“If we have only to say, ‘humanity stinks in our nostrils’ then silence is better, because we have heard that news.” — Saul Bellow, in a 1959 letter
I posted another story this morning. This one is “Sandhills”, which was published in New York Tyrant, Volume 1, Number 1, in 2006. It’s a story I first sketched out in 1993, as part of another, longer work. It didn’t really fit in, though, so I cut it and in the next year or so I reworked it into its present form. It was accepted by The Quarterly in 1995, providing I changed the title to “The Crane Game”. I changed the title and made the other minor but necessary revisions required by Gordon Lish, who edited The Quarterly, but then his mag went bust (for the second and so far final time).
It took me another eleven years to find a publisher for it. The editor at the Tyrant (I can no longer remember her name, but it may have been Sarah) also required a few minor changes, which I accepted when she was right and I could not make a convincing case otherwise, either to her or myself. I had long since changed the title back to “Sandhills”. I never cared for “The Crane Game”, in large part because The Crying Game had come out in ’92 and broke big in ’93 and the two titles were far too close to one another acoustically and temporally.
“Every work of art, even though it is produced by following an explicit or implicit poetic of necessity, is effectively open to a virtually unlimited range of possible readings, each of which causes the work to acquire new vitality in terms of one particular taste, or perspective, or personal performance.” — Umberto Eco, “The Poetics of the Open Work”
“Greek tragedy was rooted in the empirical observation that there is no relationship between justice and suffering. Tragedy confronts us with our frailties and limits and the disastrous consequences of trying to exceed them. It advances a counter-intuitive thesis: that efforts to limit suffering through the accumulation of knowledge or power might invite more suffering.” — Richard Ned Lebow, The Tragic Vision of Politics
I went out this morning to water my back yard, which is mostly desert with a few patches of wild grass and herb borders and a vegetable patch, and there was a falcon there, eating a breakfast of fresh dove. I went back inside and called my wife and said, “Come quick!” We watched the falcon for a few minutes through a window, then I went back out to water. The falcon continued its breakfasting, which included the plucking of feathers from its entree, until I turned on the hose, at which point the falcon gathered up its meal and flew a couple yards over to finish.
The house my wife and I live in is near the geographic center of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the Uptown part of town. Our neighborhood was built about fifty years ago, during the great expansion of Albuquerque that followed the Second World War. Adjacent parts of our neighborhood weren’t built up until the past twenty years or less, remaining desert enclaves until that time. Roadrunners who used to live in those enclaves migrated to our neighborhood and found they could survive here, so now we have about a half-dozen or so roadrunners about. We have various songbirds, doves and pigeons; in the winter we have crows and in the summer we have grackles.
The grackles have already started returning. One of them was perched on the top of a neighboring juniper this morning, giving warning cries about the falcon. I don’t imagine a falcon would go for a grackle with so many pigeons and doves around, pigeons and doves being essentially the sheep and cattle of the urban bird world. The falcons live down by the river (the Rio Grande), in the woods there, but we’ve had one in our neighborhood for at least a year. I’ve lived in the American Southwest most of my life, and this is the first time I’ve seen a raptor with its prey in my own back yard.
“Since men cannot be aware of everything, their words, speech and writing can mean something that they themselves did not intend to say or write…. Not occasionally only, but always, the meaning of a text goes beyond its author.” — Kermode in The Art of Telling, quoting Gadamer in Truth and Method (trans. from Wahrheit und Methode by Barden and Cumming), quoting and summarizing Chaldenius, who probably wrote in Latin as he was writing in the mid-18th century
I added a “Stories” menu to the left sidebar of this site’s present thematic apparition, and placed within said new menu a copy of a long story I call “The Antichrist.” It’s a tl;dr piece I first drafted long ago, though it wasn’t hammered into its final shape until about three or four years ago. It’s earned a few rejections since then, but I threw in the towel a week or so ago on getting it published anywhere else and decided to publish it here. I like its voice and other stuff about it–one would hope I like it, I wrote the damn thing and now I’ve published it–but I can’t see a compelling reason to ask anyone to pay me money for it, not even in the form of two contributor’s copies.
So far as I know, the only reader I have is a fellow peddling porn in Russia, so, Boris, I hope you enjoy “The Antichrist.”
I’m reading Book 8 of Herodotus this morning, and he writes a passage that leads me to wonder if he’s referring to a tsunami. Here it is (from Macaulay’s translation):
“When three months had gone by while Artabazos was besieging the town, there came to be a great ebb of the sea backwards, which lasted for a long time; and the Barbarians, seeing that shallow water had been produced, endeavoured to get by into the peninsula of Pallene, but when they had passed through two fifth-parts of the distance, and yet three-fifths remained, which they must pass through before they were within Pallene, then there came upon them a great flood-tide of the sea, higher than ever before, as the natives of the place say, though high tides come often. So those of them who could not swim perished, and those who could were slain by the men of Potidaia who put out to them in boats. The cause of the high tide and flood and of that which befell the Persians was this, as the Potidaians say, namely that these same Persians who perished by means of the sea had committed impiety towards the temple of Poseidon and his image in the suburb of their town; and in saying that this was the cause, in my opinion they say well.”
I had a Joomla website, but had neither time nor capability sufficient to get it to look like anything more than something half-assed and tossed up on the web, so I switched over to this WordPress bloggy thing, the advantage to which being, I don’t have but the most minimal of capability with it, either, but it’s not so obvious. I hope. Of course, now that I’ve confessed my broad incompetence, the cat is out of the bag, scratching the furniture, and pissing on the bookcases. “Marking,” they call it. It smells pretty bad.
I plan to post more stuff on this webby bloggy thing, but I do believe I got the Gordon Lish notes up–I should double-check to make sure–and that’s most all of what anyone came to my Joomla site for, anyway.