Sometimes a book begins to talk to me from across the room and I have to go see who it is, whose words are catching my interest and pulling me toward it, why it’s Ted Berrigan, who tells me that a voice once locked in the ground now speaks in me, quote unquote. Wow, Ted, that’s cool, but kind of weird. What kind of a voice was it? Male? Female? Bass? Tenor? Soprano? Did it vibrate in your bones with the thunder of prophecy? Or was it more regal and phantasmal, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father appearing to him out of the Danish fog?
He does not say. But fortunately, there are many other poems to choose from, for these are The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan, and there are many other books on my shelves to read, to conduct a conversation with, books to make me think, look differently at the world, which is what a book should do, ideally, that is to say lengthen in the mind, gathering phenomena, things like rocket propellant and signet rings, the sighs of lovers and the snorts of kings, the gaze of sockeye salmon and the luster of quartz. The spherical embryonic mass of blastomeres forming before complete blastulation is an unexpected delight, a true delicacy for the eyes and mind, and similar to the gestation of an idea, the folds and mosaic of suspension in moral problems causing no end of mercurial pizzazz, whole place kicks of thought sent whirling into the atmosphere and bouncing off the roof of the skull, in which the meaning accrues in resonance, and beauty, and starts migrating toward completion in a sentence.
It is, thus, a question of knowing if philosophy as a reconquest of raw, primordial being can fulfill itself by the means of eloquent language, or if it wouldn’t be necessary to make a usage of it which removes from it its power of immediate or direct signification in order to equal what it truly and fully wants to say. - Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible
I wanted to be a cowboy until I was forty-two, and so became a philosopher of the plains, and walked out of the house of language into a frontier I was unable at first to fully identify, and of course it rained, and I got wet, but the miracle of lightning is worth it, completely amazes the eyes when the world goes dark, then flashes into view, and for a brief second you can see the rawness of existence, the wonder of it all, why anything exists at all, where there is something instead of nothing, and so grow to a point.
If we are ourselves in question in the unreeling of our life, it isn’t because a central non-being menaces at each instant to repeal its consent to being, it is because we are one continual sole question, a perpetual endeavor to restore ourselves by the constellations of the world, and the things of our own dimension. – Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible
All my life I have been awash, glittery, obscure, mirthful, and catalytic. Perception has been a central fascination. Why does a cuticle transcend its condition as hardened skin at the base of a fingernail and become a frontier of problems in the exhortations of a poem based on the cry of a clarinet? Because it drags itself across the consciousness seeking pencils and philodendrons.
Days are nourished by insurrection. Scrambled eggs and a piece of toast slathered with blackberry jam. Odors sew themselves into advocacies of further refrigeration.
Do I rebel? Yes, I rebel. Against what? you may ask. Whatta you got? I may reply.
My messy red heart puts on a blue shirt and goes around saying things like nothingness is nothing until it is something and then it isn’t nothingness so much as somethingness.
What sky out there is doing push-ups on the lawn? In doing so stars release energy, which is how they shine, but as the push-ups continue, each star forges atoms of carbon, oxygen, neon, sodium, magnesium and silicon, then nickel, cobalt, and, finally, iron. It is thus that a new Philosophy is produced, and that a woman’s love is like the morning dew.