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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

on a line from HWWR

From:

Keston Sutherland <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Keston Sutherland <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 3 Jun 1998 12:55:02 -0400 (EDT)

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (94 lines)





>thanks too for ... was related directly to reading practice


ok ok here're some sentences on a line from HWWR.  I hope that this is
a temporarily complete and satisfying reading, not merely what I've put in
collapsing back into my therefore stirred lap.  



		At leisure for losing outward in a glazed toplight




This is its first line.  It is not a complete sentence, the line enjambs
and the sentence continues for several lines.  But it is, at least
momentarily, a complete sense; the continued sentence does nothing to
refute this inevitably: "in a glazed toplight / bringing milk in..."
Losing outward is a common enough activity.  People lose blood and tears,
for example, 'outward', though the adverb would be a bit picturesque and
superfluous were this the condition described.  People also 'lose out',
this echo complicates the line slightly.  There also occurs the
possibility that 'outward' is a substantivized adjective, modifying a
suppressed noun in the manner that 'outward' modifies 'form' in Young's
'The Force of Religion' 11-12: "but when the charms of mind / With
elegance of outward form are joined".  This would be uncommon, but manages
to seem plausible, almost beginning to arouse the impression of a demand;
from here it is an easy step to think of 'outward' as a substantivized
adjective having mutated into an abstract noun, meaning (roughly) 'the
outward', 'my sense of a condition in the world towards which I am
basically oriented', 'that which is outside myself and which is the
necessary direction and locus of my perceptive acts'.  To -lose- this
condition, this locus, or rather to be prepared comfortably for its loss,
perhaps in such a way that the anticipation of its loss is - either
sincerely or with defensive irony - imagined to be inconsequential: this
is the initial attitude or expectation presented in HWWR.  This attitude
may occur "in a glazed toplight", or it may be the "losing" which occurs
there, or it may be "outward" which is lost -into- there; according to the
same construction one can lose oneself in a film or a book; but the traces
of "losing out" and "plight" ('top-light' does not ordinarily occur
without a hyphen) urge us to suspect that "losing" is not -merely- an
idiomatic exaggeration for this kind of temporary forgetfulness, but that
it steals an echo from that harmless suggestion and recovers its greater
sense of threat: as if I were to lose myself in a book, not to find again
what I had lost.  "[A] glazed toplight" is tautologous: top-lights are
always glazed.  They are windows in ceilings, designed to admit natural
light into a room.  When I lose myself in a book, what I mean by that
expression is that my normal experience of self-awareness is arrested and
another sense is preferred, the preferred sense being a fantasy
constituted entirely by my interaction with this book and its specific
contents as an imagined agent or witness ("matched to a head").  Were I to
lose the condition or locus towards which I am basically oriented in a
"glazed toplight" (the material constitution of which I have consciously
noted, despite its obviousness, and which therefore reflects my minor
anxiety regarding its materiality per se: "I wish to walk on that
congealed-water ice"), in a manner for which :losing oneself in a book" is
a gentle and discreet euphemism, it would be with the syntactically /
idiomatically inspired effect that this locus or condition (which by its
definition is incapable of being distinguished from other loci excepting
myself) became, within my experience of it, constituted exclusively, or at
best, principally, by a wholly common domestic convenience behaving as a
tacit metaphor for providential guidance and for the contrived
inaccessibility of nature.  (Part of the sense of an earlier Prynne line
has itself suffered laconic repetition, "A view is a window / on the real
data, not a separate copy / of that data" _The Oval Window_ p.14)
	Nietzsche, deigning for a moment to declare himself a theologian,
delivers the following, reasonably fascinating remark:

	it was God himself who at the end of his days' work lay down under
	the tree of knowledge: thus he recuperated from being God. -- He
	had made everything too beautiful. -- The devil is merely the
	leisure of God on that seventh day.
					(Ecce Homo, Basic Writings p.767)   

Rather than seize Adorno's and Horkheimer's notion that leisure is a
continuation of work, we could prefer to think of this allegory of divine
leisure: that the relief from a positive and creative endeavour incurs a
'recuperative' damaging of the successes of that endeavour - that a
success can be "too beautiful" either to be importantly credible or to
permit future satisfaction.  "At leisure", at the outset of HWWR, offers
itself up to roughly this apprehension; the 'laze' in the superfluous
"glazed" incites a pernicious redressal of a previously achieved sense of
"outward", recklessly converting an unsolipsistic orientation into a
fantasy extorted by a simple commodity's rather banal power of
resemblance.   



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