Monday, July 18, 2005

A gentleman came by the store this morning who I mistook for a retired farmer—actually he's a retired high school teacher, former divinity student, and Robert Duncan scholar, looking to find out when or if the University of California Press was going to release its promised complete Duncan series. (Anyone know anything about this? All I could find was Lisa Jarnot's Duncan page.) Anyway, he gave me an impromptu lecture on Duncan, the poetics of addressing a choir or parliament (with two choirs or benches to the left and right of the speaker—I think that was part of his point), and the significance of pastoral to the work of Max Weber—pastoral as a mode of consolation for social suffering, which brilliantly illustrated for me the now obviously intrinsic relation between pastoral and elegy. Sometimes you get these little gifts handed to you.

Tony Tost's resurrected Unquiet Grave has some useful musings on two basic types of literary journal: the omnibus of "arrival" (here comes the omnibus!) and the mag that seeks to advance a particular aesthetic or communitarian position. I'm sympathetic to his desire for something new, something more self-interrogative, than either existing model seems able to provide. More like a diary in which the entries are written by other people; an unrefereed blog (or e-mail list) will obviously fail to achieve this. What is the guiding principle of such a diarist? Something beyond the merely personal, as Tony says: something more about knowledge and investigation. Investigation of a particular theme or topic would be one way—I find myself thinking of Jonathan Skinner's ecopoetics (I recently learned the back-issues are available as PDFs; worth a look). But Tony's idea sounds even more idiosyncratic than that. Anyway, I'm looking forward as I'm sure we all are to seeing what his Fasicle project will be like.

And now, to lunch.

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