Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Three Tweets About Henry Hill’s “As Told To” Autobiographical Book Gangsters And Goodfellas


I just read Henry Hill’s “as told to” Gangsters And Goodfellas about his life in witness protection.

If a cat has 9 lives, then Henry Hill must have lived 9 cats’ worth.

Born 1/2 Irish and 1/2 Italian, converted to Jewish, hood, addict, alcoholic, family man, womanizer, +

...schemer, hustler, con man, drug dealer, killer, thug, FBI informant, up then down then up then down, story teller, shunted around the country in witness protection, stirring up scenes and situations wherever he landed, low life, high liver, hard liver. +

And all of this only begins to tell the story of Henry Hill’s life.

The man had 81 lives in his 69 years.

He was a survivor, mob life, prison, addictions. 

Horrifying, pathetic, compelling disgusting but amazing life story.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

A Few Words On Orson Welles, The Lady From Shanghai, Citizen Kane, Michael Curtiz, Bogart And Casablanca

‪Stage Irish in Orson Welles’ case is lousy Irish. ‬

‪I again tried to watch The Lady From Shanghai. ‬
‪Best I could do was to fight off sleep. ‬

‪His blarney is baloney. ‬

‪The sheer staginess obstructs the narrative, makes the film static and near to unwatchable. ‬

‪The story is way too complicated and isn’t revealed in action so much as in set piece speeches, especially at the end.‬

‪Welles as actor and director exhausts me and frustrates my patience both in this movie, and, heretical as it may be, philistine as I may be, in Citizen Kane. ‬

‪Give me Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca with Bogie et al, even with its schmaltzy ending, any day. ‬

‪Its effects are filmic not static, the opposite of a weird, stagey bore. ‬

‪It pops all the way through. ‬

‪In my humble opinion.‬

‪The End‬

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Tiny Imaginative Take On Heidegger On Anxiety, Dualism And Authenticity

‪There’s anxiety and there’s anxiety.‬

‪In all of Heidegger’s labyrinthine convolution, verbal opacity, his analysis of anxiety is more literary than all else, a theme in search of a novel. 

Philosophically it’s arbitrary and renders his analysis of authenticity entirely equivocal.‬

‪The protagonist in this would be novel is a spritely shape- shifting spirit named Dasein who, when the world falls away, must choose between being a being whose being is authentic or being a being whose being is inauthentic.‬

‪And in an act of unruly subversion, internally rebelling against Heidegger’s project to subordinate Cartesian dualism to its proper subordinate place, the subject-object monster Dualism, thought to have been so cast down forever, rears its primordial head as Dasein’s world falls away and as Dasein needs to choose the being of its being as being authentic or inauthentic.‬

Monday, July 27, 2020



Cold, starless night, late, 
lone street lamp in place of stars, 
I go by myself.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Nietzsche’s Three Metamorphoses

‪I just finished reading The Three Metamorphoses. Do we see it as literature or philosophy? For in literature we grant the artist his vision, or, more prosaically, his premise, and then, if it’s a great work, we enter into its imaginative expanses and drink in and respond to the world coming from its artistic power. So an atheist can experience the full power of Paradise Lost or Donne’s devotional poems or even Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, regardless of how alien the themes and ideas of these or other works may be to us.‬

‪For philosophy, we respond with our reason as informed by our experience and don’t willingly suspend disbelief. One critic noted the difference between philosophy being “as is” and art being “as if.” This split goes to an interesting general question about Nietzsche: whether to consider him mainly as a philosopher or an artist or both with our vantage points possibly shifting accordingly.‬

‪I’d also remind all (and myself principally) that Nietzsche is a behemoth of a thinker and an intellectual presence, not at all encapsulable,  and that different parts of his work can support different overarching views of him. That being so, I’ll restrict my comments to the specific text before me and will make a stab at some textual analysis, looking at the poem as literature.‬

