Friday, December 31, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 7 (Jackson Mac Low)

Mac Low, Jackson
From Pearl Harbor Day


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books in 1997.

Jackson Mac Low came to Buffalo for an extended visit during my first semester in the Poetics Program. He gave a talk on Ezra Pound in Charles Bernstein's seminar. He gave a reading in the Center for the Arts screening room. He performed several of his works with Mike Basinski and a group of local musicians at Hallwalls cinema.

I'd seen Jackson at readings in New York, sitting the front row, scribbling away in his notebook during readings, but I'd never met him before, so it was kind of a thrill to meet him when he came.

It was around the time of his seventy-fifth birthday. We threw him a birthday party at a loft in downtown Buffalo. Using the Core-L poetics listserv, I organized the production of a 75th birthday poem along with several of my classmates.

The poem was called "75," and was comprised of 75 lines that alternated in length between seven and five words, which in turn alternated between lines beginning with "j" words and "m" words, signifying the author's initials.

Each poet involved contributed a certain number of lines constructed in this format. The other rule was that these lines had to be derived from some kind of chance operation and the operation had to be described in detail for a kind of appendix we added at the end.

Bill Howe performed all seventy-five lines at the party. He gave each stray or random punctuation mark a different sound value, and I remember that afterwards Jackson approached Bill to discuss the particular sound values Bill assigned each mark. He took issue with several of BIll's choices.

Christian Bök and Darren Wershler (still -Henry at the time) each brought a large stack of Jackson's books to the party and piled them onto the kitchen table for the author to sign after the reading.

While he was signing, I approached and handed him a copy of the entire poem, including the appendix, explaining that we had each used different chance operations to generate our text. He gave me a sort of puzzled look and said, "Oh, I don't use chance operations anymore." And then went back to signing books.

Today's title is perfect for the occasion, as all the poems were composed between 12/7 and 1/30/82. Below is the New Year's poem.

Here's wishing you a happy one this coming year.

from From Pearl Harbor Day to FDR's Birthday

Filial Simples


Arouse disguised inveterate inner sanctions
close heterophony models rollicking sacredly
where designated ions clamber hooked felicity

Triumph scares tendentious proxy phantoms
dense rhinoceroses plead against or please
and thieving lithium drillers crisply randomize

Fascinated unctions canvass awkward pitches
where leashes gloss brittle pinnacle trinities
tabulating silent fish vigil print knobs

Notaries coalesce heavestroke neutrality pluck
knuckling cousin's' cornerstone rotifers notion-stopping
families blank or bland features tourniquet gauntly

Groins or ghost pickle doers straight-talk furniture
flashes partly important doorstep bin comedies
logarithm wheezes flap or give off

Gusts derive and land by perched nurturer tints
glitter-gauzed Sioux floaters predicate
whenever clam bastion frequency punts arouse

                    29-31 December 1981
                    New York

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 6.2 (Nathaniel Mackey)


Paracritical Hinge
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Mackey, Nathaniel
Paracritical Hinge:
Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews


I think I bought this one online. University press books usually cost too much to pay full price and support my local store.

I bought this for Mackey's essay on Duncan's Vietnam War poems. It's one of the best essays on Duncan out there, IMHO. Not that I've read all that many.

I believe I was reading this around the time I was also reading the Duncan/Levertov correspondence. It was more or less the height of the Iraq war, which basically framed all of my thinking and writing during this period. Both To Be Sung and Human Scale were written with the war always pressing in on the poems, whether as foreground or as background.

Some days I think I like Mackey's essay more than I like the poems he writes about. I am always hot and cold on Duncan.

I remember sitting at a pizza place in New York after reading at the Zinc bar in probably 2005 and telling someone that I thought this was a great essay and then that person asking me why I thought it was 'great.' I really hate that question. It always feels like a challenge rather than an inquiry. I think just told them to go read the essay and find out for themselves.

from Gassire's Lute: Robert Duncan's Vietnam War Poems

The deep entanglement of word and humankind, the difficulty of disentangling "I think I could bear it" from "I cannot think I could bear it," bears witness to a truth to be faithful to which the poet runs a two-way risk. The hubris of an easy gesture of commiseration, the assertion of solidarity through presumptions of suffering only vicariously suffered, vies with the hubris of a callous transcendance of suffering, the narcotizing lure of holding life "in no higher esteem then it deserves." The difficulty, the meaning, is in the mix, the holding aloft of an unresolved dilemma. The meaning, more exactly, is the mix, the intertwinement and the intensification; the entanglement taunts our wish to conclude.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 6.1 (Nathaniel Mackey)


Splay Anthem
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Mackey, Nathaniel
Splay Anthem


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. I may have bought this at his reading in Buffalo in 2007. The sticker says I bought it a few days before he arrived, so I must have bought it in anticipation of the reading.

It took place at the Hallwalls cinema, I believe as part of the Exhibit X series. I sat in the rear, behind a green iron support beam. At the time I was really into taking photos. I'd just returned from a cross country trek with Lori and carried my little point and shoot camera with me everywhere. I took most without a flash, which worked great in strong natural light, but which otherwise created blurry images.

I took a set of ten or so photos of Mackey's reading, all of them blurry. I remember at the time thinking that some of them were interesting. Looking at them again today, they seem less so.

At the reading he talked about Don Cherry, the jazz cornetist. One of his poem sequences is called the Song of Mu, which is named after an album by Don Cherry. I found a vinyl rip of the album on BitTorrent and downloaded it.

