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Saturday, February 06, 2010

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Room Znc . .. .. . . . . .REAL MAGIC!








The final position from a "real" game of chess (an earlier position is given below.) By reverse magic the position is transformed. Through the Looking Glass was the book that lead me into the "addiction" of chess. The pawn on c2 is one move from becoming a Queen which is what would happen on the "8th" rank to Alice, as in the book



A position from the same game (above but at an earlier stage real), "A Grade" game I won. I am white. Here I threaten either the win of a Q or a forced mate by Nf6+ But Black's knights are badly placed and as b4 is threatened black is lost. I have to comment though, that I misplayed the opening of this game and in this tournament I lost more games than I won. Chess is a very difficult game and there some very clever players out there trying to beat you!

This 'vision' of the red Queen and Alice racing faster and faster included all my soul since I read that as a boy.


The most curious part of the thing

was, that the trees and the other things

round them never changed their places at all :

however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything.



The Borrowed Hat


The brain, a thin faced, balding prima donna, scratches

its chimera, deeply concerned about the missing

enquiry. Indeed, nothing had been said of this, or the

book of magic dropped on the distressed volcanic

insistence on variance, creeping, whose utterances, the

psychic dance of which, various manifestations, whose

social accretion, and the general Lebensraum or

Weltensraung: and that which, even if only evanescently,

ballooned into the impossible

ontological, whose truncate avowals, spread as the

wings of a bourgeois liberality, the massacred

mannerist, always so quietly grandiose. Something about

the ablutions, and the various regressions, all in all

not sure if a) was contingent on b) or d), and had

fallen asleep like the red and white queens in Alice in

Wonderland only to transfigure the night into some sort

of pattern, beautifully devoid of meaning, and

inscrutably inscribed.




:“a hill ca’n’t be a valley, you know. That

would be nonsense——”

The Red Queen shook her head.

“You may call it ‘nonsense’ if you

like,” she said, “but I’ve heard nonsense,

compared with which that would be as

sensible as a dictionary.”

Alice curtseyed again, as she was afraid

from the Queen’s tone that she was a

little offended: and they walked on in

silence till they got to the top of the

little hill.

For some minutes Alice stood without

speaking, looking out in all directions

over the country—and a most curious

country it was. There were a number

of tiny little brooks running straight

across it from side to side, and the

ground between was divided up into

squares by a number of little green

hedges, that reached from brook to

brook.

“I declare it’s marked out just like a

large chess-board “ Alice said at last.




'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.



A great poem of haunting magic written by Carol the mathamatician and logician - I understood it instantly as an 8 year old at school.






Magic, Chess, Poetry and Mystery.


her heart began to beat quick with excitement

she went on. “It’s a great huge

game of chess that’s being played—all

over the world—if this is the world at

all, you know. Oh, what fun it is

How I with I was one of them I

wouldn’t mind being a Pawn, if only I

might join—though of course I should

like to be a Queen, best.”

She glanced rather shyly at the real Queen...

Alice Through the Looking Glass


I haven't posted on here for some time. (This was interrupted by a huge debate on about whether 9/11 was an inside job or not on Reading the Maps in which most of what I said was of course taken out of context and mangled and misunderstood...but I want to do something about my trip to NY in 1993 as I have photos of the World Trade Centre and other things of interest.)


I have been thinking of what steps I will take on this Blog, and why I am doing it and so on. In fact EYELIGHT started by accident. (I was trying at the time to make comment on a Blog, and found myself with a Blog myself!)


I am also aware that EYELIGHT may seem to a lot of people rather sparse and gnomic. I mean: "What is this guy doing? A lot of this doesn't make sense?" (Some would say all!) And indeed this Blog wasn't meant to seem "distant" or difficult. I did want to make a "total composition" which it still is...but that doesn't preclude that I talk more or less directly to those reading here.

I have been rather "laid back" during Xmas and now it is pretty warm and humid (with some beautiful days) I am almost apathetic. I'm now 62. I find myself thinking more and more about death: or time. I mean one keeps doing calculations . When my father and I learnt chess together, I must have been about 9 or 10, and he must have been say 50 or 51 as he was born 1907, in London, and I was reading Alice Through the Looking Glass and this fascinated me and I asked him what chess was. The book by Lewis Carrol was based on a chess game.





the queer conceptuals, and the profile of

the queen in a circle, her finger bossing up. I’m mad.


