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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

On the way to a spark of the divine tiny fish eye

     Jung discovered in his descent into the psyche that opposites comprise the unconscious. When neurosis unbalances us, consciousness carries some of these opposites in conflict with their counterparts in the unconscious. Treatment amounts to gathering into consciousness the opposites split between conscious and unconscious so that we suffer consciously what before warred interminably between our conscious reason and our unconsciously derived symptom, our conscious resolve and our unconscious compulsion…
     On the way to such expanded consciousness, moments arise in the field between analyst and analysand that illumine the reality that holds us in being. We are transplanted to a depth where we see the radical congress this reality conducts with us. We still keep mindful of the tasks of analysis…But alighting it, making an entry through this ego work is a spark of the divine come into the human, a tiny fish eye in the vast dark of the cosmos, that yields glimpses of unending light existing there in the depths and in the heights all the time. One is moved to act in surprising ways. – Ann Ulanov

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Poetry: a model or a theory of the person

When we describe a poem as having a “speaker,” or as giving “voice” to a person, we are not assuming anything about what a person is. Rather, we are taking the artifice of voice in the poem to offer something like a model or a theory of the person, or even a pedagogy of personhood. In its orchestrations of perception, conception, and affect, a poem elaborates upon or expands the possibilities of what a person can see, think, and feel. Through its constructive work with the sound and matter of language, the poem gives shape to the concept of the person who can think, say, and make these things. Likewise, it has often seemed intuitive to see poems as fostering recognition and solidarity between persons. As public objects, poems strive to make their ideas or conceptions of personhood perceptible and durable – if not always immediately legible – to others. In their scoring of the voice, or in their stretching of the word beyond or beneath the horizons of ordinary speech, they produce opportunities for readers and hearers to extend and expand their sympathies, and to identify even the most baroque utterance or repulsive sentiment as the testimony of a fellow mind. – Oren Izenberg

Monday, July 2, 2018

The giant in the window

I thought, on the train, how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes + barrens + wilds. It still dwarfs + terrifies + crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. His gardens + orchards + fields are mere scrapings. Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless. – Wallace Stevens

Friday, June 1, 2018

Virtuosity with language is not enough

Virtuosity with language by itself is not enough for poetry. A poem has to sustain a strong connection to the suffered world, and any intelligence that dares call itself poetic needs to be penetrated and informed by the life of the emotions. The ego must be breached by the fire and flood damage of experience. At the same time, plaintive wailing will not suffice. Successful poems have grace and vivacity - sometimes even power - of language, mobility of mind, and I think not a straight­faced, deadpan earnestness, but a brave freedom of feeling. – Tony Hoagland

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

French Pleasure & American Pain

     Both Barthes and Derrida understand the great seriousness of pleasure, the profundity of pleasure. We generally think of pleasure as being Q.E.D. superficial or transitory. They understand that pleasure is the most profound of human experiences. If literature is to be profound, then the text must be a kind of pleasure – just as the flesh of your beloved is profound. That’s what makes marriage, or any kind of friendship, sacred. Because there is pleasure. Auden had that great line, “My friends, people I like, I like for different reasons, but everyone I love, I love for the same reason – they make me laugh.”
     We have to re-adjust our understanding of pleasure. I admire and revere Barthes and Derrida for the seriousness with which they treat pleasure. Their understanding of the pleasure of the text is nothing flippant or irreverent, but really a form of reverence. We should approach our pleasure with reverence, which we seldom do in this country. We approach our pain with reverence. We revere our suffering. A lot of people think contemporary French writers are flip. That’s because the French are revering something we perhaps haven’t the maturity to revere. – Donald Revell

Monday, April 2, 2018

“They Knew What They Wanted” by John Ashbery

They all kissed the bride. 
They all laughed. 
They came from beyond space. 
They came by night.

They came to a city. 
They came to blow up America. 
They came to rob Las Vegas. 
They dare not love.

