Students’ Guide to the Maximus Poems by Page Entry

All of the Following were written by students I set outand reflected their reading of Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems. The entries correlate with page numbers. Individual authors are discernible for each entry. You may also wish to check out individual essays on the entire Maixmus poems under the heading: Students’ Guide to the Complete Maximus Poems. Here students wrote essays on a particular aspect of the work as a whole.

(If you wish to see all of the Entries and all seven of the final Essays in one file, you may go to the Introduction Page and click on the PDF link. The PDF retains the original formatting and contains some illustrations.)

 

Below, you may look at the entries alone. The Entries are in bold face and follow consecutively through the entire text. The author of each appears at the beginning of each entry.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

MELIS ATALAY (Aug 31, 2009 6:48 PM)

here we go.  Gloucestor is important. But must it necessarily be Gloucestor? For Maximus it must be, I suppose. But what about for the rest of us. Personally, I had never heard of Gloucestor before this class began. For me, and others in like situation, is this place a reality? Can it not be to me? Place might be like a container – which was the first image
that came to mind with the line “love is form” (I.1). If love is form, “and cannot be without important substance”, then place may be a form which may hold an important substance, which must be specific to the reader, I infer. I love the image of a bird trying to embark on this mission of creativity to find this form, or “nest”, for his own appropriate sense of
place. I say that the bird is creative because he uses unconventional materials for his nest: “a bone of a fish / of a straw… / of a color / of a bell / of yourself, torn” (I.3). Just as Maximus states his objectives to find – what? … his unique sense of place as a requisite to house his unique “important substance”, or own experience, – the bird uses his
creativity in abstract forms of color and sound and even uses a part of himself, to make a nest so that he may …havent figured that part out yet. form is love, though, continues to beat in my head, so I am thinking that to assert one’s own place necessitates dedication and genuine dedication at that, and with that individuality. These lines, I believe,
relate: “Limits / are what any of us / are inside of” (I.17). I see an emphasis on personal experience and direct interaction, with encouragements to hear, to experience
sound, to move, to smell, etc; “there are only eyes in all heads, to be looked out of “(1.29).
I find the image of the swordsman striking “mu-sick” silly – how could he pierce such nonsense?
How can we “know polis” (I.10) ? “to have the polis in [the] eye” (1.28).
I like the images of I.14. The house does belong to him, not really to anyone, but he feels the need to be creative in trying to fix it, by using paper clips, etc. I am sure this has something to do with “know[ing] polis”. Who is this poem for?
While enjoying the aesthetic, i must admit i am confused by some of the images and the connectedness of the letters, among other and all things in the poem. This anxiety irritable as I tend to want want want to understand it immediately. I appreciate the form. I appreciate how Olson uses an open paranthetical mark, often without a detactable closing
one. This does encourage the reader to forge onward, and think that the unanswered questions will have answers in the text, eventually.
Did i miss the mark? Welll, now to do my economics homework, grrrr.

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

Ian Mintz – IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Aug 31, 2009 8:19 PM) 

Before I begin my response to the assigned poetry, I think it is appropriate to examine the derivation, at least minimally, of “Maximus.” “Maxi-,” according to the OED, forms “nouns denoting things which are very long or large of their kind.” “Maximus,” then, alludes not only to Maximus of Tyre, but to the prodigious body of text, The Maximus Poems, as a large object. After all, the poetry, ideally, is printed on very large leaves. “Maximus” also names a voyage
of incredible scope, particularly in the speaker’s awareness of history, with his mention of the “Four Winds,” the Anemoi in Greek mythology, as one of the many examples (Charles Olson 23). What I find especially interesting is that the epic consists of many particulars—of body parts—that form one body of text. For example, the very specific and seemingly insignificant mention of the “lad from the Fort / who recently bought the small white house on Lower Middle” (11). Particulars such as this one “in the end, are / the sum” (5). Indeed, the
particulars both come from and form the sum: we are all “of a bone of a fish / of a straw, or will / of a color” (7). We are, put differently, all derived from something—everything—else. Particular individuals, as members of humanity, as products of human history and as beings of the Earth and earth, are part of a worldwide consortium. We are all, as a
group, Maximus. We are individuals in an individual whole; we are parts of a oneness.
One can also become aware of particulars through individual words and conflation in The Maximus Poems. Maximus uses a line break between “make you” and “slave,” which reveals clearly that “slave,” depending on its context, can be read as a verb or a noun. “Schooner” is also a sailing vessel or a beer glass (6). Finally, when “suddenly, he turned to a Gloucesterman, a big one, / berthed alongside this queer one, and said: / ‘I’ll own her, one
day,'” Maximus conflates ships and people (11). “Slave,” “schooner” and other words refer to all of their meanings, but readers often choose particular definitions. In this way, the particular definitions are parts of a greater whole or, in other words, a variety of definitions. The same idea could be applied to all language, which would, perhaps, prove language
ultimately arbitrary because one always selects meaning.

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Sep 4, 2009 5:19 PM) 

The tradition of tonal western instrumental music, otherwise known as ‘classical music’ to the less particular tastes of the general public, has centered itself (until very recently) around a musical form known as the Sonata form.  The sonata form can be categorized
by the appearance of 3 formal elements: an exposition that establishes the home key, a development that explores distant or remote tonal areas, followed by a recapitulation that reestablishes the home key.  In short, the sonata form, popularized mainly by male
composers, outlines a narrative concurrent in many other forms of story telling — that of the male sexual experience; stasis, tension, and release.
Olson uses a similar latent sexuality in the beginning letters of his Maximus poems.  Sure, Olson too needs to establish a home ‘key’ from which his journey may depart.  However, the sexual imagery within the opening lines of this work connote not a sense of
brooding tension, but rather focuses on the integral reproduction that necessitates, in certain respects, the need to establish a home to even bother returning to in the first place.
I feel Olson’s speaker Maximus best establishes home as a sexual (and undoubtedly physical) center most clear at the end of letter one: “in! in! the bow-sprit, bird, the beak/in, the bend is, in, goes in, the form/that which you make[…] can, right now hereinafter erect, the mast, the mast, the tender/ mast!”  The clear phallic and (for lack of a better descriptor) forward or outward imagery is countered by the concluding physicality and weight of “The nest” Maximus says, “flashing more than a wing… than anything other than that which you carry.”  The nest, for one is considerably more maternal than the “bow-sprit” or the “tender mast,”
yet the speaker clearly values it more than something that can be carried – associating meaning with the nomadic (and generally patriarchal) tribes of old.  Olson ends the first letter with an oppositional unity of one of two trajectories in life; the innate desire to
travel and see the world, countered with the more latent and later developed domesticity—male, and female. (all quotes taken from page 8)

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

 BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 6, 2009 9:22 PM) 

The Maximus Poems
Reading Response 1 pg 5-29
“I, Maximus of Gloucester, to You Off-shore, by islands hidden in the blood
jewels & miracles, I, Maximus,
a metal hot from boiling water, tell you
what is a lance, who obeys the figures of
the present dance”
Immediately Olson establishes the character of the narrator as one of fortitude who is going to actively occupy the next
635 pages.  However, despite his formidable persona that matches his Grecian name, this stanza is subtly ambiguous,
allowing for multiple interpretations of what this Maximus is setting out to do.  The opening line is one of command as it
begins with “I,” but it ends with “You,” and particularly a capitalized “You,” thus giving the reader the same power as a
proper noun like Maximus.  This line is also almost perfectly balanced, set off by commas and weighted equally on
opposite ends by opposite pronouns.  The only word that throws off the symmetry is “to,” which already alludes to the
poem lacking a definite balance, and a definite answer.
Continuing into the opening stanza, Olson utilizes distinct enjambment: “blood/jewels.”  Separate, these two words have entirely different connotations, living vs unliving, violence vs beauty, etc., but together as a phrase it generally refers to
a jewel mined in an war torn country for the purpose of funding the insurgency.  In this sense, then, Olson is naming an object with a facade of beauty and grandeur, highly sought after, but one that is dirty and awful underneath the facade.
This introduces Olson’s theme of things lacking substance and thus being false that he often touches upon in regards to love.  By coupling “blood jewels” with “miracles,” Olson engenders an eerie environment, but also one that encompasses the entire spectrum of human experience, from the horrifying to the awe-inspiring. Maximus then compares himself to a “metal hot from boiling water,” which initially establishes him as an element able to scald and brand, something than will leave a mark on the reader.  However, a hot metal is also highly moldable and therefore Maximus is subject to being shaped by the poem as well.  This metaphor, then, continues upon the opening line that sets up the mutually equal relationship between reader and poet.  Finally, by referring to “the present dance,”
Olson literalizes the movement that will occur between reader and poet throughout the poem.

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 7, 2009 11:54 AM) 
It may be because this is the beginning of the epic, but Maximus seems to concentrate primarily on positive aspects—i.e., aspects concerning what is presently true about the world, specifically what is true about his world. He provides the background that is necessary for the reader’s understanding of whatever it is he is about to dive into. With
constant allusions to his “city!” and the body of water that lies before him, he invites us to travel forward with him (5). Having read neither about Charles Olson nor his Maximus poems, I am not certain what this journey will entail, but I feel confident that it will reveal more about Maximus’s ties to Gloucester—assuming these ties transcend mere
geographical location. And further, I hope that the poems will help to illuminate the universal (or perhaps personal) connections between the self and the self’s origins—origins both of geography and more importantly, of body/mind. As I mentioned earlier, Maximus focuses on the more positive accounts of his life, and he does not delve too
far into the normative aspects, which concern what ought to be. I find that at the beginning of most chapters, I ruminate on what ought to transpire, what the results ought to be; with little attention paid to what is. However, Maximus’s penchant to describe and elaborate on the present conditions, along with some of the past, seems infinitely healthier
and more productive. It provides a better foundation for what actually will come to be—no wishful thinking, only action that will more likely yield results. He speaks of “the lad from the Fort,” who does not lament his lack of ownership or demand he deserves to own the ship, but rather the lad declares, “‘I’ll own her, one day” (11). Such insistence may
demonstrate a misguided need and perhaps even greed, but “the demand / [that] will arouse / some of these men and women” itself only suggests a want for something and the notion that there are voids that can be filled (12). And
whether or not this demand is something more intoxicating and dangerous is something that only the future can say, and I am sure that somewhere in the next 600 pages Olson and Maximus will tell us.

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

Laura (Sep 8, 2009 9:10 AM) 

The Maximus Poems open as a love song for polis.  Through the faintly embodied (in text) presence of a kylix, the unraveling of ‘what is polis’ is projected into the field of the page, in midst of the geography of Gloucester, of the change happening in Gloucester.
This change, the influx of capitalism on the seaside village, presented in the poem as intimate with itself (via Maximus), of its movements of waves, and light, and people, is central to the imagery of the opening movements of the poem and establishes an
immediate tension between voice and objects (hearing and seeing). An immediate call to the action of knowing:

…o my people, where shall you find it, how, where, where shall you listen
when all is become billboards, when all, even silence, is spray-gunned?

when even our bird, my roofs,
cannot be heard

when even you, when even sound itself is neoned in?
[I.2]

“our bird” establishes an immediate relationship between the narrative voice, the residents of Gloucester, and the reader, and warns all are
endanger of losing the ear, or the ability to hear.  “my roofs” suggests the narrative voice is considering it’s own boundaries. Roofs, the
uppermost physical extension of a “house”, are echoed later in the poem:  “…Limits/ are what any of us/ are inside of” [1.17].

The immediate call of the poem is to Listen, and the necessity of listening in the process of making.  Olson elaborates upon the relationship of
hearing and action, in the process of writing, in his “essay”, Projective Verse:

Let me put it badly. The two halves are:
the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE

In the poem, the process of the coming of being of a thing, an object, a home, polis, is revealed in the following lines :

of a bone of a fish

of a straw, or will
of a color, of a bell
of yourself, torn

“of yourself, torn” strikes me here as the tearing of the line, itself [the HEART] in the act of creation, of coming of itself (cue The Secret of the Golden Flower).  What comes of a bone of a fish, straw, will, color, bell — the usefulness in death (fish bone and straw are objects that were
once, physically, alive), intention (will), sight (color), sound/vibration (bell).  That the poem is concerned with “of a … of a … of a …” points
toward Olson’s sense of “objectism” :

“Objectism is the getting rid of the lyrical interference of the individual as ego, of the
‘subject’ and his soul, that peculiar presumption by which western man has interposed himself between what he is as a creature of nature (with
certain instructions to carry out) and those other creations of nature which we may, with no
derogation, call objects. For a man himself is an object, whatever he may take to be his advantages, the more likely to recognize himself as
such the greater his advantages, particularly at that moment that he achieves an humilitas
sufficient to make him of use.”   [I need to find the original source for this quote…qtd. in Stormont: http://www.bigbridge.org/BB14/CraigStormontOnCharlesOlson.pdf%5D

Olson is writing against what he posits as “humanism” and against “tradition” it was believed in during the time he was writing.  To see out of the thing itself is to see out of polis, and the “older polis” that is reflected in the collapsing of geographies and eras within the poem, create the polis of the poem, the place from which the eyes of Maximus project.  The sense of extending outward, of projecting, of radiating outward is a masculine construct.

What is the representation of the female thus far?
In fantasy of ownership/possession (as ship): “I’ll own her, one day!”
As prostitute: “While she stares, out of her painted face…”
“you islands / of men and girls”  Girls ?!?
as goddess, Nike – not a “human” female presence
Helen Stein (tho nothing is made of her as woman)

The narrative voice of the poem seems to be (and is) speaking to men — male poets, painters, philosophers, explorers, fishermen, etc in a sort of homosocial allegiance.

Objectism, Polis, Maleness (in voice (where the “He” meets the reader), in design, and in process, itself) – these are three facts of the text I would like to explore, but/and in keeping with the nature of the text, it is nay impossible to separate them.

Entry 1: Pages 1-29

1 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:08 PM) 

In the first letter Olson is a bird gathering his nest out of particular strands. He starts offshore, so the movement towards shore is simultaneously inwards and outwards. Here he first expresses his two major themes of forwarding outward to everything and the local, the particular. “Art is Local,” says W.C.W. “The temple is not for sale” says Pound.
And then towards the end of this letter he shockingly cries out, “o kill kill kill kill kill/ those/ who advertise you/ out).” I found the audacity of this statement to be somewhat fascist in its cry to cleanse the lands through killing. Butterick notes that it may be a reference to King Lear, who cries out “five or six times” when he bemoans something.
Pejorocracy = “worse-rule,” from Pound’s Pisan Canto LXXIX. Oregon is the new frontier.
In the second letter he extends the circle of his nest out towards the mythos of his environment. He notices and collects the stories of his elder fishermen. He revisits the idea of a nest. Olson obviously aspires to be like “he with muscle as big as his voice, the strength of him/ in that blizzard” can be likened to Olson, the poet, running with all his
muscles and energy into the whiteness of the page. Letter 3 is the tansy letter. The sound and rhythm of the first page of this section strikes me as having qualities of the
Elizabethans, “that old Shakespearean rag.” This kind of music rises in contrast to those “who use words cheap….they play upon their bigotries (upon their fears.” Olson wants them to leave. He admits that “I was not born there [Gloucester], came, as so many of the people came,/ from elsewhere…”  Polis, pelvis means basin: “o tansy city, root
city”. Here Olson calls to extend out of the merely local to the universal local. Olson addresses “you islands/ of men and girls.”
The Songs of Maximus brings a relief from the dense overlapped lines in the first three letters. There is more air here. More space is given around each word; there is less of an argument going on here as in the Letters. “you sing you/
who also/ wants” Olson in his high energetic lectures and poems moved like a song and dance man.
Letter 4 is Olson ripping on Ferrini’s 4 Winds for publishing apparently mediocre writing. He asks him to meet him in the barroom and in a drug store, even a library. But in the end Olson can not meet him anywhere because Ferrini is
too busy being “anywhere/ where there are little magazines/ will publish you.” In sum Ferrini is portrayed as a slut for attention, even if it comes from limited readership.
In this reading I also like how Olson uses proper name of people to describe specific objects. For instance, on page 18, he uses Seth Thomas, the name of an American clock designer that is now a brand but not when Olson was writing, to describe a clock in the kitchen. Or he talks about the Bullfinch doors. Olson is often careful to cite the name, the
specificity, of the particular craftsman of a local living artifact.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

One moment that striked particular interest is the section labeled Tyrian Buisness. The name itself harkens back to classical epic liturgy (the Tyrians after all, were Dido’s people). The first section of this suggests the role reversal of Dido’s rule by examining:

The waist of a lion, For a man to move properly And for a woman, who should move lazily, the weight of breasts […]

This passage suggests that a man’s proper movement, as differentiated from a women’s, could be read as more comparable to a lion, and less lazy. With the Virgilian allusion hanging over it, this might ue a new reading to the mysterious female image (“in the painted face”) that seems to be a strong recurring theme in the poem.

Perhaps a connection could be made between the “painted face’s” implicit connotations of sexual promiscuities with Dido’s dedication and ultimate betrayal. Section 5’s direct transition to a sea journey also parallels the narrative arc of this part of the Aene id, suggesting a sea-faring voyage following the encounters with this incomprehensible female figure.

Response 2-Brittney – BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 6, 2009 11:50 PM)

The Maximus Poems Reading Response 2 pg 30-62 Anti-feminine Discourse in “Tyrian Businesses”

The feminine image throughout the first 40 pages of the The Maximus Poems appears briefly but is never fully defined, particularly because the only “female” mentioned is the wooden representation at the head of the ship. This representation is referred to somewhat negatively when discussing the desire for ownership of the painted figure, but is also inherently positive because the figure guides and leads the ship.

In “Tyrian Businesses,” the feminine image is explored somewhat more fully, or at least the woman is not wooden (physically). The closing line before “Tyrian Businesses” concludes a description of the hands of an artist, Hartley, and a netter, Jake. Women are not referenced in this particular segment, but the concluding line acts as though this is a primary point: “as Hartley’s [fingers]/ refusing woman’s flesh.” This is simply stated as a neutral fact, but then transitions into the perhaps slightly more opinionated Tyrian segment.

Man, or presumably the ideal man, is immediately compared to a lion, a necessity “to move properly,” while the ideal woman “should move lazily” because of the “weight of breasts.” There is nothing directly anti-feminine in these statements, as it is more pointing out physical differences rather than negating physical differences. However, there is still an underlying subtlety of male superiority because of the choice in diction: “move properly” for men and “move

lazily” for women. The subtlety does become more obvious in the 3rd section where a rather negative woman is depicted, simply referred to as “she.” This “she” is said to “crave” abuse and dominance over her (“to be scalped,/and dragged over the ground”) and when she does not receive this dominance, she whores herself out (“she has everybody do it.”). Still this whore insists upon “clean sheets/ each night;” she desires the shroud of purity, later emphasized by the phrases “has to have silk” and “in the white house,” even though it is a facade of purity. The poem continues in the 4th segment, referring to “those who sing ditties, that dead reason/of personality,” again pointing out a pretense of being a good woman, one with a lovely voice, but a voice that can only voice dead reason, or nonsense. She is then described as “the body of a shell, the mind also an apparatus,” an utter falsity.

Olson does seem to be using this woman to further his theory on the need for substance at the core, and though the reference notes mention that Olson was referring to a particular woman, the famous dancer Martha Graham, because it is so vaguely general, it is natural for the reader to presume this is describing women as a sex. Perhaps this is overly analytical, but Olson has tended thus far to employ the female image as the quintessential empty shell, whether a decorative wooden masthead or a painted prostitute.

Entry 2: page 30-62

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 7, 2009 8:47 PM)

For Maximus, “polis is eyes,” i.e., his city-state (Gloucester) is a collection of its inhabitants’ sensory organs and the materials produced using such organs (30). When reading these selections, I had initially taken it to be the case that Maximus discerned a singular importance in vision and man’s eyesight, as he likened them to man’s capabilities. However, in addition to esteeming painters (visual production), he admires other creators, such as the unnamed carpenter and all others who “make things” (35).

In speaking of the necessities of folly and boyhood, he refers to a handful of friends and townspeople who impacted him in one way or another (30). He inquires how such men (and presumably all men) improve themselves and their craft—“how do […] / the eyes [become] / sharp? by gift bah    by love of self? try it” (33). He rules out the impact of hierarchies and politics and settles upon the influence of “only / eyes in all heads” or, rather, the collection of everyone’s simultaneous efforts and contributions to the societies in which they reside.

Maximus may insult Vincent Ferrini, but judging by the number of references to Ferrini alone, clearly this man has made some sort of an impression on Maximus, despite Ferrini’s supposedly petty attachment to literary magazines (29). Maximus admits (and does not seem to criticize) the reality that “every human head” is busy with exactly what each human chooses to invest himself in (32).

On an unrelated note, I want to briefly pay some attention to his recurrent allusions to cracks, both when speaking of love in the last set of poems and now when speaking of the ship’s flaws (7, 36). He characterizes the form of love as “torn” materials assembled intricately together, but his ingredients, including “bone of a fish” and “straw,” depict this formation as somewhat makeshift (7). He explains that this form comes into existence only when the love is born, perhaps only when the collection of raw and assorted materials begins to appear to the lovers as a real union. The tears and cracks of the composition account for the existence itself; they are what characterize it. When speaking of the ship, he deliberates on “[h]ow much the cracks matter” (35). When do cracks become indication of irreparable damage and not simply indication of a fine creation’s layered composition?

Entry 2: page 30-62

MELIS ATALAY (Sep 7, 2009 10:20 PM)

The question of Olson’s political viewpoints was brought up last class, and I think “The Song and Dance of” in this section do answer such questions. Using these lines as evidence, I think that Olson disagrees with much of the political leaders that helped shaped post WWII America. He speaks of “mechandise men, who get to be President after winning, age 12, cereal ad / prizes”, and how “war stooge[s] for the left, all that appretite for thick-necks, and refrigerators, for An-yan / steel” (I.54). Olson may believe that Eisenhower and Truman betrayed liberalism for economic power, and did so by playing up to America’s responsiveness for commerical images. “The race / does not advance, it is only better preserved / Now all lie as Miss Harlow / [as] … waxworks … with shells for eyes” (I.55). America has not, then, succeeded in “winning” WWII, but instead has been duped to keep buying into the idea of America, and have become hollow and lifeless as waxworks with shells for eyes. The images of this section are very haunting. Maximus tells us that the reality of this situation cannot be learned by books, and that he has “had to learn the simplest things last” (I.55, I.52). Again, a recommendation for seeking maxims about life not through traditional booklearning, but instead through a more organic process.

I feel that the idea of ownership is again relevant in this section, and presume it will be throughout the text. The carpenter mentioned in Letter 27, did use to own the land, but he gave that up once “Gloucester…got too proper / and he left” (I.30). Maximus continues to describe the exodus: “This carpenter / must have been the first to see the tansy / take root” (30). The reference to tansy required me to revisit its initial reference, occurring in Letter 3: “Tansy for Gloucester to take the smell / of all owners” (I.9). A few lines down: “Let them…leave Gloucester / in their present shame of, the wondership stolen by, ownership” (I. 9). I believe it to be significant that “tansy” reoccurs right after this declaration. I think that tansy is a distraction, something that gets in the nose of Gloucester’s people, and masks their ability to see the truth. Maximus right after this talks about how he “rolled in [tansy] as a boy / and didn’t know it was / tansy” (I.9). Tansy takes advantage of people’s ignorance and distracts them into ideas of ownership. Indeed the “lad from the Fort”, “look[s] idly” and “suddenly” says “I’ll own…one day”. His proclamation has come without consideration, as if he has been taken over by something, perhaps this something is represented by tansy, that convinces him that he a self-defining need to own. And now, to go back to the carpenter of Letter 7, I want to think about a possibility of why he has decided to leave Gloucester and abandon ownership once his city has become “too proper”. This becoming “too proper” is temporally linked with the occurrence of the first notation of “tansy tak[ing] root”. I think then, that the initial idea of ownership had changed into a new definition, one that this carpenter has become uncomfortable with. These lines are juxtaposed with notions of Puritan settlement, so I think that the carpenter must feel that in the world that is taking form and shape, with Gloucester becoming “proper” and organizing and settled, the idea of owning is akin to prostitution. This is an idea that was sparked into being from last class, regarding the woman with the “painted face”. It is possible that the carpenter feels that the land truly belongs to no one, and at the same time everyone, since every person has imparted a meaning onto the land. With this notion, “owning” a land is to own someone else’s being. I think tansy links with capitalism and the lack of consideration for acting in a certain way, a way that is the norm simply because it is mostly unquestioned. To own, in this sense, is to “destroy localism”, in that it focuses too much on capitalist ideas, and distorts the place’s history and reality (I.47). Indeed, the carpenter’s views coincide with Maximus’s, using the lines “that carpenter is much on my mind: / I think he was the first Maximus” as proof (I.35). Is tansy related to this image: “A man is a necklace strung of his own teeth…He sd: Notice the whiteness, not the odor of the dead night” (I.37)? Is tansy the odor, which is related to the idea of death?

The references to John Winthrop, and those first English inhabitants of Massachusetts also marks this section. I find the first parts of Letter 10 worthy for consideration. Why does he call Salem “Naumkeag”, first? It brings to mind land the injustice of the first settlements, which I guess is a tangible example of why it can be immoral to own land. I find these lines particulary interesting also: “There may be no more names than there are objects / There can be no more verbs than there are actions” (I.36). What if there were more objects than names? Then names would overlap for objects, which is a point that Ian had made in the previous entry. Do these two ideas, the one that Maximus brought up, and the one brought up by Ian, relate?

Entry 2: page 30-62

Laura (Sep 8, 2009 9:18 AM)

Letter 6 opens with Maximus leveling the field, through the concept of polis, “polis is / eyes”. The text argues that everyone has the capacity to see from a place of purity not polluted by ego. Olson states, in The Special View of History, “…POLIS, then, is a filled up thing (in the passive as city the community or body of citizens, not their dwellings, not their houses, not their being as material, but being as a group with will…” Through a etymological study of “polis”, Olson arrives at, “THE FIRE-CLEANSED FULL PLACE OF THE FIRE, THE PURE PLACE ist POLIS…” (Butterick 25). Through the exploration of the word, itself, Olson illuminates the process of seeing that he insists upon as a creative practice.

so few have the polis in their eye

So few need to, to make the many share (to have it, too)

There are no hierarchies, no infinite, no such many as mass, there are only eyes in all heads, to be looked out of [I.28-9]

I offer these lines while thinking of the sense of universal maleness that the Maximus poems exhert (see last entry). Olson presents the concept of Polis as a great equalizer, yet these lines also suggest there are there are a privileged “few” who possess that which he expounds. However, it’s interesting to note the language employed in these lines is gender neutral.

Letter 7 & 8 & 9 present and celebrate the individuals Olson considers, from their own polis, operative: painters Marsden Hartley and Helen Stein, “carpenter” William Stevens, poet Robert Creeley(who had just recently published “In Cold Hell, In Thicket”), Olson’s father, etc. The letters also continues the attack on fellow Gloucester poet, Vincent Ferrini, who Olson challenges to regard his own work with a deeper truth.

The physicality of hands, “(As hands are put to the eyes’ commands” are used to characterize individuals in part 3 of this letter – the narrative connects Hartley’s rough hands with his homosexuality. It’s interesting to note that this is the first reference to homosexuality in the poem [though i might’ve missed something earlier on…], whereas the text has been, thus far, dominantly homosocial.

Letter 9 is full of flowering/flowers, buds, fruits publication, and the pleasures in the moment of spring. poet’s own self-consciousness directly related to writing (and perhaps a reference to Dickinson):

I measure my song, measure the sources of my song, measure me, measure my forces

(And I buzz, as the bee does, who’s missed the plum tree, and gone and got himself caught in my window

And the whirring of whose wings blots out the rattle of my machine)    [I. 44]

There is a sense of the

The appearance of the bee in the final two stanzas suggest the frustration of the narrator’s own desire, and the power desire has to (here, literally) sound-out will/intent/work. “Whirring” seems to be a more wondrous state than the “rattle” of a machine (machine vs. “nature”), but this passage brings the physicality of the bee close to the narrator, merging in the first line “And I buzz” and then separated in the perspective of sight “in my window”. In this letter, and later in “Maximus, to himself” and “The Song and Dance of”, the repetitive images of flowers and blooming suggest a heightened sense of desire, though not a human sexual desire (though I’ll have to consider this longer). Descriptions of geography and ecology often appear as quotations from the past (Columbus) and other places (Greece/Mediterranean).

Maximus states, “The agilities/ they show daily/ who do the world’s/ business/ And who do nature’s/ as I have no sense/ I have done either” [I.52]. This poem is very interesting in its suggestion of the formative experience of Olson’s coming into being as a poet. “…from one man/ the world” [I.52] – does he mean Pound here? Butterick says it’s Creeley… Again, a sort of homosocial allegiance, which seems to have been the norm in counter-culture cold war American poetry.

Laura (Sep 8, 2009 9:32 AM)

unrelated, yet I couldn’t help but draw parallels btwn Olson’s concept of “polis” and Mnouchkine’s approach to group composition in theater. As qtd in the New York Times this summer, during the run of Les Ephmeres:

The approach is decidedly different from the traditional Western notion of the individual artistic vision. “It’s not based on the genius in the wild,” Ms. Mnouchkine said. “It’s based on the quest. We are a group that is chasing theater.”

Entry 2: page 30-62

Ian Mintz – IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Sep 10, 2009 12:36 AM)

I started reading this section a few minutes before the blackout hit, so I decided to read by candlelight. I held one candle over the book and shifted the light down the page. This activity revealed that the act of reading The Maximus Poems was a process of discovering, which can be said of all texts. Also, because poems typically require careful reading and rereading, they often yield meaningful and rewarding discoveries. My point: I became aware of the act(ion) involved reading and of my interaction with The Maximus Poems during the blackout. This is worth mentioning, I think, because Olson was concerned with material and objects.

Olson’s abbreviation caught my attention. In Theory and Design of British Shipbuilding by A. L. Ayre on Google Books, I found that “M” is known as the “transverse metacentre,” and “G”–though perhaps I should’ve known–is gravity (Charles Olson 40). It helps to look at the diagrams in British Shipbuilding. “Sd,” as in “He sd,” is everywhere in The Maximus Poems, but it appears on page 41, so I can talk about it here. When I see Olson’s abbreviations, I think of how many things that “He sd” could mean. Naturally, we say, “He said,” but who says what it is? Even if “said” is on the page, my “said” is different from all others. Even something that appears unequivocal isn’t. True, I touched on the absence of fixed meaning in my last entry, but this brings me to the fylfot. It’s a matter of “who calls” it what it is (44). Unfortunately, something that was associated with luck, universal harmony, dharma (wheel), and other positive and nourishing things is now recognized as a symbol of Nazism (in the U.S., at least).

The “workings of my city / where so much of it / was bred” is also worthy of discussion because of “bred” (45). In my last entry, I talked about The Maximus Poems as a body. The poems are not just text to Maximus, but they are offspring. Humans also breed animals in order to produce breeds that serve certain purposes. It’s a process of refinement, in a way, and maybe that is an aspect of the journey in The Maximus Poems.

Oh, and obviously Nazism changed, or added, to the meaning of the swastika throughout the world. I left that out in my original post.

Entry 2: page 30-62

Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:08 PM)

Letter 6: After he was thrown of the shackles of his association with Ferrini’s magazine and chided the local paper, Olson turns towards his heroic figures. He starts of with his own moment of glory catching three swordfish in the blaze of the sun, not realizing that the marked fishermen wouldn’t usually risk hurting their eyes where the sun shines the brightest of the boat. He moves on to talk about a Shipmate Burke who was a drunk but Olson is able to remember a picturesque moment when he once saw him with his family in a blue suit on Sunday showing them his boat. From Burke Olson moves onto an idealized portrait of Carl Olsen, who’s seen as a fisherman in tune with the world. Then Ezra Pound is discussed, disliking “pick-nicks”. Olson notes the “whole man/ wagging, the swag/ of Pound.” Pound is one of Olson’s father figures. Olson is also continuing Pound’s    tradition of writing a modern epic. Butterick quotes a journal entry Olson wrote to himself in 1945 while reading Cantos XXXI-XLI. “Write as the father to be the father.” Olson wants to overthrow the father like Zeus did Chronos. Yet in the end of the poem after discussing his heroes, Olson comes to the conclusion that: “There are no hierarchies, no infinite, no such many as mass, there are only/ eyes in all heads,/ to be looked out of.”

Letter 7: Connie asks why Olson portrayed Pound in the previous Poem with “a black hat,/ and a brim…/when he wore tennis shoes,/ and held his pants up/ with a rope?” This is a meta-textual moment because Olson is revealing how he is mythologizing ordinary reality into more classic images. “How much the cracks matter.” Olson notes the imperfections of reality are also important. Like Mason Andrews, who lived on the street until he got arrested, or even like Pound in the “Bughouse” these undesirables, these cracks are Olson’s special heroes.

Tyrian Business: “how to dance/ sitting down” Olson uses Webster’s Dictionary for some of his words associations. The poems in this section start out real small and then build into blocks of text, which describe Olson’s personal narrative of being out to sea for three weeks.

Letter 9: Begins with extract from a Letter Olson wrote to Cid Corman asking him to hold Ferrini’s hand. He writes about how pleased he is with Creeley’s production of his book “In Cold Hell, In Thicket.” He compares the book to almonds and a plum. There is something human about holding a beautifully bound book. The end of the poem ends clearly with the image of the bee caught in his window.

Letter 10: Gloucester’s history of houses.

Letter 11: Here we get into John Smith. Olson comes across an actor playing John Smith, yelling “Tragabigzanda”, the name of a Turkish maiden who saved his life. When Olson and whomever he is with hears that name being yelled they get down on their stomachs live Indians and slid forward. Thus Olson puts himself in the perspective of the first Native people as they saw the white people coming. There is some liberal quoting from some of Smith’s writings.

Maximus, to himself: I once memorized this poem and found the projective spacing of his verse highly helpful in giving me a base to visualize the shape of the words in the poem. He sent this poem to Ferrini, perhaps as a sideways apology. Olson shows Ferrini that he is hard on himself, as he was to him. The first line of the poem comes from Heraclitus. The achiote refers to spiciness; it is a seed, which releases a reddish dye. “[F]rom one man/ the world” is probably Robert Creeley who Olson said taught him more than “from any living man.”

The Song and Dance of: Olson dances across language associations like a ballet dancer. We begin with a vague allusion of Navaho Indians perplexing the Germans during WWII simply by speaking their own language across the radios. The mention of the skull found in Jericho, “with shells for eyes” I found interesting. See what Pound says in “Make it New” on “the Mediterranean man” who it able to open his senses more than his fellow man to the north who is busy bearing the weather.

________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Entry 3: Page 63-90

MELIS ATALAY (Sep 8, 2009 2:57 PM)

This section is concerned with discussing how America’s origins have led to its current problems. So much of the discussion of America’s past and origins include images of death and bones. John Hawkin’s father is discussed; Mr. Hawkins has carr[ied] an Indian back to London…and though the fellow die[d] on the voyage, the people believe old William’s story, and release the hostage to him. And stock his ship with goods” (I.63). The Englishmen, who already have this mania to own and posses land and people and power are unphased by this desire’s synchrony with death. Their investment is made, and so this trend of a certain death is accepted and even supported.

This new, walking-dead race of people, exemplified by the waxworks leaders from the past section that I had examined, are again examined in this section: “With the gums gone, the teeth are large. And though the nose is then nothing, the eye-sockets”(I.65). The skeletons that people have become because of commercialism are likely to not escape, for they are not able to acquire any knowledge from direct experienece. Olson emphasizes this in these lines; whereas in the first lines of Maximus volume I center on the idea of expedition, with encourages the reader to smell, and taste, and see with his own eyes, these skeletons are not able to do any of these things. Linking this with what he had talked about it class, this system of dependence on discovery is not working, and something ought to change, which is the new system Olson recommends to bring people back to life, and to see life, and the way their interaction with life links with this idea. Sorry I know my ideas are getting jumbled together; I hope my reader has found some cogency in these seeming ramblings. I guess I am still working out in my head. TOday’s class did jumble my thoughts a bit, but I think it will prove to be beneficial in the longrun of my reading of this poem, if it has not been able to do so today. I think the lines right before “The Twist” do illustrate OLson’s efforts: “On ne doit aux morts nothing else than la verite” (I.85). What these living dead have now resembles nothing of the truth that Olson encourages. We must give the “verite”, the truth to these dead, which assumes that they have not had this truth before, which may deem this lack of truth as causal to their death, or death-like state.

Entry 3: Page 63-90

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 10, 2009 6:16 PM)

Immediately upon reading in Letter 14 “The old charts / are not so wrong / which added Adam / to the world’s directions,” I imagined Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (64). For quick reference, here is the drawing:http://octagonmystic.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/vitruvian-man.jpg. The Vitruvian man was drawn within a square and a circle, so as to depict the geometrically perfect man. This man’s placement within two of the most fundamental objects—especially considering the astronomical revelations presented in class—encapsulates and demonstrates his oneness with the universe, or at least the potential for that unity. Maximus often ascribes certain capacities to all men, but he also makes it clear that not all men choose to exercise these capabilities.

Olson was not likely thinking of the Vitruvian Man when writing Letter 14, but Olson’s mention of Adam “show[ing] any of us / the center of a circle / our fingers / and our toes describe” corresponds perfectly to Da Vinci’s drawing. The Vitruvian man’s belly button is at the center of the circle. Not everyone’s body will fit this model, but our belly buttons can still be considered the center of our beings, as that is from where our nourishment and sustenance was first obtained.

The chart and model of man is held in contrast with the movable man, the man who knows “how to stand in crowds,” the sexualized man concerned with the female form and her “buttocks.” Maximus refers to this man as “another Adam, a nether / man” (65). The understanding of their form and its capacity for movement, Maximus comments, was knowledge summoned after having seen the female form. The idea of man as having a quintessential form was not discarded entirely in the nether men’s wanting to use their bodies, as even these men search for an understanding akin to Euclid’s (65).

