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CHARLES OLSON Letters for Origin

1950-1956

Edited by Albert Glover Foreword by John Tytell

Q
PARAGON HOUSE
New York

Published in the United States by Paragon House Publishers 90 Fifth Avenue N e w York, N Y 10011 Copyright 1969 by Charles Olson Foreword copyright 1989 by John Tytell All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form, without written permission from the publishers, unless by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Olson, Charles, 1910-1970. Letters for Origin, 1950-1956 / Charles Olson ; edited by Albert Glover. p. cm. ISBN 1-55778-111-7 (pbk.) 1. Olson, Charles. 1910-1970Correspondence. 2. Cortnan, Cid-Correspondence. 3. Origin. 4. Poetry. 5. Poets, American20th centuryCorrespondence. I. Glover, Albert. II. Title. PS3529.L655Z53 1988 811'.54dcl9 [B] 88-3775 CIP

To Cid Corman,

Editor

Foreword
Charles Olson and the Projective Imagination

A m o n g poets in m i d - c e n t u r y A m e r i c a , Charles Olson is a dominating and influential figure. H e is best k n o w n f o r The Maximus Poems, an epic sequence w h i c h O l s o n w o r k e d o n for t w e n t y years, f r o m 1950 until his death in 1970. Set in the place w h e r e he spent s u m m e r s as a child, the seacoast t o w n of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the p o e m w a s w r i t t e n in the tradition of W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s ' Paterson and E z r a Pound's, The Cantos, w i t h the same c o m p l i c a t i n g l y discursive allusiveness, m y t h o l o g i c a l overlaying, and kaleidoscopic structure. O l s o n is also k n o w n for his theoretical piece, " P r o j e c t i v e Verse," a m a n i f e s t o that appeared in the m a g a z i n e Poetry New York in 1950. Olson's point of d e p a r t u r e in this piece is an extension and c o n t e m p o r a r y reinvention of P o u n d ' s n o t i o n of the v o r t e x as an ideal poetic m o d e l . T h e m a n n e r of the piece, vibrantly h o r t a t o r y , r e f u t e d the b l a n d decorousness and formal restraints of the N e w Criticism, the p r e v a l e n t school of poetic theory after the Second W o r l d W a r . Olson w a s fascinated by the kinetics of poetic m o v e m e n t . H e saw the p o e m as an e n e r g y transfer, highly potent, very special, and, if successful, as m e a n i n g f u l as the most p r o f o u n d spiritual insights or messages. H e claimed that the p r o b l e m for the poet was an awareness of the process t h r o u g h w h i c h the e n e r g y that p r o m p t e d the w r i t i n g b e c o m e s the e n e r g y in w h i c h the r e a d e r participates. H e believed that this interchange best o c c u r r e d in as open a l i t e r a r y structure as possible, and Olson's key w a s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n : O N E PERCEPTION M U S T IMMEDIATELY A N D DIRECTLY L E A D T O A F U R T H E R P E R C E P T I O N . It means e x a c t l y w h a t it says, is a m a t t e r of, at all points (even, I should say, of our m a n a g e m e n t of daily reality as of the daily w o r k ) get on w i t h it, k e e p m o v i n g , k e e p in, speed, the nerves, their speed, the perceptions, theirs, the acts, the split second acts, the w h o l e business, keep it m o v i n g as fast as you can citizen. A n d if you also set up as a poet, U S E U S E U S E the process at all points, in any given p o e m always, always one p e r c e p t i o n must must must MOVE, INSTANTER, O N ANOTHER!

Olson's assertions in " P r o j e c t i v e V e r s e " c o n t r a d i c t e d an age w h i c h seemed to d e m a n d a controlled poetry, m o d u l a t e d m o r e than inspired, embellished, o r d e r e d , domesticated, m o r e the c o o k e d than the r a w , evoking m o r e of the g a r d e n than the wilderness. In 1950, the m a j o r figure in A m e r i c a n p o e t r y was T.S. Eliot, a m a n w h o had spent forty years in England, an A m e r i c a n w h o read his p o e t r y w i t h a p e r f e c t l y civilized English accent. W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s w a s k n o w n primarily a m o n g o t h e r poets; t h o u g h the first p a r t of Paterson had a p p e a r e d in 1946, the full i m p a c t of his p o e t r y w o u l d only be felt in the sixties. P o u n d was locked a w a y for his w a r t i m e treason; The Pisati Cantos h a d b e e n published in 1948 w h i c h w o u l d eventually help restore his r e p u t a t i o n d u r i n g the fifties. M o s t of the o t h e r poets w h o m w e n o w recognize as the leading voices of the p o s t - w a r era w e r e invisible, o r just beginning to develop a reputation. T h e Beats w e r e still u n k n o w n ; Allen Ginsberg, for e x a m p l e , was s h o w i n g W i l l i a m s his apprentice p o e m s and receiving e n c o u r a g e m e n t . T h e poets in the orbit of the Kenyon Review, R o b e r t Lowell, Randall Jarrell and J o h n B e r r y m a n , w e r e still imitating Eliot in various ways. " P r o j e c t i v e V e r s e " was a declaration of Olson's independence f r o m w h a t seemed the tyranny of Eliot's influence and the ideas of the N e w Critics. B u t w h o was Charles Olson and h o w had he p r e p a r e d to so challenge the situation in A m e r i c a n poetry, circa 1950? T h e son of i m m i g r a n t parents w h o had settled in W o r c e s t e r , Massachusetts (his f a t h e r was a postal w o r k e r ) , O l s o n w a s a scholarship student at W e s l e y a n . H e b e c a m e fascinated by the fiction of H e r m a n M e l v i l l e a classic A m e r i c a n a u t h o r w h o s e r e p u t a t i o n had b e e n in eclipse. O l s o n w o u l d later develop his M . A . thesis on Melville into his first book, Call Me Ishmael (1947), a brillant and celebrated study of Moby Dick. D u r i n g the Second W o r l d W a r , O l s o n w o r k e d f o r the O f f i c e of W a r D e v e l o p m e n t , an agency responsible for fostering the w a r e f f o r t a m o n g Americans of f o r e i g n origin. A n a d m i r e r of Roosevelt, O l s o n t h e n w o r k e d for the D e m o c r a t i c P a r t y in an a t t e m p t to recruit voters of f o r e i g n e x t r a c t i o n . A f t e r the w a r , w h e n Ezra Pound was incarcerated in St. Elizabeth's, a federal m e n t a l institution in W a s h i n g t o n , D . C . , O l s o n b e g a n visiting Pound. These visits p r o v e d spiritually crucial: " O l s o n saved m y l i f e , " Pound later asserted. T h e older poet had suffered a nervous b r e a k d o w n ; he w a s being questioned by l a w y e r s and psychiatrists w h o w e r e unsure of his sanity. For his part, Olson was ambivalent about giving Pound any emotional succor because of Pound's u n r e g e n e r a t e fascism. H e w r o t e to the critic M a l c o l m C o w l e y that " h e wished to be of use if there is anything to do to save the scoundrel's s k i n " P o u n d was afraid of being e x e c u t e d for treason. T h e real assistance, h o w e v e r , w a s in v e r y h u m a n terms. F r o m 1947

to 1949 O l s o n listened to P o u n d , giving h i m the o p p o r t u n i t y to release his w o r d flow to someone w h o represented the poetic c o m m u n i t y and the hope that Pound w o u l d not be ostracized b y it for his w a r t i m e activities. T h e two m e n talked about the w a r , about economics and P o u n d ' s eccentric m o n e t a r y theories, about Pound's f o r m e r friendships w i t h o t h e r w r i t e r s like Yeats. Generally the m e n c o m m u n i c a t e d and O l s o n was able to reassure Pound of his sanity. As a poet, O l s o n w o u l d be m o r e i n d e b t e d to Pound than to any o t h e r predecessor and his visits w e r e a f o r m of h o m a g e to a master. But on a n o t h e r level, O l s o n resented Pound's b i g o t r y and intolerance; a f t e r all, they had represented opposite points of v i e w d u r i n g the w a r as O l s o n had w o r k e d for F.D.R. and P o u n d had agitated for Mussolini on Italian radio. Psychologically visiting E z r a P o u n d in his time of distress, a b r o k e n old man in a madhouse, signified for Olson the end of his o w n apprenticeship. A t about the time that Olson ceased visiting P o u n d , in the fall of 1950, he b e g a n his c o r r e s p o n d e n c e w i t h C i d C o r m a n a B o s t o n poet w h o had an influential radio p r o g r a m on p o e t r y and w a s beginning Origin, a n e w poetry magazine. In the letters, w h i c h continue over a six-year period, Olson would advise C o r m a n on the w a y s to m a k e Origin an o r g a n for a n e w m o v e m e n t in poetry, later to be called the Black M o u n t a i n m o v e m e n t w h e n Olson began teaching at Black M o u n t a i n College, an e x p e r i m e n t a l school in N o r t h Carolina. T h e letters to C o r m a n collected in this v o l u m e exist as an i m p o r t a n t historical register of a vital n e w force in A m e r i c a n poetry as its principles w e r e being discovered and articulated by Olson. Olson o f t e n w r o t e of " p u s h i n g " o r " t h r u s t i n g " his ideas and he regarded these letters to C o r m a n as a f o r m to be stretched, extended, redefined and r e o r i e n t e d just as he m i g h t play w i t h the shape of a poem. Rejecting deductive premises, O l s o n p r o j e c t e d his ideas by spontaneous, irregular, " g u e r r i l l a " paths, relying on f r a g m e n t s and discontinuity in a post-modernist m o d e . For Olson, Origin w o u l d be a f o r u m to free poets f r o m the n a r r o w n e s s of academic concerns, a forcefield c r e a t i n g taste rather than m e r e l y p e r p e t u a t i n g it. E a c h issue, he proposed, should center on a single n e w w r i t e r of w h a t he t e r m e d the " o p e n " school (Olson himself, R o b e r t Creely, R o b e r t D u n c a n , Paul B l a c k b u r n ) and use letters and statements in conjunction w i t h poems. O l s o n hoped such an a r r a n g e m e n t w o u l d lead to a c o n c e n t r a t i o n of literary e n e r g y c o m p a r a b l e in its w a y to that caused by the n i n e t e e n t h century transcendentalist magazine, The Dial. Early in the c o r r e s p o n d e n c e O l s o n is concerned w i t h the appearance of his o w n poems in Origin as they w o u l d be published in its first issue. A f t e r sending poems o f f to C o r m a n , Olson traveled to M e x i c o , to the Yucatan, in an incandescent search for n e w sources for his poetry. T a k i n g a perennial A m e r i c a n position first announced by E m e r s o n in his " A m e r i c a n S c h o l a r "

address, Olson argues against relying on E u r o p e a n culture and history (as Eliot and Pound had) and instead urges poets to find n e w resources in the m y t h s of the Indian peoples w h o settled the A m e r i c a n continent. Olson is a c o n t e m p o r a r y Transcendentalist and the prose style of his letters resembles Emerson's intuitive, digressive, spurting and elliptical r h y t h m s m o r e devoted to the explosive possibilities of the sentence than the unified p a r a g r a p h . T r e m e n d o u s l y e x c i t e d by the Y u c a t a n Peninsula, O l s o n begins e x p l o r i n g M a y a n ruins and in a sudden burst of e x u b e r a n c e tells C o r m a n he is ready to give up e v e r y t h i n g for the sake of his M a y a n researches. All he needs n o w is a j e e p , a schooner, a supporting f o u n d a t i o n . In a subsequent letter, Olson speculates on the link b e t w e e n the M a y a n stellae ( C o r m a n calls t h e m totems) and the ancient G r e e k messenger god H e r m e s . T h e connection is p r o v o k e d by his purchase of a carved animal snout painted in red, w h i c h reminds Olson of the M e d i t e r r a n e a n w o r s h i p of Priapus, w h e r e i n huge phalluses w e r e painted red and placed in gardens and crossroads: A t the same time you m a y also r e m e m b e r that G r e e k sculpture in the r o u n d appears to have e m e r g e d f r o m the hertns, the single heads of H e r m e s w h i c h w e r e at crossroads and such in earliest G r e e c e . N o w these hertns, the assumption is, w e r e originally phalluses, w h i c h , as sophistication c a m e on, w e r e r o u n d e d , at the glans penis, into heads, H e r m e s ' head predominantly. Olson c o n j e c t u r e s that the phallus represented " m a n ' s most i m m e d i a t e w a y of k n o w i n g n a t u r e ' s p o w e r s " and was the "handiest i m a g e of that p o w e r . " But the entire reflection itself stands as a measure of Olson's o w n archeological and anthropological imagination as it p r o j e c t e d f r o m present to past w i t h astonishing and fecund fluidity. W h a t Olson wishes for Origin are pages that "lie t o g e t h e r as if a god w a l k e d across t h e m . " In his letters to C o r m a n , full of such startling insight and inspiration, one o f t e n feels the presence of such a rousting, provocative god. Effusive, idiomatic, occasionally full of b r a v a d o , the letters twist and t u r n w i t h the rapid shifts of Olson's concerns. T h e y exist as the essential s t a t e m e n t of his position and as the r a w m a t e r i a l of a poet's fancy. By the s u m m e r of 1951, Olson returns to Black M o u n t a i n College and the letters reflect his endeavors there, as Utopian and adventurously personal as some of the Transcendentalist c o m m u n i t i e s established b e f o r e the Civil W a r . T h r o u g h his letters, Olson develops an aesthetic point of view. H e explains the peculiarities of his spacing and layout in t e r m s of a resistance w h i c h " m u s t be a part of the style if it is part of the f e e l i n g . " His observations are precise and practical, as w h e n he is c o n c e r n e d w i t h the kind

of typeface C o r m a n will use f o r Origin. W h e n C o r m a n says he is considering varitype, Olson w a r n s that the vowels and l's can c o m e out too thin, creating a loose and porous look w i t h "holes in the w o r d . " For Olson, how a thing is said is as i m p o r t a n t as what is said, and that includes its visual presentation; f o r m should be organic, that is, the w o r k should lead the poet, rather than the poet arbitrarily choosing some convenient package to contain his ideas. And the best subject for poetry, Olson advises C o r m a n , w h o is trying to w r i t e his o w n poems, is not w h a t you think is p r o p e r b u t always the self, the autobiographical perspective. These are the lineaments of the " o p e n " style, i n t r o d u c e d to A m e r i c a n s by a n o t h e r g r e a t Transcendentalist, Walt W h i t m a n , and e m b r a c e d in o u r day by O l s o n and his g r o u p , by Ginsberg, and by n o w a legion of followers.
JOHN TYTEIX

W e d O c t 18

50

217 R a n d o l p h PI

NE

Wash 2 D C

M y dear Cid C o r m a n : It took m e a bit, but you must not mind: we had our lad, to keep us in touch. . . . Well, the thing you o u g h t to k n o w , is, that, that you have the will to make a M A G is a very fine thing, and is hailed, by this citizen, (especially, I suppose, that it is also B O S T O N : by god, h o w long is it, that except for harvard sheets, which is not boston, there has been S U C H A T H I N G ! all the way back to Emerson's DIAL, i do declare, almost, isn't it? W e except, of course, the quality, even when it was edited by W D H o w e l l s ! ) G o o d for you. A n d may it prosper. N o w tfc sounds as tho I did not also welcome yr suggestion, yr O F F E R , that I join you, as C O N T R I B ED. N o t at all. O n the contrary. Smells migh good. But I am an older animal. And smell thrice, as I go around a new baby, just, to make sure, it's going to be, aas I washad to be shook to be m i g h t y sure, there's breath B R E A T H in it. (That shake must be w h y I got to be 6'7, oi dare soy.) It comes to this: any dispersing of authority means dispersing of force. W h i c h , in our terms, means T A S T E , or h o w e v e r one puts J U D G M E N T , on p o e m , story, any prose or f o r m k n o w n to man. N o w you've had the willand so, already, you give a p o e m of mine (2 poems) a bed to go to to find print. Y o u have taken the step. It is a p r o u d one, for the likes of me. I am immensely grateful, that you exist. O K . Look: so far, in m y short experience (that is, as writer) I have found only one man w h o has J U D G M E N T in these matters the equal of w h a t I take to be the D E M Ah of our going reality. T h a t lad you k n o w . Let m e put it, straight, and strong. Have you already asked any others (beside Creeley) to be such secondary editors? Answer me that one, friend, and I'll come up with a possible suggestion. Okay? Let m e hear fr you, and n o w , that it is going, you'll not have to wait, for answers. I wanted to unload this b o m b , o n the xst run. . . .

M o n d a y Oct 21 50 M y dear C C o r m a n :

[217 R a n d o l p h PI

Washington]

That's okay. I think yr reasons are w r o n g B U T the piece [ " T h e Gate and the C e n t e r " ] is not yet set, so please don't send it to anyone until, inside the family, we have put it right. And I'll tell you w h y : because, T H I S piece is a testing ( T E S T I N G ) not only of possible fresh n e w form in yr M A G but also test of h o w free you are going to be, m y new friend! Take it step by step, thus: (1) the m o m e n t I learned (fr Ferrini, then you, then the Creel) that you were prepared to push by me the IDEA of correspondence not as of a notable but as a T H I N G in itself (a F O R M , U N F O R M ) , a via of person pushing, then, I sd, this weekend, the right thing to do with G & C, is to break it back either (1) to its first f o r m as solid (most of the Waddell adds out) or (2) to let it emerge as of a lot of other slugs of letters before and aft, so that, its moving, will find place in larger notions, & thus, its jags can be left, with other pieces, on each side, to make elaborations or clarities of frame: for ex., yr objections to m y slugging E D U C (not ERE) are founded on not-yet-sufficient-knowledge of p r i m a r y position )the poet is the pedagogue left( n o w don't kid yrself: (1) je suis un ecolierand w h y not? (Cf, below, on this, as of art, n o w , here, U S A , and yr problems, as of same scholarship vs traditional verse or mag concepts) (2) l a m long experienced in those places where O N E IS N O T L E D O U T (3) O n e cannot exaggerate the dangers, given contemp.(t) mags, and general control ( C O N T R O L ) of culture by, not scholars, but academics (which is practicing poets, I mean, & critics, not, not, not S C H O L A R S ( y o u are sucking wind with yr arse w h e n you take it, I use names, hollowly (names of men so selected become images of force not taken up, m y barbarous bostonian) ( C O N T R O L : and by M O N E Y , m y p o o r confronted lad: don't think I d o n ' t k n o w all those arguments (what the hell do you think I've been doing trying to earn a living all these years: d o n ' t preach to me, the cons: I not only k n o w them but have been executive several times over, and k n o w ( A N D PASS BY, m y lad) these false necessities Just this. Please d o n ' t argue Brandeis, or 10,000 dollars olson-side. 1 have, m y triend (and we'll go to details on this, any time you say), PASSED U P m o r e of such d o u g h in short-mid-long life (and f r o m your o w n very sources, like kind, several

planes, in this hyar economy) than you are n o w talking about. And here's the J O K E R you must learn Y E T : that, despite all appearances & advice fr others ( w h o have not had such chance or have given in) the T I M E H A S C O M E when they need US, and you can play it S T R O N G , b o y : can play it S T R . (As a matter of fact, yr o w n somewhat surprised expression that there is backing, is p r o o f ( w h a t I like is, that you have proved it ( M A K E S A C O U P for you as pioneer (but turn it yr w a y (don't give me that dangerous modesty, that the Brandeis gang are shrewder than younuts, you are as shrewd as they come (and m y j o b is to keep w a r n i n g you not to be too S H R E W D : for that's the whole trouble with such talent as yrs: that, other shrewd men w h o are already in, make an impression on you. Look, Cid, take it as straight & friendly: PLAY IT S T R O N G , d o n ' t K N U C K L E to d o u g h , it'll c o m e your way ANYWAY (The fact that you have g o n e so far with R C R , and am n o w willing, despite nervousness, to take a 40 page plunge with Olson, is plenty proof, you are no willy And we'll see you thru. D o n ' t be nervous. I'm ready to whack you

the best 40 pages of, olson YET.

And sure nuf R C R , as 2nd no.,

is as sure a bet as you can put that M O N E Y on, this lad, he, is

So, to get back, and o n : (1) you have stomach, and say, in this letter to me this m o r n i n g , I WILL U S E G & C. That's straight, and good. And it will shake d o w n , the m o m e n t we have the correspondence section worked o u t : (even the anglo-saxon will get into place, be cool abt that!) you have t w o poems, n o w . It you will give me some notion of date you will appear, I will slate w o r k in hand (verse) so that all that is top will go to you. (In fact, right n o w , 1 could lay h o m e to you

(2)

p o e m s d o n e since spring w h i c h w o u l d m a k e a n t h o l o g y o u t & ahead of w h a t has been done.) M y o n l y wish is that y o u will lead the O l s o n section in, w i t h the verse. O r m a y b e , to keep the w h o l e I D E A as fresh as possible, start w i t h a verse, and then break in w i t h prose, and then o u t , again t o verse. O r some such ordering, as of the w a y the process is. ( W e should be able to organize such a t h i n g together most alively. Just let m e k n o w date, and guarantee m e such space t o push w i t h , and I'll give it to you, hot.) (3) T h e possibility of a story is o n e w h i c h I will take up later. ( O n l y jesus christ, d o n ' t tell m e I'll d o b e t t e r : d o n ' t y o u yet k n o w a m a n k n o w s m o r e abt w h a t he hasn't done, isn't d o i n g , than any other m a n sitting o u t there w i t h a beady eye ?)

Okay?

All right. N o w I w a n t to go f u r t h e r w i t h yr w h o l e idea (and i d o it, n o t to stick m y finger back in yr eye, at all (figured to d o this a n y w a y ) , but in order that i m a y f u n c t i o n for you as sluice of other men's work f o r y o u and to y o u : R E M E M B E R T H A T

F o r example. T h e r e is one R o b e r t B a r l o w sitting d o w n there in Atzcapotzalco. I w a n t you to tell m e if you ever heard of h i m . ( O r , for that matter, did you ever hear of Sauer?) ( O r , f o r that m a t t e r , right d o w n yr street, one M e r k F r e d e r i c k Jackson M e r k ? ) Please tell m e . For it will m a k e the p o i n t , w i t h o u t d e r o g a t i o n to y o u at all. Just, clarities, en scene. (I was deeply disturbed b y yr r e m a r k (2nd last letter) that you w o u l d e x p u n g e f r m y letters all r e m a r k s but those o n art!)

Let m e try to put the w h o l e thing in o n e package. (You w o n ' t be able to show this letter t o Brandeis, b u t b y g o d if such a c o n c e p t i o n of a M A G as herein d r a w n is not m o r e pertinent to t h e m than s o m e dishwater aesthetic flag flying f r o m their masthead, I have wasted m y t i m e t r o t t i n g u p and d o w n this land like J o h n n y Appleseed (and precisely in their wellheeled gardens w i t h serpentine walls, as M r T o m J had the perception t o b o u n d t h e m by!) (I am the w a n d e r i n g scholar, you dope.) A n d paid, bro, and P A I D !

Y o u see, the pay-off is, that it is, actually, precisely, w h a t you think is

a w a y of m a k i n g m e b u r n . It is, g o d help m e , a question of, K N O W L E D G E t h i s business, of, h o w you, C i d C o r m a n , can, 1951, construct a M A G , w h i c h will be p u m p k i n s .

N o w I'll try to say H O W . First, g r a b hold of this P R I N C I P L E , you are already p u s h i n g : the correspondence as well as the finished w o r k of, m e n (that finished w o r k , of course, in the case of olson being, obviously, " f i n i s h e d " by same process of bearing in, on, t o w a r d , as is the so-called un-finished.) 1it has n o t h i n g to do, actually, w i t h o l s o n : it has to do w i t h a process of fronting to the whole f r o n t o f r eajity as it now presents itself -it rests (such a 40 pages, with correspondence) on a premise that n o such c o n f r o n t a t i o n can be d o n e by _ (a) the old deductive premise o f f o r m a n d that goes for poems as well as essays as well as stories (mark you) (b) that art & culture are s o m e h o w separated fr the other planes of energy on w h i c h a people express themselves (economics, politics, films, television, o r w h a t e v e r " e n t e r t a i n m e n t " )

(c)

that life ( w h a t is " h u m a n " ) is an absolute instead o f w h a t I think I a m n o t at all alone in taking itthat is, specifically, " L i f e " , that dirty capital (doric, corinthian O R iambic) IS R E L A T I V E t o conditions of R E A L I T Y (as distinguished from, as ahead of life " h u m a n life", at any given t i m e : : : life, in this sense, is a stop to consolidate gains already being pushed b e y o n d by the reality instant to you o r to any man w h o is pushing

O K . N o w w h y d o you agree w i t h R C R , that most o f the stuff in the M A G you read is (I w o n ' t use y o u r careless scatology) ? W h y ? ( O r w h y do I find so m a n y of the writers w h o m y o u are impressed by, decidedly impressive f o r their s o m e t i m e s e x t r e m e talents, w e l l - m a d e p o e m s , stories, pieces o, say, H a r v e y Shapiro, or R i c h a r d W i l b u r , or Miss Hoskins, or, Stephen Spender (intimate) or w h o else d o you think of publishing?) W H Y ? A n d w h y should I w e e p to see you get o u t only a n o t h e r of such M A G S as H u d s o n , or P N Y , or N I N E ? ( W h y d o such m a k e so m u c h of the

literary inheritance? W h y d o y o u get, n o t only in the so-called creative w o r k enclosed but also in the S T A T E M E N T S (Russell's, say, a n n o u n c i n g , that magic no., 9) such overt, coy, or covert w o o o i n g o f b y adjectives, by flaccid praisingexclusively art or literate precedecessors? Is there n o t a direct connect between the emphasis on (1) technical, skill and (2) t r a d i t i o n t h a t is, cultural traditionthe assumption of a s u r e - h u m a n c o r e : " h o o m i n " , I mean (and n o t al clapp's clear objection) : w h i c h is, was, always is, LIKE: a connect b e t w e e n this, and the " O , I a m here, and O , I a m h u m a n , and O , isn't it, w e a r y - o r - h o w l y r i c a l l y l o v e l y " (Barbara Gibbs) or " o n o t pretty yet but will b e " ( R u k e y s e r or the lazy leftists) or " i t stinks, because, tho i d o n ' t say, I stink, w h i c h is w h a t h u m a n s always have done, look at D i o g e n e s " or any of same, w h i c h y o u m a y d o c u m e n t , even on such a high level (so m u c h a source as) T . S . (GI) Eliot?

W h i c h accomplisheth W H A T ( w h e r e are w e at this 40 yr end of that essay " T r a d i t i o n & the Individual T a l e n t " ? O f the whole L I T T E L M A G (exception: the drive o f E P w h o never for a m o m e n t let his h a n d slip off the J o h n s o n rod to his o w n loco., H I S energy as the thing to be put to U S E by A N Y T H I N G of the pastnever let the P A S T for its o w n sake ( " h u m a n positionalism") slide h i m off (well, could say things otherwise here, b u t , in context, he and W C W , only, O N L Y , m i n d you, excuse w h a t is n o w H U D S O N PNY K E N Y O N etc. o r w h y d o y o u think it is only those t w o m e n w h o m t h e y are able to sell their sheets b y ? ( n o w it is Melville, yes: b u t , w h a t a Melvillethe same bizness, t u r n h i m into that same g.d. h u m a n h u m u s , because, " w e , p o o r things, have to have soil to g r o w skillfull i n " SHIT T H E P R E S E N T G O I N G R E A L I T Y IS T H E O N L Y S U C H S O I L

All right, w i t h that last C A P S T A T E m e n t , let's g o t o yr M A G

d o you, cid c o r m a n , think that y o u can p u t o u t a P U S H , n o w , b y n o t f o l l o w i n g u p on the F I R S T P R I N C I P L E (the n o n - d e d u c t i v e , b u t f o r m a l totality of a m a n , say, in each issue) to the S E C O N D P R I N C I P L E , the same, f r o m p. 1. to page 75 (you say) AS O F T H E W H O L E R E A L I T Y N O W ? do you think you can get that in b y an eclectic selection of aesthetic w o r k around these Statesand, as you m a k e m e so n e r v o u s b y b y similar

selection

f r o m the W O I L D ?

o k a y t h e r e is b a r l o w , w h a t ' s he d o i n g , that interests m e ? His main j o b , right n o w , is a life o f M o n t e z u m a . H e has edited f o r s o m e years a L I T T L I M A G called T l l u o c a n i n , w a t c h this, N A H U A T L . T h e last thing of his saw was t w o pages in " C i r c l e " o n e a d r a w i n g b y h i m of a " m a d o n n a " of rocks and a spring h e discovered in O a x a c a o r s o m e w h e r e . T h e other pagi was his impeccable and discriminating description o f w h e r e he f o u n d it and w h a t it is. (He also writes verse, the quality of w h i c h , I c a n n o t speak of.)

S o m e years a g o a w r i t e r n a m e d R e s n i k o f f published a little b o o k called TESTIMONY. H e is a l a w y e r . H e m a d e his b o o k u p of selections f r o m c o u r t records, or situations, o r w o r d s , o r " p l o t s " therein discovered.

Diana W o e l l f e r (wife of E m e r s o n W o e l l f e r , C h i c a g o Painter) sent m e Saturday a cat. of SIX S T A T E S P H O T O G R A P H Y ( M i l w a u k e e Museum). H e r o w n p h o t o was of kids u n d e r s w i n g i n g d o o r of cantina (very m u c h Cartier-Bresson : : : : if I g o t y o u notes b y H C - B on trip just n o w c o m p l e t i n g self, P e k i n g ( M a o ' s entrance) ; S h a n g hai (the G a n g ' s R e t r e a t ) ; India, Indonesia, and a u t o trip C a l c u t t a to Paris ((the sort of t h i n g he m i g h t well d o , yet no one is editing in such a fashion as to call him out) short n o t e s W O T W O U L D Y O U D O W I T H I T (alongside T h e o d o r e Roethke) ?

A n o t h e r p h o t o was, title: " T h i o c a r b a m i d e Crystals 900 X " . For years the best prose I read was n o t tseliot b u t in w o r k of selig hecht, clarence g r a h a m & o t h e r physio-psychologists w o r k i n g on such things as the rods and cones in a pigeon's eye. (In yr o w n b a c k y a r d : m o r e available e x a m p l e : the prose of o n e W i e n e r , m a t h e m a t i c i a n w h e r e u p there? C o m p a r e t o (Brandeis) Lewisohn. ( O r y o u r o w n prose, M I S T E R c o r m a n ) .

I h a v e in m y h a n d a p o e m b y o n e R C R , called, " C h r i s t m a s C o m e s Early to O n e Los Angeles Y o u t h " w h i c h is clippings f r o m A P story o u t of LA, mit comments, including " p h e w ! " O n e Paul Valery, w h e n he did edit a magazine, called i t l o o k ! COMMERCE . . .

W H A T S E L E C T I V E P R I N C I P L E IS T H E R E , the equal of, G E T T I N G I N T H E G O I N G E N E R G Y O F T H I S P R E S E N T - h e r e and n o w , U S , 1 9 5 1 for A M A G ?

((is yr "taste" in prose or verseor mine (on quality level) as i n TERESTING? as I M P O R T A N T as an a t t e m p t to do just that? T O GIVE IT, AS F A R AS Y O U R L I M I T S G O , not taste, but E N E R G Y ? is an editor N O W as recorder of such not m u c h m o r e i m p o r t a n t than, an editor, as lyric soul? LITERARY as critic? WORK' as eclectic collector of friends, etc., as

I d o n ' t think, this day, or you, at this stage as c o r r e s p o n d e n t , is getting m y heat up enuf to m a k e the points w h i c h should be m a d e . B U T d o you k n o w w h a t started m e on this track? Y o u did. W h e n you w r o t e abt " f o r e i g n " material, to m e or Cree. I d o n ' t r e m e m b e r w h i c h . L o o k : any French writer (say, better t h a n M i c h a u x , or Eluard, for o u r p u r p o s e right n o w , R e m y de G o u r m o n t , say) stands on S C H O L A R S H I P of his people (as well as a clear tradition back t h r u the Latin to the Greek and on back) he can be interlacktuwal as all hell because he has a b o d y of w o r k w h i c h he and his readers take for g r a n t e d , base themselves on (a culture breathes, takes breath for g r a n t e d , as m e n do) but such breath has been w o r k e d for, milleniums, m y lad D O Y O U H O N E S T L Y T H I N K - o r k n o w , f o r that m a t t e r - A N Y A M E R I C A N CAN GO O N SUCH ASSUMPTION? H a v e y o u any sanctions for y o u r acts? Even for editing a M A G ? But take a look at any little m a g , take a look at the P N Y issue starring Apollinaire. W h a t happens? T h e oldest thing here in these States: backtrailing, colonialism, culture scratching! S u d d e n l y Bill M e r w i n , or w h o e v e r is alongside, is, s h o w n up, to be p r o c e e d i n g on culture concepts

h u m a n i s m s w h i c h are p a t e n t l y N O T H I S A n d w i t h n o such C O R E o f E N E R G Y t o offset same fine flowering of P A S T : W h a t happens? m a g collapses, as F O R C E P N Y , that issue, was, n o t h i n g b u t reprint of A P O L L I N A I R E w h i c h , by g o d , any alert m a n w o u l d h a v e g o n e to, at source, as part o f process of learning his trade in this hear t i m e & day (or t o s o m e equivalent of same as R i m b a u d , say, o r E d g a r Allen P o e (as W C W m i n e d h i m , not Baudelaire)

Y o u see, it isn't at all a m a t t e r of j i n g o i s m . It is quite a n o t h e r thing. It is, this p r o p o s i t i o n : the reality c o n t e m p o r a r y t o us, here, in t h e States ( r e m e m b e r , y o u are publishing, B o s t o n , 1951) is the t h i n g w e are offered by w h i c h to g a u g e reality. ( T h e o t h e r t h i n g , h u m a n , is, (the g a u g e is) of course, o u r o w n selves (which, b y the w a y , is t h e reason, not any other, w h y , the limits I spoke o f above, r e m a i n : y o u will, o f course, set o u t to, p r i n t , creative w o r k . Y o u are n o t t r y i n g to cover the sociology. O r the politics. O r the economics. O r the " l i t e r a t u r e " . Y o u are seeking to express, b y a selection of w o r k a f o o t b y writers, w h a t isas far as you can get it i n t h e g o i n g reality culture-wise. Right?

B U T ask yrself: h o w , in a people and c o u n t r y like the U S , 1951, does reality culture-wise express itself at its top ? D o y o u for a m o m e n t think O r Russia? O r J a p a n , n o w , 1951 ?

it will express itself as F R A N C E did? N o t to speak of Athens, 450 B C

Is the A m e r i c a n e n e r g y (I a m n o t local: I a m p l a y i n g this record against a b a c k g r o u n d of events already played o u t : t h e Americanization of the w o r l d , n o w , 1950: soda p o p & a r m s for France t o fight, n o t in Europe, but in I n d o C h i n a , the lie of it) is that e n e r g y w h e r e d o y o u find it exIn the fiction of R P W a r r e n ? In the p o e m s of BILL m e r w i n ?

pressed ?

L o o k , o n e o f the reasons w h y I stress A m e r i c a n scholarship (note bene, Brandeis) Sauer Barlow Stefansson Lattimore P o r a d a (think she's Italian, actually) Wiener Edgar A n d e r s o n (on maize in Assam)

IS,

that the American P U S H is not at all

all machines & engineers

T H E F A C T is, that, americans are putting out a body of research R O U N D the W O R L D , which is the kind of grounding on which that culture of Europe rested rests is n o w buried in here lies the anthill w h y not pick up, see, make clear, illuminate W H A T ' S U P (as well as discover another Ezra P o u n d orwell, since Melvillewho w r o t e prose)

w h y not (what does it matter that, Sauer, say, only publishes in A m Philo Soc mags: is not yr j o b (and mine as helper) to D O C U M E N T that P U S H ? K N O W L E D G E , lad, is what art and culture B U I L D O N

well, i quit, for n o w . it comes to this:

Another time, another time.

Maybe

if you are already ready to put one man f o r w a r d in his (approximate) totalitygive a shot at his reach by way of fragments and putsches, go by spontaneous, irregular, guerilla f o r m s ; w h y not take this the step further it already implies, and make that the f o r m of your M A G : m a k e it, such a presentation, a R E E N A C T M E N T OF, the going reality of (approximate, shot at) T H A T W H I C H IS A B R E A S T O F U S : n o w , here & n o w , not what was what was w e do lament T H E W H O L E F R O N T , not " c u l t u r e " "art" (I note P N Y , in announcing next issue, says "exciting new poets" SHIT) "creative w o r k " (thus admitting, furthering, the whole separateness and classifications which logic & positivism (as well as X t y & Hebraism) have fostered) the whole dull business of C U L T U R E

looka creative man is, ist, an alive one, and, as alive, takes care of his business, including his skills, or he's not alive, not creative, and not worth the waste of yr attention we are not here either to praise or to bury B U T T O E X A M I N E

lo

w h a t ' s a r o u n d , that is of U S E , n o t that, w e a d m i r e : AESTHETICS pah bah shit (leave that t o w h a t already is all mags n o w existent in A m A n d Eng, so far as I can see)

give us s o m e t h i n g actually N E W , m r cc, a n d the E X C I T I N G , will take care of itself (believe m e , bro.)

