Dot

Clayton Eshleman - 1935-
Unicellular sac pressed 
fingertips,

two dots, a me 
row--or a herow? a meandering 
red moist

blastospore, a multicellular 
dot-filled wall, 
lubricious prefiguration of Hermes
who swings with

heat of the amoeba need
soldered to sprout

desire, an earthworm psyche 
spiderline, tunneling on the leash of the 
to-be-peristaltic

boundary seeking

something to curve 
about, zigzag, 
bear claw hut rain, 
diagrammatic boogie-woogie of Hermes
flowing in the boundary catastrophe 
when the animal was separated out

     *

Dot,  doorbell
Summoning Hades through stone.

More by Clayton Eshleman

Silence Raving

Patters, paters, Apollo globes, sound 
breaking up with silence, coals 
I can still hear, entanglement of sense pools, 
the way a cave might leak perfume--

in the Cro-Magnons went, along its wet hide walls, 
as if a flower in, way in, drew their leggy 
panspermatic bodies, spidering over 
bottomless hunches, groping toward Persephone's fate:
to be quicksanded by the fungus pulp of Hades' purple hair 
  exploding in their brains.

They poured their foreheads into the coals and corrals 
zigzagged about in the night air--
        the animals led in crossed 
a massive vulva incised before the gate,
the power that came up from it was paradise, the power 
the Cro-Magnons bequeathed to us:
to make an altar of our throats.

The first words were mixed with animal fat, 
wounded men tried to say who did it.
The group was the rim of a to-be-invented wheel, 
their speech was spokes, looping over, 
around, the hub of the fire, its silk of us, 
its burn of them, bop we dip, you dip, 
we dip to you, you will dip to us, Dionysus 
the plopping, pooling words, stirred
by the lyre gaps between the peaks of flame, 
water to fire, us to them.

Foal-eyes, rubbery, they looped
back into those caves whose walls could be strung
between their teeth, the sticky soul material pulled to
The sides by their hands, ooh
what bone looms they sewed themselves into, ah 
what tiny male spiders they were
on the enormous capable of devouring them 
female rock elastic word!

Placements I: "The New Wilderness"

for Jerome Rothenberg
 

Anguish, a door, Le Portel, the body bent over jagged rock, 
in ooze, crawling in darkness to trace the button of itself
--or to unbutton the obscure cage in which a person and an 
animal are copulas--or are they delynxing each other? Or 
are they already subject and predicate in the amniotic cave 
air watching each other across the word barrier, the flesh?

                              *

At arm's length the image, my focus the extent of my reach. 
Where I end the other begins. And is not all art which gen-
uinely moves us done in the "dark" against a "wall"? Olson's 
whisper (a prayer), "(boundary
            Disappear."

                              *

Artaud's hatred of depth near the end of his life. All real 
action, he ranted, was at surface. Beyond? Nothing. Below 
and above? Nothing. At the same time he desired to be or-
ganless, eternal. James Hiliman writes: "Every rebirth fan-
tasy in psychology may be a defense against depth." If com-
ing up out of the cave of night can mean an openness to know-
ing we've never left the cave, then rebirth ceases to be an-
tagonistic to depth.

                              *

The beginning of the construction of the underworld takes
place in Upper Paleolithic caves. To identify this "place
under construction," I use the later Greek word "Hades,"
and it is there that the first evidence of psyche we can 
relate to occurs. To be in the cave is to be inside an an-
imal--a womb--but to draw there is to seek another kind of
birth; an adjustment to the crisis of the animal separat-
ing out of the human--or, the Fall. To be inside, to be 
hidden, to be in Hades--where the human hides in the animal.

                              *

Semi-conscious scanning through the lich gate. Wandering 
the winding windows of images. Knowing that as we see through, 
we only at best see into dream to touch the cave wall socket 
in which the current is called animal. Its adamant muzzle 
confers moisture on my deathly palm.

                              *

Since the hidden is bottomless, totality is more invisible 
than visible. Insistence on a totality in which life is tot-
ally visible, is the anti-dream, Hades deprived of his cave, 
Satan attempting to establish a kingdom--or death camp--
solely on earth.

                              *

As species disappear, the Upper Paleolithic grows more vivid. 
As living animals disappear, the first outlines become more 
dear, not as reflections of a day world, but as the primal
outlines of psyche, the shaping of the underworld, the point 
at which Hades was an animal. The "new wilderness" is thus 
the spectral realm created by the going out of animal life
and the coming in, in our time, of these primary outlines.
Our tragedy is to search further and further back for a
common non-racial trunk in which the animal is not separated
out of the human, while we destroy the turf on which we
actually stand.

Notes on a Visit to Le Tuc D'Audoubert

for Robert Bégouën
 

bundled by Tuc's tight jagged
    corridors, flocks of white
  stone tits, their milk in long
    stone nipply drips, frozen over

  the underground Volp in which
 the enormous guardian eel,
now unknown, lies coiled--

 

to be impressed (in-pressed?) by this
primordial "theater of cruelty"--
    by its keelhaul sorcery

 

    Volp mouth--the tongue of the
        river lifting one in--

to be masticated by Le Tuc d'Audoubert's
  cruel stones--
        the loom of the cave

  Up the oblique chimney by ladder to iron cleats set 
in the rock face to the cathole,
on one's stomach
    to crawl,          working against
                     one, pinning one
as the earth        in, to, it, to
makes one                    feel for an instant
feel its traction--             the dread of
                    WITHERING IN
                       PLACE

     --pinned in--
    The Meat Server
  masticated by the broken
   chariot of the earth

     

 

                 *

 "fantastic figures"--more beast-
     like here than human--one
horn one ear--    one large figure
                  one small figure

      as in Lascaux?
  (the grand and petit sorcerer?)

First indications of master/
  apprentice? ("tanist" re. Graves)



the  grotesque  archetype
___  _________  _________

    vortex in which the emergent
  human and withdrawing animal
    are spun--
        ____


            grotesque = movement



(life is grotesque when we catch
    it in quick perceptions--
  at full vent--history
   shaping itself)

the turns/twists of the cave 
  reinforce the image turbine--
as does the underground river,

              the cave floats,
       in a sense, in several senses,
                all at once,
    it rests on the river, is penetrated
         by it, was originally made
            by rushing water--
                 the cave
             is the skeleton of flood


images on its walls
  participate, thus, as torsion,
in an earlier torsion--

Here one might synthesize:
    1) abstract signs 
         initiate movement
           brought to rest in

    3) naturalistic figures 
         (bison, horses etc)

    In between, the friction, are

    2) grotesque hybrids

(useful--but irrelevant to systematize forces that must have been 
felt as flux, as unplanned, spontaneous, as were the spots/areas in 
caves chosen for images--because shadowing or wall contour 
evoked an animal? Any plan a coincidence--we have no right to 
systematize an area of experience of which we have only shat-
tered iceberg tips--yet it does seem that "image" occurs at the 
point that a "naturalistic" ibex is gouged in rock across an 
"abstract" vulva already gouged there, so that the rudiments of 
poetry are present at approximately 30,000 BC--

    image is crossbreeding, 
    or the refusal to respect 
    the single, individuated body, 
    image is that point 
    where sight crosses sight--

to be alive as a poet is to be
    in conversation with one's eyes)

What impresses at Tuc is a relationship
between river
        hybrid figures
        and the clay bison--

it is as if the river (the skeleton of water = the cave itself) erupts
into image with the hybrid "guardians" (Breuil's guess) and is 
brought to rest in the terminal chamber with the two bison i.e., 
naturalism is a kind of rest--naturalism returns us to a continu-
ous and predictable nature (though there is something unnatural 
about these bison to be noted later)--takes us out of the discon-
tinuity, the transgression (to cite Bataille's slightly too Catholic 
term) of the grotesque
    (though the grotesque, on another level, according to 
Bakhtin, is deeper continuity, the association of realms, king-
doms, fecundation and death, degradation and praise--)

on one hand: bisons-about-to-couple 
   assert the generative
   what we today take to be
   the way things are	 (though with ecological pollution, 
                          "generation" leads to mutation,
                          a new "grotesque"!)

                 *

   to be gripped by a womb of stone
   to be in the grip of the surge of life
   imprisoned in stone

it is enough to make one sweat one's animal

(having left the "nuptual hall" of white stone breasts in which 
one can amply stand--the breasts hang in clusters right over one's 
head--one must then squirm vertically up the spiral chimney (or 
use the current iron ladder) to enter the upper level via a cathole 
into a corridor through which one must crawl on hands and 
knees--then another longish cathole through which one must 
crawl on one's belly, squirming through a human-sized tunnel--
to a corridor through which one can walk haltingly, stooping, 
occasionally slithering through vertical catslits and straddling 
short walls)--
    if one were to film one's postures through this entire process,
it might look like a St.-Vitus dance of the stages in the life of man, 
birth channel expulsion to old age, but without chronological 
order, a jumble of exaggerated and strained positions that corres-
pondingly increase the image pressure in one's mind--

    while in Le Tuc d'Audoubert I felt the broken horse rear in
agony in the cave-like stable of Picasso's Guernica, 
    at times I wanted to leave my feet behind, or to continue
headless in the dark, my stomach desired prawn-like legs with 
grippers, my organs were in the way, something inside of me 
wanted to be
   an armored worm, 
   one feeler extending out its head, 
   I swear I sensed the disintegration of the backbone of my
mother now buried 12 years,
   entangled in a cathole I felt my tongue start to press back-
wards, and the image force was: I wanted to choke myself out of 
myself, to give birth to my own strangulation, and then nurse 
my strangulation at my own useless male breasts-useless? No, for 
Le Tuc d'Audoubert unlocks memories that bear on a single face 
the expressions of both Judith and Holofernes at the moment of 
beheading, mingled disgust terror delight and awe, one is stimu-
lated to desire to enter cavities within oneself where dead men 
can be heard talking-- 
    in Le Tuc d'Audoubert I heard something in me whisper me
to believe in God
    and something else in me whispered that the command was 
the rasp of a 6000 year old man who wished to be venerated 
again-- 
    and if what I am saying here is vague it is because both voices
had to sound themselves in the bowels of this most personal and 
impersonal stone, in which sheets of myself felt themselves cor-
rugated with nipples-as if the anatomy of life could be described, 
from this perspective, as entwisted tubes of nippled stone through 
which perpetual and mutual beheadings and birthings were tak-
ing place--

                 *

    but all these fantastic images were shooed away the moment 
I laid eyes on the two bison sculptured out of clay leaned against 
stuff fallen from the chamber ceiling-- 
    the bison and their "altar" seemed to be squeezed up into
view out of the swelling of the chamber floor-- 
    the sense of culmination was very severe, the male about to
mount the female, but clearly placed several inches behind and 
above her, not in contact with any part of her body, and he had no 
member-- 
    if they were coupling, and without deep cracks in their clay 
bodies, they would have disappeared into their progeny thousands 
of years ago, but here they are today still, as if Michelangelo were 
to have depicted God and man as not touching, but only reaching 
toward each other, caught in the exhaustion of a yearning for a 
sparking that has in fact never taken place, so that the weight of 
all the cisterns in the world is in that yearning, in the weight of 
that yearning is the real ballast in life, a ballast in which the 
unborn are coddled like slowly cooking eggs, unborn bison and 
unborn man, in the crib of a scrotum, a bone scrotum, that 
jailhouse of generation from which the prisoners yearn to leap 
onto the taffy machine-like pistons of shaping females-- 
    it is that spot where the leap should occur that Le Tuc d'Au-
doubert says is VOID, and that unfilled space between two fertile 
poles here feels like the origin of the abyss, as if in the minds of 
those who shaped and placed these two bison, fertilization was 
pulled free, and that freedom from connection is the demon of
creation haunting man and woman ever since-- 
    we crawled on hands and knees about this scene, humbled, in
single file, lower than the scene, human creatures come, lamps 
in hand like a glowworm pilgrimage, to worship in circular crawl 
at one of the births of the abyss-- 
    if I had stayed longer, if I had not with the others disappeared 
into the organic odors of the Montesquieu-Avant&egraves woods, I am 
sure that I would have noticed, flittering out of the deep cracks in 
the bison clay, little winged things, image babies set free, the 
Odyssi before Odysseus who still wander the vaults of what we 
call art seeking new abysses to inscribe with the tuning forks of 
their wings . . .