Things done for themselves—preverbs. George Quasha, Marsh Hawk Press, 173pp, 2015, $16.
This is an important book. When you think of chaos theory, the butterfly effect, the God particle, the amplitudhedron and medieval Arab alchemy, you should think of George Quasha, and that’s why it’s important to say this.
When you think of his concept of the preverb, you may enhance your mind’s journey by thinking of the late artist I. (Irene) Rice Pereira, whose concept of things ever coming to be is an alchemical fit with Quasha axial theory.
Quasha, in these poems (a preface he calls pre focus and an epilogue he calls pre), invites us to reconsider the nature of the book. He does this, he says, at a kind of behest from William Blake. The book, he says, is ever coming to be, and so it demands a collaboration not only between writer and reader but all that preceded it and may proceed from it. The book is an elixir in an alembic.
Pereira, in such works as The Simultaneous Ever-Coming-To-Be (1961), The Transcendental Formal Logic of the Infinite (1966) and The Poetics of the Form of Space, Light and the Infinite (1968), suggests that art is not static and therefore categorical definitions are inherently misleading. It’s a pity she and Quasha never had the opportunity to chat.
No book is really the same when you return to it, or when it returns to you. It has morphed and your evolving sensibility is prepared to encounter it on new grounds and make something entirely new of it. Too much sentimental blather has been heaped on the tactile experience of a book, as opposed, say, to an e-book, but not enough has been said of how we encountered the specific book, its heft, its design, its typography, its pagination, even its odor. The lesson here for e-book publishers is that they remain in an exploratory stage when it comes to seizing advantage of the e-book’s changeability, its fey quality.