Robin Blaser’s “The Medium”

In his introduction to Robin Blaser’s poetry, Gary Geddes, says, “ Although the dominant stance here is that of one poet talking to another — through his lyrical, gossipy or scholarly ‘notations’ and asides, his ‘serial’ jottings — rather than to some mythical common reader, there is plenty to learn, enjoy and admire for the eavesdropper in Blaser’s salon.?

It’s hard for a blogger devoted to literary and art works to resist that kind of approach to poetry, particularly when you come across a gritty poem like this

Artists are the deodorant pucks in the urinals of life.
(men’s room, Leo’s Fish House, Gastown)

in the middle of his poetry selection.

Still, my favorite poem was


it is essentially reluctance
the language
a darkness, a friendship, trying to the real
but it is unreal

the clarity desired, a wish for true sight,
all tangling

‘you’ tried me, the everyday which
caught me, turning the house
in the wind, a lovecraft the political
was not my business I could not look

without seeing the decay, the shit poured
on most things, by indifference, the personal

power which is simply that, demanding a friend
take dullness out of the world (he doesn’t know
his lousy emptiness) I slept
in a fire on my book bag, one dried wing

of a white moth the story is of a man
who lost his way in the holy wood

because the way had never been taken without
at least two friends, one on each side,

and I believe my dream said one of the others
always led now left to acknowledge,

he can’t breathe, the darkness bled
the white wing, one of the body

of the moth that moved him, of the other
wing, the language is bereft.

So much of what is said here seems to apply directly to blogging, at least the kind of literate blogging I attempt, beginning with the idea that bloggers are mostly virtual, not real, friends ( “a friendship, trying to the real/ but it is unreal?) Any friendship based strictly on written communication seems doomed to failure unless it reinforced by actual meetings, perhaps even extended meetings. Friendship is much more than “ideas,? and language is the domain of “ideas.?

Despite reoccurring attempts at political commentary, I agree that “the political/ was not my business,? perhaps precisely because it’s impossible to examine it seriously “without seeing the decay, the shit poured/ on most things,? “the personal/ power which is simply that?

It’s also hard to blog very long without the feeling that “language is bereft.? I had originally included a short (but still TOO LONG) commentary on yesterday’s entry on how little of what I actually see or photograph ever gets included on my web site, but ended up eliminating it after I came to the conclusion that everyone must already know that, know that no matter how hard I try the person presented here isn’t really me, anymore than the person you see in the mirror is really you.

5 thoughts on “Robin Blaser’s “The Medium””

  1. I like this poem’s complexity, and your blogging analogy fits well. The final two phrases remind me of ‘of that which we cannot speak we must remain silent’ – or words to that effect – by, I think, Wittgenstein.

  2. I enjoy your posts so much, Mr. Webster. Even though we haven’t seen or talked to each other in 7 years, I read your blogs every day and still hear your voice from conversations in the classroom. I wish you all the best these holidays.

  3. Glad to hear you’re still around, Jeb.

    I heard the other day that others from Prairie have been reading here occasionally, but it’s always nice to have someone stop to say hello.

    Maybe we should try to see other some time if you’re ever in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

    Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to you, too.

  4. I find the juxtaposition of your last line, “anymore than the person you see in the mirror is really you,” with your discussion of “real” friendship interesting. It would seem to imply that even real friendship is unreal, since the person we present to the world is not the real person we are. While that definitely rings true for me, I wonder how true it is to those who “know” themselves. But then, perhaps no one ever really knows themselves and that’s the point. Even the person in the mirror isn’t real because it never can be. The person we really are isn’t capable of being known — not be others nor by ourselves.

  5. I think you’ve gone deeper than I had in mind when I wrote the line, Jason. Though I’ve been fascinated with the mirror metaphor since receiving Alice Through the Looking Glass as a child, I think our physical image is but a small part of who we are, though some people seem obsessed with that part of themselves.

    I would agree, though, that most of us don’t know our true self, either, which would explain why so many people are unhappy no matter how successful they appear to others.

    What part this lack of insight plays in our relationships with others is unclear in my mind. Sometimes I think our best friends might actually know us better than we know ourselves. I do know that my best friends have always been people who I could talk to when I was confused or unsure of myself and could add some perspective to the situation, even if I didn’t always agree with them at first.

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