Our focus on our bodies may deviate from a pure understanding of our bodies’ relation to the universe, but even our base desires are rooted in the geometry and models of Euclid. That might be the case either because that is the only physical system of appreciation we have or because we ACTUALLY always work in tandem with the universe and its movements.

Entry 3: Page 63-90

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Sep 12, 2009 6:54 PM)

I’ll start with less-interesting detail first: “It goes to show you. It was not the ‘Eppie Sawyer’. It was the ship

‘Putnam'” (71). This is an example of the correspondence between each letter in The Maximus Poems. “Eppie Sawyer” appears on page 11, and on page 71, Maximus corrects his mistake.

Now, I’d like to focus on The Twist: “Or he and I distinguish / between chanting, / and letting the song lie / in the thing itself” (86). What illuminates this part for me is Kant’s “thing in itself,” which “refers to the existent as it exists independently of our knowledge” (Frederich Nietszche Beyond Good and Evil 181). When the song falls, as the tide falls, the song continues its silent tune (Charles Olson 86). In this excerpt, I believe that Maximus refers to a rhythm–a rising and falling–in life that exists independently of our knowledge. Between “chanting,” the silent song persists. It might be a law, and “the whole of it” is explained in a “pin-point”: a flower breaks off and dies, but the anther promises new life with its pollen (89). The “Bridge / where it goes out & in” is another symbol of exchange (89). People come and go–rise and fall–in their traversal of the bridge.

I can’t quite figure out the significance of cakes. Perhaps it is sexual: “the same man had fired a bullet / into her ho- ho” (88). A “ho-ho” is cream-filled, after all. Dobos torte, a famous Hungarian cake, is a “house,” which might contribute to the maternal/sexual quality of cakes in The Twist (88). Cakes come, or rise, into existence for the purpose of eating. This could be a kind of rising and falling–a generation and corruption–involved in the “life cycle” of cakes. Also, the door is “like an oven-door,” which is an obvious reference to the creation of cakes (88). Is this the womb?

Entry 3: Page 63-90

Laura (Sep 14, 2009 9:39 PM)

The stance in the stance (An inquiry into the stance of the text might be informed by Olson’s 6’8″ presence.)

The sense of vulgarity as separating me

after the passage-way of the toilets and the whores

(as that movie-house, Boston, you buy your ticket but you don’t enter, you find yourself in an alley-way

the whole city starlight, not even ceiling

as they used to have, glowing as of stars, by god, pricked out so that, in the bad grotto of the bad scripts, you had the firmament over your head

The fundament still your own [1. 59-60]

stance

1532, “standing place, station,” probably from M.Fr. stance “resting place, harbor,” from It. stanza “stopping place, station,” from V.L. *stantia “place, abode,” from L. stans (gen. stantis), prp. of stare “to stand,” from PIE base *sta- “to stand” (see stet). Sense of “position of the feet” (in golf, etc.) is first recorded 1897; fig. sense of “point of view” is recorded from 1956.

I present this passage to explore stance, in and of itself (as resting place, as harbor), and stance as it is directed (in the case of Olson) away from/out/projectively, toward the event that is the process of ontology (I need to re-read Badiou). The selection presented from Maximus, to Gloucester is marked by the sense of artificiality of a made environment.    “You” as Boston, the city, itself, not showing up for the show it’s already paid for, that is, the representation of itself. Then, Maximus is inside the theater, and the text comments on how there isn’t even a ceiling, as one is known, but a representation of the sky, the stars “pricked out” for an artificial light to shine through– a poor environment for a poor story, with a flat expanse overhead. This, a scene of heightened anxiety, repressed expansion, the scene the poet dreamt himself in.

The final lines of this dream sequence create a juxtaposition of firmament (expansion, stretching, making broad) with fundament (foundation/ land unaltered by humans/ theoretical basis (and, curiously, buttocks)).

This section is curious in it’s seeming enactment of “negative capability” with the voice stating it doesn’t even enter the theater, then, moving into the theater, setting the scene (ceiling) of it, and then moving to the internal “stance” of the speaker. Many places in the text operate in this wavering narrative, though, upon analyzing this passage, the first line appears increasingly relevant to the section. Indeed, “separating me” is exactly what the narrative does.

Within the book as a whole, there is the repetitive sense of a ceiling holding the voice of the speaker, which is a voice of ceaseless striving, of Maximus. One that feels his limits, ceilings, artificial. This sense of largeness of being parallels Olson’s actual physical presence. The next section reflects on Olson’s experiences as a youth, learning to accommodate for his size and stature in his own ithyphallic style.

Throughout the poem, the physical suggestions of stance of the speaker’s own body, where the “me” or “I” is divided/separated/challenged (both self-consciously and not), provides insight into the actual workings of the body in the text. The sense of limitations on the body, of ceilings, boxes, houses, etc., lends insight into the sense of anxiety of the speaker, and perhaps also, his misogyny.

Entry 3: Page 63-90

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Sep 16, 2009 11:38 PM)

One idea that came up in class was regarding Maximus/Olson’s view on religion and god in reference to Letter nineteen. The first part illustrates a kind man (who “inquired/ the baby was, had two cents/ for the weather…”) who approaches the speaker upon realizing he wasn’t acquainted with him (91). “How do you do”s are exchanged upon which Maximus is asked the question that, causes “the whole street, the town, the cities, the nation” to blink: “What church/do you belong to,/may I ask?“ (91). This hyperbolization of the weight of such a question puts tremendous stress both on the speaker’s answer as well insights into Olson’s opinion. Olson also qualifies the description with a comparison to a ”gun [being held at them] Maximus responds with two words “none,/sir.” The enjambment here helps emphasize the weight and space of every word exchanged. Yet in the next stanza Maximus requalifies his response as not needing “ to take a stance/ to a /loaded smile,” finally concedeing that he has

known the face of God.

And turned away,

as He did, his backside (92)

This moves the emphasis in Olson’s response (to the question of religion as a whole as opposed to maximus’ response in the story) from the object of a “church” to the process of “knowing God’s face.” While the man in the street looks for a similar process in the church, Maximus here achieves the end as a means in itself.

Entry 3: Page 63-90

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 17, 2009 6:36 PM)

The Maximus Poems Reading Response 3 pg 63-90

“The Twist” p 86-90 After referencing “the twist,” or the nasturtium, throughout the beginning of the Maximus Poems, Olson directly names a poem “The Twist.” Opening with the twisting of trolley-cars through the streets, what Olson compares to “[his] inland waters,” the poem takes us along the trolley line to his wife and new baby. The poem then builds upon the already established themes of nesting and ownership. He plants flowers for his son “(xenia),” which in ancient Greek culture was the act of welcoming strangers into one’s home with hospitality and often gifts. He emphasizes this Greek value by saying that he is planting the flowers in “his [the child’s] house,” thus playing the hospitable host professing “mi casa e su casa,” but also mentioning the theme of ownership again. He concludes the first portion of the poem with a declaration of his ownership “my neap, my spring-tide, my waters.”

After this declaration, the trolley-cars wind “around the bend… down to the outer-land,” twisting the poem to another perspective, seemingly the perspective of Olson/Maximus as a child with his father, claiming “he and I seeming the only ones who know what we are doing, where we are going.” Olson, looking back on this scene, then describes a physical twist (fylfot) as “those couples did go to, at right angles from us, thus placing him and his father at the center of a fylfot.

The poem twists again to a later date “after she left me,” the she presumably being his wife. His tone remains relatively unchanged, as he discusses the men she may have been cheating on him with “a man in a bowler hat…the same man had fired a bullet into her ho-ho” or “Schwartz, the bookie, whose mother-in-law I’d have gladly gone to bed with,” thus implying an infidelity on his part as well. He then embodies these infidelities in the “St Valentine storm;” a storm also has the swirling shape of the fylfot. Again implying that he is at the center, this time with his wife, Olson puts himself in the eye of the storm, seeing the chaos “the air sea ground the same, tossed,” but remaining as quiet as the snow falling, “as quiet as the blizzard was,” lacking sound just as the white snow lacks color. By remaining in the center/eye of the storm, Olson is living in the middle of and seeing clearly his reality, even if it is being “tossed” and covered by a blizzard.

Entry 3: Page 63-90

3 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:09 PM)

Letter 14: Olson discusses the explorer John Hawkins. We are thrust headlong into the age of colonialism. The Greek explorer Pytheus is mentioned. He was the first explorer to sail to Great Britain. As he went to the north, the “Ultima Thule”, he came upon a sludge where “the water, and the air and the sky/ all to be one…”mass that you could neither walk nor sail on. His description could also be likened to Olson’s verse, with its multiple layers of interpretation. We can view this quote in light of the Blackburn quote in the next letter.

Letter 15: has the Blackburn quote on page 72, “You twist…” I once read Robert Duncan telling of a similar situation between him and Olson. He even uses similar wording from the quote in the poem. This poem deals allot with Usuary, and Pound has his place here. According to Butterick Olson seems to error by depicting Pound as liking soap or silk stocking adds, the quote Butterick gives points to quite the opposite. But the poem brings up the question of how relevant poetry is in the age of Advertisements. Advertisements say things clearly to a large audience. Olson himself worked propaganda for FDR. But Olson rebels against the clarity of commercialism (Pound “with usura the line gets thicker”) by twisting, although he seems to say that this progression of our society is inevitable. “o Po-ets, you/ should getta/ job”

Letter 16: I found this poem as one of the more obtuse ones, harder for me to penetrate and make sense of. Olson goes into Higginson, who he seems to be against, although his exact reasons for disliking him I found hard trying to figure out. He quotes a whole letter by him on one page, followed with “the son of a bitch”. It seems Higgins manipulated something, but what I cannot see what.

On First Looking through Juan de la Cosa’s Eyes: There is an amazing image of men in the barroom drawing map’s in spelt and in beer spilled on the table, in contrast to Cosa’s “mappemunde”. This poem expands outward talking about all the early explorers of Newfoundland and America. We hear about their deaths at sea in search of land. Their voyages can be likened to the poet’s quest for knowledge. The title of this poem harkens back to a Keats line. In the end we have the image of the people of Gloucester throwing flowers in the water for their dead seamen. The last line of the poem, from Voltaire, can be translated as “One owes respect to the living; one owes the dead only the truth.”

The Twist: Here is an excellent poem. He begin with dream imagery, “Trolley- cars/ are my inland waters,” as good example of how Olson’s subconscious works. His wife with the new baby seems like a dream but it could also be real. The diction of this poem is beautiful and if I remember correctly this poem particularly attracted Robert Creeley’s eye. As the title implies this poem is a turn to a new style on Olson’s part. “The Twist” also refers to the twisting from Letter 15.

________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

Entry 4: Page 91-118

MELIS ATALAY (Sep 14, 2009 12:17 PM)

Religion is discussed in this section. What does Maximus mean when he posits that he has “known the face of God. And turned away, turned as he did, his backside” (I.88). I think these lines are not as shocking as they first might seem. The main encouragement by Maximus is for the active member of human society to see the world through his own lense. I think that he demonstrates the way in which religion may be a phenomenon. Many people have blind faith in God, and see it as a mechanism of societal normality, nonchalantly inquiring religious views on the streets in passing. Maximus warns that one must not take a phenomenon, such as religion, as a given. One must investigate. In class, when asked about what we think about our own reliance on religion, it seemed that everyone had different thoughts on it. So, I wonder if we all have a different relationship with God. Perhaps we have all felt that we have experienced God actively, which is what Maximus recommends, yet many people have different views of God. So, then, this must skew our world lens, leading many people to see a “truth” that others might not agree with. So, then is there a truth that extends to being applicable for the whole world? What even is truth? How can we experience truth without slight inklings of doubt. Perhaps there is a universal truth in the honor of attempting to learn the world for oneself. I want to note the reoccuring and curious representations of light in this section. At first, I saw some similarites between Olson and Whitman in these lines, specifically in lines such as “we who throw down hierarchy, who say the history of weeds is a history of man” (I,94), which make me think that one can rely on the certainty of energy transfer and continual movement and recylcing of events, which i think might go along nicely with the image of a flyfot. In Letter 22, however, Maximus contradicts Whitmanian paradox by asserting that “chaos is not our condition” (I.96). I think that instead of these weeds being representational of a supposed universal order, these weeds show that the city becomes an extention of the landscape. I thought it very interesting that a dream/s was featured in this section. This section, like some that have preceded it includes the mix of historically defined certainties, and the continually unstable. He says that “the real is always worth the act of lifting it” (I.92). But a few lines down, it seems that there are times during which he cannot depend upon forces under his control, but instead he must acquiese to the random combinations, like in a game of “dice” (I,92). I think the purpose of this surreal dream sequence is to consider the dynamics of the dreamworld. The unconscious, just as the history of one’s landscape, are instances in which man might feel alienated. Man is alienated because he is a rational and aesthetic man in this contemporary world; the proper world in which one lives does not provide answers for these types of questions. it is a further recommendation by maximus to stretch ones mind i suppose.

Entry 4: Page 91-118

Ian Mintz – IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Sep 14, 2009 4:35 PM)
It’s interesting that Melis also saw a hint of Whitman’s work in Maximus’s lines: “we who throw down hierarchy / who say the history of weeds is a history of man” (Charles Olson 98). Just look at these lines from “Song of Myself”: “Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same” (Whitman 101). (That’s an appropriate line number because that line sums up at least part of “Song of Myself” for me.) For grass, there is no hierarchy; it receives all people as itself–as grass–and nothing else. Also, if one considers, as Whitman says in “Song of Myself,” that grass is “the beautiful uncut hair of graves,” then one can see that it “is a history of man” (102; Olson 98). There is no death, so grass is both the history (the past) and the life (the present) of man.
However, Maximus does say that “all / is how the splendor is worn,” so there is presence, responsibility, and autonomy–not so much history–in an act (88). We are responsible, to some extent at least, and “chaos / is not our condition” (100). What I see in the line, “If man is omnivore,” is the array of possibility and the power to select from that array (100). These lines make the theme of choice in The Maximus Poems clear: “And I wear it / as my blazon / moving / among my particulars, among / my foes” (101). A blazon is a proclamation and a coat of arms; it is a declaration of allegiance and ancestry. Maximus’s blazon moves, however, because it is constantly acting in the moment and choosing “foes” from the array of possibilities (101).
When Maximus says, “And what I write / is stopping the battle,” I see a snapshot of action (101). He tells by acting. He tells by getting the “midst of / the deeds” in order to describe the deeds (101).
Though I realize that “W m Bradford” is “William Bradford,” “w/m” in shipping is “weight and/or measurement” (Dictionary.com). That’s probably meaningless, but I thought I’d mention it.

Entry 4: Page 91-118

Laura (Sep 15, 2009 12:07 AM)
Thoughts on “honor” in the txt…
…The real
is always worth the act of lifting it, treading it
to be clear, to make it
clear (to clothe honor anew
[I.92]
The real, as something to lift, suggests that “the real” presses in on the speaker, is in his way – both physically and metaphorically (cue my post for section 3 on ceilings). The “treading it” is a physical act, a motion, that the embodiment within the texts embarks upon in the exploration of geography/ landscape / historiography of Gloucester / the founding of America / of a mythopoetic stance toward reality, etc..
In this section, the text concerns itself in the discussion of honor. “It” is problematic, or “twists” in the text – the “it” in “to make it” reads as honor, while the “lifting it, treading it” “its” seem to be pointing to another “it” – the way, perhaps, life as lived, which is not, in language as in praxis, separate from honor, but rather, is a field to act within.
In “Maximus, at Tyre and at Boston,” the text, itself, “honors” a mysterious He:
“…Helmet // palette breastplate tassles tuille // shall cover our nakedness, our // perfection. Not // His” [I.94]. Who is this heroic, pure, immortal figure (without need of any of the protection chosen by even the “we” who are valued as ‘in the know’), that the text insists upon? Maximus? Adam? “God”? A more primal man? The text seems to reach toward “His” – toward this embodied ideal purity.
Throughout the text, honor is gendered as female. Before the above passage, which asserts the process by which honor must be clothed, Letter 20 describes the unclothing of woman: “until five years ago,/ when she lost/ her last stitch/ of clothes.” [I.89]. I thought these lines might refer to the atomic bomb (marking the beginning of Olson’s practice of poetry), though the letter was written in 1953, so five years wouldn’t quite fit that guess…
<o:p>“And what I write/ is stopping the battle” [I.97]. Awakening out of the dream-state of the previous section? Stopping the battle, in the sense of Action, of making a form? That text stops the battle, that what is written is undoing “wrongs” or injustice, giving honor to the dead, reviewing of history, which is a sort of therapy for the “I”, from its own internal battle to know.
Sassafras facts that last… – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Sep 17, 2009 12:15 AM)
The passage titled so sassafras on page 113 marks the beginning of the poem’s syntactical and structural breakdown. Here Olson permits a longer line form with uneven breaks. parts run on with an assault of facts and figures that feels more as if phrased as one long thought rather than (in much of the tradition of Pound and much of the poem thus far) musically.
Three choices in particular impact the weight and mass of this opening section. The increased density of numerically inscribed numbers; the appearance of certain names and facts in fully capitalized characters, as well as the mass clutter of content information.
Combined, these efforts produce an effect of mild hysteria inherently conjured within the politics of early American economics. Balanced with the rest of the section, this initial block of text creates a very top-heavy and uncertain mass teetering above the characters (such as Daddy brown nose, and Old man B) who are directly affected by its unwieldiness; all of this teetering precariously over the words “ o bucks/ o city/ hall.” The visual affect alone implies a certain sense of unwieldy confusion and unbalanced practices that reinforce the content there in.

Entry 4: Page 91-118

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 17, 2009 3:23 PM)
In Letter 23, Maximus makes reference to Pindar, an ancient Greek poet, who himself comments that sentimentalized poetry, “poesy,” captures
and misdirects men’s judgment with its so captivating “muthoi” (104). Mythological stories are elaborate in their deliverance and inventive in their characterization, but do they really negatively affect men’s judgment? Are these stories not instructive in their own right? This criticism of muthoi was not entirely intelligible to me until Maximus alluded to Plato’s plausible agreement with this line of thinking—that poesy misguides—but only as testament to the idea that there are better alternative matters for men to deliberate upon.
Plato would allegedly consider “muthos…false” and “[l]ogos…facts” (104). As has been mentioned in class, “logos” can mean “word” or “speech.” But as regarded by philosophers, such as Plato who is specifically referenced in this Letter, “logos” refers to a certain facet of human reasoning. That facet of human reasoning is the one that aims to understand universal intelligence.
Plato was a foremost proponent of universal realism, which very, very fundamentally argues that there are many particular, physical objects in the world that share in universal properties (universal properties are abstract and do not exist in the actual world). For instance, a red chair is an instantiation of the universal redness; the red chair participates in redness. When Plato champions logos over muthos in this section of Letter 23, it is because he agrees with Pindar that men’s judgment is being “stolen away” by the fantastical creatures in Greek mythology when men should look to what is true about the world, strangely enough to what does not actually exist concretely in this world. Particulars (objects in the world) can be manipulated; particulars are nothing without the universals they instantiate. With desperation, Pindar and Plato suggest, at least in this section of the text, that each man would have “a blind heart” if he were to be consumed by isolated instances and not consider the universals—i.e., what the particular actually is.
Maximus includes this in Letter 23 perhaps because it furthers his sentiment that man must not just live off nature and what it provides but man must also cultivate it and create something from it. But in order to produce anything substantive, Maximus, Pindar, and Plato insist that man must somehow become aware of the nature of his surroundings, and only then will he be able to progress, design, and create accordingly.

Entry 4: Page 91-118

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 18, 2009 4:23 PM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 4 pg 91-118 “A Pastoral Letter” pg 91-92
As we already mentioned in class, the pastoral poem is one of Olson’s most straightforward and legible poems we’ve come across thus far, and it states his position (or Maximus’ posistion, rather) on religion. I think, however, that part 2 of the letter, which we didn’t touch on in class, is far more revealing and poignant than part 1. After the man is said to have turned away, he Olson then explains “now it is noon or a cloudy sunday,” a time when most families would be at church. He describes his daughter “naked on the porch” singing, mimicking the call of the bird. Olson places himself, through the bird, in his nest, with his child and on a sunday morning, this is his church. His living in the moment of happiness, listening to nature sing and a child sing back, rather than listening to church hymns, is far more “religious” and real to him.
Another “religious” experience for Olson, is the face. In part 1, he explains that “I have known the face of God. And turned away.” Yet, his daughter “wears her own face as we do not.” Hers is the face of truth and the face Olson turns to rather than away from. This is not a cynical remark though, for though we allegedly wear false faces, he expresses that we only wear a false face “until [emphasis added] we cease to wear the clouds of confusion.” This references part 1, when Olson says the man always “had two cents for the weather,” which presents him as a “confuser” that wears one of these cloudy faces, common to society. Olson reemphasizes the confusion as an aspect of religion, by describing the Sunday (a standard religious day) as “cloudy,” matching the cloudy faces.
Olson concludes the poem with the phrase “is perfection,” which does not include a specific antecedent for what perfection is alluding to. Thus “perfection” could be interpreted to describe his personal manner of spending a Sunday, in comparison to society’s Sunday, which he will not accept.

Entry 4: Page 91-118

4 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:10 PM)
Entry 4:
Letter 19: The first three lines are Webster’s definition of pastoral. We see Olson turning away from the face of God. The diction is simple like the Old Testament, “his backside” probably from Exodus xxiii. 23 says Butterick. gHis pastoral letter is a letter of lyrical quality to the ear, continuing the new tone Olson started with the The Twist.
Letter 20: With the continued theme of the twist, Olson continues to extrapolate on children, bringing a sense of new birth to his out look and writing style. At the beginning of the third part Olson talks about beating his landlord, Stephen Papa, “for the rent.” He talks about how they moved out all their furniture without the landlord knowing, so to avoid paying rent. Olson mentions of “Espresso” in a time when most Americans did not know about this Italian coffee drink. The word on the big page has gigantic mystical qualities. Here Olson confesses his defects, his immorality for the polis. However Olson says that “Yet,/ that of all men if should have been he.” Olson feels that his landlord somehow deserves to be cheated. This is a common mentality of people who lived during the great depression, my grandpa is like that for instance.
Maximus, at Tyre and at Boston: “we who through down hierarchy/ who say the history of weeds/ is the history of man,” is a true statement. Olson shows that you can trace the human species through any kind study on any other symbiotic substances that man has accumulated throughout history. The dandelion, for instance, is not native to the Americas, and the West Indians used to call it White Man’s Weed. “Helmet,” it sounds Olson is dressing up for battle. Towards the end we get a list of Elizabeth Tuttle and some of her famous decedents.
Letter 22: More dream material with Olson eating a polishing cloth. “If man is omnivore,/ and he is, he eats everything/ every so often..” He speaks to his ability to absorb all material and all subject matter. Omnivore relates to amorevore, a coined word referring to a species that eats love. He relates a dream he had of Connie losing her figure, thus losing her perfectness. A stranger named “Goomeranian?!” “And what I write/ is stopping the battle,/ to get down, right in the midst of/ the deeds, to tell” recounts the ancient Celtic tradition when poets from the opposing sides would meet with each other and recount each of their viewpoints, and then they would go down together to the battle field to try to stop the fighting.
Letter 23: He recounts asking his old Harvard history professor questions about Gloucester. He does not tell him it is a poem, afraid he would scare him away. “Muthologos has lost such ground since Pindar.” Logos v. Muthos. Pindar called Muthos “cunning fictions.” Muthos if false, but logos is not truth, but words. Homer used Muthos, he did not care about what is true, but about what is said. Herodotus used the word ‘istorian to mean to find out for your self.
a Plantation a beginning; Maximus, to Gloucester; So Sassafras; History is the Memory of Time

________________________________________________________________________ 

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 5: Page 119-149

MELIS ATALAY (Sep 17, 2009 1:26 AM)

I am very interested in John Smith’s role in this section, and it prompted me to reexamine his role thus far in the poem. He is the signal that “a permanent change had come” of the world he enters, and that world previous to his arrival. He expresses his world using “quantity and precision” (I.122). As we talked about yesterday in class, it is not just a collection of facts that matters; in fact, a collection of facts does not matter. It is the understanding of context and registration of these facts. I think here in this section, John Smith is one that is able to properly register the facts. Later in the section, Maximus laments that “we don’t even earn our labor … we do it all by quantity and machine” (I.125). I think this relates to how people have misinterpreted Smith’s freshness of methods. So then, is he responsible for the emergence of the modern American “patriarchy” (I.125)? What does Maximus think of Smith here? I am pretty confused about that. Later, Maximus refers to “a housekeeping / which old mother Smith started, don’t find out the inert” (I.126). So, is Smith also responsible for the matriarchy that was referenced in I.125? What is the difference of the patriarchy and matriarchy that Smith is responsible for?
We have seen before, in Letter 11 for example, that Maximus admires Smith’s precision of attention: “[Smith] proudly took himself to be, rightly, who sounded [New England’s] bays ran her coast, and wrote down Algonquin so scrupulously” (I.49). Smith is honoring the land with his precision in a way that I think Maximus approves of; it is true geographical discovery. Soon thereafter, we see that “Smith also got shoved aside” (I.49), and commercial manipulation of Smith’s findings have begun. This illustrates one of Maximus’s main points, I think, that a landscape can been seen through many different perspectives depending on one’s motivation and his dedication to the application to honor. It is linked with images of death caused by forces of non-native species being introduced to a new place with motivations linked to commercialism: “small-pox took them all away” (I.54). Smith saw the potentialities of this new space, whereas those who shoved him aside ordered the place in terms other than those of space, ie – material wealth, which requires no genuine connection with the space itself.
I want to consider the declaration: “Smith, too early yet to be understood to be the sign of present” (I.122). This idea that the history must bear immediately on the present is an important one. I think this sentence has many implications, ones that I have not yet thought out at all, but it has to do with Smith’s optimism by using history to look forward. History is definitely relevant with the present.

Entry 5: Page 119-149

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 19, 2009 4:32 PM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 4 pg 119-149
“…boys and girls grow long legged and don’t want to live
in dead ceremonies of white bulls, or surplices of whiteness of the soul’s desire to be blind, in service or in ecstasy…” pg 136
These two stanzas sum up much of Olson’s aforementioned ideals while carrying on his common motifs. The theme of almost a “living death” is the main focus and references phrases in preceding pages of the poem, “the dead weigh heavy upon the living,” and the french translation that concludes On first Looking out through Juan de las Cosa’s Eyes “we don’t owe anything to the dead, nothing by the truth.” This expresses Olson’s desire to cast off the weight of the past and live in the present. He describes the ascension of new youth (“boys and girls grow long legged”) into the
society, but a society still governed by the past, by “dead ceremonies.”
Olson subtly references the twist, by describing these ceremonies as those of “white bulls,” which, as we discussed in class, signify Taurus, the era of Gilgamesh, two twists of the fylfot in the past. The fact that the bulls are white further emphasize death, and how following these dead ceremonies will only lead to the death of the future, as nothing new can be born if society’s focus remains on the dead.
Another theme of whiteness that Olson has touched on before is the whiteness that acts as a facade of purity covering iniquity. In this particular reference, the facade is a “surplice,” the robe of a clergyman. The surplice covers “the soul’s desire to be blind,” which expresses both Olson’s belief about religion and the necessity to see. Religion then could be interpreted as an excuse not to see, but to follow blindly a false sense of purity, covered by an alleged devotion to “service” or religious “ecstasy,” both respectable terms in society. This state of existence contradicts Olson’s fundamental conviction, to live with the eyes wide open in the present moment.

Entry 5: Page 119-149

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 19, 2009 7:52 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 5, Pp. 119 – 149
The lines of the poem that seem most salient to me are the ones that deal with Olson’s project of pinpointing and explaining people’s various trajectories and how these direct our personal growth. As we have seen in the bulk of Volumes I-III, Olson is interested in how we do things—i.e., how we utilize the land, how we react to global and local economies, and most fundamentally, how we are day-to-day. In “Stiffening, in the Master Founders’ Wills,” near the end, he writes of “boys / and girls [growing] / long-legged” (136). His description of the characters themselves is simple, and it makes them seem simple—just boys and girls; much different from how he chronicles the tales of the great men he knew from his youth. We know that they are growing only from mention of their physical developments (their long legs), and from this plain characterization, I was expecting ridicule to follow, akin to his ridicule of Ferrini and his obsession with periodicals.
But rather than criticize, Olson/Maximus uses these basic characters to reveal their untainted perspectives and to reveal how their wants and desires reflect those of even the great historical figures he has thus far chronicled. Boys and girls “don’t want to live / in dead ceremonies / of […] surplices / of whiteness of the soul’s / desire to be blind.” They do not want to participate in meaningless traditions with religious men as nothing more than a means to avoid secular temptation. We know this refusal isn’t just a byproduct of teenage rebellion; it is something more, as these boys and girls are refusing ceremonies of exaggerated “ecstasy” as well. So what is there left for these boys and girls to want?
Apparently, they want to “pick / a private way,” i.e., to figure out exactly what they personally want and need without the aid of ceremonies. They want to go it alone, and ultimately, they have “one desire, / that the soul / be naked / at the end / of time.”
Previously, in Letter 19, Maximus applauds his daughter sitting naked on the porch, applauds her wearing her own face (92). Perhaps this desire for the soul’s nakedness Maximus attributes to boys and girls is similar to the innocence his daughter has as she sits on the porch. In that letter, he champions her as the only one he knows wearing his/her own face. Perhaps then the nakedness is just an understanding and an acceptance of your identity, an acceptance that so far only his daughter has been able to garner. Does Olson offer a solution? How can other more jaded men bear their souls? I don’t know, but I am certain that there is nothing quite as extraordinary as being a child, a child with none of the confusion, that Maximus explains, clouds the rest of our faces.

Entry 5: Page 119-149

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Sep 20, 2009 9:59 PM)
“THE PICTURE,” as distinguished from the first part of The Picture, is a nice, neat version of the story. It reminds me of common teaching methods; it is the summarized—therefore not entirely true, but who says what is true?—version of the events. I can see how it might be necessary to simply list facts in teaching, but it is an undeniably dull method. Though a true story does not exist (an original source’s account is subjective), it might be important to Maximus to know the circumstances (the how) and not just the hard facts that are in “THE PICTURE.” Once he knows the circumstances and the facts, he can pick a side and find himself in that decision.
I wonder what a Cartesian monad is. I know monads from Leibniz, and I think that they are something like atoms. They are, however, immaterial and individual, and they do not need to be small. They are reflections of the universe, which is a quality that I see in atoms. Atoms—at least in the diagrams that I have seen—resemble galaxies, and galaxies fill the universe, so galaxies are, individually, representations of the universe as a whole. This relates to the significance of the flyfot, eddy, corolla, etc. They each represent “the whole of it” in a “pin-point” (Charles Olson 89). In “desperate densenesses,” I see a philosopher’s desire to locate an essential element in the universe that unifies and makes whole. They often seek a hidden “order” that cannot be “washed out in natural / or bubble bath” (132). In this way, philosophers attempt to find an indivisible density. The dull-witted version of “dense” is also interesting to think about in relation to a philosopher’s enterprise.
This is an appropriate illustration of progress: “and Conant’s / house was timbers / in a city’s stable / so few years back / I touched them, when a kid, and didn’t know it, the first ones” (137). It is also an illustration of interdependence and a kind of repetition in the sense that material is recycled. This is particularly funny: “God made right hands / why he didn’t make / another right, instead / made lefts” (133). Finally, this is is a cursory observation: the format of the 2nd Letter on Georges reminds me of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’s format. The left column, though, does not seem to be much of a mock gloss.

Entry 5: Page 119-149

Laura (Sep 21, 2009 10:45 PM)
Response 5 Pp 119-149
Why quintets in “Some Good News”, “Stiffening, in the Master Founders’ Wills” , and “Capt Christopher Levett (of York)”? These poems cycle the disruptive narrative of “history” common to the Maximus Poems    within the stanzas of enjambed lines. But why adherence to quintets, with few deviations, in a prosody more aligned with prose than lyric?
The letter that follows, “1st Letter on Georges”, is taken entirely from The Fisherman’s Memorial and Record Book. This sequence of poems are histories talking to each other with no obvert intrusion of the narrative voice on the narrative itself. In “1st Letter…”
the text reveals its influence:
February night, or August on the Georges the seas
are short, the room’s small. When the moon’s
fullest the tidal currents set fastest [I.136]
This section suggests the association of text with tide—perhaps the previous poems were intended to mimic specific tidal patterns – or waves – all with relative metric sameness. “…the room’s / small.”, mimics, speaks to, and affirms the smallness of form given to text—a text that speaks to tragedies occurring at opposing poles of the calendar year. The construction of these couplets, as with the previous quintets, suggest the “eyes” of the text/sea/being, etc., are within the unfolding of the text itself. That is, there is something happening in the “perspective” of the narrative voice that suggests its eyes are in the field of the text, not looking “down” on “history”, or up through it, but rather, displaying it in a latitudinal gaze – on par with the text itself – no discursive “commentary”.
This perspective is juxtaposed with the cartography embodied in the periplum text (I.145]. To draw a map, to place objects/events, there must
be a sense of perspective – of height or depth—letters pressed down or impressed upward from the site of being. Maps themselves that are literal depth indicators—in numbers as in text. (Was Olson into Wittgenstein?)
“Maximus, to Gloucester, Sunday, July 19th” begs for analysis, so I’ll get into that in my next post. However, I would like to conclude with the fact of the use of couplets in the final poem, “April Today Main Street”.
in front of her here in the store
the street was rife
of its hills, and me going
with its polyconic
character, the slipping of Main
to Vinson’s Cove, now fill…
[I.155]
These couplets embody an antagonist movements between lines – tensions of land(scape) and land itself (change), and the task of making one’s way through it.
Ever the definitive source, Wikipedia describes the making of a polyconic projection: “each parallel is a circular arc of true scale,” which, in ways, speaks to the appearance of these couplets. Couplets also echo the 2 people who founded Gloucester.
These couplets invoke, in the textual antagonisms that exist (at times) in lines of the same couplet, the book’s opening, “the light that does go one way toward the post office, / and quite another way down to Main Street…” (I.5)
The narrative marks tension between the “old world” and the new: the couplets echo the 2 people who founded Gloucester. “how a town/ was created”.
There are no conclusions in this brief exploration of form as an extension of content. (Thank goodness.) Though, “There is evidence / a frame”.    Olson seems to demand as much work of his reader (research) as his text demands of him, and insists upon for all of us. I will conclude with a quote from S. K. Henninger’s Touches of Sweet Harmony that was passed along to me recently, which seems to correlate the workings of the MP:
Reading a poem of this sort, then should not be a discursive experience for the reader. He is not dealing with a continuum of parts placed end to end in seamless sequence, but rather with a series of discrete parts each of which relates directly to the whole. The poem is not designed as a sequence of causes and effects. An item does not rise out of what goes before nor does it cause what follows…Each part is discontinuous with its neighbors, and the arrangement of parts is prescribed by an abstract pattern, a whole to which each part must be referred for its interpretation.

Entry 5: Page 119-149

5 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:10 PM)
Entry 5
The Picture, The Record: Pound said poetry should include History and this is what Olson is doing. On page 122 he lists the provisions of the fourteen men who stayed at Stage Head, the first winter of 1624/5. The list of food and supplies seems reminiscent towards Thoreau’s list of his provisions in Walden Pond. These first men living in the American wilderness had to have something similar to Thoreau’s “self-reliance.” The list of supplies is an examination of the bare means needed to sustain oneself away from the comforts of a city.
Some Good News: More on John Smith. I like the line he uses in this poem, it lets the eye easily flow down the page. On page 128 he says “Smith/changed/everything: he pointed/ out/ Cape Ann//named her/ so it’s stuck,” Smith is the lick the poet, hopefully the poet with be as lucky as Smith was in naming something so that is sticks, and stays in fashion.
(Page 129) “Clotho Lee, the spinner/ the stocking frame/ undid: textile” is a reference to Robert E. Lee. It was the fate of the South to lose because the North had more supplies, i.e. where the textile industry was. The civil war was a war between two different forms of capitalism. The “’trash’,/ industrial fish” on pp 131 is a reference to the quick decrease in fish quality.
Stiffening, in the Master Founder’s Wills: The discussion of Anne Huthinson in this poem lends itself towards speaking up for Women’s Rights. Winthrop in the middle of page 133 walks “through the woods/ on single Algonquin path,” Could this for shadow “the man with the house on his head” in volume IV. The Letter[s] on Georges are taken from direct accounts from Olson’s own interviews with some of the fishermen he knew growing up. Some from around 1947, much earlier material.

________________________________________________________________________ 

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 6: Page 150-165

MELIS ATALAY (Sep 18, 2009 11:10 AM)

I first wanted to consider “muthos” versus “logos”. An important point brought up by Campion is that muthos does include logos, whereas logos excludes muthos; such is some of the appeal for Maximus; using muthos is more democratic, and indeed is not just a registration of facts, like logos is, but also the registration of them and appreciating those facts in context, and seeing those facts providing a narrative of causes. This is how Maximus chooses to present the world, and appreciates others, like John Smith, who do see the world in the same complex manner. Now in class, we looked at different related ideas to muthos, such as mensura, meter, etc. One we did not consider was music, and I do believe that the two are related in Maximus’s sense of the terms. To me, to create music that is self-reflecting necessitates the intensity of attention to self-organization. It necessitates command. I think muthos is similar because, unlike logos, the creator needs to actively engage in the consequences of context. Logos requires no active role of imagination. Can any one go further on this idea of song, and dance, and what those two occurrences have meant throughout the poem? We get the image of dancing while sitting down; what does this mean? An instance of song is 97, and the instance of dancing while sitting down is 39.
Something else that came up in class is the idea the physical objects are also metaphysical. Something that I think relates to this is the naming of an object. Maximus says “There may be no more names than there are objects / There can be no more verbs than there are actions” (40). This means that naming something is a metaphysical process. The namer wants to name a physical object so that the word is equivalent to the thing it names. It requires the namer to take on a relationship with the named object; he must try the named thing on for size, and feel it and try to understand what it means in the context of the world. This makes that named object alive.
I finish Maximus I-III feeling like I understand some of the major points, but still feeling not sure of anything. I feel like I don’t know nearly enough, and am confronted with my own education, and its lack of knowledge of the history of the world. But, if the history is in the present, what does this mean for the reader, and how he should push forth through the next volumes?

Entry 6: Page 150-165

Laura (Sep 22, 2009 1:15 AM)
Flowers / Seas / Fishermen : On “Maximus, to Gloucester, Sunday, July 19”
“Maximus, to Gloucester, Sunday, July 19” marks the convergence of the images, motions, words, and land/seascapes most central to the first three books of The Maximus Poems.
the flowers turn the character of the sea    The sea jumps the fate of the flower    The drowned men are undrowned in the eddies
of the eyes of the flowers opening the sea’s eyes
Here, “The Twist” is echoed, and flowers are given the stature of the moon, which governs tidal patterns. The text seems to seek to alchemically bring back the dead back to life – by stirring the waters and through seeing. (The multiplicity of historic voices in the poems also work in this way.) The poem states because the eyes of the flowers are, the sea’s eyes open, which creates a sense of physical, human duality.
One interpretation of this poem would be the sea is masculinized and the flower, feminized. ”    Yet the sea also represents the “feminine”, and “water” and “sea” aren’t interchangeable in the poem. Sea is water, characterized: water with eyes. “Water” is referred to in its relation to “man”; “sea” is present in myth, in relation to the flower and fishermen. Is the text reflecting an anxiety for “…all fishermen/ who have been lost at sea in a year” [I.154] as lost in love/sex? “Eddies” are where two currents collide, which suggests that this scene, a ritual of
remembrance of lost fisherman, can also be read as sex.
How to critique the engendering of text/landscape when the narrative concerns itself with myth—and jumping from the personal to the abstract and back. What are the implications of the sort of phallocentric fantasies that permeate the text? How are they the product of / or creation of “myth” as Olson studied and practiced. Is this “myth” also “utopian”?
The religious voices that intersperse the poem glorify the role of the fisherman, whose labor is preformed without greed or a sense of duality in working, itself.
And the final couplet, “no difference/ when men come back”….I need to continue thinking on this.

Entry 6: Page 150-165

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 22, 2009 11:39 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 6, Pp. 150-165
I may be incorrect in assuming that the “bad sculpture of a fisherman” from his July 19th Letter is the same fisherman as the one from History is the Memory of Time, but I think it would be useful to equate the two, or to at least consider how the two complement each other. In History Maximus comments that “they should raise a monument / to a fisherman crouched down / behind a hogshead, protecting / his dried fish” (157, 118). This description, coupled with the discussion of capital in the rest of that section, exposes and criticizes man’s overzealous tendencies. Did Gloucester figuratively (and misguidedly) raise a monument to this fisherman? Is this the “bad sculpture” and “bronze idol” later
referenced on July 19th (157-158)?
Maximus clarifies (in a retroactive reminder to the citizens of Gloucester) that fishermen are not successful men, not famous men, and not men of power. But the monuments, sculptures, and idols created in their image (even figuratively) would put fishermen in the company of exactly such successful, famous, and powerful men. What I think Maximus is trying to communicate is that fishermen are not SUPPOSED to be like (or be) any of those avarice-bound men. Fishermen, rather, are meant to do exactly what they do: fish (and other such related things); being concerned with money and obsessed by the prospect of money would only serve to distract them.
Previously in these Volumes (Vol. I-III), Maximus focused on the morning, i.e. the beginning of the day, the beginning of a period. He often instilled hope in distracted men by reminding them that alas, it was only morning, and they had the rest of the day to improve upon themselves. But now, he comments on the events that are happening “this afternoon” and on the “eyes / in this water” (159). In Letter 6 Maximus explained that “polis / is eyes,” i.e. the city / the people are eyes (30). It seems that we have reached the halfway point of the poem—the afternoon—as has the polis.
Does this wrongly idolized fishermen (only “wrongly” because he deviates from his actual craft… towards avarice/selfishness) demonstrate that we and the polis of Gloucester are at a bad point, at the halfway mark? I’d like to think not, especially because at this point Maximus also reminds us that “‘You rectify what can be rectified,”’ and surely, any wrongdoing we have done, particularly in the realm of greed, can be corrected as long as we are able to recognize the wrongdoing (159).

Entry 6: Page 150-165

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 27, 2009 4:47 PM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 6: p 150-165
The Uroboros (p 153) Olson casually mentions this term in passing, without giving it much attention and without revisiting it, at least not in our readings thus far. It is a term, however, that greatly coincides with much of his theories and ideals put forth, and is therefore worth further examining. The Uroboros is the circular Eastern symbol of a serpent eating it’s own tail, often representing wholeness and infinity. This symbol has been adopted cosmologically and alludes to the recycling or renewal of the universe. Jung, who Olson references often, says this about the Uroboros: “In the image of the uroboros (the serpent swallowing its own tail) lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning
oneself into a circulatory process… The uroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e., of the shadow…it is said of the uroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself.” (Mysterium Coniunctionis)
The serpent in this shape contains both male and female principles. It can be understood as the virgin goddess that gave birth to the universe, the circular shape being vaginal.    It also can be understood as phallic and thus represent the Pelasgian creation myth that tells of a serpent Ophion who coils around an egg three times until it breaks and from it hatches the universe.
The Uroboros was taken up by alchemists as a basic mandala, the Gnostics as a representation of duality, and the metaphysical Theosophies as their seal. Olson references all of these groups in his writings. What’s most obvious, however, is the comparison between the Uroboros and the fylfot. Both emphasize Olson’s notion of the ever flowing circularity of the universe and those who inhabit it. I think it also could be tied into the theory of living in unison WITH the earth, not ON it.
Finally, the fact that this symbol is a serpent foretells the recently surfacing serpent references Olson makes, such as the woman’s husband in the Native American legend (p 191). This legend, and thus the Uroboros, alludes to the woman as the repressed conscious and therefore points back to Jung. It is interesting to note that the presentation of the serpent in these aforementioned cultures and theories is so contrary to the Western understanding of this animal image. Rather than depicting the serpent as the devil responsible for man’s fall from God’s grace, the Uroboros quite the opposite, a harmony with God and oneself. The Uroboros then portrays the unity of life, and, as Olson would put it, the process.
Entry 6 – Ian Mintz – IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Sep 30, 2009 7:40 PM)
We were told to think about the map in “Letter, May 2” in relation to the inventory list on pg. 122 and the timetable on pg.120. They all list particulars, but the inventory lists quantity (of things). It is neat and distant. It implies a concern for the number of things; the things themselves are not described, examined, or understood. The timetable is equally neat and distant. It arranges “important” dates and leaves out “excess” information. There is no concern for the intricacies or the individuals involved in the described events.
The map in “Letter, May 2, 1959” is an example of text erupting; the form (the line) of the previous poems breaks apart in an effort to render a picture with text (150). This reminds me of the plate tectonics–the blocks of text–that appear later in the poem. It is, in other words, not neat and distant. It is directly involved with the environment that it describes. It uses its particulars for an active purpose, unlike the list and the timetable, which seem to let their particulars uselessly lie on the page. The numbers on the map describe directions and depth (“47,” “90    90”). Both quantities involve movement. The dates on the timetable and the quantities on the inventory list are static. There are some quantities on the map: “300 paces,” but paces are not commodities. Paces, perhaps, represent exertion and effort. The other particulars, including “Babson house” and “Meeting House Green,” are tied to a place in the map, unlike the floating dates on the timetable and the now insignificant quantity of “4000 nails” (122).
Below the map is a question: “What did Bruen want?” The inventory list and the timetable do not ask questions. They merely list facts. Thucydides lists facts. Herodotus asked questions in that he engaged with history. I cannot say this with certainty because I read only excerpts from The Histories and History of the Peloponnesian War during my freshman year. From what I remember, I had difficulty getting through Thucydides’s work. This is the impression I get, however, from our class discussions.

Entry 6: Page 150-165

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Oct 13, 2009 12:05 PM)
Maximus begins his letter on page 157 with an examination of “that bad sculpture of a fisherman”, accompanied by a quote from Heraclitus: “—‘as if one were to talk to a man’s house, knowing not what gods or heroes are’—.“ The reintroduction of Heraclitus here echoes a constant obsession with representation bringing to mind the comparison between the poor representation of a fisherman and the idea of logos or the flaw of representation as a whole.
Moreover, the chosen quote is powerful as it links back to the opening lines of the poem with the idea of building a house, making a home. Maximus ends this first section of the letter with a retort to the statue, and perhaps a retort to the efforts of the writer, “A fisherman is not a successful man/ he is not a famous man he is not a man/ of power,
these are the damned by God.” Maximus, here, refutes the idea of having a sculpure of a fisherman as it is impossible for a statue to capture the being, as one does a God or hero, of the fisherman.
In section two, he comments, When a man’s coffin is the sea/ the whole of creation shall come to his funeral.” It is a more naturual return, when compared to that of the hero, in which the fisherman returns to the ordinal spiraling of life. Such spirals come out best when Maximus says:
The flowers turn the character of the sea … … The drowned men are undrowned in the eddies
of the eyes of the flowers. (157)
It is not that the drowned men are returned to life in the eddies, but rather, that life, like the eddies, flowers or the sea, ebbs and flows continues. the fisherman die not as discrete entities, but as essential parts of humanity.

Entry 6: Page 150-165

6 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:11 PM)
Entry 6: Letter, May 2, 1959: This poem starts out interesting. The first page although all in type is almost like a map. Olson measures everything by paces. “[T]his line foes finally straight” refers to the road mentioned above, but it also refers to Olson poetic line. Thus there is an analogy between the lines on a map and lines of poetry. At the bottom of the page the poem opens out like a map. For instance a series of vertical “o”s down the page is supposed to represent a stonewall. Different names spread across the page represent different pieces of history as they appear in the landscape. A reference to the “rubbish/ of white man” that now pollutes this landscape. On page 155 “Five Pound Island” refers to the amount of money the white settlers bought the island from the Indians for. Stuck in the actual pronoun is its original market value, and traces of some the first commodification of this landscape. Maximus, to Gloucester, Sunday, July 19: In this poem Olson mixes quotes from Lao Tzu and Heraclitus, who where rough contemporaries. The “When a man’s coffin is the sea/ the whole of creation shall come to his funeral,” seems to partly to refer to Melville’s chapter towards the end of Moby Dick when Ishmael floats on a coffin in the sea after the boat has been shipwrecked. But the lines more literally refer to the services that Olson attended on the date of this poem commemorating all the seamen who died at sea in the waters. “’You rectify what can be rectified,’ and when a man’s heart/ cannot see this, the door of his divine intelligence is shut.” This line comes from Chaung Tse’s “Imaginary Conversation Between Loa Tzu and Confucius. One philosopher advocates withdrawal, and the other one advocates action. Poetry flows between either of these extremes.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 7: Page 171-200

MELIS ATALAY (Sep 24, 2009 5:34 PM)

It is easy to notice differences considering the beginning of Volume I and Volume IV. The beginning lines of Volume IV are a counter-thrust to the lines beginning Volume I. The Maximus of Volume I is powerful and self-declarative; his high emotions reflect his feeling that he is “a metal hot from boiling water…obey[ing] the figures of a present dance” (5). The beginning of Volume IV have equal and opposite parts: “With a leap (she said it was an arabesque I made…into the snow” (171). These lines lack the confidence and heat that were apparent in the Volume I beginning. Maximus speaks indirectly, describing what he does in the terms that a woman has told him. He is no longer confident in the figures of the present dance, and indeed does not have ownership over it. His physical position is telluric and snowy and cold, instead of boiling hot at sea. Through the rest of the beginning lines I see a more chaotic Maximus; it seems as though he has fallen apart, and does not trust the “figures” any more to guide him. Whereas before, he was certain that “form is love”, he now descrives instances “without sweet union of love”, and thus without form. These verses are more chaotic. This is reflected in the blocks of text that comprise this section; they seem commited to not being a unified whole. Maximus is now considering uncomfortable subject matter in his relfections of the underworld and dogtown. We are now surrounded by the winter months, and storms, and death. Of course thinking about the matter of being as a whole is important. Thus, there are instances of rebirth and regeneration through exposing onself to these previously pushed aside ideas. The reader is bombarded with images of Merry below the earth’s crust, and yet there are moments of life in these images: “The mass of the dead and the odor eaten out of the air by the grubs sticking moving by each other” (174). This decompositon is inclusive of the grubs feeding and moving and participating in processes. Death is then associated with screwing and sex and regeneration and reproduction in that sense: “Then only after the grubs had done him did the earth let her robe uncover and her part take him in” (176). The images seem haunting at first, but they describe how considering previously undesirable topics can yield to a fruitful and regenerative outcome of understanding. Merry’s previous life of abusing nature (see by him forcing his bull to fight) is over, and with it, his ego has been killed. Now, he is reborn and transformed through Mother Earth a new person.

Entry 7: Page 171-200

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 26, 2009 2:41 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 7, Pp. 171-200
Several Greco-Roman mythological characters (Moira, Heimarmene, and Isis) are introduced in Olson’s poem “For ‘Moira’”, and I think it would be useful to look at each of the goddesses individually (182). The poem is short, but Olson’s decision to incorporate these very complex figures almost completely illuminates his project, his perspective on what we humans are doing.
Moira, the namesake of this poem, I believe is made a mockery of. He uses her/their name in quotations, acknowledging their existence while also testifying to their overstated importance. The Moira are the personification(s) of fate. Sometimes Moira is acknowledged as one entity, but sometimes she is personified as three distinct women: Clotho (responsible for life), Lachesis (responsible for doling out humans’ lots or portions), and Atropos (responsible for death).
Maximus immediately begins the poem with “TO HELL WITH, like / —& UP,” to hell with this pervading notion of the Fates. Determinism such as this would rob humans of the free will that Maximus desperately argues we should exercise. But Olson is not quick to completely renounce the importance of this Greek ideology; he instead suggests we look to the character Heimarmene, whose name he underlines. Heimarmene is Olson’s compromise, as Heimarmene is widely considered subordinate to divine providence; she is the providence that is exerted by the matter itself—i.e., by humans themselves. I will have to think more about the details of her influence, but it seems to me that she is the perfect combination of divine foreknowledge and human’s free will.
Maximus mentions Isis, the goddess of fertility and motherhood, when he explains that Heimarmene is the “hand of Isis,” meaning this goddess is only able to bear her influence (children) with the aid of providence AND human action. We play a role, and this is important for Maximus. Heimarmene allows us to “[unweave] even the inextricably tangled / web of fate,” and Heimarmene insists, as Maximus has done before, that we “get up off the ass.”

Entry 7: Page 171-200

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 27, 2009 6:16 PM)
Reading Response 7: p 171-200
“    An American is a complex of occasions, themselves a geometry of spatial nature.” (p 185)
In response to notions of Olson being perhaps racist, that were recently brought up in class, I think this passage offers a perfect counterexample. Olson prefaces this passage with a Homeric reference to the Trojan War, stating “No Greek will be able to discriminate my body,” then goes onto to describe what his body, as an American would look like. This, then signifies a sense of pride, to use a cliche, in the “melting pot” of America. American individuals are geometrically divided into their spatial pasts (ancestral origins). Olson, then explains that in spite of this he has “this sense that [he] is one with [his] skin,” describing a unity amongst Americans’ diverse pasts and cultures.
It is similar to when Olson recounts the introduction of a non-native invasive species of plant that spreads throughout America. The plant spreads across the continent, driving out some other species, but eventually finds its niche. This is comparable to the populating of America, and though Olson recognizes the problems that come along with the spread, he also acknowledges it as a part of our history and foundation, and thus as something primarily good. Therefore Olson, does not appear to be a racist, as he embraces the spread of “non-native” species (races) and welcomes folding them into the American pot.
Aside from being anti-racist, the passage works on both a personal and communal level, in regards to an individual’s relationship to society. By expressing that “no Greek will be able to discriminate [his] body” from others, Olson portrays a unity and indistinguishable fragment of humanity. However, by finishing it with a declaration that “[he] is one with [his] own skin,” Olson personalizes the self within humanity, recognizing that the self has to find its own niche.

Entry 7: Page 171-200

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 1, 2009 2:40 AM)
“BREAK HER up as the lumber / was broken up in the screw” (181)
This refers, in part, to the association of the swastika with Nazism. If one screws, one twists and penetrates. It is an invasive act that a foreign object performs; the screw fastens itself on passive lumber. This reminds me of our discussion of “fuck” in class. Nazism really fucked/screwed the swastika. The meaning of the swastika now broken, which is especially unfortunate for something that represents universal harmony. I like the way Maximus plays with “luck out” in this part of the poem: “Luck, out” (181). It is funny that a comma can change the meaning of a phrase completely. A positive idiom becomes the exact opposite with a comma in the right, or wrong, place. The comma’s invasion is in some way similar to the screw’s invasion in “Luck, out” (181). The comma spoils the luck.
In “generation of those facts / which are my words,” I see past generations and “generation” in the sense of creation (184). This double meaning suggests an interaction with the past–a kind of creation of it–in the present and in the future. At the same time, the past creates the present and the future. This reminds me of the beginning of Four Quartets. All of the interactions of/in time suggests “no strict personal order / for [Maximus’s] inheritance” (184).
In “Plus this – plus this:,” I wonder if the en dash is “minus,” but I do not think it is (185). The colon also reminds me of an equal sign. If it does mean “minus,” then the en dash adds to the idea of “no strict personal order” and “change” because subtraction would add an additional level to the formation of identity (184, 185). (It would have been better to say that subtraction would “complicate the formation of identity,” but I couldn’t resist.)

Entry 7: Page 171-200

Laura (Oct 4, 2009 1:40 PM)
Books IV, V, and VI open with Wegner’s depiction of the landmass(es) of Earth, linked. “MAXIMUS, FROM DOGTOWN – 1” begin as though Maximus is located in the Dogtown of this linked geography. The poem
begins with Okeanos (in mythology, ocean-stream at the Equator, upon which the habitable hemisphere floated. In Hellenistic/Roman mosaics, described as having “the upper body of a mascular man with a long beard and horns (often represented as the claws of a crab), and the lower torso of a serpent (cf. Typhon)” (Wikepedia, Oceanus)).
I’d like to look at the following section to see what’s happening here, in the movement of plates and myth:
But that then she lay for heaven and she bare the thing which encloses every thing, Okeanos the one which all things are and by which nothing is anything but itself, measured so
screwing earth, in whom love lies which unnerves the limbs and by its heat floods the mind and all gods and men into further nature [II.2]
It’s unclear whether it’s Okeanos screwing earth, that Okeanos is engendered male, as opposed to the “she” who is not necessarily “Earth” but might be Earth.
In the poem, text penetrates earth – is trying to get into earth, for the human physiology, the nerves/limbs/mind, to find their relief. Then things awaken or come into a functional place of being: the soul, the sleeper, man.
“the sleeper lights up from the dead” echos (in my mind, at least) Shakespeare’s “death’s second self that seals up all in rest” (Sonnet 73).
It’s not entirely clear that it is Okeanos, who, in the following couplet, is personified as male, “screwing earth, in whom love lies which unnerves the limbs and by its/ heat floods the mind and all gods and men into further
nature.” There is a sense of ambiguity here–whether the poem is suggesting that it’s Okeanos that is copulating with “she” (as geography, as goddess) to awaken life or if “screwing earth” is a happening onto itself. That the stanza sits alone (as the s Mary) perhaps provides some insight.
The poem evokse Nut (the sky Goddess) and Geb (the Earth God). “Nut is water” seems to link Nut and Okeanos. Though that problemitizes a reading of Okeanos screwing earth. Here, again, the reading of gender is so shifty in Olson– that the narrative in speaks in/to/of cosmos, myth, human, and words themselves.
The poem relates the story of James Merry, a Gloucester fisherman who traveled to Spain and witnessed bullfights. Merry is perhaps, as Butterick suggests, a proto-type for Maximus–a staggeringly tall hero figure, inked to Melville’s Billy Bud born under the sign of Taurus (bull)). Here, the text blends myths, stories, dates, and the cosmos to create meaning in “order”. Merry evokes the Virgin Mary & the poem cycles along, suggesting the story of Mary in various manifestations.
& continues on, brining the scene back to Gloucester, to a more recent moment on Gee Avenue – to a black duck, which after a poem of myth & continental shifts, the reader is left to wonder what of. what of this black duck. the myth of “reality”. myth, the translation of what is seen in the scene of the everyday.
…a black duck walking across a populated corner
life spills out [11.3].
in an image, the isolation of a duck as one being, in a sea of happening. “corner” reflecting the cut line – the bent line of sight in reading the words themselves. Here “life spills out” of a union of word and meaning, not necessarily the physical imagistic suggestion that is heavy in so much of the text.
The presence of the She (Mary), in the poem, in relation to Merry, who dies in the bull fight, under the sign of Pisces (fish) — suggesting how Mary was replaced in Christianity with the Christ figure – and the implications of that, for the place of the goddess in the understanding of myth.
Dogtown is gendered as “she”, as most (all?) of the geological features in the MP. & it is this She who takes in Merry after his death, the scene depicted as consummation:
Then only after the grubs had done him did the earth
let her robe uncover and her part take him in
[II.6]
To conclude anything, it seems Okeanos holds the same weight in the text as apophainesthai in “Maximus, at the Harobor”, a poem in which Okeanos reappears, with a much different tone. So I’ll get to that next & think more on all this.
Also to note: the importance of under in the poem.
water my rock – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Oct 14, 2009 4:49 PM)
The first lines opening Volume II’s proem contradicts the dedication to Wegner’s work at the beginning of the volume: “The sea was born of the earth.” These opening lines establish a new creation muthos to open up the second part of Olson’s epic poem. The proem begins with the theme of death, a characteristic of Dogtown and the “underworld” or “other” side, as depicted through the narrative of Merry and the bull.
The emphasis on rocks and the sea, (beginning after the fifth stanza with “WATERED ROCK”) demonstrates the clear tension established in this section; that of the immovable materiel being of the rock compared to the “deep- swirling Okeanos,” establishing two major forces here, that of direct linear, “Geb” or ‘male’ (characterized later by the “stud of the earth”), and that of the fylfot’s axiel motion, or Nut or ‘female.’ As the opening section of this volume, the title Proem is apt as it is traditionally a section established as an introduction to a larger work.
Yet Olson (or if you will, Maximus) immediately contradicts his own mythology later in the proem when describing “the maternal beast/ of the moon and the earth.” Neither entities, earth nor ocean, have a specified gender, but rather drift between different gendered pronouns. Olson here is preparing readers to enter “dogtown” a locale in which, like the ocean (or the cut), nothing is stable or materiel. The narrative of Merry is appropriate as it immediately establishes this volume as one dealing with dark, or macabre, materiel (think, in comparison to the opening section of volume I in which Maximus establishes a home, as home’s are, specifically for the living).

Entry 7: Page 171-200

7 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:11 PM)
Entry 7 As we begin the second volume of Maximus Olsen first starts out with a flashback, Letter 41, which was withheld. Olsen’s mention of Jewish migrations hints that Olsen is starting to think bigger. He no longer is doing just migration to the New World, but he is also explaining earlier migrations.
“Maximus from Dogtown—1” is Olson at his finest. He begins the poem with the birth of Aphrodite, as told by Hesiod, in the ocean foam. With the mention of Okeanos we become aware of the whole world as an organism, life force. The movement of plate tectonics is one long drawn out love making session. I quite like the lines later on in the poem when Olson says “We drink/ or break open/ our veins solely/ to know.” Ed Sanders and the Fugs made these lines into a beautiful Velvet Underground style song called “I Want to Know.” It is also important to note the appearance of Merry who wrestled the bull in Dogtown. His name will appear often let in the poem. Often punning his name with the Virgin Mary and the Merry Mac underwear company, among other things.
Letter 27 is another touchstone. Amongst all the facts Olson knows how to bring relief with simply good poems. “I come back to the geography of it.” Olson’s diction is one with the world. “I have this sense,/ that I am one/ with my skin” he speaks his words connected to body and breathe.
“A Maximus” on page 193 is an interesting page full of names, arranged like stars on the page. The first name is “Pound, a person of the poem.” The page almost looks like a genealogy of the gods. Yet is more like the genealogy of associations in Olson’s mind. Pound is the father of the modern epic. Like the myths that interested Olsen of the Zeus figure overtaking his father Chronos, so Olson wanted to overtake Pound and rule the epic genre. Ferrini is perhaps a Titan. In the middle of the page is Carl Olsen, referring to the fisherman but also referring to himself. Olson surrounds himself in names.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 8: Page 201-228

 STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Sep 26, 2009 5:25 PM)

Maximus Poems – Entry 8, Pp. 201-228
Usually thriving off the promise of possibility, Maximus in a letter (?) to Robt Duncan laments the implications of romanticism and fish sticks (208). In “A Maximus Song” written 6 days prior to the Duncan letter, Maximus sings of those who gather and crowd the sea to watch Phryne—a Greek courtesan famous only for her beauty—walk into the water (205). Days later he comically and very seriously describes what can happen when man lets his life “ride on” romantic details.
He writes of both the “lovely lying muthos” that promise an impossible romanticism and the more base breeding we partake in like animals. So if he promotes neither of these types of love, where is the middle ground? I think Maximus pinpoints it immediately after the above distinction, when he specifies “our love [perhaps his and his wife’s] is for ourselves alone.” What is beautiful about love is exactly that it can be shared. The world they share is “an eternal event,” but—digressing from the romanticism he seeks to avoid—he quickly shifts from this loving rumination to a more practical, discouraging one. He has vowed not to get stuck on the idealistic parts of life, so he begins to explain the “decline of fishes” and how this decline affects his son and future generations.
It seems that children are becoming less and less familiar with fish, with something very vital and natural to Gloucester. He fears the day when boys will see fish only in classroom aquariums or on the covers of TV dinners of fish sticks (209). I can see why this is a problem, but in these few lines, he has denied any merit to excessive romanticism and urbanization. I really wonder what that means for my childhood. Having lived in a suburb of Salt Lake City and then Los Angeles, all I really experienced was moral romanticism and city smog, respectively; what were the repercussions of this upbringing? I don’t feel I was deprived; perhaps that is because there is more to the environment than just what it is. There is the redeeming element of how one lives with it.

Entry 8: Page 201-228

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 27, 2009 7:15 PM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 8: p 200-228
The Account Book of B Ellery (p 204) “vessels goods voyages
persons salaries conveyances”
This short poem perfectly embodies the transition between the first and second sets of books of The Maximus Poems. While the first set of books contains painstakingly detailed logs of crops, prices, people, voyages, etc., as well as the journals of America’s colonizers full of obscure references and trivial technicalities, the second set of books omits these sections. While Olson’s second set of books still contain these, they are included to a much lesser extent, and often in much less detail. Instead they narrate myths of the Native Americans, and possibly psychedelic blurbs of experience.
The first books then, could be said to lay the foundations of The Maximus Poems, the foundations of Glaucestor , and the foundations of Olson’s beliefs. Though in these books, Olson preps the readers, warning them not to become ensnared by detail, he provides extensive detailing nonetheless, thus bestowing these details with some significance. He doesn’t, however, seem to be giving these historical facts in the normal sense, that is, to educate because history repeats itself (though it evidently does, if the circular pattern of the fylfot is to be adhered to), but perhaps instead just as a carpenter would lay groundwork for a building. Olson is then a carpenter in the first books, but an inhabitant of the recently constructed building in the second.
If the second books represent less emphasis on detailed facts, which are still acknowledged as being there (thus Olson’s quick rundown of B Ellery’s account book), it then focuses more upon experience and the process of the moment. It could then be said that the second set of books follow more the example of Heroditus and his inclusion of myth. This furthers Olson’s belief that history is finding out for yourself.

Entry 8: Page 201-228

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 2, 2009 1:04 PM)
in this response, i want to examine Nasir Tusi, whose name appears in Letter 72 on page 223. The directional arrow pointing to the recommendation to “get back to Nasir Tusi” implies importance and consideration. We know that Maximus is trying to map out his own identity, see the line in “Maximus, march 1961-2”: “show me (exhibit myself)” (203). Tusi was a persian from the 13th century, who wrote about Arabic gnostics called ta’wil. Tusi’s works have been researched and worked with by Corbin, who defines ta-wil as “to cause to return, to lead back, ot restore one’s origin and to place where one comes home, consequently to return to the true and oringinal meanign of a text”; he adds, and this is where i think it gets interesting in relation to Olson, “ta’wil is said to be a spiritual exegesis that is inner, symbolic, esoteric, etc” (http://74.125.155.132/search? q=cache:5y50EuVTLggJ:henrycorbinproject.blogspot.com/2009_05_01_archive.html+nasir+tusi+ta- wil&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us) . this is interesting when considering the grammar … its a bit diffiuclt to parse out, but i think that to see oneself in the context of the world entails a spiritual experience that is symbolic, infinitive, and very abstract. This is linked with a person commanding abstract understanding of his own existence. i think this has a lot, A LOT to do with the whole process of what maximus is going through, with the reflexive phrases, like show me myself”, etc., and his continual consideration of himself in different temporal contexts. im pretty confused, but its interesting, worth the heavy lifting i think. professor campion, do you think i could do my presentation on this? if youre reading this … if not ill email you in a couple days.

Entry 8: Page 201-228

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 4, 2009 11:12 PM)
“Once a man was traveling through the woods” is so generic that it either introduces a story that can happen anywhere, or it introduces a story that can happen in only one place (201); the story, perhaps, is so entrenched in the culture from which it stems that any description beyond bare detail–an unnamed man in unnamed woods–would be extraneous. The simplicity of the language might point to the richness between the lines. That is, the language’s simplicity might emphasize the importance of the message. I am not sure that this is, originally, an Algonquin story, but I believe that Professor Campion told the class that it was. If it was an Algonquin story, I wonder if the language was originally so bare. If it was not, perhaps Olson’s aim was to convey the “# whatever” quality of the letter. It is a letter with meaning that is not tied to a sequence, or place, in time.
When the traveling man comes to “hard-wood ridge near a good spring of / water” and puts his house down, he opposes natural process (201). The other man, the nomadic one “who [carries] his house on his head,” has a home that is within himself (201). His home, then, travels with him and is constantly moving and adapting to the environment. The traveling man stops traveling, resists adaptation, and finds riches, including venison, “meat, hams” and duck, but he soon experiences the mutability of his supposedly permanent dwelling and lifestyle (201). Indeed, he cannot escape process: he becomes a partridge and it is spring, which is a season that marks the beginning of new life.
“I forced the calm grey waters, I wanted her / to come to the surface I had fought her, / long enough, below” (202). I wonder how angling relates to dancing around a tree to catch a raccoon. Both methods involve waiting, but angling involves deception; it involves trap setting. There is a passivity about dancing and a violence about fishing. Though there is violence and deception in angling, there is also an effort and a presence about the fight to retrieve a fish that does not exist in a simple pull of a trigger. In “I shaped her out of / the watery mass,” there is a strange sense of realization and creation (202). I do not know exactly what to make of it. In this, I see the sea as an essential and universal substance: “The wonder is / limitless, of my own term, the compound / to compound until the beast rises from the sea” (202). The sea is the clay from which forms emerge. It is the natural state of things–the indivisible universe– that exists beneath sentient beings’ divisions.

Entry 8: Page 201-228

Laura (Oct 6, 2009 12:48 AM)
This section touches directly on the fate/state of the Commons. & a new sense of seeing.
“Maximus Letter # whatever” begins with the retelling of an Algonquin myth. Then, with the turning of the page as a transition, the text turns back to Maximus:
I forced the calm grey waters, I wanted her to come to the surface I had fought her, long enough, below. I shaped her out of the watery mass
and the dragger, cleaning its fish, idled into the scene, slipped across the empty water where I had placed the serpent, staring as hard as I could (to make the snow turn back to snow, the autos to come to their actual size, to stop being smaller and far away.
In this first stanza, we have another image of the speaker fighting geology- forcing the sea to get to “her” whom he has shaped. Butterick notes in an earlier version of the poem, the “she” is the Gloucester sea-serpent, several sightings of which were reported in the 19th C. The “she” seems to reflect the un/subconscious – bringing that which is suppressed, which one fights, to surface. It also speaks to the process of making poems. The dragger in the next stanza suggests a clearing-out of sight – of “empty water”. The following scene grounds the narrative in its desire to come back to the new actual & some tension is created here between the seen and the “known”.    Of course Olson is into mushrooms during this time, and an earlier version of the poem contains “mushroom eyes”, but Olson decided to edit it out — why? The following poem, “Maximus, March 1961-2”, relates Olson’s experience on LSD with Timothy Leary.
In “A Maximus Song”, it’s Phryne who represents the mythic female embodiment in water: “thronged//to the seashore//to see Phryne//walk into//the water” Phryne, a 4th C. Greek courtesan, rarely disrobed, though was highly desired. She did reveal herself on the feast of Posidonia, when she bathed in the sea, depictions of Venus were modeled after her, etc. “thronged” here is shifty — thronged as in the noun (a large group of people) or thronged the verb (to press in on)?
The poems that follow depict in great detail the settlement of Gloucester/Dogtown, houses erected, historical figures, etc., to characterize the beginnings of the fishing town, its scene.
II.47 presents a summation, nearly, of the previous pages:    “B. Ellerly    Cinvant Bridge    aer”. Ellery is the Dogtown merchant whose records Olson refers to. the Cinvant Bridge appears in Zoroastorianism as the bridge that leads to paradise or hell that the soul must cross on judgement day. aer = air. There is the sense here, that the specifics, the nouns that tell exactly what was create a sense of what is, in the poem, and that across the bridge (struggle/life/death) one reaches air/ ether — but one must take a step away from discursive facts to get there. I’m not sure I’m satisfied with this explanation, but there is a sense of seeing at play in this fragment — that the connections exist in space surrounding the words. space of the open page?
“The View-July 29,1961” speaks explicitly to the act of seeing. And what is seen? “the arms/ of Half Moon Beach, / the legs/ of the Cut.” Anthropomorphed geography – the text insistent that the land/sea remain alive in an embodied, human way.
So I have an interest in close reading of “seeing” in the text — where are the eyes of the narrator and what is desired of/from those eyes and how/what do they see in relation to earth/water, and how is seeing and the thing, seen, is gendered. And the implications of this.
December, remember? – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Oct 14, 2009 4:51 PM)
The section entitled “DECEMBER, 1960” engages a new formalism not dissimilar to that of the musical “sonata” form. Maximus, in this section, establishes a theme followed by transitions into a second, and eventually 3rd and 4th theme. Olson uses lists , such as in lines 8 – 23 to move from one topic to the next. Once all of the themes are established,
at the end of the second stanza of page 195, Olson transitions into a developmental section that eventually moves the poem on into the next section on page 201.
The development here brings forth old materiel recycled from earlier sections of the poem, of specific interest the stanzas at the end of 195 which remind readers of the Wegnerian interlocking stanzas of earlier parts. This stanza even tells readers how to proceed: “ one interlocking line,” followed by the next stanza (which fits perfectly in the break left by the end of the first) with the words “force down” as the break moves down the page.

Entry 8: Page 201-228

8 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:12 PM)
Entry 8 Although pretty much all of “Maximus Letter# whatever” was lifted right out of an Algonquin myth book, this poem is still a remarkable achievement. There are several ways to interpret it. The man and women dancing around the tree seem to represent the old indigenous ways. The mystical, spiritual ways people ground in the earth. They dance into the earth. The man with the house on his head can be seen as the capitalist white man coming in, that values practical over ritual. The man could also be the poet like Olson, who has his heat full of words. The man seems to be a nomad, he is carrying his home. The house on the head also seems to imply an expansive mind. There is the inference of Oslon latter on taking LSD and mushrooms. House on the head could mean some kind of balancing act of knowledge.
On page 202 and 203 Olson begins to really take advantage of pages in opposition, and the negative space on the page. Two different poems somehow work together. One could spend time just on two pages reading back and forth, in circles. On the first page Olson describes an early fishing experience, he blinds himself from the sea as he pulls a fish out of water. On the next page he “exhibit[s]/ myself” for Timothy Leary on Psyboscilin. Placed across from each other these two poems extend their meanings. With the rest of the poems in this section Olson continues to use the blank space, sometimes just placing a few words on the page, sometimes filling up most of the white space with type. The reader when reading the poem feels as is they are actually navigating the world. Olson writes with his two feet squarely on the ground. “I stand on Main Street like the Diorite/ stone”(221). Even when Olson presents a list of facts he is still having fun, such as when he writes “Apricocks” (227). In the source where Olson got this list from, there was no “k” in the word.

________________________________________________________________________

 ________________________________________________________________________

Entry 9: Page 229-257

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Sep 30, 2009 10:36 PM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 9: p 229-257 Continuation of “Maximus, at the Harbor” (p 240)
After our class discussion of “Maximus, at the Harbor,” from where we left off as I understood it, at the slight confusion of whether Olson was speaking in an entirely negative sense about “tear[ing] upon the earth to get love loose” or if he allowed the poem to harbor a positive aspect in regards to plate tectonics, I thought some time about this dilemma and reread this portion of The Mamimus Poems over and over. Olson essentially describes the metaphorical (and sometimes physical) rape of the Earth.
Beginning with an origin myth of Okeanos, the Greek sky god, as a destructive force, tearing at the Earth to loosen its soil “and rape until love sifts,” the tone is evidently negative. However, after declaring Okeanos’ “love” as nothing more than a “stud upon the earth,” or a phallic intrusion into virgin land, gentler terms are used to describe his “love.” Here love “sits,” “lies,” and “sits” again, which alludes to the act to be perfectly comfortable and natural. Though a slightly dirty sexual metaphor is included in a four line indentation, the poem continues after this with pleasant terminology, almost of ecstasy, abruptly insisting “Paradise is a person” and beckoning someone (this person, or the reader?) to “Come into this world” [emphasis added]. However, the poem then reverts back to destructive terms, though not as overtly sexual this time, just “roaring,” “cracking,” and “breaking.” This back and forth makes it rather difficult to pinpoint Olson’s opinion on the matter.
However, if the context of the poem is taken into consideration, and the fact that “the Cut” has been obsessed over more than usual in its immediately preceding pages, a possible explanation can be speculated upon. “The Cut,” in regards to the physical piece of land in Glaucestor, torn through for commercial profit, was a violation on the land, just as the “stud’s” cut through the Earth is rape. However, the natural movement of the Earth, the plate tectonics, the shifting of continents, and the physical force that comes of this is perfectly organic and pure. It causes the shape of the Earth to change, but not in a necessarily negative way; it forms mountains and valleys where they didn’t exist before, similar to a woman’s pregnancy. Interestingly enough, the final phrase of this particular poem is “It wants the Perfect Child.”

