Train to NY. Serena Guarracino


The sound of the train is a sigh
piercing the distance.

I’m moving to the dead withering hole
around which monuments are being built.

Out of the window bush lines the track.
Cramped silver birches, gleaming
snow-white branches. Skeleton
arms and legs reaching for the sky.

From the loudspeaker the guide explains
they were taken straight out of the ruins.

Their whiteness bent, glistening
in the lame light of twilight
or dawn.

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29 thoughts on “Train to NY. Serena Guarracino

  1. On the subject of Real…this is a dream I had the other night. Does this make the poem more or less Real (whatever it means)?

  2. “No more mirror of being and appearances, of the real and its concept; no more imaginary coextensivity: rather, genetic miniaturization is the dimension of simulation. The real is produced from miniaturized units, from matrices, memory banks and command models – and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times. It no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal or negative instance. It is nothing more than operational. In fact, since it is no longer enveloped by an imaginary, it is no longer real at all. It is a hyperreal: the product of an irradiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere.”

  3. “In this passage to a space whose curvature is no longer that of the real, nor of truth, the age of simulation thus begins with a liquidation of all referentials – worse: by their art)ficial resurrection in systems of signs, which are a more ductile material than meaning, in that they lend themselves to all systems of equivalence, all binary oppositions and all combinatory algebra. It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself; that is, an operation to deter every real process by its operational double, a metastable, programmatic, perfect descriptive machine which provides all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes. Never again will the real have to be produced: this is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection which no longer leaves any chance even in the event of death. A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imaginary, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room only for the orbital recurrence of models and the simulated generation of difference.”
    From Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1988), pp.166-184.

  4. I agree with Luca, this is definitely a powerful piece. Strong images and effective sound patterns convey an hammering rhythm of a train sliding on its rail. (the use of the allitterating b in the third stanza is superb).
    The representation of the witness is here as ghostly and paradoxical as Levi’s and Agamben’s is.

  5. La cosa più affascinante e, allo stesso tempo sorprendente, è il fatto che vi viene naturale l’inglese più che l’italiano come lingua della poesia (dunque creativa). se ne parlò tempo fa, ricordo.

  6. Ehi, thanks everyone! First of all luca thank you for Baudrillard, always to the point. Although always a little depressing too…I am sure there is a creativity of sort the sign is ineascapably endowed with (sorry for the phallic metaphor…).
    Quanto alla questione lingua, il mio ‘venire alla poesia’ (tanto per bilanciare 😉 è piuttosto recente e mio malgrado completamente monolingue…in inglese. Sono d’accordo con luca che dipende dalla situazione personale. Molto banalmente, credo che come anglista ho molto familiarità con l’inglese come strumento poetico, cosa che colpevolmente mi manca in italiano. Si tratta alla fine, da parte mia, di una forma di ignoranza. Intanto però il mio compagno (nazionalista convinto) non me lo perdona…xs

  7. Serena – As a dream-poem, ‘Train to NY’ glides through multiple distances — at once both ‘here’ (present) and ‘there’ (absent/lost) … Or, as dreams closely observed prove, language is first and foremost thought, and/but, perhaps doubly troubling (paradoxical?), we nevertheless think in words … Therefore, words (the Word) precede(s) thought … All of which begs the question, ‘What are words?’ and why is poetry soooooooo powerful a means of testing language (and Truth) … GK …

  8. I love the drop of Lacan in your comment Gavin (more explicit in your other comment). Here in Naples we’re having the yearly PhD seminar on Lacan, and I must say (although sometimes I get bored to death) that he matters, in a way, even now. Especially if we consider language more generally as a system of signs (check Baudrillard’s quotations above), Lacan opens it to the uncanny (!) voice of the unconscious, and gives us maybe a little hope for the future…xs

  9. Serena – Lacan’s essay The Freudian Thing is perhaps the most appropriate, searing expression of what you suggest is his ‘promise’ … Regarding the Event of poetry, and stealing a page from Badiou (whose writing on Holderlin is exemplary), the poem is a transcription of an Event (Truth) … This Truth is (to steal a phrase from Caravaggio exegesis) the metaphysical-existential mark left by that Event … In interceding on behalf of my poem Votre Vous, i.e., to clarify the poem’s origin (it’s Real), I was taking sides against endless semiosis (which is a horrible post-modern thing in my estimation) … The Author does not own a poem, but s/he is the site of the Event … GK …

  10. Please Luca, I’m just back from a seminar where a skinny Deleuzian chick with no boobs sing-songed for one hour about the four main traits of the rizoma…but maybe she would have made even Cixous totally unappealing!
    It was also interesting that one of the main themes of the following debate was the persistence of these male masters…following you Luca, if Deleuze’s the man, who’s the woman? I know maybe it’s not so smart of me to rise the topic here, but still I feel Deleuze (with all his rizomatic complexity) too thought- (that is, too male-)oriented. On the other hand, I feel in tune with Gavin’s preoccupation about endless semiosis (it is one of my faults as well), although sometimes I feel (or think) that even the Real is a figment of thought. As for the Event, would its impalpable nature be accessible without its elaboration through memory, language, poetry? … xs

  11. ever heard of “Selbstbeweihräucherung”? anyway, a useful German term. this wonder-full group which can even “do” peotry is not talking poetry (from my point of view) but showing off in a poetry seminar.

