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ISBN: 978 0 856359 47 7
Categories: 20th Century, American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 1991
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
A decade later he stumbled or became confused.
There was no one else along on this outing, so why was he
always flailing his arms majestically? Talking to the walls? Whenever someone'd
cross over to be kind to him it was as though he'd never seen a human face before;
the eyes were runny, the nose ditto, the words were like chopped cotton wool
after he'd forced them out. To drag meaning like this behind one is bad
enough, but to have it beside one is worse, worse than knowing what to do.
Finally the memory became an object
to be passed around for displays of connoisseurship to ignite; this,
one can live in the same house with one's ambitions and
drives and still have the luxury of feeling alone: oh come off it, no
one wants to be alone. And even, you know, accept the occasional invitation
but also slog on unshod, solitary, except for casual greetings from
even more casual acquaintances.
Webster's Dictionary defines a 'flow-chart' as a 'schematic diagram...showing the progress of materials through the various stages of a manufacturing process'.
In this Flow Chart, a book-length poem, John Ashbery charts the ebb and flow of life perceived - and perhaps lived - through the almost sacred art of self-reflection, What emerges is a procession of tones, moods and passions, meditation with no predetermined conclusion, journey with no firm destination. His materials include the stuff of every-day reality and every-night dream; dialogues with self, soul and an unnamed 'significant other'; and a stream of consciousness that illuminates in flashes the personal metaphysic that is the poem's undrelying subject.
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