Thursday, April 30, 2009


As between leaves the breeze,
Speaking with vagueness, with purity
Of the remembered and the forgotten
Who've become legendary with time

Luis Cernuda El arpa Madrid 1937
trans. Marshall Hryciuk (Franklieocygnatra) To H.:

There’s a kind word for vagueness in this poem.

People almost always dismiss vagueness as
a weakness, an insidious thing.
I'm for vagueness.

I've realized that children love abstraction
and vagueness far more than adults do.
To be adult is to get down to brass tacks.

Kids love ideas.
Abstraction and vagueness are not the same.
Ideas tend to abstraction; some abstractions
are vague; some real things are vague; some
ideas are vague. Real vague things are great.
Vague ideas are not so, but can be useful
and slippery; vague abstractions
may be all we've got.

For example, what are you doing out of bed at this hour?
is a pretty non-vague question, but its answer
is probably threaded through vaguenesses
we don't explore too carefully
like the nature of the time difference between us,
the unclear reasons why
we're still up on this full-moon night.

I guess most ideas are vague at their inception, and
become clearer, sometimes to their detriment.
Ideas about real things is what we are concerned with,
and we do it in very different ways - I tend to work through
abstraction and representation, while you find the metal in
the heart and lay it on the table for all to see.
Richard writes of “the sacred not paralyzingly contained”:

here’s some further thinking about vagueness and occulting,
upon which I will pontificake here:

Vague: French for "wave".

insight comes in waves.
people get frustrated, resentful sometimes
if you send them one wave
and it's not followed by any others
so they can come to attention,
and get the wavelength.

They have already to have been attentive.
to challenge a reader to set (his/her) own wavelength
on the basis of your initial impulse-wave
is not reasonable.
waves issue out of the occult.
The occult is that which is not visible, not ocular.
People think when something is vague, it's because
you're engaged in subterfuge, in occulting.
It's the opposite.

You're engaged in unveiling,
but it happens in waves,
and the waves are often singular.
Sometimes they get followed up later.

Why should anyone take an interest in a single wave?
Because often it carries all the information
of the frequency bundled in itself.
This is just physics,and simple
(but very incisive) observation.

What makes an incisive observation?
The ability to stop time.
The illusion of the passage of time
is a deliberate device we have imposed on ourselves,
whose side-effect is to occult individual moments.

Training allows a person to isolate moments.
A poet may isolate moments,
then attempt to reproduce
them for the reader by providing a wave.
This takes skill because to make the wave un-wavelike
(not vague), requires repeating the wave
as if it were not frozen in time, but the same wave repeating.

This is not the nature of what lies
veiled in the occult, it’s just a simulation.
We can simulate wave activity by asking questions,
as above.

That's all for now. It's vague, but it's the best I can do today.



  1. If I were to tell you I can see your future in your fingernails, would you find that a vagueness?

    You would want to know the science of it, and a science there is indeed. But can I tell you
    in a breath about how to read the moon, the clouds, the ridges, the layers and thickness, how to divine what you eat, read, think, breathe, and how that determines your life? No I cannot, yet to someone trained in the four volumes of the Vedas and the attendant Ayurvedic practices, my mention of fingernails will be as transparent and precise as the science of mathematics to a mathematician. To the non-initiate, the vagueness may be alluring enough that s/he will
    follow it up. Or it may be frustrating because s/he want everything served up fast-food style. Everything is like that: you have those in the know, those interested in knowing,
    and the disinterested. The first two categories of people are mutually supportive, and the second learn how to recognize the clues from the first about how to access the missing information. Or create it.

    To reply to Paul Nelson quoting Ginsberg quoting Blake, that vagueness is the tool of hypocrites, I say that any tool is a good tool for a hypocrite. The tool is not to be blamed for who uses it.

    xo Czandra

  2. "Abstraction and generalization are the plea of the hypocrite, knave and scoundrel" is the quote. Fingernails are precise. Body part is not.

    Perception is part of Buddhist practice and there is a Pound quote which I can't find, but can paraphrase: "Worry about perception and taste will take care of itself."

    My feeling is that when people generalize, use weak or cliched metaphors or similes, what is lacking is perception and the result is something that usually bores me, as a reader.

    This is not a demand for fast-food, or convenience, it is a demand for perceptual intensity, a demand that the writer do the work. He/she is free NOT to do the work, and I am free to ignore it, but if we're interested in creating work that goes deeper, we take the time to be as precise as possible.

    You can argue with me, but there's a century's worth of tradition behind this stance, including Blake's exact quote:

    "Ordinary Mind includes eternal perceptions." - A.G.

    "The natural object is always the adequate symbol." — Ezra Pound

    "Things are symbols of themselves." — Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

    "Labor well the minute particulars, take care of the little ones. He who would do good for another must do it in minute particulars.
    General Good is the plea of the Scoundrel Hypocrite and Flatterer. For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars." — William Blake

  3. On the highway, it is not rare to see a wave,
    all alone, one wave separated from the ocean.

    ¨It is absolutely useless, does not constitute a set.

    ¨This is a case of magical spontaneity. ¨

    - Henri Michaux, "In the Land of Magic"
    quote courtesy of bluelight poetry and JB