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25 November 2006

Two Poets, Same Challenge: Rethink Our Public Education System


Poets earning a living as professors are legion. But few take an active role in attempts to restructure the educational institution as such. W. B. Yeats was one of the rare 'educationist' poets. Here we touch briefly on two poets In Canada to offer recognition that both have bothered to wear these two hats.

Dennis Lee's role as an educator was part of what I would call utopian experimentation during the wave of counter-cultural upsurge in the 1960s. Since Lee was part of a specific collective movement at the time, let us describe in quotes that revived 'Rochdale' experiment.

Rochdale College
Co-operative housing experiment

Rochdale was the largest co-op residence in North America. Rochdale occupied an 18-story student residence at Bloor St. and Huron St. in Toronto. It was situated on the edges of the University of Toronto campus and near Yorkville, Canada's hippie haven in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Rochdale took its name from Rochdale, a town in north-west England, where the world's first cooperative society was established in the 1800s.

Rochdale College was the largest of more than 300 tuition-free universities in North America, and offered no structured courses, curriculum, exams, degrees, or traditional teaching faculty. It became a hot bed of free thought and radical idealism, in many ways resembling a tribal community.

Traditional professors were replaced by "Resource People" of various academic and non-academic backgrounds, who would lead informal discussion groups on a wide variety of subjects, as opposed to structured classes. A Resource Person of note was author Dennis Lee.

Students had complete freedom to develop their own learning process, much of which emerged from the shared community experience. The college included theatres for drama and film, and a ceramics studio. Students decided school policy and made their own evaluations.

Rochdale students were involved with various cultural institutions in Toronto such as Coach House Press, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Toronto Free Dance Theatre, and House of Anansi Press.

It was typical of the free universities not to award degrees and the University of Toronto did not offer degrees through Rochdale College, but anyone could purchase a B.A. by donating $25 to the college and answering a simple skill-testing question. An M.A. was $50, and the applicant could pick the question. A Ph.D. did not require any skill-testing question, and sold for $100.

The Rochdale application also described its "non-degree": "We are also offering Non-Degrees at comparable rates. A Non-B.A. is $25.00. Course duration is your choice; requirements are simple, we ask that you say something. A Non-M.A. is $50.00 for which we require you to say something logical. A Non-Ph.D. is $100.00; you will be required to say something useful."

Whether you believe that Rochdale was one of the early predictable debacles in 'free' education or not, Dennis Lee came out of the same period as a poet wearing laurels (for a long poem entirely consistent with the Rochdale philosophy). Lee's Civil Elegies and Other Poems was awarded the 1972 Governor General's Award
for Poetry

The poem has been reissued by House of Anansi.* You can read a multiple-page excerpt in The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English (1982); the edition Margaret Atwood compiled.

Civil Elegies
and Other Poems
64 pages
with French sleeves
ISBN: 0-88784-5576

An interesting and mainstream contrast to the Rochdale experiment in education is the ongoing, provincially funded and academically accredited 'non-experiments' in education (what 99% of the students must live with) within the mortar and brick of Canadian colleges (CEGEPs in Quebec) and major universities. David Solway is a prof in such realworld institutionalized set-up.

Of course, we are taking liberties and a major shortcut when we compare two Canadians educators simply because they happen to be poets and compare activity in education separated by three decades, one utopian, the other state sponsored. Also, Lee and Solway engage with students in different ways and are at liberty to wear one hat at work another while playing and go bare-headed as poets.

I am the one who simply wants to use a series of posts to contrast David Solway's views with what we quoted above about where Dennis Lee intervened (and, in truth, mostly because both are well known as contemporary Canadian poets).

In 1989 Solway authored "Education Lost, Reflections on Contemporary Pedagogic Practice." In 2006 his work "Sweet Poison to the Age's Tooth" brought the same theme up-to-date with a more personalised pitch based on classroom experience at John Abbott College of Montreal. "Sweet Poison" was reviewed in The Antigonish Review # 129 by Wilfred Cude.

Here is a quote within a quote from Cude. (We will take up some of the similarities and differences between what may be called the Lee view and Solway view in upcoming posts).


Education, Solway maintains, "was never meant to be efficient." On the contrary, "it was meant to be difficult, interesting, pleasurable, errant, prodigal in every respect, transgressive, personal, lengthy, demanding, and hospitable - but not efficient." In opposition to prevailing practice, he proposes intensive support for "the only viable scholastic constituency," the one consisting of "students, teachers, and support staff assisted by the necessary minimum of moderately paid administrative personnel."

