Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something/Someone Old 222old.jpg

My "Something Old" this week almost looks like it can't be real. It almost looks like somebody did a photoshop job on a hill in southern Peru. But apparently, they've found a new Nazca line. If, like me, you've never heard of Nazca lines until now, they are apparently giant pre-Columbian glyphs drawn in the desert on hillsides and stones. They look like doodles made by gigantic children, mostly outlines of animals and plants and what people are calling "fantastic figures" and "imaginary beings." Since they don't know what the ancient people were trying to depict, it seems a little premature--and arrogant--to assume that the subjects were "imaginary"--I'd rather say "unusual," or at least preface the "imaginary" with some modifier like "probably"--but never mind; the discoveries are still cool.

Here's a geoglyph that was discovered last October in southern Peru. They think it was made between 200 and 100 B.C. (following the lead of the great Eddie Izzard, I imagine all those ancient pre-Columbian people going "B.C.? Who's he?"):

Isn't this great? It's 120 feet long.

more cat doodles.jpg

I guess they liked cats too.

Something New

A lot of poetry these days seems to me to be a recitation of talking points about race, gender, or sexual identity. Poems seem to be judged by the degree to which they voice certain political views from certain positions of identity. It's a weird experience for me, because throughout my twenties, thirties, and even my early forties, I would have been celebrating the emergence of under-represented voices and what I guess I would have called, back then, liberal or left-wing politics in poetry. One of the weirdest things about the Age of Obama and Trump is seeing the causes I advocated in my youth turned into something that feels remarkably like received wisdom, and highly produced received wisdom at that. Even when it's authentic--in the sense that the individual speaking believes what she or he says--it feels catechetical. Texts seem to exist for the purpose of echoing a settled morality, and they seem to expect, maybe even to require, certain responses. This is particularly true when it comes to the leftism of academic circles, in which I was deeply involved, and which I am starting to wish we'd never articulated.

I still feel it would be ridiculous to preclude the discussion of politics in poetry, mainly because poetry should be able to discuss everything, but also because politics often has a powerful and vivid effect on people's lives. What is powerful and vivid in a person's life should be able to be expressed in poetry, which offers some of the most concentrated language around--when it's done right. Further, as I have reason to know, poetry can help when the suffocating sensation of ineradicable injustice lands on your chest.

Yet I can't wrap my head around judging the quality of poems by the acceptability of their themes, nor by the gender, race, or sexual identity of their creators. I think back to the young woman I was, and I won't deny that I was delighted to read Adrienne Rich because she was a lesbian. But I was delighted because this was a lesbian who wrote poetry I liked very much--not simply because this was a lesbian speaking. And I was equally delighted to read James Wright, a heterosexual white man whose poetry I loved. Then there were poets like W.H. Auden and Mary Oliver. I was glad to find out that Auden was a gay man and Oliver a lesbian, because growing up queer in the 1980s was a lonely and sometimes difficult thing. We were wrapped in silence. It was good to hear a friendly voice.

But neither politics nor shared identity excused bad art. I remember a film called "Claire of the Moon," an erotic movie that was self-produced as a vanity project by some lesbian whose name I forget. My friend Ellen and I laughed uproariously at it, and she told me that, when she first saw it and laughed, her partner reprimanded her "You can't laugh at that; it's sacred!" We didn't agree. Neither politics nor shared identity are a replacement for art well done.

A poem is supposed to have some resonance that takes it beyond a political speech. I believed that then, and I believe it now. Here are a couple of new poems I like:

by Paul Tran

There’s a dark so deep beneath the sea the creatures beget their own
light. This feat, this fact of adaptation, I could say, is beautiful

though the creatures are hideous. Lanternfish. Hatchetfish. Viperfish.
I, not unlike them, forfeited beauty to glimpse the world hidden

by eternal darkness. I subsisted on falling matter, unaware
from where or why matter fell, and on weaker creatures beguiled

by my luminosity. My hideous face opening, suddenly, to take them
into a darkness darker and more eternal than this underworld

underwater. I swam and swam toward nowhere and nothing.
I, after so much isolation, so much indifference, kept going

