M. T. C. Cronin: from GOD IS WAITING / GOD IS WEIRD
Translator's Introduction To God
There is a wrong god and there is a worthless god. But there is not a right god and there is no priceless god.
There is a Hand-God.
There is a god simply words.
'The poet tries to read God in his original language, convinced from birth that the foreign translations are of little use.' 1
'This word adore is Latin, and has many different meanings: it signifies putting a hand to one's mouth when speaking with respect, bowing, kneeling, saluting, and finally, most generally, offering a supreme worship. Nothing but ambiguities.' 2
All introductions to God are ambiguous because there is no way to address God.
Translated all these lines say 'How do you say it?'
Foreword by No One
'No one desired is unchanged: the god of many cannot remain the true god.' 3 No one is of the opinion that everyone agrees everything they read. No one really knows. No one is undesired? No one is unchanged? No one thinks – yet – that all questions are more exactly unreconcilable with their answers. No one knows the difference between true and real. No one seems to care that it is true that the true does not need to stay true. No one can question what is real? No one does not question what is real. No one can judge the unreal by reality. No one can determine reality. No one knows if god's not real. No one does not desire to know if god's real? No one does not desire? No one does not change? No one asks how many. No one understands how many is many. No one knows which gods remain. No one should be told that whichever gods they are they are not desired. No one wants to know that. No one cannot think? No one knows what anyone really thinks. No one knows if someone cannot think. No one is not the only person who cannot speak. No one does not believe no one. No one said this. No one believes it. No one is not no one. (Or is it the case – according to the true god – that no one is no one?)
Unknown to no one. No one is God. God is no one.
GOD CREATES THE WORLD
WITH A GOLDEN CIRCLE FROM THE CHAOS
'God creates the world with a golden circle from the chaos.' 4
Like an expert tracker, God widens and widens the circle
until its circumference fits over the edge of being.
Then God locks it.
With us inside.
With all of creation inside.
Nietzsche rushes up and breaks his nose on it.
From his bloody handkerchief mutters
'Around the hero everything becomes a tragedy, around the demi-god a satyr-play; and around God everything becomes – what? Perhaps a 'world'?–' 5
Wittgenstein sneaks out to touch part of the circle's curve.
Turns back to us and whispers.
Is it possible he says
'Well, it is impossible to get lost!'
Dear Rilke, without moving from his spot, calls out
'You do not need to go forward to it, but only to go back'. 6
Several unnamed mothers stand around giggling;
a small girl plays with her bangle.
It is pointless to keep describing personal reactions.
The thing is the thing is.
And chaos limps off, momentarily with less,
while God promises to return the gold (with interest!).
GODS ON REALITY
'Gods evidently see reality differently.' 7 We don't see it at all. Instead of reality we find evidence of things. We say this means that. We say 'Let the gods speak softly of us' 8 and if we overhear their whispering we say it isn't real. We use hypocrisy to approximate sanity. The gods allow us this because they, themselves, contradicted themselves by creating us. They know that if reality was humanly discernible our potential for being reasonable would fade in direct proportion to the appearance of each thing real. Why do they not want this? Because they have been waiting a long time to have a proper conversation with us. A conversation where we become as real to them as they are unreal to us. Such a talk should, hopefully, reverse the situation. In other words, they want to stop scaring the living daylights out of us so that they can cease arguing about our uselessness. It reflects badly on them all, making the whole thing appear as though it may just be a dream and not really happening at all. Which of course they know it is and which is why they have supplied us with a surfeit of illusion. Once we have identified the leftover bits we'll understand the difference between thinking something is real and really thinking something.
The wishes of the gods
Are that the gods might reappear
Like beautiful undressed women
Out of the smoke
Which screens our hearts
Made of us
As the sleep
So taken are we
With the magician's
Sleight of hand
We believe what we see
Stem bursting into flower
Life under our hats
We believe what we see
We probably believe
In a glass case of water
God tries to look like
It's a matter of life
But the audience
God doesn't have to get
Out on time
And they know it
With you and me
Up the sleeve
God doesn't have an ace
God clears the deck
GOD'S UNACCOUNTABLE NOSTALGIA FOR THE PAGAN
Not so unaccountable really.
God loved the pagans because they came to all God's parties. They introduced God to other gods that God didn't know existed. They didn't bother much – or even at all – for religion, something that has always given God hives. Unlike the enthusiastically religious, the pagans were rarely spoil-sports and were generally capable of finding fun without too much help from outside forces. And finally, there was listening. The pagans were the only ones God could bitch to about God's job (God worked as a Symbol). No-one else wanted to know about the long hours standing for something or the problems God encountered from undue veneration. To the others it was all worship and begging and expecting God to work on religious holidays. And then there were the pagans – responsible, yet easygoing; sympathetic in any weather; and always ready with a cup of wine and a basket of bread. Wouldn't you be nostalgic? Especially when most pagans these days refuse to get by on the reality that God retired years ago. They treat him like you would a father-in-law who was a mechanic or old cousin Thingamy who practised for forty years as a gynaecologist. Phone calls on balmy Sunday afternoons saying there's a funny noise in my engine or calls to God's mobile in the middle of the night, 'I know you are more familiar with women's problems but I'm having trouble getting it up'. As if God could help even if God was still working. An old greasemonkey might grease till the grave and a retired gyno may still be able to find the G-spot, but a symbol no longer employed is a symbol no longer symbolic. Defunct. Not that God is. God's in a very comfortable nursing home with a bunch of other old gods. They all continue to represent in small ways – charades, one-act dramas, mimes – but it's all pretend, all for fun. They are now simply characters though each and every one has left a mark on their shared profession.
