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The spine of the nation.

This essay is a response to Paul Metcalf's I-57 (LongRiver Books, 1988), a "narrative hieroglyph" constructed from written artifacts that culminates in a journey by car from the vicinity of Cairo, Illinois to Chicago.

I am sitting in the Blue Sea Lodge in San Diego, California, listening to the Pacific Ocean over my left shoulder and thinking of I-57, over my right. We landed in O'Hare Airport, Chicago, Illinois, about six hours ago, and flew over Interstate Highway 57. I remember printing an excerpt from I-57 in a little magazine with a name stolen out of Melville's Pierre, i.e., SARCOPHAGUS. I remember pieces of I-57 well. Paul and Nancy Metcalf spent a winter in San Diego, about a mile from where I now sit. I'm in their old neighborhood, on the beach.

It is a strange feeling to sit on this side of the continent thinking of Metcalf's book while I watch TOUR OF DUTY on the television. It seems more than slightly schizophrenic. East/West-West/East. I ate dinner in NYPD's 2nd Precinct -- in San Diego. I listened to Marvin Gaye sing "What's Going on" on CBS. I have the urge to open the door, step out to the beach, walk on the water . . .

I once asked Metcalf if he was trying to literalize the geography of Melville's The Confidence-Man in I-57. He said, "no." But Metcalf did go to Cairo, and in I-57 he quotes Dickens:

". . . the hateful Mississippi, circling and eddying before it, and turning off upon its southern course, a slimy monster hideous to behold; a hot bed of disease, an ugly sepulchre, a grave uncheered by any gleam of promise; a place without one single quality, in earth or air or water, to commend it, such is this dismal Cairo."

Herman Melville had gone to Galena, Illinois in 1840, with one Eli James Murdoch Fly. It was an exploratory trip west, that included a visit with Herman's uncle Thomas Melville, in Galena. A Melville scholar, Tom Quirk, has written: ". . . the emphasis |in the novel~ would have been on a voyage following the course of the Mississippi from the falls of St. Anthony toward the sea -- as Melville himself had probably followed it to the mouth of the Ohio in 1840 . . ."

Shortly after the publication of The Confidence-Man Melville gave up the life of gentleman-author-farmer, sold Arrowhead, and moved to New York City. On July 15, 1856, Lemuel Shaw Jr. sent news to his brother Samuel of the completion of their brother-in-law Herman's last commercial novel and writes: "I know nothing about it; but I have no great confidence in the success of his productions."

Four or five years earlier Melville had discarded a chapter of this book entitled THE RIVER:

"As the word Abraham means the father of a great multitude of men so the word Mississippi means the father of a great multitude of waters. His tribes stream in from east and west exceeding fruitful the lands that enrich. In this granary of a continent this basin of the Mississippi will not the nations be greatly multiplied and blest."

"Above the Falls of St. Anthony for the most part he winds evenly in between banks or flags or tracts of pine over marble sands in waters so clear that the deepest fish espy the uninterrupted flight of the bird. Undisturbed as the lowly life in its bosom feeds the lowly life on its shore, the coronetted elk & the deer while in the watery form of some couched rock in the channel, furred over with moss, the furred bear on the marge seems to eye his amphibious brothers, wood & wave wed, man is remote."

From I-57:

"But what words shall describe the Mississippi, great father of rivers, who (praise be to Heaven!) has no young children like him? An enormous ditch." (p. 37)

". . . from the slaveholding states there now poured a fresh stream of immigrants for whom the atmosphere of human slavery became as suffocatingly intolerable as any economic and political oppression in the old world.

". . . Many belonged to the uneducated, non-slaveholding poor white class . . .

"Cairo was the Ellis Island for this immigration. Steamer after steamer arrived with cargoes of human freight and the nearby towns of Anna and Jonesboro received refugees until the people protested their inability to provide for more. Accommodations at Cairo were extremely inadequate. . . . Families were sometimes left a good part of the night on the cold and muddy levee without shelter or even blankets. . . the Illinois Central placed them in hog cars which had not been cleaned since used." (p. 38)

Melville and Fly travelled the route that the Trail of Tears had crossed one year before. From I-57:

"1839, ferried into Illinois at Golconda, thirteen thousand Cherokee: wagons, carriages, horsemen, tramping Indians . . . the settlers preventing the pitching of tents, the cutting of firewood . . ."

