Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pathos and Bathos

One of my lady correspondents, noting that my blogs of late had had middle aged lotharios chasing unnaturally beautiul women, had warned, "Beware of what you want. You might just get it."
Well it happened once. And man, did I get it.
Such a raking over the coals did I get that I am still not all right-- after twenty years! -- and I am a litle like Lady Macbeth trying to wash the guilt and sin away. Trying to put the my psychic laundry up on the clothesline of cyberspace, while knowing for sure that one is no closer to redemption or piety.
I am sure readers of this blog are tired of all this pathos, and face it, bathos but bathos is a state one is surely in, and once again, I will become like the cartoon of the same model engine going around the same track, over and over again, a little like to old movie starlet whom the gods destroyed by calling her promising.
Or maybe I just need a bath.
So once again, the potbellied middle aged man--some superhero!--Singleman on his quest for the unattainable bitch goddess.
Says Norman Mailer---the real bitch goddess is of no importance. It is the novel, the novel. That is your bitch.
You must break her or she will break you.
Well, one is very nearly broken. But like many another aging author, you can never give up. Never give in.
Faint pen never won fair lady. And here we go again.

Chapter One

Lana appears before you while you are rolling your own cigarettes, the 1920's Vogue face, the bobbed hair, a Drew Barrymore fallen into the rye on one September day, though I knew in future September days it was not a field of rye that Lana would fall into, but a baroque field of dreams, of opium, and then the rush of cocaine that would make her thoroughly modern, thoroughly Chicago out of 1930.

Yet it was l986.

I was a newspaperman with a predilection for French authors, because they were so maddeningly thorough, the linchpin of real writers and so well did I get to know twentieth century authors in French that I soon got to teach a night course in it.

Ah, the French penchant for the absurd, the splayed-out mysticism of an Andre Malraux and the incredible clarity of image and idea that only Frenchmen possess, and they'd be the first to tell you. Despite the utter incomprehensiveness of their humour (Fat man wears mop-wig--ha- ha) the French are somewhat superior and they know it. Celine, for instance, or, for that matter, Celine Dion.

Enough that I was a teacher of French authors and she walked in one day with no hint of the Vogue beauty that I would later know, no inkling as to the heaviness of spirit that would later come to oppress me, no clue at all as to the beautiful woman who resided in the suburban Mam's overalls, the little white tee shirt with the red apple monogram, the closely cropped hair like Celine Dion in Las Vegas.

Thoroughly modern.

But not me.

I was an old hot-lead linotype newspaperman just getting over a divorce, getting my love out of imagination, tossing the I-Ching, seeing my love in the allure of print until she walked in.

We had actually met the very first time on the stairs of Sacred Heart School where Seneca had a night class. She was on the way up and I was on my way down. She had looked different then, walking right up to what seemed the middle of a Goethe fantasy of mine. How these screwball women with their multiple personalities and costumes do attract one: She was the very image of Kathschen Shonkopf, Goethe's firs love, the nice high forehead so many girls from Ontario possess, the hair severely back in a bun with the neatest little bonnet atop, large haunting eyes like your mother's, straight nose somewhat probing, delightful little crooked lips and the cutest overbite.

She did encourage my Goethe fantasy. I saw another image of Lana, but this time with a pre-Victorian dress exquisitely corseted, nice breasts, waist hardly existent at all. And Granny boots!

So there were at least two Lanas that I already knew about, and after the years, many, many more.

But on this particular autumn evening, she was in to study French authors, a fascination for the Bastille, I guess, the French Revolution, socking it to the Bourbons (who would return a generation later to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing)--all that stuff of high drama for a fairly active imagination, constrained somewhat by a husband she imagined as pesky.

She did seem to know her French authors, but largely of the Victor Hugo mold and a lot of Dumas, the adventure, misery, suffering, cell-to-cell signaling. Was there a dungeon in her life?...Lord knows what the suburbanites in Bradford were up to these days.

