(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Buffet; or Why Danny Can't Overeat

So I recently went to the Golden Corral location in Marysville.

Needless to say I was somewhat horrified and even a little disgusted. Not because of the Golden Corral chain, mind. They provided excellent service and given the high volume of customers at the time, I can find no fault in their food outside of the fact that it is a buffet.

In my opinion, the food was bland, overcooked, drowned in fat, and grossly over salted. The patrons, bless their hard-working hearts, were for the most part grossly overweight or too young to have put on the pounds yet.

I felt traumatized by the experience because sometimes, less is more, and the culture that I've cultivated around myself here in Bellingham is not particularly one of excess. As a college student in the United States, it's by no means poor, but it's not overindulgence, not gluttony.

When we first sat down, I felt markedly out of place for immediately making a beeline for the salad. There was no line. I was the only person getting food from the salad section for at least ten minutes. I could have been happy with simple spring greens and a little fruit and nuts and cheese and a few small pieces of chicken breast meat. That was just enough to constitute a satisfying, if small, meal.

Buffets are the epitome of Americana in that they promote a lifestyle of too much the same way Wal-Mart does. They target themselves at the lower classes, promoting "low prices" while gunning for profits. They're effective at this in that they can create appeal, and in ways there's often no choice or no alternative.

I'm blessed to be in a situation where I have options and to have the education to see the larger systems at work. They make me uncomfortable.

The Postcard Poems

So I'm working on this series of poems I'm calling the Postcard Poems.

So far they're mostly silly little love poems for my boyfran with no particular significance to anyone else. But I'm putting them on postcards and sending them to him. Some of them have custom, one of a kind art by me. Some of them will be on postcards I found in a shoebox at one of the local used bookstores. Some of them will be blank except for the writing.

I guess, think of it like a kind of extended letter.

At the same time though, much as I love my boyfriend, I don't want to limit myself to subjects of love, cuddling, sex, the future, empty beds, and film studies and literary theory (common interests and you can only talk about love/sex so much).

Which means I need to send more postcards. 

Which means I need to write more poetry to put on postcards.

Which means I need more subjects and ideas to focus on.

Let me put this another way:

Hey, I think I know you.
And this is crazy.
But message me your address.
And get a postcard maybe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The 50 Shades Of Grey Effect"

This post is a response to the Huffington Post article, The 50 Shades Of Grey Effect: Jane Eyre, Pride And Prejudice And Sherlock Holmes To Be Republished With 'Explosive Sex Scenes'.

I have three main points against this idea.

1) Isn't this what fan fiction was created for?
Other titles to be published under the Clandestine Classics collection include Austen'sNorthanger Abbey and Arthur Conan Doyle's stories featuring Sherlock Holmes.
Now, call me ignorant, but I've been on Tumblr frequently enough to know that with advent BBC's Sherlock there's enough people with OTP's of Sherlock and Watson that anything Clandestine Classics comes up with will have been done five different ways already.

For another title to be -- uh, repurposed like this, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, I wonder if they'll also keep the giant lists of scientific names of sea creatures that Jules Verne was fond of including amidst the adventures on the Nautilus. And if so, can someone please insert one of the sex scenes inside one of these sections?

2) The sex is already there.

"[W]e want to enhance the novels by adding the 'missing' scenes for readers to enjoy."

I'm sorry, but they can't be missing if they were never there to begin with. Part of the beauty of so many of these classics is the way the culture and society that shaped the writer affected the writing. They weren't from a time or place that allowed for this kind of blatant sexuality so they used metaphor to disguise the acts within the writing. The sex is already there people.

3) If we're going to do this anyway, I vote combine this with with the the zombie editions by Quirk Classics.

Imagine it: Pride and Prejudice and Damn Sexy Zombies.

I'm just throwing ideas out here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

That one time I had a song written about me.

