09 February 2010
There was a movie I snuck into which wasn't a movie but live theater in a mulitplex which starred Jane Birkin as a sort of healer whose entrance is anticipated by a group of actors in a seating area facing the audience's seating area. Rufus Sewell was heavily made up. Jane asked for a sandbag to be placed on her shoulders so that she could lean back, she was a seer and she had walked a long way to get to the seating area. I would be pleased if someone took the idea of staging live theater in a strip mall multiplex but I can't vouch for the economics of such a thing. I only saw the end of the play, and I was going to reenter but we left the cinema-house to get a soda and then my companion changed money in the street, making change in the same currency, a game in which the person who can't make change for the smaller coins is stuck with the difference but no one was getting ripped off this time. This saves me from having to visit the cinema-house, as I am disinclined to see the 3D or the other stuff. I have long been reconciled to the fact that environmentalism has to be banalized, shoved down the entertainment public's throat, but of course there's the risk that the fad will go away when the collective consciousness can't take it and James Cameron's marketing strategy any more and there will be little change in public policy to show for it. You have Obama rolling in to Copenhagen after warmongering to the Nobel committee and saying he couldn't concentrate on the ozone layer because the South Americans are making too much noise, and Brazil doesn't think they have to deal with the rainforest because blaming everything on the US is more popular, and now the public in Massachusetts have spoken and corporate lawyers with three houses are men of the people if they drive a large pickup truck, which is only fair because the VP is a corporate lawyer with an adult life conditioned by lobbyists who drives a large pickup truck, that's what works in the NE rust belt, I'm of course not blogging about politics and the cinema on my poetry blog. I never look at the New Yorker poems but I did last night, Dorothea Lasky and Aimé Césaire together at last which I found amusing with weather-related titles. I have realized that I like reading Dottie's poems on the page somewhat quickly, turning to the next transcribed moment rather than reviewing one repeatedly in one sitting. Lasky's poem is more emotional and quickly written than the John Ashbery and Josephine Jacobsen that would be there when I was getting drunk at someone's house who got the New Yorker, which is when I was going through my 'craft v. post-projective non-craft' dilemma phase. Her lyric emotion comes off as much more authentic than Bly channeling Trakl, and you get dream imagery mixed with theological speculation, the latter being something Ashbery and the Gang would consider a slippery slope, perhaps they're trying to raise circulation. A taste for organizing form around emotions comes back when you banish confessionalism from your thoughts and then semiotics, and then get all old school Sartrean, leapfrogging structuralism. OK, I'm putting off Muldoon's translation of Césaire, what do you expect me to say, just imagine I'm saying what you expect me to say, I'm a broken record. Jerome Rothenberg put new translations of Césaire (Eshelman/Arnold) on his blog the day the quake hit Port-au-Prince, and I was going to blog about them but people were dying, more people were getting their lights turned out by the hour while the diplomats where jockeying for power at the airport than by Trujillo's rifles, but I digress from matters of poesy, Joris did a well-deserved number on Muldoon's translation, which is actually quite pretty even if it bears no remote resemblence to the poem being translated, banishing the political theme like the machine guns banish Lavalas, you can make Césaire sentimental but you can't make him garbage. I'm not going to take any lines out of context in the Eshelman/Arnold translations in which the mere appearance of the poems are a major event and the translations are the result of many years of inspired care. One aspect of them that presented difficulty enjoying the poems on the 13th of January is how in that day's global news cycle shorthand, "Europe" provided a corrective to "nature," constituting a thematic reversal to Césaire's iconography from Martinique in 1948, which is why altering the context of "What then of words? Grinding them together to summon up the void/ as night insects grind their crazed wing cases?/ Caught caught caught unequivocally caught /caught caught caught /head over heels into the abyss /for no good reason" from political alienation to natural occurence, tailor-made for the occasion, is inherently deceptive. Muldoon's translations are the Creole Magic floor show at the hotel restaurant, whilst in Eshelman and Arnold's translations, you're dinner.