Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

This is my attempt for something other than a seasonal photo. I’m considering “walking” as change–like an act of continual change as one walks.

Nobel Prize winning author, Isaac Breshniv Singer, walking down Broadway in NYC. 1984.
Nobel Prize winning author, Isaac Breshniv Singer, walking down Broadway in NYC. 1984.  He was on his way to a book signing.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Change.”

J.D. Salinger

Salinger
A Young Jerry Salinger.

J.D. Salinger is becoming even more in the spotlight than usually right now, because of the “American Masters” program about him that is being shown on PBS.  I’ve already watched it twice.

images
The Elderly Jerry Salinger.

No other book ever affected me like “The Catcher in the Rye.”  I’m 71 now and I am still affected by it just the same whenever I re-read it. I’m not sure if this book affected other generations the same as mine, which I consider the generation that came of age in the 1960’s.

I remember back in the early 60’s when I was a student at San Francisco State Collage (now it’s called San Francisco State University), I took this literature class in which the teacher on the first day put down “Catcher in the Rye.” as trite and insignificant.  I dropped the class.  I’ve always found that people who don’t appreciate this book is only because they can’t understand what is going on or identify with Holden Caulfield.  It takes a certain kind of mentality and background.  People who aspire to the middle-class, and love the status quo, I’ve found don’t like it.  Misfits love it.  The four books below are his entire published work that is in book form.  I have each book linked to the book on Amazon.

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Zooey is his most religious story.  I think Zooey tells you all you need to know about how to be happy, but one needs to read Franny first, because it’s a prequel to Zooey. His religion is quintessentially Buddhist.   He had this notion that this world is of no consequence, money and status mean nothing.  I think he makes the point over and over that money and social status have nothing to do with happiness, even though society is all about these things, and people who understand this, love J.D. Salinger.

Salinger loves his characters so much, is why, I think that the reader comes to love them so much.  I think I love Seymour the most.

Time for me to reread these.

The PBS program on American Masters is really good.  He seemed to only go for really young and innocent girls, and when they were not so young and innocent anymore, it was so long.  All his stories are about young people, too.  I think he is so obsessed with youth because he was still obsessed with his own youth.  His attraction for young women seemed to be more spiritual than physical (according to the PBS film). I think because those were the types closest to his own mind.  They were not yet worldly, but as soon as they became worldly, like wanting to make money from writing about him, he dropped them.   He didn’t think one should write to make money, which is why he published so little.  One should make art only for the joy of it.  This is a very Buddhist idea.

The Buddha left his wife and child to go off and find nirvana.  Salinger, in his own way, did the same thing.

Seyour an Introduction by J.D. Salinger

200px-SeymoreintroductionAs is, its prequel, Rise High the Roof Beam Carpenters, Seymour an Introduction is narrated by the second oldest son in the Glass family, Buddy Glass.

You probably are reading this (this may be a delusion on my part) to find out what this story is all about.  It’s about the poet/painter/seer and how it feels to not fit in, but be able to see everything clearer than everyone else.  Seymour was a genuine poet/seer and he kills himself because the pain of seeing the tragic lives of the average person, and especially the people he loves the most, more than he can bear.  His view of everyone is just like Christ would have viewed the world around him.  And like Christ, Seymour is destroyed.  Seymour dies at 31.  I think Christ died at 33 if I’m not mistaken.  Both Seymour and Christ are pure love, something the world can’t tolerate.

This story is told in the first person,  Buddy Glass is talking.  This is a quote from the first page of this story:

“I found out a good many years back practically all I need to know about my general reader; that is to say, you, I’m afraid.  You’ll deny it up and down, I fear, but I’m really in no position to take your word for it.  You’re a great bird lover.”

[No wonder I love J.D. Salinger so much.  He has my number.]

John Berryman, Poet

The reason I decided to make a post about John Berryman is that I was just thinking about something I heard him say in an interview that has stuck with me for maybe 30 years now:  [my short-term memory isn’t so hot, but I haven’t any trouble remembering tiny things of 30+ years ago.  But I digress.]  Berryman said:

 “I only have about 6 readers.” [he smiles and adds defensively] “But those 6 people are very bright.” 

That’s how I feel about this blog.  I’ve never been able to attract many readers, but the ones I do seem quite bright.  He also said that he was completely unemployable, which is something I can also identify with, so I’m trying now to be a artist, which is what I wanted to be all along.

