R  A  L  P H
  The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Volume XXIX, Number 3

Late Mid-Spring 2002

The Secret Life of Dust,
Gazelles and Wild Goats in the Libyan Desert, and
The Rise and Fall of Synanon

"We would suspect that
his face might show a bit more worry than your typical angel,
with all the balance sheets and sales figures and
accounts receivable and accounts payable.
He is thus not necessarily the Recording Angel, but
close to it --- one, thus, possibly dear to the heart of the Vatican. "

Experiences in Translation
"A translator is theoretically a cog,
part of the necessary machinery of getting words
from one language into another.
By addressing her directly (and she
translating everything he said to her into French
as if he were not addressing her, but the audience),
he was creating a double game ---
one on translation and translators."

From Here to Tierra del Fuego
"We have disquisitions on nationhood,
the religion of the morning newspaper,
the English national postal system (created by Sir Rowland Hill in 1840),
the fictional community of nationhood,
Argentina's and Chile's almost coming to war
over this benighted land in 1901, 1968, and 1978,
and the chilly thought that "people have been prepared to die
for these imagined communities."

The Last Days of the Confederate Government
"It should have been a quick in-and-out war.
But, as with World War I
(for which, technologically, it was the precursor)
it went on and on, draining resources, ruining the land,
killing almost 650,000 men, wounding another 200,000.
The final tolls for death and disfigurement were
four times greater than those of World Wars I and II."

Great Reviews of the Past
Rum, Romanism, & Rebellion
"One of the joys of reading of this campaign
is the feeling that they had a hell of a lot more fun
with presidential elections than we do now.
There was no television to turn the candidates to oatmeal.
There were marches, and extended speechifying
filled with rhetorical flourishes --- and dozens of newspapers in the major cities
to give dozens of different views of what was said."

Out-of-Body Experiences,
Ukrainian-Americans in extremis, and
The Agonies of English as a Second Language.

Smashing Head-On
At Sixty Miles-per-Hour
Into a Fully Loaded Mexican Gasoline Truck

"If you had the choice
of expiring of old age and boredom at the
Happy Acres Nursing Home & Vacation Village ---
or wasted in a stunning wreck on Mexico Highway 200,
just outside of Playa Azul, head-on with a fully loaded
Pemex truck, departing this life in a blaze
worthy of Bin Laden ---
which would you choose?"

Ælbert Cuyp
"He learned the trick of making
the pale light of the sun as it rises or sets
illuminate his scenes through mist or cloud.
That kind of light, perfectly true
but much rarer than the common light of day,
puts yellow highlights on trees,
the sails of ships and buildings,
makes clouds blush pink and cream,
and sets off the gloss of a horse's flank."

The Linguistics of the Word Buongiorno

"It represents the hope
that the person being greeted will have a day
devoid of worries and full of satisfaction,
even though the sincerity of the wish
is much less important than the attempt to
make a show of courtesy and of the absence of aggressiveness
(except for particular suprasegmental versions,
in which the greeting, pronounced in a clipped manner
through clenched teeth, is intended to indicate hostility)."

Definition vs. Translation

"Fervent lovers and austere scholars
Love equally, in their ripe season,
Powerful and gentle cats, the pride of the house,
Who like them are sensitive to cold and like them sedentary."

"My mother, delicate as air, allowed
my father to idealize and insult her, each,
as it was in their time, the one great
love of the other's life, but confused,
as though, touching, they couldn't tell
whether they'd undressed or not, as though,
dressing, they couldn't find their shoes. "

Great Poems of the Past
Jesus Christ in the South Bronx
"So they sent him out to St. Jude's
Just beyond what the neighbors called Calle de Terrór.
Jesus liked it because the trash and the cracked black falling walls
Reminded him of the brickwork he encountered
On his last tour of duty."

West Point in the 30s,
Modern American Poetry, and
RALPH's Upcoming Anthology


A complete list of all books reviewed in RALPH,
arranged by title, including author, subject, and publisher,
plus a listing of all readings, articles and poems
that have appeared since 1994.

of our most notorious reviews
as collected in the hard-copy

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T H E  F A C T S
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Suggestions for would-be reviewers --- and payment schedule.
RALPH didn't spring full-blown from the brows of the gods:
     We've been around (in different guises) for over twenty-five years.     
The Fessenden Fund
Describing the good works of RALPH's official godparent

Lolita Lark, Editor-In-Chief
Post Office Box 16719
San Diego CA 92176


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