1 – THE STARS
He is the primary translator of Octavio Paz into English. His anthology American Poetry Since 1950: Innovators and Outsiders (1993) was a bestseller in Mexico, and his edition of Jorge Luis Borges’s Selected Non-Fictions (1999) received the National Book Critics Circle prize for criticism. In 1992, he was given PEN’s first Gregory Kolovakos Award for his work in promoting Hispanic literature in the United States, and in 2000 he was the first American literary writer to be awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the government of Mexico.
Eliot Weinberger’s publications include the collection of essays Karmic Traces: 1993-1999 and a translation of Bei Dao’s Unlock (with Iona Man-Cheong), both published by New Directions in 2000. He is the editor of The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry (2003).A Selected Bibliography
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The stars: what are they? They are chunks of ice reflecting the sun; lights afloat on the waters beyond the transparent dome; to the sky; they are they are nails nailed they are holes in the great curtain between us and the sea of light; they are holes in the hard shell that protects us from the inferno beyond; they are the daughters of the sun; they are the messengers of the gods; they are shaped like wheels and are condensations of air with flames roaring through the spaces between the spokes; they are strewn across the sky; they sit in little chairs; they run errands for lovers; they are composed of atoms that fall through the void and entangle with one another; they are the souls of dead babies turned into flowers in the sky; are birds whose feathers are on fire; they they impregnate the mothers of great men; they are the shining concentrations of spirit-breath, made from the residues left over from the creation of the sun and moon; famine, plague, good and bad harvests, the birth of kings; prices of salt and fish; they portend war, death, they regulate the they are the seeds of all the creatures on earth; they are the flock of the moon, scattered across the sky like sheep in a meadow, and she leads them to pasture; music in the sky; they are moving; they are spheres of crystal and their movement creates a they are fixed and we are moving; we are fixed and they are the seal-hunters who have lost their way; the footprints of Vishnu, striding across the sky; they are they are the lights of the palaces where the spirits live; they are of different sizes; funeral candles, and to dream of them is to dream of death; they are they are, like all matter, made of four kinds of matter: protons, neutrons, electrons, neutrinos; they are all the same size but some are closer to us; they interact through four forces: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces; they are the only gods and the sun is the chief among them; they are the ostrich hunters, out all night, and at dawn they huddle near the sun to get warm, which is why you cannot see them; warm and cold, come from the stars; lap; dew and frost fall from the stars; winds, stars fall from heaven into a maiden’s they are the embers of the fire of creation; they never change;
1they are the white tents where the Star People live; they are the countless eyes of Varuna, who rides across the sky on Makara, who is half bird and half crocodile, or half antelope and half fish; they are in a state of constant flux; sacrifices must be made to them to bring rain; they are the Never Vanishing, in the form of swallows feeding on the fruit of the Tree of Immortality that grows on the island in the Lake of the Green Falcon; flash; they are delightful; they glisten, twinkle, sparkle, they are portents of evil; the eyes of Thjasse flung into the sky by Thor; they are they are the white ants in the anthill built around the motionless Dhurva, who meditates for eternity deep in the forest; they are a kind of celestial cheese churned into light; simply are; they are, they the stars are an enormous garden, and if we do not live long enough to witness their germination, blooming, foliage, fecundity, fading, withering, and corruption, there are so many specimens that every stage is before our view; we and all the stars we see are just one atom in an infinite ensemble: a cosmic archipelago; the sky is like a millstone turning, with the stars like ants walking on it in the opposite direction; the sky is like the canopy of a carriage, with the stars strung like beads across it; volcanoes upon it; the stars; the sky is a solid orb and the stars the perpetual illumination of the the sky is solid lapis lazuli, flecked with pyrite, which are each star has a name and a secret name; we hear from them is their light; the only word men will never compass in their conceptions the whole of the stars; under a starry sky on a clear night, the hidden power of knowing speaks a language with no name; them; goodness and love flow down from if we were not located in a galaxy we would see no stars at all; if gravity were not so weak, the stars would be smaller, and if the stars were smaller they wouldn’t burn for very long, and if they didn’t burn for very long we wouldn’t be here; they have no chance or random element, no erratic or pointless movement; evil and misfortune flow down from them; is improbable; their infinitude propels us to count them; their existence their wondrous regularity is beyond belief and proof of the divine intelligence that resides within them; the eternal silence of those infinite spaces is frightening; universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless; the more the all stars move and shine in order to be most fully what they are– light gives light because it is its nature; acquaintance with the stars is essential to an understanding of the poets;
if the stars did not radiate light they would explode; souls after death inhabit the stars– the blaze of a new star might therefore indicate that the soul of a great man, or woman, had reached its destination; ‘astrally unfortunate’; ‘disaster’ connotes the only explanation why there are so many stars we cannot see is that the Lord created them for other creatures, further out, to admire at a nearer distance; we are the center of the material universe but at the perimeter of the spiritual universe and we are doomed to watch the spectacle of the celestial dance from afar; unlike the other animals, man was made to stand erect so that he could gaze at the stars; return to rule England again; a hideous face; King Arthur is up there, waiting for his K’uei is there, the brilliant scholar born with up there is the Manger, the Mist, the Little Cloud, the Beehive; look: the Tower of Babel and the Felicity of Tents; up there are highway robbers, and doves bringing ambrosia to the gods, and the twin horsemen of the dawn; sea; up there the daughter of the wind, mourning for her husband lost at the Strong River is there, and the Palace of the Five Emperors, the Kennel of the Barking Dogs, the Straw Road, the Birds’ Way, the Snake River of Sparkling Dust; up there are the nymphs who mourn their brother Hyas, killed by a wild boar, and whose tears are shooting stars; there are the Seven Portuguese Towers, the Boiling Sea, the Place Where One Bows Down; look: the Ostriches Leaving and the Ostriches Returning and the Two Ostriches who are friends;