Sunday, November 10, 2013

[untitled, blog post nr. 298]

I have been thinking about titles recently, in particular really long titles, and what they can mean, or not.  For instance, Rina Banerjee has created a spiky, insectoid sculpture, which she has given the title:

She drew a premature prick, in a fluster of transgressions, abject by birth she new not what else to do with this untouchable reach, unknowable body as she was an ancient savage towed into his modern present

Fiona Apple titled her latest album:

The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Nathaniel Mackey calls the latest volume in his ongoing exploration of jazz, poetry and much else besides:

 From A Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still EmanateBass Cathedral

Some of my favorites come from Marianne Moore:

"A Lady With Pearls, To  A Blood Red Rook from Turkey, Who Has Depicted Her With Pathos In Surly Monotone."

"In 'Designing A Cloak To Cloak His Designs,' You Wrested From Oblivion A Coat Of Immortality For Your Own Use."

.... and so on (Moore is an especially rich source for lengthy, allusive titles).  

Are layered, coruscant titles merely a conceit, or do they provide a necessary bridge into the work of art?  I think of the ones above each as an ornate forecourt, promising treasures beyond the main gates.  Eye- and heart-catchers, beckoning me in to a world I would not otherwise have visited, a world I likely will not understand even once I have been there but one I will be glad not to have missed.  


Paul Watson said...

I like long titles (the Marianne Moore ones are particularly good!) - they perform the same role as an epigraph at the beginning of a piece of literature.

Jed said...

Just happened across this entry; cool titles. My favorite long titles from science fiction are "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side" and "We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line." For more, see an old blog entry of mine: (