Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lyn Hejinian - The Book of a Thousand Eyes

One of the things Lyn Hejinian does well is to hang her work right at the line where the philosophical meets the daily. It’s an argument of sorts, with thesis and supporting examples. It’s where I like her work the most, as it slips, and where I find the most to go back to. Here are a few fairly random pages from her new book that illustrate what I’m fumbling at:

from The Book of a Thousand Eyes (pg 148-150)


I am not fatalistic
I recognize addition and in addition I recognize things as different from one moment to the next in no fixed sequence as a peanut from a plummet of the sun
I cannot help but go out


Sometimes dogs eat melon rinds and apple leaves but though I know this there has never until now in the dark been an occasion on which I could “happen” to say so unless I were willing to interject the information into conversation as a non sequitur and I’m not since that would contribute nothing to the general good. Talk among us, perhaps at L’s or K’s or perhaps here at home, no matter the degree of animation, no matter the force of our agreements or disagreements, is all intended for the general good. There was talk the other night about forests. B so strongly disagreed with A’s opinion that the adaptation of birds to blighted environments can be regarded as progress that I thought she was going to cry. Then M interjected that his friend T considered vinyl superior to CD’s, and R cracked, “Hurray for crackle.” That was an unpleasant moment, R’s tricks can sometimes be harmful, though I am never able to tell in retrospect whether R has been malicious or clumsy and I certainly never see things coming. Things in my particular experience don’t make ordinary approaches.


This comes after a feeling of vigorous apathy, the joy of being
immobilized, bound, an object
of striking surprise, an object of fact even
a creature observing illusions in the surf
and a group of persons eating peaches
in its reflections, torpid bodies
with active upcast minds, their random thoughts
vindicated by the inevitable meanings adhering
even to nonsense. Then comes the sad loosening
of the bonds, the attachments
having seemed so logical slip.


At 4/25/2012 9:36 AM, Blogger underbelly said...

For a Hejinian starter collection, is the Book of a Thousand Eyes a god bet?

At 4/25/2012 9:56 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

My Life still High Score to Beat.

At 4/25/2012 2:39 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I agree that My Life is the book we all have to deal with, but I'm nto sure if it's the book I would start with. I mean, it's the book I started with somewhere in the way-back machine, but I'm actually thinking one of the more relaxed recent books might be a more readerly introduction. I don't know. My Life is foundational. But still, I'd say start with something like The Fatalist, maybe. Or maybe the new one, or, I don't know. Sure, My Life.

At 4/25/2012 2:40 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

By the way, I really liked "a god bet."

At 4/25/2012 4:03 PM, Blogger David Grove said...

"a god bet": Pascal's wager?

& as a Jansenist, Pascal was a fatalist. "whatever's happened" was predetermined by god.

At 4/25/2012 6:27 PM, Blogger underbelly said...

Since we're talking good bets, Amazon has My Life for $99. I folded and went home with The Fatalist.

At 4/25/2012 6:30 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

That would have been for the first edition, long out of print. There was a reprint more recently that should be for ten bucks or so.

The reprint, though, might be of the revised (expanded) second edition which came out maybe in 88 or so. I'm forgetting now which it reprints.

At 4/26/2012 7:44 AM, Blogger underbelly said...

I figured there'd be a cheaper edition somewhere. But I've read quite a few exerpts from My Life ... it seems like the one to read at some point, but more of a project than I have the brain cells for at the moment.

At 4/26/2012 7:56 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I've been informed that all editions of My Life are, indeed, out of print. A new edition is planned for the fall, I hear, but I don't know who's putting it out.

If I find out, I'll have a little blog celebration.

At 4/27/2012 4:35 AM, Blogger David Grove said...

Yes, buy a book. Hurray for crackle.

At 4/27/2012 5:19 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Don't forget Snap and Pop, too. They also get props!


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