Thursday, April 20, 2006


The latest heartwarming photo-op from the White House: "Katrina Kids" shivering on the lawn at the annual Easter Egg Roll, serenading the First Lady to the tune of "Hey Look Me Over":
Our country’s stood beside us
People have sent us aid.
Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.
Congress, Bush and FEMA
People across our land
Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!
I know I'm moved – or at least bits of my digestive system are in motion.
From the "Never Underestimate a Slacker Undergrad" department: Today in my Am Lit course we were doing some Dickinson poems, in particular Johnson #1052:
I never saw a Moor –
I never saw the Sea –
Yet know I how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.
The first question – I'm not making this up – was "What's Heather?" To which someone replied – and I'm not making this up either, nor was he joking – "It's a girl's name."
I have Рto the detriment of my work, my family life, and my sleep schedule Рfinished watching The Ister; and I pronounce it good. Very good indeed. Don't miss the extra 25 minute bonus segment of Werner Hamacher extemporizing on Heidegger's reading of H̦lderlin; I wish I could talk like that. (I wish I was that good looking!)
Oh indeed, Jessica, no irony about poetry as dance. I always remember – tho I can't lay my finger on it – that passage where WCW kicks Pound's butt over the "condition of music" business, and tells him that if poetry has to be compared to anything, it ought to be compared to dancing. (Dylan Thomas to Harry Levin, upon being introduced to Levin & told he was a professor of Comparative Literature: "And what do you compare it to?")
J. leaves tomorrow for another weekend at the Folger in Washington, thus casting me into single parent status. Survival is probable, tho not assured.


Jessica Smith said...

I'm glad you weren't being ironic about poetry-as-dance, because that's such a much better and more interesting metaphor than poetry-as-music or the blank-page-as-canvas (but... i'm not for undoing the concomitance of nacheinander and nebeneinander... i love poetry as performance)... tell me if you remember where the WCW quote is.

So now I won't have to challenge you to a duel or anything, which is good because after the Heather(s) story *and* the anti-poetry story (during National Poetry Month, no less!) I don't think i could bear it.... I'll leave it to your kids. :) (have a good weekend)

zbigley said...

Pound also said "Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music."

I don't recall that WCW line, but I suppose the salient point is that both dance and poetry arose as responses to music, supplements, you might say.

The Derridean logic of the supplement certainly plays out in poetry's history, i.e. poetry as augmentation to music becomes poetry as replacement for music, but this seems less apt for dance. I suppose purveyors of modern dance see their work as separable from music just as poets since at least the 13th century have been happy to speak their poems sans melody.

Pound again: "There are three kinds of melopoeia, that is, verse made to sing; to chant or intone; & to speak. The older one gets the more one believes in the first."

Michael Peverett said...

re that tale of Heather

The website ofBrooklyn Botanic Garden speaks of the claim by an Aldo Leopold Foundation survey that "on average young people could only identify four native plants in their neighborhood, whereas they could recognize 1000 brand labels."

I do remember reading about that survey a few years ago, but judging from the lack of reference to it on the internet, it seems that others must have wondered (like me) about the mechanics of a survey that could arrive at that striking conclusion. (How many labels and plants would you need to ask each child about? How would you measure "identification"?)Still, it makes a great urban myth.