Thursday, December 15, 2011

Voyager / by Srikanth Reddy

In one of the more creative concepts for a book ever (even poetry), author Srikanth Reddy explores the realms of material consciousness even as the object of his examination probes the physical boundaries of creation itself. In Voyager, the very concepts of life and matter are embodied, reawakened in a spiritual and figurative catharsis involving past transgressions, present distortions and a clever amalgamation of time and 'space'. The original source of his content, a print message and memoir authored by former U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, is currently (at this moment) traveling on an interplanetary journey out of Earth's solar system aboard the Voyager I satellite. The spacecraft, launched back in 1977, is now the furthest man-made object from Earth. The irony of the situation is that, post-1977, Waldheim was indicted and partially proven guilty of Nazi war crimes--as an SS Intelligence Officer, evidence showed he at least knew about certain intricate aspects of the Final Solution--and was party to further anti-Semitic political maneuverings during his tenure as the Austrian president. Reddy literally dissects, inter-cuts, rearranges and subliminally alters Waldheim's own words to reflect the paradoxical truth of an object intended to confront phenomenon beyond our terrestrial means, but which conceals crucial truths, explicit and otherwise, about our own world underneath its veneer.

Without knowing the context, it might be hard not to judge Reddy's carefully crafted, abstract exposition as too dense. The quirky alliteration ("Is is./The self is a suffering form./War is a failure of form") intro's the three part book in sparse, minimalistic fashion before the middle section segues into more direct territory ("This is the universal journey/the gravest proclaimed/in a universal language."). At times the narration overtly renders the author himself as the speaker, an individual with only a conceptual knowledge of his subject ("In my office a globe was set up/less a world than a history of imperialism and corruption"). Other portions speak in another voice, projections of a seemingly nebulous entity, which grasp out at the very substance of consciousness ("creation and fall,/I found fences/all laid down in blood.") Reddy, a literature professor at the University of Chicago, certainly has a gift for nuance and his range in wordplay is unquestionably superior. This is only his second published work of poetry. (811.6 REDDY)

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