vErIsImIlItUdE, Occasional Bulletin no.3
In the afterword to Parataxis Number 7, Spring 1995, the guest editor, J.H. Prynne, refers to the great aquarium of language:
Within the great aquarium of language the light refracts variously and can bounce by inclinations not previously observed. Some of the codes will unfold with merely adept connivance, others will swim vigorously into and by circulation inside their own medium. If you can imagine staff notation etched on the glass you can read off the scales, da carpo and mirror-folded.
The bouncing-bomb of language, like the storehouse of vectors I referred to last week, makes for disturbing reading and one is almost tempted to peer into the aquarium with the astonishment of Alice in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1872):
The shop seemed to be full of all manner of curious things—but the oddest part of it all was, that whenever she looked hard at any shelf, to make out exactly what it had on it, that particular shelf was always quite empty: though the others round it were crowded as full as they could hold. ‘Things flow about so here!’ she said at last in a plaintive tone, after she had spent a minute or so in vainly pursuing a large-bright thing, that looked sometimes like a doll and sometimes like a work-box, and was always in the shelf next above the one she was looking at.
I get a slightly similar feeling when reading this delightful and thought-provoking little chapbook of poems, or sequence of poem, by Moyra Tourlamain, published recently by Simon Smith’s home-grown press:
…I am feeling my way around the inside of a globe. All
the mountains and rift valleys and shorelines which might
offer a hand-hold are ridging up the outside, so I must splay
my hands and feet against the inner skin, or end up
crouching on the bottom.
Well, the buoyancy of language keeps us both afloat and trapped; its echoes of usage allow us to see the aquarium from the outside as
You place your left hand
hard against the glass.
From my side, I can see the palm,
crossed with its variable life-lines,
& your non-transferable
Of course we all experience things differently but language also is capable of convincing us of a commonality and a ‘snapshot’, ‘view from the kitchen window’, has hints of both Lorine Niedecker and W.C. Williams:
there’s nothing but a sheet of glass
between the warmth of the house
and distance written loud
absence driven home in fragments
That phrase ‘driven home’ is full of reverberations and not all of them are pertinent to the skilled workplace as opposed to domestic resolution. A lovely book, which is available from 58 Crescent Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9QY.
Ian Brinton, 22nd June 2015.