Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Sam was perhaps four or five, we went to the Art Museum at UVA. There was an old Greek pot, perhaps from 1000 BCE according to the literature. I was telling Sam about it, and he turned to me and said "you mean the Greeks were real?"

I may not understand talk about history or historical consciousness that is in some relation to Hegel and Marx. That is, I think this means an awareness of the historically contingent nature of a trope or term or moment. In this sense the plot, so to speak, of history matters. That is, what does it mean to “know history” in a thing or relation or term. Once history as such is problematized, i.e., once we acknowledge that history may lack a plot, what does it mean to know history? What are we aware of?

I acknowledge the facticity of an artifact, its having been in time, and some duration that it carries, but it is hard to know if this is partly a sense I bring to the viewing. After all, not all old things speak this way.

& in one way “historical contingency” might be a new name for a discovery of limit and thus hated, a thing to be thrown off

I have the sense that “historical consciousness” is in some way a false consciousness, a wizard of oz thing that is really about something else.


I wrote the following along the margins of trying to think about history, though, as usual, it is also about other things.


The Desired Ruins


Odd jutted absences left by
ruler and scale, blood on the floor after,
elements of speech &
other flowers of history

we must read against our traces I
suppose, or that you would feel
a history I wasn’t, sitting near an Ottoman
while I made tea between afternoon walls.

Against class or whatever current
faux pas we keep digging into the floor,
the stick remembers to parse. Please
don’t notice any of the references

made by my selection of prints. I am
this, but we are to change history
not steep it we live among
places our bodies fit.


The performance space downtown on Stores
lacks a similar breath, but was nonetheless
designed as home’s Absalom. Childlike drawings
marked the warehouse a liberated where

history was strewn apart attic, disarmed
but still fly-like, festooned in fetish knots
hung net in curtained arc under a hard white
fixture. Hence a similacrum of a wallpaper,
purchase, carrying its own obedience,
the steps by which proper.


He glowed candescent as breath held
fed the brief, more intense, circatrice

up against the way days become knots
reflected sky across a window shade

thick species (it became mucus to
stop word’s curtain from//became rain

if saying makes it ripen too quick let
it be weather again in your windpipe

set that sail, not words, the ocean may
at last be vast enough, to dispel

last night’s reading was a smaller affair
woven bell-like into the sheep’s fence

(this is a place you know, not an “a”
beside sky anonymous—we were there)

In the atmosphere of corners he said,
“this is just your hope, you’d rather

I don’t think the ceiling was as close
as all that, as conversant, as dulled aping.”

I listened, but what to do with the different
registers? A quick sketch does no justice.

I call this Marat’s hand, the one he extended
to us, when we dropped by his rooms.

Just another buyer’s market that season’s
elemental chance, or change, does so undue.


The plot of my body’s day is not an adequate landscape for the breadth of my dreams written sideways and through walls. I am, sadly also that, in this body—at best a storm leaking because too full (swamp whisps, or gas jetting at night in Alberta). I suppose I could say the dreams catch on the thorns of my fingers and ribs, get caught there like seaweed, or Spanish moss, parasitic, trying to bloom in the air. This holds them a moment to a place I wish worked as regularly as a loom, instead sighs and shits, occasionally my tongue types a precise clatter, I catch dream scarves on my ulna, broken sill. All the years of my life have not been even close to whale enough to rise from the sea and swallow even one candescent slip of what I’ve dreamed and thus been charged to hold up before rocks, trees and sky, a man holding fist or bowl (or a small child showing his teacher a small metal car a year before he will discover he is ugly beyond words), what I’ve wanted, oh beautiful stars, such a great, great harbor and quilt.

I could search through my history for traces there was ever a place adequate to hold such an ocean. He said in Cambridge, or the evenfall of adolescent unity, when childhood spills into dusk, embrace and bone, there awkward in the August Plum Island sand or Ithaca, turned sardine blue by a deep Atlantic chill. All the bicycles parked against a room with stereos nodding Jefferson Airplane sell-out, in sub-urban as opposed to scaffolded bungalo boo. We are more than can be rationally supposed or turned artifact to skill.

The chef inside mutters “He’s just one more man hoping his life’s big enough to show everyone how big dream’s far away carnival lights shine out Atlantic summer are. He’s just one more paper myth tacked to the trailing index, pupae intact. See? Special. Reduce that fucking soup some more.”

In among small refuse a black obsidian difference might hold, not dreams, but that distance between the piled years and which dreams swept through them & piled autumn leaves as quilt asunder. Mark to keep your finger on or thumb, as if to sometime detonate or rub to smooth. Black obsidian chalice cicatrice or scarb to replace tooth. Under this rick, this well-stone talk, this auber. Button of sky.

I am hoping that making a fence from sheep’s wool will never-the-less “stop the gap”. But no rheostat can span the steepled difference that myth writes indicate over barns and yards. Nor flies of angels be what says the tall: a cardinal stood red, the tree against the sky, all doubled and dove to branch away.


Body needs to know scale dream flies through. Can’t. Won’t.
Dies (or dyes, yellow, its efforts in sills).