Cut from the Story, but I Still Like It

"After the thunderstorm, my dad, my sister, and I took a walk in the electric air, and my dad told us about the sparkling stars that used to be. He pointed at the North Star, fixed in place and dim as dust, and he warned that soon it would be gone. He pointed a blaming finger toward the light from Denver, a pale swollen glow on the horizon."

 

From Wikipedia (an Occasional Series)

This, from the article on Human Language Origins:

"In 1861, historical linguist Max Müller published a list of speculative theories concerning the origins of spoken language:[36]

  • Bow-wow. The bow-wow or cuckoo theory, which Müller attributed to the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, saw early words as imitations of the cries of beasts and birds.

  • Pooh-pooh. The Pooh-Pooh theory saw the first words as emotional interjections and exclamations triggered by pain, pleasure, surprise, etc.

  • Ding-dong. Müller suggested what he called the Ding-Dong theory, which states that all things have a vibrating natural resonance, echoed somehow by man in his earliest words.

  • Yo-he-ho. The yo-he-ho theory claims language emerged from collective rhythmic labor, the attempt to synchronize muscular effort resulting in sounds such as heave alternating with sounds such as ho.

  • Ta-ta. This did not feature in Max Müller’s list, having been proposed in 1930 by Sir Richard Paget.[37] According to the ta-ta theory, humans made the earliest words by tongue movements that mimicked manual gestures, rendering them audible.

Most scholars today consider all such theories not so much wrong — they occasionally offer peripheral insights — but as comically naïve and irrelevant.[38][39] The problem with these theories is that they are so narrowly mechanistic. They assume that once our ancestors had stumbled upon the appropriate ingenious mechanism for linking sounds with meanings, language automatically evolved and changed

(Why did the salad come out so large? Oh well…) Another great writing time, albeit a little spendy, was to drop my daughter at her choir practice (nice digs, eh?), walk a mile to the tavern, eat a salad and a milkshake made with chocolate and stout, then take a long slow hour with the Irish whiskey and the iPad (all my work is on cloud) before walking back to the cathedral. It was a great writing time, with food and exercise built in, and so it shall be again this fall. The only hitch is convincing the girl she’s not ready to drive across town on her own.

Caffe Pallino, in Portland. Everything here was beautiful. Before it closed, this was my writing place for many years. On any Friday after work, if I could swing it, I would go. Or during my daughter’s vocal lessons every Wednesday night, I would go. It’s not that I had the space to myself, far from it, but I had the space in my mind to myself. I was present for the task.

The woman behind the counter, Megan, mixed a perfect negroni, and she always said “Cheers!” when she handed it to me.

Isaac Babel & Irony

I’m reading Babel’s stories, and much of their strength is in their directness and granular specificity. The imagery has a this-is-this quality to it. Hence the visceral feel. Isn’t that anti-ironic?

Paradoxically, Babel had to get these stories past the censors, while keeping alive the integrity of his independent voice for which we prize the stories today. I can’t believe this stuff was approved, but, apparently, such was the tweedle-dee nature of bureaucracy, even then. The censors had no sense of irony, right under their noses. Indeed, all the while, Babel was fucking the wife of the head of the secret police. Isn’t that rather the ultimate irony?

Discus.

My Writing Life Today

Morning pages: an hour on the Dandelion Cottage cut-up project just wasn’t enough. I have done a good job of keeping this early morning time dedicated to writing only. Still, I need more of it.

Reached out to my connections for a reading in SF. Also, reached out to a friend who works for a literary nonprofit that could be of help to me here in PDX. This is a substantial amount of time and effort. Promising…

Worked on AWP stuff. It’s only August. I know, right?

Downloaded two applications for writing festivals.

Hunted down back-issues of litmags.

Took a look at the new font proposals for the book cover. I like one of them very much.

I have always said that one should read and write in equal measure. Not today, apparently. I’m in the middle of Isaac Babel’s short stories and, also, Barry Lopez’s Resistance. And the there’s all those New Yorker back-issues… Feel like I should apologize to them all.

I want Sofia Coppola to direct a film of one of my stories. Can anyone out there hook us up?

I want Sofia Coppola to direct a film of one of my stories. Can anyone out there hook us up?

The copy editor’s proof is here!
I am about to be royally schooled! That’s okay. I love shoring up my grammar. As much as I take pride in my correctness, I always have more to learn, and I rarely repeat a mistake after it has been pointed out to me.

The copy editor’s proof is here!

I am about to be royally schooled! That’s okay. I love shoring up my grammar. As much as I take pride in my correctness, I always have more to learn, and I rarely repeat a mistake after it has been pointed out to me.