a series of fragments & notes about Chance, Fate, and Context by Dara Wier ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Something we tend to do a lot of–experience apophenia– and it seems the only questions might involve when is too much apophenia too much–can there be too many connections or too much meaningfulness–ever——and what is “abnormal” meaningfulness—-ever——–
apophenia comes around: the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”
Preface (from THE LOST WORLD, ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE)
Professor Summerlee gave a snort of impatience. “We have spent two long days in exploration, ” said he, “and we are no wiser as to the actual geography of the place than when we started. It is clear that it is all thickly wooded, and it would take months to penetrate it and to learn the relations of one part to another. If there were some central peak it would be different, but it all slopes downwards, so far as we can see. The farther we go the less likely it is that we will get any general view…You area all turning your brains towards getting into this country. I say we should be scheming how to get out of it.” “I am surprised, sir,” boomed Challenger, stroking his majestic beard, “that any man of science should commit himself to so ignoble a sentiment….I absolutely refuse to leave until we are able to take back with us something in the nature of a chart.
This is the epigraph that sits on top of the FOREWORD for Alberto Manguel’s and Gianni Guadalupi’s THE DICTIONARY OF IMAGINARY PLACES (1999).
______________ aside: irregardless of THE DICTIONARY OF IMAGINARY PLACES:
where apophenia comes around: the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness” is the world we inhabit, when someone connects and means, especially when these return the thrill of an essential experience of presence, I am glad, grateful, curious, something has registered: alive ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here is the first entry in THE BOOK OF IMAGINARY PLACES:
ABATON (from the Greek a, not; banino, I go), a town of changing location. Though not inaccessible, no one has ever reached it and visitors headed for Abaton have been known to wander for many years without even catching a glimpse of the town. Certain travellers, however, have seen it rising slightly above the horizon, especially at dusk. While to some the sight has caused great rejoicing, others have been moved to terrible sorrow without any certain cause. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
& emulous: eager to imitate, equal, or to surpass another. ~~~~~~~~~
(carving by Pamela Glaven for Flying Object’s 3rd year launch) (photo by Pam Glaven) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HERE IS VLADIMIR NABOKOV WRITING IN speak, memory: (he’s writing about writing his first poem)
………A sunset, almost formidable in its splendor, would be lingering in the fully exposed sky. Among its imperceptibly changing amassments, one could pick out brightly stained structural details of celestial organisms, or glowing slits in dark banks, or flat, ethereal beaches that looked like mirages of desert islands.
[and here is the part that astonished most of all:]
I did not know then (as I know perfectly well now) what to do with such things — how to get rid of them, how to transform them into something that can be turned over to the reader in printed characters to have him cope with the blessed shiver — and this inability enhanced my oppression.
[and he continues, atmospherically accurately:]
A colossal shadow would begin to invade the fields, and the telegraph poles hummed in the stillness, and the night-feeders ascended the stems of their plants. Nibble, nibble, nibble — went a handsome striped caterpillar….as he clung to a campanula stalk, working down with his mandibles along the edge of the nearest leaf out of which he was eating a leisurely hemicircle, then again extending his neck, and again bending it gradually, as he deepened the neat concave.
(p. 165, SPEAK, MEMORY, Everyman’s Library, first included in Everyman’s in 1999)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ a little bit about irony: how it accounts for us our reduced appreciation of what we, in our overly rational mind activity, call “opposites” –irony lets us appreciate these not as opposites but as unalike parallel states of being, e.g. let’s you look at both of them without being blinded by either (when often, when irony is worth the bother, one should be blinded by each) (when one is bothering about or concerned with giant things (death, murder, envy, damage, love, lost love, power, betrayal, truth, beauty, lies, value, etc.) is a resort to irony necessary)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~when a story in a book takes a turn
when circumstances make for anxious emotions
when one foresees what has to come or has to happen
when one wishes it were otherwise or accepts it (as fate? yes, fate of the fictional kind, the metaphorical sort) (the might as well be kind)
this constitutes a story
because one feels as if it matters
Dara Wier is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Selected Poems, Remnants of Hannah, Reverse Rapture, and Hat on a Pond. She teaches in the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets and Writers. Her awards include the Poetry Center and Archives Book of the Year Award, a Pushcart Prize, the American Poetry Review’s Jerome Shestack Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She edits Factory Hollow Press. Her forthcoming collection You Good Thing will be published by Wave Books this spring. Visit her author page at Wave Books or read an interview.