I always found myself charmed to find that in spite of possibly rococo lifestyles up there in Riveredge Park, hardly anybody in my class, largely women, had ever read real novels like Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina, the substance of all those adventurous, adulterous wives who think their problems will end by leaving old hubber, only to find with Chekhov, that their problems were just beginning. Or was old Mr. Chekhov just a prig and a spoilsport who knew nothing about real swingers, a Wayne Newton who didn't know the first thing about Shania Twain. I don't know how I'd ended up at Lana's house.

A somewhat raffish untenured professor who enjoyed drinking with his students after class, I had no objections at all when she asked through a third person if she could come to one of the pub nights, and could she bring her husband.

Hubby was handsome as the night is long, like a European Wayne Gretzky, his manners continental, but no accent at all. Dracula in a hockey jersey, liked by all immediately, sweet as a pimp.

I could not help but marvel at the Vogue beauty of Lana now before me. What had happened to the closely-cropped hair? How did it reach lovely 1920's back-cut modishness in the scant three weeks that I'd seen her last, before she'd begged to get a little time off from her classes to go on a "camping trip"? A wig, of course, but it made her look more like Drew Barrymore, though Lana had a deeper beauty, more English, the inner glow, the hint of Viking.

I was lighting my cigarettes backwards. I had no idea how this present-day Julie Christie out of the Twenties had even broached the threshold of my life and wondered why she seemed so interested in me. I also wondered, as a veteran of not a few affairs, how many others had been pole-axed in the same way. She'd obviously been charming men for a long, long time, the blue eye shadow, the absolute blondness, pint size and everything about her fashioned, turned, just so. Sheer elegant femininity, and you could bet your granny boots there were at least three other guys playing here besides old hubber. Unnatural elfin beauty. A setup for loners and stoners.

The husband's name was Leif. Leif the Lucky. Or was he?

I balked at first when they poured me into their red SUV, to be carted home with them. Drunk, I was babbling, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his goods, nor his ass. Leif seemed somehow intrigued by this last reference to Immanuel Kant.

Enough that we somehow got to a neat white cottage in Holland Landing, the husband unexpectedly retired rather suddenly, passed out in the bedroom and Lana and I were left to ourselves in a shag-rugged and Danish-style living room with its U-shaped chesterfield facing an immense picture window with the drapes not yet drawn. And the chess table in the corner.

And suddenly I became aware of how lonely I was, me the divorcee and frequent near-separado from my subsequent live-ins, the man of many wives and master of none. It seemed I was suddenly curved up in a ball of loneliness, vulnerability, want. I just wanted her, anybody, anybody like her, to hold me. "Just hold me," I was beginning to keen.

Very deliberately, she put an open palm and extended, graceful fingers to the seat of where she saw the trouble to be. Maybe just a lonesome woman not sure of herself , or someone used to certain kinds of men, or maybe this had to a a wham-bam-thank-you ma'am, and that would be my fifteen minutes.

Earlier, she had gone to the hi-fi to put on an LP and I noted she kept bending over to reveal a beautiful pear-shaped derriere that she seemed rather anxious to display. Was she a virgin, the wife of some Ruskin, who was found years later to still possess her hymen after a lifetime of marriage? A lesbian? A lady of the night? Or maybe a lonesome woman. A lonesome woman suddenly not sure of herself because of a husband's imbroglios, or homosexuality, or extramarital affairs, or all of the above.

In any event, we settled down. She had put on, of all things, my favourite Bob Dylan LP, the "Bringing It All Back Home" one. Pop nihilism , but what an articulate and haunting nothingness. "It's all right ma, I'm only crying," the great American genius rasping it all out, sharp trick-of-the-trade F-chord penetrating the D tonic, then quickly to a G and then back to the D, doom-da-da-dadda dum.

Holy mackerel! She was right on my frequency.

..........end chapter

Well yes folks. You have read this before on this blog.

But I have become like Dustin Hoffman, the madman in the French movie Papillon, madly tilling my garden onto compulsion and delusion, the weeds winning and my seeds not coming up.

It might be time for a swim out of Devil's Island.


From Wikipedia:

Bathos is from the Greek βάθος, meaning depth. As used in English it originally referred to a particular type of bad poetry, but it is now used more broadly to cover any ridiculous artwork or performance. More strictly speaking, bathos is unintended humor caused by an incongruous combination of high and low. If the contrast is intended, it may be described as Burlesque or mock-heroic. It should also not be confused with pathos, which is general storytelling directed to the emotions, usually sadness.

