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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, May 31, 2022

Murakami signatures in first part of Wind Up Bird Chronicle


*Aimless 30-year old male protagonist, left by wife

*Association with adolescent girl 

*Other female figures as objects of sexual desire  

*Suggestions of incest 

*Communication with alternate reality / occult / divination 

*Maleficent right-wing figures

*Sheep or other ovine animals 

*Long shadow of Japanese Imperialism

*Use of random music (jazz, rock, or classical) / cooking as punctation, like listening to music while making spaghetti and then the phone rings... The music is always specifically named. 

*Search for lost cat 

Of course, this does not make any given novel unoriginal. I'm sure all writers have favorite situations or character types that work well for their particular imagination. It's almost comforting to see a motif you've seen in a few other novels, because the novelist is teaching you how to read him. 

Jeopardy Style

 This 1947 book uses 99 separate styles to recount an anecdote about a man with a long neck, wearing a hat, on a bus, who later meets a man to consult with him about his overcoat. 

What is Exercises de Style?  


 I was thinking about the circle of fifths as I was falling asleep--or failing to fall asleep--the other night. 

Going around the circle, each new key adds a sharp, on the seventh degree of the scale.  So G has F#, D adds C#, etc... At the bottom of the circle F# adds E#.  At every point of the circle there is one fewer shared notes. So G shares all but one note with C, and F#, at six positions of distance, shares only one note. At first, I was thinking that Gb or F# had five notes in common with C, since there are two white notes in the this scale. But then I realized that the B would have to be spelled as a C flat.  

With the flat keys on the other side of the circle, each new key loses a flat.  Of course, losing a flat is the same as adding a sharp, so the same pattern is observed. With the circle of fourths (reading counterclockwise), each key adds flat, and that flat is always the fourth degree of the scale, so that F adds Bb, Bb adds Eb, Eb adds Ab, Ab adds Db, Db adds Gb, Gb adds Cb.  Usually, I would be asleep by now thinking about this, but this particular night I just kept going.  If I had stayed awake longer I would have figured out why the fourth corresponds to the 7th going the other way.  I do know that the sequence of sharps added follows the same sequence as the circle of fifths itself, starting with F#, C#, G#, D#...  The flats are the same order, in retrograde.  

{The reason why it's flatting the fourth the other way around is very obvious: the fourth of the key becomes the seventh of the next key, in the circle of fifths.} 

[The sharp added will be the 7th, as we said, so that previous sharp added will the 3rd in that new scale. The one added before that will be 6th, then the 2nd, the fifth.  Finally, there will be key that begins on that first sharp added (F#).] 

Monday, May 30, 2022


 The blank-slate protagonist of Murakami's novels works pretty well. The aimlessness, lack of connection to the world, even his mediocrity, make him available to what is proposed to him. He has negative capability. Someone with more of a definite personality would not work as well.  He has to be free (left by his wife, un- or under-employed), a bit stoic. It doesn't matter that it is the same generic character in several different novels. A reader (male at least) can identify with him as an everyman. 

Of course, he has to be strong too, resilient when things start to happen. Mediocre everyman has to rise to the occasion.  The modesty has a power of its own. It doesn't even matter that many of the other characters are more interesting than the protagonist. He doesn't have to be interesting because things happen to him.   


The banality of the original anecdote of Queneau's stylistic exercises is similar. A story with more inherent interest would not work, because the key is the stylistic variation.  



Cante jondo

Andalucía tiene 

autobuses siniestros

donde llora la gente.  

¡Ay, amor,

que se se va y no vuelve!

En la encrucijada verde

del llanto en los olivos

el puñal se pierde

¡Ay, amor,

que se se va y no vuelve!

Y el puñal, ay,

se hunde en el pasajero

que en el atardecer muere.

¡Ay, amor,

que se se va y no vuelve!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Dated Slang

 Jeepers creepers! This hepcat, ya dig?  He's got some groovy threads, with this porkpie hat. I thought he'd have cool wheels, too, with a get up like that, but there he was on the city bus, probably going back to his crib to shed, like all the cats used to do. Anyway, this other cat is standing there, throwing shade his direction, so finally the first cat, he's like, daddio! I'm just cooling my heels here, I don't dig the way you're cramping my style. He kept riffing like that for a while, then took a load off in an empty seat. 

