Saturday, November 16, 2013

Secretly Each Is Devoted to the Conviction that It Is Irreparably Different from All the Rest - in Fact, It Is This in Which They Are Most Fundamentally Alike


Franz Wright

Evening street of midnight blue with here and there a lighted window. Of the at home, or possible not. Concentrically into the air whose blue sphere gradually gives way to pure lethal space, wave after wave of a pale cadmium yellow expanding into emptiness and past the blood-brain barrier. Lamp manufactured unwittingly in the image of its make the mind, which goes on emitting dim rays from its frail bulb of skull, from its insignificant and evidently random sector of an infinite place all its own; mind illuminating not much: seen, say, from its own frozen and excommunicated Pluto, it is nearly indistinguishable from any other. All minds are pretty much the same, they'll tell you so themselves, but secretly each is devoted to the conviction that it is irreparably different from all the rest - in fact, it is this in which they are most fundamentally alike.


THE UNFOLLOWING 51, 56, 62, 71, 72

Lyn Hejinian


Afloat in a glass-bottom boat, I see into the sea—a miniscule emerald 
That the strongest social bonds are forged by language doesn’t nullify
             the power that dancing around the puppet ef
figies of the men
             in power has
On the solemn face of the glinting belly is a button baby
You have to know how to roll on the horizon
Followers follow, possibles possibulate, coruscations consider, blood

An allegory is a depiction of something that can’t be depicted
Mathias Madrid thrusts his
fist toward his face in a mirror, Millicent
             Malcolm pets a faithful falcon on a perch, Margaret Mason
             makes fig jam to serve on cold toast with hard cheese
The pyrotechnical expanse, lacking azure, makes do with blatant

             blackness, unspoken light
Winter’s cover’s curled back by adjectives—whacking winter’s roadside

Stained owls and up over the ill rabbits they
Several hours go by but hours are impossible to perceive
I market, am marketed, mark, remark
We walk down a street under windows that let in noise that might

             prompt someone asleep in the room to dream of drummers,
             flautists, a man on stilts with a tuba, a sextet of giggling girls
What is it ghosts wonder?


It should not be strange to be a woman rewarded
Letters click as they wander, shift as they ascend, their altitudes attain

Next you are like dry steps’ passing sound and fall, and then you are

             like sweetened grapefruit
Everything applies in the hyper-patterning that retrospect
             attempts and to which the irreverent response is “How

In the small houses of the children in the house there are always
             complex simplicities and one was a vast pink stuffed
             equine thing called Star

Wet Brahms
Revocation of harm
By moving from window to window and carefully recording at

             each what we see, we...*
It is time you were told of the time I failed to defend the bull and
             indeed rejoiced in its murder
This is
not hypocritical!
The statue at its fullest is emptiest of meaning
She speaks to another
not about sex but about a particular game
             of truth
Sonorousness facilitates the descent of sunny motes from the

Dancers have
fleas—or, shall we say that fleas live on the planet
             of dancers?

Into the disordered shortening of a circle comes this little fury,
              this abdicated panic, this dirty Venus, this resemblance
              to nothing we know of the dead

Sky simultaneous bud, cavity contemporaneous slight
And from the tree a ripe peach falls and a puff of dust rises,

              gently circles, drifts, spreads, holds its shape, dissipates,
              and settles under the tree again and on the weeds nearby
Once there was a woman I’ll name another day and in her care

              were eight well-matched strong pelicans who flew low
              over the sea in careful con
figurations that brought her
              aesthetic pleasure and more
fish than she or they could

Life is rife with erasure and time is rich with delay
Immediately the eater spots some defects (bits of meat, scraps of green)
No, I did
not forget the sad vagrant shuffling about in his red
              speckled secrecy and I will never do so again!
You’ve been boasting of your cantaloupe pottage, you’ve provided

              us with thin toast, your glory increases all about you
Hush—ssshh—what is it?

The ancestor wandered toward the horizon, he craved
              recognition, but eons went by and he landed in a circus,
              there being no other work for a man from the gloom of

Cousins are composite, constructed, compared
Quick, lively, assembled ripples monitor, mosquitoes spill, and

              the children dine on candy
The sky is another point, this time of ambiguous blue
Why didn’t I think of that?


A grasshopper singing of death laughs long—as if a heavy-
             hearted granny spoke a light word

A shadow scuds over glass, the glass stands still
Insects seethe and they say
that is the dream of language but
             what is language if not what is threading through the
             veins of an insect’s wings
What does it mean to say “now” now, as now surfaces in a gesture,

             as of a person pushing his eyeglasses up toward his brow
Our luggage is stacked sky-high, we are wearing twenty layers of

             clothes, every utterance is symphonic
I’ve never made curtains for these windows, stabbed by the mid-

             morning light
I pass with a broom, standing with a hose in my hand and my

             thumb against the nozzle
The loops of time droop, fall slack—and someone steps out of

             those that were his or hers, hers or his, his and hers, his
             and his, hers and hers—is it right, then, that we are left
             to hurtle alone

