Straight Dope Duo

On heavy rotation: Jaffe’s brilliance.


Not Just In the Heart

in the body, too.


For you.


So Long, Yeti

It is impossible to ‘let die’ that which never existed. — A.M. to Foucault


Keith Arbenowske



And This Human Condition

K.A.: The balloon is red on my end. So what is the significance of “red to blue” and “blue to red”?

Keith Arbenowske
The Red Balloon, 1956 Oscar winning film by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse



And then there is this: ARCANUM XIV


Dear K.A., Other possibilities have come to light since you first posed your question. Similar to Arcanum XIV, this might be of some interest:

Michealangelo has placed the Male and Female on the correct side of God: Male on the Left and Female on the Right. Note he also has the blue and red material symbolic for the Male and Female Twin Souls. You can see the symbolism in the Magician (Tarot) who represents the Divine Male Twin Soul as he wears the Red gown. And the High Priestess (Tarot) who symbolises [sic] the Divine Female Twin Soul is shown wearing Blue. We see this symbolism repeated in all the religious art.

Or in the alchemical tradition…


There is apparently a strong “blue/red” representational tradition in discussions of “twin flames.” I imagine this association originates in the alchemical or hermetic notion that violet connotes the sacred marriage of blue and red. (No different really from what we see in Arcanum XIV of the Tarot, which is indeed the card of alchemy.) In the alchemical tradition violet is a “purifier,” signifying the transformative step that precedes gold. A little hokey perhaps, but these representations provide additional popular references to include in the symbolic archive.



From a Shell

Keith — CCS, Detroit. Taken 1997/98, Royal Oak, MI


copyright AMC 2016


I Dream of Carrots

Once upon a time, I made a handful of not-so-funny cartoons. Leading characters: Bee Keeper and Sunflower Girl; Kat and Tweet.

It all started with this image. (If you know where Tupelos grow, this will make more sense, but the text and image are ultimately an inside joke. There is also an oblique connection to “Tupelo” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.)

sunflowertupelotree_52108 copy

After which…


And then…

sayscoobied_51608 copy

sayscoobied_51708 copy




Journal – Jan 12, 2016

And what if reconciliation has, more often than not, nothing to do with integration or synthesis, at least as we commonly construe them? Maybe it has everything to do with juxtaposition, allowing two seemingly unrelated or contrary states exist together side by side. Perhaps, then, the illumination that arises from such juxtaposition (here I’m thinking of Benjamin’s practice of collecting fragments) is its own type of reconciliation…its own type of integration. Seems to me that juxtaposition produces a sort of cognitive or perhaps affective parabola that relationally connects the two fragments. Surely, spanning (erm, minding) the gap, or having to hold two oppositional positions in one’s conscience/consciousness simultaneously, involves great tension. Thus, maybe reconciliation depends on constructing cognitive and affective arches of the strongest parabolic and catenary type. (Isn’t this the purpose of metaphor? What would a pre-cognitive, primal, sensuous metaphor feel/look like?) Apart from this, I wonder if such illuminating arch-work is easier to erect and sustain at the emotional level of affect/feeling or the mental level of representation/thinking. There is an architectonic structure to feeling and thinking, no?



Jan 17, 2016 – Post Script:

Decided to search through an old hermetic tome, Meditations on the Tarot, written by anonymous, for a companion reflection on Arcanum XIV and the theme of reconciliation discussed above. The following struck a chord.

[With this card comes] an intellectual shock! . . . and therefore an arcanum [a mystery] — something which one has to take hold of and apprehend beyond the usual plan of experience and thought. This invites us, therefore, to profound meditation — to a spiritual exercise. Let us follow this invitation.

What is the problem that the Card — its whole context — arouses spontaneously in the mind of he who looks at it attentively? What is the message of the Angel with two wings, in the red and blue [emphasis mine (e.m.)] robe, holding two vases, one red and one blue [e.m.], and making water gush in a mysterious way from one vase to another? Is he not the one who bears the good news that beyond the duality of “either-or” there is — or is possible — still that of “not only-but also” or “both-and”? Does not the totality of the Card…suggest the problem of cooperating polarity, or integrated duality? Does it not first of all suggest the presentiment or suspicion that perhaps it is thanks to [e.m.] the two wings, the two arms, the two colours of the robe, the two vases, that the water pours forth?


(I found the exact card the author is referencing. In the text the plate is printed in B&W.)

