Wednesday, June 21, 2006

torpid, part ii

Still few signs of life. Got a nice comment from Steve Shoemaker, who has begun his own blog, Laguna Lacuna. Check it out for, among other things, a chillingly accurate account of what it's like to be on vacation with preschoolers – how much depends on getting that naptime in, how one's restaurant evaluations begin to be based, not on how extensive their wine cellar is or how fresh the halibut is, but whether they have crayons & kids' menus that can be colored, how days start getting rated on the basis of how many diversions one found to fill up the time between wakeup and lullaby... Kids are great; vacations are great; but during a certain stretch of childhood, the two can sometimes seem like mutually exclusive terms. (I write this on the verge of our trip to NYC – we'll be there from the 28th thru the 9th; anybody want to hook up, just drop me a line.)
My parents were both from Western Kentucky, & I did a good deal of growing up there, enough to know that the current state administration – led by Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher – is, in its good-old-boy corruption, really nothing new for the bluegrass state. Turns out one of the sites doing the most to rake the muck of the Fletcher organization (something like 15 indictments at last count) is, who were quoted in a front page New York Times article yesterday. Today, the State of Kentucky has blocked access to on all state-owned computers, & as a tidal wave of indignation has spread across the left blogosphere, they've begun blocking other sites as well (Atrios, etc. – but not Fox News, or various right-wing blogs). Pretty sad.
A few curious readers inquire: what's that "big [Ronald] Johnson piece" of which you speak? Well, it's an omnibus review for Parnassus: Poetry in Review, of RJ's last three volumes: To Do As Adam Did, the selected poems, The Shrubberies, and the new Flood edition of Radi Os. Now that's a lot of stuff to cover, and I'm even going to stretch it a bit: since Parnassus hasn't run an RJ review since William Harmon reviewed ARK: The Foundations over 20 years ago, I see no reason why I shouldn't also cover the complete ARK (Living Batch, 1996). So really a career overview of all of RJ's work. In some ways it feels like the big RJ essay I've been building up to over the last 2 decades-plus of reading his work, & it's gonna be good.

A premium at Parnassus on the snappy and telling sentence, so while I'm at work on one of these things I tend to lie awake at night and craft zingers. A couple of fumbles theretoward:
It's unfortunate, given Johnson's twinned mythological obsessions, that Orpheus and Theseus were not a single myth: the poet-magician Orpheus, rather than descending into Hell to retrieve Eurydice in an awkwardly Jungian search for his own anima, should have navigated the treacherous labyrinth, a task instead parcelled out by the ancients to the bully-boy warrior Theseus.

Often Johnson seems like a precocious, wide-eyed, goofy teenager, pushing his tape-mended glasses up on his nose so he can seize you by the arm and make you admire the latest set of Mars photos beamed back by some NASA probe. Or a twelve-year old who's just discovered the mechanics of sex, and can't resist making smutty little jokes about the the baguette and dozen eggs you've brought in from the grocery.


Steve Shoemaker said...

Hey Mark--Thanks for the mention, and I'll be looking forward to that Johnson piece. You've got your work cut out for you, but it shld be fun...


E. M. Selinger said...

Mark! I'm back online--too much clicking makes the boy go blind--and very glad to see you're hard at work on that Johnson. Er... You know what I mean. Herb couldn't have picked a better man for the job. If you end up with unused sentences, paragraphs, etc., how about posting them here, rather than leaving them on the cutting room floor?


Mark Scroggins said...

Yes, Eric, but what do you think of these two?? And no, I won't be making any "Johnson" jokes in the body of the piece, I'm afraid...