It blew my mind. Then it blew my iPod. I thought the file may have been corrupted, but it played fine on my computer and still does. It also plays fine I my newer iPod. Strange, though, it would just stop playing on my old iPod and always on the same song. And then the iPod died. Poor iPod.

You really should check out Mu, though. What an amazing album.

Here's a taste.

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 5 (Dan Machlin)


Dear Body
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Machlin, Dan
Dear Body


Sent to me by the author -- or by the publisher. I can't remember which. Inscribed.

Dan Machlin, who also publishes Futurepoem books, is my oldest friend in the poetry world. We met in 1996, when Dan worked as the manager of the Segue Foundation and Roof Books. He was also working on his MA at City College at the time, where he studied with Ann Lauterbach and a whole circle of other poets, like Garrett Kalleberg and Heather Ramsdell and Genya Turovsky and also with my college friend Stephen Mounkhall.

It is because of Stephen that I met Dan. Stephen began a part-time project at Segue working to collect an archive of titles previously distributed by the organization before its NEA funding had been discontinued. The archive being around the corner from my apartment in the East Village, Steve would on occasion call me for a cup of coffee when he was working. Once he invited me over for a tour of the archive. This was also more or less my introduction to contemporary poetry.

Around this time, Steve and his wife Nicole found out they were going to have their first child and so he was forced to give up his archiving post, which he kindly passed along to me. That's how I met Dan.

I don't really remember the first time we met, though I can picture talking to Dan in that basement space. My memory is more clear of how my friendship with Dan made my last year in New York, which was quite a painful one, much more bearable.

At first I would run into him at Segue and he would say, Hey you should come check out this reading upstairs tonight, or he would invite me to come to a reading at the Poetry Project. I was trying really hard to keep up on all the poets I was being introduced to and assimilating all of the information coming in about the poetry scene as quickly as I could.

I remember hearing rumblings about some magazine in Buffalo called Apex of the M and how inviting some of the Buffalo poets to read could might be viewed as a slap in the face to the language writers who published and were published by Roof Books. I remember Dan putting together a panel to celebrate the publication of Bob Perelman's "The Marginalization of Poetry," which I missed while traveling in Ecuador that winter and how I felt like I had really missed out on something. I remember Dan telling me to come to a reading by Peter Gizzi so I could ask him about Buffalo.

I used to help Dan set up the readings in the Segue space, which was essentially a small dance studio on the first floor of an artist co-op. I always admired Dan's attention to detail. Like how after all the chairs and the podium were in place, he would make an otherwise blank room feel homey by running to the Bodega on the corner and buying a small bouquet of flowers to set next to the water pitcher on a table next to the reader.

After the readings, Dan would always introduce me to other poets, who would talk to me for a little while before finding someone more important to talk to. Regardless, Dan would always invite me out for coffee or a meal after the reading.

But Dan was more important to me that year for his friendship than for helping me navigate the NY poetry scene. As I have mentioned before, I spent most of that year in a deep depression after a painful break-up. As I started making it out to poetry readings and meeting new people and working at Segue and all that, the depression began to lift. Then my father suddenly died in November and I felt like I was in real danger of slipping back into it.

Soon after I'd returned from the funeral in Virginia Dan, who I'd really only just met, invited me to a party at his friend's loft in Soho. A week later I got a call from his partner, Serena, who invited me to Dan's birthday party. Everything else in NY felt quite cold to me that year. Winter, death, depression. Even the poetry scene, which on the one hand was a great pleasure to find, also felt quite cold when it came to getting to know people. But Dan (and Serena), reached out and I was (and am still) grateful for their kindness.

It was also Dan who gave me my first poetry reading in NY -- and my second and third -- after I moved to Buffalo, for which I am also grateful.

Anyhow, I was extremely happy when his book, the culmination of about a decade of work, finally came out in 2007, around the same time as my Human Scale, which explains the inscription:

To Mike:

Here's to
Duelling books and
continued poetic
exchange.

Warm regards and friendship--
Dan


I wish Dan had more books for me to write about, because I could say a lot more. I'll have to find a way to slip him in somewhere else, lest this entry grow way too long!

from Dear Body

Opus Incertum


I often wept into saying.
Wept over the unsaid sayings.
Slept in the loft of an
unknown artist.
I was hurt.
I was unhurt.
I sang into the wind.
There was no wind.
Whatever pain finally
Became my anger.
Whatever anger
finally became my pain.
No longer material.
Metaphoric rock.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 4 (Niccolò Macchiavelli)


The Prince
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Macchiavelli, Niccolò
The Prince


Purchased at the Fordham University bookstore. I used this an undergraduate course on Renaissance literature. I vaguely remember the course. I clearly remember the professor as being the worst of my undergraduate career -- actually it was a tie between him and my medieval literature professor. He had was quite obese, but had once been skinny, to that his physique resembled a giant pear. He used handwritten lecture notes that had not been updated in at least a decade. For whatever reason, I remember learning the terms "trecento" and "quattrocento" in this class. I even have an image in my head of the pear-shaped professor pronouncing them to the class. And then I think I drifted off to sleep.

from The Prince

All the states and governments that ever had or now have power over men were and are of two sorts: either republics or princely states. And princely states are als of two sorts: either hereditary, where the family of the ruler has been in control for a long time, or else new. And the new ones are either brand new, as Milan was for Francesco Sforza, or they are like grafts freshly joined to the hereditary state of a prince who has acquired them, as the kingdom of Naples was to the kingdom of Spain. New acquisitions are either accustomed to living under a prince, or used to being free, they may be acquired either by force of other people's arms or with one's own, either by fortune or by strength.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 3 (Antonio Machado)

Machado, Antonio
The Landscape of Castile


Given to me by publisher/co-translator, Dennis Maloney.

