[The post-Holocaust fate of Yiddish writing is something that’s troubled my mind since the murders of the last century appeared to have decimated both language & culture. Avrom Sutzkever (1913-2010), who fought as a partisan during the years of the khurbn, was one of the outstanding survivors with many kudos & honors in his later years, but the secular mysticism & near surrealism/realism of some of his work wasn’t easy to grasp as he came over to us largely in that more ethnic context & in a translated language not his own. W
I’ve been asked to have a look at Sawako Nakayasu's prose poem "Couch." In a very nice email Brian Reed, Craig Dworkin, and Al Filreis say they “really hope you will provide your initial approach to the experience of reading and trying to discern or understand or deal with the poem as you encounter it.” Already I feel I’m in trouble.
Harmony Holiday, The Negro Baseball League (Fence, 2011), 86 pp.—In some of her novels (e.g., Song of Solomon or Paradise), Toni Morrison reconstructs the infra- and super-structures of urban Negro culture after Reconstruction and during Civil Rights legislated integration. The failures of voluntary separatism-cum-Jim Crow segregation which, for Morrison, trump their successes (social and cultural, if not economic or political, independence), are largely, if not exclusively, gender-inflected. Specifically, one can read Morrison’s entire corpus, up to and including A Mercy and Home, as responding to the revamping of masculine, proto-patriarchal tendencies during the dream of black cultural nationalism. So what to make of Harmony Holiday’s dream encapsulated in The Negro Baseball League, a collection of free form (as in free jazz) poems that paint a somber vision of cultural separatism?
“Both science and art form in the course of the centuries a human language by which we can speak about the more remote parts of reality, and the coherent sets of concepts as well as the different styles of art are different words or groups of words in this language.” – Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (1958)
Poetry and quantum mechanics do indeed seem to speak to the more remote parts of reality as Werner Heisenberg suggests, and, as a result, both systems invite new ways of speaking, furthering what language is capable of within and outside of human experience.