Alice never could quite make out, in

thinking it over afterwards, how it was

that they began : all she remembers is,

that they were running hand in hand,

and the Queen went so fast that it was

all she could do to keep up with her:

and still the Queen kept crying “Faster !

Faster !” but Alice felt she could not go

faster, though she had no breath left to

say so.

The most curious part of the thing

was, that the trees and the other things

round them never changed their places at

all : however fast they went, they never

seemed to pass anything. “I wonder if

all the things move along with us?”

thought poor puzzled Alice. And the

Queen seemed to guess her thoughts, for

she cried “Faster ! Don’t try to talk

not that Alice had any idea of doing that.

She felt as if she would never be

to talk again, she was getting so out of breath


This 'vision' of the red Queen and Alice racing faster and faster included all my soul since I read that as a boy. It is in stepping below and this poem -

the queer conceptuals, and the profile of

the queen in a circle, her finger bossing

up. I’m mad. But the telephone, ringing

with a sort of mannerist or neoclassic

preciosity in my radioactive head because

I’m funnily on the other side of the

world, has only news of the brilliant

dead. Generally these latter do lodge

themselves in smudge land, where its easy,

once you’ve practised, to cross across to

a charcoal nightmare of a cat lion or a

god - bull transforming a swan into a

multicoloured parsiphae of fire that evils

intself inside your nerve’s nerve: some

agony or so of Pollock. Now. These hunk

pieces go there, this red here, and this

bright blue over there there: at this

immediate veer, it will or should , as you

could would or might not, be observed into

one of the fractures that the vast,

useless shield expands itself into a new

world ... under stones, they shudder, and

the leopard snarls as you get arrrowed

into your heels, but of this there is not

much known except perhaps a contradiction,

deeply in discourse with itself.





A page from Through the Looking Glass - a book that so fascinated me as a 9 year old. Caroll himself was a mathematician and a logician. The book is based on a chess game. Alice is a pawn I didn't then know what chess was. This book started me on a "journey"into my huge obsession with Chess. A game I play competitively. I was second in the NZ Schools Champs in 1961.

Here the board is seen sweeping way to infinity in Carrol's impossible but magical world


Later I would write a poem when I did "Carolingian categorical logic"as a part of philosophy, as Caroll himself was logician also, and the weirdness of logic is right throughout his book,as is the metaphysical mystery of the "smile" remaining of the Cheshire cat when the cat's face is gone... still a puzzle to philosophers. Hence in this book, mathematics, logic, mystery, magic, art time, metaphysics, poetry, literature :



Human Hands


Illogic logic dreams

Its logic in logical logs.

The illogic logic logs

Know that babies are illogical.

Illogic logic wakes and screams.

The night is turning red and black,

And I wake into a fear:

But logic, and that queer space,

Rises, and horses are sleek,

And fleet, so that the gathering hooves.

And chocolate is beautiful

But illogical.

We struggle, each with their torment,

For it is April, and winter windeth quick.

What is that car that bus that truck,

And many travel, and many return.

Illogic logic rocks the cradle’s hand,

And kind is the agèd face

That the eagle descend

To devour the brains

That were so busy then.

This is a dark and will become

Not so in illogic logic time

That floweth so in wills so sweet.

Illogic logic knows the unseen waterfall,

The heaved, gnarled rocks, basaltic bubbles.

Illogic logic searches with bright light,

Gloves droop drop —

And human hands emerge.



“I declare it’s marked out just like a

large chess-board “ Alice said at last.

"There ought to be some men moving

out somewhere—and so there are!"

She added in a tone of delight, and

her heart began to beat quick with excitement

she went on. “It’s a great huge

game of chess that’s being played—all

over the world—if this is the world at

all, you know. Oh, what fun it is

How I with I was one of them I

wouldn’t mind being a Pawn, if only I

might join—though of course I should

like to be a Queen, best.”

She glanced rather shyly at the real Queen...





Not a microwave tower (on which I have worked) , but a "construction". What is it? It is that question that makes such engineering things"beautiful to me. The functional beauty, the shape and stucture, and the"mystery" of the what and why of what they are. As with mathematical symbols and equations...

My mother was born in 1917, in Bedford, England, and spent her early years in Kettering, but she moved to school in Melbourne, Australia before coming here.. Both my parents are now dead and I now live in the house in where I grew up in the 50s, in Panmure, Auckland. I moved here when my wife left and we sold our large house in Cockle Bay. Around about that time I was considering becoming an Engineer. I was interested in Telecommunications and Electronics and had worked as a Lineman, but as I had an NZCE I would have been able to credit some of that towards a BE My interest was mainly microwave and other radio systems, and of course PCM and other multiplexing systems. PCM had been used by the NZPO since the 70s at least. It (or similar analogue to digital encoding) is basically the back-bone of any network. Long before the Internet (in fact even before the WWll these ideas were being shaped) the concepts and technologies (of what is now called “broad band” (not new thing at all)) were laid down for telegraph and other uses. And by the, 70s coaxial cables were being widely used, as well as (or in conjunction with) microwave networks (for Television and communications of all kinds.) Digital electronics and computing systems were being used. By about 1986 the first "cell phones" - then called "car phones" had arrived, and cordless phones were a fairly new phenomena also. For while I serviced these and also installed phones as part of a small business I had in Howick. Fibre optic cables were being jointed in N.Z. in the 80s.


But I am pretty certain not much would have come of it. O.k. I may have got some routine job somewhere testing batteries and or UPS systems, or costing projects, but I had been writing poems at the time and barely passed a strange paper (by correspondence) called Linear Algebra. I passed it but I had no idea what it was about! (I used various algorithms and “exam technique”, but it was a nightmare…) Not that such maths is essential to a BE but it is a heavily mathematical degree, and I think I knew I was out of my depth. I was perhaps as fascinated as much by the accoutrements of the trade, and by measuring equipment, and the devices as well as the fascinating symbols of mathematics and engineering. It is a vast field.


But why death? O.k. we are all getting old, but is that not a morbid subject? Yes and no. I agree it is not a happy topic. But there are some reasons - some are good, some not so.

I have been thinking about death more or less intensely all my life. (In fact I had nervous collapse in 1967, which was centred around an intense obsession with death and dying But this event wasn’t totally a negative one, and in fact has directly or indirectly fueled what I am, and perhaps also the “creative” side of me, as I like to think I have.) But as I get older the subject seems to predominate more. Sometimes I find everything reminds me of death. And the questions, not always anguished, are endless. What is this thing extinction? Do we somehow exist after death. Is there a God? Why do we become conscious beings, make, and then and do all these wonderful (or terrible) things and then die and ultimately vanish? Why should I be concerned about the world if I am going to soon - relatively soon - be nothing? Why should I not concern myself with myself? Montaigne, the inventor of the essay, in one of his great essays, claims he thinks of death all the time. His reasons are that in that way one is prepared for death. And in his time (and really in ours) death was a constant. Life was more or less "nasty, brutal, and short". We tend perhaps in our own time to be insulated from death.

Not a primary cause of such musings, but concerning me and bringing me back to such thoughts - my sister had to have an operation for a bowel cancer tumour just before Xmas. My other sister also had (the same) cancer a few years ago and survived it. I had a
check for that a few years ago. I visited my older sister in Whangarei and took her Wystan Curnow's Cancer Daybook. In fact she appreciated that book which documents Wystan's "struggle" with cancer (he had a different term for the process or experience.)
I like Wystan Curnow's writing, and when I "managed" Ron Riddell's book shop in Balmoral, in 1996 to 1997 before it moved to K' Road, I organised a series of readings of notable and less well known writers. Wystan was one of the guest readers. He read well as he always does and he had some fascinating stuff, some or much of which hasn't appeared, I don't think, in print. Ron (and his then wife Kate) arranged for my second book of poetry to be published. Kate designed the cover for the book, which I called RED.


I am very thankful for that.
Here is poem from that book -





Stepping

Stepping into the vanishing places you become ever more
visible, and some sort of utterance about almond blossoms, or
pine scent, creeps in, and is an ever more ascendent
resplendent more ever more fantastic thing like a wheel, in
whose motionless centre, surely nothing more everything has
been thought of Chinese more perpetual perpetual or
unperpetual could be found. Or was. All things - chroniclers,
characters, boots, bolts, old boats, or conversations whispered in
the hall - pour out the spat old book. That’ll teach ‘em to
bible things.Getting nowhere, as is our wont, we won’t. And the
p-pages flutter in the wind, leafing and briefing themselves,
while all the while the while, the demon-sized head, shapes
itself and crushes out the bolty magic: god or no god.




