Notes: The Jade Episodes (Equations)('14)


Keats’ chiasmus with Equations: the schema of not-silence and not slow time (“wild ecstasy”) freezing into permanence in the Odal Cycle, and the mind’s perception of “frozen ecstasy,” is also predicated on virginity, and images of virginity— innocence and adolescence are preferred to adulthood. Equations takes and freezes, from “wild ecstasy,” images of adulthood, and adult consummations (“ravishings”). The polarity between the Odal Cycle and Equations, between unconsummated (“never canst thou kiss”) innocence and completed, consummated marriage/intercourse, with Equations itself standing as inscribed, ambiguously sentient Grecian Urn, lifts Equations over the constraints of Romanticism, Romantic sincerity/subjectivity, and into self-awareness as another kind of cycle, to see how the human mind can perceive/learn from text-frozen consummations, divested of their original heat/abandon (pipes, timbrels).

On hybridity, and what Equations/The Jade Episodes lack as prose poetry— the hyper-sensuality of Flaubert’s prose manifests intermittently, but never with the absolute/absolutized sense of glamour or “presence” which inheres in Flaubert— to bring this text to a place where the chiasmus between pornography and ontology does not descend into abstraction and (almost) evanescence, requires attention paid to tactility which the text responds to avidly, but (again) never with Flaubert’s graceful/foreboding sense of enchantment and surface/depth displacements, disappearances, and abrasions. My own prerogative, as author of the text, is to iterate the judgment that 80% of the requisite tactile presence manifests to lift the text authoritatively above an uncomfortable sense of being stranded in abstraction; to raise the text to the level of (say) Apparition Poems, more would need (to quote an American MFA commonplace) to be shown rather than told. Yet Equations, in trailblazing ontology-pornography (as a mode, perhaps, of textual “noir”), via cognition and meta-cognition, must manifest the accursed share of the told and not shown (truth/beauty, beauty/truth); the final antithesis of who Jade is, and protagonist’s sudden loss of rose-colored spectacles around “fullness” (or pregnancy with/of the immanent), must move the text towards its completion of an explicated dialectic to fulfill the text’s expectation horizon. The text as a prose/poetry hybrid, privileges itself to do these tricks, and the text’s status as “self-privileged” in its unique autonomy as mandala/cycle amounts (in a way) to Emma Bovary privileging herself to commit adultery (from Philadelphia this time); transgressing against the formal bounds of poetry and prose, with their individual, imperious demands, enacting (in semi-subterranean, “in utero” fashion) the rock music/pop culture archetypal armature of the “punk.”

The Jade Episodes do the same trick both for the unnamed protagonist and for the reader— loosening/unfastening the shackles of conventional romance/intercourse (thus the dictates of conventional pornography) towards the evanescence of purified ontological awareness of the Other. The employment of cocaine, both as a kind of psycho-affective divination tool and as a wedge into platonic transcendence, is relevant, because it effectively replaces one form/manner of artifice with another— sharpening individuals into processes of abstract/concrete individuation, and boundaries against the merely tactile. Because Jade and the protagonist are lovers physically too, and because Jade’s form/manner of hollowness is more ambiguously involved in understanding and reason (rather than Emma Bovary’s mere sensibility), she becomes (to borrow an assignation from Geoffrey Hartman’s Wordsworth criticism) a boundary figure for the protagonist, linking him to another, novel world: a torque on Wordsworth’s hunger-bitten girl. Her Otherness manifests its antithesis, and then the protagonist moves smoothly towards synthesis to complete the book’s dialectic. It is her sense of separate distinctness which does this; even if, through Jade and her drugs, we learn the ineluctable nature of artifice where verticality of consciousness and transcendence are concerned.