I love to carry paradox in my mind until it practically bursts.
On a whim, I typed "paradox" into an online dictionary site and was taken to "Ask Jeeves."
But I hadn't asked Jeeves. So I found a way back to "paradox" and at that very moment an ad popped up with the following message:
Try that with the cookie jar.
John Cage couldn't have planned this any better.
Some have suggested that there might be more than a little paradox involved in the bookends that are my recent book titles: Whore and The White Bride, which I just saw in hardback for the first time yesterday. There was no master plan afoot, as the poems began. These were the titles, from individual poems, that kept nagging me until I had to listen, until the manuscripts had constellated around them, until they had informed what was there.
Paradox is at the center of the poem "Whore" because, once you begin to track it, paradox is at the center of the etymological linkages and what the word has become. It has a weird cultural stability that is somewhat at odds with its center. The subject of fascination in "The White Bride" appears to be a conflation of statue and flesh--in any case, immobile: beyond still. And finally, the phrase is a way of describing the moon, as it emerges on a dim, cold evening.
When I was very young, it seemed to me that God was the moon--there was that face, and the way we could drive for miles and the moon would still be there--as though watching over us. I grew up with a warm feeling about the moon even before the entrance of stories about its pull, especially on females.
But in the season of this poem, the moon is just a rock, around which we should build no other fantasies. The moon is not aware of us, bears us no celestial goodwill, but rather, indifference. There is nothing protecting us--from ourselves.
And so this bride is a rather chilly figure--below which, the world is nervous and strange, and mostly happening at night. Still, there are moments of the most intense connection, even beauty.
In both books, there's a kind of triangulation between title and (in each case) two epigraphs, and it's right here that the territory gets really clear--and really paradoxical.
What I love about the territory of paradox is very similar to what I love about the territory of eros--though perhaps one generates a more intellectual excitement and the other a more physical excitement, both generate a kind of emotional excitement because both demand a questioning and expansion of boundaries, both thrive on a displacement of categories, and both throw us into a state of wondrous disarray.