Wednesday, June 01, 2005

If F. Scott Fitzgerald was right and the test of the first-rate mind is the ability to hold two diametrically opposed concepts in your mind at the same time, then my mind is indeed first rate, because I thought the movie was completely great AND completely lame at the same time.


Multiple lightsaber duels, each more spectacular than the last
Ian McDiarmid's performance—this is his movie
Spaceship design: proto-TIE fighters, X-wings, Star Destroyers, etc.
Anakin's physical transformation into Vader: from charred multiple amputee to James Earl Jones in three easy steps!
Genuine epic sweep
The Chronicles of Narnia trailer before the movie started. Okay, that doesn't count.


The acting of almost everyone other than McDiarmid, with special raspberries for Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, and that insufferable little green gnome
The dialogue, with special lameness mentions for Anakin & Padme's love twitter and Yoda's increasingly improbable syntax
Yoda's assassination attempt on the Emperor: what, the guy throws a few Senatorial pods at you and it's "I give up" for twenty years?
Anakin's spiritual transformation into Vader: from sulks & hissy fits to mass murderer just because of a few badly rendered dream sequences


The suggestion that some Sith lord is Anakin's "father" because he can manipulate those stupid "mitochondrites" or whatever they're called
Ewan McGregor's Alec Guinness imitation
The ultimately unpersuasive flirtation with the possibility that both Palpatine and Vader sincerely believe in what they're doing (to see this done right, read Darth Vader's blog).

So there we are. As for drawing and crossing lines, Aaron and I didn't get a chance to discuss it, but I think there's no avoiding drawing at least dotted lines if you want to orient yourself in the tumultuous field of culture in general and poetry in particular. I'm still reading Zizek's The Ticklish Subject and he's introducing me to the thought of Alain Badiou and Ernesto Laclau and the gap between the Particular and the Universal. According to Laclau, the Universal is always a void to be struggled over and hegemonized. In this case, "poetry" is the ultimately empty signifier of the universal, with various particulars that are given names like "post-avant," "the mainstream," etc.; or give the wheel a spin to talk about, say, New York poets; or give it another spin to talk about actual movements and schools (the Beats, the Language poets, and so on). Those of us who are players in this particular game of the Universal are constantly struggling over the hegemony of its meaning: the mainstream does this primarily by denying it exists, while the spirit of the post-avant seems more invested in opposing the existing hegemony than trying to establish one of its own. That's Laclau anyway, a postmodernist who thinks all Universals are empty containers for ideology. Badiou is more interesting because he actually believes in Truth and that it's the task of an authentic subjectivity to create that Truth—in other words, there's a non-ideological truth behind a given poet or critic's effort to define poetry and it's not simply a career move (though it's not simply not a career move, either).

So I draw lines to try and create a better climate for poetry, by understanding where given poets come from and how they fit into particular movements and events. But I try to keep my eraser handy.

No comments:

Popular Posts