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Paul Tracy DANISON
Paris, France
Coach humanist
Interests: Human potential
Recent Activity
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Beyond words:the piano is tuned and the chair is a sight for sore eyes. At Le Bal perdu bistro, rue Charles Graindorge, Bagnolet It is said that art changes minds and certainly, hearts; maybe that’s true. It certainly can unexpectedly expose the viewer to, literally, another way of looking at a same old, same old trope. For instance, after many years of conscientiously analyzing the Oedipal hamster wheel that constitutes his fruitless, but not disagreeable, life, Italo Svevo’s Zeno concludes that he doesn’t die only because his organs have no common sense of direction to collapse into. Thus, Zeno believes that, in the end, the unexamined part of self rules life’s roost. My intentions, though sometimes gasping now in the rare air of worldly wisdom, as well as my organs, thanks be, are still in good enough shape to take me past the Point Rouge Gallery on the rue de Dahomey. With its 15 participating galleries mostly in the 11th and 4th arrondissements, both stuffed with good cafés, bistros and bars, the Minimenta small format exposition is a treat for walkers and an excellent opportunity to start small to start collecting Dahomey abuts, not incidentally, the rue Faidherbe, where a smiling, preternaturally smooth-mannered barmaid, if told about the injustices inflicted on me (perhaps even on you) by a certain curly-haired woman of a certain age, promotes a complex theory of lies that might seriously shake the moral resolve of such other persons as would need to hear it. Such eyes! But, back at it. I’m with Zeno’s general point that, when all is said and done, there is no elaborable point to action and less factually deliberate direction to its doing. In short, my fanciful or evasive scenarizations apart, I do not generally know why I do things, let alone the initial or final import of such same things in the real world – i.e. what I actually do and what the real outcome of it will be or, rather, how spectators might describe that outcome. If they can perceive it, that is. Largely speaking, I mean. Things do just seem to happen or not and is as does. No? Besides, really looking into all the unconscious muck slopped up by life’s too-rapid progress might be dangerous. Mightn’t it? Given how troublesome all these pesky truthisms are, I prefer to stay with the prejudices I have carefully developed. For example, the comforting prejudice that darkness, allegory for the unconscious mind, is peopled by unfathomable monsters, symbols of unredeemed anguish, and, finally, darkness is usually found, but not strictly so, under the bed, metaphor for the quivering Self. So, back to the Point Rouge gallery on the rue Dahomey. All this desperate previous reflection, including that barmaid's theories and those two pints and unburdening myself, is why Richard Lallier’s paintings there caught my eye. Already in the light: Richard Lallier plays midwife to the emerging light beneath the dark That is, elbowing my way through the gallery and suddenly catching sight... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
The streets of Paris and the country lanes of France’s Southwest are the settings of choice for my personalized coaching walkabouts, designed to give legs to your ideas and decisions, whether these concern your professional or personal life. For me... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2017 at THINKING WALKS IN PARIS
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The Bistro Le Bal perdu, where the arts have the chair, Bagnolet, France Painter Véronique Nérou’s Paris galleries include Le Coin des Arts, Art Aujourd'hui and Peinture Fraiche. She can also be contacted through her site. I met Véronique Nérou through one of her paintings, which mysteriously popped into my consciousness through Googleplus, a web application that I don’t understand and can’t use and have had the pleasure of sorting through canvases one more pre-possessing than the next. Véronique and I had a conversation in the Bal Perdu this past winter. What follows are the things that struck me as I later wrote out notes of our talk. Now living beween Thailand and India, with Paris as her port d’attache, Nérou determined early to become a painter. She made her way through the famous Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux arts de Paris partly by sketching portraits in the street. If nothing else, she told me, her experiences made her aware of market realities. Nérou says she is reaching for the un-storied image her landscape-inspired painting. As a person and artist, Nérou looks to painters René Laubiés and Josef Sima. European by culture but born in Morocco, French by nationality but living a good part of his life in Kerala (India), Laubiès, who began working as a painter in Paris in 1949 and died working as a painter in Mangalore in 2006, is known for “abstract landscapes” and he is promoted as an ascetic, probably because of his strong India connection. Nérou seems to paint warmth, pushing geometry and color to give up their cosmological connections. A friend of poets and poetry, Laubiès also proves that the wide world is made up of small, intimate circles that join together those of us who are apparently strangers. Laubiès, as well as friend and mentor to the painter sitting in front of me, whom I did not know existed sx months ago, was a friend of Black Mountain poet Robert Creeley. Creeley was a professor of mine; he taught me how to love poetry as well as all about William Carlos Williams in the late 1970s. As I sit listening to Nérou, I notice that someone has left two books on the cluttered bookshelf behind her: a guide to Southern India and an idiot’s guide to quantum mechanics. Laubiès was an aesthetic disciple of Prague-born Josef Sima, who worked in Paris from 1921, dying there in 1971. Like Laubiès, Sima was a friend of poets. These, founders of a surrealist-associated review called Le Grand jeu, of which Sima was artistic director, included the French-language poets René Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte and Roger Vailland. They were, as Sima was, less fascinated by the esthetic impact of the bizarre and more genuinely fascinated by human beings’ sublime connections with the cosmos to which we belong – André Bretton read them all out of surrealism fairly early on. Sima is best known for his painterly interest in the archetypal and symbolic qualities of painterly representation. TD: With... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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None of those boys know the first thing about your fantasy/And if they try they cannot do it just like me – “Come Get It Bae”, Pharrell Williams Trying to break the ice, I said, “You know, Karine, I heard something that sent a chill up my spine…” Marine Le Pen and Dad Jean-Marie at her law-school graduation. The ingratitude of children is sharper than a serpent's tooth but necessary to the witches' brew of French poilitics. A British polling guy, I continued, has said that the demographic of the British protest vote has grown with the aging baby boomers and with this growth of grumpy codgers the tendency is to utter unpredictability in how the protest vote will shape out. He said that it was this tendency to insouciant protest that destroyed Britain’s Liberal Democrats … “Where’s the menu?” Karine said, looking past me, for a waiter. I have always liked to be with Karine, of course. For one thing, she’s so good-looking that I have always felt other men must surely be jealous of me, Mister Tracy-in-luck. That’s balm to me, though this is saying perhaps too much to a passel of strangers. For another thing, I was long besotted with her. A propos of lasting and letting go. When Nicolas Sarkozy got himself nominated for president for the first time – 10 years ago now, is it? – Karine slapped her newspaper down on the table and, literally, vibrating, like a cat’s tail, with indignant disgust, hissed out that she’d never, ever, been able to bear that “nasty little man”, that “slimy little shit”, that, that, that “leetle rooster odieux”! You will have noticed that Karine has properly been cited as using the present perfect, both to express a present distaste for that era’s odious little man and indicating a longstanding basis for said distaste. And well she might have done. For, though his personal odiousness, along with the scandals that spring, tumble and jeer around him like maddened jongleurs wherever he goes, have generally worn down even his hardiest would-supporters, the Sarkozy number is still much in view five long years after merited defeat. The medias brim still with the self-important remarks and empty wisdoms of this little engine that wants to still, a full 30 years after he first started waving frantically at the cameras. Sarkozy is a pattern of a typical French political big stick. He, or, from time to time, she, flails the country’s dead horses for what seem a thousand years and then are dead. This is what the expression “France millénaire” actually refers to: “Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC): thousand-year-old politicians, cheese or eggs.”. Look in the Robert if you don’t believe this. It’s pay-per-view, but it’ll be worth it if you believe me in the first place next time around. Among this cycle’s presidentiables - that is, among those whom elite consensus determines can be president - , this incredible political longevity is not true only for Emmanuel Macron, a leading... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Even the famous place are looking askew. Or is it me? No. Not me. Under winkie-ism, I can sincerely blame you. Right off the bat to reflections à la française: fake news, fake sentiments, fake ideas, alternative realities. I can see the enmisting Invalides, a former military hospital and veteran’s home turned into a rather ironic monument to France’s martial prowess. Following the inevitable rout of France’s incompetently-led armed forces in 1940, the egregious Hitler made an effort to gain support from the country’s strong and anti-democratic National Right – made up, in spirit, and, in fact, of many of the same people whose 100-proof political spite combine with a thorough lack of military nous, mirabile dictu! led to the destruction of their old enemy, la République, la gueuse, that nasty, hoi-polloi-coddling whore, Marianne, as many of them often put it at the time. Hitler felt the French National Right should be made to feel as comfortable with thorough National Socialist German victory as they were with giving the Republican whore and its supporters a thorough fucking over. Hitler’s idea was to bring the ashes of Napoléon’s tragically prematurely-dead boy, his only heir, tragic infant King of Rome, fondly called, in his time, “Little Eagle”, there, to les Invalides, true seat of French racial pride, there to “sleep” eternally beside his doting Father, formerly beloved & feared Emp’reur des français, scourge of Europe, as Hitler himself, a world-historical figure, and model for a certain type of overwritten Romantic Hero. He thought marketing such an alternative reality worthy of at least a small investment of looted resources. But, you cry, What sane person could possibly be struck favorably by such fake language conveying such fake sentiments, such fake history… such, such, such guff? Well. Such persons apparently did exist to be favorably struck, since the next thing you know there were high officials in the French state calling for German victory, blithely sending the cops out to round up, among other Republican hoi-polloi, “racial aliens”. So, fake works. The alternative realities thus constructed have before now been able to work to the catastrophic disadvantage of the few and of the many, without distinction. This is strange for anybody who has the vague belief that people generally seek their self-interest. My eye lights on the Invalides’ sublime cupola. I am put in mind of a pornographic film featuring a fake cheerleader and, if possible, an even more fake “intellectual” nerd, well-hung, however, having vigorous anal sex. The film sticks in my mind because, wincing greatly, the fake cheerleader exclaims, “I love this – I don't know why." Why? Could it be the money? Not likely. The fame, then? Not credible. A friend of mine, whose sexual predilection is “bottoming” with other men, once confided, while pacing feverishly back and forth in front of my bed, that he had anal sex only and uniquely for love. “Otherwise,” he cried, glaring at me as if I were responsible for this unhappy state of his... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Beyond words at the Bal perdu bistro How do contemporary creators live and what do they make of it? There are thousands of artists working in in France today. If I had the nerve, not to speak of the time to listen to the end of the story, I’d ask each artist I meet, What do you live on? How do you live? And What’s your mood and attitude as you face the first two questions? I’d do this because, myself a person with what they used to call a “checkered” story and, except for one small detail, an uncertain future, I’ve often supposed that someone besides my sweet boy might, after that one future certitude has kicked in, wonder how I looked at my life and managed my practical means and ends, compared, say, with the way Savage, Johnson or Boswell looked at and managed theirs? It is impossible to know how far any individual responses of any individual artist to such questions represent some general reality usefully comparable to whatever. All the same, when a series of even partial responses to even one of the three interesting questions, it might provide a starting point for other artists to put together their own, more complete, responses. Thus, using Tracy’s Lives of the Artists, handbook for the artistically perplexed, those who have not yet kicked on through to certitude could begin putting together a pastiche of first-hand stories that could help them understand their own situations. Lyonnesse, Lyonnesse, Christine Champagne: "Creation is a sort of élan, a surge of presence from within me…" So, when Christine Champagne, an artist working well beyond words today, wrote me a letter that touched intelligently on What do you live on? How do you live? What’s your mood and attitude? I saved and translated her words & sense to put together the essay that follows. “I am looking at water and the sense I have of it”, Christine began, “So as to thread some video-sculptures and photos that I now have in my head around it (water). I am learning new stuff also… and in coming months I’ll be hand-developing my photos, which requires a little bit of set up! I am also on a team project on an angel theme where I will be doing the B&W photography. O! Yes. I am also modeling for a photographer friend: a pleasant, and also, a learning, experience on and about the other side of the lens; also learning some new techniques and a new way to look at my métier.” Christine then went on to tell me about her experience living and working as an artist today in Paris, in France, saying that, basically, now, a working creator today – one who is not already in the infinitely small rank that makes up the publicly recognized “artist” on the private market or who is supported in some other way by the public market – cannot make a living as an artist, even in a small... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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When our (metaphorically) broad-shouldered poets get to grips with the visual arts, reader depth perception should likely improve “Piano tuned”. “The Chair”. A seat at Le Bal perdu, 2, rue Charles Graindorge, Bagnolet, France. I will be making regular contributions on the visual arts in France and Europe under the category “Beyond words: visual arts”. For me, “visual arts” mostly means contemporary dance, circus and the various forms of visual representation (painting), but can certainly mean any non-language based creative effort – Daniel Linehan’s “dbdbh”, a truly fine dance performance at the Centre Pompidou last year, is a paradoxical example: Linehan invented a language then danced it, or, by dancing, created a language! Whatever, it was a cool idea and well-danced. Why not write it up it? Since gadding about is my preferred method for general doing, it is by gadding that I shall make my choices of which and whose visual endeavors to think and write about under Beyond words: that’s as close to random as I can come. I’d like other poets to join me in contributing ideas and observations to “Beyond words”. They, you, decide, as I shall, what creations fit the bill. We shall say that all felt divergence between us adds to healthy creative tension: all to the good then, for this, the best of all possible endeavors. Join with me, friends, in exploring Beyond words. After all, if words have their uses, nothing is less sure than their true value. Do words make worlds or do worlds make for words? Was the Word there at the Beginning and will Strangled Whisper mark the End? Or did Bang begin it all and shall fire and ice finish it off? Poets, warriors and the people in their wisdom say both. While whole empires have been built on words, words, words, each and every one of them has one day fallen apart for critical lack of content – whether bread or just plain sense of it all. By contrast, visuality, even when it’s a mirage, never fails. And it just keeps on keeping on. One look has made me fall in love, many times; the touch of a finger, the sleight of a hand, the crunch of gravel, have set exquisite shivers of both lust and fear up my spine in anticipation; sight has taken my breath in endless wonder; silence has made me pause in intellectual, mystical and moral reflection. “Stopped in my tracks” by a word and “Stopped in my tracks” by what I see, then, are absolutely two different norms of experience. A word is always somewhere a word of command, a world already ordered, delivered and installed by expert craftsmen. See and touch and hear are to stand on the threshold of understanding. Join with me Beyond words. Poets ought to explore those arts that strive to show rather than say. This is obvious, but I’ll use words to prove it, anyway. Gadabouts go gadding so as to scope and shape Otherness. Gadding... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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A New Year card from artist Isabelle Braud which strikes me as wonderful. The legend says something like “On Route 2017”. The afternoon of 3 January, the title of a mail I received was, Pour la 200ème fois aujourd’hui, bonne année ! – “For the 200th time today, Happy New Year”. Indeed, from midnight plus one millisecond (but never before) the first, and then right up to last day of the month, the French nation will be wishing each other happy new year, along with all sorts of nice, somewhat personalized, other things such as new furnishings, good sex or a modicum of success, etc. But whatever other sentiments, they will ineluctably be followed on with a “but, especially, good health”. Without good health, it is commonly believed among this culture group, despite all the evidence to the contrary, nothing is possible; the wish for good health is a sort of universal codicil on the General Will towards a more perfect year. At the risk of sounding like the deluded slavey in Down and Out in Paris & London who admires the mean behavior of some American brute – expecting the help to hop to it and with enthusiasm or get their wages docked or some such – I say there is something magnificent in all this bonne annéeing. I don’t say one doesn’t get really fed up with it after the first two or so days, because, Golly!, one does. Worse still is gauchely bonne annéeing somebody who wouldn’t or won’t or shouldn’t bonne année you. One thinks of one’s downstairs neighbor. However, in spite of such inconveniences, the rigorously unacknowledged Puritan in me insists on approving forcing everybody, without exception, to bonne année for a month together, even those one would rather not bonné année, even those who bonne année through gritted teeth, if one wishes to be seen as a worthy human being, sans histoires. I admit, I don't know what's going on in this wonderful country’s cachots (and nobody can or will tell me there are none). Do today's crop of suspects with a political grievance say bonne année? Or is bonne annéeing one of those things that makes “Abrahamic” religions so colorful, like the prohibition of accidentally brushing against a woman, not already or yet a slave, born on a Wednesday in a leap year with a large clitoris, who may or not, have her period, and/or, of drinking soda water on Thursday evenings for which the temple tax has not been previously paid by an authorized representative? Probably. As we live in a free society, cachotiers must surely be exempt from bonne annéeing. So, as I was saying, the principle of obliging ordinary people to wish each other well, even if it's only once a year and requires only mumbling the obviously false good health wish into the white noise of a malfunctioning hard disk, seems to me a socially salutary principle. There are advantages to the principle, which may, possibly even eventually involving... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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This anecdote is perfectly true. This morning a guy with a white hussar-style mustache and heavy East European accent grabbed my arm as I was passing under a soaring concrete viaduct. Pardon, M’sieur, the hussar said, But has this viaduct always been here? I said, Mais, oui. He replied, I have passed here every day for 20 years and, do you know, Sir, I have never noticed the thing before? He strode off and I continued on. As I passed the passage des Soupirs (Sighs), also this morning and as I also do nearly every morning, I noticed that it is quite deep-set, set back away from the rue des Pyrénées. Suddenly, I realized, the passage of sighs might be more profound than I had thought. I haven’t been publishing much in this latter half of the year now dying. You could be wondering why. Of course, I certainly wouldn’t be the first to walk these fabled streets of Paris with words sticking in my head rather than flowing onto some handy foolscap. Still, I would hope you would be wondering – if only because I’m one of those hearts whose cockles warm when someone says, “O, Good to see you; I’d hoped you weren’t sick!” You may be thinking – even Karine, even she – may be thinking, “Surely, Nervous-Nelly-Tracy-wacy is all upsetty-wetty, what with the election of you-know-who.” (The other day I saw her unexpectedly, unsteady on her high-high heels, picking her way down the steps of the Opéra Garnier – that would be just after three pieces by Jiri Kylian.). Also, she might think, I’m put off the public pen by the disheartening prospect of more political boobery blowing in on me from the Gallic, or, even, Teutonic, political territories. But, as Richard Nixon and his aides famously added to every bright idea, that would be wrong. Karine would be wrong. (Her high-heels are no joke, especially if it’s slippery. She almost missed her step as I watched, too far away to catch her arm! Boy, what a disaster that might have been; she loves dancing so, a limp of any sort would devastate the woman. I’ve always loved her thin, muscly, almost stringy arms, her tough made-for-work hands – she might very well have really hurt her back as I looked on.). Certainly, none of this can explain nonpublication, can it? As long as I’m still out of Hell and can know it, neither that American man of the little winkle and disinflatable ego, nor that exceptionally coarse Madame Marine Lepen of the République française nor the oddly-but appropriately-named Frau Frauke Petry of the Bundesdeutschesrepublik have dominion over me or my imagination. The rhetorical pitchforks of these political demons break no bones, you see, and, even if, here-below, seem is so often be in waiting, their sulfurous words are no brimstone; there is a diabolic reek, however. Also, remember, I am a philosopher; Voltaire is my tinhorn god. I therefore expect very little from a species... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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And, you thought, if anyone did, Saint Nicholas would know the unique truth of love. Alas, in Babylon, even he must sometimes lay himself down and analyze. I happened to be paying attention this time. 2016 proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each human being is really unique. Not namby-pamby unique, but really, tough-Charlie, unique. If this uniqueness were not so, how then would we explain so many inexplicable events? Also, the uniqueness of be is why the very good Fifi is so good and why I still do perversely love, have perversely loved, will perversely love, the very bad Karine instead of the so-good Fifi and vice-versa and so on. Perversities induced by uniqueness are the root of comedy and of tragedy, Aristotle might have said if he'd known quantum mechanics as well as I have come to, without which perversities there would be nothing to ponder and get fussy about over past or coming years. As well as no worthy entertainment. No, not even animal documentaries. So, here’s to l’unique universel: A tough-looking woman smokes a cigarette, gravely blowing the smoke into the morning mist, earphones artfully stuffed into her ears. She swings, very, very slow to some secret song that almost imperceptibly softens her features. She notices me with rather obvious neutrality. It’s not our first time together at the bus stop. I think she’s attractive. We get on before and behind each other, then quickly find a casual way to exchange a noncommittal first-time word or two. As we turn casually to resume looking neutrally out the window, I notice a little gold star of David around her neck. I wonder what she’s found out about me? A little girl of whom I see only the mother’s laughing face is noisily hidden in the part of the madding crowd packed in behind me. Somewhere under my knees, she’s now singing a French version of The Farmer in the Dell, a radical switch from a flow of interesting questions and pertinent observations directed at her wide-eyed mother – O, this child does adore words, words, words. Words will do anything if only we will let her keep shaping them, firing them, laying them out for all to hear… A guy dressed in cheap gym pants, tee-shirt and baseball cap. He’s decorated with gang tattoos. He sports an “Islamic” beard. I am reminded of the story of Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s savage counterpart and friend. Most, most delicately, he plucks a newly-arrived baby from the arms of its mother, ritually taking possession. Growling softly, he presses the tiny body against his chest, closes his eyes in ordinary ecstasy. The story goes that seven days with the temple prostitute did to civilize Enkidu. A little English-speaking boy perched next to my ear sings a loud counterpoint to the Frenchified Farmer in the Dell. I recognize it as an Army boot-camp marching song: Ain’t no use in lookin’ down, he cries, Ain’t no discharge on the groun’. I twist my head. “Big... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Rue des Pyrénées, Paris 20ème, a shoemaker's display window I shall buy a silver boat. I shall be its captain. It shall be a bark and I upon its poop. At the helm, Commander of the ocean’s broad rage. Commander of the fury of the waves. My silver bark shall skip, jump, cannon, fly. For I shall pass over eagles under Yahweh’s restless eye, For I shall steer above the dizzying globe. For I shall spin the wheel, This way, then that. Cracking, snapping, billowing sails shall carry me beyond. And breathless, above, Over the world’s worsening wickedness. For, as I buy, no snaggle-tooth shoemaker shall have dominion over me, For, as I command, no seller of hats nor haberdasher shall have dominion over me, For, as I steer, no fire-breathing philosopher nor rabbi shall have dominion over me. I, I, I am deathless; I shall have no name to be forgotten nor recalled. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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I was searching through my electronic calendar to see what was coming up on my personal agenda. Without my asking, it reminded me that November 13th has been proclaimed a Day of Mourning – a year to the day since some crazy bastards hopped up on religion and righteousness massacred... Continue reading
