Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Palimpsest of My Peregrinations

I discovered the word "palimpsest" while reading Thomas De Quincey, whom I must have revered as the original Timothy "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out" Leary. I gauzily recall writing a term paper about (and mind-alteringly-inspired by) the author of "Confessions of an English Opium Eater." The De Quincey-inspired additives made for a slow-motion ambient hum that night long ago, but a more difficult writing journey. With respect to the submitted term paper, you likely could've echoed Truman Capote's famous critique of Jack Kerouac (incidentally verified in Ralph Keyes's The Quote Verifier) that it:

"isn't writing at all -- it's typing"

...a rough criticism which I formerly would have been quick to apply to this phenomenon called blogging, but you brilliant folks out there have proved otherwise, demonstrating daily your huge talents as members of the Royal Society of Aeolistic Ephemerists.

Where was I? Where are any of us?

That's the point of this post: the palimpsest of my peregrinations.

I think of a palimpsest as of one of those plastic slates we had as kids, the ones you write on with a tiny wooden stylus, the words fading almost immediately, then gone with a lift of the plastic sheet, ready for another round of text, or scribbling.

De Quincey (in his Suspiria de Profundis of 1845) observed:

"What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?"

My peregrinations: my wanderings abroad, with or without grins. (Will I meet a humorous priest from rural France by the name of Pere Grination?)

It seems our foreign policy (palatine palaver), if not our history, is written on a palimpsest. Don't we ever learn? Maybe every nation's history is so written. And every person's history, too, to a degree, eh? (I see that "scraped" and "rubbed again" are among the Greek origins of the word palimpsest. Will it all ever be rubbed smooth again? Will there be a new cable TV show titled "Palimpsest My Car"?)

What will I find in my impending journey? What druidic-celtic-christian spell will enchant me, from the verdant or barren terrain of Ireland or its people?

These words of T.S. Eliot, from "Little Gidding" (1942), are quoted so often they may strike you as a cliche, but obviously none of us is beyond a little obviousness:

"We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time."

(I know, I know, if I were a true and accomplished blogger I'd enhance this with links and images galore. Images Galore? Must be the sister of James Bond's ol' flame, Pussy Galore.)


Anonymous said...

Ya know what..... out of that whole blasted thing you wrote the only danged word I understood was ...... "pussy".

I should buy me one of them there dictionary book things.

Later Yall....

mist1 said...

Damn. Melon beat me to it.

Glamourpuss said...

Pawlie, in answer to your musings on foreign policy and the works of man, I offer you Ozymandias. De Quincey is Timothy Leary to P.B. Shelley's Ken Kesey. I think the analogy holds up...

I would have eloped with him given half a chance, whether I would have go on to write one of the greatest novels in English, I cannot say.

Anonymous said...

I am a butthole and I am rolling it along... You have been TAGGED.

the ephemerist said...

MC, M_1,
"Pussy" is the only thing I don't understand, after all these years. HAR.
And Byron is who, Mick Jagger, eh? Yours, Frank N. Stein.
Am I too klutzy to do this tag thang? I'll try it, I'll try it (do I in turn have to tag someone. Help.)

ODAT said...

One of my favorites! "......And know the place for the first time."
I wish I could live each day like that! I try!

shadow falcon said...

I never liked Eliot.

palimpsest - I guess a blog could be considered one. But by definition it has to be scribed with ones own hands, quill and ink...

meloncutter said...

Yup... you get to do a post and then I guess you have to pass it along. This was my first experience of being tagged too.

Glamourpuss said...

Now I'm all confused! If Byron is Mick Jagger, that has to make Shelley Keith Richards, which would make me want to be whom..? Marianne Faithfull?! God, please, no - I don't even like Mars bars...