Monday, November 17, 2014



The girls are down for a nap and I have a moment.

What can I do with my moment to make it a real?

First I read Elizabeth Bishop's “PROSE”,

turn at random to a letter in the middle and read,

“I’ve always thought one of the most extraordinary insights

into the ‘sea’ is Rimbaud’s L’eternite: ‘C’est la mer allee,

Avec le soleil.’.” I don’t read French, but I do know this

line and even used it once as an an opening

of a poem written for my daughters,

plucked it out of a New Yorker article on "Rimbaud in Translation":

“I have seen it. What? Eternity. It is the sun matched by the sea.”

I kept reading, my interest lit up by the Rimbaud. She

writes “This approximates what I think is called the ‘anesthetic revelation’.

(William James?).” I was intrigued now and did a google search

for “anesthetic revelation.” I arrived at a wikipedia page not for William James

but for one Benjamin Paul Blood, a 19th century Dutch character. I read,

“After experiencing the anesthetic nitrous oxide during a dental operation,

Blood concluded that the gas had opened his mind to new ideas

and continued experimenting with it. In 1874, he published

The Anesthetic Revelation and the Gist of Philosophy.”

(The first time I had nitrous oxide at the dentist I experience

a rushing backward away from all current reality into somewhere

other, I want to say nether, and was filled with a bright euphoria

so intense that when the assistant took off the mask I took her

her and kissed her. Oddly, she kissed me back, as if

swept up somehow in my dream life.  Reality quickly came back to me.

I acted as if nothing happened and she did too.)

The Wiki article also quotes Blood that he "never lifted a finger

in anger" and that his "entire life had been fun." Wow, Blood.

Finally I read that Blood also patented a successful swathing reaper. What?

I had a moment of recognition, a kind of super-recognition;  a revelation

(perhaps more esthetic than anesthetic) dawns on me.

First I should tell you that there is another Adam DeGraff.

If you google me, you’ll probably get him because he’s a virtuoso violin player

who’s YouTube video of himself playing “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”

has gathered over a million views. He is me, or rather “I am another”,

so wrote Rimbaud, or somebody anyway. I recently noticed this Adam DeGraff 

had given a TED talk and watched it out of some kind of dopplegangerly curiosity.

Surprisingly it was not about violin playing at all, but rather

about “reaping”, literally, reaping swaths of grass by hand

as opposed to using a lawn mower. Adam said he had found his thing.

Not playing Guns and Roses to perfection on a fiddle, mind you.

There is something about scything swaths of grass that just

makes him happy he said. And this is what I remembered when I read

about Ben Blood too, the happy farmer, who must’ve also loved to reap

because he invented an improved scythe to better his own mowing style,

and who must’ve found there, like the musician Adam DeGraff, the happy secret

of deep trance through dance. I sent the other Adam DeGraff the Wikipedia link for Ben Blood.

I can imagine his surprise when he gets an e-mail from another Adam DeGraff

about his pet subject of reaping and anesthetic revelations. Then I went back and looked

at the Wikipedia page again. I noticed Blood also happened to be friends

With Lord Alfred Tennyson, another poet I love and a circular link

back to Bishop and to the poem itself. It was then clear to me that this 

entire moment was a poem waiting to be written. Therefore I am dashing it off,

before the babies wake up, so I will remember this.  (So far so good.)

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