Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lucretius of puddle wow!

This is what Thylias Moss had to say about, in a nutshell, existence as a collaborative venture, about a shallow puddle being able to reflect the depth of an atmospheric ocean, about a partnership between compression and expansion, each taking the other into itself apparently simultaneously, perception determining which parameter dominates --the partnership is a flaw perhaps, an accident perhaps, my own weakness for the idea, but it functions well (my perception) as a source, somehow, of possibility:

Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
Selected by Thylias Moss
National Poetry Month 2007

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Thylias Moss's Poetry Month Pick, April 4, 2007
from On the Nature of Things (De rerum natura), Book One
(with some reference in my comment to a passage in Book four)
by Lucretius (c. 99 - c. 55 BCE)
as translated by Anthony M. Esolen

Now it's clear that nothing can be limited
Without something beyond for boundary, some
Point beyond which our sense can't follow it.
But you must admit that nothing exists beyond
This All; therefore it has no limit, no end.
Nor does it matter in what place you stand:
Take any point you like—you leave the whole
Unbounded in all regions equally.

A few lines later, this comes:

…I’ll follow you then; wherever
You place the shores, I ask, "What of the spear?
Where does it fly?" No end can be established;
Immensity prolongs the flight forever.

A passage that has followed, as has the other, this:

There's more: Nature dissolves all things into
Their atoms; things can't die back down to nothing.
…Never can things revert to nothingness!

Thylias Moss Comments:

How tempting to believe in innovation, in the poet making something new—I have needed this delusion myself, have in fact built something I dare call a "new literary paradigm" on the possibility of the new, yet one of the ancients had already made clear (in Latin) that "as all words share one alphabet, many things may be made from the same atoms," must be made from the same particles, hinting at some irreducible particle that exists in a finite number of basic forms, these combining to make all else, infinite variety within limits established by the nature of these particles, so human beings will not (in initial birth form) become an Andean peak or a pack of flamingos dancing in one of the rivers, perhaps a sulfurous one, at the feet of the Andes though some humans may do an

Irish step dance in which the legwork seems to invent the flamingo ritual pack dance again—could it be that certain patterns are inevitable given the close relationship between all stuff? We're made of elements repeating throughout an immensity available on every scale, Lucretius instructing his readers to venture to the shore, to the limit of existence and from that shore to throw a spear that will still travel away from the thrower, will still

have somewhere to go, every somewhere a candidate for the center in a totality that is necessarily endless if it is indeed an all, and if endless, then centerless, as much space in every direction from every point. Wow. And looking, he says, into a puddle seemingly shallow gives access to a depth, to an infinity as immense as the celestial one that the puddle is able to hold. Wow2
(superscript in the original message) and Wow2 (subscript in the original message).

So beginning with any of these points, taking any point as a nucleus, and increasing distance from it while maintaining that speck as the center, eventually, the periphery embraces totality. And that is the powers of ten, an Eames film I saw in Chicago, the stills from the film that I have as a flipbook, the book about the size of things in the universe that I have taught when I invented a literary theory that caused me to seek that which could give my new point credence. I have reinvented something ancient, it turns out. I participate in one of the inevitable patterns, am part of a chain of observing the limits and joys of the senses, the logic and marvels suggested by

consideration of scale. And I am comforted by Lucretius' love of what I consider lovable paradox, to be both bound and unbound, both finite and limitless. And I am comforted by Lucretius saying that recycling is the nature of things, not waste. There is no throwaway stuff (including ancient texts—how I need Lucretius!) for stuff breaks down into basic units that are then free to form something else, to be part of something else that can also be the center of everything, and by extension, exist in some form for as long as there is totality, as long as there is existence as both the container and the content.

This is how to live, and it has been the way to live at least since Lucretius. From the center where I (re)configure a way to make whatever forms are possible out of various components; from this center, I arrive at a totality that as it widens away from my ideas embraces Lucretius, his part larger for being wider—but my idea therefore a
candidate for potency, for being a distillation: a potent drop at a present end of the funnel. I cannot resist another Wow!