Again, from I-57:

"Early trade moved north and south, Chicago to Cairo and down the Mississippi . . . but the Civil War dammed the route, gunboats closed the river, and corn and pork turned north to Chicago and east . . .

". . . Cairo died . . ." (p. 44)

". . . Woodland Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking hero dies, finally, in The Prairie: '. . . the sound of the axes has driven him from his beloved forest to. . . the treeless plains . . .'" (p. 54)

"Finally driven from behind by poverty, nerved by necessity, the American pioneer pushed outward, away from the wooded bottoms, the timbery borders, outward on the bluestem prairie . . . to break the tough sod, hitched six to ten yoke of oxen to a plow, the plow attached to a heavy plow beam, framed into an axle and supported by wheels cut from oak logs . . . fed his stock on wild prairie grasses, and raised a first crop of sod corn." (p. 55)

"The Indians found by the early French were decadent remnants, a hybrid of the earlier great civilizations, the high cultures having been ravaged by small pox, introduced by Spain into Mexico, and raging northward, up the Mississippi Valley . . ." (p. 57)

From Melville's The Confidence-Man, Chapter XXIII, "IN WHICH THE POWERFUL EFFECT OF NATURAL SCENERY IS EVINCED IN THE CASE OF THE MISSOURIAN, WHO, IN VIEW OF THE REGION ROUND ABOUT CAIRO, HAS A RETURN OF HIS CHILLY FIT":

"At Cairo, the old established firm of Fever & Ague is still settling up its unfinished business; that Creole grave-digger, Yellow Jack -- his hand at the mattock and spade has not lost its cunning; while Don Saturninus Typhus taking his constitutional with Death, Calvin Edson and three undertakers, in the morass, snuffs up the mephitic breeze with zest.

"In the dank twilight, fanned with mosquitos, and sparkling with fireflies, the boat now lies before Cairo. She has landed certain passengers, and tarries for the coming of expected ones. Leaning over the rail on the inshore side, the Missourian eyes through the dubious medium that swampy and squalid domain; and over it audibly mumbles his cynical mind to himself, as Apemantus' dog may have mumbled his bone. He bethinks that the man with the brass-plate was to land on this villainous bank, and for that cause, if no other, begins to suspect him. Like one beginning to rouse himself from a dose of chloroform treacherously given, he half divines, too, that he, the philosopher, had unwittingly been betrayed into being an unphilosophical dupe. To what vicissitudes of light and shade is man subject! He ponders the mystery of human subjectivity in general. He thinks he perceives with Crossbones, his favorite author, that, as one may wake up well in the morning, very well, indeed, and brisk as a buck, I thank you, but ere bedtime get under the weather, there is no telling how -- so one may wake up wise, and slow of assent, very wise and very slow, I assure you, and for all that, before night, by life thick in the atmosphere, be left in the lurch a ninny."

(Metcalf recently told me (5-15-88) that he has written a stage adaptation of The Confidence-Man).

In his earlier book, genoa, Metcalf deals extensively with Melville. From his introduction:

"GENOA is history -- and genealogy -- we might call it genealogy -- in a new approach: there is fiction, too, but only in the contemporary, with the impact of non-history . . .

"Anatomy: the parts of a man (for us, U.S.A., especially) include not only inheritance but land -- the land sought, conquered, participated in. This, of course -- the seeking (and losing) was the whole story for Columbus, and with this myth Melville almost wholly concerned himself, circumscribing and swallowing the U.S. whole, in Moby-Dick, and struggling the last forty years of his life with this undigestible continent: note the lecture tour to the midwest, the setting of The Confidence-Man, the many images in his later books intended to make the land pelagic. Assuredly the move after Moby-Dick was inland.

"Inland, too, in another sense: pushing through anatomy to psychology: to Pierre. In Genoa, psychology is pushed back, again, to the mythic, the two spoken in the same breath, reflecting on one another. The guide is not Jung, but Hubbard: not Europe, but the U.S. west of the Alleghenies. Hence, my setting: Indianapolis and St. Louis: the midsection of the continent that remains, to my feeling, undigested . . .

"Most personally, because of my relation to him, Melville was the monkey on my back . . . and I could never come to terms with myself until relieved of him. Much of the monstrosity, 'the telling of wonders' in Genoa, is withdrawal symptom . . .

"I have written a wicked book, etc., etc."

Was it Shakespeare who said "madness is heaven's sense?" I think so. I know Melville wrote in Billy Budd about insanity: "Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? . . . So with sanity and insanity . . . in some supposed cases, in various degrees supposedly also pronounced, to draw the exact line of demarcation few will undertake, though for a fee some professional experts will. There is nothing nameable but that some men will undertake to do it for pay. In other words there are instances where it is next to impossible to determine whether a man is in his mind or beginning to be otherwise."

From I-57:

". . . I talk with my brains, the hemispheres go bing" (p. 15)

". . . there are scorpions, aryan and catholic, in my head" (p. 15)

"(the plumbing in the house gone berserk, pipes human, screaming to be let out of the walls)" (p. 14)

"Every word spoken causes a tearing in my head, the eyes attempting to withdraw." (p. 18)

"As soon as I think nothing, the wind rises." (p. 18)

"I eat the head of the cat or the fox, gnawing at my vitals I am big with young pigs fast flying, low flying birds, singing birds, swallows and sparrows, all speak to me cattle lowing in the pasture convey articulate sentences my mouth is full of birds which I crunch between my teeth, their feathers, their blood, their broken bones, choking me" (p. 21)

"a magnetic warp, chilled in the expansion, is diffused from the root of the nose, under the base of the brain, a veil interposed, so that the sentiments of the heart may in no way communicate with the intellect . . ." (p. 16)

"I cross the room, leave myself on one side, re-enter myself on the other,

like a woman, succumbing to intercourse." (p. 15)

San Diego, the Blue Sea Lodge, the Pacific, are vacation. My home is Torrington, Connecticut -- which was once the home of that madman/abolitionist, John Brown. Brown's birthplace is next to the present Torrington Branch of the University of Connecticut. The foundation of Peter Brown's old house remains, as does the well, though the latter is almost filled with stone. The local youth use John Brown's boneyard as a gathering place. They drink beer and tear up his lawn with dirt bikes. Wild turkeys live there. Nearby is Squabble Hill, named for a family which had many domestic disputes. In the other direction is Brandy Hill, named for a barrel of brandy. Peter Brown is in George Washington's first census, taken to find out how many young males were available to draft. Torrington was briefly called New Orleans Village, in 1810.

In another book, Waters of Potowmack, Metcalf quotes John Brown, speaking at the end of his life:

"I may be very insane, and I am so, if insane at all. But if that be so, insanity is like a very pleasant dream to me."

Brown addresses his jailor: "Have you any objection to my writing to my wife to tell her that I am to be hanged on the 2nd of December at noon?"

On his way to be hanged, Brown was amazed at the turnout: "I had no idea that Governor Wise considered my execution so important."

(The U.S. Army officer sent to capture Brown was Robert E. Lee. And among the witnesses to his execution was John Wilkes Booth).

Leon Howard has written of Melville: "As for his 'insanity,' I think we can assume (from what he said in The Confidence-Man and his later poem on Don Quixote) that Melville would be the first to admit that he was insane from what he called the 'green grocer's' point of view; and I'm sure that he would expect that point of view from Sam Shaw and be as surprised as I am to see it attributed to Elizabeth." Howard is referring to a letter Samuel S. Shaw wrote to Henry Whitney Bellows (the pastor of Melville's New York church) dated May 6, 1867:

"Dear Sir, Your letter to my brother and myself is just received. I thank you much for the interest you have taken in my sister's case and I am glad to have your opinion and advice in this matter, which has been a cause of anxiety to all of us for years past. She will tell you that all the reasons set forth in your letter have been urged over and over again by me as a ground for separation that we have offered to assist her to the best of our ability and that the Melvilles also, though not till quite recently have expressed a willingness to lend this assistance. The whole family understands the case and the thing has resolved itself into the mere question of my sister's willingness to say the word. Of course we should not act against what we believed to be her real wishes, we should in any event act substantially under her direction and we must base our claim to act on what she knows and not on what we know. If I understand your letter it is proposed to make a sudden interference and carry her off, she protesting that she does not wish to go and that it is none of her doing. But I think that this would only obscure the real merits of the case in the eyes of the world, of which she has a most exaggerated dread . . .

"It may well be said here is a case of mischief making where the wife's relations have created all the trouble. 'She says now that her husband ill treated her so that she could not live with him but why did she not say so before. She goes to Boston and by dint of argument and remonstrances and bad advice of all sorts is at last persuaded into thinking herself a much injured woman,' etc. etc. etc.

