Sunday, July 17, 2011

Out from Otoliths—Raymond Farr's ECSTATIC/.of facts

ECSTATIC/.of facts
Raymond Farr
112 pages
Otoliths, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9808785-3-0
$13.45 + p&h

In ECSTATIC/.of facts Raymond Farr brilliantly investigates the relationship between language, meaning and culture by vividly demonstrating how language can shape worlds. In an insightful and stimulating journey, Farr takes an intense and often playful walk through landscapes of significance in which we are faced with the “Onslaught of language,” only to find that the “amber light of meaning stares back.” To discover meaning in something as “fundamental as chaos,” we need go no further than American suburban culture of generic mega stores, chain restaurants, popular music and blockbuster movies. Reframing these ubiquitous icons in discursive language results in an effect rather like “Marcel Duchamp…singing songs once sung by Doris Day.”

Things are not, Farr shows us, as they seem – the daily reality we experience is not the only reality. With an astute sense of phrasing and rhythm, Raymond Farr explores the interplay of language and culture by taking us through “all possible versions of a straight line” to learn that there is “a cubicle in a circle after blue skies on Saturday night.” We are urged to take linguistic responsibility for the structure of the present instance through being reminded that, “We are the consequence of cause & affect,” and that only “moments ago there was the illusion of nothing.”

The dialectical “I” in these poems is our collective aloneness in the desert of constant traffic noise. Despite our need to belong, we are ultimately alone, members only of ourselves. Overwhelmed by the lies we tell ourselves to make the terror of existence bearable, our lives become “a dream we dream to the end of the world.” Farr invites us to strip away all pretence so we can listen closely to the amorphous flux of the real, where perhaps we will hear “the prayers of angels being answered in the dark,” and glimpse the inner heart where “answers are vague” and the “only true conclusion, we conclude, is always inconclusiveness.” In the end, we have only our shadows to lose. —John C. Goodman, author of naked beauty and editor of ditch

No new cities are being built. That arrangement is palimpsest. Boroughs carved by a metonymy. And oscillation. One may artery about thing, about a place, or both. Each fact is a tenement to situation a place from which oscillations are discerned. ECSTATIC/.of facts courses within this layout, and Farr engages in no liminal simplification charting arrays of snarl. —Matthew Johnstone, author of Let’s be close Rope to mast, you Old light

Cold, hard facts: not! As Raymond Farr demonstrates in this wonderful new collection, facts are the serendipity of the real. Farr takes sentences and fragments, and he builds tenements of facts from the sky downward. His gift to readers is a city of the materiality of language and of what is absolutely, astonishingly material to life. In Farr’s words, “The facts are convincing. I am one hungry carnivore.” —Joel Chace


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