December 2023
Vol. XIII, No. 11

December 2023

“Riverbed,” Acrylic on Panel, 2022, by Nola Parker
“Little River,” Acrylic on Panel, 2022, by Nola Parker

True myth may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry, and artistic renewal. The real mystery is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is. You look at it and it vanishes. You look at the Blond Hero—really look—and he turns into a gerbil. But you look at Apollo, and he looks back at you. The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about 50 years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. ‘You must change your life,’ he said. When true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life.

—Ursula K. Le Guin, from “Myth and Archetype in Science Fiction”

From the Publishing-Editor: Readers, note well, Hubris’s Poetry Editor, Claire Bateman, has a brilliant new collection of poems just out titled Wonders of The Invisible World (available to order here, from 42 Miles Press). On book tour and doing readings, Bateman will be away from us for several months though, in January, we will excerpt here poems from her new book. (Contributors Dr. Emily Hipchen, Don Schofield, and Michael Tallon also all have books out or coming out: stay tuned here for further details.) Our December 2023 issue opens with a meditation—on Bethlehem and Christmas Eve—by The Reverend Robin White. An important piece by Michael Tallon, of New York and Guatemala, is next, recounting lessons imparted to the author by his father. Please be sure to read Tallon’s Author’s Note, at the end of his essay, and join me in supporting his new book, Incompatible With Life: A Memoir of Grave Illness, Great Love, and Survival. Kathryn E. Livingston follows, filing from Upstate New York, where she has discovered that one can indeed go home again. This month, Helen Noakes’ memoir of 1980s Khartoum continues, as does Michael House’s review of Prince Harry’s autobiography, Spare. Dean Pratt, in a holiday installment of “Vinyl Tap,” counts off his favorite Christmas albums. Dr. Guy McPherson reviews two books of philosophy by contemporary feminist author, Sarah Bakewell. Then, the Publishing-Editor of Hubris, Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, closes out the year with a second portfolio of images from the Western Cycladic island of Serifos.

“Late Summer Nasturtium and Unmown Grass,” by Nola Parker, 2021.
“Late Summer Nasturtium and Unmown Grass,” by Nola Parker, 2021.

About the artist featured on our December 2023 Home Page: Nola Parker is a self-taught artist who lives and works in Vermont. For Parker, growing up, Vermont was a calming, reflective, and sometimes mystical space. This feeling of connectedness with nature is a driving force in her life and work. While her work may be viewed as an exploration and celebration of the natural world, it also functions as an outlet through which she defines herself. The landscape offers itself up as a mirror and, through her surroundings, she is able to feel out the boundaries of her existence, the spaces that form her unique personal geography. Influenced by memory and experience, she aims to create a universe that is both fantastical and familiar, picturing a place not through strict realism, but through its own personality, mood, or feeling. Her current body of work focuses on the New England landscape. (View Nola Parker’s 2023 solo show at the Wally Workman Gallery here; listen to the artist discuss her work on David Linneweh’s Studio Break Podcast here; take a virtual tour of her 2018 show here; and visit her website here.)

“Anguish,” by August Friedrich Albrecht Schenck, 1878.
“Anguish,” by August  Schenck, 1878.

Wing + Prayer

Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Has Been Cancelled,By The Reverend Robin White

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—December 2023—In 1984, I spent four months studying in Israel at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, which is beautifully situated atop a hill on the southern edge of Jerusalem, overlooking the Judean Hills and Bethlehem. It was an easy walk to Bethlehem and, during my stay there, I made several visits to an outdoor café in Manger Square for Turkish coffee and baklava. As Christmas drew near—“Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”—I eagerly awaited Christmas Eve in the square. Unless you have experienced the holy night spectacle in person, it is nearly impossible to convey what it is like: bedlam. (In fact, Bedlam is another name for Bethlehem: “Bethlem,” meaning, in Arabic, “House of Meat,” “House of Bread,” or even, perhaps, “House of War.”) (Read more . . .)

A ghostly view of the author’s teen bedroom.
Ghostly view of the author’s teen bedroom.

Words & Wonder

Home Again,By Kathryn E. Livingston

BOGOTA New Jersey—(Hubris)—December 2023—Last summer I went “home” from New Jersey to upstate New York and slept in my old bedroom, a room I haven’t slept in since my mother’s death more than two decades ago, in a house I haven’t lived in since I left for college in 1971. A series of circumstantial blips made it possible: my musician husband was playing with the New York City Ballet in Saratoga Springs, my nearby childhood home in Schenectady (now owned by my brother) wasn’t rented out to college students (this being summer break), and the idea of returning to the old homestead for two nights (even after it had been left in less than pristine shape by the previous semester’s Gen Z-ers) suddenly appealed to me. Plus, it was free of charge. Granted, Thomas Wolfe, it wasn’t the “same” home as the one I left. But my room was relatively unchanged—though the bed was different and my brother has painted the floors white. (Read more . . .)

