japonisme: 5/27/07 - 6/3/07

02 June 2007


Seven White Butterflies

Seven white butterflies
delicate in a hurry look
how they bang the pages
of their wings as they fly

to the fields of mustard yellow
and orange and plain
gold all eternity
is in the moment this is what

Blake said Whitman said such
wisdom in the agitated
motions of the mind seven
dancers floating

even as worms toward
paradise see how they banter
and riot and rise
to the trees flutter

lob their white bodies into
the invisible wind weightless
lacy willing
to deliver themselves unto

the universe now each settles
down on a yellow thumb on a
brassy stem now
all seven are rapidly sipping

from the golden towers who
would have though it could be so easy?

Copyright © 1997 by Mary Oliver

White butterflies are thought to be spirits of the living as well as the dead, and may not be captured - the fragile insect is a symbol of immortality, due to the successive stages of its metamorphose from egg to caterpillar and from cocoon to adult insect. Its graceful fluttering from flower to flower...is easily compared to the fickleness of women who often change lovers (in search of money).1

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01 June 2007


lots of odds and ends today....

this show is excellent.



i just got the biography of misia out of the library, so i'm working on that, and also another post about another 'superstar' of the time, but in the meantime i wanted to mention that several weeks ago princess haiku mentioned she'd seen a post that might interest me.

she sent me over to celestine musings where there was a post on Cléo de Mérode. since she was directly aligned with the era that interests me the most, i googled her--or more specifically i google imaged her. and got two truly coincidental surprises.

first, i came across this photograph. look at the image i had just weeks before changed to for my 'photo.'

then, as i googled further (a search that the print was indeed cleo), i came across this photo.

in 1990 i had bought a set of books printed in japan called 'la collection 1990." on the cover of the volume featuring photographs of women of the era by reutlinger is this photo. i have stared at it often, finding the sheer incongruity of the combinations delightful.

of course, it's cleo too. somehow i just have the feeling we will meet again.


déjà vu all over again

31 May 2007


there are several things that i wonder about in the japanese culture i see in the prints. for example, why are the mirrors so often draped? is it merely (merely?) for decoration?

another thing i wonder about is those obi 'bows' in the back. it looks to me like they either make a woman look hunch-backed or thick-waisted. since neither are at all preferable in western culture (whereas the 'big behind' of a bustle might be), what am i not understanding?

and the last thing here... the one i'm most curious about of all, is this: why do these women take their clothing into their mouths so often?

now, if they are washing their hands, or even preparing their swords (!) and need to get those voluminous sleeves out of the way, i could understand. if they are in a rather intimate situation and are holding tissues, that i understand as well.

but these women do it much more often than that. is it instead of smoking? i have done it when i was scared. is it again with the modesty, like how a japanese woman will cover her mouth when she laughs (or we when we yawn)?

in any case, these questions will stay out there (i might post more examples) until someone with actual knowledge (or a damn good story) comes along!

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29 May 2007

in the street of persimmon

i will begin this post geographically rather than chronologically. david lance goines, as i have mentioned before, lives and works here in berkeley, and one sees his posters everywhere.

then one day i was looking at the mfa's fine collection of japanese postcards, and i came across this one, which looked like one of those 'direct link' kind of things with david's work.

studying these, and a number of the older woodblock prints from japan, i realized that while it was clear that the practice of outlining in this way originated in the japanese prints, one development added as it evolved into art nouveau was that the line thickened. the postcard is easily from after this had happened.

the rest was more or less stream of con- scious- ness.

but then i came across another print, this time of a wigmaker.

and her kimono reminded me of this stencil design for a kimono that i had found.

and wouldn't you know it,

the kimono design reminded me of another david lance goines poster.


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28 May 2007

cats is the funniest people


I am at once source
and sink of heat: giver
and taker. I am a vast
soft mountain of slow breathing.
The smells I exude soothe them:
the lingering odor of sex,
of soap, even of perfume,
its afteraroma sunk into skin
mingling with sweat and the traces
of food and drink.

They are curled into flowers
of fur, they are coiled
hot seashells of flesh
in my armpit, around my head
a dark sighing halo.

They are plastered to my side,
a poultice fixing sore muscles
better than a heating pad.
They snuggle up to my sex
purring. They embrace my feet.

Some cats I place like a pillow.
In the morning they rest where
I arranged them, still sleeping.
Some cats start at my head
and end between my legs
like a textbook lover. Some
slip out to prowl the living room
patrolling, restive, then
leap back to fight about
hegemony over my knees.

Every one of them cares
passionately where they sleep
and with whom.

Sleeping together is a euphemism
for people but tantamount
to marriage for cats.
Mammals together we snuggle
and snore through the cold nights
while the stars swing round
the pole and the great horned
owl hunts for flesh like ours.

ⓒ Marge Piercy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (etc.)

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27 May 2007

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens’
embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden
and silver light,

The blue and the dim
and the dark cloths

Of night and light
and the half light,

I would spread the cloths
under your feet:

But I, being poor,
have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams
under your feet;

Tread softly because
you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats The Wind Among the Reeds. 1899

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