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Mean Free Path Paperback – March 1, 2010
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--a poem for Ben Lerner et al
Look, reader, I'm writing this poem
Built of echoes, self-same but full of
Minor disharmonies. Look I'm writing,
Reader, repetition. I had meant to write
A poem inching through echoes,
Love, continental theory,
To the grand scientific major,
To the world and all things it it, read it
Fast. Faster, reader, I'm writing
This poem, look, I repeat
Myself through a bunch more
Lines, phrases, impressive, not?
I had meant to write, reader,
A poem to my cat, but here
A photon and another photon enter
Effecting a dance of sub-
Atomic miracles, the world as we know it,
Also bullets, tanks, human miseries,
Etc... Years go by, reader, I'm still
Writing, soon I'll be finished.
[pages of illustration]
That's the parody I was moved to write after a second read-through of this pleasurable volume - "pleasurable" is the right word I believe, as the poems are nothing if not sensuous, in their own way). Toss in some Russian novels, some theory (in the literary sense), and there you have it. Lerner manages more gracefully than my parody, of course - the poems propel you forward, and are more lyrical than your average theory-laden stuff. The weaknesses are easy to point out - for example, the possibility of writing a poetry that's equal to our time is a vast, fashionable, but not terribly interesting question! The other problem is the shadow of industrial and military doom that make this a very somber book indeed. It's reflective of the time, but I am reminded of a certain philosopher's saying that "whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent.Read more ›