‪From the perspective of literature, the poem is all of what Zarathutra “spake” to his “brethren” in bringing them along so that they can absorb the lessons of the spiritual growth from, metaphorically, camel to lion to child. The poem is a dramatic re-enactment of the movement through the three transformations, allowing his “brethren” to transform themselves as Zarathustra speaks to them.‬

‪The images of the camel, the lion and the child are metaphors for likening the growth of the human spirit from being “load-bearing” and duty-bound to ultimately being light and alive, as a child, fully open to all possibilities of self creation, which is to say, in Nietzsche's terms, a “forgetfulness,” “a new beginning,” “a self rolling wheel.” In that spiritual passage, the spirit, like the camel, to get beyond its heavily laden, duty-bound self, must debase and mock itself and must immerse itself in isolation, annihilating negation and spiritual self deprivation—“suffer hunger of the soul,” “feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge.”‬

‪The interrogative mode dominates the first part of the poem, which essentially is a series of seemingly alternative questions pressed into service of possibly answering the more underlying questions: “What is heavy?” and “What is the heaviest thing?” And, it seems, the spirit asker is one completely married to his tasks and his beliefs: “...the strong load-bearing spirit in which reverence dwelleth...”  ‬

‪The spirit asker, it may be argued, is one different from the many, who wishes to fulfill, if not perfect, himself in his assumption of duty: “What is the heaviest thing...that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.” Therefore, the argument will continue, the three stage spiritual growth is not a template for all to follow; it is, rather, a path along only which the spiritually gifted can follow. For in that willingness to rejoice in the redoubling of weighty burden a certain psychology is given: that of the ability to see one’s self; the ability to question one’s self, lower one’s self and expose one’s self, risking loss of the self-assurances one has and the pride those assurances may breed:‬
‪“...To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one’s pride? To exhibit one’s folly in order to mock at one’s wisdom? To desert our cause when it celebrateth its triumph? To ascend high mountains to tempt the tempter?”‬

‪This singular “load-bearing spirit in which reverence dwelleth” has it within itself, therefore, to forgo the world at the very heights of what the world may glory in—“celebrateth its triumph.”‬

‪The image of “tempting the tempter” seems the inversion of Satan and Christ in Milton's Paradise Regained standing on the tip of a spire with Satan tempting Christ to forgo heavenliness for worldliness, which Christ rejects, leaving Satan to fall away. Here the spirit ascends to heights and, I’d argue, beckons, “tempts,” the "last Lord,” ”Thou-Shalt,” the great dragon,” to struggle with  spirit in the great dragon's attempt to blanket it in divine readymade meanings and thereby keep spirit servile. That very ascension and bold beckoning is juxtaposed with, and complemented by, the immediately following and humbling feeding on “the acorns and the grass of knowledge”  and suffering the “hunger of soul.” ‬

‪The suffering is for the “sake of truth.” And the demands of truth compel forsaking society and those comforting who want to attend on, and mollify, spirit’s soul sickness. The demands, too, compel taking unto one’s self the indifference of others: “...make friends of the deaf, who never hear thy requests?” And truth demands immersing one’s self in "foul water of truth" and claiming for one’s self—“and not disclaim”— extremes of discomforting ugliness, “cold frogs and hot toads,” demands embracing what hates us (for what hates us shakes  the very ground of our self understanding, posing a radical threat to that self understanding) and demands taking on, befriending--“give one’s hand” to--the frightening unknown, “the phantom when it is going to frighten us.”‬

‪There is no one answer, so it seems, in these questions as potential answers to the underlying question of what is heaviest. They all signify an act of consciousness of a specifically powerful and courageous spirit ready to risk all in negating the readymade and the worldly and in setting the stage for the next step along the overarching path to spiritual enlightenment.‬

‪In asking the questions, in being willing to sacrifice an easier, because already well, well settled,  way of being in the world, the spirit takes on to itself the weight of unburdening itself of the ostensibly apriori , in a paradox of unloading the known and thereby taking on, being weighed down with, the heaviest load of the unknown.  And so the spirit as result of its questioning and willingness quickens into “its wilderness.” The reference to “its” marks the “wilderness”-- itself a "bewildering vastness, perilousness or unchecked profusion”-- as internal, a wildly unknowing state of mind.‬