At the heart of this constituency are dynamic teachers, persons possessing "talent, flexibility, sportiveness, erudition, and a fundamental generosity of the soul," persons capable of "the kind of teaching that can light an emulative flare in the pedagogical darkness of the contemporary classroom." And yet, Solway laments, such persons are precisely those being crushed into irrelevance by a system oblivious to an elemental truth of the enterprise: "there is always something mysterious, something unaccountable in the education of the mind that must be respected and cherished."

Enter the sickenpod, legions of him and her, ruinously funded educational theorists and administrators, bristling with "fixed schedules and ironclad syllabi and straitjacket lesson plans," ardent fetishists every one, proselytizers of "the idol of efficiency." Emanating benign officiousness, they bustle and blunder about, distorting and frustrating everything they profess to enhance. These are the tacticians of our brave new academic world, incessantly questing after measurable results, proliferating endless reams of paperwork to document the latest phantasma of the latest theory, sweeping even the most creative of teachers aside with an avalanche of mindless administrative bumph.

Nothing of this furthers genuine accomplishment in the classroom, and most (if not all) simply gets in the way. "One needs to be absolutely clear about this," Solway protests, crying out in italicized anguish: "neither administration nor technology as such has anything to do with the fundamental learning process." Yet in our system the paperwork keeps coming and coming . . .

Readers interested in David Solway's critique of Canadian poetry and poets should read Director's Cut. (In the essays he critiques nearly two-thirds of the entire English Canadian canon , whether or not the poets are still living! Canada is a young country.


Skimming through what Canadian poet David Solway wrote in 1989 about education (ISBN: 0-7744-0330-6), I was picking up bits and pieces about every theory of education right and left going back to Aristotle. It keeps striking me that Solway is on the opposite side compared to Canadian poet Dennis Lee, at least as far as their role and perspectives vis a vis the 1960s is concerned. (We will return to Lee's work on CPE.)

If the rest of Cheap Priceless Editionstill the end of time were but a footnote to Solway versus Lee I think it could still be very interesting and enriching (at least intellectually for me, certainly not financially, and for the readers . . well enough said). Then I would entitle the blog The Hippie versus The Educator: Spurious Time-Frames.

Let's keep that thought, as idiots say, and jump into a Baudelaire poem referenced by Solway as a text 'over analysed' by two heavy academic structuralists.

Solway doesn't say this, but the poem was always free of the shackles of the academics, so why worry? When, however, you stick with your studies and learn, as Solway would have the world turn, you could argue that, after the structuralists did their exigesis, postmodernists broke the bounderies of interpretation of language and liberated Baudelaire to scan freely.

A Link to the Prose at the end, not to the Poem

English translation and French original: Charles Baudelaire (1857)

Baudelaire does not look happy as scholars dissect his poem.

The Cats

Fervent lovers and austere scholars
Both love equally, in their mature season,
Powerful and gentle cats, the pride of the household,
Who, like the former, are easily chilled and, like the latter, sedentary.

Friends of science and fleshly delights,
They seek silence and the horror of the shadows;
Erebus would have made them his funereal chargers,
If they could have bowed their pride to servitude.

When dreaming they strike the noble poses
Of great sphinxes stretched out in the depths of solitude,
Who seem to slumber in a dream without end;

Their fecund loins are full of magical sparks,
And bits of gold, like a fine sand,
Sparkle faintly like stars in their mystical eyes.



Les amoureux fervents et les savants austères
Aiment également, dans leur mûre saison,
Les chats puissants et doux, orgueil de la maison,
Qui comme eux sont frileux et comme eux sédentaires.

Amis de la science et de la volupté,
Ils cherchent le silence et l'horreur des ténèbres;
L'Èrèbe les eût pris pour ses coursiers funèbres,
S'ils pouvaient au servage incliner leur fierté.
Ils prennent en songeant les nobles attitudes
Des grands sphinx allongés au fond des solitudes,
Qui semblent s'endormir dans un rêve sans fin;

Leurs reins féconds sont pleins d'étincelles magiques,
Et des parcelles d'or, ainsi qu'un sable fin,
Ètoilent vaguement leurs prunelles mystiques.


