domingo, outubro 16, 2005

Sunday with L'il Orphan Annie

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Bunny's story has got me digging and delving this morning, into the compost heap that is my mind, poking dark corners with a stick, rummaging about, digressing, fossicking among detrius mounds ...

[and 'fossicking' will get a digression: not a word you hear every day, introduced to me by Patrick White decades ago, the OED says: To search for gold by digging out crevices with knife or pick, or by working in washing-places and abandoned workings in the hope of finding particles or small nuggets overlooked by others.

loose ends piling up and abounding, Neil Young appears for a moment to sing a few bars of Heart of Gold:

I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold.
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old

I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old

Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old
I've been a miner for a heart of gold.
And I'm getting old.

getting old indeed ... that must be it ... early-onset Alzheimers]

And coming up with nothing much that relates directly to Bunnatine Greenhouse or her situation. Just oblique stuff, rays glancing off the golden dome ... and such like.

OK, so the 'daddy' of daddy-warbucks took me in (at least) two directions; to L'il Orphan Annie; and to the poetry of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

Orphan Annie, it turns out, was first 'instantiated' by James Whitcomb Riley.

[do you see the computer system mentality creeping in? the thing is a series of indented notions, like nested if-then-else's in a program, like object elements fired off with varying parameters, it needs an 'interpreter' to verify that the nested parentheses are balanced and closed, a LISP program maybe (Lots of Infuriating Stupid Parentheses) ... ]

[ravelling, or un-ravelling as the case may be, becoming "too personal a tale" as Dylan says in the Chimes of Freedom, and considering how few pass this way (to this blog, that is) and what reading skills they are likely to have, being immersed in emails which are never entirely read, rarely read at all, just scanned for juicy tid-bits, not to mention the impossibility of having HTML reproduce anything like what you had in mind ... how slowly would yoou have to read to get to the nut of it, to find the buried objective correlative here? if there even is one ... ]

You can find out about James Whitcomb Riley at:
He wrote a children's poem,

Little Orphant Annie

Inscribed with all faith and affection to all the little children:

The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones;
The boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones - Yes, the good ones, too;
And all the lovely bad ones.

Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun,
A-listenin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers, -
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout: -
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'for she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'bugs in dew is all squenched away, -
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' cherish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

This was (possibly) picked up by Harold Gray, (1894-1968), the cartoonist originator of Orphan Annie as we commonly know her. You can read about him at Wikipedia and other places. He was a conservative, whatever that means these days.

[a conservative or a Conservative, or a believer, or a Believer, or a fundamentalist, or a Fundamentalist, or a member of the Religious Right, or a Protestant of some stripe, or a freak who believes that we are living in the end-times and that spaceships are coming to take us away (away, away ... ho ho, hee hee ha ha!) - All you have to do is mention 'the Golden Rule' or the 'Perennial Philosophy" or (wait for it ...) 'God' among the wrong people and you find yourself a 'crank' , a'fanatic', a 'zealot', a 'devotee', an ultra-ist , it's true, you know it's true ... ]

I will not deal with all of the shades of nationalism, jingoism and what not that made up the plot lines of Orphan Annie. The Daddy Warbucks of the strip certainly comes off looking more like a good guy than the current crop of profiteers, and the emotions running between himself and Annie have not a hint of anything lolita-like.
[I am used to putting two spaces after a period in a sentence - you shouldn't do that in HTML ...]
He does not come off entirely clean either. There are strong hints of a prototype Patriot Act at work. Things done in backrooms in the interests of the poor downtrodden masses, or in the interests of world democracy, or in the interests of the general good. Judge for yourself:

There are lots of Orphan Annie strips on the web. I lost the link to the site where I grabbed these, sorry, but you can find them with Google if you are persistent.

I could not find any colour photographs of Anne Sexton, but I believe she was a redhead. I could be wrong about the colour of her hair, nonetheless, that is the connection, along with the name Anne, that took me from Orphan Annie to Anne Sexton (1928-1974). That and a whiff of the dark side - I knew that she committed suicide by carbon monoxide. And then it turned out that she had written a poem called "Daddy" Warbucks (her quotes I believe).

You can find lots of her poetry (and Sylvia Plath's too though not all of it, not Childless woman for instance) at:

"Daddy" Warbucks

In Memoriam

What's missing is the eyeballs
in each of us, but it doesn't matter
because you've got the bucks, the bucks, the bucks.
You let me touch them, fondle the green faces
lick at their numbers and it lets you be
my "Daddy!" "Daddy!" and though I fought all alone
with molesters and crooks, I knew your money
would save me, your courage, your "I've had
considerable experience as a soldier...
fighting to win millions for myself, it's true.
But I did win," and me praying for "our men out there"
just made it okay to be an orphan whose blood was no one's,
whose curls were hung up on a wire machine and electrified,
while you built and unbuilt intrigues called nations,
and did in the bad ones, always, always,
and always came at my perils, the black Christs of childhood,
always came when my heart stood naked in the street
and they threw apples at it or twelve-day-old-dead-fish.

