Saturday, October 08, 2005

Places Everyone!

A human pyramid crashes, on a riverbank in Mirpur, 1994.


“The twenty-first century (ceinture, F., belt, see cinch) will be poetickal, or not be at all.”

“A century of anxiety and handwringing . . . over words!”

“Henceforth, thin clad, in rain.

In Johnson’s Dictionary: “Buggery, penis, and shit were excluded, though all were common.”


Michael Hofmann, thinking aloud through reasons he translates (German, mostly Joseph Roth, also the terrific Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl, written by Hofmann’s father, Gert):
I don’t really know what it is. An expression of my fealty to German? Or to prose? Something Macchiavellian, a practical identification of a type of work that’s always there to do, and that’s endlessly portable? Or something altogether more sinister: a kind of driven self-obliteration? . . . Perhaps poetry, at my rate of output, just doesn’t seem enough to show for a life. “A slim bundle of dead writs,” Ian Hamilton puts it . . .

Hofmann points out a droll (Pelham Grenville) Wodehousian warning: “. . . what P. G. Wodehouse called ‘the series habit’—which, along with the growing of side whiskers, he claimed to find the besetting danger to the writer . . . If you’ve done five, you do a sixth.” (Or, if you’ve done A, you do B . . .)

Hofmann’s identification with James Schuyler.


Typo: “poutput” for “output”


The negative as human invention, and the predominance of irony. Kenneth Burke: “To use [words] properly, we must know that they are not the things they stand for . . . since language is extended by metaphor which gradually becomes the kind of dead metaphor we call abstraction, we must know that metaphor is not literal . . . we cannot use language maturely until we are spontaneously at home in irony.