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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Allen Upward: The Waterspout: Strength Turning Inside Out


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A waterspout appears close to the shoreline near Batemans Bay, Sydney

Waterspout close to the shoreline near Batemans Bay, 140 miles south of Sydney, 18 November 2012: photo by Reuters / NSWRFS / Phil Caminiti


The story of the waterspout, as it is told in books, shows it to be a brief-lived tree. A cloud is whirling downwards, and sucking out its whirlpoint toward the sea, like a sucking mouth. The sea below whirls upward, thrusting out its whirlpoint towards the cloud. The two ends meet, and the water swept up in the sea-whirl passes out into the cloud-whirl, and swirls up through it, as it were gain-saying it. . . .

In the ideal waterspout, not only does the water swirl upwards through the cloud-whirl, but the cloud swirls downwards through the sea-whirl. . . .

The ideal waterspout is not yet complete. The upper half must unfold like a fan, only it unfolds all around like a flower-cup; and it does not leave the cup empty, so that this flower is like a chrysanthemum. At the same time the lower half has unfolded in the same way, till there are two chrysanthemums back to back. . . .

It is strength turning inside out. Such is the true beat of strength, the first beat, from which all others part, the beat we feel in all things which come within our measure, in ourselves, and in our starry world. . . .
 

Allen Upward: from The New Word, written 1901, self-published 1908



Twister over the sea

Residents view huge waterspout close to the shoreline near Batemans Bay, 140 miles south of Sydney, 18 November 2012: photographer unknown, via the Sun


A giant waterspout is seen over Hongze Lake in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, 29 August 2012: photo by Yue Mingyou / Rex Features


Waterspout, seen from Clifton, Woolongong, New South Wales: photo by dirtymouse, 22 April 2007

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Waterspout off the Florida Keys:: photo by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1969

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Waterspouts in the Bahamas Islands: photo by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.d.
 
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Tornado waterspout near Cape Formentor, Mallorca: photo by Julian Kupfer, 2006



Waterspout off Singapore coast
: photo by Sgyjk, 25 September 2011

 

Twin waterspouts, Kakaaka Waterfront Park, Honolulu: photo by rubbah slippahs, 2 May 2011

 

Twin waterspouts, Kakaaka Waterfront Park, Honolulu  (last gasp, just before the spout on the left dissipated): photo by rubbah slippahs, 2 May 2011


Waterspout: photo by SICAL808, 2 May 2011

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Trombe marine a rion antirion (Grèce): photo by Bruno Arnaud, 15 December 2007
  
 

Tromba marina da Caia d'Oro, Solenzara (Corse): photo by azuk, 26 July 2010


Tra cielo e mare (Civitanova, Marche, Italy): photo by F. Fausta, 9 October 2011



Waterspouts seen from the air, approx. 1200 feet high, about 40nm north of Vanderlin Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory, Australia: photo by Tony (austr07), 1987; image 27 August 2009
 


Waterspouts over Bondi Beach, Sydney: photo by Dave Keeshan, 7 April 2007



Waterspout, Alanya, Antalya Province, Turkey: photo by rinselsbacher (Ralph Inselsbacher), 11 September 2002


Waterspout, Lennox Head, New South Wales: photo by erniesusie (Ian Tester), 15 July 2010

12 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

One of the people I work with has an obsession with all things liquid, with a particular fascination with his own saliva. Between his finger and thumb he slowly draws out a little tendon, holds the tiny glistening thread up to the light and looks through, enthralled.

These columns between sea and cloud put me in mind of this.

"a brief-lived tree": how time collapses in this phrase!

Hazen said...

Upward’s (how apt the name!) description of the physics of waterspouts is lovely. So, they come from sky and sea, and meet in the middle. Didn’t know that. How like lightening, an electrostatic discharge descending from clouds meeting a similar discharge rising from the earth.

VINCENT FARNSWORTH said...

yay

TC said...

The giant waterspout at Batemans Bay on Sunday last was witnessed by quite a few amazed surfers, among others.

Here's a witness who gets the event on video, despite being chased indoors. Someone calls to tell him about it and -- "Oh my God, I'm filming it right now".

"I thought it was headed straight over here..."

__

Allen Upward (b. 1863) was a lawyer (trained at the Royal University, later called University College, Dublin); a politician (while in Dublin he wrote a pamphlet defending Irish Home Rule, later worked for the British foreign office in Kenya as a judge); a teacher; a novelist (author of a half dozen now-forgotten novels); a mythographer (his 1913 The Divine Mystery, an anthropological study of Christian myth, was to be celebrated as a salient text in the arcanum by the American poet Robert Duncan); and a poet (two volumes of verse). Ezra Pound included Upward's poems in the first Imagist anthology, Des Imagistes (1914). For all this, Upward's work never became popular, and when in 1917 he offered his manuscripts to the British Museum, the offer was rejected. He had once suggested that The New Word ought to have qualified him as a candidate for The Nobel Prize. Things turned out otherwise. In 1926, when that prize was given to a vastly more popular writer, George Bernard Shaw, Upward reacted by fatally shooting himself.

Pound became a great champion of Upward's work early on, while in London before the War writing enthusiastic reviews of The New Word and The Divine Mystery ("two books... as interesting philosophically as anything that has been written in our time" --E. P., "Allen Upward Serious", 1914). The influence of Upward's ideas upon Pound at a time when Pound was developing his own ideas about image, word and sign was surely significant, but has not as yet been fully explored.

A statement like this of Pound's reflects the powerful impact of Upward's thought:

"We might come to believe that the thing that matters in art is a sort of energy, something more or less like electricity or radioactivity, a force transfusing, welding, and unifying. A force rather like water when it spurts up through very bright sand and sets it in swift motion. You may make what image you like."

-- Ezra Pound on emotion in poetry, from The Serious Artist (1913)

And in the early Cantos, this image of energy in action -- the waterspout -- becomes poetry:

The water whirls up the bright pale sand in the spring's mouth
"Behold the Tree of the Visages!"

-- Ezra Pound: from Canto IV (1919/1925)

Robb said...

Dear Tom,

"It is strength turning inside out. Such is the true beat of strength, the first beat, from which all others part, the beat we feel in all things which come within our measure, in ourselves, and in our starry world. . . ."

Wow.

Also, knowing I will appear juvenile for as long as blogger exists (and probably long after that), this was the most erotic water spout writing I have ever read.

Your friend,
Robb

TC said...



I believe we are now homing in on the concept here. Let us think of the bodily fluids that have been evoked by Wooden Boy and Robb. And now let us think of the Whirl-Swirl. Do we thus approach the magic crystal?

Despite his sad fate, perhaps Allen Upward's work did not go entirely in vain. It may well have led, for example, in America in the 1950s, to the invention of the Tastee-Freez soft-serve pump and freezer, which combined the principles of the waterspout and of swirly-whirly cholesterol /sugar overload into a memorable merchandising innovation.

Think of an enriched-cream waterspout ejaculated into outer space... and you will see in your mind's eye an image of the Tastee-Freez Rocket Race Game.

But in case anything remains unclear, let us permit Allen Upward to speak for himself, from beyond the grave.

TC said...

From The New Word:

The figure of strength turning inside out is now before us. It is strength shrinking into a point, and swelling into a ball, the inward beat changing into the outward beat, and the outward back into the inward, as force changes into energy, and energy into force...

We cannot think of strength going only one way, or shrinking in any measure without swelling in equal measure. We cannot think of strength going out into the dustbin of Andronicus Rhodius. Nor can we think of it shrinking into the point of Euclid, and staying there. As fast as it whirls inward it must swirl outward, and the whirl and swirl must compensate each other. So that the strength-ball ought rightly to be called a Whirl-Swirl.

Now the materialist is busy measuring the whirl, and as it seems to me his eyes are sometimes so far dazed by watching it as to be no longer able to mark the swirl. Again his speech betrays him, when he uses words like whirl and universe, as though he had nothing but a whirlpool before him. One materialist has likened the life of man to a whirlpool. Whereas what we have before us is more like a waterspout, and the spiral of life points upward instead of downward. Now the business of the Idealist is measuring the swirl.

This is the real parting of the ways. And the unreality of the other is shown by this, that when the Materialist does enter the field of literature, his work is apt to be unbearably informal, and his words unbearably bad; and his highest achievement is History; whereas when the Idealist enters the same field, his work is apt to take on the severe and crystal form of poetry; his words are apt to be the most careful words; and his highest achievement is the Creed. And all that is the turning inside out of strength.
It seems to me, therefore, that it is the word Swirl which we have been in search of all along, as the interpretation of the word Idealist. I still like it better than radio-activity. The swirl is the inversion of the whirl. It is a whirl going the other way. It is to whirl what Energy was to Force. It is a very common word. The children know it well. And yet...

