Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Green Magic / La Magia Verde

As I walked by numerous stalls in one of the Saturday-morning flea markets which are prevalent all over northern California, just browsing the same things over, I unexpectedly came upon a very different stall. This one had many charms and other amulets to welcome love and fortune, and ward off evil spirits.

As a bookish sort, I became interested in a collection of many small books in Spanish; particularly one which was titled ‘La Magia Verde’ (Green Magic). I don’t know what attracted me to this book in particular other than my attraction to green colored things in general; likely stemming from childhood stories in which green is the color of forests, hence mystery. My mother used to tell us kids children stories on Sunday afternoons by the chimney with a roaring fire. There, drinking Orange Crush or Fanta, magic woods and enchanted forests would come to life in the fires of the chimney and my mother’s voice.

Green magic – Mix the wing of bats and the mushrooms picked from a cemetery; good luck will follow you.

I haggled for the book; I wanted it for $3.00. The man and the woman wanted $5.00. Another customer said that green magic is not true or doesn’t work. I told him that it all depends on what you believe. For it seems to me that sometimes we want to control our lives immediately and while we may not truly know what is good for us, we want the control anyway. I’m exasperated by waiting for tomorrow; I want Green Magic to help me today. The Lady in Green who lives in the tree beckons me. Inside her tree lies a wonderful world, of childish innocence and natural harmony. I want to go back inside it. On that particular day, however, I only had $3.00 left.

Alas… Thus I lost the book on La Magia Verde. However, I feel now that I need it even more today, if nothing else to remind me of the wonder that was once my childhood. Yet in fact, Green Magic is within us for it is nothing more than manipulating forces that are around us but whose influence we don’t perceive. The important thing though is that they’re there.

Two bullfrog skins mixed with the blood of a young lizard will yield a potion of power over another person.

Powders exist to lure a desired love or to ward off evil spirits; lotions and elixirs to make oneself irresistible to another person. That’s how to affect the environment rather than waiting for heavenly intervention or fate to step in; though it’s well worth remembering that one often meets one’s fate by attempting to avert it [Oedipus Rex]. So if this is true, we are not averting our own end but perhaps only the means.

Obviously, the lesson here is that for Green Magic to be truly effective, you must know what it is that you seek. Or is this unnecessary? For Green Magic may also protect you from unwanted interference rather than merely changing your fate. There’s a definite advantage in this, because you are warding off evil influences. Who needs evil influences in their life? Thus Green Magic can greatly help you to command the forces around you and achieve a feng-shui like arrangement with all the forces that surround you—of love, life and fortune. Nice!

By Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name

Monday, April 26, 2010

Selected Notes on Anton Chekhov

"It is not quite exact to say that Chekhov dealt in charming and ineffectual people. It is a little more true to say that his men and women are charming because they are ineffectual…. Chekhov’s intellectual was a man who combined the deepest human decency of which man is capable with an almost ridiculous inability to put his ideals and principle into action; a man devoted to moral beauty, the welfare of his people, the welfare of the universe, but unable in his private life to do anything useful; frittering away his provincial existence in a haze of utopian dreams; knowing exactly what is good, what is worth while live for, but at the same time sinking lower and lower in the mud of a humdrum existence, unhappy in love, hopelessly inefficient in everything—a good man who cannot make good."

"What we see is a continuous stumble through all Chekhov’s stories, but it is the stumble of a man who stumbles because he is staring at the stars. He is unhappy, that man, and he makes others unhappy; he loves not his brethren, not those nearest to him, but the remotest. The plight of a negro in a distant land, of a Chinese coolie, of a workman in the remote Urals, affects him with a keener pang of moral pain that the misfortunes of his neighbor or the troubles of his wife. Chekhov took a special artistic pleasure in fixing all the delicate varieties of that pre-war [World War One], pre-revoluition type of Russian intellectual. Those men could dream; they could not rule. They broke their own lives and the lives of others, they were silly, weak, futile, hysterical; but Chekhov suggests, blessed by the country that could produce that particular type of man. They missed opportunities, they shunned action, they spent sleepless nights in planning worlds they could not build; but the mere fact of such men, full of such fervor, fire of abnegation, pureness of spirit, moral elevation, this mere fact of such men having lived and probably still living somewhere somehow in the ruthless and sordid Russia of to-day is a promise of better things to come for the world at large—for perhaps the most admirable among the admirable laws of Nature is the survival of the weakest."

Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Russian Literature (NY: Harvest/HBJ, 1981), pp. 253-254

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moving to Titan

There comes a time in everyone's life when you have to take a stand on something. What that something may be is irrelevant; the point is to take a stand. NOTE: Standing on one foot does not equate to taking a stand. Anyway, I have at various times, called the mayor "Fats", gave up eating chives on Wednesdays in protest against something or other, smoked pot for the revolution, wore a black beret and called myself "Che", stopped wearing underwear, and other such revolutionary activities -- typical of a petit-bourgeois at heart.

However, I have now decided to make take the ultimate stand -- I am moving to Saturn’s moon, Titan, soon. I am not sure what I am taking a stand against -- but it's all good. It must be a worthwhile cause, hence this is a proactive stance in anticipation of a just cause, however unknown.

In fact, I have written a song about it. Sing along with me (use a Rap beat):
I might be moving to Titan soon, to become a dental floss tycoon. BOOM BOOM BAPA BOOM BOOM (Heavy bass lines) Will sit in my methane cocoon, BOOM BOOM BAPA BOOM BOOM, thinking what a fool they are BOOM BOOM BAPA BOOM BOOM staying there on the earth below, BOOM BOOM BAPA BOOM BOOM , no orange Titan methane skies BOOM BOOM BAPA BOOM BOOM Titan is ma home alone two.

I will admit that living in -192 degree temperatures sounds a little cold -- but I will light a fire and ignite all of the methane in the atmosphere. That will light the sky and make a statement for the unknown cause I support.

An ode to a cause unknown:

Oh cause unknown, had I known you, I know I would have followed your call, however unknown, cause unknown... (here you get on one knee and touch your heart with your right hand and your forehead with your left hand) Yet I dearly wept for not knowing you, but I did not know that I did not know you... but I realized that I did not know you because you were unknown, you know?

A Known Cause

Rest undisturbed and alas, teach Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name. He has a most intelligent nature. Even when quite little he amused himself at home with making houses, carving boats, constructing little chariots of leather, and understood wonderfully how to make frogs out of pomegranate rinds. Teach Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name both methods of reasoning, the strong and also the weak, which by false arguments triumphs over the strong; if not the two, at least the false, and that in every possible way.

An Unknown Cause

The Just and Unjust Discourse themselves shall instruct him. I shall leave you.

Come here! Shameless as you may be, will you dare to show your face to the bloggers?

Take me where you will. I seek a throng, so that I may the better annihilate you.

Annihilate me! Do you forget who you are?

I am Reasoning.

Yes, the weaker Reasoning."

But I triumph over you, who claim to be the stronger.

By what cunning shifts, pray?

By the invention of new maxims.

.... which are received with favour by these fools.
He points to the readers of this page.

Say rather, by these wise men.

I am going to destroy you mercilessly.

How pray? Let us see you do it.

By saying what is true.

I shall retort and shall very soon have the better of you. First, maintain that justice has no existence.

Has no existence?

No existence! Why, where is it?

With the gods.

How then, if justice exists, was Zeus not put to death for having put his father in chains?

Bah! this is enough to turn my stomach! A basin, quick!

You are an old driveller and stupid withal.

And you a degenerate and shameless fellow.

Hah! What sweet expressions!

An impious buffoon.

You crown me with roses and with lilies.

A parricide.

Why, you shower gold upon me.

Formerly it was a hailstorm of blows.

I deck myself with your abuse.

What impudence!

What tomfoolery!

It is because of you that the youth no longer attends the schools. The readers of this blog [if any] will soon recognize what lessons you teach those who are fools enough to believe you.

You are overwhelmed with wretchedness.

And you, you prosper. Yet you were poor when you said, "I am the knower of all things," and used to stuff your wallet with maxims of Kim Kardashian and Charlie Sheen to nibble at.

Oh! the beautiful wisdom, of which you are now boasting!

Madman! But yet madder the city that keeps you, you, the corrupter of its youth!

It is not you who will teach Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name; you are as old and out of date as Larry King.

Nay, it will certainly be I, if he does not wish to be lost and to practice verbosity only.

Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name is as confused as Glen. Wait... Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name is Glen, and Glen is Gonzalo according to the fax machine...

Oh well, back to planning my trip to Titan... Yep, I will ride the rainbow on my magic carpet. By the way, you cannot throw cigarette butts out of my magic carpet ride.

Good night, y'all. Come back now, hear?

