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Torre di BolognaPartisans and others who died in WW2 era

Chiesa S Teresa, BolognaRoom for rent, S Lorenzo, Roma

Marcella and Guglielmo Enea from Palermo, in Roma

Stanza di S. Ignazio, hallway by Pozzo

Traveling too quickly and busily to find time to post – Rome, Bologna, Rome, Lisbon.  Now in Madrid after two days in Toledo.  A mind full of thoughts provoked by things seen, must find the time in the coming month (in Sicily) to sit down and organize the swirl of perceptions which open in this journey, an accumulation of many years of knowing Europe.  In time.

Classes started again at Yonsei, and need to post some information for classes, so here goes:

Undergraduate Visual Directing people:

The class got too big but yesterday we went to arrange to split it into two classes, one on Monday afternoons (1pm-4pm) and one on Friday afternoon (2pm-5pm), now located in the inD cinema room of the Grad School of Arts & Communications.  We’ll start doing the Monday class the week after this one.  So everyone come this Friday to the class.  Meantime please send me email with you name/email so I can contact you directly that way.

The assignment for this week is to shoot, as much time as you can give to it, with digital video camera, trying out every control and digital effect your camera has:

shutter speed, diaphragm, focus, digital effects (strobe, flash, trail, old movie, mosaic, solarizing – whatever your camera has, try it)

try to NOT do things right or “correct” – instead play like a child would with a first finger-paint kit, making a mess, experimenting, just seeing what happens when you use your camera like an innocent – overexpose, underexpose, shoot out of focus, wave the camera around, look up, look down, don’t look.

And then select the most interesting 1 minute and either cue up to it, or if you have editing capacity, select the most interesting minute and have it ready to go labeled LESSON ONE.

Educational rule #1:   HAVE FUN!  If you are not having fun, you are fighting and fighting doesn’t help you learn.  Learning should be fun and you should do it your whole life.

For those in Sublime Cinema, check here on Monday for some thoughts and things about Tribulation 99 and coming film.

안녕하세요. 존 조스트 감독님께서 부탁하신, Visual Directing 과제 및 분반 관련한 공지의 말씀을 올립니다.
참고하시길 바라구요.
다만 inD 상영관의 사용은 사전 허가가 있어야 하는데, 이 부분이 해결된 것인지 아직 확인되지 않았습니다.
만약 변경 사항이 있을 경우, 본 블로그에 다시 공지하겠습니다.


“수강생이 너무 많아서, 월요일 오후 1~4시, 금요일 오후 2~5시 수업으로 분반했습니다.
장소는 커뮤니케이션 대학원 3층에 위치한 inD 상영관 입니다.
수강생 여러분께서는 내가 연락할 수 있는 이름과 이메일 주소를 이메일로 보내 주십시오.”

여러분의 디지털 캠코더에 내장된 모든 조절 장치 및 디지털 이펙트를 시도하여, 충분한 시간을 들여, 촬영하십시오.
가령 셔터 스피드, 조리개, 포커스 맟 디지털 이펙트 (스트로브, 프래쉬, 트레일, 올드 무비, 모자이크, 솔라이징…) 등 여러분의 카메라가 지니고 있는 기능들을, 무엇이든 시도해 보십시오.

사물을 ‘정확하게 (=곧이 곧대로만)’ 보려 하지 마십시오.
대신에 노출과다, 노출부족, 아웃 오브 포커스 촬영, 올려다 보기 (하이 앵글?), 내려다 보기(로우 앵글?) 등을 통해 빚어지는 실험적인 이미지들을 얻고자 시도해 보십시오.

그리고 나서, 가장 재미있는 1분 가량의 활영분을 골라 오십시오.
(수업시 바로 시사할 수 있도록, 미리 해당 부분에 맞춰 오셔야 합니다)
편집이 가능하신 분은 가장 재미있는 1분 분량을 고르신 후 ‘LESSON ONE’ 이라는 라벨 작업까지 준비해 보십시오.

