by Joyelle McSweeney on Apr.30, 2012
If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry—Emily Dickinson, Belle of Baghdad, Baghdad’s Gold Bell-Bomb
1. When I think of this song and this video, how the video crushes down the song and the song crushes down the video, my dead fisheyes fill with gold. Gold scales, gold in the scales, and the scales are rising. The dead fish’s body gonna rise, map the river. Gold comes on glancingly out of the images itself—a gorgeous woman’s grill, the polished grilles on the tricked-out Cadillacs. But the whole thing is gold, travels on a glance, meets and exceeds each upper limit, its upper limit is a flexing, spasming dome—the goldwomb or Byzantium. Yellowcake. Uranium. Makes the good man lie, the black face a false face. Splits the crescent for its black fossilized liquor (“I taste a liquor never brewed”); the gas has to be burnt up and can’t be sold. The energy keeps rising, multiplying, the trickster and the preacher get bumped up on the sine waves of followers, the video keeps moving inside smaller spaces so it can throb outward, compound and explode, the women’s bodies and the electric drum pads mark out a beat way faster than the human heart can handle, an artificial beat that the human body must imitate, its members and extremities shaking and popping, one dancer wears a death mask, a white painted goth mask which keeps reappearing to mark the perforation of the scene with death, but all is compounding as in an alchemist’s mortar, compounding compounding, media doctors the image, saturates the fields with purple and the sky with green (Jack Smith spray painting trees in Connecticut to get a more Arcadian green), the children slip over the fields of praise and out of the crease of the world, the gay man/trickster/hipster/pied piper leads them; by the glance; into the superhuman; unbearable; the articfice of Eternity; Art’s destroying arrival; Art laying its bombs like eggs into the face of Art; into the face of Baghdad; prophetic; Baghdad: 2000; history repeats; tracers rise from Baghdad; welcome the bombs to Baghdad: the mass destruction that cannot be found in Baghdad is shipped to Baghdad; and and gather me/Into the Artifice of Eternity.
2. Why ‘Genius Studies’? Because this inelapsing, elastic radiance blows the top off my head and leaves me good for nothing but Art. Art isn’t a grecian urn but a splitting thing that makes the skull mime it; strikes a blow. In reponse the artist must makea new visage, a new being, a new luxury useless mechanical toy that somehow tells the future, which looks like the present and the past, because it can rotate its head 360 degrees. Not a role model but a percussion grenade.
3. Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.