NoxIn scrapbook form, Anne Carson has set out to create an epitaph portrait of her brother True to scrapbook form, Nox is an assemblage of fragments Her brother, too, is portrayed as a fragmented person His voice was like his voice with something else crusted on it, black, dense She withholds his name until the end Even then, she does not provide his birth name, but his assumed name having changed his name after running away to escape arrest.Their relationship, too, is fragmented he phoned me maybe 5 times in 22 years Indeed, Nox is than a portrait of Carson s brother it is a portrait of the relationship between brother sister, mother son, mother daughter it is a self portrait by the sister daughter, and a portrait of every daughter in a patriarchal family structure that favours the son.Carson relates how, on her mother s death bed, her mother offered her a box with all of the letters she had received She could take or leave all of the letter in the box including letter Carson had written her mother with the exception of one The one your brother wrote from France you know that winter the girl died Carson relates how her brother was many times compared to Lazarus in appearance More than one person has pointed our to me a likeness between my brother and Lazarus The comparison to her brother is superficial, but from it Carson draws something significant She chronicles Lasarus s muteness in his various passages from the Bible, along with his muteness in a painting by Giotto notice the person with raised hands and no mouth perhaps his sister placed behind Lazarus to load this space with muteness.Nothing is revealing than this description of Giotto s painting This is what elevates Carson s work, her ability to connect and illuminate, to write a text about her brother that is not simply a portrait of her brother, not simply a self portrait, but a profound meditation on family and loss. I purchased this beautiful artefact for my girlfriend last Xmas and received not the rapturous response required A year later, I had a look Too many verso entries from the Latin dictionary fail to spoil this quietly affecting and visually calorific tribute to a mercurial dead brother It is the sort of thing that one might appreciate in the wake of a loss, as Michael Silverblatt explains in this Bookworm episode, on which Anne Carson reads a poem from the book in Latin. Nox Is An Epitaph In The Form Of A Book, A Facsimile Of A Handmade Book Anne Carson Wrote And Created After The Death Of Her Brother The Poem Describes Coming To Terms With His Loss Through The Lens Of Her Translation Of Poem By Catullus For His Brother Who Died In The Troad Nox Is A Work Of Poetry, But Arrives As A Fascinating And Unique Physical Object Carson Pasted Old Letters, Family Photos, Collages And Sketches On Pages The Poems, Typed On A Computer, Were Added To This Illustrated Book Creating A Visual And Reading Experience So Amazing As To Open Up Our Concept Of Poetry An elegy for an older brother Carson grew up with but she didn t know as an adult, really The last twenty two years of his life, she had five phone calls from him Two weeks after he died she was contacted by his last wife, who revealed that the love of his life was really another woman he had never married We learn Carson s mother mourned his loss for much of her life We don t know much about Carson s own relationship to her brother Not really.Carson is the amazing Canadian classicist and poet and maker of interesting non traditional books, equally comfortable writing about Sappho as being Sappho in her passionate poetry One of the most attractive aspects of this book is its format, an accordion like production that comes in a large box, which would appear to be the facsimile of a process On facing pages she seems to have torn entries out of Latin English dictionaries and or written her own translations of words such as loss and grief and brother and so on, and on the opposite facing pages we have entries in notebooks, copies of old 1950s photographs of them together, quotes from Basho, various other thinkers and poets She has scraps of letters from him, scraps of her notes from telephone conversations, a spare narrative pieced together, some reflections, very little there of substance about him Ephemera of grief Longing to have known Some sketches, drawings Feels fading and faded, much of it, as if it is moving steadily and inexorably to dust.The point would seem to be that we and language itself are unknowable, untranslatable Carson translates works from authors centuries old in ancient languages that would seem to be continually fading away, lost to an increasing number of us The meaning of words in translation get lost It s like trying to make meaning from some ancient archaeological dig In the wind In the dark In Nox Carson s brother s words are few and reveal little about his life He never contacted his mother in the last seven years of her life I am reminded of Jack in Marilyn Robinson s Home and Gilead, the prodigal son missing for that same number, 22 years, but suddenly home, so we can now learn a bit in scraps and jots about why he was gone for so long Carson s brother does not do Carson and her family the same favor, so we can t have a novel about him Only scraps and jots Part of the mourning is having and knowing so little, and now gone Absence What does it mean What sense can you make of a brother, long gone, now dead Nox Night, in Latin Nox A chemical compound, nitric oxide, a free radical.Nox A counter to the Lumos charm in Harry Potter.Nox scraps of light in a box stole this from Lee, thanks For a classical scholar, Carson seems to me always to be remarkably experimental and unstuffy, but I know she would probably tell me that my comment reveals my ignorance about some of the fiery and passionate and often free form work from the antiquities Like Sappho This elegy reminds me of the remembrance of David Foster Wallace by his wife, Karen Green, Bough