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Page 220

Magic is simply creation, pure creation. If we could say
"Let there be..." -- it would be; that is, if we could simply
and only say that one thing, no other, no second thought,
no rush to cover our sorcerous asses. It would be,
not because we said it loudly or mysteriously or in some
exotic tongue or very softly after spinning round three times
within a circle circumscribing a pentagon, after sacrificing
the world's last virgin and drinking her blood mixed with
tongue of gnat (not newt, anything but a politician!) and
wart-sweat of toad; it would be because we said/thought/decided it
simply, meaning (have I said this already?) it and nothing else,
not it plus "Oh, but maybe this won't work" and "I'm being silly"
and "I must really concentrate [squinch squinch]" and "Where
should I go for dinner? and "My wife really likes this wall;
maybe I shouldn't make it vanish. What if I do, then
can't put it back?" and "If only Dad could see me now" and
"Am I sure I should be meddling with the world" and "damn
toe won't stop itching" and it's way past time to say "etc."

I, of course, am far from pure creation in my awareness
of what I'm doing here. I may be creating, with taintless purity
(meaning it tain't impure?), a universe of my own
which overlaps with yours to become a subset universe
in which you and I co-create this book (that's more than I know),
but this book has a REASON: Someone gave me a book
with blank pages to be filled. Its theme has a reason:
"Blank pages? OK, I'll write about blank pages."

(Not much of a reason, you say; that's called freedom,
not irrational, just unmotivated.) But my reason for writing
(blank pages to fill) and the reason for my theme (blank pages,
their being filled) face each other like barbershop mirrors,
approximating a canceling out, a making nothing of my reasons,
which become lost in the maze of reflections on reflections
on reflections. (Why is three repetitions infinity?)

There is a faint aftertaste here of total freedom. You can almost imagine
that these poems mean exactly what you want them to mean.
(But you are only temporarily surmounting barriers. Don't
fall off the wall, old egg, until you are quite hard-boiled.)

Note: Stanza 1: Newts (various species of salamanders) are often mentioned in witches' concoctions (e.g., in MacBeth). Newt Gingrich is a politician. (The Grinch is...but it's not Gingrinch, is it.)

Stanza 3 is perhaps difficult. Somehow the constraints that make this poem possible for me (for example, the theme to which I am doomed to return, blank pages) so closely mimes no constraints (no theme) at all (just the filling up of actual blank pages I was given), that my self-assigned barriers are both huge (after all, how much can one say about blank pages?) and non-existent, so that in the interplay between form and formlessness that results (the double-mirror system), you get flashes or hints of total freedom (I hope).

I ask "Why is three repetitions infinity?" This alludes to a book written about 60 years ago called One, Two, Three, Infinity, by George Gamow. The title refers to the fact(?) that some primitive peoples have only four numbers: one, two, three and infinity (or a whole lot, too much to count). There's the concept of infinity, and then there's the number of repetitions with variations required to get us to recreate that concept for ourselves: How many mountain ranges beyond mountain ranges must one see before getting the feeling that the mountains go on forever? How many reflections of reflections (in barbershop mirrors) must one see before getting that feeling?

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