Sifting through the Layers

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Beginning an Ezra Pound Collage

Pound turned a jumble of good and bad passages into a poem.

Helen Gardner, speaking of Ezra Pound’s editing of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

Monday morning, 27 degrees and dark, has found me unable to focus on preparations for tomorrow’s class, so I decided to go to a coffee house and set up my “office” for awhile.  After a couple of days reading 127 pages of Hiking with Nietzsche (and enjoying it profoundly), I decided this morning to graze from some other books. Returning to Howard Gardner’s Creating Minds, I resumed the chapter on T. S. Eliot and found some fascinating details concerning his lost manuscript to The Waste Land, having been rediscovered in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. It was Ezra Pound who convinced him to cut the thousand-line draft to about half its size. Helen Gardner uttered the immortal words posted above.

After reading awhile, I was seized with the impulse to begin a collage of Ezra Pound, and immediately pushed aside my books and pulled my file of collage scrap papers from the carry-on bag. Getting lost in the drawing of Pound’s portrait and then pasting a text from my Greek New Testament on one side, and then tearing papers and pushing them around the 5 x 7″ composition, my imagination began trekking over the landscape of thoughts and images from years gone by. I stopped the collage, put it away, and drew out my journal to catch the fleeting thoughts quickly before they had a chance to evaporate.

I welcome moments like this. Visitations. In the midst of a busy schedule, a door unexpectedly swings open, inviting me to enter a spacious chamber of memories and sit for awhile with a cup of coffee and listen to them. This is the Proustian moment that cannot be summoned. All we can do is adjust our sails to catch the breeze of the muse when it stirs, and let it take us to another place. The occasion may last only a few minutes or endure for a few hours. But it is always a gift, gladly received.

This morning I was taken back to days of study at the seminary (the late seventies and early eighties). I also lingered in classrooms and lecture halls at University of North Texas and Texas Christian University, and saw in my mind’s eye the study carrel on the top floor of Texas Wesleyan University where I spent winter evenings reading and occasionally gazing out the window into the darkness, fixing my eyes on lovely Christmas lights outlining homes in neighboring residential areas. Thoughts of Christmas seasons past warmed me in these moments as well.

At this stage of my life, I am grateful for good thoughts, good memories, as I sift through the layers of past chapters in my life that now come to the present and invite a fresh visitation and interpretation. People whom I have known and loved reach out to me, and I touch them again with my memories and thoughts of profound gratitude.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to excavate.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

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