Thursday, June 22, 2006

Things to think about...

Because I'm still chewing on a couple of blog entries I don't think are really complete/coherent enough to post (writer's block in all quarters, I fear), I'll post instead some things I'm thinking about while I'm supposed to be writing papers. I know -- terrible of me to delay even further the delayed. But I'm finding my writing of late to be a bit like those stars you can't quite see when you look straight at them -- it's like being afraid to pursue things too intently. If I can just see the ideas from a bit of a different angle, coming at it slant-wise, perhaps, it'll all resolve into focus and I'll see the things that I can't see head on. Thus there must be a logic to my current contemplation, but I've yet to figure out what it is:

1. Ron Silliman's current blogs about Proprioception, by Charles Olson. I'm not familiar with the work...but it's a fascinating discussion. Particularly check out the June 20 section, which talks about a section called "GRAMMAR -- a book". And there's some Old English in it.

2. bp Nichol's The Martyrology. There are a thousand reasons I became fascinated with Nichol and his work -- however, the most important for me is the way he plays with words in a game that oscillates between lighthearted fun and shocking gravity in a mere moment. Words are saints (you'll see what I mean), and saints become mere words, like Saint And, who was "made a saint / for lack of any other way of praising you." An excerpt, from book II:

as there are words i haven't written
things i haven't seen
so this poem continues
a kind of despair takes over
the poem is written in spite of

all the words i once believed were saints
language the holy place of consecration
gradually took flesh
becoming real

scraptures behind me
i am written free
so many people saying to me they do not understand
the poem they can't get into
i misplace it three times

this is not a spell
it is an act of desperation
the poem dictated to me by another will
a kind of being writing is
opposite myself i recognize these hands
smash the keys in
the necessary assertion of reality...

It's more than a bit post-modern, of course -- perhaps too much so to draw comparisons, but there seems to be in some kind of echo with Byron here, in his Childe Harold, Canto III, with his wish for "words which are things." I find the "continuity" of literary preoccupations in these lines (I use the quotes because I know there technically isn't one) astounding. Something happens in these "scraptures" of lines where dream and reality can meet, albeit briefly, perhaps a kind of place where "goodness is no name, and happiness no dream." A place where one can admit that "there are no myths we have not created / ripped whole from our lived long days" without that being the end. I'm not sure that Nichol thought that was possible -- but then again, "a kind of being writing is." However, I'm often accused of being too romantic about these things. I have a Stoppard quote for that, but I'll spare you (hint: from The Real Thing and dreadfully out of context).

3. The last lines of the Metamorphoses. It's readily available on Perseus. I've been reading through some of the stuff in the Mandelbaum collection and keeps reminding me how much I adore Ovid...and I just like the sound of it all in the latin:

parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennis
astra ferar, nomenque erit indelebile nostrum,
quaque patet domitis Romana potentia terris,
ore legar populi, perque omnia saecula fama,
siquid habent veri vatum praesagia, vivam.

Above the stars, indeed.

4. This article. Asking the age old question, "Can Humanists Talk to Postmodernists?" A question it seems I'll be asking myself my whole career. There must be a way, right?

Edit, and mere moments after the original post...
5. This post over at JJC's blog -- and the conversation that's coming out of it.

Ok, back to work with me.