Monday, April 18, 2005

The woman who runs our family daycare is on vacation in Florida this week, so there's little time for anything but the usual responsibilities and readings as various as possible of Eight Silly Monkeys and The World Book. But I realized that I had forgot to post here that I accepted at Berkeley last week; the money finally came through, and so that's where we're going, a fact about which I haven't even the slightest sense of what-if or regret or worry (plenty of time for that later). I think it's the best place for us and for me as a person, a poet and student.

The semester's coming to a close and we're capping my Cont. Amer. Poetry class with The End of Beauty. There seems to be a good deal of antagonism and faint praise toward Graham here in blogland, sometimes more toward Graham the person but also toward Graham the poet, by people I deeply respect, so I hope to make my case for why this book and Materialism stand in my mind as two of the best works of the last twenty or thirty years. To tell you the truth, I'd never thought of Graham as an Ashbery imitator, as Jonathan Mayhew has suggested, and so I've been considering that as I read. Right now I'm thinking that whereas Ashbery seems to resign himself (resing?)-- sometimes wryly and sometimes jovially-- to indeterminacy and the futility of ideation, Graham sees it as a much more terrifying proposition, accepting it, but also allegorizing the urge to work against it in the figure of Orpheus. To my mind, she gives me cause to consider the dark side of the indeterminate and the open-ended, the violence that accompanies the destruction of held beliefs and assumptions. For me to tell a fairly entitled kid from Scarsdale that the self is an illusion means one thing, means that all of the things he considered as his birthright were put into place around him, and as such don't truly belong to him. Such work is valuable. But to say the same thing to a fourteen-year-old junior high dropout selling dope at the intersection of Pico and Hoover might be a brutalizing or dehumanizing gesture, not to mention unappreciated. It's difficult to quote Graham, as her poems have such a cumulative effect, but here goes:

a place which is a meadow with a hole in it,

and some crawl through such a hole to the other place

and some use it to count with and buy with

and some hide in it and see Him go by

and to some it is the hole on the back of the man running

through which what's coming towards him is coming into him, growing larger,

a hole in his chest through which the trees in the distance are seen
growing larger shoving out sky shoving out storyline

until it's close it's all you can see this moment this hole in his back.

More on this later. The other good news is that Karl Parker was hired to teach at Hobart and William Smith next year. It's a great match, for the students, the faculty, and of course, for Karl. It makes me happy to think that the rich, punning chatter in the 123 annex will cotinue in my absence. Lots of fun for everyone involved. I'm really going to miss the department and HWS in general. I may never find a place as warm and familial.

No comments: