Tag Archives: derrida

Simon Jarvis’ F Subscript Zero

I blame Neil Pattison.
At the beginning of July I was enthusing about ‘Dionysus Crucified’ and which I saw as a radical departure from Jarvis’ previous work which had been characterised by a quite defiant use of regular metre. I continued to enthuse through the comments thread which is where Neil informed me of F subscript zero’ which was published by Equipage in 2007. I received a copy about a month ago and what follows is an interim / provisional report about which (as ever) I reserve the right to change my mind.
The first thing to note is that it contains two poems, neither of which are written in regular metre which demolishes the above mentioned chronology. In fact, the verse in the first poem is decidedly free and the second contains some odd formatting. The title is the abbreviation for ‘fundamental frequency’ which Vance Maverick has helpfully defined as
“within any tone, it’s the lowest frequency of any component. So If I sing a C, sounding about 125 Hz, that’s F0 — the overtones above it, which also contribute to the sound, are F1, F2, etc. (Of course, when an instrument plays its lowest note, that note has an F0 too.)”
The first poem would appear to have two titles, the first being “ODE” which appears in very large letters on an otherwise blank page and the second being “At home with Paul Burrell” which appears at the top of the first page of verse. This poem also carries an epigraph- “Immer zu! Immer zu!” in very small italics.
For those who who don’t know, Paul Burrell was butler to Princess Diana and became imbroigled in a fairly public row about some items belonging to Diana that found their way into his possession. As a result of this Burrell becama one of those minor celebrities beloved of the popular press. “At home with” is a headline used by magazines like ‘Hello’.
These preliminaries aside, the first few lines make it clear that we’re in Jarvis territory by which I mean that we’re dealing with poetry where nothing much happens but it happens in really interesting ways and with a strong leaning towards the abstract. The first seven lines are:

"Pudge blinks up or is it glints up from an area of skin pushed out as a fat
fat reserve held against no imaginable lack under the jawbone.
An eye glassy with its declaration of fair dealing first fixes then blurs its blue
or grey trompe window cum aperture into what were the most seeing or most living
or as a hole through which we can gaze into the trace left by a paralogism
or as one of two little caverns frankly welcoming two other little caverns of mine
into it/our ownmost shared inner expectorated category mistake."

I may be wrong but I cant think of anyone else who writes quite like this. I’d like to draw attention to ‘no imaginable lack’, ‘trace left by a paralogism’ and ‘inner expectorated category mistake’. There will be many who will view such phrases as being either unbelievably pretentious or far too mannered for their own good. There have been times in the last month when I have shared this view but now I’m not so sure.

It is worth bearing in mind Jarvis’ view that poetry is an excellent way of doing philosophy and also that doing difficult or ambitious things often comes with a price. The standard, sensible response to reading the above as the start of a six and a quarter page poem would be to put it down and not proceed any further but I’d like to suggest that those who do peresevere will be rewarded. I’m not suggesting that this is an easy ride and that all it takes is to re-adjust your head in line with the Jarvis thesis. What I am suggesting is that this overt attempt to put his thesis into practice has resulted in some of the most startling and though-provoking verse of the last decade.

The above use of ‘parologism’ and ‘category mistake’ announce Jarvis’ intent and the use of many clauses in one sentence echoes the digressive habits of ‘The Unconditional’.

Reviewing ‘The Unconditional’ in Jacket Tom Jones described the poem as “scholarly and in part its scholarship is part of Jarvis’ professional life”. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about whether I agree with that observation and what a scholarly poem might look like. I’ve decided that the term is less than useful because it implies an excess of objectivity which is inimical to the production of verse. One could argue that the ‘Maximus’ poems are scholarly because they are based to some extent on Olson’s archive-based research and are informed by Process and Reality but this would to overlook the utterly biased way that Olson argues his case. There is more of a case to be made for the astronomical aspects of ‘Paradise Lost’ being viewed as scholarly because they are based on contemporary science but nobody would argue that astronomy was Milton’s main ‘point’.
Jarvis’ professional life does however throw some light on this poem but more as a way of understanding one particular piece of polemic. He has written a well respected tome on Adorno in which he waxes eloquently and enthusiastically about the major elements of the Frankfurt School. This isn’t at all surprising as most poets writing in or around the Cambridge vein have bought into the Adorno view. One aspect of this view is its ingrained and unapologetic positivism and another is the view that poetry somehow has a privileged position as a means of creative expression. This particular breed of positivism is deeply/violently against most aspects of post structuralism and especially the works of Jacques Derrida. I now need to quote a lengthy extract which displays this tendency I’m providing such a large chunk because I want to try and avoid taking something out of context-