‪Comes then by the agency of the initial questioning “the second metamorphosis,” which is to say, the second transformation in the form and nature of a thing so it’s completely different. But in noting that, we must not pass over too quickly, as sometimes we do, that the first metamorphosis has occurred by virtue of, and as comprised by, the load-bearing spirit wanting to take unto, and onto, itself the most it can.  It wants to so that it “could rejoice in my strength,” that being, I think, the unquenchable thirst in some for the spiritual most the world offers.‬

‪We must step back to consider and understand what was it in spirit that metamorphosed into what Nietzsche sets out as the first metamorphosis. What it was was the reverent, renouncing, duty-laden "beast of burden”prior to its initial metamorphosis occasioned by its relentless questioning of what is heavy and what is heaviest.‬

‪Consistent with the very idea of metamorphosis, the questions now diminish in their unrelenting frequency. And now, too, the narration becomes more detached from the subjectivity of the first metamorphosis as interrogative consciousness now changes into the great contentious action of will's struggle in fulfillment of where the questioning has led spirit.‬

‪Now, like a lion, the load-bearing spirit has become master of its solitary and wilderness domain, free in its unvanquishable power as manifest in its absolute assertion of will. In a nutshell, “Thou-Shalt, with its resonance of divine imposition and commandment, becomes this lion-spirit’s naked and singular “I will.” And so the metamorphosed spirit likened to a lion defeats the readymade of the divine, itself inverted imagistically  as the great dragon.‬

‪The movement through the first two metamorphoses may be cast as willessness to willingness to willfulness.‬

‪Here in further inversion of the worldliness of the power and kingdoms and riches Satan offers Christ to tempt him to forsake Christ’s Father, the spirit as a vanquishing lion rejects, and asserts its solitary self against, "’Thou-shalt,’" which "lieth in its path, sparkling with gold-a scale-covered beast; and on very scale glittereth golden ‘Thou shalt’!”‬

‪The gold imagery is felicitous in what it suggests. Gold’s value is an arbitrary human construction. So are the value and weight of readymade meanings, ranging up to the seeming apriori, an arbitrary human construction. As well, the comfort and succour readymade meanings provide have the glittering attractiveness of gold in their easing the way for the conduct of life according to their laid out strictures. Therefore, “The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales...All the values of things glitter on me. All values have already been created, and all values I represent.”‬

‪Now the interrogation revives. But it is not the questioning of the metamorphosed load-bearing spirit, whose self-examining questioning is done; it is, rather, the overarching rhetorical questioning –he knows the answers he will give—of Zarathustra, setting the ground for the final metamorphosis and dealing the final blows to the great dragon at the very heights of its own assertive power:‬

‪“My brethren, wherefore is there need of the lion in the spirit. Why sufficeth not the beast of burden, which renounceth and is reverent?” ‬

‪Structurally, Zarathustra’s questions follow from the great dragon’s boldest assertions of its own order of things to the spirit as lion concluding with “Verily, there shall be no ‘I will’ any more.”  ‬
‪Who is addressed by Zarathustra in his “My brethern”? Is it the townsfolk of “the town which is called The Pied Cow”? As originally set out, I’m thinking not. The very name of the town, “Pied Cow,” suggesting motley and diversely incongruous cow- like lumpishness, does not inspire the idea that the three metamorphoses are universally available. I’m inclined to think Zarathustra in “My brethren” addresses those alike in spirit, those willing and able to overcome and ascend.‬

‪In his questioning, Zarathustra meets the great dragon on its strongest ground. As noted, standing, it thinks securely, on that ground, the great dragon asks: what need do we have of the negation of all the order I give, of all that has meaning and value; what need is there of the spirit as lion; why isn't simply the reverent, renouncing beast of burden sufficient?‬

