Thursday, October 7, 2010

Looking For Gnats in a Pot

A title most apt, and yet slightly ironic as I did go down into the living room and kitchen this morning to see if I might see some sign of gnats in a big old pot we have by the window which has some sort of rubber tree or other elephantine plant, but the thing was given to us, so I don't know its name exactly. And is ironic correct? I never know, and perhaps I shouldn't dwell here at all, but I did go from gnat-huntin' to stack-stalkin' without so much as a step. Niggling perhaps, vaguely wanting to be in some club or other, or to attempt to short-circuit the niggling field as presented in its ghostly contours like a torso, or maybe just to have a certain kind of shirt to wear, as in the former evening, the wife and I went strolling at Northpark mall as there was some small item we desired for the toilette, a luxury item, a shower scrub with a scent perhaps, at any rate, I was drawn to the Lacoste store first, and then to a display of custom made artist's slip-ons at the Vans store, although I much preferred the grey suede Vans desert boots, looking utterly svelt, and giving me visions of eloquently constructed Torkers and PK Rippers with anodized turquoise aluminum cranks and brake levers, etc.. Once knew an incredibly stylish BMX teenage dandy from Lawton Oklahoma whose bikes were always so crisp, so matching, all the labels removed, like sculptures. I would race him in Seagoville at the track with the tunnel. I broke a boy's collarbone there in a mid-air collision where I got the better end of the accident only having to straighten out my handlebars before continuing on while he lay there writhing in the dirt.

Enchantment. Like the look of a wasp, or a spider, can have it's own peculiar and innocent "evil."

And my mind almost embarrassedly turns back to yesterday's crude discussion:

And I don't know all the references to this, but I have seen things about the problematical and perennial debate about subjectivity and personal response in and around both poetry and art. We all have aesthetic sensibilities, and at this point after nearly 100 years of an anti-aesthetic tradition within the arts, who can possibly tell the difference between the two?

Well, sometimes not knowing still has the structural pivot needed for an event, and where better look for such a thing than in Shakespeare, and what exactly to look for? We're looking for applicabilities, I should think. Here is something from Willard Farnham's The Shakespearean Grotesque: Its Genesis and Transformations, from a section called Diabolic Grotesqueness:

One is reminded that the earlier Shakespearean grotesque can set itself against the love that soars but does so in a way not at all like the sinister way of Thersites. It does so notably in Romeo and Juliet. The Nurse in that play in one of the company of the unknowing grotesque, like the Hostess of the Boar's Head. She realizes little of what she does on occasions when she hinders the soaring of love.

Now didn't that almost sound like poetry? 

[...] unknowing grotesque, 
like the Hostess of the 
Boar's Head. She realizes little 
of what she does 
on occasions when she 
hinders the soaring of love

She can even think
she encourages it.

and then:

Of course, when Mercutio turns grotesque 
he is knowingly so and is well aware 
of what he does as he puts a check 
upon love.

But both he and she check love
and yet serve its cause
as they do so.

And I absolutely adore this quote from Mercutio, especially as it reminds me of one of the pieces I have on display at the Fort Worth Community art center whose opening is tomorrow! Here is the quote. Farnham says that Mercutio is without malice and even shows a grotesque amiability when he will have it that love is a drivelling fool, 

'a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole'

Mercutio is then said to be love's friendly enemy.

But this just occurs to me as being an iconism, Isn't it "mercuriality" itself which is being expressed?

Well let's continue this, by moving from love as a lever on poiesis and aesthesis to Cannibalism!

I was published in Cannibal in the Spring of 2009, and my poem was bookended by two oddly great poems to my mind, one by Christopher DeWeese and one by Janaka Stucky.

The Christopher DeWeese poem was entitled

Tax Holiday

The entire town is sleeping
or putting riot gear on,
you might say blooming
in new ways to celebrate,
walls built over traffic lines.
My heart turns numerous,
butter at a certain temperature,
and my porch gets bigger
when afternoons laze away there
like ice cubes.
Birds between my organs
sing me into shaking.
Outside my brain, leisure draws
bears inside the topiary!

So are time and substance, pleasure and leisure checking ideology? Is
the 'great natural' lolling as on a porch? I think so.

And Janaka Stuckey's wonderfully pop-sinister-comedic  sensitivity
rings true as well:

Family Portrait

The scalpel a pen I use
To draw incisions just above 
your collar bone

(my aside: your caller bone? hmm:  contentious!)

When you is
My old man inside my drawing I will find
Mein Kampf and flying saucers
A rope from Frisco to Dehli
Dinner with LaVey

(my aside Timothy or Anton? oh pardon! Mc Mc sorry, Oi!)

If you is
My mother my drawing will be
Jewelry of chicken bones
Black turtle necks and heroin addiction
Your mind bending all our forks and spoons

Jennifer my drawing
Of you a fossil
Cork and button in violet light
Gene Kelly Frankenfurter sprouting from
The bloody deathmatch in your heart

And my son my daughter my drawings of you
Will be unimaginable
An end to drawings
The heavy pen

                                      Will be
                                      Will be

What an amazingly Shakespearean ending!!! An end to drawings?
Is this the Utopian Grotesuque writ at its penultimate brilliance?
I am left stunned and wordless there. Though maybe it's just run of the mill,
not to me. I am a sucker for using "pen" as a symbolic pivot. Just utterly
gets to the point so to speak.

But there is something of the former century's elan in both these works

Birds between my organs
sing me into shaking.
Outside my brain, leisure draws
bears inside the topiary!

sounds like something out of Andrew Mangravite's translations of Saint-Pol Roux
which is something I had looked for for years and was so glad when @tlas came out
with something, although I wish they left in the French version as well.
Here is Roux's 

Do you notice that echo with the Tax Holiday poem by DeWeese?

The entire town is sleeping
or putting riot gear on,
you might say blooming
in new ways to celebrate.

These are all what might be called "formally grotesque"..

In other words what is checked and what is soaring are confus-ed, and / or co-mingling..
Is that it? 

Come see the May asparagus dance in the silvery twinkle of your malign regard.

Well, to be fair, sometimes
one prefers

Brussel sprouts
to asp-air, Oh Gus!
Brittle puns, and other ones, 

from Asp's air to Apollo's heir;

Now did Apollinaire and 

Saint-Pol Roux know each other?

Here is another something one might call dark, or might call 'formally grotesque' according to our little lesson from Farnham. This is from Apollinaire's The Poet Assassinated and it's just a kiss:

All do not love you you lie
Palantila mila milie
When he was lover of the queen
He was king since she was queen
              It's true it's true
              That I love you
At the bottom of the pit oh might

                 It be him

Gather sweet marjoram

                 At night  

That pit is the hole in Apollinaire's own skull, the one 

that disturbed and ended his love, though what the girl's name was 
would have to be found in something like Roger Shattuck's The banquet years: the arts in France, 1885-1918: Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, Erik Satie, Guillaume Apollinaire, Doubleday, 1961. I love quoting this bit from Wikipedia as well:

He fought in World War I and, in 1916, received a serious shrapnel wound to the temple. He wrote Les Mamelles de Tirésias while recovering from this wound. During this period he coined the word surrealism in the program notes for Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie'sballet Parade, first performed on 18 May 1917. He also published an artistic manifesto, L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes.


But who will tire easiest? hmm.

Formulas. Thinking of everything-

It's strange but, the phrase

reminds me of a poem by John Latta (whose last name I adore by the way, and I usually spell it Latte')

but here's the poem anyway, and you'll have to forgive me John for not asking to quote it. 

This is from a work called Rubbing Torsos:

Now to my mind, here are some excellent examples of the formal grotesque, or perhaps of one thing checking another, or of narrativity at odds with itself, and then that thing found to be a form of humor. But the echo is true I think to Les Mamelles, especially the line

"I feel like Venus with a penis!"

But it is the wonderful line:

Fell into an ornery space

that might signal a whole genre of poetics and or arts activities which I think I want to be a part,
or maybe even apart, depending! :)

I've always used "Eccentric Space" as a kind of hat-hook for my own work, but "ornery"
seems so much better suited, and seems 

way far down the ladder, down into us barely lit idioms and ffolkes, etc..
And the line

Fly coursing in skewed zeros

brings us right back to start of this piece. Skewed zeros? hmm. Things which are
empty but through their "skewing" seem full? What is grotesque beauty? and why is it
different per se, than formal beauty, or the formal grotesque? Is thingness an ornery manifold?

What is a Thing of Beauty? It's a moot question, but it is the single question, perhaps,
that unites all the doctrines, and may perhaps lie at the center of the vortex of all human
problematrices! (Nice one, old grey!) At any rate, here is something from Jackson Mac Low
from the recently published Thing of Beauty

And what this allows me to do, or rather, to follow that, I would like to show one more page, and this is from Albert Camus' An Absurd Reasoning, and it sort of makes a bridge to a sort of justification for a process of philosophical thought involving the formal grotesque. If there is no correct measure, no comparison for a history of life known elsewhere, then isn't there at least a place for this Ornery Space, This dialogue on the absurd carried out by any, and every one of us Jellybean Weirdos w/ Electric Snake Fangs? hmm?
We've only seen OURSELVES? With that in mind, what is possibly normative about anything here? 

Want a pluot?
Looking For Gnats in a Pot?