Friday, April 19, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Efferent

The sound of the rain can be heard through the cracks in the windows. These aren’t actual cracks. There are no cracks in the glass. The windows are open a crack. This prevents condensation. But there are cracks. There is a crack in the drywall of the window frame, and another in the northwest corner of the bedroom. I will fix it later.
We decide not to move. Taking on a mortgage is too scary. Roberta adds an article in the New York Times today to our “favorite” list. The banks are at it again, creating dubious financial products, such as “collateralized debt obligations” which evade the few regulations imposed after the collapse in 2008. The old excesses are creeping back into the market.
I escape into language where the words sag with hope and valentines. I boil the vapor of appearance in the spongy mass of a wool piano. The syntax squirts. Palominos rip the sod. Gravity hammers a stone guitar.
What paradox is the art of manipulating objects with signs which are exterior and alien to them! and of which even the correspondence with them is altogether arbitrary! It’s necessary that each thing be doubled by a phantom where the sign attaches itself, another phantom. The signs combined, combine the phantoms  -  and a special machine permits the return of phantoms to things  -  and by their imposition on things, awaits the same fate that the accommodating phantoms have endured in that bizarre location where they’re slaves to the signs. So writes Paul Valéry in his Notebooks.
Syllables: everything is syllables. For instance, here is an emotion: it tastes of clairvoyance, but looks like a stew. There are no monotonous odors in our house. This is why I prefer wearing denim. I write for the sheer pleasure of folding my opinions into quadrilaterals and bagpipes. For the exploration of nothingness. For adapting my grammar to the grammar of the world. Or not. I press my ear to the blood of a cat. The biology of a consonant glides through the anatomy of a dollar and gets hooked on a murmuring phantom. This results in insemination.
I move my hand across a sheet of paper. Words come out of my hand. An elevator arrives and its doors slide open revealing a shepherd and his flock. I scrub the distance between a bistro and an explanation for light. The definition for twilight is warped by fatalism. The flowers all thrive in a sulky anonymity. I search for your caress as aggressively as an asterisk in a liter of swallows. The waves unroll their scripture of foam on the absorbing sand. A sense of autonomy collides with a stain of adjectives spread across the giant nipple of an acoustic emotion. Faith runs across the Mediterranean and delivers a granite baby. You might think that none of these sentences are connected but I assure you that they are. I’m braced for anything. The death of a planet. The strain of a glockenspiel. A pile of words writing themselves into rooms and embassies.


Steven Fama said...

From that wonderful title to the quotation from Valery to the wild confident reaches of the sentences in the final paragraph: marvelous!

Thank you again John, for writing and posting these to the world.

John Olson said...

Thank you, Steve, for such a generous response. I translated Valéry from the French. There is a whole section on language in his Cahiers, volume 1. Amazing stuff. Gallimard brought this edition out in 1973 originally, but the notebooks first appeared sometime between 1957 and 1961, according to the preface, by Judith-Robinson Valéry.