Down, which also uses some art to express what the written language cannot seem to do The ineffable The source of the lyric, what we call the poetic, just on the edge of language meaning.We don t get to know Carson s brother, but we get to know the sad Carson a little here, in grief for the brother she never really knew as an adult, now gone Like us, faced with meaning making in a sometimes always void, with precious words Ineffable Nox. I read this text as part of the curriculum for a university sponsored weeklong poetry seminar I love poetry, but readily admit that I don t read as much of it as I should My encounter with this book and the others from that week really broadened the horizons of my limited experience Anne Carson uses than her words to create her elegy for her dead brother she uses pictures and other relics of their childhood, interviews with people from their past, and the definitions of Latin words All of these things work together to present a sketchy outline of the brother she had not really known Part of her grief stems from his loss, part in the fact that he was lost to her long before his death She leaves us, the reader, with questions of our own as she never reveals how he actually died To me, this was symbolic of her own unanswered questions at the end. Some straightforward observations about Anne Carson s elegy Nox it comes in a large box, like a rectangular room Inside the box is a free floating accordion style book, which though beautiful is difficult to hold comfortably in the hand it bends and twists as one turns the pages The book the room opens with an elegy by Catullus for his dead brother, in the original Latin, whose physical appearance is smudged and water stained, and whose import is, of course, obscure to non Latin speaking readers This entry way then opens out in at least two directions for the rest of the book, the left hand pages contain lexicographical entries enumerating the shades of each word from the Catullus poem while the right hand pages gingerly prod the story of Carson s own brother his haunted life and his sudden death The non Latin speaking reader, attempting to allow the lexical entries to gradually elucidate Catullus s poem, performs a kind of reading gymnastics, holding the accordion folded book open at the page she has reached, using one finger to mark the location of the Latin verse for easy reference, and balancing the whole outer box in either her palms or her lap.I was drawn by the presentation of Nox, but I didn t realize at first how integral it is to the experience of meaning in the poem Carson, like the reader, is handling an unwieldy object as she explores her brother s life and death one she doesn t know quite how to approach, or hold together one that threatens to slide out of her hands or unravel like the accordion folded pages of Nox one whose shadings and repercussions are difficult to tease out, reflecting one one another unexpectedly like a hall of mirrors The necessity of supporting an unfamiliar shape makes one feel the full weight of the object in one s hands this box or book, or the reality of a loved one s death She writes, of the Catullus poem that begins and permeates her own work,I never arrived at the translation I would have liked to do of poem 101 But over the years of working at it, I came to think of translating as a room, not exactly an unknown room, where one gropes for the light switch I guess it never ends A brother never ends I prowl him He does not end.Carson s poem, like her concept of translation and grief, is three dimensional in content as well as form The parallel threads of lexicographical entries and personal passages interspersed with reproductions of personal mementos actual letters, photographs, letterhead play off each other in an almost endlessly resonant way I was surprised to find myself especially intrigued by the dictionary entries, suggesting as they do the wealth of connotative possibility lying just beneath the skin of language, and also how little of language lies in the words themselves Supplied only with each word s definition, in the absence of a grammar relating them to one another, any understanding of Catullus s poem 101 remained frustratingly elusive Take Carson s definition of the word vectus, which occurs in Catullus s opening line Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus vectusveho vehere vexi vectum cf Skt vahati, Gk , OHG wagan,Eng wain to convey from one place toanother by bodily effort, to carry arider , to convey of vehicles, ships,etc , to carry of draught animals ofthings, with diminished idea of motion to sustain a load to cause to betransported, bring of wind, water, etc to carry along, bear along in periculavectus driven into danger of time tocarry with it, bring to cause to extendor stretch from one point to another totravel by some or other conveyance totravel by sea, sail to ride, drive poetical to be carried on wings, fly vecta spolia borne in triumph pernoctem in nihilo vehi to vanish bynight into nothing quod fugiens semelhora vexit what the transient hourbrought once and only once.Several things The first, which struck me over and over with these entries, is that they are lovely This reads as a poem in its own right, from the surface elements bolded title at the top and narrow, verse like formatting one the page , to its introduction and development of a theme, to the way it takes that theme to another level through juxtaposition of unexpected images and metaphors The examples of usage, of course, speak to Carson s larger themes driven into danger what the transient hour brought only once to vanish by night into nothing all of these fragments swim into the realm of loss and death Remarkably, the word nox and also noctis, nocte, noctum, meaning night , never actually appears in poem 101, but is mentioned over and over in the definitions of the words Catullus does use in the entry on multas we get multa nox late in the night, perhaps too late