I remember reading Machado in high school. We were told he was part of the "Generation of '98." I think we read Machado and Unamuno.

Our teacher was a young guy with a glass eye who sometimes told the all-male class perverse stories. Once he told us about how on the night of his honeymoon, while he lay naked in bed waiting for his wife to shower, he drifted off to sleep. He was awakened by the pleasant sensation of having his balls licked. Assuming the licking was being done by his wife, he reached down to touch her head and discovered he was being licked by a stray cat.

And this at a Catholic school!

My only other memory of that class is of a print of Goya's, "El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid" hanging on the wall. I used to stare at that man in the yellow pants and white shirt standing before the firing squad with his arms outstretched. The image actually made it into one of my poems later on. The image of the cat licking the teacher's balls did not make it into a poem.

from The Landscape of Castile

November 1913

Another year gone. The sower casts
seed into the furrowed earth.
Two slow ox teams plow
while ashen clouds pass over,
darkening the field,
the brown planted rows,
the gray olive groves. Along the bottom
of the valley, the river carries muddy water off.
On Cazorla, snow,
Magina is stormy,
Aznaitin is covered in clouds. Toward Granada,
sun on the mountains, mountains of sun and stone.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 2 (Diarmaid MacCulloch)


The Reformation
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
MacCulloch, Diarmaid
The Reformation


Purchased online.

I bought and read all 800 pages of this tome on the Reformation. After grad school, I was reading a lot of history, mostly trying to fill in my generalist's knowledge of European history.

My knowledge remains general and fragmented.

History is a tough slog to read through most of the time. Good history books, i.e., those that are both thorough and readable, are few and far between.

I can't remember if this one qualifies or not. I seem to remember enjoying the read, despite not remember much if any of the book. It's odd to have read a such a large book with the intent of filling a hole in one's knowledge and then to have that hole still feel empty, n'est pas?

from The Reformation

Lurking in a little English country church, Preston Bissett in Buckinghamshire, is an object lesson in the difficulty of understanding the religious outlook of past generations. Holding up the arch to the entrance to the chancel, the most sacred part of the building, are two carved stone figures, sculpted sometime in the early fourteenth century. The figure on the north side, crouched on all fours under the weight of the arch, is displaying his ample buttocks towards the high altar, the place where, day by day before the Reformation, the priest of Preston presided at the mass, transforming the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of christ. Some later vandal has knocked the head off the carving, as with countless other carvings in Protestant Europe, but the buttocks are unscathed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 1.1 (Karen Mac Cormack)


Quirks & Quillets
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Mac Cormack, Karen
Quirks & Quillets


Given to me by the author. Inscribed.

"acknowledge different spellings"

for Mike

oxoxo,

Karen


17 Feb 1997

Running late this morning, so an excerpt and I am off.

Ouch! I just cut myself on the page and bled all over the excerpt.

from Quirks & Quillets

Sweeping the variations a moment of approximate sphere urges the plane along time for anything to reach table flushing grids are common in some way crops shape the elsewhere occupied needles health derives its singular strands fluid clear circle through.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 1 (Karen Mac Cormack)

Mac Cormack, Karen
The Tongue Moves Talk


Given to me by the author. Inscribed.

For Mike,

On his first visit.

oxoxo,

Karen
17 February 1998


I think this must have been the time, previously described here, when I drove to Toronto to pick up Allen Fisher at Karen Mac Cormack and Steve McCaffery's apartment.

from The Tongue Moves Talk

I'm Big On Ladders


wheeled amounts

more

to the top

planned snare

a patch

on mostly

how surname

fits location

chosen or given

an environment

is perceived

space define

past pastoral

allergies arrest us

beyond

the fence

a door

stops nothing

biographies increase

passed port

retaliate

or shrug towards

Honour on

the stairs

velvet-lined

happenstance

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's: Stats


The L's
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
The L's

23 Authors
33 Volumes
33 titles

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 23 (Lucretius)

Lucretius
On the Nature of the Universe


Purchased for $3 at the late, lamented Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store.

On the Nature of the Universe, the founding text of Epicureanism, is one of those books I keep meaning to get to. I kick myself each time I realize I haven't gotten to it. I am kicking myself right now. And it hurts! Ouch!

I have a vague recollection of Charles Bernstein recommending this to me when were preparing my orals list in grad school -- not for the oral exams themselves, but as an extension of the classical reading I was doing at the time. Alas, sigh. Someday.

Well, this is the end of the L's. We'll see you in the M's, one of my favorites, and also the thirteenth letter in the alphabet, the end of which will mark, alphabetically anyhow, the midway point of the Aimless Reading Project.

from On the Nature of the Universe

Give your mind now to the true reasoning I have to unfold. A new fact is battling strenuously for access to your ears. A new aspect of the universe is striving to reveal itself. But no fact is so simple that it is not harder to believe than to doubt at the first presentation. Equally, there is nothing so mighty or so marvelous that the wonder it evokes does not tend to diminish in time. Take first the pure and undimmed luster of the sky and all that it enshrines: the stars that roam across its surface, the moon and the surpassing splendor of sunlight. If all these sights were now displayed to mortal view for the first time by a swift unforeseen revelation, what miracle could be recounted greater than this? What would men before the revelation have been less prone to conceive as possible? Nothing, surely. So marvelous would have been that sight--a sight which no one now, you will admit, thinks worthy of an upward glance into the luminous regions of the sky. So has satiety blunted the appetite of our eyes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 22.1 (Mina Loy)


Becoming Modern
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Burke, Carolyn
Becoming Modern:
The Life of Mina Loy


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books for a course with Charles Bernstein.

