Released the same year as Green, I first listened to Daydream Nation in August of 1989. I recall how the astonishing genius of the album unfolded for me in a car stereo while driving alone from Providence to Cape Cod one night. That was the first Sonic Youth album I'd ever heard and it was Kim Gordon's whispered opening chants that entranced me. How do I write about any of these albums without resorting to private images? Part of the brilliance of the album and its immediate effect on me was how it dissolved anything I'd known before about rock music. I was beginning to write poetry then and these songs offered me a map of possibilities.
In his "Theses on the Philosophy of History" Walter Benjamin writes of "Messianic time," those moments in daily existence where reality is potentially transformed, a moment of liberation where time and space are broken open. These Messianic moments never arrive and yet they exist in our thoughts, in art. Benjamin's ideal historian "...grasps the constellation which his own era has formed with a definite earlier one. Thus he establishes a conception of the present as the "time of the now" which is shot through with chips of Messianic time."
The question I have now in 2006 is: how quickly are eras formed and dissolved? Rimbaud's awareness of distinct personal seasons with their epic and private allusions. As for an essay on Bolaño and Dalton's final, posthumous novels. In Dalton's 5-sided novel the books hinge on moments you might think of as Benjamin does, such as a miraculous escape from prison in the country outskirts of San Salvador, entering the city at dawn in a peasant bus, sitting next to an old school acquaintance, the poetry of daybreak and casual conversation on a bus. Bolaño's 2666 takes Dalton's 5-part format and amplifies it with an apocalyptic fury and cold lament. Both writers assume poetry as a function or aspect of a certain type of ambitious fiction. Reading their novels within contexts partly outlined by Aijaz Ahmad in his essays on "Third World" literature (In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures, Verso, 1992).
Each day here completed by a large carrot & apple juice from the organic cafe I worked at for several years, as dishwasher and prep cook. Nothing better than organic carrots & green apples, freshly juiced. Ride there today at dusk, the sun already set behind rows of condos lined up along Sand Key, across the intercoastal from my bicycle. Buy the New York Times (read Álvaro Vargas Llosa's Op-Ed "No Left Turn," with the byline: "Bolivia will not go Venezuela's way.") on my way to the health food store. The streets are deserted and I pedal through moments in the receding past, like the row of trees I first noticed breathing & moving cosmically in currents of psychedelic wind gusts outside corner apartment windows, off Cleveland street in 1991. One of that year's notebooks (#12) quotes from Philip Lamantia's book The Blood of the Air:
"treasure shored up from my inner eyes
the victuals medieval cathedrals secrete secretly
for the likes of the adepts
who smile through the velvet fissures of the centuries
that are Waves & Blankets of Stars
under which we are given, if we burrough long enough
for the hidden script, the Key to the King's Shut Chamber..."