Saturday, December 12, 2020


An ironic choice, I suppose, considering my post earlier against writing that reflects upon its own processes, but Auster's style is so clear of dead weight qualifiers that he gets across some of the mystery involved in composing a verse, a quality that eludes other writers. A novelist by trade, Auster's fiction often fashion themselves after mystery novels where every assumption and cover story is questioned, and in which action is moved forward by chance; whole chains of events and consequences in his best fiction-- The New York Trilogy, Book of Illusion, Leviathan-- that depend on the fickle choices of where one desires to place themselves, on impulse, on the spur of the moment.


No one here, 

and the body says: whatever is said

is not to be said. But no one

is a body as well, and what the body says

is heard by no one

but you.

Snowfall and night. The repetition

of a murder

among the trees. The pen

moves across the earth: it no longer knows

what will happen, and the hand that holds it

has disappeared.

Nevertheless, it writes.

It writes: in the beginning,

among the trees, a body came walking

from the night. It writes:

the body's whiteness

is the color of earth. It is earth,

and the earth writes: everything

is the color of silence.

I am no longer here. I have never said

what you say

I have said. And yet, the body is a place

where nothing dies. And each night,

from the silence of the trees, you know

that my voice

comes walking toward you.

White Nights likewise comes across as a detective novel , combined with a ghost story; within in it are the themes of someone writing something in isolation wondering if anyone will read, how anything will change if a readership is found, how the writing lives on in the writer's words haunting a stranger years later, in another part of the world. This is poetry Don DeLillo would write, I think, if he were more attuned to the associating residue the covers a landscape or neighborhood that was once familiar but is now estranged by time. There is a novelist's precision in declarative statements like " The pen moves across the earth: it no longer knows what will happen, and the hand that holds it has disappeared " that mimics perception itself, how something beheld can seem so clear and self-contained to its purpose, place and use and yet morph from the particular to a swirling ambiguity with the slightest alteration of mood. It comes , finally, to that flashing recognition a reader experiences when another's words confirms  refinement of feeling one has felt in their own travels through an amorphous existence. I think the poem is lovely but finally undecidable to  precise meaning. Add here that that most poetry that's worth reading is undecidable to major degrees .But that is the whole point, I would think.

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