Sunday, June 15, 2008

My neck cut free from the millstone of unused lore

My neck cut free from the millstone of unused lore,
A head floating far far above the ocean floor.

Adventure, event, avenir. A first coming
Of the never-ending quest forever in store.

Interdimensional many-tentacled beasts
Fill the mere outermost surface of so much more.

The bottom feeder’s facts have a tasteless flavor,
Nutrients minus the sweet life that food is for.

Two ways out of the matrix of mentality:
Get too big for the net or so small it’s a door.

Madness: the last resort of not, not the result
Of seeing that . . . that face of the thing you abhor.

Nicola takes an oath: to breathe words in desire
For direct knowledge of what he cannot ignore.

3 comments:

Tami Smiles, BKLYN said...

A millstone (had to look that up) is sinking you down to the ocean floor right? So you cut your neck to free yourself? That's like suicide right? Why not just cut the rope and float to the surface? I would so be there to pick you up in a rubber life raft. I could work on my tan while I wait for you, ;) Wait, is this a cry for help? Like Kurt Cobain or something? He was a poet too. I love Nirvana. Do you need intervention, Nicky?

Anonymous said...

Our protagonist--in this instance Prof. Masciandaro, although equally likely an everyman--is trapped at the bottom of a metaphorical ocean.

His corpus is moored to the seafloor; his head--I.e., his essence; spirit; being--to that very body.

To liberate himself from this predicament, to ensure that he rescues himself from the prospect of drowning in a sea of “tedium and ‘unused lore‘”--that is, “the matrix of mentality”--he decapitates himself (this itself is perhaps a send-up to “Gawain and the Green Knight).

It’s interesting to note that the body proper is not what actually weighs down Nicola; rather, the “body of unused lore” contained in his head prompts his sinking into (him)self (into “the ocean). Nevertheless, once he is set free--occurring presumably at the end of stanza one, and continuing into the second stanza--Nicola/everyman gulps down a metaphorical breath of fresh air: “Adventure, event, avenir. A first coming Of the never-ending quest forever in store.” The alliteration of these lines connotes a rise to the surface--a breaching of one plane, and the entering into of another: “ . . .the mere outermost surface of so much more.” Here he may breath again.

As noted, this is accomplished via Nicola/everyman’s “suicide.” If we are to assume that there is a component of liberation inherent to suicide--namely, a “liberation” consisting of a setting-free from the strictures of that existence which is the human condition--then this action--Nicola’s auto-decapitation--may in fact be a self-annihilation. However, one which Nietzsche and existentialists everywhere would approve: a destruction of self which is a requisite to renewal, growth, etc.

Those “bottom feeders,” who shirk “the face of the thing” they abhor--perhaps their very own essence--, prefer to exist in an ontology of fact’s devoid of flavor. Their language, tepid and lacking “in desire for direct knowledge of what” we cannot ignore, chokes them--starves their lungs and heart and self of oxygen/words. They live a not-living.

--J.A. Laino

Nicola Masciandaro said...

I don't need intervention, I need explication! Which is another kind of intervention I suppose. Cf. acacdemic papers which start off with "my intervention will . . ." which always seems to me like a way of emphasizing/fantasizing that one's words are occupying the world like a body, something their hearer must deal with or find a longer way around.

Anyway, thank you JAL for this very cool and very solid commentary which (along with the subversive marginalia of a tanned Mr/Ms Smiles pulling Nicky's severed head into the life raft) gives new dimension to my imagination of this poem.