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1 January 2022
Vol. XII, No. 1

January 2022

This issue is dedicated to all those lost to and bereaved by COVID.

“The if-clause and the when-clause and the which-:/I’m lost in their switchbacks and crossing loops,/a transit train hurtling toward a ditch/past all commercial ventures and co-ops./In this swift life, there’s no time to compute/the likely outcomes, lay no claim to that./Suck it up and commute, commute, commute./Communicate no note that you cannot./Language is tiresome, ultimately, as such;/even more so are its alleged limits. Wish/for no abodes of words. In flocks they swish/in multitudes away, and no research/
will ever reconstruct the radiant soul/out of the linear windings of the scroll.”
― By Philip Nikolayev, from “The New Inexpressible” 

(L to R) Photographer Alana Archer’s quarantine responses to Frida Kahlo’s “Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns and Me and My Parrots.”

Photographer Alana Archer’s quarantine responses to Frida Kahlo’s “Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns” and Me and My Parrots.”

Quarantine response to Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

Quarantine response to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

From Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: This January, we lead with our sixth new year’s bulletin from Dr. Guy McPherson, this one titled “Climate Change: Abrupt & Irreversible.” Every month, for the past five years, I have been amplifying McPherson’s alarming, largely unchanging, “amply peer-reviewed” message: The very-end times of the Anthropocene are upon us.” In fact, its entirely too late for Guy to hold up a placard reading Repent!” Instead, both he and I again raise our usual banner: it reads, very simply, Love thy neighbor.” (In 2022, lets see if we can do any better at this final task of ours than we did in 2021?) Expatriated-to-Athens-and-Andros Diana Farr Louis follows with a sweet, poignant report on her autumnal return to Kifissia from Andros, and remembrances of her Cycladic idyll, the depthless filotimo (generous grace) of the Greeks, and an encounter with a blown-off-course flamingo. Next, poet Claire Batemans column features the poetry of bi-coastal poet and fiction-writer Ananda Lima. Dr. William Ramp follows Claire with a playlet in three acts (plus asides) comprising an academics screed in the time of COVID, publishing deadlines, the malignancy of inanimate objects, and the effects of entropy on the human body. The Reverend Robin White then writes (of something else altogether): a missive to all of us (Martha, Mary, you, me) standing outside Lazarus’s tomb, four days after his death. Next comes a revisitation of what I, Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, wrote three years ago this month: as we enter the third year of our shared pandemic scourge, the lesson that came so hard to me back then still obtains. As a PS of Sound & Light, Assistant Editor Tim Bayer (recuperating from knee surgery in Upstate New York), then lights up our skies with some 21st-century fireworks.

About the mixed-media works featured on our December Home Page: Rachel Levin: “In March 2020 the Getty Museum in Los Angeles challenged people to recreate iconic paintings using anything they could find at home while self-isolating. In Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns (1940), Frida Kahlo unravels Christ’s crown of thorns and wears it as a necklace, presenting herself as a Christian martyr. To recreate this painting a dog replaced the monkey, a rope replaced the thorn necklace, and a plastic bird replaced  the hummingbird. … In Kahlo’s 1941 self-portrait, Me and My Parrots, the painter depicts four parrots; two, perched on her shoulders and two, sitting in her lap. In Canadian designer Alana Archer’s recreation, cleaning products stand in for the parrots. (See the rest of this exhibition, “People Recreate Works of Art While in Quarantine: Part 1—Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer,” here.)

The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction, by Andrew Y. Glikson.

The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction.

Planetary Hospice

“Climate Change: Abrupt & Irreversible,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2022—From the incredibly conservative Wikipedia entry titled “Climate change” comes this bit of information: “Climate change includes both human-induced global warming and its large-scale impacts on weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known events in Earth’s history.” The Wikipedia entry cites the 8 August 2019 report, “Climate Change and Land,” published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is among the most conservative scientific bodies in the history of Homo sapiens, yet it concluded in 2019 that Earth was in the midst of the most rapid change in planetary history, citing peer-reviewed literature in reaching this conclusion: “These global-level rates of human-driven change far exceed the rates of change driven by geophysical or biosphere forces that have altered the Earth System trajectory in the past (e.g., Summerhayes, 2015Foster et al., 2017); even abrupt geophysical events do not approach current rates of human-driven change.” (Read more . . .)

Our view.

