Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I have decided

outside of what I've been doing--placing a .txt copy of each of my posts in an appropriate offline folder-- that in spite of the inevitability of the structuring of canons by individuals and groups of individuals, I favor saving as much as can reasonably be saved. Why? Because canons, whether they are compendiums arrived at by popular acclamation or by the aesthetic stance of this one / that one / these / those, cannot be other than interesting introductions, and because the course of every human's death journey is of value beyond any vaunted canonicity. Death begins at birth. Therefore, death is the only life worth living. Thus one should try to live for as long as one rationally can since it is not possible to know what engendering encounters will occur before that moment one actually dies. To be clear: I am not against canons or manifestoes or explications. Interesting introductions are fine by me. I have several such in this blog's Poetry Oases section. My barriers are these: 1) a general openness which dissuades me from adopting a method other than what emanates from the thing being made/ even when I have chosen beforehand/ the form of that thing/ because words are wicked wonders/ often having designs of their own 2) as widely as I have read, over the years I have drifted in and out of realms pertaining to poetry, and so have read less widely in those realms than I otherwise would have 3) I have an above average intelligence which only on occasion, and then only through diligent effort, have I been able to ratchet above 140, and so my memory is weak and likewise my spatial recognition abilities 4) emotions seem to direct my choices more than do common and not-so-common logics, although rational thinking is not foreign to me. These days there are so many makers of poems using so many different styles and languages, I doubt any one person could get through that cornucopia, and the robots cannot be trusted. Back in the 1980s when I was into poetics, mathematics, and market analytics all at the same time, Derrida's strong deconstruction position effectively ended my curiosity about those approaches to literature. To me it seemed he was not only deconstructing others but also himself, to which the only proper response was laughter. Recently I have been reading (possibly rereading) Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition, a complex, provocative delving into where humans have been, are, and are heading. On page 255 of the Doubleday Anchor edition I own is an insight that may seem too obvious today, but which I think merits repeating: "The seen tree may be real enough for the sensation of vision, just as the dreamed tree is real enough for the dreamer as long as the dream lasts, but neither can ever become a real tree." Poets and scientists can refine and refine how they depict realities of atomic substance by means of their envisionings, and I would suggest the more angles of vision the better, but those realities will continue to be bark-on, wave-whacking, wind- dervishing incomprehensible. That is the sadness and that is the joy, and that is the truth and the beauty of it. I don't care how compellingly this Era of humanity draws us to irony and satire, the persistence of natura naturans, the ongoing, tells us transcendence remains. Language itself is an eminent example: meaning created out of nothing. Swing the side of your fist against what we call a "tree" and you might come back calling that object an "uuh". So who were my literary progenitors? Who cares. But the answer is: anything and anyone. Sure I was influenced by him and her and her and him somewhere along my journey. Being as I am easily influenced, even now I am being influenced; but I still wend my own way. Heck, Ron Silliman's The New Sentence influenced me, but not in ways he would have thought possible. You see, just like all others who enjoy interacting with words, I draw from the happenings around me and the happenings in my mind. You've read one or two of my poems and did not like it (them). That's okay. I'm inexhaustible--ha ha. Look for me in the cracks in your walls. Rho00140


William Michaelian said...

Inspiring entry. I haven’t read The Human Condition, but the quote you give reminds me of this one from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?

brian salchert said...

Thank you for the compliment and the quote, William. Blake is one writer I haven't explored deeply.

William Michaelian said...

I especially like his Proverbs of Hell, which are part of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. You can read them here, along with my “annotations.”

brian salchert said...

Took your "here" wand
and read Blake's Proverbs
and your annotations.

Years ago I did something similar
in my copy of W. S. Merwin's
Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment.
They are now one of the sets in my
Sets book, which is over at

Doing such, as your annotations evidence,
is freeing and enlightening.

William Michaelian said...

Ah-ha — it took me a few minutes, but I found your Accompaniments: Where There Is Room page. I’m not familiar with the Merwin book, but I especially like these poems:

“As I Just Said”
“Mt. Tamalpais”
“The Sands Between My Toes”

And by writing in the book, which is something I never do, it seems you’ve created a little treasure in the process.

Thanks for reading the proverbs and annotations.

brian salchert said...

Thank you for this comment.
Though it didn't enter my mind
exactly as it now is, "Child" was
written when Janice and I were
briefly residing near Boise, Idaho.
I was employed at a small motel in
Boise, but that area is high desert
surrounded by mountains, and I couldn't deal with the pollution.
Will go back today and reread the
ones you liked. What moved me to
write poems in Merwin's book were
the white spaces beneath most of
his poems there and his book's title.
I never did place poems beneath all
his poems, even where there was
room to, a fact which is actually
good/ because mine are an
unfinished accompaniment to his.

brian a j s said...

2008-10-31: The page link in
comment 5 is officially dead as of
today. The new link is:
hub for Awtir
which is in Sprintedon Migrasaurus.