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 336 Dead brothers, bird lights, comets & Roman-candled keyholes in your backyard

Dear Internet,

Our last evening in Rome we went to an opening at Atelier gallery in Monti, met up with various friends from our Roman days (including the authors of Wordatlas) ... even unexpectedly ran into Leonardo Luccone (translator of The Revisionist) who happened to be walking by (& who's WATT magazine is up to vol 3,14 (like Sleepingfish they started with volumes 0 then 0.5, leading us to think they might also go the Zeno route, but instead they jumped straight to pi). Strange how you see people more when you live in separate cities than when they lived (or live) in your own backyard. Earlier in the day walked around Testaccio & up the Aventino, then met Chiara Barzini for lunch. Went for a last run along the flooded Tiber the next morning & said ciao to Rome & the starlings ... for now.

keyhole knights of malta

secret keyhole up on the Aventino (door to the Knights of Malta compound) ...


st peters thru keyhole

what you see when you peep through the keyhole

On the plane back read Bird Lovers, Backyard by Thalia Field—various essays musing mostly on animal behavior, Nazis, story-telling & what not. Her spirit bird seems to be the pigeon ... the first piece is a meditation of sorts on the «pigeon problem». One time in our youth when we were in La Paz, Bolivia—surrounded even at that altitude by pigeons—it occurred to us that pigeons were perhaps spies implanted in our culture by aliens. They live after all pretty much anywhere we live. More lately we think of pigeons as peregrine food.

Starlings make a cameo later in Field's field book, most notably the pet starling that Konrad Lorenz evidently kept. Besides the gaggle of geese that followed him around, Lorenz had a pet jackdaw named Tchock (though we find no evidence of this on you, Internet ... in fact «Tchock Lorenz Jackdaw» is, was, a 3-word googlewhack leading to an interestingly scanned-in Naval docket) ... we wonder if Thom Yorke derived his secret pseudonym from Lorenz's bird .... Tchock being the call note of the jackdaw.

Or maybe Field is making this all up. Regardless ... «jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz».

In writing this for you, Internet, it seems we often strive for googlewhacks of sorts ... archiving otherwise disparate words & names together in the same post. Though often we thread morphemes across posts, like peregrines & Yorke also made an appearance in post #334 ... written in route from New York (pronounced the Italian way w/ 5 syllables).

And Thalia Field blurbed The Revisionist, which we already mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.

Thalia Field: Bird Lovers, Backyard

Bird Lovers, Backyard in our own backyard

In another essay Field talks about William Blake, mostly in relation to his dead brother ... of interest to us in the context of the SSES SSEY book we are working on, for & by our own dead brother (who also appears in post 334 (we might not know what it is, but we are stringing something together here ... we're going somewhere with all this)).

«Brothers who have died provide a thin vulgar layer that supports life. In the radioactive, there is energy bent in the wrong direction, and new loss. But there's a story that will steer the dead back toward us, or grant access to the dark matter between orbiting masses. Dead brothers are as common as death. And what's not to love in death?»

And then again:

«How many dead brothers does it take to resolve mythology? [...] The brother's death is the echo of our father's death, which allows the story to give itself blind spots.»

True that. And writing or transcribing the story is an echo of the original odyssey. And how many dead brothers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Also interesting (in light of our recent reflection on Hale-Bopp & our own brother (who died at the height of its closeness to Earth in its most recent passing) is that Blake also associated a comet (the Great one of 1811, which he witnessed & which held the record of being the longest visible to the naked eye ... until Hale-Bopp came around) with both his brother & Milton:

«Picture a naked man bent ecstatically backward as he descends dark stairs, his muscular body in perfect condition, his face hidden. A star with a burning tail shoots through the picture, entering the man's right foot at the top. The comet is Milton. It is with the right foot that one steps into the spiritual world. Also on the image, a printed word, the name: "Robert." This is the illustration of William's brother as he appeared to William in spiritual form. Blake had watched his brother die from tuberculosis. Together they had started the printing shop, but William got frustrated with the work. Without Robert he continued unsuccessfully—until Robert's ghost visited and gave him new formulas for inks and binders, a new process of engraving, new modes of printing.»

... though it seems Field mixed up the names written on the image:

William Blake: Milton comet brother

It is William himself taking the comet up his right foot (to us akin to a nail ... as you hang on the cross). We like the idea of William Blake—in his blending of text & image in his illuminated manuscripts—but must admit we haven't been able to get thru much of his work & aesthetically his art just doesn't jive with us. But belatingly reading Thalia field's essays has us interested to explore more (as well as to read & reread Konrad Lorenz (Nazi-lover or not)).

Depp as Blake

Johnny Depp as William Blake

All we need to do now is bring River Phoenix & Twinkies (as anthropomorphisms) into the equation, to bring it to a close.

What else ... endured the Chris Burden show at New Museum. Just a bunch of big gimmicky installations ... seems to be the norm these days. Nothing really thought provoking. This story about Cornelius Gurlitt has got us gripped ... the idea of this reclusive hermit (Nazi-lover or not) bunkering up with all these works of art, known only to him ... taking them out each night for his own private viewing.

Gave Deep Ellum a last line edit & sent it to the printer. Got Niceties back from the printer & am sending out review copies (if anyone wants one contact us). Been waking up at 3:30 a.m. lately. Seems to be our favorite time of day. It's now 6:13, November 19, 2013. That's all we have to say about that ...

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[  com.Posted 2013  derek white  |  calamari press   ]