Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Latest Big Project

Been (re)reading a bit of the Good Book: the first stretch of Genesis (Creation thru Abram), Amos, Judith (you go, girl!). And what I'm told is a very Evil book, Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass. And feeling, in the face of greybeards with Big Projects and young people with boundless energy, very middle-aged, fat, & lazy, like a cat in the Florida sun. Can't even write what I've already promised to write, much less plot out enough volumes of poetry for the rest of my life.

John's got it right about those life-plans:
I love how the lingo of twentieth-century big science, all a-doozy amongst the earnestines, comes to invade the poetry circles. Everybody’s got they “project.” They “next” project. Manhattan Project, “lifework” project, same dish. (Wait for the next plausible monicker to out, the avant-garde taking its military nod seriously in the grim “age of hits”: the “operation.” Not as in “chance operation,” no—“Operation Big Chance,” or “Operation Fueled by Flowers,” or “Operation Wrong’d Narcissist.” “I’m in the midst of “Operation Blank Cartridge,” the going’s rough, though I should end up with a chapbook.”)
Methinks he's revised the post, & I liked the earlier one, about how High Modernist monumentality sneaks into the post-avant woodpile: Bruce Andrews rewriting Dante, Ron S. trying to outdo Ez, WCW, Olson, & LZ all at once. Gosh I admire the energy: now who's our Michael Drayton, & who's our Charles Montagu Doughty? (Worthies both, but did they need to write so much?)


Jessica Smith said...

I like the word "project" (as in "take-home project") because rather than reminding me of war and physics, it reminds me of construction paper, glue, and experimentation (in the "let's play with scissors" sort of way) (your oldest daughter isn't old enough yet for "take-home projects" at school, is she? you have gads of fun things to look forward to). plus it sounds like something that can be worked on rather than perfected--a text rather than a book.

I don't have boundless energy :) but thanks for the confidence. I'm just alone in a small town in the middle of nowhere. If I had kids, if my boyfriend were here, if I cared a whit about school, I wouldn't be doing all this.

Norman Finkelstein said...

I recall Hugh Seidman, who has a scientific and business background, fulminating in regard to the use of the term "project" in the arts, particularly poetry. Hugh doesn't write long poems, of course, quite the contrary, but I think what he really disliked was the pretentiousness of the term, and the egotism behind it. The implication seems to be that this is a world-historical event. Some poems are (mighty few), but they're sufficiently dignified in being called poems.

Isola di Rifiuti said...


Funny, that "Monumentalism slinking around woodpile" bit seems terribly familiar, though I swear I didn't revise no post. (Could be I wrote something like that elsewhere in one of my previous "Operations," slapdash and addled operative that I be.)


Ron said...

Jessica might not have boundless energy, but her bounds are Way Out There ;-)