Whatcha Reading, Pactor?

Posted: May 16, 2012 in greater writers than me

ImageNotes on The Source (Futurepoem, 2011), by Noah Eli Gordon

–Philosophical undercurrent—Grecian, I think. Platonic, more precisely. Greeks played heavily on the relationship between words and things. Maybe the Kabbalists did, too, but see *. Anyway, Socrates’ victims found themselves hard-pressed to define the forms of temperance. So what? “[I]f a complete meaning does not result, at least the shadow of a mood will.” Also:

                       The Source consists

                       of such propositions; such

                       propositions consist

                       of words; words are

                       symbols of notions. I know

                       only bodily things, but

                       knowledge has no container.

–Difficulty level—high, for sure, particularly for a reader without much experience reading contemporary poetry, but not impossible. True, the syntax can frustrate. Other times, the piecing together of sentences and phrases leads to dazzling results: “We remembered, while reading, that there had once been works which had not tried to prove anything, content to stand on their own merits, not presuming to eat of their patron’s bread, saying this would wake me—the noise of some guns, smoke ascending to heaven” In particular, the piecing together leads to brilliant, surprising metaphors: “These progressions are denounced as wrong, and sound like someone dressed as a fisherman dropping coins into a sailor’s pocket.”

–Composition—Briefly, the poet used only language found on pg. 26 of books at the Denver Public Library. Sometimes whole sentences are used. Sometimes, apparently, sentences are cut up and the pieces fused together to assemble new thoughts and ideas. Composition is the appropriate word. The careful cutting and pasting lead, amazingly enough, given the wide range of books available at any library to a unified work.

–Cover–reminiscent of those Bibles distributed by annoying old men.

–Unity—yes. Themes (including themes language, war, and performance) are introduced from the go. Sometimes they fade back, sometimes one stands out more sharply than others, but these themes are explored and tie the work together.

–Conclusion—appropriation of language different in kind but not in practice of any writer. The writer or poet uses whatever he or she finds before him in order to explore particular themes and to see whether he or she can make something new out of the old. Lovely.

*I make no comment on the Kabbalistic element of this work. I know this much about Kabbalah—whatever Madonna’s doing, it is not Kabbalah.

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