A GRAPH: ENERGY non-deductive vs vs humanism d e d u c (educ, polituck, cultchuck progress, accumulatic succession, tradition

N A T U R E T A K E S N O T H I N G B U T L E A P S worseus (de Broglie brothers)

art as the w e d g e of the WHOLE FRONT

(god help us)

vs

art as culture

see y o u a n o t h e r t i m e

11

thurs nov 9 50

[217 R a n d o l p h PI

Washington]

m y dear d u c k w e e d : each sentence y o u w r i t e breaks m y heart, so let's be practical: it is

as simple as that.

(1) can you, will you, by s o m e means (even a n o t a r y , m a y b e ! ) give m e absolute assurance you will (despite all weathers, fair or foul) give m e the 40 pages of issue # 1 you have told m e you plan to give m e ? N o w this is n o t at all to arrogate a w a y f r o m y o u any control w h a t soever. B u t such a deal takes composing. A n d I c a n n o t t h r o w myself f o r w a r d i n t o it if it is in any d a n g e r of wastage. ( Y o u will see h o w , it is, almost, like a b o o k , such a block, and yet, the beauty of it, is, it is n o t a b o o k , it is a magazine, and does, therefore, allow, precisely, the sort of c o m p o s i n g b y discontinuity, n o n - d e d u c t i o n , field, f r a g m e n t , grit & vulgarity, that, at r o o t , can m a k e a magazine, today, fresh. If you could m a k e m e confident that this part of yr 1st issue is definite, and decided, I a m most anxious to g o ahead, to see the w o r k d o n e and the w o r k ahead in some such pattern, and, at a time (I asked you, a p p r o x i m a t e l y w h e n y o u expect to g o to bed) present it to y o u sufficiently ahead of the l o c k - u p f o r y o u to g o over all stuff in those pages. (You see, y o u m a k e m e very nervous, w h e n y o u list the poets you have for issue # 1 a n d p u t d o w n O l s o n (2), Creeley (1), etc. T h a t ' s the old g a m e , 1st of all. A n d 2nd, those t w o p o e m s d o n ' t g o together at all: either there shld be one ( M A X ) or m o r e , either or. A n d if there are m o r e 4 0 pages w o u l d seem to include m o r e , n o ? t h e n (with letters, & such a piece as Gate & Center), there is c o m p o s i n g j u x t a p o s i t i o n , correlation, interactioncalled for.)

B u t n o w I c o m e to the H O T t h a t is, I can c o m e to it if you are able to m a k e y o u r decision stick, to give m e the 40 pages,that is, stick on m y most willing skin (they call me, Sticky-Hair, out there, in the w o o d s , w h e r e the oak is hospitable to the mistletoe). ((Boston is, w h e r e m y T r u e L o v e . . . .)) I have this P R O P O S I T I O N , to offer, as of 50 P A G E S

w h a t w o u l d be m u c h better than this o n e m a n ( w h a t could almost be a n o n y m o u s , the w o r k issuing in its course, and, by that w o r k alone the m e n be k n o w n ) is this h o t : 50 pages to be a m o v e m e n t , a composing fr the shifting c o r r e s p o n d e n c e of t w o writers, p o e m s and stories c o m i n g up in the progress of that correspondence, the n a t u r e of it also representing e x a m i n a t i o n s of w h a t key points o n the w h o l e f r o n t of life & w o r k today that correspondence gets t o it could be an i m m e n s e businessand n o t necessarily, be y o u reminded, because of the t w o m e n i n v o l v e d (i a m t h i n k i n g of y o u r readership and w h a t such an intimate, m o v i n g , u p s h o o t i n g thing as this w o u l d be for them, in the pages of, a M A G , c o m i n g , n e w , to their hands). B u t the t w o m e n involved, thank yr stars, are i m p o r t a n t , simply, because they are serious characters w h o m y o u can well, yourself, p u t y o u r pages in the hands of! (I say this, of course, because y o u have m a d e it possible for m e to say it, that is, you have assured Creeley and myself that, the t w o of us, are central to, y o u r conception of, the M A G . ) ( W h i c h , of course, does bring up all y o u w r i t e me, in yr t w o letters received t o d a y , a b o u t B R A N D E I S . B u t I am here m o s t practical: the test y o u are l o o k i n g for, of such censorship as Lewisohn, H i n d u s and Elder Gerard, is, precisely these 50 pages, N O T , the first year of yr editorship. For you will p u t yrself in the position of earning their approval, if y o u g o b y this 1st year test: and it will mean, inevitably, that y o u will woo it, that first year. W h i c h , m y friend, is worse than o u t r i g h t censorship. N o , the thing to do, is, to pitch an act at t h e m , to measure t h e m . (And if you w a n t to d o that right away, I am sure, that b o t h Creeley and I w o u l d p o u r it on, to prepare, as rapidly as possible, those 50 pages, for y o u to use, as TEST.) Say the w o r d , on this face of the thing, and the t w o of us will plunge, and present you, w i t h , a M E A S U R E .

I have this feeling: you have to take up y o u r confidence in these t w o men in their practical p o w e r as well as in their (yr o w n w o r d , & title) creative n o w , right n o w , pitched as you are b e t w e e n (essentially) t h e m , and the Brandeis B o a r d t h e leetle S o u p r e m e C u r t .

13

It is always that w a y : you call yrself the C R E A T I V E Q U A R T E R L Y . If it is to be so, then, you (or anyone) is required toto let it be "creative" to let it come alive, be, yrself, willing to put yr faith in, life, the bitch, the confronting one. And it is not ever, just, yr own notions: the pitch is no longer C o r m a n versus Brandeis. It is, the material of, the men of, his magazine (like you say) (like you say, eh? Well, that's yr problem. All I care to do, is to offer you, a T H I N G : 50 pages of woven stuff f r o m the heads & hands of t w o men (willing, I take it, to remain anonymous, rememberjust so that the whole thing can be read as its o w n revelations, not, the intervention of, w h o are these men, but, what is this work) There it is. (2) solidly. N o w , you tell me, whether to go ahead (1) instantly or / and I'll await yr answer. Good luck

14

tuesday n o v e m b e r 14 50

[217 R a n d o l p h PI

Washington]

m y dear C o r m a n : So, it was that easy to s m o k e y o u out, was it? Well, well. L o o k h e r e : I d o n ' t at all care to be addressed in such terms as this letter of yrs. A n d I shall keep same for w h o e v e r or

w h a t e v e r use, it is called for.

In yr first letter to me, you allowed you did n o t think I needed you. T h a t remains quite, quite it.

Y o u are a great fool, C o r m a n . W h e n a m a n o r t w o menare ready to pitch in, to t h r o w all their w o r k y o u r w a y , and you make such posings y o u drive t h e m off, that is foolishness, big foolishness. Y o u are really quite stupid. Y o u d o n o t k n o w the difference between any of us just as writers w h o will use y o u and y o u r m a g to get things published, and quite a n o t h e r will & drive, of s o m e such writers w h o , recognizing the deep use a magazine can be to all w h o read, w o u l d be willing to go along w i t h y o u in a project to p u t a magazine out which w o u l d be of that kind of U S E . Y o u had n o t h i n g to fear, and all to gain. T h a t is, if y o u did n o t so palpably fear y o u have n o taste at all. But w h e r e d o y o u think taste & j u d g m e n t c o m e f r o m ? T h e y are earned, and it is n o t the least wise w a y to earn taste than f r o m y o u r bettersespecially, w h e n such are ready to give you the best of themselves. But that takes a little modesty. I am embarrassed, by y o u r lack of it. Such preening, that " t h e issue will b e as I w a n t it o r there w o n ' t be a n y " , is simply a silly try to plug a space w h i c h is e m p t y , e m p t y , m y boy. O r this: "Deal is to get the best w e can: of w h a t w e w a n t . A l o n g the P R O J E C T I V E trail.' I d o n ' t like at all such cheap use of a w o r d of m y o w n invention. And,

15

secondly, why, if it is you, d o you put it " w e " ? And if it is " w e " , w h o is we, and what of olson's w o r k & letters has " w e " seen, eh? It is altogether LOSS, C o r m a n . I have the impression you must be a most skillful operator. Otherwise, h o w could you keep a radio tent show of verse going, as you have, and, on top of that, get such backing for a magazine as you seem to have p u m p e d up. And that's fine, that's of use. O n top of that, you have the awareness enough, to go to Creeley to take a body of stuff already in hand, andand I can tell you I valued that invite olson to take over 40 pages of your first issue. Put those t w o accomplishments together, and you can stand in the light, C o r m a n , you can stand the light. Matter of fact, you can, after a bit, when such action is made evident, stand quite clear, with a coup or two, in the history of this business. You could even look a good deal like a couple of such fine predecessors as Margaret Anderson and Jane Heep, you could. And you could, as they did, earn the patronage of J i m or Jill X and the confidence of0, say, such writers as one Creeley and one, olson.

But there it is. Y o u thinkin a flashto have something else, that which is not so easily earned, that which you d o not have and which cannot be so easily arrogated to yrself. No, Corman. too, quite recognizable limits. N o t e the shrinkage, and ask yrselfas I W h a t , other than your o w n fear of your You have yr limits,

could ask a n y o n e h o w come? o w n lacks, accounts for BANG:

" a m offering you 40 pages 1st n o . " " w o n ' t you be contributing editor" "well, n o 4 letter words, &, er, ah, o, not, let us not, we can't afford, it is unnecessary, er, to attack, a.a.a., education. And you do t h r o w names around. . . ."

BANG #2

1st D E M E R

1 st N E W S of H O W T H E W I N D B L O W S : "olson (2 poems)" & N O W , w h e n his hand is called, L O O K :

16

"Fuck (4 letter w o r d , exact) everything said by m e to date: to you : re mag. FINE idea of duet (article): let's see it. N O assurances. I repeat: " N O assurances". ( O h , yeah? "article"?)

Look, lad, get off the pot. Y o u w a n t to d o a job? Then, stop fucking yrself.

17

217 R a n d o l p h PI N E Washington 2 D C N o v e m b e r 20, 1950 M y dear Cid C o r m a n : N o w this letter (just read) f r o m you makes sense, and I thank y o u for it, thank you for the pressure of feeling which has m a d e y r w o r d s behave. Fact is, such a letter does w h a t you think t w o hours of conversation m i g h t ( w e l c o m e that, tho I may). For i am a writer. W h i c h makes m e a hearer (or vice-versa) and, all I have been c o m p l a i n i n g abt, is, n o t w h a t you are but w h a t you d o n ' t make yr w o r d s say. O r s o m e t h i n g . D o , C i d , stay so nice & simple, straight: most of the things that w e need to say to each other can be just that. I have certain things to offer. Y o u can choose or not to take t h e m . All the necessary saying goes in b e t w e e n those t w o facts. The d o u b l e fact is, you c o m e t h r o u g h , in such a letter as this, are aroused. Such a sentence as, " N o w you are h u r t i n g yrself m o r e t h a n m e " , is g o o d to hear, sticks, adds s o m e t h i n g to m y day. A n d that's s o m e t h i n g to be t h a n k f u l for.

I think m y crankiness (and it was n o m o r e , at any time) was, w i t h just one t h i n g : that w h a t you have been saying, takes m o r e saying than you were g i v i n g it. T h a t is, I put myself into that long letter to you on a m a g - t o d a y , spent hours m a k i n g it, h o u r s I m i g h t p u t into verse or into, say, an article like the P R O - V E R S E thing. N o w I have n o reason to think b o t h the letter, and the PV piece, did n o t change you, or give you ideas. But y r letters back w e r e so scattered, u n t h o u g h t , lumpish, I was left dry & u n h a p p y . T a k e n o w , e.g., yr reaction to m y kick at yr phrase " a l o n g the P R O J E C T I V E trail." M y lord, m a n , it delights m e that y o u planned to m a k e that concept the peg of yr editorial or statement. You over-act, in taking it o u t : all I sd was, such a phrase as trail, was cheap. A n d lord, boy, it sure is: a m a n doesn't put his seriousness out there in public to be handled jocularly. B u t I dare say, in the editorial, you w o u l d not be so careless. So w h y be less careful w i t h m e ? Fact is, w e have to, one to one, be more precise, in a real sense, than in such m o r e generalized places. But I think w e are squared a w a y at last, and I a m glad. I shall h o p e so, for, as I have told you & others, the very existence of such a magazine as you project, is a h a p p y thing (especially, I keep saying over

18

to myself, fr B O S T O N ! (I had occasion to read I, M A X here last week, and it still moves m e to the b o t t o m of m v feet that, such, is, to be, there, on yr pages, # i, for example: it is like an epistle of an apostle tr R o m e to the Ephesians w h e n it takes its place in yr pages!) . . .

Well, that for today.

And best luck, as you g o along.

19

[217 R a n d o l p h PI

Washington]

Sat nov 25

50

M y dear C C : T h a n k you for yr letters, the 2nd of which came this a.m. (1) opening, and then not closing a parenthesis, is merely to acknowledge that just that w a y is the way one does parenthesize, actually: true to feeling (don't let the other convention trouble you, for it's only conventional) (2) like such titles m u c h more, as T h e Spring & T h e Source. (In fact, if you cared for T h e Gate & T h e Center, I have n o objection to yr using that.) B u t I like S&S, very much. (3) spoke to Payne long distance night before last. But of course any stuff will have to come slow, (theirs, I mean). Also wrote Kitasono & Hirai ( S H I G A K U ) . Keep m e posted

20

friday 50 december 8

[217 R a n d o l p h PI

Washington]

m y dear cid c o r m a n : black m t character Walked in just as i was settin t o w r i t e y o u this m o r n i n g , so, o n l y n o w , 5 -.30, have i read yr second letter in mails t o d a y and m o s t g r a t i f y i n g : y o u are on the f r o n t b u r n e r , lad, and it is m o s t heartening, comes, in fact, at one of those needed m o m e n t s i thank y o u , deeply in fact, i a m v e r y excited at y o u r plan, to " f i l t e r " , as y o u say, such quotes as y o u n o w h a v e f r o m Vince

p o i n t was, i was g o i n g to w r i t e you t o d a y , to let y o u k n o w h o w all additional material n o w shaped up, that is, w h a t other p o e m s I f i g u r e d y o u should see, f o r selection, and w h a t other prose (including s o m e decision o n a recasting of G A T E & C E N T E R for i u n d e r s t o o d , f r o m yr earlier letter this w e e k , that, the t i m e had c o m e w h a t i think is i m m e d i a t e l y i m p o r t a n t , is, that, y o u have m u c h m o r e of the verse for w h a t i h a v e to say to a n y o n e , in a letter, arises, actually, f r o m verse done, doing, or abt to be, d o n e (i should myself w a n t the p r o p o r t i o n to be g o o d , in this respect, of, the verse, in the issue, to the prose, and i am most h a p p y that y o u p u t it, that "there should be, as I see it n o w , a b o u t 5 or 6 m o r e p o e m s of y o u r s " . T h e hitch is, that s o m e of it, a couple i think belong, are still u n d e r hand. Likewise, some letters, selections f r o m w h i c h y o u m i g h t be interested in (for other areas there covered), I have asked back, to send y o u . n o w that w e are squared a w a y , can y o u spare m e one m o r e week, or, say ten days? to m a k e up a solid p a c k a g e for y o u to sit d o w n with, and, in the light of w h a t y o u n o w have, see, f r o m y o u r sitting, w h a t you w o u l d like to have? the other thing is, to tell you, h o w m o v i n g it is, to hear, f o r the 1st time, a m a n , m a k i n g a magazine, say, he is trying " t o organize the issue on the principle that the m a g o u g h t to be read f r o m cover to cover as a single e f f e c t " B O Y , does that sound

21

good, to ears, to, ears! n o r shld you w o r r y , abt fiction: fact is, i'd just guess, that it is m o r e accurate that w a y , simply because, t o d a y , n o w , it is not fiction that, any longer, leads out, the dance (narrative, is another matter, and, that quality, in N o . I, is, clearly, already in hand, in yr c o m p o s i t i o n of itlike you say, "like, a n o v e l " ! (1 have, by the w a y , tried to set this distinction b e t w e e n the fictive and the narrative of ree n a c t m e n t , in s o m e notes called O U T S I D E , I N S I D E , w r i t t e n as an i n t r o d u c t i o n to Creeley's stories, five of t h e m , w h i c h m a y be s o m e t h i n g you will be interested in, for issue # 2 ;

(in fact, Creeley's w o r k is e x t r e m e l y i m p o r t a n t exactly as the push b e y o n d the fictive)

yes, and a n o t h e r idea, for # 2 , wld be, to prepare for y o u , as final copy, a piece on H o m e r and Melville w h i c h I once blocked o u t o r , f o r that matter, the third of the tryptich, a thing on Melville & T h e K i n g James Version of the Bible (the other of the three being, of course, the Shakespeare section, in ISH) i really w o u l d n ' t , if i w e r e y o u , be concerned abt this fiction question n o w at all: i think y o u will c o m e to see that it is a very beautiful fact, that yr m a g starts as it is V E R Y B E A U T I F U L . And TELLING. "

one other t h i n g : i d o n ' t k n o w w h e t h e r 1 told y o u i think yr n a m e for the m a g is definitely on the right track a n y h o w , i sat here by the fire last night t r y i n g to put m y finger on w h a t did not seem quite right, w h y , 1 was not quite satisfied. A n d suddenly I figured it out, and 1 pass it on, for w h a t it is w o r t h to you. M y conclusion was, that the trouble lay, with the /that the / was artificial or m a d e the thing look self-conscious. And then i saw it printed, and, figured, m a v b e , C i d h a d n ' t visualized h o w , t h e / b e c o m e s unnecessary, thus: lookre SOURCE or better re SOURCE

in other w o r d s , that, merely, in the choice of the type, and of the spacing b o t h horizontally (lead) and vertically (the l o w e r case, u p p e r case of the font) you can get n o t only all you w a n t by that separation

22

of the / but also, by r e m o v i n g it, add to the double entendre anyhow, there it is, for your pleasure

well, you k n o w i am at w o r k , have been, on the rest of the material, and shall have it ready any day soon. but if you are pushed, and want me to start it coming at you, let me k n o w , and i'll not wait to make it all a single package let me hear and again, m y very fullest thanks

23

cid friday [23 December 50 217 R a n d o l p h PI

l o o k : a series of the damndest things, just abt since i w r o t e you (1) was setting off for Yucatan today (2) had seven guests fr Black M t (3) and then, 48 hrs ago, learned m y mother was seriously ill so, making n o w , for Mass., and hope, s o m e h o w , if things are not too bad, to see you

In any case, I have not forgotten, and will carry along all mss which are pertinent. Stand by to hear f r o m me.

Cordially

24

[217 R a n d o l p h PI My dear Cid C o r m a n :

Washington]

Here it is, entire, the package, I promised you. (January 12, 1951) I tell you w h a t : m y impression is, this time, (& the material sitting as it is, as of, n o w : plus your m o x t exciting plan to weave the letter-passages, as skein) that, the thing to do, is, to maintain one tone. (I should imagine that, the w o r k of the others, will, relieve it!) So I have selected the package, both the verse, and the prose. And, with one exception, I think it does all go together. Thus, you can select or order or re-order with n o anthological problems! This is all, all, one face of the character, olson! (The exceptionwhat you already have, ISSUE, M O O D . W h i c h , it is m y impression, let's hold over for some further issue, w h e n , along with it, we can get in, if you choose, m o r e variety.) S O : for yr taking: it w o u l d be (I summarize, only to be clear, myself): LES L E T T R E S (as you have them, and as you want anything m o r e f r o m me, yes?) I, M A X I M U S O F G L O U C E S T E R , T O Y O U THE GATE & C E N T E R plus the enclosed: T H E E S C A P E D C O C K (which seems to me a pair with, T H E G & C and LES L E T T R E S & which could, as could T H E G & C, be broken back to f o r m a part of, LES L E T T R E S ?) & a verse-prose: THE S T O R Y OF AN OLSON, A N D BAD THING & the songs: A D A M O ME T H E M O O N IS T H E N U M B E R 18 (my proud baby)

(with w h a t rewrite you shall ask of me)

and

A PO-SY, A PO-SY

It excites m e very m u c h , this, this h a m m e r i n g , this, actually, this axe-head! O , C o r m a n , that, if it happens, if y o u like it as a w h o l e , that, out of Boston, as O R I G I N , this, this should, c o m e ! O , lad, you, shall have, you, m y , such, thanks, such, thank y o u that y o u had the energy, the will, the push to D O I T !

W h i c h squares us a w a y , I think & h o p e , yes? A b t the t i m e you get this w e will be picking o u r w a y s o u t h w a r d , for m y first vacation in seven count 'emyears. T h e r e will be n o n e w address until I get there. So, please, d o not let that delay y o u , or i m p e d e you, one b i t : w r i t e to m e here, and it will f o l l o w m e as I direct, until I k n o w w h a t o u r address will be in Yucatan, w h i c h I will send you, almost o n arrival. (I d o n o t have m o n e y e n o u g h to stay long, so, for that short time, let's us c o m m u n i c a t e by air mail, yes? c o u n t i n g the cost against sun, yes? ( O n l y a couple of cents m o r e , actually. A n d v e r y fast. D e p e n d u p o n it. For y o u r w o r k , & the f u t u r e of O R I G I N , is important

. . . W h i c h does it, yes, as of the m o m e n t , except that, to answer yr letter yesterdayto thank y o u for it, and to allow, I'll answer other things, like space, as I go, please? For w e are j u m p y w i t h , the getting away, shots, h o w to leave the house, w h a t clothes (to press) ((instead of, w h a t o u g h t , to buy)) w h a t shoes (to have tapped), etc.so, please, excuse, this latter half of this letter: I p u t all m y m i n d into, the ist, half. A n d thanks to you, for the action of, f r o m y o u r heart, yr h a n d : & to yr angel ( w h o sounds so close) best health and, the strength, of yr affection

all love, as I leave

26

LERMA

CAMPECHE MEXICO Friday Feb 9

(do not put Yucatan: it was my o w n errorslows mail one full day)

My dear C i d : Yr letter of last Sat just in, and I make haste to tell you I have it, and that I am n o w here, and, for the m o m e n t , based & a little squared away. I am sorry I have been so slow to catch up again our mutual doings, butas I may have warned youtravel upheaves me no end. I am still thin f r o m it, up in the air (though this time I imagine it is the language problems which have m e on the h o o k : I have yet to have t w o hours to find out what are the simplest laws of Spanish construction! things have been happening so steadily) T h e t w o letters you speak of, should be in m y hands t o m o r r o w , I'd guess (we did not get here until this week, and even then had a hell of a mess on our hands, this h u g e house covered with plaster, every tile. And we had to take it in that condition or go without. So we have had to spend m o r e time here with pails and scrub brushes, than with head or sun! ((What kept us, longer than just the boat fr N e w Orleans to Progreso, was, that, because I was up there to the northeast, 1 decided to go to Chichen first. T h e which was something, & right to do, t h o u g h the almost total loss of the color that the place w o r e w h e n it was alive, makes it, so inaccurate that, to a documentarian like myself, I am as teased out of depth as I am by this living w h e r e the speech is (for me) primitiverudimentary, rather. (((But what is alive, and, is the very most exciting thing of all for me, is Mayan, the language! And I have already started to learn as much of it as I can; so much m o r e important to me than Spanish. In fact, if I were of dreams, instead of the usual a m o u n t of h u m a n stupidity, in five weeks I would constitute myself what they call around here a "Mayista" (in distinction fr "archeologista"). For already I smell things in these living Maya which are gates to n o w & then m o r e solid than stones. In this connection, within t w o hours of arrival in Merida, I had learned of t w o powerful things of Barlow ( w h o m you will recall I promised to enlist for O R I G I N ) : (1) a yr ago, u n k n o w n to me, he had done precisely w h a t I have n o w d o n e (and, of course, with supreme equipment, he)had settled at Telchac (another fishing village like this one, on the n o r t h coast of the peninsula, near Progreso) to master this speech, in order, I should imagine f r o m m y o w n temper, to go in by way of it to those passages of man that archeologists do not get to ((it is wild, the way all

the big guns of Carnegie & Peabody etc., actually rest their careers on a people whose w h o l e value, recovered, is aesthetic, and yet, with the possible exception of Tozzer (& a m o n g the y o u n g Barlow) they themselves are without aesthetic comprehension!)) In other words, Barlow was taking the step which the present demands of any worker any w h e r e : S O U N D S . (2). T h e second fact of Barlow is as tragic a thing as I have k n o w n n o w for sometime: one m o n t h ago, in his house in the suburb of Mexico City called Atzcapotzalco, he dismissed his boys (he lived alone, was, c 35) w r o t e them a letter in Mayan, and killed himself with an overdose of sleeping pills. You will gather, f r o m the w a y I used h i m as a point d'appui to you, h o w very m u c h of a loss I think this is to all contemporary America. ((His reasons, so far as I have been able to talk to those w h o k n e w him in Telchac and in Merida, are wholly obscure. It is unbearable, that he is lost, right n o w , for the w o r k that needs to be done. I am heart-broken I shall not have the chance I so deeply looked f o r w a r d to, to meet him, here, or in Mexico City this year. . . . I cannot think of a man w h o was so clearly that combination I w o u l d see as just as m u c h prime to creative w o r k n o w as the androgyne is to politics (Mao, say), the f o r m e r combination that of documentarian & the selectivity of the creative taste & mind.

. . . D o say hello to Vine & Peg for me, and tell them I shall be writing to t h e m as soon as I can find out such things as w h e r e one gets milk, h o w to say basin in the market, and to manage to make our Indian landlord get a plumber to flush the toilet! ( W e are that close to beginning l i f e even on the skirts of such a civilization as the Maya!)

28

tuesday my dear C i d :

feb 20

(51)

lerma

A note, quickly, to thank you for your letter, which just came, and to tell you that the rewrite of G & C is under hand (yr other letter, about it, to W a s h i n g t o n , arrived here yesterday; on m y o w n part I wish to lighten some of the emphasis on Waddell's book, to keep the whole piece f r o m being squeezed into too n a r r o w a reference. For it is not Waddell, but the refreshment of values so far as history goes, that I am after. As the final version came out, it bore d o w n a little too specifically on arguable historical event (such as the King-Lists). But it is minor change. And should free the whole into a lighter air. I shall also try to avoid lambasting those ex-confreres, the modern academics, like you say. O n e thing, t h o u g h : it means very much to me that you should lead me off, in issue # 1 , with a p o e m , not with G & C. M y impression is, that yr original intention, was to use I, M A X , as the first of my things, yes? I should be very much obliged if you will still do that, in fact, precisely because it is an epistle, and a sort of opener of the can, as well as a poem, it does d o w h a t I think you yrself are after: n o matter what prose is, it is not, if it is not a story, a created thing as is a poem. ((It is even, is it not, a sort of bowsprit, with figurehead, no? that thing I am so soft abt, I, M A X I M U S O F G L O U C E S T E R , T O Y O U . . . I'm afraid I d o n ' t k n o w enough to visualize photo-offset, but, so far as smoking out further funds, I think the handsomer and solider you make issue # 1 the m o r e you are likely to harvest (Americans being so easily impressed by appearance). You will, of course, k n o w best. Tell me, what is the type-face such offset allows? You k n o w , there is one help you could give m e on this Maya thing. I cannot buy or even b o r r o w , here in Yucatan or Mexico, a copy of Alfred Tozzer's A M A Y A G R A M M A R W I T H B I B L I O G R A P H Y A N D A P P R A I S E M E N T O F T H E W O R K S N O T E D , Papers, Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. 9, 1921. I wld write to Peabody direct, but the trouble is, for the b o o k to be of any use to me, I ought to have it long before I am told it w o u l d reach me, parcel post. Obviously air mail w o u l d be the answer, but I have n o w a y of k n o w i n g h o w heavy Vol 9 of such studies is, and dasn't c o m m i t myself to the cost, without k n o w i n g . (The book itself, I am told, is only $3-So). Could you, without spending too m u c h time, determine h o w best to handle this? It w o u l d be a great help. And if it w o r k s out that it can be solved without much trouble & without too much in addition to the cost of the book (maybe

air parcel post?), and you could manage the d o u g h , I can reimburse you by check (the advantage, to me, if you could d o it, without further consultation, is, of course, time). . . It was d a m n nice of you to think of offering to aid me on any such stuff. And curious, that, this very day, I had been asking myself, h o w can I get the Tozzer! So you musn't feel j u m p e d . It was, stars! Echoes!! In any case, Peabody M u s e u m o u g h t to k n o w all the answers on mailing, they being in such touch precisely with Yucatan: it just might happen they are flying d o w n a man, or something, this week, w h o might carry same to Merida, and mail to me, say, if he were traveling light. Well, I toss it to you, and shall be m u c h o gratias, for whatever, you find possible.

. . . W r i t e as much and as soon as you can. Will see that G & C gets off to you, despite the terrible temptations: to swim, to g o into the hills and h u n t ruins, or just to loll!

30

[24 Feb 51

Lerma]

cid: yr letter just in, and i have an idea 1st, i think (though I certainly grant the necessities of cost any man printing today faces) that you ought to take further steps to exhaust the possibility ot type before you go into that modern monster, varitype. For this battle too is a part of the battle of culture n o w (in fact, that ugly thing, modern economy, is precisely squeezing you w h e n it pushes you away f r o m type to a machine which, was invented is advertized and exists only by the inexcusable uses it offers to B U S I N E S S ) on top of that, as i sd to you earlier this week, ) am very much afraid (going by m y o w n taste as somewhat a measure of the kind of people to w h o m you must look for support once the magazine is started) that you will, with varitype, be penny wise but i want to offer you m o r e than merely the objections of my taste, as well as predictions. 1 want to offer you help in cutting through this damnable barrier modern e c o n o m y has put us all in: (1) my thinking went this way, that, somewhere in the environs of Boston, there must be a printer with some of the old feel plus an economic situation which does not involve big city costs m y mind went to C u m m i n g t o n , of course, thinking that it just might be that that gang up there ( w h o are, of course, like all literary printers, somewhat too fancy for m y taste) a n y h o w , that that gang up there might just be looking for a chance to put 111 to a magazine like yrs (now you may well not want any such extra engagement of persons, but, at least, I d o n ' t imagine such would interfere with you as Brandeis proposed) in any case, I rather thmk you would be happier with a j o b printer: have you asked, and asked, abt such, in any small t o w n near you? any man w h o is g o o d and yet w h o hungers for a chance to do more than letter-heads? B U T (2), then, on the pot, I got h o t : look LOOK sitting right out there in H y d e Park, suddenly I realized, are t w o of the best birds I knew at Black M o u n t a i n (where almost all such are trained to presswork), Paul Williams and Dan Rice, plus a lad named, I think, John Dickinson, w h o writes with considerable distinction (1 noticed him first, along with Perchik, in "Resistance")

3i

N O W I a m w r i t i n g after this n o t e to y o u , to Williams and R i c e , asking t h e m if they are there, and to get in t o u c h w i t h y o u if they have any ideas t o offer (Williams is as highly trained a m a n in m o d e r n processes and machines as I k n o w , and you can d e p e n d absolutely on h i m : as well, he is sweet to the core, t o u g h w o r k e r , and gifted o n top of that, b o t h Williams and R i c e are close to me, and w o u l d if there is any chink in the wall, p u t their hearts in to getting o u t a h a n d s o m e issue # i of O R I G I N

PLEASE

d o n o t C o m m i t yrself to varitype until these friends have had a chance, at least, to help!

L o v e & quick

32

lerma campeche

march 1,51

my dear cid: i hope you'll agree, it came out w o n n e r f u l ! 1 am very pleased it shrank (as you thot it might, too), for it n o w carries its weight (Waddell) much more lightly, m u c h less by argument, m u c h more by tale & assertion. And I am extremely pleased Part 1 is back to the sort of clog & shuffle it was in the 1st place, a sort of turkey trot, before, the laying of, the egg! (Part II, the EGG!) In any case, it is what I was after, and I send it off to you, air mail, complete copy, with a certain sense of immense satisfaction (I never, as you k n e w , liked the version you had: it got too much Waddell and thus obscured, the real point, of, where we are, and h o w we g o ahead.) at the same time, i have, i hope, obviated all the difficulties of profanity as off-beat anger which you w r o t e to me about: 1 think the only suggestion you made which i have not followed exactly, is, to remove Soc f r o m the opening para. But, as you see, I have removed the nasty word. ((Please g o along with me, in leaving h i m there, right at the start, even tho I can see yr point, that, he m a y seem to make a stumble for the reader. (But if the style is going to be entered on a n y w a y , b y any alive reader, he can't say I didn't forewarn him!) N o . But seriously, I want to assure you, that, in hanging one on Soc, I am being accurate: he is as much a Sacred C o w to be slaughtered, cut up, disposed of, as is his T w i n , C H R I S T . And he stands, and should stand, right there, off the bat, as T H E E N E M Y . For he is (I have not, for so m a n y years, been engaged in dialectic, for n o t h i n g : if you watch, you will discover that, in conversation after c., you are s h a d o w - b o x i n g that old bastard, that old divinely gifted but false m a n h e is much m o r e the BIG G U Y than Plato, m u c h m o r e the significant force (Plato was just a tremendously gifted re-write man, of same Soc) ((it w o u l d be a telling thing, if someone w o u l d do a book, entitled S O C R A T E S A N D C H R I S T , and doing exactly opposite of Dahlbergsee t h e m not as heroes but as devils)) But m y big pleasure is, that the piece is n o w in a compass exactly right for its tone. T h e which is the j o b I o w e d you. T a k e it, with my thanks, that you are giving it print. . . . I hope by n o w Paul Williams and you have got together, that, between you you may have, s o m e h o w , obviated vari-type. In any case, please write me back about everything, h o w all goes, and what's the schedule ahead: you will imagine that, as the D A Y comes closer, I am beginning to heat up, f r o m anticipation! All best, all ways

[on front of envelope]

" o m y sone, rise f r o m thy bed. . . w o r k w h a t is wise"

34

[6 M a r c h 51

Lerma]

CID: m o n d a y m o r n , march 6, arrived (i) T O Z Z E R , g r a m m a r & (2) M A P , area, f r T u l a n e , so, am squared a w a y , and, most i m p o r t a n t l y , 011 lengua, thanks to y o u : I enclose check f o r D O L L A R S 4.39, but with this injunction: it is the very last m o n e y 1 have in bank (that is, m y uncertain b o o k k e e p i n g shows, 6 bucks, even, m e a n i n g , the 4.39 ought not to bounce, and if y o u are severly pressed, y o u might take a chance. H o w e v e r , if y o u can wait until m y bank balance comes thru fr Washington (it usually comes there the 25th o f the month), 1 can make y o u absolutely certain (and save m y s e l f a buck charge, tor their lousy services on a bounced c h e c k : y o u see, the only reason 1 am slightly nervous, is, that, I never k n o w w h a t charges they are adding a n y h o w , for their miserable little check charges, etc., even w h e n the m o n e y they are using f o r their usury is mine, solid, g o o d earned m o n e y , f o r g o o d s e x c h a n g e d m y goods, o b v i o u s l y , being, w h e n any m o n e y is earned, not the product o f m y labor but, the natural resources herein contained. T h e m o r e 1 think o f it, the m o r e strongly I hope y o u can hold it f o r a f e w days, until I can let y o u k n o w it's g o o d d o u g h o , wait a minute, I k n o w h o w to solve this: let me send y o u the stamp value 111 stamps! A n d the b o o k value by check. T h e n y o u will have w h a t y o u put out, and also, there shld be left, in m y account, enough to c o v e r any o f those damnable charges of theirs for using my m o n e y : ((1 find m y s e l f so otten agreeing with E Z ' s economics, w h e n it is this elementary, that is, that, w h a t was lost (by the increase of populationthis is not E Z ' s insight, alas, and thus, his w h o l e a r g u m e n t is deeply invalidated H O N E S T Y , as a prime of behaviour in a t o w n or a city) ((around these parts, e.g., a while back, it a man was a thief, he was, discovered, f r o m then on, the slave o f the man he stole f r o m , for life!)) with honesty g o n e , it was no longer possible f o r m o n e y to stay w h e r e it belongs, in a man's jeans O r , otherwise, a bank shld pay me tor keeping (using) the m o n e y , instead of the reverse.))

