Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hold Still : Keep Moving. Drones and the Human: What We Know and Don't; Figuring towards Clarity

One moment:  Fog.  All morning:  Fog.  Yet "all morning" negates day's unfolding--made of parts of seconds--and makes morning something less than awareness in an instant will forgive and celebrate.  In fact, it's still morning.

What was blanked-out earlier is "all clear" now.  Two dimensions have given way--unfold into unfold--to four (at least four!).  How quickly nature changes. . . .  And I am writing like an old man by saying so!

Earlier I was reading about Ginsberg's clarity--or long journey towards clarity (sometimes never finding it, exactly)--when wanting to confront something (see The Allen Ginsberg Project, curated by Peter Hale).  Surprisingly (for Allen always had something to say about anything, it certainly seemed to me), Ginsberg stated he was "[still trying to figure it out]."  This "still figuring" reminds me a bit of Allen's friend Robert Frank's photographic "figurings" sometimes populated by words.  In one Frank photograph, the words "Hold Still" are juxtaposed by "Keep Going".  A couple of decades ago a choreographer used the words "Still/Here" to express what would unfold in dance (/Life). [A moment to search, to scan--you might say, brought the quick revelation & reminder:  Bill T. Jones. This was Bill T. Jones' work.] These manifestations of figuring--themselves in obvious flux--have been helpful, I think, for the honest understanding and permission they state and offer as reminders.

Following this line of understandings, and the manifestation of "figures" we establish in the act of tending to some fact or imagined, dreamed, layered aspect of reality (themselves "facts" of themselves too), I found this link to a discussion about Williams (WC).  Williams being one of my favorite topics, and poets, I was pulled toward this statement, made by Williams himself by way of an introduction to his "massive" book, Paterson:

In his prefatory notes to the original four-book Paterson, Williams explained:
"that a man himself is a city, beginning, seeking, achieving and concluding his life in ways which the various aspects of a city may embody—if imaginatively conceived—any city, all the details of which may be made to voice his most intimate convictions."

 I had passed a "Rutherford Rd." while driving in my home county, in Vermont, and I got to thinking about Williams' Rutherford again.  I had always associated him more with Paterson, NJ, and here was this Rutherford--which I knew, I knew of course, was the doctor's home.  What is it about home that helps a poet? what is it about sanctuary--for a rural dweller, as I am now, or for a city dweller? and what is it about the things we figure, composing them, in the act of solitary (more or less) engagement with the world?  Less so now with Twitter and Facebook and the internet in general, maybe we feel we are roaming the surface and circuits of the earth (Google Earth! Map Quest! live feed! etc.!) and therefore engaging with a wide and varied world from--as the doctor Williams felt--our own versions of Rutherford Road.  (I use Rutherford Road here as a stand-in for Williams' actual street, and for each of our more GPS-exact locales.)

If, as William Carlos Williams saw, an individual is "a city, beginning, seeking, achieving and in ways...a city may embody" there is no reason why we cannot be manners of globes, eyes in the universe, roaming.  And like Allen Ginsberg, whose HOWL was less a rant and declaration if we include the "other poems" that made that volume--serene, funny, wondering, figuring--we allow that even poetry (concise as it is "meant" to be!) roams, through our language, through a mass of layers of clear and not clear.  It's all a matter of figuring, and letting ourselves--one and another; each other--figure in public, as a sort of sweet candor (sometimes sour, sure--).

I was thinking about a succinct way to justify (or "describe"?) my drone poems (indeed the whole book, including the "other" poems).  All this figuring helped.  (But to identify every part? would it take a chef hours and a lifetime to explicate the history of a meal, tastes, ingredients?)  And then I realized that like Williams' human being as a city American Drone may as well represent a human being as drone.  And what does this drone see? what figurings lure, transpire? what receives attention--and when, urgently or still in some slumber of malaise, job, expectation? where do we diverge? how is your screen unlike or like mine? which threads do we strand or shred together? what "reveal" do I leave, like live evidence, "like" living itself, some "history" of my mission--and accomplishment?

As Ginsberg said Kerouac told him, "walking on water wasn't built in a day."  So, too, drones were not built in a day (for better and for worse).  But as we try to "figure it out," as we try to construct and display and achieve "clarity," we--being humans--are likely to take a lot in, in our attempts to be present to the parts of each minutes to every day.  Hold Still.  Keep Going.  Still Here.