metagraph

Marriage                                    
My wife and I — we’re pals. Marriage is fun.              
Yes: two can live as stupidly as one.              
— Philip Larkin, January 1954               

                                Poesy
My readers are my friends, my verses true enough.
If I can fool myself, the world will buy my bluff.

homage to a government

Homage to a Government

Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.

It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it’s been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.

Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it’s a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money.

— Philip Larkin

    Thus Charles Baudelaire paid his homage to the joy of martial obedience in Le peintre de la vie moderne: Continue reading homage to a government

whining or withstanding

Nil igitur mors est ad nos neque pertinet hilum,
quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur.
Titus Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura 3.830-831

τὸ μὲν οὖν ταῦτα διισχυρίσασθαι οὕτως ἔχειν ὡς ἐγὼ διελήλυθα, οὐ πρέπει νοῦν ἔχοντι ἀνδρί: ὅτι μέντοι ἢ ταῦτ’ ἐστὶν ἢ τοιαῦτ’ ἄττα περὶ τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν καὶ τὰς οἰκήσεις, ἐπείπερ ἀθάνατόν γε ἡ ψυχὴ φαίνεται οὖσα, τοῦτο καὶ πρέπειν μοι δοκεῖ καὶ ἄξιον κινδυνεῦσαι οἰομένῳ οὕτως ἔχειν―καλὸς γὰρ ὁ κίνδυνος―καὶ χρὴ τὰ τοιαῦτα ὥσπερ ἐπᾴδειν ἑαυτῷ, διὸ δὴ ἔγωγε καὶ πάλαι μηκύνω τὸν μῦθον.
― Plato, Phaedo, 114d
Now to insist that these things are just as I’ve related them would not be fitting for a man of intelligence; but either this or something like it is true about our souls and their dwellings, given that the soul evidently is immortal, this, I think, is fitting and worth risking, for one who believes that it is so — for a noble risk it is — so one should repeat such things to oneself like a spell; which is just why I’ve so prolonged the tale.
― translated by David Gallop

Continue reading whining or withstanding

footnotes to larkin

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin

Footnote to Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
—Philip Larkin

To blame it on your mum and dad
and claim it’s their fault what you do
takes quite a nerve — as though you had
no part to play in what makes you.

This fucked-up childhood myth’s a line
that everyone’s at some time used;
it may explain why you’re a swine,
but not why you should be excused.

Harry Ricketts

“I imagine he wrote ‘They tuck you up, your mum and dad’ and then rode the wave of a typo.”
Tom Raworth

9. the means of language

— for Eric Gans
    Quand il parlait, il ne levait jamais un bras ni un doigt : il avait tué la marionnette.
    — Paul Valéry, Monsieur Teste
    When he spoke, he never raised his arm, nor his finger; he had killed the puppet.
    — Paul Valéry, Monsieur Teste[0]

    It is customary to introduce a French subject in the history of ideas (l’histoire des mentalités) with the simile coined by the great mediaevalist Marc Bloch:[1] « Le bon historien, lui, ressemble à l’ogre de la légende. Là où il flaire la chair humaine, il sait que là est son gibier. » The good historian, says Bloch, resembles the legendary ogre: wherever he smells human flesh, there he knows to seek his prey. But the postmodern ogre is a conflicted creature. Undermining the cause of his own carnivorous appetite, he holds that the singularity of definitively modern works consists precisely in their fundamental ambiguity. In so far as historical events are molded by human hands, this singularity must extend to all subjects of modern history.
    Witness Ross Chambers epitomizing French literary modernism in the two key masterpieces of that movement, Charles Baudelaire’s verse collection Les fleurs du mal and Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary:[2]

Their writing has an elusive quality that resists interpretative closure and makes it difficult, perhaps impossible, to locate a subject in which an “intended meaning” would have originated. As a result, reading modern works becomes a literally interminable procedure, and in both the text and its interpretation the insistence of unconscious forces ― that is, of desire ― becomes impossible to ignore.

Physicists teach that perpetual motion is impossible. Economists agonize over the prospects of full employment. Little do they know that resistance to interpretative closure is all it takes to ensure that the tribe of literary critics becomes fully employed in the manufacture of perpetual motion compelled by the insistence of desire and predicated upon the impossibilities of ignoring. Continue reading 9. the means of language