There is very much to light up one’s brain in the 5th issue of the journal Crayon, this one entitled “on beauty.” Though I don’t entirely agree with some of the perspectives expressed therein, and though parts seem a bit arcane, or maybe a little sophistic, or beside the point, my overall response to the issue is a great kind of sympathy at how persistently so many of these writers swim through the ocean of negative capability that immediately tsunamis up when one tries to address beauty, that most contingent of all concepts. If I feel a little rueful reading this collection of essays, I suppose it’s because I wasn’t asked to try my hand at the task, or at least I don’t think I was, and I have the feeling that I might have been able to offer, well, a slightly different blind view of the elephant. Of course I still can, but that enormous task (tusk) isn’t what I’ll be attempting here today. Instead, because it’s a holiday, and I’m supposed to be lazy (we are not doing a turkey or a feast, therefore I must be lazy), just a pillowbook entry with quotes:
What stands out:
Andrew Levy’s introduction, “An unceasing image of hope and trouble with possible meanings of beauty” and poems (I blogged here years ago about a wonderful book of his, Ashoka)
Who are you going to read who will let you know everything you wanted to know about what that person thinks…?…..As in fell from Eden into an articulate speech revealing the relativity of techniques completely present and hearing shapes… (8)
There’s a loosening and gathering into sense, an erasure and inscription of sapient terms that melt in the leavening of one state to another.(9)
Away to me, pig
My life is a perfect plan,
but only for its duration (277)
Cecilia Vicuña’s poem essay K’isa/alangó
A vibratory disorder, an incantation bends time itself
That’s why in the Andes people say an image hears, a textile sees.
Julie Patton’s “Using Blue to Get Black,” a chromophiliac meditation on crayon names, color, and Blackness
Dim… so the black figures in this series involve blue to bring out the contours and highlight of all of those figures…definitely blue using blue to get black you know… I use blue to make a certain black…black that’s bluish… but anyway if you’re making black you would use a deep blue…ultramaroon…to get a richer black… (78)
Robert Kocik’s essay, Prosodic Body
In that poetry is made out of prosody, and in that it is out of prosody that the world emerges, I’d like to show that language makes itself out of poetry. (106)
If I’m anarchist espousing spontaneous organization yet write a regimented verse am I not defeating my purpose?
If I’m libertarian yet write with an overbearing, centralizing “I”, isn’t every sentence fraudulent? (110)
Through prosody’s pressure we yet float in a kind of amniotic fluid, in which sound travels 5 times faster than in familiar fluids. (113)
The main nemesis of the vibrant Prosodic Body is the Inert Body. (116)
Sawako Nakayasu’s essay, “Ants on a String”
If I imagine finding a work of art, or a poem, to be beautiful, it is hardly different from seeing something in the actual world that is beautiful, and in either case these moments are very brief. An example can be found in sports, team sports like hockey and soccer. The body moves faster than the mind processes everything, instead acting upon a confluence of present (the present circumstance) and history (all the practice, experience, everything, shaping and informing the current physical response. Improvised music and dance work this way as well, as an actualized manifestation of memory….
…and words contain this too – the layers of time and usage and context pile up together in your any given moment. (125)
Likewise with the cherry blossoms: the moment they arrive, they are on their way out, giving way to the greens of spring. (Love: I am heartbroken before it even begins.) (126)
Laynie Browne’s essay, “Gauging Beauty Standing Nearest to an Action”
A garden of errors is perhaps as lovely as a garden of pleasures. (141)
Peter O Leary “With the Oldest Cherubim of Knowledge”
Think, then, of your dynamic core as a harmonium whose afflatus expands & contracts by the millisecond, differentiating & integrating with each pump of the hand. The notes played on the keyboard are your thoughts – melodiously or inharmoniously sounded out. As each pump brings new air into the bellows, so the dynamic core makes novelty out of degenerated circuits. (194)
Alan Davies’ “bites from THIS IS THINKING”
I hate truth
Flock fuck garden moon.
And other plants.
Every human being is possessed of some erotic attraction, some ability to draw attention, to project a certain allure; I believe there is a kind of symbolic activity between sexuality and language, indeed stimulated and formed by both, an unconscious skill with explicit purpose.
– Botho Strauss, Devotion, as qtd. in Davies
Neoliberal Poetry, an essay by Chris Alexander, Kristen Gallagher & Matthias Regan, a wonderful cranky indictment of how what is wrong in our socioeconomic structure trickles down into what is wrong with our poetry. I agree with much of its crankiness, but look at this:
The problem is not to accommodate oneself to the poetry market, or even to create new markets, but to practice poetry as an occasion for exploring conditions of existence, inventing new ways of getting together, creating new possibilities for life.[sounds great so far] … To be a poet, we think, is not to identify with established approaches to poetry and the visible masks of the poet [OK, yeah, definitely, but then:], but to try to define and develop a better way of life.
“A better way of life”? They really needed an editor on that one. Such strong rhetoric and then suddenly, boom, this sort of 50s consumerist cliché? Odd.
Andrew Klobucar’s Terrifying Angels
Alan Prohm’s Form & Structure Reframed/ also his review of Gins & Arakawa
poems of Linh Dinh
Robin Tremblay McGraw’s review of Amnasan’s Liar
and more… and more… I’m getting tired of typing now. But if all this looks tantalizing, check out http://www.durationpress.com/crayon and get your own copy today!