Mountain Home …

Brothers and Sisters,
We danced in the sunlight all summer and stood in stunned awe by the autumn brilliance. But now, It’s Coming. Soon all the leaves will fly away. The season of the Gloaming, when the Irish black dog of depression can come shit on your doorstep, when the duskiness at 4PM can lead one to contemplating single malts or Baja beaches, when facing 
another long winter challenges our fiction of being High Altitude Heros. But just at this juncture of seasons, of our lives, we pull down from a top shelf David Hinton’s Mountain Home,  The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China. 

Many to most of the poems, as was the aesthetic of that form, deal with this time of autumnal change and the reflection it offers to those who choose to wander in wilderness. A deep gasho to sensi Jerry Roberts for offering up a selection of these ancient poems as this time of The Gloaming ensues.

Roshi Edgar Boyles

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Hsieh Ling-yün (385 – 433)

Mountain Home … The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China

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Brothers and Sisters,
We danced in the sunlight all summer and stood in stunned awe by the autumn brilliance. But now, It’s Coming. Soon all the leaves will fly away. The season of the Gloaming, when the Irish black dog of depression can come shit on your doorstep, when the duskiness at 4PM can lead one to contemplating single malts or Baja beaches, when facing 
another long winter challenges our fiction of being High Altitude Heros. But just at this juncture of seasons, of our lives, we pull down from a top shelf David Hinton’s Mountain Home,  The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China. 
  

Crédito total, Edgar Boyles
David Hinton

Many to most of the poems, as was the aesthetic of that form, deal with this time of autumnal change and the reflection it offers to those who choose to wander in wilderness. A deep gasho to sensi Jerry Roberts for offering up a selection of these ancient poems as this time of The Gloaming ensues.

Roshi Edgar Boyles

~~~

T’ao Ch’ien (365-427)

Cita del miércoles

We sometimes underestimate how uncomfortable it can be to honestly face what the Buddha called the three marks of reality: the impermanent, unreliable, and uncontrollable nature of everything.

crédito total, Edgar Boyles

THOMAS MCGUANE ON THE AMERICAN WEST ~ The New Yorker

The author discusses “Not Here You Don’t,” his story from the latest issue of the magazine.

By Deborah Treisman

October 11, 2021

In your story “Not Here You Don’t,” a man, Cary, takes his father’s ashes back to the ruins of the family’s old homestead in Montana and reflects on his family’s past: the original rancher was his great-grandfather; his grandfather lost the ranch and became an embittered small-town projectionist and salesman; his father got out by enlisting as a pilot in the Vietnam War. You live in Montana most of the time. Were you drawing on details from local history?

Thomas McGuane.
Photograph by Alberto Cristofari / Contrasto / Redux

Yes. The scenario is quite commonplace, I think. There’s always someone around with war experience. I used to have brothers-in-law who’d served in Vietnam. In the valley where I live, I recall there being veterans from at least three wars, maybe four, in a very small population, at the same time. This seems odd for a country that is almost always at war but hasn’t won one in seventy years.

The title of the story, which doesn’t actually appear in the story, is an idiom that indicates not belonging or not being allowed entrance. How does it tie into this story?

It’s a cipher for our dystopia, our detachment. The Carole King line often rings in my head: “Doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore?” It’s nobody’s fault; it’s impossible.

Cary encounters a local landowner who doesn’t want to allow him access to the land where his family used to live and then has his car towed. Why is it so important to the man to keep Cary out?

This is one type of landowner in a changing pattern. It is unlikely that he pays local taxes, votes, or raises children in Montana. Some of the state’s largest landowners are Texans. I’ve had a long romance with Montana, but it’s one I find harder to grasp every year. It used to be a state with a moderate government, where it was possible to wander around in a socially temperate atmosphere. Mike Mansfield exemplified those times. The place is now ruled by a far-right, intolerant state government, absentee owners, and anti-wildlife resource management. There’s an obsession with trespassing, though it’s not quite up to the standards of Texas, whose ideas about private property would look like mental illness anywhere else. Each Montanan may now kill ten wolves a year. Little attention is paid by state agencies to a steeply declining fish population. The reintroduction of buffalo is fought with irrational fears and hypocrisy. Summers are smoke filled. Guess why.

Cary doesn’t express a lot of emotion while carrying out his errand, but he is exhausted and paralyzed afterward, has trouble restarting his normal life. What causes that reaction?

I think he is stoic and habitually defers painful matters until he finds a better time to respond. His father is dead, his love life is uncertain, and he can’t quite figure out how he ended up working in a corporation, three jumps from an old agrarian world. He’s not nostalgic; he’s bewildered.

You trace the trajectory of several generations of this family: from the cowboy rancher, to the disaffected son, to the military pilot who becomes an oil geologist, to Cary, who works a corporate job, sees a therapist, and has a favorite breakfast spot. An all-American story?

It’s getting to be! Unfamiliar forces dislodge us, and we resort to defensive perimeters. Here in Montana, it might be four friends, two bars, the Carnegie library, and a place to fish. It’s the self-imposed isolation of people who no longer feel they understand their fellow-citizens.

Cary’s grandmother gave birth to his father and then “vamoosed,” never to be heard from again; Cary’s mother, a former Miss Arkansas, is prone to alcoholic despair; Cary has divorced his wife, and uses a bottle of vodka to get the hostess of his small-town B. and B. into bed. Why are the connections between women and the men of Cary’s family so fraught?

I grew up not far from a military base, where a world of rock-star fighter pilots, hot wives, and booze challenged the stability of many marriages. The vodka/hostess/bed episode is so gruesome it’s hard to think that either party got anything out of it that they wanted. More likely, they got something they’ll make sure they never get again. It’s what Ezra Pound called the eternal failure to achieve a lasting nirvana through “the twitching of three abdominal nerves.” A common discovery of the hookup generation is that loveless sex isn’t even fun. It’s desperate and looks funny.

There are the seeds here for an epic novel. Why compact it into just over three thousand words?

I hope that those words can do what a novel might have done. Maybe readers interested in my stories will remember them as they would remember a novel, with their own concordance of characters and unifying themes. The short story is a cruel little metier and a poor choice for anyone hoping to conceal his or her faults as a writer. Reading stories can make reading novels harder, when you encounter the wind blowing through their longueurs like a cold day in the Great Basin. Randall Jarrell’s reported definition of the novel as a “prose narrative of some length with something wrong with it” points to a capacity of the novel but not of the short story. In this, the short story is more like a play: a play with five dead minutes is a dead play.

LATINA NOVELISTS ON LIVING WITH (AND WRITING IN) TWO LANGUAGES ~ NPR

September 26, 20219

FELIX CONTRERAS

~~~ LISTEN· 38:12 ~~~

Novelists Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros do not have much in common — their personal histories, writing styles and subject matter all differ — but what they do share is a towering presence as icons in the world of arts and letters. 

But they also received outsized recognition for their first works, published just a few years apart: Allende’s breakthrough magic realism novel La Casa de Los Espiritus was published in Argentina in 1982 (later translated and published in English as TheHouse of the Spirits in 1985); Cisneros published The House on Mango Street, her Chicana realism novel, in 1984. 

This week, we celebrate those differences in two wide-ranging conversations centered around their recently published books: Allende’s newest memoir, The Soul of a Woman, and Cisneros’ bilingual tale of ex-pat Latinas in Paris, Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo. 

But, as often happens during conversations with highly creative minds, the conversations touch on deeper philosophical matters: the role of women in Latino cultures, living and writing with two languages, and why you kill off the handsome male character by page 112.

BOB DYLAN, ‘DON’T FALL APART ON ME TONIGHT (VERSION 2)’ ~ NYT

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“Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight (Version 2)” from the latest deep dive into the Bob Dylan archives comes with a video capturing him in the studio. Credit…Vevo

“Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight (Version 2)” is from the latest deep dive into the Bob Dylan archives, the five-CD “Springtime in New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 1980-1985.” The track is similar in feel — though full of Dylan’s improvisatory variations — to the take that appeared on “Infidels” in 1983, with a new mix that dials back the unfortunate 1980s drum sound. Dylan had a superb studio band, with the Jamaican team of Sly (Dunbar) and Robbie (Skakespeare) on drums and bass, and a conversational interplay between Mick Taylor (formerly of the Rolling Stones) on slide guitar and Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) on electric guitar. It’s not the most radical discovery in the set — which also includes rarities like “Enough Is Enough” and “Yes Sir, No Sir” — but it arrives with live footage of the sessions, a rare glimpse of Dylan in motion in the studio.

