Archive for original poetry

20 Oct 2013: Stayin’ Alive

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 20, 2013 by spinoza1111

Fell into a semi-coma for a day or so, backup, “stayin’ alive” in the ruins. Will try to resume the daily workout today with ten min on the stairs today, back to morning workouts tomorrow. These seances  due, perhaps, to simple exhaustion.

Awoke to pain following the usual Sciatic Highway but it is under control, as far as it shall be.

The extraordinarily clumsy input method, where 10% of characters entered have me throwing my arm across my torso to reach an alternative, is like trying to hack one’s way thru the swamp like Indiana Jones.

When in 1983 old Peter (junglee Peter!) discovered that he could swing from my arm he did so as if he was Indiana Jones!!!, yelling the eponymous yell as Peter (junglee Peter!) did so.

It’s official, and rather discouraging. Some possible internal fracturing may have been found as the cancer spreads. Studying how this works since more and more is learned and staging changes. Ignoring “life expectancy” estimates since these are so unscientific and I have done  what viatical things have needed to be done. 

Boots on the table with this thing, pain, since Dr. wants me not to disturb the others In this more communal society. TM (transcendental meditation) works. Even for a neophyte like me it works. But, of course, with medication.

But wait, more than a year with time for friends, money just enough, just enough, for the city? Things as always swell.

More later.

“What a Gift, a Window”

What a gift, a window.
Giving on to something unwilled
But magnificent in its own way,
Promising the more in its own way as the Flight to Egypt shows
Mary, with modest downcast eyes, led by

Edward G. Nilges: Copyright 20 Oct 2013: Moral rights asserted

11 Oct 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 11, 2013 by spinoza1111

20 Minutes first thing (50 midrise steps), 150 warmup movements, with and without weights.

Sunday’s first agon, was the one in which I first crossed the “screaming barrier” where you bother other patients and have “10 over 10” pain, which breaks the measuring device of your own perception and therefore means that the “actual” pain could be higher than 10/10 having such values as 12/10 (with, possibly, part of the pain being caused by not-knowing if Aristotle is right and we long to know), taught me among other things that I may need these lessons at the endgame.

With possibly a lifespan of months and those months spent in increasing unawareness and no more godlike mobility.

Which exacerbates, does not reconcile the need to know. In Sunday’s agon I was still the observer, trying to store up “impressions” for my “journey” like Flashman’s blasted wife Elspeth in Madagascar or Boswell in Scotland…and making  a dog’s dinner of it, scupper my kidneys, else.

Which exacerbates and does not reconcile my need to be with my son and my granddaughters.

The Chorus begins, softly, with quiet cymbals, at first a confusion of voices and instruments later triumphant…

Pace we slow pace we soft
For ’tis known how well and oft
Philosophy comes a cropper at the solemn time of death

Pace we slow pace we soft
For ’tis known how well and oft
That proud man the cynosure of Nature
Is at Nature’s mercy at the limit beyond the Pillars of Hercules

Pace we slow pace we soft
For as Oedip knew so well
There’s none can tell
Whether beyond this life there’s reassurance
For he who has worn life’s many harsh robes of  ‘durance

28 Sep 2013: Things Fall Apart, the Center Cannot Hold

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 28, 2013 by spinoza1111

20 minute workout first thing. Only 126 steps using lowrise stepper since did not warm up properly and the fist 100 were painful in consequence. Duh, so warm up using supine aerobics first.

Plan for tomorrow: warm up, supine aerobics as needed to avoid todays problems. Go from a weightless supine warm up to one with weights to one sans weights with weights with 300 total motions, transitioning as needed. Then do 100 midrise steps. Then cool down supine with and then without weights. Shoot for 30 minutes.

I have fallen permanently behind on all my planned projects because of the demands of disease: things fall apart. I wonder what it’s like to flunk a MOOCC (Massively Online Open Courseware Course). Does one flunk “massively” with headlines all over the world, NILGES FLUNKS MODPO? For I definitely won’t be able to keep up with Al Filreis’ MOOCC based at Penn on Modern Poetry, owing to this “fell sergeant”, stage IV prostate.

My last effort was most of an essay on Emily Dickinson’s use of poetic levels (lexical in rhyme and scansion, grammatical and then in terms of meaning. But in the afternoon planned for writing I fell asleep.

