Dove descending interior old Augustus Lutheran Church Sanctuary, founded by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, c. 1743 Providence (Trappe) PA, 18 Sept 2012.

23 July 2014

The Sixth Landing @ Gobbet

Now I have worked the 6th seal a little your comments are important because the one I have up is light. So I will take to sleep what you say here. I know the trip is going fast. All you can do is open your ears and eyes and mind, but if you take any notes at all you will bring them back, with the photos of course...It is late. Here’s my report...I do feel like I have only one nap and one sleep to get it down. So I’m like you, the thing is going too fast, but we do our best and file it for the next. Your tomorrow sounds like the best. Here’s the link for the Sixth Seal so far.  Angels Bound in the Euphrates! We’ll plan for Sunday! here 

04 July 2014

Nightingale @ Ygdrasil

Nightingale
Nightingale is a comedic love poem about Persephone in 43 Spenserian stanzas. That makes 387 lines. Emphasize comedy. Klaus Gerken, the editor, issued this and Banquet of God, opposite the free forms that break tradition also at Gone Lawn, Ai-ai-oo-oo and Jingle Bell Wok. Nowadays it breaks tradition to confirm tradition.This appearance in the oldest internet magazine (1994) was written as an interlude while writing Restorations of the Golden Age. In the frequent demise of mags Ygdrasil is not only the longest lived and first (since 1994) but is permanently archived by The Library and Archives of Canada.

13 April 2014

Opiomes the Domes @ Red Fez

In countdowns at the Vatican,  5, 4, 3, 2, 1, where this painting hangs, and angels grind out Camilian Demetrescue's cardinal cross wheel of fortune, Queen and Pope take cosmic embrace in Abbraccio cosmico state-church. Dignitaries be warned - this event cauled, some say the Sixth Seal, but many say too soon. Below the cosmos a Vatican Council ritual greeting cannot be seen...how else could Hugo Chavez come out a hero? You don't want to know. If you did you'd already be Counting. Blood Moon and Opiomes miniaturize for consumption these OPIOMES @ Scribd and Issuu. Get a hard copy!  Opiomes le Domes.

11 April 2014

Blood Moon @ Camel Saloon

Blood Moon
Lunar tetrads, specifically Blood Moons correlating with Feast Days, have only four examples since the 15th century. They appeared after the events in 5654 (1493-94), following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, in 5710 (1949-50), after the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, and in 5728 (1967-68) just before the Six Day war in 1967 repatriating Jerusalem. Those of 5775 (2014-15) begin Tuesday, 15 April 2014.

1492 was also Columbus' cataclysmic discovery of new worlds. That is it was cataclysmic for those who were "discovered." That is the problem with signs, they need interpreting. Which is the greater sign, the Expulsion or the Discovery? The prophet and the wise man tell us, but do we know, now, what the Discovery meant, really? It is one illusion after another. Many parallels in the conflict of European and Indian cultures in the Americas, all of them ruinous to the Indian, will occur in the coming induction of Earth with supposed extra-terrestrial cultures that TV and cinema have prepared. Only a film like Apocalypto gives a sense of this. These ex-cultures are their own study, but it is much to the point of the man enclosed in the Iron Room that he wakes to see himself the Indian. Mainly they were affrighted, outmythed, diseased, out politiced.

Torah teaches that "the heavens separate the day from the night for signs" (Genesis1:14). References to the moon "darkened" (Isaiah13:10, Joel2:10, Joel3:15, and Matthew24:29), or "turned to blood" (Joel 2:31 and Revelation 6:12), are not correlated with the cardinal cross fracture occurring at the first Blood Moon in April 2014 or with the American harbingers, two having occurred, the third due 2014-15. For a decade of irregular orbits of  Neptune and (ex)planet Pluto changing places, meteor showers and northern lights were the only signs the impenitent took, not the stars falling like figs in Revelation where it is said all the host of heaven shall fall. If you live like figs you know a strong wind can litter the ground with your dark, sweet, rotten selves, which also attract wasps, so Peter says fig stars from Tartarus are loosed in a last roundup of the world mystery revival: scientifically attained resurrection, immortal perfect health, a real golden age swatch. Sometimes the fig is Israel, sometimes the universe: "the fig tree barked, made clean bare, the branches made white," doesn't mean the ordained future can't be known. Ask.

IF America is like Israel then the Blood Moons that fall on the feast days are for America too. "To drop America smack into chapter nine of Isaiah, as Tom Daschle does, when chapters two to fourteen of Isaiah are The Mother of All Threatenings (Edward Young), and to act as if they're just words does exactly what Israel did in Isaiah, took every counsel of its own advising, which all failed, and continued doing so." here 

08 April 2014

The Prophet Is a Fool. The Spiritual Man Is Mad.


Don't be a Gnaztic. Make no formed concept about
the realness or unrealness of existence



Children of apocalypse get to see science / government unleash. I got a trim this morning to get a better seat. Lovely children of the air,  four eclipses of the tetrad moon intersecting Israel with its third American harbinger to help, look good when it comes.  If you don't know what these are, be blessed and go back to where you once belonged. Are we ready? Don't be absurd. We long for it. We exult!  I don't want to get in trouble on youtube,  flailing potters vessels as the rulers take counsel. We know they shall be dashed. Many pots break when the rulers counsel together. Psalm 2, you know. Everybody denies this. Astrologers think it's the Ukraine. Pundits that it's Syria, Iraq, Honduran children at the gates! Prophets think it's the fig. Hosea thinks,
the days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are here. Israel shall know it, the prophet is a fool the spiritual man is mad  9.7). If the apocalypse starts in the next two weeks my son has a list. Deepen his spiritual life, put up cucumbers. Today he's filling water barrels. I like the approach. Do something. Drink the water of life freely, but it isn't even one AM. In ten days he will give up alcohol. The kiln is cooling, to open at dawn. Metaphors linger. My thirst for apocalypse inebriates. We know Yeshua Messiah is the glory of Yahweh. Nada mas.

To think about the aftermath, personal or political, then we begin. It is not over at the finish. Aftermath is all. When you are last standing you will prove. Fathers and mothers will be known. I count  the bruises like tattoos. Repudiations galore. Three times fired as professor, four times hired (then retired). Four destructions of nature: Pittsburgh strip mines, watershed of Bull Creek, the Experimental Drug and Herb Garden, the closing of Bishop College, building the Papago Freeway. Oops, five. Three uprootings: coal, steel country and back, Costa Rica and back, the Black college and back x 2. Severance of profession, contacts, preferments. Repudiation by those these were surrendered for. What was said in Shakespeare's Psalm, translated for the King, God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore will not we fear, though earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. George Herbert is the news commentator of my age. Collar and Artillery, read yesterday to my son, also born April 3. Herbert refutes the stars, aligns with Maimonides:

but as I raved and grew more fierce and wild at every word,
methought I heard one calling, Child:
and I replied, My Lord.
He says
I, who had heard of music in the spheres,
but not of speech in stars, began to muse:
but turning to my God, whose ministers
the stars and all things are

in which lines I read the apocalypse of stars, but that's below, where dead bodies thrown into tombs come out alive after landing on Elisha's bones, who only wants to be taken up like Elijah but has to wait. It is an honor to join our brothers in their death. So Donne, Good Friday, Riding Westward, says:

What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg'd and torn?


Now about the earth where that ragged immortal Kurzweil deposits his checks and hundred pills, transplants his body into pigs, while Apocalypse children seek diversion from everything of sense. as innocent as evangelions against the angels in advance of the otaku war on childhood and old age. Children raised in the shadow of the last days war on scapegoats. I told my teacher in first grade I had been bombed where I was born and spent five years until moved to another city, but the teacher said no, it wasn’t bombs, it was blackout curtains. My aunt was a plane spotter on the top of city hall. Gasoline was rationed, soft goods. Each family member had a ration book. Children were schooled in case of attack. It might come at any time without warning. Duck and Cover. This prepares for apocalypse, my friend. Apocalypse yourself, military! It certainly saves lives. So the goverment talks.We practiced getting under tables. People in Hiroshima and Nagasaki died looking up at the flash, took the blast of glass in the face. Ballistic glass lacerations caused the majority of 1000 injuries following the Chelyabinsk meteor air burst, February 15, 2013. What they don't say is that during these preparations for thirty years in schools the government was silently nuking the whole United States: American Ground Zero, The secret Nuclear War (Carole Gallagher, 1993). We're not supposed to say that. The best preparation for child apocalypse is mental.  But look beneath the efforts of FEMA to save. Look beneath all the opposition that makes consciousness. Twenty years ago, amid prolonged sociopaths,  my son and his friend John planned how they would take out attackers in their school. I don't want to give away their plan. Truly children of another era and inbetween, evacuated and inoculated with disaster, do not take seriously, unless it happens to them, the spiritual preparations. They can still get burgers. Grief counselors are available. Long before our children were born I indoctrinated my wife, then children to evacuation from public places, fire in restaurants, supper clubs. Instant, prescient movement out. So whereever we went I swept the room, marked exits, never sat publicly with my back to a door, rehearsed with them that if I say, we go, no questions, only action to follow. My version of apocalypse is awareness. I am listening, a constant vigilance catalyzed by the risky neighborhoods where we lived. Relatively poor, one car, we needed to live close, but this was in the target areas.That is the existential threat children feel to escape the Blood Moon.

