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Perloff speaks....again



Is it me or does Perloff have an exquisite talent for saying nothing?

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Tere
Apr/30/2012, 11:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


hey Tere,

Gotta say I'm more of a Perloff fan than not. I notice she's in agreement with Vendler re: the Rita Dove anthology--Poor Rita, I almost feel sorry for her.

I appreciate her summing up of what constitutes a successful poem by current standards:

"1) irregular lines of free verse, with little or no emphasis on the construction of the line itself or on what the Russian Formalists called “the word as such”; 2) prose syntax with lots of prepositional and parenthetical phrases, laced with graphic imagery or even extravagant metaphor (the sign of “poeticity”); 3) the expression of a profound thought or small epiphany, usually based on a particular memory, designating the lyric speaker as a particularly sensitive person who really feels the pain, whether of our imperialist wars in the Middle East or of late capitalism or of some personal tragedy such as the death of a loved one."

and I'm disquieted by her summation of the alternative:

"Night thoughts, death thoughts? What Yeats called the Spiritus Mundi becomes, for Gizzi and his contemporaries, a vast cybergalaxy of words, phrases, and images on which the lyric poet, consciously or not, has learned to draw.

“Echo,” as Dworkin puts it:

    becomes a model of Oulipean ingenuity: continuing to communicate in her restricted state with far more personal purpose than her earlier gossiping, turning constraint to her advantage, appropriating other’s language to her own ends, ‘making do’ as a verbal bricoleuse.

Increasingly, the “true voice of feeling” is the one you discover with an inspired, if sometimes accidental click."

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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Feeling grumpy about all academic double-speak I'm just going to say: I know what I like.
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


If anyone is interested in following the debate Perloff's article engendered, here are a few links:

The Gray Area: An Open Letter to Marjorie Perloff by Matvei Yankelevich:

[url][sign in to see URL]

A Response to Matvei Yankelevich by Marjorie Perloff:

[url][sign in to see URL]
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Opposing Terms: A Symposium on the Poetic Limits of Binary Thinking

Marjorie Perloff’s essay “Poetry on the Brink” in the May/June 2012 issue rekindled conversation about innovation and canonization in contemporary poetry. To continue and extend the discussion, we cast a wide net and invited 18 poets to address the following question: what is the most significant, troubling, relevant, recalcitrant, misunderstood, or egregious set of opposing terms in discussions about poetics today, and, by extension, what are the limits of binary thinking about poetry? Their responses range from whimsy to diatribe, with meditation, appraisal, tangent, touchstone, anecdote, drollery, confection, wit, and argument in between.


18 essays in response to Perloff's original riff for anyone with the time and inclination to pursue them, or you can read one or two:

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Dec/12/2012, 4:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Okay. Where to start? And why?

A week ago last Tuesday I underwent yet more surgery, my third operation in exactly, to the day, 11 months. Second surgery left a rupture in abdominal muscles, a herniated tear about 6 or so inches across. Intestines bulging out. Procedure was laporascopic, mesh now in place to keep bowels were they are supposed to be, plus a little sewing done on the muscles themselves. Pain was bad enough. Unable even to sit up without pulling myself forward. Pain still around but a cough produces less hurt than discomfort. So I feel like I'm starting up again. Walking some, taking measure of things.

It has been my habit for as long as I can remember to periodically check in, so to speak. To take a measure of what is au currant on the American poetry scene. One of these days I'm going to be surprised, find something worth finding on the scene, find something said about poetry and poetics that excites me, that pulls on my gut as much as can a surgical procedure.

With time spent recuperatively, I've gone back and reread the Perloff article, read the Yankelevich essay, read in full all 18 responses to the original article. No cheating, no skimming. To the point, I find it all miserable, mediocre, specious. I would find it all boring except that so much tripe actually hurts my heart, pierces me in the middle, makes me incredibly sad. And worse. It all demoralizes me. Makes me question my own small belief system, one based on which I've said again and again no way, no pursuit, no activity can compare to the poet's way. I have a friend who teases me for my devotion to poetry. He pointedly wonders why I spend so much effort on something that is so irrelevant and pointless. Were I to send him a link to this thread, tell him to follow the further discussions linked to, he would justifiably ask his question again.

