Archive for February, 2013

 

I heard a radio playing in Westminster

a blowy dappled day in March

 

‘Radio, radio, will you tell me the weather,

I must know if I am to marry tomorrow?’

 

–          I will tell you who plotted, who hid, who died;

I will not tell you the weather, it said.

–          I will tell you a tale to make your toes curl,

and another to make you despair, it said,

but not the weather.

 

‘Radio, radio, your music’s the music of my life;

your rock n roll, Motown, the life I know.’ I said

 

–    You’re the kind of man we like on our station:

dependable, a follower. Yes, you’ll get a mention

on the late night news amongst the dead.

But I will not tell you if you are to wed.

 

‘Radio, radio, I’ll turn on the telly, I will!’

I said, ‘I’ve wide screen, cable, satellite dish;

I’ve four directional speakers,

with woofers to make you spin on a finger!’ I said

 

‘I’ll not ask you again, now tell me the weather!’

 

And just as the weather was being read

three rendition flights flew overhead, I said,

‘If that’s the tone of the wedding, I’ll think again.’

–     You’ll go ahead. the radio said.

 

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Poem reponse to narrowness

Posted: February 16, 2013 in Chat
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There are three of us together here

the window, myself and the garden

as if we are one, a looking moment.

The same light falls on each

though differently.

 

The garden readies itself for the Spring surge;

a bird-shaped smudge on the glass – blackbird

or hawk? prey or predator? –

throws the hue of old hydrangeas through

the whole spectrum, as that old owl

Newton named it.

 

I am blinded equally by colour

and clear air, in wintry sun –

it confuses and exhilarates

with its profusion; its commentary

adding textures that contextualise

everything.

One of the first Philip K Dick novels I read was Lies Inc, initially published in 1966 as The Unteleported Man. I was immediately hooked.

1

The one image of the many I want to bring to mind, is that of the means the inhabitants of Whale’s Mouth, NewColonizedLand, used to scuttle earth’s colonisers.

For those who do not know the story, it is set far into the future. Lies Inc is an organization intent on creating a quiescent population. They do this by continually bombarding people’s minds telepathically with a feedback of personal memory mixed with inconsequent thought. The person cannot distinguish an original thought, or follow a through-line. They can conduct relatively easy tasks but are unable to question authority to any disruptive level.

The original inhabitants of Whale’s Mouth could not challenge the colonisers technologically so they picked up on Lies Inc’s techniques. The formed themselves into books; they comprised the life stories of whoever the readers were, and full of instantly recreated memories of the readers; most importantly, took the readers up to the present moment. The effect was that the readers became so enthralled in their own life story, a ‘take’ on their own life story, they became caught in a solipsistic loop, incapable of further action.

2

This image has so many repercussive parallels in our culture. Do we see here the attraction of the soap opera, of the highselling magazines? The hook is in the ability to describe the life, making coherence out of the jumble of impressions, half-resolved tensions, aspirations based on rickety superstructures, the half-understood, and the ignored detail. But is it the ‘real’, the ‘true’ or even the ‘valid’ story?

This also is dialogue, with the protagonist of the book, and the antagonist of the memory. The book ie autobiography, as a memory-place. Memory-places are essential to us: our house, apartment, car even is a memory place. We decorate and ornament all with our own or combined personal effects. We live within mirrors, we feel comfortable there. It is not our image pleases so much as what we effect: that we can trace our place in time and space with these designs and objects.

Another way of seeing this is in our use of chiasmus, a device of two parts that relate to each other intimately. They relate either antithetically or sequentially: they parallel each other either inversely or directly. But they have a crossing point, a connection. You can find chiasmus in everything we make. Take music: listen to the patterning of counterpoint; but importantly the structure of a fugue by Bach; a symphony, even. Listen to the arch structures of Bruckner’s later works. There is the setting up of structures of phrases and musical relationships, and there is the restatement of key phrases and structural elements, changed perhaps, but only within the parameters set up in the first part. It is everywhere in architecture.

Our reasoning uses the same structures: think of dialectics. It is a form of two parts, intimately related: it sets up a tension, an interrogation, as in music, and holds it in harmonic relation. Think of the basis of argument, discussion.

Think of Shakespeare (if you must!). His Sonnets are full of struggle and tension. The root cause of this tension is the structure: he posits an argument, a statement of being, then complicates it with antithesis. The form, the Sonnet, is his resolution, a form that exists outside the personal world of the self; it is a statement of the tension, but not the thing itself: an artifact, that has its separate existence. This theme is another major theme through the Sonnets.

In his early plays we see him use chiasmus prodigiously; in Love’s Labours Lost it is a great piece of language-furniture. The form then goes through variation and development in the Sonnets, to emerge in the later plays as a major structural element. Look at MacBeth: both Lady M and M set out from antithetical positions, then diverge as events draw them, to end up in opposite camps. The language of MacBeth himself is full of chiasmi that express his feeling of entrapment within a structure of act and retribution: ‘Foul is fair, and fair is foul’. Contra-diction, frustrated movement, entrapment, one commentator states; MacBeth is ensnared by his reason, and what options it gives him; he has no way out.

From chiasmus to ring: is this from dialectic’s thesis and antithesis, to synthesis? Is the ring-structure that of the syllogism? It is still a trap, a gilded cage. If we look at the pioneering work in neuro-phenomenolgy of Professor Dan Lloyd we see similar forms: the sensory input, and the brain’s mapping create a back and forth response (as he puts it a ‘recursive recession’) that maps our body in space: the mind’s space. It is the superstructure of consciousness. We are forever trapped in our images that are and are not ourselves.

I have become very wary of dual-option thought: yes-no; this or that; up or down, Conservative-Labour. Think of the Matrix: this reality, or that one – that’s all, folks!

I want a way of thought that works on multiple bases and results in multiple possibilities. I want a way of thought more in tune with a multiverse, that allows more options.

There is a greater harmonic out there to tune to.

Time to move on, folks.

Mallarme’s Mirror

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Chat
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To be disembodied is to be emboldened

to allow that face he could not own

a maliciousness, that, admit it,

only life loves.

 

Highlights on nose, forehead, chin;

the lights of a man cluster like bees,

the molecules and atoms of the fact of him,

a writhing of idea with facility….

To be an eye sees in whilst looking out,

the room, reversed, opens within his face:

table, window, a white deal chair with pipe,

irrevocable in their positioning,

nouns sounding darkly in space….

 

A purposefulness appalling in its purposes,

a gorgeousness for so cheap a display:

this mirror ornately framed for mere glassiness.

So little of him left in its laid-bare room;

he is gloss on glass, the room’s order reporting

every thought-lapse from its purpose as a room.

Is it the glass construes him

from ornamentation, reporting his trespass

to Lords of Lapses, who lift

bears muzzles to the mirror, to that hive

of clustering lights?

 

Provence night swallows the neighbouring olive of Tournon;

stars whirl within his own frame,

the Great Bear treading the gas-light’s glare to fix

itself in him, a starry distortion of him….

Then if that beast should set in, say Fiji, Tahiti –

the impossible Gauguin of him – what would remain?

 

A mirror. And a maliciousness

that shatters light. A yellow radiance breaking through,

clothed in clustering admonishments

of light, to re-create him in oils of light,

breaking his root in that room altogether until

yellow fades to white and he is cleansed

even of that, runs clear and pure through

unwritten literatures of light.