• miriam atkin

On Hejinian and Scalapino's Hearing

This book is soon to be released by Litmus Press. It's is a follow-up to Sight, a 1999 poetic collaboration by Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino, published by Edge Books.

A disconcerting, as(:) rage of wind in that wind, as 'no emotion,' 'jumps' 'only' while trees fly; and trees flying (slowly in hurricanes at once—all of them) converse—that is their 'emotion'—flying with roots convulsed (they 'convulsed' is only past tense but trees are only present there) as each is 'bush aching green' herd they're in bliss (as 'aching green bushes' in sky that are at present flying, they haven't 'inner life' as if similar to no people, as Ponge knew, their terms, in time) that in each is a burst, a rapid fire in them in very long periods of time ('over' time) so these are not heard by us, while wind is—is being heard (by ships or ports) and is not 'emotional,' is fast outside, by itself

(LS) [Hearing]

The emotions could guide one to one's own goodness (via several slow movements fast beside communicating moments) —an interval, the music stops—it must have been, but only for a day. The sound struck me as strangely displaced, as if, having been intended for a ghetto blaster it was coming from a violin. There is no rage of wind melody from which one couldn't make a fine violin welcome to the hearing of one's goodness (bliss) stammering. The audible middle of one's end-of-life is known for the brevity of its echoes (stammering on the open sea through the speeding trees very little invective, no apples in the grass, no silenced (squashed) bees, no images of crimson brains, and no proof or dogma—they usually want to interfere with us and get us to believe something "for our own good").

(LH) [Hearing]

The trees appear as flying bushes because the directional arrow of the trunk points up to the image of gathering together that we more regularly see in the gathered leaves of a bush as when we’re walking to the car,[1] on the way to work, without surveying, studying or looking up. Walking to the car is time for inner life (as, for humans, all time is time for inner life, so we think) even if we’re just pondering whether the keys are in the bag or the pocket. But trees are unemotional and fast outside. Is it simply a question of not being aware of their own deaths? LH is afraid of death with intensified fear (which is love) and nature doesn’t care about us.

At this point, Hearing is propulsive, though punctuated by intervals and audible middles. The interval when the music stops is the silence of inner life looking, the sound of consideration. But it isn’t always exactly a rest because the consideration itself is carried by language. The engine of propulsion is words and the tool for attending to it is also words. I believe it is rather hard in the process of producing words on paper to catch oneself up and be carried away, though it must be to some degree possible. If experiencing and understanding do not relate in a call-and-response but a braided procession is there a chance we might quit needing God to call us back after leaving a message? Are all silences pregnant? Is death sound or silence? I was walking on the road below the cliffside watching the sparrows flitting around on long icicles dripping from the rocks above, icicles pointing down at a half-eaten deer sound asleep in the snow with wide black eyes and a frozen tongue.

[1] It is a very typical experience for me, that while reading, the physical context I am in folds into the physical moment of reading, where things in my world and things in the world of the book seem to describe one another and there’s all this synchronicity. A kind of hypnotic hyper-identification. Is this a failure to encounter the not-me?

#experimentalwriting #lesliescalapino #lynhejinian

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