Saturday, July 08, 2006


JH: Very well-put! I don't mind tardy responses, as they're worth the wait. Speaking of collaborations, Anny Ballardini's comments in our comments field about Van Gogh possibly showing Gauguin something that might escape common sense raises the topic of common sense and poetry / art. As to poetry, does common sense play a large part? Does it in yours? In mine, the common sense is the common store of Western literature I share with most of my readers. Anny's comments also lead me to speculate on the non-literary behavior of the poet (and whether any behavior of a poet is non-literary). A lot of a poet's personal experience (this includes reading and writing) does not appear in the poetry. There's more experience lived than poetry written in a poet's life. Why do certain experiences make it into a poem, and other's don't? Why is a poet, or indeed anyone, interested in a certain thing more than another? Does this spur to interest come from the same place as poetry does - i.e, from outside? And, in speaking of the poet, is interest part of the poetic? What can be said about interest in considering procedures whereby the material comes from outside the poet's experience (by this I mean typically autobiographical experience; I realize that the materials for selection and combination are philosophically the poet's experience)? I'd say that the poet's interest lies in the choice of procedure rather than the specific content of the poem, and in choosing to write a poem procedurally. Does interest shift in the writing of a poem, first in the topic / procedure, then, in the case of non-procedural poems, from word to word and line to line and stanza to stanza? Is this a way of escaping the prosaic, this shifting of interest? It may also underscore the uncertainty of human thought, of the suspicion that nothing is finally final, which I think is part of the poetic. Often this interest shifts itself right out of the writing of the poem, causing the poem to be abandoned, temporarily or otherwise; what is to be said about this? The poetic as it appears in a frame of time does not always coincide with a particular poem. When the poem cannot shift and remain the same poem, the poem must come to a stop. One can go on writing it, though. Then you have literature masqing as a poem within the poem.

AHB: I should just say I dunno and be done, but where's the mystique in that? Just kidding. You tend to place tacks on the road in front of my rollicking bicycle: a lot of the ideas you throw out are ones I've never considered. Thus I flail. I don't know why certain experiences appear in one's work, while many others don't. Let me think... You are right that procedure is key. Such of my reading that casts a particular narrative can find its way into my work. Like lately, having read a number of books about climbing Mt Everest (a thing I would ne'er do in this life, thanks), I have written poems out of that. The narratives allow a procedural step. Flarf interests me because it is a conscious move toward areas of concern that one mighn't allow or acknowledge. Perhaps the bad in taste, perhaps the inarticulate. When I write with the flarf hat on—it is bright green, btw—I look for oddity, surprise, misadventure. I think readership has gotten caught up on a superficial aspect, and do not acknowledge the power of the inarticulate. I speak of the chat room sort of rage and wonder that flowers in flarf. The inarticulateness of that rage and wonder is poetic. But I don't mean to isolate on flarf. Poetry isn't common sense at all, it is the uncommonest sense. Van Gogh's ear is an emblem of vast, barely expressed intensities, Starry Night versus D'ou Venons nous. Except that it isn't a battle of eradication but what, together, comes after or from. Zat make sense? Paul and Vincent were poorly matched as personalities, yet there was some sort of making between them. An artistic formulation. Their clash escaped prosaic. I lean towards a hoky fantasticalness, writing of Fu Manchu and Tarzan and a frisky Lenin. Proust chose class strictures, but made them fantastical. Woolf went into sex and class. Etc etc. I think you're onto it, with the idea of shiftiness. Artists look for territories where their feet don't stick to the ground. When the feet stop moving, that's when adventure loses out, and the determined and prosaic lives on. So we write to surprise ourselves, keep the engine running.


At 11:47 PM, Blogger Anny Ballardini said...

Wonderful questions and/or statements:
Common sense as store of Western literature, could common sense – and by following Jh’s thought – (I am noticing that both times I wrote commons sense – i.e. the sense of the commons) be brought back to an accepted and common use we make of words? If I say for example: I put the glass on the window / instead of / on the table because I like the idea of calling the table : window, then I escape common sense as defined in this context.
Why do certain experiences make it into a poem, and other's don't?
This question brings to an answer addressed to the choice behind the writing of poetry. Which elements are made available to the poet when writing? Besides basic human instincts made sublime or discarded, transformed into different further refinement, see psychological, historical, behavioral, commonly accepted topics as literary (love, death, observation of reality/ unreal projections _dreams), and the negation of the same or the extreme exaltation of some traits (AB in his choice of Flarf), what else can a poet write about? Are there any topics common science has not address and that belong to the human realm or better, that can be described with common words?
Interesting the shifting of interest that mirrors the shifting of interest naturally experienced by man, due to the need, rather than the curiosity of the I, to displace the I’s mind onto different spheres. _Impossible concentration_ the Doors if I remember right. Need, does poetry stem out of need? Personal and social? Or is it a naturally given talent (anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of astrology would underline the latter), and if yes, how can there be so many poets nowadays, how can you _teach_ creative writing, for example, if your students are not naturally talented?
The same could apply to all disciplines. Is there a way to rule over choices made by teenagers without sliding into the structure of Huxley's Brave New World?


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