First and last the prophet promises dew, but in between "the prophet shall fall" (Hosea 4.5). False prophets get treated like a moth (5.12). Without a king, a prince, a sacrifice, an image, an ephod, a teraphim, they go naked at the last (1.4,5). He says folk seek wisdom from their cars (staff), ask their (google) glasses what to do. Brains bypass sense, outernet gauze, false prophets, priest murders, hemlock furrows: "I saw your fathers first ripe in the fig, but they went to Baal-Peor" (9.10). The prophet is a fool and the spiritual men are mad. I have a  Countdown starting.

The judgments in the third sentence can be searched at Insight Statutes and The Palms of David.

27 February 2014

Methane Intoxication World Disappearance Sutra

The Bible, methane and apocalypse mixed up in a person might be explained something like this, but they will get carded at the door of acceptance, "how did you get in," "what do you want."  They don’t read the right stuff, know the right folk or say the right thing. My summers were spent working in factories from 15, gas stations before that. Two summers, at 15 and 16, I worked in a foundry washing the letters off of tombstones, suitable for a soul driving in night at speed, but not lost, destined some nights with four sons in little birth hats  floating to my arms on the flood. Two by two, two arms full! Sons and later, mountain lions, tigers, and now eagles. Quadruple destiny is a way to figure the alternate realities of memory, road taken or not. I traded a teaching fellowship in Chile that would have seen the demise of Allende for semesters teaching in Fayetteville, NC, Dinty Moore land, and the passing of Dr. King. This led inexorably to the wide macadam of Texas. Those who know the future by staying in the lines don't walk the tracks with a gun at ten, outside the camp. That's what I was doing the next four years, balancing on the rails of the Pennsylvania Railroad up from Scully's Roundhouse, shooting out insulators. What's a kid doing this, ccollect torpedoes and flares along the tracks, fasten the torpedoes to rocks below in Chartiers Creek, and drop heavy stones to explode them from the bridge above. This fits in a place where oil seep stained the ground from its derelict pump across from the school. Fires raged up the hillsides from the tracks. At the tops of those hills the whole landscape was  undermined with coal seams ruthlessly dug from the ground. Franz Kline's black and white paintings from his childhood in Wilkes Barre near the coal mines speaks the influence of living next to the railroad where the engine smoke was not scrubbed (1947). Black as soot, two tracks, only freight trains went up from the Pennsylvania Railroad Scully train yard past our house, outcome of the big operation in Pittsburgh hillsides undermined by coal extraction. It's blessing was it prevented later development.

 Those who walk the undergrounds of Traven, Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Solzhenitsyn "sink a shaft far from the inhabited surface, they go down swinging to and fro, hanging by a rope" (Job 28.4, A. B. Traina). I operated a bath at 15 in a factory where the cast molds for grave stones were brought after casting to be cleaned. Whose name is this, this name and this?  The names and dates  were fastened in bronze metallic letters to the layout with wax. After casting the molds were brought to a superheated bath to be soaked in hot treated water with arm length rubber gloves, the letters removed and  the blanks wire brushed. The letters to be recycled were sorted and loaded with the blanks on a skid. This was an uncircumcised Pittsburgh of Italian, Polish and French ethnic ways. I didn’t know whether I was an ethnic being or not. I felt generalized like a spaceman from Solaris. The next summer after those, I worked for Container Corp in Manyunk cutting up skid loads of printed cartons with a jackhammer with the humorless and down trodden 3 to 11 shift. That’s what I did  before college while scholarship players at camps or played tournaments and got enriched.

Holden Caulfield is a typical 15 if you want, but reality is a mix of aggression, innocence, and looking for red wine or pizza, always afraid you’ll get caught, but wearing a brave face for it. Moving from this Pittsburgh to the mainline of Philadelphia my last high school year was more than a three hundred mile trip. You’re going to be what brung ya if there are breaks, but read this message. The only notable class I took in high school at that high school, Harriton, about to begin its first year, was an elective to fill the schedule. Greek History, with Robert Ruoff, Assistant Principal, feared by reputation, but deeply enjoyed by pre-Elizabethan scholar. The next year, as a college freshman I was writing a paper on The Prince when I realized it could be called Machiavelli’s mistake, slightly twisting the arc. It was the first time I consciously chose not to be dishonest in writing, to find another way to prove the point. A major moment. Since then I have wanted to look until the truth is known. I had not made up my mind about a lot of things, but did not deny the trail.

Some good influences came that summer before college by way of a family of a girl who was just the kind of Christian my daughter’s husband thinks he must disabuse her of.  
I took their surety as engaging, their enthusiasm for love. So when they talked to me for hours about Jesus I wasn’t offended. I’m not a member of a party either. Sometimes they call this the tenth man, but there was a deeper reason for the unknown. My father and mother were nominal Presbyterians, but their forebears, especially my father’s, had long substantial histories of faith. Those doctrines say faith begets faith to a thousand generations, which illustrious ancestry of Mennonite pastors and bishops caught up to me at age 17.

These Christian people of my friend took me to an evangelistic tent meeting, just the sort media personifies as snake charmers, Oliver B. Greene. That penchant for honesty visited me there. He gave the usual evangelistic message, filled with references I was vaguely familiar with. But to my astonishment I found myself standing up when invited to do so by the loudspeaker. How do you explain that? Who is that speaking? I was standing, no lie, a little out of body, not with a drug, walking forward as feet followed feet into an area curtained behind the pulpit stage, lined with chairs and benches. A moonish face appeared in the air that reasonably asked what I was doing, what did I want?  I knew as much about it as he did, but the situation required a response, so I offered  that I wanted to quit smoking. Who doesn’t? That seemed to satisfy him so he suggested we go over to the chairs, kneel down and pray.

 I knelt down on both knees and the whole world disappeared. The physical manifestation was like a lightning strike. I say that because I am still struck every day. I felt it when I applied for social security after turning 65, being frisked on entry for weapons, just to display the birth certificate to the window. Surrendering the water bottle after waiting a good hour among the poor, the sick, the lame, the blind, people with hospital bracelets on their wrists and private security guards, the meditation arose that all these people were loved. I thought about that, the thoughts it came with, and in 10 minutes I was floating, praising. If you talk this way people are going to ask if you believe in healing and peace, whatever, but that so and so wasn’t healed or pacified. Does the negative replace the positive? Do others have this experience? I don‘t know what they have, but currents of light were circulating my brain. There was no particular prayer, or formula. In fact there is no explanation at all for what happened. It took fifty years to say this much, since every day electricity fills the cortex, like the poem “to burn sole within this fire.”  Up on my feet again in the back of that tent with no explanation, I walked out after maybe ten minutes changed, inner and outer. My hosts must have seen somebody stoned out of his gourd. I took this experience into Jim Fallon’s philosophy class three months later.

The Disappearance

Examinations of the Dutch painter Vermeer show an optical background to the paintings, noticeable because the retina compresses the visual signal in a way the camera does not.The camera shows a greater range of light but the retina contains about 7 million cones and 75 to 150 million rods of which only a million optical fibers transmit to the brain, so the retina compresses the image of the camera on the order of 100:1!  This optical effect doesn't occur in painting something not there, Van Gogh perhaps, or some scene that was never there, as a model looks real, or Joan Eardley's sea.

What is seen is not seen, what is read is not read. In consideration of seeing what is there and what is not there painting critics who see these optical effects are ahead of literary critics who still pretend that poems are rational, logical, or anything but translations of sound, aural phenomena overheard, a species of compressed front brain optics, things that could be said. A case of the disappearance of the [word] world occurs in the Talmud, where "what is read is not what is written" (Marc-Alain Ouaknin,The Burnt Book, 293). "Not le'olam (for the world) but le'elam (for the disappearance of the world). The world is there without being there: it is a "nonworld." In place of the the world, the le olam, literally: 'for the world' forever, or that which refuses to disappear, the Talmud seeks a world that withdraws, that retires. The Greek-pagan idea of the world before us is one that immodestly reveals itself to our sight, wants to be taken and possessed. The disappearance of this world, effacing itself, is opposite its taking, the world neither mastered nor comprehended. These two differences take on a speech vs. writing duality, that is, the written text vs its pronunciation. The Name that is read is not what is written, as if it were a different text, more legible, more (or less) veracious than the first, which is silent. "To say the Name is to efface it as a written Name" (294) "never in the repetition of an identity but in its destruction."

Multiple popular cultures oppose the disappearance of the world, but the philosophic preparation for the modern against this opprobrium is Nietzsche, for  whom any criticism of the world or its institutions is taken as bigotry, itself a bigotry:

"the Jews have brought off that miraculous feat of an inversion of values, thanks to which life on earth has acquired a novel and dangerous attraction for a couple of millennia: their prophets have fused 'rich,' 'godless,' 'evil,' 'violent,' and 'sensual,' into one and were the first to use the world 'world' as an opprobrium. This inversion of values (which includes using the word 'poor'  as synonymous with 'holy' and 'friend') constitutes the significance of the jewish people" (Beyond Good and Evil).

Anything can be said, but may not be worth notice. Surface depth is equivalent to the mere million optical fibers that translate the larger signal. Homer was blind but it did not constrain his writing. Unlike an advertisement, or a billboard announcing a meeting where the brain compresses the signal, the real thing, of say Emily Dickinson or WB Yeats, is overheard, aural not visual, the metaphorical methane commonly known in composition. There are different sounds and registers where the false predicts the true and has much affinity to it--but it is just false-- which is why truth is of the nose, in the sense of methane, as much beyond the ear as the ear is beyond the eye. Some poems stink. Pound called the Clock or The Tower, "putrid,"  reflections that can also occur from watching the colors of clay fade as they dry or the light go from the sky. The colors revive in the final fire, and more so gloss from ash or glaze. But don't try to photograph them. The better the rhythm of color the harder for the camera to see because the contrasts blind the lens. Reflections of light against the glosses blinds. This is a an analogy of writing, or rather listening, translating, and sensing with the nose. When the editorial senses a misspeak, it feels it first, essentially a smell; it doesn't smell right. Lens and eye are analogies to the opposition of thinking what to say as opposed to merely saying what is compelled:  the fovea is the point on the retina where the light focuses. The concentration of cones increases as we move to the center. At the periphery of the retina, rods increase and cones decrease. Does that help explain the difference between methane and pot, for instance, or alcohol, or you choose what, one sanctioned, the others putrid?

 To be sure, June 11 that summer at 17 I had an experience that changed my life as much as Goya's sickness or Borges running into a mirror, Christmas Eve, 1938 (Borges, Autobiographical Notes, New Yorker, 19 Sept 1970). The fear was gone, replaced by certitude, scary to profs who don’t hold to such, unless their own. When Jim Fallon assigned that first paper in freshmen philosophy I asked what I should write about. He said, how about, "Over and above man there exists some super-human power or force, god or gods, fate or destiny.” The gods and immortality! I have that paper still, except immortality is spelled immorality. He gave it an A. The single most important thing in my life was the development of this disappearance of the world. It was everything and entry into the mysteries and knowledge of  art and the imagination. It is the central notion of  all the major English poets. The next years I therefore took a long drink of the Bible, real long, went to Bible school at  night for two years while going to college in the day. The Bible being the point of view of all English lit in the positive but also in its negation, when I later asked Bill Ingram teaching Shakespeare in his garrett, what was left to read, he said, the Faerie Queene! Suggested a paper on the allegory of evil in Book I! Much the same thing happened in grad school at Iowa and over and over with every author from Hawthorne, Milton, Spenser…so that disappearance got me a PhD and freedom from fear.

Years later I learned I was the offspring of a family of devout Mennonites, but my parents had separated from the connection. In this more medieval than puritan 16th century faith, I was provided with a wife out of the Song of Songs who affirmed these same things herself without knowing it. Of course we had to pay. That should make it all right, for the world loves a failure of faith as much as it loves a good argument about truth. If the connection of spirit and brain comes down to what makes you feel good, then what makes me feel good is to love the unlovable, take in strays for no reason except they’re in front to me, to take chances, give aid, CPR to strangers, pick up victims. We were domestic medical missionaries and activists putting ideas ahead of things which experiences together turned me from a walk on to a player, late in the game. It happens when everybody fouls out. I was in the same workshop class as James Tate and some 60 or so mostly scholarship players. Late in the game turned out to be very late in the game, like 70, but by, if there were any doubts, I was satisfied to do what it was I wanted and let the doubts go. It is poignant what happened to Pound at 70. In his own words to Ginsburg…

Even with good will the spiritual world is not obvious. Just ask the delusions. As things go, the next years saw me take up those forms of education too. I studied two nights a week after my college classes, 7-10 at the Philadelphia College of Bible toward a philosophy of the good, licensed by Plato and the Pre-Nicene Greeks, which involved some close textual study of New Testament texts, esp. the name of God, Matthew with Clarence Mason and Romans with Andrew Telford, but also included personal evangelism and history of missions. Turning to my seat mate on the train back and forth to the city I would ask, “what do you make of this?” Lots of people talked to me about Jesus. There were also street meetings, which suit a walk-on type, where you lounge on some corner with a Bible and engage whoever comes by. No spite, anger, irritation. An open face saves lives. Who said that, Blake? 
Catastrophic Conversion 

 C. S. Lewis calls it catastrophic conversion, which illustrates how this enabled me to understand 16th century literature. What happened between the 16th century  and the first is at issue, but Lewis describes the result of this catastrophe as

“the man who has passed through it feels like one who has walked from nightmare into ecstasy. Like an accepted lover, he feels that he has done nothing, and never could have done anything, to deserve such astonishing happiness…all the initiative has been on God’s side; all has been free, unbounded grace And all will continue to be free, unbounded grace. His own puny and ridiculous efforts would be as helpless to retain the joy as they wold have been to achieve it in the first place. Fortunately they need not. Bliss is not for sale, cannot be earned. 'Works' have no 'merit', though of course faith, inevitably, even unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once. He is not saved because he does works of love: he does works of love because he is saved. It is faith alone that has saved him; faith bestowed by sheer gift. From this buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with all its good resolutions anxiety, scruples, and motive-scratchings, all the Protestant doctrines originally sprang." (English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, 33, review here). 

There is really an awful lot more. See some here. As John Skelton wrote, “Where the sank royall is, Crystes blode so rede, (Poetical Works of Skelton and Donne, see note), these notions are prominent in medieval and pietistic Europe, seventeenth century Donne and after (See Louis Martz, The Meditative Tradition), viewed with European Catholic icons but also one with the English metaphysical poets, Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw, Traherne and later Smart, who plead the personal heart of Jesus identical to Pennsylvania Mennonites. Consider Henry Vaughan's, "Dedication," Some drops of Thy all-quick'ning blood / Fell on my heart," and the astonishing lines of Crashaw,

They have left thee naked, Lord, O that they had!
This garment too I wish they had deny'd.
Thee with thy self they have too richly clad;
Opening the purple wardrobe in thy side.
O never could there be garment too good
For thee to wear, but this of thine own Blood.

When these people addressed their love letters to Jesus (Bird, O Noble Heart, 87) it became the scandal of Pietism, the "sweet personal Christ of the Pietists" and their "tender endearments." Jesus was "mein Freund,"  "unashamedly casual" (Bird, 86). Freund  folk famously invoked  the first line of Song (Canticles), to be "kissed with the kisses of his mouth."  No wonder their hearts flowed. This same "freund," was translated both beloved and friend [see the fraktur of 1770 by Daniel Schuhmacher (Stoudt, Sunbonnets and Shoofly Pies, 151, copied from Song of Songs 2.10-12]. In sensing him more judge than friend Bird shows how far they flee from him who sometime did them seek. (from Thomas Wyatt;s poem, contemporary of Skelton). As the Cambridge Modern History (V) says:

"They tried to rekindle the fire of holy emotion and by the spirit of self-sacrifice and austere self-immolation to restore the mystical union of the soul with God... adopting the language of the Canticles in describing the union of the soul with the Divine Bridegroom...they express a sensuous delight in dwelling on Christ's sufferings and the agonies of the Cross. This "...irreverent tone of familiarity with the Deity which so frequently characterizes pietistic poetry..." is a comment on the "spiritual exhaustion" of spiritual life in Germany at its lowest ebb.

It takes a long time living with renaissance Platonists without needing to rationalize. If you have  learned to read and comprehend the country of Aslan "of the Waking Trees and visible Naiads, of Fauns and Satyrs, of Dwarfs and Giants, of the gods and the Centaurs, of Talking Beasts" (Prince Caspian 47), the charm is that once the premise of life as it goes on in a terrestrial fashion is taken, except by perfunctory intrusion, the proper scholar is not a prophet who overturns everything once believed. If the ineffable is as invisible the world must simply be done, not thought, as in the Revelation among the churches, but not among "the race who cut down trees wherever they could and were at war with allwild things." Other worlds analogize  badgers and dwarves, tortoise and yarrow where the amateur is thrown into wars of angels of the abyss against the saints and their coming King. When St. John, Ezekiel and Isaiah talked with angels, and saw the invisible, they were overwhelmed.



