Sunday, April 30, 2006


JH: Is this ("Prose answers, but poetry doesn't") because poetry is closer to language as it was first formed? There's a lot of mythology ("mythology" meant non-pejoratively) out there about the origin of language, but there seems to be an agreement that the origin is not with us, nor its immediate environs. Is poetry (just) a gesture toward the origin of language? Often poetry is commentary on the origin of literature, or of writing (poetry or otherwise) in particular, which may be yet another gesture toward language. What are your thoughts on removes - Plato's ideas on art being a remove from nature which is a remove from the Ideal, and Hegel's ideas on removes of consciousness (self-consciousness from consciousness, and, I believe, various degrees of self-consciousness -- I don't know much about Hegel, but I recall that you've read quite a bit of him), for two examples? Is poetry a leap over the idea of removes - creation of a poem being an origin and thus a reflection or instance of the origin of language? If so, why would poetry be privileged above an utterance such as "Have a nice day"? Wouldn't poetry and "Have a nice day" both partake of the origin of language, though they are cluttered with historical removals and social codes? Poetry is exceptional as poetry, but when isolated as a mass of words, how then is it distinguishable from "Have a nice day"?

AHB: Yeah, Poetry is a gesture towards the origin of language. I get lost in removes, and in a way think they may get in the way. I mean, too much thought of how the bicycle works and not enough where it is going. Tho those are entwined, so I may just be excusing my lack of depth. In a sense, art is removed from nature, but in another sense, art is nature. Art has life and lives its ways, which are akin to but not the same as our lives. I've read Hegel, and the (weird) pleasure I've taken from him is as a leap over the idea of removes, altho in another sense his work absolutely is a remove, if remove means a distancing or separation. I read Hegel and hardly get it, but the work offers a similar pleasure to walking in the fog. I guess I walk the fog (not dog) as I effort to answer your queries. As Emerson says, all words were originally poems, excitement of a communicative discovery. “Have a nice day” can be a poem if someone (Captain Picard?) makes it so. if the words are uttered (written) as poetry, then they are poetry. (Not to enter any debate as to whether said poem is 'good'). Those words can be a sincere wish, a mindless gratuity, an ironic sneer, etc. poetry is intensity, but not just that. Lew Welch writes of wanting the same desperate intensity in his work as a yell he heard a tourguide yell at a child about to fall into a vat. But that's not to say the yell was a poem, just that its demand was essential. And poetry is that as of essences... I mean, this is a boggling question, really. Jeff Koons did a work, basically it was a Rose Parade float, a sickeningly cute cartoonish dog. In one sense at least it is indistinguishable from a Rose Parade float, even made from flowers. Koons' intent, however, is art, certainly it wasn't to make a mawkish float for a parade. There's something tricksy and perhaps overly hip here, but there's an adamant look present in the work. That look is what poetry does to language. Make sense?


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