"Daddy!" "Daddy," we all won that war,
when you sang me the money songs
Annie, Annie you sang
and I knew you drove a pure gold car
and put diamonds in you coke
for the crunchy sound, the adorable sound
and the moon too was in your portfolio,
as well as the ocean with its sleepy dead.
And I was always brave, wasn't I?
I never bled?
I never saw a man expose himself.
No. No.
I never saw a drunkard in his blubber.
I never let lightning go in one car and out the other.
And all the men out there were never to come.
Never, like a deluge, to swim over my breasts
and lay their lamps in my insides.
No. No.
Just me and my "Daddy"
and his tempestuous bucks
rolling in them like corn flakes
and only the bad ones died.

But I died yesterday,
"Daddy," I died,
swallowing the Nazi-Jap animal
and it won't get out
it keeps knocking at my eyes,
my big orphan eyes,
kicking! Until eyeballs pop out
and even my dog puts up his four feet
and lets go
of his military secret
with his big red tongue
flying up and down
like yours should have

as we board our velvet train.

[tempting to hare off into the Velvet Underground and Tom Waits ... but no ... nor follow the bunny into images of battery driven rabbits trudging endlessly on and beating drums ... ]
[Truth be told, I went to Sylvia before I went to Anne, but this whole business of organizing thoughts on a computer is too tedious to go back and recapitulate. (dammit!)]

Sylvia Plath, (1932-1963), also committed suicide, this time with cooking gas. A man named Keith Ecclestone read this poem aloud to us in a university lecture hall in about ... 1968. He told me later that he had spent some time learning how to pronounce german, so that he could properly reproduce 'Ach Du', with all of the mouth and tongue resonance around the 'ooo' in this poem - be that as it may, I can hear his voice as I re-read the poem:


You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time ----
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You ----

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two ----
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

[hearing his voice dredged up another gibbet. When he said "taste it", I nearly had to spit ... ]

Childless Woman

The womb
Rattles its pod, the moon
Discharges itself from the tree with nowhere to go.

My landscape is a hand with no lines,
The roads bunched to a knot,
The knot myself,

Myself the rose you achieve---
This body,
This ivory

Ungodly as a child's shriek.
Spiderlike, I spin mirrors,
Loyal to my image,

Uttering nothing but blood---
Taste it, dark red!
And my forest

My funeral,
And this hill and this
Gleaming with the mouths of corpses.

And there it is; like staggering drunk down a corridor and finding flakes of paint on the shoulder of your jacket the next morning - what colours are these?; or like sitting in a Copacabana bar trying to explain the taste of Sylvia Plath's blood to a teenaged girl who wants money for sex but who settles for the gift of a Red Bull - a drink which is after all, expensive there, and so ... not insignificant - and she explains, "it is like Viagra for women, yes?".

Being in America these days and all, the last words are from Robert Frost:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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Posted outubro 16, 2005 5:59 PM by Anonymous Anônimo /  

enervation by Internet ... excoriation by Windows ...

enervate, verb: To cut the tendons of; to hamstring or hough a horse. To emasculate. To destroy or impair the vigour of sentiments, expressions, etc. To weaken physically a person or animal by agencies that impair nervous tone, as luxury, indolence, hot or malarious climates. To weaken mentally or morally; to destroy the capacity of a person or a community for vigorous effort of intellect or will especially through the effects of luxury or sloth.

excoriate, verb: To pull off the skin or hide from a man or beast; to flay. To strip the rind or bark from.

daemonic! either that or some kind of 'instant karma' - a living out of the 'you must give something back for something you get', Windows, Microsoft, the Internet, even Email, all of it, becomes more and more daemonic.

makes me think of Stan Rogers singing Barrett's Privateers:

I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns,
Shed no tears
Now I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's privateers.

I suppose some of the Enron guys are singing it too ... and some of their NatWest bankers, and United Airlines, and Delta, as they try to wiggle out from under pension responsibilities, and Northwest the same, and how many Savings and Loan owners, or Nedron? what was the other giant that went down? ... can't remember ... they were all just people right? and some of 'em got rich and some got poor, this little piggy went to market, etc.

jump into it at any point; the microcosm - trying to make any of the 'stuff' work in small practical exercises, building a web log f'rinstance, trying to watch a DVD from another 'Region'; to the macrocosm - of multinational corporations and crooked politicians - even the United Nations - ripping off everyone and themselves, but the cash does not disappear, it merely changes hands, nor does the energy disappear, it just fuels the hugeness of it, and there is no redeeming gleam to be seen, just spleen, no expansion of human consciousness nor increased possibility.

ai ai ai.