Lévi-Strauss and Jakobson’s close analysis of Les chats emphasizes the value of the text as an “absolute object”: this value is due to the complex modulations of its units, be they syntactic, rhetorical or, especially, phonic. [3] In a polemical response to the study of Les chats, [4] the American critic Michael Riffaterre called in question the validity of its authors’ approach, which is based on the delineation of four structures within the sonnet:

1. a tripartite division (quatrain I, quatrain II, sestet), defined by grammatical and metric models;

2. a bipartite division (octet vs. sestet);

3. a chiasma-like division, relating quatrain I to tercet II, and quatrain II to tercet I (in which the cats appear as objects and, respectively, subjects);

4. a system which envisages the sonnet as an open structure, made up of two sestets, separated by a distich.

Riffaterre does not belie the existence of these structures and interplays, but in the chapter “The Irrelevance of Grammar” of his essay he questions their equal contribution to the poetry of the text: not all linguistic symmetries are literarily active in the poem, as a purely “technical” reading may suggest.

Therefore the receiver of the poetic message should also be taken into account, and in that sense Riffaterre coins the term ”superreader”, denoting a fictitious person who should have the advantage of “screening pertinent structures and only pertinent structures”. (38) Riffaterre mentions that the “superreader” in this particular case is composed of:

Baudelaire himself

commentators of the poem, including Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss (when they “deviate from the method”)

a Larousse dictionary, other notes and other informants, and so forth . .

. . thereby he departs from pure structuralism in so far as he takes into consideration also the historical context of the work, and the response of his sensitive reader. However, his celebrated critique of Jakobson’s method is not lacking in arguments: “no grammatical analysis of a poem can give us more than the grammar of the poem”, he contends, and an evenhanded search for contrasts and parallelisms leads nowhere, while it betrays a mere “belief in the intrinsic explanatory worth of purely descriptive terms”.

Looking at structuralism in retrospect, whether in the interpretation of poetry, or in the study of narratives, or in the description of texts in general and of other cultural products, one cannot help observing how far it is, though not very remote in time, from the present-day skepticism towards anything stable and central in whatever kind of textual structure. In a postmodern “quantum universe”, as some thinkers define the contemporary world, a single determinate meaning appears to be impossible to attain, and the binary opposite, with the alleged identity of, and the absolute difference between, terms, is no longer a valid instrument for defining cultural reality, as hard-core structuralists would firmly believe.

Instead, the unstable, self-subverting structures of our post-Einsteinean reality are best described by concepts such as relativity, uncertainty, or discontinuity: the following chapter will deal precisely with this rupture in the evolution of the traditional logic of determinate binary structures.

From RADI SURDULESCU, Form, Structure, and Structuality in Critical Theory

23 November 2006

The Last Opium Den: Grit-Lit Criticism


Nick Tosches (author of The Opium Den)
© Anthony Voisin

This short book (a hand-sized hardback with luxury dust jacket) features a writer-as-cynic looking for something long-lost in a macho world. Yet all of us know that some of the best travel essays have been written by men who were androgynous to the point that they eventually underwent a sex-change operation to prove the point. My exception that proves our rule is James Morris who wrote a fine book on Trieste (I won't mention his name again, however, in this post).

I'm setting the scene to run the blurbs for two books on opium smoking. Nick Tosches, six years ago, authored "The Last Opium Den". I just read the book, which is now wider nor taller than my hand. All 74 pages were enjoyable in the same way many articles in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair or Gentleman's Quarterly are diverting and factual. Tosches highly praised the second book whose blub you'll see shortly, Opium Culture by Peter Lee, which I've never looked at.

One thing missing, a sort of contradiction in what I read between the lines and the spin of the Nick Tosche persona : opium is not a woman's sport. Opium is entirely a male thing or it is totally sex-less and a-hedonic. Only the pursuit of the drug, the chase, has testosterone running through it.

An opium den (which is the rarest thing on earth today according to the book) is and always was a filthy hovel where men lie down on little mats cheek by jowel and get dreamy and high on the drug. Yet the author never makes us aware of the male bond, the male environment, nor the subjugation of the women on the periphery of the opium culture. Smoking opium it seems, however, is entirely an escape from women the same way the bar room 'tavern culture' has historically been nearly everywhere in the West.

Tosches does, however, suggest that the term 'hip' may trace its roots to the opium den. I do not think he is stretching the point. Imagine the scene of views scores of spaced out smokers all lying down on their sides on the floor. Rising above this sea of a poorly lit bodies, all that sticks above the maze of mats and bodies are their hips. (Sorry this is the only image moment -- send me a link to one if you know of one.)

I think what Tosches leaves unmentioned is interesting because the macho spin of his book blurb suggests to me one of two routes: he is going on a quest -- with or without a core of self discovery. In fact I'm wrong, he may be out for conquest of others, but this seems far from the genre this books is slotted into. On still one more level I guessed wrong again: self identity in the grit-lit genre, as in "The Last Opium Den" is no more, sometimes less, than the persona set up exactly like the blurbs for the author. It is a more literate Marlboro Man. A Jack London or Hemmingway.

The apriori here is 'I'm not a prissy man. Now I'm going on a quest to discover the world. But I won't get all gushy and sentimental about it. I can take my knocks, just as long as I reach MY goal: To Find the Last Opium Den."

At least in a Brechtian lyric I seem to remember, Brecht (maybe it was Kurt Weil) added "Oh, don't ask why (bis) I tell you, I tell you, I tell you we must die." The reason this is pertinent is that in his quest for this opium experience, the author goes to all (all the principal southern) hotspots of both the Kmer Rouge and the Mekong battle zones of 1954 to 1974 and not once does he utter a single phrase about the Vietnam war nor the Pol Pot dictatorship. He hardly mentions civil war in Thailand going on today though he gets shot at when the driver of a motorcycle carrying him decides to run a military roadblock!

Enough said. Don't fret about the plot. The following blurb will give it all away. And I still want to find and read Peter Lee's book despite all these reservations.

Since this is a 'rip' from the publisher, I run the entire press release below about Nick Tosches and The Last Opium Den, complete with the header they provided:

Contact: Yelena Gitlin
Senior Publicist
212-674-5151 ext. 617

Everyone warns him that opium dens had gone the way of Model Ts and silent movies—relics of a bygone day. That opium, in its pure form, known as chandoo, was a dead drug. Undaunted, and driven by romantic visions of dark brocade curtains, velvet cushions of luxurious decadence, and hushed conversations with exotic concubines mingling with a pungent smoke, Nick Tosches goes in search of the elusive opium den. Traveling from Europe to Hong Kong to Cambodia, Tosches chronicles his quest in THE LAST OPIUM DEN (Bloomsbury, January 8, 2002, $12.95, cloth).

Tosches, a New Yorker, is not concerned by the fact that the last known opium den in Manhattan was raided and shut down in 1957. It was a second-floor tenement on Broome Street, at the northeastern edge of Chinatown, run by the tenant, a Chinese immigrant named Lau. Lau was 57 years old when the joint was raided and was hauled away along with a few old pipes and various paraphernalia, and about 10 ounces of opium. Assured by his sources that even in Asia, the opium dens had all vanished in the last two decades, Tosches still could not, or would not believe it, and left New York in search of the Big Smoke.

Picking his way through alleys where sex, murder, gold, guns or dope can be had for any price, Tosches is unable to find an opium den in Hong Kong. Why? Because there is no such thing. On to Bangkok, where teenage girls can be bought for a night for about four dollars, but still, no smoke. Bangkok, with its vast Chinatown, is said to have boasted the biggest opium den in the world, though not even a trace of the drug remains. In Cambodia, however, Tosches finds enlightenment in a palm frond hut on stilts, in the middle of a swamp, a place that can only be reached via moto. There, he is introduced to the pleasures of the ‘celestial drug.’ Of the experience, Tosches says ‘I am not going to rhapsodize here about opium. But I will say this: it is the perfect drug. There is nothing else like it.’

The smoking of opium, Tosches tells us, dates back to the Bronze Age. Recent archaeological discoveries in Cyprus have brought to light what very well may be opium pipes. Opium smoking was practiced in China in 1500, before that, it was ingested or taken as laudanum; the stuff was introduced to the Chinese by Arab traders in the year 400. The mixture of opium and wine is alluded to in Homer’s Odyssey, and the Greeks not only gave the poppy sap it’s name, but named a city after it (the Doric word for the opium poppy became mekon to the classical Greeks, who gave the town of Kyllene it’s olden name of Mekone. There, in a sanctuary of Aphrodite, an image of the goddess once stood with an apple in one hand, a poppy in the other).