A strange poem! Nothing about death in there! But what is it about? Well, if I had known that, I wouldn't have written it! I'm not being clever, because I am not really very clever - but in this case I "understand" the poem as a process or phenomena whose totality appeared or occurred (or perhaps happened) to me very rapidly. In as much as it is about anything it is about itself.


I wrote many many such poems very very rapidly and without revision [there is glance here at Eliot's "the Chinese jar that still moves perpetually in its stillness" in one of his Four Quartets which I have known, as well as Prufrock and The Waste Land (which I rewrote once as an exercise) almost by heart since I was about 20].

How do I understand these things? Not by the normative processes of logic - but in some deep way I cannot explain. In the way I understand the music of Bach or some beautiful woman singing in a foreign language. In the latter case I rarely want to know what the
words mean.


'...Always the magic of words has affected me almost like a fever...'




The shelf built by my father with some of my mother's and my grandmother's selection of books by Charles Dickens an one 'Jane Eyre' (which I read at school and enjoyed greatly). I started withe The Pickwick Papers and read what I thought were all of Dickens works. [And we all read most of the books by the zoologist Gerald Durrell - one book by him is seen there. In those books he refers to his brother (Larry Durrell (who at that time was not well known) as an aspiring author. Strangely I have never read anything by him. I was also a member then of the Scientific Book Club.] and I was 'top' in Biology - my prize was Stevenson's 'Dr Jeklyl and Mr Hyde'


Texts and Pretexts - my father's old edition (blue book on the left). And a more modern edition of an old novel by Huxley Huxley taught Orwell (Eric Blair) as a young man and gave praise when the latter's novel 1984 appeared. 1984 and Animal Farm are two favourite books of mine I also read as a teenager but also more recently. Orwell became almost an obsession for while. Also Victor Hugo, Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, Joyce Carey, Golding, O'Henry, Ryder Haggard, Somerset Maugham, James Joyce and others...


'Magic' , a chapter from Huxley's anthology or "philosophy" book of poetry and ideas texts and Pretexts (1935) that I perused endlessly, over and over, almost frenetically, as a teenager in the mid 60s. For me he has the best translation of Sappho from the Greek I have ever seen and his comment on it is deeply beautiful.

Nor do I need to know what music is "about" (most songs, even great songs, have words that are hopelessly banal and would spoil the mysteriousness of such a song or aria if in say an opera sung in Italian (I heard the whole of Verdi’s great opera Aida as a boy [I did know what (somewhat) that was about (it is similar to Romeo and Juliet in theme)] but much of the opera I heard was incomprehensible to me.. being in (usually) a European language and I don’t know any language except English.

(I have not "planned " this writing here by the way I am just drifting from one thing to another! But THAT is and already was the "method" of my Blog here. I am not now planning much. But I will try to stay reasonably consistent - but remember that is a part of my way, and I move or flow from one subject to another as my mood and thoughts change and indeed as perhaps I change, and you too...? No?

But in this way of engendering a kind of "magic" I recall as teenager that one of my favourite books was Aldous Huxley's
Texts and Pretexts. Brave New World was the only other book by Huxley I have read. I read it about the time I read 1984 by Orwell). In his book and in the chapter called ‘Magic’ Huxley says -

"All literature is a mixture, in varying proportions, of magic and science...The great bulk of literature is a compromise lying between the two extremes."

Here is some "magic" from an old poem he quoted (and I have never forgotten this.)


-------------
Gently dip, but not too deep,
For fear you make the golden beard to weep


