Peristaltic Googlism and the Metaphysics of Ephemera
 Maureen Alsop

August 2008

Bird.  Sometimes we begin with a word.  But what arc will the bird fly into?  What radius?  To define what bird is, do we name: kestrel, cormorant, heron, barn owl, finch, cockatoo, or do we elicit a catalog of actions and habits:  a feather bearing animal that flies, a non-mammal, an egg layer, one that nests, a worm-eater, one who frequently symbolizes the human soul…migration disintegrating into a V—left hemisphere, right hemisphere—wing pulse? How then, do we name ourselves as poets? How do we define the energy in our poems?  

Enter into Joseph Cornell’s constructed world, a white violet beyond the fourth wall—glass—the shopkeeper’s window, the atmospheric shadow-box.  Bird, you are falling into a well, into the driftwood branches, yellowing under a corked sun and sent spiraling. Along the salted walls, zinnia eyes dilating, you fly toward the hunched lake settling somewhere between sand and splinter.  A captive among the thistle, you are delivered to us as the boat sets off.  Cornell wrote:  “Everything goes past like a river and the changing taste and the various shapes of men make the whole game uncertain and delusive. Where do I find fixed points in Nature, which cannot be moved by man, and where I can indicate the markers by the shore to which he ought to adhere?[1]" Cornell longed to retain specific moments in time and to create a structural stillness.  This suspension of time, a revisionist perspective of the past based on the recycling of memorabilia into a new image, defines his oeuvre.  Cornell coined the term ‘metaphysical ephemera’ to describe his artistic vision.  For Cornell, ‘collage equaled reality’.  His art was his means of articulating moments in life that made life worthwhile.  Commonplace objects, through the rigorous process of placement and unexpected juxtapositions, were enriched by the imagination, and infused with infinite desire.  His process included capturing the fleeting elements of time:  he shaped scraps of ephemera into art.  Cornell’s work included paper collage but most notably his boxes.  The boxes, ‘theatres of the mind’ were dioramas, shadowboxes, assemblages, which preserved reality of imagination, found memory, creating iconography out of time.  His aim was to “keep clear the shining hour,” to create “timelessness within passing time,” by salvaging “special moments. [2]

Cornell did not title many of his artworks, yet obvious titles emerged out of the words and images evident within the works themselves.  Context. Element.  Definition. Detail.  These elements add up to landscape, story.  In one of Cornells’ untitled assemblages, we find “Hotel Eden,” as a “found” title to this piece.  “Hotel Eden” arrived with this title due to the yellowed, disintegrated slip of ephemera in the background.   It is as if Adam and Eve matured, slipped from the gardens of the Hotel Eden and left behind them a contained paradise.  Is this modernism?  Are we left within a cage?  Are we wild birds penned into a playground, left to spend our lives bobbing for motion, with no room for flight?  Yet contained within this space, there is a vibrant clarity.  Perhaps it is a resolve.  The cleanest pages of our lives exist inside of us.

In the “Big Two Hearted River” Hemingway wrote: “There were times when you had to write.  Not conscience.  Just peristaltic action.[3]”  The process of creating a poem involves the peristalsis of the unconscious, intensified by the stimulus of exterior incidents.  The assemblage of thought comes from the engagement with the unknown.  Composition and arrangement occur through movement.  Words on a page only gain energy from one another by careful selection, balance, and thoughtful sequence— “those words in that order. ”  We cannot escape the inherent images within language and ultimately we are bound to the vernacular with which we are most familiar.  We may chose to work beyond the lexicon that easily travels within our own head, by referencing a range of new ideas.  However, no matter what product we formulate, it will always be a reflection of our own existence, infiltrated by our personality, emotion and our particular sensibility, our world, unique to our own perception. 

Collage is a visual art process which involves a craft parallel to some methods applied to poetry.  In context of collage, techniques include: layering, focal point, use of space. In order to design a meaningful visual collage, an artist may consider the application of several guidelines including: theme, imagery, background, arrangement, overlapping and layering.    In collage, less is more, clutter creates visual confusion, focal point is critical and images are best rendered if allowed contrast, negative space and a seamless backdrop.  It is the artist’s work to orchestrate balance.  Those objects in that order.  It is the balance of the disparate images which culminate into context. In Cornell’s  ‘Hotel Semiramis,’ another originally untitled box, I am convinced that Cornell operated from the cockpit of chance.   Cornell searched continually for his objects of desire.  Objects that would propel his vision.  His chances began with the hunt for the “serendipitous constant,” the constant being his inventiveness, his creativity, his passion, and the ‘serendipitous’ being the ephemera which would satiate his quest once it was identified.  This conquest is three-fold.  There is the outer foraging for the object, the inner foraging of the psyche, and the physical melding—culminating in the creation of a new object.  His exterior explorations, through flea markets, thrift shops and Manhattan antique shops, were a routine component of his process, and the continuum of objects he sought were consistent.  Cornell scouted for specific memorabilia: nostalgia.  His favorite images included birds, starlets, constellations, and sometimes what he found were elements that transported his art into the realm of symbol.  Of course, the more you look for birds, the more birds you will find. 

Semiramis is not a word that Cornell rubber-stamped out of an archive; it is a loose piece of history with a well-loaded story attached. Entering one of the rooms of “Hotel Semiramis”, we enter the terrain of a legendary Assyrian queen, the founder of Babylon, who was worshiped as a dove and later identified with Ishtar.   In Cornell’s “Grand Hotel Semiramis,” we find our dove, our queen-goddess, transformed into verdant parrot. The supple gardens of Babylon are reduced to a glass-thimble of water. She is still beautiful, Semiramis, though her bird-soul has been vastly transported by our modern culture.  She nests in a landscape we cannot enter.  A cord, a twine of blue light entertains her; though she is thronging with impatience, she will never un-spin herself.  She is a breccia dream born in a basement-mix on Utopia Parkway—home of artist/inventor.

She has slipped from the history of weather and cut loose from her legend.  Nestling into a new home, she escapes into a place where there is no escape, nor an arrival.  Outside, rain continues in the orchard.  The constant hum of the lorikeets in a neighboring dawn will not shrink.  We look away and faintly glimpse a fruitful transcendence—the glare of a bright wing against sunlight.  But the glass thimble is without drift, and still from the reverberation of long absent fingertips— trace deposits— filaments of light electrify this lost menagerie.  We will return endlessly to this diorama, but the scene will be forgotten differently each time.  We witness the gaze of a woman balanced between the unfamiliar world of a cartographer’s map—the motionless stretch of a peninsula reflecting in her eyes—and above her, the tremor of heaven’s Cassiopeia.  Her voice is the sound of a bell—split out of the heart and sent spinning.  She will spend her whole life parroting a logic that is articulated elsewhere.

Techniques for spurring one’s poetry into new dimensions can be found through the process of collage, and one tool to inspire randomness may be Googlism.  Googlism.com is a search engine owned by an Australian company designed for no other purpose but fun.  It is a search engine entirely separate from google.com.  This search engine scoured and received links from thousands of webmasters and websites around the world (yes, including but not limited to google.com). The concept behind the enterprise was to gain a wide range of “opinions” to see what various engines, ultimately people, “think” about certain topics.  The engine was designed in 2002 and does not appear to change frequently, though that is not to say it has the potential to.  Gogglism.com briefly and in a very minimalist approach to language pares down and records thousands of thoughts and opinions about thousands of different topics. Just as a poet may be inspired by exterior text to add surprise to a poem, for example random selections from Shakespeare, text from The Farmer’s Almanac, the daily paper or even a spin through the dictionary as means by which to alter the language or the movement within a poem, Googlism.com is one engine by which a poet may elect to infuse a poem with new ideas.  The element of surprise is critical in poetry and sometimes the surprise can come from alternative influences rather than that inner world.  This is one means by which a poet can make his/her language levitate because it forces the writer’s process of “peristaltic action” to be electrified with the potency of another external force.  The result is ultimately a bolt for the reader and the writer. I do not see the engine of googlism as a static being, but as a living patchwork, an entity throbbing with energy—as much alive and perhaps as well contained as one of Cornell’s mysterious boxes.

“Call it desire/ to make a life out of all I had/ a handful of feathers surrounding a body of air/ I whispered into,  birrrd—“  L. Berger wrote in Unexpected Aviary.[4]  Now from the aviary of the mind, I whisper into googlism’s ear “bird.”  Bird is no longer in the box.  He is molting and this is why…. Upon entering the simple word “bird” into the googlism.com engine, googlism responds with a fully illuminated, unexpected compilation of “what people think” about “bird.”  From this provocative list, this instamatic trigger, a new world of possibility engages the imagination.  A fluffy blue ostrich named ‘Trash-man,’ who is tired of singing, sensitive to color and a variety of illnesses, arrives on the doorstep of consciousness.  Or perhaps we find a bird living on a small lake, privately sharpening its talons and boldly feathering paper dolls.  The bird is in our hands, he is a great trickster who is easily transformed.. 

The poet’s medium is a material of words—consider the ephemera of words in our daily culture for a moment.  How we may integrate “worldly” languages, that is, the day to day speak in into our poetry?  Or how do we avoid it?  Each word carries its own attachments.  “T-Bone” and “Egg-nog” are two words the English language that strike me as most ridiculously American.  I can’t formulate these words on my tongue without shaping my lips with laughter.  But think of the word in a different context.  Think “T-bone” and “toxic”, think “egg-nog” and “elegy” and suddenly the mix changes.  It is the link, the gaps between words which are the joy and frustration for any poet.  Language is our vehicle for conveying thought, feeling, humility, reason, philosophy, personality.  What informs our choices so that we may create a visceral edge within the voice?   Perhaps good poetry lives in the borderland between the anticipated and the unexpected. 

Hotel Eden has emptied.  What’s flown off is our imagination—we are left in an abandoned cell.  From this outpost, we are led through the smallest glimmer, the focal window, into a larger sense of sky.  Here, we can create a makeshift landscape of the internal, the external, devise a springboard to the cosmos— devise a space for collectivism….  Now, we live with only the instinct of the parrot, a little ruffle of green—floating—through milk-cloud and glass.  A time of desire, an imprint. You have entered it.  You are there listening.  He is the last lung, the last tenuous arc in the sky—vibrant with song.

I have had endless conversations with Googlism.  Beginning with poetry.  I have heard it said that “poetry is that thing that can not be explained.”  I think of poetry every day.  I explain poetry to myself through many forms.  Poetry is clouds in my head reconfiguring their patterns at a rapid pace.  Googlism said poetry is useless; but still; under a starry sky; manifestations of moths drift among the trees.   Poetry is moths drifting among the trees…

There are blank pages filling with light.  But the mind cannot describe light.  Doubtful Googlism can either, but does say that God is a light flash movie.  I test Googlism’s understanding of light. Googlism says light is a lost language, electromagnetic energy within a narrow range, a mixture of all wavelengths, dissipated as chlorophyll, perfect for your western style home, and a spiritual center in a wedding chapel.  Googlism says light is not possible.  But that light is coming on.

The human voice is very weak.  Googlism’s voice weaker, clouded in an odd collective.  Borges described illumination as “a lantern that the trees sometimes eclipsed, a paper lantern that had the form of a drum and the color of the moon.”  I remember this description of light, but why?  Borges himself stated:  “things… become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten. …”[5]  What detail did Borges offer to force my recollection?  Was it, is it, the moment of artistic choice?  Is it the moment I analyze or go forward with a different tangent of possibility?  Perhaps it is the moment Gertrude Stein counted a flock of ducks beginning with “one” ending with “one” counting “one” in between each one.  I will not tell you how many ducks there were, but I will count them: “one” “one” “one” “one” “one”.  This is her choice as an artist.  I will ask Googlism what the collective thinks of Gertrude Stein.  Googlism: Gertrude Stein.  Who. Return. Googlism says Gertrude is his artistic mother who was born into the crisis of meaning as meaning. I’m not always sure where Googlism begins and I end.  But I do know that Gertrude Stein is not Googlism’s mother.  We are all Googlism’s mother, a collective voice scattered across the globe, spun out and reconfigured into a singular catalog—a  catalog living in an invisible dovecote, a web which is a consciousness that breathes, expands, contracts, contradicts, a synergy, a platform of information that disappoints, provokes, illuminates.

In her poems from Tender Buttons, Gertude Stein explores the collision of inner and outer worlds, solidifying perception and reality into the ‘container’ of a poem. Her book is sectioned: Object, Food, Room.    Here objects are defined as a reflection of the writer’s conscious and unconscious reality.  The object becomes an iconographic portraiture, a fusion of internal and external landscapes. In Stein’s poems, raw description is slipstreamed through the observer’s unique reverie.  Stein’s singular and scrambled perspective emphasizes alienation as individuation.  Yet she simultaneously highlights human connection to the world as a means of grounding her own orientation.  The poems are a fusion, a 3-dimensional assemblage that also includes the consciousness of the audience.  As readers confronted with the poems, we immediately grapple with the need for meaning.  We realize that our well-trained instinct to identify meaning arises as a question itself: ‘why must we find meaning in all things?’  In a sense this is a surface question to Stein’s collection as a whole.  Ultimately, the search for ‘why’ or ‘what’ is inherently and deliberately useless.  Questions become an architectural feature, the “glass wall” of the poem.  Our human need to find meaning in the poem is as much a component of the poem’s meaning as the poem itself.  Ironically, meaning in this terrain becomes limitless.  What we assume we understand is tossed out of balance; we are forced to a) fill in the blanks of what is being presented, b) ignore the need for conjunction and swim directly within the words or c) some combination of these actions.  The process opens the link between the conscious and the subconscious.  We begin to forage our own psyche.  If we stay with the poems long enough, we are desensitized to what may be initially unsettling; our capacity for adaptation, though challenged, eventually aids us to formulate meaning.  There lurks within these poems the sensation of “scatteredness,” as if the images and ideas are a myopic universe within themselves that are ever expanding outward.  Words and associations merge so quickly it is as if we are witnessing thoughts toppling on top of one another.  The disjunctive associations that seemingly create abstraction eventually culminate in logic.  This process requires a reader to possess three different “eyes” by which to perceive:  one to view the disjunctive associations, a second to identify the conglomeration between object and reality, that is, places where all things merge coherently, and a thirdly, an unfocused ability to observe without thought.  The poems are themselves a sublimation provoking a new path with in the reader’s mind.  For example the poem “A Blue Coat.” acts like a complete sentence, yet reading the sentence we are immediately struck by its lack of fluidity:

A BLUE COAT


A blue coat is guided guided away, guided and guided away, that is the particular color that is used for that length and not any width not even more than a shadow. [6]

 

Here we are left perhaps not with an image of a ‘blue coat,’ but with the absolute transience of a coat and it’s wearer.  The coat represents what lies within the coat, what lies beyond the coat, what becomes of the coat: “more than a shadow.”  A person may be guided away; it is not the coat the person is wearing that marks the impression “not the length not any width,” but it is the transience of existence: the wearer and his shadow.  It is as if the poem targets a “nonverbal” component of language.  Another example of these effects can be found in the poem “Milk”

 

MILK

A white egg and a colored pan and a cabbage showing settlement, a constant increase.

A cold in a nose, a single cold nose makes an excuse.  Two are more necessary.

All the goods are stolen, all the blisters are in the cup.

Cooking, cooking is the recognition between sudden and nearly sudden very little and all large holes.

A real pint, one that is open and closed and in the middle is so bad.

Tender colds, seen eye holders, all work, the best of change, the meaning, the dark red, all this and bitten, really bitten.

Guessing again and golfing again and the best men, the very best men.[7]

It is as if we are listening to a message transmitted through radio static.  This compels this reader to want to reengage Stein’s syntax, to do my own “cutting and pasting” from the page, to remove the distortion which lodges in my frontal lobe.  But by all logic, I am fully compelled to prevent myself from doing this.  The poem is already compiled, bound; it is merrily singing down the throat of the river and is regularly consumed by history’s mouth—a milk-flood.  I am left to understand the stunted syntax through use of my spine, not my brain.  Some of the commentary and word play is jovial, “guessing again and golfing again and the best men, the very best men,” but at the same time somber.  How could the best of life occur through golf?  How does cooking with milk conjure so many fleeting associations consolidated into such a contained space?  Are we witnessing an assemblage as carefully contrived as one of Cornell’s boxes?  “All the goods are stolen,” tells us that the items presented on the menu are not necessarily organic to the chef who oversees them.  They are “dark red,” “bitten,” yet they are domestic products, “showing settlement, a constant increase.”  Milk is vulnerability; it is a cold in the nose, it is all of life, the bruised center between opening and closing.  As with Cornell’s assemblages, Stein poses a juxtaposition of concepts, which create a compendium of contradictions. Contradictions that are as real as those thoughts, beliefs, resignations found in anyone’s day to day life.  Stein holds the fragility of a moment, the transitory, and explores the nature of living through daily objects.  Stein’s poetry of “things” suggests that items are at least partially constructed by various descriptive details and that one item may contain details similar to another.  There exists then, the interaction between object and perception.  Perception involves the writer and audience’s memories and associations not only to an item but also to the intricacy of words.  These attachments are as much a component of any given description as the object itself.

Lynn Hejinian’s book-length poem My Life weaves an anaphora of phrases in and out of each section.  The book is essentially a collage of Hejinian’s life, containing 45 sections, one for each year of her life.  The book-length prose offers much material to penetrate moment by moment.  To analyze My Life is equivalent to dissecting Hejinian cell by cell.  Rather than to inspect each sentence of her mosaic, My Life is best understood by standing aside, viewing the object of the work from an appropriate distance, catching the prose through the corner of one’s eye, savoring the play of light crossing over the shoulder where effulgence can be observed as ‘wholeness.’  Hejinian’s My Life is a solid infinity, an organic patchwork, a type of pointillism that culminates in the image of a human being.  Each of the moments Hejinian cites, each breath as sentence, sustains an exquisite energy.  We pull from the vast entries, various moments of joy, disillusionment, surprise.    In the passage entitled “I wrote my name in every one of his books” Hejinian writes:

It was awhile before I understood what had come between the stars, to form the constellations.  They were at a restaurant owned by the Danes.  Now that I was “old enough to make my own decisions,” I dressed like everyone else.  People must flatter their own eyes with their pathetic lives.  The things I was saying followed logically the things that I had said before, yet they bore no relation to what I was thinking and feeling.  There was once a crooked man who rode a crooked mile—thereafter he wrote in a crooked style characteristic of the 19th century prose, a prose of science with cumulative sentences.  The ideal was of American property and she had received it from a farmer.  It includes buying thrillers and gunmen’s coats.  I was more terrified of the FBI agents than of the unspecified man who had kidnapped, murdered and buried the girl in the other fifth grade in the hill behind the school.  A pause, a rose, something on paper.  It was at about this time that my father provided me with every right phrase about the beauty and wonder of books. Colored cattle were grazing on a California hillside, so much of a single yellow that from this distance and at this hour it was impossible to see any gradation of light and shadow.  Individuality is animated by its sense of the infinite. [8]

In this passage Hejinian’s investigates her uniqueness as an individual and as a writer.   The passage explores the concept of individuation and underscores the manner by which these concepts not only manifest themselves on a personal basis but as concepts that are dependent on one another.  There are no constellations without stars, nor without space between stars.  This theme imbeds itself into Hejinian’s entire text.  Each sentence acts as its own “operator.”  Each sentence carries an extraordinary and unique power, just as the stars in the constellations, the cows in the field, the atoms within cells.  Without the sentences, there is no text, no shadowbox, no space ‘between’ to create interpretation or to understand the map of Hejinian’s life.  Hejinian randomly repeats many of her phrases/sentences throughout various sections of the text.   These fragments, for example: “A pause, a rose, something on paper,” “As for we who love to be astonished," “religion is a vague lowing,” and “a name trimmed with colored ribbons” reoccur like annual habits or daily rituals, memorial acts which compose a life.  These intricate statements act as pivot points within the prose as well as iconic traditions that are rejuvenated with altered meaning depending on the context surrounding them.   This repetition in itself evokes the elements of anticipation and surprise.  It is as if Hejinian comes to terms with the inevitable sequences of life, a fatalism she is never fully lost to, but one which she reminds herself of, surrenders herself to, and regularly questions.  In the same passage cited earlier, Hejinian continues:

I play a sentimental role.  The debater ‘makes his point,’ and in games, points tell the winner.  These, one suddenly finds childish, embarrassing, but not yet dull. Fallow power, bright red and yellow.  We say thought wanders where it should sweep.  As for we who ‘love to be astonished,’ she pretends she is a blacksmith.  In the hot lot beside the tire dealer a crew of two eats lunch.  There is always plenty to do until one is bored, and then the boredom itself generates the lack, generates its own necessary conditions.  Now she’s a violinist.  What is certain, at least, is that one must avoid dishonest work.  I quote my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother:  ‘I must everyday correct some fault in my morality or talents and remember how short a time I have to live.’  You might say she created her reality simply because she ‘would not have it any other way. [9]

The phrase “for we who love to be astonished” is arranged within a particular setting.  It is a location of emotional ‘boredom’ positioned within an imaginative vignette.  Later Hejinian replays this phrase.  In a passage headed “At the time the perpetual Latin of love kept things hidden,” she writes: 

Faces return with menace to the window. They lack appetite.  The car sat, a saddled pelican, hood up.  Restlessness is a form of doubt as well as a form of curiosity.  As for we who ‘love to be astonished,’ he’s a walker.  My grandmother had been a Christian Scientist, but somehow I turned the teachings, emphasizing not the perfectibility of the body but the power of the mind to corrupt it, so that I became a hypochondriac and worried about turning insane.   (59)

A reader may take what he or she likes from this passage: whimsy, truth, but Hejinian has given the phrase “for we who like to be astonished,” at least in this passage, a similar habitat as before.  Are we witnessing the same green parrot that Cornell resituated from shadowbox to shadowbox?  The emotional energy here evolves once again out of the wilderness of boredom and restlessness and once again meanders into an reminiscent teaching passed down the ancestral-matriarchy from grandmother to mother.  Hejinian, in restlessness it seems, forms an insatiable curiosity that she innately questions.    Her phrases are neologisms, a kind of slang, within her own lexicon.  She carefully and playfully delivers questions on mortality back to the reader.  If we depend too much on meaning, will the text turn us into literary hypochondriacs, restless individuals who must pin linear meaning to situational experiences which hold only as much resonance as we allow ourselves to elicit?  Ultimately, Hejinian’s prose is a mosaic of sentences that allow readers entry into another form of logic.  This logic is both self-selective and directive.  We as readers are asked to form our own interpretation of the variant symmetries that lay before us. At the same time Hejinian guides the reader through this process by specifically not offering a cohesive narrative. Hejinian writes:  “Mischief logic; Miss Chief.  I would be aloof, dark, indirect and upsetting or I would be a center of patience and material calm.[10]”  As with Stein’s poetry, Hejinian delves into the delights of word play, ‘mischief logic, miss chief,’ and in this exploration she expands the context of these odd, serendipitous juxtapositions; she magnifies their logic through carefully locating them within a context that provides synergy and provocation.  In the following  passage, Hejinian’s logic is to consider her own validity in managing will and self-control: “So that later, playing alone, I could imagine myself developing into a tree, and then I yearned to do so with so much desire that it made me shapeless, restless, sleepless, demanding, disagreeable.” Hejinian’s My Life, captures the universal experience of being human.  As readers we are catapulted through a myriad of mysteries, resonant scraps of beautifully articulated memorabilia, sentences acting as vivid stand-alone experiences to which we ultimately attach our own interpretation.  Hejinian’s canvas is as “large as life” and each viewer will be compelled to focus directly on the components of the assemblage that resonant clearly with their own interest.  If we consider the special quality of each sentence, as we might appreciate the uniqueness of each reader or ‘viewer’ of Hejinian’s work, what we witness is that the readers themselves are a component of Hejinian’s Life.  And what would the fabric of a writer’s life be, without the engagement of a reader?  What generativity?  What communion?