"And her very patience and fortitude will be turned into arguments against her belief in the insanity of her husband.

"I think that the safest course is to let her real position become apparent from the first, namely that of a wife, who, being convinced that her husband is insane acts as if she were so convinced and applies for aid and assistance to her friends and acts with them."

Metcalf has written of this case: ". . . from the little information I could get and much that I couldn't, I think I developed a sense of Lizzie that is in no way in conflict with the woman revealed by Dr. Kring. My mother stressed above all Lizzie's patience, her loyalty to Herman, and in this I think she is right. What is revealed, particularly in Sam Shaw's letter, is her imaginary and groundless apprehensions of the censure of the world upon her conduct. These two motivations -- loyalty to Herman, and terror of what the world will think -- joined naturally and easily into a seamless whole, the relative strength of whose parts it would be difficult, and perhaps useless, to assess.

"As for Herman's 'insanity,' we're involved here as much with semantics as with anything else. It is important, as Sam Shaw's letter reveals, that the family thought him 'insane' -- whatever they may have understood by that word. What Herman thought is another matter. At one point he says, 'N.B. I ain't crazy.' Does that hold true in 1867? Who knows?"

Elizabeth S. Foster also writes of the Kring findings: "The new evidence I do not find surprising. One is saddened, of course, to know that Melville still, in 1867, was having to endure the persistent, determined suspicion of his sanity by some members of his family; and one is saddened, too, to know that Lizzie's lot was so hard. But surprised, no. The pattern of failure to understand either his work or his mental state was already too well set in some of his relatives."

Edgar Allen Poe is painted as a crack-brain in The Confidence-Man. Harrison Hayford writes: ". . . in keeping with the book's unsentimental sympathy and near despair for mankind, there is an austere pity for the poor man, a pity which can go side by side with such a summarily objective view of the actuality of a shattered fellow being.

"If this attitude seems to display inhumanity toward poor Poe, one must suppose that Melville was well enough aware of similarities to himself in the picture. He had looked straight at his own situation and seen it as one not far removed indeed from that of this crack-brain. He too had sought the secret of the universe, had entertained fantasies of himself as a 'dethroned' noble, and felt scorn and disdain rise within him as the coldly complacent world rejected the offerings of his genius. He had verged upon madness, had been accused of it in the public prints and was examined for it by private doctors at the behest of his family doctor. He had declared that he would 'never surrender.' In the end he had not lost his own sanity, or his sense of proportion and of reality. If he had looked upon Poe with a straight and honest gaze, and saw what was there, he had looked upon himself in the same way."

Melville's The Piazza Tales were written prior to The Confidence-Man. Among these stories is Bartelby the Scrivener, which one critic likened to the work of Edgar Allen Poe. Egbert S. Oliver, however, has identified Bartelby as Thoreau, who was "not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. . . . I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts and her right to my property and life." Oliver believes that Melville "certainly admired some of the heroic stubbornness of Thoreau even as he is often very sympathetic with Bartelby. But that admiration does not prevent his seeing the absurdity of some of Thoreau's extreme pronouncements in this essay."

Mordecai Marcus wrote an essay called "Melville's Bartleby as a Psychological Double": "Most interpreters of Melville's haunting story . . . have seen it as a somewhat allegorical comment on Melville's plight as a writer after publication of Moby-Dick and Pierre. Others have suggested that the story dramatizes the conflict between absolutism and free will in its protagonist, that it shows the destructive power of irrationality, or that it criticizes the sterility and impersonality of a business society. . . . The setting on Wall Street indicates that the characters are in a kind of prison, walled off from the world. The lawyer's position as Master of Chancery suggests the endless routine of courts of equity and the difficulty of finding equity in life. The lawyer's easygoing detachment -- he calls himself an 'eminently safe man' -- represents an attempt at a calm adjustment to the Wall Street world, an adjustment which is threatened by Bartleby's implicit, and also calm criticism of its endless and sterile motive. Although the humaneness of the lawyer may weaken his symbolic role as a man of Wall Street, it does make him a person to whom the unconscious insights represented by Bartleby might arrive, and who would sympathize with and almost, in a limited sense, yield to Bartleby."

Jey Leyda has suggested: "The figure of Bartleby himself, no matter how wider his true significances may have been drawn from the most intimate friendship of his early maturity -- with Eli James Murdoch Fly, whom he could have first met earlier at the Albany Academy or during Fly's five-year apprenticeship in the law office of Peter Gansevoort, Melville's uncle. In the fall of 1840 they together went to New York looking for work: . . . Fly remained in New York to take a situation with a Mr. Edwards, where he has incessant writing from 'morning to Even.' Fly reappears, in a letter from Melville to Evert Duyckinck: 'He has long been a confirmed invalid, & in some small things I act a little as his agent.'"

Henry Murray has taken a different view of Bartleby: "I have been asked in what psychological or psychiatric category Bartleby belongs and I always answer that there is none made for him. Bartleby is unprecedented, an invention of Melville's creative spirit, the author's gift to psychology, a mythic figure who deserves a category in his own name. I see the scrivener as a composite of several very human dispositions, the first of which is silence, the refusal to speak; and here I could tell you of numerous cases of children as well as adults who, feeling insulted by something that was said to them by a parent or relative, vowed, in a vengeful spirit, never to speak to that person again, and some of these have stubbornly adhered to their vow for many years. But in such cases the verbal ostracism is specific; in Bartleby it is general, with occasional lapses as seen in patients with catatonic schizophrenia. Bartleby's absence of initiative, the immobility accompanying his wall-reveries is often indicative of an inhibiting dread of punishment or guilt, engendered by a surplus of pent-up hostility. It is related to the aboulia one finds in some cases of obsessional neuroses and to the paralysis of will associated with severe depressions. The most accentuated of Bartleby's dispositions is an unswerving negativism which could be interpreted as a regression to the phase of normal development that commonly occurs in the latter half of the second year of life. The nay-saying characteristic of this stage marks the child's initial efforts to attain autonomy and self-sufficiency. Bartleby's refusal of food is indicative of regression to an even earlier stage, illustrated by those resentful and distrustful babies who pucker up their tightly closed lips when offered the bottle after being accustomed to the breast. I wouldn't put it beyond Melville -- who had a four-months-old daughter at the time -- to have derived the name of Bartleby from bottle or bottle baby. Finally, let us note, that Melville had the scrivener end his life with the body huddled in the embryonic position at the base of the prison wall, with 'his head touching the cold stones,' which suggest a web of too many additional ideas for this symposium. . . . I will end by crediting Melville with the discovery of the Bartleby complex."

In Genoa, Metcalf writes about Malcolm, Melville's son: "Mackey, age 18, young dog, fond of firearms, who slept with a pistol under his pillow, came home one night at 3 a.m., and failed to rise in the morning.

Time went on and Herman asked Lizzie to let him sleep, be late at the office & take the consequences as a sort of punishment . . . in the evening the door of the room was opened, and young Melville was found dead, lying on the bed, with a single barreled pistol firmly grasped in his right hand, and a pistol shot wound in the right temple.

(Melville: 'I wish you could have seen him as he lay in his last attitude, the ease of a gentle nature')

And the funeral: '. . . the young Volunteer Company to which Malcolm belonged who had asked the privilege of being present & carrying the coffin from the house to the cars -- filled in at one door from the hall & out at the other -- each pausing for an instant to look at the face of their lost comrade.

Cousin Helen says

they were all so young & it was really a sadly beautiful sight, for the cold limbs of the dead wore the same garments as the strong active ones of the living, Cousin Lizzie -- his almost heart-broken mother -- having dressed her son in the new suit he had taken such pride and pleasure in wearing. Four superb wreaths and crosses of the choicest white flowers were placed on the coffin . . .'

And after, the family pondered whether it was suicide or accident, not thinking that Mackey had held the pistol, and Mackey had pulled the trigger --

the only question being whether he was conscious of his actions, of his motive

On the night of December 17, 1982, around midnight, I was driving home from work, after finishing the second shift. I worked then, as I do now, as a journeyman pressman for Eastern Color Printing Company, in Avon, Connecticut. I had gone to work at 3:30 p.m., and at about 7:15 I bought two bottles of liquor and two bottles of Miller Lite. I drank one of the two beers, and worked until 11:30. (I had bought the liquor for the holidays.)

I was driving west on Route 202, in the center lane of what was at that point a three-lane highway. I noticed what appeared to be a bunch of garbage in the center of the road, about 100 feet away. Just as I approached, a person stood up, out of this bundle, and he and the van collided. His upper body came through the windshield, then slid back out, and down, and he was dragged for 100 feet, before he cleared the bottom of the van, and it was another 100 feet before I could stop. The body lay in a crumpled heap on the road, with a broken spine, silly-putty legs, his sneakers 100 feet away, and chunks of flesh everywhere.

