The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 271

Late Winter 2015 - 2016

We Are As the Gods
So We Might As Well Get Used to It
Over the years, we have discussed dozens of
Mystical, Eastern or other "Consciousness-Raising" books.
Here we offer select readings, reviews, and critiques ---
some quite tart --- of this school, including works of
Alan Watts, Rajneesh, H. L. Mencken, Krishnamurti and
what some have recently come to call the "Zen Modernists."

Project Animal Farm
"And if you think the word local
makes any difference, the chapter on an egg factory
in Vermont that processes organic eggs from 400,000
hens to will set you straight.
The label was made up whole-cloth,
as the owner of the site tells Faruqi."

The Gambler's Apprentice
"Barnes knows the west,
and cow-punchers, and stealing cattle and
getting shot at --- and he knows how to get the reader involved,
even if it is only in stealing hosses and card-sharking and occasionally
getting beat up and engaging in the endless often funny
palaver of those who aren't much into words."

New Voices from China
"The farther he crawls,
the softer his skin becomes,
the more tender his body grows.
He sees a warm, damp cave ahead of him,
beckoning to him like the Bermuda Triangle,
and before he can even consider avoiding it,
he's going in with a plunk.
Though incapable of thought,
he knows it is his mother's womb . . .
a warm and welcoming world!"

The Blue Guitar
"Is there in other people too an inner,
barren plain, an Empty Quarter,
where cold indifference reigns?
I sometimes think this region is,
in me, the seat of what is popularly called
the heart."

A Cat, a Man & Two Women
"As Shinako sat there amazed,
Lily looked up at her with a gaze full of sadness and,
pressing herself against her breast,
pushed with her forehead at the collar
of the woman's flannel nightgown.
Shinako found herself rubbing her cheek against Lily's head;
and before long the cat started licking at her chin,
her ears, the tip of her nose,
around her mouth --- everywhere."

Wide Awake: Poets of LA and Beyond
"My love for you, King Smog,
is the love of an old woman
for an old man. I love you with all
of your faults, even sometimes because
of your faults. I love your freeways,
your 5, 405, 605, 105,
your 10, 210, 110, 710,
and for your pesticide beaches
choked with human waste too dangerous
to bathe in but too beautiful
not to."

The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake
"'When was the last time you saw her?'
He turns to his wife.
'What do you think, Mother, five years?'
I've always though it was odd for a man
to call his wife 'Mother.'"

A Kind of Compass
"My name is Miles and I'm the nanny.
I was a Division II nose tackle not long ago.
If you keep texting Daphne
I'll come to your house and feed you your phone.
Daphne does not wish to receive messages from you,
now or in the future."

The Curse of Jacob Tracy
"These monsters are everywhere,
if you know how to spot them,
which means that as we trail Trace
there in the west territories in 1880,
we never know who is going to sprout pointy teeth,
develop blood-lust and strange lupine features,
turn all furry, try to rip your throat out."

The Cairo Affair
"We get to know Cairo with all our senses:
the smell of garlic, falafel, grilling meat and auto exhaust;
the call of the muezzin to prayer,
the ubiquitous arab pop music and
blaring horns from the relentless traffic;
the Pyramids, barely visible through a haze of smog."

Great Reviews of the Past
A Passion to Win
"He is now disabled, and ---
like some of us --- is not at all interested
in acknowledging its profound (and often bitter)
hold over him. He demonstrates a carefully-contained self-pity
(some might want to call it 'bravery'), but the truth of it lies
buried deep in what's left of his soul,
hidden from him, and from us all."

A Chronicle of Jazz
Oh Lord . . . Don't let them drop that bomb on me
Oh no . . . Don't let them drop that bomb on me
Don't let them drop it, don't let them drop it . . . Stop it
Ooh yeah . . . Oh Lord, on me . . . Oh yeah."

Great Titles from the Past
The Way We Wore
"No one has ever written so lovingly,
sensuously about the proper cut of a lapel or
the indisputable goodness of cloth.
It is also a singular history of
British teen sartorial evolution
from the '60s to the '80s."

"The truth is, he is tired of criticism,
tired of prose measured by the yard.
What he wants to write is music:
Byron in Italy, a meditation on
love between the sexes
in the form of a chamber opera."

The (Welcome) Absence
of Arizona

To Purchase a Work of Art
from RALPH

An Important Letter to RALPH
From Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve Board

The Genesis of Sex & Broadcasting
"What the book offered
was a radio how-to-do-it, the chance to go
beyond the guild of broadcasters, lawyers and
engineers who wanted us all to believe that
the opportunity to broadcast on our own
was exotically expensive, out-of-reach
of just about everybody."

A Seance
"'Is there someone with you?' Agatha said to Trace.
'You were talking to someone, but I can't see . . .'
'It's my partner,' Trace said. 'He can't see you,
either. So you, ah, you know you're . . . ?'
'Dead? I didn't, at first,' Agatha admitted.
'I thought I was dreaming. But then
my aunt started visiting Spiritualists
and calling to me ---'"

Hardcore Zen --- I
"My first retreat with Nishijima
was my first experience in an actual
temple with an actual Japanese Zen priest
running the show.
I hated it."

Hardcore Zen --- II
"Sitting in Zazen is pain and boredom, that's what it is.
It's your head hitting the wall in front of you
when you can't fight off sleep any longer.
It's your brain full of thoughts so asinine
you hate to believe they're really yours.
It's feeling like your knees are going to seize up
permanently at any second and thinking
you'll never walk again."

Three from "Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond"
Dear Professor
"I want / to live forever. I want to pass your class
and graduate, get a gig, marry some hottie,
see the world, drive until my wheels
come wobbling off, and keep driving ---
but first I need to pass your class."

Los Angeles
"I love you for torrential
rains and mudslides and strip malls
and romances. I love you
when your air creeps in on little
cat claws, climbing onto my chest,
choking me with methane breath."

My Brother is Busy
"My brother is busy packing for jail. I sit on his bed and watch him
set aside a blank notebook, pen, copy of Genet's 'Thief's Journal.'
Jean Genet did some of his best writing in prison, he tells me.
I want to say, he was a glamorous playwright in Paris, France,
you are a drug addict-sometime singer in Bakersfield, California.
Jean-Paul Sartre will not be coming to your rescue."


The Vivisection Mambo
has just been published in quality antique typeset style.
It consists of 125 poems of the new Neo-Realist School,
many appearing here for the first time.
In a starred review, Kirkus called it
A fine anthology of some of the best contemporary poetry around.

The Noisiest Book Review in the Known World
was published over two years ago.
It contains 200 or so of what we believe
to be the best articles, readings, reviews and poems
from this magazine --- from our very first years to now.
If you subscribe to RALPH, you get a free copy of this anthology ---
which was listed by Kirkus as
"One of the Best Books of 2014."

All the back-issues of RALPH,
including titles of books under review,
along with author, subject, and publisher,
plus links to readings, articles, and poems
that have appeared on-line
since 1994.

b. 1985 - d. 1989
Our predecessor magazine received
enthusiastic encomiums from media writers at
The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times,
The San Francisco Chronicle,
and on
National Public Radio --- among others.
You can now find links here to all thirteen riotous issues.

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

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Suggestions for would-be reviewers --- and payment schedule.
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