I'm not going to bother with a line item review of everything that has been said by the many contributors to the discussion. That I've taken the time to read what they have to say acquites me of any further responsibility. But two reflections come to mind that sum up my feeling response to it all.

~Perloff makes a point of calling up W.B. Yeats, attesting to that he is one of her great, long standing literary loves. I wonder if she has in mind the Yeats who said this:

"We have lit upon the gentle, sensitive mind
And lost the old nonchalance of the hand;
Whether we have chosen chisel, pen, or brush,
We are but critics, or but half-create,
Timid, tangled, empty and abashed,
Lacking the countenance of our friends."

Every time I check in, as I call it, I'm reminded of this verse. There's an old saying: He would worry gnats off a dead horse. That's also what these poetry thinkers bring to mind. Only, I would add: the more they worry those gnats the deader the horse (poetry) becomes.

~I love something a 19th C folklorist said about the charms and chants of Italian witches. "This is a curious experiment and worth studying. Take a passage from some famous poet; write it out in pure simple prose, doing full justice to its real meaning, and if it still actually thrills or moves as poetry, then it is of the first class. But if it has lost its glamour absolutely, it is second-rate or inferior; for the best cannot be made out of mere words varnished with associations, be they of thought or feeling.

"...Reading them and feeling them subjectively, I am often struck by the fact that in these witch traditions which I have gathered there is a wondrous poetry of thought, which far excels the efforts of many modern bards..."

Mind you, I acceded that not a single poet contributor to the BR discussion is likely to get what the folklorist was after when he made reference to a "wondrous poetry of thought." I'm sure they would each and variously find cultural, class, gender, racial, and conceptual exception with such a notion. Therein may precisely lie the problem. Limitation might be theirs not mine.
Dec/13/2012, 4:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Terreson et al,
I haven’t read the cited piece. I probably will at least scan it later on. But I read Terreson’s comments and the others. Reading Terreson and others I’m reminded of Hemingway’s attitude. Hemingway finished high school and then learned journalism and learned at the feet of Gertrude Stein and others. He didn’t have to sit through the college lectures and he didn’t have to write little essays explaining this poem or that piece of fiction. It’s my understanding that he had little patience for the critics. I don’t know if he read any criticism, but his aversion to critics is fairly well established.

Wallace Stevens went through some special college course but I’m not sure he finished. Garcia Marquez didn’t finish. I don’t know their attitude toward the critics. I have a friend, a college prof, who is a prolific writer of poetry. He shared with me that he’s not much into explication.

I’m reminded that T.S. Eliot, on the other hand, had a strong academic background. In his criticism he revived the reputation of John Donne. Which brings me to my point: It’s the critics, the scholars, who are largely responsible for keeping the flame going, who revive the reputations of dead writers and poets, who reassess their abilities and bring the good ones to the fore. Yes, in their bickering they can look like Republicans and Democrats trying to avoid the fiscal cliff, but they do serve a purpose. The individual poet/writer should probably only read as much as she/he can stomach. But to throw out the whole bunch is pretty much like throwing out the baby with the bath water.
 
More later. Possibly, after I do read the piece. Zak


quote:

Terreson wrote:

Okay. Where to start? And why?

A week ago last Tuesday I underwent yet more surgery, my third operation in exactly, to the day, 11 months. Second surgery left a rupture in abdominal muscles, a herniated tear about 6 or so inches across. Intestines bulging out. Procedure was laporascopic, mesh now in place to keep bowels were they are supposed to be, plus a little sewing done on the muscles themselves. Pain was bad enough. Unable even to sit up without pulling myself forward. Pain still around but a cough produces less hurt than discomfort. So I feel like I'm starting up again. Walking some, taking measure of things.

It has been my habit for as long as I can remember to periodically check in, so to speak. To take a measure of what is au currant on the American poetry scene. One of these days I'm going to be surprised, find something worth finding on the scene, find something said about poetry and poetics that excites me, that pulls on my gut as much as can a surgical procedure.

