Saturday, April 14, 2012

Endangered species of do(ugh)nut, etc.

(I should apologize, this is another one of those lists, hated by Dice, in which one of the items is undesirably bloated and should have been a separate post.)

1. Heather McHugh, "Tiny Étude on the Poetic Line" (sorry about the ellipses but the original suffers from an overdose of overwriting, although I cannot figure out how best to pare it down):
A poem can be construed as a drama of a sort, set not merely against a vacuum [...] but also against a great babble of presumption, anticipation, commonplace, chatter, twitter, and byte—a deafening background noise brought to the poem by the audience, by the very nature of its conventions, its automatons of memory and mind.

The world of common expectations (the fabric of our sense of the "usual" [...]) supplies the circumstantial volume: it is brought by every reader to every act of language. Poetic acts contend with that circumstance, that source material, its overdose of underwriting.
Cf. Geoffrey Hill on the "grading and measuring of words" (a memorable phrase but I should correct the attribution; it was actually Hill quoting Pound). I am reminded of Kenner on WCW:
Williams' effort was to revise out of sight, not the fact that pains had been taken, but the fact that there even had been a poet. [...] Spontaneity is both the easiest and the hardest thing in the world to imitate, and art's vocation is always to do the hard way what is being done easily. 
And then there is the related notion, suggested (and stated, perhaps?) in The Pound Era, of the modernist poem as bearing the same relation to the unearthed Greek fragment as, e.g., Pope's epistles bear to actual letters -- in either case it is eventually somewhat like a passport or a check or a sliver of soot-encrusted marble, an innocuous quotidian object that reveals its watermarks, its structure of nodes and veins, when held against the light. (There is much else to be said about all of this; I haven't the time right now; but one should at least mention Kermode on Marianne Moore:
Moore once remarked that ‘prose is a step beyond poetry . . . and then there is another poetry that is a step beyond that’: you had to go through prose to come out the other side purged of that disposable prior poetry, with its irrelevant inversions and its subjection to conventional rhythms.)

2. Calista follows up on the dialect-dictionary digging in the prev. post (with "snuit", "smoo" &c.!). Here is yet another entry of particular virtue:

3. Elif Batuman, in the New Yorker (article, like most of her Turkish pieces, pedestrian and not recommended on the whole), on food exploration:
he has rescued from obscurity various wild greens, sausages, yogurts, and cheeses. In Erzurum, he once discovered a forgotten kind of doughnut.
(Via Sarah Emily Duff's new tumblr)

4. For the commonplace book, a v. good line from Coleridge's letters:
Of Parentheses I may be too fond--and will be on my guard in this respect--. But I am certain that no work of impassioned and eloquent reasoning ever did or could subsist without them--They are the drama of Reason--and present the thought growing, instead of a mere Hortus siccus.
5. Yet another precursor (found randomly) of a famous line in Keats.

1 comment:

Calista said...

re: Coleridge, you've reminded me of the "grand Maw-wallop": 'But Mrs S. & Mrs Lovell are a large, a very large Bolus! . . . [S]carcely can even the sense of Duty reconcile one to taking Jalap regularly instead of Breakfast, Ipecacuanha for one's Dinner, Glauber's salt in hot water for one's Tea, & the whole of the foregoing in their different Metempsychoses after having passed back again thro' the mouth, or onwards thro' the Bowels, in a grand Maw-wallop for one's Supper.'

(should be able to find here: