Of late, and perhaps out of sheer frustration, RT has been speculating that Martinsburg, WV, might be a world navel. How this might be true has offered our mind-boggled writer a means of escaping certain unenviable realities of the moment.
To wit: RT and his mom are facing an infestation of insects–not the biblical locust, but the altogether more quotidian and infuriating bed-bug. M’burg has apparently already endured one wave of these creepy crawlies, and now they are paying RT’s life a visit.
Give credit where credit is due: bed-bugs are tough, and the duplex is now undergoing the first of several treatments to get rid of the pest. Everything is a mess in the apartment, and the BBs have given both RT and his mom a case of the screaming meemees. But this too shall pass…
In the meantime, and by way of further escape, RT has been assiduously reading Karen Armstrong’s The Great Transformation. TGT follows the spiritual development of four major cultures–Greece, Israel, India, and China from early times through the development of an Axial Age culture, Axial here meaning societies that encourage moral behavior in their members. RT singles out the book’s clear language and logical organization as it reports and reflects on the historical and moral development of the greater part of the ancient world. He also notes the sidelining of Assyria and Mesopotamia as, he assumes, a dead culture that serves to establish the baseline for Axial development. Bye bye, Gilgamesh!
Which is not to say that KA has a tin ear for mythological development–her reporting of certain Ancient Greek festivals has RT convinced that some parts of the Exodus story have links to Greek myth. Which brings to mind the ever elusive Elohist, one of the several projects awaiting further development in RT’s distracted mind. On the other hand, mom’s memoir continues apace.
In the meanwhile, there’s always the Martinsburg library to escape to when the bugs get too biblical. Which returns us to RT’s initial speculation about world navels… (happy spring equinox!) RT
Photo: A locust cloud over Juncus maritimus at Imililik, Western Sahara (April, 1944). Author: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Source: Eugenio Morales Agacino’s Photographic Archive. Via Eugenio Morales Agacino’s Virtual Exhibition. WikiCmns; CC 3.0 Attribution/Share Alike Spain.
Tis the season, and RT has a lot to choose from this year; in fact, he’s overwhelmed by his output in the first half of the year. Count ‘em, baby, count ‘em: 138 posts in January and February 2013 alone! With such an abundance to choose from, RT has thought it wise to offer a selection from the year’s first two months by itself, then move farther into the year in his next post. He’s got a range of material, and hopes everyone enjoys his choices! RT
1) Scottish Gaelic, Manx, and the Crawling of Crabs. Ned Maddrell’s take on the importance of speaking Manx, along with other reasons to respect (and learn) a minority language.
2) Look at Me (a poem). An intense encounter of the romantic kind.
3) Dr. Michel Royon: Uncovering the Beauty of Nature. Two simply amazing photographs of seashells; Royon’s work takes the genre to a new level.
4) More Than a Pretty Face. Beauty can take us by surprise.
5) A Finch’s Mandible and the Intimate Life. Further speculations on the origins of language and its connections with place. (Or, What Did He Say?)
1) Denis Diderot and the Book that Changed the World. Think intellectuals are wasting their time, engaging in belly-button staring and whatnot? Here’s one who rocked the world to its foundations.
2) Louise Duttenhofer–Cut Paper Artist. A wonderful artist, pretty much unknown in America–and an article translated from German with many an assist from Google Translate. Wow!
3) Szechenyi Thermal Bath. A slice of life with a healthy dash of humor.
4) Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys. More humor, an excellent book review, and a resource for finding great small-press books.
5) Letterform–Three Characteristics. Three ways of looking at an alphabetic letter.
And how could RT end this post without a stocking stuffer?
1) The Vogels: Collecting Art as if Your Life Depending on it. A New York City couple who, on a distinctly limited income, became patrons of avant-garde art.
Image: Make-Do Dolls for Christmas–1943. Author: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer. WikiCmns. Public Domain.
RT has double-checked: his post After Sappho is the Rag Tree’s official post #1000, according to WordPress.
RT is amazed he’s gotten this far with the blog; he remembers his first few tentative postings, all without images, and the many wonderful things and superb people he has encountered since those days. He is developing further thoughts on what to do with this blog, most prominently, moving onto WordPress.Org. Money is still tight, however, and he is biding his time.
By way of thank you to his loyal readers, RT lists some of them below. These folks have stuck with him through the blogging ups and downs he has negotiated over the past three years:
1) Margo Roby, Wordgathering. The one and only (so far) Queen of the Dragons of Grammar.
2) Aubrey. A gifted writer enamored of all things Victorian (& then some).
3) X-ties. More is going on in New Zealand than you think…
4) Leanne Cole Photography. …and the graphics from Down Under are impressive, too.
5) N. Filbert (a.k.a. “The Whole Hurley Burley.”) Notebooks, videos, thoughts worth finding, and more.
6) SIMONHLILLY. Poetry, The World Tree, and beauty, generally.
7) Calmgrove. Books: serious fun!
8) Jeffrey Harbin. Great photos from Texas!!
9) The Glyptodon. Tiny porpoises and other miracles.
9) Esther. poems, images, lovely ladies from France…
10) Cindy Knoke. Book reviews!!!
11) thehumansarah. Photos, some of them even funny!!!
12) Elephant. Old-fashioned picture book pictures, just like we used to read!
Thank you all for your loyal interest!!!
Photo: Bouquet of flowers; Author: Paolo Neo. WikiCmns; Public Domain.
Could Gilgamesh (or at least Enkidu) have something to do with the Abominable Snowman? Well, probably not, though the idea will doubtless exercise RT’s roving writing at some level.
And roving it has been! Van Gogh, a fine collection of personal essays, and a book on the 2008 disaster on K2 have all come across RT’s already sagging lap-desk.
On a more serious note, RT has begun work on tablet 6. Nothing is quite what it looks like with a Gilgamesh tablet. Tab 6 is the most complete tablet (except 11) in the original materials, and RT breezed through it the first time around. RT is satisfied with much of what emerged as a gift back then, but he is also aware that the most difficult part of the epic is its continuo, all the stuff that makes the story coherent as a whole–transitions, themes, meters, and what not. So it with a wary (but not weary) eye that he proceeds. All roads (however unlikely) lead to tablet 6… RT
RT sat down at the computer table today and realized it has been some time since he cruised the net looking for new blogs and web sites. So he spent thirty or so minutes doing just that, first giving himself a list of topics to search on. The links below will guide readers to something a little different (for RT, anyway). Enjoy the discoveries!
1. Writer Adept. (topic: flash fiction). RT has never attempted flash fiction before; here is a fine guest-post by FF writer Alissa Leonard relating her experiences with the form and linking to two pieces of her flash fiction, one written with a 500-word limit, the other with a 55-word limit (whoa!).
2. Six Sisters’ Stuff. (topic: dessert). OK, RT, what with his sweet tooth and all, has been known to post on desserts. On the other hand, this dessert looks pretty yummy…
3. Fencing Net. Well, RT has never shown too much interest in the big sports, but since middle-school he’s harbored a secret desire to learn how to fence. Anyway, this site looks like a good place to beginning learning something about this poetic past-time. En Garde!
5. Belgian Pearls. (topic: pearls). From a literal point of view, no pearls here, just some reflections from a life lived large.
RT’s Related Posts: Poetic Tweets.
Photograph: Christmas lighting in Weinstadt-Endersbach (night photo), Germany; night photograph. Author: Wildfeuer. WikiCmns; CC 1.0 Generic.
You read it here first, folks: the Rag Tree has crossed the 50,000-hit mark!!! Add to that 2,200 social media followers and RT doesn’t mind saying he is just plain proud of himself! But he will also add something he learned soon after starting his blog: blogging is mainly about the relationships it generates, that is, the amazing people that you get to know–and RT has met many in his nearly 3 years of blogging. & that reminds him of something he realized long before he began The Rag Tree: writing isn’t about getting published; writing is about community.
That being said, there is no doubt that publishing this blog has given RT a stronger sense of being a writer: of writing everyday (or so) for an audience. And that may have something to do with his continuing progress on Gilgamesh and improvements in other aspects of his life.
At 53+ and still kicking, RT has had a few recent reminders of his place on the timeline: a floater that appeared in his right eye and after several days vanished; a strained muscle in the right hip region (now better), the painless loss of a single tooth. His mother, on the other hand, seems to be doing better with her macular degeneration (she recently received freebies via federal program such as a powerful magnifying glass and a telephone with big numerals…she’s even been reading a bit!).
this is life… RT
Painting: Emma Zorn Lasande (1887); Anders Zorn. WikiCmns; Public Domain.
Yes, dear readers, The Rag Tree is indeed undergoing renovations. Here is a list of the improvements currently in hand:
1) RT’s page, tours, tours will include descriptions of each post.
2) RT has converted the page formerly devoted to his poetry collection, Amassunu, to a page on RT’s sister blog, Ampersand Press and its publications.
3) RT’s page The Line, will soon have more complete information on this fundamental unit of poetry.
and there will be more changes aimed at making The Rag Tree as user friendly and informative as possible.
Illustration: A London Newsboy (1893); Augustus Edwin Mulready. WikiCmns; Public Domain.
Give me enough medals and I’ll win you any war.
Awards, or public recognition of any kind, have always been a problematic enterprise. Surely outstanding performance and heroic behavior deserve recognition, but the standards used to determine such things can be lax. And no matter how strict the criteria, there is the matter of what to tell people who didn’t win the award.
Be that as it may, recognition is vital to any enterprise that does not reward its participants with a regular paycheck. RT is inclined to think that honor is the primary human need, eclipsing even food–after all, just why are we eating, and what will we do when we have left the feast?
Nowhere could this be truer than in the realm of poetry blogs, written as they tend to be from a need to share the heart’s passions. The desire for recognition is keen, and RT believes that the main purpose of the various WP awards is to comfort and encourage such folk as they begin to share their work with a broad audience. After all, and in the not-too-distant past, RT was himself a novice blogger, thrilled by the first handful of hits on his site. Honor is one thing; self-image is something else.
All of this is by way of introduction to the fact that at an unacceptably distant time in the past (a couple of months?) RT received an award nomination himself: the Liebster Award. Many requirements attach to this award, but for the sake of time and sanity, RT is boiling them down to just two, thanking my nominator and naming 11 blogs worthy of the award.
So, to begin again, let me thank Aubrey for nominating me; she is a wonderful writer with a keen eye and intellect. Now, here are the 11 blogs:
1) Book Peeps. Very fine book reviews.
2) A Leaf in Springtime. Panang; Finland. Exotic and socially minded; happy.
3) Belle Typo. Typography and printing enthusiasts, dive in!
4) Shrinksarentcheap. Surreal and therapeutic poetry, sharp and from a woman’s perspective.
5) Cindi Knoke. Interesting life story; beautiful images and words.
6) Hortus Closus. This blog lies a bit off the beaten path; for one thing, be prepared to read her poems in French, for another, be prepared for a certain attraction to women. Tasteful and heartfelt.
7) pdlyon’s weblog. Irish to the core, meaning tea, soda bread, beauty, and Buddha.
8) Becky Van Deusen Pinups. Retro and refreshing material from a practicing model.
9) Types of Typography. A great resource for type and images.
10) Tiaras and Trianon. Who could resist a blog with a name like this?
11) the poem epoch. Poetry, interviews, a touch of humor.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for RT to look back at the crop of Rag Tree posts for 2012. As was the case in 2011, RT is sure that several of his better pieces will not make WordPress’s pick of the blog’s most popular posts, so here are a dozen or so that RT thinks can stand a second reading:
1) Hangul, Literacy and Culture: What an Alphabet Can Do For You. January. The forces of history can work in subtle ways. Whoever would have thought that the relatively small kingdom of Korea would produce the world’s easiest-to-learn alphabet? It did, and a social revolution ensued.
2) The Ivory House. February. Histories written in ancient times are few and far between, and the history contained in The Book of Kings sheds light on the emergence of the first Biblical texts, the very roots of western civilization.
3) Mexico’s Lincoln. February. Benito Juarez, by common consent Mexico’s greatest President, advanced the cause of nationalism, democracy, and native peoples in Mexico (and around the world).
4) The New Scottish Parliament Buildings. March. Just too cool for words. A modernist masterpiece and a wonderful addition to Edinburgh’s distinguished architecture.
5) Support Your Local Poets. March. The Chinese have long considered poetry to be one of the healing arts, and RT thinks that the poetic impulse is basic to our humanity. Local poets, those purveyors of healing and culture, deserve our wholehearted support!
6) The Independent Scholar’s Handbook. March. Writing a history of the Persian Empire in the cafe around the corner? Working on a study of Wordsworth at the local library? This book will support you in your endeavors. Come in from the cold!
7) “Talking Leaves”–The Cherokee Alphabet. May. Indian culture is rich with invention and story, a point that Sequoia’s diligent effort to create an alphabet for his people underlines.
8) Stephane Mallarme: “Apparition.” July. Oh, those French poets, perfectly willing to break the rules to create something new and beautiful! Here is RT’s version of a poem by one of their finest.
9) Elsewhere in Outer Space, New Earth. August. RT steers people’s eyes away from the amazing photo-stream coming back from Curiosity, the latest of the Mars Rovers, to consider an even bigger prize: locating an earth-like planet!
10) QuikScript: An English Alphabet for Everyone. September. The Roman alphabet was designed to write Latin, a language significantly different from English. Here, in RT’s opinion, is the finest proposal for an alphabet designed for English.
11) Wheeling, WV and the Dream of an American Fifth Coast. October. Could a renovated canal system help revive inland American ports? Read on!
12) Shawnee: Martinsburg, RT, and the 4th Person. November. Some posts are just a gift. Here is one about RT’s roots, grammar, and the Shawnee origins of West Virginia.
13) Mediterranean Vacation: Lost Landscapes. November. So, what was a Mediterranean vacation like 6 million years ago?
14) The Golden Thread. December. RT looks forward to his offerings in the New Year and the way he will tie them together.
Painting: Roses. Vincent Van Gogh. WikiCmns. Public Domain.