25 April 2011
More on William Fuller's Hallucination
Over the course of reading and re-reading William Fuller's Hallucination in light of Zukofsky's notion of the "literal hallucination" (see below, or click here), I found myself drawn to the following lines from the poem "G____ P____, Kung Fu":
"But while our whole future quivers on a shell, the fallacies from which our opponents derive themselves will be revealed atop the holy hill, at three o'clock, next Thursday, and continuing on through all the countless Thursdays until, lifted up on soft breezes, the trance-subject barks at acorns as they smack off the roof. See the birds of the air, how they overflow. George leans back at exactly the wrong time and enfeoffs his esophagus. His porcelain soul, subject to annihilation, adheres uneven surfaces as a faint residual pulse beats out similes and parables. So much mental strain cannot help but manifest itself. We write a tortured letter. We quote a wounded argument. By default we gain possession of the field. Note the kind of eye given to this sight. We fold our hearts through a pinhole, Kung Fu. Do not increase or decrease these medicines I am recommending."
Here the reader finds "trance-subjects bark(ing) at acorns," and in "Earthly Events" (the next poem in the collection), "trance-phenomena / grow(ing) wax-like":
"needles of teeth
inside the ceiling
left to their
elected habitual condition
always at odds
yet for the agent intellect
free and objective"
I'm tempted to read Fuller's poems themselves as "trance-phenomena"—the reader herself as a kind of "trance-subject" immured by visual and auditory induction—but the book suggests, I think, a more emancipatory reading. The other day I received a broadside in the mail commemorating the Leslie Scalapino Memorial Reading at Reed College, and the following lines from The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom offered a different angle into Fuller's Hallucination (click the image for full-screen):
Leslie's writing is in some ways the apotheosis of the "literal hallucination": she treats the most "hallucinatory" events as concrete phenomena because, in her writing, mind phenomena is as tangible as any other sensory data. In other words, there's no consequential divide (in terms of the "reality" of phenomena) between an owl bursting into flames in the imaginary, or a subject viewing a picture of an owl in a birding book, or an owl flying around one's backyard in aposteriori "reality," because each is a form of sensory data that further (and equally) obscures the "true" nature of being. The real "literal hallucination" in Leslie's writing is how her work makes a trance state of diurnal, waking life, so that one's experience of "experience" mediates between the subject and real time.
With this in mind, Fuller's Hallucination can be read as something of a curative to one's workaday trance state ("Do not increase or decrease these medicines I am recommending")—a kind of talisman with the power to realign our perception of "reality." Here's "Tower Road":
Matter is a fog one looks through toward pale headlights, while the pavement reveals certain weaknesses to be resolved by wishing, regretting, or despairing. Ignorance and doubt maintain matter's interest in us, over fresh surfaces winding east, through rocks and plastic cups, to the incandescent threshold—where all is pureed into a single featureless face the moment life concludes. A clean car delivers our nutriment, the cloud jewel, the ice jewel. Those who make little noise or whose abode is immeasurably distant are presumed to have escaped the prison of earth, impasturing the sky. They whitewash the white rooms. Footprints slide from their feet. Sometimes they drink juice from trees.