Carne Levare

Know Other People

Archive for April, 2010

Introduction to Poetry

Posted by Remy on April 29, 2010

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

-Billy Collins

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You Must Read Poetry

Posted by Remy on April 17, 2010

when any mortal(even the most odd)

can justify the ways of man to God
i’ll think it strange that normal mortals can

not justify the ways of God to man

-E.E. Cummings, poem 59 from 95 Poems

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10 Things You Should Know

Posted by Remy on April 14, 2010

about JRR Tolkien.

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So This is How You Live in the Present : a poetry review

Posted by Remy on April 10, 2010

a review of Modern Life by Mathea Harvey

Matthea Harvey has always empathized with the objective world, introducing emotions to the world of objects. We were taught by her first book to pity the bathtub’s forced embrace of the human form, in her second book she blurred humanity and machinery into a sad little breathing machine. In Modern Life she expands on her thesis, showing us the strange world made stranger still by the world itself, a sort of “taxidermist’s version of the world” as she says in one poem, nature in an unnatural way. There’s a playful aspect to the poems, one side is that she is making the world strange, with ham-flowers and girls sprouting electrical outlets ( or –from the cover– dominoes with blackberries rather than dots), but the other side of it is admitting that much of the strangeness, some of the more horrifying bits of modern life, is our own doing.

She organizes her long series of poems, “The Future of Terror” and “The Terror of the Future” in a sort of abecedaria, using the words “future” and “terror” as guideposts in getting her vocabulary, achieving a sort of sprung rhythm. “The Future of Terror” is militaristic and male while “The Terror of the Future” is more personal, female, but both are ill-at-ease in the current state of things. In the center of the book is a series of seven poems about Robo-boy. These poems, far from being a fanciful sci-fi digression, exemplify her empathy for objects as she goes about making a robot more alive than the people who populate her poems, people who have “glass-faces” and “slot-machine mouths” who get their words from teleprompters rather than as Robo-boy who learns about the word “subjectivity” by creating art. This also introduces her fascination with duality, of halving, of making one like the other or snipping this world from that in a sort of poetic shadowbox, even centaur-ing drawbridges and strawberries inventing strawbridges and drawberries.

You read Matthea Harvey not to help you understand the world, but to feel how strange it is, similar to the reasons for riding a teeter-totter. And like any partner in that noble endeavor she too will lean down on her end and leave you stranded in the air. The kicking and screaming will do you no good, but afterwards, when the wooziness is gone, you feel that there was something awfully fun in being there.


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In Defense of the Platypus

Posted by Remy on April 8, 2010

With nothing but the straightest face
created He the platypus,
but when He made a joke for them,
(“They’ll get a kick out of this” He said)
and made the monkeys humanlike,
mankind missed the jest,
and through colossal dot to dots
connected man to all the rest;
amoebas and fleas were easy jumps
once past whales, camels, and crocodiles,
and all the while the platypus,
in disgust, was written off.
An aberration or joke at best.
But He’ll insist that though we’ll list
together man, monkey, and mice
in a giant convoluted tree,
that the platypus will but be a good design
(considering terrain and His eternal plan).
Time will come when we’ll see
that monkeys monkey us with their hands,
laughing at our foolishness.
Apes, orangutans, and all -they’ll roll their eyes
and waddle behind out backs
while we make science of knock-knock jokes.


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You Must Read Poetry

Posted by Remy on April 5, 2010

“O Bible chopped and crucified
in hymns we hear but do not read,
none of the milder subtleties
of grace or art will sweeten these
stiff quatrains shovelled out of four-square-
they sing of peace, and preach despair;
yet they gave darkness some control,
and left a loophole for the soul.”

from Waking Early Sunday Morning by Robert Lowell

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Out of Education

Posted by Remy on April 2, 2010

In the ancient world, education was only for the citizen; slaves were excluded. Not only was it considered a waste of resources, but educating slaves could only mean trouble. Imagine how an oppressed group of slaves, who could be beaten and killed without trial, would respond to reading Hector’s words from the Iliad:

“Come, now for attack! We’ll set all this to rights,
someday, if Zeus will ever let us raise
the winebowl of freedom high in our halls,
high to the gods of cloud and sky who live forever–
once we drive these Argives geared for battle out of Troy”

Or their response to the historian Thucydides when he said:

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”

Rome lived in fear of a slave revolt and for good reason, the slave population toward the end of the first century has been estimated to be between thirty and forty percent of the population. The Spartans were outnumbered by their slaves seven to one. Julius Caesar alone brought back half a million slaves from Gaul. The revolts, when they did occur, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

With the rise of Christianity the world was changed. Rather than the oppression of the weak by the strong, servitude became the guiding principle. Friedrich Nietzsche, that great militant atheist, called Christianity the triumph of the slave’s morality, a morality not determined by the whims of the strong. Education was no longer banned from slaves.

Read the rest of this entry »

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