"Asking for IT: A Parapornographic Reading of Emily Dickinson and her Suitors/Translators

by on Sep.05, 2012

I think in her post about Paul Legault, Lara raises some interesting points about Emily Dickinson and the act of translation, the act of homage, the reading act, the writing act. I would like to reach back to my previous post on the “Parapornographic” to read not just Dickinson but also her many suitors, including Legault (and Lara!).

First of all: what set Lara off on considering the violence and gender dynamics was Paul’s statement that ED was “asking for it,” which certainly evokes all kinds of rape-ish associations. On Facebook Paul said he was beign sloppy and even I rejected the association. But I think we should keep it – even if we have to say that Lara (and I, now) are as much “authors” of that statement as Paul.

I want to know: What is Emily Dickison “asking for”? What is this obscenely obscure “IT”?

I think Adam Atkinson (in comment field) is right to invoke a long line of poems about Emily Dickinson by male poets – usually those are sexual. The act of writing about her is a kind of breaking into the so powerful myth of Dickinson’s virginity, and even her ultra-virginity of the “attic myth” (doubly virginal).

Adam mentions Billy Collins, whose Emily Dickinson poem “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes”, can be seen as paradigmatic. This whole poem is basically a list of clothing that ED wears: tippet, tulle, white dress, mother-of-pearl. Artifice gets in the way of orgasm. It takes him forever to part her clothes “like a swimmer” and “slip inside.”

By which he of course means “slip *it* inside.” He almost forgets to remove his cock cage which is a nusance when you have improper underwear on. What you need to wear with it is simple but many users forget.

But once he gets to slip it inside, he is suddenly distanced from her. Instead of dealing very closely, materially with her outfit, he sees her a ways off:

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

He has not only undressed her, but he’s entered into that fabled attic room and she is strange and unsettling. “Motionless” and staring as if dead.

Not sexxy!

He then goes back to listing clothing and the complexity of undergarments before finally getting to the slipping it in:

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything –
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

The key here is that the sex act does not take place in the present of the poem – the way the undressing, the listing of all that artifice does. Instead it quickly goes forward in time to narrate backwards, and to compare it to riding a swan, a “swan” that emblem of Art. I can’t help but feel that Billy gets a little unnerved by his own poem at this point, wants to make it about art, but then he immediately goes back to the physical (her hair etc). Throughout there is this tension between artifice and nudity, the inhuman and the human, the deathy and the sexy.

But when he finally gets to ride her swan, instead of orgasm, he notices how deadly silent everything is. He even hears a fly buzz (the poem of course appropriates tons of Dickinson lines and words) and then we get to the final deathy stanza:

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

Emily Dickinson seems to “ask for it”, seems to want to be undressed, but When you undress Emily Dickinson you first encounter countless garments and artifice, leaps in time and space, and ultimately a kind of violence – against you, the reader, the perpetrator. She may take the top of your head! But she doesn’t quite! (She just looks “right at you with a yellow eye.”)

This constant frustration of orgasm/death might be what is Emily Dickinson’s “obscene virginity” and it might also be why she is constantly asking for “it.” We can never get to know the *real* her, the pornographic her, her interiority, her secret. Simon and Garfunkel will never “find” “Emily.” (Can you imagine Paul Simon writing a sequel called “When I Found Emily”?)

It should also be noted how closely Collins’ poem resembles Collins’ poem about reader beating his poem with a hose in a kind of Abu Ghraib situation, comparing trying to make meaning out of his poems to a kind of violence. (He is in Edenborg’s words both anti- and pro-porn. In both models, art is pornographic: something is hidden, and has to either be protected or found.)

This model of penetrating Emily Dickinson’s virginity only to encounter a kind of violent obscurity, can in Carl-Michael Edenborg’s words be considered “pornographic”: Trying to find what is concealed, or to hide what is there.

