To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
.......................................again
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gematria (1): Seven in Dedication



For Edmond Jabès, in Memory

The desert
speaks.

[Desert = 246]


A Gematria for Jackson Mac Low

CHANCE

made it happen.

[Chance = 310]


3 Gematrias for John Cage

ROARATORIO (1)

A new
place.

ROARATORIO (2)

The leeks
& the fire.

ROARATORIO (3)

The magicians
return.

[Roaratorio = 625]


A Language Gematria, for Charles Bernstein

Divination.

Like the bed
in the firmament.

Language.

Our voice
& your eye.

Colors
limped.

The thick darkness
shall rule you.

Language
shall rule you.


3 Gematrias for Armand Schwerner

THE TABLETS (1)

Fearing
to give light.

THE TABLETS (2)

The moon
will choose.

THE TABLETS (3)

Sheol
in Sodom.

[The Tablets = 443]


2 Gematrias for Howard Norman

WILDERNESS (1)

They emptied it out.

WILDERNESS (2)

Your eyes
in the tree.

[Wilderness = 400]


Tens, for David Meltzer

Ten riches.
Ten fountains.
Ten wrestlings.
Ten cities.
Ten wonders.
Ten hairs.

Ten
& ten.

[From Jerome Rothenberg, Gematria, originally published by Douglas Messerli’s Sun & Moon Press in 1994. A revised & expanded version is scheduled from Mariela Griffor’s Marick Press in 2009 or 2010.]

A NOTE ON GEMATRIA

As a form of process-generated poetry, the gematria poems play off the fact that every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is also a number & that words or phrases the sums of whose letters/numbers are equal are at some level meaningfully connected. For myself these coincidences / synchronicities function not as hermeneutic substantiations for religious & ethical doctrines, but as an entry into the kinds of correspondences / constellations that have been central to modernist & postmodernist experiments over the last century and a half. The source for the poems, however, is limited to the first five books of the Hebrew bible, which adds a quasi-oracular tone to the resultant gematria-generated poems. In addressing a conference several years ago at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan – the topic there “the poetics of the sacred” – I commented on the terrifying, even spooky side of the topic in question & tied it to gematria, as follows: “Here I report my intuition, but it is an intuition curiously reinforced by a form of hermeneutic numerology from the tradition of Jewish kabbala. … This was used, not surprisingly, to substantiate accepted ‘truths,’ though there were times when the system (called gematria from the Greek) was used by the heretical and the heterodox to call the others into question. In following that system, then, I found that the letters in the Hebrew god-name aleph-lamed-vav-hey (eloha) add up numerically (= 42) to the Hebrew word bet-hey-lamed-hey (behalah), ‘terror, panic, alarm.’ That they also add up to kvodi (‘my glory’) only intensifies the problematic. In short, a way of making poetry. So, take it any way you choose. Where God breaks into what I write or think, it is the terror that admits him.” This spoken, of course, as a devoted non-believer.

3 comments:

Meg said...

What a waste of actual gematria.

However...you might be interested to know...one of the murderers of Dr. Khalifa has been brought in.

William James Tychonievich said...

I do something similar with English gematria.

http://wmjas.blogspot.com/2009/05/more-gemoetry.html

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing...
___________________
Julie
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