Leitmotif of a Commonplace Book

A commonplace book is a collection of loosely organized snippets of stuff. It’s a way of thinking that I first encountered by way of detour (my favorite hobby) at the Cincinnati Library — a book caught my eye and subsumed my identity — A Certain World by W.H. Auden. ’twas many a decade ago (4) in what now seems a distant galaxy.

Galaxy (not the magazine) reminds me now of that breathtaking work by Douglas Adams — by golly, esme recently alluded to HHGTTG. Please consult esme for more, much and many. You’ll enjoy the visit. You will, yes you will. Say, I also offer a thread from H2G2 too.

commonplace-book-cartoon-newyorker  

I like to use the word eponymous whenever possible. By gosh, this entire writing adventure is eponymously named billziegler1947. Tell your friends about this ever so clever self-referential weblog, or not.

But WTF is a leitmotif? Doesn’t sound light to us. Har Har.

A leitmotif is a recurring theme in a musical or literary work.  

leit-motif

All so very well Bill, but isn’t it time for an unnecessary ‘detour’, one you cloyingly call a hobby?

A blog is a jarringly clumsy word created in the internet wild-west world: a two character left-string truncation of ‘weblog’ — it removes the ‘we’, or is it the’us’?

Captain’s weblog 2016.366. We is back. Welcome. Just us chicken defenders.

And so, this has all been a rather detour-ridden post. However, it’s a holiday of sorts — the null point , nodding here to Hariod, between 2016 and 2017. Or are we to be taken, in far less than an instant, to arrive in 1957. There to encounter a Back to the Future replay of the fell sort, Biff and all perhaps.

biff-wins-again

Holy heavens, you have completely abandoned every modicum that informs an insistent adherence to proper writing-style. Will you ever stay on task?

No.

Veganism is the best ‘ism’ ever. If you don’t believe that then you haven’t visited Crows Head Soup by Peter Schreiner, have you? Right. Go there now.

As you gather about that soup cauldron, allow me to pass the microphone to a most impassioned advocate, one who brings voice to each and every animal crushed to the marrow for the sake of appetites unending and insatiable — outsidersinsides. Expect no bon appetit if meat be on the table. Thank you! And to all gatherers — grab that mike. My ear enjoys your insights. Always.

Let’s say that you recognize the longest occupation in modern history, one that continues into 2017 and you are also interested in animal rights. Right. Palestinian Animal League.

Let us remind you, Bill, that you are no Laurence Sterne and we fervently pray that you not dash off first lines from Tristram Shandy to cover your untidiness. We merely ask.

First lines

shandy-black-page

Copy. (and paste). But I do recall that page of solid black ink from high school, don’t I?

Yes, I do.

cover-page-tristram

And so, with gratitude for every and each reader, and with appreciation for everyone I follow, a hearty fist in the air on behalf of all the exploited sentient beings who are our fellow travellers.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Chemistry 001 | 315glenroy

“A merry chemistry-set Christmas to all and each. God spare us, every one!”

This being a cross-post to the lighter aspects of this writer. Written with gratitude for every and each reader I am privileged to encounter on this curious orb.

“A green and yellow exhaust-fuming bus stopped at the top of Glenroy Avenue, just across from the mailbox that was still pai…”

315Glenroy: Chemistry 001 | 315glenroy

You Are What You Eat

A couple recent posts in  SocioLinguini struck a couple vegan themes that intrigue me:

  1. Confronting the slick and well-funded language meat marketers enjoy,
  2. A skin-thin bag of chemicals holds toxin-cleansing organs within and keeps them without.

snappy-answers-veganism

And, so

Confronting the slick and well-funded language meat marketers enjoy

Identity is the inalienable right of *all* sentient beings —  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not the domain of a single unusually arrogant specie. Veganism demands that one think critically about unethical behaviors, else becoming complicit in the business of death camps for manufacturing that slab of flesh between plastic stretch wrap and styrofoam tray:  “wholesome family friendly meat products.” Entree, s’il vous plaît

Now let’s check out the German for “you are what you eat”:

“man ist was man isst.” I like the great economy of that additional “s”

man-ist

I was a student in Germany during the early 70’s and once heard the following exchange between two German companions in the Mensa (Student Cafeteria):

Question: “Wer isst meine Suppe?” (Who is going to eat my soup?)
Reply: “Ich bin nicht deine Suppe!” (I’m not your soup.)

First hint: the verb ‘to be’ is one letter away from the verb ‘to eat’

Second hint: “Ich bin ein Berliner” contains that verb ‘to be.’

Here is something I’ve learned along the way that you might not find hopelessly boring: Saxons invaded Britain around 400 C.E. and brought their language with them, including words for meat in German fashion: name of animal + flesh, e.g. Schweinefleisch. Following the Norman Conquest (1066 C.E.) these words removed a layer of complicity, e.g. porc rather than pig meat.

As you may already know, BillZiegler1947 is a teacher by nature and a pedant by dint of character flaw, or something, oder so etwas.

Hey, Saxony, that’s where the Anglo-Saxons came from.

Unfortunately pedantry drives me to continue… the English letter “x” stems from the German letters “chs” — ergo die Sachsen (the Saxons). The English word ‘next’ originated with  nächste.(pronounced ‘nexte’). By the way, “Anglo-Saxon” is a bit of a misnomer; unfortunately mistranslations usually stick around forever.

A skin-thin bag of chemicals holds toxin-cleansing organs within and keeps toxins without.

Actually, skin itself is a toxin-excreting organ.

You really are what you eat, what you ingest.

everytime

That great phrasing captures the process quite realistically. The best kept secrets of veganism threaten the bottom lines of trillion-dollar industries. Once you commit to accepting meat as indispensable you impact consumers, jobs and many a staple cooking show. Imagine anyone who would dare foil the overwhelming plans of the respected captains of Meat, Inc. A heritage over many centuries that showcases animal flesh, hide, organs, marbled muscle, und, und, und.

chemical-shit-storm

More later.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Nothing, or a Useful Pot?

Hariod Brawn has asked me to write my take on “nothing happening” and “nothingness”. So it is my every privilege to respond with something on nothing. For all and each, with sheer gratitude for simply being in the company of my readers.

Hello in there. Hello.

hello-in-there

Critics of composer John Cage are legion. His best known work 4′ 33″ is a quite quiet piece. Audiences chime in with coughs, traffic noise, sound absent upon the stage. Movements end with a drop of the piano-key lid, they begin upon opening the lid.

 

The most common objection to 4′ 33″:

“Why, anyone can do that.”

Cage’s reply:

“No one had before I did.”

Nothing doing, or doing nothing.

cage-against-the-machine

 

You may know of the Zen koan on the cup full and the cup empty. Some good nothing there.

That reminds me of something. Reading literature in original language is a way to avoid the lie of translation. All translations are variations on untruth. Poetry is highly susceptible to mistranslation. Reading Rilke in the original German is worth the effort.

Languages are subtle windows into culture. Deliberate mistranslation is a bludgeoning tool for propagandists.

Perhaps I digress.

“Yes.”

Oh well.

“Death to America” is a deliberate mistranslation from Farsi, inexcusable ignorance of ancient and marvelous Persian culture. The proper translation is “Down with America,” but the word “death” suggests “jihad” and feeds Islamophobia. Bomb ’em. 

Now, back to nothing.

Well, almost.

Die Unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende quite accurately tells the universal tale of a nihilist threat: das Nicht (The Nothing). This tale is nothing like that empty cup or the useful pot. Milne wrote about a wonderful birthday present that Piglet gifted Eeyore: “The Useful Pot.”

useful-pot

Emptiness can be wonderful. It can be horrible. Another fantasy by Ende: Momo. A tale of time thieves who deviously steal hours at a time from unsuspecting, innocent hardworking people.  Give us the time of your life and we will invest it for you. Momo is a homeless waif who lends her time freely and with gratitude. A most rare quality.

michael-ende-momo-copy1

I proclaim that we are all existential, and by “all” I mean all sentient beings. We all exist, but some of us are exploited. To the victors go the history books — sometimes those victors also build expedient death camps for tasty or despised fellow sentients. Truth is not something generated by majority rule.

Do I again digress?

“Yes.”

Oh Well.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

A Möbius Twist Please

 

Hariod Brawn, a fellow I follow regularly on WordPress, recently posted “What is it like for nothing to happen.” Many, including myself, have found great mill for grist there. Please consider spending a moment or five there.

gahan-wilson-nothing-happens-next-this-is-it-new-yorker-cartoon_a-g-9172121-8419447

Such thoughts as these intrigue me.

