Tuesday, September 27, 2005


JH: By "aligned with the biographical data" I meant do your figures behave in a manner resembling the biographers' portrayal of them. Rimbaud's project is alchemical, and many texts have detailed this, perhaps extravagantly. Enid Starkie's biography is a good place to start. I have nothing to add to the topic of Rimbaud and alchemy, save with trying to field specific questions. There's some question of how much alchemy a 19 year old can learn - which brings up the question of meditation versus learning. Can focusing intently on a single book or poem or a few books on a common theme (such as alchemy) yield anything? Can't the scholar do the same thing within a torrent of material to study, giving special focus on a limited amount of work while reading a enormous amount of disparate work? What is the difference between concentrating upon a few works within a (relatively) sparsely populated literary environment and concentrating upon a few works within a densely populated literary environment? Are the interpretations and influences that come into play for the less well-fed reader strictly biographical (psychological, environmental) or is there Something Else? When you accidentally add a "d" to "reading" it looks like "re-adding" - what does this mean? I also originally wrote "densely populating literary environment", and it's true that for a certain kind of reader books mate like bunnies.

AHB: Frankly, I don't know if the historical characters (and events) that I use align with the data. I like to think there's an assumption of biographical verity, but I acknowledge I am using these terms to some degree as signposts, or I mean recognizable objects, and I play with that. I read Starkie's bio of Rimbaud long ago, and liked it. Rimbaud exists as an image because he was such an intense artistic example. The greatest poet/gun runner/slaver in the canon, I warrant. He had a frisky precocity that I suppose overwhelmed the conduit, hence the step away from literature. He had a spongy intellect along with a trust in his outpourings that allowed him to produce his hellish vanities. I say vanities without trying to demean. Vanity in the sense of trusting one's vision, as in those who had good trips with acid. One can't guess what a 60 year old Rimbaud might've written but he clearly hadn't the time at 20 to meditate his visions, he was active. I'm kinda riffing here, you touched a nerve. He is an example of focus. Altho Olson delved deeply, he had a wandering intellect, so the scholarship evident in his work was more fragmentary. I mean, he was not a historian, per se, so his interest showed more poet than historian. Which attracted and attracts me. He's a wild man, if not completely the Great Fire Source, but also well-grounded, in his peculiarly way. What was the question again? What writer would you like to riff on at this time?


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