Aim At The Centaur Stealing Your Wife amalgamates the slang of the centuries. Jennifer Nelson is an art historian with a Twitter feed and some resolve. The title is apt to produce a complex thought system about the nature of relationships. Philosophy majors may recall Heracles shooting the poison arrow at Nessus, the centaur trying to force himself upon his wife. Nessus lies to the woman and deceives her into killing her own husband. Whether the extrapolation is made unto interpersonal living, it can certainly be seen intrapersonally. Aim At The Centaur Stealing Your Wife amalgamates the slang of the centuries. Jennifer Nelson is an art historian with a Twitter feed and some resolve. The title is apt to produce a complex thought system about the nature of relationships. Philosophy majors may recall Heracles shooting the poison arrow at Nessus, the centaur trying to force himself upon his wife. Nessus lies to the woman and deceives her into killing her own husband. Whether the extrapolation is made unto interpersonal living, it can certainly be seen intrapersonally.
An experimental theater
Imagine no one passing
In World of Warcraft my hippogryph
beats like maracas
This opening poem speaks to the nature of modern times. As history only repeats itself, we must look subtly for the cues in which it is. The mythical creature has not disappeared; it has only changed arenas. Griffin’s are still kicking, with regularity. And by breaking this open from page one, the reader’s imagination is set to absorb the truth from myth and reality.
We have made technology in our own image. Virtual Reality encroaches on daily living in every corner. Philosophers like Paul Verbeek have questioned the morality of cars and computers, phones and new science, but reality has been in flux since 1473 when Mantegna painted in the wedding chapel.
“I am thinking of the people who suffer / to make my electricity possible / not out of love, because it is crude.” This line hits like a punch to the gut. So much of our new world is taken for granted. Philosophers must question the impact, while poets make sense of the parallel between now and when reality was first distorted. In humanity’s attempt to portray the mind of self and the mind of the hive, there is always a rift. Certainly Nelson employs her knowledge of old technology in her thoughts about today.
She states in “Death’s Feet” that we are in the repetition of events as we cruise through life. “Death held court” and:
the most famous huddle the godhuddle on
the Sistine ceiling
we recapitulated it
as Death held court
So, the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a constant play, an experimental theater inside of every single person. That even “Tiepolo left crappy / graffiti on the lectern” and we are no different in our scribbles and mistakes. “Both prove I am human / and have been in love.”
“The Shrine Of The Later Sibyl” and “The Birth Of Fantasia” are both further proof of history being reflected in modern times. Nelson forays through many different artistic generations. Landing in our generation in the next section, also the middle of the book and perhaps the center of the work.
“There’s a discussion about death in my newsfeed / Everyone assumes when you die the self dies / Of course I argue even though I agree.” And perhaps this speaks to social media as a whole, a chance to cut your teeth. It reminds me of the philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s opinion in which we mostly say things to try out what it feels like to say such a thing. Soon after, Nelson says in “Lovers Don’t Read Kafka” that “I’m too busy to do anything but be in love,” which incorporates one of the best jokes in the book: “it’s like the only metaphors we have for things’ / coming together are symphonies and fucking.”
Mass culture has so much to learn from these poems. This post-modern vision of a world we have created is not quite paradise and “in paradise one cannot read Kafka.” They must listen to Billy Idol. Ha. Nelson distorts reality herself, just like artists she studies. As the book presses on, her poems achieve more unique stances on the current state. The “White Wedding” inspired sonnets are a thing unto themselves.
As the book reaches its end there is a conclusion all too familiar to people. The history lessons that Nelson has provided could be translated as warnings and education. Too often do people struggle to hold on to revelation. We must be entrenched in it in order to receive it. The modern world, with all of its improved technology, is not new so much as it ever was. But the orgy of it is similar to drunkenness. We are a people drunk on advancement. “The Desperate Earth” begins in saying: “I had many dreams after finishing the whiskey / and forgot them all once they made me sober.”