Around the time of this book's publication, Carolyn Burke came to Bernstein's seminar to discuss Mina Loy. I looked up the syllabus this morning -- I was one semester off in my guess about the timing of her visit. It actually took place in the spring of 1998 for a course called "Prose and its Malcontents."

I remember that in those two semesters there were two major poetic "reconsiderations" occurring in similar fashion. In the fall, Kevin Killian came to discuss his then forthcoming biography of Jack Spicer, which was eventually published around the same time as Peter Gizzi's edition of Spicer's lectures.

In the spring, Burke came just after the publication of her biography and not long after the publication of The Lost Lunar Baedecker. For a time it seemed as if everyone was either really into Loy or really into Spicer or both.

***

On a side note, I acquired a ton of books yesterday. About a year ago, an amazing Buffalo guy named Russell Pawlak died. He was the person who spearheaded the Central Terminal restoration efforts. He was also an avid film goer and reader. I only met him once when he approached me after a Babel event. He was a good friend to Just Buffalo and when he passed a memorial fund was set up in his name to support the Babel series.

Yesterday, his daughter Hadley called and asked us to come over to his apartment, where she was trying to figure out how to dispose of his massive library in a useful manner. I eventually put her in touch with Rust Belt Books, which plans to come take the whole thing -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 books.

While we were going over the shelves, she invited us to take whatever we wanted for ourselves. I took one grocery bag of books and one of DVD's. Here's the list of the books I acquired, in no particular order:

Rimbaud, Arthur, Illuminations
Starkie, Enid, Arthur Rimbaud
Neruda, Pablo, The Heights of Macchu Picchu Tr. Nathaniel Tarn)
Garcia Lorca, Federico, Poet in New York
Garcia Lorca, Federico, Selected Poems
Montale, Eugenio, It Depends: A Poet's Notebook
Snyder Gary, The Back Country
Snyder Gary, Earth House Hold
Snyder Gary, Turtle Island
Snyder Gary, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems
Li Po, Slected Poems
Bei Dao, Old Snow
Tung-po, Su, Selected Poems
Basho, The Narrow Road and The Deep North
Praeger Film Library, The Films of Robert Bresson
Praeger Film Library, Jean Vigo
Praeger Film Library, The Cinema of Carl Dreyer
Jarry, Alfred, Ubu Roi
Davis, Mike, City of Quartz
Alcalay, Ammiel, Memorie of Our Future
Gombrowicz, Witold, Polish Memories
Gombrowicz, Witold, A Kind of Testament
Gombrowicz, Witold, Ivona, Princess of Burgundia
Gombrowicz, Witold, Cosmos
Gombrowicz, Witold, Pronografia
Multiple authors, A Pattern Language
Berger, John, Ways of Seeing (I used to own this, but lost it)
Bernhard, Thomas, Wittgenstein's Nephew
Bernhard, Thomas, Correction
Didion, Joan, The White Album
Grossman, David, The Zig Zag Kid
Grossman, David, The Smile of the Lamb
Grossman, David, The Yellow Wind
Grossman, David, Death as a Way of Life

Thanks, Russel! R.I.P.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 22 (Mina Loy)

Loy, Mina
The Lost Lunar Baedecker


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books for a course with Charles Bernstein. I think this had only been out a short time when we studied it in Bernstein's seminar. Must have been 1997, my first semester in Buffalo.

"The Lost Lunar Baedecker" is one of my all-time favorite book titles, despite its being an extrapolation from the title of the Loy poem, which is simply, "Lunar Baedecker."

I remember learning that a Baedecker was the primary tourist guide for Europe in the early 20th Century, so much so that it became a byword for a tourist guide itself, much the same way "xerox" once meant "photocopy" or the way "google" can now mean "to perform an internet search."

Thus, a tourist guide to the moon.

A lost and now recovered tourist guide to the moon.

Standing alone, the title is great. As a title for a newly edited collection of poems by a "lost" modernist, it perhaps makes its point somewhat too emphatically, but I can forgive that.

Imagine finding a lost tourist guide to the moon!

Ah, the implications!

And then of course there is the Mina/Myrna slippage. It is said the actress took her stage name at the suggestion of a friend who happened to be a Russian modernist poet, but that's as close as one gets to finding a direct connection between the two. One wonders how much this slippage eclipsed or helped to eclipse the name and reputation of the original.

Ah, the implications.

Lunar Baedeker

A silver Lucifer
serves
cocaine in cornucopia

To some somnambulists
of adolescent thighs
draped
in satirical draperies

Peris in livery
prepare
Lethe
for posthumous parvenues

Delirious Avenues
lit
with the chandelier souls
of infusoria
from Pharoah’s tombstones

lead
to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous

the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

          Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”

Cyclones
of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
crusaders
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters

A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis

From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient

Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
observe
the flight
of Eros obsolete

And “Immortality”
mildews ...
in the museums of the moon

“Nocturnal cyclops”
“Crystal concubine”

Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 21 (Robert Lowell)


Selected Poems
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lowell, Robert
Selected Poems


I think I may have bought this at The Strand around the time I graduated from college. I am not sure why I bought it. I can usually remember some impetus, especially for a book by a poet I don't much like.

I don't ever remember reading Lowell in college. I do remember taking a course on Anglo-Irish Literature, or something like that, in which we read a lot of Seamus Heaney, and that Heaney wrote an essay or review of Lowell that we read for the class. That may be where I heard about him.

I feel no particular fondness for his work. I find it mostly depressing, claustrophobic, narcissistic.

