26 February 2007

One point of time

Nearing the end of Nabokov's Speak, Memory I come across his beginnings in poetry as a teenager (remembering my own overly-earnest false starts) and listen his thoughts on the matter:
But then, in a sense, all poetry is positional: to try to express one's position in regard to the universe embraced by consciousness, is an immemorial urge. The arms of consciousness reach out and grope, and the longer they are the better. Tentacles, not wings, are Apollo's natural members. Vivian Bloodmark, a philosophical friend of mine, in later years, used to say that while the scientist sees everything that happens in one point of space, the poet feels everything that happens in one point of time. Lost in thought, he taps his knee with his wandlike pencil, and at the same instant a car (New York license plate) passes along the road, a child bangs the screen door of a neighboring porch, and old man yawns in a misty Turkestan orchard, a granule of cinder-gray sand is rolled by the wind on Venus, a Docteur Jacques Hirsch in Grenoble puts on his reading glasses, and trillions of other such trifles occur--all forming an instantaneous and transparent organism of events, of which the poet (sitting in a lawn chair, at Ithaca, N.Y.) is the nucleus.

That summer I was still far too young to evolve any wealth of "cosmic synchronization" (to quote my philosopher again). But I did discover, at least, that a person hoping to become a poet must have the capacity of thinking of several things at a time.

2 comments:

KGT said...

Interesting post...and though I work in Ithaca, I tend to write my poetry in Seneca Falls, home of Its a Wonderful Life and other such schlock... :)

Love your blog.

Mind if I mirror this post on my blog?

amcorrea said...

Thank you! Yes, feel free to mirror it.

Incidentally, you should try cracking open a copy of Pale Fire sometime. Poetry as headtrip!