Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Men of Anger and Light

"Vivid," wrote Borges, "is the contrast in styles" between Cervantes' Don Quixote and Menard's (which are of course identical in their letter). I think I have found a contemporary example of this contrast in styles between identical expressions written at different times.

In 1946, Henry Miller published a pamphlet called Patchen, Man of Anger and Light. In 2006, I might write pamphlet called Tost, Man of Anger and Light. Here, too, the stylistic differences are vivid.

A less perfect example can be constructed by asking whether Kenneth Patchen or Ben Lerner wrote "Perhaps It Is Time":

Does anyone think it's easy
To be a creature in this world?
To ask for reasons
When all reasons serve only
To make the darkness darker,
And to break the heart?
-- Not only of a man,
But of all breathing things?
Perhaps, friends, it is time
To take a stand
Against all this senseless hurt.

Angle of Yaw arrived the other day. These are good days for my grammar. Vivid.


Andrew Shields said...

"Perhaps It Is Time" doesn't sound like Lerner.

I assume that you have by now (it is December 2012) read Lerner's novel. In fact, I recall you writing about it even?

But you must read Mark Wallace's "The Quarry and the Lot."

Thomas said...

Like I say, it's an imperfect example. I landed "Perhaps" somewhere between this Lichtenberg Figure:

Possessing a weapon has made me bashful.
Tears appreciate in this economy of pleasure.
The ether of data engulfs the capitol.
Possessing a weapon has made me forgetful.
My oboe tars her cenotaph.
The surface is in process.
Corsucant skinks emerge in force.
The moon spits on a copse of spruce.
Plausible opposites stir in the brush.
Jupiter spins in its ruts.
The wind extends its every courtesy.
I have never been here.
You have never seen me.

And this one:

I’m going to kill the president.
I promise. I surrender. I’m sorry.
I’m gay. I’m pregnant. I’m dying.
I’m not your father. You’re fired.
Fire. I forgot your birthday.
You will have to lose the leg.
She was asking for it.
It ran right under the car.
It looked like a gun. It’s contagious.
She’s with God now.
Help me. I don’t have a problem.
I’ve swallowed a bottle of aspirin.
I’m a doctor. I’m leaving you.
I love you. Fuck you. I’ll change.

Yes, I've read Leaving the Atocha Station. Loved it.