‪And the answer is given, flowing from what load-bearing spirit now transformed into spirit as lion has wrought first from its own self examination and then from its confrontation with the world as given, or as seeming apriori meaning: “to create new values.” In relation to that, spirit as lion has reached its limit. It can create freedom, the conditions necessary and sufficient for that creation to take place, by its assertion of will (“I will”) against the readymade.‬

‪But now more spiritually is needed.  Zarathustra rehearses the stages of the journey to the point where things stand. In fact, says Zarathustra, the heaviest load for the beast of burden is the assumption of the right to new values, and that is the work of spirit as lion, “the work of a beast of prey.” The beast has moved from its love of “Thou-shalt,” spirit at its “holiest,” then, as forced by the force of its own interrogative self examination, to spirit as lion finding “... the illusion and arbitrariness even in the holiest things,” and capturing freedom from devotion to the divine readymade it once loved.‬

‪Zarathustra comes to his final rhetorical question, to which he knows the answer, and for which his “brethren” are now prepared: “...what can the child do...why hath the preying lion still to become a child?”‬

‪The answer is that spirit as warrior- lion must be left behind in being transformed anew into, as originally noted, a “forgetfulness,” an “Innocence,” a self-creating beginning making fresh meanings for itself in a new holiness, in a new unburdened affirmation, “a holy Yea unto life,” a self contained will, a pure spirit of will, making a world of itself in being outcast from the readymade, a perpetual rolling movement to meaning stemming from itself—the final fulfilment of the desire “to rejoice in my strength,” the comparative and paradoxical strength of spirit as child.‬

‪“Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.‬

‪Aye for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: IT’S OWN will, willeth now the spirit; HIS OWN WORLD winneth the world’s outcast.”‬

‪Now, finally, the originally beloved "Thou-shalt," spirit at its "holiest," has been, in Nietzsche's terms, transvalued into the child like innocence of "a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea"--which is to say, the transvaluation of holiness.‬

Sunday, July 5, 2020

More On Milosz’s Poem, One More Contradiction—See Immediately Preceding Post


‪We agree on the speaker's state of mind, at least roughly, but not on whether Milosz suuceeds in expressing a trenchant attitude toward the speaker.  I say not. ‬


‪I think in the way the poem’s tone is achieved, what its effect is, we indeed get a sharp view of the speaker. In your terms, he dramatizes himself effectively even to the point of being pathetic. ‬

‪I’m not sure what a trenchant attitude toward him would be: I have a vivid sense of the speaker’s world weariness and his sense of himself as sadly absurd. ‬

R :

My main beef with this poem is that it feels like (what is the case I of course don't know) the writer  SET OUT TO WRITE A POEM rather than had an experience which moved him to write.  Both poems are idea driven rather than passion driven (and by passion I don't mean noisy passion, but some emotional seriousness or comic spirit in what the speaker says. ‬

‪Person has a sense late in life of having had no calling, or if called did not hear it, just drifted like many others through life, no big deal.  Now imagines a "next time," which is actually funny now I say it, as there obviously isn't,  but now merely fancies a different life, also funny,  "I would, I would" as if that was anything but more or less what he had been doing, nothing of moment.  And the lack of feeling in the last line caps it off.  Even the imagined recognition of his futility doesn't much move him.  He is in imagination what he was in life, and found neither very satisfying for reasons he does not understand.  Another person without whatever it is makes life more than getting by. But the poem itself ends by being itself dreary.  ‬

Me with interpolations by R and then mine on his, mine, numbered:

‪We differ.‬

‪It makes no sense to me except in the sense that it’s to made to make no sense.‬

‪For example what is he renouncing; why is he going to choose the fate of obedience?‬
‪Finding fault with one's self but in a non-serious, sort of throw-away was is common. He is mocking that pseudo self-castiagtion.  ‬