Berryman

John Berryman was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and was considered a key figure in the Confessional school of poetry.
Born: October 25, 1914, McAlester, OK
Died: January 7, 1972, Minneapolis, MN
Education: Columbia University, University of Cambridge, More
Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Bollingen Prize, National Book Award for Poetry

This is part of a poem about his father–the feelings of which I can also identify with:

From “Dream Song #145.”

he only, very early in the morning,
rose with his gun and went outdoors by my window
and did what was needed.

I cannot read that wretched mind, so strong
& so undone. I’ve always tried. I–I’m
trying to forgive
whose frantic passage, when he could not live
an instant longer,in the summer dawn
left Henry to live on.[1]

Another thing I have in common with Berryman is that his birthday is October 25th and mine is October 24th, which means we are the same astrological sign. Picasso’s birthday was October 25th, too, who was another one of my favorite people.  Maybe it takes a Scorpio to love a Scorpio.  (I don’t want you to get the impression that I’m an astrology nut–I’m really not.  NO, I’m not!)

Literary Wits of the 20th Century

Menchan

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Quotes by H.L. Mencken:

  1. “In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.”
  2. “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
  3. “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”
Robert Benchley: “Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?”

“A great many people have come up to me and asked me how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated. My answer is, “Don’t you wish you knew?” and a pretty good answer it is too, when you consider that nine times out of ten I didn’t hear the original question.”  Robert Benchley

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) and Robinson–Of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Parker said: “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

Other Parker Quotes:

  1. Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.
  2. I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.
  3. I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound — if I can remember any of the damn things.   dparker

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936): “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

S.J. Perelman (1904-1979)  (He wrote much of Groucho Marx’s early dialogue)

“Fate was dealing from the bottom of the deck.” [The Rising Gorge (1961) p. 183]

 A patient confronts his doctor, in a cartoon printed in Judge magazine (November 16, 1929):

“Great-grandfather died under strange circumstances. He opened a vein in his bath.”
“I never knew baths had veins,” protested Gabrilowitsch.”
“I never knew his great-grandfather had a ba—” began Falcovsky derisively.”

“Oh, son, I wish you hadn’t become a scenario writer!” she sniffled.
“Aw, now, Moms,” I comforted her, “it’s no worse than playing the piano in a call house.” [“Strictly from Hunger”, The Most of S. J. Perelman (1992) p. 45]

If you liked this post, you might like to read my post entitled:  The Dorothy Parker Society (DPS) Newsletter for November 2012.

Dorothy Parker Rejected by New Jersey

Michael Douglas and the E Street Band inducted into the New Jersey

Hall of Fame, but not Dorothy Parker

When the E Street Band and Michael Douglas are inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame this summer, the Dorothy Parker Society and our friends in Long Branch will not be at a table at the gala affair sipping champagne. That’s because Mrs. Parker was shut out again. Her

Dottie Parker Rejected Again

place in the “general” category was taken by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, as Mrs. Parker has been taking her lumps lately (losing her house still stings). We are happy that if it had to be anyone in the category to beat her, at least it was Ms. Oates, a superstar female author, and not Doris Duke. Read the whole sad tale here, and see who else is being inducted.

(above quoted from the Dorothy Parker Society Newsletter)

Has Joyce Carol Oats ever written one quotable line?  About the only thing you can say about her is that she is prolific.   In 60 years, do you think she will still be talked about and celebrated?  Is Joyce Carol Oats a symbol for an age as is Parker?  Has JCO had a bottle of American gin named after her?

Dorothy Parker American Gin–a blend of traditional and contemporary botanicals including juniper and elderberries, citrus, cinnamon, and hibiscus Made by Brooklyn Distilling Company.

That only happened because Parker is some kind of symbol for the American Twenties.  What has JCO had named after her:  zero, goose egg, natha.  Besides, Oats wasn’t even born in New Jersey as was Parker.  Parker has been on a U.S. Postage Stamp and Oats hasn’t.

Issued 8/22/1992

The argument could be made that Ms. Parker didn’t live in New Jersey accept as a child, but neither has Michael Douglas.  I believe Douglas grew up in Connecticut.

Read my previous blog on Dorothy Parker called Dorothy Parker’s Birthday.

Top 10 List

Monthly Top Ten Dorothy Parker Books
(via Amazon.com)
1. The Portable Dorothy Parker

2. A Journey into Dorothy Parker’s New York (ArtPlace Series)

3. The Lost Algonquin Round Table

4. Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This?

5. Dorothy Parker Complete Poems

6. The Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker (Modern Library)

7. Dorothy Parker Complete Stories

8. Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker

9. Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties

10. The Ladies of the Corridor (Penguin Classics)

Check out my other posts about Dorothy Parker

1.  June 7 Marks the 45th Anniversary of Dorothy Parker’s Death.

2.  Dorothy Parker’s Birthday

3.  Coming Soon:  An On-Line Tour of Dorothy Parker’s New York.

“A Reckoning” by Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur

The following is a poem by Richard Wilbur that I love because it so completely describes my own thinking at this time in my life.  Since I got into my senior years, I have night dreams remembering something stupid and/or gross that I said or did during my life.  This is one of the worst aspects of getting old that I’ve experienced.  I will remember something that happened 50+ years ago that I never even thought of again after it happened.  This is especially amazing since I have trouble remembering much more frequent things and especially names of people and things.  However, I try not to think about the past because doing so keeps one from moving forward.

Like the voice in this poem, I’ve been much of an ass in my life.  But, just being a jerk and saying and doing stupid things, I don’t believe should land me in ever-lasting hell after I’ve finished here.  At least I hope not.  I’ve suffered from my sins as I’ve lived.  Being filled with regret is punishment enough, from my point of view, but maybe not from God’s.

A Reckoning by Richard Wilbur 

At my age, one begins
To chalk up all his sins,
Hoping to wipe the slate
Before it is too late.

Therefore I call to mind
All memories of the kind
That make one wince and sweat
And tremble with regret.

What do these prove to be?
In every one, I see
Shocked faces that, alas,
Now know me for an ass.

Fatuities that I
Have uttered, drunk or dry,
Return now in a rush
And make my old cheek blush.
But how can I repent
From mere embarrassment?
Damn-foolishness can’t well
Entitle me to Hell.

Well, I shall put the blame
On the pride that’s in my shame.
Of that I must be shriven
If I’m to be forgiven

Cats–Not the Musical

“And now sometimes I’m interviewed, they want to hear about life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed, shot, runover, de-tailed cat and I say, “Look, look at this!” But they don’t understand, they say something like, “You say you’ve been influenced by Celine”… “No!” I hold up the cat, “by what happens, by things like this, by this, by this!”  — Charles Bukowski

My Cat Bobbi-the-tailless

I’m in the process of reading James Joyce’s Ulysses.  Today, I started chapter 4, the chapter in which Leopold Bloom makes his first appearance.  The chapter that begins with the famous line “Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.” I’ve read this chapter before, a long while back, but I didn’t remember the part where Bloom is interacting with his cat.  The line that I highlighted is the one line in which Joyce does his stream-of-consciousness bit with the cat:

…The cat walked stiffly round a leg of the table with tail on high.

–Mkgnao!

–O, there you are, Mr Bloom said, turning from the fire.

The cat mewed in answer and stalked again stiffly round a leg of the table, mewing. Just how she stalks over my writingtable. Prr. Scratch my head. Prr.

Mr Bloom watched curiously, kindly the lithe black form. Clean to see: the gloss of her sleek hide, the white button under the butt of her tail, the green flashing eyes. He bent down to her, his hands on his knees.

–Milk for the pussens, he said.

–Mrkgnao! the cat cried.

They call them stupid. They understand what we say better than we understand them. She understands all she wants to. Vindictive too. Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it. Wonder what I look like to her. Height of a tower? No, she can jump me.

–Afraid of the chickens she is, he said mockingly. Afraid of the chookchooks. I never saw such a stupid pussens as the pussens.

Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it.

–Mrkrgnao! the cat said loudly.
She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth. He watched the dark eyeslits narrowing with greed till her eyes were green stones. Then he went to the dresser, took the jug Hanlon’s milkman had just filled for him, poured warmbubbled milk on a saucer and set it slowly on the floor.

–Gurrhr! she cried, running to lap.

He watched the bristles shining wirily in the weak light as she tipped three times and licked lightly. Wonder is it true if you clip them they can’t mouse after. Why? They shine in the dark, perhaps, the tips. Or kind of feelers in the dark, perhaps.

He listened to her licking lap. Ham and eggs, no. No good eggs with this drouth. Want pure fresh water. Thursday: not a good day either for a mutton kidney at Buckley’s. Fried with butter, a shake of pepper. Better a pork kidney at Dlugacz’s. While the kettle is boiling. She lapped slower, then licking the saucer clean. Why are their tongues so rough? To lap better, all porous holes. Nothing she can eat? He glanced round him. No. …

After reading this, I’m listening for my cat to say “Mrkrgnao!”  I haven’t heard it yet.  Maybe because my cat isn’t Irish.  Or, maybe that’s a swear word in cat language and my cat doesn’t swear.  Or, perhaps, I don’t have Joyce’s ear.  Maybe since Joyce was Irish he interpreted sounds different than we Americans.  I don’t know.

This gives me an opportunity to show off some of my cat photos:

A cat that lived in a shop in Greenwich Village, NYC. Photo is hand-tinted.
A Neighbor - hand-tinted photo
Rosebud (1985-1995) on the Porch--hand-tinted photo
My cat Rosie (1985-1995) when she was pregnant. Photo is hand-tinted.

Today is Shakespeare’s Birthday


Title page William Shakespeare's First Folio 1623

The Bard is 447 today.  Why not go to a pub and toast him with an English beer or ale.  Maybe play a game of darts while you are there and hurl Shakespearean insults at your opponents.  Here are some of his quotes that you can use.

There’s no room for faith, truth, nor honesty in this bosom of thine. It is all filled up with guts and midriff.
-Taken from: Henry IV, part I

Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!

Thou bootless doghearted hugger-mugger!

Thou loggerheaded motley-minded joithead!

Thou jarring beetle-headed knave!

Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?  

Thou misbegotten bat-fowling foot-licker!

Asses are made to bear, and so are you. 

Thou fobbing dread-bolted popinjay!

Thou surly unchin-snouted haggard!

Thou spongy spur-galled baggage!

Thou burly-boned base-court hugger-mugger!

[Thou art] spacious in the possesion of dirt.
-Taken from: Hamlet

If you watch the video below, you will see why it’s relevant to this post.

For the more serious in mind:

Below Nureyv and Fonteyn dance Romeo and Juliet.

“Winning” My Film Based on the Life of James Joyce

Currently, I am plowing through Ulysses. It’s going to take me forever, because I look up words and read commentary on each chapter as I go. My reading, with a few words influenced by a certain current event dominating the news this week (talk about your stream-of- consciousness. It was like a person’s stream-of-consciousness being released on the outside of himself into the media), gave me the idea for my above video.

When I read, I don’t get ideas for books to write, but I get ideas for videos I want to make. Maybe this is only a temporary thing with me, but I’m really having so much fun that I think I will keep doing it until I find something else that is even more fun.

My stream-of-consciousness thought for today, but once I release it outside of myself, it’s no longer stream-of-consciousness:

In Ulysses, Stephen says “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” I believe he is referring to Ireland’s history, but this quote works on many different levels. It could also apply to our own personal history. Isn’t our personal history, in other words, past bad memories and unfortunate events and lazy patterns established, something that we need to get over, in other words, awake from. All these bad memories (nightmares) from the past, cause sleep or withdrawal from the world in present time–keeping us from being totally awake.

[Joyce considered Stream-of-Consciousness a technique to be used in writing, not a style or a genre.]

You might be interested in reading three other posts I wrote on Joyce:  (1)Ineluctable Modality of the Visible and (2) James Joyce’s 129th Birthday Today, and (3) James Joyce on Art and Artists.

James Joyce on Art and Artists

I’ve been reading Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. As the character of Stephen, Joyce’s doppelganger, in this autobiographical novel, Joyce says a lot about Art. Since Art is the subject that seems to interest me the most of anything in this world, I especially relished these comments from Joyce, which seems, to me, acute.

Joyce on Art and Artists

    (quotes)

The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I used the general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.

_____________

The personality of the artist, at first a cry or a cadence or a mood and then a fluid and lambent narrative, finally refines itself out of existence, impersonalizes itself, so to speak.  The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination.  The mystery of esthetic, like that of material creation, is accomplished.  The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

__________________

To him she would unveil her soul’s shy nakedness, to one who was but schooled in the discharging of a formal rite rather than to him, a priest of the eternal imagination, transmuting the daily bread of experience into the radiant body of everliving life.

Soul is the form of forms. From Ulysses
__________________

You might be interested in reading two other posts I wrote on Joyce:  (1) Ineluctable Modality of the Visible and (2) James Joyce’s 129th Birthday Today.  See my 1-minute film about Joyce called Winning.