About Thylias Moss:
Thylias Moss is the author of eight previous volumes of poetry. Her Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler was a National Critics Book Circle Award finalist, and was named by the Village Voice as one of "Our Favorite Books of 1998." A 1996 Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation and a recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, Moss has received grants from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Kenan Charitable Trust. She is Professor of English and Art & Design at the University of Michigan.

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Here's another take on Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler:

Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler
by Thylias Moss
(Persea Books: 1998) Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler is Thylias Moss's sixth book, her first after grabbing one of the MacArthur genius grants. Her work has changed -- moved further out, encyclopedia-ized. She has memories of playing jacks sans hands, Thalidomide-esque, but all it is is nose-sucking, all it is is the end of the world. The Brothers Grimm, Zora Neale Hurston, Amy Clampitt, Stanley Crouch: this is a thin volume, but spectacularly dense, provocative (is her cheating poem about Lazurus “cheating” death? or her and her husband's affairs?). To read her Susan Smith / baptizing poem is to be horrified -- yet, as Moss posits, 'tis poetry's job. The long, more formal open-field works, particulately “Advice,” “Sour Milk,” and the title poem, all break new ground. I want the book! I want the movie! paperback
          Bob Holman

And here's an opportunity to view without leaving this page, flamingos and Irish step dancers in parallel movement in proximity:

(I'm relying on movement clips available on you tube though had flamingos and Irish steppers been filmed to show the parallels, similarities would be more intense courtesy the exaggeration that accompanies focus --even so, groundwork, the root of the link is here.)

It is possibility that I want, and it is possible for me to imagine as many possibilities as I'd like to

--each one a tine of a limited fork, each one also a negative tine, the space between prongs, of a limited fork. Yes, this fork in my hand --further limited for the interaction and collaboration with my hand to access, at best, part of something itself part of something;

the fork that my arm extends by holding it, part of the system of limited fork access; I grasp what grasps. Pasta winds around the prongs, white ropes. I remember my mother wringing white sheets into twists that become, I'm sure of this, the twists of a white turban, an albino hive from which I'd have to extract a very funny honey --I assume that I could not resist extracting that strange, so even more desirable honey, any more than I could resist this movement, this journey from the winding of pasta to rare honey, a destination
becoming inevitable for honey in this nutshell (there are others simultaneously) being cracked here. It happened with socks in The Monday Aardvark of Laundry, and the following video is honey extracted from the larger hive of a poem that, like the universe it is, admits to containing what it contains, some glorious spots, some in danger, threatened and threatening, stable and unstable, the range of real. The structure holds, however briefly, but these junctures happened; the pasta, turban, hive formed something my mind could hold and nurture --that structure ever holds for any amount of time on any scale in any location, though this happens every moment, the moment itself a structure held and holding, amazes and delights me --what does this study of interacting systemsalso reveal? A dependency on delight (perhaps why there is, as
Joel Brouwer puts it in his review, an "allergy to editing," which happens, which is inevitable, Joel, erosion, variables and forces that nudge stable systems toward instability, unstable systems towards instability. While this dies, this thrives. Multiple locations of simultaneous activity [not synchronized necessarily]. That is the footprint of a landscape of existence. A landscape to which I hope to be true (as I perceive that, perceptions updated as often as I become aware that updates are necessary, though probably not often enough). Here is a model of a landscape of existence worth trying: John Conways' Game of Life).

Some of the mappings of the Tarzan Holler, of the Tokyo Butter can be (forms of) brutal, won't avail themselves of a certain kind of denial, do not boost certain kinds of reputation above attempts to perceive better the irregularities and all, her own too, the ordered messiness of movement, of existence that seems to be going somewhere, a point of movement, a rejection of pointlessness, mindless wandering (the mind indeed! --please, if you have a mind to, refer to My Neurological Winter).

- Posted using BlogPress from my Limited Forked iPad