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Absinthe makes the heart go find her.

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sticks feathers string mud

This morning I work through some things collected earlier in the year, from The Narrow Road to the Interior, by Kimiko Hahn.

For example.  When she talks about Louise GlŁckís Meadowlands, and about wanting to write poems that “answer” the quotes I garner from Louiseís—even if completely out of context.

This feels good to me.

For example, what she does in “Conspiring with Shikishi,” which is made up, as she explains, of tanka inspired by Shikishi and her predecessors—I am inspired in turn.

For example, when she says in her notes: I am responding to the Japanese tradition of literary allusion.  See the recursion there?  How such a thing spirals into itself?

That too I love.


Still among her notes, she describes at least a couple of poems as being a completely subjective response to another work (in one case, Abe Konoís The Woman in the Dunes, Suna no onna, and in the other, Snow Country, Yukiguni, by Kawabata Yasunari).

What does she mean by a completely subjective response?  I know she means something.  All through the book, I see that the word subjective is important to her.  Like the word intuitive, like the word spontaneous.  Like in “Pulse and Impulse”:

I can still love the zuihitsu as a kind of air current: and what arises is very subjective, intuitive and spontaneous—qualities I trust.

A line or two later:

I love Keeneís phrase: “an intriguing sentence or two.”

To invite the intellect back in for re-vision.

Like an invitation in itself, this idea of re-vision / revision reminds me of many things.  Emotion recollected in tranquility, sure.  And Berger too, these days, looking at men and women and animals, and looking at men and women and animals as they look at each other...  Then Van Gogh, looking at things for a long time, as if by letting myself go a little and instead of looking intently at joints and analyzing how things are put together, I am looking more through my eyelashes, bringing me more directly to see things as patches of color against each other.

And then, maybe because there is so much inwardness here—the invitation, the intellect, the intuition and the intrigue—I remember Rilke and his “inseeing.” This, from Rachel Corbett:

Inseeing described the wondrous voyage from the surface of a thing to its heart, wherein perception leads to an emotional connection.  Rilke made a point of distinguishing inseeing from inspecting, a term which he thought described only the viewerís perspective, and thus often resulted in anthropomorphizing.  Inseeing, on the other hand, took into account the objectís point of view.  It had as much to do with making things human as it did with making humans thing.


It is a kind of perception that takes place within the body, and it requires the observer to be both the seer and the seen.  To observe with empathy, one sees not only with the eyes but with the skin.

Impossible not to think too, of Saint-Exupťry: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.


Still in “Pulse and Impulse,” Hahn continues:

To feel randomness.

Not obliged to stay with a rational line of thought.  I mean—I do not need to compromise a train of thought and, in such a way, can really explore raw material.

I think of Dickinsonís brain within its groove.  Of Woolf and her mark on the wall:

How readily our thoughts swarm upon a new object, lifting it a little way, as ants carry a blade of straw so feverishly, and then leave it.... [...] as one is torn from the old lady about to pour out tea and the young man about to hit the tennis ball in the back garden of the suburban villa as one rushes past in the train.


I keep reading:

This “space” includes all those traits women have been assigned, usually with negative connotations: subjectivity, intuition, irrationality...  What is wrong with subjectivity anyway?  My facts.  The fact of my experiences.

I think of an Op-Ed I read this week—this ugly, brutish week—in the New York Times:

It is true the accusations [of sexual assault] have indelibly tainted Judge Kavanaugh.  That the truth appears to be unknowable with objective certainty adds an element of tragedy to the situation.

When I first read that yesterday, I felt the old, familiar feeling.  Here again, a white man who is looking more or less at the same thing Iím looking at.  The same thing millions of women, white and otherwise, are looking at.  How is it that for this man, this Greg Weiner, the truth appears to be unknowable?

This morning, re-reading Hahn, I think of Greg Weiner again.

That the truth appears to be unknowable with objective certainty...

And so this morning I wonder: What does he mean by objective certainty?  Does he think, therefore and instead, that the truth appears to be knowable only with subjective certainty?  And if so, whose subjectivity does he think that would be?

The fact of my experiences.

Meanwhile Woolf walks through for a moment again, with something about the masculine point of view which governs our lives...

Everybody follows somebody, she says, and the great thing is to know who follows whom.

(Meanwhile too, I wonder: Did he know what he was doing, when he used the word indelibly?)

Perhaps these questions—or the answers they do and do not admit—are obvious.  Perhaps Iím in too far down and feeling too hard.  (Perhaps we all are.)  But I look again at Hahn: all those traits women have been assigned, usually with negative connotations...  And suddenly it seems important to ask, consider, contemplate.  What is wrong with subjectivity anyway?

Not because itís a rhetorical question, at least not for me.  Iím not asking because I know the answer to the question.  (I donít think Hahn is either.)  Iím asking because I donít know the answer, and I want to.  I want to know whatís wrong with subjectivity, and why itís not as good as objectivity.  And maybe, from there, I want to know if there are ever any times or places in which it is just as good as objectivity.  Or just as important.  Maybe not as convenient or clear, but perhaps more significant.

Because hereís the thing.  There are plenty of questions I do know the answers to.  Like who gets to decide, almost always, whose view is objective, and whose view is subjective.  Who gets to say, almost always, “Sorry.  Your view is subjective.  Itís not an objective view.”  Where one must stand, to say, almost always, “Listen to me.  I have the best, most objective view.”  Who gets to say, “This is how it is.”

Those are the easy ones.

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[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 07 ottobre 2018 ore 10:20:15] []