Spring Quarter 2010 Sophomore Year of College

He was kind of tall. Almost gangly, but you wouldn't know it for the way he stooped and hid behind the shyness of his voice. We'd had a class together the previous quarter, Parasites, but nobody knew he was there. He was a guest with a host, a ghost.

Maybe three of us in the entire class noticed him in the back corner. Even for the online assignments on a social networking site called plurk, he was scarce. His posts, few and far between as they were, were regularly and systematically erased because the most successful parasite (or houseguest) leaves its host with no traces that it was there.

I was drawn to him. I could feel the red thread of fate unraveling the slack necessary to pull us together. 

So I crossed the gap. I read and commented on his posts. I made eye contact as direct eye contact as I could when he walked past. I invited him to share a meal with me.

"So I ate beside [Teddy] today. He's a quiet, awkward soul and underestimates the power he has within himself. I'm so drawn to that. He offered to teach me guitar, but then immediately said he wasn't very good. I asked, and he's played for 10 years."  - Excerpt from personal journal, March 10, 2010

I suppose it helped that at the time he was hopelessly infatuated with one of the two other people in class who'd taken the time and energy to notice him, my friend Kai. We went together to watch her perform at the Naked Truth on Stereotypes.

We got to know each other. We became friends.

When he graduated after winter quarter, I stopped seeing him as much. He was still in town but lived far beyond even my walking prowess. Still, we kept in touch; exchanging emails and continuing an impossibly long conversation thread on plurk.

Late in March, he sent me an mp3 file via email. There was no caption, no commentary. The only way it related to the conversation we'd been having was that at the time I had just started an Independent Study Project (blogged about and mostly contained here) on a postmodern examination of music and society. Just 912 kilobytes, the song was a cover of "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel.

The quality was crap, recorded with a webcam on a shitty computer. But despite that, it was beautiful and powerful. It bit more low key and folksy single-man-with-guitar than the original.

"You have a completely different kind of energy when you're singing than you do talking in person. The closest I can think of to describe it is to compare it to the feeling I get when I'm dancing. Everything else drops away. There's just me and the music and - and it's like making love, by which I mean creating love. I dunno, it's not really something you can put into words. If you have any other music recorded and feel so willing, I would love to hear it." -Excerpt from personal correspondence March 22, 2010
 This was soon followed by two songs he'd written for past loves, a cover of Daniel Johnston and a song he wrote for/about me.

Three minutes fourteen seconds about me dancing.
Danny you dance all through the room.
Danny you dance like nobody's looking at you
And it's beautiful. And it's beautiful.
And it's beautiful.
Danny your hands move where you want them to
Danny you know this what all of us want to do
Because it's beautiful. Because it's beautiful.
Because it's beautiful.
Though it's beautiful.
Though it's beautiful.
It's beautiful.
The lyrics are so simple and drawn out so much in the song. I listen to this, and I want to live up to it. I want to be that beautiful by forgetting about the world for just a few minutes and dancing.

In a later email he told me how I was one of the only friends he'd made in college, which I found sad and beautiful at the same time.


We still talk occasionally. Exchanging emails and catching up. About two months ago, I joined him in partaking of conveyor sushi with his girlfriend. We don't talk as often as we should and if he got that job in Portland is now quite a bit less easier for me to find than when he was in Bellingham. 

At the idea of him writing a song about me I'm touched and a mite flabbergasted. It seems... strange somehow to realize yourself as a muse, as inspiration, the uncanny feeling of a writer being written about.

You can listen to the song on my tumblr: http://acelessthan3.tumblr.com/post/27448822390

Friday, July 6, 2012

Let's play a game!

Let's play a game!

Here are the rules:

I'm going to give you a fragment of poetry and your job is to guess whether it's a translation of Rumi (Fourteenth century Sufi poet from Persia) or from Billy Collins (2001-2003 US Poet Laureate) without using the internet.

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you are not here, I cannot go to sleep.
Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

After I had beaten my sword into a ploughshare,
I beat my ploughshare into a hoe,
then beat the hoe into a fork,
which I used to eat my dinner alone.

