Stories and poems

"The metaphoric image of 'orphan lines' is a contrivance of the detached onlooker to whom the verbal art of continuous correspondences remains aesthetically alien. Orphan lines in poetry of pervasive parallels are a contradiction in terms, since whatever the status of a line, all its structure and functions are indissolubly interlaced with the near and distant verbal environment, and the task of linguistic analysis is to disclose the levels of this coaction. When seen from the inside of the parallelistic system, the supposed orphanhood, like any other componential status, turns into a network of multifarious compelling affinities.'
Roman JAKOBSON, "Grammatical Parallelism and its Russian Facet", Language, 42/2, 1966, pp. 399-429, p. 428-429

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Marriage of Philology and Mercury

I've been thinking about how writing often takes you in unexpected directions, and about the need to theorize a new kind of research skill, the one I most often use, based on intuition. Often my best ideas or most useful references come when I am browsing in the library or looking for some other book. Dreams are also a great source of ideas, or the ones that come to me in the bathtub or during a shower, true insights from the blank whiteness of ceramic and tile.

Since it was born in such a way, I have been thinking about the section of my dissertation that I am writing now as a kind of unexpected growth, like a new limb that has slowly emerged out of the original body of what I had planned to write. It is a somewhat strange formation, but I like it. It definitely belongs there. It's a history of philology through her personifications through the ages. She has become very real to me, especially because of the De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, a strange and marvelous work by the fifth century African writer Martianus Capella. I fell asleep while reading it the other day and dreamed of figures who turned around me, like planets in the sky, but with hair and faces, in long robes.


Yes, read the books I'm reading.
Strange tales of gods and stars,
turning cloudy planets like eyes,
yours, you'll see for yourself,
you'll like it. 

What's that name it mentioned?
A lost word, untracked and marked.
If you can find some meaning,
I can. Read it with me,
you'll like it.

The world is round, the universe an egg,
layers of air, imagined to cross;
we'll go there on clouds
led by horses with names like
Prudence, Destiny.

Hear it out, don't judge.
We'll go there together, you'll see.
We'll watch the gods sacrifice a goat, 
a sheep, a cow, all for the sake of
that slender girl.

I'm not sure who the "you" is in this poem, specifically. Often it is just there, in an open way. Feel free to feel included. In the meantime, I think I'm in love with the love of words.

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