Menelaus The Old Goat

September 30, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard; all quotations taken from “A Tribute to Freud” by Hilda Dolittle; Image by Brian McNearney.


To and For

of Helen & Penelope

And of the women he put them in respect to himself; and he said the city was for them and he left them behind in his city behind walls and each time he returned from the ocean he examined their teeth, examining their mouths, and of the horse he called a beast, and of the dog he made himself master and the stars he colonized with mathematics defining boundaries and bounds.
For thousands upon thousands of years, Odysseus has wandered through the Grecian islands, forever lost and found and lost again. Confined to the Mediterranean Sea, it may as well have been infinite.

Meneleaus the old goat
Menelaus King of Sparta
Menelaus’ Theorem

Ptolemy used Menelaus’ theorem as the basis for his spherical trigonometry in the Almagest. He set the times and signs of the zodiac, or so says Pappus.
“This little-papa, Papalie, the grandfather.”
Thousands upon thousands of years later HD, formerly Hilda Dolittle, sat on a couch, she stared ahead with cramps in her abdomen. She unwove her fortune to Freud.
“Again, I feel, lying on this couch that sort of phosphorescence is evaporating from my forehead and I can almost breathe this anodyne, this ether.
“Joan and Dorothy are rivals. Subsitutes for my mother’s love. It does not matter who they are.
“In my dream, there is a neat ‘professional’ woman with Lawrence and there is a group of children. Is the ‘professional’ woman a sort of secretary? I acted for a short time as a secretary to my father.
“I envied these women who have written memoirs of D.H. Lawrence, feeling that they had found him some sort of guide or master.
“I was thinking about what you said, about its not being worthwhile to love an old man of seventy-seven.’ I had said no such thing and told him so.

“The Professor asked me to interpret the dream of the blackbirds.
“Freud said the man in the dream had given me womanhood, so he charmed the birds.”
Before she knew any man, Helen broke her hymen with a hairbrush; exploring interior architectures. As a woman, when the city gaped at her congiegal bedclothes, she was quite proud.
“We saw the chapel high on the slopes where it was reputed Zeus had been born, or nursed. The Professor said that we two met in our love of antiquity. He said his little statues and images helped stabilize the evanescent idea, or keep it from escaping altogether. I asked is he had a Cretan serpant-goddess. He said, ‘No.’ I said that I had known people in London who had had some connection with Crete at one time, and that I might move heaven and earth, and get him a serpent-goddess. He said, ‘I doubt if even you could do that.’”
The old goat sat slumped in a chair after dinner. After the war. His head nodded and snapped and nodded again. Until his wife the woman his wife the dangerous woman she wiped the corners of her mouth, rose and elegantly wheeled him away.
Before you could write the rape scene, you wrote about Penelope’s unweaving. You had to let yourself undo yourself
Surprisingly absent for being the cause, Helen makes only a few appearances in both the war and Odysseus’ consciousness. His conception of the war the same as its reality, for the way he recalls all things—memory traces a cool finger along the inside of his arm, the cleft of his back, arousing and pornographic—raising goose flesh, perplexity, dispair. Helen the signifier, the collective unconscious.

The City Opened And Took Me

She walked around the giant wooden horse. She walked around its periphery, in the moonlight, from within the city walls. Stooping a little, she pressed her nose to a fetlock and breathed deep the smell of knotted pine. She breathed deep and whether by smell or sense she sensed the men inside. The night air was cooler than the horse’s side for the side of the hollow horse was full of men who had to breathe and in breathing took up oxygen and in breathing released carbon and in releasing carbon raised the temperature inside the belly of the horse, thereby warming the wood. She chuckled at the thought of a centaur.

Helen put her hand on the side of the wooden horse. It was warm.

The sand on the ground was cool by the moon and it stole into her sandals, cooling her toes and she remembered the sounds of her old life, she remembered the sea. She remembered the dottering old goat in the yard. It always remarked on its face in the  scullery window.

The City Opened And Took Me

Helen has the most least freedom.
Gods aside, she fled the old man with a handsome boy. She stole away, adventuress, inside of a ship. She wore a mask. She wore a hat. She dressed as a boy on board the ship. She made jokes with Paris and in the night he fucked her like a boy it was fun

The men came after her because they needed an excuse to do something.

