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Wednesday, 12 May 2010



File:Water Babies(Restored, Alternate crop  2).jpg

"Oh, don't hurt me! cried Tom. I only want to look at you; you are so handsome": Jessie Willcox Smith, in Charles Kingsley: The Water Babies, 1916 (Library of Congress)

There are a great many things in the world which you never heard of; and a great many more which nobody ever heard of; the picture of happiness which you harbor is steeped through and through in the time which the course of your own existence has conferred on you; this could equally be a picture of unhappiness, and it is possible you would never know it.

Deep beneath the sea a puppet in Turkish attire, water-pipe in mouth, sits before a chessboard, which rests on a broad table upon the sea-floor. Through a system of submarine mirrors, the illusion is created that this table is transparent from all sides. In truth, a hunchbacked dwarf who is a master chess-player sits under the table, controlling the hands of the puppet with slippery strings. All you will ever know of this must be read from the shape and size of the bubbles which rise toward the surface, shimmering in a lucent green dimension in which the course of your existence is steeped.

An underwater shot looking up at a palm tree and clouds distorted by the ripples on the surface: photo by Bryan Calloway, 4 November 2010




Oh good, you've put this back up! I saw it "1 minute" after you posted it (according to blog note) and was setting about to write short "comment" when it was suddenly disappeared --- such a lovely little first paragraph (w/ resonance to today's poem, I think), "submarine mirrors" in what (now) follows takes everything a bit further (those bubbles rising up through "lucent green dimension" . . . .


grey light coming into sky above blackness
of ridge, silver of planet next to branch
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

after sending an ink sketch,
another repetition of

“presence” of present being,
between the new, i.e.

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
whiteness of tern circling toward ridge

Sandra (if) said...


TC said...

A spill of green ink in a silver sliver of sunlight... might be what this "sketch" is.

Robb said...

This hits me right in my Buddha gut, where I like it. Makes me feel warm and safe somehow.

TC said...

My new picture of happiness: a warm, safe Buddha robo-gut.

(Then again, it could equally be a picture of unhappiness, and no one would ever know it, and possibly that wouldn't even matter.)

phaneronoemikon said...

This is amazing Tom. Still has me reeling. I have always been susceptible to these literary conspiracies. Isn't there a puppet thematics in Plato? And Chess

ah, carbon, hydrogen, carbon, hydrogen, Is Es..

We must never chatter wrong, a dance of war must always begin in the hands


the tapestry is fraying, frayed.

Bee knot afraid.

not be undone by bubbles
in the see

syntaxis an aisle
with many shelves.

TC said...


Funny you should say that. Puppet + d-war-f, I mean. The tele-gnosis is top-shelf, as is said in hockey... years having been expended (probably the verb more properly would be wasted) here, on a sort of pseudo Arthurian chronicle about a hillbilly savant whose every thought and act are controlled by puppet dwarves. Very annoying for him and not such a great work either, after all that trouble (Doofus Voodoo, aka The Spell), but your words remind me once again that it was true all along.

Up mindcontrolled chessplaying hillbilly savants everywhere!

At the sea floor maybe even.

Robb said...

The fact that it could equally be a picture of unhappiness is exactly why it hits me in such a way. Both. Neither. It just is.

phaneronoemikon said...

Well, and this is why Pound is so problematic, he takes conspiracy so literally, and finds a literal object,
or is it a ruse all along.

If naming, and group affiliations themselves are ruses..

then Jew is just as likely to mean jaw, and then the message becomes

all assemblage is both a war and a congress.

hear that subtle eros in conspiracy



asp- pyre

the paradox of syntaxis
is that extropy and entropy
here in this place
often wear each other's masks

where one system seems to lead
to the other depending
on perception

in other words what is democracy actually, what was communism?


is as much the problem of usury
as it is

use your ray

as if each body
each human body
were a sort of photon
involved in myriad

mechanical de/assemblagings


the song of carbon
like the blood
of the gods

this making
like a loom
of fate

TC said...

Seguro. Is what it is.

Actually there is this sense here that happiness was a passing acquaintance whose features are now only vaguely recalled and with whom further consorting is ruled out due to one's age group. Not to say over-rated just out of reach.

Still pleasant to wave from the shore every now and then though, as it goes by, ever more distant, dwindling, a blur on the horizon, a splot.

Cheers then!

TC said...


Maybe it's the echo in "ichor" but with your words drifts in a memory of an explanation of biological fate developed by a high school teacher I once had, who passed off on us unsuspecting urban endarkened ones a theory that birds, like this bald eagle, urinate through their nictitating membranes.