The figure of strength turning inside out is now before us. It is strength shrinking into a point, and swelling into a ball, the inward beat changing into the outward beat, and the outward back into the inward, as force changes into energy, and energy into force...

So far the whirl-swirl is a mathematical figure. That is to say it is a word, like Euclid's triangle...

To be more than a word it must take shape...

From the language of Measure we rise to that of Matter; the Sign grows to a shape.

Let us begin from the real thing from which the likeness is to be withdrawn, namely the waterspout. How does a waterspout behave?

TC said...

[...And continuing on, now we come to what might be called the nitty-gritty of the whirly-swirly:]


The story of the waterspout, as it is told in books, shows it to be a brief-lived tree. A cloud is whirling downwards, and thrusting out its whirlpoint towards the sea, like a sucking mouth. The sea below whirls upward, thrusting out its whirlpoint towards the cloud. The two ends meet, and the water swept up in the sea-whirl passes on into the cloud-whirl, and swirls up through it, as it were gain-saying it. So in a tree the sap whirls upward from the roots into the trunk, and then again swirls upward into the boughs and leaves, meeting the air and light.

In the ideal waterspout, not only does the water swirl upward through the cloud-whirl, but the cloud swirls downward through the sea-whirl. To make their passage through each other easier for the trained mind to follow, let us change the water into air, and the cloud into ether.

The ideal waterspout is not yet complete. The upper half must unfold like a fan, only it unfolds all around like a flower-cup; and it does not leave the cup empty, so that this flower is like a chrysanthemum. At the same time the lower half has unfolded in the same way, till there are two chrysanthemums, back to back. In one the air is whirling inward, and the ether swirling outward; in the other it is the ether that whirls, and the air that swirls.

Now let us change the air into ether, and the ether into ethereon, and so on into more and more "perfect fluids," till we have pure strength whirling in on all sides, and swirling out again.

It is the pure Shape, reached by the same road by which the mathematician reaches his flats and lines. It is the grin without the cat. It is the ideal whirl-swirl.

It is strength turning inside out. Such is the true beat of strength, the first beat, the one from which all others part, the beat which we feel in all things that come within our measure, in ourselves, and in our starry world...

Yet this ideal is not yet an idol. The whirl-swirl is not truly formed into a ball. Every real ball we know of has an outline; but this one has no outline, except eternity. How shall we clothe it with a skin?

...The mathematical skin is Time. The whirl-swirl ebbs and flows between the turning-point within and the returning-point without, and the moment at which the swirl changes into the whirl is its outline.

To be real, the outline must be gained in battle. And since the battle must go on all round at once, it must be waged against another whirl-swirl, greater than the first one, and inclosing it. If the cloud had inclosed the water, or the ethereon the ether, the inner whirl-swirl would have been shaped into a ball.

If both the inner and the outer whirl-swirls are of pure strength, and both keep the same time, shrinking and swelling together, then one will not feel the other. Where there is no resistance there is no existence, and so the two whirl-swirls will be one. And that is the demonstration of the Nirvana of the Buddhists.

But both do not keep the same time, any more than the waves of the incoming tide all reach the same height upon the shore. The farthest wave, as it ebbs back, meets the next wave flowing forward; and so the outer strength, as it whirls inward from its longer period, meets the inner strength swirling outward, and resisting it. And that meeting is a real outline. The inner whirl-swirl is created.

Again, the pressure of the greater whirl-swirl rolls up the inner one into less room; and what is lost in space is gained in time. The beat of the inner Whirl-swirl is quickened, and quickness is hardness....Strength has foamed into stuff.

Consider this idea. Consider this inner strength, coming and going, turning and returning, millions of beats in every tick of secular time, while, throbbing through the network woven by their meeting, the over-strength comes and goes faster than flashes in a diamond.

It is no longer a mere word. It is a magic crystal...

TC said...

(Oh and by the way Robb, as I haven't been able to figure out a way, or place, to say this, on your always increasingly ahead-of-the-curve site -- that is definitely the most captivating homepage I have yet seen. A big many-hearted river.)

TC said...

(Okay, you've got so many home pages. I meant this one...)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

What a whirligig!

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

"Behold the Tree of the Visages!"

Happy Thanksgiving to you & A!

11.22

light coming into sky above black plane
of ridge, silver of planet below branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

but to be like this, second
portrait against wall

of somewhere a place filled,
in which it is, still

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
whiteness of birds against sunlit ridge