1s

And delighted, that you got together with B M C three: t w o , rather, plus Dickinson, w h o m I hoped, out of it, you wld like the prose of: he is a sort of antique American thing, the blueberry time, simpliccimus, Thoreau-time, the positionalism (& nerves) B E F O R E quantitythe above, plus natural resource, due to machinebecame the contradictory, but leading principle of m o d e r n life: I am getting so sick of the inability of our freres to come to grips with the change that the tripling of world population (& the what-ing of world resources) in the past 100 years (or 150?) has done to values, that I am tempted right this day to sit d o w n and write out for you (for a later O R I G I N ) exactly h o w this change has effected ALL (equals everything) But it still seems to me so obvious & so prime, that, the dopes, they should not need to be drilled (Ortega put it out on the table for t h e m some certain years ago) ((tho with a twist which is pedantic of him, existenz, even tho S p a n i s h U n a m u n o was a truer man)) So please write again soon. MUCHO And I will. This, to thank you M U C H O

36

[Lerma] M y dear C i d :

M o n d a y M a r c h 1 2 , 1951

. . . I arn spent, t o d a y : gave a lot of time, last week, to the field. It is a pleasure, as y o u ' d guess, but d a m n e d difficult on the system, and yesterday and t o d a y , I have h a d to lie l o w . T h e dust, w h e n y o u are pulling o u t the face of a ruin, f o r f r a g m e n t s , is terribly fine, and clogs m y chest rapidly, giving m e almost a f o r m of p n e u m o n i a . Yet I can't stay a w a y ! A n d w a l k i n g , n o w , in the sun, any time after 10, at the latest, in the m o r n i n g , is m u r d e r : it is n o t possible to m o v e again until 4 in the a f t e r n o o n . But I made progress, by that kill, last week. H a v e the p r o b l e m n o w in shape. And it is b i g : it comes out t h u s T H E SEA, in M A Y A N E C O N O M Y , and ITS E F F E C T S on T H E I R C U L T U R E A N D A R T . W h a t I need, is (1) m o n e y s , fr s o m e f o u n d a t i o n , t o keep m e in the field, here (2) (3) a jeep a schooner, o r launch, to survey the sites of the w h o l e coast, the East side as well as, n o w that I have sketched it, this W e s t n o r t h and south of m e here (for e x a m p l e , the greatest sea site of all, yet k n o w n , is the Isla de Jaina, just n o r t h of us a b o u t 20 miles. A n d c a n n o t be got to except fr sea.) b o o k s , or, in lieu of that, airplane m o n e y to shoot to M e r i d a & back

(4)

So you see h o w impossible it all is! In a sense, it doesn't matter. T h e r e is m u c h I can turn m y h a n d to, I suppose this d i s a p p o i n t m e n t (for I d o n ' t see h o w yet to m a k e a push for such a stake, even, for the smallest part of it, just the small m o n e y s to g o on living here, and traveling, the hard w a y ) is of little m o m e n t . For example, yesterday, lying low, if I d i d n ' t start a piece on D a h l b e r g ' s last b o o k ! M a y b e , if I keep interested, it m i g h t be s o m e t h i n g you w o u l d be interested in, for a f u t u r e n u m b e r : it w o u l d have to be a study of d e m o n i s m in the present society. A n d , perhaps, by it, I could take the step f u r t h e r that you suggest, on S O C & C H R I S T O S : for D a h l b e r g is p r o f o u n d l y w r o n g (which is a great w a y to be, if you can't be p r o f o u n d l y righta p r o position, by the w a y , that w o u l d need p r o v i n g to o u r lazy time, despite their secret a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s of such d e m o n s as Hitler, say). A n d b o t h Soc and Christ are figures he w o r k s his w r o n g s o u t by w a y o f : (if y o u have the R o d i t i piece you m e n t i o n e d on D a h l b e r g h a n d y , shoot

it to me, if you can: I'd be curious, to see his a r g u m e n t against D) Well, this is just to thank you, and to tell you I a m alive and at D o write.

it.

O , yes: is it going to be possible for you to send m e proofs? I hate both to ask it and to d o it, but, m y experience is, printers never believe the spaces 1 leave are serious. A n d fuck up any no. of effects, thereby. D o let m e have yr best t h o u g h t , on this.

A n o t h e r idea, for f u t u r e n o . : thru Gus Stromsvik, the Carnegie's t o u g h field boss, I have c o m e to k n o w and e n j o y one H i p p o l i t o Sanchez, in the C a m p e c h e M u s e u m (he comes for dinner tonight). W h a t ' s i m p o r t a n t , are his d r a w i n g s of the glyphs at C o p a n : they are the finest things since C a t h e r w o o d ' s , m y impression is, finer. N o w I d o n ' t k n o w h o w you are g o i n g to be set up for repros, ahead. B u t keep in m i n d that, if any such thing becomes possible, n o m o r e beautiful and interesting presentation of the force of this language-design w h i c h is called M a y a can be g o t t e n than Sanchez's unpublished drawings.

38

lerma, campeche, inex march 2 2 5 anyway Bad friday cid: m u c h o trabajo ( w h i c h gets sd, again & again, hereabouts): 3 hrs & 1 1 2 yesterday tearing d o w n the side o f a cut in a c u y o (man ruin) near h e r e m u c h dust, but m a n y things, excellent pot frags, & a fine stucco ear tabret, as w e l l as curious r o u n d pieces w i t h holes in them, used, I f i g u r e , as d e c o r a t i v e raises on headdress (this particular ruin is a little j e w e l . A n d t o d a y the o w n e r c o m e s , to see w h a t arrangement w e can m a k e tor taking it a p a r t o n e trouble is, americans, previously, h a v e w a n t e d w h o l e figures, & jade pieces, w h i c h I d o n ' t g i v e a d a m n abt. B u t , that they did, m a k e s natives think, I am d i g g i n g for same. W h i c h hampers.) m u c h o gracias, f o r yr letter, all abt, business o f , O R I G I N (by the b y , y o u will i m a g i n e h o w d e l i g h t f u l the n a m e c o m e s across, d o w n here, w i t h one's hands in, just such, as o f , the p e o p l i n g ot, this continent: if i can establish it, i m a y h a v e f o r y o u a piece, one d a y , connecting up, this d e m o n s t r a t i o n to, proposals o f , G & C ! ) . . . i w a s delighted w i t h yr A l b a n i a n , and it y o u keep in touch with h i m , let m e k n o w , f o r , w h e n e v e r i h a v e in hand proof on P R A I S E S , & can release a c o p y o f I N C O L D H E L L , I N T H I C K E T , I should like to send it to h i m , f o r a present, just to s h o w h i m ( p r o b a b l y l o v e r of Hafiz), h o w m u c h c e r e m o n y there is, n o w ! f o r he deserves it, f o r using the w o r d , c e r e m o n y , b e a u t i f u l concept that it is! (He sounds like one of those w o n d e r f u l resistant m e n that m i g r a t i o n still leaves g a p i n g , like lovely fish, on that u g l y shore, the united states o f a m e r i c a ) . . . . y o u h a v e n ' t sd a n y t h i n g abt p r o o f s a n d it begins to get close to A p n l 1 5 . Is it hopeless? If so, please, g o o v e r all olson w i t h s o m e o n e , will y o u ? that is, w a t c h c a r e f u l l y f o r ( 1 ) the spacing, that, it keep the same p r o p o r t i o n s I get f r this m a c h i n e (print or v a r i t y p e space is different, and it is the feeling o f the e q u i v a l e n t p r o p o r t i o n that i am after) & (2) w h a t is a l w a y s a t r o u b l e t h a t , m y line is o f t e n so l o n g , it o v e r h a n g s , in t y p e , and so, I h a v e a l w a y s the headache that, tradition calls f o r the o v e r h u n g line to g o all the w a y back to the left m a r g i n , w h e n , f o r m y effects such is disastrous: it should, a n y o v e r h u n g line, be placed at the right m a r g i n , the end o f the w o r d or phrase coinciding with the end o f the line w h i c h it is o r g a n i c a l l y a part ((I think y o u h a v e a c o p y o f M o n t e v a l l o R , w i t h K i n g f i s h e r s : it is not still all right, but, I did the p r o o f i n g as best 1 can, and y o u w i l l see, there, h o w 1 w a n t an o v e r h u n g line to w o r k ) ) O , yes, (3) indentations, that is, the other spacing p r o b l e m , the space 1 intend f r left to r i g h t : this is a l w a y s b e i n g t a m p e r e d w i t h , b y printersplease, here, too, see, that the relative p r o p o r t i o n s are a c c o m p l i s h e d , yes?

I shall be most grateful to you, if you can't send proofs, if y o u will be this kind, and take the time I k n o w it, h o p i n g l y , takes, to d o this for me. Foras you yrself1 k n o w I have a d a m n irritating style of p u n c t u a t i o n & placements (1 d o it gravely, as a part of, m y m e t h o d , believing that, resistance must be a part of style if, it is a part of the feeling)and if errors creep in, palpable errors, then, the w h o l e careful structure comes d o w n . For then any fresh or n e w placement o r p u n c t u a t i o n , instead of creating eventual confidence in the reader, seems, instead, to be a cause for uneasinesses A n d it is the m o r e necessary in varitype, simply because (i) varitype is relatively n e w , and the reader n o t yet accustomed to its face, &(2), the m a j o r p r o b l e m of it, for m y m o n e y , that, varitype, for some reason of the engineering of its machine, allows altogether too m u c h space to the thin letters, conspicuously " i " and "1", thus creating, w h e r e there are c o m b i n a t i o n s of same, a t r e m e n d o u s hole in the w o r d , and, generally, gives a loose & p o r o u s look to the page (this difficulty is obviated, by the w a y , in italic varitype, due to the slanting & hooks-likeh a n d w r i t i n g , j o i n i n g the letters t o g e t h e r & g i v i n g a m u c h m o r e continuous, & flowing, effect: I'd call yr attention to this f o n t , for f u t u r e issues, if you h a v e n ' t already used it) I a m f r a n k l y scared to death of this " i " , "1" p r o b l e m . T h o I d o n ' t see h o w y o u can avoid it except by using the italic f o n t . In any case, that openness, looseness, does, for me, m a k e it i m p e r a t i v e that all other spaces be exact. I m e n t i o n this all to you, n o t to carp, C i d , n o t to a d m i t yr problems, but to ask y o u to give m e this extra attention, simply because I fear you will n o t be able to send m e proofs. A n d I think y o u w o u l d w a n t m y text to be as exact, in its effects, as I w o u l d . ((I also, b y the w a y , just to register it w i t h y o u , for w h a t it is w o r t h , think that the smaller p o i n t t y p e faces in varitype are preferable for one thing they clear the face of its t o o close resemblance to t y p e writer face (thus, m i m e o g r a p h ) ; and also, because I d o n ' t think varitype has the r a n g e of h a n d or machine-set type face, declare, for varitype, a sort of c o n v e n t i o n it badly needs: it looks m u c h cleaner, tighter w h e n the p o i n t is 6 o r 7, on the outside 8)) G o d k n o w s you g o t problems. A n d I k n o w that. I say these things, because, talking abt p r o o f , they c o m e u p i n t o m y m i n d . So take t h e m , please, in that spirit. ((((And excuse m e a little, for, as I d o n ' t think y o u w o u l d k n o w , graphics was, once, a little bit m y profession: Ben Shahn and I w e r e , once, a " t e a m " ! ) ) ) ) . . . . A n y w a y , I await all, eagerly: please keep w r i t i n g

lerma

c a m p e c h (which means snake tick!)

m a r c h 28 1951

m y dear cid C o r m a n s u r e l y , you deserved instant reply, for yr excellent idea, that w e d o u b l e the push of the g l y p h - d r a w i n g s b y yr adding a s h o w in some B o s t o n m u s e u m , is w o n d e r f u l & i w e n t at it, to answer you, instantly: the only trouble was, it was H o l y Sat, & w h e n i got in to the m u s e u m , no one, no one! O n M o n d a y , P a v o n , the director, was g o n e , f l o w n to M e x i c o C i t y for conferences. So, the final decision (which, fr Sanchez' position, has to be Pavon's) must wait until the first of next w e e k . H O W E V E R : it has been very f o r t u n a t e . For all this week, each day, I have g o n e in to the m u s e u m , & Sanchez and I are in the process of g o i n g over each of the full page d r a w i n g s of the C o p a n glyphs, so that I a m completely familiar with w h a t there is. A n d , by the end of the week, I should be ready to select w h a t , & all, d r a w i n g s w h i c h you can use (1) for the magazine and (2) f o r a gallery s h o w . . . . Please let m e k n o w as soon as you can h o w far y o u are able to take this thing. A n d I will let y o u k n o w instantly that w e have P a v o n ' s decision (I can't see h o w he can refuse to let Sanchez use some of his d r a w i n g s for O R I G I N , b u t h o w far f u r t h e r he will g o I can't say; I have a few tricks up m y sleeve to pull h i m b y f o r he is an ambitious m a n a n d I o u g h t to be able to pull h i m all the w a y over. B u t he is a scholar, and y o u k n o w h o w scholars are, a b o u t " A R T " t h e y are n o t timid, but they are careful, that w h a t is their b a b y isn't allowed to get over to the people. For they k n o w that that tnasonism of their profession is w h a t keeps t h e m at posts, & insures t h e m that security of j o b & reputation which, always, in the end, kills t h e m off! B u t there is o n e other useful thing I k n o w a b o u t h i m , beside the fact that he can supply, for the show, exact readings of all glyphs (Pavon is the best of the c o n t e m p o r a r y Mexican specialists in the glyphs as calendars: J. Eric T h o m p s o n , the big g u n (Carnegie), in his last b o o k , 1950, speaks of P a v o n as "a star on the h o r i z o n " ! P a v o n is y o u n g , and sharp. A n d the o t h e r thing, w h i c h he has to offer, is excellent p h o t o g r a p h s of the stones in situ, excellent ones, which could be (some b l o w n up, perhaps) interspersed w i t h the d r a w i n g s as a constant r e m i n d e r to the l o o k e r - o n that, it is S T O N E , that is being demonstrated, as an A R T . . . J E S U S . T h e m o r e it unfolds u n d e r hand, the m o r e I think you have the hottest of hot ideas for an auxiliary d r a m a tization of O R I G I N ' S force in c o n t e m p o r a r y c u l t u r e : and to dramatize it by w a y of G L Y P H S , fr the oldest and purest origin on this continent, this hemisphere! WOW.... God, but it's H O T : and i shall be delighted, if a n y o n e w a n t s it, to write m y first g o at T H E A R T O F T H E L A N G U A G E O F M A Y A N G L Y P H S , for a catalogue, or w h a t e v e r , you can d a m n well bet a cocoa bean (good

Mayan money) on that! As well as I think I can get Pavon to do a fresh take on the glyphs as time celebrants I'm telling you, Cid, you have in yr hands the makings of one of those shows (like the A r m o r y Show, 1913, wasn't it, which blew the States across, with the French) or, more to m y w o n d e r , that show the Mus of M o d Art, in N Y , shot over, years ago, on the A R T O F T H E C A V E S (organized, by god, by Leo Frobeniuswhich fact is so little r e m e m bered I have never seen anyone point it o u t ) . . . Well, with Pavon's okay, we're launched. I hope you will like these extensions of your o w n suggestion, for which I, and Sanchez, are immensely grateful. WE'LL B A N G 'EM! . . . a n d you understand, of course, that this j o b that Pavon and Sanchez did, on the spot, at Copan, is the F I R S T T I M E that all the glyphs at one place have been R E C O R D E D a n d there were important discoveries, one of which w o u l d bring every maya expert in the place to see the show on STELA I (eye), due to Sanchez's drawing, Pavon discovered an eclipse of the sun which the Washington Observatory confirmed the date of, which confirmation in its turn confirms the absolute correctness of the G o o d m a n - M a r t i n e z - T h o m p s o n correlation formula for relating Maya dates to Christian calendars (and was, and, with this show, shall be, great N E W S )

O, lad, you have a golden egg, yes, a gold & egg, eck, shoosh, ek!

42

lerma cid:

april 8

thank you for yr good letter, abt all things and do excuse me, i waited until i had Pavon's final w o r d on whether, right n o w , he could allow Sanchez (i) to give us drawings for O R I G I N , & (2) for a show. And the son-of-a-bitch! He says, N O ! I am so gd sore I can't see, and poor Sanchez: he's as g l o o m y as possible for man to be. And rightly so. For, there is no reason w h y , despite the contract (so far as the C o p a n stuff goes) with the H o n d u r a n Govt, there is n o earthly reason w h y Pavon shouldn't do the customary thing, ask permission of t h e m for Sanchez to use w h a t selection you might want, at least, for the m a g . . . In any case, do keep open, as long as you can, your w o n d e r f u l idea of a Mayan issue: let me turn that one over a bit, and see what I can raise upit might also be an excellent one in which to f r a m e Barlow's work, eh?

Things are a little tightened, as the m o n e y begins to squeeze, and so time gets m e by the short hairs. But still turn up enough, at the m o m e n t , to keep running myself over like I was a Mack truck. Will write more on this. For n o w the big thing is O R I G I N , and has me, too, holding, waiting! send me the earliest possible copy you can, by a i r . . . . 1 Well, lad, this to catch you in the last hours! And to wish it godspeed. Please write me all back, as fast, as you have news, eh? Most j u m p y ! Do

43

LAD lerma F R I D A Y M O R N I N G April 27 1951

cid c o r m a n cid c o r m a n cid c o r m a n CID cid c o r m a n cid c o r m a n

the fullest satisfaction i h a v e ever had f r o m print, lad, the fullest. And i am so d a m n e d m o v e d by yr push, pertinence, accuracy, taste, that it is w h o l l y i n a d e q u a t e to say thanks. it's the sort of satisfaction i suppose a m a n d a m n well rarely has (i should m a k e i m m e d i a t e l y clear, that 1 d o n ' t m e a n as of m y o w n stuff at all, o r that i a m featured, b o t h of w h i c h m a k e m e squirm, that, all is n o t at all, n o t a n y w h e r e near, g o o d e n o u g h , not at all b u t that so l o n g as it is, y o u have given it the v e r y m a x i m u m chance and that, by god, is s o m e t h i n g d a m n e d unusual, and i a m deeply, deeply pleased . . . and the varitype is, actually (i d o believe), better (in the sense of the speed of it, is d a m n e d w o n d e r f u l : i d o n ' t k n o w , others w o u l d better say, but m y o w n impression is, that, the speed of it is d a m n e d g o o d for m y kind of language, n o ? seems so, the 1st go. seems exactly right. A n d I agree, the spacing, is ok ok (in fact, doesn't the note to vine - 4 2 - look j u s t as g o o d as a n y t h i n g ever did?) I regret one thing, that, M A X , comes off straight fr, instead of fr a w h i t e page, the " i n t r o d u c t i o n s " (tho 1 d o n ' t think that's the reason i d o n ' t like the p o e m at all, this m o r n i n g : crazy, isn't it, that, the p o e m i w a n t e d so hard, 1st, and out there, seems, n o w that i see it, altogether bad, altogether sliding, slippery, w r o n g : s o m e h o w , the fish, got o u t of his element, and is just slimy, to the touch, on, land. Definitely have a h o r r o r of it this m o r n i n g ! (And i keep using the n o t e to vine - 4 2 - as offset, as, as it is to me, this m o r n i n g , b r a n d n e w , and, very b e a u t i f u l : the last f o u r lines are w o r t h all, the M A X ) I k n o w the reasons w h y y o u p r o b a b l y felt such i n t r o d u c t i o n s were necessary, (that is, I like v e r y m u c h the w h o l e concept of n o t h a v i n g names inside the m a g , yet, at the same time, n o t m a k i n g it as foolish (the a n o n y m i t y ) as those ridiculous T I G E R ' S EYE p e o p l e did, like, s o m e sealed envelope in some contest) i like yr n o t i o n of, p u t t i n g the contents, straight, there, right off the bat (also yr o r d e r i n g same, not by alphabet but, by yr o w n choice of weights to be e m p h a s i z e d t h a t ' s s o m e t h i n g I think you should d a m n well keep (makes for a very nice unsaid direction by, you, the m a n w h o s e magazine this is: think, here, y o u s h o w exactly the same qualities, the same clean, fine acts, that yr subscription note is the dignity of K E E P ALL T H A T , b u t (1) give the 1st piece in any issue an

open page ahead of itself: n o t necessarily a w h o l e w h i t e page, in fact, on the c o n t r a r y , i think n o t : b u t give it s o m e breath, the reader, to, start a n e w w i t h , the material, after, the intros & (2), for m y taste (and here is w h e r e I say, i u n d e r s t a n d the reason, that is, the " h u m a n i z a t i o n " of, the individuals, but, o n e t h i n g i w l d d o another time is, be quite f o r m a l abt, w h o e v e r it is, w h o s e w o r k y o u are, listing: that is, yr o w n prose in the subscriber n o t e is impeccable, shows, y o u deeply are, f o r m a l a n d 1 think the i n t r o d u c t i o n s call tor just that same quality, in the statement of, w h a t e v e r it is you w a n t ( A N D I A B S O L U T E L Y G O F O R Y O U R U S I N G T H E W H O L E I N T R O AS Y O U H A V E U S E D I T t o fold a w a y w h a t y o u think is, the importances) to put, there, abt, any of sd persons, or, the m a g

You see, C i d , w h a t this m a g establishes, b e y o n d a d o u b t , is, that you are a m a n of courtesies. W h i c h is precious. A n d is a quality b e y o n d compare. (You handle e v e r y o n e , in the intro, including the thank you, with a delicate and exact courtesy. So y o u need have n o doubts, w h a t so-ever. Y o u can be quite full of confidence, in, yr notes. Y o u c o m e across v e r y very nicely. (I m e a n , example, the " p l u s s o m e notes of my o w n that i n a d v e r t e n t l y g o t i n t o the t e x t " n i c e , the w a y , that, inadvertently, poses, itself!) (O, ya: an ideaif you are g o i n g to keep the e p i g r a p h , i have a suggestion, to push it, to m a k e it w o r k , h a r d e r a n d to take off any curse of " w i s d o m s a y i n g " : that is, d r o p it, thus: " O m y son, arise f r o m t h y b e d w o r k w h a t is wise" Jesus, tho, h o w , the w h o l e thing is, IS. H o w it sets itself o u t there, straight. Direct. N o crap. Nice. Itself. (And that's y o u r doing, absolutely: it is a p r o u d biz, and y o u have the right of, pride. I a m so very v e r y d a m n e d glad abt it, d a m n e d , G L A D . That is (as above, the intros, others (peter russell, say) have to put their personalities out, y o u d o n ' t , yours, is already there, sharp, , clear, in the w h o l e t h i n g d e e p l y i m b e d d e d in e v e r y d a m n bit of the w h o l e piecethe w h o l e , m a g . It is very w o n d e r f u l , d a m n e d m u c h object (thus, disclosure, w i t h o u t , statements). T h i s is w h a t makes me so very excited abt you, abt, O R I G I N 1, as, here, it is, in m y h a n d ! (And, b y the w a y , tho, 1 suppose, it c a m e natural, like they say, yet, the use of italics, for the letters, giving that difference, is, very

d a m n e d g o o d , too A n d , so far as i have n o w read, the choice, of type face variants w i t h i n , the m a g , seem to m e to be allright (let m e , later, w h e n 1 have read it all, say, on this, eh?). B u t the ist impression is, the change of pace is, very p r o p e r . . . . O r are the variations simply, the e m quads, & sizes, not, face variants? I guess that's it, fr a quick study, eh? A n y w a y , it's nice; and the inking, by, w h o e v e r , is d a m n e d g o o d , t o o : is v e r y even t h r o u g h o u t w h i c h must, no?, be a sort of t r i u m p h w i t h , varitype, n o ?

O n e other d e m u r : (and i think it hinges on, t o o m a n y different type variants on one surface, and a small, i m m e d i a t e o n e at that) is, the C O V E R . Here, again, basically, it's fine, very, fine. B u t (1) (2) I'd give the dark o r i g i n m o r e space to itself d r o p the masking on the b o r d e r w h i c h , to m y eye, introduces a distractionthat is, such a simple straight space, presenting itself in one glance, gains (again) by, severity & f o r m a l i t y : (the bold 1 looks h a n d s o m e , i think Y o u are aware, I ' m sure, of h o w t h o r o u g h l y right the thing is, to have, as it has (the w h o l e mag) a density inside: the size of the page, plus the w a y the thing ( w i t h o u t i n t e r r u p t i o n of names) goes right abt its business, w i t h , the pages nice & thick (fr the small t y p e used). T h a t ' s very d a m n e d splendid, and rare, and makes, already, O R I G I N , a stand-out. Well, christ. It's a pleasure to w r i t e this to y o u . A n d there is n o t h i n g held back, lad. I've sd it all. All that I h a v e to say. So y o u see h o w t h o r o u g h l y you have d o n e yr j o b . D a m n e d w o n d e r f u l it is.

. . . I dare say e v e r y o n e will h o w l at y o u that there's j u s t t o o g o d d a m n e d m u c h olson (poor lad!). (I'm n o t sure I w o u l d n ' t myself, given that, he, to me, here, is all, or too m u c h of, one, say, tone, p o o r l a d ! B U T , fuck e m . For, it is R I G H T , w h a t y o u are d o i n g , R I G H T , to build by a m a n , instead of by, (as per usual), A B S T R A C T I O N S one n e w thing to c o m f o r t y o u , and, to give e m back, in their face, is, that Tatiana P r o u s k o u r i a k o f f , in, C L A S S I C M A Y A N A R T (Carnegie, just, recently)

inscription o n sculpture in all, all the w h o l e M a y a n area, IS B U I L T A R O U N D w h e r e there is a f i g u r e at allis built a r o u n d , the w h o l e business, the writing of the glyphs, the presentation of an offering, a n y t h i n g the inscription sets out to d o : O N E central H U M A N f i g u r e ! (no g o d , or abstract concept, n o "ideas", but ONE MAN!

so, fr the g o o d past, C O N FIRMATION!

I have just this m i n u t e read T H E S T O R Y O F , and take back w h a t 1 sd, that anyone shld object that, there is, t o o m u c h of, sd, creature. N O T A T ALL, god d a m n it. For, A D A M O M E , and this S T O R Y , stand u p g o d d a m n R I G H T ! 1 am most excited to see t h e m in print. For, t h e y are, there, w h a t , I damn well intended. A n d are, very m u c h , w h a t I w a n t . T h a t is, those t w o look, p r o u d , are, w h a t they are, definitely, hitting, the t w o things, the t w o , control points, the, j o b . By g o d , Cid, that y o u put those t w o in print is E N U F ! R i g h t there is, e n o u g h , right there. I am d a m n well v e r y beautifully pleased w i t h that, alone, those t w o , YES. And d o n ' t think it d i d n ' t take m e this one of a hell l o n g t i m e to get to the p o i n t to say this. A n d h o w i m p o r t a n t it is. So, that y o u m a d e it possible, by, g o i n g along to t h e m w i t h , yr taste, and, by yr taste plus the drive to m a k e the taste o u t there, you, have given m e this DISCOVERY W h i c h is (for m y m o n e y ) p r o o f that, 75 cents, is, exactly the right price! LOVE,

whom the sun & dust eats

47

thurs

may 3

51

lerma

cid! well, the wildness of it, is not gone, but, i can be, cooler, eh? that is, all that i sd last week abt the j o b y o u ' v e d o n e holds, f i r m , firmer in fact . . . take it this w a y : this m a g is yrs. you are the governance of each issue just as surely as each m a n or w o m a n in same is the g o v e r n a n c e of any p o e m or story by that m a n or w o m a n in it. a n d w h a t is perhaps the best w a y to get this across, each issue of yr m a g is, exactly, as a b o o k is: w i t h this t r e m e n d o u s difference, that, any b o o k is, fr start etc., clearly, all, the g o v e r n a n c e of the m a n w h o makes all the material in it the special p r o b l e m of an editor is, that, t h o he is the governance, the pieces, he is c o m p o s i n g , are, s o m e o n e else's (chiefly), in other w o r d s that he is the agent of a, collective, right? the result usually is, of course, that a magazine becomes an exercise of taste, that is, that it is the editor's taste w h i c h is that quality of his w h i c h dominates the g o v e r n a n c e and (the t o u g h one), because a literary magazine is, literary, inevitably it is his literary taste w h i c h , leads on, the, w h o l e effect, eh?

N o w . the d a m n a b l e thing abt this is, that, almost all writers are also essentially agents of, their, literary tastethat is, each p o e m or story tends t o w a r d a professionalism, tends to seem c o m p l e t e d by, the expression of, that part of, taste! In other w o r d s o n e comes to a fearful c o m p o u n d i n g : the character of the w o r k that comes to the h a n d of an editor is, chiefly, such, bits of, taste, and he in t u r n , b y w h a t you m i g h t call the compulsions of the vehicle of a magazine of the " c r e a t i v e " , is led on to compose, principally, by a like principle of, taste, eh?

N o w i take it there are only t w o ways out of this d i l e m m a . I d o n ' t , of course, g o for it, yet, I think any of us o u g h t to a d m i t that, w h a t N I N E isor was, in its b e g i n n i n g w a s a deliberate (& most english, u r b a n e decision, that, culture (not art, notice) is taste, and that, b y the king's grace, the w a y to m a k e a magazine is to be w h o l l y professional abt, taste (and that taste is precisely the inherited m o l d : w h y , for example, there is so m u c h of the Latin poets, in same, R o m e being, exactly, the predecessor of, L o n d o n as center of the n e w mercantilism (I am referring to Elizabethan L o n d o n , w h i c h , was the p r o j e c t o r of, w h a t w e

A&

call British c u l t u r e o f w h i c h same culture N I N E is as precise a n e w assertion of as is W i n s t o n C h u r c h i l l of feudal politics W h a t I a m u r g i n g o n you is, a w h o l l y different principle of, g o v e r n a n c e : simply, that, any given issue of O R I G I N , is, n o t a champ clos (!) of taste alone (which restsinevitablyon an assumption that the culture system is clear, its validities certain, and its values t o be d e p e n d e d on: a closed system) that a n y given issue o f O R I G I N will have m a x i m u m force as it is conceived b y its editor as a FIELD O F F O R C E

which brings us to the m a t : in w h a t w a y can a m a g a z i n e f o r the "creative" be at once the inevitable act of the taste of the e d i t o r and at the same time be, w h o l l y , inside itself, a, field of force? i, frankly, d o n ' t k n o w : that is, i take it O R I G I N is a b o u t the business of t r y i n g t o p r o v e exactly that p o i n t h o w it can be, m o r e than, a collection of, tastes, g o v e r n e d by, the taste of, cid c o r m a n , eh? but w h a t w e d o k n o w , already, is: O N E , that c o r m a n is ready to m a k e a mag w h i c h reads fr cover to cover (as y o u p u t it, so well, yrself, last fall) like a b o o k , e h ? that is, that, already, y o u are g o i n g o n a premise other than, taste ((this has to f o l l o w , if i am right, that, a m a g is not a b o o k , in that, it is n o t all o n e m a n ' s material O R I G I N is not also an a n t h o l o g y and O is n o t also, a magazine w i t h some, extraliterary purpose, that is, is n o t like so m a n y of those political hybrids of the 30's (Partisan R , as the last, to stick a r o u n d ) . O r o n e of the newest fads, like, say, N E U R O T I C A p s y c h i a t r y , e.g., being one of those latest diversions of, the b o d y , politick, w h i c h i n t r o d u c e false leaders into, this p r o b l e m of, a " c r e a t i v e " magazine

T W O : O is for the creative", that is, as yr subscriber n o t e so finely had it, "present & f u t u r e , o u r m o s t active p a r t i c i p a t i o n " and " t h a t the best of it builds fr, our, a r t s " i n other w o r d s , that, O , is O P E N (is n o t at all assuming that culture ( w h i c h is n o t art alone) is set

W h i c h (the w a y i keep recurring to, this opposition o f i n the m i n d behind O , or, any m a g t o d a y solving the p r o b l e m o t h e r t h a n say, N I N E ' s w a y

AO

this opposition of art & culture) seems to m e to offer us the clue, that is T H A T O R I G I N P R E S E N T S T H E S A M E P R O B L E M A S - I take it A POEM O R S T O R Y DOES, now: that, because it is O P E N , & it already implies that E N E R G Y is the source of, taste (which seems to be the w a y a m a n of art w o u l d see the relation of art to culture in contrast to the m a n of culture w h o sees art as spectator, and so, enjoys by w a y of, essentially, taste (his), alone) by the fact that y o u have s h o w n already that you are willing to risk an issue of yr magazine on O N E M A N or O N E C O N C E P T a daring thing, that, a mag like N I N E , or anyone of 'em, w o u l d only d o if, they rested on a m a n w h o m the taste or culture generally had taken to its b o s o m (an E Z no., say, or, a W C W , which is, finally, whatever its value, easy) because of these t w o guide wires, already in there, in the structurethe g i v e n o f O R I G I N that T H E D E M A N D O N Y O U , C I D C O R M A N , is, to accomplish each issueto see it, always, clearly, exhaustively, asA FIELD O F F O R C E

that is, that, as agent of this collective (which O R I G I N is going to be) the question is larger than, yr taste, alone: it is the same sort of confrontation asin any given p o e m a m a n faces: h o w m u c h energy has he got in, to m a k e the thing stand on its o w n feet as, a force, in, the fields of force w h i c h surround everyone of us, of which we, too, are forces: to stand F O R T H

This is getting to sound altogether too m u c h like the PV thing! And altogether t o o theoretical, g o d d a m n it, a d e m o n s t r a n d u m , ahead of time! But do not be put off, cid. W h a t I am getting at, is, that, y o u ' v e got one hell of a headache on yr head, and i am trying to give you the best of m y perception for, whatever use it m a y be, ahead. T h a t is, t w o things struck m e about O R I G I N i : that, because the space of a magazine is so (finally) small close a run of m a n y men & w o m e n ' s pieces (no matter h o w g o o d they are, if they are professional alone) tend to cancel each other out, that is, that you get something you never get w h e n you are inside one person's w o r k (a book, say), you get subjects, and even images, neutralizing each other! It's crazy, but, in fact, you get w h a t is the force of taste knocking itself out against the expression, next page, of another force of taste!

50

N o w , I d o n ' t in any sense, think this is faulteither theirs, or, yrs. It merely raises u p the w h o l e question, h o w , can o n e m a k e a m a g W O R K ? And, I get back to the n o t i o n thatas any live thingit is a question of how the units are j u x t a p o s e d so that t h e y declare (stand in the place of) the m a n w h o puts t h e m t o g e t h e r In other w o r d s , that, yr p r o b l e m as editor, is, to find out h o w to (omit, even!), what to p u t t o g e t h e r so that, each unit keeps its force and, at the same time, the w h o l e m a g lives it is this what, that puts the w h o l e thing, h a r d : questions
.
(

!,

) i n

the small space of an issue of a m a g frankly " f o r the creative", h o w m u c h variation of materials can o n e get in (does one have to keep in) to save all units f r o m m u t u a l cancellation? You already k n o w m y guesses as to roads t o w a r d , the a n s w e r : that is, the most obvious, is, to broaden the base and i d o n ' t m e a n simply to, say, all the arts. O n the contrary. I'd guess, that the answer here, is, has to be, Y O U : that is, for y o u to get in, to any given issue, as close to all the possible angles to a given issue that y o u can conceivably think o f w h i c h means that you yrself are the packed one, eh?

N o r d o I think it is as complicated as I m a k e it sound, if one could get to a series of principles for the g o v e r n a n c e of, any of us going in that c o m m o n direction, t o d a y And here again you k n o w m y o w n biases: that is, (i), k e e p clear of the insides of, any assumptions w h i c h are a part of, or colored by " W e s t e r n " , or " C h r i s t i a n " , history (2) w h i c h means most of o u r assumptions abt taste and " t h e aesthetics o f " any art (as proceeding fr, the Greeks, & first f o r m u l a t e d significantly by Aristotle, and Longinus, etc. (3) offset to 1 & 2, kinetics of c o n t e m p o r a r y physics, say, as m o r e healthful than, either of above, and of th e graphic as a better r u n n e r for the sleigh o r cart than, h u m a n i s m

Well, this is b e g i n n i n g to run d o w n . All I felt was, that, I o w e d you all m y first t h o u g h t s abt, the p r o b l e m s that, O R I G I N n o w p r e s e n t s n o w

if

that she is out there, to be seen, d o n e , bless y o u , and d a m n e d w o n d e r f u l l y ahead. A n d I o w e d it to y o u , s i m p l y because y o u h a v e already g o n e so f a r : in fact I rather t h m k the j o b is to push w h a t y o u h a v e already started (as to the devices o f presentation) e v e n f u r t h e r t h a t is, the one m a n , the b o o k , the j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f v a r y i n g materials, or v a r y i n g devices, thicken, thicken, P A C K , in o r d e r to set aside a n y l i n g e r i n g results o f " l i t e r a r y " or " a e s t h e t i c s " or " p r o f e s s i o n a l " o r d e r i n g s (what i h a v e here d u b b e d " T a s t e " dangers, and, in so d o i n g , seen as inherited culture patterns w h i c h , a m a g a z i n e d e v o t e d , as yrs is, to fresh energies, has to cut a w a y . . . .

