05 December 2011

Alice Notley

[from Alice Notley's Culture of One, Penguin, 2011]

Culture of One

Marie made things in the gully: she made her life, sure, more than practically anyone else did, but she wrote things down on paper discarded in the dump and she made figures out of wood and rocks and cord and burntness and whatever. The figures didn't really look like anyone, maybe her a little, and the dogs the same color as everything with wolf mouths, I mean coyote.

Every once in a while a kid burned down her shack, while she was out foraging. Then her works both written and made out of stuff would get burnt. She'd start again. She always remembered how to do it.

Where does culture come from? It comes from the materials you do it with.

When she made the shark out of rotting wood, I guess it was just a fish. A carp, probably, but she called it a shark. She put a little woman in its mouth, but it wasn't her; and it wasn't me, whatever I say. It was the wood calling out. It was just some woman, no it wasn't even a woman.

What are you going to do when they burn up your shack? I don't care, it'll still be great here.


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