26 sept. 2003

"The Enchanted Loom" by Paul Lake has been praised by the usual suspects. Cognitive science is being used to debunk the avant-garde, as in S. Pinker. Of course, the article gets Derrida wrong, quoting a passage from him about the iterability of signs and, later on, making Derrida's exact point for him in a different way. The prestige of science is used to tell us what kind of literature we ought to prefer. It simply doesn't follow. I prefer Descartes to Swift myself, so I was turned off right from the beginning. It made me realize Swift can be used as model of anti-intellectualism.

Of course, it is language poetry that uses the entire brain, not just "left brain" decoding. Why was Mallarmé obsessed with rhythm? Does Gertrude really not care about the meaning of the words she uses in Tender Buttons? Has the author of this article ever read Clark Coolidge? Raymond Roussel? Paul Celan? Góngora? Borges? What profound ignorance!

I'd love to see a brain scan of myself reading an avant-garde text: I bet it would kick the butt of a brain scan of me grooving to Richard Wilbur.

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One of those "man on the street" interviews yesterday, as I was walking down Mass. Ave in Lawrence. "What are you reading?" Of course, I said "The Best American Poetry, 2002."

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