Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 1 (Edward Dahlberg)

Dahlberg, Edward
Can These Bones Live


I don't recall where I bought this. I have vague memories of having looked at it in St. Mark's. I have vague memories of having looked at it in Talking Leaves Books. I have even more vague memories of having looked at it in Rust Belt Books. All I can say for sure is that I bought it somewhere for $6.50.

My fleeting interest in Dahlberg stemmed from my interest in Olson, as he was an important mentor for the latter before he produced Call Me Ishmael.

I have a memory of reading the opening paragraph to an old girlfriend, also a writer, whose response was, "This is the kind of prose that needs to stop being written."

I never got very far in either of the Dahlberg books I own. I suspect that's the case for most, hence the decline in his reputation over the years.

From The Man Eating Fable:

Truth, Good and Evil revolve like the perpetual wheel to which Ixion was bound. Tamburlaine, the "Scythian thief," sprinkles Asiatic lands with the brains of men, and thirsts the far infinities of the Milky Way; unambitious and loving Hamlet, who can "be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself king of infinite space," embitters the earth; Macbeth speaks truths from Gothic caves of terror; the evil and saturnine Ahab, soaked in a metaphysical revenge and in blood "older than the Pharoahs'," knows moral ecstasies as tender as "...let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into the sea and sky; better than to gaze upon God." Resolve these ambiguities who can?

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