To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Haroldo de Campos: from Galáxias, 2 poems & an author’s note


begin to release and realize life begins not arrives at the end of a trip which is why i begin to respin to write-in thousand pages write thousandone pages to end write begin write beginend with writing and so i begin to respinto retrace to rewrite write on writing the future of writings's the tracing the slaving a thousandone nights in a thousandone pages or a page in one night the same nights the same pages same resemblance resemblance reassemblance where the end is begin where to write about writing's not writing about not writing and so i begin to unspin the unknown unbegun and trace me a book where all's chance and perchance all a book maybe maybe not a travel navelof-the-world book a travel navelof-the-book world where tripping's the book and its being's the trip and so i begin since the trip is beguine and i turn and return since the turning's respinning beginning realizing a book is its sense every page is its sense every line of a page every word of a line is the sense of the line of the page of the books which essays any book an essay of essays of the book which is why the begin ends begins and end spins and re-ends and refines and retunes the fine funnel of the begunend spun into de runend in the end of the beginend refines the refined of the final where it finishes beginnish reruns and returns and the finger retraces a thousandone stories an incey wince-story and so count of no account i don't recount the nonstory uncounts me discounts me the reverse of the story is snot can be rot maybe story depends on the moment the glory depends on the now and the never on although and no-go and nowhere and noplace and nihil and nixit and zero and zilch-it and never can nothing be all can be all can be total sum total surprising summation of sumptuous assumption and here i respin i begin to project my echo the wreck oh recurrent echo of the echoing blow the hollows of moreaus the marrow that's beyonder the over the thisaway thataway everywhere neverwhere overhere overthere forward more backward less there in reverse vice verse prosa converse i begin i respin verse begin vice respin so that summated story won't consume consummate saltimbocca bestride me barebackboneberide me begin the beguine of the trip where the travel's the marvel the scrabble's the marble the vigil's the travel the trifle the sparkle the embers of fable discount into nothing account for the story since spinning beginning i'm speaking

[Translated from Portuguese by Suzanne Jill Levine (from a basic version by Jon Tolman)]


i close conclude echo here i stand here i stop zero done i don't sing i don't tell i don't want i night i unspring rid myself in the end of this book in this flighti soar spider and fly mineral and mine string in tune a psaltery muse nomorenomore i play out of tune i played fair i played right in this thirst i unsalt i unstart i conclude enclose myself in the end of the world the book ends the bottom the end the book the fate no trace remains no sequel no game of checkers or chess hopscotch blindman's buff ticktacktoe the world ends the book ends love unfeathers and fades the hand moves the table turns truth is the same as lies fiction filament of shears and lyre and the entire mind filled with sapphires and motherofpearl missing the mark singing the bird inside where his song is in tune and his blade more a tongue while the tongue more a blade here i split bay and voice a knotless point against the grain where i sang no more i sing where the summer i make winter a trip turnaroundtrip goingbeyond i echo i don't tell i don't sing i don't want i unbound my book my note-book mirrorbook of mine say of the book that i write in the end of the first book and if in the end of this one another is already messenger of the new the last since even in the first is done slavescribe inkpotman monster old gay storyteller of baloneylegends here you end here you collapse cave in abracadabracrumble open sesame sevenstars each of the sevenkeys sealing near to you next to you next to nothing youvoice youthreevariants your gay science oldplusold teller of words of fibs of proverbs hum of voices you resist false wolf-crier sharp envoy-er in the habit of customs and accustomed to habits youyouryouwithme withuswithyou contingenst est quod potest esse et non esse all ends up in a book rivermouth in that voice in that you of the book that jumps in flows about and waterfalls at the end of that road one does not return from because not going is a turn a return a retrip that turns around because not going is a turn because not going returns the retrip that is made from winding made from wind from stoppage from mirage quillburlap from weavable weavery gaymonster gabby gossiper gulping downyour most garrulous solo here you collapse in this book-end where speechcurdles the hand tremblesthe ship docks bluegreen master oldoldmanword chewer word spender word bender of slack words here you end here you trip and stumble wisecrack knower of nors with your savoir gay your riddles and your swirls your puzzles and your pillage pilferer of fables counterfeiter of fairies loquaciousloon burpboaster burpbrag brewer of science refiner of folly but your soul will be saved your soul is cleansed in that book that's bleached like the whitest star and when you vanish it will devour you when you lock the key it multiopens when you eliminate it it transluminates this dead tongue this ill-starred luck the umbilichord that stuck me to the door for the book is your old port mabuse faustianfaust of language persecuted by yourmephistofamished faithful and thus you made it thus you weaved it thusyou gave it and avrà quasi l'ombra della vera costellazione while themind quasi-rainbow edens in this multibook and della doppia danza

[Translated from Portuguese by Odile Cisneros with Suzanne Jill Levine]


now, you will say, to hear galáxias:

I began the galáxias in 1963, and I finished them in 1976. Not counting the episodic publications in the review Invenção, numbers 4 (1964) and 5 (1966-67); the translation of a few fragments into German (1966), French (1970), Spanish (1978), and English (1976, 1981), and the first gathering of galactic texts in Chess of Stars (Xadrez de estrelas, São Paulo, Perspectiva, 1976), only in 1984 was I able to see my project materialize in functionally adequate conditions thanks to Frederico Nasser's publishing house, Editora Ex Libris. This publication was in a large format, had reading visibility, the verso pages were blank, functioning as an intermittent silence or pause and completing the programmatic total of 100 pages.

An audiovidoetext, videotextogram, the galáxias situate themselves on the border between prose and poetry. In this kaleidoscopic book there's an epic, narrative gesture—mini-stories that articulate and dissolve themselves like the "suspense" of a detective novel (Anatol Rosenfeld); but the image remains, the vision or calling of the epiphanic. In that sense, it is the poetic pole that ends up prevailing in the project, and the result is 50 "galactic cantos," with a total of more than 2000 verses (close to 40 per page). This permutational book has, as its semantic backbone, a recurrent yet always varied theme all along: travel as a book and the book as travel (despite the fact that—for that very reason—it is not exactly a "travel book"…). Two formants, in italics, the initial one (beginning-end: "and here I begin") and the final one (end-beginning-new beginning), encompass the game of moveable pages, interchangeable in their reading, where each isolated fragment introduces its "difference," but contains, in itself, like a watermark, the image of the entire book. which can be seen as from Alephic vantagepoint.

The oralization of the galáxias was always implicit in my project. […] As it will be seen (as it will be heard), this is a book to be read aloud, proposing a rhythm and a prosody, whose "obscure" passages become transparent to reading and whose words, when pronounced, can acquire a talismanic force, incite and seduce like mantras. Not accidentally I invited the poet and musician Alberto Marsicano to accompany me on his sitar while I read the two formants (highlighted in this way): the mobility of Indian ragas, where what is random is controlled by structures of repetition, rhymes with my score-text. Furthermore, only a few referential clues are sufficient to illuminate the galactic journey. With regard to the words and phrases in other languages—always carrying a mantric, 'transmental,' value even when not always apprehensible on a semantic level—those words and phrases are usually translated or glossed in the context, in this way flowing along and into the rhythm of the whole.

No comments: