Saturday, May 03, 2008

C'mon folks, let's get those library orders rolling! Seriously, tho – a plea specifically addressed to blogreaders who have access to academic or public libraries, inside or outwith of the US: Somehow The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky got passed over by the library-directed review magazines (Choice, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, etc.), & it's not getting picked up by libraries the way it ought to be. Tell your librarian to buy the book! Request it at the front desk! Ask why they don't already have it!
Is it my imagination, or is my iBook running about 2/3 faster now that I cleaned – in a half-hour devoted to avoiding grading – something like 85 items off of the desktop?
Grading 2/3 done: only the hardest bits yet to go.
Go read Craig Bryant's boss new blog devoted to his read-thru of the new Oxford Thomas Middleton.


Vance Maverick said...

I've filed the web form for a request with the San Francisco library. I suspect that goes straight to the bit-bucket, so I'll mention it to them when I'm up and around again.

I'm temporarily living just south of SFSU, in a large apartment complex -- the page in your book on Z's residence at State makes it sound as though they must have lived here too. I see they have a couple of your books, but not that. If I had any standing there, I'd ask.

By the way, could I ask you about the famous "upper limit music" figure? Does Z ever specify what function is being integrated? This would seem pretty essential if we're to make sense of the formulation....

Vance Maverick said...

Actually, chewing on this for a while, I think I've hit on an interpretation, which may not be what Z had in mind, or you (I should read the book!), but at least fits with the basic definitions of the terminology he's deploying.

The function, in this view, is the value of the poem when considered different ways. X, the input to the function, is a point on the axis that runs through speech and music -- representing a way of taking the text of the poem. (Any poem may be "read" both as speech and as music; one of the points of the metaphor is that this is not a binary choice, but a continuous one.) Y, the output of the function, is the value of the text, what it amounts to, when considered in that particular light (as speech, as music, or as something in between). The integral, in this interpretation, is the total area under the function between X=speech and X=music. If the poem is good as music but not as speech (the traditional view of Swinburne, challenged for example by Forrest-Thomson), then the shape of the function will be a kind of spike, rising from Y=0 at X=speech to Y=1 (or whatever) at X=music. If the reverse (good speech, bad music -- maybe Crabbe?), the shape is still essentially the same, though reversed. But if the poem is good as music and good as speech, then the area -- the integral -- will be large, and the poem will score high on the Zukofsky scale.

Am I warm?

Craig said...

Thanks for the shout-out--I'm convinced that Middleton-focused blogs are one of the great unmet needs on the Internet today. Though I confess, when I hear you smart people start talking the literary theory, I feel like I need to slink back out to the kids' table in the other room. Maybe there's still some chocolate milk left.

Josh_Hanson said...

Digging the sticker. Thinking of making it into a tattoo, only with Blakean angels being crushed in the gears.


Anonymous said...

Sorry the LRB review was so mean-spirited. Write the sniffy buggers a letter.

m0nkeyboy said...

Actually, your iBook probably is faster. The Mac OS uses memory to generate every icon on the desktop, so clearing it up is the easiest way to improve performance.