즐기며 작업하세요.
‘즐기지’ 못한 채 ‘싸워야’ 한다면, 그것은 배움에 도움이 되지 못합니다.

– 존 조스트 –

Translation thanks to Kim Hye-ran.

Feb 18,  Gua Musang, Malaysia

A few days listless in Kuala Lumpur, during the begining of the Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger, predicted by astrologers to be a lousy run around the sun – we took a bus to Kuala Lipis, a small town near the setting of U-Weih’s new film based on the Conrad book, Almayer’s Folly, where we visited with Sam, his Australian set-designer.  We saw some rudimentary roads gouged into the red earth, the basic foundations of a house, the river bank where in 8 weeks will – supposedly – stand an old-style house, another “palace,” a warehouse and a small local village, all circa 1880 or so.  It’s an ambitious production, aiming for an international presence, a first for Malaysia.  Given the torpid tropical heat and the habits of life that come with it, I found myself skeptical it will be, as planned, all there in 2 months when shooting begins.

One of U-Weih’s film settings

Told of the lead actor’s – some Aussie TV fellow – behavior of already beginning to twist the schedule I wonder how the prima donnas of the cast will take to the elemental amenities of Kuala Lipis, a small backwater town.  I suggested they dump the TV guy now.   Perhaps unjustifiably I smell problems and am glad I don’t have to deal with them.  Marcella may return, at their invitation, in May or June, to spend some days shooting a “back-stage” something.

[Little note: somewhere back 6 months or so ago I read in some film trade rag that Chantal Ackerman was making a film based on the same book.]

After a rickety local train ride in a car minus a window, nearly all broken seats, sounding as if a bearing or two were shot, noisily shunting over rough tracks we arrived at Gua Musang,  just outside a national rain forest park, where we checked into a very funky hotel to the tune of $9 a night or so. It was right next to a KFC, the distinct fumes of which invaded our room.  The KFC was the only evident sign of much not local – and I can’t comprehend why anyone here would eat there given the local places down the street with much better food for less – ah, the wonders of “branding.”

Outside, the town is eerily like an American western town: mainstreet, a few parallel streets, a vague similarity in the architectural forms if not the decor.  Further on there’s a place of shanties that gives way to a Chinese section of finer houses, street-front restaurants, a small park.  The Chinese homes open to the street, families haunched on their porches or sitting visible inside.  It’s just been the Chinese New Year, so banners and good luck placards grace their doors, red lamps hang across the streets and fireworks still explode .  From their looks, and the children who practice their “hello,” I gather foreigners are few and far between in their part of town.

Yesterday, a man and his wife and child approached me, warmly saying “Hello.  Welcome.  Where are you  from.”  He had his hand thrust out to shake and just as his hand slid into mine and a went to grasp, I said “America” and his had stopped, withdrew, and he promptly hustled his family away.  It was hardly the first time I’d noted a frosty demeanor once I said I was from the US.  On the train coming here I talked to the ticket taker, who likewise was less than friendly once I said the dirty word, but I confronted him with it, and let him know that many Americans do not like what their government does, and we managed to have a little talk in very broken English.  It is clear that among the Islamic population here – about 70% – America is not kindly seen.  Perfectly understandable to me.  While here I’ve read a book on Islam by Karen Armstrong (back a few years ago I read another at Maher al Sabagh’s request, preparing to write some things for his film The Arabian Dream). Still, it is disconcerting and for the rest of the stay I think I’ll be Italian along with Marcella.

We intended to go to the national park, a protected rain forest jungle, but we got waylaid during a late lunch in the Chinese district where a woman snared us into a restaurant, we had an excellent meal, and then she shunted us to her extended family’s table where my beer glass never emptied.  I stumble away a bit drunk and bedded down at 6:30 to awake at 8 am.  Hmmmm…

The train conductor who initially recoiled at my word I was American.  We had a nice if limited talk.  His job was to get on the train at Kuala Lipis, where he lived, punch the passenger tickets with an assistant, sit for the 90 minute ride, get off at Gua Musang, and catch another train back.   End of work day.

