Friday, October 28, 2005

My feelings about a particular kind of book:

Naivete is fine; I have been known to call myself naive, in an attempt to preempt other people calling me naive first. You can't call yourself humble either, or a liar.

But naivete plus didacticism? It doesn't matter how many neo-Boschian gel filters you plaster to my eyes-- I still want to know you know you don't know some things.

If you don't want to question your assumptions, hide them better.

Get as ethical as you want, it's still tourism.


Reading Cole Swensen's 125-poem metonym The Book of a Hundred Hands. Astounding, some are:

As what will not relent: The felting delta mapped in the mind

with its boundless arboretum of neural withins:
the witness: to insist it
is equally infinite out there in its fingers
a port city in a blizzard.

Great pun/image--"felting deltas"--in the first line. Very much do I admire Swensen's relentless push to give graspable qualities to everything immaterial in life: language, thought, desire. Who doesn't like materialism, even if only as a break from the vagaries of everything you already know we know you know? But I've already bumped into the same poem more than a couple of times, and I'm wondering if I won't feel exhausted by the time I get to the end. The deeply tranquil, occasionaly mournful, meditative tone of the poems, although good at inducing in me a feeling of reverence might make me long, after page 125, for a little ir-reverence in the form of a Kevin Davies or his like. But an enjoyable book so far.


If you're looking for the illustrated Adorno, or theory with more vitality, Alexander Kluge's your guy. Reading Case Histories right now, and I'm looking forward to picking up The Devil's Blindspot when it comes out in paperback.


1 comment:

Craig Morgan Teicher said...

I love Swensen's work--Goest blows my mind--but this new book seems too vague. The images don't really come together enough. Maybe too many non-sequeters. But I've loved her newest poems about gardens that I've been seeing in magazines.