Which is just to say: with its dusky jacaranda defining the background of lives lived in the wordless, formless, concept-less background of silence, behind laws & without need of explanations, a brief smoldering between two eternities of darkness, the full narrative of has chosen to privilege the foreshadowing of the airy persimmons of those-who-have; divided by the shaping intelligence which moves over such flamboyant surfaces with the incisional scalpel of negative dialectics, the ruins ancien of a dusty greek village with its falling walls, or the contours that define identity by a laying on of handprints and the occasional caricature of a face, the squally transactions, while down-sixes mountains look indifferently on upon the mad puppeteering of culture that seeks death in beauty & surcease in war ... I mean he’s in the ICU. I mean I was trotting along and suddenly it started raining and snowing and you said it was hailing but hailing hits you on the head hard so it was really snowing and raining and I was in such a hurry to meet you but the traffic was acting exactly like the sky and suddenly I see a headline AMIRI BARAKA HOSPITALIZED IN CRITICAL CONDITION! there is no snow in Hollywood there is no rain in California I have been to lots of parties and acted perfectly disgraceful but I never actually collapsed oh Amiri Baraka tho you wrote that totally shitty 9/11 poem we love you get up – “Raise your voice / with the tongue / of your pen,” wrote the early cabalist Abraham Abulafia more than seven hundred years ago, and this is what these writers have done for millennia, writing in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, classical and vernacular Arabic, French, Spanish, Amazigh. Reading them provides more than the pleasure of seeing “what the poets in North Africa are doing these days.” Although Stephen Watts insists in the Summer 2013 issue of Banipal that this anthology “should not be read as filling a gap in our ignorance, but rather as indicating a source of difference … another regime of cultural viability,” I cannot see why erasing a smidgen of our ignorance would be wrong, for as Joris and Tengour calmly observe, this literature arrives from a part of the world “whose cultural achievements — including their impact on and importance for Western culture — have been not only passively neglected but often actively ‘disappeared’ or written out of the record.” So each was allowed to perish according to his joys. John Peck's “argura” is another made-up word. It is a creature altogether different from kuboaa. As is the expression “Holding onto the cactus.” But “Tokyo Drift” is awesome. Which brings me to “47 Ronin”. The legend of the 47 Ronin is essentially a simple story of honor and revenge, but the tale so pivotally hinges on Japanese customs and caste systems that it almost feels designed to resist any sort of foreign repurposing. The historical narrative begins with an 18th century feudal lord who was compelled to commit ritualistic suicide (or “Harakiri”, to namecheck the title of a much better movie) after assaulting a devious court official. The lord’s death left the 47 samurai who served him without a master, rendering them ronin, a shamed and dishonored class of wayward warriors with no social value. In response to their collective neutering, the men banded together and spent two years plotting their revenge on the bureaucrat who upset the lord they served. The fallout of their vengeance would be remembered as the campaign’s defining detail, and remains the facet of the story that is perhaps least conducive to translation. But where native cinematic titans like Kenji Mizoguchi and Hiroshi Inagaki struggled to successfully adapt this historical saga, Hollywood was dedicated to succeed. If those two revered auteurs produced authentic human epics that were overwhelmed by the vast scope of their drama, Universal Studios’ version would solve that problem by doubling down on myth and removing every last trace of humanity, adding generic flourishes of magic to the story (witches! giant creatures! that heavily tattooed guy who used to be one of Lady Gaga’s backup dancers!) The film is presented in 3D, a redundancy to ensure that you have absolutely no idea what you’re looking at, which is good, ‘cause otherwise it’s all like Keanu squaring off with a tumored Sasquatch. But “Tokyo Drift” is awesome. So don’t look so sad. Who wants to need more? My job is to be a stapler, not a copy machine. Or is it the other way round? I am a human with an uncertain body and an even vaguer body of work. I represent the box in the attic. Never mind neat and methodical. I’m not a Gemini. Anyhow, “[...] the science of plant talk is challenging long-held definitions of communication and behavior as the sole province of animals. Each discovery erodes what we thought we knew about what plants do and what they can do. To learn what else they’re capable of, we have to stop anthropomorphizing plants, said Baldwin, who is now at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and try instead to think like them, to phytomorphize ourselves.” They have alpaca beans here at the airport. We surge over a contraption of plywood and talk water as I juggle the words of an emphatic perspective involving glue and Pythagorean consonants. My entire slam stunned the workmen. I winced and gave a great groan as we spread our leather in a spring of expansion, which mollified the sculptors. And now I must bump into another chronicle of beams and photogenic powder. An eye necessitates flutter, so we flutter. And they know what is stardust around our blood.
[Note: Sources: JBR; Manish Verma, ekphrastic FB comment, 24 Dec 013 (re an artwork by Jeannette Leuers); JBR; Frank O’Hara, “Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]”, with interpolations by JBR (who got his news about Baraka from a FB post by Susan M Schultz, 24 Dec 013); Brooke Horvath, and Jean Sénac, “Heliopolis”, quoted in Horvath’s “POEMS FOR THE MILLENNIUM Volume Four: North African Literature Edited by Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour”, at Rain Taxi, Fall 013; David Ehrlich, “Review: 47 Ronin”, at Film.com, 23 Dec 013; Robert Archambeau, “The Open Word: A Letter to Peter O’Leary”, at Talisman; JBR; Shin Yu Pai, FB post, 24 Dec 013; JBR; David Ehrlich, “Review: 47 Ronin”, at Film.com; Del Ray Cross, “mmlvi”, at Anachronizms, 24 Dec 013; JBR; Kat McGowan, “The Secret Language of Plants”, at Quanta, 24 Dec 013; John Olson, “Whispered Bingo, at Tillalala Chronicles, 24 Dec 013]