Monday, September 12, 2005

A Name

“The imbalances stalking us show up everywhere, but I think the most horrible one is the imbalance between the names of things and the things themselves. Things have started slipping out of their names like peas from a dry pod. So far names had clung close to things in an inseparable whole, just as the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen formed the molecule of water. And when man managed to separate the hydrogen atoms from the oxygen atoms, incredible energy was released. Imagine that energy multiplied a million times and you’ll get an idea what will befall us when names are finally separated from things. I think there will be no explosion, but rather something much more horrid. I will not give it a name for the time being. Because the names create the named.

We must talk only in allegories.”


“I knew that different flowers opened up at different times of the day. I spent two years searching botanical books and meadows; I roamed the fields for days on end. I wanted to find the appropriate flowers and, planting them in a circle, to create a natural clock. A clock with a natural mechanism. Asked what the time was, people would no loner answer ‘3 P.M.’ but ‘tulip.’ I was proud of my idea. And then, two days before the planting of the flowers I had already collected, I happened, just happened to read in the trivia section of a newspaper the following note: ‘Carl Linnaeus, the father of botany, knowing the precision of botanical cycles, planted in the sections of a circle flowers that opened up at specific times of the day.’”


“If you want to write a Natural Novel, you must watch the visible world closely. You must find resemblances. Each autumn the cabbages mock the raised-collar style from the time of Marie Antoinette. Or Marie Antoinette had an eye for cabbages. Who can say whether history is influenced by botany or vice versa? The Novel of Natural History makes no such distinctions. Yesterday the market was full of decapitated Antoinettes.”

Georgi Gospodinov, trans. Zornitsa Hristova, Natural Novel (Dalkey Archive, 2005)


Thumbing through the new Fence and spying the first line of Jorie Graham’s “Disenchantment,” thinking it reads:
I shit my self . . .
(For “shift.”)