I saw this same mofo later with this ofay cat, on the other side of the tracks. I thought the other cat was the man, but they were just comparing their threads, just two jive turkeys. 

Intersectional, 2020s style

This incident occurred on the ancestral lands of the Missouri and Illini peoples, in a city built by the labor of the descendants of previously enslaved persons and Latinx immigrants. 

There was this cis-gender male, masculine presenting--though his retro hat made me think at first that he was an ally of the LGBTQ+community. (Either that, or he was just a gentrifying hipster.) Standing behind him on the bus was a Stan in a MAGA hat, who was manspreading, his elbows and knees jutting into black and brown bodies. I don't mean to body-shame him (if that is the pronoun that would use), and perhaps he was not neuro-typical, so I don't want to make any ableist assumptions here. Maybe he was just an incel, though.There was a white woman with a Karen haircut on the bus who looked like she was ready to call 911 or ask to speak to the manager, and some TERFS glaring at a pre-transition transman, visibly pregnant, who was sitting in a seat reserved for the differently abled. 

So the cis-gender person in the hipster fedora turned around and asked the alt-right fan of Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson to check his privilege... 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Dick and Jane

 See the man.  The man has a hat.  The man in the hat is on the bus. He has no seat. The man is mad. 

This man is on the bus too. He has no hat. He has no seat. He hits the man in the hat.  

The man in the hat is mad.  He is mad at the man with no hat. He sits on a seat.  

Now, the man in the hat is not on the bus. He is with a man. They chat about a coat.  

Dream of Novel

 This was a complex dream about doing a book review of a Latin American novel. It was by Carpentier or by Ariel Dorfman, and was about 100 pages. In the dream I only had access to a small portion of it. But I was also a character in the novel, in a sense. We (a woman and I) were on the police and we had a prisoner that we were keeping hidden from the rest of the police force, to protect him. Another, burly officer interfered. We arrested him, but he got away and threatened me. He was much larger than I was, and the rest of the police were not helping us.  

The dream went on for what seemed to be several hours. Some of it was the action in the dream-novel, and some the action of attempting to read the book. 

Of course, the names Dorfman and Carpentier are real, but have nothing to do with the plot of this particular dream. They just came up as I was desperately trying to fix in my memory everything about the novel so that I could write the book review when I woke up.  


 Ain't life strange? At the end of the day, a man has to do what a man has to do, ya know what I mean?  After all, everything happens for a reason, like they say. I'm not saying these things happen only once in a blue moon; they're more like our daily bread, to tell the truth.     

 We were packed like sardines on the bus; it was hot as hell. This pencil-neck geek is standing there, like he had all the time in the world and not a care in the world. His fancy-pants hat stood out like a sore thumb, no doubt about it. The other guy, like a bull in china-shop, he's bumping into people like there's no tomorrow. So he turns around, pencil-neck does, and gives the evil eye to bull-in-a china-shop, and says, "Hey, Mac, you're disturbing the peace. This isn't cool." He's a wolf in sheep's clothing, I reckon. I didn't think he had it in him, bless his heart. The other guy, he's like "Don't make a federal case of it. Why are giving me the third degree?" Then the first guy takes a load off, shooting daggers.  

Later the same day, you wouldn't believe it, I saw the same guy, completely out of the blue. There he was, plain as the nose on your face, with his evil twin, like two peas in a pod. They were cooling their heels and chewing the fat about some needle in the haystack. You'd think money grew on trees.   

Friday, May 27, 2022


 Words cannot describe the scene on the bus. I find it impossible to find any way of expressing my astonishment at the hat the man was wearing, nor the attitude of je ne sais quoi in his demeanor. Truly, the language is failing me! What happened next reveals the incapacity of human systems of signs to convey the complexity of reality: the indescribable man in the ineffable hat turned around and uttered an unimaginably violent diatribe that I am unable to reproduce here, against a fellow traveler to whom I can do no justice. 

Later, I saw him in a place that beggars all description, talking to another person whom my prose style is utterly inadequate to depict.    

More tritones

 If you draw the circle of fifths, with C major at the "12 o'clock" position, and going clockwise, then the tritone for C (F# or Gb) will be at 6 o'clock.  And so on, the tritone of the key at the 1 position will be at the 7, 2 and 8, 3 and 9...  