‪1 This is what you say he’s renouncing? I can’t see it. My reading is that he knows he’s renouncing 0. He knows he appears to be saying he’s  formally abandoning something—renouncing has that formal, heavy, significant, connotation—but then lets it lapse into 0.‬

‪2 He’s doing more than mocking pseudo castigation. He, the speaker,  is mocking himself mocking it. He’s taking a critical stance against pseudo self castigation by seeing himself engaging it and ridiculing himself for doing it. The self criticism keeps deepening itself. Which is consistent with my reading of non sequiturs and contradictions he purposefully renders through the poem.‬

‪Why did he have to pretend he could be be just like others?‬
‪He says he pretends, but he was and now enjoys thinking he was potentially superior.‬

‪1 That’s a good point. He’s saying that in his present life he’s pretended he was the same as everyone and that were there a next time, he wouldn’t so pretend, But he’s not enjoying thinking he is potentially superior. He knows he’s not. So really his pretense isn’t pretense. Not just that. Most others presumably work as they live their routine lives but he knows he’s an idler, something entirely passive, a piece of paper blown this way and that by any wind, with nothing of any permanence about him. Things go on, renew themselves, with no effort by him:‬

‪... I was a guest in a house under white clouds ‬
‪Where rivers flow and grasses renew themselves...‬

‪2 And what we’ve both haven’t noted is that the entire exercise of his imagining himself the next time round is a futile self lacerating irony: there will be no next time. The exercise is mere speculative idleness. The more I consider this poem, the more I realize how deeply the self mockery cuts. It’s like meta self mockery that keeps doubling down on itself and informs every supposition the speaker makes, everything he declares, everything he imagines doing. ‬

‪What can’t he be; what’s special about him?‬

‪Nothing, but he's trying to be so?‬

‪1 You end your comment with a question mark. My point is that his saying this, that he wouldn’t pretend to be like the others, is self conscious self mockery, calculated nonsense in the sense that he knows what he says is opposite to the case. He knows he’s no better than the others. But he says, knowing that, that in the non-existent next time he won’t pretend that he’s like everyone else. It’s utter ironic self  mockery by which he knowingly belies his actual words. ‬

‪Why does evil and suffering come from so pretending?‬
‪Because one has not honestly faced one's sinfulness. ‬

‪1 Don’t agree. It’s nonsense, not your comment, but what he says. It’s more grandiosity coming to 0. Just like the renouncing. There’s no indication of evil or sinfulness anywhere. He knows that in saying these words he appears to be inflating his own significance even as in doing evil, as though he were a figure of evil somehow bundled up with suffering, his, maybe others. But he knows he’s not. He explodes this very pretense even as he pretends to it. You miss the irony here. ‬

‪What is the relation between not pretending and choosing the fate of obedience and who chooses a fate anyway?‬
‪I think I answered that above.  It's nice to think one has a fate.  Choosing it is nonsense.  ‬

‪1 See my above reply. I agree it’s nonsense. But if you mean it goes to something silly or nonsensical in the poem marking it as a flaw, then I disagree. It’s, rather, intended, self conscious, ironic nonsense, one more intended flaccid muscle in an intended strong  flaccid poem.‬

‪What is there that indicates he has a wolf’s eye and greedy throat to suppress and what is a wolf’s eye and what is a greedy throat; one doesn’t usually think of a savage rapacious appetite as a greedy throat?‬

‪He's exagerrating his routine selflishness.  ‬

‪1 Agree but only in the context of my previous comments taken as a whole as a reading of the poem. ‬

‪None of it makes coherent sense and it’s a self conscious exercise is his own absurdity, as I see it.‬

‪No, it's a mockery of an ordinary man's silly effort not to be, a hangover from the cultural past.  ‬

‪Even his renunciation comes to naught.  He wanted to accomplish something.  ‬

‪I still think it falls flat.  I suspect the translator has not caught some edge that derives from the religious context.  This is a failed Christian, what one is left with when one loses the faith and wants to make up for it.  ‬

