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.

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…

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.

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.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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