Friday, July 14, 2006

Big Men Speaking to Little Men by Philip Fried, Salmon Poetry,Cliffs of Moheer, Country Clare, Ireland. pages. 12.99 Eurodollars.

Review by Hugh Fox.

Let me start off with the title, Big Men Speaking to LittleMen. What Fried has done here is to take ALL-HISTORY, ALL-ART, ALLLITERATURE and somehow relate it to our Yankee-Gringo Here and Now. So get ready for a long swim in the ocean of World Culture. And because of Fried's larger cultural overview, his comments on the contemporary scene have a lot more impact and power. As in this poem Mauvaise FoiĆ¢ (Bad Faith):

"We are the tardy witnesses, but not the angels, of history. For us the grandeur is summoned and buttressed by a faith in facts,the losses religiously noted. We travelwith a bad conscience, as necessary as passport and money, a nagging ache,like a sensitive tooth the tongue worries.And everywhere we go the chairsworship in the empty cathedrals."(p.47)

He can't even get dressed without living through all-history:

"Naked I dream of clothing's prehistory, The hats that were given by gods to showMastery; a numinous aura, with plumes,Or crowns that were horns, and the long sleeves. Devised by the mountain folk who carried ,The lofty cold so close to their skin."(Getting Dressed, p.87)

In the midst of all this playgrounding around, though, there is a powerful message that contemporary Americans, by restricting and limiting themselves in terms of ALL-CULTURE, are losing all the refinements and extras that go with life on planet Earth and beyond:

"In a patina of green oxide with the world's heartbeat in his hair....the bodiless dance is always beginning...not even dust of our dust survivesthe death of worldsbut ecstasy,snippet in a teeming void,a curl of possibility,a tickling on the lip of Nothing....worlds are born with the lilt of a hair."(Dancing Shiva, p.28)

What you come away with after reading through Fried is that weare tiny, so lost in time and culture that we are barely here at all, and the only thing that makes any sense isn't any form of negativity, but an enthusiastic rushing into life/experience. It's amazing how Fried can take a golf-course image and turn into a sermon about cosmological existentialism:

"God comes along with the caddy cart and ah those charmed holes when the world is down to grapefruit size. I mean the whole juicy universe, no wonder our heavens are fitting better into the children's unborn pocket slater when one of them hands you a lovely marble it's hard with loss and inward with bubbles of constellations that tickle us as we lie on the greens supineon summer nights, a thoughtful bladeof grass in our teeth as we take in the bigness."
(Say It Happens, pp.60-61)
Not a book to browse through but meditate through like St.Augustine's Confessions.

Hugh Fox/Ibbetson Update/July 2006. Hugh Fox is the author of "Way, Way Off the Road"

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