Monday, September 1, 2014

Reason's Overgrowth, a Calculating Kudzu

A.R. Ammons to Charles Simmons, July 6, 1966

A writer is a spiritual whore: he begins writing because he simply loves sex - that's the innocence. Then the public enters, appreciates his love-making, wants to watch: or detests it, and wants him to hide. In any case, he can no longer proceed by innocent instinct. If he is to last as a spiritual whore, he must take to the role, consciously, deliberately; he must feel himself up, as one who is watched and, maybe, blessed - different. He must get out the paint and the bright phony flowers and carry away into sublimity by pure nerve the emergent whore. He must be contemptuous and vain, fretful and flamboyant: most of all, he must maintain that the notice he has gained is the valuable thing this world affords. 
Your trouble is you want to stay a human being. You can't do that. You must assume a public role - and keep your humanity safe and to yourself. Learn to posture a little; try some personality fictions, till you get the right one. Bring it off. That's the only way to hide.

  • At the top, taken this morning, is my ink/paint box, undisturbed for nine months. I used to do shit like the above, I'm beginning to imagine I might do so again. Not today.
  • This post, today, because a novel I'm reading like I haven't read in more than nine months has as it's main themes performance and complicity and self-production and posing and that's what the fuck I yodel about all the fucking time everywhere, and because today is one of the seven slowest days of the year in Blegsylvania which of course requires I spend hours creating a post more important to me than most that hardly anyone will read (as compared to how many usually hardly will read).
  • Ideology.
  • The role of proxy terror.
  • The return of Karl Polanyi.
  • Reading Hamilton from the Left.
  • From the annals of higher education.
  • BroadSnark's things you might have missed.
  • Maggie's weekly links.
  • { feuilleton }'s weekly links.
  • The New Inquiry's Sunday readings.
  • Unanticipated nostalgia.
  • Jacob (IOZ) gets a mention in the New Yorker.
  • Another round of moving the moribund to Moribund today. It includes friends - remember, I do this so I see when you stir. Blegsylvania is (though there's no fighting on the dance floor) a


Heather McHugh

Insanity is not a want of reason.
It is reason's overgrowth, a calculating kudzu.

Explaining why, in two-ton manifesti, thinkers sally forth
with testaments and pipe bombs. Heaven help us:

spare us all your meaningful designs. Shine down or
shower forth, but (for the earthling's sake) ignore
all prayers followed by against, or for. Teach us to bear

life's senselessness, our insignificance, and more;
let's call that sanity. The terrifying prospect isn't some
escapist with a novel, fond of comfort, munching sweets—

it is the busy hermeneut, so serious he's sour, intent on making
meaning of us all, and bursting from the towers to the streets.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Dark Fruitcake Sleep

New paintings from Earthgirl. Here's why I am not a painter. The above was going to be my birthday present unless it sold at the MOCO Art Festival this weekend. It sold at the MOCO Art Festival this weekend. So did this one, you can't tell from the photo, it is only approx 4x6 inches (and won her first place):


A.R. Ammons

I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning
to the sea,
then turned right along
   the surf
                         rounded a naked headland
                         and returned

   along the inlet shore:

it was muggy sunny, the wind from the sea steady and high,   
crisp in the running sand,
       some breakthroughs of sun
   but after a bit

continuous overcast:

the walk liberating, I was released from forms,   
from the perpendiculars,
      straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends   
               of sight:

                         I allow myself eddies of meaning:   
yield to a direction of significance
like a stream through the geography of my work:   
   you can find
in my sayings
                         swerves of action
                         like the inlet’s cutting edge:
               there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance   
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:
but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:

in nature there are few sharp lines: there are areas of   
       more or less dispersed;
disorderly orders of bayberry; between the rows
of dunes,
irregular swamps of reeds,
though not reeds alone, but grass, bayberry, yarrow, all ...
predominantly reeds:

I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries,   
shutting out and shutting in, separating inside
          from outside: I have
          drawn no lines:

manifold events of sand
change the dune’s shape that will not be the same shape   

so I am willing to go along, to accept   
the becoming
thought, to stake off no beginnings or ends, establish   
         no walls:

by transitions the land falls from grassy dunes to creek   
to undercreek: but there are no lines, though
       change in that transition is clear
       as any sharpness: but “sharpness” spread out,   
allowed to occur over a wider range
than mental lines can keep:

the moon was full last night: today, low tide was low:   
black shoals of mussels exposed to the risk
of air
and, earlier, of sun,
waved in and out with the waterline, waterline inexact,   
caught always in the event of change:   
       a young mottled gull stood free on the shoals
       and ate
to vomiting: another gull, squawking possession, cracked a crab,   
picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft-shelled legs, a ruddy
turnstone running in to snatch leftover bits:

risk is full: every living thing in
siege: the demand is life, to keep life: the small
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears
               the shallows, darts to shore
                            to stab—what? I couldn’t
       see against the black mudflats—a frightened
       fiddler crab?

               the news to my left over the dunes and
reeds and bayberry clumps was
               fall: thousands of tree swallows
               gathering for flight:
               an order held
               in constant change: a congregation
rich with entropy: nevertheless, separable, noticeable
          as one event,
                      not chaos: preparations for
flight from winter,
cheet, cheet, cheet, cheet, wings rifling the green clumps,
at the bayberries
    a perception full of wind, flight, curve,
    the possibility of rule as the sum of rulelessness:
the “field” of action
with moving, incalculable center:

in the smaller view, order tight with shape:
blue tiny flowers on a leafless weed: carapace of crab:
snail shell:
            pulsations of order
            in the bellies of minnows: orders swallowed,   
broken down, transferred through membranes
to strengthen larger orders: but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together   
            and against, of millions of events: this,
                         so that I make
                         no form of

orders as summaries, as outcomes of actions override   
or in some way result, not predictably (seeing me gain   
the top of a dune,
the swallows
could take flight—some other fields of bayberry   
            could enter fall
            berryless) and there is serenity:

            no arranged terror: no forcing of image, plan,
or thought:
no propaganda, no humbling of reality to precept:

terror pervades but is not arranged, all possibilities   
of escape open: no route shut, except in   
   the sudden loss of all routes:

            I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will   
not run to that easy victory:
            still around the looser, wider forces work:
            I will try
       to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening   
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,   
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.


Denise Levertov

The earthwoman by her oven
                           tends her cakes of good grain.
The waterwoman's children
are spindle thin.
                              The earthwoman
                  has oaktree arms. Her children
full of blood and milk
          stamp through the woods shouting.
                 The waterwoman
          sings gay songs in a sad voice
                        with her moonshine children.
When the earthwoman
has had her fill of the good day
            she curls to sleep in her warm hut
            a dark fruitcake sleep
but the waterwoman
                   goes dancing in the misty lit-up town
          in dragonfly dresses and blue shoes.