She went up to the window, stretched her hands outside and waited in vain for a little wind to come and caress them. And there she remained, oblivious of everything, for some considerable time. She blocked her ears by contracting the muscles of her face, her closed eyes barely allowing the light to penetrate, her head leaning forward. Little by little, she managed to isolate herself completely. This semi-conscious state, where she had the impression of plunging deeply into grey, lukewarm air…she stood in front of the mirror and muttered to herself, her eyes burning with hatred. (Clarice Lispector, Near the Wild Heart, p. 74)

* * *

“Deeply attached as I am to Amsterdam, I shall always maintain that it has three fatal drawbacks. In the first place, the stairs are so steep in many of the houses that it requires a professional mountaineer to ascend them without risking heart failure or a broken neck. Secondly, there are the cyclists. They positively overrun the town, and appear to make it a point of honour to ride without the faintest consideration for human life. I had an exceedingly narrow escape only this morning. And, thirdly, there are the canals. In summer, you know..most insanitary. Oh, most insanitary. I can’t tell you what I’ve suffered. For weeks on end I was never without a sore throat.”  (Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories, p. 6)

* * *

Then Joana suddenly understood that the greatest beauty was to be found in succession, that movement explained form–there was something so elevated and pure when one cried out: movement explains form!–and in succession one also discovered sorrow because the body was much slower than the movement of uninterrupted continuity. Imagination captured and possessed the future of the present, while the body remained at the beginning of the road, living in another rhythm, blind to the experience of the spirit. Through these perceptions–by means of them, Joana made something exist–she connected with a happiness that was self-sufficient.

There were lots of pleasant sensations. To climb a mountain, to linger on the summit and, without looking round, to feel the presence of that conquered territory she had left behind, her uncle’s farm way off in the distance. The wind catching her clothes, her hair. Her arms free, her heart closing and opening savagely, but her face bright and serene beneath the sun. And knowing, above all, that the earth beneath her feet was so deep and secret that there was no need to fear the invasion of understanding dissolving its mystery. This sensation had the hallmark of glory. (Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart, p. 40

* * *

The state she slipped into when she murmured: eternity. The very thought acquired the nature of eternity. It deepened as if by magic and expanded, without any proper content or form, but also without dimensions. She had the impression that if she cold manage to retain that sensation for a few more seconds she could experience a revelation–effortlessly, like seeing the rest of the world simply by leaning away from the earth and out into space. Eternity was not only time, but something akin to the deeply-rooted certainty of not being able to hold it in one’s body because of death; the impossibility of suppressing eternity; just as an almost abstract feeling of absolute purity was eternal. But the clearest suggestion of eternity stemmed from the impossibility of knowing how many human beings would succeed her own body, which would one day distance itself from the present  with the velocity of a shooting-star. (Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart, p. 39)

* * *

This morning as consciousness dimmed up I found myself lying prone, arms folded underneath my chest, hands gripping each other at upper sternum, right where a mother’s warm and loving hand was always wanted. I savored this pressure near my heart for a while, then rolled over onto my left side, body slightly jackknifed, left arm bent making a cradle for my head, looking sideways toward my feet and beyond into the next room. Shortly, Chiara jumped up on the bed to say hello, approached, nestled right there in the curve made by my upper torso and head, up against, that is, that same deprived flesh and bone of the chest, her tail lolling up onto my right shoulder. Isn’t it wonderful to live with an understanding companion? (DD)

* * *

In a bathroom. The floor and the walls are laid with glazed ochre-yellow hexagonal tiles. The man and a woman are kneeling in the bath, which is half-full of water. They are both about thirty years old. The man has placed his hands on the woman’s waist, and he is licking her left breast whilst she, with slightly arched back, clasps her companion’s sex organ in her right hand and caresses her own with her left. A third character is present at this scene: a young cat, black with bronze flecks and a white spot under the neck, is stretched out on the rim of the bath and seems to express utter astonishment in his yellow-green gaze. He wears a plaited leather collar bearing the regulation nameplate – Petit Pouce – with his RSPCA registration number, and the telephone number of his owners, Philippe and Caroline Marquiseauz; not their Paris number, since it would be most unlikely for Petit Pouce ever to go out of the flat and get  lost in Paris, but the number of their country house: Jouy-en-Josas (Yvelines) 30. (Geroge Perec, Life: A User’s Manual, p. 134)

* * *

On the right-hand wall, which is painted a slightly darker green than the left-hand wall, hang nine plates decorated with representations of:
–a priest giving ashes to a believer
–a man putting a coin into a barrel-shaped savings box
–a woman sitting in the corner of a railway carriage, with her arm in a sling
–two men in clogs, in snowy weather, stamping the ground to warm their feet
–a lawyer pleading a case, looking vehement
–a man in a smoking jacket about to drink a cup of chocolate
–a violinist playing, with a mute attached to his instrument
–a man in a nightgown, holding a candlestick, looking at a spider, symbolising hope, on the wall
–a man holding out his visiting card to another man. Both look aggressive, suggesting a duel
(Georges Perec, Life: A User’s Manual, p. 63)

* * *

The day came, alas, when the artist refused to come down form his trapeze. He had just done his last performance at the Grand Theatre at Leghorn and was due to leave that evening by car for Tarbes. Despite Rorschach’s and the music hall manager’s pleadings, increasingly hysterical appeals from the other members of the troupe, from the musicians, the entire staff, the technicians, and from the crowds who had begun to leave but had stopped and returned on hearing all this noise, the acrobat, in a fit of pride, cut the rope he could have come down by and began to perform, at ever-faster pace, an uninterrupted  succession of grand circles. This supreme performance lasted two hours and caused fifty-three spectators to pass out. The police had to be brought in. In spite of Rorschach’s warnings, the policemen brought a long fire-ladder and began to climb up. They didn’t even get halfway: the trapeze artist opened his grip, and, with a long scream, describing a perfect parabola, he crashed to the ground. (Georges Perec, Life: A User’s Manual, p. 45)

* * *

Four men squat int he middle of the room, virtually sitting on their heels, with knees wide apart, elbows resting on knees, their hand together with middle fingers hooked and the other fingers stretched out. Three of the men will be in a row, facing the fourth. All will be bare-chested and barefoot, wearing only black silk trousers printed with a repeated design representing an elephant. A metal ring set with a circular obsidian will be worn by each on the ring finger of the right hand. (Georges Perec, Life: A User’s Manual, p. 10)

* * *

Here’s Pharus, watch,
hurling his hollow threats as Aeneas hurls his javelin,
stakes it square in the man’s howling mouth.

With that he seizes a heavy lance and wings it hard
and straight through the bronze of Maeon’s shield it pounds,
ripping open his breast and breastplate both at once.
His brother Alcanor runs to brace his falling brother,
quick, but the spear’s already flown its bloody way,
stabbing his dying arm that hangs from his shoulder,
dangling loose by the tendons. Another, Numitor,
wrenching out the shaft from his brother’s body,
went at Aeneas, praying to hit him, pay him back
but not a chance of that–he could only graze
the stalwart Achates in the thigh.
Now up steps
Clausus from Cures, flushed with his young strength
and flings his burly spear from a distance, hitting Dryops
under the chin full force to choke the Trojan’s throat
as he shouted cutting off both his voice and life
in the same breath, and his brow slams the ground
as he vomits clots of blood.
Virgil, The Aeneid, Book Ten, Fagles, p. 304f)

* * *

One day…I noticed something different about her, perhaps a certain touch of melancholy, and I asked her what was wrong. She said nothing, merely made a gesture of weariness. I persisted, and she told me that…A subtle fluid ran through my whole body: a powerful, rapid, strange feeling which I cannot transfer to this paper. I took her hands in mine, drew her gently toward me, and kissed her on the forehead with the delicacy of a zephyr and the solemnity of an Abraham. She trembled a little, took my head between the palms of her hands, looked deep into my eyes, and then caressed me as if I were a child. There is a mystery here; let us give the reader time to solve it. (Machado de Assis, Epitaph of a Small Winner, p. 164)

* * *

“Do you love me?
“Oh!” she sighed, putting her arms around my neck.
This reply was the patent truth; Virgilia loved me to distraction. Silent, breathing rather heavily, her arms around my neck, Virgilia looked at me a long while, her large eyes giving a strange impression of moist light. I was content to return her look and to fall in love again with her mouth, fresh as dawn and insatiable as death. There was now something magnificent about Virgilia’s beauty, something grandiose that it had not had before her marriage. She was a figure carved with noble, pure craftsmanship, in Pentelle marble; as tranquilly beautiful as a statue but neither apathetic nor cold. On the contrary, she was a recapitulation of all the aspects of love; especially on this occasion, when she said, without words, everything warm and loving that the human eye can express. But time was pressing; I removed her arms from around my neck, held her by the wrists, and gazing steadily at her, asked whether she had courage. (Machado de Assis, Epitaph of a Small Winner, p. 130)

* * *

I sat down, while Virgilia snapped her nails. After several seconds of silence, I began to talk about various things; she did not reply, did not even look at me. Except for the snapping of her nails, she was silence itself. Only once she glanced at me, but very briefly and superciliously, raising the left corner of her mouth a little and contracting her eyebrows so that they almost met; this combination gave her face an expression half comic and half tragic.
Intended as an expression of disdain, it was, however, exaggerated to the point of affectation. Within, she was suffering more than a little, although I cannot say whether from wounded feelings or from resentment; and, because pain that is concealed hurts more, Virgilia probably suffered twice as much as she should have. But let us not become involved in psychology. (Machado de Assis, Epitaph of a Small Winner, p. 101)

* * *

The Way never does anything,
and everything gets done.
If those in power could hold to the Way,
the ten thousand things
would look after themselves.
If even so they tried to act,
I’d quiet them with the nameless,
the natural.

In the unnamed, in the unshapen,
is not wanting.
In not wanting is stillness.
In stillness all under heaven rests.

(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, #37, Ursula K. Le Guin)

* * *

The twilight today was an intense shade of lavender, and the Chinaman’s arrival caught us with her skirt rolled up and my pants at my ankles. It’s true that when she pulled them up, Marta made a profoundly sarcastic face: I hadn’t noticed! Look at these pants! What’s wrong with my pants? What’s wrong! Don’t you think they’re just a bit evases. Later on she carted them off to her room., but I didn’t care. I understand why she’s disgusted, even irritated with my pants. Once something has gone out of style, the traces of style expose its absurd pretensions. You have to keep up in order to HIDE you affectations. Fashion is a system of disguise. If I buy enough clothes, they’ll take me for an elegant cretin. I’ve got to keep this in mind when I’m writing. If I don’t write with style, it wiil seem as though I’m telling the truth, that is, that I’m the same as always, and that’s a monstrous lie. (Feliz de Azua, Diary of a Humiliated Man, p. 274f)

* * *

She has a strong body, and she places her feet on the floor with the same aplomb as those women that academic painters sometimes show bearing enormous pitchers on their left shoulders. (Feliz de Azua, Diary of a Humiliated Man, p. 247)

* * *

The pain in my side was so intense that I woke up crying without knowing why. As soon as I moved, my head was blown away by a flash of pain shooting from my crotch as though it were fired from a musket. I couldn’t breath, and when I touched my nose, a disconcerting stream of black sand poured out. Later on I realized it was dried blood, but for the minute I felt like a sawdust doll, losing my stuffing through a ripped seam. It took me a while to figure out that every time I moved I howled in pain, but once it dawned on me, I kept still. (Feliz de Azua, Diary of a Humiliated Man, p. 206)

* * *

I decide it would be rude to interrupt him because his expression is becoming more and more concentrated, like a balloon that grows darker instead of fatter. With the word “impossible,” he’d reached deep purple, but the position of his arms and legs hadn’t changed from the beginning: his arms straight out on the chair arms, his body tilted slightly forward, his eyes fixed straight ahead, an offender tied to the garrote. The word “impossible” exploded in his mouth like a soap bubble that leaves a myriad of luminous points in the air. I couldn’t resist the temptation: At fist you said, “what we already knew about.” Which of us knew about it? He didn’t answer. Slowly his spinal column returned to the back of the chair, and his hands, which had been clutching the edge of the armrests, gradually released their prey. He looked at me with a bucolic sweetness, the kind of look we thanked the Virgin of Lourdes for when we were children. His head (for a few minutes it had been emitting an intense buzz) nodded gently like a top just before it loses momentum and circles on the floor in a last pirouette. (Feliz de Azua, Diary of a Humiliated Man, p. 164f)

* * *

“The can express themselves only by their postures.”
No gestures; they simply multiply their arms, hands, fingers–like buddhas. This is how these sedentary beings carry their thoughts to a logical conclusion. They’re no more than a will to expression. They keep nothing to themselves, are incapable of secrets, unfold everything they have, frankly, without restrictions.
Being sedentary they spend their time complicating their own forms, bringing their bodies to an apogee of analytic complexity. Wherever they happen to be born, however sequestered they may be, they’re interested only in perfrcting their expression. They groom themselves, adorn themselves, and wait for someone to come and read them. (Francis Ponge, Selected Poems, p. 71)

* * *

He crashed down like a falling tree. She heard the thud of his chin on the floor. How could anyone fall like that without killing himself? Then she saw his back arch, and he twisted round, face upwards. His eyes were white and his pinched nose more livid than the rest of his face. Suddenly, with a strange, broken sigh, he stiffened again, until only his heels and the nape of is neck seemed to support him. His broad chest, caught in the spasm, slowly swelled until his ribs almost seemed to burst through his skin. For a moment he remained thus, and then a stream of spirits and foam gushed from his mouth. All at once his features became peaceful again and he seemed, once their calm had been regained, so full of suffering and sruprise that he looked like a dead child. (Georges Bernanos, Mouchette, p. 44)

* * *

Jolt–what–jolts–what–jolts cracked his skull out of his brain. Jolts drained the bone out of his shoe. Jolts tipped him elsewhere. He jumped or fell, he spun, he was in a spin of tyro-lobs slow fast.
There was an awful lack of pain. Where? He was touched by slivers jarred within their weightless sky, and their pulsings recalled commands from when he had been little more than the Dim Echo. Jolts ripped his sight through the window. He’d lost his tubes, was that it, this it? The shearow at the window was so dislodged it recalled leaps it no longer inclined to take and it was jolted back against the glass in time to see through it far away a dark dot in a cloud break. But the far dot was a line, tiny, slow, jagged. It tumbled sideways, but how did something far away tumble? He did not see it for a second.
But no, he’d seen more than it; for he’d seen it far away on an arc-edge of a greater thing also far away: a cloudy thing, cloudy blue.
The jolts came over again. He shook on his pins and he did not stop spinning. The jolts would not stop. He had forgotten he had no skull. For his skull was trying to get out from inside his brain, and he had no brain now. (Joseph McElroy, Plus, p. 171)

* * *

Many people who are disappointed to find little meaning in ballet dancing are struck by how much meaning the ballet figures in Tudor’s Pillar of Fire and Lilac Garden convey to them. in Lilac Garden, for example, an about-to-be abandoned mistress sees her lover standing alone, facing her at a distance. Desperately she rushes at top speed across the stage; she seems to leap straight on his shoulder. He holds her tightly by the waist, she crouches there above his head, tensely arching her neck. He does not look up. The action is as sudden as the leap of a desperate cat on moving day. But the pose also brings up the sudden sense of a private physical intimacy. It has that meaning.
Again, in Pillar of Fire, a chaste and frenzied young woman sees a vigorous young man. He looks at her suggestively. She leaps at him through the air in grand jete. He catches her in mid-leap in a split and she hangs against his chest as if her leap continued forever, her legs completely rigid, her body completely still. How is it one notices the momentary pose so distinctly?
Is it party because the stopped leap has a startling effect–like a fast tennis ball that goes dead. And the shock of the stop is heightened by the contrast to an onward full surge of the music. The timing, the placing of the pose; its contrast to the direction, the speed, the stopping and starting of the dance figures that went before; in brief, all the resources of what the cinema calls visual rhythm have been used to direct the eye to this special instance of bodily contact. The attention is focused on the parts of the body, their relation to one another, the physical force involved in the leap and the lift, almost as if by a motion-picgure close-up. And the moment so distinctly presented registers all the more, because it registers as a climax in the story, as a pantomime of a psychological shock. (Edwin Denby, Looking at the Dance, p. 6f)

* * *

There is not only among torturers but even among people appalled by acts or torture and sympathetic to those hurt, a  covert disdain for confession. This disdain is one of the many manifestations of how inaccessible the reality of physical pain is to anyone not immediately experiencing it. The nature of confession is falsified by an idiom built on the word “betrayal”. in confession, one betrays oneself and all those aspects of the world–friend, family, country, cause–that the self is made up of. The inappropriateness of this idiom is immediately apparent in any non-political context. It is a commonplace that at the moment when a dentist’s drill hits and holds an exposed nerve, the person sees stars. What is meant by “seeing stars” is that the contents of consciousness are, during those moments, obliterated, that the name of one’s child, the memory of a friend’s face, are all absent. But the nature of this “absence” is not illuminated by the world “betrayal.” One cannot betray or be false to something that has ceased to exist and, in the most literal way possible, the created world of thought and feeling, all the psychological and mental content that constitutes both one’s self and one’s’ world, and that give rise to and is in turn made possible by language, ceases to exist. (Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, p. 29f)

* * *

Lice-Hunters – From Rimbaud

When the kid’s forehead is full of red torments
Imploring swarms of dreams with vague contents,
Two large and charming sisters come
With wafty fingers and silvery nails, to his bedroom.

They set the kid by a wide-open window where
A tangle of flowers bathes in the blue air
And run fine, alluring , terrible
Fingers through his think dew-matted hair.

He hears the rustling of their  timid breath
Flowered with the long pinkish vegetable honies underneath
Or broken anon, sibilant, the saliva’s hiss
Drawn from a lip, or a desire to kiss.

He hears their black eyelashes beat in the quietude
and “Crack!” to break his inebriated indolences
Neath their electric and so soft fingers death assails
The little lice beneath their regal nails.

And Lo! there mounts with him Wine of Laziness–a squiffer’s sigh
Might bring delirium–and the kid feels
Neath the slowness of the caresses, constantly
Wane and fade a desire to cry.

(Ezra Pound, Translations, p. 436)

* * *

I remember my first erections. I thought I had some terrible disease or something.

I remember when, in high school, I used to stuff a sock in my underwear.

I remember a dream I had had often of being able to fly. (Without an airplane)

I remember my first sexual experience in a subway. Some guy (I was afraid to look at him) got a hardon and was rubbing it back and forth against my arm. I got very excited and when my stop came I hurried out and home where I tried to do an oil painting using my dick as a brush.

I remember once when I made scratches on my face with my fingernails so people would ask me what happened, and I would say a cat did it, and, of course, they would know that a cat did not do it.

I remember Frank O’Hara’s walk. Light and sassy. with a slight bounce and a slight twist. It was a beautiful walk. Confident. “I don’t care” and sometimes “I know you are looking.”

I remember sex on too much grass and the total separation of my head from what’s going on down there.

I remember, after a lot of necking, how untheatrical the act of getting undressed can sometimes be.

I remember, in the heat of passion once, trying to get a guy’s turtle neck sweater off. But it turned out not be a turtle neck sweater.

I remember, with the one you love, familiar gestures that can drive you up the wall.

(Joe Brainard, I Remember)

* * *

as
we lie side by side
my little breasts become two sharp delightful strutting towers and
i shove hotly the lovingness of my belly against you

your arms are
young;
your arms will convince me,in the complete silence speaking
upon my body
their ultimate slender language.

do not laugh at my thighs.

there is between my legs a crisp city.
when you touch me
it is spring in the city;the streets beautifully writhe,
it is for you;do not frighten them,
all the houses terribly tighten
upon your coming
and they are glad
as you fill the streets of my city with children.

my love you are a bright mountain which feels.
you are a keen mountain and an eager island whose
lively slopes are based always in the me which is shrugging,which is
under you and around you and forever:i am the hugging sea.

O mountain you cannot escape me
your roots are anchored in my silence;therefore O mountain
skillfully murder my breasts,still and always

i will hug you solemnly into me.

(e.e. cummings)

* * *

On the Rush

I stuck out my palm…
the snow the pine needles
hit lightly

I thought it was rain for a minute
I thought the game had been called

Jim Carroll, Living at the Movies, p. 91)

* * *

The Nesshoue are always in a very great company and elaborately dressed in many cloths of different but harmonious tones avoiding all pure colours except blue and green. They wear chased silver daggers at their waists, and on their arms cunningly worked armlets and bracelets in solid silver; the men carry sossyabi with the axe-like blade in silver, the women horse-tails, also mounted on silver. Their dances are mostly slow and undulating, after the character of a river; they dance together so that their varied clothes look like a bed of living flowers, their silver ornaments sparkling like dew. Against this background of the blue sky and the palms, with occasional trees of a deeper green and scarlet fruit, the effect is of the greatest beauty. Sometimes they dance in lines and sometimes in single file but always with the strictest rhythm and co-ordination. There is only one dance which is done individually. Perhaps the most lovely of all their dances is the Sellili, or gleaning dance (the river makes the harvest): in a long line they hold their sossyabi and fans parallel with the ground and with one leg stretched behind them they advance with a quick undulating movement, gradually gathering speed till they seem like a sea wave. (Geoffrey Gorer, Africa Dances, p. 214)

* * *

The dance of the Legba is always performed first, to avert evil spirits; for the same reason the legba dancer always prances in front of the other performers, waving is olisbos in the air. The most general dance is the gobahun, which is danced in pairs, very quick with vehement arm movements and sudden twists. Both men and women dance this; for both the principal item of dress is a full skirt reaching a little below the knees, in various material but chiefly white; when the dancers turn suddenly it spreads out wide like a ballet skirt. The most dramatic of the thunder dances is the adahoun; it is danced by a very few young men naked to the waist except for a necklace of big red and blue beads, and wearing a short very full skirt about nine inches long, like a tiny tutu, tight-fitting velvet drawers reaching to the knee and a scarf knotted under the skirt so that its ends fall down like a tail. They dance with one or occasionally two sossyabi holding it in the mouth or the left hand. Their dance is completely wild, for they represent the destructive element of thunder; with the sossyabi in their teeth–no mean feat for it is very heavy–they rush in every direction with their hands held out and their head jerking backwards and forwards; they are completely bacchic and frenzied, and their big-pupilled eyes are fixed on infinity. They destroy whatever comes under their hand–plants, trees, roofs, even objects sacred to the fetish; they seize what they fancy, hats and clothes off the spectators, animals and even children, shouting when the have got booty and waving it in the air towards the tomtom with whom they later deposit it. So possessed are they that they roll on the ground, eat earth, turn somersaults and walk on the narrowest coping. The onlookers are in a state of pleasurable terror; the dances are filled with the spirit of the thunder and must not be opposed in anything they are inspired to do; who can oppose a thunderbolt? (Geoffrey Gorer, Africa Dances, p. 212f)

* * *

The Heviosso have three separate types of dance. For some reason which could not be explained the Legba, or phallic devil, is mingled with the cult and special dancers represent him. For a costume they wear a red hat covered with horns and grigris, many necklaces and anklets and a very full knee-length raffia skirt. In their hand they hold a very realistic, albeit exaggerated, wooden phallus with a mop of raffia at one end. With the aid of this they perform some extremely indecorous dances, copulating with the earth, through a little furrow they make with the phallus, the trees, the crops and the houses. In front of each important spectator they go through a realistic though rhythmic pantomime of masturbation, extremely difficult for the body is bent backwards from the knees; the simulated orgasm is accompanied by the most convulsive grimaces. (Geoffrey Gorer, Africa Danes, p. 211)

* * *

The people, nearly always women, who have the faculty of going into a clairvoyant trance are know among the Wolof as m’Deup; the dances during which these revelations are obtained have the same name. Men are occasionally m’Deup, but they are looked down on as debauchees and effeminate…When the dances start the woman in trance and the bystanders dance as they feel moved, sometimes with the same movements as the ordinary dances which are done for pleasure, more often with extravagant gestures and grimaces, rolling on the ground and eating earth. Usually a number of the bystanders also fall into fits. People dance singly and spasmodically, starting and stopping as they feel inclined. The true m’Deup cannot hear the rhythm without dancing till they have got out of range.
When a m’Deup is going into trance she goes through a curious pantomime, acting as if she had just been awakened from sleep, stretching her arms and staring about. She will open her eyes with her forefingers, and touch her ears, nose and mouth. Then, with her eyes no longer focussed on anything she will  start to dance. If she is not removed by force–she can no longer hear or see ordinary people–she will go on dancing for an indefinite period which may extend to several days without rest or food, until the crisis comes and she falls to the ground with only the whites of her eyes showing. In this state she will prophesy and name sorcerers. (Geoffrey Gorer, Africa Dances, p. 46f)

* * *

15  So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Be’er-sheba seventy thousand men.
16  And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of A-rau’nah the Jeb’u-site.
17  And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house. (Bible, 1 Kings, Chapter 24)

* * *

She had already dressed her doll, she had already undressed it, she had imagined it going to a party where it stood out among all the other baby dolls. A blue car ran over Arlete’s body and killed her. Then the fairy appeared and her doll was restored to life. The baby doll, the fairy, the blue car were none other than Joana, otherwise the game would be rather dull. She always found some means of casting herself in the main role as some turn of events highlighted one or other of the characters. She took the game seriously, working in silence, her arms hanging at her sides. She didn’t need to get close to Arlete in order to play with her. Even from a distance she possessed things.

