Saturday, February 25, 2006

These salty tears...

1876, for so many reasons, was a hell of a year. Just check it out. If you can, time travel. Edward and Agnes Kennings were both loyal Donkay submitters; many of us spent a few months of our adolecence (wherever in life it may have fallen) with their Blue Beach Notebooks, which they updated every summer of their marriage. Here we've chosen not that well-loved archive but an excerpt from their wedding vows. Its the first archived usage of that spelling that the Kennings always advocated-- each other spelled as one word. Now, maybe you thought that the writing of one's own vows was a post-60's phenomena, you may have to check yo' century. Here's Eddie, only his vow survives. Agnes, like so many other artists, often prefered to burn rather than submit to the academie.

I first knew that Agnes was to be the woman of my life one afternoon in the living room of my parent's house. We 'd pass her visits reading, looking at reprints of lithographs, and we'd then fall into discussions that lasted until supper. Most of these afternoons were spent in the nectar of knowing, of savoring eachother's words as well as the aspect from which they emerged. We had just been discussing whether or not Keats' Porphyro was a villanous seducer. After hearing Agnes put forth the argument that indeed he was, doing credible damage to my romantic notions, I sat crestfallen. But in the ensuing silence she followed up by saying "I'll tell you what I am, a villianous consumer of that new Lowery's Season Salt." This was the humour I was looking for.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The other white...

Sir James Wilberwend inherited his father's membership to Donkay, and whereas we are all familiar with the elder's "Collage of Sentiments from the Scottish Coast and Moors" the writings of his son are less quoted in academie halls. It may be that the younger was a bit more of a realist, but we still find him interesting. He submitted to Donkay everyday, never failing the 1 o'clock post, while his father posted only when "the heath-root shaketh my being". In following the younger's star we adhere to that dear old Donkay refrain: There's Balzacs everywhere, you just need to look in the right place.

I was just fastening up my buttons when Henry Coadsy, our poet, walked into the party. Well it wasn't quite yet a party, but the drawing room of some enterprising degree candidates who have set up a "Shanghaii style" massage parlour to help finance their end-of-the-term walking excursion to the low countries. Those of us who had arrived early were thus refreshed, while the late-comers had come prepared to dine and make conversation.

Now mind you, the night which was about to unfold was one where the elixir of truth seemed to flow among the wine, so that in making one's reply to a collegue's remark one was somehow inclined to marry wit to the truth, rather than use wit alone to make the usual clever escape into the verbal ether.

But it was precisely in this way vein of truth telling that we all discovered such a horrid thing about Mr. Coadsy. Personally I knew three principal facts about him before his revelation- the thesis on Pope, his recurrent absences from the faculty club on Saturdays and Sundays, and finally, though I might not have thought of this beforehand, that when one went to dine at his rooms it was almost inevitably pork cutlets which were served, with a heavy Burgundy, and of which the host always partook with a barely civil gusto.

Tonight it went like this- Shelby had made an offhand comment to the poet, something to the effect of 'where is it that you go to every weekend, you devil.' And Coadsy had replied "to my farm." We all laughed and said surely he might have some family land out there, but why term it with such modest affection? But the man insisted on calling it his farm and proceeded to go into great detail about the whole operation.

For you see it was not just a farm, but a hog farm, and his involvement was not just that of landowner overseeing operations but turned out to be, well, rather hands on. I can't tell you how many napkins were raised to mouths as he revealed some of the details, but none stranger than how he and his brother, the banker, each at a shockingly young age, had been placed in a wooden pit among five bull-pigs the size of their own selves with only a carpenter's hammer to defend themselves with. The pigs, quite intelligent, could always sense impending violence and became exceedingly agressive, but the boys weren't allowed out of the pit until the pigs were quite bludgeoned to death, (Fred it seems, once almost lost a foot) and then they could be sure that the knuckle they were chewing on after supper that night was from the same squealing mass that had heaved its final breath beneath him that afternoon.

Coadsy, trying to recover his standing, said it had instilled in him a sense of when to "make a go" at the reader in his poetry, but the shock would not subside. There was absolute silence, until I, if I may give myself the credit, saved the evening by saying, "and here I thought you had a lady in Brighton."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Catch me I'm fallen...

When the portable tape recorder hit the academie, it was like that whole crack thing a few years later. There was this heady burst of energy, and for a while things got a little funky. Many a bowtie was unknotted, many a cognac glass was clinked over a wistful face made moreso by wrinkles. For the young ones, if you wanted to transfer all you had to do was promise the new office that you'd transcribe the incoming tapes. Under such circumstances, minimalism was appreciated. Here's an example of one type of said ism.

Many people, confused about what tape does, mailed in this kind of clip, framing a taped moment with their own post-scripted commentary. A strange predecessor to at least one species of the modern blog, no? Thankfully this trend died down. Maybe these mad recorders ran across an old tape that put them in disagreement with themselves. Donkee of course couldn't care less, we love that shit, but these types most likely freaked out. There are, however, some tough customers out there. Fritz started taping his interactions when, as he puts it "these machines were the size of a women's purse." Here's one from September 2004.

What a jerk! We had barely shook hands when he saw my book and said,

'I suppose Oulipian writers can console themselves with the fact that today people with no souls think their Ipods read their minds.'

I said I happen to think that my Ipod reads my mind. He said,

'Well I will laugh at any sad fact about humanity, I will accept that algorithms are the structure of life, but I think I'’m romantic enough not to attribute such powers to an Ipod.'

I said I happen to think it's quite romantic to find that a machine speaks to you.

'I guess that by romantic I meant eternally and senselessly at war with the technocratic. The best I'll give you is that it's not that it can predict your mind, it's that your mind is predictable. But your mind's not even predictable, it's simply malleable. For instance, watch this.'

Then he took the quart of milk out of the grocery bag I was carrying and drank the whole thing in my face. The surplus coursed down his neck in rivulets made feathery by pores and few-day-old hairs.

What a jerk!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

All in the pen...

An excerpt from the minutes of Alain Villein's first and last parole board meeting, the original transcript retained as part of the release agreement negotiated by the Donkay member and inmate. Duplicate here from a Villein post the day of his 1989 release, his first submission since the day of his conviction 10 years prior for forgery and impersonation of a government official. (Translation from the original French was done 'in house' at 1430.) The "he" mentioned is a former cellmate of Vellein's whose name was redacted by the prison.

"And when you were transfered to E Block East, Mr. Vellein, the nighttime songs of #***** continued in the same manner. Am I correct?"

"Yes. 'I'm going to bomb the futures market,' he sang, marvelously. 'When the dawn breaks over the Potomac I'll sail my skiff like a Hudson River Valley School Anti-Christ onto the banks of the District, disembark, bark up a tree, wallow and wail against the throne of Lincoln, gouge my eyes out in the reflecting pool, and scale the fence to the White House with a second skin of dynamite duct taped to my breast. You snipers in the cherry blossoms take aim,' he said, marvelously. 'You'll miss your mark remarkable; you'll remake your life from behind a one-inch hole. You'll wonder how to break your son and daughter, the opportunity of a fund gone, breezed away like the stray bullet with which you graze my line. You have no spur to prick my intent, my intense release will itch your dreams. Your wives will collapse in the corner of the kitchen with secrets of the state once pressed against their ear while you thrust the power of the office against their sensational cervices. I came out. It was a relief to say so. Women and Men live on the species train, embarking and colluding in the night on dangerous sooty ledges. No singular tribe has proven themself to me. I admire the terrain of Tora Bora on Earth. Liquid hydrogen yes, please and oxygen, made of atomic words. I want poems to incite Amiri. Gift baskets on the futures markets, collapsable economies, detainees. Who your victimless mar, are the victimless marred, past all myth, an alley to the bakery at dawn, rose up on their own. Plucked by the patronage of the psychological compass, the big words are free to roam.' "