Richy Publisher: How'd ya like to write a novel? Bob Dylan: Dude, I would love to do some blow.
What a drag. Anyone who knows me even sort of well knows...more
Richy Publisher: How'd ya like to write a novel? Bob Dylan: Dude, I would love to do some blow.
What a drag. Anyone who knows me even sort of well knows that I'm a HUGE Bob Dylan fan, so please don't think I read this in order to publicly hate it. Quite the contrary. If I'm in a terrible enough way, Dylan's one of only a handful of musicians I can listen to, and he always manages to set me back on the path to right-headed. I've even gone to see his feeble ass perform twice (he was actually standing upright and playing guitar one of the times!) because I just felt like I owed it to him for all that he has done for my imagination and my sanity over the years. He was one of the first musicians in my life who really showed me just what a songwriter is capable of achieving within his particular niche in the creative spectrum. Never have I ever tired of him in all the years, but rather his music still completely shines like new for me every time I hear it. I love him. To the death. For always, eternally. He's just my beacon, is all. His magnetic movements still capture the minutes I'm in.
Needless to say he's one of my favorite lyricists of all time, so it was quite natural for me to eventually find myself reading his "novel." Those quotation marks? There for a reason. This = not a novel. You would be more on the right track calling Like a Rolling Stone - which he would have astonishingly been writing around the same time as this mostly unreadable collection of brain matter - a novel, considering it actually has, ya know, a story and stuff. This, on the other hand, is a bunch of scrambled pictures clumsily stitched together before being thrown in the magician's hat and pulled back out as money. Majorly disappointing. I'm not even kidding, there are songs from Dylan's Christian period which mean more to me than this did. I really hate having to say all this, but I just refuse to lie to myself or you about how sloppy and shoved out this insufferable "novel" is just because Bob Dylan so happened to be the one to write it, "it" being nothing more than a nonsensical ramble scraped from the innards of Bob Dylan's cocaine-addled mind. I am being presumptuous about the cocaine thing, but I seriously can't think up a better or more likely explanation. There's this Built to Spill lyric I love which sums it up perfectly: "No one cares what you dreamt about unless you dreamt about them." Emphasis on the "no one cares." Seriously, your cerebral gunk means nothing to me unless you shape it into something which touches me. And if this book touched me, I would file charges.
Meh, I'm not going to beat myself up for hating this. Not everyone gets to be Leonard Cohen.(less)
I am giving this a lower rating than it technically deserves, due to some of my personal beliefs that are important enough to me that I am unwilling t...moreI am giving this a lower rating than it technically deserves, due to some of my personal beliefs that are important enough to me that I am unwilling to ignore them in a review where they are so entirely relevant to the book at hand. As a piece of writing, it is several synonyms for luscious and tragically chest-stabby. However, underneath the primary and quite applicable to post-3-decades-on-Earth-me themes of looking back on many a wasted year and regretting a lot of the selfish and short-sighted decisions one makes in a lifetime, there is Wilde's conclusions that faith in Jesus and rolling about in debilitating regret are the only ways out of the pickle that is taking stock of your life. I've been hearing that bull for as long as I can remember and from a plethora of sources such as random Southerners, television shows, extended relatives, teachers, etc, and the fact that even Oscar Wilde eventually drew such conclusions makes me feel more than a little bit doomed. So, Wilde's 5-star writing + a 0-grade on the final rounded up because the other students in class did an even worse job = 3 stars. I hope my bias is clear, and that anyone reading this review knows that if you don't find it niggling to be preached at, you would probably really enjoy this short, beautiful work.
Oh, one last thought: if you think this review is freakim' emo, you should read the book. It makes my grumble-mumbles look like glittery rainbow unicorns.(less)
A stew of fact and fiction, a hot mess of history, a researched yet fabricated poetry book, a travelogue, a series of gray-scale images, and also text...moreA stew of fact and fiction, a hot mess of history, a researched yet fabricated poetry book, a travelogue, a series of gray-scale images, and also text describing nonexistent images in film photography's technical jargon (and I swoon), this book hits all my right notes. If Billy the Kid had ever constructed a little girl's scrapbook journal which reflected on the huge themes of his life, but in simple language like stripping bare an entire mythology of a real human being and then drawing it in crayon exceptionally WELL, it would be this book.
It is little. I will not over-do it in the quote-factory (I am saying that to myself 10-times-fast in order to control myself), but for those of you who skim the quotes in reviews: read these. I cannot explain myself properly in an "encouraging you to actually read this book" sorta way (though that is what I intend to do) without literally showing you what you are missing. Wait, what was the question?
catching flies with my left hand bringing the fist to my ear hearing the scream grey buzz as their legs cramp their heads with no air so eyes split and release
open fingers the air and sun hit them like pollen sun flood drying them red catching flies, angry weather in my head, too
And so another heart was broken and dusted off the pant-leg of a mental mess. What a lovely depiction of the mucky wrestle that is lurve: squashing things, then staring at the blood and guts in glaring sunlight. How beautiful it is that, and but, and what have I done, and wow, and huh? You know, that type of brain-stuff.
I don't know enough about Billy the Kid to review this book.
Miss Angela D has a mouth like a bee she eats and off all your honey her teeth leave a sting on your very best thing and its best when she gets the best money
That's right-Pynchon-y, am I wrong?
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hot date with wikipedia. I would rate this a 4.8, but I always respected a teacher who had the decency to grade on an upward curve.
The Kid Tells All: Exclusive Jail Interview: (1881) (admittedly paraphrased)
I: Mr. Bonney, or may I call you Billy...
I: Mr. Bonney, do you believe in God?
I: Do you wonder what will happen after death now that you don't believe in God?
B: Well I try to avoid it. Though I suppose not. I guess they'll just put you in a box and you will stay there forever.