A key six degrees away isn't all that related, but... the C 7 and the Gb 7chords share the two notes, the 3rd and the 7th (reversed), in this case, E and Bb.  The distance between this 3rd and seventh is also a tritone. In jazz voicing, the fifth and tonic are often left out, so a chord of these two notes could be ambiguous.  

So you can substitute one dominant chord for its tritone equivalent. If you have G7 resolving to C major seven, you can use D flat instead. You get a cool voice leading, with the root of the chord descending a half step, the third descending a half step, (f to e) and the seventh remaining the same (b - b).  


[spooky music plays]

 It was gloomy afternoon; the bus was crammed with unsmiling commuters. There was something definitely "off" about the pallid young man standing in the aisle. I sensed it immediately when I caught sight of his uncannily long neck, his cold eyes, and his weirdly outdated garb. In place of a band, his hat sported a thin cord, as if to suggest a hangman's noose.   It was as though he was a ghost visiting from another century. At one point he turned around and gave a piercing, withering stare to the man standing behind him.  "Sir, stop jostling me." Espying an empty seat, he sat down. 

Later in the day, I felt a malignant presence in the air as I was walking by the train station. I turned around, only to see the ghostly figure from the train standing next to another sinister-looking personage. The two of them were hunched over in their overcoats, as though conspiring to commit an unspeakable act.   

Anglo Saxon

 A bump on the bus    a body jostled

A hat on his head    he hassles his neighbor 

Seeing a seat   he sits and fumes

Later he lingers     listens to council 

About a button    banging his fist 

Thursday, May 26, 2022


 A representative of the petit-bourgeois, a slave to false-consciousness, attempted to exert social control over a member of the lumpen-proletarian, in a symptomatic expression of reactionary hegemony. Later, the petit-bourgeois subject was seen with another of his same class, plotting counter-revolutionary actions.    


 The other day, something happened. A couple o' people. One with something strange on his head, some weird deformity, too, maybe. Some part of his body was abnormally short or long. They got into it, one angry with the other for some real or imagined offense. They had words, then one of them sat down somewhere. 

Later, I saw one of them somewhere, else, discussing something else related to clothing, with some other person.  

Dream of tritones

 In this dream we had to be matched with our corresponding tritones, so that if I was a G, for example, I had to have as a partner a D flat.  It wasn't a sexual or romantic thing it all, just a matter of finding someone complementary in some way to work with on some project. It was also unclear what made someone a particular note.  


While the tritone can seem dissident, it is present in diminished and dominant 7 chords. So the 3rd and seventh in a dominant chord will be a tritone, and the tonic and fifth, and third and 7th, will be tritones in the half diminished. 

It is not true, by the way, the it is "the devil in music" in the Middle Ages. That designation dates from the 18th century. I don't think they would have forbade this interval because it is devilish, but simply not used it because Western harmony had not developed a use for it yet.  


 I want to book my travel to Spain, and I am sitting here trying to use the travel system set up by my university, and apparently designed by Franz Kafka and George Orwell. There is an hour long video you can watch, a training module that you can access after logging in, but I have no idea how to log on in the first place, etc... Nobody answers the phone.  I've been sitting at my computer for an hour going back and forth to different places.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


 --So, like, what happened next? 

--Um, this, um, guy on the bus, you see...


--Like, he... he was wearing this hat, you see, with this sorta cord or something, like, in place of the hat... the hatband, you see. He had this, um, weird long kind of neck, and ...

--So, um... you were going to say?

--Oh yeah. Um.  This guy, well, as I was saying, er... This other guy, you know, was standing next to the hat um guy, the guy with the hat, I mean. And, um, and long neck starts it up with him, he was like, "Dude, like, you're like jostling me every, like every time the bus starts and stops." Then, um, he sees an empty, like a seat, and um... goes and sit down.  You know what I mean?  

--Well... yeah, and so?  

--Yeah, so, um later the same dude, I see him, you know, later the same day somewhere else, you know, and, you know, he's with his pal... 

--The guy with the hat, right? 

--Right, I dunno, but now, right? This other guy's like, dude, some kind of button, right? You should put an extra, like, button, he should sew it on, like in his coat.  


I've decided to write some of my own variations on Queneau's story. I took B to the hospital for a routine thing and had a notebook with me and got some ideas.  

More exercises


 The subject reported an incident he had witnessed on a municipal bus the previous week, invoking two other individuals.  The first of these, a caucasian male between the ages of 25 and 30, was wearing a hat with a cord in place of the usual band. His only other distinguishing feature was an unusually elongated neck. Standing next to him was another caucasian male. At some point, the individual wearing the hat interpellated the other passenger in a harsh and threatening tone of voice, accusing him of jostling him repeatedly whenever another passenger entered or exited the vehicle. Then, seeing an empty seat, the first individual desisted from his tirade and sat down. 

The subject also reported seeing the hatted passenger later near a train station, having a discussion about the buttons of his coat.   



This dandy on the bus, strangely hatted

Jostled by another in the crowd 

He whines, threatens strangers

Now he finds an empty seat

Jostled by another in the crowd

As though buffeted by the winds of fate

Now he finds an empty seat 

In this way the story ends before it truly begins

As though buffeted by the winds of fate

He arranges to meet his friend over by the station

In this way the story ends before it truly begins 

A pretext for a banal film adaptation 

He arranges to meet his friend over by the station

This dandy on the bus, strangely hatted 

A pretext for a banal film adaptation... 

He whines, threatens strangers


This motherfucker with this damned hat on, man, with this long-ass neck.  On the shitty bus. This other shithead standing next to the first fucker, you know, he kept fucking with him, like, damn, pushing up against him whenever the bus moved or someone other cocksucking asshole tried to get by. So the first fucker, he goes, like, hey, asshole, like, why are you fucking with me? Do you want me to fuck up your face? Rip you a new one?  Don't be a goddamn douchebag!  The other dude was, like, Jesus H. Christ,  what the fuck? The bus is fucking crowded, I can't fucking help it. Screw you, he said. Then the mother with the stupid-ass hat found a friggin seat and sat the hell down. 

Later, I was down by the fucking train station and saw him and said to myself, "damn, that's one of the asshats from the goddamned bus, the fucker with the fuckin' hat. Fuck this shit!" Now he was with this other jerk-off, talking about sewing buttons on their fucking overcoats. Fuck 'em all!       


The sunlight, filtered through the dirty panes of the city bus, illuminated fine grains of dust in the air. The conveyance was filled to the brim, as though some invisible force had conspired with the laws of chance to set in motion a series of unusual events. A young gentleman with a long giraffe-like neck, sporting an ostentatious hat adorned with a fine silken cord, cut a striking figure. A seasoned newspaper reporter riding the bus would have noticed that at one point the young man turned around and leveled an accusation against another, rather nondescript man, saying that he had been jostling him without cease during the entire ride. At that very moment a seat freed up and the strikingly hatted gentleman took possession of it. 

It seemed coincidental that this same distinctively looking man was later seen down by the station, getting sagacious advice from a third individual about minor alteration to his overcoat... 

Symposium of the Whole

 I picked up this at the used book store. The first section is snippets from Blake, Thoreau, Herder, Marx, Fenellosa, Lorca, Pound, Olson, and others that are supposed to be precursors of Rothenberg's conception of ethnopoetics. It's mostly European / American romanticism-through-modernism. It's all male too, in this section of the book. Ethnic poetics is supposed to save us from our Eurocentrism, but, to my mind, that's a European trope. So we get Fenellosa and Pound imagining the Chinese language. We don't get to see a Chinese view of it. 

The critique is almost too easy to make. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


 I found a copy of Excercises de Style yesterday at our used book store, The Dusty Bookshelf. I was looking to see whether there was any Murakami and came out with that instead. 

 A guy with a hat on and a long neck on a bus complains about another passenger jostling him Then finds an empty seat. The narrator later sees long-neck hat dude somewhere else, and a friend of long-neck tells him to sew a button on his overcoat.  

Raymond Queneau tells this banal story in 99 different ways. It is 1947, a classic of postmodern literature. Not knowing French very well is no obstacle for me to understand the concept here.  It makes me want to write something similar. 

Monday, May 23, 2022


 La Tsubasa dormia amb la galta al coixí i la boca lleugerament oberta. La seva respiració no podria haver estat més silenciosa, i el cos pràcticament no se li movia; només, de tant en tant, li tremolaven una mica les espatlles. 

Murakami, Haruki. 1Q84. Llibres 1 i 2 (EMPURIES NARRATIVA) (Catalan Edition) (p. 335). Grup 62. Kindle Edition. 

Notes:  Catalan uses a definite article with names, so "la Tsubasa" means just "Tsubasa."

Tsubasa slept with her cheek? on the pillow? and her mouth slightly open. Her breath could not have been quieter, and her body practically did not move; only, from time to time, her shoulders trembled a bit.  

This is practically transparent to me.  I can guess from context that galta is a check and coixí a pillow. Lleugerament sounds like "ligeramente," [lightly], but slightly makes more sense in English.  

It's a bit of a cognitive burden to read it in Catalan, especially since is very long novel.  I love Murakami, and I love Catalan, but somehow I don't love Murakami in Catalan.  

Sunday, May 22, 2022


 Táíwò is against the politics of "deference," which means the automatic deference to the less privileged in the room. He points out that this is well intentioned, but that the unprivileged people are not in the room at all, so it ends up being a deference to the elites of colonialized groups. In practice, I am unlikely to stop deferring to people. If we are talking about abortion rights, I will defer to women in the room. 

("The room" is his own wording here.) I remember an earnest discussion of privilege and the like years ago at an MLA convention session. I noticed that the people on the panel and audience members involved in the very intense debate could not see the African American woman hotel worker who had come in to refill the water pitchers. It was as if she were invisible, like the people mowing the lawn or doing maintenance work are to students on a college campus. Socially invisible, like Ralph Ellison's protagonist.   

Now, in the part I am listening to now, he talks about Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Freire's notion of the "banking" model of pedagogy. I already know about this, so I am not learning anything new here. That is, I don't have a profound understanding of this, but this exposition does not go beyond what I know.  

I cannot say I am disagreeing with Táíwò, but the book is a bit repetitive and not so well organized. Maybe this is function of listening to it rather than reading it. I don't yet have a notion of what the "constructive" politics he advocates for involves, beyond looking past the "deference" politics that he is not very enamored of.

He does that thing "the political scientist Blank," "the philosopher Blank," identifying each person by their academic expertise.  Although I normally find this distracting, it is actually good for an audio book, when I do not know the people he is citing. Maybe I am wrong to look down on this practice, then? With a printed book, I can look at the footnotes, or make note of the name visually.  

Saturday, May 21, 2022


 The MacGuffin is a plot device in which some object of the quest is merely there as an object of the quest, with no inherent value in itself, like the Maltese falcon in the film of the same name. The MacGuffin is always a red herring of some sort, because the literal object of the quest is never that important in the end. It could be anything at all. It is the narrative structure itself that invests it with meaning. 

The word is associated with Hitchcock, but the principle is more universal than that. What makes the MacGuffin the MacGuffin is the transparency of its fakeness. "Here is this flimsy plot device for you to focus on; now, on with the show." 

Last book?

 B said last night that my Lorca/music book might be my last one.  I didn't argue, because that's a possibility, but I feel I should also write the book about translation from Spanish into English from the early modern period through Antonio Machado.  


The poet Guadalupe Grande died early last year, but her facebook page is still up. I knew her a bit; she was part of the circle of Mestre, who would invite me to his house. Her father was Félix Grande, her mother, Francisca Aguirre,  poets of the 50s generation. 

Since her face book page is still up people last year (and this year) are leaving her birthday wishes, not knowing that she is no longer with us.  I guess that is the hazard of being "friends" on facebook. You know the person, or who the person is at least, and have generally warm feelings for them, but you don't know them well enough to realize that they are dead.  I wrote something on her timeline pointing out that it wasn't such a happy occasion, since 70 people had written on her timelines with "felicitaciones."  

The dual narrative

 One technique Murakami uses (a lot; Hardboiled wonderland and the end of the world, 1Q84, Kafka) is the parallel narrative. Odd numbered chapters tell one story, even numbered ones another, and gradually there is a convergence of the two plots. There is a lot of thematic play in the parallel universes. They seem to be about the same underlying thing, even when they seem to describe separate things. 


Murakami will often tell us directly that things are "symbolic" or "metaphorical." The characters in Kafka talk directly about the Oedipal plot, for example. I groan inside at this signposting.   


Several novels feature a guy about 30, whose wife as left him or who is unattached. He has sex with some emotionally unavailable women without any real romantic interest on his own part. There is often an unconsummated (thankfully) attraction toward a 17 years old girl. He is at a creative crossroads. He is a painter who just paints by commission, not expressing his own voice (Comendatore); he is a novelist who rewrites someone else's novel (Tengo in 1Q84). The implicit plot, then, is how to become a writer; how to channel creativity toward a goal that one desires oneself, not imposed by someone else or on other people's terms. 

He is a lone wolf. He doesn't care much about conforming to Japanese norms of material success. He is also rather aimless, unmotivated, assigned tasks not of his own choosing. This creates a tension in the novels' plots.  He searches for something that he doesn't really desire, or for something absurd. I think of him as the same character (minor differences aside) is each book. In other words, the subjectivity is structured along the same lines. There are various talismanic objects that serve as a bridge between normal reality and something beyond. A painting, a song, a bell, an entrance stone, a unicorn skull, a mutant sheep. 

There is a long shadow cast by WWII and Japanese imperialism; another shadow cast by the failed student activism of the 1970s.  

In short, reading several novels by the same novelist, there is a code to crack. It's not very difficult, assuming the novelist wants you to crack the code and feeds you the information rather directly. What the reader is doing is making sense of things in a kind of structuralist way, figuring out that one object or character  in one novel is the equivalent of another object or character in another novel. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Wild Sheep Chase

 I finished this novel today. It was one of the first Murakami novels I read, and one of the first he wrote, so I am coming back full circle. It was better than I remembered it.  I think the absurdity of the quest narrative is well done. In other words, the quest is an absurd and silly one, so it turns into a parody of the quest narrative, but still the quest narrative keeps the plot afloat and is meaningful in and of itself. (He has a thing of the silly simile, which is another parodic device.) I like that refusal to take things too seriously. The quest is what's important, not the spurious object of the quest.  

In English we say "a wild goose chase" for such a pointless quest. 

The quest is undertaken somewhat involuntarily, as in Kafka on the Shore. The characters do not know why they are seeking what they are seeking, and find what they are looking for seemingly by chance or intuition.  

Nobody in the novel, including the narrator has a proper name. Everyone is identified by a function or at most a nickname. The narrator appears to be the same person as the narrator of Pinball 1973.  

I found the notebook in which I was putting all my readings.  I hadn't updated it in several years, but here I  go again.   

Monday, May 16, 2022

Elite Capture (ii)

 According to the Elite Capture book I am listening to, the ivory tower elites took over Black Studies programs, making them serve elite interests rather than "the black working class." But I would think that the programs were elite from the beginning?    


 If you don't see Russia as aggressive, then you don't have to join NATO. So now that Russia is waging war against Ukraine, Finland and Sweden want to join NATO. If the goal was to counter NATO expansion, then the effect is the opposite.  

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Elite Capture

 I'm listening to an audio book in my car, Elite Capture, by Táíwò, a Nigerian man living in the US. Elite capture means just what it sounds like, that elites take things over. So in foreign aid, the elite of the country awarded the aid benefits more than the impoverished masses. A country becomes independent, but the leaders of the newly independent postcolonial nation have policies that benefit themselves, the elites of which they form a part, and the former colonial power. Identity politics gets taken over by elites within identity groups, for the benefit of corporate and managerial elites. 

This process repeats itself in various contexts. It is not a "conspiracy," but just something that tends to happen because the elites have the resources to do this over and over again. 

The author is not against identity politics, but against the cooptation of everything, everywhere, by elite groups. The concept of elite capture is not a new one, but the application to identity politics in particular is an interesting one.  

The Ukraine Stupidity

 It's not that complex. It's not good to overthink these things.  It's not NATO's fault. It isn't because there were Nazis in Ukraine. Those explanations, offered by far left and far right people, and idiotic centrists, make absolutely no sense. 

I read in the nation that Russian invasion of Ukraine is not real threat to "Europe," but where the hell is Ukraine?  It is in Europe, last time I checked. 

Some on the left want to apologize for Putin, because???  nostalgia for Soviet times?  On the right, because, stick it to Biden? 

 I heard that Chomsky was saying that only Trump was offering a good solution here, Trump, who Chomsky was very recently calling the most evil man ever in the history of the world.   

Saturday, May 14, 2022


 In English, miraculously second-person pronouns are gender neutral. The pronoun we use is "you," for both singular and plural. It is thus impossible to misgender a person by "addressing" them with the wrong pronoun. I have had conversations with people for a long time and never had to commit to what gender they are by my use of pronouns. I suppose "you guys" is a vernacular plural pronoun gendered masculine, but you can avoid that one if you want.  

