H.D. Blog 17: "the Christos image"


Within the dream-parallel, within the “bare, spacious room” where Ra, Osiris, and Amen appeared and startled the poet into those eyes of amber shining, into the recognition that “we are at the cross-roads,” and the poet responds with “ecstatic agency,” with the desire to renew the covenant not only with “the new Sun” but with the reader-as-initiate to “light a new fire” and reclaim “forever and ever Amen.”

H.D.’s response to those who question the importance of poetry in times of crisis is: “but if you don’t even understand what words say, // how can you expect to pass judgement / on what words conceal?” [8]. WHAT DO WORDS CONCEAL? Part of this project is to better understand what words conceal by revealing their referential possibilities. Moreover, if we can better understand what words conceal, then perhaps we can answer the questions posed in section [1]: “What saved us? what for?”

Section [17] ended with the word “Amen.” If we remember from a previous post, “Amen” meant hidden, but he was also at one point the god of air, of breath. This seems to relate to the idea of concealment and revelation. That what words conceal, if discovered, will permeate the air and give us breath. Or that what words conceal are in the air itself, always there but hidden in the smoke of war, or has become as forgotten as the importance of breath. This also relates to the verse 29 in the Deuteronomy chapter: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” By revealing what is concealed (secret) thru seeing in a new light, we may not only know what words say, but we “MAY DO” the words of the secret wisdom.

SO, now that the poet has renewed the fire of the covenant, what is the poet’s first ACT? Here is section [18] (and again another shift in tone…this passage is actually one of the most SPOKEN WORD parts of all of Trilogy (actually, reminds me a little of some of Barbara Jane Reyes’s work (in the sense that it’s BADASS), AND it has attitude) it also is quite funny) ::

The Christos-image
is most difficult to disentangle

from its art-craft, junk-shop
paint-and-plaster medieval jumble

of pain-worship and death-symbol,
that is why, I suppose, the Dream

deftly stage-managed the bare, clean
early colonial interior,

without stained-glass, picture,
image or colour,

for now it appears obvious
that Amen is our Christos.


(paintings from top to bottom: rembrandt, dali, dali, caravaggio)


5 thoughts on “H.D. Blog 17: "the Christos image"

  1. hey —

    i’m not sure what you mean by disentangling “the christos image.” if we’re speaking on an theological, epistemological, ontological, anagogical, historical, cultural, political, metaphorical, literal, or linguistic level;))

    i would think that it would be difficult to disentangle the Christos image from all of its various contexts, and from the reader’s mind with all her contexts. on this level, there can never be an amen, all amens will be slightly different.

    on a saramental level, it is possible to experience “the christos image” through exstatic agency, as one of the writers noted. but as this level circulates through the body, it becomes redefined – especially as it moulds itself to base desires – often becoming monstrous in the process.

    on a linguistic level, this can manifest in glossolalia. i wonder why this ecstatic speech never gets recorded? probably because it is often heretical. Hallaj and his “I am Truth.” For that, they threw him in the Tigris.

    thanks for your probing post,


  2. hey —

    well, i think H.D. means to disentangle “the christos image” on all those levels, perhaps. I think it begins on the ontological and epistemological level (since she argues that language sources in “dream and vision” of the world (both as world and as “dream-parallel”). This then translates into the linguistic level (of words, metaphor, image) – the way in which she shrouds “the christos image” into the names of Amen, Ra, Osiris, and Amen-Ra (and thier variations). Then the disentangling can occur on an historical, cultural, and political level…in a sense, the “disentangling” enacts “ecstatic (ex-static) agency” within the context of the poetic agent (H.D. in this case.) So even though i agree there can be no Amen, i think perhaps H.D. is arguing that there is always already Amen.

    i like the idea of the “saramental,” but that is a new word for me, so will have to think about more.

    finally, H.D. poses an interesting premise in regards to “recording” ecstatic speech (i think in section 20 or 21, which will appear soon!!!

    thanks arif

  3. hi cs,




    i would argue (rather quietly! hoping no one ever sees this:)

    or pose the question…which I often ask myself:

    where is ontology originate? in the body? or before the body?


    it seems to me that there are three layers of ontology. one i that i distinctly feel above my head and one below the umbilicus. And one in the chest.


    on some level, my readings of aurobindo, and my personal journey seemed to shown me that energy exists first and it somehow exists as potential above the head, decending into the body.


    when it settles in the body, or in floating, pre-existent thought structures, it starts to root itself.


    to unroot it or disentangle it, would mean disentangling it from these three levels, in my reading of the image.


    above the head, in the heart, and in the gut, the same image manifests with different affects.


    but I am only speaking from experience, and not from any reading of these folks.


    I hope this helps somehow.

  4. great question re: the origin of ontology. i like the idea that ontology is layered, and as it roots, it affects those layers differently (or perhaps the epistemology of those layers know it differently)…

    maybe there is a difference between unrooting (as opposed to uprooting) and disentangling (i have spent a good 10 hours this past week pulling weeds in my backyard)…or maybe unrooting and disentangling are dual processes within one desire???

    the aurobindo connection is nice. but i wonder does this framework take into account the historical and cultural influences in ontological rooting? it seems that the “subject” does not exist wholly as head, heart, and gut — OR maybe i must rethink how the subject CAN exist as head, heart, gut…

    it does help! and thanks for commenting…i will have to think more about this to stop this stumbling…

  5. i think there really can be no disentangling of the christos image
    except maybe through comparative mytholgy, but what i like about
    ‘disentangling’ is that it refers
    to what has been called ‘spaghetti code’


    It seems like the complex semiotic processes which led up to and which continue to emanate from religion and its relationship to representation for such a speghetti code..

    but as with hair, sometimes its just best to take a tangle and cut it out.. is it out of respect that we carefully try to dissect this old bugaboo or is it closer to morbid curiosity..

    My personal favorite crucifixion
    is the crucifixion story of nommo,
    the dogon, alien amphibious god
    who is crucified by the fox.

    nommo is also a word for ‘word’..

    there has also been in my association, the untidy idea
    of man crucified to abstraction
    in the figure of the geometric vertex, in the sense that it is the abstract itself which is both our ‘savior’ and our ‘curse’..

    my humble take..

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