Tests of Time

Ron Silliman:

Some poets have chosen to embrace the new with everything from flarf to technology-based visual poetries. Others have decided that the “timeless” values of tradition will outlast even this. They recall and sometimes reiterate the archaeologist’s maxim that ultimately hard copy is truth. If you can’t dig it up in 5,000 years, did it ever exist? Ian Hamilton Finlay, with his stone-carved minimal texts, may outlast us all.


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“Embrace the new.” They’ve been saying that for 100 years now. Astounding lack of irony.

Daniel,
You sound like you’re suffering a bad case of ‘lost gatekeepr envy.” Like Republicans who still can’t figure out why they’re not the majority party…

J.,
Not particularly (was the goal of that just to call me a Republican?), since I’m not nearly old enough to have ever been a “gatekeeper” (itself a pretty useless term; there are no gates, no limiting structures such as production and distribution).
I think that “Make it new” is an axiom in the poetry world which has led to repetitious strategies of emphatic divergence, and its use has long since passed; “Make it blue” would be more avant garde at this point. This is not to say I enjoy the rote redundancies of “traditionalist” poets either. But as Fredric Jameson recently wrote, the various Theories of the 1960s–80s have codified over the course of 40 years into the very type of philosophies they claim to explode. They are the form of current academic hegemonies. Hard-line traditionalist academics and poets are the natural counterpoint of their rise. They are faces of the dominant postmodern ethos which I feel has run its course. Whatever is next, I have no idea.

Daniel,
I confess that I dashed off these comments having my mind largely on something else–though related… so your comment/post set off the associations I was not prepared by time or inclination to defend as you surely deserve. Please accept my apologies. We may or may not disagree, but discussion in good faith is too valuable to subvert with less than mindful exchanges (mine, not yours)
Some of what I did have in mind… the lastest post on Barking Dog.

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