the entry on aequora gives us inmensumne noctis aequor confecimus have we made it across the vast plain of night and even an innocent conjunction like et and gives us et nocte you know it was night Gradually, then, nox becomes a kind of ghostly presence, suffusing the whole of poem 101 despite never being seen itself Similarly, the narrator of Nox feels she never understood or even really saw her brother, but cannot escape the reality of his now permanent absence.These definitions also emphasize how many different shades of meaning a single word can have, and the difficulty in choosing a path on which to approach a piece of writing If every one of the fifty plus words in poem 101 has as many different senses as vectus, how is one to arrive at a single, definitive translation, or even a sense of the poem s meaning that will fit inside one s head Is the word, in this instance, being used in a manner that contains its connotation of bodily effort, or in its poetic sense of being carried along by wings Is it closer to connoting bearing a load, or being driven into danger oneself Are we sailing, or driving Is something being carried from one place to another, or caused to extend between the two points All of these meanings inhere within the word itself add to that the absence of a grammar specifying how these word islands are linked together, and Carson s metaphorical room of meaning is dark indeed Similarly island like are the scraps of connection she manages to salvage from a lifetime of scant contact with her brother the single letter he sent from Copenhagen the two phone calls in five years the body language of old photographs How does it all connect What is the grammar linking these disparate definitions and scattershot senses into a coherent picture Perhaps germaine if we can t fit it into a coherent picture, how do we make peace with the dead Mother is dead.Yes I guess she is.She had a lot of pain because of you.Yes I guess she did.Why didn t you write.Well it was hard for me.Are you sick.No.Do you work.Yes.Are you happy.No Oh no.Nox is truly a beautiful, affecting piece, and I feel I ve only started exploring its dark reaches A final note I would be very interested to hear how a reader who knows or has studied Latin would interact with Carson s elegy, since so much of my own reading experience hinged on trying to make sense of an unknown yet oddly familiar language, and relating that to the speaker s attempts to make sense of death, which is also unknown yet familiar I imagine, though, that even in the case of a poem in one s native language, the overwhelming number of interpretive possibilities represented by word combinations would still hold true, as would Carson s own journey throughout these pages. Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light Human words have no main switch But all those little kidnaps in the dark And then the luminous, big, shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of them that hangs in your mind when you turn back to the page you were trying to translate Anne Carson, NOX To read NOX is like unwinding an ancient scroll, or following a frieze around the porch of a temple, or tracing a history twisting down a column, or walking through a house in Pompeii, with story in tiny bright fragments underfoot, painted in walls, and carved into the wood of couches Jane AlisonEverything that makes NOX hybrid and modern also makes it ancient, taking us back thousands of years to when fiction, nonfiction, and poetry were not penned in separate rooms, when shades of the same story might equally appear as a red figure painting on a vase or as a voice singing in darkness.Because it is both so modern and ancient, because it looks back thousands of years and finds blood still quick in the oldest flesh of narrative, NOX has made me renew my vows to this nervy act of reading and writing the barking web of image and word. I don t have much to say about this work except that it is the highest purest most beautiful thing a human being can create to honor someone who has passed away No other epitaph could surpass this one. I blabber a lot about hybridity in writing Can poetry intersect nonfiction Can fiction play a role in both either I like playing with form and genre and breaking concepts of what genre is expected to be I came across Nox in some of my research on these sorts of topics but, as usual, didn t investigate it too much beforehand I put in a request at my campus library and waited for it to arrive When the notification showed up in my email that this was ready to be picked up, I was eager to get my paws on it And when I got there and the work study student stared at the box on the counter and looked at me and looked at the box and then looked to her boss I knew I was in for a treat Her boss called from her office, Yes, the box She requested the box I requested the box.I didn t know the book I ordered would come in a box But there it was The work study student picked it up, almost gingerly, and handed it to me I don t think she stopped staring at the box by that point It was like she expected it to maybe bite her.Anne Carson wrote this for her brother after he died It was a handmade book with paper glued to the pages and photographs and dictionary definitions It was a way for Carson to make sense of her grief, it was part of her process And here, for all of us, is a facsimile of the handmade book, Carson created Perhaps to help us each with whatever we are grieving We all grieve something Someone.The pages are accordion style You could stretch all the pages out on the floor if you desire to, and then walk from one end to the other It works like that Or just turning the heavy pages as though you re reading a typical book You can jump in anywhere Life is an accordion style timeline.Herodotos tells us the king made this bowl in order to leave behind a memory or monument of the number The number itself who knows History can be at once concrete and