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Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary

Volume 8

Editor-in-Chief Nicola Masciandaro (Brooklyn College, City University of New York). Co-Editors Ryan Dobran (Queens College, University of Cambridge). Karl Steel (Brooklyn College, City University of New York). International Editorial Board Nadia Altschul (Johns Hopkins University). Stephen A. Barney (University of California, Irvine). Erik Butler (Emory University). Mary Ann Caws (The Graduate Center, City University of New York). Alan Clinton (University of Miami). Andrew Galloway (Cornell University) David Greetham (The Graduate Center, City University of New York). Bruno Gulli (Long Island University). Daniel Heller-Roazen (Princeton University). Jason Houston (University of Oklahoma). Eileen A. Joy (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville). Ed Keller (Parsons, The New School for Design). Anna Kosowska (Miami University of Ohio). Erin Labbie (Bowling Green State University). Carsten Madsen (Aarhus University). Sean McCarthy (Lehman College, City University of New York). Reza Negarestani (Independent Scholar). Michael O Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin). Daniel C. Remein (New York University). Sherry Roush (Penn State University). Michael Sargent (Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York). Michael Stone-Richards (College for Creative Studies). Eugene Thacker (The New School). Evelyn Tribble (University of Otago). Frans van Liere (Calvin College). Jess Rodrguez-Velasco (Columbia University). Robert Viscusi (Brooklyn College, City University of New York). Valerie Michelle Wilhite (Miami University of Ohio). Scott Wilson (Lancaster University). Yoshihisa Yamamoto (Chiba University).

GLOSSATOR
VOLUME 8

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ISSN 1942-3381 (online) ISSN 2152-1506 (print) ISBN-13: 978-1493673933 ISBN-10: 1493673939 COPYRIGHT NOTICE This work is Open Access, a print version of the online open-access journal Glossator (http://glossator.org). It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/). Nicola Masciandaro, Editor Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary Department of English Brooklyn College, The City University of New York 2900 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11210 glossatori@gmail.com Cover image: Public domain image. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PSM_V04_D272_Port_natal_pyt hon.jpg

Glossator 8 (2013) CONTENTS Michael Cisco KAFKAS ZURAU APHORISMS 1

Thomas Day SENSUOUS AND SCHOLARLY READING IN KEATSS ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMANS HOMER 115 Ian Heames NOTES TO STEPHEN RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES (1982) 123

Sam Ladkin ORNATE AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF: A COMPARATIVE COMMENTARY ON FRANK OHARAS IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS AND TO HELL WITH IT, INCORPORATING A SUBSTANTIAL GLOSS ON THE SERPENT IN THE POETRY OF PAUL VALRY, AND A 189 THEORETICAL EXCURSUS ON ORNATE POETICS. Richard Parker ON IN MEMORY OF YOUR OCCULT CONVOLUTIONS 317

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Michael Cisco

N UMBER ONE Der wahre Weg geht ber ein Seil, das nicht in der Hhe gespannt ist, sondern knapp ber dem Boden. Es scheint mehr bestimmt stolpern zu 1 machen, als begangen zu werden. The true way is along a rope that is not spanned high in the air, but only just above the ground. It seems intended more to cause stumbling than to be walked along. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The true path is along a rope, not a rope suspended way up in the air, but rather only just over the ground. It seems more like a tripwire than a tightrope. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Interpreting aphorisms is stupid because you can t exhaust their meaning and reducing them to meanings destroys them. They are aphorisms because they make meaning by standing apart

Kafka extracted these aphorisms himself, from journals he wrote between 1917 and 1919. The order and numbering are Kafkas. Eight of the aphorisms were written later, in 1920 or so, and do not occur in the original notebooks. Kafka took up residence with his sister Ottla in Zurau, a small town in northern Bohemia, shortly after being diagnosed with tuberculosis in early September, 1917. It seems likely most of the aphorisms were composed at Zurau, even though some material does originate later. By all accounts, this sojourn of eight months was the happiest period in Kafkas life. Sources: The Zurau Aphorisms, trans. Geoffrey Brock & Michael Hofmann (New York: Schocken, 2006); The Blue Octavo Notebooks, ed. Max Brod, trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins (Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 1991).

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and intimating a context, and that only to the extent as is necessary for them to be at all intelligible. But refusing to interpret aphorisms is stupid too, because this is to refuse to read them at all. Aphorisms have to be played like pieces of music. In this case, the point seems to be that there s a way to know whether or not you are on the true path, whatever that is supposed to be or wherever its supposed to be leading you. If the pathway feels shaky, its the right one. Why is the rope low? If it where high, you would have to stay on it, whereas a low rope you can walk away from whenever you like or, more importantly, by an oversight. You can also blunder over the true way by oversight, tripping and falling over it rather than from it. Perhaps the true way is often misperceived as an obstacle? Or do people trip over it because theyre looking for it in the wrong place, up high? N UMBER TWO Alle menschlichen Fehler sind Ungeduld, ein vorzeitiges Abbrechen des Methodischen, ein scheinbares Einpfhlen der scheinbaren Sache. All human errors are impatience, the premature breaking off of what is methodical, an apparent fencing in of the apparent thing. [Kaiser/Wilkins] All human errors stem from impatience, a premature breaking off of a methodical approach, an ostensible pinning down of an ostensible object. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Impatience is the only cause of human error. This means no human error cannot ultimately be traced back to anything but impatience. Impatience is a topic Kafka returns to throughout the aphorisms. Why be impatient? It suggests the desire to be done and to move on is greater than the desire for the correct result; and that, as a method becomes more thorough, and therefore presumably more accurate, it becomes correspondingly more exasperating to use. Method is designed to exhaust the possibilities, to miss nothing; taking absolutely everything into account is the key to

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reasonable planning and understanding, and at the same time its a maddening exercise in frustration. You begin to realize people dont use words like exhaust just by chance when they talk about this. But then, doesnt the thinker care at all about the result? He must, and yet he seems too content to plod methodically onunless of course he really only loves the method, and is disinclined to set much stock in results. Ostensible objectsthey may be illusory or they may be able to be constituted in a variety of ways: the flower and the bee may be two objects from one point of view and only one object from another. It isnt just a matter of labelling an object, but of distinguishing the boundaries of each object. Kafka seems preoccupied with methodical procedures, especially with all the ways they can go wrong, but nothing ends. The error isnt an end nor does it finish anything, but it marks the point in the development of a line of inquiry beyond which nothing useful can be expected. The method defines what constitutes an error, but in general, error is abandoning method (usually without noticing, like falling off the rope in Number One). But how well does the method do when it comes to providing a satisfactory notion of success? The method is designed to identify and avoid error, and it may be that it can only define success in terms of scarcity of error; that minimization of error (accuracy) is equivalent to truth is taken for granted. Error is breaking off method prematurely, but how do you know when to break off method maturely? Error arises when one breaks off method prematurely, because this leads to an inessential understanding based on mere appearances. One settles for what seems to be true, and then reasons from that appearance. Kafkas fiction is replete with examples of this. From this, we may infer that truth, for Kafka, is less a result and more a way of remaining true, by patient application of method. N UMBER THREE Es gibt zwei menschliche Hauptsnden, aus welchen sich alle andern ableiten: Ungeduld und Lssigkeit. Wegen der Ungeduld sind sie aus dem

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Paradiese vertrieben worden, wegen der Lssigkeit kehren sie nicht zurck. Vielleicht aber gibt es nur eine Hauptsnde: die Ungeduld. Wegen der Ungeduld sind sie vertrieben worden, wegen der Ungeduld kehren sie nicht zurck. There are two main human sins, from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. It was because of impatience that they were expelled from paradise; it is because of indolence that they do not return. Yet perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience. Because of impatience they were expelled, because of impatience they do not return. [Kaiser/Wilkins] There are two cardinal human vices, from which all the others derive their being: impatience and carelessness. Impatience got people evicted from Paradise; carelessness kept them from making their way back there. Or perhaps there is only one cardinal vice: impatience. Impatience got people evicted, and impatience kept them from making their way back. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kafka cancelled this aphorism, perhaps in favor of Number Two, which seems to be an extension of the line of reasoning evident here. Impatience means being unwilling to wait, but the fruit of the tree of knowledge wasnt prohibited for a limited time only; it was forbidden forever and altogether, so how is the Fall a crime of impatience? If we assume the Fall was a crime of impatience, wouldnt we also have to assume that Adam and Eve mistook Gods permanent ban for a temporary delay? If so, then that mistake sets up the impatience which leads to the transgression, making that confusion, rather than the act of disobedience, the origin of sin. However, it is for the disobedience they were punished, unless we assume that the confusion is included somehow in the punishment as well, even if it isnt mentioned. This doesnt seem to be Kafkas point, so perhaps he cancelled this aphorism not only because of the superfluity of indolence to his idea, but also because the Fall is out of place in it as well. Perhaps, by impatience, Kafka means taking the rules too lightly. Adam and Eve had only one rule. You would think they could have remembered it. But, if you have to live with many rules, while you may not remember them all in particular, you are

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constantly aware of the existence of rules, and so you might develop a reflex causing you to check for a rule before undertaking certain kinds of actions. Someone with only one rule to follow doesnt really live according to rule in the usual sense, and might well be more likely to forget it than someone bound by many rules. In the second aphorism, impatience is failure to follow method. Methods are caught in a double bind; on the one hand, they have to take all relevant possibilities into account, while, on the other hand, in order to function, they have to reach a conclusion that isnt arbitrary. Where the possibilities are very numerous, it becomes more and more difficult not to set an arbitrary end to methodical operations. Thengoing back. This means that the expulsion from paradise is not permanent. But, from identifying impatience as the main, the only, human sin, it doesn t follow necessarily that patience will restore paradise. In this aphorism, Kafka only says that impatience and paradise are mutually exclusive. The first aphorism speaks of a true way; if that isnt also the way back, I dont see what else it could be. Perhaps the first aphorism explains that patience is the true way, the true way back; this would make going back the non-arbitrary result of the method, unless patience itself is paradise. Paradise is not endless procedure, unless paradise is the trial. Is Bloch patient? Or is he no longer waiting for anything? Is faith just waiting? Is patience possible where there is no anticipation of a result? Or perhaps patience is only the refusal to act, despite a strong impatience. N UMBER F OUR Viele Schatten der Abgeschiedenen beschftigen sich nur damit, die Fluten des Totenflusses zu belecken, weil er von uns herkommt und noch den salzigen Geschmack unserer Meere hat. Vor Ekel strubt sich dann der Flu, nimmt eine rcklufige Strmung und schwemmt die Toten ins Leben zurck. Sie aber sind glcklich, singen Danklieder und streicheln den Emprten. Many shades of the departed are occupied solely in licking at the waves of the river of death because it flows from our direction and still has the salty taste of our seas. Then the river rears back in disgust, the current flows the opposite way and brings the dead

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drifting back into life. But they are happy, sing songs of thanksgiving, and stroke the indignant waters. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Many of the shades of the departed busy themselves entirely with lapping at the waters of the Acheron, because it comes from us and still carries the salt tang of our seas. This causes the river to coil with revulsion, and even to reverse its course, and so to wash the dead back to life. they are perfectly happy, and sing choruses of gratitude, and caress the indignant river. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This one I find both especially troubling and especially mystifying. The river of death comes from us. It would not be inconsistent with what seems to me to be the tenor of Kafka s thinking to think of mourning and grief as a way of driving the dead off and emphasizing the barrier between life and death, for all that they appear to originate in a desire to avoid a separation. One the one hand, no one wants to be separated from the lost one, but retaining the corpse can only increasingly underscore the loss; the body has to be put away in order to set the memory free for safekeeping. The topic of the aphorism seems specifically to be the nature of the difference between alive and dead. Im reluctant to think of the river as death itself because it seems to be only a part or element of death. Hofmann translates Totenfluss as Acheron; the underworld has rivers, or one crosses rivers to reach it, but the underworld is not just a river. The barrier between life and death is not hard in all places; in some ways the barrier is hard, like the surface of the earth between the domain of mortals and the classical underworld. In other ways, however, the barrier is soft, more like water, in that someone believed dead for one or another reason, absence or catalepsy, may turn out to be alive after all. People frequently continue to see their lost ones, owing to a kind of psychological persistence of vision. We have the avidity of the dead, the bathetic miracle of their restoration, a kind of stunt, and the indignation and disgust of the river. The river carries the dead away from life, no matter how people may cling to the dead; then it carries the dead back again, not in response to the petitions of the living, but in disgust and indignation.

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The river seems to be giving the dead what they want, but their activity seems mindless. Only the reservation that many, but not all, engage in licking the river suggests otherwise, and the suggestion seems unimportant to me. If the river is giving the dead what they want, they receive it not because they deserve it, but because the river is exasperated with them and it rejects them in a spasm of impatience. The yearning of the dead for life is unseemly. I don t think this is because Kafka thinks it is unseemly to love life, but only to cling to half-measures, the dead licking the river for the taste of life, and so its better to restore them to life entire. N UMBER F IVE Von einem gewissen Punkt an gibt es keine Rckkehr mehr. Dieser Punkt ist zu erreichen. Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached. [Kaiser/Wilkins] From a certain point on, there is no more turning back. That is the point that must be reached. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Hofmann makes the second sentence a distinct imperitive, while Kaiser/Wilkins allows for the idea that this point is not stumbled across, that it has to be reached, which might mean it will not come to you. This is certainly one of the most important and well-known of the aphorisms. It is interesting to think of this as an extension of the previous aphorism; it brings to mind those other dead, not included among the many, who do not lap at the river of life and are not brought back ... rcklufige Strmung und schwemmt die Toten ins Leben zurck ... the particle rck repeats here and in Rckkehr above. Perhaps theyve reached that point. In the third aphorism, Kafka writes that mankind is not allowed to go back to paradise, kehren sie nicht zurck. This split verb is the same noun as is employed above: Rckkehr. The point of no return is not passed, but only reached. Theres no indication that one goes on past this point, but the point is not reached if one can still go back. From one point of view, this

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point could be like the South Pole; leaving in any direction one goes North. Leaving this point in any direction would be going back, which would mean one must remain. On the other hand, it might be possible simply to leave that point without going back. Going back is possible up to this point, but not beyond. It may be the moment of unbreakable commitment, but I think the meaning is less occasional and more fundamental to experience than that. He may be discussing the genesis of the present moment as an irreducible difference from the past. In that case, this would be the moment the new appears, or a sort of natural selection. So the path would be like Herakleitos river, with an added imperitive and the possibility of not quite managing to reach this becoming. N UMBER S IX Der entscheidende Augenblick der menschlichen Entwicklung ist immerwhrend. Darum sind die revolutionren geistigen Bewegungen, welche alles Frhere fr nichtig erklren, im Recht, denn es ist noch nichts geschehen. The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual. That is why the revolutionary spiritual movements that declare all former things worthless are in the right, for nothing has yet happened. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The decisive moment of human development is continually at hand. This is why those movements of revolutionary thought that declare everything preceding to be an irrelevance are correct because as yet nothing has happened. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The stinger is in the last clause, which seems to deflate everything that comes before it. However, the spirit of the aphorism is plainly in sympathy with revolution, so that deflation doesnt seem to be the intended effect. I think this is a statement of the messianic point of view; everything is preparatory to the arrival of the judgement, which is not happening yet, but which might happen at any moment. If the decision hasnt come yet, it is not because the moment has been withheld. It is always the right time for the decision. Time never resists or impedes it.

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If human error is always impatience, and impatience is understood to mean acting prematurely, thenassuming that the ideas of one aphorism are meant to carry over into another (and we shouldnt assume that, because it shouldnt be taken for granted that Kafka had a system in mind)that would mean human error is the attempt to act decisively, or simply stated, to act. This would mean all human activity is error. What about animal activity? Many of Kafkas characters are animals, and their activity seems no less erroneous, so it doesn t seem that his choice of animal characters should be considered an escape from error. If all activity is error, and action is unavoidable, then error is unavoidable. I dont think this is Kafkas meaning. The real crux of this aphorism is Kafkas affirmation of the idea that the past is not relevant where change is concerned. The moment in which things change is now. What is called the routine operation of things is not change but the circulation of a set of familiar variables from a closed repetory. Change is the appearance of a new variable, and nothing new can arise merely by the extension or rearrangement of the old. N UMBER S EVEN Eines der wirksamsten Verfhrungsmittel des Bsen ist die Aufforderung zum Kampf. One of the most effective means of seduction that Evil has is the challenge to struggle. [Kaiser/Wilkins] One of the most effective seductions of Evil is the call to struggle. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The Hofmann translation appends the eighth aphorism, It is like the struggle with women, which ends up in bed, to the seventh, but I want to look at the seventh alone. It is interesting to note that both translators chose to retain the capitalization of Evil. The struggle with evil, the idea that evil must be struggled with, is part of its seduction. The image of the good that this implies is that of effortless innocence. It does not seem that Kafka believes one can become innocent, at least, not by any effort with

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innocence for a goal. His protagonists struggle with the Court and the Castle, but they invent much of the struggle, and much of it is a matter of opinion, or point of view. This may be why so much of Kafkas fiction describes a pantomime of conflict by a solitary figure. Struggle could be a kind of sloth: the struggle appears to act or to work, but achievements in a struggle are always mysterious. This idea of struggle couldnt be more diametrically unlike Hitlers kampf. Someone struggles, but the situation keeps changing. Who can determine winners and losers? If all human sin is impatience, then Evil might mean the inclination to impatience. If so, then impatience and struggle may be the same thing. The messiah doesnt come to struggle, but to end struggle. N UMBER E IGHT Er ist wie der Kampf mit Frauen, der im Bett endet. It is like the struggle with women, which ends in bed. [Kaiser/Wilkins] COMMENTARY Hofmanns translation is identical, except that he chooses to begin less formallyits. The most conspicuous thing in this brief line, struggle, is not the most important thing about it. I dont think Kafka is putting on a worldy, caddish air, suggesting that women seduce men theyve already decided they want to sleep with by putting up false resistance. Evil doesnt seduce people by offering them phoney struggles; the struggle is real. A cad would say that the struggle is won when the woman is bedded, but I think Kafka is saying that the struggle is the end, that is, the intention, and the bed. It s not that the struggler becomes evil as he struggles, resorting to cheating or becoming increasingly ruthless; its that the struggle is the evil. N UMBER N INE /TEN A. ist sehr aufgeblasen, er glaubt, im Guten weit vorgeschritten zu sein, da er, offenbar als ein immer verlockender Gegenstand, immer mehr

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Versuchungen aus ihm bisher ganz unbekannten Richtungen sich ausgesetzt fhlt. A. is very puffed up, he thinks he is far advanced in goodness since, obviously as an object that is ever seductive, he feels himself exposed to ever more temptations from directions hitherto unknown to him. [Kaiser/Wilkins] A. is terribly puffed up, he considers himself very advanced in goodness, since he feels himself magnetically attracting to himself an ever greater array of temptations from quarters with which he was previously wholly unacquainted. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This is the ninth of the Kaiser/Wilkins aphorisms, while, in Hofmann, it is the first half of the tenth, the preceding being numbered eight and nine, and consisting of an aphorism (see next post) not found in Kaiser/Wilkins at all. Hofmann s tenth unites ninth and tenth Kaiser/Wilkins. The idea of seduction is sustained with what seems like a familiar sort of a warning, pointing out that pride in one s virtuous attainments is still vanity. His sin of vanity is however prompted by the great many temptations he vanquishes, which shows how victory in the struggle against the seductions of evil is a false victory. But A. is not resisting seduction, hes the seductive one. N UMBER E LEVEN Die richtige Erklrung ist aber die, da ein groer Teufel in ihm Platz genommen hat und die Unzahl der kleineren herbeikommt, um dem Groen zu dienen. The proper explanation is however this: that a great devil has taken up residence in him and countless throngs of smaller ones come along to serve the great one. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The true explanation for his condition, however, is that a great devil has taken up residence within him, and an endless stream of smaller devils and deviltons are coming to offer the great one their services. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY I dont see where Hofmann gets devils and deviltons. Kafka speaks only of kleineren, little ones. You see this all the time in versions of Kafka; people often want to doll him up with gargoyles and theatrical grotesquery for some reason. They want their Kafka wet, not dry. A. is the seductive one because he is actually playing host to the greater evil. The foreign-ness of the lesser devils he mentioned earlier is part of this evil; they appear foreign to A. because he preserves his goodness by pretending to be a stranger to all evil. By refusing to allow evil to have any place in him or part of him, he inadvertantly cultivates a greater devil. The lesser evils are drawn by the greater, and they seem to be the ones seduced into struggle with A. The struggle with women ends with both combatants in bed, not just one. The evil do not stand outside evil. Evil is never other. I NTERCALARY APHORISM Eine stinkende Hndin, reichliche Kindergebrerin, stellenweise schon faulend, die aber in meiner Kindheit mir alles war, die in Treue unaufhrlich mir folgt, die ich zu schlagen mich nicht berwinden kann, vor der ich aber, selbst ihren Atem scheuend, schrittweise nach rckwrts weiche und die mich doch, wenn ich mich nicht anders entscheide, in den schon sichtbaren Mauerwinkel drngen wird, um dort auf mir und mit mir gnzlich zu verwesen, bis zum Endeehrt es mich?das Eiter- und WurmFleisch ihrer Zunge an meiner Hand. A smelly bitch that has brought forth plenty of young, already rotting in places, but that to me in my childhood meant everything, who continue [sic] to follow me faithfully everywhere, whom I am quite incapable of disciplining, but before whom I shrink back, step by step, shying away from her breath, and who will end up unless I decide otherwiseforcing me into a corner that I can already see, there to decompose fully and utterly on me and with me, until finallyis it a distinction?the pus- and worm-ravaged flesh of her tongue laps at my hand. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This aphorism is omitted in Kaiser/Wilkins. Hofmann has translated schlagen, to beat, with the softer and more abstract word

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discipline, and erht es mich? as is it a distinction? although I had to check the meaning of the verb before I could be sure it meant honor or salute, not difference or qualification. Recoiling in hopeless passivity before the desecrated childhood companion and in particular the blind persistence of its love for him. The dog is importunate like the assistants in The Castle. The aphorism is one drawn-out, breathless sentence like the culmination of a horror story. The horror seems to be all the things a child sees once it becomes an adult, and the trap that pity is, but, while he sees the corner hes being backed into, he doesnt have to enter it. This is often true of Kafkas characters. Is this an image of death? It isnt like Kafkas typically statuesque depiction of death; it has a gross quality that reminds me of the tongues of the dead lapping at the river of death, and that seems to have more to do with still being alive than with being dead. Is the problem that his pity isnt strong enough? Put the animal out of its misery, yes, but is he sympathetic to the dog? It s imaginable that someone might put an end to the life of a suffering animal selfishly, so he wont have to see it. Is it suffering that ineptly stalks after Kafka in the form of this dog? The problem is not that he can t escape, that would be easy to understand; the problem is that he wont escape. Escape what? The dog wants to lick him, maybe the way the dead want to lick the river of death, with its lingering savor of life. It will rot on and with him, but its not a harbinger of death so much as it is coincidentally there with him in death. There is something deeper in this than mere uncertainty about death or wanting to live, because you live whether you want to or not. Not wanting to live is not the same as wanting to die. The doom in this short passage keeps steadily escalating and that licking is going on all throughout. Animals in Kafka have a point of view that isn t low or high, they lose their point of view. The dog in Investigations of a Dog is devoted to empirical research, but he doesn t know anything, knows less and less. Overall this aphorism is a description of a type of existential condition, rather than a lesson.

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N UMBER E LEVEN/TWELVE Verschiedenheit der Anschauungen, die man etwa von einem Apfel haben kann: die Anschauung des kleinen Jungen, der den Hals strecken mu, um noch knapp den Apfel auf der Tischplatte zu sehn, und die Anschauung des Hausherrn, der den Apfel nimmt und frei dem Tischgenossen reicht. Differences in the view one can have of things, for instance of an apple: the view of a little boy who has to crane his neck in order even to glimpse the apple on the table, and the view of the master of the house, who takes the apple and freely hands it to the person sitting at table with him. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The variety of views that one may have, say, of an apple: the view of the small boy who has to crane his neck for a glimpse of the apple on the table, and the view of the master of the house who picks up the apple and hands it to his guest. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This aphorism is given a dual number in all the versions I ve seen, although its not clear to me exactly where the break occurs. The views are not angles but really different lives or modes of life, since the boy might grow up to be a paterfamilias himself. The one eyes the apple with longing or with curiosity, the other gives it away without a second thought, or even a look. His view is not looking. The meaning of the apple varies with the desires that are brought to bear on it, and also the lack of desire, perhaps, if the host doesnt value the apple or sees it as only one of a store of apples each of which is at his command and available for his use. Perhaps the child wants the apple and the host wants what the apple can help him to acquire, that is, the good will of his guests. Theres the view of the one who seems to have no power over the apple, and that of the one who has complete power over the apple. So power affects this difference also. The child may have a hunger and a secretivenessthey both might. If the boy isnt supposed to take the apple, and he takes it, thoughtlessly, he has done wrong from an external point of view only. From an internal point of view, there was no opportunity for thinking to prevent the act, no struggle against the impulse. Theres evil only if he stops to think about it, to struggle with the impulse to take it; then,

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apparently, there will be evil there even if he doesnt take the apple. Reachout of reach, barely, and within easy reach. There is a world of difference between those two. The boy may be able to take the apple, but does not dare to. I dont want to read this as an allegory of the fall, particularly because Kafka says nothing about the boy taking the apple, but why would he want to look at it if not because he wants it for himself? N UMBER THIRTEEN Ein erstes Zeichen beginnender Erkenntnis ist der Wunsch zu sterben. Dieses Leben scheint unertrglich, ein anderes unerreichbar. Man schmt sich nicht mehr, sterben zu wollen; man bittet, aus der alten Zelle, die man hat, in eine neue gebracht zu werden, die man erst hassen lernen wird. Ein Rest von Glauben wirkt dabei mit, whrend des Transportes werde zufllig der Herr durch den Gang kommen, den Gefangenen ansehen und sagen: Diesen sollt ihr nicht wieder einsperren. Er kommt zu mir. One of the first signs of the beginnings of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will only in time come to hate. In this there is also a residue of belief that during the move the master will chance to come along the corridor, look at the prisoner and say: This man is not to be locked up again. He is to come with me. [Kaiser/Wilkins] A first indication of glimmering understanding is the desire to die. This life seems unendurable, another unreachable. One no longer feels ashamed of wanting to die; one petitions to be moved from ones old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will come to hate. A last vestige of belief is involved here, too, for during the move might not the prison governor by chance walk down the passage, see the prisoner, and say: Dont lock this man up again. Hes coming with me. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The desire to die shows understanding is only just beginning. This is entirely equivocal, but I believe it means that a desire for

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death is a kind of maturity, like accepting death, and it comes about in part because one despairs of changing life. If another life refers to the beyond, then the desire to die arises not because one wants to reach the new life but because one believes one can t. Unreachablethis could mean that the new life beyond ... and we should not assume this is whats meant but only include the possibility that it is ... doesnt exist, but what is unreachable usually exists, but is out of reach. Perhaps, as Kafka discussed in the previous aphorism, it is a matter of point of view. Is it that one tries to find a new life but despairs that it will be really new, is all too sure it will only be as painful as the old? Being ashamed of the desire to die is here understood as resignation, accepting a painful life and refusing to try to alter it, so the change of cells does seem to mean death and not simply a change of life. The belief in actual change is the residue of something fuller, almost certainly the illusion or fantasy that one is beginning to know for what it is. Perhaps, by some chance, there is another life after all. The motives of the governor cannot enter into consideration, grace or works. I dont think the governors own confinement to the prison is relevant either, because he belongs to a wholly different, messianic order. Why doesnt the prisoner petition for his release, or an end to prisons? Is the wish to die actually a meager wish? Perhaps the problem with this wish is that it isnt a real wish at all. Wanting a new cell, this implies the one who wants death dares not ask for freedom but only for something that is more or less the same, not real change. Another arrangement of familiar old factors, nothing new. N UMBER F OURTEEN Gingest du ber eine Ebene, httest den guten Willen zu gehen und machtest doch Rckschritte, dann wre es eine verzweifelte Sache; da du aber einen steilen Abhang hinaufkletterst, so steil etwa, wie du selbst von unten gesehen bist, knnen die Rckschritte auch nur durch die Bodenbeschaffenheit verursacht sein, und du mut nicht verzweifeln. If you were walking across a plain, had an honest intention of walking on, and yet kept regressing, then it would be a desperate matter; but since you are scrambling up a cliff, about as steep as you yourself are if seen from below, the regression can only be

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caused by the nature of the ground, and you must not despair. [Kaiser/Wilkins] If you were walking across a plain, felt every desire to walk, and yet found yourself going backward, it would be a cause for despair; but as you are in fact scaling a steep precipice, as sheer in front of you as you are from the ground, then your backward movement can be caused only by the terrain, and you would be wrong to despair. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This one of the aphorisms Kafka struck out, but which editorial obstinacy includes in these editions and this commentary anyway. Your despair is a mistake. It would make sense if you were trying and failing to make progress, but, as it is, the difficulties arise from without. So the error lies in mistaking the mountain for the plain, and what is outside you for what is inside you. The despair in the initial example is dreamlike, because there is no accounting for your going backward as you plainly move forward. Your intention is honest, so there is no question of anything like subconscious resistance. If you face bewildering setbacks, then despair is a reasonable reaction, isn t it? On the other hand, if there is an obvious and natural reason for your difficulties, then despair is unreasonable, because no one else could do what youre trying to do either. Where are you going? If walking is all you want to do, then walking backward is as good as walking forwards. If this is the true way mentioned in the first aphorism, then this would be another representation of precariousness, instability or uncertainty, presented in combination with going back imagery from the fourth and fifth aphorisms. You have to keep going until you stop going back. This aphorism also touches on point of view, since the cliff is as steep as you are seen from the ground. Its strange that Kafka chooses you for the simile of something steep, and implies for this purpose another person, looking up at you from below, as if you were the cliff he were climbing. This kind of reflecting-back is really typical of Kafka. He claimed he could never accuse anyone of anything without having it rebound back and attach itself to him

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instead. It might be that this aphorism is cancelled, because he doesnt really believe the steepness is in the ground. N UMBER F IFTEEN Wie ein Weg im Herbst: Kaum ist er rein gekehrt, bedeckt er sich wieder mit den trockenen Blttern. Like a path in autumn: scarcely has it been swept clear when it is once more covered with dry leaves. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Like a path in autumn: no sooner is it cleared than it is once again littered with fallen leaves. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Perhaps this is offered in preference to the fourteenth aphorism; in this case, the problem is not some enigmatic backsliding, but that the path keeps disappearing. The method, to return to that idea, would be perennial sweeping. You cant follow someone else down this path, because the leaves erase it behind each one who takes it. The leaves fall steadily as you yourself go down this path, and so, when you turn around, you see no path, only an ocean of leaves. The only bit of the path you can see is the bit directly before you, which you keep clear of leaves with your sweeping, and maybe the last few steps as well, but you dont see where its going. You can, however, see which direction it seems to be taking. This is a little like the common idea of time, that is, a moving point of view in the present, rolling down a line, with unavailabilities before and after. But first of all, you can walk wherever you like; this isnt a tightrope high off the ground. Second, there is the added element of methodical effort involved in being at all aware of the path. Did you know where to start sweeping, or did you just sweep here and there until you discovered it? What are those leaves? Forgetting, not bothering, letting slide.

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N UMBER S IXTEEN Ein Kfig ging einen Vogel suchen. A cage went in search of a bird. COMMENTARY This one is translated identically in both editions. The search is paradoxical. A bird is free, and if its freedom is considered a part of its essence, then a bird deprived of its freedom isnt the same bird anymore. I dont think the primary point here is that one may have an idea of some thing only to find that possessing that thing isnt the same as possessing that idea. Kafka is pointing out how the search for something pushes it away from you. You want the bird, but why do you want the bird? Because it s free. So you catch a bird. Now it isn t free any more. How do you have a free bird? The cage is formed around the bird, roughly in keeping with its dimensions, needs, and habits. Kafka may be saying that certain ideas are like this; they are attempts to trap something. Searching, the cage becomes more like a bird; it would have to go where birds go, flying from branch to branch. So the cage may end its search by turning into a bird. Then again, it may turn into something entirely new, neither a bird nor a cage. This means that the search does not always push the object away, but that when it doesn t, it also does not result in capture. N UMBER S EVENTEEN An diesem Ort war ich noch niemals: Anders geht der Atem, blendender als die Sonne strahlt neben ihr ein Stern. This is a place where I never was before: here breathing is different, and more dazzling than the sun is the radiance of a star beside it. [Kaiser/Wilkins] I have never been here before: my breath comes differently, the sun is outshone by a star beside it. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY Kafka is probably talking about Zurau; Ort can mean town or village, as well as place. This isnt an example of travel writing, though; hes describing his experience of the place as someone who came from elsewhere, and who remains a person from elsewhere in the new place. This is what it means to discover oneself in a new life; new life isnt paradise, the point of no return, or the point beyond the point of no return, but it is possible to see those places from a new life. In the usual life, where you have been before, your breath comes in the same way, theres no glimpse of becoming and no reason to think there are any other stars but the sun. N UMBER E IGHTEEN Wenn es mglich gewesen wre, den Turm von Babel zu erbauen, ohne ihn zu erklettern, es wre erlaubt worden. If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without climbing it, it would have been permitted. [Kaiser/Wilkins] If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without having to climb it, that would have been sanctioned. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This aphorism is a model exercise in baffling pious argument. Theres no ban on building, even on a grand scale. The problem with the Tower wasnt its construction or even its height, but that it entails a misconception, like the cage going in search of the bird. In the usual interpretation of the parable, the Tower is a blasphemous attempt to rival or to reach God, and man is punished for this presumption. Kafka doesn t present an opposing interpretation, he qualifies the existing one in a way that utterly shifts its footing when he suggests blasphemy arises wherever Gods presence is mistaken for a barrier or a distance. The task, like sweeping the leaves in the fifteenth aphorism, is not to take the path but to find it and keep on finding it. This is analogous to building a tower without climbing it.

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N UMBER N INETEEN La dich vom Bsen nicht glauben machen, du knntest vor ihm Geheimnisse haben. Do not let Evil make you believe you can have secrets from it. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Dont let Evil convince you you could keep any secrets from it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY A cancelled aphorism, possibly slated for revision. More good advice; William S. Burroughs used to say nobody does more harm than people who feel bad about doing it. Why? Because they harm from a position of official justification, which is the same as saying they harm officially. The misconception Kafka wants to clear up is that its possible to do evil without being evil, or to do just a little evil, or to manage evil somehow; his point is that this idea is already fully evil. It s not evil you can keep secrets from, its you, or rather, you have the power to deny or obfuscate or rename things about yourself or things youve done. Evil afflicts you by turning you into a false image, and that might be the falseness to which the trueness of the true way is opposed. The true way isnt something claimed and owned, its a method of patient checking and attention. N UMBER TWENTY Leoparden brechen in den Tempel ein und saufen die Opferkrge leer; das wiederholt sich immer wieder; schlielich kann man es vorausberechnen, und es wird ein Teil der Zeremonie. Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Leopards break into the temple and drink all the sacrificial vessels dry; it keeps happening; in the end, it can be calculated in advance and is incorporated into the ritual. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY The repetition of the depredations of the leopards happens presumably despite the efforts of the temple custodians. Kafka has a persistent interest in impersonal, spontaneous alteration over time, although here it doesnt seem to matter whether or not the inclusion of the leopards in the ritual happens as a consequence of a decree, a decision with a particular moment in time, or as a result of a habituation. Calculation prevents loss. In fact, once they become part of the ritual, the appearance of the leopards is necessary, and the ritual is vindicated when they arrive. The leopards are innocent, so how can this be defilement? Religion is like the leopard; both eat the same goods, both act in the same wayall effects. The doctrine that esteems peace and love as its highest values is used to justify violence and no one thinks twice about it. No one thinks once about it. Ritual only seems to be the most rigid mindset, when its actually the most flexible. N UMBER TWENTY-ONE So fest wie die Hand den Stein hlt. Sie hlt ihn aber fest, nur um ihn desto weiter zu verwerfen. Aber auch in jene Weite fhrt der Weg. As firmly as the hand grips the stone. But it grips firmly only in order to fling it away all the further. But the way leads into those distances too. [Kaiser/Wilkins] As firmly as a hand holding a stone. Held, however, so firmly, merely so that it can be flung a greater distance. But there is a path even to that distance. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY No matter how far you throw the rock, you can t throw it so far away from you that you cant go find it again. The last line represents a way back, the kind that so often appears in Kafka s stories and which gives inconclusive freedom of action to his characters. You can throw this, whatever it is, very far away from yourself, but theres nothing to prevent you from going and getting it again. Do you want more limits than there are?

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You firmly grasp things in order to throw them away from you. You can do it, but that doesnt necessarily change much. Its not as if youd thrown your rock into a bottomless pit, or over an unclimbable, uncrossable wall. So it remains available to you, like a part of you, even if you reject it. N UMBER TWENTY-TWO Du bist die Aufgabe. Kein Schler weit und breit. You are the task. No pupil far and wide. [Kaiser/Wilkins] You are the exercise, the task. No student far and wide. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Aufgabe can mean duty, assignment, or problem, as well as task or exercise. It may be that the reference to a student in the second part conditions the translation of the first toward a meaning more like homework. If a lesson is meant, what is it preparing you for? Kafka uses the intimate du in this one. Is he addressing himself? You are the problem. This is true of the main characters in many of Kafkas most important works. Their problems are not distinct from themselves. Even Josef K.s problem cannot really be described as a misfortune that falls on him from outside, and he is not without a role to play in the determination of his fate. And, in The Castle, K. brings everything on himself. No student. Only teacher? N UMBER TWENTY-THREE Vom wahren Gegner fhrt grenzenloser Mut in dich. From the true antagonist illimitable courage is transmitted to you. [Kaiser/Wilkins] From the true opponant, a limitless courage flows into you. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY Your opponant must also derive comparable courage from you. What matters is that the opposition be true. A false opposition gives no courage because there is nothing to overcome. Where the opposition is true, the courage is limitless, perhaps because true opposition is limitless. It may take limited forms, or run its course in time, but the opposition of directions is strict. This means that youand again Kafka uses the informal dich, possibly addressing himselfgenerate your opponant by adopting a contrary position. Josef K. insists that the Court is his adversary, even in the absence of any hostilities. I am only defeated where there is no fight, even though the struggle is an impasse. The impasse is a kind of success, because victory, which abruptly clears away all signs of struggle, is indiscernible in this respect from defeat or from there never having been any struggle. N UMBER TWENTY-F OUR Das Glck begreifen, da der Boden, auf dem du stehst, nicht grer sein kann, als die zwei Fe ihn bedecken. Grasping the good fortune that the ground on which you are standing cannot be larger than the two feet covering it. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Grasp the good fortune that the ground on which you stand cannot be any bigger than the two feet planted on it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Is this nonsense? Deleuze pointed out in The Logic of Sense that nonsense is more than the mere absence of sensewhich would be only gibberishits the simulation of sense. I mistrust all the various ideas this aphorism gives me, because they seem uselessly prosaic. Arguably, the most important word in the aphorism is bedecken, which means to cover. Hofmanns translation involves a nuance of stability or resolution that is not entailed in covering. The good fortune is that the ground is covered by the feet; what is to be grasped firmly is the good fortune.

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Why fortunate? Because this means that things are scaled to your size and no larger. You are not and cannot be out of your depth. N UMBER TWENTY-F IVE Wie kann man sich ber die Welt freuen, auer wenn man zu ihr flchtet? How can one be glad about the world except if one takes one s refuge in it? [Kaiser/Wilkins] How is it possible to rejoice in the world except by fleeing to it? [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This is not a rhetorical question. Hofmanns fleeing to is closer to the German than Kaiser/Wilkins taking refuge in. The pronoun ihr is in the dative, which is usually locative in sense, but the combination of the verb flchten and the preposition zu gives us a sense of motion better translated as fleeing to. This is important because it underscores the idea that one rejoices in the world while separate from it and seeking to join with it, rather than simply from within it. Kaiser/Wilkins conjures a Buddhistic image of self-identification with the world, while Hofmann emphasizes instead the notion of someplace to be reached. What is there to flee or to take refuge from, if not the world? Taking refuge in the world is like renouncing the idea of refuge; it means being as tranquil in the midst of the flames as you would be in your mothers lap. Escape and rejoicing are linked. To rejoice in something is to escape to it. One has to take the approach one is normally encouraged to take in escaping from the world into the mystical beyond, but use it to escape to the world. N UMBER TWENTY-S IX Verstecke sind unzhlige, Rettung nur eine, aber Mglichkeiten der Rettung wieder so viele wie Verstecke. Es gibt ein Ziel, aber keinen Weg; was wir Weg nennen, ist Zgern.

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Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places. There is a goal, but no way; what we call a way is hesitation. [Kaiser/Wilkins] There are innumerable hiding places and only one salvation, but the possibilities of salvation are as numerous as the hiding places. There is a destination but no way there; what we refer to as way is hesitation. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This is another cancelled aphorism, very reminiscent of Before the Law. Briefly, it says that hiding places and possible avenues of escape or rescue are numberless, but only one of them is true. In parallel, there is somewhere to go, but no way to get there at all. In other words, there are countless wrong pathways and only one right one, from one point of view, whereas from another point of view there is not even one right pathway, because the mistake lies in thinking in terms of pathways. There is an aim that is not achieved yet, and which is simply to be achieved. To come up with a way to achieve it is to postpone that achievement. If we begin with the supposition that all of us are elements of a single transcendent consciousness mistaking itself for an infinite number of discrete beings, then the student approaching the guru and asking to be liberated is actually one consciousness asking itself for freedom. The guru looks at the student and says in effect, youre not fooling me, Visnu, I know its you, but if you want to play this game, act the part of a hapless student, and invent laborious and elaborate procedures for your own liberation instead of simply liberating yourself right now, by all means, why not? This aphorism does not seem to be consistent with the idea of the true way, since he says there is no way to the one aim. However, there need not be a contradiction, and clearing up contradictions isnt necessarily tidying up where untidiness is called for. The true way isnt about going somewhere, its about staying on the rope or brushing the leaves away continually, keeping pointed in the right direction, not about how much distance you ve managed to cover. You cover no more ground than you are currently standing on, which is what he said in the twenty-fourth aphorism.

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You cant spread out becoming, you can only train or practice or wait until it happens. The moment of becoming something truly new may or may not arise out of the old, but it isn t just the rearrangement of the old. The new may happen because you ve arranged enough old stuff out of its birth canal, so there is something to be done with the old stuff, but the new, to be new, must be discontinuous with what went before. The paradox of the way is that youre trying to invite the new because there does seem to be some way to induce it to come from among all the old stuff, but what comes will come out of nothing old. N UMBER TWENTY-S EVEN Das Negative zu tun, ist uns noch auferlegt; das Positive ist uns schon gegeben. Doing the negative thing is imposed on us, an addition; the positive thing is given to us from the start. [Kaiser/Wilkins] We are instructed to do the negative; the positive is already within us. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Hofmann takes greater liberties here than Kaiser/Wilkins, and loses the sense of noch, which is that the negative is added to us. The implication, then, is that the positive, being opposed to the negative, must be the opposite of what is added, that is, what is innate, and hence already within us, but doesn t this entail an assumption? I dont think we should conflate what is given to us from the start with what we are. The negative thing is not given to us from the start but imposed later; does this mean there are no imposed positives, and therefore any positive thing is given at the beginning only? I think the emphasis here is on the idea of the negative as alien deviation from any previously-determined direction. If this is taken as an axiom, it does not necessarily follow that any change in direction is negative. It may negate the direction taken up to now, but if this happens because you are opting for a new direction, then this would be a new positive, and hence, by this definition, a new beginning. The positive, then, would necessarily be the beginning

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of something. Therefore the negative is a deviation that does not begin anything new. The negative might be sloppiness, but then that doesn t explain the idea of imposition. Who imposes? Perhaps it doesn t matter who. But no one thinks of sloppiness in terms of an imposition, do they? Imposed sloppiness. What would that be? Confusion, induced by circumstances? This negative is far more general, and should be treated as any interference; perhaps especially as self-interference. N UMBER TWENTY-E IGHT Wenn man einmal das Bse bei sich aufgenommen hat, verlangt es nicht mehr, da man ihm glaube. When one has once accepted and absorbed Evil, it no longer demands to be believed. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Once we have taken Evil into ourselves, it no longer insists that we believe in it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The first verb is the tricky one, since it means to receive, specifically to receive persons (as opposed to acts). Receiving someone, and here evil is clearly personified, and taking someone or something into oneself are not quite the same. If I take evil into myself, then I become evil, dont I? Whereas what is under discussion here seems to be knowing and accepting evil, rather than doing or being evil. It is a characteristic of evil that people do it while claiming not to be doing it. When you are unaware of it, it demands to be received. Once it is received, it hides. This aphorism is also telling us that evil does demand we believe in it, so long as we do not receive it. Evil does not allow itself to be passively ignored, and, if it is actively ignored, that means it has been received. If this evil is the same as the imposed negative of the previous aphorism, then receiving it would be the flipside of having it imposed on you. This may mean that one cannot be subject to this imposition without first allowing the negative.

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N UMBER TWENTY-N INE Die Hintergedanken, mit denen du das Bse in dir aufnimmst, sind nicht die deinen, sondern die des Bsen. Das Tier entwindet dem Herrn die Peitsche und peitscht sich selbst, um Herr zu werden, und wei nicht, da das nur eine Phantasie ist, erzeugt durch einen neuen Knoten im Peitschenriemen des Herrn. The ulterior motives with which you absorb and assimilate Evil are not your own but those of Evil. >> The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the masters whiplash. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The reservations with which you take Evil into yourself are not yours, but those of Evil. >> The animal twists the whip out of its masters grip and whips itself to become its own master not knowing that this is only a fantasy, produced by a new knot in the masters whiplash. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The section after the >> arrows is cancelled. The first section, which I think tends to be overshadowed by the second: If you reject evil there is no need for argument about it. If you argue or struggle, you are already playing the game, bargaining, temporizing, parsing out your entitlements. The impulsive act is innocent, if not harmless, like the leopards entering the sanctuary. To reason about the wickedness of a possible act requires you to begin planning it. The second section is like a rerendering of the slave rebellion as Nietzsche described it, although here it is the master who prevails. The point is that the slave doesnt overcome the master by force, because, in so doing, the slave becomes the master and the master the slave. Instead, the slave paralyzes the master with guilt and disgust, so the master doesnt act even though he can. Linking these two sections together seems to require us to think of Evil as the master position, and that scourging ourselves is only another way to serve Evil, because we scourge ourselves in order to become our own Evil.

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N UMBER THIRTY Das Gute ist in gewissem Sinne trostlos. In a certain sense the Good is comfortless. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Goodness is in a certain sense comfortless. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The Hofmann indicates this aphorism is cancelled, while Kaiser/Wilkins does not. Perhaps there is some uncertainty whether it falls under the cancellation of the second part of the previous number. If evil is already inside, admitted and absorbed, and goodness does not consist in struggling with it, but with a kind of vigilant ignorance of it, then there is no respite for goodness. Goodness, knowing that evil stops drawing attention to itself once one has granted it admittance, must take evils presence for granted. Even if that evil is induced to leave, goodness has no choice but to mistrust the apparent absence of evil, to mistrust itself. This means that goodness cant know itself; the recognition of evil, and its opposition to good, makes it necessary that the good be known, but goodness can never be taken for granted. Evil comes to you, but goodness is perennially elusive. In that case, its tempting to adopt the idea that goodness consists of the search for the good, rather than its discovery and possession, but then this requires us to accept the unsatisfactory notion of a hunt for something that doesn t exist. It may be a better statement of the case to say that goodness is attentiveness to direction, while evil is inattentiveness to direction or worse, selfdeception about direction. N UMBER THIRTY-ONE Nach Selbstbeherrschung strebe ich nicht. Selbstbeherrschung heit: an einer zuflligen Stelle der unendlichen Ausstrahlungen meiner geistigen Existenz wirken wollen. Mu ich aber solche Kreise um mich ziehen, dann tue ich es besser unttig im bloen Anstaunen des ungeheuerlichen Komplexes und nehme nur die Strkung, die e contrario dieser Anblick gibt, mit nach Hause.

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Self-control is something for which I do not strive. Self-control means wanting to be effective at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence. But if I do have to draw such circles round myself, then it will be better for me to do it passively, in mere wonderment and gaping at the tremendous complex, taking home with me only the refreshment that this sight gives e contrario. [Kaiser/Wilkins] I do not strive for self-mastery. Self-mastery is the desirewithin the endless emanations of my intellectual lifeto be effective at a certain radius. But if I am made to describe circles around me, then I had better do it without action: merely contemplating the whole extraordinary complex and taking nothing away with me but the strength that such an aspecte contrariowould give me. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The two translations diverge on numerous points. Hofmann s self-mastery makes this aphorism an extension of the preceding, presenting this approach as the preferable alternative to selfflogging. Infinite radiations or endless emanations? Spiritual existence or intellectual life? Wonderment and gaping or merely contemplating? The Hofmann translation favors more passive language, which might be more consistent with the non-active approach the aphorism describes. There is more energy in wondering and gaping than in merely contemplating, and, to me, radiating seems more dynamic than emanating. Urine can be emanated. Hofmann also selects intellect rather than spirit, I imagine because his translation is intended to distance these aphorisms from the more or less exaggerated religiosity with which Brod first presented them. Either term is equally acceptable, which means that the two ideas, mind and spirit, are both present in the German term, so the alternate meaning should be remembered when this term is translated into English. The difference between some random point and at a certain radius is glaring. Hofmann is clearly trying to strengthen the connection between this statement and its sequel about circles, but the original text plainly says that the moment of effectiveness is a chance occurrence.

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Wirken means to act, while unttig means inactive. There is a contrast here that should not be missed: self-mastery means wanting to act, but Kafka prefers to be inactive. Perhaps most important, is it refreshment or strength? While refreshment is a legitimate translation, strength is the more immediate meaning of Strkung. The inactive, receptive approach gives you strength to take home with you, but this puts the emphasis on the idea of retaining, finding and carrying away strength, rather than simply being strong. You carry the strength back home with you, which means you cant get it at home. Very suggestive: the strength is both nehme, taken, actively, and gibt, given, in which the action comes to you. You must act, leave home, go get this strength, but getting it entails being in the right place and having the right frame of mind in which to receive it. Actually, the distinction between activity and passivity in this aphorism is not sharp at all. The strength is not some abstract power inserted into you, it is the contrast between your usual condition and another. Nietzsche, Deleuze, both insist that its a mistake to think of power as a possession or like the charge in a battery; power, they say, is a relationship, like a gradient. Kafka, who read Nietzsche carefully, might be thinking of power in the same way, tying it to the contrariness. This is not struggle; struggle wears you out. I think this strength springs from an encounter with an alternative to your normal way of living. You receive strength in a way that isnt wholly active or passive. The desire for self-mastery or control is to want to act or to want to be able to act. Wanting to be able to act and acting aren t the same thing. You can prepare for action interminably and never act, and you can act without any preparation. Deleuze writes that action is never conscious; our motive for acting is always an interpretation. Action doesnt spring from interpretations, even if the interpretation precedes the act. This is what my action will mean is not the same thing as acting nor does it make us act. N UMBER THIRTY-TWO Die Krhen behaupten, eine einzige Krhe knnte den Himmel zerstren. Das ist zweifellos, beweist aber nichts gegen den Himmel, denn Himmel bedeuten eben: Unmglichkeit von Krhen.

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The crows maintain that a single crow could destroy the heavens. There is no doubt of that, but it proves nothing against the heavens, for heaven simply means: the impossibility of crows. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The crows like to insist that a single crow is enough to destroy heaven. This is incontestably true, but it says nothing about heaven, because heaven is just another way of saying: the impossibility of crows. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The purpose of this aphorism might be to set dialectical reasoning running round in circles until it falls exhausted. I dont know how to approach this aphorism without taking the stupid interpretation as my starting point. Stupid: the crows are the doubters who deny heaven, but, since heaven is faith-in-heaven, they end up denying it to themselves. So, believe etc. What does Kafka do to prevent a stupid interpretation? For one thing, the crows arent denying heaven, they are asserting they can destroy it. For another thing, why crows? The hallmark of bad readings of Kafka is the assumption that he writes allegories. The crows are crows, and he must have chosen crows because they live in the sky. The word Himmel means both heaven and sky. From the point of view of the crows, they coexist with heaven. From heavens point of view, theres no such things as crows. This is another stab at a model of good and evil, or the positive and the negative, of the kind Kafka has been working on in other aphorisms. Hes trying out different terms for these two sides, and experimenting with alternative renderings of their relationship. Evil insists on its parity with good, but good does not insist on its parity with evil, in fact, good is the absence of evil, but only in thought. N UMBER THIRTY-THREE Die Mrtyrer unterschtzen den Leib nicht, sie lassen ihn auf dem Kreuz erhhen. Darin sind sie mit ihren Gegnern einig. Martyrs do not underrate the body, they allow it to be elevated on

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the cross. In this they are at one with their antagonists. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Martyrs do not underestimate the body, they allow it to be hoisted up onto the cross. In that way they are like their enemies. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kaiser/Wilkins marks this aphorism cancelled. Martyrs are at one with their tormentors, whether the tormentor likes it or not. Martyrs are tactical. Physical suffering is celebrated from two directions; as the vindication of the tormentors on the one hand, the tormented on the other. One has the power to inflict suffering, the other has the power to volunteer for it. This seems to me to proceed from the thirty first aphorism, involving the self-flagellation of the beast. Suffering is strongly associated with the idea of recompense. The martyr is more or less creating his own posthumous recompense by suffering, using suffering as a way to compel it. The tormentor is trying to stop and destroy, while the martyr is trying to use this very act of destruction to create or redistribute something. It is not a confrontation of two sides, any more than there is a confrontation between the master and the animal that whips itself, not its master, or between the crows and the sky. One side confronts, the other does not. Time and again Kafka returns to asymmetry in values. N UMBER THIRTY-F OUR Sein Ermatten ist das des Gladiators nach dem Kampf, seine Arbeit war das Weitnchen eines Winkels in einer Beamtenstube. His exhaustion is that of the gladiator after the fight, his work was the whitewashing of one corner in a clerks office. [Kaiser/Wilkins] His exhaustion is that of the gladiator after the combat; his labor was the whitewashing of a corner of the wall in his office. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY Hoffman writes as if Kafka meant to specify himself; this is certainly true, but the reader should know that Beamtenstube does refer to a specific kind of office, belonging to a clerk or a civil servant, as opposed to a medical doctor or a private eye. Two images of struggle. It seems to me that there is more and more evidence here pointing to a fixation on struggle in these aphorisms, which bears out a similar fixation in the fiction. This one refers to the disproportionate exhaustion that can be induced by ordinary tasks, their unseen heroism, describing the relationship to the world as a struggle. It isnt that even something as minor as this is a struggle; its that precisely this kind of thing is at the heart of the struggle. Battles are typically decisive, but a mundane task like whitewashing, while it may be done or left undone, is not historic because nothing concludes or begins with it. You whitewash now and then. The moment the whitewash is freshened up it becomes a blank canvas to be smudged and sootied all over again. In a battle, men are killed, and while more men will probably come along, those dead men cant be restored to life. So the effort involved is the same, even if the outcomes vary wildly in significance. If we value things according to the amount of effort they cost, then this would tend to level these two things, battling and whitewashing. But if we value things according to what was won or lost, then these two things are as far apart as possible. The contrast between the former equivalence and the latter incomparability is the object of this aphorism. On the one hand, its a dry joke about tedious workaday chores. On the other hand, it seems to elevate, in a way, that workunless the intention is to compare the gladiator with the whitewasher. If thats Kafkas idea, then the point is that the whitewasher is at the same time capable of a maximum effort, just like the gladiator, and yet this maximum effort gives a result that falls bathetically short of the accomplishment of the gladiator (glory doesnt necessarily enter into the questionthe gladiator may be a monster, but the result of his fighting is death, permanent and consequential and hence unlike whitewashing). There is an equivalence and an incomparability in this comparison as well.

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N UMBER THIRTY-F IVE Es gibt kein Haben, nur ein Sein, nur ein nach letztem Atem, nach Ersticken verlangendes Sein. There is no having, only a being, only a state of being that craves the last breath, craves suffocation. [Kaiser/Wilkins] There is no possessing, only an existing, only an existing that yearns for its final breath, for asphyxiation. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This one sounds like a poem when you read it aloud. Possession is a relationship, not a thing. Philosophy overflows with the topic of to be, but its stingy with its attention when to have comes up. The idea is the exhaustion of being, but this could be read two ways, it could point to something negative, it doesnt matter whether it be the world overwhelming the self or simply ennui, or it could point to something else, and something more than a mere inversion of the negative. All these aphorisms have tended in the same direction in this respect, that the positive is not the inversion of the negative, that their opposition is different. Kafka says that to be is to yearn; to be is to yearn for the last breath, which could mean that to be is to yearn not to be. By mentioning breath, he implicitly conflates being and living. It could also mean that to be is to yearn to be until the end, which would mean suicide only if you meant willing your own life in its entireity, death included, by the word suicide. It might mean that the longing of the living is to be overcome by life, that death is being overcome by life and not a force that overcomes life. When I imagine the condition that craves the last breath, I imagine the overstimulated condition of someone at the limit of their endurance, whether that limit is as extensive as an atheletes or as narrow as an invalids. When you are at that limit, begging for relief, you are also living at the summit of lifes intensity. There are two other things I notice. First, that being and having are strictly abstract, while the idea of yearning, the last breath, and suffocation, draw these abstractions into a particular, personal instant. Second, I wonder why he felt it necessary to negate having, and how that led him to being. Was he trying out

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the idea, I have my life, and then did he reject it, with the thought, I dont have my lifeI live and then go on to say what life meant? N UMBER THIRTY-S IX Frher begriff ich nicht, warum ich auf meine Frage keine Antwort bekam, heute begreife ich nicht, wie ich glauben konnte, fragen zu knnen. Aber ich glaubte ja gar nicht, ich fragte nur. Previously I did not understand why I got no answer to my question; today I do not understand how I could believe I was capable of asking. But I didnt really believe, I only asked. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Earlier, I didnt understand why I got no answer to my question, today I dont understand how I presumed to ask a question. But then I didnt presume, I only asked. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Both this and the previous aphorisms must have something to do with Felice Bauer. How stupid of me not to notice earlier! On the other hand, these are gathered together among a set of numbered aphorisms, which suggests to me that there is a generalizable kernel in these passages. Kafka does not seem to want to answer a question of this magnitude using only this or that part of his being, but with his whole being, which includes his unparalleled ratiocinative power. In number thirty-five, he must be speaking of Felice when he speaking of a Being. Marriage is not about having a spouse, it is the presence of a being whose existence is fundamentally merged with your own. In that case, perhaps the desire for the last breath might be hers, and the aphorism would express his fear of destroying her in a marriage. Or that last breath, the Being, might be Kafka after all, anticipating his own destruction in marriage. The Kaiser/Wilkins translation is more strictly literal. Hofmann conflates being able to ask with presumption, which is not necessarily the same thing. As far as a marriage proposal is concerned, it does however seem to be the same. What matters, though, is the difference over time. Back then, it was the lack of an answer that I didn t understand, now its my

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own asking that I dont understand. Kafka returns to the difficulty that arises when you try to relate two points of view. Kierkegaard, whom Kafka read, came back again and again to the idea that having a point of view entails having a blind spot. The presumption is an interpretation after the fact, not the motive. N UMBER THIRTY-S EVEN Seine Antwort auf die Behauptung, er besitze vielleicht, sei aber nicht, war nur Zittern und Herzklopfen. His answer to the assertion that he did perhaps possess, but that he was not, was only trembling and palpitations. [Kaiser/Wilkins] His answer to the accusation that he might possess something but didnt exist, consisted of trembling and heart palpitations. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Asphyxiation is the symptom of being without having, and trembling and palpitations are the symptoms of possessing without being, or at least being told that this latter might be the case. This aphorism revisits both having and being on the one hand, and answering on the other. There are two micro-scenes that could be spun out of this aphorism. In one, someone in a position of authority is making a statement about someone else. (Behauptung does not primarily mean accusation.) The former person could be a future father in law, a judge, the latters own father. The other micro-scene is purely introspective; a man thinks this about himself, and the thought induces trembling and palpitations. In either case, the idea of possessing without being elicits physical signs of distress, either fear or indignation, which indicate a visceral desire or need to reject it, but no refutation. He remains silent. The idea of inverting aphorism thirty-five might have prompted Kafka to try to imagine having without being, and then to see how he might go about dramatically framing the introduction of that idea. To possess without being would mean that there is no being, at least in his case, but only a kind of registered relationship to those things we think of as part of our being. If I do not exist, but only possess, then I m like a demon

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inhabiting a body, living a life, that is mine only because of some kind of contract or receipt. It would mean that everything remains as it is, or seems, but that there is no basis for what is. There would be having, but no one to have. N UMBER THIRTY-E IGHT Einer staunte darber, wie leicht er den Weg der Ewigkeit ging; er raste ihn nmlich abwrts. A man was amazed at how easily he went along the road to eternity; the fact was he was rushing along it downhill. [Kaiser/Wilkins] A man was astounded by the ease of the path of eternity; it was because he took it downhill, at a run. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This suggests not only that there are different ways to take the path of eternity, but that the metaphorical topography of the path is a function of the way you take it, and not the paths own fixed property. Kafka might mean only that the downward, and hence presumably evil, way is easier than the comfortless way of virtue, but its still the path of eternity either way. So the way the path is taken, and not the destination, is whats good or evil? Or is there a good eternity and an evil one? That he is running shows impatience, but also a lack of resistance; when youre facing down the slope, the lay of the land almost compels you to run. You have to lean back against the grade to avoid running. People dont stage races on downhill slopes because a slope would make anyone run faster than their strength alone would permit; arguably, the strongest runner would be the one who could manage to come in last. Taken by itself, this aphorism gives us no reason to assume that there is another, upward way. It might be that the path to eternity is always a downward slope; if that were true, then the less impetuous and therefore probably more virtuous way would be to go downwards resisting, rather than heedlessly barrelling on.

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Rushing towards eternity doesnt make sense, so perhaps this is the mistake were being warned about: mistaking eternity for clock time. N UMBER THIRTY-N INE (A) Dem Bsen kann man nicht in Raten zahlen - und versucht es unaufhrlich. Es wre denkbar, da Alexander der Groe trotz den kriegerischen Erfolgen seiner Jugend, trotz dem ausgezeichneten Heer, das er ausgebildet hatte, trotz den auf Vernderung der Welt gerichteten Krften, die er in sich fhlte, am Hellespont stehen geblieben und ihn nie berschritten htte, und zwar nicht aus Furcht, nicht aus Unentschlossenheit, nicht aus Willensschwche, sondern aus Erdenschwere. One cannot pay Evil in installmentsand one always keeps on trying to. It could be imagined that Alexander the Great, in spite of his youthful triumphs in warfare, in spite of the superb army he built up, in spite of the energies he felt in himself that were directed to transforming the world, might have halted at the Hellespont and not have crossed it, and this not from fear, not from irresolution, not from weakness of will, but from the force of gravity. [Kaiser/Wilkins] It is not possible to pay Evil in installments and still we always try. It is conceivable that Alexander the Greatfor all the military successes of his youth, for all the excellence of the army he trained, for all the desire he felt in himself to change the world might have stopped at the Hellespont, and never crossed it, and not out of fear, not out of indecisiveness, not out of weakness of will, but from heavy legs. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY One often reads about people sinking into evil, but Kafka seems to be saying that the cost is paid in full at the outset, when evil is first admitted, and that whatever degeneration that might follow is only the aftermath. Sometimes in these aphorisms Kafka speaks of evil as a destination, and elsewhere, as in this case, evil is a starting pointalthough in either case evil is a cause rather than an effect. Even Alexander the Great, conjured up as a figure of maximum power and as the famous knot-cutter, stops before the

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decisive step because it is basically too heavy. As in the previous aphorism, the question is: are the uphill or the downhill within me or outside me? In this aphorism, the problem is logistical, the weight is in the problem, not in the solver. He wonders if he can t conquer the world a piece at a time, but this is like trying to 5%marry someone today, add another 1-2% a month later, and build up to a full marriage. It seems that Kafka is saying that this approach is like trying without doing, or noncommittally committing, and identifying that with evil. Evil must be paid for with action, and piecing action out in installments means trying to act in the least active way, as close to inaction as possible, which is like turning away from action even as you supposedly do it. Installment action is like a passive imitation of activity. Its interesting to remember here that Kafka generally tried to write his stories all in one sitting, and, when interrupted, would often start all over again, even if that meant rewriting the beginning verbatim. This suggests that a story written bit by bit would have lacked a wholeness he was looking for, like trying to break the ice with the axe by swinging the axe a few inches over the ice every day. Bergson noted that a movement cannot be subdivided; if you break a movement up into a series of movements, then you have replaced one movement with many. Kafkas novels werent written at one sitting, but perhaps Kafka, every time he worked on them, plunged as far as he could go in that episode. In that case, he wouldn t have been breaking up one act into a series of lesser acts, but the novel would have been a series of unique, maximal efforts, like trying to launch himself over a chasm again and again. If this is true, then it might help to explain why Kafka never completed any of his three novels, because it would mean that the novel itself is not a single act broken into parts but a collection of acts, hence open-ended. N UMBER THIRTY-N INE (B) Der Weg ist unendlich, da ist nichts abzuziehen, nichts zuzugeben und doch hlt jeder noch seine eigene kindliche Elle daran. Gewi, auch diese Elle Wegs mut du noch gehen, es wird dir nicht vergessen werden. The way is infinitely long, nothing of it can be subtracted, nothing can be added, and yet everyone applies his own childish yardstick

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to it. Certainly, this yard of the way you still have to go, too, and it will be accounted unto you. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The road is endless, there are no shortcuts and no detours, and yet everyone brings to it his own childish haste. You must walk this ell of ground, too, you wont be spared it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The Kaiser/Wilkins is closer to the text, although in both translations the English ending is slightly unlike the German, which says (as far as I can tell) this will not be forgotten of you. This is a real ambiguity in the original; it could mean it will be remembered that you did this, or it could mean it will not be forgotten that you should do this. Hofmanns translation emphasizes impatience, where Kaiser/Wilkins pays more attention to the idea of measuring and dividing. Again, the mistake seems to be the one identified by Bergson, the source of Zenos paradox, the idea that motion can be divided into segments, the confusion that arises when measuring is mistaken for movement. On the one hand, you can say that this means no cheating, no aggrandizing. On the other hand, not being able to subtract or add to the way, which is the more literal translation of the verbs, could be underscoring what eternity means. It doesnt mean the largest imaginable heap of seconds or the longest imaginable distance; it isnt measurable. If the way is endless, that doesnt give you room to fool around. You still have to take every one of the endless steps, which more or less means you have to keep to the way at all times. You dont accumulate merit a crumb at a time; in fact, merit doesnt seem to enter into it. The merit is in being underway and maybe in heading in the right direction, if there s a difference, not in how far along you get. If we introduce how far, were talking in relative terms, specifically relating me to you, and now its a race. The way isnt a racetrack. N UMBER F ORTY Nur unser Zeitbegriff lt uns das Jngste Gericht so nennen, eigentlich ist es ein Standrecht.

