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Duel in slow time

[ by Charles Cameron ]

In slomo –

as in the slow rotating
backseat of a hurtling flipping car –

at that most divine of speeds at which
concentration arrives and
all is revealed –

as when Krishna himself bears
each arrow loosed from his
left-handed archer Arjuna’s drawn bow
to some fine warrior’s


we see: all contest is
each edged duel, a true duet…

7 Responses to “Duel in slow time”

  1. onparkstreet Says:

    Because I am a visually oriented person first and foremost, I had to imagine this lovely poem the way that you might look at a Post Secret postcard or a small Pop Art collage.
    Bear with me, for a moment.
    Imagine each word typed out in a good old-fashioned typewriter font and printed out on strips of white paper cut into rows to match your poetic layout.
    Pasted on top of a postcard showing an archer or an Indian religious diarama or maybe just a photo of a bow…. Blurry, out of focus, very Polaroid-y colors. Or maybe black and white like some old beatnik taking photos with a "box" camera of some sort.
    Now why would I immediately think of Post Secret for a poem?
    I am playing around with an idea that fits together narrative, 250 word short stories, and your and J. Scott’s DARPA-story posts.
    The idea stems from the pluralistic, secular, sixties India "groovy-ness" my parents grew up with and talked to me about. The German and Canadian professors in Northern Indian towns during the early sixties. The Beatles and scooters and thinking about American and marching around to nationalistic Indian songs and being young, post colonial, America curious and America friendly. Those stories, especially the mixed and varied groupings of people that they knew (religions and countries and so forth) is in my mind these days. If you are a young person of Indian origin today, and living in the West, you can easily write yourself into the American story because of the nature of her current narrative and its rhymes with modern American life. So, how to translate this feeling – this modern melting pot idea – to others?
    It’s an experiment. Bear with me as I work it out and post it here or at CBz.
    I know, I know, I’m being cryptic but I am getting bored with the serious strategy and military stuff. The arts always calls me back and that is an entirely different sensibility.
    – Madhu

  2. J. Scott Says:

    Madhu, I get it. My father-in-law shared a note today that contained the following: "we should all strive for a liberal arts education by persistent reading of science, philosophy, religion, history, and literature. This allows you to think broadly and systematically and build a latticework [I love that] in your head, a mental model of reality drawn from many disciplines." I got bored with psychology (one book in particular) and read  great book on slime molds! There is building evidence of the power of intellectual "stressors" which force us to see things from a new perspective, experience new things, learn new stuff [Greg Berns’ Iconoclast makes the case very well, but the rest of psych/neuro bubbas are, too. I’ve tried to set up a system, but every time the "system" fails—-so I keep a stocked anti-library and move with the "force." This week I was writing on patterns in cognition; specifically the "gating functions" in Boyd’s OODA between Observe and Orient and the implications and remembered a book I read in 07 by William Byers called How Mathematicians Think—I pulled it off the shelf and four hours later had re-read—-what had been a so-so book had new relevance because I had new stuff in my melon!
    [new paragraph—since I can’t "do" html or whatever the hell is necessary to start a new paragraph] I have synesthesia—I see colors around words. Not all words, but some books, some works light me up—metaphorically. Bach’s Musical Offering began to have a similar affect last year—-Tallis and Rachmanioff just this year. I love the way Charles used "edged duel" to juxtaposition cooperation. Look forward to Madhu’s cryptic stuff and more Cameron poetry…

  3. Charles Cameron Says:

    If you put .*. whenever you want a new para, I’ll insert them — see above. 
    Bach is someone I have always adored, if truth be told his music was what got me into Oxford — and when I worked in Arlington I used to commute from Warrenton, VA and found myself repeating "to hold the mind of Bach" like a mantra.
    Because he understands what it is to listen to many discordant voices, and hear them in counterpoint.
    If you like Tallis — Spem in Alium I was told about when I was a school kid, but didn’t hear it until CDs swung into view — you might like the very austere but perfect Hillard Ensemble CD, Morimur.

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    So when you read military history, is it all against a background of sepia-tone photos of bivouacs from the Crimean War?  I grew up with a lot of that, and line engravings from the Illustrated London News, terrible grey dreadnoughts breaking through rough seas, and hand-tinted images of all the different ranks and uniforms in a given regiment…
    And the language: Indomitable, Indefatigable, Ark Royal — my father’s last command was HMS Protector, which I now realize for the first time probably referred to Cromwell.
    And naturally, the verbal-visual connection is a matter of real interest, especially for a poet..

  5. J. Scott Says:

    Charles, Morimur is delightful! Thanks for the recommendation. You know when you mention "to hold the mind of Bach" I realized I’ve read only one Bach biography (Midnight in the Palace of Reason—which is extraordinarily good, but not quite a proper bio, as Frederick is bio’d as well). Hofstadter does a great treatment of Bach and his genius with the counterpoint. I can’t listen to Musical Offering or Fugues the same way after GEB!
    Back to your "edged dual," I lay awake a while last night and considered the literal and the metaphoric use and concluded the pairing of these two words to be quite ingenious (!) for the potential variety of imagery—considering that in a "edged dual" neither edge could exist without the other…Thanks again!

  6. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi Scott:
    Well, it was an "edged duel" — though "duel and duet" would be a "dual" so the word is clearly "in there" even if unspoken — language as a double-edged blade, perhaps?
    You might like Peter Williams, JS Bach: A Life in Music.

  7. J. Scott Says:

    Charles, Ok, so I’m nut:)) I misspelled "duel"—but that is the word I meant. Language is, indeed, a dual-edged blade, or "sword" in the context of Hebrews 4:12…
    I’m going to check out Williams.

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