Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I keep thinking about Charles Olson. The Charles Olson of the letters (“A Modern Correspondence” it is identify’d subtitularly) to Frances Boldereff. (He calls her “my trout, my bream” and he calls her “my motz”) and says (postmark’d 14 April 1950): “i hold, that is what i am doing, holding, baby (there is an elephant at the zoo—they have such a nervous system!—who, in a rhythm so iterative as to be erotic, moves back and forth in a space of three feet (all day and nights, the keeper tells me) her eye white and mad, with occasional fierce snorts of air from her short indian trunk, her lovely fore legs lifted and placed down as in a dance unborn, nature’s most animate dance: grass blades made animal)”

And later (Boldereff’d ask’d for “some physical thing from near you—some undershirt or handkerchief or tie or something”): “you must know, i hate the literary       And this letter, any, is when it is to you, the very other thing       yet word, words—no, you know they are not words; all i mean to do is to say with them, these are words which are acts, acts of loving, with no discrepancy between word and act       my letters are undershirts for yr pillow, grave one”

Reading “at” Richard Hell’s Godlike, for the milieu, for the roman à clef-ishness thrills and guesses. Lines like: “The magic of intensest poetry-snot penetrating literature”

Or: “A little lithium and I’m a goddamn solid citizen.”

Or dribbles of a collaborative poem by T. and narrator Paul:
and turn, and turning turn and turning turn
ing turn until like Turing I’m a bird on
a bicycle suicided by turds.
Hip idiocy and glee. Or I think (reading about T. loading up a knapsack with “a Bill Knott, a Borges, a Frank O’Hara, David Shapiro’s skinny little January, and Ron Padgett’s Great Balls of Fire): is that “detail” or “brand-naming”? What’s the difference between that and, say, Anne Tyler talking about Marimekko, or Danielle Steele about Gucci?

Walter Benjamin (in a fragment “associated with the composition of “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” call’d “Theory of Distraction”):
Theory of distraction
Attempt to determine the effect of the work of art once its power of consecration has been eliminated
. . .
Fashion is an indispensable factor in the acceleration of the process of becoming worn out
. . .
Just as the art of the Greeks was geared toward lasting, so the art of the present is geared toward becoming worn out
. . .
Art comes into contact with the commodity; the commodity comes into contact with art

My intent (imaginary) leans toward pouring over large books whilst seat’d at the wooden table. My subterfuge (indolence) is to flop supine on the pallet and wave a tiny book like a wand above me. Charles Olson’s Maximus or T. J. Clark’s Farewell to an Idea versus Jonathan Lethem’s Amnesia Moon.


Kate Greenstreet hied off a copy of Learning the Language my way. Trying to figure out how, exactly, she makes ordinary (opposed to “flambuoyant” or “pyrotechnickal”) language, and ordinary “event” chime out so gorgeously with mysterious forces. In the end of a piece call’d “Bridge”:
Where there is despair
“Since the first log fell across water”
it happened like this:

“Doesn’t anybody have the real potato salad?” Wandering from one
(imaginary) picnic table to the next. The impulse to get under the
table. The answer, in a way, is yes.