaphor for the modern world than are any of the particular metaphors presented in the actual movies the zombie movie industry cranks out.

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We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

The Margins Of Water In The Wild

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Careful Thoughts And Getting Lost

I once fished off of an abandoned pier
when I was canoeing in Wisconsin.
The wooden pier was gray and missing planks.
On shore the pier connected to a field
but the house on the lot had been torn down.
I caught a nice three or four pound striped bass
on a plain white streamer I tied myself.
My dad and I ate the fish for dinner
with a stringer of bluegills that he caught
from the pier by the cabin we rented.

Some people think they can see the future.
They see a United States cracked in half.
I’ll be able to sail an open boat
to what’s left of the Gulf of Mexico
and tie up there to an abandoned pier—
I believe there will be abandoned piers—
and try my luck casting for my dinner.
I’ll keep careful notes of the fish I catch,
maybe even do a watercolor
of the scene if the light and mood are right.

I’m going to eat whatever I catch.
I have no idea what will happen
to the notebook I’ll keep careful notes in
or the notebook with watercolor sheets
that I’ll do watercolor sketches in.
I’m going to eat whatever I catch
but I think the internet will be gone
even before I start venturing south.
I’ll keep notebooks even if I can’t blog.
Some people think careful thoughts don’t get lost.

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Gordon Michael Scallion’s website


Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid


Monday, September 27, 2010

A Pretty Bit Of Philosophy

This is a fancy goldfish, a veiltail.

I don’t own an aquarium right now
and if I did own an aquarium
I’d want an eccentric aquarium
about a gallon or less of water
and a veiltail can exceed six inches.

That’s too big for a small aquarium.

That’s too bad because I’ve always believed
a veiltail is the most beautiful fish
a fresh water aquarium can hold.

I like the idea of maintaining
a small ecosystem that is balanced—
a couple of plants and maybe some snails
and a gravel substrate populated
by some kind of healthy bacteria.

I once read of a submarine captain
who kept a glass bottle in his cabin
and in it there was one plant and some shrimp.

The plant gave off oxygen for the shrimp
and the microscopic life the shrimp ate.

The plant lived on shrimp waste and cabin light.

The article didn’t say exactly
how long such systems could be expected
to work, to keep their occupants alive.

I think it said such systems could sometimes
last longer than anyone would expect.

Even without the most beautiful fish
a fresh water aquarium can hold
swimming in it, a system such as this
is a pretty bit of philosophy.

I don’t own an aquarium right now.

But I’m immersed in the philosophy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Veiltail at Wikipedia



Goldfish And Sea Monsters #1 of 3

Goldfish And Sea Monsters #2 of 3

Goldfish And Sea Monsters #3 of 3

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Optimum Expressive Moment Of Time And Place

Anticipation is another prime element of creative art and essential to visualization. Some years ago I was talking with Edwin Land, a brilliant scientist and close friend. We talked about the remarkable photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, with his images of people in motion arrested at precisely the optimum expressive moment of time and place.

Land pointed out that the moment captured on film was realized through anticipation. Had Cartier-Bresson released the shutter at the “decisive moment” as revealed in his pictures, the psycho-physical lag would have resulted in capturing the moment after the ideal position in the composition.

Anticipation is one of the most perplexing capabilities of the mind: projection into future time. Impressive with a single moving object, it is overwhelming when several such objects are considered together and in relation to their environment. I believe that the mind, working at incredible speeds, is able to probe into the future as well as recall the past. Our explorations of the past support the present, and our awareness of the present will clarify the future.

Ansel Adams And Alfred Stieglitz, #1

Is this a junkyard church, this decay
around us, bricks, steel and broken glass?
Do rusted gears not turning say mass,
is their oxidation how they pray?

Thick clouds turn sunlight to shades of gray.
A photographer kneels in the grass,
hesitant to intrude, to trespass
the broken bricks and cut wires display.

Tiny computers, tiny motors,
focus the camera in the dim light.
The photographer just frames the shot.

Old factories. Old houses. Old stores.
Broken junk transfigures in our sight.
Tiny glories that won’t be forgot.

Is This A Junkyard Church

I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day

“Anticipation,” Carly Simon

“What kind of camera do you use?” Britney asked.

At the keyboard, Beethoven looked up, glared at her.

“What?” she asked, exasperated. “You said we can’t
talk about music. I just got a camera.
The cinematographer on my video
said it’s a good one. I forgot what kind it is.
What kind of camera do you take pictures with?”

Beethoven was still glaring as he picked out chords.
He let out a loud, long sigh. He struck a low chord.
He said, “I have a Panasonic point-and-shoot.
It’s a Lumix model. It has a Leica lens
that’s not interchangeable but has a zoom range
that’s equivalent to a very wide angle
and a long telephoto lens at the same time.”

Britney laughed. Her eyes were bright, watching Beethoven.

“What?!” Beethoven yelled, his hands banging out a chord.
“You asked! You asked what kind of camera I use!
Now you’re laughing! What?! My camera is funny?!”

Britney laughed again, a little louder. She smiled.
She said, “I just knew that you would have a good one.
Are you going to let me take pictures of you?”

