On Jamais Vu
A thrilling moment of levity in the dogged dance of days: It is an honor to announce the release of Olga Broumas & T Begley's Jamais Vu, October's issue of The Lune (No. 17). We give thanks for their dialogic sweat, their devotional wont, their sonorant vision, their verbal anamnesis, their bone music, their shadow talk. Jamais Vu is a sounding of individual joints and social folds — the phrasal body creaking, the integral body singing its connections, wave after wave, in the particular mode:
like a sail I found myself
in material I could carry
Mneme tremors in the wall-dust of ruined stars. Or we can be literal: Jamais Vu is a series of image and breath-centric lyrics that seek, in the space between voices, the deeper reaches of personal memories, where recollection becomes a reinvention (a rebreathing) of historical figments and figures. It is as april joseph writes in her beautiful introduction to the work: "Ancient and (music)noteworthy mystics appear throughout this pureland reminding us of ancestral roots’ voice, of its seekers, seers, mourners and singers." Broumas and Begley write in love and belief, systems shining with recognizable goodness and grief:
trail out to the house overlooking
inflating the top floors
of the red lacquered lungs you climb
gold steps to the buddha
all patination lost
alone by itself with shiva
devouring the vermillion
I wish you the good fortune of discovering their work, be it Jamais Vu — which is our first title available as a PDF download as well as a physical chapbook— or one of the many remarkable collections co-authored (Sappho's Gymnasium) and translated (Open Papers, re: Odysseus Elytis). Or perhaps you're like me and will unwittingly find one of Broumas's collections — Perpetua, Pastoral Jazz, Beginning with O — in a sacred bookstore, and the space between your head and your heart will reverberate with meaning.
Speaking of such space, a brief ambling investigation of acceptance:
Having finished reading Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray, I moved on to De Profundis, which is included in the same Modern Library book (early 1900s, the first pages of my copy are missing). In it Wilde reflects on the state of his existence in prison and the web of experience that so placed him. Just under twenty pages in I read over a sentence (all these prepositions, all this time-travel) the way a water-bug skates on water — I touched the sentence with my eyes, and it held the weight of my eyes so lightly, as if I was hovering over a depth into which I could not sink, did not know if I wanted to sink. So I read the sentence again and again and again, apparently learning to swim (or trying to drown). Here is what Wilde wrote:
Kierkegaard said: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." The question Wilde's sentence seems to warrant is this: What is the difference between understanding and living? Forwards and backwards, like East and West, is a convenient dichotomy given the globe and where upon it we tend to wake and walk and dig. But what does light do at the South Pole? Why is it so difficult to sit still? What does the body really need? Millennium after millennium, are we getting any better at living? At dying?
I am very near the spinal crest of the Sierra Nevada, not 1,000 feet up from a very large lake, and it snowed last night, and it's October the 2nd of the year 2016, and the year 2016 is two thousand sixteen revolutions of this blue-green sphere around a drastically larger yellow-orange sphere since... when? Since a human who (according to Wilde):
This has to do with standing "in symbolic relations to the art and culture of [one's] age," an uprightness which Wilde suggests we all possess, innately, because we all suffer. And of course Wilde is far from the only — or most eloquent — human being to see in this suffering "that love was the first secret of the world for which the wise men had been looking, and that it was only through love that one could approach either the heart of the leper or the feet of God."
We are all capable of radical inclusivity. How does one live with an open wound for a heart?
May our ears become shells and our eyes become tree rings. Yours in the autumn air,