Helen was not duplicitous so much as she was a child.
It was the very thing they: Menelaus, Nestor, Ajax, Paris, Odysseus, Agammemnon, Hektor, Aias etc., loved about her.
Her beauty was her character her flashing eyes her ecstatic mouth her life her life her life participating in every curve angle cleft of her body mind mood
At home Penelope struggled to maintain a position in the world. From within a city, from within a house, from within a family. She assumed her role, abandoned, threatened. By way of defense she inserted herself in a fairy tale.
She wove a shroud for Laertes—undoing it and undoing time and undoing her work; whether to bide her time before Odysseus came home or
“There was that same theme, that same absolute and exact minute when everything changed on a small passenger boat (as I remember) on the way to Greece. At an exact moment, by clock time, on an exact map, on the way to the Pillars of Hercules, on a boat that was bound for the port of Athens, there was a ‘crossing the line.’ I, the narrator of this story, did not know I had crossed the line.”
Helen walked around the Trojan Horse in the moonlight; the guards watched her. She laughed out loud. She clapped her hands. She talked to herself. Incantations.
The men inside had not heard a woman’s voice in years years years in ten years—Helen called them by name, imagining what their wives would say, the women banished banned from the horse, these pages, this war, Helen pretended to say what they would say. A marvelous game.
Listening to the vulnerable crouching men inside in the darkness in a womb they fashioned all themselves.


Menelaus : At that moment you came up to us; some god who wished well to the Trojans must have set you on to it and you had Deiphobus with you. Three times did you go all round our hiding place and pat it; you called our chiefs each by his own name, and mimicked all our wives -Diomedes, Odysseus, and I from our seats inside heard what a noise you made. Diomedes and I could not make up our minds whether to spring out then and there, or to answer you from inside, but Ulysses held us all in check, so we sat quite still, all except Anticles, who was beginning to answer you, when Ulysses clapped his two brawny hands over his mouth, and kept them there. It was this that saved us all, for he muzzled Anticles till Minerva took you away again.

She drugged the man she drugged the goat.
Repossessed she returned a quiet woman
Sleeping potions.

In Penelope’s wandering tapestry, she sp n a room fu l of flax, the f ax of h r hair into the tap st y, she spun s cr t pa sage , t oughts, she s un t e wo an raped by a sw n  he spun the co rse of her v sions she sp n a g lden ap le, her s cr t contempl tive life, plac d prec rio sly between fidelity and misg vi g, sense a d n nsense sh s un th cl th for La rtes to keep him f   v r you g, h r protect r a d tter ng o d goa she spun a d her f ngers kn t the c ords fi rcely and s e sp n and in th n ght th re was  nly  he s und  f t e l om as in the n ght of HD’s  house t ere  as o ly  he so nd of a c ock as in the n ght H l n c lled  ut t  m n, b rr wing t e voic s of fo got en w v s, as t e sirens ca led out a   he c ty c lled  ut as t e z di c call d o t as p rallel lines called out to one another and met at last at l   t at l st a  d f r ver th  hy t r c  l  wand  i g w mb  om , t e worl und ne w th the s n in th c nt r n t man n t man  ot  man w   b t e w rld r und a l st at la

posted by caroline picard

Chicago-based Young Adult Author James Kennedy will read at The Parlor

Tuesday, October 6, at 7pm

James Kennedy is the author of The Order of Odd-Fish (Random House Delacorte Press), a fantastical young adult comedy that was one of the Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children in 2008. Booklist praised Odd-Fish as “hilarious . . . readers with a finely tuned sense of the absurd are going to adore the Technicolor ride” and Time Out Chicago described it as “a work of mischievous imagination and outrageous invention.”

James lives with his wife and daughter in Chicago. You can follow his activities at

Following his 30 minute reading, James will take questions from the audience.

As always, the event will be recorded and published on-line for your repeated listening pleasure on iTunes and at

All readings take place at 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor

For more information, please visit or contact

The Parlor is a monthly reading series, sponsored by Bad At Sports Podcast.