With time spent recuperatively, I've gone back and reread the Perloff article, read the Yankelevich essay, read in full all 18 responses to the original article. No cheating, no skimming. To the point, I find it all miserable, mediocre, specious. I would find it all boring except that so much tripe actually hurts my heart, pierces me in the middle, makes me incredibly sad. And worse. It all demoralizes me. Makes me question my own small belief system, one based on which I've said again and again no way, no pursuit, no activity can compare to the poet's way. I have a friend who teases me for my devotion to poetry. He pointedly wonders why I spend so much effort on something that is so irrelevant and pointless. Were I to send him a link to this thread, tell him to follow the further discussions linked to, he would justifiably ask his question again.

I'm not going to bother with a line item review of everything that has been said by the many contributors to the discussion. That I've taken the time to read what they have to say acquites me of any further responsibility. But two reflections come to mind that sum up my feeling response to it all.

~Perloff makes a point of calling up W.B. Yeats, attesting to that he is one of her great, long standing literary loves. I wonder if she has in mind the Yeats who said this:

"We have lit upon the gentle, sensitive mind
And lost the old nonchalance of the hand;
Whether we have chosen chisel, pen, or brush,
We are but critics, or but half-create,
Timid, tangled, empty and abashed,
Lacking the countenance of our friends."

Every time I check in, as I call it, I'm reminded of this verse. There's an old saying: He would worry gnats off a dead horse. That's also what these poetry thinkers bring to mind. Only, I would add: the more they worry those gnats the deader the horse (poetry) becomes.

~I love something a 19th C folklorist said about the charms and chants of Italian witches. "This is a curious experiment and worth studying. Take a passage from some famous poet; write it out in pure simple prose, doing full justice to its real meaning, and if it still actually thrills or moves as poetry, then it is of the first class. But if it has lost its glamour absolutely, it is second-rate or inferior; for the best cannot be made out of mere words varnished with associations, be they of thought or feeling.

"...Reading them and feeling them subjectively, I am often struck by the fact that in these witch traditions which I have gathered there is a wondrous poetry of thought, which far excels the efforts of many modern bards..."

Mind you, I acceded that not a single poet contributor to the BR discussion is likely to get what the folklorist was after when he made reference to a "wondrous poetry of thought." I'm sure they would each and variously find cultural, class, gender, racial, and conceptual exception with such a notion. Therein may precisely lie the problem. Limitation might be theirs not mine.



Dec/15/2012, 10:19 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


I for one cannot disagree with your point, Zak. Certainly I have done my share of poetry analyzing. And I've spent more time than many poets trying to figure out what makes poetry tick, even what makes poetry poetry and not some other species of literature. All in all my considered sense is that poetry is sui generis, in a class by itself. My considered sense too is that poetry, viewed in this way, is ahistorical, not subject to development, not something subject to the laws of evolution, not the product of dialectics. It simply is. And you know it when you see it, only, you know it with your whole body, your soma, not with your intellect. Yes. This is how poetry's case stands.

The problem I have with discussions such as what this thread links to is that it gets treated as if, in fact, it is a property of the intellect. My objection is really that simple. Not much more I can say.

You mention Eliot's rediscovery of Donne. With the essay in which Eliot brought forward a reconsidering of Donne, he was at pains to point to what made Donne worth the read. His famous phrase, dissociation of the sensibility, is what came of the reevaluation. For Eliot Donne was the last poet not subject to such a dissociation, what, it could be argued, is the product of too much civilization. That was what Eliot prized in Donne, that he could feel thinking, or, in my words, that he could feel-think. Rightly, I think. But I would argue that Donne was not the last to "think" with his senses. That whenever poetry is found, however rare the find may be, there is this same capacity for taking in all of experience with all of the senses. That is the thing. And that is why such discusssions as the Perloff incited symposium produces in me spleen.

Anyway, maybe Helen Vendler was right when she said critics do not, should not write for poets, but for readers only.

Tere
Dec/15/2012, 2:04 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Hey Tere,

I can't believe you read all 18 of the essays! I must admit I haven't read any of them and had thought I would read a few when I had some time.

~I love something a 19th C folklorist said about the charms and chants of Italian witches. "This is a curious experiment and worth studying. Take a passage from some famous poet; write it out in pure simple prose, doing full justice to its real meaning, and if it still actually thrills or moves as poetry, then it is of the first class. But if it has lost its glamour absolutely, it is second-rate or inferior; for the best cannot be made out of mere words varnished with associations, be they of thought or feeling.

I remember you discussing this idea before, but it's been a while and I had forgotten. Pleased to have my memory refreshed.

Hey Zak,

I agree with you about the wheat but often weary there is so much chaff to sort through to find it.
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oky. i read thru the ssay, the comments, and the lar thing. thanks for that kat/tere. that troll gould's comments were bang on about the easy summary that is perloff's essay.

but the one pt where i started liking the essay--

quote:

Whatever the poet’s ostensible subject—and here identity politics has produced a degree of variation, so that we have Latina poetry, Asian American poetry, queer poetry, the poetry of the disabled, and so on—the poems you will read in American Poetry Review or similar publications will, with rare exceptions, exhibit the following characteristics: 1) irregular lines of free verse, with little or no emphasis on the construction of the line itself or on what the Russian Formalists called “the word as such”; 2) prose syntax with lots of prepositional and parenthetical phrases, laced with graphic imagery or even extravagant metaphor (the sign of “poeticity”); 3) the expression of a profound thought or small epiphany, usually based on a particular memory, designating the lyric speaker as a particularly sensitive person who really feels the pain, whether of our imperialist wars in the Middle East or of late capitalism or of some personal tragedy such as the death of a loved one.



i do agree with the stuff above. as an ESL (?) poet struggling with language in a cultural vacuum, i have come up against a lot of this !@#$. most of (and here i am not being judgmental.) these "indian" writers haven't been to india. all they have is a precious, vacuous lyricism and "empathy." that's why (coming to fiction) we see goats near the kolkata airport in "Kiran Desai's Booker-winning novel tracks back and forth from the Himalayas to Manhattan. Just like the author, in fact. But rediscovering her Indian-ness was vital to her success, she tells Laura Barton." these people get a whiff of what t means to belong to one or the other cultural milieu, then goes back to their precious lyricism and !@#$ it over with empathetic wit.

now coming to the lar thing

quote:

For all these reasons, the binary opposition that you set up between Conservatism and Conceptualism needs to be re-examined, if not abandoned. Rita Dove's anthology and others of its kind (designed, it seems, more for high-school curriculums than for MFA degree candidates) are not solely or specifically antagonized by recent Conceptualist anthologies (Dworkin and Goldsmith's Against Expression, and Bergvall, Browne, Carmody, and Place's I'll Drown My Book). In fact, the poets that are critically engaged and/or antagonized in serious ways by Conceptualism are not to be found here but elsewhere: they are more likely to be the colleagues or students of Gizzi, Bernstein, and other authors of the more or less Modernist-inflected, disjunctive, materially-oriented poetry that you have championed.



this is all true. perloff does set up an opposition that fails to see the "essentialism" in her framing of conceptualism and blithely ssumes a revolution where it's more of the campy thing. perloff takes away something and gives us back something.

it's the giving us back something that worries me. how did she have the something ready in the first place. especially when it's peter gizzi. conceptualist. they make it sound like a revolution. there's no real engagement there. i found noah eli gordon's take better

quote:

But the artist in me courts difficulty, complexity, Keatsian uncertainty, and sides with the value and necessity of what Fanny Howe wonderfully labeled as both a poetics and an ethics: bewilderment. So, for example, as much as I admire the work within the the recent Norton anthology American Hybrid, I can’t help but count myself among those disappointed that it projected a resounding misnomer. When its name hit the poetry circuits, things were abuzz; here, at last, pseudo-canonical recognition for that monstrous amalgam, that liminal genre where the head stands erect with the ethics of the poet, while the heart beats the bloody syntax of prose into the body. We thought this was going to be a collection that unfettered poetry from the constraints of genre, that valued it as an epistemology, as a way of being, of seeing, of doing—the hybridity that would admit “taking one to know one” invariably leads to a breakdown of binaries. But we were wrong. This book was more or less a photograph of Donald Hall and Donald Allen shaking hands. That this makes it a useful teaching tool simultaneously negates its importance for me as an artist.



but this response summarizes what i really want to say after going thru the entire !@#$
this is !@#$ what i expect at least one poet to talk and it bugs me to no end that this has been supplanted by other measures--academic !@#$-ridden measures where perloff features, herself, as another happy tumor on poetry or something that goes by that name.
  
quote:

To the point, I find it all miserable, mediocre, specious. I would find it all boring except that so much tripe actually hurts my heart, pierces me in the middle, makes me incredibly sad. And worse. It all demoralizes me. Makes me question my own small belief system, one based on which I've said again and again no way, no pursuit, no activity can compare to the poet's way. I have a friend who teases me for my devotion to poetry. He pointedly wonders why I spend so much effort on something that is so irrelevant and pointless. Were I to send him a link to this thread, tell him to follow the further discussions linked to, he would justifiably ask his question again.