JON PARELES

Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His MindJune 12, 2020

ON KILLING TROUT ~ HATCH

Fish are food, not friends

Killing trout is easy. The actual act, at least. I use a four-inch Mora knife for all my trout work, and even its light birch handle has plenty of heft for the job. For a hand-span length trout, one or two sharp raps above the eyes triggers that electric death-shudder, the final sparks of current, and the trout is perfectly limp in hand for the rest of the cleaning process. No twitches, no gill movement, nothing. If I’m lucky there’s some wild mint along the streambank to wrap the fish in before sliding it into my creel. 

But then the killing of trout is not easy. It’s a troubling contradiction. To admire the dark gold flanks of a brown trout just moments from its undercut home, with flashes of blue and pearl on its gills and the starscape of black and red spots, unique to that fish alone, never before so arranged and never again to appear — it’s hard to take all that in and then whack it with the handle of a knife. Especially after a few decades in the fly fishing world.

As a kid, I was taught that fishing is a search for “keepers.” But upon buying my first fly rod at the smartass age of sixteen, I sought out other ideas. I traded traditional hook and bullet rags for fly fishing magazines, which included no photos of dead fish and no trout recipes. Through the transition from tackle box to fly vest, I omitted the old J. Marttiini Rapala filet knife as finally as a mayfly leaves behind its nymphal shuck. I had evolved beyond it. Keep ‘em wet, I cried, pinching down all my barbs, pretending I didn’t notice the arterial blood or torn mandibles of badly-hooked fish that I insisted upon releasing.

There is perhaps no more delusional angler on the water than the one who catches and releases a hundred trout in a weekend, admonishes a worm-dunker for keeping five, and then pats himself on the back for being a good conservationist. I’ve been that guy. 

I’m a hunter. I grew up on venison and have killed my own since I was old enough to do so. It’s a lifestyle that’s questioned a lot these days, and the most thoughtful dialogue on the topic is led by modern conservationist-hunter-thinkers like Steven Rinella, Hank Shaw, and others. Their work focuses on the basic why of hunting: the ethical acquisition of high-quality meat. 

The concept is not new, and those guys will tell you that. It is older than humankind. So old, and so deep, in fact, that my hunting elders never really spoke of it. They grew up during the depression on the edge of the great boreal forest, and talking about meat being the reason for hunting would be like talking about oxygen being reason for breathing. 

But today the world is a different place entirely and we must now talk about why we personally choose to kill animals. And think about it on our own. Challenge ourselves. And when we do, we find that it dovetails well with ongoing narratives about sustainable agriculture, landscape ecology, human health, and food ethics. Or it should.

And it’s within this discussion that catch-and-release fishing begins to lose its self-righteous shine. Conservation writer Todd Tanner says in his tense Seeking Absolution that the whole idea of catch and release “looks awfully tenuous, as if we are a legion of cats playing with a similar number of unhappy mice.” Even if catch and release was always harmless to the fish — which it is definitely not — it’s still questionable. 

“At the same time, though,” Tanner adds, “I think it’s important to point out that we are cats.” We are meat-eaters, and fish are made of meat. By definition, catch and release is us playing with our food. 

And fish are good food. No, not the grocery store’s dry-skinned bug-eyed farm-plumped rainbow trout, or the translucent, tasteless tilapia fillets, or the ethically-risky origin-unknown salmon. Instead consider these eight-to-ten-inch wild brown trout, lean and cold, delicious and nutritious, legally and ecologically sustainable. More than sustainable. On some streams, taking a few home is arguably ecologically beneficial. 

On some streams, of course. It’s probably too obvious to mention, but not all fisheries can sustain catch-and-keep and not every angler can keep every fish they catch. Moderation in all things. 

Because while food is the point, it’s not necessary to fill the freezer. To me, the act of converting fish to food strengthens my connection to the streams that I love, to my own past, to my reasons for fishing in the first place. It takes the experience beyond the technical challenge, the artistry of the cast and the flies. The blood on my hands reminds me of what’s really at stake out there. It’s never a game for the fish, even if I let them go. 

So I take my little Mora knife with me on most Driftless trips these days. Bigger fish would probably require a harder hit and a bigger knife, but I don’t kill the bigger fish. I release them. I draw the line at one hand-span, one and a half years of growth. Bigger and smaller I release. I still release many more fish than I kill. 

The line is arbitrary, gray. I know it. For now, I’m just trying to own the contradiction.