Jung Book Found

September 28, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

The New York Times published an interesting article about Jung–It’s funny because the article begins like a Dan Brown novel and yet…

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

// //

Published: September 16, 2009

This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.” Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn’t know the book’s vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome

And yet between the book’s heavy covers, a very modern story unfolds. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure — taking place entirely in his head — he finds it again.

Some people feel that nobody should read the book, and some feel that everybody should read it. The truth is, nobody really knows. Most of what has been said about the book — what it is, what it means — is the product of guesswork, because from the time it was begun in 1914 in a smallish town in Switzerland, it seems that only about two dozen people have managed to read or even have much of a look at it.

Of those who did see it, at least one person, an educated Englishwoman who was allowed to read some of the book in the 1920s, thought it held infinite wisdom — “There are people in my country who would read it from cover to cover without stopping to breathe scarcely,” she wrote — while another, a well-known literary type who glimpsed it shortly after, deemed it both fascinating and worrisome, concluding that it was the work of a psychotic.

So for the better part of the past century, despite the fact that it is thought to be the pivotal work of one of the era’s great thinkers, the book has existed mostly just as a rumor, cosseted behind the skeins of its own legend — revered and puzzled over only from a great distance.

Which is why one rainy November night in 2007, I boarded a flight in Boston and rode the clouds until I woke up in Zurich, pulling up to the airport gate at about the same hour that the main branch of the Union Bank of Switzerland, located on the city’s swanky Bahnhofstrasse, across from Tommy Hilfiger and close to Cartier, was opening its doors for the day. A change was under way: the book, which had spent the past 23 years locked inside a safe deposit box in one of the bank’s underground vaults, was just then being wrapped in black cloth and loaded into a discreet-looking padded suitcase on wheels. It was then rolled past the guards, out into the sunlight and clear, cold air, where it was loaded into a waiting car and whisked away.

THIS COULD SOUND, I realize, like the start of a spy novel or a Hollywood bank caper, but it is rather a story about genius and madness, as well as possession and obsession, with one object — this old, unusual book — skating among those things. Also, there are a lot of Jungians involved, a species of thinkers who subscribe to the theories of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and author of the big red leather book. And Jungians, almost by definition, tend to get enthused anytime something previously hidden reveals itself, when whatever’s been underground finally makes it to the surface.

Devin King at The Whistler

September 26, 2009

Finally!  At long last, the long awaited videos of Devin King performing his response to the North Georgia Gazette at The Whistler bar on Milwaukee Avenue.  September 3, 2009.

The North Georgia Gazette, a republication of a series of newspapers written onboard a ship landlocked in the Arctic Circle in search of the Northwest Passage at the beginning of the 19th Century, was released from The Green Lantern Press on September 3, 2009.  It will be available for purchase… someday soon…?

– Posted by Lily Robert-Foley

Call the Hollow Tree Line

September 25, 2009

Dear Callers,

I am collecting stories about the Great Plains for a sound installation at the annual Art Harvest here at the Art Farm in Marquette, Nebraska on October 24 and 25. Maybe you’ve lived on the plains for your entire life, maybe you arrived recently, or maybe

you’ve only traveled through in a bus, a train, a car. Maybe your grandparents passed along letters or stories about traveling the plains by choice or force or economic necessity. As a Californian with generations-ago roots on the plains, I experience the landscape here as a pile-up of stories, conflicting versions of similar events. How about you?

I invite you to leave a brief, anonymous phone message on The Hollow Tree Line voice mailbox ( 206-426-5613) about a prairie journey of any kind. You are welcome to talk about something handed down across generations or something all your own, to describe a long voyage or a small transformation or a change in perspective, to record ducks

flying overhead or imitate the sound of a cat giving birth in a barn, to sing-yell the words of a broken treaty—whatever you are moved to contribute.

The Hollow Tree Line got its name from a trip that I took with my family the year after my grandfather died. In Council Grove, Kansas, near where he was born, there is a hollow tree still standing where pioneers in wagon trains used to leave letters for travelers coming along behind them. We talked with hog farming cousins who had stayed

in the area and visited the old family house, and I later learned that Council Grove was the site of a treaty signing between the US Government and the Osage tribe, an important turning point in the often violent history of western expansion. What were we hoping to

find there? Maybe we went to Kansas as a way of trying to connect with Bert, as if the hollow tree might have held one last letter from him, sent across an impossible threshold.

Now I am spending two months away from my California home as an artist-in-residence at a farm on the Nebraska plains—not too far, relative to California, from where my great-great-grandparents homesteaded. There’s a dip in the prairie nearby where the Oregon Trail passed through. We rip out old phone lines and climb the barn roof chasing cell phone signals. In light of this weird confluence, I am interested in the traces we leave of the journeys that we take, and the ways that our efforts to communicate mark the landscape. How do we connect across this space of the prairies, whether we are the ones leaving home, or the ones staying behind?

I thank you so much for reading, and hope that you will call The Hollow Tree Line at 206-426-5613, and that you will ask your grandma and your neighbor and your kids to call as well. I will post the final sound collage on this site at the end of the project.


Amanda Davidson

Excerpt from Jiji, a novel in progress by Lily Robert-Foley

One afternoon, while Jiji and Jel were visiting Jel’s grandparents house in the Great Plains somewhere, a small dusty town with no roads, no stoplights, the houses situated aleatorically like scatter point plots on a graph.  The organization of community.  Jiji sat on top of a picnic bench, her feet on the bench part.  Jiji liked to appear different, sometimes by not using chairs, using other things as chairs, or using chairs in the wrong way.  Jel stood across the “road” from her.  The road here being the accidental space between buildings.

In Chinese Philosophy, the sky gives force, energy, light, whereas the earth makes things grow, gives things shape and being.  Either things explode from these very small obits of light falling out through the sky, or as things are born the sky is pulled down and embues them with motion.  Sky or heaven.  The Great Plains was one of the few places Jiji had ever been where the Sky was larger than the earth, took up more space in comparison with the human body, seemed more important.

Jel stood across this unroad from her, separated only by the negative space between structures.  The bond that held them together was a Sky bond, made from a charged, beingless, surround sound gray, a gray that gleaned like silver, infused with air as breath is, as the lungs are.  Lungs, the organ of mourning, the organ that gives sigh.  They looked at each other, were together, absorbed in this gray light, condensed by love.  They perhaps loved the quiet so much because the quiet enabled them to hear one another better.

And as they stood there staring, seeing the golden animation of heaven emanate out of each others clay bodies, a tumble weed rolled out of nowhere, on a mission, and passed between them.  Dense, hairy, monstruous obstruction, plowing through the molecular tether that held them together through centrifugal force, like a momento mori smeared across the base of a painting.  So absurd, a deChirico, a chair alone in the middle of a room, a dog on a table, something unexpectedly falling from a window, not understanding betrayal, not understanding death.

And their faces like the surface of the soil, erupting with water, laughter, a tumble weed!  And it went off comicly, to another planet.

And later, Jiji watched Jel as he stood on the crest of a plain, at his grandfather’s funeral, as he mourned next to the other grandsons, watcing the Sky colonize the Earth.  And even though he is an alien, he had long assimilated into a family that moved on slow Plains time, the oddly round clock of renewable energy, and Jiji felt too that to be in love is not to own someone, or even to understand them.  She who turned chairs upside down or backwards before she sat on them, made chairs out of mounds of earth, tufts of grass, window sills, washing machines, granite cornerstones or gravestones.  Made chairs up because she had no time, no time to learn to be like others, no time to watch the Sky take over the Earth.

– posted by Lily Robert-Foley

Another Gazette Review!

September 17, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

We got an awesome review/interview by Jonathan Kaplan in NewCity’s lit section. You can read the article in its entirety here and what follows is the very short beginning….

Westward Through the Ice: Green Lantern Press looks back 200 years

By Jonathan Kaplan


When resurrecting a piece of writing predating the Civil War, precautions must be taken to maintain the genuine message of its words. So when Green Lantern Press decided to reissue a publication about a sea voyage during the winter of 1819-1820, they took it to a whole new level.