ready to call all bliss abstract from its long laboured fund of public inattention which is
at once a wrong screen and an exact measure of all goods failing to find a port
at once cloud and the only lit ghost of majesty not babied in blue melancholy
which is a flood at once drowning so punishing and so or and illuminating this dark orb
or which would be at once both saint and criminal only by virtue of this Mobius-at-once generale gloats
taking the hiatus in the a a tongue has broken down for mere representation of breakdown and thus
taking all breaks only for an imaginary slippage and hence whispering or otherwise repeating
a disowned indifferent cosmology of perennial deferal and differing eyelessly in its
refusal to speak a cosmology but instead just slid up topless topologies displacing all top
viz an insideless life no life but built like an invisible brainless bottle or blurred into lobbed blobs
innerless outerless upperless lossles less here than there, deathless, seamless, nested & recursive
less even like 'an advanced credit system' that it is a causality-through-freedom of holding companies
than it is the way my eye flees from sight of a pupil to a fugitively lit corner of restrained eyewear
than it is like the way my ear drops from the grain of an insignificant abrasion to its indexical stuff
than it is like the way my tongue slips from a kiss to a lick collecting some sundry or some sexy data
hand flips from a caress to a blow than it is like how in any event I may not discriminate a quality and how I may not discern a change

I’ve written at length about the ‘Stripogrammatology’ quip in Keston Sutherland’s ‘Stress Position’ and have been critical of both its brevity and the abusive terms in which it is expressed. To be fair, Sutherland has put forward a vigorous defence of the two lines in question and I think we’ve agreed to differ. My primary concern was the fact that it’s intellectually shallow to dismiss Derrida in two lines. The above however is a much fuller critique of how the Anglo Saxon academy views deconstruction in general and the controversial ‘Differance’ essay in particular. I have to concede that it ‘works’ in that it is an effective statement in verse form of the standard position and that there are many good ‘philosophical’ bits, in fact I find the first ten lines to be quite stunning, especially ‘babied in blue melancholy’, ‘Mobius-at-once generale’ and ‘just slid up into topless topologies’. After line ten things get a bit too mannered for my liking without adding very much to what’s gone before but the whole does represent a poetic way of doing philosophy.
I need at this stage to come clean with the fact that I don’t share the Jarvis/Sutherland line on this particular subject and I would question whether the above standard refutation is an accurate reflection of what Derrida was about and whether this particular piece of condemnation latches on to the weaker bits of this particular essay or is just another wide-angled volley in the hope of taking a few prisoners. I’d also question whether Derrida actually did philosophy, but then again I’d ask the same question about Adorno.
The other point is that I had to read the above three or four times before I realised what was going on which indicates that I probably need to pay more careful attention to the rest of it.
I don’t want to say much more at the moment because I’m still trying to get my brain around most of it and haven’t yet begun to think about the second poem. Some bits are very experimental-

then but
so not

Some of these make sense whilst others at the moment are merely annoying. As for Paul Burrell…….

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Slow poetry part three

The work of mourning

In the work of mourning it is not grief that works, grief keeps watch
In the work of mourning it is not grief that works, grief keeps watch
In the work of mourning it is not grief that works, grief keeps watch

In the work of morning it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the work of morning it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the work of morning it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch

In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch

In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil

In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil

In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil

In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil

In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief stays awake
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief stays awake
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief stays awake

i.m. Patrick Doherty

We never did find the bullet that entered Patsy’s right buttock
We didn’t really look for  the bullet that entered Patsy’s right buttock
We may have hidden the bullet that entered Patsy’s right buttock

We searched high and low for the bullet that penetrated Patsy’s right ilio-sacral joint
It was never in our interests to find  the bullet that penetrated Patsy’s right ilio-sacral joint
We may have disposed of  the bullet that penetrated Patsy’s right ilio-sacral joint

We all went to look for the bullet  that entered Patsy’s abdominal cavity
We scoured the ground in our search for  the bullet  that entered Patsy’s abdominal cavity
The bullet  that entered Patsy’s abdominal cavity will never come to light

We never did come across the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s aorta
We didn’t really search for the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s aorta
We may have secreted away the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s aorta

We never did find the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s inferior vena cava
We didn’t really look for the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s inferior vena cava
We may have hidden the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s inferior vena cava

We searched high and low for the high velocity round that lacerated the two main blood vessels in Patsy’s abdomen
It was never in our interests to find the high velocity round that lacerated the two main blood vessels in Patsy’s abdomen
We may have disposed of the high velocity round that lacerated the two main blood vessels in Patsy’s abdomen

We weren’t that bothered about the high velocity round that tore through Patsy’s bowel and colon attachments
We never did find the high velocity round that tore through Patsy’s bowel and colon attachments
We searched high and low for the high velocity round that tore through Patsy’s bowel and colon attachments

We may have found and the disposed of the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s diaphragm
It was never in our interests to find and retain the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s diaphragm
We searched high and low for the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s diaphragm

We never located the bullet that entered Patsy’s left chest cavity
We may have hidden or otherwise discarded the bullet that entered Patsy’s left chest cavity
We don’t have the bullet that entered Patsy’s left chest cavity

We searched high and low for the high velocity round that lacerated the lower outer part of Patsy’s left lung
It was never in our interests to produce to this Inquiry the high velocity round that lacerated the lower outer part of Patsy’s left lung
We left no stone unturned in our search for the high velocity round that lacerated the lower outer part of Patsy’s left lung

We never did find the bullet that fractured Patsy’s eighth left rib
We don’t have the bullet that fractured Patsy’s eighth left rib
We may once have had what was left of the bullet that fractured Patsy’s eighth left rib

We searched high and low for the bullet that fractured Patsy’s ninth left rib
We may have hidden or otherwise discarded for the bullet that fractured Patsy’s ninth left rib
It was never in our interests to produce to this or any other Inquiry for the bullet that fractured Patsy’s ninth left rib

We never did locate the bullet that left Patsy’s body through the left side of the chest, well below and somewhat in front of the armpit.
We never really tried to find  the bullet that left Patsy’s body through the left side of the chest, well below and somewhat in front of the armpit.
We searched high and low for  the bullet that left Patsy’s body through the left side of the chest, well below and somewhat in front of the armpit.

Because I still like him

Because I still like him, I can foresee the disappointment of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the disappointment of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the disappointment of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my wrong reader
Because I still love him, I don’t ignore the rage of my wrong reader
Because there is love and anger  between us, we don’t read as we should.

 

Celan, Derrida and bearing witness

This might take some time as I have a number of things that I need to say and a number of other things that I need to throw up in the air to see how they land. Whilst this piece is prompted by Derrida’s essay “Poetics and Politics of Witnessing” which focuses on a poem by Paul Celan, I also want to talk about the creative possibilities that the process of bearing witness offers.

I’m one of those sad obsessives who take an interest in public inquiries. I’m fascinated by the way that the State seeks to exonerate itself when bad things happen and by the way that the State will use inquiry findings as an excuse to act in a draconian manner. I have been tangentially involved in one such inquiry (into the Cleveland child abuse fiasco) and the final report did not tally with what actually occurred during the crisis. At the time, I put this down to the State having its own agenda which was to introduce new legislation but, having now read primary material on the BSE inquiry and the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, I can see that it is the process of giving evidence (bearing witness) that is flawed.

The last lines of Celan’s poem are “No one / bears witness for the / witness.” Paul Celan was a Holocaust survivor and both his parents died at the hands of the Germans. Throughout his life Celan felt compelled to act as a poetic witness to the Holocaust and Derrida rightly points out this task is in itself impossible. He substantiates this with- “That comes down to saying – always the same paradox, the same paradoxopoetic matrix – that as soon as it is guaranteed, certain as a theoretical proof , a testimony can no longer be guaranteed as testimony.”

I’ve said before that Derrida is the finest reader of Celan that we have and his reading here of ‘Aschenglorie hinter’ underlines his honesty and intelligence in stating within the text and confronting its challenges head on. Before I get on to discussing these issues I do want to expand a bit on the witness/testimony problem. There are a number of stages in the ‘official/judicial’ bearing witness process. The first is the point at which the witness becomes aware of the bad thing that has happened. We all perceive and make sense of things differently so witnesses to the same event can produce materially different accounts of the same event, neither of which is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The second part of the process is the making of the statement which is usually done in the presence of a friendly/sympathetic official and provides the witness with an opportunity to recount what they have witnessed. The third part of this phase consists of repeating this as part of a judicial process and the fourth occurs when the witness is cross-examined by lawyers for other interested parties.

My personal experience of both civil and criminal cases bears this out and also underlines the deterioration that occurs along every step of the way as outlined above. I once spent three days being cross-examined in a child abuse case and all of this consisted of having to defend my personal and professional integrity rather than on the veracity of what I had witnessed. In this particular instance, what convinced me that a very bad thing had occurred arose from a chance conversation with a young person with quite profound learning difficulties who was trying, as bet he could, to communicate to me that he was the victim of sexual assault perpetrated by a colleague of mine. Professionally I knew that this witness could not actually bear witness but the truth of what he said remains with me to this day (there were 22 other victims and my colleague was jailed for seven years).

