Becoming Visible. Philip Lamantia.
Becoming Visible
Becoming Visible
Becoming Visible

Becoming Visible

San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 1981. First Printing. Softcover. “Crystallizing echoes from strange landscapes and forgotten history, Lamantia follows the signposts of traditional myth into new configurations of our own shadowed times. You will not find here the spare descriptions of things nor the colloquial translations of thought into verse that inhabit mainstream tradition. With roots in surrealism, Lamantia engages the wonders of language as revolutionary powers. Calling for a willing suspension of rationalist expectations, his poems unmask a reality that always exists but is rarely seen. Analogy pressed to the farthest limits moves the world through continual transformations. It brings into view a metamorphic terrain where everything can turn into something else. And this is the place where both myth and action are born. Opulence, terror, black humor, and magic co-exist here, where time and timelessness, the objective world and the subjective imagination are fused.” (from Back Cover). Offered here is “Becoming Visible,” the deep cut-laden 1981 work of the Beat Generation’s Chairman of Surrealism, Philip Lamantia. If the blurb wasn’t clue enough to how quintessentially “Lamantian” this book is, let’s turn our attention to the (surprisingly) short series of footnotes at the book’s end. Excerpts from the text include: “Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240) – Andalucian (sic) gnostic, theorist of the “autonomous imagination”; “Charles Fourier (1772-1837) – “French utopian socialist whose detailed vision of a future “harmonian” (sic) society revealed, according to Marx and Engels, “a true vein of poetry. He conjectured innumerable transformational possibilities, using images of extravagant desire (e.g. “a sea of lemonade”) that suggest how the imagined might be realized on the plane of objective reality.” Fourier is familiar to this author because, for a brief burning moment in the 1840s—a time in American life when utopian sentiment & proto-communes like Brook Farm swept the American landscape—even the staunch individualist Ralph Waldo Emerson was temporarily bewitched by Fourier. The footnotes continue with references to the Cabala; the Chumash, Oblone, Yurok, & Cora peoples; alchemy; the Walpi & Washo territories, and other fascinations-&-obscurities at home in Lamantia’s cerebrally-cosmopolitan oeuvre. [ISBN: 0-87286-086-8]. No. 39 in the legendary City Lights Pocket Poets Series; a First Printing with no reference to further printings. Another stellar inclusion to the flagship suite of productions from City Lights Books. From the collection of Erin Black Matson, the late artist-poet who with her then-husband, the acclaimed poet & educator Clive Matson, were bona fide members of the Beat Generation as it morphed into the hippie counterculture during the 1960s. The Matsons were colleagues-protégés (in lifestyle as much as literature) of Herbert Huncke, Bonnie Bremser et al. The condition befits its long ownership & use by Erin, who was a tried-&-true Beat-Bohemian to the very end. Book in near fine condition with moderate-to-pronounced shelf-wear to fine-edges, corners; moderate-to-pronounced rubbing to front, back covers & spine; previous bookseller’s price tag near top left-hand corner of front cover. Near Fine. [Item #4798]

Price: $35.00