Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't Stand So Close to Me: Issa's Sunday Service, #74

Nabokov via

Running up as we are on Halloween, it's creep week on the Sunday ServiceThis week's selection comes from The Police, is one of the more affected tunes on the Jukebox: "Don't Stand So Close to Me." A tip of the hat to Humbert Humbert:

It's no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabakov

Don't stand, don't stand so
Don't stand so close to me

The Nabokov reference has the right feel considering the teacher's "dilemma:" 

Temptation, frustration
So bad it makes him cry
Wet bus stop, she's waiting
His car is warm and dry

Though perhaps not as explicit as in the totally repulsive "Every Breath You Take," this song broke ground by talking about something that is in the headlines regularly.  These songs, put to catchy pop melodies, run counter expectation, to the point that some have used the stalker tune "Every Breath" for their wedding.  Mr. Sumner is perhaps to be congratulated for expanding the narrative boundaries of pop (as a former teacher, he draws from some sort of experience), yet still, to me, they have more than a bit of an exploitative feel (the accompanying background vocal to the chorus, with Sting accompanying himself, has got ambivalence all over of it).

Of course, I'm talking about rock being exploitative as if this was some sort of news. 

Well, if you're going to sing about creeps, maybe this is the way to go:


Next Tuesday, I will be talking to a group of lifelong learners about haiku.   Sketching in the background, I'll be talking a bit about Japanese history, culture and concepts, such as wabi-sabi.  Here's a great illustration of that very concept by the great upper New York state poet, W. T. Ranney, from Lilliput Review #110, April 2000:

Old men
in stiff white shirts
moving from room to room,
placing a hand
on a worn spot.

in lightning's flash
faces in a row...
old men
translated by David G. Lanoue 


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Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 74 songs
Hear all 74 at once on the the LitRock Jukebox


Ed Baker said...

to go a bit beyond 'wabi sabi' and to add an additional depth-of-understanding to ....

(I am frequenting an essential book:

Ichiro Hori's lectures as done in 1968 edition of

the wood-block prints are of/by Ths Knox out of his
1880 book (which I can't find): "Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey to Japan and China"

the chapters/lectures in Hori's book:

1. Main Features of Folk Religion in Japan
2. Japanese Social Structure and Folk Religion
3. Nembutsu as Folk Religion
4. Mountains and Their Importance for the Idea of The Other World
5. Japanese Shamanism
6. The New Religions and the Survival of Shamanic Tendencies

Anonymous said...


here is Knox's book! check out the block prints!!!

now to look around for an

"I-can-hold-it-in-my-hands" version...


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks Ed for the recommendation. Will see if I can get hold of it at the library.

Wanted to fill in the background on Shinto and folk religion in Japan that I am unfamiliar with. Probably a little too in-depth for the haiku session for "life long learners" on Tuesday, but I do give at least a nod that way.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

The Knox book with the woodcuts looks fantastic ...

Charles Gramlich said...

I really like "Creep," but I can't listen to The police. Just can't make myself do it. :)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles, yeah, a lot of subtext there and not necessarily anything to do with the songs ...

Conrad DiDiodato said...

I agree with Charles.

And I'll say as a high school teacher (in my 27th year) Sumner's song is an offense to teachers and the integrity of young people.

Good luck on your haiku seminars, Don: man, wish I could be there!

Anonymous said...

when at the library check-out three other books that I from time-to-tme
g r a z e

SHINGON Japanese Esoteric Buddism by Taiko Yamasaki

lots of 'food-for-sustenance

like as a random/chance selectrion top pf page 198:

" The moon with its cool white light occupies a special place in esoteric doctrine and practice. "The Treatise on Enlightened Mind" says, "When I look at my mind, its form is like a moon disk," indicating that every individual is endowed with Buddha-nature
which is pure and perfect, cool and radiant like the full moon."

and, on same page:

"The sun, the moon and the heavenly bodies have always been there in space, though they may be obscured by clouds and mists."

and, still on same page:

"The A-syllable is the seed syllable of the moon disk, and the moon disk is the radiance of the A-syllable. Moon disk and A-syllable are entirely one."

NEAT 'stuff" might now leap into CO.'s Projective Verse and Causal Mythology through
THIS gate rateher that through our Western Religions/Politics?

NEXT BOOK to 'check out':

Motohisha Yamakage's:

"The Essence of Shinto Japan's Spiritual Heart"

AND while I am "in my stacks" get, aussi

Taitetsu Unno's:

"Shin Buddhism
Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold"

et ceteras all-so


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Many thanks for reading and teaching ... I think it is the smugness that is so off-putting in general when it comes to Sting's overall approach. The specifics in this song you have nailed.

I don't often stand in front of a room and speak myself but it is exhilarating and humbling and wonderful. I've been practicing this one for a couple of weeks. It should be fun. I bring the framework. The participants bring the substance.

Hopefully, next week's selection will be a little more uplifting, music-wise.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Looks like I'll have to interloan most of these - only Essence of Shinto was in our 70 library system. There was a title on Shin Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki but not the one you recommended.