Monday, October 15, 2012

Michael O'Connor Clarke

One of the funniest things I've ever seen was a representation of a laugh. It appeared in a blog post by Michael O'Connor Clarke. It was a work of art -- a long, evolving, rhythmic yeowl of, shall we say, critical delight at something -- it was many years ago, and even if I could recall the "giggle-worthiness" of the provocation, it wouldn't matter. What mattered was the amazing artistry of the depicted laugh -- a kind of verbal equivalent of a hamster dance that just kept going and going for nearly ever.

I thought I'd saved that laugh, but having looked in all the places it should be, I can't find it. While there are many, many amazing things people have said about Michael, I would say, even if I didn't know anything about him, if I only had that one string of unearthly leprechaunish giddiness turned to glory (I wish I could find it -- it didn't simply emulate a laugh, but escalated, then somehow seemed to become conscious, and find itself funny, sending it to a higher order magnitude of comicality), it that's all I had, I would know he was, and is, and always will be a marvel.

As he indeed turned out to be a few years later when we met in Toronto, where I was visiting. He and his whole family met us, took us around, and we enjoyed a meal in a tavern before saying goodbye.

Ruairi and Michael

There was a warmth, an intelligence, a wit, a care. It was his idea to start a little blog about the birth of his son, Ruairi, as well as my son, Sawyer, and Gary Turner's daughter Cameron. Three blogging dads talking about their kids. There was a care. When Ruairi was taken ill and back in hospital, the care came through with the same unfathomable intensity* that propelled that astonishing image of a laugh.

A few years later, when his son had injured his head, he wrote of it again with as great a depth of concern. You knew, felt, wobbled with the care inside him. A care now reflected in the thoughts, feelings, memories of many. A hug to him, and his lovely family. They might be needing some help. We'll surely be needing his.

*That intensity manifested itself as well in attention to detail, as in the final entry on his blog, a recipe for Orzo salad

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Orbe locus medio est inter terrasque fretumque
caelestesque plagas, triplicis confinia mundi; 40
unde quod est usquam, quamvis regionibus absit,
inspicitur, penetratque cavas vox omnis ad aures:
Fama tenet summaque domum sibi legit in arce,
innumerosque aditus ac mille foramina tectis
addidit et nullis inclusit limina portis; 45
nocte dieque patet: tota est ex aere sonanti,
tota fremit vocesque refert iteratque quod audit;
nulla quies intus nullaque silentia parte,
nec tamen est clamor, sed parvae murmura vocis,
qualia de pelagi, siquis procul audiat, undis 50
esse solent, qualemve sonum, cum Iuppiter atras
increpuit nubes, extrema tonitrua reddunt.
atria turba tenet: veniunt, leve vulgus, euntque
mixtaque cum veris passim commenta vagantur
milia rumorum confusaque verba volutant; 55
e quibus hi vacuas inplent sermonibus aures,
hi narrata ferunt alio, mensuraque ficti
crescit, et auditis aliquid novus adicit auctor.
illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error
vanaque Laetitia est consternatique Timores 60
Seditioque repens dubioque auctore Susurri;
ipsa, quid in caelo rerum pelagoque geratur
et tellure, videt totumque inquirit in orbem.

Metamorphoses 12:39-63
Literal English trans.

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