Monday, August 3, 2015

Self-Analytical Attitudes Overlaid by My Ghostly Transparent Face

Thanks sent to Lambert, who linked to the Melville post in yesterday's Naked Capitalism daily links, that post got more hits in the first hour than any post got here ever. Considering it was a Sunday in the Blog Days of Summer, that speaks to how big Naked Capitalism is.

More hits in two minutes than my poem posted this morning will get in eternity. It's me, not you, I know, so don't worry, I've disappeared it, you needn't avoid it getting to the next post. So I was looking at my bookshelves, looking at Melville post, looking at bookshelves, looking at Melville post, what to read to break the reading slump, hmmm, maybe a novel that has broken slumps before, in an edition that is my single favorite book-as-object I've ever read, Bible-sized and fannie-pack ready for breaks in the woods, hmmm? Well, it's not working, but I do have an extra copy of that edition, if I like you and you ask nice and you promise to try to read it (you need not promise to finish, only to try) it can be yours. (UPDATE!: not any more it can: claimed.)


John Ashbery
When Eduard Raban, coming along the passage, walked into theopen doorway, he saw that it was raining. It was not raining much.
                                        KAFKA, Wedding Preparations in the Country

The concept is interesting: to see, as though reflected
In streaming windowpanes, the look of others through
Their own eyes. A digest of their correct impressions of
Their self-analytical attitudes overlaid by your
Ghostly transparent face. You in falbalas
Of some distant but not too distant era, the cosmetics,
The shoes perfectly pointed, drifting (how long you
Have been drifting; how long I have too for that matter)
Like a bottle-imp toward a surface which can never be
Never pierced through into the timeless energy of a present
Which would have its own opinions on these matters,
Are an epistemological snapshot of the processes
That first mentioned your name at some crowded cocktail
Party long ago, and someone (not the person addressed)
Overheard it and carried that name around in his wallet
For years as the wallet crumbled and bills slid in
And out of it. I want that information very much today,

Can't have it, and this makes me angry.
I shall use my anger to build a bridge like that
Of Avignon, on which people may dance for the feeling
Of dancing on a bridge. I shall at last see my complete face
Reflected not in the water but in the worn stone floor of my bridge.

I shall keep to myself.
I shall not repeat others' comments about me.


  1. After listening to Serial (about which I was lukewarm), we downloaded a podcast of M-D to listen to on our Road Trip 2015. Each chapter is read by a different reader. 1st by Tilda Swinton, goes downhill from there. A lot of Brits with regional accents. Still. We got about 35 chapters in. I'm going to listen to the rest on my flight to HI next week. I'd forgotten how humorous it was in places.

    Moby-Dick serendipity. The best serendipity.

    Your pal...

    1. I am going to read it out loud next time I read it, not only for the sounds but for the laughs.

  2. the first quote in your melville post struck me as very lovecraftian - and of course i am not the first to notice the similarity

  3. Want a pdf of an unpublished for a change of pace?

    1. This is true: I've wondered what I would say if you asked. Often. I still don't know beyond this: maybe, but not in the Dark and slump I'm at right now, please. Ask again in a couple of months, please.