When patterns are broken, new worlds can emerge.
– Tuli Kupferberg
This is entry #728… if you are still with me, you might of picked up on some trends and modalities that I am running with. I think that the concept of Bohemia is more than just a take on artist in France, Beats in NY and San Francisco in the 50′s… Hipsters around the world in the 60′s, 70′s and so on… more than Burners and Ravers. It is an accumulation of the Underground streams running for hundreds if not thousands of years, that tie us back to pre-neolithic sensibilities. Bohemia is about Love primarily, Love, Sex, Dope, Art as some would say. The basic drives. Feel good about it, and be the creature you really are….
The idea of ‘Scene’ seemed to disappear in the last few years… Tuli Kupferberg said in an interview:
“But I felt that they had a heritage with the bohemians (the Beats). The term comes from 12th century University of Paris. The craziest students came from Bohemia and they gave them this name. There’s this old tradition of living outside of the mores of society. Until the bourgeois revolution, most artists lived on the patronage of the ruling class. LA VIE DE BOHEME, the libetto for that opera, tells you what was happening then in the 18th century. So that’s a 150 year old tradition that’s still going on. It used to be linked to geography with places like New York, San Francisco, Munich, Paris. But now, with the Internet, you could be crazy, wild, free and self-destructive anywhere you want. But hopefully, there’s still communities of people out there. Utopian colonies who are just friends.”
This speaks to me of the Inner Bohemia, the Bohemia of the Heart. Not a phrase bandied about much, but still, it is a state, and to me, maybe equivalent to a state of grace. An inner connectiveness, a community united by the heart, the mind, the soul.
So, Utopian Communities…. indeed. Whether it is in a TAZ, or a neighborhood where the shared ideals creates a Commons… more on this later? What are your visions of a Utopia? Drop me a line…
On The Menu:
Peters’ Video Feed
The Poetry of Petr Borkovec
Peter’s Video Feed:
DCD – American Dreaming…
Lisa Gerrard – Come Tenderness
Encho was a famous storyteller. His tales of love stirred the hearts of his listeners. When he narrated a story of war, it was as if the listeners themselves were on the field of battle.
One day Encho met Yamaoka Tesshu, a layman who had almost embraced masterhood in Zen. “I understand,” said Yamaoka, “you are the best storyteller in our land and that you make people cry or laugh at will. Tell me my favorite story of the Peach Boy. When I was a little tot I used to sleep beside my mother, and she often related this legend. In the middle of the story I would fall asleep. Tell it to me just as my mother did.”
Encho dared not attempt to do this. He requested time to study. Several months later he went to Yamaoka and said: “Please give me the opportunity to tell you the story.”
“Some other day,” answered Yamaoka.
Encho was keenly disappointed. He studied further and tried again. Yamaoka rejected him many times. When Encho would start to talk Yamaoka would stop him, saying: “You are not yet like my mother.”
It took Encho five years to be able to tell Yamaoka the legend as his mother had told it to him.
In this way, Yamaoka imparted Zen to Encho.
The First Principle
When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words “The First Principle”. The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a mastepiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.
When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which the workmen made the large carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticise his master’s work.
“That is not good,” he told Kosen after his first effort.
“How is this one?”
“Poor. Worse than before,” pronounced the pupil.
Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.
Then when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: “Now this is my chance to escape his keen eye,” and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: “The First Principle.”
“A masterpiece,” pronounced the pupil.
The Poetry of Petr Borkovec
Commuter Train, 0.05 a.m.
AZURE FORMICA, fluorescent tubes –
the heavens open, floods of light: Father
with adult daughter, ermine, me, the odour
of sodden clothes, a few rows down some troops.
The whistle. Lamps streak by. Then dark. The windows
hold our gaunt and yellowed faces. The soldiers
deal out cards on their laps. A woman, close,
her swaying earrings sputa of bright jasper.
Father and daughter can’t doze off to sleep
remembering the heart which bleeds and sears
on the drunk’s palm at the tiny platform shop.
She’s willowy and tall. Her program slips clean
off her lap towards the drunk – for Cymbeline.
She stoops in white, as she would to a kiss.
The Light Dragged Off
THE LIGHT DRAGGED off and rain began to pour.
Hell glinted through the pavements here and there.
Like Lada’s pictures, with tender and kind hearts,
the devils set to laying out their hoards.
Above the lamps, three late birds homeward bound.
Above the listless, sad and drawn-out standpoint
of the evening city, of the windows of each bookshop,
of the pubs going at full tilt and all lit up,
of the fountain with a naked marble lad
consoling a small carp in a marble lota
(the nose his father’s, the eyes his mother gave him…
how gaily coins glint at the water’s bottom),
of the weakening rain and the devils with their secrets.
We stood there and lit two sweet cigarettes.
It’s nothing, love. You’re shaking like a feather.
Hold me. Let’s go. We will sleep together.
WE ROSE. SEPTEMBER. Long house shadow.
Dust everywhere, the radio’s drone.
Sun on the bedframe’s chrome.
You reached for your cigarettes.
The stairwell dreaming still beneath us,
the curtains slowly stirring, flowing down.
The empty sink was like a silver bust
and the seconds always flowing and flown
past warmth, its touch. Time at a standstill,
and all things aswell, unmoored from their roles
the sunlight on the bedframe stalled,
the hook, the picture on the wall.
I saw your cigarette’s fresh smoke,
the books beside us in a stack,
and the duvet’s fish and fowl and flowers
all slipped and slid down to the floor
where they cooled in blue geometry.
Dust on the wardrobe, dust on the aria.
The window’s coloured block going nowhere.
Outside, no plans were hatched in shadows,
and the towel, lying idle by the chair,
had the same story as us.
The twenty-third pavilion,
The wall lit with October sun –
A bright memorial plaque for summer –
The same one Fet and Bunin have somewhere.
SLIGHT DÉJÀ VU –
some ornaments familiar;
around me came spring air
like screens pulled to.
Chilled to the bone. The trees
sent memory ranging back.
The sun pressed on my cheek
like iron, a piece of steel.
Hands over eyes, each finger
like a braid of rubies.
The heat’s a heavy figure
placed upon the earth.
As though someone had pressed
my back and hid the sun –
cold and blue the vein runs
through a memory, its dry hand.
I go with sick-bed gait
about this April morning;
inclosure, classic gate,
wind and light, their blows
against white walls, verandahs
of the numbered pavilions,
metallic noise through curtains
flies out the window – they
are like a sign or way
for someone else, not me.
As if about a white bed,
body twisted and awry,
with chamber-pot of urine,
amber, settled, cold,
I go about the morning.
Not I – two eyes unbodied.
Machine-like, quick, the nurse
makes up the sheets and covers.
The bedstead’s metal glows
like sunlight on the clouds.
Linoleum with patterns.
Like spring air in the gardens
four listless blank screens hold
a body which grows cold.
Petr Borkovec (b. 1970) is the most prominent of the young generation of Czech poets who emerged after 1989. His first book of poems was published in 1990, and since then he has published four further collections, most recently, Polní práce [Field Work] (1998). He is also a noted translator of Russian poetry, and recently he has been working on translations of Sophocles and Æschylus. Borkovec lives in Cernosice, a town to the southwest of Prague.