canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Meddles into Preclusion
by Che Elias
Geneva: Six Gallery Press, 2003

Reviewed by a.e.m.

Either do not mention a certain silence (a certain silence which, again, can be determined only within a language and an order that will preserve this silence from contamination by any given muteness), or follow the madman down the road of his exile.

J. Derrida

In his collected Meddles Into Preclusion, Che Elias involves himself without warrant, an act which as the title suggests, makes meddling impossible, makes the poet's own voice shut up.

Nothing figures in these poems. Both the concept and the word. The first example, "Wolves and the Lesson of the Summer," is subtitled "(A POEM)" - an act which immediately calls the poem's existence as poetry "into" question. The opposite of a poem is a medium wave, flying between 100 and 1000 metres (Che's poem's are sometimes delightfully long). "Wolves" transcends the anecdotal by approaching nothing - the state of not being a poem. It's narrative, "the blotch of all those packed," confuses verse with prose - if only in a relative sense. Elias' words traffic in alcoholic metaphors that instate mental and physical confusion: "Moving as a Constant for Days as Wheels / What to lose the Spool of Rotation."

Elias presents difficult and ambitious designs. Nothing is both the beginning and the end of the other it seeks to defeat. Nothing is also the cause of the other's inception: "They have got Nothing Other than Another / Have seen themselves through the starts and Ends of days." Who "they" are, I cannot know. I suspect they are as pure and ambiguous as the void Elias sets swirling, the white page stapled, "blotched," he claims, scarred by letters and words, scurrilous bits of punctuation.

Elias expresses existence as the dissolution of vision, of the nothing. A learning curve composed of mucus. It is felt as much as it is seen. It is the afterbirth of a philosophopoetic exorcism:

There's still time to see how
It seems like a Dissolve
It counted then but later - everything was Gone

In a later piece, Elias attempts to align our conception of nothing with the orthoclasic nature of ghosts. Here still things are only glimpsed. The position of the body refutes Elias' ability to see, to conceptualize, to "meddle."
Ghosts of Children I almost catch of.
Then I turn around see nothing
xxxxxxxxxx if I turn
my body around to position myself at the end of my bed, I can
can see its glow being cast ...
The repetition of "can," the cephalic rotations, otherworldly callanetics indicate the poet's inability to preclude (as well as to not to). This, he claims, means:
To find myself outside of physicality [ . ]
I don't want to link Elias with any of the various voices found in his book. However, each voice shares an inability to preclude based on an incomplete need to meddle:
A man who is apparently
Seems to've been reconstructed as Good as Could've Been after Whatever
degree ..
Apparently. Seems. Whatever. Elias is both irrepressible and restrained. His text shut themselves up without the author's preclusion. His words lurk in view but evade sight. Words are slain and forced to arise, dragged forward by a virgin mother whose tongue has slopped across a thousand dictionaries to make up for the presence of a single man:
There is not a dreadful bone in the pieta
Placed so high that it is hidden from you
I read "word" for "bone." I read gaps and omissions. Meddles Into Preclusion spills vaguaries without piffling, describes phantoms and their architectures, uses otherwordly means. Elias gets at nothing, not with words, not with definitions. Elias employs lack, assembling the inequities of language in order to stubbornly roar the constitution of, what in the end, can only be called calm silence. Elias relies on imposition to qualify absence and nothingness. And I like nothing more.
You could have done a little more ...
If I would impose my own doubt -
then I would see how true doubt was
a.e.m. is Anthony Metievier, TDR's fiction reviews editor.






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