Thursday, January 24, 2013

Whitman's Radicalism

All the subtlety and wisdom of Whitman's language...seem like accidents befalling a genial carpenter or fireman or popular journalist. Here is Whitman's radicalism. It is a matter of voice, rather than of ideas. When Whitman spoke, there was no institution supporting him, not even that invisible institution that is an agreed-upon tone, a place on the spectrum of roles. Despite the radicalism of Emerson's philosophy, he was instantly recognizable - whether speaking from a podium or in his essays - as a man of refinement and education. But with Whitman, one couldn't be sure. Maybe he didn't really know what he was doing. Maybe his exquisite poems were really accidents. If so, he might very well be the new kind of man he claimed to be, more in touch with nature than the rest of us; offering in his person and in his poems (an actor and his text?) the spectacle of a man saved from the duplicity of culture, as a saint in former times offered the spectacle of a man saved from the Fall. - Paul Zweig

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"A Mexican Guitar" by Frank O'Hara

Actors with their variety of voices
and nuns, those arch campaign-managers,
were pacing the campo in contrasting colors
as Jane and I muttered a red fandango.

A cloud flung Jane's skirt in my face
and the neighborhood boys saw such sights
as mortal eyes are usually denied. Arabian day!
she clicked her rhinestone heels! vistas of lace!

Our shouting knocked over a couple of palm trees
and the gaping sky seemed to reel at our mistakes,
such flashing purple insteps and careers
which bit with lavish envy the northern soldiers.

Then loud startling deliberation! Violet peered,
hung with silver trinkets, from an adobe slit,
escorted by a famished movie star, beau idéal!
crooning that dejected ballad, "Anne the Strip."

"Give me back my mink!" our Violet cried
"and cut out the heroics! I'm from Boston, remember."
Jane and I plotz! what a mysteriosabelle!
the fandango died on our lips, a wintry fan

And all that evening eating peanut paste and onions
we chattered, sad, of films and the film industry
and how ballet is dying. And our feet ached. Violet
burst into tears first, she is always in the nick of time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything. - Walt Whitman

New research continues to emphasize the importance of mind wandering for learning. It turns out that not paying attention is one of the best ways of discovering new ideas. Reading books, whether silently or aloud, remains one of the most efficient means of enabling such errant thinking. As our bodies rest, our minds begin to work in a different way. New connections, new pathways, and sharp turns are being made as we meander our way through the book, but also away from it. There is no way to tell if anyone is actually paying attention anymore as I read, including myself. This seems to be one of the great benefits of reading aloud, that you can think of something else while you do it. We may be holding the book together, but our minds are no doubt far apart by now. The fairy tale is the first story of childhood because it tells of such leaving behind (parents and home), of entering the dreamscape of the woods - and the mind. It tells of the crooked path of change. How can one know where reading books ends and dreaming in books begins? - Andrew Piper

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Letter from Pound to Eliot

Why dunt you NEVER talk TURKEY
                                                   I don't mind earning the rent, but whazz use of a letter all full of irrelevance. If I interrupt the flow of soul, life of reason, luminous effulgence of internal mediatation, stop playin tennis against Palmieri and in general lower the TONE of the tenor of my life, I gotter be PAID.
                                                   Why don't you say / will you do IO quid worth of hack work?
                                                   I mean if that's what you do mean. and say how many pages of typescript is necessary to keep the goddam M. 1 Econome from shaving off the last 8/ and 3d. I take it all I gotter do is to talk about Britches, not necessarily read the ol petrification?
                                         so DO be specific / Rabbit Britches indeed!!!
                    whaaar he git the plagazization of Rabbit aza name ANYHOW//
and as it we. stop my doing an article already begun on three blokes that aren't yet mortician's, I spose I cd. be aloud to make an occasional confronto between Britches' dulness and the serious unreadability of a few blokes that would write if they could, but at any rate don't pretend, like the buzzardly [lacuna]
proposed title of the article
                              Testicles versus Testament
           an embalmsamation of the Late Robert's Britches.
all the pseudo rabbits / Rabbit Brooks, Rabbit Britches / whot-ter hell / your own hare or a wig sir???
I spose I can cite the what I once said of Britches?
I managed to dig about IO lines of Worse Libre out of one of his leetle bookies. ONCT.
and then there iz the side line of Hupkins / couldn't you send and / or loan. In fact the pooplishers OUGHT to donate a Hup-kins, and the Pubkins LETTERS so az to treate Britches properly.
bak ground for an articl that wen't be as DULL oh bloodily as merely trying to yatter about wot be WROTE
Something ought certaintly to be done to prevent the sale of Oxford Press publications / thaaaar I AM wiff yuh.
and now getting to BIZNIZ / whatter bout that vullum of ez/?
who iza sleeink in THAT.
       and PUTSCH to the last degree. . . .

- Ezra Pound in Rapallo writing to T.S. Eliot in London in 1936 in response to Eliot's invitation to contribute an article on Robert Bridges to The Criterion.