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05/22/2003

Thought Foxes

Somewhat like what is true with the names "Aurora D." and "Hit Those Keys", the notion of a "thought fox" is a layered one. In the plural, it's the title of one of my works-in-progress, a YA novel that is showing signs of wanting to also be a critical essay and perhaps an e-narrative, as well.

I also use "thought fox" more generically, to refer to a certain kind of writing which is difficult to find a name for. I mean by it a writing that summons something into being through words. There's an incantatory quality to this, and more than a bit of sleight of hand. It is the sort of writing that is unsearchable by conventional means: Shelley Powers' RDF poetry finder would be very handy for locating more examples.

The original "thought fox" is a construct in a Ted Hughes poem:

The Thought Fox

I imagine this midnight’s moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now,

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, and eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

—Ted Hughes,
from The Hawk in the Rain

 

Do you see what happens here? A piece of writing that does that is a thought fox. At least, I name it so.

May 22, 2003 in if in doubt, quote, influences, practical theories, work in progress | Permalink

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