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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Stephen Crane: "There was a man who lived a life of fire"

File:Lava Lake Nyiragongo 2.jpg

Lava Lake of the Nyiragongo Volcano in Virunga National Park in Eastern DRC: photo by Cai Tjeenk Willink, 7 May 2011

There was a man who lived a life of fire.
Even upon the fabric of time,
Where purple becomes orange
And orange purple,
This life glowed,
A dire red stain, indelible;
Yet when he was dead,
He saw that he had not lived.

Stephen Crane: There was a man who lived a life of fire from The Black Riders and Other Lines, 1895

File:Supernova Remnant SN 1006.jpg

Composite image of the SN 1006 supernova remnant, located about 7000 light years from Earth. Shown here are X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical data from the University of Michigan's 0.9 meter Curtis Schmidt telescope at the NSF's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO; yellow) and the Digitized Sky Survey (orange and light blue), plus radio data from the NRAO's Very Large Array and Green Bank Telescope (VLA/GBT; red). This combined study of the Chandra, CTIO and VLA/GBT observations shows new evidence for the acceleration of charged particles to high energies in supernova shockwaves. A twisting ribbon of light seen by Hubble reveals where the expanding blast wave is sweeping into very tenuous surrounding gas: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G.Cassam-Chenaï, J.Hughes et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/GBT/VLA/Dyer, Maddalena & Cornwell; Optical: Middlebury College/F.Winkler, NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO Schmidt & DSS, 1 August 2009


TC said...

Stephen Crane: "A man saw a ball of gold..."

Stephen Crane: "In the desert..."

Stephen Crane: "I saw a man pursuing the horizon..."

gamefaced said...

the word 'even' is so much in this. even more than fire.



There go we, "Even upon the fabric of time"


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
plane of ridge, jay calling from branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

portion of surface, form of
question according to

by means of, “extension” of
this, given this idea

grey white fog against invisible ridge,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...


For sure. And what if it's it's not only "even" but "especially", and the fabric is understood to be a fine, subtle, fragile mesh, through which one could slip at any moment, may in fact now be slipping or perish the thought already have slipped??

(Heard a BBC interview with a high wire walker who comes from a family of high wire walkers, several generations, he had seen family members make that one fatal slip, and yet, and yet -- he still does it. Right there at the brink every time.)

TC said...


Crow calling from branch in foreground, crow calling back, traffic getting continuous yet not quite drowning them out.

gamefaced said...

i like to read even as, level. life on a level line in time. spots of pure exist but won't stand a part where colors blend.

Wooden Boy said...

Following on from your reading, G, the Captains of Industry need time levelled out, measured at the mean, when in pursuit of Capital. Only turning over the accounts at the last reveals a life dry with a terrible uniformity.

TC said...

I had been reading "Even upon the fabric of time... This life glowed," as if "fabric meant "margin" or "edge", which obviously it doesn't. But now you change the angle around for me, g, I see that to stand level and steady and look straight into the shifting thin-ice chromatics of the time fabric -- that would be the highwire walking.

But yet, and yet. This man also reminds a bit of Roy Batty in the Philip K Dick story. He has existed many times, known many worlds, seen ships on fire at the Tannhauser Gate, battles off the shoulder of Orion & c. & c. And yet, the encoded program is running out for him, and now it is time to die, though in fact he has never really lived.

Being a replicant.

Fashioned light years away in some workshop orbiting the space junk channels at the other end of the supernova.

A superfine replicant that could fall off the wire above the lake of lava many times, but not die until his programmed time.

Never having really lived.

TC said...

Well, it was sea-beams glittering off the Tannhauser Gates, I now see.

(The author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? lived up the Avenue here and saw the Tannhauser Gates through a cracked prism, pure manic speed invention, maybe that's what it takes to totter on the fabric of time without falling through... until you do fall through.)

Final Farewell

TC said...


I hadn't seen that.

Of course that reading would turn the phantasmagoria from paint box into kaleidoscopic capitalist nightmare.

That would fit the view from Crane's early New York City newspaper sketches.

(Of course with a writer who dies of t.b. at 28, everything is both early and late and each factoid seems retrospectively saturated with that sense of never having lived, in that proleptic way made easy by hindsight -- though indeed Crane lived quite a bit in his own short span.)

E.g. this "Study in Luxury" from the New York Press, 29 April 1894:

"Are there, After All, Burrs Under Each Fine Cloak and Benefits in All Beggars' Garb?"

"'If you accept this invitation you will have an opportunity to make another social study,' said the old friend.

"The youth laughed. 'If they caught me making a study of them they'd attempt a murder. I would be pursued down Fifth Avenue by the entire family.'

"'Well,' persisted the old friend who could only see one thing at a time, 'it would be very interesting. I have been told all my life that millionaires have no fun, and I know that the poor are always assured that the millionaire is a very unhappy person. They are informed that miseries swarm around all wealth, that all crowned heads are heavy with care, and --'

"'But still -- ' began the youth.

"(unfinished entry)"

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The fabric she wore
had some holes
left by worms
or their eggs.
This was pointed out
by her students.
Puka, they said.
It was her favorite
dress, bright colors
to slip off
easy to mend
like skin
the planet
thin plastic
fire cooled

TC said...

Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is a classic early account of the realities of life among the urban poor in New York.

Prostitution, destitution, sexual and gang violence in the Bowery slums provide the subject matter. There are reminiscences of Mayhew. Crane was only 21 when he wrote it, but the prose has the substantive quality of experience.

This poem was writ two years after that book.

An enigma wrapped inside a mystery hid within a scrawny young fellow with a strange feverish light in his eye, a large walrus moustache and a persistent hacking cough.

(Bad program for replicant manufacture.)

TC said...

At two o'clock in the morning I met a dignified older man wearing a necklace made of abalone money. He said it was 100 years old.

That shimmering fire-like lizard-skin Puka dress sounds like the fashion equivalent of a lava lamp left on in the window of the Tiki Supernova, a hundred million light years away.

gamefaced said...

absurd solipsism solves my every existential nightmare. capital is but a tragedy prop to look living.