This is Paul Tracy DANISON's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Paul Tracy DANISON's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Paul Tracy DANISON
Paris, France
Coach humanist
Interests: Human potential
Recent Activity
Image
Parisians woke to this elegant celebration of Idiocy on Tuesday morning. The headline reads: “Attacks by ISIS coming one after another: Terror without end.” The legend: “Yesterday in Las Vegas”. Sources say that Fox News has started legal action against CNewsMatin’s joke writers, for plagiarism but the tourism directorates vows to fight for its original copyright. In addition to the 2024 Olympics, Paris is also host to ongoing celebrations of Idiocy. Tuesday morning Gallic strap hangers were greeted with a remarkable tour de force by the free newspaper CNews Matin with an article linking all homicide, as well as the massive arming of American yahoos and, perhaps, affective penile erection dysfunction, with the ISIS terrorist organization. Noting that Idiocy first arose in Africa when Yahweh denied pissing on Lucy's rhododendrons after a particularly lively bout of sousing with boon companion but new-husband Adam, eternal Emeritus Professor of Obscure Studies at Sorbonne Paris I Panthéon Woland praised newspapers in particular but cautioned against overlooking the absurdity potential of institutions, neighbors, friends and close family. In a tour-de-force display of what some are already calling la Nouvelle idiotie (New idiocy) in celebration of Idiocy, this headline box blithely links the murderous sexual frustration of a Florida nightclub shooter, the murderous venting of a 64-year-ol gun nut in Las Vegas, the knife-murder of two women in the Marseille central train station by an apparently deranged man murmuring ‘Allah Akbhar’ and the ISIS terrorist organization in one seamless factoid. “Paris, with its savoir faire in elegant partying and luxurious living is likely to rival even Washington in spectacles of sublime absurdity and, even, in plain ridiculousness,” said Behemoth, a 200-pound black cat with a broken ear, as well as a trusted Woland bodyguard and firearms expert. Woland pointed to the sheer, barely concealed, cynicism of CNews Matin's journalistic dishonesty as an example of professionalism made in France. "It's not even a big newspaper," sneers Behemoth, "But when these French Coqs crow, well, they cock-a-doodle-do-do like the Big Boys." Behemoth, who also serves as sub-director for Climate-Change Application & Utilisation for the Dominant Species Replacement Project Directorate for the Joint Feline-United Planets Commission on Cosmological Housecleaning, celebrated humanity’s unflinching command of basely sinister absurdity, “It's all so convenient! Hominins – hee-hee, ‘homo sapiens’ –is a friend of Idiocy wherever you find it, in Paris and out of it!” Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
The mixed-media painter and sculpteur Emilie Chaix will probably be surprised to learn that a chat with her nearly two years ago shook my verities, showing that my modest hopes for personal evolution were too modest and my own slowness to change has been a measure of nothing but myself. My checkered career of silent desperation has of course been mostly lived by according most space in it to my knot of unplumbable personal fears. The late Bob, the godless engineer-philosopher appointed to dress my infant nakedness in sturdy shoes, wool trousers and button-down shirts, once summed up, as only the Ohio-born can, what have become my views on the possibility of positive change, evolution and creativity. Theatrically wiping his brow, he caught my eye, asked for the crescent wrench and, with casual finality, remarked, “What of Happiness, Trace?” and went back to whatever dreary household task he had in hand. Obviously, since then, mostly, filial piety oblige, I have been – meetings with mixed-media artists notwithstanding, and in the absence of a Messiah promulgating true low-fat ice-cream – very, very modest in my hopes for personal evolution and better, changed, states and skeptical, too. And, according to some, too damnably slow to change intolerable situations, too. All the same, since Chaix succeeds both in expressing creativity as art and in living creatively (keeping in mind that I don’t think all creative expression is art and I do think we all should strive towards living creatively) these fixed views of mine require some revision. As far as I can see, Chaix must be counted of the “Aquarians”, of those who, unlike myself, were born while Yahweh was adjusting his kippah and who then grew to adulthood while Dad was too concentrated on snaking out the toilet to notice the hopeful twittering in the peanut gallery. Chaix and her work came to my attention