Monday, April 14, 2003

I guess I feel like someone, probably me, has misunderstood the spirit of blogging; I thought talking past each other, using one another's ideas as launching pads for one's own ideas, was part of the point. If we're simply supposed to discursively respond to one another's "threads" then we might as well have stuck with the Buffalo list. Dave, you seem peeved that I haven't responded to your writing with the kind of strict point-by-point argument that I might apply in a scholarly paper—which seems less understandable when you attack my use of academese. "Write like a poet": what exactly does that mean? See, I am and remain very sympathetic to your basically Romantic vision of what poetry's for, and I think your point about the "emptiness and contingency of authority" is very smart too. I'm impressed by your willingness to directly engage a school of thinking about poetry that seems inimical to your own, given how many poets simply choose to remain in ignorance of the "authority" accruing to Watten and company. It's not so easy for me to stick to those particular guns: I'm sorry it offends you, but I am writing like a poet when I write like this—an often conflicted poet who feels himself caught between a poetry Left whose fiercely moral point-of-view seems as irrefutable as it does cheerless, and a poetry Right which I cannot cavalierly dismiss the way people who've never bothered to pick up a copy of Lord Weary's Castle or The Dream Songs seem able to. I get a lot out of "Left" books like Watten's Bad History, or Piombino's Theoretical Objects, and there are poets and even critics on the "Right" (my mutterings about Hamlet are straight out of Harold Bloom) whose work I find deeply satisfying or at least like. The folks most often placed in the happy middle seem to be New York Schoolers, but collectively they seem dedicated to a spirit of lightness and shock (light shock?) that I don't always find satisfying. There are also mainstream poets who have a degree of reach and/or virtuosity (I'm still old-fashioned enough to prize virtuosity) that I find worthwhile, like Paul Muldoon for example. Who's in that visionary territory, though? I think of Allen Grossman, but maybe he's too fustian for you, David. Do we have an American Lorca, much less an American Blake, who's writing right now? A living Duncan, even? Who are the great mental sensualists in contemporary American poetry? I'd love to read them.

For what it's worth, I think what I said about "superstructure" (I thought all of my "answers" had a playful tone, but I guess you missed it) was perfectly clear: language as form, as opposed to the content of that language, is constituitive of and constituted by its historical moment in a way that can only be brought out through dialectics. Banal? Well, I'm new to dialectical thinking and I still find it kind of exciting, like the Earthlings in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who still think that digital watches are a pretty neat idea. And I'm still figuring out how to write accurately about these ideas because I think it's nearly as valuable to be able to write about stuff as it is to write stuff. You're not going to be able to bully me into a more casual or more lyrical prose style, as much as it sucks to be called "boring." Maybe I should change this blog's name to "The Pedant" while I'm at it.


I'm a big boy, I can take it. But it's not much fun.

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