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It is only our conception of time that makes us call the Last Judgment by this name. It is, in fact, a kind of martial law. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Its only our notion of time that allows us to speak of the Last Judgment, in fact its a Court Martial. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The Hofmann marks this aphorism cancelled, the Kaiser/Wilkins does not. No idea why. Martial law seems to be the likeliest translation of Standrecht; the usual term for Court Martial is Kriegsgericht. Gericht alone means court, not judgement, so perhaps Hofmann wanted to extend this idea, from Latest Court to Court Martial. The use of allows instead of makes seems more true; the concept we have of time is not compelling us to do something but only permits for this mistake. What is the difference between Latest Court and martial law? One is the end of all judgement, the other is the suspension of ordinary legal procedure. Ordinary legal processes are conducted in the name of the Law, which is transcendent; the last judgement is the manifestation of a transcendent principle in experience. Is it simply that what is transcendent in the first case is present and active in the latter, or is there a higher idea of Justice that has the same relation to Law as the Law has with us? If there is Justice above Law, then wouldnt the Last Judgement be the manifestation of Justice? In either case, however, whether its Law or Justice that appears in the Last Judgement, how can Kafka equate these transcendent ideas with martial law? The idea seems to be that martial law makes no appeal to anything higher than itself; it simply acts, without reference to a model. It doesnt act randomly or shapelessly; the operation of the army conditions it, but that military organization is a selfstructuring, internal principle that doesnt seek to manifest some transcendent idea. The army may draw on ideas like the Nation, but soldiers dont fight for the Nation they fight for their country; it may invoke values like Valor and Honor but these are values, while the Law is not exactly a value. Bringing time into it, I think Kafka means that we see the last judgement as final not because it is final, capable of rendering absolute decisions, but because we continue to think of time in

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metrical terms as something that ends. If we think of eternity, then what becomes of finality in any form, including final judgements? There were many church fathers, Origen for one, who believed that eventually even Satan himself would be redeemed, so where is finality of judgement? This would mean that martial law or the Court Martial is Kafkas conception of the principle of this kind of judgement under the aspect of eternity. It would also mean that the transcendent and the non-transcendent are already crashing into each other. N UMBER F ORTY-ONE Das Miverhltnis der Welt scheint trstlicherweise nur ein zahlenmiges zu sein. It is comforting to reflect that the disproportion of things in the world seems to be only arithmetical. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The disproportion of the world seems fortunately to be merely numerical. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Again, this one is marked cancelled in Hofmann but not in Kaiser/Wilkins. What is a non-numerical disproportion? A qualitative disproportion would mean some truths are truer or some beauties more saturated with beauty, but, in order to conceive of this, it would be necessary to come up with a way of thinking in terms of more or less without thinking of number at the same time. If motion is indivisible, then there can be no disproportion there unless we think in terms of higher and lower. I m not sure Kafka is thinking much about high and low. N UMBER F ORTY-TWO Den ekel- und haerfllten Kopf auf die Brust senken. Letting the head that is filled with disgust and hate droop on the breast. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

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To let ones hate- and disgust-filled head slump onto ones breast. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Its unclear to me whether or not it would be legitimate to identify the head with thinking and the breast with the heart and therefore with feeling; I dont think so, because there is nothing essentially rational about hatred. The image of the head sunk on the breast indicates submission, contrition, or exhaustion. The head is weighed down with a burden of hate and disgust, and to let it sink is to stop supporting it. Hate and disgust are a burden. Allowing the head to drop is not the same as banishing hate and disgust, but perhaps it is a necessary first step in that direction. N UMBER F ORTY-THREE Noch spielen die Jagdhunde im Hof, aber das Wild entgeht ihnen nicht, so sehr es jetzt schon durch die Wlder jagt. The hunting dogs are still romping in the yard, but the prey will not escape them, however much it may be stampeding through the woods even now. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The dogs are still playing in the yard, but the quarry will not escape them, never mind how fast it is running through the forest already. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The prey cant escape because it is prey, already. Kafkas stories return to the image of this kind of cancelled action, like the country doctor being whisked away from his house, and then hurtling through space at the storys end. In a way, the prey is bringing its capture about, because you cant chase what isnt running away. By running away, it makes itself prey. The dogs would kill it even if it weren t running away, but this isnt about killing, its about being hunted. If the quarry stays put, or even tries to fight, then, whether or not it s killed, it hasnt quite been hunted, because hunting means tracking down and catching in flight. This aphorism treats this as if it were a magic

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spell, that what is running therefore makes itself vulnerable to whatever runs down running things. Trying to avoid something still entails getting into a relationship with it. N UMBER F ORTY-F OUR Lcherlich hast du dich aufgeschirrt fr diese Welt. A ridiculous way you have girded yourself up for this world. [Kaiser/Wilkins] You have girded your loins in a most laughable way for this world. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Is this an aphorism or only a bit of wry self-deprecation? Its interesting to note that in both cases the translators felt obliged to add the word way, making the manner of the girding into the topic, rather than the girding itself. This would mean that there is a nonlaughable way to gird yourself up for this world. Girding up, protecting yourself. Is this laughable because it s been badly done, or because youre fooling yourself, imagining that you can get through life without pain, or at least without serious injury? I think the gist of this is self-reflexive; look at how you see yourself as separate from the world, standing off to the side in a little sanctuary, readying yourself to go out and face life like a soldier strapping on armor. It isnt clear from this, though, whether the problem is a mismatch between the attitude and the one taking it, or the attitude alone. Is it ridiculous for someone like Kafka to come at life this way, but not for someone else? Or is it always ridiculous? In the first case, this is an objection intended to restore someone from delusion to self-knowledge, while in the second case, this is a comment about life. N UMBER F ORTY-F IVE Je mehr Pferde du anspannst, desto rascher gehts - nmlich nicht das Ausreien des Blocks aus dem Fundament, was unmglich ist, aber das Zerreien der Riemen und damit die leere frhliche Fahrt.

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The more horses you harness to the job, the faster the thing goes that is to say, not tearing the block out of its base, which is impossible, but tearing the straps to shreds, and as a result the weightless merry journey. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The more horses you put to, the faster your progress not of course in the removal of the cornerstone from the foundations, which is impossible, but in the tearing of the harness, and your resultant riding cheerfully off into space. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The more you strain to move the block, the faster you ll go when the straps break. So more force means more speed, but not more effectiveness. Its comical to think of someone gaily zooming along, thinking hes dragging the block behind him all the while. What you really want here: thats the question. If you want to move the block, thats impossible, so why try? Only to prove impossibility? If you want to fly, why bother with the block? The desire, then, must be to be released from the block, to feel the maximum effort has been made. Wouldnt that be the same as achieving the point of no return? Having made the greatest possible effort, you are now free. The only question then is, whether or not you have made the greatest possible effort, or if you might be able to do more. How much is enough? What is the block holding up? Why are you trying to pull it down? If the block is only an abstraction representing any arduous task, then the aphorism is more or less saying that the harder you try, the sooner youll be done, one way or the other. The addressee is the informal you, so I imagine Kafka saying this to himself. You keep making these supreme efforts, he seems to be saying, but is that really because you want to succeed, or is it because you want to break down and be done with it finally? In that case, wouldnt the more correct course of action call for less effort rather than more? Even though the task is impossible anyway? Or is it that you need to think of effort differently, not in terms of greater force, more struggle, but some other way? Perhaps the greater effort is not made by pulling harder, but by paying more attention, and finding the right route?

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N UMBER F ORTY-S IX Das Wort sein bedeutet im Deutschen beides: Dasein und Ihmgehren. In German, the word sein stands both for the verb to be and for the possessive pronoun his. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The German word sein signifies both to be there and to belong to Him. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This is a reflection on the German language, perhaps implying that it tacitly equates existence with a kind of slavery, or at the very least that it conjures up for itself the idea of being in the form of a relationship to another. We have to wonder if one meaning is meant to subside beneath the other, if they are being strictly equated, or if they are two different meanings to be held side by side. If they are equated, then does that mean that the usual idea of being is somehow deconcretized into a relationship only, or that the relationship is made concrete? As I said earlier, there are really serious quagmires to be waded into when it comes to the idea of having. What does belonging to him (or Him) entail? Duties, responsibilities, expectations ... But is this only a one-way relationship, or is there something binding on the other side, whatever that is? This aphorism noses a little in the direction of God without losing any ambivalence; Kafka knew Czech as well as German. There are other languages. N UMBER F ORTY-S EVEN Es wurde ihnen die Wahl gestellt, Knige oder der Knige Kuriere zu werden. Nach Art der Kinder wollten alle Kuriere sein. Deshalb gibt es lauter Kuriere, sie jagen durch die Welt und rufen, da es keine Knige gibt, einander selbst die sinnlos gewordenen Meldungen zu. Gerne wrden sie ihrem elenden Leben ein Ende machen, aber sie wagen es nicht wegen des Diensteides. They were given the choice of becoming kings or the kings messengers. As is the way with children, they all wanted to be messengers. That is why there are only messengers, racing through

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the world and, since there are no kings, calling out to each other the messages that have now become meaningless. They would gladly put an end to their miserable life, but they do not dare to do so because of their oath of loyalty. [Kaiser/Wilkins] They were offered the choice between being kings and being royal envoys. Like children, they all wanted to be envoys. This is why there are so many envoys chasing through the world, shouting for the want of kingsthe most idiotic messages to one another. They would willingly end their miserable lives, but because of their oaths of duty, they dont dare to. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Why is this childish? Dont children play-act at being kings all the time? But maybe thats the point; the messenger play-acts at being king insofar as he speaks the kings words in the name of the king. This reminds me of Nietzsches criticism of Hegels idea of power; Hegel wrote that man wants acknowledgement of his power by other men, that this basically is power. Nietzsche said this is to mistake the emblems of power for power itself, as if snatching the crown from off the kings head and clapping it on yours would mean everyone had to do as you say. It would mean that power had to ask permission from someone else, or to put it more accurately, from everyone else, in order to be power. Childish people, and there are no other kind, don t want real power but only its trappings. They turn going through the motions into the only form of motion, but its a pointless dispersal of energy. Who offered them the choice and extracted the oath from them? The oath is part of the emblems of powerin adhering to it they are choosing to have no choice; they want to escape this life by committing suicide, but not by simply walking away. Their mistake is clinging to the emblems of power instead of giving it up. Theyre weirdly insisting on a subordination that doesn t exist, like religious fanatics who claim they act for God, not themselves, and so make God the author of all their misdeeds. There is also a parallel with the law, which used to be considered a codification of Gods will, and which came to be an independent power in its own right. The law as such is just an empty word that is used to justify the implementation of certain rules, but what justifies law as such is a mystery, or just a sham.

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N UMBER F ORTY-E IGHT An Fortschritt glauben heit nicht glauben, da ein Fortschritt schon geschehen ist. Das wre kein Glauben. Believing in progress does not mean believing that progress has yet been made. That is not the sort of belief that indicates real faith. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Belief in progress doesnt mean belief in progress that has already occurred. That would not require belief. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Post hoc ergo propter hoc. This disengages the idea of progress from the past entirely, showing how progress is a judgement, an interpretation, rather than an empirical observation. Simply because things have developed in the past, it does not follow that things will continue to develop in the future. This might then mean that belief in progress has to address all of time. Applied to the idea of wayfaring, this means that going along the way is not a matter of clearing distance and making a certain amount of progress, but of being oriented in what one believes is the direction of improvement. N UMBER F ORTY-N INE A. ist ein Virtuose und der Himmel ist sein Zeuge. A. is a virtuoso and heaven is his witness. [Kaiser/Wilkins] A. is a virtuoso, and Heaven is his witness. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY We could take this as an observation one person makes about another, but in that case, how would we be in a position to designate heaven a witness? I assume that virtuoso means more than an expert musician, but a virtuous person. For the Greek philosophers and mythologers, any excellence was the signature of some god or other; if we think of virtuosity this way, then you can t be a virtuoso unless the gods allow it. This is much like the weird Christian idea of grace. It amounts to saying that even moral

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excellence cant be imputed to you, but only bestowed on you from its source, which, at least to me, eliminates you from consideration altogether. You cant even argue that you received excellence because you deserved it, since deserving it would mean being excellent on your own; if its possible for you to be excellent on your own, then any divinely-bestowed excellence would be superfluous, and if you cant be excellent on your own, then heaven bestows excellence on some other basis, or no basis. How can you know that you are virtuous? You can try to be good, but how do you know if youre succeeding? Kafka doesnt say virtuous, he says A. is a virtuoso, which implies skill. If heaven witnesses skill, and if witnessing implies approval, then what matters isnt moral attainment but skillfulness, which is consistent with other aphorisms. N UMBER F IFTY Der Mensch kann nicht leben ohne ein dauerndes Vertrauen zu etwas Unzerstrbarem in sich, wobei sowohl das Unzerstrbare als auch das Vertrauen ihm dauernd verborgen bleiben knnen. Eine der Ausdrucksmglichkeiten dieses Verborgenbleibens ist der Glaube an einen persnlichen Gott. Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructable in himself, though both the indestructable element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him. One of the ways in which this hiddenness can express itself is through faith in a personal god. [Kaiser/Wilkins] A man cannot live without a steady faith in something indestructable within him, though both the faith and the indestructable thing may remain permanently concealed from him. One of the forms of this concealment is the belief in a personal god. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kaiser/Wilkins marks this one cancelled. What is necessary in order to live, the practical, will be true from a human point of view, but whether or not it amounts to objective truth is not something that can be made to depend on its being necessary.

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The word dauernd(es) is used first to express the constancy of belief, and then to express the constancy with which both the object of this faith and the faith itself are concealed. This might remotely imply a common actor in each case, making the belief and its concealment the work of one actor, man. If not, then one would be doing the believing and another the hiding. Both translators choose to keep god in the lowercase, although I believe the original wording would justify a capitalized God just as well; the lowercase god would be any god, while uppercase would indicate the God of monotheism. This aphorism appears to say that man projects what he needs to believe indestructable about himself into another being, perhaps in order to put it out of reach of destruction; this also masks the true nature of the belief. One thinks one believes in God, but really believes in the self. What changes is made to depend on what doesnt change, while depending on change itself is apparently too alarming an idea. Bergson wrote extensively about this problem, but I have no reason to think Kafka had read Bergson. In brief, Bergson maintained that the self exists solely as a continuous flux, but that it is more practically expedient to ignore this and think of it as fixed; change is understood as a succession of fixed impressions, rather than as a continuous flow, and so the continuity of one moment to the next, past and present, has to be supplied by another means, which is the fiction of the stable self as a kind of stage on which these fixed impressions come and go. The stage is beyond the reach of change, and so it is indestructable. This is ultimately what is meant by the idea of the soul, and with that idea comes God too. Just as there are fixed impressions succeeding each other on a stage in the soul, so there are fixed souls succeeding each other in the greater unfolding of time, and the stage on which that happens is God. God is to the many distinct human souls, from this point of view, what the soul is to the many different fixed impressions of life. Same scheme. This aphorism doesnt bear directly on the existence of God or even of what is indestructable since it only deals with what people need to believe.

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N UMBER F IFTY-ONE Es bedurfte der Vermittlung der Schlange: das Bse kann den Menschen verfhren, aber nicht Mensch werden. The mediation by the serpent was necessary: Evil can seduce man, but cannot become man. [Kaiser/Wilkins] It took the intercession of the serpent: Evil can seduce a man, but not become human. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Both translations mark this aphorism cancelled. So the indestructable part mentioned in the previous aphorism is actually what is human, and precisely this would be the divine endowment. Evil is never total, but must coexist with good. This aphorism suggests to me that Kafka was trying to make sense of the story of the fall, specifically to account for the involvement of the serpent. If man falls through his own failing, then why include a seducer as well? Why complicate matters by making man the accomplice of an inhuman agency? It must be because goodness cant be goodness, nor can it be as innocent of any concept of evil as Adam and Eve were, and yet give rise to evil somehow. Evil requires contamination from an external source. Its interesting that the word used here was Vermittlung, which can mean arrangement, and even translates to office on some occasions. Mediation or intercession are words that strike me as pretty strictly geometrical and abstract, touching only on the position of the serpent, but these other possibilities put the serpent in the position of an arranger or official. It is interesting to speculate what this perhaps unintended nuance might mean when we think of Kafkas courts and castles. There is in each case a mediation between a foreground figure, albeit one whose availability to us as readers should not be taken for granted simply on that account, and another agency so remote that it can t even be included in the farthest reaches of the background: the law, the judge, the castle. Between the attenuated foreground and utterly obscure background yawns a boundless middle ground of mediation, offices, messengers, specialist amateurs, other clients, support staff ...

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Its tempting to say that everything gets lost in mediation, until you try to get a handle on the foreground or background figures; then you find they are so entirely lacking in anything of their own that it is only in mediation that they begin to take on outlines. Obviously, what lies beyond the court or the castle is so far off and obscure that its existence can only be taken on faith, but who was Josef K. before he was accused? Even the details of his former life are revealed only in the oblique light of the court, and his existence after the accusation was made is understood entirely in terms of his connection to the court. The K of The Castle is even more of a sphinx; there is nothing even remotely like a satisfactory psychological accounting for his actions. Any adaptation of either novel that insists on casting these characters as protagonists in any way will fail. Why was this aphorism cancelled? I think it must have been because Kafka doesnt want to make such a strong connection between the folkloric figure of the devil and the mediation that so interests him. Is mediation evil? Even if it doesn t set itself the task of destroying others, doesnt exhibit any malice? So perhaps this is something he wanted to work out a bit further. N UMBER F IFTY-TWO Im Kampf zwischen dir und der Welt sekundiere der Welt. In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world. [Kaiser/Wilkins] In the struggle between yourself and the world, hold the world s coat. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kaiser/Wilkins marks this one cancelled, while Hofmann does not. Huh? The superficial and not particularly interesting meaning is obvious enough: the world is more powerful than you are, so a fight with the world is one youre bound to lose. In a duel, however, the seconds task is to bear witness; he is there to make sure the fight is conducted fairly. With that in mind, the aphorism would mean instead that, in your struggle with the

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world, its your own cheating, not the worlds, that you have to watch for. N UMBER F IFTY-THREE Man darf niemanden betrgen, auch nicht die Welt um ihren Sieg. One must not cheat anyone, not even the world of its victory. [Kaiser/Wilkins] It is wrong to cheat, even if it is the world of its victory. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This seems to be a clarification of the point Kafka wished to make in the previous aphorism; here the idea of struggling with the world is less conspicuous and dominating. What would cheating be, and whats wrong with it? To me, it seems as if cheating, in this case, is falseness. On the one hand, this might be taken in a conventional sense to mean that one must not be selfish, but on the other hand, it might mean that presenting yourself falsely, playing yourself rather than being yourself, is wrong. What is the victory of the world, and why do I assume previous aphorism notwithstandingthat its victory is a victory over me? Is the court victorious when Josef K. is killed? Is the castle victorious to the extent that it keeps K. from entering it? Is the gatekeeper victorious when he shuts the door to the law? In The Trial, Josef K. is apparently in a contest with the court, but it isn t clear that the court in any way recognizes him as an opponant it wishes to destroy. The conflict seems to be largely Josef K. s own invention, but not entirely. Even when he is killed, he seems to have compelled the court to take drastic measures by his own actions, and the executioners pass the knife back and forth over him apparently with the expectation that he will seize it and kill himself. It isnt all in Josef K.s headhe is arrested, the court is real, the executioners are real. Would he have been cheating if he had tried to conduct his case in the usual way, as a client or defendant? He does not cheat in his resistance to the court; it would be playing along that would have been cheating.

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The court has to destroy a real person, not a phantom. If it didnt, it wouldnt be a court. To exist, the world needs victories, and therefore needs losers. N UMBER F IFTY-F OUR Es gibt nichts anderes als eine geistige Welt - was wir sinnliche Welt nennen, ist das Bse in der geistigen, und was wir bse nennen, ist nur eine Notwendigkeit eines Augenblicks unserer ewigen Entwicklung. Mit strkstem Licht kann man die Welt auflsen. Vor schwachen Augen wird sie fest, vor noch schwcheren bekommt sie Fuste, vor noch schwcheren wird sie schamhaft und zerschmettert den, der sie anzuschauen wagt. There is nothing besides a spiritual world; what we call the world of the senses is the Evil in the spiritual world, and what we call Evil is only the necessity of a moment in our eternal evolution. || One can distintegrate the world by means of very strong light. For weak eyes the world becomes solid, for still weaker eyes it seems to develop fists, for eyes weaker still it becomes shamefaced and smashes anyone who dares to gaze upon it. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The world is only ever a constructed world; what we call the sensual world is Evil in the constructed world, and what we call Evil is only a fleeting necessity in our eternal development. || With a very strong light, one can make the world disappear. Before weak eyes it will become solid; before still weaker eyes, it will acquire fists; and to eyes yet weaker, it will be embarrassed and punch the face of anyone who dares to look at it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kaiser/Wilkins marks the section represented here as following the two vertical lines (||) cancelled, while Hofmann preserves the separation into parts without any indicated cancellation. I always have the same problem with formulations like these, that X is evil and that what we call evil is Y. Does this mean that senses and senses alone are really evil, and that what we call evil is actually only a necessity? Or does it telescope, one into another, so senses are evil and evil is necessity, hence senses are necessity? I think the former is meant, although its hard to say why. Being able to say why will entail being able to understand the aphorism.

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The world is a generalization not found in experience, rather it is the presumptive stage on which a series of experiences is supposed to unfold. The sensual, and the word has the same connotations in German as in English, is Evil, which is to say, what carries us away. What we call evil is a necessity, something that cant be avoided and consequently can t be considered evil in consistency with the usual ideas of morality. In our endless process of maturation, there arise these moments that flash by too quickly to see, and our reflex reactions to these sudden moments are what we call evil. So the real evil is the sensual, becoming lost to oneself in the sensory world, and not the reflex adjustments to sudden events. The word translated moment above is Augenblick, which borrows from the rapidity of glances and blinks of the eye; the eye comes back again on its own in the separated section. The world, which can only be a mental world, is dissolved in strong light. It s a curious idea; at first he seems to be saying that the world looks different to progressively weaker eyes but by the end he seems to mean that the world reacts to being looked at differently by weaker eyes. The world might seem passive at first, but takes an active role and an affect by the end. Strong light, the strongest, might be divine, or it might be the light of the strictest reason or self-consciousness, which dissolves the sensual world because it recognizes it as a representation. The light being truth or understanding, something like that, will take apart that world and perhaps render it down to its constituent elements, reversing an unconscious world-fashioning. The weak are not deprived of the light, but of the eyes to see it. The light makes the mental world seem solid to weak eyes, and the word for solid, fest, which foreshadows Fuste, can also mean fixed. So it may be that the weak eyed thinker is using unchanging generalities or perceives the sensual world as unchanging. Weaker still are those who conflict with their sensory worlds, and weaker still are those who imagine that they can fight with their own sensory world as if it were not their own creation but an inimical external presence. The difficulty in the cancelled section is the idea of weakness, which seems to have no lower limit. There doesn t seem to be a correspondingly clear position of strength.

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N UMBER F IFTY-F IVE Alles ist Betrug: das Mindestma der Tuschungen suchen, im blichen bleiben, das Hchstma suchen. Im ersten Fall betrgt man das Gute, indem man sich dessen Erwerbung zu leicht machen will, das Bse, indem man ihm allzu ungnstige Kampfbedingungen setzt. Im zweiten Fall betrgt man das Gute, indem man also nicht einmal im Irdischen nach ihm strebt. Im dritten Fall betrgt man das Gute, indem man sich mglichst weit von ihm entfernt, das Bse, indem man hofft, durch seine Hchststeigerung es machtlos zu machen. Vorzuziehen wre also hiernach der zweite Fall, denn das Gute betrgt man immer, das Bse in diesem Fall, wenigstens dem Anschein nach, nicht. Everything is deception: seeking the minimum of illusion, keeping within the ordinary limitations, seeking the maximum. In the first case one cheats the Good, by trying to make it too easy for oneself to get it, and the Evil by imposing all too unfavorable conditions of warfare on it. In the second case one cheats the Good by not striving for it even in earthly terms. In the third case one cheats the Good by keeping as aloof from it as possible, and the Evil by hoping to make it powerless through intensifying it to the utmost. What would therefore seem to be preferable is the second case, for the Good is always cheated, and in this case, or at least to judge by appearances, the Evil is not cheated. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Everything is deception: the question of whether to seek the least amount of deception, or the mean, or to seek out the highest. In the first instance, you will cheat goodness by making it too easy to acquire, and Evil by imposing too unfavorable conditions on it. In the second instance, you cheat goodness by failing to strive for it in this earthly life. In the third instance, you cheat goodness by removing yourself from it as far as you can, and Evil by maximizing it in a bid to reduce its impact. Accordingly, the second option is the one to go for, because you always cheat goodness, butin this case at least, or so it would seemnot Evil. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Hofmann seems to have decided that Kafka should have an anachronistically modern tone here, with going for this and impact that.

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The word translated here as illusion or deception, Betrug, really means cheating. There is no avoiding it. Refusing to cheat makes being good too easy, which is to say that goodness needs to prevail over temptations or trials, which does not mean to win the trial (in that case the victory belongs to the self), but to endure the trial and play the game without any possibility or thought of winning or losing. No trial, nothing for evil to work with or to be good about. The good becomes too light an acquisition. The value of the good is in the labor. Meanwhile, youve made yourself too hard for Evil to get. One must be fair to Evil. Perhaps ruling out deception makes you too passive; you re a good fellow, but automatically, not by choice. Sticking to ordinary levels of cheating (literally, to go on as usual) means accepting that cheating happens. That means you arent even trying to achieve what the world defines as good. Doing less than all you can in order to be good is not good, because the good is an absolute that demands total commitment. Cheating as much as possible is another form of cheating, since it is something one does willingly only in order to try to overcome it anyway, but it cant be done without excessive neglect to the good. Its an attempt to out-cheat cheating. Both this extreme and the extreme minimization of cheating are forms of impatience, trying to have done with the problem rather than living with it. If cheating is evil, then goodness must not cheat. If cheating is avoided, that cheats the cheaters and makes goodness ungood. To be good, goodness must forgo all cheating and allow itself to be completely cheated. Everything evil does is cheating, even to the extent of cheating itself. So, the middle way is better, because it allows the good to remain the good without abolishing evil. N UMBER F IFTY-S IX Es gibt Fragen, ber die wir nicht hinwegkommen knnten, wenn wir nicht von Natur aus von ihnen befreit wren. There are questions we could not get past if we were not set free from them by our very nature. [Kaiser/Wilkins] There are questions we could never get past, were it not that we are freed of them by nature. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY Hinwegkommen can mean to get over, as in getting over a disappointment; Natur can mean character or disposition. Questions stop us from going on, but it is possible to get past a question You can be freed of it by your natureso what does that mean? It might refer to the way that some questions or problems are resolved more by time than by thinking or by making decisions; it might mean that your power to be affected by a certain question might change. It might mean that your nature answers for you. But while these common sense ideas are there in the thought-background, they dont seem to me to get the point. How does the question stop me? A missing clue or link in a chain of speculative reasoning is one sort of barrier to further progress, but then there are questions you can t answer, such as the question of marriage. Kierkegaard wrote: get married, and you will regret it; stay single, and you will regret it; get married or stay single, you will regret it either way. So is marriage the problem or is it regretting? Assuming regret has a point at all, it must be to warn you away from a something that will lead to bad consequences; here, bordering on nonsense, you have only a hairsplitting choice between two kinds of regret. While such questions may stop you, you don t need to come up with an answer to keep moving again; and moving on is not necessarily just quitting, giving up on the question. This means that resolving the question is not necessary for getting past it or over it; you can go on without resolving it. In that case, going on doesn t mean leaving the question behind, but going on with it somehow. The man from the country is stopped by the open door of the law, which is closed only when he dies. N UMBER F IFTY-S EVEN Die Sprache kann fr alles auerhalb der sinnlichen Welt nur andeutungsweise, aber niemals auch nur annhernd vergleichsweise gebraucht werden, da sie, entsprechend der sinnlichen Welt, nur vom Besitz und seinen Beziehungen handelt. For everything outside the phenomenal world, language can only be used allusively, but never even approximately in a comparative way, since, corresponding as it does to the phenomenal world, it is concerned only with property and its relations. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

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Language can be used only very obliquely of things outside the physical world, not even metaphorically, since all it knows to do according to the nature of the physical world is to treat of ownership and its relations. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY I prefer the conservatism of the Kaiser/Wilkins translation of this one. Sinnlich refers to the senses, which makes phenomenal the closer translation. The sensory world can include things that are not physical, if I can be said, for example, to sense images in my imagination. One can use language to describe extrasensory things only indirectly, by suggestion, not by comparison, because language answers to property. Metaphor is not comparison, it is identity. The lake is a mirror. The passion is a fire. The two are one. Here, the two are not one, and not even connectable by means of some common trait, the way a simile might connect them. The sensory world is the world of having, and even in the simplest sense of having an impression, a view, a hearing, a taste. The nonsensory world includes what? Is it only what can t be possessed, which would mean (I think) the world of being, rather than having? The problem arises directly from the instrumental root of language; if language develops principally as a practical tool, then it will be entirely bound to potential action for practical ends, particularly acquisitive ends. Language designates what is but it arises out of what we want. Remove potential action from consideration, as Bergson says, and everything settles back into a single undifferentiated continuity of existing. N UMBER F IFTY-E IGHT Man lgt mglichst wenig, nur wenn man mglichst wenig lgt, nicht wenn man mglichst wenig Gelegenheit dazu hat. One tells as few lies as possible only by telling as few lies as possible, and not by having the least possible opportunity to do so. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The way to tell fewest lies is to tell fewest lies, not to give oneself the fewest opportunities of telling lies. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY Both translations mark this aphorism cancelled. It seems entirely straightforward, which might have made it too one-sided to be worthwhile. I wonder if telling lies is equivalent to cheating in the preceding aphorisms. If so, then the idea of avoiding or burning out evil would be a matter of giving oneself fewest opportunities, rather than simply not telling lies. N UMBER F IFTY-N INE Eine durch Schritte nicht tief ausgehhlte Treppenstufe ist, von sich selber aus gesehen, nur etwas de zusammengefgtes Hlzernes. A stair not worn hollow by footsteps is, regarded from its own point of view, only a boring something made of wood. [Kaiser/Wilkins] To its own way of seeing, a wooden stair moderately hollowed out by peoples footfalls is just some knocked-together article of wood. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This aphorism is marked cancelled in both translations. Does this mean that only the used stair knows its a stair? Or that the unused stair despises itself for being useless? Kafka s fiction is full of inanimate things that seem to be parts of other things, or parts of a system, about which it has only secondhand or otherwise sketchy information. It is an example of a thing that is stripped down apparently to nothing but function, which is then also stripped of function. Odradek, the odd wooden thing, might be one of those nameless, ad hoc machine parts you sometimes come across in the entrails of a car or a clock; it isnt an artifact with a real name, like a cog or a gear, it may not be an artifact. This aphorism is cancelled, and I think I see why. Theres some activity in it, but not enough. N UMBER S IXTY Wer der Welt entsagt, mu alle Menschen lieben, denn er entsagt auch ihrer Welt. Er beginnt daher, das wahre menschliche Wesen zu ahnen, das nicht anders als geliebt werden kann, vorausgesetzt, da man ihm ebenbrtig ist.

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Anyone who renounces the world must love all men, for he renounces their world too. He thus begins to have some inkling of the true nature of man, which cannot but be loved, always assuming that one is its peer. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Whoever renounces the world must love humanity, because he is also renouncing their world. Accordingly, he will begin to have a true sense of human nature, which is incapable of anything but being lovedassuming, that is, that one is on the same footing as it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This says that, when someone renounces the world, he or she doesnt give up only his or her world, but the world of humanity as such. This means that the renunciate doesnt retire to a private world, but either gives up any world, or enters into some higher, superhuman world that is not his or hers. Perhaps this means that renouncing the world is not just giving it up, but giving it as a gift; which would mean in turn that the renunciate doesn t turn from the world as a worthless mistake or an illusion. The world would therefore be renounced even as it is acknowledged to be a true value. It could be that Kafka means the world may depend in part on renunciates, because they contend with the whole world as such and so bring the whole world into experience. The result of this is a better understanding of what humanity is, presumably by seeing how humanity understands the world, which can only be a concept, being too big and old to fit into human experience. Being a peer of mankindand ebenbrtig can mean evenly matched as well, so this equivalence is not necessarily a peaceful one!is necessary if one is to be in a condition of loving mankind. That means that the renunciate, who loves humanity, must continue to be human or at least at a human level. The renunciation doesnt make him an angel, it makes him or requires of him that he be a lover of mankind. Mankind can only be loved, but only by a peer, which might not mean another human, it need only mean someone at a human level. Loving mankind doesnt make you human, but only a peer of humanity, as it makes it possible for you to renounce the world. Kafka seems to be saying that every lover of mankind must renounce the world. I don t think he means that you have to renounce mankind in order to love it,

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but that it if you love it, you must renounce it in order to be its peer, which is necessary in order to go on loving it. Why cant you hate mankind? Is it because hating mankind is still very human, while loving mankind seems to be superhuman? Why cant you be indifferent to mankind? Is it because that indifference is only a kind of subhumanity, which puts you below the level of mankind? There might be overtones here of the previous aphorism about cheating, too much, too little, in the middle. N UMBER S IXTY-ONE Wer innerhalb der Welt seinen Nchsten liebt, tut nicht mehr und nicht weniger Unrecht, als wer innerhalb der Welt sich selbst liebt. Es bliebe nur die Frage, ob das erstere mglich ist. Anyone who loves his neighbor within the limits of the world is doing no more and no less injustice than someone who loves himself within the limits of the world. There remains only the question whether the former is possible. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Whoever in this world loves his neighbor does just as much and just as little wrong as who in this world loves himself. Remains the question whether the former is possible. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Both translations mark this aphorism cancelled. ... innerhalb der Welt is the component that seems to require the most attention. It is important enough that Kafka insistently repeats it, so his topic is not love, but loving within the world. This might link up with the previous aphorism; so that loving within the limits, in an ordinary way, is not really different in character from self love. He touches on, but I think unintentionally, the idea that we can mistake self love for love of others. The main idea here, though, is that loving the self and loving others within the world is neither here nor there, if the latter is even possible. Loving outside the world, I assume here as a renunciate, is the variation in love that would get the one beyond this indeterminate state of value, neither more or less unjust. Put another way: favoring you is not that different from favoring me, if we re both elements in the

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world. Perhaps, only when leaving the world behind for good do you move on to the level of loving all mankind, and so to a kind of love in which self-love and love of the neighbor are different in an important way? N UMBER S IXTY-TWO Die Tatsache, da es nichts anderes gibt als eine geistige Welt, nimmt uns die Hoffnung und gibt uns die Gewiheit. The fact that there is nothing but a spiritual world deprives us of hope and gives us certainty. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The fact that the only world is a constructed world takes away hope and gives us certainty. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Namely, I suppose, the certainty that all we see is coming from within us, and therefore nothing can be that isn t somehow already figured in us. Hope and certainty are not compatible, and there is plainly an exchange of them implying equivalency. Being before the law one hopes for law, but without certainty. The constructed world is a closed set, but being constructed and being spiritual are not exactly the same although the difference may not matter here. Hope seems to belong to another world which must be inaccessible in order to belong to hope; any accessible place is not hoped for, its only farther away. Going there will not satisfy your hopes but only alter your location. Satisfying your hopes is a miraculous and incalculable thing that cannot be accounted for even if it happens. N UMBER S IXTY-THREE Unsere Kunst ist ein von der Wahrheit Geblendet-Sein: Das Licht auf dem zurckweichenden Fratzengesicht ist wahr, sonst nichts. Our art is a way of being dazzled by truth: the light on the grotesquely grimacing retreating face is true, and nothing else. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

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Our art is an art that is dazzled by truth: the light shed on the rapidly fleeing grimace is truenothing else is. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Only the light is true; the grimace or face are not, and perhaps neither is its yielding or backward motion. It s interesting that both translators feel the need to insert an adverb of their own before zurckweichenden, which means to yield backwards or behind. Kafka directly invokes neither rapidity or grotesqueness. By choosing to emphasize the grimace itself, Hofmann discards the face, -gesicht, which makes it. The light shed on the grimace itself might be, at least, the registration of some suffering, if we include in suffering other such negative possibilities as disgust or anger. Whereas, the idea here seems to be that the face itself is yielding as it grimaces, being drawn away from the hypothetical witness, not so obviously in flight, but only going back. What I see as I read this is the grimacing face retreating without turning away, whereas, with a rapidly fleeting grimace it is the expression that moves across the stationary face. Is this light on the grimacing face the same dazzling light mentioned in the first half of the aphorism, or is it a contrast? We in our art, or skillfulness, are only good at dazzling ourselves with a truth whose light we cant really see by, and so it is all too much like blindness. The real light is a faint light that only momentarily illuminates an expression of pain or rejection, which, as it pulls away from us, denies us any opportunity to address it or otherwise enter into some exchange with it. Perhaps it retreats not from the witness but from the light; this could mean that the truth is that disappointment or unpleasantness of reality not viciousness, just nastinesswhich comes out when you look for it. There may be here a tacit criticism of the sort of art that ostentatiously aims at the heights, instead of more humbly, but perhaps on the other hand more arrogantly, probes the depths. Truth is supposed to grant sight, not deprive or injure sight, and the analogy to light is made plain in the second half our skill is to be blinded by truth, perhaps to show truth in all its brilliance even as it overwhelms us and therefore cannot be fully seen, or seen at allthere is another analogy, between truth as blinding light and law as the open but impassible door.

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N UMBER S IXTY-F OUR/S IXTY-F IVE Die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies ist in ihrem Hauptteil ewig: Es ist also zwar die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies endgltig, das Leben in der Welt unausweichlich, die Ewigkeit des Vorganges aber (oder zeitlich ausgedrckt: die ewige Wiederholung des Vorgangs) macht es trotzdem mglich, da wir nicht nur dauernd im Paradiese bleiben knnten, sondern tatschlich dort dauernd sind, gleichgltig ob wir es hier wissen oder nicht. Expulsion from Paradise is in its main aspect eternal: that is to say, although expulsion from Paradise is final, and life in the world unavoidable, the eternity of the process (or, expressed in temporal terms, the eternal repetition of the process) nevertheless makes it possible not only that we might remain in Paradise permanently, but that we may in fact be there permanently, no matter whether we know it here or not. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The Expulsion from Paradise is eternal in its principal aspect: this makes it irrevocable, and our living in this world inevitable, but the eternal nature of the process has the effect that not only could we remain forever in Paradise, but that we are currently there, whether we know it or not. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY I dont know, but I guess that number sixty-four ends at the colon, and number sixty-five is the expansion after it. If paradise as a condition is eternal, and therefore outside ordinary clock time, then to be there once is to be there always. So there is eternal presence in paradise, and eternal expulsion from Paradise. In that case, the question would not be how to find the way back, but how to realize the extent to which you are still there. To be in paradise without knowing it is not expulsion, and if that is possible, then it shows paradise is not only a state of mind. Paradise might be defined as an eternal place you get expelled from. The door is open and the man doesnt go through; in this case, you are in paradise but you must leave, forever be leaving it. This is like the inverse of the castle, isnt it? Or is it that the way to belong to the castle is to try to get inside it, without success?

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N UMBER S IXTY-S IX Er ist ein freier und gesicherter Brger der Erde, denn er ist an eine Kette gelegt, die lang genug ist, um ihm alle irdischen Rume frei zu geben, und doch nur so lang, da nichts ihn ber die Grenzen der Erde reien kann. Gleichzeitig aber ist er auch ein freier und gesicherter Brger des Himmels, denn er ist auch an eine hnlich berechnete Himmelskette gelegt. Will er nun auf die Erde, drosselt ihn das Halsband des Himmels, will er in den Himmel, jenes der Erde. Und trotzdem hat er alle Mglichkeiten und fhlt es; ja, er weigert sich sogar, das Ganze auf einen Fehler bei der ersten Fesselung zurckzufhren. He is a free and secure citizen of this earth, for he is attached to a chain that is long enough to make all areas of the earth accessible to him, and yet only so long that nothing can pull him over the edges of the earth. At the same time, however, he is also a free and secure citizen of heaven, for he is also attached to a similarly calculated heavenly chain. Thus, if he wants to get down to earth, he is choked by the heavenly collar and chain; if he wants to get into heaven, he is choked by the earthly one. And in spite of this he has all the possibilities, and feels that it is so; indeed, he even refuses to attribute the whole thing to a mistake in the original chaining. [Kaiser/Wilkins] He is a free and secure citizen of the world because he is on a chain that is long enough to allow him access to all parts of the earth, and yet not so long that he could be swept over the edge of it. At the same time he is also a free and secure citizen of heaven because he is also attached to a similar heavenly chain. If he wants to go to earth, the heavenly manacles will throttle him, if he wants to go to heaven, the earthly manacles will. But for all that, all possibilities are open to him, as he is well aware, yes, he even refuses to believe the whole thing is predicated on a mistake going back to the time of his first enchainment. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Free and in chains; doubly free, on earth and in heaven, and doubly chained by each. His freedom in either domain is limited by the length of the chain, which luckily is no longer or shorter than is necessary to cover the entire earth right on up to but not over the edge. Since the heavenly chain is similar, that means he

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can go all over heaven, too, right up to the edge. Its unusual to think of heaven with an edge, but it must have at least one, to divide it from the earth. The word citizen has a sterile, abstract quality that doesn t do justice to the parochial nuance associated with Brger. The word suits the limitations of the chain. He has all the possibilities, even if he has no way of realizing them. This state of affairs, it seems to me, is the most characteristic of Kafka. It isnt just about being neither here nor there, because the person in question is always also both here and there, both already and neither one yet. Kafkas writing has far less to do with now and then, and deals almost exclusively with already and not yet. Again and again he divorces possibility and accomplishment, so that what is accomplished happens without apparently realizing any possibility, and what is possible will never happen, and yet not cease to be possible. What is possible can never happen, because it ceases to be a possibility the moment it is realized, but this is just a stupid logic trick. I dont believe Kafka wanted to waste his time pretending that reality abides by logic. Instead, I think he returns to this divorce because it is his experience, and readers return to Kafka because this is their experience as well; possibility becomes an endless game of keep-away. Mistake is another idea that looms over Kafkas writing. Mistakes are much less important than sins to the usual way of thinking, but in Kafka this seems to be reversed. Unnoticed and unconscious oversights are far more serious in their consequences than deliberate sins. Ordinarily, sin is attributed to man s failure to use his free will correctly, because mans will is corrupted. But to this other way of thinking, the problem isnt with mans will, or rather the problem isnt that man wills to have wrong things, but instead that man doesnt will consistently enough to pay sufficient attention to what hes doing so as to avoid mistakes. N UMBER S IXTY-S EVEN Er luft den Tatsachen nach wie ein Anfnger im Schlittschuhlaufen, der berdies irgendwo bt, wo es verboten ist. He runs after facts like a beginner learning to skate, who,

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furthermore, practices [Kaiser/Wilkins] somewhere where it is forbidden.

He runs after the facts like someone learning to skate, who furthermore practices where it is dangerous and has been forbidden. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Nothing about danger in the original. The novice skater travels in a series of headlong plunges or by scooting doggedly along in one direction. He particularly lacks lateral mobility. This suggests a way of moving that consists in identifying a series of points and connecting the dots. The ice may be forbidden because it is thin and therefore dangerous, but I think this buys us a link to Kafkas famous ice axe at the cost of too patent an explanation of the ban on skating. The problem isnt that the skater might or might not break the ice, but that he has already broken the rules. He might be more like Prometheus, who sees only the gift of fire he will make to humanity, but not the lateral possibilities of discovery and punishment; he is punished because his forethought failed. His foresight failed not because he did not anticipate his future torture, but because he allowed immediately present compassion to prompt his action without a thought for the future. Maybe the fact skater doesnt realize the facts are not the point or the end. N UMBER S IXTY-E IGHT Was ist frhlicher als der Glaube an einen Hausgott! What is gayer than believing in a household god? [Kaiser/Wilkins] Is there anything as blithe as believing in one s own household god? [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Presumably because household gods are human-sized, both particular and tribal, specifically attentive, and overall so far from the absolute. They are also found at home, rather than on a pilgrimage. It isnt necessary to follow a way to find them.

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But isnt the true way just as much the path between one room of the family home and another as it is the path between the town square and the sacred shrine? Dont those household gods take on a serious look sometime, and not the bathetic seriousness of a dog or a cat, but surprising seriousness? They re saying, I may be small, but even I come from the infinite. N UMBER S IXTY-N INE Theoretisch gibt es eine vollkommene Glcksmglichkeit: An das Unzerstrbare in sich glauben und nicht zu ihm streben. Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness: believing in the indestructable element in oneself and not striving towards it. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Theoretically, there is one consummate possibility of felicity: to believe in the indestructability in oneself, and then not to go looking for it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Theoretically, which is to say not only that Kafka does not claim to believe this himself, but that he is only willing to grant that it is provisionally possible. Kafka cannot fail to detect any gulf between theory and practice. Believing there is something in you that cannot be destroyed, rather than trying to achieve a measure of indestructability, is happiness, even perfect happiness. Not immortality; he says indestructability. Immortality is an existence without death, whereas a indestructable thing may meet with deadly adversity, but it shrugs it off or survives it. That happiness isn t neverending life, but confidence. N UMBER S EVENTY/S EVENTY-ONE Das Unzerstrbare ist eines; jeder einzelne Mensch ist es und gleichzeitig ist es allen gemeinsam, daher die beispiellos untrennbare Verbindung der Menschen. The indestructable is one: it is each individual human being and, at the same time, it is common to all, hence the incomparably

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indivisible union [Kaiser/Wilkins] that exists between human beings.

The indestructable is one thing; at one and the same time it is each individual, and it is something common to all; hence the uniquely indissoluble connection among mankind. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Individuality is the property, common to all, of difference, and our difference is what binds us together, since, if we were not different, there would be no reason to bind us together; we would not be bound to each other, we would be endless images of each other. N UMBER S EVENTY-TWO Es gibt im gleichen Menschen Erkenntnisse, die bei vlliger Verschiedenheit doch das gleiche Objekt haben, so da wieder nur auf verschiedene Subjekte im gleichen Menschen rckgeschlossen werden mu. In one and the same human being there are cognitions that, however utterly dissimilar they are, yet have one and the same object, so that one can only conclude that there are different subjects in one and the same human being. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The same person has perceptions that, for all their differences, have the same object, which leads one to infer that there are different subjects contained within one and the same person. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This aphorism is cancelled in each translation. It is the plurality of perceptions or cognitions within the same person (one could also say discoveries or realizations, so this should not necessarily be read with only simple understanding in mind), that compels us (we must deduce this, he says) to acknowledge a plurality of subjects within the same person. This means that every different state of mind is a different configuration of the same subject. I think this aphorism was cancelled because Kafka might have seen an undesirable contradiction in asserting the sameness and the

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serial differentiation of the subject at once. He might have decided that it would be more right to discard the idea of the same subject as a container for multiple subjects. Moreover, if there are multiple mind states discerning the object, then how is it possible to speak with confidence about it being the same object? N UMBER S EVENTY-THREE Er frit den Abfall vom eigenen Tisch; dadurch wird er zwar ein Weilchen lang satter als alle, verlernt aber, oben vom Tisch zu essen; dadurch hrt dann aber auch der Abfall auf. He gobbles up the leavings and crumbs that fall from his own table; in this way he is, of course, for a little while more thoroughly sated than all the rest, but he forgets how to eat from the table itself. In this way, however, there cease to be any crumbs and leavings. [Kaiser/Wilkins] He scavenges the leftovers from his own table; that makes him better fed than the others for a little while, but he also forgets how to eat at table; and so the supply of leftovers dries up. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This one is more mysterious to me. The problem is not that he creates waste, or even that he eats it, but that he forgets the source of the waste, and so loses the waste as well. Could this be a warning about becoming too preoccupied with reflections or commentary, so as to lose sight of experience? Then, having no experiences of any heft to speak of, like the stereotypical bookish student who has replaced life with reading, there is nothing left to comment on. I could also imagine this referring to someone who has become so vigilantly self-aware and self-questioning that he becomes paralyzed. The overall pattern seems to be one in which the secondary and dependent activity is mistaken for an end in itself. There is also the idea here of one who goes from creating and consuming to doing nothing but consuming.

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N UMBER S EVENTY-F OUR Wenn das, was im Paradies zerstrt worden sein soll, zerstrbar war, dann war es nicht entscheidend; war es aber unzerstrbar, dann leben wir in einem falschen Glauben. If what is supposed to have been destroyed in Paradise was destructable, then it was not decisive; but if it was indestructable, then we are living in a false belief. [Kaiser/Wilkins] If what was supposed to be destroyed in Paradise was destructable, then it cant have been decisive; however, if it was indestructable, then we are living in a false belief. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This seems to be a return to Sixty-Four/Sixty-Five. Normally, one does not speak of destruction so much as of a fall, so it s the use of destruction that sets up the question. Is the point that the false belief is what keeps us from getting back? Kafkas writing is not full of false beliefs, because this would entail identifying the true belief; instead he returns obstinately to the uncertainty and provisionality of any belief. The difficulty he has pinned down in this aphorism is the Hobsons choice between an indecisive paradise and a false belief. N UMBER S EVENTY-F IVE Prfe dich an der Menschheit. Den Zweifelnden macht sie zweifeln, den Glaubenden glauben. Test yourself on mankind. It is something that makes the doubter doubt, the believer believe. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Test yourself against mankind. It teaches the doubter to doubt and the believer to believe. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This is marked cancelled in both versions. Perhaps the one who eats his own table scraps is not testing. Testing or checking is a constant puzzle in Kafka s writing; his characters are often brought up against another character with a

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completely different perspective on the same events he is dealing with. And yet this checking is never conclusive of anything. Artistic editing and selection are tests, as is evident in this case since it is marked for deletion; and yet these inconclusive tests are at the same time decisive and critical, because a decision is going to happen somehow. In some ways, Kafkas fiction consists of tests. N UMBER S EVENTY-S IX Dieses Gefhl: hier ankere ich nicht - und gleich die wogende, tragende Flut um sich fhlen! Ein Umschwung. Lauernd, ngstlich, hoffend umschleicht die Antwort die Frage, sucht verzweifelt in ihrem unzugnglichen Gesicht, folgt ihr auf den sinnlosesten, das heit von der Antwort mglichst wegstrebenden Wegen. This feeling: Here I shall not anchorand instantly to feel the billowing, supporting swell around one! *A veering round. Peering, timid, hopeful, the answer prowls round the question, desperately looking into its impenetrable face, following it along the most senseless paths, that is, along the paths leading as far as possible away from the answer. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The feeling: Im not dropping anchor here, and straightaway the feeling of the sustaining sea-swell around one. // A reversal. Lurking, fretful, hoping, the answer creeps around the question, peers despairingly into its averted face, follows it on its most abstruse journeysthat is, those that have least to do with the answer. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kaiser/Wilkins marks the first half of this one cancelled, while Hofmann simply notes a break. It is a relief to be provisional. The answers do not eliminate the questions but only accompany them. Questions are eliminated when they are shown up as false questions; a real question does not get eliminated. They can be dropped, but they dont fade like abandoned things. After eight hundred years they are every bit as fresh and dewy and painful and humiliating as ever. Becoming a question is a key to immortality.

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Heres how I would translate the opening of the second part: A drastic change. Lying in wait, anxious, trusting, the answer pads along beside the question, gazing earnestly into its aloof face ... The idea here is that the answer is the question s dog. There is no search for the answer, actually the answer is searching out the question, but when it finds its question, there must be an acknowledgement. Instead, the question simply goes on about its business like always, because it is a part of things, and can t be dismissed by an answer. N UMBER S EVENTY-S EVEN Verkehr mit Menschen verfhrt zur Selbstbeobachtung. Association with human beings lures one into self-observation. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Dealings with people bring about self-scrutiny. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY If Im not nuts, this one could be translated: intercourse with people seduces one into self-observation (with a distant idea of masturbation behind it?). Even if this is too much of a reach, there is something similar, the relationships, in the original. What I do with others, I learn to do to myself. This kind of reversal onto oneself happens all the time in Kafka. The accuser, especially, becomes the accused just like that. The simplest explanation would be that I watch myself so as to avoid looking as bad as the person next to me. Every new set of social circumstances remeasures me with its own yardstick. I also have to consider the effects that my actions will cause them to feel. N UMBER S EVENTY-E IGHT Der Geist wird erst frei, wenn er aufhrt, Halt zu sein. The spirit becomes free only when it ceases to be a support. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The spirit only becomes free at the point where it ceases to be invoked as a support. [Hofmann]

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COMMENTARY The aphorism seems to be addressed to someone who is looking to become a free spirit, and it seems to be saying that you cant be a free spirit if you are all the time calling yourself a free spirit and trying to be one, and coming up with definitions of free spiritedness, otherwise turning it into a mechanical posture. To be a free spirit, you have to forget. It would be interesting to translate Halt here as prop, because this would give us both the idea of propping up (supporting), but also the idea of a stage property, a mock-up of something real used in performances. A prop gun doesnt fire, and an idea of free spiritedness used as a prop is not emancipating nor is the spirit free. N UMBER S EVENTY-N INE Die sinnliche Liebe tuscht ber die himmlische hinweg; allein knnte sie es nicht, aber da sie das Element der himmlischen Liebe unbewut in sich hat, kann sie es. Sensual love deceives one as to the nature of heavenly love; it could not do so alone, but since it unconsciously has the element of heavenly love within it, it can do so. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Sexual love deceives us as to heavenly love; were it alone, it would not be able to do so, but containing within itself, unknowingly, a germ of heavenly love, it can. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Sinnliche can mean sensual, but it can also mean simply sensory, which in this case would indicate a love of outward appearance, sense impressions. I dont know that it makes sense to assume that heavenly love is its opposite, especially since Kafka claims the one contains an element of the other. To call this a germ implies that the heavenly develops out of the sexual, which is not what Kafka is saying. How is one deceived? What is the wrong thing that sensual love causes us to think about heavenly love? It seems to involve overextending a comparison between the two. What is heavenly love? Whatever it is, it is not wholly unlike sexual love. It could be that the heavenly attribute attaches to the subject or to the manner of loving, which in this case amount

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to the same thing, namely, unselfish love. If, on the other hand, it is the object, then this would mean one loves heavenly things. Kafka does not say that heavenly love has an element of sensual love in it; is the formula reversible? Is sensual love de facto selfish? It could be that Kafka means to draw the distinction between heavenly love, which is not apparent but an object of faith, and sensual love, which is apparent and which attaches to appearances. If sensual love has an element of heavenly love in it, then this would mean it does not respond entirely to appearances. If sensual love appears as heavenly love, this might mean that heavenly love has a way of appearing that can be mistaken for sensual love. If these are true, then heavenly love must not be a matter of faith and sensual love not just a matter of appearances. N UMBER E IGHTY Wahrheit ist unteilbar, kann sich also selbst nicht erkennen; wer sie erkennen will, mu Lge sein. Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself; anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The truth is indivisible and is therefore incapable of recognizing itself; whatever claims to recognize it must therefore be a lie. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Hofmann marks this once cancelled, but Kaiser/Wilkins do not. The Hofmann translation, by saying incapable, deprives truth of the ability to recognize itself, whereas Kaiser/Wilkins could be read to mean that the truth is circumstantially prevented from exercising a power of recognition that might exert otherwise. Truth could only recognize itself if it were divisible, which would make it possible for one part to encounter another part and, by dint of some kind of comparison, to a model or image, or measurement according to some other criteria, most likely the criteria by which the truth was divided up, recognize it as another piece of the truth. This is a little like the point Bergson makes in Creative Evolution, that, owing to our limitations, humans can only manage

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to take it a bit of nature at a time, and so humanity has to put together its picture of nature a piece at a time, knowing that, since all of nature is interconnected and basically one, we have to try to bring all our theories into a single consistency, and keep revising the overall model, which itself is too large for any one person to see, every time a new theory appears. What is more radical here is the idea that truth can only be known from falsehood. Is the reverse true? The difference between a lie and the truth is intention; I can say something unwittingly true while I think Im lying and, morally speaking, I will still be a liar. I can know with greater assurance, greater truth, when Im lying, because a lie must be accompanied by an intention to lie. If I say something untrue without meaning to, thats not a lie, but a mistake. I dont need to know the truth in order to lie, because the lie is tailored to the situation, not measured against knowledge. But in order to know the truth, I have to know the difference between truth and untruth, although its a stretch to call all untruth lies. Besides, Kafka isnt talking about how a person knows a difference, but how truth knows itself. It cant, only the lie can know the truth and recognize it as object whose shadow it is. This to me hearkens back to the aphorisms in which good cannot know itself as good, in which only the evil can know good, such as Number Twenty-Seven and Number Twenty-Eight. N UMBER E IGHTY-ONE Niemand kann verlangen, was ihm im letzten Grunde schadet. Hat es beim einzelnen Menschen doch diesen Anschein - und den hat es vielleicht immer -, so erklrt sich dies dadurch, da jemand im Menschen etwas verlangt, was diesem Jemand zwar ntzt, aber einem zweiten Jemand, der halb zur Beurteilung des Falles herangezogen wird, schwer schadet. Htte sich der Mensch gleich anfangs, nicht erst bei der Beurteilung auf Seite des zweiten Jemand gestellt, wre der erste Jemand erloschen und mit ihm das Verlangen. Nobody can desire what is ultimately damaging to him. If in individual cases it does appear to be so after alland perhaps it always does so appearthis is explained by the fact that someone in the person demands something that is, admittedly, of use to someone, but which to a second someone, who is brought in half in

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order to judge the case, is gravely damaging. If the person had from the very beginning, and not only when it came to judging the case, taken his stand at the side of the second someone, the first someone would have faded out, and with him the desire. [Kaiser/Wilkins] No one can crave what truly harms him. If in the case of some individuals things have that appearance and perhaps they always dothe explanation is that someone within the person is demanding something useful to himself but very damaging to a second person, who has been brought along partly to give his opinion on the matter. If the man had taken the part of the second person from the outset, and not just when the time came to make a decision, then the first person would have been suppressed, and with it the craving. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Spinoza found suicide a special conundrum, since he also maintained that the self acts in its own best interests, and that all action is by definition rational (Spinoza regarded most of human behavior as an irrational reflex, and so did not dignify it with the name of action). This may be Kafkas shot at a reply. The second translation gives I think a better rendering, taking the imperious position of judging away and replacing it with opinion, although perhaps a slightly more urgent word is needed there. Also the use of half in Kaiser/Wilkins is unsatisfying to me; it prompts me to wonder about the second half. The answer would seem to be that no person can crave what is destructive to him, which is asserted not as a conclusion drawn from appearances but as a conclusion that is imposed despite appearances, which all tend to the contrary conclusion; however, this disagreement, which is very typical of Kafka, is then explained. There is an assertion that no person can will self-destruction, then an observation that this kind of self destructive will seems ubiquitous, and then this disagreement is resolved by recourse to an argument whereby a person is assumed to contain other persons; self-destructiveness is therefore an illusion that arises out of a conflict of utilities between intrapersonal persons. The problem left untouched by this solution is the status of the person who contains these other persons is he or she just another one of this crowd of persons, or does he or she have some

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special importance? It seems as if the person is something like a judge or a monarch, since it is his or her side-taking which seems to determine whether or not any of this other category of second-class inner people will continue to exist. They come into existence apparently on their own recognizance, which may be why the Main Person need take no responsibility for them; whether they continue to act upon the Main Person is up to that Main Person, but not entirely. The Main Person does not suppress one of the second class types directly, but by siding with another second-class person. With respect to Kafka, I tend to shun the word paradox and, if I have been speaking of contradictions then I wont any more, because disagreement is the better word. A paradox and a contradiction are both examples of a merely logical snafu; there s something mechanical about them. A disagreement immediately conjures up the atmosphere of Kafka; the disagreement is a living, slippery contest between unpredictable actors, who want to be right and who want to win. Where there is both being right and winning, we are already well away from any scenario that can be understood monoschematically. N UMBER E IGHTY-TWO Warum klagen wir wegen des Sndenfalles? Nicht seinetwegen sind wir aus dem Paradiese vertrieben worden, sondern wegen des Baumes des Lebens, damit wir nicht von ihm essen. Why do we complain about the Fall? It is not on its account that we were expelled from Paradise, but on account of the Tree of Life, lest we might eat of it. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Why do we harp on about Original Sin? It wasn t on its account that we were expelled from Paradise, but because of the Tree of Life, lest we eat of its fruit. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The word Sndenfall means the Fall, not Original Sin, which is Erbsnde. The Fall is the loss of Paradise by Adam and Eve, while Original Sin is the consequence of that Fall, and hence distinct from it.

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So this one seems to say that complaining about the Fall is like a murderer complaining about his sentence. The Fall is not the reason for expulsion from the garden, it is the expulsion. Is there a bathetic joke here, that blame is being laid now here, now there, but decidedly not taken by oneself? Or is the point that we should complain about the Tree, and blame it for our trouble? Or perhaps that the complaining is pointless? The purpose of the expulsion, then, might be to preserve the Tree of Life for us to continue to desire, rather than to have, since it is desiring and going in a direction, rather than having and staying put, which seems to be intended. It seems axiomatic that humanity is meant to be on path, wayfaring, rather than remaining. N UMBER E IGHTY-THREE Wir sind nicht nur deshalb sndig, weil wir vom Baum der Erkenntnis gegessen haben, sondern auch deshalb, weil wir vom Baum des Lebens noch nicht gegessen haben. Sndig ist der Stand, in dem wir uns befinden, unabhngig von Schuld. We are sinful not only because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we have not yet eaten of the Tree of Life. The state in which we are is sinful, irrespective of guilt. [Kaiser/Wilkins] We are sinful, not only because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we have not yet eaten of the Tree of Life. The condition in which we are is sinful, guilt or no guilt. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This seems to be saying that eating from the Tree of Life will undo the sin of the Fall. But eating from the Tree of Life can t be our redemption, only something our redemption leads to, since, I assume, it isnt possible to get back into Paradise, and hence get to the Tree of Life to eat from it, without being redeemed first. I suppose the question of guilt is waived because, being pure and innocent, Adam and Eve couldn t have known what they were doing when they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, since it was just that type of knowledge they could only get as a result of the

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act. They sinned, but they didnt know what they were doing, so there was sin without guilt. Sin and guilt are therefore two different things, and its sin that will apparently be undone when we eat from the Tree of Life. This means we can eat from the Tree of Life and become free from sin, or at least absolved of sin, without necessarily ceasing to be guilty. So its possible to be saved and guilty, and to sin in innocence. N UMBER E IGHTY-F OUR Wir wurden geschaffen, um im Paradies zu leben, das Paradies war bestimmt, uns zu dienen. Unsere Bestimmung ist gendert worden; da dies auch mit der Bestimmung des Paradieses geschehen wre, wird nicht gesagt. We were created in order to live in Paradise, and Paradise was ordained to serve us. What was ordained for us has been changed; it is not said that this has also happened with what was ordained for Paradise. [Kaiser/Wilkins] We were created to live in Paradise, and Paradise was designed to serve us. Our designation has been changed; we are not told whether this has happened to Paradise as well. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY So Paradise may no longer be suited to us, putting us in the position of striving for what would not serve us any longer. Does this mean that we must restore ourselves through striving to what we once were, or that we have to wait for a re-ordination of Paradise, or re-ordinate it ourselves? We must not take the destination for granted. This reminds me of Klossowskis idea of the phantasm. Like a mirage, the phantasm is a destination, understood in a general way to mean the object of any desire, that we pursue, but which we never reach. This is not because the universe likes teasing us, but because we cant know the object of desire until we get it. Supposing we get it, now we have something that we can compare with our prior idea of it, and usually we find that the two are very different. Actually, the term phantasm is a typically pessimistic and sullen misnomer, since we do find something real at the end of our search; if we are inclined to call it a phantasm or otherwise dismiss it, thats only because were disappointed it didn t turn out

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more like what we expected. Its wrong to think that there is nothing there, when what we mean is that there s nothing there that concerns us. N UMBER E IGHTY-F IVE Das Bse ist eine Ausstrahlung des menschlichen Bewutseins in bestimmten bergangsstellungen. Nicht eigentlich die sinnliche Welt ist Schein, sondern ihr Bses, das allerdings fr unsere Augen die sinnliche Welt bildet. Evil is a radiation of the human consciousness in certain transitional positions. It is not actually the sensual world that is a mere appearance; what is so is the evil of it, which, admittedly, is what constitutes the sensual world in our eyes. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Evil is an emanation of human consciousness at certain transitional points. It is not really the physical world that is illusion, but the Evil of it, which to our eyes constitutes, admittedly, the physical world. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY One of the tricky elements to this one is the use of sinnliche, which means the world of sense. Sensual has a sexual aspect that isnt exactly right, but physical world might be a term that makes more assumptions than are necessary. Clearly the point of the aphorism is that Evil is absolute and relative; it is in our eyes, not in things, but it is in all our eyes, it is like an inevitable aspect of human-all-too-human thinking. N UMBER E IGHTY-S IX Seit dem Sndenfall sind wir in der Fhigkeit zur Erkenntnis des Guten und Bsen im Wesentlichen gleich; trotzdem suchen wir gerade hier unsere besonderen Vorzge. Aber erst jenseits dieser Erkenntnis beginnen die wahren Verschiedenheiten. Der gegenteilige Schein wird durch folgendes hervorgerufen: Niemand kann sich mit der Erkenntnis allein begngen, sondern mu sich bestreben, ihr gem zu handeln. Dazu aber ist ihm die Kraft nicht mitgegeben, er mu daher sich zerstren, selbst auf die Gefahr hin, sogar dadurch die notwendige Kraft nicht zu erhalten, aber es bleibt ihm nichts anderes brig, als dieser letzte Versuch. (Das ist auch der Sinn

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der Todesdrohung beim Verbot des Essens vom Baume der Erkenntnis; vielleicht ist das auch der ursprngliche Sinn des natrlichen Todes.) Vor diesem Versuch nun frchtet er sich; lieber will er die Erkenntnis des Guten und Bsen rckgngig machen (die Bezeichnung Sndenfall geht auf diese Angst zurck); aber das Geschehene kann nicht rckgngig gemacht, sondern nur getrbt werden. Zu diesem Zweck entstehen die Motivationen. Die ganze Welt ist ihrer voll, ja die ganze sichtbare Welt ist vielleicht nichts anderes als eine Motivation des einen Augenblick lang ruhenwollenden Menschen. Ein Versuch, die Tatsache der Erkenntnis zu flschen, die Erkenntnis erst zum Ziel zu machen. Since the Fall we have been essentially equal in our capacity to know Good and Evil; nevertheless it is precisely here we look for our special merits. But only on the far side of this knowledge do the real differences begin. The contrary appearance is caused by the following fact: nobody can be content with knowledge alone, but must strive to act in accordance with it. But he is not endowed with the strength for this, hence he must destroy himself, even at the risk of in that way not acquiring the necessary strength, but there is nothing else he can do except make this last attempt. (This is also the meaning of the threat of death associated with the ban on eating from the Tree of Knowledge; perhaps this is also the orignal meaning of natural death.) Now this is an attempt he is afraid to make; he prefers to undo the knowledge of Good and Evil (the term the Fall has its origin in this fear); but what has once happened cannot be undone, it can only be made turbid. It is for this purpose that motivations arise. The whole world is full of them: indeed the whole visible world is perhaps nothing other than a motivation of mans wish to rest for a momentan attempt to falsify the fact of knowledge, to try to turn the knowledge into the goal. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Ever since Original Sin, we are basically all alike in our ability to know Good and Evil; even so, this is where we seek a particular advantage. Actually, its only after knowledge that the real differences begin. The appearance to the contrary is provoked in the following way: No one can be satisfied with understanding alone but must make an effort to act in accordance with it. He lacks the strength to do so; therefore he must destroy himself, even at the risk of not receiving the necessary strength; it is simply that he has no option other than to undertake this final effort. (This is the

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meaning of the penalty of death for eating of the Tree of Knowledge; it may also be the original meaning of natural death.) The effort is daunting; one would rather reverse the original knowledge of Good and Evil; (the term Original Sin refers to this fear) but what was done cannot be undone, only muddied. To this end motivations appear. The entire world is full of them yes, the whole visible world may be nothing more than a motivation of a man wanting to rest for a moment. An attempt to forge the fact of knowledge, to make of the knowledge an end in itself. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Resting for a moment; if reality is continuous becoming, then knowledge is all too often, as Bergson pointed out, an attempt to get a handle on it by taking a few still photos of certain movements and then plotting out the dimensions of this activity using a kind of logical model. The result is an image of things always frozen or at rest, and the assumption is that everything proceeds along cast iron chains of causation back to an initial condition that determines all forthcoming events, so that the present is determined by the past, the future by the present, and so on. This might be what is meant above when Kafka speaks of knowledge becoming the goal. The lack of strength necessary to live in keeping with knowledge would also apply to the action of ending ones life or destroying oneself in some other way, presumably by being torn apart as one goes in two different ways at once, or something equally abstract and strange. One dies after eating from the tree of knowledge because one can t live with that knowledge, it demands that you abide by it even though you cant. Again, Hofmann translates as Original Sin what is more properly the Fall. To get away from the fearsome burden of knowledge, we muddy the waters and pretend not to understand, maybe even achieving genuine confusion. We do this by turning from Good and Evil actions to Good and Evil intentions, hoping to get lost in the thicket of psychology I guess. N UMBER E IGHTY-S EVEN Ein Glaube wie ein Fallbeil, so schwer, so leicht. A belief like a guillotineas heavy, as light. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

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A faith like an axe. As heavy, as light. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY I think Hofmann uses the word axe here to establish a connection to Kafkas famous words about breaking the ice, but idiomatically the word Fallbeil, which is falling axe, refer to the guillotine. Heavy as it falls and light as it rises? Hard to lift and easy to drop? A faith or belief that severs, which is an execution machine separating people fatally from their heads. A weight that is a menacing potential rather than a burden. What does it mean that faith is understood here as something that is not a part of you or of any one person? Who owns their own guillotine? It is a property of no one and everyone, it stands, in theory, above everyone. Is this simile extended to all faith, or to a certain kind; if so, how else can we identify this certain kind, and what value are we to place on it? Is this the purer kind of faith, the kind of purity that every religion, one way or another, demands? Meaning, I suppose, a faith that efficiently overcomes every doubt. If thats the idea, then we have to think about how faith deals with doubt. There is the kind of faith that rejects doubt reflexively, without thinking, like a poison. This kind of faith may seem more naive or crude, but then again, it may be that this kind of faith is the kind that really takes doubt seriously, that sizes it up as a dangerous opponent. The other variety of faith, which admits doubt without any sense of scandal, and deals with it by a weighing and measuring, may seem more sophisticated or mature, but theres also something about it that seems to fall short of the total commitment that faith requires. Faith isnt supposed, generally speaking, to be understood in terms of probabilities. N UMBER E IGHTY-E IGHT Der Tod ist vor uns, etwa wie im Schulzimmer an der Wand ein Bild der Alexanderschlacht. Es kommt darauf an, durch unsere Taten noch in diesem Leben das Bild zu verdunkeln oder gar auszulschen. Death is in front of us, rather as on the schoolroom wall there is a

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reproduction of Alexanders Battle. The thing is to darken, or even indeed to blot out, the picture in this one life of ours through our actions. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Death is ahead of us, say in the way in our classrooms we had a picture of Alexander the Great in battle. What must be done is by our actions to blot out or obscure the picture, in our lifetimes. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY In the Kaiser/Wilkins edition, this aphorism is followed by another, much longer one, numbered 89, while, in the Hofmann translation, this aphorism is marked 88/89 and the longer aphorism is presented as number 104. This one seems to say that we go through life with some ideal before us, and that our lifes purpose is to efface that goal insofar as it is a matter of imitating some hero of the past, by achieving some accomplishment which is heroic in its own right, and so may stand on its own as a new painting on the wall for the generation that comes after. The difficulty with that reading is that the image is not replaced by a new image but darkened and blotted out, which invokes the idea of forgetting more readily than it does the idea of memorializing. Es kommt darauf an means something like, the thing that really matters is ... There is no must in the sense of a moral imperitive or practical necessity. The issue is what matters, and what matters is not the battle or the Alexandrian ideal, but taking action. N UMBER E IGHTY-N INE Ein Mensch hat freien Willen, und zwar dreierlei: Erstens war er frei, als er dieses Leben wollte; jetzt kann er es allerdings nicht mehr rckgngig machen, denn er ist nicht mehr jener, der es damals wollte, es wre denn insoweit, als er seinen damaligen Willen ausfhrt, indem er lebt. Zweitens ist er frei, indem er die Gangart und den Weg dieses Lebens whlen kann. Drittens ist er frei, indem er als derjenige, der einmal wieder sein wird, den Willen hat, sich unter jeder Bedingung durch das Leben gehen und auf diese Weise zu sich kommen zu lassen, und zwar auf einem zwar whlbaren, aber jedenfalls derartig labyrinthischen Weg, da er kein Fleckchen dieses Lebens unberhrt lt. Das ist das Dreierlei des freien

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Willens, es ist aber auch, da es gleichzeitig ist, ein Einerlei und ist im Grunde so sehr Einerlei, da es keinen Platz hat fr einen Willen, weder fr einen freien noch unfreien. A man has free will, and this is of three kinds: first of all he was free when he wanted this life; now, of course, he cannot go back on it, for he is no longer the person who wanted it then, except perhaps in so far as he carries out what he then wanted, in that he lives. Secondly, he is free in that he can choose the pace and the road of this life. Thirdly, he is free in that, as the person who will sometime exist again, he has the will to make himself go through life under every condition and in this way to come to himself, and this, what is more, on a road that, though it is a matter of choice, is still so very labyrinthine that there is no smallest area of this life that it leaves untouched. This is the trichotomy of free will, but since it is simultaneous it is also a unity, an integer, and fundamentally so completely integral that it has no room for any will, free or unfree. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Man has free will, and of three sorts: First he was free when he wanted this life; now admittedly he cannot take back his decision, because he is no longer the one who wanted it then, he must do his own will then by living. Second he is free inasmuch as he can choose the pace and the course of his life. Third he is free in that as the person he will one day be, he has the will to go through life under any condition and so come to himself, on some path of his own choosing, albeit sufficiently labyrinthine that it leaves no little spot of life untouched. This is the triple nature of free will, but being simultaneous, it is also single, and is in fact so utterly single that it has no room for a will at all, whether free or unfree. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The Hofmann translation occurs as number 104 in his edition, while Kaiser/Wilkins identifies this one as number 89. The corresponding number in Hofmann, as noted in the previous post, is combined with number 88. The first freedom is responsibility or even guilt, setting oneself on a path. The second freedom is in degree of application and in direction of path, but does not extend to the possibility of ceasing

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to continue down any path. Does this mean that we are not free when we commit suicide? The third freedom involves a choice of route that is indifferent from the point of view of the terrain, since every route covers the terrain entirely and consequently varies from every other route only in terms of things like order in which various locations are visited, number of times revisited, rate of travel and so on, which seem to fall under the second freedom. This third freedom seems to invoke the idea of eternal recurrence, that I freely choose myself with the understanding or at least as if I understood that I would one day have to be this one again, because choosing to be myself once, if I am really being myself and not just playacting, means committing to being myself in a way that affirms that choice for all time. When I choose something forever, or with maximum commitment, then I am choosing never to make any other choice, choosing to renounce further choice. These freedoms are necessarily the case, which means we cant choose not to have them, nor can be say that the choices are determined by anything outside us. So we have no choice but to choose, but the choice we make is our own choice. N UMBER N INETY Zwei Mglichkeiten: sich unendlich klein machen oder es sein. Das zweite ist Vollendung, also Unttigkeit, das erste Beginn, also Tat. Two possibilities: making oneself infinitely small or being so. The second is perfection, that is to say, inactivity, the first is beginning, that is to say, action. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Two alternatives: either to make oneself infinitesimally small, or to be so. The former is perfection and hence inaction; the latter a beginning and therefore action. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Both translators mark this one cancelled. Kafka here understands action to be movement in the direction of inaction, as a goal realized. He also equates acting with growing smaller, which follows from the idea that action moves toward inaction, as long as we assume that inaction is a reduction.

