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.

2 comments:

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.
Understand?
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.