A “lost novel” rises from the ashes, after an inexplicable delay of nearly 80 years. Irony rises too from the American underbelly, given the subject matter and historical context. Blues, Jazz, and Surrealism combine in ways we haven’t seen before. Throw in Crime Noir and we get the Quad.
Brutal cops meet Invisible Man by way of “LA Confidential.” Born already guilty, and on permanent trial in the eyes of the dominant class, an innocent man meets Kafka’s nightmare, sees nowhere else to go but under. Is he Lao-Tzu, Jesus, or Prometheus rising from modernity’s sewers, perhaps to show us the Way? Or is he, Fred Daniels, just a flickering image on the Cave’s wall, to be ignored, mocked, and quickly forgotten?
We’ve added three new poems by Robert Mueller this month. Please feel free to leave comments on the Contact Us page.
I’m almost finished reading a good novel by Steven Hall, Maxwell’s Demon (2021). Postmodern, and very Meta. Some fun facts about Entropy, angels, oxen, bees, Jewish gods and mysticism, and the Apocrypha along the way, which Hall integrates well throughout the narrative. I can hear echoes from Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, and Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds too, but this is really Hall’s show and his alone.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I played Daniel-san to the Shaman’s Mr. Miyagi. He had me wash his car, weed and seed his lawn, and take his clothes to the dry-cleaner’s, among other chores. All of this struck me as a waste of time, of course, which was likely the point. Either that, or a lesson in Entropy, a word the Shaman had left out of his lessons so far.
But things changed dramatically soon enough. Archery lessons! This was something I knew I could use, especially given my youthful admiration of Robin Hood, and my hatred toward Paris, the coward of The Iliad. Now, if only we could combine the Zen of Archery with the Zen of Motorcycles — shoot arrows while riding Yamahas — all would be forgiven.… Click to Continue “The Shaman and Time’s Arrow”
Cat Stevens sang “Morning has Broken” above us, as we sat in the corner café, with its old stone walls, its monstrous fireplace, and its unbreakable wood tables and chairs. I suddenly felt relaxed in a way that had escaped me for weeks.
The Shaman looked at me quickly, saw my newfound comfort, and pushed me violently to the floor. Luckily, there was no coffee to spill yet, no cakes to fly upward into the vaulted ceiling, though the Shaman likely would have preferred the added derangements.
“Why did you do that?” I asked, as I got back up, dusted myself off, and sat down again.
“Because chaos and surprise are beautiful when you’re wallowing in comfort, just as comfort is beautiful in the midst of disaster and mayhem.”… Click to Continue “The Shaman and the Coffee Shop”
“Moderation in all things is terrible advice,” said the Shaman as we walked, then ran, then stood still. “All is contrast within context. If you wish to live sweet lives, take the highs and lows, embrace the deepest darkness and the most luminous visions, as if your life depended on it, because it does.”
So I asked him, as we ran, then walked, then stopped: “But moderation and mindfulness lead to balance and wisdom, so say all the prophets, didn’t they?”
“No, young sir, they didn’t. Their editors said so through the ages, more or less, once the words of the prophets were stripped of complexity, censored, abridged, and frozen for easier consumption.”
Presence of emergent aquatics,
that is the becoming present,
that is the becoming being,
heaves happy cattails,
That is the becoming being
endows aperture for water,
happy for birds, luscious
for the swatted from embedded bushes:
In water lusty laughter floats above.
Then aperture for temperature
is cut above and growing for this partner
beyond realms of mowing barter,
to fish and birds and pike
and bogbean and all to tiny whaling lovers
the better other in becoming.
Then let emergent aquatics
dam and dim the pressures
rounded into thirstless breasting
of emulcifent, twanged architecture,
other layer of other loving’s pasture:
Let all round moving
on the limning endowed blow faster.
These different low coverings
moss pinks and so on
or goldenrods glowing and glimmering
redpolls allaying the fields
not how to attract the northernmost
who build nests in sponge
with protective linings before the roll.… Click to Continue “Robert Mueller’s Fearful Mangers”
Recent readings/rereadings include the aforementioned Maggie Doherty’s The Equivalents, which was excellent. It makes a fine pairing too with Square Haunting, by Francesca Wade, which I read last year. Group bios about unfairly neglected women in the arts help set the record straight and expand our horizons in the bargain.
Just finished The Lamplighters, by Emma Stonex, a very fine and subtle story about lighthouses, the men who once kept them running, and their families. Beautiful prose about loss, loneliness, and a sea of mysteries keep the reader engaged until the end. I also reread Italo Calvino’s metafictional masterclass, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, which I enjoyed, but not quite as much as on a first reading some centuries ago.… Click to Continue “New Poetry and the Penumbra Effect”