Dancing Young Men and Octopii

September 9, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard

Last week we released the North Georgia Gazette. As part of that release, we had two readings–one at The Whistler, the other at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park. At The Whistler, Basia Kapolka read on behalf of the Gazette, reciting a poem about the setting of the sun for three months. John Huston followed with a lecture about his recent expedition to the Arctic and after that Lily Robert-Foley read some passages from her end notes. We were lucky enough to see Devin King read as well–he had prepared a response to the Gazette (it’s awesome: it involves ghosts and villianized octupii and Victor Hugo) and I will post part of that response below, encouraging all of you to follow it up to his blog, Dancing Young Men From High Windows. After that, Nick Butcher from Sonnenzimmer played with Jason Stein. The whole thing was fantastic (I thought) and while an awkward MC, I had a great time.

Devin also read this piece at 57th Street Books–a nice gathering, slightly more intimate, there was an old couple in the corner who chuckled periodically. Another girl eating a sandwich. Anyway. Many thanks to our hosts for letting us have the reading, both were exceedingly gracious (Paul (the bartender and mastermind drink gourmet), for instance, would shake his cocktails in the basement stairwell to avoid making noise–I couldn’t believe how considerate)….and of course to all participants, helpers, proofreaders and contributors: here’s to a job well done and thank you thank you thank you.


Victor Hugo’s Last Musical

The musical’s grand opener is called, “We belong to the night,” and then there’s the famous actor Hooper, done up in a pelt but looking like a bat, bounding on all fours, giggling, his back to the curtain, trying to find a dark, circular, puzzle image. There is a detachment in his gambol, a kind of stoicism of the present; the alternately accusing and mutely questioning face of a dead man is all that describes his strange twisting associative dance. All features belong to the actor, Hooper, himself: a force utterly deployed in the world at any given moment, entirely characterized by its full set of features.
Ever since the philosophers distinguished the living from the non-living children have seemed to display an extensive capacity for awe and wonder along with their horror, a horror that remains distinctly consistent, arising from an experience of cognitive dread which cannot be escaped or evaded. At times Hooper’s actions on the stage suggest that all humans takes things “as” what they are, the actor claims that even blindly using a hammer takes it “as” a hammer. It was such an unusual and unlikely event, this musical; like when the centaur is mated with the cheetah, and their off-spring is not some hellish monstrosity, but a thoroughbred colt able to carry us for half a century and more.
In the autumn of 1853 Victor Hugo’s family began talking to ghosts. The American habit of table-tapping had reached Europe a few months earlier and the Hugos, bored and in exile, began by contacting their child Leopoldine, who had drowned in a boating accident ten years earlier. At first a sarcastic patriarch, Victor became enthralled by the practice and eventually would talk to Dante, Shakespeare, Moliere, Aeschylus, Galileo, Moses, Jesus Christ, St. Augustine, Voltaire, and Death itself.

Please go here to continue reading.


photo by Meredith Kooi

January 15, 2009

An introduction.

Human to environment. Environment to human.

A dichotomy.

by Meredith Kooi

I was watching the birds eat seed from a feeder today amongst the deep snow, clear skies, and negative numbers.  I wondered how the birds stay outside while I cannot even fathom being out there.  I stay inside and eat from the fridge while they remain outside eating in the frigid.  Its curious how the birds manage to keep their tiny bodies warm in these temperatures.

It is hard to think about global warming in temperatures like these.  It is easy to say that global warming cannot possibly exist when you are just so cold.  But, up north in the Arctic, the polar bears (link to http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/39071) are in crisis.  It is not just global warming, but global climate change that we need to think about.  How are we connected to the Arctic?  How is the Arctic connected to us?  So human, this is the environment.  And environment, this is human.

