My parents were both from Western Kentucky, & I did a good deal of growing up there, enough to know that the current state administration – led by Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher – is, in its good-old-boy corruption, really nothing new for the bluegrass state. Turns out one of the sites doing the most to rake the muck of the Fletcher organization (something like 15 indictments at last count) is BluegrassReport.org, who were quoted in a front page New York Times article yesterday. Today, the State of Kentucky has blocked access to BluegrassReport.org on all state-owned computers, & as a tidal wave of indignation has spread across the left blogosphere, they've begun blocking other sites as well (Atrios, etc. – but not Fox News, or various right-wing blogs). Pretty sad.
A few curious readers inquire: what's that "big [Ronald] Johnson piece" of which you speak? Well, it's an omnibus review for Parnassus: Poetry in Review, of RJ's last three volumes: To Do As Adam Did, the selected poems, The Shrubberies, and the new Flood edition of Radi Os. Now that's a lot of stuff to cover, and I'm even going to stretch it a bit: since Parnassus hasn't run an RJ review since William Harmon reviewed ARK: The Foundations over 20 years ago, I see no reason why I shouldn't also cover the complete ARK (Living Batch, 1996). So really a career overview of all of RJ's work. In some ways it feels like the big RJ essay I've been building up to over the last 2 decades-plus of reading his work, & it's gonna be good.
A premium at Parnassus on the snappy and telling sentence, so while I'm at work on one of these things I tend to lie awake at night and craft zingers. A couple of fumbles theretoward:
It's unfortunate, given Johnson's twinned mythological obsessions, that Orpheus and Theseus were not a single myth: the poet-magician Orpheus, rather than descending into Hell to retrieve Eurydice in an awkwardly Jungian search for his own anima, should have navigated the treacherous labyrinth, a task instead parcelled out by the ancients to the bully-boy warrior Theseus.
Often Johnson seems like a precocious, wide-eyed, goofy teenager, pushing his tape-mended glasses up on his nose so he can seize you by the arm and make you admire the latest set of Mars photos beamed back by some NASA probe. Or a twelve-year old who's just discovered the mechanics of sex, and can't resist making smutty little jokes about the the baguette and dozen eggs you've brought in from the grocery.