Limestone mountains jutting out around Gua Musang

Malay kids (Marcella’s foto)Alice Ho, from Kota Kinabalu, who got me drunk

Gua Musang seemed divided into 2 basic parts, though we learned on leaving there was another section.  One was downtown and nearby, with some rather dilapidated residential areas of shanties we walked through with the people there friendly but surprised anyone would walk through.  Very funky, dirty, ramshackle.  Downtown and these areas were clearly Malay (Muslim).  Then there was the Chinese area, laid out in a rectangular range of streets centered around a small park.  It was neater, clearly more wealthy, and alive with small restaurants, shops, the tail end of the New Year celebrations still going on.  In the Muslim area we had some nice street meals – one I had and liked a lot was a spicy soup of intestines.  Very good, very cheap.

Sign on the hotel ceiling pointing to MeccaWell-hung banana tree

On leaving we got a van that runs daily from Gua Musang to the Cameron Highlands town of Tanah Rata.  It picked us up at our ratty little hotel and proceeded to what seemed a classier suburban area of better houses, a little shopping strip of new stores, bigger mosque than the one near the center of town, and a “nice” hotel where we picked up 8 other passengers, all westerners (US & France) who’d all been to the rain forest park.  Some of them affected a hippiesque New Age mode and Marcella and I laughed at their need for this nice tidy hotel, and doubted they’d checked out the other part of town.  If prices were normal I’d guess the hotel ran $40-50 or so, a bargain to most western people, but then it isolates you from the place you are visiting.   While I’d have liked to go to the rain forest, I wouldn’t have liked to do so with these folks.   On getting left off in Tanah Rata most the others got out at a totally westernized New Agey place completely occupied by other folks from  all over Europe, Australia, etc., 100% white.   A “Lonely Planet” place.  Our friend from Seoul, a Malaysian Chinese, Chan, picked us up and drove us through the Highlands near Ringlet to her family’s house where we are now.  Of which more soon.

Tea plantation near Ringlet, Cameron Highlands

For more pictures of our trip see Clara’s blog

In today’s New York Times was a little article on Chinese independent filmmakers, springing of the screening of one at the New York Film Festival, Ghost Town by Zhao Dayong.   In it was a little quote which struck a chord in me, and wrote still another Letter to the Editor Sure Not to Be Published:

As a long-time (45+ years) American “independent”  filmmaker, this quote from an article in the NY Times, rang a dissonant bell:

““I feel very frustrated,” Mr. Zhao said. “I’m a Chinese filmmaker, and of course my audience should be the Chinese people, especially since my films are about ordinary working Chinese people.” He added, “That would be more valuable than winning an international film festival.”

As an American – and hardly the only one – I could easily say the same thing, though the politics are different, the effect is the same. In our country the Glorious Market Economy mantra is the shibboleth which dictates what is to be seen or not, as effectively as the Chinese Communist  Party does there.  The end result is the same.  I’ve won my bit of international festival la dee da, but the films remain mostly unseen.  A long list of my peers could say the same.

Jon Jost

The long list could include quite a number of accessible “realists” like Lance Hammer, Eagle Pennell, on back to John Cassavetes or even before.  It could include more experimental real Americans like James Benning.  It could include me.  We don’t need a heavy-handed Chinese Communist Party censorship board to quash us, we have the wonderful make-the-maximum-buck-whatever-the-cost free-wheeling American capitalist system to do the job.  You aren’t interested in making the most money, then go f..k yourself.  This applies to artisans making the things, to distributors to exhibitors, who, if they aren’t aiming for the lowest-common-denominator maxi-dollar deal, are in for an early demise.  Ask Dan Ladely out in Nebraska at the Ross Cinema, under the gun of budget cuts, or ask the myriad small distributors who’ve bitten the dust in the last decade.  Or the theaters that closed.

