Sunday, June 27, 2004

Having a child is such an amazingly lot of work, you can’t imagine. But for all the books I haven’t read, I remember the feeling—awful, really—of when Jonah was born and our eyes met—in the process of his birth actually, he half in and half out, stuck for several seconds by his broad shoulders—so, the feeling of eternity split, a vision of it, around our met gaze, the tunnel of it—and he still tethered, unbreathing—and that moment the precise sensation and conviction that, whatever novel I was of, I was the protagonist no longer. And our gaze still!—then he was born, and I dropped to blubbering for some good minutes on the couch. Of course I didn’t know my illness was already well-advanced.
So anyway, the books I haven’t read read like a litany of quietness in my mind, chapters of a book I no longer occupy. I can’t call it exile, and maybe not homecoming and, I bet eventually, I will see, not even as decisive as all that. There is no continuity like breathing, and I still am. Not that I ever was the protagonist of a novel, so the revelation that I no longer was was only a truth, no change; but terrible nonetheless. Eternity and all that. I guess what I’m saying is it made me feel real, which I don’t know if I’d ever felt before.

As for Spicer: he's wild. Everyone has those poets they know they should have read but haven't yet, and he's one of mine. Or was. The 'Imaginary Elegies' really open up--well, a lot. They float from one thing to another, the same thing. Love, eternity, poetry, always on the verge of collapsing into mundane mumbling but so truly sublime, and drawn from somewhere deep. And floating from one thing to another but always the same thing, like watching a soul reincarnated into different body/ideas. It's the feeling I get from certain real poetries--the most clear was watching Hamlet at the rebuilt Globe in London, in 2000 (on the lam from the Joyce conference)--the sensation was of watching a soul scintillant in a flame, talking out of it its truest essence as had exposed itself on earth once perhaps or perhaps never. Shakespeare's soul? Something uncanny, Mark Rylance played an exquisite prince. Anyway, the feeling of permanent transmutation was piercing--and while Spicer is so different in temperament and tone from the prince, the quiddity of existence is at home in these lines. And in such a familiar way.

And ^Moby-Dick^, now half-way through (the shark frenzy just passed) and it feels more like Dante's thief-level (the one with the legged serpent wrapping itself around a man, and they switch bodies etc) and Macbeth than I remember. The fear of the spheres is manifest in a zero-sum world, where something else must die for another to exist. Sublime as Plotinus (or was it Longinus? my mind is so unreliable when I get tired) meant it, unheimlich more perfect than Freud envisioned--this is an American home, and something to do with what I began on in an earlier post, regarding mechanization, I will tie into this explicitly one of these days.

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