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from the November/December 2003 issue

from Mozart’s Third Brain


Democracy's secret   In free, general elections, with secret ballots

There, too, is music's concealment, its inaccessibility, eye

to eye   Where coercive power, over the other, does not

exist   This is music's secret   When music moves,

sovereign, in time, its own time   For that is what defines it

South African faces, in the first free election   The dignity,

the joy breaking through, the laughter, the tears   And the wave

of warmth   As if the terrorist bombs, the violence, did not even exist

Amandla!  The strength to do what?  The power to do what?  We shall see -

There's the fear that disappointment will come  Also inside

myself   But that is not I   Objective music sounds

for a moment   That which is history   If that summary word has

any meaning whatsoever

I have been here before   When in the city park in Lund

I took off my hat on the first of May, when we sang

the Internationale, at a Social-Democratic gathering, in the early

60s   A warm rain fell on my head   New, light-green leaves

That I, too, grasped democracy's secret   The unification of

fellowship and sovereignty   Respect for the worth of every

human being   Later another kind of transparency came, the blinding

Every moment democracy must be won anew   As if

it were always indefensible, defensively   As if it just

existed as light actively moving outward   For a short time it can eliminate

violence   But violence can grow overpowering   As can the violence of others against others

This is no excuse   Worth itself is always obliterated by murder


We flee furiously in the directions of all the senses   Also in nothing's

There is no difference   Even the flame of nothing burns

We are inside the function   There is nothing outside it

As if the wandering between vowels and consonants

were also a wandering between the mountains Parmenides

and Heraclitus, or between the discrete and the continuous

A dance of vowels and consonants; where they also change functions

A generalized pattern of gesture; the movements of the larger body; also

semantically, conceptually

The play of feelings and of interests   I see the outer

surfaces of faces, the small tic in the cheek,

the darkness passing over the skin, in spite of

all that is said, in languages that lie

Every power struggle is destruction   Breaking apart the

fragile form   Where it issues, free of constraints,

from the captivity that is existence   Dark

matter of the soul; of an indeterminate sort   We are here

only for a short time   On the near-infinite interior surfaces . . .

What is time?  That which uses us   In the larger brain -

Vowel lengths are decisive, also of the tension in

interior rhythm   Whichever mountain we leap off; so the

stretto also happens between mountains   Mussels resting

darkly in strata of clay, living, breathing the clear water;

or practically fossils already   Under the increasing weight

Scraping sounds   Explosions of consonants   Vibrating R-notes, grating

The danse macabre of crystals   As if they were already principles   The heart's

freedom breathes -


All the irons in the fire   If they are irons   If it is fire -

As a child I saw the irons in the forge   The sputtering sparks

from the anvil . . .

The peculiar comfort of fire   The generalized conflagration

Where will I be when it comes?  Will I be defenseless?

The opening for all language, all images, all sound

Only through listening, seeing, speaking-singing can it work

Straight through the stone that shines monstrously   And the terror of the idyll

I touch you with the wing of pain; lightly, lightly, lovingly

Each moral problem carries its inner darkness

The darkness precipitates hatred   It does not have to dominate . . .

Word comes:  Yet another of my friends has cancer   I hear his

voice on the telephone, it is not he who tells me about it,

I believe he understands that I know, but we talk about

other things   His intellect is intact, as if the immanence of death

did not touch it at all   We speak about language, about grammar

Analytical or normative   I propose the possibility

that the differently constructed faculties of language in our two cerebral hemispheres

perhaps give rise to two different kinds of syntax, engaging each other

in a dialogue   Within myself I hear the dichotomies, recurrent

on many levels, ontologically, epistemologically   Also

emotionally, perhaps; but I also imagine a kind of tri-

section   A constantly growing number of factors

I remember a sketch I did when I was 18 years old, of a tower constructed

of shards patched together, which was also a plant, or

a rising member   Rising into the invisible counterpart   Then I listen to

the aged voice, hear its liveliness, its acuity, when new thoughts

come to mind   We talk about new poetry; how it is possible to perceive

the exact taste of its language, its edge   That one can go wrong, but this sense is still


I realize that soon we will not be speaking with each other any more   This hurts

What have I learned?  I have seen incorruptibility, concentration, seriousness

I think about another one of my friends, who died of the same kind of cancer

The same kind of face, when the great music played   The same light, coming from inside

the face


With V I talked about the young heifers in the meadow

As a child she was a shepherdess, tending cows and sheep

She spoke with expertise about the ages of calves   When I said

one of them was a beauty she replied:  They are all beautiful!

We spoke about flowers, their names, in Swedish and in Latvian

Our language was English   We spoke about something else, not

politics, not nationalisms, rather about the intense, open

human emotion, love   Virgin Mary's keys are also

Mother-of-God's hand   The whole hand open, fingers spread

We looked at twayblade, and at St. Peter's keys

At Digerhuvudet on Fårö she walked away alone

along the white rubblestone shore, her brown shawl

swept around her head, an old woman, a figure of pain

I also walked away, but in the other direction, in the blinding

light from the stones, the sea, below attacking terns

When I came back to the group I saw her

She showed me her find, a clump of moss the size of a fingertip, gleaming

silver   I showed her mine:  a coral shaped like a clam shell, petrified,

four hundred million years old

All we did not talk about   What came after the dictatorship

The conflict of pain   What "the national" is, if other than a fiction

And what in that case this fiction means   I do not know


Straight through disorientation and death   The near-infinite

landscapes that rise toward the sky and the sea

Flowering meadow saxifrage, a sea of white over the heath

where the curlew takes flight   The lapwing   The oystercatchers

Where burnt orchids, small purple-and-white orchids bloom

And pasque flowers, their little heads   Junipers wander

away into the distance toward infinity   A road   A lighthouse

The series of overtones rises, all the more steeply   Silence

We have inner thresholds of velocity, thresholds of comprehension

Time's limits, upward and downward; limits of integration

Humans; we move in real landscapes

beyond all models   Including those we make of our-

selves   Infinite fineness does not suffice -

We will approach maturity   So many of my friends are dying now

Are dying or already dead   I listen to the pain, the

fragile limit of the voice, clear   Then come the hiccoughs, the lump

in the throat, the small touch of valor   I try

to just be there   Consolation is impossible   What could I

possibly have to offer   I hear my own voice vibrate

Into the white storm-space   Nothing has

changed there   Out there is only storm, invisibly

racing clouds, surging trees of pain, on every leaf a

face, mutable, as if on a small gold screen

Mirrors of metal, burnished   Water   Clear as glass   Within the whiteness a

distant black point, rapidly approaching   Out there

across the sea   I hear its roar   The scent of salt   Seaweed

I too flee for protection   But it doesn't help

Rwanda   The picture that comes into focus more and more clearly   One of

the larger genocides, also of this century

Churches have been transformed from asylums into abattoirs   Everywhere

corpses lie, rotting bodies   Children   Women   Men

The numbers are always growing   The radio station of the Hutu extremists

broadcasts nonstop exhortations "to exterminate the cockroaches,"

the Tutsis   An officer in the Tutsi guerillas speaks of Auschwitz,

that Europeans also gave themselves to such pursuits

It is still going on   The smaller genocide in Bosnia goes on

The suffering is immeasurable   We count the dead

Maybe we should count the living   Our guilt grows and grows

Not collective guilt; but personal responsibility


Always alone   For otherwise the life of the fragile

symbols dissolves   In what we do together

giving occurs; and symbols of a different kind

are born   In this there is war   As if conditions of peace

were contaminated at every moment   A delicate balance

Deep peace   At night I dream of snakes;

vipers, of different colors   Your face

looks at me   I am antisocial; cannot participate   This is my

stigma; inscribed as a snakebite   I bear the crescent moon

I also bear you, beloved   As my living sign

How do I become a sign for you   I reproach you for your goodness

Thus I am evil   From the cave my dream is also born:

a single god, colorless,

with no face

Then the light from within is lit   We illuminate the world   Crystal!


Now the dead call to me from out at sea, where the sun sets

over the tongue of land, in violet haze   Around the sun two rainbow fragments,

like widely spaced quotation marks   It's as if the dead could now also

meet   While we, the survivors, walk on the shore

Everything is only provisional   The sea moves calmly   Terns fly

along the water line, its irregular form   New

sandy beaches are forming; at intervals briefer than I could have imagined

Other stones lie there, more than a thousand years

We are in the presence of the order of permanent murder, its smaller

eternity; and thus not eternal   Its abolition is on the agenda

For us and for those who survive us   For all the dead!

New bladder wrack moves in the clear water   Women are swimming, a few

of them   In the distance the city is visible, where I first saw the order

Freedom's wing also came from there   Like a measurement from inside   From the

opened order...
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