Beethoven growled, “No! Hell no! Fuck no!”

Britney laughed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7A


Equally And As Hopelessly Lost

“Strictly Speaking She Harmonizes”

Ansel Adams And Margaret Bourke-White

Ansel Adams And Cedric Wright

Ansel Adams And Edwin Land

Ansel Adams And Alfred Stieglitz, #2

Mischievous Girls: A Cautionary Tale

In The Mind Of Everyone Seeing Paris

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“Strictly Speaking She Harmonizes”

Q: "What is Linda's contribution?"

PAUL: "Strictly speaking, she harmonizes, but of course it's more than that, because she's a shoulder to lean on, a second opinion, and a photographer of renown. More than all this, she believes in me-constantly."

“Life is just a spilled bowl of cherries” — Of all the photographs I’ve seen by rock star wife photographers, nothing really compares to this image. Not only is it visually stunning, but for many of us who were alive back then, this is the image we associate with the Beatles breaking up. This is Paul walking away from the biggest music group in history.

Life for Paul really was a spilled bowl of cherries.

He did okay for himself.

And, through thick and thin to the end, he and Linda stuck it out together. That was pretty cool.

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Equally And As Hopelessly Lost

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Equally And As Hopelessly Lost

“Men find it more difficult than women to be alone.”

from Pattie Boyd,
“What I know about men”

The Guardian biography of Pattie is:

Pattie Boyd 64,
rock star wife and photographer,
married twice, now single

Pattie Boyd’s Website


The Good Old Days—Umm, Yeah...

Less distant than Atlantis, there’s a past
where rock stars bought their wife a camera
and she would become a photographer
and have shows and collect her photographs
into books and rock stars like McCartney
would put his wife’s work on album covers.

I’ve never wanted to be a rock star.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman
who is more beautiful than Pattie Boyd.

I don’t believe it’s the rock star wife thing,
the beauty, it’s the photographer thing.

In the modern world do women aspire
to be rock star wives and photographers?

I know they still want the rock star wife thing.

In the modern world I don’t think women
want to be photographers any more.

Less distant than Atlantis, it’s beauty
that’s equally and as hopelessly lost.

But men, rock stars, writers and just plain men,
still find it difficult to be alone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Heavy Weather In The Third Kind Of Water

I didn’t see the tree fall on her car
but I saw the flash of lightning and heard
the immediate crack from the thunder
and I suspected lightning hit nearby.

When the rain stopped I walked around the block
and found the woman crying by her car.

The thick tree trunk fell across the windshield
and must have hit a so-called crumple zone
because from driver-to-passenger side
the heavy tree pinched the car almost flat.

“I didn’t even see the rain,” she said.
“I was taking a shower. Just relaxing.
When I was drying myself my phone rang.
My neighbor asked me if I had been hurt.
I didn’t know why she was asking that.
She told me to look out my front window.
I couldn’t believe it. Look at my car.
I’ve got insurance and everything but
no one can fix that, right? Look at my car.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about water.

There had been rain pouring down from the sky.
Also water spraying down from her shower.
Now there were tears streaming down from her eyes.

The woman extended a shaking hand
in front of her. She said, “Look at my car.”

But all I could see was the reflection
of a street light glinting against a tear
on her cheek, flashing, like silent lightning.

The lightning in the third kind of water
struck something that fell on me, knocked me flat.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Margins Of Water In The Wild

“Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.”

from Jonah’s Prayer, Jonah 2:8

Believe it or not, this is a watercolor painting by artist James Van Patten:

Writing in “Exactitude, Hyperrealist Art Today” John Russell Taylor describes Van Patten’s images, saying, “Almost alone of the Photorealists connected with Exactitude, his subject matter is entirely non-urban, and his preoccupation with water in the landscape is virtually unique. Whereas others may from time to time incorporate a stretch of river or a pool in an urban park into the scene painted, Van Patten concentrates entirely on the margins of water in the wild.”

I’ve talked in posts about artists like Karen Kilimnik who create ‘painterly’ images of media frames. And I’ve talked in posts about painters like Audrey Flack who create photorealist painted images of media frames.

The word ‘Exactitude’ is used to describe modern artists who take this approach to image-making to the ultimate extreme: They paint photographs. They don’t use photographs as the basis of a composition. They don’t adapt photographs. Rather they capture a composition in a photograph using what Van Patten calls “the intermediate eye of the camera” and then copy the photograph in paint. They paint the lens flares, the particular dynamic range of color and shadow, the color bias, perspective distortions of the lens and every other visible artifact of the photograph.

One or two artists who paint this way copy the image onto a support free-hand using mad drawing skills. Most project the photograph onto paper or canvas or linen and then apply paint over the projection. Linen is a popular support for these painters because an image can be projected onto the back of thin, stretched fabric while the artist works on the front without casting a shadow onto the projection.

Tomorrow UPS is supposed to deliver my two new watercolor notebooks. [Laughs] I’m looking forward to working in them and if I draw or paint anything cool I’ll scan it and do a post about it. But I have no plans to use a camera as an “intermediate eye” and I have no plans to turn myself into an ink-jet printer and re-create photographs using paint. But I am very interested in this movement [?] and I almost certainly will post more about it in the future.

