Friday, May 19, 2017

Anne Trubek, 'The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting' (Part II)

Anne Trubek, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Trubek next takes up the Greeks and Romans. Socrates was a proponent of the spoken word, positing that the written word was the lazy one's out. However, the written word creates inherent safeguards by recording ideas and statements for posterity, not dependent on the oral tradition to keep them moving on to following generations. President Donald J. Trump is no Socrates, but he, too, prefers the spoken word, or the short Twitter burst, over extended, sophisticated written thought. This is not a compliment. 

On the other hand, there's no reason to prefer one mode of communication over the other, especially when "recording angels" such as digital or tape recorders can capture spoken communication, including gestures and interjections. 

Trubek's main argument seems to be that change is inevitable -- get used to it. 

Whereas Socrates' spoken argument depends on intense social interaction in the flesh, written argument does not. Indeed, Trubek agrees on this point: in "oral cultures . . . to think deeply and complexly requires one to talk to someone else." (page 24). Again, I believe that we can do both. I do enjoy interacting with someone else via the spoken word, but I enjoy equally interacting with someone else, or in reflection, in solitude, via the written word.

Trubek next proceeds through the development of alphabets; the dearth of Greek written records due to the fragility of the materials upon which they wrote -- unless copied for posterity by those with access to them; and the Roman shaping of letters that we use (at least the capital letters) in English (and in many other languages) today. (page 29). 

What's particularly astonishing about this fact is that, if you come across a Roman monument from 2000 years ago, you can read and understand it rather easily, especially if you have a Latin dictionary handy. 

Trubek takes a look at the remains of graffiti excavated at Pompeii and in Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey) as well as ink-on-wood writings in England (pages 30-31). "The Romans were also more interested in writing down their histories, rather than orally transmitting them like the Greeks." (page 33). And: "We owe much of what we know about Roman events to scribes." (page 34). In my capacity as historian and chronicler, I approve of this message. We also need to be able to access and share this stuff, which is where full-scale transcription and digitization comes in.

The Romans began turning out books, even among the greater populace. More than 2000 years ago, "bookstores had been established in Rome and other cities such as Carthage, Lyon, and Brindisi, selling both new and used books. The first [known] X-rated and pulp books, as well as fine literary works, were published. And the wealthy started collecting the new technology into libraries." (pages 35-36).

Next: the so-called Middle Ages, or in Big Donnie's phrasing, "the Medieval Times."  

Today's Rune: Gateway

Monday, May 15, 2017

Anne Trubek, 'The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting' (Part I)

Anne Trubek, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 

I. Trubek seems ambivalent about the loss of the ability to write, pointing out that for most of human existence, no one could write; that even from the time of the first written historical records, most people still could neither read nor write; and that, indeed, people in vast numbers didn’t learn how to read and write until the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a mere blip in the long record.

I disagree, however, with this seeming ambivalence. To me, it’s important to keep some sort of redundancy, a manual analog back-up system. As recent events illustrate, people in the contemporary world are at the mercy of a fragile interconnected electronic envelope subjected to electricity failures and cyber-attacks.

Keeping the knowledge and skill of writing is a practical back-up. Having hand-cranked word processors might be another option – and there’s always the manual typewriter, though such "writing machines" still need ink, ribbons and maintenance. Finally, we need to maintain archives and special collections, much as seed vaults are maintained in case of global catastrophe, at least to retain representative samples.

To me, cursive lettering is a key component in freedom, providing a certain measure of self-autonomy. If you include reading with writing, Frederick Douglass knew this. Upon reflection, anyone must understand why both reading and writing are important. 

President Donald Trump provides a cautionary tale as to why we don’t merely want to tweet or text our way through life, while never once, apparently, reading a book, not even the ones that were, based on his shambolic ramblings, ghost-written on his behalf.

II. Trubek’s contemplation of the written word initially takes the reader from the Sumerian system of cuneiform through Egyptian scripts, and of the latter, not just hieroglyphs but hieratic and demotic scripts, too.

Before cuneiform, there was proto-writing, such as: “Cave paintings, tally sticks, and memory boards” (page 4).  By most accounts, cuneiform – wedge writing on clay tablets, originated somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 B.C. (5,000 to 5,500 years ago). As other empires and civilizations displaced or absorbed Sumer’s literary heritage, cuneiform ceased to be used or even understood. Only in the nineteenth century was the code cracked again for modern times (pages 6-7), translatable into currently used languages.

Because they it was baked into hard, hand-held tablets, cuneiform is well-preserved (unlike, say, most email or electronic texts of this century).

Cuneiform was utilized for administrative purposes, record-keeping and so on, but eventually came to be used for other purposes.

One of the most interesting aspects of Sumer described by Trubek was the use of personal seals: “All Sumerians, even the illiterate [which was most of the population], carried seals: small, cylindrical pieces of stone (not clay) upon which were carved, intaglio-style [think engraving], raised words and images. Seals had holes through them” for wearing like necklaces, and they performed the same duty as the modern signature or autograph (pages 10-11).
If you'd like to try your hand at creating a monogram in cuneiform, the Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of archaeology and Anthropology) has a translation tool via this link. That's mine pictured above. "Joe Sumer," as Professor Jack Sasson used to joke back in Chapel Hill.  

In any case, cuneiform helped spawn fifteen languages (page 11).

At the same time or just after Sumer began developing cuneiform, Egyptian civilization took to writing also, and kept at it for a long time: “hieroglyphics . . . was in use for three and a half millennia, much longer than the Roman alphabet has survived thus far” (page 14). Papyrus was the main writing surface, though elaborate inscriptions were also made on walls and monuments.

In Egypt, writing served the top of the social pyramid, and so what we can read of it now is derived only from the top, the ultra-elites (page 21). As an aside, archaeology helps close the gap in understanding, but even in death the richest tend to have gotten the obelisks and poshest burial sites. 

The ancient Egyptians were so weird that, unlike the Sumerians, their writing did not fire up new languages elsewhere (page 14).

Thanks to the Penn Museum, you can turn tour name into hieroglyphs. "Write like an Egyptian" here.
[To be continued].  

Today's Rune: Partnership. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Mystic Chords of Memory: Teachers

I. Back then there was a marvelous history teacher named Ruth Cunningham Bishop. First we knew her as Ms. Cunningham, then as Dr. Bishop. She was always inspiring us to learn by employing a playful sense of things. I took as many classes with her as I could, learning a lot about the British Empire, World War I, China and “Contemporary Issues.”

Dr. Bishop was studying, it seems, British India and colonialism. She had lived in India and had many tales to relate. It’s because of her willingness to share some of her personal thoughts with us that her imparted wisdom stuck with me. More on these in a future post, no doubt.

As far as history and culture goes, Dr. Bishop explained the Indian origin of the word “thug” – “deceiver” in Hindi. These were organized crime groups that operated for centuries, from the 1200s well into the 1800s. Some were Muslims and some Hindu followers of the Goddess Kali, a whirlwind deity of chaos, destruction and, oddly, motherhood. Thugs enjoyed infiltrating and waylaying merchants and travelers with stealth and surprise. Dr. Bishop would occasionally sing a little ditty about Kali, based on a song composed in 1912 but sung by many vocalists ever since: “My Melancholy Baby.” A play on words ("My Melon-Kali Baby"), a way to get us to pay attention and to remember. Obviously this method worked, at least for me.
Of the crisis leading up to World War One, Dr. Bishop composed and sang a variation on the “Oscar Meyer Wiener song:”

I wish I were in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
That is where I truly wish to be
‘Cause if I controlled that Bosnia-Herzegovina
Everyone would be in love with me

(Sounds a lot like Vladimir Putin today, eh?)

Later, in her Chinese history class, when she came to the communist revolution, she had us learn all about “Mousey Tongue” – Mao-tse-tung, aka Mao Zedong (1893-1976). Which reminds me that Beijing used to be called, in the West, Peking. 

It’s no surprise in retrospect that Dr. Bishop came to operate a cabaret in Chapel Hill. We drove by there once, but weren’t old enough to be able to get in. The mystery of it remains intact.
II. Another teacher of a different sort (figuratively, not literally a teacher) was Mely. I asked her out. She was a year older than I was, a significant stretch for a teenager who hadn't even had a driver's license for long. It was agreed that I'd pick her up at her house, where she lived with her parents. I had to borrow my parents' Jeep Wagoneer for the outing. It was a rather comical date. 

Mely (Melisandre, an unusual name -- at least before Game of Thrones) lived in Duke Park, which was not very far from where I lived with my family on Gregson Street in Trinity Park, as these "districts" of Durham were called. Duke Park was even called North Durham, but when I look at a map now, they're only about a mile and a half apart. Still, Duke Park felt like an alien place to me, hidden in wooded, hilly terrain and slightly menacing. I didn't know the territory.