So, not so unaccountable really, God's nostalgia for the pagan, as long as we're talking the old really really heathen ones. You can bet that today's gods, when they retire, won't remember the neo-pagans with any comparable degree of affection.
THE ONLY ONLY GOD
I caught the only only god
In the net of everything
Immediately the god
Broke into pieces
Whose numbers equalled
The holes in my net
Since that day I search
For these uncountable gods
With the net of nothing
A net with no holes
Which remains empty
Despite all it catches
THE EVOLUTION OF GOD
God evolved from the tension in the I. From a little bit of respectableness. There was a red flashing image – perhaps a word – , then dissimilitude and dissemblance. After this came protocol and after protocol, recognition of the misshapen creature. (Though it should live it is not counted as one of the children.) Phenomena now had a link between each. God could be represented in different ways. Vast in the midst. A pot-pourri. A vowel-point or a large vertical fishing-net whose ends are brought together and hauled. A less usual form of advantage. The evolution of God goes on. And on. Becoming. All things to all men. A valve. Roasted fungi to the hungry thing rattling the bushel. A terrible state; shafts resting on trestles. The extent to which a thing varies – for example, the whole of creation – is only where God rests from evolving. Usually God exploits this coffee break to destroy what is beautiful.
IN OUR OWN IMAGE
I am rare.
There is only one of me.
What a creative God.
No two of us alike.
But all made.
We are told.
In God's image.
What a multi-faceted God.
By the intellectual property lawyers.
Into applying for a patent.
For his creations.
But what a consumer-society God.
We all break.
Tossed on the scrap-heap.
What a green God.
Only using recycled materials.
Man into stone.
And stone into man.
What an unfussy God.
A god for every man.
The Chinese God.
Always Chinese. 9
An angry God.
For the angry.
In fact a God.
Made in our own image.
Just like us.
Just as rare.
A little bit of trivia from this morning's French news: there is a new god. This god is going to try to be perfect. The old one was. We shall have more faith in this new god because it tries. The old one didn't try at all. Like a sullen child seeking indemnity against failure and the disappointment of all those watching. Those with vested interests.
So, what's in the bulletin?
The new god has been bred to brave the elements. Self-made ones.
The new god can do a cartwheel into the surf and can squat like a baby elephant under something much larger than itself.
The new god is a salsa addict and follows the buzz.
It's a god that has everything in between, though you might ask, Why the French?
The home of foie gras and black truffles is the first to discover this god because the inhabitants have been reared on stiff walks and know there is much more to savour in life than food and churches.
Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera. 10
GOD ISN'T DEAD, JUST INDIFFERENT
God didn't intend anything absurd. Not the sasquatch or the French military cap. Not anonymous works or acedia. A bunch of strata heads, a board of select men, the virile magistrate with 'an intolerable burden of dealing in inches' 11, the deceased Mrs X and the living Mrs X – God didn't intend any of them. As they are all here, however, God, having not intended them, ignores them. This leads some to believe that God is dead. Proof that he isn't is sometimes based on a lack of proof.
In a buggy meant for the moon, God – looking like he's visited a taxidermist – travels from airport to airport. Like Prince William (Windsor) whose 'precious memories are of meeting real people with his mother [Princess Diana]', 12 God keeps his eyes open. Problem is, he's a bit like a text – circulating without content, ie., open to interpretation.
But there's only one way to read him. His indifference is because he sees us all for what we are – dead people.
1 Eugenio Montejo, 'Fragments', The Trees, Selected Poems 1967-2004, (translated by Peter Boyle), Salt Publishing, Cambridge, 2004, p141.
2 Voltaire, 'Idole, idolatre, idolatrie; Idol, idolator, idolatry', Philosophical Dictionary, trans. and ed. Theodore Besterman, Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1971, p238.
3 James Richardson, '138', Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays, Ausable Press, Keene, NY, USA, 2001, p31 .
4 Bernhard Grossfeld, 'Comparative Legal Semiotics: Numbers in Law', *p39, speaking of the words in the image, "deus geometra" of the French-Lorraine "bible moralisé" (from about 1215, now in the Bodleyan Library in Oxford. Grossfeld's source for it was a reprinted picture in Benoit B Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, New York, New York, 1977 and states 'Mandelbrot loosely translates the French text on top of the picture: "Here God creates circles, waves, and fractals".' (Footnote 9, p39.)
5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (translated and with an Introduction and Commentary by R.J. Hollingdale), Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1973, p84 (from 'Maxims and Interludes').
6 A butchery of a phrase of Rilke's (speaking of dying), 'he did not need to go forward to it, but only to go back'. Rainer Maria Rilke, 'Note-book Entry', Rodin and Other Prose Pieces, (with an Introduction by William Tucker), Quartet Books Limited, London, 1986, p115.
7 Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet, Dalkey Archive Press, Illinois State University, 1998 (1986), p162.
8 Ezra Pound, 'Doria', Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound, New Directions Books, New York, 1976, p193.
9 With thanks to Wallace Stevens.
10 Help yourself and Heaven will help you.
11 S.Y. v S.Y. [Orse W]  p37, p51.
12 Nicholas Davies, 'Mama is watching over me', Woman's Day, 3 September, 2001, p9.