Tuesday, June 01, 2010

From the Notebooks - part four (of the summer series)

The thing I like about writing things in notebooks and then transcribing them out is that they don’t have to be worked up into something. They’re little questions (especially the assertions) that can form the basis of future questions. Because they’re fragmentary, they’re, by definition, incomplete. I like that.

This notebook I think is from around February through April, 2010. It’s a nice shade of purple, nearly violet, right where the rainbow wraps back from violet to red. Nice. It’s my favorite little notebook color, and one of the more rare ones. Of course. Perhaps if gray were rare, I’d like it more?

Is there a language unwounded?

What used to be research conducted by generalizations, has now become research conducted by key words. This seems a fundamental shift, but what it means (if anything) I don’t know.

The lessons of history show obsolescence.

“One’s own perspective, like one’s own age, is the only orientation one will ever have.”
—Rosalind E. Krauss

Art is not in the business of telling you what to do. Art only calls you to attend. You can ask it anything you want, but it’s you that answers.

I was hopeful when I bought that radio at the Spicer estate sale, but when the voices speak to me, all they tell me is the time.

I heard on the news one day about a study that was conducted using cell phones, tracking them for a period of time, and it quickly became apparent that once a few days had gone by researchers could predict where any given person would be at any given time with 90% accuracy. And here you thought you were whimsical, unpredictable

That the sunset swallows you is perspective, not resonance.

“Photorealism frees one from being sentimental or anecdotal.” That seems a naive statement now.

Question for the work of art: Is this bringing us closer to reality or further away from it? Make of the answer what you will.

They want to remove your memories and replace them with an advertisement for soap.

Every golden age is followed by another age that’s never called golden.

We tend to be interested mostly in new books by young writers, first books. It’s how art has this social bias, the rush of energy and vitality of the NEW. I call it the AWP bias, as that’s a lot of what publishers push at the AWP Bookfair. And of course. What use is there in pushing a ten or fifteen year old book when you have a new spring line? It’s enough that every now and then I swear off of everything and only read books that have been around for at least 20 years.

Young poets (with a first book) are less likely to be encumbered with family or jobs that demand strict attendance. They also usually have the most energy for late nights and borrowed couches. They are also what a lot of MFA students want to see and hear and meet. There is a lot of pressure in that, which isn’t a bad thing, in and of itself, as there is also a large pressure for the long-established, award-winning poets. What is lost, though, are the poets who are neither young nor award-winning.

Over time the mortality rate is 100%.

A sketch of only details.

Portrait of the Artist with Eyes Sewn Open and Mouth Sewn Shut

The argument against intentionality in art is that we see more than we can conceive of.

What one of us means by “pleasure” is not always what others mean by “pleasure.”

Genius = It seems like, every now and then, someone gets to remember the future. And sometimes we realize that while they’re still alive, as we move into that future.

Some poetry is written in opposition to other poetry, some in addition to other poetry, and some in completion to other poetry. I feel like Harold Bloom while I think this thought. Is this a way to describe poetry, or is it internal, more about the way the poet creates? A way that might be invisible to a reader?

Art is an argument for attending. Art objects do not have to be an argument against other art objects. Attending doesn’t have to be replacement. And sometimes people make arguments that the art at hand is an argument for replacement when it’s not necessarily so. The way David Wojahn or Franz Wright see books that they’ve recently written jacket copy for are not necessarily what they are. But perhaps they become that through assertion. Is Michael Dickman’s book really here to replace, say, Zachary Schomburg’s book? Dickman mostly likely doesn’t think so, but Franz Wright seems to think so (I’m guessing at the names, as Wright doesn’t name names).

What I mean by replacing: I see Rae Armantrout’s poetry as replacing Kay Ryan’s, for instance. Which is, Armantrout, for me, leaves no reason for one to read Ryan.

Poets I’ve talked with, by and large, don’t care much for, at least, 75% of the poetry they come across. Often that includes their own poetry (after the fact).

In opposition to: I am in opposition to probably close to 50% of the poetry I come across. This is different than liking or disliking. It’s more that I find them incompatible with other poetry. They are in competition.

Our strongest memory from childhood is always that things there were larger.

To attend to art is to listen to oneself in the presence of the art object. It begins in crisis. You have to admit crisis if you are going to get anywhere.

The problem with power is that power seems to only understand power.

All artistic ideas rot.

Is the idea of hybridity in poetry placed against the idea of synthesis? Where synthesis is an admixture that becomes one new thing, whereas the hybrid is a graft with visible lines? Is it the same as saying something like “mixed-mode” poets?

If we look at the idea of hybridity as strictly that, the grafting or flipping back and forth, then John Koethe’s “The Distinguished Thing” would be a good example, as it slips genre in the middle, and then switches back. As well, all poets that write in dual languages would be automatically hybrid.

There are always other ways.

The aesthetics of vertigo: From AWP: Tony Hoagland on the slippery aesthetics he sort of doesn’t like: “I copy it. I think it’s great.” It’s a difficult argument to follow.

“Language is not limited, we are.” vs. “There is nothing after language.”


At 6/11/2010 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the fuck is Schomburg--and how the fuck would you know what I'm thinking or what is in my mind.

Now, your notebooks, John, suggest you are the proud owner of one staggeringly pedestrian mind. You ought to work on your prose--and your intellect--before you put this shit out there in public. It's painfully embarrassing stuff. FW

At 6/11/2010 5:16 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Mr. Wright,

I was reacting to this you wrote on Dickman's book:

"To me, he is one of the younger American poets who are hiddenly heralding the end of the randomness, the glib irony Rilke strenuously warned against, the gratuitous non sequiturs and obscurities for obscurity’s sake which have been fashionable in our poetry for the past couple of decades..."

I'm wondering who these poets of glib irony and gratuitous non sequiturs are. I chose Zachary Schomburg because he's quite popular right now and roughly the same age as Dickman.

My complaint against you is small. I'm just wanting you to flesh out your argument with examples, and to perhaps do such a thing in a different genre than a jacket blurb.

Other than that, I will repeat, you really need to learn not to think everything is a personal attack, and you really need to learn not to make all of your arguments personal.

As for my pedestrian mind: I do what I can. But I’m not fragile. Attacks such as this from you don’t bother me. (If that’s what you’re trying to do.)


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