In Spanish class, I use "tú," which is also gender neutral.  Amazing! The gender enters into "vosotros/vosotras" but we tend to use ustedes. Usted comes from "vuestra merced" and thus was originally feminine in gender, but used to address men as well. 

There, right wing and left wing people, I have solved your imaginary pronoun problems.  Just address everyone as "you." 

Astoundingly, the first person is also gender neutral in English and Spanish. So the pronouns I use for myself at home are I / me / mine.  I bet that is true for you as well. 

You literally cannot address someone in the third person. By doing so, you are converting the third person pronoun into a second person pronoun. If I said "how is she doing today?" and referring to you, you would be confused.  

Friday, May 13, 2022

Pinball 1973

 I reread Murakami's first, "kitchen table novels" on the trip to DC.  They reveal some talent, without being great. The characters are rather aimless and passive, and the rhythmic punctuation of the narrative is done with smoking and drinking.  This gets monotonous. The translation captures the aimless nonchalance of what I am assuming is the same tone in the original. Reading in English is certainly better (for me) than in Catalan, since the English translator can get the tone that way. Either the Catalan translators use a neutral tone, or I am incapable of hearing tonal nuances in Catalan. 

I also started Kafka on the Shore, which I found in Christina's bedroom in my brother's house, where I was staying.  (That's the guest bedroom now.) I have a copy of this novel in my office so I will pick it up next time I go in, along with the rest of my Murakami novels. 

Reading a book ten years later (after one's initial reading) means two things: one is a different person now, and one has forgotten a lot of it. 


 My brother and I don't always talk, and have sometimes gone years without seeing each other. When we are together, we get along great. When I listen to myself on video recordings, I recognize intonations and facial expressions that we both have. We are the same height, both have PhDs, though in vastly different fields. (His is quantitative, and he works in private consulting, after some years in academia and government.) He is skinnier than I am, though that used to be the reverse. 

We have some similar hobbies. We began to play piano without talking to each other about it, within a few years of each other. He plays Goldberg Variations; I play jazz and Mompou and Chopin. He started birdwatching recently; I started a year a go.  He has an expensive camera to take bird pictures; I don't take many pictures, and only have my phone as camera.  (We went on my last trip to DC [this week] to a place where there were lots of cedar waxwings and other song and aquatic birds. 

We both run, though I haven't been running recently, and he has done a marathon this year. We both like Samuel Beckett.   

 I left the church early; he has lapsed more recently. None of our daughters is religious. One of his, Chris, is about the same age as my Julia.  

In short, it is like having someone who is different enough to be contrasting in some ways, but with underlying commonalities. I know this sounds rather banal to point out, since that is the expected result of two people of the same gender sharing common genetics and upbringing. 


  I have a new favorite painter, Rose Wylie. I don't know that she is my favorite of all time, but she is my favorite yesterday and today.  I like the exuberance and fearlessness of her work. This seemed to be what I am after nowadays, or should be after.      

I haven't seen any of it in person, but I'm sure I would like it even more in person, because the paintings are very big.  

Saturday, May 7, 2022


 I'm reading this novel by Murakami.  It is a bit slow in pace, but the plotting is interesting, the sense of anticipation, as things come gradually together. I'm using it to practice my Catalan. (I'm also reading a book in Italian on the pandemic, by Roberto Esposito.)

The Catalan is becoming almost transparent to me. It's kind of funny that to say yacht, in Catalan, is iot


Triadic Memories

 Something told me to listen to Triadic Memories, an hour-long piano piece by Morton Feldman. I've looked at the score and I think I could play most of it without struggle. I think I even "understand" it. 

You can try to follow it, as a slow, slow, plotless narration. Or you can have it in the background as soothing yet spooky meditation.  Or anything in between.  It is not particularly discordant or jarring, though of course most people do not really count Feldman as one of their favorites. I'm saying this because classical music is already a minority taste, and within that contemporary music of this type is a minority of the minority.  

I don't know what told me to listen to this.  Some resonance that the word triadic had for me, thinking of the word and then remembering the piece. The triad is the basic chord structure, so three notes, root, a third (either major or minor), and then the fifth (perfect, diminished, or augmented).