Friday, March 10, 2006
today's my father's birthday. he died 9 days after his birthday last year, on the last day of winter. the damn damn thing is, it was on that birthday that I realized that I could no longer care for him. it was too much for me, it was too much for Beth and Erin. and clearly, he was letting go. he wasn't eating or drinking, he wasn't talking. I was there, not my brothers, when my father was put in the ambulance and taken to hospice. you will notice the hurt in my words. caregiving seems to be a job in which you never feel like you did enough. Beth brought an autistic child along in the world, most of the time on her own. it should make you feel good that you accepted the responsibility and did your best. it doesn't work that way, tho. what sticks with me are those few times when I was frustrated with my father, when his confusions overwhelmed me. I should remember that most of the time I was patient, compassionate, understanding, that I saw the losses he was enduring and did my best to help him. yesterday, Beth mentioned that we should get some planters and start a container garden on the balcony. I felt sad because I used to help my father with his garden. he started vegetable gardening after he retired. I used to assist him in his later years. as he became physically less able to get about, I started doing the garden work. which worked out well, because he particularly enjoyed starting the seeds and tending the seedlings. and I discovered I enjoyed digging around in the soil. he used to anticipate excitedly the arrival (in December) of the seed catalogues, and the starting of seeds. it got, however, so that he was starting them way too early. and then it got so that he no longer could do the work properly. where I used to ask him questions how to proceed, suddenly (it seemed) I was now advising him. it was a strong memory, yesterday, when Beth brought up the planters, of carrying tomato seedlings around for my father, fetching water, asking him when I can finally plant them in the earth. and so forth. it's a mild, windows open afternoon, and spring is possible, even probable. it's okay to feel sad sometimes, it's okay to move on.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
thanks to Chris Murray for letting me be so self-serving as to mention that Chris Murray mentioned Antic View in a positive way, on her own generous and percipient blog. in the midst of doing it (the Antic View blog) with Jeff Harrison, I am aware, on my side, of sliding into the unknown. and Jeff's thinking is different, is in fact more metaphysical than I would expect to grok, but this leads me. and so on. we are in a performance, sure, but I for one am so distracted by the wobbly vision of what the hell--from vocable to word to words working together--that I don't even notice my performance. and it is a patch of surprise in the greening way ahead just to hear myself thinking, let alone visit Jeff's thoughts. in the way of things, Jeff and I began a collaboration which has chugged along 3 or is it 4 years. gosh in a basket! I think we are letting ourselves learn. which is anything but mundane. the Antic View blog is some light on that. and I appreciate that some few have bothered to read and allowed themselves to hear. because I know both Jeff and I have paid the dues and are working on. it is in our words.
I got Kenneth Koch's collected from the library. I wish I had more time and focus to read it. When I got Berrigan's I knew I was facing that. it's funny that these 2 major collections came out at the same time, altho I suppose Christmas had something to do with that. both writers were adventurous, but that quality shows itself differently with each. I may be risking a stupid statement here--it would be my 1st ever--but Koch seemed to pretend to be a different writer with different works. here he's a formalist (I use that term only superficially), here he's a narrative writer, here he's an academic, etc. I'm pointing to the way he commits to his projects. this is exactly opposite to Olson, who with every genre, including letters and lectures, sounded the same, with stutters and madcap leaps and his oddball erudition. which I admire in him, just as I admire how Koch turns himsself over to the modus operandi. Koch was facile in the best sense. I have to say, tho, that I've never read his book length baseball poem. I have it but can't think of its title. I'm not sure what puts me off. I can put up with fitting one's words to the rhyme scheme or metre for writers 'back then', but such comes across as unnecessarily labourious nowadays. excuse me for saying. I'll read the book sometime. anyway, Berrigan's adventurism consists of throwing himself into situations of surprise. impulse drove him. perhaps I shall get Koch's book. I mean, of course it belongs on the shelf of anyopne serious about the art. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more extra stuff in the book. like appendices, notes, whatnot. I realize these are mostly just trappings, but I like trappings! it is a event book, as I've said before. it's a different event than Berrigan's because TB has been gone longer, and KK has a better publishing history than Berrigan. I imagine later editions will be plumped up as memory of Koch the person diminishes, and also as further scholarship digs up what it finds. anyhoo, random thoughts...
Sunday, March 05, 2006
read Man in the High Castle and Vulcan's Hammer by Dick, Philip K. HC is an alternate history in which Axis, bold as love, defeats the other guys. PDK whips up a pretty well thought out vision of it. I don't know the history of alternate histories, as in: who did the 1st, but certes they weren't a bubbling subgenre for him as they are now. I read one by Harry Turtledove, in which the Confederates win the Civil War. HT knew his history, on that score it worked, but the South won because some nasty Boers went back in time to bequeath AK47s on the Rebs. I'm leery of time travel stories, holes always pop up in the logic, and hasn't the Star Trek franchise done every possible permutation? yet HT still managed to keep the historical characters on track. he made a useful commentary on teh war out of the novel, despite the clunkiness. Dick's read is quite sharp, if you ax me. I would have no prob seeing this in an English class, taken just that seriously. not, of course, to murder it with study guides or whatever mechanical rendering of its 'meaning'. he addresses racism and has a sensitive sense of cultural differences. Jonathan Lethem, in his essay on Dick (titled "You Don't Know Dick") cites VH as about as bad as it gets with Dick. turns out that aint so gosh darn bad. it's a short crisp novel. for the 1st 100 pages I couldn't see why Lethem would disparage it. things quickly fell apart as the plot culminated. it's a future world (set, it would seem, in the 1990s) in which world government has been given over to a super computer. totalitarianism for the common weal, just like, um, now. the computer has a bit of a (predictable) nutty and, in a nifty subtlety, the computer replaced by the latest one machinated against the newbie. unfortunately, at the 100 page mark (out of some 135) Dick starts rushing to finish. generic heroics, such as Tom Cruise might be party to, ensue. Lethem's right, it's pretty wobbly. still, in both books, the characters are quite fresh, thatis, they aren't the stiff drab pawns that Arthur C Clarke produces. what I like about Dick is how he keeps bobbing for the same apple, focuses on issues that matter to him. I started yet another one, something something Alphane Moon, which appears more satiric than others of his.