And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered.

And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Jonah, 4:6-11

I am not a fan of Alan Moore but I mentioned “Watchmen” once in this blog. I admire Moore’s mad drawing skills and his mad energy—often his writing is illustrated by other artists but sometimes he illustrates his own work. He is also something of a mad magician.

I am a very big fan of the book “Seduction of the Innocent” and I’ve always been interested in the way the comics industry [ minions of the comics industry? ] and fans of comics culture have portrayed Dr. Fredric Wertham.

There has always been a strange dark side to the comics industry. Alan Moore, now, has experienced a little of that dark side and is speaking a little openly about it.

I will be writing more about this business, too.

In these last verses the great missionary lesson of the book is sharply drawn: Are the souls of men not worth as much as a vine? Like Jonah, God’s people today are often more concerned about the material benefits so freely bestowed upon us by God than about the destiny of a lost world.

Scofield commentary on Jonah 4:10, Scofield Study Bible

Friday, September 17, 2010

Notebooks (A Start)

Before I start:

Today is Friday and I usually try to do something special on Friday. I had planned on doing a long post about notebooks today but I got all emotional about something not directly related to notebooks and I kind of lost my train of thought. I’m still going to make today’s post about notebooks, but I am cutting this post short because I am so angry and—as bizarre as this sounds—filled with hate right now that I can’t write what I wanted to write and I don’t want to say something driven by my emotions-of-the-moment that I’ll regret tomorrow.

One of the few things I really hate is a very popular thing on the modern internet—it wasn’t as popular during the early years of cyberspace—and that is free-floating ridicule. In the early days of cyberspace people made fun of things and other people for specific reasons. Mostly, in the early days, things and people got made fun of because they were stupid or incompetent or thoughtless or badly made. Whatever, there would be a reason for ridicule. Nowadays people make fun of things and other people just to engage in the mindless expression of snarkiness.

And there’s a kind of arch-cynicism, the obnoxious belief that since nothing matters anyway and since nobody pays attention to what anybody says anyway why not make fun of everything?

I mentioned this kind of thing once before about a red jacket of mine. I’m not going to dwell on this now. I hate that stuff. And I hate the people who do it. Fuck them.

I’m not going to dwell on this now.

Here is a small bit of what I’d wanted to make into a long post. I will come back to this some time in the future when I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and relax a little.


I have a thing for notebooks. I like notebooks. I really like notebooks.

I’ve used a lot of notebooks in my life. Some for writing. Some for drawing. Some for painting.

I don’t like most of the notebooks you find in stationary stores. And many of the notebooks you find in art stores also seem badly thought out and badly made to me.

A notebook should open flat and remain flat when it’s in use so you can draw or paint without distortions. A notebook should have good paper because sometimes sketching or painting requires rubbing out or quite a bit of water and cheap paper will fall apart or warp badly.

I just ordered two of these:

I’m looking forward to working in these. I often “freeze up” when I use good paper. I don’t think of myself as having any real art skills and I usually work on simple inexpensive copy paper so I can just throw it away when I screw up. But I can draw a little bit and I can use watercolor a little bit and I want to get comfortable with good paper because good paper really does make the work easier and it makes the finished product look better. And the process of working on quality paper just is a more enjoyable process.

So I’m getting a couple of good notebooks.

I’m going to draw things from a lost world.

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Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid

The Occult Technology Of Lost Songs

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Looking Away From Selene And Endymion

I don’t have much to say today.

In fact today will be just a trivial personal note.


I’m not really a big fan of Greek and Roman mythology—to me it’s all very irrational and grotesquely violent—but I started out the week with a post about Selene and Endymion. That doesn’t really make me happy and I wanted to at least mention that I was unhappy with my post. Well, not unhappy with the post itself, but I just wish I had found a way to speak to the beauty of the Venus-Moon-Jupiter situation without dwelling on ancient myths that are—to me—dehumanizing and unpleasant.

Also it bugged me that I included a Poussin painting with that post.

I’ve mentioned Poussin at least once before, in my post, The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #1. I just mentioned him in passing, along with his friend Claude Lorrain. Now, although Lorrain and Poussin were friends, they created images that were subtly different and during their own lifetimes they appealed to subtly different “demographics.” I’m not going to ramble on now about my interpretation of their different audiences, but, typically, Poussin is generally judged to have been popular with the “new rich” of the era, the commercially successful people who may or may not have had the best education. Lorrain is generally judged to have been popular with the aristocracy, and, in that era, that meant the people who had a real education and were raised around art of all kind.

And it’s still kind of like that today. Poussin typically appeals to people who like to look at all the subtle references contained within the paintings and speculate about hidden meanings that may or may not be contained within the images. Lorrain typically appeals to people who simply look for beautiful images, images that are put together as extraordinary experiences in and of themselves without, so to speak, working so hard to “prove” themselves.

And Lorrain, unlike Poussin, often did little sketches that weren’t exercises to get ready for some painting, they were just little sketches that stood on their own as amazing visual statements. Like this one:

I just want to be clear where my, umm, self-identification is centered.

I’m about as far from an “aristocrat” as you can find. I have no real education. I’m kind of ugly. And I have no social skills. But I don’t like Greek and Roman myths. I interpret history, generally, as a kind of battle between Rome and Jerusalem and I stand squarely, shoulder-to-shoulder, with Jerusalem. And I never much liked Poussin. His images, to me, have always seemed like bad early attempts at graphic novels nobody really would find interesting. I’ve always loved Lorrain’s images, both his “regular” paintings—which ‘capture light’ at least as beautifully as the much later Impressionists—as well as his amazing ink sketches.

I’m glad I took a moment to sort out this stuff a little bit. It’s been bugging me. I seriously do not like Greek and Roman mythology.

I’m just saying.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Whatever Pretend Means

That’s Professor Brian O’Blivion.

Since television has replaced real life,
Professor O’Blivion will only
appear to people on television.

So when he appears on television,
he appears on a television set.

There’s a battle going on, he believes.

It’s fought in the video areana.

The professor calls it Videodrome.

But that’s pretend—whatever pretend means.

Two weeks back I drew a pretend cartoon
about a woman seeing a dead whale
killed by the dying Gulf of Mexico.

Dead whales were rumors, never photographed.

A few days back that pretend became real.

Local Gulf media ran a photo
of a fish kill that included a whale.

A work crew took away the whale’s body
and disposed of it for real in real life
in images so horrific I wish
they didn’t exist even in cartoons.

Hell, when I designed my pretend cartoon
I designed it with the dead whale off-stage
and just showed a woman looking at it.

This is pretend Max and pretend Nikki
who are guests on that same pretend talk show
along with Professor O’Blivion.

Max doesn’t believe in Videodrome.

Nikki thinks Videodrome is sexy.

Max believes Nikki is sexy and smart.

Videodrome uses what Max believes
about Nikki to assassinate him.

But that’s pretend—whatever pretend means.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Videodrome" at Wikipedia

More testing needed to determine cause of death of thousands of fish


Questions From The Gulf: Is That A Whale?

“You Watch Television To Turn Your Brain Off”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


... There are other examples of the spontaneous spread of new habits in animals and birds which provide at least circumstantial evidence for the theory of morphic resonance. The best documented of these is the behavior of bluetits, a rather small bird with a blue head, that is common throughout Britain. Fresh milk is still delivered to the door each morning in Britain. Until about the 1950s, the caps on the milk bottles were made of cardboard. In 1921 in Southampton, a strange phenomenon was observed. When people came out in the morning to get their milk bottles, they found little shreds of cardboard all around the bottom of the bottle, and the cream from the top of the bottle had disappeared. Close observation revealed that this was being done by bluetits, who sat on top of the bottle, pulled off the cardboard with their beaks, and then drank the cream. Several tragic cases were found in which bluetits were discovered drowned head first in the milk!

This incident caused considerable interest; then the event turned up somewhere else in Britain, about 50 miles away, and then somewhere about 100 miles away. Whenever the bluetit phenomenon turned up, it started spreading locally, presumably by imitation. However, bluetits are very home-loving creatures, and they don't normally travel more than four or five miles. Therefore, the dissemination of the behavior over large distances could only be accounted for in terms of an independent discovery of the habit. The bluetit habit was mapped throughout Britain until 1947, by which time it had become more or less universal. The people who did the study came to the conclusion that it must have been "invented" independently at least 50 times. Moreover, the rate of spread of the habit accelerated as time went on. In other parts of Europe where milk bottles are delivered to doorsteps, such as Scandinavia and Holland, the habit also cropped up during the 1930s and spread in a similar manner. Here is an example of a pattern of behavior which was spread in a way which seemed to speed up with time, and which might provide an example of morphic resonance.

But there is still stronger evidence for morphic resonance. Because of the German occupation of Holland, milk delivery ceased during 1939-40. Milk deliveries did not resume until 1948. Since bluetits usually live only two to three years, there probably were no bluetits alive in 1948 who had been alive when milk was last delivered. Yet when milk deliveries resumed in 1948, the opening of milk bottles by bluetits sprang up rapidly in quite separate places in Holland and spread extremely rapidly until, within a year or two, it was once again universal. The behavior spread much more rapidly and cropped up independently much more frequently the second time round than the first time. This example demonstrates the evolutionary spread of a new habit which is probably not genetic but rather depends on a kind of collective memory due to morphic resonance.

from Rupert Sheldrake’s website

Part I - Mind, Memory, and Archetype Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious

Society, Spirit & Ritual: Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious - Part II

Extended Mind, Power, & Prayer: Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious - Part III

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid

The Endless Death Of Maple White

Sparrow And Moon

Sheldrake: Orchestras To Planetary Systems

Monday, September 13, 2010

Selene Still Loves Endymion

This month and next month are interesting times for Moon watching.

Venus is about to make the transition from being an evening object to a morning object. But right now Venus is low in the west after sunset.

Jupiter is already an evening object, low in the east after sunset.

