Thursday, June 15, 2006

6.15.06, Part 3: "Do Not Go Gentle . . ."

A note before the next installment of the exegesis, on almost invisible change.

Franky Scale: 6, three tough days. Not much to be said, though I have liked reading the comments of the past couple of days. Thanks.

There is a sign. A shocking sign, I found, just this morning of the Effects of It All. I left Salt Lake on Monday and didn't shave that morning since what's the point, I was just going to board a plane. Then Tuesday being infusion day, what's the point. And Wednesday was surprisingly unlike the other day-after-infusion days, in that it sucked more, so I skipped it again. The way many men seem to go grey is from the facial hair first, and with me too this is the case. No big deal, no big surprise. I've seen my facial hair become more salt-and-peppery starting, say, three years ago. A little here and a little there. When I shave every day, however, the progress is much less pronounced and up till now it's been what I would assume is normal. A few white hairs show up in my sideburns, also no surprise. But this morning when I looked in the mirror before shaving I saw the sign, not all over my face but definitely my entire chin — white! Not salt-and-pepper but all white. Whether it's the shock of so many drugs for nearly three months, the toxicity of the chemotherapy, or the emotional stress of the experience, whatever the reason there is a chin that's now totally white if were not to shave it. Not that it means much but it's strange and sudden none the less. Just passing on a little a.m. observation to you.

On the continued reading of the poem then.

Part 3: “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night,” In the Name of the Father

. . .

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

There is that line, “Curse, bless me now father with your fierce tears . . .”

I love this line, the way it extenuates and simultaneously deepens the sense or contradictory undertone in the poem, the internal rhymes, alliteration, rhythm, even a chiastic structure to the consonance (if you read only to comma like I’ve done, leaving “I pray” aside for now). What also draws me is a sick sense of trainwreck syndrome, the morbid curiosity or even psychic need some of us feel to watch the damn thing come off the tracks, smash and kill, possibly ignite, and then those inside . . . We can’t take our eyes off it because it demands our gaze, and we know this, but we must look. I feel similar about these lines that are the key and pivotal moment in Thomas’s poem — the entire piece is general, filled with truisms perhaps expressed uniquely or memorably, and then “Wham!” this line makes it uncomfortably personal. Is the phrase “uncomfortably personal” symptomatic of something? Of course it is. Why else would I be writing this . . . ?

Briefly reviewing the list of characters introduced before the crying father might be a valuable exercise. One after the other, we see the old, the wise, the wild, the grave; then we read “[a]nd you,” and realize the whole piece is directed to the speaker’s father. But those characters, we remember from a previous piece of this reading, they all represent would-be raging or failures or trying-too-lates. It makes one wonder where and why does the father fit in?

The poem itself withholds the father context and any backstory and yet obviously there is a separation, a hierarchy, a remove; the speaker and father exist on different planes of existence, on planes across one might identify but perhaps not empathize with the other emotionally: the father’s sad height, the child’s ambivalent prayer. Does the remove or the “height” suggest a Father of all, some patriarchal god-myth, is it a societal authority or what some call the Law or the-Name-of-the-Father, or does it suggest merely a child-father relationship that clearly has been strained and is now — through an immanent death — forced back into some proximity. In any event there is a contact across the hierarchy, a vertical move or attempted move. And what is the mood or tone, the sadness, what are the tears that are fierce? I want to open up the semantic possibilities of the poem, which means I won’t go into a biographical or psychologist reading of Dylan Thomas’s life, his young death or his father’s health problems; . . .

There are some answers to these questions that I would pose, answers I’d pose not questions, back through a psychoanalytic framework; I think there are enough hints in the text suggest what’s being sought, but I don’t want to post too much at the moment, so once again TBC . . . (and then on to the-Name-of-the-Father, the Nom-du-Père, next time).


Slarry said...

Hey Mr. Jones-- before I comment on the Dylan poem and your yet again, beautiful mind and writing, I first must say, that for the past few months I have been calling you THE EASTER BUNNY.
Now, come to find out that all of this time, with your new patch of facial hair, you are actually Santa Clause.
Hugs and kisses and all good wishes---
Sheri : )

Mr. Jones said...

Hm, I guess if don't shave for a few days now then I would actually look like the Easter Bunn, at least on my chin. But why the E.B.?

-Mr. J

tossing salads said...

yes bro, those bags of juice they give you, to drink to your health, or infuse you health?? many a person comes thru these doors nary a white and leave with many a white. would be very interesting to see you with white. just was looking at pics last night when you came to us. made my heart fill with such happiness at what you brought into our lives even then. your 3 adoring sisters gazing at you in wonderment. it has always been an honor to be your (oldest) sister. hopefully the weekend will find a higher FS. maybe if those american footballers will play better tomorrow it will help?? rest, regroup and refresh. didnt understand some of your blog, my mind is getting addled as i get older ;) but i love your words and love how you express them. take care of yourself, please.

Slarry said...

Hey Mr. Jones:
Did you get my email as to why THE EASTER BUNNY? I can't believe you could forget ... it was some of your most masterful writing from late last March.
You were explaining who you were going to question and be anrgy with about your poopy cancer diagnosis. And if you didn't believe in cheebus, you might as well just be angry with the Easter Bunny. If that muddled mess of words made any sense ???? Geeez. I think you said something like:
"Damn you, you Easter Bunny ... " When questioning a higher power. Like, Why Me? Thus, the name.
Ok, my far more literate brother, you better take it from here, as I have written something that is confusing, makes no sense and does little justice to what you wrote.
I stink. No coffee yet. : )
Love and stools-


34DD said...

Mr. J don't sweat the white hairs -grey/white is the new black! Not that you were worried, but you're very trendy now. FC's thinking about dyeing his hair to keep up with you!

david said...


profile name of 'p & m,' the suggestion with the wink ;-) from prev. day, and the reading of the poem, itself, the poem, a long 'p & m' session if there ever was, and strong as mr j has so fathomed it for us, and for all the rest of strength, the strength of the rest, Thanks!

piss & no moan said...

huh? i wrote a comment but i guess it didn't work? yet another reason to piss and moan.
in any case, i was thinking....(not a good thing!)
since nobody has won the prize for the poetry naming contest, and my "piss & moan" seems to be catching on, does that mean i get a prize? still fishin' for whatever i can get-i wouldn't be me if i didn't ;)
hope the scale is up today.
p.s. i like white. :) although after the last one, i'm beginning to have second thoughts...