‪1 He really didn’t want to accomplish something. He’s like the guy, is it Chandler?, in Joyce’s short story, A Little Cloud, who fantasizes about being a writer but gets no further than wondering  whether he should use his full name or just go by initials and his last name. (I’m amazed I remember this.)  But Milosz goes further than Joyce. The short story protagonist is, as I recall, utterly unaware. This speaker is all too aware and is  lacerating in his self mockery. Though “lacerating” may be the wrong word, as the poem is so brilliantly suffused with such pathetic world weariness and resignation that are so effectively conveyed. Maybe “harsh” is a better word to convey the depth of the criticism of this guy emerging from the poem. ‬

‪2 It doesn’t to the ears of my mind fall flat. I think it’s kind of amazing that the self conscious but pathetic affect of this guy is so vividly conveyed, even while the whole poem is bathed in ever deepening,  ironic passive resignation, the self consciousness informing our sense of this guy’s futility and making it all the more real and biting. ‬

‪So one more contradiction is simply one more to the non sequiturs and broken reasonings running through the poem as he intentionally lampoons himself. ‬


‪#2 is too complex an intention.  If that is possible reading poems would be impossible.  Anything can be turned into satire or irony.  King Lear is a parody of tragedy, a mad king, two evil daughters, one angel daughter, a guy who puts out people's eyes. etc.  ‬


‪It can be taken too far. I wouldn’t say it about Lear because it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit Tintern Abbey or A Valediction Forbidding Mourning. But it does here.‬

Saturday, July 4, 2020

On Chewing On The Bone Of What Czeslaw Milosz’s Poem One More Contradiction Means And Then, One Hopes, Getting It

‪One More Contradiction    (As translated from Polish) ‬

‪Czeslaw Milosz‬

‪Did I fulfill what I had to, here, on earth? ‬
‪I was a guest in a house under white clouds ‬
‪Where rivers flow and grasses renew themselves. ‬
‪So what if I were called, if I was hardly aware. ‬
‪The next time early I would search for wisdom. ‬
‪I would not pretend I could be just like the others: ‬
‪Only evil and suffering come from that. ‬
‪Renouncing, I would choose the fate of obedience. ‬
‪I would suppress my wolf's eye and greedy throat. ‬
‪A resident of some cloister floating in the air ‬
‪With a view on the cities glowing below, ‬
‪Or onto a stream, a bridge and old cedars, ‬
‪I would give myself to one task only. ‬
‪Which then, however, could not be accomplished.‬

‪My first note on it:‬

‪As for the poem, it eludes me.‬

‪What is he renouncing?‬

‪What does he mean he’d choose the fate of obedience?‬

‪Obedience makes me think of obeying convention, a duty filled, rote life, but he wouldn’t pretend he’s just like the others. And”the others” suggests to me those who live routine lives. ‬

‪I’m still not seeing what a cloister floating in the air is? I get that a cloister here seems to suggest a cloistered life, a life removed from the daily hurly burly but why floating in the air? ‬

‪And why give himself to one task only? ‬

‪And I’m not getting the connection between his floating cloister and his imagined single task devotion, though as I write this, the thought comes to me that his reference to “obedience” might relate to the intimation of a life of piety as maybe suggested by “some cloister.” But, be that thought on or off the mark, I’m nowhere near able to put this all together.‬

‪Btw, he’s not renouncing his “wolf’s eye“ and “greedy throat” is he? Or is he? Renounce typically goes to giving up some right or claim, like citizenship or some such.‬


‪My main beef with it is that it feels like (what is the case I of course don't know) the writer  SET OUT TO WRITE A POEM rather than had an experience which moved him to write.  It’s idea driven rather than passion driven (and by passion I don't mean noisy passion, but some emotional seriousness or comic spirit in what the speaker says.  ‬