Our view on Cycladic Andros.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Summer Memories for A Winter’s Day,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2022—Back in the Big Olive (after four and a half months in our island refuge on Andros), it’s hard to come to terms with gazing out on a panorama of different shades, shapes, and textures of green trees instead of a view that includes our olive trees, a camel-colored valley ending at a beach, the sea, and the hulks, sometimes blurry, sometimes clear, of three or four other Cycladic islands. Even harder, though, is to look out the west window here and see nothing but apartment buildings, solar heaters, and TV antennas. And we consider ourselves lucky. Nothing close by rises as high as our third-floor windows. But I miss not being able to be outside, feasting my eyes on the changing skies and sea, grabbing a lemon or a basketful of figs or parting thorny branches to pry off a perfect pomegranate for breakfast. I’m quite aware that I’m horribly spoiled. We had an almost normal summer. Especially in June and September/October. Beloved friends, some unseen for three years, others who came last summer, too, from the US and the UK, greeted us with hugs, parties, taverna lunches, and ouzos in cafés, while sometimes joining in our almost daily trips to delicious beaches. It seemed quite unreal to be gathering without masks, to be touching, to be laughing, and telling stories of a winter that was so sad and lonely for so many people. One British friend, whose husband had died the previous September, said she hadn’t had as much social life in the past two years in England as she had in three weeks on Andros. (Read more . . .)

Ananda Lima.

Ananda Lima.

Speculative Friction

“The Poetry of Ananda Lima,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2022—Poet Ananda Lima is the author of Mother/land (Black Lawrence Press, 2021), winner of the Hudson Prize, shortlisted for the Chicago Review of Books Chriby Awards. She is also the author of four chapbooks: Vigil (Get Fresh Books, 2021), Tropicália (Newfound, 2021, winner of the Newfound Prose Prize), Amblyopia (Bull City Press, 2020), and Translation (Paper Nautilus, 2019, winner of the Vella Chapbook Prize). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Poets.org, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Pleiades, and elsewhere. She has served as the poetry judge for the AWP Kurt Brown Prize, as staff at the Sewanee Writers Conference, and as a mentor at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Immigrant Artist Program. She has been awarded the inaugural Work-In-Progress Fellowship by Latinx-in-Publishing, sponsored by Macmillan Publishers, for her fiction manuscript-in-progress. She has an MA in Linguistics from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction from Rutgers University, Newark. (Read more . . .)

“Antigrazioso (The Anti-Graceful),” by Umberto Boccioni.

“Antigrazioso (The Anti-Graceful),” by Umberto Boccioni.

Small Things Recollected

“Not a Cry for Help,” By Dr. William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2022—This record of miniature drama interrupts a series I began a few months ago (and will return to) on what wartime photographs may reveal about complicity in evil. It is presented mostly as-is, despite my post-facto wince at a certain level of hyperbole in medias res. ACT I. SCENE I. Somewhere (dark) in Canada. A study (dark) with computer. Bill seated at a screen, types, while connected to “social media,” for want of a better term.  BILL: I give up. I’ve misplaced both my phone and iPad, and thus neither my landlord nor the window-repair folks have any way to contact me. I’m SO DONE with this affliction called me. Whatever. I’ll just keep grading and wait to see what next I lose or forget. I wish I could lose myself. Permanently. SCENE II. Still somewhere (dark) in Canada. (Still) a study (dark) with computer. Bill (still) seated at a screen, types, while connected to “social media,” (still) for want of a better term. BILL: This is NOT a cry for help. All that I describe below is my sole and singular responsibility—and help would only get in the way and make things worse. This is a mere virtual howl at a Microsoft moon from a burdened, disoriented, and insomniac academic with a scheduled 10 a.m. meeting. Read only if you identify, or if you’re looking round for someone deeper in the bog. (Read more . . .)

“Jesus Raises Lazarus.” (From Photos of Reenactments, Cameroon. Vanderbilt Divinity School Library, Art in the Christian Tradition.)

“Jesus Raises Lazarus.”

Wing + Prayer

“Come & See (John 11: 1-45),” By The Reverend Robin White

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” These are Martha’s first words to Jesus when she meets him on the road to Bethany following the death and burial of Lazarus. Later, Martha takes her sister, Mary, to Jesus and her words are, likewise, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Mary’s words reflect our common experience of loss and of our complaint to the heavens; as well as the universal human experience of helplessness. Martha and Mary believe it might all have been different: “Lord, if you had been here . . .” If only. But Jesus would appear to have come too late. Death has occurred. Martha, Mary, and we ourselves could, can, do nothing in the face of death, and the one who can, presumably, has tarried; will always tarry. God’s arrival in our lives often seems delayed. The words of Martha and Mary echo our shared disappointment. Lord, if you had been here, the plague would not have claimed millions. Lord, if you had been here, our children would not have been killed by gunfire. Lord, if you had been here, the cars would not have crashed, the pregnancy would not have been lost, the tumor would not have metastasized. Lord, if you had been here, our loved one would not have died; would not be dying; would not die. Lord, if you were here, death would . . . have no dominion; none of us would experience the corruption of the tomb. (Read more . . .)

Tigers in a Bamboo Grove (detail), mid-1630s, Kano Tan'.

