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I Davenport looking for a boy

The 15th anniversary of the death of a grievously neglected American writer whom critics almost universally acclaim a creative genius.


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For sure, no such Calvinism belonged to North and South Carolina, not in his s, nor in my s.

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Does that still sound ideal? The title story of the first of those books, Tatlin! She hums. In Davenport you have the sense that to know what everyone else knows is good preparation primarily for being indistinct. She met a dashing young doll her age, and they eloped. Over the rose she carries him, through the liliodendron, between the zinnias and sage, peonies, hollyhocks and comfrey, color milling in a quick of sugar. He brushes her antennae with his forelegs, she his. Is that how we came up with Guy Davenport?

Desire and its damages, I suspect, were all too real.

She thirls her wings, clapfling and brake flip, shimmering her neb. The eye roves the area as the epochal sweep of history moves through. These were in millicupidon points convertible through Common Measure into centibona, called mush in Horde argot, for freckles, bluest eyes, messiest hair, dirtiest feet, mentula longissima, silliest giggle, slyest wink, grubbiest fingernails, charm. But the very next day there was a postcard for her in the mail.

They dance, a jig, insect of ictus, in linked orbits, more wiggle than step. Now imagine retweeting it, knowing the narrator is referring to hashtag Greek gymnasia where pubescent boys wrestle naked. Innocence and freedom and happenstance and fate are, characteristically, players in the Davenport pastoral. This theologian is one of a few personae, typically an improbable Danish Calvinist libertine stoic who knows his Plato, who stroll the longer fictions, developing his philosophy or scholarship, as the qualities of his Arcadia likewise develop—namely, sudden awakenings to sex appeal in congenial youth—as though the former depends upon the latter.

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Brian Blanchfield is the author of three books of poetry and prose, most recently Proxies: Essays Near Knowing. And then there were the decorations differing from phalanx to phalanx given for the fun of distinctions. The caves were a kind of inward brain for the earth, the common body, and they put the animals there, so that Lascaux might dream forever of her animals, as man in the lust of their beauty and in need of their blood, venison, marrow, and hides, and in awe of their power and cunning, thought of them sleeping and waking.

Martin Luther put her a step behind her husband; John Knox squared her shoulders; the stock-market crash of put that look in her eyes. What perversity in Christianity balked at tolerating them until they, as indeed happened, could be absorbed into [its] mythos.

If it at least sounds admirable, you might be a reader of Guy Davenport. But, suffice it to repeat, he also was no Susan Sontag. Hence the highly cultured praise of the primitive, the idealization of autarchic modes of social organization, and the appeal to erotic. We have such a limited knowledge of these things. A wark in the gaster, a curr in the jaws, and she flies in a figure eight.

He dangles, wings closed over feet. You never look for Indian arrowhe in pairs. But he finds the axiom in Menander, fourth century b. But you shout your discoveries and comments.

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The brain is inward, where one can see without looking, in the imagination. I wish you luck getting into print. Yet it was the seeding of all sorts of things, of scholarship, of a stoic sense of pleasure. Eventually you are unlike even your ilk. The bonnet and frogged cape behind him was his wife, fashed and tottering, flapping like a sea mew. She bounces in the air, trig of girth and smelling of gingerflower wax, of apples, of vespa.

So much for kith. She dips. He demonstratively stacked his books and pointed out how proportionately few pieces therein addressed the South directly, implying the interview ought to detour from that track. Issue 96, Spring By Brian Blanchfield March 31, Image source: Art Resource, NY. They are outside time.

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Liftoff of the first military air campaigns would be soon, the postlapsarian understands. On its picture side was London Bridge, and on the other lots of writing, which her mother read to her, and her father, again, when he came home for dinner. Herakles running along the banks of the river looking for his lover Hylas, whom water nymphs have drowned, is the matter of an idyll, told as the flock grazes.

Hugo had come in protest of capital punishment. She pounces, lifts him with all her legs, and flies up. Adults were, so to speak, to be recruited from the ranks of this aristocracy. And it was my rediscovery of the lost letter this year, during a move with my partner, John, from one part of Tucson to another, that rekindled my interest.

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Dolls, you know, are born in department stores, and have a more advanced knowledge than those of us who are brought to houses by storks. People who know exactly what they are doing seem to me to miss the vital part of any doing. The narrator may be biblical Timothy, who, history shows, followed the apostle from Lystra—though the story ends with the missionaries being stoned, retreating in a rush.

