Thursday, April 28, 2005


Well, the weather turned indeed, though not quite in the way I’d expected: today was drearily muggy and rainy, and the evening is almost but not quite pleasant. Few mosquitos yet, but they’re on their way. At least the roads have cleared out a bit. The end of Passover (or Easter, whichever comes later) marks the end of the “season” down here, and the annual migration of the snowbirds northward. That means many things, among them being able to get into a restaurant without a half-hour minimum wait and being able to get to the factory (a five- or six-mile drive) in a reasonable ten minutes, rather than the twenty-five-minute slog one endures when the population swells.

My old friend and co-conspirator Eric Selinger posts a pithy (or pissy) comment to my own last post: “How you can appreciate an eloquent, mordant master like Richard Thompson and a pissy, self-important brickbat like Watten is one of the mysteries of taste in our time, old friend. ‘Massive, relentless, even brutal’ may be words of praise when you're speaking of, I dunno, the three-guitar attack of some new death-metal band, but for a project in poetry?” (Eric, I believe, is working on a full-length study of the negative dialectics of Bruce Andrews and Leslie Scalapino.)

Spoze I could say something about “eclecticism of taste” (after all, this is the chap whose last two posts on Say Something Wonderful have featured George Oppen and Emma Lazarus, two folks one doesn’t expect to see around the same seder table in the Elysian Fields): my own iPod has been bouncing between Emmylou Harris and John Zorn’s Parachute Years of late, and I’m contemplating trying to work up a celtic-folky version of this Public Image Ltd. tune. Or I could say, yes, there are ways in which Progress (not so much Under Erasure) does evoke “the three-guitar attack of some new death-metal” outfit.

Eric, though he may keep returning to that wee dram of Robert Hayden, is also a keen reader of Ronald Johnson and Susan Howe. He may not ultimately want to swallow the full wad of Watten, but one of the things I admire most about the boy (aside from his rapid-fire davening) is his openness to a whole world of poetic cuisines. (NB: Teddy Wiesengrund did NOT admire a "culinary" approach to aesthetics.) That's a rare thing in any parish of Parnassus these days. There’s a sort of hard-edged puritanism – which we at Culture Industry want to admire, but can’t quite bring ourselves to achieve – which scorns exogamous reading with a truly Levitical rage (how many times has Ron Silliman boasted about how few books of poetry he owns published by trade houses?). So call me, like the president Guy Davenport used to call “that white trash from Arkansas,” a waffler.

I’ll hold off on any lengthier comment on Progress/Under Erasure until I’ve had a chance to digest it more fully – or until it’s proved wholly indigestible (which may, one reading of the introduction suggests, be its intended effect). Now if I could only get the stereo to play Sonic Youth and the Grosse Fuge at the same time.

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