52

lerma, c a m p e c h e , m e x i c o

[8 M a y 5 1 ]

. . . W e l l , lad, a m in a t u r m o i l , these days, w i t h , the necessity t o : move o n ! ( B l a c k M t has o f f e r e d m e the s u m m e r post, a g a i n a n d it is tempting, w i t h f r i e n d B e n S h a h n to be there in J u l y , and K a t y Litz, to be the dance lady the w h o l e t i m e : than w h o m , f r w h a t she has d o n e to m y lads & girls there, last s u m m e r , must be j u s t a b o u t the o n l y dancer there is, these days, w h o is m o v i n g , f o r w a r d : w h i c h is another idea, for origin, ahead: an investigation into, the w h o l e question o f , w h e r e is dance, as an art, n o w : it c o u l d be v e r y e x c i t i n g , and i cid get y o u stuff f r k a t y , & m e r c e C u n n i n g h a m , and m y b o y nick c e r n o v i c h (there) whose w o r k is the v e r y best i k n o w f r a m a n u n d e r 2 0 (verse, music, dance; he did a dance (quite w i t h o u t m y k n o w l e d g e ) to a p o e m o f mine on the death o f a g u y in a sub, w h i c h w a s b e a u t i f u l (this winter). And has p i c k e d up f r m e o n d r a m a as dance to d o a ( w h a t t h e y call a noh) dance, n o w . i don't

as well as (another tie, w h i c h , these g l y p h s ) j e s u s : y o u shld see what m o v e m e n t s , gestures, investivations o f nature these g l y p h s , contain! w e l l , f o r y o u , and delight still under the light o f O r i g i n % 1 !

Cs/

the b o d y as instrument

>
r

ijr 'Oft

,-n

T h a t is (written) dance as it is definitely the graphic of drama ( m i m e , as o n l y the b r o a d e r aspect o f gesture & , m o t i o n (voice (verse) as w o r k i n g against, & out o f , such, u n d e r m o t i o n dance as m o t i o n around l a n g u a g e d i c t u m : a n y p l a y e r is (has to be) 1st dancer

53

lerma cid:

m a y 18

t w o letters f r y o u just in, w h i c h , added to o n e last w e e k u n a n s w e r e d , m a k e it i m p e r a t i v e I at least tell y o u f o r y o u must excuse m e : i w a s asked n o w 1 2 days a g o to d o a statement o f w h a t i h a v e been up to here, and w h a t i w o u l d propose to d o if i w a s g i v e n m o n e y a n d g o d help m e there is n o t h i n g harder in this life f o r m e to d o than to m a k e such statementsand n o w , the p r o b l e m is e v e n greater than it e v e r w a s , s i m p l y because m y o w n prose w a y s (say, G & C ) h a v e to be b r o k e n back to the universe o f discourse, and that, is unbearable s o night & d a y i try and try to state the thing, and it b o g g l e s , is not what i want ( y o u see, it has not been sufficiently o b s e r v e d , p a r t i c u larly in o u r o w n time, that reason & the art o f c o m p a r i s o n are a stage w h i c h a m a n must master, but, are not w h a t o u r w o r l d takes t h e m to be, final discipline: they w e a r the false face. F o r b e y o n d t h e m is direct perception and contraries, w h i c h dispose o f a r g u m e n t . B u t such a m o v e m e n t f o r w a r d is v e r y difficult f o r a rational society to c o m p r e h e n d , i m p l y i n g , as it does, a circular concept o f life. T h a t is, the h a r m o n y o f the universe is not logical, or, better, is post- or supra-logical. A s is the o r d e r o f any created things. I a m m o s t impatient w i t h a r g u m e n t & logic, not because i do not believe in s a m e i n fact I trained m y s e l f f r o m the age o f 1 4 o n , in just such, until, b y 20, i w a s starting to w a l k d o w n (as a letter carrier, thus, w i t h m u c h chance to w a l k d o w n ! ) the appetites w h i c h a r g u m e n t & reason create. B u t to this v e r y d a y I h a v e not b r o k e n b e y o n d to a n y t h i n g like a sustained life in the universe b e y o n d the universe o f discourse (and I d o n ' t mean at all any asiatic passivism). 1 m e a n that there is a t e m p t a t i o n ot the m i n d w h i c h also has to be t h r o w n back, t h r o w n , in. In fact, L a w r e n c e , here, is the o n e to the p o i n t t h a t , he saw the temptation, and put the m i n d back in to the pot. I h a v e fed as m u c h o n a r e m a r k o f B l a k e ' s as on any single r e m a r k o f any m a n : O p p o s i t i o n s are not true contraries.

W e l l , lad, just to let y o u k n o w , to thank y o u f o r all y r n e w s , to tell y o u I g a v e y o u , in m y list, the best store o f possible m o n e y s i could, and to u r g e y o u not to be d i s c o u r a g e d : I think y o u are w a y out ahead o f w h a t is the usual invasion o f the A m e r i c a n l e t h a r g y in such m a t t e r s . . . . A n d please keep the letters c o m i n g at m e , e v e n if it means o n l y , that y o u wish to g r o a n a l o u d !

54

[lerma]
Cid-

Monday

M a y 28

y r fine letter has just c o m e in, and because t o d a y only, n o w f o r three w e e k s , h a v e I not been at this report (it is n o w s o m e t h i n g f o r the gods o n l y to sit to, as B o a r d , o f T r u s t e e s ! o r I should send it to y o u for Origin! truth is, t h o u g h it has been straight s u f f e r i n g , because it is both t o o early & too late to d o it, yet, in the d o i n g , I h a v e straightened out several p r o b l e m s o f g l y p h p r o c e d u r e , & o f application o f m y o w n aesthetic generally the art o f the l a n g u a g e o f g l y p h s IS m o t i o n in time on stone picked up sore throat, had bad night, & t o d a y a m dosed w i t h 666 "seis seis seis" says the ball g a m e s , broadcast, here instead o f sharp sharp sharp so I take this m o m e n t (not k n o w i n g , the w a y 1 s t u b b o r n l y refuse to discharge this petition until i h a v e m a n a g e d to poise it e x a c t l y b e t w e e n m e , & them, like y o u say, directly O r e g o n , I think, was, if y o u k n o w o r e g o n like I k n o w o r e g o n , y o u ' d , I think, think that it is still (the coast!) strangely f r o n t i e r , w h e r e , a streetcar is as it w a s w h e n it w a s N E W , a l o v e l y T o y , o p e n car, seats crosswise all the w i d t h , "Today," w i t h a radio in e v e r y car, & all w h i t e satin like the finest shit, f o r b u r y i n g the the p o i n t is delighted to hear y o u w i l l be setting m e in there, 2, w i t h lad B o b s' yes, d o put A P o - s y . . . f o r one thing I think the p o e m will teach these f o o l s , this w h i c h the others should teach t h e m (especially the g u y w h o thot I thot I w a s pulling o f f s o m e r e e - v o l t ( i n g ) to tell a tone f r o m a pose, e h ? a POZY! l o v e that little one f o r , its g a y e t y , tho C o n (mia esposa f r o m the first sd, she liked it cause, personally bitter\

Please w r i t e . A n d it w i l l reach me. m u y amable. Siempre

C a r l o s , the carrier here is

56

lerma

June 10

Cid: T h a n k y o u . G l a d y o u w r o t e m e here. F o r I stay o n . M y reason n o w is, w o r k o f m y o w n . Verse. O r the h o p e f o r s a m e : a feeling that, if I idle, s o m e t h i n g is m a k i n g . O n e n e v e r k n o w s , but, w h e n I h a v e this sort of f e e l i n g a n t i c i p a t i o n I o b e y . It p r o b a b l y means I shall not get o v e r to M e x i c o , that, instead, I shall g o directly f r o m here to B l a c k M t ( w h e r e I am tentative d u e J u l y 8th: they h a v e asked m e to d o the s u m m e r w r i t i n g job, and f o r s o m e crazy reason I w a n t t o p e r h a p s it is the fact that B e n Shahn and K a t y Litz w i l l be there, too. A s w e l l that several o f the m e n and w o m e n w h o m I t o o k fresh n o w three years a g o w i l l be w i n d i n g up next yearand there are a c o u p l e o f them w h o m I think y o u yrself will be interested in soon. It is n o w a m o n e y q u e s t i o n : tare.

Let me hold o f f o n a n s w e r i n g y o u on the g l y p h s f o r just a bit, until I set it all f o r m a l l y d o w n f o r y o u , as a g o , f o r O r i g i n , e h ? I a m a n x i o u s to do it, but I shall need the second d r i v e here (in the fall, I h o p e a n d that time, in G u a t e m a l a and at C o p a n ) . B u t there is o n e shot b r o k e on me this w e e k . I had p i c k e d up, the d a y b e f o r e , f r o m a dealer, a carved animal snout w i t h the o r i g i n a l red paint o n it. I think it w a s that piece which m a d e m y leap c o m e . F o r y o u m a y recall that the w o r s h i p o f Priapus in the M e d i t e r r a n e a n civilization i n c l u d e d the p a i n t i n g o f the huge phalluses w h i c h w e r e centered in gardens, & b y the roads, red. At the same time y o u m a y also r e m e m b e r that G r e e k sculpture in the round appears to h a v e e m e r g e d f r o m the herms, the single heads o f Hermes w h i c h w e r e at crossroads & such in earliest G r e e c e . N o w these herms, the assumption is, w e r e o r i g i n a l l y phalluses, w h i c h , as sophistication c a m e o n , w e r e r o u n d e d , at the glans penis, into heads, H e r m e s head p r e d o m i n a n t l y . It is difficult to r e i f y this, n o w , because n o n e o f us, n o w , find it easy to take a phallus as an i m a g e (1 h a v e a h u n c h w e reverse the ancients, and make m e t a p h o r s out o f bananas and such rather than, as they, m a k e the phallus, in a sense, a m e t a p h o r . F o r m y a s s u m p t i o n is that they took the p h a l l u s & s e x a s s i m p l y m a n ' s m o s t i m m e d i a t e w a y o f k n o w i n g nature's p o w e r s a n d the handiest i m a g e o f that p o w e r . For example, to m a k e this point o n e needs also to keep in m i n d the t r e m e n d o u s i m a g e that a snake w a s ( s o m e d a y , h a v e a l o o k at lane H a r r i s o n ' s plates o f the snake, & Z e u s , in her P R O L O G O M E N A T O G R E E K R E L I G I O N . She shies a w a y f r o m the full i m p o r t , but, e n o u g h is there to recognize that the snake, and the phallus w e r e , together, o f i m m e n s e resonance f o r early Mediterranean m a n ( w h i c h , as y o u k n o w , I take to be e v i d e n c e that, t h r o u g h Sumeria, the same w a s true f o r all man's earliest civilization.) Now. W h a t turns out to b e a g a i n t h e hidden thing here ( ( w h y do these historians hide such matters? Ezra can c r y that h i s t o r y leaves out the

manipulations o f credit, and I w i l l agree, but w h a t seems to m e an e v e n m o r e o v e r w h e l m i n g erasure is, the h i d i n g o f sex as f o r c e t h r o u g h s o m e p h o n e y Christian concept o f pudor)), is the multiple e v i d e n c e o f the i m p o r t a n c e o f the phallus in the city life o f the MAYA

((it is but another m a r k o f the e x t r a o r d i n a r y intellectual clarity o f the N e w E n g l a n d e r s o f 1 8 3 5 - 1 8 5 5 that it is in J o h n Stephens' description o f U x m a l (in his " T r a v e l s in Y u c a t a n " , 1 8 4 3 w h i c h I w o u l d suggest y o u read f o r the direct pleasure o f s a m e ) that I f o u n d the most i m p o r t a n t clue o f all rather, I had f o u n d it m y s e l f at U x m a l , and, in t r y i n g to f i n d a n y o n e w h o r e p o r t e d same, the o n l y m a n w h o m I did find w a s S t e p h e n s a n d since he " f o u n d " the place m o r e e x a m p l e s o f these h u g e phalluses centered to the f r o n t o f the most i m p o r t a n t b u i l d i n g s t h e G o v e r n o r ' s Palace, and the so-called N u n H o u s e w e r e then standing than I c o u l d n o w find W h a t m a k e s this i m p o r t a n t is, that U x m a l is later, rather, that these b u i l d i n g s are late (for at b o t h U x m a l , and C h i c h e n Itza, in w h a t is n o w called the " o l d " parts, there are literally phallic t e m p l e s a t U x m a l , f o r e x a m p l e , the funniest thing o f a l l t h e y used phalluses f o r rain spouts! gargoyles!! B u t the phalluses I r e f e r to, and Stephens does, are late, are not direct phallic repros, but are h u g e m o n o l i t h s , o b v i o u s l y central to the public life as late as 1 2 0 0 A D

W h i c h gets m e h o m e . F o r w h a t I am n o w b e g i n n i n g to think is, that the stelae ( y o u called t h e m t o t e m poles, w h i c h they also are): and w h a t are t o t e m poles?) are herms\ That, sometime about 3 0 0 m a y b e earlier if, as I also surmise, all this use o f erected m o n o l i t h s f o r record in stone w a s p r e c e d e d b y same m o n u m e n t s in wood ((again, the relation to earliest G r e e c e t h e w o o d E , at Delphi)) (((this w h o l e w o o d question is t r e m e n d o u s l y i m p o r t a n t , and also, like sex, d u c k e d b y the investigators: f o r it explains the complicated & ornate c a r v i n g o f stone at the v e r y b e g i n n i n g o f the g l y p h art, and it also explains w h y the M a y a painted their stones t h r o u g h o u t their history))) a n y w a y , that, v e r y early, the M a y a transposed the phallus to the stela: it accounts f o r one thing n o o n e has sd m u c h a b o u t , that the stela w e r e w o r s h i p p e d o n e o f the earliest o f all, at U a x a c t u n , is all b u r n e d f r o m the copal o f f e r i n g s laid at its base! as w e l l as it accounts f o r t w o other things

( i ) that the stelae are g i v e n a principal place in the architectural p l a n are placed w h e r e the h u g e phalluses are at U x m a l ; and (2) that they are usually related to " a l t a r s " o f their o w n , w h e r e , a p p a r e n t l y , s o m e sort o f rites w e r e d o n e

This is almost all n e w stuff, so far as I h a v e been able to check. O f course it may be that I a m o n l y the first o n e to put it in w r i t i n g h i s t o r i a n s usually k n o w ing m o r e than they say, t h e r e b y i n v a l i d a t i n g their responsibility to others, & m a k i n g t h e m creatures to be d a m n e d . A n d y o u must a l l o w m e to say these thing: to y o u tentatively, until I h a v e been to m o r e sites, & seen w i t h m y o w n eyes what they d o n ' t tell m e are there. B u t the h a r m o n y o f these observations to experience e l s e w h e r e m a k e s sense o f them. ((I m e a n t , a b o v e , to m a k e the point that, the suppression o f all such i n f o r m a t i o n is o n e o f the reasons w h y poor L a w r e n c e , w h o w a s actually o n l y another accurate m a n , w a s heaped w i t h so m u c h i n f a m y b y the hiders and the prurient.)) T h e other thing w h i c h interested m e in y r letter, w a s y r o b s e r v a t i o n that good prose w a s n o t c o m i n g in. It m a d e its point the m o r e o n m e that I had, this w e e k , read all o f N e w Directions X I I . N o w I d o n o t mean to m a k e too much o f N D . B u t as a s a m p l i n g o f present prose it r e i n f o r c e s an impression I have had bearing also on w h a t y o u y r s e l f say abt the y o u n g e r m e n . D i d B o b ever happen to s h o w y o u the i n t r o d u c t o r y notes i did o n narrative in re his stories called O U T S I D E , I N S I D E ? N o t that it matters, o n l y , there, I had sd, that I t o o k it that n o w , prose narrative had to g o o n l y either o f t w o w a y s . And what impresses m e is, that every piece in L a u g h l i n ' s is either standing still (the realism, o f L o w e r y , o f an able y o u n g g u y n a m e d J o h n L a w s o n , o f an equally able Italian n a m e d M o n i c e l l i a l l o f w h i c h is that " p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l i s m " w h i c h M e l v i l l e should h a v e called a halt on, that S t e n d h a l and the others after h i m had d o n e up e n o u g h ) o r it is d o w n r i g h t reactionary. A n d it is this latter class o f stuff w h i c h d e e p l y discloses the conditions w h i c h , I ' d bet, are leaving y o u w i t h o u t a n y prose to print. F o r most o f N D X I I is m a d e up o f narrative w h i c h is nothing m o r e than de Maupassant (Elliot Stein's C o n f e s s i o n s o f a Y o u n g Insomniac), n e c r o p h i l i s m (bad P o e : Paul B o w l e s ' D o n a Faustinaand, a curious c o m b i n a t i o n o f s a m e &r realism, J o h n H a w k e s ' D e a t h o f an A i r m a n ) , and W W J a c o b s ' T h e M o n k e y ' s C l a w ! (perhaps the most skillful o f all, J a c k D u n p h y ' s U n d e r the A f r i c a n Trees). I m e a n , literally, that the forms o f narrative h a v e reacted b a c k f r o m the advances o f J o y c e , say, to these earlier & p o o r e r m e n , and at the s a m e time, the substance is w i t h o u t any o f the rationale w h i c h m a d e de Maupassant, P o e , and J a c o b s excusable. F o r these m e n a l l , m o r e o r less, creatures o f Tennessee W i l l i a m s ' i n v o c a t i o n a r e d u c k i n g their o w n times, and c h o o s i n g to m a k e p u b l i c their o w n psychic derangements as t h o u g h t h e y w e r e thus p r o v i n g the t i m e ! W h i c h , o f course, is not so m u c h their fault as that other m e n are not s h o w i n g t h e m up f o r w h a t the)

59

areas y o u k n o w , I think B o b is the only n a r r a t i v e w r i t e r I k n o w n o w at w o r k w h o is d o i n g just that, w h o is a responsible w r i t e r .

T h e w o r s t g r o u p o f reaction therein is the d e r i v a t i v e o f K a f k a a n d w h e n anythin is not b y K a f k a it c o m e s out most like T h o m a s M a n n ! T h e classic o f this, in N D X I I , is a Philip S i e k e v i t z ' s T h e F i s h g o o d j e s u s g o d , y o u should read that! all about the river B i o s ! ow. A n d , o f course, there is existenz: Maurice T o e s c a ' s Indirect Suicide.

W e l l , no use saying m o r e . Just n o t h i n g in the w h o l e collection: n o t h i n g . A n d w h a t a c o m m e n t that is. B u t d o n ' t g i v e up y r o w n resistance. F o r I should reinforce y o u : y o u should, rather, be surprised if y o u get any prose narrative except f r o m B o b ! N o t that y o u w o n ' t get it. B u t y o u w i l l h a v e to be patient. N a r r a t i v e w r i t i n g is, at the m o m e n t , w h o l l y w a i t i n g f o r the advance of verse. O n l y the poets n o w can pull the narrative writers ahead. T h e situation o f 1 9 1 0 (post-Flaubert) is reversed, as w e l l as the plane has shifted. T h e n it w a s quite true w h a t F o r d first said, and Ezra g a v e circulation t o : that verse should be at least as w e l l w r i t t e n as prose. T h e r e v o l u t i o n has d o n e its w o r k . T h e proposition n o w is, that prose must handle narrative by j u x t a p o s i t i o n as accurate as verse. F o r all narrative n o w is h u n g up o n the question o f content : h o w to m a n a g e reality b y other means than (1) the p s y c h o l o g i c a l , (2) the p s y c h i c as the n i g h t - o f - t h e - s o u l ( w h i c h c o m e s out shit & necrophilism, d u e to psychoanalysis inadequately transposed b y inaccurate writers), (3) external, or social reality, w h i c h c o m e s out either H e m i n g w a y i s m ( L o w e r y & his s c h o o l t h e p h o n e y A m e r i c a n cinematic realism, d o c u m e n t in the false sense, but w h i c h is, e v e n at that, the most p o w e r f u l thing w e are g e t t i n g : an e x a m p l e , here, is W i l l i a m I n g e , w h o , in N D X I I , has a j o b o f b o b b y - s o x a u t o g r a p h hunters called " F o r B o b o l i n k , f o r her S p i r i t " the t w i n to w h i c h I read in a F e b r u a r y Sat E v e Post! or, s o m e social realism, the K a f k a M a n n R o s e n f e l d s t u f f t h e flight f r o m c o m m u n i s m i n t o a Graustark n e v e r neve land.

N o , d o n ' t be d i s c o u r a g e d . A l l o w a f e w poets to get their w o r k d o n e in y r page and then prose will b e g i n to c o m e in. In fact O r i g i n 2, b y w a y o f C r e e l e y , ough to b e g i n the push. G i v e that issue a w h i l e to get a r o u n d , and s o m e characters s o m e w h e r e w i l l see w h a t he's up to w i t h his conjecture. F o r C r e e l e y is the push beyond Lawrence. A n d L a w r e n c e is the only predecessor w h o can carry narrative ahead. ((i w o u l d be interested, f o r e x a m p l e , to hear f r o m y o u if any mss y o u h a v e received s h o w s a n y learning f r L a w r e n c e . ) ) Well, for today. A n d thanks. Y o u can't i m a g i n e h o w m u c h j o y I h a v e that

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y o u are planning to put P o - S y in there (and not the least o f the reasons is, that, there, there are relations to the a b o v e p r o b l e m s h o w y o u g i v e man m o t i o n in terms o f his story (((( one quick n o t e : m o t i o n is not time. T h a t is, at each o f its extremes, t i m e takes on m o r e the nature o f space. Y o u f o r g e t they are o n e : space-time. A n d that, d e p e n d i n g on the position and the mass of either, w e read t h e m m o r e one or the other. F o r e x a m p l e , past time, at its outer l i m i t s o r present time, e . g . , stretched at night b y starsdoes not, to o u r senses, m o v e . T h e extension is so great that, g i v e n the l a w o f o u r senses, the effect islike a d e s i g n instantaneous, and thus, because w e take it in at once, is, static t h o u g h this is a false w o r d , and if I replace it b y plastic, I think y o u w i l l see m o r e clearly w h a t I intend. F o r e x a m p l e , circular motion (or cyclical) is plastic, as against t i m e as a progression ( ( h o w f r i g h t f u l l y i m p o r t a n t the absence o f this comprehension is, is the case o f Eberhart, w h o can say to y o u I am repetitious. I recently read m a n y pages o f h i m , and f o u n d not one phrase or line w h i c h w a s his o w n i n the sense that, it was this man, & n o other, disclosing his experience. O n the contrary, his " v a r i e t y " is m e r e eclecticism, a r u n n i n g o v e r o f things b y a series o f cliches w h i c h l i k e a n y c l i c h e c o m e f r o m other m e n . E . g . , n o r h y t h m i c perception w h a t s o e v e r . H e has n e v e r learned lesson # i : that he w h o has r h y t h m has the universe.)) A n d w h e n I sd m o t i o n in time on stone I meant that at this e x t r e m e t h e instanttime is inseparable f r o m space, and so an individual g l y p h is seized b y the e y e in such a small interval o f time that one can speak o f it as m o t i o n inside of time it is the g l y p h - b l o c k , and w h o l e stone that, like a relief, or a m u r a l , or a C h i n e s e scroll, has to be measured in t i m e t h e e y e has to m o v e n a r r a t i v e l y I press in w i t h this because the w h o l e reason w h y y o u are not getting prose narrative is i n v o l v e d w i t h this p r o b l e m : writers are terribly behindhand, in not d i s c o v e r i n g , as C a v a l c a n t i discovered the physics of light in his time, the i m p o r t a n t bearing o n their o w n w o r k o f the relativism o f space-timc conccpt.

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Lerma, M y dear C i d :

Sunday,

J u n e 1 7 (?)

Well. I ' m shooting along to y o u a s p r o m i s e d w h a t l o o k s like the first result o f w o r k , eh? A curious one, but it w a s d a m n e d f u n to w r i t e (and a d a m n g o o d feeling it w a s to h a v e O r i g i n there to be w r i t i n g it t o w a r d , I can tell you). If y o u like it, and it sits there a w h i l e , I dare say I w i l l w a n t to put m y hand on to it again (as I did w i t h G & C ) . B u t I w a n t y o u to h a v e it n o w , to h a v e a l o o k i n a n y case, to be y o u r s b a c k , f o r the part y o u p l a y e d in it, telling m e that prose w a s w h a t y o u w e r e m i s s i n g ! and that y o u w e r e g o i n g to study p h i l o s o p h y this s u m m e r !

D o write. M i s s hearing f r o m y o u . A n d I think n o w I can be pretty d e f i n i t e : w e will hang on here, the m o n e y is so g o n e , until just a b o u t J u l y 2 n d or 3rd, w h e n o u r expectation is that w e can get a free ride b y l u m b e r boat o v e r to Pensacola. F r o m there w e will drag ourselves b y bus direct to B l a c k M t . T h e y h a v e asked m e to return, as I guess I told y o u , to d o their s u m m e r w r i t i n g j o b . A n d as I h a v e n o other w a y to support m y s e l f , I will. O n top o f that, it turned out I had to be affiliated w i t h s o m e institution in o r d e r to get a crack at the stake I h o p e to h a v e to return here S e p t e m b e r 1st, or thereabouts, to continue the g l y p h b o o k a n d to get y o u all the S a n c h e z stuff, b o t h f o r O and f o r the e x h i b i t i o n . S o y o u can reach m e here up to almost the 1st, and, thereafter, Black M t College, Black Mt., N o r t h Carolina.

Funniest d a m n thing, the w a y it has all w o r k e d out. W i l l hate to leave h e r e : w e are n o w getting the i n c r e m e n t . A l l the p e o p l e k n o w us, s o m e are our friends. Spanish is n o w usable, and if I could stay right on, the M a y a w o u l d c o m e roaring h o m e . A n d all the pleasures o f being a part o f one's a m b i e n c e is flooding in. It is v e r y g o o d . W e l l , here, O l s o n , and his

affections

the question o f act 1 st determinant o f value acts are value [mss o f " H u m a n U n i v e r s e " enclosed]

lerma, j u l y 3 cid. N e x t to last d a y . A n d I h a v e t w o f u l l s o m e letters o f yrs in front of m e i n c l u d i n g a q u o t e f r S a n t a y a n a (the 2nd) w h i c h 1 h a v e taken something f r o m , d o n ' t k n o w w h a t . B u t it swirls in those places 1 e n j o y , eh? and y o u w e r e acute, to shoot it to me. m y thanks, f o r it and all. W h a t y o u repeat, is this biz, o f m o n e y s f o r # 4 , and it stays on m y m m d , tho w h a t help i can be in such matters, b e y o n d w h a t I did in g i v i n g y o u m y o w n friends, f o r l e v y , 1 d o n ' t k n o w , l o o k : i h a v e been thinking about it, and tho i h a v e n ' t c o m e up w i t h a n y t h i n g v e r y bright, let m e talk abt it: a b o v e all, d o n ' t get d i s c o u r a g e d , b y subscriptions or b y such silence as the heaviest o f all, the p o u n d ' s , f o r m a y b e y o u yrself d o n ' t r e m e m b e r what a push O R I G I N is, h o w far it does g o a w a y f r o m w h a t has been. A n d that it's f o r c e , shall h a v e to gather its o w n w a y behind it. T h e y w o n ' t come running, any of them. B u t m y o w n i m p r e s s i o n a n d it's not merely f r o m the ride y o u are g i v i n g m e m y o w n serious impression is, that y o u are literally the m a g w h i c h w a s called f o r , and w h i c h does s h o w already the push b e y o n d w h a t has been. ( E x : set yrself against N I N E , and see h o w , instead o f , as they, and the tendency o f all the n e w A m e r i c a n magazines, is reactionary, is back t o w a r d tradition, and a w h o l e series of cliche positionsand at such a time. T y p i c a l l y , political, in their sources! that is, d o n ' t be f e a r f u l o f 4 b e f o r e n o v e m b e r , n o matter h o w m u c h y o u are right to push n o w , f o r 4 f o r e x a m p l e , # 2 should ride y o u further, w h a t w i t h B o b ( w h o is certainly the m o s t i m p o r t a n t narrative w r i t e r to c o m e on in one hell o f a t i m e , and is, to m y taking, the push b e y o n d L a w r e n c e w h i c h is s o m e t h i n g , f o r certainly P o u n d and L a w r e n c e m o r e and m o r e stand up as the h u g e t w o o f the 1st half o f the 20th c e n t u r y . . . you see, w i t h 2 or 3 issues out, y o u w i l l be seen to be a serious character (i a m speaking f r o m all b u y e r s ' hesitancies, not f r o m m y s e l f 1 k n o w y o u are, but t h e y t h e y h a v e seen t o o m a n y little m a g s p o p up, suddenly start c o m i n g at l o n g intervals, and die: b y getting $ 2 out J u l y 1 5 , on schedule, and $ 3 O c t o b e r 1 5 , y o u w i l l h a v e already s h o w n t h e m y o u mean business, and it is just about then that they w i l l h a v e to take y o u seriously, and that subs should rise (the fall, t o o , and all t h a t ) . . .

H a v e written N a n c y L e o n a r d , saying, fer chrissake, see C i d gets M R i . F o r if y o u d o n ' t k n o w K i n g f i s h e r s y o u d o n ' t h a v e a starter! A n d In cold H e l l k n o w that? it's the big brother o f F o r S a p p h o - and I am so d a m n e d mad it has stayed dead in E m e r s o n ' s hand f o r a y e a r , it is e n o u g h to lead m e to the courts! F o r I can't think o f a n y t h i n g outside y o u r p u r v i e u I should rather h a v e y o u h a v e ! A n d y o u shall h a v e T H E C A U S E (the one I sd I w a s h o l d i n g f o r y o u : just let m e keep it a little l o n g e r i t ' s a sort o f fetish. A n d the t w o l o n g ones

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I h a v e already sent y o u , in the past c o u p l e o f w e e k s , plus H U , let y o u k n o w 1 am alive, e h ? . .

E v e n paper done in! w e h a v e f i g u r e d things so close! W h a t a time it has b e e n h o l d i n g , w a i t i n g f o r w o r d s , letters, e v e n f o r c h e c k s a n d g o i n g along d o w n to the v e r y e d g e o f this l o w - l y i n g boat n o w sitting there ( w e can see it, f r o m our patio! w h a t a w a y to travel f r o m yr o w n front d o o r , direct!) w a i t i n g to take us o n w i t h the rest o f the lumber. A n d keep c o m i n g at m e , there, B M C :

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cuesday

july 17

please bear w i t h m e a short time m o r e a l l y r g o o d mail is in hand ( L e r m a , and here) and 1 am o n l y p r e v e n t e d b y t w o things (1) that, w o r k i n g into the loss ot time w o r k i n g f o r o u r b o a r d and r o o m takes, is cutting m e d o w n o n the chances to w r i t e y o u & (2) that the a b o v e is true o n l y because the pace ot m y o w n w r i t i n g o f J u n e continues: so i h a v e to r o b y o u as C i d in o r d e r to pay y o u as E d ! I AM REWRITING HU FOR been at it since a r r i v a l s i n c e last t h u r s d a y i n & o u t a n d just because if, find it m o r e and m o r e m y base, m y b e d r o c k , it is the harder and the m o r e interesting! so, take this, as sign, and please keep it c o m i n g at m e : as well as origin 2 a s w e l l , if y o u could spare it, fragmente (which i w o u l d r e t u r n : n o sign or w o r d o f m y o w n c o p y a n y w h e r e ! ) will be back on, directly YOU

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[BMC

24 J u l y 5 1 ]

CID C O R M A N ,

EDITOR,

ORIGIN

I h a v e just t w o minutes a g o finished reading Miss H o s k i n s ' l o v e l y sad (and as sad, w r o n g ) but l o v e l y p o e m . S i n c e then I h a v e t h u m b t a c k e d y o u r dollar bill ( n o w m y dollar bill) o n m y w a l l at m y b a c k alongside the chart o f the G u l f o f M e x i c o and adjoining lands the skipper o f the Bennestvet B r o v i g sent m e f o r a present. A n d I am about to say this: that if y o u ain't the god damn best editor since w h e n (since e v e r such leading on a dance o f mss, such a m a n to c o m p o s e a collective? w h e r e , has there been, such a m a n as C i d cormancorem a n (choreagos) ? G o d , it m o v e s m e , this issue ( m o r e , surely, m o r e , it is, m o r e than in just this, plus, that, here, this C r e e l e y , this w o n d e r lad, is the w h o l e s h o w g o d , h o w , so far (not all yet read) h o w , his S U M M E R and his N O T E S y o u see, C i d , I w o u l d send y o u back the dollar . . I w o u l d send y o u millions. . . . I d o not k n o w w h y the w o r l d does not see that here, this O R I G I N , b y the hand o f (the taste o f . . the w i l l o f this c o r m a n IS w h a t is it to be c o m p a r e d to? I grant, that, because it is ( y o u must p e r m i t us to say this pride, too) ours, i a m s o m e w h a t blind. Sure. B U T , I h a v e a l s o d o n o t l o s e m y j u d g m e n t (cannot, it has taken t o o m a n y years to be even floated o f f in this j o y y o u h a v e n o w t w i c e g i v e n m e a n d this # 2 is e v e n a greater j o y f o r m e : w h y , I honestly think, because y o u h a v e here cleaned d o w n to, such clean mss, and, m y lad, h o w , he shines, eh? f o r e x a m p l e , this miss hoskins mss is the finest o f hers (you are right to think so), so delicate, so sad, so, w r o n g . . . and w e r e one creeley and one olson e v e r j o i n e d beforeor shall t h e y ever be so j o i n e d again, the fall o f the C O C K , just, w h e r e y o u h a v e laid it in, b e t w e e n others, thus poised, r i g h t l y , o f f C r e e l e y , and yet, b e t w e e n h i m m o r e than b e t w e e n these others? (I cannot see h o w , that piece, o f mine, could, placed as y o u h a v e placed it, c a r r y , a n y m o r e p o w e r , g o i n g , as it goes straight f r o m w h e r e our lad, in S U M M E R , goes f r L a w r e n c e d o e s not there yet k n o w w h a t L a w r e n c e does, in w h a t I h a v e sd reads to m e m o r e true n o w than w h e n I sd i t b u t is g o i n g , w h e n , after his N O T E S ( w h i c h c o m e s

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handily, f r S U M M E R and m y C O C K , f o l l o w i n g after them) he will, he does, he can, he w i l l and h o w he will m o v e o n e v e n f r o m L a w r e n c e , in M R B L U E , the b e g i n n i n g o f , his full seizure o f , A C T I O N (his d o o r , he is t h r o u g h it, the d o o r o f S U M M E R , the d o o r o f the q u a d r a n g l e t w o sides of w h i c h , the t w o sides w h i c h had to be measured b y h i m first, and are now here m e a s u r e d : time, & m e m o r y h o w , he has mastered this opening o f , such a m a n as he, his house (I must m a k e tale & point here, o f a r e m a r k a b l e accident o f t y p e w h i c h I also insist y o u t o o k account o f , y o u r c o m p o s i n g , is o f such an o r d e r : pages 74 and 75 lie together as t h o u g h a g o d w a l k e d across them And t h o u g h C a n t a r de N o i t , and the B e r e a v e d , are o f an for m y taste ( w h o sd, paint that smells o f paint?) ((I say, by h a v i n g the sense, the c o m m o n f r u i t f u l sense, g o d l o v e the G O A T L E T T E R m y g o d , doesn't he say it to y o u , didn't say it to m e , or a n y b o d y , h o w , e x a c t l y , it d r o p s ! ) ) o r d e r too poetic

y o u save all y o u , to put as, surely, he

((I h a v e left fr p 1 1 0 to later, just, because, t w o times n o w , it has been an ultimate pleasure to lie d o w n o n that bed and read this magazine o f y o u r o w n m a k i n g . . . y e s t e r d a y , and n o w again t o d a y , in the midst o f w o r k (some o f it c o n t i n u i n g to g o o n w i t h H U , f o r y o u , the next), to k n o c k o f f , and take up this pretty thing (((the colors o f the c o v e r are, so m u c h m o r e attractive, this t i m e a n d again, i like y o u r personal note, & find also y o u r characterizations or, locations, o f y r people m u c h i m p r o v e d

m y G O D , C I D , has a n y one told y o u , w h a t a hell o f a w o n d e r f u l leading on o f his o w n w o r k it is to h a v e it l o o k i n g like this? I w i l l , then, f o r one tell y o u , that the c o m p a n y y o u cause m e to k e e p t h e w a y y o u put all o f us d o w n t o g e t h e r t h e quality o f w h a t y o u put d o w n beside m e makes m e d r i v e on H U w i t h a different d r i v e , w i t h m o r e , e v e n , than I, alone, . . . w i t h this publication ahead, y o u cause m e to tone up even m y o w n toned up w i l l ! so w h y shldn't I ask, w h e r e , w a s there e v e r such, an editor, w h e r e ? (as F o r d , f o r D H L , & E z , and H a r d y , those first days, the English R e v i e w ? w h i c h seems to m e to spot y o u , if there is a spot (and y o u ' d well guess, I d o n ' t e v e n think those d a y s w e r e d a y s as crucial as our o w n ! )

if there is any g a u g e o f w h a t y o u are here d o i n g , i doubt there is, f o r to put a P E R K O F F beside c and me, by g o d , w h o , has had that w i d t h except well, only poets, the finest, have, such a sense for, the proper juxtaposition, the w o r l d taste to, keep it this lean and m a k e it f a t ! to make a hell o f the proper parts is dante businessand to g i v e a magazine some o f such?

