Flutter



Miranda Lehman

This morning was a morning of unexpected beauty. The sun was an incredible, radiant red, washing the sky in pinks and oranges. The trees and bare fields stood stark against those flaming colors, silhouettes of cold and quiet.

As I drove, I crossed paths with a ribbon of blackbirds, stretching for nearly a mile before I diverged from their course and lost them. They reminded me of one of my favorite lines:

There was an aviary in my heart but without any owls or eagles.

Fittingly, that’s from Dylan Thomas’ “The Crumbs of One Man’s Year.” I often feel an aviary in my heart, though I believe a veritable parliament of owls has taken up residence as well.

My two favorite ‘crumbs’ from that story are here:

I was walking, one afternoon in August, along a riverbank, thinking the same thoughts that I always think when I walk along a riverbank in August. As I was walking, I was thinking – now it is August and I am walking along a riverbank. I do not think I was thinking anything else. I should have been thinking of what I should have been doing, but I was thinking only of what I was doing then and it was all right: it was good, and ordinary, and slow, and idle, and old, and sure … There were trees blowing, standing still, growing, knowing, whose names I never knew. (Once, indeed, with a friend I wrote a poem beginning, ‘All trees are oaks, except fir-trees.’) There were birds being busy, or sleep-flying, in the sky. (The poem had continued: ‘All birds are robins, except crows, or rooks.’) Nature was doing what it was doing, and thinking just that. And I was walking and thinking that I was walking, and for August it was not such a cold day. And then I saw, drifting along the water. A piece of paper, and I thought: Something wonderful may be written on this paper. I was alone on the gooseberry earth, or alone for two green miles, and a message drifted towards me on that tabby-colored water that ran through the middle of the cow-patched, mooing fields. It was a message from multitudinous nowhere to my solitary self. I put out my stick and caught the piece of paper and held it close to the river-bank. It was a page torn from a very old periodical. That I could see. I leant over and read, through the water, the message on the rippling page. I made out, with difficulty, only one sentence: it commemorated the fact that, over a hundred years ago, a man in Worcester had, for a bet, eaten, at one sitting, fifty-two pounds of plums.


It was a shooting green spring morning, nimble and crocus, with all the young women treading on naked flower-stalks, the metropolitan sward, swinging their milk-pail handbags, gentle, fickle, inviting, accessible, forgiving each robustly abandoned gesture of salutation before it was made or imagined, assenting, as they reveled demurely towards the manicure salon or the typewriting office, to all the ardent unspoken endearments of shaggy strangers and the winks and pipes of clovenfooted sandwichmen. The sun thrilled, the buses gamboled, policemen and daffodils bowed in the breeze that tasted if buttermilk. Delicate carousel plashed and babbled from the public-houses which were not yet open. I felt like a young god. Removed my collar-studs and opened my shirt. I tossed back my hair. There was an aviary in my heart, but without any owls or eagles. My cheeks were cherried warm, I smelt, I thought, of sea-pinks. To the sound of madrigals sung by slim sopranos in waterfalled valleys where I was the only tenor, I leapt on to a bus. The bus was full. Carefree, open-collared, my eyes alight, my veins full of the spring as a dancer’s shoes should be full of champagne, I stood, in love and at ease and always young, on the packed lower deck. And a man of exactly my own age -- or perhaps he was a little older -- got up and offered me his seat. He said, in a respectful voice, as though to an old justice of the peace, ‘Please, won’t you take my seat?’ and then he added – ‘Sir.’


I’ve been anxious lately, feeling the weight of responsibility and an overwhelming tendency to apathy. I hope it passes with the year. I hope the year passes with little to remark upon. Last year’s finale was glittery, hollow, and not a little frightening. This year’s will be quiet and inevitable, and that’s all.

Flutter



Miranda Lehman

This morning was a morning of unexpected beauty. The sun was an incredible, radiant red, washing the sky in pinks and oranges. The trees and bare fields stood stark against those flaming colors, silhouettes of cold and quiet.

As I drove, I crossed paths with a ribbon of blackbirds, stretching for nearly a mile before I diverged from their course and lost them. They reminded me of one of my favorite lines:

There was an aviary in my heart but without any owls or eagles.

Fittingly, that’s from Dylan Thomas’ “The Crumbs of One Man’s Year.” I often feel an aviary in my heart, though I believe a veritable parliament of owls has taken up residence as well.

My two favorite ‘crumbs’ from that story are here:

I was walking, one afternoon in August, along a riverbank, thinking the same thoughts that I always think when I walk along a riverbank in August. As I was walking, I was thinking – now it is August and I am walking along a riverbank. I do not think I was thinking anything else. I should have been thinking of what I should have been doing, but I was thinking only of what I was doing then and it was all right: it was good, and ordinary, and slow, and idle, and old, and sure … There were trees blowing, standing still, growing, knowing, whose names I never knew. (Once, indeed, with a friend I wrote a poem beginning, ‘All trees are oaks, except fir-trees.’) There were birds being busy, or sleep-flying, in the sky. (The poem had continued: ‘All birds are robins, except crows, or rooks.’) Nature was doing what it was doing, and thinking just that. And I was walking and thinking that I was walking, and for August it was not such a cold day. And then I saw, drifting along the water. A piece of paper, and I thought: Something wonderful may be written on this paper. I was alone on the gooseberry earth, or alone for two green miles, and a message drifted towards me on that tabby-colored water that ran through the middle of the cow-patched, mooing fields. It was a message from multitudinous nowhere to my solitary self. I put out my stick and caught the piece of paper and held it close to the river-bank. It was a page torn from a very old periodical. That I could see. I leant over and read, through the water, the message on the rippling page. I made out, with difficulty, only one sentence: it commemorated the fact that, over a hundred years ago, a man in Worcester had, for a bet, eaten, at one sitting, fifty-two pounds of plums.


It was a shooting green spring morning, nimble and crocus, with all the young women treading on naked flower-stalks, the metropolitan sward, swinging their milk-pail handbags, gentle, fickle, inviting, accessible, forgiving each robustly abandoned gesture of salutation before it was made or imagined, assenting, as they reveled demurely towards the manicure salon or the typewriting office, to all the ardent unspoken endearments of shaggy strangers and the winks and pipes of clovenfooted sandwichmen. The sun thrilled, the buses gamboled, policemen and daffodils bowed in the breeze that tasted if buttermilk. Delicate carousel plashed and babbled from the public-houses which were not yet open. I felt like a young god. Removed my collar-studs and opened my shirt. I tossed back my hair. There was an aviary in my heart, but without any owls or eagles. My cheeks were cherried warm, I smelt, I thought, of sea-pinks. To the sound of madrigals sung by slim sopranos in waterfalled valleys where I was the only tenor, I leapt on to a bus. The bus was full. Carefree, open-collared, my eyes alight, my veins full of the spring as a dancer’s shoes should be full of champagne, I stood, in love and at ease and always young, on the packed lower deck. And a man of exactly my own age -- or perhaps he was a little older -- got up and offered me his seat. He said, in a respectful voice, as though to an old justice of the peace, ‘Please, won’t you take my seat?’ and then he added – ‘Sir.’


I’ve been anxious lately, feeling the weight of responsibility and an overwhelming tendency to apathy. I hope it passes with the year. I hope the year passes with little to remark upon. Last year’s finale was glittery, hollow, and not a little frightening. This year’s will be quiet and inevitable, and that’s all.

In Praise of Sloth

http://slought.org/content/11367/



Also from the most recent issue of Cabinet, an event which has unfortunately passed us by before I even knew it existed.

"In Defense of Sloth: An Eclectic and Entertaining Series of Presentations About that Most Philosophical of Vices"

There are a series of downloadable audio files which I plan on making my way through this evening. I'm especially interested in this one:

2:15-3:15 Presentations by Brian Dillon and Jean-Michel Rabaté Followed by Q and A
Brian Dillon's presentation, "The English Malady," will examine the historical relationship between hypochandria, sloth, and general lassitude, showing that, paradoxically, sloth can also serve as a form of time-management: a way of clearing one's schedule for real work, as the cases of James Boswell, Charles Darwin, and Florence Nightingale attest. Jean-Michel Rabaté's presentation, "In Praise of Indolence: Beckett and Belacqua," examines Beckett's early identification with Belacqua, a character in Dante's Purgatorio. His famous indolence leads him to question the very machinery of purgatory, hence salvation. His name echoes in Beckett's texts as a reminder that, at times, illumination comes to those who know how to "sit and remain quiet."

