We're all writing discursive sentences here, and isn't that odd?To say the obvious: all of this, these attempts at presenting our parts, go against an earlier don't that some of us promulgated: critiques of narrative by Ron and others (Bruce Andrews, Steve McCaffery). That don't has reverberated for decades, especially in the reception of Language writing: don't try to construct novelizing, technicolored picture windows, which open onto ideologically fixed theme parks. I promulgated this don't myself in an MLA talk, but I wasn't terrifically enthusiastic about what I was saying. I had more fun quoting Stendhal and Mozart's letters.
The pianists seem to have loosened up here in the 3rd set: there's almost a jazz feel of collective improvisation, as each writer plays around not a single "head" ("love," "city") but the question each previous one has left hanging.
What the hell was this "group," this "movement," this "moment"? several of them seem to ask. And, more winningly, was I really a part of it, or a fellow-traveller allowed into the inner sanctum on sufferance?
Is Barrett Watten, as he reports Robert Glück implying, the André Breton of Language writing? It's a joke, of course, but one feels the chilly touch of judgment a bit later when BW throws out – straightfacedly – an old Jonsonian term:
But the turn to language is not merely an act of self-denial; it has a historical dimension the poetasters do not normally comprehend. [my emphasis]A scene from the Revelation of St. John the Divine: BW as halo'd Terminator/Christ, purified poets on his right hand, benighted goatish poetasters on his left.
Gentle reader, where stand you?