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If these are both possibilities, then it must be possible simply to choose to be perfect, utterly small, inactive. You can either choose to be in this state, or you can choose to be trying to be in this state. So, if I try to make myself endlessly big, then I would be moving from action to action. The more I do the more imperfect I am. This would be a stupid observation if Kafka only meant that more activity means more opportunities for mistakes. He isnt talking about possibilities or occasions, hes talking about all times. Therefore activity is imperfection by definition, and this could have two interpretations at least; one is cynical, and I don t assume that Kafka would never write a cynical word, namely that action is always a hallmark of some insufficiency in the actor. The other interpretation would be that all real action is unrecognizeable at first because its so new. The imperfection of an action would be that incommensurability of the action to any expectation, while the perfection of inaction would be its easily circumscribable smallness. N UMBER N INETY-ONE Zur Vermeidung eines Wortirrtums: Was ttig zerstrt werden soll, mu vorher ganz fest gehalten worden sein; was zerbrckelt, zerbrckelt, kann aber nicht zerstrt werden. Towards the avoidance of a piece of verbal confusion: What is intended to be actively destroyed must first of all have been firmly grasped; what crumbles away crumbles away, but cannot be destroyed. [Kaiser/Wilkins] To avoid the solecism: Whatever is to be entirely destroyed must first be held very firmly: if something crumbles, it crumbles, but resists destruction. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Both translators mark this aphorism cancelled. While I think there is something of interest in number ninety, which might have been cancelled because of cynical overtones that were not intended, here I think I can see why this aphorism was discarded. Kafka distinguishes between two kinds of selection. One is artificial selection of something to be destroyed, while the other is a

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natural selection. Destruction is designated as exclusively active, which produces a reversal very characteristic of Kafka s thinking: what crumbles is immune to destruction. What falls apart of its own decrepitude or weakness cant be destroyed. So Bloch the tradesman will go on dragging out his days in court forever, while Josef K., who tries to do battle with the court, must be killed, although even then he seems to be given the opportunity to kill himself as the knife is passed to and fro between his executioners, and the killing is entirely unceremonious and unlike an official execution, carried out in a nondescript place. Kafka seems to be intrigued by the idea that weaknesses can become strengths without ceasing to be weaknesses; weakness, failure, waiting, hestitating, all have their rights, too. This aphorism also reminds me of the Penal Colony story, which depicts this kind of seizing and active destroying. The problem is that there is a kind of active destruction that sweeps away old rubbish without noticing or caring what it s doing. Its a scandal, but its also for that reason more innocent, because it isnt negating an existing thing so much as its entirely preoccupied with presenting something new, like someone who dashes this and that off a table in order to set down a new acquisition on it and show it off. Meanwhile, crumbling is distinct from the kind of vigilantism needed to maintain a stable identity, which can only be done by suppressing inevitable changes. Crumbling is not all that simple and unambiguous. Matter crumbles, but it remains matter and can be reorganized into something else. People crumble differently, although they dont stop being people, but, if crumbling is understood as a metaphor for the loss of some important aspect of self, then it is a way for the self to stop being the self. So matter can crumble and stay matter, while the crumbling self ceases to be a self at all. N UMBER N INETY-TWO Die erste Gtzenanbetung war gewi Angst vor den Dingen, aber damit zusammenhngend Angst vor der Notwendigkeit der Dinge und damit zusammenhngend Angst vor der Verantwortung fr die Dinge. So ungeheuer erschien diese Verantwortung, da man sie nicht einmal einem einzigen Auermenschlichen aufzuerlegen wagte, denn auch durch Vermittlung eines Wesens wre die menschliche Verantwortung noch nicht

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genug erleichtert worden, der Verkehr mit nur einem Wesen wre noch allzusehr von Verantwortung befleckt gewesen, deshalb gab man jedem Ding die Verantwortung fr sich selbst, mehr noch, man gab diesen Dingen auch noch eine verhltnismige Verantwortung fr den Menschen. The first worship of idols was certainly fear of the things in the world, but, connected with this, fear of the necessity of the things, and, connected with this, fear of responsibility for the things. So tremendous did this responsibility appear that people did not even dare to impose upon it one single extra-human entity, for even the mediation of one being would not have sufficiently lightened human responsibility, intercourse with only one being would still have been all too deeply tainted with responsibility, and that is why each thing was given the responsibility for itself, more indeed, these things were also given a degree of responsibility for man. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The first case of idolatry was surely fear of things, and therefore also fear of the necessity of things, and therefore also of responsibility for them. This responsibility seemed so vast that people didnt even dare to lay it at the feet of a single divine being, because the intervention of one such being would not sufficiently lighten the weight of human responsibility, the negotiation with one being would have remained too much stained with the responsibility, and therefore each thing was given the responsibility for itself, or more, the things were also given a measure of responsibility for the human. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Fear not simply of disasters, but of the idea that these disasters had some kind of reason behind them, and were not merely random happenstancesman cannot accept the idea that he suffers for nothing, but this introduces the terror of a will behind the greatest disasters, which in turn means that man must fear also that this will does not act capriciously, which would not be so much different from randomness but only a displacement of that randomness onto an agency outside nature, but rather that this inimical will is only reacting to human actions, thus ultimately making human beings liable for what happens to us hence the idol, which is therefore a technology by means of which we solace

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ourselves with the idea that we are ultimately in control of our own destinies. So God is an intensification or collection, like a focal point, for mans responsibility, but also a free agent who acts without being susceptible to human influence. To have only one God to handle everything would mean mankind has an intercessor, and this makes things too easy to be plausible. This also roots religion in fear, weakness, and reproach. Responsibility seems to require proliferation and the existence of channels, tiers, a whole system, which has the attributes Kafka gave to the court and the castle. The implication is that this byzantinism must be seen as something the people subject to these institutions seem to require or have a use for; so Kafka is never well understood if all we see is a burlesquing of bureaucracy in his work. The institutions produce these elaborated systems of themselves; there is no corrupt master official in either case, no center, and no outside, no place from which to view the bureaucracy as a means to an end. N UMBER N INETY-THREE Zum letztenmal Psychologie! Never again psychology! [Kaiser/Wilkins] No psychology ever again! [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Both translators mark this one cancelled. Sometimes I wonder if the cancellation isnt part of the meaning, as in this case, which seems to capture a gesture that renounces and then renounces that renouncement. Thats probably over-subtle, but it doesnt refuse to work. Dostoevsky was consistently skeptical of psychology because it stripped humanity of its responsibility. He saw directly that this was a clash of two world orders, and a historic development in the works. I think Kafka may have some similar idea here, that psychology tends to deprive us of ultimate responsibility for what we do, making us generic figures re-enacting a biologically inevitable dramaturgy, or otherwise laying our actions at the end of

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a protracted series of causes and effects that originates somewhere in the remote past and which unfolds into us through our parents. So why cancel this one? The only way is the way forward, which would entail taking psychology to its end, causing it to evolve into something new, at which point the old psychology would drop away. Or one could create an alternative, but it would still have to involve the issues and problems of psychology in order to function as an alternative. Simply banishing pyschology is not only impossible, as whats done cant be wished away, but it would also mean an attempt to go backwards, which is always impossible in Kafka. Kafka is all about getting to the point of no return. This is why no one ever goes back in Kafka. All his departures are final. N UMBER N INETY-F OUR Zwei Aufgaben des Lebensanfangs: Deinen Kreis immer mehr einschrnken und immer wieder nachprfen, ob du dich nicht irgendwo auerhalb deines Kreises versteckt hltst. Two tasks at the beginning of your life: to narrow your orbit more and more, and ever and ever again to check whether you are not in hiding somewhere outside your orbit. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Two tasks of the beginning of life: to keep reducing your circle, and to keep making sure youre not hiding somewhere outside it. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY This seems to be a rewriting of Number Ninety, and, as it isn t cancelled, it seems safe to assume that this is to be preferred to the latter. Kafka seems to have dispensed with the distracting possibility of simply being as small as possible. I find this one especially cryptic. Is Kafka changing his model from a line (path, rope) to a circle? Keeping the circle narrow is like keeping balanced on the rope, however. Kreis is circle, and it can also mean district or area as well as circuit, so either orbit or circle are likely translations. In both cases, there seems to be an idea of centering, since the narrowness of a circle or orbit is a matter of how far away it is from its center. Perhaps the idea here is that you need to make sure, if

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we are to think of the circle as an orbit, that you are doing the orbiting, rather than being its center, but that seems a more clever than profound idea. Is the narrowness a matter of concentration? In Number Ninety, Kafka identified smallness with activity. This could mean keep things simple or beware hubris or dont bite off more than you can chew but it hardly seems necessary to devote an aphorism to commonplaces like these. That this should be done at the outset of life to avoid big deviations is obvious, but does life have only one start or does it keep on starting? Is narrowing the circle like trying to reach the point of no return? N UMBER N INETY-F IVE Das Bse ist manchmal in der Hand wie ein Werkzeug, erkannt oder unerkannt lt es sich, wenn man den Willen hat, ohne Widerspruch zur Seite legen. Evil is sometimes like an instrument in the hand; recognized or unrecognized, it lets itself be laid aside without protest if one so wills. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Evil is sometimes like a tool in your hand; recognized or unrecognized, you are able, if you have the will to do it, to set it aside, without being opposed. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY If its your will, who could oppose you? What is being laid aside? The desire to harm others, selfishness, indifference, or some other motive or psychological state? Or is it an action, or a state of affairs? Kafka might be pointing to the moment of decision, when one really renounces something; then, there is no struggle, the act is simple and easy. Where there is a struggle against evil, there is evil. Evil is not separable from the struggle against Evil. Im not sure that Kafka would say that the absence of struggle necessarily means the absence of Evil, though. Perhaps contracting the circle involves not straying from the vigilance, which is not only about keeping watch, but about making sure that what there is to keep watch over doesn t become so ungainly, oversized, complicated, murky, that you can t see it. I

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think Kafka was intrigued by things, particularly man-made things, like the Law, which become so vast that no one person can know them anymore. Individual specialists may know a corner very well, but no one can know what all those corners add up to. So contracting the circle is mainly, I would say, about not losing track. N UMBER N INETY-S IX Die Freuden dieses Lebens sind nicht die seinen, sondern unsere Angst vor dem Aufsteigen in ein hheres Leben; die Qualen dieses Lebens sind nicht die seinen, sondern unsere Selbstqual wegen jener Angst. The delights of this life are not its own, but our fear of the ascent into a higher life; the torments of this life are not its own, but our self-torment because of that fear. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The joys of this life are not its joys, but our fear of climbing into a higher life; the torments of this life are not its torments, but our self-torment on account of that fear. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Our fear of a higher life is our delight in this life, and without that higher life, this life would have no delight; the latter translation clarifies matters by making it clear the delights are our own no less than the torments. Sounds a bit Swedenborgian. What makes it arresting is the idea that our delight in this life is rooted in fear of our own salvation, rather than the more common ascription of the cause to negligence, lack of faith. In fact, this superficially conventional admonition hides a very serious malfunction: it makes our delight in this world, which is always regarded as a distraction at best, into a consequence of belief in salvation. It follows that someone who doesn t believe in a higher life takes no delight in this one either. N UMBER N INETY-S EVEN Nur hier ist Leiden Leiden. Nicht so, als ob die, welche hier leiden, anderswo wegen dieses Leidens erhht werden sollen, sondern so, da das, was in dieser Welt leiden heit, in einer andern Welt, unverndert und nur befreit von seinem Gegensatz, Seligkeit ist.

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Only here is suffering suffering. Not in such a way as if those who suffer here were because of this suffering to be elevated elsewhere, but in such a way that what in this world is called suffering in another world, unchanged and only liberated from its opposite, is bliss. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Only here is suffering really suffering. Not in the way that those who suffer here are to be ennobled in some other world for their suffering, but that what passes for suffering in this world is, in another world, without any change and merely without its contrariety, bliss. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Again I dont think its wrongheaded to see something wilfully perverse in this interpretation. The answer to the problem of suffering is not to eliminate suffering, but to eliminate its opposite or contrariety, which is whatnonsuffering? Is nonsuffering bliss, or pleasure, a positive element, or is it only the negation of suffering? In any case, salvation delivers us from non-suffering, so that we can enjoy our suffering without having to feel bad about it, since there s no choice. This is a highly perceptive rendering of a masochism. N UMBER N INETY-E IGHT Die Vorstellung von der unendlichen Weite und Flle des Kosmos ist das Ergebnis der zum uersten getriebenen Mischung von mhevoller Schpfung und freier Selbstbesinnung. The notion of the infinite expanse and copiousness of the cosmos is the result of the mixture, carried to the extreme limit, of laborious creation and free self-determination. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The conception of the infinite plenitude and expanse of the universe is the result of taking to an extreme a combination of strenuous creativity and free contemplation. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Marked cancelled in Kaiser/Wilkins only. Conception here implies that Kafka is speaking of people, and not the creator. If this is so, then Kafka is here trying to account for

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the idea among mankind that the cosmos is infinite (as opposed to, for example, trying to explain the guidelines along which the cosmos was formed by its creator). This means that human beings attribute to the cosmos an infinity that we necessarily find in ourselves, as we interminably produce different explanations and possibilities. This is not to say that the universe is not physically infinite, but infinity is not something that we can see as such. Its only the absence of anything we would want to recognize as a limit. If we go looking for the medieval crystal boundary of the universe, and don t see it, we say theres nothing there. In fact, it may be there, for all that direct observation can tell us. In order to tally up the plausibility of the existence of such a thing, its necessary to turn to theory, which is always an anticipation and a generalization from the perspective of experience. What needs to be determined here is whether there exists any relationship between the infinity we conceive and the infinity we perceive, and what kind. N UMBER N INETY-N INE Wieviel bedrckender als die unerbittlichste berzeugung von unserem gegenwrtigen sndhaften Stand ist selbst die schwchste berzeugung von der einstigen, ewigen Rechtfertigung unserer Zeitlichkeit. Nur die Kraft im Ertragen dieser zweiten berzeugung, welche in ihrer Reinheit die erste voll umfat, ist das Ma des Glaubens. Manche nehmen an, da neben dem groen Urbetrug noch in jedem Fall eigens fr sie ein kleiner besonderer Betrug veranstaltet wird, da also, wenn ein Liebesspiel auf der Bhne aufgefhrt wird, die Schauspielerin auer dem verlogenen Lcheln fr ihren Geliebten auch noch ein besonders hinterhltiges Lcheln fr den ganz bestimmten Zuschauer auf der letzten Galerie hat. Das heit zu weit gehen. How much more oppressive than the most inexorable conviction of our present sinful state is even the weakest conviction of the coming eternal justification of our temporality. Only strength in the endurance of this second conviction, which in its purity entirely comprehends the first, is the measure of faith. >> Many people assume that besides the great primal deception there is also in every individual case a little special deception

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provided for their benefit, in other words that when a drama of love is performed on the stage, the actress has, apart from the hypocritical smile for her lover, also an especially insidious smile for the quite particular spectator in the top balcony. This is going too far. [Kaiser/Wilkins] How much more oppressive than the most implacable conviction of our current state of sin is even the feeblest contemplation of the once eternal justification for our ephemerality. Only the strength fixed in bearing the second conviction which in its purity completely encloses the firstis the measure of faith. There are some who assume that next to the great original deception, another, smaller deception was practiced specifically for them. Its as if, when a romantic comedy is performed on stage, the actress, in addition to the lying smile for her beloved, keeps a further, particularly cunning smile for a certain spectator in Row Z. This is going too far. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY The second half of this aphorism is marked cancelled in Kaiser/Wilkins only. There is a real mystery here around the use of einstigen: our former, eternal justificationbefore what? In any case, the idea here is straightforward: that faith has a much heavier task in bracing up against time than against faithlessness. Faith is perseverence in belief through time, and it is a way of facing up to the fact that we are creatures with a finite amount of time. Its contemplation of eternity, and of consequences through time, that frame moral calculations. But what does this have to do with the idea of deception, which is not denied, and the idea that there is an additional, personalized imposture? Perhaps the Urbetrug is the former idea of eternal justification, while the second deception is a pose of indifference projected by the crafty selfishness of a human being, who wants to believe they are favored, and that justice or some other good reason requires that the cosmos not reveal who its pets are. This would be an example of hiding yourself outside your own orbit.

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N UMBER ONE H UNDRED Es kann ein Wissen vom Teuflischen geben, aber keinen Glauben daran, denn mehr Teuflisches, als da ist, gibt es nicht. There can be knowledge of the diabolical, but no belief in it, for more of the diabolical than there is does not exist. [Kaiser/Wilkins] It is possible to know of the devilish but not to believe in it, because there is no more devilishness than exists anyway. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY One can only believe in what is beyond our experience. This would be a backhanded way of saying that the diabolical is entirely confined to our experience, and is not transcendent. This would also mean that believing in something, whatever that might be, means believing there is more of it than there is, or that it is greater than it is, which is a contradiction, a kind of mistake. The only way to salvage something from this that is not just a goof, as far as I can see, would be to say that believing in something means believing it can be somehow greater, whether in quantity or in quality, than it currently is. The addition of the idea of current state and possible future state would also bring this aphorism more close to the stream of thought in some of the other adjacent aphorisms. If this is the case, then that would mean devilishness can t be greater than it already is. Is Kafka saying things can t get any worse? Or is he simply saying that, devilishness being the worst, it can go no further in that direction? In that case, we would not have angelicism to believe in either, since it can t get any better. Then we would have only what could get better or worse, larger or smaller, left to believe in, which I suppose would be us. If this is what Kafka thinks faith is, then Kafkas work is saturated with faith, obsessed with faith. In all his work, Kafka seems to want to maximize the amount of room around every particular, giving it all the leeway he can manage, in which to inflate or contract, get better or worse. His directions telescope indefinitely. Faith, in this case, would then precisely be the tendency in Kafka to reject finality and make everything as provisional as he can.

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This may be the only thing in all my commentary on Kafkas aphorisms that has any actual worth. N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND ONE Die Snde kommt immer offen und ist mit den Sinnen gleich zu fassen. Sie geht auf ihren Wurzeln und mu nicht ausgerissen werden. Sin always comes openly and can at once be grasped by means of the senses. It walks on its roots and does not have to be torn out. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Sin always comes openly, and in a form apprehensible to the senses. It walks on its roots and doesnt need to be plucked out of the ground. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY So does this mean that sin is not a matter of interpretation? Perhaps virtue is the task of interpretation, and sin is not, or is somehow beneath or unable to achieve that level. We are not talking about a plant, so the attribution of roots is deliberate. A root is what is fixed, so what does it mean to say something walks on its roots? Wouldnt what you walk with be a foot, not a root? How can you move with a root? How can a root be a root if it moves? Perhaps this is what makes it sin, that its roots move, and yet are roots. It abuses its roots. I think the gesture is what counts here, and not some allegory. If interpretation is an analogue to uprooting something, then does this suggest something potentially sinful in it? Interpretation doesnt make something walk on its roots, but it does tear up roots, and if thats the case, then isnt it unrooting? Destroying roots? You interpret a thing, and end up with an idea of what something is, but to the things cost. And yours, since there is no use you can make of it once its torn out of the ground. Even if the thing doesn t die, now that its out of the ground, it might get up and start walking on its roots. N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND TWO Alle Leiden um uns mssen auch wir leiden. Wir alle haben nicht einen Leib, aber ein Wachstum, und das fhrt uns durch alle Schmerzen, ob in

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dieser oder jener Form. So wie das Kind durch alle Lebensstadien bis zum Greis und zum Tod sich entwickelt (und jenes Stadium im Grunde dem frheren, im Verlangen oder in Furcht unerreichbar scheint) ebenso entwickeln wir uns (nicht weniger tief mit der Menschheit verbunden als mit uns selbst) durch alle Leiden dieser Welt. Fr Gerechtigkeit ist in diesem Zusammenhang kein Platz, aber auch nicht fr Furcht vor den Leiden oder fr die Auslegung des Leidens als eines Verdienstes. We too must suffer all the suffering around us. We all have not one body, but we have one way of growing, and this leads us through all anguish, whether in this or in that form. Just as the child develops through all the stages of life right into old age and to death (and fundamentally to the earlier stage the later one seems out of reach, in relation both to desire and to fear), so also do we develop (no less deeply bound up with mankind than with ourselves) through all the sufferings of this world. There is no room for justice in this context, but neither is there any room either for fear of suffering or for the interpretation of suffering as a merit. [Kaiser/Wilkins] All the sufferings we occasion we must also suffer. We don t all share one body, but we do share growth, and that leads us through all pain, whether in this form or in that. As the child grows through all its phases and becomes old and dies (and every stage seems unattainable to those before, whether from desire or from dread), so we develop (no less connected to others than to ourselves) through all the sufferings of the world. There is in this context no room for justice, and not for fear of suffering either, or for the presentation of suffering as merit. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kafka dispenses with the complex of suffering, merit, justice, and fear that is so essential to both Judaism and Christianity. Suffering is set apart as an element of life and evolution in what looks to me like a Bergsonian way, and is divorced from merit or justice in a way that is basically Nietzschean in tendency. I don t think Kafka is conflating suffering with life, but I think it s clear he sees them intertwined, just as he sees all mankind intertwined in one continuous unfolding of growth. There seems to be consistency between growth understood in this way, will to power, elan vital, and becoming.

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This aphorism gives us a look at life from this perspective, in part to show us how ideas like salvation through suffering and justice appear in it. I dont say Kafka is tossing justice or merit aside; he is saying that it is inappropriate to connect them to suffering as a cosmic condition of life. I don t think there is necessarily a contradiction between maintaining this disconnection while requiring people to indemnify anyone they may hurt; the consequence of the disconnection in that context is only to point out what most people would probably already concede, namely that justice and merit are social conventions grounded in manmade institutions, and not cosmic principles. N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND THREE Du kannst dich zurckhalten von den Leiden der Welt, das ist dir freigestellt und entspricht deiner Natur, aber vielleicht ist gerade dieses Zurckhalten das einzige Leid, das du vermeiden knntest. You have to hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world: this is something you are free to do and is in accord with your nature, but perhaps precisely this holding back is the only suffering that you might be able to avoid. [Kaiser/Wilkins] You can withdrawn from the sufferings of the world that possibility is open to you and accords with your nature but perhaps that withdrawal is the only suffering you might be able to avoid. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY If suffering is an inevitable aspect of life, then fearing and avoiding it is like fearing and avoiding life. Kafka appears to be following more a Stoic line than an Epicurean line. It s interesting to note that he says the tendency to avoid suffering in life is not unnatural, but natural; this is in keeping with the general trend of his thought in these latest aphorisms toward a complex idea of volition. N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND F OUR Der Mensch hat freien Willen undzwar dreierlei: Erstens war er frei, als er dieses Leben wollte; jetzt kann er es allerdings nicht mehr rckgngig

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machen, denn er ist nicht mehr jener, der es damals wollte, es wre denn insoweit, als er seinen damaligen Willen ausfhrt, indem er lebt. Zweitens ist er frei, indem er die Gangart und den Weg dieses Lebens whlen kann. Drittens ist er frei, indem er als derjenige, der er einmal wieder sein wird, den Willen hat, sich unter jeder Bedingung durch das Leben gehn und auf diese Weise zu sich kommen zu lassen undzwar auf einem zwar whlbaren, aber jedenfalls derartig labyrinthischen Weg, da er kein Fleckchen dieses Lebens unberhrt lt. Das ist das Dreierlei des freien Willens, es ist aber auch, da es gleichzeitig ist, ein Einerlei und ist im Grunde so sehr Einerlei, da es keinen Platz hat fr einen Willen, weder fr einen freien noch unfreien. COMMENTARY This aphorism is identical to Number Eighty-Nine, except that, where the earlier aphorism opens with Ein Mensch, this one opens Der Mensch. Kaiser/Wilkins deals with this duplication by omitting Number One Hundred and Four altogether, while Hofmann collapses Number Eighty-Nine into the preceding number and presents the second version under this number. His translation can be found under Number Eighty-Nine ONE H UNDRED AND F IVE Das Verfhrungsmittel dieser Welt sowie das Zeichen der Brgschaft dafr, da diese Weit nur ein bergang ist, ist das gleiche. Mit Recht, denn nur so kann uns diese Welt verfhren und es entspricht der Wahrheit. Das Schlimmste ist aber, da wir nach geglckter Verfhrung die Brgschaft vergessen und so eigentlich das Gute uns ins Bse, der Blick der Frau in ihr Bett gelockt hat. This worlds method of seduction and the token of the guarantee that this world is only a transition are one and the same. Rightly so, for only in this way can this world seduce us, and it is in keeping with the truth. The worst thing, however, is that after the seduction has been successful we forget the guarantee and thus actually the Good has lured us into Evil, the womans glance into her bed. [Kaiser/Wilkins] The seductiveness of this world and the sign that warrants its transitoriness are one and the same. And rightly so, because only

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in this way can the world seduce us, and accord with the truth. The grievous thing is that after falling victim to the seduction, we forget the warranty, and so the Good has led us into Evil, the woman s smile has led us into bed with her. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY What is happening when I am seduced by the world? The convention is that being seduced by the world is a more or less excusable or even innocent first step, while sin and guilt are the second step. Being seduced by the world means giving it too much attention, while neglecting what lies beyond it. But the idea that we should not pay too much attention to the world is grounded in the belief that the world is transitory, and that there is something more lasting beyond. Kafka says this is the right idea, but that it can lead to evil consequences, since, once I know this world, which includes whatever I might do in it, is transitory, then I might be inclined to think that what I do won t matter very much, and so excuse my transgressions to myself. What might these two worlds be? Convention, dating back at least as far as Ancient Greece, tells us that the world we see is not that important, and change is the reason for that. What changes, what is impermanent, has no essence of its own, can t be relied on, and so it isnt real. It would have been more honest to say, it is not what we want to find when we go looking for reality. Theres no reason we cant identify reality and change, instead of identifying reality with permanence, and when we make that other identification, then, not surprising, the resulting outlook is correspondingly very different. It is especially enlightening to look back at the conventional way of thinking from this new point of view; it suddenly seems pretty timid, conservative, suspicious, resentful. The problem in this aphorism is the failure to take change seriously enough, and the inconsistency in relying on change to save you by transposing you to another realm where you will be miraculously preserved from change N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND S IX Die Demut gibt jedem, auch dem einsam Verzweifelnden, das strkste Verhltnis zum Mitmenschen, und zwar sofort, allerdings nur bei vlliger und dauernder Demut. Sie kann das deshalb, weil sie die wahre

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Gebetsprache ist, gleichzeitig Anbetung und festeste Verbindung. Das Verhltnis zum Mitmenschen ist das Verhltnis des Gebetes, das Verhltnis zu sich das Verhltnis des Strebens; aus dem Gebet wird die Kraft fr das Streben geholt. Kannst du denn etwas anderes kennen als Betrug? Wird einmal der Betrug vernichtet, darfst du ja nicht hinsehen oder wirst zur Salzsule. Humility provides everyone, even him who despairs in solitude, with the strongest relationship to his fellow man, and this immediately, though, of course, only in the case of complete and permanent humility. It can do this because it is the true language of prayer, at once adoration and the firmest of unions. The relationship to ones fellow man is the relationship of prayer, the relationship to oneself is the relationship of striving; it is from prayer that one draws the strength for ones striving. >> Can you know anything other than deception? If ever the deception is annihilated, you must not look in that direction or you will turn into a pillar of salt. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Humility gives everyone, even the lonely and the desperate, his strongest tie to his fellow men. Immediately and spontaneously, too, albeit only if the humility is complete and lasting. It does so because it is the language of prayer and is both worship and tie. The relationship to ones fellow man is the relationship of prayer; the relationship to oneself is the relationship of striving; out of prayer is drawn the strength with which to strive. Can you know anything that is not deception? Once deception was destroyed, you wouldnt be able to look, at the risk of turning into a pillar of salt. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY Kaiser/Wilkins mark the second section of the aphorism cancelled. Hofmann marks a break only. People can see themselves in the low and humble. This reminds me of Agambens idea of the baseline human, that the humanity in an individual becomes the more apparent the more stripped and wretched he is. I suppose this is because the sense of humanity is generally a sense of universal suffering or liability to suffering, and therefore an aspect of compassion. Nietzsche on the

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one hand considered human beings abject enough, but on the other hand he was wary of the sort of approach that makes compassion the basis of our relations with others, since this suggests that humans are only human when theyre miserable. When confronted with someone happy, strong, beautiful, will that compassion still abide, or will it turn to resentment? Are the compassionate really interested in seeing others become happy, or are they miserable people who want to make sure no one else is any happier than they are, who want to console themselves with the idea that no one is ever really happy? This might clarify the connection between the two elements in the aphorism. Making room for others, which could be another way of contracting your circle. Humility has to be permanent: I think this means, no congratulating yourself on how humble you are! One strives with oneself, not with others. One draws strength to strive with oneself with others. This is exactly the opposite of what we usually hear everywhere. The idea that humans relate to each other in a prayer-like way immediately reminds me of Amalia in The Castle, the way her family is ostracised largely on her account, and yet they are still members of the community in a way that K. can never be. Has Amalia been too proud in rejecting Sortini? Is the Castle really distinct from the community, or is it necessary in some way to make it possible for the community to pray to itself? K. is constantly petitioning throughout the novel; maybe coming to the village is his way of establishing himself in a position of strictest humility, one that is not just an affectation but a social position that is binding on him for as long as he chooses to stay. This puts him in an attitude of prayer toward other people whether he likes it or not. Deception: the difference between truth and error is notoriously elusive, but the difference between truth and a lie is something else. It may be that difference is a bit thornier than Kafka expected, which might be why he cancelled the second bit of the aphorism. After all, you might unwittingly tell the truth while believing youre lying, if you dont know the truth. This is mainly a language problem; theres truth in the sense of what is the case, and then truth in the social sense, meaning there is no difference between what the speaker says and what he thinks.

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N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND S EVEN Alle sind zu A. sehr freundlich, so etwa wie man ein ausgezeichnetes Billard selbst vor guten Spielern sorgfltig zu bewahren sucht, solange bis der groe Spieler kommt, das Brett genau untersucht, keinen vorzeitigen Fehler duldet, dann aber, wenn er selbst zu spielen anfngt, sich auf die rcksichtsloseste Weise auswtet. Everyone is very kind to A., more or less as one tries to guard an excellent billiard table even from good players, until the time when the great player comes, who will carefully examine the table, will not put up with any damage done to it previously, but then, when he himself begins to play, lets himself go wildly, in the most inconsiderate manner. [Kaiser/Wilkins] Everyone is very friendly to A., in roughly the way one might seek to protect an excellent billiard cue even from good players, until the great one comes along, takes a good look at the table, will tolerate no precocious mistakes, and then, when he starts playing, rampages in the wildest way. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY A cue is a Billiardstock, typically, so I think Kaiser/Wilkins makes more sense here, especially since the proprietor of a billiard table will usually have many cues and so can go ahead and play even if one is kept on reserve, but, if the table itself is reserved, then no one can play at all. The good players must have acquired their skill practicing on a different table; either that, or they are naturally good at the game. In any case, this isnt an aphorism about billiards, but about how a certain person is treated, and specifically how the preservation of a person inviolate has less to do with consideration for that person than it does with the imperious demands of the other one, who has a claim on that person. So, sparing someone may simply be a matter of setting them up for something worse. To me, this aphorism seems to have little in common with the others preceding it, unless you decide that the great one to come is a messiah. When the messiah comes, everything is put right, but this may involve a lot of wrecking. Is it our task to preserve things for the messiah to wreck?

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N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND E IGHT Dann aber kehrte er zu seiner Arbeit zurck, so wie wenn nichts geschehen wre. Das ist eine Bemerkung, die uns aus einer unklaren Flle alter Erzhlungen gelufig ist, obwohl sie vielleicht in keiner vorkommt. But then he returned to his work just as though nothing had happened. This is a remark that we are familiar with from a vague abundance of old stories, although perhaps it does not occur in any of them. [Kaiser/Wilkins] And then he went back to his job, as though nothing had happened. A sentence that strikes one as familiar from any number of old storiesthough it might not have appeared in any of them. [Hofmann] COMMENTARY I think Hofmann hits this one more squarely, because its hard to imagine an abundance being vague in any really meaningful way. The point here I think is that this sentence is familiar because its something we need, and so it isn t like a familiar aphorism or saying. You may not know who said a rose by any other name blah blah blah, but you know its a quotation from somewhere and that its in circulation because it sums up the idea that what something is called is only a convention. But the idea as if nothing had happened belongs to another category, reserved for ideas that seem indispensible and obvious. Inventing as if nothing had happened is like inventing clothing or cooking; its something so basic that it is not only too remote in the past to be traced to this or that person, but its something that you wouldnt think people would have to invent at all. So it would seem that this idea, that something can happen and yet have no effect, is fundamental somehow. What does that say about people? About the idea of work? As if work were a purposeless, eternal duty that no event can do more than interrupt. N UMBER ONE H UNDRED AND N INE Da es uns an Glauben fehle, kann man nicht sagen. Allein die einfache Tatsache unseres Lebens ist in ihrem Glaubenswert gar nicht

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auszuschpfen. Hier wre ein Glaubenswert? Man kann doch nicht nicht-leben. Eben in diesem kann doch nicht steckt die wahnsinnige Kraft des Glaubens; in dieser Verneinung bekommt sie Gestalt. Es ist nicht notwendig, da du aus dem Hause gehst. Bleib bei deinem Tisch und horche. Horche nicht einmal, warte nur. Warte nicht einmal, sei vllig still und allein. Anbieten wird sich dir die Welt zur Entlarvung, sie kann nicht anders, verzckt wird sie sich vor dir winden. It cannot be said that we are lacking in faith. Even the simple fact of our life is of a faith-value that can never be exhausted. You suggest there is some faith-value in this? One cannot not-live, after all. It is precisely in this Cannot, after all that the mad strength of faith lies; it is in this negation that it takes on form. >> There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Dont even listen, just wait. Dont even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it cant do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you. [Kaiser/Wilkins] It cannot be claimed that we are lacking in belief. The mere fact of our being alive is an inexhaustible font of belief. The fact of our being alive a font of belief? But what else can we do but live? Its in that what else that the immense force of belief resides: it is the exclusion that gives it its form. >> It isnt necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Dont even listen, just wait. Dont wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can do no other, it will writhe before you in ecstasy. COMMENTARY Our being alive gives us faith or requires faith of us, since life is not mathematical and impossible to know in advance. Likewise knowledge is a matter of faith, albeit faith grounded in certain guarantees that are lacking when it comes to things like religious belief. To the skeptical question, the one that is inclined toward disbelief or thinks it is, that there doesnt seem to be anything beyond life, that life is not a choice and hence faith, understood as a choice, cant be tied to life, the answer is that it isn t possible, on the contrary, not to believe things, and that the questioner always questions from some vantage point or implied value. The skeptic may claim to believe or value nothing, but, apart from wondering

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if that isnt more a belief itself than a fact, the skeptic usually claims to believe nothing because nothing satisfies his or her idea of truth, which is a value and hence believed. Hofmann goofs, I think, when he loses the idea of madness associated with belief. Belief is prescriptive madness, insisting on something come what may. That may be the only possible certainty or ground for belief, apart perhaps from mathematics which I dont comment on either way except to say that as yet it doesnt seem that everything can be founded on mathematics. This is more or less the heart of the modernist problem with values; that values rest on affirmation only, so that, at the heart of even the most beautifully rational and ramified philosophies and systems, there is a crude, rustic, stupidly donkey-like intransigence on some point or other. Kaiser/Wilkins marks the second half of this aphorism cancelled. Evidently Kafka is supposed to have recoiled from so Buddhistic a statement as this. I think again of the activity of narrowing the circle. Entlarvung can also mean expose, which suggests to me an image of the world presenting itself as a seduction, stripping for you. Verzckt is like ecstasy in that it preserves the idea of being drawn out, transported. Winden is related to our word wind (as in what you do to a watch, not what blows) and can also mean writhe. This suggests to me the idea that the world is an experience, and that we can see this all the more clearly the more we reduce the distractions of external events to a minimum. The world that most affects and matters to you, almost certainly will be the one with which you have the most to do. This is how Beckett wrote, this effect is familiar to any reader of Beckett. It is like the Buddhist idea of meditation, but Buddhists dont meditate to cause the world to throw itself at them like Potiphars wife, naked, bare-faced, undulating seductively like a serpent. This may happen, but Buddhist teachings warn against taking this kind of manifestation seriously; youre supposed to just shine it on. Kafka here is not, I think, as Buddhistic as he might seem, because, for the Buddhist, the desire is supposedly coming from me; the lascivious writhing of the world is only the rewinding of my own desire back on myself. But I think Kafka is saying that the world does exist, does desire things, and desires you and me. He says that the world can t help itself; our stopping seems to be something like an escape, so the

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world rushes to us and really lays it on, trying to win us back. But where else is there to go?

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Michael Cisco is the author of novels The Divinity Student (Buzzcity Press, 1999, winner of the International Horror Writers Guild award for best first novel of 1999), The Tyrant (Prime, 2004), The San Veneficio Canon (Prime, 2005), The Traitor (Prime, 2007), The Narrator (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2010), The Great Lover (Chomu Press, 2011), Celebrant (Chomu Press, 2012), and MEMBER (Chomu Press 2013). His short story collection, Secret Hours, was published by Mythos Press in 2007. His fiction has appeared in Leviathan III (Wildside, 2004) and Leviathan IV (Night Shade, 2005), The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases (Bantam, 2005), Cinnabar's Gnosis: A Tribute to Gustav Meyrink (Ex Occidente, 2009), Last Drink Bird Head (Ministry of Whimsy, 2009), Lovecraft Unbound (Dark Horse, 2009), Phantom (Prime, 2009), Black Wings I (PS Press, 2011), Blood and Other Cravings (Tor, 2011), The Master in the Cafe Morphine: A Homage to Mikhail Bulgakov (Ex Occidente Press, 2011), The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (Harper Voyager, 2011), The Weird (Tor, 2012), and elsewhere. His scholarly work has appeared in Lovecraft Studies, The Weird Fiction Review, Iranian Studies and Lovecraft and Influence. Michael Cisco lives and teaches in New York City.

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SENSUOUS AND SCHOLARLY READING IN KEATSS ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMANS HOMER
Thomas Day

Much have I travelld in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-browd Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He stard at the Pacific and all his men Lookd at each other with a wild surmise 1 Silent, upon a peak in Darien. What kind of a reader of poetry is Keats in this sonnet, or what kind of a reader are we invited to imagine him as? A related question may be: what kind of reader of poetry does the writer imagine he is speaking to? At first sight the poem points up the fallacy that reading can take place in some vacuum of critical or scholarly objectivity; rather, reading is an unashamedly subjective process. Keats doesnt truly get Homer until he can get at him through the aspic of received opinion, of what he has been told, which furnishes Homer with his reputation as a classic: august, deep-browd (the tinge of archaism seems deliberately clichd or hackneyed) but
1

Jack Stillinger, ed., The Poems of John Keats (London: Heinemann, 1978), 64.

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somewhat staid and off-putting for that. The writer-reader of this poem needs to able to respond to literature in a fresh and original way: he needs to be able to touch the text, to think independently about it, to make Homer his own, as the title suggests Chapman has. The plodding iambs audible in the octave mimic how Homer is supposed to have been embalmed in dreary convention. The turn comes, conventionally enough, at the beginning of the sestet, but it ushers in livelier, lither metrical movements, which take the measure of Chapmans Homers swimming into Keatss ken: the strong stresses, equal in weight, which bolster the first six syllables of Then felt I like some watcher of the skies, make the manner of Chapmans speaking out loud and bold to Keats as reader speak out loud and bold to Keatss reader; the holding off o f the up-anddown movement of iambic rhythm until watcher of the skies realizes the skyward impulse of the line, momentarily defying gravity. For it is, above all, a poem about how reading great literature gets you high. Appropriately, Keats ends the poem on a high, upon a peak in Darien with Cortez. This is no superior scholar looking down at the ignorant reader (if anything we look down at him, his littleness set into perspective by the metaphorical ocean), feeling smug about the fact he now has Homer under his belt; rather, he evinces humility before the work of art, awestruck and dumbstruck by it. His final silence recognizes the superfluity of any critical response; the creative response, though, is a different matter. However, the ambiguous energy of this poem derives from the way the procedures, or possibly the postures, of scholarship persist as a force both within it and around it: Every possible echo in this sonnet of Keatss reading has been exhaustively traced, 2 Walter Jackson Bate (88) wearily observed in the latter regard. Chapmans Homer admits of a pedantic precision, even as its particularizing of the translation counters the airy, insubstantial Homer of hearsay; then again Chapmans Homer isnt the books exact title, so would this be a scholarly shorthand instantly recognisable to those in the know, or is it the forgetful fudging of someone for whom bibliographical accuracy isnt much of a priority? Similarly Looking into, as a synonym for reading, sits
2

Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1963), 88.

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nicely on the cusp of innocence and experience. There is a looking into which is conducive to the curiosity, to the childlike wonder which can come of the virgin reading that is the occasion for Keatss poem: On First Looking into . . .. The poems governing metaphor, accordingly, is one of exploration: hence the comparison of the speakers initiation into Homer to the discovery of New Mexico by the Spanish Conquistador Hernn Corts; factually speaking this is incorrect since New Mexico was discovered by Vasco Nez de Balboa, although whether this was a simple error by Keats is debatable, as we shall see. Looking into also captures the element of serendipity that often attends the best moments in reading. We can imagine the poet dutifully lifting Chapmans Homer off the shelf and skimming over it, not expecting much because much is expected; but then a line or two catches his jaded eye, a rhythm resonates, and he is drawn in, almost against himself, like Odysseus in earshot of the Sirens. Or we might imagine the book being picked up at random, as a diversion from other studies another glimpse of the exploratory reader who will look out books other than those he has been told he ought to. Looking into gives us a feel for Keatss sensuous interest in what he reads, and it is no accident that he has chosen a sensory synonym for reading to communicate this hearing, (Till I heard . . .), feeling (Then felt I . . .), and even perhaps smell (breathe its pure serene), in addition to sight, enhance the sensory dimens ion in the poem proper. Chapmans words stand up off the page for Keats: he looks into rather than reads because perceptive reading involves looking past the two-dimensional surface of words, which renders them lifeless on the page, and seeing them in the threedimensional depth that can fully realize the Homeric wide expanse. And the poem invites us to read it thus: to attend to how Keats reads, rather than exhaustively tracing what he reads to imaginatively flesh out, as it were, the dramatic context in which the act of reading unfolds. But there is an alternative sense of Looking into, which is also part of the three -dimensional depth those words open up. It could allude to in-depth research, reading around, cross-referencing, looking up: connotations which tell against the virgin reading, and which point to an oxymoronic conjunction with First. That oxymoron opens up an expanse in time as well as in space by silently implying that there will be, or have already been (from the poems perspective of hindsight),

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other, later looking intos, which will lead to revaluations of the first in the light of the readers enhanced knowledge and experience. Yet experience doesnt necessarily enhance or enlighten in this poem, and may lead instead back to the flat, somewhat surfeited, feeling of the much travelled speakers opening line. The possessive of the title and its attendant notions of ownership add to the ambiguity. You can make an author your own, you can harness Homer to your own imaginative ends as both Chapman and Keats do, thus finding a means of getting on terms, of levelling literary power relations another way in which this poem means to defy gravity, by shrugging off the weighty reputations of the greats that give to what Harold Bloom termed the anxiety of influence. It is further significant, in this connection, that it is Chapmans Homer Keats reads: in order to be able to touch the text, to breathe its pure serene, he has to encounter it in an impure form, in translation; to respond in an original way he has to forgo reading Homer in the original, heedless of the purist, and implicitly scholarly, imperatives that would hold the ancient Greek sacred, and would hold with Robert Frost that poetry is what gets lost in translation. The poem can be read as a critique of the various modes of poet-worship that intimidate and inhibit the reader. The description of the many western islands which bards in fealty to Apollo hold also suggests that readers bearing in mind that the mythical-sounding locations mentioned in the opening lines are metaphorical, places he has visited via the medium of literature are held in fealty to bards, whom they often regard as gods: and the line attains a sceptical perspective on this conception of the reader-writer relationship by counting the present poet out of the collective noun, bards ( again, the archaic strain seems indicative of the redundancy of the word, gently parodying its self-importance); although this must be a view to which he has previously subscribed and only gained his freedom from in becoming a poet himself. In fealty, a feudalistic term denoting the fidelity of a tenant or vassal to his lord, we have the other sense of ownership at work in the poem, which serves to affirm hierarchical literary power relations. Thus Homer ruled in the literary territory he staked out for himself with such masterful poetry. Yet in attaining a non-subservient readerly relationship with Homer Keats does not deconstruct the feudal model in the way we

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might expect; indeed, his empowerment as reader occasions a reaffirming of the hierarchies. For he associates himself with Cortez, and it is Cortezs patrician qualities which are emphasized: his rule over the mere mortals, men, who follow him with fealty, who are in some sense owned by him, are his. Such possessiveness befits a colonizing Conquistador with a reputation for rapaciousness, as several critics have observed. He is, moreover, stout Cortez. The OED sense 1 of stout, Proud, fierce, brave, resolute, seems germane to the portrait of Cortez as patrician, as does sense 1b: Stately, magnificent, splendid. Obs. That Obs. may be yet another sign of parodic archaism (the last listed entry is dated 1450) which functions alongside OED sense 1a: Proud, haughty, arrogant. Often coupled with proud. To make it stout: to swagger. Obs. (the last listed entry under 1a is 1851, some 35 years after Keatss poem, so in this case Obs. to us but not to him). Proud, haughty, arrogant, this watcher of the skies begins to seem more like the smug scholar flaunting his familiarity with the classics. And looking again it is not, contrary to what I said earlier, Cortez/Keats who is humbly dumbstruck by what he has seen/read; his is an eagle-eyed, almost visionary insight. The bafflement belongs to the wild surmise of the dumb plebeian men, who stand in for the ignorant readers potentially being looked down upon. Such a double take is consistent with Keatss own looking again at the poem for republication in his 1817 Poems. In revising it, he substituted eagle eyes for the wondring eyes he had originally ascribed to Cortez, and Yet did I never breathe its pure serene for Yet could I never judge what men could mean: he said to Charles Cowden Clarke (his friend and mentor, whom had introduced him to Chapmans Homer) that he had rejected the earlier version of line seven on the grounds that it was bald, and 3 too simply wondering. But whilst we must recognise that the poem offers a more complex take on the wonder of a first encounter with a great author, it is hard to square this aspect of it with a knowingness that extends to the self-parodic swaggering of Keats as stout Cortez: that itself must seem a wild interpretative surmise, too simply ironic a reading of a poem, as perhaps Keats knew.
3

Charles Cowden Clarke, Recollections of Writers (Fontwell, Sussex: Centaur Press, 1969), 130.

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I want to explore this complexity via some concluding reflections on the Cortez-Balboa mix-up, first flagged up by eagleeyed Tennyson in Francis Palgraves The Golden Treasury: history 4 requires here Balboa. The extensive critical debate surrounding this matter turns on the question of intention: did Keats mean to write Cortez, or was it an unintentional error? In a 1956 article C. V. Wicker makes the case for the former, challenging what he identifies as the consensus view that Keats mistakenly wrote Cortez for Balboa, having conflated in his mind two episodes from William Robertsons History of America. He argues that it is a misreading to assume the poem is about Keatss discovery of Chapmans Homer, by which he means discovery in the sense of 5 finding what no one has ever found before. Balboa, therefore, is not required, because Keats is not claiming that he was the first to discover Chapmans Homer, which is not to negate the element of personal revelation: Cortez would have been no less moved by the sight described in the poem for the fact that Balboa had got there first, and Keats is no less moved, and his poem no less moving, because others happen to have picked up the book before him. The logic is incontrovertible, although it doesnt actually prove that Keats meant Cortez. Wickers line of inquiry is taken up by Charles J. Rzepka in a 2010 book, which has a chapter largely 6 given over to the Cortez or Balboa question. As well as amplifying Wickers contention about the improbability of none of Keatss friends (or more to the point, Rzepka suggests, his enemies: namely the critic John Wilson Croker who was notoriously hostile in his reviews of Keatss work) noticing the mistake, or indeed anyone, including Keats, noticing it in the 45 years before Tennyson did, Rzepka argues for the appropriateness of Keatss deliberate choice of Cortez in full knowledge of Balboas precedence based on the belatedness which he deems an important motif in the poem. This is also there in the title: First may contain the self-admonitory admission that he could and should have looked into it sooner than
4

Francis Turner Palgrave, ed., The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language. (1861; rpt. New York: Walter J. Black, Inc., 1932), 298. 5 C. V. Wicker, Cortez Not Balboa. College English 17.7 (1956): 383-387 (383). 6 Charles J. Rzepka, Selected Studies in Romantic and American Literature, History, and Culture: Inventions and Interventions (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010).

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he did. But towards the end of the chapter Rzepka makes a related but different suggestion, and an intriguing one: [Keats] might even have been aware of the possibility that his stereoscopic allusion to 7 Balboa could be mistaken for a mistake by inattentive readers. If Keats meant Cortez to seem like a mistake in order to pull up his readers for not spotting it, wouldnt that be an endorsement of the scholarly reader/reading of his poem, Keatss sloppiness in this respect having a heuristic function? Rzepkas reading of the poem suggests so, his reference to inattentive readers sounding a note of schoolmasterly reprimand akin to Tennysons, which complements his sense of a speaker conscious of having fallen behind with his homework. But Keats could have meant Cortez to seem like a mistake for the opposite reason: to lampoon the irritable reaching after fact and reason so alien to his poetic sensibility that informs the scholarly reading. That is a possibility given some credence by Jerome McGann, who infers a playfulness that means to preserve the moment of childlike wonder the Rosebud moment as he characterizes it (invoking Citizen Kane) against the more mature readerly mindsets that would stifle it: The poems absurd error is the sign that it has pledged its allegiance to what would mortally embarrass a grown-up consciousness. (And so scholarship, than which nothing else is more grown up, hastens to explain away the 8 error.) But absurd surely overplays what many have found entirely plausible, and it invests the poem with a level of irony, ironically, that sits uneasily with the Rosebud moment, as I have already suggested. My own feeling is that the question of whether or not Keats meant Cortez, or whether he meant Cortez to seem like a mistake, is one that On First Looking Into Chapmans Homer poses to subtle effect. Keatss expunged first thought Yet never could I judge what men could mean could almost read as a comment on the difficulty of judging the poem in terms of intention (as well as being both a reader and a writer in this poem, Keats sees through the eyes of his own reader). That the line was expunged may owe in part to its coming to seem to Keats too bald a statement of intentional fallacy. Besides, it is not quite an intentional fallacy that Keats is after. For in order to fully enter into
7 8

Selected Studies in Romantic and American Literature, 246. Jerome McGann, The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 123.

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the drama of the poem and the act of reading it mediates I think we do need to weigh the innocence of a mistake against the strategies of the scholar and/or pseudo-scholar to weigh them in a way, though, that shows us capable of being in mysteries, uncertainties, doubts.

Thomas Day is Head of English at Haileybury College and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire.

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NOTES TO STEPHEN RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES (1982)


Ian Heames

The following notes to Stephen Rodefers Four Lectures are broadly 1 limited to the elucidation of certain source materials of the poem. For reasons of space, proper names that could easily be researched elsewhere are not glossed here; however I have generally attempted not to make assumptions about what other sorts of chunks of text it might occur to the reader of the poem to type into a search engine in pursuit of a potential ur-text or allusion. The appearance of a line from Jingle Bells is therefore flagged up, despite being widely familiar, but the nature of entities such as Baudelaire or McDonalds, or of somewhat obscurer persons, products and institutions, nevertheless easy enough to find out about online, is not generally discussed. Several slang terms are glossed; especially necessary in the case of words with multiple slang meanings as well as a standard meaning (e.g. cat). Because the present notes are necessarily incomplete for want of space, it did not seem worth abiding too strictly by any precise methodology for what to include; no selection could be without gaps. I have instead taken an intuitive approach to balancing the demands of reasonable brevity with an attempt to avoid making too many assumptions about the likelihood of prior knowledge in any given case. Other items that I would like to have glossed have so far eluded my efforts to find full references, in which case the little I know is sometimes given anyway. Others potential references will doubtless have thus far gone unnoticed. A fulsome set of annotations remains my on-going project.

I would like to thank Ryan Dobran for his generous assistance in the preparation of these notes. All remaining errors are my own.

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A number of the annotations presented here retrieve the provenance of text fragments that would have been all but impossible to ascribe to sources outside the poem prior to the massive expansion of searchable text online. The usual notion of allusion is obviously overstretched by such findings. With the internet, a certain secrecy of the text is at a stroke revealed and abolished: what was not known to have been hidden may now be irrecoverably exposed. An innocuous phase such as Now it was evening, for example, can now be traced to Demosthenes, via Longinus and the Loeb Classical Library. This paradox of the wholly inscrutable provenance, only readable as a secret of the text after its revelation, before which it was a merely a piece of language without special allusive significance, invites a quandary about the proper historicity of access to information about the poem. We may wonder if it is possible to read Four Lectures with too much knowledge within easy reach. Is the experience of reading materially disrupted made irrecuperably anachronisticby an artificially expanded overview of the poems textual resources? An optimistic answer to this question can be found in Rodefers own preface to the poem, which takes a sanguine view of such a potential transformation. Rodefer celebrates the inevitable schedule in which works of art, like all human productions or natural forms, undergo reconfiguration, as things, in time, inevitably change. Mutability, including violent mutation, is built into Rodefers very definition of tradition in the Preface. Begging licence from the Latin traditio (to hand over) he glosses the concept as simply carrying on. By this token, any human (or non-human) activity, is by default an action of and within tradition in the largest possible sense. The global ongoingness of all things cannot but carry on from one moment to the next as that which we drag along. Simply to carry on would seem to be the most appropriate response to new emergent conditions in which to read Rodefer s own work. As he writes in the preface: The color beneath, which has been covered over, will begin to show through later, when what overcame it is questioned and scraped on, if not away. The internet has simply made Four Lectures more translucent with respect to its deep collage of ur-texts, unlocking new resonances and (so to speak) activating broken links. Rodefer writes of his poem: My program is simple: to surrender to the city and survive its inundation. (Preface, p. 7). The wide range of literary sources incorporated into the poem, and

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the occasionally striking density of reference to particular works, such as Shakespeares Henry V towards the beginning of Plane Debris confirms Four Lectures to be a work as much inundated by the library as by the city. The present notes may serve to demonstrate the fidelity of Four Lectures to its opening resolution that a book [should] be as deep as a museum and as wide as the world. (Preface, p. 9) Appended to the note are four lists outlining the distribution across Four Lectures of references to the four areas of cultural production most heavily represented in the poem, which I have designated as follows: Writers and their works; Artists and artworks; Music and musicians; and Film, where this last includes all persons and productions relevant to the medium. These categories are presented in descending order of density of references. Their purpose is to highlight the sheer volume of references to works in these media and to provide a simple overview of the relative concentration of such references across the lecture texts. A further appendix gives details of publication history of Four Lectures and its constituent texts. The referencing system works as follows. Numbers followed by the letters a or b correspond to page numbers in the first edition. The letters a and b refer to the first and second stanzas on a given page, respectively. The phrase annotated appears in bold italics ahead of each note. The line or range of lines where a phrase appears in the stanza is given ahead of the annotated phrase. The following abbreviations are used throughout: (WIWIR): Words in Works in Russian (SWTLO): Sleeping With the Light On (PD): Plane Debris (PS): Plastic Sutures Ep1 and Ep2: used respectively for the first (or only) and second epigraph to a given lecture. References in the annotations to lines of the poem take the following form: 44b:14 (PD). The page number and stanza number (the second stanza (stanza b) on p. 44) precede the line number (line 14), separated by a colon. The abbreviation of the lecture text in which this stanza appears (here, Plane Debris) follows in brackets.

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PRETEXT
11a 3 When one day at last they come to storm your deluxe cubicle: cf. Some day without warning, | If you should continue to remain | Holed-up in that fern-in-window flat, | We will come to get you | Like terrorists sweeping down | Upon an heiress. Stephen Rodfer, Safety, published as Miam, no.1 [entire issue], ed. Tom Mandel (May 1977), [unpaginated]. Reprinted in a limited edition of 150 copies by Margery Cantor (Berkeley, 1985). Stuttgart: At the Cambridge Reading Series, Rodefer instead read Shanghai. (Friday 12 February 2010, Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio, University of Cambridge Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge.)

11b 1 I reject the glass: More than merely a mirror, the glass also refers to the family business: the Rodefer-Gleason Glass Company in Ohio. Cf. the short history of the glassworks by Ian Macky, from which the following is taken, published online at http://glassian.org/Prism/National/Glass/ index.html: The names National Glass Works and Rodefer are virtually synonymous. The original National Glass Works plant was established in 1869 in Bellaire, Ohio, at the junction of 22nd and Union streets. It failed in 1877 and was purchased and run by the Rodefer brothers, Albert, John, and Thornton, until 1898 when two of the brothers sold out and left Thornton the sole owner and operator. On his death in 1910, his son C. M. Rodefer assumed ownership. The company thrived, expanding in the 20s with the addition of a second plant near the corner of South Union and 22nd. C. M.s son Howard [Stephen Rodefers father] joined as Secretary in the 30s, and eventually became president. In 1953, Rodefer merged with Gleason forming the RodeferGleason Glass Co, which operated until 1982 when the plant was sold at auction. This works operated for 105 years on the same site!

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4 So again I say rejoice: cf. Philippians 4:4 (KJV): Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Felix nupsit: cf. Felix nupsit, | an end. Ezra Pound, Canto CX, Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII (1969), collected in The Cantos (London: Faber and Faber, 1994), p. 793. Carroll F. Terrell identifies Pounds use of the Latin, meaning a happy marriage , as an allusion to the marriage of Pound s daughter in A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound, vol. 2 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1984), p. 716. Cabin life is incomplete: Cabin life is incomplete conflates Cabin life maybe sweet | But it sounds so incomplete | I prefer my easy street right now, lines from the version of Cabin in the Sky sung by Ethel Waters and Eddie Rochester Anderson in the 1943 film of the same name. Incomplete now suggests the unfinished rather than the heartsick. John Wilkinson, Stephen Rodefer, Call It Thought: Selected Poems[Review], Chicago Review 55:1 (Winter 2010), 174-182 (pp. 176-7). Before it was a film, Cabin in the Sky was a 1940 Broadway musical. But the waterbugs mittens SHADOW the bright rocks below: cf. The water-bugs mittens show on the bright rock below him. Ezra Pound, Canto CXVI, Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII (1969), collected in The Cantos (London: Faber and Faber, 1994), p. 814. John Wilkinson notes: The line about the waterbugs mittens sounds like a wicked parody of the spots of time supposed to gather up the fragmentary Cantos in service of the ahistorical imperative such stuff as topaz against pallor of under-leaf is as rife in Canto CX as throughout Drafts & Fragments. John Wilkinson, Stephen Rodefer, Call It Thought: Selected Poems[Review], Chicago Review. 55:1 (Winter 2010), 174-182 (p. 177).

10

12

13

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WORDS IN WORKS IN RUSSIAN


13 Ep1 from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), p. 18. The sentence ends the ensuance existentiality. The same sentence of Joyces is also riffed on and reprised in the third stanza of Rodefers later poem To the Empress (after RK & JJ), Left Under A Cloud (London: Alfred David Editions, 2000), p. 53. 15a [no notes] 16a 5 1983: the future at time of writing. The poem was first published in August 1982 (colophon of the first edition). The note to Harold Fondren: cf. A note to Harold Fondren by Frank OHara. The Collected Poems of Frank OHara (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 34. Harold Fondren was one of Franks [Frank OHara] roommates and best friends at Harvard, according to Joe LeSueur. See Frank OHara, Amorous Nightmares of Delay, Selected Plays, introd. Joe LeSueur (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997). p. xvii. Many times I wondered when they took my daddy down : A lyric from Mining Camp Blues by Trixie Smith (Paramount, 1925).

13

16b 9 Little Joes: Restaurant at 85 5 Street and Mission Street in San Francisco, established in 1970. Inscrutable, colossal, and alone, the sands stretch far away enough: Cf. Shelleys sonnet Ozymandias and its last line: The lone and level sands stretch far away in Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poetical Works. ed. Thomas Hutchinson (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 55.
th

10

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HEAMES RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES


12 Blackburn: Paul Blackburn (1926-1971), an American poet who translated Provenal. Cf. his Proensa, (Palma de Mallorca: Divers Press, 1953), which contains translations of seven troubadour poets, not including the two Rodefer mentions in the previous line, Cercamon (fl. c. 1135-1145) and Marcabru (fl. 1130-1150)). Endymion: Endymion: A Poetic Romance is a long poem by John Keats first published by Taylor and Hessey (London, 1818). La Mamelle: La Mamelle, Inc. / Art Com was a not-for-profit arts organization and alternative exhibition space, active from 1975-1995 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tipica Cienfuegos: a San Francisco renaissance Afro-Cuban folk and dance band led by John Santos.

14

15

15

17a 2 Van Goghs pear trees: Perhaps Van Goghs Little Blossoming Pear Tree (c. 10 April 1888) (73x46 cm) at the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam. Cf. Jan Hulsker, The New Complete Van Gogh: Painting, Drawings, Sketches (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: J.M. Meulenhoff and John Benjamins, 1996), p. 317.

17b 3 In regards death everybody is a mystic : cf. but it is hard | not to be a mystic | with regard to | death, Piero Heliczer, Buckingham Palace, The First Battle of the Marne (New York: The Dead Language, 1962) [unpaginated]. Reprinted in A Purchase in the White Botanica: the collected poetry of Piero Heliczer. ed. Gerard Malanga and Anselm Hollo. (New York: Granary Books, 2001), p. 88. Cheeseburgers may be required in Paradise: cf. Cheeseburger in Paradise, a song by American popular music singer Jimmy Buffett (ABC, 1978).

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GLOSSATOR 8
7 Ted: Possibly Ted Berrigan (19341983). Cf. Nothing For You (Berkeley: Angel Hair Books, 1977), for a knack of using You without using you. Galerie Fiolet: Art gallery in Amsterdam.

8 18a

1-2 Brooklyn Yoghurt | Chewing Gum: Brooklyn Chewing Gum was a cycling team during the 1970s and early 1980s. 2 la gomma del ponto: [the gum of the bridge]. Slogan associated with the Italian gum brand Brooklyn Chewing Gum. Not To Be: Cf. To be or not to be, that is the question (Hamlet). See William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ed. Philip Edwards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 159 (Act 3, Scene 1, l.56).

11-12 I have played | the horses Crucible, Nom de Plume, Ecstasy, and Werther: I have playd the horses: | Crucible, Nom de Plume. Ecstasy and Werther. From Robert Duncan, Domestic Scenes (10: Piano). Robert Duncan, The Collected Early Poems and Plays, ed. Peter Quartermain (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), p. 179. 18b 4 Grace Hartigans post doctoral work: The American Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan (19222008) never took a doctorate or went to university. The phrase post doctoral could refer to her work as a university teacher: In 1960 [she] left New York to teach the graduate painting programme at the Maryland Institute College of Art; she became director of the Hoffberger School of Painting in 1965, where she taught until retiring last year. See her obituary in The Daily Telegraph, 18 November 2008.

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19a 5 California girl: California Girls is a 1965 song by The Beach Boys. A sure sign of victory, seeing a lot of sable coats and crocodile bags leaving Iran: A reference to the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79. Cf. You see a lot of sable coats | and crocodile bags leaving Tehran a sign of victory from an unpublished poem by Rodefer, dated 5 December 1978 (Box 26, Folder 14, Rodefer Papers at Stanford [collection no.: M693]). Cf. also another reference to the IranIraq War (began September 1980) at 29b:12 (SWTLO) below.

11

19b 3-4 Once upon a time there were four rabbits running along | toward their mischief: Once upon a time there were four little rabbits and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter. [] Now run along and dont get into mischief [, said old Mrs Rabbit. ] I am going out. See Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (London: Penguin Books, 2012 [first published by Frederick Warne, 1902]), pp. 7-12. 4 This, as in with this ring I thee wed: Suggests a reference to J.L. Austins Speech Act Theory. In How To Do Things With Words, Austin uses a similar example from the marriage ceremony as the first illustration of his idea of performative language: (E. a) I do (sc. take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife) as uttered in the course of the marriage ceremony. [footnote: Austin realized that the expression I do is not used in the marriage ceremony too late to correct his mistake. We have let it remain in the text as it is philosophically unimportant that it is a mistake. J.O.U. ] (p. 5). With this ring I thee wed is also a 1950 song by Hank Snow. That was not a nice letter: cf. The letter was not nice but full of charge (Friar Laurence). William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet. ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 195 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.18).

