Smuggling the Great Attractor

time bandits

The image is cut from the 1985 film Time Bandits, dir. by Terry Gilliam. I once watched most of the movie and have since forgotten everything that “happened,” which feels appropriate and is, for the moment, a serendipitous amnesia. Why? Because if I had to guess—and I do—I’d guess that the ship pictured above is a smuggler’s vessel, that the head/mind is “the Great Attractor,” and that the pyramid puncturing the grid is the immaculate house of archetypes. Here’s a story:

The ship has made off with the mind (hence “Smuggling the Great Attractor”) and is heading for the house of archetypes. What is beyond the aerial grid? Okay, it’s not much of a story (yet) but it’s a decent question:

Does a [precise awareness] of form inhibit the poet’s instinct(s)? Or does a precise awareness of form liberate the poet’s instinct(s)? I am trying to get at the space between Robert Bly’s Deep Image and Ezra Pound’s Imagism. What belongs to which? For Deep Image, “psychic energy”; for Imagism, “luminous detail.” From Bly:

Let’s imagine a poem as if it were an animal. When animals run, they have considerable flowing rhythms. Also they have bodies. An image is simply a body where psychic energy is free to move around. Psychic energy can’t move well in a non-image statement.¹

And from Pound:

Don’t imagine that a thing will “go” in verse just because it’s too dull to go in prose.²

Note that both statements hinge upon the call to “imagine.” Bly asks us to turn a poem into an animal. Pound tells us (in a backwards sort of way) to make a thing move. Is Bly’s animal-image more alive than Pound’s going-thing? Is it silly of me to suggest that where Pound sees a vortex Bly sees a tornado?

Poetry is concerned with semantics insomuch as a made thing is made up of many things. Poetry is concerned with rhetoric insomuch as an impression is a thing to make. If poetry is a making—which, etymologically, it most purely is—what is the poet—the one possessed of the poetry—trying to make? Or is the object secondary to the movement which formulates it?

I cannot find the exact poem-idea I’m looking for now—it has to do with (Mary Oliver?) sensing the muse and chasing herself up a hill… The notion that a poem is the result of a race between the so-called muse and the poet. Do you get to the desk in time to make meaning? Or does the meaning arrive first and ultimately escape? Or:

Is the race—the exquisite movement, the moment’s muscle—the point of it all? Let’s say Robert Bly’s animal is the poet’s instinct and Ezra Pound’s “go” is the poet’s instinct. What sort of form liberates the instinct? It seems we human beings have hands. Hands for moving and holding. Hands for handling. Each of my fingers finds a little letter and, in agreement with gravity, forces it down for an instant. Voila! Posture.

To sit with one’s back straight is to stretch out the natural curve of one’s spine—there is no eliminating the curve, no, there is unfolding. The flower unfurls, beckoning, and shrivels, beckoned. And between the two acts is nothing but movement. The flower does not stop so it can be called a flower. It flowers. Yes. Words that end in -er. Water. Smuggler. Integer:

A thing complete in itself.

Such is the archetype, available to recurrence, an insistence beyond time (or within it). So the poet steals away with the Great Attractor, invested with archetypes, in search of where to hide them. The poet builds a house without walls and hides the poem in the walls.

¹ Bly, Robert. A Gathering of Men. [videocassette] With Bill Moyers. Dir. Wayne Ewing. Cooper Station, NY: Mystic Fire Video, 1991. via Bushell, Kevin. “Leaping Into the Unknown: The Poetics of Robert Bly’s Deep Image.” Modern American Poetry < >. 29 Sept. 2015

² Pound, Ezra. “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste.” March 1913. Poetry Magazine < >. 5 October 2015