|. . . Bunnies|
|. . . 1999-07-04|
The mural covering one wall of the Noe Valley cafe depicts smug colorfully clothed peasants picking (and, for unclear reasons, stomping) red coffee beans. All their feet are bare except for one Dorothy-Lamour-lookalike picker wearing a pair of stylish but sensible shoes. A rich thin woman and her four-year-old leave the cafe's toilet, the child clutching a new plush bunny. The woman says something to the child and asks me if I was waiting. I gesture assentingly. She says something else, more crossly, to the child, takes the toy away, and gestures with it towards me: "You want it?" I'm confused. She shakes the bunny at me impatiently: "Don't you want the key?" Holding it by its ear, I see the restroom key attached to a ring at its navel.
|. . . 1999-07-26|
|For the last couple of summers, it's been Halloween. Now it's gators, sharks, and the Maryland Chainsaw Massacre. When is Hollywood going to do a truly scary retread?|
|. . . 1999-10-18|
Last year, the Comics Journal split its double-sized hundredth issue between Chris Ware (proprietor of the well-griefed Acme Novelty Library) and Charles Schulz (still the sole artist on Peanuts). Critical wisdom, repeated several times in the course of the magazine, is that this provocative pairing works for only the first half of Schulz's career, and that by the mid-1970s the final sparks of viciousness and bitterness were leached from Peanuts, leaving it a thin collection of very soft gags.
Well, it's true that Schulz doesn't kick Charlie Brown around much any more. But there's still plenty of crummy mood left in the old guy, and for the last couple of decades, it's been channeled through a character left unmentioned by the Comics Journal: Spike, the beagle hermit who looks a little like Dashiell Hammett.
Only a week or two ago, he featured in a downright Warean moment: a single-panel strip of a desert thunderstorm, with Spike, small and centered, braced against a cactus and accompanied only by the thought-balloon "Mom!" (Or, as Ware would've put it, "M-m-mom?")
And my favoritest Peanuts of all time ever was a 1980s Sunday Spike -- I paraphrase from memory so's not to stir up the lawyers:
(Spike looks at cactus) "Did you ever hear how it was that I moved to the desert? When I was very young, almost a puppy, I lived in a house with a family. One day the family had a birthday party in their yard. A guest saw a rabbit and told me to chase it. And then everyone was shouting for me to chase it. I was excited and wanted to do the right thing, and so I chased the rabbit. The rabbit ran into the street and was run over. And so I came here, where I can never hurt anyone again." (Pause) "I've never told anyone that story." (Looks at cactus) "I guess I still haven't."I think of that punchline a lot... it seems like it's hit something essential about fiction, and criticism, and autobiography -- maybe about all writing for publication.... "I've never told anyone that story. I guess I still haven't."
|. . . 2000-02-27|
|. . . 2000-10-30|
|. . . 2001-11-19|
"The collapse of liberal denominations promises an increasing polarisation between consistent secularists and devout believers."Empty chatter about "the Christian West" or "the capitalist West" fogs perception, as universalizing abstractions tend to do: when we need to know the weather, we're told that clouds look like bunnies (or at least real clouds do). But what makes this particular parochialism dangerous rather than merely annoying is its easy slide into racism and aggression.
The reader a-thirst for closer analysis of Rise-and-Fall Clash-of-Culture rhetoricians might enjoy Robert Musil's 1921 essay, "Mind and Experience: Notes for Readers Who Have Eluded the Decline of the West":
For there is a favorable prejudice -- I want to use the word spiritual, let us say then in spiritual circles, but I mean in literary circles -- toward offenses against mathematics, logic, and precision. Among crimes against the spirit, these are happily counted among the honorable political ones; the prosecutor actually finds himself in the role of the accused. Let us be generous, then: Spengler is speaking approximately; he works with analogies, and these are always right in some sense or other. If an author is bent on referring to concepts by the wrong names or even confusing them with each other, one can eventually get used to it. But some key symbol, some kind of ultimately unequivocal connection between thought and word, must be sustained. Even this is lacking. The examples I have adduced, without having to look very hard, are only a selection among many; they are not errors of detail, but a way of thinking.
There are lemon-yellow butterflies, and there are lemon-yellow Chinese. In a certain sense, then, one can say that the butterfly is the winged, middle-European, dwarf Chinese. Butterflies and Chinese are both familiar as images of sexual desire. Here the thought is formulated for the first time of the previously unrecognized commonality between the great ages of lepidopteral fauna and Chinese culture. That butterflies have wings and the Chinese do not is only a superficial phenomenon. If ever a zoologist had understood anything about the ultimate and deepest ideas of technology, it would not have been left to me to be the first to disclose the significance of the fact that butterflies did not invent gunpowder precisely because the Chinese had done so already. The suicidal predilection of certain kinds of nocturnal moths for bright light is a relic of this morphological connection to Sinology, a connection hard to explain in terms of everyday reason.
It really makes no difference what it is that is to be proved by such means.
|. . . 2003-06-21|
|The Flopsy Bunnies dreamt that their mother was turning them over in bed. They stirred a little in their sleep, but still they did not wake up.|
Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.