When Lara interpreted Paul’s statement about ED “asking for it” so literally, she basically does what Edenborg describes Andrea Dworkin as doing: literalizing the connection between violence and art, making the act of translating Dickinson into an act of violence against Dickinson. Collins depends on the idea that metaphors are not “real,” but “metaphoric” or at least “wink-wink” jokey (which seems to be one of Lara’s objections to the Legault “framing”).

Like Dworkin, Lara’s stance is a stance so extremely anti-pornographic that it becomes parapornographic.

Art is violence.

[NOTE: To be perfectly clear, I am not saying Lara’s an anti-pornography activist or in any way like Dworkin except in the way she treats art as violence. That’s how I’m drawing this issue to the Edenborg manifesto.]

Legault commits his act of violence through translation. Poetry is of course what’s lost in translation. Translation makes kitsch of monoliths, generates excess. Translation may ruin the inside/outside, true/unfaithful, secret/public divisions with its undulating outfits. Translation is not fucking the way Collins’ wants to fuck: it’s fucking with the clothes, or the “peels” as Walter Benjamin put it.

43 comments for this entry:
  1. Lara Glenum

    Yes, Johannes! Brilliant! Mostly.

    By casting me as anti-pornogrpahic, you speak as though I’ve made a naive error. But my hackles aren’t up about “protecting” ED from the specter of “violation,” which would be absurd.

    What’s flummoxed me is that Paul’s project hasn’t been framed as an act of violence or pornography, not because such framing would make it morally questionable (the anti-pornagraphic stance) but because I think that’s what his project does brilliantly, and it’s not being described as such.

    David Applegate, in the comment field below, says, “In the header of the interview you link to, the book is “passed around our office by giggling editors, like how teenagers used to share pornography.” The giggling arises out of discomfort with Paul’s monolithic rape, his pornographic display. What he has done is “forbidden” (i.e. vandalizing canonized poetry) and the gigglers are giggling as much at their own voyeurism as the actual content of the work.”

    Yes. Exactly.

    Ana’s note on my fb page -– ”It is interesting to consider the ways translation and research are emotionally violent — and to whom — which party” -– is really what I’m interested in here. How these questions have been (intentionally or unintentionally) left out of the discourse around Paul’s project. A project that seems (quite intelligently) designed to provoke exactly these questions.

    So yes, I do very much want to literalize the connection between art and violence. It’s not accidental, as you suggest.

  2. Johannes

    I dont think I cast you as naive or anti-porn, but parapornographic.


  3. Lara Glenum

    Over on my fb page, Sarah Sarai writes:

    “The more I consider Lara’s original posting the greater my appreciation of it and her. David commented, “it doesn’t seem to matter” to Paul, that Emily is female. But she is. And gender always matters.

    Along with the rest of us, Paul has been collecting the unconscious, is as capable of being jerked around by cultural and gender immersion as anyone. Paul—as kind person—is exonerated, but Paul the writer, the parodist is not (entirely) and surely serves as historical/critical stand-in.

    ED and WW get equal billing in some odd need to mama/poppa-ize our roots—but WW is completely and vehemently protected by a tenured Greenpeace of male poets. The binary partly derives from discomfort with a woman at the helm–ED is the greater artist and, more to the point, has anyone undressed WALT (who I love dearly, as poet, public figure, American) in public. Or translated him? “Translated.””

  4. Joyelle McSweeney

    Fantastic set of insights here, Johannes, and I what I love about the ‘parapornagraphic’ paradigm is that, like the necropastoral, it sets up a kind of zone which includes all critiques, countercritiques, etc without neutralizing them. Instead the zone of the parapornagraphic instead becomes spasming, inconsistent, and without genital finality. In this post the parapornagraphic zone includes you, Lara, Paul, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, Kenneth Anger, in a rolling ‘libidinal economy’ of attachments and shunts and fusings and suckings. A wonderful new paradigm for criticsm!!!

  5. Seth O.

    I am both excited and not excited to read all of PL’s book one day soon.