The anima dances like a huge animal bulging with life in Neoplatonism. A whole crowd of airy creatures inhabit the region between earth and moon. The fantastic leaves no room to explore the "prophetic soul of the wide world." Ficino burned the commentary on Lucretius just because it depopulated  invisible beings from the universe. Bercilak resumed his severed head. This is not just medieval faith however. When  government theologues with a dream of power brought the invisible into the political they considered their “being in proportion superior to the world.” This was how they ordered the extinction. Read extinction either as of the invisible or of the visible. Why can't the two get along? You would not believe that the whole purpose of science is to manifest this Platonic spiritual world to the physical, filtered always through its megalomania for power. Science would call itself the whole purpose of existence. You would not believe that the three terms, visible, invisible, and the true man who opposes supernatural cosmic intercourse. (Compare English Literature in the Sixteenth Century 4f)

Once, at dinner in Iowa City, providing remnants of the disappearance to Marvin Mandlebaum from Geoffrey Hartman's Blake Class and his social worker wife from the City, Hartman having giving that paper an A, affronting Mandlebaum, I was confronted with the world's opprobrium  for being a nobody refugee from Tesla Tech. He had been a teacher in NYC for twenty years, and along with his social worker wife from the City, tendered the dinner invite to find out why I got an A. Certainly I was found out as he mocked what I said about the life I was changed from, citing many worse experiences. I said nothing then of what I really knew of depravity, too close to the dark.  That contact with Geoffrey Hartman in the winter of 1965 was an important event. He had just finished writing Wordsworth's notions of cannibalism in the Lucy Poems. He  knew as much as anyone needs to know of depravity and wrote of it later in Trauma within the limits of literature. Spending only a short time at Iowa before taking his destined place at Yale, he required a paper on Blake, which in meditation provoked my seeing in "The Tyger" the whole of Blake's later prophetic system, merely by reflection, not research. This process of reflection and meditation on that poem was the most extensive such event up to that time, and has since been followed in every task from the Restorations of the Golden Age to Starchitectures. Everything Geoffrey Hartman said was absorbed.  "On a deeper level, however, this memoir maps the ways early displacement lent Hartman his preoccupation with mediation" (Benjamin Balint). Donald Justice, Rhodes Dunlap, Hartmann the list is long of those accidental contacts.  (Replace p. 16)


The Costa Rica experiment was an early activity springing from the disappearance of the world. Leaders had lamented a lack of missions outreach, and I found I was willing to donate two terms of time, why not? People given to high spirits will go overboard (like Jonah).Through a contact fostered by Arthur Glasser, I was put in communication with Dit Fenton of the Latin America Mission (LAM) which eventually saw me living in San Jose.  What you gonna do if the fool persists in his folly? I had single handedly leafleted major universities in Philadelphia. Been arrested. Took photographs of gambling ops conducted by churches, got roughed up and threatened a little. Had gone to some rude chicken dinners on these travels too, saw the religious fronts of men in farmhouses and small white churches thrown back to the rural Mennonite. When my father entertained his business associates, which he often did, I would engage them. One memorable fellow argued, why do you always quote the Bible, can’t you think for yourself? Thinking for yourself means think like you’re supposed to. Do not think like Jesus, That’s trouble, think gov, church, town, corp. Join the team.  It helped sprout the beginning weed of satire. If you don’t think for yourself the first thing you tell your son, your wife is to agree. Democracy is not for dissidents. You have to agree. But the world this view has made is just the world of words that discredits itself. Generally speaking in those years I was a bit of a danger. My older brother was offended. My father and mother had no good response, but ended up being a little and then a lot proud when this son who took on the world took on predestination, racism and poverty too. How did this work out in the writer’s workshop, how has it worked out after? The two hardest things to write about are love and faith. It you try it had better be hard edge to the extreme, Hopkins, Herbert, Donne. And you had better duck from the piety of your friends and enemies.

These experiences enabled me to study the 16th century, but nowhere can one deduce a  principle from it, for people go every way possible. It also however loosed an untapped word hoard which must mean mental facility, with the certainty and encouragement that certain boundaries were in fact real, even efficacious, not just societal forms. So grand principles began to emerge, appreciated for the inner life to them and sought for their own sake, if woefully realized. The disappearance of the world did not however discipline the mind that governed that youth, as changeable and enthusiastic as ever, lacking ability to finish a studied thought, which proved true many decades. Eventually discipline asserted itself over the verbal facility, with the addition of an unconscious quality, so that topics presented themselves, and as evidence collected it was applied to expression. Eventually I did not ever seek a theme, but was presented with things impossible at finding out. Long after a semblance of order succeeded. I am now grateful for this method of composition because it spares me the origination fees and also further effort, except that so much was delivered that by the present more remains to be completed than ever existed, and there has been a lot of that. In this manner, merely teaching the Iliad, I came on the notion of the season and time of Troy’s end, correlations of Sirius with Achilles’ acts. One of many.

There was another event before the disappearance. One morning, age eleven, during the Korean War, having heard stories about a soldier across the street, Jim Christ, who had frozen in the Korean winters, I was walking as I always did early on a spring morning in this small town before anybody was up. Today after the summer solstice in the Sonoran desert I walk at first light in the coolness at 4:30 AM, nobody up, only a few cars. That morning in 1953 I was across from the school on the way to the old oil well seep when it came right down out of the sky. I put it as if it’s a sighting, but it was an immersion, or a coat maybe that wrapped itself around me, washed completely head to toe with the notion that I never wanted to kill. I never mentioned this, but never forgot it, so that when the time came in 1963 and I was falling to the ground after hearing a loud pop from my knee, the ACL exploding after a running cut playing football, I knew before I hit the ground, concurrent with a yell at the pain, that this was my exemption from war. The Mennonites, let us say, finish, what they begin. And of course it was. What the docs thought was merely the cartilage, which they repaired the old way though with the six inch scar, had no MRI and knew nothing about the ACL. But three years later, in ’66, at the draft physical the sergeant told me not to fall forward on my knees as did everyone else. Later the doc, wiggled the joint in its socket and explained to the  lieutenant that it was not good enough. I have no explanation as to why the coat came out of the sky or why the knee went out at that time, except by then I was committed to not killing anybody.

It’s true I contracted some bizarre attitudes and habits from quitting smoking, especially from the people associated with it, the usual things available in society. On the other hand I did quit smoking. Even if there were to have been interim fall backs of various kinds, I can say after all, I don’t smoke. I don’t drink either. What’s better than a Guinness, a Becks, a Beaujolais or Cabernet? Those lights I  see myself standing naked between. Prophylactics cut you off. Depression and death like alcohol. You need to be circumcised to feel good. You need to be naked.
The War  

Such meditations led me to the eventual conclusion that at the very beginning of time a fictional war began between the ancient human origins and some forces opposed to them. It would be like introducing German words into French, for the French pride themselves on the purity of their language, or the introduction of Celtic into the original pure Latin. Taking this analogy up a notch, these are only analogues of Vulgate languages picture what occurred when  myth was introduced into science, making it impure. These together are all analogues to the corruption of the human genome by the introduction of hybrids, we shall say. The intent of these forces to corrupt culture, mind and thought, the genome intself, into some thing foreign to its birth was the final skirmish in this war. These forces known as gods form no such literature as the vulgar hybrid of the streets of Rome. In the end they destroy it. Genome and language are analogues having to do with the processes of thought I call beheadings of the brain.The irony that it took only 300 years to undo classical science  and replace it with myths of the universe now called "science" is not liberal or humane. As to the undo, Lewis says "new powers became rich like Midas but all that he touched had gone dead and cold. This process, slowly working, ensured during the next century the loss of the old mythical imagination." The result of denuded forces, planets, tutelary beings was that pure empiricism allowed existence to nothing but itself. So how does it come about that this very empiricism invented even greater myths of itself, that man is god and life forms long extinct should be recreated, that artificial intelligence would rule human life, that hybrid life forms should replace the natural, that life for the elite would be endlessly prolonged, that ancient existences of spiritual beings would be invoked by corporations and government? Is that remything absolute? The last presumption wrestled incomplete travesties, saw giant forms transfer to the thought of the age.

There is no nuance, only sensationalism to evoke feeling in this early beheading. Irony is severed, rhetorically directed without individual thought. Musician Bob Dylan condemned the practice: "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like—static." Loudness War, Brick Wall. A world where nearly everything that passes for art is commercial, hollow and academic, like Black rotting teeth down to the roots of 85% of rural El Salvador’s children from Coke, Pepsi, Fritos in the last 30 years, mothers powerless against the corporate addiction in commercials that destroys their children in order to serve the world. This art is a commercial for the hybrid genome, in essence a form of psychopathic autotuning where the commercial message of words is conveyed in tones, voice sounds with depth of meaning severed. These were the last paintings on adobe walls transferred to canvas.

Slag and Fire

The same thing is true of the good and the bad, neither are recognized but both are known. So when I read Charles Finney’s accounts in his Memoirs of how when he received the Holy Spirit he was caught up for days of intensity I thought it was something I had not experienced. But I was wrong, except it was for years, a lifetime. “I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings” (33). I read Charles Finney's Revival Lectures and knew Oswald J. Smith from travels to the Peoples Church in Toronto with Alex Dunlap. I used to travel with Alex Dunlap and Shirley Waltz over the East and north to Canada in their ministry of the Conversion Center. I was drawn to Alex for his audacity more than his tennis, but his tennis was good. His audacity was greater. He took on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia  before it was  popular, challenging Catholic doctrine from the viewpoint of John Knox of the 16th century, as outdated as every other American philosophy and theology. The Catholic Church still retains its puritan detractors from Renaissance times, but the seven hills of Rome as the seven headed beast  are pale faux politik compared with that afoot.