I trust the image; my business is to get it on the. And yet another fluster of ruffles, wet and squealing gaily, was his daughter. He was not a Southern writer, he once insisted to Alfred Corn.

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Inside Raspail, we are told, were recommendations of a camphor smear to forfend wet dreams, putatively to reserve potency, and of onions, a nutrient nearly Calvinist, revolutionary in its affordability. More to the point, the language here is appurtenant to the Channel Island setting—not a Latinate word in the lot.

And, irresistible to a classicist and empiricist like Davenport, Fourier believed like Pythagoras in aligning the patterns in nature that order everything from musical harmonics to leaf arrangement on a stem. He zips in for a squinny, mucin in his ringent jaws, buzzing.

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Congeniality is the coin of the realm. The kind of flight deed to privilege intuition, to entrust operations to the body, is necessarily solo flight.

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Goldenest smile, earliest pubic hair, nautch in the innominata, largest of warts, longest period between the frumps, slickest kiss, keenest whistle, worst joke, roundest behind, highest pisser, brightest glow from a dandelion under the chin. It was about this work on still lifes, Objects on a Table, that I wrote a fan letter to Davenport, in December I failed to tell him in the letter what might have interested him more than the regional fellowship I strained for—my hometown ninety minutes northeast of his—or the poems I forced on him: Objects was the book I had asked a cute bookstore clerk named Douglas to help me find.

He came across the brown sand, enlarged by the mist that had bedeviled the island for days, a hank of vraic around one boot, he never minding the hamp of it, his grizzard beard runched out from the lappets of his redingote.

You fan out. True, too, especially of the pair, that their criticism was adventurously global and also recuperative. For spending the day with an elder and looking intelligently at everything shown and listening with full attention to everything told, ten centibona. We are local then to the discovery in September of the now-iconic Paleolithic murals of horses and bison, seeing them first from the eyes of these kids who had been establishing in the woods a clubhouse or a militia—hard to tell—within earshot in any case of the bumper-to-bumper French traffic fleeing the approaching Nazis.

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Congenial is a favorite word in Davenport, and somewhere he tells us its etymology suggests kinship with the genii, the local gods, of a place. She had never had a postcard before. I know that my sense of place, of occasion, even of doing anything at all, was shaped by those afternoons. It took a while for me to realize that people can grow up without being taught to see, to search surfaces for all the details, to check out a whole landscape for what it has to offer. Rudolph von Hapsburg und Porzelan your Belinda.

The ascents of the doves are parallel in the braided story. The influence of Joyce in this sodden stormy passage is perhaps clear.

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The problem I confront, when it is unsettling, as when he resorts to Latin italicizing literally to refer to genitals, is prurience, a kind of dollplay in the sexing—one grows too aware of what or who is bringing the young bodies together serially and in new arrangements, smiles all around, indistinctly fetching. Subscribe to the Oxford American.

Love returned: in all the sex and carnal horseplay in Davenport, whatever the century if any, there is never yearning or agony or thrall or withholding between the pleasured bodies, some of them quite new to the electric sensation of being apprehended sexually. To be highly differentiated—until a sort of singularity is achieved—is, if not an end in itself, fair evidence of good, free, lifelong idiosyncratic investigation.

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And there is a great deal of care and loyalty and play, and an inspiring amount of permissive openness. He rimples his golden crissum, sprag for a hump. Enjoy this story? G uy Davenport was born in Anderson, South Carolina, inmidway along the southern Piedmont crescent, and despite growing up in a home and environment without readers, was deeply absorptive in books that chanced to circulate there. Davenport was a reader of Charles Fourier, whose early nineteenth-century utopian philosophy and planned communities I have only read about, but who is cited in early Marxist theory for his elaborate concepts of moneyless communities where the family unit is dissolved in favor of communal hordes, structured into phalanxes of about 1, persons each.

Which of the two extolled to American readers the value of Robert Walser or W. He himself subsisted on fried bologna sandwiches and Marlboros. That essay, extraordinarily generous on the topic he accepts, is nonetheless titled tellingly.

Hamp is Anglo-Saxon in its wet brevity, ready for British understatement of hardship.