“She always says that americans can understand spaniards. That they are the only two western nations that can realise abstraction. That in americans it expresses itself by disembodiedness, in literature and machinery, in Spain by ritual so abstract that it does not connect itself with anything but ritual. …
Americans, so Gertrude Stein says, are like spaniards, they are abstract and cruel. They are not brutal they are cruel. They have no close contact with the earth such as most europeans have. Their materialism is not the materialism of existence, of possession, it is the materialism of action and abstraction. And so cubism is spanish.”
–from THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. TOKLAS by Gertrude Stein
“That is to say: what if, as some economists have already suggested, the true economic aim of the war was not primarily control of oil resources but the strengthening of the US dollar, the prevention of the dollar’s defeat against the euro, the prevention of the collapse of a dollar which is less and less ‘covered’ by ‘real’ value (think of the immense US debt)? Today, a united Europe is the main obstacle to the New World Order the USA wants to impose.”
–from IRAQ: THE BORROWED KETTLE by Slavoj Žižek
“History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.”
Tedium buzzes bottled-up
under the unperformed moment and cane.
A parallel passes through
an ungrateful line broken with joy.
Every firmness amazes me, next to that water
that moves away, that laughs steel, cane.
Retightened thread, thread, binomial thread,
where will you snap, knot of war?
Armour this equator, Moon.
–from TRILCE by Cesar Vallejo
“Do not forget that a poem, even though it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language game of giving information.”
–ZETTEL by Ludwig Wittgenstein
WHO WERE THE LORELEI
The question of whether what the sea brings to our feet is “artificial” or not. As in touched by the hand, as in hand-made. This tide of mussels.
We walk up the draw at a steady pace. If I say “words keep us warm” then you know I am lying, you pull your sweater tighter, your dog lunges at her leash.
At the apex it seems likewise appropriate to communicate, if not to one another, then to another. Technology vs. possession. Verso, hunger; verso, lack of paper-work translating badly into static, then silence.
There is never any cognizance in the repatriation. I give back and this seems like the most natural & appropriate gesture.
The idea that two figures cast three shadows is an old one, persuasive in some cultures. I point out the tunneling, over & over again: entrances & exits. Nothing is what it appears to be, I say. To which you reply, yes it is.
“‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’
‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’”
–from 1984 by George Orwell
BY THE BOOK
This is a pewter remembrance of a watchman. We were lost in a house together for many of your hours. I have done nothing for you that you could not do for yourself. My shoelaces bind me to walking, and I walk sometimes toward your favorite picture frame. You slid the photo out through the back.
None of this has any longer a bearing on my reality. You are awkwardly ambiguous about watering the plants. I watched you sideways roll an egg down the hall. You pay special attention to the view outside the fourth story window. Six stories up and doing windowsill math. This stair turns past the music room where I will make a note about forgiving you. An excellent piano player who never made a sound.
“The obvious problem is that the poem said in any other way is not the poem.”
–ARTIFICE OF ABSOPRTION by Charles Bernstein
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Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.