I always found that quip Lowell was supposed to have made at a reading with Frank O'Hara hilarious and also telling. Apparently O'Hara read a poem he'd written on the way to the reading and told the audience he'd done so. When it was his turn to read, Lowell supposedly stood up and said something to the effect of, "I did NOT write this on the way to the reading."

from Selected Poems

"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"


"It is the future generation that presses into being by means of
these exuberant feelings and supersensible soap bubbles of ours."

—Schopenhauer

"The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes,
and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes,
free-lancing out along the razor's edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . .
It's the injustice . . . he is so unjust—
whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him tick? Each night now I tie
ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . .
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 20 (Alan Loney)


& The Ampersand
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Loney, Alan
& The Ampersand


Given to me by the author. Inscribed:

For Mike--

With warmest wishes
and many regards

Alan Loney
13/11/03


Around the time that Robert Creeley was getting ready to leave Buffalo to teach at Brown in 2003, he called to ask a favor. Before he'd taken the job, he'd promised readings to three poets that he now would not be around to attend to and would I be willing to handle their visits using the money from his chair. I agreed on the condition that the non-academic portion of their visits, i.e., their poetry readings, take place off campus at Just Buffalo.

The first poet was Clayton Eshleman, the second was Tomaž Šalamun, and the third was Alan Loney. Loney is a poet and printer from New Zealand, where he and Creeley had met many years before. Though if memory serves he now lives in Australia.

Anyhow, this book is an essay on the use of the ampersand, and is very much the work of a professional printer/poet. It's also quite witty.

from & The Ampersand

The ampersand has had a bad press in this country in recent years, particularly in literary reviews in the so-called 'popular press' or worse, 'the media.' But even sophisticated commentators are capable of being deeply moved, if negatively, by the appearance of an ampersand in a poem (which, sadly, 'we' have come to expect these days), or, heaven forbid, in a piece of literary prose, or even, horror beyond mortal imagination, in a piece of literary criticism. It is interesting, as an aside, to watch this sliding scale of disapproval, and its parallel in a sort of 'acceptance' of the view that a poet, because of some presumed link with a further presumed 'frenzy of creativity', can legitimately be frequently drunk, or drugged, or behave badly towards others, whereas the critic, because assumed to be 'holding down' (itself an interesting phrase with its connotations of power) a responsible job in a responsible institution, usually educational, may not so misbehave in person or in print. The use of the ampersand in print is a sure sign of literary decadence, and a vivid indicator of a writer's socio-cultural unacceptability.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aimless Reading: Two Years In


Two Years In
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Today marks the second anniversary of the Aimless Reading Project.

By my rough count I have covered 628 titles in two years. I think we are about forty percent done with the books in the main library, exclusive of literary journals, reference books and anthologies. I've largely put on hold the interludes between sections of the alphabet that covered these other parts of the library. For some reason they began to feel like a distraction. When I finish one letter of the alphabet I just want to move on to the next. Now I do.

Despite this urgency, my output this year was down significantly from year one. I covered 231 titles, compared with 397 in the first year. This disparity has largely to do with the fact that at the beginning of the project I sometimes wrote on as many as eight titles per day. Many of these entries were relatively brief; however, as I moved into the project I often found I had more to write about than simply where or when I purchased the book and whether or not I'd read it. I began to write longer entries. Sometimes, very long ones.

This, too, has changed somewhat. I try to write every day, lest I break out of the habit, which is a danger in any kind of project like this. I skip a day now and again on the weekends or when things get really busy here in Buffalo literary land. I write mostly medium-length entries. Long enough to pull something useful out of my head, but short enough that I can get to work on time in the morning.

I have gained numerous "followers" through the Networked Blogs application. I have 465 currently, plus another 29 signed up through Google. According to Sitemeter, I had 8,650 visits in the past twelve months. I think that is slightly down from year one, when I recall something like 10,000 visits.

I feel kind of shocked that two years have already passed. It feels like it is going so slowly on a day-to-day basis, but then suddenly and anniversary arrives, which suddenly focuses your attention on the accumulation that has occurred. Like going to bed to snow flurries and waking to half a foot of snow.

(Like last night, for instance.)

Anyhow, thanks to all of you for reading this year. Here's hoping you stick around for another!

Time to go to work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 19 (John Locke)

Locke, John
The Second Treatise on Government

Purchased, I am sure, at the Fordham University Book Store. It even bears the Fordham school color -- maroon.

How did 'maroon' come to mean both 'a brownish crimson color' and also 'to strand someone in an isolated place'?

Was there a 'first' treatise on government? Has anyone ever read it?

Was the 'e' at the end of "Locke' once pronounced? Lock-uh?

Sorry, I am feeling inquisitive this morning. I think I probably used this book in several courses as an undergraduate. I was torn right up until the very end between majoring in English and majoring in political philosophy. I was too disorganized and scattered to put together a schedule of classes that allowed me to double major. Nonetheless, I took many classes in the political science department there, yet never managed to cross paths with poet Bruce Andrews until many years after college.

