Sunday, January 4, 2015

new year resolve, not resolution

to shift the balance, from print more than write to write more than print - to enrol in Ancient Greek I at Melbourne University, after years of procrastination - to pull out the Greek typewriter I bought a few months ago from an Italian who calls himself Tom the Typewriter Man, whose shop is in, wait for it, Elgin Street - and to record a bit more of what I'm reading, e.g. Guy Davenport, who had a flair for placing perhaps unrelated but somehow apt bits of apparently stray information into his narratives, like this, to start his essay on Wittgenstein - 

      Like the gentle Anton Bruckner, who counted leaves on trees to while away a Sunday  afternoon, Ludwig Wittgenstein in odd moments calculated the height of trees by pacing off from the trunk etc -

Bruckner is not named in the rest of the essay, but the memory of his leaf-counting remains - and where does 'gentle' come from, Davenport would have had his reason(s) - and in The House that Jack Built (traversing Ruskin, Joyce, Pound & labyrinthine resonance & reference) - is an aside that touches this ex-pat New Zealander - 

      The English artist Michael Ayrton, disciple of Wyndham Lewis and a sculptor who specialized in Minotaurs and who wrote a novel about Daedalus, was commissioned a few years ago by the mountain-climber and bee-keeper Sir Edmund Hillary to see if he could discover how Daedalus made a honeycomb of gold. The lost-wax process, perhaps its very invention, was obviously involved. Michael Ayrton proceeded to make a golden honeycomb. Moreover, when Sir Edmund put it in his garden in New Zealand as a gleaming piece of sculpture, bees came, accepted it as a hive, and filled it with honey and their young.  - The Geography of the Imagination, Pantheon Books, NY & SF, no date but after 1981, p.19

I was 13 years old when the news came thru of Hillary's climbing (they called it a 'conquest' but that seems just too hubric a notion to repeat) of the previously unscalable Mt Everest - later in that year Queen Elizabeth was touring the country and on christmas eve the worst railway disaster in the nation's history took place at Tangiwai (a Maori word, meaning something like 'river of tears') when 151 people died, including a friend of mine & his mother, and I've written on that in my The Falling : a memoir (AUP, Auckland 2001) - a book officially out of print, but copies can be had from the author - in any event, Hillary had read James Joyce, and knew enough to commission Michael Ayrton, a name that very few New Zealanders would have known, and I certainly had no idea that Hillary was also a bee-keeper - I doubt we know enough about the connections made by New Zealanders with their northern colleagues, like poet/printer Denis Glover's friendship with Oxford University Press printer Dr John Johnson (Glover said he had slept on the premises) & sd Johnson 'taught me more about printing and typography than I had ever learned' - and private press printer Bob Gormack (Nag's Head Press in Christchurch) also went to London & lunched with Beatrice Warde in 1955 (the year I left school & launched myself into a world I found & find unintelligible, with no idea that poetry would become the primary place where that 'collision' (a term coined by Gig Ryan, Melbourne poet & critic, in reviewing my Fragmenta nova in The Age newspaper) would be registered over the succeeding decades -