“The North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle” came into Green Lantern’s hands as a weathered yellowing pile of newspaper pages still holding the dust and mold from almost 200 years ago. From there, the transformation became a polished and readable bound edition of a piece of history. The editors of the Gazette had to figure out their goal as far as how they were going to bring back this moment in time. Did they want to replicate the original experience or make it something completely fresh? By the time it was finished, the revised edition was aesthetically modern while keeping the heart of a work created generations ago.

Lecture at Cornell University

September 16, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

written by Agnes Martin, from Writings

Lecture at Cornell University

I want to talk to you about “the work,” art work.

I will speak of inspiration, the studio, viewing art work, friends

of art, and artists’ temperaments.

But your interest and mine is really “the work”–works of art.

Art work is very important in the way that I will try to show

when I speak about inspiration.

I have sometimes suffered in consequence.

I thought me, me; and I suffered.

I thought I was important. I was taught to think that. i was

taught: “You are important; people are important beyond any-

thing else.”

But thinking that I suffered very much.

I thought that I was big and “the work” was small. It is not

possible to go on that way. To think I am big is the work is big.

The position of pride is not possible either.

And to think I am smal and the work is small, the position of

modesty, is not possible.

I will go on to inspiration I do not want you to think I am

speaking of religion.

That which takes us by surprise–moments of happiness–that

is inspiration. Inspiration which is different from daily care.

Many people as adults are so startled by inspiration which is

different from daily care that they think they are unique in

having had it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Inspiration is there all the time.

For everyone whose mind is not clouded over with thoughts

whether they realize it or not.

Most people have no realization whatever of the moments in

which they are inspired.

Inspiration is pervasive but not a power.

It’s a peaceful thing.

It is a consolation even to plants and animals.

Do not think that it is unique.

If it were unique no one would be able to respond to your work.

Do not think it is reserved for a few or anything like that.

It is an untroubled mind.

Of course we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot last. So we say that inspiration comes and goes but really it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can therefore say that it is pervasive. Young children are more untroubled than adults and have many more inspirations. All the moments of inspiration added together make what we call sensibility. The development of sensibility is the most important thing for children and adults but is much more possible in children. In adults it would be more accurate to say that the awakening to their sensibility is the most important thing. Some parents put the development of social mores ahead of aesthetic development. Small children are taken to the park for social play; sent to nursery school and headstart. But the little child sitting along, perhaps even neglected and forgotten, is the one open to inspiration and the development of sensibility.

Two weeks ago on September 3rd, The Satellite version of The Green Lantern Press assembled a book release party at The Whistler for The North Georgia Gazette—a book (mostly) of newspapers written by sailors onboard the HMS Hecla and Griper in the beginning of the 19th Century, while the ships were landlocked in the Arctic Circle in search of the Northwest Passage.

Below, after a brief introduction on the work, Basia Kapolka, the Green Lantern’s resident actor reads a poetic selection from one of the newspapers by a sailor named Wakeham entitled, “Reflections on Seeing the Sun Set for a Period of Three Months or More.”

– posted by Lily

Minutes: Overheard

September 15, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard


As I walked down Honore last night there was a woman eating ice cream. She walked with two others, a woman and a man. They also ate ice cream. The first woman, while scooping some of the ice cream from the disposable cup and into her mouth remarked: “Human milk is just much sweeter than cowmilk.”

Brendan Short on The Parlor

September 14, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

September’s reader, Brandon Short is now posted on the Parlor website. Which is to say you should check it out! Go here for more-

Brendan Short is the author of “Dream City,” which has been called “powerful” (Chicago magazine) and “complex and compelling…highly recommended” (Library Journal). He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. His stories and poems have appeared in several literary journals, including The Literary Review and River Styx. A former writer-in-residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., he currently lives in the Chicago area. Please visit his website,

In this episode of The Parlor, Brendan reads from his debut novel, “Dream City” (MacAdam/Cage), which follows dreamer Michael Halligan from a childhood in Depression-era Chicago through an adulthood spent trying to collect the comic-book stories he loved as a kid and make sense of an arbitrary and unkind world.