A Whole Minute

to wound the autumnal city.

So howled out for the world to give him a name.

The in-dark answered with wind.

All you know I know: careening astronauts and bank clerks glancing at the clock before lunch; actresses cowling at light-ringed mirrors and freight elevator operators grinding a thumbful of grease on a steel handle; student riots; know that dark women in bodegas shook their heads last week because in six months prices have risen outlandishly; how coffee tastes after you’ve held it in your mouth, cold, a whole minute.

So begins Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren. The book is brilliant, yet I have never finished it. It was the year of the first Gulf War. My family was on vacation, heading west. The cover caught my attention, moreso the strange text on the back cover. George Stanley in the dedication says, “you have confused the true and the real”. I almost left it in that small bookstore in the interior of B.C. Years later I started to read.

This is one of those books. From it and a handful of others I learned the first part of that lesson that rhythm is everything: it is language and sex and drama and horror. Delaney, Ondaatje, and Salinger taught me that beautiful words are about seeing; grammar and meaning and the other funny gremlins of language are nothing beside rhythm and sound.

For some time I have wanted to call my blog something other than “Geof Blog”. I pick Dhalgren’s whole minute, which like the brief flicker of a dream becomes a whole world.

2004-08-18

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