Sunday, 23 April 2000

From "Don't Start Me Talking"

It's what Adorno says about Beethoven (let's not beat about the bush eh?): the theme isn't the point (Mozart and McCartney's 'genius for tunes'), it's what you do with the social situation created by the first gesture. Dealing with it while it is happening (to quote Zappa's Hot Rats: Waka/Jawaka) is the art. So it's process, not product, and proceeds as an immanent dialectic rather than as a symbol within a pre-fabricated system. I'm not sure this 'justifies' what I do entirely, or rules out other approaches like cut-up or collage, but that is the impulse behind my 'improvised' writing. As you say, if i wanted something representational or argued, I'd write prose. I'm interested in what comes out, so it's like automatic writing, except I hope I'm more self-critical than the Surrealists, and also hope that my reading of other poets gives me a sense of a critical audience, a milieu. It's not launched into eternity but at various people I imagine reading it. I don't believe in the pure Id of Artaud and Dali, I think that's sentimental and leads to radical kitsch: I think this 'thing' in you must do battle with the super ego. As with Free Improvisation, a certain focus -- heightened attention, an audience of peers, a 'gig' -- elevates the art. It's amaving how quite dull musicians will play brilliantly with Bailey. So that's why, despite Punk Rock, I still consider myself a Cambridge poet and that what I write in that direction is different from other stuff.

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