13 sept. 2006

The idea that there are different aesthetics, and that we have to judge a poem on its own ground rules--I reject that. A recent James Tate poem is inadequate, if it is inadequate, according to James Tate's own aesthetics. That is, the aesthetics of his best work more than twenty years ago. He lost it at some point in the mid-70s and never really came back. (The Oblivion Ha-Ha was a good book.) Is it my fault that Philip Levine only wrote one good poem, then endless variations on the same? Why blame me that Mark Strand, that W.S. Merwin, became more insipid with each succesive book? That Ashbery's been phoning it in since who knows when? Is it my fault that Jorie Graham is so pretentious? I've tried to read her many times. There really isn't but one aesthetic. Otherwise couldn't each poem have its own private aesthetic, according to which it was brilliant by definition?

I've been a little bit of a perdonavidas lately. I won't apologize for that, because the perdonavidas does not apologize.

***

Spain calls to me. New York calls to me.

4 comentarios:

Robert dijo...

I think a poem automatically creates some of its own ground rules by presenting itself as a compelling piece of art. That is to say, we inherently and instinctively are convinced of the "rightness" of the work, no matter how different from other works that feel "right". But this "rightness" is acheived, usually, through common aesthetic principles: the principles of poetry, that when execued well cause us instinctively to believe in the work, no matter how much it differs from our previous experience of other art.

Greg dijo...

there isn't realy but one aesthetic. for each one of us. but since we each have our own, there's the factor. there's a fundamentalist approach to your thought process that I find difficult to believe you would accept in foreign policy or religion.

Jonathan dijo...

My point is that different "aesthetics" are comparable, that they aren't these separate monads within which everything is valid. So I can ultimately judge two poems against each other without having to make allowances for their different monads. I don't really believe each person has his or her own aesthetic! I also believe that when someone makes an aesthetic judgment, they are also claiming that this judgment has validity for other people too. That old Kantian idea.

Mike H dijo...

"common aesthetic principles" seems like it would give say one group the power to put another group in its place. The way poetry might get called "experimental" or "post-avant", thus less pallatable to a common audience. Is that really what a poem does, try to achieve "rightness"? Am I being hasty? Anyway the least interesting poetry I can imagine is poetry that operates from "common aesthetic principles".