Entry 9: Page 229-257

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 1, 2009 11:43 AM)
I have read “Maximus, at the Harbor” again and again, and continue to be struck by not only its images, but also its thematic implications. From the harbor, Maximus envisions Okeanos encircling the Earth, in efforts to copulate with the Earth. The diction surrounding this event is violent: “rages”, “tears”, “the great Ocean is angry”; so should we deem this act to fall under the term fucking that we talked about in class, a strictly penetrative act, notable for its violence and strict physicality? But then why is there mention of Okeanos’s attempts “to get love loose”? We know the precept that “form is love”; in the III section of this poem, it is revealed that Okeanos “wants the Perfect Child”. I believe here this rape is described with such physicality because the form that Okeanos is attempting to set loose is really his progeny, an extension of his physical form, literally himself in the form of a new being. This reminds me of the Aeschylus play brought up in class, in which the son is regarded as being only of the father, disregarding the mother’s role. I am having a difficult time understanding “Paradise is a person. Come into this world. The soul is a magnificent Angel. And the thought of its thought is the rage of Ocean”, followed by images of destruction in the Gloucester area. I was initially struck that paradise should be “a” singular person, rather than it being the collective soul. I think that what Maximus is saying by this, though, is that one must, in Whitmanian terms, celebrate this idea of personhood, and with that, his ability to have individual thought and guiding experience, in order to become that “progressive soul”, and, further, that “perfect child”. The poem’s title lends that Maximus must have to do with these images of violent regeneration of self; I think that this is an entry into the world as a new self that Maximus demands of himself, and perhaps the rage is associated with Maximus’s emotional rebirth: “apophainesthai: the soul in its progressive rise”. Okeanos becomes the
thought of Maximus’s thought, and it is Okeanos that is the angel of the reincarnation process, which may be a thing defined by rage, in light of such transformation’s difficulty, or dependent on the quality of the act from which it is impelled. The lines “it sends out on the path ahead the Angel will meet” lends to this the idea of destiny. Note the religous and mythical qualities. The line, “its ascent is its own mirage”, is also worth considering. The “ascent” sounds closely to “accent”, which carries the ideas of a individualistically and experience-driven developent of personal song, or personal speech. I take this to mean that a person’s own song is his own ascent, which matches with the line, “Paradise is a person”. Though, then, is the process of such development through individuality the real mirage? Like a limited lens through which to examine the world, which is an idea that came up in Book I with belief in religion. I think that there is some potential danger here. Indeed, the map which will include Maximus’s being is called “peloria”, which implies “monster”.

Entry 9: Page 229-257

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Oct 4, 2009 8:18 PM)
Last Edited By John Campion on Wed Oct 14 19:38:00 PDT 2009 Maximus Poems – Entry 9, Pp. 228-257
Usually very speculative, the Maximus poems work to expose things true about man, about nature, and about their connection. In “Maximus, at the Harbor” he sets himself in this very fantastic yet very real juncture. He looks on at a woman’s hemispheres looming above him, as “Okeanos rages” around him (240). Which of these hugely sensory experiences takes precedence, which consumes him? He decidedly comments that “[p]aradise is a person,” but he follows that immediately with the imperative “[c]ome into this world.” It seems that we need the world to enjoy each other, and we need each other to enjoy the world.
“Apophainesthai” is repeated nine times, with four instances underlined. It translates as either “appearing” or “bringing to light.” “The soul, / in its progressive rise / apophainesthai” (241). The physical and spiritual aspects of a person may constitute paradise for Maximus, but it is the spiritual aspects (namely, the soul) that more powerfully loom before him (as he clarifies in Part II). Perhaps her hemispheres account for more than just a physical division between her anatomical regions; the hemispheres could very well be the divide between the body and the soul.
The soul’s trajectory is more paramount; our physical movements, when used wisely, serve to bring our soul to light, apophainesthai. It carries us “in & out / of more difficult things / and by so passing / apophainesthai.” However, near the end of this poem, he comments that “its ascent [the soul’s ascent] is its own mirage.” Is the progression illusory? What then is being brought to light?
In “A Later Note on Letter #15” Maximus credits Whitehead with reminding us of “the dream,” which has something to do with “self-action” and the corresponding need to take responsibility for our lives. Further, “no event / is not penetrated [by] an eternal / event” (249). So maybe the soul’s ascent is only its own mirage insofar as that progression is not self-sufficient; it is not self-sustaining. There are the “eternal event[s]” that fuel and enable our soul’s apophainesthai; there is an inextricable connection between the universe and our lives in/with it.

Entry 9: Page 229-257

Laura (Oct 7, 2009 11:44 PM)
Entry 9
I’ll look at “Maximus at the Harbor”, but first it seems necessary to briefly look at that which directly precedes it : “a certain previledged place/ call the Cutt where/ vessles pass through for money” (II. 69). The syntax of these lines is consistent with Olson’s source, the Probate Court in Salem, MA. In this fragment/poem, Olson presents the early privatization/commercialization of Gloucester and suggests the prevention of entrance into the female/feminine. This sets up the following rape of earth – which unfolds as a sort of freeing “it” [not earth “herself” but that which flows] from its bonds, tolls, possession, etc.
“Maximus at the Harbor”
First, a bit more on Okeanos: “the god who regulated the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies which were believed to emerge and descend into his watery realm at the ends of the earth….Okeanos was depicted in ancient Greek vase painting as a bull-horned god with the tail of a serpentine fish in place of legs, similar to his river-god sons. His usual attributes were a fish and serpent. In the Hellenistic era, Okeanos was redefined as the god of the newly accessible Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the old cosmological idea
of a great, earth-encircling, fresh-water stream was discarded. In mosaic art he therefore appears simply as a sea-god or the sea
of a great, earth-encircling, fresh-water stream was discarded. In mosaic art he therefore appears simply as a sea-god or the sea personified, with crab-claw horns, and for attributes, a serpent, oar and school of fish. His wife Tethys, shown seated beside him, had wings on her brow, in the role of mother of rain-clouds” (http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanOkeanos.html). Very interesting depiction, given the repetition of fish, serpents, and sea-gods in the MP. Also, the ancient Greek detail of “bull horns” further links Okeanos with Merry’s story in “MAXIMUS, FROM DOGTOWN – 1”, which I wrote briefly on in post 7. Perhaps it is Okeanos that speared Merry [Maximus prototype] & that tearing acted as a foreshadowing of sorts for “Maximus at the Harbor”.
Okeanos rages, tears rocks back in his path. Encircling Okeanos tears upon the earth to get love loose,
that women fall into the clefts of women, that men tear at their legs and rape until love sifts through all things and nothing is except love as stud upon the earth
love to sit in the ring of Okeanos love to lie in the spit
of a woman a man to sit in her legs
Here, Olson isn’t simply recalling myth, he’s using it to set matter in motion, to cast a scene for a new origin. Okeanos rapes/forces open the earth “to get love loose”, and this movement suggests the shifting of geological plates. The “ring” of Okeanos suggests his bull attributes & echos Merry’s story.
Why “as stud” – stud relates to the twist/nasturtium, etc., but could also be read here as reinstatement of the masculine, a new masculine. But why is that all that’s left? Wouldn’t the mythic rebirth of earth/universe/conciousness involve the feminine? It does in other respects in the poem (earth/nature feminized, woman’s womb as origin, etc.,)–so there seems to be a deviance here, in “stud” as all that’s left upon the earth.
“apophainesthai” is repeated in Okeanos [though unattributed] shaping/mauling of the earth’s surface, “as it blew”, “as it cracked”, and “as it tore.” Apophainesthai, that which comes of itself, that which is brought into light, is brought forth because of Okeanos’s aggression, penetration, rape/beating of the world, but the text looses Okeanos early in the poem. Here things get interesting. Okeanos shifts to a first person”I” :
(her hemispheres loomed above me, I went to work like the horns of a snail    [II.70]
Here, the narrative voice (and/or Maximus) takes on the persona of Okeanos. Perspective in seeing also shifts– now the “I” is below the feminine embodiment of the earth & the tone, “I went to work” is much less aggressive than the narrative that surround this stanza. This stanza suggests Olson, the poet, writing. What do horns of a snail do? They sense, they feel, they suggest, they have a certain kind of finesse- they do not “rape”. I will digress here, but i actually watched a snail in my garden this summer for a good hour & was fascinated by the oscillation in nearly dancing tentacles (they are quite phallic in their emergence). OK – The poem operates first as an invocation, which paves the way for the embodiment. However, this only lasts one stanza and then the pronoun “it” (the thought of the soul) becomes the vehicle for the actor/ aggressor:
Paradise is a person. Come into this world. The soul is a magnificent Angel. And the thought of its thought is the rage
of Ocean    :    apophainesthai [II.70]
So “the thought of its thought” — speaks to me as what a poem is saying. The poem’s work. This is the “it”.    “passes in & out/ of more difficult things” — here we get Olson’s weaving. I will type the following stanza because it remains one of the most mysterious to me :
the act which actuates the soul itself she loomed before me and he stood in this room — it sends out on the path ahead the Angel
it will meet apophainesthai
its ascent is its own mirage
I wonder if it feels mysterious because there are two bodies – she loomed and he stood (both in past tense) and there’s the disembodied “me” in the present, in “this room” and the “it”. I take the “it” to be the poem itself & the final 2.5 lines of the stanza echo “the work will take care of itself” – something that was told to me by a student of Olson & sounds v. Olsonian in nature & is echoed here – the work sends out the mystery/ the savior/ the spirit that will meet it (as the muses, reconfigured (or not)).
The poem narrates the Ocean’s desire for “the Perfect Child” which is the poem itself. The narrative also relates to Mary, but I don’t know enough about this yet to comment in the way I’d like to. & I definitely don’t think the poem is calling for “Jesus” or a savior figure – or even a human – but maybe a mythological nearness. hmmmm……

Entry 9: Page 229-257

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 8, 2009 1:12 AM)
In “Paradise is a person,” I see the individual power that a person has to achieve happiness (240). Paradise, however, is not paradise. If one occupies paradise and is happy, one lives with the threat of the opposite emotional extreme: despair (that might be the opposite). Some kind of balance should be maintained–and not occupied–because occupation implies a kind of complacency, and complacency contains a desire to fight change. I think that “Come into this world” is an invitation to participate fully in a process (240); one must be aware and actively participate, which is a sort of balance because if one flows with a process, one never fights to occupy any extreme.
“That which shows forth” is that which reveals itself completely and progressively rises (241). I see this progressive rise as a rise to self-realizing. This self-realizing is wearing the “splendor” and being naked(98).
One of my favorite lines in this section is this one: “its ascent is its own mirage” (241). If apophainesthai is “the soul / in its progressive rise” and the soul’s ascent is its own mirage, then what actually happens (241)? This reminds of the Buddhist notion of no-self. One can cultivate oneself in samsara and ascend to nirvana (though nirvana is actually only the ability to perceive differently, so there is no ascent, and that’s why samsara and nirvana are one and the same), but as long as one cultivates oneself, one entertains illusion, and this is because there is no self. I should note that if one practices Buddhism for the purpose of self-cultivation, one affirms the ego and plunges deeper into illusion. In the early stages of enlightenment, people probably see themselves ascending (it is a mirage) through their samsaric lens, and finally, when they become bodhisattvas and return to samsara out of compassion for sentient beings, they (self-)realize without a self; they progressively rise to buddhahood without rising.
I would like to note that all my assertions about Buddhism are problematic. Everything in Buddhism turns on itself, so I cannot really make assertions. Shakyamuni Buddha always pulls the rug under us. There is a continuous turning about it.
Re: Horns of a snail, Eye of a quack (accidently posted in 8) – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Oct 14, 2009 4:58 PM)
Over the course of the first hundred pages of Volume II Olson focuses on a universal retelling of christian mythology. We note the references and dualism between Merry/Mary as well as other odd disunities assimilating greek/pagan mythologies into those of christianity.
In the letter entitled “Maximus, at the Harbor,” Olson puts an emphasis on the word “apophainesthai” which appears nine times in the letter’s three sections (underlined four times in the first section) (p.240). Apophainesthai, which literally can be translated from Greek as “to appear” or “to bring out” captures the essence of the underworld which Olson tries to set and depict in Volume II. Ralph Maud, in his biography of Olson entitled Charles Olson at the Harbor puts it best when he approves of the state of disorder Olson invites us into, calling it “the state of being buffeted by the wave that presents itself (apophainesthai) at the harbor mouth.” Olson brings out the underlying connection of human muthos stating:
that women fall into the clefts of women, that men tear at their legs and rape until love sifts through all things and nothing is except love as stud upon the earth. (240)
All human tradition, and in a sense all human creation, stems from that first creative act: sexual expression and reproduction. The latent sexuality of Olson, best demonstrated in this section as “(her hemispheres/ loomed above me,/I went to work/ like the horns of a snail” Here Olson manages to get in images both of the femine (her hemispheres) and masculine (horns).

Entry 9: Page 229-257

9 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:13 PM)
Entry 9 “Thur Sept 14th 1961” Olson deals with the capitalization, division and ownership of Gloucester. “Endecott & Downing divided/ Gloucester up”. At this time while writing the poem Olson began to become disgusted with how Gloucester was developing in the sixties. It was loosing some of its small town charm. So it makes sense that Olson would start to research those who make capital from ownership and exploitation of land. “THE CUT” is a further exploration of this theme. In 1641 the men who made the Cut, or canal, were also the ones who where allowed to take toll for the people who wanted to cross. Olson was against the 128 bridge that was built in his time closing this cut so to speak. This would lead to Gloucester’s globalization and loss of the particular. The cut will also figure into Olson’s mythology, representing the female earth principle. The Monogene starts to become an important principle. It is meant to replace the atom. It is also supposed to be some kind of original man, in contra to Adam. Olson draws from some of the Gnostic symbols to replace the Puritanism that pervades in Massachusetts.
The pages in this section could represent some kind of evolution of Olson’s poetics, back to the original white page and back to silence. The alternation of a poem and then a white page and then a poem and then another white page could also represent the wash of the sea.
On 249 “In English the poetics became meubles—furniture–/thereafter (after 1630” refers to the end of the Elizabethan age and the expansive Shakespearean vision of humanity. After that the cold rationality of Descartes ruled until Whitehead. Shakespeare’s plays could be said to be connected to the same local in relation to universal preoccupations that occupied Whitehead. “my memory is/ the history of time” (256)

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 10: Page 258-286

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 2, 2009 12:27 PM)

The mythical elements of this section add insight to the main themes of the poems. The mention of the ALgonquin practice of using psychoactive drugs to see makes me think that Maximus would agree that one sometimes has to stretch his mind in ways that one might not have previously thought possible in order to truly see and be aware of one’s position in the world (260). The Algonquins lived harmoniously in nature, and were self-sustaining for more than 10,000 years, and their philosophy centered around the idea of being in the present moment, which is an idea that has been iterated previously by Maximus. Furthermore, it is essential to note the Alqonquins heavily worshiped Nokomis, an earth mother who nurtured all living things. I will consider this in relation with other comments in this entry.
Indeed, much of this section deals with ancient mythology of cultures that worshipped female gods. The Phrygian Attis meantioned on page 263 reminds one that those living in ancient Anatolia worshipped Cybele, who was thought of as the Great MOther, where she was also known as “mountain mother”. The Phrygians also venerated Sabazios, the sky and father-god, who was often depicted to be in direct conflict with Cybele. His representations show him as a horseman god. Later, we come across Athirat, wife of the supreme god El, who is closely linked as being of the Sea. Finally we get the story of Agenor, Zeus, and Europa, with Zeus changing forms to become a bull in order to steal Europa away. We see the female gods pertaining to the earth, thus making them indespensible for earth’s regeneration, and the masculine gods relating more to the air. The masculine gods are also closely tied to animal forms. I wonder if there will be more direct evidence offered by Maximus as to the point in transition from feminine gods to
masculine ones, and what the fear that was sufficient for such a switch entailed. perhaps the philosophy of the female gods made it so capital exploration and domination was not necessary; that is, the nurturing afforded to the ALgonquins, say, made it so greed and the desire to acquire and own were not defining characteristics of life. The masculine gods, by contrast, often manipulated nature in order to get what they wanted, ie, see Zeus changing forms …

Entry 10: Page 258-286

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Oct 5, 2009 8:23 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 10, Pp. 258-286
Beginning with the poem “In the Face of a Chinese View of the City,” Maximus shifts his focus to more city- oriented concerns. His cosmopolitan references so far have pertained mostly to the fish business in Gloucester and Dogtown, with some quips about prostitution. But now he turns his eye to more contemporary, local communal affairs, like in his evaluation of the “City Manager” and the “Superintendent of Schools” (258). He notably chastises the “City Clerk” for lack of attention paid to the origins, forefathers, and foundation of the city, and for busying himself instead with trivial things, such as dog-licenses.
A poem on January 19th begins with the commonplace notion that “[p]eople want delivery,” which is followed by a description of the town post office and his parked truck (267). The imagery of his truck parked on Rocky Neck Avenue and that fact warranting a phone call to the post office is striking. It is so simple, and it is so unlike the mythological allusions that precede and follow this imagery. It fits in perfectly though, as he mentions his provincial habits, like stopping to talk with the “Parenti Sisters,” who were Italian jewelry makers/sellers.
“Tesserae commissure” loosely translates to the meeting place between tiles in a mosaic (269). In a reading of this part of the poem, Olson stopped to comment that a story originally followed these lines and was edited out at some point. I wonder if the inclusion of said story would shed some light on the meaning of these lines. But with or without the story, the poem that comes before it and the one that comes after are divergent enough in subject matter that the “tesserae commissure” line seems to confirm the juxtaposition. He redirects his focus from the members of the city to the coast and its shore. His truck parked on the street corner is a provincial tile joined with a more pastoral tile, a painter’s “eye-view of Gloucester” (270).

Entry 10: Page 258-286

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Oct 7, 2009 12:32 AM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 10: p 258-286 “The Gulf of Maine”
“of the Pilgrimes going to the sand shore of Virginiay if fishing is
the holy calling” p 279
Every line of this stanza is loaded with religious imagery, and by re-contextualizing it in The Maximus Poems, every religious image can be dissected to fit with Olson’s common themes. At the center of the stanza, occupying its own line is “Virginiay,” which superficially refers to the shore of Virginia. However, at derivation of the name for the state Virginia is “virgin,” in reference to Elizabeth, the virgin queen. Olson has mentioned Elizabeth before, but never with a direct and definitive attitude, more in an influential passing, as he does again here. However, virgin also refers to the Virgin Mary, who is central to Christianity, as this word “Virginiay” is central to the passage, as the Virginia colony was central to the British colonies.
Branching off from the central and starting at the beginning of the stanza is the word “Pilgrimes,” which acts as an obvious double entendre for both the Pilgrims that established colonial settlements and religious people going on a pilgrimage. It is fitting that “Pilgrimes” would come at the beginning because the Pilgrims were one of the first English groups to settle the colonies. However, the next line slightly undermines this importance of being the first settlers. Olson goes onto describe the Pilgrims as “going to the sand shore,” alluding to the fact that they are building there settlement on the sand shore. One of the primary rules of Christianity is “don’t build your house on the sand, build it on the rock.” Obviously this a metaphor for having a sturdy foundation built upon God, but nonetheless the Pilgrims are building their settlement on a foundation easily washed away in the tide. Aside from portraying an inherent contradictory nature in the Pilgrim “religion” (perhaps relating to their disregard for Christianity’s golden rule “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” in regards to the brutality toward their neighboring Native American tribes), Olson also expresses that the tides are continuous and will therefore continue to wash away settlements (and religions) like the Pilgrims in its current.
Whereas the first part of the stanza could be said to refer to the Old Testament with the old rules of building your house on the rock, not the sand, and making pilgrimages to the holy land, the final part of the stanza could then be compared to the New Testament. Fishing is a key motif in Christianity and in many of Jesus’ parables. Thus by referring to fishing as “the holy calling,” Olson invokes what Jesus called his people to do “go be fishers of men,” in other words convert men to Christianity in the Biblical sense. However, Olson literally does mean that fishing is the holy calling, in regards to Glaucester as a fishing town, and because it is in his eye a respectable profession that keeps mens’ hands busy and belly full. It’s literally working for one’s food and is thus a manner of living in the process. However, implicit in this statement, because of the obvious religious allusion and because of the automatic connection with Melville, is the possibility of the grotesque facade. Fishing, when practiced in a commercial rather than personal manner, like religion, is only fueling mass consumerism and removing the element of personal experience in the process.

Entry 10: Page 258-286

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 8, 2009 3:40 AM)
I want to talk about the empty pages. Now, why didn’t I simply begin without my introduction, “I want to talk about the empty pages”? If I’d jumped into my discussion, my desire to talk about the pages would’ve come across. The introductory sentence provides readers with an illusion of meaning; it is an empty, extraneous sentence. My point is that sometimes language is emptier than emptiness. What stands out meaningfully about the blank pages is the lack of language–the lack of meaningful expression–on the page. The empty pages point toward the physical experience of reading a book. We read words and turn pages without awareness. We read words and associate meaning with them, but we are usually unaware of the act of reading. By the act of reading, I mean everything other than what most would consider “reading.” We’re unaware of our sitting or reclining, of our eyes scanning words, of our fingers turning pages, etc. This is true all the time, not just during the act of reading. What’s in the blur between the jerks of our heads (of our spotlights) ?
There’s so much around us that we don’t observe; there is so much life that goes unnoticed. I think that Olson wants readers to be aware of the process of reading The Maximus Poems, and one way that he expresses that desire is through the blank pages. Another possibility is that he wants us to be aware of the fact that every page is essentially empty. Even the pages with text on them require readers to give the words meaning, and all readings–even readings by the same person at different times, or by the same person recalling what she or he read even seconds later–are different. Reading is a process of discovery, even on a basic level. Without being aware of it (probably), we discover what we mean by every word when we interpret text. Of course there is an interaction between the material and readers, but readers are always responsible for what they get out of the material in the end.
Readers forge their own way and come out with unique interpretations. The poem is the reader in this way.
Re: this entry title is false (less jumbled) – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Oct 14, 2009 5:47 PM)
Self-referencing plays a big role through out the Maximus Poems. Through self referencing, Olson creates a system of “radicals” or abbreviated references, that allow the work to recall earlier themes or ideas without completely restating them. Yet on page 277, in the letter entitled “3rd letter on Georges, unwritten” Olson exhibits a different type of self referencing that directly opposes the content therein.
The letter opens with the line “ In this place is a poem which I have not been able to write–“ a statement which at once declares itself both as a poem and a thing not yet created. Here Olson plays with the idea of logos, or representation, in its own paradoxical form. In a way, this statement recalls Bertrand Russell’s logical paradox. though written in the abstract mathematical realm of set theory, this paradox has often been adapted as the Liar’s paradox: “(a): This statement (a) is false.” The statement, when true, declares itself as false— a contradiction; when the statement is false, it declares itself as true (which it explicitly says it isn’t).
Olson exploits this paradox, as iterated on page 277, to raise an interesting question about the nature of representation and the effects it has when self-referencing. By telling the reader what he was going to say, in effect, Maximus already retells his story contradicting its opening statement. Yet Maximus ultimately gives up, not realizing he has already achieved his goal, by stating at the end of the poem (its still a poem isn’t it?), “I want that sense [like a horseman ut of some English novel] here, of this fellow going home,” this at once reaffirms the sense he tries to evoke though the page, while at the same time ruining it by stating it outright.

Entry 10: Page 258-286

Laura (Oct 15, 2009 10:47 PM)
Entry 10 – 258-286 tesserae
commissure
II.99 Elements of the making, bound. Butterick offers Jung’s use of “commissure” in the cosmogonic bond of Saturn and Jupiter “union of extreme
opposites” (Aion 77). Northeastern fish yoked to southwestern fish. Yoke = commissure.
These words, themselves objects, placed, tesserae underlined, speak locally to the Maximus Poems and extensively to poems, as a whole – that they are not logically arranged, they are built of pieces of abstract patterns that join/cohere as a whole. Olson, in many of his essays and in poems themselves, insists that language be obedient to the breath rather than logic (logos). He argues the abstractions of logos must be held in check; the breath must transformed into text. Keats’ negative capability is also echoed in the suggestion of these words.
Later in the poem, the “mosaic” is embodied: “until human beings came back,/until human beings//were the streets of the soul//love was in their wrinkles.” [III.16]. Also explicitly present in II. 156, 157, 173. There is the sense here the poet is assuring/reinstating that everything has been allowed in the poem AND everything within the poem connects (synchronicity in phenomena – connection between local and universal – cue Whitehead). For the sake of review, here are the most dominant reoccurring happenings/images thus far: Earth’s axial tilt/wobble; polis (Gloucester/eyes/sea/seeing/the local, its change); the twist (fylfot; flower/nasturtium, mole, earth, sea, screw (axis mundi), sex); bull (Merry, Tartaros, Gilgamesh, Okeanos); mythos (all over the map); engendered earth; the settling of, and present, America/Gloucester; the Virgin Mary; fishermen. “tesserae/ commissure” insists that no aspect of the mosaic of the text is disconnected from the whole.
“CHRONICLES”, an exploration of Phonecian myth (heavily informed by Graves’ Greek Myths and Cyrus Gordon’s Before the Bible), unfolds
as the mythological evidence for/of a historical migration (early African crossing / 2000 BC settling of eastern Mediterranean). Butterick quotes
as the mythological evidence for/of a historical migration (early African crossing / 2000 BC settling of eastern Mediterranean). Butterick quotes Olson on this significance of this space/time, which “is the millennium of the general overthrow of the ancient settled world, which was neither East nor West, and the bringing into existence of what, if unclear, comes through to us…” and in a later essay, “…a king Agenor was in power at Tyre at 1540 B.C., the date of the ‘rape of Europe’ by the bull Zeus, who carried her off to southern Crete; and that this “Agenor” had come to Canaan* from Lybia [who was his ‘mother’ –and his ‘father, the myth says, was ‘Poseidon,’…”(qtd in Butterick 389).    The sources Olson was working with illustrate the intensity of movement during the second millennia BC & the implications of this migration, for the goddess & local deities, unfold through the poem, as Zeus rapes Europe and rises to power. Movement not described, but enacted.
Here there’s an interesting parallel – the poem tracks the development/migration/translation of local myths and the same movement within language. Zeus pillaging local god/desses & the divorce of word from its meaning (as seen in Plato’s Cratylus -400 BC). Geographic and linguistic stories appear in parallel/concentric rotations throughout the text.

Entry 10: Page 258-286

10 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:13 PM)
.​Entry 10 In the Face of a Chinese View of the City seems to reflect a view of the city like an aerial view of the city in Chinese tapestries. He is “criticiz[ing] the City Manager” for not having this expansive view of the city that is both all encompassing and particular, as in tapestries.
Pages 260 and 261 mirror each other again, and mention “whortleberry juice” the Shamanic psychedelic that was used by the Eskimos. Olson believed that the Algonquins also used it. This connects it to “the man with the house on his head” who could also be the shaman, who carries in his head a portal to the other world. Anne Waldman has spoken of how when she saw Olson read for the first time in Royal Albert Hall in London, Olson danced, moving his arms and legs while he read his poems like a shaman.
Page 263 deals with the slow Mediterranean migration from Cyprus to Spain. Cyprus is an island like Gloucester. Cyprus is the birthplace of Aphrodite. Then Spain is the last European frontier before the Atlantic. The other islands mentioned in this poem all are known to have relics of Goddess figurines.
Notice “grapevine corner” on pp 264 directly across from “Grapevine Road” on pp 265. “Blue monster” is Typhon who appears on the next page. Pp 269 “tesserae” is “the little pieces of music” and “commissure” is bound together. Just two words on the page put much expression within their interrelation between each other.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 11: Page 289-314

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Oct 7, 2009 7:01 PM)

The Maximus Poems Reading Response 11: p 289-314 Olson’s Signature “In the harbor
Can 9    Nun 8 Nun 10    Can 11
Charles Olson
Friday November 23rd”
p 302
The first characteristic I noticed about this fragment with an entire page to itself was that Charles Olson actually signed the poem; he has only dated poems or occasionally signed them Maximus, but never signed them with his actual name. Perhaps this is just Olson making the reader over-analyze the page for no reason, a “made-you-look” of sorts, but I’m going to assume that this page must hold significance worth further exploring. Professor Campion mentioned in class that the central square of words and numbering was the Maya Calendar, which I am unfamiliar with and was unable to find the relation of “Can” and “Nun” to online. However, I did immediately notice that the 4 words and numbers placement form a fylfot. The fylfot even spins clockwise (if you count the numbers backward) or counterclockwise (if you count the numbers forward) starting in the upper right corner, so even when presented sedentary, the fylfot has a sense of movement. Relating to the fylfot is the theme of fours; the fylfot, like the Can-Nun placement is divided into four segments, like the seasons. There are also four syllables in the first line preceding the “Can-Nun” segement, “In the harbor,” as well as in Charles Olson’s signature itself.
As far as the content is concerned, the first line is simple to extract meaning from. Olson continuously returns to the theme of the harbor, or fishing, and of the personal Odyssey. However, the fact that the line is “in the harbor,” implies stagnancy, or awaiting for the journey to begin, or perhaps as completing the journey and finally finding home. Olson leaves it ambiguous as to whether he is referring to the beginning of the end, which portrays how they are circularly connected, as further pushed forth by the inclusion of a “stagnant” but moving fylfot. The meaning of “can” and “nun,” other than in relation to the Maya Calendar, is also somewhat ambiguous. However, “nun” obviously can be connected to religious nuns, who devote their lives to God–the wordplay here is “none,” signifying an emptiness, and therefore implying the emptiness behind “religion,” or America’s definition of such. “Can” could relate to canneries, so again returns to the common theme of commercial fishing, al la Melville. Unfortunately I could not make much more of the content of the only signed page, so I do feel in some way this is Olson’s teaser, but even in these few words Olson is able to use the “radical” method and refer back to his crucial themes discussed throughout The Maximus Poems.”

Entry 11: Page 289-314

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Oct 8, 2009 11:06 AM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 11, Pp. 289-314
Maximus outlines his epistemological concerns never explicitly but metaphorically. I think, in doing this, he is suggesting that we do not attain knowledge only by instruction but also by searching for it ourselves. When we make our own discoveries, it means more than when we are told outright what something means. He layers his thoughts on epistemology in such a fashion that it requires some effort on the readers’ part to understand it. This might be malicious; it might be him poking fun at our tendency to overlook very meaningful details, but it is probably just his way of pushing us, once again,
to figure things out for ourselves.
For instance, in 300 pages he has rarely used the words “wisdom” and “knowledge. Instead he veils his references by using the token “Saint Sophia” (308). It turns out this Saint Sophia was not actually a woman at all. No woman was ever canonized under this name; this Sophia never existed. Very bizarre. Apparently, the Catholic Church appreciated Holy Wisdom enough to anthropomorphize it. In any case, Saint Sophia was the patron saint of wisdom, and Maximus calls her “our / lady of bon voyage,” suggesting that knowledge incarnate also resembles a patron of good travel. There is a connection here between wisdom (or the attaining of it) and travel (or any such purposeful movement).
Always recursive, Olson introduces again the character who has a house on his head (311). One notable difference is that now this character is set in a constant state of motion—i.e., he is walking and walking and walking. Last time he was walking but only so that he could trade his belongings for other greater possessions. But now, Maximus characterizes him as “he who walks with his house on his head is heaven.” This is reminiscent of the line “Paradise is a person” (240). Olson does not always capitalize the first words in lines, and so his capitalization of “Paradise” could arguably have a more divine connotation, if you want to interpret it as such. If not, we could interpret heaven and paradise as more secular utopias. In any event, we are learning a little more about the person who is paradise/heaven; he walks, he moves. Saint Sophia is the patron of wisdom, and she is also the lady of good travel. Perhaps with all these metaphors, Olson is reiterating that heaven /paradise/utopia can be reached only by a man whose fortune is his head (his brain, his knowledge), and also if this man uses this knowledge to move him forward.

Entry 11: Page 289-314

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 12, 2009 6:54 PM)
“[If] He was killed outright they would all be in danger / of their lives (upon a rock at Cape Ann, Josselyn, Rarities / Discovered in Birds, Fishes, Serpents and Plants, London” (291).
The parenthesis that precedes “upon” opens a karmic chain (291). The parenthetical phrase does not close with “)” and it does not terminate with a full stop. Instead, “(” projects the material that follows it all the way to London and, because there is not a period, beyond. If the English kill the serpent, karma–literally cause and effect–will push through a chain of interconnected things. Because Maximus uses a single parenthesis that opens and does not close, one might get the sense of a cause–the serpent’s death–opening a chain of effects that goes on infinitely. It is not just an angry god that the English should fear; they should fear a greater power of cause and effect.
the light hangs from the wheel of heaven
the great Ocean in balance
the air is as wide as the light (296)
The “great Ocean / in balance” rests in the center of a wheel. The “light hangs / from the wheel of heaven,” then the lowest line, “the air is as wide as the light,” points back to the “light [that] hangs.” In other words, this series starts and ends with “the light.” Not only does this series suggest a wheel, but it also suggests a scale. The “air [that] is as wide as the light” rests on the heavy end. There is a sense of balance, however, because the heavy end cycles back to the beginning “light.”
The line, “writing / at the stile,” presents a wall or fence and a mode of crossing a wall or fence (299). To pass over a fence on a stile, one starts on one side, climbs steps, turns (sometimes), then descends to the other side. “Crossing over” is a phrase that can refer to adopting or appealing to fans of a different style of music, writing, etc. The phrase can also refer to the “hereafter.” If one crosses over, one traverses a barrier and accesses THE other side. Adopting a new style is also a struggle–a climb–that ends with a descent into new territory.

Entry 11: Page 289-314

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 14, 2009 12:01 AM)
These lines contain an attitude of active participation in the birth of self, and Maximus celebrates this being as a poet.
The phrase “out over the land skope” view” provides an example (296). We normally consider the phrase landscape; using land skope implies an active role, and it connotes an experience during which one looked out onto the land and considered everything within his scope. All that one is capable of seeing upon this viewing is inclusive in his definition of the “land scope”. Land scape seems to render the act of viewing in the impersonal past tense, leaving the definiton of the view previously defined by another viewer, whereas land scope is a way of presently, directly, engaging in the viewing of the land. A few lines later on the same page, the idea of utilizing energy is echoed in the phrase “the scoop out of the surface of the earth”. It is interesting to describe a cove in this manner, but it makes one think of plate tectonics and earth processes, and the action of millenia culminating in a present state.
In considering his birt as a poet “Wrote my first poems … at Kent Circle at Kunt Circle” (299). The pun on Kunt Circle makes again the geography of his birth mythical and implicit in sexual processes. His identity as a writer has implicit ties with “exactly 300 years writing”, meaning that one’s present life is not his whole identity. Maximus is active as a poet, and it is an exhausting process: “went off to New York by the Boston boat…completely smothering …until i couldnt stand”. I feel like this refers to the “box upon the sea” that concludes the volume on page 373. The writing process makes Maximus an active part of the determination of future mythology: “not the intaglio method or skating on the luxurious indoor rink but Saint Sophia herself our lady of bon voyage” (308). Hope my ideas wont get too jumbled in translation here. His writing is linked with the image of ice skating. By writing, he is making an impression into the
earth, like an ice skate into the ice. Saint Sophia is similarly shown to be part of mythology in bringing the world into the present by her emissary, the serpant. The cutting into the ice is linked, of course, with the cut, which is linked with the reproductive regenerative forces of the energies of the earth, and the active participants of saint sophia, here, as she is linked wiht the ice.
To go forward, one must look back; see the retrospective repeitions of many previously related images of walking with a house on his head, etc. i think this retrospective action is a lot of what this section of the poem is about.

Entry 11: Page 289-314

11 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:17 PM)
Entry 11 “The earth with a city in her hair/ entangled of trees” represents the earth holding the city like a garland in her hair
(289). In Book VI Olson’s view keeps getting bigger and bigger, telling the story of history and myth entwined together. “And now let all the ships come in” continues the journey inward while we are also traveling outward(290). In “the Return the Flower/ the Gift and the Alligator catches” words take on multiple meanings. These are names of ships in Gloucester, but it also represents a return to the black chrysanthemum and the gift of the serpent. These abiding primordial forces which Olson is continually probing.
Just “Barbara Ellis, ramp” on one big page(292). When Vincent Ferinni asked Olson which definition of ramp he meant, Olson laughingly said all of them. This exemplifies Olson paradoxical particular expansive mind or sloppy mind, or more probably both.
“Veda Upanishad edda than” is another example of Olson’s compressed poetics(298). From Olson’s complex intertwined thinking one can see how Language poetry picked on from the impenetrable/ penetrable texture of his language. Charles Bernstein has written about how the poetry, the poem, can contain a thought larger than the mind can hold. With the juxtaposition of two Indic eras of myth and a Nordic myth parallel in title and in content to its Indic counterpart, plus the word “than” Olson fishes out a whole string associations. One feels as though they are jumping across cultures with sparse words. “I am the Gold Machine and now I have trenched out, smeared, occupied” has Whitmanic overtones because it embodies his opposition, his antagonist, the destroyer of earth and the greed for gold. But he is also describing his job as the writer, markng the page. “not the intaglio method or skating/ on the luxurious indoor rink/ but Saint Sophia herself our/ lady of bon voyage” picks up images from Pound’s Pisan and Rock Drill cantos. Here Olson infers that he is not cutting or writing, but simply letting the Goddess/Saint embodiment of wisdom shine forth on the page.

