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  #11  
Unread 09-01-2019, 10:56 AM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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I like that change.

Nemo
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  #12  
Unread 09-02-2019, 10:01 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Aaron,

I'd misread S1, I think, as the wall both descending and accumulating. Hence, I'd not realised that the shower curtain was on the couch.

I'd liked the original version with the 'I' on the line-break, since that emphasises it and does more to allow for an ironic, (self-aware) self-mocking reading.

In S2, in the original, I wonder about the referents of 'it'.

A dull bored thought ascends, becomes a self
(not mine, but temporarily residing
here) accumulating half-worn envy,
half-endorsed ideas, a narrative
that threatens to engulf it, make me real
for all its sitting, all the glimpses I
have caught of nothing, doing what it will.

The first 'it' seems to refer back to the dull thought. The thought will be engulfed. But then 'its' seems to have the same referent. But has the thought been sitting? Alternatively, I guess, 'its' now refers back to 'me', but grammatically that's rather odd (though defendable in context, I guess, in the sense that 'me' is a thing, a construct). Your suggested revision:

that threatens to engulf it, make me real
for all my sitting, all the glimpses it
has caught of Nothing, doing what it will.

gets around this problem (assuming it is a bug and not a feature). And the penultimate 'it' refers to "my sitting", which is unproblematic for me. Still, I like the enjambed 'I' as I said above. I guess you could have both "my sitting" and "I", though I can see why you might not want it.

Capitalising 'Nothing' would get Nagarjuna annoyed with you, I reckon. He wasn't a fan of reifying emptiness, and with good reason, I think. The Heart Sutra makes the same point: "Emptiness is nothing other than form, form nothing other than emptiness". Anyway, personally, I'd avoid the metaphysics that seems implied by the capitalisation.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-02-2019 at 10:22 AM.
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  #13  
Unread 09-02-2019, 10:54 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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that threatens to engulf it, make me real
for all my sitting, all the glimpses it
has caught of Nothing, doing what it will.

Just coming back to this: the thought threatens to make 'me' real, but if 'me' is currently not real, then whence the 'my' in "my sitting"? The latter seems to posit a real me, the former posits its (temporary) absence. Maybe the intention is to keep the irony? But if you're trying to avoid the irony, and go with the above version, maybe something like "all this sitting" which is agnostic on the question of who's been doing it?

-Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-02-2019 at 11:22 AM.
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  #14  
Unread 09-05-2019, 09:15 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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I swear to God I thought I'd already posted these thoughts:

1. This struck me hard as being "The Snowman" in first person participatory.

2. I like "Nothing Doing" waaaayyy more than 'meditation' as a title.
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  #15  
Unread 09-05-2019, 12:40 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Half-worn clothes~ I don't know what that means or looks like. And it seems important come second stanza. And very deliberate as well. This puzzle you've concocted, I wonder why you suspect anyone cares to work out the math. And what does it amount to?
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  #16  
Unread 09-05-2019, 01:24 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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I really don't think a-puzzle-to-be-solved or working-out-the-math has much to do with my enjoyment of this poem. It's precisely its non-answer to a non-question that intrigues. I take the poem all at once, rather than breaking it down analytically. But then I often read poetry that way, as something to swallow whole.

I like half-worn clothes. It seems in keeping with the reluctant narrative that gives way here almost as soon as it takes hold—all the Maya that slips from the framework of nothingness. I think of half-worn as implying only partially committed to—to wearing—to manifestation—.

One thing I noticed now that you have changed the opening of each stanza from the to a: there's only one definite article left in the poem now, at the end before glimpses. I would like to see that definiteness purged somehow as well.

Nemo
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  #17  
Unread 09-05-2019, 01:38 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Matt, in S2 "it" refers grammatically back to the self ("becomes a self... accumulating... a narrative that threatens to engulf it"), and the "it" vs. "my" distinction is going to capture the extent to which the N identifies with that self. I understand your concern about the capitalization of "Nothing", but at least for the moment I have an unshakeable sense that the poem wants the proper name there.

Daniel, thanks for stopping by. My thread titles are always throwaways, for what it's worth. "Nothing Doing" has always been and always will be the title of this poem. The Stevens comparison is one that pleases me greatly, thank you. Definitely not something I had in mind as I wrote it, but we never do know what's working on us subconsciously, do we?

James, thank you for your criticisms. The "half-worn clothes" are clothes that have been put on, but not worn enough to throw in the laundry—thus they pile up on the couch. That's the literal meaning, though of course one may always find more resonances in it (as Nemo does). Enough people have gotten this that I'm not too concerned about its intelligibility. I don't think of the poem as a puzzle; it merely records an experience I thought worth recording. There's the visual experience in S1, and an attendant introspective experience accompanying it in S2. I do recognize that not all will agree with my judgment about what is worth poetic treatment.

Nemo, thanks for returning. That's a really astute point about the definiteness, and I think I've found a good way to ditch the last remaining bit. I like where you've gone with with "half-worn clothes". Yes, the poem's halves sit on the fine line between presence and absence.

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 09-05-2019 at 01:40 PM.
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  #18  
Unread 09-05-2019, 02:00 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I'm not breaking this down, Nemo. It was analytical at its inception. This is Aaron's weak spot, imo. I don't critique people favorably or unfavorably based on anything but the work. And I've bitten my lip giving compliments here. Have you?
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  #19  
Unread 09-05-2019, 03:14 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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My response was not meant as an attack, James. You merely made me think about how I responded to the poem: I simply swallowed it. I agree that Aaron has a tendency to hyper-cogitate, but whether that is his weak spot seems a subjective judgement. Ultimately I might agree with that judgement—which is why I found this poem interesting in the way it put such cogitation in altered perspectives.

I'm not sure what a bit-lip compliment is, and thus what your "Have you?" means.

Grammatically speaking, Aaron, the change to any is not particularly elegant. It slows down the thought, takes too much effort to parse. Howabout getting rid of the comma and using the word through to make a more continuous thought of it.

A dull bored thought ascends, becomes a self
(not mine, but temporarily residing
here) accumulating half-worn envy,
half-endorsed ideas, a narrative
that threatens to engulf it, make me real
for all my sitting through brief glimpses it
has caught of Nothing, doing what it will.


Nemo
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  #20  
Unread 09-06-2019, 01:05 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I don't know why that didn't click for me, Aaron. I guess I just still consider them clean and hang them back up, ha. But I'm pretty certain the fault is mine and my apologies for jumping on that. And so never mind, Nemo. I suppose I'm being grumpy. And thick. I'll blame the hectic new school year for both and will take a big breath before I return. Cheers.
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