Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Violence and Poetry 2

Sitting in here, surrounded by sick people and doctors who look through us rather than at us, I've been thinking again about violence and poetry. Violence and my poetry, to be exact. It's got me thinking about what I want out of my work, which, I think, is what both Hopkins and Bacon wanted from their art--that is to play the nerve ends. Both (and this comes more from Bacon's mouth than mine) wanted an art, or at least the possibility of an art (a method perhaps) that shoots straight for the senses, doing away with the boredom of conveyance. An assault upon the nervous system is how, I think, Bacon put it, though of course working with paint obviously has the greater advantage in terms of immediacy.
What I want from my own work comes down to this: to speak at once both brokenly and reparably. Thus, the need for a language that gropes and grinds, thus the need for an aggravated language full of contraversions of sense and syntax. I've been reading Celan again and have come to realize in his work a kindred poetics. This is by no means meant to imply I can understand the absolute terrors of his life, as profound and, ultimately, unendurable as they were. To have one's language implicated in the the mass extermination of an entire people is nearly unfathomable. But his need to go after language, to wrench it, wrestle it, to put his knee on its neck and go through it is as admirable as it is excitingly scary. That kind of brilliant and afflicted invention amazes me. As Celan put it, I'm looking for a language "wounded by and seeking reality." Hopkins, too, has his say; he speaks of a language "tonguetrue, vaunt- and tauntless."
So all that concussing, all the invention and retro-fitting that I want to do in my work needs to represent a rescuing of breath from suffocation as much as it is an attempt, too, to overwhelm the reader, to leave him breathless. Ideally I want the poems to work with air and its absence, joy and lust and headfirst-ness, and everything that is counterpoint to that.

On a not completely unrelated side-note, I think I need to read more Olson. Are there any on-line versions of "Proprioception" out there? And what about his essay on projective verse? Oh, and while I'm at it, is there anywhere I can find an on-line version of Call Me Ishmael?

1 comment:

sue carnahan said...

Hi Morgan, glad you are able to connect while "interned." Hope you return soon.

I like "to speak at once both brokenly and reparably." Writing for me is often a negotation among articulation, misarticulation, and inarticulation. Maybe just living is this way too. Studying speech and language pathology over the last 2 years has raised for me many questions about the process (producing language and speech and written language). Things can go awry at many points along the way. Can go awry interestingly or not so interestingly. For instance, a man I worked with speaks mostly in nouns with very occasional verbs and adjectives ("SUV... motorcycle... crash... stroke... me... stupid"). No functors (pronouns, articles, prepositions, etc). Another man gets most of a sentence out--urgently--and then stops suddenly and cannot retrieve the critical content word or words. Such as "It's like the time last summer you and I _____." All starters and no finishers