This month and next month, after the new Moon, the crescent Moon appears in the west after sunset not far from Venus. Then, slowly, night by night, by just about 12º per night—less than the distance from pinkie-to-thumb of a spread, out-stretched hand—the Moon moves closer to Jupiter.

After the very start of October, Venus will leave the evening sky and disappear as the planet passes between the Earth and the Sun.

The whole look of the evening sky will change.

Well, the “whole look” of the evening sky will change to astronomers, just about the only people who actually keep track of what the sky looks like these days.

Strangely, astrophysicists have become so focused on data gathering and interpretation that—in their own, scientific way—they have become like astrologers in that they seldom actually look at the sky in the real world, but rather maintain, at most, a mental, diagrammatic understanding of the sky derived from columns of numbers compiled by computer programs and computer-operated telescopes.

Too bad for them!

For the rest of this month and the very start of next month the sky is putting on the kind of show that inspired early man—at least, the astronomers among our ancestors, the ones who actually looked at the sky—to construct wildly wonderful narrative metaphors for the beautiful sights overhead.

The Moon starts the month near Venus and moves across the sky to Jupiter. It appears as if the Moon is traveling from one to the other. It appears as if the Moon is making the trip on purpose.

Centuries ago the scientific reality around us was rich with poetry and tales of romance.

People regarded the Moon as a beautiful woman, a goddess and the sister of the Sun.

Did the ancients once watch the Moon travel from Venus, the goddess of love, to Jupiter, ruler of the gods and—seeing in the sky the romance and passions within their human hearts—create one of the famous myths about the Moon?

Apollonius of Rhodes refers to Selene, daughter of Titan, who madly loved a mortal, the handsome hunter or shepherd—or, in the version Pausanias knew, a king—of Elis, named Endymion, from Asia Minor. In other Greek references to the myth, he was so handsome that Selene asked Zeus to grant him eternal sleep so that he would stay forever young and thus would never leave her: her asking permission of Zeus reveals itself as an Olympian transformation of an older myth: Cicero recognized that the moon goddess had acted autonomously. Alternatively, Endymion made the decision to live forever in sleep. Every night, Selene slipped down behind Mount Latmus near Miletus to visit him.

adapted from “Selene” at Wikipedia

The Moon has fallen in love with Endymion and talked over her love for the mortal with Aphrodite. Now the Moon is hurrying across the sky to beg Jupiter to allow their love to become eternal.

Pliny says that Endymion was the first human to watch and study the Moon and that’s why she fell in love with him.

This is the kind of stuff that goes on at night!

This is the kind of stuff astrologers—and astrophysicists!—don’t see because they’re inside with books and computers.

The ancients watched the Moon make this trip from Venus to Jupiter, the same trip we can watch the Moon make every night this month and next month.

The Moon is still in love with Endymion. It is as if love can be eternal.

This is the kind of stuff that goes on at night!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Religion, Politics And The Great Pumpkin

A hot air balloon advertising
a real estate company drifted
silently across the clear blue sky.

Earlier a blimp advertising
life insurance had buzzed through the sky.

Golfers are bumping balls into holes
cut into irrigated green grass.

Advertisers are bumping shoulders
in the clear blue sky above the grass.

This is the order of the new world
after the turn of the century.

As above, witches say, so below.

Gas lines are exploding with a roar
and a thunder man has never heard
or at least someone says they’re gas lines.

Linus says you can only witness
the Great Pumpkin if you discover
a sincere pumpkin patch to wait in.

As above, witches say, so below.

This is the order of the new world
after the turn of the century.

Someone’s bumping shoulders in the sky.

Something’s cutting holes into the grass.

I look at empty lots every day
and not many of them look sincere.

I don’t see any pumpkin patches
that aren’t supplied and engineered
by the dark wizards at Monsanto.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The BMW Championship at Cog Hill

“Monsanto’s Zombies”

The Great Pumpkin at Wikipedia


Fluorescent Lights On A Book Of Shadows

On Being A Sad Tennis Fan

“Perfect In His Generations”

The Application Of Beyond Understanding

There’s Not Even A Blue Sky Any More

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Application Of Beyond Understanding

In this enthralling and thought-provoking novel of Middle Eastern intrigue, Charlie, a brilliant and beautiful young actress, is lured into ‘the theatre of the real’ by an Israeli intelligence officer. Forced to play her ultimate role, she is plunged into a deceptive and delicate trap set to ensnare an elusive Palestinian terrorist.

from John le Carré’s website

In his review of the book, William Buckley wrote:

The Little Drummer Girl is about spies as Madame Bovary is about adultery or Crime and Punishment about crime.”

(He’s quoted at the book’s Wikipedia page.)

The book—and the very interesting film by George Roy Hill—really tell two stories.

There’s the story of the strange young woman, Charlie.

And there’s the story of Charlie falling in love with the Israeli spy.

Even though her affair with the Israeli spy is pivotal to the business of her involvement in espionage, the “love story” plot—which is carried over both in the book and the movie as a larger story than the espionage plot—seems so trivial and so fake compared to the espionage plot that I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that both the novel and screenplay included the “romance” element (as opposed to the straightforward honey-trap element) to make the story more commercial and provide something that, I guess, seems like a happy ending.

