Is the small the image of the large? Is time the image of eternity? Or are we talking about separate domains, here? I woke up this morning feeling like stretching. The rain yesterday had driven away, briefly, the pre-summer heat that was much remarked by the papers. I thought that this morning would be perfect. I thought my life was perfect. I would make coffee. We would have croissants and coffee. A. would write, Adam would sleep, and I would read Wallace Stevens’ Sunday Morning for its perfect first five lines:
Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
I should say that the last line, which operates as a showrunner for the poem, is not exactly perfectly matched to the complacencies of the peignoir, but then again, an image needs a jar, and we can’t live in complacencies for too long – the small extended becomes not the image of the perfect but the distortion of the perfect, an isolation from the real influxes of labor, time and others that made the peignoir, set the table, grew the coffee beans and oranges, built and named the calendar, and can be unfolded ad infinitum from the smallest social atomie.
Of course, the self, one could argue, the ultra contemporary self, is half papier maché, or half computer screen now that paper’s obsolete, and half sensuality. A tweet, a video, and then it is not simply gone, but its chance is wasted.
But isn’t that the whole American disease? The idea that life is ‘opportunity’. Opportunity, that old devil, which makes us tally up the small as a series of hits and misses. Opportunity costs – what a satanic phrase!
But at least it gets us out of bed.
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.