Tag Archives: ambivalence

Return from the Abyss

22 Sep

Summer slips away, leaving room for Fall. The first order of the day is to talk for a moment about a friend’s book of poems, Selene by Michael Odom. 


Don’t turn your back on her

I see this book as a reflection of an obsession. A woman. A sorceress. A corpse. An eternal ambivalence, love and hate. The cover uncovers, revealing the darkness within. It is not an easy read. But then, poetry can be unsettling. A way of seeing that slices through the dailiness to a core that may be exquisitely ugly. But it is real, and we cannot turn our guilty gaze away from the disaster. Just the opposite. We hope to understand more about our own lives the longer we stare at the ruins of others’.

The opening poem lets the reader know that men will not get off easily in this book:

“The simple strength of men who never know,

Their muscle-coats, their steel, their robotic wars,

Their Scantron lives lesson-planned in their brains,

The blows they give and take to the head, sports,

Their races to finish lines, walks to start,

Ready-go guns, their disciplined controlled

Resilience, their climbing grasps, like primates,

For leafier nests, prettier mates, shinier cars,

And Power, the lying god, their angry work

Ethics with long old ages dreaming TV

And beaches and golf, their nearby balls-of-dust

Planets they reach for and prayers to a ghost,

Big man boasts…I know a boy much smaller

Who carries in his pocket a collapsed sun.”

For what it’s worth, I can’t help but think that the boy is the poet’s sun. Pun intended.
The reading pendulum will swing completely in the other direction tomorrow with a new title for Perfect Picture Book Friday. And then a rec for a new YA or two next week. Some Middle Grade novels…Stay tuned! Looking forward to catching up with everyone in the blogosphere.

Ambivalence Hurts, or Is It Love?

29 Apr

And so it came to pass that I fell into the ambivalent well. Trouble is, I can’t tell if I’m drowning or being reborn.

Why did I wander past a bookshelf and feel the need to caress this little book, On Ambivalence, by Kenneth Weisbrode. Was it the black satin cover, the photo of an old train crossing a Peruvian mesa, or the MIT imprint? Heady stuff, eh? I suppose its beauty is an apology for putting the reader through the wringer of ambivalence.

From page 28:

“Desire and desirability, once again, are the basis of ambivalence, just as the appearance and reality of desire, the object and the idea of the object, beat almost indistinguishably in the human heart.”

I am in love. Or is it lust? I’ll let you know when I finally crawl out of the well. 

On Ambivalence and Postmodernism

28 Apr

Dear “A”

            response to Derrida


While constructing and deconstructing, I arrived at one last letter, a mark upon the page. 

An ‘A:’  Authority.     Your job:   to say  IT  is and isn’t, confusing my suspicions. 

Another ‘A:’  Arbitrator.     IT, me, and in the middle, you.


Tonight, I pin this scarlet letter upon your chest.  ‘A:’  abscess   adulterer   arsenic   asshole   asp

ashpit   albatross      annoying anathema      answerless antagonist      assassin     ack-ack     ache.


But wait, there’s more:   annihilator    armless aborter     anemic android      anchorless alligator       

arrogant arachnid       absolute Adam      abject abnegator      abdicator          ablator of my heart.  


Go ahead.  Pull the crimson thread. 

Unravel the construction and expose my cracked and crumbling, bleeding base, to All. 

I cannot bear         the thought of sharing ink with you.


But as I work to see just   what   IT   is, I tat a net of veils    with this pen.  Layers of lairs of liars between me and the Abyss. 


The final ‘A.’ 


by Jilanne Hoffmann 

April 28, 2012

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