Sad Inanna

I’ve been posting scattershot this and that from Dumuzi and am feeling moved now to be a bit more steady and thoroughgoing at it. So I think I’ll post, as they come into their final framing, the picture poems I’ve made to tell the descent to hell and rescue and apotheosis of Inanna.

She’s the one who drew me into this biz in the first place many years ago. Before my true north turned out to be her rather less empowered but dearer to me now shepherd lover. She for me has been every woman, starting with the first of me, I have wanted to save or hold or leave or be safe with or from. “Devastatrix of the Lands.” O she’s a terror. And too she’s those eyes in the tent with Pound at Pisa not scornful. Kuanyin, what gentles.

So that got heavy. Also this is a comic book built out of junk mail. Anyway I’m thinking here at blog to intersperse the images with the source texts – in a way I won’t be able to in Dumuzi itself. If anyone’s ever fool enough to publish the damn fool thing.


The sequence begins with a word poem I hope gets the hapless awe one feels in the face of powers orders of magnitude huger than anything one could imagine mustering.

Reft

Tears
off a face
in bad

weather
at an altar
torn in

weather of
another
order.

Holy
sweet being
shining

gone
and the mountain
ashes in

flower.

The title came from Pound’s “What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee.”

Next, a picture poem.

6. The lovers - fig

Kinda porny, I know, sorry. Goes with the territory (fertility myth). Intertitle, to tuck in at lower right, looks like this.

6. The lovers - title

The ground for it, the coitus and the tristesse, looks like this in the source where I first found them (The Ancient Near East: A New Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Vol. II, ed. James B. Pritchard).

The “honey-man,” the “honey-man” sweetens me ever,
My lord, the “honey-man” of the gods, my favored of the womb,
Whose hand is honey, whose foot is honey, sweetens me ever.
Whose limbs are honey sweet, sweetens me ever.

My sweetener of the . . . navel, [my favored of the womb],
My . . . of the fair thighs, he is lettuce [planted by the water].
It is a balbale of Inanna.

Somewhat more felicitous, and just for that more blushful, is Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer’s translation in Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth:

He shaped my loins with his fair hands,
The shepherd Dumuzi filled my lap with cream and milk,
He stroked my pubic hair,
He watered my womb.
He laid his hands on my holy vulva,
He smoothed my black boat with cream,
He quickened my narrow boat with milk,
He caressed me on the bed.

I prefer the anatomically more precise term “happy place.” Anyway, as all things must, this comes to dust. Says Inanna:

Now, my sweet love is sated.
Now he says:
“Set me free, my sister, set me free.
You will be a little daughter to my father.
Come, my beloved sister, I would go to the palace.
Set me free . . .”

I gave the restless to her cuz she’s the one to go awandering. That’s up soon. Thanks for scanning.

Junk mail bricolage II

On the far side of an intense burst of poem making. For a few weeks there I could do no wrong. Now though most of what I do is a strained imitation of what came full-throatedly before. If I were one of my students I’d tell me not to worry – time to lie fallow a bit is all. Since I’m me though I say time for some bloggery.


Here’s a fancy word I learned recently. Pareidolia. The tendency to see Christ in burnt toast, the Virgin Mary in soot stains on a wall, a man or a rabbit in the seas (the “seas”) of the moon.

We’re all pareidoliasts. My proof:

O       O

______

If you don’t see a face there you can stop reading – we have nothing in common.

From the Greek, para, beside, near, from, against, contrary to, + eidolon, appearance, image, ultimately from eidos, form, shape – the word Plato uses for his damnable forms. To make art out of such para-forms, and that’s where I’m headed, is give the philosopher an itch he shan’t ever manage to scratch.


Pareidolia coheres most around the human face – we’re made to make it out, and early, so early. Infant to mother, eyes to eyes, our survival in spirit depends on it, as much as our survival as bodies depends on the sustenance of touch those eyes signify.

But it seems to me there are other forms we are prone to see with hardly any prompting – trees, say.

Terror of tall trees

Fig. 1 Terror of the Tall Trees

This image is built out of junk mail bar codes (and the visual noise left behind by the strips of paper the codes are on when xeroxed). It’s the first one to show up in Dumuzi and is meant to sit right on the edge between “burnt toast” and “the ghost of Christ in burnt toast.”

The allusion is to Dumuzi’s dream, which he recounts to his sister, and the signs aren’t good.

Out of Sumer

A bit more about the handwriting sometime later. Working on a pretty/ugly hand that looks a bit like hurried wedged impressions in clay and a bit like clumsy medieval calligraphy and a bit like where my head was at when I make the strokes up to down and left to right.

K so fire

And run he does. Not that it gets he anywhere but deeper to wit

Terror of tall trees – detail

Fig. 2 Terror of the Tall Trees (detail)

And that’s what I got of an evening. Tell me what you think if you have thoughts. All this is new to and for and from and of me. C.

Junk mail bricolage (I)

A few weeks ago I took Dumuzi – a manuscript I had thought pretty much done – back into the shop for an overhaul. Started incorporating handwritten bits, pages of journal writing, fragments of the myth stroked out on scraps torn from junk mail envelopes, and’ve been pretty pumped about where it seems to be headed.

And my feelings in the wake of Elise’s passing, which have surprised me in their intensity, though why should they really, I loved her as a true friend, far from derailing the work seem to have thrown themselves into it for fuel. (I showed her one of them, not posted here today, and true to generous form, she flared, though it was far outside her taste, gladness on my behalf.)

Here’s one. I should say, this is the part of the book that tells the story of Dumuzi’s consort’s, Inanna’s, journey to the underworld, i.e., death and metamorphosis. As she readies for her journey (as if anyone chose such a journey) she gathers her me, her powers, which are all the powers of culture, our being as civilized beings.

her-me-1-3.jpg

And the other.

her-me-2-3.jpg

You’ll see some anger in it. Okay so yeah I’m pissed. Some of it’s, I’m pissed at the world, it took my friend. Even, let’s say it, pissed at my friend, she got took. And, some of it’s anger at, well, junk mail, and a life among and as commodity, even as it’s also an effort to subvert commodification. Sounding like a lit prof now shutting up.


What am I doing here. I don’t know. Something about an elegy in motion. If blog (I first typed glob) as form lets me do something my private journal nor a public statement won’t, too, it’s to do with catching the gist of the feel of the thought on the fly.

Exercise: Compost mural

From a 20 foot mural my class made today in 50 minutes (give or take). The prompt: using only the materials you have on hand, or can forage from the surrounding environment without breaking the law or hurting anyone’s feelings, express your understanding of “the art of compost” (course title). In other words, a crash course in targeted bricolage.