Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aimless Reading: The O's, Part 5.12 (Charles Olson)

Boer, Charles
Charles Olson in Connecticut

I think I bought this at Talking Leaves Books.

I remember that reading this book made me feel kind of sad. It depicts Olson final days before he succumbs to cancer, so his premature death hovers over every word in the book. But the part that made sad was the way Boer describes Olson's profound loneliness and alienation. Here was a man profoundly alone with his thoughts, who lacked the ability to ever turn them off. The scenes in which Olson calls Boer in the middle of the night, or shows up at his house and then talks for two, four six, ten, twelve eighteen hours at a time at once paint a portrait of a brilliant mind at work and of a man whose connection to the outside world and to other human beings in it is tenuous at best. One senses he knew this, too, but even so could not turn off his thought process. It's written as a direct address to the poet, which makes this all the more poignant.

from Charles Olson in Connecticut

You would sit sometimes in the solarium on the twelfth floor, looking out at it all, pleasureless. The hospital, at East 68th street, had an extraordinary view of Ziggurat Manhattan, especially at night, the city's billion-dollar neon noise seeming a vast silent movie in the enforced peace of the solarium. How distant was Gloucester, I thought, where Maximus knew most men on the street by first name, knew each eighteenth century house as few men know their own, knew evening's shriek of hungry coastal birds as signal and hearkening to his own great appetite. Gloucester was another land, another time, and no man could be Maximus to New York.


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pointy said...

it's wierd, in the film "polis is this charles olson and the persistence of place" - his friend says something to the effect of his missing Gloucester and Olson says something like "I don't care about Gloucester - the place is not important" - something like that, when he is close to death