Monday, November 03, 2008

The Grand Piano, Pt. 3

Bob Perelman hits the proverbial nail on its proverbial head (yes, cliché) in the 3rd installment:
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?

2 comments:

Curtis Faville said...

Not sure I understand what's being perpetrated here.

"Self-denial"?

The implication of the "turn" is that Duchamp's rejection of traditional contexts of commoditized object production left open the possibility of re-processed matter (i.e., the Coolidge room). Williams provided the example, which has (so far) not been followed. Could an "anonymous" witness account for the consequences of a bad (but unavoidable) history? Unlikely. The more we try to seem neutral, the more extreme (specific) we become.

Pauvre ou riche?

Dickinson>Oppen>Armantrout.

Joseph said...

But isn't, according to Blake, the lust of the goat the bounty of God? So place me among the goatish, the uncomprehending, the saved. Joe D