Tuesday, September 09, 2008

John Ashbery's "Ghost Riders of the Moon" (Commonplace Book))

The title made me think of comic books, and then so did the final lines:

We collected
them after all for their unique
indifference to each other and to the circus
that houses us all, and for their collectibility  --
that, and their tendency to fall apart. 

Check that great line break separating "circus" from "that houses us all" so that for a minute you think he literally means a circus. And check the near tautology of the second of the three reasons: "we collected them ... for their collectibility." I particularly like the tension between permanence and entropy in the collection: we collect things (like comics) so that they will be kept safe and not fall apart, and we collect them because they have some kind of permanent value to us -- those stories last forever somehow -- but here it seems more like we collect because we like the fact that their falling apart is inevitable. We like things that fall apart in the end. 

I am really embracing the idea that I can just get on the blog with unfinished ideas. 


frank said...

Hmm. When you start talking shared universes, the line about "their unique indifference to each other stands out." (Why doesn't Supes call the JLA everytime he needs help, or why doesn't he just track down all of Bats' more street-level rogues?)

And continuity has a "tendency to fall apart" when fanmen read every book and fall in love with having to know where everything fits.

Marc Caputo said...

I'm really glad that you threw in that last line; what keeps me from updating my blog more often is the sense that I have to be so complete.