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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Indifferent Man (Things We Will Never Know)


It was the darkest of places, yet it was his favorite one. Nothing could stop him from going back to it day after day. Down, where fumes are so dense they make you dizzy. More dizzy every day
: textured photo by Marie Wintzer, 9 July 2011

It was the darkest of places, the mysterious laboratory
Of the indifferent man of old. He did not know how to be pleased that he was alive.
He did not know how to hate death. He was not happy to go out.
He was not happy to go back in. The fumes were beginning to affect him.
He started to beat the little dog with a razor strop. She intervened.
But it was no use. There was no hope for him. He went out.
Then he came back in. He did not want the thinking of his heart
To seep into the dark walls of the laboratory. The circus wagon
Loaded with the clumps of soil which had been boiled down into homunculi
Remained parked behind the laboratory. He went in. He came back out. Nothing
Could stop him from returning to the terrible work night after night. A phial
Produced a thin wisp of smoke that curled up in the shape of a pigtail
Before evaporating. He saw but refused to remember. His brow
Was clear, his face calm. Maybe it was a horsewhip. Maybe it was a violin bow.
He breathed in. He breathed out. She waited on the steps of the wagon.
Night fell. He held heaven and earth in his hand. The mother of all breath
Waited impassively for him to finish the great labor. While he worked he felt lost.
The night hours passed. The boat was stored in the ravine, the fishnet in the marsh.
The whole world was stored within the world. There was nowhere else to put it. The little dog
Swam the great river and escaped to freedom. The Dipper which guides the stars found him.

Those things we will never know: textured photo by Marie Wintzer, 9 July 2011


Marie W said...

Oh my. Is this for real? I can't believe how beautiful this poem is, Tom, what a present. I am reading it over and over again. He did not know how to... you have put words on something that was lacking words. This is just amazing, thank you. I will go to sleep now and tomorrow those words will still be here, talking, speaking, giving the gift of a story to those pictures. Thank you so much.

TC said...

Thank you, Marie, very happy you like it (of course)... and on all other counts (except ever going to sleep), likewise I'm sure!

The pleasure and the honour are mine are but the genius is all yours!!

Hazen said...

Tom, We will always know this as a smashing fine post. “The whole world was stored within the world. There was nowhere else to put it.” ¡Logico!

TC said...

Gracias, amigo.

That perhaps slightly pseudo-, but still, maybe almost borderline- logical statement can perhaps stand as The Indifferent Man's First Law of Physics.

De Villo Sloan said...

Tom, your daily meditations & explorations of word-image relations make "Beyond the Pale" a beacon for those of us working in visual poetry (aka vispo).

This Marie Wintzer/TC "collab" is a particular delight. Much current vispo relies on jarring juxtapositions of text and image. Nothing's wrong with that but..

Marie Wintzer's photographs reveal the rare eye she has for finding the roots of language in things, the poetic, the suggestions of narrative, harmony as opposed to fragmentation, and other elements. (This is evident in her more textual work too.)

For me, the poem (the TC part) reveals these things, builds upon them, and integrates them. The imagery there is fascinating along with the tonal quality choice. (Sorry for the abstraction here.)

I will return to this Wintzer/TC piece many times, knowing I will find more and more in it each time.

TC said...

Thank you kindly De Villo. Indeed you are a bit of a beacon yourself, in this intriguing realm. Though Marie is being extremely gracious about it, really the collaborative aspect of this production consists of my ransacking her archives, snipping out these two great images, and making up a narrative to form a bridge between them. Her contribution was to make and post the images, and stand still for the rest... and of course, the icing on the cake is her being so pleasant about it.

One find one's fun where one will...always guided (and of course inevitably also found out, in the end) by the Dipper.

In any case... as you know I've been whittling away at my own private and particular hobbyhorse form of vispo (or ekphrasis) for some time now. I do find that it's helpful to start as far away from oneself and one's own concerns as possible... because from that point on, those things are going to flood in and fill up the vessel anyway, like it or not. The whole world was stored within the world. There was nowhere else to put it.

Wooden Boy said...

The line that Hazen drew out - a quiet expAlison of mystery there. That finitude feels cloying.

Great photographs and a great poem.

TC said...

What have we got but finitude, to be stored in?

Many thanks, WB!

By the way, about the pictures -- Marie is more than a bit wizard in that dept., she is a poet (in several languages) among her many talents, and has subtle ways of fiddling with photography that turns it into poetry, presto, change-o, as the cut-price magicians used to say. "Textured" and "layered" photos are specialties with her... to me, this is a true magic, nothing cut-price about it, reaching into the dark vault and touching those floating scraps of infinitude... are they stars?

Artemesia said...

TC..Wonderful multi-layered poem! And a new tail for Canis Major. Lately I've been reading Plato's ideas, dialogues about who/what is in charge of us/worlds/earth...etc..'The Statesman' for one. Your indifferent man fits the bill for his compulsive workman lower case god with an Asperger Syndrome indifference to anything but his ever ongoing task at hand...

I prefer your Indifferent Man to 'The Blind Watchmaker,' as his world insde a world has more layers than an onion. Thank you for this one..a marvelous feat and creation of your imagination.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Hazen says it all here but I have to add two words: Perfect Alchemy.

Nin Andrews said...

Wow, this is so great!

Marie W said...

Oh, this is making me happy and is going to make me happy for days and months to go...
If I could express my gratitude....
thank you so much

TC said...

Many thanks, lovely people.

Though it may run against the grain a bit, I do believe I'll go with happy every time... as who can ever say how much time may remain to go with anything at all?

O saisons, ô châteaux,
Quelle âme est sans défaut ?

J'ai fait la magique étude
Du Bonheur, qu'aucun n'élude.

Salut à lui, chaque fois
Que chante le coq gaulois.

Ah! je n'aurais plus d'envie :
Il s'est chargé de ma vie.

Ce charme a pris âme et corps,
Et dispersé les efforts.

O saisons, ô châteaux,

L'heure de sa fuite, hélas !
sera l'heure du trépas

O saisons, ô châteaux !

Arthur Rimbaud: Alchimie du Verbe, de Une Saison en Enfer

Artemesia said...

Arthur Rimbaud: Alchimie du Verbe, de Une Saison en Enfer

" I had been damned by the rainbow. Happiness was my fatality, my remorse, my worm: my life would forever be too immense to be devoted to strength and beauty.

Happiness! Its tooth, sweet unto death, warned me at cockcrow – ad matutinam, at Christus venit, – in the darkest cities:

O seasons, O chateaux!
Where is the flawless soul?

The magic study I pursued,
Of happiness, none can elude.

A health to it, each time
The Gallic cock makes rhyme.

Ah! There’s nothing I desire,
It’s possessed my life entire.

That charm has taken heart and soul
Scattered all my efforts so.

O seasons, O chateaux!

The hour of its flight, alas!
Will be the hour I pass.

O seasons, O chateaux!

That’s all past. I know these days how to greet beauty."
Arthur Rimbaud