Lower the bathyscape!



Charles Gramlich said...

I really like the line about the rush of cocaine making her fully modern. Very observant.

Lana Gramlich said...

I wasn't actually limiting my comment to women...I think it applies to just about everything there is, in one way or another--fame, love, money, what have you...Be careful what you wish for. said...


How is it that by some accident I named my "heroine" Lana three years ago? Total coincidence.

Yes, beware of what you want.
I tried being a rock star, made it and all of a sudden realized that it was just a job and I was getting tired of all the drinking and drugs.

...Was a pretty successful journalist until I realized one day that except for the names being changed, I wrote pretty much the same story over and over again every day...And yet the grass- is -greener syndrome! I ran away from home to be the lonely garret artist. Wham! What the hell did I do that for? Had to go back to where I was before.
But I was now given the Ray Charles treatment:

"Hit the road, Jack
And don't you come back no mo' no' mo'.

"Oh woman oh woman you treat me so mean
"You're the meanest woman I've ever seen."

"Don't care if you do 'cause its understood
"Cause you ain't got no money and you ain't no good.

Fritz the Cat thrown out. And now not in my garret but the gutter.

And then the Bob Dylan Syndrome:

"Don't put on any more airs when you'e down in Rue Morgue Avenue
"They got some hungry women there
And they'll really make a mess out of you.
They did.
But then I suppose there are still some effed-up women walking around too.
Have you ever read Esquire Magazine's mock psychoanalysis of Georgie-Porgie?

And all this time he had been success-shy with the big boys and girls.

Anonymous said...


You are invited to attend The 'Opening Face-off Party" & Fundraiser for the 5th Annual Friendly Neighbourhood Youth Road hockey Challenge on Fri Mar 20 at 8PM hosted by PACC.

Gala features live entertainment until 11PM followed by the house DJ

Entertainment includes local favourites, "The Girlz" followed by special guest and international sensation - Stand- up Comic - Craig Maclachlan!

Rounding out the evening's live entertainment is Pete Martin a phenomenal performer who plays everything from Stevie Wonder to The Eagles to reggae. Pete has performed and toured with the Platters and as well played on Juno Award winning albums!

Finger foods will served up right after the Town Council skills Challenge in the parking lot - beat the councilors scores to win a chance for an autographed Mike Weir hat or a Jason Spezza stick. Also meet some members of the Newmarket Hurricanes as well as CFL great and Grey cup ring winner - Alanzo Jarret!

Voluntary Cover

RSVP appreciated but not neccessary to attend. You may forward to your friends.

In addition to a $1000 education " Mike Thornhill" Award, the event will split remaining proceeds with PACC and "Operation Sparrow" which allows low income families opportunities for their children to particpate in sports and other cultural activities at no cost- alongside all other kids!More at

--Tom Pearson

Anonymous said...

For Immediate Release - Monday Mar 23 2009 - Youth Road-hockey summary

The 5th annual Friendly Neighbourhood Youth Road-hockey Challenge held last Fri and Sat was a great success raising almost $2,500 for the causes including the $1000 Mike Thornhill Memorial Education Award sponsored by Young Drivers of Canada and Roadhouse & Rose Funeral Home. The remaining funds raised will be split between PACC and Operation Sparrow.

The event kicked off Fri eve with the Town Council Skills Challenge as Councilor Larry Blight handily defeated the other participating council members, followed by the Opening Face-off Party at the white rabbit Upstairs.

In Saturdays youth action the Newmarket Lion's Club Brayfield Bears won the consolation final by a 6-3 score over the P&C Compostech London Rd.Bulls, while in the championship game the Dr. Barry Shapero Orthodontists Quaker Hill Quakers defeated the
Scotia Bank on Main Mulock Hawks 7-3. In the Mayors Charity Golf Classic 'pick-up game" open to anyone, the young bucks defeated the old guys 14-8.