The Peoples Church was a giant wooden structure with balconies surrounding an amphitheater.  My role was a warmup for the main event, to give testimony to the Changed of a new creature in whom old things are gone and all things become new. They were and were not gone. Had I known what I do now I 'd have spoken with authority. O

It’s OK to play ball and have a scrubbed face. It’s OK to do drugs and come out. It’s OK but don’t rock the body politic, the apple cart of the American gods for the provocation of American wars. Let’s say Jesus is a Christian. Well if not let’s at least pretend he’s an American. The spiritual world is rife with contradiction of such kinds. For me the greatest one was the last chapel at the PCB in December ’62 right before I went to Costa Rica. An invitation was given to come and rededicate yourself,  given again and again, held open, prolonged. I was keeping them all up late. But it had the opposite effect. I would not stand. I sat and sat and the speaker regretfully closed. I walked into the night, down Arch  street thinking to myself, what have I done? Just at the moment of decision I have turned away. That choice lasted a long time, arguments rolled, accreted like Philo interpreting self insinuating Gnostic. It was like Jonah. Did I ever get free of it again? Stay tuned.

We consider that the blood of Jesus buys us all. From that experience I emerge to explain incongruities of faith this way: "I wrestled incomplete travesties so as not to celebrate death, but after much pondering saw these giant forms transfer to the thought of the age. The frescoes bloomed and darkened, cracked and spalled, as though a war with Neptune and all fight in that moment had been lost, except for the patient’s restoration."]

---The longer you breathe methane the more you want. Memory is revived by the slightest descant. It had been decades until my son asked me to come down to Organics to scope their piles, either that or a stable. But the piles were trey significado, high as a house and redolent, poured with a 15 cubic yard loader into his pickup, mashing down the tires. Methane though is a symbol and mashing the tires shows its burden.

Here I sort something else said, the letters sent and received that reveal the cases, my own and the milieu, Drexel Tech, the University of Texas and the Latin America Mission.

5.  I call Drexel, Tesla Tech, had plenty of troubles with the business departments of my major, Industrial Management (!), especially the Co-op Department for my irregular posting to Costa Rica. To compensate there were unusual exposures in English that I loved, I mean James E. Fallon of course, my first humanities teacher, a philosopher who loved the Greeks, and Jack H. Minnis. After the last required humanities class I elected Jack's in the modern novel, said to him that I wanted to write and that I was headed to Costa Rica. He replied he would be my best critic if I wrote, and to send it to him. His letters stem from pieces written there, but later efforts to connect with him, at the Community College of Philadelphia, which started up just after I got an M.A. from Iowa, were not to be. Would he cringe to be called a good man? My father phoned him before I graduated and asked him to suggest a present for his son's graduation. Jack told him to buy the best portable typewriter to be found. It was a Hermes portable. I used it for thirty years.

To reconstruct simpler times of 1963 and '64, after Costa Rica I changed my major to a de facto English, there being no such official major, took an extra term in lieu of a final co-op three months, wrote a report instead. Whatever happened in Costa Rica loomed large. After returning I curtailed my religious connections and even if I never had a tennis lesson played #4 on the Drexel tennis team, the last season before graduation. I was always a superb B athlete. Ann Oppenlander and I both took Chaucer etc. and I did time with Bill Hollis working the Provencal forms. Mike Mckaie had gone to Iowa the previous year, so there were several escapes from Technology. Ann and I went the next, to Iowa because the chair, Sterg O'Dell, knew somebody and we could get in, even if specifically unprepared. So we got married and drove to Iowa City, simple as that.

 Looking back I am puzzled Jack Minnis never mentioned his doctoral work at Penn which he was just finishing in 1963, also that he wrote A Chronology of Violence and Intimidation in Mississippi Since 1961. To context the religious comments of his second letter, he never revealed his particular religious beliefs except to challenge them all in his classes. He had told me to read the Russians while away, which I did, nonstop in a day or two each, but I find myself smiling to reread his question the faith advice. It's a good thing he didn't say, "God grant you the spirit of wisdom and revelation that you may know him better." My father's business associates, who came to barbecues, to whom I cited the Bible had already said, "don't you think for yourself!" The Bible gets under their skin. It turns out Jack Minnis had just finished a dissertation on the Unitarian divine Joseph Stevens Buckminster : a critical study, 1963), whose ideas seem to reecho in his advice. The smashed crystal / deeper sheen seem his own account. Appeals to reason strike me OK, but reason is easy to fool. I learned that reading The Inferno (the Humanities curriculum was outstanding) and Machiavelli, and had discovered that I could write sentences to prove a point in such a way as to properly conclude with reason the point, but in fact the reasoning was false. I decided to find another way. So reason had this weakness, it could be fooled, but I chose not to. Reason  in the philosophical sense is not recommended for unconscious work in sculpture and paint any more than the ghastly writing of HistoPossum, which open your ears. Tied to  being a good poet or writer I always appreciate Jack's efforts however and the effort evident in his letters, such as the participating and being statement. Much of what he says about religion echoes the Grand Inquisitor scene in the Brothers K. "Night" became the last poem in the Drexel Gargoyle that year, Spring 1964, advised by "dr. jack minnis." I joined the editorial staff for fun, but didn't do any work. Ann was one of the editors. They put my "Corn of Wheat" first, about the death of my brother, along with "Cry Lemon" in the middle, a poem out of Limon, Costa Rica, plus "South of Sanity," a story symbolic of consciousness dislocation. He is prescient about making a fast getaway from Costa Rica.  A couple days after he wrote this I was out of there on a midnight flight after the news that my brother had died.


6 May 1963
Dear Andy,

I go your story about Johnny K.[revived here] [and before that, here] which is a bit better than the other one. The big difference between the two is that the first was contrived; the second was not. There was a good deal of humor in it, but a good deal of venom, too. I was especially pleased about the insinuation that certain characteristics of leading politicians are similar to those of cockroaches. I took the liberty to make a few grammatical corrections and turned it in to the creative writing contest. I don't know who the judges are, but I think that has an appeal that will get to almost anyone. I will keep track of the manuscript for you so that it doesn't get lost. Good luck. $50 worth of books would probably be a welcome prize.

Don't rush with the Dostoevsky paper. There is a world of time. The main idea is the reading; the writing is secondary. If you have read him, that is the biggest step. I guess you know that there is going to be a big market for people who know something about business and something about South America. Play all the advantages that this job affords you. You can't tell; you might get a job with the State Department.

We (Drexel) have moved into Commonwealth Hall--the old Red lion warehouse. The Math Department has the entire 3rd floor, finally retreating from that old shack at 33rd and Chestnut. The English Department has the 4th and 5th floors, complete with offices with doors. Probably best of all is the mistake that someone apparently made--there is going to be a lawn on the east of the building The area was obviously meant for a parking lot, but there is grass going in. The mistake may be ever further compounded if they let us sit on the grass. This is expecting much more inefficiency from buildings and grounds than is warranted, however.
Remind someone to tell you about Bus Ad day when you get back. It was very nasty. Estes Kefauver was the speaker, the topic was to be Federal Control of Business, but he spoke about Business Control of Government. To top it off, the head of the board of trustees is the director of a drug firm. We have never had so much excitement since the grain elevator on Market street blew up! Back to theme grading. Write soon and include more stories like "Expressway to the Prickly Pear." Nasty title.
hastily,
 (Dr.) Jack H. Minnis, as of about 2 weeks ago.

19 May
Dear Andy,

1. School begins 24 Jun for enrollment of students; classes start 25 June.
2. I don't know what I'll be teaching--or even if I'll be teaching. We'll probably know on the 24th.
I turned "Night" and "Creation" into the contest. If you win--good; if you don't, nothing lost. I'll be able to get them back after the contest. I will not be much help to you as a critic of your poetry. I'll as Mr. Hollis to look at them; he is a good critic. As far as I can see you had the inspiration, but lack the discipline of a practicing poet (rhyme, rhythm, alliteration etc). Don't worry about Russian novels until you back to Phila. Arrange to keep your face clean, instead. You might also arrange for a fast get away if necessary. So long as man has the ability to use his reason, he will continue to question any religion. It is a part of existence to continue questioning. Your personal faith is a precious thing which like most things of any value needs polishing periodically. Polish it with some serious questioning. Chances are that the result will be a deeper sheen instead of a smashed crystal.