because I saw two radically different sides to it in two widely separated places on the same day, while walking with Fifi, Karine’s sister and my dear friend. Fifi, for whom only steamed vegetables can maintain the steel-whip muscles that enclose her, who sleeps four hours a night and has apparently made an energy pact with the demonic powers, walked me in under 30 minutes – she was in heels – from the Porte de Champerret, where we met Chaix and her artistic production, to the top of Montmartre, where we encountered, quite by chance, in a shop window, Chaix’s haute couture work. Fifi thought I should look into it, so I did. Chaix’s stand-alone art creations, like her former work on designer accessories, are composed in varied media – including wood, textile, bone, paint, collage – with a heavy use of textures – and featuring much textile. Her art uses mostly natural colorations, striking me, in person, as very much “sea-born…” I want to say “primitive” – but “primitive” could be taken to imply the “naïve” or the “ritual-tribal” art borrowings used in luxury accessories. Chaix’s... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
Nadia Vadori-Gauthier’s 60-second micro-political resistance videos open doors, bring out the poetic resonance of everyday life Number. House number. Queue number. Social security number. Numbered bank accounts… What’s in a name, indeed. What’s in a number? Our days are numbered. Here are the numbers for one of our more recent beasts: On 7 January 2015, 2 perps, previously reduced from petty criminality to cruel idiocy by religious fanaticism, shot up the premises of the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, murdering in cold blood the 12 people they found there. They took off and went into hiding. The next day, another perp, presulably working in tandem with the two others, murdered 1 unwary trainee police woman. The next day, 9 January 2015, he went to a specialty supermarket and slaughtered, gangland execution-style, 4 shoppers – taking care to describe them as “Jews” – in the process taking more than 20 hostages. All 3 murderers were killed by special police on 9 January 2017, 2 of them in a building where they had holed-up, 1 at the scene of his crimes, at about 5.15 pm. On 14 January 2015, Charlie Hebdo published as usual, going from its usual 60,000 copies to 7.5 million and Nathalie Vadori-Gauthier started dancing one minute a day, she says, to “resist barbary” with an act of “poetic resistance”, which will continue until 10 October 2017; at the time, she did not envisage an end. Each dance is posted on video and archived on the Une minute de dance par jour site. “Resistance”, if I understand Vadori-Gauthier, means affirming one set of values in the face of another. In my own mind, in face of nihilistic hostility, the only sensible answer is throw yourself at it, fists and feet flailing. Again, Vadori-Gauthier, following Nietzche, believes “the day is lost if one has not danced at least once.” One moment of representation of a representation represented in performance by Nadia Vadori-Gauthier Dancing 1 minute each day, she says, is an act of positive resistance for liberty in two ways, Vadori-Gauthier says. “It affirms the body” in a society that tends to dismiss it in favor of a narrow definition of mind and “it affirms the female body in the face of the patriarchy’s effort to define then control it.” Besides, she says, dancing is something that she has been able do herself, alone, while being with us all: it is a “micro-political gesture”, a tiny drop of water on the stone of Moloch. At any minute the water, against all expectation, will pierce the stone through. Vadori-Gauthier believes “poetry is life living”. The body is always real, like the weather, she says, and “dance is poetry’s port of entry; dancing leads to connection.” Above and beyond the political gesture, she began dancing as a contribution to our co-evolution towards “a sweeter way of living.” “Une minute de dance par jour” will stop at the 1001st minute, at the 16.683rd hour – she says 6 hours of preparation lies behind... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