The idea was that God (fate) had deliberately fiddled the strings that separated these "lower" creatures from us, and made them pee through their eyeballs as a mark of their fallenness.

When I came soon thereafter to learn however that this was malign propagandistic nonsense, and that the human plica undularis (if that's what it's name is, that little vestigial eye-fold or eye-flap), is in fact an evolutionary development of the nictitating membrane, and that this is not an advance in any way, and that in any case birds do not pee through their eyes nor weep through them either for that matter, the entirely hogwash nature of that brand of scholastic education came clear.

Still later when my own lacrimal punctum collapsed I realized that the whole evolutionary story is nothing but tears in the rain anyway.

TC said...

Well okay, of course, the name for that little gizmo in Gray's is plica semilunaris. (Return after return of the repressed... the hour grows late.)

phaneronoemikon said...

Well, Tom, you see, I even have a problem with using the word 'God" any more because it reiterates the

term as terminus problem
which i enjoy supporting anti-thetically (hehe)

God = Generative Oddity
or Generally Audacious

Oh Goody!

or even (with a nod to our hillbilly)

Oh Shit!

as in

Good old dump.


light (c) as rap.
its par for the course.

[see ours]
"crooked roads."

and my card?


TC said...

Speaking of intrepid biologists was it Céline who said man on latrine is made in God's image?

phaneronoemikon said...

si! line...

leaning on the lion its easy to say
that energy is nil
but in the nile
the alligator
or makara

it bites!

pinching the loaf





its comes out
it comes out

the forth dimension!


as a snake
issa litter-ally





gamefaced said...

very much like.

TC said...

Thanks friends. Would say I am humbled by the kindness, but I was that already. (Another long night on the sea floor.)



more thanks for this -- "steeped through and through in the time which the course of your own existence has conferred on you. . . ." and now, as another day rolls in, another instance --


grey light in sky above still black ridge,
faint silver of planet above pine branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

structure more than can be,
whose actual relation

period exclusive, different
earlier period, point

cloudless blue sky reflected in channel,
cormorants flapping across toward point

TC said...


Yes, these extending meditations on time have now segued into the three "Night Train" posts ("different/earlier period[s]"), above this -- Nabokov, Proust, Céline.

aditya said...

This is such a beautiful post. Liked it thoroughly.

I stumbled on to a certain Bosques De Mi Mente months back. If not on paper the guy is an absolute poet on piano.

He has stayed anonymous on the web. Sells his music for free. Sells would not be the right word considering that it drastically undermines the efforts of this guy.
Not for money, not for fame.

To talk of humility. Maybe.

"There are a great many things in the world which you never heard of; and a great many more which nobody ever heard of"

These last few days the clouds have been wonderful in this part of the world.

Just thought I would drop in and let you know, Tom. For it had been a long time. And time, was not in the best of the frequencies in this part of the world, if that is how i can describe it.

Pleasure reading this one.


TC said...


That is beautiful, reflective, shimmering music to fill an absence...

Zephirine said...

Apparently, for perfume-makers the scent of violets presents a particular challenge, because in real life it's a fleeting perfume which humans are unable to keep smelling for very even if you make a perfect chemical facsimile of the scent of violets, it won't be the scent of violets because it won't be impermanent. This might be a metaphor for happiness, or not.

This is a lovely piece, the image in the second section is superb.

TC said...

Yes, Zeph, the ephemeral quality of the fragrance of plants -- perhaps the word "ineffable" has a usefulness after all.

It is this quality that was the subject of Hudson's lovely essay about the Evening Primrose, which treats scent somewhat the way taste is treated by Proust.

"A lost sensation affects us in some such way as the accidental discovery of a store of gold, hidden away by ourselves in some past period of our life and forgotten; or as it would affect us to be met face to face by some dear friend, long absent and supposed to be dead."

(I wonder by the way if you ever had a look at the Tom Tykwer film Perfume? It was pretty universally regarded as ridiculous, and with cause, certainly; still, the premise provoked a bit of thought, as does anything vaguely creepy... like say rat's tails?)

TC said...

At the risk of getting further and further from happiness here... if the Tykwer film about the compulsions of scent was a laugher, in that sense it wasn't a patch on this.

Radish King said...

Humming and humming now. Benjamin Britten's The Little Sweep.

O why do you weep?

Underwater music.

TC said...

That's celestially beautiful.

The chimneysweep weeps because he does not sleep.

Perfect water baby music.

Bryan Calloway said...

I google searched myself and found this picture that I took a long time ago. Glad to see someone appreciates it.

TC said...

That's a marvelous photo, Bryan. Many thanks for it!