Commentaries - November 2007
A transcript of Gil Ott's interview with Jackson Mac Low, done in 1979, has been made available by the PhillySound blog folks. Mac Low talks about a particular development of his procedure that dates to early 1961. What does George Washington's camel have to do with anything? Well, go here please and find out.
Above: sketch by Mimi Gross that is part of a series linked to EPC.
CAConrad and his colleagues at PhillySound worked hard to reproduce the transcript of a 1979 interview Gil Ott conducted with Jackson Mac Low, and it (part? or whole?) has been added to the PhillySound blog.
Harold Bloom was "madly in love" with the poems of Wallace Stevens from the time he was an undergraduate at Cornell University. He traveled from Ithaca to New Haven in 1949 and found his way somehow into the reading Stevens was giving that night for the members of a New Haven (not Yale-affiliated) humanities group. That night Stevens would read a short version of what became "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven." Norman Holmes Pearson, the legendary Yale English professor (and conduit between Yale and the OSS/CIA), saw the lonely-looking young Bloom and took him under wing, at least long enough to encourage the young man to approach the great poet, which Bloom did.
I don't how many times Bloom has told the story of his one encounter with the beloved poet, but a few years ago it was recorded as Bloom taught an undergraduate class at Yale, devoting all hour and twenty minutes of his lecture to a discussion of one poem, "The Poems of Our Climate" of 1938. Today, as I did household chores, brought in the houseplants from the back deck, made my lunch, etc., I listened to the entire lecture, hilariously and brilliantly digressive (at several points Bloom admits to being insane and that the main issuance of his madness is an addiction to never approaching the finality of any point). I then edited the recording and here is the 5-minute segment in which Bloom tells the story of meeting Stevens in 1949.
The title of Bloom's book about Stevens is indeed taken from the poem he taught the day the Yale podcast people made their recording: "The Poems of Our Climate." In that book, not surprisingly, he discusses "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven," and here are a few pages.
Guillaume Apollinaire was stationed in February 1915 not far from where my father and I visited recently - the edge of Provence along the Rhone River between Martigues in the south and Vienne (almost to Lyon) in the north. To Apollinaire that country was "like a skeleton. It's just like a graveyard. Nothing but sharp stones, similar to bones." Charles Dickens steamed down (we went up) the Rhone from Lyon and got to Avignon, where we also stopped and walked around and through the medieval walls. Dickens noticed the distinct color and his remark, when fitted together with Apollinaire (even the tone is the same somehow), tells better than photographs what the pervasive coloring of the region is. If it's been sunny a few days (as it was for us, happily), I'm referring to a hue you can still see after you close your eyes. "The broken bridge of Avignon," Dickens wrote, "and all the city baking in the sun; yet with an under-done-pie-crust, battlemented wall, that never will be brown, though it bake for centuries." That just it, it seems to me. The sense one gets is of a under-done/not-quite brown. With limestone gray-brown, sandy orange, dull green-grey (a landscape with chestnut trees and maybe some olives), etc.
More photos from the trip.