Jan 18, 2016 – Post Script II:
And today, whilst reviewing Black’s (1997) Vico and Moral Perception in search of excerpts unrelated to this topic…

Prudence . . . is modeled in the contiguous imagery of ironic consciousness; that is, prudent thinkers develop a double-minded position that straddles the physiological single-mindedness of mere sense and the abstract single-mindedness of linear logic. Put plainly, the prudential person appreciates the ironies of ethics. Unlike the mere act of sensation, prudence [aka temperance!] brings elements of opposition into a meaningful relationship; yet the prudential vision does not mediate the opposition through the use of a reconciliatory concept. In other words dialectical mediation deals with two things by transcribing them as one thing. [Black associates this with imprudent thinking, which tells us to go straight at the fork in the road.] . . . In contrast, the image-based thought of a prudent mind is committed to neither concept nor sense; it deals instead with a mimetic modulation, with sense in transition, with the dramatic energy of potentiality grasped in a narrative motion. (P. 218) [A.M. comment: And this vitality, this motion, is represented by the image of water flowing betwixt the two vessels in Arcanum XIV.]

Put simply the integration achieved by prudence emanates from moderation instead of mediation. (P. 216)


FEB 22, 2016 –
There is a story about Ginsberg’s “Howl” that came to the fore last week. Only my father and cousin F____ know the details. Relevant to the ongoing exploration of reconciliation taking place here, I submit the following excerpt from “Howl,” which relates to my considerations of juxtaposition, conciliatory strain, and an effect Ginsberg calls the Eyeball Kick. (They eye and cognitive attention doth dance! Saccadic, on/off.)

[…] with a sudden flash of the
alchemy of the use of the ellipsis catalogue a variable measure and the vibrating
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed,
and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the
elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with
sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus



Cigarettes after Sex: Good for Your Musical Health

For more, visit:


.- -. -.. / … — / .. – / .. …

“This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are…”


repost: Review

Mostly still rings true. Less shame about having a complicated and dense biography, but the bits about fairness, communication and safety…

From the original published October 9, 2010.

I was reviewing this journal the other day and was surprised to note a) its darkness, and b) a preponderance of entries on the topic of love. Love and darkness, dark love—probably just more a reduction of Love, Life and Death than anything else.

What’s interesting is the contrast between this journal’s darkness and how I live life. My outward expression for the most part is one of frivolity, lightness, and well, I should add, passion. In these I’m consistent; they’re the overarching informants of my ordinary, quotidian interactions. Exceptions do exist, mostly between me and good friends and romantic partners in whom I will confide the darker feelings of uncertainty, fatigue, anger, and fear when they arise (and there has been plenty of opportunity for that this year). Still, seeing that darkness turned outward, expressed within these pages, unnerves me a little. Whether that discomfort stems from a need to self-monitor in order to save face, from a fear of scrutiny, or from a fear of presenting a biased narrative, I’m not sure.

But I do know that the latter, fear of presenting a biased narrative, has hindered my self-expression for a couple decades now; something I’m working on and through as of late in this journal. I’m trying to learn how to undo long-held concepts of fairness that, having extended themselves beyond the realm of the interpersonal to the creative, prevent me from sharing anything publicly that might cast a negative light upon others or engender pity on my behalf. I don’t want to be pitied, and experiences are fluid, edited and rewritten by time, new experiences, expansions in understanding, fluctuations in awareness and perception, and so forth. Experience has many authors. Thus this fear of fixing a personality or an experience within time—which, of course, one must if they’re to write about it—because doing so, according to my inner judge, fails to reflect the whole (and I’m a holist, maybe to a fault).

My habit of wanting to portray people and experiences fairly even stymies the therapeutic process of counseling. I’ve reconciled my past, and I hate for anyone to misjudge others.

[. . .] Looking to my past I realize that cultivating a spirit of open communication is of paramount importance if I’m to feel safe in a relationship, and that would be in any relationship. Communication is a process, a learned one, and one we must relearn as needs and demands change. We make our mistakes along the way, but the biggest mistake I can imagine making is that of being unwilling and ungracious. An unwillingness to engage openly, for me, is an unwillingness to receive the other. That kind of stubborn unwillingness arises out of something more than a need to self-protect; it arises from a need to control. And that control wears many masks: sometimes it wears the overt mask of invective or physical abuse, and at other times, the covert mask of silence.

