Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Thursday, May 07, 2009


The Art of the Fugue

If all the world except the two of us
lying in this bed were suddenly to disappear --

and it did --

then the power of our suddenly unfettered

(Look at us! We are the center of
creation, our love the seed
crystal, in thunder our bodies
cracking out "Let there be light! Planets!
Creatures!"--eyes seeing in eyes

(or only the idea of eyes, all
that remains of us until we
put back the rest)

what we have made, that it is good, and
there was evening and there was morning, the
next day, lying late, lolling in the vast
smiling space we have made, making
leisurely additions (the bed, sheets,
wallpaper, a ghostly shaft of sunlight,
bird whistles, cluttery airplane noise,
the dog's tongue hot on my cheek) to our dream,
knowing a world that once seemed to be
disappeared last night, but that by the time

(let there be time
(again?)) --

by the time we leave the room
we have made, the suddenly unfettered
fecundity of our dreams

(and who can say if anything
has changed, since we, both makers
and seers, are changed

(though it seems
we've been this forever),

making and seeing the old
newly when we put it back?)

will have put it all back)

would put it all back.

Notes: I've had this experience, for example, lying in bed with someone, looking at one another, having everything but the other person's eyes vanish, having her perceive that same vanishment, having the world reappear, having it feel as though we were putting it back, having present time thereafter seem (for a time) a continual instant re-creation, in-the-beginning being always now.

The form of the poem is a fuguing of "If all the world..." and the fact of it happening, subjunctive (if) and declarative (and it did). This is, among other things, my attempt to convey the stuttery quality time takes on when one is half in it and half outside time. I get that feeling of being exterior to time when I listen closely to a complex Bach fugue and try to track all the melodies at once and, suddenly, am just there, containing them all. I've had a similar experience (though more spatial than temporal) when, looking at trees or grass, I let myself become aware of all the tiny motions that fill my visual field, all the breeze-twitched leaves and grass blades, and at some point I seem to overflow my visual field and to contain my entire body inside a much larger space that I fill up. Once, for a very long instant, I became the entire sky.

[I mean this literally. I experienced it with at least as much reality as ever I've experienced being a body named Dean Blehert.]

I've written elsewhere about time stuttering (now now now) and compared it to old movies where the heroine is tied to the train tracks or to the path of a rotary saw, and we see the train coming, the heroine screaming, the hero galloping, then the train coming again, but it seems to have lost ground and be coming over the same space again. That has happened to me with time: I've seen it stumble, falter,go back slightly and repeat. Or so it seemed, always when I felt on the verge of putting time there myself. Or perhaps of living in my own time and sensing how the agreed-upon time was and was not MY time.

After all, there are many nows. Now you are reading this. Now I am writing this. Are these the same "now." Now two of you are reading this, but for one of you, it "is" 2009, and for the other, it is 2012! Into what incredible tangles we weave time!

The poem assumes (as I do) that mastery of time (which implies prediction) is also mastery of creation, or step towards it. When I can predict something, I am close to understanding it well enough to cause it (create an effect). As a baby, perhaps, not sure yet what this body was or that I owned it, I would lie there, wiggling my feet in the air. I'd observe this, and gradually associate the motions of my feet with specific impulses (intentions) of my own. At first, I'd simply notice I could predict when my foot would move. But at some point I'd take responsibility for that motion, extend myself to own it, to call it my own, and then I'd be able to decide to move or not move that foot.

Similarly, if one pays a very focused attention to what one is looking at, things may begin to vanish and return. One simply observes this at first (perhaps with shock or dismay, perhaps just curiosity), then begins to be able to predict it, then to cause it, at which point one has become, if not a creator, then a co-creator of the physical universe. What PRESUMPTION! Maybe. I'd call it an observation.

By the way, the words "seeing...that it was good, and there was evening, and there was morning" allude to similar phrasing in the Book of Genesis concerning creation.
Well, let there be...an end to this note.

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