Richibi’s Weblog

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Month: March, 2008

“Another World”, Robert Mazzocco

here’s a poem that stirred me from my own “slough of despond”, resurrected me from a period of sluggish stasis, I was finding neither the time nor the inclination to even share poetry, this one is, I’m sure controversial, perhaps even offensive to some but, I think, strong, striking, and utterly honest and human, reflective of a ubiquitous existential reality                    

                                                                                                                                                                 Another World

I am a married male and a young exec,
a country-club, racquet-playing sort of jock,
I guess, who is now deep in a slough of despond.

What I am looking for, though, is a similar type,
and yet dissimilar as well, to chill with,
and, maybe, who can tell, open me up, if possible…

Must be virile and caring and muscular and bi.
I need to relax, you see, I cannot even crack
the Wall Street Journal anymore. I am willing

to learn and eager to please. Help me unite…
I love my wife, but feel she is in another world.
And I, too, of course, dream of another world. Or bro.

Be patient and try and understand. Show me the way.
Or the ropes. Or the map. I am a tyro, I know,
and a stranger, really, to my own self or any other soul…

And yet I do not want to be anonymous. Or still less only
to party. No, what I’ll want, as soon as it is night, is to count
the stars on our path as, side by side, whatever the future to share                                                                                                                                                                         we let our steps follow one another on through the dawn.

                                                                                                                                                             Robert Mazzocco



Peter Doig

  Peter Doig, Friday 13th 1999    Peter Doig
         Friday 13th, 1999            Reflection (What Does Your Soul 
                                                          Look Like?), 1996

                                Peter Doig


                                                                                                                                         at the Tate Britain – find it at “” – this painter is creating a sensation

a one-time Canadian he has become “the most expensive living artist in Europe when one of his paintings, “White Canoe”, changed hands for almost $12-million at Sotheby’s”, according to the “Globe and Mail

abstract art, I thought, is finding its way back to realism




Still Life with Two Lemons, Pieter Claesz

 The Cleveland Museum of Art

                           Still Life with Two Lemons


                           Pieter Claesz, c. 1597-1661


                                                                                                                                                          especially crystal clear is the fallen goblet

otherwise the lemons glow in a warm golden light enfolding everything

                                                                                                                                                                    like maybe grace





the 50 greatest books in English

should you have been following the contest in the Globe and Mail, here’s the latest:
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species
Dante Alighieri, Commedia (The Divine Comedy)
Plato, The Republic
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
James Joyce, Ulysses
Karl Marx, Das Kapital
St. Augustine, Confessions
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
my recent response :
first of all of the first ten choices of the 50 greatest books in English only three strictly fit the bill, the others are culled from everything already from French and German to verily Ancient Greek and Latin, by way of medieval Spanish no less, and Italian
with this I have no cavil but for not paying proper heed to translations, translators, and their varied abilities for delivering accurate goods, both in substance and in spirit, some references should be made to preferred renditions, I would suspect Dante for instance in even competent prose would be no match at all for nearly any in thoughtful verse, and these superior options should be duly credited and recommended, otherwise where is the “English” in these “50 greatest books”
“Remembrance of Things Past” got me off, it is my supreme masterpiece along with “The Iliad”, it got me interested in this contest, further choices did not disinterest, and I held back scepticism
however having just read Plato on essentially your instigation, and found him outrageous, indeed offensive, not least of all because he actually proposes to castrate Homer, censor parts of him, to fit a cockeyed political agenda, a tyranny in fact – for where is the line between tyranny and even enlightened kingship – a tyranny he would of course administer himself
Plato throughout merrily essentially rambles, nearly incoherently, certainly without any real relevance to ourselves, unless you want to start a tyranny, while his audience, Thrasymachus, Glaucon and the rest, let him ramble, tyrannically, for over four hundred nearly interminable pages
could they be thinking, could we
and where is Homer for that matter on your list
to propose a list of the 50 greatest books one would have to have read a good part of the canon, or have a pool of such people, for where otherwise is the validity of the contest, you can’t even begin to make those choices without having read too many of the masters that haven’t made the list yet
where is of course Shakespeare in all this, where is this pinnacle of English literature, where is Dickens, where is Henry Fielding and the boisterous “Tom Jones”, the gothic Emily Brontë of “Wuthering Heights, the ethereal and unforgettable Virginia Woolf, where, closer to home, are Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, with each their masterful groundbreakers, “In Cold Blood”, “Lolita”
I won’t even start on literary titans in other languages
the choices in English to date have been quaint, “Ulysses” belongs there, “Tom Sawyer” instead of “Huckkleberry Finn”, but with next week F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” the choices of your panel become questionable
where is Somerset Maugham’s “The Razor’s Edge” then, “Of Human Bondage”, or any of his perfect short stories if you’ll first give precedence to the entertaining but not nearly as prolific, nor able, Fitzgerald
I suspect not read  