When I got to her house, Mely opened the door, but there, too, were her parents. Her father, Ed, had a gruff, scary presence. He was a big deal, a White House correspondent who had covered Nixon, and he'd been a pilot in World War II in the Asia Pacific, surviving terrible things. Luckily Betty, a literary critic and general columnist at the Durham Morning Herald (where Ed also worked), was nicer. Thanks to Ed, though, I was glad to get the hell out of there as fast as I could.

Mely suggested we go to a dive bar downtown off West Main, across Albemarle Street from the Ivy Room and the Cosmo Room. Soon we were chatting it up when an old African American man came by and began singing the Nat King Cole version of "Mona Lisa:"

"So like the lady with the mystic smile . . . 
Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep
They just lie there and they die there . . ."

After this eerie little ditty, he left. The rest of the evening must remain shrouded in quietude, though for no particular reason. Maybe I've been watching too many classic Japanese films lately. 

That dive bar space is still there, but now it's called James Joyce Irish Pub. Passing strange, if you ask me.

Fast-forward eight or nine years. I finished college over in Chapel Hill and worked for a small publishing company that was eventually snapped up by a bigger one. Thanks to this turn of events, I applied for a job as library clerk at Perkins Library in Durham, at Duke University. And surprisingly, I was hired.

The very next person hired in the same capacity as a library clerk, in a different department, in the same library was -- perhaps you guessed it -- Mely. We officially begin working there on the very same day. 

That, my friends, is far more than passing strange. Kismet, synchronicity, what? 

I liked library work so much that I went back to Chapel Hill to get an MSLS, wrapping it up in a couple years with an internship at Duke, where I did preservation work on League of Nations documents that culminated in a display about the Great War and its aftermath. I can thank Dr. Bishop again for the head start on this kind of thing.

I'd worked about three years at Perkins, coming out as a library assistant and then a professional librarian. 

When I headed for London for another library internship and then Philadelphia for another graduate degree (surprise, in history), Mely, who had also been promoted to library assistant, was still at Perkins Library. But, for the final kicker, last I heard from former co-workers was that she also eventually moved out of state and then became a professional librarian herself! 

As Paul Simon put it in a 1986 song, "These are the days of miracle and wonder." They really are, pretty much always. Indeed, as the late great Chuck Berry phrased it back in 1964, "'C'est la vie,' say the old folks, 'it goes to show you never can tell.'"

Today's Rune: Strength. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

'Tokyo: A Biography' (2016). From the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake to Fukushima

Stephen Mansfield, Tokyo: A Biography. Disasters, Destruction and Renewal: The Story of an Indomitable City (Tokyo: Tuttle, 2016).

Imperial Japan took control of all of Korea in 1910, exploiting its resources. After the 1923 earthquake and its resultant fires, Korean workers in Japan became targets of Japanese nationalists (Japan First types). "Koreans were convenient scapegoats, and were easily sought out in slums where they lived by members of the police force, the notorious Black Dragon Society, military sports clubs, or anyone with a personal grudge or score to settle . . . lacking rational judgement or orderly deportment, [they] dragged Koreans from their homes and workplaces and hacked them to death. Others were strung up on telegraph poles or boiled alive in drums. Those who failed impromptu linguistic tests in Japanese were sentenced in mock trials and beheaded."  (Tokyo, pages 107-108). Also targeted were socialists, feminists, and other social reformers. 

By the 1930s, with dissenting voices suppressed or crushed, Japan as a whole became increasingly militaristic and jingoistic; its leadership became increasingly reckless. 

When Japanese forces seized Nanjing/Nanking, China, in December, 1937, they began a wholesale slaughter of its inhabitants -- killing as many as 300,000 civilians. 

The writer Iris Shun-Ru Chang (1968-2004), committed suicide seven years after completing The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997) and other works. She had been severely depressed, and no wonder why.
When the Japanese and Anglo-American Empires violently collided into each other, the scope of the Asia-Pacific War widened and deepened. More and more people were consumed, by the millions. 

Yet there was still a flicker of dissent among some Japanese. "Not everyone was keen to make the sacrifice and go to the front line. Prohibitions on tattooing were introduced during the war as a response to an increasing number of young men seeking ways to avoid conscription. People wearing tattoos were considered noncomformists who might spread dissent among the military ranks." (Tokyo, pages 126-127).  

Naturally, many writers and artists were dubious of the war and Japanese militarization, too. Nagai Kafu wrote: "However cruel and arbitrary the methods of the government may be, they cannot restrain the imagination, While there is life, there will be freedom." (Quoted in Tokyo, page 127). 