By way of a minimal compensation for this grave distortion in our communal values, the MacArthur Foundation offers up 25 half-million buck grants each year, to a variety of people, including artists and scientists and writers and others most of whom you probably never heard of before.  Hopefully the big bucks don’t warp them, and they keep on truckin’ doing whatever they were doing.  Given the choices I’d guess that’d be the case.

And then another brief item in the New York Times, conflicting with another a few days ago which gave a number about 100 less, is this

Names of the Dead

Published: September 28, 2009

The Department of Defense has identified 840 American service members who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations. It confirmed the death of the following American on Monday:

GRAHAM, Kevin J., 27, Specialist, Army; Benton, Ky.; Second Infantry Division.


27military.span.600 (2)Our guys in Afghanistan winning hearts and minds

Long way from Kansas or Kentucky…  Pressured by his generals, armchair strategists, blow-hard “patriots” and snookered circumstances, Obama is weighing the scales on this one – to stay, to leave, to stay and leave or…

Meanwhile our little orb keeps telling us a few things, probably things we’d rather not be hearing:

antarctic and greenland meltingIce loss in Antarctic600-sydney-span1Sydney Opera House this Spring (now)balad base iraqRoughing it at Balad Base, Iraqdisneyland dioramaOriginal Mock-up model for Disneyland

And to put it all in a little perspective

raptor rex


On the other hand, somethings never change, though since the experiment about internet search mechanisms was done, CE gets a lot more hits, and increasingly of this kind – more porn poetry from the search engines:

sucking on your own boobs
great french boobs
big boobs
porn postings
pics of the big boobed blue bird
big boobs hd pics
cut off penis
helicopter +boobs
mean wife with big boobs
big boobs no hips
big boobs
beautiful boobs
korean big boobs
limp penis
map of boobs
big bobs arabian women
big boobs amateur
cuts off penis
big boobs
teachers with big boobs
erigierter penis
penis in shoe
penis symbol
big boobs
big boob women
philippines girls boobs photo
big boobs ugly
boobs & cars
guys suking boobs
child erected penis
penis erigiert
arab boobs
big heavy boobs
boobs food
cock boot
yoko ono boobs
big boob star
skinny people big boobs
big boops
big mother fucking boobs
banks boobs
3d penis model
chicago big boobs
pretty penis shapes

packing up100

The house is a bit of chaos, piled with boxes, the litter of yet another move.  I long ago lost track of how many places I’ve lived, so this is all quite familiar.  I’m rather expert on packing things in boxes.    Next week it’ll all get shoved in a truck and driven 10 or so miles to another place, a little two story storage shed of a sort, where we’ll spend the next year.  New place will be bigger by maybe almost 50%, is more centrally located in city so the punishing thought of an hour each way to do more or less anything will be cut in half, and it is cheaper.  Or in Korean fashion, almost free:  here you can put down a fat deposit, returnable on departure, and have no rent.  Just what they do with the money to make this a paying proposition for the landlord, I don’t know.   But it is normal here.   So all these boxes will be moved along, and the next day Marcella and I will get to the airport and fly to London where we have 9 days to see friends, go to museums, plays, and such, and then on to Galway, Ireland.  There we show some films – Marcella’s first feature, Landing in the Morning Calm, and then a film we did together, a documentary portrait of Steve Lack entitled Rant, and then the little throw-away short, Mr Right.

