In memory of Guy Davenport (1927-2005)

Poetry as graph

In memory of Guy Davenport (1927-2005) – who died even as I was first reading his essays and feeling kinship with his many-stranded mind:

… he had in his mind a vast library of books none of us will have the time or inclination to read. Who knows what company he kept in his imagination’s many rooms, or what corridors he walked on his way to assignations with eccentric facts and lonesome quotations. He wrote hundreds of letters like countless bees leaving the hive on urgent summer business. Maybe this is why his lungs gave out: too many pollinating bees going in too many directions, a dancing too complex for the eyes, but for the mind, his mind, that’s another thing. The etymology of each dancing buzz was enough to keep a civilisation occupied til the time comes for ruins. There is no easy compass of the present but the past has a geography and the footloose can wander and not count the days. Somehow this is how I see him, not counting the days, but footloose in a past that was always present to his mind, without punctuation or rhyme, yet crisscrossed with lucidity and unexpected correspondences. Out of these small traceries of connection, out of echoes and shadows, out of ruins ribbed with tumbledown ramparts, he used stones to build windows without walls…

What you’ll find here.

Here you’ll find all kinds of fragments, jottings and images: brief notes; extracts from longer texts; experimental writings; small drawings; photographs and other images; etc. Some of these are taken from work-in-progress, some relate to a book I’ve just written (Picturing Mind: Paradox, Indeterminacy & Consciousness in Art & Poetry, published by Rodopi, 2006) and some are just passing thoughts.

As an artist, writer and teacher I think of the various strands of my work as paragraphs or episodes in an unwritten book. The book’s author is not necessarily myself. Some of the time I seem to be enacting a part, an idea about how art could be made or thought about. In an odd way I agree with TS Eliot’s view that the purpose of art is to transcend personality, while also believing that art is a way of constructing personality or making, possibly many, identities. Each artefact and action is part of the unfolding of one long work – an assembling of fragments, episodes and insights (a florilegium). Art constitutes a set of practices of enquiry, celebration and sharing, that enable a meeting of minds and a modest exploration of who we are, how we are and where we are.