I want to carry you
and for you to carry me
the way voices are said to carry over water

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.

Translations/interpretations of Rumi come from Coleman Barks's Rumi: The Book of Love. The fragments of poetry from Billy Collins come from the collection The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems. I recently came across these two books while staying at a friend's place in Port Orchard.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Fairy Tale Sermons: Hermes

I've had most of this particular story written out for over a year now, waiting for the right moment to post it. Given the liminal nature of Hermes, I think posting right as I'm on the verge of moving seems wholly appropriate.

I appeal to the Muses to grant me the eloquence to tell this story true. Do you know the tale of Hermes? In Greek mythology, he was messenger of the gods. With his winged sandals, he was quite literally light on his feet, flying between the heavenly Olympus and the mortal realm below. But if he was quick on his feet, he was quicker with his wits.

There's a story that says he was no more than a few hours old when he snuck out of his cradle and into the pastures where the sun god Apollo kept his cattle. Using a tree branch to cover their tracks, he led the entire herd to a field way up in the mountains.

Now, as you can imagine, Apollo wasn't very happy when, on a break from his godly duties, he checked on his herd to find them all gone with not a trace of where they went. But Apollo was a prescient god, with the power of premonition, able to see things most people couldn't and he knew that Hermes had something to do with his cattle's disappearance. So, with all the wrath of a raging god, he burst into the nursery, demanding the return of his herd.

Ah, but the sly Hermes was prepared for Apollo's eventual arrival.

“What do you mean return your cattle,” he said, “I'm but a newborn babe. How could I steal them?”

Apollo would have none of this.

“I know you have them. Return my herds at once!” thundered the angry Apollo.

“But sweet Apollo, where could I hide all your cattle? Here in my crib? The thought alone is preposterous.”

Undeterred, Apollo replied, “Fine, if you shall not admit to thieving what is rightfully mine, we will have to take this matter before Father Zeus.”

He seized the infant Hermes and carried him all the way before the throne of Zeus, king of the gods.

“Father, this rogue child has made off with my prized cattle and refuses to return to me what is mine!”

Turning to the young child, Zeus asked, “Did you steal Apollo's herd?”

“I do not have Apollo's cattle, oh wise and mighty Zeus, though even in what short time I have been on this earth I have heard of the wondrous size and strength that befits the property of one as glorious as Lord Apollo. I am but a newborn babe, how could I steal from one so honored as he?”

Said Zeus, “You may be but a babe, but never were you innocent, Hermes. Apollo, I am sorry but if you have no further proof beyond your word against his, then I cannot take any further action.”

Just as Apollo began to protest, he stopped and stared at Hermes.

“What is that you have in your hands?”

Hermes held up the instrument in his hands. It was a tortoise shell with strings threaded across its length. He'd been fiddling with it on the floor during the discussion.

“I call it a lyre.”

“Lord Zeus, I will forgive him his trespass and let all be settled with regards to the circumstances of the disappearance of my herd if he gives me this lyre.”

Zeus turned to Hermes.

“Do you assent to this, child?”

“I do.”

The lyre came to be a prominent symbol and representation of Apollo as a god of music.

Hermes, in addition to his roles as messenger of the gods and psychopomp, became patron god of merchants and thieves, of inventors and travelers.

The lesson here is not one against stealing, because Hermes is very clearly rewarded for his trickery.

Instead, this tale suggests acceptance. Not of unacceptable deeds, and I'm very careful here not to use the term bad as a value statement on the act (the taking of another's property without permission) because this narrative has played out many times in reality with no consequence and few if any of us call these actions bad. Colonization is a good example.

No, the acceptance I speak of is an acceptance of change.

Heraclitus is famously attributed as having written that the only constant is change. In this story, Hermes is a manifestation of change. As a liminal god already standing at the brink in-between lives and stories even in his origins, Hermes transitions us from one narrative to another. Quite literally in his role as psychopomp, escorting us to the underworld.