A&J park1d

Landing in the Morning Calm, by Marcella Di Palo Jost




Mr Right

The occasion for the screenings is the Galway Film Fleadh, a festival.  A friend of mine in Ireland, Joe Comerford, tried for some years to get me invited, and this year they finally did so.  I confess I did a little of the final bit myself, more or less inviting Marcella and myself.  We’ll be doing a 5 day workshop too, with, if all goes well, a public screening on the last day of the festival of the things made.   So it should be a busy time.  Afterward we’ll take a week to see the Irish west coast, and I hope to do a bit of shooting with the new Excam.  Landscapes I think, but we’ll see what we see.  Taking a little tripod, and some cheaper storage chips that I got after some web-research: 16 gig chips for $100 rather than Sony’s proprietary ones for $500 for 8 gigs.  After Ireland we fly to Bologna to visit Marcella’s sister in Rimini, and some other relatives near Bologna.  I’ll make sure to go to Ravenna, to which I’ve never been, to see the mosaics.  And perhaps to Rome to shoot a quick film, though I think better to pass on that for now.  Then down to Matera in Basilicata, where we’ll nose around the region, while Marcella visits parents.    I return to Seoul end of August, and Marcella will stay on another month to be with family a bit.

Marcella’s film was casually pieced together, initially without a real intention to make a proper film, just shooting with a cluster of Americans living in Seoul, using a little Sony HDR HC9, with its on-board mikes.  After a bit this began to form into a film, in which Marcella and her friend Amber Hill, who plays a lead role, collaborated in developing a minimal bit of story, and in the span from October to March, a film emerged.    I think it came out quite well, an interesting glimpse into the lives of these 20-somethings out in the larger world while still cocooned inside their youthful incestuous smaller one.  Luckily a number of them are musically talented, which Marcella put to good use.  Landing has been sent to a number of festivals, and we’ll see how many take it.

Minnie cuLanding in the Morning Calm

Rant was shot in two bursts, back in 2006-07, on a whim.  I’d met Steve Lack originally when making All the Vermeers in New York, in which he was the lead actor.  We got along well, and on my visits to New York afterward I’d try to see him.  At some point we rather casually thought to make a portrait, and on the next visit, we – Marcella and I – started to shoot – just goofing around without too much forethought aside from my decision to shoot most of it in a slow shutter mode, to have a “painterly” kind of imagery which I thought would be fitting to his work.   Marcella edited the first chunk, and we decided we needed more to fill it out, and on another visit to the East Coast we spent 5 days hanging around with Steve, going upstate to his house and studio near Saratoga, and got another sizable chunk.   Steve digitized pictures of his paintings, we got his son Asher’s first album, Reichenbach Falls, with his band Ravens and Chimes (very nice music) and Marcella set down again to wrestle it into form.  About a year ago it got pretty much finished, running just over 60 minutes.  But somehow it didn’t quite work, being a little too soft.  We sat on it a while, and then I took a look at some material Marcella hadn’t included (or, as it turns out, even looked at), and without changing much in her edit, I added a few things that seemed to give the film a needed bit of bite.  Now runs 87 minutes.   It was pretty much a 50/50 collaboration between Marcella and me, in all senses.  I shot most of it, Marcella did a bit of camera too, she edited mostly, and I added a bit.  It’s our film.  And of course, Steve’s.


Mr Right was shot last year with my students at Yonsei, a little sketch of the lives of these students, revolving mostly around the matter of love, getting married, under the pressures of Korean cultural norms.   It screened at the Rotterdam festival this year in the context of an omnibus work including 2 other 30 minutes shorts done by my students, titled Love in the Shadows.


Mr Right

However, out in the larger world, while we may imagine moving time, it is much more that time moves us.  Currently playing out in the world’s attention is the drama in Iran, seemingly heading toward some kind of conclusion.  Listening to the night-time chants of Allah Akbar, echoing from the rooftops and windows of the city, there is a sense of the organic communal life where hidden in anonymity, the many become one.  Those in power surely must find this sound haunting and deeply threatening:

Just as the populace finds these men threatening.

