13 jun. 2011

Gnosticism: Bloom and Duncan

I wonder why Harold Bloom never got behind Duncan. They have that common interest in gnosticism. Peter O'Leary in his book on Duncan, which I plan on getting and reading very soon, quotes Bloom, but I don't know anyone else who's brought them together.

I guess the obvious reason is the Bloom is East-coast academic and only thinks Eastern academic US poets deriving from a particular school or schools are worth while. So Elizabeth Bishop and Asbhery, yes; Creeley and Duncan, no. Duncan would have been a more natural choice than Ashbery, even, but Ashbery and Ammons, he could connect with Stevens and Emerson more easily.

10 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

Did Bloom ever approve of, or express interest in, anyone else's take on Gnosticism? I admit I haven't read much Bloom, but my impression was that his Gnosticism was a solitary pursuit.

Jonathan dijo...

Yes, with Yeats for example. But you're right that it's mostly solitary.

John dijo...

Bloom was deeply afflicted with the anxiety of influence. You can find a number of his riffs in poets he dismisses or ignores, including Duncan on "strength" ("strong sentences"), and also Oppen on Orpheus, and Eshleman on the brutal battle with the precursor (in his case, Vallejo).

Joseph Hutchison dijo...

How does Ammons—born and raised in rural North Carolina and engaged in teaching most of his adult life in Ithaca (upstate/western NY, closer to Toronto than NYC)—qualify as "east coast"?

Jonathan dijo...

You'll notice that I called Bloom "East-Coast" but the poets he championed only "Eastern." Not to be too nit-picky here, but since your objection to my phrasing was nitpicking, it is only fair to point that out. And what West Coasters or midwesterners are part of Bloom's canon? I cannot think of one. It was all Bishop, Ashbery, Ammons, Emerson. If Nevada is the West than the finger-lakes regions certainly qualifies as the East.

John dijo...

Hart Crane. From Ohio. Not historically considered "Eastern." Though, if I remember right, Crane headed East in adulthood.

Vance Maverick dijo...

From Ohio, but identified with New York -- his big piece is The Bridge.

John dijo...

Of course, The Bridge -- yes, he headed east!

But -- Crane was not academic; neither was Whitman, nor Dickinson, nor Stevens, all of whom Bloom champions.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Yeah, "academic" isn't the right litmus test. But it's a gesture in the right direction, expressing a sense (which I share) that Bloom has been interested in a particular team or faction of contemporary poets. (We classify the classics by different affinities. None of Bloom's contemporary canon resembles Blake, for instance, though they probably all admire him.)

John dijo...

Does any contemporary writer resemble Blake?

I like Ginsberg -- sometimes a lot -- but his claiming of Blake's mantle always embarrasses me. He claimed status as a visionary poet because he heard Blake's voice one afternoon. Uh, OK. What did Blake say to you? Anything . . . visionary?

Interesting question about what constitutes contemporaneity. I was born about a year before Frank O'Hara died; one of my favorite poets. Are we contemporaries? Bloom was born a year or two before Crane died. My understanding is that Bloom considered Crane a contemporary; and when I started studying poetry seriously, about 1982, O'Hara felt like one to me.

That said, I agree, Vance. Since Crane, Bloom's choices have been of a particular team, and it's interesting that the most vatic poets -- the point of Jonathan's post! -- like Olson and Duncan -- haven't interested Bloom.