On Theoretical Models

In pursuing the objective to generalize theoretical models we must ask ourselves whether greater detail in formulating the contributing processes is warranted by truncation errors, by sensitivity of the results to detail, by the resulting increase in computational complexity and time, and by ignorance of the way these processes really work.

– Joseph Smagorinsky. “General Circulation Experiments with the Primitive Equations: I. The Basic Experiment.” Monthly Weather Review, 91.3 (1963): 99–164.

To Rule Forever

To rule forever, it is necessary only to create, among the people one would rule, what we call…Bad History. Nothing will produce Bad History more directly nor brutally, than drawing a Line…through the midst of a People,— to create thus a Distinction betwixt ’em,— ’tis the first stroke.— All else will follow as if predestined, unto War and Devastation.

– Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon

What’s Boring

Q: What things bore you?

Roberto Bolaño: The empty discourse of the Left. I take for granted the empty discourse of the Right.

– From an interview with Monica Maristain for Playboy Magazine, republished in Between Parenthesis as “The End: Distant Star.”

Swimmin’ Time

In the distance is the gloom of the end of days, when the sun calls home its wandering rays, when all of the iron has gone to rust, and every living thing has turned to dust. There won’t be anyone left to float your boat, they all went to high ground while their vessels still float, they scream God’s will but you know it’s a lie, by your own book it says by fire next time; the golden eggs cracked open, and there was nothing inside. Cast all dispersions build a levee of lies. I can see it comin’: bite down on the leather, and close your eyes, there’s nothin’ to be done that can turn the tide. The money in your eyes has left you blind. You’ll be the one drownin’ when it’s swimmin’ time

– Shovels and Rope, “Swimmin’ Time”

On the Value of Poets

If I had to hold up the most heavily fortified bank in America, I’d take a gang of poets. The attempt would probably end in disaster, but it would be beautiful.

– Roberto Bolaño, in “THE BEST GANG,” (January 1999 – April 2000), Between Parenthesis

Always Near Poets

We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps but an expression of a poetry that was lost.

– Gaston Bachelard, in The Poetics of Space

I’ve seen it all…

Well, it’s Ninth and Hennepin

All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes

And the moon’s teeth marks are on the sky

Like a tarp thrown all over this

And the broken umbrellas like dead birds

And the steam comes out of the grill like the whole goddamn town’s ready to blow

And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos

And everyone is behaving like dogs

And the horses are coming down Violin Road and Dutch is dead on his feet

And all the rooms they smell like diesel

And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here

And I’m lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway

And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat

And no one brings anything small into a bar around here

They all started out with bad directions

And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear

One for every year he’s away, she said

Such a crumbling beauty

Ah, there’s nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won’t fix

She has that razor sadness that only gets worse

With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by

And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet

Till you’re full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin

And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen

And I’ve seen it all

I’ve seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train

– Tom Waits, “9th & Hennepin,” one of my favorite poems, which came to mind today when I crossed 9th Street, while driving down Hennepin, in downtown Minneapolis.