What we have most to dread is that we use our religion as an excuse when refusing to use our reason . There are so many students at Drexel--and elsewhere, too--whose religious belief is such an excuse. This sort of laziness leads only to stagnation. If a religious belief is not strong enough to withstand serious criticism, then it is  probably not a very valuable asset. One thing I think you will  observe as you go along is that more people are devoted to the frills than to what you term "pure Xnty." For those who stress the necessity of being a good Christian and participating in church activities are ofter more interested in participating than being. Each of us must find some area in which we can be unique, superior. Hopefully, this area is one demanded by society so we can make a living doing what we want. The church is an excellent place for weak people to find fulfillment (it is so easy to be righteous.)  So you are going to find a strange bunch of bed fellows. Do not allow this to dissuade you though. Thee are such people in many fields. And as far as this being a Christ-less century-I think it is more irreligious than any other, bu certainly not void of Christian emphasis. You must not that the hold on morality which the church once had is gone. This makes it seem much more irreligious than it probably is. However, a decrease in the importance of the churches in moral matters doesn't necessarily mean an accompanying drop in belief in Christ. For example, Mr. Bauland, a Jew, probably does more to arouse Christian feeling than any other teacher at Drexel. By blasting without mercy (and often without validity) at the smugness of the church he strips off layers of frill and makes people question their religion--many for the first time. Let them become atheists for a few years; they'll change as soon as the uniqueness wears off. Then they base their belief on something solid. Besides, his life (when people aren't looking) is probably more Christian than 90% of church members! 
Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Jack Minnis 

There is a big gap between Drexel/Tesla/Philadelphia and Texas and the writing of Ameryca with a Y, to be filled in later, superceded here to explore methane intoxication as opposed to well meaning counsels. No doubt other attempts were made to wile me away from these extremities, but the speaking trips with Alex Dunlap, street meetings, pamphleting, evangelizing, bible school at nights, were not known any more than efforts in trying to learn how to pray walking in the park for an hour, extreme correspondence with Catholic priests about the patristics of their faith and other outlandish things interspersed with dangers and deliverance, the sudden appearance of a friend, the eruption of a volcano. It's a good thing it was not known, the Roman Colosseum, Saved From the End of the World.
6. Apropos of well meaning advice, Ruth Lehmann's observations about banal rhyme, the flaw of end stopped rhyme itself, internal sound less, came as I still puzzled the banal occurrences in some of those poems, especially when they  bracketed such unbelievable statements such as the word written in earth's center in the matter of its making, or I bleed with him for he loves the world, or a being light radiant of golden man, divine sonnets written as the end of the Calendar of America with a Y for the month of February. The last lines, now my heart is but an aging sack, a baroque amaranth of Milton, made Tom Whitbread guffaw, for love's gone to the world and won't come back. Never more banal a rhyme than that to contradict the accompanying citation from PL: Immortal Amarant, a flower which once / In Paradise, fast by the Tree of Life / Began to bloom. These untamed suggest a need for antimony to set off the miracle, the antimony being banal rhyme in this case, the happy(?) flaw, although the contradiction could otherwise occur, the point being that there are not going to be perfect lines, but there will be imperfect ones.What poem changed the course of history?

At the end of my sojourn in Austin about 1980 I shoved a fabricated "translation," of The Taliessin Poems, under Ruth Lehmann's door. As a Celt, I thought she would get the drift. Rght before leaving Austin I looked her up and met her, had known her husband Winifred from my days in linguistics, but had turned down an offer to apply for a government grant, a pre DARPA affair. I did not study with Ruth Lehmann, but had taken Science and Imagination in the Renaissance at Iowa with Rosalie Colie and through her studied Marjorie Nicolson, so could appreciate what her students meant to attribute her influence. After sending Taliessin I sent a copy of A Calendar of Poems and she returned her own Poems (1977), Celtic to the core, inscribing it to "A. E. Reiff, a man of talent." Although she takes back her criticism of Nightingale, John Lehmann had remarked in a letter about that same poem that even Byron had difficulties with Childe Harold (in Spenserian stanzas) before he got going. Maybe he meant the first five stanzas. I hope. Coop Renner was always good at loping off the head to get to the meat, a good effect, since it is the body we crave and not what you think about it. The first five stanzas were a kind of apology for so doing, and an intro to the landscape of hell, by way of Beowulf's mere, appropriate maybe for Persephone, but not necessary for the action. I could not give them up. Ruth Lehmann is exact in requiring natural rhyme. She however senses the biblical underpinning of that verse's texture. I take it that her reference to Johnny one-note was a caution, but understated so it could be denied. That's the best criticism after all, to be able to deny you ever said it, and if you did, didn't mean it. But did! I smile to be treated gently, "perhaps it is a wonder Christianity survives at all." I suppose the best response to that would be a kiss.

1 May 1981, Beltain
Dear Mr. Reiff:

Didn't I have your wife in class some years ago? Thank you for letting me see your Taliessin. I think you have a real feel for the music of words and a sense of rhythm--qualities too often lacking in our free-verse present. your use of some of the intricate Provencal schemes shows your daring in your skill.
To keep this from being all praise, I have two suggestions: inversions, distorted syntax her and there are disturbing because so much seems smooth and perfect. I cite one example from "Nightingale," I take it back, I misinterpreted. But there are some "did's" that are unnatural. Your work is too good to have any flaws. The second: though you use assonance and consonance as well as rime, your rimes by and large are banal.
Many of your poems I don't believe anyone could improve on. This is truly excellent work.
Most sincerely yours,  
RP Lehmann

17 May 1981
Dear Andy Reiff:

I have greatly enjoyed your Calendar of Poems. You show great variety of mood, voice, and from. I hope you did mean for me to keep it. In return I'm sending you my own privately printed poems. I particularly liked the early poems, perhaps because they really sing and I had this past year as a student a local poet who could well be Johnny one-note, and seems to consider four-letter words poetry in their own right. H also was stuffed with fundamentalist religion in his youth, has rebelled, and his verse is monotonous without insight or music. Perhaps it is a wonder Christianity survives at all. You ring many bells, waken many thoughts. Whatever you wind up doing for a living, don't give up poetry. The Renaissance undercurrent helps to give your work depth and variety.
Sincerely,
RP Lehmann

Maybe "debunking Christianity' as surveyed in Oliver B. Greene, Rudolph Bultmann, C. S. Lewis, three figures with whom I had to do, serves as a transition. The debunking had to do with their length of life, Bultmann outliving the others by some 30 years supposedly proved theodicy nasty to the fundament, since Bultmann mythologized what they believed and survived. Moths were eating them, I later claimed, and nobody knew what it meant. The argument was that because they died early it disproved their faith, but it is more rhetoric of the kind I avoided in college, masking specious reason as truth, like saying, as has been done, that since the camels at one waterhole lacked  a thousand years of age, no camels could have been watered by Rebekah from the Genesis well. Argument to the man, part for the whole, it never gets much better than that in the mind of debunkers disproving everything from Kierkegaard to Proust.

Since methane concerns the textual underpinnings of inspiration, the Christian ethic could be summed to  extremes without knowing it. Text and nontext, author or none, orthodoxies to the left and right are certain Weimar traits. The Weimar goes back to the 1880's textual higher criticism before it takes a  breath in Weimar. What era is not Weimar? The Renaissance with textures of classical form. The left will say if you think we're bad just look at the right, a creation of the left. Fundamentalists caricature themselves, as do charismatics. My mother was offended by the conversions to Billy Sunday in the Wilkins family. They stopped playing cards, she complained. This would be right wing behavior, but the extraordinary psychological effects of Finney's meetings and those digested in the leftish Gilbert Seldes' Stammering Century, plunking the new world mysteries of heaven, animal magnetism, Millerites, and all kinds of ites of the "burnt districts" of revivals, "lunacy and licentiousness" (Seldes,119), is that left or right, Dionysian, Apollonian?  Beyond extreme language by grammaticalists beyond reason, to demo the text, make it no text, Rappites, Chomskyites you don't want to hear, but instead believing your own pop orthodoxies of DNA raising the dead.

7.  Ruth Lehmann was an atheist and Jack Minnis a kind of Unitarian, but Ricardo Foulkes in 1963 was a theologian in a Christian mission, as written in Sky Shadows. I use his Spanish name, but he was called Dick Foulkes, graduate of Julliard, concert pianist, author of El Apocalipsis de San Juan. His letter is of 1968. He writes from Strasbourg where he was defending his dissertation, proposes to meet any number of places. In his avant garde theology class, Bultmann and Co., it was fun to puzzlingly read in Spanish in the Seminary library in the evening. Naturals describes the situation of the intellect vs. faith. Any peasant can believe, but hardly any intellectual can. All the sensational claims made about ancient texts seem to require the epithet, artificial, like artificial intelligence say, vs. organic, contradictory human intelligence. I say that because intelligence divorced from the feeling of being human, as an AI, is a crucial element of future gaming outcomes of the Future Institutes, implicated in controls. This is considered here at Artificial Intelligence is a Reptilian Brain Function, not something at all clear in 1963. Do you understand Bultmann or Barthes in the original, let alone in a language you barely know? Ricardo's presentation was enthusiastic, not that I ever got the point of saying such things about a text, spiritualizing it out of existence, let alone the characters in the text. Can theologians handle symbolic speech? Did Renan ever exist? To me the text is given, so get on with life, but as Spender says of the moods of Berlin, German intellectuals accepted an orthodoxy of the Left which influenced "theater, the novel, the cinema and even music and painting" (World On Worlds, 119). These ideas later reduced Ricardo's connection with the Mission, as the Wheaton archives state, but I haven't viewed them. Orthodoxies of all kinds exist. The one most urgent today is not political or social, but scientific, what our friend Kurk Wold explores. People in pop get it and produce films and series that counterfeit all the Christian doctrines, the latest being the Resurrection, that starts Sunday, March 9 on netwook TV. The biggest challenge to orthodoxy during my time among the professors of the LAM was the announcement in Inter-varsity's mag that some of their associates were speaking in tongues. Aside from Marta Cabrera etc. no one at the Mission did this, so I raised it with one of the profs and got a pretty cold shoulder. Among charismatics tongues is as orthodox as Bultmann among liberals, Barthes among the nouveux riche in letters or Melman at the ASU institute for Higher (much higher) Channeling, or total depravity among the Reformed. At the Eagle's Nest speaking in tongues was like saying the Lord's Prayer.

