Don’t Touch Me

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A new chapbook from Alex. It is difficult to describe what a gift like this means, but Lewis Hyde is helpful:

As is the case with any other circulation of gifts, the commerce of art draws each of its participants into a wider self. The creative spirit moves in a body or ego larger than that of any single person. Works of art are drawn from, and their bestowal nourishes, those parts of our being that are not entirely personal, parts that derive from nature, from the group and the race, from history and tradition, and from the spiritual world. In the realized gifts of the gifted we may taste that zoë — life which shall not perish even though each of us, and each generation, shall perish. (From The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, 197-198)

Don’t touch me, the writer says, his pen poised above a notebook and his gaze on the reader. And yet, while thrusting us away, he offers us the gift of his book, drawing us into a wider self.

alex

“Lost among the shadows some part of me still waits for a light to come & shine & make me whole.”

The attentive eye watches for the light while knowing, surely, that even if the light were to shine in the darkness, the darkness would not comprehend it. Or, at most, its comprehension would be in and through language that represents rather than being light itself.

That’s enough for me, I think.

This book is a kind of light that shines to make me more whole. One of the last lines of my Immortal for Quite Some Time (in which Alex is a constant presence) is “That we are seldom at our best doesn’t invalidate out attempts to be whole.”

alex noli3

noli me tangere is replete with self portraits — this one of the writer at work while staring one-eyed at his reader. What is he thinking? We can’t tell for sure, although I accumulate enough clues (as I must while piecing together what I hear with damaged ears to make sense of what I don’t hear and as the writer must with a single eye), to suggest he may be thinking “once upon an answer” (I must, of course, throw out the “m” rising from the middle of his head to make this work).

alex noli4

“The shadows are gone and their absence is felt and what is now left of me is transformation into ancient Sicilian creature come back to life”

The creative spirit moves in a body or ego larger than that of any single person. Works of art are drawn from, and their bestowal nourishes, those parts of our being that are not entirely personal, parts that derive from nature, from the group and the race, from history and tradition, and from the spiritual world.

alex noli6

“Who am I / all over again / a pattern in / terrupted and / then replayed / the answer / questioned / and then / regained . . . / as if speech / were the morning / as if the time was now and now was never on time . Who you are is ever on my mind is ever to be saught is ever the given in any given instance.”

One eyed and that eye requiring magnification, unable to hear high frequencies, dependent on language while enabled by language, instantiations of our selves. The morning breaks and the shadows don’t flee.

alex noli5.jpg

“itinerary for / the travel / thru one’s own / mind drawn / upon a / shore and a / splace not / to be found / on any map / save the / one in the imagination / which will not / fade with time or  w..t dr.. s ……..

And I repeat: In the realized gifts of the gifted we may taste that zoë — life which shall not perish even though each of us, and each generation, shall perish.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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2 Responses to Don’t Touch Me

  1. alex caldiero says:

    Am deeply “touch’d”. nuf sed.

    Like

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