goth juice

eastern chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Eastern Chipmunk

the p.r.o.b. pronoun affair

It was a confusing time for the citizens of the People’s Republic of Brokenistan, or PROBers, as they are commonly known. The Ministry of Identity had banned all personal pronouns amid a general frenzy of disillusionment over who was who and what was what. I happened to be passing through P.R.O.B. on business and overheard the following exchange take place in the square outside the offices of the Ministry, where a multitude of PROBers had gathered to debate the recent decision.*

Bork took a vow of silence, said an ancient PROBer who was wearing an enormous velvet stocking cap.

Unheard of in this day and age, replied Stocking Cap’s interlocutor, whose tight pants were patterned in an intricate black-and-white geometric design.

Indeed, though the reaction is understandable.

Maybe, replied Pattern Pants. Though Bork never says much anyway.

True. Bork’s reticence is known throughout P.R.O.B.

A protest of sorts?

Perhaps, said Stocking Cap, nodding slowly while stroking the velvet cap, which seemed to elongate in response, though I may have been hallucinating due to lack of sleep on account of the drunken Amway representatives who’d kept me up all night during my train ride through Brokenistan’s stark, extensive Flatlands region.

Where’s Bork living these days, asked Pattern Pants.

In a hut on top of Mount Uncertainty. Been gone for about a month now.

Huh. That’s a long way from the capital.

Several weeks by yak, is what Bork reckoned before leaving.

Just then a commotion broke out near the steps of the Ministry building. The noise shattered the spell cast upon me by Pattern Pants’s pants, the lines in the design of which had begun fluctuating in length and width to the point of extreme distraction. Though, again, a possible hallucination.

Oh look, the Minister is coming out, announced P. P., whose exceedingly long legs afforded an unobstructed view of the action.

The Minister stood on the marble steps looking nonplussed in the face of so many PROBers staring back with pupils dilated to unsettling proportions, a side effect of the herb commonly known as divinium, which most PROBers chewed all day to relieve anxiety.

The Minister made a throat-clearing sound.

Attention, citizens. As a result of emergency subcommittee proceedings convened in light of communication difficulties following the ban on personal pronouns it has been concluded that the populace shall henceforth and until further notice be permitted to now use the personal pronouns ‘you’ and ‘I’. Future decisions on whether to reinstate any or all remaining personal pronouns into everyday speech will be forthcoming, should they be deemed necessary by the Ministry and its associated governing bodies. That is all.

The Minister returned to the Ministry’s inner sanctum and I looked around to gauge the reaction to this doubtlessly monumental proclamation. However, most PROBers had merely returned to quietly murmuring among themselves. In front of me, Stocking Cap turned to Pattern Pants.

Say, would you like to go on a divinium harvesting excursion? I found a secret patch out near the edge of the Flatlands.

Yes! I would. I’ve almost used up what I have on hand and I can already feel the old nerves acting up.

I watched the pair set off toward the city limits, the one’s shiny velvet cap undulating in the late afternoon sun and the design of the other’s pants shrinking and expanding with each of its wearer’s jaunty steps. When the two were only tiny dots in the distance I turned and walked back to the train station, my step light with the knowledge that the Amway representatives—passed out cold in a sleeper car when I disembarked—had continued on toward the mountains, where in a tiny hut perched on a crag of Mount Uncertainty, the lone PROBer Bork maintained a silent vigil, unaware of the latest news about ‘you’ and ‘I’.

*Since I am not a citizen of the Republic and I am also writing this report from outside its borders, I am not bound to follow this ban, though you will of course see its effects reflected in my transcriptions of PROBer dialogue.

friday birds (with bonus turtles)


Fox Sparrow (Red), © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Fox Sparrow (Red) – my favorite sparrow


Wood Duck, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Wood Duck


Hermit Thrush, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Hermit Thrush


Eastern Painted Turtles, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Eastern Painted Turtles taking the sun at Black Marsh.

william t. horton

The Wave by William T. Horton

The Wave by William T. Horton

The Strange Case of Mr William T. Horton: a new essay by Jon Crabb on the proto-modernist illustrator William T. Horton published in The Public Domain Review.

Read Horton’s A Book of Images (with an introduction by his friend W. B. Yeats) at the Internet Archive.

joy division live @ the apollo – 27/10/79


Featuring mesmerizing dance moves by Ian Curtis.

(video by Richard Boon, thank you to

purple finch

Purple Finch with bill covered in berry remnants, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Purple Finch with bill covered in berry remnants, © 2016 S. D. Stewart


From The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams:

[Alice, Corvus, and Annabel are discussing their upcoming wilderness ‘retreat’ while sitting in Annabel’s living room with her father Carter, when he suddenly jumps up and runs outside to meet the gardener Donald who’s just driven up to the house.]

‘Is he still the gardener?’ Alice asked.

