Monday, August 18, 2014

Listening at the Monteleone vi

Under the seams runs the pain.

Panic jumped down on Geryon at three a.m. ..
He hugged his overcoat closer and tried to assemble
  in his mind Heidegger's argument about the use of moods
We would think ourselves continuous with the world if
  we did not have moods.
In a state of mind that discloses to us
(Heidegger claims) that we are beings who have been
  thrown into something else.

Something else than what?
Geryon leaned his hot forehead against the
  filthy windowpane and wept
'Something else than this hotel room'
he heard himself say and moments later he was
  charging along the hollow gutters
of Avenida Bolívar. Traffic was sparse.

     Everything Melville allowed Ishmael
     to say for putting out to sea recurs
     as our Customs House clerk showed it
     would, again these days outside St 
     Louis. I've been wondering now, why
     that great Tory poseur who cited
     Faulkner on the past not being past,
     heard to praise its vitality where
     it was born. I wonder if it isn't a
     bit of Tory disgust with the tenaci-
     ty of Tory legacy; but you never can
     tell, with Tory disgust. It's often

But I stray. As Cage was dismantling music at my college, a former Editor of the Pulitzers' St Louis Post-Dispatch, a Neiman Fellow and chronicler of Learned Hand, was teaching writing not to relive, but to relieve the past. We find inordinately little of this motive in the possessive individualist, and therefore not a constant fount of social remediation. Just more disgust. Of course disgust is nothing more than a capitulation to snobbery, with a little excuse of aromatics thrown in. As Orwell, himself, portrayed in Wigan Pier, the wedge is sensory, and there-fore natural. Punctilio is its imaging.

Revisiting the arresting, even the self-indicting precision with which Orwell describes "the seam" of class pain, I was placed four-square within the resounding walls of every diner, pit-stop, and unabandon-ed factory in the Pied-mont where I live; but also ensconced in pitter-patter at the Bemelman's Bar.

The most dreadful thing about people like the Brookers [hosts of the miners' rooming house] is the way they say the same things over and over again. It gives you the feeling that they are not real people at all, but a kind of ghost for ever rehear-sing the same futile rigmarole. In the end Mrs Brooker's self-pitying talk - always the same complaints, over and over, and always ending with the tremulous whine of 'It does seem 'ard, don't it now?' - revolted me even more than her habit of wiping her mouth with bits of newspaper. But it is no use saying that people like the Brookers are just disgusting and trying to put them out of mind. You cannot disregard them if you accept the civilisation that produced them.

Like you, I've turned for decades to the tracts of social science to account for the ostensibly American dilemma. I've watched Parties contending for the spoils of these fine disciplines, their think tanks paving their way all day with shimmering excuses. Where do I go to close the seam, if only by discovery?

Anne Carson
The Autobiography of Red
  A Novel in Verse
  xxxi: Tango [fragment]
op. cit.

William Ian Miller
Professor of Law
  University of Michigan
The Anatomy of Disgust
Harvard University Press, 1997©

George Orwell
The Road to Wigan Pier
Left Book Club
Victor Gollancz, 1937
Harcourt, 1958©

C.B. Macpherson
The Political Theory
  of Possessive Individualism
  Hobbes to Locke
Oxford University Press, 1962©

ii    Saul Leiter photography
iii   Cy Twombly photography
         John Cage at Black Mountain
v     W. Eugene Smith photography
         Tennessee Williams, diner, New York
vii   Robin Cracknell photography
          cf., Context, this page

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