Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Down in LA over the weekend, with Anna and Noah, I caught the Courbet landscape show at the Getty's hyper-classical mountaintop purgatory. So much of the energy in those paintings--that wind which seems to pick you up and plant you inside the painting--comes from the decisive placement here and there of patches where the grain of the canvas shows through. What's that in poetry? Grammar, letters, stuttering.


Two from Noah:

"Stop talking to mommy. It hurts my ears."

And then, playing with his imaginary watch (a rubber band), he says , "I need a bandaid on it."
He should be grateful, I tell him. Some of us need a tourniquet.


One of the great pleasures of Blog-o-ville has been watching Josh think through and work out his dissertation--starting with what seemed, originally, a difficult and super-specific idea, and turning it into something that has been invaluable to me in understanding the current moment in N. American poetry and its antecedents--a moment that, with its confluence of coasts west, east and internal, romanticism and modernism, visionary-poetry and deconstruction, seems to find its analogue in European philosophy's turn toward ethics, politics and the theological. I haven't worked out what this means exactly--or how I feel about affirmation, construction or mythology in an age that seems to need the destructive as much as any, even if construction and destruction, in the best poets, seem two side-effects of the same motion. I see this in Lisa Robertson, in Josh's own poems, in Juliana Spahr, in Joshua Clover, in Anne Boyer and, in general, in much but not all of the poetry that moves me these days, moves me out of days and out of work, too. Less of a turn, then, than an addition to the continuing negational-critical project of things like Flarf.

Lately, I've been trying to learn to avoid a general impatience with groundwork and a general desire to overreach, to get to The Point--so I'll admit, for now, that my sense of all the history here is perhaps not clear enough for me to really map out what's happening. Is this just an extension of Modernist mythography? My suspicion is that the answer is no, but I'm still a ways off from that no.

I'll save my overreaching for the poems, where it's fun and where nobody (well, most body) cares.


What's up with Charles Valle's editor's note in the new Fence? It's going to take more than name-checking (or, perhaps, mike-checking) Althusser and Benedict Anderson to make the last cover into an attempt to "question the reproduction of the relations of production." I didn't see any question there at all. Just a dull descriptive sentence--a crass attempt to link Fence to some vaguely edgy indie-rock eroticism, in hopes that the readers of Nylon might pull it off the shelf and find it impossible to relinquish. Any stoner with a pair of scissors and a gluestick could do better. Nevertheless, I always find good reading in Fence.

32 years old today. Huh.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Thanks for your thoughts and kind words, Jasper. And happy birthday!