memory and desire

Hi, it’s me, Chess, the dog. Yes, again. You may remember me from posts like “My Garden In Spring” and all the other excellent ones that were about me. This one is mostly about me. He told me to title the post like this, because it’s a reference to The Waste Land, which he can’t stop thinking about now, and it’s why April is really the cruellest month. (He said to spell it that way, too. Cruellest, I mean.)

The reason for all this is that the guy I live with is kind of mopey, and says he can’t do any gardening when it’s snowing, which it is, because the white hurts his eyes. We went on our walk anyway. This is me on my walk. I never went on walks with my buddy Slipper, because we played together in the back yard. He’ll have been gone for three years next month, and my mommy for four.

I really like the sixteen-foot leash he got me. It lets me explore a lot. As far as I’m concerned, the weather could be like this forever. Maybe it will be. It sure seems like it. 041701

The guy I live with looked outside this morning and said “öd’ und leer das Meer”, like he does a lot, and I know that means “empty and blank, the sea” which is what the shepherd says to Tristan’s buddy Kurwenal right at the beginning of the third act of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, while everyone is sitting around waiting for the ship carrying Isolde to show up, and Tristan is lying mortally wounded, but still able to sing. The guy I live with plays gloomy things like this a lot, and used to talk to my mommy about them, constantly, and her eyes would glaze over, but she still liked him. The line is also in The Waste Land, and was probably put there just to show off.

This is me on the canal road, doing some investigation.


The guy I live with says that The Waste Land has a lot of really memorable lines and images, but he prefers the first section, or movement, of Burnt Norton, though he says the first five lines aren’t really true, and that all time really is unredeemable. He explained this to my mommy but she probably stopped listening. She used to do that all the time. I remember once they were watching this special on TV about a flood or something, and she said, “Where’s the Connecticut River”, and he said “In France”, and she got really mad at him, and he was laughing. That made her even madder.

He also says that, really, the best line of poetry is by Stefan George, from his poem “Entrückung”, which means “transport” (there’s a reason why I know all this), and that it’s “ich fühle luft von anderem planeten”, which means “I feel the air of another planet”, or “I feel air from another planet”.  I agree, that’s pretty cool. Maybe a little scary. I remember him telling my mommy that Stefan George didn’t capitalize nouns like they do in German. I don’t think she cared. She knew what was coming next; how he’d talk about Schönberg’s second string quartet, and the music that led up to the part when this poem was introduced, and that ….and here she’d say, “Yes, I know, first instance of consciously suspended tonality, blah blah blah, and I don’t want you to play it for me”, and then he’d say “Except for …” and she’d roll her eyes the way she did when he talked, and say “Liszt’s ‘Bagetelle ohne Tonart’, I don’t know how many times you’ve said this” and then she’d make him go away.

That’s how it was.

But this is more interesting; me again. Heading down the creek. There’s a path here.


Lots of interesting smells. I can tell that Norm and Celeste were here, early this morning. The guy I live with doesn’t want me to meet them up close, though I’ve seen them from a distance. They remind me of me, sort of.


This is where they walked.


The end of the path. We followed, or I like to think scared, Norm one morning and he snuck away on the right, looking over his shoulder like we better not follow him. My mommy would say that Norm and Celeste are really stupid names to give to coyotes, but the guy I live with thinks things like that are funny. My mommy would say no one else does.

You can sort of barely see two big tires piled up on the left. Maybe it’s a shrine or something.


Time to go home now. I’m having a really good time. Our house is to the right of the big cottonwood. The creek is always dry, and sometimes Norm and Celeste sneak down the creek so no one can see them. Sometimes they sneak up it too. I walked down into it a couple of times, but no one was sneaking there.

It was still fun.


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4 Responses to memory and desire

  1. acantholimon says:

    What a treat to join you and Chess on the walk! Maybe some day I can do so in Snail time! But not for a month (we’re heading to Sweden, Denmark and (yes) Germany in a few days for three weeks and I doubtless think of you and your far better German (which we could use driving around)…visiting botanic gardens and museums and nurseries and giving talks–sounds heavenly even though I’m hung up on those very talks, figuring out house/host gifts, logistics of from here to there and hoping we don’t crash Jan’s new Volvo.

    I have a love-hate relationship with T.S.: I puzzled Wastland (there are plenty of resonances contained therein)–my favorite is that his Smyrna merchant has resurfaced as one of my favorite contemporary writers (Eugenides also Ionian). Do you know Middlesex? Love all the Teutonic weave–it is Gothic weather we’re having after all! My fuddy duddy musical tastes stall with Mendelsohn/Schubert/Schumann era (although I do fancy Rickard at times)–I am hopelessly retro and find most Modernism (abstract painting, cryptic poetry, and atonal music especially) to be de trop. Or I pick and choose…whereas I wallow in the French symbolists and Russian realists and all things Romantic.

    Your reminiscences with Cindy tear my heart out: they are so poignant. You are a masterful writer and your blog the best! Much love,


    • paridevita says:

      That’s what Boulez said about people who did not understand the absolute necessity of serialism, de trop. He backed off on that some, later. New, complex experiences are good for a person in my situation, hence the Xenakis, Carter, etc.
      Swedish is like German though they don’t pronounce the words the way they look. That film-making guy’s name is something like Inyamar Beriman; the way they pronounce the Teutonic name for fortress, burg, has echoes in English Canterbury, Glastonbury, etc. I imagine the Swedes would be mildly incensed at a pseudo-German pronunciation, as are, I hear, the Danes, re Copenhagen.
      The walk, by the way, is done at top speed. As fast as my legs will carry me.
      Départ dans l’affection et le bruit neufs!

  2. I think you and Cindy had a relationship a lot like my best local friend Judy and her Tom. They are so funny together. He is going through his second round of chemo and I worry and worry….because Judy without Tom would be like you without Cindy. Damn it, life is a hard row to hoe.

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