  12. My problem with Lacan is a matter of theology: if one replaces Word with God our French Psycho-Anal-ist becomes Thomas Aquinas.. Lack of immanence in other words ( like Cacciari, Gavin..) Universals bore me. Individuals on the other hand..

  13. Luca – I’d say the problem with Universals (yes, capitalized!) is that they end up in the ether … During our chat in London recently I believe we resolved that … With Agamben, for example, the Universal is what disrupts the Law — as detailed in the forays into Paul by Agamben (The Time That Remains), but also Zizek (The Puppet and the Dwarf) and Badiou (St Paul) … GK … Universals need to be embodied (thus the individual is, indeed, the key …) …

  14. I couldn’t agree more! But still (and here I expose the inscrutable depths of my ignorance) how much dare Deleuze and/or Agamben and/or Zizek & co. embody the Universals? That is, is philosophy able to do that? Or may poetry be helpful? There is not truth except in poetry, someone once said…xs

  15. It was Nietzsche who (re)introduced two forms of expression into philosophy: poetry and aphorism. According to Deleuze ‘they imply a new conception of philosophy, a new image of the thinker and thought.’ The most important question for the new thinker is life. Deleuze again: ‘Modes of life inspire ways of thinking: modes of thinking create ways of living. Life activate thought, and thought in turn affirms life.
    Juergen, questa e’ Selbstbeweihräucherung at its best!

  16. Serena – From my point of view, Badiou comes closest to Truth (poetic truth, so-to-speak) when he writes about Holderlin and poetry as confronting what he calls/names ‘the Temptation’ — i.e., what he delineates as the approach which brings the subject face to face with the spectral nature of ‘ontologies of Presence’ (Being) … In his masterful essay on Kant, ‘Kant’s Subtractive Ontology’, he praises Kant for NOT succumbing to this very same temptation (thereby introducing the conceptual apparatus of the double void, Self and its Other) … However, he (Badiou) is in deep trouble when he dives into Holderlin, who DID succumb, albeit through poetical twists and turns, to the mirage of deferred Presence (that very lovely thing that has come down to us, in/through Deconstruction and Post-Structuralism, as Absence …) … GK … I sort of apologize for all of the trendy terms above, as it has become almost a joke to speak/write in such terms …

  17. @jan: ‘Kant denounces false claims to knowledge, but doesn’t question the idea of knowing: he denounces false morality, but doesn’t question the claims of morality or the nature and the origin of its value. He blames us for having confused domains and interests: but the domains remain intact, and the interests of reason, sacred ( true knowledge, true morals, true religion).’ (Deleuze, 1995)

  18. never ever::::: say again?!

    A sigh of the train I had the other night
    … powerful …
    miniaturised units
    hi! per space
    hi! per real
    Nature »bones« for the sky
    re: bi’n’airy signs
    of the real
    for the real
    it=self
    ‘Selected Writings’
    masterplanthemovie
    and I agree with
    pat pat pat pat hammering superbs
    (ghostly: Levi & Agamben)
    – naturale l’inglese?
    – dipende dipende
    thank Baudrillard
    the guide loudspeakers
    always to the point depressing

    sure,
    the sign is endowed
    on average – 45 times a day by 45 different people!

    dream/poem…‘here’/‘there’…absent/lost…and/but
    ‘What are words?’
    taken straight out of the ruins

    drop Lacan
    in the lame light
    we seminar on
    matters
    in a way
    even now
    a system of signs
    maybe a little hope for the future

    ‘Deleuze’s the man guys!’
    Who’s the woman?
    LacanFreudBadiouHö!lderlinCaravaggio ah
    LacanFreudBadiouHö!lderlinCaravaggio aah
    LacanFreudBadiouHö!lderlinCaravaggio aaah
    x-egg-is and x-is-tential
    mark that Event!
    whY? (DNA: don’t bother)
    a skinny Deleuzian chick with no boobs
    [quite keen on getting the line here:
    Do all Deleuzian chicks come with no boobs
    or do the non-Deleuzian
    – still talking chicks here ‘f course –
    have all the boobs?]
    totally unappealing
    [again: boobs or Deleuze?]

    interesting persistence of these male masters
    Who’s the woman?
    A figment of thought?
    showing off:
    if one replaces Word with God …

    Universals bore me
    the individual is
    in deed
    the key

    and/or and/or and/or agree more

    may poetry help?
    a-for-is-m
    and/or
    the new thinker is life
    [again: Selbstbeweihräucherung]
    Does this also relate to Kant?
    who calls/names
    ‘the Temptation’
    noT buT
    the double void: Self & its Other
    How+ever, he who D.I.Did twists and turns
    deferred Presence
    has come down as Absence
    all trendy
    Ground Zero
    terms become almost a joke to speak/write
    but the idea and the origin »domains«
    at 7:38 pm
    jokes at times are useful

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