Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Liturgy of the Literary Diabolist: Creative Platypus



The Liturgy of the Literary Diabolist

I reached into the river and pulled out meaning
While Cratipus shook his head and Zeno
Scribbled figures in the sand
Sunlight glinted from a thousand facets
Each facet a world of infinite points
Untraversable by flesh and blood

Forging what we stole
Ta-tom-ta-tom
Forging what we stole
Ta-tom-ta-tom-tom-tom

Rape of the Earth, Apollo, Apollo!
Smintheus the destroyer.

What’s that Thom?
Still mooning over Jean Veudrel
Morte douze ans aux les Dardanelles?
Get up and write,
-Now there’s a lad-
All this pining will drive you mad.

And Jean Veudrel is dead
And Siegfried Sassoon is dead
And G.B. Smith is dead
Wiseman’s in the middle of the fleet
-Thank God-
There’s safety in numbers

I tried to tell you then
Don’t go that way
But I don’t think you really heard me
On the night when all the candles were lit
You were hell-bent on going
And the room was dark
I tried to tell you it’s not the sort of thing respectable people do
Consorting with spirits
I don’t know why I wasted my breath
For an hour’s conference with the Dead
Are you even listening?
I am

All the good boys are in their graves, Charles;
All the good boys who died in the mud and in the blood.
Can’t live up to them, can you?
-In the mud and blood.

As Hyperion to a satyr
You gods rule by beauty

And the spheres still turn in music
As when the worlds began
While Wotan rests upon his spear
Dreaming dreams of Man.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Busy Platypus and Das Rheingold (In Brief)

April is the cruelest month around here -but May brings graduation.  In the meantime, we've had school plays and parent education nights.  Banquets, theses, and recitals are all on their way.

In the midst of this hustle and bustle, we did find time last weekend to see Houston Grand Opera's production of Wagner's Das Rheingold.  It was the first Wagner piece I've seen and I have never experienced anything like it.  The Spanish company that put together the production pulled out all the stops and made a show that ran two-and-a-half-hours without intermission seem short.  The avant-guard staging with strong elements of cyber-punk left me with the feel that all the best parts of Final Fantasy VI and VII had suddenly been apotheosed.  And while we're on the topic of pop-entertainment, I'll add that like Jackson's ring cycle, I have to wait a whole year for the next installment.  Pop-culture aside, I was particularly impressed how the costumes, staging, and set design were able to underscore the themes of class, exploitation, environmentalism, and technology that dominate Wagner's story.  The disturbing images of factories destroying golden babies and fortresses made of human beings spoke loud and clear in a way that horned-helmets don't these days.  That's good, because given Houston's history with race, class, Big Oil, and human trafficking, Wagner's got some things the city needs to hear.   

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Calvin and Hobbes Revisited: The Platypus Reads Part CCLVIII

I think it's been four or five years since I last read any of Bill Watterson's amazing comic, Calvin and Hobbes.  Looking for some lighter fair to wedge into small moments of open time as the semester winds up, I decided it was time to remedy that situation.  I began with the first comic a few weeks ago (the one where Calvin catches Hobbes) and have been pushing forward as time allows.

The first spate of comics are more sparse and simple than their sumptuous descendants.  The world is still being sketched out.  Even in this opening phase, Calvin and Hobbes sparkles with a light that I've never seen anywhere else.  I have pages and pages yet to read, but I know that the strip will come to an end and that peculiar light will be extinguished.  It's the way things are in the world.  ...and I think that's a clue to where the sparkle comes from.  Watterson caught something in that web of pen and watercolors.  It's a little piece of reality no one else has ever been quite able to get at.  It flashes for a minute, and then it's gone.