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If your memory serves you well..

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Muslim travel ban DoubleQuoted with Japanese internment camps, history rhyming, Ginsberg on Dylan’s national rhyme ]
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Anna O Law (The Immigration Battle in American Courts, Cambridge, 2014) made the connection:

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What kind of rhyme is that anyway, Mister History?

Is it one like:

Idiot wind, blowing everytime you move your jaw,
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Mardi Gras.

— the first version the current Nobel Laureate in Literature tried out — or this, definitive one? —

Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull,
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.

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The question interests me because there’s a back-level where the rhyme is in the concept, not the sound of the words as pronounced by poet or listener, reader — as with the rhyme womb / tomb, where before-birth and after-death meet both soncally and conceptually, making life freshly worthwhile as only the mechanics of poetry can.

Ginsberg explains:

Christopher Ricks, who has also penned books about T. S. Eliot and John Keats, argues that Dylan’s lyrics not only qualify as poetry, but that Dylan is among the finest poets of all time, on the same level as Milton, Keats, and Tennyson. He points to Dylan’s mastery of rhymes that are often startling and perfectly judged. For example, this pairing from “Idiot Wind,” released in 1975:

Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull,
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol

The metaphorical relation between the head and the head of state, both of them two big domes, and the “idiot wind” blowing out of Washington, D.C., from the mouths of politicians, made this particular lyric the “great disillusioned national rhyme,” according to Allen Ginsberg.

Ginsberg’s formidable liking for this rhyme is part of what got him invited to Dylan’s Rolling thunder Review:

Ginsberg’s tribute to that rhyme is one of the reasons he is here with Bob and Joan and the rest of the merry motley. It was, says Allen, “one of the little sparks of intelligence that passed between Bob and me and that led him to invite me on the tour.”

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I caught the rolling thunder in Fort Collins:

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Ah yes.

And If your memory serves you well is, as I recall via Google, Dylan’s top of the hat to Rimbaud‘s A Season in Hell, which opens with the words:

Jadis, si je me souviens bien, ma vie était un festin où s’ouvraient tous les cœurs, où tous les vins coulaient.

This Wheel’s On Fire, lyrics by that Nobel fellow, Rick Danko and the Band:

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Memory, pattern, association, analogy, history, learning.

And Dylan on how literature works on you a similar wonder — in his recently released Nobel speech:

Music to my ears.

Guest Post: Hays on the French Election

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

[Mark Safranski / “zen“]

Image result for french election

I’d like to welcome a new, occasional, guest-poster at zenpundit.com,  “Jack Hays“.  Mr. Hays has considerable experience in a number of political and policy positions inside government and out and shares with the ZP readership our appreciation for history, strategy and other things further afield.

FRANCE AT THE CROSSROADS

by Jack Hays

The party system of the Fifth Republic is at last overturned and reconfigured almost exactly half a century after its creation, and the second round of the French presidential election now becomes the third big Western contest for the old and new dispensations: first Brexit, next HRC-Trump, and now Macron-Le Pen.
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Each was and is a fight between the postwar managerial state on the one hand, and populist nationalism on the other. The shock has been the latter’s victory in the first two, but the conventional wisdom is that the streak ends here. Surely this new campaign will end for the younger Le Pen as it did for the elder, with the mass of the French electorate banding together to give a supermajority to the establishment. That’s a rational bet any other year, but not this one. There are the macro trends, and then there are the particular details. Marine Le Pen brings together powerful strands of French political history and identity, from the ridiculous to the pathetic to the glorious, from Pierre Poujade to Philippe Pétain to Charles De Gaulle. Emmanuel Macron does as well, although his are the rocks of the known and the institutional, France as governed in our lifetimes, the rule of les énarques. France as a whole has preferred the latter for so long, but their age of prosperity and competence has turned into an age of fear, of murder in the cities and disquiet in the homes. Now we learn what they fear more, because that fear — not hope, not aspiration — will drive the outcome. What is more intolerable: the status quo of En Marche, or the specter of the Front National?
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We do not know. Neither does France. It is both an uncertainty we must endure, and a suspense we cannot afford.

Meanwhile on planet Plantagenet

Monday, April 24th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote too far — or too good to miss? ]
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On the benfits of having been British, even if it was a while back..

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Looks like we Brits would get to reclaim Eleanor‘s Aquitaine.. and it’s hard for me to tell, but I fear we’d miss out on Carcassonne of the Cathars..

Sunday surprise — literal rainfall ancient and modern

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote in the arts ]
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Guillaume Apollinaire:

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Il pleut

Il pleut des voix de femmes comme si elles étaient mortes même dans le souvenir
c’est vous aussi qu’il pleut merveilleuses rencontres de ma vie ô gouttelettes
et ces nuages cabrés se prennent à hennir tout un univers de villes auriculaires
écoute s’il pleut tandis que le regret et le dédain pleurent une ancienne musique
écoute tomber les liens qui te retiennent en haut et en bas.

Roger Shattuck, brilliant author of The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France) translates:

It’s Raining

It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
And it’s raining you as well marvellous encounters of my life O little drops
Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below

As Edward Hirsch comments at Poetry Foundation:

The slanting lines of Apollinaire’s poem create the sensation of rain running downward across a windowpane. Graphic form and verbal music come together as each long vertical line becomes a rhythmic unit of meaning

— which is itself a verbal / visual DoubleQuote!

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Code running downward..

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This was brought to mind by the magnificent title sequence of the Le Carré thriller The Night Manager:

essentially completing a second DoubleQuote with those falling droplets. those rising bubbles — and there are several filmic equivalents of DoubleQuotes graphic matches aka match cuts — in the sequence itself: bomb cloud > martini, tea cups >machine gun, contrails > pearls..

I’m always happy to see more Le Carré on film..

There’s more than one way for a Muslim to have border problems

Monday, February 27th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Trump, Assad and Trump ]
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The first way, which is drawing a lot of fire these days, is via the Trump “Muslim ban” —

— but it ain’t the only way: angering al-Assad can also do the trick.

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An alternative example of the first kind would give us this —

— in some ways it’s a closer match, since both Russo and Khatib were traveling to significant events where their work would be highlighted. On the other hand, the Muhammad Ali Jr instance is powerful by reason of the issue of his religion coming up..

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Sources:

  • Guardian, US border agents ask Muhammad Ali’s son: ‘Are you a Muslim?’
  • Vox, The White Helmets cinematographer Khaled Khatib was coming to the Oscars
  • Guardian, Leading French academic threatened with deportation at Houston airport
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    But then we could also juxtapose the alternative first examples with one another, making a DoubleQuote of two instances of problems with US border agents —

    — and yes, much of the world is looking on.


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