Tag Archives: Russian

selections from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

‘I think,’ said Anna, toying with the glove she had taken off, ‘I think . . . if there are as many minds as there are men, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’ Continue reading

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SAS 5

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sitting in the silence
of my cold and humid home—
i sense a growing guidance,
as Taja gnaws her bone:
i cannot make the world a beauteous place alone.

the truth’s we need each other
to fight the rising tyrants—
a sister and a brother
against an aimless violence—
time after time we’ll link our arms to new horizons. Continue reading

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SAS 4

Stranger seem they who stomach the return when once intimate with their zenith of pleasure they had jettisoned away. Strangers to this strangeness seem stranger still, for they have yet to cast off.

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the spider on the sill—
a-swinging on her wheel—
a weave among the rain—attempting to be still.

the black, obedient dog—
our souls in analog—
a sniffing, listening creature wandering through the fog.

the fruit upon the table—
glowing brightly—nothing sable—
all yellow, orange, red—bleeding citrus staples.

the books with humble words—
in inky flocks like birds—
unfurling wise old wings that rhyme in lines of thirds.

the icy drinks in glass—
just buoyant bubbles, grass—
dissolving artsy minds in poetry with mass.

apes lounging in the kitchen—
some buying—selling—visions—
across the marketplace of psycho-stellar fission.

why not end it now—i say—fuck it—
let’s leave the seventh stranded in a lonely couplet! Continue reading

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a perfect ten

in less than a hundred hours, i’ve watched ten movies.

Yol (Turkish for “The Road” or “The Way”) is a 1982 Yılmaz Güney film that portrays Turkey through the stories of five prisoners given a week’s home leave. probably not coincidentally, Güney himself was in prison in Turkey at the time of the film’s shooting; he somehow escaped (i guess that whole “prisoner on leave” thing don’t work so well) to Switzerland, where he edited the final piece together himself from the film negatives.

phew.

you think that’s a mindful? the film is set in the aftermath of the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, so you can imagine how happy the movie really is. unhappy accidents befall men w nothing, families see themselves disgraced and bloodied, families tear themselves asunder from the inside out… and a horse fucking collapses in a snowy valley to be left for the wolves. he isn’t the only one.

7/10 because it’s good to learn new appreciation for your own free life.

Black Panthers (later renamed Huey) is a 1968 Agnès Varda documentary and short film. It examines the Black Panther Party through the “Free Huey” rallies assembled in Oakland, CA while the party’s co-founder Huey P. Newton was held in court for the fatal shooting of Oakland Police Department officer John Frey.

the narrator (Agnès?) had a cute voice. Huey was charged w voluntary manslaughter. neither point matters much.

7/10 because a French girl only needed 30 minutes to teach me a lot about racial tensions in 60s USA.

The Order of Myths is a 2008 Margaret Brown documentary film examining the Mobile, AL Mardi Gras celebrations—the oldest in this country—through the separate mystic societies established and maintained by black and white groups, acknowledging the complex racial history of a city with a slaveholding past.

the black queen’s family literally came to Mobile on a slave ship owned by an ancestor of the white queen… in a time when the slave trade, though not slavery, was already prohibited! complex as fuck.

7/10 because i value edutainment glazed with a maddening final line.

Lions Love is a 1969 Agnès Varda experimental film and epochal look at America in 1968: a meditation on freedom, fantasy, decadence, and the Summer of Love going sour.

no but really it’s just a bunch of artsy fucks (mainly the three above, who are in a beautiful relationship, or something) speaking “poetry,” singing, dancing, humming and being cool in a fancy house in LA. sounds familiar? maybe it sounds like your life.

here are a few of my favorite quotes from the film:

“i hate all forms of entertainment, including living.”

“a sharp mind is the death of love.”

“let’s stop fucking and have a cosmic climax.”

3/10 because three is the perfect number.

The Pajama Game is a 1957 musical film based on the stage musical of the same name, in turn based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell. the principal cast of the Broadway musical repeated their roles for the movie, with the exception of Janis Paige, who was replaced by Doris Day.

Doris Day, or Babe Williams in the film, is super sexy, and all the men in the world (plus probably some women) want to stare at her ass (as shown above). one of the men, the leading dick above, is an especially huge douchebag to her, earning him the right to make out w her and probably squeeze her ass off-camera.

7/10 because if you can get me into a misogynistic musical, then anything is possible.

Phantom Love is a 2007 Nina Menkes surreal drama about a woman trapped inside herself.

when i read “surreal” in the synopsis before pressing play, i didn’t think about the deterioration of the English language. i didn’t think twice that “awesome” and “trippy” and “weird” and “crazy” and “intense” don’t mean anything anymore because everything is awesome, trippy, weird, crazy, and intense. and surreal, i guess. all life is surreal.

8/10 because this film is for real actually fucking surreal. sex scenes like a choo-choo train, ending like a liberation.

The Idle Class is a 1921 American silent film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. it was my first time w the Tramp.

this movie’s so old it doesn’t have a poster. it’s so silent that there’s music and the occasional screen-printed dialogue so we have some sort of inkling about what the hell is going on. whether you enjoy what’s going on or not, you’ll be laughing.

7/10 because just look at that face.

The Wasp Woman is a 1959 Roger Corman science fiction horror film.

the above image gives nothing and everything away. but really, it has the best plot line ever: “A cosmetics queen develops a youth formula from jelly taken from queen wasps. She fails to anticipate the typical hoary side-effects.” of course. naturally. totally did not rip off The Fly (released in 1958). at all.

5/10 because i liked it.

Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Portuguese for Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl) is a 2009 Portuguese film directed by Manoel de Oliveira.

a man falls stupidly in love w a young woman. two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back… this is how he nears her heart, his happiness. in the end, he discovers his stupidity, she is left as above.

7/10 because of well-framed shots, true mystery, and a harpist.

Offret (Swedish for The Sacrifice) is a 1986 film and the final from Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, who died shortly after completing it. here is the synopsis according to the Cannes website:

I wanted to show that one can resume life by restoring the union with oneself and by discovering a spiritual source. And to acquire this kind of moral autonomy, where ones ceases to consider solely the material values, where one escapes from being the subject article of experimentation between the hands of society- a way- among others- is having the capacity to offer oneself in sacrifice.

the shots in the movie, every single one of them a stunning portrait or landscape, are long. really really long. the opening, post-credits shot lasts nine minutes and twenty-six seconds, the longest in all of Tarkovsky’s work. in total, there are 115 shots in the entire film. the entire 149 minute film.

in the first shot, Alexander, the father, “plants” a dead tree by offering it support from rocks, and instructs his boy, throughout the movie referred to as “Little Man,” to water it every single day. a monk did this once, and the tree blossomed. in the final three shots, a beautiful house burns down, the boy begins to water the tree, and Maria, a maid, bicycles her windy way into the distance.

8/10 because, i mean, holy shit. holy fucking shit. Continue reading

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Frank O’Hara favorites

POEM

I watched an armory combing its bronze bricks
and in the sky there were glistening rails of milk.
Where had the swan gone, the one with the lame back?

Now mounting the steps
I enter my new home full
of grey radiators and glass
ashtrays full of wool.

Against the winter I must get a samovar
embroidered with basil leaves and Ukranian mottos
to the distant sound of wings, painfully anti-wind,

a little bit of the blue
summer air will come back
as the steam chuckles in
the monster’s steamy attack

and I’ll be happy here and happy there, full
of tea and tears. I don’t suppose I’ll ever get
to Italy, but I have the terrible tundra at least.

My new home will be full
of wood, roots and the like,
while I pace in a turtleneck
sweater, repairing my bike.

I watched the palisades shivering in the snow
of my face, which had grown preternaturally pure.
Once I destroyed a man’s idea of himself to have him.

If I’d had a samovar then
I’d have made him tea
and as hyacinths grow from
a pot he would love me

and my charming room of tea cosies full of dirt
which is why I must travel, to collect the leaves.
O my enormous piano, you are not like being outdoors

though it is cold and you
are made of fire and wood!
I lift your lid and the mountains
return, that I am good.

The stars blink like a hairnet that was dropped
on a seat and now it is lying in the alley behind
the theater where my play is echoed by dying voices.

I am really a woodcarver
and my words are love
which willfully parades in
its room, refusing to move.

1954


POEM

Instant coffee with slightly sour cream
in it, and a phone call to the beyond
which doesn’t seem to be coming any nearer.
“Ah daddy, I wanna stay drunk many days”
on the poetry of a new friend
my life held precariously in the seeing
hands of others, their and my impossibilities.
Is this love, now that the first love
has finally died, where there were no impossibilities?

1956


SONG

Is it dirty
does it look dirty
that’s what you think of in the city

does it just seem dirty
that’s what you think of in the city
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

someone comes along with a very bad character
he seems attractive. is he really. yes. very
he’s attractive as his character is bad. is it. yes

that’s what you think of in the city
run your finger along your no-moss mind
that’s not a thought that’s soot

and you take a lot of dirt off someone
is the character less bad. no. it improves constantly
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

1959


THE DAY LADY DIED

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
there days after the Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with
her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

1959


POEM

Wouldn’t it be funny
if The Finger had designed us
to shit just once a week?

all week long we’d get fatter
and fatter and then on Sunday morning
while everyone’s in church

ploop!

1959


YESTERDAY DOWN AT THE CANAL

You say that everything is very simple and interesting
it makes me feel very wistful, like reading a great
Russian novel does
I am terribly bored
sometimes it is like seeing a bad movie
other days, more often, it’s like having an acute disease
of the kidney
god knows it has nothing to do with the heart
nothing to do with people more interesting than myself
yak yak
that’s an amusing thought
how can anyone be more amusing than oneself
how can anyone fail to be
can i borrow your forty-five
I only need one bullet preferably silver
if you can’t be interesting at least you can be a legend
(but I hate all that crap)

1961 Continue reading

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