even if going meant only waiting, hovering in place. So far below, so far
away from the rest of life, the terrestrial made possible by and thereby

dependent upon light, I did what I had to do. I stalked. I killed.
I wanted to feel in my body my body at work, working to stay

alive. I swam. I kept going. I waited. I found myself without meaning
to, without contriving meaning at the time, in time, in the company

of creatures who, hideous like me, had to be their own illumination.
Their own god. Their own genesis. Often we feuded. Often we fused

like anglerfish. Blood to blood. Desire to desire. We were wild. Bewildered.
Beautiful in our wilderness and wildness. In the most extreme conditions

we proved that life can exist. I exist. I am my life, I thought, approaching
at last the bottom of the sea. It wasn’t the bottom. It wasn’t the sea.

"Under Limestone"
by Richie Hofman

It rained in fluted torrents,
the earth smelled of manure.
It was like desire
entering and possessing you quietly.
We undressed.
The sun through the windows made shapes
on the couch I lay face down on.
Our jeans were soaked
and wrinkled on the radiator, our socks heavy.
Then your eyes were opening a little.
Then you could hear the mopeds starting up again.
When it was dry enough, we found a small bistro
where we had prosecco and fries,
and took pictures of one another in our damp clothes
under trees and buildings
of the hated regime.

Something Borrowed

I didn't know this version of "Song to the Siren" was a cover until recently. Apparently, "Song to the Siren" was written by Tim Buckley and his writing partner Larry Beckett and was released by Buckley on his 1970 album Starsailor. This is a version by Elizabeth Fraser and Robert Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins, released under the aegis of the music collective This Mortal Coil:

Something Blue

More beautiful blue art, this time sculptures of glass courtesy of artist Carol Milne. These glass sculptures are inspired by fiber. I guess this is what happens when a sculptor learns to knit and loves it:

blue art.jpeg

more blue art.jpeg

More of her work can be found here:

Hope you guys are doing OK today!

17 users have voted.


Really enjoyed the "Bioluminescence"
on several levels, some deep.

Thanks for the Something ONBB
always a pleasure

11 users have voted.

Korean War Armistice Agreement 68 years ago

which was never negotiated into a peace agreement

11 users have voted.
studentofearth's picture

@QMS in the past 24 hours North and South Korea are communicating again with each other again.

North and South Korea signalled a surprise thaw in relations on Tuesday, announcing the restoration of cross-border communications that were severed more than a year ago and revealing that their leaders had exchanged a series of letters.
“According to the agreement made between the top leaders, the north and the south took a measure to re-operate all inter-Korean communication liaison lines from 10:00 on July 27,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported.

Communication has to happen for peace to grow.

13 users have voted.

Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Raggedy Ann's picture

I have a glass fetish so the glass art really drew me in - thanks for that.

I've had company the past week - a sister I never met since I was given up for adoption. It's been a week of discovery on so many levels.

Enjoy the day! Pleasantry

14 users have voted.

"The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live." Chris Hedges on 9/11

wendy davis's picture

@Raggedy Ann

I've had company the past week - a sister I never met since I was given up for adoption.

that occasion is sincerely hard to imagine! i hope it enriched both of your hearts, souls, and spirits. finding one another to begin with is also breath-takingly amazing.

13 users have voted.

I just got a text from CStMS, she has lost her internet and may not be able to respond right away to the comments posted in this OT.

Probably Putin hacked her internet. Or maybe Big Joe expanding his censorship net.

12 users have voted.

@JtC I guess ice cream issues in Gaza and the West bank are more important.

Not that it matters, but Ben & Jerry's ice cream sales in the Occupied Territories were said to be miniscule. sound and fury signifying nothing.

10 users have voted.



in tomorrows' OT
still roughing it out

3 users have voted.

@QMS In the interim between my comment earlier, and now, I read a NY Times piece and posted it.

I look forward to your insights tomorrow. As I told liberalmoonbat, this is an area I know very little and probably understand even less. I will welcome learning about this and clearing up my misunderstanding. Obviously, I agreed with the NY Times view. Which in itself, is very rare and suspicious.

3 users have voted.


wendy davis's picture

geoglyph was only recently discovered. had it been covered with some material until recently? did peruvians not travel to southern peru?

but hooray to pedro castillo finally being named the new president of peru! former ruling fujimori family is terrifying!

the knit glass is extraordinary; i'd clicked thru many of the images of her work, but she'd given away no trade secrets. (i'd been hoping to learn if she hand blows each strand, for instance.)

we finally got some blessed rain: one and 24 hundedths of an inch! the roof leaked, but OTOH, two does brought their fawns out to play in the damp grass: a single, and two twins.

best to all, and thanks for the diary. CStMS.

10 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

internet is down. It's a hidden dependency we've mostly all acquired, not a thing we joyously celebrate or relish and savor, yet something we miss enormously when it is absent, a source of frustration and angst. Ah well.

The "New" Nazca line is interesting in that something so old, of such magnitude, could be hidden in plain sight for so long. Of course, the altiplano is inhospitable and largely deserted and untraveled but still, wow. We have similar, smaller figures tramped out in the Ca desert by peoples long gone, north of the town of Blythe up along and west of the Colorado River. Known as the Blythe Intaglios, they are a tad difficult to see and appreciate properly from the ground and are fenced off for their protection, but something to go see if you have some free time and are out there in the back of nowhere for some reason. (Really, Blythe isn't all that bad and has a nice park and campground overlooking the river, but "across the river from Yuma" isn't much of an address.)

People are slow to change, especially when the pressure of tradition and rote is backed up by veritable hordes who will immediately leap vociferously to the defense of the newly abandoned or replaced archaism in the name of both tradition and superstitious veneration. The proper date designations are BCE and CE, but they are still rarely seen, even in scholarly publications. And the good old internet makes it so easy to accidentally forego them; mark, ctrl-c, ctrl-v and voila! my text now contains some bit of data or information marred by the old style designations by which dates are referenced to the alleged birth of some alleged godling of the near-east, and not somebody like Atahualpa, John Donne or Jack Keroac. Infuriating, it is. ("Before Jerry" has a nice ring to it, but the abbreviation raises eyebrows.)

who dines on prosecco and fries? really? nize poems all the same. That's just my own cultural history intruding, I mean, forever it has been "burger and fries" so fries belong to burger and that calls for a cabernet or zinfandel. Lacking a burger however, then, I guess prosecco and a "wish sandwich"(tm) --

be well and have a good one

8 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

3 users have voted.

10 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Hi all, and CSTMS,

The Nazca were a people and culture, and a desert. Recently a species of bird has been named the Nazca Booby, formerly a subspecies of Masked Booby.

I have known about the Nazca lines a while just because of the bird images. Some of which seem fairly identifiable as the Andean Condor and the Hummingbird. Lots of animals are amongst the various works. They have been known about a long time. Long ago some thought they were map markers. Fairly sorta forgotten. Certainly no one understood and knew the magnitude of them. My understanding is that the big picture of them was discovered via people studying satellite photos. Many are so big as to not be so obvious when on the ground next to them, or in it, but they were from way up high in the sky.
scroll below article to see lots of the amazing work of these people.

Hope all are well!

5 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

enhydra lutris's picture

and then, iirc, there was an U-2 overflight or two, and, eventually, to top it off, satellite.

I've seen Nazca Boobies, in the Galapagos. Very striking.

be well and have a good one.

3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

dystopian's picture

@enhydra lutris wow very cool EL! I never made the Galapagos. The main easy ID tell is that Nazca has a bright orange bill, Masked is greenish yellow. I haven't seen Nazca, only Masked. The first Nazca reported in CA was on the CBC I compiled, Palos Verdes Peninsula, but since there was no state record yet, they only scored it as Masked/Nazca Booby-1. The guy was on a boat and it flew right over his head. He called me and asked why the Masked Booby he saw had an orange bill when the books show greenish yellow! He didn't know orange-billed Nazca had just been split. I seawatched the next day, to no avail.

2 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein