Monday, October 03, 2005

Reading de Certeau on how consumption can be a kind of production, I find myself wondering if any major studies have been done on the poet as consumer: browsing through the landscape of commodities remaking it as he or she sees fit in order to make a livable environment. I find myself thinking that this is a good general description for the practices of the New York School. I then think that the Language poets look more like constructivists, with a production-oriented aesthetic as a natural outgrowth of their Marxism. Which oddly makes the Language poets look nostalgic in their basic orientation (looking back to the constructs of Modernism) while the New York School poets are straight-up postmodernists, renouncing production of anything but the livable private moment in a world geared toward elimination of public life in any terms other than those of commodity and consumer, celebrity and spectator.

Now I find myself returning to Bakhtin and his notion of heteroglossia as the centrifugal force in language that subverts unitary centripetal authority (the official discourses of various disciplines and genres); heteroglossia sounds an awful lot like bricolage as de Certeau describes it, although Bakhtin doesn't seem to leave as much space for agency. What on earth does any of this have to do with Zukofsky and pastoral? Something to do with improvisation, with somehow seizing or delimiting the empty space of the universal, which contains or is contained by nature. I proceed by guesswork in the dark.

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