Last edited by arkava, Dec/19/2012, 7:15 am
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Arka, I can't remember how we came to know each other or where. But I'm not sure I've ever heard you get so expansive in your thoughts about poetry. I cannot tell you how delighted I am to read what you think. It is poets like you and exchanges such as this that gives me such pleasure. I've always said poets belong to a college, the same college, an unendowed college. I am not wrong.

What you say about writers who capitalize on some brief experience of India, without actually bothering to get to know the heart and viscera of your home, especially strikes me. I know what you mean. It is an experiential thing that speaks to, what?, to authenticity maybe. Or maybe to intellectual honesty or its lack. Only write what you know goes the saying. Only write what you know about from the inside out is how I would phrase the notion. It makes all the difference. It is what justifies the telling.

Your crit of Perloff and the shallowness of her thinking also strikes home. Personally I do not feel the scene needs yet another critic or commentator. It needs poets who drive their truths through my heart in Dracula-slaying fashion.

Anyway, with everything said and done I think this whole discussion about binary systems is not just stupid but a fabricated controversy. Not real. Has nothing to do with poetry. I don't know what the poetry scene is like where you live. I do hope it has more blood and smelly sweat than it has where I live.

Tere
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Terreson,

I agree that Eliot saw in Donne that he was able to "feel-think" but if I remember accurately, it was the scientific, material, aspect of awareness that had been left out by the romantics. They were too much into the "feeling" aspect of it, and had separated out the other part of the world. Eliot reached back to Donne to show how it should be brought back into poetry.

I did finally read the Perloff article and scanned some of the remarks below it, many of them silly. Also went to Wikipedia to read about Perloff. Seems like she's a scholar who takes the post-modernists, the experimental, poets seriously. It appears that she's trying to make sense of a lot of the experimental poetry that many of us simply can't understand fully. Not that she understands it fully.

Your own poetry is not unfathonable, almost unreadable in that extreme experimental way that defeats the less hardy readers, so not to worry. Not that you did worry. I think Arka and William Fairbrother, among others would fall more comfortably into that experimental, exploratory category. Also, not that your own poetry can't sometimes be very difficult to truly get at the nugget. But your poetry generally has a more visible structure. Perloff, it seems has been trying for many years to establish some of the main outlines of the poetry that has been developing in the experimental and avant garde. Many people don't really consider it to be poetry, so in that regard I do consider her efforts worthwhile. It's like many people not considering the new literary criticism from such people as Derrida to be worth much. I guess it's not so new any more.

Zak

ps -- Not to worry that you and Arka write in different ways; Hemingway and James Joyce were contemporaries, after all.

quote:

Terreson wrote:

That was what Eliot prized in Donne, that he could feel thinking, or, in my words, that he could feel-think. Rightly, I think. But I would argue that Donne was not the last to "think" with his senses. That whenever poetry is found, however rare the find may be, there is this same capacity for taking in all of experience with all of the senses.

Tere



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Terreson,

I agree that Eliot saw in Donne that he was able to "feel-think" but if I remember accurately, it was the scientific, material, aspect of awareness that had been left out by the romantics. They were too much into the "feeling" aspect of it, and had separated out the other part of the world. Eliot reached back to Donne to show how it should be brought back into poetry.

I did finally read the Perloff article and scanned some of the remarks below it, many of them silly. Also went to Wikipedia to read about Perloff. Seems like she's a scholar who takes the post-modernists, the experimental, poets seriously. It appears that she's trying to make sense of a lot of the experimental poetry that many of us simply can't understand fully. Not that she understands it fully.

