HomeArchivesSubmissionsCorpse MallOur GangHot SitesSearch
Exquisite CorpseExquisite Corpse
Issue 10 - A Journal of Letters and Life
Deputizable Imputations del Riaje San Joaquin
by Dennis Holt

More on the Holy Mayan Empire

The trip becomes: How much do you tell of your vision?
And how & why do you ever withhold?

With the advent of the Kingdom of Mescal people to
Santa Cruz, an important liaison-link has been re-
sacramentalized between the cypress & redwood crescent bay
of MonteRey & Nathaniel Tarn's most magical lake,
Lago Atitlán.

. . .

Cosmic Ladye hitching back into town. She
speaks upon the metaphors of her most powerful
vision. Upon as up on Dichtering von
wood & winden stage.

In the Guatemalan highlands the women
are as beautiful as they've been shown on the
quarter Quetzal coin. I wrote to Whalen once
from Panajachel of their huge noble dignity & beauty -
some of what Olson saw.

Charles Olson as Quetzalcoatl

A somewhat strange & wonderful friend of mine has
come up with a hypothesis (e pluribus unum) that the
people of the Vedas, when they had descended into Kashmir,
established a kind of universal academy - a university - right there at the
first wholly habitable spot they found
themselves in after the trekking from the Proto-Indo-
European north. He also claims that this academy used
as its symbol the image of a sea-horse, & sent emissaries
of wisdom & learning to culture-centers throughout the
world, probably beginning as early as 1200 BC.

Olson himself came up with the conclusion that
Quetzalcoatl was the sea-horse: little wingèd under-
water coiled-tail serpent with a funny shaped head -
No horses in Mayaland until those other bearded
Indo-Europeans come back less brightly.

Edward Dorn as the Thorn in the
Sea-Horse's Tail

They've some of them been designating Creeley as
Olson's principal heir - the best boy with continuing
lamp. But doesn't it seem more obvious that Olson
left his mantel - or at least the map above his
mantle - to Edward Dorn? Any genuine heir of Olson
would haff to have the historical consciousness
that Dorn so assiduously cultivates; Creeley seems to
me an extremely domestic poet, a wise family-man of
American letters, but no Thucydides. Dorn is ever there:
navegant dans son periplus, & telling all about it, often
in terms appropriately classic-heroic.

In the context of the Charles Olson Week of lectures &
readings in Iowa City in November, in which Dorn & Creeley
& Duncan all participated (as well as a number of im-
portant academic Olson-scholars), Dorn stood out for
me as the man who's most likeably foretilling from the
helm of the bardic Viking-ship the great Northman - C.O. Máximo -
left us as legacy . . . And a Viking-ship
is a liking-ship, a questing & flowing fealty among men.
In Iowa City I avowed to Dorn my troth. After Duncan's
lecture, on the Caves at Niaux, we are as Knights
Templar, comme les Chevaliers de la Bomologue.

During Duncan's talk I wrote:
"time or our human notions of it
depend on human events in space
& that is history "

& a few minutes earlier:
"Hollo [?] walks in
& sits down to talk with Dorn"

These are genuine heroes, as mythically obtrusive as
Coeur de Lyon, & they dwell & tell among us, in this
most human of histories, we master our mystery of.
[per-féct, not domare . . . perféct . . .

Comparing My Own with Those of Dorn

Comparing (odiously) my own processes & products with those of
Edward Dorn, I realize that a basic difference, & a
source of my slight feeling of 'lagging too far behind the
master', is that I am not merely making 'poems' (& I
have some sense of what can be & has been meant by that term),
but more broadly (& importantly), trying to achieve some
kind of diagrammatic understanding of the human social
communicational space we (or I, at least) inhabit.
. . .

Dorn is so gracefully graceful. Think about that.
It is not easy for beautiful graceful dignified men to
always openly show themselves in this society: the pejorocracy
of our time relentlessly inhibits the obtrusion of natural
beauty & talent into its controlled atmospheres. To give
oneself, one's spontaneous being, to the full natural grace
of one's meaning-filled mythic-historical dance, is to yield
to the gentle coaxing of the Great Choreographer. And Dorn
is as slick (if that is the word) a dancer (& I keep on
thinking that's principal word) as Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire,
as Brando or Dean, as Mork (or Mr. Bill).

