Sunday, 25 November 2007

Look at meee!: notes on Cambridge Poetry (5/5)

15. Of Complicities, it is necessary to ask, first, the proof that these are plural?, and thus in principle may admit of degree; & second, allowing them distinguishable, what law makes the complicity that poet’s who hath writ it?; & thirdly, whether or no Complicities, which are of men, but are said to be of words, lure us into the Pathetic Fallacy, whereof RUSKIN puts, “The crocus is not a spendthrift, but a hardy plant; its yellow is not gold, but saffron. How is it that we enjoy so much the having it put into our heads that it is anything else than a plain crocus?”. Had but these few things been well considered, without looking any deeper into the matter, it might perhaps have kept men from running into those gross mistakes they have made, concerning Complicities.

16. To which let me add, connected with Complicities, is Ethics, as it would be erected in LENIN'S bespoke range, Что делать NEIL PATTISON? & Что делать SOPHIE READ? &c., viz. Good & Evil established on their true foundations. And seen by this light, the proposition made, of Complicities being properly of words, not men, may be thought shallow, liked by the villains who'll protest, "'twas not I spoke thus, but my mouth: I make no cause with him." Moreover, RODEFER hath put, in THE CHICAGO REVIEW though not that lately of controversy, an account of how poets' structure is as martial as our words, which is more particular. Critics of this kind, how short soever they fall of satisfaction, are sympathic with me, & will own with me this principle. The risk of Complicities is just that: political labours, a consolation by nature, may falsify themselves as complaisance, & thereby straighten the labourer's views, so he who consults his intelligence, consults only its consolations. But should this danger be found small, or a method devised, to restrain it, then Complicities would have nothing left to threat.

18. Connected with Philosophic Song are Prosody and Syntax. What is contended about these is hid from us, but we partly bait it out, with what it hates. The plain of the case, that is hated by the philosophical songwriters, that hath its roots in the controversy of CAMPION and DANIEL, is this.

19. Thought (says the bait, to the tuneful philosopher in his burrow), when metrically made, benefits not a jot as thought, by or for its metricity. Allow that PRYNNE’S thought is judicious; and allow, because he joins so oft with the tabletalk WORDSWORTH, & POUND, & MARLOWE, & MILNE, &c., while it crisscrosses under that of ARISTOTLE, & HEIDEGGER, & RORTY, &c., & MARX, & TROTSKY, & WEBER, &c., in an hum, that it is rare. Allow next that his versification of it is sly, & far-sighted. Allow finally, with greater risk, that its meaning cannot be, practically, divided from its particular shapes, but must needs be within some particular force of words, that does well or ill or indifferently move the affections of men, in particular places; & that it were a stupid superstition, if it might even in principle, be so divided, for it would vanish, as trivially & verily as that, which if we removed its matter, would cease to be yak. For the baby in the bathwater, it is said, is gilled. But thereafter allow no more.

20. JARVIS puts, “If there is to be a real relationship between philosophy and poetry, it must be one in which poetry can sometimes think better than philosophy, or at least think things that philosophy cannot. This is one problem with philosophical aesthetics as the means of managing that relationship: in it, philosophy is the knower and art is the known.” He that shall carefully peruse JARVIS in Critical Quarterly 40, & SUTHERLAND in The Gig 16, & MOI’S The Kristeva Reader, will be able to satisfy himself whether this is more than the bait will allow. Enmity between them, if it begins, is without exit. The reason is because, the things that are fought for are not the same, merely in the same places, & with the same names, which sounds an absurdity, when spoken of things in a man’s neighbourhood, but a likelihood, when spoken of things that are foreign or imaginary. But let this pass of metrical setts.

21. Connected with Utopia, there is Ideology, and the chance of room without, or I had better put rooms within, for False Consciousness is jump with the lip of the world, and wants secure wastes without, but hath only quick bubbles within, which break. Idealism is joined with it, whereon arises the indifferent controversy of the Language poet, who it is said hath a dot-matrix print-out of a child’s smithereens, and when he, with prudent Tip-Ex and stipple, hath swapped their places, says, I have a picture of a rainbow. SUTHERLAND puts, “Normal language, like capitalism and of course as a constituent part of it, is transcendentally hospitable. It is Whitman’s cosmogonic melos and Judith Butler’s infinitely promiscuous selfhood in perfected carbon burlesque: everybody’s autothanatography. It always eats Shklovsky’s Defamiliarization Salts for breakfast.”

22. Among all the tentacles’ insupperable mixing, Utopia, & Syncrenism, are braided up their full extent, or I should say, that of whichever is shorter. To have an Utopia is to live in unlimited grace, & Syncrenism, is when the same state obtains, but it is limited to those who seek Utopia.

23. SUTHERLAND dedicated his Roger Aisles, to “us,” after the fashion of PROUDHON, or “U.S.”, after that of MARX, but I have not the text to hand, nor will till READINGS’S mince pies are digested; & the prudent WILKINSON puts, “[...] I meet difficulty with the pronouns, both on top of things and obliterated, displaced, dispersed [...] I find it absurd to write ‘we’; by turns I dominate and succumb, or even in the same moment. And in this country, at this time, ‘we’ hath lost all possibility of adventure.” I think it is a strange imperfection, that the same men, who formulate works of so virtuoso a toleration, should overrun in cycles the estimation of good things with so violent a censure, as though it must please none else, because it likes not us.

24. The judicious taxonomer makes mention too, in connection with Syncrenism, of RETALLACK’S Poethical Wager, which is the thought, that to responsibly litter a fag, it were the reverse of common judgement, & also a thought to succeed it, that to temper all my tools, great conflagrations probably in my wake were a perfect forge.

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