“Taxi Dancers” makes waiting for … what? watchable, something reminiscent of Delacroix's harem but with a plain sour rather than saccharine – Photo ©Gregory Batardon I've been waiting up all night/But you never show/You said it'd be all right./But I just don't know/Can you teach me how to dance real slow? “Up All Night” – Oliver Tank Tempo is the key, tempo is how the dancer or choreographer control the flicker of consciousness. Acting on “expression” or sensibility, tempo makes a dance in the same way it makes a song of the eight nouns and verbs among the 29 words of “Up All Night”. It’s all relative, of course, and scored with caveat, but, basically, speed up the tempo too much and the sensibility sloshes away into the iffy septic pit of artistic failure. Slow tempo down too much and the spectators will be watching the exits with more restrained anxiety than paratroopers in heavy flak. Get it just right, and people are putting you on their listening lists and Philip Chbeeb and René Kester are using your music as accompaniment for their video fables. Get the tempo just right and you’re Marie-Caroline Hominal and her “Taxi Dancers”. As I’ve indicated previously, it was my unexpected discovery of Céline Le Tixérant, draughtswoman of color and painter of dancing, that set my mental gears rolling and ticking about why I like dance, what I think dance is made of and how it works. Thought, even about something as important as dance, cannot be separated from ordinary life and feeling or experience. That said, I can now offer some explanation for why I so much enjoyed Hominal’s “Taxi Dancers” when I saw it first about two years ago. It had been bothering me because my ex-squeeze, Karine – a very sophisticated admirer of contemporary dance, mind and very often a most welcome companion – spluttered about this piece for an hour together. In waking that memory in me, what Hominal showed me comes down to something much better than learning, to that da-sein thing that is so good in a dance – Photo ©Gregory Batardon She (unjustly) accused me of taking her out to see any dumb ol’ thing because I just can’t sit still at home and just talk, for once. But, ‘though - as there always must be with such trash - there is some truth to all of this, such small truth does not justify one’s turning in one’s seat and hissing that I therefore have no esthetic discernment and that, in a way that no gentleman would ever do, allow Karine, herself, to be bored and uncomfortable because of, ahem, (unnamed) “eccentricities”. Despite all the parentheticality, underlining, italicizing and quotemarking, the plain fact is that Karine just didn’t like “Taxi Dancers”. Because the dancers hardly move for 45 minutes and she’s afraid to be uncool by admitting that she doesn’t bother to distinguish between what she likes in dance and what is good dance. I did/do like “Taxi... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
Watercolor, cutaway, mangrove on the Iles de Tristao (Guinea), from a study for a nature reserve, “Moment Suspendu” – Céline Le Tixérant As a boy, I was not yet equipped with the endurance and briskness that today characterize my walking, so my late Father usually had to dupe me into the long, leisurely, philosophizing walks that he liked with promises of ice cream . Neither one of us cared about ice cream, really, but what the hell? it’s a goal and somehow a goal is what was necessary to get me on the road. I used the same motivator on my boy; he’s never cared for ice cream either; but what the hell? it was a goal. My mother needed no perplexing self-deceptions, not to die even, and certainly not for walking. Quite simply, she saw it as a cheap, low-tech, not disagreeable and necessary transport option, especially for kids. Herself the embodiment of what “determined stride” and “brisk and business-like” mean, she was the goal-sought-itself and she could see no rational reason to see walking for what it was in itself, according to herself. Charcoal on paper: Trace de l’interdépendance entre les
 sensations intérieures au corps et le paysage du bocal (“Traces of the interdependence of the body’s inner sensation and the interior of the glass jar”): “In the beginning of the solitary session, the line often corresponds with sensations in the body but the exterior landscape soon comes to influence its tracing. (This sketch as well as the other in the five-sketch series) shows that there is a back and forth of interior and exterior perceptions within me." - ” Corps et paysage (Body & landscape) – Expression singulière (Singular expression) – Céline Le Tixérant That meant that, during my childhood, walk mostly meant walking when walk met the criteria “cheap” and “necessary”, in that order. Dad and I had to put together a self-dupe to get me walking with him because Ma’s perspective meant that I walked a great deal from the moment I got off her tit and on my pins. After all, learning paternal philosophy during long, object-less strolls becomes somewhat of an effort when you spend your day striding dutifully from one dull moment to another. Thus were the two poles that compassed my childhood and make up the two legs on which I am launched in life. It is my affection for contemporary dance that puts me in mind of the contrasting but strangely similar poles on which my life’s legs turn. A landscape architect called Céline Le Tixerant has put me in mind of both childhood and contemporary dance. Céline and I met in Paris during a “5Rhythms dance” course offered by Peter Wilberforce. She lives and works in Nantes but this week she is in Paris, visiting her ailing Dad. As a personal favor, Céline is paying me a professional visit during a time out from her Dad’s care. I need some advice on putting together “a sustainable renewal” proposal for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