Entry 11: Page 289-314

Laura (Oct 21, 2009 4:53 PM)
Laura Entry 11 The dense title “HEPIT NAGA ATOSIS” [II.121] is worth unpacking for insight into the text’s intent. Butterick states the title is taken from a
plate in Algonquin Legends in New England*, which depicts a serpent of a pond visited by an adulteress (Butterick 409). Hepit is the Hurrian
plate in Algonquin Legends in New England*, which depicts a serpent of a pond visited by an adulteress (Butterick 409). Hepit is the Hurrian (of the Hittites – modern Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc.) goddess of the sky. Cybele, who also appears in the MP, is her Phrygian counterpart. Naga is Sanskrit for snake (specifically, the King Cobra), Atosis is Algonquin for “serpent”. Thus, in one title, the text has spanned the globe in linguistics and myth. Quite fittingly, “entwined/ throughout/ the system,” [II.121].
The serpent relates to Okeanos, the zodiac, cathodic power of the earth, the Gloucester seamonster, and the Dogstar (Sirius), who appears a few pages later, “the diadem of the Dog/ which is morning/ rattles again” (II. 123). Interesting to note the heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile. The constellation was used by the Polynesians for Pacific Ocean navigation, and associated with the dog days of summer for the Greeks. In Chinese astrology, the star is known as the celestial wolf (Wikepedia). Apparent in the poem fragment on II. 123, and elsewhere throughout the text, is the insistnace on the connection between the serpent and the dog, in “myth” as function, in the heavens and on earth.
Dogtown and Okeanos appear together embodied in text and imbued with geologic/sexual movement in on II.126, where the text opens into a field composed prodominetly of short couplets. “the light hangs/ from the wheel of heaven” could suggest the Sirius constellation. Texts/concepts come together in this poem in a movement toward oneness—the illusory and the real, inner and outer man, sea and river, air and light, Okeanos (primordial force) and “the father” (creator/concept of creator). Whereas other places in the book where poems are openend in the field of the page seem to have a disruptive, forceful energy, this section is more contemplative, with a lean toward the prophetic.
Other places in the text I would like to draw attention to –
II.302 – the sense of buoys periplum / evocation of Mayan Calendar
II.113 Kent Circle Song – return of the dream cake walls – suggesting Hansel & Grettle & with the woman walking out into the mountain myth that follows, the text suggests an anxiety in losing the embodied woman.
II. 138-144 – Mary/Sophia – text suggests the way to the soul is through the female/feminine. II.141 – Steinian / Derrida – suggests “all of this, all the time”
II. 142 – see Algonquin myth below. Serpent is engendered male. Sacrificial woman – From section II:
she had to die if she could not pass, by fucking, the poison on if her husband would not fuck her and die by fucking she could not get rid of the poison after
she had fucked with the king of the pool
Section III relates to the story of the woman on II.21 who becomes one with the serpent : “…The woman/ who had taken off her clothes, embraced/ the creature, which twined around her, winding inside/ her arms and legs, until her body was one mass/ of his.”
I’m interested in the juxtaposition of these two stories – in one a woman needing to fuck the serpent (life force) to get rid of her poison and live, and in the other, a woman is fucked by the mountain (geologic earth) and is joyful, happy, etc. without sense of doom. What to make of this?
*    You can access this book in text format at: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/6803/pg6803.html The images aren’t available in this format, but here is the legend that accompanies the image which Olson is exploring:
Of the Woman who loved a Serpent who lived in a Lake. (Passamaquoddy.)
Of old times. There was a very beautiful woman. She turned the heads of all the men. She married, and her husband died very soon after, but she immediately took another. Within a single year she had five husbands, and these were the cleverest and handsomest and bravest in the tribe. And then she married again.
This, the sixth, was such a silent man that he passed for a fool. But he was wiser than people thought. He came to believe, by thinking it over, that this woman had some strange secret. He resolved to find it out. So he watched her all the time. He kept his eye on her by night and by day.
It was summer, and she proposed to go into the woods to pick berries, and to camp there. By and by, when they were in the forest, she suggested that he should go on to the spot where they intended to remain and build a wigwam. He said that he would do so. But he went a little way into the woods and watched her.
As soon as she believed that he was gone, she rose and walked rapidly onwards. He followed her, unseen. She went on, till, in a deep, wild place among the rocks, she came to a pond. She sat down and sang a song. A great foam, or froth, rose to the surface of the water. Then in the foam appeared the tail of a serpent. The creature was of immense size. The woman, who had laid aside all her garments, embraced the serpent, which twined around her, enveloping all her limbs and body in his folds. The husband watched it all. He now understood that, the venom of the serpent having entered the woman, she had saved her life by transferring it to others, who died.
He went on to the camping ground and built a wigwam. He made up two beds; he built a fire. His wife came. She was earnest that there should be only a single bed. He sternly bade her lie by herself. She was afraid of him. She laid down, and went to sleep. He arose three times during the night to replenish the fire. Every time he called her, and there was no answer. In the morning he shook her. She was dead. She had died by the poison of the serpent. They sunk her in the pond where the snake lived.
Re: olson 11 – Laura (Oct 22, 2009 11:16 AM)
cathodic- as in cathode – “an electrode through which electric current flows…” – from Gr. descent or ‘way down’ — ” the cathode is where the current leaves the electrolyte, on the West side: “kata downwards, `odos a way ; the way which the sun sets” (Wikepedia)

Entry 11: Page 289-314

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 10, 2009 6:16 AM)
Olson begins the letter found on page 291 with the compounded title “HEPIT•NAGA•ATOSIS,” all referencing various connected deities from disconnected cultures: Hepit, a Hurrian goddess possibly related to Hebat, often depicted riding a lion; Naga, a Hindu/Buddhist deity class taking the form of large snakes; Atosis, from Abenki (native American) mythology, taking on both a snake and human form. Referencing the serpent imagery twice in the title alone, Olson continues to draw out its implications in the content of the first few lines: “entwined/ throughout/ the system,” (291 lns 1-3). Keeping with the snake imagery these first lines reference the elliptic band often referred to as a serpent in astrological muthos “system”. When the subjects “saw” a serpent in the next line, one can only assume that this serpent carries an astrological relevance.
Also important is the repetition of Indians, an echo of “ATOSIS” from the title. According the Abenaki tradition (according to wikipedia at least), Atosis would force people to find a stick so that he can cook them with. this idea casts a shadow over the later lines “they would have shot the Serpents but the Indians/ dissuaded them. saying/ that if He was killed outright they would all be in danger/ of their lives.” For one, if they destroy the serpent, in its astrological associations at least, they would loose track of where they are physically, the stars and planets being key to early navigation techniques, as suggested by the ending ‘cartographic’ lines: “(upon a rock at cape Ann…” (ln. 9). More interesting is the association with the deities in the title and the idea that killing the serpant, to a certain extent, would kill that mysterious and binding muthos that kept them connected.
Perhaps the inclusion of HEPIT, the only deity in the title that doesn’t quite fit, suggests the conflict. As she is often seen riding a Lion, a common image of bold propensity, Hepit here could aim blows at the beast of mercantilism and early English imperialism.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 12: page 315-344

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Oct 13, 2009 2:01 AM)

The Maximus Poems Reading Response 12: p 315-344 Uniting a Duality- p 317
The entirety of the poem on p 317 contains an unsettling sense of conflict and a lack of unity. Contrast between the mother and father and the male and female is particularly apparent–not in a representation of balance, but of chaos. Though Olson does appear to struggle to find balance throughout the page, and despite the concluding phrase “was very glad,” there is no resolution. Beginning with the phrase “to enter into our bodies,” Olson references the feminine Cut, while implying an intrusion. By following this line with a reference to Earth and then to “Mother Dogtown,” Olson alludes to Mother Earth, which then leads into “Father Sea,” a separate entity from the physical soil or earth, but an entity that lives on Mother Earth. Here lies the struggle for unity, as the Sea and the Earth make up the world.
Olson then personalize the poem by connecting Father Sea to his father; like Father Sea “comes to the skirt of the city” (again implying an intrusion on the feminine), his father comes to the shore. Following the description of his father coming to the shore, Olson then states that the “polyphony comes to the shore,” which brings a sense of chaos, but chaos attempting to harmonize within itself. By describing his father as “dust in the water,” Olson unites the sea with the earth, extended further with the reference to the Monogene. However, “in the water, he was floating away,” suggesting that Olson cannot find the balance between the male and female, even as he insists “oh I wouldn’t let my Father get away.”
Mother is only referenced once in this final portion of the poem and it is in a command to “turn your head and quick” to look at the father. The father does return to the shore and enter the “skirt of the city,” which is again an intrusion on the feminine. Though Olson “welcomed him & was very glad,” this only proves that the father dominates the balance in the end. The mother is excluded from this welcoming happiness, but only allowed to watch, or commanded to watch. She also never enters the sea, as the father enters the land, thus the balance is unequal and the duality of the male and female remains detrimental.

Entry 12: page 315-344

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Oct 13, 2009 3:45 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 12, Pp. 315-344
Olson, in speaking of Gravel Hill, satirizes man’s occasional arrogance—the arrogance that prompts him to think he can make direct demands of the land on which (but really from which) he lives. The earth would never hope, much less pray to gods, that “something” would be done about the people who live on/from it (330). Are men then incorrect in expecting God or whomever to change the land to better suit him? The converse seems more obviously ridiculous, but Olson’s parallelization of it to man’s demands helps to reveal man’s mal-interpretation of the land’s and God’s obligation to us.
He juxtaposes the sentiment that “the Earth was properly regarded as a ‘garden” with the reality that he has “had lunch / in this ‘pasture,’” demonstrating that reverence does not preclude use. Andfurther,hecommentsthat“[i]tisnotbad/tobepissedoff/wherethereisany/condition imposed, by whomever, no matter how close” (330-1). We are surrounded by restrictions placed “by whomever” on us and on others, and Olson is reminding us that we ought to be upset and angered by external limitations. These are only pseudo-limitations, after all. They constrict us only insofar as we allow them to. In his anthropomorphication of Gravelly Hill, Olson applauds the hill’s awareness of his “end,” not necessarily his mortality but his borders—his environment, his
neighbors, his limits (331).
neighbors, his limits (331).
In “Maximus, From Dogtown – IV], ” one of his recurrent recounts of Hesiod’s Theogony, Olson introduces another motif, the states of being above and below. He reminds us that “below / is a factor of being” and “underneath is […] the vault / of Heaven” (335). The underworld and the characteristics of the underworld are as much a part of us as the positive, Heavenly aspects. The underworld exists because we have those demonic characteristics. The poem is double-spaced, and between the lines “…the vault” and “of Heaven,” he interposes “you aren’t all train.” Perhaps this is a necessary interjection in that Olson does not want to discourage us by commenting that “below / is a factor of being” but instead wants to encourage us to acknowledge that we cannot be steady, train-like objects all the time. That would be boring, but worse, it would be disloyal to who we are as dynamic beings—wave-like beings, characterized by above AND below.

Entry 12: page 315-344

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 14, 2009 11:26 AM)
this section deals with Maximus’s origins, and as such, how he relates to the maternal and paternal energies of mythological earth development. These gender energies are his limitations: “this is a precis of land I am shod in, my father’s shoes”. The female, though, continues to take an ambiguous form in “The Frontlet” on page 315. As “the Virgin held up on the bull’s horns”, she is at once “the great goddess Tauroplus”, the manifestation of the eternal feminine by which Merry sought to regenerate and better his soul in “Maximus, from dogtown – I”, and Europa, who is carried by Zeus as a bull, and one who has no dominating presence as such. I notice that the feminine does continue to be passive: “unnoticed heads and body of Dogtown secretly come to overlook the city” (315). This makes the female rule uncomfortable. What is the difference between Nut and Ptah? Where is the appropriate place for the father? Is Maximus seeking patriarchal revenge: “Oh I wouldn’t let my father get away” (317). Why is this diametrically opposed to aiding, or protecting the Mother: “I cried out to my Mother ‘turn your head and quick”?
“And Earth – is made of grout … “I slept putting things together which had not previously fit” (326-7). Maximus is attempting to fill in the cracks with this grout. The female earth is continually imagined in a circular shape, as inverted horns, the cut, a cup. The metaphor of Maximus’s writing, then, extends to be like the grout that fills in the sexual space of the repressed feminine, making his writing a generative act. Why is this act of “putting things together which not previously fit”, and making things more complete and whole modified by the act of sleeping, and dreaming? “Stage Fort Park”, too, is a reflection of a dream-state linked with sexual acts with the earth (321). It is during this dream that Maximus states, “I have eaten my father piece by piece and I loved my cannibalism” (321). I do see some Oedipal allusions, with Maximus wanting to save the mother earth in sexual terms, and by getting rid of the father figure. Honestly I have no explanation, but the link between copulation with the earth and dreaming is definitely there, and needs to be considered.

Entry 12: page 315-344

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 15, 2009 1:49 AM)
Because “Father Sea” comes to “the skirt / of the City,” he is in some sense invasive (317). Though the sea can appear interminable and violent, one can understand water as a passive, nourishing element that conforms to its surroundings. Water, then, both invades land and adjusts to it.
With the speaker’s father, “the polyphony” comes “to the shore” (317). The independent melodic parts–the various tesserae–combine to form one piece. The father is a “Monogene,” a single tessera, that has a place in the whole. Indeed, he should not “get away” because the whole requires him to be complete (317). What is his role? Must he be a tyrannical Zeus?
“([S]he is the goddess / of earth and heaven and sea)” (320).
She is the mother of everything. “Nut is in the world,” and because she gives birth to the sun, she is responsible for life (320). As the sky contains the world, the parentheses contain everything on Earth. If one removes the text within the parentheses, one has two halves of a circle. One has a whole. Perhaps “she” should be outside the parenthetical phrase–she(“is the goddess / of earth and heaven and sea)”–to express her dominion over everything (320). Maybe
“she” should not sit outside the parentheses, however, because she rules both over and through everything: “one is not removed even in passing through / the air” (320).
In class, we understood the underlined portions of words as references to etymological roots. “Fa” in “father of Odin,” for example, provides the essence of the word’s meaning, and one can see this simply by looking at “mother” (325). Phonetic units, phonemes, combine to make morphemes, the smallest units of meaning, which combine to make words (a single word, such as “dog,” can be a morpheme also). All of these words combine to ultimately form a language; they are tesserae in a mosaic.

Entry 12: page 315-344

12 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:18 PM)
Entry 12 THE FRONTLET: The Portuguese where the first explorers to reach Glocester. “Our Lady of Good Voyage” is the original muse mentioned in the beginning, near page one of the Maximus Poems. She ensures the poem to have a good voyage. The virgin, whose name is Mary (Merry the man wrestled the bull), wrestles the bull. The act of wrestling represents both the act of lovemaking and the act of fighting. The virginal powers wrestling with the Bull with his big cajones, his testosterone, shows male and female powers continually entwined. Our lady is connected to Potnia, a mistress poet who is also connected to Pseidon(316). Gylfaginning VI: is a myth from the Edda. Of a cow licking out a man from an encasement of ice. And then the man kills and eats the cow. Here Olson continues to show the interplay of the chthonic forces. “Heaven is made of stone” is Olsons investigation into the origin of Name(326). The greek Uranos, the heaven, is the son of Akamos, which means stone in sanskrit. Therefore the “sky is made of stone.” On the next page Olson quotes a dream journal of his. He compares himself to the priests for Demeter who where in charge of the Eleusinian Mysteries. “I slept/ putting things together/which had not previously/ fit” describes the healing process on the consciences during REM cycles, but it also describes Olson’s process of how he composed his poem. Dream and reality are merged. MAXIMUS, FROM DOGTOWN—IV is a return to the birth of Aphrodite. And the overtaking of Zeus of is father Chronos. His father’s castration resulted in Aphrodite’s birth. Could the castration of Olson’s literary father, Pound, result in the beauty of his poem?

Entry 12: page 315-344

Laura (Nov 3, 2009 11:15 AM)
[MAXIMUS FROM DOGTOWN – IV]
Early in the poem Tartaros appears “chained in being” and guarded by O’Briaeros (a hundred-armed serpent (octopus)). Tartaros is both a place and a diety in the underworld, and, according to Hesoid, “he third force to manifest in the yawning void of Chaos.”    . Orphic sources state Tartaros is origin, an “unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born” (Wikepedia)
The problem here is non-statistical proof: Earth ‘came into being’ extraordinarily early, #2 in fact directly following on appetite. Or
as it reads in Norse hunger, as though in the mouth (which is an occurrence, is ‘there’, stlocus ) [II.64]
Here, the text moves more directly into Norse mythology, and the connection to Tartaros’s yawning is made apparent. Butterick points to Fowler’s “Old Norse Religion” and the Norse Ginnunga Gap, “…It may mean ‘yawning gap’; or…it is the gap, or gaping void, or yawning open mouth, or gullet, of the being prior even to chaos. There are Vedic parallels, such as the source of all life in hunger.” (Fowler qtd. in Butterick 460). These lines suggests, parallel to much indigenous thought, that the “coming into being” of the earth occurred because of desire. And this desire emanates from the “yawn” / “gap” / “chaos” / “void”. In Olson’s text, it’s embodied as a cunt or a hole in the Earth. The poem argues hunger (desire) is rooted in the local; hence, “stlocus”, which Butterick quotes Olson as describing as “lost Latin of ‘local” or the original Latin word for local (460-1). The poem is heavily influenced by Whitehead’s writings on the connection between local and universal phenomenon. The text argues, that to penetrate the local (quite literally), one must penetrate the universal, and in doing so, one knows the local
and by extension, the universal. And this act, to the speaker (Olson/Maximus) is restorative and regenerative to voice and phenomenon, text and
and by extension, the universal. And this act, to the speaker (Olson/Maximus) is restorative and regenerative to voice and phenomenon, text and the myth it enacts, and language itself. The local as site of desire is echoed in a preceding poem, Stage Fort Park:
the giant river ran over and caught where ground itself is a fucking hole [II. 151]. Back to “[MAXIMUS FROM DOGTOWN – IV]”
This poem seems pivotal, or if not pivotal, as in the text turning around it, rather remarkable, in that much comes together in word/story/myth in a confident voice. The subsequent poem states the consciousness of this coherence: “I looked up/ and saw/ its form/ through everything/ –it is sewn/ in all parts, under/ and over” [173]. But before proceeding forward, which is really just around, I would like to take a closer look at the role of Tartarós in the former poem.
the statistical (stands) outside the Stream, Tartarós is beyond
the gods beyond hunger outside the ends and sources of Earth
Heaven Ocean’s Stream: O’Briareos
helped out by Poseidon by being given Cymopolea, P’s daughter, for wife sort of only superintends the other two jailers of those
tied up in Tartarós—and those two, [in other words below below – below is a factor of being, underneath is a matter this is like the vault
you aren’t all train of Heaven it counts
if you leave out those roots of Earth which run down through Ocean to ends of Ocean as well the foundations of Ocean
…. [II. 164-5]
This section seems to weave (in an attempt to blend –and maybe it blends, effectively) sources for the dominance, or coming into power, of control factors in the environment (alongside the question of origin—that is, coming into being). Having not gotten to Whitehead’s Process and Reality yet, I am limited to Butterick’s qtd. of Whitehead in relation to “the statistical”: “The argument, as to the statistical basis of probability, then recurred to the doctrine of social order. According to this doctrine, all social order depends on the statistical dominance in the environment of occasions belonging ot the requisite societies. The laws of nature are statistical laws derived from this fact” (Whitehead, Process and Reality 293 qtd in Butterick 463). The text places this statistical happening “outside/ the Stream”, the embodied, mythopoetic force of Okeanos, and of the “coming into being” of Earth. The question is asked, in the text, which receives value in its “explanation” of phenomenon – the statistical (math/philosophy) or the primal and universal. Or, perhaps, the question is not “valuing” but a sense of the undertaking/understanding of one process vs. another, and the implications for this, in the project of reinstating and creating a life-affirming world (or what Carla Billiteri refers to as, the “renewal of society”).
In the above excerpt, Tartarós is beyond phenomena – “gods” and “hunger”, and like “the statistical”, stands “…outside/ the ends and sources of the earth”. The following lines suggest chaos – or the drama of the gods – is engulfed in Tartarós, which at first, seems contradictory, as how can a thing/force/locality (Tartarós) embody something (these Norse/Titan myths) it is at once outside of? (In the world/ of the world).
The text then shifts from this emphasis in the locality of “outside” to “underneath”, and a flashback/forward to the golden flower, its roots growing up. Later, the poem states,
…Tartarós lies so thoroughly out ‘below’ but ‘outside’

… Tartarós was once ‘ahead’ of Heaven was prior to (in coming into being) this ‘child’ of earth: Tartaros was next after earth (as Earth was next after hunger itself…

Tartarós in which all who have been by statutory thrown down or over thrown, are kept watch on Night and Day
..[notice no accent]
***
Heaven himself the 2nd, Kronos who acted for his mother in de-maleing his father
is in Tartarós away from all the gods

Typhon Is in Tartarós,
… [II. 170] *** [Enter Typhon- Tartarós love child with Earth, who is also connected to the “End of the World”
The story continues with Zeus fighting Typhon and locking him up in Tartaros (with no accent, perhaps the (meta)physical location as opposed to the characterized force). Earth reacted to this dominant overthrow of Zeus, the “Giant” with the movement of plates/eruption of volcanoes – geologic force. Tartarós – After hunger and Earth, yet before Love, “in the figure of the goddess born/ of the frith from her father’s Heaven’s…”
Space/time come together in “—as Night had Heaven the night/ his son had hurled off his parts” [II. 172]. These lines suggest the same “Night” or within the locality of the Night that Zeus fought Typhon, Heaven and Earth consummated to create goddess, Love, Aphrodite.
OK not sure if much insight came about here – more-so trying to follow the text. Olson seems to replace Whitehead’s “statistical dominance” with a dominance of perspective, of seeing or locating stance in time from a variety of perspectives. Most present in this poem, underneath. Hopefully in other posts I’ll investigate the use of the underline further. For now, I’ll end where it seems the eyes are in this poem, where the poem nearly argues eyes must be, for the full impossible totality of reality to cohere, or at least, be seen: “ ‘Themethlois/ the lowest part the bottom tithemi/” [II. 168].
Evelyn-White, via Hesoid, via Butterick (466). –Themethlois – “upon ocean’s foundations”
Tithemi – to place/root/set – to put/makefast (from Rose via Butterick 466).
The poem ends with “#” – a number sign in italics, a sharp (in music), a pound. A symbol put into motion.

Entry 12: page 315-344

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 10, 2009 6:17 AM)
Olson’s fascination with diorite towards the end of book two illuminates the magnitude and weight of his work. Diorite is a rare mineral prized in ancient civilizations for its strength and workability. Widespread usage includes cultures from pre-colonial America (Maya/Aztec) as well as Egypt and early Middle Eastern civilizations. Such exegesis reinforces a reading of an interconnected human ‘force’ that precipitates common attributes and synchronicities between distant and isolated civilizations.
On page 326, Olson writes: Heavan, as sky sky is made of stone (Diorite – ex- garnitite) Tartaros’s threshold at least
is made of a metal native to itself And Earth – is made of grout This creates an interesting twist on the judeo-christian idea of heaven, hell (or Tartaros) and earth. Earth hear is depicted as grout, perhaps binding the two ends, heaven made of stone, and Tartaros made of a strange subterranean metal. While Heaven and Hell here are compared to substantive, yet mendable/workable nouns, Earth remains a verb, a testemant to the constant process of doing, or working, that Olson emphasises elsewhere in this section and previous sections.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 13: Page 345-373

13 – Joe Wolff (Oct 19, 2009 8:20 PM)

Entry 13 Olson gets more into the geography of it. While describing the tides in the Gulf of Maine, he lets his line emulate the
images of tides. Often it is hard to piece together everything that Olson is saying, but the flow of his words and how it looks on the page seems to carry it along. And the fact that he bases his poems on real places, often taken his descriptions directly from sources, gives it a certain realm that can’t be denied. Even if our only understanding is confusion we are walking through Olson’s world.
The “old Indian chief/ sat on the rock” is a reference to the old indigenous ways of looking at a landscape, which Olson feels close to. When Olson looks at a landscape he sees “a breeding ground for ghosts” (347). Calling the Tarntines, the Micmac Indian tribe, pests and intruders seems somewhat ironic because the white man is intruding on the Indian’s land.
As we get to the end of the second Volume Olson begins to revisit old themes from prior in the book. Light, flowers, the Virgin, Pau Oakley, Fort Point (351-353). The mention of Enyalion, the Cretan god of war spreading “the iron net” is important (354). Homer uses the name as an epithet for Ares. While Olson points back, he is also pointing forward. The “Tantrist/ sat saw/ on the lingam” is a subject rhyme for much of the material surrounding this phallic shaped poem.    The tantrist rhymes with the old Indian. Olson called himself a Tantrist. He got his definition from Jung’s Aion as a Scholar. In an interview as late as 69 Olson said “I am a Tantrist—that The Word is a book, that life is a book.” Olson has turned his reading of Gloucester and his surroundings into a book.

Entry 13: Page 345-373

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 20, 2009 12:05 AM)
This section, again, makes me return to the motif of dream in the Maximus poems. The first part of Fort Point Section includes images of wide-open spaces: “you drew the space in reticule / now spread the iron net, Enyalion” (354). A reticule is defined as “a network of fine lines, dots, cross hairs, or wire in the focal plane of the eyepiece of an optical instrument”. Using the word reticule here connotes an ability to see clearly through a seemingly complicated mechanism of seeing; the world, then, is like this network of fine lines, etc. With this freedom, he may now “spread the iron net” in reaping the benefits of understanding the mapping of the world; this is likened to the fruitfulness of a fisherman casting a net. Why iron, though, here? I have not fully worked out the inclusion of the word Enyalion, for we’ve seen it multiple times hereafter in the poem. I do know it is equated with a boundless being who is a part of a greater, more complex system. The dream, then, turns into something else in “Civic disaster”. I see disorientation in the unmapped world, with modern conceptions of a fruit as possession, in “cut[ing] their cherry tree down”, and the “threat that children’s parents would sue” (355). It is here that “the dirty whine of an automatic saw…woke me…the apple tree was gone”.
Page 367 brings images of war, and battlement. I see this as the battle to link man’s order with the earth’s order.
“The River Map and we’re done” brings in I-Ching. I find it odd that Maximus should base the world’s fate to probability and chance; this is a comment on relying on destiny as a realistic indicator of the future. I think it is more, though, to look at the world’s workings in a way that is measurable by statistics by cause of its cyclical nature.

Entry 13: Page 345-373

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Oct 20, 2009 1:01 AM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 13, Pp. 345-373
“I stand up on you, Fort Place,” Maximus declares, on an otherwise empty page (361). It is not atypical of Olson to leave pages blank or to include only small bits of text, but this is an especially short line. It stands on its own, as he stands on his own. As an assertion, this line seems gentle, honest, and vulnerable. It is reassuring but not pathetic. Maximus pays tribute—this time not with verbose metaphors—by crediting Fort Place with providing him with
something more than a place to reside and subsist; Fort Place bolsters and enlivens Maximus. It reads almost like a “Thank you, Mom;” it has that endearing quality that a child displays when she realizes for the first time how truly contingent her livelihood and well-being is on her mother. The brevity of the declaration makes it that much more meaningful; no purple prose, no qualifications, just a simple assessment of the situation.
The myth where the woman gets “fucked by / the mountain” becomes less and less descript with every allusion to it. On page 358, the female character is not referenced even by pronoun; there is no explicit subject at all. Does Olson condense the description because he has already explicated the myth for us earlier on, and he wants/needs only to remind us of it as he progresses? Perhaps he wants us to look at the “up and down” movements in the myth, as he writes on the next page (359). Into the hill, through the mountain, on the other side fucked by the mountain. Tracing her individual movements, Olson might be trying to assign more agency to her than he has previously. Originally she was almost victimized; she HAD to release the poison injected into her from the snake into her husbands via intercourse OR else she would die. But as the myth is outlined on P. 358, we are introduced only to her movements, and strangely enough, her character/name/pronoun is not mentioned. Just the movements. Her movements are able to characterize her well enough for the reader to be able to recognize the allusion. Are we characterized by our actions? Should we act as if our actions characterize us? It would certainly increase our self-awareness when we act, and maybe more fruitful actions would result?

Entry 13: Page 345-373

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 26, 2009 1:19 AM)
In some Tibetan Buddhist schools, the final path is Vajrayana, the diamond vehicle. Another route, the route that prepares some practitioners for Vajrayana, is Mahayana, the great(er) vehicle. Vajrayana teachings, in other words, refine and build on Mahayana teachings. Theravada Buddhism, a common school in Southeast Asia, adheres to a path known to Mahayanists as Hinayana, a pejorative term that means “lesser vehicle.” The Mahayana path is supposedly more venerable than the Hinayana path because Mahayanists work first to become bodhisattvas–to return to samsara after realizing enlightenment–for the benefit of sentient beings, then eventually to reach buddhahood. Hinayana Buddhists work to attain nirvana individually and become arhats. To Mahayanists, the Hinayana path is considered a selfish process. Arhats should, according to Mahayanists, work to become bodhisattvas.
Vajrayana Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, which is especially popular in Tibet. The few lines, “Tantrist / sat saw / on Lingam,” on page 360 of The Maximus Poemsbring to mind the Shiva-Linga and Hinduism, but because of my interest in Buddhism, I first think of Tantric Buddhism. One can understand the sitting and seeing “Tantrist” as a monk or a nun meditating and visualizing–or seeing–something (360). When one creates a sand mandala, one simultaneously visualizes an ideal mandala. When one meditates, one mentally builds a mandala while sitting in the center of the mandala.The “Tantrist” (perhaps Olson) sits, sees and visualizes “on the Lingam / of the City Hall 4 Wheels” (360). I don’t fully understand the image, which is perhaps because I have a limited knowledge of Hinduism. What do the four wheels refer to? Could they be the four points that surround the center (city halls are city centers) of the big wheel, the mandala?
“I looked up and saw its form through everything — it is sewn
in all parts, under and over” (343)
“Tantrist / [who] sat [and] saw” might in some way refer to this passage (360). “Its form” might be the twisting image that frequently appears in The Maximus Poems; the speakers in the poem seem to notice the twisting “form / through everything” (343). The large form, the complete mosaic, appears in the tesserae. In other words, the tesserae are monads; they are microcosms of the universe. The whole and the parts are one and the same.
Brittney Stanley- Entry 13, p345-373 – BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Oct 26, 2009 6:25 PM)
“Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 157” p. 347
The only non-indented portion of this poem beginning with “The house I live in” brings a story of what happened on the “back stairs” to the front of the establishment, or exposes the hidden underworld to the light. The passage contains a
brief summary of the personal anecdote told to Olson by Mr. Misuraca, whose mother claimed that the house was “a breeding ground of the ghosts of dogs.” The word dog is a teserae to Olson’s obsession with the Dogstar and Dogtown, the underbelly of society. Thus the ghosts of the underworld haunt society, or the occassional suppressed image of the underbelly rises to the surface, to the terror of “normal” society’s inhabitants.
The segment is littered with an excessive amount of commas, acting as a caesura between every or every other wrod. When read aloud, these commas force a pause of breath, thus sounding like a person hyperventilating in fear, attempting to repeat a horror, such as seeing a ghost. The commas also break up the section, implying a break or disjoint between the underworld and the seen society.
Olson plays on the concept of the society that is seen versus that whichis suppressed with the homophone”sight,” by describing the back stairs as “the sight of the story told me by Mr. Misuraca,” which should be “site.” However, by using the same sounding word with an entirely different meaning, Olson not only foretells that Mr. Misuraca’s mother will have a “sighting,” but also implies that the underbelly cannot always be hiiden and must be seen, like the society residing above ground.

Entry 13: Page 345-373

Laura (Nov 3, 2009 11:14 AM)
“Maximus, to Gloucester, Letter 157” opens with the scene that is repeated in various manifestations throughout the Maximus Poems, in both image and syntax:
an old Indian chief as hant sat on the rock between Tarantino’s and Mr Randazza’s…[II.177]
The poem, an exploration of the haunted quality of Dogtown, opens with this image, which reproduces, through narrative suggestion, the story of the Native American (Algonquin?) woman who “was fucked by/ the mountain” [II.188]. Often, throughout the poems, a contested body is presented “between” two factions.
Tarantino’s, Butterick offers, are actual residents of Olson’s Gloucester (475), and their name echoes the Tarentines, who appear later in the poem. The Tarentines (Micmac Indians from Nova Scottia) invaded the Penobscot Bay region in the early 1600s (Butterick 475). Also, “Tarentines” and “Tarantino’s” echoes “Tartaros,” (god of the underworld) present in previous poems from this volume. Olson’s use of the noun/ names presents a synchronicity of local/universal in time/space; a construction built by/on language.
The haunting of Dogtown continues in the poem, as stories of the ghosts of dogs are depicted:
…the whole Fort Section, is a breeding ground of the ghosts of,
dogs, and that, on those very steps, she saw, as a girl, a fierce, blue, dog, come at her,
as she was going out, the door. [II. 177]
The appearance of commas here disrupts the narrative flow & the hard enjambment “of,” heightens the tension and fear of these lines. This “story” (which is told to the narrator, and then embodied in text with use of the comma) is a precursor to the wolf that appears in Volume III. The Gloucester sea-serpent (engendered female) and the wolf (engendered male) are the products of the local—local consciousness/history/story-telling, morphed with (and placed alongside) Olson’s use of mythologies from many peoples/times/spaces.
A lot of “between” in these poems—the Indian man between Gloucester residents, respresenting older and new waves of inhabitants; between as the Virgin Mary: “…the Virgin/ does dominate/ her Hill and place/ between the Two Towns” [II. 181]. “Between” as hills – a product of glaciation, of movements of plates. “Between” as “commissure” [II.99].
Also important to note: in this section, Enyalion, the Greek god of war, enters: you drew the space in
reticule
now spread the iron net,
Enyalion. [II. 184]
Reticule – latin – rete – net. A reticle is an image superimposed on sight to aide in precise alignment (as for a telescope). This poem reads like an incantation speaking to the poem itself. Olson’s extensive (if wobbly) research as mapped through the text as the process of making history, seems to be his “net”/guide/reticle. & now he/ Maximus/ the text is hardening the stance, calling on it to prepare for war.
Re: Laura 13 – Laura (Nov 3, 2009 11:23 AM)
for “between” see also poem later in this “section” : “The River Map and we’re done” [II. 201].
“Between Heaven and Earth” … “and between them the River Flowing/ in North and South out/ when the tide re-/ fluxes” … “middle of the River” …
Between as where the voice of the “he” sits — literally and figuratively. On Rocky Marsh, between his sources and his work/text.
catharsis through free will – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 10, 2009 9:09 AM)
In the final section concluding Vol. II (p.371-3), Olson reintroduces the idea of ‘poetic cartography’ by exiting dogtown, or exploration of the underworld, by “The River Map. Olson Jokingly annex’s the title with “and we’re done” demonstrating a shift in tone to come while keeping true to the dry, poignant humor latent in the speaker’s voice.
Structurally, Olson applies a now familiar flow or passage to the projective verse, emulating the motion and terrain of a river. Yet there are curious incongruities here: what should be made of “base river flowing/ in both directions” (371)? The poem minimizes the incongruity by citing the cause to “tide refluxes.” Yet Maximus, who is returning from Dogtown here, speaks more to the communion and transaction between the underworld and Gloucester — that passage in and passage out are only a matter of timing and precise navigating.
Notice the various obstacles encountered exiting Vol. II: a wreck, a toll, a ledge a shoal (“enabling sand to gather”). It carries a bit of both good, “carrying a crest… filling Mill/ Stream,” and bad “at flood immersing/ all the distance over. Olson revisits the Axis and fylfot with the reference to “…Four/ directions    the banks,” also carrying with it the four directions of the pilot’s compass.
On the next page “from/ Alexander Baker’s/ goldenrod/ field” the tone and content shifts towards a more pastoral quality: “and dry lavender/ field flower…/knotweed now in the front yard/ with the water high no distance/ to Sargents houses.” Its as if a storm and flood are just receding, the river in the constant paradoxical manner of the twist: “with the river in this respite solely/ an interruption of itself.” This moment defines the final cathartic turn in Vol. II, the fact that despite the darkness and vapidity of dogtown, passage in or out was not due to circumstance, but rather “right through the middle of the River/ neap or flood tide,” in other words, whenever Maximus so pleased.
This moment is immediately acknowledged with “the firmness” of the familiar sites and landmarks of Gloucester. And the final moment laments the inevitable change one, as an individual receives, upon visiting the Dogtown of the self. “I set out now/ in a box upon the sea.” it is both an image of freedom and hope (as the box, a vessel, has all the freedom of the seas) and of utter imprisonment or isolation as a sea traveler (especially one confined to a box) may not set foot off his vessel, or out of himself.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 14: Page 377-410

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 20, 2009 4:32 PM)

“imbued with the light / the flower grows down / the air of heaven” (386). We brought up the prana in class, and how it relates the breath, the beginning of all life, as a movement that starts at the top and moves downward. This section also made me think of “Hepit.Naga.Otis” from page 291, and the image of the goddess of the sky as a serpent in the ecliptic. This force from above is feminine, which links the serpant with the milky way and the Via Lactea, which does indeed link heaven and earth, but also the overworld to the underworld, so that one may be able to follow the milky way to the land of the dead, which is where this poem will quickly enter. This image that links the heavens and the earth, as well as the prana have balance in common; the “rainbow bridge” seeks to put all planes in an accessible position. In class, we also mentioned that humanity is borne from the sky, the serpent, the mother earth.
Next on page 391, we get the word “apple” multiple times. First, the apples are “blossoming apple trees in the Paradise of Dogtown”, which refers to the apple tree of the original sin story of adam and eve and the serpent, which marked a moment of awareness and humiliation of experience of sexuality; it was a moment that people became acutely aware of their gender and marked the differences rather than the similarities. The paradise described on this page abruptly changes into a place inclusive of “apples as dry as thorns”, of “barren bark”, and of “struggle…finding no outlet like semen”, which connotes an experience in stasis, and thus marking a lens causing degeneration of humanity.
Next on page 396 is the image of the star-nosed mole spinning around on a highway. I take the “star-nose” of the mole to be symbolic for the North Star. We, and the Earth itself, are as the mole, spinning with the North Star as the center point. The road encapsulates the mole; the road symbolizes a direction to take; it is winding, and seemingly never-ending, like the sea, and like Okeanos on page 172, who “steers all things through all things”. Okeanos’ force is directional, and flowing, like a road. Similar to the mole, the Earth cannot stop spinning. Perhaps this instance of the mole is akin to early human civilizations that tried to orient themselves in relation to the North Star; it is a “dizzying” process to map oneself as such, but to think of one’s position in terms of the earth may be “like the prettiest thing in the world” (395). This perhaps explains why the spinning movement of the mole is described in terms of it being swayed by magnetic forces; it extends to the earth in constant and continual rotation, with the North Star as a center; this magnetic force is also the force that moves the waves, and changes the tides, etc.

Entry 14: Page 377-410

Laura (Nov 5, 2009 11:11 AM)
see link: http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/973/starnosedmole1360x673.jpg
Brittney Stanley- Entry 4, p 377-410 – BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Oct 26, 2009 6:39 PM)
“Stevens Song” p. 400 The Necessity of Evil
In the passage of this poem that begins “On the side of the King the Father,” Olson includes a distant tangent seemingly unrelated to the subject of the ship builder Stevens. However, this section is likely the most poignant of the “Song.” Olson begins with the image of God and Monarch, then takes note of the wolf that sits beside him “which is not his own will.” Through this, the notion of evil is separated from “good,” though they reside side by side. By personifying evil as a wolf, Olson calls to mind the seh-wolf in Dante that suckled Romulus and Remus. As these two brothers are credited as the founders of Rome, the world cannot be an entirely negative image. Olson emphasizes this belief with the lines “it is not true that the demon is a poison in the blood only, he is also a principle in creation.” The she-wolf was a principle in the creation of Rome, just as the serpent was a principle in the creation of the human world. If it were not for the serpent, Adam and Eve would have remained in the Garden without their “forbidden” knowledge, never to populate the Earth.
Olson does aknowledge the duplicity of the wolf or “demon” for he “enters unknown to the being.” However, he is inherently in our blood, as poison or principle, and thus a crucial part of our existence. Olson identifies him as “different from the angel,” by primarily because he does not bear the image of good “light or color, or fruits, not one garden.” However, the garden is then described as “ever a walled place” and depending on how the enjambment is interpreted “not anything resembling Paradise.” Though the wall may offer protection, without it there is freedom; Evil frees man from naivety.
A final aspect to note about this segment is that the demon and wolf are referred to consistently as “he.” Unlike the usual relationship between the feminine and evil, Olson masculates it. This is particularly unusual because the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus was a feminine, as was the serpent Sophie in many versons of the Creation Myth. Perhaps, then, Olson is attempting to discredit the feminine as evil, just as he discredits the “different” as evil.

Entry 14: Page 377-410

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Oct 30, 2009 8:01 PM)
The closing line, “my wife    my car    my color    and    myself,” demonstrates the frequent assertions of self in The Maximus Poems (635). One would think that the poem unwaveringly celebrates individuality, but, as always, Olson has it both ways. This is particularly clear on page 378:
Said Mrs Tarantino, occupying the yellow house on fort constructed like a blockhouse house said You have a long nose, meaning you stick it into every other person’s business, do you not? And I couldn’t say anything but that I do
In fact, Maximus assumes multiple personalities–he sticks his nose “into every other person’s business”–by speaking through different voices (378). One immediate indication of this is that the poem does not begin with “Maximus, to Gloucester” or the like (71). The voice, in fact, could be Olson’s, but the most telling aspect of the passage is that the speaker admits to being nosy. This nosiness, though, is less of a superficial interest and more of a sincere quest for understanding.
“The Big False Humanism” disregards the legitimacy of individual perspective under the guise of its so-called inclusive philosophy (379). Though its aim to distill humans to their essential characteristics is superficially admirable, humanism ignores the essential characteristics that establish individuals. Some whites claim that they do not consider race, but that is because–in America, at least–they are considered the standard; white is the default. They do not consider race because they have the luxury to not have to consider it. People that belong to minority groups, however, face false societal understandings every day on psychological, emotional and social levels. “The Big False Humanism” denies the legitimacy of their everyday experience with racism and other kinds of bigotry. Maximus legitimizes others’ individuality by diminishing his own. He attempts to understand others’ worldviews. A fisherman’s job, if done with the proper attention, is just as useful as an artist’s job done with the same awareness.
Re: Entry 14 – Ian Mintz – Laura (Nov 5, 2009 11:08 AM)
“Maximus legitimizes others’ individuality by diminishing his own.” The word “diminsh” here catches me. Which spaces in the text do you find “Maximus” yielding to “others” ? v. interesting!
Re: Entry 14 – Ian Mintz – IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 5, 2009 6:13 PM)
When I say that Maximus diminishes, I don’t necessarily mean that he yields. Maybe a better way of putting it would be to say that he expands his voice to make room for other perspectives. When I wrote this entry, I thought that Maximus’s expansion diminished his identity because he assumed different voices. Maybe he only expands. The fact that the work draws from so many different traditions (Greek, Egyptian, Indian, etc.) proves that Maximus is at least willing to recognize various perspectives.
On pages 119 and 120, Maximus tells a story in two different ways. “THE PICTURE” is an impersonal and “neat” list of dates and events that takes facts out of context. My point is that Maximus shows that there are different ways of experiencing the world. In 2nd Letter on Georges, Maximus speaks through different voices. Perhaps there’s no reason to assume that all of the perspectives aren’t all his own in some way.
Thanks for your comment. It got me thinking about “diminish.” I probably didn’t mean to use it.

Entry 14: Page 377-410

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 2, 2009 8:37 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 14, Pp. 377-410
The motif of sex and its rejuvenating qualities has recurred so frequently that the poem could very well be considered an evaluation of it. The Cut, the Nut, the intercourse of men with the Earth. At what point is man’s concern with sex too predominant? Maximus comments almost nonchalantly that “some men have their bed in their head” (380). Although Olson encourages men to wear their houses on their heads, it is less clear what he would opine about a man who fits either interpretation of the above description: a man whose life IS his sexual life or a man whose sexual life is as much a part of his agenda as his other actions.
In the next stanza, Maximus adds that “if he spent some time making love / he was as busy at the same time / on what it was he was supposed / to be doing” (380). That extra characterization of the man whose bed is in his head seems to liken him more to the latter type, i.e. a man whose sexual life is an equal component of his head as his other commitments. It seems that in making love, in the rejuvenating act of sex, he is somehow contributing to what it is he was supposed to be doing at that time. Perhaps the restoration of energy and vitality makes him more productive in doing his planned task than he would have been had he not been so energized, but perhaps also having sex is connected to his other duties insofar that the different activities balance each other out. There is a certain harmony in the life of the man whose bed in his head.
Never explicitly revealing his religious inclinations, Olson at least stipulates that the God he does believe in is “fully physical” (381). And further, the earth is the cross that we hang ourselves from…either as martyrs or as the persecuted. God’s being fully physical, a concrete entity fully existent in our plane of the universe, is important to Olson’s project, to locate a connecting force between man, the earth, movement, and all their respectively imbued spiritual relations. If God were divine and separate, we would not be able to communicate with Him/It in the way that Olson’s project needs us to.

Entry 14: Page 377-410

Laura (Nov 5, 2009 11:05 AM)
Olson 14
In this response, I’ll look at three sections from poems that appeared important to the study of the work’s intent/prospective.
Exploring “The Big False Humanism” [III.11] in “Human Universe”
“…discourse…needs now to be returned to the only two universes which count, the two phenomenal ones, the two a man has need to bear on because they bear so on him: that of himself, as organism, and that of his environment, the earth and planets.” (Collected Prose 156).
And later, “It is not the Greeks I blame. What it comes to is ourselves, that we do not find ways to hew to experience as it is, in our definition and expression of it, in other words, find ways to stay in the human universe, and not be led to partition reality at any point, in any way. (157).
that we are placed solely on what anyone of us does bring to bear [II. 198]
***
On the past-prophetic….
In the poem on III.15 – 17 – The “author”/narrative voice/ text situated in/of the glacial, in/of the geography/geology of place, on/of earth:
until human beings came back, until human beings
were the streets of the soul love was in their wrinkles
they filled the earth, the positiveness was in their being, they listened
to the sententious, with ears of the coil of the sea
they were the paths… [III.15]
Note that snakes are “deaf”. So to listen “with ears of the coil of the sea” suggests a metaphysics/abstraction of the process of listening. Snakes listen/sense through the vibration of sound, not what is “heard”. Ears were of the state of conserving energy. Of the potential.
“Until” and “were” are complex here – a blending of time—all time at once (as space). In the repetition of “until”, the voice of the text leans toward the prophetic, but “were” suggests the correction of past. The text operates as a prophetic voice for the past, in its desire to heal the past. Olson’s project seems increasingly aligned to discovering “where/when” human consciousness took a “wrong” turn, divorcing itself from nature. This is reflected in the romanticism of this passage. (In another entry, I would like to set Olson’s project next to Marx).
This passage echoes “tesserae / commissure” [II.99], in a human embodiment of the mosaic. The text proclaims love exists in “their wrinkles”. This passage equates, to some degree, land with soul. The situation of humans as streets, suggests the human space in the natural world is to accommodate the transportation/exploration/learning through & about the soul.    The text suggests that at one time, humans were this path, itself, but somewhere they lost their sense of place, stopped “carrying the stratified drift kame,” as agents with a sense of purpose aligned to the service of the natural world in which they are in constant participation.
And the space of the voice of the poet in the text amongst this ecological/social/conscious rift?
the power in the air is prana
it is not seen In the ice,
on top of the Poles, on the thrown
of the diorite, the air alone is what I sit in
among the edges of the plagioclase
[III.17]
The prosody of these two-lined stanzas is interesting in that the first line always contains more syllables than the second, except for the final stanza. Also, the stanzas 2 & 3 (of those offered here) are enjambed (the heaviest enjambment in this poem). This effect brings together a negation of “to see” [sense/verb] and ice [noun/physical/state]. (Also invokes Yeats.) Plagioclase is from Gr. Plagios (oblique) + klasis (to break – also possibly related to Latin, clades – disaster – or a fragment of rock). In this sense, “plagioclase” is a translation/iteration of the stanza emjambment.
The prepositions in/on/of in this passage situate the physical/geological earth (Poles, diorite, thrown, ice), and it is not until the physical scene is oriented, that the voice/persona/”poet” can situate itself within air, positioned “in/among” the rift/crack/edges of the oblique (from L. obliquus “slanting, sidelong, indirect,” from ob “against” + root of licinus “bent upward,”)* (oblique as word reflects bull horns, axis, etc.) + to break/disaster/disorder. In short, situated amongst chaos.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=oblique
Afterthoughts – it seems an exploration of prosody, itself, “the extension of content” would be quite telling. Why is the study of prosody largely ignored in current considerations of 20th century text?
Re: 14 Laura – Laura (Nov 5, 2009 11:28 AM)
It seems the voice of the text/Maximus travels to the “Poles” or hangs off the Axis to find its relief IN phenomenon.
A plane for perspective. & that these moments in the text are most meditative, for the speaker. Moments of pause before heading into the battle of another myth/scene. Also, in this “section”, the text is heading for war. Pause before war. And that this “meditation” or rest on voice, itself, doesn’t happen in medias res … but “far where Enyalion/ quietly re-enters his Chariot far/ by the rule of its parts by the law of the proportion/of its parts/ over the World over the City over man” [III.40]. Indeed, the text asserts it is the “parts” that rule phenomenon, yet this reflection appears more often when the voice is located “over”.
Re: 14 Laura – Laura (Nov 5, 2009 11:29 AM)
this could relate to Olson’s use of the underline?

Entry 14: Page 377-410

14 – Joe Wolff (Nov 6, 2009 6:20 PM)
Entry 14 Olson opens up his voice and the page in this third, posthumously published volume, of his Maximus poems. Mrs. Tarantino accuses Olson having a long nose that he sticks into “every other person’s business” (378). And Olson admits to it. This point in the epic serves as welcome comic relief, reflecting on Olson’s habit as poet and researcher to pry his nose into other people’s business, i.e. the history and names of early residents of Gloucester. Of course for Olson, researching other people’s business becomes his own personal journey. As a “Tantric” reader who reads the “world like a book,” he also reads books like his own personal world experience.
“The Big False Humanism” (379). Olson argues against globalism, the “universalization, believe/ it only feeds into a class of deteriorated/ personal lives anyway, giving them. What they can buy, a cheap/ belief.” He loves the particular form of each of us as agents of activity in the world. Unsurprisingly Olson idea of religion is contra idea of the universal God, but envisions the divine as a unique form coming out from one’s own experience living in the world of Pronouns and body. Somewhere he says that Pronouns are truths for him. “I believe in God/ as fully physical/ thus the Outer Predmost/ of the World on which we ‘hang’/ as though it were wood and our bodies are/ hanging on it”(381). Olson is hanging on the cross, but the particular Pronouns we hang on things, also, forms our faith in the world.
“the power in the air/ is prana//is not seen/ In the ice,” the hero is in ice. His form is frozen like Hans Solo in star wars. Although he wrote “a dog who had/ bitten into//her body/ as it was joined//to mine/ naturally,” in1963 from dream
notes written in 1950, these lines seem to almost prophesize the death of his wife. Olson is confronting his loss of part of his self-identity. Luke Skywalker also lost a hand. Columbus described the world like an “earth’s tit(43). Olson conquest of the female body is directly linked, in images like these, to the explorers conquest of the New World. Both are driven outward by the force of Love.

Entry 14: Page 377-410

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 11, 2009 4:49 PM)
Volume III of Olson’s Maximus Poems begins with the first sign of self criticism in any of the letters, “having descried the nation/ to write a Republic/ in gloom on Watch-House Point”. with no end-stop, these lines can be read as an enjambment over to the next page citing the quote to “Mrs Tantino/ occupying the yellow house.” She later complains about Maximus/Olson having “ a long nose, meaning/ you stick it into every other person’s business…”
The fascination with noses through out the poem (star nosed mole, nasturtium flowers, etc.) opens many readings onto the text. For one, Mrs Tarantino is right; being a local poem about specific histories and individual stories, Olson probably agreed that he spent a lot of his time, through necessity of the creation of this work, sticking his nose in others business: “And I couldn’t/ say anything/ but that I/ do.” Even the phrasing of these lines (syllables decreasing per line) emulates the sudden self-conciousness one has upon realizing something they knew for the first time. But the phrase ends with the word do. Doing becomes a prominent idea probably central to all things in The Maximus Poem (though how I would support this tangibly I have no idea, perhaps consider end of I.1 “make bulk, these in the end, are sum”). Notice the diction describing Tarantino’s actions: she doesn’t live in the yellow house, she is only “occupying” it as perhaps a sofa would occupy your living room. She doesn’t ask, she simply “said.”
Perhaps this is Olson having second thoughts beginning the third Volume of his work. No longer does he have the innosance of the nest found in the first pages of the maximus poem, yet he has also found his way out of the ‘underworld’ that is dog town. What else remains but harsh self criticism, introspection, and the constant self improvement of making (or DOING) oneself better.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 15: page 411-440

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 20, 2009 8:29 PM)

I found the discussion on the hand amputated as a castration relevant. Hands are most revered by Olson as tools to engage with the Earth; remember in the beginning of Volume I with the carpenter’s hands, or the fishermen’s chapped hands (36). What is a carpenter without his hands? Will he now be forced to simply live off the earth without direct contact with it? A mechanism for proper engagement with the Earth has been taken away, and with that, a tool used for human progress.
“I am the child, Jupiter furens – Ocean’s Child…I am the one from whom the Jouretes band their platters” (425). Why is Maximus’s birth as the perfect child Jupiter? Jupiter is heavily patriarchal – hasn’t Olson opposed this thus far, and opted for a more balanced system of matriarchy and patriarchy? Furthermore, why such emphasis on assertiveness in individuality? I have found that another name for Jupiter is “optimus maximus”, or “father god the best and greatest”. However, he did make up the Capitoline Triad, which was a group made up of one masculine god, that is Jupiter, and two feminine gods, Juno and Minerva. I think this is the context to see Maximus as Jupiter in; that is, he is part of something bigger than himself. He was defended as Zeus by the Kouretes; from “A Gold Minoan Double Axe”, Vermeule writes: “This myth is Greek interpretation of mystifying Minoan ritual in an attempt to reconcile their Father Zeus with the Divine Child of Crete”. The ritual is a socializing experience; Zeus would not have come into being without the community working with him. So I guess what is advocated here is the community … and a sharing of power with the feminine, though this seems somewhat muddled at first by qualifying this experience through Jupiter’s experience.
“Collective guilt as collective soul” from “the NEW Empire” (433) describes a new condition in which people use the idea of collective soul only for selfish reasons, meaning that one will pass off individualistic blame to the collective. This section is very sarcastic, with challenging questions like “responsible for being fathers, for achieving our immortality in our said children? Procreation?” (433). A challenge to get more involved and be an active member of earth.
atalay entry 16, p441-482 – MELIS ATALAY (Oct 26, 2009 12:06 PM)
“Sweet Salmon” in consideration of “the Festival Aspect”. Sweet Salmon is the evocation of a ritual; it seems that whereupon consuming salmon from a specific location, and of a specific preparation, one will be granted wisdom. Though, I find this process to be specific to the individual; the mention of “greedy throat” is troublesome: it seems like the speaker is gaining this wisdom unfairly, and without putting in the “heavy lifting”.
“The Festival Aspect” begins with “the World has become divided”, which recalls the unease from previous section. The Three Towns of this section are the earth, the atmosphere and the sky, and only Shiva may bring them back together. This is the underlying reason that “the Individual has become divided from the Absolute”; that is, one is not able to live in a cohesive system since pejorocrats are constantly in efforts to split the three towns up. The temporal qualifications of Maximus’s description of Shiva’s triumph continually differ: “the sun shall have given back its deadly rays”, contrasted with “the Sun will be stamped”; the future events are spoken as though they have already happened, with the continual use of the past tense when describing the future: “preceded love”, “given back”, “revealed itself”. This makes this time certain to occur, but also makes these occurrences sound as though they have occurred already, which adds to the circular and expanding quality of Olson’s work: the actions are not linear, but are rather ever-occurring. The regenerative quality of the poem, itself, and the reason for hope in betterment of society is the simple fact that what has happened before will happen again in this circular space of time.
The lotus padma is a fitting image for this process. I read that the lotus’s unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul, which fits the rebirth we have seen thus far in the poem, like Merry’s regeneration into a more humble being. “The mud of the bottom is the floor of the Upside Down” (443). The mud, when thinking of the growth of a lotus from it, is the reminder of growth of beauty from simple and seemingly base things; it, too, is a reminder of humbleness. Though considering it as the floor of the Nut as she encapsulates the Earth is interesting. …
Another thing I noticed is the mixing of languages. See “Los Americans” on page 444; should it not be los americanos? I don’t speak Spanish so … but I do speak French! And “l’anse aux meadow” is definitely grammatically incorrect, since “aux” means to the plus a plural noun, and meadow is defiantly singular. Also, on page 468: “I walk…se promenent”; the se promenent refers to multiple people walking in alleys, and not the “I walk” that it seems to be referring to. There must be a reason for this, and all I can come up with is that these instances highlight the paradox of the poem.

Entry 15: page 411-440

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Oct 26, 2009 6:47 PM)
“Maximus to Himself June 1964” p. 420
The tone of this poem is particularly dark and disturbing, which has not been obviously prevalent in previous poems. Beginning with the title to the last word, the poem connotes a sense of emptiness. By addressing the poem to “Himself,” rather than to “Gloucester,” as usual, Maximus is placed in the context alone. Each of the first 5 stanzas begins with “no more” or “nothing” and therefore further the tone of image of lonely desolation. These things described as “no more,” initially seem to be lamented over, particularly in the asides placed in parentheses such as “(beloved World)” and “(no more Vessel in the Virgin’s arms.” They seem to describe a world void of its natural beauty, “the tidal river rushes,” and “the golden cloak.” However, the final stanza alters the meaning of these laments drastically, for these mourned over images have disappeared simply because “the ownership [is] mine.” Therefore inthe act of possession, there is emptiness. Because one person possesses, there is nothing shared, and so there is a loneliness in the act.
This portrayal of the desire for ownership as creating a void ties into Olson’s dislike of commercialsm, particularly of “the Cut’ in Gloucester, forcing people to pay to cross the unnatural fissure. Olson thus further demonstrates capitalist ownership as a destruction to the natural world.

Entry 15: page 411-440

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 1, 2009 4:52 PM)
–Dogtown under City Dogtown granite -tite Dogtown under sky under the city to the shore under the sea under the banks as far as (Oceanographers Canyon) (425)
If one looks at “understand” literally, one sees that to grasp a concept, one must stand under that concept and support it. When one grasps something, one carries the weight of it. Dogtown is not only the underworld, but it is that which supports the upper world. Dogtown is the underpinning that grasps the truth of the world. “Under,” visually, is “under” and a line; it is “underline.” Dogtown is the the line–the thread–that runs through everything on a subtle (“under”) level and carries the world.
An oceanographer’s understanding, in some sense, is the limit of humanity’s understanding of the ocean. The “Canyon” and the “sea under the banks” only go “as far as” the oceanographer understands them to go (425). In this, one can see the limits of so-called understanding. Is understanding incomplete? Olson would probably say the incomplete understanding isn’t understanding at all.
On page 438, “X” marks the spot. It brings to mind the fylfot, the legs in the air, the cross, and other images. “My shore, my sounds, my earth, [and] my place” are given a kind of destination (438). In The Maximus Poems, the goal is to build a home. The place, however, loosely defined. What shore? What sounds? The generality of the statement perhaps more accurately reflects the sentiment. My “place” suggests a sentimental, subjective assessment of a place (438). A feeling one has about “their” place is never a true representation of the actual place (438). A feeling that arises from “[my] place” is something that cannot be described, so perhaps the generality is appropriate. Also, one spot defines the destination of many things (a shore, a place, sounds, and earth), so perhaps that spot cannot be found in the world. Perhaps that spot is within (438).

Entry 15: page 411-440

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 2, 2009 9:55 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 15, Pp. 411-440
“The NEW Empire” zeroes in on a “secondary function” of man, where Maximus usually concentrates on man’s primary occupation to live and substantively implicate himself in the history of the world. This secondary function of
which he writes is procreation. Procreation transcends regular creation (which itself is hugely important) by ensuring a perdurance of creation by way of children. Man procreating is described as “spilling out,” which seems sloppy and accidental but effective nonetheless. Clearly, without procreation, there would be no “heir,” but more interestingly Maximus equates the lack of offspring with a more perilous deficiency: the lack of being a mother, being a self (434). Without creation, “if he hath not the axis,” he denies himself the ability he has to realize himself; he denies himself himself .
“My shore, my sounds, my earth, my place”: is this a desperate marking of territory, as if Maximus realizes that what he thought was his is slipping away, or at best is it a way of taking inventory (438)? Either way, it is diametrically opposed to what Olson wrote earlier criticizing avarice and the desire to own a ship. He places those words “my…” diagonally on the page, upside down, in a way that encourages the reader to turn the book in order to be able to read them at all. This placement makes the presentation slightly more clandestine than his usual horizontal presentation, and for that reason, it might be a confession, that he has his own desires to possess things. But what he claims are these intrinsic features of the world (not to be confused with worldly goods), features he considers essential to his being. “Afterwards, in between, and since” – these features have been his forever, before he even recognized their importance in defining him (438).

Entry 15: page 411-440

15 – Joe Wolff (Nov 6, 2009 6:22 PM)
Entry 15 “Signature to Petition/ on Ten Pound Island asked of me by Mr. Vicent Ferrini” is Olson’s response was this poem, and when Ferrini asked him why he said “I don’t sign petitions, I make them!” “Utopia is/ all dream” is directly aimed at Ferrini effort to save the island (413). Olson seems to see signing petitions as a futile waste of time, pairing it with the subject matter of the “salt spoilt”(412). The salt, or the monads of a petition are its signatures. If the signatures prove spoilt, or false, then the petition is nil.
“Space and Time the saliva/ in the mouth// your own living hand amputated living on/ in the mouth//of the Dog”(414). Olson loses part of himself, again foreshadowing the loss of his wife. Jung talks about how when we lose something very close to us, like a person or thing, we lose part of our self-identity. Olson loses his hand and looks up in the sky, the saliva is the milky way. “the Alligator/ clapping at my balls” can also be the milky way. When Olson loses part of himself, he is more connected to the rainbow bridge, the milky way, this portal to the other world where myth and the ghost of our ancestors live. “the Soul/ rushing before” The soul is our individual identity moving forward while our serpent unconscious follows close behind.
The first poem after March 28th,1964, the date of his wife’s death is “To have the bright body of sex and love… (419)” On the next page “Maximus to himself June/ 1964”(420). “no more dogs/to tear anything/apart—fabric” No more dogs to tear, because they already tore. “the ownership/solely/mine” Olson is no longer looking at his Soul reflected in other, in outside things, he back comes to the solitude of just himself. No distractions.
“I believe in religion not magic or science I believe in society/ as religious both man and society as religious” Contrary to Frazer, who in his The Golden Bough wrote that magic came before religion. Olson saw that belief as “just plain wrong.” “the free association of Gloucester persons” is Olson’s business. Sticking his nose into other people’s business and making it his own. The two lines, “My shore, my sounds, my earth, my place//afterwards, in between, and since” intersect in each other like a slanted cross on the page. The first line is all of Olson’s pronouns. The second line is the time frame. The “Sweet Salmon” scene gives some relief from the intensity of feeling in the prior pages(440). Hemingway in the Sun Also Rises and in his short stories already used this reflection on the purity of nature through fishing, as a refuge from suffering.

Entry 15: page 411-440

Laura (Nov 8, 2009 4:09 PM)
Olson 15 Dogs & Ownership…
The poems in this “section” contain the repetitive presence of the Dog (replacing the wolf in the previous “section”) and the idea/ proclamation of ownership. These strands are evident in the following fragment:
Space and Time the saliva
in the mouth
your own living hand amputated living on in the mouth
of the Dog [III.47]
The “saliva” relates to that which binds, which exists between parts. The image here is also sexual, suggesting castration fear. The story of the “Dog” relates to the Norse legend of Tyr (god of battle), who puts his hand in the mouth of Fenris (wolf) to restrain him, but ultimately loses his hand (Butterick 555). “your own” relates to the repetitive anxiety throughout this section, of losing parts. This scene is reiterated in the following poem, with the change in prospective from second to first person:
the Alligator, clapping at my balls
the Soul rushing before
[III.48]
Butterick suggests the alligator is related to Liddell and Scott’s note on Chaos as “the gaping jaws of the crocodile” (555). Further, he mentions the crocodile appeared Olson’s dream. That the soul rushes “before” is interesting. It can be read as the soul rushing before to protect or escape. Soul as water in the scene/ soul as “saving” him from “chaos” / rushing “before” chaos?
Proceeding poems probably reflect, if subtly/abstractly in depiction of bird migration and language migration, Olson’s wife’s death. The following poem presents the repetitive scene of the planet as sexed matter, though in this case, calling the act back from a space of loss:
To have the bright body of sex and love back in the world—the moon has her legs up, in the sky of Egypt
[III.52]
These poems are all dated in March – spring equinox. “I was conceived in the ions of March…” (III.54). The narrative voice/Maximus seems himself as a equinoxal figure on the planet of sex.
In “The-Man-With-The-House-On-His-Head-carrying”, the narrative voice seems to either insists on Dogtown as “under” or is trying to push it under. As the line, itself, under the word [III.58].
On “Mine”…
The Wolf, slinks off,
Fenrir’s mouth
salivarating. And my arm
on my own body, my own hand
mine [III.63]
Here, the narrator/Maximus has overpowered the wolf, or taken power away from the wolf/myth by laying claim to his parts. This sense of belonging-to/ownership is echoed in the poem on [III.110], “My shore, my sounds, my earth, my place”. The line is “facing” NW, and literally
“cut” through by “afterwards, in between, and since”. Space, owned, cut through by time/order.
“cut” through by “afterwards, in between, and since”. Space, owned, cut through by time/order.
fancy feast – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 18, 2009 8:59 PM)
One major point Olson tries to communicate over the course of the Maximus Poems is the idea of religion, or culture, or community (what have you) taking a strong precedence and priority over the canker that is capitalism in Gloucester and Maximus’ community at large. These ideas, are no better summed up than on page 422 where Olson writes: “I believe in religion not magic or science I believe in society/ as religious both man and society as religious.” Olson here is not talking about a devotional deistic practice to some sort of anthropomorphic diety, but rather, the effect of religion as a whole.    These lines form a justification for the conflation of varied, unconnected muthos throughout the book demonstrating a testament to the process of religion. Hence he specifies “not magic or science,” but rather “society” or the irrevocable polis that has since become lost or shattered over the course of the Maximus narrative.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 16: Page 441-482

MELIS ATALAY (Oct 26, 2009 12:07 PM)

“Sweet Salmon” in consideration of “The Festival Aspect”. Sweet Salmon is the evocation of a ritual; it seems that whereupon consuming salmon from a specific location, and of a specific preparation, one will be granted wisdom. Though, I find this process to be specific to the individual; the mention of “greedy throat” is troublesome: it seems like the speaker is gaining this wisdom unfairly, and without putting in the “heavy lifting”.
“The Festival Aspect” begins with “the World has become divided”, which recalls the unease from previous section. The Three Towns of this section are the earth, the atmosphere and the sky, and only Shiva may bring them back together. This is the underlying reason that “the Individual has become divided from the Absolute”; that is, one is not able to live in a cohesive system since pejorocrats are constantly in efforts to split the three towns up. The temporal qualifications of Maximus’s description of Shiva’s triumph continually differ: “the sun shall have given back its deadly rays”, contrasted with “the Sun will be stamped”; the future events are spoken as though they have already happened, with the continual use of the past tense when describing the future: “preceded love”, “given back”, “revealed itself”. This makes this time certain to occur, but also makes these occurrences sound as though they have occurred already, which adds to the circular and expanding quality of Olson’s work: the actions are not linear, but are rather ever-occurring. The regenerative quality of the poem, itself, and the reason for hope in betterment of society is the simple fact that what has happened before will happen again in this circular space of time.
The lotus padma is a fitting image for this process. I read that the lotus’s unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul, which fits the rebirth we have seen thus far in the poem, like Merry’s regeneration into a more humble being. “The mud of the bottom is the floor of the Upside Down” (443). The mud, when thinking of the growth of a lotus from it, is the reminder of growth of beauty from simple and seemingly base things; it, too, is a reminder of humbleness. Though considering it as the floor of the Nut as she encapsulates the Earth is interesting. …
Another thing I noticed is the mixing of languages. See “Los Americans” on page 444; should it not be los americanos? I don’t speak Spanish so … but I do speak French! And “l’anse aux meadow” is definitely grammatically incorrect, since “aux” means to the plus a plural noun, and meadow is defiantly singular. Also, on page 468: “I walk…se promenent”; the se promenent refers to multiple people walking in alleys, and not the “I walk” that it seems to be referring to. There must be a reason for this, and all I can come up with is that these instances highlight the paradox of the poem.

Entry 16: Page 441-482

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 2, 2009 9:32 PM)
[…] The truth
is fingers holding it all up underneath, the Lotus is a cusp, and its stalk holds up it all. (441)
In what I believe is a Zen story, Buddha twirls a lotus for a group of disciples on Vulture Peak and concludes his teaching. The silent gesture confuses most of the disciples. However, one disciple understands and smiles. This disciple is Mahakasyapa. He carries and transmits the ineffable dharma. Olson’s stanza breaks after “truth,” which gives the predicate of the sentence–the answer–an unspoken quality. The truth is the breath and the pause between the stanzas.
The truth is thus ineffable. It must be experienced. Also, the trigger for enlightenment is ineffable. In Ch’an Buddhism, the Chinese version of Zen, one is shocked into enlightenment; one can be slapped with a fish to become enlightened. The point is probably that one can study Buddhism and never understand Buddhist teachings. One must practice and experience. The three bodies might enrich this idea: dharmakaya, the body of truth and the corpus of the teachings (not the artifacts); sambhogakaya, the heavenly bodies that transmit the dharma; and nirmanakaya, the earth body. The deities, bodhisattvas, and enlightened beings convey the dharma. I am almost certain that deities transmit silent
teachings with spiritual power in the Buddhist tradition. It is also important to note that silent teachings exist in the Hindu tradition.
The stalk and the roots could be a form of Dogtown. Dogtown, after all, supports the world:
–Dogtown under City Dogtown granite -tite Dogtown under sky under the city to the shore under the sea under the banks as far as (Oceanographers Canyon) (425)
Finally, “[there] is no image / which is a reflection” (441). The duality of the self and the other is not an actual “condition” (441). There is solely the unity, “the Lotus,” that grows from the ground and from the heavens. This likely describes the ultimate and eternal unity in Hinduism.
Brittney Stanley: Response 16 – BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 5, 2009 5:52 PM)
p 447
Unlike the majority of The Maximus Poems, the three stanzas on p 447 are untilted and without a signature or date, lending the page an emptiness or disconnect from the rest of the poems. It acts almost as a ragment inserted into the poem to cut apart two links.
The stanzas tell the story of the Birth of Venus, but in vague terms that allude to other Olson obsessions. The first stanza presents an upside-down and twisting world, where heaven is at th bottom and Earth at the top. Olson plays on this reversal with the pun on the word “son.” Though its referring to Zeus, the son of Okeanos, because the “son” is “hung in the bushes,” and the sky and Earth are reversed, the word brings to mind its homophone “sun,” hung in the bushes rather than the sky. This immediately engenders an image of an upset balance, while the word “hung” foreshadows the inclusion of genitalia.
The next stanza politely mentions genitalia as “his parts” that came “down upon the sea.” Though this whole story is about the castration of Cut of the father’s genitals, the docile diction makes it seem as though the genitals fell off on their own accord, that love was engendered by this self-sacrifice. However, this “sacrifice” is belittled by the term “ferried,” alluding to commerce and more specifically The Cut in Gloucester that requires a pay ferry to cross. Thus, Olson compares two things that should not be commodified, love and the Earth, in his version of the Birth of Venus. The fact that he downplays the violence of the act mirrors the downplaying the violence of commercialism. Despite the fact that it is an ordinary part of life causes an upset balance of man’s relation to Earth, as the first stanza suggests, and creates a disconnect between these two entities, just as The Cut in Gloucester creates a disconnect between the two pieces of land. Olson solidifies this point in the final stanza, stating “the end of love is on either side,” or by commodifying love (the Earth) it inherently is castrated, The Cut severs man from Earth.

Entry 16: Page 441-482

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 5, 2009 7:06 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 16, Pp. 441-482
“There is no image / which is a reflection” (441). By saying this, Maximus is attributing the weight and power of real objects (from which images are derived) to the images themselves. The image is not merely a mental representation of a real object; it is the object “upside down”—a mirror replica of sorts, but constituted of actual material. What are the consequences of holding such a belief about images? Does it make our world that much fuller, that much more complete?
Relatedly, Maximus speaks of the lotus and its growing upside down, from the roots of the original. His description of the “Individual” as “divided / from the Absolute” is at first glance unnerving. However, his hopeful sentiments towards the double-nature of the lotus can be applied to the Individual divided. We are at some point divorced from the Absolute, the universal. But this might be encouraging. Plausibly, we were borne of a set of universals, a set of Absolutes—e.g., we came from man, we require water, etc.—but at some point we “become divided
/ from the Absolute,” which is just to say that we become more than just the absolute. We become more than just what gave rise to us. The division isn’t so unnerving when we recognize it as rendering us dynamic, not dismembered.
We “drop delta / and lingam.” The word “drop” makes sense if we consider again the lotus and the upside- down lotus. With the lotus as the original (on top) and the second lotus that grows upside down from it in mind, anything that “drops” from the first lotus is a characteristic of the second lotus that has somehow been removed from the first and been transplanted into the second. A delta is, plainly put, vaginal, as it is the usually triangular deposit between two branches (usually of water, but in this case, the branches would be the legs of a woman). The lingam is the phallus. The pronoun “they”—in “They shall drop delta”—could refer to either the divided Individual(s) or the Absolute. In either case, the discovery of sexuality is clearly a part of the Individual, discovered once the Individual has developed into something more than just a collection of the basic properties derived from the Absolute. We claim ownership over our attributes and characteristics only when we can, even if only momentarily, consider ourselves from a different perspective—i.e. with the perspective of the image of ourselves, the upside-down copy of ourselves. “The truth / is fingers holding it all up,” implying that truth lies in what connects the two divisions of the individual, the original and image; and somehow, we will have to figure out exactly what that connection is.

