Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 6 (Nathaniel Mackey)


Eroding Witness
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Mackey, Nathaniel
Eroding Witness


I think I may have bought this at Rust Belt Books, but I am not sure. It was priced at $3.00, so I am sure I bought it used.

I have an image in my mind of reading it while sitting at the desk at my old apartment on College St. The memory feels slightly confused. In it, the desk sits next to the south-facing window in my bedroom. Unless my memory of the room is also confused, my desk sat beside the east-facing window that looked out onto the back yard.

It's possible that I did have the desk at the other window at some point, but I am pretty sure that is not the case. So where was I when I read this?

Maybe the book sat on the end table next to the bed, which would have stood beside the south-facing window. The window looked out onto a driveway/alley between two houses. All I could see was the side of the house next door.

The end table was an old one, made of wood, with a sort of shelf you could set things on and place things under. It had lathed legs and was stained a light mahogany. I bought it from a homeless man in New York for $5 when I was twenty three. I bought it because I had seen the same one at my friend's apartment and had thought that it looked useful. It was. I don't think I own it anymore. We may have finally gotten rid of it when we moved out of our last house. I may have given it away. It was a sturdy piece of furniture. Ugly, but sturdy.

I also bought my first kitchen table on the street. I got it from a squatter near Avenue A on E. 6th St. for ten dollars. It had a solid oak base, but the squatter had attached to it a round, ill-fitting, tabletop made of pine slats. I think he made it himself. It tilted to one side but never broke. We always covered it with a tablecloth. I think I left it in New York.

I bought a kitchen table with a similar base in Buffalo, only it had the original top. It also expanded from a circle to an oval to accomodate up to six chairs. I kept that for many years, but left it behind at the house in Black Rock, where we had used it as an outdoor table on the covered patio off the garage. It was painted black and gold and came with six chairs. I paid $125 for the set. Way too much, but it lasted. It's probably still there. I remember we put it outside because the black paint kept flaking off the chairs.

Now we have square, black Ikea tables next to the bed, and a Vintage, mid-century modern dining set with six winged chairs. I am looking at it right now. It stands in front of my writing desk.

The desk is actually a kitchen table. I bought it at Pier 1 for $185 dollars in 1999. It was the first piece of new furniture I ever bought, paid for with student loans. It has twisting black iron legs that form x's, a stabilizing iron bar connecting the two x's at the center, and a rectangular wooden top. I don't know what kind of wood it is. Both ends of the table bear hundreds of scratches made by Sumi, the black cat, who likes to stand on his hind legs and paw at pens sitting on the edge of the desk.

Next to the scratches, to my immediate right, now sit three books written by Nathaniel Mackey, including Eroding Witness.

from Eroding Witness

Song of the Andoumboulou: 6

Dear Angel of Dust,

In one of your earlier letters, the one you wrote in response to Song of the Andoumboulou: 3, you spoke of sorting out "what speaks of speaking of something, and what (more valuably) speaks from something, i.e., where the source is available, becomes a re-source rather than something evasive, elusive, sought after." Well, what I wanted to say then was this: We not only can but should speak of "loss" or, to avoid, quotation marks notwithstanding, any such inkling of self-pity, speak of absence as unavoidably an inherence in the texture of things (dreamseed, habitual cloth). You really do seem to believe in, to hold out for some first or final gist underlying it all, but my preoccupation with origins and ends is exactly that: a pre- (equally post-, I suppose) occupation.

Tonight my mind struggles, for example, to reject all reminder of thought. It doubles up in some extravagant way as if to ask you back the question always implied by that scowl of yours. But the truth is that I don't even believe any such question exists. I see the things of your world as solid in a way the world my "myriad words" uncoil can't even hope to be. Not "ethereal," mind you. Not insubstantial, unreal or whatever else. Only an other (possibly Other) sort of solidarity, as if its very underseams--or, to be more exact, those of its advent--sprouted hoofs. (Or as if the Sun, which had come to boat us away, might've extended horns.) What was wanted least but now comes to be missed is that very absence, an unlikely Other whose inconceivable occupancy glimpses of ocean beg access to.

Not "re-source" so much for me as re: Source.

Yours,
N.

cc: Jack Spicer
Garcia Lorca
H-mu

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