Language purports to fill a need. But what if, as the eye can see, there is no need? Why represent what is surely present? Too, our language is the material of our thoughts. But what if the lavish providence of reality requires no repair, no thought? We must somehow learn to be careless. Though we cannot be unlanguaged we may, perhaps, sometimes by poetry, be unburdened of cares our words presume. Here’s a passage from Book III of William Carlos Williams’s Paterson.

Only one answer: write carelessly so that nothing that is not green will survive.

The poetry of attention thrives on carelessness, even as it outspeeds our cares. Greenness is a current even that must keep current (courant, running) to survive. And so, it seems, to abolish doubt we must study velocities. It’s easy, just as Goethe implies. The eye, after all, is well acquainted with the speed of light.

– donald revell

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