indecipherable Historian can be a storydog that roams around Asia Minor collecting bits of muteness like burrs in its hide Note that the word mute from Latin mutus is regarded by linguists as an onomatopoeic formation referring not to silence but to a certain fundamental opacity of human being, which likes to show the truth by allowing it to be seen hiding Compare the Latin word mutmut, representation of a muttering sound, used by Apuleius In cigarette smoke soaked Copenhagen, under a wide thin sorrowful sky, as swans drift down the water, I am looking a long time into the muteness of my brother It resists me He refuses to be cooked a modern historian might say in my transactional order To put this another way, there is something that facts lack Overtakelessness is a word told me by a philospher once das Unumgangliche that which cannot be got round Cannot be avoided or seen to the back of And about which one collects facts it remains beyond them.I can be a bit iffy on books that feel gimmicky At times during reading this I wondered if it was gimmicky than was necessary, until I remembered, again, this is a facsimile of what Carson created to deal with her grief How dare I accuse that of being gimmicky My mentor this semester recently wrote in one of her feedback letters to me I think the different points of view you use work, but I like quirky writing Quirky Writing I haz it I m still processing that.But that s the point Well, it s my point and since a lot of what I read is for my own research, that s the perspective I take when studying these things Genre is fluid Let s break some boundaries Let s cross some streams Let s see what might happen In my case, it won t be an accordion style collection of writing, definitions, letters, and photographs tucked away inside a box But I can appreciate why Carson did that To her, that made sense.Let s all write what makes sense to us. If, possibly, one could describe what Nox is as a work of abstract poetry it could possibly be considered a kind of meta elegy Because, in many different ways Nox is a haunting work that talks about the elegiac mode while existing as an elegy in and of itself The title itself appears to be from the Latin for different variations of night or nightfall therefore reflecting the age old idea of death being like sleeping or passing into shadow The book itself is structured like a journal with the interesting gimmick of accordion folded pages set inside a box, rather than a true hardcover There are scraps and fragments of Latin dictionary definitions alongside handwritten and typed notes At the same time a poetic commentary from Anne Carson herself exists intermittently and in many regards this fragmented, fractured prose poetry seems to show a sense of grief and loss to a far greater extent than any structured eloquent piece of work could That is not to say that Carson lacks eloquence, indeed, she is very well versed in how to utilise language, it is simply that her work possesses a raw emotionally jaggedness that comes across to the reader The fact that Nox does not even appear like a true book is the most obvious statement made by Anne Carson to the reader Though there is a sense of the gimmick as noted above there is also the sense that Carson attempts to school the reader that grief destroys all sense of form and the known That, when night falls upon a soul, there is a sense of total destruction of normality or formality, at least initially Anne Carson herself describes the book as being based on a poem of Catulluswhose brother died in Troy when Catullus was living in ItalyIn my book I printed out the text of the poem, and then took it apartI dismantled the Catullus poem, one word per page, and I put the Latin word and its lexical definition on the left hand side, and then on the right hand side a fragment of a memory of my brother s life that related to the left hand side of the page Where the lexical entry didn t relate, 1 changed it So I smuggled in stuff that is somewhat inauthentic But it makes the left and the right cohere, so that the whole thing tells the story of the translation of the poem, and also dismantles my memory of my brother s life sourced here In retrospect it is apparent as to how Carson has used form and her sensibility to convey this other poem in respect to her own experience Isn t that how all readers must take literature In connection to their own experience Other reviews have also noted the form of Nox transforms the book into than a book It becomes a document or an artefact, a work of memory and a monument to a lost life All of which is in general the aim of the elegy Yet the fact that Carson can talk about other elegies and about mourning as an act makes this work a kind of meta elegy as already noted So this book becomes than merely a work of non fiction where Carson describes her reactions to hearing that her almost unknown brother who hurt her mother has died It becomes a work of non fiction for all those who have lost someone in their lives And therefore it becomes a work for all those who read literature because it is concerned with both life and death The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death When literature becomes too intellectual when it begins to ignore the passions, the emotions it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substanceIsaac Bashevis Singer

Anne Carson is a Canadian poet, essayist, translator and professor of Classics Carson lived in Montreal for several years and taught at McGill University, the University of Michigan, and at Princeton University from 1980 to 1987 She was a 1998 Guggenheim Fellow, and in 2000 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship She has also won a Lannan Literary Award.Carson with background in classical langu

[PDF / Epub] ★ Nox Author Anne Carson –
  • Hardcover
  • 192 pages
  • Nox
  • Anne Carson
  • English
  • 22 April 2019
  • 9780811218702

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