Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Gumbo, a Gazette

Truck and Signal

Aimlessness staunch’d. (One is inclined to continue drifting, unanchor’d by the niggardly quotidian. Up to the point that all things wash out into a seamlessness, a smudge of no particulars.) Memory (of a week or so) distills out into particulars lacking context—a landscape of no intent. (What historiography is, is a frame.) A great crested flycatcher high in a poplar. The Anishinaabeg Nam vet study-mounting a Monarch butterfly, using a handmade system of cut Styrofoam spreading board and emery stick slats. The yellow-bellied sapsucker swooping in, thunking the maple. The three dollar houndstooth check pants, pleat’d, in the St. Vincent de Paul’s. Ammiel Alcalay: “After a number of years working in and on cultures, languages and bodies of writing that have been neglected or marginalized for a variety of reasons, it is quite clear to me that writing which isn’t read and absorbed by other writers into the possibilities of their own work is destined to remain just another consumable item, as easy to laud as it is to discard. Once commodified, such work is also neutralized and loses almost all its transformative or political power. And by political I also mean the effect any event can have on consciousness itself, one of our most primal forms of self-governance.” The stillness of the Eastern bluebird on the cedar fencepost, dusk. The 1902 schoolhouse in the cedar swamp along the Sturgeon river, dark parallel lines of a dozen or so brook trout hanging in the pond’s water in a pocket about the spillway. Stories of the Métis culture, smoking pipes of kinnickinnic. Reading in Tom McCarthy’s Tintin and the Secret of Literature about Joyce’s Wake-jotted “corrective unrest” (“that is, a general need to keep making corrections”) and persisting (post-correction) on seeing in it: “connective unrest” (aimlessness, unmoor’d, arising out of seeing’s refusal of relation). Michel Serres, quoted too therein: “Multiply the detours, mediations and codes . . . and you lose the treasure along the way. Who steals it? The pie, of course, the chatterbox, that is the excess of language itself.” Meaning the magpie, hoarder, gazetteer (gazette, n. “a derivation from gazzetta, dim. of gazza magpie, is not impossible). Donning the beekeeper’s white overalls and mesh-facing’d hood, marching out to the hives to the tune of Close Encounters. Warlock in interrupt’d snatches. Tim Atkins’s Horace: “Owing to a shortage of cocaine, / I turned my back on public life / And live in Market Harborough / With Robert Lowell’s widow, Caroline / / 50 Gauloises after Ezra / A pound of lip up fatty / And an anecdote featuring / Mein Kampf / / . . . / / I joined the school of quietude / & ended up with a beard, / Scones, towelling, and the flying day fixed. / Jeremy we could have done worse.” Mauberley’d up Horace (“Odes II / 28”) with a pinch of Housman.

Great Crested Flycatcher
(Photograph by Marlene Cashen)