Part travelogue, part history lesson, and part cultural meditation, THE LAST OPIUM DEN is as much an account of spiritual longing and lust of a time past as a quest for a lost drug. Tosches, hailed by the Boston Globe as ‘the grandmaster of grit lit,’ can write about the seedy drug underworld like no one else can, and spins out gorgeous and lucid prose, along with a completely original and unpredictable story.

Born in Newark and schooled in his father’s bar, Nick Tosches is the author of the acclaimed biographies of Dean Martin (Dino), Mafia financier Michele Sindona (Power on Earth), Sonny Liston (The Devil and Sonny Liston), and Jerry Lee Lewis (Hellfire); and of the novels Trinities and Cut Numbers. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

---------------------- OPIUM CULTURE

Now the other Opium book, the one highly touted by Tosches


In Opium Culture, Peter Lee fills this information gap with a fascinating narrative that covers every aspect in the art and craft of smoking opium. Beginning with a concise and colorful account of opium's history and how it came to be smoked for pleasure in China, Lee then delves into a detailed description of how the poppy is grown and harvested, how the raw sap is refined for smoking, how the exotic inventory of tools and paraphernalia are used to smoke opium the Chinese way, as well as the art and etiquette, the pharmacology and philosophy, and other essential aspects of this traditional Chinese custom. The text is highlighted throughout with interesting quotes by literary luminaries who smoked opium and studded with gems of long forgotten opium arcana.

--- A final remark: neither author connects the dots between the occupation of Afghanistan today and the continuing cultivattion of the poppy. (One caveat being that Lee may have somewhere without the reviewers mentioning the fact).

We can surmise that the opium from Afghanistan is refined not into the opium smoked by Tosches' contacts but goes to make morphine and heroin for the world market. Tosches, to his credit, mentions the Opium Wars waged by Britain against India in the 19th century in their imperialist scramble to monopolize and expand the trade for the greater profit of Great Britain.

22 November 2006

Editor's Epiphany


An unpublished writer wants me to read, critique and edit the MSS he thinks should be published. To his mind, it would be ideal that I do this gratis. Yet we have never met, certainly do not share membership in a writers' group and have only been in contact by email.

He knows -- he says it up front in his long, first and sales-man-like message -- that professional editors like to be paid for evaluating a manuscript and writing up an appraisal of publishing potential. What he doesn't seem to realise could fill a book: 1) that we are not literary agents; 2) we don't like to "participate as volunteers" in long-winded sessions as anybody practices a pitch to a publisher-editor; 3) it is distasteful to us to listen to a rant out of the blue against a colleague editor who follows the same code of ethics we subscribe to; 4) when we wear our editor hat we do not diss contemporary published authors, publishers or the entire professional army it takes to put out literary and popular fiction books. (We diss them outside work: as 'private' citizens, like other civilians and on our own time and even on our own blogs, thank you!) Gossip and bad-mouthing are not calling cards we hand out to strangers.

So I am very hesitant to continue any dialogue with any author who understands yet cannot respect the parameters listed above. It seems ever more clear to me that the writer who scrounges down in their first communiqués like I'm his buddy-buddy and share his prejudice against publishers practises is also a writer who is, to all intents and purposes trying to "low-ball me". He probably thinks I'm on my high horse. So knock down the profession and then I will be game to gladly join in his or her 'fun' of 'finally getting into print'. I'll do Mister Unrecognized author yeoman service for little or no monetary compensation.

It is not what's described above that has been an epiphany for me. My eyes have long been open on all these scores after being burned by wannabe authors.

Here is my epiphany: every author worth his salt must be willing to jump through one hoop to get the attention they think they deserve viz -- submit a short sample of his or her prose or poetry.

Wake up. All down the line, every person you are approaching as a writer is someone who will have to 'work' on the text. Maybe his is "only" at the first level of copy flow. Still, it is best to co-operate and help grease the wheels simply because every step aims toward publication and distribution. Repeat: have a sample ready for evaluation for all your initial introductions.

What I realised is that I have nothing against manuscripts over the transom (no one is OBLIGED to read them by deadlines set up by the author -- who becomes a third party to all negotiations by submitting unsolicited). Even here in/at my humble station as line editor, translator structural editor (whatever - sometimes I'm even a literary agent), in other words, from my post at the author's first or second stab at reaching a readership, even moi MUST and am OBLIGED to demand respect for my time by invoking the requirement that said author provide a short sample of writing sans PITCH and without enclosing some winning package of verbose self promotion.

People who approach me with a short pitch get my attention not just because we are playing the old game. They are setting me to work on the next step wherein I describe my services and fees, supply my list of clients as references, and include a resumé. Then the ball is back again in the writer's court. Do you want to set up a meeting? Are you willing to pay me an advance? (You find out who I am, I find out who you are.)

I am far from rigid, yet I detest listening face-to-face or on the phone (or just plowing through an email) where the subject is only about how great a person my interlocator is who is, after all, someone I just met for the first time. Get my attention more agreeably, and I might look over a short sample of your writing. Then we can talk turkey -- what I can do for you.

(Odd though it is. By starting out on the wrong foot, displays of insecurity through needless self-promotion put the editor even more firmly in the drivers seat. That is a shame in a relationship requiring collaboration and mutual respect.)

I honestly dislike asking people to jump through hoops! Nor do I view life as a mere matter of earning a living by hopping and skipping like that. Maybe, I have faced a bad alternative -- the spinning of my tires and an author's in slick mud. My question to writers seeking editorial or agent services (albeit paid services): What are a series of self-congratulatory ads worth as introductions, what sort of communication line are you setting up staying in constant-pitch mode?

21 November 2006

O.J. Jams --- This just in (via) Bookninja


November 20, 2006
Simpson Book Cancelled

Murdoch has pulled the plug on the OJ book. No word on whether he's pulling the plug on that walking train-wreck Regan. Her moral sense is on life-support already, perhaps it's time. I'd call it an act of mercy if you canned her, Rupert. You'd be putting her out of our misery.
-- bookninja

BLOG ADDICTS will be browsing on this cancellation of a book title that generated huge quantities of BUZZ.

The editor-publisher Regan (who still has to answer to her boss) will now be scrambling for a new title that will sell even better than O. J. Simpson's post-violent slap at his own 'thang.' Watch for another controversial title pushed by Regan, the publisher who just backed down "under popular pressure".


An articulate editor and skilled writer from Toronto commented:

Franklin Carter says:
November 20th, 2006 at 7:49 pm
The Toronto Star sez: “Sales for If I Did It had been strong, but not sensational. It cracked the top 20 of last weekend, but by Monday afternoon, at the time its cancellation was announced, the book had fallen to No. 51.”

So bookstores sold a few copies. I suppose these “rarities” will become collectors’ items. They might still fetch a few bucks on the open market.

I wonder if O.J. autographed any of them . .




Lewis was Anglo-American, Ezra Pound and T S Eliot were American, W B Yeats and James Joyce were Irish and Gaudier-Brzeska was French.

----------------------- From FluxEuropa (which ceased active publication in 2003) thanks to a link picked up at my favorite (this week at least) blogziner site: Spike/Splinter UK
. . . An outline of the significance of the artist and writer, Wyndham Lewis, the leading figure of the artistic and literary movement known as Vorticism.

" PERCY WYNDHAM LEWIS was born in 1882 on a yacht off Nova Scotia of an American father and English mother. This beginning is significant. Lewis was to become a key figure of the English intellectual, artistic and literary avant-garde of the first half of the twentieth century, and few of this talented circle were English. Lewis was Anglo-American, Ezra Pound and T S Eliot were American, W B Yeats and James Joyce were Irish and Gaudier-Brzeska was French.

. . . more . . .

"Vorticist prose, of which Lewis's Nietzschean novel Tarr was the apotheosis, certainly followed Imagism in its verbal economy. It was terse and was characterised by clear visual images. Lewis did not enter, empathetically, into the emotions of his characters, but viewed them externally, as a painter or sculptor."

. . . more . . .

Although Lewis was at times his own worst enemy, his greatest mistake was to write a sympathetic account of German National-Socialism (Hitler, 1931) in which he naively treated Hitler as someone who would bring peace to Europe. He soon rejected this view and later wrote the ironically entitled book, The Jews, Are They Human? (1939), and The Hitler Cult (1939), but the damage to his career had been done.

In 1939 he went to North America (Windsor, Ontario) in the hope of escaping the unpopularity he had gained in England. This merely swapped infamy for anonymity and he was forced to scrape along in a hand-to-mouth existence."

. . . . . . . a note

Blogaulaire (your CPE host here) is reading the literary journal put out in Montreal in the 1950s and realeased as an edited, photo-duped paperback by Vehicle Press in 1983: "CIV /n" (ISBN: 0909890415) Among the original editors of CIV /n, there was quite a bit of support for Ezra Pound, especially from Louis Dudek and Anna Azzulo. Yes, I do see imagist devices in the Montreal group's oeuvre, including Irving Layton's and Leonard Cohen's verse and prose poems. But "Vorticism"? Wouldn't that be hard to define?

We'll be digging around to find that "Tarr" novel . . .

20 November 2006

Pricing Pynchon : Used Not Battered


The latest Thomas Pynchon novel Against the Day premieres in new-book bookstores in hardcover today

" . . . three bookstores believe Thomas Pynchon deserves one and are staying open past midnight on Monday, November 20, to sell his first novel in nine years, Against the Day (Penguin Press, $35)."

Trio Plan Midnight Events for Pynchon
by Kevin Howell, PW Daily -- 11/17/2006

Well yours truly has been reading Pynchon over the years, mostly long after the titles became renowned, and wanted to see using the book-search engine AddAll what my solid, Good Condition, 1967 paperback copy of The Crying of Lot 49 ( a mere 138-page pocketbook from Bantam ) could probably fetch if I sold it on the online market. (Put it online at any one of the Mega-Vendor Used Books websites that is, which I won't do however and in any case.)

Below are the search results. (My conclusion is that I could reasonably ask US $16.) This 40-year-old paperback is not hard to find online. For $1, plus 12 times that in shipping costs, you could receive a reprint from the 1970s or 1980s in the mails.)

Our search for "Title: The Crying of Lot 49 ..Author: Pynchon ..Keyword: Bantam .." brought up 41 title(s).

With 16 of them priced below US $ 10.50 (various conditions, year, printing and, as always, a variety of handling and shipping rates (sometimes restricted to within the US).

Our search for "Title: The Crying of Lot 49 ..Author: Pynchon ..Keyword: Bantam, 1967 .." brought up 6 title(s).

Priced from US $10.80 to $28.68 (hence mine is "worth" US $16).

19 November 2006

COCLA in New Digs -- Ville St. Laurent


COCLA (Corporation Culturelle Latino-Américaine de l'Amitié) 514 748-0796
NEW ADDRESS: 1357 St. Louis

From de l'Eglise COCLA moved to Rue St. Louis in late October, 2006

The United Church had recently sold the former building that had been home to COCLA for more than two decades.

So COCLA bought this house on Rue St. Louis. The United Church "rents" office space from COCLA in the new place.

Coming by the metro?


Get off one stop before the terminus of the line. Exit at the back of the train (southern end) at Metro du College.

The street is right there, clearly marked just behind the du College exit.

Turn left on St. Louis and COCLA is in the house on your left only a few doors down from the back of the du College entryway on Oimet.

If you see houses like THIS,
you are WAY to the north
probably at the wrong exit
of du College metro station.

Walk back toward the south until you see the new condos and narrow streets BEHIND the subway exits. This is NOT like the old neighbourhod -- but it will still be plenty of fun settling in.

The old gang is still there . . .

Squeezed into our "cocina" a little more tightly . . .

Gone forever (sigh!) the spacious auditorium plus the downstairs activity centre and (Sigh!) that old-style kitchen for serving a dining hall full of friends . . .

And YET, and STILL
COCLA survives to
Serve good meals . . .

Chatting away and joking alot . . and in Spanish, of course . .

And preparing the truck and the "garage" and the storage areas for winter and a full schedule of food distribution, counselling, celebration and everything we lived for before.

The telephone number hasn't changed, so give Roy, Yolanda and Dulio a call and come early every Friday to join "la brigada de lechuga."

La jornada acabó con una comida entre todos los participantes. ...

Many local COCLA activities & celebrations with Greater Montreal's populous Latin community are scheduled throughout 2006 - 2007.

The Festival Latino (held 18 November 2006 to benefit COCLA), plus more to come, was at Le Centre des loisirs de Saint-Laurent, 1375, rue Grenet, in Ville St. Laurent (Montréal).