Friday, October 07, 2005

So: For a while now, it's been on my mind to respond in some way to Joshua's (it seems right not to use his blogonym in this instance) meaty poetics post, not least because it does us the favor of laying some cards on the table in a considered and reasonably orderly manner. It may not be an attempt to "prove anything via some rigorous logic" (0.3), but it would likely be much sillier if it were -- but it's more than some scattered snipings here and there, and as much as I enjoy a well-aimed potshot, I'm also pleased when it's not assumed that that's all we can manage.

But -- one difficulty, and perhaps a reason that there hasn't been a little more substantive comment (at least where we can all see it, not to say there hasn't been any) is that it's hard to get into what's going on here without making it a referendum on all of one's doubts and questions about Marxism, getting stuck there, and never getting to poetry. I don't know if I'm going to manage the trick -- but, I would like it to be understood that to the extent I'm critical of what's Marxist (or marxian, I never know when I'm supposed to use one or the other) here, it is not from the vantage point of someone who would like to see that framework picked apart so that it can be dismissed and we can all go back to selling ourselves and buying everything else, but from the vantage point of someone who would like the tools invoked to do at least some of the work they were designed for, but would like to check the thread on a few of the screws before operating the machinery.

That said, there is another difficulty, which is that there is one card that is on the table but left face down. (Don't worry, that metaphor has now served its purpose.) We're not actually told what the historical materialist explanation for God's Waldo-like appearances in The Hat, or in current poetry or recent theory more generally, only that there is one. Now, if that's just because there must be such an explanation for everything, ok, yes, that follows from 4.0-4.1 (if you're not following along, that's simply the statement of the core notion of what you think about artworks -- b/c you think it about everything there is, and some things there aren't -- if you're a Marxist). And I think that this is another reason why there's been a certain dampened quality to some of the response: though the argument moves away from this starting point around, mmm, 6.1, Joshua is suggesting that, behind the recent tendency of some poets, inc. some excellent ones, to "invoke Judeo-Christian language" lies not the causal antecedent some (who? these poets? some non-Marxist reader? a demographer?) would imagine -- felt spiritual, esp. transcendental, experience -- but something in the here and now, and thus in whatever led up to here and how. (History, in a not heavily-freighted sense.)

And, though it might not interfere w/ Joshua's appreciation of a poet who can rock the enjambment, the above thought might still annoy some (not me, particularly) -- but how upsetting one finds it would probably depend on what the something just adduced turns out to be. Considering the source, I can hardly imagine that our critic has no particular notion about what analysis ought to be given. My guess would that it would have something to do with the displacement of first, a sense of political frustration and second, a painful apprehension of complicity, onto some other realm -- a displacement that is more than understandable (recall, opiates do relieve pain) but worrisome to the extent that it takes the possibility of resolution out of our hands. But this, as I say, is a guess -- even the way I've put it is probably too idealistic (in a fairly heavily-freighted sense), and not useful specific to the present moment.

More later.

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