When I re-read the book or re-watch the film I strip away the very last bit, the actual ending, and always end it for myself at the climax of the espionage story, when Charlie is confronted by the terrorist, when he doesn’t kill her but uses what he knows will be the last few seconds of his life to simply ask her why she did what she did.

He just wanted to understand something that was inexplicable.

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this book up to now in this blog. I read it, of course, when I was in my twenties. (And I almost—damn it!—almost actually got to talk to George Roy Hill himself about the film version but we just missed being in the same place at the same time.)

The business with the terrorist trying to understand Charlie and what she did is one of my favorite moments in all of art and entertainment.

The terrorist just wanted to understand something that was beyond understanding.

There are things that bring terror even to terrorists.

The clock had all his attention. “Bring me that imposing radio beside the bed, please, Charlie. We make a little experiment. An interesting technological experiment relating to high-frequency radio.”

She whispered, “Can I put something on?” She pulled on her dress and took the bedside radio to him, a modern thing in black plastic, with a speaker like a telephone dial. Placing the clock and the radio together, Khalil switched on the radio and worked through the channels until suddenly it let out a wounded wail, up and down like an air-raid warning. Then he picked up the clock, pushed back the hinged flap of the battery chamber with his thumb, and shook out the batteries onto the floor, much as he must have done last night. The wailing stopped dead. Like a child who has performed a successful experiment, Khalil lifted his head to her and pretended to smile. She tried not to look at him, but could not help herself.

“Who do you work for, Charlie? For the Germans?”

She shook her head.

“For the Zionists?”

He took her silence for yes.

“Are you Jewish?”


“Do you believe in Israel? What are you?”

“Nothing,” she said.

“Are you Christian? Do you see them as the founders of your great religion?”

Again she shook her head.

“Is it for money? Did they bribe you? Blackmail you?”

She wanted to scream. She clenched her fists and filled her lungs, but the chaos choked her, and she sobbed instead. “It was to save life. It was to take part. To be something. I loved him”

“Did you betray my brother?”

The obstructions in her throat disappearred, to be replaced by a mortal flatness of tone. “I never knew him. I never spoke to him in my life. They showed him to me before they killed him, the rest was invented. Our love affair, my conversion—everything. I didn’t even write the letters, they did. They wrote his letter to you too. The one about me. I fell in love with the man who looked after me. That’s all there is.”

Slowly, without aggression, he reached out his left hand and touched the side of her face, apparently to make sure that she was real. Then looked at the tips of his fingers, and back at her again, somehow comparing them in his mind.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Turning Away From A Bookshelf

The Word Monster

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

On Being A Sad Tennis Fan

“Remember,” Grandma Laura repeated,
“that all the things in the modern world, now,
all the things that make today’s world modern,
existed way back, when I was your age.
Global commerce and communication,
global culture in art, architecture,
entertainment. And global politics.
All those things existed. But everything
was different. It was a different world then.”

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates!
#4: “Let Me Tell You The Good Life”

A planet of evil clowns
Where sex isn’t love or fun
Sex is a feeding frenzy
Blood and spit and other things
Smearing the clown wide-eye smiles
Strange patterns on strange tattoos
Endless new scars on old scars

“This Was A Different World”

Today’s post is odd, but it is something that is really bothering me.

I’ve been a tennis fan for a long time. Since about seventh grade, in fact. The businessmen behind tennis—at least behind American tennis—often make strange decisions. And the players that retire from playing and become “commentators” on television often say odd things.

You just get used to that kind of stuff. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be a fan of any sport when a high-profile personality connected to the sport does something unpleasant. Football has had its share of bad characters. Golf had—and has!—its oddball characters.

Sometimes I wonder how much of this is just standard operating procedures for modern sports and how much of this is a manifestation of modern culture cracking under the pressures of the modern world.

A lot of the weird things about tennis are just bizarre. A year or two ago the businessmen behind American tennis got Liza Minnelli to sing at the opening ceremony for the US Open. Liza Minnelli? What the hell was that about? A few years ago, when Anna Kournikova was fifteen years old, she started going out with some thirty-year old professional hockey player. Chris Evert on the air said that the relationship would be “good” for Kournikova because the older hockey player would keep her “grounded.” Yeah, right. Would Chris feel that way if her teenage daughter were going out with a middle-age athlete?

Over the years tennis businessmen have promoted various stars even after sales of tennis products and polls of tennis fans have demonstrated that hardcore tennis fans didn’t really like the stars—most notably the young Jennifer Capriati and both Williams sisters. Such “celebrity” players generate high TV ratings but have never generated much excitement for the game. The tennis businessmen say as much when the Wall Street Journal does features about the business of tennis, but nonetheless the tennis businessmen blindly promote whatever tennis celebrities generate TV ratings. Yech.

Anyway, here’s the latest thing along these lines that’s bugging me. And it’s happening right now.

Right now we are late in week two of the 2010 US Open tournament. This is when the competition heats up, when the matches get good, when only the serious players remain in the draw.

Here is the schedule for tomorrow evening’s center-court “feature” matches:

So the actual tournament play is postponed because first up on center court will be an exhibition match between Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova playing Mats Wilander and Pat Cash.


Martina Hingis tested positive for cocaine at the 2007 Wimbledon.

Mats Wilander tested positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open.

Path Cash has written about his drug use in his autobiography.

Anna Kournikova has never won a tournament. She’s pretty and she’s never been linked to drugs—publically—but she’s never even won a tournament.

(The Times Online: High Society, by Pat Cash, and Tennis players and recreational drug use)

What kind of sport invites a bunch of disgraced has-beens to return and be a featured part of the sport? What kind of sport pushes back the real competition for an exhibition that’s something like a circus act, old women playing against old men? What kind of sport mixes real sport with sports entertainment?

Sometimes it’s very hard being a tennis fan.

Sometimes it seems the movers-and-shakers who define tennis are desperate to turn the sport into a new version of professional wrestling.

But I can’t help wondering: Is this is a problem with tennis, or a problem with Western culture, with the planet as a whole?

I don’t know.

But I will not be tuning in to watch the “exhibition” before the real tennis Thursday evening.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #1: Grandma Laura

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #2: How It Works

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #3: The Paperclip Nazis

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #4: “Let Me Tell You The Good Life”

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Fluorescent Lights On A Book Of Shadows

I used to know of four used-book stores around here.
One’s having a going-out-of-business-sale now.
One closed a few years back. So only two remain.

The only customers I’ve seen buying used books
are old women who endlessly read romance books.
They buy those books by the handful. Like a handful.

I love books. It’s sad seeing what books have become.

Most people I know who read books now hold a book
like a totem—they’re not readers, they want the book
to make them readers. They read like an audience
watches a stage magician wave a magic wand.

Those old women read like a coven’s apprentice
watches a male witch invoke a real magic wand.

This doesn’t make me as sad as I thought it would.

When books disappear they can’t be used as totems.

What a nightmare. Witches, totems and magic wands.

I was talking to the manager of a store.

A young woman was standing at an ATM.

“Your sound system’s playing disco music,” I said.

The manager started to speak. The young woman
turned away from the ATM laughing so hard
she steadied herself with a hand against my chest.

When she caught her breath, she said, “This music’s so lame.”

The manager, frowning, stared at the young woman.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Book of Shadows at Wikipedia


Cockroaches From Space Redux

The Empire Of Kimberly’s Innocence

Poor Lucy Falling To Pieces

An Embrace On The Past

There’s A Hand Raising A Phone

Being A Writer In Drew’s World

Naming Things

Ancient Cities Of The Moon

Monday, September 06, 2010

Dreaming Of Ice Age Tribulations

The dream police

They live inside my head

The dream police

They come to me in my bed

The dream police

They’re coming to arrest me

Oh no!

Cheap Trick, Dream Police

Lately around here the temperature has been pleasantly cool. At night it has been particularly cool. Along the lake at night it has been even a little cold.

A couple nights back I was walking along the lake with a woman. I had my hands in my pockets. The woman had her left arm linked through my right arm.

“My hand’s cold,” she said.

I looked down. She had a pair of gloves. They matched her coat. She was wearing the right glove and carrying the left glove in her right hand.

“Put your glove on,” I said.

“No,” she said. “It’s fashion. You’re supposed to wear the right glove and carry the left glove.”

“Says who?” I asked.

“It’s fashion!” she yelled.

“It’s just you and me,” I said. “If you put on your other glove while we’re walking I promise I won’t report you to the fashion police.”

For a moment we walked in silence.

Then the woman put on her left glove.

For another moment we walked in silence.

“Fuck,” the woman said.

“What?” I asked.

“My hand’s warm,” she said, “but now I feel ugly.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Is "The Day After Tomorrow" Happening Today -- Ice Age Imminent?


The Law Of The Orchid And Rainbow Jungle

Lost Gloves

Faux Mischa Dreams

Friday, September 03, 2010

Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid

There is a peculiar charm in the indefinable feeling of undivided responsibility to which the single-hand cruiser becomes a willing slave as he roams over the high seas in his wee barkie, free from care, far from the harassing annoyances of the world’s artificial life, his own master, in close relations with a boon companion, his ever-ready, trusty little ship. Though friends be left behind in dusty cities, he finds a fresh and congenial substitute in the intimate acquaintance of his boat, for soon he learns to invest his floating home with a personality, causing the boat’s character to appeal to his appreciation as though being endowed with actual life. He discovers the brave, sturdy qualities his ship may possess, and approvingly recounts them over and over to himself. He finds she is not perfect, and seeks to correct her weaknesses and caprices. He handles her tenderly and with care. She becomes the apple of his eye. There are no “guests” forever asking to be put ashore, wanting to catch an impossible train or boat, nuisances who no sooner board the yacht than their selfish thoughts are concentrated upon the best method of fetching up where they came from. There are no croakers, no nervous lubbers chafing at a few hours’ calm, fretting about getting somewhere in the least possible time, as though the yacht were a tiresome prison, and the sea and its ever-changing attractions tasteless for heroes of the barroom, billiard cue, or for the dandy knights of the carpet. There are no sideshows underway, no cards down below, no boisterous skylarking under the lee of the mainsail, no store clothes to mar the ideal of amateur life at sea, nothing to interfere with the devotion to the cause and the realization of the dream fancy has perhaps depicted to the longing tar through dreary months of waiting. His ship, his world—the rest of the world, his convenience.

