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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

de mica en mica

I have this thing where I want to have reading knowledge of every major Romance language & German, maybe modern Greek if I get to that. Anyway, I judge this by being able to read a novel in the given language. I can do this in Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, and Portuguese, more or less. I have ordered a Romanian novel and it will arrive soon. I'm studying Romanian on duolinguo, which is not the best, but it is ok.  Novels are good because you can spend a long time with them and get absorbed in them. I actually like the experience of not understanding everything, so that my understanding of the plot depend on an imperfect understanding of the language. I am not fond of novels anyway, so this provides an extra cognitive interest, like trying to discern objects in the darkness. 

Anyway, I remembered recently that while in Spain the first time being 19 I went to Barcelona and on the way back read a novel in Catalan. I had blanked out on the title, but then I remembered it was a detective novel called De mica en mica or something like that. It is some proverb or something. Googling that I found what novel it was fairly quickly, though unfortunately it is expensive to buy on amazon.  I remember the revelation I had when I realized the helping verb anar (to go) is used not to mark the future, but the past. So vaig anar means I went, not "I am going to go." Reading along, your brain processes things. The two thousand most common words are repeated relentlessly; there are other cognates; and you assimilate grammatical concepts as well. Words you don't know you either guess from the context or ignore. It doesn't work if you know nothing of a language; you have to at least have enough to follow a plot.   

Perfect Strangers

Your poems fail because there is not enough you in them

But you solicit the opinions of perfect strangers

Dream of Misogyny

In this rather intense dream, a graduate student of ours, N, who is working on a dissertation on rock music in Latin America, had found some intensely misogynistic texts by a musician (?) saying that women should not play rock. She and I were going over the texts together, or I was turning them around in my mind. Neither of us was visibly upset; we seemed to think of it as an opportunity to learn something, though the misogyny itself was unsurprising.  

Sunday, July 12, 2020


From "Vocabulary Lessons"

Dull little
words too have
their uses

Friday, July 10, 2020


The letter A is red for me

so I prefer to write grey instead of gray


I was reading my complete poems of J. Ceravolo and I came across his translation of a poem by St. John of the Cross, "Muero porque no muero." Clearly I had read it before because I had marked it in the table of contents as a poem to come back to, but I had no memory of it. It totally floored me. 


I was talking to a friend of mine, Tony, about the first poems we had read. He asked me the first poem I had read of Frank O'Hara, and I remembered it was "The eager note..."  and Wallace Stevens "The Disillusionment at 10:00 O'Clock."  Tony said I was nice to him, treated him as an equal, when I was established academic and he was beginning grad student. That is nice to know. Of course, I would want to treat people well always, but I am not always successful.

Anyway, Tony and I are going to do a poetry workshop. Let me know if you are interested. I will be advertising on facebook since nobody reads blogs any more. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Art of the Improvisers

I am listening to Ornette Coleman's The Art of the Improvisers on my new tv, which allows me to access my entire music collection by internet. First, I discerned that it was Eddie Blackwell on the drums and not Billy Higgins. Then I was reading things and paying only intermittent attention. I noticed that every time I began to listen again it was on a Don Cherry trumpet solo, never on Ornette's own solo. Now I'm wondering whether it is Scott LaFaro or Charlie Haden on bass. I am going to say Haden, but I'm not 100% positive.  The most traditional part of this avant-garde jazz is the solid 4/4 time on bass and drums. 

Now looking it up, it looks like one song is called "The Alchemy of Scott LaFaro," but the other ones have Haden (with one by Coltrane's bass player Jimmy Garrison.).  A few cuts have Higgins on drums, too. 

I'm going through my albums alphabetically, not listening to everything, but hitting the high points. For some reason I am digging Cherry more than Ornette this evening. 


Just like traveling alters your feeling for time, so staying home aggressively, hardly leaving the house, also has an effect on time itself.  Deep concentration, on the one hand; on the other deep distraction. I am learning Romanian and Irish!  I can watch Netflix for 4 hours straight or not at all.