or closer to home where is “The Grapes of Wrath”, one of, just one of, John Steinbeck’s towering achievements
James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” with Walker Evans, or his sublime “A Death in the Family”, right up there with “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee’s triumph, where are these, could they have been read but still not trump next week’s trifle
where is “Gone With the Wind”, Margaret Mitchell’s magnum opus, in every sense of that first word, magnum great, magnum wonderful
where is the sensuous and searing “Alexandria Quartet” of Lawrence Durrell
more esoterically perhaps but no less deservedly where are the sublime “Diaries of Anaïs Nin”, an unparalleled account of a life lived at the very centre of cultural exchange in New York and Paris starting at the Jazz Age, moment by telling moment,  and ending in the psychedelia of the Sixties and Seventies, written with stark and consummate ablility, artistry, and frankness
where for that matter is Anne Frank’s diary, about which a moment of silence would rather do than my mere words to sing its highest praises
there are only 40 places left, please fill them thoughtfully

                                                                                                                                                                    thank you



van Gogh – Still Life with Earthenware and Bottles

            Still Life with Earthenware and Bottles, 1885   

                                Vincent van Gogh

several weeks ago I was shown a process on the Internet that allowed me to set most any picture I could bring up from the web as my desktop, rather of course than the usual, generic stuff that is by default peddled, I of course sought out art

should you want to do this, find of course the picture, google it, artist naturally optional, van Gogh, Monet, mostly come up but these two are nearly inexhaustible, very often breathtaking, and will adorn serenely, sublimely, your monitor, turning it into a veritable vase for some time 

you’ll grow from there, in diversity of artists, and aesthetic verve

find the picture, even this one, click once on the right with your mouse, much like Dorothy did her shoes in “The Wizard of Oz”, click again, but on the left this time, on “Set as Background”, like magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                            change your artwork regularly

                                                                                                                                                                                                               this week this van Gogh starts up my gallery, “paintings to ponder”, I’ll call it 

poems also coming up

                                                                                                                                                                                                              hope you’ll enjoy




the stone angel

these earlier “back tracks”, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy


for Greg, its champion

the stone angel:

miracles are of course in the eye of the beholder, like beauty, truth, and love

I remember being told by my mother about the wife of a cousin of my father, she was notoriously unattractive, indeed downright ugly, everyone said, her daughter later worked for my father in our family’s store, she was cheerful, industrious, and eager to be working there, one day when her mom came in her daughter called out to her mom as she entered, hi beautiful and altered forever my conception of beauty

miracles are also such entities, they happen in the heart and in the soul, without these there are merely serendipitous circumstances bereft of either reason or wile

but to the wide-eyed innocent still dazzled by the glory of a sunrise, the splendour of a sunset, the iridescent grace and beauty of a shimmering rainbow stretching its improbable arc across a sun-strewn sky, hot on the heels of routed clouds and blustering but receding thunder, miracles are a sign of heaven, the consequence, the stardust, of faith

we’d been headed out to dinner after a day of taking in Buenos Aires, making our way along one of its more popular streets, Avenida Florida is closed to traffic but teems with the to and fro of shoppers, tourists, merchants, and of course minstrels, entertainers, we’d seen a pair of men dancing the tango together for coins, each in a formal though somewhat worn-out black suit, young novices, a girl in black as well, in mesh, sultry hose, dark, beautiful and mysterious, stood to the side awaiting her moment, we thought they were probably students of tango, their steps were informed but not quite yet smooth and silken as the dance requires

Greg had been telling me about a mime who’d done magic for children, they would drop a coin into a box for her and she would then somehow make a light glow in their palm as she dropped something into it

