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DONALD WESLING DECEMBER 1973: READING THE LONDON PAPERS Phencyelidine, or 'angel dust,' a drug, Distorts your sense of self. You feel two inches high, Tom-Thumb or bug, Huge brain inside an elf, Or flea-soul (known because Blake drew his mug). Part-wrench is common—tongue gorges stuffing mouth, Toe turns a sentient boulder— But utter shrink or stretch means danger: truth, Or death. Above my shoulder Doorknobs ascend!—: An oversimple myth. Rather this addict's furniture and house Diminish, his world in scale To the last thread but globally enclosed Inside a towering jail Or castle's dollhouse, fearing space, exposed. Abnormal; yet we've lived an undrugged season With tough news, more convinced The distant collectivities for reason Of state or oil rule events. Now its December and they've put the squeeze on. Delusive truth of 'angel dust' reveals Itself like history. The corporations, bosses, shaikhs, do deals Which we demystify: We watch their profits as we chock our wheels. The vacant office-block receives a ration To keep its walls the warmer, While old East-Enders on diminished pensions Die of hypothermia: There is, we know, a syntax of relation. Rotas of power-cuts, reduced late-night TV, The petrol ration books, Strikes, shortages—just as a "spending spree" In Paris/London mocks Recession withfoie gras, but anxiously. There is a system of these contradictions: The hand against the head: One head against another, as when Nixon Is quoted having said {Observer, date the 23rd, page 6): "I can go into my office and pick up the telephone, and in 25 minutes 7 million people will be dead." More figures: head against the hands: they laid 400 thousand men And- women off their jobs, and yet parlayed Up stocks on the markets ten Full points: the whole against the parts today, December 27th. Last week the parts Went wild against the wholes With London letter bombs and murder plots In Spain and hijack fools From Palestine (the dead strapped to their seats). Late Auden left unsaid for good, from "Spain," "The necessary murder," That Thirties phrase. And can I here complain That he expunged his ardor? Has the objective situation changed? Is any murder necessary? Thank you, Thank you, I can say Just barely to those Basques who hating Franco Got mines from IRA And car-bombed Spain's Premier, Carrero Blanco. Effects wear off, and 'angel dust' perception Unstitches now its texture Of oppositions. Diffidence, deception Again mask social structure With trivia of culture, mere collection: Suspended solids in the river Ebbw; Old Vic does Marxist work, "The Party"; Porn Bill; Troilist wants a couple; Girl singer at the dock For keeping prostitutes; Train Crash Rails Rubble. A diver finds a gold bar in its wrapping Of sludge and diamonds; And from Thames mud the Tubifex come creeping, Irrelevant, this month, Those red worms leaping from Westminster to Wapping. ON HEARING THE HAND-BELL RINGERS FROM THURLSTONE, YORKSHIRE AT A CHURCH IN PACIFIC BEACH, CALIFORNIA "The unanimity and tidiness of the 'attack' (the initiation of the sound) and the absence of blurred muddiness": The Program Note "Cubley Brook," their signature tune, the melody carried by the treble bells, the 'dampened' bass and tenor sections doubling-up the sound, an 'after-glow,' purling a gentle place-affection for Cubley Brook, 'the name of a local beauty spot.' The larger brass bells, lifted six inches and struck against the upper rim, can be seen to be rung but seem unheard, as though assisting by swirls of sheer resonance, enriching, pursuing the 'attack.' This ecstatic yet ordinary excellence at a minor art opens out a pallid landscape in the waist of England between York and Manchester, flat and unmemorable, oolite, limestone, bracken, and a brook. Yet the ringers are not countrymen, foster no pastoral phoniness. These are workers in clay and steel, rolling steel for razors, inspecting clay pipes, plastering, welding, dairy farming, clerking and baking. 10 Industrial Sheffield gives a livelihood, and then they have the bells twice weekly, an excellence, a recreation, for them 'a gloriously democratic institution.' Exempt from language, these unperplexing bells tease out the gaudiness of sound only to chasten sound by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 8-12
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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