She twirled round and came to a halt, watching without curiosity the walls and ceiling as they went round and fell apart. She walked on tiptoe, only treading on the dark floorboards. She closed her eyes and moved forward, her hands outstretched, until she bumped into some piece of furniture. Between her and the objects there was something, but when she caught the thing in her hand like a fly and then looked–however much care she took not to let anything escape–all she found was her own hand, rosy and disheartened. Yes, I know it was air, I know it was air! But that didn’t help, that didn’t explain anything. (Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart, p. 12f)

* * *

“Man my boat!” cried Ahab, impetuously, and tossing about the oars near him– “Stand by to lower!” In less than a minute, without quitting his little craft, he and his crew were dropped to the water, and were soon alongside of the stranger. But here a curious difficulty presented itself. In the excitement of the moment, Ahab had forgotten that since the loss of his leg he had never once stepped on board of any vessel at sea but his own, and that it was always by an ingenious and very handy mechanical contrivance peculiar to the Pequod, and a thing not to be rigged and shipped in any other vessel at a moment’s warning. Now, it is no very easy matter for anybody–except those who are almost hourly used to it, like whalemen–to clamber up a ship’s side from a boat on the open sea; for the great swells now lift the boat high up toward the bulwarks, and then instantaneously drop it half way down to the kelson. So, deprived of one, leg, and the strange ship, of course, being altogether unsupplied with the kindly invention, Ahab now found himself abjectly reduce to a clumsy landsman again; hopelessly eyeing the uncertain changeful height he could hardly hope to attain.
It has before been hinted, perhaps, that every little untoward circumstance that befell him and which indirectly sprang from his luckless mishap, almost invariably irritated or exasperated Ahab. And in the present instance, all this was heightened by the sight of the two officers of the strange ship, leaning over the side, by the perpendicular ladder of the nailed cleets there, and swinging toward him a pair of tastefully ornamented man-ropes; for at first they did not seem to bethink them that a one-legged man must be too much of a cripple to use their sea bannisters. But this awkwardness only lasted a minute, because the strange captain, observing at a glance how affairs stood, cried out, “I see, I see!–avast heaving there! Jump, boys, and swing over the cutting-tackle.”
As good luck would have it, they had had a whale alongside a day or two previous, and the great tackles were still aloft, and the massive curved blubber-hook, now clean and dry, was still attached to the end. This was quickly lowered to Ahab, who at once comprehending it all, slid his solitary thigh into the curve of the hook (it was like sitting in the fluke of an anchor, or the crotch of an apple tree), and then giving the word, held himself fast, and at the same time helped to hoist his own weight, by  pulling hand-over-hand upon one of the running parts of the tackle. Soon he was carefully swung inside the high bulwarks, and gently landed upon the capstan head. With is ivory arm frankly thrust forth in welcome, the other captain advanced, and Ahab, putting out his ivory leg, and crossing the ivory arm (like to swordfish blades) cried out in his walrus way, “Aye, aye, hearty! let us shake bones together!–an arm and a leg!–an arm that never can shrink, d’ye see; and a leg that never can run. Where did’st thou see the White Whale?–how long ago?” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick, p. 291f)

* * *

Again Sarpedon missed–
over Patroclus’ left shoulder his speasrhead streaked,
it never touched his body. Patroclus hurled next,
the bronze launched from his hand–no miss, a mortal hit.
He struck him right where the midriff packs the pounding heart
and down Sarpedon fell as an oak or white poplar falls
or towering pine that shipwrights up on a mountain
hew down with whetted axes for sturdy ship timber–
so he stretched in front of his steam and chariot,
sprawled and roaring, clawing the bloody dust.
As the bull a marauding lion cuts from the herd,
tawny and greathearted among the shambling cattle,
dies bellowing under the lion’s killing jaws–
so now Sarpedon, captain of Lycia’s shieldsmen,
died at Patroclus’ hands and died raging still,
crying out his beloved comrade’s name: “Glaucus–
oh dear friend, dear fighter, soldier’s soldier!
Now is the time to prove yourself a spearman,
a daring man of war–now, if you are brave,
make grueling battle your one consuming passion.

But grief came over Glaucus, hearing his comrade’s call.
His heart was racing–what could he do to help him?
Wounded himself, he gripped his right arm hard,
aching where Teucer’s arrow had hit him squarely,
assaulting the Argive wall, when Teucer saved his men.
Glaucus cried a prayer to the distant deadly Archer:
“Hear me, Lord Apollo! Wherever you are now–
in Lycia’s rich green country or here in Troy,
wherever on earth, you can hear a man in pain,
you have that power, and pain comes on me now.
Look at this ugly wound–
my whole arm rings with the stabbing pangs,
the blood won’t clot, my shoulder’s a dead weight.
I can’t take up my spear, can’t hold it steady–
no wading into enemy ranks to fight it out–
and our bravest man is dead, Sarpedon, Zeus’s son–
did Zeus stand by him? Not even his own son!
I beg you, Apollo, heal this throbbing wound,
lull the pain now, lend me power in battle–
so I can rally our Lycians, drive them into war
and fight to save my comrade’s corpse myself.”
(Homer, The Iliad, Book 16, Fagles, p 428f)

* * *

slam
dancers
perform
aggressive
deeds
it
is
the
best
ritual
to
slam
yr
body
like
a
door
I
wanted more.
I
want
to
get
on
the
floor
under
the
man
boot
then
hurled
through
air
to
male
body

(Anne Waldman, Iovis, p. 229)

* * *

You reduce me to an object of desire. My breasts say this because they are wise. My cunt says this because it is wise. My thighs are responding to the accusation because they are wise. Eyes behold a thousand reasons you do this, you who are groping for the be all & end all here, you who take a proverbial turn at the wheel & navigate us out of sync. Sync is the new age number for it is the is the is the number. Turn on the radio. Good luck. You reduce me to an object of desire. You think I’m hot. You take my words and twist them to a recommendation for a scenario of desire. Is desire lively? Does it live? Is it sending the votaries forward, does the Man regress as He checks his watch to obviate time? Check this out: A long way back, & now in Saudi the women can’t drive cars. They can, of course, but may they? May they? Does anyone, (they), care? The light goes off, you reach for my neck. I love you. I’m not ashamed to admit this for you are the saint & scholar who studies desire. I came into view as a representation of an object of desire. Good luck, I said to myself. The night is youthful. It smarts of love & sweat. I love you because you are fatal. And mortal too. We will die in desire & spend the context of breath & night on a boat of love. You coaxed me into a rehearsal of dying into life. You feel it? That the heart could continue at any cost, that the cost would be everything, that cost is the tomb of desire that it rides into dawn, always, always. And is an alba for you. It only exists at dawn when the bottle is empty & we’ve smoked under talk. For talk is the witch & it is my voice that attracts the battle in you. That says okay test me in your language. In the code of the male. I encode you. I take each phoneme and rake it over the coals. It imprints on me the message that held you back. Unseen ropes scored a hand. And bound & gagged the truth be told. You are a compliment to the room. You are intrusive like any good idea. (Anne Waldman, Iovis, p. 190f)

* * *

the puppets are asleep in the box
we never talk about time
the puppets become shadows
you start to make them from the eyes
then make the rest come alive
(Anne Waldman, Iovis, p. 167)

* * *

He’s setting
impossible tasks
for me

He hammers a
hole in my shoulder
to pour in his message

I have to climb
a small mountain
with a basket
of linens

scratched by brambles
my legs bleed

a sharp thorn
scrapes the point
of my heart

At the top of the mountain:
many patriarchs
Many patriarchs
at the top of the mountain

“Gives us your heart!”
No, no, I cry
“Give us your heart,” they demand

But now I’ve taken it out of my aching chest
& wrapped it in linen in the basket

It will be saved for the down there people
I will give it to them
I sew myself up

but in the meantime I am hollow woman
& I fool them
& I give them a medium red stone
the size of my heart but all the time saying
No, no! to excite them further

(Anne Waldman, Iovis, p. 133f)

* * *

but

inside you
inside you

what me?
what me
are you
inside of

I say
you are all
there is in-
side me
now inside
out

but later
I’m thinking
something
putting on clothes
& you talking
about the
mixing of us

want me
all for
your self
& not even
there

you have a
restless mind
like mine

(Anne Waldman, Iovis, p. 66f)

* * *

You insulted me when you weren’t looking & drove a spike
in the heart of me. It dissolves into the seed syllable
of anything brave to be outside the tangle &
we two make beauty out of a dark structure
sanctioning the next time the show’s in town
& come this way around a street
to my ceremonial dance become private twitches
Entheos Entheos I am full of the god
Entheos Entheos I am full of the god
shaking to tear this bull apart & return to peace
Don’t mock me as I avenge the death of my sisters
in this or any other dream
In order to make the crops grow
You men must change into women
(Anne Waldman, Iovis, p. 62)

* * *

As he raised up his cudgel just to beat me to death with it, I hastily jumped to his right and then I beat him heavily on the head with my poisonous cudgel. After he struggled and he turned to his right and when he was about to beat me with his heavy cudgel, I ran to his back unexpectedly and I hastily beat him on the head so heavily that he felt so much pain that he hesitated for a few minutes as if he was going to fall down and die. When he did so I thought he was entirely powerless and then I was beating him with the cudgel so repeatedly that I did not know the time that he stretched his hands backward and then he gripped my waist. When he pressed my waist with both hands very hardly I nearly cut into two. I could not breathe in and out again and both my eyes were so opened widely with pain that I could not see again, and both were nearly to tear. And again, with anger he lifted the whole of me very high and then with all his power he flung me to where there was a big rock. His intention was that my head would hit that rock and then I would die at once. but it was a great surprise to him when he saw that my body did not even touch the rock before I stood upright and i was telling him loudly—“Cat never touch the ground with its back whenever it fall!” When he was hearing what I was saying repeatedly he became more angry and he ran to me and held my right leg unexpectedly. But as he was trying to tear it away from my body it hooked his long beard and then I began to dangle here and there as he was trying to take it away from his beard as quickly as possible, because his lower jaw was then paining him very badly. When the pain was too much for him and my leg did not come out from his beard in time. He left it there but he was then running along to where he had made a big fire just to put me inside this fire so that I might be burnt to death at once, and after that to take my leg away from his beard as quickly as possible. But when I saw that he was going to put me in the fire, I hastily held the branch of a tree which was on the way to the place of the fire. I held the branch of this tree so tightly with all my power that he could not go front or back. When I pulled up my leg it pulled up his beard as well. And when the pain was too sever for him he did not know when he began to climb up this tree along to me. And as he was coming up it was so I too were climbing on and onto the topmost of this tree. When he came nearer to me then I started to beat his head and jaws until when he be came [sic] powerless to hold the branch of the tree with his hands. But when he began to dangle then I took my leg away from his beard and then he fell from the top of this tree to the ground and he lay down helplessly. (Amos Tutuola, The Brave African Huntress, p. 52ff)

* * *

A kiss on the head—wipes away misery.
I kiss your head.

A kiss on the eyes—takes away sleeplessness.
I kiss your eyes.

A kiss on the lips—quenches the deepest thirst.
I kiss your lips.

A kiss on the head—wipes away memory.
I kiss your head.

(Marina Tsvetaeva, Selected Poems, p.33)

* * *

The first round was all Sandel’s, and he had the house yelling with the rapidity of his whirlwind rushes. He overwhelmed King with avalanches of punches, and King did nothing. He never struck once, contenting himself with covering up, blocking and ducking and clinching to avoid punishment. He occasionally feinted, shook his head when the weight of a punch landed, and moved stolidly about, never leaping or springing or wasting an ounce of strength. Sandel must foam the froth of Youth away before discreet Age could dare to retaliate. All king’s movements were slow and methodical, and his heavy-lidded, slow-moving eyes gave him the appearance of being half asleep or dazed. Yet they were eyes that saw everything, that had been trained to see everything through all his twenty years and odd in the ring. They were eyes that did not blink or waver before an impending blow, but that coolly saw and measured distance. (Jack London, A Piece of Steak)

* * *

They went back to their corners. I lifted the bathrobe off Jack and he leaned on the ropes and flexed his knees a couple of times and scuffed his shoes in the rosin. The gong rang and Jack turned quick and went out. Walcott came toward him and they touched gloves and as soon as Walcott dropped his hands Jack jumped his left into his face twice. There wasn’t anybody ever boxed better than Jack. Walcott was after him, going forward all the time with his chin on his chest. He’s a hooker and he carries his hands pretty low. All he knows is to get in there and sock. But every time he gets in there close, Jack just raises the left hand up and it’s in Walcott’s face. Three or four times Jack brings the right over but Walcott gets it on the shoulder or high up on the head. He’s just like all those hookers. The only think he’s afraid of is another one of the same kind. He’s covered everywhere you can hurt him. He don’t care about a left-hand in his face.

The gong rang and we pushed him out. He went out slow. Walcott came right out after him. Jack put the left in his face and Walcott took it, came in under it and started working on Jack’s body. Jack tried to tie him up and it was just like trying to hold on to a buzz saw. Jack broke away from it and missed with the right. Walcott clipped him with a left hook and Jack went down. He went down on his hands and knees and looked at us. The referee started counting. Jack was watching us and shaking his head. At eight John motioned to him. You couldn’t hear on account of the crowd. Jack got up. The referee had been holding Walcott back with one arm while he counted. (Ernest Hemingway, Fifty Grand)

* * *

Up in the country for the weekend and took some L.S.D. again with a friend at midnight…At dawn light came in shafts and led me to some fields nearby to watch the tall reeds wave and then become fingers calling me over. I rolled in the dew drenched things as though they were lifting me across and through them with the fingers and my body did no work at all, in fact, I forgot all about any body I had and left it behind finally, thinking I was just a spirit flashing incredibly fast all through, wiping up the dew invisibly. (Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries, p. 128f)

* * *

A few days before my day at the ball park some CPA gets me up to his hotel room and leads me into the bathroom. He’s got a cat tied to the seat of the toilet and a bubble bath all set for someone to jump in. I excused myself for a second and went over to the kitchenette and popped a couple of Valiums. I was already loaded on junk but I could see this was going to be strictly from fruit. When I got back to the john he was already naked and in the tub frosted in bubbles. The poor cat was still chained to the john seat, yelping away. The guy laid is plan on me. He wants me to whip the cat dead after I first piss on him in his bubble bath, then when the cat has had it I’m to jerk off into his mouth while he’s still in the tub. Out from under the bubbles he hands me a whip, a tiny cat size whip with leather fringes laced with broken ends of razors. I did not like this man. I didn’t like him at all, and too bad for him I was very stoned and in cat-loving mood so I decided to express my dislike. I untied the cat, he tried to get up and stop me, I punched his chump face, he landed back on his ass in the tub and I gave him the whip across the chest, a nasty wound. He was a little dazed now, I grabbed his hair, opened his mouth and pissed in it, he spit it out, the piss mixing with the blood oozing from his lip from the punch and he let out a slow motion yell at the sting of urine dripping into the cuts on his chest. He sank under water to cool the burn, I rifled his walled for sixty buck, picked up the kitty and split. (Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries, p. 105f)

* * *

They both had on very tight blue jean shorts that were cut up to make them even more tempty. Blinkie got up and passed me the pipe and I took a toke or two and freaked it to Eddie and flopped on the mattress next to Blinkie and nodded out with my head on her lap. I perceived sexual overtones creeping about, so I figured I better go into the bathroom and throw up the medicine to bring me down a bit, in order to get it up a lot and I did and I was pretty straight within an hour or so and hip on getting together with a scene or two. Then it was about an hour more of smoking the hash and with my head on Blinkie’s lap with an occasional grab for one of her titty treats. I was feeling pretty bored by then and anxious to fuck her until they ordered the ambulance. Then the ice broke, if that’s what you want to call it, and Winkie popped up and began to grind around and unbotton, rather slip off, more or less, the top buttons of her low cut blouse, and I eventually got a goodo peek at those perky knocks flying out of a tiny tiger striped bra. Then she struggled, but finally managed to get the shorts down revealing just some teenie panties with an out of sight leather fringe around them. I was wishing at this point that I decided to lay on her cunt instead of Blinkie’s but then I got this obvious notion and unbuttoned Blinkie’s blouse and slipped of her bottoms and, you guessed it, they were identical as ever. Then the bras came off, nice abstract sucked often nipples. “Like that?” Blinkie inquired. “You have very nice tits and I am going to squeeze them right now,” I told her. then I squeezed them, then a few circles around the outer part of the nipple and then my tongue, hard flat licks over the entire nipple, tongue tip lightly in circles on tit tip, varieties of various tiny bites and sucks etc. etc. We got up and found a more colorful room because I like to fuck in faintly colorful rooms. Then she rolled onto the bed in the other room giggling while I stood at the door, going through my usual this is great but can I handle the fucking nympho bit, and she was really younger than me like about 13 or so. So I started down with my blue jeans and tossed them over the bedpost, nice bed, old but really large and low, and a low blue light on in the corner to boot. I didn’t have any underwear on, it was at half mast now, getting bigger by the second. “You have a nice cock,” she spoke, a witless remark for the present situation. “If I rub it on this nice pussy of mine will it get larger and larger?” She dangled the panties down her legs and off and began to fiddle her clit. She was right. She was right, I was really up, she could have done chin ups on the fucking thing it was so hard. I knelt onto the bed and started with her feet and worked snake tongue up to her puss. (She was that type, I knew for some reason.) I worked on the thing for a good ten minutes and then wormed my way to her hot mouth and swung it around in there for a good while. This was a hot chick by now, she was grabbing for the prick like nutty. “Don’t go too much on it, I want to make this thing last.” She winked at that. Corny, yes, but all-American and a new turn on. Little Blinkie had just turned from pure Bronx poodle walking slut to Kansas Central cheerleader. Then I laid over and let her do a little mouth work on it, bigger than I eve saw it in all my fifteen years, let me tell you, I was proud of its showing. The sucking felt great, it also gave me a chance to jiggle those monster tits for awhile too. It’s wonderful the way a pair like that feels when a chick’s body is bent over on her knees like that. Then I asked her to get in on it so I moved around so her cunt was above me, lightly over the clito at first then in and out of her wet hole, outoffuckingsight. Her pubic hair a deep black, nice contrast to her blond beehive job upstairs. Up to here I was holding back all I could, but then I moved her away and put her down on her knees and shoved it all in from behind at first, getting a great grip on her thighs and guiding her. Then turned her over and shoved her legs up as far as I could, tight grip, really, really tight, then slowly in and out then to our sides so that the bone above my thing was rubbing her clit, out again teasing her clit, an occasional nod or two from the Codeine for comic relief, then bang faster and faster and my finger tickling her sweet ass, a simple All-Midwest Conference lay in truth, but worth laying down here nonetheless, and pump, pump, bingo COME TIME. (Ah, just like a can of spinach to old Popeye). I could have filled a motherfucking bucket with all that sap. Laid there awhile with her, can never get over the drag of that fucking bit, tried to squeeze a last nod or two, watched her roll the basketball that was in the corner over he body, then I did it for a while to her, made her hump on it, turn around and at the door, Winkie! “Time to go home sweetheart,” she reminded Blink. So she got up and put her things on and stared, “Come over to our place in the afternoon tomorrow, that was fun, OK?” Sure bet, sure bet. They split. Fat Eddie came into the room. He looked like he just sweated off about forty fucking pounds. We smoked some more and decided we should get some sleep. “What do you think of Winkie and Blinkie?” he asked. “I think they’re fucking great,” I told him. (Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries, p. 59ff)

* * *

I…slipped into some baggy jeans, a tee-shirt (stayed barefoot) and went out and up. “Up” is my roof, and what I do is simply take off all my clothes, stand around awhile, a totally naked young boy, stare into the star machine and jerk myself off…I love it this way. My feet bare against the tar which is soft from the summer heat, the slight breeze that runs across your entire body, the breezes always seem to hit strongest against my crotch, and you feel an incredible power being naked under a dome of stars while a giant city is dressed and dodging cars all around you five lights down. I guess it has to do with the incredible sexiness of the whole thing, the idea that someone else might pop through the roof door and snag you any second, the possibility of being caught in a situation where there is no possibility of explaining yourself is what is the real turn on, or that someone is or might be spying on you all the while without a trace. (Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries, p. 42)

* * *

We slipped up to the top deck of the ship and wet our rags and raised them to our faces. After four deep whiffs we were sailing someplace else, bells ringing through my ears and little lights flashing through my eyes. I pictured myself paddling across a river with black water, only the canoe was going backwards instead of forwards. (Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries, p. 4)

* * *

I fucked up. I sit here with my liver and kidneys vibrating inside from uncertainty in every direction. Poetry can unleash a terrible fear. I suppose it is the fear of possibilities, too many possibilities, each with its own set of variations. (Jim Carroll, Forced Entries, p. 14)

* * *

But as my sight
moved down their bodies, I sensed a strange distortion
that made the angle of chin and chest not right—
The head was twisted backwards: some cruel torsion
forced face toward kidneys, so the people strode
backwards, all being deprived of forward vision.
(Dante, Inferno, Canto XX)

* * *

Then he twisted up his mouth, with his tongue
stuck out, like an ox licking at its nose—
(Dante, Inferno, Canto XVII)

* * *

As she shared her story with me
the other spirit wept. Pity struck me
and I fainted, as if departing this life,
And down I went, as a dead body falls.
(Dante, Inferno, Canto V)

* * *

If the arms are kept straight (that is, if the elbows are extended) and held directly in front of the body, they can be placed in a position with the palms flat and facing upward. This is the position of supination, in which the right thumb points to the right side and the left thumb, mirroring it, points to the left. Beginning from this supinated posture, the arms can be rotated (the left clockwise, the right counterclockwise) into a palm-down, or pronated, position. In doing this full pronation movement, each hand goes through a 180-degree rotation; and an additional 90-degree rotation, to the thumbs-down (“Farewell, gladiator”) position is possible for most people. That comes to 270 degrees of pronation-supination range. One-third of this total rotation comes from the shoulder, two-thirds from the elbow. As you perform this movement you cannot feel the separate contributions or the shoulder and elbow; it is experienced as a smooth, unified rotation, just as the rotation of the neck from side to side is felt…If the australopithecine hand ventured out onto the savannah less than fully prepared for the challengers it would meet there, the shoulder and arm and their neurologic support systems were very likely already well ahead of the game. The pivoting and sliding movements of the scapula, together with the full supination of the forearm, permitted accelerated overhead throwing of objects held in the hand. There were other changes that had to be made to capitalize fully on the ballistic potential, most prominently an advanced visual motor control system. And catch up is exactly what the hand (and brain) did. Very quickly–on an evolutionary time scale, that is–the hand and brain not only met but began to redefine the demands and possibilities of a life in which forelimbs had been freed of the obligation to support body weight. (Frank Wilson, The Hand, p. 74ff)

* * *

The shoulder contributes to movements that not only transport but also orient the hand. And in shifting our attention to its role in supporting the function of the hand per se, we must understand that there is no such division or segregation of these functions in the body itself; the musculoskeletal system functions in a fully integrated way, so that overall movement is unitary and fluent. In reality, shoulder, arm, and hand functions are exquisitely tuned and responsive to one another in both neuromuscular an bio-mechanical terms. The kinetic and informational processes take place simultaneously from the body outward to the hand, and from the hand inward to the body. (Frank Wilson, The Hand, p. 73)

* * *

Ten…a smashing piece. The rock people are ranged out upstage behind a low metal bar stretching from wing to wing. Left of center and a yard or so downstage of the bar a pole stretches from floor to flies. Bar and pole are “home base” constants for the ten dancers, all in white shirts and pants, who do nothing more (which is a great deal) than position themselves in contiguous relation to these properties throughout the forty minutes of the piece. They’re in three groups: five men, three girls, a man and a girl. Each group alternates leadership in determining the position, or design, to be assumed in relation to the bar and pole. When the leader arranges himself the others assess the exact disposal of the body and align themselves next to him in the same shape in accordance their observations. The variations are interminably beautiful. Yet once you get the idea it’s unnecessary to look at it and the length of the piece substantiates the idea that it’s beyond entertainment (getting screwed by this “art” thing) in suggesting the total life situation of the illusion of an occasional clear configuration emerging from an equally illusory chaotic tumble (the milling around of the performers in between their positioning. The constant order and confusion of our improvised orderly and confused lives. (Jill Johnston, Marmalade Me, p. 141)

* * *

I began to be very interested in the novel phenomenon of dancers looking me straight in the eye. A reasonable attitude. I didn’t like to see them groveling around on the floor either. Up or down seemed excessive. The dead center thing was what I first remember about [Merce] Cunningham. Of course he went up and down. His head too. But with a difference. He didn’t have his head in the clouds and he wasn’t hanging it between his legs either. I mean you didn’t have to feel sorry for him on the one hand, or hope for his redemption from the powers above on the other. Quite considerate. With all this and other things in mind I’d go back to see Jose [Limon] and puzzle over the intractable habit of looking so remote. He was certainly sincere. (Jill Johnston, Marmalade Me, p. 126)

* * *

The physical action conveyed all I wanted to know: a leap, say, with the body doubled over, and then its polar opposite in the torso and head thrown back, held there a moment, the arms angled, bent at elbow and wrist, up over the face, to relnforce the ecstatic arch. Any exaggeration of facial expression conveyed more than I wanted to know. December would be absurd certainly in the current mode of the deadpan delivery, the inscrutable face. Accepting the dance on its own terms nobody would expect a raptured arch to be accompanied by an impassive expression. Yet the extravagance of feeling in the movement alone is self-explanatory, and the problem always, perhaps, with romance, is the temptation to take it too seriously, to command responses of pity and terror which exceed the reality of movement making its own primitive appeal to our nerves and muscles, the drama of expansion and contraction in advance of our capacities for sentimental involvement. (Jill Johnston, Marmalade Me, p. 88f)

* * *

The death solo is one of the most exciting solos…Ignacio gets up and begins with a hair-raising rhythm, the top of one foot, this foot crossed behind the supporting leg, beating the floor in a desperate syncopation (coordinated with an eruption of drums in the score), arms spread-eagled but dangling as if broken feathers, and the beating foot like an externalization of a wild heartbeat, the whole action a kind of embattled limp–trapped animal in a final ritual of proud if hopeless assertion. Limon bequeathed his role to Louis Falco for this revival, and Falco, much lighter (and younger) than Limon, made something very beautiful out of it in his own way. His agility and phrasing and modulations of intensity are extraordinary. (Jill Johnston, Marmalade Me, p. 85)

* * *

Possibly some people, like leaves, turn pretty colors when they begin to look old. Unlike leaves, the changing colors of people depend on states of mind. A mind in a terrible state produces odd changes. Advancing years can be a terrible state of mind. I know an elderly man, however who isn’t even changing colors…Miss [Martha] Graham could still command the situation if she did nothing more than sit or stand or walk around and look tragic. She does these things, but the power of it is canceled by the embarrassment of muscles being pushed where they no longer wish to go. So that’s the way it is. And as it is I find it more interesting than her company, whose overexpanded acrobatic exertion is further from the truth of the original style than the dry-boned delivery of the creator herself. (Jill Johnston, Marmalade Me, p. 70f)

* * *

The romantic beauty of Waterman Switch is absurdly simple. Have two nudes locked in an embrace walk very slowly the twenty-foot length of wooden tracks running from center stage into the wings, and have the walk accompanied by an aria fro Verdi’s Simone Boccanegro sung by the soprano Victoria de los Angeles, and you have a sound-image combo that knocks you out…The dance was in fact as much about water and string and rolling stones as it was about walking nudes. Typically Morris was the tape recording of rolling stones that ran uninterrupted from beginning to end, drowned out only by the soprano singing Verdi’s aria.Typical also the conscious naivete of emphasizing the fact of duplication. First you hear the stones, then you see them as some foam rubber gray-painted facsimiles tumble onto the stage from the wings. The stage is set, with strewn fake stones and the four plywood sections of track (visible to begin with in a downstage corner), which are then moved into position, one by one, for the “walk,” by the third party of the dance, a girl dressed as a boy (suit, tie, hat), who then walks with the nudes, just upstage of them, holding a ball of twine stretched in a taut line over her shoulder into the wing from which you can imagine the distance, and unwinding into the wing toward which the three of them walk to emphasize a horizontal journey that take four minutes and suggests an eternity. The girl-boy image (Lucinda Childs) is entirely functional for setup and support, but she is also a brilliant device as a neutral foil…to the naked Morris and Rainer. Yet the two images seem scrupulously balanced. A girl obviously a girl dressed just as obviously as a boy can be an image no less striking than that public exposure which is immediately understood as vivid by any culture that undresses only in private.

In the third sequence of the dance, following the “stones” and the “walk, Childs holds one end of a long pole and Morris holds the other end (a red flag covering his parts) and runs round in circles (Childs the axis) while we hear a tape of Morris describing certain aspects of the dance that he suggests might appear out of sequence. Eventually, he says, he will have slides made of the dance and by means of the slides an aspect of the walking on the tracks sequence will appear here, in the circle-running sequence, and an aspect of the stones rolling on section will appear when the two nudes again walk on the tracks. He intends no such thing, but the suggestion is possibly a facetious commentary on the desirability of an “aesthetic” order and clarity, not to mention his own. And by way of countering the audience’s anticipation of the unknown (or just to make another statement of fact) he says that the nudes will again walk on the tracks, which they do, and that the next section (after the circle-running) will consist of three people, two nude, one dressed, at the back of the stage, backs to audience, who will balance on stones, a long rope running between them that they will hold at chest height, which they do, and that the two nudes at either end near the wings will slowly move toward the one in the center by utilizing the roundness of their stones, which the don’t, although they might if they were balancing in the water that Morris talks about as they stand there, the long rope between them. (Jill Johnston, Marmalade Me, p. 65ff)

* * *

THE SHOULDER

The shoulder of a man is shaped like a baby pig.
It terrifies and it bores the observer, the shoulder.
The Greeks, who had slaves, were able to hitch back and rig
The shoulder, so the eye is flattered and feels bolder.