Entry 16: Page 441-482

16 – Joe Wolff (Nov 6, 2009 6:23 PM)
Entry 16
“The World/ has become divided/ from the universe…/The Individual has become divided/ from the Absolute” (441). Olson is a different Post-Modern than the continental thought of, say, Derrida or Foucault. Olson believes sincerely in the Absolute, he believes that knowledge leads to truth. Where as these post-modern French thinkers are more skeptical of the validity knowledge. (Although Olson did write an essay entitled “Against Knowledge as Such.”) Foucault said he was more interested in studying “systems of thought,” than studying truth. Olson seems to believe in some fall of man.
“ramp//to eat God’s food/raw”(446). One way to see truth is through the ritual of psychedelics. This was the name the Aztecs used for the mushroom, but also reflects the Catholic body of Christ. While the Christian wafer is cooked, the Indians ate God raw.
“echidna is the bite” (471). Echidna is Latin for viper or adder. This is connect with the sea monster of Glouscester. Olson seems to be suiting up for war with Athena “the Armed Virgin”. Could the fomenting Vietnam war be influencing Olson’s imagery? Or is his war an internal war, and should we read his descriptions with the same mythic proportions with which Gandhi read the battle in the Bhagavad-Gita? Either way Olson comes out of battle a wounded man. “the Armed Man/ shall no Right Hand (the war/ of the world/ is endlessly/poised”. Again, the constant repetition of the loss of the right hand is like Jake Barnes’ “loss” in Hemingway’s Sun Also Rises.

Entry 16: Page 441-482

Laura (Nov 8, 2009 5:08 PM)
Last Edited By John Campion on Mon Nov 09 01:31:18 PST 2009
While in the previous section, Maximus was gripping at what was “his” (as a reaction to the experience of loss), in this “section?\”, he speaks of cloaking oneself in protection: “…night itself/ only an eclipse by the earth of the sun, so air/ or night conducts as dreams: we are/ wrapped in the elephant’s skin, all the outside of/ all above deadly/destruction which the species now craves/ wrapping itself in impenetrable garments/ & chasing in little cars motion/ of a receding/ universe, rushing/ to return, helplessly in time, out of time, outside/ the lucky/ sky…” (448). The “we” in the poem states it is “outside” and “above” the destruction taking place. . In this case, Night is the protector.    And whereas the “we” are wrapped in elephant skin (Ganesh), and protected from the impurities of earth, the “itself” is wrapped in “impenetrable garments”. And if there’s anything in these poems that Maximus seeks/utilizes, it’s penetration. In this scene “itself”, that which is happening on earth, is characterized by movement of “little cars”, recalling “until human beings//were the streets of the soul” (III.15). The poem reflects a pattern that is persistent throughout the poem – of an “enlightened” “we” who are “in the know”, and those flailing on earth, in the face of the life-
denying movement of capitalismHowever, what is printed as the final line in the book, “my wife my car my color and myself”, reveals a Maximus in the space of the everyday, with an insistence on ownership/possession of wife (beloved), car (material possession), color (“history”? race? [disturbing]), and myself (soul individuated).
“Poem 143. The Festival Aspect.” presents the “three towns” (Vedic- earth, middle space (atmosphere), fermament/sky). The project of the poem is to unify these realms, which have become divided. “Underneath” is equated with truth, “The truth//is fingers holding it all up/ underneath” [III.73]. Throughout the poem, the narrative voice turns the world upside-down, so as to purify/correct it, after which: “The three Towns/ will have become populated again” [III.74]. The poem is curious in that it 1) enacts the “rebirth” of the world and 2) operates in the past-prophetic. “Will have become” places the reader in an ambiguous space in relationship to time. Is this happening in the past, in the present, “now”? The poem states, “…The present/ is an uproar.” Seems to suggest now.
After repetitive image of the lotus upside-down in the poem, Maximus is presented in a similar poisition, also, perhaps, as androgenous, in the end-note of the poem: “(The feet of Maximus/ in the air.” (III.75).

Entry 16: Page 441-482

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 12:02 AM)
We have often referenced the impending doom the predicted end of the Maya Calendar will bring in the year 2012. One unlikely response to the destruction of the world, universe, what have you, as we know it is the somewhat reassuring thought that what ever it is that ends will immediately be replaced by something different and new. Or, as Olson puts it on page 448 in the title of his letter “Each Night is No Loss, It is a daily eclipse, by the Earth, of the Sun.” In this delightfully odd passage there is a sort of universal transience that moves from the beginning of the universe, to lights and drums, to lozenges, to elephants, to universal destruction, to Ganesh and his cock. Yet the significance is not the scope, or even the individual attributes Olson touches on in this letter, but how seamless the speaker moves through this universal destruction.
The opening line, “the universe unfolded in sound,“ takes the idea of the “big bang” at its literal word, a moment iconic for its sound. this statement is instantly qualified by “light/ is only the drum” maybe suggesting the fundamental but formally rigidness light has played, both in physics, but also in the context of the previous two volumes as antithetic to the underworld, or a source of all that’s good in the world.    Its clear Olson is not talking of only physical light here as he decries the sun as being merely an “orange lozenge nailed on blackness above our air.” or perhaps, the day is only a temporary relief to the deeper, more dreaded “nighttime” of Maximus’ darker self. If night is only an illusion, or “[conduct] of dreams” its mear destruction would be nothing more spectacular of an event then Ganesh in Dance.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 17: Page 473-506

To consider Maximus’s identity as a father being opposed to that identity as a son. Maximus has referred to his father many times, and has even written whole poems about his father. The poem on page 498 does include such evaluation: “with my 22 [my father] gave me and I don’t have now to give my own son as I’d like to the bolt was such a delicate piece of machinery to handle and to lock to fire”. The beginning of this line is at a 90 degree angle to the start of the poem, and the subsequent lines continue turning counterclockwise at a more and more rapid pace until the word “fire” is upside down, at least it is so under our normal considerations. This relates to a section of the poem “festival aspect”: “The Flower shall grow down. The mud of the bottom is the floor of the Upside Down” (443). It is the lotus’s ability to humbly grow out of something that seems base, and turn it into beauty. This conscious realization of genetic reality is another attempt for Maximus to map himself. It includes him as a son, that is, someone who uses the history that his predecessors have given him; he is also a father, or someone conscious of the progeny that will inhabit the space in the future. He sees his work as a poet as a tool for the future to help efficiently map themselves: “got to get that goddam pencil & compasses to make such shapes” (505).

I do think the poem has become more metaphysical, and the more existential and self-questioning tone is an example of that shift. Pages 501-2 include good examples: “does this Vision hold in faith (as well as in credulity) …”. He may be more self-questioning, and feeling rushed, as in the quote from 505, because he feels death’s presence.

Entry 17: Page 473-506

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 4, 2009 7:56 PM)
Monitor, all laid out on top of the water, the whole full landscape a Buddhist message, Japanese
Buddhism and maybe, behind it, exactly in these tightened coves, Chinese Buddhism (482)
The speaker describes a high tide and the temporary condition of “the rocks / melting / into the sea” (482). This is a perfect expression of impermanence and cyclical process. The “whole”–or complete–landscape is a Buddhist. This suggests a kind of unity between the subject and the object. The line continues to call the landscape a message; the landscape is a Buddhist and a silent transmission of dharma.
When the speaker mentions “Japanese / Buddhism,” the landscape “melting / into the sea” becomes a Zen garden (482). The sea is sand circling around stones and aspects of a Zen garden’s miniature landscape. A Zen garden continually changes and is frequently maintained. One might think of a Zen garden as a radical. A Zen garden is, after all, a miniature representation of a landscape; the garden is thus a “sharp drawn / lesson” and representation of the world (482). The line, “behind it, exactly in these tightened coves,” conveys the precision of the lines in the sand. China introduced Buddhism to Japan via the Silk Road, which would perhaps explain why “Chinese / Buddhism” is behind “Japanese / Buddhism” (482). Also, Chinese landscape paintings influenced Zen gardens and Japanese landscape paintings.
This excerpt contains a Zen awareness: “showing lost rocks and hills / which one doesn’t, ordinarily, / know” (482). To achieve apparently perfect lines in the sand, one needs to be meticulous. Zen practitioners meditate by paying careful attention to the lines that they create.
“[A]ll the sea / calm and waiting, having / come so far” is a quote that brings to mind Taoist tenets of water as passive, nourishing, patient, and resilient (482). It also brings to mind the tone of Robinson Jeffers’s “Carmel Point,” especially because of the poem’s opening exclamation, “The extraordinary patience of things!”

Entry 17: Page 473-506

17 – Joe Wolff (Nov 6, 2009 6:24 PM)
Entry 17 Only my written word I’ve sacrificed everything, including sex and woman –or lost them—to this attempt to acquire complete concentration. (The con- ventual.) “robe and bread” not worry or have to worry about either    (473)
Here Olson is at his most tender. He is a man who has lost everything he holds dear in life, except for what he holds most dear, the book we are reading. He has full concentration of his diction in this poem. Olson wrote to Ed Dorn that “I really do prefer the Soul to Society; and think that the conventual is now solely the imagination which applies… (Butterick 607).” The definition for conventual, according to <wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn>, is “cloistered: of communal life sequestered from the world under religious vows.” Olson has turned his back on Society, at this moment in the epic; however similarly in his depositions about religion versus magic, Olson is not a lone magician but a believer in communal spirituality and religion. The community, we can think of as the Sangha, as it is thought of in Buddhism since Olson mentions his “balls rich as Buddha’s/sitting in her like the Padma” in this same poem. This female figure that Olson is repeatedly inside of, is a Tantric image. She can be thought of as the active principal in relation to himself solid like a rock. Their ritual act of “fucking,” as Olson puts it, is perhaps part of the communal gathering he believes in.
In “The Rose of the World” poem his words and handwriting get abstracted to almost the just the image on the page, yet with careful deciphering certain Pronouns and phrases important to the poem can be picked out.

Entry 17: Page 473-506

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 7, 2009 10:35 AM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 17, Pp. 473-506
Quoting a line from Whitehead, Maximus claims, “There are no infinitesimals” (501). That is, there is nothing that proceeds in a series forever. There are also no infinite regresses. Whitehead explains that even our discussion of infinitesimals is done in a finite way: we use finite examples to explain possible infinitesimals, of which Whitehead declares there are none. Relatedly, Maximus comments that we measure “‘throughout the system’” using “precise finite segments.” Is this way of measuring limited? Or rather, is it the only way to accurately measure? After all, we cannot use an infinitely long ruler, composed of infinitely long segments, to measure something accurately. This appreciation of finite instruments maps on nicely to his thoughts on “Vision” and “credulity.” Our perceptual capacities are limited, unique to every individual, (in that way finite). That sort of limitation does not detract from its merit but rather, it adds to its effectiveness.
Maximus prays that “the Modus / [is] absolute” (502). The Modus, the method or mode, that he is referring to must be the power of Vision or “this visione” (501). He explains that we all climb the same mountains; we all have the same terrain to work on and from, and maybe our visione extends to more than just visual perception. This visione could be any and all modes of understanding our surroundings. And he hopes that the visione is absolute, perhaps because then it would serve as unifying force among all humans. And although there are no infinitesimals, no segments of the infinite, there might still be infinity, and we could use our absolute Vision to attempt, at least, to grasp it.

Entry 17: Page 473-506

Laura (Nov 18, 2009 11:02 AM)
Hi Stephanie – here’s the link to the Blaser essay i mentioned in class: http://writing.upenn.edu/library/Blaser-Robin_The-Violets.html
Re: Entry 17 – Stephanie Anderson – STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 20, 2009 8:21 PM)
I will read this; very helpful. Thank you so much, Laura!
Laura 17 – Laura (Nov 8, 2009 6:03 PM)
In Maximus of Gloucester, Maximus states “Only my written word//I’ve sacrificed every thing, including sex and woman/ –or lost them—to this attempt to acquire complete/ concentration.” [III.101]. “Conventual” and the “robe and bread” bring the isolation that “Maximus” has undergone, in order to enact his project (of making the world anew?/ of remaining on the axis, distanced/ in the realm of “myth” and less with the physical interrelation with humans, themselves).
This “aloneness” seems responded-to in the second stanza, where Maximus is in sexual intimacy with the earth. The narrative voice states, “… It is not I,/ even if he life appeared/ biographical. The only interesting thing/is if one can be/ an image/ of a man,” [III.101]. The poetics in this statement values voice that is not “I”, but clearly seems to be “I”. It also brings up questions I can’t quite yet articulate about “identity politics” in the poetry world, as a reflection of the injustice, exploitation & inequity that exists world world. Many times in the text, Olson’s “intent” is ambiguous, as the narrative voice refuses to provide an “explanation” or contexulization of the action. Of course, in one sense, one aspect of poetry is to leave the reader in this space of uncertainty. Yet why not, to a degree, allow the “I” in the space of this poem, when it exists in the space of so many others in the book, in many senses. There is the sense Olson is writing of his personal life here & uncomfortable (?) in the fact of it, yet refusing to validate the space for the personal to happen, instead, privileging the image the thing makes, over the thing itself.
The distance of “world” and “voice”, of “character” and “personal [character]” are revisited multiple times in this section. In the poem on III.102: “…My son//leagues off, and I/high here on the little hill, all the world//close, and far away…”. On III.103: “Here in the Fort my heart doth/ harden,/ Or my will does, and my/ heart/ goes/ far far/ farther//Into the Diagram”. Here, Maximus describes the heart “hardening” in the space of geography/ of the natural world (where it went, in the previous poems, for solace) and into the “Diagram”. The diagram relating to the abstract pattern of the poem, itself.

Entry 17: Page 473-506

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 11, 2009 9:31 PM)
The Maximus Poems Reading Response 17: p 473-506 “December 22nd” pg 482 The Living Sea
In Olson’s poem entitled “December 22nd,” the date of the Winter Solstice, a rather interesting, if not alarming, depiction of the seashore is portrayed. It is immediately personified as the Earth’s “skin,” its rocks “stretched,” and its sand “swallowed” by the sea. The sea seems to overwhelm and drown the shore on this particular date, just as the night drowns the day, or the moon drowns the sun.
“The Island” in the sea is then depicted as a stronghold, “a floating cruiser or ironclad monitor,” attempting to survive the sea’s suffocation. Its floating body “all laid out on top of the water” is then compared to Buddhists religions, but also calls to mind Western Christianity, with Jesus’ walk on the water. The fact that religion is resisting the rising tide of the Solstice renders it a pagan ritual, and it was, in fact, a critical aspect of pagan religions. However, the island is also described as one of “fullness and Pertinax,” who was a Roman emperor for 86 days during the tumultuous year in Rome that had 5 successive emperors. Therefore the specific religions are shows as short-lived replacements.
The rocks still “melt into the sea,” as do “the forests behind.” The Living Earth is bound to succumb to the rising sea, just as the Earth’s people are bound to succumb to the natural (and often considered pagan) cycles of the Earth. This is proven in the final statement of the page: “all the sea calm and waiting, having come so far.” During the short reign of all of these religions, of Taurus, Aries, and Pisces, the sea continued to wait patiently; sure enough it will soon be its turn for the age of Aquarius.

Entry 17: Page 473-506

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 12:04 AM)
Sonnets have been on my mind lately. I was recently reading some of Bernadette Mayer’s sonnets (out of all of which the only formal element that ties them together is the fact they all have fourteen lines) and thinking about what
characteristics of the form actually make a poem a sonnet or not. Is it the fourteen lines, the elusive and often unrequited love found within the content, or the simple act of decrying a piece as sonnet that makes it so? Well, out of over 600 pages of projective verse, Charles Olson leaves behind a little formal present on page 484 with the simple post script Sonnetina. Sonnetina fits the fourteen line criterion of a sonnet, but it follows neither a petrachan or English structure to its contents. instead, the sonnet is split into 3 stanzas, two of which containing six lines each, followed by a final couplet. There lacks rhyme and set meter or syllabic count. Yet the lines aren’t completely even either, with the stanza breaks often occurring in the middle of the line (an effect which, when the poem is collapsed onto itself, reveals only 12 lines and not 14). Yet this illusive nature somewhat mirrors the content in which “Stage Head & Tablet Rock floated up in the mad mist,” being the only two landmarks that “show,” over the “whitening out.” but as the sun comes out, and the white recedes, they appear (or paraphrasing, sink back to normal place) and “ride as islands, from the glaze”. as such the form mirrors the floating of the two features, independent and disconnected under the guise of the sonnet form, only cleverly re-revealing themselves for what they are “as eddies work tidewards drawn/ toward the River pulling as the sun does the Fabrick apart.”

________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Entry 18: Page 507-537

“As of Parsonses or Fishermans Field or Cressys Beach…” is a poem about cyclical time. He references many different times and places, from the Aztec shamans who eat the teonanacatl to acquire wisdom of the earth, to Chaucer’s England, who used comedy to relate man’s experience on earth. Another recognizable reference is Olson’s reference to Philomel: “the Muses? Where were the Muses – are the Muses alwaysin the guises of the birds upon the earth, there a nightingale, here a nightingale, Cressy’s beach a nightingale oh here nightingales?…in any case any way always I was drummed ahead by nightingales alone” (510). Olson evokes a time or place that makes its reference significant to us in the present; he does so continually throughout the poem, as he imagines Gloucestor as it was first inhabited by Smith, for example, and how that historical context places him in the present; remember that “the history is the present”, for Maximus. This idea is here shown as the nightingale being not just as the legend of Philomel, but as many nightingales, which represents the accumulation of impact that this legend has had on different cultures and times. It is, as the poem is dedicated to “in celebration of Events long past” (510). I think the use of allusion has become a bit muddled, but the point is the adoption of the ideas of times past and using those ideas in the present for self-betterment: Olson berates Chaucer, but then hopes that “you shall, when I return you to Earth, I hope know more” (510). The active role of the present dominates this sentence about the past, with I, or Olson being shown as modifying the past to become more knowledgeable. It is also for those nightingales presence in this modern world that “have led our lives to be these things instead of Kings”. I take the Kings to be as Tireus of the Philomel mythology; Kings are in the plural because it shows the multiple rapings that could have taken place had those nightingales silent songs not have been a reminder in the present. This does relate to the qualification of Olson’s work bearing an optimistic quality.

Entry 18: Page 507-537

18 – Joe Wolff (Nov 6, 2009 6:27 PM)
Entry 18 The blank space on page 529, here: General Court action_________________1639 had finally decide that is reminiscent of a Pound quote from Confucius in Canto XIII. “And even I can remember/ A day when the historians left blank in their writings/ I mean for things they didn’t know…” Pound often employed blank spaces in his own verse. This part of the technique of being a poet historian, it is a more ancient way of remembering.
Olson cites Massachusetts longstanding stance against slavery: return these men, right back, and see they get to their own
homes, you’ll sell no human flesh, alive or dead, in Boston. (530)
having care
hating error, desiring (536) This seems to be a reference to Pound who wrote, “Muss., wrecked for an error”(Cantos 815) However Olson hating
Pound for this error is in it self a fascist feeling, but it is not worth it to try to pinpoint what Olson is pointing to too closely because the texture of his lines runs deeper than a singular understanding.
God, desiring that society & belief are one,
For Olson “society & belief” come to the same thing. God is revealed in the Pronouns, the authors we read, the teachers we have who guide us to Truth. The mystic is partly in the blank spaces left by the Historian.

Entry 18: Page 507-537

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 7, 2009 11:31 AM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 18, Pp. 507-537
“The usefulness” has been recovered by Whitehead, as it was “trampled out” first by Plato and then by Descartes and incidentally by Winthrop (528). But Whitehead, in order to restore what is knowledgeable, also “tramples out [the notions but] with great care.” Everything examined by Descartes (and the sometimes negative results yielded by such examinations) must be examined. Maximus would likely agree that “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and Descartes’ sometimes selfish convictions in the Dialogues (e.g. that Men are superior to other animals) should not detract from his celebration of thought and what that celebration allowed other later philosophers to consider.
Whitehead’s work with Russell aligns with Plato’s theory of the Forms, but their work took it one step farther with the heavy inclusion of mathematics into the system. Plato developed the theory that there were concrete particulars and abstract universals (the Forms). Each particular was an instantiation of a Form. I will look into the details, but from what we have read so far, Olson, with great appreciation, glorifies Whitehead’s ability to connect the particulars and the corresponding universals. They may exist in different planes (one actually and the only other abstractly), but the connection of the two is important for Maximus’s project. Any such separation could lead to a disconnect between people’s behavior and the behavior itself. For instance, a particular good act would be considered only a mere instance of the total Good. A person then could testify that a bad action of his is not as detrimental to him and his neighbors as it is not the Bad itself. But Maximus wants a unity between our actions and their relation to the world. He desires that “a Nation and / God, desiring / the society & belief / are one,” and not simply closely related, but ONE (536).

Entry 18: Page 507-537

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 11, 2009 10:41 PM)
The Maximus Poems
Reading Response Entry 18, p507-537
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3442/3277734903_280dc5a8be.jpg
“JUST AS MORNING TWILIGHT AND THE GULLS, GLOUCESTER, MAY 1966 THE FULL FLOWER MOON”
Throughout this poem, Olson refers to the “cinnamon moon,” while the title references the “flower moon.” Since describing the moon as “cinnamon” is not a common metaphor, nor a particularly straightforward one, it is interesting to combine the two moon metaphors together. The resulting metaphor compares the moon to the cinnamon flower, s photo of which is included in the link above. The photo also is reminiscent of the star-nosed mole posted by Laura. In this imagery of the moon, Olson unifies all of the tesserae of the Earth’s cycles: the fylfot, the nasturtium, the circling planets and resulting zodiac symbols, and the cycle that controls the sea, the moon.
Olson seems to reflect on the conditions and effects of the moon’s cycle in vague and disconnected, but often lovely terms throughout the page and a half of this particular poem. He notes the moon as “an image in my life as it now going on to China will twelve hours from now bring tides again on this side,” recognizing the moon’s effect on the entirety of the world. He then references the scientific reasoning behind the moon’s gravitational pull, as “solar proton ion force,” but dismisses this alleged pull, insisting that they “were not effected too in birth and or conception or in both by either ions stored in earth or thrown at her by the sun at equinox, like fluctuation to the moon’s twy-tidal affect.” Yet Olson ends the poem asking the moon for guidance, “to teach [him] to swallow” certain facts of life. Perhaps, then, Olson is simply insisting that the moon’s cycle cannot be explained away by science–though this is a crucial part of understanding the moon and the Earth, its beauty and its effects on the inhabitants of the Earth is also a personal, non-scientific experience.
Entry 18 – Ian Mintz – IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 14, 2009 4:27 PM)
The apparently inconsequential title, “The Day’s Beginnings,” takes on an insidious quality as the poem unfolds. First, the day belongs to the gulls “on the grass” (507). The world is tranquil and unspoiled by the clamor-producing “human beings,” “animals [and] children” (507). Then, the dogs rise and are “let out from each house” at the “same moment” (507). “One thinks of all the hands / That are raising dingy shades / In a thousand furnished rooms” in T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes” (21-23). The families–dogs, children, mothers and fathers–are identical; they are cogwheels. The children
are not “making their way off to” school, but to become “husbands, soon” and “wives” (507). The “day’s then well,” isn’t it, because everything is in line?
This is a characterization–a caricature–of American family life. The day does not belong to the individuals; they are faceless dogs, children, husbands and wives. The day belongs to the day itself, for it is “The Day’s Beginnings.” The individuals belong to the structure of (work)day and night: they rise in the day and sleep in the night. The “‘Mother’ in the kitchen” belongs to societal conventions. When the “day’s then well- / begun,” individuals lose their autonomy by sacrificing it to custom (507).
It is curious that the line, “next of course the children,” follows “‘Mother’ in the kitchen” (507). Because of the poem’s structure, one thinks of not only a prescribed series, but of a “main course [of] roast chicken with mashed potatoes and peas” (Dictionary.com). The children are thus fodder that their mothers and fathers serve to societal structure. The clock continues to keep the time.
This was Melis’s observation, but I think it enriches my analysis. “Chas. O.” Looks a bit like “chaos” (507). The letters are a bit scrambled, so “Chas. O.” is even more chaotic. Olson is an aberration.

Entry 18: Page 507-537

Laura (Nov 21, 2009 2:01 PM)
Events, measured
The poem-piece on III.124, heavily influenced by Whitehead, is equally a map of Olson’s process and the process of his work. The first section presents two angels, who appear in Corbin’s Avicenna and the Visionary Road as the representatives who exist in the binary of process (akin to modern thought of the hemispheres of the brain), “One occupies the right side: they are the angles who know and order. Opposite them, a group occupies the left side: they are the angles who obey and act. Sometimes these angels descend to the climbes of men and genii, sometimes they mount to heaven. It is said that among their number are the two angels to whom the human being is entrusted those who are called ‘Guardians and Noble Scribes’—one to the right, the other to the left. He who is to the right belong to the angels who order: to him it falls to dictate. He who is to the left belong to the angles who act; to him it falls to write” (qtd. In Butterick 629).
The speaker of the poem states the importance and impossibility of obeying these masters/angels. (See Spicer quote below for another, slightly related, take on notation/dctation.) Then, “But,/”, the speaker questions the relationship of this construct to his own process. The narrative follows in pious questioning of meter/measurement in relation to, perhaps, the cannon, and to Whitehead’s “system of coordinates.” Whereas the first section of the poem presents a map process in which the individual is displaced by higher angels/muses, what follows seeks to test/clarify/write through the process of writing. The measurement that Whitehead offers in Process and Reality is useful to the poem, “Measurement Is now possible throughout the extensive continuum…The only point to be remembered is that each system of ‘coordinates’ must have its definable relation to the analogy which constitutes congruence” (141).
The “Guardian” who dictates, reflects the systems of coordinates, which are lived events/action in space, producing a congruence of the abstract patterns (though, to Olson, not abstract in the things themselves) of phenomenon and text.
Congruence, brining the word together with its meaning, and the thing it represents, is a primary project of the MP. To create a congruence in the world it creates. Commissure. And how, the speaker asks, does the measure relate to the material, the lived life? “does my Life grow/ out of my “life” Likewise—likewise?/is the Modus/ absolute [I say it,/ as a Prayer” (III.125).
“all does rhyme” suggests, in relation to the Maximus Poems,, the rhyming of events, maps, images, stories, nouns, and words themselves.
* Jack Spicer: “And things which are in you, the poem comes distorted through. Your tongue is exactly the kind of tongue you’re born with, and the source of energy, whatever it is, can take advantage of your tongue, can make it do things that you didn’t think it could–but your tongue will want to return to the same normal position of ordinary cleft palate speech of your own dialect, and this is the kind of thing you have to avoid. There are a great many things you can’t avoid. It’s impossible for the source of energy to come to you in Martian or North Korean or Tamil or any language you don’t have–or, at least, don’t have something of. It’s as if a Martian comes into a room with children’s blocks–with ABCDE, which are in English–and he tried to convey a message–this is the way the source of energy goes–but the blocks on the other hand are always resisting it.”

Entry 18: Page 507-537

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 12:06 AM)
The pervasive tidal symbolism present throughout the maximus poems might help illuminate the flux and delicate balance of Olson’s internal state. The section titled “JUST AS MORNING TWILIGHT AND THEGULLS, GLOUCESTER, MAY 1966 THE FULL FLOWER MOON” on page 520 begins with a description of the early dawn over Stage Fort park. This descriptions refers to the moon as “cinnamon” multiple times as well as calling it “one night short of full as I too/ almost full.” What exactly is a cinnamon moon. Is that describing the color/texture of the low setting moon? In which case a brown, or cinnamon would connote a harvest moon. besides the point. it’s the lines “identity itself a recognition cognition” followed by “—that this moon in itself is cinnamon and bore/ an image in my life as it now going on to China will/ twelve hours from now bring tides again on this side,”. Remember, it is from the ebbing tidal river that maximus finally leaves dogtown at the end of Vol II.
Tides clearly tie down the maritime symbolism and history throughout the poem. tides play an important part in sea farers daily schedule as it helps determine when and where a boat can enter or leave a protected bay or harbor, as well as which direction and what strength currents will pull. It is the cinnamon moon that is ultimately responsible for the tidal flux but there is the line at the end of page 520 “like-fluctuation to the moon’s twy-/tidal affect.” This brought to mind Ben Jonson’s elegy “To the immortall memorie, and friendship of that noble paire, Sir Lucious Cary, and Sir H. Morison.” line 92 brings about a like minded enjambment—“to separate these twi–/Lights, the dioscuri. [sic]” Referencing the poem could be an attempt at dealing with both sides of the Maximus self (the sun/moon, dogtown/Gloucester, bright/melancholy etc.) as Olson echoes an old sentiment of Jonson throughout the Maximus Poems: “For, what is life, if measur’d by the space, Not by the act?”

________________________________________________________________________

 _______________________________________________________________________

Entry 19: page 538-568

Entry 19 Olson seems to be making a claim against Fascism. “He is only valuable/to himself—ugh, a species/acquiring/distaste/for itself”(538). The human tendency to kill itself, because it thinks one is different, but really to kill another is to cut off one’s own right hand. In this Poem “OCEANIA” Olson is staying up all night watching the tides come in and out. He wrote this poem on the back of blank checks. This information is relevant because it is the “Context of Poetry” that he and Creeley talk about. The pen and paper the poet writes with affects how they form their line on the page. The lines of this page flow down in a narrow width. Olson always presents himself as a man with little time, he writes his poems on the go, with whatever materials he has at hand, he needs to get his thoughts down fast. He is staying up to meet the dawn. Pound often has the image of Dawn in his Cantos. Although one gets the impression that while Olson stays up to meet Dawn, Pound gets up early like the early bird.

Olson’s descriptions Aryanian migrations seems suspicious. alludes to eugenics in “Same Day, Later” (549). Then he describes the Teutonic Migrations on page 552. This is a movement towards America. “America, Ezra Pound.” One wonders what Olson is getting at when he says “lie KELTIC a//spore? a//new breeding?” As Basil Bunting would say “It looks good on the page” but what is he driving at?
There is a reference to “the Sapphite” which is the tradition started by Sappho of the individual lyric voice. “he brought/ these versions of the animate nature of Creation, of” (561) With Olson’s devotion to Pronouns he becomes something of an animist. With his constant use of capitalized words in this poem, each object of thought takes on a life like the word God or Him.

Entry 19: page 538-568

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 11, 2009 9:30 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 19, Pp. 538-568
In the last line of Part III of “Maximus, at the Harbor” Maximus specifies that “The great Ocean is angry. It wants the Perfect Child” – a child which we have not been directly acquainted with until now, 300 pages later (241, 538-42). In “Oceania” he ruminates on leaving “this gate / of my life / & of the city” (542). This gate, between the city and his future/the ocean seems to be the shoreline on which he stands or looks; he goes on further to say that the “Ocean was its father”—i.e. the gate’s father. So then the Child of the great Ocean is the shore.
The Child is the meeting point between the Ocean and the City, the tesserea commisure. Is this gate meant to keep people like Maximus out? Is the Ocean exclusive? Can people go in and out through this gate? There are those men who “say why not / stop ocean’s tides?” These are the same men who cause us to be “faced / with a wall going / up—man is now his own production” (538). We are the makers of the so-called gate, the wall, the fact that there is a division, a tesserea at all. Maybe the shoreline is not the “Perfect” Child that the great Ocean wants, but an accidental child, attributed to the Ocean by man himself. We are the ones who prevent us from going to sea; Maximus also calls this Child “the Moment of the Mind / and Thought.” An awareness of this division causes us to reflect on this division and to hopefully move past it by realizing it is not actually a division.
“[W]hat lies / outside us is not formless” (547). That is to say, what lies outside us has a form. It is interesting that he uses the word “lies” to explain something outside us, when he could have easily navigated around it. He could have used “sits”, “resides”, etc. but the use of “lies” connotes a sense of deception on part of the things external to us. Not that external forces are themselves deceptive but their existence is deceptive; they are not that external at all. He follows this line with the qualification, “it’s / as we are,” suggesting that “what lies outside us” has a form and that form is us. What we consider external is actually internal, and we need to handle that reality.

Entry 19: page 538-568

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 14, 2009 1:02 PM)
p 562-63
“And the Perfect Bowl of the Sky of Gloucester in which these Events May be seen Each Evening Hour Each Day before Night comes to cover Heaven’s approach, to make Love to Earth And bear Us as our Ancestors were So Borne”
In this passage Olson depicts the sky as a stage, as a “Perfect Bowl…in which these Events May be seen.” Thus the sky bears the history and future of mankind and of Earth. The movement of the heavens reflects the movement of time and can be witnessed every night. Despite Olson’s illustration of Heaven’s encounter with Earth as more of a rape than love and full of disturbing imagery of Oedipul desires in the preceding pages, by ending with a natural description of their meeting, he affirms Man’s association with myth and with the Earth as natural.
The myth explicity discussed in this passage is that of Gaia (Earth) and Okeanos (Heaven) who bore the Olympians. Yet, because their father did not want his children to succeed him, Okeanos continually raped Gaia so his heirs could not escape her womb. Through trickery, Zeus was able to castrate his father and release his siblings, the act of castration creating Venus, or love. This is interesting to note, as even in Olson’s concluding lines about Love that bore our ancestors, he recognized that it is through trickery that Heaven makes love to Earth, for it is under the guise of Night which “cover[s] Heaven’s approach.”
Thus, again Olson alludes to the rape of the Earth by Man, or Man’s desire to Cut the Earth and penetrate this Cut for personal dominion and profit. Despite this, Olson recognizes that this is how “our ancestors were so borne” and so we will continue to be borne of the Earth.