Free hot chocolate was served gameside while intermission featured free hot dogs & pops for the youths and volunteers courtesy of the white rabbit Upstairs as well as entertainment with pianist Greg Zawaski providing the "Lunch Live" showcase. Newmarket's Mike Wilson won the draw for an autographed Mike Weir hat and Don Hopkins the signed Jason Spezza hockey stick.

13 year old Brayfield Bears player Gregory Carbis was the winner of the education award - awarded to a player nominated by his or her team for being a positive community role model. An excerpt from Gregory's nomination reads - "Greg is an outgoing child and always willing to give. He has helped in our community's yearly Easter Extravaganza, Christmas events and many other things, as well as rounded up our team."

Pretty much sums up the spirit of this great community event!

--Tom Pearson said...

You are doing good work locally, Tom Pearson.

benjibopper said...

bathyscope, ha! I'm pretty sure that humour was intended --it would have been too perfect if it wasn't.

there is a balance to be found somewhere between old and new. a lot of my blog digs up the old and tries to make it new. but every now and then i gotta get out and write something completely new, or i'd go nuts.

when all else fails, get out the map! said...


I don't know how good my work is locally...Writing about past Bradford shenanigans...And Bradford is just next door! said...


Well, when I reached your impasse some years ago, the therapist hadsaid "You are growing."
"Yeah," I muttered. "Growing into a madman."

You are not nuts, of course. You are developing. Transition.
Chinese say crisis=opportunity.

Or, yes, maybe time to reach for the map. Maybe for both you and me. said...


Cool turn on the bathyscape. :)

benjibopper said...

Thanks Ivan!

on a completely unrelated note, ever read any leon rooke? said...


But I've read Ludwig Wittgenstein: "A sentence is a word picture" etc., etc.

Donnetta Lee said...

We never seem to wish for what would be good for us, do we? It's sometimes like living in the Twilight Zone. We wish. We get it. We are soooo sorry. And we can't put the genie back in the bottle. Well, three wishes anyway. We waste the first two. Then, with the third, we wish things back the way they were in the first place. If we're lucky, the wish comes true. If not, Mephistofeles laughs. D said...

Mephistopheles to Faustus:

"Ah Faustus, thou hast one bare hour left to live. And then thou shalt be damned perpetually!"

Ah well. Marlowe's Faustus somehow gets back!

....It's been 33 years and I haven't made it yet. :-O

the walking man said...

Ivan...Before I attempt to make comment on the rewrite I have a question that I need answered. It is the same question a publisher is querying me about one of my novels under consideration.

Who are you writing for? What demographic makes up your audience? Are you writing for professors of literature with advanced degree's, the average reader of memoir and fiction or are you simply purging your soul? said...


Good points.

But I'm just trying to write good. said...

p.s. to Donnetta,

I just thought, on rereading, how apposite, how right-on your comment was.

the walking man said...

The professor was drunk eh? If so he is over thinking this encounter, using his mind over his balls, which as you well know, think ten times faster than an inebriated brain. said...

That's quite an insight, Mark.
The old bit out of Proverbs: My husband is away. Will you not lie with me? And so the fool does. And then she holds him mothing more than a piece of bread.
Later, in the New Testament, I really do think they overcompensated. To do a malapropism on Mick Jagger's Sympathy for the Devil, I really think old St. John was really too hard on the Whore of Babylon.

Monique said...

Hi Ivam (Ivan) You're okay I see. Did you know that your other facebook profile still exists? I have two friends now, one is Ivan and the other Ivam. said...

Monique. Facebook is messed up.I had lost my Facebook password and applied again, had a typo in my first name wchich Facebook coulld not correct. Furthermore, my new computer has the wrong cookies to re-register with Facebook properly.
So I stay as Ivam now and also Ivan.

I think I'm going to kill myself.

Anonymous said...

This is messed up... During the economic crisis and political instability the Canadian bureaucracy has proposed a new law which will remove Canadian rights and freedoms and take over a huge part of our government.

