Nail Chiodo

Loud in War

Canto XI

Left alone yet again to his own vices and devices
(And wizened to the fact that modern love
Smiles only upon them that specializes),
Lud decided to stay on the market in case anyone
Particular still required his special offices.
By way of promotion he went galavanting,
Spent a vintage year making passes in passing,
Sliding behind curtains in the great metropolis
To lend a hand to silken thighs, to labia a kiss.
Yet, for all the healthy sweating and panting,
Closer scrutiny refused to induce further promise.
Just as misogyny is a social disease,
Philogyny is a form of social therapy,
One whose successes and failures
Can only be measured concretely,
In the manner of those of the medical sciences;
The origin of the “pathologies” it is concerned with
Never lies in the women who are the object of empathy
But always in the relation of the latter to myth,
The basic functional unit of human society1;
And it is always the myth that choses the man, finally,
Not vice versa. (Here again we begin to see
How one may feel pain in the body of another person2

And the headache that can be hid in a pretty face.)
Forced thus to proceed on a more subtle pretence,
To try to flush out a tale hungry enough for him,
Lud withdrew from the scene, myth trailing near.
A century-old paradigm then earned our allegiance:
Never was there concert in the western hemisphere
As when a girl undertook a Jamesian mission.
Jeanne Marie had come on the trail of Daisy Miller
As upon the green ray of a setting Sun
From le beau pays sans merci3 to the motherland
Of evening; and Lud, who knew a Lady when he saw one,
Was there to greet her as behooved the embassy.
Jeannie was rather unique in her genre
And in her attributes seemed almost to parody
The type of the heroine in that classic story:
She had all the accoutrements of the “luxury mammal”4
Patina of humanistic culture, body to outstrip
Most any centre-fold, charm, savoir-faire—
And she wasn’t even the daughter of a millionaire!
Common influences seemed never to have got a grip
On the lass, who appeared quasi impervious
To traditional forms of intangible bondage,
To any impinging of family pressure,
Or of other personalities on her own5
She had in mind something more perilous …
Would call reality’s bluff at her leisure …
And paint—in a form of narrative poetry6
Probative pictures of the life she was shown.
Ever since Michelangelo single-handedly
Placed God at Man’s finger tip7
, hubris of this sort
Has been the staple spiritual resource
Of all true lovers, philosophers, and artists,
Of all those, that is, who in their daily lives
Exercise a creative awareness.
The other condition of such proclivity, of course,
Is constant application and the leviathan patience
That it entails—a quality Jeanne Marie
Possessed as well, but in no mean measure
Also demanded: the filly, in fact, had quite a temper
And Lud had to be a bit of a filly-buster
Just to get off the ground with her.
It was not long, however, before the two embarked
On what was to become a seven-year tour de force
That spanned the Atlantic and took stark
Census of Occidental sensibility.
Once, while strolling casually close to the Mouth
Of Truth8
enlaced in each other’s arms,
The Sun cast their shadow on the ground
In such a way as made them seem like one rough
Beast out of Spiritus Mundi, with the mane
And body of a lion, the profile of a man,
That moved its slow thighs9
and appeared to yeast
At the eyes and mouth for Truth and Judgement.
If they had seen—I don’t know—a duckie
Or a horsie10
, it would have been more in keeping
With the mentality hegemonic in those decades;
But the miseries of the west were misery
To them, and precluded the restful glade.
Strain of Truth and Judgement proved
Upon the pulses11
grew unbearable
In the end: questions ethical and of etiquette
Invaded bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette;
Antipodal conceptions of womanhood
And fatherhood, of motherhood
And manhood, stole the shew from the daily
Brood, made mockery of all attempt
At dialogue and claim to reason.
Whether it was the Beast, finally, that tore
The two asunder, or they who quartered it,
Is implicitly impossible to know. To be sure,
Lud felt compelled to carry out a radical
Thought auto-lobotomy experiment;
While Jeanne Marie went east, to seek
The sunya12 whence all things spring—
The result being that he became a liberal,
She a master of that suppleness
So particular to dry lacquer technique13

  1. cf. Northrop Frye, The Double Vision (1991).

  2. cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue and the Brown Books (1935).

  3. Fr. “the beautiful country without mercy”, cf. John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci and The Eve of St. Agnes, 291-292.

  4. cf. Antonio Gramsci, “Americanism and Fordism”, in The Prison Notebooks (1936)

  5. cf. Ezra Pound on Henry James.

  6. cf. Simonides of Ceos
    ART<br/>Painting is
    silent poetry,
    painting’s talk.

  7. cf. Michelangelo, The Creation of Man, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.

  8. cf. the “Mouth of Truth” at S. Maria in Cosmedin, in Rome.

  9. cf. W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming; “Spiritus Mundi”: the “Great Memory.

  10. Charles Schultz, Peanuts.

  11. cf. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690).

  12. Sanskrit, “the Emptiness” or “the Nothing”.

  13. a suppleness which can be particularly appreciated in the statue of Subodai (Subhuti in Sanskrit), the one among Buddha’s Ten Great Disciples who had most penetrated the consciousness of ku (Japanese for sunya); Temple of Kofukuji, Japan.

Canto XII