Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Sight by Philip Larkin


First Sight
Philip Larkin

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

The living dead

From Jonathan Gold's interview in the Believer:

JG: There is an octopus intelligence. I don’t know what it is, and nobody really knows what it is, but it definitely exists. Their nervous system is totally different. You’ve had sannakji? The tentacles will climb up the chopsticks. The suckers will adhere to your mouth. You figure that it’s like chickens with their heads cut off, but then you read about the decentralized nervous system, how they may have “killed it” by ramming a knife through its brain, but that it doesn’t have a brain like we do. Suddenly, what was a fun, gimmicky thing becomes horrifying.

Desperate purchases

I took the train back to Milan yesterday so I have better Internet again. I took my first real shower in a month (at Podere Campriano all the water is heated by the wood-burning caldaia, so you really can't linger). Then I set out into Milan and bought the following:

1. 500 grams of Sterzing-Vipiteno coffee yogurt. I considered whether it would be better to buy three different flavors of the 150-gram cups. But I'm sick of things that finish just when they start! Anyways, I ate all 500 grams with great speed in the little sunny piazza by Porta Ticinese, so dazed that the yogurt was all gone in an instant.

2. An extra-large wool-blend nubby gray sweater at Muji. I've never bought anything extra-large in my life. My very large clothes are either one-size-fits-all, or from the men's section. I didn't need the sweater, but I had to have it, especially because I'm planning on washing all my winter clothes tomorrow. Clothes that fit properly often make me feel swollen and bursting-at-the-seams.

3. A ring with wings on it at H&M. I'm still not sure why I bought it. It was euros 4.95. I suspect it contains heavy metals. I took it off before my hosts in Milan could see it.

4. A tiny pink bottle of "Gardenia" perfume at H&M. It cost even less than the ring. I imagine it's made out of petroleum and windex, or some other such thing. I sprayed it all over my scarf, trying to figure out if the smell was nauseating. (Jury's still out. I can't even tell if the smell is clean or not.) The pink glaze on the bottle cracked like plastic and came off onto my hands, especially around the bottle's neck, which was covered with some oily non-perfume liquid that I could not rub away.

This summer I bought a similarly non-elite perfume at a Cogne pharmacy. The perfume (actually it was just called "body spray" or something) was meant for men and smelled like vetiver. A bit like for Proust in that high-ceilinged bedroom, vetiver fills me with a vague dreading unease. The H&M perfume also gives me a nervous, upset feeling. (I tend to get that feeling from every perfume, though.) But when I'm on a farm where money is so carefully distributed that clothes are washed with baking soda, there's nothing I want more than some sweet spray to douse my hay-prickling clothing.
Governor's School West, 2007

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some camera mistakes, Lygra, 2012

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

La fine del mondo

I read in the Italian January National Geographic about a new concept for a spacecraft that can travel to other stars. Les Johnson, a NASA physicist, has proposed a laser-propelled, unmanned ship with a huge canopy of lightweight reflective material (for the laser to bounce off of). The pros of this concept are: The technology to make it already exist, and it doesn't have combustible parts (other starship ideas involve atomic bombs for propulsion, etc). The cons are that it would take centuries to reach a star (but that's not so bad) and that the canopy would have to be roughly as large as Mississippi and Alabama together, or a little smaller than Italy (260,000 km squared).

There's also an image of a gigantic tubular spacecraft for thousands of humans, who would take a trip to a different star that would last generations. The spacecraft would rotate to make gravity. It makes me sad that I won't live to see whether it works out or not.

Bergen, Norway, 2012

In other news, my favorite Italian idiom might be "la fine del mondo," as in, "questa torta e' la fine del mondo." It means literally "the end of the world," but in that context it means "extremely delicious." They usually use it for food.

Also I finished Two Girls, Fat and Thin which was, along with Dennis Cooper's Closer, basically la fine del mondo for me. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Limited internet access for next three weeks

I'm doing some lambing on a remote farm in Italy (Podere Campriano) so I can't really update for the next month. Or maybe text posts! We'll see.

Today I took a 6 hour train trip because it was 30 euros cheaper than the 3 hour version. I think it was worth the time. Arriving at the farm, I saw a fox limping along the road.