Sunday, July 22, 2012

leaping from rock to rock

"Pairs," I say, "pairing," I say, thinking back to the end of my last post, and then I wonder if all ideas come from the physical world; something is heard, something is seen, and an idea comes afterwards. Each sense a reef and the wilt and sprout of coral. Perhaps people like to put two remarks together for emphasis, to make each one seem stronger and more influential than a single remark on its own -- each friend draws attention to its neighbour; together they're a larger target, better fighters, more thuggish, four fists instead of two; and on some occasions they can make a singsong --

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low.

-- writes Robert Browning in Meeting at Night, putting asymmetry inside the possible symmetry of the first noun-pair, first one adjective, grey, then two, long and black then another rearrangement in the next line, making little sonic upticks with the letter L; and so he keeps the reading citizens awake with his irregularity -- or perhaps the writer of the hypothetical pair puts the phrases together to create a frisson when the two disagree (those two sentences in the Hangover Heaven advertisement, for instance: such close friends and yet they fight) or for the pleasure of creating a suggestive lacuna, which may or may not be filled invisibly by an association (which might depend on a single connective noun, adjective, verb, or occurrence, as in W.G. Sebald's poem Poor Summer in Franconia, which has been translated, for the book Across the Land and the Water, by Iain Galbraith, who writes these three lines, "In the afternoon / my crazy grandfather / torches the fields," followed by this new verse, "My last aspirin / dissolves gently / in a glass," the two scenes, one large-scale one small-scale, connected by things dissolving, burning, and disintegrating (and containing, like two parentheses, everything in the middle ground, which I will imagine is disintegrating sympathetically as well -- the world in other words, is irresistibly getting away from you -- O --)) or by the expectations of the reader. And the singsong itself is a habit and a pleasure for many.

The biblical David in Browning's Saul tells the sad King that "leaping from rock to rock" is one of the "wild joys of living" and I notice that he doesn't say, "from one rock to another rock," or "from rock one to rock two" -- does not tell us that "rock" in each instance means a different rock -- instead he lets us know through the certain ordinary phrasing of this absence (from x to x, he says, a shorthand so embedded in the English language that it must have come to him automatically; it has to be an agreed-upon group-thing because it omits a significant piece of information yet he is confident that the reader will fill the gap without his help) -- that there are two rocks, and that the person is not leaping from the same rock to the same rock, or in other words just prancing or bouncing up and down the way the night elf women do in World of Warcraft, bouncing lightly on their toes when they have nothing else to do, and visible sometimes doing this, through doorways, and out of the corner of your eye, mysteriously unmotivated by anything except what you imagine to be boredom and childishness, -- childishness, even though they are grown women and capable of fighting demons, wizards, ogres, and the magical embodiments of water, wind, fire, and earth, as we so often see in our travels across Azeroth and other planets: those monsters they fight, the otherworldly powers in the shapes of whirlwinds with burning eyes, fire-spirits wearing shackles on their wrists, and also the ordinary bears, wolves, angry deer, even the small harmless animals if she wants to, squirrels, skunks, beetles, moths, anything can be murdered, an idea that has been taken of course from the physical world, where, if I hit a squirrel with an axe, it changes forever, and so does the computerised one but does it die?


  1. thanks for sharing.

    1. You're probably spam but nonetheless, spambot, you're welcome. Tell that Russian dentist and the person who wants to sell me cigarettes that I said Hello.