Notes on poetry and language: flying farther
by Jon Rappoport
September 4, 2016
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Power Outside The Matrix, click here.)
“A literal mind wants literal reality. It wants language laid down like a perfect grid over the world as it is. If you give a literal human something else, he suddenly pulls up his horse, jumps off, and runs back in the direction he came from. He’s stage-struck, tongue-tied, and not happy at all about his little jaunt in the high country.”
“People say they want to experience what is outside the reality machine, but when you give it to them they object. ‘That’s not what I meant.’ They actually want something that looks and sounds and feels like ordinary reality, but contains an idea or two that seems interesting. They want the method and the system of ordinary reality with a few odd tidbits thrown in. If you move to another arena of harmonics and dissonance, where the interstitial connections radically change, they balk. They wanted to go in orbit around the Earth, all the time looking down on it, and you took them to the next galaxy over.”
“Logic isn’t poetry, and poetry isn’t logic, although each could contain elements of the other.”
“Poetry doesn’t need a story line. It can consist of a series of fragments or episodes. Eliot’s The Wasteland is a primary modern example. But critics don’t want to think about an extension of that approach. It’s too adventurous.”
“Making the usual kind of sense isn’t the job of poetry. If you float as you read one line and then fall off a cliff on the next one, so what? If you have to make a great leap to get from one line to the next, why not?”
“Poetry SUGGESTS. It gives you image wrapped in sound and sound wrapped in language on the page. It isn’t a recipe for a cake. It might be a recipe for seven different kinds of soup at once, and the bowls are all falling off the table. And as you’re reading the lines and claiming you don’t understand them, they’re bleeding into you and you’re launched into a dream, or the dream you were already in before you read the poem splits apart and you walk through the far wall of it and come out the other side into a future city. That could happen, too. To which some people say, “I don’t want that.” Why not? Why don’t you want it? Why don’t you want something that takes you out of your life, out of your state of mind? The idea of ending up in an unknown place where impossible things are right in front of you ought to be desirable.”
“A poem can crack familiar reality right down the middle and then rearrange it. Or not. It can leave that crack right there.”
“When the lines of a poem connect to one another in mysterious non-discursive ways, obviously no language is going to be able to lay out what those connections are.”
Here is a poem that is a series of fragments, which doesn’t mean they’re entirely unconnected. They aren’t connected in usual ways. That ought to be a relief. A relief from how ordinary reality fits together:
On the Antediluvian Shores of a Breastfed Paradise
Towers pierce the sky,
Unknown millions on the move,
Maroon faces in churches.
…hidden columns of air
Words are torn to pieces
By lions on plazas of sandstone
Driving across the river to a Massachusetts town where textile factories are rotting in the sun, I watch old women putting the wash up on clotheslines
The Army pushed Buck out to pasture after
the war he was a mess bad dreams
where’s the pasture, Buck said
well kid, it’s out in West Virginia
there’s another one in Iowa
the nurses carry Glocks
“I don’t negotiate with terrorists
but who knows maybe we can work something out”
“I could have been a prince of one-liners in a soft city of television”
(shining ancestors of Hart Crane and Gregory Corso
looked forward to luminous planets
down and listening
with shell-like ears to horses of the Foam)
I have no arduous duty in the
the library at Alexandria
to saturate cities with poets who were once lost
the amino acid architecture of eternity
I left the city on a train out of Grand Central Station.
The train never stopped.
It started burning.
The fire spread.
We were out in the country, and the whole train was burning.
We were drinking and singing
Finally, the train ran into a lake.
We jumped off and stood there and watched it spew cakes of fire into the water.
of fantastic dream
on its way to a factory
on the antediluvian shores of a breastfed paradise
by his window the patient
reads an old newspaper
a newsboy on a bicycle
smells apple trees in the dusk
and peddles over wet leaves
Jones Beach in the summer
the wind swallows up voices
a face stares from a blanket
eight levels below the sidewalk
a forklift wheels gold bars
from the NY Federal Reserve to the Chase Morgan vault
you next to me
the first song, always the first
Child of beauty, child of worry,
this world was made for you
but we pass
across all those bridges of nostalgia
and are new
“You can listen to a piece of music and encounter notes and chords which, though very specific (how could they be otherwise?), are unfamiliar. They don’t correspond to harmonies with which you ‘agree.’ You have no easy reference with which to compare the notes and chords. What do you do? What do you conclude? And more importantly, why do you ‘disagree’ with the notes and chords? Is it simply because you’ve been educated or somehow trained, as a child, to accept some chords and reject others? I don’t think so. I don’t think so at all.”
“There is something about human beings, in the physical sense, which ‘prepares’ them for a certain part of the sound spectrum. This part is easily accepted. Other parts are rejected. But on another level, which isn’t entirely physical, it’s possible to listen to combinations that are ‘objectionable’ and develop an appreciation for them. Thus, a pattern is broken.”
“When I was young, there were foods I couldn’t eat. Chinese hot and sour soup, for example. Or sauerkraut. But later, with a little work, I began to understand them and their echoes, as it were.”
“Look at the paintings of Soutine. Everything is out of balance. Trees and houses are bending and falling over. These paintings are ‘outside the pattern.’ But you can step beyond the normal ideas of harmony and symmetry and balance. You can enter his world and find something there.”
“If you stop objecting to Stravinsky, if you put aside your reflex- reaction to the Rite of Spring, you can find something there. You can become caught up in the storm. You can embrace the multiple dissonances. It’s possible.”
“At one time, the gorgeous café scenes of Renoir and the breakfast rooms of Bonnard were looked at as inexcusably primitive. Now, they’re hearth and home and sumptuously sensuous.”
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.