Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Random Picture

Because to me the page doesn't seem right without a picture, here is one of Andrew the night before his brain surgery 4 months ago. It is his hands in this series of pictures that prompted the comment from a friend that inspired the little poem I wrote about his hands. He continues to amaze us all writing sonnets and reading and listening to music.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Face to Face With the Mystery

You would, I guess, have to be here and to see that just a month ago Andrew couldn’t read anything aloud and had a lot of trouble with any sort of coherent critical thinking to realize how astonishing these Three Sonnets for Yukio Mishima are.

His brain, besieged by tumors, his body wasting away (he weighs in at close to 130 now on a 6’3” frame) must have rerouted critical functions so that he could conceive of, and then execute these three linked metrical pieces this week.

My own theory is that all those years he spent up all night tinkering with various metrical challenges have really paid off. He dug a groove in his brain pan that stuck around even when verbally the man has trouble getting out the right proper noun.

It is a wonderfully hopeful sign for us all. That even at our end the poetry can still be there, challenging us, driving us and abiding with us.

What a difficult and magical time this is being, each day steeped in the wild waters of the big mystery.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Enjoying The Dark Side

“I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. […]

If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. […]”

Kurt Vonnegut's on the occasion of the burning by a school of his novel Slaughterhouse-Five” in 1973

I bought a Kindle last month.

I have secretly wanted one for over a year and as Andrew’s caretaking needs have escalated to the point where I am spending at least an hour and a half going over and back from his place each and every day on the bus with stuff for him (whatever the latest craving is) carrying a book too is a hassle. Particularly a hardcover library book.

It is fabulous, my little “Magic box” as Andrew calls it. I have so far purchased two books and a subscription to the New York Times.

I might add that these two books, one a Buddhist primer by Thubten Chodren and a murder mystery in the Shan series about Tibet are two that I would not have purchased. I would have borrowed them from the library.

There is no doubt that in the two weeks since I have had the thing (it took two weeks to ship) that I am reading way more and am enjoying reading more than I would have had I not had the machine.

It also, (unlike both books and magazines), works well for reading on aerobic machines at the gym. I’ve tried it both on the Elliptical and the Treadmill. Very cool.

I am thinking that those of you who through received wisdom are decrying the end of books as we know them might want to take Mr. Vonnegut’s advice up there and instead of peering over at one someone who is happily reading one on the bus or the train or in a coffeehouse and internally bemoaning the end of civilization as we know it; borrow one from a friend (because all your cool friends already have one) and set the type to a size that works for your eyes and read a book on it.

Then I’ll be happy to listen to your concerns.

Perhaps over dinner? I've all of a sudden become a much more interesting person to talk to.

Did you know that they are running out of water in Yemen? Perhaps we might consider a team of Yemenis as our next astronauts to the moon?

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