This is by George Peel, and he quotes much more. So is my writing deep in a kind of magic? Perhaps. Always the magic of words has affected me almost like a fever. Meaning less so. Oh, I do love the beauty of logic. But it was the magic or words and also the near erotic tactility and mystery of the beautiful paper and shape of the volumes of Charles Dickens I had that led me to read virtually all of his novels before I got to high school. Before I was 15. Before then I was fascinated by words primarily, but also by the characters and the names, - names such as Snodgrass, Winkle or Rudge and so on. At Tamaki College a student teacher asked me if I had read Charles Dickens, and I said I had read them all (I hadn't, I had read all those at home that were my mother's or my father's, and some were those of my grandmother's, Beatrice Gray), the student teacher then said, you need to read them again when you are older, to understand them as an adult. I didn't reply and disagreed but now I perhaps concur. And I have read Bleak House since (it was a text when I was studying English in1968 with my tutor being Kendrick Smithyman. ) I also heard Margaret Atwood quoting David Copperfield recently in (brilliant) lecture about revenge and debt. She also quoted The Merchant of Venice which we read and which I was fascinated by. (Her point here is that Shakespeare -far from "picking on Shylock as a usurious Jew, he shows him in at least as good if not a better light than many of the others in that great play, for Portia, after giving a "pretty speech" about mercy, then turns from that New testament concept to counter Shylock's Hebraic or Hammurabian 'eye for an eye' approach, to pure un-Christian revenge when she delivers the verdict that Shylock's life (changed to his means of living) be forfeit and that he convert to Christianity (which means he cannot earn money by his trade, a punishment recognized in almost all countries to be abhorrent morally and legally) . So there is relevant meaning in the play and the poetry that is more than magic.



So, what is poetry? What am I doing here? I mean, not only here, but here.


In regard to what is not understood or known, something that would (and undoubtedly did) interest Huxley, scion of a family, almost a dynasty, of cultured intellectuals of all kinds, including his scientist great great grandfather who championed Darwin’s case and his brother Julian who was a famous biologist as was his half-brother Andrew. So the Huxley, like Bronowski who knew (the almost excruciatingly complex and strange) Laura Riding and (the very interesting but perhaps not so complex!) Robert Graves.


So: the real, the knowable, the mysterious, the terrible, the beautiful, and the unknown.


My fascination with the unknowable or what I refuse to believe anyone can know extends to music. Certain songs sung in foreign languages I refuse to know. Thus here is a “song” which is really any song. It is deliberately untranslatable. It is written in a language, perhaps the firsts of its kind, whose purpose is to constantly deepen meaninglessness.

_______________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________



Hsuafouro


Zabragg::::::::: undo 23mno onp = goolach meeno

Qulifagi @ ==@ sanca;;;; wong..moi 9d os PartiKa

Iytcgee -5 worrraamooglefiittyy >>><<<>

Oooo|ooopu ik gafaya 3 Gweeta blauorye|||||||

fg Gatt zeeppl{}++=== Ggogg wouse (*098z] tarag0rt Yuagoohjj

forog im ^ fortafffagg ## [Kcruncah pol, 252 meei ….

Iasta-menta? Ssss ? mo 6a Polla dumsaaafsf Faaglo -

Greedheeeeads //////Januckl acnaha//// =========pragggo ik ++

Katagaggggg!!!!! % Xitttafundaaaaa!!!

_____________________________________________________________

But Hsuafouro is more than the endlessly untranslatable song or mystery. It’s near random nature makes it the negative of a perfectly crafted writing, or of ‘meaningful’ or ‘deep’ writing. The image of it, and the symbols that make up its image attempt to
puncture into meaning and to intensify meaning as (perhaps) with the Russian Formalists' search for “Ostranenie”, and so on.

Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh in different but related ways) sought, through zaum and “transrational language”, ways of finding the deep truth of language, or purer language, as indeed many have, including Laura Riding, so, tormented by this search she formally gave up poetry for linguistic and truth investigations.

(This concept, or related ideas to those of these Russian futurists, had been satirised in the 18th Century by Swift in his wonderful book Gulliver’s Travels)

While this is all interesting, it is perhaps not what I’m driving at (maybe Steve McCaffery is or was) Maybe. But this is some indication that my “poem” Hsuafouro is not entirely “meaningless” and indeed when meaning seems abandoned my argument has always been there is always some semantic content. There is virtually no “meaningless” writing.

An early example of what I was doing with The Infinite Poem. Scott's critique here on (the right hand side) "annoyed me", which was silly, as the whole point was dialogue. Poetry as critcism or essay, philosophy and dialogue. Scott was now under the spell of Wittgenstein, the first step to his "degeneration" into politics and Marxism etc and "caring about things"... perhaps a sign of growth, but I didn't want to grow as such. This move for me was what I wanted to avoid, it reminded me of events in my life I wanted to forget, and the magic began to leach from my engagement with literature. Gradually I attended and gave fewer and fewer poetry readings. I became more and more apathetic to whether people were interested in my poetry or even if poetry was of any value... (Not a 'logical' response...but... The magic - for me that most essential element - was dying.

All editions of SALT magazine, in which I was published by Scott Hamilton and Hamish Dewe with such as Michael Arnold and other innovative and (younger) writers in the late 90s. Radically rejecting political correctness we all embraced "radical" ideas in literature and rebelled against the rebels, or tried to find new-old heroes of creativity. In those days I was very close to suicide (or at least deep depression or alcoholism) and inclusion in SALT may have saved my life.

Even less recognizably radical poets such as C K Stead and others were included. Also Jack Ross, and others were included. (I will add back in names as I find them and reissue this post.) I did a deep study (but presented it in rather lazy way) of a book of Michelle Leggot's and extolled language poets, John Ashbery, and such as Alan Loney. Scott had his own "heroes" (as various as Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Barnett, and Kendrick Smithyman. Later Hamish "introduced"us to Pessoa. The SALT days were exciting for me. I felt "young again" and what seemed like a part of something momentous. Poetry mattered hugely to me then...


I had a “debate” on this somewhat with Scott Hamilton or Maps in the innovative & interesting and exciting but perhaps anarchisticaly post post modern mag of small circulation and event time called SALT about the time he was slipping into political correctness and caring about things and towards the devilish slopes of politics and rationality and so on (territory I had traversed years before in my protest days) – and ‘relevance’ as opposed to my (in about 1997, almost radical literary anarchism allied to my own version of ‘postmodernism’); Maps studied the various philosophies and sociologies but began with Wittgenstein (via Marjorie Perfloff’s book Wittgenstein’s Ladder, and in particular the latter’s interest in “language games”. And of course the kind of “language”, and apparent chaos, of say my The Infinite Poem ( ‘excerpts from

which’ which he published in SALT at the time, is or can only be kind of language

game (as the language of science is. But sometimes they intersect, and such as the Huxleys and Bronowski would understand this.





Laura Riding as depicted on the bio by Deborah Baker. Riding was the lover of Robert Graves and an extraordinarily intelligent poet who famously gave up poetry for many years. She also, equally famously or notoriously, attemped suicide: but that act was almost in homage to death and a part of her relentless quest for 'literal truth' (which words and also conventional "poeticalness" obscured from her) but not an act of despair. She then came more under the influence of Gertrude Stein a poet and a friend she admired and published. But she had her own unique style. Her poems range from the excruciatingly obscure to the beautifully lyrical and mysterious. Len Lye of NZ, Jacob Bronowski and others were of her circle....


Whether what I am or was doing has any relevance to these ideas I don’t know. I tried to read a book of Riding’s poetry while reading a biography of her. Now some of her poems are quite beautiful. But then for me she just gets too complex. (One her essays had a direct resulting Empson’s rather sibylline Seven Types of Ambiguity but he denied it, but he clearly got the ideas from her.) And she was obsessed with the ‘necessity’ to die what she called a ‘literal death’ (whatever that means) [most of us struggle to stay alive!!] and so on, and in strange relationships, and thoughts of things that would never occur to me. I am basically a simple person. I see things mostly in literal terms. Death, for me, is a terrible, frightening and endless thing, but Riding seemed to embrace it. That she nearly died by at attempting suicide seems hardly to have concerned her. It was as if she needed death, and, unlike Sylvia Plath, she wasn’t chronically depressed, nor did she was she alone with two children and well…it goes on. It is all too bizarre. But compelling, like the mathematics and electronics I tried but failed to understand, and like learning languages, or trying to understand philosophy or the convolutions of literary theory and criticism and the many ideas in the world, it is perhaps the ‘not knowing’ that pushes me forward, or, at least impels me somewhere.


mongolia, I love you

mongolia

you are mongolia because

you are mongolia

but in your immense

relish of radical

blacksong

thou

rejecteth me

so the sea

so the

cold shoulder could shoulder

sort of gödelled

sort of —

theirs is a stereoscopic syncopation


I don’t want truth as such. I can bear some but not too much reality. Truth is too hard. Places such as Mongolia fascinate me. I know very little and I want to keep not knowing very little about such places. But then some of them fascinate me. That I almost certainly never visit them, or know much about them, means I can freely if not clearly imagine what they are like (and I read plays often in preference to seeing them on stage, although as a teenager I saw many many plays, thanks to my father*) – as I constantly imagine the England of my parents. I don’t really want to see the England of today. I have little time for the “real” England.