I really hate being once again incomplete in justifying my demands for Recognition.

In seeking Recognition
As we always seem to do
Remember, ’tis Importunate:
To thine own Self be True.
And when the Self in search of wealth
Or what it always is in want, Approval,
Loses the thread behind the curtain
It must wait for rescue by a kitten.

Edward G. Nilges, with again profuse and by now insincere apologies to the Belle of Amherst

9 Sep 2013: Coursera che sera, sera

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2013 by spinoza1111

20 minutes first thing: 300 lowrise steps (a lot of pain at first), 100 movements without weights. Physio later today in all probability.

Have started Coursera MOOC (Massively Online Open Courseware): my trial class is Modern American Poetry. I shall need to manage expectations and not even try to overwhelm the class with my so-called brilliance: it is a reality distortion field that sucks the air out of the room, to use two metaphors (more precisely a simile and a metaphor); it creates resentment.

My main Coursera goal is to get a certificate for each class I take and this means quite a lot of boring work. It appears that the business model for Coursera is the crowd-sourcing of the testing of courseware so it can then be sold to universities and used in for-credit classes. Nothing is free, and the simultaneous benefit of a class and a piece of paper (that can be used to get jobs teaching creative writing in this class’ case) means I will get minimal access to poet and teacher Al Filreis at Penn.

I will be graded by my so-called peers and I am such a butt-awful snob that this could be a Coriolanus level disaster, meliorated only by my seeing it from far off this time. But I really hate it when the father-teacher abandons me to the siblings.

We start this week, however, with two poets I know and love: Emily Dickinson the introvert who like Rosalinde (As You Like It) doesn’t see the value of travel and Walt “Walt” Whitman who roars about and never met a man he didn’t like, who has wide sympathies. Emily would not use Facebook, Walt Whitman would love it. So while I love Emily the Ds poetry (many tough extravert guys strangely do) and while I can even pastiche it, Walt Whitman is for me in many ways more fundamental.

Meantime, my self-administered, pre-Coursera class in Kant, the ewige Kant class which like a constructive infinity or ABD PhD stretches out before me fading into the distance, since I haven’t yet, objectively speaking, understood the Transcendental deduction nor grokked the whole better than Heidegger or Strawson. What the heck, it’s fun.

My reading of Johansen by comparison as easy as pie as his magnificent chapters pass in review. I’m on Plato and shall be reading some dialogs as part of the “course”. I always get the sense when re-reading the Republic that it (philosophy) is all here in the sense that all remaining philosophy can be found in the Republic.

It is possible to overemphasize this. I was very glad to read Rawls and not Plato at that one class I was privileged to take at Princeton in political philosophy: yet Rawls is but a refinement of Plato in so many ways: the Rawlsian upper crust, whose income increase benefits the least well off with public libraries, public pools, and the Ginza mall in the poor community of Tin Shui Wai, can be considered a Guardian class. Indeed, I thought that the Yuppies were going to constitute a public-spirited Guardian caste. I was wrong.

The Guardians have left their posts.
Flit in and out of the desert temple,
Ravenous for soulmeat,
And brother feeds on brother,
A pile of books for sale with loose cigarettes, tobacco dust, chicken offal.

28 Aug 2013: “When LOVE, at portal to an Other’s fair”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 28, 2013 by spinoza1111

When LOVE, at portal to an Other’s fair
Perceives something awry, it doesn’t rush in
To where an Angel with bright bedabbl’d hair
Holds up the gleaming sword of hell and sin
“This other’s bright fair may not be for you”
“If in dull seize you crush its life and truth”
“And leaving you both chain’d in wilds of Zoo”
“And naught but regret and verifiable ruth”
“Which poor Fool you didn’t advantage”
“Now that nobody’s vouch’d your truth”
“Leaving you prey solitary to fear and rage”
“Like a loser, like Oswald, or like Edwin Booth.”
Yes: Love, when made wise through life’s hard annoy,
Stops you at the doorsmile lest your joy it destroy.

Edward G. Nilges 28 Aug 2013: copyright 2013 by Edward G. Nilges: moral rights asserted

26 Aug 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 26, 2013 by spinoza1111

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 11.24.16 AM

20 minute workout (down from planned 30 owing to very light nausea during step aerobics): 175 lowrise steps, 250 weight movements supine.