The Tallon men.
The 20th-century Tallon men.

Fairly Unbalanced

An Ant, A Lesson & A Slipstream Through Time,By Michael Tallon

ANTIGUA Guatemala—(Hubris)—December 2023—When I was a little boy, our family took in a child named Manny for a summer. While I’d like to think that I understood the importance of heroic hospitality at a tender seven or eight years old, I did not. Manny was a jerk to me, and I did not like him. He lied about stuff and got me in trouble—or so I remember it, anyway. Then, one Sunday morning, we were at mass at St. Thomas Aquinas on the West Side of Binghamton, New York. All six of us were there—Mom, Dad, me, my older brother, Jay, and our younger brother, Ed, who was probably under three years old, and Manny. I never liked church. It was boring and stupid, and if not for the little wooden dowels you could pop out of the missalette rack with a carefully prizing fingernail, I would have lost my boyish mind altogether. (Read more . . .)

The White Nile.
The White Nile at Khartoum.

Waking Point

Khartoum: A Recollection, Part 3,By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Hubris)—December 2023—Last night’s heat was nothing compared to what assaulted me when we stepped out of the lobby onto a walkway leading to the cabanas. It felt as though something had slammed into me. My intake of breath earned a concerned glance from the manager and the architects, but I shook my head to indicate I was all right. “It’s a shock, that’s all,” I commented. The whitewashed cabanas were clustered in a grassy area. We were close enough to the Nile that I could smell the silt-filled water and recalled the river’s importance to the ancient Egyptians. “Whoever stays in these will have quite a view,” I commented, glancing towards the Nile. “Yes, but we discourage approaching the water,” the manager said. “Crocodiles.” “Just adds to the local color,” I quipped, earning a chuckle from the architects and a grim stare from the manger. (Read more . . .)

Spare, by Prince Henry, The Duke of Sussex.
Spare, by Prince Henry, The Duke of Sussex.


Prince Henry aka The Spare, Part 2,” By Michael House

KING’S SUTTON, Northants, England—(Hubris)—December 2023—We left our hero retraining as a helicopter pilot. An imbecile journalist had told the world (and the Taliban) where in Afghanistan Harry was stationed during his army service. So, he and those around him were in great danger and he had to be withdrawn. Life goes on. Harry gets his wings. He celebrates by going off to Botswana with his chums. With his brother William, he visits Lesotho on a charity visit, carrying on the AIDS work of his mother. A dilemma. Brother William announces he is about to get married. But a group of disabled veterans invite Harry to accompany them on their trek to the North Pole. Can he get back in time for the wedding? He goes on the trek, the last 200 miles to the Pole on foot. His penis gets frostbite, and we are told far more about this than we need to know. (Read more . . .)

Stan Kenton’s “Christmas Medley.”
“From the Creative World of Stan Kenton.

Vinyl Tap

Essential Jazz Listening: ‘Tis the Season,By Dean Pratt

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—December 2023—It seems that everyone, at one time or another, for better or worse, finds her- or himself in the studio recording a Christmas album. This December, it’s high time for a Vinyl Tap holiday post listing some of the best. I’ve collected Christmas albums for decades in order to have good Jazzy sounds to play once a year at holiday gatherings. Of my favorites, some are still available while some, unfortunately, are not. One of the very first Christmas albums I bought, and a special favorite of my mother’s, was recorded during February and March of 1961 at Goldwin Sound Stage 5, in Hollywood: “From the Creative World of Stan Kenton Comes . . . A Merry Christmas!” (Capitol Records T-1621) was scored for four trumpets (Dalton Smith, Bud Brisbois, Bob Rolfe, and Sanford Skinner); four mellophones (Dwight Carver, Gene Roland, Keith LaMotte, and Gordon Davison); four trombones (Bob Fitzpatrick, Jim Amlotte, Dave Wheeler, and Paul Heydorff) . . . (Read more . . .)

Sarah Bakewell, The British Library, London. (Photo: Free Thinker/E. Park.)
Sarah Bakewell, at the British Library.

Planetary Hospice

Preparing to Die: At the Existentialist Café,By Dr. Guy McPherson

BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—(Hubris)—December 2023—At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails introduced me to author Sarah Bakewell. The book, published in 2016, represents an overview of the philosophical work conducted by Jean-Paul Sartre and his polyamorous partner, Simone de Beauvoir, along with many other philosophers. The writings of Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Karl Jaspers, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and many others are critically evaluated by Bakewell in this capacious romp through the world of modern philosophy. If you seek an overview of philosophical writing with implications for your own life, this is the book for you. I suspect I appreciate At the Existentialist Café more than most readers. After all, my expansive reading of existential philosophers during the decade of the 1990s was critical to the development of my own, personal philosophical approach. After I took up my tenure-track faculty position at a major university in the United States, I began playing catch-up with philosophy. (Read more . . .)