A n d don't be scared o f this enthusiasm, think it is such, and t o m o r r o w . . . n o : it is already t o m o r r o w , and I sit square, and hard to this: all that I ' v e said. A n d I take it no fault o f yrs that, I S S U E M O O D , does, seem, losing some margin the mss had, not quite as clear a bit o f music as the mss w a s s o m e vertical hunching it should not have, printed, another time. B u t this is learning, and I do not m a k e it fault: it is only, that it took m e myself t w o readings to understand it! N o , cid, all all here, is done with nicest (nice, in its fine sense) discrimination: y r ability to m o v e fr a base o f feeling to include a P e r k o f f all the w a y to the will to bring about such a magazine and m o v e it m o n e y - w i s e and all wise, b y such composition make it STAND it is w o n d e r f u l , no less than a damned M I R A C L E & thanks f o r y r letter, just in?

j u m p , you bitch, p i m p the w o r l d is yr motherbut hasn't tamed y o u yet m y father w a s a J o b but not such a J o b as that. H e kept the d o g eared animal that guards the gates such well-ordered gates are meant to be entered and reentered, are)

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tues j u l y 3 1

. .. the r e w r i t e o f H U is g i v i n g m e m a j o r e x c i t e m e n t , & is fine, just because the pull o f it (as o f j u n e 1) is still on m e s o , w h a t you shall h a v e , m a y , or m a y not, d i f f e r d e c i d e d l y f r o m w h a t y o u have. O f course y o u w e r e quite right about the c o n t e x t o f N D t h a t w e n t out o f it, the 1st d a y . A n d y r w o r d s on l a w s , has caused m e to sharpen w h a t 1 mean b y s a m e t h o , I could n o t r e m o v e this concept w i t h o u t d e e p l y erasing m y o w n base ((if y o u w i l l h a v e noted h o w , at the end o f G & C , it is l a w s I quote, as p r e - H a m m u r a b i ) ) . O n this, I think 1 shall content y o u i n fact, this n e w stuff is m u c h m o r e exciting the point is, w h a t w a s there, is, f i n a l l y , set m y cultural position. A n d so, it is T h e r e is, here, the b o d y , the substance, is v e r y exciting to m e , and I shall w a n t for 3 m y basei h a v e , here, a rasslin, this r e w r i t e . o f m y faith. A n d so, it to m a k e it g o o d f o r y o u ,

A hell ot a lot o f verse keeps c o m i n g . B u t you have some big ones there, and 1 shall h o l d w h a t is in hand f o r y r f u t u r e ? w e l l , perhaps l'll m a k e y o u a c o p y of one, f o r it just m i g h t seem such an offset to w h a t y o u h a v e published o f m i n e that it will teach B r o n k and M o r s e and w h o e v e r (including Miss Hoskins) or all neo-classicists, w h o it is w h o can practice w h a t they so j i n g o i s t i c a l l y preach it is called A R O U N D & A CANON (for K a t y Litz (for L o u Harrison

I a m so sick o f this sort o f thing y o u s h o w m e f r o m B r o n k the green o f it, the green-sick, t o o t h e bad-headedness, as w e l l as the manners. . . 1 am particularly i n c e n s e d n o t as o f his r e m a r k s on m e , w h i c h , w h o but, just the t e w o f us, isn't m a k i n g , and isn't likely to continue to m a k e ? w h o , actually, reads m e t h a t is, repeats the r e a d i n g i t is again, as I sd abt the G e r m a n critic y o u q u o t e d m e : the c o n f u s i o n ot the tone f o r the m o d e 1 am m o r e a w a r e than either such, or B r o n k , w h a t , the appearance isthe idiots, to be so easy a b o u t it, eh? ((for me, the test o f a n y o f e m , is, T h e S t o r y o f O ! that's w h a t they o u g h t to l o o k t w i c e at, e h ? A n d I can tell y o u , I a m m i g h t y p r o u d o f y o u that, y o u , w i t h o u t saying a w o r d , put that one, into print! F o r , f o r m y m o n e y , there, all their cracks m e l t c u t e , eh. . . . HOW M A N Y PEOPLE EVEN HAVE THE INTELLIGENCE T O R E A D T H E (for M A G A Z I N E also read) T H E P O E M A S I T IS P U T T O G E T H E R

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[BMC] monday aug 1 2 m y dear cid: i'll start this letter on this start o f a p o e m just to p r o v e to y o u h o w v e r y squeezed time is f o r m e here, so that y o u w i l l f o r g i v e m e m y delay in n o t a n s w e r i n g three f u l l s o m e letters f r o m you. F o r these lines w e r e set d o w n the e v e n i n g I w e n t to tell H a r r i s o n & Litz the v e r y satisfying n e w s , that y o u w e l c o m e d their p o e m and w i l l fire it straight b e t w e e n the eyes o f the other t w o in # 3 returns in falsehood heart's h o i g h t e d bright in chill, in pain numb-songed & wisdomless f o r that surely is the finest n e w s , the most delightful n e w s has c o m e m y w a y this last w e e k : o v e r w h e l m i n g l y gratified

i am

the truth is, tho i d o lose just that time one has w h e n one does not h a v e to spend a f e w hrs each day m a k i n g the w i f e ' s & yr o w n b o a r d & r o o m , (tho i can't w r i t e the letters i w a n t to), to y o u , because i h a v e to spend those hrs on these students, Y E T there are several g o o d things c o m e , and yesterday, w a s o n e such c u l m i n a t i o n : (1) a g u y n a m e d L a r r y H a t ( w h o c a m e here t w o w e e k s ago) (((i h a v e told h i m all a b o u t y o u , s h o w e d h i m the 2 O R I G I N S , and he has been v e r y interested, because he is a trained l i t h o g r a p h e r f r o m San Francisco b y w a y o f the C h i c a g o Inst o f Design))) w a l k e d in 6 : 0 0 w i t h the finished d u m m y o f a n e w O l s o n w o r k ! a new work yet u n d o n e , but y o u should see the h a n d s o m e thing he has put out a n d n o w i h a v e to w r i t e it! a f e w days verse, to finish it, and 1 w o n ' t say any m o r e , but h a v e one o f the special 25 c o p y edition f o r y o u but to keep h i m busy designing the next f e w d a y s , i t o y e d w i t h a little b o o k o f p o e m s , to be called, B L A C K M T P O E M S , and to be a h a n d f u l d o n e here the past m o n t h b u t i g a v e that idea up, because i felt that y o u should h a v e all things, and clear, f o r first printing, e v e n tho a n y t h i n g printed here is " l o c a l " and " l i m i t e d " instead, i had the w i l d idea, to take the L E T T E R T O B E R E A D AWAY F R O M the C e n t e n a r y C e l e b r a t i o n o f M e l v i l l e ' s M o b y - D i c k at W i l l i a m s C o l l e g e L a b o r D a y W e e k e n d (it w a s w r i t t e n , in a m o m e n t o f flame, t w o w e e k s ago), and fire it as a bit o f verse p a m p h l e t e e r i n g (something I d o n ' t k n o w has been m u c h d o n e since the Elizabethans) and b y g o d if the kids last night d i d n ' t raise the 20 bucks to h a v e it set b y e l e c t r o t y p e in C a s l o n , so that w e can sell it at that d a m n e d stupid celebration, and also sell it as an olson p o e m !

(2)

(3)

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S o , t o d a y , I i m a g i n e H a t , and V a n d e r b e e k , and others are o v e r in A s h e v i l l e a r r a n g i n g the biz, and here a m I c o n f r o n t e d w i t h the necessity to r e w r i t e it! B U T n o w , telling y o u all this, must seem to y o u to be k e e p i n g m e f r o m m y p r o p e r last, o f p r e p a r i n g a n y t h i n g and all things f o r y o u ! for O R I G I N 3 ! W h i c h is not quite true, f o r , each d a y n o w , f o r all these weeks, I h a v e added, and added, to the simplicity o f the L A W S o f the HU. A n d w h y I w r i t e y o u the a b o v e , is o n l y to see i f w h a t y o u yrself propose in y r last lettercan be w o r k e d out. Let m e put it this w a y : I am quite a n x i o u s ( i ) to finish H U (2) to lay it h o m e , there, in # 3 (3) to m a k e it a sort o f h u g e & simple piece o f M o s a i c stone And m y impression is, that, it is the f r a m e o f these 8 w e e k s , and should be so d o n e a s an o r g a n i c act. F o r I think I told y o u that I read it as m y first act here, and p r o p o s e to read it, r e w r i t t e n , as m y last. . . . I still h a v e to r e w r i t e the M e l v i l l e (it's o n l y v a l u e is this i m m e d i a t e t i m e p r o p o s i t i o n l i k e all p o l e m i c t h a t it be p u b lished before these idiots meet) and h a v e to w r i t e o r i g i n a l l y the A of T A N D T H A T B O T H H A V E T O B E D O N E (so far as m y part goes) B Y THE E N D OF THIS W E E K !

S o , w e are in the clear, perhaps, on H U t h a t is, I w i l l h a v e t w o full w e e k s b e f o r e y r deadline. J u s t , if y o u think y o u could let m e h a v e that other t w o w e e k s as w e l l if I shld need t h e m , let m e k n o w w e l l , thank y o u f o r e v e r y t h i n g , and please keep w r i t i n g to m e : i miss hearing m o r e o f t e n all n e w s , and doings (by the w a y , i h a v e f o u n d out, f r o m L a r r y H a t , R o b ' t D u n c a n ' s f r i e n d ' s address, and h a v e w r i t t e n D u n c a n to send y o u s o m e t h i n g

7i

Monday CID:

Sept 3

[BMC]

if y o u will n o w k n o w that i h a v e , in the past week, overseen the design and printing (and actually w r o t e one) o f t w o projects (one enclosed as present f o r you) at the same time I w a s ill w i t h a cracked rib (baseball!) that C o n ' s m o t h e r died at 53 in B o s t o n a w e e k a g o last night that d u r i n g that w e e k I w a s finishing the 8 w e e k stretch here that also i w a s asked to stay here this year, and had to m a k e up m y m i n d (still d a m n w e l l N O T m a d e up) that i h a v e had p e o p l e and people and p e o p l e at m e , night & d a y , and no chance w e l l , as Miss S h o o l m a n must h a v e told y o u , I w a s so upset at not m a n a g i n g to get to this m a c h i n e to tell y o u h o w v e r y t r e m e n d o u s l y that invitation y o u sent us f o r her rode usand at such a time that w e needed j u s t such a r i d e ! that I w a s in the b o o t h once, to call y o u (the night before I had her w i r e and had to g i v e it up b e c a u s e g o d d a m n iti just c o u l d n ' t a f f o r d the 1. 75 f o r same!)

S O P L E A S E , C i d , just a l l o w m e that crush, and f i g u r e , that, y o u r v e r y deep act w a s s o m e t h i n g so w o n d e r f u l that, I am still sort o f alive w i t h it, wanting i t . . . But here's the hitch, or the two hitches:

1) W e d o not h a v e the means to travel (nor, in C o n ' s case, perhaps, the d o c t o r ' s o k a y s h e is e x p e c t i n g , as o f O c t o b e r 19) ((At the same t i m e she is u r g i n g m e to take a vacation. B u t I w i l l n o t , at least until I h a v e T H E HU rewrite done for you!)) & 2 ) that, actually, such a m o v e to N e w E n g l a n d o u g h t w o u l d almost h a v e t o b e the alternative to staying here f o r f o u r - f i v e m o n t h s (last w e e k , they o f f e r e d m e an a p p o i n t m e n t , f o r this y e a r , w h i c h I h a v e not accepted y e t a s y o u k n o w , I believe in the C h i n e s e s y s t e m , o f an active m a n l i v i n g w h e r e life is, & c o m i n g to y o u t h o n c e a m o n t h NOT, living in the midst o f t h e m , as, here dread it, dreadfear it! T h e d a m n a b l e thing is 1) I w o n ' t k n o w , until after Sept 1 5 , w h e t h e r the N Y p e o p l e are g o i n g to g i v e m e the grant to continue the M a y a w o r k o n the g r o u n d

72

& 2 ) that, until that decision is m a d e , I h a v e (according to the conditions o f their board) to be " a f f i l i a t e d w i t h an i n s t i t u t i o n " . . .

It boils d o w n to this: that o n l y here a m I o n e (1) s o m e w h a t s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g & (2) (for t w o w e e k s to a m o n t h ) satisfying the c o n d i t i o n s to get this grant w h i c h w i l l enable m e to finance life f o r a c o u p l e o f years (the e x c h a n g e v a l u e in M e x i c o is such)

BUT I d o n ' t relish staying here the full fall t e r m . I shall h a v e to (ethically), w o u l d so m u c h like rather to be there, m y h o m e c o m i n g , N . E.

W e l l C i d , this is the best a n s w e r I a m capable o f at this m o m e n t , to y r g e n e r o u s o f f e r . D o n ' t h o n e s t l y k n o w w h a t to d o O n e thing, a n y w a y . t o m o r r o w , on H U , f o r y o u ! I ' m f a l l i n g in,

Please w r i t e & I shall

73

sat CID

septS

(is it?

[BMC]

y r fine letter just in, and, because i a m t r y i n g to get on top o f e v e r y t h i n g ( n o w that the bizness o f this place is a little o f f m y b a c k : :: : they did the w h o l e thing, and sd, as o f m y staying, stay as l o n g or as little as y o u w a n t , and then, w h e n y o u w i s h to d o o t h e r wise, w e l l w e ' l l f i g u r e it out can't ask f o r m o r e , eh? as a matter o f f a c t , h a v e taken this papers, square a w a y f o r the g o on a m taking it, y o u can g i v e G o d be w i m e , that, in the cool w e e k , to breathe, clean up HU m e until the 1 5 t h n e x t w e e k , I can set it

H a v e not seen C ' s G R A C E , but sent y o u y e s t e r d a y , as he asked, his n e w P A R T Y , and, f o r m e , it is again O N the attack, and the f o r m , are beautiful, a subtle, l o v e l y , light r u n n i n g thing, and full o f fate & p o w e r (he is such a b e a u t i f u l thing, that lad, w h a t he bears in o n and w i t h ) and i am not surprised his issue b o m b e d t h e m t h e o n l y thing i can't f i g u r e out is, w h y there shld be a n y c o n t r o v e r s y ! C a n ' t they see? A n d I am v e r y g r a t e f u l f o r y r m o v i n g a r o u n d E S . It is d a m n e d nice to be r e i n f o r c e d so, just n o w , w h e n , things ( e c o n o m i c things) are so m u l t i p l i e d n o t that it's the h a v i n g o f , a b a b y : such a thing seems >0 m u c h n o n - e c o n o m i c to a character like m y s e l f , so m u c h just ivhat it is, that thing, the act o f , and m y lady so cool and solid (and leautiful in it, w i t h it), that I (and o f course I n e v e r had m u c h reaisticI think they call itsense o f f u t u r e : : : : a l w a y s g o a l o n g w i t h ife, not, t h r o w ahead, like s o m e h i g h w a y , k n o w i n g w h e r e it goes w h e r e does it, g o ? ) io, it's o p e n e y e d , sort o f stuff. N o . T h e thing is, because Origin xists, I w r i t e better, I w r i t e m o r e , a n d a n y e c o n o m i c c o n s e q u e n c e : v e n to the b u c k y o u sent w h i c h is pinned to the w a l l , as w e l l as any .ich action that E S m a y choose to take) just m a k e s the w h o l e thing ave the sort o f sense that, say, C o n h a v i n g a b a b y m a k e s m a k e s solids ind the lord k n o w s any o f us w h o , take ourselves and t h r o w ourselves 1 the air like l e a v e s o r stoneslike, to h a v e s o m e t h i n g , c o m e d o w n , II, solid, back instead o f staying l u f t s m e n s c h (as they are, in, say

W a r s a w , or, N a p l e s , or M o n t m a r t r e :

un grec)

what you have given m e is, such solid. A n d that E S is a w a r e , is like, in a different w a y , eh? ((These t w o things: print, and m o n e y f o r , w o r k they are, the d r e a m , w h a t ? ) )

. . . w e l l , just quick

75

[BMC] M y dear C i d :

TUESDAY NIGHT

the

nth

b r e a k i n g o f f , f r o m the mss o f H U , to get y o u a note, f i g u r i n g , if y o u are h o l d i n g f o r m e f o r i t y o u shld k n o w the present s t a t e l e n g t h a n d w h e n y o u can l o o k f o r it 1 cracked the w o r s t of it (the o p e n i n g pages) t o d a y , after several days defeat. A n d all 1 h a v e n o w to d o is to hit the business o f m e t a p h o r vs s y m b o l harder than the original did that, the w a y it l o o k s n o w , should be d o n e t o m o r r o w so 1 should h a v e it to y o u a day or t w o ahead o f the iron deadline y o u g a v e m e w h e n i w a s in that trouble three w e e k s a g o (the 1 5 t h , but absolute, y o u sd.) but i am a little puzzled, f r o m y o u r ' l a s t letter, in w h i c h y o u sd (last w e e k ) y o u w e r e g o i n g to the printer the end o f the w e e k that w i d have been t w o d a y s a g o ! not that it matters, i dare say, if y o u already h a v e e n o u g h to g o to press w i t h . I should, in any case, like to get rid o f this thing. A n d a m glad I had this push to finish it. . . .

OK.

A n x i o u s to hear f r o m y o u .

76

THURSDAY CID!

Sept 13

[BMC]

here

Vis

It's not the cleanest c o p y I h a v e g i v e n y o u , but 1 pray I h a v e m a d e all e m e n d a t i o n s clear e n o u g h ! T h e r e is o n l y one c h o r e I am putting on y o u A N D I T IS A C R U C I A L O N E , particularly in the last narrative, the Sun M o o n g i g : that is, I o n l y had this bad third c a r b o n (it constitutes this mss, f r o m page 1 2 on), and as y o u h a v e in y o u r hand the original, I h o p e y o u will not d a m n m e f o r asking y o u to transfer m y corrections f r o m the enclosed pages o v e r to y o u r clean c o p y ( ( f r o m page 1 2 here (page 1 1 there) 011)) I emphasize the changes in the final narrative, s i m p l y because there the changes, small as they are, shift the style and tone o f the w h o l e t h i n g m a k e it less s l a n g y , and m o r e f o r m a l . A n d this, I think is v e r y i m p o r t a n t .

It was a t o u g h j o b , as t o u g h a one as I h a v e had to face, simply because the task attempted is so h u g e . A n d I had h o p e d to cut d o w n the o p e n i n g a r g u m e n t , but I h a v e been o v e r it and o v e r it, and even w i t h the r e o r d e r i n g , and m o r e care, I still can't see that there is any part of it 1 can get out w i t h o u t losing s o m e m o v e m e n t essential to the w h o l e . (I f o u n d y o u r letter, b y the w a y , on it o f considerable help, and t h o u g h I dare say n o t h i n g w i l l ever satisfy another m a n n o t h i n g e v e r does m e ! i m e a n , o f m y o w n ! !I do hope I h a v e taken care o f the things w h i c h balked y o u , in the original version) I am also h a p p y , that I met yr deadline (beat it, I h o p e , b y a d a y ! ) and that all is w e l l , w i t h # 3 as a w h o l e , and w i t h y o u look f o r w a r d to hear f r o m y o u yrs P.S. My God, l o o k ! L o o k i n g it o v e r f o r the last time, I did see one h u g e cut. D o m e this f a v o r . R e a d it as it is and if y o u are satisfied, F I N E . IF not, then read, enclosed, sealed, N O T E

77

I f the thing is t o o l o n g o r seems to y o u r fresh e y e s t o o argued, w h a t I h a v e just d i s c o v e r e d is that there is one fantastic rej o i n i n g : pages 6, 7, 8, 9, 1 0 , & the first half o f 1 1 could be left out ( i t w o u l d be an excision like o n e o f m y o w n eyes!) but, there is a perfect j o i n t u r e f r o m the w o r d " d i s c o v e r y " ( b o t t o m p. 5, top p. 6) o v e r to m i d d l e p. 1 1 , starting " I h a v e been l i v i n g " ! Wild, wild. A n d only if y o u think it needs it, please. B u t g o d , it k n o c k s m e out. Well, to y o u , in y r hands

78

[BMC]

tuesday

sept 18

51

C I D : . . . A s o f H U : I f i g u r e y o u w e r e right, to cut clear f r o m the G r e e k s to the M a y a , and leave out the " a r g u i n g " i f t h o I d o lose that f o o t n o t e on " d i s c o u r s e " ! (As o f " c o m m o t e s " , it means, a sweet potato, but I ' m not sure I h a v e spelled it r i g h t i n fact, they d o n ' t w e a r shoes, f o r that m a t t e r ! S o , the w h o l e business there, is a little c o c k e y e d , surrealist, let's call it, e h : and n o t like m e , like, t h e y say, eh? t r o u b l e is, " c o m m o t e s " are a local plant, and so a local w o r d , and w h a t the spelling w a s , o f course, w e c o u l d n ' t find out f r o m the natives to m a k e it p r o p e r l y s t r a n g e , i f y o u w a n t to catch i t y o u m i g h t try w h a t C o n thinks is the spelling: CAYMOTES and if y o u do, shift shoes to S A N D A L S , eh ? W o n ' t p r o b a b l y m a k e m u c h sense t o d a y , because, t r y i n g to toss things a little in the air, to get clear, o f the concentrations, w h i c h , since I left M e x i c o , h a v e had to be too o n n o t e n u f the p r o p e r concentrations, w h i c h m a k e verse possible and h u n g r y to be back away f r o m a r g u m e n t , demonstration, or a n y such things

am a n x i o u s to hear f r o m y o u , h o w , the D u n c a n stuff l o o k s h e is p r o b a b l y surely m o r e like M o r s e and B r o n k than like C r e e l e y and this one, eh? but he is a biting lad, and does, as he p r o b a b l y boasted he t h o u g h t O r i g i n could stand, h a v e s o m e m o r e temper, I think his w o r d i s ! . . .

W i s h to christ, t o o , w e c o u l d get t o g e t h e r : so m a n y things piling u p am s o m e w h a t reluctant to leave the lass just n o w (never k n o w w h e n these babies are apt to break l o o s e ) b u t m a y b e , say, t h a n k s g i v i n g o r w i n t e r in N E W ENGLAND! h o w abt that? T H O U G H , I assure y o u , IF, those birds g i v e m e that s t a k e w i l l y nilly, child or n o c h i l d I shall try m y best to get the hell out o f here and g o w h e r e n o anxieties breed, w h e r e certain

temptations are not, w h e r e i breathe m o r e

easily T H I S IS A P A R T OF THE CRAVING

as o f w h a t ' s ahead or w h a t I'd like to see right n o w , is h o w it is w h e n the waters are pink f o r then, surely, right o v e r o u r heads, he w o u l d l o o k like the scarab he is, that is, his f o r c e is d o w n w a r d , the head o v e r heels m a n , the arms n o r the legs flying o u t w a r d s : n o t at all not at all

HELLO

80

[BMC]

Friday

october 5

51

I am aghast, C I D , and ask all y r forgiveness. D a m n d e s t t h i n g : here i was w o n d e r i n g w h y 1 h a d n ' t heard t r o m y o u ! and ot course, a c o g had slipped (in the d a m n a b l e busyness o f this f u c k i n g p l a c e I h o p e I w a r n e d y o u , that, to get any o f m y o w n w o r k d o n e , and at the same t i m e earn m y keep, crazy lesions happen, so m u c h is in f r o n t of m e a n d i stay, a simple man!) I had assumed i had written y o u , i w a s so full f r o m , y r last letter! And o f course y o u h a v e not w r i t t e n , because, there, y o u had g i v e n m e the S O L D I E R S a n d I w e l l k n o w h o w , such an act, after such an act, one can only W A I T ! I b e g y o u r p a r d o n as m u c h as I e v e r b e g g e d any m a n ' s that i should h a v e kept y o u w a i t i n g ! I gash m y s e l f . A n d will send this special, to c o v e r m y s h a m e D a m n d e s t thing e v e r . Soquietly: PLEASE FORGIVE ME

Let m e g o right at the S O L D I E R S (and 1 am w h o l l y s y m p a t h e t i c t h e w o r d is as w e a k as " s i n c e r e " , yet, it has, too, the same deepest m e a n i n g to y o u r p r o b l e m & intent here, h a v i n g w o r k e d several m o n t h s in spring 1947 (think it was) on a like m a t e r i a l a n d had to g i v e it up, f o r then, as p r e s e n t i n g e s s e n t i a l l y t h e epic m o d e & m a t e r i a l A N D , yet, n o n e of us K N O W ! ) (((((PS: been v e r y m u c h o f f , too, the past t w o w e e k s i n fact since finishing the r e w r i t e o f H U : l o o k i n g a r o u n d , f o r an O U T , n o t w a n t i n g to w o r k , or present m y s e l f to a n y t h i n g . Y e t have. A n d yet still, am d r e a d f u l l y U N H A P P Y . ) ) ) ) )

O K , back. T h a t is, there w a s s o m e t h i n g w r o n g in E P ' s and then Macleish's metric, as o f , the sort o f p r o b l e m here. A n d this is h o w I w o u l d take yr j o b , 1st: that, the o p e n i n g couplet, g i v e s the g a m e a w a y ! that is, drama, o f earth and m e n , is, n o w , a devilish G E N E R A L ( i z a t i o n ) (i'd guess the reason is that all things are inflated, and so, even such serious study as the one y o u are here p r o p o s i n g has to be got at c o n t r a r i w i s e : m a n as c o m m o n has to be restored b y w a y ot y o u or m e as particular (I emphasize m y s y m p a t h y , because I f i r m l y take it that, the reason w h y y o u and i (and rob't) are so close, g o along so, together, is that w e d o respect the c o m m o n a n d w h o else does? It c o m e s d o w n to a question o f methodology (and that is as m u c h , w h e r e verse goes, metric as it, surely, is a n y t h i n g else, eh?)

W h a t I like, is, yr idea, to, d o it all in, such shorts, f o l l o w i n g : in other w o r d s , y r narrative logic is w e l l taken, but l o o k w h a t happens to TIME! it declares itself so sequential, that, a false interest c o m e s i n : just there, y o u " l o s e " yr o w n intentthat, it is n o t sequence, but the reiteration (because m a n is w h a t is g o i n g o n , is, c o n t i n u o u s l y , taking it, h a v i n g it * W W I I " Y o u ' v e had it, B O " ((((I hope this is not seeming t o o c o m i n g in f r o m the general e n d : it is honestly the best w a y , i a m sure, to c o m e at the metric, that, ist, I w o u l d try to u r g e y o u i n such material, in such an area to grab h o l d , first, (in o r d e r to a c c o m p l i s h the c o m m o n ) , b y D O C U M E N T A T I O N t h e specific that is, there are t w o attacks, possible, on this chief o{all p r o b l e m s n o w : A . the proper nominative (exact particular specific anecdote e x p l o r e d into universe b y c o n j e c t u r e m a k i n g possible all detail, and, essentially, the old logic of narrative: P R I M E E X A M P L E : Herodotus or B . the erasure of the p r o p e r n o m i n a t i v e (but this attack i n v o l v e d altogether fresh devices o f time, o f j u x t a p o s i t i o n : in fact, has to be solved literally in N o n - E u c l i d e a n & G e o m e t r i c a l S P A C E - T I M E ways) (the erasure, that is, o n l y o f the names, but, a retention o f the f o r c e o f the c o m m o n b y not falling f o r realism, or the false particularism o f the " a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l " t h a t because it happens to me, it is therefore, g o i n g to be o f significance to o t h e r s : : : : T H I S IS T H E R A N K E S T N O N S E N S E , and o n e o f the things w e are fighting, t h r o u g h O R I G I N , so t h o r o u g h l y , that, the M O R A L ( w h i c h all autob i o g leaves out, even w h e n it includes i t G i d e , e.g., o f even S i m o n e W e i l a l l saintness, or r e v o l u t i o n a r y i s m s ) T H E M O R A L IS F O R M , & n o t h i n g else and the M O R A L A C T is the h o n e s t " s i n c e r e " motion in the direction o f F O R M

W h a t happens in T H E S O L D I E R S , is, that, y o u fall b e t w e e n these t w o w a y s : b y d r o p p i n g the n o m i n a t i v e (except as to place, w h i c h , y o u a l l o w yrself to fall i n t o a r e f o r c e d b y the literal historical sequence in time, to locate), y o u h o p e to get a c o m m o n o v e r a l l b u t , alas, y o u get a " d i s s o l v e " (literally, in cinematic terms) at the same time, b y retaining the l o g i c o f time o f the p r o p e r n o m i n a t i v e , y o u lose the a d v a n t a g e that the first act promises y o u (you see, the narrative p r o b l e m n o w , in verse or prose, i n v o l v e s one first act: a clear &

present D E P A R T U R E f r o m all thinking in " h i s t o r i c a l " frame: that is, either (a), that there is truth, and that e v i d e n c e can b r i n g it f o r t h (this w a s w h a t T h u c i d y d e s started, and w e h a v e to put a stop to it is right here that l o g i c and classification most strongly w o r k against verse & prose n o w o r (b), that there is a n y t i m e e x c e p t that o n e time w h i c h matters, Y O U R

OWN

(the L I E o f history is that a m a n can f i n d or take a n y relevance out o f the infinite times o f other m e n e x c e p t as he pegs the w h o l e thing on his t i m e : and 1 d o n ' t m e a n times, that s o c i o l o g i c a l lie, 1 m e a n your T E M P I m i n e , in short, all that T I M E IS, is R H Y T H Y M (and there is n o w a y o f k n o w i n g any r h y t h y m O T H E R T H A N Y O U R O W N , than B Y y o u r o w n

N o w if y o u h o l d to m y use o f H E R O D O T U S , as T O N I C , as o n w h i c h to H O O K (in o r d e r to start thinking in N O N - H I S T O R I C A L w a y s t o start substituting the art o f S T O R Y f o r the n o n - a r t but l o g i c o f H I S T O R Y (I need not state, here, the other pole, s i m p l y because y o u r p r o b l e m , in T H E S O L D I E R S , is o b v i o u s l y j u s t here in this area o f distinction b e t w e e n history and story you can b e g i n to m a k e y o u r s e l f master o f materials w h i c h ( m y guess is) is E X A C T L Y T H E S O R T O F M A T E R I A L W H I C H Y O U AREwhich I N T E R E S T E D m - w h i c h y o u w i l l , ahead, B E C O M M I T T E D T O y o u see, there is a sort o f " p h i l o s o p h y " a i m e d at in this v e r s e : a position, a b o u t m a n and w h a t i take it is the most v a l u a b l e thing i can g i v e y o u in critique o f it is to try to t h r o w light on h o w y o u h a v e or h a v e n o t a c c o m p l i s h e d a stance ( w h i c h is o n l y and a l w a y s a m a n ' s o w n r y t h m i c position) f r o m w h i c h to p r o p e l such a p h i l o s o p h y (that is, there is truth, in one sense o n l y , that, y o u are it if y o u m a k e yrself clear acrostic it is the old Latin c o n u n d r u m , w h i c h w a s tacked on, to the C h r i s t - P o n t i u s c o n f r o n t a t i o n :

you are

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P: C:

Q u i d est

V e r i t a s ?

Est vir qui adest

A n d the man w h o is b e f o r e y o u (in this case, y o u , cid c o r m a n ) is b e f o r e y o u (me) to the degree that he projects himself to m e b y his r h y t h y m

S o w e c o m e (instead o f starting f r o m ) the metric (I h a v e no particular quarrel w i t h yr i m a g e r y h e r e o r at least think it is eventually c o n trolled by this deeper question: that is, the i m a g e r y is honestly seeking to be precise, even t h o u g h it is seeking also to be general or c o m m o n e n o u g h (of earth, sun, m u d , heat, breath, feet, etc) to support the " p h i l o s o p h y " of m a n here p r e s e n t e d o f m a n as soldier: earth, air, fire, w a t e r a n d the 5th element, sd N a p , M U D ! w h a t i think it is i m p o r t a n t to e x a m i n e , to get at the w h o l e truth, is the M E T R I C (tenses, also, like the i m a g e r y , are a part o f the " h i s t o r i c a l " m o d e t h e trap o f the " a n d " in this p o e m is the like p r o b l e m Perse goes to pieces on (all o v e r the sky & sand of Asia, as well, in his other things, the sun o f the W e s t Indies) but it i s a g a i n a n attempt, b y a certain L A R G E N E S S o f tone to reinforce M A N (my argument w l d here again be, that any largeness is not extendable b e y o n d y o u r o w n s i z e w h i c h , again, is a matter of, YR RYTHYM S o l e t ' s switch to the mss, w h e r e , I shall try to analyse, b y text, the metrical p r o b l e m : : : : : : : : . . . .

Cid, f o l l o w one rule ALWAYStake all the time & space y o u need to be precise to w h a t is in y o u r m i n d or soul to say. T h i s is the true act of discourse: the l a w , say w h a t y o u h a v e got to say. And S T O P . B u t Sv4 V it so: SONG!

L o o k : d a m n e d bizness, o f supperlet m e get this o f f ; & w e ' l l take it up f r o m there:

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Y o u w i l l note that, it is almost e x c l u s i v e l y w h e n y o u have h e w n to the p e n t a m e t e r that I h a v e f o u n d flaw but I w o u l d urge y o u (as y o u ' d k n o w f r o m P V ) to m o v e yrself out a w a y f r o m any declared base ( w h i c h b e c o m e s a strait j a c k e t ) & f i n d o n l y then, basically, in yrself and this, I ' m sure, will i n v o l v e y o u , xst, in such content questions as, The Soldiers, also raises and w h i c h most o f the other letter is about. A g a i n , please excuse m e w h o l l y f o r m y crazy delay

the contingent m o t i o n o f each line as it m o v e s w i t h o r against the w h o l e w o r k i n g particularly out o f its i m m e d i a c y .

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y r bad n e w s in, last night (& a p r e v i o u s letter since I w r o t e y o u ) and i certainly h a v e n o other feelings than, y o u d o w h a t y o u d o , that is, i so c o m p l e t e l y respect the r y t h y m w i t h w h i c h y o u h a v e c o m p o s e d issues 1 & 2 that i g o a l o n g w i t h y o u , in fact, as y o u k n o w , it is m y o p i n i o n that i n e v e r k n e w another m a g a z i n e w h i c h w a s as c o m p o s e d as origin & so l o n g as round & canon sit there, a r o u n d O , i m y s e l f feel m y part in origin is a d v a n c e d , eh? i h a v e o n l y o n e feeling w h i c h is this, that, so far as y o u can i m i g h t h o p e that o n e t r e m e n d o u s a d v a n t a g e o r i g i n has had to such as robt & m y s e l f m a y not be lost in the g o i n g on o f the m a g : t h a t f o r the first time f o r me, at least (& i h a v e noticed that this is a gain all poets c r a v e : Keats, o n c e , hit this factor in a letter sighing, it had been a year since he w r o t e one o f the odes and n o w that it w a s b e ing published it w a s o f such time back that he had m o v e d on e n o u g h to m a k e the ode's appearance, h o w e v e r he w a s pleased, o f less m o m e n t to h i m than it m i g h t h a v e been) that is, i take it y o u c o u l d depend u p o n robt & i to put out at a rate & quality d u r i n g a n y three m o n t h s to m a k e it possible f o r y o u to plan the use o f such b y six months f r o m its w r i t i n g . A n d o f course pretty m u c h such has been the w a y it has w o r k e d out ( e x a m p l e , R & C , w r i t t e n J u l y , appearing O c t 2 2 o r (Grace) or Party ?, w r i t t e n A u g u s t ? appearing same time?) my worry is, f r a n k l y , that this w o n d e r f u l businessas i think i h a v e told y o u , it is, in itself, generativenot be lost. . . .

