Thursday, 2 April 2009

Against the London poets

Meanwhile I’ve heard some top London poets have gone among the murderous, thieving hordes of peasants. I expected better of you. Your curiosity is understandable – indeed, under the right circumstances, quite compulsory to our art. But you must grasp that by mixing with the demonstrators, you not only risk your safety, but those of our hopes which you hold in trust. More damningly, you convey, unavoidably, and without the off-sets of whatever private caveats you permit yourselves, an appearance of ideological connexion with the demonstrators, which in our era of appearances, were as good as to make cause with them.

A poet must be at once of his time and for all time. Swallowing this spin-1 power-up, I have incorporated two observations – object lessons in evanescences imperilled – into “Octopus Flute,” which, when its pearlescent sea-bed orchards ripen, may benefit by this pair of glosses: first, that even a baton extended in the spirit of defibrillation may have catastrophic, unforeseeable consequences; second, that under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, deprivation of liberty is not only justified in order to secure the fulfilment of legal obligation, but also, I quote, “for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases”. What social dynamic is the more pathogenic to the body politic than civil unrest? Direct action, indirect faction – and loosed from the labs by this one ghastly error, the pandemic exsanguinates all public will, the lifeblood of the body politic, or else projects it, garishly, within the emetic spatter of the crude homespun placard; it wracks terribly with pains all its vital institutions, sprouting black buboes to block the proper motions of constituent power through its representative organs, and granting us instead bloodied stool of the tossed-up wheelie bin; it mottles, swells, fevers, shatters, eviscerates, and bleeds dry. It is virulent and very, very infectious. It takes our breast in its bite-test – the young, the idealistic, the romantic, the free of spirit, Art Win, Luke Roberts, Mike Cupcake. The antibiotics of expert knowledge and considered public deliberation cannot pierce the anarchic pus of their halo-abscesses. Its germs flout even gravity, floating 'mong the high-minded, taking the chroncillers, the philosophers and poets, corrupting many whose honour and curse by rights is splendid elevation over every partisan carnage. And what medical technology has proved most vital to the modern defeat of disease? Mere sterilisation. And what is its instrument, its chief minister? One appears in every household. The lowly kettle.

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