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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Aram Saroyan: Old People

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Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 24 July 2013

You see
................the electronic
...............................meshing
in the human being
................assume a
...............................scattershot
aspect, yet
................engaging
...............................the world
with an
................interest perhaps
...............................greater
for being
................random 
...............................alighting on
doorknobs
................that must
...............................be painted
seeing that
................the newspaper
...............................would be better off
red, it is
................old age
...............................the second
childhood
................in which the
...............................limbs are brittle
not doughy
................yet sing
...............................with their stiff
lineaments
................the random currents
...............................of each precious
moment passing
................into the larger
...............................mystery
and away


Aram Saroyan: Old People, from Open Field Suite, 1998




Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 31 October 2012



Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 7 July 2013


Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 17 September 2012


Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 14 August 2013


Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 24 August 2013



Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 24 August 2013


Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 13 September 2013


 
Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 14 August 2013
 

Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 6 April 2013



Untitled: photo by Joshua Perez (StrangeGoodness), 30 October 2013

7 comments:

erin said...

usually minimalist poetry tightens itself until it glares and then almost disappears but for its edge, however between this post/poem and "Aram Saroyan: T.C." the poems bloom, as do your lives, and not only retrospectively. they bloom here, now, today. but then i am only one of the kids talking. talking.

beautiful to know you (both) like this. beautiful and difficult. and therefore more beautiful.

curtis mayfield's determination to breathe and sing is staggering in the best of ways.

Sandra said...

most people and especially young ones today are "old" talking about someone else´s songs and experiences
is society making itself older? is young or old an attitude more than an external characteristic ?

TC said...

Do forgive the AARP typeface. Not of Aram's doing, but mine. I thought, special circumstances, honour of the occasion, just the once, and put away my magnifying glass. But not too far away, mind.

You see I am old. Aram is not old. The old cannot write about the old. All the old can do is talk about the old, and sing their songs, because they can't think of new ones of their own. Just look at that Bobby Dylan! Hey, where? Is that him over there? With the earhorn?

The Aram that writes this poem is a privileged yet safely distanced observer, in his mid fifties.

When in my mid fifties a gruff Dutch doctor informed me I was walking round with blood pressure over the moon, and I replied -- ?? -- he said, Ock! How old are you? and began fiddling impatiently with the charts. He was old. What, the age I am now? And what age is that?

Ock, I can't.

And he said impatiently (you know the old) -- 55! Ock! A baby!

Aram and I go back a ways. The oddest antediluvian unmeshed technologies once prevailed. You know, before Thomas Edison invented the electron, and all.

Aram Saroyan: T.C.

The poetry scene was a lot of fun in those days. Ha! he laughed, remembering the actual weather on the North Sea. It was pretty crazy. Aram's revolutionary prophetic electron consciousness poems were being performed at that very moment on the beach in Venice.

We used to go around saying, I am glad I am Ohm, I don't care Watt you say.

For we were the tiny-brained pin-headed gaping evangelists of the electron!

We used to go around saying whatever. Hey, we knew stuff. We knew ahead of time there's No Place like Ohm

But... back in the moment, the moment of the old. What's that? Groan, you inwardly say?

But back in the moment of our impending death...

On this tender subject those words you just said could well be your last, old man -- and no one will be able to understand them.

Certainly Copernicus, who invented the heavens, had to be suspecting this, going in, even before bothering to speak. He had to have known -- it was all basically hopeless. Ha! Poor old Copernicus!

Alabama Sacred Harp Singers: The Last Words of Copernicus

Then again, taking the thing tother way round, willynilly like, there's always this idea.

Curtis Mayfield: Back to Living Again (from New World Order, 1997)

Curtis, a great American artist like Aram Saroyan, started out singing gospel, at age 7, with the Northern Jubilee Singers in Chicago; he recorded that totally inspiring song about life not death while hanging, kid you not, in the air in the studio from a contraption rigged to permit him to breathe; a light fixture had fallen on him at a concert; he was paralyzed from the neck down, but he wanted to get back up and sing, somehow. And the record he made in that session, I wouldn't trade it for all the Bobby Dylan singalongs ever recorded in all the assisted living centres everywhere,

Curtis never recorded again, alas. One of the very greats.

(Aram by the way is still, no matter how much time goes by in the saying of this, not even old at all!)

Hazen said...

So glad that Copernicus gave us a heliocentric universe in which to grow old. "Each precious moment passing into the larger mystery . . .”—I can relate, as we used to say in ancient times.

Lally said...

"old age/the second/childhood" indeed...brilliant poem, brilliant post, brilliant comments...(among the Irish in Ireland, at least last time I was there, "brilliant" is thrown around like "cool" or "great" is here, but I mean it in all its connotations: brilliant)...

TC said...

Many thanks Hazen and Michael.

On behalf of eternity, while we're here, I ought to also thank Aram, Copernicus and The Alabama Sacred Harp Singers. The Last Words of Copernicus is an old folk poem written by Philip Doddridge in 1755 and set to music by Sarah Lancaster in 1869. The performance by the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers (see link above) was recorded by the great American musicologist Alan Lomax on 12 September 1959 at the annual United Sacred Harp Musical Association Singing Convention in Fyffe, Alabama. It has to be one of the most astonishing pieces of music ever recorded. The recording begins with a practice round where the singers sing the names of the notes ("Sol sol fa fa sol sol sol...") before going into the actual song with words. One of the singers sings a single note throughout. This must be the music of the spheres.

THE LAST WORDS OF COPERNICUS
Original Alabama Sacred Harp Singers version

Ye golden lamps of heaven farewell with all your feeble light
Farewell thou ever changing moon pale empress of the night
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
My soul which springs beyond thy sphere no more demands thy aid
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
My soul which springs beyond thy sphere no more demands thy aid

And while we're here, major props to Joshua Perez, one of America's great underappreciated photographers. May his time soon come.

TC said...

Before departing the divine subject of old, and what happens to you...

Common culltural reference having vanished down a rabbithole of Vlorp, I have to keep reminding myself no one's seen or read anything, and then reassuring myself, no, it's just you.

At any rate, adult advisory, anybody "our" age who doesn't remember this film had better not watch it, here, in its entirety, with its broad-strokes "meaning" clear beyond words.

You outlive your usefulness, your fellow villagers dump you off a cliff, alive, into a deep ravine of bones.

It's a parable that could equally fit the ethnology of dot com.

Ballad of Narayama

(The main character actor, in the role of Mrs Kinuyo, was actually persuaded by the perhaps somewhat barbarous director, Tanaka-san, to have her teeth pulled for the performance. I mean, that's some serious dedication to one's art, but just don't try it on Julianne Moore! She's already five years younger than her husband, the gap yawning wider by the nanosecond according to Schrödinger, and getting more neurotic by the year, ever since Safe! Our patron saint of privileged phobia! Don't throw me off that cliff yet baby!)