Thomas Albert Fox: "The Charred Lord: an autobiography eastwards".

draft contents

1 Stavrovouni
2 Salvador Dali
3 End
4 Pink Pink Amphibians
5 The Bombers Are Flying
6 Fall Out
7 Larder full
8 Quarks
9 Hairsbreadth: unadhering mindholds failed unsupported and dropped inadequately unexpressed
10 Feeding Life
11 Dis.
12 Here and there among now and then
13 What if
14 XMAS '68
15 Among the world addressed
16 togethermade
17 The Charred Lord
18 time
19 That
20 oasis
21 Last Time and First
22 Bared dumb
23 Stranger Grace Song
24 Nomansland
25 Anthem To The Wall
26 Achilles' Song: Lament For The Fallen
27 XMAS '01
28 Food for thought
29 A Light at Night
30 Xmas Carol
31 Л in the sky
32 Clone of God
33 No Man
34 Water
35 House of Stone



"The Charred Lord" poems are about seeing things. The crux of the volume is a 550 line vision written as a poem entitled The Charred Lord. This is, in a sense, Fox's "best" if (on the face of it) most difficult early work. The "english" of it is impressed deep into the interstices of difference between words and their meanings, into a kind of cyberspace made up of mere evasion whereof the difference between words and their meanings subsist; the place of transition between words and meanings, 'whereinodatbyon' lurks the dynamic of language, the dragon's cave (not the dragon, but its cave, the dragon is out).

Fox made his first notes toward "The Charred Lord" in 1973 or 1974, its central image comes from the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk that was for a fraction of a second a global TV broadcast  during the Vietnam war:

to reach
and the tap of my eyes like moths
fluttering crass
blindingly up against
the light of blaring glass,
behind which divine space lay
clearly inscrutable,
or mention
or accordance with convention,
or naming in the name of the lord its meaning
with a quick word
bleeping between us

[Thomas Albert Fox, "The Charred Lord", Voice ref 1A106]

The Charred Lord does not find itself in protest or other naive purpose, it does not "purport" to be speaking about "the war". Thus, Fox's reference to the specific source of the "charred image" is likely to mislead, however the extract above intimates the way of the poem, its working from mediaspheric experience toward a new "reality", a place divine awaiting invention . (by whom, or by what?) if not by Fox.

The poem envisions an humanity disembowelled of man and woman. An humanity without earthboundedness and subservience to feeding selves, an humanity condemned to graze among malls and mirrors. Humanity is shown as shed of its stereotype, the skin of it, its shine and shape and pattern holding it, that contains it. Here, in the poem, the Charred Lord is free of it that skin of us now, the looks and surfaces of its relations, is free to re-form as a kind of humanity that of another humankind is. The "Lord" is as easily a Lady; the sex of the lord is not pre-empted by the old language of "Lords" and "Ladies" in what is the plough and grammar of our daily bread divided by the technology of the share, the hot oven and cold sword, their working together to serve the belly of us, its feeding through the correct mouth and tongue of us. No, the Charred Lord is another kind of human, neither masked as man nor woman though both, but neither too. The Charred Lord is a person of a new mask whose look and emission of speech defines us as human. The Charred Lord cries out for words to speak with, words that await invention awaiting that necessity which is now upon us. The poem records such cries confusing them for words. Such confusion may have the appearance of misunderstanding, but such appearance is confusing.

The Charred Lord knows that masks of persons are without limit of kind, number or extent, that though their sounds may emit words beyond the looks and forms of them there is nothing behind each one but a mask suffering its person. Masked behind personkind the face of humanity lies plaintive as within the contours of a coffin. The Charred Lord speaks from this coffin only with the semblance of sense, is only semblance. Semblance and persons and masks make up the Charred Lord, and the language of him-her-it (what) is collapsed among the Lord's ashes. Such earning cannot be forgiven its content. Do you see how the extreme parts of the Lord's engine of expression have a semblance of sense, but not here beyond the boundaries of that game, here they fall foul of other rules, rules that conspire with coffins to contain us persons within the realms of the dead letter, subject to burning.

Fox's developing "Theory of Relationality and Solidity" ("ToRaS") is drafted under "House of Stone".