Hannah and the Master

‘Who may reach into the depths of terror, but lovers?’ asks the MASTER in Joshua Corey’s spellbinding new collection. The question unfolds and folds back on itself multiplying in breathtaking, visionary waves. In this erudite and unflinching landscape, the characters (Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Simone Weil, to name a few) exist both at the margins and at dead center of the 20th century’s furious catastrophes. Being and non-being, poetry and philosophy, fiction and nonfiction, prayer and play, crash into each other creating luminous shards of history, desire, and heartache. Structured like an epic riddle, this book is the perfect mirror in which to discern the resurgence of fascism today.
— Sandra Simonds
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Coming in September from Ahsahta Press.

Joshua Corey’s fifth full-length poetry collection is a speculative masque on one of the twentieth century’s most notorious love affairs, that between Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger and his Jewish protégé, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt. Their story takes on a fresh, stark urgency In our own era of resurgent fascism and climate destabilization. Hannah and the Master restages Arendt’s struggle to free herself from Heidegger’s influence in a poetic narrative in which science-fiction replicants of the lovers restage their affair in the twenty-first century’s apocalyptic light. Against the atavistic nihilism of the MASTER, accomplice and instigator to the WAVE of climate instability, HANNAH rises as a figure for political love-of-the-world, who asserts in the face of fascist blindness our responsibility to think and act. Hannah and the Master moves through the mad love of its titular characters and into the state of pariahhood and exile, from which our heroine takes her stand against apocalypse in the time of our Gaiagony—the struggle for a new world to be born out of the ruin we’ve made of the earth.

 
 

EXTERIOR VISION 

From city heights the sleeper descends, down the elevator, down the subway stairs, down into bedrock and through, down into the muffled blackness of the earth that imperceptibly at first and then suddenly lightens, whitens into cloud’s furze, sun’s halo, the scored layers of blue sky below which the dimpled hills and valleys of the forest tumble and roll.

HANNAH digs down to him through the scored layers of sky in her dream. Down and down, membrane after membrane, to the cabin roof. She would cut a hole in that roof, a skylight to admit the sky’s qualities, to open the lid of thought in the roof of the cabin on the side of the mountain in the heart of the forest. Light finds the visitor’s registry and blows through the history of names. The MASTER sits at a plain deal table, writing. If he looked up he would see HANNAH floating there like a jellyfish not six inches above his head, motiveless, adopting as her own the subtle movements of the air stirred by the sterile heat of a single bulb. He does not look up. His moving hand and pentip leave a trail to dazzle her retinas, trace a wake. The fox wears no fur. The jellyfish, all skirts, in her inscrutable floating life, rotating, umbilical. Rooted to this cabin, spiracle, a mote in the vast cyanotic eye of the forest. Calling: look up. Vocational. Calling: full stop squatting on top of his head. The MASTER goes on writing. HANNAH’s eyes follow the track of her outstretched arms, down to the earth working in the track of turning treads, filled in behind by corpses, up again to the measuring unsheltered given of being, the home of gods and satellites, our new politics, the steel horizon, the sky.

 
Hannah and the Master begins with the dark attraction that held that least-likely pair, Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, in mutual orbit through the most troubling decades of a troubled century. But it’s the mix of Corey’s materials that steals the show in Hannah and the Master: journeys to the underworld; ecological anxiety; the aesthetico-political thought of the Jewish 20th century; Hannah’s writings to Martin; Martin’s writings to Hannah; and, of course, Blade Runner all take turns on the stage. What’s remarkable is the degree to which this all coheres. As I turned these pages, my thoughts ran to William Blake and his prophetic poems on France and America. There, as here, an unredeemed world slouches toward apocalypse, and real people stand revealed, not in the light of history, but in the aspect of eternity. Corey’s Arendt is a witchy presence, and like a true goddess, manifests in a thousand forms, some of them fearsome. It’s growing darker out there, people, and only Hannah Furiosa can save us now. Read this and you’ll understand.
— Robert Archambeau
Joshua Corey’s brilliant and disturbing, sometimes ‘futuristic’ Hannah and the Master reminds us with every word and trope that we are living, as he puts it, in the ‘night of human forgetting.’ Radiating out from the decades-long complex and confounding relationship between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, Corey creates a multi-layered and agonized series of reminders including everything from youthful love to the Nazis to the dark dimensions of our current and future cultural and eco-political fate, one in which Arendt, the major heroine of this work, becomes an ‘emigrant as pariah’ transformed into a ‘replicant of herself.’ In the doubled and tripled dimensions of this work—a riff on Charles Olson evokes the archaic, and a character named THE WAVE embodies the foreboding forces of human extinction–Corey echoes a Dante set on a reverse path. ‘I wish to say,’ he writes, ‘that midway through our life’s journey we have misplaced literacy, the soul, right terror for angels.’ His vision is a warning, delivering us, in Corey’s precise yet feverishly beautiful language, not into Paradise but an impending disastrous Apocalypse.
— Michael Heller