The Nietsche Beardsley Homer Homer Simpson Riff. I wanna call it but people will think I’m an idiot.

November 24, 2008 at 6:11 pm | Posted in poetry, writing | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

oh no, not mr N again
all that knowing and noh-ing
and nodding, the truth in some
half-ironical smile beneath the most
outrageous of moustachios
the twinkle in his eye distracting
from the spot of blood in his elegant

meanwhile Beardsley re-invents the arabesque
for its own sake wherein the Sumerians
found the first written language,

everything describes itself
perfectly, so why
poetry Homer.

What shall we do with these three long hairs?
I vote the comb-over.

(I should put a link here to My Mental Milkcrate’s piece called Three Lines Free which was partly the inspiration for this piece. Jess is a great writer.)


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  1. Somewhat ambiguous, yet strikingly powerful. Yes?
    Somewhat ambiguous, can’t argue with that, Brad. It’s important I think to hang onto a joy in the language but I’m pretty sure there’s an idea in there somewhere, I hope. Maybe it’s just a drawing of three lines, three linked portraits blurred together to make a fourth which might be me looking slightly askew at myself cos I’m tiring of the obvious self-portrait. What are you up to?

  2. I reckon there are quite a few ideas wrapped up in here, Paul. I’m not at all familiar with Beardsley but after a short bit of research, I made a couple of amateurish connections. First, between the decadence that seems to be implied in arabesque art, and the decadence that Nietzsche predicted would lead to complete nihilism and the necessary revaluation of all values. I think Nietzsche might argue that nihilism can’t be overcome until we stop ‘combing over’ the problem. That is, our values are incapable of providing a truly constructive aim. So, we hold on to our values and self-impose ambiguity. Nietzsche’s solution? The Will to Power. The only thing that has any value in life is the degree of power. That leads to my second connection with the spot of blood on Nietzsche’s kerchief. Is it his own blood, drawn by another, for which he seeks recourse? Or is it the blood of another who stands in the way. Violence may be necessary if it means that we can reclaim our power, our autonomy or whatever from the twin constraints of morality and religion. But there’s an ambiguity there too, I think. Are personal considerations defining the aim, or is it the eventual liberation of mankind?
    Finally then, Why poetry? Should poetry laud the values that have constrained humanity for 2 millenia? Or, should it instead seek to inspire new definitions?
    Anyway, I hope I haven’t butchered either yourself or Nietzsche in my thought processes. You have certainly kept me entertained for a few hours. Since I can’t make this comment self-destruct, please feel free to do so on my behalf. 😉
    Hah tick tick… What a fantastical analysis, thanks Brad. You certainly didn’t butcher me and Mr N has been dead so long he’s up for butchering, but I don’t think you did that either. I have been reading a lot of contemporary poetry written by American intellectuals famous for being the first blogging poets, Ron Silliman, K. Silem Mohammad and so on. This was kind of a raspberry/flarf in their general direction too, I think.

  3. Homer’s famous comb-over. Very good!


    Homer: Lisa you like Homework, could you fill out this form for me?
    Lisa: Well, alright… If you listen to the poem I just wrote
    Homer: D’oh! Okay.
    Lisa: I had a cat named snowball, she died, she died / mom said she was sleeping, she lied, she lied! / Why oh why is my cat dead, couldn’t that chrysler hit me instead?… I had a hampster named Snuffy, he died…
    Homer: No deal!
    [from The Simpsons Season Three]
    Haha, cool. Layers of reference. They hide literature in the TV, I hide them in literature. Perhaps a little old fashioned pop culture post modern, but still a fun idea, I think. Thanks, Phil.

  4. tag: tiring of the self portrait.
    hmm. haha. this was really fun to read. you should also tag it that, reading for fun!
    Cool, Thanks Sumedh. I might do that.

  5. I can certainly hear this in Homer Simpson’s voice…
    Juliet, you’re back! How was the trip?

  6. i always thought homer should cut them to the quick
    Yes, some of his epic poems were a bit long and could have used a good edit, I agree.

  7. I vote for a plait.

    with a ribbon.
    Haha, a pink one no doubt.

  8. This is a riot! Thanks for making me chuckle!
    You’re most welcome.

  9. I love the shock of the last two lines — among other things.
    Thankyou, Ms Squirrel.

  10. bart nekkid is up next. i missed you!
    Woohoo, I missed you too,

  11. ‘The truth in some half-ironical smile’ just says it all. So good.

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