Welcome to Spinozablue!

Joan Miró's Birth of the World. 1925

Joan Miró’s Birth of the World. 1925

The work is done. Rebirth is here. We’re ready, finally, to start adding again to this fine collection of poetry, fiction, reviews, art, photography and film.

Six years of excellent contributions. Then a pause. But that pause has been lifted.

If you’d like to contribute, please click on the submissions page and follow the directions therein. No previous publishing experience is required. All that matters is the quality of the work itself.

Spinozablue promotes an internationalism of the arts and knows no geographical boundaries. Actually, we’re not all that impressed with the idea of boundaries in general. When it comes to the Republic of the Arts, the world is one. We’re open to all of it.

A few notes about the relaunch:

Unlike the first incarnation of Spinozablue, we won’t have comments turned on underneath the articles, though a separate forums section is a likely addition in the future. Technical obstacles in the recovery period and overall site speed … Click Here to Continue . . .

Clever Autumns With Parochial Zephers

Odessa Port. 1898. By Kandinsky.

Odessa Port. 1898. By Kandinsky.

Looking at an old poem from decades ago. Trying to see if it still holds up. Some poets, like Yeats, revised even published works, changing new editions of their collections over time.

This isn’t really like that. But it is a return to some dark cove, some ancient lough, for reassessment and advice:


Clever Autumns With Parochial Zephers


Blindness and cacophony
Like time underwater

The yews tremble for their
Lovers on the mountain tops

Four beats to every heart
And roses for the poor

I believe the groans
Of doctors if
They’re out of work
Scrounging in the meadow

    For sustenance and rhubarb

If the play’s the thing
Why is the audience sleeping?

Give us reasons in the mist
To talk about the mail

Give us songs to sing
When supper is thrown to wolves and
Like twenty annual events

Some epiphany among the clowns
Before they taste their red makeup

    Before they fall off their red tricycles… Click Here to Continue . . .

4 Non Blondes: What’s Going On?

To avoid any conflict with the song by Marvin Gaye, Linda Perry and company renamed their beautiful, angsty, anthemic (1993) single to “What’s up?” But it’s all about that question from 1971, and about the knowing confusion, the justifiable frustration and alienation of the young. That’s at least how it sounds. One of the original 4 Non Blondes, Christa Hillhouse, says it’s a mistake to read too much into it. Linda was just playing guitar down the hall from Christa when she wrote it, and it was so good, Christa thought, she stopped having sex and ran down the hall to find her. It happened organically, naturally. The song writing. The questioning about that song. Linda Perry was afraid it had come from somewhere else, and asked Christa if she had borrowed some of it from others. And that’s a key. Good to great art often gives the appearance of pre-existence. That it must have always been, even to the author. This seems especially true with … Click Here to Continue . . .


Timbuktu. 2014

Timbuktu. 2014

One of the best films of the past year is Timbuktu, directed by Abderrahmene Sissako. Understated, beautifully shot and composed, it tells the story of a village, a people, caught in the arbitrary and repressive grip of a Jihadist takeover. The focus of the film, but never at the cost of the village’s story itself, is a small family on the outskirts of Timbuktu, making a life on the dunes. Kidane, the father, Satima, the mother, their daughter Toya, and the young shepherd, Issan. Perhaps because of their existence on the periphery, this small family had managed to avoid most of the cultural and social repression being arbitrarily imposed on those in the village, but a tragic accident changes all of that.

I was struck by the images, again and again. The incredible beauty of the desert, the dunes, the motion of people crossing them, running on the sand. But, especially, the scene of a soccer game, which is one of the most … Click Here to Continue . . .

Necessary Fictions, Their Sources and Utility

The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which can be Used as a Table, Salvador Dali. 1934.

The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which can be Used as a Table. Salvador Dali. 1934.

Stumbled upon a fascinating TED talk this morning, by Yuval Noah Harari, entitled What explains the rise of humans? In a nutshell, his thesis is that we alone, among all the species on earth, are capable of flexible cooperation in large numbers, and that the chief galvanizing force behind this is our ability to create and believe in fictions. 

His recent book is now on my must-read list: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. From the author’s website:

Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights.

Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful

Click Here to Continue . . .

Dawn Powell’s Turn, Magic Wheel

Dawn Powell

Dawn Powell

 Recently finished a truly excellent novel, Turn, Magic Wheel (1936), by Dawn Powell. A formerly neglected master, she was “rediscovered” in the 1990s, thanks to the efforts of critics and writers like Gore Vidal and Tim Page. Today, she is seen by some as at least the equal, if not the superior, to Dorothy Parker as satirist of the first rank — especially of the New York literary scene. That scene is the main subject matter for the novel in question, and it struck this reader as dead on, with elements of post-modernism thrown in, before it supposedly existed.

Post-modern in the sense of it self-referentiality, its meta context, its story within a story and mirrors facing one another. In the following excerpt, Dennis Orphen, a young writer, imagines writing about the people and surroundings in his immediate path and circle, and one can’t help but think this is likely Dawn Powell’s meta commentary about the process she goes through as well. To … Click Here to Continue . . .

Mama Knows

I love seeing and hearing a big old blues voice emerging from unexpected faces. Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, a New York-based, seven-piece band, gives us that and more. The lead singer, Arleigh Kincheloe, looks anything but the vessel for the raspy, gutsy, powerful voice we encounter, and defying stereotypes seems a regular part of the band’s art. 

The video below was released earlier this year, and demonstrates Kicheloe’s unique combination of grit and emotional power. Looking forward to the continuing evolution of this band and its lead singer/songwriter.