Sunday, October 09, 2005

my Frank Rich moment of (obscure) fame

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times (online) did what presumably they were pondering doing since they (long years ago) required registration as a condition for reading (free) their paper online. They began charging. But they've rolled this out in an unexpected way. Only certain, select (and, for some readers, most-desirable) content is under lock & key -- accessible to their new, paid subscribers; the rest remains open to freebie registrants. Well, they've long had in place paid access to archived articles of all sorts. What's new is the charge for current content. The payee-only treasure? Op-ed & sports pages.

I'd already been paying for privilege of (easier) access to over the past year; I fairly well can't live sans NYT daily opinionizers. In gone years I've subscribed to the physical paper; anyway: online access seems a modest habituation (whose withdrawal symptoms one needn't feel morally compelled to test). This subscription program flies under banner of TimeSelect. (Even the hoary NYT fell prey to the argot of a ComboLocution. WhatsNext?)

All that, mind you, is preface to my story. (I've frankly no burning opinion to dole out vis-a-vis the paper's attempt to nuance the to-charge-or-not-to-charge question.)

Besides the aforesaid lock-&-key items, TimeSelect will include some content that's internet-only. I've noticed (so far) one such item. Frank Rich -- erstwhile veteran theatre critic, more lately turned once-a-week (Sundays) politics commentator -- now returns to his old beat of the culture dodge/entertainment biz. In a small way. Rather than doling out his own views (as of yore), he'll raise each week some American culture issue, make remarks, and solicit input from readers (via email). Rich then selects a few responses and includes them in a subsequent roundup.

So it's a tid-bits online letters-to-Rich sampler. The hoi polloi speak; vox populi, sort of.

Rich's first topic tossed on table (couple weeks back) was (I now reveal with stage-shudder if not drum-roll): the fall television season.

So I dashed off a response to the good gent. Was bewildered to see email from TimeSelect several days thereafter. What's up? They ask me to confirm I'm me, wasn't paid to send 'em my email, & am not sending it elsewhere [to rival outlets]. In short, Rich wishes to publish my pearly words.

Was planning to display here said post (which this evening I noted in the NYTimes online -- dated from Oct.3). That was my concept for the current blog-bit. But come to think of it, I signed away rights to "publish" the paragraph. If verbatim is verboten, presumably paraphrase is permissible.

I allowed to this effect: Since I don't watch TV, it appears I'll need to sit out this Rich chatathon till another topic's raised, hmm? And yet, and yet -- this "raises a meta-question" (he says, self-quoting and arching an eyebrow), about why so many ostensibly intelligent people waste so much time watching TV-things scarcely worth the bother?

And (waxing almost thoughtful now): whether other media (poetry, theatre, dance, music) might not perchance suffer from the mass national energy-drain? hmmm?

So this gripping rhetorical eloquence found airing in the recondite precincts aforenoted & described. For any who've bought into the program, vide: here (Frank Rich / Everyone's a Critic / Oct.3, 2005).

Apologies if the above seems a joke sans punchline. Maybe you can deem it a shaggy dog tale? Or maybe I should stick with poetry.

[revised 10/10/05]


Blogger Me said...

thanks a million for miranda's blog

Mon Oct 10, 10:10:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Zofo The Hermit of Wandering Thoughts said...

No the answer isn't THE FULL MOON... nice try anyways...
The author of the last verse is that famous ANON...tis a hindi proverb that I have translated into English.. well the poets of that time considered Saikh Saaidi to be the epitome of persian poetry...

