9 feb. 2009

There's also the idea that there's only a certain amount of avant-garde to be had (in the national strategic avant-garde reserve?). Once that's used up, poof, everything else is mere repetition. People who believe this also subscribe to Bloom's theory that a few strong poets around 1800 sucked all the oxygen out of the air once and for all, leaving all subsequent poets to a state of fretting anxiety for the next 209 years. In truth, the Language Poets do not really resemble Stein very much, any more than Ashbery is simply Stevens who is Emerson who is Wordsworth. Bolaño is conscious that Kerouac came first, that's part of what he's examining in his novel.

Avant-garde poets aren't really allowed to have influences, after all, that means that what they are doing "isn't really new."

People still have hysterical reactions to flarf. I find the fever, end of Western civilization, pitch of those reactions extremely revelatory. I'd understand it from Jacques Barzun, maybe, but most people attacking it suffer from the narcissism of small differences. They have some other, also satirical and also quasi-avant-garde schtick they want to promote. They hate flarf because they are close to it, not because they are far from it.

17 comentarios:

Maryrose Larkin dijo...

I think what is saddest about these scenarios is how the thrust of the criticism is to blunt possibility.

Jordan dijo...

But after all, what comes up in these reactions again and again is a sense that flarf intends to erase all other possibilities.

It is a projection, an attribution of the reactors' own wishes, but they're not entirely wrong to see flarf as a response to the dull death wishes of a hundred years of vapid, narcissistic dust collectors. That the response happens to be love will go unnoticed -- can't force anyone to accept therapy, no matter how much they patently need it.

Jonathan dijo...

You couldn't eliminate the vapid narcissistic dust collectors even if you wanted to. The best you can do is expose them for what they are.

TT dijo...

I have tried to be very specific and name names when I've been compelled to make some sort of assessment of others. And maybe even re-assess my own practice. So in that spirit, let me say that my own vapidly hysterical reactions to flarf over the years have probably been due to my failure to promote my own quasi-avant-garde schtick and non-acceptance of therapy. Luckily my dust collection can't be eliminated. Perhaps exposed. Which might help promote it. And then I can erase all other possibilities? (help . . .)

Jonathan dijo...

We all have dust to be cleared out. It's more a matter of recognizing that it's there.

TT dijo...

I guess I should figure out how to upload a sad clown painting to your comment section Jonathan, to thank you for the tough love?

Anyway, if I ever get the time to do another Fascicle, I'm thinking I should do some kind of essay that is largely a juxtaposition where I set side by side relevant paragraphs from Thomas Basboll's largely laudatory writing on flarf, emotion, and poetic composition (which is really probably my favorite contemporary critical writing) with paragraphs from Dale's critiques. And then maybe just with some framing text from myself (maybe along the lines of Zuk's early essay on Henry Adams' development that is mostly quotes from Adams).

Jonathan dijo...

Kind of like "teaching the controversy"? That could work.

TT dijo...

I guess along those lines, though I don't know if there's been a contention made between Thomas and Dale in particular, largely because they seem to be contextualizing aspects of flarf that don't necessarily instantly rub against one another. Actually, I haven't seen much response yet, flarf-associated or otherwise, to Thomas' great writing on that subject. But I think Thomas and Dale could possibly shed light on one another, especially as I think it would be accurate to say both of them would situate themselves in something like a Poundian lineage. Almost as though their approaches to flarf illuminate how a Poundian critical practice can splay itself. Anyway, hopefully it would result in something more useful than tagging available positions concerning flarf (pro, con, eh or otherwise) to be the result of some kind of psychological disturbance.

Jordan dijo...

Hi Tony. I hope my prose (and its absence of calls for total capital-I Intolerance) won't scare you here.

Forgive me a moment of less than complete charity toward our poetic heritage. My comments are not a referendum on your or anyone's existence, or for that matter on the glorious poetic past of this crazy, lovable nation.

TT dijo...

Jordan,

Eeeek!

Ok, I was mostly confused as to who was under discussion up above and in Jonathan's post, as Ashberyian pronouns seemed to be proliferating in every direction, refusing to attach themselves to any of our bright, shiny faces. This is starting to feel ritualistic. Which means I'm enjoying it more and more. Though I don't get the Intolerance reference. But that's ok. I like my essay idea. Sometimes, this is all so strange to me, like: am I becoming a concern troll? I like to think that I (like everyone but the people I don't like) take poetry and how people talk about poetry seriously enough to jump into the ring/jump rope/jump off of bridges over it. But then things get tangled and it's like 2005 all over again (just like it was in 2007). As the first comments of this thread unfolded, I began to literally have no idea who or what exactly was being discussed/diagnosed. And now I don't know the Intolerance reference. For some reason, my memory is flashing up from a couple of years ago when there was an article written about a certain poet/cartoonist, and there was a quote in that article that said cartoonist/poet was "culling the litter" with his parodies and bludgeonings, and someone (I _think_ it was a flarfist) compared that somewhat improbably to the holocaust, I think. But then now there's talk about eliminating vapid dust collectors. Not to say that is a violent statement, but I am curious. Are we (big we, all of us lovable poets and bloggers) the vapid dust collectors that need to be exposed, or just certain of us? (Not a rhetorical question.) I brought up your and JClo's masterly comments and retorts at Dale's blog, and it's a masterly quality I do admire because I don't think it is within my capacity -- you guys are really good at it. Sincerely. Others try to replicate it, I think, and it is awkward. You can see the effort. But you all never let them see you sweat. I feel a kinship with Henry Gould when he makes a perhaps cranky comment one night, and then comes back the next day to apologize for it, rethinking it. I *feel* that move. I could walk into a debate with that sensibility and feel like we might get somewhere new, even if the somewhere new is a certain clarity regarding the difference involved. The masterly sensibility approached, though, and I've got to at least start off with some ironic comment to put myself at a remove (eek). Don't feel like I should even fool myself that there's some unknown coordinate we can talk each other to. But I could be wrong and have missed the times the seemingly masterly folks come back from the fog of chatter and say, you know, well hell, wasn't I a bit of a screwball yesterday. Or, you know, hey, I hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks. But now this might be edging towards the personal, and I don't want to start projecting psychological motivations on the masterly because the only people who project psychological motivations on others are those sort of narcissistic freaks who never get enough attention for their precious novelties and begin lashing out and assigning motivations for those more successful than they are, because they are so close to that success but can't quite touch it. Wait. Eeek.

Well, I just kind of think there are all these positions and rhetorics prepared for us. And most of us probably desire a better way to communicate about these things we care deeply about, but these prearranged positions and stances are working against that.

TT

Jonathan dijo...

So what's your point? In 100 words or less?

TT dijo...

Well, I just kind of think there are all these positions and rhetorics prepared for us. And most of us probably desire a better way to communicate about these things we care deeply about, but these prearranged positions and stances are working against that.

Ryan dijo...

Somewhat unrelated but...why not steal from flarf and move on?

Jonathan dijo...

Your "pre-arranged stance" is my "learning from my mistakes." You learn who is an interlocutor who argues in good faith, and who isn't. I'll take ownership of my rhetorical style. I don't see it as something prepared in advance for me.

That said, I've never had a problem with Totem & Taboo. I thought you were asking who I was referring to in my original post, and it wasn't you. I'd be glad to name the axis of evil back channel.

TT dijo...

It's a good point on ownership, but I do still believe they are kind of waiting there for us. Not necessarily bad, if they help. I've just started writing in this manner right here lately because this more academic rhetoric had just sucked up everything else and I was immensely separate from what I was writing (and not even in the good way) and the tenor of my thoughts was gone. I have to own up to the rhetoric and positions I utilize. But I don't think I invented them.

I suppose I could accurately peg the axis from here: Tony Hoagland, Claudia Rankine, & Arthur Sze. Am I right?!

So this idea of position/rhetoric and whether those we choose/conjure/invent keep us from doing anything other than basically declaring our allegiances, over and over again. That's I guess my main thing. It just feels like we're pretending to make critical arguments when we're just saying: I pick this side, now give me a minute to come up with a new reason that grants me some kind of clemency. Which is depressing.

But I don't *feel* like Dale is doing that, though it seems that that is the constant retort to him; Kent and John, I don't know, maybe they are, but they make good cases regardless I suppose. Arthur Sze however, he's just ornery. Jesus, there I go again.

I guess it is disheartening when people pretend they're impartial umpires, and the games just always end up 100 - 0, every time. Actually, I usually care less, to be honest. But recently, it bugs me. Probably won't care again soon.

Jordan dijo...

Tony,

Your thoughtful and balanced remarks on flarf over the years have helped me articulate what I like about flarf, as well as what I don't always understand or gravitate towards in it. I don't remember you arguing at any point from we-they concerns, or from feelings of exclusion. Neither can I recall a single time when you credited others with your thoughts or actions. I'm grateful to you for that. (I do remember you arguing. Me too.)

Jonathan used the word "hysterical"; I would have said "anxious." Fight and flight are alive and well, apparently.

Hope you and yours are well,
Jordan

Jonathan dijo...

On that high note, I'm closing comments on this post.