Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Provincetown Arts Magazine and Che: A Novella

I want to thank Chris Busa and Provincetown Arts magazine for writing about the novella in the "Buzz" section of this year's issue. Busa selects a section of Che's text and describes the novella as "a hybrid of poetry, fiction, and cultural commentary. Some moments offer startling insight into how language itself can expose fresh thoughts." And Che is in extraordinary company: Nick Flynn (The Ticking Is The Bomb [Norton], Another Bullshit Night In Suck City), Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm and War), Nicholas Meyer (The Day After and Star Trek II and IV), and Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States) all appear in the same "Buzz."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Giving The Grammazons Some Love: Clark (& Shea) on the Grammar of Effect and Intent

Waves bringing in the full moon high tides as we approach midnight on this spit of land/sand/island, with the force of Mailer and O'Neill and Hofmann and Motherwell. . . and into this I welcome the Whitmanic joy and defense of language in sense and exuberance: Ammon Shea's description of Roy Peter Clark's The Glamour of Grammar, to celebrate our motives and intuitions (I still find it hard to excuse the use of the hyphen as a dash--for it misses the length of the breath by the minus of it; so, driftwood, be raft more than fragment; rope instead of snip). Here's what we mean:

The visual nature of word-space-punctuation not only contains reference but leaves an impression, suggests--linguistically--allusion, acts--itself and in juxtaposition--as metaphor. . . and as potential. The grammar is as much past as it is present and potential. The Greek/Pound's three-fold reasoning ought to still hold here: Does the structure have a music? Does the structure have a logic? Is there enough about the structure that feels new? And do we guide the reader in making sense as much as the reader must accept a new measure of rhythm and threads of logic that seem found--frayed or whole--in an entirely new land?

Roy Peter Clark writes, according to Ammon, the relaxed "grammar of purpose, a grammar of effect, a grammar of intent. . . [that] gives you a little push and says, 'Go, go, go.'" Ammon Shea: "Clark wholeheartedly endorses breaking the commandments that make no sense, as long as in the breaking the writing itself holds up": in the progress of our evolution we question "rules that have little influence on the making of meaning" (Clark feels).

In other words (or: in words): "encourage. . . more joy."

Go out and voyage, my friends. The language is ready, and sensual.

"Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,"
--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Message in the Bottle: Analogy of Tides, Traps, Teasing -- And This Poetic, the flight & song of being (the contexts of text, ontology of word--)

So, in cleaning out a section of my barn—the one mice declared their feed and dumpster—I found, again (one of the loveliest phrases to me: found, again [nearly as winning as found, anew]:—here the comma enters a little sorrow, a vague-knowing surprise, a lot of “epiphany” at the anticipation of one’s next breath), I found again old things that meant so much: The Message in the Bottle, writings by Walker Percy. I say “writings” as much as “thinkings”—and as much, in this way, as the ontological act fused in language . . . or expressing oneself as vital as blood, as necessary as “job,” as central as courage, conviction, personality and sense of self. As essential to the bird as flight or song.

At the same time I found things that meant so much, once, but had to be thrown away—without a thought. There was thought, even contemporarily. Attachment had to be severed.

Some things survive, others go the way of compost—and then survive newly. To sever attachment is what Walker Percy says to me when he urges himself to think of metaphor as a natural happenstance, the coincidence or irony, sleight of hand or “mis-”/understanding of language. What lingers in one ear bears. What got left out by apostrophe indicates—even an absence.

That a record player is called a “seabird” by its users, but was itself a product of the Seeburg manufacturing company, is a matter of sublime translation. That a text “becomes” an animal that will not immediately sit (the cat [who] circles your lap before it curls to rest). The eyes & ears of individuals love and yearn in gears greased with their own oil. Who knew such baby’s breath would become such force of will, declaration—if by innocence or empowerment, authority or audacity. “Misreadings”—Walker Percy thought—offer “the regular experience of that heightened, that excited sense of being which we find in poetry.”

Walker Percy suggests the “prolonged analogy” that Aristotle and Dante were inclined to use, a subtle kind of metaphor over a mixed geography of words instead of what has become a pill of instant cunning. The prolonged analogy is the work of the poem but it is also the work of storytellers, epics, a band’s “lp” recording, dances and imagistic films, the sum and parts of visual works of art, and—partly because their sum is an accumulation of parts: the novel if, at its base and in the force/being of every word, the language unfolds in the innocence of first discovery. . . or anew.

Percy: “the action takes place among the common things of concrete experience and yet yields an analogy”—“by the very thingness of the action” (which brings us back to William Carlos Williams, naturally, and the role of poetry in everyday language).

This considered, “Sentences refer to different worlds.” (1.522, “A Triadic Theory of Meaning” [Walker Percy]).

The message in the bottle is not the comprehension of a statement only, it is—as well—the experience of the entire vessel and passage, the finding, the uncorking, the amazement of ratio of air/moisture amid the fact of its existence, the unfathomable minute by minute journey by tides/traps/teasing, the wet sand as fellow passengers, the sheen of your own reflection in the bow of glass—looking “into” the artifact of assumed words, a creature within an astronautical womb, a context emerging in the imagination. A set of circumstances that constituted a moment in a life—and now another moment, breathing, configuring, a tongue to the mind in a passage of time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The "story" is in the language. . ./ And we begin in "rain" (noting, now, that important moment in Fahrenheit 451)

I read my novella anew today: "You like the rain?" the book-burner conscript Montag retorts, as if to offer an irrefutably universal dislike to the inquisitive teacher Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451--as if rain, to the annoyance of everything, clearly follows its own course (and therefore to no good. . . ). . . as if liking that which we cannot control would be crazy; --as if giving-in to something whose nature amounts, contributes, and does not at its base reduce or destroy is a form of weakness? Or do we disavow the barriers enforced to contain us? "You like the rain?" he cites as if to seal any argument for liking rain. Yet Clarisse's joyful reply is as loose as rain, "I adore it!" So now Che and this moment come to language in common. (Che begins with rain.) I had not realized it, but this was the fitting note to begin a textual revolution.

If I may, the story is in the language.