Thursday, September 30, 2010

Splash du Jour: Thursday

The moral conscience that so many thoughtless people have offended against and many more have rejected, is something that exists and has always existed. It was not an invention of the philosophers of the Quartenary, when the soul was little more than a muddled proposition. With the passing of time, as well as the social evolution and genetic exchange, we ended up putting our conscience in the colour of blood and in the salt of tears, and, as if that were not enough, we made our eyes into a kind of mirror turned inwards, with the result that they often show without reserve what we are verbally trying to deny. Add to this general observation, the particular circumstance that in simple spirits, the remorse caused by committing some evil act often becomes confused with ancestral fears of every kind, and the result will be that the punishment of the prevaricator ends up being, without mercy or pity, twice what he deserved.
-- Jose Saramago, Blindness --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I remember a lot of dreams. Sometimes they are hard to distinguish from what has really happened. That is not so terrible. It is the same with books.
-- Per Petterson, In The Wake --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified head, fills citified ears – as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of his loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk-happy.
-- Frank Lloyd Wright, 1958 --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's To Fear?

I am only so intelligent.
It is marginal.
As Winnie-The-Pooh said, "I am a bear of little brain."
Having finished John Fowles [1982] novel entitled Mantissa tonight, wow, I am reminded of the limitations of my mental capacities.
It's a deep novel. To quote that famous bear again, umm… I "drowned-ed."
When it comes to oxygen levels, I was gasping.
I was reminded of the guy in the used-book lineup… looking over my shoulder when I snapped up this Mantissa book for a measly $1.00 just days ago… "That book is very different," he said.
"Different than what?" I asked.
"Different than his other books," and then he walked away.
I noted his severely pale legs [always a sign of over-intelligence] and his hairless cue-ball of a head [further proof that even our blood-temperature is not the same]… even though my own tonsure is arriving faster than I would like -- anyhow, I gave it a shot, based on the fact that I loved Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman so much -- re
ad it last month -- but yeah, this one proved to be
a difficult beastie.
One of those books where what's happening is not really... happening.
Bears of little brain smell smoke quickly, when engaged with these sort of things.
So I am thankful to set this aside and turn to a reliable standby. William Trevor. -->
His latest novel -- Love and Summer.
See -- he's baldish, but he always wears a HAT!
And his face is all wrinkled-y.
What's a semi-retarded bear to fear?


Splash du Jour: Monday

In Washington, the first thing people tell you is what their job is. In Los Angeles you learn their star sign. In Houston you're told how rich they are. And in New York they tell you what their rent is.
-- Simon Hoggart, 1990 --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Old and Wise

Old And Wise

We link these words together as though
they appear in the dictionary on the same page.
It is impossible to be old and stupid?

I do not believe that years are a constant,
no more than rings on a severed tree
tell anything of height.

Old and stupid is a reality.
As is youth and wisdom.
The difference being how we think,
no matter the current hemisphere
of life.

c. Ciprianowords Inc., 2008

Friday, September 24, 2010


I've been drinking some sort of Ukrainian beer tonight.
Here is a picture of it. I don't know the name of this beer because it is written in hieroglyphics…. or, more likely…. Ukrainian.
And here's the kicker -- I AM Ukrainian! 100% so.
My blog-alias, Cipriano, would be much more accurate if it was, say, Cipriansky. Or Ciprianovich!
But this is all preamble.
What I really want to say is something that I was thinking back when I was still sober, a few hours ago. During that time-frame [which shall from now on be referred to as My Former Sobriety]… I finished reading an excellent book.
Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor,
by Brad Gooch. 

