Thursday, May 01, 2003

I too would like to thank Gary for his all-day mementos of Daniel Davidson. He sounds so much like his work, really—a vortex of energy that infuriates as much as it inspires, and which instills a certain affection, even a protectiveness, in its readers. At least it seems to have had that effect on me.

Feeling blogged out. It's been a summerlike day and a summerlike thunderstorm may be in the offing. The semester is grinding to a close. What do I have to offer you today, my readers?

How about this: opening up Benjamin's Reflections, I see this epigraph to "The Author as Producer": "The task is to win over the intellectuals to the working class by making them aware of the identity of their spiritual enterprises and of their conditions as producers." That's worth chewing on, but what really fascinates me is that the quote is attributed to a "Ramón Fernandez." Naturally I think immediately of Stevens:
Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
Tell me if you know what further connection might be possible between a Marxist conception of the author as proletarian worker and Stevens' conception of the artist as ontological "arranger" (that stanza could almost be a paraphrase of Heidegger's description of the ways in which a Greek temple arranges, deepens, and enchants the world around it. Stevens' "reality" always wants to assimilate itself to "nature," but a Marxist reading of his work would have to historicize both "reality" and the "imagination" that presses back against it. Hum. Anyway, I'm intrigued by the Ramon Fernandez bit, though Stevens has neglected the accent. A quick Google search tells me that Stevens acknowledged the existence of the real Ramon Fernandez in a letter to the Italian critic Renato Poggioli : "I simply put together by chance two exceedingly common names in order to make one and I did not have in mind Ramon Fernandez. Afterwards, someone asked me whether I meant the man you have in mind. I had never even given him a conscious thought. The real Fernandez used to write feuilletons in one of the Paris weeklies and it is true that I used to read these. But I did not have him in mind" (Letters of Wallace Stevens 823). Could Fernandez represent the return of a repressed consciousness of the Marxist critique which would utterly change a reader's conception of the otherwise purely artistic "order" of the poem?

Should read the Benjamin essay now. Here's one of my favorite Stevens poems; I'm always ripping Stevens off in way or another, and this one is forever resurfacing unexpectedly in my work:
Loneliness in Jersey City

The deer and the dachsund are one.
Well, the gods grow out of the weather.
The people grow out of the weather;
The gods grow out of the people.
Encore, encore, encore les dieux. . .

The distance between the dark steeple
And cobble ten thousand and three
Is more than seven-foot inchworm
Could measure by moonlight in June.

Kiss, cats: for the deer and the dachsund
Are one. My window is twenty-nine three
And plenty of window for me.
The steeples are empty and so are the people,
There's nothing whatever to see
Except Polacks that pass in their motors
And play concertinas all night.
They think that things are all right,
Since the deer and the dachsund are one.

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