I don't remember reading all that well, but opening it again, I remember the opening in which he feels the need to begin his argument against the right of succession by suggesting there are no bloodlines that can clearly establish a link back to Adam & Ever, therefore divine right stands on shaky ground. A great opener for a very different age.

from The Second Treatise on Government

Sect. 1. It having been shewn in the foregoing discourse,

1. That Adam had not, either by natural right of fatherhood, or by positive donation from God, any such authority over his children, or dominion over the world, as is pretended:

2. That if he had, his heirs, yet, had no right to it:

3. That if his heirs had, there being no law of nature nor positive law of God that determines which is the right heir in all cases that may arise, the right of succession, and consequently of bearing rule, could not have been certainly determined:

4. That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge of which is the eldest line of Adam's posterity, being so long since utterly lost, that in the races of mankind and families of the world, there remains not to one above another, the least pretence to be the eldest house, and to have the right of inheritance:

5. All these premises having, as I think, been clearly made out, it is impossible that the rulers now on earth should make any benefit, or derive any the least shadow of authority from that, which is held to be the fountain of all power, Adam's private dominion and paternal jurisdiction: so that he that will not give just occasion to think that all government in the world is the product only of force and violence, and that men live together by no other rules but that of beasts, where the strongest carries it, and so lay a foundation for perpetual disorder and mischief, tumult, sedition and rebellion, (things that the followers of that hypothesis so loudly cry out against) must of necessity find out another rise of government, another original of political power, and another way of designing and knowing the persons that have it, than what Sir Robert Filmer hath taught us.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 18 (Livy)

Livy
The Early History of Rome


Not sure where I bought this. I bought it for my oral exam reading list in graduate school and I read it. I think that is all I have to say today.

from The Early History of Rome

To begin with, it is generally admitted that after the capture of Troy, whilst the rest of the Trojans were massacred, against two of them-Aeneas and Antenor -the Achivi refused to exercise the rights of war, partly owing to old ties of hospitality, and partly because these men had always been in favour of making peace and surrendering Helen. Their subsequent fortunes were different. Antenor sailed into the furthest part of the Adriatic, accompanied by a number of Enetians who had been driven from Paphlagonia by a revolution, and after losing their king Pylaemenes before Troy were looking for a settlement and a leader. The combined force of Enetians and Trojans defeated the Euganei, who dwelt between the sea and the Alps and occupied their land. The place where they disembarked was called Troy, and the name was extended to the surrounding district; the whole nation were called Veneti. Similar misfortunes led to Aeneas becoming a wanderer, but the Fates were preparing a higher destiny for him. He first visited Macedonia, then was carried down to Sicily in quest of a settlement; from Sicily he directed his course to the Laurentian territory. Here, too, the name of Troy is found, and here the Trojans disembarked, and as their almost infinite wanderings had left them nothing but their arms and their ships, they began to plunder the neighbourhood. The Aborigines, who occupied the country, with their king Latinus at their head, came hastily together from the city and the country districts to repel the inroads of the strangers by force of arms.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 17.1 (José Lezama Lima)


Paradiso
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lezama Lima, José
Paradiso


Purchased online at queleer.com, an excellent source for Spanish language texts, in case you happen to be looking.

What began in the summer of 2008 as The Summer of Reading in Spanish, soon became The Year of Reading in Spanish, during which time I read only novels written in said language.

I continued to do read them after the year was up, but not exclusively. I felt like I was getting pretty good at it after reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño and Corazón tan blanco by Javier Marías, both of which are long and fairly dense, especially the latter.

Child's play, it turns out.

I think I made it through about fifty pages of this before I had to put it down. I even looked at the English translation and found that difficult.

Alas. Sometimes we fail.

from Paradiso

La mano de Baldovina separó los tules de la entrada del mosquitero, hurgó apretando suavemente como si fuese una esponja y no un niño de cinco años; abrió la camiseta y contempló todo el pecho del niño lleno de ronchas, de surcos de violenta coloración, y el pecho que se abultaba y se encogía como teniendo que hacer un potente esfuerzo para alcanzar un ritmo natural; abrió también la portañuela del ropón de dormir y vio los muslos, los pequeños testiculos llenos de ronchas que se iban agrandando, y al extender más aún las manos notó las piernas frías y temblorosas.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 17 (José Lezama Lima)

Lezama Lima, José
Noche Insular: Jardines Invisibles


This slim volume turns out to be a little treasure trove. I bought it at a poetry conference in Cuba in 2000. Inside I discovered several folded sheets of paper.

One is a folded yellow lined sheet with several bits of writing on it. On one side are what appear to be notes written back and forth between poets, possibly at one of the readings in the conference. One of the people is named Rito -- Rito Ramón Aroche, I'd guess.

I can't make out the other signature -- it sort of looks like "Pollo," or it could be "Rollo." Neither of those are names or nicknames of anyone I can think of. It could also something else altogether. I just can't tell from the writing. Rollo writes in black ball point. Rito in red felt tip.

On the back side of the page is a poem, signed as a translation by Jonathan Skinner, possibly a poem by one of the two poets in conversation on the other side. I checked in the José Lezama Lima book, but could find nothing to match it.

The other interesting bit appears to be a computer printout (it looks like dot-matrix!) of a short story called, "La Recompensa." It is unsigned, so I have no idea who wrote it or how it got there. Glancing at it briefly, I can see it has something to do with a Hindu ritual.

I wonder if I loaned this book to Jonathan at some point during or after the conference. That's the only way I can imagine these documents having ended up here.

from Noche Insular: Jardines Invisibles

Ah, Que Tú Escapes


Ah, que tú escapes en el instante
en el que ya habías alcanzado tu definición mejor.
Ah, mi amiga, que tú no quieras creer
las preguntas de esa estrella recién cortada,
que va mojando sus puntas en otra estrella enemiga.
Ah, si pudiera ser cierto que a la hora del baño,
cuando en un misma agua discursiva
se bañan el inmóvil paisaje y los animales más finos:
antílopes, serpientes de pasos breves, de pasos evaporados,
parecen entre sueños, sin ansias levantar
los más extensos caballos y el agua más recordada.
Ah, mi amiga, si en el puro mármol de los adioses
hubieras dejado la estatua que no podía acompañar,
pues el viento, el viento gracioso,
se extiende como un gato para dejarse definir.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 16 (Sinclair Lewis)


Arrowsmith
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lewis, Sinclair
Arrowsmith


I think I may have bought this at an old junk store on Main St. in Buffalo that used to sell books for a dollar. That's my best guess, anyhow. I think it's a Budget Rent-a-Car office now.

