The girls are down for a nap and I have a moment.
What will I do with my moment to make it a MOMENT?
First I will read. I pick up Elizabeth Bishop's “PROSE”
and 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.’.” Wala! I don’t read French, but I do know this
line in translation and even used it as an opening
quote 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.”
(The word “plucked” by the way I use here because I just read
Nicholson Baker’s meditative novel on rhyme, “The Anthologist”
wherein he points out that “carpe diem” correctly translated is “pluck”
the day, not “seize,” a notable distinction. “Seize” would be “cape.”)
I kept reading the Bishop, my interest piqued by the Rimbaud. She
writes “This approximates what I think is called the ‘anesthetic revelation’.
(William James?).” I was intrigued 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 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 experienced this,
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
and kissed her, passionately. Oddly, she kissed me back, as if
swept up in my ecstacy. Reality quickly came back to me
and I acted as if nothing happened and, funny enough, so did she.)
The Wiki article also pointed out that Blood admits never lifting a finger
in anger and that his entire life had been fun. Fantastic.
Finally I read that Blood also patented a successful swathing reaper. What?
I had a moment of recognition, a super-recognition. A revelation
(perhaps more esthetic than anesthetic) wallops me between the eyes.
First I have to back up and tell you that there is another Adam DeGraff.
If you google me, you’ll probably get him. He’s a virtuoso violin player
who’s YouTube video of himself playing “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”
has gathered (plucked) over a million views. He is me. “I is another”
wrote Rimbaud. I recently noticed this Adam DeGraff had given
a TED talk and watched it out 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.
There is something about scything swaths of grass that just
makes me happy he said. And this is what I remembered when I read
about Ben Blood, the happy farmer, who must’ve also loved to reap,
and who must’ve found there, like the musician Adam DeGraff, the secret
of the trance. I sent the other Adam DeGraff the Wikipedia link for Ben Blood.
Imagine his surprise when he gets an e-mail from this other Adam DeGraff
all about reaping and anesthetic revelations. I went back and looked
at the Wikipedia page again. I noticed Blood also just happened to be friends
With Lord Alfred Tennyson, another poet I love and a circular link
back to Bishop. It then became clear to me that this entire moment
was a poem waiting to be written. Therefore I am quickly dashing it off,
before the babies wake up so I will remember. (So far so good.)