Rilke and God
By Campbell McGrath
When Rilke talks about God I have no idea
what to say. It's like being buttonholed at a party
by someone who wrongly assumes you share
the urgency of their political convictions,
their devotion to a cause and its glorious leader,
a man of catastrophically dangerous power.
Time to fill your drink, grab some salted almonds.
But then he talks about art in the same voice,
and I come to see that to him they are one
and the same, aspects of an indivisible fire,
facets of a singular jewel, and I can understand
where he is coming from, I have anecdotes
to supply, grievances to air, a savvy joke,
some watercooler wisdom. And so we part
if not as friends, then, contented acquaintances.
"Campbell McGrath's new book, Seven Notebooks, lives up to its title: The seven sections, whose contents are often dated like journal entries, make seven accounts of days and thoughts, wildly various," writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "The first section includes 'Ode to Bureaucrats' and 'Ode to Blueberries' as well as the opening 'Ode to Inspiration.' McGrath's audacity has a genial, sociable quality, often with a flippancy that he directs back at himself, in the American tradition of kidding, a humor that may tease greatness but makes the joke on itself...for example, 'Rilke and God.'"
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow in central Pennsylvania, but my state's groundhog, Western Maryland Murray, did not see his shadow in Cumberland, Maryland, so I don't know whose prediction to believe. I do know that for the past two nights we've heard the foxes calling at night and for the past two days, a pair of squirrels have been mating all over our deck -- they might be Jack and Stephen but I suspect the larger one in this case is actually female. *g* On Friday, while it was pouring rain, they hid in a bucket on its side under our deck and drove the cats insane with their noises. The cats were only slightly less insane on Saturday.
I stayed home all day feeling terrible again -- took Adam to get Magic cards that we had promised him he could buy with his own money but otherwise sat on the couch feeling awful, throat and ears and sinuses (the ears are the worst, though, because I get dizzy when they're clogged and I blow my nose). Watched Torchwood's "Sleeper" and "To the Last Man," both of which are terrific -- I think I preferred the former because it reminded me of an old Lee Remick movie about Soviet sleeper agents in the US and was so sad -- people with families and friends whom they didn't even recognize once their space alien programming kicked in and turned them into killers, and Beth's willingness to go to any lengths to die human. With the latter, I was happy Tosh finally got a storyline and glad that Jack had a bit more sympathy for his own people than for strangers like Beth or Tommy, but it felt like yet another boy-war-hero production from this team where the women are supporting cast...even the woman who's a cast member. I loved Gwen's arguments with Jack in "Sleeper" and wished she had more scenes in "To the Last Man" connecting with Tosh.
One scampered off into the nearest tree...
...while the other sat brazenly on the deck smirking at us.
All the rain on Friday caused a huge flood in our parking lot.
Daisy watching the squirrels, who are in the bucket you can barely see through her reflection in the window.
Life is rough when you have squirrels around and no one wants to feed you all the time.
Watched Michael Collins in the evening, which I'd never seen before -- the kids had been doing other things but started watching too, and had I realized how violent it was, I don't know that I would have let them (Adam was pretty angry with both sides in the Irish Civil War by the end). I admit that my contemporary Irish history is not the best, but is it widely accepted that de Valera had a role in Collins' assassination? I know he said at one point that he was sure he'd be blamed for it, but I thought a lot of the Republicans didn't trust de Valera by that point and weren't taking orders from him. ETA: Have just watched the documentary on the DVD in which Neil Jordan says he doesn't think the movie implies that de Valera was responsible for Collins' death, to which I can only say, nice try, Neil, but you shouldn't have had de Valera crying over a not-yet-sealed fate if you didn't want to convey that impression. I figured any movie with Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Stephen Rea (who does all of Jordan's movies) and Aidan Quinn would be worth watching, and it is, but now I want to see a good long documentary on Collins.
Wired is reporting that the WGA has reached a tentative agreement with the producers. I hope it's true. Meanwhile have a great Super Bowl! I feel so awful that I may not go to my oldest friend's annual party, which would suck.