Which just stirred a memory.

My father worked in the leasing division of Ford Motor Company when I was growing up. It was kind of a horrible corporate job that required him to move fairly often in order to get promoted. He started in Detroit, where I was born, then got transferred to Los Gatos, CA when I was about two. He got transferred again to the DC area when I was seven-and-a-half. I think he worked there two more years before realizing that his rise up the corporate ladder had come to an end.

Around this time, he met a guy named Jules Lederer (I think that is the correct name and spelling, but I was only ten, so it could be off), who had founded Budget Rent-a-Car, which he'd sold off for a ton of money. In the early eighties, in the midst of the gas crisis, he decided to start another rental company that would appeal to cost-minded and, hopefully, also to the environmentally-minded among us. It would be called MPG Car Rental, and what made it unique was the requirement that the entire fleet get 25 MPG or better.

My father bought the DC franchise of the new company and opened his first location at 1522 "K" St. in Washington. He also rented an underground parking garage in the rear of the building, which he operated as fleet storage and also as a parking business. I am not sure the parking business, which was cash only, was ever a legal business. If it was, I don't think the government ever saw much of the cash.

Once the gas crisis had ended and prices had gone down, Americans decided they no longer cared as much about the environment as they did about driving large, comfortable, and increasingly luxurious cars. MPG Car Rental folded as a corporate entity, but my father kept the name. He eventually opened a location at National Airport and another at Dulles. Over time, he also bought franchise rights to USA Car Rental. I think he almost became a Dollar Car Rental.

Toward the end of the eighties, the rental business started to tank and my father sold his company -- actually, now that I think of it, he may have sold it to Dollar. I am not really sure. After that, he used his connections in the auto industry to do consulting work. He got paid nicely for this, but soon all of his friends in the industry began to retire and the consulting dried up along with their departures. He was basically unemployed for the last three years of his life.

I think this really depressed him. He began thinking about a second, retirement career. He looked into getting a degree in substance abuse counseling, which he'd already been doing on an unpaid basis for twenty-five years through AA. I remember several people I'd never seen before approaching me at his funeral to tell me my father had saved their lives.

I remember he met a guy in one of his classes at the local community college who was a gay, Argentinian dance instructor. Now, the fact that my father would even talk to this guy, given his many prejudices, was remarkable. The fact that they became friends even more so.

It turned out he was the dance instructor to Robert Duvall, who owned a big horse farm an hour or so outside DC. My father was a huge fan of Robert Duvall because of the film "The Great Santini," which he loved. He let this be known and lo and behold he found himself invited to a dance party in Robert Duvall's barn. Turned out he and Duvall even had a mutual friend, an actor my father had gone to high school with and who had minor roles in a lot of the great films of Duvall's generation.

I think that was one of the high points of his life.

from Arrowsmith

THE driver of the wagon swaying through forest and swamp of the Ohio wilderness was a ragged girl of fourteen. Her mother they had buried near the Monongahela - the girl herself had heaped with torn sods the grave beside the river of the beauti ful name. Her father lay shrinking with fever on the floor of the wagon-box, and about him played her brothers and sisters, dirty brats, tattered brats, hilarious brats. She halted at the fork in the grassy road, and the sick man quavered, Emmy, ye better turn down towards Cincinnati. If we could find your Uncle Ed, I guess hed take us in. Nobody aint going to take us in she said. Were going on jus long as we can. Going West Theys a whole lot of new things I aim to be seeing She cooked the supper, she put the children to bed, and sat by the fire, alone. That was the great-grandmother of Martin Arrowsmith

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 15 (Andrew Levy)

Levy, Andrew
Democracy Assemblages


I remember when I got this -- sometime in 1996 or 1997 -- but I don't remember where or how. I have a vague sense of having acquired it when I worked at the Segue Foundation in NYC, but that's about it. I love the name of the press: Innerer Klang.

'Klang' really should be spelled with a 'k', don't you think?

I met Andrew Levy a couple of times back in the days.

I have a memory of going out to Paul's Place on 2nd Ave. with Andrew and Dan Machlin and Bull Luoma after a reading. It was one of the first poetry readings I went to in New York, and Dan was sort of showing me around the poetry scene, so he let me tag along. We ate cheeseburgers. Good cheeseburgers. Damn good cheeseburgers.

I described the other time I met Andrew in an earlier post, which you can read here.

from Democracy Assemblages

Personnel Poem


About this gallop out of the nearby with urgency,
the ear a new edible, anthropophagy of "fierce convulse"
or paradise of obscurity, perhaps a choice circus of
until the debts are paid, the dissatisfactions
unruly, wild, non-philosophical, downright

Like Keep Americans Clean, the simplest experience
the litter of a real question, the expression
Criminal, as if the Contras are the President

anemone, Anamnesis...please don't be suspicious, the
mind's White House, all of these things, exists, is
getting married, entering the picture
unfelt, unheard, knuckle down and sleep well, says
the molecules of the star-light the first winds of
waiting upon assembling its oxygen

Ah, that that is reality, or mind, (bio-explosions) in paren-
Thesis, keeping oneself from keeping oneself from

Monday, December 6, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 14 (Rachel Levitzky)


Under the Sun
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Levitzky, Rachel
Under the Sun


Sent to me by the publisher, Futurepoem books, along with a lovely bookmark to match the lovely cover. I have to say that Futurepoem books are consistently some of the loveliest looking books on the poetry market. It's always nice to see such care taken in the design and making thereof.

