Framenta Historia

7 February, 2006

We present here a historical document of profound importance. It dates from the first week of January, 2003, a time when the young men were still entrenched in the thorough procrastination of the latter secondary school years. The fragment of the electronic exchange begins:

L: how do I play C/B and C/A?
M: 030010, C/A i don’t know off hand

This cryptic code makes little sense to the reader uninitiated in the parlance of that most particular of acoustical instruments, the guitar. The mentioned “C/B and C/A” would sound a descent from the radiant C major chord, as its bass drops to the depths of an awaiting A minor, C major’s morose cousin.

It is not clear if “L” has previously initiated the conversation with more standard formalities and this is an incomplete fragment of the dialogue, or if the “in media res” effect was present in the original interaction. The next lines indicate that “L” may well have recently arrived, perhaps previously fully occupying himself with his musicianship:

L: was trying to play rebecca deville
L: quite unsuccessfully I might add

“L”‘s self-deprecating attitude is clear both from his undercutting statement with regard to his playing ability and, perhaps, his very choice of songs. “Rebecca Deville,” a traditional ballad style narrative by M. Jennings, is a tale of despair and lost love. Perhaps “L”‘s unrequited love for “M” or some other unmentioned object of amorous feelings is implied by the choice of songs. How, indeed, as “L” asks, does one play “C/B and C/A”?

That is, how does one express the slow descent from elation to melancholia and despair that is the nature of any lost love? “M”‘s technical, even scientific, response, “030010,” reveals his mild cold-heartedness, but perhaps also his ignorance of the despair that surrounds him. Indeed, he has never even experienced the depths of “C/A,” a bass line that has descended too low from jubilant C major for him to even understand without consulting an outside reference.

“M” responds with muted interest,

M: heh

Will “L” further ruminate upon his day? Undoubtedly. But that will be the subject of another volume.


On our way to fall

1 February, 2006

You, browsing this blog, wish for an intriguing bit of writing. If truth is told, this post lacks a particular non-consonant*, making its composition mildly tricky. Such a tactic was thought up by a group of authors known as Oulipo. This tactic is said to aid original thought and form in art. You may form your own opinion. It is constraining, no doubt, but inspiration was born of constraint.

Is it inspiration for intimacy too? If you and I stood vis-a-vis would constraints also stand in our way? Social norms might put up our guards, but it might also stand as origin of all our most brilliant inspiration. Finding ways around bricks and walls, arriving in a land unknown, you and I. Just a thought.

I miss that non-consonant, so I will go back to it. Still, this was not dull.

*=Editor’s note: A non-consonant would be a vowel

Whales and humans

23 January, 2006

Undoubtedly, most people have read or heard about the whale that swam up the River Thames into central London this week. I’ve heard many people talking about it, and it’s been headline news for the last few days – of course ending in the whale’s sad demise. Normally such a story probably would not capture my attention, but my initial introduction to it (“Hey, did you hear there’s a whale in central London?”) was especially intriguing because I happen to be an hour’s ride away from London at the moment. The “wow, cool” factor of course quickly gave way to sympathy and concern as it became clear the whale’s fate was dim. Indeed, I was downright bummed to read that rescuers had failed to save it.

Of course, it always makes one wonder when you see “Whale in Jeopardy” as a headline next to “20,000 Children Starving in Food Shortage” (or some such thing). It feels very trivial, really, to imagine people so wrapped up in one animal’s life when so many people are suffering and being neglected. People are somehow inevitably captivated by the story of one individual in trouble – especially if it’s an animal (though it happens with humans too; remember Elián Gonzalez). It’s so easy for us to ignore huge statistics and focus on the rarer incidents.

As a result, there will no doubt be skeptics who decry animal rights activists (and the general population) for becoming so concerned about one confused whale. Others will feel it’s trivial that people become wrapped up in stories of ultimately little consequence, whilst the “real news” is perpectually ignored.

Still, I think the way people have responded to this story shows a glimmer of something very good about humanity. We do, perhaps, get our priorities mixed up, but at the same time, it’s very heartening to know that so many people care about the pain, confusion and anguish of one creature. If it is still possible for most of us to care for something or someone in such a lowly position, perhaps there is hope that humans do have the compassion and empathy to feel for the lowliest humans as well, and to hope and work for something better.

It may not have been possible to save this particular unfortunate creature, but there are many others who are waiting for assistance, and there are many ways to help, from volunteering for or donating to organizations that help hungering children or the homeless, to more simple acts like saving a cat at the pound from being put to sleep for lack of an adopter.

I agree with people who think that it’s a little silly for people to be so wrapped up in the story of a whale that they lose focus on other things that matter. But I think it says something good about us humans, if we take it as an opportunity to realize just how much we do care about every little individual.

Half a bridge

20 January, 2006


The scene is summer in St. Paul, MN (my eternal infatuation). Perhaps the month is August, to be exact; perhaps the month is April, but perhaps it is still august. Perhaps it is the cruellest month.

I desire nothing but to go down that river with you on a steamboat’s easy amble. Perhaps that river is not the Mississippi, but the Thames. Perhaps you are not someone I know just yet (yes but maybe you are). Why not mix memory and desire, breed lilacs out of the dead land, shed January and dethaw in those warm waves, lilac wine shimmer in our wake?

When the bloodflow’s tingling sensation pricks a million pins into our arms as we wake, it is cruel indeed, but let us wake. Bid farewell to winter’s wondrous, dampened dreams, awake to summer, to the words that transcend that infinite distance between you and I.