Friday, April 25, 2003

A bright, edenic afternoon in Emily's backyard, where the flowers are coming to life and Bogie the dog wriggles on his back in the grass like an eel of pleasure. Down in Maryland Emily's brother and sister-in-law have just had themselves a baby girl, their second daughter, who we'll be going down to visit in a week or two. Right now I'm reading Jameson talk about Bloch and Proust, which makes me want to be reading Proust, that absurdly grand assemblage of discrete gestures that according to Jameson is supposed to present us with a foretaste of life without death, brought about by the reconciliation of the subject to his or her objective world. Or something like that—the afternoon is expansive and demands expansive gestures. I've made a couple of attempts upon Proust but never got more than halfway through Swann's Way—the prose is simply too rich to read in the normal, voracious way I read novels. An edition which broke down the book into separate paragraphs surrounded by white space would do me a lot of good—it would take forever to read the book that way, but of course my not reading it takes even longer. Now I'm going to turn aside from heady speculations on utopia and into the somewhat more concrete worlds of Daniel Davidson and Haryette Mullen, whose books Culture and Sleeping with the Dictionary are our final texts for the contemporary poetry class I've been attending this semester. Mullen's commitment to the sheer euphony of the bare signifier is much more immediately pleasurable for me than Davidson's work, but he is nonetheless doing work on me at or just below the level of consciousness. There's a pathos that emerges from the boredom of a poem like "Bureaucrat, my love" that is almost unbearable. You have to know a little bit about his life to get that dimension; it's almost the opposite of conceptual art, where you need to know what the artist's idea was to understand how he's organized the materials he's drawn from his experience.

Too beautiful outside to stay in here. Go play!

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