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Showing posts from November 15, 2020

Marginalia, a poem by Karen Chamisso

Like everybody else, I live among my marginalia. The orange peels, the leftover lentil stew, goes in the trash, I presume. I let the maid take care of it. There are drawers full of photos, although I Am a blur in them all, as though some thumb came down and pressed and turned viciously in the emulsion. There’s no end of it, until there’s the it, which must be tossed Into the furnace or the coffin And the marginalia is cleared away, testimonials all. I will let the undertakers take care of it. I presume they know how to do that kind of thing. -Karen Chamisso

Against Craft

  Tennyson, famously, was averse to the word "scissors". Something about the s-es. I don't know if Tennyson had a lisp. When I was a child of six or so, I did. Scissors would be a treachery. My own aversion is for the word "craft". How I hate to hear "craft" applied to writing! The "craft" of the story, poem, whatever. It repulses me, with its overtones of some genteel, antiquated hobby. Engineering, that would be alright, I suppose. Art, design, plumbing, all of that, which puts writing where it should be, in the world where people build, repair, create fixes, mob up, make spaghetti, help their kids with homework, and are alternately illuminated and tired. Craft comes from the early modern guild economy, the fierce nostalgia for which has fed the fascism and reaction of the 20th and 21st century. (Even though I should add that guild organizations, from doctors to profs, have endured to our day with more vigor than unions. Alas.) So where did

the stub principle: there has never been a Truth era

We are not living in a post-Truth era, for the simple reason that we have never, ever lived in a Truth era. We are living in the era of data availability. For instance, I don’t know whether it has quite been realized in the social sciences that when archives and libraries throw unimaginable masses of texts – books, newspapers magazines - on line, and subject them to the search engine, we have a very interesting means of catching the way histories have been written – and have overwritten troubling details. I’ve been working on a non-fiction/fiction story about the assassination of Dmitri Navachine, a minor figure, cut down in 1937 in Paris. And I’m seeing how from the get go the assassination was lied about, Navachine was lied about, specific parts of the whole scene were taled and re-taled like some chromosomal code gone awry, with mutations galore, and how this seeped into almost every historical account of the 30s in France written by historians, many of them Anglophones. Navachine i

what is this poem selling

  What is this poem selling? For the plausible, the uncle looking man On the You Tube channel is definitive: It is by selling that we die and live   All things we see above us And the terror in which we are dressed Is to sell something to someone And so on. I was impressed   By this cosmic vision. When God made the earth And it was good – it was to sell And even the devil is a pr man Marketing property in hell.   Well well well. Everything is sales,   And always be closing, you hear? This poem is selling an irony While I’m shedding a tear in my beer.   O O, I can’t argue with the uncle looking man But suspect selling everything’s a bad bad plan. - Karen Chamisso