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May 2017
Vol. VII, No. 296

May 2017

"Dama con l'ermellino," by Leonardo da Vinci.

“Dama con l’ermellino,” by Leonardo da Vinci.

From Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: This May, South Carolina poet Claire Bateman returns to Weekly Hubris, sharing (going forward) poets with whose work you may not be familiar. We welcome on board, in May, new columnist Adrienne Mayor, whom Weekly Hubris‘s editor, Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, first knew and published (in The Southeastern Review: A Journal of The Humanities in The Southeastern Mediterranean) in Athens, Greece. (This month, outside-the-box Classics scholar (et much cetera) Mayor writes about . . . living with ferrets.) Dr. Skip Eisiminger casts his wry eye on the practice that never makes perfect: malpractice. Dr. Guy McPherson, predictably, turns his basilisk eye on Homo sapiens at the climate change crossroads. San Francisco dramaturge Helen Noakes reminisces about her personal diaspora, and her Great Uncle Costas. Anita Sullivan, from the Pacific Northwest, muses on sharing small spartan digs with an almost total, if not perfect stranger (her firstborn). William A. Balk, Jr., from the South Carolina Lowcountry, muses on formal wear and the provenance of paisley. Dr. William Ramp, from Canada’s great plains, meditates on Good Friday, and every Friday, blessed and blighted, in our suddenly more nuclear age. (He concludes: “Now, as I finish writing, it’s Holy Saturday; traditionally a day to recall the Harrowing of Hell, Christ’s descent to the realm of the dead to call forth all the righteous who had died since the beginning of the world. I interpret ‘the righteous’ not as ‘believers’ but as those who’ve felt hell in their own or others’ bones, and have offered or cried out for a hand. Those who did not die instantly at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; those who grew up in dread and into paralysis; those who suffer self-defeat in the grip of monsters labeled with a pharmacopeia of categories that now includes ecological stress disorder.”) And new-this-month columnist David Christopher Loya brings up the rear with a true story involving, as promised, film, sex, religion, and Santa Monica.

Chard deNiord.

Chard deNiord.

Speculative Friction

“Inside The Fire,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—Chard deNiord is the author of three books of poetry, Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990), Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Night Mowing, forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2005. His poems and essays have appeared recently in The American Scholar, The New England Review, Gettysburg Review, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Poetry, The Iowa Review, Poetry East, AGNI, Green Mountains Review, The Harvard Review, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares and The Kenyon Review. He is associate professor of English at Providence College and directs the low-residency MFA program in poetry at New England College. (Read more . . .)

Denise.

Denise.

Collected Curiosities

“The Modern Ferret Lifestyle,” By Adrienne Mayor

STANFORD California—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—Denise came to live with us when we moved from Athens, Greece, to Montana in the summer of 1980. Born in the stable of the renowned classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, Denise turned up for sale ($20) at Farmer’s Market in Bozeman. We’d never seen a little ferret kit before, and were enchanted by the tiny black-masked creature’s habit of hopping sideways while chattering happily, and awed by her ability to slip under doors like a furry snake. Ferrets were virtually unknown in American households at this time, and I think Josh and I were among the first to have a ferret as a pet. We named her Denise, after the 1963 song by Randy and the Rainbows, covered in 1978 as “Denis” by the New Wave band Blondie, and crooned by Deborah Harry: “Denis, Denis/Oh Denis, scooby do,/I’m in love with you.” (Read more . . .)

Oops!

Oops!

Skip the B.S.

“Deaf Grasshoppers & Hobbled Ants: Malpractice,” By Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—With the junior-high, science-fair deadline looming, Timothy frantically combed the knee-high weeds behind his house for grasshoppers. Back in the garage, he gathered his mother’s wire cutters, a pen, a note pad, and a ruler. With pen and paper at the ready, he clipped off one hind leg flush with the abdomen, yelled, “Git,” measured the leap, and recorded the distance. He did this four more times for each of his subjects and measured each leap. After cutting off the sixth and last leg, yelling “Git,” and failing to see any movement, our rural researcher concluded, “When the last legs is cut off, the hoppergrass, he is deef.” (Read more . . .)

One path leads to despair; the other, to extinction.

One path leads to despair; the other, to extinction.

Going Dark

“Humanity at a Crossroads,” By Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—The evidence is gaining increasing clarity: We’ve reached a crossroads unlike any other in human history. One path leads to despair for Homo industrialis. The other leads to extinction, for Homo sapiens and the millions of species we are taking with us into the abyss. I’d love to choose Door Number One. Unfortunately, we collectively selected Door Number Two long ago. We do have a chance to rescue humanity. I’m not considering merely the continued persistence of our own species. Consider, for example, these definitions from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: 1: the quality or state of being humane (i.e., marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals); 2a: the quality or state of being human b: plural: human attributes or qualities; 3: plural: the branches of learning (as philosophy, arts, or languages) that investigate human constructs and concerns as opposed to natural processes (as in physics or chemistry) and social relations (as in anthropology or economics); 4: the human race: the totality of human beings. (Read more . . .)

The author's maternal grandmother, in Odessa, Russia, 1915, soon after her marriage. Standing (l to r): Grandfather Achileas, Great Uncle Pavlos, Great Uncle Nikolas, his wife, Caliopi, Great Uncle Alexandros; Seated (l to r) Grandmother Eleni, Great Grandmother Anastasia, and Great Uncle Costas. (Great Grandfather Pavlos had died a few years earlier.)

The author’s maternal grandmother, in Odessa, Russia, 1915, soon after her marriage.

Waking Point

“Costas,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—Easter has come and gone. This holiday elicits a nostalgia for the things of my childhood which were magical, replete with tradition, joy, and love. The rarity of those moments rendered them precious. At Easter, in Japan, my family gathered to celebrate and to share in a feast of food and memories. Stories of the past would be exchanged but, as if by tacit agreement, none of our clan’s many tragedies were discussed. They would tell of Easters in Constantinopole, in Russia, and China. My how we traveled! How fully we embodied the meaning of diaspora! How we loved to delve into the past. How I loved to listen, to conjure my ancestors’ crossing mountain ranges from Turkey into Russia, riding midnight trains from Odessa to Harbin—fleeing, always fleeing. (Read more . . .)

The Women’s March, Portland OR (Photo: Will Coca).

The Women’s March, Portland OR (Photo: Will Coca).

On The Other Hand

“Instructions for Walking Through Walls,” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—In walking through walls, you cannot go swiftly forward. Although the substance you are up against is in the act of changing its core identity from being “a wall” to being “a so-called wall,” nonetheless it will not ultimately attain any more fluidity or transparency than that of a very thick dust. And this dust will not conveniently morph into fire or rain as it gives way before you. Thus a wholly different set of skills and body parts is needed from the ones you commonly employ in simply—walking. And, in fact (to temporarily lapse into the technicalities of this operation), you must move forward by virtue of a gradual tilt away from active and towards passive behavior. Something begins to occur in conjunction with—but not directly caused by—your focused intention. We might call it a constant realigning of proportional valences. (Read more . . .)

The Raja of Mandi with his shawl.

The Raja of Mandi with his shawl.

Epicurus’ Porch

“Nothing to Wear! Nothing to Wear!” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—The invitation, in an elegant engraved envelope, was to a rather posh society’s installation of new officers, to be followed by an appropriately sumptuous feast and gala celebration, and to act as escort to the retiring president of the society, a very witty and worldly grande dame. The friend extending the invitation explained that while the event did require formal dress, and that while I had both a dinner suit and a full dress outfit (hence our friendship!), she did mention that some men often wore a kilt of family tartan. Well, I thought, if either a dinner suit or full tails and white tie is deemed acceptable, then surely full dress is overdoing it. Then she told me that a white dinner jacket was also worn by some male guests, even though the event was well before Memorial Day and not, alas, aboard a cruise ship. That was when I realized that—posh or not—the invitation did not really mean “formal.” Rather, the event was to be in formal-style costume, evoking a grandeur and social position none of us properly could claim. Even in my years in Washington, the only times “white tie” was indicated on an invitation was for a rare diplomatic reception and perhaps one or two galas. (Read more . . .)

BADGER test detonation, April 18, 1953, Nevada Test Site

BADGER test detonation, April 18, 1953, Nevada Test Site.

Small Things Recollected

“Waiting, Watching, Reaching, Rising,” By William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017— I am writing this column on the evening of what’s called Good Friday in the Christian tradition. For many, this day is no more than the start of the Easter holiday weekend. While I have often attended Easter Week services, I stayed home today. But strangely, I was haunted by biblical imagery all day; by an end-times notion that the veil of some temple had been torn even as legions continued to march on the usual suspects. I woke late this morning after overstaying a lovely social gathering in honor of a couple of graduate students finishing their degrees. In a small, windy and often parochial prairie city, a small knot of students and their teachers, gathered from four corners of the globe and many different cultures, shared food, friendship, memories and rapport, danced, and talked long into the night about aspirations, fears, issues, commitments, joys, and sorrows. Across distances in culture and language, they laughed and hugged, un-selfconsciously free in modes of expression, questioning and hunger for insight. I couldn’t help thinking that more than one of them might have faced sanctions, prison, or even bullets in recent times or might face them in the near future. (Read more . . .)

Religion always shoots blanks.

Religion always shoots blanks.

Renegade Lens™

“God Wants This Movie Made!” By David Christopher Loya

BURBANK California—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—“Gentlemen, GOD WANTS THIS MOVIE MADE!” For that added special touch . . . to more emphatically underscore the gravitas of his statement, as though channeling the Almighty Sky-Patriarch, himself, the producer slammed his fist on the conference table with such force I swear I heard bones crack on the shuddering oak. No televangelist would have been so bold.  But this producer was a special kind of crazy.  At that moment, my lifelong companion, ADD, compelled me to turn and look out the floor-to-ceiling, 25th-story window on Sunset Blvd. It was the summer of 1992, and an absolutely beautiful fucking day in Los Angeles. I could see all the way to the blue waters of Santa Monica.  (Read more . . .)

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