    As of right now, I’ve only read a handful of excerpts. His translations make me think of a grouchy, impetus schoolgirl scribbling over some untouchable painting. The little girl who transgresses the cannon and sits with the idols even though she wears pigtails and has jam on her face. This sassy scene pleases me.

    But the idea of PL’s book also displeases me because it makes me think of the adult schoolteacher. The adult schoolteacher whose duty is to instruct the children the ways of the boring, pragmatic world. She must assimilate them into external society and teach them how to be proper (i.e dull) adults. The children are the minority who must be transmogrified into the glorified majority — the grown ups, who are anything but glorious.

    Emily poems — the ones that sat primly in her drawer — don’t really fit in with the majority of the contemporary art world (poetry or otherwise). They are hermetic, mysterious, violent, odious, warlike, and, perhaps most distressing, chaste. From discussions I’ve had, and just observation in general, poets/artists don’t take too kindly to non-sexuality. Not being sexual is cold, nun-like, saintly. Those who aren’t sexual are suspected of Christianity and having an affinity for Republicans. Neither of these two severe spectacles have much purchase in the laid-back queer theory indie poetry world of today.

    Paul makes Emily available to the contemporary scene. She’s a Social Media Coordinator. She’s conversational and sexed-up. She says slut. Paul, in a way, turns Emily into a funny, liberal, affable MFA student. She’s not that special anymore. She’s just like everyone else. But I’d much rather her be a saint chaste recluse virgin queen. They’re much more theatrical than contemporary democratic subjects.

    JG brings up Billy Collins. It’s worth mentioning how the power of ED connects The New Yorker poet to the indie poet. BC removed her dagger-like dashes. PL makes her warm and friendly. At least PL’s poems — from what I’ve read — have a charming, glib, flippancy. But still, I’d prefer it if people wouldn’t try to declaw her or simplify her warrior-like chants. ED is like The Riddler (Jim Carrey in Batman Forever). I think she is evil in that she contradicts many of the principles (sex being a big one) espoused by the indie art world. I want Emily to stay evil. She shouldn’t become “good.”

  6. Lara Glenum

    Yes, but you say I’m parapornographic only because I’m so “extremely anti-pornographic” (your terms), which just isn’t true. Clearly, you’ve read my poems cuz, um, you’re my publisher. And they are graphic and ultrafilthy and obscene. And you know the art I like cuz, um, we’ve been friends for over a decade and have always been into all the same twisted, sick, excellent shit. How you could label me as “extremely anti-pornographic” is totally beyond me.

    In your post, I’m being cast as the straw man, as some second-wave feminist howler, who’s apparently not even aware of what she’s doing vis a vis art and violence. Just inadvertently stumbling into it through my own extremism.

    Johannka, I love you dearly. Very dearly. But you gotta stop this.

    Parapornographic is a great term, one that I feel like I’ve (we’ve) been rummaging around for for some time now. I’m excited about everything you’ve been saying about it. I’m excited about where it will take us.

  7. Johannes

    I totally disagree Lara. Your “paranoid” reading is that started this whole discussion; I could hardly call you a strawman. Maybe Billy Collins is the strawman, but even he is, in the scope of the parapornographic, not without his virtues.

    As for Dworkin: She comes off as really interesting in Edenborg’s essay. I haven’t read her books but she sounds fascinating. By “extremely anti-pornographic” I mean that you see the violence of the Legault project. I obviously don’t think you’re some kind of crusader against porn, but at the same time, you’re obviously aware of the violence of art. I don’t think you can call either of us “sex-positive” or something…


  8. Johannes

    I guess in part what’s interesting about “parapornographic” is that is doesn’t rely on anti- and pro- type of binaries. It contains them in an interesting way./ Johannes

  9. Lara Glenum

    Seth, I, too, like sassy. And defacing property. Very much.

    I wonder though, if a white poet “translated” Langston Hughes into contemporary one-liners–would anyone be quick to shout: “Sassy!”