Rereading Paul Guyer on the core of the Critique: the Metaphysical Deduction (the Clue) and the Transcendental Deduction. The Metaphysical Deduction is, I am now more confident, based on apperception as judgement. “I am having a sensation of red” is among other things a judgement.

“Hey man, I’m havin’ a deja vu.” – Cheech and Chong

In the Transcendental Deduction Kant reuses the arguments of the Clue and adds further to show that all experience is formed by and comes in the form of one or more of the Categories of Quantity, Quality, Relation and Modality.

“Crime is Crime”

“Crime is crime is crime; it is not political.”

Margaret Thatcher’s and Ayn Rand’s pithy ravings often oversimplify ontologies (“there is no such thing as society” per the Thatch) and they stress the identity of concepts which also oversimplifies.

This is a great comfort to confused people.

Margaret Thatcher’s vaporings have the virtue of making the issues clear.

The Mad Woman said “crime is crime” when Bobby Sands and other IRA prisoners were striking for humane treatment in prison. The problem is that “crime” is not “crime”.

“Let’s go do some CRIMES.” “Yeah, let’s get sushi and NOT PAY.” – Repo Man

“Crime” in legal theory and legal reality requires two “things”: actus reus (act thing, or a bad act) and mens rea (mind thing, or a guilty mind). The problem with most political crimes is no clear mens rea. Why should anyone feel guilty for trying to secure something they believe in at risk of liberty, life and limb? George Washington didn’t feel guilty.

Mens rea is found in the Catholic theology of the mortal sin, which must be a grave matter with malign intent (mens rea) according to the priest I spoke with on my re-entry to practicing Catholicism.

I was concerned with the obsessive-compulsive nature of my Catholic practice in 1962, of which the grand finale was an internal police state or Inquisition…I actually proved to myself that any mortal sin, that was known to another, created the equivalent mortal sin of scandal to others, and the sin of scandal created another such sin, and so on to a grand Cantorian non-denumerable infinity.

A reading of Greek tragedy rescued me from this nonsense.

“Grave matter” means that a genuinely mortal sin might only occur in he Oval Office when the President decides to bomb another country, or in a corporate office whose CEO decides to close a plant and destroy a community. I no longer think they meant me in 1962, twenty years after the discovery of the death camps.

Now, terrorism itself deconstructs the mens rea. Both Franz Fanon and the film Battle of Algiers ask the question: can a revolutionary, pushed to terrorism by the injustice of a colonial regime, resort to terror with the mens rea of a just man? I don’t know the answer but very many people would change their negative answer (the answer of the breakfast-scoffing Papa who purples, saying, “terrorism is terrorism” in an echo of Thatcherite and Randroid self-identity) when they are strongly pro-Israel and the question becomes whether Israel can go extrajudicial, medievally so, on terrorism violence in Gaza.

And nearly all breakfast-scoffing Papas in the West would change their answer when the question became terrorism against the Nazis, the Thule of modern day debates over these issues.

We think (I think) that a decent chap should not feel guilty if his country is taken over by Nazi Space Monsters from the Planet Gorkumbo and given a new constitution defining rebellion as treason simpliciter.

Whereas if he sells his country out for cash we think he’s a douche-canoe who should have *mens rea*, a guilty mind.

Now this neglects the category of the psychotic who precisely does not have mens rea, and who fails to introspect or feel guilty (which Margaret Thatcher never did according to even sympathetic biographers). But let’s say the psychotic is a psychotic precisely because she doesn’t feel guilty.

Bobby Sands probably didn’t feel guilty for either the bombings or the strike in prison. You may think either or both actions were wrong but you cannot say that Sands agreed with you when he performed the actions (where we can analytically replace value-overloaded tests with value-free statements about who agrees with whom).

If we agree that Ireland should be independent after almost a thousand years of oppression then we don’t think Sands was psychotic. If on the other hand we think Ireland should be a part of a UK, if that’s more liberal (many thoughtful people have felt this way including John Stuart Mill) then we might think Sands was psychotic but we don’t have to. I for one don’t see why the world should have in all cases to fragment down to the smallest political units which places me on the side of some empires, but we’re examining how we think when we agree with someone’s political gestures.