Contrasting the witness statements with Lord Phillips’ final report into BSE is a further illustration of how veracities get lost along the way. There is one veterinary pathologist who is convinced that BSE (‘scrapie in a cow’) was first identified 12 months before the ‘official’ date, she knows this because she carried out the autopsy. The final report flatly contradicts this without introducing any meaningful evidence and does this (as Phillips admits) in order to dispel media speculation that the British state had known about BSE for a year without taking any action.

We now come to Bloody Sunday and I’m aware that I’m writing this prior to publication of Saville’s findings. There are however some aspects of witness testimony that won’t find their way into the final report. A teacher who was on the march recalls seeing a soldier crouched down on one knee with his rifle sight to one eye and realising that very similar poses are struck in army recruitment brochures. The report will ignore this and in doing so will occlude one person’s ‘truth’ of the moment. Bernard Mcguigan was shot in the head by soldier ‘F’ who happened to be crouched on one knee- this will be in the report but will be missing was that Barney (as he was known) was seen having a ‘crafty’ smoke as the march began and that his wife didn ‘t like him smoking. Other details will also be missing, that his wife had soaked an orange cloth in vinegar to ward off the effects of tear gas, that she was cooking bacon and/or sausages when her brother called to tell her that Barney was dead. These are all truths taken from just two of the hundreds of witness statements that were made.

The point that I’m trying to make is that bearing witness is a complex and tricky business and that Derrida is absolutely correct about the damage that is done once witnesses encounter an official domain.

Poetry has the potential to act as witness in a way that is less mediated/corrupt. Our finest poets (Prynne, Hill and Sutherland) have all produced work which stands as witness to bad things that have occurred. Prynne has done this brilliantly with the multiple viewpoints of ‘Refuse Collection’ whereas ‘Triumph of Love’ is Hill’s magisterial take on the various excesses of the twentieth century. Finally ‘Stress Position’ manages to be both a searing indictment of Western atrocities in Iraq and a technical exercise in perspective. All of these poets are compelled (creatively and morally) to bear witness and do so in a way that should jolt us out of our complacency.

Celan really struggled with his compulsion, he saw the Holocaust as such a terrible scar, such an omniscient tragedy, that putting it into language of any kind gave him enormous difficulty. This poem is a truly terrible poem to read and must have been agony to write but it stands today as the finest example we have of bearing witness.

The other point of writing this is to think aloud about my latest creative ‘project’ which will probably be a long and fairly dense conflation of Bloody Sunday and BSE as expressed in witness statements and expert evidence. For the first time ever I’ve done research, I’ve learned about proteins that misfold and about the difference between an entry and exit wound.  I’ve also tried to work out in detail the motives of the British state in both of these events.

I’m trying out different forms and different voices (primarily because I’m bored with writing/sounding like RS Thomas) and have thus taken note of how the best do it (bear witness). I have to say that the early results have pleased me and, as I write to please myself, that’s all that really matters. I’m thinking of calling it “The Ballad of Barney and Beast 142” which has a bit of and echo of Sutherland’s “honest account of Ali whoever’ from Stress Position.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to have a bit of a rant about John Felstiner who chooses to translate ‘glorie’ as ‘aureole’. This is perverse in the extreme- ‘aureole’ may be a subsidiary definition but there is nothing to suggest that this was Celan’s intention- every other translator into French and English gives ‘glory’ as does Derrida. Given the status of the Felstiner collection shouldn’t more of us be pointing out that there are far better translations out there? I’m thinking in particular of Hamburger and Joris both of whom have published their own poems whereas Felstiner hasn’t.

Finally, in a 1994 discussion Derrida defined the ideological difference between Heidegger and himself. He said that Heidegger was concerned in gathering things together whilst he was concerned with scattering them. Inquiries are concerned with the gather whilst the truth lies in the scatter.

Paul Celan, Jacques Derrida and deconstruction

In the Anglo-Saxon world, Jacques Derrida often gets a bad press. He’s usually considered to be either a complete charlatan or to be unreadably obscure. I’ve never been brave enough to tackle either ‘Of Grammatology’ or ‘Glas’ but I was terribly impressed by the notorious ‘differance’ essay- so impressed that I copied out the last few paragraphs. I was also impressed by Derrida’s reading of Heidegger’s use of the term ‘spirit’ although less impressed with his analysis of the rectorship address.

Derrida in 1994 said of deconstruction ” It is an analysis which tries to find out how their thinking works or does not work, to find the tensions, the contradictions, the heterogeneity” and “deconstruction is something which happens and which happens inside”. This was an attempt to refute the charge that deconstruction has no respect for the text and seeks to reduce everything to the same level.

One can argue whether deconstruction is appropriate for philosophy and this is a debate that I’m happy to leave to others. It is however clear to me that it is entirely fitting for the reading of ‘difficult’ poetry and indeed may be the only way to read challenging verse.

I have written on this blog before about the poetry of Paul Celan (who has also been accused of unreadable obscurity) and my belief that his work is the most important poetry of the last 50 years. Celan is a source of constant joy for academics, they tend to seize on one aspect of his work (usually his admiration for Heidegger) and extrapolate to the nth degree. In my view this doesn’t clarify any aspect of the work but does enable critics to construct their own pet theories ad absurdam. I acknowledge that Celan is a complex figure and one has to reconcile his relationship to philosophy, religion, German literature as well as the holocaust and his consequent mental health issues but that doesn’t mean that we should seize on one particular strand as proof of his intentions.

Further meat for academics is provided by two speeches that Celan made (The Bremen Address and the Meridian) in which he sets out a personal manifesto for poetry. These two have provided critics with endless hours of fun in picking over key phrases to the exclusion of the whole.

It is therefore with some trepidation that I approached ‘Shibboleth for Paul Celan’, a 1986 essay in which Derrida tackles several key themes in Celan’s work. The first thing that can be said is that it is neither unreadable nor obscure, there are no references to people that you’ve never heard of nor are there any foreign phrases that will bee unfamiliar to the lay reader. The essay stays within Celan’s work and looks especially at the concept of ‘date’ and the use of the Hebrew word ‘Shibboleth’ and the practice of circumcision.

What I like about this essay is that Derrida treats the texts with complete respect, he doesn’t indulge in flights of fancy and extrapolate things that aren’t actually there. The essay starts with a long discussion of the nature of cirmcision and what it may signify, the circular nature of the wound itself, the wound as a sign of admission to a community and ‘the experience of blessing and of purification’.

In the Meridian, Celan says ‘Yet the poem does speak! It remains mindful of its dates, yet – it speaks’. Derrida starts from this to consider the role of the date in Celan’s poetry, pointing out the importance of commemoration and mourning in the work and also the fact that the date on which the poem was written always returns the following year. The fact that poems carry two dates (the date on which it was written and the date of the event which it describes) and the notion that each date carries within it its own destruction leads to Derrida to point out the inherent madness of the date. Some would say that this is an example of over-reading or of finding things that aren’t actually there but I found myself following this line of argument and can see its merits.

In the Old Testament the story is told of a victory over the Ephraimites. In order to prevent the defeated soldiers from escaping, each was required to say the word ‘shibboleth’, the Ephraimites were known for being unable to pronounce this word and thus gve themselves away. Derrida extends the use of this word to consider the access that it may give to a poem and also the role of passwords as rallying cries to political action.

I realise that the above doesn’t do justice to the nuances of the essay but I hope it conveys the sense that deconstruction can treat the text with appropriate respect and that challenging work almost insists on this working from within. This particular essay will also enrich the experience of anyone with an interest in Celan.

Love poem

I don’t do this very often, probably because I’m not good with emotions and the world is already full to bursting with  poems about love. This one started with a documentary on Derrida where, in exasperation, he made the statement about love that’s in the poem- that got me to thinking about my own feelings for my partner and this in turn led to the poem which is, if anything, an affirmation of the life we’ve shared together since 1970. The documentary is really good- a bit like watching God taking a piss.

Nettski

Jacqui says (and he should know)

There are two types of love

The love of qualities and

The love of the essential,

My love for you is of the second kind.

Jacqui says this poem

is in a frame marked “poem”.

Whilst it is true,

I do love the inside of your thighs,

Your smile, the things you think,

The way you check yourself out,

That’s not why I love you,

Then I get to thinking about essence,

Give some consideration to soul.

Then I see that my love for you

Is implacable, takes no prisoners

Is about the You of You,

The storm within the storm,

The deep inside and the eyes that smile.

I love you.

Jacqui is a clever man,

He’s read three or four books very very well,

He frets about his wife in the kitchen,

And eats lemon curd for breakfast

But he’s only half-right about love,

You cant split qualities from essence,

One reflects the other,

immutable, for ever.

I really love the you of you.