1 mar. 2006

At this point in my life and career there is a certain depth to my reading that should result in making my scholarship deeper too. It's partly a function of age, although not everyone of my age has it. Part of it is knowing how little you know. I thought I was moderately erudite when I was 30, but now I realize I'm not even close to being there now.

Another part of it is having gone to school with a number of different poets and writers. I read articles where I think that the critic has only read only a few things beyond what the teacher assigned.

(I'm not all that interested in being erudite in terms of information. We've all known erudite bores. I think of it as getting useable knowledge.)

Another part of it is being obsessive and somewhat competitive.

How many poets have followed Pound's curriculum? Troubadours, Calvacanti, Chinese poetry, Noh Theater? Quite a few. Now realize the difference between following it and coming up with it in the first place. If you really followed it you would know more than Pound, to paraphrase Bernstein on language poetry.

Rothenberg has that kind of depth too, obviously. Kenneth Koch had it, with different sources: Roussel, Noh Theater, Kawabata, Byron and Shelley, Borges. David Shapiro has it. Henry Gould has it. Irby has it. It's not a quietude issue, since this particular kind of depth doesn't line up with poetic styles.

Valente was a quite serious scholar of Spanish mysticism. Cernuda's book on British Romanticism turned out to be mostly just a pastiche. But imagine where he'd be if he hadn't even compiled the pastiche.

Superficiality bugs the hell out of me. But we are all superficial outside our domain. I've spent more than a few hours with Pierre's Celan translations, but my knowledge of Celan is still superficial.