Jack Butler, "Not Quite Like Son"
Einstein's son is dead, who studied sediment,
God bless his courage. He knew more
about the way the water met the shore
or buckled off some derelict impediment
than anyone had known before.
His father's differential gaze almost, almost
undid the final lucid veil:
So we'll recall it till the yarn goes stale.
Would it have been the blazing focus of that Ghost,
too terrible to fade or fail?
Or pools of zero, like the little virtual o's
swirls breed in puddles at noonday,
that swarm, and freckle, and seem almost to play,
false pupils on wrinkled sand? How should we suppose,
who hardly know enough to say
how two skeins of meat can connect us to the sun?
Light crawls down sewers to the brain
but keeps a cleanliness that none explain.
He proved nothing, but brought, watery, trembling, one
frail field to almost total gain.
God bless his son, who shaped no legend for himself,
but made himself useful and gave
plain counsel on the sunken limestone cave,
the running wave rumpled on the continental shelf,
and the wave standing off the wave.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
- Tony Hoagland, "Beauty"
When the medication she was taking
caused tiny vessels in her face to break,
leaving faint but permanent blue stitches in her cheeks,
my sister said she knew she would
never be beautiful again.
After all those years
of watching her reflection in the mirror,
sucking in her stomach and standing straight,
she said it was a relief,
being done with beauty,
but I could see her pause inside that moment
as the knowledge spread across her face
with a fine distress, sucking
the peach out of her lips,
making her cute nose seem, for the first time,
a little knobby.
I’m probably the only one in the whole world
who actually remembers the year in high school
she perfected the art
of being a dumb blond,
spending recess on the breezeway by the physics lab,
tossing her hair and laughing that canary trill
which was her specialty,
while some football player named Johnny
with a pained expression in his eyes
wrapped his thick finger over and over again
in the bedspring of one of those pale curls.
Or how she spent the next decade of her life
auditioning a series of tall men,
looking for just one with the kind
of attention span she could count on.
Then one day her time of prettiness
was over, done, finito,
and all those other beautiful women
in the magazines and on the streets
just kept on being beautiful
everywhere you looked,
walking in that kind of elegant, disinterested trance
in which you sense they always seem to have one hand
touching the secret place
that keeps their beauty safe,
inhaling and exhaling the perfume of it—
It was spring. Season when the young
buttercups and daisies climb up on the
mulched bodies of their forebears
to wave their flags in the parade.
My sister just stood still for thirty seconds,
amazed by what was happening,
then shrugged and tossed her shaggy head
as if she was throwing something out,
something she had carried a long ways,
but had no use for anymore,
now that it had no use for her.
That, too, was beautiful.
Friday, April 18, 2014
This brings us to the true enigma: why does the encounter with a face covered by burka trigger such anxiety? Is it then, that a face covered by burka is no longer the Levinasian face, the Otherness from which the unconditional ethical call emanates? But what if the case is the opposite one? From a Freudian perspective, face is the ultimate mask that conceals the horror of the Neighbor-Thing: face is what makes the Neighbor le semblable, a fellow-man with whom we can identify and empathize. (Not to mention the fact that today, many faces are surgically changed and thus deprived of the last vestiges of natural authenticity.) This then, is why a covered face causes such anxiety: because it confronts us directly with the abyss of the Other-Thing, with the Neighbor in its uncanny dimension. The very covering-up of the face obliterates a protective shield, so that the Other-Thing stares at us directly (recall that burka has a narrow slip for the eyes: we don’t see the eyes, but we know there is a gaze there). Alphonse Allais presented his own version of Salome’s dance of seven veils: when Salome is completely naked, Herod shouts “Go on! On!”, expecting her to take off also the veil of her skin. We should imagine something similar with burka: the opposite of a woman taking off her burka and revealing her natural face. What if we go a step further and imagine a woman “taking off” the skin of her face itself, so that what we see beneath her face is precisely an anonymous dark smooth burka-like surface with a narrow slit for the gaze? “Love thy neighbor!” means, at its most radical, precisely the impossible=real love for this de-subjectivized subject, for this monstrous dark blot cut with a slit/gaze… This is why, in the psychoanalytic treatment, the patient is not sitting face to face to the analyst: they both stare at a third point, since it is only this suspension of the face which opens up the space for the proper dimension of the Neighbor. And therein also resides the limit of the well-known critico-ideological topic of the society of total control where we are all the time tracked and recorded – what eludes the eye of the camera is not some intimate secret but the gaze itself, the object-gaze as the crack/stain in the Other.- Slavoj Zizek, "The Neighbor in Burka"
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
T.S. Eliot, "The Dry Salvages"
…there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightening
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Liberalism. . . tends to release energy rather than accumulate it, to relax, rather than to fortify. It is a movement not so much defined by its end, as by its starting point; away from, rather than towards, something definite. Our point of departure is more real to us than our destination; and the destination is likely to present a very different picture when arrived at, from the vaguer image formed in imagination. By destroying traditional social habits of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified, by fostering a notion of getting on to which the alternative is a hopeless apathy, Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own negative: the artificial, mechanized or brutalised control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.- T.S. Eliot (CC, 12)