Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mean Means Average

Two Bicycles

I love how the lingo of twentieth-century big science, all a-doozy amongst the earnestines, comes to invade the poetry circles. Everybody’s got they “project.” They “next” project. Manhattan Project, “lifework” project, same dish. (Wait for the next plausible monicker to out, the avant-garde taking its military nod seriously in the grim “age of hits”: the “operation.” Not as in “chance operation,” no—“Operation Big Chance,” or “Operation Fueled by Flowers,” or “Operation Wrong’d Narcissist.” “I’m in the midst of “Operation Blank Cartridge,” the going’s rough, though I should end up with a chapbook.”)

Splenetic fury and raw alcohol’s rendered the possibility of longevity in the Latta male something “post-miraculous,” a moot accountancy. Mostly we merge (fade) into the poplar-studded pre-coniferous zones of northern Michigan, all a-dangle with delirium and quake, just another pulpwood log about to make a low-grade paper product. In view of which (and having completed my first several major projects—the fever-stacked miscellany I call “churlishness on foolscap” is one, the drawer of South China Sea-smelling scraps called “junk-scribbles of a saphead” another), I embark on my final “projects,” cognizant of eventual and complete failure. I would ask for nothing more.

Epigraph for a book titled Against Ubiquity:
As if the passive page of a book, by having an epigram or doggerel tale impressed on it, instantly assumed at once loco-motive power and a sort of ubiquity, so as to flutter and buzz in the ear of the public to the sore annoyance of the said mysterious personage.
                                                        —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Epigraph for a book titled Mean Insects: My Coevals:
. . . in this AGE OF PERSONALITY, this age of literary and political GOSSIPING, when the meanest insects are worshipped with a sort of Egyptian superstition, if only the brainless head be atoned for by the sting of personal malignity in the tail!
                                                        —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Epigraph for a book titled N’oublie pas que je t’adore:
. . . eating of unripe fruit; gazing on the clouds, and (in genere) on moveable things suspended in the air; riding among a multitude of camels; frequent laughter; listening to a series of jests and humorous anecdotes, as when . . . one man’s droll story of an Irishman inevitably occasions another’s droll story of a Scotchman, which again, by the same sort of conjunction disjunctive, leads to some √©tourderie of a Welshman, and that again to some sly hit of a Yorkshire man; the habit of reading tombstones in church-yards, &c.
                                                        —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, attributing it to “Averrhoe’s catalogue of ANTI-MNEMONICS, or weakeners of the memory”

Epigraph for a book titled An Impudent Sauce:
Seeing a mackerel, it may happen that I immediately think of gooseberries, because I at the same time ate mackerel with gooseberries as the sauce.
                                                        —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Epigraph for a book titled Conjunctions Disjunctive:
There is a sediment indeed at the bottom of the vessel, but all the water above it is clear and transparent. The Hylozoist only shakes it up, and renders the whole turbid.
                                                        —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Epigraph for a book titled My Minutiae:
Thus the whole universe co-operates to produce the minutest stroke of every letter, save only that I myself, and I alone, have nothing to do with it . . .
                                                        —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Six books, and done, kaput. (Luckily, my concept of the universe, being that of one plucky six-sided tumbling die, six “booklength” books’ll do it—not for me the dull circular hell of the three hundred and sixty degree’d universal circular. Then again, I don’t work “a reasonably stressful 80-hour per week gig,” I need merely be present and upright at my desk forty hours a week—with ample hours to pose egregiously as “slacker in the stacks”—and any cockamamie scribbling I do is industry enough, and gravy . . .)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge