INDEPENDENCE DAY | EPHEMERA | DEMOCRACY
A week ago I was fortunate enough to carve out some time to print a hastily set broadside for Jow Lindsay and Posie Rider just hours before they read at Rust Belt Books here in Buffalo on June 25th. Media announced the death of Michael Jackson earlier that evening. No full moon but somehow all the shithouse wild ones holed up in this crippled city seemed to find their way to Allen Street that night. Strange times all around.
Given the mercenary character of the broadside I was only able to run off a small handful of them and gave all but one to Lindsay and Rider. The poem — drawn from an ongoing collaborative series between the two — frames "the stomach for you" as "a liquid / as though democracy / is a caryatid kidney." Democracy as a caryatid kidney and also the freedom to: a) vote in a CNN Situation Room viewers' poll; b) bury your view in blog comment boxes at the New York Times; c) choose between Pepsi and loganberry pop at Jim's Steakout on the corner of Elmwood and Allen.
(Loganberry: hybrid developed through the unholy union of the European red raspberry and the American blackberry. Loganberry pop: our kidneys filter this highfructose corn syrup slop and are neither strengthened nor destroyed by it.)
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died just a few hours apart on Independence Day, 1826. Whitman was then five years old.
Post-Independence Jefferson and Adams discussed the design of the Great Seal of the US. In a letter to Adams, Jefferson — an avid Anglo-Saxonist that angled to situate the study of Anglo-Saxon as a staple of mandatory education — considered including an image of Hengst and Horsa on the reverse side of the seal, confident these Saxon warrior-politicos embodied "the form of government we have assumed" (Cf. Allen Frantzen, Desire for Origins). In Bede's Ecclesiastical History, a text especially important to Jefferson, we find Hengst and Horsa were invited to post-Roman Britain by Vortigern to aid in defending the region against invaders from the north. Accepting the invitation, Hengst and Horsa used the occasion to undermine Vortigern's trust, conquer Britain and occupy the region indefinately.
Today the reverse side of the seal features the totalizing gaze of the Eye of Providence radiating outward and is accompnaied by a quote from the Aeneid: "Novus Ordo Seclorum." The scope of the ambition embedded in the phrase is global.
I recall a Dorn poem titled "Song Called Thomas Jefferson" but can't seem to find it at the moment.
Tocqueville: "Not only does democracy make each man forget his ancestors, but it hides his descendents and separates his contemporaries from him; it throws him back upon himself alone and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart."
Before the Rust Belt reading Lindsay gave me a copy of Francis Crot's Xena: Warrior Princess (Critical Documents 2008):
Xena is a mighty warrior, everyone knows that. She can wound her enemy in the belly without damaging his skin. She is a master strategian. She once commanded an army of insects in a victory over an amry of people, though the insects were two to one outnumbered. She can make the kind of mistakes nobody makes nice nice. Xena is a skilled sea woman. She learned to sail and fish from a corsair admiral, whose beard changed length with the tides and sometimes rushed and hissed with breakers. He tutored Xena's heart to swim like a fish through her body, so that her enemies never know where to pierce her. Xena is an unsurpassed tumbler. She can spring up the side of a mountain which crumbled to dust centuries ago or climb up a flock of birds or bats or the barks of a pack of dogs. Xena was incensed and had no plans to tire.
No secret: Francis Crot = Jow Lindsay. Last year's Veer Off anthology includes Crot's curiously titled "PRESSURE IN CHESHIRE, or TOWARDS A TRAGEDY OF BEYONCE KNOWLES, a discovery of the late and bloody treason in Cheshire, including a true detection obv. of the doings of Arthur House, unfolding certain diverse speeches with his conspirators in the canting tongue of gypsies, beggars, thieves, cheats &c, useful for all sorts of people, especially immigrants, to secure their money and preserve their lives, together with the names of those notables that should have been slain, and also including a tragic brief of the life, dignites, benefactions, principal actions, sufferings and deaths of the Pooja Ali and Paul Litle-Kiev, lately of Chester, faithfully recorded by F.C. and illustrated and C.C.C.L. of Edinburgh this year; to which is added, A NOTE ON THE CONDITIONAL, or the institution, ceremonies and laws of conditional aid, digested into one body by Jow Lindsay; and also OBSERVATIONS ON SUBTERRANEAN FIRES by Sir Thomas Pope Blount, Baronet, salted with the wit of Harvey Gabriel et al.; printed by Stephen Mooney et al. of Veer Books in London, in the Summertime of 2008."
My landlord tells me — just now — the Seneca Casino at Niagara Falls is packed today.