  10. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle on Paul Legault’s The Other Poems
    by Johannes on Apr.07, 2011, under Uncategorized

    THEN NOT NOW. My interview w/ Paul Legault. MUST SEE! If only for his painting of Emily D. as Cat woman!

    I will give good backstory on this interview as soon as I give myself 3 shots, 12 pills, plus a synthetic opiate for pain. Even 5 years ago I would have needed a transfusion. My specialists say: “10 years in Iraq? We get better meds.”

    “I’ll be back”. The Terminated

  11. Matt

    I don’t think it’s ED’s “virginity” so much as her “privacy” that tempts and confuses us. Also, people have been “sexing up” ED for decades—but usually from a queer perspective. How is the criticism arguing for her supposed lesbian relationship with Sue different? Isn’t the obsession with this speculation and what is perceived as her lesbianism also a form of voyeurism?

    Also, in response to Lara, people (mostly gay men) have been “undressing” Walt since the nineteenth century. He was in fact outted several times while he was alive–a more severe, real, and (especially in the time period) objectionable form of “undressing,” I would argue, than anything ED has endured. Poets have been fanatasing about sex with Whitman for a long time too–I’m sure we’re all familiar with Ginsberg’s comments–except here the fantasies assume that Walt would like it.

    Finally, also in response to Lara, while it is true that historically Walt was canonized and enshrined by the academy earlier than Dickinson (though not much), at this point, there is just as much of a critical establishment “protecting” and enshrining ED. One major difference, though, is that Harvard and certain ED scholars have made sure to “protect” her manuscripts by making them unavailable to the public, except in very expensive academic publications, whereas Whitman scholars have made all of WW’s mss, notebooks, letters, etc. available to the public in high quality scans for free at the Whitman Archive.

  12. Johannes

    Matt, don’t you think her virginity and her privacy are related? That’s the sense I get from the Collins poem.


  13. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    “That Mission was Kill from the Jump”

    Legault’s The Emily Dickinson Reader was originally published by Try & Make in 2009. Cant seem to give you a decent working link, but in our interview we treat the EDR now early on (Out of Print at that time) and The Other Poems.

    See Montevidayo Archive April 15, 2011

    I still owe you its backstory. Wotta ripper! (Right now I’m too high)

    Do Not Bring Him Back Alive

  14. Lara Glenum

    Johannes, my QUESTION about a possibly paranoid reading of Paul’s description of his project started the thread! I was curious about Paul’s assertion that ED was “asking for it.” This is language I associate with rape, not porn. And I specifically said that I’d be much more interested in Paul’s text being framed as a fucked-up compulsion to do violence rather than the “zany, light humor” category the book’s currently being billed as. That’s hardly an anti-porn stance! I want the project to be framed as a porn/a form of violence! And not because I want to critique/dismiss it. Because that’s what I think the project performs.

    David Applegate points out: “In the header of the interview you link to, the book is “passed around our office by giggling editors, like how teenagers used to share pornography.” The giggling arises out of discomfort with Paul’s monolithic rape, his pornographic display. What he has done is “forbidden” (i.e. vandalizing canonized poetry) and the gigglers are giggling as much at their own voyeurism as the actual content of the work.”

    This is not a moral critique. It is a description of what’s being performed by the book’s very existence.

    I’d love it if you’d quit labeling me. Or sticking me in camps.

    And yes, I agree that “what’s interesting about “parapornographic” is that is doesn’t rely on anti- and pro- type of binaries.” You say it “contains” them, but I don’t want containment (and I suspect, neither do you). I like the term because it speaks to pornography not in moral terms but as a zone, the zone we now all live in, where we’ve located ourselves as a culture.

  15. Johannes

    Lara, I’m using the terminology of Edenborg’s essay. That’s where I get “anti-porn” from. It’s not putting you in some kind of camp.