Our “feelings”, actually settled common law about mens rea, are why it is a marker of democracy and decency that political prisoners be treated with what breakfast-scoffing Papas call “kid gloves”.

In the Nazi death camps, a distinction was made between political and nonpolitical prisoners but it flipped the usual polarity. Contrary to democratic practice, the criminal inmates were treated as superior to the politicals and placed in supervisory roles over them. Arguably the average IRA prisoner was treated worse by British coppers than good old Mick the recidivist bank robber.

It wouldn’t have cost Britain much to treat the IRA prisoners the same as “criminals”, perhaps a bit better, and, better treatment as compared to criminals with guilty minds might have led to an earlier settlement and saved many lives.

It certainly worked in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, previously thought to be a terrorist, was in the late stage of his imprisonment, “coddled” and treated better because the regime realized the Madiba’s mens rea.

The fall of Communism didn’t result in WWIII in large part because both sides, Communist and reformist, took their opponents’ mens rea seriously. Gorbachev dealt with the conservatives (the unreformed Communists) as if they were sincere, and they dealt with him honorably for the most part. Outside of Romania and Yugoslavia this avoided a lot of conflict.

However, capitalism, having destroyed Communism, adopts one of Stalinist Communism’s tenets, “objective guilt”. Your “objective guilt” may emerge at any time in tendencies to be a “wrecker”. Your intentions, comrade, don’t count. 12 hour days? Not relevant.

A stalinist-era diary reveals that an engineer expressed enthusiasm over building a dam only to be told, “we don’t want your enthusiasm”. You hear this crap in corporate “performance reviews”.

“Objective guilt” in particular and a brutalized “objectivity” in general is not much different than in the lower reaches of the all-powerful corporation, where one has to tread carefully when one isn’t graced by favor. You may be “objectively” found an enemy of your employer’s corporation whether you know it or not because it’s too costly (in almost all cases today) to follow traditional legal procedures or use traditional legal concepts such as mens rea. Cheapjack administrative law and a form of summary execution from the corporate point of view often follows, and the suspension or sacking.

The elimination from Western law of the controlling factor of good or on balance bad motivation takes away something the ordinary, apolitical and law-abiding citizen needs: the ability to know whether she’ll be going to jail. From an amoral economic standpoint, even criminals and prospective criminals need this knowledge, which allows them to “rationally” avoid bad acts. We all must be “rational”.

Mustn’t we.

Take a look at this video, viral in late 2011, of an ordinary bank customer being taken into custody, roughly, by a crowd of uniformed and non-uniformed cops and agents. The Citibank customer was not dressed as were the protestors for jail. She expected to be judged on her mind thing, her mens rea was neither that of a common criminal seeking to disrupt bank operations (perhaps to carry out a robbery: cf. THE BIG KNOCKOVER by Dashiell Hammett) NOR that of a guilty terrorist with naughty mens rea.

The Dashiell Hammett story is particularly interesting as a fiction which the reflective reader (that is, the reader who doesn’t regularly read policiers), will find informed by a unique tonal quality. The idea of a shadowy gang of organized criminals (a sort of Batman trope) is highly fictional to the point of weirdness to the non-policier addict because we rarely actually find such cohesiveness in “organized crime”.

If “easy Kant”, that is of the far more engaging and above all understandable chap who wrote on ethics and aesthetics is to be believed then the lack of trust found among thieves would make it difficult for organized crime to attain the level of the corporation. Many thoughtful people consider the corporation to be organized crime: das ist ein anders: it requires theorizing the social role of the corporation in which economic fear becomes the willingness to cooperate.

Back to the Citibank customer arrest video.

In a barbaric fashion the citizen can no longer “choose” (the right) shibboleths in speech and writing but must use them lest she fall under suspicion: in the corporation of being a wrecker “objectively” and therefore in an unappetizing way she may be arrested as in the video by an absurd number of operatives or in the corporation, led by Security to her car at any time. How strange: this rather resembles Marxist and not English or American jurisprudence.

Despite talk, now somewhat outdated, about “ambulance chasing lawyers”, “criminals” and the law’s delay, the reality is that the assault on mens rea has made traditional jurisprudence a luxury for the 99%, with traditional jurisprudence replaced by a circus featuring kangaroo courts and “victims rights” advocates dancing amidst burning tires. You cannot get affordable and competent legal representation in Hong Kong where I live.

cf. Leszek Kolakowski’s monumental study of the Main Currents of Marxism. Pure everyday damage (personal and environmental) extending up to psyche-wreckage at Beria’s level, at the level of Stalin’s nuclear family, and even in Koba himself explains the content of Stalinism and its perverted “objectivity”. Personal and environmental damage also explains corporate “objectivity”. The hell of a modern commute may explain corporate “objectivity”.

Of course, a commute can only partly explain anything. But a synecdoche such as the heat and insects in an unemployed engineer’s car (Falling Down, 1992) can represent everything by way of … the breaking point.

“Life Draws Us On”

Life draws us on, smiling,
As if it were a shopkeeper, showing us treasures,
Offering us bargains to be had for the bargaining,
Surprising us we who thought we had taken life’s measures,
Until we end up to our considerable amazement
A room next to the stairs that lead down into a dank and dark basement
Filled with mementoes from all the record of our days. Haze
And haze only is white and visible thru a grimy back-window
Across which, shadows flit.
But life draws us on, smiling.

Edward G. Nilges 26 August 2013. Copyright (c) 2013 Edward G. Nilges

Change Record

26 Aug 2013 Miscellaneous changes
26 Aug 2013 Poem added
26 Aug 2013 Image added

22 Aug 2013: “wee’l go to Supper i’th’ morning.”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 22, 2013 by spinoza1111

Shakespeare (2)

Workout after all: first thing, 6 AM, 20 minutes after only 3 hours of sleep since my eyes popped open at the usual time. 100 lowrise steps (down from last time owing to lack of sleep), 500 supine motions 250 with weights, and as a treat, 25 dance moves, second session this week up from 10, kept low to see if they cause hip or other pain. Cool! Will retire at 8:30 PM tonight.

Make no noise, make no noise, draw the Cur-taines:
So, so, wee’l go to Supper i’th’ morning.
And Ile go to bed at noone.

William Shakespeare, King Lear

ODE, in the Sonnet Form, for the Anti-Shakespearean Wight

According to British poet and critic Annie Martirosyan writing in Huffpost UK, what I have called “Shakespeare Denial” (the denial of the proven fact that the author of the plays and poems commonly thought to be William Shakespeare of Stratford was that wight) suffers a body blow in the failure of that foolish 2010 film Anonymous and in the new book that’s reviewed by Martirosyan so expertly. Here’s my “sonnet in form, mock funerary ode in feeling” for the “anti-Shakespearean wight”.

For even as a strong oak tree survives
The storm of winter and the summer rain
The harbinger of the winter of our lives
The cruelty of spring its promise and pain
Our Shakespeare he’s survived Devil’s night
The capering and gibbering of apes
When many a sad failed cashiered wight
Seeks “the bubble reputation” in rapes.
Rapes first of truth on the all-easy Web,
Then of the reputation of former friends
And as sanity and life doth through self-abuse ebb
His cause of destruction ends.
Carried by two paid mourners to his grave
Sigh a prayer for him Our Lord to save.

Grieving the Death of My Son Using the St Matthew Passion


Bach’s St Matthew Passion is a work of genius and here’s an excellent YouTube Samizdat version, probably I should not listen to it since it’s de minimis illegal and in listening to it one walks on holy ground. And does it cheapen the death of my son?

When my kind brother said
Your son is dead
Why did the sun keep shining?
And God said, Ed, give me a break tho’ your heart it is breaking
What on earth do you want Me to do
If it had started raining as if on cue
You’d complain too.
I was trying to make you feel good, you stupid bastard
Your life is long and your life is hard.

Edward G. Nilges 23 August 2013 Moral Rights asserted.

But if you do, you scamp, listen as the guilt ridden grown-ups of the main choir practically scream “Seht! Wohin? Auf unsre Schuld!” As they do, it’s as if a mob of kids crept giggling onto the stage and started singing and dancing for it’s where the Knaben-chor (boy’s choir) cuts in.

Change Record

23 Aug 2013 Altered “Rapes first of the truth on the all-easy Web,” to “Rapes first of truth on the all-easy Web,” to improve pentameter scansion

23 Aug 2013 Added St Matthew Passion link and poetry credit

23 Aug 2013 Added two last lines to second poem (“And God said”)