Reblogged Nov 13, 2016 at PAUL TRACY DANISON, COACH
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When intimate strangers, those who were in but not of our lives, disappear, no understudy gets patched in to the piece. Neither players nor spectators pay much attention, but their absence – an absence of possibility – is writing a whole new piece. « Faces » from Natacha Panot’s "Fractures" series I was searching through my electronic calendar to see what was coming up on my personal agenda. Without my asking, it reminded me that November 13th has been proclaimed a Day of Mourning – a year to the day since some crazy bastards hopped up on religion and righteousness massacred more than 200, mostly young, people as they ate and drank, danced, chatted and flirted. My concerns were more immediate than thinking about the moribund past. The past? The inconsequential past is what Today’s Winners say it is. Yes? Anyhow, Karine and I like the romantic singer song-writer sweet-voiced Katie Melua. Last Spring, I saw she was coming to town in November and, acting on a newly-acquired principle of “acting now is always right action,” bought tickets. What could possibly go wrong with such long-term planning of a little handholding to songs like “Just like heaven” and “Thank you, Stars” at the gorgeous, famous Olympia concert hall in downtown Paris? But needs must sometimes; I had forgotten to mention it to Karine until a week before the day, only to discover she was out of town – tickets bought, arrangements made, paying customers waiting. Since I can barely survive being alone the time of a single night’s sleep and I’d rather lose the money than go to the trouble of re-selling a paid-for ticket, I had to hunt for somebody free to come and who likes mushy music. At four days and counting, no takers; I’d even asked a nodding acquaintance from the gym! At this point, Fifi, Karine’s frangine, as they say, naturally came to mind. ‘Though her cultural tastes run to the Velvet Underground, Goth, Heavy Metal and Frida Kahlo, she’s very easily imposed upon. I called and left a self-pitying message outlining the service she could render, not neglecting to point out how much better something always is when done with a pretty woman. Mourning? Remembrance of a massacre? Remembering, let alone talking or writing about the substantial marrow of the November 13th serial mass murders in Paris makes me feel powerlessly angry: I am quite sure that such anger somehow puts me in the power of the murderers and their handlers. That can’t be good and must be bad for the heart in all senses. I have no idea of writing about murder or remembering murderers. I will say, though, that, apart from stirring fear & hatred and anger & cloudy, blood-eyed thoughts, the enduring evil of murder, political or personal, is the un-mendable hole it tears out of the tapestry of daily life: the instrument maker known only by sight, the shy young woman once permanently, silently, perched at the far end of the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Recursive quality of troublesome Concomitant Reality again spotted at Pyr�n�es crossing The origination battered-truck where the world snarl standing wave daily begins. Blame the worried guy if you will. Buy him a better hair pomade if it pleases. Find him... Continue reading
Reblogged Nov 11, 2016 at THINKING WALKS IN PARIS
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Recursive quality of troublesome Concomitant Reality again spotted at Pyrénées crossing The origination battered-truck where the world snarl standing wave daily begins. Blame the worried guy if you will. Buy him a better hair pomade if it pleases. Find him a bigger and less-nervous female companion on a upscale dating site. Stop your ears against the baby’s squall, turn your head away, your eyes ceiling-ward. But though it’s just a bratty kick under the table, it’s all gonna happen. Poetically speaking. Standing Waves. Since they make a kaleidoscope of our otherwise only apparent dull perception of the world around, we all know all about those. Even in Paris, Left Bank, late afternoon. Karine cares nothing for Standing Waves. She makes it known with a pout backed-up with a viper-fast foot. But, although also kicked under the table with a patent-leather shoe, which is in no way a fit for Cinderella, Fifi, who is, after all, Karine’s blood-sister and raised in the same cultural pigsty, Fifi, she cares for Standing Waves. She raises her long-stemmed beer glass to within a millimeter of my nose and cries, “Trace! Here is to la physique quantique!” “Damn our eyes,” I reply, and rashly kiss the tip of her pugnacious little nose with a drop of the chilly dew on the elongated barrel of my own long-stemmed beer glass. We drink the dregs. Mmmm. Karine frowns largely and thins her lips, raises her eyes ceiling-wards, hands motionless but tense on the table’s probability horizon. This sisterly contrast, I think, certainly says something to me about Standing Waves, perhaps, even, as Fifi suggests in her toast, about quantum physics. For instance, just as, quantically-speaking, I am myself as dead as I’ll ever be, my dear Fifi and Karine my love are sisters as sisterly as they’ll ever be, no matter how the probability horizon resolves; ditto my love, hers, mine & hers, love as lost now as loving will ever be. Who can know what can be said at any given time about anything? Just so with the evils of the world. I have very little experience of ‘em; I know 'em only at a distance. I can't say much about the origins of the evils of the world because I can’t even pretend to know much. This is proved by my inability to know whether Karine or Fifi are sisters or only as sisterly-as they ever will be. Or even if Fifi’s toast was mockery or her sister through my agency or even if it was sisterly or ill-meant. So, unfortunately, just as my father once cheerily prophesied before a particularly good spanking, it will ever be out of my power to profit from anybody’s credulity, let alone the consequent disarray, disillusion and despair – which is where the cream is: no documentary videos, no hefty explicatory books, no early-morning TV pleas for financial help, no populist presidential bids. I’m not saying here that I don’t think Standing Waves are involved in the world’s evils... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Coincidence debunked or coincidence surprised? The other day I was on my way to my workplace near rue Menilmontant; the metro was just clattering out of the elevated la Chapelle station toward, all too appropriately, Stalingrad. Lost, as usual, in the riot of thoughts and feelings that engulfs me when I am not actually faced with a firing squad or business meeting, my basic wish was to go elsewhere, almost anywhere, but work. And, just as I was reproaching myself yet again for yet one more of my usual non heroic attitudes, I looked up to see Fifi, Karine’s sister, flashing before my eyes. Like destiny. I love Fifi; we are great friends; she has the knack of being bad gaily; we share that. Face almost flat on the glass, I was sure it was her. Sure she was making a silly face in the window of the train that was just that moment passing in the opposite direction from mine, toward Barbès-Rochechouart, at the dirty big toe of Montmartre. Who else could it be? In the whole of realm of France, what other forty-something woman would be mugging at a métro window like that first thing in the morning? But, prudence! Just the day before this totally unexpected, potentially happy, potential answer to my fonder wishes and, apparently, fantastically coincidental, encounter with Fifi, I had attentively listened to a National Public Radio program that explained coincidence in mathematical and psychological terms. These terms were supposed to extract the mysteriousness from coincidence and, so doing, make another, existential delusion dry up and blow off into the ash heap of debunked superstition. It may just be that I am so often and so utterly mystified by what goes on that I can no longer even understand things that are crystal clear to everybody else, but I was mystified by both the mathematics and the psychology. Concretely, the mathematics demonstrated beyond a doubt that a woman who has so far won four different lotteries four different times has reduced the odds of her winning each time she has won, from some ridiculously high number to one with only 15 or so zeros. Coincidence? What nonsense! In addition, it was explained, there were plenty of factors, such as the woman’s liking for gambling and her increased ability to do so, that should put a stop to all the breathless talk of coincidence. At only 10 or so zeros, we listeners were sternly informed, the woman’s chances of winning are now much higher than at first! Obviously, if she wins again, there won’t be the slightest coincidence in it; we’ve been warned. My face might have showed surprise like this when Fifi whizzed past in the other métro. Psychological terms provided the pièce de conviction, as you say in French, to the mathematical proofs. Surprise, it turns out, is one of the six human emotions (anger, fear, disgust, happiness and sadness are the five others – they group together just like 0s&1s do to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Secretary Mimi, caught by a security camera, hurrying away after her ‘secret speech’ to the Intergalactic Interspecies Assembly in the Paris Catacombs last Friday. In the background, long-time “good friend” and companion, Assembly President Calypso. There is a cat… a calico Tom... with whom I have become fast friends. He bears the good old-fashioned name of Foulques, is yellow, young, dashing, of soft claw and satiric eye. Foulques and I first met when he wished to pay me an uninvited visit. A firm refusal accompanied by a virtuoso-level spine stroke cum ear scratch surprised him as much as his exceptional good grace in clearing off surprised me. When later I told Foulques of my wonder at his gentle manner, he related that he too could not help wondering about that kick that never came, about a firm refusal borne in a sweet caress, about the personal story behind it all. Somehow, though I never cease to speak of my Foulkes, Karine has never met this remarkable feline. Yet, Foulques & I, as do Karine & I, share much besides un penchant fort for scratching and rubbing; perhaps the stars are crossed in this. Foulques and I have become the tenderest of confidants. The strong jawed calico freely recounts the stultifying dynastic complexities of being scion of Feline Mercury, the Cat House responsible for delivering interspecies communications. The natural great-grandson of Behemoth, Foulques listens with perfect sympathy as I, Peter Pan’s bastard, confide my own existential frettings and fumings. And, if truth be told, Foulques, whose interests range from fossil fish anatomy to flapping butterfly wings, is no more made for delivering messages between species than I am for shacking up with Wendy. I raised my eyebrows high, then, at the slender Feline Mercury heir’s serieux as he thrust a press release detailing Friday’s dire doings inside the Intergalactic Interspecies Assembly at the Catacombs. “Read, mon ami! Please.” “Aux ordres, mon capitaine!” I murmur, sketching a vague salute. I often call Foulques “Captain”. It’s his poise, air of command, I suppose. Under a headline, “Assembly resolves human descent imbroglio”, I read, After many months of wrangling, presentations from an interspecies team of geneticists sitting on the Intergalactic Distinguished Scientists Advisory Panel today showed Assembly members that humans, previously thought to be descended from simians, are, in fact, descended from felines, specifically, cattus cattus. The finding was much anticipated. Cats are a more developed order of primitive bear, the experts confirmed, which explains certain prehensile characteristics in humans as well as that species’ pseudo-bipedalism, that is, crawling often but not consistently. Images comparing human ear hair patterns (above) with those of felines (above right) recently released by the Intergalactic Institute for Genetical and Memological Studies definitively point to a feline ancestry for human beings, turning up the heat on the Gradualist replacement strategies adopted by the Extraterrestrial Organization for Higher-Order Being and championed by Secretary Mimi. This photograph shows the remarkable similarity in hair patterns in feline and human ears. The presentations... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Series 1, Part 2: On whether she comes running at the snap of my fingers, the bonheur of Fifi here-below, the righteous rage of the Ohio-soul, a woman’s wrath, the true niceties of human nature, the real story of the French revolution and America’s real choice. “These conges payés …” Karine begins, “We French would not have paid vacations or any other pretty good things at all, at all, if they had not been stealing poor children to use their blood in a black magic formula for staying young.” On cue, Gabriella Cilmi, not quite Amy Winehouse, floats from the sound system - Nothin’ sweet/ About me, yeah/Nothin’ sweet/About me, yeah/ If there's lessons/To be learned/I'd rather get/My jamming words/In first, so/Tell you something/That I've found/That the world's/A better place/When it's/Upside down… “One hot summer day,” Karine continues, “The mamans couldn’t support it, finally! Pouf! The Bastille falls and all France is in flame! Hourra! Hourra! And the French girls are not silly! So, when the mamans without culottes hear that that duc d’Orléans