Sunday, June 2, 2024

What shall we do with the drinking salesman late in the morning?

I read The Drunken Boat, which is bound together with Rimbaud’s most famous work, A Season in Hell. (Incidentally, Rimbaud is basically pronounced as rainbow. I think Nabokov has a joke about that somewhere. The Sylvester Stallone character Rambo is also named after him.) This stanza’s reference to “islands” in outer space caught my eye:

I’ve seen sidereal archipelagos! Islands
Whose delirious skies open for wanderers:
“Is it in such bottomless nights you sleep, exiled,
O countless golden birds, O Force to come?”

I haven’t read A Season in Hell yet, but I did find this:

In cities, suddenly, the mud seemed red and black like a mirror when the lamp moves about in the adjoining room, like a treasure in the forest! Good luck,I cried, and I saw a sea of flames and smoke in the sky; to the right, to the left all the riches of the world flaming like a billion thunder-bolts.

But to me debauch and the comradeship of women were denied. Not even a companion. I saw myself before infuriated mobs, facing the firing-squad, weeping out of pity for the evil they could not understand, and forgiving! — Like Jeanne d’Arc! — “Priests, professors, masters, you are making a mistake in turning me over to the law. I have never belonged to this people; I have never been a Christian; I am of the race that sang under torture; laws I have never understood; I have no moral sense, I am a brute: you are making a mistake.”

I’ll stop there, since the next paragraph uses the nigger word six times in four lines, and I wouldn’t want to invite the wrath of Google. I may not have much more moral sense than Rimbaud, but I at least understand that you never ever say or write the nigger word, not even when quoting a dead French poet who used the nigger word, not even if he was using it metaphorically and without reference to actual niggers. Even one nigger word would be reckless; six nigger words in one paragraph would be inviting a calamity on the scale of the Night of a Thousand Shits from South Park.

But I digress.

Joan’s snowball, combined with A Season in Hell, made me think of the TMBG song “Snowball in Hell”:


I had forgotten that it includes this line:

I didn’t expect to find a salesman drinking coffee this late in the morning. How long you been here, Joe?

The reference to the drunken (drinking) sailor (salesman) early (late) in the morning is surely intentional. Coffee is something people drink to wake up, and of course the salesman’s name is Joe!

1 comment:

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43291/sailing-to-byzantium

Golden birds, Force to come

Go to the window; it’s dark but clear

In a period of just a few days, the following things happened: On May 30, William Wright proposed that the beings I know as Joan of Arc (Je...