“For one of the first pressures that bear down on American girls is the pressure not only to be liked but to be like everyone else. This initial feat of self-transformation often involves loosening one’s grip on that quiet sense of inner self and hitching one’s wagon to a single standard of beauty. The stress of leaping through that hoop insinuates itself into the young heart and soul with a vengeance, and insecurities go from being hard little buds of confusion to overripe, snarled and tyrannical fruits that hang on the vine as we age.” ~ Debra Ollivier, What French Women Know About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind
A Poly-Grecian Urn: Wal-Mart, Easter Weekend, 1998
Half-ravished by the first light touch of sun
on winter-languid skin, and air’s slow stir—
ardent, close—across bare limbs, we’ve come
for potting soil, for silver-bladed trowels,
for the brightest daubs of color we can bear
away, pre-blossomed in black plastic flats
of vinca, dianthus, pansies. Months too late
to raise the tulips’ complex pulse, we praise
instead the ready-made, until it takes
the squat shape of this bastard child of Keats.
Maybe we’ve come to this—all that remains,
the pointless simulacrum of a choice:
white or green, it’s plastic either way,
machine-stamped in the hollow shape of loss.
Or is this too much to make of a cardboard nest
of two-part urns, bowls and bases packed
as snug as bullets in a magazine,
arranged for sale in monochromatic stacks,
the scraps of half-truth and cheap beauty rent
to pieces by this dying century?
The two of us are young enough to dream
we’ll make it out alive, somehow escape
the burden of our genes and history
to start again, unstained. From the rotting corpse
of a lion he’d killed, Samson took honey, ate,
and found it sweet, but then slew thirty men
because of it. Like him, we crave the taste
of something drawn from death, but can’t be sure
if fingers drip with syrup or with gore.
Or both. Nothing we touch is innocent.
A block away, pale-bellied leaves, wind-wheeled,
invoke the storm, but just beyond the gate,
my neighbor’s yard’s a fuchsia-tinted peace
of statuary petals, as if the air
were stunned to silence, stillness, by the brute
beauty of a redbud’s blooms. I go inside,
come back to limbs still shaking, stripped of leaf
and blossom, and sidewalks scrawled in a green hand
just clear enough for me to read the truth,
that beauty couldn’t even save itself.
I fill the urn with pansies, purple, white,
and pink, but nothing lives past the first rain,
when water pools around a sodden welt
of storm-pressed flowers. The planter doesn’t drain;
its certitude drowns everything I put
in it. I dump the slop of store-bought loam
and flaccid stems, then cut thin slits to bleed
the water out, and try again, a need
to keep something alive, if nothing more
than these doomed blossoms in a plastic pot.
On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital information about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.
A list of some of NASA’s greatest achievements:
1958: First US Spacecraft.
1961: First US Astronaut
1969: Man on the Moon
1972: Pioneer 10 launched to photograph Jupiter.
1973: Pioneer 11 to photograph Saturn
1990: Hubble Space Telescope launched
1973: Skylab first space experimental station
1977: Voyagers were launched to explore outer space
1999: X-Ray Telescope launched to photograph supernovas and black hole
1975: Mars Exploration and Rover landing
Happy 55th birthday NASA!
I wind my way across a black donut hole
and space that clunks.
Once I saw on a stage,
as if at the bottom of a mineshaft,
the precise footwork
of some mechanical ballet.
It was like looking into the brain
of a cuckoo clock and it carried
some part of me away forever.
No one knows when they first see a thing,
how long its after image will last.
Proust could stare at the symptom of a face
for years, while Frank O’Hara, like anyone with a job,
was always looking at his watch.
My favorite way of remembering is to forget.
Please start the record of the sea over again.
Call up a shadow below the pendulum of a gull’s wing.
In a city of eight million sundials, nobody has any idea
how long a minute really is.
~ Elaine Equi
Music by Alex North from 2001: A Space Odyssey (based on “Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss)
“Art is like a kite. You have to pull the string hard in order to stretch it to its limit, but you don’t want to pull it so hard that you break the thread, because the thread connects you to the land and its peoples.” ~ Wu Guanzhong
Once again, I have my tumblr dash to thank for discovering another artist. Seeing one print by Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) set me on an internet search for more of his work, which I found in abundance. Rather than including some of the images in a post, I decided to let the art be the post, hence, the gallery below.
Wu Guanzhong is considered by many to be one of the greatest Chinese contemporary painters of all time. For more details on the artist’s life and works, click here, here, or here.
I probably shouldn’t post this as I do not know the source, but it’s just too . . . well . . . too perfect.
Music by Steve Azar, “I Don’t Have to be Me til Monday”
pleiades choreographic [excerpt]
The theme is forgiveness, the theme is justice
(deferred, delayed, obtained). The theme is rejoicing
alternating with suffering (watercourse, torrent)
Harrowing the fields. Beauty (bound to a thing, entangled)
Making compassion possible
The lyre, lyric (our thirst–ζιφοσ). To frighten away
(chase, reject). A thicket of reeds (δονακευς)
Kindling a fire
What moves through the human body
Before and after the discovery of electricity.
It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly—it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.
~ Aldous Huxley, from Island (my favorite Huxley quote)
Literary Birthday: Aldous Huxley, born 26 July 1894, died 22 November 1963
15 Aldous Huxley Quotes
The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
Every man’s memory is his private literature.
There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.
The proper study of mankind is books.
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul.
Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.
I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself
The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.
Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.
That all men are equal is a proposition which at ordinary times no sane individual has ever given his assent.
Huxley was an English writer, best known for his dystopian novel, Brave New World. He also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry. Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist, who was also well known for his advocacy and consumption of psychedelic drugs.