basij iranian militia

basij militia, the police force of the political powers of Iran

teheran image

Off stage, at least to much of the world, another confrontation is occurring, one which, however seemingly distant, is directly enmeshed in each of us:  as with the conflicts in the Nigerian delta over oil extraction, this one, in Peru, has to do with the re-ordering of indigenous cultures – or of wiping them out – in the interests of corporate powers extracting raw materials to support our “modern lifestyle.”   This is the price:

peru police garcia president

peru thomas quirynen marijke deleu

On a more “personal” level, this past week a cousin of mine died, Cis Porter-Chambers.  She was my age, give or take a year, and had lived what I suppose was a thwarted life.  She wanted to be a writer.  She became a mother, had her children abducted by her husband, and then was estranged from them (in a scenario a bit normal for those – like the mother of my daughter Clara – who seize their children like objects, keeping the other parent from contact, and then indoctrinate them as they will).  For the past years Cissie struggled to stay afloat, and then a year or so ago was hospitalized with colon cancer, had a good piece removed, and then last week was hospitalized again with infection which overwhelmed her.   She had found an English teaching job at a community college which she liked and had begun to think of writing, started a blog.  And life is sometimes cruel.

Moving On 1992

No More 1992

A Walk from the Cage 1986Paintings by Steve Lack


And now back to the boxes and the myriad last minute things of setting off for a trip.

Back to Seoul, following some fun adventures in bus stations, buses, Rawa Island, Singapore and airports.  Excuse the relative absence while on the road, but there was little time for scribbling here.  Meantime the world continued to deteriorate, or at least the official version did.  The stockmarket is heading to the 5000 level I thought it would land at, though of course the prognosticators of the industry did not want to concede such a fall.  2/3rds the value lopped in a matter of a year.  In computerese, fraud in/fraud out.   So the charade is about done, the fake wealth exposed, and the crooks too.  As usual the grand public is a handful of steps behind, but shortly we may expect that the general call for heads to roll will reverberate and the real criminals will begin to be hounded.

Soon to be ex-Premier of defunct Liberal Democrats (Orwell-speak) in Japan

On the way to 5000 or lower

It wasn’t that long ago that suggestions that our culture was terminally corrupted would be met with silence or with an admonition that we weren’t some deviant 3rd world den of sleaze.  Today, outside some really uptight Republican deep inside exactly such shit and hence in total denial, you’d not get much argument.  Yep, we’re in the pits.  Yesterday the Dow dropped another 250, about to break the 6000 level and heading to the 5000 level which I thought a long time ago would be the bottom.  I.e., the “market” levels off at 1/3rd its alleged value of a year ago, more or less.  Meaning 2/3rds our “wealth” was a fraud.  Ask Madoff, or better yet, ask his “clients.”

Ironically, while the world – thanks to “globalization” – is in a collaborative economic tailspin (the socio-political echo shortly to follow), in my own life, having made a gamble on such things, and in fact having imagined the world would collapse in such a manner in my own life-time, and Social Security etc. would not be at hand when the time came, things seem to look  OK.  Yonsei here is eagerly courting my presence another year, and it seems other options are similarly opening up.  My retirement, after a fashion, comes in the form of a job.  Though if things collapse as fully as I imagine possible, these jobs my go up in the air in short order, in which case quelle surprise!

Shortly classes recommence, and the not-too-difficult work cycle kicks in.  2 half days a week.  In this term one of those classes is to make a feature film – me and them.  Undecided how to tackle it, but we hope we can make something good, or perhaps two somethings – theirs and mine.   By spring I expect the fiscal avalanche to be more visible, and perhaps these spoiled souls will be stirred by tangible problems more severe than boy-girl and the like.  I understand that President Lee here continues his mis-steps, and having come in as the bizman who would resolve all the Korean economic plans, he now presides over his part of the globalized fiscal freeze.  So much for magic wands.  His ratings are in the outhouse now, so perhaps as homeless hit the street and the next wave of the close-down arrives, there’ll be more demos all about.   About time.  Perhaps a better topic for a film than last spring’s lovelorn losers in Love in the Shadows. Of which, following a tepid audience response in Rotterdam according to Sangwoo and Sihyun, they are re-editing their parts to make it a bit more brisk, and we are awaiting word from other festivals – Sydney, Jeonju, Singapore.  I just sent off Parable to the Cannes festival – a first for me to even try to roll the dice on chic Cannes.  I did so as they said they can screen digitally, so while I am doubtful they’ll take it, they just might.   At worst a foot in the door for something next year.  Though if it gets in I know a few people who will be thrilled to pieces – Steve and Rachael and Ryan.