Your own poetry is not unfathomable, almost unreadable in that extreme experimental way that defeats the less hardy readers, so not to worry. Not that you did worry. I think Arka and William Fairbrother, among others would fall more comfortably into that experimental, exploratory category. Also, not that your own poetry can't sometimes be very difficult to truly get at the nugget. But your poetry generally has a more visible structure. Perloff, it seems has been trying for many years to establish some of the main outlines of the poetry that has been developing in the experimental and avant garde. Many people don't really consider it to be poetry, so in that regard I do consider her efforts worthwhile. It's like many people not considering the new literary criticism from such people as Derrida to be worth much. I guess it's not so new any more.

Zak

ps -- Not to worry that you and Arka write in different ways; Hemingway and James Joyce were contemporaries, after all.

quote:

Terreson wrote:

That was what Eliot prized in Donne, that he could feel thinking, or, in my words, that he could feel-think. Rightly, I think. But I would argue that Donne was not the last to "think" with his senses. That whenever poetry is found, however rare the find may be, there is this same capacity for taking in all of experience with all of the senses.

Tere








Last edited by Zakzzz5, Dec/29/2012, 11:10 am
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I always enjoy reading your thoughts, Zak. When you post I know I'm about to encounter the dog nipping at the pant legs of the fool about to step off into thin air, his head too high in the heavens to see the ground immediately in front of him. My take on what Eliot said about Donne is slightly different, not that it much matters. He didn't just have the Romantics in mind. But all of the course of poetry since Donne. I tend to think he had a point. That all poets since have suffered from, what he called, a dissociation of sensibility. He was quite categorical about the case really. "Tennyson and Browning are poets, and they think; but they do not feel their thought as immediately as the odour of a rose. A thought to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility. Italics mine. Is this true of all poets since Donne? I think not. Certainly not true of Dickinson about whom, since she wasn't discovered until the 20s, Eliot may not have actually been aware of. But it is certainly true of the large majority of subsequent poets, which, when you think about it, makes sense. Especially if d of s is viewed as a function of too much civilization. I so view it.

Now that I think on it this same d of s is probably viewed as a positive by many, if not most, poets, at least in America. I would be inclined to wager that, for many, in fact a poetic thought should not be felt, should be thought about only, should be an invention, should be a structured concept only. That certainly seems to be the case in the academic variety of American poetry at least sense Ashbery. Probably all the poetry Perloff has spent so much time parsing falls into this camp. I think so. Not that it matters. Not in the overview. I'm convinced there is an argument in poetry, maybe in all art, that is perennial, fundamental, forever, involving two archetypes that will never go away. Borrowing from Nietzsche I would call it the argument between the Dionysian urge and the Apollonian insistence. More familiarly it goes by the rubic involving the Romantic/Classical dichotomy. That's all that is happening. Perloff's so-called conceptualists simply belonging to the Classical camp.

Funny to think on just how old fashioned the argument is between the two camps. Nothing new.

Tere
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The question The Boston Review editors asked those 18 contributors was:

what is the most significant, troubling, relevant, recalcitrant, misunderstood, or egregious set of opposing terms in discussions about poetics today, and, by extension, what are the limits of binary thinking about poetry?

I'm guessing that if they had asked you to contribute, Tere, you would have developed this theme of the ultimate binary, the Romantic/Classical dichotomy:

I'm convinced there is an argument in poetry, maybe in all art, that is perennial, fundamental, forever, involving two archetypes that will never go away. Borrowing from Nietzsche I would call it the argument between the Dionysian urge and the Apollonian insistence. More familiarly it goes by the rubic involving the Romantic/Classical dichotomy.

Is there any way around this binary? Could/should there be? I honestly dont' know.
Dec/30/2012, 9:14 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Love it when you do this sort of thing, Kat. Tickle the brain with simple, straight forward questions. In fact there is an alternative to, as you put it, art's ultimate dichotomy. But let me make a slight digression first.

The problem I have with these kinds of discussions in poetry, art, aesthetics is that they tend to proceed as if existing in a vacuum, without much regard for the substrate of human experience, of what it means to be human and alive. I would argue that all poets, in how they express themselves, are more driven by unconscious processes, by inclination, even by personality type, than by any deliberation on one manner of procedure or another. That makes psychological sense, right? That poets are less in control of choices made than they are captive to inclinations they are born with. It comes back to what Freud discovered: that the human animal is 99.9 % irrational. That is how it seems to me even in any intellectual exchange. Arguments and programs and ideologies speak more to personality type than to conscious, deliberate choices.

