Friday, November 16, 2018

as if she was

As I was looking at three translations of Norwid’s Fortepian Szopena I noticed that everybody had translated one of the phrases, “co chwila, co chwila,” with a different set of words. One of them liked “moment, by moment,” another one “each moment, each moment,” and the last one, “from beat to beat.’ That was Teresa Bałuk, later criticised for being too nice and smooth by Agata Brajerska-Mazur, who said that in order to translate Norwid well you need “extensive knowledge -- not only of the translated text but also of the but also the whole of the author’s works and ideas.” (I don’t have any of that and I’m still disturbed by the infidelity to Norwid’s comma.) Arie Gallas, who co-translated the “each moment, each moment” version with Jerome Rothenberg, lists Polish among the Foreign Language Skills on his C.V., but their poem still comes with an afterword that claims he is “hard to conceive for those of us cut off from him by language.” Rothenberg, Gallas, and a third writer who has just entered their article, Jeffrey C. Robinson, prove their point by quoting Polish writers who agree on “the impenetrable obscurity of [Norwid’s] style and his jarring syntax” (Czesław Miłosz). Their list ends with Bogday Czaykowski, who believes the dead poet “thought of himself as a reader of signs, of traces left by God for human beings to recognize and decipher.”

All of the Polish-English dictionaries I could find told me that “chwila” meant either “moment” or “instant”, with the Cambridge Polish-English Dictionary adding another suggestion, “while.” If, for some magical reason (say aliens cast spells on you), you needed to translate Norwid’s “chwila” as “while,” would the phrase have to become “in a while, in a while”? But then we’re always looking forward to a piece of future scenery without inhabiting our own moment and that seems to be the antithesis of those three real translations by Bałuk, Rothenberg, Gallas, and “moment, by moment”’s Danuta Borchardt.

Translation was on my mind. When I walked upstairs from the Norton Simon’s Ellsworth Kelly exhibition to the Henri Rousseau painting of monkeys in the galleries above I imagined the pointed leaves in Kelly’s Suite of Plants Lithographs were being echoed in Rousseau’s jungle. I remembered how happy André Gide sounds in his journals when he notices that his dislike of Alexandre Dumas is shared by an author he admires, Colette. It’s good for him to see his sensations removed from obscurity in another person.* On Monday, after I had stepped away from Maurice Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure, 1950, to watch Agnes Varda’s 1968 film, Lions Love (… and Lies), I had to put the book down for the rest of the day because Viva, one of the Lions characters, was reciting Blanchot’s lines in my head every time I came back to them. I had been reading a chapter that describes the condition of Anne, who is, argues Kevin S. Fitzgerald, a kind of Euridice removing herself from Thomas, who is an Orpheus. “[F]or Thomas's limit-experiences resemble the near death experience of Orpheus in Hades.”

“Then, suddenly,” writes Blanchot, in this translation by Robert Lamberton, “with the noise of a tempest she entered into a solitude made out of the suppression of all space, and, torn violently by the call of the hours, she unveiled herself. It was as if she was in a green valley where, invited to be the personal rhythm, the impersonal cadence of all things, she was becoming with her age and her youth, the age and youth of others.” Although I wouldn’t normally have seen a connection between Thomas and Viva, I realised that if the Warhol star really had begun saying those lines it would not have sounded wrong. The movie, in which people often borrow phrases from Shakespeare, or from Michael McLure’s 1965 play The Beard, or, in one scene, from St. Augustine, would have made sense of the words as they came out of her Buster Keaton stoneface, and the translation from one place to another would have felt legitimate.** Varda’s works are arguments for the carrying capacity of movies, all except Vagabond, 1985. (People who like Vagabond will talk about the personality of the protagonist rather than the filmness of the film.)

Instead of reading Thomas I wached the Melbourne Cup and fooled about, trying to fit the word “translation” around the death of Cliffsofmoher – translated from one of the three hopes of Ireland into nothing or something stupid like that. In light of the dead horse it seems strange to see all these live people running around.

* Originally I wrote “his hatred of Alexandre Dumas” which was nice but I was working off my memory of the passage and “hatred” felt like too much when I looked it up.

