Wednesday, February 5, 2014

There Is No Time Like Now That Is Not Like Now

That behemoth was on a new book truck last week. I hadn't thought of Robert Duncan in years. I read some poems in my 20s at friends' recommendations; I liked what I read when it was handed to me or I stumbled upon it in a magazine or journal, and while it didn't sing to me enough to stay in my head it didn't screech at me enough to discourage me from picking up that behemoth off the new book truck last week. I opened it at random and this is the first poem I read:


Robert Duncan


He brought a light so she could see
Adam move nakedly in the lighted room.
It was a window in the tree.
It was a shelter where there was none.

She saw his naked back and thigh
and heard the notes of a melody
where Adam out of his nature came
into four walls, roof, and floor.

He turnd on the light and turnd back,
moving with grace to catch her eye.
She saw his naked loneliness.

Now I shall never rest, she sighd,
until he strips his heart for me.
The body flashes such thoughts of death
so that time leaps up, and a man's hand

seen naked catches upon my breath
the risk we took in Paradise.
The serpent thought before the tomb
laid naked, naked, naked before the eyes,

reflects upon itself in a bare room.


In the questioning phrase the voice
-- he raises his eyes from the page --
follows towards some last
curve of the air, suspended above

its sign, that point, that  .
And asks, Who am I then?
Where am I going? There is no time
like now that is not like now.

Who?      turns upon some body where
the hand striving to tune
curves of the first lute whose strings are nerves
sees in the touch the phrase will

rise    .    break
as the voice does? above some moving obscurity

ripples out in the disturbd pool,
shadows and showings where we would read
-- raising his eyes from the body's lure --

what the question is,
where the heart reflects.

So, I know more of what I'll be reading this year. And praise, of course, to Serendipity. Yesterday, reading through Silliman's lastest lit-links, I found Robert Duncan and Jess, and Their Wonderland of Art. I did know that Jack Spicer was Duncan's "rivalrous frenemy," though I confess, rereading Spicer as much as I do it didn't occur to me to pick up Duncan. I did not know that "Duncan’s parents had been committed Theosophists who told him he was a spiritually chosen being, a former citizen of Atlantis, no less."

  • I know I'm repeating myself, but this has been and is the weirdest Winter of snot I can remember.
  • The DUH! you knew was there.
  • Please consider throwing Arthur Silber the coins in your pocket.
  • Agamben, for those of you who do: The materialization in space of this zone of indifference is the video surveillance of the streets and the squares of our cities. Here again an apparatus that had been conceived for the prisons  has been extended to public places. But it is evident that a video recorded place is no more an agora and becomes a hybrid of public and private, a zone of indifference between the prison and the forum. This transformation of the political space is certainly a complex phenomenon, that involves a multiplicity of causes, and among them the birth of biopower holds a special place. The primacy of the biological identity over the political identity is certainly linked to the politicization of bare life in modern states. But one should never forget that the leveling of social identity on body identity begun with the attempt to identify the recidivist criminals. We should not be astonished if today the normal relationship between the state and its citizens is defined by suspicion, police filing and control. The unspoken principle which rules our society can be stated like that: every citizen is a potential terrorist. But what is a State which is ruled by such a principle? Can we still define it as democratic State? Can we even consider it as being something political? In which kind of State do we live today?
  • Life, satisfaction, help, comfort....
  • Being About Aboutness: On the radio this morning, I heard an interview with a novelist. This interview went as interviews with novelists in popular media typically go—there was a little talk about the characters she had created and a very little talk about the way the book had been written, and a great deal of talk about the book’s “subject,” which, in this case, happened to be Zen Buddhism (there was more to it, but the point is, I really don’t care what the book was about). This author was only too happy to talk about Buddhism, since she was—whaddyaknow—a practicing Buddhist! She was all too happy to throw over her novel as a topic for discussion so that she could talk about the research that had preceded the writing of it (she may as well have talked about the Cuban missile crisis, or Care Bears, or Watergate). I mean, really, why talk about fiction when one can talk about Zen Buddhism? Not even a novelist wants to talk about the novel when she can talk about Buddhism.
  • Speaking of Serendipity: yesterday I typed in a Matthea Harvey poem, this morning I find this

  • A word about Hollowtide because three have asked: yes, this is where I write these, they are never finished but abandoned and not necessarily forever. I suspect this may be a passing experiment but as of right now I find the process of editing live in a published medium fascinating. Once a poem has been edited the previous version is not archived. For instance, the latest changed last night. The version from yesterday morning is gone. Sometimes tis is stupid - I've deleted stuff I wish I had back. But no cheating. Not writing lines in tablet. What the fuck is a tablet? Ink? It only matters to me, and I'm the only person I consciously cheat. I reserve the right to reuse any deleted lines in future posts. I'm thinking of...  I'm having fun, forgive me.
  • It's making me manic, perhaps you can tell. I like it, forgive me.
  • For example, I tweeted. in my manic happiness, a bleggal overlord a link I thought he would like, what a dope I am.
  • That won't cause boom fall down, though for each up there's a boom fall down.
  • Timeless.
  • Food links, anyone?
  • Yes yes yes, it occurs to me posting Bastien pieces the day after finding my wife, my father (who I've apparently trained to sing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights), and my brother mocked my musical taste strikes me as sweetly bwahaha, again, it's a happy unintended consequence....
  • Yes, I've posted the below piece within the past six months, I like it, forgive me.


Robert Duncan

It’s in the perilous boughs of the tree   
out of blue sky    the wind   
sings loudest surrounding me.

And solitude,   a wild solitude
’s reveald,   fearfully,   high     I’d climb   
into the shaking uncertainties,

part out of longing,   part     daring my self,
part to see that
widening of the world,   part

to find my own, my secret
hiding sense and place, where from afar   
all voices and scenes come back

—the barking of a dog,   autumnal burnings,
far calls,   close calls—   the boy I was
calls out to me
here the man where I am   “Look!

I’ve been where you

most fear to be.”

1 comment:

  1. Here's a link for your sporadic(?) weekend field musics series:

    Scroll down in the comments and you can find links to download George Mitchell's field recordings of Southern blues singers in the 60s. Looks like a trove.

    Also, check out Pussy Riot's interview last night on Colbert Report.