Monday, June 02, 2003

Aside from a few mental breakdowns re my upcoming cohabitation with ma belle dame avec merci (only two bachelor days remain), I spent this weekend retooling Fourier Series in order to send it off to a publisher for consideration today. It's funny how you can have a deep background for a work—all this Fourier stuff, along with various asides on California and John Wayne—without really knowing how present that background will be to a reader of it. Jeffrey Jullich had a post to the Poetics list about Matthew Barney, who I don't know much about but whose massive book The Cremaster Trilogy is on display behind the counter at The Bookery and is thus subject to my persual. Jeffrey wrote about how Barney has all of this arcana, all of these analogies and explanations, in short a "personal cosmology," behind the truly weird imagery of his films. It seems to me from what he describes that a viewer might sense the presence of Barney's cosmology as one might sense the hidden mass of an iceberg without having the slightest apprehension of what it actually looks like or means. Is that hidden weight, that ballast, sufficient? Put another way: would someone who has studied Charles Fourier find my book to be of any interest, or would they not even see the connection aside from the title? (A title I'm not 100 percent happy with. I've toyed with alternatives like The Whirl [Fourier's other name for the phalanx of 1,620 people that would compose the basic population unit of his utopia)] or Nectarine [which has something to do with the notion of hybridity; I don't have a better explanation at hand—but I believe the piece that was printed in New American Writing appeared under this title].) Will any reader, in short, see the book the way I see it? Almost certainly not. Even Selah, which is a much more straightforward piece of work, is bound to be from my perspective misunderstood—though if one accounts for that misunderstanding and accepts it as a natural event, a new word is called for: disunderstood, reunderstood, something like that. Though I might feel otherwise once I start reading reviews of my work, I think all I ask for from a reader is some sympathy with the spirit of my intentions. This vague animal, "the spirit of my intentions," is the minimum I hope to communicate in poetry—beyond that I'm less interested in communication than I am in creating experiences.

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