(HD photo still from film Borderline)
just returned from overseas around the red bloc (tell your friends i’m back and jetlag almost gone from me). despite my absence, i have remained haunted by the lines: “and they are amber and they are fire” – those eyes of Velasquez’ crucified that stun us with the old sense of guilt – echoes of Rilke’s poem “Archaic Torso of Apollo”:
for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
in section 21 of “The Walls Do Not Fall” (as my voice here in this blog returns) the Lord Amen, also, speaks with the crisis of modernity:
Splintered the crystal of identity,
shattered the vessel of integrity,
till the Lord Amen,
paw-er of the ground,
bearer of the curled horns,
bellows from the horizon:
here am I, Amen-Ra,
Amen, Aries, the Ram;
time, time for you to begin a new spiral,
see — I toss you into the star-whirlpool;
till pitying, pitying,
snuffling the ground,
here am I, Amen-Ra whispers,
Amen, Aries, the Ram,
be cocoon, smothered in wool,
be Lamb, mothered again.
the first couplet evoked the both the crisis of representation and the crisis of ethical formation within the modernist context. the salvation is the polytheistic Amen / Amen-Ra (for info on both look for post below), a god capable of embodied, historical transformation and thus avoids the more cruel ahistorical god.
The word “paw-er” always seemed odd to me. in the dictionary, pawer means “a person who handles or caresses in a clumsy or over-familiar manner” – this maybe related to the animal quality of the Amen-Ra as the Ram (a symbol of fertility). The new spiral is a violent spiral (echoes of Yeats:
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
In HD’s Vision, it is Amen, Aries, the Ram that is to be born. The word “pity” resonates thru both poems — the spiral and the gyre and the revelation. There is a refuge that Amen offers: the cocoon, the mothering; that even if the center cannot hold, the center within ourselves (that pearl of great price) will be preserved in the ground itself, in the “groundwork” of how we must change our lives.