Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Hubris (January)

[For Lenore Stephens] Cook’s Journal, January 2019: “Deep channels into Port Jackson. Almost collided with catamaran. Man drunk. Required to meet Morrison. He’s not Lord North. Kept repeating “You’re misunderstood by the populace.” My reply: “Why don’t they ask me a question?” Wants me to circumnavigate the continent. Why? Flinders did it. Stout fellow. Tall. His charts impeccable. Morrison got louder. Says I’ll win him election. Delusory? Reminds me when Endeavour hit reef. Annihilation imminent. Talking louder won’t help. Wished Morrison well. Advised he wants someone else. Opened secret instructions: ‘Clean up plastic island in Pacific’. Weighed anchor. Capricorn rising.”

Seashell (January)

[For Carol O’Connor] This January I re-read Francis Ponge, his ‘Notes pour un coquillage’ (1932). The argument goes that though a seashell is small, it’s a monument “colossal et précieux” compared with sand grains, more mysterious than any human monument. Impressively, a whole creature lives inside this monument. Human monuments (“Rome et Nîmes”) remind him of skeleton parts, not the same as the home of a hermit crab. Ponge imagines the impossible colossus that inhabited such ancient places. He decides that our monument is language, made from “la véritable sécrétion commune”, before describing the returning of all life into sand. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Solidarity (January)

[For Deborah Zion] ‘Solidarity’ isn’t defined in my January-yellowed copy of ‘Keywords’ by Raymond Williams (1983). ‘Collective’ is about its closest synonym, “to describe people acting together”, or else “belongs to the new democratic consciousness of the eC19.” Today’s meaning comes not direct from Latin but via Polish, an existing word changing meaning through foreign influence. ‘Solidarnosc’ was the Gdansk labour union the government tried to suppress by martial law in, indeed, 1983. Vincent Buckley dedicated poems ‘For Solidarity’, identifying with its anti-Soviet push. Though Buckley, a Cold War worrier, also had the Catholic Church in mind, for not against.