“Tigers in a Bamboo Grove,” mid-1630s, Kano Tan’.

Weekly Hubris

By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

“The Essential Lesson of Subtraction, By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2022—As though life, or fate, or chance were willful, conscious, possessed of intent, the lesson I was set (or set for myself) in 2018 began on 1 January, the day Dean and I left Florida, for good, to move to South Carolina. Dean had weathered pneumonia, and recovered fully, and I was, myself, well, happy, and looking forward to building a new house, settling into a new life, with gusto. Then, a routine blood test revealed—or did it?—that I was, appearances notwithstanding, critically ill. And, at this juncture in time, at this hurdle in the brief steeplechase that will comprise my individual life, there is a divergence in the narrative. For either the blood test, ordered by a new neurologist’s nurse, which an equally new-to-me primary care physician did not repeat, was inaccurate entirely . . . or not. Which, I will never know, nor will she. Inaccurate or not, it launched me, and a gaggle of specialists, into a revolving iatrogenic door which, over the course of the year, exposed me to a spurious diagnosis (Giant Cell Arteritis), (botched) cranial biopsies, a drug (prednisone) administered at doses my body could not tolerate, and a cascade of unimaginable physical destruction—one hip, one heart, one head of hair, one long-familiar-to-me body (and soul?). (Read more . . .)

Formation flying drones.

Flying-in-formation drones.

Won Over By Reality

“3D Lighting, By Tim Bayer

FAIRPORT New York(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2022— In the 1960s, in-the-sky light displays in the US was comprised of fireworks (“low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes”), which have been around since the Song dynasty (960–1279) in China. The 1980s saw the introduction of laser light shows. Lasers could draw 2D images on walls or other surfaces with light beams. The next frontier was crossed, however, with the use of drones flying in formation to create images. The state of drone technology at the end of 2021 was pretty impressive! The evolution of  drones-with-lights flying in formation has progressed to creating flying 3D images, and I’m looking forward to a time when I will be able to view such a large display in person. Here’s a video of what was accomplished in 2021. (Read more . . .)

Eisiminger Vietnamese “Boat People” awaiting rescue.

Vietnamese “Boat People” awaiting rescue.

Skip the B.S.

“Perilous Crossing, 1981: Saigon to Greenville, By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—For over 40 years as a writing teacher, I made keeping a free-write journal mandatory. I told my students at all levels that my main concern was for their journal writing to be unconstrained by any fear of my red pen. Unlike other work they did for me, the journal was not graded on correctness, only development; specifically, a half-page, college-ruled, single-spaced entry per class day. To this end, I gave them about five minutes at the beginning of each class to start, continue, or conclude an entry, but hoped they would be hooked by this endeavor, I winked and told them they were free to make entries of any length at any time they wished. (Read more . . .)

Cretan insurgents.

Cretan insurgents.

Polemicist on History

“Crete: Dress Rehearsal for Liberty,By Michael House, FRGS

LONDON England—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—Much has been written about the international Philhellenes who flocked to Greece in the 1820s to aid the Greeks in throwing off the yoke of the Ottoman Turks. A 20th-century parallel would be the International Brigades of the 1930s who went to Spain to fight Franco and his fascists. We associate those interventions with two great writers—Lord Byron and George Orwell. But little has been written about another group of brave Philhellenes who ran the Turkish naval blockade to join the insurrection on Crete in 1866-69. There are just a handful known by name: a Briton, several Frenchmen, a Hungarian colonel, an Italian soldier, and two American veterans of the Civil War (on the Union side, one need hardly add). (Read more . . .)

Bateman, Poet Jim Peterson. (Photo: Harriet Peterson.)

Poet Jim Peterson.

Speculative Friction

“The Poetry of Jim Peterson,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—Jim Peterson has published a novel—Paper CrownRed Hen Press, 2005—and seven full-length poetry collections, most recently The Horse Who Bears Me Away from Red Hen Press in 2020 and Speech Minus Applause from Press 53 in 2019. His collection of short stories, The Sadness of Whirlwinds, was published by Red Hen in November 2021. He has won The Benjamin Saltman Award for poetry from Red Hen Press, a poetry fellowship from the Virginia Arts Commission, and an Academy of American Poets award. His plays have been produced in regional and college theaters. He retired as Coordinator of Creative Writing at Randolph College in 2013 and remains on the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Omaha Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing. (Read more . . .)

“Dining Room in the Country,” 1913, by Pierre Bonnard. 

“Dining Room in the Country,” 1913, by Pierre Bonnard.

