Saturday, January 06, 2007

O Yes

Posted by olvlzl

illie Olsen died this week. Her small body of works will be read when the large trilogies and series meditating the angst of the middle-aged, middle-class, white American male are footnotes. Her story “O Yes”, perhaps the most overlooked in the collection “Tell Me A Riddle” is one of the most profound and heart wrenching accounts of the kind of people who have been too little noticed. When the work is this good the amount of it doesn’t matter.

Tillie Olsen was once wished a blessing by an admirer during one of the lifetimes of demonstrations for social justice and political progress she participated in. Her response was a request not to bless her but to blast the system.

I dedicate this week's blasting of the system to Tillie Olsen’s memory.

Title Page

The rich and the lucky can just shut up
nobody wants to know anything about them.
But the needy have to show themselves,
to say: I am blind,
or: I am going to be soon
or: things are not going well for me on Earth
or: I have a sick baby,
or: I am held together with patches....

And maybe that is nowhere near enough.

And since everyone overlooks them,
as they go on their way, they have to sing.

And one hears some good songs too.

Really, people are odd; they’d rather
hear castrati in boy-choirs.

But God himself comes and pays heed
when these deformed ones upset him.

Rainer Maria Rilke: The Voices, nine pages with a title page
From Book of Pictures II translated by olvlzl