Friday, August 31, 2012

William Sylvester

Explaining the Dark

Now I will explain opponent colors.
Opponent colors are called opponent
because they don't get along with each other.
Color a blank sheet of paper with a bright red circle
(or square or triangle)
peer steadily for a minute
then look at a blank piece of paper.
You will see a
circle, the opposite color.
The circle remains the same
but the color flips
Stare at a green circle
then a red circle will appear on blank paper.
Notice that circleness squareness triangleness
are invariant under transformations of
flipping colors.
Have you ever seen a reddish green or a
greenish red?
Our body recoils from the opponent color.
How do we get insight?
By going into the dark.
Have you ever thought of going into a closet
and what that means?
What happens as you close the door?
It grows dark
It grows very dark
does it grow dark?
The colors are all outside
If you leave the door open
a teency weency crack
you can see how all outside colors 
have turned gray
(your eyes have shifted
from rods to cones.
Or cones to rods
Forget holistic thinking.
Enjoy binary reality.)
Red and yellow turn gray,
hues have drained away
All cats are gray in the dark
as Benjamin Franklin so astutely observed
(he meant of course
doing you know what with an old woman
not a nice thing to say
Benjamin Franklin was not nice
but he was astute
all cats
are gray in the dark)
red and yellow both turn gray in the dark
but the intensities shift
the Purkinjes shift
outside red more intense than yellow
turns to a less intense gray in the dark
than yellow's fierce gray density.
That's the Purkinjes shift.

During moments of supreme physical delight
(you know what I mean)
what happens?
what really happens?
You close your eyes that's what happens.
You're in the dark.
If you don't close your eyes
you're not concentrating.
Concentration usually comes by
peeling back our eyes.
(The mind-body problem shines in the dark.)
You may come out into politics, but
no matter how you do it
or with whom
every human has a closet
locking up an unacknowledged heterosexual
who wants to roar: "More! More! More!"
In the dark, with your eyes closed
You don't see the color yellow
you feel the fierce dense gray
yearning never satisfied
far more powerful
than all those bloody red thoughts
driving you mad in day light.

There now,

You never knew
the Purkinjes shift
explains Mimnermus.
Don't laugh as if you knew it all along.
You don't even know Mimnermus
Tis de bios ti perpnon ater xruses aphrodite

Tethanaien: third person perfect optative
from thnesko
meaning I am dying

now you know.

--William Sylvester

fr. War and Lechery
[Ashland, Ohio: Ashland Poetry Press, 1995]


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