Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Ghost of T. S. Eliot Comes to Visit


The latest poem in the newest sequence remains untitled, still. This fact hovers over the entire project. For some unknowable reason I need a title to help flow the tide of words and phrases. Titles act as an anchor for the reader. A stability to base the flow of information which the poet-writer provides. In this particular case, with this serious of poems a strong grounding in some sense of reality or logic is necessary do to the fantasy-folktale world the project bases itself.

Anyway. Currently I collected a menagerie of possibilities, each one a slight rewording of the main idea—from January 11:
Monologue from a Displaced Character
• Displaced Nō Character in Monologue
• Character Monologue from a Japanese Nō Play
• Displaced Character Wearing a Japanese Nō Mask of a Fox
• Ray Soto as a Displaced Figure from a Nō Play
• Ray Soto Wears the Mask of a Displaced Fox
• Narration from a Displaced Figure in a Nō Play

•••
Obviously, none of these work. They are too specific. Too clinical. What resulted: the ghost of T. S. Eliot came to visit and snickered at my distress. Every school term I lecture on the Modernist movements and of course "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"— which shows how a poem can be defined by what it is not. The title declares an expectation which the poem does not deliver. Nor does the title directly warn you it will be a narrative monologue. This classic example of creative manipulation set me into a knot of contradictions. What needed to be resolved: what is my main purpose in the end?

In my particular case— unlike the works of say Jean Valentine which depend on a lack of strong realistic reaction of the world— or the nightmarish situations Yannis Ritsos creates, which defy logic and coherent thought— my recent series of proposed works need a clarification to help justify their quest-theme.

I do dislike the word "justification." It is too close to the word "defend" or "explain." The independent-rebel-artist in me cringes at the need to "validate" a creative description."Confirm" is a good word choice. Or even "uphold"— "support." Let's use support then: A strong title will support the quest-theme in the series of verse.

It falls into the logic of choosing, or not choosing, a specific form for a project. A restriction for a traditional sonnet sets the goal-posts in a recognizable pattern. Likewise, a strong title sets up a sense of a restriction for how the poem will perform.
•••

Tonight, therefore, I fell into sleeplessness, again. Found myself wandering around the titles verbiage:
Displaced Character Wearing the Nō Mask of a Fox
• Narration from a Displaced Character in Transition, Wearing a Nō Mask of a Fox...

"Narration from a Displaced Character in Transition, Wearing a Nō Mask of a Fox"—

—for some unknowable reason this works. Within this established definition of the work lies room for experimentation and creative phrasing. At least what resulted is something to play with and develop over the next few weeks.

2 comments:

  1. I remember the most wonderful affecting beautiful lecturer (long time ago - and I was in love with him) telling me that the act of "naming" was fundamental to the act of creation - he was referring to Yahweh or Elohim or God or Allah (any of the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic versions) as per Genesis in the Old Testament. By naming man and woman and the animals and the trees and etc God gave them life...It was the name which made them "real". This naming motif is also apparent in other religions (as are many of the other creation myths).
    Your post reminded me of this so forcibly. You need to name/title because it gives your creation life...? Makes sense to me...
    I look forward to the finished body of work.

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    Replies
    1. Does put it into a stronger perspective...

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