They died with their boots on. 
They shoot horses, don't they? 
They go boom. 
They got me covered.

They flew alone. 
They gave him a gun. 
They just had to get married. 
They live. They loved life.

They live by night. 
They drive by night. 
They knew Mr Knight. 
They were expendable.

They met in Argentina. 
They met in Bombay. 
They met in the dark. 
They might be giants.

They made me a fugitive. 
They made me a criminal. 
They only kill their masters. 
They shall have music.

They were sisters. 
They still call me Bruce. 
They won't believe me. 
They won't forget.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The experience of contact

Poetry is most deeply a way of doing philosophy – not as mere juggling of abstractions, but as lived and felt experience. This is how the twentieth century avant-garde used it, as a way to construct and inhabit a worldview. Ancient Chinese thought is a crucial influence driving the innovations of that tradition – and it makes perfect sense, for the Taoist/Ch’an conceptual framework represented a fuller and more coherent account of the radical insights that were ripe for realization in the West. And like China’s ancient artist-intellectuals, that avant-garde took contact as its central concern, certain that only in empirical immediacy was it possible to achieve authenticity in living, and clarity in who and where we are.

Contact, the primacy of the immediate: it is not such a difficult idea, but in terms of actual experience, the stuff of life and poetry, it is a difficult lesson we must learn over and over. Contact itself is unsayable precisely because it lies outside all concepts, but…poets, each in their own way, guide us to the experience of contact. They show us new ways of being alive to the world in the tangible here and now. And from that beginning point, they explore the implications of that elemental experience, most importantly a different sense of self-identity: Thoreau’s who we are. This line of poetic thought represents a lived form of deep ecology, the “rewilding” of consciousness. It involves ways of knowing ourselves outside of received Western assumptions; and so, not surprisingly, it is often informed by other cultures, especially ancient Chinese and primal cultures. Hence, the poets in this innovative tradition establish consciousness as wild each in their own way, together creating their own wilderness: “the wilds of poetry.”

Central to this for most poets is the way they push language into wild forms in various ways: organic and open-field, breath-driven, text-interspersed with fields of open space/silence, fragmentation and collage. Language is the medium of thought, essence of self-identity, so by rewilding language they rewild identity. And it makes sense this rewilding often takes place in the context of wilderness, where the cocoon of human culture is absent and the vastness of the Cosmos is most dramatically and immediately present. As a philosophical instrument, poetry is especially powerful because it can operate in that wilderness, open experience to the silent depths outside of language and thought, reveal areas of consciousness outside our language-centered day-to-day identity. Prose can talk about this, but poetry can enact it through its reshaping of language. It can create wild mind as immediate experience for the reader. 

– David Hinton

Thursday, February 1, 2018

"Chicken Bucket" by Jennifer Knox

Today I turn thirteen and quit the 4-H club for good.
I smoke way too much pot for that shit.
Besides, Mama lost the rabbit and both legs
from the hip down in Vegas.
What am I supposed to do? Pretend to have a rabbit?
Bring an empty cage to the fair and say,
His name's REO Speedwagon and he weighs eight pounds?
My teacher, Mr. Ortiz says, I'll miss you, Cassie,
then he gives me a dime of free crank and we have sex.
I do up the crank with Mama and her boyfriend, Rick.
She throws me the keys to her wheelchair and says,
Baby, go get us a chicken bucket.
So I go and get us a chicken bucket.
On the way back to the trailer, I stop at Hardy's liquor store.
I don't want to look like a dork
carrying a chicken bucket into the store —
and even though Mama always says
Never leave chicken where someone could steal it —
I wrap my jacket around it and hide it
under the wheelchair in the parking lot.
I've got a fake ID says my name's Sherry and I'm 22,
so I pick up a gallon of Montezuma Tequila,
a box of Whip-Its and four pornos.
Mama says, That Jerry Butler's got a real wide dick.
But the whole time I'm in line, I'm thinking,
Please God let the chicken bucket be OK.
Please God let the chicken bucket be OK.
Please God let the chicken bucket be OK.
The guy behind me's wearing a T-shirt
that says, Mustache Rides 10¢.
So I say, All I got's a nickel.
He says, You're cute,
so we go out to his van and have sex.
His dick's OK, but I've seen wider.
We drink most of the tequila and I ask him,
Want a Whip-It?
He says, Fuck no — that shit rots your brain.
And when he says that, I feel kind of stupid
doing another one. But then I remember
what mama always told me:
Baby — be your own person.
Well fuck yes.
So I do another Whip-It,
all by myself and it is great.
Suddenly it hits me — 
Oh shit! the chicken bucket!
Sure enough, it's gone.
Mama's going to kill me.
Those motherfuckers even took my jacket.
I can't buy a new chicken bucket
because I spent all the money at Hardy's.
So I go back to the trailer, crouch outside
behind a bush, do all the Whip-Its,
puke on myself, roll in the dirt,
and throw open the screen door like a big empty wind.
Mama! Some Mexicans jumped me!
They got the chicken bucket,
plus the rest of the money!

