Random Photo: Museum Piece: Self in Arp

self in Arp sculpture speed museum

A photo a day keeps the Doctor in play.

Grendel’s Laundry List: Root Meaning to Gleam

The word meaning goes back to a root that signifies “opinion” or
“intention,” and is closely related the word moaning.  A poem’s
meaning is a poem’s complaint, its version of Keats’ Belle Dame (sans
Merci), who looked as if she loved, and made sweet moan. Poems
instruct us in how they break form to bring about meaning, so as to
utter a complaint, a moaning intended to be all their own.

The word form goes back to a root meaning “to gleam” or “to sparkle,”
but in a poem it is not form itself that gleams or sparkles.  The
lustres of poetic meaning come rather from the breaking apart of form,
from the shattering of the visionary gleam.

All that a poem can be about, or what in a poem is other that trope,
is the skill or faculty of invention or discovery, the heuristic gift.

Form, in poetry, ceases to be trope only when it becomes topos, only
when it is revealed as a place of invention. This revelation depends
upon a breaking. Its best analogue is when any of us becomes aware of
love just as the object of love is irreparably lost.

The truest sources, again necessarily, are in the powers of poems
already written, or rather, already read.  Dryden said of poets that
“we have our lineal descents and clans as well as other families.”
Families, at least unhappy ones, are not all alike, except perhaps in
Freud’s sense of “Family Romances.” What dominates Freud’s notion is
the child’s fantasy making power.  What counts in the family romance
is not, alas, what the parents actually were or did, but the child’s
fantastic interpretation of its parents.  The child provides a myth,
and this myth is close to poets’ myths of the origin of their
creativity, because it involves the fiction of being a changeling.  A
changeling-fiction is one of the stances of freedom. The changeling is
free because his very existence is a disjunction, and because the
mystery of his origins allows for Gnostic reversals of the natural
hierarchy between parents and children.

Emerson, in his most idealizing temper, said of the poets that they
were liberating gods, that they were free and made others free.  I
would amend this by saying that poets make themselves free, by their
stances towards earlier poets, and make others free only by teaching
them those stances or positions of freedom.

Freedom, in a poem, must mean freedom of meaning, the freedom to have
a meaning of one’s own.  Such freedom is wholly illusory unless it is
achieved against a prior plenitude of meaning, which is tradition, and
so also against language.

Whether one accepts a theory of language that teaches the dearth or
meaning, or that teaches its plenitude, does not seem to me to matter.
All I ask is the theory of language be extreme and uncompromising

Either the new poet fights to win freedom from dearth, or from
plenitude, but if the antagonist be moderate, the agon will not take
place, and no fresh sublimity will be won. Only the agon is of the
essence.  Why?  Is it merely my misprison, to believe that good poems
must be combative.

Harold Bloom, The Breaking of Form

Note: I fished the book which contains this essay from the 25 cent bin
at a used bookstore about twenty years ago. Contra Bloom, I think freedom in poem means freedom from meaning. By any means or gleams necessary.

*Grendel’s Laundry List is an irregular but continuing series of readings in texts helpful to an understanding of the Atheology and Theodicy of the Seventh Day Atheist Aztec Baptist Church.

Random Photo: “it’s mild and mellow”

revelation mild and mellow

A photo a day keeps the Doctor in play.

Steal This Meme: …why I hide them…

freud with easter bunny twk shad

Scripture reading for Easter 2019:


Life is a plum circus, replete with sorrows. A feast of mallow, and scorn. A hyperbolic paraboloid of concrete poured on form of straight timbers. Life is:  a swatch of sun, abandoned by insect beetling through the loam. A quest for Ultima Thule,  Kontiki–only to find walking nosehead gods carved of native stone.  A Sunday stroll past pickets ringing a nudist colony–at the pace of Foyt lapping the Brickyard. Mangoes and papaya–dripping lackaday typos and sticky addenda.  Purple mountain’s majesty–beyond the vehicular haze of Quivera. A straight blast down the gunbarrel road of Colorado’s South Park, while overhead lazybones sculls down his gruesome spiral to gorge on curdled meat of tire’s victim. A lubricious compound, stardust and swampwater. Pleasure targeted by Peenemunde, a zero sum game. Peignoir over chastity belt.  Jolt of Tesla at tip of glans, bon voyaging Mongol horde of sperm–“there died a myriad” that one might live. Plasticity humbled, the juggernaut of flesh reduced to a chassis of bone, to a float reclaimed from wilted flora on day after parade, the flowers wirra interred as mesh and bar to reinforce that other flesh, earth. Sweet cream Venus in her teens forgetful of Psyche so black and blue. A turbojet engine, ear-mulching bagpipe, its spin snuffed on mere peck of grackle. Tickling pinkies of April giggling over scorched October, that old wives’ tale of Midas’ touch, all gilt and russet. The love song of J. Alfred Humpback, pitching woo to his diving partner until they press like palms together in lewd and vertical expulsion from depths of Eden; meanwhile other whale parts get skived for sushi. All is spoil.  All is plush.  Life but paint spattered on drop canvas while idled mind departs, now voyageur to Neptune. Life but Pacmen in muck under mechanic’s nails, eating at the quick, while other sediments beget wetlands. Pogroms plucking up multitudes while penicillin saves greater tribes, one by one. The discouraging score barely tallied as the next deck gets shuffled and dealt.

This life is sorrows, replete with a plum circus.

And always, the egg.

Eugene Zandler, 2003

As Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, puts it, “The stupidest possible creative act is still a creative act.” Words to live by in the latter days of the Internet Age. Steal this meme. 

Random Photo: Soup Moon

half moon caldo guanoquito

A photo a day keeps the Doctor in play.

caldo de gallina pepper

Fear the pepper.


wheres the love crop twk 1

A photo a day keeps the Doctor in play.


Random Photo: Sinister Communion

alwatan falafel hummus hand

A photo a day keeps the Doctor in play.