14 October 2011

Blood Counts

I stopped by John Taggart's "Mixed Blood" lecture this afternoon, a talk he dubbed "Blood Counts," organized by Cecil Giscombe at UC Berkeley. The talk connects Billy Strayhorn's last composition "Blood Count" to Taggart's "Henry David Thoreau / Sonny Rollins" from Pastorelles (Flood Editions, 2004) and the current work he's undertaking on Robert Duncan, but I couldn't stay for the whole event so I'm not sure he made it to the Duncan material. All the same, here are my kind-of-incomprehensible notes from the afternoon:

*Blood can be language also / Language can be blood also
*Jazz is America's "classical" music
*Blood news: birth, death; news that stays news
*Blood counts in beginnings and endings / Blood is relation
*Drought is an absolute condition / Drought is blues: you may wish you were never born
*Blood ratio needs to be balanced, as does the poem
*Taggart played Duke Ellington's (Billy Strayhorn penned?) "Blood Count"
*Bridge [AABA]: B statements cut and lift and improve the A statements: recomposition within old composition: this is where the solo happens
*Taggart wrote an essay as an undergraduate comparing Thoreau and Sonny Rollins; he then assigned himself the same project as a poem [see "Henry David Thoreau / Sonny Rollins" in Pastorelles]
*Your blood is autologous
*AB count [see bridge!]
*At least two nurses must watch a blood transfusion [by law]: cf. Duncan in H.D. Book reading Joyce to two muses / two nurses on UC Berkeley Campus!

And then I had to leave (lame!).

However, Taggart will be reading with Cecil Giscombe at the Meridian Gallery on Saturday (535 Powell, SF, 7:30 pm), so maybe I'll see you there?

And here's the entirety of Taggart's "Thoreau/Rollins" poem from Pastorelles (if you don't have the book at hand):


Two years and two months
alone in the woods
where he had vast range and circuit

his nights black kernels
never profaned by any human neighborhood
and no courtesan with a wound to be rubbed and to be kissed

who heard sounds in his nights
and no courtesan who heard the sounds of owls

sounding like

like that I had never been born
like that I had never been born.


Who rejoiced that there are owls
who rejoiced in reading
in reading the classics "the noblest recorded thoughts"

having spent youthful days
costly hours
learning words of an ancient language
an ancient language of perpetual suggestion and provocation

me phunai nikai
three little suggestions


singing if it can be called singing
to sing along with the sounds of owls.


Cut of the slash
which cuts
which cuts and which connects

of the cut of
time itself

which leaves a blue mark
black and blue mark
which can be read as a kind of bridge

connecting black and blue and
the abstract truth of
time itself.


Fled the clubs
nightclubs meccas of smoke clatter
and chatter amid smoke murmur and murmur of assignation


for two years
alone with the alone

alone with the alone saxophone
in the air
alone in the night air and high above the East River
heirmarmene and black water of the river

without a you to do a something to a me
without a song in the air.


In the night air
the seven planets in material orbits
so huge and moving at so great a speed must produce sound

harmonia of heimarmene

ringing and roaring sound the sound of a grinding down
"heavenly harmony" in waves and particles

in the air in the ear in the heart
since birth
in the heart there is a melody of heaven's harmony
ringing and roaring

alone with that
without a song with that.

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