“sometimes, even killing yourself wouldn’t be enough. like when you realize that your entire life has been lived under a presumption of free will, but all you’ve been able to make of it is a sad parody of everything you used to hate. slowly, without trying, everyone becomes what he despises most.”—Liner notes to Songs About Fucking, for “Tiny, King of the Jews”
“the things people do when they have nothing to do can be pretty silly. those same people can become all-important in each others lives. the things they do increase in importance in proportion. soon a lot of people who do nothing individually scrutinize the miniscule doings of the others. this, in short, is ‘falling in love.’”—Big Black - liner notes to Songs About Fucking. Corresponds to the track “Pavement Saw”
I read a Bolaño poem, “Soni,” a couple of times last night
I can’t remember if it’s one I have in a book or have read in Spanish before but in any case I won’t think too much about the language since it’s translation not that there’s anything wrong with that
"like a single bird two old men arrive / Archilochus and Anacreon and Simonides" I can’t help but think of that Parra poem which Bolaño has referred to before about the four great Chilean poets being three and which goes on to name only two. The Bolaño line reverses it with the numbers increasing. One bird two old men three Greek poets
Then the poets “sheathing their willow branches” leads into “I laid her back and / shoved the whole thing in” rather obviously. But better than that is immediately following shoving it in comes “Something crunched between / the dog’s ears” in a rather sickening progression and image
I thought it was you. I thought it was the person it was. I thought it was the person I would talk to. I also thought it was the person I’ve called you, otherwise I would not say you to them. And it was you. It was the person it was, and the person I thought it was. It was the person I talked to, and the person I thought I would talk to. It was also the person I call you, and the person I would call you. Otherwise I could not call them you, and probably would not call them you.
“And before I forget, I’d like to be the first to congratulate everyone who has not committed suicide up until now. Camouflaged and lightless congregation, the world will never know your names, never know of its debt to you, or what you suffered; with what uncomplaining anguish you sacrificed the one thing all hold most dear, most have in common, the sense of being completely different from anybody else—it just vanished at some point, having attained its sexually mature and winged stage. You had a great vision about it, but told no one.”—Franz Wright - “Imago”
“Every time I read that someone has spoken badly of me I begin to cry, I drag myself across the floor, I scratch myself, I stop writing indefinitely, I lose my appetite, I smoke less, I engage in sport, I go for walks on the edge of the sea, which by the way is less than 30 meters from my house, and I ask the seagulls, whose ancestors ate the fish who ate Ulysses: Why me? Why? I’ve done you no harm.”—Roberto Bolaño
Not any of my books, as they’re back in Brisbane, but just whatever I can find on Poetry Foundation.
“Sneeze Ode” has a simple subject: it appears to be about little more than sneezing. Still, Young carries it off with apt descriptions of the event, my favourite being “its end-of-the-world, / mobster-motor, a-gog cog.” A lot of that is just from “a-gog cog,” sounding so much like the gulping, gasping build-up to the explosion. And on that, the explosion within the poem (rendered with just a simple, unelaborated “kerBOOM”) comes late, as though Young has also left room for the panic, the itching, the preparation that happens first.
This build-up elaborates on the sneeze. “Its argument / is politics not music” sets up its brashness. For who likes to get into political arguments, and how long do they stay civilised? And so on. Some these initial lines, with their roughness of speech (“You better not be holding nothing full,” “better not got hurt ribs,” “not crumpled in no hark-a-lark hankie”) also contribute to the effect. Best, though, is the repetition of various sounds within each line: “wow of wooing,” “nothing you can do, not the court / stenographer.” But I say this out of my own predilection (thank Hopkins). They seem more about the pleasure of the sounds than my example of “a-gog cog” and what it does.
A nice progression: from the simple comparisons to coughs and hiccups, to court stenographers maybe screwing up typing, to pilots maybe screwing up landing, to cathedrals with cracks, to gods. It gets weightier and weightier until kerBOOM and even after that, the shrapnel of the body is in orbit. Almost like ending at the end-of-the-world as promised at the start, or continuing the progression of topics all the way out into the universe.
“The work of salvage, removal of DEBRIS, human remains etc has been entrusted to Messrs Michael Meade and Son, 159 Great Brunswick street, and Messrs T. and C. Martin, 77, 78, 79 and 80 North Wall, assisted by the men and officers of the Duke of Cornwall’s light infantry under the general supervision of H. R. H., rear admiral, the right honourable sir Hercules Hannibal Habeas Corpus Anderson, K. G., K. P., K. T., P. C., K. C. B., M. P, J. P., M. B., D. S. O., S. O. D., M. F. H., M. R. I. A., B. L., Mus. Doc., P. L. G., F. T. C. D., F. R. U. I., F. R. C. P. I. and F. R. C. S. I.”—Ulysses, Chapter 12 (“Cyclops”)