crétin try to kidnap the King and Queen and steal the Revolution, they are not so much rolled in the flour that they don’t get the buttery king Baker and his little queeny Boulangère to Paris before the big tough guys of le duc know what is what. Hahaha. Hourra! Hourra!” She points casually to herself as she picks up the milk coffee, brings it silently to her lips, sips. “Alors, the women got the revolution going and they kept it in the people’s hands, mon Tracy. So, when they realized this revolution stuff was the real thing, sure, they stopped stealing the babies. But more important, mon amour, since then, they are a just little afraid of being too mean even though they are still and always will be des vicieux. “This is just because they are humans. They cannot help it, not more than goats can help it. I do not criticize it but only have the sense to live with.” The knowledge that there is always a chance that French mamans start a revolution is, according to Karine, where nice things such as paid vacation for the masses began. “All the rest is just doctoral feces,” she laughs. “I have figured this out myself.” - Hmmmm, I say noncommittally. She archly raises her left eyebrow. “Alors? Don’t believe me?” In France, gratitude and recognition, if you are still alive to appreciate them, are shown by a gourmet dinner and, if you are dead, by naming a street for you. “Regard-moi ça,” she exclaims. “The proof is all around us.” She sweeps her arm largely, taking in the pleasant-seeming people eating, drinking and chatting at the tables around us. If they hadn’t noticed her before, they now do. - Nothin’ sweet/ About me, yeah/Nothin’ sweet/About me, yeah… They think she’s talking about them. Without showing it too much, they strain to hear. “Les gens, all of them, they are very proud that the women... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Series 1, Part 1: On whether she comes running at the snap of my fingers, the bonheur of Fifi here-below, the righteous rage of the Ohio-soul, a woman’s wrath, the true niceties of human nature, the real story of the French revolution and America’s real choice. Aerial photo of here-below, where all the people I’ve ever met live. If you can prove you’ve ever met somebody from somewhere else, I’m your host for a drink on the Champs Elysées. As I turn out from the rue Richard Lenoir, I notice the carrousel in the little triangular square just over Lédru Rollin, where the avenue runs into rue de la Roquette. My Tobias loves to merry-go-round. I hum: the seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down; we’re captive on a carrousel of time… We must have tried every one on the Right Bank. Plus the really good one at the Luxembourg garden. I give the carrousel another glance as I turn into the café and invest a table. We get around, Toby and I. As far as I know, I have not snapped my fingers, not once, since I’ve known Karine, except for when we’re dancing, of course. Otherwise, I can’t keep time. I’m sure she’d despise a man who’s got no rhythm. Here she is, already. She’s at the door, pulling the door, coming in the door from the watery morning sunlight, stepping into the dust-speckled shimmer and shadow of the narrow room. Although my heart is singing, I stay seated, at the farthest end, my hands folded on a newspaper. Almost as soon as she’s framed on the threshold, she catches my eye. She’s breathing hard, as if she’s been running. She mimes a shiver, smiles largely, advances through the morning’s patrons – like Karine and I, the patrons are mostly parents fresh from delivering up their kids to school – makes her way through the thickly spread tables and chairs. Close now. Chiaroscuro. “O! You just look so good,” I say, get up. Close enough now, Karine leans in and kisses me lightly, square on the lips – “You, too” she murmurs. I take her hands in mine; I love that feeling; I want to kiss them, both of them; they nest in mine; I look at her face. Others are looking at her, at me, watching as we unfold us. Karine has never said how she got the scar on her forehead, though surely she believes it mars her beauty…. I have never asked; there must be pains we keep for ourselves, I suppose. As much as I do, I think, Karine does love la Rentrée. I think I can tell she does by the clothes she wears: a long, light, lined loose-weave hemp-cloth coat over her shoulder to catch the unruly breeze. Sorceress? Jane Eyre? Which? I’ll soon see. Worsted wool over twill cotton-linen-flax, silk, greys toward blues; those expensive-type Italian jeans that aren’t Levi’s, made to fit a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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We are not alone, we will never be alone, with our memories of our sweet sons and daughters at the Rentrée. Calculating when France’s New Year – called la Rentrée, “re-entry” – begins and ends is pretty simple. Unlike Chinese New Year, which requires some functional knowledge of “lunisolar” calendars and historic Han migration patterns, you just have to know when most families are back in town after using up most of their accumulated government-mandated, yearly paid-vacation time. That’s around about when the school year starts, the first week of September. In France, as elsewhere, harvest traditions, cooling temperatures and shortening days, along with the new school year, combine to make the end of summer a special moment. But, in most places, and this despite a clear plea from John Keats, the accent is on bittersweet Goodbye. La Rentrée, though, is a beginning, a renewal, a hopeful Hiiiiii again. The On se retrouve à la rentrée! of the month of June is a Happy Holidays! equivalent, meaning “We’ll pick up again in a New Year!”. Rituals of reuniting – retrouvailles – go on throughout the month of September. Families – sure, many, of course, are sick of the enforced togetherness of summer holidays but just as many have been scattered to the winds by the obligations of blended families, summer studies and camp and travel. Families, as well as friends and colleagues enjoy the retrouvailles, but also discreetly celebrate putting on the familiar harnesses that retrain and regulate even our most tender relations. It is good, after all, to get back into the swing of ordinary life. Endlessly invoking the start of school – I am plenty sick of this by the first week of October, let me tell you – is a way of both underlining new beginnings in a broader sense and emphasizing the importance of individual participation in the workplace and in society as a whole. At la Rentrée, in politics, as elsewhere in society, spectacular absurdities and failures can be overlooked and, if convenient, even forgotten, and new ones publically planned and executed. On streets and in offices and shops, people are brisk and mostly relaxed, despite endless warnings and reminders about all manner of dangerously loose -ists and -isms. In private life, rare is the face taut with suppressed distaste or anger; the hell that is the Other has not yet had the time to make the ordinary person hysterical. I am not alone, I think, I shall never be alone, I think, in having golden memories of la Rentrée: of my sweet son, of the touch of his hand, of the sound of his voice, of his little kisses, of our morning strolls to school in the crisp autumn air. Our step is firm. We together share a leisurely stride, Tobias, you and me, an easy-yet-determined progress fit for a new beginning. Hearing still sharp from a long, peaceful night, ears attentively cocked for something possible, something new, we sometimes hear the sharp clink... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Storee OptiK® is one’s analytical model of choice for examining bootless foreign adventure, gender and wealth differentials, social priorities, the threat of foreign-inspired terrorism, or just plain observing a refined selection of one’s preferred worthies and celebrities. As France’s summer vacations juddered to an end, Jean-Claude Mailly, Secrétaire général of Force ouvrière, or FO, announced continued action against the reforms of the country’s labor code. With an independently-estimated 300,000 members in a workforce of 22 million or so, FO is the country’s third-biggest labor union. A coalition of unions, including FO, began street protests and random micro-strikes, especially in transportation, in the early spring. These had petered out by the start of the summer but spokespersons were vowing to continue actions in the fall. The summer holidays are the traditional moment for dropping controversies deemed politically necessary but otherwise senseless. That is, most, if not all, official “social conflicts”. Possibly speaking for the anti-reform coalition, Jean-Claude did not specify how or whose political fortunes might be held hostage and/nor what occasional harassments might be visited on commuters, nor when or where any of these might happen if they should happen. Was Jean-Claude talking about real street protests and strikes or was he all metaphor and allegory, thinking only of meanie-beanie catcalls in the direction of recalcitrant parliamentarians and talking sour grapes to the scribblers and talking heads? However it may be, the pronouncement was enough to make one remember the distinctly un-delicious frisson of hearing, on a dark and deserted suburban train platform, that “in the context of ongoing industrial action by a certain category of staff” the last train had been abruptly cancelled, leaving one stranded in the context of one’s perhaps foolish, possibly disastrous, break up with Karine. In two contexts, then, Jean-Claude was also reminding his hearers that one later would somehow learn, perhaps in the newspaper, but also surely gabbled from a television or radio, that if proof of it were to exist, the cause of the lonely midnight frisson might very well be laid at the door of non-specified union sympathizers somewhere, somewhere presumably vital, who likely probably localized on the clogged Northern freight periphery and were likely blocking transnational thru-traffic most probably in the environs of the Southeast corridor spur. But other scenarios were highly possible. Opposition to labor law reform, one would further learn, might, perhaps, have had something to do with all this. Gawd. But why, Jean-Claude? Why? Why must one finish up the long vacation with such memories? What can the motives be? Indeed, why and wherefore, from February to June, all these trillions of pounds psi of revolutionary rhetoric, protest marches and harassing micro-strikes, all against a law that had already passed parliament in the context of years of debate and discussion? In the context of loneliness as well as confronted with Jean-Claude, one has been able to see that the whys and wherefores of much of French politics, as for those of any country, may only be grokked, never... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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“There're a couple of guys,” I continue, “that say we could tax Facebook & Google and all the others – spammers, too. We could go after them for tax evasion, like Al Capone. Tax ‘em just like we tax the use of other public resources, like land or oil. These fellas say we could use the money to fund a universal minimum income.” Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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I wake in flooding sunlight, I said, a thousand impatient, tiny tongues Licking at shadows, lapping under wood. Along the lane. My lips are cracked and sore, my throat dry. I am tired. Almost dead. Can barely see the toiling sun. Hardly feel Her warming splash soak me, drench me, leaven my sight. Loosen my sense, lighten my bones. She raises me up Her servant – foot-foot, leg-leg, arms, hand-hand, push – I said. To follow (even stumbling.). Her brilliant strand, I tell you this my dear son sick in mind: Her dappling waves. Her slicking asphalt. And Her fine rainbow mirrors. That so much resemble the light that spills from you So. I believe in that first step She is smiling in me. So. I knuckle my eyes. Brush my knees, smooth my hair. And follow, I said. Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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I wake in flooding sunlight, I said, a thousand impatient, tiny tongues Licking at shadows, lapping under wood. Along the lane. My lips are cracked and sore, my throat dry. I am tired. Almost dead. Can barely see the toiling sun. Hardly feel Her warming splash soak me, drench me, leaven my sight. Loosen my sense, lighten my bones. She raises me up Her servant – foot-foot, leg-leg, arms, hand-hand, push – I said. To follow (even stumbling.). Her brilliant strand, I tell you this my dear son sick in mind: Her dappling waves. Her slicking asphalt. And Her fine rainbow mirrors. That so much resemble the light that spills from you So. I believe in that first step She is smiling in me. So. I knuckle my eyes. Brush my knees, smooth my hair. And follow, I said. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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The buck stops either at Drain's End or Over the Rainbow Mystery is the meat and drink of humankind; also, I have seen, a boundless resource of today’s Middle Kingdom. What studiously-indumbrated glyph born in the pure heart of a Zen tagger, what teasing, lion-pawed Sphinx, could mystify more than an elegant ‘end of drainage’ figuring at the end of the bar, put there, perhaps, by the poker-faced Solar-Powered Good Luck Cat smug now in his glass tabernacle above the dusty champagne flutes? The cat figures. The? ‘End’? End figured? End figuring, figurative, prefiguring, prefigurative, prefigured? All Ends? All? ‘Drainage’? Drainage physical? Drainage abstract, locational, virtual? Drainages? Drain the dregs, dredge the drains. Drain the ditches and end the end of the evening at the bottom of the bewitching hour, drained comrades! What should we know? How should we know it? Tell me. What time is it? Should it be? Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2016 at The Best American Poetry