the twit


    poempost: some dogs (fragment)

    between rains, some dogs
    beside the road: a cloud of orphans--
    delinquent notice to feed
    the withering gods.


    belated guestpost 2: frederick douglass

    in the wake of the obama election, and in some ways intertwining with my transposing rhetoric post, my dear heart douglas ray sent two textual moments my way. here's the second:

    "Frederick Douglass"
    When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
    and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
    usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
    when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
    reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
    than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
    this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
    beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
    where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
    this man, superb in love and logic, this man
    shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues' rhetoric,
    not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
    but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
    fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.
    --Robert Hayden

    belated guestpost 1: jim bond

    in the wake of the obama election, and in some ways intertwining with my transposing rhetoric post, my dear heart douglas ray sent two textual moments my way. here's the first, with d ray's voice sputtering about:

    I. Apéritif

    I love the excitement of a proposal – it’s simulated entrepreneurship for poet / academic. So here’s one for Harper Collins. Or FSG (Oh to be published by Lorca’s publisher! Aye! Wounded Lilies! Sweet dahlias! Flourish the zithers! My orange heart!):

    Dear Smartly-Clad Sirs,

    For three months, I will practice, religiously, the sortes Vergilianae. But not with Vergil’s works – funeral pyres are not for me. A Mississippian, instead – Faulkner, Welty, Morris, or Percy perhaps. The Moviegoer as guide-to-life is workable. I’d probably go for Williams, though. John Waters could write the forward. Mark Doty could blurb me. Oprah could review me. Gail could edit Oprah.

    Undersexed Underpaid
    Oxford, MS

    P.S. SASE enclosed for your timely reply.

    II. Meat of the fruit

    Faulkner isn’t my usual election day reading choice, but this year I was reading a brilliant article about the “erotics of the gap” (!!!), “an ethically, not ontologically constructed homosexuality,” and “a coming-out historiography” in Absalom, Absalom!. We’re queering the canon, making queer canons, and queering the history of canon-making. But, I felt the need to review the novel a bit before delving into the article. The final chapter (9), I remember being super-charged with the erotics of narration (erotics of confesston, I suppose). I ran across this gem and exploded in the margins:

    “Then I’ll tell you. I think that in time the Jim Bonds are going to conquer the western hemisphere. Of course it wont quite be in our time and of course as they spread toward the poles they will bleach out again like the rabbits and the birds do, so they wont show up so sharp against the snow. But it will still be Jim Bond; and so in a few thousand years, I who regard you will also have sprung from the loins of African kings.”

    A. Context in the novel

    Shreve (Shrevlin McCannon) is talking to Quentin Compson (of The Sound and the Fury fame) in their dorm room at Harvard. It’s 1910, and they’re trying to piece together the mysteries of Sutpen’s Hundred and an experience that Quentin had in Jeffererson with Rosa Coldfield (Faulkner’s representation of a providential view of history).

    This passage is the final one of the book – (leading to Shreve’s famous question – “Why do you hate the South?”), and it seems all too prophetic…Old Testament-ish, like the titular reference to King David’s cry for his son. Jim Bond – slackjawed and oafish – is the son of Charles Bon (who fought with the University Grays and died in 1865) and his black wife.

    B. Resonance

    What Shreve imagines is akin to the picture of SimEve – Time magazine’s rendering of generations of interracial breeding in their Fall 1993 issue on immigration, which casts the United States as the “World’s First Multicultural Society.” Of course, one need look no further than Time magazine covers again – for the face of Shreve’s prophecy made manifest – President-elect Barack Obama (he, like Jim Bond, performs a mixed-race identity). What’s fascinating is that, in Absalom! Absalom! in which he grapples with history more than in any other in his oeuvre, he ends with this flourish of foresight.

    III. Gratias Tibi Ago

    Well done, Bill. Kudos to you, Shreve. You were right: this didn’t happen quite “in your time” – just 99 years later. Pop the prosecco!