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  • The Lindens are in Flower - On these nights in July When you must be elsewhere The bedroom still grows warm And I open the window to breathe. Outside, the lindens are in flower. When ...
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

LibraryThing

I first found LibraryThing last spring, but it's taken me this long to start a concerted effort at cataloguing my books with it. (I'm not adding books in any particular order because they're not on my shelves, etc., in any particular order.) I have no idea when I'll be finished, but I hope to add a few a day until I've caught up to what I have on my shelves (and desk and dresser and tables and floor and, yes, okay, pretty much all available surfaces). Meanwhile, Library thing also offers a couple of widgets which let people see random book covers in the sidebar or even search my library.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Zielinski Text

I've finally added the text of the poem to the Songs of Adrian Zielinski post.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Literary Dinner (Vladimir Nabokov)

A Literary Dinner audiofile (1:55).

A Literary Dinner appeared in the New Yorker on April 11, 1942.


A Literary Dinner

Come here, said my hostess, her face making room
for one of those pink introductory smiles
that link, like a valley of fruit trees in bloom,
the slopes of two names.
I want you, she murmured, to eat Dr. James.

I was hungry. The Doctor looked good. He had read
the great book of the week and had liked it, he said,
because it was powerful. So I was brought
a generous helping. His mauve-bosomed wife
kept showing me, very politely, I thought,
the tenderest bits with the point of her knife.
I ate--and in Egypt the sunsets were swell;
The Russians were doing remarkably well;
had I met a Prince Poprinsky, whom he had known
in Caparabella, or was it Mentone?
They had traveled extensively, he and his wife;
her hobby was People, his hobby was Life.
All was good and well cooked, but the tastiest part
was his nut-flavored, crisp cerebellum. The heart
resembled a shiny brown date,
and I stowed all the studs on the edge of my plate.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Overriding Self-Interest

Researchers in Zurich suspect that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may act as a sort of governor on self-interest, perhaps raising the question of whether morality itself is built-in to the brain. I wonder how long it will be until moral relativists claim a physiological basis to their beliefs. Or will creationists snap it up first as evidence of divine design?

Personally, I'm more interested in a jet-powered laptop.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Woman and Her Dead Husband (a D. H. Lawrence poem)

A Woman and Her Dead Husband audiofile (4:12).

This poem (text here) was one of Lawrence's contributions to The New Poetry; an Anthology (1917,), edited by Harriet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson, which I found in a used bookstore last week. I was damn happy to get my hands on it (my copy is the 1920 edition); The New Poetry was, and is, an important event in English poetry.

Songs of Adrian Zielinski (a Czeslaw Milosz poem)

Songs of Adrian Zielinski audiofile (9:01).

I haven't gotten around to setting my scanner back up since I moved, so, unfortunately, I can't provide the text of this poem at the moment. I will do that in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, here's an essay on Czeslaw Milosz.

Songs of Adrian Zielinski

1
The fifth spring of war is beginning.
A young girl is weeping for her lover.
Snow is melting in the Warsaw streets.

I thought my youth would last forever,
That I would always be the same.
And what remains? Fear in the early hours,
I peer at myself as at a plaque of blank, gray stone,
Looking for something I have known.

A carousel drones in the little square.
Somebody is shooting at somebody out there.
A light squall blows from the torpid river.

But what is all that to me?
I am like a child unable to tell a yellow dandelion
From a star. This isn't the wisdom
That I bargained for. What are centuries,
What is history? I hack out each day
And it's a century to me.

0 Lord, throw me a tiny plume of your pity.

2
When I go to the fields, to the stunted forest,
To any stretch of wasted land
And observe how the first spring flowers
Are pushed up by a subterranean hand,
I want to bore a tunnel to the center of the earth
So that I can see Hell.
I want to pierce, for what it's worth,
That blue lake of the sun's rays
And have a look at Heaven.

And the heart of the earth, heavy with liquid gold,
And the cold void of whirling spheres
Would be all I'd find. There are no abysses.
Without end or beginning, Nature breeds
Nothing, except this: there is life, there is death,
It's over. There are no abysses.

If only the poorest of devils, Hell's bellhop,
Showed his horns from under the primrose leaf,
If only the angel in Heaven who chops wood
By beating his little wings waved down from a cloud.

Please, understand how hard it is when man alone
Must invent a new Heaven and Hell on earth.

3
First, people and trees: very big.
Then, people and trees: not so big.
Until the whole earth, fields and houses,
People, plants, animals, birds,
Have shrunk to the size of a May leaf,
Like wet clay squeezed in the hand.

You cannot even see yourself
Or your crooked path through the world.
Even the dead cannot be found.
They lie like cramped, black ants
In the sandy, amber-colored ground,
And no eye can pick them out.

Everything is so small that a real dog
Or a real bush of wild roses
Would be as immense as the pyramids,
The city gates to a boy just come
From a distant backwoods village.

I will not find a real rose,
Real moth, real stone, round and shiny.
For me, always, there will be this earth: tiny.

4
Somewhere there are happy cities.
Somewhere there are, but not for certain.
Where, between the market and the sea,
In a spray of sea mist,
June pours wet vegetables from baskets
And ice is carried to a cafk terrace
Sprinkled with sunlight, and flowers
Drop onto women's hair.

The ink of newspapers new every hour,
Disputes about what is good for the republic.
The teeming cinemas smell of orange peels
And a mandolin hums long into the night.
A bird flicking the dew of song before sunrise.

Somewhere there are happy cities,
But they are of no use to me.
I look into life and death as into an empty winecup.
Glittering buildings or the route of ruins.
Let me go away in peace.
There is a whisper of night that breathes in me.

They are dragging a guy by his stupid legs,
The calves in silk socks,
The head trailing behind.
And a stain in the sand a month of rain won't wash away.
Children with toy automatic pistols
Take a look, resume their play.

To see this or to enter an almond orchard
Or to stand with guitar at a sculpted gate.
Let me go away in peace.
This is not the same; possibly, it is the same.

5
The round ass of a girl passing by
Is a planet carved by sunlight's hand
For poor astronomers who watch the sky
As they sit with their bottle on the sand.

When they glimpse how the deep blue spreads
Across the sky, they are terrified.
Under that vastness, they hang their heads,
To them, the whole thing feels too wide.

They see the ass as it sways away:
Venus in their telescopes, warm as blood.
And spring's green shimmers like waves that play
Under bright Venus after the flood.

6
There is a whisper of night that breathes in me,
Little voices like cats lapping at my
And my profound subjugated storms
Erupt in a song of gratitude and praise.

What a wise man you are, Adrian.
You could be a Chinese poet,
You needn't care what century you're in.
You look at a flower
And smile at what you see.

How wise you are, how undeluded
By folly of history or passions of the race.
You walk serenely, the light, occluded,
Eternal, softening your face.

Peace to the house of the sage.
Peace to his prudent wonder.
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

O black treason, black treason—
Thunder.


Czeslaw Milosz, Warsaw, 1943-1944

Friday, October 06, 2006

Quantum Computing

A research team at The Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen have moved a little closer to making quantum computers feasible.

"It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium," Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday.

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Languages, Etc.

Here's a jpeg of a chart showing the relationships of the world's languages. If I recall correctly, a character in Neal Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon speaks Manx. Languages (and codes/programming) are recurring themes in Stephenson's fiction. In Snowcrash, Hiro Protagonist is confronted with a (Sumerian) meme which acts like a virus.

(I do like the idea of spoken languages being programming languages used for our wetware (brain/ nervous system).

In 1999, Stephenson wrote an online essay about proprietary operating systems, In the Beginning was the Command Line. It's a bit old now, but still worth reading. In the Beginning was updated in 2004 by Garrett Birkel (with Stephenson's permission).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Back to blogging soon

My hard drive lives. It even survived the move I made this weekend. I'll be blogging again more regularly very soon.

And when I shake the bug that sideswiped me as it wreaked havoc amongst the lesser mortals of the Island, I'll do an audiopost of D. H. Lawrence's A Woman and Her Dead Husband.