But like the Japanese military, the American military, too, became increasingly vicious. By early 1945, "the Americans [were] now bent on causing mass casualties to civilian populations as they later would with Hiroshima and Nagasaki," exploding napalm to "extract a maximum death toll. . . the first of America's high-tech massacres" and "slaughter bombings." (Tokyo, page 130).

After Japan's surrender, the American Occupation began. In immediate response, the Relaxation and Amusement Association (RAA) was formed to "entertain" American military personnel with "comfort stations" and brothels, which were also given euphemisms such as "Tea Shop Sanitation" and "Café Associations." These were large-scale operations with some 70,000 organized "comfort women" and tens of thousands of freelancing or yakuza-(gangster)-run "panpan girls." For the many gay servicemen, there were dansho and a quick blooming of gay bars. (Tokyo, pages 140-141). Very little of this seems to have made its way into celebrations of "America's Greatest Generation" -- or family histories. For most, apparently, what happened in Tokyo stayed in Tokyo.

Galloping through the Cold War, Godzilla movies came out amid understandable atomic jitters (Hiroshima and Nagasaki being very close in the rear-view mirror); and Japan's economy took off, thanks in part to servicing American military efforts in Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, and while showcasing the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. By the 1980s, Japan's economy was swaggering, at least until the next bust. Though Americans back in the USA feared the pointed competition from Japanese companies, they were all the while buying more Japanese cars and electronics.  

In 1995, Tokyo was again traumatized, this time by the Doomsday Cult Aum Shinrikyo / "Supreme Truth," which used sarin nerve gas to attack the subway system. This was the same kind of gas recently used in Syria to attack Syrian villagers. In the Tokyo attack, 5,000 people were sickened and twelve died outright. (Tokyo, page 181).

Jumping to March 11, 2011, the catastrophic Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami caused an accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, a horrendous and toxic radiation event still ongoing in 2017. Fukushima is situated about 150 miles (200+ kilometers) from Tokyo. (Tokyo, page 183).

Arriving at today, May 5, 2017, Fukushima is still a dangerous and daunting problem, but Tokyo is also under threat from a possible North Korean missile attack. For Tokyo, the fun never stops! 

Today's Rune: Breakthrough. 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

'The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection' (2017)

Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection (New York: Plume, 2017; first published in the UK in 2016). Photography by Susan Bell.

"Hygge (pronounced 'hoo-gah') is a quality of presence and an experience of belonging and togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted, and sheltered. . ." Page [7]. (In the UK version, the pronunciation is rendered "HYOO-guh"). 

The author may not have had this example in mind, but consider Tony Soprano, main character from The Sopranos. To ease the stress that comes with being a mob boss, he spends quality time with a favored goomar, enjoys a bottle of wine, savors a good meal. One of his favorite lines is, "Take it easy." And he's not even Danish!

Most of the ideas and examples in The Book of Hygge are low-key. They are the opposite of feeling harried. rushed, annoyed, irritated, high-strung, anxious and alienated. 

Of anti-hygge matters, consider advertisements: they play on fears or fantasies, no different than the manipulative methods of snake oil salesmanship of bygone days. Treat an ailment -- that may not even really exist -- with miracle potions. Take a pill to ease the constipation caused by your opioid addiction! Drive this shiny car or rugged truck and feel both dominant and free. Speed through a pristine wilderness and become one with nature, even as you trample it under your wheels.  See the big sporting event where one team will flatten another and make you feel tribalized. Buy insurance! Invest! Go to an artificial seaside resort and be treated like royalty, even if you are a serf. Go on a cruise. Rush to the drive-thru of a hundred fast-food franchises. And whatever you do, hurry! Hurry! Limited time only! Coupons! Discounts! Hurry! Limited quantities! Going out of business sale!  Give money! Hurry! Hurry! Before it's "too late!"

Hygge is the opposite of everything in the previous paragraph. It is neither fear nor fantasy, but rather much simpler. 

The Book of Hygge is peppered with illustrative quotations. I like this one in particular, from William Morris, an influential 19th century Arts & Crafts proponent:  "The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."  (Page 84). That's it! There's nothing more deadening than lack of interest, indifference, and lack of curiosity.

Hyggering is a groovy way of grokking. With Germans, think Gemütlichkeit. In French, there's the more all-encompassing concept of joie de vivre.  
The Book of Hygge gives some flavor of this ideal Danish way of life, and certainly it's easy to see how different the Danish approach is from idealized American materialism and "freedom."  Take care of each other. Quality over quantity. "Less is more" (from Robert Browning, page 152, but also an architectural philosophy developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe).  

Another quip from William Morris: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." (Page 157). I'm down with that. This syncs well with the principles of feng shui and with Marie Kondo's KonMari Method of asking of all material things: "Does this spark joy?"  If not, forget-about-it. 

Today's Rune: Fertility. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

'Tokyo: A Biography' (2016). Earthquakes and Crow Goblins

Stephen Mansfield, Tokyo: A Biography. Disasters, Destruction and Renewal: The Story of an Indomitable City (Tokyo: Tuttle, 2016). Pictured above is the same author's Japans's Master Gardens: Lessons in Space and Environment (Tokyo: Tuttle, 2012). 

In the mid-nineteenth century, "[Edo/Tokyo] may have had fewer open spaces and public gardens than the cities of Europe or the New World, but flowers and greenery remained an important part of . . . life. Entranceways often featured a bonsai or potted tree, while the narrow borders of the house served to display morning glories, water plants, and calabashes." (Tokyo, page 57). 
"July 8, 1853, saw the arrival of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry's kurofune ('black ships'), as the Japanese called the four American steam-powered vessels that sailed into Edo Bay." And thus began the more than 160-year hate-love relationship between the USA and Japan, still ongoing as of this post. Pictured above: a Japanese depiction of Commodore Perry as some sort of kerasu-tengu, or "crow goblin."  (See Tokyo, page 63).

Japan responded as if aliens had landed from another plant. Eventually the shogunate -- the shogun system that had lasted 268 years -- was overturned and the emperor elevated. But in the meantime: "Liberated by the prevailing instabilities, mobs congregated in Edo and other large cities, stirring hysteria by carrying Shinto images, cavorting half-naked in the streets, looting the homes of the wealthy, engaging in frenzied public sex and quasi-religious delirium, shouting out 'Ei-janai ka!' (Why not? Who cares?)."  (Tokyo, page 64). 

There were rice riots, cholera epidemics, earthquakes, fires and floods. More was to come. But first, in 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo (compare Constantinople and Istanbul in Turkey). 
Between the first arrival of the Americans and their black ships and the early 20th century, Japan took up Western technology and industrialization with a fervor, so much so that by 1905 Japan military forces defeated Russian Imperial forces in the Russo-Japanese War, which started with a surprise attack -- only 37 years before Pearl Harbor. 

Then, on September 1, 1923, a 7.9 magnitude quake and resultant fires devastated the area in and around Tokyo. "Approximately 400,00 buildings were destroyed, and some 63 percent of Tokyo's population was made homeless." (Tokyo, page 105). More than 100,000 people perished. "From the hills of Ueno Park, the imperial capital resembled an extinct city." (Tokyo, page 106).  

But from 1924 until 1943, Tokyo would rise again, until 東京大空襲 -- the Night of the Black Snow -- on March 9-10, 1945, when American bombers devastated the city once again.

Today's Rune: Fertility.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tosin Otitoju: 'Lovebirds' (2016)

I. Lovebirds. Poems by Tosin Otitoju (2016) in three sections. This is a new book, Tosin’s eighth. Format:

A TRUE STORY (20 poems)
TWO ANGRY BIRDS (10 poems)

From my perspective as a reader, these are some of the vivid tropes and themes in  Lovebirds: technology; social media; business; mirrors; gods; angels; God; marriage; luck.

Permeating Lovebirds, there is a refined testimony of ancient, enduring human themes mixed with contemporary technology and ongoing concerns.

A few poetic samples from longer poems:

“Wishes and Horses”
Everything points to a need for a merger
To save on duplicating auras on twitter . . .

It’s good to be wise, better to be lucky.

(pages 23-24).

I see in you a blur
 instead of your face a ghost
   question-marks, answers,
     hypnotizing laughs.

. . . black-magic or test-the-spirits
       angels here with us.

(pages 26-27).

“Sometimes You Need”
Misery loves company
And gravity needs distance.

(page 42).

“When the Boat Hit the Rocks”
There comes a point
when you start to yearn
for the simple complexity
of city life.

(page 43).

II. Questions & Answers. Q = me. A = Tosin. 

Q: What is it about mirrors?

