Symphonic but distant, the myriad trumpets of a kingdom so diffracted by atmosphere to us it’s just a glint of morning red coming on faint over the flat and big skied West. That’s up there, and there’s a truth in it for the narrator, Vera Cartwright whose quest Greyhound bus from New England where her darling mentoress has just drowned herself sifts her back amongst the particulate trappings of time and memory and dream to old Wabash Valley County, to find it.
Some 1100 pages and so assuredly heavy enough were it bone dry, the book is actually sopping; when picked up it squelches spongelike and weighs a ton, even with its dream landscapes shot dry for wet, tinted wind coursing slow enough over sentences one’s not sure whether he’s privy to an opioid phantasy, a salty fogged out New England talking-to or Midwestern hysterical pregnancy hallucination, often combinations of all three with all the dream realm correspondences each conception denotes in the mirrored consciousnesses of the author and the characters, usually as imaginary to one another as they are to the reader… lots of soft feminine physicality set just on the edge of nightmare horror underside, skin texture, thigh softness, angle set by a crossed leg, etc; Miss MacIntosh, bald, stern and stifflimbed—wears a false bosom, though, hee—and proud to be a ‘plainly sensible woman,’ enough that her charge, the narrator’s opium-saturated, bibulous-skinned mother and her strange callers in her old haunted house all seem shadowman malleable by comparison, gossamer soft and airy, and since most of them are hallucinated shades, ancient Egyptian dream envoys, ghostly avatars of the mother’s exoticism furnished by an existence spent entirely in plain fantasy this sort of makes sense… the book’s sentences gush liquizode, its exquisite oneiric runons just flowing flowing flowing, rebuking the still water—especially where American literature of the late-20th century is concerned—of setting, staid character, conventional plot with its essential motion, Miss MacIntosh’s very being, its every operatic characteristic speaking “I flow” to the countless shelves of books of pages of lines of words that just sit there.
Marguerite herself, born in 1908 in Indiana, descendant of Brigham on her father’s side so the dusty prophesying of the American West already rattled in her new bones by the time of adolescence, when the visions of her half-lucid, stroke-ravaged grandmother raspy in her ear reporting on the angels and otherworldly creatures that assuredly populated their old house augmented what gothic impulses were already there, is a marvel, crying out amidst the bones, skins, skeletal remnants of the angelic orders whose fossilized remnants litter the landscape after centuries of millennial striving from the open window of a little tincan Greyhound between towns…
It is a stubble field, where a black rain is falling.
It is a brown tree, that stands alone.
It is a hissing wind, that encircles empty houses.
How melancholy the evening is.
A while later,
The soft orphan garners the sparse ears of corn.
Her eyes graze, round and golden, in the twilight
And her womb awaits the heavenly bridegroom.
On the way home
The shepherd found the sweet body
Decayed in a bush of thorns.
I am a shadow far from darkening villages.
I drank the silence of God
Out of the stream in the trees.
Cold metal walks on my forehead.
Spiders search for my heart.
It is a light that goes out in my mouth.
At night, I found myself on a pasture,
Covered with rubbish and the dust of stars.
In a hazel thicket
Angels of crystal rang out once more.
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from the depths i summon thee…
“The primary imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the external act of creation in the infinite I AM”
"Imagination is not fantasy; nor is it sensibility… Imagination is an almost divine faculty which perceives immediately and without philosophical methods the inner and secret relations of things, the correspondences and analogies."
"If I were as elquent as Demosthenes, I should not have to do more than thrice repeat a single phrase: Reason is language, logos. This is the bone I gnaw myself to death over. Yet these depths are still obscure to me; I still await an apocalyptic angel with a key to this abyss."
"The initiators of the hebrew language renaissance believed blindly, almost fanatically, in the miraculous power of language, and that was their good fortune. Because if they had been clairvoyant, they never would have had the demonic courage to resuscitate a language destined to become an Esperanto. Even today, they continue to walk along, enchanted, above an abyss from which no sound rises; and they pass on the ancient names and signs to our youth. As for us, we are seized with fear when, amidst the thoughtless discourse of a speaker,a religious term suddenly makes us shudder, though it may even have been meant to console. This Hebrew is heavy with impending catastrophe. It cannot and will not remain in its present state… the day will come when the language will turn against those who speak it."
"The kabbalist claims that there is a tradition of truth that can be transmited. An ironic notion indeed, because the truth that is at stake here cannot be transmitted at all. It can be seen, but not transmitted; and exactly what can be transmitted of it, does not comprise it any more. Real tradition remains hidden; only decayed tradition becomes an object and it is only in its dilapidation that its greatness becomes visible." Scholem from Ten Unhistorical Aphorisms on Kabbalah
"It is beautifully right to find what i take to be the rough notes for Moby-Dick in the Shakespeare set itself. They are written in Melville’s hand, in pencil, upon the last fly-leaf of the last volume, the one containing Lear, Othello, and Hamlet. I transcribe them as they stand:
Ego non baptizo te in nomine Patris
et Filli et Spritus Sancti—sed in nomine
diaboli. —madness is undefinable—
It and right reason extremes of one,
—not the (black art) Goetic but Theurgic magic—
seeks converse with the Intelligence, Power,
The Latin is a longer form of what Melville told Hawthorne to be the secret motto of Moby-Dick, In the novel Ahab howls it as an inverted benediction upon the harpoon he has tempered in savage blood:
Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli.
I do not baptize thee in the name of the father, but in the name of the devil.”
The Wallpaper of Mr. R.K.
The ceiling of hell was fastened with thick gold nails. Underneath was the earth. Hell is all fountains, big, luminous and twisted. For the earth there is a little slope: a field of wheat cut smoothly and a small sky in onion rinds through which passes a cavalcade of mad dwarves. On each side there is a pine forest and an aloe forest. You are now appearing, Miss Suzanne, before a revolutionary court for having found a white hair among your many black ones.
über der grauschwarzen Ödnis.
greift sich den Lichtton: es sind
noch Lieder zu singen jenseits
over the grayblack wasteness.
strikes the light-tone: there are
still songs to sing beyond
"Sex, too, has a meaning, or rather sex is embarrassment of meaning: it is an awkward way of going about things. It is a roundabout way of arriving at a point that could not be found if it were aimed at directly—could not yet be found. For sex is a slowness; it is a not being too soon; it is a going to be; it is instead of sleeping; it is a wide-awake sleeping, a sleepy readiness for waking."
Sept. 6 1916:
"I was and am very sorry for Ezra because beneath all his many wrappings I see the real man who sorrows deeply over the antics and perverse lucubrations of his distracted charge. Watching and listening to Ezra I could see, as it were, something slimy crawling over everything that is beautiful and nobel and of good report and leaving behind him an unquestionably glittering but at the same time foul track of slime…”
WT HORTON to YEATS
"[Alberto] Savinio said he was certain that the ruins Schliemann excavated must be those of ancient Troy, because during the First World War the British destroyer ‘Agamemnon’ had bombarded them. If the British sailors had not been inspired by the unspent fury of Agamemnon, why should they have fired at ruins in a wilderness? Names are more the than a definition of things…"