When almonds sit in water they become easier to chew. When
almonds sit with grapes and raisins they may taste like grapes and
—a largely true remark of Kimberly Adams’
I love it: truthiness.
Oh do you now?
I googled it. It was not as I wished,
This project, to which I set my labour.
I dreamt dimensions in’t that never were,
Politics for’t that never yet have been.
A great woe.
Great, and more than great, bizarre.
Its first concern is with the years of Bush—
A fair fine firstling, ha! But pray tell on.
—where I had thought it to be laid about
The decade of the sixties; very odd.
And I, so thinking, brought this German stuff,
While no one can read German!
In the world?
No, no one can read German in the world.
Not ev’n, I hear it said, in Germany.
Oh stuff and nonsense, all! Let’s hear from Chad
Now I shall tell you what I shall tell you,
And what I know I know is true I’ll tell,
And that is this: my study is of truth,
Of tales and screeds and literatures that claim
To speak a truth, make claims about the truth.
For how can tales speak true, being tales? How screeds,
When every word that’s writ is scarce the truth?
A pretty speech. What is this beer he drinks?
I’ll tell of nineteen-sixties magazines
And authors ten—no, twenty—years past that,
Of journalists (suspend your prejudice,
I’d say, were I as yet a partisan
Of causes long since lost), vain journalists
Who can tell? The truth’s
A weird, persnick’ty thing; that’s what they said
As well, back then: “No truth is to be found
In wretched novels and the wretched men
Who write them! Don’t you know the novel’s dead,
And narrative, and sundry Kennedys?
Keep up. The novel died when Bellow died
In artistry; a corpse since Herzog, yes?”
And so they wrote the real, the truth, the true;
Got at it (so they said) through that same thing
Called Social Realism in the schools,
But which they called an electricity
Without which no machine of art could run.
What rot! Who are these men?
And women too?
Is Joan among them?
Could hardly not be of this party, yes!
Yes, he’s of them, Master Wolfe.
I’ll tell of all these people, all these things,
In every last particular, fear not,
Down to the colour of their hair at root,
But first let’s hear from someone else but me,
Who’s writ of truth, and those who tell, or don’t.
His words are ciphers cut with diamond knives,
His eyes as firecoals, and he speaks the tongues
Of serpents, sibyls, anything with fangs.
Wiser to run, to hide, but wise we’re not:
Take up your scrolls and read Michel Foucault.
He’s clever, but I wonder…
Soft, not you!
We’ll hear at first from Kim.
This word he writes, how do you say’t aloud?
pʌˈɹiːʒɪə? pʌˈɹuːʒɪə? Oh God,
I fear my Greek is not quite what it was.
Oh you may jest,
But what if he were here, and judging one?
At any rate I’d like to know how he
Would say the word.
Most often I pronounce—
Most often you pronounce. Can you define?
Well he defines it thus—
Who cares for that?
He feints, he feigns. Where is your scholarship?
My dear befuddled mollycoddled friends,
Cease this game of ring-around-the-proses.
This is no jest, nor jape, nor escapade,
Except for him who waits (And who knows where?)
And creeps and rears and springs and snaps and—thwack!
No fun to be beheaded by Michel
Who judges one, as Kim so rightly says.
So read the French and Greek and English words
As never scholars read the words before:
And some must watch the windows; some, the door.
Monsieur who bears a sword, of course!
All clear, no murd’ring misters at the door.
And now to crack the Frenchman’s wily code—
Well I’ll make use of etymology!
And I, rhetorical analysis.
I know a scholar woman in a wood,
Farouche and strange, who wrote her PhD
On rhetoric. Perhaps you two could speak?
Wait, what was that?
Oh, what was what?
All clear. You know, I think we ought to speak
David dear, you always do.
I think Descartes is what we must discuss.
You see this phrase? Cartesian. This one too.
I know my countrymen—perhaps too well.
This room’s so cold: you’re sure the window’s closed?
All clear. No axemen Frenchmen entering here.
Oh stop it, do. Let’s talk of Stanley Fish,
Biography and bias, presidents,
And presidential candidates and things,
And problems of philosophy in Greece
In times ere Dualism and Descartes
Had worked their woeful work. Or Wittgenstein!
I really wouldn’t mind. Let’s even talk
Of Palin, Sarah Palin, anything
More cheerful than this waiting, watching fear.
A bunch of ninnies, that’s what you lot are.
This is the very painting of your fear!
The Frenchman’s dead; the doors are shut; calm down.
Oh God the page, the page!
Who’s that? Who’s that? The pronouns! Where’d they go?
Oh look at them, they creep, they rear, they rise!
Oh, your hand at the level of your eyes!