I: How about you, do you think you will last in people's memories?
Reading poetry books by great musicians reminds me of looking at a photographer's contact sheet, seeing all the exciting potentialities here and there...moreReading poetry books by great musicians reminds me of looking at a photographer's contact sheet, seeing all the exciting potentialities here and there before stumbling upon that image of the decisive moment all boxed in by scratchy neon sharpie. Oh, and David Berman is a fucking fantastic musician, his band, Silver Jews serving as a temporary miracle cure for any number of lost, post-college, late-20th-century suburban throwaways dropped somewhere along the fringes of the straight and narrow path of life, the ones who used to sit in the cafeteria and read during pep assemblies, the perpetual major-changers, the studied but certificate-less, the formerly "special" or so momma thought, the active but aimless, those who lost the wonder of childhood in the murk of day-to-day, but still know it when someone takes the time to point it out in a new way, and can still be warmed and rejuvenated when they see it. Starry-eyed cynics, I present to you: David Berman. He is here to help.
Berman's collection peeks into his doomed but day-dreamy world of oddball metaphor as concrete proof that life is worth taking a second and third look at, with imagery paraded through your eyes and ears as a series of gentle smacks back down to the ground, your broken back giving you a lovely view of the clouds. I would argue that his brain-matter is carved into its finest sculpture in his music (hence 4 rather than 5 stars; it's a great-to-greater comparison, you see), but there be gold in these hills all the same. I even caught the occasional word or phrase very distinctly either placed in or pulled from Berman's song lyrics. Since there's no telling exactly when he wrote each specific poem or song, it's very chicken or egg, but I am still curious which came first. I'll be sure and ask him about that in the alternate reality where we are forever necking in the back of his uncle's Chevy.
Before you read this book, I suggest you check out the Silver Jews. Heartbroken? Lose your job? Fuck up again? General melancholy? Hide your phone, curl up under a blanket with a bottle, place some fatty headphones over your ears, queue up American Water and The Natural Bridge, close your eyes real tight, and just blast that bitch. You'll be alright, I swear it.
I may come back to drop in some quotes later, but for now I must make my way to punching in at my entry-level, repetitious, creativity-devoid job that I wandered into one day, the most recent culmination of a million half-hearted decisions along my blind-folded way. Thank goodness there's always David.
Okay, just one quote because it makes me giggle-smirk:
The nurses are so beautiful, he thought. Try to remember they are covered in germs.
I'm re-reading this from bits I consumed throughout my youf as a mythology dork, but the use of Roman names rather than their Greek equivalents requir...moreI'm re-reading this from bits I consumed throughout my youf as a mythology dork, but the use of Roman names rather than their Greek equivalents requires a lot of stopping and re-referencing to figure out who the F. is being discussed. My Roman numerals suck too, since we're on the subject. Anyway, I decided to restart this in conjunction with reading Venus in Furs because that novel brought to mind the Pygmalion myth, which brings to mind The Sea Came in at Midnight, and somehow these all conglomerate in my head in a scattered mess which I hope to some day knit into a scarf for the frigid, blistery-cold Austin, Texas summer. It also reminds me of the movie Mannequin and what naturally and immediately follows, the American band Jefferson Starship (the last part being of no consequence whatsoever, just a side note). Don't judge me. Why am I spending my time this way? Because I was an 8 year undergraduate, and I am a bit lost without a project, so I decided to invent one. Don't judge me; I went out for 3 or 4 hours on Saturday. I will rehash these points in my von Sacher-Masoch review, once they make some semblance of sense. Don't juuuudge me.(less)
I finally did it. I was nervous about reading Wilmot's racy play, since his collected works of poetry about romance...moreThis review has dirty words in it.
I finally did it. I was nervous about reading Wilmot's racy play, since his collected works of poetry about romance, spirituality, political corruption, hatred, envy, death, and every other shade of existence in general kind of made him my bedraggled, secret hero. I mean, let's be honest: you find yourself thinking awful thoughts sometimes....umm, right? Shallow, animal, self-serving, petty, ugly things happen in all of our brains, and even the surface of these thoughts is something few of us care to admit. I only know one person I can be candid with about some of the ickiest parts of my brain, and even in the telling, I am learning of them myself. So much denial and suppression going on up in here. John Wilmot, though? Please. That man practically stood drunk and naked with a cock-eyed peruke on his head and raspberry juice smeared all over his chest, proudly atop a mountain overlooking a village of supposedly Puritanical sorts and gave them all what-for, projectile-vomiting his uglies on all of their heads as glittery confetti clouds of poetry. A trainwreck of a human being, sure, but more genuine than 99% of the people I interact with on any given day. He was like...the Garden of Eden of keeping it real.
So, I heard he had written one of the most scandalous, vulgar plays of all time, nothing but Sex! Sex! Dirty Sex! and I was afraid it would deflate me a bit, no pun intended. Erotica is not my thing. So I waited and waited, then finally sat down with it today after cancelling all 14 of the dates I had been asked out on by incredibly attractive, intelligent, book-smart, clever men who want to marry me and take me to see Courtney Love Presents: The Nirvana Hologram Show. It's important to make the occasional sacrifice.
Anyway, the play is a snappy read, mostly because it's in prose-poem form with a super-short page count. Also, it reads really quickly because a) Wilmot is a master of crack candy prose construction and b) it's...funny. Funny to me in the same way that my old roommate and I would get drunk and laugh up tears watching Alien Sex Files 3 on Skinemax. However, there are some other things going on here besides hella swiving. Okay, you probably first of all want some sort of plot: the King passes an edict legalizing, and practically enforcing, buggery. The men go crazy and just do each other all the time, resulting in the women starting to suffer the pains of loss of the pains of love-makin', and resorting to bestiality and sex toy addiction. I know, I know, an even surface-level Intelligent, Discerning Reader would be given pause by this outline, because it sounds like he's making a statement against homosexuality. In a word, no. I'd bet the 30 dollars in my bank account that Wilmot had his day with the menfolk. Wilmot's point, or so I've read, was to criticize Charles the 2nd for his legal embrace of Catholicism to the point of being personally motivated politicking. The King in this story just...prefers arses. He wants everyone to prefer arses. His sex life with his wife is horribly stale and Mormon first date-y, and he's so very pissed about this fact....so much so that he hates ladybits, and the ladies who own those bits.
No, by my head, and by this honoured scar. But toils of cunt are more than toils of war.
The day of marriage you may justly rue Since he will neither swive nor suffer you.
War, man. The edict essentially turns society into that drooling sex-fiend braindead orgy mass at the end of that awful Perfume movie (which was based, or so I hear, on an actually good book. Shameful as always, wouldn't you agree Brief Interviews with Hideous Men?). I won't reveal where Wilmot goes from here, since this is insanely short, and I don't want to spoil what goods there are to be had. Most of the time, you just laugh into your palm uncomfortably, admire Wilmot's ability to be brazenly awkward and forthright, and commend him for his moxy at a time when writing something like this could get you publicly flogged. Larry Flynt and John Wilmot would've been the best of friends, and would've thrown the craziest parties. I want to be the photographer at that event, please.
It didn't let me down, but it wasn't as good as my other experience with Wilmot. The whole thing was very amusing, however. Read his poetry first so you can appreciate the subtle awesomeness of what he's trying to do here. There are no puns in this paragraph, either.(less)
This four is so high it needs an adrenaline shot. I will actually review this thoroughly one day.* The Fugs and William Blake will be involved. We're...moreThis four is so high it needs an adrenaline shot. I will actually review this thoroughly one day.* The Fugs and William Blake will be involved. We're all very excited. For now:
Enough, we live!--and if a life, With large results so little rife, Though bearable, seem hardly worth This pomp of worlds, this pain of birth; Yet, Fausta, the mute turf we tread, The solemn hills around us spread, This stream which falls incessantly, The strange-scrawl'd rocks, the lonely sky, If I might lend their life a voice, Seem to bear rather than rejoice. And even could the intemperate prayer Man iterates, while these forbear, For movement, for an ampler sphere, Pierce Fate's impenetrable ear; Not milder is the general lot Because our spirits have forgot, In action's dizzying eddy whirl'd, The something that infects the world.
This is the curse of life: that not A nobler calmer train Of wiser thoughts and feelings blot Our passions from our brain;
But each day brings its petty dust Our soon-chok’d souls to fill, And we forget because we must, And not because we will.
I am a bit sad-ish tonight, and related to this collection partially as a result of that fact. Also, it's gorgeous, and Dover Beach was already one of my berrrry favorite poems of those I have read so far in my overall reading life. Peek at this if you are okay with feeling angsty and depressed, but still hopeful in a numb, distant, but still existent (albeit almost un-graspable) way when you read poetry. Which you should. Well, sometimes. Did that sentence make sen(ten)se?
From Dover Beach:
Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.
*And that day is today! I have swept the dirt from my eyelashes, and I have a pot of coffee, a tray of fancy cookies gifted by the Beamer-driving bigwigs at my job for being a total badass and making them hundreds of thousands of dollars this week, and nothing to worry about today save some laundry, a couple of holds at the library, and making more sense of this review. It's not starting out so well, the whole writing sentences thing. As you can see.
I was naively under the impression that The Fugs beautiful performance of Dover Beach was the starting place of that poem. In other words, I thought Tuli Kupferberg wrote it, and was seriously stunned the first time it boxed me in the ears. They don't even perform the whole poem, either, but rather a somewhat morphed and clipped version of the passage I quoted above. Years later, I came to find that it is actually a line from Matthew Arnold's poem which, I realized upon reading the entire thing one day while trying to find the non-existent lyrics to the song, was in one of my English textbooks in high school, and I had, in fact, read it back then, unaffected. 15 year old me should not have been reading poets like William Blake and Matthew Arnold. Shit, I was busy geeking out on Bukowski and singing the praises of similarly terse authors like Hemingway. I guess I stuck with minimalism back then because I hadn't even scratched the surface of what trampled, deformed, awkwardly pretty flowers we human beings really are. I thought it was all so fucking straightforward. Nope. Add in some life experiences and a lot more reading building up my preparation, and now you have an adult woman who actually prefers syrupy decadence in my poetry. Go at it like a dandy, baby! Dress in frilly things and poof and powder your hair, then sit in a candlelit castle tower and pontificate in calligraphy for 60 pages over the tragic melancholia and failings of the human spirit metaphorically encompassed in the dead fly on your windowsill. I'm listening.
While my True Soul has started feeling more and more unhinged, confused, slippery, and elusive as I have gotten older, I at least seek shelter in the fact that my brain has gotten a little bigger and, as a courtesy, dislodged itself a bit from my ass. I can appreciate the roaring depths of what Arnold has achieved in this collection; how rather than skinning the human specimen and showing you its skeleton, he takes a microscope to all the various parts, reveling in the breathtaking patterns found in a cluster of cancer cells. Arnold leads you in a dance around the conflicting states of living, our biology and our minds confused, our hopes consistently shattered against the brick wall of reality. He's painful in that important, compassionate way, rather than the often flat, soulless, black and white fashion of, say, a Palahniuk. I found a similar thing to be true with Songs of Innocence and Experience, which Local Favorite Esteban was kindly enough to gift to me at exactly the right time. (Oddly enough, The Fugs also performed the poem Ah! Sunflower on one of their albums, so that's one more misunderstanding clarified for me.) I read them back to back and kept coming to the same place: we start out so fresh and optimistic at the base of the mountain, but our bodies are run ragged from the climb, and the peak still looks so far away every time we dare to glance up. It's a wonderful thing that we keep climbing, though, is it not?
This is exactly the sort of thing that modern me needs to be reading. If your feelings about life and love and the fucking mess of it all are similar, I suggest Arnold and Blake. I would have definitely given 5 stars to both collections of poetry if I hadn't simultaneously been reading a lot of Wallace, a man who appears to own the skeleton key to this territory of the soul, at least for the time being. He's a bit hard to step to, but Blake and Arnold are phenomenally intuitive interior authors as well. This medicine tastes a bit funny, but it's going to make you feel better, so just choke it down already. (less)
I am not looking forward to this. Reviewing has become a compulsion of sorts, and this time it won't be fun. Let me soften the blow for myself with th...moreI am not looking forward to this. Reviewing has become a compulsion of sorts, and this time it won't be fun. Let me soften the blow for myself with this preface: Patti. Oh, Patti. You are an inspirational, resplendent banshee of a human being, a punchy, lithe little poet, a galvanizing artist, and a generally kick-ass b*tch. For this reason, it is with knuckles in teeth that I make this statement: I thought your book was kinda trite. I didn't want to, really. I hope this isn't a deal-breaker, as I still totally want to be your Gloria, K-R-I-S-T-I.
This book reminded me of those facebook posts that my mother is always making fun of, as they are one of her more prominent pet-peeves:
"Vegan biscuits and gravy for breakfast, yummy!" "The BF just bought me some new UGGS. Supes cute!" "Cuddling up with the kittie and Buffy reruns tonight. Blessed."
You know the ones. Well, this book is a lot of that sort of thing. If your whole life has just been a long wait for excruciating details about Patti's average idle day, please let me assuage you: she likes mint tea, Jean Cocteau films, and walks in the forest; she has a newspaper clipping of Fernando Pessoa on her wall, and she never wears socks; no showers for Patti, it's baths all the way, baby. That is how most of this book reads: tedious, numbing, and forgettable.
Did I mention it's kinda pretentious, too? The metaphors and imagery presented mostly feel either superfluous and tired or ham-handed bordering on completely nonsensical. Some of the dream-world stuff is lovely, though, but I should admit right here and now that I am a sucker for that sort of thing. I loved drifting off into the end of the world parts of Hardboiled Wonderland and the sci-fi realm constructed in The Blind Assassin. Certain things just make lucid the memories of fantasias built by a little girl who would wander around in golden wheat fields searching for Pepe Le Pew's tail, sat in a corner of the living room for hours crafting elaborate friendships and lively conversations between her talking hands, and who could never seem to watch The Neverending Story enough times. I like remembering that little girl, because she tells me to lighten up. She lets me know it's okay. She reminds me that it is important to dream big dreams sometimes. The best parts of Woolgathering summoned that child, albeit in a flickering, muffled, smeary way lacking any sort of resounding echo. Too bad.
I should probably give this thing 2 stars for "it was okay" considering that's exactly how I feel, but instead I am going to give it 3 stars and simply express my opinion in words: it was okay. Why the 3 stars, then? It wasn't 2-star torture, and sprinkled bits of the prose shook away some of the soot collected over my long-lost childhood wonder. Besides, if anyone has earned the rights to a little pretension, it's Patti fucking Smith.(less)
I've been on a bit of a long-awaited poetry kick lately, but this one was just not satisfying enough in the end to leave me wanting more. The whole ex...moreI've been on a bit of a long-awaited poetry kick lately, but this one was just not satisfying enough in the end to leave me wanting more. The whole experience felt a bit detached, failing to arouse more than just a teensy amount of feeling in me. Should I give her another chance to stimulate me? Will it always be just so-so, or can it get pretty deep from time to time? Our first time together just left me feeling so blasé.
The quote below made me giggle, because I have an often infantile sense of humor (not that you noticed or anything), and am always subconsciously on the lookout for sexual innuendo in poetry about love, whether or not it was intentionally-placed. After all, love and lust are so easily confused...
I, that have bared me to your quiver's fire, Lifted my face into its puny rain, Do wreathe you Impotent to Evoke Desire As you are Powerless to Elicit Pain! (Now will the god, for blasphemy so brave, Punish me, surely, with the shaft I crave!)
I have spent a lot of time converting the unknowing to the Marc Bolan Way. What started as a random purchase of Electric Warrior in high school led to...moreI have spent a lot of time converting the unknowing to the Marc Bolan Way. What started as a random purchase of Electric Warrior in high school led to over a decade of borderline-obsessive T. Rex (the glamorous star) and Tyrannosaurus Rex (the gentle hippie) sweet, blissful love. I meet a lot of people who hear his name and immediately say something like "That 'get it on bang a gong' guy? Dude, that song sucks." I'll grant you that is my least favorite song the man ever composed, but have you ever heard that album all the way through? Bloody good is what it is. Cosmic Dancer? Yeah, come off it with the whole 'not appreciating that gorgeous song' bullshit. Anyway, over the years, I have become known as the chick who will slap a lovingly constructed compilation in your hand the very next day if you try to disagree with me on a musician. Now that I have the magic of review-writing at my disposal, I will bully you here. Marc Bolan! Yes!
One thing a lot of people don’t know about Bolan is that before he was the Glamatron 3000, he was actually a phenomenal folk musician, breaking ground in the genre by experimenting with combinations of conflicting myths, antiquated vocabulary, dream-fueled imagery, reverence for the earth, magic, the oral tradition of storytelling, and passion, passion, passion with violence and existential angstiness to make his own strange lyrical brew. His albums from the Bolan 1.0 days are incredible, with A Beard of Stars and Unicorn being particular stand-outs. I bought them both as LPs, and these are a-two of my favorite things. During this, his pre-glam era, Bolan also worked on his poetry, publishing this book, an illustration of the little fairy-man at work, a child dropped into the wrong century by a drunken, negligent stork. Would you like a taste?