Contemporary American "Poetry"
as a Socio-dynamic "System"

(That's more like it!)

In order to proceed with what I want to talk about
here, I must first attempt to inculcate an orientation
& instill a reverence with regard to the value, and thus the
, of messages. Human speech is a continuously
operating communications-network. Messages over the
lines of this network have values determinable via
the agency that we call poetry, or the poetic faculty,
by which we mean that human capability that
allows us to find & produce & recognize messages
of greater than usual value. Most poets, or active
practitioners of poetry, amass (or amount) the most
valuable of those messages, whatever their source, into
collections which they share with their friends, & often
also with the society at large.

. . .

Into the arena at Iowa City - the seance - however you will:
Charles Olson
(e. e. cummings)

Robert Creeley                         Dennis Holt
     (Bolinas - Placitas)                    (Hollywood - Andes - Venice)

Robert Duncan                         Anselm Hollo
(Oakland - San Francisco)           (Finland - England - America)

Edward Dorn                         Tracy Hughes
(Idaho - New Mexico - La Jolla)               (Massachusetts)     

On Olson & Myth

"...Marsden Hartley, who painted the rocks at Dogtown..."
                              (Dembo in Boundary 2)
. . .
"For Olson myth conveys information of importance: the
compact expression of lived experience over generations,
not of a single lifetime. It preserves what is necessary
for racial and cultural survival while it scants the
personal and the unique. How many historical
Agamemnons and Priams were there whose stories got
squashed [!], summarized in the oral memory, until only
the smooth pebble of the myth was left?..."
                                   (CO - B2 p. 141)
. . .

Each man must interpret his own locality,
& in a language that is local.
Such language does not depend on merely
the lexically local, but also on the
psychospiritually & socially local.
. . .

...in a speech that is local.
Which tends to imply that its audience
is also centrally local.
. . .

Thus, I can not let myself get hung-up over
the fact that Olson wrote huge, more-powerful-than-
I-may-ever-get-to verse about places I have never
seen. What is said derives from the places seen
before & beside the saying. Each man's periplus
prescribes his body of work. (Note here that place
must often be understood as locally as the lexico-
syntactic juncture between two words in an epic
narrative, or a dictionary-listing of an erudite term.)
. . .

By continuing to cultivate the larger, human
cosmic myth, while keeping my references to
what has been observed, & carefully concluded,
my value as poet, as eyes & ears & recording
stylus, will be as great, from my own places.

Lexicon as Labyrinth

One way, for a simple mind, to understand how
we might proceed along a way, if not the Way,
is to attempt to reduce the problem of the next
step to the problem of saying (or writing) the
next word. For words imply so much else in our
action within & among this human social space.
. . .

Beneath the tarred & pebbled streets of the city -
the shining glowing city - is a labyrinthine web
of tunnels & passageways, from subway-chutes to
lizard-holes. At each turning, in that spidery
system without street-signs, we are made to move
by forces we can barely if at all perceive, even when
we've been made conscious of their necessary existence.
. . .

"Value is perishing from the earth because no one
cares to fight down to it beneath the glowing surface
so attractive to all. Der Weg stirbt." (Olson)
. . .

An obtrusive possibility in this context, is that
the struggle for value - to find & see & comprehend &
transmit its absolute essence - might be an essential
aspect of value: value might never be shown in
the superficially clearly given, where all corridors are plainly
marked. Value might derive only from the quest for
value, through the efforts toward fundaments for its
very comprehension.
. . .

Der Weg stirbt only if there are no walkers along
that way. The rockiest peaks remain. Always men
will find & follow paths. The stacks of flat rocks
at the crest are testimony to that: onicnomachitocac.
And those spider-wires, across the trail in the
early morning dew & mist, are not as barricades
verging on lands of taboo; they are finish-tapes
at the threshholds of farther understandings.

HomeArchivesSubmissionsCorpse MallOur GangHot SitesSearch
Exquisite Corpse Mailing List Subscribe Unsubscribe

©1999-2002 Exquisite Corpse - If you experience difficulties with this site, please contact the webmistress.