Comstock: The Parallax View (1850)

If we suppose a spectator placed at G, in the Earth’s center, he would see the moon E, among the stars at I, whereas without changing the position of the moon, if that body is seen from A, on the surface of the Earth, it would appear among the stars at K. Now I is the true and K the apparent place of the moon, the space between them, being the Moon’s parallax.

Each Arrow Overshot His Head

Reviewer: Philip Hartley, “Each Arrow Overshot His Head.” Berchtesgaden Review of Books, Vol. 1, No. 1, May-June 2012

It is an unseasonably warm day in March. I sit with Fahy under an awning of an Italian restaurant in Poughkeepsie, NY a handful of blocks from the edge of the Hudson River. Overhead, a bald eagle tucks in its wings and aims for the horizon like a missile. Several minutes pass before Fahy and I speak again about practical matters. He is thinner than I remember and his hair longer, but the lightning flashing in his eyes is unchanged. I have made the trip to talk about his novel Orchard Park, which although popular in Germany, remains obscure in North America.



The stupefaction endemic to the West is induced by compulsion schooling. But the lassitude that is the result of an inability to bring to bear on a given situation the full weight of one’s distress using words may be overcome. One must be acquainted early with letters and combinations of letters, that the relationship with language is not abridged by “whole language” mischief; the child who is inducted into phonic code-breaking soon becomes a natural dialectical thinker, able to remain a sturdy individual in spite of the leviathan that would order him submit to the collective will as a mere resource. The tide may be turned, and in a single generation, but rules must be broken; children must be kept out of public schools.


I am gone enough
that no longer do I know
the people I recognize.

I knew you in the future,
and have an inkling of you now,
in a past gross to the both of us.
So I must accept you in the past,
with someone else,
next to me now.

But at the end
of the evening,
you will never remember
why you can’t recognize me
in the present.

Mysterious Marks in Ledgers

In sum, specialization of IT activities, by breaking up the IT process, has made it possible for self-styled specialists to concentrate on one portion of the process and, by maximizing that portion, to jeopardize the rest. The process is not only broken up into directors, managers, and supervisors, but there are also two kinds of managers (one concerned with process, the other with implementation), with almost antithetical, short-term, aims… Regrettably, it is not the aim of IT cognoscenti to lower costs for the business, but to ensure through polite graft, personal aggrandizement.

The Price

We have
the disease we picked up in the jungle,
which we contracted knowingly,
while shots were fired over the dirt ridge —
men felled like low-grade timber.
We contracted it there, together,
in windowless rooms,
and in bare feet on the buffalo runs to the stream,
where we squatted with the kids with leather hides;
and already your eyes were sinking into shallows,
mine too, but slowly still;
and for all of the bald-headed women in saris
with bottles of quinine water,
you had the smile I thought
you mustered only for me,
but you were dearer than I could have imagined
when I could afford to be selfish with you.