I crave a slave A carrion man All rigid like a tearful elm I crave for me my rhyming man All horsey and Voltaire With a river in his hair And a forelock bright as brass In the dancing steep emotion of his glance A travelled Duke of skyveiled sickness With the horn of Ishmael graveled in his plotting hand
The poems are magniloquent and imagery-heavy, just as I have come to expect from Bolan. While I must admit I prefer his words set to his voice, the collection itself would make for one hell of a children’s picture book (though admittedly inappropriate for children), as he invokes his magical land by laying it on thick with the metaphorical descriptors. Would some gifted illustrator please draw this book for me in pen-and-ink and watercolor washes? I will pay you many moneys.
After the publication of The Warlock of Love, when Bolan decided fame for the sake of fame was his aim, he turned into what would happen if you ran a sensitized electric guitar chord throughout a medieval fair, straight up all those peasant skirts, looped around the maypole, down the cleavage of those incredibly large-breasted women's corsets, sheathed in the excesses of homemade armor, braided in the obscene amounts of head, pit, leg, and elaborately-sculpted facial hair, and then you just fucking whammy-barred it. He was a dancing, singing contradiction since glam-fashion and the pursuit of musical fame are (in theory) the anti-hippie folk rocker lifestyle and aesthetic choices. Somehow he managed this combination with grace, forging his own brand of eccentrically-humpable-drag-fashioned-big-haired-electric-eel-hippie-mythologist. I have love-type-feelings for this very different but equally hypnotizing Bolan, as well. Side note: He was also quite handsome in his elvish way, though my tastes in men's appearances tend to be erratic to an extent bordering on questionable, and almost every single dude I've ever cared for has had one striking flaw which initially snared me by its quirky charm. His happens to be the facial features of a mythical woodland creature. I've got stars in my beard and I feel real weird for you, Mr. Bolan. Sure wish you hadn't died, though you have to admit the irony of a hippie turned electric glam-rocker dying from a car crashing into a sycamore tree.
My ears are bangled with tangling ivys sprung from the fiery downs of falsehood. For my eyes, hooded and beaten by the years are eaten by the vulture of mythology. My skull juice, curdled like an overripe cheese reeking and ill in my castle of destiny. Like a pomegranite am I. Oh, wind ones with your shallow cares for the darkened heart, in your rolling robes of chivalry, which way will your guillotine gaze fall.
Warning! This is a warning, in which I am warning you: do not read this review if you are faint of heart, easily offended, squeamish, proper, lady-lik...moreWarning! This is a warning, in which I am warning you: do not read this review if you are faint of heart, easily offended, squeamish, proper, lady-like, gentlemanly, offended by curse-words, offended by the casual mentioning of sex, offended by colorful language being used to describe sex, have no sense of humor (redundant), are voraciously religious (redundant), or are just generally stuffy and Nurse Ratched-like. In fact, you should not only avoid this review, you should perhaps club yourself over the head right now and hope that the wires in your brain which just caught on to the the existence of this book and its author are miraculously the very ones to become permanently inoperable. Walk away.
Moving on, then: FUCK YES! Goodreads friends, why is this on none of your shelves? This is one of the best fucking poetry books I have ever blessed my lucky fucking eyes with! Now that most of my f's and !'s are out of the way, please allow me to explain.
First, a bit of history on the lunatic who penned these perverse, rollicking, spiteful, passion-infused, hysterically snide, emotionally extravagant bits of satire, bereavement, and experiential bellowing. John Wilmot was the son of a war hero. His father was an English soldier whose exploits and connections fortunately led to both he and his wee John basically becoming default royalty. Though technically married to a society type, John still benefited as much as possible from his own privileged and relatively trouble-free station, living each day like it was his last by doing all the things that he loved best, such as writing plays and poems, fornicating, attending parties, drinking a lot, fornicating, fornicating, drinking, writing plays and poems, drinking, drinking, and fornicating, just to name a few.
Fortunately, this was one of those instances where special talent and special treatment met beyond charmingly. He was a fiend in pretty much every way, but he made sweet, sweeeeet love to the paper:
After Death nothing is, and nothing, death, The utmost limit of a gasp of breath. Let the ambitious zealot lay aside His hopes of heaven, whose faith is but his pride; Let slavish souls lay by their fear Nor be concerned which way nor where After this life they shall be hurled. Dead, we become the lumber of the world, And to that mass of matter shall be swept Where things destroyed with things unborn are kept. Devouring time swallows us whole. Impartial death confounds body and soul. For Hell and the foul fiend that rules God's everlasting fiery jails (Devised by rogues, dreaded by fools), With his grim, grisly dog that keeps the door, Are senseless stories, idle tales, Dreams, whimseys, and no more.
Wait, what's happening? Oh my goodness, my pants are falling off! No wonder this guy had so much sex that he actually rotted to pieces from syphilis at age 33. Oh man, though, did he ever earn it. Drinking night and day, womanizing, romancing then recoiling in this hideous primal dance with his off-again, on-again but most recurrent mistress. Speaking of her, let me tell you now that Wilmot was one seriously twisted, vindictive, jealous sonofabitch for being such a tramp. The awesome thing is, he was able to channel his clusterfucked emotions into these heart-punching meditations on the deepest-buried, most dark and horrid aspects of romantic love. A sick bastard, but you can't say he wasn't at least honestly hinting at some unspoken of, universal, primitive-nature type of human emotional muck:
Gods! that a thing admired by me Should fall to so much infamy. Had she picked out, to rub her arse on, Some stiff-pricked clown or well-hung parson, Each job of whose spermatic sluice Had filled her cunt with wholesome juice, I the proceeding should have praised In hope sh' had quenched a fire I raised. Such natural freedoms are but just: There's something generous in mere lust.
