Saturday, February 28, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Do you acknowledge the new kind of flesh?"

The poem moves on to its second stanza, connecting the imperative ending the previous stanza, that you get out your animal suit having prepared for the birth of tragedy, with a question that appears to be delivered by the same higher authority speaking previously, but now demanding an active affirmative response, a kind of oath of loyalty to a cult or concept that (after the fact, giving the poem a title) I decided was driving the whole spirit of the poem.  I'm an atheist now, but I was some kind of practicing Catholic when writing many of the poems in Collapse of the Grid, so I'm familiar with rituals that demand a believing response, or a response that in a sense creates its own sense of belief.  That's what faith is: not a recognition of anything that exists, but a yielding to a demand to acknowledge something that doesn't necessarily exist, so that it may exist.  And Christianity is all about a new kind of flesh, almost as though at its inception it had some grasp of the idea that humanity prior to Christianity and humanity after were not even the same species (eugenics, evolution, Childhood's End, apocalypse...)  But the new kind of flesh I was demanding acknowledgement of here was not exactly the same thing, although it could be taken that way, and the acknowledgement itself might not have needed to be a joyful affirmation of faith; it could just as well be an acknowledgement of defeat.

But let me ask right now, before proceeding any further: do you, my legion of readers, acknowledge the new kind of flesh?  Affirm or deny, please.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Get out your animal suit"

So everything has already been prepared for the birth of tragedy, and after all that you're supposed to get out your animal suit?  Maybe having your animal suit ready was part of the preparations for the birth of tragedy, and getting it out now is part of the process of actually giving tragedy its birth: you put your animal suit on over your human flesh, and tragic things happen.  That's certainly been my experience more generally.

On the other hand, putting on your animal suit might just be another directive to you the reader, or to the doctor, on the list of things to do leading into whatever comes in the following stanzas.  It could be that the birth of tragedy is only one incidental event in a series: i.e., the connections between lines may be paratactical rather than sequential (most likely both, though).

Monday, February 23, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "All is prepared for the birth of tragedy"

When I wrote this line I hadn't yet read Nietzsche's book...  if I had, I guess I would have thought of the birth of tragedy as a historical moment rather than a possibility in a poetical present.  Serendipitous that the previous line refers to "tuned up" given that the subtitle of The Birth of Tragedy is from the Spirit of Music.  I guess the Greeks had to tune up their moments to prepare for the birth of tragedy just like my poem people did.  But did the Greeks need to have everything prepared, as I seem to be suggesting is necessary here?  Couldn't the birth of tragedy be enabled by less than complete preparation, or even no preparation at all?  That's something to ask the gods, perhaps, whose plans look just like impulses anyway.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Various business opportunities

For some reason I didn't include any of the work I wrote around Iran-Contra, including this piece used by Randy Greif, in the book.  None of the words are my own, I don't think; but twenty years later, they sound more like my own than those earlier words I wrote and did collect.

The New Kind of Flesh: "The moment has tuned up"

Following that introductory scene of the Assistant (whether a Richard Prince nurse or Renfield) alerting the Doctor to the moon coming out, this line alludes to a kind of musical overture just as it completes: not the moment which is in the process of tuning up, but the one, the Moment, that has tuned up in preparation for what follows.  How does any moment "tune up"?  It's time itself doing whatever musicians do to prepare for the point at which the composition per se begins,  The moment is ready to be a moment rather than something else, or some out-of-tune version of itself.  It's the "right" in "when the time is right," but that's right not as in correct but right as in righteous, or rightly, somehow qualified from any absolute logical rectitude -- that's indeed why tuning up is necessary in the first place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Doctor, the moon has come out"

The title is almost certainly ex post, but conveys an excitement and dread about the future and innovation that tries to reach back to the early years of the twentieth century, when the concept of new kinds of flesh might have flourished in both scientific optimism and incipient fascism (with eugenics and its popular metaphors crystallizing at the intersection of both).  That medical inclination persists in the first line of the poem, which addresses a doctor directly, as a nurse or assistant might.  I'm imagining von Helsing assisted by Renfield, though of course it was Dracula who was so assisted; but von Helsing and Dracula are so strongly dual to each other that von Helsing might be cast as a medicalized version of the Count, ready to drain the blood of millions for some larger purpose.  In any case, when the moon comes out one suspects that something is about to happen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

It took me a few minutes this morning to find a copy of my book.  Jenny had to point me to the top shelf of the little book case at the end of the hallway (we only have one hallway).  Two copies rested there.  I used to have copies scattered all over the house, or that's the way I remember it anyway.  In the intervening four or five years, they've collected, pooled as it were, congealed in locations unknown to me, but searchable.  You can tell I'm reading Jeff Vanderpool's Southern Reach trilogy, can't you?  My old words strike me as not that different from the biologically active paragraph that occupies an important, mysterious, non sequiturish kind of place in the first two volumes of that series, Annihilation and Authority.

Anyway, I've located a copy of my book and now can proceed again with my blog, after a short half decade hiatus, at my leisure.