Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pingpong Howl

I was not, forty years ago, nor now, so captivated by "Howl" as most people were last night. Some verses I would have read aloud then—except for the overwhelming liveliness of our discussion—exemplify for me the "brilliantly absurdist poem" Perloff characterizes in her review below:

and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

I'm with you in Rockland where you scream in a straightjacket that you're losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss

(verses 68, 69, and 104; pages 120, 121, and 174 in the graphic novel).

The first "pingpong" has to evoke a laugh; the second, reflection; and the last, if memory serves, poignance. Taken together, the best three lines in the poem. If I can find a way to read the rest of the poem this way, it will be for me not merely historically important (both as literature and as event) but intrinsically memorable.

1 comment:

DCSteve1441 said...

Thanks, Tim. Great title and content! Cheers, Steve