 I love a well-written literary biography, and rarely have I read a better one, than this. [Keep in mind, everything I am saying here was originally thought out in full, when I was way sober, which I currently am less than…thanks to the dedicated Ukrainian brewmasters exemplified in the above image of a beer can….]
I have read all of Flannery O'Connor's short stories.
And I must admit, they are most often not easy to apprehend. They are dark, mysterious, troubling. If you have read her, you will know what I mean. Flannery O'Connor, herself a deeply religious Christian, chose to emphasize in her stories the capacity for evil in mankind -- rather than what might have been as easily written about -- the capacity for goodness.
Flannery O'Connor. If that name means nothing to you, you will not be interested in this book. But if you have read her, and wondered [as I have, in My Former Sobriety] "Hmmm… what's going on here?"…. this is the book that will come closest to letting you know that an answer to that question is impossible. Because it will give you the sense that you would have to BE Flannery, to know that much.
This is the closest we can get.

I cried.

Splash du Jour: Friday

A hick town is one where there is no place to go where you shouldn't go.

-- Alexander Woollcott, c.1935 --

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

The city is a fact in nature, like a cave, a run of mackerel or an ant-heap. But it is also a conscious work of art, and it holds within its communal framework many simpler and more personal forms of art. Mind takes form in the city; and in turn, urban forms condition mind.

-- Lewis Mumford, 1938 --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I look at my father, who was in many ways an unhappy person, but who, not long before he got sick, said that the greatest source of satisfaction in his life had been going to work in the company of other workers.
-- Jonathan Franzen --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.
-- Flannery O'Connor --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cities of the Cutpurse

I read a really interesting, enlightening [or endarkening, I suppose] article about pickpockets!
It listed the ten worst world-wide destinations for pickpocketing. Go figure -- all of them are in Europe.
The Cities of the Cutpurse… as Charles Dickens may have put it! And get this -- four of them are in Spain! Here is the list, in order of likeliness of losing your hard-earned dough on any given day:

1. Barcelona, Spain
2. Rome, Italy
3. Paris, France
4. Madrid, Spain
5. Athens, Greece
6. Prague, Czech Republic
7. Costa Brava, Spain
8. Lisbon, Portugal
9. Tenerife, Spain
10. London, England

You know, I'm no saint, for sure. I do things that are bad sometimes. But I can't imagine how a person can make it their business to constantly rob innocent people. Your full-time occupation is to ruin people's vacations, etc.
Nope. I will stick to my boring [but honest] day-job!
And if I ever travel to any of these otherwise beautiful cities, listed above -- well, I guess I'll just be extra-vigilant. And carry a big stick!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

The Extra Ones

We are told that he chose five smooth stones.
Young, and ruddy faced, in 1 Samuel 17:40.
I would have imagined jagged ones to cause
greater cranial damage, but who am I?
This sling was not even the type you draw back on.
It was the kind you whirl about your head.
I know, because there was an artist’s rendition
in the book my mother read, as my eyes fell shut.

So an army cowers, as the boy runs forward,
taunting this oaf! This day the Lord will hand you
over to me. He kicks the dirt and spits, And I’ll
strike you down and cut off your head. Shaking,
he shouts at a helmet that weighs more than him,
The birds shall eat you, placing a stone in the pouch.
Philistine laughter shakes the very rainclouds
loose over the heads of Israel, as the air sings.

And what I love most is not the part where he cuts
off the head. Nor even the part where Saul asks,
Whose son are you, young man?
I love the fact that David took four extra stones.
Ones he did not know he did not need.
The scene that is not illustrated in any bedtime book,
and the sound, ping-ping-ping-ping, denting helmets
as the Philistines run for the hills.

-- c. Ciprianowords, Inc. 2008 --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Splash du Jour: Thursday

When I sit down to write, a monstrous reader looms up who sits down beside me and continually mutters, 'I don't get it, I don't see it, I don't want it.' Some writers can ignore this presence, but I have never learned how.
-- Flannery O'Connor --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Some thoughts tonight about symbolism.
Symbolism in one's reading.
I am making my way through this wonderful book about the life of author Flannery O'Connor. [Click on it].
I have read all of her published short stories, but this book makes me want to revisit them.
At one point, biographer Brad Gooch recounts an incident where Flannery and a few of her more literary-based college-age friends attended a poetry reading by Robert Tristam Coffin. The year was 1945. The event took place in O'Connor's home.
One of the girls asked the poet to unlock the mysteries surrounding his use of a fox in one of his poems.
What was the symbolism here?
He replied, "My God, just a fox, just an ordinary, everyday fox!"

Reading this today, gave me paws. I mean -- pause.
[That recycled joke is getting old, Cipriano…]
[Relax! So am I!]

It made me reconsider my own approach to symbolism.
I realized anew, that I basically do not look for it, ever.
Symbolism, I mean.
I read my fiction [even my poetry] with nary a though given as to any sort of symbolism employed, or not. Granted, with poetry, I am little more expectant of symbolism. I myself consciously employ it, when writing a poem.
But in the fiction I read -- I am pretty much taking everything I see [unless explicitly forewarned] at face value.
I find that I prefer Tolstoyan realism to Marquezian magical whateverism.
This is not to say that I am not willing to suspend my imagination.
I am. VERY much, willing to enter in to whatever a book is offering me.
I recently read Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, a profoundly unreal book. Yet, very real. During my reading, however, I never once stopped to ask myself why she was using bears for her imagery, rather than some other animal. Only afterward, did I do so.
After Tender Morsels, I read Jose Saramago's swan song, The Elephant's Journey, and [not to ruin anything for anyone here] but, at the end of the book I could not help but wonder if this was [in a symbolic way] the very method that Saramago chose to say good-bye to us.
It is just that I guess I only realize symbolism [if it is there at all] in retrospect.
And I feel that it ruins things to anticipate it.
When I open the first page of a novel -- when I read the first line of a poem -- I don't warily walk in. I sort of fall in.
It's only after, when I climb out -- drive my car, go to work, fill Jack's food-dish and water-bowl, pay my bills online, flip the eggs in a skillet -- only then do I realize what an author has done with me.
The day-to-day world is scientific enough.
Reading can be such a wonderful departure.


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

As the poet said, the pine trees may wave at the sky, but the sky does not answer. It doesn't answer men either, even though most of them have known the right prayers since they were children, the problem is finding a language that god can understand.

-- Jose Saramago, The Elephant's Journey --

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

The past is an immense area of stony ground that many people would like to drive across as if it were a road, while others move patiently from stone to stone, lifting each one because they need to know what lies beneath.
-- Jose Saramago, The Elephant's Journey --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jose & Pilar

Jose & Pilar - love from CLAUDIA RITA OLIVEIRA on Vimeo.

This evening I shall finish the last Jose Saramago novel, The Elephant's Journey.
Be sure to click on the above link to see other portions of the film Iberian Union, about the love between this inimitable author and his wife, Pilar.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Two Great Books

Those of you who know practically anything about me -- well, you know that I pretty much live to read.
And eat hamburger. And drink coffee. And put food in Jack's dish.
But mostly, I love the first thing --
I want to tell you about Two Great Books.
One I just finished -- and one I just started.

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan. Finished it yesterday. READ THIS BOOK!
There you go -- a review in three words! Seriously, it is that good!
I unequivocally endorse it, and without reservation.
Wait…. perhaps I have one reservation
--> you have to be willing to travel. To another world. And to cavort with Bears. And to believe in witchery.
This novel… which you will find in the Young Teen section of the bookstore [work with me, here]… is a
RADICAL re-telling of a Grimm's Fairy Tale called…… no, never mind -- you don't need to know this -- it is such a masterful revision that really, the original story is like a milkless bowl of bran flakes when you can have ham and eggs! And toast. [Just like you don't need to know the myth of Cupid and Psyche to read C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces five times over!]
In a nutshell though, Ms. Lanagan has written a timeless tale of the peril involved in inflicting our own desires upon the lives of others. How one person's "heaven" may not be that of another. How true love allows the differences to be experienced.
If I were to expound upon the
craft of the author, I would never quit tapping on these keys. It is exquisitely woven.
I dislike flaws, incongruities, chasms of inexplicability left open. Even in my science-fiction. When I read the last page of
Tender Morsels, I thought a lot about the story -- I reconsidered nearly everything. Searched for errors. It made me think about my own ideas about desires and longings -- fulfilled and unfulfilled -- and I concluded that this story cannot really be improved upon.
Like the tale of the Garden of Eden in Genesis, Tender Morsels is not about what
happened, but about what happens!