Pencil and ink, De la sensation intérieure à l’apparition des voyageurs (“On the sensation within as travelers arrive”). Gare de Rennes, Spring, 2011 - Céline Le Tixérant The baby's sleeping in the crib up top/And baby's sleeping above you/You will lift him to the parking lot…/I would like to see a little more propriety,/Cooperate with me and answer me/I know now, I know now, I know now,/ I'm never gonna tell on you… /The lady's got no clothes she's at the shop./But if she'd knew then she'd kill you./The bugs are out cause they come out at night,/Usually they just bite our hands./Cause normally we have clothes on without a fight…/And baby's sleeping against you./I think he'd pray for an old motor car./Or any bed made without you… “Baby’s Romance” – Chris Garneau It’s not a coincidence that Orpheus embodies music, poetry, prophecy and dance together. Dancing is a natural expansion for a poet who has not ruined herself or himself by poetical excess; dance is a natural topic study when vice has done its work. Not everybody knows that Emily Dickinson had a little secret dancing spot near the left-hand flower pot but she did. Everybody knows that Walt Whitman, as does still Lana Del Ray, sang the body electric; I once saw Alan Ginsberg wriggle his hips on the Berkeley campus midway. I also want to tell readers that contemporary dance works pretty much like Chris Garneau’s lovely “Baby’s Romance” does – parts are cited above. And dance works for pretty much the same reasons and with pretty much the same elements of composition. And I want to say that I like dance a lot, a lot not just because I’m a poet but because dance, especially contemporary dance, always speaks to what concerns me in ways that touch me even when it bores me to tears. This is worth notice because into the end of 2017 and the first part of 2018, I – and I hope others will, too – be writing around, sometimes, on, sometimes about, sometimes, up contemporary performance actors – choreographers, dancers, circassiens (contemporary circus performers) such as Jann Gallois, Oona Doherty or Cécile Mont-Reynaud – as well as variously tinted visual artists, culture creators, actors or facilitators such as Emilie Chaix, Céline Le Tixérant, Pierre Ajavon, Carla Querejeta Roca, Philippe Rillon or Caroline Wei or Tatjana Jankovic. Jann Gallois exploring sharp angles – Photo ©Roger Fusciardi I say writing “around”, “on”, “about”, “up” rather than “commenting” or “critiquing” or “reporting” on them, or on the many others I’ve met these past years because I see myself in ongoing conversation with them, in the same way that I am conversing in thought word and deed with my remembered and unremembered pasts and presents, especially, with songs off the radio. My notion of “conversing with being and perceiving” is what I think Jann Gallois meant when she told me this past summer that every encounter has meaning – she used the word “signification”, which... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
Metaphysical News: Reporter Jocaste L’Allemand caught this rare view of France’s Old Bones en marche for a future state, just minutes after Julie Gayet, a movie actress and the former “Chef d’état”’s inamorata, left a message for him sometime just after his accidental resignation last Fall Just so you know. I am tapping this into my cellphone into a mail to myself from a beat-up easy chair, near the piano, next to the WC, at the Bal perdu, my favorite bistro. As my Mexican pork-roll-size digits tap clumsily away, the keyboard, confused, abused and hopeless, keeps switching between French, German & English. Odd sense anomalies bloom from spellchecker fractals. A gang of workers in orange vests and hard-hats is scraping trowels over granite paving stones, tamping down, then smoothing, a sandy, pale mortar between each of hundreds of foot-long pre-set blocks. It’s a hell of a racket. But it looks good. The barman, who’s standing just outside the barroom, to smoke, suddenly hollers across the green safety fence, “Les amis, c’est très très beau ce que vous faites! He’s a nice guy, Nicholas, handsome in his white apron and black pants, dishcloth dashingly laid over his shoulder… He’s right, too. Les amis in question, on all fours, pause to sit up on their knees, to smile, to wave. The new square, I think, is proof that good workmanship