What is the science behind the abrupt discontinuity and surprising continuity of a Möbius strip? You are on one side and simultaneously on the other, or is it the other way around. Or is there just one side? A simple twist of the two-dimensional surface is radical and beautiful to ilk like me.

moebius-strip

 

Calculus allows us to keep begging the questions on a seeming, and actual, infinity:

“Are we there yet? When are we going to be there?”

Meanwhile we march on asymptotically toward an axis or several axes, or three-dimensional, four-dimensional axes.

asymptote

I say “dare to divide by zero.” But thank me not —thank the unknown scholars who introduced the zero. Roman numerals are hard-headed and in-your-face hard-nosed to math fans.

But back to nothing (or zero or zed). Consider the weight of the universe. Then consider its opposite: absolutely absolutely nothing.

“But, but the big-ass weight of the universe is a whole lot of something. Or something.”

Some time ago a science fiction author (name unknown to me) imagined a planet with never dissipating cloud cover. At no time of the day or night could an inhabitant see anything but the underside of endlessly butting together clouds. The sun was a hazy bright spot visible during the day. At night, of course, no stars. What could the inhabitants know of the universe?

Thanks for reading.

 

Meeting Sheffield in Manhattan

TGIF: to my good English friends

This is my cheery thanks for 237 WordPress views from the U.K. Yet, all readers are welcomed to join in the jape — even your homework-eating doggie or moggie is invited.

Right.

A few months ago I wrote a  post to celebrate non sequiturs.  So it certainly follows…

 

manhattan-ks
Kansas State University

The anecdote begins in a basement apartment, one with a bright southern exposure in the Manhattan Kansas of 1970. The landlady is an elderly widow under the name of McLeod. She pronounced this appellation “Mick Lee Odd” to the bloody-helliest consternation of my college roommate from Sheffield.

“She doesn’t even know how to pronounce her bloody name. Jesus F-ing Christ!”

Keith’s very words, excepting the letters k, u and c.

He bore a striking resemblance to Robert Carlyle’s character Gaz in The Full Monty. The marvelous synchronicity of life and art finds me in Sheffield, whether led by Robert Carlyle or by Keith.

robert-carlyle
Robert Carlyle could play Keith

 

We fed a stray moggie who frequented the window wells. Mrs. McLeod disapproved of visiting privileges for this fellow mammal of the feline kind. Of course she ran up the basement steps into the McLeod kitchen to begin her first and last apartment visit. Without hesitation.

A large collection of small glass animalia enjoyed the same southern exposure. Rays of sun pointed to all dust that might alight, only to fall victim daily to Mrs. M’s grey cloth.

She asked us to deduct a dollar from the $60 rent, were we to shovel the snow. No deduction did we make, so she baked us a cake and each snow day left it on the kitchen table next to the tub and in front of the shower’s wooden pallet.

Keith P. introduced me to real football. His mother sent him the pink sports pages by post each week. ’twas his sacred tradition to purchase a bag of chips and to consume all contents of the bag while reading the full contents of the weekly surprise. I learned of George Best in his better days. Mancunians, Liverpudlians. One week I selected Swansea as my team favorite UK team.

“Bloody hell, they’ll be relegated.”

Comes another random memory. A trip by ’63 Käfer from Manhattan (KS) to hometown Cincinnati. Christmas break. My father spent quite a few months in North Africa in 1943, but suffered the youthful certainty we thought real.

kaefer

Britain would have won the war without American help.”

Keith’s words paraphrased.

I sold encyclopedias for a couple months in Cincinnati the following summer. You could lie your ass off in those days. It was the most dishonest job I have ever held. Unfortunately I was good at it. One shred of dignity for my door-to-door robbery —it paid rent to the wonderful Mrs. McLeod. Keith spent that same summer in inner-city Detroit with a radical geographer: William Bunge, Theoretical Geography 1970.  A very different era.

 

draft-lottery
Selective Service Draft Lottery

Every evening we joined with Mrs. M. for the day’s first encounter with the larger world without. Our sole 30 minutes of TV viewing time.

Now the world without intercedes to display the more dismal side that is in the human shadow, I also remember the following:

Always Walter Cronkite and always the loud desperation on grainy black and white film, the black and white blood of teen-age death captured by a war correspondent’s film crew. Choppers measuring cacophony of war uncensored.

Keith was not draftable and September 17 gifted me a random 255 by dint of the document below. September 14 was the first number drawn in the draft lottery of 1969.

img_07331.jpg