The Belgian painter Magritte, spent his early career engaging in the pairing of disparate images, images that did not relate, and in pairing these images he explored intuitive connections.  However, Magritte also discovered that the images do not need to be vastly disparate.  He wrote:

“One night in 1936, I awoke in a room in which a cage and the bird sleeping in it had been placed.  A magnificent error caused me to see an egg in the cage instead of the bird.  I then grasped a new and astonishing poetic secret because the shock I experienced had been provoked precisely by the affinity of the two objects, the cage and the egg, whereas previously I used to provoke this shock by bringing together objects that were unrelated. Ever after that revelation I sought to discover if objects other than the cage could not likewise manifest—by bringing to light some element peculiar to them and rigorously predetermined—the same evident poetry that the conjunction of the egg and cage had succeeded in producing.

This element to be discovered, this thing among all others obscurely attached to each object, suddenly came to me in the course of my investigations, and I realized that I had always known it beforehand, but that the knowledge of it was as if lost in the recesses of my mind.  Since this research could yield only one single exact response for each object, my investigations resembled the pursuit of the solution to a problem for which I had three data: the object, the thing connected with it in the shadow of my consciousness, and the light wherein that thing would become apparent.[11]

And who is to say that what is imagined is any less real.  The “shadow of the consciousness,” “the thing” and the ability for a poet to create “connection” are the elements which can drive a poem toward its finish, toward both mystery and illumination. 

Poetry aims to pass the educated pathway of the logical mind, flying, as it will, through a tangle of accidents, biomorphisms, reaching the outskirts, the unconscious and the intuitive.  Larry Levis wrote the poem “In 1967,”  “I still felt/ the bird’s flight in my body when I thought about it, the wing ache, /Lifting heaven, locating itself somewhere just above my slumped/ shoulders, & part of me taking wing.”[12]  When we enter the realm of poetry, we are asked to listen to the world through our peripheral vision.  The message we are to comprehend lodges itself elsewhere in the body of our consciousness; this is the mystery, perhaps the definition, of poetry.                                              

 



[1] Nohra Corredor, “Space-Time to Joseph Cornell.” www.ecologicalart.org/timinjoscora.html.

 

[2] Mary Ann Caws(Ed). Joseph Cornell Theatre of the Mind Selected Diaries, Letters and Files. (Thames and Hudson, 1993), 31.

 

[3] Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: a life story. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,1969). pp.131-132. Excerpt from, (this excerpt was from deleted portions of Ernest Hemmingway’s original manuscript; “Big Two Hearted River”)

 

[4] L. Berger, “The Birds That Are Not in our Hands,” Unexpected Aviary.  (Deerbrook Editions, Cumberland ME 2003), 13.

 

[5] Louis Borge, Labryinths Selected Stories and Other Writings. (New York, NY: New Directions Publishing, 1962), 23.

 

[6] Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997, copyright 1914), 9.

 

[7] Ibid., 30.

 

[8] Lynn Heijnian,  My Life. (Kobenhaven and Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2002), 48-49.

 

[9] Ibid., 49.

 

[10]Ibid., 38.

 

[11] Suzan Gablick, Marguritte, (New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1970), 101.

 

[12] Larry Levis, Elegy. (Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press, 1997), 5.

 

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