Monday, December 10, 2007

Two Rs

Une saison en enfer. An imaginary etymology: en is "in" and fer is "iron," so hell is in iron or to be in irons, and to be in hell doubles that enclosure. So: a season in in-iron; a season in-in hell.

Or, interiority: not hell is other people but hell is the other people that are the I that is an other.

Radiohead in The New York Times: Thom Yorke's donnish perch at a pub table in Oxford where he and his bandmates live (city of dreaming spires, Jude's Christchurch) moving bits of paper around on a cider-splashed table, the bits that shall become In Rainbows. Thom Yorke's civilized yawp bobbing and filling, the students circulating. Puts it on the Internet: pay what you want. [But the window has closed.]

"O seasons, O castles! / What soul's without hassles?" Worst. Translation. Ever.

As though assembling and disassembling my own plausibly denied youth. The radio-station stoners offered to set me up, toke me, put my head in rainbows—"we want to see what you'll say." No, I said, afraid of the law, of myself, my vocabulary's enough drugs for me. My vocabulary...

Another interrogation: the heavy lids, the loose cravat, the yellow nails, the smirk. His mother just offstage pulling her terrible quills erect. "But why did you resign?" "After the war? Before the war? Which war?" The letters have stopped speaking their colors. Head lolling, amused and unafraid, in the cabbage patch with the other Bibles waiting to be plucked.

Thousands and thousands of us downloading songs that question their own value and putting them in our ears: on trains, on buses, on subways, in the street, in classrooms, in "the peaceful home." Journey to the interior. "I think the train is lost." "How can it be lost? It's on rails!" . Another festschrit of quirks for our consummation. Owen Wilson's wounded head.

A secret verb presides over these paragraphs that mostly seem to concern themslves with the presentation of certain facts about our cultural life. Being poses as becoming in a dark alley. Becoming waits for being outside the stage door, methodically lopping the heads off the flowers in the bouquet.

In a minor key, as it were absentmindedly, we chain ourselves to each other in our tastes. This gregariousness of taste is political yet unpowerful till the generation sets like jello and taste becomes something else. (Blander, more wiggly, cool on the tongue.) Then you may read the tea leaves at the bottom of our leaders' cups. We live in the age of Republican rock and roll and the niche markets of the alternative juggernaut. (Sounds itself like a band.) Transgression is no longer secular. We are beset.

Is he dead or asleep? Neither poet nor soldier but the gun-runner goes between. Festering aftermath we call life.

In their thirties raising families between albums, as Rimbaud never did. Never even raised himself.

Disordered, our senses, OK Computer. Fitter, happier, more productive. Not drinking too much.

There is a leap between continents and centuries that they occupy, the modernists. Village explainers and dwellers. "Where'd you park the car?" Dying fall that reveals the network, the static ants we are, what Gibson gave us: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." Above the port. The hero, Case, a failed data pirate, now a quasi-suicidal "artiste" of the fast and loose deal. A new employer and neurosurgery give Case a new lease on life and he goes back to exploring and unfolding the rich fields of data, to penetrating the collective cognitive map of the twenty-nth century's capital.

As though Rimbaud had returned to poetry, armed with all of his guns. "Je reviendrai, avec des membres de fer, la peau sombre, l'oeil furieux: sur mon masque, on me jugera d'une race forte." I will return with limbs of iron, dark skin, a furious eye: from my mask they will judge me as being of a strong race.

We must be absolutely modern.

O seasons, o chateaus,
What soul is flawless?

O seasons, o chateaus,

I've made the magic study
Of happiness no one escapes.

O he is reborn each time
The Gallic cock sings.

But I will desire no more—
It has conquered my life.

Such charm! it took soul and body
And scattered every effort.

What can be made of my language?
It causes them to flee, to fly.

O seasons, o chateaus!

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