Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

A hot one out there in NDG. Morning. Nikas. Eddie the cook, back from his Cuban sojourn, says, “You know, a couple of weeks – you lie around the beach – you kick back – and then it’s back to work again. Well, man, that’s life.” It is as if Castro has nothing to do with anything, though Eddie would be the first to tell you that, as a Greek-Albanian, he was raised under a Communist star, so to speak. He has an awfully sanguine temperament; he loves his kids and presumably his wife; and when it comes to politics, you guessed it, politics is just politics—London Lunar wonders if the movie Boyhood, touted as the best movie ever made, is not vastly overrated. Are the lives of ‘kids’ in America that hollow? Leopardi suggests in Zibaldone that ‘ordinary’ people do not envy genius and enthusiasm because they tend to see these virtues as so much folly, and no one envies the folly of others, but instead feel compassion or disdain, and even ill will, such as toward people who are not willing to think like you, and in the way you believe they ought to think—Geez, I wonder what the man would have had to say for a certain small literary pond that is ostensibly a part of the known world? It is certainly the case that should they ever come to suspect these men of genius of being superior spirits, or if they get to know that that is how they are regarded, they will do all they can – base souls that they are and lovers of their own quiet lives, etc – to bring them down—Enter Irish Harpy with retinue (her hubby), and Signor Leopardi might now rest his case). “Eddie,” she squeals, approaching the man in his lair, which is the kitchen from which indifferent foodstuff emanates. She has a terrible crush on the cook who is inordinately handsome and who has an easy manner with people. —That pleasure which the moderns have found even in misfortune itself and in the feeling of being unfortunate, was something unknown to those who, following the instinct of nature that was not still entirely corrupted, ran straight toward happiness, seeing it not as a phantom but as something real, and found their delight where nature had first placed it, in good rather than bad fortune, which, when it affected them, they regarded as personal, not universal and inevitable. Nor was their desire for happiness moderated and repressed and weakened by reflection and philosophy—Leopardi, in Zilbadone. Yes, and I don’t know, but if we’re speaking of the ancients here, them there Roman stoics sure were a gloomy lot—In any case, I have been playing a fair amount of snooker of late, getting reacquainted with how merciless the game is, how ‘unforgiving’ – to quote one of my snooker mates who walked out of the hall one evening absolutely grim of countenance. How could it be that matter feels, suffers and despairs of its own nothingness? And then Leopardi goes on to suggest that to become sensible of this nothingness requires an operation of the mind independent from ‘reason’, as reason is the most material of all the faculties we possess. Which somehow brings us backto that damn elusive Pimpernel or effective cue stroke, let alone good and solid form in regards to most any function—Out in the Vale the other night (a perfect August night), we sat around on the cabin deck, the creek murmuring away beside us; and the ‘we’ would consist of Golden Girl and the Shillong Kid, the Moesian and the Countessa, MH and myself; and though we were all of us pleasantly sated with food and drink, much of the conversation had to do with the state of the world and the state of the arts, and the observations and the like were not terribly optimistic. I was asked if I had had a sour taste in my mouth way back when, in the Vietnam years, for instance, and if so, is it (such as it was) on a par with any sour taste I might now have? I answered that, back then, I was naïve enough to believe that Vietnam and all the rest of it however horrific, was not so much the product of treachery and profiteering and other short-term interests, as it was wrong-headedness and so, correctable. (The fact of what my parents and the rest of the world went through in the Second Great War, and the Cold War as well, was also a large part of how I viewed things, but were not necessarily impediments to my rosy-cheeked notion that we had emerged from the swamp for something.) The sour taste I have in my mouth now is due to the certain knowledge that all there is and will be is to divide and conquer and decimate and profit. And we will all of us get in line, as we have done so already. Whether or not trickle-down economics is a myth, trickle-down protocols are not. The stars above were popping up one by one; the night air was deeply and benignly calm. Affection and regard had us all by the short hairs, but I certainly had no answer for the pessimism my younger friends had in them, one of a much different quality than my own which, though it acknowledges the futility of the search for the perfect snooker stroke and the viability of the long poem and mastery of guitar (so far as such mastery applies to myself), at least my pessimism does not preclude having a go at it anyway. But by then I was beginning to drink myself into a cosmic stupor for the sheer pleasure of the wine and the company, and I had in mind that I was paying homage to Horace and Li Po and even to the odd Canadian poet not averse to the poetic possibilities of grog—P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, still Current President’s most staunchly intelligent defender, has been saying that you cannot say it often enough, should you be looking for who brought it all on: Bush 43. I cannot in polite company intimate what he has to say of those progressives who want of the president the world, but it certainly does not flatter them. And then there is what he has just written in respect to the coming Clinton-Romney presidential campaign, and it is worth reading. Some words written by a fellow named Henry Giroux (CounterPunch) have to do with how it is we have been put through the wringer of ‘disimagination’, meaning, I take it, that we have been schooled by too many disaster flicks and importuning blowback and so, are impervious to calamity in real time—Received: God’s Zoo, Marius Kociejowski, Carcanet Press. The long and short of the book is as follows: “The book depicts a journey through the world cultures of contemporary London.” Even so, there are a few passages in the book which pertain to Canada, for example: A joke has been going the rounds. Someone is asked, if he could choose the time and place of his dying, when and where it would be. Ottawa on a Sunday afternoon, he replies, because the transition from life to death would be imperceptible—