Monday, March 16, 2009

the britney spears of the zona - me

There’s a lovely phrase by one of my favorite poets, John Clare – to “get out of my knowledge.” He uses it unselfconsciously to talk about rambling around a piece of country that was adjacent to his local patch. To get out of his knowledge meant that he didn’t know the soil here, or the flowers, and he couldn’t predict the tune of the bird in the tree.

Well, I think it can be said coolly, and without nostalgia, that I know few people who are not out of their knowledge. The U.S. has been a place where getting out of my knowledge was the point, as my knowledge was killing me. And it was the fate of a country that was founded by the stoic, the killer, as Lawrence recognized, that out of my knowledge made killing all too easy. It always has. Every bomb dropped from every plane was dropped out of my knowledge. Wipeout – it is something we’ve become used to, the history that trails up to our house. And yet at the end of it all was the creation of this oddly gentle people. In my time on earth, I’ve seen crime waves and moral panics, I’ve seen repressed memory witchhunts and crack witchhunts, I’ve seen the towers fall and the people respond like Gandarene swine, I’ve seen money knock on every heart and inhabit, with its abstract breath, the heart until the body was corpsed. And yet the children kept getting gentler.

Myself, then, I have of course existed in that same fraught way, open to every corruption that came on the breeze, and I was born out of my knowledge. Yet I find the zona very much in my knowledge. This is a startling thing. I feel like I am the Britney Spears of the Zona.

But lately, I’ve been trying hard to make a living, and have had no time to write as much as I would like to for the people who come by. I’m sorry. This will probably continue for a week. Forgive me.

1 comment:

Ray Davis said...

Not being a Britneyologist, I just now caught up on the news and found a "Rolling Stone" comment thread stuffed with teenagers saying they had no idea of "If You See Amy"'s hidden delights until reading about them on the web. Which put me in mind of my youth in rural Missouri, when my schoolmates continued to insist on the daring sexual ambiguity of "My Girl Bill" even after I repeated its final verse. I think that was the day I finally gained some insight into the hermeneutics of "fundamentalism."