  16. Lara Glenum

    Matt, I wonder, though, if the myriad poets who’ve been “undressing” Walt would claim they were translating him? (Not that they wouldn’t be…)

    Geoffrey, I can’t wait til you come down! Eager to chat.

  17. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Worth The Search: that interview includes what may be the only published instance of Legault’s Manifesto.

    G C-H (See? I cant even spell my own name!)


  18. Lara Glenum

    To see the violence in Legault’s project is not the same thing as being against it (being anti-). Those are two separate things.

  19. Adam Atkinson

    “I obviously don’t think you’re some kind of crusader against porn, but at the same time, you’re obviously aware of the violence of art. ”

    That’s a really key admission, and it would seem all that LG was looking for from a post that reads: “Lara’s stance is a stance so extremely anti-pornographic that it becomes parapornographic.” Coupled with the marketing of the PL book as something that brings out the perhaps unintended or “chaste” humor of ED, and you’ve got two dynamics now–the book and this post–that situate a man as the individual who is capable of perceiving what a woman was only able to stumble into. Call me “paranoid,” but I think that’s worth recognizing–and that doesn’t mean fingerpointing or consigning someone to the dreaded realm of patriarchal thought.

    Looking back at the original LG post on facebook, I find something so far from paranoia and accusation as to make this whole kerfuffle look entirely ludicrous–yet it’s indicative of what troubled LG in the first place. Yeah, LG seemed bothered, but she also seemed sincere in her desire for insights that might indicate PL’s awareness of the whole construct: a parapornographic performance for the poetry world. She dug it before the word showed up here. Why does the whole argument for a parapornographic critique then seem predicated on an alleged failure of LG’s perception?

    Anyway: thanks for taking my original comment seriously enough to respond to it. I genuinely appreciate it.

  20. Johannes

    I didn’t say that Lara “stumbled” into anything. My post valorized her for taking the violence-art stance to its extreme.

    I misremembered Lara calling her reading “paranoid.” Obviously I’m not using it as a negative. I can’t see how my post says that Lara fails at anything at all. My original post is in agreement with Lara.

    If there are things about the post that don’t add up in your mind, you can totally ask me about it, or ask me to clarify without resorting to “fingerpointing” tropes about how I explain Lara to herself. I took some ideas from Lara’s post and I gave it a new spin.

    Allow me now to vomit.


  21. Adam Atkinson

    “I took some ideas from Lara’s post and I gave it a new spin.” It’s exactly this kind of statement that is really fascinating in this context, and all I’m suggesting is that we can talk about what it means that in both instances we have a man “putting a spin” on what a woman said or wrote, that perhaps the spinning wasn’t even necessary, that perhaps the man in question is aware of all these issues and reperforming them for our pleasure/horror, and that perhaps we can talk about all of this without implicating the man in question as some sort of archetype of the patriarchal-demon-intellect. That’s all the fingerpointing comment was about (not your writing about LG).

  22. Johannes

    Oh please. Lara wrote asking explicitly what we on this blog – of which she is a member – thought about this affair. I thought it was a provocative idea and I gave her my response.


  23. Adam Atkinson

    I suppose I’m only asking for a different reading to be considered, but this seems to come across as accusation, despite any efforts to disengage from that mode of discussion and just talk about the relevant valences of the issue (such as gender).

  24. Johannes

    Seriously Adam, with all these comments you’ve made, do you really think I believe this?


  25. Adam Atkinson

    Before I go, I also wanted to point to your last comment as part of the reason I thought maybe this was all somewhat winky: “Oh please. Lara wrote asking explicitly what we on this blog – of which she is a member – thought about this affair. I thought it was a provocative idea and I gave her my response.”

    Lara…asked for this?

    You…were provoked?

    It seems almost too perfect (or too terrible). Both point to a conscious (or maybe even unconscious) reperformance of the very stakes Lara pointed out. I don’t think I’m crazy for perceiving this.

  26. Johannes

    You’re still here, huh.

  27. Matt

    I like the umbrella of “privacy” better than “virginity” with respect to Emily Dickinson for a few reasons. For one, she probably didn’t die a virgin (see Habegger), and while the myth of virginity is a separate affair from the historical fact, I don’t like using the phrase “Dickinson’s virginity” without an asterisk and an explanation, which is cumbersome. That’s the practical reason I prefer “privacy.”

    Semantically, “privacy” includes virginity but also a host of other Dickinson-related problems like her manuscripts (an expression of her privacy), her sociability (obvious), and, I would argue, her politics. All of these, especially her status as “poet of manuscripts” are a part of how scholars have been “undressing” ED, to return to our privileged trope here.

  28. Kim

    This is all getting deliciously paranoid. Haven’t quite figured out the paraporno yet but it seems promising. How now it would actually present itself. As long as its not something like Venus in Fur, I’m in.

  29. James Pate


    I just went over ad hominem arguments in my philosophy class this morning. I should have brought in your comments here as a great example of the fallacy.

    It’s to Johannes’ credit he would even post such petty comments…


  30. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Heartfelt Public Apology to Johannes Goranssen from Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Now, while I still have my health
    And the sky is clear like an open book
    I want to lay it all out on the page . . .

    I’m a jerk. A presumptuous, fatuous, vapid J E R Q U E—jerk.
    I may have asked a legitimate question, if we screw too far up into our own minds (I’m talking about my post on virility): but it was just so egregiously misdirected . . . Johannes, you have never given me any reason to doubt you. I failed our trust.

    People, get your paws off that keyboard past midnight: don’t keep puling on mind-benders! I even knew I was sick when I said it. So shut me the fuck up. I need divine intervention.

    Montevidayo = munificence. No site so commodious: aberrant art, D-Con to Def Con art, the Anti-Anteater Theater . . .

    Perspicacity, passion, élan!

    As spirited as a stallion and as indefatigable as a dray horse—

    Johannes, you’re a stud.

    You taught stalking to the wolves.

  31. Kent Johnson

    Just to put a newly discovered actual face to all the imagined para-porn:


  32. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Chuck, That Hairpiece Looks Like Dairy Freeze

    Dear Lara: Though skilled in the craft of pillow talk, I love to see fur fly.
    I can’t arbitrate. I’m a hired gun.

    Now, if we go to spoken word . . .

    G C/H

    (Norris: see above)

  33. James Pate


    Fascinating picture, if it is her. I remember as a kid coming across the first picture of a president, I can’t remember off-hand which one, but there’s something uncanny about finding old pictures of people or events you don’t expect to find. What if it turned out that a makeshift camera had been invented earlier than we thought and we found pictures of Swift or Byron? How unsettling that would be!

    And just a quick thought on para-porn: Johannes was kind enough to send me a copy of the whole manifesto this morning, and, from my take at least, it’s making an argument against humanism, against the notion that desire is a manifestation of our “deepest selves.” To me, the essay is a great and highly provocative reworking of Foucualt’s idea that we should not be calling for the liberation of desire, but the creation of new pleasures.


  34. Danielle

    Hey, y’all,

    I’m late to the party. La! Still: I think there’s an unfortunate conflation of ideologies going on here. I totes agree that our Lara is PARAPORNOGRAPHIC and that Legault’s book (which I’ve yet to read, but have read the interviews, excerpts, etc., so I’m talking about its manifestation in the world), I do think Legault’s book might benefit from such a framing.

    Lara’s not anti-porn, though, which term conjures arguments a la Catharine MacKinnon. She hasn’t traveled some circular porn spectrum through anti-porn to get to parapornographic. She’s been para- the whole time–or at least since the beastly day I met her.

    Also, I don’t really get the Dworkin comparison and am pretty sure if there’s a beyond we best not call Dworkin back from it to trifle with such!

    Haven’t reset my dang password yet, so posting on the fly. xoxo, D

  35. Johannes

    I’m not going to try to explain what I meant by “anti-porn”. Thinks of it as “X” instead (or better yet “Y” to avoid any connotations of xxx…).


  36. Johannes

    Also I don’t know anything about these anti-porn activist or whatever but my interest has definitely been peaked.They sound pretty awesome!


  37. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Horny Noodle

    Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle on Paul Legault’s The Other Poems
    by Johannes on Apr.07, 2011, under Uncategorized

    LInk below may go to page, then scroll: Legault quizzed early on EDR (2009 edition), his Madeleline, and Other Poems. With Tell All Sell All” Manifesto.


    Horn Dog

  38. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Echoes of Shadows

    Link below includes Legault’s painting of E D as Catwoman, possibly the second sitter in that new old pic above of E D lavished on us by K Johnson.

    Forgive all the redundancy. I used be a junky now I’m just a flunky.

    Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle on Paul Legault’s The Other Poems
    by Johannes on Apr.07, 2011, under Uncategorized


    (click bottom link to page, scroll down: same ass oops my previous post)

  39. Danielle Pafunda

    X & Y, you get us in so much trouble!

  40. Lara Glenum

    Geoffry, yes!!! You mean this:


    Thank fucking god.

  41. Kent Johnson


    Yes, it’s strange. The woman on left does not seem to match the other daguerreotype that was found a few years back, which is actually identified on the back as of “Emily Dickinson,” with a date that would fit. That other photo is there at the web site I linked to, further down the page. Interestingly, forensic/physiological analysis was done of that one, too, against the teenage one, and the investigators confirmed a match. So who knows? The mystery of ED goes on…

    To offer something in relation to her image that seems interesting to me, in connection to this “para-porn” discussion: The erotic fantasies of people like Collins and Legault (in the latter case, the fantasies might have some violence to them, too?), fair to say, MUST, of necessity, really, have the iconic image of her as weak, sickly seventeen-year-old as ideational backdrop. In this sense, those fantasies are arguably not just “para-porn,” they are “para-pedophiliac porn.”

    Only inside the rotting garbage of the poetry dump, I suppose, can you suggest the ghost of a minor was asking for it, and get away with it…

  42. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    Dreams in the Witch House (For Lara Wherever I May Find Her)

    Up from Boston selling drugs at Amherst (I ‘m 19) I broke into an abandoned house just down the road from Emily Dickinson’s.


    The first time was a look-see, I gave myself the dare, which became reconnoiter when I went back later for the night. Let go, gated and overgrown, Shirley’s Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

    I went in through the rear across its roof. First—yes, I am that crazy—in broad daylight. Two-story porch, braid carpets strewn amok with habitat: when I found an iron poster bed I determined to return and spend the night. After dark I went back on LSD.

    Two things I recall: while poking through belongings tossed about, grayed photos*, artifacts, I found one wool blanket, still pearly white, with red end-stripes. I slept in it then stole and carried it for years. It turned out to be double length, so could be folded to make two covers end to end. But I was hauling it out of a moldering box by moon light. Tripping. That blanket just kept coming!

    I didn’t see how long it was until break of day.

    Also, late some younger townie kids appeared. I had made my bed and lay in it. When they found me I pretended I was sleeping.

    “Sssshhht! There’s a guy there!”

    Scared them shitless, too.

    The high-tension rigor and exactitude of breaking and entry in the nighttime finds no substitute in a youth’s full education. The cat’s curiosity, lightning reflex, perception, decision and attention cannot be equaled in legal play.

    * Source of Kent’s shadow girls?

    G C-H

  43. Lara Glenum

    “Reconoiter,” yes.

    “The high-tension rigor and exactitude of breaking and entry in the nighttime finds no substitute… The cat’s curiosity, lightning reflex, perception, decision and attention cannot be equaled in legal play.

    I think this is what Paul’s up to. Lovely Geoffrey.

    Lara (deep in the Witch House)

    P.S. If you are reading this, YOU, the one who’s now completely gone, I’m never without you. Not for a single second.