Daily Dose of Immortality

I’m a pinchy-assed anarchist, torn by contradictory desires. I shun disorder and invite chaos. I want to step into John’s cracked shoes; I washed his clothes as soon as possible.


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Immortal (for quite some time)

His feet are livid, I wrote. Don’t touch him, the mortician warned. I wish I had touched him.


Order book HERE or HERE

Book website HERE

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Daily Dose of Immortality (for quite some time)

Dream: I open Dad’s coffin. No longer held prone by the long, low box, his partially mummified body begins to curl up. I straddle it and fight to restore its horizontal order. When I push on one part of the body another part curls up.


Book available HERE or HERE

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A Slow, Inquiring Narration

This morning Open Letters Monthly published my REVIEW of Peter Handke’s The Moravian Night. It is one of the most difficult reviews I have ever written, difficult in part because I wanted to get at the important ideas and forms of what I think is a brilliant novel, in part because the translation blocks access to those ideas. See what you think.


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Daily Dose of Immortality (for quite some time)

I went into the LDS Third Ward in Farmington, New Mexico. I could not tuck my long hair up under a cap as poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder did when he “went into the Maverick Bar / In Farmington, New Mexico.” I had no earring to leave in the car. I didn’t drink double shots of bourbon backed with beer (although I did have a flask of lowland single malt in case of emergency).

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Kafana, Zarko Radakovic

Zarko’s new novel, Kafana or The Tavern


And inside the flap, I’m proud to be included, twice, in Serbo-Croatian declination: Skotom Abotom:



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Good Responses to Our Mendel Work


Dan Fairbanks, the instigator behind our Darwinized translation of Gregor Mendel’s famous paper on hybridity in plants, is currently in Brno, Czech Republic, where Mendel worked in his monastery. They are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the paper’s publication. A series of Dan’s paintings are on exhibit, and our translation of the paper and Dan’s analysis of Mendel’s use of Darwin’s Origin of Species are being talked about according to these emails from Dan:


I’m in Brno right now, finishing the setup of artwork for exhibit at the Moravian Museum, which will open tomorrow. I had lunch with Jiri Sekerak, the head of the Mendelianum section of the museum. He commented on how impressed he was with our translation, which, as you’ll recall, is currently featured on the Moravian Museum’s Mendelianum homepage. Interestingly he and Anna Matalová (his predecessor, now retired) recently published a new Czech translation, so he was especially interested in ours, and noted how he liked our word choices for certain parts of the translation (nice compliment to you, which I was quite happy to accept).

The museum sponsors a journal dedicated to Mendel, titled Folia Mendeliana, in circulation since 1965 (http://www.mzm.cz/en/folia-mendeliana). Jiri asked if we’d be willing to allow the journal to republish our translation, and, fortunately, I was able to unhesitatingly say “yes.” Anticipating such requests, I convinced the editors of Genetics to give the translation a creative commons license, allowing unrestricted republication without copyright prohibition. I’m pleased that Folia Mendeliana will be the first to do so.


Fantastic day today. It was the annual Mendel lecture with the unveiling of first artworks of what will be the complete exhibit opening in March. The ceremony today was to celebrate the 150th of the publication of Mendel’s paper, which was in the final quarterly issue of the journal in 1866, so published in October, November, or December, no one know exactly when. In any case, it makes the publication of our translation quite timely. The keynote speaker was Prof. Dr. Johann Vollmann of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. He told a wonderful story. During his presentation, after talking about Mendel’s time in Vienna, he shifted to describing a hike he took on a mountain a month ago with fabulous photos of ice formations where the wind had blown water onto rocks, trees, and other features in a horizontal direction. After showing several dazzling photos of these ice formations, he stated (and I paraphrase), “Now you may wonder why I am talking about ice formations in a talk about Mendel, so here is the connection. I had just read two fantastic papers, one on Darwin’s influence on Mendel and the other a new translation of Mendel’s paper. The weather was so perfect that I took the day off to hike this mountain to the summit. And the whole time up and down I was thinking through these papers in my mind.” He and I had dinner afterward with the museum officials and he was overflowing with compliments about the translation. It was quite an honor coming from a native Austrian plant geneticist.


See our work in the journal Genetics here

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Book Available!

Copies of Immortal for Quite Some Time arrived late last week from the Chicago distribution center. That means they are available through various sources. You can order from your neighborhood bookstore, from the University of Utah Press, and from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Here is the book’s website if you’d like to see some photos and read some responses to the book.


Linda Jones Gibbs wrote to me after reading the book and mentioned a poem I hadn’t known. It beautiful expresses what I was trying to accomplish with my writing, “Brother of a brother”:

No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.

Nothing in them in not particular,
and planet is dissimilar from planet.

And if a man lived in obscurity
making his friends in that obscurity
obscurity is not uninteresting.

To each his world is private
and in that world one excellent minute.

And in that world one tragic minute
These are private.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight
it goes with him.

There are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery
Whose fate is to survive.

But what has gone is also not nothing:
by the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.

Whom we knew as faulty, the earth’s creatures
Of whom, essentially, what did we know?

Brother of a brother? Friend of friends?
Lover of lover?

We who knew our fathers
in everything, in nothing.

They perish. They cannot be brought back.
The secret worlds are not regenerated.

And every time again and again
I make my lament against destruction.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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Substantiation of Ideas


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Mendel’s Peas: A new translation

Yesterday the journal Genetics published our article about Mendel’s reading of Darwin’s Origin of Species in a German translation and his use of some of the ideas in his report on his experiments with hybridity in peas. The journal also published our translation of the original article. The last couple of paragraphs especially show evidence of Darwin’s influence on Mendel’s thought.

Dan Fairbanks is the scientist. I am the Germanist who came along for what was a very interesting ride.

You can find our work here and here



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