He had come into the van directly between the headlights, and bent in at the waist, as if to bow to passing royalty. The windshield broke into thousands of pieces, and I was sprayed with glass and blood. My coat pockets, socks and shoes were full of glass. I tasted salt in my mouth.

The victim was one Philip Rhoades, a soldier on leave from Fort Riley, Kansas. He was apparently in service under order from a Superior Court judge. His time, from his arrival at the nearby airport, earlier in the day, until the time of the accident, was unaccounted for.

His body slid under the van and bounced like a dribbling basket ball, before finally breaking free.

The smell of anti-freeze from the broken radiator reminded me of shit.

When he came through the windshield one of his dogtags flew off and fell at my feet. I picked it up and put it in my pocket and later gave it to the policeman.

At the time of the accident my ex-wife and three children had just left me. I continued on a binge of cocaine and alcohol.

I drive Route 202 daily, on the way to and from the same job I've had for almost ten years. As I pass the spot where Philip Rhoades died, some days I feel a tinge of remorse, some days anger, and some days pride -- pride in being alive.

From 1-57:

seawaters penetrated, entering the great valley from the north, or from the south, warm waters of the gulf,

the land split, Illinois an ocean sea, between the islands of cincinnatia and ozarkia,

sea surface, sea bed oscillating, deepening, marshes to deeper waters, and these to open sea,

the waters clearing, silt and sediments settling to a gentle slope, too slight to be seen by the eye, an imperceptible southward dip, sea bed beyond reach of wave drag and agitation. (p. 69)

Metcalf is above Cairo, and oddly enough the geography still reminds me of The Confidence-Man:

The girl at Hertz Rent-A-Car in Cape Girardeau directing me to turn that-a-way (But that was west of the Mississippi . . . (p. 88)

Metcalf has used contemporary journals and travel notes in Patagoni and U.S. Dept. of the Interior, but now he is dealing with the continental U.S. and I-57 as the spine of the nation:

"first, there is time, only so much time, for so much to happen -- and there is a discipline of formation, as in physiology and human growth, pre- and post-natal, physical and cultural: -- a phase of growth must occur, and complete itself at a specific time, in the overall pattern, or it will never happen at all (or grows as a malignancy, a gross, unending compensation)

"second, in establishing the interstate as a central discipline, I have created a spine, all of whose vertebrae and ribs must observe formal proportion: which places formal limits to visits and photography, whereas literary reference, as an extension, or projection of life itself, may occur -- but only up to a limit, there are rules here, too, beyond the first limits . . ." (p. 95)

In this journal he includes the history of the area alongside the highway:

"in re, every day is a progression: you begin with the land, rough & raw (the ozarks), then you tame it, make it produce (the prairies) then you make things (industrial north), and finally enjoy (chicago) . . ." (p. 101)

". . . the fear, distrust and haughty envy of the great metropolis, in the shallows near the surfaces, of the downstater . . ." (p. 115)

and he sums up the whole journey in threes:

"chicago:

as Illinois goes in three -- south, central and north -- ozarks, breadbasket, industry -- so chicago at least as seen from 57:

1) the grubby nothing little outskirts towns

2) the endless prairie-spread, residential and industrial

3) downtown, intensity, rush . . ." (p. 149)

"I-57 is an idiosyncratic approach to a place, a region, and to an interior and exterior life . . ." (p. 9)

"The book is a journey, on several levels:

From madness to sanity; From inside the skull (a physiological habitation) to outside . . . subjective to objective, interior to exterior. . . from me to you; From then to now, the journeys of history . . . mythological history, locked in the stone, the shapes of the land; finally, the highway itself, I-57, Sikeston to Chicago: the journey and the journal . . ." (p. 9)

"A poem, a journal, a document -- a journal, a record, a release" (p. lO)

We journey out of madness back into sanity. Past schizophrenia onto one route. One American highway -- I-57. Illinois = Melville's watery prairie -- the attempt to digest the continent . . .
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Title Annotation:response to Paul Metcalf, I-57, 1988
Author:Bertolette, Peter
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jun 22, 1988
Words:5217
Previous Article:Philosophical Papers, 2 vols.
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