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya had taken Ameer Khusrau under his wing and appreciated his poetry and songs that he used to sing during the evening prayers at his hospice, usually were written and performed by Khusrau... and when The auliya was dying he asked his successor to hold Khusrau back and not let him venture anywhere close to where he was buried unless on hearing Khusrau he would get tempted to rise from the dead again.... so Khusrau when he came back from his pilgrimage was not allowed to go near the Auliya's Grave and soon he too passed away and is buried around 100 meters away from where the Auliya is buried...

cheers and thanks for the comments
much appreciated

Mon Oct 10, 12:26:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Zofo, what an amazing story, thanks!
Do you translate much from Urdu like this? You seem to have a nice knack for it. With Max Babi, on the Caferati discussion board, I've enjoyed some collaborative dabbles in translating poetry (esp. ghazals) from Gujarati, and to a lesser degree from Urdu (just a bit of the latter, so far). In future, I'm thinking to open a separate blog to focus on those experiments & efforts a bit more, in future. (Maybe will launch this like early next year or something.) Would be nice if you'd care to join in, in such discussions (exploring pulling ghazal poetry into English). Well I see you've now posted another item with a bit from Mir Taqi Mir. All those poets rather interest me. The amount well-presented in Egnlish is I believe much too limited, so far. More could be done.
/ / /

Handa -- glad you like the Miranda July blog. (I've a feeling she's your type.) She represents (in her own fashion) a certain kind of "idealism / humanism / individualism / improvisation / imagination-about-art" that has been variously embodied in the late 20th century American (& to lesser degree Euro) avant-garde movement dubbed "performance [art]." She does her own thing in a refreshing manner. The impression one gets is: the figure represented in her film is a good (but if anything, maybe less detailed rather than exaggeratedly-detailed) version of [an artist much like] herself. She seems to have less irony (in sense of a kind of bitterness of alienation -- though "irony" really shouldn't be limited to that meaning] than some of her predecessors. I'd like to think she in some way represents good possibilities in the consciousness of the younger (i.e., sort of your) generation. BTW Handa, your interest in Timothy Leary concerns me just a little bit (if I can get a tad avuncular in my old age here). Well, in my day, more interesting than his writings were those of Aldus Huxley and Alan Watts and Ram Dass (Richard Alpert); though we found Meher Baba really stole the show. But every generation (& person) sorts such things out in their own way.

Mon Oct 10, 01:32:00 PM PDT  
Blogger ~River~ said...

Have you written any ghazals? I'd like to see them. You can read one of my own here. <:o)

Mon Oct 10, 01:53:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

River --
ah the subject of English-lang. ghazals. Yes, I've written a lot (made many efforts) in this direction. Some years back, the late Agha Shahid Ali did me the kindness of including a few of my early attempts in his anthology, Ravishing Disunities: Real Ghazals in English; but I'm no longer so happy with those early "studies," but on other hand have been much more happy with some written more lately. This past spring (and some ways into summer) I went thru a phase of writing poetry very prolificly -- especially in villanelle & ghazal forms (also rubai). Either I'll fish one of those out, or write something afresh to show on this blog.

Thanks for pointing to your ghazal. We follow the same basic rules; but of course how those are used can vary all over the map. I like the complexity one feels in some of your verses, but in some I can't follow the thought as I'd like to; for example, I'm at a loss to grasp the final couplet at all.

This sort of form is something we can all work at over time; there are many nuances of craft, and we only discover 'em by trying. As far as I'm concerned, this is (potentially) a frontier in English literature of our time.

You might find that anthology of interest (it includes works from I think 107 poets! -- quite varied; I'm afraid the term "real ghazals" was a reference to basic issues-of-form more than a claim for "reality" that could be made in some more profound sense).

We had some bit of discussion of Shaheed's own English-lang. ghazals about a month ago, here, incidentally.

So: let me what I fish up to show, as example of my efforts toward the ghazal, happily. Some of my first experiments were in form of attempting formal English renderings from Ghalib (based on literal translations). That initial toes-dip dates back more than 25 years now.

More about this after a time -- thanks!

Mon Oct 10, 02:32:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Dear Riv,

okay, I've dashed out one would-be ghazal, here more or less in the spirit or manner of a parlor amusement. I'll subsequently post something that I might characterize as a "more formal / serious effort." (I simply felt now like writing something new rather than delving into chaotic masses of old poetry.) In terms of basic requirements of the form, this has one obvious (& serious) flaw. The verses are too connected (thematically). One wants more independence of verses, and also more variety of idea & mood. Duely noting these shortcomings, I'm nonetheless happy with the word-flow (sound-flow) of this (and suppose it also carries at least some hints of other good qualities perhaps; the playfulness may not be flabergasting, but anyway ... well the final couplet I'll call myself happy with). So as said, a hasty demo / exercise for the moment. In blog proper [rather than this commentative cul-de-sac], I'll post something else in next day or two, likely.

[note; Ardeo (pron. ar-DAY-oh) is my usual nom-de-plume for these]


[techno/typographic note: I just discovered that this space is eliding the caesura (extra horizontal spaces) that I wanted in the above lines. Ergo, in lieu of that, for the moment I'm using a colon mark to represent the caesura. In future, I'll see if I can track down HTML that might work for empty horizontal displacement. I don't want a tab, just a couple of blank spaces!]

/ / / / /

Ghazal Impromptu

I'm a small silver ring adorning the nose of River
I can speak no thing of the brain or the toes of River

Her breath I discern : I sense her billowing words
as I gradually learn the elations & thoes of River

in the ashram of silver : I learned how to circle the sun
the naught that i hold rests nigh to the nose of River

dwelling close to her cheek : I speak therefore in a whisper
at times I'm in shadow : what dark torrent flows from River?

Ardeo! when Siv saved the world from primordial deluge
what clobbered his head : as everyone knows : was River


Mon Oct 10, 03:18:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

2nd line should read:

I can say no thing of the brain or the toes ...

Mon Oct 10, 04:26:00 PM PDT  
Blogger ~River~ said...

erm...I think your ghazal works very well and not merely as "parlour amusement" either.

The discussion in Caferati included some key questions about importing a form like the ghazal into an english language context. I found your responses to Agha Shahid Ali's 'borrowing' of the sher from Ghalib interesting.

Spyware in my comp so no more internet today! :(

Tue Oct 11, 04:50:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

River: uh-oh, lookout for the spyware. Catch you on the techno-rebound, then.
thanks as always,

ps: my "defense" of Agha Shahid Ali in that thread may've been a bit overly gesticulative as gesture (I mean, there are several ways of imagining how the chap happed to borrow from Ghalib); but the good Annie Zaidi's uncertainties notwithstanding, really I was delighted to learn Ghalib had insinuiated himself in that way.

Pound's "make it new" applies to transmigration thru languages. I daresay that was his original idea (or an aspect of it).

Tue Oct 11, 06:16:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

pps River:
yes, my chota ghazal seems to survive next-day re-read, I'd allow.

The position of the "speaker" (nose-ring) has evocative trope-ness vis-a-vis [similitude to] position of speaker (un-met internetted blogo-correspondent poet cohort), hmm? Neither can "see" the figure described (River), yet both may perhaps catch (as it were) her breath, or tresses-shade, etc.

In that respect, the ghazal is (quaintly perhaps) suggestive or descriptive of blogo-poetco-experience per se? (if the latter can be conjured as a proper catetory of idea)...

Since you're (inter alia) the expert in this last-named field, I'd hazard the poem & comment are perhaps not unsuitably addressed.

cheers, d.i.

Tue Oct 11, 06:35:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Me said...

I had read your comment but I did not reply earlier till I finished the archives of Miranda's blog. Yes, I also think that she is my type. Everyone has their own method of interpreting a work of art and for me, Miranda's movie is about being alone in a crowd and sharing that with someone who feels the same way. Most alienated characters that are portrayed in modern day literature/movies are on a self-destruct route and that is precisely the reason why this movie stands out because it portrays the enormous power of something called hope. After reading her blog I realised that she is an extremely modest person. This might be a lie as many famous celebrities like to lie about such things but still... at least she cared enough to lie.

About Timothy Leary, I have not read any of his works and I do not know much about him. One of my friends told me about his eight circuit model of consciousness and that got me interested in him. That is the reason I was trying to find a book by him. I tried the local bookstores but they did not have anything so I posted about it on my blog. I have read 5 books by Huxley and I really like his works. Although "Brave New World" is often said to be his best but I prefer "The Perennial Philosophy" in which he has discussed Vedanta in great detail. You should try it if you have not read it already. I have not heard of the other people you mentioned.

Tue Oct 11, 09:14:00 AM PDT  
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