a series of fragments & notes about Chance, Fate, and Context by Dara Wier
About writing, what can't be transformed by other means
by mental-more and visceral-less means
(video from Theo Jansen's STRANDBEEST)
Robert Walser as written about by W.B. Sebald:
What is the significance of these similarities, overlaps, coincidences? Are they rebuses of memory, delusions of the self and the senses, or rather the schemes and symptoms of an order underlying the chaos of human relationships, and applying equally to the living and the dead, which is beyond our comprehension?
When Sebald writes about Walser he says:
His ideal was to overcome gravity.
He says he thinks of Walser as the clairvoyant of the small.
Is it possible to talk about something without talking about something else?
Is it possible to talk about one thing without talking about other things?
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
I’ve been asked by the generous and galvanizing editors of TELEPHONE to translate not Shakespeare’s sonnet typed in above but CVI: When in the chronicle of wasted time…………….and I’m completely impeded with stock-still shock staring me down (of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow…….is one line in the original)
Leaving this aside because it eludes me everytime I start to attempt to do what I was asked to do, here, instead, I’ll type in this poem by Laura Riding:
You or You
How well, you, you resemble!
Yes, you resemble well enough yourself
For me to swear the likeness
Is not other and remarkable
And matchless and so that
I love you therefore.
And all else which is very like,
Perfect counterfeit, pure almost,
Love, high animation, loyal unsameness—
To the end true, unto
I am for you both sharp and dull.
I doubt thoroughly
And thoroughly believe.
I love you doubly,
How well, you, you decieive,
How well, you, you resemble.
I love you therefore.
And one more thing. Every now and then I have an hysterical discovery of the obvious and it feels both embarrassing and good at the same time. (this is def. to be distinguished from an epiphany (more on that fine word later) Here’s one recent blow to my naivete’s persistence.
I was reading something about kitsch. I was wondering about its origins. I remembered Walter Benjamin has a piece called in English Dreamkitsch. So I started looking. I found first off his piece known by [The Collector] in one of his books of collections of notes, apostrophe’s, quotations, citations, musings, assertions, assembled materials, etc.. The first sentence I laid yes on is this one:
Never trust what writers say about their own writing.
Well, yeah yeah yeah, we’ve all heard this before. In fact a lot of the last 75 or so years of American writing workshops have often acted as though this must be so. Resulting in the so-called gag rule.
And it’s often linked to D.H. Lawrence’s report that we should trust the tale not the teller. (But I think Lawrence is talking about TONE here, it has not much to do with writers saying things about their own writing, at least that’s what I think about that)
Anyway, I thought yeah yeah yeah that’s a platitude we’re all supposed to believe. And next thought was, ah ha, the sentence says never trust what writers say [trouble on the horizon] about their own writing [TRUST WHAT I SAY! TRUST ME!] Finally, I understood the meaning of that idea’s intention.
Trust me not the writer.
This makes no sense as a general principle. There have been and are and will be plenty writers who are perfectly articulate about what they are up to, what’s concerning them, what’s behind or around or before or during what they’re writing. Some of them are esp. articulate about it in interviews (just think of the popularity of the PARIS REVIEW interviews, for years, Jackets growing list of great interviews, and interviews you can find everywhere else:
And some writers even write pretty well about their own writing. Seems sensible. I once heard Geroge Saunders be absolutely perfectly beautifully articulate, humble and probably accurate, as he described his steps toward gaining an understanding of the writer who he now is.
Also seems sensible that some writers do not under any circumstances want to talk about their own writing and that seems just as fine as otherwise. (my work speaks for itself has always been a pretty acceptable means to bow out of this conversation’s implications and knotty passages)
I seems okay for cooks to talk about cooking. And car mechanics to talk about their craft. And the captains of ships to talk about sailing. (though perhaps there is probably some superstition involved in that world as much as in poetry’s) And doctors to talk about medicine. And farmers to talk about farming. And pilots to talk about flying. And lawyers to talk about law. And so on and so forth.
And finally, here is the American composer John Adams (Shaker Loops, Doctor Atomic, On the Transmigration of Souls, Naive and Sentimental Music and a lot more) saying something about music after he realized he wanted to elaborate his virtuosity v.v.harmony:
(it’s in his book about his music: HALLELUJAH JUNCTION):
………vaudeville and show music of the first two decades of the twentieth century, while bouncy and cheeky, was harmonically bland and lacked the power to portray any serious range of human behavior and emotion…..
We don’t want that to happen again!
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, theAmerican Poetry Review’s Jerome Shestack Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She edits Factory Hollow Press. Visit her author page at Wave Books or read an interview.