Friday, July 4, 2008

ghazal: "arabesques"

This universe seems   like your smile   overdetermined
each incident gleams   like your guile   overdetermined

who're determined   to reach your port   (soft eyes of Nirvana)
observe   how proves every hard mile   overdetermined

it barely matters what we do now   if we but love you
is homecoming's shore   from exile   overdetermined?

true poetry flows   as seamlessly   as a fleet river
where similes harbor a style   overdetermined

is the firing squad reluctant?   bullet-like kisses
transform me   I ring when you dial   "overdetermined"

the police of your eyes arrest me   crossing time's border
was my contraband   (your profile)   overdetermined?

"I smart still   recalling how hard you worked   to mislead me"
thus spake my heart's blind imbecile   overdetermined

they love you (in spite of good sense)   who crave absurd theatre
strange habits we culture   see file   "overdetermined"

for years Raphael   besotted with   mystical argot
admired arabesques   blooms his tile   overdetermined?


Here in Beijing (since May 13), I was happy to discover (in past day or so) that I can access Blogspot now! (unlike my general experience of it being blocked). Having trouble at the moment accessing Facebook (hopefully a passing phase), but nice to know the blog is, for the present, pulled into the realm of the censor-permitted infobahn ("Net Nanny" being, in some circles, the preferred term for this, i.e. vis-a-vis China's distinctive internet filtering customs).

During my recent months in India -- from return thereto (late October 2007) till coming back to Beijing (mid-May 2008) -- I was generally awash in ghazal-writing. Since landing in China, the habit has subsided to much rarer occasinalness.

Anyway, here's one latest ghazal -- partly spurred by finally getting into the somewhat popular (in highbrowish circles), but till now (when I've finally looked up the word) inevitably bewildering-to-me term noted, above, as the ghazal's radif (repeating item): "overdetermined."

"Overdetermined" has the problem (or let's just say, the characteristic) of meaning too many different things to too many different writers / thinkers / philosophers. But for purposes of ghazal poetry, this quality can perchance become more an asset than a hazard; or so my poem (perchance) posits / gambles / imagines. The word itself (amusingly) proves, in this connection, rather self-descriptive. At any rate, this concept of the "overdetermined" -- worried over (sequentially) by the likes of Freudians, Marxists, and other interesting philosophers of literature, language, culture, and dream -- seems to merit some place in the lexicon of the English ghazal; a place that could seem fairly destined (or even -- and ergo -- as it were, overdetermined).

/ / / / /

Too bad I'm not (at the moment) in a land with at-the-ready libraries & bookstores from which one might easily follow up some of the curious leads noted in the (above-linked) Wikipedia entry about this very interesting word; for instance, I've not (alas) as yet read I.A. Richards' famous book on literary ambiguity. I'm curious to grasp in what way he adapted the notion of the "overdetermined" within the framework of his ideas. Perhaps another day / moon / year I'll be situated to catch up on such.

All of this amounts to tangential annotation vis-a-vis the poem, of course.

yours always,

trivial footnote: actually posted July 5 (not 4)

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