The places and ideas I have, however confused, are mine, like the song sang by beautiful dark woman in a foreign language; and like the strange countries I will never see, or the mysterious squiggles and symbols indicating great mysteries of science or music or some strange philosophy or poetry.





mongolia 2


smear pen when owl
but moan
under blue
writes
and seeks sucklement
apple is but
acorn
oats a big disintegration
in the beckett black
shovel of
nothing their yet
by being recurring
the series
leaps in stone
the scroll

but platinum

is ruthlessly Mongolian


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A typical Mongolian sky scene. Beneath are savages and nomads, and the "irrit camels" and a sad, lost, gloomy and tormented group of people. The people indeed of these lines of the poem below that spring to most visitor's minds as they descend to Mongolia (it is only accessible by aeroplane) :


Later he stood outside, pissing —

the hot yellow steaming stream

meandered forth like a new life:

the stars descended to gather in its fate. Did they?

He looks up. Does he look up?

Does his Woman sleep?

And the leopard, the snow leopard, does it

shift and twitch? Does it?






Mongolia as seen from 200,000 feet by remote sensing techniques...the visitor is not wrong to expect a harsh, hostile, cold & forbidding terrain and climate.





As one descends the dark, violent nature of Mongolia, a place rarely visited except by officials and agents, is seen as here (at now 80,000 feet), showing the 'Inegooaal Mountain Range and the Bulutaang deserts.






A truck. Many Westerners, born in free, democratic, and advanced American nations, would scoff that such a morbid land, seemingly stuck in the time of Ghengis Kan, would have a truck. But there is one. Old and New march proudly side by side in today's Mongolia.





The 'Oolba' (or oil flower) seen here after one of the rare spits of rain -






Changes to this.... shows the incredible variety, beauty, and tenacity, of Life on Earth, adaptable to the most desolate, isolated, and bitter of terrains: either uninhabited, or inhabited by primitive men, or the eternally cold, or The Lost, the endlessly lost...






The number six or "jluugpa". I soon learnt this number was sacred to the Mongolians, who associated it with their revered horses and camels. Men have died for daring to question the awesome "depth" or 'spirit-meaning' ("poolga") of this universal and powerful number.




Typical happy Mongol woman and child. Despite the Mongoloid Look (note the child's rather vacant expression) of these people, they are very strong and swift and a can be as fierce and dangerous as the jaguars and hawks of their own land, For, as history teaches us, during thousands, nay endless of!, of bloody years, they have savaged and marauded the surrounding lands of Asia and India. They, "too", accept death as one of "life's bitter pills"...





'Chaakka' - the hallucinatory drink beloved of the tribesmen which they imbibe especially during ceremonies, in the savage, relentless, morbid, and very cold minus 50 degree winters or the strangely hot summers. One thinks here of Stravinsky's atavistic 'Rite of Spring'.





Despite the suffering and privation depicted in the next image of a common "nomad's abode in Mongolia, Mongolians have a deep spiritual sense. Here on one of Mongolia's many unused temples: I have "captured" a detail showing their almost naive mania for 'forms' and patterns, and the little known Moslemic influence. Their simplistic, childlike, yet deeply adherent nature is seen in these obsessive and futile patterns or neo-tessellated designs...



A sad scene showing a dilapidated building - somewhat of the kind found often in Mongolia or similar desolate and esoteric places.


Mongolian Dreams


It remains there —

Dont talk to me about it!

I dont want to know, I wont listen. I wont!

It's in my head. I know, there’s snow, and

probably camels — do they have camels? Snow?

And do the irrit camels shake their sleepy

heads when the snow flakes touch?

What are they doing now? Eh?

Does the daughter emerge from the tent?

Does she breathe the cold night?

Did she dream?

Her language is hers. Her Mongolia

is not my Mongolia Is it?

But what about the White Mountain?

Is it still there? Eh?

It was cold last night. Was it?

And what of the Man? Was he inside Mother?

Later he stood outside, pissing —

the hot yellow steaming stream

meandered forth like a new life:

the stars descended to gather in its fate. Did they?

He looks up. Does he look up?

Does his Woman sleep?

And the leopard, the snow leopard, does it

shift and twitch? Does it?


Never tell me






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