A n d there is that matter o f R o b e r t B a r l o w and/or an issue o n SOURCES, or O R I G I N S : an issue o f o r i g i n featuring " origins"! ( T h a t is, as y o u k n o w , I f a v o r such " f e a t u r i n g " than " g r o u p issue" flatly thinking the A m e r i c a n s are the ones, n o w , w h o are c a r r y i n g the ball!) (Fact is, I a m just about r e a d y myself to d o t w o things: A . an essay (like the P V ) on all art centering a r o u n d , "theater" & B. a piece o f " m a p p i n g " the w h o l e culture strategy, called s o m e t h i n g like T H E E T Y M O L O G Y O F A L L T H I N G S (I w i l l also d r o p a note n o w , asking D u n c a n , w h e r e are the mss) O k , for today. Let m e hear back on this w h o l e matter.

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fullest thanks f o r all recent notes, g i f t s & g e n e r o u s w o r d s , as w e l l as the 3rd o f m y O r i g i n D o l l a r Series, but i h a v e just got up out o f b e d ( 2 : 3 0 A M ) to hasten to w r i t e y o u to ask y o u to g i v e all y r best attention and act to this r u p t u r e o f R o b e r t ' s , s i m p l y b e cause i think it is the most i m p o r t a n t thing i m a g i n a b l e f a c i n g y o u . T h a t is, C r e e l e y is a subtle & b e a u t i f u l m a n , w o r t h m o r e than all the rest o f us y o u h a v e p u b l i s h e d a n d then s o m e : y o u r m a g a z i n e shall be k n o w n in the history o f w r i t i n g because y o u there first published the stories and letters o f this m a n . A n d that he has, in his present sickness & despair, h e a v e d o f f , is s o m e t h i n g I think y o u should, so far as y o u possibly can, get an ease to. Y o u see, C i d , he is a g r a v e and serious m a n , & his w o r k o f an o r der that causes h i m to d e m a n d back w h a t he g i v e s : u t m o s t care & openness in discussion o f . O n top o f that, he has, like a n y o f us to w h o m the thing is already o u r life stretching d o w n to o u r death, a sense o f the responsibility o f the act o f w r i t i n g b y a n y o n e a n y w h e r e : that sense o f the public d o m a i n that o n l y the most serious m e n e v e r h a v e , and to w h i c h they g i v e , and sacrifice a n y t h i n g . I w o u l d u r g e y o u to p l u m b yrself, and g i v e b a c k to this rupture the v e r y simplest straightest acts y o u can f o r g e . T h e r e is n o tally, anyhow. I ' m sure C r e e l e y , as I, take it y o u h a v e g i v e n us m o r e than a n y o n e else w h o has published us c o u l d e v e r h a v e g i v e n us, b o t h in the w e l c o m e y o u g i v e o u r w o r k and on top o f that the c o m p o s i t i o n in w h i c h y o u present us in O R I G I N . T h a t is so m u c h , y o u need not concern yrself w i t h a n y t h i n g else, in fact, can w e l l take those t w o aspects o f attention as o f such size n o m a n c o u l d o f f e r us m o r e . S o d o not a r g u e if w h a t else y o u m i g h t think to g i v e c r i t i c i s m , o f mss, or o f p r o b l e m s he o r I, say, g i v e all the attention o f o u r w a k i n g & sleeping hours t o , r u b s h i m w r o n g . I'd say, learn f r o m h i m , and in saying it, can tell y o u that I h a v e learned m o r e f r o m h i m than f r o m a n y l i v i n g m a n : he is o f that sort of d i m e n s i o n that y o u can w e l l a l l o w a n d gain t h e r e b y t h a t y o u d o learn, and m o d e s t l y learn f r o m h i m . A n d this w i l l o n l y increase y o u . In other w o r d s , it is not O r i g i n w h i c h alone gains, it is yrself. F o r he is most k n o w i n g , in the v e r y interstices o f sentences, he can breathe and feel out all that is w o r t h hearing, w o r t h g r a b b i n g on to, o f a n o t h e r man. Y o u w i l l i m a g i n e , that if I w r i t e to y o u , a n d as seriously as I do n o w w r i t e t h a t I d o it, n o t o n l y because y o u h a v e told m e y o u w o u l d like a n y considerations I h a v e 011 the matter, but because I k n o w h o w

rocked he is, and h a v e w r i t t e n h i m m y strong w i s h that the three o f us, so far as w e can, g o along together in this v e n t u r e w h i c h already s h o w s so m u c h & can be so m u c h m o r e . G i v e it all the quietest, straightest, deepest thing y o u can.

. . . S o these are s o m e days, eh?

" T o understand realistically and soberly h o w limited o u r p o w e r is is an essential part o f w i s d o m and o f m a t u r i t y ; to w o r s h i p it is masochistic and self-destructive. T h e one is h u m i l i t y , the other self-humiliation."

regressive-progressive regressive is a l w a y s to safety pre-death state (mortality) the need f o r identity the w a n d e r e r as f u g i t i v e the uninhibited intelligence (child) RELIGION (from p2i Psychoanalysis & Religion) " a n y system o f t h o u g h t and action shared b y a g r o u p w h i c h g i v e s the i n d i v i d u a l a f r a m e o f orientation and an object o f d e v o t i o n . "

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dear C i d : excuse the dilatory d o m i c i l e h a d b a d days, w i t h o u t more cause than the m i d d l e o f the life, eh? or the w a i t i n g , say, that san j u a n de la cruz talks a b o u t (i h o p e ! ) am reading, & going to m o v i e s : n o t h i n g m u c h m o r e h a p p e n i n g , e x c e p t talk ( w h i c h g r o w s less & less u s a b l e ) . . . .

Keep in touch.

A n d let m e w e a t h e r this present c l a m .

(I leave the error)

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Feb 26

C i d B a s e a p o l o g i e s : been in bed t w o days, but that ain't nothin, m e r e r e c o v e r y p u t the screws o n , & , in t w o w e e k s , put out t w o l o n g prose putsches: (I) HISTORY using these States as counters & a r g u i n g a p r o p e r predecession a sort o f b a c k h a n d e d salute to W a l t W h i t m a n , f o r his unhappinesses & (II) CULTURE A W i l d Stab at its Present S h a p e etc. T h e y are w h a c k y , d o n e in " p r e s e n t a t i o n " prose, y o u k n o w , not w r i t t e n but thrustand a pleasure to do. N o w the question is, w h e r e to land ' e m ? W i t h y o u planning A P P L E f o r 6, and the selected f o r 8, I d o n ' t f i g u r e y o u w a n t a n y m o r e like H U (by the w a y , H U c a m e right in the m i d d l e o f this s p u n g , and w a s a l i f t e r ! just hit it one a f t e r n o o n b y l u c k o n e has to h o p e f o r such a break in seeing one's o w n stuff in print, that, one can catch oneself o f f g u a r d , and read it f r e s h a n d it w o r k e d : m y , h o w m u c h i w a s inside it, inside it as i hadn't been e v e n in the w r i t i n g , f o r , then, it w a s d a y in & out, & e v e n the rew r i t e , b u t this t i m e o n e s w e e p , and i had it: v e r y d a m n e d r e w a r d i n g , and glad y o u put it out, glad, t o o , that y o u m a d e that c u t t h i n k it rolls as is, and is m u c h m o r e its o w n o r g a n i s m than that M a l i n o w s k y quote w l d have allowed. . . .

O f course, still, f o r this citizen, it's T H E R E P L Y T O G E R H A R D T w h i c h w o o f s . I d o n ' t k n o w w h y , on this one, I a m its o n l y c h a m p i o n (even y o u say, H U is the " b e s t " thing in # 4 ! ) H U m a y be the text but the D E M O N S T R A N D U M is also right there!

. . . OK. K e e p m e on on all matters. A n d d o n ' t m i n d if I disappear once in a w h i l e : I miss m y W a s h i n g t o n isolation & routine, that m e t h o d o f mine o f g o i n g ahead f o r days, d a y after d, w i t h o u t i n t e r r u p t i o n , bearing d o w n . And to d o it here means several rigidities: e v e n h a v e to m a k e m y s e l f d a m n e d u n p o p u l a r b y refusing to carry m y lift o f the stick ( w a s h i n g dishes, attending lunch, cutting w o o d , d o i n g the chores as a m e m b e r o f the b o a r d o f f e l l o w s etc. I f i g u r e if I get to the f a c u l t y meetings on F r i d a y nights, and s h o v e it out the t w o nights I w o r k f o r ' e m ( M o n d a y & T h u r s d a y , and I assure y o u I w o r k 5 hrs at a clip, each o f those nights. S o w h e n a necessity takes m e , as that one, t w o w e e k s a g o , I h a v e to e x c l u d e so m u c h . W i l l see y o u see b o t h o f the g o ' s as soon as I can f i g u r e out w h e r e to send t h e m , and m a k e

copies: they are f u l l o f social ( e c o n o m i c ) & political (cultural) e x a m p l e s , l a w s , & punctuations ( m o r e like I S H & G & C than H U , or, P V ) . . . W r i t e , & k e e p w r i t i n g e v e n if i l a g f o r i a m g o i n g to w i l l s o m e verse into existence (I h o p e ! ) a n y d a y n o w (he sd, the g o d - t e m p t e r ! )

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March

C i d : M a n y thanks for all newsand you are right, I have trouble getting T I M E , especially w h e n i have been as bloody d a m n sick as i have been for the past three weeks (don't k n o w what it isshowed up as a boil in the right armpit, crippling mehad that lanced, and penicillin shot in m y arse, 600,000 units, but i remain daily below par: probably the Bear, & Winter, and Spring too far beHind!) A m busy, at the m o m e n t , at m y old last, M r Melville: accepted to do a review of t w o n e w books, one his, one on him, for the New Republic; and it involves much labor, in that both are put out by those creatures, the academics (all three of w h o m 2 edit M D , a centennial edition, with 250 pages of annotations! I have k n o w n in the past: Vincent at 111 Tech, Mansfield at Williams, and T h o m p s o n (who writes this b o o k M ' S Q U A R R E L W I T H G O D , by god!) w h o went to school with m e & is n o w i f it is the same guy Prof at Princeton i am tempted, instead of what i took the review f o r : to have another go at saymg m y piece abt M D t o lace em good b y writing S O M E PRINCIPLES F O R C O R R E C T EDITING OF H M! for at least V & M have put out a pretentious & ill-proportioned editionand left all but one important thing unsaid (they do add a tremendous quotation f r o m Goethe to the Melville r e c o r d on daimonismbeautiful thinking by G : 1st time he ever struck his w a y into meand the observation is crucial behind H M ' s m a n a g e m e n t of Ahab, in fact, behind his w h o l e advance on the problem of heroism, than which no one (Goethe, Carlyle, Emerson, Nietsche, Freud) touched him

I took great offense at yr G e r m a n translator's doggerel (isn't he the same man you quoted me a year ago, on m y w o r k in # 1 ? H e strikes m e as another of those Europeans (like m y once-friend Giorgio di Santillana, n o w Prof at M I T ) w h o is bright enough, but w h o never found a keel for their cut-water in themselves, and thus are left with n o element, and stand silly in midair slashing around with a brain which has nothing to saw on i wld send all such to, say, H O L D E R L I N , to his suffering, to cause them to shut their m o u t h s o r stop their stupid shining sword, unflashing or to Klee, with his superb intellect (the proper use of same)
or to D H L , w h o d i r e c t l y t e l l s any such that the 4th temptation, left out o f the parable, is the

intellect, t r y i n g to g o it, alone: it a l w a y s ends up h i g h & d r y w i t h k n o w l e d g e or history or schemes f o r its o w n e a t i n g e a t i n g itself A n d m y a n g e r i s t h e anger o f all m e n w h o write f r o m their o w n s u f f e r i n g , that, y o u can't put us d o w n w i t h schemasyou can't w a g y r f i n g e r s y r w e a k c o c k s i n o u r faces: w e d o w h a t w e are o b l i g e d to d o : measure us b y w h a t y o u h a v e d o n e w i t h w h a t y o u ' v e had to do w i t h , b r o t h e r : w e say that to them. A n d if they once faced that, dealt w i t h that, instead o f w h a t their light heads take o f f o u r w o r k (like peeling our skin) t h e y ' d stop such shitand f i n d out, that H O W A T H I N G IS S A I D is as i m p o r t a n t as W H A T IS S A I D , that it is W H A T IS S A I D

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[BMC] C I D ; that raises m e !

June 3

52 Ok

E V E R Y T W O M O N T H S f i n e , beautiful, faster.

B u t J O U R N A L w h a t , e x a c t l y , is that f o r m a t ? S o u n d s lighter, less aesthetic, m o r e pressing, fresher. C o u l d be a light guerilla w a g o n , f o r shooting across the h e a v y p u b l i c press & publishing (such as A N N U A L S , T W I C E A Y E A R S , and all such deadness) Y E T : I a m i m m e d i a t e l y n e r v o u s b y y o u r analogies and y o u r decisions, and w a n t v e r y precisely to ask y o u to e x a m i n e the v e r y premises o f those t w o w o n d e r f u l aspects o f the c h a n g e : S P E E D , and L I G H T N E S S . F o r w h y do y o u liken yrself to N Y t i m e s , H T , S A T r e v , or w h a t e v e r ? w h y d o y o u speak of " r e v i e w s " a n d unsigned reviews? and w h y d o y o u say A P O L L O N I U S is out, w h e n y o u also say the 1 6 p p is the equal o f 64, and are the m a n w h o used a w h o l e n o . o f a q u a r t e r l y to issue a 64 p a g e essay on Stevens? (question # 1 : i should like to k n o w , in the light o f w h a t y o u say abt A P O L L O N I U S , w h a t y o u intend to d o w i t h the other " p l a y " y o u w e r e to use in # 6 , M r W i l l i a m s ' D E S E R T MUSIC?) )

N o w I w a n t y o u to k n o w that a n y t h i n g i say here has o n l y to d o w i t h m y self and m y o w n w o r k o n the m o s t serious o f g r o u n d s t h a t is, I rather think y o u k n o w that publication o f a n y t h i n g o f m i n e is not m y a m b i t i o n , that m y a m b i t i o n is o n l y m a k i n g m o r e w o r k a n d so, f o r m e , any such publication as y o u h a v e g i v e n m e as n o one else e v e r did is all so fine an experience, so d a m n e d beautiful a thing, that I d o n o t thank y o u , I love you. S o , w h e n one is that " f r e e " , it doesn't matter to m e if y o u never publish another t h i n g : y o u not o n l y h a v e published m e t u l s o m e l y , but also, I should not deserve to h a v e been published as y o u did publish m e t o h a v e y o u call m e , in C O N T A C T , the center o f y r push (was i t ? ) i f I w e r e not w h o l l y independent. A n d so, w h a t y o u d o d o at e v e r y step o f y r w a y , is crucial to m e : I can e n j o y being published b y y o u so long as I think y o u are g o i n g in a f o r w a r d direction. I w a n t y o u to d o that. F o r I w a n t to stay w i t h y o u .

OK. B a c k to w h a t I take to be the gains o f S P E E D , and L I G H T N E S S . can one edit, and keep these qualities in the material published? ( ( P l e a s e , at this time, refer to that long g o I w r o t e y o u a year and a half a g o , w h e n O R I G I N w a s still in a like s t a g e w h e n I tried to get d o w n to y o u a principle o f w h a t I m i g h t n o w call interaction 0/ pjanesjoj expression: and let me, n o w , suggest a n e w s o m e o f the i m p l i c a -

How

tions, as w e l l as in the light ot y r editing o f O R I G I N t h r o u g h # 5 Y o u say (in this letter b e f o r e me) " I believe.if this n e w m o d e o f presentation is handled w i t h as m u c h freshness and alertness to possibilities that it can be m u c h m o r e e f f e c t i v e as an o r g a n f o r n e w w r i t i n g here and a b r o a d " . Y o u see, this, to m e , is the n u b o f it: ( 1 ) alertness to possibilities (what other possibilities are there, t o d a y , e x c e p t the tremendous interaction o f fields,. so_tremendpjjs. that j h e . d a y j_s just ahead w h e n the scientist w i l l be again solely the_artist, s i m p l y , that the scientist h i m s e l f has f o u n d that the "one m y s t e r y left is., f o r m , and the m o r p h o l o g y o f same and (2) " n e w w r i t i n g , here and a b r o a d " (what k i n d ? " c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g " ? that is mere aestheticism, w h e r e v e r it is, and y o u yrself c a r r y , on yr m a s t h e a d a n d d a m n w e l l m e a n , I k n o w i n g y o u n o t that but w r i t i n g and reading " f o r the c r e a t i v e " w h i c h is a w h o l l y different thing (it is N O T the B e l o i t P o e t r y J o u r n a l , and all that goes w i t h i t n o t one o f those people, and if y o u publish a n y o n e o f t h e m (exception W i l b u r , but G O D H E L P U S not such t w o verses as he w a s u n c o n s c i o n a b l e e n o u g h to allow to be published there) w h o l l y different thing than such " c u l t u r e " cultch or culch, m e a n i n g (literally, l o o k it up) R U B B I S H Y o u see, C i d , this is a hard trade, hard, s i m p l y , that expression is itself h a r d w o r k and the place f r o m w h i c h it c o m e s a l i f e i s a hard thing (there is n o softness a l l o w a b l e in a n y w h e r e , especially in one s e l f a n d I m e a n that f o r m y s e l f as w e l l as f o r y o u )

Let m e repeat m y deepest nervousness about " w r i t i n g a b r o a d " , as an editing principle ( y o u will recall I h e a v e d o f f on this t r o m the start, and feel so that # 4 w a s not C L E A R , s i m p l y , that that p r o b l e m is a deep o n e a n d please, please, G O E A S Y w i t h this g u y you call yr co-translator (look, the trade is also l o n e l y : I k n o w what it is to h a v e a friend, but believe m e i n y o u r b u s i n e s s y o u have (I honestly, seriously t h i n k ) i n y o u r editing o f this n e w venture as w e l l as in O R I G I N y o u h a v e t w o friends, s i m p l y because they are serious m e n , w i t h all that m e a n s a n d I m e a n , m e a n s : C r e e l e y , and O l s o n (they are, and if y o u g i v e t h e m such an o p p o r t u n i t y as 1 6 pages each t w o m o n t h s , y o u can get out o f them p o e m s , stories, plays A N D C R I T I Q U E P L U S O T H E R WRITERS christ, i can see C r e e l e y , right n o w , p o u r i n g M . Elath at y o u as a g u y to catch (like I did B a r l o w h e had not, then, c o m m i t t e d suicide; P e r k o f f he had not then fell back b e f o r e critiqueand P e r c h i k d i d he ever send

you anything?)

and i w o u l d o r do n o w p o u r Elath at y o u . F o r I stumbled on h i m , accidently, m y s e l f , in I N T R O i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f B o b , and n o w that y o u o f f e r such a n e w fresh venture, I ' m telling y o u : G E T E L A T H , and even l o o k o v e r this editor, B r i g a n t e in fact, l o o k o v e r I N T R O (and d o n ' t , please, think that the n e w O R I G I N can't be ahead o f a n y t h i n g : it all depends on the care o f y o u r o w n thinking. B u t please, C i d , d o take s t o c k a n d I d o n ' t m e a n on m o n e y s , etc. On that side, I h a v e full respect f o r y o u , that y o u did i t Y O U D I D I T y o u put that d a m n e d thing out, g o t it out, f o r 5 issues. G a v e m e that ride. W O W . T h i n k o f it, as A C C O M P L I S H M E N T , but also, think o f this other t h i n g : E D I T I N G . It takes absolute h a r d n e s s a n d a series o f the most essential recognitions. L o o k : I so believe in the possibilities I w i l l a n s w e r e v e r y letter y o u send m e o n it on receipt. B u t please: the w a y w e can participatethe w a y I canis if y o u will tell m e , detail b y detail, h o w y o u r thinking goes. A n d if y o u will stay o p e n to all m y o w n thinking in the same area. Y o u see, I k n o w it is hard to take any other m a n ' s conceptions, but believe me, I o f f e r a n y t h i n g not as Olsonisms, n o t at all (be sure o f that) but as w h a t is necessary that i had to learn and a m learning but that i h a v e put a lot into ( 1 ) the kinetics o f t h i n g s a n d so k n o w h o w a m a g a z i n e can be c o m p o s e d kinetically (2) the present state o f k n o w l e d g e a n d so h o w a m a g a z i n e can disclose that state the exactitude o f a w o r k o f a r t a n d so h o w a m a g can g o b y taste, and be not aesthetic the lie o f a w i d e a u d i e n c e a n d so h o w a m a g must live b y the w i l l o f clear m e n , and not trade, f o r an instant, w i t h the t h e o r y that audiences m a k e magazines (question # 2 : h a v e y o u yrself read, or d o y o u think there w a s e v e r m a n y readers f o r T H E L I T T L E R E V I E W , T H E D I A L , or the early P O E T R Y (look w h a t h a p p e n e d to that

(3)

&(4)

thing w h e n the audience w i d e n e d d i d the great poets arise? or did they d a m n well betake themselves o f f f r o m that area, and leave the thing to secondraters, and i m i tators?)

I ' m f o r y o u , but please, let's get g o i n g fresh, fierce, and o p e n l y - -I'll w r i t e a n y issue o f 1 6 pages m y s e l f , a n y t i m e ! T h i s is o n l y a j a b , to m o v e us f o r w a r d v e r y excited, b y the c h a n g e

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w h a t y o u f o r g e t is, a n y o f us asks (expects) m o r e f r o m the thing or person closest to u s o r at least, it matters m o r e w h a t m o v e m e n t f o r w a r d there is, in w h a t is close ( w h a t e v e r one puts on a n y o n e or thing out there, w h a t d r e a m , it it isn't in the end, that thing, it is n o w h e r e near as devastating asthe w o r l d isn't or if it g o e s up in a p u f f t o m o r r o w as y o u or O r i g i n is, to m e , say so d o n ' t f o r a m o m e n t think I put y o u or O r i g i n in any o n e - o n e c o m p a r i s o n s t h a t is, other than O r i g i n - O r i g i n ! A l l 1 shall f o r e v e r ask is that y o u r o w n pages put any single p a g e o f any other m a g to s h a m e ! That, surely, is the m e a s u r e a n d n o m o r e and just because, f o r me, O r i g i n is " m y p l a c e " , y o u will please e n j o y m y c o n c e r n t a k e all critique as that sort o f constant n a g g i n g w e g i v e to those w e l o v e , s i m p l y , that w e w a n t ' e m perfect. O r w h a t is heaven f o r . e.g., on h i m ) that y o u yet (to suport page w h i c h is B j e r k n e s , i w o u l d i m a g i n e ( f r o m m y small reading o f are p r o b a b l y right to keep asking m o r e o f h i m , & such d e m a n d ) y o u must be careful not to publish a single not better than he.

(Ok. T h e s e are simplicitiesand like all such, c o m e across p o l y a n n a to the person w h o hears them f r o m another, j u s t because one does say them to o n e s e l f t h a t ' s w h y they irritate. T h e trouble is, it is so v e r y hard to act s i m p l y . ) Please keep m e o n , on all d e v e l o p m e n t s . For there are signs that O r i g i n has already been that spur a g o o d little m a g is. (1 w o u l d n ' t m y s e l f , read L a u g h l i n ' s F o l l y as any such d a n g e r . A u contraire. It is g o i n g to be such a M a i n Line shit as all such several recently areall the N e w N a t i o n a l i s m (like the 1 5 A m e r i c a n Painters s h o w , in N Y , this spring, and like all C i a r d i a d v e n t u r e s : m o r e sign that the R i g h t and the L e f t are s y n o n y m o u s , n o w ( C h i c a g o and N e w Y o r k are b e c o m e as f i l t h y , in literary and cultural affairs as W a s h i n g t o n financially and p o l i t i c a l l y : I d o n ' t k n o w that I h a v e e v e r sufficiently said to y o u that O R I G I N , s i m p l y that it is f r o m a three-decker in D o r c h e s t e r , is i m p l i c i t l y R I G H T , and C L E A R : Boston. (I h a v e e v e n , to friends, said that it presages a p r o p e r cultural r e v o l u t i o n : O R I G I N , B O S T O N (even the r i m e , and the n a m e o f it, is pure) m y c r y is, the b e l o v e d thing, m a k e it, perfect. A n d w h a t I w o u l d o n l y , solely, constantly, u r g e o n y o u is, y o u r s e l f : m a k e y o u r s e l f in the image o f y r mag. ( N o t vice versa, f o r , tho that sounds logical, it is o n l y l y r i c a l : I h a v e deeply f o u n d that w o r k leads one on, not, one

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leads one's w o r k on.

S o y o u , there: that is, y o u h a v e published

(a)

critique w h i c h g o e s to the heart o f the present p r o b l e m in (1) the kinesis o f culture (2) prose, & narrative, n o w B o b on prose, perhaps m e on T H E E S C A P E D C O C K & ( 3 ) " a r t " n o w B o b , in his letters, say

( ( ( y o u will note i d o not include M o r s e on Stevens, and the reasondear friend is not a n y difference f r o m S t e v e n s i t is n e v e r that easy b u t the degree o f apprehension o f the reality c o n t e m p o r a r y to us. F o r that reality, at any time, is d e m o n s t r a b l y there, and d e m o n s t r a b l y is properly e n g a g e d (this a n y o f us c o m e s to f i n d out not b y a n y eclecticism, but b y that act I m a k e so m u c h o f , recognition. A n d r e c o g n i t i o n rests solely on the w o r k t h e a m o u n t of price paid b y y o u , or m e . Also. Stevens is a p r o f o u n d misleadei s i m p l y that he is in a d e e p l y i m p o r t a n t area ( w h a t 1 h a v e yet n o better w o r d f o r than ornamentation: this is o f such i m p o r t a n c e a n d tho it lies implicit in G a t e and C e n t e r , it is still s o m e t h i n g I should w i s h to e x p l o r e m o r e c o m p l e t e l y in a piece f o r y o u . (I did a j o b on painting here a couple o f w e e k s a g o w h i c h w a s again the k i c k . B u t I w a s not satisfied w i t h it. In fact I w o u l d still say n o n e o f us are that far a l o n g that w e can say (((we m i g h t do))) w h a t it is I N C O L D H E L L , w a s m y try It is that deep, that it is a w h o l l y different disposal o f attention to anything. It is w h a t all the c r y o f m y t h & rite is falsely about It is h o w m e n take life (collectivism is another o f its signs) Y e t it shall c o m e to be in its o w n guise and m o d e r n m a n is altogether too literate yet (in his t h i n k i n g , in his t r y i n g to push it into existence, like as t h o he w e r e capable o f c o u v a d e ! Y o u see, the p r o b l e m is to clear ourselves o f the n e g a t i v e s a l l G r e e k m y t h as w e distribute o u r attention to it after H e r o d o t u s , as w e l l as such m e n o f d e c o r a t i o n as Stevens ( e x a m p l e , is Matisse as i m p o r t a n t as C y T w o m b l y w i l l beis, already, f o r those o f us w h o h a v e had the chance to see his stuff ( T h e fact that y o u d o n ' t k n o w T w o m b l y i s d i r e c t l y m y fault. B u t it

is one o f those lesions o f attention that w o u l d not h a p p e n if y o u w e r e constantly stuck w i t h open space in O r i g i n s i m p l y because y o u w e r e not c o n v i n c e d that M o r s e or that gas station o w n e r or a n y o f those E u r o p e a n poets deserved y o u r space ( ( n o w , right here, d o n ' t , please, C i d , think that y o u need to d e f e n d yourself. D o y o u think 1 think it is easy to get to the point w h e r e one is l e a v i n g w h i t e space w h i t e s i m p l y , that w h a t one w o u l d fill it w i t h , is not fit f o r it? I d a m n w e l l d o n ' t , and, f r o m that little spurt this y e a r w h i c h died o u t t o d o those B r o a d s i d e s I d a m n w e l l learned w h a t a trap editing is, h o w m a n y forces o f practical reality one is i n v o l v e d in, instantly. M y point is o t h e r w i s e : that y o u are m o v i n g in that direction. A n d the i r o n y is, that if one is not so m o v i n g , one is falling back-one is quickly behaving "like others"! F o r g i v e m e it I spell this out a little (and please, m y t o u c h y f r i e n d a n d y o u are, y o u k n o w , and this is as m u c h a sign o f y o u r l i f e I a m , t o o : o n e is f o r c e d to back up o n w h a t one does do because o n e d a m n w e l l k n o w s it ain't a n y t h i n g c o m p a r e d to w h a t one dreams o f d o i n g ((((this is another face o f m y p o i n t at the b e g i n n i n g o f this letter)))) but ( i ) as o f E u r o p e a n p o e t s o r " f o r e i g n " : I honestly d o n ' t think (and I f i n a l l y d o n ' t think y o u d o n ' t think likewise) any c o n t e m p o r a r y o r " n e w " poetsoutside the A m e r i c a n s are capable o f the pushes the A m e r i c a n s are S o : if y o u w e r e taking the clue f r o m y r o w n mastheadthat e p i g r a p h t h e " f o r e i g n " or " E u r o p e a n " or " A s i a t i c " poets y o u w o u l d be publishing SUMERIAN AMERICAN INDIAN MAYAN CHINESE EGYPTIAN ARCHAIC GREEK etc etc

( Y o u see, I d o n ' t believe that a little m a g t o d a y is serving its f u n c t i o n if it takes f o r g r a n t e d the p r o p o s i t i o n w h i c h w a s i m p o r t a n t in the ' i o s and ' 2 0 s w h e n the A m e r i c a n s did need a place to m a k e their h e a v e p u b l i c t h a t N E W w r i t i n g and I N T E R N A T I O N A L culture w e r e called f o r y o u w i l l agree, I think, that b o t h o f these " p l a n k s " are still the d o m i n a n t ones o f the leetle m a g s N o w one reason w h y y r f e l l o w editors are f e a r f u l o f L a u g h l i n ' s H I N D S I G H T , U S A (that latest o f the M A R S H A L L P L A N S , and like those, " i n t e r n a t i o n a l " as the U S E M P I R E is necessarily w o r l d - w i d e (Persian oil, Indonesian rubber, and the d a n g e r f r o m the real massesthe C h i n e s e , Indian, and East Russian) is precisely that H u t c h i n s E t c (State D e p t and Publishers) h a v e s w a l l o w e d

TAA

up their premise (just listen to those pitiful voices, . , . any o f e m or the L e f t , to their anarchist-aesthetic R i g h t ) O R I G I N t h e v e r y n a m e y o u g a v e it: l o o k , it is i m p l i c i t l y n e w , not because it introduces n e w names (it does that, surely, C r e e l e y , Olson!) but because it i n t r o d u c e s o r s h o u l d n e w premises o f experience one thing right o f f the bat w h i c h m a k e s E L A T H fresh, is, that he is already far e n o u g h a l o n g to k n o w that the old necessary quarrel w i t h science is passethat he k n o w s , spang, that methodology hasjdisplaced " t e c h n i q u e ", that K o r s i b s k i is m o r e use to a w r i t e r than a n y o f his f e l l o w writers, etc. (I h a v e n o right to ask that y o u initiate all t h i n g s i n fact, w h i c h one o f us does? i w a s struck, f o r ex., in p r o o f i n g A P O L L O N I U S f o r y o u , to see i h a d used that i m a g e o f violets, s p r i n g i n g up on all sides, in the s p r i n g a s o f m e n , w h e n the time is right all, finally,, 1 a m saying is, lean o n yrself ( w h o had the instinct to create this m a g a z i n e , in the first place, to g i v e it that title, that e p i g r a p h , to be o p e n e n o u g h to publish C r e e l e y , O l s o n , P e r k o i f , that one f i n e p o e m o f W i l b u r ' s , to d o that fresh thing, edit in those personal letters)and lean o n y o u r writers, not all o f t h e m , but those w h o are dedicated not to p u b l i s h i n g t o getting themselves p u b l i s h e d b u t to their w o r k , and that o n l y because they are dedicated to their lives (I'm sure y o u can smell a n y w r i t e r w h o sends y o u stuff m e r e l y to cultivate y r acquaintance in o r d e r to acquire y o u r pages! ((one reason w h y i suspect a n y t o o great a connection on y o u r part w i t h any other little m a g is, that I k n o w myself that such reading deflects one's p r i m a r y attentions in fact, i can g o f u r t h e r , and say that a n y t o o much reading o f mss. c o m i n g in is d a n g e r o u s , s i m p l y , that any o f us a d m i r e g o o d w r i t i n g , and w a n t to publish it it is a pleasure to see a n y m a n arise a b o v e his permanent incoherence) M a k e a d e m a n d o f , say, C r e e l e y and m y s e l f n o t just f o r o u r o w n stuff, b u t f o r any other material w e think right I, f o r e x a m p l e , a m constantly, in r e a d i n g , c o m i n g on those sorts o f d o c u m e n t a t i o n w h i c h I m e n t i o n e d to y o u in that original letter a yr and a half a g o : w h e n i sd B a r l o w , and reprinting Sauer, say right n o w , f o r e x a m p l e , I'd say, reprint the first f i v e pages o f

Christopher Hawkes' T H E P R E H I S T O R I C F O U N D A T I O N S O F E U R O P E Saturday Cid: writing the above so stimulated me, that I launched, and maintained, a five hour go on a backporch all yesterday a f t e r n o o n ! It pivoted around a girl w h o was born a Sirokin in Boston, raised in Van Cortland Park, and is n o w the wife of Billings, the W o r k director here, and w o o d worker. She is of the protest class, w h o harks back rightly to what her parents were (are (Odessa) as against what she finds most of her contemporaries. And what I was faced w i t h w i t h her, her husband, a Lafarge, and the daughter of O h i o middle class wealth!was, exposing the nature of these States to their understanding, their joint understanding. It was fascinatingly difficultas is the reality bearing on us, what? the approximate identity of the R i g h t and the Left, t h a t " C o n s p i r a c y " : h o w to see h o w one system basing itself on credit and so limiting production in the face of its o w n technological f o r w a r d m o t i o n comes more and m o r e to resemble and collaborate (essentially) with another system, basing itself on an unobservable destitution of the masses, which consolidates all p o w e r in a political leadership and ends up expanding only those productions which enable it to oppose the other system in w a r a n d so each comes, by the final act of itself, m o r e to resemble the other than any c o m m o n difference of the citizens of each It is not my kick, as a post-modern and so a post-Darwinian, yet I grapple again and again with these terms, to see. W h a t the session did, though, was to reemphasize for me the conviction that the only morality is art, and that this has been becomes n o w so crucial that one can be sure that art as a principle is once m o r e back in business as the only essential "revolution"that only as men are bred to think of expression as the only social act w o r t h any interchange with another h u m a n being is there anything ahead but more of same, and that it is exactly in this sense that Hawkes (in that passage) lays bare the tremendous change of man which took place sometime in the Pleistocene, w h e n he abandoned evolution as the arising of his species (stopped with his opposable thumb) and substituted culture for evolutiondecided that he wanted most to make things and then, instead of showing his son by example, he invented language to show him and succeeding generations by precept. O n l y in this fact as faith is individuality restoredindividuality, and particulars. And is class as an ambience cut t h r o u g h w i t h all its attendant obfuscations. I believe, for example, that all m e n and w o m e n can danceand this alone is enough to establish expressionthat all other expression is only up f r o m this base; and that to dance is enough to make a whole day have glory, granting that w o r k is called for of each of us. T h e hook is that w o r k will always make sense if dancing is understood to beexpression is the other issue of a day. " O u r class"the non-classthe a-classthe

expressers solely, n o w have the responsibility to restore expression to such p r i m e place. (I take it you understand yr o w n mastheadfor the creativeto be this distributablethat all m e n and w o m e n are "creative" in this sense, that they are capable of "expressing" themselves. And it is the only answer to the spectatorism which both capitalism and c o m m u n i s m breedbreed it as surely as absentee ownership (whether of a leisure class or of a dictatorship, in the "proletarian" sense) doth breed it, separating men f r o m action as surely asas a leadershipthese t w o identities limit production, or regulate it, in that monstrous phrase which turns all things t o w a r d creation's opposite, destruction. For to be a spectator is to assert an ownership in it which is absenteea movie, or a painting, or a poem (and the corrolary is, of course, the actual ownership, by the vested interests, of those m o r e permanent acts of expression which we call "the arts". (You can not o w n a poem until you use itand there is only one w a y you can use a p o e m : it invokes if it is a proper act of expression only its like, that is, expression, n o matter h o w that expression m a y be different f r o m a p o e m . Certainly no poet wants any hearer to write a p o e m h e d o n ' t essentially, believe any other can equal his. (In this sense I understand Blake's proposition that, for a poet, there can be n o other. This is true, not relativeand has to be dealt with as a permanent, not a qualifying, factas an absolute, in this sense in which Pierre Boulez (to w h o m I have inscribed IN C O L D HELL) specifically says music is n o w capable of being absolute: "serial structure of notes (the twelve-tone scale, and postsame) tends to destroy the horizontal-vertical dualism, for 'composing' amounts to arranging sound p h e n o m e n a along 2 coordinates: duration and pitch. W e are thus freed f r o m all melody, all h a r m o n y and all counterpoint, since serial structure has caused all these (essentially modal and tonal) notions to disappear". ((A propos art and technology: techne as root means " a n a r t "

adj.

a n d technic/

technics,

(meaning # 3 reads: Stock Exchange. Designating, or pert, to, a market in which prices are mainly determined by manipulation or speculative conditions. ! n., reads : " T h e doctrine of arts in general; branches of learning relating to the arts"

103

and (to round off these incredible cross-shoots) technology is literally the science of the arts M y interest in this is f r o m a sense that, say, in verse, the technique is n o w something we must expect, is not, as it was such a short time ago, a counter to use as a stick to get the practice cleaned up"verse should be at least as well written as prose"cannot be given the special respect any m o r e than technology can, in our society, or it will run straight ahead into super-science as organization of manthat f o r m must be carefully extricated f r o m these mechanicals (however essential they are)just as carefully as Boulez is after f o r m in serial structure: f o r m , "the shape and structure of anything". Yet we stay faced with the necessity for a w o r d to cover the process by which f o r m is accomplished to the degree that it is deeper than techniqueto the degree that there is a will to f o r m , an initiation in us to express " f o r m s " , to bring them into being. (It is a curious light the Greek equivalentmorphe throws, in this aspect as root to that god M o r p h e u s which needs to be repossessed, by the w a y t o be cleared of Miltonic and R o m a n t i c special use "the fashioner", because of the shapes he calls up before the sleeper. N o t a : you will k n o w , of course, h o w m u c h I take dream to be such a sign of that confusion out of which all but the highest art emerges: I put it that wayso condition itbecause I am led to think that there is a stage where man is tree of dream. And that that stage is where he is utterly clear, limpid, in this sense that he has so possessed his o w n " f o r m " , so k n o w s the structure ot himself (in the face of all other forms) that he works f r o m that alone. This, it w o u l d seem, is about the only excusable w a y in which the w o r d genius might be used. And this use seems, again, to be root-right: fr the verb, to beget. Certainly, finally, if a m a n could so " f r e e " himself into himself as to be bothered by no unconscious shapeto be as much master of that as we take it we are of conscious shapethen, and only then, can he be called a begetter. For that actthe act of birthis the most exclusive one, that, whatever the contributary causes (conception, " t o take in", or procreationwhich does still carry the force of before creation) in the issue the act is one person's, the actual begetting, the physical fact.)

