Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

Every so often Thistle pops up from the foxhole he has fashioned for himself. He halloos across the Canadian vastness that he will no longer read Sibum, as Sibum hardly concerns himself with anything that is relevant and has any bearing on the realities of the current moment. It is a peculiar sort of customer dissatisfaction on Thistle’s part, this alternating halloo-ing and going silent and coming up halloo-ing again. Perhaps all the fun for him is in the critique, that dolphin cry by the light of a west coast moon. I did not know such music was to be had in the writings of Comte, Durkheim, Spencer, Marx, but now I stand corrected. Mornings in Nikas, and I will speak of Greece to Alexandra the waitress. But she is no longer interested. The economy there that has gone belly up? The climate-related mini-cataclysms? There was a time when any mention of the above would have produced a cascade of tears thrumming on her cheeks. Screw the customer’s eggs, my heart is breaking. At a soiree that McGravitas gave on the occasion of a reading delivered by a representative of Canadian literary royalty, not only was I witness to a pun: Breakfast at Antiphanes, but I was on the receiving end of pushback on the part of a Windsorite. In respect to the pun, whether Antiphanes the comic poet or Antiphanes the tragedian was referenced, I can’t say,  McGravitas having in him a hot line to either option, not to mention all the melodrama in between and more: the man has been known to make music with a bicycle pump. As for the Windsorite, he happens to think the only honest city extant in the U.S.of A. is Detroit. It is a lot less dangerous a city in which to spend time than, say, Portland, Oregon. Bullets are bullets but the pretensions are something else again, and there is a lot less of the latter in Detroit. As the town is just over the river from Windsor, hanging out there explains a lot of what being a Windsorite is about, or that a Windsorite sensibility has more in common with yanks than with anglo-PCers stressed by yoga. I admired the man’s understated yet quite tangible vehemence. Whether or not there was any truth in what he had to say, the bravura emanating from his person was something other than an over-compensating obnoxiousness one encounters at a great many cultural venues north of a certain parallel: anything the yanks do badly we can do far worse. In any case, I have been asked to cut back on these posts as the management on this site cannot keep up with my spiritual freefall—By chance, I took in the flick Deer Hunter. I had yet to watch it beginning to end. It seemed to be holding up over the course of time, and I wondered if there was anything else in movieland that had captured something of those days any better? Even the Russian roulette scenes that used to bother me, and I am not sure why – they seemed appended somehow – now made sense. The marvellous wedding passage was part and parcel of a naivety and faith in things American that was nonetheless quite real; the other reality was equally real: how it is that life is cheap and nihilism has its attractions. The one does not necessarily cancel the other. Anyway, the madcap drinking and dancing of the wedding fest: utterly gone. Just plain gone, what was good about it all and what was bad, though the ‘bad’ in the years ensuing just kept finding new lows to hit, and it keeps finding them. Vis à vis worlds that disappear, here is a sentence that in the 30s was written in earnest and can now only be the object of bemusement, to wit: “It is an undeniable fact that everyone comes to a picture of The Last Supper in a peculiarly receptive mood, with a mind preattuned to the tragic situation and eager to participate in the religious sentiment.” Yes, how would the words quoted figure in Einstein’s notion of space-time? The sentence was written by my man Thomas Craven in his book quaintly titled Men of Art. Predictably enough, he had a thing about Leonardo da Vinci, even as he observed that the Mona Lisa’s smile was not that painter’s invention; the smile was the property of all the goddesses of archaic Greece and so forth and so on. No word, however, as to whether Mr Da Vinci, holding himself above the political and social turmoil of his time, was not somehow a moral monster by our lights, a mercenary hirable to the highest bidder? Sure, I can make you something lethal for your war machine, and failing that, paint you a pretty picture. The only thing that has changed is that science and art are no longer in lockstep with one another—London Lunar availed himself of a concert which featured music of the Weimar Republic – Weill and Heymann, for example; and though he could do without the oompahpah, he found some of the music ‘haunting’. It was music the brownshirts endeavoured to shut down, as they claimed to find it ‘decadent’. Even so, there was a lot of decadence about in the old fatherland. Did the chicken come before the egg? Did the decadence of the day guarantee that thugs would come and lark with such abandon? How broad a net does culpability cast? As per a BBC documentary on the art of Russia, one holds in mind some timeless icon of the ‘Merciful Mary’ as well as the spunk of the early constructivists, and then the supposed breakthrough in ‘art’ only opened a window to a dead-end, and Mayakovsky shot himself. (This is disputed in some quarters, raising the question that – what? – someone shot him?) Mr Craven might with some justice remark that art after Cezanne increasingly allowed itself to be sidelined by rather uninteresting and not terribly compelling eccentricities. Black squares, indeed. And then we had our little spate of idealism in the 60s and then, voilà, Peter Pan has to grow up and invent computers and casino capitalism, with or without little forays into Russian roulette—London Lunar also attended a concert of J Bieber in which the little prick kept us waiting for two hours—Just kidding. The man attended no such concert; the man only pulled my leg so as to ascertain whether I had nodded off. Alright then, just how difficult is Odi Barbare to read?