Monday, July 24, 2006

Reader's Digest

"I say so strange a dreaminess did there then reign all over the ship and all over the sea, only broken by the intermitting dull sound of the sword, that it seemed as if this were the Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates. There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely enough to admit of the crosswise interblending of other threads with its own. This warp seemed necessity; and here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads." (Moby Dick, 'The Mat-Maker')

Do you choose a book? The problem with book clubs, reading groups, course syllabuses, publisher's Book Of The Month. No, the book chooses you.

Take a book & sound it. Plumbing the depths while also being alert for surfaces. Making yourself available to its compulsions. If necessary to leave it alone to develop within you (its negatives) - or to develop you.

Reading to write. Reading to open. Opening yourself to what the text might transmit (Spicer). Being prepared to allow certain images, lines, words to open up beyond the confines of the text.

A paranoiac reading? An intoxicated reading? A cultivated de-regulation of the senses - common sense above all?

Narrative exposed as a lure, a distraction, cheap thrills. The reading that matters is vertical - vertiginal? - plunging without guarantee of limit, floor or reason.

The text traps energies. Reading as occult art, a conjuring, a summons.

Think Iain Sinclair. Think Clark Coolidge on H.P. Lovecraft. Think Coleridge. Think Philip K. Dick (aka Horselover Fat).

The equation: 'Out There' = 'In Here'. Universe is Mind.

Reading, opening, revealing, a re-membering of the dis(re)membered textual Body. Fragments of the text containing shivers of the Truth. The Word behind the word. The "cable" (cabal) of Scripture.

Moby Dick (the novel) as force field. Olson & Duncan Openers of the Field. Whale as prey? The hunter becomes the hunted. The reader becomes read. The whale is a prism (prison) of energies. The Impossible. The Unknowable. The whale is the Whole within which we hear the Hole. "For all these reasons, then, any way you may look at it, you must needs conclude that the great Leviathan is that one creature in the world which must remain unpainted to the last. True, one portrait may hit the mark much nearer than another, but none can hit it with any very considerable degree of exactness." ('Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales') No over-view, no encapsulating Idea, no all-encompassing theory.

Hunt the whale & you're sent off elsewhere. Shoals of red herrings. Re-read Homer. Re-read Coleridge. Who else? Each reading is a re-reading since when did you really begin - and how can you end? How can you quantify a book which itself opens into a dictionary & anthology of quotations?

Inside. Outside. You get in to get out. A Moby-us Trip indeed.

Just watching the footage on Belgian television of a helicopter circling overhead, troops deployed in the streets, festoons of barbed wire, ...