Knee deep in Niedecker

March 8, 2012

O my floating life
Do not save love
      for things
            Throw things
to the flood

This cluster of words, from Lorine Niedecker’s poem “Paean to Place,” is the perfect Deleuzian symbiote, a map along which to trace the comportment of our reading. This soundscape consists of jewels, some tarnished and others clear enough to be invisible yet each sharing the light that shines through them. Niedecker seems to dive along with us, looking deep into the instrumental heart of foggy waters throughout which float the visages of a divided family. Deafness is evoked as a sonic choice, a condition of severance from one’s home and the comforts that reside within it. The quotidian sings, washes away the means with which to describe it with the language of phenomenological interaction (“spoon-tapped waterglass- / descending scale- / tear-drop-tittle”). Emotion is the music of the spheres (“He netted loneliness”), the law of gravity (“A hummingbird / can’t haul”), and the nature of the body (“I possessed / the high word: / The boy my friend / played his violin / in the great hall”). Everything here inhabits the edge of something unseen, felt only as one’s own weight. The air sings, yes, but only the chambers of our hearts can decipher it. -Tyran

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