[March 3 2009: Check Howard Kunstler on this.]

For a thoughtful contemplation on the little sphere seen here, see this comment by Oliver Morton from this day’s New York Times.  It’s worth your time to read and think about.

Meantime here is another note, also from the NY Times, demonstrating how much fame can do for you, and though I completely agree with the sentiment I wonder if you or I had submitted it to them for publication, just what would have happened: straight to the cylindrical evict device I would bet.

Yoko Ono

Well, for those into such things (I am decidedly not) Merry Christmas and in a week Happy Gregorian Calendar New Year!

A little filmmaker note here at the end: while the film made with my students is off to Rotterdam (Love in the Shadows – new name for it), the other day I got a reject for my and Marcella’s two films – seemingly owing to a little screw-up on their part in which DVDs sent well in time were sent back to USA for a local to review, and then belatedly my contact saw them a bit too late to shoe-horn into the schedule.  Or so he implied.  I wrote and said in sending them all I felt I’d been competing against myself, though I’d already decided if it was only one film that could go, and he liked the Love one, but also one of the others, I’d ask that the student one went first.  I’ve been there many times, and it’d be good for them.

So my contact, whom I consider a friend, sent me this:

Dear Jon,
You were always competing against yourself. Most filmmakers make 1 film in 3 years and you can make 3 in 1 year.
And festivals are like supermarkets; they want different brands on every shelf.
Sorry about this. I understand, but I am happy with Love in the Shade, it is nice and
Thinking about going to Africa…
I saw Sangwoo and Sihyun for lunch today, and they’re both plotting to go and happy and excited about it.  I am for them, and jaded as usual for me.


“It seems a mischievous spirit has finally cast a spell over me. Now it (the spell) moves changing form, they slither within my heart conjuring massive structures built as if with beams of restless air. These bewitching edifice of knowledge…these “ORIENTING Fields”, these that ground your being…this dark bewilderment ….The background fields through which you make sense, like a thought, a lightening particle that uncoils into a language, like desire they arise only to collapse and arise anew flickering of cinematic light in the breathing fog of the attendees, like cultural projections. Like the very mischief existing only in the mind of a Demon, whose only purpose is to mislead, misinform, deceive, delude, whose very existence is a deception, a trick, so does my heart runs hither thither by spaces conjured by its own mischief.”

These cycle of poems were written in 1996/97 Mumbai
It was a time of tremendous crisis. I was young, freshly married, and my wife was expecting and the studio I worked for closed down so I was also virtually jobless.
Sometimes I wonder, If I hadn’t discovered poetry, I would have suffered a certain breakdown. Poetry sustained me through this dark patch.

I often call this phase of my life as the “Birth Cycle” as it was almost a second birth for me, a second life.
So here are the collection from 96/97 called the birth cycle.
Please report any typo error as I had to transcribe everything from hand written text and I am a clumsy typist.

I will post by typing one by one out of 20, which are further divided into three.
The First of the three is made up of 9 chapters and is called Mortal Coils
The second one also has nine chapters and is called “The Wanderings”
The third one is made up of just 2 chapters and is called “Desires”
Even though they belong to the same time, they are not related in any order or theme.

The last one is incomplete, basically things improved and the flood of poetry stopped. and it so happened that I wrote nothing for next 10 years.
Thanks for your patience and do leave your comments.
Rajiv Mudgal

This is just a selection. You can read the whole here or download it here

“After long spells of tormented cry, my soul only seeks you,
your bosom and its warmth, your subtle liquid eyes, those lips in
whose quivering the life in me quickens, in your arms refreshed,
in your breath rejuvenated invigorated by your love and by your
touch only to arise like the mighty and majestic Soma from its
own ashes, arising transformed, transmuted into lives final self
fulfillment, its yawning glory, its deepest promise.