----- Original Message -----
From: Lorna
To: "Susan King" , "Shawn B" , "John Stevens" , "peter helgason" , "Lyren Chiu" , "Lorna at work" , "Liam Matznic" , "Lesley Punt" , "Julia Rickert" , "Ian Stewart" , "Brett Hawes" , "Brad Stephan" , "Benjamin Middleton" , "Anthony Stephan" , "Randy Gomm" , "John H Biggs" , Janey ,, "Rick DeSylva" , "Tiffany Sampson" , "Franca Longbobardi" , Daniel
Subject: This is really bad… Please read
Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 10:15:13 -0800

Canadian Rights and Freedoms are at Risk
An Important Notice Regarding Bill C-6

On January 29th, 2009, the Canadian Minister of Health introduced Bill C-6 into the House of Commons. Similar to last year’s Bill C-52, this bill poses a grave threat to the Rights, Freedoms and Democratic processes all Canadians now have. The powers sought after in Bill C-6 again are hidden in what is meant to seem like a much needed Consumer Product Safety Act.

Bill C-6 will:

Remove your Elected Officials ability to protect you against illegal or brutal actions from government agencies. If voted into law Bill C-6 will remove Parliaments authority over the Health and Safety of Canadians. Decisions will be made behind closed doors with foreign governments, international trade organizations and government agents who may not have your best interests in mind.
Remove your Right to have a judge review and approve actions taken against people, companies and organizations, before they have been proven guilty of any offence.
Punish Canadians with little opportunity for protection or recourse, without any proof of guilt or wrong doing. Guilt will no longer be decided in a court room. Guilty verdicts will come from the office of the minister of health. No evidence will be required, no defense will be allowed, no warning will precede their actions.

When C-6 becomes law government agents will:

Search and seize property and bank accounts without a warrant.
Create laws based on global policy and big corporate interests.
Take action against Canadians without any evidence or proof of wrong doing.
Deny Parliament the ability to protect Canadians rights and freedoms

With completely unchecked power will Health Canada bend to the bribery, and influence peddling of large corporate interests? Would they ever turn this power loose on the Canadian people?

Examples of abuse from Health Canada Agents.

In 2003 Health Canada launched an attack on a group of mentally ill patients and the not for profit company that supported them. They seized shipments of a safe natural therapy required by the patients and stormed a mental health support center with 17 armed officers and agents. The Company (Truehope) reported that they had lost contact with more than 300 of their Canadian participants. The Canadian Mental Health Association told of suicides as a result of this government action.

Health Canada then charged the not for profit company, burdening them with heavy legal costs. Health Canada lost their case. Although the agents admitted knowing they were injuring people through their actions, they continued to enforce policy at the cost of life. And what happened to the more than 300 mentally ill Canadians that became unreachable? In the months and years following, reports of hospitalizations and suicides during the seizures have surfaced. No Health Canada Agent has ever been charged.

Click on the following links to view video and audio files documenting the result of these actions. (YouTube videos)

· Truehope participant denied help by Health Canada

· Bedlam to Bureaucracy. Showing Health Canada’s lack of regard for Canadian health and wellbeing

· Health Canada loses court case against Truehope Support

Why do bureaucrats need to bypass the Parliament and Senate approval process to create new laws? These processes are open and visible to public scrutiny. What don't they want us to see?

Why do bureaucrats want search and seizure powers without being required to provide any reason or evidence of guilt or wrong doing? The Canadian Courts were put in place to protect Canadians and provide a third party review of all claims and actions against an innocent party. What are the bureaucrats planning that they don't want a judge to see?

With the ability to levy fines in the millions of dollars, seize property and bank accounts without a warrant, and inject foreign laws into Canada without any oversight, is this new law designed to silence and discriminate against certain groups of Canadians or just to undo the democratic processes that our forefathers fought for and died to protect?

If C-6 is allowed to become law, Health Canada's Brooks Claxton Building will become the dominant symbol of power and authority in Canada. Global corporate interests will become Canadian Law and the Canadian people will have no say in how they are governed. The democratic processes that have served us for more than a hundred years will not have the ability to protect us.

Here's what you can do to protect your rights:

Educate Yourself

· Go to

· Read bill C-6 on

Get Involved

· Talk to your local press

· Contact your local MP Click here

· Blog and post online about it

· Ask the leaders in your community to get involved

· Contact your MLA

· Tell your friends

· Print off this fact sheet and hand it out in your neighborhood

Please forward this message to all of your concerned friends, family, and community leaders.

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