But that’s not the case in New York, where a roomer
Stands around day and night stupefied with his clothes on
The shoulder, hung from his neck (half orchid, half tumor)
Hangs publicly with a metabolism of its own.

After it has been observed a million times or more
A man hunches it against a pole, a jamb, a bench,
Parasitic he takes no responsibility for.
He become used to it, like to the exhaust stench.

It takes the corrupt, ectoplasmic shape of a prayer
Or money, that connects with a government somewhere.

(Edwin Denby)

* * *

Friends smiling step out through the door
Diminish shouts of the party
Home single undress or by pairs
Asleep lose their identities
Senseless abed, no problems, friends
Both ways, a third too, hours of work
Daily the intent absence ends
Buoyant friends daily lurk apart
Among strangers most of life laid
Like at night’s trembling stasis you peer
One rooming house still bulb-lit shade
Maybe print, maybe cans of beer
Subway or street, glances smiling
Move lose, turn aside, beguiling

(Edwin Denby)

* * *

Sensing where the woman was, he suddenly threw his whole body upon her. Her cries and the sound of the two of them, entangled, falling against the sand wall, roused an animal-like excitement and frenzy at the top of the cliff–whistling, clapping, obscene, wordless screams. The number of watchers had grown and now included some young women among the men. And the number of flashlights whose light flooded over the doorway had increased at least three times. He had been successful, perhaps because he had taken her by surprise. Somehow he was able to drag her outside, holding her by the collar. She was a dead, bag-like weight. The lights, in a tight semicircle around three sides of the hole, were like the bonfires of some nocturnal festival. Although it was not really that hot, perspiration like a layer of flayed skin poured from his armpits, and his hair was soaked as if he had poured water over it. The cries of the onlookers were like compressed reverberations, filling the sky over his head with great black wings. He felt as if the wings were his own. He could feel the breathless villagers looking down from the top of the cliff, so clearly they could have been himself. They were part of him, their viscid, drooling saliva was his own desire. In his mind he was the executioner’s representative rather than the victim. The string of her trousers was unexpectedly troublesome. It was dark, and this trembling fingers seemed twice as clumsy as usual. When at last he had torn them off, he grabbed her buttocks in his two hands and shifted his hips under her, but at that instant she twisted her body and wrenched away. He churned through the sand as he tried to catch her, but again he was pushed back with a steel-like resistance. He grabbed her violently, entreating: “Please! Please! I can’t rally do it anyway, just pretend.” However, there was no need to grasp at her any longer. She had already lost all desire to escape. He heard a noise of cloth tearing, and at the same instant he was struck with a terrible blow in the belly by the point of her shoulder, which bore the weight of her whole body. He simply grasped his knees and bent in two. The woman, leaning over him, struck his face again and again with her fists. At first her movements seemed slow, but each blow, delivered as though she were pounding salt, carried weight. Blood gushed from his nose. Sand clung to the blood, his face as a lump of earth. (Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes, p. 230f)

* * *

His pores opened, and a thousand prickly little insects, like gains of rice, came crawling out. (Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes, p. 196)

* * *

Before he could collect his thoughts, a hostile barking sounded from a nearby brushwood fence…In the  dark a circle of white fangs pressed in upon him…There was no choice. The only thing to do was to make a direct run for the village gates. He ran. The houses, floating in the vague light of burning lamps, formed a maze of obstacles and passageways along the single path of his flight. He could taste the wind wheezing through his tightened throat like luke-warm rust. A desperate gamble on a sheet of thin glass that was already bent to the breaking point. (Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes, p. 194)

* * *

As he was being soaped he pretended to be aroused and pulled at her kimono. He would wash her in return. Caught between confusion and expectancy, she made a gesture of resistance, bu it was not clear just what she was resisting He quickly poured a bucket of warm water over her naked body and without a washcloth began to pass his soapy hands directly over her skin. He started with the earlobes and shifted down to the jaw, and as he passed over her shoulders he reached around and with one hand grasped her breast. She cried out and, sliding down his chest, crouched level with his stomach. Undoubtedly it was a posture of expectation. but the man was in no hurry. With measured cadence, his hands went on with their painstaking massaging from one part of the body to another. The woman’s excitement naturally infected him too. He felt a strange sadness that was different from usual. The woman was glowing from within now, as if she were being washed by a wave of fireflies. To disappoint her now would be like suddenly shooting a freed criminal from behind. And so he reacted with even greater frenzy, spurring on his awakening senses. But there is a limit to perverted passion too. The woman, who had been entreating him at first, manifested obvious fright at this frenzy. He was seized by a feeling of prostration, as if he had ejaculated. Again he spurred his courage, forcing himself on by a series of helter-skelter lewd fantasies, arousing his passion by biting her breasts and striking her body, which, with the soap, sweat, and sand, felt like machine oil mixed with iron filings. He had intended to let this go on for at least two hours. But finally the woman gritted her teeth and, complaining of pain, crouched away from him. He mounted her from behind like a rabbit and finished up within seconds. Then he threw water over her to wash off the soap; he forced her to drink a teacupful of the cheap sake along with three aspirin tables. She would sleep straight on through without awakening until night. (Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes, p. 165f)

* * *

Without paying any attention, he poised his arm to strike, but the woman, screaming, rushed violently at him. He put out his elbow and twisted his body in an effort to ward her off. but he had miscalculated, and instead of the woman he himself was swung around. Instantly he tried to counter, but she held on as if chained to the shovel. He did not understand. At least he could not be defeated by force. They rolled over two or three times, threshing about on the earthen floor, and for a brief moment he thought he had pinned her down, but with the handle of the shovel as a shield she deftly flipped him over. Something was wrong with him; maybe it was the sake he had drunk. Anyway, he no longer cared that his opponent was a woman. He jabbed his bended knee into her stomach. The woman cried out, and suddenly her strength ebbed. At once he rolled over on her and held her down. Her breasts were bare, and his hand slipped on skin that was slippery with sweat. Suddenly the two of them froze, as in a movie when the projector breaks down. It was a petrified moment that would go on and on, if one of them did not do something. He could sense vividly the structure of her breasts outlined against his stomach, and his penis seemed like a living think completely independent of him. He held his breath. With a slight turn of his body the scramble for the shovel would turn into something very different. (Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes, p. 131f)

* * *

He wanted to believe that his own lack of movement had stopped all movement in the world, the way a hibernating frog abolishes winter. (Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes, p. 54)

* * *

In 1959, it seemed all over…[Ted] Williams’ neck was so stiff he could hardly turn his head to look at the pitcher. When he swung, it looked like a Calder mobile with one thread cut. (John Updike, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu)

* * *

The ketcher gets to the  ball first, but he boots it on out past the pitcher’s box, the pitcher fallin’ on his face tryin’ to stop it, the shortstop sprawlin’ after it full length and zaggin’ it on over towards the second baseman, whilst Muller is scorin’ with the tyin’ run and Loesing is roundin’ third with the winnin’ run. Ty Cobb could ‘a’ made a three-bagger outa that bunt, with everybody fallin’ over theirself tryin’ to pick the ball up. But Pearl is still maybe fifteen, twenty feet from the bag, toddlin’ like a baby and yeepin’ like a trapped rabbit, when the second baseman finely gets a holt of that ball and slams it over to first. The first baseman ketches it and stomps on the bag, the base umpire waves Pearl out, and there goes your old ball game, the craziest ball game every played in the history of the organized world. Their players start runnin’ in, and then I see Magrew. He starts after Pearl, runnin’ faster’n any man ever run before. Pearl sees him comin’ and runs behind the base umpire’s legs and gets a hold onto ’em. Magrew comes up, pantin’ and roarin’, and him and the midget play ring-around-a-rosy with the umpire, who keeps shovin’ at Magrew with one hand and tryin’ to slap the midget loose from his legs with the other. Finely Magrew ketches the midget, who is still yeepin’ like a stuck sheep. He gets holt of that little guy by both his ankles and starts whirlin’ him round and round his head like Magrew was a hammer thrower and Pearl was the hammer. Nobody can stop him without gettin’ their head knocked off, so everybody just stands there and yells. Then Magrew lets the midget fly. He flies on out towards second, high and fast, like a human home run, headed for the soap sign in center field. Their shortstop tries to get to him, but he can’t make it, and I knowed the little fella was goin’ to bust to pieces like a dollar watch on a asphalt street when he hit the ground. But it so happens their center fielder is just crossin’ second, and he starts runnin’ back, tryin’ to get under the midget, who had took to spiralin’ like a football ‘stead of turnin’ head over foot, which give him more speed and more distance. I know you never seen a midget ketched, and you prob’ly never even seen one throwed. To ketch a midget that’s been throwed by a heavy-muscled man and is flyin’ through the air, you got to run under him and with him and pull your hands and arms back and down when you ketch him, to break the compact of his body, or you’ll bust him in two like a matchstick. I seen Bill Lange and Willie Keeler and Tris Speaker make some wonderful ketches in my day, but I never seen nothin’ like that center fielder. He goes back and still further back and he pulls that midget down outa the air like he was liftin’ a sleepin’ baby from a cradle. They wasn’t a bruise onto him, only his face was the color of cat’s meat and he ain’t got no air in his chest. In his exccitment, the base umpire, who was runnin’ back with the center fielder when he ketched Pearl, yells, “Out!” and that give hysteries to the Bethlehem which was ragin’ like Niagry on that ball field. Everybody was hoopin’ and hollerin’ and yellin’ and runnin’, with the fans swarmin’ onto the field, and the cops tryin’ to keep order, and some guys laughin’ and some of the women fans cryin’, and six or eight of us holdin’ onto Magrew to keep him from gettin’ at the midget and finishin’ him off. Some of the fans picks up the St. Louis pitcher and the center fielder, and starts carryin’ ’em around on their shoulders and they was the craziest goin’s-on knowed to the history of organized ball on this side of the ‘Lantic Ocean. (James Thurber, You Could Look It Up)

* * *

He dipped a pen in the ink and began to write closely on the blank half-page with which this verso provided him. After filling it almost entirely , he signed the name ‘Francois-Charles Cortier’–then, beneath the first c, which was as yet unprovided with its appendage, he quickly drew, with the ease of long habit, a curved serpent in the required position to serve as a cedilla. Once the ink was dry, the young man bundled all the sheets together again and refolded them in four; then, stowing them away in their golden hiding-place, he closed its jewelled lid, still fitted into its grooves, with a careful push of his thumb–up to the final convincing snap, which we just caught despite the absence of any fresh bull’s-eye. Soon the dainty, precious playbill had been correctly replaced, and glittered as before in its open casket. After putting away the book he had used in the book-case, the young man returned to the table and rubbed the whole surface of the slate with the tip of his forefinger so that nothing remained extant there–then carried back the death’s-head which, through his care, still wore its cap; finally, under its glass globe, it once more constituted the chief ornament of the mantelpiece. A moment later, his right hand, groping in one of his pockets, emerged armed with a revolver, while the other quickly undid all the buttons of his waistcoat. He pressed the gun against his shirt, over the heart, and pulled the trigger; startled by the sound of the shot which at once rang out, we saw him fall stiffly on his back. At that moment Canterel led us away, just as the assistant abruptly opened the door and entered the room. The working-class woman and her son, who had not missed a single detail of the scene, were now embracing each other with emotion. (Raymond Roussel, Locus Solus, p. 116)

* * *

A beautiful woman, whose fascinating nails glittered like mirrors whenever her fingers moved, emerged in her turn from the hall, wearing a light and elegant costume for the beach. She was pursued by an old man in the hotel livery, who was scarcely across the threshold when he stopped her by handing her an envelope. In spite of the tea-rose she was holding in her hand by the middle of its stem, it was with this hand that the young woman took the letter, since it was less encumbered than the other, in which parasol and gloves convened. (Raymond Roussel, Locus Solus, p. 110)

* * *

The nobleman spread his fingers and twisted his head to the right with amazing abruptness, moving his hand at once to the nape of his neck, as though from the effect of a pain which was nonetheless quickly forgotten. (Raymond Roussel, Locus Solus, p. 101)

* * *

I had escaped to the beach in order not to see the horrific butchery that was taking place under the blazing sun. The lazy play of the children calmed me and I stayed there for along time, watching them. They stood in a line parallel to the river, with just a small space between each of them, then fell, one by one, and lay on the ground as if asleep. When the last one in the line had fallen, the first came and stood behind him, all the others followed and the game started again. Sometimes the last child would rest his hands on those of the child in front, and that child on the hands of the next and so on up to the first in the line. Then, linked in this way, they wold move forwards in a straight line or form a circle, or coil round to make a spiral. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 148f)

* * *

As the alcohol took hold, they paraded their nakedness and were clumsily conscious of it. Their genitals, until then irrelevant, began to stir. The men distractedly handled their own penis or brushed against it, as if by chance, when they dropped one hand to thigh or hip. The women contrived to stand in such a way that their buttocks stuck out or their hips were emphasized. Several of them stroked their own bodies or looked insistently and silently at another’s nakedness, as if expecting a reciprocal response…For a while it had seemed merely accidental when one of the men brushed a hand against his penis. But now, as they talked, they distractedly held it in the hollow of their hand and even caressed it. Then a young woman who had been a rather restless participant in one of the small groups suddenly jumped to one side, oblivious of her companions. She stood in a clearing, her feet planted firmly on the ground, her legs apart, her eyes half-closed, and began to move the upper part of her body in slow sinuous movements. She went rigid as a board, caressing her own shining skin with evident delight. At first no one seemed to take any notice of her. The woman cupped her round, dark breasts in her hands and tried, without success, to push them up to within reach of her tongue. She stood on tiptoe as if unaware that this would move her breasts no nearer to her mouth; they simply moved with her, remaining always at the same distance from her tongue. However, that instinctive movement made her whole body seem lither; her muscles arranged themselves differently, her buttocks grew taut and round and a sort of dimple formed where thigh and hip met. Though unable to touch her nipples she continued to flicker her hard, pointed red tongue in and out of her mouth. As it dawned on her that she would never bring tongue and breasts together she began to howl. Observing her breasts, she squeezed them and made circles with them in her cupped hands. A small, muscular Indian, who had been watching her, came nearer: he had a small, erect, sinewy penis that pressed against his stomach. The howling woman was unaware of him, still absorbed in trying to touch her nipples with her tongue. Slowly coming up behnd her, the Indian drew nearer, considered her for a moment and then, with a little jump, clasped himself to her, so closelly that his erect penis disappeared in the fold between her firm, protuberant buttocks. His arms encircled her and his hands rested on hers as they squeezed her breasts, but the woman continued her distracted howling and her body, shaken by convulsive shuddering, held its postition. Nothing in the woman’s expression or in her geneeral attitude gave the impression that she had noticed the presence of that small, muscular body that clung to her rounder, more abundant one. The man rested his chin between the woman’s shoulder blades and tried with his arms to force her forwards, or even, perhaps, down on all fours, in order no doubt to be able to penetrate her with the small erect penis still lost between her buttocks. But the woman’s body remained rigid, legs apart, bottom out, her hands pushing up and squeezing her breasts, her tongue constantly flickering in and out. This, together with her incomprehensible roaring, left on her tongue liquid filaments that escaped from the corners of her mouth leaving parallel trails of mucus or saliva running down either side of her chin. With something akin to fury, the man kept his chin vainly pressed between the two prominent bones of her shoulder blades. The rest of him remained insistently glued to the woman’s large body until she removed her hands from her breasts, stretched her arms away from her body and with an abrupt, unexpected shake freed herself from the man, who fell backwards onto the sandy ground. Scornful, the woman seemed to emerge from her trance and, without a backward glance, calmly walked off towards the trees. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 56ff)

* * *

The men who had been quarreling suddenly looked away from each other, walked off in opposite directions and vanished amongst the crowd, which was now seized by a pensive, digestive somnolence. Some were stretched out prone on the ground; other, equally still, stood where they were, their eyes closed, seemingly on the point of collapse. Some had climbed into trees and installed themselves there, trying to fit their bodies to the irregularities of the branches. Their drowsiness seemed to bring them closer to a nightmare than to a dream. Their faces betrayed the persistent visions that were attacking them from within and keeping them from sleep. Their eyes rolled slowly beneath furrowed brows, so that at times they were nearly cross-eyed. They gave sly, furtive glances about them. Though their bodies remained still their toes kept up an involuntary twitching that betrayed what the rest was trying to hide. All their attention was on what was happening inside them, as if they were waiting to see the immediate effect of their feasting and were observing the passage, piece by piece of every mouthful they had eaten through every inch of their body. It was as if they were convinced that if after a certain time their consumption of the food had no terrible consequences, they could consider themselves out of danger and lay aside their shameful anxiety with impunity. They seemed to hear rising within them a very ancient sound. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 53)

* * *

Near the grills two men were engaged in a violent argument, their faces so close that they almost touched. They shot furious glances at each other, turned on their heels as if to part for ever, only to wheel abruptly round, their heads so close at times I feared they would bang them together. Their shrill voices cracked with anger. Finally they stood still and silent, a few inches apart, looking at each other and breathing hard. Their two shadows cast in the same direction by the sun, lay partly overlapping on the yellow ground. Their hostile faces spoke of imminent battle, hatred and scorn. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 52)

* * *

Before he took his first bite he seemed to muse upon the hunk of meat, an incredulous expression on his face; it was as if the realization of this longed-for moment satisfied a desire so intense in him that the very immensity of the gift made him doubt its reality. Then, convinced at last by the irrefutable reality of the neat, he began to eat, but every bite taken, far from gratifying his appetite, seemed to increase it. The intervals between bites became shorter and shorter until the rapid nodding of his head made one think less of teeth biting firmly into flesh than of an obstinate, repetitive pecking. He bit into it again and again but, since his mouth was already full of meat he had barely managed to chew, he could only snatch a few greyish filaments which hardly constitute a proper mouthful. It was as if there were in him an excess of appetite which grew as he ate. Worse, the sheer strength of his appetite, expressed in his uncontrollable, repeated gestures, cancelled out or diminished any pleasure he might have gained form his prize. He seemed more of a victim than the piece of meat itself. There was a residual anxiety in him from which the meat was now free. When I looked away from him towards the others, the scene, lit by the harsh sun, instantly reminded me of the feverish activity of an army of anst stripping carrion. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 48)

* * *

The imminence of the feast made them anxious: I could see them pressing round the grills, betraying their impatience by the involuntary gestures they made. Some, like children, kept shifting from one foot to the other, as if the very weight of their bodies troubled them; others, if their neighbours so much as brushed against them, reacted by giving them a violent shove. Many scratched their back, head, armpits or genitals with distracted fury; some, balancing on one foot, scratched the dark,  muscular calf of the supporting leg with the toenails of the other foot so hard as to draw blood. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 46f)

* * *

Each of the two strong men who flanked me kept a firm but gentle grip on one of my arms, guiding me deftly over the rugged terrain, never once addressing me by word or look. (Juan Jose Saer, The Witness, p. 27)

* * *

A twenty-four-year-old cellist is sitting naked on a stool in her bedroom in Manila. Her legs are spread; her left hand pulls back the folds of her vulva; her right hand is drawing the tip of a cello bow over her clitoris in fluttering tremolo. (Harry Mathews, Singular Pleasures)

* * *

Dressed in a cotton playsuit, an eleven-year-old girl is masturbating in an empty  sitting-room in Glasgow. She is squatting astride a rugby ball, rocking back and forth at moderate speed. On the television set in front of her, running, barelegged rugby players keep smashing into one another. As she reaches a climax, she tilts the blunt tip of the ball hard against her pubis. (Harry Mathews, Singular Pleasures)

* * *

To enable themselves to travel easily across loose sand, several snakes move by a method know as sidewinding…Snakes usually move when a series of waves pass down the body, pushing against the ground and driving the snake in the opposite direction to the waves. Sidewinding is completely different: the snake throws its body into curves and when moving, only two points of the body touch the ground. These two points remain stationary while the raised parts move at an angle to the direction of the waves passing along the body. As the snake progresses the part of the body immediately behind is raised, so the body is laid down and taken up like a caterpillar track. When the point of contact approaches the tail, a new point is started at the head end and the snake moves along a series of parallel tracks. When watching the snake, it literally rolls off at a slanting direction to the way it seem  to be going, judging from the angle of its body. (Ro Tate, Desert Animals, p. 121f) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyXNBAHu32o&feature=related]

* * *

Wertheimer often described how he always failed in his effort to fit in, to be together with so-called simple folk and thus with the so-called people, and he often reported that he went to the Dichtel Mill with the idea of sitting at the table of simple people, only to have to admit after the first such attempt that it was a mistake to think that individuals like him, Wertheimer, or like me could just sit down at the table of simple people. Individuals like us have cut themselves off from the table of simple people at an early age, he said, as I recall, have been born at quite a different table, he said, not at the table of simple people. Individuals like us are naturally drawn to the table of simple people, he said. But we have no business sitting at the table of simple people, as he said, as I recall. To lead a beer-truck driver’s existence, I thought, to load and unload beer kegs day after day and roll them through the lobbies of inns throughout Upper Austria and always sit down with these same decrepit innkeepers and fall into bed dead-tired every day for thirty years, for forty years. I took a deep breath and went as fast I could to Traich. (Thomas Bernhard, The Loser, p. 144f)

* * *

All his life Glenn had wanted to be the Steinway itself, he hated the notion of being between Bach and his Steinway as a mere musical middleman and of one day being ground to bits between Bach on one side and his Steinway on the other, he said, I thought…To wake up one day and be Steinway and Glenn in one, he said, I thought, Glenn Steinway, Steinway Glenn, all for Bach. (Thomas Bernhard, The Loser, p. 82)

* * *

The Imperfect Enjoyment

Naked she lay, clasped in my longing arms,
I filled with love, and she all over charms,
Both equally inspired with eager fire,
Melting through kindness, flaming in desire;
With arms, legs, lips, close clinging to embrace,
She clips me to her breast and sucks me to her face.
Her nimble tongue (Love’s lesser lightning) played
Within my mouth and to my thoughts conveyed
Swift orders that I should prepare to throw
The all-dissolving thunderbolt below.
My fluttering soul, sprung with a pointed kiss,
Hangs hovering o’er her balmy brinks of bliss,
But whilst her busy hand would guide that part
Which should convey my soul up to her heart,
In liquid raptures I dissolve all o’er,
Melt into sperm and spend at every pore.
A touch from any part of her had done’t,
Her hand, her foot, her very look’s a cunt.
Smiling, she chides in a kind, murmuring noise,
And from her body wipes the clammy joys,
When with a thousand kisses wandering o’er
My panting bosom, ‘Is there then no more?’
She cries,’All this to love and rapture’s due,
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?’
But I, the most forlorn, lost man alive,
To show my wished obedience vainly strive,
I sigh, alas, and kiss, but cannot swive.
Eager desires confound my first intent,
Succeeding shame does more success prevent,
And rage at last confirms me impotent.
Ev’n her fair hand, which might bid heat return
To frozen age and make cold hermits burn,
Applied to my dead cinder warms no more
Than fire to ashes cold past flames restore.
….
(John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, p. 15f)

* * *

One of the greatest lessons I learned was how to feel the physical component of emotion…I could feel new emotions flood through me and then release me. I had to learn new words to label these “feeling” experiences, and most remarkably, I learned that I had the power to choose whether to hook into a feeling and prolong its presence in my body, or just let it quickly flow right out of me…There were certain emotions like anger, frustration, or fear that felt uncomfortable when they surged through my body. So I told my brain that I didn’t like that feeling and didn’t want to hook into those neural loops. I learned that I could use my left mind, through language to talk directly to my brain and tell it what I wanted and what I didn’t want. Upon this realization, I knew I would never return to the personality I had been before. I suddenly had much more say about how I felt and for how long, and I was adamantly opposed to reactivating old painful emotional circuits…Paying attention to what emotions feel like in my body has completely shaped my recovery. I spent eight years watching my mind analyze everything that was going on in my brain. Each new day brought new challenges and insights. The more I recovered my old files, the more my old emotional baggage surfaced, and the more I need to evaluate the usefulness of preserving its underlying neural circuity. Emotional healing was a tediously slow process, but well worth the effort. As my left brain became stronger, it seemed natural for me to want to “blame” other people or external events for my feelings or circumstances. But realistically, I knew that no one had the power to make me feel anything, except for me and my brain. Nothing external to me had the power to take away my peace of heart and mind. That was completely up to me. I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my existence. (Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight, p 126f)

* * *

Feeling a little nervous about my physical condition, I climbed off the machine and bumbled through my living room on the way to the bath. As I walked, I noticed that my movements were no longer fluid. Instead they felt deliberate and almost jerky. In the absence of my normal muscular co-ordination, there was no grace to my pace and my balance was so impaired that my mind seemed completely preoccupied with just keeping me upright. As I lifted my leg to step into the tub, I held on to the wall for support. It seemed odd that I could sense the inner activities of my brain as it adjusted and readjusted all of the opposing muscle groups in my lower extremities to prevent me from falling over. My perception of these automatic body responses was no longer an exercise in intellectual conceptualization. Instead, I was momentarily privy to a precise and experiential understanding of how hard the fifty trillion cells in my brain and body were working in perfect unison to maintain the flexibility and integrity of my physical form. Through the eyes of an avid enthusiast of the magnificence of the human design, I witnessed with awe the autonomic functioning of my nervous system as it calculated and recalculated every joint angle. Ignorant to the degree of danger my body was in, I balanced my weight against the shower wall. As I leaned forward to turn on the faucet, I was startled by an abrupt and exaggerated clamor as water surged into the tub. This unexpected amplification of sound was both enlightening and disturbing. It brought me to the realization that, in addition to having problems with coordination and equilibrium, my ability to process incoming sound (auditory information) was erratic. I understood neuroanatomically that coordination, equilibrium, audition, and the action of inspirational breathing were processed through the pons of my brainstem. For the firs time, I considered the possibility that I was perhas having a major neurological malfunction that was life threatening. (Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight, p 38f)

* * *

He started to work his way back to the stern on his hands and knees, being careful not to jerk against the fish. He may be half asleep himself, he thought. But I don’t want him to rest. He must pull until he dies. Back in the stern he turned so that his left hand held the strain of the line across his shoulders and drew his knife from its sheath with his right hand. The stars were bright now and he saw the dolphin clearly and he pushed the blade of his knife into his head and drew him out from under the stern. He put one of his feet on the fish and slit him quickly from the vent up to the tip of his lower jaw. Then he put his knife down and gutted him with his right hand, scooping him clean and pulling the gills clear. He felt the maw heavy and slippery in his hands and he slit it open. There were two flying fish inside. They were fresh and hard and he laid them side by side and dropped the guts and the gills over the stern. The sank leaving a trail of phosphorescence in the water. The dolphin was cold and a leprous gray-white now in the starlight and the old man skinned one side of him while he held his right foot on the fish’s head. Then he turned him over and skinned the other side and cut each side off from the head down to the tail. (Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, p. 78)

* * *

Jamshid could hear the girl breathing across the room…He felt come over him an intense sexual longing. He raised himself on an elbow, and looked in the girl’s direction. The room was completely dark. It was a little like that darkness in Shiraz in which he had awaited the widow. As if the darkness itself were some kind of candlelight. He looked around him. Though it was totally dark, he felt he could see the photographs of beautiful women that were pasted all over the invisible walls. He crossed the room. Kneeling at the girl’s bedside, he heard the huge, passionate gasps of her body clamoring for air. It gasped with the ruthless will of an infant sucking at the breast. It was funny, he thought, how at night a person clings savagely to a life that, in the daytime, he only wants to throw away.  He could smell the girls’ odor, bright and bewildering. With his hand he touched the smooth, hot skin of her arm. Sharp pains wriggled through his loins. He drew his hand away. And yet possibly it wasn’t his disease that was hurting him, but the pain of desire. He reached out and touched her again. Her breathing seemed to grow slightly deeper. He could not tell if she were awake or asleep. Surely asleep. And yet her nipples rose under his fingetips, and when he touched her belly it seemd to cave in a little under the caress. “Ah, it’s you,” the girl said, waking suddenly, “the old man Effat said to be good to. That’s fine with me. She says you’re nice. Come in with me.” Jamshid slid under her blanket. He moved his hand over her mound of hair. The gash between the thighs was wet and open. He opened it wide with his hand. The odor flared, like a dropped bottle of perfume. He moved on top of her and thrust apart the loose thighs and pushed in. As he put his arms around her he felt on her back several tiny welts. Effat had shown him the little bumps on her back where men had stubbed out their cigarettes…Her mouth kissed him back, her pelvis tipped up to meet him, she came alive down the length of ber body. They moved slowly, now more quickly, as a river gradually find its bed deepening. (Galway Kinnell, Black Light, p. 107f)

* * *

No sooner had Ali spoken than Jamshid felt the creature touch the bare skin of his chest. He managed somehow not to jump but to keep his body rigid. He did not budge except to urinate in his trousers. The scorpion crawled forward, then sat still again. Would it ever get off him? It crawled again. His scalp tingled. He was afraid the hair of his chest might stand on end and scare the scorpion into striking. Suddenly he realized he had lost track of where it was. He felt it here, he felt it there. Now a slow, stinging sensation took place on his neck, a sensation which was local and momentary, but which rippled out in all directions, breaking up his face, his chest, as if he were only an image. His life was over. What matter? He hated his life anyway, and the earth that killed you the moment you lay down on it. But he would take his killer into the grave with him. He reached for it, but he only felt his neck, perfectly unswollen. The moon was down, he saw, and the constellations had slid a long way. About his loins his trousers were damp and cold. He felt pleased with himself. A scorpion had walked across him, and he had merely pissed and dozed off. (Galway Kinnell, Black Light, p. 29)

* * *

He did not feel tired as he walked, even though at precisely this hour, for some twenty years, he had not failed to lie down for his nap. Walking with long strides he felt the pull of muscles across his belly. The warm breaking surface of the road underfoot seemed more friendly now. The air cooled off and a breeze carried away his sweat. He concentrated on his step, and on the feel of gravel and pebbles through the cotton soles of his geevays. He thought of the old shirts and dresses these shoes were made of, worn by unknown men and women, thrown away, collected, torn into strips, the strips folded and hammered and sewn flat to flat, and worn again as these slightly spongy soles through which one cold just feel the  road’s wrinkled surface. (Galway Kinnell, Black Light, p. 24)

* * *

At the pool Jamshid washed his right hand, his left hand, his right foot, his left foot, his face and his teeth. He passed a dripping hand through his hair, from the brow to the back of the neck. As he stood up, he saw in the ripples an image of himself, and even though he shut his eyes he could not keep from seeing himself torn to pieces. (Galway Kinnell, Black Light, p. 3)

* * *

He was staring at two girls who were walking on the threshing floor, and who until then had not been seen in Le Torri. They were dark-haired, sturdy. The looked at us, then one of them, in a loose deep-blue dress with a tie around the waist that showed off the fullness of her hips, broke off from the other, smoothed her hair, and, holding her skirt, walked toward us. We hadn’t left the shop doorway. She turned back and walked across the threshing floor, treading with the heels and toes of her shoes the dust that had accumulated on the wide bricks. Her legs were bare, and strong; the blue skirt made them seem even more bare. After walking around the other girl, she crouched on her heels, touched the brick dust with her fingers, gathered it into a little pile, and struck her hands in it, looked at her hands, and rubbed them on her legs. She got up and, still treading on the bricks with the heels and toes of her shoes, she went back to the other girl and started talking to her in an undertone. (Romano Bilenchi, The Chill, p. 62)

* * *

Some people say it is a hardship to have children. But who says so? It’s a joy from heaven! Do you love babies, Liza? I love them terribly. You know–imagine a pink little boy suckling your breast. What husband’s heart could turn against his wife, seeing her with his child? The baby, rosy, plump, spreads out his arms and legs, luxuriating in your warmth; his little hands and feet are firm like ripe apples, the nails clean and tiny, so tiny they are comical to see, and the eyes look at you as though he already understands everything. And when he suckles, he tugs at your breast with his little hand, playing. His father will come over, and the baby will turn from the breast, bend backward, look at him and laugh–as if it were God knows how funny–then start suckling again. Or else when the teeth begin to come, he’ll take a nip at his mother’s breast and look at her out of the corner of his eye: “See, I bit you!”: Isn’t this the greatest happiness in the world when the three of them, the husband, wife and child are together? For such moments, a lot can be forgiven. (Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky, p. 114)

* * *

Evening falls over a flat countryside. The rustling of untilled fields nearly drowns out a motor’s hum. a swallow perched high up on a cypress branch views an automobile’s approach on the road below. The car, a black Opel saloon, pulls over and parks on a gravel shoulder beneath the tree. Two figures are seen in silhouette behind the sloped windshield: a man in the driver’s seat and a woman beside him. They appear to be fighting. Faint shouts are heard, then the passenger door opens. No one emerges, however, and all sound ceases from the car. No longer able (in the advancing darkness) to observe the situation from its lofty branch, the curious bird swoops down from its perch, landing on a branch close to the ground. From here, the little voyeur is able to peer into the car past the opened door. Over the driver’s seat a sobbing man is slumped, his face buried in his arms. Next to him is nothing but a pair of stockings–not drooped over the seat but expanded and rigid, conforming to nonexistent limbs as if worn by a seated phantom. Though the visible evidence of unseen legs–the circumference of the garters’ bands (slightly smaller than that of the thighs), the curves of the calves and the knees–is convincing, the resulting impression is of a half-vacated garment, of a lingering shape that did not share its owner’s ultimatum.  (Colin Raff, The Premises of Otto Gast, p. 90f)

* * *

A description of a place at a table set for dinner…Some surfaces contain multiple images: The forearm seen on the carving-knife’s handle extends in a direction nearly perpendicular to that on its blade…These orphaned limb-fragments may possibly combine to present both arms in their entirety; however, what is immediately apparent is a constellation of lost gesture. Joined across her aggregate movement, the captured poses might form a hieroglyph–or a feminine name. (Colin Raff, The Premises of Otto Gast, p. 68f)

* * *

Here Nicoletta beckons Edmund to join her. Though free of moisture, the mysterious bedding’s texture was that of a human tongue. Edmund found it impossible not to stroke. Nicoletta’s smiling mouth fell open, inviting Edmund to compare the fabric to her own tongue. Her flimsy satin skirt, the violet point on her lips and eyes, and her short black hair were all darker siblings of the room’s lush fixtures, making her image his vision’s despotic vortex. And now she was kicking off her shoes and writhing out of her garments like an ivory serpent come alive. But casting the skins aside only strengthened the spell. Her scrawny, splendid torso was a white patch of sky seen through a hole in a charred postcard. And when she turned around, he saw that her nipples bore that same dark violet as her face. She snatched up her stole and snapped it at him, stinging his cheek. He felt fate course through his veins and engorge him. Now unseen, the cavern’s rough dome seemed to expand into a sickly golden heaven as blood left his head and his body fell onto hers. (Colin Raff, The Premises of Otto Gast, p. 31)

* * *

It was planned that I should make the first attempt, while Emery remained with the motion-picture camera just below the rock that we most feared, with the agreement that he was to get a picture of the upset if one occurred, then run to the lower end of the rapid with a rope and a life-preserver. After adjusting life-preservers I returned to my boat and was soon on the smooth water above the rapid, holding my boat to prevent her from being swept over the rock in the centre, jockeying for the proper position before I would allow her to be carried into the current. Once in, it seemed but an instant until I was past the first rock, and almost on top of the second. I was pulling with every once of strength, and was almost clear of the rock when the stern touched it gently. I had no idea the boat would overturn, but thought she would swing around the rock, heading bow first into the stream, as had been done before on several occasions. Instead of this she was thrown on her side with the bottom of the boat held against the rock while I found myself thrown out of the boat, but hanging to the gunwale. Then the boat swung around and instantly turned upright while I scrambled back into the cockpit. Looking over my shoulder, when I had things well in hand again, I saw my brother was still at the camera, white as a sheet, but turning at the crank as if our entire safety depended on it. After I landed the water-filled boat, however, he confessed to me that he had no idea whether he had caught the upset or not, as he ma have resumed the work when he saw that I was safe. (Ellsworth L. Kolb, Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico, p. 184f)

* * *

Kanetoki had been superb in the role of dancer in past years, but this year he seemed very uncertain of his movements. (The Diary of Lady Murasaki, p. 44)

* * *

Lifting belly grandly. (Gertrude Stein, Lifting Belly, p. 37)

* * *

Briefly, the peculiarities of Ishi’s shooting were, first, that he preferred to shoot from a crouching position. This was a matter of tribal custom and tied to the particular hunting practice of the Yana; a hunter, hidden and crouching behind scant cover, could scarcely hope to make a kill after luring game to himself if he then had to stand up before he could shoot. The crouch was not a cramped or disadvantageous position for shooting a bow no larger than Ishi’s when held as he held it–diagonally across the front of the body, the face of the bow higher than the other limb and to the left. We might say that Ishi shot from the hip because of the bow position. Actually the string was drawn at cheek level. Besides the characteristic crouch and hold, another unusual feature of Ishi’s shooting was that at the instant of the arrow’s release, the fingers relaxed, allowing the bow to revolve in his hand, until it turned over completely. To achieve this turn requires a steady hold so that the bow does not escape the hand, and a light touch, so that the revolution of the bow is not impeded. The rhythm of motion involved is comparable to the smooth and full follow-through of stroke after a tennis ball has been hit, or the completion of the arc described by a golf club and the motion of the pivot foot in a controlled but fully finished stroke. (Theodora Kroeber, Ishi, p. 196 f)

* * *

Place the subject in a face down, prone position. Bend his elbows and place his hands one upon the other. Turn his face to one side, placing his cheek upon his hands. Kneel at the head of the subject on either your right or left knee. Place youf knee close to his arm and just at the side of his head. Place your opposite foot near his elbow. If it is more comfortable, kneel on both knees, one on either side of the subject’s head. Place your hands upon the flat of his back in such a way that the heels of your hands lie just below a line running between his armpits. With the tips of the thumbs just touching, spread the fingers downward and outward. Rock forward until your arms are approximately vertical and allow the weight of the upper part of your body to exert slow, steady, even pressure downward upon your hands. This forces air out of the lungs. Your elbows should be kept straight and the pressure exerted almost directly downward on the back. Release the pressure, avoiding a final thrust, and commence to rock slowly backward. Place your hands upon the subject’s arms just above his elbows, and draw his arms upward and toward you. Apply just enough lift to feel resistance and tension at the subject’s shoulders. Do not bend your elbows, and as you rock backward the subject’s arms will be drawn toward you. Then drop the arms to the ground. The arm lift expands the chest by pulling on the chest muscles, arching the back, and relieving the weight on the chest. (Handbook for Boys, p. 354 f)

* * *

All the warmth of my body had suddenly descended to my shoes…When the door was closed we all three stood looking at each other. Madame-la-Reine cracked his fingers as he rubbed them together swiftly and his elbows flew out on each side of him like the stumps of wings. Decidement shook his head from time to time, making his whiskers flap…With his foot he drew forward a carpet on which I sat down. Madame-la-Reine sat cross-legged beside me. Decidement moved back into the shadow…Madame-la-Reine took the flute and I noticed that now his fingers made no sound. He bent his head along the wooden shaft, his hands, perched on the flute like birds. He looked at me. (Jean Giono, Blue Boy, p. 56f)

* * *

I have never experienced a joy more pure, more musical, more complete, more surely born of equilibrium than the joy of watching Sister Clementine walk. It began like the rising of a curving wind. The boards of the platform uttered a magnetic little cry. She was walking. She work felt sandals, the soles of her feet made gentle padding sound. Along the column rose an undulation that recalled waves, the neck of a swan, a moan. It was so ample and so firm, it came so directly from the depths of the earth that if the undulation had mounted to Sister Clementine’s neck it would have broken it like an iris stem. But she received it on the fine springs of her hips, she transformed it into the rolling of an outbound ship, and the whole upper part of her body, breast, shoulders, neck, head, an cornet, shuddered as when a sail swells to a puff of wind. (Jean Giono, Blue Boy, p. 22)

* * *

Sister Dorothee would stretch out on the grass. She became a black world humped with mountains and hills, hollowed with dry and silent valleys, waterless, treeless, quite deserted, and as if despised. All that was alive was the happy region of her face where her mouth was eating chocolate, where her lips finally made a moist sound, where beneath a slanting ray of sunshine her cheek grew velvety with a blond down that seemed, in my intoxication from the fragrance, to undulate and wave like a vast sea of ripened grass. (Jean Giono, Blue Boy, p. 19f)

* * *

While I was sleeping somebody came in and sat by my bed…”Dear Mother, what is he matter? Are you ill?” … I am shaking and shivering, and a terrible chill is coming over me.” “Would you like me to get up and give you my bed?” “No, there is no need for you to get up; just turn back the cover a little so I can get near you, warm myself and be healed.”… “I will move over to one side and you can put yourself in the warm place.” I moved over to the side, lifted the coverlet and she came into my place. Oh, how upset she was…She whispered: “Suzanne, my dear, come a bit nearer.” She held out her arms, but I had my back to her; she took me gently and pulled me towards her, passed her right arm under by body and the other above and said: “I am frozen, and so cold that I am afraid to touch you for fear of hurting you. “Dear Mother, you need not be afraid of that.” Immediately she put one hand on my breast and the other round my waist, her feet were under mine, and I pressed them so as to warm them, and she said: “Oh my dear, see how my feet have warmed up at once because there is nothing between them and yours.” “But,” I said, “what is there to prevent you from warming yourself everywhere in the same way?” “Nothing, if you are willing.” I had turned round, and she had opened her nightdress, and I was on the point of doing the same when suddenly there were two violent blows on the door. I was terrified and leaped straight out on one side of the bed and the Superior on the other. (Denis Diderot, The Nun, p. 148ff.)

