The Volcano Pilgrim

1. Japanese search parties have found the remains of poet and volcano enthusiast Craig Arnold, who had been running a blog called The Volcano Pilgrim. Jacket Copy’s piece on Craig’s death is the best of many I’ve read.

Nobody needs to wonder why a poet would love volcanoes; the metaphorical appeal is obvious. The word “volcano” is itself literary, evoking the Roman god Vulcan (the Greek god Hephaestus). Then there’s Malcolm Lowry, and Susan Sontag, and let’s not forget that the San Francisco beatniks hung out in a North Beach bar called Vesuvio.

Some might disagree with me, but I don’t think it’s exactly tragic when a poet who passionately loves volcanoes dies exploring a volcano. It’s tragic if a poet who loves volcanoes dies of cancer, or catches a stray bullet during a liquor store robbery, or kills himself in a moment of desperate depression. For a poet to die in courageous pursuit of his greatest dream and fascination does not seem tragic in the same way.

(The homemade volcano photo above was found here).

2. Las Vegas Sun maps the Seven Deadly Sins to the states and counties of USA.

3. Keith Gessen gets himself into trouble reporting on an election in Russia.

4. “While the publishing industry chases the new, the young, the instantly commercial, readers are often looking for something else — for a kind of enduring quality.” Agreed. Reissed jazz-age classics from Bloomsbury.

5. Wyatt Mason invokes Emerson.

6. Bill Gates’s father is writing a book called Showing Up For Life.

7. 25 Microchips that shook the world.

8. To embarrass is to block, to em-bar.

9. How George Orwell was feeling (hint: not good) while he wrote 1984.

10. Literature and classic rock (I used to try to maintain a list something like this, but haven’t kept it up to date).

11. Why does everything Bret Easton Ellis writes get turned into a movie?

12. Anne Waldman on why chapbooks matter.

13. Carly Kocurek, a smart young writer from Texas who used to contribute to LitKicks as “violet9ish”, is one of the authors represented in Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket by Elizabeth Englehardt.

14. I get interviewed by Mike Palecek at New American Dream. I like it that Mike asks questions like “Are UFO’s real?” instead of the usual stuff about e-books and blogs.

9 Responses

  1. Hey, that interview on NAD
    Hey, that interview on NAD was fun stuff. I liked those types of questions and thye presentation.

    The website itself seems a little off, but what else is new in the world of 2009.

    What John Brown and Harriet Tubman have to do with the other bozos and mass murderers featured is a mystery. And the antitank man of 1989. Do not the NAD people know that mass murderers Che and Fidel and their ilk are and were totally on the side of the tanks and the tank master, not the guy who stood up to them?

  2. Che became an archetype for
    Che became an archetype for the fact that the people, when united, can accomplish something. This has nothing to do with the previous post but no revolution is done without anyone getting blood on their hands.

  3. As far as I have heard from
    As far as I have heard from the Japanese authorities, the remains of Craig Arnold have NOT been found yet.
    Although the missing poet is presumed dead, as of yet no technical climbing team is willing to attempt to recover Craig from bottom of the cliff-like slope at the top of which his trail ended.

    On NPR last night, his family is only saying he presumably died in the fall.

    To quote the most “recent” information on the family’s “Find Craig Arnold” on Facebook:

    5/8 10:19am EST: We can confirm that the search group 1SRG reached the end of Craig’s trail at a steep cliff dropping off into a valley or ravine below. The space below was too technically challenging for the resources of this particular team. We are absolutely certain that Craig is between that point in the trail and the bottom of that valley/ravine. We now await a team with the necessary equipment and skill-set to descend into that space and bring Craig home. Chris remains on the island, and he and all of us here are working hard to make certain this happens as soon as possible.

  4. ‘Ts true “but I dont think
    ‘Ts true “but I dont think it’s exactly tragic when a poet a who loves volcanoes dies exploring them”, perhaps even a consumation devoutedly to be wished.
    There’s an element of danger in eveything, life itself can be a dangerous businees, but we do it regardless of the consequence.
    Mozart had to make music, Picasso had to create art, Jimi Hendrix had to play the electric guitar, they did and the world is the benficiary.
    Dont like to use the word , but that was their Dharma, they were born for that.
    You never know why an individual artist does what they do, but I hope we are all genorous enough to appreciate the sacrifice, the beauty and indeed the courage of their existence.
    It’s not easy being an artist, in fact there’s nothing tougher, it can sometimes seem like a full frontal collision with oblvion, but artists are undeterred by that, they do it anyway.

    We are all Vulcanologists now, ‘we will boldly go’… ‘even if the engines cannae take it Captain.’

  5. Didn’t Huxley get the ‘The
    Didn’t Huxley get the ‘The Doors of Perception’ from William Blake.
    A friend of mine from Glasgow, Gari Brown was a mate of Syd Barret, and it was he and Syd who put together the Floyd’s first light show. Gari then went on to work with Zappa ,The Dead, The Captain,
    and a host of other legends. He also designed album covers for a host of bands, he is a regular rock’n’roll renaissance prince.
    You might have seen his work, he done the lights for the Floyds millenium show in New York.
    Gari went to school with Jack Bruce was a friend of Donovan and the great Alex Harvey.
    He was also painting a mural for Eric Clapton, a couple of doors along the road from Jimi’s place when Jimi died. His version of that event differs from eveyone else’s. And there is a very intriguing tale of a couple of missing guitars, including a left handed Fender strat.
    Jimi played a right handed Fender upside down. Eric Clapton found a left Fender, Patti Boyd took the Fender round to Jimi’s place only to discover that Jimi was dead.
    The day that Jimi got a proper guitar was the day Jimi died.
    The guitar has since gone missing, it is the holy grail of rock’n’roll collectables, and is allegedly worth more than your average Picasso.
    There are more things in Rock’n’Roll than most people ever imagined, not all of them pleasant.

  6. Thanks for the shout out! The
    Thanks for the shout out! The book will be for real available in October. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

  7. It’s not “tragic;” it’s
    It’s not “tragic;” it’s “ironic.”


  8. Having being exposed to
    Having being exposed to volcanoes at an early age, I can attest to the fact of their danger.

    However, that does not diminish the bravery of the poet/explorers who died such as Craig Arnold.

    As the saying goes: “One man’s death diminishes me”…and I grieve for his sages, never again to be heard.

    My Mom and Dad took me up to the summit of Mt. Fuji when I was a few months old. I saw the plumes of one of the Hawaiian volcanoes when I was a little older in a helicopter flight. When I was five or six, I went camping at the foot of Mt. Etna in Sicily. It was smoking a bit and we were advised to camp a bit farther away by a wise old sicilian mountaineer. So, lucky for us we passed an uneventful night on an old lava field.
    Having lava grit in our pasta was one of the few side effects of our experience. Another was getting stuck in the sands on a nearby beach and having to dig our way out with boards and shovels, being helped by the same mountaineer. I don’t know if my next in line youngest brother remembers the sicilian adventure as clearly. But, as for me, I will always remember the lava field and nearby beaches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What We're Up To ...

Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!