Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tabernacle, Tabernacle, Preach

Paranoia, blog rage, sanctimony. Welcome to the non-event. Please wear your (an)aesthetic identification badge at all times.

I take Jane's point, re: Foetry, about the transposition of real political anxieties, and the powerlessness that results therefrom, into the thinkable realm of poetics. This is what happens with Ron, he confuses forces and flows and market conditions with people. There's no conspiracy here. There's five billion shooters on the grassy knoll, dude. It's not like J.D. McClatchy and who-not are sitting in smoke-filled backrooms plotting their takeover of the poetry world. It's a lot of people, whom the big pictures eludes, making decisions that are for the most part based on what they think is right, and the rest of the time on their own petty needs and allegiances. Talk of a "School of Quietude" or a "Gang of Eight" is just bullshit; it hypostasizes into concrete personages and institutions things that are trans-personal and trans-institutional.

At one point, no doubt, the agonistic model--reader as enemy--of poetry writing which Ron puts forward was necessary, and it produced some great poetry, great criticism. But now it just seems like post-traumatic stress disorder; the enemy is no longer there, the last time there was an object of critique as Ron defines it was probably twenty years ago. Ron and the other poets associated with "Language" have become a dominant force in the poetry world, and so it's foolish for Ron to act as if he's still marginal. Yes, the big publishers don't, for the most part, publish their books. But in terms of cultural capital--well, which poets do you think critics are, for the most part, paying attention to. I won't say more, because I think Juliana Spahr, in her powerful piece "Spiderwasp, or literary criticism" has already made an excellent case for the obsolescence of this conflict-oriented model of thinking. As much as Tony Tost wants to revive it, and as much as it seems to produce good poetry in his case--to my mind it's time to move on. Some other kind of beast is emerging and that's where I want to look.

To Seth Abramson: most bloggers I know don't take Ron all that seriously. In fact, I only read him to make sure I'm still alive. Annoyance is one of the crucial vital signs. If you think he's the oracle at Delphi, you've gotten the wrong impression. It's not like people are saying to themselves, "oh well, Ron hasn't mentioned anything about Lara Glenum's The Hounds of No, so it must not be very good." Jim Behrle speaks for many of us, I think, with his tender and affectionate fuck-you to the kind of egoic, oracular utterances you find on Ron's blog. It's worth noting that, as far I can recall, and I'm certainly not a constant reader, this is the only time Ron has ever responded to another blogger directly. Most of the time, he's talking into dead air, despite the hundreds of links on his page. Elsewhere, you find dialogue. In Ronland there's just dialectic against a not-there. (Caveat: I have deep respect for much of Ron's work--his criticism and his poetry--but I also think he's endlessly wrong-headed in his blog.

To Franz Wright: whatever. The best response to people like that is the phrase formerly known as silence. Engaging with that kind of shit reifies its inital terms, and gives it power. There's no answer, because it's the wrong question.

To Gabe: I love you like a brother, man. But I think Franz Wright probably has plenty of insecurity and shame on his own end. He obviously doesn't need your help feeling worthless. And again--let's direct all of this wasted energy somewhere else. I propose a Flarf e-mail war on the Pentagon and the White House. Paging Brian Stefans. . .


Tony said...

Hey Jasper,

Right on, right on.

I agree with everything you say here. (Well, with one tiny exception.)

All the best,

Laura Carter said...

Ron's recent interview in Double Room gives a pretty good indication of where his poetics are at---he touches on Jakobson and such, expresses his non-interest in the fictive realm, which I suspect cuts out a lot of poetry I really like (or at least encourages me to question exactly how abrupt of a stop cuts it off from language's other functions). Any thoughts? I'd love to hear more... Best.