14

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GLOSSATOR 8
20a 11 VSD 71248: Catalogue number of American composer Frederic Rzewskis (b. 1938) The People United Will Never Be Defeated, with Ursula Oppens (b. 1944) on piano (Vanguard, 1978).

20b [no notes] 21a [no notes] 21b 13 15 glassies: marbles. Its a wonder all the tall trees are not lying down on strike : Its a wonder tall trees aint layin down, a lyric from Neil Young, Comes A Time, Comes A Time (Reprise Records, 1978).

22a 10 Scorpian and Felix: Skorpion und Felix, Humoristischer Roman [Scorpion and Felix, A Humoristic Novel] is an early work by Karl Marx. The only surviving sections are those Marx included as a supplement accompanying his Book of Verse (1837). For a discussion of the work and its satiric methods, see Margaret A. Rose Reading the Young Marx and Engels (London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1978), pp. 46-50. See 44b:14 (PD) for another reference to a first work by a famous author (Flaubert): Rewrite the last chapter of November, for it is too dim witted and autumnal.

22b [no notes] 23a 1 chicanisma: a slang term with a specific ethnic consciousness used by Chicana feminists. Chicanisma simply means Chicananess the essence or spirit of being a Chicana Mexicanness with an added political conviction. See Edn E.

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Torres, Ella Que Jefes y No Los Ve, Se Queda en Cueros: Chicana Intellectuals (Re)Creating Revolution in Is Academic Feminism Dead? Theory in Practice, ed. The Social Justice Group at the Center for Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota (New York and London: New York University Press, 2000), p. 240. 4-5 With HUE like that of some great painter, | who dips his pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse: cf. With hue like that when some great painter dips | His pencil in the doom of earthquake and eclipse. Percy Byshe Shelley, The Revolt of Islam (Canto V, ll. 1925-6) Shelley: Poetical Works, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 84. 7 Irving Flores: Irving Flores Rodrguez was a participant in the United States Capitol shooting incident of March 1, 1954 in which four Puerto Rican nationalists fired thirty rounds from the Ladies Gallery of the House of Representatives chamber in the United States Capitol. Cf. Return Puerto Rico to the Indians at 48b:11 (PD) below. Stand backish: Surely a pun on Stan Brakhage (19332003) the American film maker. Johnnie Squeekie: English rendering of Gianni Schicchi, the title of Puccinis one act comic opera, composed in 1917-18.

11

15

23b 1 As you expand become all evocative: Cf. The words, as they expand, become all-evocative, from Lu Chi (261-303CE), The Joy of Writing, trans. Shih-hsiang Chen. Anthology of Chinese Literature, ed. Cyril Birch (New York: Grove Press, 1994 [1965]), p. 207. Dinky Baby: a type of cloth doll first devised in 1978 (See http://www.dinkybaby.com/about-us.htm).

11

24a [no notes]

133

GLOSSATOR 8

SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHT ON


25 Ep1 That [] mingle: William Carlos Williams, Kora In Hell: Improvisations (1920). Reprinted in William Carlos Williams, Imaginations (London: MacGibbon & Kee Ltd., 1970), p. 59. For days affairs, Williams has days-affairs. The capitalization of replica and speech is Rodefers. The three ellipses, inserted by Rodefer contain the following phrases in Williams original paragraph (which is also in italics): (1) [of the day] ; (2) [This is the language to which few ears are tuned so that it is said by poets that few men are ever in their full senses since they have no way to use their imaginations.] (3) [in the dance.]. 27a 10-11 He wants her to lie down | beside the still : Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV): The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. | He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. The biblical phrasing is truncated and cut short such that, in the implied continuity of this sentence with the one but previous (A woman is dating an undertaker), the still suggests a corpse, or several corpses, somewhere in the close vicinity of this seduction (He wants her to lie down). Or, which is opposite, the still could be read as the still living, i.e. the undertaker who is undertaking this seduction; he whom it is still possible to lie down beside in a sexual context. Reading with the source of the quotation more in mind than its immediate context in the poem, the still could suggest an apparatus for distillation (OED n.1.a), distilling the still waters of the Psalm, through reduction of the phrase, into intoxicating spirits. There is a more overt reference to Psalm 23 at 57a:12 (PS) below. 14 Comes a tide to make the clams open up, into the figment called dusk: cf. Head through calm eye all light white calm all gone from mind. Figment dawn dispeller of figments and the other called dusk. Samuel Beckett, Lessness (1970) Reprinted in Samuel Beckett, Six Residua (London: John Calder, 1978),

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p. 49. Becketts calm appears to have become Rodefers clam. 28a 2 He bought the rocks and the rocks won: cf. I fought the law and the law won, a lyric from I Fought the Law a muchcovered 1959 song originally recorded by Sonny Curtis and The Crickets. The version by English punk rock band The Clash first appeared on their EP The Cost of Living (Columbia Records, 1979). Just another poet AGOG for foam: cf. I am agog for foam. the beginning of a Basil Bunting ode dedicated To Peggy Mullett. First Book of Odes, ode 3 (1926). Basil Bunting: The Complete Poems. (ed.) Richard Caddel (Oxford: Oxford Universtiy Press, 1994), p.81. Cf. also When some foam MAY | be agogger | than other foam, go for it | depending on which side of the bed sits || well with you, Stewed and Fraught with Birds, by Stephen Rodefer, Left Under A Cloud, London: Alfred David Editions, 2000, p. 48. Are you who they call Poochie?: Perhaps Poochie from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz (19222000). Poochie was a female character who first appeared on January 7, 1973. Cf. this same phrase as a part of a sentence at 31b:13 (SWTLO) below.

13

15

28b 5 If poems could kill, alot of people would die: cf. a contrastive sentiment possibly in back of this: It is difficult | to get the news from poems | yet men die miserably every day | for lack | of what is found there. William Carlos Williams, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Vol. II, 1939-1962, ed. Christopher MacGowan (Manchester: Carcanet, 1988), p. 318. Spengers: Spengers Fresh Fish Grotto (est. 1890), a restaurant th at 1919 4 Street in Berkeley, California.

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GLOSSATOR 8
10 Coming around the mountain: cf. Shell Be Coming Round the Mountain (also sometimes called Coming Round the Mountain), an American folk song. little Caesars: cf. Little Caesars, the large U.S. pizza chain founded in 1959. The companys famous advertising slogan Pizza! Pizza! was introduced in 1979.

14

14-15 NOME by any | other name would be very different: Cf. That which we call a rose | By any other word would smell as sweet (Juliet). William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet. ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 107. (Act 2, Scene 2, ll.43-44). Blakemore Evans notes: Q1s repetition of name from [2.2.]43, although formerly widely adopted, is best considered as an example of the kind of repetition common in reported texts. (p. 107). Rodefer is obviously riffing on the more famous reading. 29a 1-2 The text this morning dont hallelujah but its ready | to commit treason without fail: several phrases in this stanza are taken or adapted from the Prologue to Ralph Ellison s (1914 1994) Invisible Man (1952). This first appropriation of this text is the most obscured, redacted from across some thirty lines of Ellisons dialogue, thus:Brothers and sisters, my text this morning is the Blackness of Blackness.[] Halleluiah . . . [] Is you ready to commit treason? Ralph Ellison, Prologue to Invisible Man (London: Penguin, c.1999 [1952]), pp. 12-13. 2 I have a radio phonograph and plan to have more : cf. Now I have one radio-phonograph; I plan to have five. See Ralph Ellison, Prologue to Invisible Man (London: Penguin, c.1999 [1952]), p. 10. The smart money hits the canvas as the yokel says his piece : cf. The smart money hit the canvas. The long shot got the nod. The yokel had simply stepped inside of his opponent s sense of time. See Ralph Ellison, Prologue to Invisible Man (London: Penguin, c.1999 [1952]), p. 10.

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5 They laugh but they moans too: cf. I laughs too, but I moans too. [] Ralph Ellison, Prologue to Invisible Man (London: Penguin, c.1999 [1952]), p.13. The night is pricking on plain juice: cf. nights plain pricks at 30a:4 (SWTLO) below. Jackson: Jackson Pollock (1912 1956) the American painter. (For evidence of this identification, see the following note.) didnt like to be doing stuff with coffee: cf. Although Jackson Pollock was staying in New York for about three months from Thanksgiving 1949 onwards, he did not regularly attend the meetings at The Club. He did attend The Club once in the winter of 1950 but left before the lecture had finished. Harold Rosenberg would later say, Jackson didnt like doing things with coffee. Deborah Solomon, Jackson Pollock: A Biography (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001), p. 201. Rosenbergs remark is recorded by John Gruen in The Partys Over Now (New York: Viking, 1967), p. 177.

14

14

29b 12 Why should a dog a rat?: This phrase is also a line in Rodefers poem Brief to Butterick, Left Under A Cloud (London: Alfred David Editions, 2000), p. 20. The poem is dated 7/29/88, Berkeley (p. 23). Why should Iran Iraq?: cf. The IranIraq War, September 1980 to August 1988, also known as the (First) Gulf War. Also cf. the reference to the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 at 19a:11 (WIWIR) above.

12

30a 1-2 It would be difficult to determine just what would be the right moment | to cease to be Hart Crane : cf. Impossible to embark on anything and not flirt with going overboard 31b:3 (SWTLO) below; another possible reference to the death of Hart Crane, who jumped from the stern of the ship Orizaba about three hundred miles north of Havana on 27 April

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1932. See Waldo Frank, Forward to Hart Crane, Complete Poems (1958). Reprinted in Hart Crane, Complete Poems. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1987), p. 21. 4 nights plain pricks: cf. The night is pricking on plain juice at 29a:9 (SWTLO) above.

30b [no notes] 31a 2-3 Personally I have a distaste for | miscellany: written by Wallace Stevens, in a letter (of 9 April [year not given]) to William Carlos Williams, quoted by the latter in the Prologue to his Kora In Hell: Improvisations (1920). Reprinted in William Carlos Williams, Imaginations (London: MacGibbon & Kee Ltd., 1970), p. 15. 3 absolutely programmed against Personism per se: I am absolutely programmed against personism per se was written to me by Barrett Watten, rejecting some poems of mine for This or Poetics Journal, where he did finally publish the Pretext and Codex of Four Lectures. See Michael Kindellan, Joshua Kotin and V. Joshua Adams, An Interview with Stephen Rodefer Chicago Review 54:3 (Winter 2009), pp. 8-28 (p. 22). Laughter is the reverse of aspiration: cf. It is necessary to know that laughter is the reverse of aspiration. William Carlos Williams, Kora In Hell: Improvisations (1920). Reprinted in William Carlos Williams, Imaginations (London: MacGibbon & Kee Ltd., 1970), p.17. Cf. 25:Ep1 (SWTLO), also from Kora In Hell. The sun is captivated by the dews beauty, and longs to view it more closely: See H.A. Guerber Myths of Greece and Rome (London: CRW Publishing Limited, 2004 [(New York: The American Book Company, 1893)]), p. 64: This story of Apollo and Daphne was an illustration of the effect produced by the sun (Apollo) upon the dew (Daphne). The sun is captivated by its beauty, and longs to view it more closely ;

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the dew, afraid of its ardent lover, flies, and, when its fiery breath touches it, vanishes, leaving nothing but verdure in the selfsame spot where but a moment before it sparkled in all its purity. 9 Nothing so dry as DROPSY, but thinking makes it so: cf. for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet). William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ed. Philip Edwards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 141 (Act 2, Scene 2, ll.239-40). Cf. another reference to this line of Hamlets at 45b:15 (PD) below. Several further instances illustrate the prominence of this line across Rodefers career. The phrase Thinking | makes it so appears among Rodefers annotations of his copy of Robert Creeleys Pieces (New York: C. Scribners Sons, 1969) in the Cambridge University Library (classmark: Adv.d.118.2) (on p. 3). Nothing is black or white, but color makes it so appears in Imitation W, Emergency Measures (Great Barrington: The Figures, 1987), reprinted in Call It Thought: Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), p. 94. Nothing is but thinking makes it so appears in The Age in its Cage: A Note to Mr. Mendelssohn on the Social Allegory of Literature and the Deformation of the Canonymous Chicago Review 51/52:4/1 (Spring 2006), 108-122 (p. 120). A further possible faint echo occurs in Four Lectures at 57a:10 (PS), below: Nothing so bad as ordinary sweet and sour sauce. Masturbating he thought, if only I could satisfy my hunger so easily: This idea has since antiquity been attributed to the cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope. The account of Diogenes in Dio Crysostom has been neatly summarised by Jonathan Margolis: [Diogenes] argued that sexual competitiveness was a destructive force in society, unnecessary since it was possible to find, Aphrodite everywhere, without expense. When someone asked what he meant, Diogenes started to masturbate in front of his audience, saying to his surprised fans and critics: Would to Heaven that by rubbing my stomach in the same fashion, I could satisfy my hunger. (O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm (New York: Grove Press, 2004), p. 162). Cf. The Sixth Discourse: Diogenes, in Dio Crysostom, trans. J. W. Cohoon,

13

139

GLOSSATOR 8
Vol. I (London and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949), pp. 260-1. Farrand Sayre notes that [m]any of the Diogenes apophthegms were obviously borrowed from other individuals in his Diogenes of Sinope: A Study of Greek Cynicism (Baltimore: J. H. Furst Company, 1938), p. 106. 14 The father of the country: George Washington (17321799), first President of the United States (17891797).

31b 3 Impossible to embark on anything and not flirt with going overboard: Possibly a reference to the death of Hart Crane, who jumped from the stern of the ship Orizaba about three hundred miles north of Havana on 27 April 1932. Waldo Frank, Forward to Complete Poems [of Hart Crane] (1958). Reprinted in Hart Crane, Complete Poems. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1987), p. 21. Cf. It would be difficult to determine just what would be the right moment | to cease to be Hart Crane. at 30a:1-2 (SWTLO) above. The general sense of embark, To engage in a business or undertaking (OED v. 4.), is here shown specifically to comprehend the earlier nautical sense to put on board a ship (OED v. 1.a.), in the notion of going overboard. This term for jumping ship in turn opens out onto its more general figurative senses: v phr 1 to be smitten with love or helpless admiration ; 2. To commit oneself excessively or perilously. Dictionary of th American Slang, 4 edn., ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 223. Cf. also embarking up the wrong tree at 47b:6 (PD) below for another play on the word embark. are you who they call Poochie?: cf. this same phrase as a whole sentence at 28a:15 (SWTLO) above.

13

32a 2 Waking, it was noon: cf. Au rveil il tait midi., last line of Rimbauds Aube [Dawn], from Les Illuminations (published 1886) which could be translated as Waking, it was noon. Wallace Fowlie, in Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters, has On waking, it was midday. (Chicago and London:

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Chicago University Press, 1966), p. 215. Waking it was Noon is the title given to a draft of Rodefers poem Stormy Weather (Call It Thought: Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), p. 83) in Box 25, Folder 15 of Rodefer s papers at Stanford [collection no.: M693]. The draft is dated 7 November 1977. 13 You have a new ribbon and some free time, what do you want to refer to something for? : This line appears to be a reworking, with respect to the activity of writing, of a phrase about painting attributed by Rodefer to Willem de Kooning. Cf. You got a brush. You got some paint on it. What do you want to do a horse for? Willem deKooning [sic] (Rodefer papers at Stanford University, Box 26, Folder 13 (folder entitled Four Lectures miscellaneous). The typewritten sheet of notes where this line appears is dated 7/11/78 (i.e. 11 July 1978). ribbon: for a typewriter.

13

32b [no notes] 33a 15 Better write than read: cf. Ever since his youth, Rosenzweig had believed that the ultimate test of one s philosophy was his life. Better write than read, he wrote in his diary in 1907, better write poetry than write; better live than write poetry. His life was as good as his word. See The Path to Utter Freedom [author not given] Time Magazine. (Monday, August 9, 1971), p. 43. Franz Rosenzweig (18861929) was a Jewish theologian and philosopher.

33b 1 Give him head hell prove a jade: cf. Sir, give him head. I know hell prove a jade (Lucentio) in William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew. ed. Ann Thompson (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 2003), p. 87 (Act 1, Scene 2, l.242). Thompsons note to this line is worth mentioning: prove a jade i.e. soon tire. A jade is a worn out horse (see

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GLOSSATOR 8
76-7 n.) whose debility would soon be revealed by giving it its head (p. 87). She doesnt gloss this second phrase, presumably meaning to allow latitude, or (in another equestrian figure) a free rein. Cf. also, a more recent idiom coincident with Shakespeares language: give head v phr To th do fellatio (1950s +) Dictionary of American Slang, 4 edn., ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 210. 1 Nugatory and jejune: cf. meretricious, nugatory, vulgar, and jejune. Those national tendencies. See Stephen Rodefer, The Age in its Cage: A Note to Mr. Mendelssohn on the Social Allegory of Literature and the Deformation of the Canonymous, Chicago Review. 51/52:4/1 (Spring 2006), 108122 (p. 117). The one to watch in the fourth is FICTIVE MUSIC: cf. To The One Of Fictive Music, a poem from Wallace Stevens first book of poetry, Harmonium (1922). See The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. (London: Faber and Faber, 1949), pp. 87-88. The phrase the one to watch suggests a gamblers tip for a horserace in which a horse named Fictive Music is running. In this regard, cf. the lines about horseracing from Robert Duncans poem Domestic Scenes quoted at 18a:11-12 (WIWIR) above. on the journey to American history: This phrase constitutes the penultimate line of Song to Fidel [Spanish: Canto a Fidel] by Ernesto [Che] Guevara in the translation by Ed Dorn and Gordon Brotherston. Printed in Ed Dorn and Gordon Brotherston, Our word: guerrilla poems from Latin America (London: Cape Goliard, 1968), [unpaginated] (first poem in the book).

10

34a 3 34b 4 rake what you have mown: this phrase echoes reap what you have sown, an English phrase of Biblical origin, meaning to O one hundred hours: i.e. 1am (01:00), as well as a lyric cry.

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HEAMES RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES


bear the consequences of ones actions (sooner or later). Cf. Galatians 6:7 (KJV): whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. From this derives the English proverb As they sow rd so let them reap The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs. 3 edn., revised by F. P. Wilson, intro. Joanna Wilson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) p. 757 (S 687). Cf. also U.S. proverb Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind in A Dictionary of American Proverbs. ed. Wolfgang Mieder (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 656-7. 12-13 I can just see myself, | sitting on a horse for the next century: I can see myself sitting on a horse for the next century is a line from the US comedy drama film To Be Or Not To Be (1942), directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Screenplay by Edwin Justus. 15 you walk out of your slippers and into my soliloquy : cf. first you walk out on my soliloquy and then you walk into my slippers. Line spoken by Josef Tura, a character in the US comedy drama film To Be or Not to Be (1942). See note to 34b:12-13 (SWTLO) above.

35a 11 The plan is the body thanks alot: cf. The plan is the body thanks a lotour own and the body of work. Stephen Rodefer, The Age in its Cage: A Note to Mr. Mendelssohn on the Social Allegory of Literature and the Deformation of the Canonymous Chicago Review. 51/52:4/1 (Spring 2006), 108-122, p.121. Another phrase from the same paragraph of this essay is taken from the following stanza of Four Lectures, cf. 35b:8 (SWTLO) below.

35b 3 To please my friend better I will put on this pretty hat : This phrase is a hypothetical reconstruction of text from a South Netherlandish medieval tapestry, Honor Making a Chaplet of Roses (ca. 141020), in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Accession Number: 59.85). The girl, obviously showing off her hat, is probably saying To please my friend

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GLOSSATOR 8
better I will put on this pretty hat (Pour mieus perre a mi | afulerai ce capu io il). Bonnie Young, The Lady Honor and Her Children. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 21, No. 10 (Jun., 1963), 340-348, p. 343. A high resolution image of the tapestry is available online at http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-thecollections/70008537#fullscreen 4 Amputate the freckled bosom and make me bearded like a man: Amputate my freckled Bosom! | Make me bearded like a man! are lines from [Poem 1737] by Emily Dickinson (18301886). The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968), Vol. III, p. 1168. If you dont buy this urinal, Ill shoot this dog: cf. Buy this magazine or well kill this dog, from the cover of U.S. satirical magazine National Lampoon, for January 1973. In the cover image, a mans hand holds a revolver to a dogs head. Life is a waste of money: Rodefer repeats this phrase in The Age in its Cage: A Note to Mr. Mendelssohn on the Social Allegory of Literature and the Deformation of the Canonymous, Chicago Review. 51/52:4/1 (Spring 2006), 108122: Oh well, why not, offer the lordly and isolate satyrs. Life is a waste of money anyway. Might as well spend it at some vanity fair. As ROD MENGHAM said to me at the bar, If youve got it, spend it. If you dont got it, spend it. (p. 121). Another phrase from the same paragraph of this essay is taken from the previous stanza of Four Lectures, cf. 35a:11 (SWTLO) above. NAIROBI STEREOPHONIC DINER : Niarobis Stereophonic Diner was a restaurant in Miami.

36a [no notes]

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PLANE DEBRIS
37 Ep1 cf. Who will believe my verse in time to come Sonnet 17 (l.1). William Shakespeare, The Complete Sonnets and Poems. ed. Colin Burrow (Oxford: Oxford World Classics, 2002), p. 415. Ep2 cf. [Orlando:] Your accent is something finer than you could purchase in so removed a dwelling. [Rosalind:] I have been told so of many: but indeed an old religious uncle of mine taught me to speak, who was in his youth an inland man, one that knew courtship too well, for there he fell in love. I have heard him read many lectures against it William Shakespeare, As You Like It. ed. Michael Hattaway (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 159. (Act 3, Scene 3, ll.286-291). Note that Rodefer flags up one editorial intervention with an ellipsis, but not the other. Cf. also a reference to lines 286-7 at 61b:6-7 (PS) below. 39a 1 My mind to me mangles iron: cf. My mind | to me a mangle is., last two lines of Robert Creeley, Chasing the Bird, The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 19451975 (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982), p. 60. Cf. also, Rodefers early unpublished poem Budgerigar, titled in one draft The Mind Will Be A Mangle Unto You. (Box 30, Folder 21 [Mss. From Buffalo 1960-1970 (4 of 8)], Stephen Rodefer Papers at Stanford [collection no.: M693]).

6-7 Measurement | means distance, and is political: cf. I say comparison is not the way. Measurement means distance. See J. Krishnamurti, Tradition and Revolution (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1972). Whole text available online at: http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/viewtext.php?tid=21&chid=562&w=traditions%20and%20revolout ion. 9 WET: WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, also known as WET Magazine, or simply WET, was originally published

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between 1976-81 in Venice, California by Leonard Koren. Cf. http://www.wetmagazine.com. The bio note on p. 77 of Four Lectures mentions that Rodefer has written on art and culture for WET magazine. 11 Harry: Given the density of references to Shakespeares King Henry V in the next three stanzas, this name here is likely also a reference to that play. The rest is loss: cf. The rest is silence (Hamlet). William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ed. Philip Edwards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 253 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.337).

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40a 1 Still be kind and eke out the performance with your mind : cf. Still be kind, | And eke out our performance with your mind. (Chorus). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 124 (Prologue to Act 3, ll.34-35).

3-4 You must reveal your self, | your time, and the structural development of art up till now: cf. Completed, the art object is nothing but the fantasy of a given artist at a particular time. If fully worked and read totally, it will reveal all there is to know about the life of the artist, the conditions in which it was made, as well as implicate the development of art up to its example. From the Preface to Four Lectures (p. 9). 5 Let us match our racquets to their balls : cf. When we have matched our rackets to these balls | We will in France, by Gods grace, play a set | Shall strike his fathers crown in to the hazard. (King Henry). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 95 (Act 1, Scene 2, ll.261-263). gross natural array: cf. Given many things of nearly totally divergent natures but possessing one-thousandth part of a quality in common, provided that be new, distinguished, these things belong to an imaginative category and not in a gross

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natural array. William Carlos Williams, Prologue to Kora In Hell: Improvisations (1920). Reprinted in William Carlos Williams, Imaginations (London: MacGibbon & Kee Ltd., 1970), p. 14. 11 spindrift: Cf. The seals wide spindrift gaze toward paradise., last line of Voyages II by Hart Crane, first published in White Buildings (1926). See Complete Poems. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1987, p. 55. Rodefer admires this poem and read it at the first event of the Cambridge Reading Series, Friday 12 February 2010, Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio, University of Cambridge Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge.

40b 3 Dying with the tide turning: cf. A parted een just between twelve and one, een at the turning othe tide (Hostess). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 114. (Act 2, Scene 3, ll.10-11) The Hostess is describing the death of Falstaff. Cf. also notes to lines 6 and 7 of this stanza. guarded by babies and old women: cf. Guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women (Chorus). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 124. (Act 3, Prologue, l.20) The nose as wet as a pen, cold as stone: For his nose was as sharp as a pen [] [His feet] were as cold as any stone. (Hostess). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 114 (Act 2, Scene 3, ll.13-14; l.20). Still crying out for company and the sack: cf. They say he cried out of sack (Nym). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 115 (Act 2, Scene 3, l.23).

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7-8 It is the same for us all, | so God bless you: cf. possibly: tis shame for us all! So God sa me (Macmorris). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 132. (Act 3, Scene 3, l.50) 9 Let me entreat your succor: cf. The Dauphin, whom of succours we entreated (Govenor). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 135 (Act 3, Scene 4, l.45). If you are dead, Ill slumber: cf. Though we seemed dead, we did but sleep (Montjoy). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 147 (Act 3, Scene 7, l.103). The dull ear is dumber than night: cf. Piercing the nights dull ear (Chorus). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 155 (Prologue to Act 4, l.11). If the enemy is an ass, speak lower: cf. If the enemy is an ass (Fluellen) ; I will speak lower (Gower). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p.160 (Act 4, Scene 1, l.74 ; l.78). I love the lovely bully: Cf. I love the lovely bully (Pistol). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 159 (Act 4, Scene 1, l.46). Pistol is speaking of the king, but does not know he is also speaking to him. We know enough if we know we are subjects : cf. we know enough | if we know we are the kings subjects (Bates). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 162 (Act 4, Scene 1, ll.120-121). Achieve me and you can sell my bones: cf. Bid them achieve me, and then sell my bones (King Henry V). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge:

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Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 177 (Act 4, Scene 3, l.91). 15 my horse is my mistress: cf. my horse is my mistress (Bourbon). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 151 (Act 3, Scene 8, l.40). pouring dark: creeping murmur and the poring [sic] dark (Chorus). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 155 (Prologue to Act 4, l.2).

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41a 5 Break my mind to me in broken English: cf. break thy mind to me in broken English. (King Henry V). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 213. (Act 5, Scene 2, ll.222-223). It contents me: cf. Den it sall also content me (Katherine). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 213 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.226). In little rooms: cf. possibly In little room confining mighty men (Chorus). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 218. (Epilogue to Act 5, l.3). I cannot tell what is like me: cf. Pardonnez-moi, I cannot tell vat is like me (Katherine). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 208 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.107). I speak your tongue and you mine: cf. thy speaking of my tongue and I thine (King Henry V). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 211 (Act 5, Scene 2, ll.175-6).

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10-11 Nice customs. | Great curtsy: cf. O Kate, nice customs curtsy to great kings (King Henry V). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 214 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.243). 11 Besotted traveller: cf. World-besotted traveller from William Butler Yeats, Swifts Epitaph, first published in The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933). See The Poems. ed. Daniel Albright (London: Everyman, 1992), p. 296. if I might BUFFET for a moment: cf. if I might buffet for my love (King Henry V). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2005), p. 209 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.133). does peace nurse arts: Cf. peace, | Dear nurse of arts (Burgundy). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 205 (Act 5, Scene 2, ll.34-35). A shale, pale English shore, more sure than France : cf. France and England, whose very shores look pale (French King). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 216 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.313). The rest of this line, appears to be an original piece of Rodeferian Shakespearese. They long to eat English: cf. He longs to eat the English (Rambures). William Shakespeare, King Henry V. ed. Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 152 (Act 3, Scene 8, l.83). Referring to the Duke of Bourbon.

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41b [no notes] 42a 3 Bells on bobtail ring: A lyric from the song Jingle Bells written by James Lord Pierpont (18221893) and published under the title One Horse Open Sleigh in 1857.

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9-10 When youre dreaming lucky baby, | you wake up cold in hand: cf. Sometimes you are lucky, or at least you can dream luckyeven if you wake up cold in hand. From the Liner notes to Langston Hughes Blues in Stereo, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (New York: Vintage Classics, 1995), pp. 494-496 ; Liner notes, p. 529. 10-11 Life in this family is one | subpoena after another: Mr. Bullock speaks this line in the 1936 American comedy film My Man Godfrey, directed by Gregory La Cava. 42b 5 blanketing the globe with phones: Blanketing The Globe With Phones was the title of an article in The New York Times Magazine for February 3, 1980, by Peter J. Schuyten, p. 25.

43a 4 In love it could be anyone. It could be anyone, in love : A painting of Rodefers depicts line. The painting is almost certainly much more recent than Four Lectures, likely from the decade 2000-2009. writing writing: cf. Writing Writing: A Composition Book. Stein Imitations, by Robert Duncan (Albuquerque, NM, Sumbooks: 1964). Cf. also, Rodefers own recent poem Writing Writing published in No Prizes, no. 1, ed. Ian Heames, Cambridge, 2012, pp. 24-32. Jogs, cotillions, reels, and breakdowns : cf. Jigs, cotillions, reels, an breakdowns, cordrills an a waltz er two, from The Party by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1976), p. 137. Im Stephen. Matthew. David. You name it. We got it : Steven Matthew David was the proprietor of Matthew s, an audiovideo retailer and bike shop at 6400 Mission Street, Daly City, California. Matthews was open from the 1960s until late 1992. [Source: comments left on YouTube by phatsounds02

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(c. Feb 2010.) and FromUR2UB (c. Aug 2010) on a video of a 1988 Matthews advertisement, entitled Matthews Top of the Hill. Daly City. 2nd Commercial.: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=8ke1tc4pWGA] 43b [no notes] 44a 1-2 Is and when he comes to the door to get some more cologne he is just like a pane of glass | Frank OHaras longest line?: and [] glass is a line from Frank OHaras Embarrassing Bill. See The Collected Poems of Frank OHara (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 359. There are several lines in O Haras Collected that are longer. 2 a very palpable hat: cf. A hit, a very palpable hit (Osric). William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ed. Philip Edwards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 249 (Act 5, Scene 2, l.257). our sometime listener, now our scene: cf. In fair Verona (where we lay our scene) (Chorus). William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet. ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 67 (Prologue to Act 1, l.2). Build a wall around the self and dont go in: this phrase is deployed, first thusly Build a wall around the self & dont go | in. [sic], and subsequently twice again without a line break in George Bowerings poem A Mask Over the Eyes, Delayed Mercy and Other Poems (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1986), p. 19. The poem is dedicated fr Stephen Rodefer [sic].

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44b 4 Joy Luck: Possibly the Joy Luck Restaurant, a Chinese th restaurant at 327 8 Street, Oakland, California. Some trees: Some Trees is the title of John Ashberys second book of poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956).

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Hope: Presumably Bob Hope (19032003) the American comedian and actor. Lists keep track: cf. Liszt kept track 48b:5 (PD) below. People will talk: People Will Talk is a 1951 romantic comedy/drama directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It is also the title of an American game show that aired on NBC from July 1 to December 27, 1963. People will say were in love: People Will Say Were In Love is a much-covered show tune from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! (1943). November: likely a reference to the 1842 novella Novembre by Gustave Flaubert, long out of print in English before the appearance of Frank Jellineks translation, November, ed. and intro. Francis Steegmuller (London: Michael Joseph, 1966). Cf. another reference to a first novel by a famous writer, Scorpion and Felix, by Karl Marx at 22a:10 (WIWIR)] above (Rodefer spells it Scorpian). I remember well the well where was the water: cf. Yeah!, Im proud to be a coal miners daughter | I remember wellthe well where I drew water are lyrics to Coal Miners Daughter by country and western singer Loretta Lynn (Decca, 1970).

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45a 4 last of the great stations: refers to the Los Angeles Union Station (or LAUS), a major passenger rail terminal and transit station in Los Angeles, California, which opened in May 1939.

45b 5 This is where I get off: cf. the train ride in the previous stanza (45a:11). Cf. also the several slang senses of get off (v phr) as potential secondary meanings: 1 To get relief and pleasure from a dose of narcotics. 2 To do the sex act; have an orgasm;

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get it off. 3 To play an improvised solo (1930+ Mucicians). 4 To avoid the consequences of; get away with something (1835 +) See Tell someone where to get off. Dictionary of American Slang, th 4 edn., ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 204. 15 Thinking makes it. You ask so?: cf. for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet). William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ed. Philip Edwards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 141 (Act 2, Scene 2, ll.239-40). Cf. another reference to this line of Hamlets at 31a:9 (SWTLO) above, the note to which also lists other references to the same line across Rodefers works.

46a 2 Sunup, sunset: cf. Sunup. Sunset. Pour it on. Ancient cake. A & C, An Idyll in One Act, Stephen Rodefer, Call It Thought (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), p. 142.

46b 8 Everything is up to date in Kansas City: Everythings Up To Date In Kansas City is a song from the stage show Oklahoma!, by composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, premiered on Broadway in 1943. the gay sisters: cf. The Gay Sisters, a 1942 American drama film directed by Irving Rapper. The maintains: Perhaps cf. The Maintains, by Clark Coolidge (Oakland, CA: This Press, 1974).

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47a 1 A beaver with a hardon: cf. beaver: n 3 The female genitals, esp with a display of pubic hair (1920s+ British [] 6 A woman (1970s+ Citizens band). 7 A person who works hard and diligently (mid-1800s+). Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 23. hardon: cf. hard-on: n 1 An erection of the penis

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(1893+). 2 A severe and intolerant person, esp a martinet leader or superior (1980s+). Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 243. See other note to this line. 6 benny: any amphetamine pill, esp Benzedrine (1950s +) th Dictionary of American Slang, 4 edn., ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 26. Onion tears ons cheek: perhaps cf. indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow. (Enobarbus) Willaim Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra. ed. David Bevington (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p.102 (Act 1, Scene 2, ll.162-163). The notion of onion-induced (false) tears, invoked again by Enobarbus at Act 4, Scene 2, l.36 (p. 209), is proverbial. Cf. Morris Palmer Tilley, A Dictionary of the Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1950), p. 515 (O67). Lice in her blouse: the following passage from a 2010 interview suggests Rodefer may intend this phrase, at least retroactively, to contain a reference to John Donnes poem The Flea: Lice in her blouse, a carlist association for a post well-donne lil insect, whose sting is the orgasm the poet writes without. See Michael Kindellan, Joshua Kotin, and V. Joshua Adams An Interview with Stephen Rodefer, Chicago Review 54:3 (Winter 2009), 8-28 (p. 24).

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47b 1-2 So lying forward weakly on the handrail, I had to own sometimes | I could see nothing but lilacs and endless rock : cf. So lying forward weakly on the handrail | I pushed myself upstairs, and in the light | (The kitchen had been dark) I had to own | I could see nothing. Robert Frost, Two Witches, Collected Poems, Prose & Plays. (New York: Library of America, 1995), p. 190. Cf. A blanket is frosting. (italics added), punning on Frosts name, in the last line of this stanza.

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2 croak: v 1. To die (1812 +) ; 2. To kill; murder (1848 +). Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 112. That cat embarking up the wrong tree: punning on [to] bark up the wrong tree: v phr To be mistaken; be seeking in the wrong direction in Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 18. Cf. also the various slang meanings of cat to refer to a person: n.1. a hobo or a migrant worker (1890s +) ; 2. A prostitute (1535 +) ; 4. A woman who, often subtly, attacks and denigrates other women (1760s +) ; 5. A man who dresses flashily and ostentatiously pursues worldly pleasure ; 6. A Jazz musician (1920s +) ; 7. Hipster (1960s +) ; 8. Any man (1940s +) (p. 79). Since its dogs who traditionally bark up trees, after cats they have chased there, the notion of a cat embarking makes for a particularly neat pun. Poinulus tremuloides: Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America, one of several species referred to by the common name Aspen (Wikipedia). Poinulus may refer to Poenulus, also called The Little Carthaginian, a comedy by Plautus Cf. Plautus The Little Carthaginian [Poenulus]; Pseudolus; The Rope. ed. and trans. Wolfgang de Melo (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2012), Vol. IV, pp. 1-171. If so, Rodefer has conflated the two in a play on both names. Leave not a match behind: cf. Leave not a rack behind (Prospero). William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. Stephen Orgel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 181 (Act 4, Scene 1, 1.156). frosting: an oblique reference to Robert Frost, from whom Rodefer quotes in the opening lines of this stanza, 47b:1-2 (PD).

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5 8 Liszt kept track: cf lists keep track at 44b:11 (PD) above. on the wagon: If you are on the wagon, you have decided not to drink any alcohol for a period of time See Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). verbs ate him: Punning on verbatim. Yeats Hoolihan: Cathleen N Houlihan (1902) is a one-act play written by William Butler Yeats (1865 1939) in collaboration with Lady Augusta Gregory (18521932). Return Puerto Rico to the Indians: cf. the reference to Puerto Rican nationalist Irving Flores Rodrguez at 23a:7 (WIWIR) above.

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49a 6 Time is the tempest: etymologically, tempest derives from Latin tempus a time, a season (OED). Cf. Nothing changes but the weather at 28b:9 (SWTLO) above. Cf. also references to Shakespeares play The Tempest in this stanza 49a:8 (PD) and at 47b:9 (PD) above. And when you woke, you cried to dream again: that when I waked | I cried to dream again. (Caliban) William Shakespeare The Tempest. ed. Stephen Orgel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 162 (Act 3, Scene 2, ll.140-141). By night the mind, by day the limbs: cf. Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind, | For thee, and for myself, no quiet find. Sonnet 27 (ll.13-14). William Shakespeare, The Complete Sonnets and Poems. ed. Colin Burrow (Oxford: Oxford World Classics, 2002), p. 435.

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49b 2 3 Penelope: The wife of Odysseus in Homers Odyssey. If you had any sense you would treat everything as though it were a thread: Given the mention of Penelope in the previous

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line, perhaps cf., with respect to thread, the famous story of her weaving and unweaving of Laertes shroud. The Odyssey, Book II, lines 101-122 in Robert Fagles translation (Bath: Viking Penguin, 1996), p. 96. 6 hip: hip v To make aware; inform (1932 +) [fr hep]. Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 259. Cf. but who could be hip to that? See Stephen Rodefer, Answer to Dr Agathon, Left Under A Cloud (London: Alfred David Editions, 2000) p. 35. loosener of limbs: Sappho refers to Love the loosener of limbs in the Loeb Classics translation by J. M. Edmonds. Lyra Graeca, ed. and trans. J.M. Edmonds, Vol. 1 (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press and Heinemann, 1934), p. 239. In Safety, his translations from Sappho and the Greek Anthology, Rodefer includes a version of the same fragment: Your sweet | And irresistible | Venom relaxes | These limbs and | Making them | A snake as well | Poisons the world. See Safety, in Miam, no.1 [entire issue], ed. Tom Mandel (May 1977) [unpaginated]; reprinted in a limited edition of 150 copies by Margery Cantor (Berkeley, 1985). Rodefers version is modelled on that by Mary Barnard: With his venom | irresistible | and bittersweet || that loosener |of limbs, Love || reptile-like | strikes me down. See With His Venom [poem 53], Sappho, trans. Mary Barnard (California: University of California Press, 1958). Cf. also: Loosener of limbs at 63b:5 (PS) below. and we are swiftly inside, the resurrection accomplished again: A mild game to divert the doorperson | And we are swiftly inside, the resurrection finished are the last lines of And Id Love You to Be in It by John Ashbery, As We Know (Manchester: Carcanet, 1981 [first published by Viking Press: New York, 1979]), p. 89. The same line of Ashberys is referenced again at 54b:9 (PS) below.

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9-10 My body lies | over the ocean: My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean is a traditional Scottish folk song.

PLASTIC SUTURES
51 Ep1 Frank OHara, Second Avenue, The Collected Poems of Frank OHara, ed. Donald Allen (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979) p. 141. Ep2 John Ashbery, Daffy Duck in Hollywood, Houseboat Days (New York: Penguin Books, 1977), pp. 31-34 (pp. 32, 33, 34) [three quotations run together]. Ep2 spookiness: this word is included in the index but unlike the other words entered there does not appear in capitals in the text. 53a 12 Editors change Paris: cf. Change edits Paris at 56b:14 (PS) below ; Paris edits change. at 61a:7 (PS) below.

54a 5 new wave: Perhaps cf. La Nouvelle Vague [The New Wave], a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s.

54b 2 while I am in the world: cf. John 9:5 (KJV): While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. all I can hold is the telephone: cf. Its so hard when Im feeling on fire | And all I can hold is the telephone wire | Its so hard being almost alone | And lying here in the dark | Makin love on the phone, lyrics to Love on the phone by Suzanne Fellini (Casablanca Records, 1980). Cf. a reference to another pop song involving telephones at 63b:1 (PS) below.

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9 A mild game to divert the doorperson and we are swiftly inside inside: Cf. A mild game to divert the doorperson | And we are swiftly inside, the resurrection finished. the last lines of And Id Love You to Be in It, by John Ashbery. Published in As We Know (Manchester: Carcanet, 1981 [first published by Viking Press: New York, 1979]), p. 89. This quotation is unusual for being acknowledged as such by the use quotation marks. Cf. So Anthony says bye | to Alexandria, and we are swiftly inside, the resurrection accomplished again at 49b:1415 (PD) above.

14-15 You know technique is always a means of arriving | at a statement: Cf. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement. Jackson Pollock, interview by William Wright, Summer 1950 (for broadcasting, but never used). Pollocks remark is quoted in Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics, ed. Clifford Ross (New York: Abrahams Publishers, 1990), p. 145; but there must be an earlier published source, since this book post-dates Four Lectures. Cf also: Subterfuge may be | the respectable technique at 60b:6 (PS) below. 55a 1 slung leg motif: a motif in Renaissance and Classical art and sculpture signifying sexual union.

55b 1-2 fortune | cookie crumbles: cf. the commonplace phrases crumbs from the table and how the cookie crumbles. 5 But not yet have I blown the noble strain: Quoted by Longinus in On the Sublime: For if I see one hearthholder alone, | Ill weave one torrent coronal of flame | And fire his homestead to a heap of ash. | But not yet have I blown the noble strain. An editorial footnote adds: Probably from Aeschylus Orithyia (fr. 281 Radt). The speaker is Boreas. See Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts

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(Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 167. 6 Not a single emotion but a whole congress: cf. Is it not wonderful how she [Sappho] summons at the same time, soul, body, hearing, tongue, sight, colour, all as though they had wandered off apart from herself? She feels contradictory sensations, freezes, burns, raves, reasonsfor one that is at the point of death is clearly beside herself. She wants to display not a single emotion but a whole congeries of emotions. Longinus, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 201. Where the 1995 edition has congeries, the previous edition (London: Heinemann, 1927) of the same Loeb Classics volume, eds. E. Capps, T.E. Page, W.H.D. Rouse, has congress, which for Rodefers purposes may also suggest a pun on sexual congress, lost in the newer translation. the diction stamps danger in its FIGURE. Now it was evening, etc: cf. [] almost stamped on the diction the precise form of the danger swept out from under the jaws of destruction. Comparable to this passage of Archilochus about the shipwreck [editorial footnote: Archilochus frr. 105-6 West.] and the description of the arrival of the news in Demosthenes. Now it was evening, etc. [editorial footnote: De corona 169: Now it was evening, and there came one with a message for the pryaneis, that Elatea had fallen; there follows a vivid description of the ensuing panic at Athens. Elatea fell to Philip late in 339.] What they have done is to clean up, as it were, the very best of the main points, and to fit them together, allowing nothing affected or undignified or pedantic to intervene. These things ruin the whole, by introducing, as it were, gaps and crevices into masses which are built together, walled in by their mutual relationships. Longinus, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans.

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Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 205. 11 Given the world, you should develop your faculty for stomaching: cf. Philip, he says, had a wonderful faculty for stomaching things. Thus a common expression sometimes proves far more vivid than elegant language. Longinus, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 259. The most effective figure will be that which is undisclosed : cf. So we find that a figure is always most effective when it conceals the very fact of its being a figure. Longinous, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics; Longinous, On the Sublime; Demetrius, On Style. ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell (Aristotle); trans. W.H. Fyfe, revised by Donald Russell (Longinus); ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Demetruis). (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 231. He cut himself into strips until he made mincemeat of himself and disappeared: cf. It is much the same with Herodotus phrases: In his madness, he says, Cleomenes cut his own flesh into strips with a dagger, until he made mincemeat of himself and perished, [] Longinus, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 259. speed is in season: cf. [Demosthenes] shows the merits of great genius in their most consummate form, sublime intensity, living emotion, redundance, readiness, speed where speed is in seasonand his own unapproachable vehemence and power: concentrating in himself all these heaven-sent gifts []. Longinous, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the

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Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 275. As it is Rodefers habit elsewhere tacitly to suggest anachronistic puns in the words of old authors (cf. for instance 33b:1 (SWTLO), here speed may be taken to signify the drug. 14-15 When you have passed through the place you now are, | you will board a ship and reach a great city: cf. Herodotus does much the same [i.e. deploys the historical present for rhetorical vividness]: You will sail up from the city of Elephantine and there come to a smooth plain. And when you have passed through that place you will board again another ship and sail two days and then you will come to a great city, the name of which is Meroe. [editorial footnote: Herodotus 2.29.]. Longinus, On the Sublime, in Aristotle, Poetics, ed. and trans. Stephen Halliwell; Longinus, On the Sublime, trans. W.H. Fyfe, rev. Donald Russell Demetrius, On Style, ed. and trans. Doreen C. Innes, based on W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 249. 56a [no notes] 56b 1 the fruit breeding tests are over: cf. Sandakan hachibanshokan bohkyo [Brothel 8], a 1974 Japanese film directed by Kei Kumai (shown in New York in 1977), where this line occurs. the caviarteria: Caviarteria is a fish restaurant at 1012 Lexington Avenue, New York. [A] salty Midtown gem, has been around for over 50 years, from an anonymous review online at: http://www.sheckysnightlife.com/newyorkcity/ search/caviarteria_1_501.asp. Change edits Paris: cf. Editors change Paris at 53a:12 (PS) above ; Paris edits change at 61a:7 (PS) below.

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6 If a beachhead of cooperation can push back a jungle of suspicion: And if a beach-head of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved. From the Inaugural Address of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Washington D.C., 20 January 1961. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy; Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President, January 20 to December 31, 1961. (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1962), p. 2. Nothing so bad as ordinary sweet and sour sauce: see note to 31a:9 (SWTLO) above. He walked through the valley of the shadow of death scared of nothing: cf. Psalm 23:4 (KJV): Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. There is another reference to Psalm 23 at 27a:10-11 (SWTLO) above.

10

12

57b 12 cow pies: cowpat or cow pie n or n phr A disk of cattle dung. Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 107. dust bunnies: dust kitty (or bunny) n phr One of the tufts of dust that accumulate under beds, tables, etc Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 150. road apples: road apple n phr a piece of horse manure (1910 +). Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 3; p. 432.

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58a 15 For deep into death, blacks look red: cf. A vast blackness shot with red filled Pete Anglichs world. Raymond Chandler, Pick Up On Noon Street (1936). Collected in Raymond Chandler, Smart-Aleck Kill (London: Pan Books, 1980 [this collection first

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published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1958]), p. 72. Anglich, the hero of Chandlers story, is here being throttled almost to death by Rufe, giant henchman of villain Trimmer Waltz. Rufe is black, and since Chandler gives a detailed description of his face as it appears to the strangled Anglich, blacks in Rodefers sentence may also vaguely refer, via a depersonalized and disorientated reduction to colour values (which have become the totality of Anglichs world), to the specific figure of Rufe, as he appears to the man he is strangling. The face before him and above him grew enormous, an enormous shadowy face with a wide grin in the middle of it. It waved in lessening light, an unreal, a fantastic face. (p. 72). Evidence for the specific relevance of this work by Chandler to Plastic Sutures, and hence for the increased likelihood of a concealed allusion here, is detailed in a note to 67a:3 (PS) below, where Chandlers story also features. 58b 3 a frame up: frame-up n 1 The incrimination of an innocent person with false evidence (1913+) 2 A display of goods for sale (1940s + Pitchmen) Dictionary of American Slang (fourth edition), ed. Barbara Ann Kipfer. (New York: Collins, 2007), p. 184. Both these slang senses are activated in latent emphasis, within the sentences face-value claim about picture-frame making, by Rodefers use of the line break, suggesting a wry commentary on artists self-positioning in the art market. Cf. I like the frames better than the paintings at 58a:12 (PS) above. Cf. also. lifes a frame-up too. in Rodefers Villon, Au Retour, (Berkeley: Pick Pocket, 1981 [first published 1976]), p. 47, which confirms the poets acquaintance with this phrase.

59a 2 This country conned Minerva out of her spirit in 1781: see note to the following line.

2-3 The first American OPERA | was written by a Declaration of Independence signee: Francis Hopkinson (17371791), the American author, poet and composer, and a signer of the

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Declaration of Independence (1776) as a delegate from the state of New Jersey, is credited with writing Americas first attempt at grand opera. His Temple of Minerva, an Oratorical Entertainment was performed on 11 December, 1781, with George Washington in attendance. Cf. Gillian B. Anderson, The Temple of Minerva and Francis Hopkinson: A Reappraisal of Americas First Poet-Composer. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 120, No. 3 (Jun. 15, 1976), 166-177, p. 166. 15 And Im probably the only person in the world to know exactly what that thing over there is: Rodefer himself states that this phrase: happened to have been something I know was said exactly by Robert Rauschenberg to a disgruntled museum worker who was trying to keep the mess straight unpacking for the big retrospectivethis with two bourbons in hand and four hours before the hordes would be there for the opening I guess youd have to say he and Ashbery spoke the same language, but the sentence is an exactly specified object. Letter to Gerald Burns, January 13, 1983 (Box 32, Folder 9, Rodefer Papers at Stanford [collection no.: M693]).

59b [no notes] 60a 5 The eyebrows will never forgive us: a pun on highbrows and thus likely also an elliptical reference to Joseph Karl Stieler s famous 1820 portrait of a heavy-browed Beethoven, at The Beethoven House in Bonn, Germany. I am an archaeologist in the archive of everything now: When Rodefer refers to himself as an archaeologist in the archive of everything now it is as if he were updating Charles Olsons title to his collection of poems published by Cape Goliard in 1970, Archaeologist of Morning, the title of which comes from a 1952 essay The Present is Prologue. Ian Brinton, Review of Stephen Rodefers Call It Thought, The Use of English. Volume 60, No. 2, Spring 2009), 179-181, p. 180.

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15 With the eyes of a saint and the perceptions of a ghost : Everybodys looking for the man on the white horse, everybodys looking for the one who will tell the Truth. So you read Lao-tzu, you read Konrad Lorenz, I dont know who else, Melville, Kenneth Patchen, somebody you think is not a bullshitter. Somebody who has the eyes of a saint and the perceptions of a ghost. Marlon Brando, from Marlon Brando: The Godfather Roars, by Chris Hodenfield, Rolling Stone, May 20, 1976. galoshes up to our eyebrows: a phrase attributed to G.I. Gurdjieff (c.18661949) to describe the blinkered nature of most human existence.

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61a 7 Paris edits change: cf. Editors change Paris. at 53a:12 (PS) above ; Change edits Paris at 56b:14 (PS) above. On a Girdle: a poem by Edmund Waller (16061687).

14-15 Carl Jung saw a pile of shit in the corner of his room | when he was young: Possibly a reference to the passage describing one of Carl Jungs boyhood visions in which God defecates on the local cathedral (pp. 52-58): I gathered all my courage, as though I were about to leap forthwith into hellfire, and let the thought come. I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky. God sits on His throne, high above the world and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new cathedral, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder. See Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, ed. Aniela Jaff, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (London and Glasgow: Collins, 1971), p. 56. 61b 6-7 My accent is something finer than could be purchased | in so removed a dwelling as your own: cf. Your accent is something finer than you could purchase in so removed a dwelling. (Orlando). William Shakespeare, As You Like It. ed. Michael Hattaway (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p.

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159 (Act 3, Scene 3, ll.286-7). Cf. the same lines used at 37:Ep2 (PD) above. 13 ORANGERY TYPETTE: cf. [] It is in your orangery, I take it, you have your letters. Can you hear here me, you sir? | Throsends. For my darling. Typette! James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), p. 478.

62a 1 M, O, A, I, doth sway my life. : cf. M.O.A.I doth sway my life.(Malvolio) William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 103 (Act 2, Scene 5, l.91). Her Cs her Vs and her Ts: cf. these be her very cs, her us, and her ts (Malvolio) William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 102 (Act 2, Scene 5, ll.72-73). Next up Fabian, Belch, then Curio as clean-up: Referring to the sequence of events at the end of Shakespeare s Twelfth Night. Daylight and champion: cf. Daylight and champaign discovers not more! (Malvolio) William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 105 (Act 2, Scene 5, l.133).

6-7 Theres a crisis afoot. | Couldnt we bury the hatchet?: Lines spoken in the 1935 American screwball comedy musical film Top Hat, directed by Mark Sandrich. 62b 3 700 fussy tailors: The slogan of Richmond Bros., a chain of tailors. Star Island agreement: cf. the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations Library Labor Union Vertical File (19122001) in the University of Illinois Archives. Folder 6: North American

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Flint Glass Workers Union. Item 12: Star Island Agreement: AFGWU and National Assn. of Manufacturers of Pressed and Blown Glass, May 20, 1937. The existence of such a document suggests a reference to matters pertaining to the Rodefer-Gleason Glass Co. 63a 1 The French know cloud without an ascender: the word cloud in French (nuage), has no letters with ascenders.

6-7 Perhaps it is just natures way of keeping everything | from happening at once: Time is natures way of keeping everything from happening at once. Space is what prevents everything from happening to me. Attributed to American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911 2008). 11 tuumba: cf. Tuumba Press, founded by Lyn Hejinian in 1976. Tuumba published Rodefers Plane Debris, which became the second section of Four Lectures, as a letterpress pamphlet in 1981.

14-15 Johns piece The Heavens Shall Glow Beyond | for prepared earth: Possibly a reference to John Cage, although there doesnt appear to be a piece by him (or anyone) with that title. Cage is mentioned at 41b:3 (PD), this being the sole reference to the composer acknowledged in the Index to Four Lectures (p. 71). 63b 1 If you cant come around, at least you telephone. I dont want any other love: cf. If you cant come around at least please telephone [] I dont want no other love lyrics to Dont Be Cruel, a much-covered song originally recorded by Elvis Presley and written by Otis Blackwell in 1956. Cf. the reference to another pop song about telephones above at 54b:6 (PS). Loosener of limbs: From Sappho. See: And with love you boxed, for it was the loosener of limbs. 49b:12 (PD) above.

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11 Pass the fagot to bright burning Troy: cf. What fool hath added water to the sea, | Or brought a faggot to brightburning Troy? (Titus). See William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus. ed. Alan Hughes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 108 (Act 3, Scene 1, ll.69-70). piebald colt of heaven: Entities in Shinto religion.

15 64a

3-4 There are now more photographs in the world | than there are bricks: Cf. The world now contains more photographs than bricks, and they are, astonishingly, all different. American photographer John Szarkowski, from his introduction to William Egglestons Guide (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1976). Rodefer also makes use of Szarkowskis remark in the Preface to Four Lectures: In a world in which there are more photographs than there are bricks, can there be more pictures than there are places? (p.8). Perhaps cf. also the photograph by American artist Sol LeWitt (19282007), who is name-checked in Four Lectures at 35a:6 (SWTLO), entitled 7/8 1/8 Brick Wall. 1977. Two prints, overall 10 x 17 inches. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Reproduced in John Szarkowski, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960 (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1980 [third printing, first published 1978]). 6 while in a grave I sat reclined: cf. While in a grove I sat reclined from Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth. Poems, Vol. I, ed. John O. Hayden (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), p. 312. the V. O. mood: The V.O. mood. is a slogan from a 1970s advertising poster for Seagrams VO whiskey. Subsequent sentences in this stanza refer to the same image. The poster is visible online here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sa_steve/ 3221859552/sizes/o/in/set-72157606334289664/.

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64b

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2 fly the new seven ton American flag : [A] two-acre, seven-ton American flag [was once] presented to Ronald Reagan by the Great American Flag Fund[]. http://bushlibrary.tamu.edu/ research/finding_aids/whorm/federal_government.php. Although slightly later than Four Lectures, the follow words of Regan suggest the contemporary provenance of this flag: On behalf of all Americans, I would like to thank the Great American Flag Fund and all the men and women who ve made this inspiring gift possible. I promise you your government will keep it and treasure it and use it as a reminder of the greatness that is America. Remarks during a White House Ceremony Commemorating Flag Day, June 14, 1983. http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/ 61483a.htm. Perhaps also cf. Ted Berrigans poem Sunday Morning, which refers to the largest |American Flag in the world. The Skaters: Most likely the long poem by John Ashbery, although there is another poem of this title by Pulitzer Prize winning Imagist poet and author John Gould Fletcher (1886 1950).

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65a 1 You and I, we have the same typewriter in the Western night : Conflating two lines from part III of Allen Ginsbergs Howl: Im with you in Rockland | where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter (p. 19) and Im with you in Rockland | in my dreams you walk dripping from a seajourney on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night (p. 20), the latter being the last line of the poem. Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems (San Francisco: City Lights, 1982 [first published 1956]). overtakelessness: cf The overtakelessness of those | Who have accomplished Death From [Poem 1691] by Emily Dickinson (18301886). The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968), Vol. III, p. 1147.

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9 She was a phantom of delight when first she raked me over: She was a phantom of delight | When first she gleamed upon my sight from [She was a Phantom of delight] by William Wordsworth. Poems, Vol. I, ed. John O. Hayden (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), p. 603.

66a 2 rubious lip: cf. Dianas lip | Is not more smooth and rubious (Orsino). William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Cambridge: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2004), p. 69. (Act 1, Scene 4, ll.30-31)

14-15 A citys architecture is a collage. | A cut-up is an autopsy: Cf. the city, which even before Baudelaire had been a readymade collage, or cut-up of history Preface to Four Lectures, p. 7. 66b 4 Love is not a gift, but an achievement: Cf. The future is not a gift: it is an achievement, attributed to Robert F. Kennedy (a longer extract of the text from which this quotation is taken is available online: http://bobby-kennedy.com/rfkpolicy.htm.

67a 3 Ive had enough evening already: cf. Dumb, Pete, he said dryly. You had enough evening already.[] Raymond Chandler, Pick Up On Noon Street (1936). Collected in Raymond Chandler, Smart-Aleck Kill (London: Pan Books, 1980 [this collection first published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1958]). Drafts and notes for Four Lectures among Rodefers papers at Stanford [collection no.: M693] indicate that Noon Street was considered as an alternative title, one among several mooted in drafts, for Plastic Sutures. Another was Nomad Life, which became the title of a play by Rodefer (Box 26, Folder 12). A character in the same Chandler story, Token Ware, features prominently in the play Nomad Life. The dramatis personae notes some people think this characters a whore but its not true, a synopsis applicable to

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the character in Chandlers story. The typescript for Nomad Life among Rodefers papers at Stanford is dated 2/22/82; broadly contemporary with Four Lectures (Box 28, Folder 13). 4-5 But there is a delicate FORM of the empirical which identifies itself so intensely | with its object that it thereby becomes a theory: from Goethes Scientific Studies, perhaps via Walter Benjamins 1931 essay A Small History of Photography. See J. W. von Goethe, Goethe: Scientific Studies, ed. and trans. Douglas Miller (New York: Suhrkamp, 1988 [reprinted by Princeton University Press, 1994]), p. 307. The sentence is translated as follows: There is a delicate empiricism which makes itself utterly identical with the object, thereby becoming true theory. As quoted by Benjamin in A Small History of Photography in One-Way Street and Other Writings, trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter. Intro. by Susan Sontag (London: Verso, 1992), the sentence translates: There is a delicate empiricism which so intimately involves itself with the object that it becomes true theory. (p. 252). 10 not I: cf. Samuel Beckett, Not I (London: Faber And Faber, 1973). thats all folk: cf. the phrase Thats all folks! which appeared at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons on an animated banner or spoken by a Looney Tunes character.

10

10-11 I know the people | I have believed, and I am persuaded they can keep what has been delivered: cf. 2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV): I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words: cf. 2 Timothy 1:13 (KJV): Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

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CODEX
69a 14 Tuna! Tuna!: an allusion to Xenophons Anabasis, to the moment when the homesick Greeks finally catch sight of the Aegean and cry out Thalatta! Thalatta! [The Sea! The Sea!] according to Rod Mengham, Double You: The Writing of Stephen Rodefer in Call It Thought (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), pp. xv-xvi. Cf. Xenophon, Anabasis, trans. Carleton L. Brownson, revised by John Dillery (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1998), p. 365 (original Greek at IV.vii.24 on p. 364). This allusion will appear less obscure if it is noted that Joyce references the same lines of Xenophon in the opening pages of Ulyssses. Buck Mulligan to Stephen Dedalus: Ah Dedalus, the Greeks! I must teach you. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look. See James Joyce, Ulysses, ed. Hans Walter Gabler with Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior (London: The Bodley Head, 1993), p. 5. The title of Iris Murdochs novel The Sea, The Sea (London: Chatto & Windus, 1978), is another use of Xenophon s lines closer to the date of Four Lectures. Perhaps, Rodefer is also thinking of William Carlos Williams, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower: The sea! The sea! | Always | when I think of the sea | there comes to mind | the Iliad | and Helens public fault | that bred it in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams , Vol. II, 1939-1962, ed. Christopher MacGowan (Manchester: Carcanet, 1988), p. 315. If Williams here confuses his Homer and his Xenophon the basic cry is still intact. Rodefers own later poem Islets of Langerhans, Emergency Measures (1987) also depicts euphoric language at the fringes of the ocean: Dwell on the poetics | of number and run | to the ocean | and speak English. Call It Thought, p. 98.

14-15 Breeze, trembling trees, the night, the stars: cf. The evening breeze caressed the trees tenderly | The trembling trees embraced the breeze tenderly lyrics to Tenderly (1946), a much-covered popular song with music by Walter Gross and lyrics by Jack Lawrence.

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69b 2 This language of the general oerflows the measure: cf. Nay, but this dotage of our generals | Oerflows the measure (Philo) in William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra. ed. David Bevington (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 88 (Act 1, Scene 1, ll.1-2). Cf. also Your economy and our general | officers oertop some measure | or other in Stephen Rodefer, Erasers (Cambridge: Equipage, 1994) reprinted in Left Under A Cloud (London: Alfred David Editions, 2000), p. 86. The THREAD has always been bias: cf. Penelope is the journey she had to offer. / If you had any sense you would treat everything as though it were a thread. at 49b:2-3 (PD) above. How could I miss you when my aim is dead: Rodefer reprises this phrase in the first line of Blue Loss, the final poem in Call It Thought: Members, remember how I missed you when my aim was dead (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), p. 272. brilliant corners: Brilliant Corners (1957) is an album by Thelonious Monk (19171982). Cf. also Brilliant Corners: A Magazine of the Arts, ed. Art Lange, first published in 1975 (Chicago: Ad Hoc Press).

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CATEGORICAL INDEX The following lists present references across Four Lectures to the four most heavily represented areas of the arts in the poem, which for schematic convenience I have designated as: Writers and their works ; Artists and artworks ; Music and Musicians ; and Film. The lists are given in descending order of volume of references. Works and authors are presented at two different margins, the former slightly indented from the latter, to make it easier get a general impression at a glance of the types of references in the poem and their distribution.

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Works or authors not directly mentioned by name in the text, but quoted from or otherwise alluded to, are given in square brackets; explicit references, naming authors or titles of works, appear without square brackets. Authors names and dates also appear in square brackets next to their works. References to Shakespeare s works are given without attendant square brackets providing the authors name. Instead, the specific line of Shakespeare s text is noted, corresponding to the edition used in the main annotations. Certain other references, including to Biblical quotations, are also accompanied with this additional information.

WRITERS AND THEIR WORK PRETEXT [no notes] WORDS IN WORKS IN RUSSIAN 11b:4 13:Ep1 16a:8 16a:9 16b:11 16b:11 16b:11 16b:14 16b:10 18a:9 18a:9 18a:1112 18b:11 19b:3-4 19b:14 19b:14 19b:5 20a:14 21a:1 [The Bible (Philippians 4:4)] [Finnegans Wake] [James Joyce (18821941)] [A note to Harold Fondren] [Frank OHara (19261966)] [Pierre Reverdy (18891960)] Cercamon (c. 11351145) Marcabru (fl.11301150) Paul Blackburn (19261971) Endymion [John Keats (17951821)] [Ozymandias] [Shelley] [Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 1, l.56)] [Jack Spicer (19251965)] [Domestic Scenes [Robert Duncan (1919 1988)] [Rainer Maria Rilke (18751926)] [The Tale of Peter Rabbit] [Beatrix Potter] William Shakespeare (15641616) [Romeo & Juliet (Act 5, Scene 2, l.18)] Charles Olson (19101970) Dante Alighieri (c.12651321) Thomas Hardy (18401928)

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21a:9 22b:7 22b:7 23a:4-5 23b:1 George Gordon Byron (17881824) Steve Benson (1949) Alligators Cant Be Intimidated [Steve Benson (1949)] [The Revolt of Islam (1818)] [Shelley (1792 1822)] [The Joy of Writing] [Lu chi (261303 AD)]

SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHT ON 25:Ep1 27a:10-11 27a:14 28a:13 28b:14-15 29a:1-2 29a:2 29a:3 29a:5 31a:2-3 31a:3 31a:9 31a:10 31b:10 31b:10 31b:12 31b:14 31b:14 32a:2 33b:1 33b:3 33b:10 [Kora In Hell: Improvisations] [William Carlos Williams (18831963)] [The Bible (Psalm 23:1-2)] [Lessness (1970)] [Samuel Beckett (19061989)] [Odes (I:3)] [Basil Bunting (19001985)] [Romeo & Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2, ll.4344) [Invisible Man] [Ralph Ellison (19141994)] [Invisible Man] [Ralph Ellison (19141994)] [Invisible Man] [Ralph Ellison (19141994)] [Invisible Man] [Ralph Ellison (19141994)] [Wallace Stevens (18791955)] [quoted in Kora in Hell (William Carlos Williams (18831963)] [Barrett Watten (1948)] [Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2, ll.250-251)] John Keats (19751821) Arthur Rimbaud (18541891) Paul Verlaine (18441896) Wallace Stevens(18791955) Vladimir Mayakovsky (18931930) Federico Lorca (18981936) [Aube [Dawn]] [Arthur Rimbaud (1854 1891)] [The Taming of the Shrew (Act 1, Scene 2, l.242)] To The One Of Fictive Music (1922) [Wallace Stevens (18791955)] [Song to Fidel [Canto a Fidel] [Che Guevara (19281967) (trans. Ed Dorn (19291999) and Gordon Brotherston] [The Bible (Galatians 6:7)] [Poem 1737] [Emily Dickinson (18301886)]

34b:4 35b:4

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PLANE DEBRIS 37:Ep1 37:Ep2 39a:1 39a:6-7 39a:11 39a:15 40a:1 40a:5 40a:7 40b:3 40b:5 40b:6 40b:7 40b:7-8 40b:9 40b:9 40b:10 40b:11 40b:11 40b:12 40b:14 40b:15 40b:15 41a:5 41a:5 41a:7 41a:9 41a:10 41a:10-11 41a:11 41a:11 41a:12 41a:13 41a:15 [Sonnet 17 (l.1)] [As You Like It (Act 3, Scene 3, ll.286-291)] [Chasing the Bird] [Robert Creeley (1926 2005)] [Tradition and Revolution (1972)] [J. Krishnamurti (18951986)] [Henry V] [Hamlet (Act 5, Scene 2, l.337)] [Henry V (Act 3, Prologue, ll.34-35)] [Henry V (Act 1, Scene 2, ll.259-263)] [Kora in Hell (1920)] [William Carlos Williams (18831963)] [Henry V (Act 2, Scene 3, ll.10-11)] [Henry V (Act 3, Prologue, l.20)] [Henry V (Act 2, Scene 3, ll.13-14; l.20)] [Henry V (Act 2, Scene 3, l.23)] [Henry V (Act 3, Scene 3, l.50)] [Henry V (Act 3, Scene 4, l.45)] [Henry V (Act 3, Scene 7, l.103)] [Henry V (Prologue to Act 4, l.11)] [Henry V (Act 4, Scene 1, l.74 ; l.78)] [Henry V (Act 4, Scene 1, l.46)] [Henry V (Act 4, Scene 1, ll.120-121)] [Henry V (Act 4, Scene 3, l.91)] [Henry V (Act 3, Scene 8, l.40)] [Henry V (Prologue to Act 4, l.2)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, ll.222-223)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, l.226)] [Henry V (Epilogue to Act 5, l.3)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, l.107)] [Henry V. (Act 5, Scene 2, ll.175-6)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, l.243)] [Swifts Epitaph] [William Butler Yeats (1865 1939)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, l.133)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, ll.34-35)] [Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2, l.313)] [Henry V (Act 3, Scene 8, l.83)]

178

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42a:9-10 [Blue In Stereo from Ask Your Mama: 12 Modes For Jazz] [Langston Hughes (19021967)] James Wright (19271980) L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine (1978 1981) [The Party] [Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 1906)] [Hamlet (Act 5, Scene 2, l.257)] [Romeo & Juliet (Prologue to Act 1, l.2)] [Embarrassing Bill] [Frank OHara (1926 1966)] Frank OHara (19261966) Some Trees (1956) [John Ashbery (1927)] November (1842) [Gustave Flaubert (1821 1880)] [Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2, ll.250-251)] Leo Tolstoy (18281910) [Antony and Cleopatra (Act 1, Scene 2, ll.162163)] [The Flea] [John Donne (15721631)] [Two Witches] [Robert Frost (18741963)] [The Tempest (Act 4, Scene 1, 1.156)] [Robert Frost (18741963)] William Carlos Williams (18831963) Walt Whitman (18191892) Walt Whitman (18191892) William Butler Yeats (18651939) Cathleen N Houlihan (1902) [William Butler Yeats (18651939)] [The Tempest (Act 3, Scene 2, ll.134-135)] [Sonnet 17, ll.13-14] th [The Odyssey] [Homer (c. 8 century BC] th [The Odyssey] [Homer (c. 8 century BC] [fragment 26 in Mary Barnard (1958)] [Sappho (c. 630c. 570 BC)] [And Id Love You to Be in It [John Ashbury (1927)]

42b:2 43a:7 43a:11 44a:2 44a:3 44a:1 44a:2 44b:4 44b:14 45b:15 46b:12 47a:8 47a:12 47b:1-2 47b:9 47b:15 48a:9 48a:10 48a:11 48b:9 48b:9 49a:8 49a:13 49b:2 49b:3 49b:12 49b:15

179

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PLASTIC SUTURES 51:Ep1 51:Ep2 54b:2 54b:13 54b:9 55b:5 [Second Avenue] [Frank OHara (1926 1966)] [Daffy Duck in Hollywood] [John Ashbury (1927)] [The Bible (John 9:5)] Jack Kerouac (19221969) [And Id Love You to Be in It [John Ashbury (1927)] On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] (Probably quoting the Orithyia of Aeschylus (c. 525c. 456 BC) [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] (Quoting Herodotus c. 484425 BC) [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] [On the Sublime] [Longinus (c. 1st century AD)] [Psalm 23:4] Jim Brodey (19421993) Sappho (c. 630c. 570 BC) Corinna (6th century BC) Pindar (c. 522443 BC) Robert Duncan (19191988) Kim Chi Ha (1941) Antonin Artaud (18961948) John Suckling (16091642) Richard Lovelace (16181657) John Trudell (1946) [Archaeologist of Morning] [Charles Olson (1910 1970)] [George Gurdjieff (?18661949)] On A Girdle [Edmund Waller (16061687)] Steve Benson (1949) [Finnegans Wake] [James Joyce (18821941)] [Twelfth Night (Act 2, Scene 5, l.91)] [Twelfth Night (Act 2, Scene 5, ll.72-73)] [Twelfth Night]

55b:6 55b:7 55b:11 55b:12 55b:13 55b:14 55b:14-15 57a:12 57a:15 59a:9 59a:10 59a:10 59b:3 59b:10 59b:15 60a:7 60a:7 60b:3 60b:10 60b:15 61a:8 61b:12 61b:13 62a:1 62a:1 62a:3

180

HEAMES RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES


62a:5 62a:9-10 62b:13 63b:7-8 63b:4 64a:6 65a:1 65a:14 65b:9 67a:3 67a:10 67a:10 67a:13 67a:4-5 CODEX 69a:14 [Anabasis] [Xenophon (c. 430354 BC)] ARTISTS AND ARTWORKS PRETEXT [no notes] WORDS IN WORKS IN RUSSIAN 17a:2 17a:2 17a:11 17a:11 17a:11 17a:11 Vincent Van Gogh (18531890) Little Blossoming Pear Tree (1888) [Vincent Van Gogh (18531890)] Matthew Smith (18791959) [unspecified nudes by Matthew Smith (1879 1959)] John Martin (17891854) [The Great Day of His Wrath (18511853)] [John Martin (17891854)] [Twelfth Night (Act 2, Scene 5, l.133)] Kenneth Rexroth (19051982)] Federico Lorca (18981936) Jack Kerouac (19221969) [fragment 26 in Mary Barnard (1958)] [Sappho (c. 630c. 570 BC)] [Written in Early Spring] [William Wordsworth (17701850)] [Howl (1956)] [Allen Ginsberg (19261997)] [[Poem 1691]] [Emily Dickinson (18301886)] [Perfect Woman] [William Wordsworth (17701850)] [Pick Up On Noon Street (1936)] [Raymond Chandler (18881959)] Not I [Samuel Beckett (19061989)] [The Bible (2 Timothy 1:12)] [The Bible (2 Timothy 1:13)] [Scientific Studies] [Goethe (17491832)]

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17a:12 17a:12 18a:1 18a:2 18a:2-3 18a:3 18b:4 18b:5 22a:4 24a:14 The fairy fellows master stroke [Richard Dadd (18171886)] The Cholmondeley Sisters (c.16001610) [unknown artist)] Sonia Delaunay (18851979) Otto Dix (18911969) Portrait de la journalist [Otto Dix (1891 1969)] Kazimir Malevich (18791935) Grace Hartigan (19222008) Marsden Hartley (18771943) Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 15251569) Yves Tanguy (19001955)

SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHT ON 29a:14 30a:15 30a:15 30b:10 30b:10 32b:5 32b:14 35a:6 35a:8 35b:3 Jackson Pollock (19121956) Anton von Worms (c. 14951541) The St. Gereon Altarpiece [Anton von Worms (c. 14951541)] Andrea Schiavone (15101563) The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche [Andrea Schiavone (15101563)] Francis Bacon (19091992) Pisanello (c. 1395c. 1455) Sol LeWitt (19282007) [Fauvism] Honor Making a Chaplet of Roses (ca. 141020) [unknown artist]

PLANE DEBRIS [no notes] PLASTIC SUTURES 56a:10 56a:12 56a:12 56a:13 56b:7 Rodney Ripps (1950) Emil Nolde (18671956) Robert Motherwell (19151991) Henri Matisse (18691954) Willem de Kooning (19041997)

182

HEAMES RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES


58a:5 58a:6 58a:7 58a:7 58a:7 58a:7 58a:7 58a:7 58b:5 64a:8 64a:8 64a:8 64a:8 65b:6 66b:2 CODEX [no notes] MUSIC AND MUSICIANS PRETEXT 11b:12 *Cabin in the Sky (1940) [music by Vernon Duke; lyrics by John La Touche] Cy Twombly (1928) Agnes Martin (19122004) Richard Diebenkorn (19221993) Kurt Schwitters (18871948) Henri Matisse (18691954) Alex Katz (1927) Fairfield Porter (19071975) Milton Avery (18851965) Malcolm Morley (1931) Jasper Johns (1930) Between the Clock and the Bed (1981) [Jasper Johns (1930)] Edvard Munch (18631944) Self-Portrait Between the Clock and the Bed (19402) [Edvard Munch (18631944)] Brice Marden (1938) Francisco de Goya (17461828)

WORDS IN WORKS IN RUSSIAN 19a:3-4 19a:5 19a:10 19a:10 20a:9 20a:10 20a:10 20a:11 21a:5 The Beach Boys [California Girls (1965)] [The Beach Boys] Arturo Toscanini (18671957) La Bohme (1896) [Puccini (18581924)] Cornelius Cardew (19361981) Ursula Oppens (1944) Frederic Rzewski (1938) [The People United Will Never Be Defeated ] [Frederic Rzewski (1938)] Mal Waldron (19252002)

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21a:5 21a:13 21b:15 22b:12 23b:7 Charlie Haden (1937) [Charles] Mingus [Jr.] (19221979) Comes A Time [Neil Young (1945)] [Franz] Schubert (17971828) Henry Cowell (18971965)

SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHT ON 27a:15 34a:7 34b:8 34b:8 36a:8 Mozart (17561791) Brian Eno (1948) Harold in Italy (1843) [Hector Berlioz (1803 1869)] Maggot Brain (1971) [Funkadelic] Davy Tough (19071948)

PLANE DEBRIS 41b:3 42a:3 43b:14 44b:15 45a:2 46b:8 John Cage (19121992) One Horse Open Sleigh [Jingle Bells] (1857) [James Lord Pierpont (18221893)] Diamanda Gals (1955) People Will Say Were In Love [Oklahoma! (1943)] [Rogers and Hammerstein] Coal Miners Daughter [Loretta Lynn] Everythings Up To Date In Kansas City [Oklahoma! (1943)] [Rogers and Hammerstein] My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean

50b:9-10

PLASTIC SUTURES 54a:13 54b:4 54b:6 57a:2 58a:4 58b:13 58b:13 59a:2-3 Michael Palmer (composer: b. 1945 ; poet: b.1943 ) Gang of Four Love on the phone (1980) [Suzanne Fellini] Edvard Grieg (18431907) John Coltrane (19261967) Charlie Parker (19201955) Lester Young (19091959) Temple of Minerva (1781)] [Francis Hopkinson (17371791)]

184

HEAMES RODEFERS FOUR LECTURES


60a:2 60a:3 First Piano Sonata (19071908) [Alban Berg (18851935)] Lets fall in love (1933) [written by Harold Arlen (19051986) and Ted Koehler (18941973)] [Bing Crosby (19031977) [Last Night] When We Were Young (1935) [Harold Arlen (19051986)] Beethoven (17701827) Percy Grainger (18821961) Mongo Santamara (19172003) Antonio Vivaldi (16781741) Taylor Mead (19242013) Noel Coward (18991973) Lafayette Leak (19191990) Dont Be Cruel (1956) [written by Otis Blackwell (19312002)] [Elvis Presley (19351977)] Henry Kaiser (1952) Clifford Brown (19301956) Dexter Gordon (19231990) Billy Strayhorn (19151967)

60a:4 60a:4 60b:8 61a:1 61b:10 61b:11 61b:11 61b:13 63b:2

64a:1 64b:8 64b:9 66b:3 CODEX 69a:14-15

Tenderly (1946) [music by Walter Gross (19091967), lyrics by Jack Lawrence(19122009)]

FILM PRETEXT [no notes] WORDS IN WORKS IN RUSSIAN 19b:12-13 23a:11 The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) [dir. Bob Rafelson(1933)] [Stan Brakhage (19332003)]

185

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SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHT ON 34a:8 34a:9 34b:12-13 35a:7 35a:7-8 Brigitte Bardot (1934) Jean-Luc Godard (1930) To Be Or Not To Be (1942) [dir. Ernst Lubitsch (18921947)] Fay Wray (19072004) [King Kong (1933)] [dir. Merian C. Cooper (18931973) and Ernest B. Schoedsack (18931979)]

PLANE DEBRIS 42a:10-11 44a:4 44a:4 44b:15 46b:9 [My Man Godfrey (1936)] [dir. Gregory La Cava (18921952)] Psycho (1960) [dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1899 1980)] Alfred Hitchcock (18991980) People Will Talk (1951) [dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz (19091993)] [The Gay Sisters (1942)] [dir. Irving Rapper (18981999)]

PLASTIC SUTURES 54a:5 55a:3 56b:1 56b:11 59a:12 59a:12 59a:13 59a:13 60b:15 61b:12 62a:6-7 [La Nouvelle Vague [The New Wave]] Robert Redford (1936) [Sandakan hachibanshokan bohkyo [Brothel 8] (1974)] [dir. Kei Kumai (19302007)] [Westerns] Dishonored (1931) [dir. Josef von Sternberg (18941969)] Josef von Sternberg (18941969) Marlene Dietrich (19011992) Der blaue Engel (1930) [dir. Josef von Sternberg (18941969)] [Marlon Brando (19242004)] Stan Laurel (18901965) [Top Hat (1935)] [dir. Mark Sandrich (1900 1945)]

186

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CODEX [no notes]

PUBLICATION HISTORY OF FOUR LECTURES Four Lectures was first published by The Figures, in Berkeley, California, in August 1982, in an edition of seven hundred and fifty copies of which ten are numbered in roman numerals I -X and signed by the author (from the colophon, p. 75). This edition was reprinted in 1987. Prior to the first edition, constituent texts of Four Lectures appeared in the following publications: Sleeping With The Light On HILLS 8 (1981) [ed. Bob Perelman. San Francisco, CA]. Plane Debris TUUMBA 36 (1981) [ed. Lyn Hejinian. Berkeley, CA]. Words in Works in Russian Credences: A Journal of Twentieth Century Poetry and Poetics. New Series 2.1 (Summer 1982) [ed. Robert Bertholf. Buffalo, NY].

Pretext and Codex THIS 12 (1982) [ed. Barrett Watten. Oakland, CA]. Various sections of Four Lectures have been reprinted since the books first appearance, as follows: Preface Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. (ed.) Peter Baker. (New York: Peter Lang, 1996) Call It Thought: Selected Poems. (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008) Words in Works in Russian In The American Tree. Ed. Ron Silliman (Orono, ME: The National Poetry Foundation, 1986).

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Sleeping With The Light On Dormendo con la luce accesa. trans. Andrea Raos. (Milan: Nazione Indiana, 2010), 729. Pretext and Codex In The American Tree. Ed. Ron Silliman. (Orono, ME: The National Poetry Foundation, 1986). Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Ed. Peter Baker (New York: Peter Lang, 1996). Conductors of Chaos. Ed. Iain Sinclair (London: Picador, 1996). Call It Thought: Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008).

188

ORNATE AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF


A COMPARATIVE COMMENTARY ON FRANK OHARAS IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS AND TO HELL WITH IT, INCORPORATING A SUBSTANTIAL GLOSS ON THE SERPENT IN THE POETRY OF PAUL VALRY, AND A THEORETICAL EXCURSUS ON ORNATE POETICS. Sam Ladkin

Abstract: Frank OHaras In Memory of My Feelings and To Hell with It are read consecutively to make a comparative point about the lessons of the first poem being taken up in the challenges of the second. Essays on the influence of Paul Goodman s theory of grief and anger and Byron s ecstatic elegy provide a theoretical groundwork for a close, comparative reading of the serpent in the poetry of Paul Valry and OHara. An excursus on the ornate and ornamental offers a broader theoretical account for my readings. A commentary on To Hell with It is divided into close readings and digressions on the work of Mayakovsky, Shelley, Rimbaud, and the Tutivillus.

189

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190

LADKIN ORNATE AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF

CONTENTS 1. 2. 3. Preamble: Frank OHaras Elegies Introduction Commentary: In Memory of My Feelings i. In Memoriam In Memory of My Feelings ii. The inhibition of grief: Paul Goodman iii. In Memory of My Feelings as ecstatic elegy: Byron iv. OHara glossing Paul Valry: the order of the Serpent Ornate Poetics: Memory in In Memory of My Feelings Commentary: To Hell with It i. Mock Poem: notes towards a gloss on ejaculating poetry as spite ii. To hell with subject matter, sentiment, form, and poetry? iii. Vladimir Vladimirovitch Mayakovsky and the Suns Motto iv. P.B. Shelley, Poetry and Wind v. Ma vie dpend de ce livre: Arthur Rimbaud vi. Tutivillus, the Printers Devil and the Hellbox Conclusion: Paul Goodman and Explosive Grief Bibliography

4. 5.

6.

191

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192

LADKIN ORNATE AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF

The members of the dead ought to be dead even to the fingernails, and the living ought to be alive in every part. A body is said to be alive when of its own accord it has certain movements. It is called dead when the members may no longer carry out the functions of life, that is, movement and sentiment. Then the painter who wishes to express life in things will make every part in movement. But of all the movements that are charming and graceful, those movements are most graceful and most lively which move upwards toward the air. Leon Battista Alberti, on grace Great is the force of memory, O Lord, I know not what, to be amazed at, profound, and of infinite multiplicity. And yet it is my mind: it is myself. What, then, am I, my God? What is my nature? Ever-changing, with many different forms, is life, and exuberantly limitless. Observe! in the wide plains of my memory and in its innumerable caverns and hollows filled beyond reckoning with varieties of countless things [innumerabilium rerum generibus ]; either through images [per imagines], as of all material things [omnium corporum]; or directly [per praesentiam], as are basic skills and knowhow [artrium]; or by means of I know not what notions or notations [], as are emotions [affectionum animi]; for the memory retains them even while the mind does not experience them, although whatever is in the memory must also be in the mind. Through all these I range, and freely move from this to that, digging into them as far as I can, and never finishing. Such is the energy of memory, such the life-energy in human beings living mortally! Augustine, Confessions

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No discipline is more sentimental than the one that represses sentiments. And who knows, perhaps what is most abject in us comes from the pleasure of being loved, that is, the refusal of the desire to love? Guy Hocquenghem, The Screwball Asses

Dehumanizing myself is my own most fundamental tendency Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers Resolve me of all ambiguities Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus What follows is a comparative commentary on two poems by Frank OHara, reading in depth though by no means solely the relations between their titles and their finales. These poems are In Memory of My Feelings and To Hell with It. The manuscript of In Memory of My Feelings is dated Jun e 27-July 1, 1956, with a manuscript dated June 17, 1955 containing 1 an early version of part of section 4. It was first published in Evergreen Review 2.6 (1958) and reprinted, influentially, in Donald 2 Allens New American Poetry: 1945-1960. The following commentary understands In Memory to make strategic use of an elegiac mode to turn away from the accretion of memories and the feelings trapped therein on behalf of the compulsions and freedoms of new life; this commentary chooses to write a comparison with To Hell With It because the formal and emotional resolutions of In Memory are subsequently challenged by the insufferable feelings of grief for others, feelings that are less disposed to be aestheticized or, in the (bathetically) iconoclastic mode of In Memory of My Feelings to be de-aestheticized .

Frank OHara, Collected Poems, ed. Donald Allen (Berkeley: University of California, 1995), 538; hereafter abbreviated CP and cited parenthetically with page number. My thanks to Sara Crangle, Robin Purves, Keston Sutherland, Peter Manson and Ryan Dobran for their comments on and edits of this essay during its long gestation. 2 Donald Allen, ed. The New American Poetry: 1945-1960 (New York: Grove Press, 1960), 244-250.

194

LADKIN ORNATE AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF


The manuscript of To Hell with It is, according to Allens edition of OHaras Collected Poems, dated July 13, 1957 (MS x96), just over a year after In Memory, though it is the alternative manuscript (MS x325) marked (original restored), printed in Collected Poems to which I will refer. The restored material includes both the MOCK POEM, LITTLE ELEGY, the subtitle ENVOI which precedes Wind, youll have a terrible time / smothering my clarity, and brilliant final line (which may or may not properly belong to the envoi), And mean it. The poem was first published in Ygen 4 (1959), and was reprinted in The New American Poetry. The line It thinks Im mysterious! is placed in 3 parentheses in Allens anthology. Reprints include Big Table 1.4 (Spring 1960), and Grist 9 (1966) (in an alternative arrangement to that of the Collected). The indented section LITTLE ELEGY is the second of four of the Four Little Elegies published under that title in the Collected Poems (248-252 (248)), the first and third of th which are explicitly dedicated to James Dean, whose death on 30 September 1955 in a car accident foreshadows that of the less famous screen-actor Gregory Lafayette, one of the two (three if we include Dean) subjects of To Hell With It (the second being V.R. Bunny Lang). The second little elegy is dated October 31, 1955, so preceding the deaths of Lafayette and Lang. Gregory Lafayette and his wife Judy Tyler were killed in a car crash on July rd 3 1957. Both were actors, and were killed after shooting Elvis Presleys Jailhouse Rock. Lang died aged 32 on July 29, 1956 from what was then called Hodgkins disease, and is now called 4 Hodgkins lymphoma.
3 4

Allen, The New American Poetry, 251-2. Supplementing the poetical elegies for Lang we also have two prose reflections. V.R. Lang: A Memoir includes OHaras delighted first impressions of Lang: She was sitting in a corner sulk ing and biting her lower lip long blonde hair, brown eyes, Roman-striped skirt. As if it were a movie, she was glamorous and aloof. See Frank OHara, Standing Still and Walking in New York, ed. Donald Allen (Bolinas, CA: Grey Fox Press, 1975), 86. More devastating is A Personal Preface, moments of which will resonate for those who know OHaras poems. For example, the phone call from the beyond may bring to mind Poem: Instant coffee with slightly sour cream (CP, 244-5), Personism: A Manifesto (CP, 498-9). I also have a black dunce-cap, decorated with silver bells. She gave it to me to wear when I wrote. It will keep you relaxed,

195

GLOSSATOR 8
This period of OHaras writing is riddled with elegies (even more so than is typical of OHaras elegy-strewn oeuvre), of which I will note a few to begin, in order to demonstrate in what ways O Hara is practicing the elegiac mode, and to draw attention to a few features we will meet again in our two key poems.

1. PREAMBLE: FRANK OHARAS ELEGIES Several poems are dedicated to James Dean: For James Dean (CP, 228), Thinking of James Dean (CP, 230-1), as well as the 5 aforementioned Four Little Elegies.
she said, free from distractions. It will keep away SPOOKS! When Bunny was your friend, she was not only a dear friend, she was also the guardian of that friendship.[...] It is now five years since she died; it seems a moment, it seems it didnt happen at all. She is calling us long distance in these poems, telling us how it is with her, how bright things can be, how terrible things are. (Frank OHara, Standing Still, 88) OHaras refusal to have worked through grief above is also evident in The Unfinished In memory of Bunny Lang (CP, 317-19), dated January 27, 1959 (CP 543). OHara, in a letter to Larry Osgood, writes: Bunny and I often discussed the thing about finished and unfinished poems, to the effect that we both felt that the poem sometimes finished itself before we realized it or before we wanted it to (quoted in Brad Gooch, City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank OHara (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), 286). Allen notes the canceled earlier title: A short story in the Only Form I can Find (CP, 543). Lang died within weeks of OHara composing In Memory of My Feelings so the elegiac In Memory was, significantly, unfinished. Brad Gooch describes how grief-stricken OHara remained for Lang: Ten years later he still kept a photograph of her next to his typewriter on his writing desk. The poet Bill Berkson recalls an evening in the early sixties when Frank cried like crazy on his Ninth Street bed about Bunny Lang. I was scared for him. Id never seen anyone act like that. (Gooch, City Poet, 285). OHaras To Violet Lang, Poems Retrieved ed. th Donald Allen (San Francisco: Grey Fox, 1996), 194), is dated March 10 , 1959, and is a remarkably simple address to My darling offering his life in exchange for hers, in which the line it would have been no sacrifice suggests both the strength of his love for Lang, and the depressive side of OHara that makes itself apparent not infrequently. 5 Joe LeSueur clarifies OHaras movements around the composition of To an Actor Who Died (CP, 226-7) to provide evidence the poem is not

196

LADKIN ORNATE AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF


For James Dean, dated October 5 , 1955, and so composed within a week of Deans death, has the title in manuscript Elegy for James Dean (CP, 536). It was published in Poetry in March of 1956, and later in Meditations in an Emergency (1957) and The New American Poetry (1960). Brad Gooch documents the frisson of 6 disagreement around its publication in Poetry. It opens with a riff on Dean as the rebel without a cause, OHara entreating his hosts, the gods, as a poetical ambassador: Welcome me, if you will, as the ambassador of a hatred who knows its cause and does not envy you your whim of ending him. (CP, 228) This elegy is a praise poem, begging the gods for the peace of the young actor (CP, 228). To Hell with It will repeat the following hubristic knock-down carried out by the wind or air:
th

dedicated to Dean. See Joe LeSueur, Digressions on Some Poems by Frank OHara (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), 63. Its tone and pacing do not significantly evoke the style of Dean. On the Dean poems more generally see LeSueur, 63-9. 6 Gooch quotes from a letter of OHaras to Fairfield Porter, distinguishing his work from that of John Ashbery, via East of Eden. Ive italicized the selfdescription which echoes perfectly the tone of For James Dean. I think one of the things about East of Eden is that I am very materialistic and John is very spiritual, in our work especially, OHara wrote, casting himself with reverse vanity as the James Dean of poetry. Johns work is full of dreams and a kind of moral excellence and kind sentiments. Mine is full of objects for their own sake, spleen and ironically intimate observation which may be truthfulness (in the lyrical sense) but is more likely to be egotistical cynicism masquerading as honesty. Im sorry if youre bored by this, but sometimes I think that writing a poem is such a moral crisis I get completely sick of the whole situation. Where Kenneth and Jimmy produce art, for instance, I often feel I just produce the by-product of exhibitionism. Well, chacun son mauvais got! (Gooch, City Poet, 268).

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He has banged into your wall of air, your hubris, racing towards your heights and you have cut him from your table which is built, how unfairly for us! not on trees, but on clouds. (CP, 228) It will also repeat the suppression of the role of mothers, here in and to love the envy / of the dreary, smudged mouthers, and later in youll have a terrible time / smothering my clarity ( CP, 276). The poem makes great, furious use of negative affect: ambassador of hatred (though not envy), dirty feet and head, filth, to be true to a city / of rats. OHara refers to his: example nearer the sirens speech, a spirit eager for the punishment which is your only recognition. (CP, 228) Theres a martyrish quality which meets a masochistic energy to the hero inciting his punishment (smoldering quietly in the perception / of hopelessness and scandal) that recalls a queering of Jesus (OHara will have to clean his own dirty feet). Years later in Hollywood Babylon II, Kenneth Anger revealed that Dean was nicknamed the Human Ashtray for his sadomasochistic 7 predilection for having cigarettes stubbed out on his skin. Theres an allusion to Deans homosexuality, perhaps, as a recovery of scorn, in I speak as one whose filth / is like his own. Its impossible from this vantage to know quite what OHara would have known of Deans life, but clearly the smoldering actor transforms the toilets / of a great railway terminal into a pleasurable filth. Certainly OHara and friends seem more clued in than those documented in the timeline DeAngelis provides. The way Deans persona lends grace to the poem is wonderful to behold, though it is not set up as a simple transference of properties; the poem is simply drenched in the style of its apostrophised star, the hubris, the arcane dejection, the smoldering (CP, 228), the final impertinence (CP, 229). Eyes
7

Cited in Michael DeAngelis, Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), 112.

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and eyelids dominate the poem from the taciturn power to close my lids / in tears, and my loins move yet ( CP, 229) through to the army of anguishes summoned up by Dean in the million hooting blood vessels / on the eyes and in the ears / at that instant before death. (CP, 229) OHaras choice of body-part to detail is right; going back through images of Dean, the look is consistently hooded, peering out from the fat eyelid, as though light itself was painful to behold. The poems attack on the gods who withhold their light concludes with an address in which the voice of the poet consciously takes on the voice of its hero, or at least introduces a confusion of projections between voice, I, and your: Men cry from the grave while they still love and now I am this dead man s voice, stammering, a little in the earth. I take up the nourishment of his pale green eyes, out of which I shall prevent flowers from growing, your flowers. (CP, 230) The style of the poem is held in its dynamic between envious gods, the sprezzatura of Deans life (its pride and speed), and the unctuous starers, these navel-suckers who gather round his death; their luxuriating in grief is anathema to the kinds of elegy OHara determines are needed. A less successful evocation (to my mind) of Dean s cynicism masquerading as honesty is Thinking of James Dean, written a th few days later on October 11 . It offers a vision of the sea which is dark and, bathetically, smells of fish latent beneath the silver surface, presumably the silver surface which is also the silver screen. A suicidal fantasy of simulated death on the beac h, pounded by the crushing waves (CP, 230) finishes with a scratched-out line in the sand: A leaving word in the sand, odor of tides: his name. (CP, 231) The name scratched into the sand, James Dean, is the acrostic then recounted in the first of the Four Little Elegies, the first three of which were composed between th st October 6 1955 and October 31 1955, and the last between February and June 1956. The third, subtitled Obit Dean, September 30, 1955 introduces Dean to his heavenly host, Carole Lombard (who died in a plane crash). The poem is notable for its journalistic detail, his Porsche Spyder sportscar / near Paso

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Robles on his way / to Salinas for a race, presumably details all taken from a real obituary or newspaper column. The tone continues its reportage, remarking about East of Eden (and with only the us nudging its way in to demonstrate affiliation): In the first of these he rocketed / to stardom, playing himself and us / a brooding, inarticulate adolescence (CP, 249). Beyond Dean Poem (And tomorrow morning) (dated April th 17 , 1956, (CP, 244)) includes notice of the burial of my oldest aunt. Its epigraphic opening refers to a tornado that drove through Birmingham, Alabama, killing 25 people in April 1956, and remains pregnantly silent on the racial politics of that time and 8 place. The indented second stanza includes an attempt to deflect the grief-stricken from attending the poets own funeral: When I die, dont come, I wouldnt want a leaf to turn away from the sun it loves it there. At first glance this appears casual yet overwrought, but what starts out to be a jaunt ends down the line in impeccably prosaic sincerity, it loves it there. Were charged with happiness: Theres nothing so spiritual about being happy but you cant miss a day of it, because it doesnt last. This is one of OHaras revisions of modernist crisis, the loss of metaphysical philosophy fostering happiness as much as anguish. Such convictions about the importance of attention, and the preference for happiness over spirituality are key to O Haras psychology. A Step Away From Them (dated August 16, 1956 ( CP, 538)) follows immediately after, and arguably deserves to be read as enabled by the decision-making finale to In Memory of My Feelings. A Step Away From Them includes in its elegy V.R. Bunny Lang, John Latouche and Jackson Pollock. Lang died on

See the Tornado History Project, accessed 10 May, http://www.tornadohistoryproject.com/tornado/1956/table

th

2012,

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July 29, 1956, Latouche of a heart attack on August 7 , 1956 at the th 9 age of 41, and Pollock on August 11 , 1956 at 44. The poem includes one of the finest examples of OHaras ability to switch between the invocation of present experience (Everything suddenly honks: it is 12.40 of / a Thursday) and the syncopation with loss which is its articulation (A Step Away from Them). Too frequently the elegiac break is overlooked in the cult of spontaneity of OHaras readers. Its infolding of the elegiac mode as the coherent articulation of experience can be seen in the relation of one of my favourite lines of OHaras (partly because it is ascribed as a sentiment to a friend), Neon in daylight is a / great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would write, to the question at the core of them poem: But is the / earth as full as life was full, of them? If neon in daylight (or, indeed, light bulbs in daylight) is an image of eager repletion, a property of which is to have been found in Bunny, Latouche and Pollock, then its only that hateful comma (was full, of them) which syncopates with absence, the step away from them. From the experiments with the little elegies that precede A Step we can extrapolate a modesty, a smallness, as one of OHaras techniques in the non-heroic elegiac mode, and that comma is a mark of such a slightness.
th

2. INTRODUCTION In Memory of My Feelings marks a crucial turning point for OHara; it is an ecstatic elegy for past feeling, an antimemorializing poem designed to rid its speaker of certain past lives and the assumptions of the empire, both emotional and politically real, to which those selves live in thrall. As an elegy for deadening nostalgia, it is also an elegy for influence, a farewell to a suite of poetic precursors and the ready commitment to new, less egocentric or self-aggrandising poems. The second poem, To Hell with It, is, rather than an elegy for sentiment, a real elegy, that is an elegy for real people, loved friends of the poet who died young and in whose memory OHara refused to settle into calm reflection.
9

One of OHaras greatest poems was originally titled Ode at the Grave of Jackson Pollock, and eventually became Ode on Causality. Allen st th dates the manuscript between May 21 and July 8 1958 (CP, 542).

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I am intrigued by a comparative gloss of these two poems, in particular their finales, since they both act decisively. This significant similarity is turned, however, toward opposite ends: the ambiguity of symbolic logic at the close of In Memory paradoxically increases the swiftness of its murderous action, whereas the hardened anger of To Hell With It utilises the openended ambiguity of it to forcefully close down digressive or playful connotations. The serpent at the end of In Memory and the it at the end of To Hell with It are comparable . They share a conviction, but their elegiac forces are otherwise opposed, one to elegys ground-razing to inspire the new growth of new feelings, the other a terminated elegy, refusing its succours, relying on the speciousness of it to act with sharp emotional candour: as the poem concludes, And mean it. The finale of In Memory is about satisfaction, but it is not about a satisfaction born of coherent completion, the weighing up and fulfilment of a life of selfknowledge; its satisfaction is stolen by an act of murderous surprise in a movement that exceeds sensible comprehension. The candour of the dynamic between title, To Hell with It, and close, And mean it, is ironic, in that the under-referenced it is meant with such force by the determination to say it, or have it be said with force. Its irony is in this way sacrificed to its compelled enunciation. It empties out what it spews forth. What follows is an extended commentary, with a number of essayistic sections. Each section, to a greater or lesser extent, can stand alone, so the reader is encouraged to skip ahead if they find their patience waning. It would of course be helpful if the reader could have copies of the two poems within sight.

3. COMMENTARY: IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS


I. IN MEMORIAM IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS

This is my third attempt to reach a satisfactory gloss of OHaras In Memory of My Feelings, and in particular the final section, section five, of the poem, a third attempt which reminds me of the term essay in the tradition of Montaigne, that of an

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attempt. This article, then, plays the essay against the gloss; it admits dissatisfaction with the notion of recovering the references or locus of ideas sufficient to gloss a poem; it takes the gloss and wonders how to describe that which exceeds description, without mythologizing that excess (how description might correspond to an aesthetics of representation, critiqued in what follows by various reflections on evocation); and it finds essayistic theses persist when attempting to hold the object of comprehension steady in commentary, most obviously with the material here on Paul Goodman and on the ornate or ornamental, the first because its insights tally with something of the ethos of OHara, the second because it describes how the various incidents of a poem are held in a multiplicitous but persistent form. My critical practice more generally (such as it is), tends to place its emphasis on close reading, if only (though not only) because everything else about the research process tends to be unforgivably digressive and allusive; if the scenery is going to shift so far, the spotlight better stay still. Whilst mindful of Glossators charge to maintain the integrity of the object under consideration, these poems speak to me as replies to other poems, whether earlier poems by OHara, or poems by others, and as poems to and about love and death, so their integrity (Latin integritatem meaning wholeness) is belied by their lack of wholeness in terms of both content (the vulgarity of love, the loss of a loved one), and form (the poem as reply). They do, however, speak with an alternative kind of integrity held in their generosity beyond their borders, and a formal openness to the accidents and emergencies of a sociable life. I will recap just a couple of conclusions from previous essays which might helpfully be understood to underpin this current 11 gloss. With Geoff Ward I understand this poem to be (at least in part) an elegy for OHaras formative influences, a meditation on its poetic begetters, [it] mourns its own emancipation from the parent-texts it must ritually slay with the killing touch of parody or
10

10

Montaignes formal development of the essay owes much to his own consideration of memory. See Michel Beaujour, Poetics of the Literary SelfPortrait (New York: New York University Press, 1991). 11 Sam Ladkin, And now it is the serpents turn: The Rhetoric of the Figura Serpentinata in Frank OHaras In Memory of My Feelings, (unpublished), and Frank OHaras Ecstatic Elegy: In Memory of My Feelings In Memory Wallace Stevens, Blackbox Manifold 10 (2013), st accessed 1 November, 2013, http://www.manifold.group.shef.ac.uk/.

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irony, though presenting it as an Oedipal anxiety of influence overstates a neurotic sensibility largely absent from O Haras make-up, and the genuine reflection on his own life and that of his family (for example the death of his great aunt, even of his father 12 who died when OHara was studying at Harvard). More or less against Nick Selby, Alan Feldman and Marjorie Perloff, and closer in spirit to that of Andrew Epstein, I contest interpretations that save a real, essential or natural self in the finale 13 of the poem. The serpent is saved, and it is not a singular,
12

Geoff Ward, Statutes of Liberty: The New York School of Poets (Houndmills: Macmillan, 1993), 75. Lytle Shaw makes the excellent point that limitations must be made on the anxiety of influence because of OHaras fundamental refusal to acknowledge paternity itself on behalf of a more experimental model of affinity and kinship. See Lytle Shaw, The Poetics of Coterie (Iowa City: Iowa University Press, 2006), 50. 13 Marjorie Perloff: The integrity of the selfthis time, a real or natural selfis preserved, but only at a very high cost in Watchman, Spy, and Dead Man: Johns, OHara, Cage and the Aesthetic of Indifference, Modernism / Modernity 8.2 (2001): 213. Nick Selby describes the killing of the serpent in the last line, when it is the serpent who is saved. See Selby, Memory Pieces: Collage, Memorial and the Poetics of Intimacy in Joe Brainard, Jasper Johns and Frank OHara, in Frank OHara Now: New Essays on the New York Poet, ed. Robert Hampson and Will Montgomery (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010), 246. Alan Feldman, too, considers art making to be an act of rescue of the essential self of the poet in his Frank OHara (Boston: Twayne, 1979): In Memory of My Feelings describes each new feeling giving rise to a new self. These however are eventually rejected. The essential self is constantly sloughing off any new identity as it emerges in order to escape from the trap of selfdefinition (91). Feldmans position is more nuanced than this suggests, however: Yet from the midst of the poets many selves a vision of an essential self emerges a self that is always becoming but never is content to be simply what it is, a self that constantly asserts I am not what I am, and is determined to escape beyond the boundaries of a fixed personality (92). Shaw erroneously refers to the murdered serpent of the final section, but otherwise offers an important reflection on the sociable turning-out of the self: the poem is metacommunal in the sense that it explores the extent to which the self of an experience is also the self of one or several collectivities that frame that experience, conditioning its meaning. These collectivities are not simply present groups but pasts out of which one emerges (89). Shaw is helpful, too, on the ways in which the multiple subjective selves and worlds of experience they make possible must be collapsed into at least temporary figures (90).

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essential self. Epstein calls it one of the richest examples of OHaras pragmatist conception of the self; it is also one of the most important and influential postwar American poems, in part because its rigorous dismantling of coherent human identity anticipates the obsession in postmodernist thought with the 14 decentring and unmasking of the essential human self.[...] The other significant conclusion necessary to what follows relates to the interpretation of Apollo and the Pythian serpent. We would typically expect the defeat of the serpent at the hands of Apollo, and the capacity for prophecy thus engendered by the poet to be triumphs. OHara, however, favours saving the serpent from the grasp of the poet Apollo, the Orphic god who could promise safety and eternal life and wished for the visionary powers in the serpents protection. This salvation of the serpent is precisely the refusal of visionary temporality on behalf of immediacy. Not only is it the serpents turn in the argument of the poem, but the serpents turn is itself a figure of now now is the serpents turn. What does the serpent turn between? The I is the opposite of visionary, which is precisely the elegiac. Apollo, in murdering Python, becomes the prophet-poet. Because the serpent is also the prophecy of death, we can judge the turn to be the force of the contradiction between prophecy and elegy, the death behind and the death ahead. The turn of the serpent, however, is the resistant figure of mobility, of charming quickness and attention. If both In Memory of My Feelings and To Hell with It are substantially elegies, what motivates them to avoid conventional clichs of the heroic elegy? 3.II. THE INHIBITION OF GRIEF: PAUL GOODMAN In Poetics of Coterie, Lytle Shaw rightly emphasises the following quotation from Paul Goodmans Advance-Guard Writing, 1900-1950, by using it as the epigraph to the chapter on In Memory. The essential [task of the] present-day advance-guard is the physical reestablishment of community. This is to solve the crisis of alienation in the simple way: the
14

Andrew Epstein, Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 99-100.

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persons are estranged from themselves, from one another, and from their artist; he takes the initiative precisely by putting his arms around them and drawing them together. In literary terms this means: to write for 15 them about them personally. Terence Diggory uses Goodmans phrase intimate community, from the same essay, to describe the New York School as an avantgarde, though diverges from its efficacy by comparison with Jean16 Luc Nancys theory of the inoperative community. It is another piece by Goodman, however, that evidentially inspires In Memory of My Feelings, and that is the 1950 essay, 17 On the intellectual inhibition of explosive grief and anger. Goodman describes a split between subject and feelings, between the I who feels and the feelings themselves. He critiques the intellectual, those who have appetites, who show initiative in approaching and possessing their objects and are therefore subject to frustration and loss, but who cannot give way to anger and grief 18 because they know too much. My thesis in what follows is that In Memory of My Feelings is an elegy both personal and intellectual written to gather sufficient momentum from anger and 19 grief to live anew, to feel refreshed. OHara seeks to kill off the
15

See Goodmans Advance-Guard Writing, 1900-1950, The Kenyon Review 13.3 (1951): 357-380; cited in Shaw, Poetics of Coterie, 81. On Goodman see Shaw, 81-86. 16 Terence Diggory, Community Intimate or Inoperative: New York School Poets and Politics from Paul Goodman to Jean-Luc Nancy, in The Scene of My Selves: New Work on New York School Poets, ed. Terence Diggory and Stephen Paul Miller (Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 2001), 17. 17 Paul Goodman, On the intellectual inhibition of explosive grief and anger, Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals (New York: Random House, 1962), 93-109. First published Complex (Spring 1950). 18 Goodman, Utopian, 96. When Goodman writes intellectual and sensitive persons (94), Im uncertain whether this includes a critique of effeminacy, which would betray a complex support for varieties of queer sensibility. 19 My reference here is to OHaras Personism: A Manifesto: Im not saying that I dont have practically the most lofty ideas of anyone writing today, but what difference does that make? Theyre just ideas. The only good thing about it is that when I get lofty enough Ive stopped thinking and thats when refreshment arrives. (CP, 498)

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frustrations and inhibitions of his past life, recollections of family and war, in order to experience a more satisfying, if deeply pained, anger and grief. We will see how To Hell with It acts out the explosive anger of OHaras grief. The title, In Memory of my Feelings, plays off two temporalities of elegy. On the one hand it writes in the present an elegy for past feelings, the feelings that exist in memories. On the other, it takes its feelings as presentness, and commits them to the past, to make of them memories. The two are, of course, related, present feeling being too closely in thrall to the accretions of the past for comfort. But it is the latter which approaches Goodman s demand for conviction, the conviction announced in the close of the poem, the conviction that there is a real, present obje ct of 20 anger and grief. It is the self that must relent. The self, its theory and picture of itself and its habitual reasonableness, is the chief constraining force. As we say, It takes two people to make a bore, and oneself is always one of them. Typical standards of the relentless self are: the need to be always right; to be consistent; unwillingness to be a fool; satisfaction with the situation as it is when it is well enough. The bother is that these standards are 21 irrefutable. Our rationalizations are usually true. Goodman describes the one who has been in love, but loses love, and at once sees the loss as inevitable, inevitable in the character of the beloved and in his own character, writing: Nevertheless he feels he is deprived and he is miserable. Being miserable, he characteristically draws back from the feeling of loss and explains it, and he lets his grief dribble away. He is ennobled by understanding. He is now wiser still. The experience was worth it. But he is not purged, and he is henceforth less open to love. He 22 has not mourned enough to be able to live again.

20 21

Goodman, Utopian, 94. Goodman, Utopian, 103-4. 22 Goodman, Utopian, 97.

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In Memory portrays such a tricky relationship between mourning (both real deaths and past, multiplicitous lives) and the risks of self-knowledge. In the climactic passage (auxesis) of the poem the reification of self-knowledge is arguably resisted as cancerous statuary accreting within the body. The poem taunts by paralleling epic and personal ruins, but its decisiveness is on behalf of the farewell, of the purging ready to be, as Goodman describes, 23 open to love[] able to live again. What, for Goodman, is the technology of such resistance to a restrictive wisdom? Surprise: We could say that what is lacking is surprise. If he were surprised, he would not have the opportunity to rise above the situation and 24 survey it and let his feeling dribble away. And so the poem ends with sudden, surprising, murderous intent. and I have lost what is always and everywhere present, the scene of my selves, the occasion of these ruses, which I myself and singly must now kill and save the serpent in their midst (CP, 257) What are the risks of failing to grasp the negative affects as they really are, anger and grief rather than merely the belated memories of such? Anger and grief need to be acknowledged or else they will be sustained. Without acknowledgement, Goodman argues, intellectuals cannot purge these passions and therefore 25 they fail to attain animal satisfaction. This animal satisfaction is the gesture of the serpent at the close of the poem. To save animal satisfaction OHara saves the serpent, symbol of paradoxical properties of stillness and speed, of corporeal erection and wateriness, fixity and fluidity. Here is, I argue, the crux of OHaras poem and an insight fundamental to the emotional life as presented throughout OHaras mature poetry: The intellectual person feels his deprivation but he does not weep because, as he says, my feelings are not hurt, I am hurt. Since he sees that the causes of his loss are objective and general, he knows that they are not aimed especially at him. He is not insulted.[] Quite the
23 24

Goodman, Utopian, 97. Goodman, Utopian, 97. 25 Goodman, Utopian, 94.

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contrary, by his intelligent understanding of causes, he is able to identify himself with the depriving power, he is 26 even somewhat magnified. In Memory of My Feelings: OHara seeks to understand his feelings as inclusive of hurt, but to refuse to allow those feelings to settle into subjectivity as I am hurt. Evidence of the antagonistic split between I, self and feelings can be found throughout the poem, from the opening line, My quietness has a man in it, through reference to the weaponry by which I[...] protect myselves, and this only from the first part, a part answered by the fifth and final part. OHaras emotional insight, from In Memory onwards (if not before) refuses to constitute the self as martyr to feelings; he refuses to let his suffering become loved. Therefore he does two things. Firstly, he maintains emotional life as an experiential existence, rather than as the precursor of and mere enabler to the 27 self who so experiences. With Goodman he says, my feelings are hurt, thus acknowledging experiential hurt, and further seeking to have other, different, new, (even happier) feelings. Secondly, and in a style which gets closer to his appropriation as a camp writer, but which I would rather set in a history of mannerism, OHara refuses to overcome hurt by mature intellection as objective and general; he insists on being insulted by hurt. Just as the refusal to ascribe feelings to the conceptually prior and superior (italicised) I contests self-aggrandisement, so the refusal to identify himself with the depriving power, the refusal to understand and, crucially, sympathise with the cause of loss, to feel oneself to be the cause of such loss, is a form of forgiveness, which is grace. Consider the following from Goodman: But it is just ones own character that one does not feel. It is the character of an intelligent sensitive person to understand itself in principle, but not to feel engaged in the struggle between happiness and character,
26 27

Goodman, Utopian, 97. Lytle Shaw puts this succinctly: The poem consistently links two kinds of necessary but impossible representations: that of experiences, always pluralized by the range of feelings from which they emerge and which they in turn generate; and that of identities, or selves, which at once depend upon and transcend the contexts and histories that would make them legible (90).

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and break down. Character acts as a kind of reified observer of what should be a struggle in the pursuit of happiness. O Haras poetry is alive to such a struggle, to the habituation of character into a kind of patter. There is a huge emotional cost of such a 29 struggle. We can see this in the close of In Memory where it is ultimately the serpent saved. Again: and I have lost what is always and everywhere present, the scene of my selves, the occasion of these ruses, which I myself and singly must now kill What the self has lost, either the present or presentness, split from the always and everywhere which seeks to include it by that fabulous line break, or the loss of what is always and everywhere current to the poet, will need to be killed off. The poem charges the I myself with the task of killing off that which I have lost, which itself has been the occasion of these ruses, the excuse for all kinds of artful obfuscation. The saved serpent evokes the Garden of Eden, of course, and the dangers of the pleasures of knowledge and the knowledge of pleasures. Goodmans essay commends as part of the struggle a related paradisal trapping: First, instead of looking for reminders of paradise, which lead to weeping softly he must engage in the present hope and effort for paradise. In such a pursuit he cannot passively identify with the existing causes of things, for paradise does not exist. So, second, he must identify with paradise by actively making the causes of his reality. Then, instead of relenting pity for himself, which leads to choking up, 30 he will be vulnerable to present tangible loss.
28

28 29

Goodman, Utopian, 98. Consider John Wilkinsons description of the emotional cost of In Memory: Rather, both In Memory of My Feelings and the Odes verge on the rapturous; to be given birth, the work of art requires of its creator a profound sacrifice of personal history, of self-knowledge and of conscious obligation, and an expense in real pain (Where Air is Flesh: The Odes of Frank OHara, in Frank OHara Now, 103). 30 Goodman, Utopian, 101.

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The immense emotional struggle of the poem is carried by this extraordinary logic: make paradise, a paradise that does not exist and therefore can only be a reflection of your actions; though failing to make paradise, since paradise does not exist, one must identify oneself with it (and perhaps the serpent within it) for the gain of happiness, but also with the concomitant, and necessary, vulnerability thus opened up. The failure to achieve the impossible paradise leads one vulnerable to present tangible loss. I havent told you of the most beautiful things / in my lives, and watching the ripple of their loss disappear: OHaras poem records loss, but also records the echoes and afterlives of loss, watching loss disappear. Such a moment of forgetting, when the ripples fade out, is refused to make that which has been lost a present tangible loss sufficient to gather up the energy of anger. The loss in I have lost what is always and everywhere / present must be transformed into the murdered loss of a grief actively attended to: I myself and singly must now kill. So long as paradise is regarded as lost or again as not yet, we are not able to cry, for our losing is not tangibly present. In the present it is not possible to know the laws 31 of paradise, but only to make them. I will return to Goodmans alternative to the intellectual inhibition of grief and anger in my commentary on To Hell with It, but to reiterate: the dynamic relationship between self and feelings, and the critique of inhibitions that prevent lively attention on behalf of apathy and boredom are fundamental to OHaras poetics, and found an ally and early provocation in the work of Goodman. 3. III. IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS AS ECSTATIC ELEGY: BYRON I want now to point out a number of echoes of Byron s work in OHaras In Memory, notably the image of the sepulchre, and, firstly, the adoration of mobility. These echoes demonstrate OHaras turn to the poetry of sensibility or sentimentality, shifting 32 his modernist inheritance into a different register. The first reason
31 32

Goodman, Utopian, 104. The importance of Byron to OHara was established by Geoff Ward in Statutes of Liberty: Both Byron and OHara understood but were fearful of

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to include in this commentary a more or less theoretical account of elegy is to demonstrate In Memory of My Feelings as a play on a particular kind of elegy, the ecstatic elegy which I will go on to explain. The second reason is to foreground the relationships between elegy, attention and mobility, relationships understood in the poetry of OHara, and as described above by Paul Goodman. The third reason is to reach from the murderous response to deadening sentiment in In Memory to the ambivalent relationship to sentiment in To Hell with It. And now it is the serpents turn (CP, 256): the turn of the serpent 33 is the figure of mobility. The final section of the poem introduces the serpents turn to speak, or sing (singly (CP, 257)); the serpents turn is immanence, the turn between past and future of now; and it is the serpents turn, the it tensed between cataphora and anaphora, referring backwards and forwards amidst the scene of my selves (CP, 257). The now, the elusive it, the serpent are all aspects of movement: as has been much commented upon, OHaras poems are in thrall to mobility, to the 34 quicknesses of attention. One of the key narratives of his poetry is the development of a style of displaying motility without killing its essence by ponderous thought or logic. I use motility sporadically here as a nuanced version of mobility, combining as it does movement with autonomy; motility is the capacity to 35 spontaneously move ones self. We find in Byron:

a Romantic obsession with poetry, and in both a compulsive, at times manic urge towards Orphic utterance sits at odds with the cooler inclination to get writing in perspective as just one activity in a varied life (41). 33 On mobility see M.G. Cooke, Byrons Don Juan: The Obsession and Self-Discipline of Spontaneity, in Acts of Inclusion: Studies Bearing on an Elementary Theory of Romanticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 218-41; and Jerome McGann, Byron and Romanticism, ed. James Soderholm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 36-52 (chapter three (53-76) provides the crucial reading of My brain is feminine for a queering of gender ideology). 34 See Marjorie Perloff, Frank OHara and the Aesthetics of Attention, Boundary 2 4.3 (1976): 779-806. 35 Motility refers back to Quintillians use of motus, the root form of motility; see John Shearman, Mannerism (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967), 84-5; See David Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 91-3.

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So well she acted, all and every part by turns with that vivacious versatility, Which many people take for want of heart. They err tis merely what is called mobility, A thing of temperament and not of art, Though seeming so, from its supposed facility; And false though true; for surely theyre sincerest, 36 Who are strongly acted on by what is nearest. Acting by turns produces vivacious versatility, the furia of the serpent. To be acted on by what is nearest is to be in thrall to what Michael Cooke calls the running together of spontaneity and 37 sheer local reaction. The concern here is with fidelity, that some may betray their love with affairs of the heart; for Byron such roving is a form of fidelity. Mobility, what many people take for want of heart (the heart including and rhyming with art, showing its own mobility), is an example of truth in masquerade. When OHara chooses the aesthetic of attention he chooses to be acted on by what is nearest, to turn on his heel from harm and towards what is fleeting, what catches his eye, or happens over his shoulder. Byron defines mobility as an excessive susceptibility of immediate impressions at the same time without losing the past; and is, though sometimes apparently useful to the possessor, a most 38 painful and unhappy attribute. Mobility is a structure of social
36

Quoted from Byrons Don Juan (XVI) in McGann, Byron and Romanticism, 39. Emersons essay, The American Scholar, includes what is likely a source for OHaras description of the hero (possibly via Stevens): The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation, the act of thought, is transferred to the record. The poet chanting was felt to be a divine man: henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant. (88) Geoff Ward pointed this out in Statutes of Liberty, 79; On Emersons influence see Andrew Epstein, Beautiful Enemies. The essay also contains this gem, of considerable interest to OHaras preferences: Man is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar, in Selected Essays, ed. Larzer Ziff (New York: Penguin, 1982), 102. 37 Cooke, Acts of Inclusion, 227-8. 38 Byrons note on Canto XVI, quoted by McGann, Byron and Romanticism, 39.

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relations rather than simply a psychological characteristic. It appears as: a set of social graces, a capacity to charm and to be all things to all men, but it arises, apparently, from a ground of sincerity in those kinds of people Who are very strongly acted on by what is nearest; yet it appears the very height of insincerity and calculation. Which is it: a thing of ones spontaneous temperament, or of ones 39 role-playing and art? Is it false or true? Such mobility recalls perhaps the most famous passage of In Memory, and indeed OHaras epitaph, with its less frequently cited next sentence: Grace to be born and live as variously as possible. The conception of the masque barely suggests the sordid identifications. (CP, 256) In Memory references explicitly Byrons Manfred, the story of a past guilt which Manfred fails to forget, even with the aid of seven spirits called up by his artifice, until that is the success of his suicide. Section I of In Memory reads: At times, withdrawn, I rise into the cool skies and gaze on at the imponderable world with the simple identification of my colleagues, the mountains. Manfred climbs to my nape, speaks, but I do not hear him, Im too blue. (CP, 253) Serious stuff: OHaras interlocutor is too blue even to contemplate, with Manfred, the freedom of suicide. John Wilkinson describes the deflation of Manfred:
39

McGann, Byron and Romanticism, 40. On the relations between grace and sprezzatura with reference to OHara see Sam Ladkin, Problems for Lyric Poetry, in Complicities: British Poetry 1945-2007, ed. Sam Ladkin and Robin Purves (Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2007), 271-323.

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Manfred is apotheosized over mass humanity and at the same time casts himself as fallen abjectly below the moral status of any free-born peasant upright in his certainties.[...] Prometheanism has turned him into a statue. Im so blue then is OHaras pithy deflation of this scene, at once laying claim to the blue empyreans ultimate overview, and reducing Manfreds wordy angst 40 to a vernacular shrug. The bathos of Manfred serves to chasten the self from primitive 41 authority to a mortal, social humanity. In sentimentalitys reversal of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, Manfred seeks forgetfulness of that which is within me, the sorrow that increases 42 knowledge. Manfred seeks Oblivion, self-oblivion (l. 144): There is a power upon me which it withholds, And makes it my fatality to live; If it be life to wear within myself This barenness of spirit, and to be My own souls sepulchre, for I have ceased To justify my deeds unto myself The last infirmity of evil. (I, ii, ll. 23-29) Byron here echoing and refusing Miltons pact: To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but O yet more miserable! Myself, my sepulchre, a moving grave. OHara, too, refuses the fatality which is to be / My own souls sepulchre. Firmly evil, the sordid identifications have the grace of autonomous life. OHara refuses to justify my deeds unto myself: as he warns in Personism: A Manifesto:

40 41

Wilkinson, Where Air is Flesh, 108-9. Wilkinson, Where Air is Flesh, 109. 42 Manfred, A Dramatic Poem, in Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, ed. Jerome J. McGann, Vol. IV, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 58, l. 137.

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suppose youre in love and someones mistreating (mal aim) you, you dont say, Hey, you cant hurt me this way, I care! you just let all the different bodie s fall where they may, and they always do may after a few months. But thats not why you fell in love in the first place, just to hang onto life, so you have to take your chances and try to avoid being logical. Pain always produces logic, which is very bad for you. (CP, 498) The morality of self-justification is anathema to OHara; instead he embraces the satanic serpent, the clarifying force of anti-pathos. The love, that one, which has become the cancerous / statue (the line-break here refusing the solidity of the statue) is sepulchral, the graven image of the poet in thrall to past love. It is an unfeasibly elusive finale, but the close of In Memory sets up the elegiac address: that which is lost, the scene of my selves, must be killed, and must be killed by I myself and singly; that is, the elegy kills off the lost part, whereas grief or mourning exacerbate loss. Only the killing of loss will resurrect the present, what is always and everywhere. The serpent in their midst is irreducible to either I or the scene of my selves. The serpent is an expression of the contest or even conflict between the past which loses presentness and the I which exists as memorial to that loss. Charles Altieri argues that, since Romanticism, poetics has 43 founded itself on constitutive oppositions to rhetoric. I argue that it is not by chance alone that the constitutive oppositions to rhetoric run in parallel to the constitutive oppositions to sentimentality and sensibility. Sensibility is damned for its rhetorical power, and the use of that power towards ostensibly conservative ends, to a hokum emotional slurry, and endless
43

Charles Altieri, Rhetoric and Poetics: How to Use the Inevitable Return of the Repressed, in A Companion to Rhetoric and Rhetorical Criticism, ed. Walter Jost and Wendy Olmsted (London: Blackwell, 2004), 473-493. Altieri quotes from Ezra Pound, who regarded rhetoric as the art of the advertising agent for a new soap (478) and from W.B. Yeats who wrote, We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry (479). See also Altieris The Return to Rhetoric in Modernist Poetry: Stevens and Auden, in The Art of Twentieth Century American Poetry: Modernism and After (New York: Blackwell, 2006), 126-156.

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vampiric text feeding off the too-easy empathy of the reader, all the stuff that Ezra Pound despised. OHara is not (and nor am I) asking for a return to the sentimentality of Victorian self-sacrifice; in fact OHaras attitude can be described as the refusal to participate in the cultivation of martyrdom to loss. As with Byron, there is no redemption in martyrdom to pain; not Even for its own sake do 44 we purchase pain. How do we combine the two oppositions, to rhetoric and to sensibility? And how do we characterize OHaras crucial undermining of the bad faith of both, his commitment to sending experience back out into the world rather than crafting a hothouse within the text for a conceited version of life martyred from world, and his commitment to the courage of vulgarity which takes joy as loves affect rather than the self-satisfaction of sacrifice to a dreamt future? Jerome McGann takes elegy as a genre crucial to his definition of a poetics of sensibility. His The Loss of Sentimental Poetry reads the sentimental as a lost literary style, and finds in elegy an exemplification of its own re-imagining of the economy of loss. McGanns essay describes the compensatory schemas of elegy, opposing a tradition which carries out or embodies the logic of redemption against an alternative strain of poetry which establishes loss as loss, and in doing so strangely finds new ways of 45 liberating life, what he calls the ecstatic tradition. Wordsworths commitment to enshrine the spirit of the past / For future restoration (The Prelude 1805, XI.342-3) is taken to be the normative or restrictive form of elegy in which writing is memorial act and essentially a form of redemption: that which is lost is redeemed in writing or in the memorial act writing performs 46 for the reader. The ecstatic strain, however, emphasizes visionary ecstasy as its own reward, self-generating, self-consuming (here 47 McGann is thinking of Blake in particular). Ecstatic elegy fails to accrue spiritual rewards, instead scheduling complete expenditure. One of McGanns key examples is Shelleys
44

Byron from [Epistle to Augusta], quoted by McGann, The Loss of Sentimental Poetry, in The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), 156. 45 McGann, Poetics, 150. 46 McGann, Poetics, 151. 47 McGann, Poetics, 151.

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Adonais, which he describes as not the poetry of epitaphs, where the experience of loss is replaced by the memorial tribute of a shrine of loving language, but rather as loss forever which 48 establishes all things on a basis of present and immediate life. What of Byron? McGann writes: Indurated Byronic sorrow signifies a loss from which there is no redemption. The traditional figure for such a loss is Satan, to whom, of course, Byron will turn 49 often enough. Satan, or Satans representative serpent, is the figure of loss without redemption. In Memory of My Feelings is ecstatic elegy in the sentimental tradition, as it is for Byron, for whom the contemporary equivalent of Satan[...] is an archangel fallen not through an excess of knowledge but through an excess of 50 love. The serpent, whose turn it is, and who is turning, when referring to the most beautiful things / in my lives watches the ripple of their loss disappear (CP, 256). The poem is the persuasive and deliberate failure to save the memorial past on behalf of new feelings. I have lost what is always and everywhere / present: the present, that which is always and everywhere is that which is lost, and saving the serpent is the attempt to save the immediacy of experience. Save the present by killing the scenes of presentness trapped by elegiac memories. Losing the present is the only requirement of presentness. Here we might re-install one of the other symbolic functions of the serpent: murdering what is always and everywhere is also the loss of Edenic immortality, the eternal garden. To gain mortal time (that which is in the line-break) over eternal time is the gift of the temptations of the serpent and the bounty of the tree of knowledge. OHaras version of autonomy is, to borrow Jonathan Dollimores expression, the agency of displacement, and if that agency needs to be named, then its naming must be able to be, still, elusive, or else its agency will 51 again be drawn into the concrete world of memory. And so OHara calls it the serpent, the figure of the gesture of sin. The serpent is at once a trope, the figure of figurality (language, sense, metonymy, poetry, meaning) and a figure of corporeality (sex,
48 49

McGann, Poetics, 152-3. McGann, Poetics, 156. 50 McGann, Poetics, 156. 51 Jonathan Dollimore, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 310.

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desire, pleasure), and when the serpent precipitates the fall, it is an ecstatic loss; the serpent in becoming oppositional creates in excess the real world. The distinction between models of elegy is important not only for its own sake; McGann is also proposing that the sentimental tradition (sensibility), which makes feeling, and in particular human love, the ground of an experience of per fection, has been suppressed by institutional modernism (and this has implications 52 for a queer recuperation of a feminine gendered literary practice). The sentimental is modernisms guilty secret. By reinstalling sentimentality in late modernism, we can reincorporate the virtues of sentimentality (OHaras dedication to vulgarity), and we can challenge modernisms logic of the recuperation of classical motifs with the present pleasures of forgetting. Sentimental writing, according to McGann, promises the wisdom of the body rather than Romanticisms love grafted to the most spiritual of the senses, the beautiful. Sentimentality prefers the kiss, where the authority of feeling and the lowest order of the senses asserts 53 itself. We can see it in You Are Gorgeous And Im Coming, the endless originality of human loss flowing into the air the stumbling quiet of breathing, with the past falling away as an acceleration of nerves (CP, 331). As OHara writes in his Statement for The New American Poetry : My formal stance is found at the crossroads where what I know and can t get meets what is left of that I know and can bear without hatred (CP, 500). Byrons sensibility, according to McGann, remains Romantic for two reasons, because he raises the sen timental to a spectacular level, and because his Romantic irony rescues and redeems the 54 disaster threatened by his own imagination. In Memory of My Feelings is an elegy for sentimental attachment (feeling); its Byronic irony is to use the language and genre of sentiment to write sentiments own epitaph, and so save it. The memorial life of feelings must be sacrificed without gain to save the autonomy of feeling. McGann describes Byron struggling to break wholly free from his sentimental sufferings ultimately, to break wholly free from the doomed poetry that expresses and discovers those

52 53

McGann, Poetics, 159. McGann, Poetics, 171. 54 McGann, Poetics, 158, 159.

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sufferings. In Memory of My Feelings is an elegy to the feeling heart that saves sentimentality by its elegiac ardour. OHaras Romantic sentimentality is a revisioning of modernisms seriousness, with one major inversion: language of the feeling 56 heart martyrs itself to the love of tears and suffering whereas OHara (possibly more compellingly than any other poet) refuses the right of suffering to elevate itself in martyrdom. His poetry is constantly alive to the threat that suffering will make itself loved, and therefore concreted into effigy. This is modernisms experiment with the forms of sensibility; where the sentimental enjoys its moral handwringing over the felicities of touch (sighs, swoons, blushes, as catalogued by McGann), and furthermore makes guilt the energy of the overwhelming touch, OHara refuses the right of suffering to possess the self as a virtue, as proof of depths of sincerity. The dream is to turn back to love, which makes of the present a memorial, precisely the kind of cancerous statue the close of the poem defies. Nostalgia for love is precisely not-love: nostalgia for love is the active prevention of present love. Sentimental late modernism is the inability to turn back to the sensibility of love, and the ecstatic elegy for it, the complete expenditure that effects an alternative autonomy, a turn. Though it is, I think, a questionable term for OHaras style, both because it is not contemporaneous with his work and fails to describe the particularity of the oppression of the 1950s, consider Jonathan Dollimores definition of camp as a parodic critique of the essence 57 of sensibility as conventionally understood. Camp, a queer style, feeds off the essence of sensibility; the late modernity of OHara is queer sensibility, its truth nothing but a body of falsehood, the 58 ecstatic elegy for sensibilitys masquerade of heterosexuality. Sentimental poetry came to be a pejorative term standing in general for writing which made a mawkish parade of spurious 59 feelings. In Memory of My Feelings is the ecstatic elegy for spurious feelings because spurious feelings need no decent parentage, but are born, vulgar, anyway.
55

55 56

McGann, Poetics, 159. McGann, Poetics, 4. 57 Dollimore, Sexual Dissidence, 308. 58 McGann, Byron and Romanticism, 64. 59 McGann, Byron and Romanticism, 57.

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The following section describes another key influence on OHaras poem, Paul Valry. Valrys poetics are a model for the ornateness theorized in the central portion of this essay, and more particularly provide OHara with one source for the paradisal figure of the serpent, with whom the self exists in agonistic, dialectical difference. 3.IV. OHARA GLOSSING PAUL VALRY: THE ORDER OF THE SERPENT My research suggests that the influence of Paul Valry on Frank OHara has not been recognised. OHara is taken to be so vocal about his passions that youd imagine wed have more declarative signs of his affection, were he as passionate about Valry as he was about, say, Pierre Reverdy. My claim is that, instead of being lionized as was Reverdy, Valry is a more ambivalent figure whose purpose was to mediate pleasures of classicism and aestheticism without regressing too far into an aristocratic uptightness reminiscent of Eliot. Valrys poetry is too neo-classical to be name-checked, but too significant to be simply overlooked. We can perhaps understand his influence by triangulating with the world of dance, to which both OHara and Valry were devoted. Valrys position might arguably correspond to that of George Balanchine, a high modernist in his rejection of conventional narrative, but still invested in matters of form and beauty. The work I fail to carry out below is that which places the dialogue between Valry and OHara as part of a conversation with Wallace Stevens, again a figure too noble to be a New York Schooler, but sufficiently modernist to warrant sustained 60 attention. I have presented elsewhere the case for the influence of Stevens on In Memory of My Feelings, largely through the
60

Stevens is mentioned in OHaras interview with Edward Lucie-Smith, including the fact that OHara read a Stevens poem (not named) during his own reading (Edward Lucie-Smith: An Interview with Frank OHara, in Standing Still and Walking in New York, ed. Donald Allen (Bolinas, CA: Grey Fox Press, 1975), 24). Stevens also gets a shout-out in Biotherm (For Bill Berkson), but one which is in French: jai compos mon Glorification hommage au pote amricain / lyrique et profond, Wallace Stevens / but one / of your American tourists told me he was a banker (439).

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figures of the hero and the serpent in Examination of the Hero in 61 a Time of War and The Auroras of Autumn. Briefly, the serpent in The Auroras of Autumn owes much to the example of Valry, as both a symbolic figure as conventionally understood, 62 and as a reflection of the formal properties of prosody. OHara, therefore, uses the figure of the serpent to triangulate an American and a European modernism. The serpent, or the sign of the serpent, shows itself in the following of Valrys Charmes (Charms): La Pythie (The Pythoness, 162-177), and bauche dun serpent (Silhouette of a Serpent, 184-205), and in his seminal long poem La Jeune Parque (The Young Fate/The Youngest Fate, 68-105), 63 composed between 1913 and 1917. According to Chisholm the two later poems from Charmes were composed as side-panels for a triptych having as its central panel La Jeune Parque, with the

61

See Ladkin, Frank OHaras Ecstatic Elegy. Wallace Stevens, Collected Poetry and Prose (New York: Library of America, 1997), 244-250 and 355363. Other resonances include Angel Surrounded by Paysans (423); compare OHaras When you turn your head/ can you feel your heels, undulating? to: Am I not Myself, only half a figure of a sort, A figure half seen, or seen for a moment, a man Of the mind, an apparition apparelled in Apparels of such lightest look that a turn Of my shoulder and quickly, too quickly, I am gone? (423) For other serpents in Stevens, see also The Bagatelles the Madrigals (193) and Owls Clover (152). 62 Stevens translated Valrys Eupalinos ou lArchitecte [Eupalions, or the Architect] and Lme et la Danse [Dance and the Soul], on which see Barbara Fisher, Stevens Dancing: Something Light, Winged, Holy, in Wallace Stevens, New York, and Modernism, ed. Lisa Goldfarb and Bart Eeckout (New York: Routledge, 2012), 71-84 (76); and Lisa Goldfarb, The Figure Concealed: Wallace Stevens, Music, and Valryan Echoes (Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2011). 63 All parenthetical page numbers refer to Paul Valry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, ed. J. Mathews and Trans. David Paul (London: Routledge, 1971).

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innocent Eve moving away from pure Being towards a sensuous and dynamic Living in Silhouette, and in the other the young Pythia, a prey to sombre Being and cruelly cut off from Living, whilst in the central panel the young Parque, after her long meditation in the night, joyfully accepts Living, with all that it 64 implies. Chisholm writes: The implication of the whole triptych is that woman, like man, can be emancipated and made whole only by unrestricted consciousness, although thought in her case has to admit and rationalize the instinctive urge of passion and maternity.... Thought and instinct; recognition of the illusory character of the world, and a healthy acceptance of life: these antinomies are 65 reconciled in the central panel. It is that central panel, La Jeune Parque, a poem composed in classical French alexandrines, and therefore participating in a by then fairly ersatz version of conservative formalism, that can be 66 shown as one source for OHaras poetry. For Agnes Mackay the imagery presents no difficulty: La Jeune Parque, a statue come to life, wakes on some remote Thessalian shore. Her waking thoughts and retrospective meditations, her walks through flowering grass, her reactions to the world around her, her horror of the serpent and her desire for purity are easy to 67 understand.

64

A.R. Chisholm, La Pythie and Its Place in Valrys Work, The Modern Language Review 58.1 (1963): 24. 65 Chisholm, La Pythie, 25. 66 The verse form is the classical French alexandrine, and the resources of this line of twelve syllables are enlarged and renewed. The rhymed couplets also follow the classical Racinian usage. There are sixteen movements of varied length, consisting of recitatives often composed of a single period, or periods alternating with lyrical passages. Agnes Ethel Mackay, The Universal Self: A Study of Paul Valry (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961), 155. 67 Mackay, The Universal Self, 156-7.

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Its tempting to go with Mackay on the interpretation of the young fate as a statue, but it does not seem to be so easily assumed by other commentators. We can though read the fates awakening into a new state of liveness by the sting of a serpent as an echo of 68 Ovids Pygmalion. The metamorphosis between dead statuary, mortal life and final death is played out in both OHaras and Valrys poems, and for both there is a statuary accreting within the living which must be resisted, a kind of deadness in life that is the enemy of fluid, attentive vivacity. When I develop my reading of ornament, Ill consider how various largely ignored terms that span rhetoric and aesthetics are all about this distinction between the mere representation of living things, and the vividness of life (energeia, furia), and how Valry and OHara take on this distinction between representation and evocation as an insidious and dangerous potential failing in living things, that the very liveliness of ones life can become reified into its own representation, a dead statue accreted within our lives when they 69 cease sufficient movement. There is, therefore, a necessary push against representation as an aesthetic promise since its repercussions impact upon the life of the poet, and of the poem s readers. For OHara, martyrdom to memories presents such a focus of wariness, as we potentially live our current lives as representations of past lives and loves.

68

In 1917, Valery outlined briefly in one of the Cahiers the compositional story of the poem he had just finished, How I wrote the J Nadal knew of these lines, but he perhaps deciphered them imperfectly. Under the heading Genesis, Valery enumerated, year by year, some of the themes he had worked with. Here is found, among the Serpent (1913), - a particularly rich symbol since the reptiles bite represents the consciousness awakening to pain, while its coiling evokes self-awareness as well as the animal abyss, Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin and Emmett Gossen, Introduction to La Jeune Parque, Yale French Studies 44 (1970): 100. 69 The value of impetuosity is something like furia: Seen in this light, Michelangelo is heir to that redefinition of psychic energy that took place in the early Renaissance. Furia is no longer a vice, but a virtue to be praised. In its higher form, Poliziano wrote, it is excandescentia (thymos), which is the opposite of stupor (in the usual sense of the word), as spring of winter, a strength to be husbanded and shaped, symptomatic of a character born to great undertaking and accomplishment. Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 247.

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La Jeune Parque opens with an epigraph from Pierre Corneille: Le Ciel a-t-il form cet amas de merveilles Pour la demeure dun serpent? Did heaven form this mass of marvels 70 To be a serpents dwelling-place? The serpent in Corneilles play was, according to George Whiting, a symbol of eros, and no doubt OHara plays on such a convention, but such stability of symbolic reference belies the major symbolic potential of the serpent as a particularly selfreflexive symbol due to its formal properties, the mystery of its movement, its capacity for paradoxical temporalities, capable of total stillness and the impeccable speed of the strike, or of a languorous shimmer, the way its figure constantly shifts and transforms itself, the way its shape (its figure) acts out the slipperiness of figuration, resisting permanence on behalf of tortuosity. Its symbolic rationale is therefore its resistance to the symbolic, said resistance of symbolic logic arguably inspiring La Jeune Parque. Valry writes that there is nothing so valuable for 71 getting ones ideas clear as to write a long and obscure poem. Note that the argument is not that the poem becomes clear, but that somehow its obscurity transforms the vagueness that lies behind it into clarity. Obscurity sacrifices itself. Well see this
70

All references are to Paul Valry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, ed. J. Mathews and Trans. David Paul (London: Routledge, 1971), 70-1. The French original will be placed above the English translation. Brad Gooch understands OHara to have purchased the Selected Writings (New York: New Directions, 1950) of Paul Valry between 1948 and 1950 (Gooch, City Poet, 140). The New Directions edition includes passages from La Jeune Parque with alternative translations. The other works of French poetry purchased during that time were in French, and it is fair to assume OHara would have had access by 1956 to the original La Jeune Parque. The other books listed are Les Fleurs du mal and Le Spleen de Paris by Baudelaire, Posies and Un Coup de ds by Mallarm, Choix de Posies by Paul Verlaine, Illuminations and Oeuvres by Rimbaud, Figures et Paraboles by Paul Claudel, and Paroles by Jacques Prvert. 71 James R. Lawler, Notes and Commentaries, in Valry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, 448.

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throughout In Memory in, for example, the repeated references to transparency in part I, and in To Hell with It, in the conclusions forceful push for clarity. La Jeune Parque develops, Valry claims, not out of its symbolic history, but its sound: All the development that concerns 72 the serpent came out of the rhyme ordre. Order becomes, implicitly, the ordering function, transposing itself throughout the poem. It is contained within varia tions, notably mordre (to bite), and dsordre (disorderliness). Order means both to order something in time, in a hierarchy, a word order, etc., but also as a command, to give an order. The sound, ordre, therefore, is aligned with the serpent that compels the poem onward and organizes its parts. Its key figure and its structure are serpentine; James R. Lawler comments that the poem comprises a number of coils (nuds) which form a sinuous emblem, an image of the 73 sensibility. In a letter to Maurice Denis written in preparation of his composition, Valry writes of the poem as an infinitely 74 extensible hydra, that may also be cut into parts. OHaras In Memory offers no such myth of origins in the undulation of sound, but instead its prosody, which has been various throughout the poem, performs its serpentine form in section five by loosely beginning each line twisted below the last, a feature echoed in the two major sections of To Hell with It. This ordering function isnt, however, merely an intellectual exercise. La Jeune Parque sets up a dynamic in which the poem in its formal qualities is used to contest the realm of ideas. Prosody and poetic form take on the properties associated with the continuity of the body. In a helpful passage worth providing at length, and littered With Valrys own insights, James R. Lawler summarizes the lessons of La Jeune Parque as follows:

72

Tout le dveloppement (du Serpent) est sorti de la rime ordre. Quoted in Charles G. Whiting, Paul Valery (London: Athlone, 1978), 23. 73 James R. Lawler, Notes and Commentaries, in Valry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, 453. 74 James R. Lawler, Notes and Commentaries, 453. Valry says the real subject of La Jeune Parque is the painting of a sequence of psychological substitutions and in the main the change of consciousness during the length of a night. I have tried[...] and at the cost of unbelievable effort, to explain the modulation of a life. Quoted in Mackay, The Universal Self, 153.

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The young woman who wakes in the night and comes to pursue her monologue sur lcueil mordu par la merveille discovers the elegy of the world. As she speaks the moist wind, the sea, the stars accompany her voice and prolong its plaint; but within the Parque herself we are aware of another counterpoint, that of mind and body. Accompanying ideas, memories, resolutions, reasonings there is an inner music, the basso continuo of the sensibility which is the Parque s true center, her nonhistorical and nonanecdotal self. Although she appears to be caught up in an intellectual dilemma her poem is, as Valry noted, une physiologie et une mlodie, or un cours de physiologie, as he told Frdic Lefvre with not a little humour. He meant that a process of transformation has been articulated, an ordered cycle of the sensibility which serves as a basis for the Parques thought, since it binds her consciousness to 75 the body comme une anmone de mer son galet.
75

Lawler, The Poet as Analyst: Essays on Paul Valry (Berkeley: University of California, 1974), 144-5. A note on translation: comme une anmone de mer son galet translates roughly as with a sea anemone and its grit. The following gloss on the poem is compiled from the reading provided by Agnes Mackay in The Universal Self, and is therefore not beyond dispute, but helpful as an opening on the poem (the page references that follow in this footnote are all to Mackay). Mackay summarizes as follows: in the first section a tear symbolizes regret for unfulfilled desires (157), at which point the young fate turns to question her memories (158). The first movement ends with the introduction of the serpent, the second then working with the theme of temptation. From the inquisition of the self a further Self is projected (159), a Self which defies temptation, denying the serpent as symbol of the world and carnal desires (159). Mackay comments: La Jeune Parque has taken her decision. Henceforth she must stand alone, governed not by her sensibility but by her intellect sustained by pride (160). A new Self replaces the old self, before the young fate reawakens to the problems of life. Such problems, and the bitterness of memory are metamorphosed into music, the eighth section ending with regret for those very temptations which have been rejected (163). Hence the young fate vows not to be ensnared in future (163), and a new Self repudiates the world, with all the force and clarity of a state of ecstasy. (163) The poem then sings of the betrayal of the Self overcome by sleep (169) for it is at moments of intellectual lassitude (169) that selves give in to temptation. The final movement brings us back to a double waking, for

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To skip to the end, to what extent does the close of In Memory also seek a sensibility which is the true center, [a...] nonhistorical and nonanecdotal self? The scene of my selves and the serpent, do these provide a similar contestation between personal, historic and epic memories and a de-historicized sensibility, elusive in its movements and its transparencies? OHaras poem seeks a further elegy of the world, in creasing the variousness of ornamental prosody over that of Valry in order, also, to free the sensibility of its habituated continuity. The tradition that sees prosody as the music of verse is bound to physiology; music and corporeality are equally grounded, it is implied, in physical manifestations of continuous rhythms, the basso continuo, the rhythm underlying music. We can assume that both music and the body contrast to the ideational aspects of subjectivity by their avoidance of language. To remain nonhistorical and nonanecdotal they must remain outside of written or spoken record. Language and memory, therefore, become the harbingers of history, made apparent when placed in contrast to the continuity of the body in its rhythms. There is an implicit antagonism between language and history, and it is only poetry which can behave as language gesturing toward the possibility of its being denatured of its own existence as language by elevating form. Its formal properties either overwhelm or fatally undermine the history non-poetic language harbours. This is clearly paradoxical, that a kind of ahistorical base beat is maintained by the body susceptible to slip off the mortal coil, but I think that sense of pressure is exactly right for Valrys poem: history overtakes the living eventually, but it is the task of the living body to remain 76 against history.
the Self of yesterday is replaced by that of today which in its turn must also die; for the new day already forms the substance of a tomb, each sunrise foretells its own setting, all thought has an end[...]. Thus the Self accepts the pure source of all intellectual power, in the figures of the sun and the sea as image and substance of the poets life; presence to which he must return, and in which he renews his creative forces (170-1). 76 Whiting describes the poem as a dramatic struggle between a desire for intellectual purity, for a god-like state and the exigencies of life of a human being seen as a part of nature, and obeying inevitable laws of physiological functioning, development, reproduction and self-conservation (Whiting, Paul Valery, 22).

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Lawlers description of counterpoint refers to musical 77 theory, with which OHara was more than familiar. Here the counterpoint is taken to be the relation between mind and body, where body is (a little unproblematically) understood to be sensibility. What of an alternative aesthetic term, that of contrapposto? Though frequently used when discussing the torsion of the body in a twisted pose, the term derives from the Latin contrapositum, which is itself a translation of the Greek antithesis, a rhetorical figure in which opposites were set directly against one 78 another. David Summers continues: In the Renaissance, contrapposto had a wider meaning than it has now, and could refer to any opposition chiaroscuro, for example, or the juxtapositions of old and young, male or female.[...] The pattern for contrapposto composition was thus rhetorical; the setting of visual contrasts created vividness just as the setting of opposites in rhetoric or poetry created a memorable and 79 convincing vividness. My point is that, rather than eliding the antagonism between aspects of personhood into either the weak accompanying ideas in Lawlers description, or the reference to the sensibility that binds her consciousness to the body contrapposto elaborates them, uses them as energy. Mind and body is not quite the key agonism in OHaras poem; for that the likeliest candidate is the agonism between memorial selves and present experience, but in both poems, that of Valry and of OHara, the serpent is the symbol of the contrapposto, the symbol of a liveliness born when symbolism itself becomes, in a positive sense, rhetorical. La Jeune Parque describes its protagonist, the youngest fate, a virgin, emotionally distraught, located in a place relevant to the conclusion of In Memory of My Feelings, by the sea. Her distress is due to her dream in which she is bitten by a Serpent, as Charles G. Whiting describes it, sinuous, undulating, impatient, yet
77

See Gooch, City Poet, 94. On music and Valry see Brian Stimpson, Paul Valry and Music: A Study of the Techniques of Composition in Valrys Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). 78 Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 76. 79 Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 76.

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heavily languorous. Such a summary of the scene elides the oddness of the poem however. The separation of waking and dreaming states is not enforced, so that a slurring of consciousness is effected. If its subject is the dynamic between intellect, sensibility, and corporeality, it is by its interpretation of erotic pleasure that it will proceed. The poem opens with what we assume is the young fate describing her lament, her broken heart silent, reproached by the 81 murmur of the surf. The voice of the poem asks itself a number of questions (I ask my heart what pain keeps it awake) and this internal dialogue (which reaches out to Valrys obsession with narcissistic mirroring) becomes tortuous in its serpentine logic: Je me voyais me voir, sinueuse, et dorais De regards en regards, mes profondes forts. Jy suivais un serpent qui venait de me mordre. Quel repli de dsirs, sa trine!... Quel dsordre De trsors sarrachant mon avidit, Et quelle sombre soif de la limpidit! (Poems, 70) I saw me seeing myself, sinuous, and From gaze to gaze gilded my innermost forests. I was tracking a snake there that had just stung me. What a coil of lusts, his trail!... What a riot Of riches wrenched away from my longing, And ah, that obscure thirst for limpidity! (Poems, 71) The serpents sting has already turned this subject into its likeness; it is sinuous, its Medusan gaze penetrating the wooded dark of an unconscious interior. The serpent who strikes in the dream is an antagonistic part of the self, rather than an external force, and yet it
80

80

Whiting, Sexual Imagery in La Jeune Parque and Charmes, PMLA 86.5 (1971): 940. 81 Paul Valry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, ed. J. Mathews and Trans. David Paul (London: Routledge, 1971); hereafter abbreviated Poems and cited parenthetically with page number.

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has the force of externality such that the fate ponders whether the 82 crime is committed against me or by myself? (Poems, 71). The narcissistic and apostrophic turn within subjectivity is echoed throughout OHaras poem; its opening, though, is breezier, more fun, and arguably avoids the serpents sting. The subject and the serpent are already too similar; they share their weaponry. The he who is transparent, inside quietness, is likely just one of the transparent selves[...] writhing and hissing at the end of the first section of the poem, coagulating into at least a 83 resemblance of the Medusa. The obscure thirst for limpidity is arguably translated by OHara into transparency. Limpidity likely derives from the Latin lympha, meaning clear liquid (OED), so, as with transparency, theres a paradox of obscurity and clarity at work: that which is transparent is open, has nothing to hide, and yet nothing can be seen. Light passes through and hence its substance becomes obscure. OHaras quietness plays silence as similarly obscure and clear. This is Valryan narcissism, the dangers of self-reflection held ultimately in hollowness. Both poems play with dynamics between liquid and air. OHaras I rise[s] into the cool skies from its flooded streets, into a bathetic version of Byrons Manfred. Compare the opening page of La Jeune Parque to the opening of In Memory: Cette main, sur mes traits quelle rve effleurer, Distraitement docile quelque fin profonde, Attend de ma faiblesse une larme qui fonde, Et que de mes destins lentement divis, Le plus pur en silence claire un coeur bris La houle me murmure une ombre de reproche,
82

Mackay in The Universal Self comments: In a letter to M. Lafont in 1922, Valry called his poem a reverie, with all the ruptures, all the renewals and surprises of a reverie. But at the same time a reverie in which the conscious consciousness is both the subject and the object. Imagine, he wrote, someone waking in the middle of the night, and the whole of his life appearing and speaking to him about itself sensuality, memories, emotions, sensations of the body, the depth of memory and the light of former skies seen again. Of this knotted thread, which has neither beginning nor end, I have made a monologue, on which I imposed, before I began, conditions of form as severe as the substance was free (153). 83 On this figure, see Brian Reed, Hart Crane: After His Lights (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 207-8.

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Ou retire ici-bas, dans ses gorges de roche, Comme chose due et bue amrement, Une rumeur de plainte et de reserrement... (Poems, 68) This hand of mine, dreaming it strokes my features, Absently submissive to some deep-hidden end, Waits for a tear to melt out of my weakness And, gradually dividing from my other destinies, For the purest to enlighten a broken heart in silence. The surf murmurs to me the shadow of a reproach, Or withdraws below, in its rocky gorges, Like a disappointed thing, drunk back in bitterness, A rumor of lamentation and self-constraint.... (Poems, 69) OHaras poem opens: My quietness has a man in it, he is transparent and he carries me quietly, like a gondola, through the streets. He has several likenesses, like stars and years, like numerals. My quietness has a number of naked selves, so many pistols I have borrowed to protect myselves from creatures who too easily recognize my weapons and have murder in their heart! though in winter they are warm as roses, in the desert taste of chilled anisette. (CP, 252-3) The speaking self struck by the serpent begins to divide itself from my other destinies, destinies enumerated in OHaras poem: One of me rushes / to window 13 and one of me raises his 84 whip[...] (CP, 253). Valrys poem goes on to describe the cold

84

The passage beginning One of me rushes up to the imperceptible moan of covered breathing is, I think, subject to a brief repetition, a recital, here written with interpolations in brackets: So many [one of me.. and one of me] of my transparencies could not resist the race [the track]! Terror in earth, dried mushrooms, pink feathers [pink flamingoes], tickets, a flaking moon drifitng across the muddied teeth,

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strike of the serpent in terms of its sovereign rays, weapons invincible, / The shooting glances of your eternity (Ces souverains clats, ces invincibles armes) and OHaras poem, too, is concerned with the weapons the selves use for pro tection, but might be too apparent to provide protection against the predatory creatures. The shooting glances of your eternity (les lancements de votre ternit) are echoed at the end of the first section of In Memory, and animal death whips out its flashlight, / whistling / and slipping the glove off the trigger hand ( CP, 253). Une rumeur de plainte et de resserrement, translated as A rumor of lamentation and self-constraint can be translated as a murmured moan and tightening, closer to OHaras the imperceptible moan of covered breathing ( CP, 253). Valrys poem establishes a central character from amidst a slew of mythic precursors, including Eve, Psyche, Helen, and Pandora, to become, as Lawler describes her, our destiny 85 struggling with the inherent mystery of the mortal self. This youngest fate and her elusive hunter, the Serpent, which amongst other things appears to be self-awareness, are struggling between freedom and destiny. The young fate is born of the loaded wound of the serpents sting, the poison that enlightens me. The young fate addresses the serpent: Cher Serpent Je menlace, tre vertigineux! Cesse de me prter ce mlange de nuds Ni ta fidlit qui me fuit et devine Mon me y peut suffire, ornement de ruine! (Poems, 72) Dear Snake. I coil, vertiginous being, on myself! Lend me no longer your enwound confusion And your fidelity that eludes and knows me. My soul, a ruins ornament, will suffice instead! (Poems, 73) From the first section of In Memory we switch to the fifth, the two sections most apparently indebted to Valrys poetry of the serpent. Compare the above to:
the imperceptible moan of covered breathing [open mouths gasping for the cries of the bettors for the lungs / of earth] (CP, 253)
85

Lawler, Notes and Commentaries, 452.

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And now it is the serpents turn. I am not quite you, but almost, the opposite of visionary. You are coiled around the central figure, the heart that bubbles with red ghosts, since to move is to love and the scrutiny of all things is syllogistic, [...] The address between self and serpent is not ontologically safe in either of these poems. The serpents poison is parasitical in La Jeune Parque, making fate a likeness of the bond of knowledge and sin. For OHara, too, we cannot safely demarcate self and 86 serpent: I am not quite you, but almost. The use of quite here echoes our opening invocation of quietness; it is as though quiet and quite share for the poem a sense of aptness, of a satisfaction born of their elusive qualities, as either opaque or transparent/limpid. They draw on the qualities of the serpent; a sense of reticence imbued with knowing and insight. The not quite is for OHara the necessary antagonism within subjectivity, a model of selfhood kept truly alive by the differentiation of agency within the self. There is a pact here, a pact with the deathly constitution of the serpent, its ability to constrict the circulation of blood around the heart. This is thanatos, the return to stone. Deathly import acts as a constant threat, inspiring the ebb and flow of living, attentive movement. Valrys Cahiers tells the story of the poems composition, How I wrote the JP, and includes this description of the symbol of the serpent as representing both a coming to self87 awareness and the animal abyss. In the first section of OHaras poem we read:
86

Brian Reed (Hart Crane, 208) writes: But this identification is not total: I am not quite you; the self and the serpent are not wholly one. Rather, as this passage suggests, the serpent ultimately matters to OHara because it is continuous somehow with the central figure, the bubbling heart. Embracing flux as the ground of selfhood brings OHara to the verge of the true fulfilment he seems to seek, love, figured quite conventionally as a heart.

87

Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin and Emmett Gossen, Introduction to La Jeune Parque, 100. Also from the Cahiers, (VI, 147), quoted by Chisholm,

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I am underneath its leaves as the hunter crackles and pants and bursts, as the barrage balloon drifts behind a cloud and animal death whips out its flashlight, whistling and slipping the glove off the trigger hand. The serpent s eyes redden at sight of those thorny fingernails, he is so smooth!

La Pythie, 27, the translation into English is by Peter Manson (for which I am very grateful). Les animaux qui font le plus horreur a lhomme, qui linquietent dans ses pensees, le chat, la pieuvre, le reptile, laraignee... sont ceux dont la figure, lceil, les allures ont quelque chose de psychologique. Ils ressemblent a des pensees ou a des arriere-pensees et donnent, par consequence, lidee quils en ont. Fantaisie: Peut-etre, sont-ils ceux qui ont failli passer a lintelligence et tre a la place de lhomme. Peut-etre de terribles experiences ont eu lieu contre des betes qui avaient quelque ressemblance avec celles-ci, et que des associations invincibles se sont formees? Ces antipathies toutes puissantes font voir quil y a en nous une mythologie, une fable latente-un folklore nerveux, difficile a isoler car il se confond sur ses bords, peut-tre, avec des effets de la sensibilite qui, eux, sont purement moleculaires, extrapsychiques. The animals which cause the greatest horror to man, which are most disturbing to his thoughts -- the cat, the octopus, the reptile, the spider... are those whose face (or appearance), eye, way of moving (or just air) have something of the psychological about them. They resemble thoughts, or latent ideas, and, as a result, give the impressions that they possess them (i.e. thoughts or hidden ideas). Fantasy: perhaps, they are the ones who have failed to arrive at intelligence and to attain the position/status of men. Perhaps terrible experiences have taken place against animals which have some resemblance to these ones, and invincible associations have been formed? These all-powerful antipathies demonstrate that there is within us a mythology, a hidden fable -- a neural folklore, difficult to isolate because it merges, perhaps, at its borders, with sensory impressions which are purely molecular, occurring outside the mind.

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The smooth serpent echoes Car toute la faveur de mes members unis (Poems, 98) [the smooth oneness of my limbs] (Poems, 99). Later in La Jeune Parque we understand how the serpent 88 provides insight or some other charge of illumination, Lhorreur millumine, execrable harmonie! (Poems, 86), [Horror gives me insight, accursed harmony!] (Poems, 87). Consider: Mystriouse MOI, pourtant, tu vis encore! Tu vas te reconnatre au lever de laurore Amrement la mme Un miroir de la mer Se lve Et sur la lvre, un soirire dhier Quannonce avec ennui leffacement des signes, Glace dans lorient dj les ples lignes De lumire et de pierre, et la pleine prison O flottera lanneau de lunique horizon Regarde: un bras trs pur est vu, qui se dnude. Je te revois, mon bras Tu portes laube O rude Rveil dune victime inacheve et seuil Si doux si clair, que flatte, affleurement dcueil, Londe basse, et que lave une houle amortie!... Lombre qui mabandonne, imprissable hostie, Me dcouvre vermeille de nouveaux dsirs, Sur le terrible autel de tous mes souvenirs. (Poems, 90-92) Thing of mystery, ME, are you living yet! When dawns curtain lifts, you will recognize Your same bitter self. A mirror is rising From the sea. And on its lip a smile of yesterday Heralded by the weary extinction of the signs, Already in the east fixes the faint lines Of light and stone, and the ample prison Where will float the ring of the single horizon. Look: a purest arm is seen baring itself, My arm: I see you again. You bear the dawn.
88

See OHaras brilliant interpretation of Pollocks art as one of insight in Art Chronicles 1954-1966 (New York: Braziller, 1975), 13.

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Rude Waking of a victim undispatched and still So gentle bright, soothed level with the reef By the low wave, and washed by a deadened surf!... The darkness that sheds me, indestructible victim, Unveils me rosy to newborn desires On the terrible altar of all my memories. (Poems, 91-93) OHaras And yet matches Valrys pourtant when introducing a kind of apostrophic self-examination, challenging that which is living and that which is dead in subjectivity to battle. Mystriouse MOI, earlier Harmonieuse MOI, matches I myself who must now kill in order to do what? The young fate turns through the poem from memory, through attention, to consciousness, until she will awaken before our eyes to self-consciousness, to awareness of her Moi-always written with a capital and at times entirely capitalized, MOI, as though to underline its thematic 89 importance. To save the serpent, and whatever deathly promise it contains, thereby assures the perpetual reinvention necessary to remain truly alive and also to kill off the lingering of past lives, of memories, in the present: past love could not be transformed into a dead effigy of the past, into history, and therefore lingers in the always and everywhere of the present, the scene of my selves. How to be truly alive? The serpents fluidity must sever deadening causality, as performed by that stunning line break from always and everywhere to present. Such presentness cannot be contained symbolically or in language, but acted out in the serpents turn (CP, 256) of the line break. Its set up metrically with great precision, too, the trochaic always implying a definitiveness, the prosaic, lingering everywhere implying a spreading out and suffusion, before the trochaic opening of present reflects always, in newly resolved persistence. Valrys narcissistic mirror rising from the surf showing in its past a minor joy relates to the following description of the beautiful things in the memory of OHaras poem:

89

Duchesne-Guillemin and Emmett Gossen, Introduction to La Jeune Parque, 98.

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GLOSSATOR 8
but the prey is always fragile and like something, as a seashell can be a great Courbet, if it wishes. To bend the ear of the outer world. When you turn your head can you feel your heels, undulating? thats what it is to be a serpent. I havent told you of the beautiful things in my lives, and watching the ripple of their loss disappear along the shore, underneath ferns, face downward in the ferns my body, the naked host to my many selves[...] (CP, 256) Can we not take Valrys lines as poetic motivation for OHaras 90 poem? Lombre qui mabandonne, imprissable hostie, Me dcouvre vermeille de nouveaux desires, Sur le terrible autel de tous mes souvenirs. (Poems, 92) The darkness that sheds me, indestructible victim, Unveils me rosy to newborn desires
90

Consider this, too, from the edition of Valrys Selected Writings OHara owned: The searing lesson is more complete still. It was not enough for our generation to learn from its own experience how the most beautiful things and the most ancient, the most formidable and the best ordered, can perish by accident; in the realm of thought, feeling, and common sense, we witnessed extraordinary phenomena: paradox suddenly become fact, and obvious fact brutally belied. The Crisis of the Mind [published in The Athenaeum (London), April 11 and May 2 1919] in Paul Valry: An Anthology, selected by James R. Lawler (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), 95. In the following quotation we can imagine the inventors will give way to the scientists of World War II, struggling to control the force of the nuclear bomb that would end the war, and OHaras participation in the Pacific: While inventors were feverishly searching their imaginations and the annals of former wars for the means of doing away with barbed wire, of outwitting submarines or paralyzing the flight of airplanes, her soul was intoning at the same time all the incantations it ever knew, and giving serious consideration to the most bizarre prophecies; she sought refuge, guidance, consolation throughout the whole register of her memories, past acts, and ancestral attitudes (96). Such switches between memories, past acts, and ancestral attitudes is a pretty fair approximation of the energy of OHaras poem.

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On the terrible altar of all my memories. (Poems, 93) Obscurity, the shadow that abandons me, imperishable sacrificial victim, unveils the red of the heart / that bubbles with red ghosts (CP, 256) with the living furia of new desire, born on the terrible altar of all my memories, the cancerous statue. There are several references in Valrys poem that liken the self to tombeau. Perhaps OHaras statue lies on the terrible altar which is a sepulchre, referencing Miltons charge: To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but O yet more miserable! 91 Myself, my sepulchre, a moving grave. In Memory of my Feelings seeks this hostile, serpentine presence as the necessity to kill off, to murder, the past selves, the selves of memories, who otherwise haunt present experience. The insight referred to above, earlier the souverains clats of les lancements (Poems, 68), and the silence claire, these are all the lightning strikes of a knowledge of mortality, symbolised by the gaze and strike of the serpent. Such combinations of sovereignty, light and silence pepper Valrys poem. Je soutenais lclat de la mort toute pure Telle javais jadis le soleil soutenu Mon corps dsespr tendait le torse nu O lme, ivre de soi, de silence et de gloire, Prte svanouir de sa propre mmoire, coute, avec espoir, frapper au mur pieux Ce cur, - qui se ruine coups mystrieux, Jusqu ne plus tenir que de sa complaisance Un frmissement fin de feuille, ma prsence (Poems, 94)

91

Think, too, of the following passage from Shelleys Essay on Love: Thou demandest, What is Love? It is that powerful attraction towards all that we conceive, or fear, or hope beyond ourselves, when we find within our own thoughts the chasm of an insufficient void and seek to awaken in all things that are a community with what we experience within ourselves.[...] Soon as this want or power is dead, man becomes the living sepulchre of himself, and what yet survives is the mere husk of what once he was. Quoted in McGann, Poetics, 170-1.

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I withstood the dazzle of death in its purity As I formerly had withstood the sun. My body desperate stretched its naked torso Where the soul, crazed with self, silence, and glory Ready to faint away from its own memory Listens, in hope, to this heart knocking against The pious wall, with a secret, self-destroying beat, Till only from sheer compliance does it keep up This thin quivering of a leaf, my presence. (Poems, 95) The insight of death and the clarity of sunlight are associated. There is an odd erotics to this passage, the deathly gaze behaving as a kind of light and heat under which the body can unfurl in its pleasures. OHaras reference to the acoustic echo of the seashell, in which resides the non-sentence, To bend the ear of the outer world, reflects a narcissistic logic by which reflection, echo, rhythm, counter-intuitively antagonize and pull apart the self. There is a buried Christian symbolism in these poems, particularly surrounding the roles of sacrificial victim or host. OHara writes: face downward in the ferns my body, the naked host to my many selves, shot by a guerilla warrior or dumped from a car into ferns which are themselves journalires. (CP, 256) What are the ferns here (although they more directly recall Stevens Examination of the Hero in a Time of War)? The syntax is ambiguous. Journalires means either, as an adjective, daily or everyday, implying banality, or as a noun meaning a day labourer, or even commuter, so perhaps themselves refers back to the many selves rather than to the ferns? Corporeality, the spiritual grounded in flesh plays host to the Whitmanian multitudes (host also meaning multitudes). Valrys altar might be used in the Eucharist, on which the bread as body of Christ will be laid. Host likely derives from the Latin hostis, meaning enemy, so OHaras naked host to my many selves also understands that memory and the body may be sworn adversaries, as played out by the assassination that follows. In Valry the body is dsespr tendait le torse nu, its naked torso tensed. The translation is poor; the soul is not so much crazed as made drunk or intoxicated by the self (a

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much more Baudelairean conviction), suggesting again that self or subjectivity are not coterminous with whatever is to be saved by this poem. Made drunk by de soi, de silence et de gloire/ self, silence, and glory, or, perhaps better, self, quietness, and fame, the soul passes out, blacks out (much less dignified than the translation faint) from its own memories. We might read the heart striking (frapper), rather than knocking, against a devotional wall (in OHara, against my will / against my love), its mysterious blow s breaking the self, until only an indulgency or complacency holds up the trembling ends of this leaf, my presence. [C]omplaisance offers various difficulties in its translations, but I suspect something close to the kind of cunning attributed to the serpent would be a better rendering. The leaf (de feuille) doubles as paper, suggesting the presence of the poetic voice is held, trembling, only on the slightness of the page. Qui saline?... Qui senvole?... Qui se vautre?... quel dtour cach, mon coeur sest-il fondu? Quelle conque a redit le nom que jai perdu? Le sais-je, quel reflux tratre ma retire De mon extrmit pure prmature, Et ma repris le sens de mon vaste soupir? (Poems, 98) Who is estranged?... Who is vanishing?... Wallowing?.. . In what blind turning did my heart melt away? What shell echoed to the name I had given up? Can I guess what treacherous ebb withdrew me From my naked and untimely extremity, And took away the sense of my huge sigh? (Poems, 99) Moments of similarity in In Memory include the serpents turn; the opposite of visionary matches the dtour cach (blind turning or perhaps hidden or secret turning); the naked host to my many selves relates to the mon extrmit pure et prmature; and as a seashell can be / a great Courbet, if it wishes recalls Quelle conque a redit le nom que jai perdu?, where we might translate forgotten or lost rather than given up. Valrys question is perhaps stated thus: how did the rhythm of life, its ebb and flow, split me from my naked self? Cherche, du moins, dis-toi, par quelle sourde suite

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La nuit, dentre les morts, au jour ta reconduite? Souviens- toi de toi-mme, et retire linstinct Ce fil (ton doigt dor le dispute au matin), Ce fil dont la finesse aveuglment suivie Jusque sur cette rive a ramen ta vie... Sois subtile cruelle ou plus subtile!... Mens Mais sache!... Enseigne-moi par quells enchantements, Lche que na su fuir sa tide fume, Ni le souci dun sein dargile parfume, Par quel retour sur toi, reptile, as-tu repris Tes parfums de caverne et tes tristes esprits? (Poems 96-98) Seek at least, and declare by what sly paths Night restored you to day from among the dead? Recall self to self, reclaim from instinct That thread (your golden finger vies for it with morning) That thread whose fine-spun trace blindly followed Has led your life again back to this shore.... Be subtle or cruel or more subtle still!... Cheat, but find out! Tell me by what wiles, Coward whom her own warm breath could not relinquish, Nor the fond love of a breast of perfumed clay, By what self-recollection, reptile, did you Resume your cavernous savor and your glooms? 92 (Poems, 97-99) The poem asks to Recall self to self, reclaim from instinct[] That thread whose fine-spun trace blindly followed / Has led your life again back to this shore The reference to Ariadnes thread relates the knowledge of mortality associated with the thread to Valrys attempt to make the ebb and flow of sensibility find a compatible rhythm such that the self is recalled to itself; can this juncture of inward and outward flow only meet, finally, at death? Is that death here replayed as the vaste soupir, an orgasmic closure? The instinct here is thanatos, the instinct not to selfpreservation but to unselfing destruction.
92

Some notes on the translation: Enseigne-moi par quels enchantements might better read Teach me by what enchantments, rather than wiles because of the chant, the song, contained therein, echoed in OHaras poem with singly.

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Brian Stimpson describes the final section of the poem in which the Parque comes to the edge of the sea and reflects. The scene proposed is one of recollection and reassessment evident in the tenses and moods of the first sketch; the confrontation of selves is manifest as she remembers her former self, the experience she has undergone as well as the suggestion in the perfect 93 conditional of what she perhaps ought to have done. The repetition of souverains (sovereign) refers to the merveilleuse fin, the sovereign act of self-murder to achieve the absolute, part of Valrys obsession with a point of identification 94 with the universal laws. After surviving the quick illumination of death in self-sacrifice, (Je soutenais lclat de la mort toute pure), the young fate asks whether she should indeed have fulfilled the merveilleuse fin of choosing death: naurait-il fallu, folle, que jaccomplisse Ma merveilleuse fin de choisir pour supplice Ce lucide ddain des nuances du sort? Trouveras-tu jamais plus transparente mort Ni de pente plus pure o je rampe ma perte Que sur ce long regard de victime entrouverte, Ple, qui se rsigne et saigne sans regret? (Poems, 94) Oh fool, ought I not to have fulfilled My marvellous aim, choosing for self-torture My lucid contempt for fates varying moods? Will you ever light on a death more translucent, On a purer slope whereby to creep to perdition Than by that long gaze of the victim laid open, Pale, resigned, bleeding away without regret? (Poems, 95) For Stimpson the transparente mort represents for her le 95 moment souverain. The murder of the corporeal aspect allows
93 94

Stimpson, Paul Valry and Music, 223. Stimpson, Paul Valry and Music, 229. 95 Stimspon, Paul Valry and Music, 229.

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the mind to look down on the body as victim. The Fate asks herself whether she would regret such a decision, such a sovereign act? The serpents predation on affective lives, the feelings for which OHaras poem is an elegy, is therefore a necessary harm, a warning not to let past lives calcify around the martyrdom of a love. The self cannot coagulate at the close of this poem, since doing so is to lose the capability of movement, and since to move is to love, solidification must be avoided. Hence the willed forgetting of that one love: And yet I have forgotten my loves, and chiefly that one, the cancerous statue which my body could no longer contain, against my will against my love become art, I could not change it into history and so remember it, and I have lost what is always and everywhere present, the scene of my selves, the occasion of these ruses, which I myself and singly must now kill and save the serpent in their midst. (CP, 257) The cancerous statue of a past love as it is becoming reified inside the body of the self is comparable to the ruins ornament of Valry. OHaras ersatz hankering after the Roman copies (CP, 254) of Greek statuary recalls his frequent play around Prometheus and Pygmalian, and returns us to the Medusan stare of the first section. Valrys sense of doomed cultural empires (which I footnote later with a consideration of his The Crisis of the Mind essay) matches well OHaras more laconic take; for OHara there are erotic thrills in ancient effigies. What is the cancerous / statue, then, but a parodic relic of its original love? The cancerous / statue which my body could no longer contain echoes the following passage: Dlicieux linceuls, mon dsordre tide, Couche o je me rpands, minterroge et ma cde, O jallai de mon coeur noyer les battements, Presque tombeau vivant dans mes appartements, Qui respire, et sur qui lternit scoute,

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Place pleine de moi qui mavez prise toute, forme de ma forme et la creuse chaleur Que mes retours sur moi reconnaissaient la leur, Voici que tant dorgueil qui dans vos plis se plonge la fin se mlange aux bassesses du songe! Dans vos nappes, o lisse elle imitait sa mort Lidole malgr soi se dispose et sendort, Lasse femme absolue, et les yeux dans ses larmes, Quand, de ses secrets nus les antres et les charmes, Et ce reste damour qui se gardait le corps Corrompirent sa perte et ses mortels accords. (Poems, 100-102) Shrouds delectable, warm disarray, Couch where I spread, question, yield to myself, Where I set out to drown my beating heart, Living tomb almost within my dwelling, Breathing, on which eternity is conscious, Shape that is filled by me and takes me whole, Oh, form of my form, and hollow warmth Which my returning senses knew as theirs, Now all the pride that plunges in your folds Is confused in the end with the low shallows of dreams! In your sheets where smooth she simulated Her death, the reluctant idol lies drowsing, Weary, absolute woman, eyes sunk in her tears, Since the grottoes and charms of her naked secrets And that relic of love which possessed her body Undid her ruin, and her mortal pact. (Poems, 101-3) That tombeau vivant (living tomb), the forme de ma forme (form of my form) is the reste damour qui se gardait le corps (relic of love which possessed her body/the ruin of love kept in the body: this is the cancerous / statue which accretes inside the person memorializing the past. This is the incremental death of sacrificing life to past love. The secrets nus les antres et les charmes (charms of her naked secrets). Valery suggests: Those who know how to read me will read an autobiography in the form,[...] for the substance matters little it was from language that 96 I started. Valrys La Jeune Parque ends with a description of
96

Quoted in Mackay, The Universal Self, 154.

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the youngest fate setting herself against the wind as the wind raises the sea, a passage which echoes both the close of Le Cimetire Marin and, bathetically, OHaras To Hell with It. In La Jeune Parque we read: Si lme intense souffle, et renfle furibonde Londe abrupte sur londe abattue, et si londe Au cap tonne, immolant un monstre de candeur, Et vient des hautes mers vomir la profondeur Sur ce roc, do jaillit jusque vers mes penses Un blouissement dtincelles glaces, Et sur toute ma peau que morde lpre veil, Alors, malgr moi-mme, il le faut, Soleil, Que jadore mon coeur o tu viens connatre, Doux et puissant retour du dlice de natre, Feu vers qui se soulve une vierge de sang Sous les espces dor dun sein reconnaissant! (Poems, 102-4) If the intense soul snuffs and furious swells The sheer on the shattered wave, and if the headland Breaker thunders, immolating a snowy monster Come from the open sea to vomit the deeps Over this rock, whence leaps to my very thought A dazzling burst of icy sparks, and over All my skin, stung awake by the harsh shock, Then, even against my will, I must, oh Sun, Worship this heart where you seek to know yourself, Strong, sweet renewal of births own ecstasy, Fire to which a virgin of blood uplifts herself Beneath the gold coinage of a grateful breast! (Poems, 103-5) Note the trapped malgr moi-mme (against my will or in spite of) which is placed on the right hand side of the page by OHara: against my will against my love

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Valrys description of a re-birth by the side of the sea does locate the drama in a similar place to that of In Memory. In his brilliant essay, Dream and the Unconscious, Malcolm Bowie reads the conclusion to this poem as follows: Violent self-wounding and tender self-giving mark out the extreme emotional horizons of an interiority that has become vast and many-mansioned. In the course of the monologue, the Parque has become a working model of the natural world, a theatre in which its creative and destructive energies conduct their mighty battle. The new dilated human selfhood upon which the poem ends brings the speaker to the threshold of the nondifferentiation from which she departed, but with this difference: that self-loss is now chosen rather than 97 enforced, an opportunity rather than a limitation. The autonomy, the agency, to choose self-loss is the Parques final ecstatic act. Bowies essay captures the intensity of the sacrifice, but discloses in it not simply the dynamic by which rebirth follows the trauma of a wound, but how that wounding is a mark of pleasure, a pleasurable violence - a goad, a bite, a rupture - from which the benefits of self-knowledge are expected to flow referring to the heavy wound, the subtle bite and the young hurt. Bowie writes: The poems larger sense of dramatic outcome is perpetually being teased by an always precocious desire to have done, to receive now rather than at some appointed later time its 98 lumineuse rupture. Paul Gifford describes Valrys conception of the person as the sum of the contingent qualities pre-defining an individual in 99 short, the negated Other. Against this Other moves the pure Self, the identifier-liberator: the function placing our true identity elsewhere-and-beyond in the very act of recognising and rejecting all particularity; it restores to selfhood a character of

97

Malcolm Bowie, Dream and the Unconscious, in Reading Paul Valry: Universe in Mind, ed. Paul Gifford, associate ed. Brian Stimpson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 27. 98 Bowie, Dream and Unconscious, 272. 99 Paul Gifford, Self and Other: Valrys lost object of desire, in Reading Paul Valry, 284.

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free potentiality, open dynamism, human transcendence. We can see in that construction an agon between viperine, Medusan multiplicity and serpentine singularity, a contest between contingent (and therefore multiple) memorial selves and the autonomy of the singular. Gifford cites Valrys claim that man communicates with himself, by the same means he has for communicating with the other / Consciousness needs a fictive other 101 an exteriority it develops only in developing that alterity. That dynamic alterity is born of the wounding described above. Whiting argues: The serpent and its bite symbolize here the sexual nature of the Parque as well as her conscious awareness of herself, and not evil or awareness of good and evil. She is sinueuse (l. 35), because she contains this serpent within 102 herself. According to Paul Gifford the phantasmatic Medusa had plagued Valrys consciousness since he was twenty-one. The Medusa alerted Valry to the secret presence and disruptive power of psycho-sexual eros, experienced as Another within. This Other within is said to emerge out of the cavity or quick of a grievous wound. For Gifford it is clear that the wound is, structurally, that of the selfs own ddoublement and inner division. The mutation involved in the Parques awakening has torn her away fatefully and against the deepest gravitation of the heart from a state of unitary being-in-the-world, which is nostalgically celebrated in the hymn to the lost paradise of the Harmonieuse 103 MOI. In Memory of My Feelings, too, develops according to a dynamic between its wounds, the memories, particularly of love and of the dead, the dead hunting the living ( CP, 253). The sense of an internally antagonistic split can all be related to Valry s earlier inspiration. This section of my essay has, therefore, taken some of the most astute comments about Valrys poem and stated explicitly, or implied, their value when approaching OHaras poem. How, then, is OHaras poem so substantially different from that of Valry? Theres something so overwrought in Valrys poem, and OHaras variety of speeds, his bathetic collapses and visceral charms, play out the drama, not emptily as farce but
100 101

100

Gifford, Self and Other, 284. Gifford, Self and Other, 295. 102 Whiting, Paul Valry, 26. 103 Gifford, Self and Other: Valrys lost object of desire, 281-2.

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candidly as farce. Its agonism is not lessened by its hilarity, but instead OHara demonstrates how that contestation is not a source of self-aggrandizement. It is still possible to be a bore, even if your sense of self is riven with its contradictions. For Valry the erotic seems serious, misogynistic, and a burden; these qualities infuse the contestatory selfhood he represents in his poems. OHara is not only much funnier, but understands implicitly how moving humour is, and how evasive: humour does not act to cancel the agonism described, but is a strategy of the agonism, repressing painful truths in acerbic asides, deflating the pretensions to grandiloquence, energizing the perspicacity of Valrys thoughtfulness with the speed and grace of insight. What is the portrait of a mind worth if it imagines its cognitive prosody to be elaborative without the stumbles, leaps and falls of humour, always too quick for the ponderousness of 104 yearning. I am conscious of the predominantly de-politicized reading I have so far offered. Here, Lytle Shaw s work is crucial. According to Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin and Emmett Gossen, Valrys research at the time of writing La Jeune Paque revolved around, in Valrys note, the astounding fact of finding onese lf, of 105 understanding oneself, of saying to oneself almost everything. By referring back to the OHaras recitation of the variety of mock subjects in In Memory of My Feelings, the passage beginning, I am a Hittite in love with a horse ( CP, 256), as a nod to Rimbaud, we can imagine OHara to be undertaking a Valryesque search for self in the midst of a Rimbaudian attack. The relation of self to multitude is key to the modernist lyric I; the by now familiar phrase JE est autre and A Season in Hell inspires the fourth part of 106 In Memory and its catalogue of sordid identifications:

104 105

See Personism, CP, 498. Quoted in Duchesne-Guillemin and Gossen, Introduction to La Jeune Parque, 97. 106 The poem as published incorporated an earlier piece, dated in manuscript from June 17, 1955, which includes a similar catalogue. It lacks the prosodic lan of the final poem, whilst promoting by repetition the line what land is this, so free? (CP, 538)

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I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist in which a face appears and it is another face of blonde I am a baboon eating a banana (CP, 256) Perloff describes the catalogue of assumed identities as a series of ecstatic identifications in which the poet is able to get outside himself and act in various desirable or comically absurd and 107 hyperbolic roles. As Shaw notes, the task of living as variously as possible produces a catalogue of freedoms both violent and imperial. Shaw draws attention to Rimbauds bad blood section of A Season in Hell, in which the lyric speaker identifies himself with barbarians and Africans to appropriate the anti-Communard 108 rhetoric of associating the workers with both. Shaw adds, perceptively: And yet if OHaras poem, too, makes links between metropolis and periphery, Rimbauds concerns do not map neatly onto U.S. and world political conditions of 1956: the new scene is not one of opening up but rather of transferring colonial properties; and this operation is taking place not under the (differently hypocritical) French humanist rhetoric in which libert is checked by galit and fraternit but rather within the particular American rhetoric of singular and infinite freedom. Living as variously as possible thus becomes in the world of a Hittite in love with a horse, a sprained ass hole, and a doctor eating a child a kind of monstrosity (variously funny and not) in which the freedoms of our democracy (256) get turned inside out through an existence of emphasis (254) that produces 109 anything but humanism
107 108

Perloff, Watchman, 212. Shaw, Poetics of Coterie, 197. 109 Shaw is also spot on in transcribing the III Statement of W.H. Audens queer text The Orators: One charms by thickness of wrist; one by variety of positions; one has a beautiful skin, one a fascinating smell. One has prominent eyes, is bold at accosting. One has water sense; he can dive like a swallow without using his hands. One is obeyed

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It is a critique we have to take seriously, that OHaras neo-colonial historical moment might be felt in the poems touristic sense of epic history, its use of kitsch: lying in an oasis one day, / playing catch with coconuts, they suddenly smell oil.

4. ORNATE POETICS: MEMORY IN IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS This section is a digression on my broader project of writing on OHara. It does, however, have a purpose within the framework of these commentaries, which is to describe OHaras poetics and prosody as ornate, driven by elaboration and variety. I am arguing more specifically that the elegy for feeling which is In Memory of My Feelings is a version of the more consistently or essentially ornate poetic art of Paul Valry, and that OHaras poem is in its way a gloss or commentary on Valrys serpentine work. That Valry described La Jeune Parque as an embellishment of ordre, and commented, there is nothing so valuable for getting ones ideas clear as to write a long and obscure poem feeds my interpretation of his ornate poetics: rather than decide upon an idea or a subject matter to be represented in poetry, his poem is an elaboration of its own central obscurity, an unfurling of an unknown into clarity by the persistence of an ornate prosody of 110 sensibility. The ornate fetishizes involution, and OHaras poem takes the involuted complexity of Valrys poetics and turns it
by dogs, one can bring down snipe on the wing. One can do cart wheels before theatre queues; one can slip through a narrow ring. One with a violin can conjure up images of running water; one is skilful at improvising a fugue; the bowel tremors at the pedal-entry. One amuses by pursing his lips; or can imitate the neigh of a randy stallion. One casts metal in black sand; one wipes the eccentrics of a great engine with cotton waste. One jumps out of windows for profit. One makes leather instruments of torture for titled masochists; one makes ink for his son out of oak galls and rusty nails (62). One scene in particular will reverberate, that of the One [who] jumps out of windows for profit. In his biography of OHara, Gooch tells of the suicide of a man who jumped from the window of the YMCA, OHara writing in In Memory, sardonically, of an eventful trip (CP, 255). 110 Valry quoted in James R. Lawler, Notes and Commentaries, in The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, 448.

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inside-out. OHaras poetry tends to prefer (although his work is so various any statements on a prosodic signature are impossible) the energy of variety, which Ill mention below as within the domain of ornament, but is still compelled by the ornate poetics of elaboration; think of the flow of Having a Coke with You or In Favor of Ones Time for examples. To Hell with It continues the prosodic ornateness of In Memory, and places it within an alternative circular elegiac formalism: the dead-stop, full stop, To Hell with It[...] And mean it. To Hell with It marks the conflict between the ornate and the finite. The substantial length of this digression is, I hope, justified by the necessity to understand the term ornate as inseparable from the content of the aesthetic work, rather than as a merely decorative appendage or ornament, not so much a difficult thing to do conceptually, but due to the long history of associating the ornate with the ornamental as (in a modernist tradition) unnecessary, extraneous, not integral. The ornamental, inseparable from the ornate, is not merely a term for an added, decorative elaboration; its elaborative poetics are included within the form of the artwork, or within the form of a figure within an artwork (a figure of rhetoric, or the representation of a person). The ornate therefore problematizes distinctions of form and content, form remaining incapable of offering sanctuary against the accidents and emergencies of sentiment. The ornate is a way of thinking about movement, delight, and grace. The broader intention of my project on Frank OHara is to recuperate a critical vocabulary for the analysis of his poetry that can be particularly sensitive to the comparison of the various art forms. The terms that dominate such a discussion, notably Ut Pictura Poesis and ekphrasis are too burdened to be sufficiently flexible, the first because of its long history of misinterpretation since Horace, the second because it requires a common subject with which to engage, even if one work provides that subject for the other medium. In some ways these are competing traditions; the first presumes formal comparison is possible, the second that comparison by content is more appropriate. I want a critical vocabulary which can offer sensitive comparative readings whilst also being true to matters of form in different mediums; thus, I want to be able to compare a work of dance by Balanchine with a poem by OHara in which the forms of both share some qualities, and yet the limits of the formal comparison are held in view. I am,

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therefore, taking into my readings of OHara a critical vocabulary derived from the language of art of the Renaissance, and in particular that language which surrounded Michelangelo, both because he was reported to use such terminology, and because the terminology was used to describe his work. This language developed out of traditions of rhetoric, though much of it by the time of Michelangelo is differentiated, subtly, from those rhetorical modes. Much of my work here relies on David Summers extraordinary Michelangelo and the Language of Art, both as a foundational text for my own theorizations of comparative reading, and in this section of my essay, which largely summarizes and restates relevant ideas from his book. This language of art occurs at a moment when its usage appears transgressive, in particular that rhetorical and aesthetic terms move between art mediums. This language is sufficiently developed that it can sustain an aesthetic, yet remains substantially untheorised, and most apt to the sub theoretical tradition, close to practice, in its various forms stemming from one idea, the equation of painting and poetry in point of license, an idea that took shape on a broad front in the late 111 Middle Ages. Ill come back to that significant point of license shortly. Previously I described In Memory of My Feelings according to the figura serpentinata, the serpentine twisting of figuration that, for Michelangelo, evoked a living quality in his 112 artworks. Based on the dynamics of the contrapposto, of antithetical forces out of balance, the figura serpentinata provided a model for both the subject and the form of OHaras poem, and the ambivalent turn backwards and forwards between forms, tropes, symbols and subjects. I want, now, to develop another term, apt to help wheedle out from these poems more of their qualities, and that is ornatus, given in two forms that are largely interchangeable (perhaps surprisingly): the ornate and ornament. The terms ornate and ornament are hardly the most popular terms for serious discussion of the serious arts of modernism but, for Summers, we cannot understand Renaissance art without understanding their role, since the ornate was one of the ways in
111 112

Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 4. Sam Ladkin, And now it is the serpents turn: The Rhetoric of the Figura Serpentinata in Frank OHaras In Memory of My Feelings, (unpublished).

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which artistic freedom or license was defended, and one of the methods by which movement and vivacity was made apparent. If were going to understand the arts of modernism and latemodernism as alternatives to realism as a genre, then understanding ornament as an inherent property of art making might prove helpful. Although we might assume the Renaissance to be the withdrawal of ornament on behalf of the arts of perspective, mimesis, realism and representation, to do so would be a mistake. The ornate is not extrinsic to figuration, for example, but intrinsic, and its role (as the ornamental) as extemporizing and embellishing is a function of its manner, which is to move. Ornate stems from Latin ornatus meaning adorned, and relates etymologically to ordo meaning order, where order, at least at the time of Michelangelo, means any or all of the following: the universal hierarchy created by God; the relation of the parts of the celestial spheres as echoed in the orders of architecture and the dimensions of the human body; and the procedure or order moving from beginning to end, that is as an ontological 113 principle. It is no wonder, therefore, that it becomes a generative term in Valrys craft. Ornament, as we will see, is concerned with such orders. Its definition at the time of Michelangelo is vexed since each of the terms of value of artworks depends upon and in turn supports a series of other terms: furia, grazia, motus, viva. According to Hellmut Wohl, ornato means ornate or ornateness, and can refer to polish, embellishment, and refinement, whether in the style of a painting or of an oration, or even be synonymous with beauty; it might imply grace, refinement, sophistication, opulence or idealization away from 114 the natural. With classicism and realism it was one of three principles required for style during the Renaissance, and was 115 first among them. Wohl describes its significance for artists of the time as greater than that of perspective; against the notion that painting was seen as a window through which we look into an illusion of space, the Renaissance understood painting as an ornamented surface. For Vasari, ornato could be used to describe
113

These principles are derived by Summers from Vincenzo Dantis Trattato delle perfette proporzioni (Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 297-8). 114 Hellmut Wohl, The Aesthetics of Italian Renaissance Art: A Reconsideration of Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 2 and 5. 115 Wohl, Aesthetics, 2.

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anything naturally beautiful, whilst for Leon Battista Alberti ornamentum could refer to any subsidiary component of the 116 whole, and ornatus to that which offers delight and pleasure. Michelangelo (and, by my extension, OHara) was obsessed with the evocation, rather than the mere representation of life in his artworks, and Summers describes at length a deeply interwoven collection of terms that go to make up this liveliness, which itself must be understood as part of a Neoplatonic philosophy. Summers quotes Lommazos statement that the greatest grace and loveliness that a figure may have is that it seem to move itself; painters call this the furia of the figure, and we can unpick Michelangelos commitment to the evocation of movement as the soul and locus 117 of the art of painting. Motus (movement), furia (liveliness and motility) and ornatus were all aspects of artifice, in particular the artifice necessary to create vivacity (viva), and were related to poetry in their use of the fervid invention and exquisite 118 discourse; that is, their sense of freedom or imaginative license . The figura serpentinata, or its synonym vermiculatus were typically considered versions of extreme ornament; Summers describes vermiculate construction as a sophistic device, condemned by 119 classical writers, embraced with mixed feelings by Cicero. In other words, the vermiculate, the energetically ornamental, was persuasive in its formal deceptions, and therefore suspicious for the tradition of rhetoric, which knew of its power but feared its specious relation to truth or rightness. Ornatus was even more suspicious, however, since it transgressed the bounds of rhetoric. Embellishment was certainly crucial to the skills of the rhetorician, but ornateness was taken to be a manner of distinguishing between rhetoric and the higher art form of poetry. Ornate language exceeded rhetoric and became poetry. Embellishment was even more prized to the rhetorician than invention and disposition: Unlike rhetoric[...] poetry could speak entirely in terms of figured language, and it was more than anything else in figuration or diction that the personal style of a writer was thought to be evident. Ornament was universally
116 117

Wohl, Aesthetics, 54. Summers, Michelangelo, 72 and 74. 118 Summers, Michelangelo, 61. 119 Summers, Michelangelo, 94.

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associated with delectation, and its proper use was generally defined by the formula to instruct or convince 120 through delight. Ornament, which creates the experience of delectatio, was potentially dangerous since its charms of artifice were not necessarily expressive of truth; as Summers concludes, If poetry (or rhetoric, for that matter) was pure elocutio, then it was possible, by means of the artificial, to give the false (or the feigned) the 121 sensuous presence of truth. This is a pretty standard suspicion 122 of rhetoric in general, of course. Ornament and elocutio as sensuous surface explain the Platonic distinction between rhetorical and philosophical traditions of language use, and explain the difficulty as ever of cleaning language up of such improprieties. More important for Michelangelo was that delight could be the charge of liveliness in a work; in this his use of ornatus was poetic rather than rhetorical; it was underpinned by the truth of the poet, or artist, rather than manipulative of falsehoods. Above I cite the equation of painting and poetry in point of license. What does this mean? Summers divides into two traditions. The first, the Horatian tradition, requires the refusal to
120

Summers, Michelangelo, 43. An introduction to Figure, Scheme, Trope can be found in The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Alex Preminger and T.V.F. Brogan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 409-412. Trope is, according to Quintilian, the artificial alteration of a word or phrase from its proper meaning to another and a change in meaning or lang. from the ordinary and simple form (409). In this it is a part of figurative language. Figure and trope are both part of elocutio. 121 Summers, Michelangelo and the Langauge of Art, 43. For Aristotle, elocutio is the choice and arrangement of specific words and phrases as opposed to dispositio (arrangement of larger units of discourse such as exhortation, narration, peroration), and inventio (subjects, arguments, commonplaces). Both figures and tropes tend to be defined as divergent from normative language use. See The New Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 409-10. For more on selection, see Tom Jones, Poetic Language: Theory and Practice from the Renaissance to the Present (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 31-42, 148-160. 122 Its an argument taken on in positive terms by Charles Altieri as a way of overcoming of modernisms crisis over fundamental and transcendental truths. See, for example, his Why Stevens Must be Abstract, in Wallace Stevens: The Poetics of Modernism, ed. Albert Gelpi (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 86 -118.

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permit poetry, by means of the artificial, to give the false[...] the sensuous presence of truth. Poetry was, almost by definition, ornate, and its ornateness prevented it falling back into rhetoric. In the phrase synonymous with Horace, Ut Pictura Poesis, Horaces comparison is not between painting and rhetoric, but painting and poetry. The tradition associated most closely with Horace struggles, thereafter, (via turns to truth or decorum, for example) to limit the forms of invention, the freedoms of artifice, available to the poet or artist. Summers quotes the Ars poetica pictoribus atque poetis / quidlibet audendi semper fuit aequa potestas; painting and poetry are alike at a shared point of license, of invention, and therefore the two traditions are based on the response to this license, this freedom of artifice. For Horace a restraint on such license is necessary; form must be subjected to content, fantasy to truth. Summers labels the second, and opposed tradition, sophistic, and it is described as a Florentine tradition with Petrarch as a foundational figure, and Michelangelo perhaps its greatest exponent. It is to this tradition that I relate OHara: [P]ure artifice, fantastic invention and conspicuous brilliance of execution were all justifiable and critically defensible. In terms of audience its aims were those of epideictic, aimed at persons who understood art and the difficulties of virtuosity. As Gorgias himself is supposed to have written, He who practices deception is more just than he who does not, and he who has yielded to 123 deception is wiser than he who has not. For Pino, and for Michelangelo, painting was also like poetry, this time in making what is not, that is in the power of i ts fantasy, its license, rather than in the decision to restrain the imagination of this mutual power. The most ornate language becomes poetry, and poetry includes forms of knowing. Alberti, who certainly fits into the more buttoned up aesthetics of Horace, struggled to maintain restrictions on the elaboration of line, ornatus, which he associated with the Florentine tradition, of which Michelangelo was the star. Where the Horatian tradition feared the possible uses of deception,

123

Summers, Michelangelo, 18.

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the tradition of Michelangelo, as it stemmed from Leonardo, was 124 the evocation of animacy: When Leonardo wrote that the artist must both observe the serpentizing of figures and see to it that they were not wooden, he was writing not about the description of movement, but about grazia e variet, significant as movement, the manifestly poetic transformation of the figura inculta, the artificial enlivening of which was, as Lomazzo defined it, the purpose of the figura serpentinata. The ideal of sinuous and continuous movement as an aesthetic ideal thus passed from two into three dimensions to become, both in the treatment of line and in the composition of the forms it bounded, one of the 125 animating principles of Italian Renaissance art. We can see this in twentieth century terms as an attack on representation on behalf of an alternative aesthetics of evocation. For Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the Neoplatonic tradition, delectatio, as generated by ornament, is delight, an experience of the divine; delight was access to the grace of God. Such grazia e variet, I argue, can be seen not only in the art of Michelangelo and Renaissance mannerism, but in a secular form in the poetry of OHara. Again, it is subject matter and form: Grace / to be born and live as variously as possible. The conception / of the masque barely suggests the sordid identifications. For OHara it was a quality shared between the artforms he loved, in poetry, music, film and, perhaps most emphatically, dance. And it is this sense of the ornate that charges the work of Valry, its attempt to make the formal properties of the verse sinuous and animate until the poem

124

For Leonardo the identification of painting and poetry bore directly upon an innovative method of pictorial composition. Now have you ever thought, Leonardo asks, about how poets compose their verse? They do not trouble to trace beautiful letters, nor do they mind crossing out several lines so as to make them better. At this point he turns to the figure. So, painter, rough out the arrangement of the limbs of your figures and first attend to the movements appropriate to the mental state of the creatures that make up your picture rather than to the beauty and perfection of their parts (Summers, Michelangelo, 74). 125 Summers, Michelangelo, 94.

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writes itself, not as representation of a subject, but as the modulation of ideas and selfhood. We can see the distinction between the two traditions according to the location in which their truths reside. For Horace the fantastical must be limited in order not to stray too far from truth-telling, and therefore spare the audience deception. For Petrarch, since he is fated to be a poet (in a self-definition from artisan to genius repeated by Michelangelo), the grace of his poetry is held by the poet as poet, and poetry itself ornaments the world: Not only does the god inspire him, but God ordains him; and the precious fruit of his ordination is his poetry, which ornaments the world and mens lives. The inherent difficulty of the poets task lies in this, that whereas in the other arts one may attain his goal through sheer toil and study, it is far otherwise with the art of poetry, in which nothing can be accomplished unless a certain inner and divinely given energy is infused in the 126 poets spirit. The vivacity of the poet makes the vivacity of the poets art. The life of the artwork, a display of the grace of sprezzatura, is created by the grace of the artist in response to another key challenge, difficult (difficulty), above expressed within the tradition of arguments over the paragone. In Petrarchs words: You delight in brush and colors, both the worth and art of which please, together with variety and novel arrangement (curiosa disparsio). So the living gestures of the lifeless, and the movement of unmoving images, figures bursting forth from their places [that is, in relief], and features of countenances so live that you expect voices to break forth at any moment; and there is danger in this, because it is the greatest lure of ingenium; whereas the bumpkin (agrestis) passes by with but little amazement (stupore), there he of ingenium lingers, sighing 127 and reverent.

126 127

Summers, quoting Petrarch, Michelangelo, 34. Quoted by Summers, Michelangelo, 47.

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We can see how important was the evocation of movement for poetry, as well as for the visual arts. Ornatus in both painting and poetry conveyed this movement. For Leonardo the painter should follow the inventions of poets and rough out the arrangement of the limbs of your figures and first attend to the movements appropriate to the mental state of the creatures that make up your 128 picture rather than to the beauty and perfection of their parts. Rather than the artwork representing the movement of the body, the artwork was to evoke the agency of that movement. We can see in Michelangelos work movement was relayed by ornatus, became graceful, and delightful, in Michelangelo s drawings for the resurrection, where pure grace of upward movement is explored to a spiritual purpose not found elsewhere in Renaissance art, this restless seeking after perfect movement in consummately resolved 129 variety again makes its appearance. Movement charged by contrapposto, enlivened by variety, was, after the theory of Aristotle, a condition of axial disequilibrium of parts of the body; such qualities of the ornate are therefore tied into figuration, rather than 130 being supplemental to it. Disequilibrium, being off-balance, creates movement.
128 129

Summers, Michelangelo, 74 Summers, Michelangelo, 76. 130 Summers, Michelangelo, 76. Summers describes the competing traditions as exemplified by Horace on the one hand, and the Florentine tradition of Michelangelo, Dante and Petrarch, derived from studies of Homer and Vergil. Dio Chrysostom commends Homer from being exceedingly bold and not to be censured, praising his frankness and freedom of language: he did not choose just one variety of diction, but mingled together every Hellenic dialect[...] and not only the languages of his own day but also those of former generations[...] and he also used many barbarian words as well, sparing none that he believed to have in it anything of charm of vividness. (Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 244). This evidence would have been of interest to Poliziano when he came to consider Homer and Vergil, Summers commented that these conventions have the deepest implications for Michelangelo (244). Poliziano writes: Thus in the poetry of Homer we gaze upon examples of all the virtues and all of the vices, and we see the origins of all the sciences, and the images and likenesses of all that concerns mankind (245). This is a tradition of variety, heterodoxy, contrast, and license. The following is a description of Vergils style by Macrobius, emphasizing his use of all these varied styles (244): Vergils language is perfectly adapted to every kind of character, being now concise, now copious, now dry, now ornate,

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For Michelangelo, ornament becomes a quality of overcoming difficult, that is the virtue made of executing difficult works with grace. Again, the term is underpinned by Neoplatonic thought, since the difficult of the human figure became a sign of 131 the ontological stature of the human figure. For the art of Michelangelo it was representation of the human figure in movement, and the evocation of that movement as a living quality, that was, above all, his obsession. The movement of figures, their liveliness, known as energia, was for Quintilian the highest 132 attainment of rhetorical skill, and was classed as an ornament. Ornament is therefore anything but extraneous: Contrary to modern rhetorical tastes, it is not simply statement that is most fruitful; ornament rather restores the life lost in the transformation to words, it makes the subject seem to live. Leonardo, discussing variet of movement wrote that In these precepts of painting an inquiry is made as to the best way of persuading of the nature of movement, as the orators persuade by words. The goal was not so much to represent life, but to give forms the brightness and presence of life. This imparting of virtual life was achieved by art, through 133 ornament, artifice and license. So, Ive described a loop, working through some of the taxonomy of Michelangelo as related by Summers to demonstrate how ornatus connects to a host of dependent terms. The common element, or the one I find most significant, is this sense of a deeply attentive and studied art-making placed in the service of a vivacity as an excess, as something irrecuperable to representational models of aesthetics. Many of these terms are ways of pointing to what cannot be adequately described, the liveliness squandered by dogmatically formalist works and theories. Prosody works, or can work, as ornament. Rather than describe the formal embellishment of the poems content, prosody can name an inner animacy,

and now a combination of all these qualities, sometimes flowing smoothly, or at other times raging like a torrent (245). 131 Summers, Michelangelo, 4. 132 See Summers, Michelangelo, 96. 133 Summers, Michelangelo, 96.

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driven, for example, by the sinuousness and variousness of the antagonistic energy of contrapposto, that which is out of equilibrium. Ornament cannot survive on its own; it needs to be the motility, the self-movement of something, and therefore this is not pure formalism. This is not the final bonding of form and content, of prosody and language, but their dialectical energy. In the case of OHaras poems, I want to reflect on his evocation of liveliness and memory (In Memory), and turn to the dead stop (To Hell with It). Without restating what is by now a common move, I understand the pleasure principle and death drive (thanatos) as the energizing contrapposto of these works, death calcifying life in In Memory, life meaning it, even in the act of its own renunciation, in To Hell with It. I want to build a bridge between the ornate or ornamental poetics described above and the anti-memorializing elegy which is In Memory of My Feelings; that bridge is the term ductus. Mary Carruthers in The Craft of Thought asks readers to conceive of memory not only as rote, the ability to reproduce something[] but as the matrix of a reminiscing cogitation, shuffling and collating things stored in a random-access memory scheme, or set of schemes a memory architecture and a library built up during ones lifetime with the express intention that it be 134 used inventively. That inventively is crucial. The five-fold parts of rhetoric, read as follows (and they move hierarchically down from left to right), Invention, Disposition, Style, Memory, 135 Delivery. The art of memory could include memoria verborum, something like rote learning, a lowly task for children or slaves, whereas memoria rerum was the task that produced wisdom and 136 built character, and could help to perfect one s soul. The art of memory which is meditation, rather than rote learning, is a craft of 137 thinking. Such a definition places memory into an aesthetics, a sense of formal experimentation with the process of recovery: 138 memory is most usefully thought of as a compositional art.. Invention (and Carruthers understands this development to have
134

Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, rhetoric, and the making of images, 400-1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 4. 135 Carruthers, Craft, 7. 136 Carruthers, Craft, 30-1. 137 Carruthers, Craft, 4. 138 Carruthers, Craft, 9.

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occurred during the fourth-century) becomes not the recall of scripture but the creative way in which the mind moves through the memory of scripture, its meditative routes; the term for the way 139 in which one travels through memories was called the ductus. This is a cognitive model of the paths or ways of memory; the composition of memories is the composition of the work, and its flow. The movement within and through a works various parts is the ductus: Indeed, ductus insists upon movement, the conduct of a 140 thinking mind on its way through a composition. We can begin to rethink In Memory of My Feelings according to the ductus, the way in which its composition flows and moves by a complex set of personal and historical associations. OHaras love of movement (to move is to love) over statuary encourages such a reading, but there is another reason to bring in this further concept of the ductus, and that is the relation of ductus to ornament. The ornamental composition of ideas and of language are those tropes by which the associational play of the mind composes its ductus through the memory. Carruthers writes: An essential first step of invention is thus recollective cogitation. For the process of meaning-making to begin at all, ones memory must be hooked up and hooked in to the associational play of the mind at work. That is the essential function of any ornament, and it explains why many of the basic features of the ornaments are also elementary principles of mnemonics: surprise and strangeness (for example, metaphora, metonymy, allegoria, oxymoron, and, in art, grotesquery), exaggeration (hyperbole and litotes), orderliness and pattern (chiasmus, tropes of repetition, various rhythmic and rhyming patterns), brevity (ellipsis, epitome, synechdoche, and other types of abbreviation) and copiousness (all tropes of amplification), similarity (similitude), opposition (paradox and antithesis) and contrast (tropes of irony). All of these characteristics are essential for making mnemonymically powerful 141 associations.
139 140

Carruthers, Craft, 61. Carruthers, Craft, 77. 141 Carruthers, Craft, 117.

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That is, the techniques of ornate or ornamental language are inventive movements through the memory, understood in cognitive terms, rather than simply as a storehouse for information. Ornament makes things stand-out within the similar crafts of memory and literary invention. Sections 2 and 4 are perhaps most open to analysis in the light of their ornaments, and the way in which OHaras meditation on his memory moves, its ductus. Think, for example, of the way Section 2 opens with The dead hunting the living, and memories of family multiplying by kin: My father, my uncle, my grand-uncle and the several aunts. My / grand-aunt dying for me, like a talisman, in the war / before I had even gone to Borneo; and we are off, from family into memories 142 of OHaras own naval wartime experience. The ductus through memory flickers between years: My 10 my 19, / my 9, and the several years. My 12 years since they all died, philosophically speaking. These elisions, glossed over or repressed gaps in the landscape end twelve years back, which would be, given OHara was writing In Memory around what he thought was his thirtieth birthday, his eighteenth birthday. Moving away is then tied to a shift into humanism and the Arabian inspired Renaissance, presumably with the sexual overtones of such a cultural history. Family history splices with epic and colonial history, the Arabian ideas, presumably mathematical, which the Marines recite, as they watch the deaths of their enemies in war, drowning: the trying desperately to count them as they die. But who will stay to be these numbers 143 when all the lights are dead?
142

Gooch traces this grand aunt to his Great-Aunt Elizabeth Donahue Reid, known as Lizzie; see City Poet, 33-4. I am reminded of the following quotation from Valry: Les morts nont plus que les vivants pour ressource... il est juste et digne de nous quils soient pieusement accueillis dans nos mmoires et quils boivent un peu de vie dans nos paroles, translated as: The only resource of the dead is the living... it is just and worthy of us that they should be piously welcomed into our memories and that they should drink a little life in our words. Quoted in Suzanne Nash, Other voices: intertextuality and the art of pure poetry, in Reading Paul Valry, 188 and 197. 143 On OHaras service on the U.S.S. Nicholas from April 1945, situated off the eastern coast of Borneo, and participating as cover for a land operation by Australian forces (the invasion of the Australians), see

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The memories of the dead are hunting OHara, and the trauma of this wartime experience has been too casually referenced in the past. The third section emphasises epic history, and its relationships to the war for oil in the Middle East exacerbated by World War II. The fourth section shifts from echoes of Whitman and his earlier erotics of war (the ardent lover of history going down on a taut spear off grass, taking time to admire this flag) into memories of Chicago, where Jane Freilicher heard a man committing suicide by jumping from a window, back to wartime memories, the German prisoners on the Prinz Eugen being 144 painted purple by antiseptics. The purpose of this brief exposition is simply to gesture towards OHaras meditative ductus, the way a coherent historical timeline is sacrificed for the back and forward of associations, each periodically returning to one or several deaths which, typically, is underplayed within the hectic ornament of the poem. The list of meditative tropes offered by Carruthers becomes more or less coterminous with the devices of literary language, and I could now go back through In Memory glossing the prolific use of surprise, exaggeration, repetition, antithesis, etc. More importantly, we can consider the following cognitive way-finding
Gooch, City Poet, 85; and Lament & Chastisement, Early Writings, 112131. The ship also transferred Japanese emissaries prior to their formal surrender (Gooch, City Poet, 88). I suspect one of the prompts for the fusion of colonial and intellectual readings of empire is the following, from Valry: We had long heard tell of whole worlds that had vanished, of empires sunk without a trace, gone down with all their men and all their machines into the unexplorable depths of the centuries, with their gods and their laws, their academies and their sciences pure and applied, their grammars and their dictionaries, their Classics, their Romantics, and their Symbolists, their critics and the critics of their critics. We were aware that the visible earth is made of ashes, and that ashes signify something. Through the obscure depths of history we could make out the phantoms of great ships laden with riches and intellect; we could not count them. But the disasters that had sent them down were, after all, none of our affair. (Valry, The Crisis of the Mind, 94). Including the loss of a warship alongside the downfall of empires, Valry writes: But France, England, Russia these too would be beautiful names. Lusitania, too, is a beautiful name. And we see now that they abyss of history is deep enough to hold us all. We are aware that a civilization has the same fragility as a life (94). 144 See Jos M. Rico, The Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen, KBismarck, accessed January 4, 2011, http://www.kbismarck.com/prinzeugen.html.

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function[s] in rhetorical ductus of three important stylistic ornaments: enargeia (bringing-before-the-eyes), paranomasia 145 (punning), and allegoria (difficulty). The confusion between enargeia and energia (and the variations of spelling) is considerable, though the two terms have different histories. Energia can be used to describe the movement, the energy, of a particular figure (including the ornamental energy of a figure), whereas enargeia describes an alternative kind of vividness. Zanker paraphrases Dionysius as follows: Enargeia is the stylistic effect in which appeal is made to the senses of the listener and attendant circumstances are described in such a way that the 146 listener will be turned into an eyewitness[...] Enargeia therefore describes the way in which language (typically) can make something appear to the eye, vividly, sensuously, rather than merely represent it. The two terms do, however, appear to have been conflated at various points in their usage, so it s hard to unpick the following claims from Carruthers, that for Quintilian enargeia seems the basic ornament, the ornament that subsumes 147 most of the others, and from Summers, that for Quintilian energia was the highest attainment of rhetorical skill and classed 148 it as an ornament. My attention is drawn to enargeia to distinguish between language as the description of life, of movement, of spontaneity, of decision-making, and the way in which the evocation of those features might be alternative, or even competing modes, and how, synonymous with ornament, energia describes the lively movement of the figure, both the figures and subject matter within the text or picture, the movement, the ductus, of the mind moving through memory, and the movement of the mind through the text.
145

Carruthers, Craft, 117-8. Allegoria here does not mean the understanding of parallel narrative fictions, as in its contemporary usage, but refers, as Carruthers writes, to the verbal ornament which the rhetoricians called allegoria (the gems spoken of by Peter Chrysologus, the obscurities praised by Augustine, which are set in varieties of other, non-allegorical language) and the specifically late-classical exegetical method, deriving from Origen and others, of understanding an entire narrative fiction allegorically (125). 146 G. Zanker, Enargeia in the Ancient Criticism of Poetry, Rheinisches Museum fr Philologie Neue Folge 124.3/4 (1981): 297. 147 Carruthers, Craft, 130. 148 Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art, 96.

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And yet I have forgotten my loves, and chiefly that one, the cancerous statue which my body could no longer contain, against my will against my love become art, I could not change it into history and so remember it, and I have lost what is always and everywhere present, the scene of my selves, the occasion of these ruses, which I myself and singly must now kill and save the serpent in their midst. Such ornamental energy is held in the patterning of prosody. What follows is one interpretation of the metrical effects that can be readily disputed, and OHara is hardly working from a metrical handbook of simple back and forth, stress and unstress. The strong iambic, And yet, pushed right, ends a pause to revoke the ambition of the preceding poem. The poem will conclude with heavy iambics, too, the four feet of the last line preceded, perhaps, by an implied silent foot. The penultimate line is iambic until that final spondee, must now kill with its decisive final strike, before the lingering withdrawal of the last line. It is as though these most traditional of metrical units frame a more various prosodic passage in order to demonstrate the nature of such conviction. With exceptions the section is largely in a varied, perhaps ternary meter, with stronger, tripled stresses reserved for a few key moments: against my will / against my love, translating the force of antagonism into the force of conviction with the metrical repetition must now kill. against my love is followed by become art, an anapest, before I could not change it into history / and so remember it, a fairly flattened prosaic couple of lines, denoting, perhaps the necessary change of prosaic memory by ornament into poetic knowledge. The ambivalence of history here, whether history and memory are opposed (I remember it because it has not become history) or companionable (I could not change it into history and therefore could not remember it, my forgotten loves) is perhaps the twist in this finale that most baffles me. Is this resistance necessary to the energia of the finale? My mind remains unresolved. The line I have forgotten my loves, arguably o pens with a pair of dactyls, with loves, isolated as a single stress by its

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comma, before the line continues, perhaps amphibrach, dactyl, dactyl. The variousness is beautifully handled in the line and I have lost what is always and everywhere, which plays on binary meters, reading iambic, iambic, before changing its cadence with a pyrrhic set up of the trochee, always, the time scale of always then varying with everywhere back within the iambic order. The trochaic of present leads into a pentameter line, the iamb the scene I find softening the stress on my to allow emphasis on selves in a trochee, the line ending with an iamb to trochee, which in its rhythm will be echoed by which I (iamb) myself (trochee) and singly must (iamb to iamb) allows the transition of seeming autonomy from selves above to Myself beneath, before the line ends on the spondee not kill. The prosody of the finale is capable of manipulating the speed of the reader, switching between iambic and trochaic rhythms within the cadence of a line, interposed with those striking triple beats, repeated three times. I want to repeat the first term in Carruthers description above, of the ornaments of memory, and here I hark back to Goodman too: surprise. The murderous conclusion to In Memory is a surprising conclusion, one which replicates the cunning strike of its serpentine prosodic model. The following quotation is from Paul Valrys article, With Reference to Adonis: All these people who create, half certain, half uncertain of their powers, feel two beings in them, one known and the other unknown, whose incessant intercourse and unexpected exchanges give birth in the end to a certain product. I do not know what I am going to do; yet my mind believes it knows itself; and I build on the knowledge, I count on it, it is what I call Myself. But I shall surprise myself; if I doubted it I should be nothing. I know that I shall be astonished by a certain thought that is going to come to me before long - and yet I ask myself for this surprise, I build on it and count on it as I count on my certainty. I hope for something unexpected which I designate. I need both my known and my 149 unknown.
149

Paul Valry, With Reference to Adonis, trans. by Louise Varse, in Selected Writings, 141-2.

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The unknown, the forgetting, the elegy to memory, requires the serpentine strike of the surprise, its vicious speed, the speed of the arrow that feels something (CP, 334). Surprise was a strategy for Valry, an ornament of his poetry. In Poetry and Abstract Thought, published in The Kenyon Review in 1954, an essay that it seems likely to have had some influence on OHaras 150 contemplation of abstraction in poetry, Valry writes: I sincerely feel that if every man were not able to live a number of other lives than his own, he would not be able to live his own 151 life. To what purpose is this multiplicity put? Surprise is a strategy for truth: I find impulses and naive images in them, crude products of my needs and personal experiences. My life itself is surprised, and this life must furnish me, if it can, my responses, for only in lifes reactions may there dwell 152 all the power and necessity of our truth.

5. COMMENTARY: TO HELL WITH IT To Hell with It can be glossed in a number of ways: to hell with it all, to hell with death or with grief, a Dant-esque descent to hell for Bunny and Gregory. The poem is a confirmation of O Hara as poet by an impatience with poetry as a sensible response to grief, and yet a reaffirmation by meaning its frustration, to hell with poetry, but by meaning to hell with poetry, poetry as defiant clarity returns. it: Why does both the title and final line end on it, and is the subject of that it, as well as the word, repeated? How do the cataphoric and anaphoric properties of it relate, the sense that it gestures to a context that may be available for recuperation, or might refer to a context which is, significantly, too general to be bounded by more precise language. And yet it has the clarity of precision, a sound of insight when placed at the end of the line. Definitions: as a nominative of the verb to be, it refers to the
150 151

See OHara, Personism: A Manifesto. Paul Valry, Poetry and Abstract Thought, The Kenyon Review 16.2 (1954): 213. 152 Valry, Poetry and Abstract Thought, 212.

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subject of thought, attention, or inquiry, whether impersonal or personal, in a sentence asking or stating what or who this is (OED). To clarify, It may refer, not to any thing or person mentioned, but to a matter expressed or implied in a statement, or occupying the attention of the speaker (OED). The it of To Hell with It reads as that implied matter, but also the obsolescence of attempting to index, define or describe that matter. To do so, to know and to represent the subject of it would be to deny the force of the phrases attack. This it is implied matter and its expression must be refused on behalf of its infinite disdain. The it therefore cannot simply refer to something, but instead subsumes that something by implying its all-encompassing proclivities: the it refers to an unwieldy burden sufficient to empty out its context, leaving it, cool, decisive, precise as a mark of disdain. Or it As the subject of an impersonal verb or impersonal statement, expressing action or a condition of things simply, without reference to any agent. (OED). We could say that it is the very lack of agency against which OHara rails in this poem; the failure of Gregory and Bunny to be sufficiently agents to avoid their own deaths. To unpack, the second it, the it of And mean it gropes for its subject, and finds it back at the beginning, in the title of the poem. How does the it of the title relate to the concluding it, set centrally in the page, And mean it.? Can these be the same? Not quite. You can say to hell with it and mean it, of course, in that you can both say to hell with it and mean it when you say it, making the poem a closed loop that commits and recommits itself to the apt hatred of the grief OHara bares. But the it cannot be the same throughout the two sentences. Instead, the second it refers back to the entirety of the first statement, not just to the it in to hell with it. The second it encloses to hell with it; to hell with it and to mean to hell with it. If to hell with it relies on its speed, on its conviction paradoxically matched by the vagueness of its context, to hell with this, to hell with all this, then the final it which means to hell with it reasserts the force of the first statement. If to hell with it opens its arms to gesture at the infuriating world and its grief, in Mayakovskys words, apart from the simple clarity of the sun, to hell with everything else, then the second records the meaningfulness which creeps in even amidst sweeping contempt. It does not retract the force of expression of the title; it magnifies it,

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and by doing so, by really meaning to do so, by saying it and meaning it, it answers it, and finds some form of refreshment in its anger, its hatred, its clarity. I suspect there are (at least) three major works behind To Hell with It: P.B. Shelleys Ode to the West Wind; the opening prologue prose-poem to Arthur Rimbauds Une Saison en enfer (A Season in Hell); and Vladimir Mayakovskys An Extraordinary Adventure which Befell Vladimir Mayakovsky in a Summer Cottage. The gestures these poems make to the wind as in some way intimately tied to poetic voice, and to a descent into hell, are dependent for their force on a long and involved history of usage. They are likely metonyms for poetic vocations or forms in general. These three poems are perhaps better understood as invitations to pause, rather than origins to which to return. There may well be a pertinent text by Colette lurking, but I have had no success in finding it. If Colette is Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, she had died relatively recently, in 1954. I am suspicious, too, that the Mock Poem dtourns a particular source text but, again, have had no 153 success in discerning a likely candidate. To Hell with It opens: Hungry winter, this winter meaningful hints at dismay to be touched, to see labeled as such perspicacious Colette and Vladimirovitch meet with sickness and distress, it is because of sunspots on the sun
153

There is a precursor, but I can see little evidence OHara would necessarily have come across it. Samuel Colvils Mock poem, or, Whiggs supplication (London, 1681), which refutes one of the charges made against it as follows: The third Objection against me is, that some affirm I am a bad Poet. But I answer, that nothing can more offend a Poet and a Fidler, then telling them they want skill: If in effect they be unskilful, as I am; And therefore no marvel if I reply in a fury that it is most true that I am a bad Poet, and yet they are notorious liars in avering it, because they do so out of malice, not knowing whether they speak true or false. (2)

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We find the poem with a piece of reported dialogue, a comment on appetites in which the season itself is taken to participate. meaningful hints at dismay: some recognition of grief, or perhaps a recollection of a moment of forewarning about the death to come of Lang. Such a claim is clearly fanciful, given the little evidence, but the phrase does open itself up to speculation; why is there dismay, and how is dismay couched in the minor affections of sociability? to be touched, to see labeled as such: the two anapestics and the rhyme of touched to such establish a brief building of suspension, before falling into the un-poetic perspicacious. The line shifts from be to see; is this about appetite, the appetite to be touched an d the desire to see it labeled as such? Perhaps this is a reversal of the curators usual advice to the art audience, do not touch the sculptures or the statuary, against the will of such works to be touched. This little echo of themes of Pygmalion lin gers in the material of poetry. To Hell with It holds poetry as air and wind in agonistic contest; it is an immaterial yet tangible force with the material page as the envoi. Does the poem here desire to be touched, or does O Hara wish to write a poem that can touch and be touched? How do these desires meet the poem as elegy, the desire to see again the lost lives beyond the dead matter of the deceased? perspicacious: discerning, insightful, the ability to behold intensively, to see through, recalling transparency, attributes of Colette and Vladimirovitch who meet, but likely not each other, only sickness and distress. Is this due to sunspots on the sun, the dark shapes that break the suns glare? Sunspots are cooler patches, created by magnetic activity, due to which they usually appear in pairs. The deaths come in twos. The line hovers, indented, and with a blank line preceding and following it, which makes the it more encompassing: to hell with it, that it because of sunspots on the sun. 5.I. MOCK POEM: NOTES TOWARDS A GLOSS ON EJACULATING POETRY AS SPITE John Latta doesnt get Poem, and it feels a little expulsion to ask too much of partly because it is a poem of too far in uncovering the Mock against the Mock Poems wasted it, but there are a few things to say, contempt (as Latta remarks, poetry

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as spite), and partly because it is a poem we might need to have 154 contempt for. The poem is in pentameters, largely end-stopped, and is a mock poem, according to the OED: A derisive or contemptuous action or utterance. What follows is my preliminary notes before a gloss for future reference. MOCK POEM One pentative device, and then rebeat To knead the balm, prepucible depense, Be undezithered pouncenance; for face Devapive hoods and blow the pentagon; Foe, steal communion from the Tyche, bless Myth less uncertainty, and when repeal, On bloated regents pour the sacred boonion. pentative device: some combination of tentative, pentameter (five measures), or echoes of repent (OED: Anglo-Norman repenter, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French repentir[...] to renounce (something) or cease (to do something) (c1100), (reflexive) to feel contrition or regret for an action, fault, or sin) Since this is pentative not repentative, is this reference to a first (original) sin? device: the pentative device is presumably the poem, but also the de-vice, a way of repenting, a de-sinning. rebeat: Repeat the cleansing of sins? A mockery of poetic meter? To knead: Reference to the making of poetry, the kneading of subject matter (as dough) into the risen form of poetry? Obvious pun here on need. the balm: an aromatic substance, consisting of resin mixed with volatile oils, exuding naturally from various trees of the genus Balsamodendron, and much prized for its fragrance and medicinal
154

Latta writes: A Jabberwockyd belch or spasm, erupting. Surely a combo of that desire to heave all of ones accumulated vocables out into the void simultaneously and indistinguishably (the heaving / erupting imagery mayhap the result of OHaras post-Mock Poem wrynessI clean it off with an old sock / and go onpoetry as jism, and that indistinguishable?desire to do everything considerably wrongpoetry as spite.) Site accessed May 4, 2013, http://isola-di-rifiuti.blogspot.co.uk/ 2011/06/excess-and-mess.html.

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properties. (OED). To be used on wounds, or perhaps bites and stings. Literary history includes Miltons Samson Agonistes, the chorus: Counsel or consolation we may bring, / Salve to thy sores: apt words have power to swage / The tumours of a troubled 155 mind, / And are as balm to festerd wounds. Or recall the fallen angels in Paradise Lost seeking heaven: And opportune excursion, we may chance / Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone / Dwell, not unvisited of Heavens fair light, / Secure; and at the brightening orient beam / Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air, / To heal the scar of these corrosive fires, / Shall breather her 156 balm. prepucible: A nonsense word but prepuce is not: it means foreskin, and, in a theological tradition, the state of the uncircumcised (OED). Its etymology derives from AngloNorman and Middle French prepuce (French prpuce) foreskin and 157 classical Latin praeptium. depense: From the French, dpense? Expense, expenditure. No wonder kneading some kind of balm or lubricant (see, later, Hyalomiel) into the prepuce requires some cleaning up afterwards. undezithered: Doubled negation of zithered, playing of zither, an instrument played by the hands and fingers emitting a humming sound. Echo of undelivered? pouncenance: pounce meaning pierced? Perhaps rubbing down? for face: reverses pouncenance into countenance?

155

John Milton, The Poetical Works of John Milton, Volume 3 (London: William Pickering, 1832), 14. 156 John Milton, The Poetical Works of John Milton, Volume 1 (London: 1842), 483, ll. 396-402. 157 Sir George Henry Savage writes of Dr Yellowlees of Glasgow: Yellowless makes a point of attracting the feelings and the sentiments in cases of masturbation, for he transfixes the prepuce in a slow, almost solemn way, at the same time that he preaches a very stirring sermon on the weakness of the vice and the probable results if the habit continued. Originally from Sir George Henry Savage, Some Modes of Treatment of Insanity As a Functional Disorder, quoted in Stephen Trombley, All that Summer She was Mad: Virgina Woolf and Her Doctors (London: Junction Books, 1981), 152. My thanks to Sara Crangle for this reference.

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Devapive: echo of French devant, in front of (facing)? Sense of vapidity, derived from taste of liquids, meaning insipid, lacking animation, a deadened form? Reference to the poem? hoods: reference back up to foreskin. blow the pentagon: Vulgar dismissal (oral sex) of counting measures in fives. steal communion: Desecration of the host. Tyche: Implies a place, presumably Temple of Tyche. Tyche refers to god overseeing fortunes of a city, its luck. When no cause can be discovered for disasters, it is to Tyche that people turn. Is this some reflection on the senselessness of the loss of Lang and Lafayette? bless / Myth less uncertainty: concatenation of negations (bless[...] less; mythless, mythless certainty). Perhaps, though, theres more of OHaras grace in this; should we bless mythless uncertainty, however painful? repeal: Repeal laws, or a person previously exiled? Withdrawal? To recall, reinstate, bring back? Relates back to rebeat from line 1. Re-peal: Reference back to foreskin of the penis? bloated: bloat: Old Norse blaut-r in the sense soft with moisture, soaked, wet (OED). A bloated regent? A contemptible ruler? A soft body, perhaps the penis swollen before or flaccid after ejaculation? Refers up by etymology to blow. Boonion: Boon: Old Norse bn, the etymological correspondent of Old English bn, Middle English bene n., prayer. (OED) Prayer transformed over time into a good or favour asked. A request, favour, made on some authority, whether religious or social, or that which is requested or prayed for. Literary: Chaucer: The kyng assentede to his bone [v.r. boone] (OED), reflects relation to bloated regents. Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus: Vpon my feeble knee, I beg this boone, with teares not lightly shed. (OED) Reflection of earlier hint at oral sex. Conclusion: Though hardly, now, neutered of its nonsensical aspects, its prefixes and suffixes, puns and translations, we can see a little more of the Mock Poem. It is a brief, ejaculated bit of faux beauty, a poem, formally, with a mixture of reflexive comments on meter, classical allusions, scattered rhymes and echoes.

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5.II. TO HELL WITH SUBJECT MATTER, SENTIMENT, FORM, AND POETRY? To Hell with It is an elegy for three tragic, and violent deaths, in which the poet takes up an agonistic stance against a metaphorical figure for poetic breath, the wind. The wind threatens by its own excess, its own overbearing force, to deprive the poet of air, and of the ability to speak and be heard in answer to the sickness and distress of life. This being OHara, the contest is played out in a slapstick silent movie, the darling poet dashed to the ground by the barn door. The close of the poem is a restatement of the title, a magnification of it, and a reply. And mean it affirms to hell with it, but also answers its spite without denying its force. In To Hell with It the following two passages are comparable, split by the Little Elegy, which had been composed on the death of James Dean, and acts here as a kind of mirror (see, for example, the doubled tripartite structure of photographs, / 158 monuments, / memories to cool, / decisive, / precise). The outcome of the comparison might be that these are contradictory theses, or that the contradiction betrays an alternative. Both are composed in a prosodic syncopation redolent of the conclusion to In Memory of My Feelings: lines skip onwards from their predecessors, and the space wraps around them in serpentine ebb and flow. They are both peppered by asides or qualifications held in parentheses. In fact, the parentheses may contain more of the poems purpose than that which surrounds them. And blonde Gregory dead in Fall Out on a Highway with his Broadway wife, the last of the Lafayettes, (How I hate subject matter! melancholy, intruding on the vigorous heart, the soul telling itself you havent suffered enough ((Hyalomiel)) and all things that dont change, photographs,
158

The title is echoed in the final poem of the Collected Poems, Little Elegy for Antonio Machado (491).

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monuments, memories of Bunny and Gregory and me in costume bowing to each other and the audience, like jinxes) nothing now can be changed [...] The second is a remarkably similar shape: For sentiment is always intruding on form, the immaculate disgust of the mind beaten down by pain and the vileness of lifes flickering disapproval, endless torment pretending to be the rose of acknowledgement (courage) and fruitless absolution (hence the word hip) to be cool, decisive, precise, yes, while the barn door hits you in the face each time you get up because the wind, seeing you slim and gallant, rises to embrace its darling poet. It thinks Im mysterious. All diseases are exchangeable. There are other ways in which this poem recalls In Memory of My Feelings beyond the prosody. We might note the way that the memorial arts are despised for their permanence, their fixity: nothing now can be changed. In Memory seeks restlessly the fluidity of movement, change, transformation, the shedding of dead skin to be newly born. This feels like a critique of the fetishization of immanence for which OHara is renowned, the nothing now a kind of hiatus in possibilities in the act of grief. Above, does How I hate subject matter! provide the grammatical opening for and all things that dont change too? Is it How I hate subject matter![...] and all things that dont change? How does all things that dont change attach to bowing to each

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other and the audience, like jinxes? Or are all things that dont change bowing to each other and the audience? Are they taking their last bows, in parenthesis? Or is it How I hate all things that dont change, photographs, monuments, memories, since in these nothing now can be changed. The doubling of these two sections is apparent in the doubling of intruding: melancholy / intruding on the vigorous heart followed by sentiment[...] intruding on form. Do we therefore read across these passages, or compare them as contradictory? Do we read melancholy and subject matter as examples of sentiment, and if so, as seems plausible, do we then take the vigorous heart as representative of form? At first the immaculate disgust of the mind seems to be a plausible capacity for sentiment, but it is this immaculate disgust of the mind which will be beaten down by pain and the vileness of lifes flickering disapproval. That is, we can interpret the poem to consider both heart and mind as form, rather than reading a heart and mind split across the two sections. The immaculate disgust of the mind recalls the immaculate conception, blurring conception between its seedy fecundity (hence, disgust) and the making of concepts in the mind. The hygiene of immaculate is connected to disgust here to use disgust as a way of clearing out certain ingrained conceptions. Like sentiment its an ambivalent term; this sentiment is either that which fills the mind with disgust or the disgusting aspects of the mind are part of the sentiment that intrudes on form. One interpretation, therefore, is that sentiments, those feelings to which OHara struggled to elegize, and which have returned, magnified, in grief, are despised, and hated, and the poets dream is for the immaculate hygiene of form. I read this, however, as a mockery of form, in which form is conceptualized as a kind of emptiness, a freedom from the degradations of subject matter and sentiment. Linking back to Goodmans essays, theres a desire here to deal with the vileness rather than intellectualize it. The form is then linked to those blank pages, which do not remain so but are instead filled with filth. This is OHaras aesthetics of impurity, an openness to intrusion, an ornate variety and love of imperfection. Form is parodied above in the Mock Poem, and we can 159 hardly judge OHara as a formalist la New Criticism. Its not
159

See OHaras precise put-down of the poets of New Criticism in his conversation with Lucie-Smith in Standing Still and Walking in New York,

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possible, therefore, to have OHara take sides in some way for form over content, or content over form. Fair enough. But are we able to simply delete the antagonism, to refer OHara back to his contemporary, and perhaps greatest rival in Allen s The New American Poetry, Charles Olson (Olson, of course, reporting the 160 conclusion of Robert Creeley): form is content. There are (at least) two responses. The first is to return to the aesthetics of style, to ponder the age-old questions of form and 161 content. The second is to wonder about all this negative affect (dismay, hate, disgust) and to understand OHaras unconventional relationship to it, which Ill consider first. The most extended work on this topic is Richard Demings necessary essay 162 on the poem Hatred (CP, 117-120). Reading a later work,
who have certain rather stupid ideas about how, about what is the comportment in diction that you adopt (12). The use of comportment here, its sense of preciousness, could be productively linked into a tradition setting the boundaries of poetic and prosodic license according to decorum. Hellmut Wohl describes the necessary correspondence between form and content in terms of that which is appropriate: The dictum that form, whether literary or pictorial, should aptly express and correspond to content was fundamental to antique and Renaissance artistic theory (Wohl, Aesthetics, 68). 160 In his interview with Lucie-Smith, OHara comments that Creeley has made control practically the subject matter of the poem. That is your control of the language, your control of the experiences and your control of your thought. [heavy-handed italics from the transcription]. OHara adds: the amazing thing is that where theyve [Creeley and Levertov] pared down the diction so that the experience presumably will come through as strongly as possible, its the experience of their paring it down that comes through more strongly and not the experience that is the subject, you know. In some cases, not in all (Standing Still, 23). Shaw notes an equally critical and helpful comment of Creeleys on OHaras work. Creeley was inspired to start a magazine by the dissatisfaction with the social occasion of writing (Shaw, Poetics of Coterie, 242f7). The implication is that both the medium of exchange, the magazine, and the form of the poetry had to provide an alternative to the social occasion so pervasive in OHaras work. 161 On which see Antoine Compagnon, Literature, Theory, and Common Sense, trans. Carol Cosman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). My thanks to Peter Nicholls for this reference. 162 Richard Deming, Naming the Seam: On Frank OHaras Hatred, in Frank OHara Now, 131-143: We cannot be made to understand hatred, since there is no perspective from which that would be possible. It is

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Poem (Hate is only one of many responses) ( CP, 334-4) serves to clarify the argument for hate. Hate is only one of many responses true, hurt and hate go hand in hand but why be afraid of hate, it is only there think of filth, is it really awesome neither is hate dont be shy of unkindness, either its cleansing and allows you to be direct like an arrow that feels something The filthy page[s] of poetry might not be opprobrium after all. This unkindness is cleansing, returning us to the immaculate disgust of the mind. It is Goodmans essay that opens up this reading: endless torment pretending to be the rose / of acknowledgement is the intellectual inhibition of suffering which results in the martyrdom of the subject. The line is a response to the title of the poem, the insistence on not taking suffering as an intellectual pursuit to be acknowledged and by doing so to reflect back on the individual as though suffering were a source of narcissistic self-aggrandisement. For Goodman, the struggle is between happiness and character; rather than understand ones 163 character, its intrusion on happiness must be resisted. On the first response: we might associate OHaras refusal of the opposition with his final mock-macho thrust in Personism: The recent propagandists for technique on the one hand, and for content on the other, had better watch out ( CP, 499). Though not deleting technique, OHara provides the parable of measure and other technical apparatus as the purchasing of a pair of pants[...] tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you. It is a brilliant analogy, in which formal constraints are considered necessary to show off the poem in the best light. It is the fashionable comparative to sprezzatura, the nonchalance that engenders and veils subterfuge. Sprezzatura means tight trousers; it means making the poem amiably apt, seductive, rhetorically
enough to recognize that hatred is recognizable. That way, at least, we cannot deny that it has been denied. Only that way can we come to see poetrys singular means of facilitating acknowledgement. (143) 163 Goodman, Utopian, 98.

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persuasive, but not because it has sinister, controlling desires, but because wanting to go to bed with each other might be a fun way to spend the night, or the day, and the only dishonesty might be if you dress up your poem in the fashion of metaphysical speculation or martyrish yearning, if you convince the one to whom you are speaking that they should go to bed with you because you have the capacity for grandiose suffering. Instead, tight trousers show you 164 whats on offer: thats a form of honesty. Rather than tight trousers, there is another analogy for the relationship of form and content within the poem: the intimate lubricant forced within its enclosing brackets, ((Hyalomiel)). Its an hilarious interjection, a reflection, in its way, of the bracketed (courage) that follows, and a way of dampening exquisite suffering. Not dissimilar to KY Jelly, its purpose in the poem is a kind of libidinal bathos, a version of the pleasures taken in silent comedy in the second half of the poem. Its brand name sounds partly like a Greek god, and partly like a Jewish expletive, but
164

OHara, Personism, 498. In Statement for The New American Poetry (CP, 500) OHara writes that he is not for any particular technical development. What is happening to me, allowing for lies and exaggerations which I try to avoid, goes into my poems. I dont think my experiences are clarified or made beautiful for myself or anyone else; they are just there in whatever form I can find them.[...] My formal stance is found at the crossroads where what I know and cant get meets what is left of that I know and can bear without hatred.[...] It may be that poetry makes lifes nebulous events tangible to me and restores their detail; or conversely, that poetry brings forth the intangible quality of incidents which are all too concrete and circumstantial. Or each on specific occasions, or both all the time. The only problem with this statement is that by the time of Statement for Paterson Society OHara had declared it mistaken, pompous, and quite untrue (CP, 511), but its worth picking on a couple of points. Firstly, the task as OHara sees it is one of honesty. Secondly, the form of the poem and of the experience are significantly found things, with the attendant sense of care not to damage their discovery by indiscriminate craft. Thirdly, the dynamic between nebulous and intangible, or concrete and tangible, is not so much resolved one way or another as placed into contrapposto effect: they move each other.

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perhaps like the great example of Lucky Pierre in Personism, it 165 explains with an erotic appeal the place of poetry. If we take apart the name we can see its poetic tradition. The poster for Hyalomiel reads: Gele base de Glycrine et de Miel anglais. The new lyric, lubricated not only by the honey (miel) of the gods, but by glycerine too. The Greek hyalos means glass, or crystalline: this is a poetry of transparency, clarity, and honey.
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There is a precursor to OHaras analogy between poetry and the telephone from Personism, too, in Valry: Faire de la littrature cest crire pour inconnus. La ligne que je trace est littrature ou non selon que je ladresse quelquun, ou ce lecteur virtuel moyen que je me donne. Une personne imprvue lisant une lettre elle non destine et dont les tres lui sont inconnus change cette lettre en littrature. Translated as: To create literature is to write for people unknown. The line I write out is literature or not according as I address it to someone, or that average, virtual reader that I invent for myself. An unforeseen person, reading a letter not addressed to them and which mentions people unknown to them, changes that letter into literature. Passages taken from Michael Jarrety, The Poetics of practice and theory, in Reading Paul Valry, 112 and 119. OHara suggests that whilst writing a love poem I was realizing that if I wanted to I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born.[...] It puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages. Rather than the poem being a phone-call, as is often assumed, the passage must be read with the earlier description of vulgarity: [the poem must] address itself to one person (other than the poet himself), thus evoking overtones of love without destroying loves life giving vulgarity, and sustaining the poets feelings towards the poem while preventing love from distracting him into feeling about the person (499). Rather than a telephone call to the lover, the lover is addressed via the abstraction of the poem, but into that poem is poured the displaced love for the person, allowing the poem to become Lucky Pierre, the poem takes on the experiential properties of personhood to both gives and receives pleasure. Lucky Pierre is a figure of the poem as a generosity that requires no sacrifice.

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Even the onanistic Mock Poem, too insular to be a communicative love poem, offers some relief, perhaps made more pleasant with the judicious application of Hyalomiel. If subject matter and melancholy and sentiment keep intruding, perhaps content and form need a little lubrication to generate some pleasure. Content is always fucking form; they need and want each other. 5.III. VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVITCH MAYAKOVSKY AND THE SUNS MOTTO Vladimir Vladimirovitch Mayakovsky died aged 36 in 1930, taking his own life in a desperate reversal of the admonishment of Sergei Esenins suicide that preceded his own by 166 five years.
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Mayakovsky had written a foreceful refutation of Esenins last words: In this life to croak is not too hard To make life is a great deal harder.

(quoted in Peter France, An Etna Among Foothills: The Death of Mayakovsky, in Dying Words: The Last Moments of Writers and Philosophers, ed. Martin Crowley (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000), 15). In a spirit not unconnected to that of To Hell with It (in particular the line Im through with life, Mayakovskys suicide note included the lines: And so they say the incident dissolved the love boat smashed up on the dreary routine. Im through with life and should absolve from mutual hurts, afflictions and spleen. (accessed June 20, 2012, http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/ literature/vladimir-mayakovsky/. In a farewell letter, Mayakovsky writes: Dont blame anyone for my death, and please dont gossip about it. (France, An Etna Among Foothills, 8) The literary teleology of suicidal acknowledgement is continued in the case of Mayakovsky by Boris

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Mayakovskys An Extraordinary Adventure which Befell Vladimir Mayakovsky in a Summer Cottage includes a note to introduce the poem (Pushkino, Akulas Mount, Rumyantsev 167 Cottage., 27 versts on the Yaroslav Railway.) As the poem tells us, it was composed by Mayakovsky in 1920 whilst at a cottage in Pushkino, a cottage Mayakovsky rented for several summers. It is, in a tradition OHara took to heart, an occasional poem, and one which incorporates its own specificities of date and time and place. At the time of its composition, Mayakovsky was employed by the Russian Telegraphic Agency (the ROSTA) to produce posters and cartoons with slogans and poem fragments that would become famous. It is hardly a surprise that this poem is lurking in OHaras mind, since the famous, and now infamous poem of his, A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island ( CP, 306-307) references Mayakovsky explicitly as the first poet whom The Sun 168 chooses to speak to personally. In Mayakovskys poem it is the poet who, enraged, speaks personally to the sun, not the other way round. Fire Island plays the part of Mayakovskys Summer Cottage, though it is now known as the location for OHaras death. The summery, beachside locale also brings to mind the composition of the elegies to James Dean I cited earlier. The Sun instructs the poet to be more attentive, and, after briefly scolding him, offers considerable encouragement, punningly saying Frankly I wanted to tell you / I like your poetry: Just keep on like I do and pay no attention. Youll find that people always will complain about the atmosphere, either too hot or too cold too bright or too dark, days too short or too long. (CP, 306)

Basternaks portrait in Safe Conduct. For OHaras affection for Pasternak see About Zhivago and His Poems, in CP, 501-509. 167 Vladimir Mayakovsky, The Bedbug and Selected Poetry, ed. with an introduction by Patricia Blake, trans. by Max Hayward and George Reavey (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), 137-44. 168 See Kent Johnsons thesis that A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island is a posthumous homage by Kenneth Koch, in A Question Mark Above the Sun (Buffalo: Starcherone Books, 2012).

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The most telling advice is perhaps the following: And always embrace things, people earth sky stars, as I do, freely and with the appropriate sense of space. That is your inclination, known in the heavens and you should follow it to hell, if necessary, which I doubt. (CP, 307) The Sun explains that it must go because theyre calling / me Who are they? Rising he said Some day youll know. Theyre calling to you too. Darkly he rose, and then I slept. (CP, 307) Though taken to be a premonition of OHaras own death, it may be the lost loved ones, Lang foremost among them, calling. To Hell with It is, however, evidence of OHaras earlier dialogue with Mayakovsky, and one closer to the graceful defiance of Mayakovsky. The poem reads: An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage (Pushkino, Akulas Mount, Rumyantsev Cottage., 27 versts on the Yaroslav Railway.) A hundred and forty suns in one sunset blazed, and summer rolled into July; it was so hot, the heat swam in a haze and this was in the country. Pushkino, a hillock, had for hump Akula, a large hill, and at the hills foot a village stood crooked with the crust of roofs. Beyond the village gaped a hole

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and into that hole, most likely, the sun sank down each time, faithfully and slowly. And next morning, to flood the world anew, the sun would rise all scarlet. Day after day this very thing began to rouse in me great anger. And flying into such a rage one day that all things paled with fear, I yelled at the sun point-blank: Get down! Stop crawling into that hellhole! At the sun I yelled: You shiftless lump! Youre caressed by the clouds, while herewinter and summer I must sit and draw these posters! I yelled at the sun again: Wait now! Listen, goldbrow, instead of going down, why not come down to tea with me! What have I done! Im finished! Toward me, of his own good will, himself, spreading his beaming steps, the sun strode across the field. I tried to hide my fear, and beat it backwards. His eyes were in the garden now. Then he passed through the garden. His suns mass pressing through the windows, doors,

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and crannies; in he rolled; drawing a breath, he spoke deep bass: For the first time since creation, I drive the fires back. You called me? Give me tea, poet, spread out, spread out the jam! Tears gathered in my eyes the heat was maddening, but pointing to the samovar I said to him: Well, sit down then, luminary! The devil had prompted my insolence to shout at him, confused I sat on the edge of a bench; I was afraid of worse! But, from the sun, a strange radiance streamed, and forgetting all formalities, I sat chatting with the luminary more freely. Of this and that I talked, and of how I was swallowed up by Rosta, but the sun, he says: All right, dont worry, look at things more simply! And do you think I find it easy to shine? Just try it, if you will! You move along, since move you must; you moveand shine your eyes out! We gossiped thus till dark

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Till former night, I mean. For what darkness was there here? We warmed up to each other and very soon, openly displaying friendship, I slapped him on the back. The sun responded! You and I, my comrade, are quite a pair! Lets go, my poet, lets dawn and sing in a gray tattered world. I shall pour forth my sun, and youyour own, in verse. A wall of shadows, a jail of nights fell under the double-barreled suns. A commotion of verse and light shine all your worth! Drowsy and dull, one tired, wanting to stretch out for the night. SuddenlyI shone in all my might, and morning ran its round. Always to shine, to shine everywhere, to the very deeps of the last days, to shine and to hell with everything else! That is my motto and the suns! Mayakovskys great anger at the sun, diligently rising and falling (into, most likely a hole beyond the village) overwhelms him, making all things dismayed (paled with fear), spurring him to address the sun, chastising it for crawling into that hellhole.

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OHaras use of the poem is fairly brief, but crucial in terms of tone and intent. Mayakovskys suspicion that the sun lowers itself into hell meets OHaras invocation, to hell with it. The poet relates the suns strange radiance encouraging the poet to forget all formalities, and brokering a fast, comradely friendship. The discarding of formalities relates to poetic form too; as so often, Personism: A Manifesto comes to mind, with its injunction, You just go on your nerve (CP, 498). In answer to his fears and anxieties, the sun encourages Mayakovsky not to worry and to look at things more simply! To do so is an act of courage: And do you think I find it easy to shine? Just try it, if you will! You move along, since move you must; you moveand shine your eyes out! In answer to the suns injunction to shine your eyes out! OHara writes: Wind, youll have a terrible time / smothering my clarity, a void / behind my eyes / in which existence / continues to stuff its wounded limbs. This is hardly a simple triumph for OHara, but the clarity, perspicacity, light, the sun, reside behind my eyes. As the sun declares: I shall pour forth my sun, and youyour own, in verse. The commotion of verse and light pours out, before the protagonists grow tired, Drowsy and dull. OHara promises to pour his poems onto one / after another filthy page of poetry. At the moment of inviting darkness, however, the poet musters his energy, his simplicity, his clarity: SuddenlyI shone in all my might, and morning ran its round. Always to shine, to shine everywhere,

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to the very deeps of the last days, to shine and to hell with everything else! That is my motto and the suns! The motto shared by the poet and the sun is to shine - / and to hell with everything else! To hell with it[...] And mean it. 5.IV. P. B. SHELLEY, POETRY AND WIND These are the last three stanzas of one of Valrys most famous poems, Le Cimetire Marin: Non, non! Debout! Dans lre successive! Brisez, mon corps, cette forme pensive! Buvez, mon sein, la naissance du vent! Une fracheur, de la mer exhale, Me rend mon me... puissance sale! Courons londe en ejaillir vivant! Oui! Grande mer de dlires doue, Peau de panthre et chlamyde troue De mille et mille idoles du sleil, Hydre absolue, ivre de ta chair bleue, Qui to remords ltincelante queue dans un tumulte au silence pareil, Le vent se lve!... Il faut tenter de vivre! Lair immense ouvre et referme mon livre, La vague en poudre ose jaillir des rocs! Envolez/vous, pages tout blouies! Rompe, vagues! Rompez deaux rjouies Ce toit tranquille o picoraient des focs! (Poems, 220) No, no! Up! And away into the next era! Break, body, break this pensive mold, Lungs, drink in the beginnings of the wind! A coolness, exhalation of the sea, Gives me my soul back!... Ah, salt potency, Into the wave with us, and out alive!

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Yes, gigantic sea delirium-dowered, Panther-hide, and chlamys filled with holes By thousands of the suns dazzling idols, Absolute hydra, drunk with your blue flesh, Forever biting your own glittering tail In a commotion that is silences equal, The wind is rising!... We must try to live! The immense air opens and shuts my book, A wave dares burst in powder over the rocks. Pages, whirl away in a dazzling riot! And break, waves, rejoicing, break that quiet Roof where foraging sails dipped their beaks! (Poems, 221) We can relate cette forme pensive back to the sepulchral tombeau in La Jeune Parque, and the Absolute hydra to OHaras pail full of vipers, but it is to the close of To Hell with It that I turn. Though the dramatic emotional tone of Valry s poem is decidedly unlike that of OHaras poem, and though this is hardly the first poem to make use of the wind as a symbol of poetry, Envoi, the send off, of To Hell with It echoes Valrys work: Wind, youll have a terrible time smothering my clarity, a void behind my eyes, into which existence continues to stuff its wounded limbs as I make room for them on one after another filthy page of poetry. And mean it. The combination of epiphanic rebirth and a commitment to a vitalistic courage (We must try to live!) all located in the ebb and flow of the tide matches section five of In Memory, but also this

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conclusion in which pages of poems appear to be read by or even 169 written by the combination of wind and sea. The moments preceding the Envoi, that precede the apostrophe to the wind, is a little scene in which the wind rises / to embrace its darling poet: For sentiment is always intruding on form, the immaculate disgust of the mind beaten down by pain and the vileness of lifes flickering disapproval, endless torment pretending to be the rose of acknowledgement (courage) and fruitless absolution (hence the word hip) to be cool, decisive, precise, yes, while the barn door hits you in the face each time you get up because the wind, seeing you slim and gallant, rises to embrace its darling poet. It thinks Im mysterious.
169

170

The use of wind as a corollary of poetic inspiration (breath) is not confined to To Hell with It. See, most importantly, Wind to Morton Feldman, which ends: And the snow whirls only in fatal winds briefly then falls it always loathed containment beasts I love evil (CP, 269) See also Poem: He can rest (CP, 109) in which the poet may well be described as a Fart in the Hurricane. It, too, manipulates material from Ode to the West Wind, with its descriptions of the wind lifting him like a puppets jock strap, and reference to the atonality of thorns. 170 It thinks Im mysterious: Recall, from La jeune Parque:

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The first echo that springs to mind is not a poem, but a film, Buster Keatons Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928) in which the cool, / decisive, / precise Keaton balletically rebounds from any number of knock downs caused by a high wind. It is most famous for a moment when the front of a building sheers off, Keaton s character only surviving by standing in the space of the open window as it falls, but there are several moments approximate to OHaras writing above: Keaton is sailed through a barn on a hospital bed, the wind opening the door to allow him to enter and leave freely; at other times the wind embrace[s] the poet by its magnitude, Keaton leaning fully into its force; a fence door, rather than a barn door, is the first door to actually go ahead and knock him down. The film is an apt antecedent because it does two things. Firstly, it conveys the Keaton persona amidst adversity; Keaton s continual war against the accidents and emergencies peppering his world manifests in a laconic yet pathos-laden poetics, a poise and silence (even in a silent movie) amidst consternation. Grace in bathos. James Agee wrote: In a way his pictures are like a transcendent juggling act in which it seems that the whole universe is in exquisite flying motion and the one point of repose is the 171 jugglers effortless, uninterested face. Secondly, the dynamic between the body of the poet (Keaton) and the wind is at once seemingly violent but ultimately a spur to life. The body of the poet addresses the wind in invocation, and the wind seeing you 172 slim and gallant, rises / to embrace its darling poet. The wind takes on agency, manipulates with great humour its human charge, both risking his life and goading his ingenuity to survive. Eventually the Keaton character grips the trunk of a tree, which is
Mystriouse MOI, pourtant, tu vis encore! Tu vas te reconnatre au lever de laurore Amrement la meme Thing of mystery, ME, are you living yet! When dawns curtain lifts, you will recognize Your same bitter self.
171

The last fade-out on the Great Stone Face: Buster Keaton, LIFE February 11, 1966, 63. 172 Out of interest see Jean Days The Buster Keaton Analogy from The Literal World, accessed June 10, 2013, http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/day/ day_buster.html.

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promptly pulled into the air and carries him over into the water from where he can save his love and win the day. I want to think about the way in which the figure and the wind relate as antagonistic but also dependent terms, developing from Buster Keatons struggles to those of P.B. Shelley. Thomas M. Greene discerns a significant difference between apostrophe and invocation, a distinction Im not convinced holds, but is worth repeating: An invocation typically contains both an apostrophe, an address to an absent or inanimate being, and a summons to appear or to make its influence felt in the invoker s experience. Ostensibly, apostrophes are more common than invocations. But the rarer speech-act, combining specific verbal form with assumed power, may be the 173 more rewarding key to the force of poetry. Poetic invocations are examples of magical thinking, and for Greene the distinction between apostrophe and invocation relates to the putative origins of human culture, that the poem as invocation is an example not of aesthetic pleasure but rather [trying] to make something happen (or to prevent its 174 happening). OHaras title is a neutered command, a speech-act wherein the act has become self-reflexive, a curse devoid of a target sufficient to condemn and therefore rebounded as contemptuous, spiteful dismissal. By the time of the apostrophe to wind in the envoi, a target has been chosen. To Hell with It is a secular invocation, an invocation after the fact of the deaths of friends in which no claim for efficacy is made beyond the final, courageous commitment to continue, and to continue with poetry. As Greene writes: the nostalgia for magic, the dangerous returns
173

Thomas M. Greene, Poetry as Invocation, New Literary History 24.3 (Summer 1993): 495. Greene cites the following example of poetic invocation, one which is oddly fitting to my earlier reading of In Memory, or, rather, one that helpfully runs counter to OHaras antiApollonian perspective. This is the Homeric hymn, To Hestia: Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise-draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song (quoted, 496). 174 Greene, Poetry as Invocation, 496.

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of suppressed magic, betray what looks like a perennial human 175 need for signs endowed with potency in themselves. Barbara Johnsons Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion describes the purpose of apostrophe: The absent, dead, or inanimate entity addressed is thereby made present, animate, and anthropomorphic. Apostrophe is a form of ventriloquism through which the speaker throws voice, life, and human form into the 176 addressee, turning its silence into mute responsiveness. Though OHaras work is thrillingly evocative of animacy, of furia, its worth distinguishing straight away between apostrophic animacy and the elegy to the dead: OHaras poem continues, remains alive, but the dead are the wounded limbs of existence being stuffed into pages of poetry. To continue with the discussion of apostrophe: for Johnson, apostrophe is tied to alternative rhetorical traditions concerned with the evocation of vivacity and animacy, and theres an intriguing formal replication here of the pervasiveness of both apostrophe and various related terms such as furia and energia. Apostrophe, furia and energia are evocations of the living quality in art and poetry. For Johnson, Shelley s Ode to the West Wind, is perhaps the ultimate apostrophic poem because it makes even more explicit the relation between apostrophe and 177 animation. Johnsons argument is essentially that Shelleys apostrophe to the wind is about the animating power of apostrophe, and poetry more generally: the west wind is a figure for the power to animate: it is described as the breath of being, moving everywhere, blowing movement and energy through the world, waking it from its summer dream, parting the waters of the Atlantic, uncontrollable[...] But the poet addresses, gives animation, gives the capacity of responsiveness, to the wind, not in order to make it speak but in order to

175 176

Greene, Poetry as Invocation, 497. Barbara Johnson, Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion, Diacritics 16.1 (1986): 30. 177 Johnson, Apostrophe, 31.

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make it listen to him - in order to make it listen to him 178 doing nothing but address it. Consider the first stanza: O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumns being Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou Who Chariotest to their dark wintry bed The wingd seeds, where they lie cold and low, Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow Her clarion oer the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odours plain and hill Wild Spirit, which are moving everywhere Destroyer and Preserver hear, O hear! For Greene, Johnsons reading is limited because it fails to treat death with sufficient attention. Death is the forerunner of rebirth: the wingd seeds are corpses to bring Spring. The dialectic of Destroyer and Preserver is replayed by OHara between the title and last line of the poem, from To Hell with It as a spiteful renunciation of poetic speech, to mean it as an ironic preservation of its necessity. OHaras opening is reported as spoken language, Hungry winter, this winter. Is OHaras poem situated between the Autumn and Spring of Shelleys death and rebirth? The first three stanzas describe the effects of the wind on three natural symbols, each also connected (respectively) to the material, imaginative or formal creation of poetry: leaf, cloud, and wave. The second stanza describes the winter of a year, and a life in which death (this closing night / Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre) is a hellish space of Black rain, and fire, and hail. The fourth stanza restates each of the previous three (dead leaf[...] swift cloud[...] a wave to pant beneath thy power), and redoubles that repetition with the line previously quoted:
178

Johnson, Apostrophe, 31.

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O lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! A heavy weight of hours has chaind and bowd One too like thee tameless, and swift, and proud. So far so serious. But what of the bathetic slapstick of the slim and gallant poet, being hit in the face by the barn door? In Shelleys Sometimes Embarrassing Declarations: A Defence, Rodney Delasanta reiterates the critical judgement on Shelleys poetic personae and declarations as embarrassing, including the lines I die, I faint, I fail, and, from Ode to the West Wind, I fall upon 179 the thorns of life! I bleed! For Delasanta the thorns relate organically to these preparatory images of shed foliage and are all that remains of the speakers defoliated world after the West Wind, in its role of destroyer, has stripped it. The wind, however, fails to lift the subject, the poet, since the wind is too like thee tameless, and swift, and proud. OHaras echo is that the darling poet gets up each time he or she is knocked down by the wind. Rather than tameless, and swift, and proud the bathetic poet is cool, / decisive, / precise, the conjunctions replaced by graceful falls down and across the page. Judith S. Chernaik, too, spends time countering descriptions of the Shelleyan poetic personae as shrill, hysterical, self-pitying, and immature. For Chernaik the fallen state is indisputable: [M]ortality, time, passion, are facts of reality. Poetry, like religion, gives meaning to reality by conjecturing a before and after, by naming the present a fall from the past. The myth Shelley substitutes for the orthodox fall reflects his sense that the condition of human life must be conceived in terms of loss if it is to be tolerable. It is the nature of the human being to err, he suggests, in seeking to remedy its loss. Yet the single imperative for the imagination is recovery of that Absolute - whether knowledge, love, or beauty - which its own desire asserts 180 to be the necessary source and sustaining power of life.
179

Rodney Delasanta, Shelleys Sometimes Embarrassing Declarations: A Defence, Texas Studies in Literature and Language 7.2 (1965): 177. 180 Judith S. Chernaik, The Figure of the Poet in Shelley, ELH 35. 4 (1968): 584.

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Chernaik describes the conviction of Ode to the West Wind as a 181 prophecy, that the living world itself can be reborn. Greene understands the penultimate section of Shelley s ode to describe a wish for passivity, a wish to lie without volition in 182 the winds power as a dead leaf, a swift cloud or A wave. Chernaik describes the poetic faculty of profound and unconscious receptiveness to reality - that wise passiveness which receives more of the world, more of truth, than sensory perception 183 can admit to consciousness. In To Hell with It the wind is addressed as a lover, a bully, and a comedian. Both poems resolve to transform their passivity into new commitments. The final section of Ode to the West Wind reads: Make me thy lyre, evn as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universe, Like witherd leaves, to quicken a new birth; And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawakend earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? The lyre, the Aeolian harp synonymous with lyric, plays by the movement of the wind across its strings in a forest scene, a passive music. The poem asks, however, what happens when a storm makes mighty harmonies on the lyre, and this tumult is matched by the tempestuous creativity of the poem, the leaves like so many pages of poetry falling like its own!. To Hell with It ends with one / after another filthy page of poetry. John Hollander describes in detail the relationship between Aeolian Harp and the utterance of the poetic figure. The Aeolian Harp was
181 182

Chernaik, The Figure, 584. Greene, Poetry as Invocation, 511 183 Chernaik, The Figure, 588.

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a rectangular flat box with a sound hole and strings stretched across it; the strings, of varying diameter, were all tuned to a unison, and depending upon the velocity of the wind, produced 184 combinations of the natural overtone series. Describing the position of the poet figure in the ode, Hollander argues that, by turning aside (Hollander does not connect this with the act of the apostrophe played from within the poem) the wind is not blowing through him, but from behind; his shout is not lost across or against it, but shapes, modulates, and labializes into eloquence the prophetic force, which, blowing across the poets figurative strings, rather than his mouthpiece, produces what Geoffrey Hartman 185 might refer to as the lyricism of trans-verse. As Shelley writes in A Defence of Poetry: Man is an instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an ever-changing wind over an Aeolian lyre, which 186 move it by their motion to ever-changing melody. Shelleys call is for a Spirit fierce to answer passivity; he seeks to take up the spirit of the tumultuous wind, the impetuous one: be thou me. The stages of the poem are therefore twofold: first, the passivity of openness; second, the shift to invocation. Greene describes Be thou me! as the pivotal moment for all these shifts, from falling leaves to sparks, from the wind as 187 enchanter to the speaker as voice, from Autumn to Spring. This 188 is the moment of invocation, neither ironic nor deconstructive.
184

John Hollander, The West Wind and the Mingled Measure, Daedalus 111.3 (1982): 132. 185 Hollander, The West Wind, 132. 186 Hollander, The West Wind, 132. Hollanders argument takes this further, adding nuance to this passage from A Defence by analyzing the ways in which the poet accommodate[s] his voice to the sound of the lyre (132), before going on to describe the rhetorical figure transumption and the trope of mingling. He writes: The revision of prior metaphor, the quickening of old images that have frozen into statues or bric-a-brac, the rebuilding from echoing clay of new living figures, animated by the present breath of voice - this is the allusively originating role of transumption. The kind of figure that gets its strength from the way it both recalls and transcends a prior one is by no means the same as a mere modulation of a topos or commonplace. Thus, while the image of the Aeolian Harp is widespread in nineteenth century European poetry, it is at significant moments in the work of major poets that it is revised (145). 187 Greene, Poetry as Invocation, 512. 188 Greene, Poetry as Invocation, 512.

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My argument is that the spirit of OHaras poem, its own dead thoughts of To hell and the hell of endless torment shares Shelleys committed finale: where OHara seeks to stuff torments onto the filthy pages of his poetry, Shelley desires to Drive my dead thoughts over the universe like dead leaves in high winds: Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth / Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Shelleys ode halts a generic moment in the elegy between the description of a life and the final internment of the body in death; the transformation of one to the other is the source of the Ashes and sparks which will revivify the spirit of the poet if, and only if, the poet can be attentive to that fleeting moment. In both cases shifts occur between written, spoken and sung poetry. Shelley seeks to answer the winds force by taking up its music through my lips, making lips the trumpet of a prophecy! The trumpet recalls the first stanzas clarion, which shares its etymology with OHaras clarity. For OHara the wind as poetic breath threatens to be overwhelming, smothering the poet, depriving him of the spirit necessary to speak. His craft becomes one of containment: I make room, recalling the origins of stanza as room, sheltering in his void the damaged lives of those he loves. 5.V. MA VIE DPEND DE CE LIVRE: ARTHUR RIMBAUD OHaras poem picks up a line from Arthur Rimbaud which is of particular significance since it is from a poem bidding farewell to poetry. Rimbaud said of Une Saison en enfer, Ma vie dpend de ce 189 livre (My life hangs on this book). Though the composition of Une Saison en enfer and Illuminations overlapped, the conventional interpretation of the former has seen it as a farewell to poetry. James Lawler describes the work as evoking the crisis of an individual soul, which also expresses a society[...] and a culture[...] that have been subjected to spiritual, emotional and economic 190 alienation. Robert Cohn writes of the work as the means of shaking off an insatiable drive to spiritual power which was
189

Quoted in James Lawler, Rimbauds Theatre of the Self (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 202. 190 Quoted in Lawler, Rimbauds Theatre, 203.

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threatening his [Rimbauds] very existence. The poem is, then, strategically ironic in needing to renounce spiritual energy with some other related form of courage. It is a battle of wills in which the will must not win. This, I argue, was the condition to which OHara sought to refer. The protagonist of the poem parvins faire svanouir dans mon esprit toute lesprance humaine (contrived to purge my mind of all human hope), an aspiration we might see in OHaras 192 simple to hell with it. The second half of the prose-poem reads: Et le printemps ma approt laffreux rire de lidiot. Or, tout dernirement, mtant trouv sur le point de fair le dernier couac, jai song rechercher la clef du festin ancien, o je reprendrais peut-tre apptit. La charit est cette clef. Cette inspiration prouve que jai rv! Tu resteras hyne... etc., se rcrie le dmon qui me couronna de si aimables pavots. Gagne la mort avec tous tes apptits, et tone goisme et tous les pchs capitaux. Ah! jen ai trop pris:- Mais, cher Satan, je vous en conjure, une prunelle moins irrite! et en attendant les quelques petites lachets en retard, vous qui aimez dans lcrivain labsence des facults descriptives ou instructives, je vous dtache ces quelques hideux feuillets 193 de mon carnet de damn. And spring brought me the idiots frightful laughter. Now, only recently, being on the point of giving my last squawk, I thought of looking for the key to the ancient feast where I might find my appetite again. Charity is that key.- This inspiration proves that I have dreamed!
191

191

Robert Greer Cohn, The Poetry of Rimbaud (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 401. 192 Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell and the Drunken Boat, trans. Lousie Varse (New York: New Directions, 1961), 2. 193 Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, 4.

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You will always be a hyena... etc., protests the devil who crowned me with such pleasant poppies. Attain death with all your appetites, your selfishness and all the capital sins! Ah! Im fed up:- But, dear Satan, a less fiery eye I beg you! And while awaiting a few small infamies in arrears, you who love the absence of the instructive or descriptive faculty in a writer, for you to let me tear out these few, hideous pages from my notebook of one of the 194 damned. When approaching death, the le dernier couac (the last squawk, or croak), or the last piece of poetry, the self is able to consider returning from the brink, into the world of appetites, desires. The voice of Rimbauds poem addresses a demon, Satan, perhaps in a form we might recognize of the talking serpent who instructs the speaker to attain or better to earn death, in Law lers translation with all your appetites, and your selfishness and all the deadly 195 sins. We might gloss the paragraph as follows: The speaker is fed up, tired, drowsy and dull (in the words of Mayakovsky), sufficient to address the demon, and ask it for charity. This final, ironic, death-bed confession to dear Satan precedes a number of small infamies (les quelques petites lachets en retard) that are still to come in the life of the speaker, the life that will occur after the renunciation of the art or poetry which this poem inaugurates. It is an elegy for past expression. Satan abhors the instructive or descriptive faculty or talent (des facults descriptives ou instructives) in the writer, and therefore might just abide the prosepoems which follow, the last poems which make up A Saison en enfer, and the last poems which make up the notebook of a damned soul. For Rimbaud ces quelques hideux feuillets de mon carnet de damn (these hideous pages from my notebook of one of the damned) are OHaras filthy pages of poetry. OHara writes: Wind, youll have a terrible time smothering my clarity, a void behind my eyes, into which existence
194 195

Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, 5. Lawler, Rimbauds Theatre, 205.

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continues to stuff its wounded limbs as I make room for them on one after another filthy page of poetry. And mean it. The accidents and emergencies of lives lived continues to stuff its wounded limbs into the void behind the eyes, but OHaras renunciation of poetry fails in his bid to make room for them on paper. 5.VI. TUTIVILLUS, THE PRINTERS DEVIL AND THE HELLBOX To Hell: OHara, with spite, seeks to discard the whole situation of the poem, and yet makes room for them, the lost, on filthy page[s] of poetry by meaning it. Where or what is this hell, if it is to incorporate the implied expletive of the title? Amongst the various demons assisting the work of Satan, was the demon who later became known as Tutivillus. Margaret Jennings in Tutivillus: The Literary Career of the Recording 196 Demon, describes the fanciful history of the demon. The demon could be found amidst church or monastery choirs, encouraging mistakes in the recitation of scripture, or causing various kinds of disruption to singing. Such demons preyed upon acedia, the wandering of the mind through sloth or melancholy (intruding on the vigorous heart). The handbook of monastic demonology, the Liber revelationum de insidiis et versutiis daemonum adversus homines by Abbot Richalm of Schontal (circa 1270), claimed that, in the words of Jennings, demons [came] riding like motes in sunbeams and coming down with the rain, encouraging everything from sins and errors, to coughing, snorting and 197 spitting, or simply encouraging people to sleep. Jennings comments that by the end of the Middle Ages, the great majority of demons are droll but not frightful; they provoke laughter or at 198 least incite a smile, but they create no horror.

196

Margaret Jennings, Tutivillus: The Literary Career of the Recording Demon, Studies in Philology 74. 5 (1977): 1-95. 197 Jennings, Tutivillus, 5. 198 Jennings, Tutivillus, 6-7.