In Praise of Sloth

http://slought.org/content/11367/



Also from the most recent issue of Cabinet, an event which has unfortunately passed us by before I even knew it existed.

"In Defense of Sloth: An Eclectic and Entertaining Series of Presentations About that Most Philosophical of Vices"

There are a series of downloadable audio files which I plan on making my way through this evening. I'm especially interested in this one:

2:15-3:15 Presentations by Brian Dillon and Jean-Michel Rabaté Followed by Q and A
Brian Dillon's presentation, "The English Malady," will examine the historical relationship between hypochandria, sloth, and general lassitude, showing that, paradoxically, sloth can also serve as a form of time-management: a way of clearing one's schedule for real work, as the cases of James Boswell, Charles Darwin, and Florence Nightingale attest. Jean-Michel Rabaté's presentation, "In Praise of Indolence: Beckett and Belacqua," examines Beckett's early identification with Belacqua, a character in Dante's Purgatorio. His famous indolence leads him to question the very machinery of purgatory, hence salvation. His name echoes in Beckett's texts as a reminder that, at times, illumination comes to those who know how to "sit and remain quiet."

On Eating Hydrogen and Breathing Sulfur

(Two posts! One Day! Scroll Down!)

(scan from Cabinet Magazine, click to enlarge)

Pyrodictium:

For a while, it held the record as the highest-temperature organism at 113 degrees Celsius. It eats hydrogen and breathes sulfur.

I was reading through the latest issue of Cabinet Magazine yesterday and came across a very interesting article called “Figuring Life” by Margaret Wertheim. In it, she describes her interview with Dr. Norman Pace, “a leader in the new field of molecular mapping of evolutionary relationships.” I found their conversation fascinating, especially the description of the changes that have affected Darwin’s Tree of Life, the tree I learned of in grade school and carry around as a mental model today. We are now classifying life based on the sort of chemistry that the organism does, and the previously animal/plant-centric tree has been usurped by a teeming cloud of microscopic eukarya, bacteria, and my new favorite organisms: archaea.

Every time I start to get my mind working on scientific topics, I get a funny, light-headed feeling that reminds me of the way you feel when you’re standing on the edge of a tall precipice and looking down at the interminable drop below. I feel like Hans Castorp in Magic Mountain when he contemplates his Homo Dei in its infinity of perfect cellular processes. But it feels SO important to be glancing in the direction of science, especially with regards to biological, chemical, and physical processes. Process is the important part. When I was studying Whitehead, the last few classes were spent reading excerpts out of various texts on the philosophy of biology. The majority were by an author whose name escapes me (had a J in it…) and were excellent for opening my eyes to the philosophical ramifications of minute, microscopic processes.

I think of Leibniz’s description of the most perfect garden which, at every level, contains such variety and perfection of life that the image takes on fractal-like proportions. Or of Whitehead’s more sterile modeling of the processes and change of the universe, in the attempt to discover the patterns and principles of the way life operates. I wish I had more scientific knowledge because I mostly feel amateurish when I try to pursue a train of thinking that launches from some interesting scientific reading (whenever I read about knot theory and string theory for example) and falls flat in the realm of philosophy because I’m currently incapable of translating a scientific problem into a philosophical problem without losing something, or everything that is vital.

The light-headed feeling that I get makes me think that however difficult it is, this is a very important exercise to continue trying.

On Eating Hydrogen and Breathing Sulfur

(Two posts! One Day! Scroll Down!)

(scan from Cabinet Magazine, click to enlarge)

Pyrodictium:

For a while, it held the record as the highest-temperature organism at 113 degrees Celsius. It eats hydrogen and breathes sulfur.

I was reading through the latest issue of Cabinet Magazine yesterday and came across a very interesting article called “Figuring Life” by Margaret Wertheim. In it, she describes her interview with Dr. Norman Pace, “a leader in the new field of molecular mapping of evolutionary relationships.” I found their conversation fascinating, especially the description of the changes that have affected Darwin’s Tree of Life, the tree I learned of in grade school and carry around as a mental model today. We are now classifying life based on the sort of chemistry that the organism does, and the previously animal/plant-centric tree has been usurped by a teeming cloud of microscopic eukarya, bacteria, and my new favorite organisms: archaea.

Every time I start to get my mind working on scientific topics, I get a funny, light-headed feeling that reminds me of the way you feel when you’re standing on the edge of a tall precipice and looking down at the interminable drop below. I feel like Hans Castorp in Magic Mountain when he contemplates his Homo Dei in its infinity of perfect cellular processes. But it feels SO important to be glancing in the direction of science, especially with regards to biological, chemical, and physical processes. Process is the important part. When I was studying Whitehead, the last few classes were spent reading excerpts out of various texts on the philosophy of biology. The majority were by an author whose name escapes me (had a J in it…) and were excellent for opening my eyes to the philosophical ramifications of minute, microscopic processes.

I think of Leibniz’s description of the most perfect garden which, at every level, contains such variety and perfection of life that the image takes on fractal-like proportions. Or of Whitehead’s more sterile modeling of the processes and change of the universe, in the attempt to discover the patterns and principles of the way life operates. I wish I had more scientific knowledge because I mostly feel amateurish when I try to pursue a train of thinking that launches from some interesting scientific reading (whenever I read about knot theory and string theory for example) and falls flat in the realm of philosophy because I’m currently incapable of translating a scientific problem into a philosophical problem without losing something, or everything that is vital.

The light-headed feeling that I get makes me think that however difficult it is, this is a very important exercise to continue trying.

Memorious

Miranda Lehman


I have long kept a reading journal, a place where I can record passages or phrases that have struck me as particularly thought-provoking, beautiful, or even comic. I also use these journals to jot down my thoughts on a text and to make a note of any follow up I intend on doing. I love being able to rewrite the passages that were able to arrest my attention and my aesthetic interest—in doing so I underline their importance in my mind and render even more indelible the impression they have left on my thoughts.

The copying out process may seem tedious or unnecessary, but to me it’s like tracing the lineaments of some beloved figure. It allows me to appreciate and to come closer to what I have read and found to have much merit. The works which have had the greatest influence on me are, unsurprisingly, the ones which appear most often in my writings and references: Villette, Magic Mountain, the Man Without Qualities, Recherche du temps Perdu, Orlando, and To the Lighthouse. I might even put Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar and Borges’ stories “The Library of Babel” and “Ireneo Funes, The Memorious” in the list, simply because they presented such new and important thoughts/ways of thinking to me.

I’ve recently finished re-reading Villette (for probably the tenth time), and despite the familiarity of the passages marked by well-folded upper corners, I read new phrases, saw new glimmers of emotion, and found new passages to love and transcribe.

And in catalepsy and a dead trance I studiously held the quick of my nature.

But all this was nothing. I too felt those autumn suns and saw those harvest moons, and I almost wished to be covered up in earth and turf, deep out of their influence; for could not live in their light, nor make them comrades, nor yield them affection.

No mockery in the world ever sounds so hollow to me as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure.

Her eyes were the eyes of one who can remember – one whose childhood does not fade like a dream, nor whose youth vanish like a sunbeam. She would not take life loosely and incoherently, in parts, and let one season slip as she entered on another; she would retain and
add, often review from the commencement, and so grow in harmony and consistency as she grew in years.


‘But solitude is sadness.’
‘Yes, it is sadness. Life, however, has worse than that. Deeper than melancholy lies heart-break.’

Beautiful words which encapsulate more emotion than is healthy for me. I found myself weeping at the end of the story, as is usual. Lucy Snowe is a character who breaks your heart: the “quick” of her nature isn’t cold, inoffensive, pale, sober, or quiet or any of the epithets so often thrown at her. She will appear that way, but she will feel with the strength of a Vashti, of a summer storm, of a maelstrom, and she will feel loss as painfully as any less-restrained character, but she will suffer that pain in solitude.

Memorious

Miranda Lehman


I have long kept a reading journal, a place where I can record passages or phrases that have struck me as particularly thought-provoking, beautiful, or even comic. I also use these journals to jot down my thoughts on a text and to make a note of any follow up I intend on doing. I love being able to rewrite the passages that were able to arrest my attention and my aesthetic interest—in doing so I underline their importance in my mind and render even more indelible the impression they have left on my thoughts.

