Brainography by Evelyn Posamentier
(The Argotist Online's EBook Series, 2010 , 2010)
To see the true nature of things, we need the glasses: it is not that we have to take off ideological glasses in order to see reality directly as it is – we are ‘naturally’ in ideology, our natural sight is ideological.
-Slavoj Zizek, The Plague of Fantasies
Evelyn Posamentier’s poetry is scarce in words. You will find no self-loathing descriptions in which you can bathe. Her experience on this earth has left her with much more than what an average human being usually wishes to know. You will have truths, of the kind that do not need confirmations or further experimentation; they are lapidary, etched on paper or on the screen, nothing needs to be intuited. The reader’s intuition is called forth, but under a different aspect and in a different context. Should we define it as empathic? Or should we simply say that this is a kind of poetry that takes you to the core of the red thread of life, and like the first Christian teachings it is better to throw the adepts of virtue to the hungry lions rather than comply with the tireless whispers of our consciousness. Let’s just bang it out with distorted sounds, traffic clanking, squeezed-in timetables, heaps of work to be absolutely done, the primate of the absolute I in its schizophrenic state: without me nothing goes on. The economy of the Poet’s lexicon, homeless, as Posamentier defines it, is sharp; it pulls down walls and tears apart.
In the Book of Proverbs, chapter eight, King Solomon tells it this way, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the Earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth… Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth… when he appointed the foundations of the Earth. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his Earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.”
Irene Hickman, Mind Probe-Hypnosis
In GENETICS, Evelyn talks of a girl. A young girl with a disability already knows what kind of fate is out there waiting for her, no colorful bubbles, nor babbles, flirting? What for, why, who should if you are not Ok, is the very understandable answer of any palatable boy. How can you take away from a teenager the thrill of a soul-mate, the consumers’ empire built around the falling-in-love hectic activity: make-up, diets, jogging, cell-phones to keep up with dates and chats, the old fairy tales heavily dragged from childhood’s cellars and attics, and repainted in cartoons and romance, be them literary or third rate. The girl is very young, Posamentier talks of the first menstruation. Maybe thirteen, fourteen, but not older. Maybe not even a teen, yet. The brain scan talks to experts. A progressive disease, and so forth. Some Christ’s have their cross ready at an early age. Nonetheless they fight. They are the ones who are given the possibility of scanning through the densest illusion history has ever created: ads as roots of the busy our generation has become, and the one that preceded us, and we are their impeccable soldiers in out tweed suits tweeting amiably with strangers. Again, what is poetry, what and who are we, what this consummate show? What of the voice? Optional have become our basic instinctive necessities: sleep, food, clothes; survival survives itself by inertia. Justification versus truth, already Richard Rorty.
Let’s follow our Author into THE ALLEY. What happens when the outside is so overwhelming that you cannot deal with it anymore? You just split, and see from a distance the incomprehensible meandering. They tell you and you feel as if you were watching a movie. “truth talks to brain in alley.” Oh, yes, a certain truth is said, but there are so many truths, and anyhow this is one of the many alleys in town, and anyhow, “this city does not consider itself allied with me.” Thus, nothing but sad news can come from here. The same shaded tone pervades ELEVEN BRAINS. Not one, but eleven brains show the poet’s interior impossibility of being able to manage the situation. They are printed out, an everyday routine, the one of printing, and here come eleven tomographies out of the copier to witness. Fundamentally what? I am tempted to ask.
TONGUES leads us to a deeper emotional vision of the offering given to the gods. By now the girl has accepted her trial and vivisects the outcome in high poetic tones. In THE SOCIETY Posamentier steps into what has become her world, her voice, although sad, is here, attentive, hyper-sensitized, catching. A sensitization of the hippocampus? Do we know what we are doing?
The prognosis is difficult to predict; it depends on the subtype of the disease, the individual patient's disease characteristics, the initial symptoms and the degree of disability the person experiences as time advances (from Wikipedia).
A trip the length of her life, back and forth, ALONG FOR THE RIDE, and the voice is stronger: “body cares not about whereabouts of the disease.” Those who know better would state that lovers always betray. It is the law of electricity, not McLuhan’s, but Galvani’s faith in the signals of nerve cells. An eleven-brained woman with ELECTRIC EYES goes surreal into vastnesses foreign to us, although we are willingly led through toxins and meet doctors. The woman in THE CERAMIC BEAR denounces her stiffness, while the girl is still present and comes to her rescue. It is not the woman’s fault, the easiness by which the physical and metaphysical collide becomes fearful, it is the girl in the photo to remind her of the breath of life. Out of the Genesis comes Lot’s wife, turned into a pillar of salt for having looked at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in 404: OBJECT NO FOUND. Lot’s wife wins over the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible to underline the power of brain. BRAIN STANDS AT ATTENTION is the battle of the human versus the chemical. How and in which way, and up to where do we have to accept clinical trials, medicines, us, and chemistry, the bionic entity asks and contemplates: “canister for biohazardous waste awaits the used needles” in SPRING IS IN THE AIR. And it is in BRAIN TAKES THE SCENIC ROUTE that brain is finally able to rescue the inevitable nightmares girl has had when facing her far future. Nerve cells damage and atrophy trigger life in the “homeless bodies,” in a house where “disease holds all the cards,” STEP OVER leads the girl somewhere, with curiosity we follow her. One by one, we come along with her. I have read these poems over and over again, and each time they lead me somewhere else. THERE GOES the insistence from the outside: “tell us about your symptoms.” Where is the identity of the sick, the due respect towards those who are suffering. Which symptoms, what. We will all have different symptoms, what is this continuous entering through the skin, the skull, in the blood, the guts of the sick. God, just let us be, sick or not. With Skype, cameras, soon three-dimensional trips already experimented by Laurie Anderson, where will we be able to find our selves?
In SOMEONE WITH MY NAME SPEAKS ILL there is the inevitable insurgence against the naïve self, in discomfort, consolation or hope, let alone dream, die down, although the girl will indeed support the elderly and the sick: “Let the children come to me.” And she comes also with the magnetic resonance in MAGNETIC SQUADS, BARCODE BLUES where RFIDs are beloved, and in DOCTOR WHISPERS OF THE CORPUS CALLOSUS “hardly a word overheard by the girl in the photo.”
It is true, Modernism found out that one could tell the story of a mind instead of the story of a body, but was it really a discovery?
Lidia Vianu, The After Mode
Posamentier’s Brainiography is not postmodern, premodern, modern, cubist, nor surrealist. It simply is. It tells to those who wish to listen. Few stop to look at death or illnesses. It is the doc’s duty, even very few docs do their job and fewer than few listen. The uncomfortable sickness and old age are.
And we hide our sufferance, cry at night or unseen. I praise the courage of the Poet for these grains that are vivid, small, little drops of soul conveyed to those who are absent and open them to a greater understanding, allowing man to be human.
Anny Ballardini lives in Bolzano, Italy, and grew up in New York. A poet, translator and interpreter, she recently won a scholarship for a Ph.D in Linguistics at the U of Verona, teaches high school; edits Poet’s Corner, an online poetry site; and writes a blog: Narcissus Works. She has translated several contemporary poets into Italian and English. Her collections of poetry: Opening and Closing Numbers, was published by Moria Press in 2005; Ghost Dance in 33 Movements by Otoliths appeared in print in 2009.