Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: We begin, this month, with essayist and poet Anita Sullivan. Attend, please. This is Sullivan at work: “I would plunge my hand into the middle of various stiff and twisted clumps of long skinny flexible materials that had somehow infected themselves with an extreme case of inosculation—or ‘approach grafting,’ as the horticulturists would say—when tree branches grow so closely together that they spontaneously merge as if someone had pleached or grafted them. Naturally, I didn’t attempt to separate branches that had already terminally intermingled their tissues like blood brothers, but certainly many other materials can enter into shape-changing behaviors that allow them to combine their slender articulated parts into dense, inscrutable masses.” This September, Sullivan, who has a new book out (The Bird That Swallowed the Music Box), writes to us of dreams, dream-work, and the lovely, all but inscrutable geography of Greater Sullivania. Then, Athens-and-Andros-based food-traveler Diana Farr Louis shares a culinary essay about Evia (where the pièce de résistance is feta doughnuts with a red pepper sorbet). Puzzle Master Skip Eisiminger contemplates eternity and infinity. Playwright Helen Noakes digresses on authorship, agency, and just who “owns” a story. Poet Claire Bateman introduces us to the work of poet Ashley Crout. Climate scientist Guy McPherson finds no consolation in Philosophy, period. Lowcountry naturalist Will Balk waxes poetic (and historical) about Augusta’s spring (read “Masters”) floral glories. And Borscht Belt humorist and trumpeter Ross Konikoff rounds September off with a satirical take-down of The Donald and The Jared.
On The Other Hand
“The Untangler,” By Anita Sullivan
EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—When I was a child, I used to make up different worlds and pretend to live in them. Mostly, I was interested in the houses and yards. My houses always had many levels, with winding staircases, secret panels behind the walls, roofs that you could easily reach from an upstairs window and, like a squirrel, jump from, to a conveniently accessible tree and shinny to the ground without anyone knowing you had gone missing. The “yards” were actually wild gardens interrupted by patches of mysterious forest just large enough to give me the illusion that I was hopelessly lost. Often, I wandered in a labyrinth of park-like glades, in which, if I stood motionless, I might catch sight of deer, unicorns, nymphs, as well as smaller mammals like rabbits and foxes, plus long-legged birds with enormous wings and primitive cries. (Read more . . .)
Eating Well Is The Best Revenge
“Montofoli: A World Apart,” By Diana Farr Louis
ANDROS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—Our hostess explains, laughing, that the name of this estate/vineyard in southern Evia probably means Mount of Leaves, from the Italian foglie, but that it could just as easily be Monto Folly or Mount of Fools. “It was madness to buy it and you have to be crazy to work as hard as we have to restore and maintain it,” says Marianne Karacosta, originally of Sweden. But her husband, Pavlos’s, family came from Karystos, and a year before selling the family firm, Nounou, producer of evaporated and condensed milk, in 1987, he bought the estate, which had lain abandoned since the 1950s. One evening, he gathers us guests in a circle of marble blocks intended to remind us of Stonehenge, to tell us its story. (Read more . . .)
Skip the B.S.
“World Without End: Infinity & Eternity,” By Dr. Skip Eisiminger
CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—The last time my wife and I visited her German home, we took a walk through the oldest part of town. To give you an idea of how old Helmstedt is, in 1952, Ingrid marched in a parade with her classmates celebrating the town’s 1,000thanniversary. “That seems like forever to me,” I said. “Me, too, and that’s why I wish these cobblestones could speak,” she said, standing beside a plaque affixed to a half-timbered row house. “Who was Giordano Bruno? All this says is that he lived and wrote here from 1589 to 1590 while he taught at the university a few blocks from here.” “I think the RCs burned him at the stake,” I said, “but I’ve forgotten why.” (Read more . . .)
“Past as Prologue,” By Helen Noakes
SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—“Who owns a story? The person who lived it, who speaks it, who supplies the life-giving details? Or the pen-wielding listener who commits those details to paper?”These questions, posed by Michael Owen at the beginning of his March 4, 2018 “New York Times Book Review” piece on The Invention of Ana, by Mikkel Rosengaard (translated by Caroline Waight), caught me up short. (Read more . . .)
“Dogs in Snow,” By Ashley Crout
GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—Poet Ashley Crout was born in Charleston SC, and graduated from Bard College and the MFA program at Hunter College. She is the recipient of a poetry grant from The Astraea Foundation and has received awards from The Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Foundation. Her work has been published in Sojourner, Ponder Review, and Dodging the Rain, among others. She lives in Greenville, SC, with her hell hound, Hud. (Read more . . .)
“Was Near-Term Extinction Unavoidable?” By Dr. Guy McPherson
SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—It is not at all clear that humanity can be saved (or, for that matter, is worth saving). Evolution drives us to breed, drives to procreate, and drives us to accumulate material possessions. Evolution always pushes us towards the brink, and culture piles on, hurling us into the abyss. Nietzsche was correct about our virtual lack of free will; and, as British philosopher John Gray points out in Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, free will is an illusion. It’s not merely the foam on the beer: it’s the last bubble of foam, the one that just popped. It’s no surprise, then, that we are sleep-walking into the future, or that the future is a lethal cliff. (Read more . . .)
“Legendary Beauty Across Rae’s Creek,” By William A. Balk, Jr.
ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—The Augusta National golf course is every bit as beautiful as commentators describe it at Masters Tournament time. The azaleas and dogwoods each spring are more memorable—to this observer, anyway—than the golf competition, and perhaps more stories have been spun about their perfectly timed display of spring glory than about the tournament, itself. One persistent tale—apocryphal, according to official spokesmen from the Masters—concerns the remarkable timing of the flowering shrubbery. In order to assure that the explosion of blooms doesn’t happen a week or two early, it is said that the groundskeepers have a buried system of pipes running through the flowerbeds of the enormous golf course. If an early warm spell threatens to rush the bloom prematurely, the team pumps cold water through the pipes to fool the azaleas and the dogwoods into delaying their flowers. (Read more . . .)
West Side Stories
“The Trump Saga: Part 257,” By Ross Konikoff
MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2018—“Mr. President . . . . Mr. President . . . it’s me, Jared,” he says knocking tentatively on the White House master bedroom door. Getting no response, he carefully opens it to see Trump slumped in his chair, Fox News on the television, the sound turned off. Trump turns and stands up. “Jared, come in, come in. I was just thinking about things. So, how’s my little Hasid?” “Pop, I’m not Hasidic. I’ve told you a thousand times, we’re Reformed. We change with the times, we try to . . . oh never mind. Pop, I can’t unload 666 Fifth Avenue, and now that the Chinese backed out of the re-fi, we got dick. I just can’t go to jail and leave Ivy to raise the kids alone. I don’t want to wake up every morning in a cage with guys like Bannon and Miller. Pop, I know stuff, I know lots of things they’d love to hear, so I’m counting on you to clear me.” (Read more . . .)