A: Mirrors for some weird reason. I'd actually meant to do a whole collection of poems either directly about mirrors or indirectly by writing a poem and an opposite or something like that. I later decided on Love and a couple of other collections to come...mirrors are more try to hang a commercial project on mirrors and...I don't know, Nigerians know love and maybe have less time for you to explain that the topic is mirrors - nobody wants the headache. If you want more people to love you(r work), try Arithmetic over Differential Equations. :)

Q: Lovebirds is timeless, but also of the contemporary tech world. What kind of impact does tech have on love and social relationships?

A: In this collection I hoped to do love and romance, but I'm delighted that it also had an interesting setting, namely, tech. So it's romantic, but it's robotic.

Tech is a thing masculine and robot-like, which would seem to be the opposite of romantic. It's physics, chemistry, planets, science, feedback amplification, bits/bytes/packets/cyber, twitter.

By the way, Janelle Monáe did androids too in her music, a whole album titled The ArchAndroid, and that's specifically why I had the guts to choose "Android Love" for the title of the poem I placed first. I think of this as the "overture" introducing the opera, the robot opera.

Q: How does business figure into Lovebirds?  And other systems?

A: Another example of the hard-edged - calculations and robots - in what should be soft and romantic. I mean, in the realm of love, who thinks of mergers and cost-savings, hedges and insurance? Then again, who doesn't - I mean who doesn't among people who think in these terms about almost everything else?

And once you discover that there are planetary systems with multiple suns, won't your love poetry or even your mythology shift to include this image of a "two-sun dance"?

And if your work includes experiencing or understanding positive feedback loops, when you then consider thoughts feeding on similar thoughts, or an image feeding on its mirror image, or two people sharing synchronized feelings, won't you deduce or imagine resonance, system overheating, heightened excitement, or that screeching noise from the microphone-with-speakers?

In summary, at the center of this collection is a love, mystical, old-fashioned, yearning, and poetic. Yet in the poems we find hints of academics, mathematics, technology, science, business, and so on. For example, there is the "Definition" which feels quite formal to me, like something I would do in math and I presume others would do in law for instance - begin a study of a thing with a precise definition and logically go through a proof, examples, corollaries and the rest. I adore this definition of love. I tried to get it in Wikipedia but some gatekeeper kept rejecting it. That was annoying. I'm expert enough to provide a definition of love! I get annoyed with things like this. It would take another page to explore and explain the annoyance.

Q: In several of the poems, there is an interesting interplay between different ways of perceiving reality. For example, gods and God are mentioned, angels, ghosts. Do they all exist simultaneously in some kind of dreamscape?

A: There's a bit I'm not saying about the angels, ghosts, and shall we say more mystical experiences that inspired this love and parts of this collection.

2015 or so, I told my good friend (an ex, naturally) that I was in love with someone online even though it was not an affair and there was no actual talking and how very psychic everything was from day one. I was amazed that he understood.

In public, I won't talk like that for fear that they still lock people up in mental institutions - do they? I also told a very young friend (a veritable cool kid, some sort of art student, teenager, in university abroad) and he understood too. He said, oh, you mean subbing. Apparently, young people did that all the time - relating privately on social media through subliminal but public messages. Then they collectively dumped twitter and moved on to...what was it the youngsters moved on to? Instagram? SnapChat?

Let's just say this: I am very thankful to the muses for this work, and very thankful to one major muse - wink, and thankful to God, and to ... I usually don't write acknowledgement pages because it's so impossible to truly pin down all the major inspirations for a work. I don't feel as psychic today as I did in those days, and I think it's because this work is done?

Aside, there's a child that lives in my compound, who's back today from two weeks away at Grandma's. I wish I had the talent to write about her - the way her voice makes me feel. It rings like a bell. She talks simply all the time, and I simply die of happiness at her enthusiasm. Oh I love the other kids as well - the one that just learned to talk animal talk to invisible friends, startling her mother, and the littler one whose voice I haven't found yet, although sometimes she cries, and now she calls my name when she sees me.

We had a lot of additional kids here for the holidays - some boys for a change hohoho. Anyhow, I pray one day for the talent to explain the beauty that is her excited talking. She was just shouting something now, I think they were making play-food and she was inviting the others to eat.

Q: What’s next?

A: [See this link]: I'm still writing. 

Note: We did a Q & A session in 2011 that is available in two parts. One of the topics was the beauty of Yemen, but this is too painful a topic to revive here, given the ongoing war and its catastrophic impact. Maybe we can speak of it down the road, when peace is brokered.

October 10, 2011: Interview with Tosin Otitoju, Part One.

October 11, 2011: Interview with Tosin Otitoju, Part Two.

Today's Rune: Partnership.