The copying out process may seem tedious or unnecessary, but to me it’s like tracing the lineaments of some beloved figure. It allows me to appreciate and to come closer to what I have read and found to have much merit. The works which have had the greatest influence on me are, unsurprisingly, the ones which appear most often in my writings and references: Villette, Magic Mountain, the Man Without Qualities, Recherche du temps Perdu, Orlando, and To the Lighthouse. I might even put Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar and Borges’ stories “The Library of Babel” and “Ireneo Funes, The Memorious” in the list, simply because they presented such new and important thoughts/ways of thinking to me.

I’ve recently finished re-reading Villette (for probably the tenth time), and despite the familiarity of the passages marked by well-folded upper corners, I read new phrases, saw new glimmers of emotion, and found new passages to love and transcribe.

And in catalepsy and a dead trance I studiously held the quick of my nature.

But all this was nothing. I too felt those autumn suns and saw those harvest moons, and I almost wished to be covered up in earth and turf, deep out of their influence; for could not live in their light, nor make them comrades, nor yield them affection.

No mockery in the world ever sounds so hollow to me as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure.

Her eyes were the eyes of one who can remember – one whose childhood does not fade like a dream, nor whose youth vanish like a sunbeam. She would not take life loosely and incoherently, in parts, and let one season slip as she entered on another; she would retain and
add, often review from the commencement, and so grow in harmony and consistency as she grew in years.


‘But solitude is sadness.’
‘Yes, it is sadness. Life, however, has worse than that. Deeper than melancholy lies heart-break.’

Beautiful words which encapsulate more emotion than is healthy for me. I found myself weeping at the end of the story, as is usual. Lucy Snowe is a character who breaks your heart: the “quick” of her nature isn’t cold, inoffensive, pale, sober, or quiet or any of the epithets so often thrown at her. She will appear that way, but she will feel with the strength of a Vashti, of a summer storm, of a maelstrom, and she will feel loss as painfully as any less-restrained character, but she will suffer that pain in solitude.

More from Beirut

(I believe these legs/feet belong to VV and Hotel from The Kills, but I'm not sure...)

I have a proper post in the works, but until then, I give you these liner notes from Flying Club Cup:

The balloon is ready, I’ve tethered it to the balcony with a knot no sailor could invent. Ignore the gathering crowd below. Plebeians! Maybe if we look closely we will find our mothers waving handkerchiefs, and our fathers scowling. If we see any children we’ll throw them candy but don’t tell them why we’re up here, floating above Belleville in a hot air balloon. If they knew, they’d never want to sleep in their own beds again.

Remember how we met? Barefoot on the beach (the hem of your dress was starched white with salt). I was flying a beautiful kite. Yours was ragged and obviously self made. After a few failed attempts you threw your kite on the sand and stomped on it. I wondered if it was your first kite. Kite making, you assured me, was not your specialty. But we are too old for kites. Let us toast the Flying Club Cup, our health, a quick painless death, and helium.

I’m going to sleep so well tonight
Breathe in, deeply now, okay do you feel it?
Don’t worry, we’re finally here.

More from Beirut

(I believe these legs/feet belong to VV and Hotel from The Kills, but I'm not sure...)

I have a proper post in the works, but until then, I give you these liner notes from Flying Club Cup:

The balloon is ready, I’ve tethered it to the balcony with a knot no sailor could invent. Ignore the gathering crowd below. Plebeians! Maybe if we look closely we will find our mothers waving handkerchiefs, and our fathers scowling. If we see any children we’ll throw them candy but don’t tell them why we’re up here, floating above Belleville in a hot air balloon. If they knew, they’d never want to sleep in their own beds again.

Remember how we met? Barefoot on the beach (the hem of your dress was starched white with salt). I was flying a beautiful kite. Yours was ragged and obviously self made. After a few failed attempts you threw your kite on the sand and stomped on it. I wondered if it was your first kite. Kite making, you assured me, was not your specialty. But we are too old for kites. Let us toast the Flying Club Cup, our health, a quick painless death, and helium.

I’m going to sleep so well tonight
Breathe in, deeply now, okay do you feel it?
Don’t worry, we’re finally here.

Crush

I'm late to the party, but I've fallen hard and fast:

Crush

I'm late to the party, but I've fallen hard and fast: