Monday, 2 July 2012

Does Poetry Exist?

and are Spain the best football team ever? I prefer the 1970 Brazilians but picture reception was less reliable then. I also believe in Hamlet but as some other clouds have been stirred lately perhaps some might want to consider Vanessa Place's already notorious (note, notorious, meaning) essay, from as long ago on the digital watch as last April,  'Poetry is Dead, I Killed It'

while I have seen Perloff's 'Poetry on the Brink' cited in tandem:

  It could be that poetry is  having a market crisis but I like the wit in Place's paragraph below, while in my darker moments I might suggest that a slight variation, 'Poetry is Dead and I Killed It' should be the mandatory title of all new collections of 'verse'. Unless proved otherwise.
  In a court of law :)

"Drucker’s central thesis is that conceptualism is a symptom of a smooth-faced crisis of the Zeit, in which systems exist to perpetuate themselves as systems rather than servants. Where we are we only as bits of webbing used to tat more networks that work to no other end but their own endless extension. This seems correct in a general sense and what of it? For, in a general sense, given that all we are are more or less attractive DNA delivery devices, why should our souls be any less utilitarian or bent towards something other than a dumb repetition? As Hegel noted, “Spirit is a bone.” Or, as Craig Dworkin has illustrated, the Man Booker Prize is awarded yearly to singularly unoriginal work, much like the pages of most poetry anthologies go tête à bête with their faithful readers. Too, it is too easy to note that the majority of poetry that is produced is produced as reams of subjectivity, and that the ability to sell one’s innermost and/or ethos is the call to market for many an MFA. Or that poetry is largely a cottage industry of the university, and like other university discourses, is the hand that feeds it. Or that much political poetry presumes that the moo-faced masses must be written at in order to be written for. But Drucker’s argument falls most apart in its particulars, from its belief that aesthetic movements follow each other like right and left feet, to its daisy chain of false predicates and caged assumptions. To wit: (valid) art is about opposition; opposition is about critique; (valid) politics is about critique; thus (valid) poetics is about (valid) politics; critique is about apartness; conceptualism is sameness; thus conceptualism is not critique; thus conceptualism is neither valid politics nor valid poetics. However, each semi-colon should serve as question mark, for each point betrays its own faulty presumption. To be equally reductive/reactive: art is about nothing but art, poetry is pointless except as poetry, and The Matrix was a very good movie indeed. Drucker wants to believe that once an aesthetic gesture has become institutionalized, it loses its critical cachet, which is its only avant ace. And she wants to believe this while also asserting the postmodern maxim that we are but culture products and producers, and while acknowledging the commonplace of cultural critique in a post-Institutional Critique culture of production, in which we are but producers, etc. But if we can agree that we may function critically not from the conceit of extramural critique, which is essentially a postmodern argument, but rather from a relational perspective, which is the more conceptualist approach, we can avoid the temptation to fall into the sweet satisfactions of self—including a sorrowful self that has seen it all before. The best minds of my generation are servile, but it is service with a purpose. We take it and dish it out and leave its rumination to other minds. For, as Marjorie Perloff argues, the genius of conceptualism is in the plating"

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