Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Mostly not writing my words here, too concern’d with making chords, little daily piles of images and words. Borrow’d. Stack’d conglomerate metaphors. Items in a minor viscosity. Historia copulatoriae. Combo ruts.

Empty-head’d and august August (Surely, tu blagues.) leading to what? Shrill tangents of late October? I refuse to mimic Montaigne. « Que sais-je » est un piège. Is a sledge. Hammers unpardonably at . . .

The twenty-first century barges in en forme de a telephonickal recording ascertaining with certainty that I have glean’d off big hazard a prize: two free airline tickets. Round. Trip. There is only one of me. There is only my entire brainpan (unreachable) to inhabit, or foot-storm with my Minolta (a reference that shows my age). And if I ever got there (fat chance, gros hazard), I would not be likely to return. And then itemizer number one is interrupt’d by itemizer number two who says (familiarly) “John, were you pleased with the politesse of itemizer number one?” And I say: “Yes, yes, of course, because itemizer number one is a recording!” Downhill après.

Maybe the dirty word of contemporary American poetics is not syntax. Maybe it’s vocabulary. Anybody’ll (can, does) mix things up. “Crazy, man.” Who, though, ’s got the words that’ll fetch the gods. Pasty-faced and bloat’d, the dying Jack Spicer didn’t say “My syntax did this to me,” did he?


Sontag (The Volcano Lover): Goethe call’d the slabby perch whence he saw Vesuvius’s entrails heave “the lip of an enormous mouth,” and determined later that the sight was “neither instructive nor agreeable.”

“. . . the collector, like the impostor, has no existence unless he goes public, unless he shows what he is or has decided to be. Unless he puts his passions on display.”

“. . . unslakeable . . .”

“It is the function of art to conceal the difficulties of its execution.” (Sontag?)

“. . . the notorious lachrymose novel about the lovelorn egotist who shoots himself . . .” (The Sorrows of Young Werther, “notorious lachrymose” Goethe, who never witness’d a self-transformation he didn’t record, writ, aged twenty-four.)

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s painting of Emma H. as Ariadne, treacherous Theseus (whom she rescue’d) sailing off into the distance, the speck! Vigée-Lebrun: “I am also painting a very beautiful woman, Mrs. Hart, who is a friend of the English ambassador. In a large painting I have made her into a cheerful Ariadne, her face lending itself to this choice.” In a letter to Mme du Barry, 2 July 1790.

And Vigée-Lebrun’s Emma Hamilton as Bacchante.


An obituary post’d by cris cheek to the UKPOETRY list led me to Ian Breakwell’s Diary 1964-1985:
12.2.1974 London: Smithfield Market

A man strides out of the main entrance of the meat market, wearing a pair of pig’s ears fastened to his head; he walks across to his parked car, whistling loudly.

24. 2.1974 Leeds

A man in a new overcoat and an astrakhan hat, the weekend shopping in his arms, walking along the pavement barking loudly like a dog.

17.3.1974 7.25 p.m. Leeds-London train

The woman in the corner seat wears a green velvet coat trimmed with imitation fur, and knee-length maroon suede boots. She falls asleep, sinking into the corner of the seat. Her red velvet skirt slides up around her thighs; her mouth falls open and is reflected in the window, superimposed on the night landscape outside. The train runs parallel with a motorway: cars and lorries rush into her mouth, their headlights on full. She wakes up, coughing.
Introduced by Nick Kimberley (author, too, of the obituary):
The diary can be seen as a latterday extension of the work of Mass Observation, that collection of artist-anthropologists who set out in the late 1930s to document a ‘real’ Britain by observing such ‘mass’ phenomena as ‘Behaviour of people at war memorials, shouts and gestures of motorists, funerals and undertakers, the private lives of midwives’, etc.
Here politics is approached tangentially, revealing itself in a phrase let slip, a chance encounter. Yet the purpose of the diary is wholly political, in the same way that the surrealists’ project of permanent revolution took for granted that a transformation of the imagination would equally change society. The diary simultaneously demystifies the human condition, and reinvests it with mystery: there is a reality parallel to the one we know.
What I am reminded of: Katie Degentesh’s carefully observed writings here. Also inform’d by politics. The slightly (and moreso) askew city.

Ian Breakwell’s “Study For The Last Gasp,” 1987, mixed media collage.
William Shakespeare:
How loud howling wolves arouse the jades,
That drag the tragic melancholy night.
James Thomson:
But absent, what fantastick woes arous’d
Rage in each thought, by restless musing fed,
Chill the warm cheek, and blast the bloom of life.