Yes, vulgar. That's Wilmot on a good day, though. This is what happens when he's really pissed (later in the same long poem):
May stinking vapors choke your womb Such as the men you dote upon May your depraved appetite, That could in whiffling fools delight, Beget such frenzies in your mind You may go mad for the north wind, And fixing all your hopes upon't To have him bluster in your cunt, Turn up your longing arse t' th' air And perish in a wild despair!
Physicians shall believe in Jesus, And disobedience cease to please us, Ere I desist with all my power To plague this woman and undo her.
What a beast, right? As he was obviously an emotional sort to begin with, I don't suppose it was terribly well-advised to develop a severe addiction to alcohol. His resulting errors were often grievous, such as in this, my very favorite Wilmot story...King Charles II requested a draft of some society play or lady-wooing poem he had commissioned, and a reckless (drunk?) Wilmot accidentally delivered a lovely poem he had written about the King himself, instead. Let me share the introductory lines with you:
In th' isle of Britain, long since famous grown For breeding the best cunts in Christendom, There reigns, and oh! long may he reign and thrive, The easiest King and best-bred man alive. Him no ambition moves to get renown Like the French fool, that wanders up and down Starving his people, hazarding his crown. Peace is his aim, his gentleness is such, And love he loves, for he loves fucking much.
Then it goes on and on condescendingly about his penis, his sexual debauchery, his ineptitude, etc. Oops.
It is rumored that Wilmot was born-again on his deathbad after a life of avid Atheism and nihilistic pleasure-seeking. I'm not sure I buy it, but I forgive him either way, if only for the fact that he created these lines and I get to read them as many times as I want before I, too, become lumber:
Which is the basest creature, man or beast? Birds feed on birds, beasts on each other prey, But savage man alone does man betray. Pressed by necessity, they kill for food; Man undoes man to do himself no good. With teeth and claws by nature armed, they hunt Nature's allowance, to supply their want But man, with smiles, embraces, friendship, praise, Inhumanly his fellow's life betrays; With voluntary pains works his distress, Not through necessity, but wantonness.
And honesty's against all common sense: Men must be knaves, 'tis in their own defense. Mankind's dishonest; if you think it fair Amongst known cheats to play upon the square, You'll be undone. Nor can weak truth your reputation save: The knaves will all agree to call you knave. Wronged shall he live, insulted o'er, oppressed, Who dares be less a villain than the rest. Thus, sir, you see what human nature craves: Most men are cowards, all men should be knaves. The difference lies, as far as I can see, Not in the thing itself, but the degree, And all the subject matter of debate Is only: Who's a knave of the first rate?
*Thanks to Buck for bringing to my attention that I forgot to include a mention in this review of one of the most hilarious poems in this collection, in which Wilmot eloquently reprimands his penis for satisfying itself far too early during sex, then lazily retreating to slumber. Have you ever heard such beautiful language used to describe a hair-trigger? Pop! Pop! Poetry...
Thou treacherous, base deserter of my flame, False to my passion, fatal to my fame, Through what mistaken magic dost thou prove So true to lewdness, so untrue to love? What oyster-cinder-beggar-common whore Didst thou e'er fail in all thy life before? When vice, disease, and scandal lead the way, With what officious haste dost thou obey! Like a rude, roaring hector in the streets Who scuffles, cuffs, and justles all he meets, But if his king or country claim his aid, The rakehell villain shrinks and hides his head; Ev'n so thy brutal valour is displayed, Breaks every stew, does each small whore invade, But when great Love the onset does command, Base recreant to thy prince, thou dar'st not stand.
Wanna reed some pomes? With purdy pitchurs? Tanka. Tanka, very much.
When a collection is 8-ish centuries old (and most of the poems themselves much, m...moreWanna reed some pomes? With purdy pitchurs? Tanka. Tanka, very much.
When a collection is 8-ish centuries old (and most of the poems themselves much, much older), you have to do the eggshell strut to make sure you aren't getting one of the completely bogus translations amidst the hundreds or more in print. Well, I suppose cautious consideration should be applied to any book in translation from any period in time, but I found the contrasts between interpretations of these tanka (meaning eency weency) poems, simply from comparing two editions, to be quite striking in a deal or no deal sort of way. I first perused a much newer and not quite up to snuff interpretation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu before giving this one my letter-jacket. In an attempt to do something new with previously heavily-charted territory [insert sex joke] and modernize this ancient text, Peter McMillan--in his sorta blah version titled One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each--removed the rhyme scheme which makes this, William Porter's version, flow like a chocolate fountain of tasty awesome. Summary of point one: read this translation. Sure, it puts more effort into sounding sing-songy than the particularly (borderline forcibly) non-rhymey McMillan translations, but that's part of what I love about them. I grew up on Doc Seuss picture books and doo-wop, soda-shop pop lyrics just like anyone else. There ain't a thang wrong with a little A/B, A/B, or even a straight-up couplet.
The poems themselves were composed mostly by Imperial courtiers, and examine issues which are time and culture specific such as the royal family and inner-ruling-class concerns, while also touching upon more universal themes of love/loss/longing, the beauty of nature, melancholia, what it means to exist at all, etc, etc. Something for everyone! Also, some of them are kinda funny in that cloudy day, nihilistic sort of way that would come to dominate the land of modern lyrics about lurrrve:
To fall in love with womankind Is my unlucky fate; If only it were otherwise, I might appreciate Some men, whom now I hate
Like I said, themes still relevant today. And always.
As a bonus, this version contains woodblock illustrations and brief notes on each piece, as well as the poem in its original Japanese characters and their Romanizations, so you can read them aloud and feel smurt if you want to. Not that I...did...that. I mean, PLEASE, do you honestly think I talk to myself? Psssh. Huhuh. Whew...(less)
Gertrude Stein drops acid and describes items from domestic life using language generally reserved for Georgia O'Keefe paintings. I frequently found m...moreGertrude Stein drops acid and describes items from domestic life using language generally reserved for Georgia O'Keefe paintings. I frequently found myself getting impatient with it in that itchy skin sort of way where I just wanted it to be over, while at other times it felt like I was having a lovely swim in a sea of Stein's sensory perceptions. In short, I'm ambivalent. Here and there, it seemed to border on saying that heterosexual intercourse is sterile and/or inherently violent (without outright saying it, of course), and that's definitely an annoying enough notion all by itself. Or maybe I am reading too much into it in that regard? Whatever the case may be, I think it's pretty important to consider where your head is at while reading Tender Buttons, as it can have an unfair influence either way. I guess I've been feeling more concrete and less "stream-of-conscious-ee" lately, and so wasn't in the open, fragmented, airy frame of mind necessary to take this thing on. This is one to be reread and reconsidered at a later date.
The Broadcast album is definitely way, WAY better, though. Of that much I am certain.
Preface: Though I enjoyed this book as a whole, the focus this evening will be on Howl. Why this one alone? Simply put, I am writing these jumbled tho...morePreface: Though I enjoyed this book as a whole, the focus this evening will be on Howl. Why this one alone? Simply put, I am writing these jumbled thoughts as a dedication to a friend. Rather, I am dedicating this to a cluster of friends, each of whom have chosen, in one form or another, to leave this earthly plain and shatter vehemently into oblivion. Suffice it to say that this series of words and interpretations will be highly personal, and therefore guided by inflated emotions which have forcefully skewed my view in favor of this poem. It was just too relevant, too well-timed, and exactly what I needed to hear at precisely the moment I was "hearing" it. Then again, perhaps that means that, in my raw state, I actually DID hear it and can give an experience-based, honest opinion founded in emotional relevance (I mean, it's poetry, right?). That is for you to decide, I suppose. Keep in mind, I know this is ham-handed. I find expressing myself to those that I love to generally be difficult, so (since I cannot bring myself to tell them how I feel) I will just spew it here to a bunch of (mostly) strangers. My apologies...it just had to be done. Also, it highlights the reason that I am so keen on this poem (and this collection, which is excellent as a whole).
As I sat at my desk on Monday evening engaging myself with Howl and the internet in varying doses, I received a call from an old friend. This call informed me that our yearly pattern had not ceased its locomotion: another friend had taken his life; another spastic, trouble-making, genuine, crass, rambunctious, unique, ever-smiling, glorious, damaged person had rippled the rivers with what we didn't know about his insides. Like those before him, the type of person that no one forgets, even after a very brief encounter. Those who demanded too much of you; their presence called for your eyes, their voice your ears, and their memory a sturdy bedroll in your cranium. People who will be missed by many, and, oddly enough, exactly the sort of people with the type of pain, obstacles, self-doubts, self-deprecating rants, and self-destructive tendencies that Howl addresses. The wonderful and wounded. Or rather, the wonderfully wounded. You are all familiar with the intro, but it begs repeating for the sake of this dedication:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machin- ery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofs illuminated, who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war, who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull, who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall, who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- cohol and cock and endless balls, incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- tionless world of Time between, Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn...
Perhaps part of what made people feel so invested in and comforted by the beat movement wasn't just the hip facade, the "cool kid," rebel-without-a-cause nonsense, or even the fact that the stream-of-consciousness writing style and (often) lurid subject matter was just "weird" and "fresh." I think a part of it was also the fact that it was purifying, like how they say a fast makes you feel sick at first, and yet in the end more clean. Verbal vomit, is what I mean to get across. Maybe the notion that the cyclical, shrapnel-like thoughts of the scatterbrained, those individuals unnaturally removed from modern society (or even, sometimes, from Reality) still had a niche of people willing to listen to, and maybe even understand them in a million different and ever-changing ways, was a truly comforting thought to many of the insane and irreplaceable, no matter how good or bad they may have been at expressing themselves, and no matter how awful and isolating it may have initially felt to actually do so.
I certainly related to Ginsberg's underbelly of people. I additionally relate to his pain at their loss. I find great tragedy in the fact that some of the most fascinating people I have ever known thought for so long and so hard that they talked themselves into habits, out of love, and away from a world that endlessly appreciated them. Ginsberg felt this, too...the way that modern society chews up and spits out some of its greatest members simply because they cannot cope with its pressures, its rules and expectations, its ugliness and fright; those who left because they falsely felt that they either were unprepared to endure it, or simply didn't deserve it. Howl is a poem for mourning the odd, endless ones. It carves with a jagged blade straight into the bellies of those both saintly and furious, but it is simultaneously the anti-venom for exactly the type if poison that it emits. Embrace in when the time is right (wrong). And please, be good to yourself!
I just want to start off by saying that "Through me you enter into the City of Woes" would make an EXCELLENT tramp stamp. Jump on it!
Being that I am a...moreI just want to start off by saying that "Through me you enter into the City of Woes" would make an EXCELLENT tramp stamp. Jump on it!