‘Of course he’s still the gardener. What do you mean?’ Annabel was looking at the hiking boots she’d just bought for this expedition. Never in her life had she encountered anything so totally without charm.

‘Well, there doesn’t seem much left to do around here. It all looks pretty nice.’

‘Some people get very involved in gardening, Alice. It can become a lifelong obsession. Sometimes they just move rocks around together. Donald is a big believer in fighting ass … acidGod, what is that word?’

Acedia,’ Corvus said.

‘That’s right! You are so good, Corvus. You could go on Jeopardy or something. It means sloth, right?’

‘It means more like experiencing the moment as an oppressive weight. It means listlessness of spirit.’ Corvus pushed a fallen wing of black hair behind her ear.

Annabel didn’t know what else to do, so she smiled generously. ‘Well, he’s got Daddy moving those rocks, all right.’

Further reading on acedia from The HermitaryAcedia, Bane of Solitaries

Is not acedia the original perception of alienation and revolt against complacency and the burdens of culture? Is it the angst of Kierkegaard, the ‘nausea’ of Sartre, the alienation and revolt of existentialists from Camus to Marcel? Acedia is never without a sense of guilt or complicity, not as sin but as complicity in the horrors of contemporary life. To the modern mind, acedia remains real and relevant. It is a personal statement against the contrivances of culture, the hypocrisy of public morality, alienation from the natural patterns of nature and simplicity.


Acedia can have a strong spiritual component in the life of the one who experiences it, and that very component makes acedia the sign of great potential for insight and wisdom. The solitary need not fear acedia. Acedia, at a minimum, signifies no complacency or superficial contentment with the contemporary cultural order. Acedia can be a tacit expectation that life can be better, or at least better understood.

the one and the other discuss regret

Hello, one.

Hello, other.

One, I’d like to tell you a story.

O joy! I love stories.

You might not love this one.

Hmm. Okay. Well, tell away, other.

A few days ago I was out driving…

Wait! cried the one. You don’t know how to drive, other.

That’s not important.

The one looked doubtful.

Look, I’m telling this story, one. And in the story I was driving. See?

O. Yes, I see, other.

So I was out driving. There I am in this big hunk of metal moving at 70 miles per hour. It was absurd.

O! We like the absurd, other!

Usually, yes…yes, we do, one. But this was not funny absurd. It was scary absurd. I mean, at any moment another hunk of metal could have veered into my hunk of metal and then I might have died.

O, yes, you are right, other, that is scary absurd. I would not have liked for you to die.

And the signs, the electronic signs kept shrieking at me.

What were they saying, other?

Always the same phrase, one: Nothing Super About Jail Drive Sober.

O. That is strange, other.

Anyway, after the signs stopped shrieking at me the sun began bleeding orange and yellow streaks all across the sky amid big puffs of blue and grey. It was so beautiful, one. It almost made me forget I was inside a big hunk of metal. And then, and then I saw something even more wondrous.

What was it! cried the one.

It was an enormous flock of geese, one. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, off to the side of the road in a big field. Some were the all white ones–

O! You mean Snow Geese, other!

Yes, and some were the other kind. The brown and black dingy looking ones that are everywhere now.

Canada Geese! sang the one.

Yes, yes! cried the other, excited now. And they were all swirling around, making their calls. And some were on the ground, poking around in the fields. It was quite a spectacle, one.

I bet it was, other, I bet it was.

Except now I am sad.

O no! Why are you sad, other?

Well, I didn’t stop my hunk of metal to take in the whole scene. I could have turned around and pulled over and gazed upon this sight for the precise number of minutes necessary to fully absorb a wonder of nature such as this, one. Also there may have been some unusual or rare geese in the flock, but I didn’t take the time to look for them.

O. Hmm. Yes, I can see how that might make you feel sad, other.

It’s a strange sort of sadness, one. Do you know it?

Yes, I do, other. I believe they call this special type of sadness regret.

I do not like this regret feeling, one. How do I stop it? Can I maybe stuff something down inside me? Chocolate perhaps?

I’m not sure, other, the one said gravely. I think you have to wait and hope for it to fade away. Chocolate never hurts, of course, but I’m not sure it’s strong enough to fix this.

Well, how can I avoid it in the future then? I do not want this regret feeling ever again, one, never ever.

I’m not sure you can totally avoid it, other! But you can try to take every opportunity that comes to you, and that way at least you have tried.

O, will I then not feel sad? Even if I try to take the opportunity but don’t make it? Even if I…fail?

I can’t promise you won’t feel sad, other. But your sadness will likely feel different than regret. It will be mixed in with the satisfaction of knowing you tried. So that might make it feel not so bad.

O, thank you, one! I think this was very helpful. You are so wise!

I’m glad, other! I am always happy to help.

Goodbye, one!

Goodbye, other! Until next time.


For more discussions between the one and the other, click here.

red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Red-bellied Woodpecker

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