As a young man I learned a huge thing from Nietzsche. Speaking of philosophy and philosophers he said that after the created system has been discredited, in some way superceded by the next, all that is left to consider is the philosopher's personality type. He went on to say that as best as he could tell there are only four such original personality types. Only four. And all philosophers can be sorted accordingly. It may very well be that humans are, in fact, trapped by their own binaries. If so the reason has to in some way be psychological. I mean does an extrovert ever fully understand an introvert? Same would hold true of an introvert.

So when I extrapolate what I learned from Nietzsche, bring the principle to art, aesthetics, and poetry, I find an identical situation. There are only so many original personality types. Further, the dichotomy involving the Classical/Romantic binary inclination I find universal, in all poetry and in all ages. What we call the Classical/Romantic dischotomy the ancient Greeks called the Doric/Ionic modes. One strictly measured almost to the point of stasis, the other lyrically expressive. On the one hand there was Hesiod working in Doric fashion. On the other there was Homer working in his Ionic way. And the list goes on through out the ages. The dichotomy doesn't change. All that changes is local, environmentally biased coloration. Post-modernist poetry, for example, is clearly Classical in inclination. Form over content, concept over texture. Put differently, Logos (the Word) over Eros (Relations).

No sooner do I start down this path than all the examples come to mind. But that is a different story.

I figure there is a way around the binary. But it too may only be the product of unconscious inclination, not of deliberation. A Jungian has called the poet, Goethe, a truly original personality type. Neither extrovert or introvert but centrovert. He said that in Goethe's poetry is found the completely individuated personality. He called Goethe's way Osirin like, after the ancient Egyptian god of vegetation, seasonal death and renewal. You cannot read Goethe and get him without reading all of him. An arch-Romantic in his youth, classically inclined in his middle years, finally both inclinations integrated into one personality in his later years. One editor has called his Trilogy of Passion, written at the age of 74, Europe's greatest lyric poem. That is an extraordinary thing to say about an old man's poetry.

For lack of a better term I call Goethe's Osirin inclination the Naturalist's way. He is the only poet who speaks to all of me, to the whole of me. Sometimes in tandem and sometimes all at once. Ultimately that is what I look for in poetry, that it speak to all of me.

For fun here is a poem I made spoofing the Classical/Romantic binary. Scroll down to the bottom of the thread.

 [sign in to see URL]

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Dec/30/2012, 4:42 pm
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Hi Tere,

Will come back to comment more, but for now I wanted to say thanks for linking to that other thread. Funny stories and a fun poem you made from them. emoticon
Jan/2/2013, 9:47 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Hey Tere,

Came back to this tonight as promised. Read this paragragph and my brain started percolating:

Further, the dichotomy involving the Classical/Romantic binary inclination I find universal, in all poetry and in all ages. What we call the Classical/Romantic dischotomy the ancient Greeks called the Doric/Ionic modes. One strictly measured almost to the point of stasis, the other lyrically expressive. On the one hand there was Hesiod working in Doric fashion. On the other there was Homer working in his Ionic way. And the list goes on through out the ages. The dichotomy doesn't change. All that changes is local, environmentally biased coloration. Post-modernist poetry, for example, is clearly Classical in inclination. Form over content, concept over texture. Put differently, Logos (the Word) over Eros (Relations).

Your comment, "All that changes is local, environmentally biased coloration" reminded me of what Campbell said about myths, yes? Your comment, "Form over content, concept over texture. Put differently, Logos (the Word) over Eros (Relations)" reminded me of a song on Cohen's latest album, Old Ideas. Couldn't remember the title so had to go in search of it: "Different Sides." Ha! Take a listen:

[url][sign in to see URL]

Or a read:

[sign in to see URL]

Yes?

Will be back.
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Re: Perloff speaks....again


Excellent, Kat. Love it when someone goes associative in her thinking. Always the surprise, just a little more latitude. Cohen has such a finely tuned sorting system, don't you think? It's in how he parses what he finds in front of him.

Tere
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