Visions 5: Deals


Does the Elegiac Protagonist deal? One of the mysteries attendant upon the Cheltenham Elegies is this— the Elegiac Protagonist is surrounded by dealers and dealing energy, and the extent of his participation in the deals around him seems to vary from elegy to elegy. Dealer or not, the Elegiac Protagonist’s ambiguous participation in dealing rituals makes clear he is no naïf in the world, and never was. He knows what it means to be Outside— outside the law, outside acceptable social norms and societal bounds, outside the narratives and mythologies which, from the Academy to the media, tell us how human lives should be lived and run. Old York Road at midnight is outside; so, also, is the curb in 410:

No one who was there that night, high,
hasn’t been abased. Wisdom has its
palaces that look more like park benches.
Youth’s privilege is to be in love with
life. I was in love with life that night, too—
the crush of strange kids in an Abington
house, movements towards more weed.
We sat on a curb and planned more
mischief. The Universe had some mischief
planned for us, too. For those of us who
live on the curb and nowhere else—  a requiem.

Whether a dealer or an accessory to dealers, the Elegiac Protagonist has a profound sense of his own status outside an interior that, from Cheltenham on out, may or may not even exist. The dichotomous energy between inside and outside is active in the Gyan chap— the Elegies configure and represent an eternal outside, frozen and static, individual consciousness unsheltered; while the Odes configure and represent an eternal inside, frozen-in-fertility, individual consciousness in relation to music and its synecdoches. Thus, the reader response model to the Gyan chap— through the outside of the Elegies to the inside of the Odes and back again— has a hinge to the potentiality for destabilizing consciousness towards redefinitions of literary interiors and exteriors, transcendentalism and phenomenology, music and drama moving in and out of each other’s territory. The cumulative effect can be both spectacular and phantasmagoric. As to what necessitates a collision between these dichotomies— the collision may not be considered a literary necessity, but (like music itself) an illuminating luxury, which (also like music) configures a transcendental, abstract reality, posited above standardized, singular textuality, in an autonomous, erogenous (fertile) space. How music and drama fertilize each other: music demonstrates for drama the pleasures of abstraction, while drama enacts for music the complex levels and interstices of the concrete. The music and drama inhering between the Elegies and Odes elucidate the irreconcilable differences between poetic approaches, while also elucidating the richness of the potentialities of serious poetry towards the creation of new aesthetic worlds and mind-scapes, negatively capable within themselves.