Entry 19: page 538-568

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 16, 2009 1:57 AM)
And Man Shall Continue To Be the Mystica of This One System Flying Loose in the Melee of the Universe (562)
It might be useful to consider the passage above in relation to this one: “the moon solely / planets–stars […] all nothing / but what is, equally–all physica” (562, 560). To humanity, Earth is a “great Goddess,” and the sun is “God the Father” (559). Think of the innumerable galaxies. Perhaps their planets and suns have absorbed meaning from nearby life; perhaps they are “all nothing / but […] physica” (560). The moon and the sun do not have inherently mystical, or spiritually symbolic, qualities. Humans “Continue To Be,” and are responsible for, “the Mystica” (562). The numen exists within humanity and within “other animals–they too must know something / of what is to love, to be alive, to have / life” (559). Humanity’s “One System” is the galaxy, the histories, the myths, the languages, and everything else that orders humanity’s place in the chaotic “Melee of the / Universe” (562).
Humans certainly are not the only source of order in the chaotic “Melee of the / Universe” (562). For example, the otter, the keystone species in kelp forests, prevents urchins from devouring kelp and kelp holdfasts. No matter how the relationship evolved, it is now a delicate ecosystem. Humans, in fact, destroyed this structure at one point. Humans are not responsible for a system that they observe, but they are responsible for their understanding of it. They also create systems through languages, histories, etc. The Universe can “lend the / experience of / [the] Truth” of its “completeness, and thereafter difference / in the being” (564). Myriad things form a whole through their interdependence. This is a kind of system:
I looked up and saw its truth through everything
sewn in & binding
each seam (564)

Entry 19: page 538-568

Laura (Nov 22, 2009 2:26 PM)
This is a various “section” to comment on, as the text changes dramatically in tone and what could be perceived as intent. Though the theme of “father” is reoccurring, as are the uncertainties of sex.
The poem on III.155 contains the repetitive insistence that man is eating himself:
…man is now his own production, he is omnivorous, the only trouble with his situation is he eats
himself and since 1650 this infestation
of his own order has jumping to 2,700 million and
going to 6,2000 on January 1st 2000 is
his—the People are now the science of the Past—his increment. Only he has no thought left, nor money nor mortalnesss. He is only valuable
to himself—ugh, a species acquiring distaste for itself…
This passage, on an obvious level, speaks to population growth and the space of the ever-increasing human presence on earth, and the consequence of this for earth, itself, and on the condition of an individual viewing herself. Uncertain in this poem, is the place of “he”. Taken as a pronoun signifying the universal human condition, and not a particularly universal “he” (so as to adhere to a specific set of “he”’s), the passage states that humans has fallen/ degraded/ eroded in both their “infestation” of earth and the “infestation” of their consciousness (or “own order”) that is, the text argues, concurrent to population growth. The “his” in the poem seems to relate to a scientist, or whom for which a reduction to “increment” is necessary. (This relates, in some ways, to Whitehead’s view of events, though in this passage, appears in a different context.)
Earlier in the poem, the speaker witnesses the human attempt to dominate/control nature, responding: no paleographic wind will record these divergent and solely diversive animadversions—some part also of emotions or consciousness….
There seems to be a strange concession in this section, that past cannot “preserve” or describe the various “chaos” of the present. curiously, this is the process the poem often evokes. Animadversions is a curious word. Alone, meaning “strong criticsm” or “a critical or sensorious remark”. As a conjoined word, “anima” comes from Jung, as the feminine inner-personality of the male’s unconscious + “adversion”: “a turning towards; attention.”
Though,
Olson’s narrative of the “fall” of the species takes an anti-semetic tone in the text on III.163 with the “geologic” connection of Guanches with Gloucester, and that, “…One even, at this date begins to look on man as/ a pure decline from/ Paleolithic…”. The text moves into Norse mythology and asserts the desire to “see” from the space of earth as one continent. In this poem, the repetition of eating occurs in relation to Greek mythology: “Hunger Himself or Mouth-Without-The-World-To-Eat”. The Greek relation to this state is chaos, which the text relates to the Norse Ginunga Gap, which the text relates to the “‘hole’” of topos (place).
Perhaps the “INSTANTER” of this poem is what makes it so difficult to read – it seems to read back on itself, contradict itself. The anti- semetic/eugenic presences in the poem could be the fault of process, in the sense that Olson’s insistence on the projective creates, indeed, an abstract text which the reader is left to grapple with intent. Did he really intend to justify the project of eugenics? Did he intend to assert white supremacy? The vacancy of evidence of intent, or what the thought was, behind raising such issues and then dropping them without a trace, into a narrative with a wholly ‘other’ tone, is telling in itself.
Also to note in this section:
The appearance of Intichium (III.174), the bisexed (like the uroborus) male totum cult- cult of activity of motherly men (aboriginal Australian). Also associated with the funeral rite of the primal father. Olson’s daughter appears in this poem, and in his processing of this relationship, he moves associatively to the younger poets who he has taken under his wing– Weiners, Dorn, Ginsburg, Creeley.
On 559, the ambush of the “Son’s” on their father’s relationship with their mother. (Here, cosmopomorphed as Heaven and Earth). & in the poem that follows, a graphic, erotic birth/sex scene including “…our/Parents and their repeated/occurrence” (562). These poems also reflect on the death of Olson’s second wife a few years earlier.
Interesting insight into these final notes are taken up here: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/olson/blog/wellman.pdf

Entry 19: page 538-568

MELIS ATALAY (Nov 23, 2009 1:19 PM)
“This town works at dawn because fishermen do – it makes therefore a very different City, a hippocampus of a City halfish set & halfish land & day is riverine: when men are washed as gods in the Basin of Morning” (558). Indeed, the town’s identity is defined by its rhythm of labor. I see the dependability of a fisherman working akin to the same natural force that drives the tides, for example. The “dawn” mentioned adds to this being of a natural force, instead of it being a town working at 8am, or some other human generated time division. The “halfish set & halfish land” makes this place sound grotesque, though; the land isn’t even safely firm for these workers. I think this comments on the “town” being weaker in force than natural forces. Man-made technology, here, is weaker than the natural forces. I think that the city, though, is such because of the person; remember; “paradise is a person”. That is to say, the city is such because of the “hippocampus”, or because of the human ability to remember and relate facts. Overall, there is tension here between human forces and Natural forces.
“migration in fact (which is probably as constant as any one thing: migration…This is the rose is the rose is the rose of the World” (565). This section seems to mark the beginning of the end for Maximus’s concerns. That the world has migration as a constant actuates the world as a dependable, in a way. I notice that the next page talks includes mention of “hands” in relation to lovemaking, but with the extended metaphor, the hands are there for the regenerative dependability of the “legs lifted”, that is to say, the dependability and regeneration caused by the constant movement of the earth’s axes. In MP, the eye and the hand have been closely associated since the beginning. They are both active instruments with which to experience the world.
The moon has been a symbol throughout MP, but it occurs more heavily starting in this section. Maximus is now awake much of the night, walking around the harbor. “came through the night the moon was so swollen” (542). Once again, the moon is associated as a feminine force; here, the moon takes on a pregnant quality, rendering the moon of the night life-giving. See also later on page 562: “Each Turn of Earth Before Our Own Eyes Each Day She Turns Her Back on Sun, And Night brings Heaven to Her to Begin Again”. The night is marked time of beginnings, then. “to make Love to Earth And bear Us as our Ancestors were So Borne” (562). This is an emphasis of cyclical time reverting back to its origin. Ancestors is capitalized to emphasize the abstract concept of us being of our ancestors, not specific people, but the general sense of such.
“-of which Life is not solely Ours not Everywhere not all” (562). With this quote, I see a deemphasis of geocentricism. Olson urges the reader to consider that the Time and Space, in the ways that we think of those concepts, are human- conceived, and are absolute time. However, there was an eternal, metaphysical Time that existed before humans did.
S/V Migration (accidently postedn in eighteen) – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 12:08 AM)
Migration works on a layered scale throughout The Maximus Poems: Migration in fact ( which is probably as constant in history as any one thing:    migration
is th pursuit by animals, plants & men of a suitable —and gods as well—& preferable
environment..there is the continental migration and inspirational work of Wegner pervasive throughout the work; the constant manipulation and etymoligyzing of mythos (illustrated in a migratory way as transcendednt (or incident) between rifts of cultures); the migratory nature of history (“my memory is the history of time” being anyone’s memory and history transitive between) the migratory nature of the individual traveling, as it were, the tidal bounds between glouscter and dogtown—or as Olson most concisely puts it on page 565 “that the Mind or Will always/ successfully opposes & invades the Previous.” Whats interesting here, though, is this page, which suggests a certain migratory, or mutability of truth lies directly oppisite a page which begins: “The history/ of Earth    And of / Creation (that the Universe/ is the plataforma of/ Truth—” a page that starts at a tautological and absolutely objective truth. The image of “This/ is the rose is the rose is the rose    of the World” shows the delicate layering of truth as a migratory and ever changing thing.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 20: Page 569-596

Entry 20
This section starts of in Berlin of all a places on December 25. The location of Berlin conjures up associations of the Norse myths. Olson also portrays himself as a lonely traveler watching the snowfall from a hotel room window. On the next pages, 570-571, the snow is still falling. Olson mythologizes his sorrow in the suffering of TiuBirka and Enyalion. Their hardships are his own. His connection to the mythos does not have to be taken as an escape from reality; on the contrary, myth can serve to heighten the human experience. Myth is hyper-reality, all the usual feelings of being human (passion, aggression, etc.) are intensified toward tragic or comic proportions. Through myth we come back to the world we live in.
“Celestial evening, October 1967” is based on a true experience(573). As found in Tom Clarke’s biography, Olson actually collapsed from exhaustion, walking around Dogtown looking for new material, not far from his house. “Advanced out toward the external form/ the time I did actually lose space control,/ here on the Fort and kept turning left/ like my star-nosed mole batted/ on the head, not being able to/ get home 50 yards as I was/ from it.” Olson also writes in a notebook that in the early 60’s he lost space control (Butterick). This could explain why some of Olson’s descriptions of real places seem to float in an abstract sea relationship apart from the actual physical space. Olson “projects” his ego onto the world to make it his own. Abstract and real are twisted together in his perception of Pronouns. Olson’s drive to turn inward may have been a matter of necessity, of self-survival. As He advances out toward the external, he loses part of his foundation. Therefore he goes back inside for a kind of spiritual repair of his soul and body. “Wholly absorbed/ in my own conduits to/ an inner nature or subterranean lake/ the depths or bounds of which I more and more/ explore and know more/ of”(585).
As in Tantric Yoga, the outer landscape becomes a manifestation of one’s inner landscape. “Outer Darkness Inner Schoodic”(589). The “Outer Schoodic” which are real cliffs in Gloucester, “slips/ into the specialization of/ Darkness of the stones tumbled/ in their own congeries.” Many Yogis (in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist traditions, etc.) believe we are in the dark-age right now, “the Kali Yuga.” If we want to make it though to the light-age, in the words of eco- poet Gary Snyder we have, “some hard yoga in front of us.”

Entry 20: Page 569-596

BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 14, 2009 1:11 PM)
p 577-78 Imparting a Message
Throughout this particular poem in The Maximus Poems, Olson describes the sun trying to send him a message. The sun is “right in [his] eye,” “balzing at [him] in full,” and “enforcing itself on [him.]” There is a sense of urgency in the message as well, “that [he] better hear it” before the sun slips behind the hill and is gone. The somewhat obscure message seems to be: “be hot man, be hot, be hot and orange.” The sun is hot and orange, but man is not, so it seems a strange message to desperately impart–it could be, then, that the sun is telling Man to be as his nature makes him, just as the sun is as his nature makes him.
The quickly setting sun that shines its message in Mans’ eye could also be compared to Olson shining his poetic message in Mans’ eye, imploring him to listen. This comparison could stem from a preceding page (575) where Olson notes critics who say his “poetry doesn’t help anybody.” Thus Olson is “sending you this message as [he] slips exactly to the West,” “burning you man,” and “now blaring” his message. Olson proclaims his message as he moves across the sky, from rising to setting, until “I am gone.”

Entry 20: Page 569-596

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 17, 2009 3:51 PM)
in front of my glasses in front of my eyes and
two thicknesses of glass windows also between me and the outside, trying to see actual flakes (569)
The speaker attempts to get at the reality of the world in this passage. Perspective–physical and mental–affects the speaker’s understanding of “the outside” (569). What are the “actual flakes”? That is, what is an objectively real flake? Is a flake a flake to a flake? Also worth noting is that every flake is unique (the production of identical snowflakes is possible, but it is very unlikely), and from the outside, the flakes become indistinct as they join layers of snow. I am speaking, of course, on the level of the naked eye.
Genesis comes to the fore: “my injury, in my side, not the lance not the lance by which watery fluid, I imagined, ran out the hole in his side” (569). God Eve fashions out of Adam’s side. In the passage above, Maximus places himself in the Genesis myth. According to Genesis, Adam is our (human) father, and Eve, our mother. In this sense, Adam’s injury is Maximus’s injury. One can look at “my injury,” however, in another way (569). It is Maximus’s injury (he owns it), and he envisions the event in his own way: “I,” Maximus, “imaged” (569). As noted in class, Maximus tries to make archetypes such as “the Tree” (Gilgamesh’s plant of life, Yaxche, Bodhi Tree, Tree of Knowledge/Life in Genesis, etc.), the “Serpent,” creation myths and others his own (569).
The speaker universalizes experience through “a vast / internal life […] full of sounds & memoried / objects” (573). We have […] features / and their forms, whatever grace or ugliness our legs / etc possess, it all” (573). To wield identity, one must possess the history of the world. One already does possess the history of the world, in a sense, but one can enrich her or his life by becoming aware of it.

Entry 20: Page 569-596

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 20, 2009 8:19 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 20, Pp. 569-596
Prepositions are tools that Olson uses strategically to articulate his interest in movement. We have seen “above” and “below” laced throughout his poems, and in this section he begins to underline “through,” “to,” and etcetera. In “The Telesphere,” very romantically he writes of “the enormity / of the enjoyment that it is / flesh” and equates this sexual pleasure with what “it is to be loved” (576). And how exactly is this pleasure derived and felt? Through others. The enjoyment is felt through the “hoop” that is his “whole body,” which is “empty” but as strong as steel. He speaks of wanting “to grasp / someone else in [himself]” through himself…and eventually “out of [himself]”. All these movements and transfers are disorienting; they seem to eventually result in displacement, but this process is wholly essential and entirely natural. With, in, through, out.
“Love the World—and stay inside it” (582). It is not often that Olson plainly issues directives; he usually offers them more subtlety, by encouraging us, or by teaching from example, or sometimes even by poking fun at Vincent Ferrini. Perhaps now he urges us to Love the World because he is most serious about it. He wants no confusion, or misinterpretation. What is interesting is his conjunction of the two phrases: “Love the World”… “stay inside it.” Are they necessarily connected? Is there some causal relation? Must we stay inside this World in order to show our love for it, or does the imperativeness come from the fact that we cannot love it if we are no longer inside of it?
Immediately after that directive, he explains that we need to focus on our individual form, which holds “every automorphism.” Automorphism is a mathematical term which denotes an isomorphism of an object to itself. An isomorphism denotes a function of a one-to-one relation. Confusing, yes, but it seems that an automorphism then would communicate an even closer connection to oneself than a simple one-to-one relation. Not only are we unique in our form, but we are unique to ourselves in that uniqueness. We need to stay in the world to exercise this absolute distinctness; the world would not be complete without it.

Entry 20: Page 569-596

Laura (Nov 23, 2009 9:38 AM)
This section marks a turn to the introverted, introspective wandering in weather and text. Subterranean lakes – echoing the inland lakes that appear in the section before– heighten the sense of reflection present in the surface of contained bodies of water. There also seems to be a slight shift in perspective/process from projecting the Self through the ‘Sources’ to getting to the Sources through the ‘Self’. All of this occurring through the gaze turned inward,
In the poem on III.188, the speaker is situated, literally, between the ocean, the City, and memory of what was—a dune that had been removed. The stillness of the speaker allows for the panorama of observation, the text itself picking up energy in the heavens: “…Mars blowing/ crazy lights at night”. The poem continues its meditation on mediums moving through the field of perspective: …and as I write in the day light snow
covering the water and crossing the air between me and the City. Love the World—and stay inside it.
Concentrate
one’s own form, holding every automorphism
In the moment of the poem, the speaker situates himself, stills himself, and witnesses the parallels of phenomenon and his own making. Automorphism is from Weyl’s Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science, and is in alignment with the concept of congruence integral to Whitehead (Butterick 710).
The text cycles back to the necessity of concentration, as also present in “Maximus of Gloucester”: “I’ve sacrificed every thing, including sex and woman/ –or lost them—to this attempt to acquire complete/ concentration…” [III.101]. Also echoed later in III.191: “keeping my attentions as clear”.
These poems have in them, at all times, the residue of origin and death. From the sun setting (577-8); recollection of the cosmology of his birth [III.185]; the first person/parcel of Gloucester [III.196]. The texts also have an increased attention to weather events – dramatic shifts of the outer environment –perhaps reflecting the speaker’s own inner adjustments, as death feels closer.

Entry 20: Page 569-596

MELIS ATALAY (Nov 23, 2009 1:20 PM)
The poems comprising the ending of MP are fragmentary; however, the opposing tones coexist, and there is no urge to harmonize. For example, the “boiling sea” and “boiling land of page 580 is immediately followed by “the salmon of wisdom…feels the air enter into strike into one’s previously breathing system” on page 581. These are the radicals that Olson utilizes that we have discussed in class. Because Maximus now has realized actuation of the past in his present being, he is open to the energies of the instant. He can now use these radicals because he has mapped out the energies of his universe. This reminds me of a statement Maximus made in the beginning of the poem: “I have had to learn the simplest things last. Which made for difficulties” (56). Indeed, we see that because of the difficulties and”heavy lifting” that Maximus has put in throughout MP, he can now make very loaded statements seem so simple and obvious.
“I need two sweet environments, of precreation, creation” (570). Since I have been doing some research on Nasir Tusi, I am easily reminded on his theosophy of cyclical time with this line. I quote from Corbin, “This world is not of an immutability and immobility presenting a simple contrast to the perishability of sensuous things; there are Events in Heaven, archetypal Events preceding the creation of things, and these Events are the very genesis of being”. Olson’s need for these two environments, then, is his need for reassurance of ontological considerations of cyclical time. Even though this section does include some images of death and cold snow, and the like, it is what Tusi would call the death of sensuous things, which is definitely not the same as the death of Eternal Time. This is then reassuring to one that is facing death, as Olson was.
Again, another interesting quote about the moon: “here on this plain where like my mole I have been knocked flat…I hear all, the new moon new in all the ancient sky” (574). We do see Olson admitting a momentary lapse as he has been “knocked flat”; however, he may be reassured because of the new moon. I have not yet reconciled the fact that he “hears” the moon, though, but still, the fact that his perceiving “all” is the perceiving of the moon is very heavy with meaning. It’s a reassurance of the immortal Natural force.
“only the diving alone interests me at all” (593).

Entry 20: Page 569-596

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 12:09 AM)
With winter in Maximus comes the often cold and insular ridgity of Olson’s more somber modes. Yet on page 582 we are given a more optimistic tone, “Love the World—and stay inside it./ Concentrate/ One’s own form, holding/ every automorphism.” This bittersweet sentiments seems to be contemplating suicide, but superseding it by staying inside the world to love. On this page, Maximus constructs a fylfot around him: “the ocean/ out one window rolling… the City out
the door on the next quarter… On my back the/ Harbor and over it the long arm’d shield of Eastern point.” all around him, spinning cinematically through the snow, Olson’s speaker beholds “all possible combinations of/ Creation.” It is a spectacular site, and in the midst of winter we once again find the speaker, who only pages before reintroduced the star-nosed mole (often referred to as “spinning friend”) a symbol of blind pleasentry and the inevitable cyclical spinning nature of the world (universe, truth, whathave you…)

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Entry 21: Page 597-617

Forums / Guide to the Maximus Poems of Charles Olson / Entry 21, p597-617
21 – Joe Wolff (Nov 11, 2009 2:21 PM)
Entry 21
“Gloucester too//is out of her mind and/ is now indistinguishable from/ the USA”(599). Olson was aware of Globalism before most people where. People where aware of industrialization, but they did not fully for see the consequences of it, like McDonalds or Starbucks establishing themselves in any country of the world. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road could not have been written today. As Kerouac, wrote that the pie got better as he headed west. Today if we followed his route on an interstate highway, we are likely to find the same chain restaurants the whole way. When Olson quotes Melville at the end of the poem, under these dimensions, the quote takes on an ironic tone. “We are not a narrow tribe of men…we are not a nation, so much as a world.” Melville is talking about how there is no such thing a chosen race, in the full quotation. Here is an example of how Olson’s thought is layered, and although different layers may contradict each other, they are all true thoughts to him.
He writes, “to build out of sound the walls of the city/ & display/ in one flower    the underworld    so that,”(600). As Olson approaches the last year of his life, he starts to write even sparser, and leaves even more hidden underneath the lines; like Persephone hidden in the underworld, ready to bloom when the reader’s imagination about the Text springs the images into their fruition.
Olson compares his story to a story of Homer’s death that he probably made up himself; “as Homer did that last night on Smyrna’s/ edge hard on the road-side ruts from/ having spent too long watching/ & eating too little…”(612). Elsewhere he writes of Homer forgetting to roll up in his sleeping rug before night fell and it got cold, because he was watching kids play, and he was found the next day dead (Butterick). Whether or not this story is true, it is Olson’s way of describing himself. He is so absorbed in his activity as a poet, and a watcher, that Olson forgets to take care of himself.

Entry 21: Page 597-617

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 17, 2009 4:47 PM)
I wrote this before reading Joe’s entry, so please forgive the iteration. oh Gloucester
has no longer a West end. It is a part of the country now a mangled mess of all parts swollen & fallen
into degradation (597)
As Gloucester ages, its essence begins to disappear. A “fake gasoline station / and A & P supermarket” replace the history, the liveliness and the genuineness of “Main street” (598). It’s likely that these corporations litter other parts of the USA, for Gloucester becomes “indistinguishable from / the USA” (599). The speaker mourns the lack of character. The “little boxes on the hillside” and the sensibility that they house replace the uniqueness of old Gloucester.
When Melville’s quote comes in, Maximus adds new dimension: “‘We are not a narrow tribe of men … we are not a nation, so much as a world'” (599). First, Maximus pines for old Gloucester and disapproves of the “fake gasoline station / and A & P supermarket” (598). He feels this way because the old, unique Gloucester is gone; Gloucester joins the mass of the nation. Then, it appears the Maximus celebrates the fact that we are “not a narrow tribe of men,” and he expands from a homogeneous nation–the USA–to the world (599). The speaker includes Melville’s quote probably to note that we should celebrate both our differences and our similarities. We should not think in terms of nation versus nation. When we destroy others, we harm ourselves and our Earth.
All of the “loneliness, bitterness, [and] resolvedlessness” on page 604 come out through gushing language. What is noteworthy is that the poem begins with a time, 5:30 A.M., and ends with the same time. All of the feelings, then, come out in a burst of restless despair.

Entry 21: Page 597-617

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 21, 2009 11:24 AM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 21, Pp. 597-617
On December 18th, Olson reminds us of the danger of a disconnect between the country and its men, which results in a disconnect between man and his own parts (597). He laments Gloucester’s loss of its “West / end” (?), and how Gloucester, along with the rest of the country, now sits haphazardly next to its neighbors—Gloucester belongs to a “mangled / mess of all parts swollen / & fallen / into/ degradation.” The parts have swollen to an unnatural size, demanding more room than was appropriated for them, and they have nowhere to go but down. They are now nothing more than “units of poor / sorts;” where did their value go?
Now swollen and fallen, each piece of land becomes “all hung up each one / like hanged / bodies.” Is the land sacrificing itself for us? Are we, in our relentless misuse, sacrificing our land? Are we crucifying it, blaming it for the degradation of our parts? Apparently, “nature IS / effected by / men.” We have come to see land as no more than our improvement of it. So what happens when we realize we have destroyed it? We have become “bad / husbandman” so she (the land) “goes away into / her unreflected / existence” (598). We have rendered the land our idle mate and, in
doing so, hung it and ourselves. Olson directly quotes Melville at the close of “December 18th” with the sentiment that “‘We are not a narrow tribe of men… we are not / a nation, so much as a world’” (599). More than paying tribute to our local land, we need to recognize its relevance to the entire nation, to the entire world, or else we are digging a deeper hole for ourselves than we can remove ourselves from. Once our land has repudiated us, we have nothing.
“Love life until it is / your own” (616). Love anything until it is your own, so you may have the chance to love it more. Olson ruminates on what it means “to objectify the possibility, the / Heavenly Flower of / One’s Own Possibility” (608). The particular possibility he is considering at this moment is the possibility “[j]ust to have her body in [his] mind.” He will love this possibility until he has managed to turn it into something real.

Entry 21: Page 597-617

Laura (Nov 23, 2009 10:44 AM)
In this section, the “flower of the underworld” reappears. Situated after the descriptions of the deadly destruction of the specifics of Gloucester, “…now indistinguishable from/ the USA.” (III.204), this cosmic flower is presented as an antidote (or not) to the loss in the “real” world. In Whitheadean/Olson terms, the flower represents a happening in the “actual” world, in which the “real” world is also a part (cue Stephanie’s presentation). “flower of the underworld” [III. 194], relates to the Golden Flower that appears earlier in the poems, and the text The Secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese book on alchemy. (A fitting appearance, as this section of the MP is heavily influenced by Chinese thought – early Chinese alchemy, the iChing, Confucism, etc., as well as alchemy in a global sense.)
flower of the underworld
to build out of sound the walls of the city
in one flower the underworld so that,
by such means the unique stand forth    clear itself
shall be made known [III.194]
& display
The poet uses sound to build “the real” – the infrastructure to define inhabitance. “display/ in one flower” suggests a concentration or single-pointed gaze upon one object, and to let that object relate the underworld (unconscious/unknown). To display is not an aggressive act—but rather, it’s offering a thing to let the thing be itself. In many places in the text exerts much pressure to lay the thing itself bare, but here, the “knowing” is nearly passive. “to
build out of sound”, also appearing in III.37, refers to Thebes building the walls of Amphion: “Amphion sang and built the wall to the music of his lyre” (Pausanias trans. Frazer, qtd. In Butterick 541). In a note, Olson commented: “the City’s walls shall not stay up if the words, and the music, are not said right.” (541).
This poem strikes me as an ars poetica & relates quite precisely to the poem on III.90:
an actual earth of value to construct one, from rhythm to image, and image is knowing, and knowing, Confucius says, brings one to the goal: nothing is possible without doing it…
The cosmology:    Vibration – sound – word enlightened – World – knowing – action.

Entry 21: Page 597-617

MELIS ATALAY (Nov 23, 2009 1:21 PM)
“the left hand is the calyx of the Flower can cup all things within itself…holding all tenderness as though hit were the soul itself, the Soul’s limb” (606). There are many of the important images of MP converging here. What most strikes me, though, is why the Soul is capitalized. The hand is cupping energy, and what energy is that? The energy is personified as the Eternal Soul, here. Again, this goes back to the slogan, “Paradise is a person”. That is to say, the abstract idea of cupping energy must be referred back to the person or the agent who enacts the action. Tusi says, “every concept in the world of the universal has its counterpart in the world of the individual. This is the phenomenological concept of middle voice, that makes it so every verb is mentally conjugated by the middle voice, which refers it back to the agent and so the reality of the verb.
“I was bold, I had courage, the tide tonight…as Homer did that last night on Smyrna’s” (612). We have seen Maximus emerge more at night in these last sections of MP. Here, he seems delusional a bit, perhaps from lack of sleep. His comparisons seem ridiculous, with his delusions of grandeur in comparing himself with Homer. I think that perhaps the reason he likes night so much is because he feels powerful. Is it because he is isolated perhaps? Indeed, on the next page, we see Maximus feeling much more impotent in the sun compared to himself in the night: “I believe in what the Arabs – that at least once a day (& for me it almost has to be sunset) to face the sun directly as often as it is out & let the rays or whatever (the fact of its existence, & that without itself as the hydrogen furnace there’d be no us on earth” (613). The sun’s force is so powerful, and Maximus likes to think that some of the sun’s power could be imparted unto him simply by being its presence. However, he is intimidated, and so contradicts himself. For although he says he would like to face the sun directly as often as it is out, he can only do so once a day, and while it is on the verge of night to top it off.
Brittney Stanley: Response 21 – BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 24, 2009 1:01 AM)
p. 600 “flower of the underworld to build out of sound the walls of the city
& display in one flower    the underworld    so that,
by such means    the unique stand forth    clear itself
shall be made known”
This short verse acts as a proclamation of the subversive, or the “underworld,” the Dogtown of society. By beginnning the page with “flower of the underworld,” Olson references page 568, which states “the flower grows down.” Both of these images call to mind the inverse tree, an motif strewn throughout philosophy, alchemy, and various religions. This
inverse tree with it’s roots in the sky and its branches and flowers in the Earth often represents perfect enlightenment and thus, in his verse, Olson seems to necessitate a union of the above world and the underworld for the perfect harmony and enlightenment of society.
By asking “to build out of sound the walls of the city,” Olson perhaps puts forth the idea that poetry is what can unite the underworld, or the repressed, with the rest of society. As poetry is often read aloud and when done well can create metaphoric “walls of sound,” Olson seems to suggest that instead of building concrete divisions between the city and it’s outskirts, walls of poetry should replace these physical barriers. Thus, poetry is the uniting flower that grows downward into the ground.
The final portion of the verse is highly declarative and literally “stand[s] forth,” insisting that the underworld “shall be made known.” The verse as a whole then acts as a clear and booming stance of the repressed, a speech or a proclamation of the determined refusal to be repressed any longer.
O claire de lunaaaaaa – LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 7:29 PM)
The moon returns on 604 (now full) staring in the window at the speaker who dates the poem “staring out window, 5:30 “AM March 4th/ 1969.” Here the moon stares down into the snow (as opposed to the cinnamon moon found earlier on 520). There is again a shift into the “underworld” or dogtown perspective as the phrase “Love the World—and stay inside it” from p. 582 reinterprets itself as “madness of isolation &/ inactivity.” This shift back to Maximus’ more depressive state, defines itself in terms of the isolation and hibernation of winter. no longer is the moon a bringer and changer or tides, and a force to dissolve all loss as an ever constant cycle in the world, but instead it stares deep into Maximus’ being, and gut, resonating with “ rested hungry empty mind all gone… even this big moon/ doesn’t warm me up, heat me up, is snow/ itself.”
Maximus’ emotional hunger here pairs with a fixed and physical hunger as “after this snow not a jot of food left/ in this silly benighted house” as he awaits the coming of the new day “when activity, & food, and persons].” the subsequent pages all recount the speaker striding a long, listless and anxious waiting for the coming soon to ease the pains of his soul and listless insomnia. Olson wields the Moon as a powerful symbol, a savior, a bringer of change in tide, and subsequent emotional flux, as well as antagonist of the snowy night. can this be extended the feminine (and by implication to the figure of his dead wife that ends the Maximus Poems as a whole)?

________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Entry 22: page 618-638

22 – Joe Wolff (Nov 11, 2009 2:24 PM)

Entry 22
–as, indeed, it always so defined. One does only wish that these poor stuffed people, & their hopelessly untreated children –except to anything they want— cld either be removed to the cemetery or to the moon and
it be less cluttered with obstacles to the still handsome & efficacious environment,
(620)
There is a problem the human race faces in the future. As our population continues to grow larger and larger, we have to figure out what to do with all these people. For some people, Globalism is the solution to dealing with our small world; however Olson does not want to go there. Here, in the quote above, Olson admits that he wishes some of our excess population could be removed. This is a scary thought to entertain, and I think Olson himself knows it.
Later in the same poem, on the same page, Olson writes, “And so I walked/ thinning as I did so, I come from the last walking period of man,/ homeward.” He often called Pound’s Cantos a walker, a book one could pick up and “walk” in and always find something new. Likewise, his Maximus Poems offer the same possibilities to the reader. We can always find something new. Olson portrays himself as a solitary walker, like Johnny Walker, who “keeps on walking,” off into the distance, away from the mass of humanity.
“I am a poet/ who now more thinks than writes”(632). “I live underneath/the light of day//I am a stone,/or the ground beneath”(633). Olson in these last pages leaves much white space on the page. There is much for the reader to fill in. Olson’s poem is a Text, as opposed to a Work, in Roland Barthes sense of these words. Barthes, in From Work to Text, writes:
“The difference is as follows: the work is concrete, occupying a portion of book-space (in a library, for example); the text, on the other hand, is methodological field. This opposition recalls the distinction proposed by Lacan between “reality” and the “real”: the one displayed, the other demonstrated. In the same way, the work can be seen in bookstore, in card catalogues, and on course lists, while the text reveals itself, articulates itself according to or against certain rules. While the work is held in the hand, the text is held in language: it exist only as discourse. The Text is not the decomposition of the work; rather is the Text’s imaginary tail… It follows that the Text cannot stop, at the end of a library itself.
[…] This means that the Text requires an attempt to abolish (or at least to lessen) the distance between writing and reading, not by intensifying the reader’s projection into the work, but by linking the two together in a single signifying process [pratique signifiante].”
Both Olson and Pound, in each of their epics, reveal what they are reading and how they are reading, in what they write. They also give the reader possibilities of how to write. Their Text’s are interconnected to science and history, the world around them, and to the spiritual world within them. Olson’s Maximus Poems exist as a physical book, but after one reads the book one gains a kind of “inner” Maximus Poems, a way of looking at the world, translatable from the page to one’s actual lived life. After all the facts and figures have been read, the real meaning is a way of existing, that can not be found in any Companion or Gloss.

Entry 22: page 618-638

IAN LOUIS MINTZ (Nov 18, 2009 1:25 AM)
The speaker is still “a poet / who now more thinks    than writes, [his] / nose-gay” (632). A nosegay or, as Olson writes it, “nose-gay,” is a bouquet (632). Its purpose is to keep the nose happy. The scent of the nasturtium lingers; it is “still [the speaker’s] flower” in the memory (632). There is a sense of loss about a poet who “now more thinks” than writes. A poet’s work is writing. Instead of sharing with the poetry community, the poet tends to himself. One writes, after all, to share one’s thoughts.
On page 634, the speaker settles on movement: the “Blow,” the rise and fall of breath, “is Creation.” The act of truly living is thus a creative process. It is a process of discovering for yourself, creating an identity and finding a home. The “Twist,” the uroboric principle, “is any one of Ourselves” (634). The uroboric process manifests itself in the individual and in “Ourselves” (634). “Ourselves” is a word that refers to the aggregate of the living and the dead. “And the Place of it All? / Mother    Earth    Alone” (634). We have found our home. It is all around us and within us. It is within our skin and around our skin. The home is here in the moment, and it is the whole of the Earth that we are. Home is thus a kind of awareness; it is a way of looking and a level of enlightenment.
The home is also “my wife    my car    my color    and    myself” (635). This is not simply about the speaker’s finding his own way to himself. The individual is a kind of monogene of the Earth, and, as a result, the individual is a representation of the process that is the universe.

Entry 22: page 618-638

STEPHANIE ANTOINETTE ANDERSON (Nov 21, 2009 1:00 PM)
Maximus Poems – Entry 22, Pp. 618-638
Channeling Whitehead still in September of 1969, only four months before his death, Olson has not changed his focus. He has not had one of those wild changes of heart that comes with the awareness of one’s approaching death. Instead, he applies Whitehead’s notion of finite groups to Melkarth of Tyre, or to Maximus of Tyre/Gloucester, or rather, most essentially to himself (631). The “proportions / now declared to be without end” is an optimistic thought, on the eve of his death. These units of his life, these poems and letters, is “the smallest there is,” but at the same time, these proportions are without end (623). We might die, but the units that constitute our lives do not. They live forever in something else, a sort of conservation of energy/mass/momentum/matter.
These proportions also do not have a “beginning other than they valuably, / occur” (631). Whitehead’s theory of actual entities—that everything exists on equal footing in virtue of its actually existing—bolsters Olson’s discovery that a substance’s beginning inheres in its basic occurrence. Things persist through time, but are people one of these enduring, persisting things? We “live underneath / the light of day;” consequentially, we are either “a stone, / or the ground beneath” (633). Our persistence takes another form; our dying is simply another part of our proportions, our units.
“Time and life love space / time & exact / analogy    time & intellect    time & mind    time & time / spirit.” Olson sorts through these time-sensitive relations, culminating in “time & time” where he breaks off and closes with “spirit,” with spirit as entirely more human and descriptive of what constitutes us. We work with time & time, but we retreat from time upon dying and become more ostensibly what we have been all along: a spirit anthropomorphized. This transformation (which is more just a realization) is “the initiation / of another kind of nation.” This is a nation which includes predominantly “my wife my car my color” and which cohere in “myself; it is not a selfish nation, but rather the units that matter most when he considers what the “Mother Earth Alone” has given him: his life (634-5).

Entry 22: page 618-638

MELIS ATALAY (Nov 23, 2009 1:21 PM)
“I live underneath the light of day I am a stone or the ground beneath” (633). The qualification of “underneath the light” asserts that the light, too, can obscure the concreteness of being. Remember how the light of the moon seemed to be a more life-giving type of life, in comparison to the blinding light of the sun. The “I”, who lives underneath the light of day goes through a sort of a transformation, or metamorphosis, into a stone, or into the ground. I see a regression, then, into a multiplicity of elements (OR). This relates to the Ismaili conceptions of cyclical time, in which time cycles back to its origin. This seemingly regressive process is really beneficial, though, because the “I” is now placed in a time that is of purely natural forces, and one that is not influenced necessarily by human manipulation. This relates to one of the slogans of the MP: “imbued with light, the flower grows down”. To grow down, then, might be refer to this
theosophy of cyclical time, with collapsing down to the origin really being beneficial. “Death is the mother binding us to our end” (626). Though, death is the mother of life. I see many binary forces present in the end of MP, similar to the I-Ching principal of always being in a flow between the yin and yang. The last line is powerful. I see “my wife my car my color myself” as true to the journey that Maximus has taken. It starts from the most concrete qualification to the most metaphysical and abstract. This has been the road to selfhood; the road remains a very powerful image in MP. The poem does end introspectively.
22 Laura – Laura (Nov 23, 2009 4:51 PM)
Unclear who this woman is on pg 626, who “’betrayed us’”, and who “…converts the ‘Underworld’ into/ Hell…”. Is it Persephone ?
Earlier, “Death is the mother binding us to our end” signals the arborous- snake eating its tail. The continuity of death, in life, and vice-versa, is also echoed in the poem on III.225: ..that there has been no break—there is now no break in the
future, a thing does flow etc and intensity is the characteristic throughout the system.    Why I raise monuments by this River and have sd it does take a mole to join Gloucester to the Nation.
Interesting, after “no break” appears an actual break (caesura) – yet of course the narrative continues to bend around lines. The caesura here serves to underline the phenomenon of the appearance of a break in the physical—here, actual text. Though the narrative itself, Language, the energy and spirit of the thing, continues.
In this moment, Olson/Maximus/Speaker identifies himself with the mole, who appears elsewhere in the text, body around his (?) nose. The narrator, himself, moves in these directions, following his affections with the single-pointed intent of a center – a nose to spin from – though a center is always shifting to a new polis, a new location, a new noun or myth from which it permeates (Migration). Permeates, I think, more than “projects”, in the way objects do, from all points, the environs. In the MP, these environs are the page in text, and our classroom and its various moments of synchronicity with the text. And our sail in the bay. The various is demanding of the reader – so much “reality” to try to hold onto – so much energy to try to keep up with. Intensity. An impossible text to write “about”, as as soon as one thought is, there are many to contradict it. The project, as the end of this poem comes to, is of union, of bringing together part and whole. To recreate space as space for creation: “the initiation//of another kind of nation” [III.228]. A message we’ll ever need.

Entry 22: page 618-638

Laura (Nov 23, 2009 4:56 PM)
oops- oroborus not auroborus
Brittney Stanley: Response 22 – BRITTNEY RENEE STANLEY (Nov 24, 2009 1:24 AM)
p. 618 “Short Possible Poem to Follow Long Excessive ‘Venetian Job’ Writeen Earlier At Toward Sunset on Squam River Tonight Also”
Further Notes on the Moon
In this poem, Olson again focuses on the moon–the poem begins and ends with the moon, and there is a capital ‘O’ set apart from the rest of the text that resembles and is likely representative of the full moon. Olson begins with “Moon is going down [actually only going into cloud of fog” and indead the poem becomes slightly foggy from there on out. While the night preceding the moon’s dive into the haze was “such a fantastic wobbling night of utter brilliance,” once the moon has ‘”set,” the night assumes a different mood.
The night becomes “now again as it was last night a Smokey Moon of Dog-day Summer.” As stated in various legends, the moon keeps away the carnivorous dog that seeks to attack the holy child, so as Olson’s moon becomes “smokey,” so the dog appears. The dog appears again in the line “Human Dogs stay out in the Natural Time.” By linking dogs to human, Olson seems to link Dogtown to Glaucester, while expressing that they both “stay out in the Natural Time,” or they both are under the control of the same moon, the same regulator of the tides and time.
Olson concludes with the stanza interrupted by the full moon ‘O,’ “I again am Up & wobbly again from etc and solid pure hunger.” While Olson seems to be speaking of himself, up again at a late hour and exhausted, he also seems to be referencing the moon’s rising up again, particularly because he does interrupt with the ‘O.’ The concluding phrase, underlined for emphasis, seems to describe not only Olson, but the moon, as the full moon as an image of “solid pure hunger” is a lovely and likely one; the moon is a solid sphere, radiating a pure light, and inciting the hungers of the night.

Entry 22: page 618-638

LOREN JAMES BRINDZE (Nov 30, 2009 9:21 PM)
sun rise, moon set and i am like the fylfot, spinning between such worlds…….. –

Olson has gendered natural aspects throughout the poem. Specifically we have the mother sky nut, and father, [love as stud upon] earth, geb—though often we find a conflation of male and female identity in the ocean, perhaps impart, Olson’s maximus, in order to be a true representation of the citizenry, remains closest to this representation. Never interchanged, however, are the gender roles of sun and moon, as specified explicitly on page 630 moments before the end of the volume: “Mother of the tides (father, sun).” Yet even here, Olson has trouble gendering the features of the final topography of the poem, as air enacts male traits “a strong on-shore breeze is blowing, a stiff one”, through the female Cut of the earth on the water.
This page ends with the sentiment of the speaker being pushed back and forth by the wind “so wild [he is] swung by it,/ crossing/ in a lather from the air.” as if even now, without his wife, despite the immovability of the sun and moon, the earth’s elements themselves, as the real, or truth, as projected on page 565, move him back and forth between the dipoles of the fylfot: male/female, and Gloucester/dogtown (for hopes of not using words as simple as happy/sad we can compare these locations to maybe a mania/depressive binary).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
FIN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s