Monday, March 01, 2004

Need a narrative to sustain me now. Drifting among pieces of poems from Norma Cole, Lisa Fishman, Rosmarie Waldrop. Brief scalding baths in their intelligence. But I spent most of the evening finishing a novel by Charles Baxter, Saul and Patsy. A book of modest ambitions, I thought as I was reading it, but it turns out to be yet another response (less bloody than most) to the Columbine massacres. A satisfyingly miniature world. So many novelists depend on the construct of the village to make their plots work: a limited number of characters mattering to each other. But how many of us still live in villages? Maybe we all still do and what dissatisfies me about these works (and most fiction) is how it doesn't pay the right sort of attention to how nowadays we make and will our villages. Blogland the obvious example, though the Buffalo-listers (won't you stay home tonight?) decry us as boutiquists to their public square, which somehow in their rhetoric manages to combine the virtues of manfulness with vulnerability. We are all vulnerable enough already, I think. It bores me. The problem bores me. No: not the problem, but its setting. An insufficiency of foil.

Rosmarie Waldrop, from her poem "In a Flash" in Love, Like Pronouns:
There were fragments. I was born.
It was not justified. I
learned: the impenetrability of bodies.
But a penetrating look? To "surge
before." To haggle ill-equipped.
And "that other" opposed to.
Desire. I was calm between my selves.
Reminds me of the beginning of Clark Coolidge's At Egypt: "I came here. I don't know you here." Brilliant. The givenness, the inheritance, of position. This goes back to what Gary was saying about marking. Which has sent me back to Bruce Andrews from the library today. I Don't Have Any Paper So Shut Up. Exactly. or, Social Romanticism. Yes. Writing is fighting is the already holey body, hiding the reader's face in its sleeves.

Barney's Cremaster cycle has come to Cornell Cinema this week, and it sounds like I'm ready for it.

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