Being that I am an atheist living in the "Bible Belt," I was certain that reading this would lead to some sort of goodreads tirade, which can at times feel about as good as vomiting up a sour stomach or...you know...doing other stuff like shit that ladies don't do. However, I was from the outset hypnotized by Dante's très Baudelaire-esque-grotesque imagery and overall style. For such a holy shitfuck, he had quite the murky mind. He was dreaming up torture scenarios that wouldn't even BEGIN to be trumped until Gilles de Rais and Vlad Tepes came around, like, a century later. And don't be surprised if he zaps you with the occasional rotting pustule or maggot-infested knife wound. These aren't literal examples, but they illustrate just how THE OPPOSITE OF FLOWERY some of his language is. So I went into reading this with a huge wall up (I know, I know, a terrible way to read), but then I realized that I wasn't JUST going to be proselytized to...I was going to be threatened with nasty, rotting, coldsore-herpee-mange-pits all over my body that George W. Bush and Paris Hilton are going to take turns pouring their boiling-hot-diarrhea-snot into. Dante, you sick bastard! AWESOME!!!
So onward I galloped, discerning through all the filthy language that:
A) I am, in fact, going to hell.
B) They will have trouble determining the circle I will end up in because I could be placed in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM save maybe, like, one or two (I stopped counting after awhile).
C) The Dalai Lama, too, is going to hell.*
*In fact, the "higher-ups" are apparently so sadistic, they sent people to hell who had lived morally just lives but were BORN BEFORE THE COMING OF CHRIST! He'll punish you for not worshiping Him before you even know who He is!!! If there was ever a better use for "WTF?", I don't know what it is. That's like your mom smacking you in the mouth for getting pregnant while you're still a virgin, or like wanting to ban a book that you haven't even seen in real life yet! That means that every intelligent being for the first few BILLIONS OF YEARS is in hell RIGHT NOW! ALL OF 'EM!!! Every evolutionary step forward up to the first Homosapien Christian is a batch of poor bastards that has been ferried across the River Styx. HARSH.
I mean seriously...even Moses and Noah were in hell until Jesus came through with the VIP passes. Apparently, the wholly omniscient creator forgot to put them on the guest list. Ain't that some shit?
One specific gripe about the story...I'm not digging this whole "emasculated devil" thing. I mean, wallowing in your own filth freezing your ass off with bitch-tears in your eyes at all times? This is the malevolent force that the Christians live in constant fear of, seriously? It's a non-stop temptation to be like HIM? Come on, everybody knows the devil is confusingly sexy and he likes to smoke fancy cigars and drink brandy and wear fine suits and tell hilarious jokes. How else is he supposed to charm us away from the true path? Keep up, Dante...sheesh.
Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. THE END!
Oh, and if you hated this review, I have a back-up review BELOW:
"Papa Said Knock You Out" (aka "The Inferno") by Lil' J.C. ----------------------------------------------------
And with the local DBT news, J to the motherfuckin' C with a triumphant comeback
Don't call it a comeback I been here for years Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon Listen to the bass go BOOM Explosion, overpowerin Over the competition, I'm towerin Wreckin shop, when I drop these lyrics that'll make you call the cops Don't you dare stare, you betta move Don't ever compare Me to the rest that'll all get sliced and diced Competition's payin the price
I'm gonna knock you out (HUUUH!!!) Papa said knock you out (HUUUH!!!) [REPEAT 4X]
Don't u call this a regular jam I'm gonna rock this land I'm gonna take this itty bitty world by storm And I'm just gettin warm Just like Muhummad Ali they called him Cassius Watch me bash this beat like a skull Cuz u know I had beef wit Why do u riff with me, the maniac psycho And when I pull out my jammy get ready cuz it might go BLAAAAW, how ya like me now? The river will not allow U to get with, Mr. Smith, dont riff Listen to my gear shift I'm blastin, outlastin Kinda like Shaft, so u could say I'm shaftin Old English filled my mind And I came up with a funky rhyme
Shadow boxin when I heard you on the radio (HUUUH!!!) I just don't know What made you forget that I was raw? But now I got a new tour I'm goin insane, startin the hurricane, releasin pain Lettin you know that you can't gain, I maintain Unless ya say my name Rippin, killin Diggin and drillin a hole Pass the Ol' Gold
Shotgun blasts are heard When I rip and kill, at WILL The man of the hour, tower of power, I'll devour I'm gonna tie you up and let you understand that I'm not your average man when I got a jammy in my hand DAAAAAM!!!!! Oooooohh!! Listen to the way I slaaaaay, your crew Damage (UHH) damage (UHH) damage (UHH) damage Destruction, terror, and mayhem Pass me a sissy so suckas I'll slay him Farmers (What!!!) Farmers (What!!!) I'm ready (we're ready!!!) I think I'm gonna bomb a town (get down!!) Don't u neva, eva, pull my lever Cuz I explode And my nine is easy to load I gotta thank God Cuz he gave me the strength to rock HARD!! knock you out, papa said knock you out
1) makes me never want to trust anyone ever ever EVER again.
2) leaves me with even less faith in love than I had befor...moreThe fact that this book exists:
1) makes me never want to trust anyone ever ever EVER again.
2) leaves me with even less faith in love than I had before I flipped through it. (Don't worry. I watched Imagine afterward and felt much better.)
3) makes me want to throw up in my mouth a tiny bit. Okay, a lot. Rivers.
4) reminds me that the first time I saw it, it was on a display with a Kurt Cobain action figure. I believe this speaks for itself.
5) makes me want to sock Courtney Love. And I'm non-violent in theory! And I generally don't give a shit about celebrities and their problems.
6) tempts me, but not enough to lead me to do anything more than glance through it. I just can't escape the scummy voyeur feeling that creeps all over me when holding it.
7) makes me think "hmmm...if my life centered around a junkie cuntrag, and I was a misunderstood junkie genius, would I load myself up with a triple-whammy dose of heroin and then shoot myself just for good measure? Wouldn't that many opiates make me feel too euphoric to hate myself and want to die?" Or did I...
8) is sheer ickiness. Utter awfulness. Holy shitfuck...YUCK.(less)