On the Other Hand

“Poetry from Image,” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—I see something out my front window—a white cat stuck in an opening halfway up a board fence. This space, where a board used to be, is about the right width for the cat to wedge there: uncomfortably, precariously, but not painfully. The cat is facing away from me, looking into the yard next door where she lives. This is a cat who is young, healthy but never seems to do very much. Along with several other neighborhood cats, she comes into our yard every day to stalk birds at the feeders. From what I’m able to tell, she’s a dud as a Great White Hunter. Not much else going for her either, like beauty, affection, personality, that sort of thing. She’s just blah. This is the first time I’ve seen her do anything worth mentioning. (Read more . . .)

Sculpture at Valea Morilor Lake, Moldova. (Photo: Dreamstime.com)

Sculpture at Valea Morilor Lake, Moldova.

The Art of Forgetting

“Both Testaments: Four Poems for The Providential Reader,” By Philip Nikolayev

BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—December 1, 2021—Editor’s Note: I have come late to Philip Nikolayev and to his poetry, but am honored and very pleased to include in this issue four poems by this bi-national, bilingual writer, our newest Contributor at Weekly Hubris. In an interview with Jack Alun for The Argotist Online, Nikolayev states, “Writing is largely spontaneous for me and improvisation and self-surprise are important parts of it. . . .  I write in hopes that what moves or interests or surprises me may also cause a similar response in someone else—the providential reader, in Mandelstam’s phrase, if you will. Often, I don’t know exactly where a poem—a certain kind of poem—leads me until the very end, where with some luck everything just happens to click sharply into focus.” (Read more . . .)

Matt Barrett, Leonard Cohen, and Parthenon Huxley, together but solo.

Matt Barrett, Leonard Cohen, and Parthenon Huxley.

Nothing At All to Write Home About 

“The World Moves in Mysterious Ways,” By Matt Barrett

CARRBORO North Carolina & KEA Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—Editor’s Note: Matt Barret and I go back a long way. To the 1980s, in Athens, Greece, where I sat in the Deputy Editor’s seat at The Athenian: Greece’s English Language Monthly, and Matt, before a rapt, usually-drinking audience, singing his own songs and accompanying himself on the guitar. We were young; he was younger. Unbeknownst to one another, we attended the Athens Community School in Halandri, one of my most almae of matres, and we were both American-Greeks, as opposed to Greek-Americans (there’s a difference). We argued peripatetically and gently, round and about Syntagma Square, about such things as A Course in Miracles—I thought it was bunk, and still do; he bought me a copy, at great expense—and whether or not he could write (well, he could, and can, but he could not, cannot punctuate, and we differed, back then, as now, about where the lines between the two are to be drawn and how important the latter is in light of the former). (Read more . . .)

Doff we now our gay apparel.

Doff we now our gay apparel.

West Side Stories

“The Fountain of Middle Age,”  By Ross Konikoff

HALLANDALE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—I may as well come clean and admit that we are currently in residence at our charming Florida co-op for an extended stay. We migrated in order to dip our collective toes into the dread waters of the snowbird lifestyle. So far, following three weeks of sleep, sun, sand, sex, sangria, and Sauvignon Blanc, along with a notable lack of carbon monoxide, the things that used to hurt, itch, cramp, bleed, grow where they shouldn’t, and then fall off inexplicably, no longer do so. We’ve discovered The Fountain of Middle Age! (Read more . . .)

Our vanishing ice. (Photo: Andrew Lovesey/Canadian Geographic.)

Our vanishing ice.

Planetary Hospice

“The Importance of Arctic Sea Ice to Life on Earth,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

POULTNEY Vermont—Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2021—I am questioned daily about my evidence-based conclusion that humans will be extinct in the near term. I do not desire this outcome. Yet, I suspect the most important existential threat we face in the near future is the loss of ice floating atop the Arctic Ocean, as I have mentioned in this space a few times (most recently in my August 2021 essay). I provide a brief summary below. The importance of Arctic sea ice cannot be overstated. President Niinistö of Finland said during a meeting with Former President Trump on August 28th, 2017, “If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe. That is reality.” Niinistö was summarizing the dire state of the environmental situation with his words of warning. I assume the president of Finland is not a scientist, although he is knowledgeable. As one consequence, I will turn to scientific sources that support and clarify Niinistö’s claim. (Read more . . .)

White- The beautiful-voiced Calliope.

The beautiful-voiced Calliope.

Wing + Prayer

“Grace Amidst Mess,” By The Reverend Robin White

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2019—The Blessing of the Animals, which so many congregations, worldwide, celebrate in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, is the perfect opportunity for us to tell the stories of our furry family members. Please indulge me as I tell you (briefly) the “tail” of my own muse and spiritual guide, my beloved Calliope. In Greek Mythology, Kalliopē, meaning “beautiful-voiced,” is the Muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry; so called due to the ecstatic harmony of her voice. Hesiod and Ovid considered her to be “Chief of all Muses.” (Read more . . .)

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