Monday, October 24, 2011

Oct, 17 Hoagland, Bly, Tranströmer, Rilke and Bilgere, "Jane"

Tony Hoagland: Please Don’t
Tomas Tranströmer : Elegy
Rainer Maria Rilke: excerpt from 4th Elegy

So, what does a brilliant 20th century American in his late 50's, understanding the pitfalls of soul-killing aspects of America have to say about the 85 year old Bly?
It depends which part of Bly's career we look at -- and also the change in our country in the last 50 years. To summarize Hoagland's article on Robert Bly in the Sept/Oct. issue of APR, "the US government is involved in multiple conflicts; citizens are more economically polarized and manipulatedby ever more sophisticated, pervasive forces of media and consumerism. "Everywhere one looks, one sees human beings with heads down, focused on handheld devices, phones and computers. Thanks to technology, awareness is more far-reaching, yet more narrow than ever. It is richer in potential and yet ever more degraded in practice. As Rilke would say, we reach for everything and grasp nothing. " (Tony Hoagland on Bly, p. 48)

How refreshing then to read Hoagland's "Please Don't -- and the fresh diction of words like "swobtoggle" all "dizzy / Gillespie" as he describes our illusions of grandeur, which like flowers, grass, remain dreams of significance...
It is complex being human -- and although conditions may have changed, the problems remain.

Elegy reminds us -- loss is everywhere -- but deep in us Joy remains -- "balanced within, like a gyroscope". Elegy gives us room for celebrate "music's voiceless half" -- and just like Bilgere's Jane, headed for a "facility" -- as if a storage place for the aging can be made "facile" or covered up by a different name.

Whether addressing lament, by saying it needs to be embraced by the realm of Praise,
the bottom line, whatever time period is that part of our duty as humans is to celebrate Joy as it comes, to prepare us for our eventual death.
Whether the tone be tongue-in-cheek, or somber, upbeat or pessimistic, the theme bears out the complexity of what it is to be human.

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