Sunday, December 30, 2012
corresponding to the English "game"
What a death-like existence she must have had, Katherine Anne Porter, whose life was incomparable according to the blurb on her biography by Darlene Unrue, what a ghoulish mortality, how strictly repellent: the black hole of her presence making people uneasy as they witness eerily a pit or vortex in the air where this woman should be; she is the answer to the sum of her actions and the actions that would have made up each component of the incomparable life are incomparable too, an intense or lax nexus of null multiplication and plus, and so she looks as if she is doing nothing; she is doing nothing, she is not doing anything that can be described; she is performing actions but no one can describe them, they are inhuman troubling actions; she seems to be a god and yet she does nothing miraculous.
She moves her right leg forward. Everybody feels sick. Finally one of the people near her decides to describe her in any way, even the wrong way, because they think that would be better than not describing her at all.
They pick up the closest book, which is a translation by Robert Firmage of poems by Georg Trakl (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) and they point to Katherine Anne Porter while they read this line: "Something sick weeps silver." Everything is easier now: there is a starting point. Porter moves and the person reads again, "A pure blue flows from husks of moldered dullness." Soon everything she does can be described with a line from a Georg Trakl poem. People stop throwing up around her and finally she can write a sentence people will understand although all of it is Expressionist. Nevertheless it is recognisable words in an order that can be deciphered and that is a blessing.
But everything she does now is an extreme thing, that is how it is understood, that is how she understands it, because Trakl wrote extremes and juxtapositions, saying, "sweet corpse," or, "the dark cries of the blackbird | In childlike gardens," savagery corresponding with children and angels: his poetry is that correspondence, which becomes known by its other name in such circumstances, and that is juxtaposition. Her behaviour exists at extremes, the moon dies when she walks out at night, and nondomestic animals that come near her become Wild, a German word that Firmage usually translates as "prey," though he is cautious and writes an explanation in the introduction to the book: "Wild, however, is primarily a hunting term ... corresponding to the English "game," and thus bears the connotation of victimization of innocence, of something born to be destroyed ... the best English equivalent possessing both the connotation and the objective reference of Wild ... is prey, which is neither as common nor as specific as the German term."
Katherine Anne Porter's behaviour can be described but it cannot be reconciled with the moderate behaviour of other people: she is either extremely peaceful and silvery because Trakl has used the word silvery or else she is cruel and holding a corpse, though some aspects of her being remain static: her eyes are always blue because Trakl likes to write blue eyes. Ideas that seemed apart from one another are brought into conjunction by her presence; her nouns are reasons for colours to be closely settled, "A blue moth crept out of its silver cocoon," "The river glimmers greenly, ancient alleys silver." A colour is a complete thing, an utter thing: here are two utter things, here is energy between them, like a relationship between two nations. Her closest friends insist that there must be something in the middle, unobserved; these extremes are like parentheses, they say, constraining or bordering the inexpressible. "Which makes her no different from anybody else," they tell her detractors.
The detractors respond knowledgeably: "You have been reading Heidegger on Trakl."