Monday, 4 December 2000

From a Quid editorial

By Keston Sutherland.

I want in this brief paper to offer an objection to [the] type of historical account [...] in which poets are avant-garde because they are intelligent enough to expose bad ideologies. The objection is to do with poets. It is the type of objection that may benefit from being stated up front as simply as possible. So here it is. Literary historiography does often illuminate real value in the work of poets by showing how they intelligently exposed bad ideology; but literary historiography of this type understands the intelligent exposure of ideology far better than it understands poets, because in stressing more or less exclusively the intelligence of poets it routinely ignores the fact that poets are indigenously stupid.

[...] Poets are untrustworthy in that they want more than can be intelligently wanted; but they are poets because they need what they thus extravagantly want. I would add that good poets usually know this about themselves.

[...] This predicament, knowing that I need what I cannot intelligently want, is the most basic predicament of what I'm calling indigenous poetic stupidity.

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