Tuesday, May 13, 2014

There Might Be a Planet

That Lloyd Cole pop goodness put in my head yesterday afternoon by Scott Williams on his WFMU show and it's stayed in my head since, be in yours.

Thirty minutes after this is posted I will be Kensington to Frederick to Hagerstown to Hancock to Cumberland to Morgantown to Washington to Wheeling to Zanesville to Bamgier to help Planet pack, take her out to dinner, and come home Wednesday for the summer. I must break the news to the one of me who watches the slideshows, there will be no slideshows, Earthgirl needs to work. She's promised us an artichoke lasagna when we get home. I can promise a soundtrack of the drive Wednesday morning as I get to play everything on the iPod Earthgirl never lets me play when I Kensington to Frederick to Hagerstown to Hancock to Cumberland to Morgantown to Washington to Wheeling to Zanesville to Bamgier. For instance, perhaps this Daniel Menche:

  • Must. Keep. Eye. On. Speedometer. When. Listening. To. Daniel. Menche.
  • A reminder of how Democratic Party mid-term disasters are interpreted by Democratic Party loyalists.
  • On bagging: But it is not this performance or these particular pretensions that I want to talk about, but the absolute difference between bailing out of a book, a movie, and a theatrical performance. When you head for the exit in the cinema, something I do fairly often, you possibly bother the person next to you for a few seconds, but you can’t upset what’s happening on the screen or change the mood of the evening. However bad or good, the film is done and dusted. As for a book, when you’re not impressed by what you’re reading, your only resistance to putting it aside is the money spent and the time already invested. No one will be disturbed or offended when you send it off with the old newspapers for recycling. The theater is quite different, especially the small, intimate stages where experimental material first gets an airing. In this particular case, for example, our only exit from torment was via a door to the left of the stage. Leaving thus meant not only upsetting the people sitting either side of us, who might well themselves be struggling to get into the spirit of the piece, but likewise alerting the actors to our negative verdict, perhaps with disastrous consequences. Maybe the cast would lose what confidence they had. Perhaps others seeing us leave would get up and follow. So no sooner had my friend and I whispered to each other our desire to escape than I began to feel guilty. Give them a chance, I thought. Another ten minutes. No, another twenty.
  • Here's the big news: when I got home last night Earthgirl had just front-to-backed Mary Ruefle's latest book of poems, Trances of the Blast, she says to me, Now I get what you've been yammering about for years. I gave her some Hejinian, wonder how that will work.
  • For the two of you who might, new stuff at Hollowtide.
  • Back to books.
  • The page endures.
  • Prunella's latest playlist.
  • Tonight I will download the new Swans album, out today. Planet cannot leave Bamgier until noon tomorrow, it is highly unlikely I will be able to make the Swans show tomorrow night at Black Cat, if anyone wants a free ticket - you, Mr Alarum? - let me know, I can email it to you.
  • There will be Peter Jefferies and Guided by Voices (have I ever mentioned the Robert Pollard products have one of three permanent seats in My Sillyass Deserted Island Game?)!

D_____ L_____'s

Albert Goldbarth

Fathers are invariably great nuisances on the stage, and always have to give the hero or heroine a long explanation of what was done before the curtain rose, usually commencing with “It is now nineteen years, my dear child, since ...” etc., etc.
—Charles Dickens

There might be a planet. Before that,
though, there would have been a gas that coalesced   
into a planet . . . as, before that, there were dots of flux   
and energy that hadn’t yet declared themselves
in concert. There’s always “before”: there's more
each minute, more each person, yes and every one
of its smallest, irreducible subparticles—which I name   
the “beforeon”—is exerting force on us
that’s surely time’s own version of gravity: its purpose
is to tug, and to remind us. In the house of second marriages,

it causes the man to do what he and the woman had promised   
they never would: one night while she’s asleep, he snoops   
her bureau for telltale relics of the mysterious Mr.   
Number One. And why, or even what
he hopes to find, he couldn’t clearly say: a letter? photo?   
sex toy?—something, some objectified gossip, a fossil   
of bygone love. Essentially, we make of our own psyches   
a bureau and pay a shrink to snoop; as for the moment   
when our neural linkage first began to form,
as for the flavor of the fluids in the womb. . . we’re all

amnesiacs: and our earliest self, just like the universe’s   
earliest being, is a “phantom limb” with the faintest   
mnemonic of starbursts in an otherwise chill void. I have   
a friend D____ L____ (this poem is hers) who, orphaned   
as a newborn, is devoted to learning her origin
as doggedly as any cosmologist tracks light to its source, although   
her search (when not pure Internet) is more a matter
of tape-recording the beer-sour stories in sailor bars,
of sifting ashy memories in nursing homes,
one backwards inch of plotline at a time. And yet somebody

else is waking up this morning with the need   
to be detached from any history,
to stand here like a person in a play who enters   
onstage from a pool of perfect blankness. Then,
of course, he can start over, minute-zero-of-year-zero,   
unbesmirched. We could have told him that he’d be this   
anguished—sneaking in her drawer, below those folded   
pastel lozenges of lingerie, uncovering the one thing   
that could ruin them. Now he wants only to float (who   
doesn't, sometimes?) in an anti-world: appealing, but

illusory. We can’t unmoor ourselves from linearity,   
no more than any one of us can be a human being   
unconnected to a genome—and in fact, no more   
than Mama-All-of-Time-and-Space-Herself (I mean   
the cosmos) can unwrap her vasty body from its own   
twelve million years of Big Bang “background radiation”   
so it wafts—a tossed off, filmy scarf—far elsewhere.   
No; there isn’t any “elsewhere.” When we sleep   
or simply deepen into quietude enough, the voices   
come—the rhythmic, grave, ancestral murmur,

a woman bearing a ritual clamshell bowl . . .
a man with a done-deal sales contract . . . whispers,
knuckle-rap, cleared throats. . . . Her great-grandfather,   
D____ L____ has uncovered, was a lector—a reader they used   
to relieve the tedium of the leaf rollers’ shifts   
in cigar manufactories. Shakespeare, Dickens,   
union tracts, love letters, family diaries . . . . He’s   
walking through the tobacco aroma; he’s setting his text   
on his easel; and the story—the only story we know,   
the story of Before—is recited.

1 comment:

  1. 'argh, of no time to look at links or listen , bent to dust footing , removes 'er scar f, clim's imagining on to the roof of his auto ..to air out .. . ghosts and gurney, said i on a .. . , water boys ag.