josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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8 Oct '03 08:21:46 AM

'My feelings about you are now those of anger and indignation; and they enable me to tell you a lot of things straight from the shoulder, without my usual tongue tied round-aboutness.

You might as well take all your own literature and everyone else's and toss it into one of those big garbage trucks of the Sanitation Department, so long as the people with the top-cream minds and the "finer" sensibilities use those minds and sensibilities not to make themselves more humane human beings than the average person, but merely as a means of ducking responsibility toward a better understanding of their fellow men, except theoretically - which doesn't mean a God damned thing.'

8 Oct '03 08:17:50 AM

Love is no comforter, rather a nail in the skull

8 Oct '03 08:15:06 AM

Bellona Times on Louis Zukofsky, or more appropriately, on Zukofsky criticism particularly in relation to 80 Flowers.

7 Oct '03 08:33:13 AM

See! Am on a stoop!

7 Oct '03 08:08:35 AM

Miss Gaw brings tears to my eyes tonight. And I don't even like Wallace Stevens.

5 Oct '03 06:47:04 AM

'Nonsense, or, the party. Bursts of talk, this is what is expected of one. Yet one prefers lengths of silence. Neither talk nor silence is by definition charming. Insofar as the charming is aware of itself, it too is not charming. It rattles.' - Lyn Hejinian

5 Oct '03 05:49:32 AM

Ted Greenwald, 'Spoken', from 1979:

The sound in my poems comes from the sounds I hear in my head of almost myself talking to some person. I choose to have as my limitation spoken speech, as you and I are sitting here talking. That's what I test the poem's shape against.

Occasionally, I like to do other things, when I hear a completely peculiar sound or something, see if it works, give it a test run. Eventually, I prefer dealing with items that are still charged with meaning and in fact are open to the change that happens over time in meanings. In other words, if I don't know exactly what a poem means when I write it I'm somehow writing a certain kind of science fiction, because the poem (if I'm right about the direction the language will change in) will eventually make sense on a more than just, say, shape level or form level as time goes by and I'll start to understand it more.

I'm an opportunist: I'll take what I can get. If it works and if it's working when I'm working on it, then I'll use it. I don't care what the source of it is. But I'm saying that the basic motor on my car is spoken (for): What is sounds like in my head when I read it to myself.

What works has to be grounded in the language, which is the locality of words. Words change in spoken language. "the/form/of/the/words/pump/blood/in/the/form/of/the/heart" That pretty much sums it up.

What I'm interested in and always have been is not what ideas people have in their heads, but what's in the air. The most invisible part of "trends." What is it that two people in the whole world or maybe twenty all of a sudden out of the middle of nowhere start to think about. What's in the air is the shape of things to come - it's palpable - right under your very nose. I hear what's in the air, that's my way of thinking with my ear. You're not working with the idea of something, you're projecting the idea of something. You're not working from models, you're creating models.

It's a romantic notion (where classical means coming from someplace), going someplace, sort of operating more out of imagination and less from received forms. In a specific sense, what it is the interior mind projecting itself into the phenomenological world, telling you where it's going. The time we live in is interesting, since there's a tremendous amount of good poetry that's "about" comings and going, this's and that's here and there, not sillyass schools of one thing or another ("in" and "out" I leave to the hosts and hostesses of the world).

Poetry is about a time that hasn't occurred yet, and if it's very good it's about a time you'll never know about. Poems are my pencil and pad for jotting down shapes or ways of embodying imaginary shapes or things that don't exist. But some time will exist on a wider scale. This is even conceptual: They are almost like plans for the future.

I think that the notion that sort of got started with Pound and other modernist artists is that if you were dealing with something you were going to take notes and the notes will usually be in fractional form. What's wrong with writing poetry that uses fragments (or notes) is that there is no everyday language that can be used to test the goodness of fit. All there is is some poetic diction or poetic language to go back to that says "This is correct!," but no language in evveryday use by people speaking, which changes over time, however imperceptibly.

I personally don't believe in using some form of a poem as a container for a bunch of things ("good lines" for instance). Each poem's form discovers itself as I write the poem. Two poems may not be perceptibly different looking, but there are differences. And, since I write on a day-to-day basis, and try to pay as close attention as possible, by paying close attention can see those differences. And watch the form of the poem, and the meaning and sense of sounds and words, change. And satisfy myself as a good reader with a good read.

3 Oct '03 07:33:41 AM

'It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence.

Only one answer: write carelessly so that nothing that is not green will survive.'

2 Oct '03 07:48:20 AM

I would like to take a moment to note how wonderful a phrase of Brian Eno's is - the one that titles and gives the chorus to 'I'll Come Running To Tie Your Shoe'. I do not however have at the moment the wherewithal to expand on this observation, and so instead invite you to do so for yourself, at your leisure, in a quiet moment alone. Keeping loved ones in mind while doing so is advisable but I suppose not required, if you can swing it.