Electric Review

Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms

Unhurried Vision

Unhurried VisionUNHURRIED VISION. Michael Rothenberg. La Alameda Press. Michael Rothenberg was arguably Philip Whalen’s closest friend during the Zen Master’s last days on this earth. It was during those days that Rothenberg served as Whalen’s editor and care taker, his confidant and silent companion, the one who made sure the old poet was comfortable as the slow face of death came upon the day and gradually consumed him.

Unhurried Vision is pure poetry — a book comprised of skeleton-like verses that are actually journal “entries” which were written after Whalen’s condition had become terminal (when Rothenberg was tending the old poet on a daily basis). Immediately, the book draws us into its electric realm, reeling with a gentle energy, touching upon the silent wonders that separate the veils; as Rothenberg notes, it’s but the blink of an eye lash that separates the living world from time beyond the darkness:

“GOING ON

Econo-Lodge, Arapahoe

Ginsberg gone

McClure sleeping down the hall

Philip in jacket blurbs, bio

summaries & poems

pieced together

I could be talking about strangers

This could be my family

Dead, sleeping, blind”

(Page 43)

As I read this book of poems a second time, I started to realize the profound impact that Whalen had on Rothenberg’s life (and on many of the other Beats as well). Whalen — the supreme teacher in communication with the Dharma of the Beyond, was a spirit entrenched in the brilliant ambiguity of the moment. And rather then fighting that ambiguity, Whalen flowed into it. I imagine that if you were around him or inside his “circle,” you were forced to learn to flow into mindlessness as well, forced to separate these invisible threads of infinity into long fingertip-lips of heavenly awareness. And in the end, that’s just whatUnhurried Vision is about: recording the inner-workings of the moment as it is born, blooming softly on silent & toothless hooves — unrushed in the unhurried hour just before the dawn:

OCEAN RESTAURANT

“calm down

remember to breathe…

what you can’t remember

you write down

hurry, hurry, hungry”

(Page 106)

This book hits us the way Kenneth Patchen’s “The Journal Of Albion Moonlight” hit us: a hammer straight through both sides of the heart, shouting at the moon, the record of a man trying to make sense of himself in between the breaths he breathes – there!: half hidden naked in sleep, bent around the jagged knife edges of dreams, looking through a smoke clouded window.

Here, Rothenberg begins his journey with a poem by the teacher, this poem written by Philip Whalen some 40 years ago beckons an answer:

“The End of the line.

Carefully try to remember what

it is that you are doing ‘How

do you do? How do you like

what you do?’ are you going

to continue in the same wasteful

and thoughtless fashion?”

(Page 9)

And so begins the question in the mind of each man in the midst of his new born breath.

Order at amazon.com or Small Press Distribution.
Read Rothenberg’s emagazine BIG BRIDGE at bigbridge.org.
Advertisements

Talk to Rat:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on March 1, 2004 by in 2004, March 2004, Rat On Poetry and tagged , .
In accordance with FTC Guidelines on blogging and product reviews, The Electric Review discloses that the books, records, DVDS and other products reviewed are submitted to us by publishers, record labels, publicity firms, artists, manufacturers and creators free of charge. The Electric Review further states that these entities and individuals submit materials to us of their own volition and understand that the submission of material is for discretionary consideration by the Editor and is not to be construed as to be in ‘exchange’ for a review.
The Electric Review does not serve as a ‘for-hire’ advertising vehicle and the submission of material for review creates no agreement either express or implicit requiring us to provide comment on a book, record, film, product or event. In sum, The Electric Review accepts no payment for the publication of a review. Instead, commentary is published as a free public service with reviews based solely on merit and the lasting classroom or cultural value of a given work: this compendium of essays meant to serve as an electronic library and on-going teaching resource surveying the 21st-century landscape.
Website copyright: John Aiello & The Electric Review. All rights reserved.
Violations of this notice are subject to sanction under United States Code: Title 17.
Reproduction of material from any Electric Review pages without the written permission of John Aiello or the named author is strictly prohibited.
%d bloggers like this: