Posts Tagged ‘apocalypse’

Just another Auden October: Apocalypse yesterday

October 19, 2011


The stars are dead; the animals will not look:
We are left alone with our day, and the time is short and
History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.

(W. H. Auden, “Spain.” 90-93. 1937. )

Anything that men make will shake apart*. Eventually the feats of engineering and machinery humanity has wrought will fall to ruin, maybe sooner than later. Running will be no good: depend on it.

Photograph of Auden’s typewriter via swarthmore.

This poem was first published as “Spain” in 1937. Auden included it in his 1940 anthology Another Time as “Spain 1937” but later disavowed the poem’s political and apocalyptic tone, saying that he never really believed what he’d written, but wrote it because he thought it would be “rhetorically effective.” According to the late Frank Kermode, Auden hated most of all the above, which is the final stanza of “Spain”/”Spain 1937.”

I like it.

*(Except plutonium rods. I admit that those are going to take a really long time to shake apart. Way to fucking go, everybody.)

Railing against my own stupidity — misguided Bookfoolery and forcible rejection

July 8, 2010

I did a stupid thing and decided to skip The Tommyknockers. Instead, I read L.A. Confidential, then Red Harvest, then some subpar book from Jeffery Deaver that was a bit afield from what I usually expect of him.

Image via thegunnshow right here on the wordpress. Girls Like a Boy Who Reads. My cover looks exactly like that but I do not look exactly like him. Check the blog out.

He spells it Jeffery and not Jeffrey, but that is not today’s issue. Also I am mad at him for getting tired of his Lincoln Rhyme characters (you may remember their portrayals by Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in the film adaptation of The Bone Collector) and moving to this boring woman in Monterey as his new detective, but there was a preview in the back for a new Lincoln Rhyme so he is sort-of back in my good graces. Jury is out: he better not do anything stupid like kill off Lincoln or his hot redheaded girlfriend Amelia. That is still not today’s issue.

Today’s issue is that I skipped The Tommyknockers which I always read over the Fourth of July in order for maximum synchronicity and a karmically blessed Summer, and I thought I’d try something different and not be a slave to superstition, but I think I got a little overly cocky. Right away bad things started happening.

And it’s obviously all because I did not read The Tommyknockers and the blame for this situation can be laid only at the door of that fact and has nothing to do with my own behaviors and weaknesses. (eye roll)

Now instead I’ve read the Gentleman’s generous loan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I’m about to make a date with Milo for us to simultaneously begin Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Pictures come from Une femme est une femme and allthatsinteresting on the tumblr.

William Blake Month: Prophecy concluded, or, this is the way the world ends

July 1, 2010

William Blake Month ends today (unless I change my mind), and I’d promised that America: A Prophecy would be continued, so here are excerpts from the rising action and “Finis.”

The terror like a comet,
or more like the planet red
That once inclos’d the terrible wandering
comets in its sphere.
Then Mars thou wast our center,
& the planets three flew round
Thy crimson disk; so e’er the Sun
was rent from thy red sphere;
The Spectre glowd his horrid length
staining the temple long
With beams of blood; &
thus a voice came forth, and shook the temple

That stony law I stamp to dust:
and scatter religion abroad
To the four winds as a torn book,
& none shall gather the leaves;
But they shall rot on desert sands,
& consume in bottomless deeps;
To make the deserts blossom,
& the deeps shrink to their fountains,
And to renew the fiery joy,
and burst the stony roof.

That pale religious lechery,
seeking Virginity,
May find it in a harlot,
and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil’d tho’ ravish’d
in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy,
life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight
can never be defil’d.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe,
yet man is not consumd;

“Laura” by Ryan McGinley, 2010.

Sound! sound! my loud war-trumpets
& alarm my Thirteen Angels!
Loud howls the eternal Wolf!
the eternal Lion lashes his tail!
America is darkned;
and my punishing Demons terrified
Crouch howling before their caverns
deep like skins dry’d in the wind.

They cannot smite the wheat,
nor quench the fatness of the earth.
They cannot smite with sorrows,
nor subdue the plow and spade.
They cannot wall the city,
nor moat round the castle of princes.
They cannot bring the stubbed oak
to overgrow the hills.

“Wrath” by culcha on the d.a.

Who commanded this?
what God? what Angel!
To keep the gen’rous from experience
till the ungenerous
Are unrestraind performers
of the energies of nature;
Till pity is become a trade,
and generosity a science,
That men get rich by,
& the sandy desert is giv’n to the strong

What God is he, writes laws of peace,
& clothes him in a tempest
What pitying Angel lusts for tears,
and fans himself with sighs
What crawling villain preaches abstinence
& wraps himself
In fat of lambs? no more I follow,
no more obedience pay.

“Blood falls” by Ryan McGinley.

And the flame folded roaring fierce
within the pitchy night
Before the Demon red,
who burnt towards America,
In black smoke thunders
& loud winds rejoicing in its terror
Breaking in smoky wreaths from the wild deep,
& gath’ring thick
In flames as of a furnace
on the land from North to South

I think this is the Tacoma Narrows.*

His plagues obedient to his voice
flew forth out of their clouds
Falling upon America,
as a storm to cut them off
Dark is the heaven above, & cold
& hard the earth beneath;
And as a plague wind fill’d with insects
cuts off man & beast;
And as a sea o’erwhelms a land
in the day of an earthquake;

“Extranas formas aerodinamica” by profundorosso on the flickr.

Fury! rage! madness! in a wind
swept through America
And the red flames of Orc
that folded roaring fierce around
The angry shores,
and the fierce rushing of th’inhabitants together:

The citizens of New-York
close their books & lock their chests;
The mariners of Boston
drop their anchors and unlade;
The scribe of Pensylvania
casts his pen upon the earth;
The builder of Virginia
throws his hammer down in fear.

Then had America been lost,
o’erwhelm’d by the Atlantic,
And Earth had lost another portion
of the infinite,
But all rush together in the night
in wrath and raging fire
The red fires rag’d! the plagues recoil’d!
then rolld they back with fury.

(William Blake, excerpts from America: A Prophecy.)

*Along with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was still a gruesomely hot topic in the overheard adult conversations of my early childhood in the Sound. I didn’t fully understand what happened in either case but my morbid imagination obsessed over the half-described tragic events and I was terrified of taking the car over the spans from island to island. I used to fold my little hands over my eyes as I sat on the couch in our trailer waiting for my dad to come home and pray he would take his car up on the ferry instead of driving over the bridge, and any loud noises from trucks going over the shabbily paved nearby highway were certainly the rumblings of another volcanic eruption which would bury us all in ash. I guess what I’m saying is I’ve always had an acute overawareness and fear of cataclysmic death. I have no idea why.

William Blake Month: Fathers and Friends; Mothers & Infants; Kings & Warriors

June 16, 2010

Photographed by Giasco Bertoli. Ladies’ Gun Club. The term is “Firearms enthusiast.” Never “Gun Nut.”

Forth from the dead dust rattling bones to bones
Join: shaking convuls’d the shivering clay breathes
And all flesh naked stands; Fathers and Friends;
Mothers & Infants; Kings & Warriors;

The Grave is a woman in Blake’s vision. cf: Kali, Shiva, Sekhmet, feral cats who eat their kittens, bathtub ladies from Texas making little angels to be the stars in their hellbound crowns — the Mother/Destroyer, yes? Just like Earth. Just like life.

The Grave shrieks with delight, & shakes
Her hollow womb, & clasps the solid stem;
Her bosom swells with wild desire;
And milk & blood & glandous wine,
In rivers rush & shout & dance,
On mountain, dale and plain.
The SONG of LOS is Ended

(William Blake, excerpt from “The Song of Los.”)

“The Song of Los” is the last of Blake’s so-called Continental Prophesies, where he shared his visions of the future for America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The excerpt just quoted concludes his prophecy for Asia and Africa.

Golly, good thing Blake was wrong, am I right. Agony and apocalypse, with naked children and flames and howls and shivering clay? In Africa and Asia? What a nut. How off base.

Ugh. Sorry, but as much as I enjoyed putting together DeDe Lind’s post, her comments about the Vietnam War and my subsequent reflections on those words with the ramifications of her centerfold’s popularity has resulted in a chain of thought about the twentieth century and where we’ll go next that has put me in kind of a foul mood. I will try to improve.

