things I miss about Portland right now:
- Secret Aardvark Sauce
- oh, and really tasty city water
things I miss about Portland right now:
yes, I was introduced to this poem by Mad Men. what of it? my personality has never before felt like quite the catastrophe it does tonight. or these days, maybe is what I mean.
My heart’s aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it’s throbbing!
then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.
I love you. I love you,
but I’m turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,
and I’ll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick
with bloody blows on its head.
I embraced a cloud,
but when I soared
That’s funny! there’s blood on my chest
oh yes, I’ve been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea
Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.
The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.
It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.
-Frank O’Hara, 1957
While content and language form a certain unity in the original, like a fruit and its skin, the language of the translation envelopes its content like a royal robe with ample folds…
Unlike a work of literature, translation does not find itself in the center of the language forest but on the outside facing the wooded ridge; it calls into it without entering, aiming at that single spot where echo is able to give, in its own language, the reverberation of the work into the alien one…
A simile may help here. Just as a tangent touches a circle lightly and at but one point, with this touch rather than with the point setting the law according to which it is to continue on its straight path to infinity, a translation touches the original lightly and only at the infinitely small point of the sense, thereupon pursuing its own course according the the laws of fidelity in the freedom of linguistic flux.
-Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator,” 1923 (introduction to his translation of Baudelaire), translate by Harry Zohn, 1968
Julie says, “Tell them there are no holes for your fingers in the masks of men. Tell them how could you ever hope to love what you can’t grab onto.”
Julie turns in her makeup chair and looks up at Faye. “That’s when I love you, if I love you,” she whispers, running a finger down her white powdered cheek, reach to trace a line of white onto Faye’s own face. “Is when your face moves into expression. Try to look out from yourself, different, all the time. Tell people that you know your face is least pretty at rest.”
She keeps her fingers on Faye’s face. Faye closes her eyes against tears. When she opens them they’re shiny. Julie is still looking at her. She’s smiling a wonderful smile. Way past twenty. She takes Faye’s hand.
“You asked how poems informed me,” she says. Almost a whisper—her microphone voice. “And you asked whether, we, us, depended on the game, to even be. Baby?” lifting Faye’s face with one finger under the chin. “Remember? Remember the ocean? Our dawn ocean, that we loved? We loved it because it was like us, Faye. The ocean was obvious. We were looking at something obvious, the whole time.” She pinches a nipple, too softly for Faye even to feel. “Oceans are only oceans when they move,” Julie whispers. “Waves are what keep oceans from just being very big puddles. They’re just waves. And every wave in the ocean is finally going to meet what it moves toward, and break. The whole thing we looked at, the whole time you asked, was obvious. It was obvious and a poem because it was us. See things like that, Faye. Your own face, changing expression. A wave, breaking on a rock, giving up its shape in a gesture that expresses that shape. See?”
It wasn’t at the beach that Faye had asked about the future. It was in Los Angeles. And what about the anomalous wave that came out of nowhere and broke on itself.
Julie is looking at Faye. “See?”
Faye’s eyes are open. They get wide. “You don’t like my face at rest?”
-David Foster Wallace, “Little Expressionless Animals,” from Girl With Curious Hair. This passage incorporates some lines of a John Ashbery poem. Julie is a Jeopardy! contestant. Her lover, Faye, writes questions for the show.
Things I will never forget: reading this story, my first DFW experience, in The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, etc. etc. in the middle of the night on my parents’ futon during spring break junior year of college. Hearing him give That Speech at Commencement that year (after hearing a friend complain that other schools get famous speakers and we got some “obscure short story writer.”) Leaving there changed. How my friend wrote him a letter and he wrote back, a real thoughtful response. Sitting at the kitchen table before my 25th birthday party, two years ago, a month after my own Jeopardy! experience, reading Harry Potter 4, the part about the gillyweed, and getting a text from another friend that read “David Foster Wallace just hanged himself.” This person, who gave us a real reason to live, to do what we do, was dead. Never forget, for real.
my friend Kirk just gave me the best birthday present: this link, Flavorwire » Famous Rappers and Their 20th-Century Literary Counterparts
This interview with Marnie Stern is kinda amazing, but then again, almost all of them are. Here’s the one I did a couple years ago. (via perpetua)
she’s so articulate for a girl. and so good at guitar!
found a piece of scrap paper clearly scribbled (by me) at my old office with the following list:
going Twitter crazy! let’s be friends on as many internets at possible!
I’ve read a lot of chatter on the webternetz about this Pitchfork “Top 200 Songs of the ’90s List.” the whole idea of lists like this is so absurd to me. you can really only read them for the blurbs. smart people writing about music they passionately love? lay it on me. I was going to post most of the “Hyperballad” one (#11), and then I read #7, “Holland, 1945” by Neutral Milk Hotel, as fawned upon by one Mike Powell:
I was a teenager possessed by lust and here was “Holland, 1945”, a song that sounds like talent-show Nirvana hooking up with a marching band, led by a Georgia hermit wailing about Anne Frank. Terminally unmarketable— and to me, real punk.
Jeff Mangum’s lyrics… didn’t dwell on his own specific space and time, but space and time in general: How they warp, refract, and continue indefinitely. This is how he comes to love a dead girl. This is how he sings a line like “It was good to be alive.” This is how he sees the bedsheets for who used to sleep there. Science lies: In the heart, everything exists all at once. Teenagers deserve to learn this from amateurs, and to believe it as long as the world lets them.
It’s both lament and anthem. He tries to hug the world despite the world’s cruelty…
i.e., as in every paper I wrote as an undergraduate, Mangum simultaneously reinscribes and problematizes ________. (blah blah the human condition) …dude, it’s all about paradox. because isn’t true genius, or at least true insight, the ability to hold two seemingly opposite ideas in your head/heart AT THE SAME TIME?! just like Anne Frank did. and that is why we love her. end transmission.
p.s. did you know that from the ages of like, 11-14 I began every diary entry “Dear Anne”? true story.
even though it has almost nothing to do with Walt Whitman, this is everything I want a review of Song of Myself to be. (also strangely similar to the plot of The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love.)
originally posted 15 April 2002, about 2 months before I graduated from high school. as I’ve mentioned before, it was a very spiritual time for me. I was full of declarations in those days. this is one of them, edited for 2010 accuracy.
obviously, my love of Walt Whitman sprang from my love of Dead Poets Society.
A Declaration—dedicated to Uncle Walt. Baby, I’m with you in Manhattan.
Before I open my mouth I am a young, queer, white, middle-class, Midwestern female[*] of working-class, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant descent. I am someone who does well on standardized tests, smokes only socially[occasionally] and goes to church.