‘Confidence’ I now regard as a psychopathic state. Confidence, it’s a cry for help. I mean, you look at all that out there, and what you feel is confidence?
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Literature
Without money, you’re one day old and one inch tall. And you’re nude, too. But the beauty of it is, there’s no point in doing anything to you if you haven’t got any money. They could do things to you. But if you haven’t got the money, they can’t be fucked.
Coursera‘s been around long enough now that some classes are being offered for a second time, including a couple that I’ve taken and recommend:
We are all receding — waving or beckoning or just kissing our fingertips, we are all fading, shrinking, paling. Life is all losing, we are all losing, losing mother, father, youth, hair, looks, teeth, friends, lovers, shape, reason, life. We are losing, losing, losing. Take life away. It’s too hard, too difficult. We aren’t any good at it. Try us out on something else. But shelve life. Take life off the stands. It’s too fucking difficult and we aren’t any good at it.
That reminds me — it’s probably about time to schedule an eye exam because I can’t goddamn see any more . . .
Let me tell you what really happened, the voice said. All those years you waited torpidly, like a sleepwalker, pulled and pushed about by others’ opinions, by external pressure, by your illusions, by the official rules you internalized. You were misled by your own frustration and passivity, believing that what you were not allowed to have was what your heart was destined to embrace.
These are the books I read in 2012, roughly in the order listed. The ratings and tags are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion.
Book of the Year: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
Master K’ung said, the gentleman has nine cares. In seeing he is careful to see clearly, in hearing he is careful to hear distinctly, in his looks he is careful to be kindly; in his manner to be respectful, in his words to be loyal, in his work to be diligent. When in doubt he is careful to ask for information; when angry he has a care for the consequences, and when he sees a chance of gain, he thinks carefully whether the pursuit of it would be consonant with the Right.
The Master said, The Ways of the true gentleman are three. I myself have met with success in none of them. For he that is really Good is never unhappy, he that is really wise is never perplexed, he that is really brave is never afraid. Tzu-kung said, That, Master, is your own Way!
zu-Kung asked about government. The Master said, sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the confidence of the common people. Tzu-Kung said, Suppose you had no choice but to dispense with one of these three, which would you forgo? The Master said, Weapons. Tzu-Kung said, Suppose you were forced to dispense with one of the two that were left, which would you forgo? The Master said, Food. For from of old death has been the lot of all men; but a people that no longer trusts its rulers is lost indeed.
Master Tsêng said, The true Knight of the Way must perforce be both broad-shouldered and stout of heart; his burden is heavy and he has far to go. For Goodness is the burden he has taken upon himself; and must we not grant that it is a heavy one to bear? Only with death does his journey end; then must we not grant that he has far to go?
“Mr. Pickens knew that once he got his preaching diploma, he would open a church for modern Baptists, Baptists who were sick to death of hell and sin being stuffed down their gullets every Sunday. There wasn’t going to be any of that old-fashioned ranting and raving in Mr. Pickens’s church. His Baptist church would be guided by reason and logic. Everyone could drink in moderation. Everyone could dance and pet as long as they were fifteen—well, maybe sixteen or seventeen. At thirty, if you still weren’t married, you could sleep with someone, and it wouldn’t be a sin—that is, as long as you loved that person. If you hit forty and were still single, you’d be eligible for adultery not being a sin, as long as no children’s feelings got hurt and it was kept very discreet. But you still had to love and respect the person; you couldn’t just do it for sex.”
nd now, do You see those stones in this parched and barren desert? Turn them into loaves of bread and men will follow You like cattle, grateful and docile, although constantly fearful lest You withdraw Your hand and they lose Your loaves. . . . You thought, what sort of freedom would they have if their obedience was bought with bread? You replied that man does not live by bread alone. . . .
So, in the end, they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, “Enslave us but feed us!” And they will finally understand that freedom and the assurance of daily bread for everyone are two incompatible notions that could never co-exist! . . .
They will marvel at us and worship us like gods, because, by becoming their masters, we have accepted the burden of freedom that they were too frightened to face, just because we have agreed to rule over them — that is how terrifying freedom will have become to them finally! . . .
I tell You once more that man has no more pressing, agonizing need than the need to find someone to whom he can hand over as quickly as possible the gift of freedom with which the poor wretch comes into the world. . . .
We have corrected Your work and have now founded it on miracle, mystery and authority. And men rejoice at being led like cattle again, with the terrible gift of freedom that brought them so much suffering removed from them. . . .
They will tell us the secrets that most torment their consciences, they will tell us everything, and we shall solve all their problems, and they will trust to our solutions completely, because they will be rid of the terrible worry and the frightening torment they know today when they have to decide for themselves how to act.
f God exists, then no doubt I’ve sinned and I’ll answer for it; but if there is no God, then I didn’t offend them nearly enough, those holy fathers of yours.
“It says in the Scriptures that if you have as much as a grain of faith and if you ask a mountain to move into the sea. it will do so at once and without delay, the second you ask it. So, Mr. Gregory, since you’re a believer and I’m an unbeliever — for which you keep reproaching me — why don’t you try asking the mountain to slide not even all the way into the sea (because there’s no sea anywhere near here) but just down into our stinking little river, the one that runs behind our garden. If you do, you’ll see for yourself that nothing will move, that everything will remain where it is, even though you shout all you want, and that should prove that you too, Mr. Gregory, do not have the true faith, which you like to reproach others for lacking.”
ctually, I believe that, in telling you all about the struggle that took place in me, I twisted things a little, to make myself look a little better. But I don’t care if I did. The hell with all this spying on the human heart!
My favorite poem of the week — again from Modern & Contemporary American Poetry – was “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” by Bernadette Mayer, especially the final image of the stressed-out new mother reading The Wild Boy of Aveyron, about a feral child raised by wolves.
One of the things I like about the class is that the video lessons are done a little differently than other Coursera classes I’ve taken. Rather than recorded lectures, the videos consist of the instructor, Al Filreis, leading a small group of Penn students in close readings of selected poems.
Anyway, here are a few of my favorites so far:
- I dwell in Possibility by Emily Dickinson
- Tell all the Truth but tell it slant by Emily Dickinson
- The Brain within its Groove by Emily Dickinson
- Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams
- This Is Just To Say by Willim Carlos Williams
- A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsburg
- Lines for an Abortionist’s Office by Ruth Lechlitner
- Incident by Countee Cullen
These next two, both by Richard Wilbur, I want to single out as being particularly exquisite and heartbreaking:
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.