Catholic Charities donations for aid to orphans in Asia, wherein if you click through you can specifically target children in Vietnam. (It is very difficult to provide accounted-for aid there due to the corruption of many alleged non-profits run-roughshod-over by the government in their headquarters of what is now called Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — but I know from long interactions that this branch of this particular outfit is trustworthy.)

The International Red Cross/Red Crescent, click through to see about making donations to help efforts to feed the starving children in the Sudan.

Is your guilt assuaged? Mine’s not. Not just yet.

Daily Batman: Blinding you with Science

April 14, 2010

Can Beach Bunny Batgirl get Scientific with you?

On this date in 1981, the space shuttle Columbia completed its first successful orbit, landing safely at Edwards AFB in Antelope Valley, CA. In 1932, the atom was split by Cockroft and Walton in the Cavendish Labs. Like, dang. Those are some incredible scientific landmarks of just the sort that Sir Isaac Newton was speaking in the above quote.

My god, what a century of achievements. What will we do next? Keep your mind open and don’t be afraid of advancements — the only way to prevent a dystopian future run by cyborgs and genetically enhanced a-holes is to stay ethically invested in the coming leaps of technology. The only way to guarantee Bizarro Robocops and sentient microwaves stalking your cloned stem-cell baby with iPod implant neck shunts and laser gun wristwatches is to not care and not keep up with change. Cell phones freak me out and I don’t even know how to begin to use touchscreen notebooks, but I’m determined to learn this year. No burying my head in the sand (or clouds, more likely) and hiding from Change for me — not anymore.

Because I look at that quote from the freaking father of physics, thank you very much, and think of all the science that has rocked our world through the years, and each time a new advancement came along, there were frightened people, shellshocked Luddites like myself waving their arms around and crying “We’re all gonna die! Apocalypse now!” but it never happened, because humanity’s better nature has inevitably prevailed, and we’ve assimilated as best we could each new challenge to keeping the lid on our growing godlike powers. As fearsome as that is, if I am concerned, that’s exactly why I should not give up on the Future, right? If I’m so worried about it, why don’t I put my money where my big scared mouth is and stick around to defend it? Ought we not fight for the future to be a brave and conscience-guided good one instead of cringing in the corner, wringing our hands and refusing to look growing technology square in the eye?

I believe that great changes at which, like Sir Isaac Newton, we can not even possibly begin to guess are going to come in our lifetimes but we can make it a safe and morally-centered time with the potential to better the lives of everyone on Earth, so long as we try and don’t give up or get overwhelmed. I believe this is possible. I really do. I’m in a new and more positive place than I’ve ever been.

Okay, so I guess in addition to getting Scientific with you, I also got a little Hippie. I have those kind of tendencies. Thanks for loving me anyway. (My providing you with all kinds of softcore porn has I’m sure nothing to do with it.)

Monocle Monday: Monocle application by Idea Machine edition

January 11, 2010

Monocle is a simple search tool that puts a universal search field at your disposal. When you want search, you can choose from a number of engines to perform the search in different places. Monocle comes preloaded with engines for Google, Wikipedia, Windows Live Search and Yahoo! Search. You can easily add your own engines by performing an example search inside a web browser window in Monocle. (source)

This is in no way an endorsement of that Mac App. I have never used it and likely never will, as I have had the same phone since 2005 and will probably continue to have it until it literally falls apart in my hands because I have grown to believe that I, myself, am built-in obsolescence personified, and everything I learn to use and grow accustomed to must immediately fall out of human use and knowledge, so that I remain freakishly anachronistic in my understanding of technology.

Et tu, Bender, my metal and small and doesn’t judge me at all robot friend? Then you can all keep your fancy-dancy iPhones and droids, and be sure to bite our shiny metal asses.

I believe there is always a person like this in every group that is behind the crest of the trend by deliberate choice, a lone cowboy on an uneasy horse at the edge of the horizon, never quite part of the pack of trailblazers, always slightly at a remove from the rest of society just in case this next invention is that society’s downfall, and in this generation among those I am close to, I apparently have taken on that mantle. Mmm, Apocalypse Bean Soup — with hamhock, even? Wow, thanks, cowpoke! Just like I like it!

So, yes, I know nothing about this newfangled Monocle app folderol. I just like the ads, don’t you?