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The function of the Tutivillus demon was registering vaniloquia (idle talk), in one or both of two ways. Firstly, the demon could be seen during Mass recording misdeeds such as gossip by furiously scribbling it down. Secondly, the demon could be seen carrying a heavy sack, into which the syllables cut off, syncopated, or skipped over by clerics in reciting or chanting the 199 psalms would be collected. The demon is therefore a messenger to the devil, but also mediates between speech and writing. One of the surprising aspects of this demon, known as 200 Tutivillus but by various names besides, is that it managed to lurch into the modern world by becoming associated with the printing press in two ways. Firstly the printers devil is a term for an underling or apprentice whose job is to carry out various chores around the machinery. Secondly, rather than gathering up the misspoken syllables of sermons, or the indelicacies of church gossip, the printers devil or demon encourages mistakes in typesetting. Whenever a mistake was found in a printed text, its existence was blamed on the machinations of the demon. Cast metal type, once used by the printer, is thrown into the hellbox, before being put back into the job case by the printer s devil (the labourer). Later, with the advent of continuous casting typesetting machines, the hellbox became the receptacle for the broken or damaged type, ready to be melted down and recast into new type.

[...] existence continues to stuff its wounded limbs


199 200

Jennings, Tutivillus, 8. For the origins of the name Tuitivillus see Jennings, Tutiviullus, 1417. Jennings writes: [By] an unusally complicated system of reference and cross-reference, change and addition, elaboration and omission, the rather diligent but dull recording devil in church and his sack -carrying partner became known by a single name-the well-known one of Tutivillus, the young, infernal humorist of the Towneley Cycle[...]. Though his description may be partially rooted in Apocalypse 20:12 [...] and in the material gleaned from folk tales and monastic fears, Tutivillus development is a literary one. Like the Grail quest, Langlands visions, the Wyf of Bathe, and other medieval unforgettables, he came to life in the imaginative constructs of contemporary storytellers, and his characterization stayed alive only as long as they and their world could support it. (8)

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as I make room for them on one after another filthy page of poetry. OHaras opening gambit, his title, is to discard, to scatter the remnants of his art, his type: to the hellbox with the materials of poetry! OHara pondered, whilst at Harvard, after reading St 201 Jerome, whose side he was on, that of Satan or God. The void / behind my eyes is a hellish space, into which existence / continues to stuff its wounded limbs. Tutivillus is the demon of sinful and mistaken language, the syllables and syncopated words 202 and verses and ffragmina verborum [sic], the bundled fragments of language, the scattered type of impropriety. Recall, Shelleys Ode to the West Wind: And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! The Shelleyan wind is powerful enough to scatter the ashes and sparks, my words. Are these not the ashes and sparks beaten out of metal when forging type? The ashes and sparks, like so many mortal ashes, strewn rising and falling onto the unawakened earth are pounded out of the matter of language. OHaras return from demonology and his own descent into hell to that spat-out existence culminates in the agency required to make room for the wounded limbs, the bones of the discarded type, scattered 203 onto the rags of one / after another filthy page of poetry.
201

I am reading, slowly, Saint Jerome, and I know now that Satan lives, and I have not yet made up my mind which side I am on. (A JOURNAL: October-November 1948 & January 1949, in Early Writings, 98. 202 The Towneley Cycle, accessed February 13, 2013, http://machias.edu/ faculty/necastro/drama/towneley/30_judgement.html. 203 Though hardly fit to match it, this reading recalls Jerome McGanns extraordinary reading of Yeatss The Circus Animals Desertion, in Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 3-8, a reading which uncovers the material history of the final lines: I must lie down where all the ladders start In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

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OHaras famous injunction, the slightest loss of attention leads to death, feels the surveillance of the Tutivillus demon, taking down the broken language of the poet when fallen into a state of acedia, 204 apathy, boredom, or inattention.

6. CONCLUSION: PAUL GOODMAN AND EXPLOSIVE GRIEF And heres where we can re-introduce the delicious ouroboros of the title (To Hell with It) and conclusion (And mean it): the force of its insult is an expression of its feeling insulted by the senseless deaths it would otherwise, as an elegy, contain in selfaggrandising intellection; OHaras work refuses to make the poet, in the words of Goodman, somewhat magnified by identifying with the depriving power. To say, insultingly and by way of summation as a title, to hell with it and to mean it conclusively and candidly, uses the vapid ambiguity of it against it, thus hollowing it out, refusing to learn anything from, or to try to understand anything about it. The poems energy is in its contradiction: to hell with all of this, to hell with everything, and to mean it, thus inaugurating once more the hellish task of poetry, the task of language, the task of experience; poetics is making meaning. The poem refuses to sympathise with the cause of loss, to identify himself with the depriving power which is death. What a magnificent elegy this is, then? How else to be on the side of life except by the delicious insult to death which is the refusal to understand death? That is, to harbour oneself as the poet of death, to internalize it in self-aggrandisement as part of the I: endless torment pretending to be the rose / of acknowledgement. OHaras sentimental struggle is to refuse to martyr oneself to ones own feelings, to prevent suffering from being loved, and therefore to maintain feelings as in some sense outside, exterior to, the self. OHara feels no pain, but his feelings do. As we know, sentiment is always introducing on

W.B. Yeats, Selected Poems, ed. with an introduction and notes by Timothy Webb (London: Penguin, 2000), 224. 204 OHara, from the television film David Smith: Sculpting Master of Bolton Landing (1964), reprinted in Frank OHara, Whats With Modern Art?, ed. Bill Berkson (Austin: Mike & Dales Press, 1999), 27.

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form, so clean it [form] off with an old sock and stuff its [sentiment] wounded limbs into poetry. To Hell with It is a great example of the absolute conviction that there is a real, present object of anger and grief, even when, or especially when, 205 that grief is for an object present by its felt absence. To 206 encourage the explosive release of strong feelings, their purging, OHara makes the object of passion concretely present, or in the case of grief the felt absence of that object present, or at least present to the mind, the fractured grief isolated from its explanations, last crying no tears will dry. Rather than be tired, miserable but not dissatisfied, enjoying the satisfactions of the usual standards, Goodman encourages one to be surprisingly 207 miserable. Rather than drawing back from the feeling of loss in explanation and letting his grief dribble away ennobled by understanding but without purging strong feeling and therefore being less open to love, OHara seeks to mourn enough to be able to live again, to fail to explain grief but to say To Hell with It. How does Goodman explain the paucity of experience of the intellectual? He asks, Why would such a man want to be 208 surprisingly miserable?. Generic satisfactions of being tired, 209 miserable but not dissatisfied are insufficient. OHara refuses what Goodman describes as the classical solution, which is to turn grief and anger into something theoretical or ideal, namely intellectual love, one variant of which is to achieve stoical 210 apatheia, the dissociation of emotion altogether. Such apathy is anathema to OHaras poetics. Let us interject with perhaps the most famous credo attributed to OHara, spoken in relation to the sculptor David Smith: Dont be bored, dont be lazy, dont be trivial and dont be proud. The slightest loss of attention leads to death. It was, of course, central to one of the earliest academic 211 responses to OHaras work, that of Marjorie Perloff. The

205 206

Goodman, Utopian, 94 and 93. Goodman, Utopian, 93. 207 Goodman, Utopian, 102. 208 Goodman, Utopian, 102. 209 Goodman, Utopian, 102. 210 Goodman, Utopian, 94-5. 211 Marjorie Perloff, Frank OHara and the Aesthetics of Attention, boundary 2 4.3 (1976), 779-806.

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significant inspiration of Goodmans essay to OHaras can be determined by the shared hatred of boredom: Let us distinguish acute and chronic boredom. In general, boredom is fixing the present attention on what cannot be interesting because eros is attached to something outside of attention. In acute boredom, the unconscious attraction is definite, claims attention, and must be actively repressed e.g., being somewhere and 212 really wishing to be elsewhere. Acute boredom might be helpful, since it is often the reactive opposite of a guilty attraction actively repressed and is therefore a 213 condition of lively pain. The other, chronic boredom, is, however, spiritless, a constraint which is both peculiarly 214 relentless and peculiarly anonymous. Whereas acute boredom can be answered with a strength of will, with abrogation, for the latter it is the self that must relent. As discussed above the standards of the relentless self are held in the need to be always right; to be consistent; unwillingness to be a fool; satisfaction with 215 the situation as it is when it is well enough. Against such rationalizations we can see OHaras love: But thats not why you fell in love in the first place, just to hang onto life, so you have to take your chances and try to avoid being logical. Pain always produces logic, 216 which is very bad for you. In Memory of My Feelings is a painful elegy for past feelings, dead sentiments, a purge so that one can be open to love[... and] able to live again. To Hell with It is the explosive grief and anger not of the smiling insensitive adult who has been trained from childhood to fear the consequences of his anger and is 217 shamed out of crying. Goodman encourages childlike
212 213

Goodman, Utopian, 103. Goodman, Utopian, 103. Is this guilt here a consideration of repressed homosexuality? 214 Goodman, Utopian, 103. 215 Goodman, Utopian, 104. 216 OHara, Personism, 498. 217 Goodman, Utopian, 96 and 95-6.

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behaviour, OHaras last crying no tears will dry matching Goodmans claim that children often flare up and often cry: Faced with even a temporary delay or absence, children pound and scream and bawl; but as soon as the situation changes, they are bafflingly sunny, and take their gratification with relish, or feel secure again when mother returns. It is said that children cannot wait, but just the contrary is true. It is children who can wait, by making dramatic scenes[...]. They have a spontaneous mechanism to cushion even minor troubles. Rather it is the adults who have inhibited their spontaneous expression, who cannot wait; we swallow our disappointment and always taste what we have 218 swallowed. OHara tries not to be anxious about blind passion itself preventing the intensity of appetite, grief, anger from being controlled and made to dribble away, partly in reasoning. What is the significance of that seemingly throwaway line, I clean it off with an old sock? Goodman writes: The mechanism of dribbling away makes us think of the last-minute inhibition of orgastic surrender and ejaculation. Correspondingly, at the last minute he 219 withdraws from contact. Instead, OHara cleans ejaculate off all of the contemptuous passion of To Hell with it, and go[es] on. I want to end where I began, with the comments of Alberti. Alberti here is speaking to the task of art to evoke furia, or liveliness, against a merely representational or mimetic model of aesthetics. The following describes the quality, shared by O Hara, of grace, and the functions of life, namely movement and sentiment, brought to mind with two moments from the two poems featured here by OHara, a poet determined to get up each time the barn door hits him the face, since to move is to love and sentiment is always intruding on form: The members of the dead ought to be dead even to the fingernails, and the living ought to be alive in every part. A body is said to be alive when of its own accord it has
218 219

Goodman, Utopian, 94. Goodman, Utopian, 96.

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certain movements. It is called dead when the members may no longer carry out the functions of life, that is, movement and sentiment. Then the painter who wishes to express life in things will make every part in movement. But of all the movements that are charming and graceful, those movements are most graceful and 220 most lively which move upwards toward the air.

220

Alberti quoted in David Summers, Maniera and Movement: The Figura Serpentinata, in Readings in Italian Mannerism, ed. by Liana De Girolami Cheney (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 294.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Allen, Donald. ed. The New American Poetry: 1945-1960. New York: Grove Press, 1960. Altieri, Charles. Why Stevens Must be Abstract. In Wallace Stevens: The Poetics of Modernism, ed. Albert Gelpi. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985, 86 -118. Altieri, Charles. Rhetoric and Poetics: How to Use the Inevitable Return of the Repressed. In A Companion to Rhetoric and Rhetorical Criticism, eds. Walter Jost and Wendy Olmsted, 473493. London: Blackwell, 2004. Altieri, Charles. The Return to Rhetoric in Modernist Poetry: Stevens and Auden. In The Art of Twentieth Century American Poetry: Modernism and After, 126-156. New York: Blackwell, 2006. Beaujour, Michel. Poetics of the Literary Self-Portrait. New York: New York University Press, 1991. Bowie, Malcolm. Dream and the Unconscious. In Reading Paul Valry: Universe in Mind, ed. Paul Gifford, associate ed. Brian Stimpson, 262-279. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Byron. Manfred, A Dramatic Poem. In Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, Vol IV, ed. Jerome J. McGann, 51-102. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986. Carruthers, Mary. The Craft of Thought: Meditation, rhetoric, and the making of images, 400-1200. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Chernaik, Judith S. The Figure of the Poet in Shelley, ELH 35.4 (1968): 566-590. Chisholm, A.R. La Pythie and Its Place in Valrys Work. The Modern Language Review 58.1 (1963): 21-28. Cohn, Robert Greer. The Poetry of Rimbaud. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973. Compagnon, Antoigne. Literature, Theory, and Common Sense, trans. Carol Cosman. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. Cooke, M.G. Byrons Don Juan: The Obsession and SelfDiscipline of Spontaneity. In Acts of Inclusion: Studies Bearing on an Elementary Theory of Romanticism, 218-41. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

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DeAngelis, Michael. Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001. Delasanta, Rodney. Shelleys Sometimes Embarrassing Declarations: A Defence. Texas Studies in Literature and Language 7.2 (1965): 173-179. Deming, Richard. Naming the Seam: On Frank OHaras Hatred. In Frank OHara Now: New Essays on the New York Poet. Ed. Robert Hampson and Will Montgomery, 131-143. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010. Diggory, Terence. Community Intimate or Inoperative: New York School Poets and Politics from Paul Goodman to JeanLuc Nancy. In The Scene of My Selves: New Work on New York School Poets, ed. Terence Diggory and Stephen Paul Miller, 1332. Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 2001. Dollimore, Jonathan. Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques, and Emmett Gossen, Introduction to La Jeune Parque. Yale French Studies 44 (1970): 87-105. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The American Scholar. In Selected Essays, ed. Larzer Ziff, 83-105. New York: Penguin, 1982. Epstein, Andrew. Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Feldman, Alan. Frank OHara. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Fisher, Barbara. Stevens Dancing: Something Light, Winged, Holy. In Wallace Stevens, New York, and Modernism, eds. Lisa Goldfarb and Bart Eeckout, 71-84. New York: Routledge, 2012. Fowlie, Wallace. Rimbaud. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965. France, Peter. An Etna Among Foothills: The Death of Mayakovsky. in Dying Words: The Last Moments of Writers and Philosophers, ed. Martin Crowley. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. Gifford, Paul. Self and Other: Valrys lost object of desire. In Reading Paul Valry: Universe in Mind, ed. Paul Gifford, associate ed. Brian Stimpson, 280-296. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Goldfarb, Lisa. The Figure Concealed: Wallace Stevens, Music, and Valryan Echoes. Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2011. Gooch, Brad. City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank OHara. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

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Goodman, Paul. Advance -Guard Writing, 1900-1950. The Kenyon Review, 13.3 (1951): 357-380. Goodman, Paul. Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals. New York: Random House, 1962. Greene, Thomas M. Poetry as Invocation. New Literary History 24.3 (1993): 495-517. Hampson, Robert, and Will Montgomery, eds. Frank OHara Now: New Essays on the New York Poet. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010. Hollander, John. The West Wind and the Mingled Measure. Daedalus 111.3 (1982), 131-148. Jarrety, Michael. The Poetics of practice and theory. In Reading Paul Valry: Universe in Mind, ed. Paul Gifford, associate ed. Brian Stimpson, 105-120. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Jennings, Margaret. Tutivillus: The Literary Career of the Recording Demon. Studies in Philology 74. 5 (1977): 1-95. Johnson, Barbara. Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion. Diacritics 16.1 (1986): 28-47. Johnson, Kent. A Question Mark Above the Sun. Buffalo: Starcherone Books, 2012. Jones, Tom. Poetic Language: Theory and Practice from the Renaissance to the Present. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. Ladkin, Sam. Problems for Lyric Poetry. In Complicities: British Poetry 1945-2007, ed. Sam Ladkin and Robin Purves, 271-323. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2007. Latta, John. Excess and Mess. Accessed 4th May, 2013. http://isola-di-rifiuti.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/excess-andmess.html Lawler, James R. Notes and Commentaries. In Paul Valry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, ed. J. Mathews and Trans. David Paul. London: Routledge, 1971. Lawler, James. The Poet as Analyst: Essays on Paul Valry. Berkeley: University of California, 1974. Lawler, James. Rimbauds Theatre of the Self. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. LeSueur, Joe. Digressions on Some Poems by Frank OHara. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. McGann, Jerome. The Loss of Sentimental Poetry. In The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style, 150-173. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

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Mackay, Agnes Ethel. The Universal Self: A Study of Paul Valry . London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961. McGann, Jerome. Byron and Romanticism, ed. James Soderholm. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. McGann, Jerome. Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Mayakovsky, Vladimir. The Bedbug and Selected Poetry, ed. with an introduction by Patricia Blake, trans. by Max Hayward and George Reavey. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975. Milton, John. The Poetical Works of John Milton, Volume 3. London: William Pickering, 1832. Nash, Suzanne. Other voices: intertextuality and the art of pure poetry. In Reading Paul Valry: Universe in Mind, ed. Paul Gifford, associate ed. Brian Stimpson, 187-199. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. OHara, Frank. Art Chronicles 1954-1966. New York: Braziller, 1975. OHara, Frank. Standing Still and Walking in New York, ed. Donald Allen. Bolinas, CA: Grey Fox Press, 1975. OHara, Frank. Collected Poems, ed. Donald Allen. Berkeley: University of California: 1995. OHara, Frank. Whats With Modern Art? ed. Bill Berkson. Austin: Mike & Dales Press, 1999. Perloff, Marjorie. Frank OHara and the Aesthetics of Attention. Boundary 2 4.3 (1976): 779-806. Perloff, Marjorie. Watchman, Spy, and Dead Man: Johns, OHara, Cage and the Aesthetic of Indifference. Modernism / Modernity 8.2 (2001): 197-223. Preminger, Alex, and T.V.F. Brogan, eds. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Reed, Brian. Hart Crane: After His Lights. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006. Rimbaud, Arthur. A Season in Hell and the Drunken Boat, trans. Lousie Varse. New York: New Directions, 1961. Rimbaud, Arthur. Collected Poems, intro. and ed. by Oliver Bernard. London: Penguin, 1997. Shaw, Lytle. The Poetics of Coterie. Iowa City: Iowa University Press, 2006. Shearman, John. Mannerism. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967.

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Stimpson, Brian. Paul Valry and Music: A Study of the Techniques of Composition in Valrys Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Summers, David. Michelangelo and the Language of Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981. Summers, David. Maniera and Movement: The Figura Serpentinata. In Readings in Italian Mannerism, ed. by Liana De Girolami Cheney, 273-314. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. th The Towneley Cycle, Play 30 The Judgement, accessed 13 February, 2013. http://machias.edu/faculty/necastro/drama/towneley/ 30_judgement.html Trombley, Stephen. All that Summer She was Mad: Virgina Woolf and Her Doctors. London: Junction Books, 1981. Valry, Paul. Selected Writings. New York: New Directions, 1950. Valry, Paul. Poetry and Abstract Thought. The Kenyon Review 16.2 (1954): 187-199. Valry, Paul. The Collected Works of Paul Valery, V.1, Poems, ed. J. Mathews and Trans. David Paul. London: Routledge, 1971. Valry, Paul. The Crisis of the Mind. In Paul Valry: An Anthology, selected by James R. Lawler, 94-107. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. Ward, Geoff. Statutes of Liberty: The New York School of Poets. Houndmills: Macmillan, 1993. Whiting, Charles G. Sexual Imagery in La Jeune Parque and Charmes. PMLA 86.5 (1971): 940-945. Whiting, Charles G. Paul Valery. London: Athlone, 1978. Wilkinson, John. Where Air is Flesh: The Odes of Frank OHara. In Frank OHara Now: New Essays on the New York Poet. Ed. Robert Hampson and Will Montgomery, 103- 119. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010. Wohl, Hellmut. The Aesthetics of Italian Renaissance Art: A Reconsideration of Style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Yeats, W.B. Selected Poems, ed. with an introduction and notes by Timothy Webb. London: Penguin, 2000. Zanker, G. Enargeia in the Ancient Criticism of Poetry. Rheinisches Museum fr Philologie Neue Folge, 124. 3/4 (1981): 297-311.

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Sam Ladkin is a lecturer in the School of English, University of Sheffield. His work tends to focus on the relationships between poetry and the arts. With Robin Purves he has edited three collections, Complicities: British Poetry 1945-2007 (Litteraria Pragensia), the British Poetry Issue of Chicago Review, and the darkness surrounds us: American Poetry, special issue of Edinburgh Review. He has written about Clark Coolidge, Ed Dorn, Keston Sutherland, Andrea Brady, Chris Goode, Rob Halpern, and Peggy Ahwesh amongst other things. He has a number of articles recently out or currently under review on the poet Frank O'Hara which will contribute to a monograph entitled Frank O'Hara and the Language of Art.

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ON IN MEMORY OF YOUR OCCULT CONVOLUTIONS


Richard Parker

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In Memory of Your Occult Convolutions
1

Keston Sutherlands In Memory of Your Occult Convolutions was written for, and delivered at, a poetry reading organised to coincide with the 24th Ezra Pound Conference, London, July 5-9, 2011. The audience was predominantly made up of Pound scholars from around the world. The poem is constructed from excerpts from essays by Ezra Pound that deal with the relation of pedagogy to literature; How to Read (1929), The Serious Artist (1913), The Teachers Mission (1934) and The Constant Preaching to the Mob (1916). They are all collected, consecutively, in T.S. Eliots edition of the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound (1954) [hereafter LE]. Further extracts are taken from the poems Fratres Minores (1914) and Homage to Sextus Propertius (1919), as well as Pounds early critical work The Spirit of Romance (1910). The Occult Convolutions of the title are taken from section 24 (of the 1892 version) of Walt Whitmans Song of Myself.
If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it, Translucent mould of me it shall be you! Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you! Firm masculine colter it shall be you! Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you! You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my life! Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you! My brain it shall be your occult convolutions! Root of washd sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you! Mixd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you! Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you! Sun so generous it shall be you! Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you! You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you! Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you! Hands I have taken, face I have kissd, mortal I have ever touchd, it shall be you. [The Complete Poems, pp. 87-88.]

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Low-brow reader, it shall be you; those who try to make a bog, a marasmus, a great putridity in place of a sane and active This is a somewhat reversed Whitman, exchanging his expansive exhortation to address the internal workings of his own body the one thing he will worship more than another is made up of the many elements of his physical self, culminating in his genitals in a state of arousal, and all addressed in the second person. While the classical Whitman is famously democratic, a poet that works outwards from the individual towards the edges of the continent and beyond it, here he temporarily reverses this dynamic, engendering an onanistic feedback loop. Through the sex-stuff of milky stream pale strippings, Root of washd sweet-flag and guarded duplicate eggs Whitman folds Manifest Destiny, the American man, not-yet-Americans and the general reader into a hermetic syllogism, and seals them up there. We might also, at the beginning of this reading, ask whose convolutions? In Song of Myself they are ascribed to Whitmans brain; My brain it shall be your occult convolutions! Whitmans thought processes are hidden, occulted, from even his own understanding; they are the buried inspirations that erupt in his singular poetics, though I guess they could also be the unspoken, unspeakable, sexual fantasies that push Whitman on to climax. But the convolutions are not only these things and not only Whitman s. That the coming work will be made up of decontextualized occulted?extracts from Pounds essays suggests were at least partly remembering Pounds thought here, and we might think of the scholars assembled at the poems first reading at the Pound Conference; the work gained a discernible frisson when read, in all its second-person spleen, to a group of readers and writers so professedly concerned with Pounds reading and writing. And they must be all readers convolutions, to be memorialised with that capitalised Your and, following Whitman, American man as representative of all the peoples of the world, or of that Low-brow reader with which Sutherland begins. 2 The collage/quotation method that Sutherland uses in his poem has two somewhat contradictory Poundian provenances. The first of these is that of the Ideogram or the gist; to reduce a writer s works down to the bare bones of single, pithy, representative and affecting line may very well be seen to be derived from the method outlined by Pound in The Teachers Mission as the examination
2 3

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and juxtaposition of particular specimens e.g. particular works, passages of literature. [LE, p. 61.] The gist would provide Pounds primary method throughout The Cantos and in much of his mature prose, with particular effect in ABC of Reading (1934)an expansion of How to Readand Guide to Kulchur (1938). How to Read, however, also suggests another method. There Pound boasts that for two years, we ran fortnightly in the Egoist, the sort of fool-column that the French call a sottisier, needing nothing for it but quotations from the Times Literary Supplement. Two issues of the Supplement yielding, easily, one page of the Egoist. [LE, p. 17.] K.K. Ruthven writes that the Egoist compilations were reproduced on the assumption that some statements are so self-evidently stupid that refutation is unnecessary because all you need to do is quote them. [Ezra Pound as Literary Critic, p. 137.] The TLS would be allowed to speak for itself in all its idiocy and Sutherland, with In Memory of Your Occult Convolutions seems to let Pounds own words do something similar. In Stupefaction Sutherland compares Pounds poetic and critical writings with a comprehensive theoretical account of stupefaction, celebrating the fact that the poets works everywhere project, mock and vilify the halfwit incapable of being bucked up by beauty, hearing the subtle measure of Pounds verse, or correctly despising Carlo Dolci, as the perennial Mr. Buggins cannot. [Stupefaction, p. 5] The examples that Sutherland quotes here are extracted from Pound s excoriation in ABC of Reading, [p. 26] in a manner that is close to the In Memory of Your Occult Convolutions strategy, with context removed and explanation relegated to a footnote. Sutherland seems to be celebrating the wondrous detachable specificity of Pounds critical methods here; methods that are somehow both hermetic (occult involutions perhaps) and yet primarily didactic and directed outwards accordingly. While Sutherland displays a clear relish for Pound s methods and rhetoric, there is nonetheless something unsatisfying about the sottisier as a literary method. Robert Duncan notes a rhetorical devaluing of language in Pounds criticism and poetry:
[H]is persuasion was against persuasion. It is characteristic of Pounds nature in saying, of his river of speech, a currency he has in the common sense where it is most disturbed and disturbing, that words that come up in his contentions

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abstraction, rhetoric, jew, or shit,appear deprived of their good sense. Rhetoric became a term of derogation in his criticism, just as in The Cantos his great river of voices began, sweeping all conflicts up into the persuasion of its Heracleitean flux, having mastery through its triumphant rhetoric. The one image in a lifetime, defined in an instant of time, in the life-flow of time is no longer discrete and unique but leads to and inherits depths from other times and places. In each instant of time, the tide of its river is impeded. [The H.D. Book, p. 56.]

The aspects of Sutherlands project that conform to the sottisier method communicate a similar perception about Pound; such contextless gisting, while pointing up the American s baroque mastery of the insult, also serves to emphasise a deficiency in Pounds method, revealing his occult convolutions as limitingly rhetorical. More of a closing down of thought than a careful teasing out of possibilities. Gilles Deleuze dismisses the sottisier as an especially atrocious pseudo-literary genre, [Difference and Repetition, p. 151.] thus damning both compiler and compiled. Those TLS idiocies are indeed idiotic, but Pound is also a terrible pseud for compiling them for the Egoist coterieand Sutherland must be the worst of them all for forking the dung once again so unashamedly in this poem. Of course Sutherland is aware of the pretence in his actions, and just as Whitman s celebration in Song of Myself turns inward, so Sutherland generously admits his own pomposity to his critique. Sutherlands quarrying of Pounds polemic insists, then, on another function of that poets Ideogrammic method; to the constructive, educative function a critical, destructive function is added, The Egoists version of Pseuds Corner. The first method, the echt gist, in which, as Hugh Kenner describes it, [f]ragments of a fragment grow into radiant gists [The Pound Era, p. 68.], disseminates the essence of the author through a kind of literary homeopathy, while the second exposes stupidity and emptiness by exaggerating those qualities through the act of collage. * Sutherlands ideogrammic sottisier begins with a selection of quotations drawn from Pounds How to Read, an essay first

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ebullience, from sheer simian and pig-like stupidity; half-knowing and half-thinking critics with one barrel of sawdust to each half5 bunch of grapes; out-weariers of Apollo continuing in Martian
4

published in the Books section of the New York Herald Tribune in 1929a venue that offered Pound a singular opportunity to address a large and various readership. Pound responded with an article that approached his topic with great vigour and little compromise to the Tribunes readership. We begin close to the outset of the essay; the low-brow reader can be traced to Pounds attempt [t]o tranquillize the lowbrow reader, let me say at once that I do not wish to muddle him by making him read more books, but to allow him to read fewer with greater result. [LE, p. 16.] This comes in the midst of an argument in which the academy is found guilty for the faults in reading habits of the contemporary educated reader. Such readers suffer from an error still being propagated, consciously or unconsciously, by a number of educators, from laziness, from habits, or from natural cussedness. [LE, p. 16.] 3 Sutherlands injunctive epistrophe, it shall be you, is, like his poems title, drawn from section 24 of Song of Myself. Here, through the embedding of this inclusive refrain in the midst of Pounds exacting rhetoric, the conventional understanding of Whitmans expansive democracy is retooled into something more coercive; Michael Kindellan describes Whitmans epistrophic method here as very controlled and controlling. [Credible Practices: Whitmans Candour, Pounds Sincerity, Olsons Literalism (unpublished D.Phil. dissertation), p. 53.] Kindellan s suspicion is proved by Sutherlands exploded version of autocratic Whitmanism here; with Whitmans exhortation revealed as instruction. 4 How to Read: They try to make a bog, a marasmus, a great putridity in place of a sane and active ebullience. And they do this from sheer simian and pig-like stupidity, and from their failure to understand the function of letters. [LE, p. 21.] 5 How to Read: In introducing a person to literature one would do well to have him examine works where language is efficiently used; to devise a system for getting directly and expeditiously at such works, despite the smokescreens erected by half-knowing and half-thinking critics. To get at them, despite the mass of dead matter that these people have heaped up and conserved round

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generalities, it shall be you; all those with minds still hovering 7 above their testicles; less determinate sorts of people who 8 comprise the periphery; the diluters whose produce is of low about them in the proportion: one barrel of sawdust to each halfbunch of grapes. [LE, p. 23.] 6 Homage To Sextus Propertius, I (1919): Out-weariers of Apollo will, as we know, continue their Martian generalities. [Poems & Translations, p. 527.] Sean Pryor has demonstrated the importance of the Pound of Propertius to Sutherlands Poundianism (see Some Thoughts on Refrigeration in the forthcoming collection Ezra Pound and Contemporary British Poetry). 7 Fratres Minores (1914), [Poems & Translations, p. 572]:
With minds still hovering above their testicles Certain poets here and in France Still sigh over established and natural fact Long since fully discussed by Ovid. They howl. They complain in delicate and exhausted metres That the twitching of three abdominal nerves Is incapable of producing a lasting Nirvana.
6

This poem first appeared in the first number of BLAST with its first and final two lines redacted. In his essay Wrong Poetry Sutherland makes reference to Fratres Minores, writing that for the poet who is just a man ambitious of the fame of being what he is means a successful poet, a poet who is right, one of Pound s still sighing but comfortable remunerated Fratres Minores, then it is better (meaning that you are really a poet) not to know yourself as actual. Truly being wrong to the point of perdition is a prophylactic against transcendence. [Stupefaction, p. 136.] 8 How to Read:
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. When we set about examining it we find that this charging has been done by several clearly definable sorts of people, and by a periphery of less determinate sorts. [LE, p. 23.]

The extracts up to note 12 are taken from Pounds list of these contributors to literature.

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GLOSSATOR 8
intensity, some flabbier variant, some diffuseness in the wake of the 9 valid; those who add but some slight personal flavour, some minor variant of a mode, without affecting the main course of the 10 11 story; those who at their faintest do not exist, it shall be you; the starters of crazes whose wave of fashion flows over writing for a few centuries or a few decades, only then to subside, leaving things 12 as they were, it shall be you; the communicators of known 13 maladies, specimens for the good physician or neuropsychiatric
9

How to Read: (c) The diluters, these who follow either the inventors or the great writers, and who produce something of lower intensity, some flabbier variant, some diffuseness or tumidity in the wake of the valid. [LE, p. 23.] 10 How to Read; (d) (And this class produces the great bulk of all writing.) The men who do more or less good work in the more or less good style of a period. of these the delightful anthologies, the song books, are full, and choice among them is the matter of taste, for you prefer Wyatt to Donne, Donne to Herrick, Drummond of Hawthornden to Browne, in response to some purely personal sympathy, these people add but some slight personal flavour, some minor variant of a mode, without affecting the main course of the story. [LE, p. 23.] 11 How to Read: At their faintest Ils nexistent pas, leur ambiance leur confert une existence. They do not exist: their ambience confers existence upon them. When they are most prolific they produce dubious cases like Virgil and Petrarch, who probably pass, among the less exigeant, for colossi. LE, p. 24. The French quote, Ils nexistent pas, leur ambiance leur confert une existence can also be found in Canto 77 [The Cantos, p. 485] and in ABC of Reading. Terrell does not identify its source and translates it as They dont exist, their surroundings confer an existence upon them. [A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, p. 410.] 12 How to Read: (f) And there is a supplementary or sixth class of writers, the starters of crazes, the ossianic McPhersons, the Gongoras whose wave of fashion flows over writing for a few centuries or a few decades, and then subsides, leaving things as they were. [LE, p. 24.]
13

How to Read: The good physician will recognize a known malady, even if the manifestation be superficially different. [LE, p. 24.]

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aristocrat; those who prolong the use of demoded terminology; those who continue dangling in mid-chaos emitting the most 16 imbecile estimates that vitiate their whole lifetimes production; 17 those who acquire what is acquirable without having the root, it shall be you; conflaters of poetry with lofty and flowery 18 language, it shall be you; those who cannot follow the method of annihilating imbecility employed by Voltaire, Bayle, and Lorenzo 19 20 Valla, it shall be you; the floribund; those who lick off the page
14 15 14 15

Unidentified. How to Read: Bad critics have prolonged the use of demoded terminology, usually a terminology originally invented to describe what had been done before 300 B.C., and to describe it in a rather exterior fashion. [LE, p. 25.] 16 How to Read: There are, on the other hand, a few books that I still keep on my desk, and a great number that I shall never open again. But the books that a man needs to know in order to get his bearings, in order to have a sound judgement of any bit of writing that may come before him, are very few. The list is so short, indeed, that one wonders that people, professional writers in particular, are willing to leave them ignored and to continue dangling in mid-chaos emitting the most imbecile estimates, and often vitiating their whole lifetimes production. LE, p. 27. 17 How to Read: I mean that Horace is the perfect example of a man who acquired all that is acquirable, without having the root. [LE, p. 28.] 18 How to Read: The language had not been heard on the London stage, but it had been heard in the Italian law courts, etc.; there were local attempts, all over Europe, to teach the public (in Spain, Italy, England) Latin diction. Poetry was considered to be (as it still is considered by a great number of drivelling imbeciles) synonymous with lofty and flowery language. [LE, p. 29.] 19 How to Read: Before Stendhal there is probably nothing in prose that does not also exist in verse or that can t be done by verse just as well as by prose. Even the method of annihilating imbecility employed by Voltaire, Bayle, and Lorenzo Valla can be managed quite as well in rhymed couplets. [LE, p. 31.]
20

How to Read? To put it perhaps more strongly, he will learn more about the art of charging words from Flaubert than he will from the floribund sixteenth-century dramatists. [LE, p. 32.]

325

GLOSSATOR 8
in rapid, half-attentive skim-over; the half-civilized and barbarous 22 and those who never have shed barbarism it shall be you; shaggy 23 and uncouth marginalians it shall be you; those who are wholly 24 muddled with accessories; those who cannot spot the best painting or who are absorbed in idle consternation at the defects of 25 the tertiary painter; she who, content with her ignorance, simply admits that her particular mind is of less importance than her 26 kidneys or her automobile, it shall be you; those who are blind to
21 21

How to Read: The art of popular success lies simply in never putting more on any one page than the most ordinary reader can lick off it in his normally rapid, half-attentive skim-over. [LE, p. 32.] 22 The next four extracts from How to Read are taken from the England section, offering the de-particularised gist of Pounds (already chronically curtailed) reading of the English literary canon. How to Read, [LE, p. 35.]:
It is the natural spreading ripple that moves from the civilized Mediterranean centre out through the half-civilized and into the barbarous peoples. The Britons never have shed barbarism; they are proud to tell you that Tacitus said the last word about Germans.
23

How to Read: The men who tried to civilize these shaggy and uncouth marginalians by bringing them news of civilization have left a certain number of translations that are better reading today than are the works of the ignorant islanders who were too proud to translate. [LE, p. 35.] 24 How to Read: Chapman and Pope have left Iliads that are of interest to specialists; so far as I know, the only translation of Homer that one can read with continued pleasure is in early French by Hugues Salel; he, at least, was intent on telling the story, and not wholly muddled with accessories. [LE, p. 35.], 25 How to Read: It is one thing to be able to spot the best painting and quite another and far less vital thing to know just where some secondary or tertiary painter learned certain defects. [LE, p. 36.] 26 How to Read: The writer or reader who is content with such ignorance simply admits that his particular mind is of less importance than his kidneys or his automobile. [LE, p. 36.]

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some part of the spectrum; those who are clumsy at languages; 29 those who use vague general terms; those who ascribe ridiculous 30 values to works of secondary intensity; those who neglect to omit 31 all study of monistic totemism and voodoo; those who treat the ostrich and the polar bear in the same fashion, universalists
27 28

27

How to Read: The man who does not know the Italian of the duocento and trecento has in him a painful lacuna, not necessarily painful to himself, but there are simply certain things he don t know, and cant; it is as if he were blind to some part of the spectrum. [LE, p. 37.] 28 How to Read: Another point miscomprehended by people who are clumsy at languages is that one does not need to learn a whole language in order to understand some one or some dozen poems. It is often enough to understand thoroughly the poem, and every one of the few dozen or few hundred words that compose it. [LE, p. 37.] 29 How to Read, under the heading Vaccine: Do I suggest a remedy? I do. I suggest several remedies. I suggest that we throw out all critics who use vague general terms. Not merely those who use vague terms because they are too ignorant to have a meaning; but the critics who use vague terms to conceal their meaning, and all critics who use terms so vaguely that the reader can think he agrees with them or assents to their statements when he doesnt. [LE, p. 37.] Pound is now moving towards the solution to the problems in reading that he has identified in the foregoing material. 30 How to Read. In reference to a selected reading list that Pound terms the minimum basis for a sound and liberal education in letters: This would not overburden the three- or four-year student. After this inoculation he could be with safety exposed to modernity or anything else in literature. I mean he wouldn t lose his head or ascribe ridiculous values to works of secondary intensity. He would have axes of reference and, would I think, find them dependable. [LE, p. 38.] 31 How to Read: For the purposes of general education we could omit all study of monistic totemism and voodoo for at least fifty years and study of Shakespeare for thirty on the ground that acquaintance with these subjects is already very widely diffused, and that one absorbs quite enough knowledge of them from boring circumjacent conversation. [LE, p. 38.]

327

GLOSSATOR 8
undeterred by the precisions of zoology it shall be you; those who falsify their reports as to the nature of man, as also to their own natures, as also to the nature of their ideals of this, that or the 33 other it shall be you; those who have nothing within them 34 differing from the contents of apes; those who, rather than liking
32 32

It would be manifestly inequitable to treat the ostrich and the polar bear in the same fashion, granted that it is not unjust to have them pent up where you can treat them at all. [LE, p. 42.] Sutherlands collage now continues from How to Read into the next essay in Literary Essays; the far earlier The Serious Artist, which was first published in The Egoist in 1913. Sutherlands sources are adjacent only through Eliots ordering of Literary Essaysthe essays follow no chronological progression and are grouped thematically. By allowing his collage to proceed across this arbitrary conjunction Sutherland is following a precedent set by Pound, who orders the patchwork of the Adams Cantos according to the volume divisions of Charles Francis Adams s tenvolume edition of The Works of John Adams (1856), thereby eschewing the smoother chronological progression of the preceding China Cantos. The Serious Artist employs the second person to greater effect than How to Read, feeding into the particular Poundian invective that Sutherland wishes to emphasise. It also broadens the front of attack to focus more fulsomely on the practicing artist as opposed to the ineffective educators that are the target of much of Pounds bile in How to Read, while the connection between medicine and aesthetics is also found here. 33 The Serious Artist: If an artist falsifies his report as to the nature of man, as to his own nature, as to the nature of his ideal of the perfect, as to the nature of his ideal of this, that or the other, of god, if god exist, of the life force, of the nature of good and evil, if good and evil exist, of the force with which he believes or disbelieves this, that or the other, of the degree in which he suffers or is made glad; if the artist falsifies his reports on these matters or on any other matter in order that he may conform to the taste of his time, to the properties of a sovereign, to the conveniences of a preconceived code of ethics, then that artist lies. [LE, pp. 43-44.] 34 The Serious Artist: We have the Victory and the Taj to witness that there was something within them differing from the contents of apes and of the other swinelike men. [LE, p. 45.]

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beauty, covet or make do with slither, sentimentalizing about beauty, and telling people that beauty is the proper and respectable 35 thing; those who seek the kind of art they dont like, who read the classics because they are told to, who aspire to good taste but do 36 not have it, who sham before a work of art; those who wish to be 37 slobbered over by people with less brains than they have it shall be you; the vulgus, genus aegrum or grovelling; shareholders in the 38 39 Marconi company; those who do not detest quackery; those of
35

The Serious Artist: Beauty in art reminds one what is worthwhile. I am not now speaking of shams. I mean beauty, not slither, not sentimentalizing about beauty, not telling people that beauty is the proper and respectable thing. [LE, p. 45.] We should perhaps also think of Pounds contemporaneous collage of early essays A Retrospect, where he argues for a future poetry austere, direct, free from emotional slither. [LE, p. 12.] 36 The Serious Artist: Also you are a fool to seek the kind of art you dont like. You are a fool to read classics because you are told to and not because you like them. You are a fool to aspire to good taste if you havent naturally got it. If there is one place where it is idiotic to sham that place is before a work of art [LE, p. 46.] Here Pound is approaching the nub of the aesthetic militancy that Sutherland is presenting in this work. The flattening effect of Sutherlands arrangement should be noted; insults crucial to Pounds aesthetic programme such as this are presented alongside comparatively offhand salliesthe waxing and waning import they hold in their original contexts is elided, perhaps after Whitman s vertiginous levelling out of the North American continent and his mountainous sense of his corporate being in Song of Myself. 37 The Serious Artist: Lots of people who dont even pretend to be artists have the same desire to be slobbered over, by people with less brains than they have. [LE, p. 47.] 38 The Serious Artist: The serious artist is usually, or is often as far from the grum vulgus as is the serious scientist. Nobody has heard of the abstract mathematicians who worked out the determinants that Marconi made use of in his computations for the wireless telegraph. The public, the public so dear to the journalistic heart, is far more concerned with the shareholders in the Marconi company. [LE, p. 47.] 39 The Serious Artist: The very fact that many men hate the arts is of value, for we are enabled by finding out what part of the arts

329

GLOSSATOR 8
defective hearing; the sloppy, inaccurate and negligent; 42 denizens of the fog and outer darkness it shall be you; the unserious who are the commoner brand it shall be you; those who 43 obfuscate the lines of demarcation it shall be you; those of insufficient intelligence to tell whether or not a person is in good health and who cannot spot the lurking disease beneath the 44 appearance of vigour it shall be you; those who endeavour 45 conscientiously to be great but are not great it shall be you; those who do not exercise perfect control, or who control only a thing they hate, to learn something of their nature. Usually when men say they hate the arts we find that they merely detest quackery and bad artists. [LE, p. 47.] 40 The Serious Artist: In the case of a mans hating one art and not the others we may learn that he is of defective hearing or of defective intelligence. Thus an intelligent man may hate music or a good musician may detest very excellent authors. [LE, p. 47.] 41 The Serious Artist: Among thinking and sentient people the bad artist is contemned as would contemn a negligent physician or a sloppy, inaccurate scientist, and the serious artist is left in peace, or even supported and encouraged. [LE, p. 47.] 42 The Serious Artist: In the fog and the outer darkness no measures are taken to distinguish between the serious and the unserious artist. [LE, p. 47.] 43 The Serious Artist: The unserious artist being the commoner brand and greatly outnumbering the serious variety, and it being to the temporary and apparent advantage of the false artist to gain the rewards proper to the serious artist, it is natural that the unserious artist should do all in his power to obfuscate the lines of demarcation. [LE, pp. 47-48.] 44 The Serious Artist: An intelligent person can usually tell whether or not a person is in good health. It is none the less true that it takes a skilful physician to make certain diagnoses or to discern the lurking disease beneath the appearance of vigour. [LE, p. 48.] 45 The Serious Artist: Obviously, it is not easy to be a great poet. If it were, many more people would have done so. At no period in history has the world been free of people who have mildly desired to be great poets and not a few have endeavoured conscientiously to be such. [LE, p. 48.] This paragraph marks the opening of the third section of The Serious Artist; Emotion and Poesy.
40 41

330

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that has in it no energy it shall be you; the mystificateurs it shall be you; whoever skimps paper or screws about like Tacitus to get 48 his thought crowded into the least possible space it shall be you; he who will never communicate with the greatest possible 49 despatch; those who do not develop beyond the yeowl and the bark into the dance and the music, but keep up their yeowling and 50 51 barking; those whose acorn does not yield an oak; the admirers
46 46 47

The Serious Artist: And Good writing is perfect control. And it is quite easy to control a thing that has in it no energy provided that it be not too heavy and that you do not wish to make it move. [LE, p. 49.] The subtle realignment of Pound s invective should be noted here; Sutherland exaggerates the corruscatingly negative aspects in Pounds style even when a certain amount of moderation enters into the source text. 47 The Serious Artist: And if one does not care about being taken for a mystificateur one may as well try to give approximate answers to questions asked in good faith. [LE, p. 50.] 48 The Serious Artist: Roughly then, Good writing is writing that is perfectly controlled, the writer says just what he means. He says it with complete clarity and simplicity. He uses the smallest possible number of words. I do not mean that he skimps paper, or that he screws about like Tacitus to get his thought crowded into the least possible space. [LE, p. 50.] 49 The Serious Artist (continuing directly from the previous extract): But, granting that two sentences are at times easier to understand than one sentence containing the double meaning, the author tries to communicate with the reader with the greatest possible despatch, save where for any one of forty reasons he does not wish to do so. [LE, p. 50.] 50 The Serious Artist: You begin with the yeowl and the bark, and you develop into the dance and into music, and into music with words, and finally into words with music, and finally into words with a vague adumbration of music, words suggestive of music, words measured, or words in a rhythm that preserves some accurate trait of the emotive impression, or of the sheer character of the fostering or parental emotion. [LE, p. 51.] 51 The Serious Artist: Also the prose, the words and their sense must be such as fit the emotion. Or, from the other side, ideas, or fragments of ideas, the emotion and concomitant emotions of this Intellectual and Emotional Complex (for we have come to the

331

GLOSSATOR 8
of Shelleys Sensitive Plant; those whose lamentations jiggle to the same tune as A little peach in the orchard grew and who do not 52 recover to write the fifth act of the Cenci, it shall be you; very 53 good marksmen who however cannot shoot from a horse it shall be you; those who poetize more or less, between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three; those who do not have much mind or 54 personality to be moved; those who go in for elaboration and 55 complication rather than swiftness and violence; the gorgers on 56 flummery and fustian; contemporary versifiers with their pests

intellectual and emotional complex) must be in harmony, they must form an organism, they must be an oak sprung from an acorn. [LE, p. 51.] 52 The Serious Artist: When you have words of a lament set to the rhythm and tempo of Therell be a Hot Time in the Old Town tonight you have either an intentional burlesque or you have rotten art. Shelleys Sensitive Plant is one of the rottenest poems ever written, at least one of the worst ascribable to a recognized author. It jiggles to the same tune as A little peach in the orchard grew. Yet Shelley recovered and wrote the fifth act of the Cenci. [LE, p. 51.] 53 The Serious Artist: I dare say there are very good marksmen who just cant shoot from a horse. [LE, p. 52.] 54 The Serious Artist: It is true that most people poetize more or less, between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three. The emotions are new, and, to their possessor, interesting, and there is not much mind or personality to be moved. [LE, p. 52.] 55 The Serious Artist: By apt use, I should say it were well to understand, a swiftness, almost a violence, and certainly a vividness. This does not mean elaboration and complication. [LE, p. 52.] 56 The Serious Artist:
La posie, avec ses comparaisons obliges, sa mythologie que ne croit pas le pote, sa dignit de style la Louis XIV, et tout 1attirail de ses ornements appels potiques, est bien audessous de la prose ds quil sagit de donner une ide claire et precise des mouvements du coeur; or, dans ce genre, on nmeut que par la clart. Stendhal And that is precisely why one employs oneself in seeking precisely the poetry that shall be without this

332

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and abominations it shall be you; those who lack technique because they do not do the thing they set out to do, who take three 58 pages to say nothing; those who have never seen a work of art because they are apt to want to buy the rare at one price and sell it 59 at another; those who do not acknowledge that their art, like the 60 art of dancing in armour, is out of date and out of fashion; those who do not write a poetry that can be carried as a communication 61 between intelligent men; those who do not know what one means
flummery, this fustian la Louis XIV, farcie de comme. [LE, p. 54.]
57 57

The Serious Artist: It is precisely because of this fustian that the Parnassiads and epics of the eighteenth century and most of the present-day works of most of our contemporary versifiers are pests and abominations. [LE, p. 54.] 58 The Serious Artist: As the most efficient way to say nothing is to keep quiet, and as technique consists precisely in doing the thing that one sets out to do, in the most efficient manner, no man who takes three pages to say nothing can expect to be seriously considered as a technician. To take three pages to say nothing is not style, in the serious sense of that word. [LE, p. 54.] 59 The Serious Artist: The person possessed of connoisseurship is so apt to want to buy the rare at one price and sell it at another. I do not believe that a person with this spirit has ever seen a work of art. [LE, p. 55.] 60 The Serious Artist: As for Stendhals stricture if we can have a poetry that comes as close as prose, pour donner une ide claire et prcise, let us have it, E di venire a ci io studio quanto posso... che la mia vita per alquanti anni duri.... And if we cannot attain to such a poetry, noi altri poeti, for Gods sake let us shut up. Let us Give up, go down, etcetera; let us acknowledge that our art, like the art of dancing in armour, is out of date and out of fashion. [LE, p. 55.] 61 The Serious Artist (continuing directly from the previous extract): Or let us go to our ignominious ends knowing that we have strained at the cords, that we have spent our strength in trying to pave the way for a new sort of poetic artit is not a new sort but an old sortbut let us know that we have tried to make it more nearly possible for our successors to recapture this art. To write a poetry that can be carried as a communication between intelligent men. [LE, p. 55.]

333

GLOSSATOR 8
by great art, for they do not know that one means by great art 62 something more or less proportionate to ones experience, it shall be you; those who make the grand abnegation, who refuse to say what they think, if they do think, and who quote accepted opinion, 63 and who are vermin, treacherous to the past, it shall be you; 64 those who sell defective thermometers to hospitals; those who are replicas of the editor of the Atlantic Monthly; the affable, suave and moderate, all of them incapable of any twinge of conscience on account of any form of mental cowardice or any falsification of 65 reports whatsoever; those who sin against the well-being of the
62

The Serious Artist: It is about as useless to search for a definition of great art as it is to search for a scientific definition of life. One knows fairly well what one means. One means something more or less proportionate to ones experience. [LE, pp. 55-56.] 63 The Serious Artist: The only really vicious criticism is the academic criticism of those who make the grand abnegation, who refuse to say what they think, if they do think, and who quote accepted opinion; these men are the vermin, their treachery to the great work of the past is as great as that of the false artist to the present. [LE, p. 56.] 64 Here Sutherland continues to the next piece collected in LE, The Teachers Mission, published twenty-one years after The Serious Artist, in the English Journal in 1934. This piece once more returns to the injurious influence of the educator, though here the boundary between writer and preceptor is blurred. Sutherland begins his quarrying in the essays first paragraph. If you saw a man selling defective thermometers to a hospital, you would consider him a particularly vile kind of cheat. [LE, p. 58.] Again, the link between medical cure and aesthetic authenticity is maintained. 65 The Teachers Mission: I am personally would not feel myself guilty of manslaughter if by any miracle I ever had the pleasure of killing Canby or the editor of the Atlantic Monthly and their replicas, or of ordering a wholesale death and/or deportation of a great number of affable, suave, moderate men, all of them perfectly and snugly convinced of their respectability, and all incapable of any twinge of conscience on account of any form of mental cowardice or any falsification of reports whatsoever. [ LE, p. 58.] Canby is Henry Seidel Canby, professor, critic and editor, as well as chair of the editorial board of the Book of the Month Club and

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nations mind; those of so humble a mind as to profess incomprehension of the criminality of lacking intellectual 67 interests, it shall be you; those whose personal vanity in reportage 68 remains unabolished; doctors who try to tell you that the fever temperature of patients from Chicago is always lower than that of 69 sufferers from the same kind of fever in Singapore, it shall be 70 you; the magazine blokes; the local practitioner who disdains to
66

therefore a figure of great influence on the habits of American readers. Pound also suggested that James Laughlin assassinate him. Ellery Sedgwick was the editor of the Atlantic Monthly in 1934. 66 The Teachers Mission: Is it clear to the teacher of literature that writers who falsify their registration, sin against the well-being of the nations mind? [LE, p. 58.] Sutherland is simplifying some of the (atypical) ambiguity implied in The Teachers Mission by eliminating Pounds question. 67 The Teachers Mission (continuing directly from the previous extract): Is there any reader so humble of mind as to profess incomprehension of this statement? [LE, p. 58.] 68 The Teachers Mission:
[T]he first step of educational reform is to proclaim the necessity of HONEST REGISTRATION, and to exercise an antiseptic intolerance of all inaccurate reports about letters intolerance of the same sort that one would exercise about a false hospital chart or a false analysis in a hospital laboratory. This means abolition of personal vanity in the reporting; it means abolition of this vanity, whether this writer is reporting on society at large; on the social and economic order, or on literature itself. [LE, pp. 58-59.]
69

The Teachers Mission: You would not tolerate a doctor who tried to tell you the fever temperature of patients in Chicago was always lower than that of sufferers from the same kind of fever in Singapore (unless accurate instruments registered such a difference). [LE, p. 59.] 70 The Teachers Mission: As the press, daily, weekly, and monthly, is utterly corrupted, either from economic or personal causes, it is manifestly UP TO the teaching profession to act for themselves without waiting for the journalists and magazine blokes to assist them. [LE, p. 59.]

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GLOSSATOR 8
make use of known prophylactics; those distinguished by mental laziness, lack of curiosity and the desire to be undisturbed, whose 72 habit it nonetheless is to be very busy along habitual lines it shall 73 be you; those whose erasers are in disorder; those whose 74 abstraction has spread like tuberculosis; those who are just lumps of dead clay clogging up the system since they do not wish to 75 distinguish the branches from the twigs it shall be you; those who transmit knowledge by general statement without knowledge of 76 particulars; those who fill the students mind with a great mass of
71 71

The Teachers Mission: The function of the teaching profession is to maintain the HEALTH OF THE NATIONAL MIND. As there are great specialists and medical discoverers, so there are leading writers; but once a discovery is made, the local practitioner is just as inexcusable as the discoverer himself if he fails to make use of known remedies and known prophylactics. [LE, p. 59.] 72 The Teachers Mission: The first symptom he finds will, in all probability, be mental LAZINESS, lack of curiosity, desire to be undisturbed. This is not in the least incompatible with the habit of being very BUSY along habitual lines. [LE, p. 59.] 73 Homage to Sextus Propertius I: We have kept our erasers in order[.] This line immediately follows the previous extract from Sextus, Out-weariers of Apollo will, as we know, continue their Martian generalities. [Poems & Translations, p. 527.] 74 The Teachers Mission: The disease of the last century and a half has been abstraction. This has spread like tuberculosis. [LE, p. 59.] 75 The Teachers Mission: Until the teacher wants to know all the facts, and to sort out the roots from the branches, the branches from the twigs, and to grasp the MAIN STRUCTURE of his subject, and the relative weights and importances of its parts, he is just a lump of the dead clay in the system. [LE, p. 59.] 76 The Teachers Mission: All teaching of literature should be performed by the presentation and juxtaposition of specimens of writing and NOT by discussion of some other discussers opinion about the general standing of a poet or author. Any teacher of biology would tell you that knowledge can NOT be transmitted by general statement without knowledge of particulars. [LE, p. 60.] The direction of Pounds interest in the connection of scientific and literary professionalism during the 1930s owes much to a growing interest in the writings of biologist Louis Agassiz, originator of

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prejudice and error; assistants in the successive dilutions; the hurried and usually incompetent; the dispersers and waterers 79 down; those who contrived to allow the idea of liberty to degenerate into mere irresponsibility and the right to be just as pifflingly idiotic as the laziest sub-human, and whose exercise of almost any and every activity has been utterly regardless of its
77 78

scientific racism and polygenisist. This is a new aspect to Pound s medicine/writing/education ideogram in The Teachers Mission that is not present in How to Read and The Serious Artist. The malaise in the academic community is inexcusable AFTER the era of Agassiz and the fishby which I mean now that general education is in position to profit by the parallels of biological study based on EXAMINATION and COMPARISON of particular specimens. [LE, p. 60.] The proximity of Pounds invective against the academics to his racial views at this point in his career should be remembered. He writes to E.E. Cummings in October 1939 that with moderation I think one <material> egg (as minimum) might well be heaved at EVERY lecturer, whether yittisch or brittisch or whoseeverbloody son in law he be. with we hope the benefit of baseball training beeforeheave whenever such lecturer try to git the boys over to yourup to fight for the interest on britisch loans, Das Leihkapital, Das WucherReich etc. [The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and E.E. Cummings, p. 140.] 77 The Teachers Mission: By this method [the Agassiz method] of presentation and juxtaposition even a moderately ignorant teacher can transmit most of what he knows WITHOUT filling the students mind with a great mass of prejudice and error. [LE, p. 60.] 78 The Teachers Mission: The whole system of intercommunication via the printed page in America is now, and has been, a mere matter of successive dilutions of knowledge. [LE, p. 60.] 79 The Teachers Mission: When some European got tired of an idea he wrote it down, it was printed after an interval, and it was reviewed in, say, London, by a hurried and harassed reviewer, usually lazy, almost always indifferent. The London periodicals were rediluted by still more hurried and usually incompetent New York reviewers, and their opinion was dispersed and watered down via American trade distribution. [LE, p. 60.]

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effect on the commonweal, it shall be you; displayers of 81 appalling, blameless simplicity; those who, because they do not direct the will toward the light, do not concurrently slough off 82 laziness and prejudice; those whose demand for the facts is not 83 inexorable, it shall be you; the human deadwood still clogging 84 the system; the saboteurs and suppressors of the searchers for 85 Truth, adjuncts to the pillar of infamy; those who do not abandon a false idea as soon as they are made aware of its falsity, or a mis86 statement of fact as soon as it is corrected; the treasonable and
80 80

The Teachers Mission: The idea of liberty degenerated into meaning mere irresponsibility and the right to be just as pifflingly idiotic as the laziest sub-human pleased, and to exercise almost any and every activity utterly regardless of its effect on the commonweal. [LE, p. 60.] 81 The Teachers Mission: The simple ignorance displayed, even in the English Journal, is appalling, and the individuals cannot always be blamed. [LE, p. 61.] 82 The Teachers Mission. In response to his notional editors question What ought to be done? Pound here introduces a series of pithy cures to the infirmity he has diagnosed, the second of which is 2. Direction of the will toward the light, with concurrent sloughing off of laziness and prejudice. [LE, p. 61.] 83 The Teachers Mission: 3. An inexorable demand for the facts. [LE, p. 61]. 84 The Teachers Mission: 5. A definite campaign against human deadwood still clogging the system. A demand either that the sabotage cease, or that the saboteurs be removed. [LE, p. 61.] 85 The Teachers Mission: Such suppression of the searchers for Truth is NOT suited to the era of the New Deal, and should be posted on the pillar of infamy as a symptom of the WilsonHarding-Coolidge-Hoover epoch. [LE, p. 61.] Note the relative openness of Pound to the New Deal here, a contrasting position to that that he would adopt in later years; in Canto LXXXVII Pound writes of The total dirt that was Roosevelt [Section: Rock-Drill De Los Cantares (1955). The Cantos, p. 584.], while in XCVII Pound plaintively enquires Will they get rid of the Rooseveltian dung-hill [Thrones de los Cantares (1959). The Cantos, p. 685.] 86 The Teachers Mission: A man of good-will abandons a false idea as soon as he is made aware of its falsity, he abandons a misstatement of fact as soon as corrected. [LE, p. 62.]

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dastardly who may yet well be charming on the surface but whose 87 fundamental perversion is damnable, it shall be you; those who are chosen for their sycophantic talents and not for their 88 intellectual acumen or their desire to enliven; those who consider 89 anything not from the 1890s as bumptious silliness; the pretenders who prosper by preventing contemporary ideas from penetrating the Carnegie library until they have gathered a 90 decades mildew or two decades mildew; those who let printed 91 inaccuracy pass unreproved; those who do not correct their 92 errors gladly; those who are ignorant and who therefore have no 93 criteria, it shall be you; those who say for the one-thousand-one87

The Teachers Mission: There are no words permitted in a polite educational bulletin that can describe the dastardliness of the American university system as we have known it. By which I dont mean that the surface hasnt been, often, charming. I mean that the fundamental perversion has been damnable. [LE, p. 62.] 88 The Teachers Mission: Some college presidents have been chosen rather for their sycophantic talents than for their intellectual acumen or their desire to enliven and build intellectual life. [LE, p. 62.] 89 The Teachers Mission: [T]he London nineties were maintained in New York up to 1915. Anything else was considered as bumptious silliness. [LE, p. 63.] 90 The Teachers Mission: [T]he pretenders, the men who [] set themselves up as critics and editors, still prosper, and still prevent contemporary ideas from penetrating the Carnegie library system or from reaching the teaching profession, until they have gathered a decades mildewor two decades mildew. [LE, p. 63.] 91 The Teachers Mission: The humblest teacher in grammar school CAN CONTRIBUTE to the national education if he or she refuse to let printed inaccuracy pass unreproved[.] [LE, p. 63.] 92 The Teachers Mission. Pound gives two pointers as to how the above contribution might be achieved, the second of which is: (B) By correcting his or her own errors gladly and as a matter of course, at the earliest possible moment. [LE, p. 63.] 93 Sutherland, still following Eliots ordering of Literary Essays, now moves on to the next piece in the book, The Constant Preaching to the Mob, another early essay, first published in the June 1916 number of Poetry, a squib which takes umbrage with the state of American letters and the blocking of a meaningful distribution of

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hundred-and-eleventh time that poetry is made to entertain; those whose statements are made to curry favour with those who sit at fat sterile tables, or are made in ignorance which is charlatanry when 95 it goes out to vend itself as sacred and impeccable knowledge; those who like to be flattered into believing that the lordliest of the 96 arts was created for their amusement; you, ut credo, a few buckets progressive literature and Poundian ideas. There is no use talking to the ignorant about lies, for they have no criteria. [LE, p. 64.] 94 The Constant Preaching to the Mob: [W]e read again for the one-thousand-one-hundred-and-eleventh time that poetry is made to entertain. [LE, p. 64.] The Constant Preaching to the Mob was written in response to an editorial in the March 1916 number of Poetry written by Alice Corbin Henderson that praised a lecture by John Masefield delivered to the literary department of the Chicago Womens Club [Poetry Vol. 7, No. 6, Mar., 1916, p. 302.]. Henderson describes Masefield touching on subjects that would have readily set Pound to print:
In speaking of the beginnings of English poetry, Mr. Masefield said that it was made by a rude war-faring people for the entertainment of men-at-arms, or for men at the monks tables; that at the time of the new learning the poets audience became divided into two classes, the lettered and the unlettered; and that in some sort the two classes had persisted until today. [Poetry Vol. 7, No. 6, Mar., 1916, p. 301.]
94

Pound quotes from and responds to this passage in The Constant Preaching to the Mob. 95 The Constant Preaching to the Mob. Pound continues his tirade against Henderson/Masefield: Either such statements are made to curry favor with other people sitting at fat sterile tables, or they are made in an ignorance which is charlatanry when it goes out to vend itself as sacred and impeccable knowledge. [LE, p. 64.] 96 The Constant Preaching to the Mob: Such poems [The Seafarer and The Wanderer] are not made for after-dinner speakers, nor was the eleventh book of the Odyssey. Still it flatters the mob to tell them that their importance is so great that the solace of lonely men, and the lordliest of the arts, was created for their amusement. [LE, p. 65.] These are the closing words of The Constant Preaching to the Mob and present Pound at his most provocatively elitist, perhaps at his least Whitmanesque though

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of water tied up in a complicated fig leaf, whose minds are circumvolved about you like soap-bubbles reflecting sundry 97 patches of the macrocosmos, our author dotes forever on 98 yourselves. the implicit comparison of these poets throughout Sutherland s piece mitigates for a rethinking of this contrast. 97 Sutherlands final excerpt from Pound returns to the beginning of the Americans critical career. It is taken from The Spirit of Romance, a book of lectures delivered at the London Polytechnic in 1909 and published the following year. The lectures would mark Pounds last move towards academic inclusion, as well as the first steps towards his mature criticism:
We have about us the universe of fluid force, and below us the germinal universe of wood alive, of stone alive. Man isthe sensitive physical part of hima mechanism, for the purpose of our further discussion a mechanism rather like an electric appliance, switches, wires, etc. Chemically speaking, he is ut credo, a few buckets of water, tied up in a complicated sort of fig-leaf. As to his consciousness, the consciousness of some seems to rest, or to have its center more properly, in what the Greek psychologists called the phantastikon. Their minds are, that is, circumvolved about them like soap-bubbles reflecting sundry patches of the macrocosmos. And with certain others their consciousness is germinal. Their thoughts are in them as the thought of the tree is in the seed, or in the grass, or the grain, or the blossom. [Spirit of Romance, p. 92.]

As well as providing a bridge between Pound s academic and antiacademic phases, The Spirit of Romance offers some insight into the development of Pounds scientific, materialist rhetoric from out of his abiding interest in the heightened sensations of the 1890s. The spasmodic, sexualised aestheticism of this extract reads like a spiced-up Pater, or like an Aestheticised Whitman, just the kind of thing that BLAST-era Pound would dismiss in Fratres Minores. The image here is also, however, thoroughly modernist in its denigration of the physical self and in its concomitant comparison of the person with white goods like electrical appliances, and thus somewhat a movement out of Song of Myself. We also see this interest in the frigidaire patent of the 1926, Person version of Homage to Sextus Propertius [See Poems & Translations, note to p. 538,

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l. 28.], a connection of importance to Sutherland s The Stats on Infinity that has been explored by Sean Pryor. [See his essay Some Thoughts on Refrigeration in the forthcoming volume Ezra Pound and Contemporary British Poetry.] 98 Immediately following the verse paragraph of section 24 of Song of Myself, that paragraph from which the title and epistrophe of In Memory of Your Occult Convolutions are drawn, Whitman continues:
I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious, Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy, I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish, Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship I take again. [The Complete Poems, p. 88.]

By finishing with the insistence that our author dotes forever on yourselves Sutherlands sottisier concludes with Whitman, though a Whitman reversed from myself-doting to yourself-doting.

WORKS CITED IN THE NOTES Deleuze, Gilles (trans. Paul Patton). Difference & Repetition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. Duncan, Robert (ed. Michael Boughn and Victor Coleman). The H.D. Book. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Henderson, Alice Corbin. Editorial. Poetry Vol. 7, No. 6, Mar., 1916. Kenner, Hugh. The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. Kindellan, Michael. Credible Practices: Whitmans Candour, Pounds Sincerity, Olsons Literalism. Unpublished D.Phil. dissertation, University of Sussex, 2010. Parker, Richard (ed.) Ezra Pound and Contemporary British Poetry. Bristol: Shearsman, 2014. Pound, Ezra. ABC of Reading. Faber: London, 1951. (ed. Leonard W. Doob). Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of World War II. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978. Guide to Kulchur. London: Peter Owen, 1952.

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(ed. T.S. Eliot). Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. London: Faber, 1954. (ed. Richard Sieburth). Poems & Translations. New York: The Library of America, 2003. The Cantos. New York: New Directions, 1995. The Spirit of Romance. New York: New Directions, 1968. Pound, Ezra and E.E. Cummings (ed. Barry Ahearn). The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and E.E. Cummings. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996. Ruthven, K.K. Ezra Pound as Literary Critic. London: Routledge, 1990. Sutherland, Keston. Stupefaction: A Radical Anatomy of Phantoms. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2011. The Stats on Infinity. Brighton: Crater Press, 2010. Terrell, Carroll F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Whitman, Walt (ed. Francis Murphy). The Complete Poems. London: Penguin, 1975.

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Richard Parker is an Assistant Professor of American Literature at the University of Gaziantep in Turkey. He is currently working on a book on American modernism in the 1950s 60s, as well as projects related to sports literature and the avant-garde, dialectical printing and Augustan animals.

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Glossator publishes original commentaries, editions and translations of commentaries, and essays and articles relating to the theory and history of commentary, glossing, and marginalia. The journal aims to encourage the practice of commentary as a creative form of intellectual work and to provide a forum for dialogue and reflection on the past, present, and future of this ancient genre of writing. By aligning itself, not with any particular discipline, but with a particular mode of production, Glossator gives expression to the fact that praxis founds theory.
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