I look around the trailer.
Someone's taken all my old stuffed animals
and Barbies and torn them to pieces.
Fluff and arms and heads are all over the place.
I say someone did it,
but the only person around is Rick.
Mama is nowhere to be seen.
He cracks open another beer and says,
What chicken bucket?

Well, that was a long a time ago.
Rick and I got married
and we live in a trailer in Boron.
We don't live in a trailer park though —
in fact there's not another house around
for miles. But the baby keeps me
company. Rick says I'm becoming
quite a woman, and he's going to let Mama know that
if we ever see her again.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A family example of coming to peace

The Coming to Peace process provided a forum for the siblings to explore their relationship to their father’s death and the effect that not being allowed to speak about it had on them. Over several weeks, the roots of their animosity toward each other were unearthed. Each person was not only dealing with their own grief and anger over the situation, they were also trying to push the others into seeing things their way.

The storm of anger and willfulness that occurred as the siblings tried to distribute their mother’s possessions was masking the anger and confusion each had experienced as a result of her addiction. It turned out that her addiction was likely in response to her husband’s death. Unfortunately, her children were forced to deal with that along with the loss of their father and the taboo of speaking about him.

Until all the layers of suppressed and repressed experience and the misalignment of will through anger and grief were brought to light, there was no hope of reaching a resolution of their mother’s estate. Over several sessions, the family worked hard to resolve these issues and came away with a level of peace about their father’s death and their mother’s alcoholism that they had not believed, or even understood, was possible.

What began as a simple mediation session to help five siblings distribute their deceased mother’s possessions turned into an unexpected exploration and release of long-held hurts and misunderstandings. This layering of experience is not unusual and is often underlying disagreements. That’s why it is so important to engage in a process like Coming to Peace where participants are given the space and structure needed to dissect disagreements completely. It’s also worth noting the vital role that taking personal responsibility for examining ourselves has on the resolution process. Once the Martinellis began objectively reviewing their intentions and underlying motivations, their resolution and healing processes gained momentum.

Sometimes we resist taking responsibility and properly aligning our will because we fear we will be rendered powerless, particularly when we are sourcing our power from a negative emotion like anger. Janet, Mark, and Lucas had aligned themselves with their anger, and this caused them to lose sight of what was really going on at the core of the family conflict. To remain clear sighted, we much fight the urge to run from our fear. And when we engage in the process of realigning our will, we effect peace both within our relationships and ourselves. The stark truth is there can be no peace for anyone – individuals, couples, families, or communities – if those who are in conflict refuse to look at themselves honestly, take personal responsibility, and realign their will in a way that is positive and invites peace.

To fully understand our experience as humans, we much understand all the negative emotions housed within us, because they have something very important to tell us about the ways we have separated from our essential nature.

- Isa Gucciardi

from http://amzn.to/2lEgLTa