In thinking of the birds, I remember Brandon Ballengée’s (link to http://www.disk-o.com/malamp/) work that I saw a few months ago at the Biological Agents:  Artistic Engagements in out Growing Bio-Culture show at Gallery 400 (link to Gallery 400 – http://www.uic.edu/aa/college/gallery400/) .  The show presented his research project MALAMP UK, which stands for MALformed AMPhibian.  He showcases the tiny deformed amphibians he collected using staining techniques, making the animals electric reds and blues.  In doing so, we can begin to see our relationships to these creatures and the impacts of our actions upon them.  We can begin to see that we are linked to each other.


posted by Caroline Picard

The following is a poem written on board the H.M.S. Hecla in 1820 while it was landlocked in the Arctic circle and was forced to spend the entire winter marooned on Melville Island, enduring months of total darkness and severe cold.  It appeared in the North Georgia Gazette, a newspaper initiated by Sir William Edward Parry, Captain of the Hecla in an effort to distract the officers and crew from the isolation and tedium of the long winter months.  









The moments of chasten’d delight are gone by,

When we left our loved homes o’er new regions to rove,

When the firm manly grasp, and the soft female sigh,

       Mark’d the mingled sensations of friendship and love.

The season of pleasure has hurried away,

       When through far-stretching ice a safe passage we found,[1]

The led us again to the dark rolling sea,

       And the signal was seen “on for Lancaster’s Sound.[2]


The joys that we felt when we pass’d by the shore,

       Where no footstep of man had e’er yet been imprest,

When rose in the distance no mountain-tops hoar,

       As the sun of the evening bright gilded the west,[3]

Full swiftly they fled—and that hour too is gone

       When we gain’d the meridian assign’d as a bound,[4]

To entitle our crews to their country’s first boon,

       Hail’d by all as an omen the passage was found.


And past with our pleasures, are moments of pain;

       Of anxious suspense, and of eager alarm—

Environ’d by ice, skill and ardour were vain

       The swift moving mass of its force to disarm;

Tho’ dash’d on the beach, and our boats torn away,

       No anchors could hold us, nor cable secure;

The dread and the peril expired with the day,

       When none but high Heaven could our safety ensure.


Involved with the ages existent before

       Is the year that has brought us thus far on our way

And gratitude calls us, our God to adore

       For the oft-renew’d mercies its annals display;

The floomy meridian of darkness is past,

       And ere long shall gay Spring and the herbage revive,

O’er the wide waste of ice shall re-echo the blast,

       And the firm prison’d ocean its fetters shall rive.


Now dawns the New Year!  But what  mind can expose

       The events that await us before it expires?

In the isles of the south to remember its close,

       Or in regions of frost mourn our frustrate desires!

Yet Hope points the track that our vessels shall force

       Till Pacific’s wide ocean around us we view;

Bright Hope shall expand as we follow our course,

       And the dangers we meet but our courage renew.


The friends we have left, at this season of mirth

       Do their bosoms or pleasure or anguish sustain?

Do they deem us yet safe in these wilds of the earth,

       Or whelm’d in the surges that whiten the main?

No longer they now can expect our return,

       No longer they mark ev’ry change of the breeze;

But the thought of despair fond affection will spurn,

       And confident rest on Almighty decrees!


With them we but share the proud hope of success,

       And look forward with joy to the days yet to come;

When the heart overflowing, warm tears shall express

       How sincere is the welcome that greets us at home;

Be happiness theirs while we severed remain!—

       Be fortitude firm, and exertion, our own!

Till the shores of Old Albion once more we regain,

       Once more to enjoy every bliss we have known.

[1] Our ships were the first that succeeded in effecting a passage to the westward, through the ice which occupies the middle of Baffin’s Bay in the early part of the summer.

[2] Telegraphic signal made by Hecla, after breaking through the first barrier of ice.

[3] The evening was beautifully clear when we sailed over the spot assigned to CROKER’s MOUNTAINS.

[4] The meridian of 110˚ west, which entitled us to the first reward of 5,000l.


posted by Lily