Woke up around 2 a.m. last night, was thinking about some comments in the Vico book (by Mazzotta), having to do with memory. Mazzotta writes something about the nature of memory, as the sign of a break or fracture between present & past. Memory registers the separation or distance between them.
This seems fairly obvious, but it got me thinking about my poetry ("memory, mother of the muses"), and about memory and space.
It might have something to do with having lived my adult life half a continent away from where I grew up. My sense of memory is always connected with distance in space as well as time.
I think about Proust's (heroic & mock-heroic) rendering of memory. Not that I'm a Proust expert, but I have the idea that with Proust, the action of memory is a kind of bridging & retrieval, an absorption in a past state, which sort of blossoms on its own.
My own sense of memory's action feels more like a distancing : as if one were closing one's eyes & going up in a balloon, or gaining some kind of bird's eye view of oneself, from far away, in a landscape or vast context (of time/space).
This is all rather vague, & maybe I should try to work up an essay or something. But as these notions were occurring to me last night, I also thought of Jonathan's comment of 11/26 :
"So much of reading poetry--and writing it--is ruminative and fragmented. An anxious, frustrating searching through books and magazines. The attention flags. There is not that unitary 6-hour experience of reading a novel, or the novelist's feeling of writing through a certain portion of the narrative."
I'm not sure what he means by "ruminative" here. But I understand the sense of a kind of jumpy or fragmented response to short poems & etc.
& I'm hoping that my own poetry somewhat works against or counters that kind of experience. I mean that these books & sequences of mine aim for a more sustained impression - of vastness - space & memory.
The first (& one of the only) reviews my poetry has received, was in a Brown U. student newspaper, written by an undergrad about my 1st book, Stone. I don't have it in front of me (this was almost 30 yrs ago), but she started it out with something like : "Henry Gould takes his time. He waits until the poem is ready." What she meant, I think, was that I composed slowly & quietly; the poems are sort of calm, without flash, bells & whistles.
I still like those little comments very much, & I think they relate to what I've tried to do.
[p.s. Vico himself might demur from such an individualistic notion of memory. For him memory & history & anthropology are all combined somehow.]