Friday, June 10, 2005

Since Josh and Jordan are making nice, I thought now as good a time as any to quickly remark on what a compelling, and yes smart, but more importantly, brave book Fourier Series is. It's a poem that's afraid of neither its ambitions for poetry and theory and human thoughtwork, nor its Whitmanic utopian hopefulness for the promises inherent in the American west. Even LA, even Vegas! And this is precisely why the book is good. Now I don't want to make it seem like Josh has wandered into a Haight-Ashbury wormhole--there's as much critical energy here as there is posited utopian vision, as much Hunter S. Thompson as there is Ronald Johnson or Hart Crane. But there's a certain fearlessness here about American history--read: slavery, genocide, war, etc.--that I suspect will strike some as a violation of poetic table etiquette. He's just not melancholy enough:

you shouldn't doubt
my sincerity

I speak for the mukluked tribe
who found this iceplanet's
rich invitations

engraved on the skin
of white whales

Is he allowed to say that? Isn't he from the suburbs of Jersey, like Jewish or something? And to call himself "sincere" at the same time, instead of distancing himself with a joke or something, as if the humorous word "mukluk" were some kind of apology? The nerve! Yes, the nerve, the one that, perhaps more poets should strike, whether we like it or not. It's good to see a poet as unafraid of identity politics as he is, and it's good also to see someone as unafraid of Modernism with all its fascist minefields, someone who offers not only critique but also something to come after the critique, even if it's a tentative, provisional, and ultimately indeterminate vision (phew!). I guess what I mean is--he's not afraid of the future. And he does all this in the context of language-play, and an insistence on the immanent, erotic pleasures both within and without the poem. Occasionally, these moments of play, of punning, of silliness that are the seriousness of the poem, do fall flat, but that's all of a piece with the poem's overall bravery.

1 comment:

Jordan said...

Got to get a copy of Fourier Series.