These in opposition are supposed to forge a compromise middle, right? Isn't that just good Hegalian doctrine, analyis to synthesis? Polar opposites? Magnetism. The system comes with these notions so readily  they are taken as law. The law of the excluded middle leads to the forced choice middle. Because the two don't get along sanctimony forges a compromise, like two brothers, known only from sketches.

I see none of these points of view. I lived then and there and I live now and here. I was a liberal, a conservative and a radical,  all arbitrary. Left and right are like present and past, they keep changing sides. When right is worn out it goes left. The present holds itself morally superior in its blind spots, just like the past did. The "two didn't get along." Complexities in assessing people of the past [Jay or JH or me or Bea, or EAY or Lib or Flo, or Anna] are only important because they show us who we are, not them. If I have both personal and encyclopedic knowledge of these folk, hidden and unhidden, have looked hard at them and myself, what I say must be content neutral, o/w it is prejudice. It is also important to take their rationalizations as credible, not curious or beneath notice. Judging the past objectionable, children alone in their cups go long and hard on their elders. I take the opposite as true. The elders are a given, with the past. The youth better accept their lives are their choices and stop judging their superiors, in doing so they reveal  too much. The upshot of left and right is embrace.Then the human relation changes. Many forces are aligned to prevent this, taken up somewhat comically, at Training Hege[l]. The whole purpose of polar thought of any kind is human control. We are not a mass of opposites but are made to seem.


Getting to Texas

I read Dostoevsky on that sojourn in Costa Rica straight through, but didn't take up Notes from the Underground until Fayetteville State when teaching Lit II classes. It wasn't mandated but selected to stimulate students to do their own Notes. That class and others in '67 - '68 was populated by what teachers called "black power boys" who scattered themselves about the room, put their feet on desks in front and sat with shades over eyes and hands on crotch. I took to wearing opaque dark glasses as we traveled the underground. Each was to write his or her own Notes from the Underground. I remember one Gregory Savoy, who some years later I visited at his home in D. C., wrote an especially moving version. Many of these students did outstanding work as they dredged their own mines. The A's many received did not sit well with faculty. I also assigned journals in all beginning classes to add up to 5 points to the final grade, depending on how much was written. These were so good we began a column in the school paper of their thoughts, anonymously credited.

This is what happens when you drive your car fast in the direction you go, but not knowing until you are seventy, that life is that way, traveling the Underground. When six of the faculty recruited by federal grants were let go the next year, driving full speed, but only because the application was free, I landed at UT Austin registering for a doctorate.  The best courses there were crashed without registering, Stanley Hall's ballet, Raja Rao, One Becomes Two, Douglass Parker's, Parageography. This is not to speak of hundreds of dreams of caves, holes, caverns never ending that came unbidden all the time. A tutorial with David DeCamp showed Beowulf's travels in the mere to resemble Celtic immram, watery voyages in islands of fire, so he forgave all the other omissions, for I wrote fifty Spenserian stanzas of a love poem to my inamorata in North Wales, evocation of Persephone's return, the poem Nightingale.

But by then I had presided over the bulldozing of the Texas Experimental Drug and Herb Garden, and finishing the doctorate, washed bottles, test tubes and beakers for the Clayton Foundation for Biochemical Research, that is, emptied radioactive xylene as my nose bled down the drains into Barton Creek. The soil of the Drug Garden had been made so deep in humus those three years that the good boys hauled it away to their churches in dump trucks prior to the last demo. By then I had taken up the eroded gullies and ravined watershed of Bandera Creek, hand trucked stone and cement, built barriers to catch dirt, a vocation among persimmons, cobalt sweet balls,  grey bark above agarita, above the aquifer that fed the springs. "Save the Gullies" should be the sign over the underground in front of its shell, before that other, "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate," before hell loses and all the rivers are loosed to cleanse its imagining. What shame when poets speak of the future? Talk underground revived these enthusiasms, "Twenty Photographs of the Risen Dead,"  "Noah Entered Into the Ark."

I arrived in Phoenix just as the freeways were built out of beeping trucks and landslides of dirt one street behind Willetta, storm drains being put down. I ordered my own dump trucks of dirt laced with gold flecks that children slid down feet first as I did the original Thornburg slag.  Houses were bulldozed to bare pavement. Excavation began by flood light at night and all day. Ringside seats gave leave to walk the barriers, explore the pits, but not one Hohokam artifact was found,  this when the plot of the Kmart at 16th St and Roosevelt  had yielded hundreds. We walked the freeway on Christmas that year over 24th St., had a picnic on the bridge before sliding down the berms with more shale and dirt.

You could say this is why I stand at cemeteries and ask whose grave is this, this one and this, as much as I used to say, but no longer do, "an image out of Spiritus Mundi troubles my sight." No more, for now I know the graves of grandfathers, and reconstruct their lives.  In a year they will bring them up as mummies gone white to bone when Yahweh shouts. I chronicle the graves of the Hereford Cemetery,  write the life of Bishop Mack, see the eyes of Jacob the Elder,  Caleb's delivery of the judgment, David's surrender to life everlasting  in the arms of a girl, Nightingale, Taliesin imagined at Catraeth, last warrior of the being-after, bleeding, who lay on the bloody field. Blood and more life.
I had lived in the Texas hills where scorpions crawled on the ceilings at night. Once at a chess party JCC III and I were playing on the concrete floor, a scorpion  crawling on the shirt of his arm.  I studied this scorpion so such that III noticed and flicked it off, which I finished with my huarache, very useful, but stinging will clear the mind.
 Repeated in the changing switches in Coralville, Iowa forty years before, across the street from the tracks and the Iowa river, now, in the night awake at the distant calls of their crossings, the trains sound as welcome as elk at night in the mountains with the sudden skirmishes of porcupines and owls.

  Ricardo Foulkes

 It's a burden to carry light if you think you're lit. If you don't think you're lit, no problem, but a mantle is heavy, a cloak makes warm. Anybody can get excited and mock Baal in the anointing of the moment, but after, what? That is the only place we truly meet, unless it is before takeoff. In the four intervening years since I had known him, but for some letters, I had finished the M.A. at Iowa and taught two years at Fayetteville State. He had completed his doctorate in France. His letter raised contradictions the first time I read it, and still does for its offhanded outside, inside connotations. Negro college it was not called. The gospel though was held by many people at Fayetteville in high regard, except I guess he would say, the black gospel, which is a strain. Nobody took or takes racists for anything but what they are in such communities, to be avoided and resisted. The talk is of the creation of the human and of  black paradigms. Charles Chestnutt lived and worked in Fayetteville. The liberal mind is as much affront as the racist, pretending to empathy, but perpetuating its own stereotypes against fundamentalist tyranny. Just the next stripe over from the racists on the flag of infamy. It is impossible to answer Riccardo's questions, to say what the goals of Black Power are, or were, but I would never refer to Dr. King solely by his last name. All his questions are of the outsider, like a journalist. It would have been as impossible to answer then as it would be now, whether after or before a catastrophe, how do you feel about it? We see the results thirty times over every day. The only response is a finger. There is a letter I wrote to my father about this time that says it that I don't want to air. Come ready to talk, that was what Louie Wright, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library called me in his office for because I might have special knowledge of the route to Central America. His son was about to drive it, 1967, and he wanted to know all about the circumstances I could relate. Then I was dismissed. As to Riccardo's questions no body can or should answer them. Want to know the Gullah? Piney woods? DC streets? Bed Sty? Newark? Those years filled me with compassion and anger. The anger I suppressed. Just about the week of his letter's arrival most of us learned we had been sacked, non renewed. Our plans had been headed for Germany, but taking the summer to reorient, I ended up in Austin at the height of the Democratic Convention in Chicago. He and Irene had not yet pursued the body as a hermeneutic, deconstructing the Biblical androcentric at that time, but that was truly useful to understand.