In my dreams have I conjured you in many forms, in my
longings have I sought you in many sighs, In my verse I have
evoked you, In my songs have I sung you, still you elude me like a
distinct song heard by the passing pilgrimage on the other side of
the valley, or like the chants of some forgotten temple….

By many nights I have awakened feeling your presence by
my side. In lone hours I have watched the moon reflect in the
river searching in its shimmer your eluding sight.

At times in my throbbing heart I felt the surety of your

“My love my joy I know not what seeks me within you with
such passions that I have no control nor any understanding as to
why and how, nor an inkling of how to end this sway of passions
that push my being, that stretch my nerves to their utmost

Possessed like some dark heavy cloud willed by some
unknown force ready to discharge it pyrotechnic with awesome
thunder, such awesome forces are let loose within me to rip open
my heart and let go a bizarre frenzy which pushes my being into
unrestrained epileptic convolutions.
Thus they gather within my being and dig their nails in my back,
behind my neck, to lift me up and throw me into some forgotten
abyss of fire.
Thus my body erupts with Hysterical intensity and my soul is
pushed forth like a pregnant women ready to release [life] and
the terrible spasms that eject….., such terrible spasms engulfs
me, push me towards you.

These were not desired, but desiring it-self, emerging from
deaths steely sleep to full wakefulness, uncoiling itself, unfolding
itself, pushing, pushed, ejected, ejaculated, erupted, auto
emerging, thus am I pushed into thy presence, like some mirific
power, unknown, beginning-less, self evolving, self enabling,
emerging, propelled by its own movement, thrown thrust[ed]
away like some self fulfilling destiny, whose only purpose is to be.
This to be now self possesses my soul like an eagle gnawing his
own flesh from his inside, to tear itself out of itself, thus I am
thrown, ejected, surfacing awake to be fulfilled in a nothing less
than a total and full comprehension of your mirific stance,
surfacing only to be completely shattered by your veiled
presence, to die in its own self-fulfilment, such do I evolve,
emerge waking self possessed by its own force, silent slow, sure in
its rhythmic self destruction, possessed by a will that is so certain
and so merciless that it knows only one reality, affirms only one
Will, seeks only one certainty, seeking its end in your love as my
death in you.”

“Pain arises out of the tired heart where are you, waiting the life in
me has gone dry.

Black clouds like heavy winds turning and twisting,
sweeping down only to torment the soul, these mighty clouds race
through my being searching within it feverishly dark reasons
whose presence I never knew…existed.

Now they move, seek and churn within my heart with
empty motive, while I watch them play their fiendish games in
silent agony waiting it to cease, wanting it to rest, to sleep, to die,
but it mocks my hope with its chameleon like activity and to tease
me they disappear like a flight of swifts dissolving to arise again
anew from some unknown void, as if from here and now from
there and still nowhere is its origin to be found…
How much to terminate.

Sweeping, sizing my body like a hawk, it gnaws the heart
as my restless awareness simply watches, then busying oneself
with trivial things, afraid of the acute sensitivity which has come
paralyzing me as its victim this my own Will haunts me now
dances in a growing swirl of wisps that searches in its sways
means to its own end as I attempt to loose myself in faithful
activity hoping it will cease in a situation that has become
And some how these means have now become its own end.”

Just a note to say posted new item on  In case you are interested while you watch the US economy (finally – I’d been saying it’d do so for some time now) crumple up inside its contradictions and fraudulence.  Seems the fiscal situation is finally coming to some kind of end game.

Emblematically, a few images:

Our Great Leader surveys his kingdom, and the swift young men of London make a killing (along with Damien Hirst).

Meantime I’d be interested in any first-hand accounts of how what’s happening in the US economy is hitting anyone here – mortgages, credit-card debt, loss of job, etc.

Just a note to say posted item on Viet Nam travels, ruminations, etc. a in case you are interested.


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