Friday, April 17, 2009


1. I would like to take a poem written in English, translate it into another language, say Spanish, then from Spanish into French, from French into German, and so on, through nine versions in nine different languages, ending with the tenth and final version being a translation back into English.

2. I've been on a Andrei Tarkovsky binge lately, just finished watching one of his movies a few minutes ago, in fact. If you have not seen "Mirror" yet please do so now. It is unspeakably beautiful. I read a book he wrote called "Sculpting in Time" recently as well. Very interesting. Full of quotes like "The purpose of art is to prepare a person for death." He talks about art and movies like Theodore Dreiser, I mean he sounds like a "realist" or a "naturalist," art is about examining life, helping people, beginning with yourself, understand where and why they are, etc. Then you see his movies and you expect to see "Written by a hypnotized Robert Desnos" in the credits. What gives? Well, one thing the book showed me is that Andrei was working from a really broad definition of the word "life." At one point he explicitly says that he considers his own movies more true to life than typical Cinema Vérité or literary naturalism a la Zola. And I have to say, I agree. What I like most about his movies is that there's no point in even talking about them or trying to analyze them when you can just watch them again. Hence the binge. This site has a lot of interesting Andrei-related stuff.

3. I was in the mountains recently, in a house full of books and my friend Bettina Drew. She goes to bed as soon as the sun goes down, I stay up all night reading random things. One was a book by Donald Hall called "Their Ancient Glittering Eyes," a title which is so hoaky I almost didn't type it. It's basically a memoir of his encounters with various poets, some of whom he studied under, others of whom he interviewed when he was poetry editor at the Paris Review. I read a long essay about his interview with Ezra Pound in Rome in 1960 or 61. Pretty interesting. Pound was falling apart by then, this was right before the start of his long silent period. Hall and his wife took him out to dinner and Ezra, not wanting to go home yet, took them all out for gelato afterward. Another thing I read was Lincoln's second Inaugural Address, in which he flat out says that 1. God, as in Old Testament God, is and has been punishing the United States for "the evil of slavery" and 2. in this context "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether," and would be even if the war went on "until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword." I know there's a lot of distasteful Lincoln Porn going on lately, but still, if you think about it, that's a pretty intense thing for a President to say, especially at that time, when the war was still ongoing.

4. And while we're in Bettina's neighborhood, she has an interesting essay up at the Missouri Review about her encounters with Ted Berrigan and Elizabeth Smart near the end of their respective lives.

5. This site has everything Van Gogh ever did on it. All the paintings, drawings, letters. All of it.

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