Lucifer's Valet

PISAN CANTOS: Sieburth’s Notes

Posted in Hermeneutic Friendship, Poeticks by lucifersvalet on 25 November 2009

One way to read: first, read a Canto straight through, w/out any notes; second, read the notes, flipping back at the relevant lines in the poem.

The thing is, both of these experiences are aesthetic. I enjoy reading notes. They’re quick & monadic (they don’t form a narrative, so you can break off at any time). I think it goes back to the first book reading I ever did, which was the photo captions in the Ballantine Second World War books.

It also goes back to the first time I read the Wasteland, at the urging of a professor. Hated every word of it, except for the one note about Shackleton in the Antarctic hallucinating an extra member to his party.

Sieburth’s notes are remarkably thorough, yet still there are some references go unremarked. Given how personal Pound could get, it would seem some will never get tracked down. These opaque markers can glow with unknowable significance. Like fetishes! & I do like fetishes, though I have prescribed for myself Walter Benn Michaels’s Shape of the Signifier. I’m sure after that medicine I’ll be thinking better.

In the Department of Opaque Markers, we have those books that await the Sieburth treatment, such as some other sections of the Cantos, or Zukofsky’s A (though it would be nice to get the book itself back in print). But that’s an odd kind of text, one that stands ever-pregnant w/anticipated exegesis.

One way of thinking better would be to stop writing the kind of poems that call for such note-making. In the minutiae department, one man’s mountain is everyone else’s molehill.


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