The girls danced in dead light, the cadavers lay in live light—but
             as for those girls, men with mouths like mare vaginas
             watched them

Every rough rupture demands elasticity of the imagination
The silver river is irreversible but you attentively watch its mouth
What you write achieves its independence though you are nimble,

             arrogant, sly and wise.
That is how you spend the day, which is itself a powerful force

             and raises the significant question “How did you get
All suffering is in the egg—now suck it out of its shell and spit

             it away


Collective longer literature appeals to cloud variants over a

See the gang, going to Alabama, tonguing cones, singing waka
             wasa bong

The robust thrush it is, stately as royalty, common as a
             pickpocket at a concert

I will not, I say, rest, I say, rotate
Let’s go now to the very next neologism and term it

Desperate he was to cry out and couldn’t, to say what he knew

             and know it
This takes adults—and very far indeed
The saxophonist breathes, takes a breath, inhales, gasps
Armadillo, yellow shovel, and empty oval
I sprawl across a bed strewn with breadcrumbs, ah ha!
At echo’s edge, a rock wall rises, a monument to leisure
The mourner chortles, she’s like a clown with sandpaper, at

             sorrow’s involuntary humor
Her remarks, his remarks, their remarks, our remarks, my

             remarks, your remarks betray
Oh there is a blading in this gentle bend


  1. Caleb Crain wrote If we agree that a novel like Moby-Dick contains a meaningful secret without being certain what that secret is, we create a magician’s prop of great efficacy—a box with a false bottom. If, in the course of interpretation, someone sneaks an idea into the box, that idea can be revealed later as an important truth, supported by Melville’s authority.

    which reminds me of a song from Seatrain's Marblehead Messenger album, said to be the second album George Martin produced after producing the Beatles

    Have pity, cried the Protestant Preacher
    Listen to these lonesome words I sell
    From inside the fire someone is trying to reach you
    The secret is - but only time can tell
    The secret is - but only time will tell

    and speaking of Moby-Dick, i am much impressed by the annotated version available at

    which in turn links to

    Free, chapter-per-day audiobook download Moby-Dick Big Read, featuring the voices of Tilda Swinton, John Waters, Stephen Fry, and many more

  2. "art thieves and gurus" refers to gurdjieff

    In his memoir Boyhood with Gurdjieff (1964), Fritz Peters recalls experiences he had growing up in association with the teacher and master G. I. Gurdjieff. In the 1920's, Gurdjieff had established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at a chateau outside of Paris, France. Peters was a young boy of eleven and served as a houseboy to this enigmatic man.

    On one occasion, Gurdjieff told Fritz to look out of the window, where there was an oak tree, and asked him how many acorns there were on the tree. Peters responded that there were likely thousands. Gurdjieff then inquired as to how many of those acorns were likely to become oak trees. The boy guessed that perhaps five or six might, or maybe not even that many.

    Gurdjieff then explained the essential nature of his teaching by comparing it to the possibilities that Nature provides:

    “Perhaps only one, perhaps not even one. Must learn from Nature. Man is also organism. Nature makes many acorns, but possibility to become tree exist for only few acorns. Same with man - many men born, but only few grow. People think this waste, think Nature waste. Not so. Rest become fertilizer, go back into earth and create possibility for more acorns, more men, once in while more tree - more real man. Nature always give - but only give possibility. To become real oak, or real man, must make effort. You understand this, my work, this Institute, not for fertilizer. For real man, only. But must also understand fertilizer necessary to Nature. ...”

    “In west - your world - is belief that man have soul, given by God. Not so. Nothing given by God, only Nature give. And Nature only give possibility for soul, not give soul. Must acquire soul through work. ... Even your religion - western religion - have this phrase ‘Know thyself.’ This phrase most important in all religions. When begin know self already begin have possibility become genuine man. So first thing must learn is know self .... If not do this, then will be like acorn that not become tree–fertilizer. Fertilizer which go back in ground and become possibility for future man.”

    [end of quote from Peters quoting G]

    To say a bit more about G's "many men born, very few grow" - this reality is expressed in the fact that in Yiddish the term for "adult male human" is used, not as a neutral descriptive word, which would apply to about half the human race over a certain age, but as a high compliment - to quote Wikipedia:

    Mensch (Yiddish: מענטש mentsh, from German: Mensch "human being") means "a person of integrity and honor".

    ...In Yiddish, from which the word has migrated as a loanword into American English, mensch roughly means "a good person." A mensch is a particularly good person, like "a stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a dear friend or trusted colleague....

    During the Age of Enlightenment in Germany the term Humanität, in the philosophical sense of compassion, was used to describe what characterizes a "better human being" in Humanism. The concept goes back to Cicero's Humanitas and was literally translated into the German word Menschlichkeit and then adapted into mentsh in Yiddish language use. In Modern Israeli Hebrew, the phrase Ben Adam "Son of Adam" (בן אדם) is used as an exact translation of Mensch.