Notes I  





Marbled ice. An old postcard of the Pantheon, its rectangle burned into the pages of the book I found it in [in a foreign used-book store, in a city of ancient, eroding marble] read: "Fear of Absolutes is hardly limited to black. I've seen chilling leaps of whitecaps, far out, on a midnight sea; and Chinese mourners, in a windy black-and-white documentary, wearing stark, flapping clothes the color of chalk."

This idea of whiteness seems solidly imbedded in American culture. The last entry in the journal of Edgar Allan Poe's doomed explorer, Arthur Gordon Pym, reads:

March 22. The darkness had materially increased, relieved only by the glare of the water thrown back from the white curtain before us. Many gigantic and pallidly white birds flew continuously now from beyond the veil, and their scream was the eternal Tekeli-li! as they retreated from our vision. Hereupon Nu-Nu stirred in the bottom of the boat; but upon touching him, we found his spirit departed. And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow.

A masked lake? "Yet for all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood."

--So Herman Melville, with a deadly pallor, contemplating the ream of pages he had yet to fill before his sea could roll on over whale and Pequod, and the crisp gray fin of a colophon appear.


Part I   Notes I
Part II
Notes II
Part III
Notes III
Part IV
   Notes IV
Part V
   Notes V
Part VI
   Notes VI
Part VII
   Notes VII
   Notes VIII
Part IX
   Notes IX
Part X
   Notes X
Part XI
   Notes XI
Part XII
   Notes XII

©, Acknowledgments
The Author



       14   regolith

Moon-soil; the soft, fine, ashlike gray dust covering much of the lunar surface, which may also include larger rock-fragments, ejecta, and (according to Murray, Malin, Greeley, Earthlike Planets) "glass from imapct melt."


       22   AM VIVID....LOOK BARN

This ghostly anagram (and the others in lines 742, 746, 756, and 843) should be read aloud in a booming Cambridge-and-Petersburg accent.


742    746    756    843


Apparently supplied by an invisible tourguide, this pangram--like THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPED OVER THE LAZY DOG--is a near anagram of the alphabet, containing all 26 letters with as few repetitions as possible.

       30   Its bent N pointed toward me; W

A W is two Vs (see line 843), and the compass notation for West. The pointer seems to be broken, or seized in ice: look in vain for the wind.



       37   Liquid Crystal

A liquid crystal display, or LCD. Viscous crystals (dark honey, over ice, with lemon, is a favorite drink of mine): often birefringent, easily polarized. The powdery snow outside shone briefly with diffraction halos as a light was switched on; off.


     Part XII       Notes II