Charles River

Charles River
Upper Limit Cloud/Lower Limit Sail


"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Julia Bloch to take part in the viral meme called "The Next Big Thing." This isn't really next, since the book's already out, and it's hardly big -- but hey, it is a thing, and that's not nothing.

What is the working title of the book?
Gnostic Frequencies. Though for most of the time of its composition it was called "Doctrines of the Subtle Body," after a weird and wonderful little book by GRS Mead. Mead was Madame Blavatsky’s secretary in the Theosophical Society though he was no slouch or flake, but a serious scholar of Greek who translated many of the key Hermetic texts of antiquity. It was Mead who invited Pound to give his talk on “Psychology and Troubadours” to the Society in 1915, which is where Pound first articulates his theory of the phantastikon, a concept which provides much of the underpinning for Gnostic Frequencies.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The pleroma, naturally. But more specifically from a perverse desire to create my own religion. To inquire into what religion in a post-secular, post-metaphysical age could still mean or better still, say. Something that could answer to a need for a poetic liturgy, though I often think of the poems as emerging from and addressing the ruins of liturgy. Gnostic frequencies speak to the poem’s way of knowing, of tuning in to the weak transmissions still emanating from theology’s ghost.

What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry, liturgy, hermeticism, heresy, theurgy, ecstasy – in that order, more or less.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a silly but delicious question, because as Frank O’Hara once quipped, few poets are better than the movies – Hart Crane being one of them. Crane incidentally is one of the hidden tutelary deities of the book. The first part of Gnostic Frequencies follows an imaginary scholar of the Alexandrian library named Ariel and because she played Hypatia in a recent film I have a hard time seeing anyone else in the role but Rachel Weisz, though I think either Jean Arthur or Natascha McElhone would be equally dreamy, I mean, great. Ariel’s correspondent and lover (it’s not really clear if they are lovers but I think they are) is the 3rd Century Plotinian philosopher Iamblichus, who really ought to be played by Daniel Day-Lewis. Or Steve Buscemi. I have a hard time keeping those two apart. Part 2 features a who’s who of poets from Yeats to HD to Duncan so they must all be played by themselves. Or Robert Downey Jr. Part 3 would either feature the seraphic ghosts of logos, chanting of what’s passed, passing, and to come, or late Robert Mitchum. If he's unavailable then John Garfield from the final scenes of "Force of Evil."

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
As I write in the Afterword: “Gnostic Frequencies is a poetic essay that treats semiology as though it were a species of shamanism and shamanism as a branch of semiotics.”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first garbled transmissions occurred in the spring of 2004 and the final revisions made in 2012.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A deep longing for a wild extravagance of the word. That, and the usual suspects: high modernism, hermeticism, Robert Duncan, HD, Erza Pound.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers who crave clarity will go a-begging, but lovers of the mystery of logos will find welcome.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Spuyten Duyvil is my publisher.

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:
Norman Finkelstein (maybe), Joseph Donahue (who knows with that guy?) and Paul Eluard as he is channeled by Anna Karina in Alphaville.

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