* * *

“What wicked creatures! Horrible creatures! Only in convents can humanity sink so low…How comes it that these fragile limbs sere not broken…Fancy crushing those arms with ropes!” And she took my arms and kissed them. “Drowning those eyes in tears!” And she kissed them. “Drawing groans and wailing from that mouth!: She kissed that too…Fancy daring to put a rope round that neck and tearing those shoulder with sharp points!” She pushed aside my collar and coif, opened the top of my dress and my hair fell loose over my bare shoulders; my breast was half uncovered and her kisses spread over my neck, bare shoulders and half-naked breast. The trembling that began to come over her, the confusion of her speech, the uncontrolled movements of her eyes and hands, her knee pressing between mine, the ardour of her embraces and the tightness of her arms as she held me, all showed me that her malady was about to come over her again. I don’t now what was going on inside me, but I was seized with panic, and my own trembling and faintness justified the suspicion I had had that her trouble was contagious. (Denis Diderot, The Nun, p. 142.)

* * *

I found myself on the matting that served as a bed, with my arms tied behind my back, sitting up, with a big iron crucifix on my lap…By now the Superior and her myrmidons had returned, and they found I had more command of myself than they expected or would have liked. They stood me up, put my veil down over my face, two seized me under the arms, the third pushed me from behind and the Superior gave me marching orders. I moved without knowing where I was going, but thinking it was to execution…I reached the chapel. The Vicar-General had celebrated Mass. The whole community was assembled. I was almost forgetting to tell you that, when I was in the doorway, these three nuns who were escorting me jostled and pushed me about violently, and appeared to be struggling with me, some dragging me by the arms while others were pulling me back from behind, as though I were resisting or reluctant to enter the chapel, which was not the case at all. I was led towards the altar steps: I could hardly hold myself up but was dragged on my knees as though I had refused to take up that position, and they held on to me as though I was intending to run away. (Denis Diderot, The Nun, P. 92f.)

* * *

Already F. Jasmine had started for the door, for she could no longer stand the silence. But as she passed the soldier, he grasped her skirt and, limpened by fright, she was pulled down beside him on the bed. The ne minute happened, but it was too crazy to be realized. She felt his arms around her and smelled his sweaty shirt. He was not rough, but it was crazier than if he had been rough—and in a second she was paralyzed by horror. She could not push away, and she bit down with all her might upon what must hae been the crazy soldier’s tongue—so that he screamed out and she was free. Then he was coming toward her with an amzed pained face, ad her hand reached the glass pitcher nad brought it down upon his head. He swayed a second, then slowly his legs began to crumple, and slowly he sank sprawling to the floor. The sound was hollow like the hammer on a cocnut, and with it the silence was broken at last. He lay there still, with the amazed expression on his freckled face that was now pale, and a froth of blood showed on his mouth…She ran like a chased person…. (Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding, p. 130.)

* * *

“It makes me shiver, too, to think about how many dead people I already know. Seven in all,” she said. “And now Uncle Charles.” F. Jasmine put her fingers in her ears and closed her eyes, but it was not death. She could feel the heat of the stove and smell the dinner. She could feel a rumble in her stomach and the beating of her heart. And the dead feel nothing, hear nothing, see nothing: only black. “It would be terrible to be dead,” she said, and in the wedding dress she began to walk around the room. There was a rubber ball on the shelf, and she threw it against the hall door and caught it on the rebound. (Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding, p. 89.)

* * *

F. Jasmine ate with her elbows on the table and her heels hooked on the rungs of the chair…F. Jasmine put down her fork and sat with her head turned to one side…F. Jasmine pulled the bangs of her hair down over her forehead and slid her feet across the rung of the chair. (Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding, p. 76f.)

* * *

Biff leaned against the wall…The minutes lingered. Wearily he let his head sag forward. (Carson McCullers, The Heart is Lonely Hunter, p. 26.)

* * *

It was late when he left the vacant lot. The hard, blue sky had blanched and in the east there was a white moon. Dusk softened the outline of the house along the street. Jake did not return immediately through Weavers Lane, but wandered in the neighborhoods near-by. Certain smells, certain voices heard from a distance, made him stop short now and then by the side of the dusty street. He walked erratically, jerking from one direction to another for no purpose. His head felt very light, as though it were made of thin glass. A chemical change was taking place in him. The beers and whisky he had stored so continuously in his system set in a reaction. He was sideswiped by drunkenness. The streets which has seemed so dead before were quick with life. There was a ragged strip of grass bordering the street, and as Jack walked along the ground seemed to rise nearer to his face. He sat down on the border of the grass and leaned against a telephone pole. He settled himself comfortably, crossing his legs Turkish fashion and smoothing down the ends of his mustache. Words came to him and dreamily he spoke them aloud to himself. (Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, p. 64.)

* * *

Laugh heartily, charming and innocent youth! The age of smiling will soon be upon you. That will be followed in turn by the years of the expertly contrived smile: an air of peace and serenity will often hide the truly agitated state of your soul. And in your old age, when the book of passion is over, it will be too late even to smile. Your face will have lost all of that soft elasticity that allowed your expressions to change with so much ease. The Scissor of Time will have deepened those furrows drawn by the passion of your life: they will have become wrinkles that will never be erased. So what purpose could an awkward smile possibly have? It would only suggest ridiculous claims. An air of thoughtfulness and kindness will be all you really need. That is the natural order of things in the revolution that takes place on the face of a woman. (Wynne, Giustiniana, Pièces morales et sentimentales, 1785, pp. 112-113, quoted in A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant, p. 275.)

* * *

His hands were a torment to him. They would not rest. They twitched in his sleep, and sometimes he awoke to find them shaping the words in his dreams before his face. He did not like to look at his hands or to think about them. They were slender and brown and very strong. In the years before he had always tended them with care. In the winter he used oil to prevent chapping, and he kept the cuticles pushed down and his nails always filed to the shape of his finger-tips. He had loved to wash and tend his hands. But now he only scrubbed them roughly with a brush two times a day and stuffed them back into his pockets.

When he walked up and down the floor of his room he would crack the joints of his fingers and jerk at them until they ached. Or he would strike the palm of one hand with the fist of the other. And sometimes when he was alone and his thoughts were with his friend his hands would begin to shape the words before he knew about it. Then when he realized he was like a man caught talking aloud to himself, it was almost as though he had done some moral wrong. The shame and the sorrow mixed together and he doubled his hands and put them behind him. But they would not let him rest. (Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, P 206.)

* * *

It was two o’clock in the morning before he was home again. The big, crowded house was in darkness, but he felt his way carefully up three flights of stairs and did not stumble. He took form his pockets the cards he carried about with him, his watch, and his fountain pen. Then he folded his clothes neatly over the back of his chair. His gray-flannel pajamas were warm and soft. Almost as soon as he pulled the blankets to his chin he was asleep.

Out of the blackness of sleep a dream formed. There were dull yellow lanterns lighting up a dark flight of stone steps. Antonapoulos kneeled at the top of these steps. He was naked and he fumbled with something that he held above his head and gazed at it as though in prayer. He himself knelt halfway down the steps. He was naked and cold and he could not take his eyes from Antonapoulos and the thing he held above him. Behind him on the ground he felt the one with the mustache and the girl and the black man and the last one. They knelt naked and he felt their eyes on him. And behind them there were uncounted crowds of kneeling people in the darkness. His own hands were huge windmills and he stared fascinated at the unknown thing that Antonapoulos held. The yellow lanterns swayed to and fro in the darkness and all else was motionless. Then suddenly there was a ferment. In the upheaval the steps collapsed and he felt himself falling downward. He awoke with a jerk. The early light whitened the window. He felt afraid. (Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, P217.)

* * *

The drug made me feel as if I had a Jacuzzi in my blood stream. (Horacio Castellanos Moya, Senselessness.)

* * *

Fatima barely even turned her head, the palms of her hands joined under her cheek like a pillow. (Horacio Castellanos Moya, Senselessness, p. 89.)

* * *

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb. Nor is it palm and knuckles, not ligaments or the fat’s yellow pillow, not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins. A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines with their infinite dramas, nor what it has written, not on the page, not on the ecstatic body. Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping—not sponge of rising yeast-bread, not rotor pin’s smoothness, not ink. The maple’s green hands do not cup the proliferant rain. What empties itself falls into the place that is open. A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question. Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs. (Jane Hirshfield, A Hand.)

* * *

I saw pride bursting from his chest (Emilio Schneeman at George Schneeman’s memorial)

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1
I sing the body electric, The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.  Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves? And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead? And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

1I sing the body electric, The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.  Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves? And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead? And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

2

The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself      balks account,  That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.  The expression of the face balks account, But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face, It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of      his hips and wrists, It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist      and knees, dress does not hide him, The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth, To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more, You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.  The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the      folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the      contour of their shape downwards, The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through      the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls      silently to and from the heave of the water, The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the      horse-man in his saddle, Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances, The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open      dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting, The female soothing a child, the farmer’s daughter in the garden or      cow-yard, The young fellow hosing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six      horses through the crowd, The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty,      good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sundown      after work, The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance, The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes; The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine      muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps, The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes      suddenly again, and the listening on the alert, The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv’d      neck and the counting; Such-like I love–I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s      breast with the little child, Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with      the firemen, and pause, listen, count.

3

I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons, And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.  This man was a wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person, The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and      beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness      and breadth of his manners, These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also, He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were      massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome, They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him, They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal      love, He drank water only, the blood show’d like scarlet through the      clear-brown skin of his face, He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail’d his boat himself, he      had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had      fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him, When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish,      you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of      the gang, You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit      by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.

4

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough, To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough, To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough, To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round      his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?  I do not ask any more delight, I      swim in it as in a sea.  There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them,      and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well, All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

5

This is the female form, A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot, It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,  I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor,      all falls aside but myself and it,  Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what      was expected of heaven or fear’d of hell, are now consumed, Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response      likewise ungovernable, Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all      diffused, mine too diffused, Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling      and deliciously aching, Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of      love, white-blow and delirious nice, Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the      prostrate dawn, Undulating into the willing and yielding day, Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.  This the nucleus–after the child is born of woman, man is born      of woman, This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the      outlet again.  Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the      exit of the rest, You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.  The female contains all qualities and tempers them, She is in her place and moves with perfect balance, She is all things duly veil’d, she is both passive and active, She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as      daughters.  As I see my soul reflected in Nature, As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness,      sanity, beauty, See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.

6

The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place, He too is all qualities, he is action and power, The flush of the known universe is in him, Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well, The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is      utmost become him well, pride is for him, The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul, Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to      the test of himself, Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes      soundings at last only here, (Where else does he strike soundings except here?)  The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred, No matter who it is, it is sacred–is it the meanest one in the      laborers’ gang? Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf? Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as      much as you, Each has his or her place in the procession.  (All is a procession, The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)  Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant? Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has      no right to a sight? Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and      the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts, For you only, and not for him and her?

7

A man’s body at auction, (For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,) I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.  Gentlemen look on this wonder, Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it, For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant, For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll’d.  In this head the all-baffling brain, In it and below it the makings of heroes.  Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve, They shall be stript that you may see them. Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition, Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized      arms and legs, And wonders within there yet.  Within there runs blood, The same old blood! the same red-running blood! There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings,      aspirations, (Do you think they are not there because they are not express’d in      parlors and lecture-rooms?)  This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers      in their turns, In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.  How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring      through the centuries? (Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace      back through the centuries?)

8

A woman’s body at auction, She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers, She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.  Have you ever loved the body of a woman? Have you ever loved the body of a man? Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and      times all over the earth?  If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred, And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted, And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more beautiful      than the most beautiful face. Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool      that corrupted her own live body? For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves.

9

O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women,      nor the likes of the parts of you, I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the      soul, (and that they are the soul,) I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and      that they are my poems, Man’s, woman’s, child, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s,      father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems, Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears, Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or      sleeping of the lids, Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the      jaw-hinges, Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition, Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue, Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the     ample side-round of the chest, Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones, Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger,      finger-joints, finger-nails, Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side, Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone, Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root, Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above, Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg, Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel; All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body      or of any one’s body, male or female, The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean, The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame, Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity, Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman, The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping,      love-looks, love-perturbations and risings, The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud, Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming, Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and      tightening, The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes, The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair, The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked      meat of the body, The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out, The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward      toward the knees, The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the      marrow in the bones, The exquisite realization of health; O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of      the soul, O I say now these are the soul! (Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.)

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