Sunday, December 27, 2015

miniature brooks | in parallel currents

So that, after size and weight, the Power of architecture may be said to depend on the quantity (whether measured in space or intenseness) of its shadow; and it seems to me, that the reality of its works, and the use and influence they have in the daily life of men (as opposed to those works of art with which we have nothing to do but in times of rest or of pleasure) require of it that it should express a kind of human sympathy, by a measure of darkness as great as there is in human life: and that as the great poem and great fiction generally affect us most by the majesty of their masses of shade, and cannot take hold upon us if they affect a continuance of lyric sprightliness, but must be serious often, and sometimes melancholy, else they do not express the truth of this wild world of ours; so there must be, in this magnificently human art of architecture, some equivalent expression for the trouble and wrath of life, for its sorrow and its mystery: and this it can only give by depth or diffusion of gloom, by the frown upon its front, and the shadow of its recess.

Seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849, by John Ruskin


is not a mixture of tones,
the proposition is articulate;
it isn't a bridge aloft from
river but miniature brooks
in parallel currents – we
see here between solid
facts the mind of fragile
beings, sensibility unfurled
to crystal sound – this
perhaps is where we learn
fine architecture from a
rock, momentarily sensing
what's impermeable as
porous – for facts are the
world's deposits, beyond
them we seek anonymous
liberty, sparing in the air.

sophos symposium from trespasses, 2006, by Padcha Tuntha-obas

[edit: changed "brings" to "beings"]


  1. "fragile beings", i presume... dunno about this duality stuff; my perspective: time is an illusion, hence no past or present; ongoing sensory perception everchanging, grabbing impressions as it all goes by. awareness of solidity in the things around us which we can only interpret as facts. some doubt re the reality of consciousness-possibly the result of childhood influences during which the brain creates scenarios with which to estimate future occurrences and responses. so that the universe, whatever it is, is a whole thing, of which humans are a part, not requiring "intelligence" or awareness of any sort to be real. human as plant or rock; all the same... it's like trying to imagine what a tree is from inside the tree. or a rock.

    1. You're right. Let me edit that.

      I'd agree that "fragile beings" is a weak phrase in that poem; it's trying, too sharply, to create a field of tension between "fragile" and the other words that have been put there to oppose it, primarily "solid" and "impermeable" and "rock." And the delicacy, the evanescence that she looks for in other parts of the poem (those rivers, brooks, musics; the "anonymous | liberty, sparing in the air"), makes the dichotomy seem especially coarse and simple.

    2. The idea of humans as "fragile beings" is sentimental as well, and there's nothing in the poem to counteract or complicate that sentimentality. The best Elizabethans could throw off those sets of sparring words so quickly, with such dramatic aggression, that anyone in English-language poetry coming after them is going to struggle, especially now, when poetry has lost its close relationship with theatre. That's my hunch, at least.

    3. i sympathize with you not saying anything about what i said re consciousness; i rarely mention it, because although it seems very possible to me, most think i'm nuts... all in the pov, i guess. i've read some of the elizabethans; shakspeare, chapman(i liked his writing even tho most critics apparently don't) et alia. i've managed to acquire eleven of the old mermaid editions of the plays but haven't read all of them yet. some of sydney's poems are exquisite; i'm about half way through arcadia and am determined to complete it this next year. marlowe is a bit too brutal for my taste, but my impression of the whole genre is akin to a rocky plain(basalt)sprouting with rare wild flowers under a blinding sun. lovely stuff...

  2. I don't have anything to add to what you’ve said. I think I can see why you've disagreed with the poem, since it places people implicitly outside worldly solidness and turns them into “fragile beings” hearing “crystal sounds.”