After Bella-Vista, which is quite recent, I take up La Maison de Claudine, which I did not yet know. I enjoy reading in it: “Neither my brothers’ enthusiasm nor my parents’ disapproving amazement got me to take an interest in The Three Musketeers.” Yes, I am glad not to be the only one who failed to lose his heart to Dumas père when his companion in boredom is Colette.” (11th of February, 1941. Translated by Justin O’Brian.)

Hatred was not really honest. “I can’t say hatred,” I thought.

** If I were Varda I would be making a joke about Viva’s stoneface being a stoned face, but it needs a French cadence and I’m not French. It would suit her general way of using words, Mur Murs, Faces Places, and so on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

destroying rocks

“Poets are routinely and shamefully used by their society to have a culture,” wrote Alice Notley as she was describing the life of her friend Steve Carey, “to have a culture at all.” She went on to add that Carey was “the product of society’s use of him”. He was dead. As soon as you read this you remember that part of the earth from Cyprian Norwid’s grave was transported from France to Poland one hundred and eighteen years after his death and buried in a crypt under Wawel Cathedral along with sixteen kings, two saints, a cardinal, a general, the Queen Jadwiga who lived from c. 1373 to 1399, the Queen’s daughter who lived for three weeks, and Adam Mickiewicz. Whatever else you may say about the United States, they have not shifted the remains of Steve Carey. Let’s say something nice about Max Richter, Jean Paul’s son, who resisted his father’s constant lectures about respecting poets, when “someone” (tr. Eliza Lee, Life of Jean Paul Richter, 1850) asked him what they would do if his parents died and he answered first, “We would weep,” but then “We would go out a little into the street,” pushing back (I say) against the initial desire to sound poetically moved and instead rethinking himself into a prosaic reaction, refusing the temptation to borrow his intelligence from poetry, in spite of his father, who, when his characters in The Campaner Thal, 1797, tr. Juliette Bauer, reached an elevated point in the Pyrenees, brought out a dictionary of contemporary poetic bliss and said that they “looked again towards the heavens, lo! all its stars were gleaming, and in place of rose-woven wreaths, the mountains were clad in extinguished rainbows, and the giant of the Pyrenees was crowned with stars instead of roses.”

The characters in Campaner Thal have been discussing the likelihood of immortality as they climb the mountain – what does Kant think about it? – and God? – is Uranus populated by nuns who like the dark? – until they reach the summit, where the scenery joins their imaginations to create a complementary argument for a mutual and comprehensive appreciation of the subject that has been skewing them.

[I]n this moment it was with each of our enraptured souls as if from its oppressed heart earth's load had dropped away; as if from her mother's arms, the earth were giving us, matured in the Father arms of the infinite Creator; as if our little life were over! To ourselves, we seemed the immortal, the exalted. We fancied that our speech of man's immortality had been the prophecy of our own, as with two great and noble men.

In the preface to the story Jean Paul has already told us that “Poetry alone reconciles the past to the future, and is the Orpheus's lyre which commands these two destroying rocks to rest,” so now, here, poetry is landscape; poetry is in the appreciation of landscape, the sublime knowledge that the stars, heavenly burners, are also substitute roses.

A hot air balloon is nearby and why not. The character Gione, longing to match her physicality to her mind’s desire for beautiful solitude, mounts to the stars in the basket alone. Just near the beginning of the story (many pages ago) she appeared to die; her devastated friend Karlson wrote a poem “entitled, Grief without Hope, which declared his disbelief, for he had never broken the Ambrosia, whose delights a trust in immortality affords. But just that strengthened his enfeebled heart, that the muses led him to Hippocrene's spring of health.” Miraculously Gione recovered and her fiance could respond to Karlson’s gift of the poem with a letter to let him know that he’d read it to the person he thought was deceased. Out of this miasma of events she had become “the immortal one,” a nickname that seems respectful, playful, and awestruck. Richter, or so the legend goes, wrote his first worthwhile book after he’d had a vision of his own death at the start of November in the year 1790, a destructive upset that killed off the earlier self who had advocated against ornate writing. “The writer who produces many comparisons, who composes in an ornamented style, appears to me to have little depth,” he had written in 1779. His American translator Eliza Lee points out the joke. “The passage in which Paul speaks of florid and ornamented writing is remarkable, as he condemns a style that was afterwards so singularly his own.” He was saved to make poetry: saved, rescued, hooray: he lived until he was sixty-two. Max died at nineteen. Ha ha, we laugh.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

happenings, trivia, misfortunes

Cyprian Norwid sees “sorrow, sorrow, from end to beginning”* in addition to the partitioning of Poland between Russia and Prussia, but the Polish aristocrats themselves precipitated it, he says in at least one poem: it is not all the fault of the Prussians and the Russians, who, in 1863, went into the Pałac Zamoyskich on Ulica Nowy Świat and threw the piano of his dead friend Frédéric Chopin out of a window. Why? “Because there is no place on earth where intellectuals are more dependent and more humiliated than in Poland. All the people who work with their brains are someone's clients, they are teachers of children, hangers-on. ... without well defined positions, and their undertakings are either feeble or not well thought out - abnormal in fact! Since history does not tolerate a vacuum, [Polish historical space] is filled with accidental happenings, trivia, misfortunes - every fifteen years.”** (Marian Sokołowski read that in a letter she received from him on January 27th, 1864, shortly after the piano incident.)

If you were being selfishly reasonable you could point out that no one was using the thing at the time but once it had crashed viciously through the window it provoked into existence “Norwid's masterpiece” *** and“perhaps his finest lyric”**** Fortepian Szopena where it is able to represent both the desecration of intelligence and the spark of future action ("The Ideal – has reached the street –").

Therefore -- you state rudely -- it was more use out of the window than in.

I mean, he was dead. (1810 - 1849)

By transferring the energy of an irregular piano-self across that rectangular window-boundary, we (the universe personified in a person or mob, or, if you pull back further, the Tsar whose army it was) precipitated the further energy of a p – etc.

Thank you to the Tsar.

But no one should ever excuse their own cruel behaviour by arguing that their actions are hypothetically inspiring some poet somewhere, not when you can find the most important thing everywhere, Lal Ded says in I, Lalla: the Poems of Lal Děd, 2011, translated by Ranjit Hoskote, who discusses the scholarly and extra-scholarly struggle that brought Lal Ded to this point of understanding. “No orchard bears fruit for the barren mind,” she may have said, although her corpus expanded after her death and so who knows; she was inspirational like the piano. Whoever thoughtlessly heaved that instrument out of the window (I’m guessing it was thoughtless: a "barren mind" and no fruit), they are about on the level of the dog that gave Ron Padgett an ending for Dog by barking in the street at 6 a.m. -- if any dog did so – proving that it was alive for no reason when his friends Ted and Erwin, mentioned earlier in the poem, were “no longer here”. Some necessary energy has departed with them: no one will ever replace them. Chopin’s playing, says Norwid, was like the apparition of a Antique Virtue in a larch-wood country manor. (Borchardt)

* My Song, by Cyprian Norwid, tr. Danuta Borchardt, from Poems: Cyprian Norwid, 2011
** Quoted in the Volume XIII, Number 3 issue of The Samartian Review, translation credited to the staff of the magazine
*** Adam Cedro in Vol. 30 of Studia Norwindiana, 2012
**** Joshua Wilson in the New Republic, May 29th, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2018

“along various” “dirty pathways”

Thinking of Scott G.F. Bailey’s suggestion that all books should be judged by the Four Humours, I tried it out.

Choucas, 1927, by Zofia Nałkowska, tr. Ursula Phillips
This Polish humanitarian Zofia Nałkowska brings characters from different nations together in a mountain sanatorium. All dispossessed in some way. They are afflicted with illness; they are afflicted with hatred for other nationalities. The narrator wishes that the suffering of the human race would end but it will not. Her observant resignation orients Choucas towards winter and decreases sweating. The choucas-birds, acting out a representation of the crowd inside the building, increase phlegm by removing heat from the humans and displacing it into the enigma of animals. The sincerity of the author generates a consistent, light black bile, but underlying warmth (quick feeling) improves the story’s health, removing digestion problems and clearing the bowels. Concealment piques the melancholy and keeps excessive phlegm at bay. Overall a hardy book though the liver is small.

Titan, 1800 - 1803, by Jean Paul Richter, tr. Charles T. Brooks
A prince’s proud, eccentric, excessive, unfortunate, sometimes secretly malicious, plotting friends and associates show him how to be a balanced person as he observes their personal disasters, e.g., dying, going mad, whatever. The author’s temperament is natively sanguine; we assume his hair was thick ditto urine. The aim, in spite of his constant airy digressions, is still ultimately phlegmatic. Titan’s desire for sanity rejects choler, melancholy, and dryness. (Counterpoint: should the habit of punishing other characters be diagnosed as choleric impatience? Could the digressions be described as fevers? This line of enquiry is not totally convincing.) Expect a shapely stool while reading.

Inside the Head of Bruno Schulz, 2013, by Maxim Biller, tr. Anthea Bell
One of the real Bruno Schulz’s former students remembered him saying, “We [artists] can turn day into night and night into day. We may cover snow-capped mountains with luxuriant foliage. That is our, the artist’s, freedom, and such is artistic truth, which we can demonstrate through our works.” Maxim Biller’s Schulz doesn’t know anything about that. I think Biller would like his fanfic to be brunette and lithe with a fresh complexion like the stories real-Schulz wrote, but the calculations he goes through – the insertion of Schulz-facts and bits from the stories and the faithless strangulation of Schulz’s air-infused methods (the artist’s “freedom” becomes hallucination, people really are birds) – are too anabolic.

ULULU: Clown Shrapnel, 2007, by Thalia Field
Field’s tireless invocation of flexible performance (both in startling poem-text acrobatics and in the mutating characters) gives this book a healthy youthful physique, though the examples she uses (without violating them) are rooted in the first half of the last century or earlier – Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays, 1895, 1904, Alban Berg’s opera adaptation of Lulu, 1935, Louise Brooks in the Lulu film Pandora’s Box, 1929, the modernist-beloved circus structure – suggesting an attachment to the past indicative of melancholy. Anxious activity is tempered by a refutation of repressive internalisation that, while manifesting violently, has the potential to produce sound sleep. Both the sleep and the likelihood of heavy sweating can be read as phlegmatic. The book is addressed outwards, to the audience and the same audience in implicated in the activity (ULULU: You, Lulu), placing the sociable sanguine elements in a dominant position.

The Descent of Alette, 1996, by Alice Notley
Alette’s fate is to enter a receptive state that will reward her with symbolic advice and totems while she looks forward to an event that functions as some sort of summary and as an arrow to the reader. This is an essentially pre-modern way of regarding a narrative, redolent of Romance of the Rose, Dante, etc. There is a high degree of catabolic reactiveness baked into the text by the poet who breaks down her lines into bursts of words separated by inverted commas.

“I walked into” “the forest;" “for the woods were lit” “by yellow
street lamps” “along various” “dirty pathways”

Naturally the catabolic style can be identified as choleric, these bursts of artificial presence are like flames; at the same time it is vocal and sociable, therefore sanguine. (Is it in danger of consuming too much? Also, looking back at ULULU am I in danger of diagnosing all poems as sanguine?) Both of these values coexist unproblematically with the melancholy self-questioning of Alette. Imbalance enters when we think of phlegm. Readers should consider a cool, wet climate. Eat cheese.

Monday, September 3, 2018

according to a pattern drawn from a patchwork quilt

When you mention advertising of course you can't forget the way that Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage comes, after a while, to begin a passage with a sentence about some person or event you have not encountered yet, speaking about the thing as if there is already a large context all around it and filling you with the desire to be up to speed with the rest of your compatriots who are now standing around you, holding a discussion you are excluded from.

It is as if they all have a Fiat!

There is, for example, the first sentence of Clear Horizon, 1935, the eleventh book, “Between herself and all that was waiting to flow in and settle upon this window-lit end of the great empty room, was the sense of missing Lionel Cholmley.” As if you knew Lionel Cholmley. You have never met Lionel Cholmley. Lionel Cholmley? Then there are three pages about Lionel Cholmley. Cholmley! He was worth knowing! Cholmley! He exits forever. “Having paid him tribute while pouring out her tea and getting back to the window-end of the long empty breakfast table, she bade farewell to Lionel Cholmley.” His radiation lingers – it is the idea of speaking without posing, intensified – “And instead of going to face down the room from the hearthrug, or to pose with the curve of the near-by grand piano, he remained in his place and said his poem as if he were a momentary spokesman, like a vocal testifier in a religious gathering, and, although his poem was heroic, his voice was only a little fuller and more resonant than usual, and quite free from recitational ‘effects.’ So that the poem prevailed …”

Soon afterwards, Miriam watches as a stranger rises in the crowd at a Lycurgan Society meeting, “slowly stammering out his simple words, annihilating the suave pseudo-Nietzsche on the platform,” and Amabel next to her says, “Mira! He’s real!” The man is not Lionel but he is a continuation; he is a Lionel-tentacle, and Amabel is the one who invents a new phrase for he is quite free from recitational ‘effects.’ The radiation is still there, spreading its ad of realness, so that soon (with the whole atmosphere presaging) Miriam will stop going to Lycurgan meetings and veer towards Quakers.

At the same time there is something buried, something muffled, as there was when her mother died and the book waved its hands obliquely, leaving open the possibility that you would not find out. That muffled-ness points to a world somewhere where everyone does things unexpectedly, for reasons you will never know (as though her mother had gone on holiday).

There’s a different form of radiation in Nanni Balestrini's Blackout, 1980, tr. Peter Valente, when the author springs some phrase on you and then repeats it on the next page surrounded by different lines and then maybe again in two pages until you realise it could occur in any place at all and still justify itself through radiant penetration. Honestly the poem has no way of saving itself from its lines. Nobody will veer anywhere; they are immediately present, because the line, “you persecute your persecutors with the truth” can occur after or before (as if on top of) the line, “meanwhile this occasion has unmasked all the petty tyrants who swore to me that they would eviscerate our friendship” (p. 26) or after or before the line “redirect your letters from Nice to Provence because tomorrow I’m leaving for France and who knows I may travel much farther” (p.27) until it is always unmoored – it always has the atmosphere of meaning something ... He put the poem together, says the editor, by “arrang[ing] the book’s text
according to a pattern drawn from a patchwork quilt with strips sewed at 45 degrees across a checkered base, developing a chart […] indicating which borrowed fragments would be placed in which numbered sections, in varying ratio depending on the cut.”
You are always waiting for a line-reappearance. It will be the same thing but in a new setting like a repeatable horror jewel. It is as if Lionel Cholmley kept coming back in as Lionel Cholmley, not as an anonymous stammering Lycurgan meeting man or as a Quaker or a statement from Amabel. What do monsters advertise, these M.R. James yūrei that stalk after you?

Saturday, August 18, 2018

taste, any taste, so long as it's strong

Reading the tweet by Robert Minto in which he tells me, us, that “increasingly I enjoy the aesthetic opinions of people with *a* taste, any taste, so long as it's strong and they're articulate. Those people are the ones who show you new ways to be" -- I thought, oh, advertising, we want advertising; we are unhappy when it manifests itself insufficiently, when the brand is not evident – this is bad for me -- I will never show anyone a way to be, my taste is very very little, I am less than a new car or a box of butterless butter – and if a person does not have a taste then they are not even flesh, they are cardboard. Even Frankenstein's monster had an opinion.

I should find a thought and espouse it ... I will be angry at texts that do not feature farts. There is a manifesto in that. "Farts are part of LIFE," I write, "why are they not ALSO part of literature?" Every piece of text must have at least one anal utterance unless it is an academic paper: those I will excuse. I write, "A fart is as intimate as we can be with the divine element, Air, and does not the position of the emittance indicate a relationship also with Earth? Throwing open the skylight we establish a deposition to the ground. Nearby there is Water." I’ll follow this up with water wisdom of some kind -- quote: Shelley, Percy B (do you pron. this Bish?): "A great poem is a fountain forever overflowing with the waters of wisdom and delight." A Defence of Poetry, writ. 1821, pub. 1840: posthumous. Everybody will be impressed but we want something more contemporary. Adrienne Rich, why not. "I have always wondered about the leftover | energy, water rushing down a hill | long after the rains have stopped," use that, from For the Dead, found in (as in, I opened the book and looked for the word "water" because the title sounded as if it would lead to water) Diving Into the Wreck: Poems 1971 - 1972, pub. 1973, "Co-winner of the National Book Award for Poetry, 1974." Water: done and sounds unassailable. Water is life and poetry. Fire, I don't know -- fire? I could fuzz something about the energy of life being essentially multiplicitous, composed of opposites and contrasts and everything in the middle, therefore firelike as well as waterlike (n.b., this connection to the convincing earlier extrapolations about water will be worth half the argument right here) and this energy runs through all of our bodies but especially through the anal-neighbourly presence of two clumps that do not pick anything up* or transport us anywhere and instead hang there with energy popping through the fat "as a flame leaps (leapeth sounds better? too pretentious?) between gum trees, therefore FIRE, the plump arse is a natural HOTBED, plural units cry out for transference and fire transfers itse" ... no, I dunno about Fire. I think I could get away with it though.

