Reading lately: Matrix of Modernism, Sanford Schwartz. Interesting stuff on early 20th-cent. philosophy. Led me to start reading Auerbach's Mimesis again last night. & what a great read that is. How different cultures picture experience & reality in narrative. Contrast between Biblical & Homeric epic - fascinating stuff ("scar of Ulysses"). "The concept of God held by the Jews is less a cause than a symptom of their manner of comprehending & representing things."
Got me thinking about writing & landscape. The hidden, furtive, shamanistic Yahweh, swathed in darkness & obscurity, background - a way that Hebrews responded to the established Middle Eastern powers all around them. Monotheism & the desert. A people so at one with their extremely simple, barren landscape that they are able to leave almost everything unspoken; implied depths. (ie. in Sacred Discontent, another great book.) The Greeks, in contrast - everything clean, out front, oversimplified. The response of close-knit mountain-steppe tribes scattered into a new terrain (always mapping out where everybody is - keeping everything in sight)? Confident, aristocratic power, masking a hidden fear of dislocation, being lost.
Which in turn got me thinking about Stubborn Grew, Forth of July. Melville influence at time of writing. Sense that the understory, Ur-story of this continent is the encounter with what is alien (wilderness, native tribes). Bluejay the shaman re-designs epic pattern. Poem repeatedly goes "into the interior" in various ways. Dislocating stories & vocabularies by way of blending, syncretism. Ojibwa undercurrent, Chippewa songs. Center of poem titled "Ghost Dance". Framing orphic pattern by way of Northwest Coast Bluejay stories.
Things are old, & poetry is a spiritual force.