I’d listened inattentively, making my way through the crowd instead, that flowed like a turbulent river all around and kept me alert especially to its currents

look, Greg said, it was a stone angel he was pointing at, a charcoal statue about the size of a man, the wings hadn’t been intricately described but they were the right size and spread convincingly above the reverent posture, the head was bent forward somewhat in prayer, the hands piously enfolded, a stone tunic fit the shape and turns of the heavenly body as though it were indeed cloth, the feet, the articulated toes, rested mystically upon the charcoal pedestal

I don’t remember seeing that there, I said to Greg, we’d been along that street before but I’d also always paid more attention to the traffic than the storefronts, and wasn’t unduly surprised that I’d missed maybe even this angel

do you have any change, Greg asked, I noticed a box at the foot of the angel, also charcoal, part of the sculpture, though I thought it strange in fact on public art

no, I said instinctively, careful not to squander my meagre pot, but when he asked again after I’d further considered, rued my initial ungenerous response, I dredged up a few pesos from an alternate pocket

Greg held out the coin to a little girl who stood nearby with her mother, offered it for her to take, whereupon she came by, accepted the change, then proceeded to the sculpture, and dropped the offering into the box for donations, then withdrew

but by then the angel had quivered, was coming to splendid life, and like a revelation had begun to unfold

of course this was a man, I understood in the very moment, but a man in the guise of an angel, which of course is an angel in the guise of a man, for where does the line begin or end which divides them

with a wave of his hand he beckoned the little girl back, she returned and in her palm which he held in his own blessed hand he bestowed a gift, which didn’t glow, I incidentally thought, but must nevertheless be wondrous

already I quivered, frozen in awe, but quaking like a leaf in a mystical wind

the little girl turned around to Greg, held out the gift in her little palm to give it safely and dutifully back to him, but when she opened her hand for him to retrieve the holy thing he merely touched it back again enclosing it there for her to keep, the act itself of another angel, spontaneously selfless, selflessly spontaneous, munificent

by this time of course there were tears in my eyes, I’m a sucker for the acts of angels, but the angel himself had been observing the kindness being proferred in his name, he signalled Greg over and bestowed upon him a gift which again he retrieved from a breast pocket stitched in the stone above his heart

Greg returned with a miniature silver crucifix that gleamed and glistened in his palm, not a glow, incidentally, but an incandescence, and indeed wondrous

but the angel was not about to leave me out and beckoned that I might too receive this blessing so that I advanced to receive also my little cross, he must’ve recognized my fervent admiration, my dumbfounded awe, and would honour me also, I gathered, with his favour

others followed suit, deposited their pesetas, received their little crosses from an always consummate angel, calm, poised, respectful, and profoundly inspirational always, until the wave of them wore off

I still quavered as though the earth had moved, like any creature stunned by for instance lightning, like any one of us before a force of nature starkly and grandly manifested, there is so much we overlook

but driven by finally logic and the practicality of moving on – even mystical experiences are finite – we wended our way forward toward our dinner out, but only a few yards on, meters if you will, out from where we’d had our visitation, I felt I’d left something wholly unfinished, wholly unsaid, asked Greg to return and with me, for me, tell the angel he’d been miraculous, magnificent, that I’d been so very much inspired, in Spanish, for all I could speak was English, and Greg was versed in their tongue

in his ear Greg spoke a fervent Spanish, he’d been there too, was also eager, I slipped a larger, more appropriate amount, I thought, into the coin box, more in keeping with the experience

but the angel didn’t move

he probably didn’t hear, Greg later pointed out, paper won’t sound like change will

but unresponsive to Greg too, I’d wondered, who’d poured his Spanish heart into the angel’s ear, maybe wax from the makeup, he’d thought

for a moment then the angel remained a sculpture, still, and in character, and of stone

then with deep generous eyes that slowly he opened, heavy with the weight, I thought, of maybe the very world, he peered deep into my own

beautiful, I responded, beautiful, the only word I could utter in exalted admiration

then in English, clear and reverberant, like an oracle, I thought, for us all to understand and behold, he replied, simply but wondrously, cryptically enough indeed but with great portent, thank you

to which I could only add, amen