Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What Choices

Let me ask, would you rather have your children see the Mona Lisa or Andy Warhol? Would you rather have your children listen to Bach or Prince? Would you rather have your children eat at a Michelin three star restaurant or Lucky Charms breakfast cereal? Would you rather have your children visit the Louvre or Graceland? Would you rather have your children learn astronomy or astrology? Now why shouldn’t your choice of literature for them be consistent with those choices?

The above? Iyov's silly taunt of David Ker, whom he calls a "a cultural Philistine."

Below is a reply (the last 4th of it anyway) from Anne Carson, who'd written her translation of a Bible book for Glass, Irony, and God, a Carson book:

Book of Isaiah


When Isaiah came back in from the desert centuries had passed.

There was nothing left of Isaiah but a big forehead.

The forehead went rolling around the nation and spoke to people

. . . who lept to their feet

and fled.

If the nation had taken Isaiah to court he could have proven his righteousness.

But they met in secret and voted to cut him off.

Shepherds! Chosen ones! Skinny dogs! Blood of a dog! Watchmen

. . . all! said Isaiah.

Isaiah withdrew to the Branch.

It was a blue winter evening, the cold bit like a wire.

Isaiah laid his forehead on the ground.

God arrived.

Why do the righteous suffer? said Isaiah.

Bellings of cold washed down the Branch.

Notice whenever God addresses Isaiah in a feminine singular verb

. . . something dazzling is

about to happen.

Isaiah what do you know about women? asked God.

Down Isaiah’s nostrils bounced woman words.

Blush. Stink. Wife. Fig. Sorceress—

God nodded.

Isaiah go home and get some sleep, said God.

Isaiah went home, slept, woke again.

Isaiah felt sensation below the neck, it was a silk and bitter sensation.

Isaiah looked down.

It was milk forcing the nipples open.

Isaiah was more than whole.

I am not with you I am in you, said the muffled white voice of God.

Isaiah sank to a kneeling position.

New pain! said Isaiah.

New contract! said God.

Isaiah lifted his arms, milk poured out his breasts.

Isaiah watched the milk pour like strings.

It poured up the Branch and across history and down into people’s

. . . lives and time.

The milk made Isaiah forget about righteousness.

As he fed the mild to small birds and animals Isaiah thought only

. . . about their little lips.

God meanwhile continued to think about male and female.

After all there are two words for righteousness, Isaiah could not be

. . . expected to untie this

hard knot himself.

First the masculine word TSDQ, a bolt of justice that splits the oak in

. . . two.

Then in the empty muscle of the wood, mushrooms and maggots and

. . . monkeys set up a livelihood:

here is (the feminine word) TSDQH.

God grave the two words on Isaiah’s palms.

God left it at that.

And although it is true Isaiah’s prophecies continued to feature

. . . eunuch cylinders and

clickfoot woman shame.

And although it is true Isaiah himself knew several wives and begot a

. . . bastard son.

Still some nights through his dreams slipped a river of milk.

A river of silver, a river of pity.

He slept, the asters in the garden unloaded their red thunder into the dark.


Esteban Vázquez said...

Iyov is right, but I guess this means I'm half-cultural philistine, because with the exception of the "astronomy vs. astrology" bit, I would want my children to experience both/and of all of the above. I mean, even St Paul (Simon) went to Graceland!

J. K. Gayle said...

c'mon, claim the whole thing: St Ann (Carson) says you're bi-cultural philistine, Stefan. (St Paul thinks he's a Libra). And may you have many children, as many as you want, to teach to be as cultured.