28 jun. 2007

Final Exam on Surrealism in American Poetry

Is "surrealism" a style? A method? A movement? A tone?

"We sailed the Indian Ocean for a dime."

Is that surrealism? Why do people call things surrealist that ain't?

"Who are the great poets of our time, and what are their names?"

When did having a book cover with a Magritte painting become the cliché that it now is? A Joseph Cornell box?

Is Russell Edson a surrealist? Why or why not? Why is Max Jacob a more influential model than André Breton?

What was surrealism? What wasn't it? When did it stop being what is was or wasn't?

Is Merwin a surrealist? Spicer? Wright? Ashbery? Lorca? Why is "surrealism" so boring? Why didn't Roland Barthes like it?

(Ron Padgett is not a surrealist.)

Is this a surrealist poem? Explain.

6 comentarios:

John dijo...

The unconscious by definition can't be written.

"What we can't speak of, we must pass over in silence."

Ludwig's right -- if your only mode of sound-making is verbal.

Aaooohhhwoooooo, $%&*!@~



Jonathan dijo...

Well... no. If there is such a thing as the unconscious mind, it will be present in writing as well as anywhere else. For example, a phrase pops into the poet's head, "I sailed the Indian Ocean for a dime." He doesn't necessarily know what it means or where it comes from. It comes, quite literally, from a part of the mind that is not conscious. A second before the phrase was not there, then it was! It doesn't make sense to say that the poet "intends" a particular meaning with this phrase, either. There is no "conscious meaning." It would be impossible to write anything with only "consciousness" because consciousness itself is not the source. It is the place where unconscious ideas get noticed.

John dijo...

I agree -- consciousness is limited. So, to that extent, the unconscious is always the one doing the writing, to at least some degree.

But once the dimely Indian Ocean sail-trip "comes from" the unconscious, it is no longer wholly unconscious either. It couldn't be written until it "came from."

All language is icebergian. And Rube Goldbergian.

Andrew Shields dijo...

Jeez, you're on a roll: "consciousness itself is not the source. It is the place where unconscious ideas get noticed." Another great Mayhewism.

Or is it Mayhewian? Mayhewbergian?

michael dijo...

"Surrealism" was a moment...



Jesse Crockett dijo...

Just give me an A.