Commentaries

Takahashi Mutsuo: “This World, or the Man of the Boxes,” Dedicated to Joseph Cornell

Translation from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles

 

[This posting was immediately dropped from Jacket2 Commentaries when I first posted it, so I’m reposting it now. (J.R.)]

 

Pilgrim on earth, thy name is heaven,
Stranger, thou art the guest of God.

Mary Baker Eddy

this familiarity with wrong meanings puzzles one

"Weather Warning" by Tom Lee. CC NC-BY. Brighton seafront as shot from the pier.
"Weather Warning" by Tom Lee. CC NC-BY. Brighton seafront as shot from the pier.

I hadn’t planned for this commentary to coincide with the Sussex Poetry Festival, the chief criterion in my dashed-off email to Jessica nearly a year ago being that I put it off until later. But here we are talking about irritation, and anyone who’s been involved in planning a poetry festival knows about that.

Caterpillar

“A magazine of the leaf, a gathering of the tribes”

Caterpillar colophon
Caterpillar colophon

Cat 2 tocBegun in 1966 by Clayton Eshleman as a series of chapbooks by writers such as Jackson MacLow, David Antin, and Louis Zukofsky, Caterpillar Books became Caterpillar: A Gathering of the Tribes (though the subtitle was quickly dropped) in October 1967 when Eshleman realized he “could cover more ground with a literary journal than with undistributable chapboo

Jake Marmer: A New Poem, “The Law of Returning Lost Objects”

After Talmud Bava Metzia, 21A

 

On seeing Roman Vishniac’s ‘Vanished World’ exhibit

 

when is an object considered lost?

when it has been disassembled, crumbled, or scattered

so that it can no longer be described

as a sum total of itself

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

“The fatal problem with poetry: poems,” says Ben Lerner (32). What he means by this is that each actually existing poem stands a monument to the unrealizability of the utopian hope that we call “poetry.”

Lerner has some interesting things to say about poetry and its relationship to work, the desire and the worry that writing poetry not be work. Poetry is utopian insofar as it seems to offer an alternative to “getting and spending,” an order of work that is also seamlessly a way of leaning and loafing at one’s ease; hence the defenses. That very utopian possibility also seems a monstrous indifference to the brutalities of being constrained to sell one’s labor in order to live; hence the denunciations.