And the w o r d which seems to me of as m u c h m o m e n t as all the concept of " t h e full bearing" which plays so m u c h a part in m y w o r k (and which I believe Elath means w h e n he speaks of "totality") is the w o r d I use

and use and a m n o t sure o f the place and p l a y o f : M E T H O D O L O G Y . like m o r p h o l o g y , this tendency o f the present to a d m i t the " - l o g y " in is h i g h l y significant (it is again the same as a b o v e , that, the principle o f art is n o w as crucial as the w o r k s o f artthat w e shall not again h a v e a habit o f art (persons shall not k n o w h o w crucial expression is, f o r their lives) until w e m a k e a b u n d a n t l y clear h o w art is a principle ( ( ( N o t a , editor o f : " A source or O R I G I N ; p r i m o r d i a l substance; ultimate basis or cause")) M e t h o d o l o g y keeps f o r c i n g itself into m y m o u t h as the w o r d to c o v e r the necessities that the e x e c u t i o n o f f o r m i n v o l v e s . A n d I shall again, right n o w , to see w h a t light I can t h r o w o n it, e t y m o l o g i c a l l y . T a k e it flatly: T h e science o f m e t h o d or a r r a n g e m e n t ; h e n c e : (a) A branch o f l o g i c dealing w i t h principles o f procedure (b) Educ. T h e science w h i c h describes and evaluates arrangements o f materials o f instruction

For,

N o w that m a k e s this sense (in the light o f m y o w n usage o f the w o r d ) that it insists logically u p o n principles o f p r o c e d u r e and, educationally, on arrangements o f materials and this is efficient, if y o u think o f the d o u b l e p r o b l e m ( w h i c h I take as one) o f the person h i m s e l f and any g i v e n f o r m he m a k e s t h a t any o f us is efficient to the d e g r e e that w e d o get d o w n to principles o f p r o c e d u r e ( I d o not k n o w that this secondary stage is arrivable at w i t h o u t the prior d i s c o v e r y that principle itself m a t t e r s ! ) a n d that w e d o see ourselves or a n y g i v e n thing as materials to be arranged T h a t is, y o u w i l l note i a m lending m e t h o d o l o g y , already, kinetic aspects (as it has been used it is d r i l y a f u n c t i o n o f logic and k n o w l e d g e as history). A n d I d o that because o f prior concepts o f C O H E R E N C E ( y o u w i l l recall the push I tried to g i v e this concept in G & C as against the will to disperseor, n o w , I w o u l d m o r e o p p o s e the will to limit, as a false f o r m o f the w i l l to cohere, b e l i e v i n g , d e e p l y , that the act o f the present (on the part o f a m a n o f art) is to capture, f r o m the e n e m y , the v e r y forces w h i c h m a k e t h e m the leadership, v i z : organization, the principle o f

efficiency, the characteristic o f the m a c h i n e (on w h i c h they ultimately base their rulership o f us, not, notice, on us, or on their o w n efficiency) and quantity, the factor o f (that increase, of people,

resources, a n d a n d this is not e n o u g h n o t i c e d o f s i g h t i n g t h e w o r l d , f o r e x a m p l e , as a " v i e w " n o w so a u t o m a t i c (and i a m distinguishing it f r o m the " i n t e r n a t i o n a l " , that i n a c c u r a c y , or at least that " n a t i o n a l " w a y o f putting it; and e m p h a s i z i n g h o w the " w o r l d " as a " o n e " i n the deepest s e n s e k n o c k s all sanctions w h i c h rested o n the l o c a l t h e selfcontained unit o f f a r m , barter, c o o p e r a t i v e , or " n a t u r a l r i g h t s " etc., into a c o c k e d hat In other w o r d s , to turn the totalitarianto e x p o s e i t b y g o i n g b e l o w it to see that it rests on a series o f altogether n e w intellectual premises, m o r e , total premises and b e h a v i o u r s w h i c h the w o r d T O T A L I T Y (understand m e , not as a descriptive phrase, but as a r e c o g n i t i o n o f the d o m i n a n t kinetic w h i c h i n f o r m s the reality w e are a part o f ) does indicate. T o cohere means to stick t o g e t h e r ! T o hold fast, as parts o f the same mass! A n d coherence is defined as connection or congruity arising f r o m s o m e c o m m o n principle or idea N o w if I slug in j u x t a p o s i t i o n and c o m p o s i t i o n b y field, M E T H O D O L O G Y as a w o r d o f m o r e i m p o r t than techniqueas a w o r d also as p r o p e r to the change o f p r o c e d u r e d e m a n d e d o f us in the face o f T O T A L I T Y m a y be m o r e o f the cluster o f f o r c e i take it it is. B u t let's g o back to r o o t : to methodos, and l o o k !

with a w a y , w i t h a via, w i t h a path ( w e g , that w h i c h died, and does not die, w h i c h it is any m a n ' s j o b a n d the m o r e so n o w , w h e n the old w a y is dead, l o n g live the m e t h o d o l o g y in other w o r d s , the science o f the p a t h w h a t c o u l d be m o r e exactly w h a t w e are i n v o l v e d init is not the path, but it is the w a y the path is d i s c o v e r e d ! Q E D

O r e v e n current usage, definition 2 : o r d e r l y a r r a n g e m e n t , elucidation, d e v e l o p m e n t , or classification, m o r e generally, orderliness and regularity or habitual practice of them in actionl

Y o u see, C i d , I am m o r e and m o r e persuaded that the r e v o l u t i o n I am responsible f o r is this one, o f the identity o f a person and his expression (that these are not separable)and that this is w h y art is the o n l y m o r a l i t y yet, saying that, is n o t h i n g c o m p a r e d to getting to grips w i t h h o w that identity is n o w accomplished and w h a t I h a v e suggested herein

is that ( i ) &(2)

T O T A L I T Y is the character o f reality n o w that M E T H O D O L O G Y is the discipline to master it

and the totality o f a person, and his expression, is the d e g r e e o f his act o f o r g a n i z a t i o n , efficiency ( o b v i o u s l y , this w a y , h u m a n ) and quantity (in the sense o f h o w m u c h he m a n a g e s to include and that he has to include one hell o f a lot) and the m e t h o d o l o g y is (1) (2)

to h a v e a path and that such a path is o n l y accomplishable b y the habitual practice o f orderliness and r e g u l a r i t y in action

Ok. I must quit. R a v e n o u s l y h u n g r y (tell y r m o t h e r I think often o f that superb meal she served me)

T h i s w e n t in several directions, but y o u m a y be able to f i n d it o f s o m e use in y r present troubles o v e r the continuance o f the life o f this o r g a n i s m w h i c h y o u b e g o t t h i s thing I l o v e , ORIGIN.

See y o u

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cid taking a break / m a y b e for g o o d , i d u n n o / wish it m i g h t , but will see point o f this card is: w l d y o u ask A . Fang, w h e n y o u see h i m , if M a t h e w s C h i n e s e - E n g D i c t i o n a r y (rev. A m . ed, H a r v a r d '44) is the best one f o r a g r i n g o , h o w m u c h it costs, & if he k n o w s a w a y o f p a y i n g m i n i m u m f o r itthat is, b y discount, or m a y b e 2nd hand a r o u n d those parts much obliged A n d let m e hear f r y o u

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[BMC

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THE POEMS of C. O.

THE THE TRANSPOSITIONS of C. O.

PROSE of C. O.

Cid: such w l d be, f o r m e at this m o m e n t , three b o o k s i shld like to h a v e y o u issuethat is, i put t h e m out to y o u that w a y as ends o f arcs in case y o u do continue to exist as publisher f o r the t e r m after # 8 T H E P O E M S w o u l d bewill beready f o r y o u in O c t o b e r , and m y present desire is to m a k e t h e m v e r y c o m p l e t e : h a v e as m a n y as possible in those 64 p a g e s w l d f a v o r small point type, & w i d e p a g e , so that the full i m p a c t o f t h e m b o t h in line and in n u m b e r m a y be there (after all, it is t i m e s o m e w h e r e a n y o n e m i g h t be able to b u y all that I h a v e d o n e in verse. A n d I care f o r cleanness, and sharpness, o f publication, not d o o - d a d d l i n g

to

T H E P R O S E is such things as the pieces like G & C , and H U , and P V (plus, 1 shld think, m a y b e s w i t c h i n g T H E S T O R Y o f a O , o v e r into this b o o k rather than in the v e r s e ) a n d several unfinished pieces in mss. w h i c h (due to this y e a r plus a w a v e r i n g o f m y aims) i h a v e not w r a p p e d up. B u t w i l l , I'd guess, s o o n ( n o w that I am back at m y last). T H E T R A N S P O S I T I O N S are the least k n o w n and the least d o n e , but t h e y are a project I h a v e been at n o w f o r years (they are, c h i e f l y , f r o m the M a y a n g l y p h s and f r o m the Sumerian). In fact, I w l d o p e n t h e m w i t h L A C H U T E , p e r h a p s p u l l i n g it (like the S t o r y o f O ) o v e r f r o m the p o e m s p r o p e r . (Such a v o l u m e w l d be a chance to establish a b o d y o f discipline f r o m stone & clay w h i c h w l d , f o r m y taste, be o f m o r e use than translations f r o m the P r o v e n c a l or the Japanese. It w l d , in fact, be chips f r o m the w o o d I w o r k most f o r m y o w n p r o p e r verse.)

A n y h o w , this to k e e p y o u , to let y o u k n o w I a m back here (I missed K a t e and C o n , and it w a s costing m e m o r e than I could afford). B u t in a n y case, f o r the n e x t months, i shall be back &' f o r t h , until the e c o n o m i c s declares itself o n e w a y or the other. . . . G o o d luck in all matters, and the fondest regards o f C . O .

Wash Cid:

Wed

Sept 24

N o t to a n s w e r y r letter direct to m e y e s t e r d a y , but to get back to y o u the enclosed S c h w a r t z , w h i c h c a m e in f r B M C in the m o r n i n g mail I d o n ' t think I'll b o t h e r w i t h h i m , in fact, I'd h a v e to see the H e d l e y to d o i t c i d y o u spare y r c o p y f o r a f e w days, to me, h e r e ? . . . Y e t I a m i m m e n s e l y g r a t e f u l to h a v e y o u k e e p calling such things to m y attention. It is like g o i n g out f o r an e v e n i n g to a n y b o d y ' s house the take y o u get o f y r h u m a n c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , and the state o f s a m e ! W h a t such does is i n v o k e m e . N e v e r direct, but such stimulate and m a k e taut m y o w n feelings and t h o u g h t s , and stuff issues (exs., that I did not w r i t e a letter to the G l o u c e s t e r S u m m e r S u n , but I, M A X , 3 a n d H U , as y o u m a y recall, issued f r m y h o r r o r o f N D X I I w a s , in fact, started almost like a r e v i e w . . . . Y o u see, it is so silly to e n g a g e S c h w a r t z , o r H e d l e y , f o r me, h a v i n g o n the r e c o r d , W i n t e r , 1 9 4 5 - 6 , T H I S IS Y E A T S S P E A K I N G , in Partisan R e v i e w , o n the P o u n d C a s e (and not, notice, a n y such late biz as the B o l i n g e n , but, the I N D I C T M E N T , T H E T R E A S O N , the BIZ) on top o f that, as y o u ' d k n o w , in the C r e e l e y c o r r e s p o n d e n c e , there is a steady spate o f e x a m i n a t i o n b y m e o f E . P . ' s limits, not this lazy biz, " g r e a t p o e t r y " but o , such miserable politics. B u t h o w great is the verse, and w h a t v a l u e is there in the politics. A n d the m a j o r thing, the m y t h o - c u l t u r e m e a s u r e o f h i m ( w h a t these little lib-labs a n d seedy y o u n g m e n o f g o o d w i l l d o n ' t e v e n guess is the d e m a n d to be put u p o n h i m , y o u , m e , t h e m , a n y b o d y these flat times

110

Wash Fri Nov 7 Cid. . . All's well. I a m s o r r y to h a v e been so silent. B u t it is one o f those times w h e n o n e is in a necessity w h i c h i n v o l v e s such a c o n centration o n e leaves o f f all other intercourse . . . H o w are y o u ? and w h a t is the latest literary n e w s ? (I feel as far a w a y as t h o u g h I w e r e in H u d s o n B a y or Sitka, and w i n t e r e d - i n . Y e t I rise, too, to the t h o u g h t o f w o r k ahead, o n c e I h a v e c o m e i n t o possession o f m y self again. (I spent so m u c h , B l a c k M t . ) . In fact b e g i n to really c h e w & s a v o r getting that v o l u m e r e a d y f o r y o u .

O K t o be o n , this o n e d a y at least. A n d fondest regards & hopes y o u yrself are moving

ill

[Washington] Cid

Wed

N o v 25

W h a t I a m in is something only I could get into. It is not a crisis. It is one of those central crucial e n g a g e m e n t s some m e n do, I suppose, walk up to (in the dark, &, I guess, in the middle of life) A n y h o w , it is w h o l l y exclusive, & excludingallows n o t h i n g in but itself. And for the 1st time in m y life I am finding out w h a t it is to have a wife, and friends. Y o u are m y f r i e n d : you have given me the only continuous audience I have ever had. N o w : . t w o days ago I had sat d o w n to w r i t e you to tell you m y present state is so essentially w h e r e m v verse came f r o m that to look at any of it d o n e previously was literally u n b e a r a b l e t r a u m a t i c , say. A n d so to beg back n o t only that Jan. 1st deadline, but also to tell you that, if I could d o it at all, it m i g h t be at an i m p o s s i b l e e v e n dangerouscost. N o w this m a y be present& in a thing like this, time can swell & break in an instant. But m y hunch is, k n o w i n g the scholar I am, that I w o n ' t let any of this g o (and it is my very w h o l e life back to backwards) until it's exhausted. Instead of writing you, again " T h e M o t h e r " in m y present vinegar swelled, and I was taken o v e r : Result, due to delay: t w o letters in t r o m Creeley (1st I've heard), a n n o u n c i n g R o e b u c k Press, promising Olson M A Y A N L E T T E R S (a terrific gift to m e just n o w ! ) , and asking to d o the Origin Poems100 bucks, he says! M y present situation leads me to go h i m one f u r t h e r o r (depending on your decision b e t w e e n Sankey & Creeley) a c o u n t e r - o f f e r : in any case, that the j o b will be sure to be edited, at least, if he, as another friend, will be m y stand-in, in this emergency. I have written to ask h i m . Will you, therefore, C i d : (1) accept R o b t to do m y part of the jobselect the poems, type, pages, etc? &(2) consider even more, in the light of (1), the possibility of having them, there, d o the v o l u m e ?

It will be the finest thing I can h o p e for at this j u n c t u r e if the t w o of you can c o m e to the best agreement, and thus insure that m y present situation doesn't cause me to f u m b l e , d o w r o n g l y , or lose this publication I have set m y heart o n & have p r o f o u n d l y thanked you, inside myself, for m a k i n g possible. . . . A n y h o w , as I say, this thing I a m in the grip of leaves m e of 110 use to anyone, not even m y wife & child. So believe me, Cid, all you can do to get our j o b done thru R . C . will be the very biggest help to me in m y need.

[Washington]

ist w o r k i n g plan f o r : IN C O L D HELL, IN T H I C K E T poems Charles Origin Boston, 1953 Olson

Dec 4-5, 1952

in l o w e r right corner o f r i g h t p a g e o p p . c o p y r i g h t back o f title-p y r eyes, y r naiad arms

next right p a g e to carry a large n u m e r a l " I " , and on the same LA P R E F A C E

page,

the b o o k p r o p e r to o p e n on the 3rd right page, to be m a r k e d p a g e 1 , with THE KINGFISHERS and the f o l l o w i n g p o e m s to f o l l o w in n o r m a l o r d e r and to m a k e up section I: A B C ' s 1 , 2, 3 THERE WAS A YOUTH WHOSE NAME WAS THOMAS GRANGER S I E N A , 1948 OTHER THAN AT Y O R K T O W N THE PRAISES

next right pages after Section I, to carry a large n u m e r a l " I I " , and, on same page, LA C H U T E Section II to o p e n w i t h I N C O L D H E L L , and to be f o l l o w e d b y : MOVE OVER

A ROUND & CANON T H E M O O N IS T H E N O . 1 8 T H E T O W E R (La T o r r e ) FOR SAPPHO, B A C K THE R I N G OF AN ODE ON NATIVITY

next right p a g e after Section II, to carry a large n u m e r a l " I I I " , and, on same p a g e , T H E L E A D E R (in shortened, sharpened, revised version)

Section III to open w i t h T H E

GERHARDT

and to be f o l l o w e d b y A P O - S Y , A P O - S Y A DISCRETE GLOSS CONCERNING EXAGGERATION M E R C E OF EGYPT

and the b o o k to close w i t h K N O W I N G A L L W A Y S , I N C L U D I N G T H E T R A N S P O S I T I O N O F C O N T I N E N T S , w h i c h end A m e r i c a , E u r o p e , Asia, I h a v e n o f u r t h e r use f o r y o u : y o u r c l a m o r divides m e f r o m l o v e and f r o m n e w noises

Cid

Y o u see? A l l the biz. has g o t m e o f f m y arse. N o w I d o n ' t care w h a t c o m e s , hell or h i g h w a t e r ! (All I h a v e to d o n o w is t y p e ! ) B u t I h o p e n o t h i n g c o m e s but a h a n d s o m e b o o k ! (For after sitting d o w n to such funeral b a k e d meats, I c r a v e h o r n p i p e s f r o m the printers!

D o n ' t , in any case, let a n y t h i n g take a n y o f y o u r pleasure a w a y f r o m the venture t o o ! Let m e hear W E ' R E OFF!! ray! HooAmore all

114

[BMC

18 J a n 5 3 ] sat nite

cid: a fast note, to tell y o u y r letter o f 1 3 t h w a s in m y hands last n i g h t B U T (the mails are so n u t t y ) C r e e l e y ' s letter to m e on M S S ( p r o b l e m o f sect 4 etc etc) o n l y c a m e in here b e f o r e supper tonight! (a 4 d a y differential b e t w e e n B o s t o n and here!) Anyhow: decided a cable w a s called f o r . Which went off

an h o u r a g o s a y i n g : O n B o o k trust y o u c o m p l e t e l y S T O P T h e r e f o r e Section 4 out S T O P A l l thanks and luck For he sure did s o u n d g r i m ! ( H a v e just d r o p p e d h i m additional note

saying, lift, lad, the point o f this is the three o f us n o t lose the lustre. ( T o l d h i m i had n o t e f r y o u saying to m e o k o k o k . And I

was passing it on to h i m : o k o k o k . ) . . . S o : it ends o n L A C H U T E . all too. ( W h y not, a d m i t it?) A n d that, I think, is a h a p p y thing o f it

A n d the p a g e breaks he sends us both is a sign o f care & d a m n e d g o o d sense, d o n ' t y o u t h i n k ? (I checked those and they seem e x c e p tionally g o o d ) . I N F A C T , I think he seems to h a v e cause to be less g r i m ! and I? Well. Y r letter to m e w a s e q u a l l y s o u n d ! OK. W e ' r e o v e r there, being printed, I guess, eh? . . . and y o u

H5

[BMC]

mon.

jan.

26

c i d 7 just in a half hr a g o (but d o n ' t let m y speed diminish in y r m i n d the edge o f m y response: f o r i h a v e the feeling this is all too i m p o r t a n t f o r m e n o t a t least, on yr o w n t h i n g s t o g i v e e m the carefullest w o r k , so that y o u m a y begin to see w h a t the task is n o r d o i arrogate to m y s e l f a n y t h i n g y o u h a v e n ' t g i v e n m e in putting m e there O R I G I N s o a n d s a y i n g , he's . . . central . . . f o r so m u c h o f all o f this (I h a v e n ' t read B e n n ' s d i a l o g , e x c e p t to sample it, and already despair, that a m a n w h o w r o t e M O R G U E shld not know the dialog is one o f those f o r m s o n l y such stuffed birds as V a l e r y . . . just that use alone fits that cry o f his that, N o b o d y ' s Y r s (His): shit, it's a n y o n e ' s , not those hortations, e x p e c i a l l y , N O T that christly lie, (Lohner's) the p o - e t ' s t h e P O E - E T T E S (it gets m e h o w a m a n w h o did M O R G U E / d o e s n ' t get better (and Enslin using the bar / so f a l s e l y t h a t valuable t h i n g : h o w can he be so cute w i t h public p r o p e r t y . . . T h i s is w h y I must tell y o u . verse): S O M E W H E R E (and it must, f i n a l l y , be y o u a s y r verse can s h o w ) U S E , A N D N O W , are g e t t i n g - T H I S I S S U E TOO FUCKING ORGANIC (I w i s h I had caps as big as these w o r d s must g o into YOU TOO FUCKING D R E A R Y AND FLAT A n d tell y o u m o r e (by the w a y o f y r o w n

(christ, arise, a w a k e , and g o alert m y son: use that w h i c h m a n ' s g o t to replace his mitts, his

116

HEAD

(yrs, Benn's, MINE (it's m y head feels

C H O P P E D O F F i g o crazy thinking o f such a j u x t a p o s i t i o n as M I S S rain in the t w a t f o r chrissake, in o r i g I N ? N o u n s , and i m a g e : to M E : g o d , c o r m a n , y o u must g o to school y o u must take it: y o u must L E A R N ( e x a m p l e , the R e d O a k . I d o not despair. T h e f o x skin isn't bad. Butjesus: C I D : : : : it A I N ' T that E A S Y , bro., n o t at all, not that easy B e n n , likewise, in all that stuff (after H O L D E R L I N G ? if that is w h a t p a t m o s is, he (benn) shld SHUT UP These are S E R I O U S THINGS (I find m y s e l f not s o m e o f the g i f t , but s o m e : but 1 b a n g out S O S O O N the public b a n g i n g Enslin (that he has not as m u c h as benn in 1 9 1 2 , you Y O U into f o r letting him NOT NOT NOT

domain: as w e l l , y r -

self ( w h y not, w h e n y o u h a v e this citizen here, and say y o u value h i m , w h y not let h i m g o o v e r y o u , dig y o u , s a y : there's M U C H to be learned (for e x . , to w r i t e in quatrains, y o u better then behave BEHAVE: y o u better (learn h o w to) rune cid,

arise, and g o to school: hang that one on this issue; 7 o'clockand A M , mind you, breakfast, time to milk the c o w s FIRSTchores, you damned pseudo-Su merians

N O , cid. I can't grant this o n e passagepassaje : I cry N O Passaran! A n d I cry it f r the necessity to KEEP P R O P E R COMPANY! (I'll be back on w i t h details, that is, I'll be o n y r b a c k , on Y O U , who has g o t to get u p !

It's altogether a question o f being Simpler M O R E M O D E S T Y , all hands a - r o u n d !

STRAIGHTER

(& as C h a p l a i n sd to the n e w s p a p e r m a n : " A n d simplest, m y b o y , A I N ' T simple."

118

[BMC] cid: n o w i've got m e k e e p filing the get to that terrible lines and things o f

tues m o r n

j a n 26

y o u on m y m i n d t h a t y o u ' v e put yrself therelet feelings as t h e y c o m e to m e until such time as i can task o f h a n g i n g it all on w h e r e it c o m e s f r o m : the the verses (((and d o h o l d : it m a y b e a s , e.g., it w a s f o r R C / that o n l y last w e e k cid, i, after an 8 m o n t h s a c c u m u l a t i o n o f his p o e m s in mss here, sit d o w n and attack i t d o the j o b

f o r that sort o f j o b is m o r e difficult than to w r i t e verse i t s e l f m u c h m o r e ( w h y , e . g . , critique is such a thing to be respected and w h y it can't be d o n e as it is almost e x c l u s i v e l y d o n e in the p u b l i c print, as r e v i e w s , or as i n t r o d u c t i o n s , or all that s h i t " c r i t i q u e s " " c r i t i c i s m " , that p h o n e y trade

OK. T h e p o i n t is, to say this to y o u c a m e to m e as i w a l k e d along the p o n d t r y i n g to find t w o stillson w r e n c h e s to take a stone K a t e put d o w n thesink o u t : w h y y o u can hear m e is precisely the reason i cid sit at y r table, and e n j o y y r father, sister, m o t h e r , those chops, and t h e m a n d y o u y o u see, C i d , y o u d o not w r i t e o f , b y , abt, f o r , in a n y w a y CORMAN and i k n o w the reason: that it is the i m m e n s e l y difficult thing f o r a n y h u m a n being to d o is: T O S P E A K O F O N E ' S SELF A N D O N E ' S T H I N G S especially us, us heteros o f these States & tenements, as I a m , as y o u are, w h o HAVE ONLY OURSELVES

y o u must cease instantly to think o f a p o e m as a n y t h i n g but an expression o f T H A T W I T H W H I C H Y O U A R E A S P E C I A L I S T - w h i c h has to be, if it is a poem, Y R S E L F , Y R T H I N G S , n o o n e else's, n o t h i n g else but that w h i c h y o u are S U R E o f and y o u must be prepared to f i n d that y o u h a v e L I T T L E to speak o f : that, surprisingly e n u f , is w h a t w e all f i n d t h a t a s T h e C o n f u s e r sdit's all/as much/as on the back of/a postage stamp C L E A R L Y , y o u are w r i t i n g abt

w h a t y o u think are the p r o p e r subjects o f w r i t i n g n o t at all abt one, C I D CORMAN: please hear me. I a m g i v i n g y o u a present. It's yrself. W e A m e r i c a n s h a v e n o t h i n g but o u r personal details. D o n ' t let a n y o n e f o o l y o u , a n y poet, a n y b o d y . T h e r e is n o t h i n g but all the details, sensations, facts w h i c h are solely k n o w n to C i d C o r m a n . And y o u must stick to t h e m g e t t h e m s t r a i g h t e v e n if ( A S I T D A M N W E L L IS) N O T H I N G . U n d e r s t a n d ? It w i l l s e e m d o e s seem to y o u N O T H I N G : thatis

w h y y o u are w r i t i n g abt a n y t h i n g e v e r y t h i n g b u t C O R M A N . B e c a u s e C o r m a n to C o r m a n is Z E R O . w h a t y o u d o n ' t k n o w is, that that is as it is f o r a n y o n e but the p s e u d o - w h a t e v e r : that w e b e g i n w i t h Z E R O a r e O. (If Lear sd zero, then believe h i m f o r he w a s talking it straightas a S h k will B u t y o u must f o r g e t S h k O l s o n B e n n a n y b o d y B U T c o r m a n : as it is it is all o v e r c o r m a n ' s w i l l , not c o r m a n get m e ?

J u s t start f r scratch. W r i t e childlike, if y o u like. W r i t e like y o u d o n ' t h a v e any m o r e right to use l a n g u a g e than as, in the 3 r d g r a d e , they told us that a sentence w a s a c o m p l e t e t h o u g h t . M a k e a n y sentence a c o m p l e t e thot and a p a r a g r a p h w r i t e it like the b o o k s say, n o t like writers n o w can't w r i t e a p a r a g r a p h (i m e a n those writers w h o s h o w t h e y h a v e started f r o m scratchdid f i n d out to b e g i n is to b e g i n w i t h n o t h i n g t h a t b i g r o u n d O w h i c h is o n l y w h a t w e can honestly say is s o m e t h i n g w e h a v e k n o w n Y o u see, it s h o w s instantly, w h e t h e r a m a n is talking abt that w h i c h he k n o w s o r is talking abt w h a t he wishes he k n e w C i d , believe m e (this is not at a l l a n y o f t h i s o l s o n i s m : it can't be d u c k e d b y assuming 1 a m talking s o m e d o c t r i n e : I a m talking the most o r d i n a r y c o m m o n (I think the w o r d is) sense: a m a n can o n l y express that w h i c h he k n o w s N o w the f u r t h e r difficulty is, w e think w e k n o w . A n d that t o o is a mare's nest: w e d o n ' t e v e n k n o w until w e bend to the m o d e s t y to say w e h a v e n o t h i n g to say. T h e n w e offer

o u r conjectures abt w h a t it is w c h a v e f o u n d to w o n d e r abt: that's w h a t a p o e m is, a conjecture abt an experience w e are, f o r w h a t reason, seized b y B U T I M E A N S E I Z E D . has to be s o m e t h i n g on o u r m i n d , really on our mind, at the heart o f u s w h e r e it hurts

I p r o m i s e y o u : the m o m e n t y o u say in verse a thing w h i c h registers on m e as a thing w h i c h sounds to m e as tho it is w h e r e y o u hurt, I'll tell y o u , quick. B u t y o u must start i n : y o u must say, cid, b e g i n w i t h , c i d N O T H I N G else

A n d i o f f e r y o u this bait: I T IS W H A T Y O U WANTl a poet. W e l l , take it f r m e : a n y o f us has to B E G I N . y o u is the b e g i n n i n g , IS T H E B E G I N N I N G .

Y o u actually w a n t to bt A n d w h a t I am telling

A n d at the same t i m e let m e m a k e y o u a p r o m i s e : y o u w o n ' t be w h a t y o u w a n t to be until y o u talk abt p o r k c h o p s ! It a i n ' t a n d n e v e r w a s a n y different. Ok. Sermon #2. Ergo, sum

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[BMC] Mon Feb 2 (the d a y o f the b e g i n n i n g o f olson's e i g h t - w e e k stint o f eight lectures plus, on, the n e w sciences o f m a n , an Hinstitute c u l m i n a t i n g , the last three w e e k s w i t h three others here, C h r i s t o p h e r H a w k e s , f r o m E n g l a n d , author o f " P r e h i s t o r i c Fndts o f E u r o p e " , D r . M a r i e - L u i s e v o n Franz, associate o f J u n g f r Y u r r u p , and R o b t B r a i d w o o d , f r Oriental Inst, there, C h i a n d j u s t back f r e x c a v a t i o n s J a r m o , and other sites, into earliest k n o w n t o w n s o f m e n , there, Iraq, Iran. . .

(the w h o l e s h o w ' s k n o w n hereabouts asso C o n tells m e " O l s o n ' s t h i n g " . . .

letter: H o , h o , cid c o r m a n , o n , olson being v a g u e . H a - h a , as the other citizen sez: w h e n the d a y c o m e s i cut into a mss o f cid c o r e man, w o w ! Y o u shld see the o l d m a n w h e n he is after lines, images, the turnings o f lines into each other and f r o m same the e m e r g e n c e o f that f o r m w e are still so foolish as to call a p o - e m ! Ho! landsman! but all such things must, n o w , g i v e w a y to maps, charts, dates, arches, dreams, origins, research, such stuff, such stuff! F o r the next eight w e e k s I shld be n o b o d y ' s d a d d y ( m y o w n stuff goes like thistho n o b o d y w i l l e v e r see these titlesthe " l e g e n d " o f a m a p w o n ' t be done but shld be if the g u y w h o k n o w s silk screen process here w e r e n ' t such a neat shit: T h e C a v e , or, Painting T h e C u p , or, D a n c e T h e W o m a n , or, Sculpture T h e V a l l e y , or, L a n g u a g e T h e Plateau, or, the H o r s e , or, W a r L a g a s h , or, the H e r o T h e b e s , o r , the C i t y T h e Sun, or, Self

A feller, n a m e ' s C r e e l e y , is v e r y busy o v e r there, I gather, w h a t ?

OK

keep c o m i n g

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[BMC] CID!!!!!!!! to T E L L y o u

27 M a r c h 53]

W H A T A T H I N G I T IS to g i v e y o u all: T H A N K S ! ! f o r i think ( f o n d l y ) the B O O K is b e a u t i f u l c a n ' t get o v e r w h a t a j o b the lad did the 1st time he t o o k such a task in hand b y g o d , almost perfect: and the point is, it w l d n ' t a been had not y o u sd, let it b e : 1 a m full o f that rejoicing as w e l l (I read the things last night, as the last session o f this d a m n e d instituteenclosed w i l l g i v e y o u s o m e clue to w h a t i h a v e been up to, and w h y i had to be o f f the h o o k so l o n g d o e x c u s e it, please ( a b o v e squash is K a t e ' s , w h o plays a n e w g a m e h o l d i n g o n to the carriage o f the m a c h i n e ! w e h a v e pictures o f her to send y o u & the folks, but w e can't f i n d the d a m n things! will tho and the type, and the p a g e , reads like c r e a m (i think R o b t is rite, w h e n he sez, it's h u m a n , that b o o k , feels like h u m a n s m a d e it I t j u s t is the greatest, like they s a y t h a t is, the b o o k , O # 8 . Am in a d r e a m . O K . T o tell y o u , and, to tell y o u ! A l l the biggest pleasures f o r yrself t o o in it

[BMC] Cid

Apr 9

B e e n i n v o l v e d in a run o f 4 n e w M a x ' s ( p r o v o k e d b y F e r n n i ' s 4 w h a t e v e r they ares) D o n e today. S o n o w it's o n l y a question o f final mss o f all eight (fr y r # 1 , thru 8) to be published Stuttgart (I m a y h a v e told y o u , w i t h G e r h a r d t , as printer-designer) by a fellow named Williams: The Maximus Poems title: 1-8 W i l l see y o u get carbons o f the n e w ones (did y o u h a v e a l o o k at # 4 , " T h e Songs, of M a x i m u s " ? ) A n d then I'll be able to tell y o u again w h a t a d a m n e d big pleasure 0 8 w a s , is, shld be f o r several & s u n d r y (keep a flock f o r the B M C citizens; they w a n t to b u y ) A n d to tell y o u y o u r m o t h e r shld h a v e seen K a t e in those green t o w e l i n g p a j a m a s ! She l o o k s like s o m e t h i n g o f the C o m m e d i a del A r t e ( v e r y b e a u t i f u l m u c h m o r e so than in a plain l o n g nightshirt!) OK. J u s t to k e e p us on.

