Seduction

“I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.” (Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text)

After a 17 mile bike ride down the Berke Gilman Trail to Open Books and back, I finally have Forrest Gander’s translations of Coral Bracho- Firefly Under the Tongue.  I had the good fortune to see Gander and Bracho read at the Dodge Poetry Festival earlier this year, and Chris Abani was kind enough to introduce me to Gander afterwards.  Surrounded by poets of much renown, Gander talked to me for a while and made me feel less lost.  I decided then that once I came out to Seattle I’d find his books at Open Books, and though it was a bit confusing (my own mistakes) eventually the right text ended up in my hands.  Both his work and his translations have my mind reeling a bit. 

Again, I find myself wishing to be proficient in a language besides English.  Bracho’s work in Spanish sounds lovely in my head, but my tongue won’t wrap around the letters quite right.  Gander’s translations are wonderful, but I ache to read and understand the original text.   Firefly Under the Tongue is an interesting counterpart to The Pleasure of the Text by Roland Barthes.  I’m beginning to lose boundaries between text, author, and reader.  Reading Bracho, I am torn between wanting to be subject and wanting to be subject-er. Composer. Writer. The written and the writer.  Or the text itself.  I feel voyeuristic when reading :

Sé de tu cuerpo: los arrecifes,

las desbandadas,

la luz inquieta y deseable (en tus muslos candentes la lluvia incita), 

de su oleaje:

Sé tus umbrales como dejarme al borde de esta holgada,

     murmurante,

mezquita tibia; como urdirme (tu olor suavísimo, oscuro) al

    calor de sus naves.

 

(Transl.)

I know of your body: the reefs,

the scattering birds,

the light sought and unsettled (on your candescent thighs incited by rain),

of your surge:

I know your thresholds as though they let me go to the edge of this roomy,

      murmurous,

tepid mosque; as though they wove me (your dark suave scent) into

      the heat of its naves.

 

(From En esta oscura mezquita tibia/In This Dark Tepid Mosque)

Voyeuristic, and yet I can’t turn away. Don’t want to turn away.  That this text is not about me, not by me, not including me: wounds. That this text intrigues me and pulls me: seduces.  It pushes me.

Then, of course, there is the gaze. To be gazed at, to gaze back.  Such a simple word, soft buzz sound. Not the glint of glance, but the steady vibration across skin of gaze.  I am used to gaze in art (the Frye has an exhibit up right now actually) but I hadn’t put much thought into it in text.  And yet, here I am gazing. And wanting the gaze. And naming it (voyeuristic) but finding surprise at the name.

I want to show you

 

Sun break

I’ve spent many hours in cars and I have to say, very few of them have been spent with people I dislike.  Travel is an amazing thing.  I wish that I had pictures of Big Bear, and the fields of yellow flowers along the roadside.  Or of the view of the lake from an empty dock, the wind as it picks up and cuts between coat buttons.  I can’t take pictures of wind, and I can’t capture the cold as it sneaks against skin, or the way the chill disappears after descending down the mountain.  These are things I only have memories of, and each time I think about it I adjust the story, I revise; the memory becomes less true than even a moment before.  Memory is continual revision.  I have pictures of here though, and here is where I am.

 

Near UW bookstore

more clouds

I just want to show you how beautiful it is.  I want to share it- it is too large for myself alone.

of language

Brambles at the mailbox

The mailbox sky minus the crows

At the end of an errands run, as I walked back to my aunt’s house, I saw quite the murder of crows above me.  More and more flew above, streaking the sky black and headed to a cardinal direction I ought to know but don’t. [I find myself easily lost, headed west when I should go north, finding the ocean at my back when I meant to dip into it. ]  At the tangle of brambles and berries on the triangle of land by the mailboxes a woman and a little boy peered both up and forward.  She was more captivated by the birds, he by the bushes.  I’m not sure if they were picking berries,  but that’s what it seemed like.  As I picked up the mail the woman said “They’ve been flying above for the past ten minutes, I don’t know where they’re going.”  Though she was probably talking to the little boy, I answered yes, they had been and that I’d been watching them for a while as I walked.  She smiled at me, but I felt like I’d interrupted.  As I walked away I heard the boy saying “Crow. Want me to tell you the Latin root?”

I find it frustrating that I don’t know more languages.  I have a smattering of French, a bit of Itallian, and I can fake my way through Spanish text, but I’m at a loss at truly understanding a language besides English.  Though I’ve felt the loss of language, it was most poignant when I read an article that my mother gave me for my birthday: The Vital Heat, The Inborn Pneuma and the Aether.  The article is bound with blue paper and has been cut out of whatever journal it came from, so the only citation I can give is that it is written by Friedrich Solmsen, from Cornell University, sometime after 1948.  In it, Solmsen quotes direct sources without translating.  “Πασης μεν ουν ψυχης…” and so forth.  Though of course even this is a mis-translation, ignoring accent marks that I’m sure change the entire meaning of words.  He uses phrases such as “clearly,” and “as shown by” without making much clear or shown.  The fault is not his, but my own.  

I want to know texts, and know them in their original form.  Translations can be beautiful, but something is lost.  Of course, one can argue that someting is gained as well, that the text becomes a collage instead of an ink drawing.  There are layers of translated text, translator, original author; text that is made of the cracks, crevices, platueas and mountains that occur when two languages are asked to combine and convey the same thing.  

In this way, the journal projects I work on are like translations of text.  Growing out of multiple locations, the texts ideally begin to weave together and create something that, alone, would be impossible.

An articulated space

Hazel's Flowers

Air Mail

I seem to be suspending a lot lately.  I can’t help but love the delicate threads suspending a bit of postcard within a larger postcard/watercolor.  I don’t know if they will survive the mail, but of course I’ll try.  The threads may be caught, the paper torn, the colors bleed… but what is the point of holding onto the spaces myself?