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PostWysłany: Czw 5:47, 14 Paź 2010    Temat postu: technological

Like I noted in the post, one of the things that annoyed Joyelle and me about publishing when we started Action Books was all these presses claiming they had no aesthetic, that they were just looking for “the best, no matter what style.” As if there were a best no matter what style. So that’s why we decided to be more honest and immediately started issuing essays and manifestos about writing we liked, trying to explore and explain and examine our own ideas. This seems to have really annoyed people. It seems in America we still want to believe in an Object Taste, poetry that can be judged without a discussion about aesthetics.
The result of the American idea of the poet who doesn’t write critically is a helpless poet, an insular poetry, and a poetry that depends a whole lot on official taste-makers and gatekeepers, rather than engaged and lively exchanges of ideas. And that seems exactly the desired effect.
Reason I note of this: the word “squad”. The dangers of the collective. Of course I don’t mind being part of the Leaking Orifice Squad. Or to quote Bob Dylan: “All I do is protest.” All I do is leak from orifices.
From what I’ve experienced and witnessed in my life, interaction with other writers, artist and thinkers often leads to more interesting, more adventurous writing (it’s certainly true for me). Of course, it often happens that the other way around is true as well (for example, if there are teachers who merely want to maintain status quo, have a poor idea of pedagogy). But just through the Internet I’ve “met” and engaged in so many interesting discussions with people from around the US, Europe, Asia etc. I’m pleased about this.
One additional note: It was just brought to my attention that John Latta is again acting out: “What am I saying? How “our” late groupuscular “advances”―moribund Flarf and the overweening conceptualist puzzle-makers―and the newish Notre Dame leaking orifice squad―depend mightily on insolence and excess…”
“Reliquary Fever: New and Selected Poems gathers the work of Beckian Fritz Goldberg, one of her generation’s premiere voices and its fiercest proponent of a free imagination. From the beginning of her career and in all of her six acclaim volumes, Goldberg’s poetry has rendered labels – narrative, meditative, lyric, experimental – irrelevant. It is quickened instead by the body as it experiences itself in an open environment: uncodified, stranded by longing and love and grief,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], defiantly caring in the midst of our violent, cutlural moment, at once creaturely and divine, precisely sensory, and somehow pluralized by every harrowing turn.”
Now I should say I know it’s hard to write blurbs, but this is one heap of nonsense. Why is it such a feat to avoid “labels”? To remain “uncodified”? Another instance of: the best poetry does not have an aesthetic, it just is. Also: what is this “open environment”? It seems to repeat the same line: this poetry is “open”, not “closed” by aesthetics/”labels.” Or is this “environment” our society? Because our society is certainly not “open.” And why is “being stranded by longing and love and grief” “open”? That cannot be labeled? She is “defiantly caring in the midst of our violent cultural moment”: this seems to suggest an escapism to me, the illusion of being apart from “our violent cultural moment.” And such a stance is very much the politics of what Ron Silliman has called “quietism”: by caring we are “defiant” against a violent world, we are not part of it; in fact,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], being defiantly caring puts the poet apart from that horrible, technological, violent world.
So I don’t know about Goldberg’s poetry, but the blurb is certainly full of very label-worthy aesthetics. And the idea that this work is outside of ‘labels’ just repeats the naturalizing claim of dominant ideologies.
I just received this postcard from New Issues Press advertising a new book by Beckian Fritz Goldberg. I’ve never heard of this poet, never read her poems, so this is not about her, but rather the blurb on the postcard:
There’s a related issue that I think is important, and that I also noted in the MFA post: the incredibly pervasive anxiety about people stating their aesthetics, foregrounding their aesthetics, trying to explore and explain their aesthetics, rather than assuming that there’s some kind of objective Good Taste.
This ideal has led to a lot of American poets thinking that writing criticism is beneath them, un-poet-like. A very American thing. In most other places it seems poets are very active. The Action Books authors Aase Berg (Sweden), Kim Hyesoon (South Korea) and Hiromi Ito (Japan) are all big names in their countries (bigger in fact than American poets are in the US, for not unrelated reasons) but they all write criticism, often in daily papers. And often they write about other things as well – feminism, child-care, horror movies.
I think the perhaps most notable point in my critique of Franz Wright’s rant against MFAs is not his hypocrisy but the ideal he sets up: writers should be alone with their writing (and presumably the Great Books of Geniuses Past). This is a pervasive model of the artist that is reinforced continually in the US. In the most recent issue of Writer’s Chronicle, the journal supposedly published to facilitate discussions about poetry for people in graduate programs (school being a place where one hopefully interact with other people interested in poetry), there’s a guy writing about the need to go be alone in the woods. It’s amazing that one of the mantras of Creative Writing establishment seems to run totally counter to creative writing programs,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], which after all set up a kind of sociality where ideas can be exchanged (at best).
This mantra contains a number of subtexts. If you’re alone with the Great Books, the Great Books, Tradition etc get a whole lot of importance. Ie you will likely be a much more traditional author. Further, alone in the woods means a rejection of engagement with the contemporary world: ie poetry should exist in that grad tradition,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], not react to what’s going on in the world. It’s also implicitly theistic, anti-technological, and removed from political solidarity.
But mostly I think the current proliferation of this mantra comes from an anxiety about the current age – an age in which the Internet generates all kinds of interesting discussions about poetry (not just the Great Books but about Lady Gaga, flarf, the Gurlesque etc),[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], and digital means of production has created a publishing situation where the decision of who gets their books published lies not with just a few gatekeepers of the tradition. It’s no wonder these folks want people to go be alone.

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