Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Original Middle of Nowhere


I came across this very interesting interview with Shelley Jackson in the Iowa Web Review and also, most especially, her really fascinating website.

Of particular interest to me is the piece "Skin," a short story of which each word is tattooed on an actual body.

There's also the Instititial Library project (E pluribus plurum.)

Another thing is her novel Half Life about conjoined twins. I've been researching conjoined twins (what used to be called Siamese Twins) for a novel I'm thinking about. (Wait! I'm supposed to be the only one writing about conjoined twins, didn't she know?) The idea of sharing a body, sharing a circulation, even sharing parts of the brain is fascinating and resonant. What are the limits of the person? How much experience can one share? What about more than one person accessing parts of your brain? How does one conceive of the self in this situation? In any situation? What about being separated?

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Another thing I'm wondering about: In time travel narratives, do people ever interact with themselves? I know this somehow usually violates some time travel code. Sometimes people see themselves (recently in the Harry Potter book and movie) but they don't talk to themselves. In thinking about the self, this seems to be a really interesting conceit to explore.

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My Credo
from the current Paris Review (Issue 177) an interview of James Tate by Charles Simic:


Simic: What was [your] first poem like?
Tate: It was stupid.
Simic: There are various ways to be stupid.

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Frederick Seidel has an interesting poem "Barbados" in the current Harpers. It's from his forthcoming collection Ooga Booga. Great title. "The poems in Ooga-Booga are about a youthful slave owner and his aging slave, and both are the same man.

Here are the first two lines, which belies the incisions of the rest of the poem. (He's been called “the most frightening American poet ever” (Calvin Bedient, Boston Review).

Literally the most expensive hotel in the world
Is the smell of rain about to fall.

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I'm not the most frightening poet ever, except on occasion, to myself. Or my kids. And sadly, never to my students. Here's a little poem of mine which originated from seeing an old Balinese woman casually standing around in the middle of a village with a large rock on her head.


I was born with my head
in the middle of nowhere

until someone placed a rock on it
Then I knew

where I was

which rock
I was under

And when I learned to walk
I walked

always
in the cool shade

1 comment:

functional nomad said...

In Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted meet up with themselves at different stages of their quest -- and give/receive crucial advice. They also interact with their future selves -- as in, "When I get out of this situation, I'm going to travel back in time and leave a set of keys under this rock." And presto, the keys are there. It creates a kind of spiral effect in time when they hit the same moments in the future and relive the 'other' Bill and Ted. I suppose it is lucky or maybe fatalistic/deterministic that they re-enacted themselves perfectly. I suppose it would have complicated the movie needlessly had they mucked things up and sent themselves off in the wrong/a different direction.

As well, seeing their roles in the far future, as musicians that change the world, changes them in the present of story.