Strasbourg, May 23
Dear Andy,

You'd be surprised - as I was - at the polysyllabic answers I was forming to your questions in the 1st paragraph of your letter until with relief I came to "I'm kidding." How much you were kidding I didn't know till the 2nd page.
This may have to be forwarded to you - what with paralyzing strikes it may not leave France for a while - but Irene and I want you to know that we'd be so happy to see you-all. Philly, New York, Strasbourg--it adds up, and gets interestinger. Especially this Negro college bit and the polemic paragraph. A North Carolinian was here at the Faculte de Theologie last r. returned to his native Methodist Church and resigned (by request?) afer only a few months. What onearth do they define the gospel as in those Southern churches? If you ask me, the Bible has been 1) buied and 2) ossified in most fundamentalist circles and the trouble is not with the Bible. Your tyrannical Joseph and browbeaten Job come from this literalistic, wooden school of interpretation, just as do "separate but equal" rot and "we've always loved niggers - just a matter of their knowing their place" talk. What are the goals of Black Power?Is there any vitality in the non-violent movement now that King is dead? What differences in outlook have you observed between Northern blacks and Southerns? Come ready to talk.
I have my public defense of the thesis - turned in yesterday - on June 22, then Irene and I break away for 3 wks in Italy without kids. On Mon.. July 15 we'll be back for  2 wks (except for July 22-25, when I'm at a conference in Switzerland) and then's when we'd like for you to come; stay several days if you can stand it. We'll pack and leave for NYork about the 30th. Then Costa Rica about Sept 5. Things are roaring there and we're anxious to share French insights with the more than 60 students.
Hope you can write us into your schedule. please come.
Your friends
Dick and Irene.

If however anybody still wants to know the putative answers to these questions, at least what I would have said had it then been written, here is the introduction to letters to my father of that period that he kept and returned at his death. Yes I have all the letters my sons have written to me. What doting fools we are. Some of these are exceedingly painful outcries. So many contradictions meet at one place and time.

Letters From Fayettenam


“For us, we hope, reason will and should prevail and the killing will stop, and the greed should stop, and the emaciated faces of the hungry children of the world will not scare our hearts anymore, and man will come of age, of real age, and the fear of hidden monster in Apocalypsis or in Inferno will leave us, and truth, cooperation and love will vanish the bipartition, or tripartition of social masses, and we all billioned humankind will breathe here in America and on every corner of the earth the tonic of peace and the serenity of life.”

Augustine Fernandez,  Thoughts About America.


When I first arrived in Fayetteville I stayed at Dinty Moore’s and sat on the veranda with the white folk who run the town so to speak. They wanted to know my business. I told them I was new English faculty at Fayetteville State College. There was interest, but suspicious intent when the gloves came off, but I didn’t get too hurt by them or anybody else. God protects the fool and the lover (who said that), Wordsworth in France during the Revolution, Blake throwing the soldier out of his garden. I don’t know about Milton; there’s a limit to inoculation. Prudence results when the vaccine takes. The little Buddhist out there recognizes that your nature is to become it. I always maintained to my students everybody is a genius. Whenever anybody wanted to be one they turned overnight from a D to B or A. The inner incendiary lights the tails of foxes. That's the opposite of them getting wet. Some students believed in themselves and did marvelous things. Others tattled, temporized and lied. I failed only one those years, Henry Bryant, for openly cheating. He acted like he hadn’t done it, like a child, caught in the act. Like anybody doing anything, I didn’t do it, but I did.


We finished our MAs at Iowa in August 1966 and filed papers through an SNCC related clearing house funded by Rockefeller to staff black colleges in the south. The outcome of this social change program engineered by northern philanthropists was an instant upgrade in faculty rights, because nobody was going to mistreat the entitled without due process. Previously, the president, known as Sundown Jones, would rule you be gone at sundown and you were gone, which he did in fact about 2 weeks after the April 1968 student uprising, her miscarriage, other afflictions and obvious angers, except I organized and filed a protest with the AAUP at the undue process of such late notice, and the college was mildly censured. So you could no longer treat faculty with disrespect. The sun was down.


Those letters from Fayetteville evidence a passionate scouring of America never verbally expressed on site over the course of two sojourns among black people, in Fayetteville and Dallas, the 60s and the 80s, following an equally dispossessing stay in ‘63 in Central America among students from all over Latin America. Those letters to my father, 1963-1986, evidence an openness and trust unusual in itself, confirmed by their having been kept by him all those years and returned at the end of his life, indeed not ever read  until now. The only thing more extraordinary was his reaction, encouragement, instructive to anyone now with grown passionate sons in the field.


Usually the letters take up mundane details and are cordial and appreciative, but one sign of the passion of those years comes from the wife’s mother made in the middle of that time: “what would you do if she had a black baby?” That was a categorical misspeak of prejudice. When we were removed, non renewed after all that had transpired, my friend Charlie Brown, Institutional Director, shared some gossip spread by the departmental ladies. I had ordered porn for the library and published poems in the school paper against football. Every one of those poems was reprehensible, from Volkswagen Pussy to Asphalt Goose. Anger was closing to the surface. Psychoanalysts realize they are an increasing function of pressures in the pot, what Karl Hillie called Fayettenam. You cannot emerge unscathed when you take upon yourself the sins of the world. As to porn, the $10,000 given by the government to upgrade the library was about to lapse, the grant soon to expire, so I passed many afternoons with Books in Print in the library basement filling orders. Naturally I ordered modern literature, not thinking that much of it is pornographic.  That’s where I saw the Charles Chestnutt books, first editions on the discard shelf, near where I was filling in cards. Librarians have a disease of deaccessioning, along with stamping and marking. I took those somewhat bedraggled copies in heavy dialect with me when I left, The Conjure Woman,  Stories of the Color-Line, and mailed them back all carefully wrapped, marked rare, twenty years later! Charles Chestnutt was from Fayetteville, lived there from the age of 9 in 1867 and taught at the college, then a Normal school. He could pass, which ambivalence affected his place of honor and ignominy.


In those years blackness was not the revived joy it is more of today. Indeed the whole effort of the college was to make the students as white as possible in their demeanor, which is what Dr. More said on our first interview, “we want the students to act and think just like you.” I was getting to be a hardened visitor in other realms by then and remember thinking that he was pretty naive if he thought I was the physical image before him. I  had no intention of promoting the white thought and values that were being rejected in my own letters to my father. But Dean More’s point was that turnabout is fair play. In that first interview he almost spat the world Caucasoid at us, several times, and enjoyed it too. I enjoyed even more hearing an anger and frustration of decades given voice in the uvulars and stops, putting the caca back in Caucasoid. He was right, excellence had to be self  generated. We contributed to that in our firing and the subsequent censure even more than in our teaching.


I had had two other possibilities then, a two year fellowship teaching in Chile, which would have seen the deposing of Allende, traded in for the upset of the assassination of Dr. King, and a job at the new Community College of Philadelphia. Jack Minnis, its new English chair, my major prof at Tesla-Drexel, assured me a contract was in the mail, but at the same time Dr. Jones called. I put him off, might have taken the Philly job but the contract never came. Jack had argued with me about going to a southern black college. He said, “you can teach more contemporary black students and help make them leaders right here.” A good argument, if I had wanted to make leaders, but I didn’t. Make yourself.


It was an old and venerable black community in level of being at Fayetteville. I knew Gullah people from SC like Rilly Gaddy, who was my assistant, a fine example of her people, and Archie Johnson, with the army strike force in the Congo at Stanleyville, now Kisangani, during the rescue of the 1600 European hostages in ’64, which action coincided with the death in a plane crash of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. Archie had played competitive chess in the air force and placed well in competitions, but could not write an English sentence to satisfy the departmental ladies. We made a deal. He would teach me chess, I would teach him to write. He worked hard too, actually wrote with a Shakespearean syntax and diction. He also gave me tours of the army base, tours of black social life downtown, took me all over Fort Bragg, in the messes, and downtown to the black pool halls where the slouching dudes of Cab Calloway dressed in canary yellow. The times were troubled. One  night in spring ’68 the A&P in Fayetteville burned down. Archie reported this with a whimsy which left open possibilities. Ambiguity is wonderful. I wrote a poem about it, but there is no proof this actually happened. He didn’t want to compromise his leadership by seeming too cozy with a white, so at one meeting he suggested they put out a contract on me. At the time he had been fasting for weeks. I learned this only years later when Halsey and Pearson, two all-City basketball players from Bed Sty came to visit and do some plays Halsey had written. I asked if they had heard from Archie and they were amazed I cared for him since they were there at the call for a hit.


You can get to Fayetteville easily enough. Just follow the army to Fort Bragg, but don’t go down Hay St. Saturday night without even chances of a fight.  11494

 Explanation of the Absolute--Statement of Poetic These entries are blog try outs sorted here by way of Jack Minnis, Ruth Lehmann, Riccardo Foulkes, pretexts that we cannot know ourselves without the knowledge of others


One tries hard to deny that the events of a life have anything to do with its attitudes. the black revolution, takeover of buildings, Ann's miscarriage, getting fired,