Senses of Self

Image: 'The Tragedy of 'Dona Ajada' - I - The Headdress,' by José de Almada Negreiros

[Image: “The Tragedy of ‘Dona Ajada’ – I – The Headdress,” by José de Almada Negreiros. This is the first of six lantern slides produced by Almada for a 1929 collaborative multi-media theater piece, with music by Salvador Bacarisse and poems by Manuel Abril. This work was performed only once, on November 29 of that year; according to a recent monograph accompanying an exhibit of Almada’s work at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal, Dona Ajada was a “free adaptation of Lope de Vega’s poem La Gatomaquia (1634), the satire of a classic epic whose principal characters were cats… it seems that Abril and Almada had replaced [the feline female protagonist] for a witch, Dona Ajada, while slightly altering the 17th century plot.” All six slides can be viewed, needless to say, at Flickr as well as other locations around the Web.]

From whiskey river:

We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others.
An interpreted world is not a home.
Part of the terror is to take back our own listening.
To use our own voice.
To see our own light.

(Hildegard of Bingen [source])


…if we watch ourselves we are many people. All day long our field of consciousness is entered by autonomous complexes. If you can recognize them as such, you can steer them, either to keep them out of your system, or by going along with it and knowingly putting it aside again. But if you are possessed, so to speak, it means the complexes enter you involuntary and you act them out involuntary.

(Marie-Louise von Franz [source: see below])


I’ve Been Known

to spread it on thick to shoot off my mouth to get it off my chest
to tell him where
to get off
to stay put to face the music to cut a shine to go under to sell
myself short to play
myself down
to paint the town to fork over to shell out to shoot up to pull a
fast one to go haywire
to take a shine to
to be stuck on to glam it up to vamp it up to get her one better to
eat a little higher
on the hog
to win out to get away with to go to the spot to make a stake to
make a stand to
stand for something to stand up for
to snow under to slip up to go for it to take a stab at it to try out
to go places to play
up to get back at
to size up to stand off to slop over to be solid with to lose my
shirt to get myself off
to get myself off the hook

(Denise Duhamel [source])

Not from whiskey river:

Gravelly Run

I don’t know somehow it seems sufficient
to see and hear whatever coming and going is,
losing the self to the victory
of stones and trees,
of bending sandpit lakes, crescent
round groves of dwarf pine:

for it is not so much to know the self
as to know it as it is known
by galaxy and cedar cone,
as if birth had never found it
and death could never end it:

the swamp’s slow water comes
down Gravelly Run fanning the long
stone-held algal
hair and narrowing roils between
the shoulders of the highway bridge:

holly grows on the banks in the woods there,
and the cedars’ gothic-clustered
spires could make
green religion in winter bones:

so I look and reflect, but the air’s glass
jail seals each thing in its entity:

no use to make any philosophies here:
I see no
god in the holly, hear no song from
the snowbroken weeds: Hegel is not the winter
yellow in the pines: the sunlight has never
heard of trees: surrendered self among
unwelcoming forms: stranger,
hoist your burdens, get on down the road.

(A. R. Ammons [source])


People don’t know how to describe me usually, so what they do is say, “Poet, essayist and naturalist,” because they’re not sure what I am.

[Interviewer: What do you say?]

I don’t know what to say either. If I say, “Author” then people follow it up with a question. “Well, what kinds of things do you write?” Well, I write poetry and non-fiction. I write about nature and human nature. And most often about that twilight zone where the two meet and have something they can teach each other. I like that best. When I was writing A Slender Thread I was writing about the dark night of the soul — and squirrels, but that was incidental. But when I was writing about squirrels and nature I was writing about the context in which human beings fit. Because we share instincts and emotions with the rest of the natural world. And part of the predicament that we find ourselves in — existentially — is this tragic attempt that we’re making to separate ourselves from nature. To exile ourselves from nature. Which is biologically impossible. And yet we pretend that we can do it, as if nature didn’t include us somehow. But I also see nature as including everything that is made. The technological wilderness of cities. I started out as a nature poet, I’m still a nature writer. Nature includes everything.

(Diane Ackerman [source])


Note: I was unable to find a printed source for the quotation by Marie-Louise von Franz. It seems, however, to have originated with the brief interview below — about which I know nothing, other than that Marie-Louise von Franz is indeed the woman shown here. This video (from a public Facebook page dedicated to her and her work) is probably an excerpt from one of the many full-length talks and interviews featuring her on YouTube — and sorry, but I was not about to watch them all to pin it down further. Ha.

(Note: when the video begins playing, by default the sound is turned OFF. Click the little speaker icon at bottom right to adjust the volume.)

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