1887 sailing essay,
quoted in
No Croakers, No Nervous Lubbers

A few days ago I was running up a flight of stairs. At the top, my toe caught against the final step and I tripped. I fell down right in front of a beautiful blonde woman.

“Are you okay?” the woman asked.

I stood up and brushed off my pants.

“I’m okay,” I said. Then I looked at my left hand. I pointed at the outside edge of my hand, just below my pinkie. “Look,” I said. “I’m bleeding.”

“I have a band-aid,” the woman said. “Do you want a band-aid?”

I shook my head.

“I’m going to just tough it out,” I said. “I’m going to be a man about it. Although as I say that I’m thinking Captain Kirk never pointed at his hand and said, ‘Oh, look Mr. Spock, I’m bleeding.’”

The woman giggled.


Last year I posted an excerpt from a sailing article about a man and woman who sailed a seventeen-foot open boat up the coast of Labrador to visit the Torngat Mountains.

“Hardly Anyone Visits; No One Stays”

When I was growing up I spent a lot of time on small open boats. Of course, I was on Wisconsin lakes and not on the ocean, but some of my happiest memories are of spending the whole day from before Sun up to after Sun down out in the weather on an open boat.

Even if you get rained on a little in an open boat you don’t mind it all that much.

When I’ve been boating I’ve always had a cabin or a tent on shore to sail to at the end of the day.

An open boat and a tent is a little circle of civilization you can move around the world, in and out of this bigger circle of civilization or whatever the hell it is.


Consumer electronics typically
don’t do well in maritime environments.
Electric guitars, electric keyboards,
digital cameras, broadband computers—
batteries run down, circuit boards short-out.

Paper notebooks in water-proof backpacks
don’t need to be plugged in. And they don’t break.

Paper notebooks can mix text and graphics—
if a person can make text and graphics.

Paper notebooks provided all the clues
Professor Challenger pieced together
to re-discover Maple White’s lost world.

I’m not afraid of the wild world out there
where beautiful women don’t have band-aids.

I’m terrified of the future out there
where there is no Professor Challenger
to piece together clues he uncovers
in some explorer’s lost paper notebook.

Some lost worlds are never re-discovered.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Endless Death Of Maple White

A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times

The Hidden Princess Of Mount Shasta

A Bird Who Could Fly To Neptune

Freedom From The Wild

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Turning Away From A Bookshelf

                    “You like it hot, Gordy, don’t you?”

“Right now as much as you think you know,
you don’t know the half of it. Right now
you’re just one little guy with a big conspiracy theory
and no proof. And the world is full of them.
So, Zane, you take great care in what else
you choose to learn.”

from David Twohy’s, “The Arrival”

Extradition battle over Viktor Bout

Daughter of US ambassador to Thailand
plunges to death in New York

“I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center...”

— Condoleezza Rice, 2002

quoted in Conspiracy Theories And Masturbation

There’s an old man trying to put a book on a shelf
but there are already so many books on the shelf
there’s no room for the new book among the other books.

There’s a young woman playing a flute, improvising
a melody with her eyes closed, her body swaying.

There’s a rumbling sound from outside as a truck drives past.

There are six groups of people standing, softly sobbing.

There are six bodies on the floor, not moving, silent.

There are people standing, whispering on telephones.

There are people sitting, pressing keys on computers.

The old man gives up trying to squeeze a book between
books already on the shelf and turns the book sideways
and slides it horizontally on top of the books
already on the shelf wedged tightly from side to side.

The young woman improvising a flute melody
plays a staccato phrase mezzoforte piano,
an exhalation fugue with the truck noise from outside.

Unending episodes. A theme forever seeking
recapitulation. A due. Ad libitum.
Affannato. The noise outside. The improvised song.

There is an old man turning away from a bookshelf.

There is a young woman playing a song on a flute.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lidian Emerson As Vertical Lines

Imagine a world without any trees

Like A Bright Green Fantasy

Lately I’ve seen three or four utility poles
leaning at an angle instead of standing straight.

This is so unusual I had a hard time
taking the picture—I kept tipping my phone-cam
in some unconscious imperative to line up
the vertical shape of the utility pole
with the vertical side of the viewfinder frame.

Poles holding up our wires are supposed to be straight.

Can whatever makes a utility pole lean
make a utility pole fall down completely?

Leaning doesn’t look competent, strong, official.

It doesn’t look efficient and scientific.

I’m really going to miss the trees when the world
that has trees in it is taken away from us.

I miss right now the world that was taken away
where poles holding up our wires stood straight up and down.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunlight On Lidian Emerson

The Point Of A Pin

Quasi Una Petroleum Fantasia