Prynne in Paris in 2009 and on tape in 1963.

Before proceeding with ‘To Pollen’, I felt I had to share the fact that someone has posted the tape of a 1963 reading and interview that Prynne gave on to the indispensable aaaaarg. I wouldn’t have mentioned this because I’m not that interested in what Prynne was doing in the early sixties but some other site user has posted this which I reproduce in full:

“Not to be brain police or anything, but just fyi, Prynne HATES this interview/reading, wishes he’d never done it, & specifically requested that it not be spread around in any format. It’s your call whether or not you respect an author’s wishes; but just letting you know in apoplectic-mimetic mixed metaphor, you’ve hit the nail on the head at the very bullseye of the man’s Achilles heel. Which covers a lot of body parts in one post, I should say. Cheers, ~~~M”

This same person had a whinge when ‘Poetic Thought’ was uploaded arguing incorrectly that it hadn’t yet been published. I’d obtained the files the day they became available but have yet to play them. What’s interesting is that there are now thousands of authors listed on aaaaarg
and as far as I am aware nobody else attracts this kind of zealotry. I also have a bit of a problem with repudiation because i’m not entirely sure what it signifies. Prynne gave this interview and he read these poems and it is reasonable to surmise that he now disagrees with what he said in the interview and isn’t overly keen on the poems that he wrote. What he can’t do is expect the rest of the planet to act as if these events did not occur, what’s also really odd is why he attracts this kind of zealotry in some of his current readers………
To return to ‘To Pollen’-

Fault plane under treading lacks rip indelicate
path to its line, to the furnace. Soon by mistake
gains overfill commander to mother up fewer or
single nerve balances in averted along elate for
normal, drastic. Newer finding up reefs you see
slice first partition. Why should that work. Mean
passed over no vigil no truce grab for best there
and service altered runway. Truck hurt failed list
incident pacific not civil, render back on principal
hinterland allurement. Afferent side ripe on track
refix as, rose up in mossy fibres attuned, brimmer
won’t mix hand even extend. How could also not be
lesser. Stand nearby went off its oil trap refined.

Last time I’d got as far as ‘mother’ on line 3 and now propose to ignore ‘nerve balances’ because it’s still baffling me. Reading ‘alert along elate’ unless along is read as a verb- to ‘affect with longing’, ‘to be afflicted with longing’ or ‘to put at a distance, remove far’. Bearing in mind that a definition of elate is to raise up or elevate this begins to make a little more sense. So, if we take averted as something that has been turned away then this would seem to be saying that a longed for elevation has been denied- or perhaps I’m being simplistic. ‘Normal, drastic’ continue to elude me.
The next sentence ends with ‘partition’ that well known colonial device much loved by the British in the first half of the 20th century (Ireland, India) and I recall some debate about whether or not a similar fate should befall Iraq after the invasion in particular with regard to land occupied by the Kurds in the north of the country. This would fit with the use of ‘reefs as a verb which is defined as ” A section of a sail, freq. each of three or four bands or strips, which can be taken in or rolled up to reduce the area exposed to the wind.” It could be argued that the intention behind splitting Iraq into two or three states was to ‘reduce the area exposed to the wind” i.e. to reduce the factionalised conflict between the three main groups. This would also fir with the angry sarcasm of the next sentence- the previous acts of partition have been dismal failures, especially on the Indian sub-continent with Kashmir continually riven by state-sponsored terror on both sides.
Of the very many possible definitions of ‘mean’ I’m going to settle on its use as a noun – a mediator because this would best fit with ‘no truce’, it being very difficult to achieve a truce or ceasefire without prior mediation. I can’t however recall any specific opportunities when the occupying forces refused to countenance the use of mediation- I do recall that the response to what were termed as insurgents (on any side) was brutal repression.
‘Runway’ is puzzling although one of its meanings is “Any artificial (sloping or horizontal) track or gangway made for convenience of passage or carriage” which could refer to a pipeline which would ‘fit’ with ‘oil trap refined’ in the last sentence. In the reading, Prynne places a pause after ‘vigil’ and again after ‘truce’ so I’m taking “grab for best there” as a single phrase and guessing that it alludes to the much repeated accusation that the invasion was much more about the oil reserves rather than any concern for the Iraqi people under Saddam. This would also tie in with ‘hinterland allurement’ as a reference to the oil fields.
‘Truck hurt failed’ can be read as a straightforward reference to the criminally stupid ‘Oil for food’ program which was supposed to reduce the adverse effects of sanctions on the Iraqi people but only succeeded in lining the pockets of corrupt officials and traders. This reading only ‘works’ if truck is read as a verb and is defined as “To bargain or deal for a commodity, with a person; to negotiate; also to have dealings in, to trade; esp. of dealings of an underhand or improper character: to traffic”. I keep getting distracted by hindsight with ‘list incident pacific, not civil’ because I’m now aware (thanks to Wikileaks) of the way that the occupying forces log incidents, I’m not sure how much of this was in the public domain in 2006 when ‘To Pollen’ was published.
The next sentence is still completely baffling primarily because ‘side’ and ‘hand’ give too many possible readings for my small brain and ‘mossy fibres attuned’ just seems odd (unless it’s a quote or an allusion). In the reading there is a pause after ‘side’ and I’m not sure that changing extend to extended is in any way helpful. I will point out that ‘brimmer’ is an echo of ‘overfill’ in line 3 and there is an image in my head of the invaders gorging themselves on oil but I can’t really justify this from the text.
The penultimate sentence is a question but is worded in such a way as to appear incredibly abstract and I have no idea what it might be referring to, in fact I have real trouble working out what it is saying- apart from ‘also’ being equated with ‘lesser’. The last sentence may echo the first in a reference to ieds (stand near to a buried ied and you will be maimed or killed) and thus to the ‘trap’ that is the promise of oil.
So, the reading does help a bit but I’m still stuck with some sentences and phrases that refuse to yield and the extend/extended problem would only become clearer if I knew what definition of ‘hand’ is being used.
I haven’t paid serious attention to Prynne for a while and I’d forgotten just how rewarding and oddly compelling this can be… any clues on ‘mossy fibres attuned’ would be more than welcome.


3 responses to “Prynne in Paris in 2009 and on tape in 1963.

  1. Mossy fibre: ‘a type of thick, highly branched afferent nerve fibre found especially in the cerebellar cortex.’

    An extensive entry in OED.



  2. and would fit with the review I placed a few years back:

    The twenty two verses inside the sand coloured and pollen flecked cover carry a strange and beautiful language that re-contextualizes and re-energizes the quotidian images [‘lantern series | sprung off’] blowing in from Middle Eastern war zones [‘Shoot quickly now’] planting unrest in minds and markets. We can only imagine these anthers of production, but what of the minds of the civilian and military presences and the tools they use for data sensing and interpretation – familiars rubbing at the edge of consciousness as domesticity or threat: ‘For roading watch closely side to side affective in | cover step remunerate… | At the side never drew not this curtain used as so | much normal as dry other waiting bleeding go there | know that way no glance close together.’

    Western inability to learn that the primary driver of futures is the longevity and resistance to decay of pollen grains presages ‘fresh terrors stashed in the basket’. We will reap from this desert storm what is now being sown across the airways, so take care when you measure out the meaning of ‘some outfield chaplain’ explaining ‘how bravery is planted | in a celestial soil like dust we are’.

    • Peter, this is far better and more incisive than anything that I could put together, is this anywhere on the web? Thanks for the ‘mossy fibres’ assistance, I still need to think about this some more but that’s what is so satisfying about this material.l


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