(These n e w M a x i e s r o u g h up V i n e c o n s i d e r a b l y I w a s s h o c k e d b y both the choice o f things, & their putting together (to put c h o w d e r b e f o r e a M a x i m u s o r at least such a one, as that one, # 3 !! B u t this is o n l y a part of the bigger wrong. H o l d his hand (tho I d o n ' t think he deserves f o r g i v e n e s s ) I just hate that the necessities (at least as I take t h e m are b i g g e r than w e are o n l y hate it, that he had to g o & get caught in the w r i n g e r

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[BMC] cid: that's old Pop-off for you, eh? (in fact, not at all obliged to him, to hear it is at least an i m p r o v e m e n t on, the usual, silentia of the appearance of oneself, before THE PUBLIC

sat may 23

(what gets meeach timeis h o w Bill suddenly trots out a vocabulary which has been in the attic, sometimes: it puzzleth me. " w i t h some w o r k " , he says. O r something. Well,

that, it seems to me, is where i do ride up. the inevitable he's looking for, isn't there (I'm

And so,

slippery . . .

PS : the funniest thing is, Prefacefrom inside the maker of em allis the one has, for sd maker, the lack of GIMP! Thus it's the last one I'd be likely to imitate! Let m e hear, back

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[BMC] Cid

A u g 29

I ' v e been s l o w , this s u m m e r , actually too m u c h g o i n g on here for the likes o f m e , Pondcrosa Americana! B u t yr note in, & Miss A v i s o n ' s finely d r a w n w o r d s ( w h i c h , m a y I keep, f o r a couple ot days?), arouse me. W h a t I did d o , w a s read 1 - 1 0 o f M a x o n e S u n d a y night, & 1 1 - 2 2 the next S u n d a y . A n d it taught m e (at least, that the performing o f verse takes as m u c h care as D a v i d T u d o r , here, gives to p l a y i n g sd piano so m a g n i f i c e n t l y that if y o u e v e r hear he's B o s t o n , catch his concert.) E x a c t l y w h e r e I am on that p o e m I a m not sure. . . .

A l s o , I cannot r e c o m m e n d to y o u & to V i g e e too s t r o n g l y , the idea o f getting a piece f o r if 1 1 f r o m Pierre Boulez, the c o m p o s e r (to w h o m 1 shall inscribe the p o e m " C o l d H e l l " t o his D e u x i e m e S o n a t e w h e n as it w a s n ' t the past t i m e a n inscription is possible). F o r B o u l e z is one o f the singular m e n alive. A n d any thing he says is w o r t h listening to. (If V i g e e is not in touch w i t h h i m there, I can take steps to ask B o u l e z to let y o u h a v e a piece. O r , better, get y o u his address, Paris, and y o u dig h i m , direct. ( T h o u g h all his w r i t i n g k n o w n to m e is on c o m p o s i t i o n , yet even that is instructive to the other arts, including writing. A n d he is so a w a r e o f f o r m p r o b l e m s , that he c o u l d as w e l l do y o u , direct, f r o m the base o f music, a w i t t y , sharp piece on " t h e C r e a t i v e " as o f n o w . . . .

K e e p me on.

A n d m a n y m a n y thanks f o r y r n e w s & Miss A v i s o n !

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[BMC] el cid:

sept 24

did it (and w i s h i'd put in c a r b o n , so that y o u m i g h t read t o o ! F o r it rolled out like a carpet! A n d w a s a pleasure to do. F o r I f o u n d y r project excellently put. A n d had the opposite o f trouble pointing out the pertinence o f y r a c h i e v e m e n t s to it. In fact added a note saying flatl y , that this w a s o n e o f those times a r e c o m m e n d a t i o n w a s all g r a v y t h a t I cldn't see h o w a m a n m o r e j o i n e d to a plan as y o u & it. W o v e it aroun y o u , O r i g i n , & y r instinctive w i d e & international " e x c h a n g e " . In fact g o t s o m e such plug as this i n : that y o u h a v e m a d e B o s t o n w h a t it has not been f o r a v e r y l o n g time in literary & cultural affairs: the hub it used to pride itself u p o n b e i n g ! A n d t h o u g h ( b e t w e e n us) I think y o u , a w e l l as all o f us N e w E n g l a n d e r s (the C r e e l , the B l a c k w h o burns m y arse, the L y n n Fish, and those I d o not k n o w e n o u g h to call them names (Eigner, the C a p e C o d lad, etc.) that all o f us are o n l y parts o f a Landsgeist w h i c h has n o w , again, reasserted itself. . . (note: spelled it out most recently reading the mss o f an e x - A i r F o r c e strut fr T r e n t o n ( P r o n o u n c e d " T r u n n o n " ) N . C . , w h e n I sd, if y o u study narrative w i t h m e ; y o u w i l l h a v e to discover that certain N e w Englanders have e x p o s e d the local ( w h i c h has m a d e S o u t h e r n e r s the o n l y successful story tellers f o r 20 y e a r s i n fact, since H e m i n g w a y w r o t e " A f t e r the S t o r m " , the end o f the national sociological school o f the p r e v i o u s 30 years) they h a v e e x p o s e d the local b y d e m o n s t r a t i n g that the particular is a s y n t a x w h i c h is universal, and that it can not be d i s c o v e r e d except l o cally, in the sense that any h u m a n i s m is as w e l l place as it is the person, that another o f Socrates' crimes ( w h o w a s i m p r o p e r l y punished) was, that he did g i v e polis its death b l o w w h e n he cried, B e , a C i t o y e n , du M o n d e , that just this again is one o f the G r e e k things w h i c h w e late citizens o f B o s t o n & e n v i r o n s o f the G e o m e t r i c C u l t u r e (the houses, e v e n the three-deckers, yrs, and m i n e , W o r c e s t e r ; the w h a r v e s ; the mills; the C o m m o n ; rocks, birds, difficulties; the plate glass, w h i c h must be shattered) h a v e shattered that dialect, is out o f business, as w e l l as one w o r l d is, as politics, also being u n d o n e b y the H u b of Universe O K , citizen. A pleasure.

A s to o u r g o i n g matters, please excuse m y apparent delays: tho I h a v e had to put m y w e i g h t behind the C o l l e g e just at the m o m e n t (to o p e n it a n e w , and drive it t o w a r d s o m e long (at least 3 - y r ) plan, the real thing is that 1 have been lost in a q u a n d a r y about the M a x i m u s p o e m since

I w r o t e y o u that letter abt such p r o b l e m s o f a l o n g p o e m in J u n e , w a s it? A n d it has been a h e a d y t h i n g , to try to lick i t t o see w h e r e (as I felt I had) I had g o t o f f its p r o p e r track (with # 2 4 , and t h r o u g h # 3 3 ) . And it has meant the hardest sort o f both w a n d e r i n g a w a y and cutting it. But the upshot has been h a p p y . A n d tho I h a v e n ' t been able (due to the recent push to t h r o w in, w i t h the C o l l e g e ) to w r i t e the n e w b a t c h p r o b a b l y another decade o f ' e m , one is already done, called Letter X , s i m p l y , that w h e n I did w r i t e it ( t w o w e e k s ago) I hadn't, then, seen the path f o r w a r d . But I did, last S a t u r d a y . A n d the m o m e n t things lift a little, I should be able to m o v e it o f f its arse. N o t that there has been any d r a g . A c t u a l l y , as I think 1 must h a v e told y o u , 1 1 - 2 3 g o t solid in A u g u s t , and are sitting f o r final mss the m o m e n t I hear f r W i l l i a m s that he is r e a d y to m a k e B o o k

Craziest thing o f all! that recent researches all on !!!! If there is an old b o o k s t o r e near y o u , d o k e e p y r eye out f o r a n y stuff on settlement o f yr t o w n , especially Roger Clap's M e m o i r s , 1 8 4 4 (one o f the first settlers). M u c h obliged. ( T h e y sailed to B o s t o n B a y in the Mary & John, 1 6 3 0 a n y t h i n g on the vessel, too. A l s o an earlier g r o u p o f 40, in 1 6 2 9 , on the L y o n ' s W h e l p ! ) Youw h o h a v e n e v e r c o m e to grips w i t h any p l a c e o r person to be that m u c h a part o f w h a t is there! that situation not the isolated fort. this is reason the drag o f one line on another going on to get on w i t h it

O h yeah! "Dorchester"

even a lead leaf has m o r e life in it.

rephrase the v o y a g e out is the v o y a g e in

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[BMC

18 N o v 53]

C i d ! . . . m u c h i n v o l v e d w i t h act o f : N O U N , h o w it is not handle but p r o p e r l y tailthat o n e shld h a v e to w o r k one's w a y thru anything (any person) B E F O R E . . . that the K N O W N shld precede n o u n . Whereas, it is w h a t c o m e s ahead, and so, w e are so s w i f t , w e take the n a m e as. . . . and so hinder just w h a t the real is, w h a t w e d o n ' t k n o w until it is, known. T h a t the " s h i f t is s u b s t a n t i v e " , as C r e e l e y tells m e I d o say in letter 5 o f the M a y a n Ls. N o r is this, i suspect, w h a t it m i g h t l o o k like, w h a t W C W w a s after, in G R A I N . I suspect B i l l ' s n o m i n a l i s m is so t h o r o u g h he lost his g a m e a t least that after G r a i n the n o m i n a l i s m stayed f i x e d . A n d thus he w e n t the opposite path f r that one w h i c h Grain showed him. O r a n y o n e . T o the Pelasgians. (It is a h u g e error, imposed o n B i l l in r e v i e w o f K o c h b y G . S m i t h in last N M Q , that B i l l ' s ethic was E m e r s o n ' s self-reliance. W r o n g w r o n g w r o n g . in fact such a shame (and on C r a n e & P o u n d too) that i h a v e w r i t t e n m y 1st letter to the T i m e s ! T o Lash, t w o pages, e x p o s i n g , this S m i t h . H o p e he'll print it, so y o u see it. T h a t is, if i think E P g a v e any o f us the m e t h o d o l o g i c a l clue: the R A G - B A G ; bill g a v e us the lead o n the L O C A L O r put it that pat: E P the v e r b , B I L L the N O U N p r o b l e m . T o do. A n d w h o , to do. Neither of them: W H A T . T h a t is, E P sounds like w h a t , but w h a t his is is only m o r e m e t h o d o l o g y , in fact, s i m p l y , be political. Politicsnot economics is h i m . A n d validly. F o r (1) politics is a c o n t e x t as w i d e as nature, and not o n l y w h a t w e call " p o l i t i c s " ; and (2) its essence is w i l l . W h i c h latter w i l l i s w h a t E P cares abt. A n d w h y he hates d r a m a h : that it is the alternative o f act in art to politics (dran, to do. W i l l contradicts tragedy, insists u p o n cause & effect in the face o f stupidity ( w h i c h is so close to " l i f e " that o n e can call it either w a y (that is, if one is P o u n d ! A n d Bill's w h a t , at heart, isn't a n y m o r e than (no matter h o w m u c h he d a m n w e l l is) than, B i l l a s m u c h as he does m a k e it possible f o r any m a n to breathe h i m s e l f in like m a n n e r . T h a t is, Bill's dispensation is a hell o f a lot closer s i m p l y that he d o n ' t think it's stupid. (I sd it, in " G r a n d p a , G o o d b y e " , as B i l l fire to P's l i g h t l i t e r a l l y , light, the physics, o f same, thus not l o v e (as G u i d o ) but will (Ep's p o e m s a r e a f t e r the early G u i d o ' s o n e l o n g e x t r a p o l a t i o n , canzone, on W I L L : h o w , to get it, up. A n d the i m a g e : " p r o c e s s , . . part o f , the, p r o c e s s " (proceeding, progress, a d v a n c e , c h a n g e , h o p e , the. . . B L A S T , instead o f the S T O R Y (no, d r a m a , please, t o - D A Y , n o sire, P L A Y O n l y , Bill d i d n ' t stoke, sd fire. W h i c h 1 a m sure w a s b a c k w a r d f r o m , sd S a m H o u s t o n or / Eeeerick (in fact B 1 says it, in S a m , h o w , he g o e s d o w n . O n l y Bill w l d n ' t also see d o w n as out. Great g u y s , that they still m a k e it so m u c h one can say, o n l y NO WHAT (??) L a w r e n c e , the real one as one

[BMC Cid: y o u are i m m o d e s t .

23 N o v 53]

A n d thus y o u d o o u t r a g e another m a n .

O r maybe this is rage, at h a v i n g m a x i m u s measured outside itself. A n d i shld fall back on w h a t i h a v e sd to y o u b e f o r e , that y o u are not at h o m e to yourself, are not s i m p l y simple, as a n y m a n is w h o l o o k s after his self. For you impose on m e a hierarchical system w h i c h is o n l y yr o w n , is n o part o f m y life or work. (In fact, I read e x a c t l y the passage y o u put b e t w e e n the Pat quotes & the C a n t as distinct f r o m either. A n d that m a k e s m e feel v e r y d a m n g o o d , thank y o u . B u t i d o n ' t feel g o o d abt y o u . F o r y o u d o n ' t , o b v i o u s l y , see that. Y o u see something elsea necessity to say s o m e t h i n g abt a disappointment o f y r o w n in it. W h i c h , o f course, is, flatly, y r o w n behindhandnessthat P o u n d & W i l l i a m s are y r measure o f music, not the m o v i n g music o f other men. And w h i c h a n y o f us w h o are n o w s i n g i n g i s not at all i n v o l v e d in any such value comparisons. W h a t they did is there. W h a t w e do, is. T h a t ' s all I just d a m n w e l l d o n ' t like the establishing o f relations. T h e y are p h o n e y s . A n d are d o d g e s , f o r f i n d i n g out, w h a t is relevant inside a n y g i v e n thing. To itself. Christ, to say i leave the music in the things! Y o u , w h o h a v e seen that it w a s published! A n d n o w , b y g o d , y o u use the v e r y virtu o f the practice to m o u t h W C W and E p p i e at m e , as, superior. F u c k e m , e v e n if they are. It's none o f o u r bizness. O r at least it ain't, b e t w e e n the t w o o f us. You at h o m e , m a x i m u s , at h o m e . T h a t ' s the c o m b o . A n d o n the toilet seat, if y o u must be, that factual. I d o n ' t g i v e a d a m n . I ' d rather y o u w e r e on a toilet seat and shittingthan in this h i g h chair y o u think (and say C r e e l e y can't sit in) that criticism is. F o r g e t criticism. It's a p h o n e y , t o o a f r a u d y o u are practicing on yrself. A n d thus on O r i g i n . Let m e let out all the stops. I w a s f u c k i n g sore, the w a y y o u put M o r n i n g N e w s last in that issue. A n d not at all because W C W w a s first. B u t because the p o e m and b y y r o w n original editing principles, " t o c o m p o s e , the m a g a z i n e " patently (and just because it does read, E n d broadcast, end p o e m ) belongs n o w h e r e but first, to m a k e a n y sense out o f its publication at all. A n d o f course the reason w h y it w a s w h e r e it is is, n o w y o u say it, that y o u h o n e s t l y , f i n a l l y d o feel that older n a m e s must be s o m e h o w , better music. Shit, C i d . E x c u s e me. B u t c o m e on in. C o m e o f f the high-chair ( w h i c h is, precisely, its p r o p e r name. C o m e out a m o n g m e n , w h e r e they are and not, f o r christ sake ( w h e r e ' s yr head?) w h e r e M r . W i l l i a m s sez they are

most alive, w h e n they are d e a d ! G o o d g o d , m e r e l y read w h a t ' s sd. And d o n ' t so f u c k i n g m u c h w o r r y abt w h a t y o u are g o i n g to say abt w h a t y o u have read, it ain't w r i t t e n to be criticized. It is w r i t t e n to be read, that's all. ( D o e s n ' t that o c c u r to y o u ? . . . (In f a c t , a g a i n , to let out a stopthis bizness o f w r i t i n g p o e m s o n the p o e m s o f other m e n ( m e , B i l l , B e n n ) ; and w r i t i n g critiques, f o r " P o e t r y " ! Shit. J u s t shit. I say a g a i n : w r i t e abt C o r m a n . His things. A n d l i v e like that. A n d at the same time d o n ' t e x a g g e r a t e y r g e n e r o s i t y : the f i n e t h e d a m n f i n e thing abt y o u is, that y o u are generous, y o u d o g o out o f yr w a y f o r others (ex., O l s o n : f o r christsake, l o o k w h a t y o u h a v e d o n e f o r sd O l s o n , b y p u b l i s h i n g h i m , b y creating a m a g a z i n e w h e r e he can be read but that's it. W h y think yr generosity has to restrict itself? C o n t r a c t to criticisms? W h y n o t leave it beas the fine thing it is? ( W h a t w i l l , to d e s t r o y , leads y o u to think y o u are m o r e than generous? w h a t u n h a p p y desire requires y o u to be significant? If y o u w e r e as simple as I choose to e n j o y y o u as, y o u w l d w e a r y r generosities f o r t h e m selvesas y o u w l d read olson's w o r k . F o r itself. N o t f o r c o m p a r i s o n to t w o n o w holy cows, t w o n o w w h o l l y acceptable measures

N o cid. I blast y o u , because y o u must w a k e up. Y o u w o n ' t m o v e ( w h i c h is w h a t y o u honestly must w a n t . S o l o n g as y o u fuss up y r nature b y such roles & false necessities (for g a w d sake s i m p l y read that creeley statement, and j o i n it to y r o w n o b s e r v a t i o n that i l e a v e the music in the things themselves and then ask yrself w h e r e is yr c r y i n g m e d o w n b y w a y o f those t w o mahsters w h e r e is, not in w o r d s , but in things? (ha-ha

OK.

Burn.

B u t not m e r e l y this occasion, bro.

D o n ' t think I a m that petulant.

I k n o w w h a t ' s missing in the music. B u t it's olson w h i c h ain't there, n o t W i l l i a m s or P o u n d . A n d y o u shld k n o w that's w h o is missing. N o t these t w o inferior predecessorsjust as I am i n f e r i o r , to m y s e l f ! and p r e decessor, o f m y s e l f ! I a m not o n e to k e e p after a m a n . B u t y o u w i l l recognize this letter as h a v i n g i n f e r i o r predecessorsat least t w o , one last year on O r i g i n , a p e n n y post c a r d ; and another, three years a g o , o n the w h o l e biz o f h o w such a m a g m i g h t live S o take A n d d o n ' t assuage yrself I m e r e l y

this as another k e y n o t e . swing back. I watch you.

A n d w h e n 1 a m roused I tell y o u .

And now (because it is late, and w e are either m o r e close, or it isn't m u c h o f a g a m e ) I c o m e in closer: y o u be quiet. O r y o u w o n ' t k n o w . I sd w a k e up, a year ago. I say, j a c k up, n o w . It's m o r e serious, because b o t h o f us are m o r e disclosed. A n d M a x i m u s , is a fair test, b r o . Love

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i ' m a hot one. A n d y o u sure c o o l e d m e , w i t h those t w o , the one on the reading G l o u c e s t e r ( w h i c h g o t a letter out o f H e l e n , she, too, cool & g r a c i o u s ) ; and y r last, w i t h n o r e b u k e f o r , m e j u m p i n g all o v e r , y o u , and y o u o n l y saying w o t w a s y r thot i just h a v e to d e m a n d o f y o u , special, s i m p l y , that y o u h a v e been so m u c h m y f r i e n d A n d i also hereby cause y o u pain, o f another sort. I d o n ' t k n o w abt y r s e l f , but it has taken me 40 yrs to f i n d out that one has to cause those o n e is closest to, p a i n a n d still i can't d o it, h a v e n o guts f o r it, w a s raised w i t h o u t it, and still haven't c a u g h t up w i t h the w a y the rush o f life does d o e x a c t l y that. T h e point is, i h o p e i a m the first to tell y o u that R o b t is c o m i n g here as o f M a r c h 29th, not o n l y as an addition to the f a c u l t y in w r i t i n g , but as editor o f a n e w quartei to b e called " T h e B l a c k M t . Q u a r t e r l y " , 1 0 0 pages, big r e v i e w section, and planned to c o m p e t e w i t h K e n y o n , Partisan, N M Q ( w h a t else is there, are H u d s o n , & S e w a n e e , still in existence?). A n y w a y , that sort o f thing. And w i t h a circulation o f 2 5 0 0 to be shot at. A l s o , to c a r r y ads. I h a v e been so d a m n e d c a u g h t up in a mailing o f the a n n o u n c e m e n t o f the n e w faculty f o r M a r c h 2 9 t h ; plus an appeal f o r 250,000 b u c k s , tor e x p a n s i o n (and, f o r that matter, to float this m a g ) ; plus another f u n d d r i v e f o r same a m o u n t , to be a series o f three, to c o m e at the same t i m e as the first issue o f the quarterly ( A p r i l 1st), three p r o g r a m s N Y , a concert directed b y M i t r o p o l o s , a s h o w b y K l i n e , D e k o o n i n g , T w o r k o v , V i c e n t e , G u s t o n (the space cadets, w h o have all been here the past t w o years); and a p e r f o r m a n c e b y M e r c e C u n n i n g h a m ' s dance c o m p a n y a l l to be the kick o f f o f the f u n d d r i v e that i h a v e been kept f r o m this letter to y o u . A n y h o w , there the damned betrayal i s o r so pain to such as yrself a l w a y s strikes m e , as. A n d i w a n t y o u to feel v e r y d a m n e d free to d u m p m e like a h o t c a k e , if y o u w i s h : that is, if y o u are so sore y o u w a n t to cut m e to hell out o f O r i g i n like that (in other w o r d s , w a n t to call o f f all that I am m a k i n g up f o r y o u f o r # 1 2 ) w h y just dam w e l l p o k e m e in the puss. I h o p e to chnst y o u d o n ' t . As 1 f i g u r e it this is a m a g o f another order. A n d w i l l catch us all into itself, as w e l l as a lot o f g i n k s O r i g i n w l d n ' t h a v e b o t h e r e d w i t h a s B o b plans it, he wants a v e r y w i d e base, so it w o n ' t fall on any small n u m b e r issue after issue, n o r be one m a n ' s headache. . . o k . that's it. that's the bad n e w s . A n d o f course, on t! other face, it's terrific: that the C o l l e g e is w i l l i n g to take it on, try it, seek the d o u g h to support it. A n d I, o f course, am d a m n e d glad R o b t does get this chance to pull o f f w h a t a s he s a y s h e t w i c e planned, and didn't e f f e a

H e ' s it. A n d i ' m sure y o u ' l l hear f r o m h i m . M e , i ' m just the culprit, or so i feel, so far as y o u are c o n c e r n e d a n d n o d a m n other person w h a t s o e v e r . . .

A v e r y d a m n great letter in y e s t e r d a y , f r o m Gloucester, i w a n t y o u to s e e f r o m the m a n w h o o w n s the house w i t h the B u l l f i n c h d o o r s ! J u s t the nicest sort o f w o r d a m a n m i g h t h o p e f o r , f r o m , the t o w n ! . . . Let m e n o w try to f i n d yr t w o recent letters, a m o n g the piled up mail o f the last w e e k s . T h i s , to y o u , is the v e r y first o n e i h a v e g o t t o a n d will try to start cutting a w a y at it, w i t h this w o r d to y o u . ((just reread A v i s o n letter . . . Miss A is v e r y d a m n e d g o o d there, on the lateral vs u p s i d e d o w n u m b r e l l a (it is one o f the reasonsthat is, m y o w n desire to pass on to s o m e t h i n g e l s e w h y i h a v e been d r a g g i n g m y f o o t on the 2nd P V piece f o r y o u w e talked of). I, o f course, w l d not think Y e a t s ' g y r e is the alternate. O n c o n t r a r y . It's d o w n the w h o r l w o u l d be, s c r e w e d , y o u m i g h t say. B u t her protest is one i had taken to m y o w n position (perception. . . . it w a s o n l y to insist u p o n speed. A n d d r i v e . Instead o f the v e r y thing she speaks o f , w h i c h (in others than herself i a m d a m n e d sure) g o t pretty tedious. A n d dead. . . .

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M Y dear C I D : j u s t to g i v e y o u the greetings o f , this y r , a n d - t h e O N E , a - H E A D ! A n d to tell u again i read a p o m e o f yrs t o d a y w i t h plaisir and not the f r e n c h o f apollinaire, B U T y r o w n , there, on - o , feeus (not t h i n k i n g the subject straight on can be, re, investigated that it is t o o lost in cliche,) but v e r y m u c h thinking y r line is s h o w i n g with 'em! more! A n d to hail it. A n d to ask, f o r ,

Still crazy stuck w i t h the need o f this place f o r d o u g h (in spite o f plans! A n d so h a v e n ' t m o v e d a j o t . B u t w i l l get y o u those p o e m s , say, N Y D a y t o meet, y r , d e a d line A n d f o r the flip, enclose, sd latest p u b lication o f , this, C o l l i t c h : o f f press yesterday and m e mailing all night, and n o w again, after posting this to y o u . T h a t d o n e , all i h a v e to

do is w r i t e a statement f o r A l f r e d Einstein to m a k e , s a y i n g , B l a c k M t is B l a c k M t is B l a c k M t i mean B l a c k , f o l k s and i ' m t h r u f r e e , f o r , m y o w n affirs.

13 5

[BMC] M y dear C i d ! ! ! ! !

J u n e 6, 1 9 5 4

F i n a l l y . A n d all pardons. S i m p l y , that, this Q u a r t e r , this place fell on m e . A n d there w a s n o t h i n g to d o b u t m a k e the p u s h : to see, if, s o m e w h e r e , w e m i g h t , break t h r o u g h , get d o u g h , operate, f i n d an A d v i s o r y C o u n c i l , m a k e possible m o r e students (the K o r e a n B i l l , etc.) a n d such a " c e n t e r " as the m a g , b o o k s , etc. m i g h t m a k e it. Y o u w i l l see h o w , in these States, k n o w i n g yr o w n attack, w h a t it is to m a k e s a m e ! ( B y the w a y , a l o n g that path, Huss asked m e y e s t e r d a y : w l d y o u , in this one instance, g i v e us a chance to g r a b a chance last student or t w o f o r the s u m m e r quarterstarting in a c o u p l e o f w e e k s b y loaning us y r m a i l i n g list to send out to it the S u m m e r B u l l e t i n , a n n o u n c i n g a " w r i t i n g institute" ? ? ? ? I sd I d i d n ' t like to ask a m a n f o r his life-line, b u t that I t h o u g h t y o u w l d , because y o u " s t a r t e d " us all b y m a g a z i n e , in this one instance let us " l o a d " the list. B u t y o u must j u d g e w h e t h e r y o u f a v o r letting the mailing list carry a " c o l l e g e " item. If y o u can, Huss w l d be terribly g r a t e f u l . F o r the b u r d e n o f getting the mechanics done, is o n h i m . And "distribution" is w h e r e w e stay p i t i f u l l y WEAK! (I can't m y s e l f stand it m u c h longer. Either w e lick this mailing list biz (plus dispatch o f g o o d s along the same line o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n , like the R e v i e w , plus any b o o k s , etc.) or w e better g i v e up. I h a d h o p e d J o n a t h a n w l d cut in here. B u t he is a " p u b l i s h e r " n o t a m a r k e t e r . And you know C r e e l e y and m y s e l f . A n d the C o l l e g e has been l i m p i n g along w i t h a 5000 n a m e list w h i c h isso f a r as I can seeas dead as the O l d C o l l e g e w a s f i v e years ago/ Y o u w i l l k n o w h o w seriously I take this " m a r k e t i n g " b i z : all o f o u r several publishing v e n t u r e s a n d I m e a n o f such things as education, as w e l l as O r i g i n , and b o o k s ( C o n t a c t , C i v n , p o e m s , M a x , etc.)are p l a y i n g in sand b o x e s unless they are attacking o n the distribution level. It's a d a m n nuisance, and not w h a t active m e n are likely to g i v e their attention to. B u t I s w e a r if each o f us did his own that the p o o l w l d eventually catch up w i t h the possible fact. (Example: Maximus. D a m n it. S o far as I can find out the sales w e r e chiefly f r o m that list o f m y o w n " f r i e n d s " . This is crazy. T h o , g o d h e l p us, I m y s e l f rest the case ahead: that is I think y r J 1 2 is g o i n g to m a k e a difference. ( B y the w a y , w h e n ? ? ? ? C a n ' t tell y o u h o w anticipatory 1 a m abt that o n e !

. . . C r a z y , to h a v e C r e e l e y here. C r a z y , that w e n e v e r talk (in any large sense). It's g r e a t : all fast, like telegrams. A n d w h a t a contrast to the volubleness w h e n w e are 500 miles o f f ! 5000

B u t I suppose w h a t ' s on m y heart t o d a y is the sense o f y r proximities, A n d they pull, n o w , to B r i s t o w i f y o u get w h a t I mean. T h a t is, M a x i m u s pulls y o u , f o r m e , t o w a r d G l o u c e s t e r ! A n d so y o u are in m y heartland! H o w are things, there? (I m e a n w i t h you. ((Info: I a m back at the M O N S T E R . O r so it b e c a m e o v e r the past year. S i m p l y , that I had to reattack. It got lost, s o m e w h e r e in the '40s. A n d I had to f i n d m y w a y back on m y o w n path. A s w e l l as its path. feel n o w I h a v e : a spate o f n e w ones done. B u t a l s o a n d this w a s the breakthroughaltogether n o n - M a x i m u s poems. Crazy. Please k e e p w r i t i n g me. M i s s the n e w s , and g o i n g of y o u r Plus the old " f a m i l y " o f us. (It's like C r e e l e y getting here. Seems to h a v e cut o f f , the old w i l d p l a y ! ) o w n concern.

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[BMC] M y dear C i d !

Friday

N o v 5 '54

I l o v e y o u v e r y m u c h , & I w o u l d arouse y o u f r o m just the g i v i n g t o o m u c h to the w o r l d as it is w h a t y o u g i v e m e back f o r m y piece on the theater in the first letter f r o m y o u there, E u r o p e s p e c i f i c a l l y , Paris, that old m e t r o p o l i s j u s t in. L o o k , C i d ; be sure (1) that I h a v e l o n g g o n e o v e r , & finally discarded, all those possibilities y o u think, because they ought to, those media n o w current as theater o f f e r (theater, f i l m , radio, T V ) . A n d the thing w i p e s out all y o u r self-evidents is s i m p l y , ownership', &c (2), that if a n y one o f us did real t h e a t e r & I s u b m i t w h a t I sd there, h o w o n l y it can be d o n e (as, f o r e x a m p l e , in his f o r m , D H L did it, because he had the passion f o r tragedy) then those media w i l l c o m e - a - r u n n i n g (as they ran after, in the end, w h e n he w a s d y i n g , T h o m a s ) . Y o u ' l l not f i n d any light in h o w those media are/ any m o r e & think o f this! than y o u k n o w yrself the politics o f the w o r l d ( o w n e r s h i p uber Alles) yields a n y possibility to the individual m a n as passionate creature. S o please, g o back & read it after y r letter, i m a g i n i n g that I h a v e been t h r o u g h it a l l e v e n T V , b y g o d , W a s h i n g t o n , 1 9 5 0 . A n d even radio, Boston, 1 9 3 7 ! A n d C i d p l e a s e a l w a y s f o r g i v e m e any harshness, like I think y o u m a y f i n d m y r e v i e w o f y r E c l o g u e s . It is n e v e r the b a c k o f m y hand. It is that passion, that all things be d o n e right. A n d take it, please, that I w o u l d n ' t talk back if I didn't W e ! A n d h a p p e n e d to p a y attention just because it w a s y o u ! A l l l o v e , & keep m e on to yrself, etc. / the Best thing w a s the E N D ! A n d I thank y o u , f r o m the heart.

138

[BMC] M y dear C i d ( A u g 24, 1 9 5 5 T h a n k y o u for y o u r letters, & the newest Origin. A n d m a y b e the t u r n has c o m e , and I shall seem like a correspondent friend s u p p o r t e r : there is the solidest chance yet that, in a very few days, w e m a y have m a n a g e d the sale of.200 acresand be off again on the pursuit of the g l e a m of the place: that is, w e will have a chance to proceed f o r w a r d w i t h o u t every day h a v i n g to m a k e the ends meet. For t w o years flatand one and o n e half years w i t h o u t any salarywe have had to g o f o r w a r d w i t h o u t k n o w i n g w h e n the next f o o t m i g h t fail. N o w it l o o k s as t h o u g h w e will have a different p r o b l e m : w e will have a year and a half w i t h at least the College taken care o f / a n d d u r i n g that year and a half w e will h a v e to raise the m o n e y (actually n o t m o n e y but students, or, the equivalent of t h e m , scholarships at $550 a h e a d : 43 of them, in 18 m o n t h s , or, 3 per m o n t h , or, $1650 per m o n t h ! So keep u p the g o o d w o r k . Tell any g u y w h o has $550 he can c o m e here and get tuition and rent (and f o o d he can live o n at the rate of w h a t he can eat himself; and w i t h f o u r m o n t h s w i n t e r to raise that little bit to feed himself by). Several, b y the w a y , have w r i t t e n f r o m the Boston area, b u t n o n e of t h e m yet (except the t w o w h o w e r e at the Charles St. C h u r c h that n i g h t of Hazel, and c a m e in off the street, J o h n W i e n e r s and J o e D u n n ) have g o t here. B u t the p o i n t is, the t i m e in w h i c h that w o r k of O r i g i n etc will c o u n t is in the next 18 m o n t h s . So 1 feel a little bit better, m a y b e . A n d will p r o b a b l y take the Fall Q u a r t e r off, leaving Creeley to fend off the characters here. I am h o p i n g , in fact, to get to N e w England. Will you be back, or n o ? W h a t are yr plans ? ? ? ? ? . . . I think y o u will be pleased to hear that I did get M A X I M U S II d o n e in J u l y a n d it is already at S t u t t g a r t , in D r . C a n t z ' Druckerei. It will be a b o u t the same length as I, even tho it has 2 m o r e letters, that is, it is 11-22, I think. A n d it leaves m e faced w i t h III (or w h a t e v e r f o r m the next one will take, p r o b a b l y a single v o l u m e of a l l w h a t e v e r : crazy to have that space staring m e in the face! A n d t h o u g h I think I k n o w w h a t fills it, the act of d o i n g it is m o r e t h a n I can say! O r d o . Instead, I d o w h a t the day presents. It is t o o m u c h , b r o k e n u p as things are here, to set in, at present, to that push.

139

[BMC My dear Cid C o m i n g / finally / up for air

7 Jan 56]

Had so much time to make-up for Wild thing is that, since before yr previous letter, have been preparing a thing for y o u : T H E SPECIAL V I E W O F H I S T O R Y & in hope I cid finish it so that you might use it, if it struck you, for the final O R I G I N , simply that it comes as the climax ofin order 1) 2) 3) 4) s) Gate & C Escaped Pants Apple Loner ? HU it

&

as so a book, but if not, there in the file of O the whole. . .

W o n d e r f u l to have yr news and please keep it c o m i n g at meI pray I shall be a better correspondent once again f r o m here o u t : does look as tho i might, for the struggles of the last 2 to 3 years are O V E R !. ! ! !

140

[BMC] Cid forgive.

Nov 8

56

T h e thot of having missed Origin 20 is unbearable. But above all to have you there thinking I fouled out. W o w ! A damn mean thing for me not to be there. Got caught in the folding of this place. It was the last days& I had to see it t h r o u g h (this is for y o u : officially w e are "closed for i m p r o v e m e n t s " ! (I'm to stay to do the " i m p r o v e m e n t s " b u t it's for sale! Alas, soon as I paint a few buildings, I'll be back on m y o w n b u c k e t b u t it comes too late, I feel sure, to catch you. If by any chance, y o u . d o have r o o m in any last forms, cable m e collect & I'll d a m n well do something. This at least quickly to register written chagrin& to ask yr indulgence (3 yrs of this place (where it was rough) is nOw over. I shld be back a m o n g the living. All best to you
& yrs

Charles Olson

141

EDITOR'S

NOTE

I have w o r k e d to edit these letters according to the principles which they propose. T h u s a p r i m a r y concern has been to respect, absolutely, M r . Olson's spelling, spacing, and punctuationto reproduce, as completely as possible, the original heat. But as the text continued to strike its w a y into me, I became aware that to simply reproduce the entire mass of material with whatever scholarly clarifications (as.I have done in the f o r m of a doctoral dissertation for the State University of N e w Y o r k at Buffalo) did not answer the final d e m a n d of the text I so much respected. R a t h e r , the task became one of seeing clearly that b o u n d i n g outline already present in the mass and of bringing it out, visible, for public view. And so, like a C r o - m a g n o n hunter in the dark recesses of a cave, I began to stare at these surfaces, page by page. I began to make careful exclusions (indicated b y ellipses) and to include missing details (always enclosed in square brackets), until the creature I had been h u n t i n g appeared to me in an entirety not m y o w n .

These songs are called the sweat house songs. In them old man, old woman, & single man refer to the sun, moon and morning star. The timber refers to the smudge stick.

Albert Glover