is alive, well and an everyday affair – to hell with the aging grumblers. It will embellish our lives and, with luck, enhance the Bal perdu’s business and the city’s tax base. It comes to me that the dust, detours and noise will have generated a truly universal success. As most things are and must necessarily be, it may be imaginary, but it seems to me that the announcers on BFM, the business-oriented radio, have been taking a positively universal-success tone since the election of Emmanuel Macron and his Chambre sans qualités. Not un-coincidentally, I’m playing here on both on the historical Chambre bleu horizon, the post-Great War Chamber of Deputies which united to make sure German pips squeaked at Versailles and on Robert Musil’s premonitory Man without qualities. I started to say to Jocaste, “Ahh, God, you can expect a hot Fall of debilitating ‘resistance’ to break out when everybody is back from the country … Jojo! How I hate riding a bike!” Several months of shivering fear and trembling as I woofed and weft through frozen columns of exasperated drivers during the transport strikes that broke out over Alain Juppé’s efforts at some piddling economic reform put me off bikes forever… Jocaste is a former best friend of Karine, my ex-inamorata. “It suddenly occurs to me, Jojo,” I continue, “The culture paradigm has (already) shifted.” I shift in my own seat. It all comes, as if in a dream. All the usual levers, buttons, bells and whistles of politics were entirely re-purposed, probably sometime last Fall, when François Hollande’s habit of hemming and hawing led him to accidentally announce he... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
Too far from the Métro and with a diabolical entry code, this lawn, this house, are where the world gets remade Here’s an interesting French word: inconséquent. It means something like “frivolous” but implies that the person so-named either doesn’t care about or doesn’t know about the consequences of his actions. It appears to me that there is far too much inconsequence. Only this can explain why I am so cruelly treated, on a daily basis. Of unsettled mind and in almost summer-like sunshine, I busted out of my office chair around three in the afternoon and made my way into the streets, toward home and, possibly, a little nap. Who missed me? Who could have missed me? Can you tell me that? Today the evidence of cruel treatment is the Métro, which, at five minutes walking from my place is quite far, proof of the incompetence of the public transportation system, the RATP, backed up by barely-democratic, wildly corrupt governments. Disdaining the enforced six-minute wait for a two-minute bus ride, I was obliged to pass Mufassa, proprietor of Au Village, who, fedora pulled low on his brow, was leaning against a plate glass window of his establishment, enjoying a spray of yellow sunshine over his body. Though I doubt he knows my name, Mufassa is always so pleasant to me that I can see no reason, not even the prospect of a nap, not stop for a pint and an earful of whatever live music is happening – there seems always to be some sort of live music there. So as not to waste any time – I fret about using my remaining years consequentially – I sat down and almost immediately began thinking about inconsequence and about popularizing a brand-new Theory of Sentiments, based on human moral complexity. I like to think that erecting a Theory of Sentiments for the modern age is a complementary corollary to Karine’s Penis Envy Project, which, despite her misunderstandings in other matters concerning me myself, us and herself, continues to pump along. Some skinny refugee-looking guy – funny how you can spot them – strumed and slapped out some dam’fine geetar while I was brooding it all out and drinking up. By the time I left, the sun was beginning the final leg of its long, long lone descent, which is one of the glories of this part of the world. My figurations, as well as the beer, tipped me toward a less somber view of affairs though trudging up the street, I couldn’t be bothered to curse the inefficiency of the RATP. The entry code to the residence where I live, a diabolical digital security improvement of ten difficult-to-remember digits, has been designed to scare me. I am always afraid I will forget the code and be forced to hang all my groceries by my teeth while I slap all my pockets for the little electronic disk, thus raising, quite unjustly, I think, my general level of anxiety. And for what?... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Image
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 Apr 29, 2017 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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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