* there must be someone with good musculature who could do this.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

root sprawl

Closing Susan Wheeler's meme, 2012, I looked at the title and saw -- because the mindset of a poet was still in the process of dying away inside me after reading, so I saw thoroughly for a moment, very rainwashed I was … -- I realised it said me, me. Reading an interview with Wheeler I decided (although she never says so or even mentions the word "meme"*) that me, me was unintentional "in spite," I thought, "of the incredible relevance of the word "me" to a publication that spends its first twenty-seven pages reporting the words of a character who does nothing but aim remarks at other people." "You get down off your high horse, young lady," the person says, and you realise she has to be the poet's mother. The daughter never talks back – she says nothing – no one in the poems speaks except the mother. "Years later," you think, "when her mother was dead, she wrote these poems." Why did I think the mother was dead? Because the poems don't seem to wonder if she'll read them. Later the interview confirmed it. I don't think you're ever not aware that this act of recording is an act of talking back or of somehow having her mother. Anyway, the daughter is being quiet and not-quiet. You can't say the same for the other people the mother speaks to, "Ray" and "Dan." "Ray, don't make it too stiff," she says. The poet has chosen not to have them, only her mother. And of course you're looking at these lines and thinking, "That's too perfect, that's not an accurate recording, it's an act of reconstruction based on some memory or impression of the mother" who was, according to the interview, full of slang.

Robert Polito: Your pleasure in our random, fleeting, and lost slang is palpable. How did you come to this absorption in vernaculars?

Susan Wheeler: God knows, as my mother would have said. I’m beginning to get an inkling, as I’ve been writing a series of poems that use her idiomatic expressions—she grew up in Topeka, and had a strong portion of Pennsylvania Dutch as well, but who knows where she got phrases like “busier than a cranberry bog merchant.”

The mother was the outstanding slang-unit in the family. She was the one the daughter wanted to have. Wheeler even writes down statements that are not slang. "Go ask your father," is not a distinctive phrase but there it is. Somehow these lines are balancing the slang in the poet's mind, or she remembers her mother saying, "Will you take the broccoli out of the freezer," in a manner so amazing that it occupies the same place as slang when she writes it down. It continues the scolding tone. Her mother saying, "broccoli out of the freezer," was a memorable sound. Wheeler likes "broccoli" and "freezer" together. The two words have the same lengths but different personalities. "Language poetry," you think. You remember other poets who do this without their mothers being in the poems: Lyn Hejinian, you recall. Gertrude Stein herself has given Wheeler the strength to tell the whole world forever that her mother once mentioned broccoli and freezers. Or maybe the mother never did, but she has now. "A cushion has that cover," writes Stein in Tender Buttons, 1914, and a century later Wheeler utters, "broccoli in the freezer." But Wheeler has a different space in reality. The reader is convinced that once there really was broccoli in the freezer. They do not believe there was a cushion. If there was once a cushion then Tender Buttons has annihilated it. Even though cushions are as real as broccoli.

Stein's friendship with Picasso swims up. The half-secret grid in a painting like Ma Jolie, 1911-12, annihilates the woman figure. It is like shredding a tree and drying it into flat paper. There does not have to have been a woman. Allegedly it was the artist's girlfriend Marcelle Humbert but you do not need to believe in her. Wheeler, you realise (as you think of the Picasso), resists the ideal of complex flattening when she puts lines in a daughter-thinking voice at the centre of each poem, as though she is summing up some impression she had in the days when the mother was scolding her. "Avocados, toothpicks. Coleaus, root sprawl. | The diffident glints of a late-day sun," she recalls. I notice I didn't think of this earlier as the poet speaking ("no one in the poems speaks except the mother"). These lines are not uttered. Immediate publicity is not their form, as it is with speech. Real people might walk around asking, "Will you take the broccoli out of the freezer?" but they do not come up to you and say, "Avocados, toothpicks. Coleaus, root sprawl," with that careful punctuation. You would be disquieted, unless they were answering a question. "Susan Wheeler, what do you remember from your childhood?" you ask, and she replies, "Wallpaper, striped. A slippery floor." You assume these objects were given to her without asking.

*I have a memory of another interview in which she did say the word meme.