Monday, February 19, 2018

NOTHING DOING. Can it be seen into print?


This book moves between Patchogue, Arizona, Bulgaria, France and Estonia with as much ease as going on the number 6 train from Bleecker Street to City Hall in Manhattan.

 (the book concerns itself with a number of men: a priest accused of abusing boys, a man whose wife has threatened to kill their child, a psychoanalyst struggling to over-come the futility of his vocation as a therapist and a number of other men who find themselves wandering in southern Arizona... there is a painting by Poussin, "Landscape with Travelers" in the National Gallery in London which organizes in a way this book...)

                   NOTHING DOING
                Thomas McGonigle

For in that she poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
                                              (Matthew 26/12)

Writer:          …I’m called the Writer.
Professor:     And what do you write about?
Writer:          Readers.
Professor:    There’s obviously no point in writing about anything else…
            Writer:         There’s no point in writing, full stop.  About anything.
(STALKER  dir. Andrei Tarkovsky)

Looking for a house to die in and a place to have a hole dug for my corpse which shall no longer be mine.
Gone west to die echoing what was said of the dead in World War One but knowing, I suppose,  is a way of saying I knew it was getting closer. Once you pictured yourself flung into a tree or bridge abutment when something didn’t work out with her or him or anything else and the thought of the resulting tears is sufficient consolation for leaving the party earlier than expected 
If anything, back then I thought I would have ended up somewhere in North Dakota as I had long ago been thinking of those little towns slowly closing up shop and  occasionally getting written up as examples of how things are changing with the passage of shriveling time: the school closing, the shops going. 
But that was not what happened. 
Somewhere in Arizona between Douglas and Apache or it could have been between McNeil and Elfrida or between Ajo and Sells I turned off the radio or turned off the CD player--- I forget what was playing--- and pulled to the side of the road. 
It came down on me…   which probably echoes too many songs…

-----------Does it go on to this-----------

In the National Gallery in London there is a painting by Nicholas Poussin.  Landscape with Travelers Resting.   Three men wearing Roman looking tunics are shown.  At the bottom of the painting a man is resting and looking.  In the center right a man is adjusting a sandal.  In the upper left part of the painting a man is walking.  The men are distinguished by the colour of their clothing: yellow, blue and red
            Remember, when Marina was saying as we walked in the Louvre, Look for the yellow as it is often at the center of the painting about which the eye is to turn.  But she was not there in the National Gallery that afternoon.
What if the three men are the same man? 
Can that be imposed upon this canvas?
And then in the catalogue there is another painting mentioned as being painted at the same time--- Landscape with a Man scooping Water from a Stream --- like this one, there is no reference to classical sources.  But it was not meant to be shown as a pendant, the writer of the catalogue asserts.
            Three men together. 
The men in the painting are about the same age.  That has always been a problem for them.  They know and do not know the same things.  Of course they do not look out at the world with the same eyes, though they are being looked at with
   left to stutter>
eyes connected to a central nervous system.              The difference in their ages is minimal. They come from the same town.  They have had the same schooling.  They are on the same road.  At the moment they are going in the same direction.  They have come from the same place though because of the way they are being seen that is possibly a mistake, an assumption easily made and for the moment without consequence. 
Nothing is being hidden.  A person has to start from some place and three men had to have started from some place.  They are stuck into those funny clothes which to the viewers in the early 17th Century were as remote from their own day as they are from a viewer today, almost four centuries later though it is possible this is the costume many viewers would have expected these men to have been caught in, at this moment, in oil on canvas.

-----------Or does it go on to this-----

Could it be believed that on another afternoon I was leaning against my car at the Sandspit dock in Patchogue in late summer waiting for Pete Phlite to show up? 
Could it be believed that Pete Phlite and I were sitting on the bench in front of our cars parked on the Sandspit dock watching the boats enter and leave the Patchogue River between two jetties made out of great boulders with those small light houses at the end of each of them?
Could it be believed that Karolin and I had been waiting at the Sandspit dock for Pete Phlite to show up after he said, be right over and Karolin then listening, I would often come down here and watch the boats enter and leave the Patchogue River when I was a kid in high school or back from college. 
Could it be believed Pete Phlite asked me why I wanted to meet him at the Sandspit dock in Patchogue?
Could it be believed I had asked to meet Pete Phlite down at the Sandspit dock--- you know where--- at the end there, where we can watch the boats enter and leave the Patchogue River?
Could it be believed Pete Phlite and I were talking about Al Wells, Sean Patrick Bradford and George Kamenov while sitting up on the back of the bench in front of our parked cars down there on the Sandspit dock? 

---- jarring transitions?-----

The sun made me shield my eyes as we watched boats enter and leave the Patchogue River.  I had wanted to talk about Karolin's stepsister coming unwelcomed by her now many years ago from Estonia to Edison, New Jersey to see their father a week after he had died unbeknownst to this woman who had been traveling many days by way of Tartu, Leningrad, Moscow...
Could it be believed I was telling Pete Phlite about meeting Al Wells, Sean Patrick Bradford and George Kamenov and how their lives had intersected mine as did Karolin's life and the memory she had of her stepsister coming from Estonia many years ago to see their father a week after he had died.
So, three men described by saying their names. It would be a mistake to assume the men whose names have now been revealed are wearing the costumes that might now only be worn in a high school Latin end of the school year celebration if the teacher had been trying to inspire the students to the lively nature of what most people think of as a dead language, morbid and gone, really gone.  Existing only in books and possibly in some Vatican documents, written in the dilemma of finding Latin words that can be applied to helicopter and ballpoint pen.

------all these names?-----

            If you blink you miss Apache, as they could say.  A closed up gas-station and some other buildings.  A u-turn to go back                                through the place (a line of cow skulls in front of that building to be photographed) and another u-turn and pulling off to the side of the road.  Nothing to pick up as a significant souvenir.  Flattened grass and types of cactii I could not begin to name.  No garbage or broken bottles…the constant wind on the face but no waving trees… a 360 degree turn, a low water tank across there in a far field… barbed wire fencing on either side of the road… not a house to be seen… wanting to say, nothing to be seen… but then I would have to describe how I could be standing by the side of the road… the sharp incline down from the edge of the shoulder…
Realizing that in all of this movement not a single car has passed by.

----Arizona to Patchogue and Arizona and Patchogue…----

Could it be believed that I was telling Pete Phlite down there on the Sandspit dock I had come back from the desert in Arizona and wanted to tell him about it and about meeting Al Wells who had been in our class at Patchogue High School and about this guy Sean Patrick Bradford who I had met again in Paris last year and more recently I had been and was still  mourning the death of George Kamenov who had been a Bulgarian psychoanalyst who had spend much of his life outside of Bulgaria and when he had gone back to Bulgaria it was to study the curious behavior of the guards and  the prisoners in the Communist concentration camps which had continued to exist in Bulgaria up into the  early 1980s which is hard to believe but it was not hard for Karolin to believe in any of this as she had met her stepsister when that now middle aged woman had come to Edison, New  Jersey from Estonia a week after their father had died and who smelled of someplace where… she did not have the words for the… but wanted this woman to go away as soon as possible while at the same time…
Could it be believed I had wanted to talk with Pete Phlite about a lot of such things as I was still wondering if it was possible to talk  and hope my interlocutor who maybe did not even know where Bulgaria or Estonia were on the map but knew that Paris at least was in France and could he be found to have an interest in this telling while I was also interested in talking about someone who had gone to high school with Al Wells and me at Patchogue High School and who had not really been back to Patchogue after our parents had died?