Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

The Reader Became the Book

I’ve been haunted by a poem of Wallace Stevens for a longtime. His words in this poem speak to me in a way that makes me listen and forces to marvel.

And yet there is something philosophical, hermeneutic or at least poetically-pointing-out about what he says and evokes, and ultimately, what he is proposing…beyond…between…with “us”…

The words tie the reader into images that absorb in all being as the image, as the reader, as me, and as you, reading. Reading as being the pulling together of the poet writing and the words on the page, the emotional images on the page…Reader becoming the book. The Reader being all that is, all that can be that which is in the act of reading…The world becoming an emotion, calm; a house, the house, my house becoming a state, a quiet, a stillness, a waiting stop. And more than anything there is the echo of the flesh–leaning there, leaning over the book: reader. The echo bounces farther into fleshiness as the poet in his striving with stone words and fleshy pictures crafts a passing, a waiting, a going-on to us, as expectant and all holding readers.

Without saying more, before my words become confused with his words or with the words, let us listen to Wallace’s words that remind us of what to listen to, to look for and be for:

The house was quiet and the world was calm The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom the book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.