I recognize the power of communication in all its forms and have been moved by the power of narrative. And I know that sharing mine may not only help me but others. Regardless, I’m still too riddled with shyness and some inexplicable fear to put it down. The darkness which this journal approaches at times, mostly that of breast cancer’s shadowy wood, is perhaps an extension of me a) experimenting with voicing the feelings of that littler girl as she made her way through an entirely different dark wood, and b) finding a place for that darkness in order to preserve the inner light that lives within the woman she has become.

If I’m really honest, one of the reasons I hate to share it, my narrative, is because of the shame I feel for having lived that life, for having been that girl, that woman, for having too many tough stories to tell. Why that should feel shameful to me, I don’t know. I only know that it does.


repost: BALD

[For the original, see — bald, published March 24, 2010.]

I stood in front of the mirror, removed my head wrap and cried at the sight of my bald head. Turns out I have several moles on my scalp, the red kind, one of which is large enough to merit a visit to a dermatologist. Shit, I can’t even pull off being perfectly bald.

All these imperfections–their count increasing exponentially it seems–are making me feel like a hideous creature, less human, and more like a stray animal. Last night as I looked in the mirror I felt ugly. I recalled the wispy, stringy fur of an abandoned baby possum that had found its way into my home several years ago. It was apprehensive, frightened and alone, much as I am now. I tried to help it. I managed to catch it and place it outside beneath the deck, where at least it would have a little shelter, or so I imagined, from under which to figure out its next move or to slowly pass away.

I wish I could have done more for that possum. I hate seeing small animals in distress. I hate seeing any animal, humankind included, in that state–shaking, scared, stressed. I wish sometimes my love were big enough to care for everyone perfectly. Sometimes I feel it all. Yet even in the face of such overwhelming and powerful emotion, I manage to live this one life, my life, and laugh and dance and sing and love some more. It’s all I can do. It’s the only thing I do that I feel can make a difference or produce something good, helpful, useful. [Resilience is really the only thing I have on hand to offer, and yet even resilience extracts a toll.]


ADDENDUM: From “Relax Your Mind & Feel That Beat,” posted September 30, 2008.

This thought: Perfection…

Sometimes I wish, wish, wish I was perfect: perfectly beautiful, perfectly intelligent, perfectly smart (not necessarily the same thing as intelligent!). I wish I was a perfect genius, had a perfect body, perfect symmetry. I wish I could give you the most perfect orgasm, write that sentence perfectly the first time, and have perfect timing. The list goes on. Oh, and I just remembered (and maybe most importantly), I wish I was perfectly lovable.

I am not perfect. *Sigh*



Remnant Résistance


From Hannah Arendt’s “Introduction” to Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations.

The Collector

Collecting is the redemption of things which is to complement the redemption of man (p. 42).

The collector’s passion, on the other hand, is not only unsystematic but borders on the chaotic, not so much because it is a passion as because it is not primarily kindled by the quality of the object–something that is classifiable–but is by its “genuineness,” its uniqueness, something that defies any systematic classification (p. 44).

Collecting Debris from the Past

The main work consisted in tearing fragments out of their context and arranging them afresh in such a way that they illustrated one another and were able to prove their raison d’être in a free-floating state…(p. 47).

The Collector Preserver Becomes Destroyer

“The true, greatly misunderstood passion of the collector is always anarchistic, destructive. For this is its dialectics: to combine with loyalty to an object, to individual items, to things sheltered in his care, a stubborn subversive protest against the typical, the classifiable,” The collector destroys the context in which his object once was only part of a greater, living entity, and since only the uniquely genuine will do for him he must cleanse the chosen object of everything that is typical about it (p. 45).


Journal – 4 JULY 2006

Project: “Do Not Touch”

Journal – 13 JAN 2010

— Flights to MN. Dates.
— “Gravity always wins”

Journal – 14 JAN 2010

— Bats swarming over Johnson Hill, HWY 540N
— Erasure
— Worn out

Richard: “Life is just a series of humiliations followed by a final humiliation” [i.e., burial].

Knife Exercise Patterns

  • Sheath
  • Cloak
  • Impenetrable
  • Overshadowing
  • Domination
  • Entitlement
  • Privilege
  • Impassive

Journal – 9 JAN 2016

Homo sapiens is the only species
to suffer psychological exile.

—E. O. Wilson



Love is a Rose

“You lose your love when you say the word mine.”

Letters – Mon, 15 Jul 2002


I love Neil Young, and I’ve always liked that song.
However, I have also always disagreed with Neil on
that point. It’s really important to be able to say
“mine.” There’s a deep lesson in that word — a mystery
that unfolds in that word. Most of us never say mine
to anyone or anything, not in a way that really
extracts a deep committment or demands that we be
“responsible” in the most spiritual sense of the





F*ckin A, or the Desideratum of Turning Leaves

LETTERS – Spring 2008

March 7, 2008

Dear A.M.

Ever since watching Existo, I find myself using that baffled exclamation.

Thanks for inviting me to the lecture. I’ll have to pass, because I have
to work tonight, catching up from Tuesday’s snow day.

Have you had a chance to read my poems? If not, don’t read them. I’ve changed most
of them anyway. I’ve been getting a lot of good writing done.

I could just send you one poem at a time. There’s two or three I ‘d really like some feedback on.

A new one’s pasted below.


March 7, 2008

Dear R_____,

No, I haven’t had a chance to get to your poems. *lament*
When I have a window of time I’ll let you know and you can send me the new set (I prefer to read them together). So glad to hear you’re getting some good writing done. I’m still focused on getting businesses back on their feet, like rigging up train cars in the hope of leaving the station soon. Tedious but necessary work if I don’t want to get derailed!

Fuckin’ A! That man is still a pang in my heart. Women… creativity… responsibility… some elusive man named B_____ … best friends I don’t get to see as often as I’d like (such as my dear R_____)… kids I love dearly but hardly ever get to enjoy in a moment of total carefree abandon… life… I want it to open wider and move along a little slower and more steadily…

Love you.



Dream(y) Girl

LETTERS – September 2015

Dear A_____,

The unique (monoglot) voice of poetry brings it in close relationship to other forms of expressive art; for instance, music (most obviously), visual art, and dance. There is a sensuous movement in all of these forms. Nature is also expressive, [sensuous], poetic…light, music, dance. I would argue, however, that our sense of nature’s organicism makes it all too easy for us to forget that in order “to Live!” even She must seek out partners, witnesses, friends, helpers–a few that come to mind: sunlight, bacteria, fungi, flora, fauna, you…me.

What poem to send (a first poem no less!)? Tricky. Alas! I have chosen. It’s a poem about light and nature, among other things; a poem that makes me think of you stepping, nay, running! through the woods, simultaneously feeling the weight and levity of each step. It’s a poem that reminds me of your way of seeing–witnessing–those peaches, and witnessing in a way that claims familiarity with Amy Clampitt’s recognition of sundews.

Warm thoughts,

Poems of Amy Clampitt


by Amy Clampitt

An ingenuity too astonishing

to be quite fortuitous is

this bog full of sundews, sphagnum-

lines and shaped like a teacup.

                               A step

down and you’re into it; a

wilderness swallows you up:

ankle-, then knee-, then midriff-

to-shoulder-deep in wetfooted

understory, an overhead

spruce-tamarack horizon hinting

you’ll never get out of here.

                          But the sun

among the sundews, down there,

is so bright, an underfoot

webwork of carnivorous rubies,

a star-swarm thick as the gnats

they’re set to catch, delectable

double-faced cockleburs, each

hair-tip a sticky mirror

afire with sunlight, a million

of them and again a million,

each mirror a trap set to

unhand unbelieving,

                 that either

a First Cause said once, “Let there

be sundews," and there were, or they’ve

made their way here unaided

other than by that backhand, round-

about refusal to assume responsibility

known as Natural Selection.

                           But the sun

underfoot is so dazzling

down there among the sundews,

there is so much light

in that cup that, looking,

you start to fall upward.


*unbelieving — Corrected. See p. 15 of The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt (1997), published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.


When Space no Longer Believes in Time



A few snapshots of the bonus room (roomy enough for both me and Evie!) before packing the last of ER’s belongings. She and I have spent a lot of time together camped out in this room over the past year. I sure will miss sharing close quarters and daily snuggle time with her.

All woodwork, including the window trim, refinished by moi; nice caulk lines, too. :)


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.



The feeling of simultaneity when mutual thoughts collide.

Mid-15th century painting by Gabriel Mälesskircher

Mid-15th century painting by Gabriel Mälesskircher


Days of Reckoning

ambodoira's Days of Reckoning album on Photobucket


ambodoira's Firstborn album on Photobucket

"I take this picture of myself and with my sewing scissors cut out the face. Now it is more accurate; where my eyes were everything appears." — Margaret Atwood (The Journals of Susanna Moodie)


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