The Elephant's Journey, by Jose Saramago. Started it today.
How can I recommend a book that I have only read the first 33 pages of?
Because the book is by Jose Saramago!
He happens to be my favourite author, after one whose initials are W.S.
Not Will Self. Not Saroyan.]
This is the last novel he wrote. This is the first Saramagian dustjacket that has
two dates under his name, at the back.
It is already so exquisite, those first 33 pages, that I could cry. It is the story of an elephant's……… [go figure]……….. journey.
From Lisbon to Vienna.
On foot.
When? [Who cares……..] but, for sake of specificity, the year is 1551.
Admittedly, this is a bit preemptive, but, if you have not read Saramago, have you really ever read anything?

Better than cats. More important than coffee.
In Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs -- one level
higher than hamburger!

Splash du Jour: Thursday

There’s a long tradition of using stories as ways to provide moral guidance, but I know I don’t enjoy feeling preached-at when I read – I like an author to leave me at a point where my own brain is buzzing with questions and possibilities, rather than to tie everything up neatly and conclusively, allowing only one way of interpreting what’s happened.
-- Margo Lanagan --

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Well, I am doing a very rare thing today and that is not going to work.
I have had a real bad cold and/or flu for the past couple of days and went to work yesterday when it would have been wiser to stay at home and get over it.
Today is that day!
I am nowhere near as energetic as these human monkeys in the clip...

Have a great Wednesday!


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.
-- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

Well, I thought I were set for life then, I had so much gold. But then I found that human wants are like an evil fart; they will swell to fill every corner of whatever wealth is available.
-- From Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Update: Christopher Hitchens

This will be one of the shortest blogs I ever hath.... blogged.
If you are anything like me, you have wondered from time to time about the state of Christopher Hitchens since his diagnosis of esophageal cancer, in June.
I wish that I had happened upon better news than the following, today.

Click --> HERE to read an update as only Mr. Hitchens himself can tell it, in his inimitable way. I am greatly saddened to hear of the severity of his illness.

Splash du Jour: Friday

He thought about what his father had said to him while they sat together that afternoon in the hills, after the war: There is only one question that matters. In whose embrace do you wish to be when you die.
-- The Winter Vault, Anne Michaels --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Her Winter Clothes

Lucjan slipped his hands into the warmth of Jean's neck and unwound her scarf. He pushed his hands under her beret and loosened between the comb of his fingers her hair, cold as metal, from the winter street. Jean held up her arms and he drew her sweater over her head. Piece by piece, her winter clothes fell to the floor. She no longer knew which parts of her were cold and which were burning hot. She felt the roughness of his sweater and his trousers down all the length of her and it was this roughness that she would always remember -- scrubbed in her nakedness by his clothes and his smell.

The first phase of the hosting portion of my vacation week has ended.
I have a friend staying with me now, but he is not high maintenance. So I have had time to finally finish this Anne Michaels book, The Winter Vault.
I feel that it was an exquisite read. I'd like to go on to her former novel at some point in time [Fugitive Pieces]… I liken the feel of her writing to Michael Ondaatje.
The Winter Vault is a thought-provoking, searing, and mostly sad novel about displacement and loss. The author writes in that non plot-driven, poetic, oft-aphoristic way that I tend to love from time to time. There is a sense of intensified awareness throughout -- the characters bristle with a readiness.
I chose the above excerpt as an example of the poetry of the prose.
Notice that Lucjan does not loosen her hair between the comb of his fingers.
He loosens between the comb of his fingers her hair.

Check out this excellent [intelligent / critical] review by Sam at BOOK CHASE.