Saturday, November 23, 2013

Analysis of "Bloodletting" by Alex Dimitrov

Original poem reprinted online here: "Bloodletting" by Alex Dimitrov
Originally read: June 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Alex Dimitrov

When reread this poem, I focused too intently on past me's notes, "Mockery of the divine -- Dionysian focus?  Human focus." And throughout the poem, I tried to find more cases of mockery and how it affects the poem.  Also, I spent some time thinking of what Fellini's works fit in with the reference made in the poem.  Perhaps, Fellini's Cassanova.

Yet, the more and more I read the lines -- the couplets, and how the speaker views the "you" in the poem, I feel the tone and the allusion work more of a stage presence, some backdrop in order to characterize both the speaker and the "you" in this sort of world.

But yet I digress, The first lines does indeed have a Dionysian effect, "The gods have no choice / but to let us live a little -- / they would die for comedy."  However, the shift in the line happens on the third line where it would seem like the speaker is mocking the gods, but instead the gods have no choice but to look down at the situation between the "You and I."

Then comes the reference to Fellini, "You and I today, we're like bad actors / in a black and white Fellini movie."  I haven't watched any Fellini movies, but I did do some research, and took away from it this line -- Fellini's work is "synonymous with any kind of extravagant, fanciful, even baroque image in the cinema and in art in general."

So I debated with myself for a long time (as I mentioned earlier) and the basic question boiled down to this, "how much am I missing from this poem if I don't know Fellini?"  A part of me says a whole lot, and a part of me says not much.  So I'll try to argue both.


"A Whole Lot"

When the poem refers to a specific point like, "The scene where the boys undress / and color the river with sex" has a visual impact on a multiple level -- if I knew the scene then I would understand what the speaker is going against with a line like, "is useless." 

Furthermore, the line referencing "bloodletting" would allow me as a reader to jump from the allusion to allusion, and understand how the references interact with how the speaker views the relationship. 

So when the line "let us feel this thrashing" transitions to the internal visual images (and the pistons of the heart, the heart --" to a more personal also correlates with the movie reference which I'm guessing is "Fellini's Cassanova" and foreshadows a more tragic end.

"Not Much"

Fellini in the poem is more of a smoke and mirrors which reinforces the outside view the speaker sees in the relationship with the "you."  "If you can't show red, why bother filming?"  If you can't express color, or expose what is there -- there's no part of filming -- or more importantly now point in watching.

So when the reference goes to the scene -- the reinforcement of cinema acts as a macro to the relationship.  Each coupling is a part of the "you and I" in which the speaker sees as "useless" as bloodletting -- the physical withdrawal of blood to improve health.  The withdrawal from a "relationship" to improve self.

But that doesn't matter -- there's a physical investment, "And the pistons of the heart, the heart --"  the repetition not only adds a sonic quality, but also parallels (and foreshadows) the urgent merging of the "you and I"

"aren't pumping fast enough / to let us feel this thrashing."  The speaker wants a ramp up physically, so  "you and I" feeling something together -- pain is something at lest.


I feel I'm overreaching on the "Not Much" section, and not pushing far enough with the "A Whole Lot" section.  I'm pretty sure that there's a way to merge both, but my mind doesn't go to that direction with this poem.  I feel one interpretation overpowers the other.

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