"Here's how... I know how." Shemp Howard

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Would Like

I would like
to be born
in every country,
have a passport
for them all
to throw
all foreign offices
into panic,
be every fish
in every ocean
and every dog
in the streets of the world.
I don’t want to bow down
before any idols
or play at being
a Russian Orthodox church hippie,
but I would like to plunge
deep into Lake Baikal
and surface snorting
why not in the Mississippi?
In my damned beloved universe
I would like
to be a lonely weed,
but not a delicate Narcissus
kissing his own mug
in the mirror.
I would like to be
any of God’s creatures
right down to the last mangy hyena--
but never a tyrant
or even the cat of a tyrant.
I would like to be
reincarnated as a man
in any image:
a victim of prison tortures,
a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong,
a living skeleton in Bangladesh,
a holy beggar in Tibet,
a black in Cape Town,
but never
in the image of Rambo.
The only people whom I hate
are the hypocrites--
pickled hyenas
in heavy syrup.
I would like to lie
under the knives of all the surgeons in the world,
be hunchbacked, blind,
suffer all kinds of diseases,
wounds and scars,
be a victim of war,
or a sweeper of cigarette butts,
just so a filthy microbe of superiority
doesn’t creep inside.
I would not like to be in the elite,
nor, of course,
in the cowardly herd,
nor be a guard dog of that herd,
nor a shepherd,
sheltered by that herd.
And I would like happiness,
but not at the expense of the unhappy,
and I would like freedom,
but not at the expense of the unfree.
I would like to love
all the women in the world,
and I would like to be a woman, too--
just once...
Men have been diminished
by Mother Nature.
Why couldn’t we give motherhood
to men?
If an innocent child
below his heart,
man would probably
not be so cruel.
I would like to be man’s daily bread--
a cup of rice
for a Vietnamese woman in mourning,
cheap wine
in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria,
or a tiny tube of cheese
in orbit round the moon.
Let them eat me,
let them drink me,
only let my death
be of some use.
I would like to belong to all times,
shock all history so much
that it would be amazed
what a smart aleck I was.
I would like to bring Nefertiti
to Pushkin in a troika.
I would like to increase
the space of a moment
a hundredfold,
so that in the same moment
I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia
and sit together with Homer,
and Tolstoy,
drinking anything,
except, of course,
--dance to the tom-toms in the Congo,
--strike at Renault,
--chase a ball with Brazilian boys
at Copacabana Beach.
I would like to know every language,
like the secret waters under the earth,
and do all kinds of work at once.
I would make sure
that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet,
the second--an underground fighter
I couldn’t say where
for security reasons,
the third--a student at Berkeley,
the fourth--a jolly Georgian drinker,
and the fifth--
maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska,
the sixth--
a young president,
somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone,
the seventh--
would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller,
and the tenth...
the hundredth...
the millionth...
For me it’s not enough to be myself,
let me be everyone!
Every creature
usually has a double,
but God was stingy
with the carbon paper,
and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation
made a unique copy of me.
But I shall muddle up
all God’s cards--
I shall confound God!
I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days,
so that the earth buzzes with me,
and computers go berserk
in the world census of me.
I would like to fight on all your barricades,
dying each night
like an exhausted moon,
and resurrecting each morning
like a newborn sun,
with an immortal soft spot--fontanel--
on my head.
And when I die,
a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon,
do not lay me in the earth
of France
or Italy,
but in our Russian, Siberian earth,
on a still-green hill,
where I first felt
that I was

Composed and translated from the original Russian by Yevgenny Yevtushenko. Always loved and copied by Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name

My Name

I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.

If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was raining very hard.
That is my name.
Or somebody wanted you to do something. You did it. Then they told you what you did was wrong—“Sorry for the mistake,””—and you had to do something else.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was a game that you played when you were a child or something that came idly into your mind when you were old and sitting in a chair near the window.
That is my name.
Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around.
That is my name.
Perhaps you stared into a river. There was somebody near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened.
That is my name.
Or you heard someone calling from a great distance. Their voice was almost an echo.
That is my name.
Perhaps you were lying in bed, almost ready to go to sleep and you laughed at something, a joke unto yourself, a good way to end the day.
That is my name.
Or you were eating something good and for a second forgot what you were eating, but still went on, knowing it was good.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was around midnight and the fire tolled like a bell inside the stove/
That is my name.
Or you fled bad when she said that thing to you. She could have told it to someone else: Somebody who was more familiar with her problems.
That is my name.
Perhaps the trout swam in the pool but the rive was only eight inches wide and te moon shone on IDEATH and the watermelon fields glowed out of proportion, dark and the moon seemed to rise from every plant.
That is my name.
And I wish Margaret would leave me alone.

Composed by Richard Brautigan; posted by Homeless with a Laptop, That is my name.