I remember reading this when I first got it, but it's been so long that I can't remember how much of it I read. The lovely bookmark is of no help, as it sits in the middle of the table of contents. This could indicate I didn't read it all, but I have a recollection of it sitting on the bedstand next to the bed in our old house on Dearborn St., among a pile of other books.

Yep, there it is.

No sun to be under here in Buffalo today, just a few inches of freshly fallen snow, gray skies, cold.

from Under the Sun

Without a Trace


They keep
the emotions

quiet, so the animals
will feel less alone.

[Tina Darragh]

It's so sad
to be angry):/

Anger something
difficult to eat.

Everything is framed by two.
A couple formed by the shapes of their mouths.
Sucking sugar.
Everyone in the class knows what they want.
As two.
A living relic garden.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 13.1 (Claude Lévi-Strauss)


Totemism
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lévi-Strauss, Claude
Totemism


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books, I think. There's a part of me the has a vague, very vague memory, of having purchased this at St. Mark's Books.

Anyhow, I bought it while I was in my Freud phase in 1999. I had just finished reading Totem and Taboo and I thought to myself that this was the obvious follow-up.

Apparently, I made it to page 58 or 59. My book mark is still there. Actually, it is not a book mark it is a movie stub. I went to a $4.75 matinee showing of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" at noon on June 6, 1999. It played in Auditorium 14.

I'll bet I went alone. I spent almost that whole summer alone -- going to movies, taking walks over to LaSalle park and going to the gym. I would sit on a bench at the park looking out on Lake Erie, at just the point it feeds into the Niagara River, and I would read Freud and Nietszche. I did this every day. all summer. I hardly spoke to anyone. I was depressed, I think.

Yes, I'd say I was.

from page 58 of Totemism:

The problem is therefore doubly turned upside down: totemism is no longer a cultural phenomenon but "the result of natural conditions." By its origin and its manifestations it belongs to biology and psychology, not to anthropology. The question is no longer to know why totemism exists where it existis, and in different forms the observation, description and analysis of which offer no more than a secondary interest. The only question which presents itself--but does it?--is to understand why it does not exist everywhere...

Let us be careful not to imagine that totemism has vanished like a cloud at the tap of a fairy wand--

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 13 (Claude Lévi-Strauss)


The Jealous Potter
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lévi-Strauss, Claude
The Jealous Potter


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. I bought this a long time ago. I think it was toward the beginning of grad school, so probably 1998 or 9.

I think I just bought it at random because I'd been hearing Lévi-Strauss's name bandied about in seminars and in a a lot of the theory I was reading at the time. I don't recall whether I read it all or not. I feel like I read a few chapters and then moved on to something else.

It's hard to remember a lot of the reading I did in grad school because I was constantly reading five books at the same time, rarely finishing any of them. That's changed quite a bit, but mostly because my reading habits have changed.

For the past five years, most of my reading has been fiction, which I tend to read cover to cover, unless I get bored. Prior to that, for probably ten years, I read poetry and philosophy almost exclusively. I still do read lots of poetry, but the philosophy reading has been on the wane.

This probably has to do with the fact that most of my reading occurs late at night, just before bed, which is about the worst time in the world to read philosophy. Philosophy is best read after the first four or five cups of coffee, mid-morning, for about sixty minutes, followed by some light exercise, a hearty meal and a nap.

from The Jealous Potter

Returning by ship from the United States in 1947, I sometimes conversed on the promenade deck with a French orchestra conductor who had just given a series of concerts in New York. One day he told me that in the course of his career he had observed that the personality of a musician is often in harmony with the one evoked by the timbre and technique of his instrument; to get along well with his orchestra, a conductor has to take that into account. Thus, he added, in whatever country he might be, he could expect the oboist to be prim and touchy the trombonist to be expansive, jovial, and good-natured.

I am always struck by statements that establish a link between realms otherwise unlikely to be associated. Popular though has always strived to discover such analogies--a mental activity in which we will recognize the impulse of myth creation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 12 (Emmanuel Levinas)

Levinas, Emmanuel
Of God Who Comes to Mind


Purchased at Talking Leaves Books in 2005, according to the sticker.

I must have bought this around the time I was reading heavily in Paul Celan and Heidegger, as I was then thinking a lot about being, which, being to Catholicism born as I am, inevitably leads to thoughts of the god I don't believe in.

It's a very strange feedback loop.

I am not sure I read all of it. I seem to have a vague recollection of reading it at our last house, late at night, in bed, and of struggling to understand such dense writing at such a time of night, when my mind is least fresh.

I must have processed some of it in preparation for the writing of "The God Poem," probably the most interesting piece of writing I've done (in my humble opinion). You can read it in the ixnay reader by clicking here (it's the last poem in the issue, so scroll all the way down).

from Of God Who Comes to Mind

1. "Not to philosophize is still to philosophize." The philosophical discourse of the West asserts the amplitude of an all-inclusiveness (englobement) or an ultimate comprehension. It compels every other discourse to justify itself before philosophy.

Rational theology accepts this vassalage. If, for the benefit of religion, it pulls out some domain over which the supervision (contrôle) of philosophy is not exercised, then this domain shall have been, on good grounds, recognized as philosophically unverifiable.