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, April 18, 2012

Clayton Eshleman" "Self As Selva," a new poem from Penetralia (forthcoming)

please note. a list of postings after january 12, 2012 can be found here

It is a fine autumn Sunday and my tourniquet has just turned on.

Robert A.F. Thurman: “According to the Buddha, the reality of all things is ultimate selflessness. And this experience of turning around in the depth of the self from self-delusion and self-obsession to freedom and concern for others is the fountain of Buddhistic energy. Possessing an independent self at the core of one’s being is a delusion. Selflessness is a description of the experienceable condition of the living self, which obviously does exist, and obviously is not a static, independent, isolated, or alienated entity. Seeing through the false sense of rigid self releases a person from the imprisoning sense of alienation from the universe. The Buddha devised a host of methods and techniques to assist people to realize their own selflessness, freedom, and compassion.”

 Or as Wallace Stevens put it: “losing in self / The sense of self…”

 H.P. Lovecraft: “To know that one is no longer a definite being distinguished from other beings—that one no longer has a self—that is the nameless summit of  agony and dread.”

 William Blake: “The Spectre… is the Great Selfhood
Satan: Worshipd as God by the Mighty Ones of the Earth
Having a White Dot calld a Center from which branches out
A Circle in continual gyrations. this became a Heart
From which sprang numerous branches varying their motions
Producing many heads three or seven or ten, & hands & feet
Innumerable at will of the unfortunate contemplator
Who becomes his food such is the way of the Devouring Power”

 “I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration…”

 Once we have cast off the self’s hood, are we left with pure self?

 “A dynamic unstable agglomerate of skandas that in itself posses no inherent substantiality or enduring quality and that continues in constant flux until final dissolution at death”

Ah, the selzer of self, the carbonated, carboniferous antiquity of the ever-evaporating self!

Sylph, or elf, as if fragments of self,
gaseous particles that make up that “White Dot calld a Center,”
past lives, or dream incursions, the forge of nightmare,
one’s chest as anvil on which a Muse-muzzled succubus crouches
pounding energy deposits into the helpless dreamer?
No, the dreamer is self’s help-mate, receiving, like 9 inch spikes,
these elf and sylph deposits, the souls of eaten animals,
one’s own dead, those who sip at the ofrenda feasts,
below conscious personality this trillion horde of butterflies pulsates,
a World Tree of sorts, drawing up through its fluttering trunk,
the breath of one’s dead.
                                                    Is it this conglomerate
presence/ non-presence of the dead that complexes the Self?

As I walk down the street, on different planes, in different directions,
galleys are stroking through the liquid self that makes up my being,
nebulous continuum open to incursion from the moment of conception.
Who or what has assigned specific rowers to these galleys?
Some wear wolf masks, some are headless, some I’d swear are
conscious and subconscious spliced organisms—
hybrid animal souls swirl up in dream,
swirl here, in these necro-nectar vials, these words…


Inspiration: shadow of the Samuel Greenberg falcon with Hart Crane’s nape in its talons…

What I need is a topocosmic center,
the world order of a particular place,
an ever-evolving god to withstand the merging of different cultures,
   different myths…

We no longer sacrifice bulls to Zeus, but the slanting Akashic microphone
picks up Font-de-Gaume convexities,
there are bison here as intangible as the concavities of Iraq.

The quest is always to abandon one’s starting blocks,
to set fire to the track under one’s soles,
to flip away the winner cord, eliminate the track and set forth
with all other runners into the suburbs or wilds,
searching for the birdserpent in one’s heart…

Northrop Frye: “Blake saw that as long as man lives within a hierarchical myth without really knowing it, his whole behavior will be conditioned beyond the point of resistance:
a rebellion against one hierarchy will merely set up a second one.”

Pierre Joris via Deleuze and Guattari: “The rhizome is an anti-hierarchical means of organizing knowledge and of recognizing intersections and engagements between seemingly disparate ideas and things. Botanically, the rhizome is a branching that has no ‘center.’ All segments are fertile. Any segment broken off from the rest may serve as a new starting point, a new origin of life.”

Frye again: “What is needed for creation is a new bicameral mind in which something else supplants consciousness.”

An identity in the indefinite.
Antiphonal slingshots “mixing” day and night minds.
Honeysuckle sweet worm cast perfume interlacing arctic crystalline breeze.
A self-regulatory anarchy.

Not to eliminate self (as in Nirvana) but to become an infanite in the infinite, infantrailed, permeated with the absence to come; engaging the center, farewelling the center. Minotaur wedlock. Lightning-bolt love.

Self as engine as well as brimming circumference. Self as one’s mind after and before birth: differentiated identity and the undifferentiated lower levels where specters from humanity’s past still dwell.

We emerged from a circumpolar spiritus rector, cloudy and ice-driven. The gods have animal minds. The totem pole salmon-raven-beaver-bear “folk” as DNA double helix evocation.

Self as selva, a liana matrix of twintwisted lingo.

note. The poem posted here is from a manuscript called Penetralia, which will be published by Black Widow Press in 2013. This fall, Black Widow will publish a large collection of Eshleman’s poems, notes, essays, reviews, translations, prose poems, lectures, & aphorisms, to be called The Price of Experience. Also in 2013 Ugly Duckling Press will publish his translation of Jose Antonio Mazzotti's book, Sakra Boccata, & Wesleyan University Press will publish his cotranslation with A. James Arnold of the original 1939 Notebook of a Return to the Native Land by Aimé Césaire (in conjunction with UNESCO's 2013 Year of Césaire), which has heretofore only been published in a Spanish translation in Havana (1943).  Earlier postings of Eshleman’s poems on Poems and Poetics appeared here & here, as well as a number of his translations.


William A. Sigler said...

The blockglass EXIT at the end of the line
To which my many selves keep walking
I see them all
But only know this pair of eyes

Wow – how this marches bravely forth and then retreats – that glimpse in Blake and Thurman of all distinction among people merely phantoms of one’s self, turned to enemy other (“food”) because that is all we can believe in – yet every reaching (retching) out in word to this casts light not on truth (which needs no light) but on the detritus in the reference and connotation of selves unable to annihilate themselves: the whole embedded literary tradition where “Poets” are sacrificed like pawns on a chess board, as names to be read and remembered, the “unfortunates.”

Art Durkee said...

Compelling. I look forward to the full book. I was thoroughly engrossed by "Juniper Fuse."