Jonathan Edwards/Odalisque: a decoupage (1993)


Sometimes, only mentioning a single word caused my heart to burn within me//The sweetest joys and delights I have experienced//I have often since had not only a conviction/but a delightful conviction//exceedingly pleasant, bright, and sweet//I felt a burning desire//I had an eager thirsting//a more constant delight and pleasure//

//I found no books so delightful to me, as those that treated of these subjects. Those words Cant. II 1, used to be abundantly with me, I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lilly of the valleys. The words seemed to me, sweetly to represent the loveliness and beauty of Jesus Christ.


(forlornly) I never loved a dear gazelle but it was sure to…
            (Gazelles are leaping, feeding on the mountains. Near are lakes. Round their shores file shadows black of cedargroves. Aroma rises, a strong hairgrowth of resin. It burns, the orient, a sky of sapphire, cleft by the bronze flight of eagles. Under it lies the womancity, nude, white, still, cool in luxury. A fountain murmurs among domask roses. Mammoth roses murmur of scarlet winegrapes. A wine of shame, lust, blood exudes, strangely murmuring.)


(murmuring singsong with the music, her odalisk lips lusciously smeared with salve of swinefat and rosewater) Schorach ani wenowach, benoith Hierushaloim. (Joyce,Ulysses, 15: 1322-34)

The whole books of Canticles used to be pleasant to me, and I used to be much in reading it, about that time; and found, from time to time, an inward sweetness, that would carry me away, in my contemplations

wrapt and swallowed up in God//according to his sovereign pleasure//I might not enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven, and as it were swallowed up in him for ever// which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness and ravishment to the soul//the excellent fullness of Christ//

…but if experience precisely means a relation with the absolutely other, that is, with what always overflows thought, the relation with infinity accomplishes experience in the fullest sense of the word. (Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 25)

always accompanied with ardency of spirit; and inward strugglings and breathings, and moanings that cannot be uttered, to be emptied of myself, and swallowed up in Christ//

To be lost, to capsize. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 46)

…the sky, the same sky, suddenly open, absolutely black and absolutely empty, revealing… such an absence that all has since always and forever been lost

therein is affirmed and dissolved the vertiginous knowledge that nothing what there is, and first of all nothing beyond. The unexpected aspect of this scene (its interminable feature) is the feeling of happiness that straightaway submerges the child, the ravaging joy to which he can bear witness only by tears, an endless flood of tears.

My heart panted after this, to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be ALL, that I might becomes as a little child//I very often think with sweetness, and longings, and pantings of my soul, of being a little child//

//I very frequently used to retire into a solitary place//I had a sweet and refreshing season, walking alone in the fields//I rode out into the woods for my health//being alone in the mountains, or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind//I know not how to express//

Possession by a god, enthusiasm, is not the irrational, but the end of the solitary… or inward thought, the beginning of a true experience of the new and the noumenon – already Desire. (Levinas, 50)

I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated//

Inconsolable solitude. The motionless disaster which nevertheless approaches.(Blanchot, 10)

God, in the communications of his Holy Spirit, has appeared as an infinite fountain of divine glory and sweetness, being full, and sufficient to fill and satisfy the soul; pouring forth itself in sweet communications, like the sun in its glory sweetly and pleasantly diffusing light and life//a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul, that I know not how to express//I was almost constantly in ejaculatory prayer, wherever I was//

And so it served us night after night, till no one heeded it but to wonder at it. Mysteriously jetted into the clear moonlight, or starlight, as the case might be; disappearing again for one whole day, or two days, or three; and somehow seeming at every distinct repetition to be advancing still further and further in our van, this solitary jet seemed forever alluring us on. (Moby-Dick, LI)

//My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable and swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or mountain over my head//

…two and two there floated in my inmost soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air.(Moby-Dick, I)

//my wickedness, I look like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell//

I am black but comely, o ye daughters of Jerusalem. (Song of Songs, I, v)

Pseudo-Sa’adya, an anonymous Jewish commentator of the tenth century, characterized the Song of Songs as a “lock to which the key has been lost” (Daniel Boyarin, “The Song of Songs: Lock or Key?” in Regina Schwartz (ed) The Book and the Text, Oxford: Blackwell, 1990, p. 214)

“I was interrupted by a visit by Mr. Thorow.” (Hawthorne)

“Thoreau got me through Lake George. He’s a comforter. His diaries are full of eccentricities and writing improvisations; at the same time they are a form of listening to you.” (Susan Howe)

Thoreau: “I have thoughts, as I walk, on some subject that is running in my head, but all their pertinence seems gone before I can get home to set them down. The most valuable thoughts which I entertain are anything but what I thought” (Journal 1 March 1860)

Walden: Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written. It is not enough even to be able to speak the language of that nation by which they are written, for there is a memorable interval between the spoken and the written language, the language heard and the language read. The one is commonly transitory, a sound, a tongue, a dialect merely, almost brutish, and we learn it unconsciously, like the brutes, of our mothers. The other is the maturity and experience of that; if that is our mother tongue, this is our father tongue, a reserved and select expression, too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak. (III,3)

DH Lawrence Studies in Classic American Literature “Fenimore Cooper’s White Novels: “A curious thing about the Spirit of Place is the fact that no place exerts its full influence upon a new-comer until the old inhabitant is dead or absorbed. So America. While the Red Indian existed in fairly large numbers, the new colonials were in a great measure immune from the daimon, or demon, of America. The moment the last nuclei of Red life break up in America, then the white men will have to reckon with the full force of the demon of the continent… The desire to extirpate the Indian. And the contradictory desire to glorify him. Both are rampant still, today.”

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
The frontiers are not east or west, north or south, but wherever a man fronts a fact, though that fact be his neighbor, there is an unsettled wilderness between him and Canada, between him and it. Let him build himself a log-house with the bark on where he is, fronting IT, and wage there an Old French war for seven or seventy years, with Indians and Rangers, or whatever else may come between him and the reality, and save his scalp if he can. (304)

The talent of composition is very dangerous – the striking out the heart of life at a blow, as the Indian takes off a scalp. I feel as if my life had grown more outward when I can express it. (329)

Poetry is the mysticism of mankind. (328)