Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Colorless, Tasteless, and Originless Fear


Franz Wright

If I stare into it long enough, the point comes when I don’t know what it’s called, a condition in which lacerations are liable to occur, like a slip of the tongue; when a drop of blood might billow in a glass of water, blooming in velvet detonation and imparting to it the colorless, tasteless and originless fear in which I wake.


  1. 0)some are saying that hanna arendt is a thinker more relevant than ever - it might be true

    1)some are saying that hillary is inevitable - maybe, maybe not

    2)an inexpensive paperback of poetry for children included wcw's original, infra, and kk's parody - but it was through our friends at wikipedia that i became aware of flossy williams' reply - i note that she writes ice-box whereas her husband writes icebox

    3)This is Just to Say
    by William Carlos Williams (1934)

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold


    4)Kenneth Koch, "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams" (1962)
    I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next
    I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
    and its wooden beams were so inviting.

    We laughed at the hollyhocks together
    and then I sprayed them with lye.
    Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

    I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
    next ten years.
    The man who asked for it was shabby
    and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

    Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
    Forgive me. I was clumsy and
    I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!


    5)Flossie Williams's reply to "This Is Just to Say"
    [from the note to the poem in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, volume 1, 1909-1939, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan:]

    Florence Williams's "reply" to "This Is Just to Say" is included as a "Detail" in the partially published Detail & Parody for the poem Paterson [a manuscript at SUNY Buffalo]; it first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly (November 1982), p. 145. Since WCW chose to include the reply in his own sequence it seems likely that he took a note left by his wife and turned it into a "poem."

    The following text is taken from a typescript [also in the Buffalo archive]:


    (crumped on her desk)

    Dear Bill: I've made a
    couple of sandwiches for you.
    In the ice-box you'll find
    blue-berries--a cup of grapefruit
    a glass of cold coffee.

    On the stove is the tea-pot
    with enough tea leaves
    for you to make tea if you
    prefer--Just light the gas--
    boil the water and put it in the tea

    Plenty of bread in the bread-box
    and butter and eggs--
    I didn't know just what to
    make for you. Several people
    called up about office hours--

    See you later. Love. Floss.

    Please switch off the telephone.

  2. an icebox required the services of an iceman - as wikipedia notes

    An iceman is someone who sells or delivers ice from a wagon, cart, or motor-truck.

    The profession was formerly much more common than it is today. From the late 19th century to mid-20th century, in cities and towns icemen would commonly make daily rounds delivering ice for iceboxes before the electric domestic refrigerator became commonplace.

    Many icemen in the Northeastern U.S. had origins in Southern Italy. Arriving in the U.S. with little education or trade skills, many of these immigrants began ice routes, especially in New York City, where ice routes were a common sight. In those times, ice was harvested from ponds and lakes, stored in ice houses and transported to cities. Modern day icemen no longer use a wagon or cart to deliver their ice, but instead use freezer trucks which contain pallets stacked with bags of ice cubes and large blocks (known as cakes) of ice. Many of the old-fashioned small-time routes were bought out in the 1980s and 1990s by large ice corporations that sell and produce ice, as well as ice machines, to restaurants and bars.

    The tools of the iceman were wires (to tie the bags of cubes), hooks, tongs, and ice picks. Being an iceman was arduous. Icemen usually began their day at 4:00 am and finished late in the evening, depending on both the season and day of the week. Many icemen worked seven days a week and through holidays.

    As Arthur Miller recalls in his autobiography Timebends, "icemen had leather vests and a wet piece of sackcloth slung over the right shoulder, and once they had slid the ice into the box, they invariably slipped the sacking off and stood there waiting, dripping, for their money."

  3. A.) That's from Roosevelt's First Inaugural ("The only thing we have to fear is -- fear itself; colorless, tasteless, originless terror")?

    B.) The Iceman was also the nickname of a particular HA (Oakland chapter) enforcer.

    C.) Standing there with a piece of rough sacking, dripping, waiting to be paid, sounds very much like what I do at the Place O Witless Labor. Eerie.

    1. without actually examining the original document, i wish to suggest, as a thought experiment, that the phrase might be from fdr's hypothetical analysis of the five feardoms

      that is to say, while at first apparently originless, upon examination our all-pervasive anxiety can be seen to have five roots, namely the fear of

      separation from all we love
      facing the consequences of our good and evil actions

      few or no historians have remarked on fdr's intensive study of buddhism during his convalescence from polio, or how his reliance on the buddha, dharma, and sangha enabled him to persevere in the face of the great depression, world war ii, and the constraints of his marriage to his fifth cousin once removed, to whom he owed so much, and yet was unable to remain faithful to

  4. to be clear, about fdr and the "five feardoms", and his reliance on the buddha, dharma, and sangha - i was joking

    seriously, though, you could look at

    which reveals why fdr sent leo tolstoy's son ilia, who was a u.s. army colonel, to lhasa with a gold rolex watch for the 7-year-old dalai lama (really)