In der Mandel—was steht in der Mandel?
Es steht das Nichts in der Mandel.
Da steht es und steht.
Im Nichts–wer steht da? Der König.
Da steht der König, der König.
Da steht er und steht.
Judenlocke, wirst nicht grau.
Und dein Aug—wohin steht dein Auge?
Dein Aug steht der Mandel entgegen.
Dein Aug, dem Nichts stehts entgegen.
Es steht zum König.
So steht es und steht.
Menschenlocke, wirst nicht grau.
Leere Mandel, königsblau.
—By Paul Celan
The composition is not just a matter of questions, all variations on a theme, and their answers. Rather they are like riddles (though I do not wish to imagine Golem asking, “What stands in the almond, my Precious? The Nothing, my Precious, in the almond stands Nothing, the dirty little hobbit ...”). The word for almond is actually Mandel (which lets you know something about its origin as a family name, along with Mandelbaum and Mandelstam[m]), but a Mandorla is an almond-shaped aureola which surrounds the figure of Christ in traditional Christian art (an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another to form an almond shape in the middle [my Mandorla descriptions are cribbed word-for-word from Wikipedia]), and here the context is less Christian than Jewish, though both need to be read together, because the Mandorla here is empty, or rather, full only of Nothing. And in that Nothing stands The King, but not Christ as King (for the thing about Christ is his presence, or immanence), rather an absent messiah.
One of the more amusing stories in recent days in the wake of the Ann Coulter F-Saga is that of Matt Sanchez, marine reservist (corporal in the United States Marine Corps, currently serving in the reserve), Columbia student, O'Reilly & Hannity darling (up to now, at least), and former gay porn star ... and (gay) male escort.
Now, a very brief “disclaimer”—Sanchez says he is not gay (“JMG: ‘Do you consider yourself gay?’ SANCHEZ: ‘Boyfriends: 0 Fiance: 2 Wife: 1. I'd say I'm pretty bad at being gay.’”). We all buy that. Because having a wife means that you're not gay, right Ted Haggard?
If you've somehow managed to miss this little tempest in a teapot, after Sanchez, out-spoken and self-proclaimed right-winger, received an award from a conservative group and has his photo taken with Ann Coulter a few other folks made his “previous life” as a gay porn star (is that “gay [porn star]” or “[gay porn] star?” decide for yourself) public—he'd performed as Rod Majors and Pierre LaBranche—and so today he tells his side of the story over at Salon.
Of course, since Sanchez is a Republican, he's all for personal responsibility, which is why most of his incoherent text is taken up blaming liberals, blaming the porn industry (same thing according to him), and blaming those who made his past public (from the first letter in response to the article: “This bulletin from the party of personal responsibility ... This article can be summed up like this: ‘I am a victim’”). While his text leaves one wondering, why didn't this guy get an editor, the 200+ letters (and counting) offer a number of amusing gems.
So what's this about don't ask, don't tell?
I found myself reading a Wizard interview between Brian Michael Bendis and Rob Liefeld. Liefeld manages to compare himself to Britney, act innocent about the criticism he's received over the years, and somehow come across as half-way decent. The interview is from last July; shortly thereafter Bendis interviewed Brian K. Vaughan.
When asked why Y is going 60s issues, Vaughan replies “That's a cool idea. I wish that I had that luxury [clout to solicit extra issues by strength of name / brand]. I mean, when I pitched Y I had just gotten Swamp Thing s**t-canned and everyone was pretty convinced that Y would get cancelled around issue number six.” I quote this only because I didn't really know (or care?) about his Swamp Thing run; I know that under certain authors it has been an “important” sorta-mainstream comic (see: Alan Moore), but I've never bothered with it. What is not mentioned here, regarding the 60s issues, is that 60 and 75 issues are two standard lengths of runs for “ongoing” Vertigo series. Hellblazer (up around 227 or 228 now) is one of the exceptions.
Page three, which includes reflections on Vaughan's first Marvel duties, is perhaps the best part of the interview, and presents a few absurd anecdotes about how Marvel was functioning in the late 90s. I've read those issues of Wolverine and Cable he mentions, but I'd have to drag them out to have idea what they're about.
Bendis and Vaughan spend half of the last page talking about being bald.
Vaughan: Yeah. You only need your hair until you get that girl and then it's just a nuisance. Jesus, I thought I'd finally make it through one entire interview without talking about being bald.
Words to live by?
Since I've talked about Sanchez's actual whoring and Bendis and Vaughan talk more about metaphorical professional prostitution, let's finish with a good ol' story about real-life sex-for-money: “The Ride to Perdition: Miami-based Bangbus.com is a leading purveyor of Internet porn, but at what cost to naïve models?” It's an old article, from October of 2004.
One of the interesting aspects of the article is the emphasis on the so-called “talent” being naïve and being taken advantage of in some sense, and the way in which I find this interesting has to do with the Bambi-eyed illustrations provided for the text by Fred Harper. Perhaps I'm becoming cold, callous even, in my approaching old age, but (“Dammit kids! Get off my yard / porch / driveway!”) I somehow fail to muster sympathy for supposedly naïve young people who do stupid things because of the idiotic circumstances into which they've put themselves. You get yourself knocked up, you don't have the guts to ask friends to help, and so you take the advice of an unreliable “boyfriend” and do some porn, stupidly believing that this won't “get out,” and on top of that you let the company cut the check to the unreliable boyfriend who decides to cut and run? Cry me a river. I don't think I was even that stupid at 10, let alone 20.
The real find of this article—after all, who is surprised that camera operator Greg Entner, who goes by the stage name Dirty Sanchez [see, our connection to Matt Sanchez], is a misogynistic prick, that some people get sucked into to the business, that somebody is making a lot of money at somebody else's expense—is Fred Harper's art. Fred is “just” an illustrator, but a talented enough one, one who does caricature, editorial cartoons, some sci-fi & fantasy, and even some “fine art.”
Since today's entry includes porn and prostitutes, and yesterday I continued a thread with muchagecko about comic artists, including the work of Frank Cho, who tends to do a lot of pin-up stuff, I figured I'd finish with some non-metaphorical cheesecake.
A simple, classic, creamy cheesecake is a filling baked about 1 hour and 15 minutes at 300F over a crust. One such simple filling is four 8oz. packs of cream cheese (softened), beaten until smooth, into which is blended 1 cup of sugar, after which a teaspoon of vanilla is added, and then, one by one, four eggs. I didn't have any graham crackers around, and I didn't feel like making a brownie crust or similar, so I just mixed 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup each of flour, ground walnuts, and brown sugar by hand, and pressed the mixture onto the bottom of a 9" round pan; I then pre-baked it for about 10–15 minutes. I had some this morning ... no need for a “topping”—it's decadent enough on its own.
One notices that the formatting of the two versions (German and English) differs; I have simply kept the formatting of the two pages from which I took the versions. I do not have a print copy of Celan's poem in German to make sure the stanza breaks are “right,” and the English simply follows the formatting given by the translator, it seems.
In the almond—what stands in the almond?
In the almond stands Nothing.
There it stands and stands.
In the Nothing—who stands there? The King.
There stands the King, the King.
There he stands and stands.
Jewish curls, no gray for you.
And your eye—whereto stands your eye?
Your eye stands opposite the almond.
Your eye, the Nothing it stands opposite.
It stands by the King.
So it stands and stands.
Human curls, no gray for you.
Empty almond, kingly blue.
—Translated by John Felstiner
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