(Photo: Elizabeth Boleman-Herring.)
Archaeological Museum holdings, Serifos.

Hapax Legoumenon

Serifos Island: A Throw of the Autumn Dice, Part 2,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—December 2023—What was most remarkable about Serifos for me was what the island has to offer . . . underwater. All this winter-to-come, with my eidetic sense memory (both gift and curse), I will be back, submerged in the clear West-Cycladic Aegean, among the octopuses, cuttlefish, Wide-eyed flounders, Ornate Wrasses, Saddled seabream, Mediterranean Damselfish (so matte-black they seem two-dimensional) and schools of tiny translucent sand smelt. The seas off Serifos, unlike Mykonian seas, are still vibrantly alive with flora and fearless fauna. One of the octopuses we saw was holed up in a rocky fastness just ankle-deep off Aghios Sostis and was to be found there for the duration of our three weeks on the island, too shallowly situated and canny to be noticed by spearfisherman foraging much farther afield. We spent as much time as we could in the water, given the exigencies of hiking and driving out and down to (and up from) many, many of Serifos’s 50-odd beaches. (Read more . . .)

The poet Richard Allen Taylor. (Photo: Alice Osborne.)
The poet Richard Allen Taylor.

Speculative Friction

The Poetry of Richard Allen Taylor,By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Hubris)—November 2023—Poet Richard Allen Taylor, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Armed and Luminous (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2016). Born but not raised in Charlotte, Taylor grew up in a nomadic Army family that eventually returned to North Carolina. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill in 1969, he entered the business world and held many jobs, but always got asked to edit the company newsletter regardless of his other responsibilities. He dabbled in poetry briefly in his 20s and 30s, but was in his 50s when he “got serious” about the genre, publishing his first collection of poems at age 57. (Read more . . .)

Pebble beach sculpture, Vroulia Beach. (Photo: Elizabeth Boleman-Herring.)
Pebble beach sculpture, Vroulia Beach.

Hapax Legoumenon

Serifos Island: A Throw of the Autumn Dice, Part 1,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—November 2023—My intention, this past September, was to make of my annual pilgrimage to Greece (my “other patritha,” or homeland), an oxymoronic “return to a place I had never been.” After six decades of living in and visiting Greece, it is difficult for me to find a destination where I have never set foot, but Serifos was just such a place. Before we disembarked this fall, I had “called in there” on the Western Cycladic ferry run from Piraeus, en route to other islands such as Kythnos, Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Ios, and Santorini. In fact, I had not stayed on any of the West Cyclades but Santorini, though I had observed the islands from the decks of ferries on numerous occasions, always regretting that I had no time to tarry. (Read more . . .)

The Pharaoh’s crook and flail (heka and nekhakha) were symbols of authority. The shepherd’s crook represented kingship and the flail represented the fertility of the land.
The Pharaoh’s crook and flail.

Waking Point

Khartoum: A Recollection, Part 2,By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Hubris)—November 2023—The elevator took its time descending from an upper floor. When its doors slid open, they revealed three passengers, standing against the back wall. Tall, heavy-weight-wrestler large, they were dressed all in black: T-shirts, trousers, running shoes, and baggy hoodies, the hoods pulled low over their foreheads. Their dark eyes scanned me suspiciously. I thought of sentinels for some reason, entered, and politely bade them, “Good morning.” Expecting no response, I got none. When we lurched to a stop at the lobby, I swiftly made my way towards the café, and hearing the elevator group following me, reasoned that I was being foolish in feeling uneasy in their presence. They were just guests, nothing more, and it was time for breakfast, after all. (Read more . . .)

Spare, by Prince Henry, The Duke of Sussex.
Spare, by Prince Henry, The Duke of Sussex.


Prince Henry aka The Spare,By Michael House

KING’S SUTTON, Northants England—(Hubris)—November 2023—The poet was writing in 1930. But according to Harry Windsor, journalists are as despicable as ever. The leitmotif of his memoir is that the British newspapers and their parasites, the paparazzi, destroyed his mother, Diana Spencer, and are doing their utmost to destroy him and his new wife Meghan Markle. One of the starkest and most memorable scenes in the book is the description of paparazzi, having chased Diana to her death in a Paris tunnel, photographing her in the car in which she lies dying. Harry’s loathing for these creatures is wholly understandable and justified. Diana Spenser dominates the book. One might have thought that Harry was the only child ever to have lost his mother, so often is she referenced. (Read more . . .)

