Tuesday, October 04, 2005



Friedrich Engels in Anti-Duhring defined the essential difference between living and non-living matter as follows: when living matter exchanges substances (oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc.) with the rest of the world around it, the exchange serves to sustain the living matter in its existing form for some period of time (as when, for example, an organism breathes); whereas, when non-living matter exchanges substances with the rest of the world around it, the exchange causes the gradual breakdown and destruction of the non-living matter (as when, for example, iron takes on oxygen, and becomes rust).

The fundamental tidal flow of the degeneration and renewal of matter is the essential underlying current in Eileen Tabios' startling new collection of poems, Carbon 14 Variations. Drawing variously on texts and data from fields as divergent as geology, organic chemistry, particle physics, the early writings of Sartre, the Heike Monogotari, various classic Chinese scientific writings, late Stone Age petroglyphs, ancient Egyptian mystery religions, Plato, Zoroastrianism, and the murals of Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros, among other sources, Tabios weaves together a vast and many-layered tapestry of narratives, counter-narratives, parallel commentary, and reflexively referential observation that constantly calls into question the gravitational fields of thought in a landscape that is constantly shifting and reforming.

Like Zukofsky's A, Stein's Tender Buttons, and more recently the hyperexperiments of Kamau Brathwaite, Eileen Tabios' Carbon 14 Variations redefines the basic parameters of communication at its most elemental biological level. "If you want to know the taste of a pear," wrote Mao Zedong in On Contradiction, "you have to change the state of the pear by eating it." The poetry of Eileen Tabios is a succulent fruit indeed. Come and taste it.


At 1:42 PM, Blogger Okir said...

Wow -- I wanna read that book!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger EILEEN said...

I do, too!!!



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