BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

INTRODUCTION + POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART


The Desolation Poems

WRITING SYSTEMS SEQUENCE


During the Summer of 1998, I studied Writing Systems with Dr. William Boltz, one of the most fascinating of all courses taught, at the University of Washington, by a superb teacher. The course traces the history of writing from its emergence in Sumeria and, apparently independently, in China and the New World up to the use of our own alphabet. It is not a course to learn languages. It is a course to learn what writing is, how it came about and, by retrospective introspection, the dazzling idea that it once was not! One learns what are the components of a written script, the difference between language and script and, perhaps not surpisingly, that all writing systems appear to follow the same systematic development.

I had, in past years, written a few poems about writing, about what language means to me. I wrote a few more for the course -- within the parameters of an on-going project: to write at least one poem in every Poetic Form Used In English (hence the their odd numbers and names). #225 is a Sanskrit form. #254 is a Japanese form of the same type as #253, an Abecedarius, which is a form found in most languages. Though often used for children's books in our culture, it has a noble lineage in many other cultures where language is consider sacred and words, expecially the written word, divine.


Jan Haag
August 10, 1998
University of Washington
Seattle


Then

#253 Abecedarius

Trivial Clews To Cantalloc

#254 Iroha Mojigusari

#225 Nyankusarini

Tibetan Chronicle




THEN

12-20-97

O Rumi, give Devayani empty words,
meaningless words,
conjunctions and pronouns,
modifiers and a gerund or two,

no hard core verbs or nouns or adjectives,
just the interstices between
the meanings, the links,
supposed understanding.

Devayani doesn't need more.
The mind can circle like a buzzard
round any remains of a thought, of a heart
hunting --

then
take flight
for no reason at all,
dipping and coasting

on gigantic wings, broad as a condor,
strong as a pteranodon,
knowing the lastingness,
the logic

of optimism,
guessing you're somewhere
on the printed page: your passion
and devotion,

your fierce possession of the Friend,
your harmonious whirling in forever,
your coming down through Barks,
touching my heart, others.

Every morning, Devayani reads,
and every morning she forgets,
is left only with an open, breathless desire,
for the bleakness of a winter's day

or the sunshine on sand and rock, sea and desert
where, if necessary, she will
backpack through the aorta
right into the heart.



#253 ABECEDARIUS

8-8-98

Appreciation for our script
Begins anew each time I write
Celestial musings of the Gods
Demarcate evolutions from
English back to Summerian.
From clay tokens to computers
Gyrating round logographics
High concept of sound equal graph.

Invented by who knows what tribe
Justly intent in absence to
Kindle the presence of their thought,
Lace horizons with their visions.
Mantras welled up from Sanskrit's sound.
Notations carved deep into stone
Open the sanctuary of
Past worlds and civilizations,

Quelling curiosity's quick
Rush on speculation's great need,
Sacred, secular and divine,
To explain sky, sun, star and earth.
Urumqui, furtherest from all
Views of every ocean, yet writes
With scripts quite as elegantly
Xeroxable as any of

Younger lineage since zero and
Zen reduced time to trivia.



TRIVIAL CLEWS TO CANTALLOC

10-6-97

Spiraling from one point,
fractals,
Mandelbrot Sets
pattern themselves
into organic forms like the Glass
Bead Game.

Along the midnight streets
shimmer the ribbons of music
glittering grey and black and silver
in stereo.

On the beach
a sand-sized chip,
the hologram of several
million volumes from the National
Library of Japan,
lies among others

of which Blake said:
"... see the world in a grain of sand ..."
Can't you hear God's
guffaw as Blake's eyes blink
at the literalness of it all.

Who'd guess the black disk
stuck on the cactus thorn
in the desert
can speak,
sing;

that butterfly's wings were
stalked by Kjell Sandved for fifteen years
to spell our alphabet
plus
1, 2, 3 and 4.

To preserve their knowledge
the Incas tied knots in rope.
Who knows what wisdom
they wove into their
200 inch wide
shrouds,
apparel, hangings,
rugs
sporting
Paracas cats and floating heads.

The Pazyryk Carpet
extracted from the Altai ice
is sixteen beats
to a side
plus horses and riders.

Catal Huyuk,
run by the Goddess,
transmits the female
lore.

Since before the 21st Century B.C.
women have been weaving
warmth and comfort,
for wear and embellishment,
for home and body.

Encoded in textiles,
today and yesterday they've stitched
trivial clews,
familiar guides
that lie in a maze,
pattern,
perplexity,
intricate investigation.

The Jacquard Loom
anticipated
the computer.

Our heritage passes,
often
unexpectedly,
unseen,
from hand to hand.

Cantalloc means: a place of weaving.
It was among the Nazca Lines.



#254 IROHA MOJIGUSARI

8-9-98


Alphabetically we may daub
beautiful words Asiatic,
common words far from the ice cold
domains far to the north, run ode
East and West together, rebuff
foreign epithets, and gambling
great masses of high sounding truth,
hieratic declensions, pi
Iridescent, devotion's Hajj,
jocular meanings and quick lock
kinetics, replace parallel
languages fused tightly like gum,
monitored by no one, not Han
nor Hun nor Jain nor Latino --
orthographically a gap.
People even in new Iraq,
quinquangular plus, must refer
relatively frequently sans
summations qualified, latent,
turgid, to redolent Urdu.
Uighur is gone, but Turkish rev
virtually produced mellow
worlds, secret hieracosphinx,
Xerxes' alphabet's sorcery.
Yoga, they say, means union's buzz,
Zen's truth, aphonic-phobia.




#225 NYANKUSARINI (with one Bhurik stanza)

7-13-98

Reading the alphabet's history:
Akkadian, Egyptian, Semitic, Phoenician,
Greek, Latin, English -- its lineage
sings across the history of time.

How could it ever have not been?
How could it ever not be? Words on clay, words in ink,
the transmission of mummies' thoughts, mummies,
people wrapped in their own writing,

an Etruscan corpse preserving
contact with a vanished language,
bits of business and clay contracts,
monumental stone inscriptions,

papyrus abecedaries,
tri-linguals of Rosetta, of Behistun cliff
carved over the high edge for God
to study, Xerxes' pride to judge.

Six thousand years ago, maybe
a bit more, stones were silent, even quipus lay
unknotted. Then one day a marked

token: history's record began.



TIBETAN CHRONICLE

1986


"At the Sakya monastery...a large chhorten close to the main temple contained the entire collection
of Buddhist scriptures in Uighur, probably lodged there when no one was left who could read it."
Tucci, TIBET


When no one is left who reads them,
books from the human world, where will
the copies be kept? Like shiny
spirals of magnetic tape, when
no recorders remain, who will know

they contain wisdom from a race
blown to bits by its mind, flung to
the winds with skilled hands. No chhorten
to contain them--when the hewn stones
and the bricks of libraries have

drifted fine as powder, silent
as ash to an unconscious earth,
where will the sacred leaves be found?
Where will the fine cedilla's flick,
the i's dot, the tail of a q,

the cross of a t, where will the
intricate rules of a Sanskrit
grammar reside when no chhortens
remain, bulbous, upright, tuned to
broadcast beyond indifferent skies?




Copyright © 2002 through 2015 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jjhaag@gmail.com



Writing Systems Sequence

Then

#253 Abecedarius

Trivial Clews To Cantalloc

#225 Nyankusarini

#254 Iroha Mojigusari

Tibetan Chronicle

Poetic Forms Used In English

The Desolation Poems


BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO



21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context