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Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light
________________________________________

      No other poet writes as Will Alexander does. Perhaps as a reviewer it is useful to get to grips with this at some point. Unfortunately the exception proves the rule. For example Harryette Mullin’s formulation of Alexander’s poetry (or of Alexander himself?) as “a complex sentence – machine” speaks to a reader faced with the breadth and scope of the poems for the first time. A Deluezian grandeur, a sublime so humbling that incomprehension is welcomed. The artwork spread across the pages adds to the (rightful) myth of the man as “our alchemist” (Codrescu). But surprisingly few people have tried to connect the dots and the movements and the clear models of transcendence that Alexander seems to work out of like a restless real number, like “Cardano’s dice,” his metaphors and similes get all the attention (one is tempted to think of the exchange between Benjamin Peret and Andre Breton on Rapolle, only perhaps more derivative)surprisingly little reference to repeating structures and invocations, his disdain of the quotidian, his politics (often simplistic), the ecology of his poetry, what he draws from Buddhism and Aurobindo, and his fight against cancer (“the apocalypse is in the core of the cell” (Satprem) starts an essay), a “Nubian” post-consciousness which he inherits from Cesaire—just to take a few examples—origins which assume mythic structures and knots and geographies and communities in the images in and out of his writing. The fecundity in his writing seems to push commenters to match up to the surreal tenor of the writing, the hypotaxis and the ecstasy, while possibly ignoring its unique form and impetus.

“I am Mahayana & of Africa
Both Sri Lankan & Non-Sri Lankan”
(The Sri Lankan Loxodrome)

Then again a postcolonial voice starts somewhere

 “I am not da Gama
involved in brutish national acclaim
for ginger
or cloves
or camphor”
(Ibid)
  
     Andrew Joron, in his introduction to Alexander’s “Towards the primeval lightning field,” describes the poet’s method as ”conductive.” And so it is. Be it The Sri Lankan Loxodrome or Mirach speaks to his grammatical transplants or his Compression and purity, Alexander is surprisingly universal. It is not just the wide range of sources he draws from, but how he puts them to work. (“One need not be expert on grain farming, or Egyptian mystical practice, but one needs an accurate feel for the core principle of the subject at hand” (from the preface to Kaleidoscopic Omniscience) Alexander is remarkably lucid and honest when it comes to his praxis. His emphasis on hearing, perhaps a fortuitous cross between dibbasota and the tradition of the poet-seer, the lightning tree, is perhaps an entry point into his poetry. In “The Sri Lankan Loxodrome” the overriding metaphor is the trawler, a fisherman who kills Hydrophidae and removes the poison from them, and is haunted by a shade Gianini, a composite figure presumably from the “North” (much discussed in Alexander’s Mirach speaks to his grammatical transplants where the Northern nations are supposed to be the purveyors of “European mechanization” which proves to be a hard pill until one realizes mechanization has more valence than a simplistic commentary on capitalism ) who whispers that the poet is “an isolate medium of negative exchange.” This resonates with Alexander’s disdain of “mechanization” economic or lingual and the need to interpose the poet as a shaman figure, an “outsider artist” (Clayton Eshleman) a positive negation possibly inspired by dabblings in Buddhism The trawler can be read off as a vessel. One thing is for sure. You cannot tie Alexander down to a single stereotype. All dharmas are transitory in his writing. (though he takes the pains to point out that his concerns might not be that of the “immaculate Buddhist.”) Later in “Compression and Purity” (which features, among other things, a long poem on Vallejo praising and appraising him) he dismissively talks about his past in a vessel where he would butcher snakes for a living, which I read as an indirect reference to the earlier work.


Last edited by arkava, Jan/14/2014, 1:32 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


What a wonderful use of Ateliers, arka. I look forward to more. It never occurred to me to use this space for an essay, I'm so glad you thought of it. And now I've been introduced to Will Alexander.

Best,
Chris
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arkava Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


Hey thanks Chris. I have a long standing affair with this guy's poetry. Thought it was time to take it to the next level. emoticon
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


Hi arka,

Ran across this essay today and thought it might be of interest to you:

Antonin Artaud: A Glossary of Fumes
By Will Alexander

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arkava Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


kat, thanks so much. I am tempted to comment on alexanders essay in the space provided. usually I keep some distance from poets whose works I admire, but in this case possibly I will make anexception.
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


Hey arka,

Glad to see you decided to comment. I didn't know that you got to Suhrawardi through Alexander. Coincidently, I was reading about Suhrawardi this morning. Not sure if the essay will be of interest to you, but in case it might be (scroll down a bit until after the section of Zoroaster):

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arkava Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


Kat, goig through the article as we type. i am hooked.
Mar/28/2014, 10:54 am Link to this post Send Email to arkava   Send PM to arkava Blog
 
arkava Profile
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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


quote:

Katlin wrote:
Hey arka,

Glad to see you decided to comment. I didn't know that you got to Suhrawardi through Alexander.



more like I got suhrawardi through alexanders works (though he doesn't mention suhrawardi)
 and connected his world with the imaginal world in some way. same with buddhism. one can argue that alexanders works when it comes to discussing buddhism, whatever the dhatu, is nebulous at best but his writing was the fuel that made me search out the yogacara dudes and the older scriptures. and aurobindo and satprem and really start enjoying my displacements in culture and language.

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Re: Will Alexander, the Blurb, and Corbin’s Man of Light


Arka, thought you might enjoy this. Will Alexander at HTML Giant.


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