Monday, October 06, 2003

"Images exist solely to spread their own news."

Back in the you ess ess eh. Trying to catch up with all the blogs, which is a little like going to the mustiest of musty rooms in my hometown's public library where the week's newspapers were stored, slowly warping and filling with air. Serve immediately! That's how it ought to be with blogs.

You're all dying to hear about my trip to England, I know, but there's too much to recap about Things I Did and too little to relate about Things I Thought and Felt. Traveling alone puts me in a hazy state of mind, unanchored as I am from my daily context, without even the interior of a car slowly accumulating empty Coke cans to serve as a touchstone. I thought this trip would be an opportunity for introspection (as if I needed more) but my usual self-consciousness was replaced by a kind of placeholder self, to which I could murmur such observations as, "Nine hundred years is a long time," and "Kenneth Branagh's American accent is good, but sometimes he sounds like a smart American and sometimes he sounds like a stupid American." What else can I offer. English food is bad but not as bad as reported. English bookstores were strangely uninteresting to me, perhaps because they offered the same stuff you see at American bookstores—also, most if not all of the ones that sold new books were chains. The poetry sections were dismal: the glories of the Anglo-Irish tradition (Blake, Yeats, Auden, et al) were mixed in with "modern" stuff that seemed either tendentious or "light" or tendentiously light. Dreadful stuff. I did lust after a copy of Tom Raworth's collected poems, with its appealingly plain jacket, but it was 20 pounds or so and would have added considerably to the weight I was lugging. One thing the English do well is Shakespeare—the productions of Cymbeline (Stratford RSC) and Twelfth Night (the new Globe in London) were flat-out some of the best Shakespeare productions I've ever seen. Kind of wish I'd given this dance performance I saw Friday night a miss (work by a choreographer named Cathy Marston; it was lovely but not electrifying) and gone to see Pericles at the Lyric in Hammersmith instead.

Bob Perelman has e-mailed me a copy of the talk he gave, "Old Modernism: News and 'the New' in Williams' 'Asphodel,'" and I'm going to read it over and then perhaps report on what it says. I've also got Barrett Watten's e-mail and I'm going to ask for a copy of his talk, "Disinformation and Modern Authority"; in passing he slammed the practice of blogging and I hope he'll give me permission to quote that bit and then maybe y'all will have some thoughts on it. In the meantime I've got to catch up on reading my students' poems and stories and dig into the draft introduction of Adorno's Aesthetic Theory for seminar tomorrow. And do a final revision of the paper I presented so that it can get graded, already.

Still a bit jet-lagged but from the other end, so to speak. Midnight at seven PM.

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