‪Its meaning seems obvious.  ‬

‪Person has a sense late in life of having had no calling, or if called did not hear it, just drifted like many others through life, no big deal.  Now imagines a "next time," which is actually funny now I say it, as there obviously isn't,  but now merely fancies a different life, also funny,  "I would, I would" as if that was anything but more or less what he had been doing, nothing of moment.  And the lack of feeling in the last line caps it off.  Even the imagined recognition of his futility doesn't much move him.  He is in imagination what he was in life, and found neither very satisfying for reasons he does not understand.  Another person without whatever it is makes life more than getting by. But the poem itself ends by being itself dreary.  ‬

‪Me: ‬


‪I’m opposite of you in having a sense of only some impressions of what bits of it might mean but that I can’t put together and that raise more questions for me than answers, your nice comments, much appreciated, notwithstanding. I give Milosz the benefit of my doubt: it’s me, not him. I just have to, want to, come to better terms with ‬

‪I liked it right off the bat even not understanding it. It has a feel to it, the glimmering for me of an idea that attracts me even while I’m in the dark about it for the time being, for my being and time—a bit of Heideggerian humour.

‪I say nothing prescriptive about how poems come about. Their genesis, be it in passion, from an experience, from someone just mucking around, whatever, is irrelevant to me. All that matters for me is whether I like the poem, whether I sense it works for me, and whether I’m prompted, which I am by it, to work at getting it. I also couldn’t care less whether a poem is idea driven, or any other way driven, save for by a driverless car, as long as I feel it works for me. ‬


‪I can't argue with that.  I get impatient when I am not getting it in some sense, to some degree, or the drift,  the first or second time round.   Not quite true.  Sometimes it sounds very good but makes no sense.  Hart Crane's Repose of Rivers sounded fine to me, but who was speaking on what occasion I didn't get.  Then one day it struck me, it was a river speaking on its journey to the sea.  Boom!  Actually Kafka has been like that a few times.  Once I suddenly realized what I, like everyone, thought was deep allegory, when suddenly I was laughing, it was comedy, very weird, but very funny.  I later learned that Kafka used to read it aloud and crack up his friends.  (It was The Trial and of course turned dark further on.)‬

‪Me—a few days later:‬

‪Hey, maybe I have it. ‬

‪It’s the poetry of calculated absurdity, cleverly meant cynically not to make any sense, intended as a series of paradoxes, contradictions and non sequiturs, so even the title shares this, one more contradiction and instance of meaninglessness among many in the poem. So the questions I posed you in an earlier note, why this, why that, what does this or that mean, how do this and that go together, they’re all unanswerable. As in gaze down on “glowing cities,” “a stream, a bridge and old cedars.” One wants to add, “whatever.“‬

‪There’s a hard to accomplish complex tone of mordancy, flippancy, world weariness, dreariness, sad playfulness, depression, black humor, satire, deep self deprecation, mockery and self mockery, nihilism, fatigue and other things. Describing the tone is like peeling away the layers of an onion. The effect is quite an achievement.‬

‪So if you meant it’s finally “dreary,” as in it’s a dull, dreary poem, a bad poem for that, I disagree. If you meant it gives off the effect of dreariness and it’s a good poem for that, then I’d agree, but add that the effect includes but isn’t reducible to dreariness. ‬

‪P.S. Add resignation, listlessness and indifference to the elements of the tone.‬


‪I right off intuited that there was something about this poem that I liked. I instinctively liked its tone and how self assured whatever it was that I couldn’t understand seemed. The images intrigued me as did the philosophicality of it. I kept going back to it. I kept trying to make sense of of its parts. I kept trying to interrelate them. Then this afternoon, trying yet once more, like a bone the dog in me kept coming back to chew on, I suddenly had an “aha” moment. It came unbidden. How does that even happen, as though my unconscious was working overtime for no pay and then just waiting to explode into consciousness as an insight? And after it arrived, I felt a little tremor of pleasure at it. Then I started thinking about it and the more I did the more it felt right to me and the more suffused with pleasure I became. Now I wonder if anyone else sees the poem as I do. I couldn’t find, without searching intently, any commentary of it. ‬