Wang Zhaojun →
fuckyeahchinesemyths: … one of the four beauties of Ancient China, and her story is real kick-ass and awesome. See, she was born during the time of the Silk Road, which was an awesome time to be born in because China was selling its Silk to the world, and…
My Caravan essay is up. Like, hurrah. Read it, then go out and buy a copy, which is a collector’s edition even without my epic dithering. I talk about a lot of books in it, but the only ones I read for ‘research’ were by George R.R. Martin, and the tagline to the proposed title (above) was “Geeks’ Avenge!” (my wise editor came up with “Apart From...
My quietness has a man in it, he is transparent and he carries me quietly, like...– Frank O’Hara, In Memory of My Feelings. (and failings)
Last night, I started to write a letter. A love letter, while we’re being honest, a condition unlikely to last long. Between twiddling my thumbs and fiddling my playlist, I turn to my shelves, settling upon Is Sex Necessary? W&T were very solicitous of my condition: “This vexing disbelief in one’s own illusion of love is experienced most alarmingly by persons of literary inclinations.. a...
not a best books of the year list..
.. if only because next week has the sexiest booklist all year. Miéville! Byatt! Crowley! Orlando! and so on and so on. If one must spend New Year’s alone, I figure, might as well do it with a bagful of boogie books. Anyway. These were the books I enjoyed most in 2011. The list doesn’t include rereads (too unwieldy) or people (Borges/Eco/Calvino) I read weekly or poetry. It also...
My finger, your phone number at its tip, dials the night. And your city...– Agha Shahid Ali, though you remind me of his trans. of Faiz in “city of many lights” as much.
There is an aristocracy of love rarer than chemicals- slow in its golden...– Peake
… will shatter the hardiest angst. This was the poem that finally got me to file my first app. You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore, find another city better than this one. Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead. How long can I let my mind moulder in this place? Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to...
on human rights day,
even sinister spinsters remember the children. “Few of these children smile. Some are wounded, and many are clearly starving, holding out their hands to the cameras or raising an empty bowl to passers-by. They wander around the debris of war, and sit astride a tank turret or the fuselage of a drowned bomber as if these were the commonplace furniture of everyday life. Even those playing...
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib’d In one self place, for where we are...– Marlowe, Dr. Faustus.
Whereso’er I turn my view, All is strange, yet nothing new; Endless...– Samuel Johnson
There is such loneliness in that gold, the moon of the nights is not the moon...– “moon” borges.
What the vertiginous chapati said to me.
Today my favourite review all year was published as the cover story of the Sunday Guardian’s arts supplement. Where the Wild Frontiers Are was my best new book from 2011. Admittedly, I don’t read that many current books — I prefer giving things time to settle down — but this year The Crippled God came out and there’s a book I’ve anticipated for six years....
Right to Return
But I am the exile. Seal me with your eyes. Take me wherever you are— Take me whatever you are. Restore to me the colour of face And the warmth of body The light of heart and eye, The salt of bread and rhythm, The taste of earth…the Motherland. Shield me with your eyes. Take me as a relic from the mansion of sorrow. Take me as a verse from my tragedy; Take me as a toy, a brick from the house So...
for more bogey-metaphors
and meta-madness, we expand our squabble, Emily Dickinson in tow. (The list of possible similes is now three pages long, and growing.) nandini: I felt a cleavage in my mind- as if my brain had split- I tried to match it- seam by seam- but could not make them fit. * din: There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away, nor any coursers like a page of prancing poetry. This...
Time and love have marked her with their talons, and they’ve cruelly...– Baudelaire, “Potion and Spell”
Two days ago, there was Chekhov’s razor. Yesterday there was Borges. For another metaphor, Zadie Smith’s scaffolding: Tis first evoked in her essay about the antipodal approaches that Barthes and Nabokov advocate: ‘Reading is creative!’ Barthes insists. ‘Yes, but the writer creates’, replies Nabokov, smoothly, and turns back to his notecards. She builds upon the books-as-houses...
In honour of the new background,
(bruegel, but of course, the “Seascape”) The old moon is tarnished With smoke of the flood, The dead leaves are varnished With colour like blood, A treacherous smiler With teeth white as milk, A savage beguiler In sheathings of silk, The sea creeps to pillage, She leaps on her prey; A child of the village Was murdered today. She came up to meet him In a smooth...
... and Judah Low,
recently of Iron Council fame. Thirsty to know things only known to God, Judah León shuffled letters endlessly, Trying them out in subtle combinations Till at last he uttered the Name that is the Key, The Gate, the Echo, the Landlord, and the Mansion, Over a dummy which, with fingers wanting grace, he fashioned, thinking to teach it the arcana Of Words and Letters and of Time...
Today’s bogey essay is all about Borges. The god whale, China Miéville’s Avanc, via The Book of Imaginary Beings Others have it that the earth has its foundation on the water; the water, on the crag; the crag, on the bull’s forehead; the bull, on a bed of sand; the sand, on Bahamut; Bahamut, on a stifling wind; the stifling wind on a mist. What lies under the mist is unknown. So...
I, a Jew.
Like the Druzes, like the moon, like death, like next week, the distant past is one of those things that can enrich ignorance. It is infinitely malleable and agreeable, far more obliging than the future and far less demanding of our efforts. It is the famous season favoured by all mythologies. Who has not, at one time or another, played with thoughts of his ancestors, with the prehistory of his...