The Dreams of Dolphins

Dolphins Near Hawaii

Silvina Ocampo is not only the wife of the great Argentinian writer Adolfo Bioy Casares, but she is a world class writer and poet herself. The following poem is called, simply:

Dolphins

Dolphins don’t play in the waves
as people think.
Dolphins fall asleep going down to the ocean floor.
What are they looking for? I don’t know.
When they touch the end of the water
abruptly they awake
and rise again because the sea is very deep
and when they rise, what are they looking for?
I don’t know.
And they see the sky and it makes them sleepy again
and they go back down asleep,
and they touch the ocean floor again
and awaken and rise back up.
Our dreams are like that.

 

Ten Short Horrors

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Think of this as my Halloween contribution. For the last several years, I have celebrated Halloween not by Trick-or-Treating, not by gorging myself with candy, but by reading collections of horror stories, mostly those published by Dover Publications. I find that the best works of horror fiction are usually not the longest (sorry, Stephen King), but either short stories or novellas.

Here is a list of ten of my favorites, in order of publication:

  • Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the red Death” (1842)
  • J S Le Fanu, “Carmilla” (1871)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Body Snatcher” (1884)
  • Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw” (1898)
  • Bernard Capes, “An Eddy on the Floor” (1899)
  • W W Jacobs, “The Monkey’s Paw” (1902)
  • Arthur Machen, “The White People” (1904)
  • Algernon Blackwood, “The Willows” (1907)
  • M R James, “Casting the Runes” (1911)
  • H P Lovecraft, “The Colour Out of Space” (1927)

Happy Halloween, and Boo!

 

No More Goodstuff

Allen Reinertsen of Bangkok, Thailand

I am greatly saddened by the recent death of one of my oldest Internet friends, Allen Reinertsen aka GOODSTUFF. Although I have never met him face to face, we have known each other for some ten years—back when we were both blogging on Yahoo 360. Then when we both migrated to WordPress and FaceBook, we re-established contact. I loved his long postings featuring cheesecake from the past, science fiction, and political ideas which, although the opposite of mine, did not arouse my ire.

After all, my dear father voted for George C. Wallace of the American Independent Party several times; and Martine’s political beliefs, also, are considerably to the right of mine. That’s all over and done with now.

Memorial from Reinertsen’s Memorial Service

Reinertsen is survived by his wife Srisuda, and possibly by one or more children, though I am not sure of this. He looks to be in his fifties, which is way too young to die. I would like to have known him, because, based on his posts, he was both gentle and funny. I can only hope that he is in the heaven of large-breasted women and ice cold beers.

It is always sad to see a friend’s passing. May the gods be kind to him and the people who loved him in this life, among whom I number myself.

And remember:

The Ultimate Good Advice from GOODSTUFF

 

 

Look! Over There!

Our President Controls the News Cycle by a Policy of Multiplying Distractions

Mr. Trumpf is not as smart as he pretends, but he is a master when it comes to controlling the media. Each week of his presidency is rife with outrages, one following hard upon the heels of the one before it. The ultimate effect is to keep him one step ahead of the high sheriffs who are gathering information to sink him.

According to RawStory.Com, Jake Tapper  describes how Trumpf adroitly moves the spotlight from one infamy to the next:

Tapper explained that the White House has very obviously attempted to “ramp up” efforts to “turn the spotlight away from questions about itself and investigations into possible collusion with Russia or possible obstruction of justice and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.”

The Trump White House is now employing a Pee Wee Herman “I’m rubber and you’re glue” defense for accusations of Russia collusion.

Instead, they’ve tried to “highlight matters pertaining to the previous president” and Hillary Clinton. In his Friday morning tweet, Trump claimed that the costly investigations against him were over and proved no evidence of collusion. He now is demanding a similar Russia investigation into Clinton.

Under these circumstances, when is it really possible to wind down an investigation when new evidence is constantly being discovered? The man in the Oval Office knows well how bored the public is with investigations that seem to go on forever. Ken Starr proved that during Clinton’s second term.

This is a very typical maneuver made by real estate magnates. Feel free to commit infamies, but always deflect blame and open new instances of infamy that make it impossible to pin you down.

The obvious solution is to break the investigations down into smaller segments and deal with them separately. At that point, when there are multiple investigations, the news for the perpetrator is always bad.

NOTE: The photo above is not actually authentic. It has been Photoshopped to make our president look bad. Which is only appropriate, I think.

Koizumi Yakumo

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)

Martine is gone, and the terrible heat of the last ten days is slowly beginning to abate. I find that I am reading more than ever. (How much more can I read than I’m reading now, I do not know. So far eighteen books this month.) The most recent is by an American who became a Japanese. I refer to Lafcadio Hearn, who went under the Japanese name of Koizumi Yakumo. He married a Japanese wife, raised four children with her. It appears that I have many of Hearn’s books about Japan, which were published by Charles E. Tuttle & Company of Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan in paperback editions during the 1970s.

When I was traveling to and from Dartmouth College, I took a White River Coach from Hanover to White River Junction, and from hence another White River Coach to Rutland. At Rutland, I would wait for the Vermont Transit bus that would take me to Albany, New York, where I would board the New York Central night train to Chicago, which let me off in Cleveland. There, my parents waited for me.

Because of Tuttle’s proximity, while at Dartmouth I grew interested in Japanese culture. I attended an exhibit of Sesshu Toyo’s “Long Scroll” at Hopkins Center, and saw all the Japanese films that came my way. One of the best of them is Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1965), made the year before I graduated.

Scene from Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1965)

It is only now, more than fifty years after I graduated, that I picked up my copy of Hearn’s Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904) and began reading it with increasing enjoyment. The Kobayashi film took four stories from Hearn’s works, two of them from the book entitled Kwaidan. I was enthralled by Hearn’s stories, such that I can see myself picking the other Hearns off the shelf (I have almost ten of them) and reading them with intense pleasure. The book is not all ghost stories: At the end are three delightful essays about butterflies, mosquitoes, and ants as seen in Chinese and Japanese cultures.  Here is a brief excerpt from his essay on ants:

The work daily performed by these female [ant] laborers comprises road-making, bridge-building, timber-cutting, architectural construction of numberless kinds, horticulture and agriculture, the feeding and sheltering of a hundred varieties of domestic animals, the manufacture of sundry chemical products, the storage and conservation of countless food-stuffs, and the care of the children of the race. All this labor is done for the commonwealth—no citizen of which is capable even of thinking about “property,” except as a res publica;—and the sole object of the commonwealth is the nurture and training of its young,—nearly all of whom are girls. The period of infancy is long: the children remain for a great while, not only helpless, but shapeless, and withal so delicate that they must be very carefully guarded against the least change of temperature. Fortunately their nurses understand the laws of health: each thoroughly knows all that she ought to know in regard to ventilation, disinfection, drainage, moisture, and the danger of germs,—germs being as visible, perhaps, to her myopic sight as they become to our own eyes under the microscope. Indeed, all matters of hygiene are so well comprehended that no nurse ever makes a mistake about the sanitary conditions of her neighborhood.

In spite of this perpetual labor no worker remains unkempt: each is scrupulously neat, making her toilet many times a day. But as every worker is born with the most beautiful of combs and brushes attached to her wrists, no time is wasted in the toilet-room. Besides keeping themselves strictly clean, the workers must also keep their houses and gardens in faultless order, for the sake of the children. Nothing less than an earthquake, an eruption, an inundation, or a desperate war, is allowed to interrupt the daily routine of dusting, sweeping, scrubbing, and disinfecting.

For many years, much of what the West knew about Japan came from Hearn’s pen. I cannot imagine a more delightful introduction to any culture.

La Que Se Fue

My Most Recent Picture of Martine, Taken in Late September

Today Martine left me. I drove her to the airport and we said our tearful good-byes. It was another blisteringly hot Santa Ana Wind day with triple-digit temperatures. I spent some time in the Santa Monica Library on Ocean Park and then did a little grocery shopping.

A week ago, my Mexican neighbor Luis Sanchez suggested we go to La Parrilla in East Los Angeles and hire some mariachis to sing La Que Se Fue, “She Who Went Away.” Here are the words in English to this Norteño classic by Elefante:

Everything I was looking for was within her,
but she disappeared,
one bad day, without thinking,
she just left.
How I wish,
that this song didn’t hurt,
oh, oh, oh if only you knew.
oh, oh.
Chorus:
That the sadness is sinking me,
that I’m drinking this pain,
that my life is almost dead,
oh oh oh if you knew.
Destiny charged me more than necessary,
It had no mercy
and even though they say you can’t get lovesick,
how I wish it didn’t hurt,
this song,
oh oh oh if only you knew.
Chorus:
That the sadness is sinking me,
that I’m drinking this pain,
that my life is almost dead,
oh oh oh if you knew.
I take her, where ever I go,
how I wish it didn’t hurt,
this song,
oh oh oh if only you knew.
Chorus:
That the sadness is sinking me,
that I’m drinking this pain,
that my life is almost dead,
oh oh oh if you knew.

 

I don’t see Martine’s departure as any kind of betrayal. After a dreadfully hot summer, she was tired of the heat, tired of Los Angeles, and a little bit tired of me. The funny thing is that we still love each other; and I dearly hope she will return. I have reason to think that she will, but I don’t know exactly what she will decide to do. My fingers are crossed.

In the meantime, here are the words to that Mexican song in the original Spanish:

Todo lo que yo buscaba
Estaba en ella
Pero desaparecio
Un mal dia sin pensalo se largo
Como quisiera que no me doliera esta cancion
Hay, hay, hay
Si supiera
Hay, hay, hay
Que me esta llevando la tristeza
Que me estoy bebiendo este dolor
Que mi vida ya esta casi muerta
Hay, hay, hay
Si supiera
El destino me cobro mas de la cuenta
No me tuvo compasion
why aunque dicen que de amor nadie se enferma
Como quisiera que no me doliera esta cancion
Hay, hay, hay
Si supiera
Que me esta llevando la tristeza
Que me estoy bebiendo este dolor
Que mi vida ya esta casi muerta
Hay, hay,

 

If you’d like to hear the song sung in Spanish, click here.

Salar de Uyuni

Southwest Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni

The day before yesterday, I wrote about two things I wanted to see in Bolivia. I mentioned the Salar de Uyuni in passing and concentrated on the “Death Road” linking La Paz and Coroico. The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat (over 10,500 square kilometers and 4,000 square miles).

On a couple of occasions, I have seen one of the largest salt flats in the United States: the so-called “Devil’s Golf Course,” located adjacent to the lowest point in the continental United States, Badwater in California’s Death Valley.

There is something about the Salar de Uyuni, however, which is even more spectacular. The flats are frequently covered with a shallow sheet of water that reflects the sky above (as in the photo).

Another View of the Salar de Uyuni, When Dry

It is supposed to be difficult to reach the salt flats except on a jeep tour from Uyuni or Tupiza in Bolivia or San Pedro de Atacama in nearby Chile. If I went, I’d probably need a sleeping bag and a whole lot of other things that I rarely travel with. But it does look like an awesome place.

Interestingly, beneath the salt flats is the world’s largest supply of lithium, as much as 50-70% of the world’s total reserves. The current government doesn’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs (that is, tourism) in return for destroying one of the world’s most incredible beauty spots and extracting all the lithium.