Apple pie with cinnamon baked on 14 March 2011, Pi Day, Lublin, Poland. (Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons/Matman from Lublin.)
Apple pie with cinnamon baked on 14 March 2011, Pi Day.

Skip the B.S.

“Even & Odd: Numbers,By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Hubris)—November 2023—The only reason I would eat pie on any given 14 March at 1:59 a.m. and again at 1:59 p.m. is that I love a good pie. (Of course, I’m alluding to pi, the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter, namely 3.14159 ∞). I also love reading about the pi-eating Chudnovsky brothers who built a home computer and calculated pi beyond two billion digits despite the fire risks to their Manhattan apartment building. To the Chudnovskys, pi, the speed limit nature placed on light, the universe’s upper and lower temperature limits, the infinitude of prime numbers, and the Pythagorean theorem (among others) are evidence of God’s infinite mind, for all of these were present long before humans learned of them. (Read more . . .)

I’m the guy in the back row who forgot his hat.
“I’m the guy in the back row . . . .”

Nothing at All to Write Home About

“Talking Greek Baseball,By Matt Barrett

CARRBORO North Carolina & KEA Greece—(Hubris)—November 2023—Following baseball in Greece these days is much easier than it used to be, with most games streamed live over the internet—as long as you don’t mind the game starting at 2 a.m. But it wasn’t always so easy. Two weeks to go before my family moved from the US to Greece for a year and my thoughts that day were on baseball. I am a long-time Mets fan, ever since my father and grandfather converted me from the Yankees when they took me to a spanking-new Shea Stadium somewhere around 1963 during the New York World’s Fair. My favorite player was Ed Kranepool, who wore the same Number 7 as my previous New York Yankees favorite player, Mickey Mantle. (Read more . . .)

Michael and Mosca. 
Michael and Mosca.

Fairly Unbalanced

Michael, Mercedes & Mosca,By Michael Tallon

ANTIGUA Guatemala—(Hubris)—November 2023—Facebook reminded recently me that, ten years ago, this little bug came into my world. She would go on to teach me invaluable lessons about love and identity. Shortly before we met, my bestie and roommate, Mercedes, started making noise about wanting to get a dog—a decision about which I was truly ambivalent. While we had had a dog for a few years when I was a kid, I wasn’t raised with them, and, to be completely honest, I felt that choosing to cohabitate with another species was a little weird. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, I just didn’t get the attraction. So, I said to Mercedes, “It’s fine with me, so long as you fill it and empty it.” She was used to me being an idiot, thank God. (Read more . . .)

Buddhist priests entering the sea in the Tairausuisho district of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, to pray for those swept away by the tsunami of March 11, 2011. (Photo: Japan Times/KYODO.)
Buddhist priests entering the sea.

Planetary Hospice

“At Least We Will Have Tried,By Dr. Guy McPherson

BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—(Hubris)—November 2023—From Axios on 7 August 2023 comes a story with this headline: “The climate wrecking ball striking food supply.” Here’s the lede: “Extreme weather events and our warming planet are primed to strike commodities and the food supply like never before.” The paper in Axios quotes Dr. Roderick M. Rejesus, agricultural economist at North Carolina State University: “The literature is pretty clear” that if the observed increased frequency of extreme weather events continues, it will hurt crop yields in particular. “It’s possible we could face unprecedented market impacts if we don’t do anything in terms of mitigation and adapting.” As usual, “market impacts” are an important factor (as opposed to survival, for example). Moving on, the paper in Axios indicates “that human actions may have rendered the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 o C target, and possibly even its 2 o C benchmark infeasible.” Considering we have already passed the 2 o C benchmark, I’d say adhering to it is infeasible. (Read more . . .)

“Punks on Russian Hill?” by Ted Jouflas.
“Punks on Russian Hill?” by Ted Jouflas.

Desperado Shindig

R.I.P.  S.F.A.I.,By Ted Jouflas

PHOENIX Arizona—(Hubris)—September/October 2023—My Alma Maters are predeceasing me. I believe that this story was set into motion while I was still attending high school in the Rocky Mountains. The school itself was an early-20th-century building in a Victorian Gothic style, made of granite, glass, marble, wood, and brick. Five stories tall, the elegant structure was set back from a boulevard in the middle of expansive grounds with numerous large trees. In the very center of the building was an auditorium, ensconced like a pearl in an oyster, having more in common with a small opera house than a setting for the tedious assemblies and high school plays we suffered through in there. The stage had layers of floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains, and that was exactly where some kid decided to set the fire late one night, one week before summer. They never caught who actually did it. (Read more . . .)

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