leden 2010

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This work by Jaime Nichols is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Comments

meg

I like it. At least, it helps me wrangle the ornery bull that is the accepted definition of the lyric in medieval literature (ie, style of poetry born in the 12th century in which the writer talks about his emotions). I've never liked that definition at all, at all... for one thing, writers *did* talk about their emotions before then, bien sur.

But "using poetry to demand admiration" works quite a bit better. Hey, somebody, give that Kundera guy a prize! CJ, you can accept it for him.

Nick C.

Lyrical poetry seems to be working just fine for Bono and company. Nobody questions the value of musical lyrics?

Matt Ambrose

I trace "lyric" poetry back to Sappho. Poetry sung to the lyre. She was really the first rock star. Sappho definitely wanted the admiration of her lady friends, and poetry was her way of getting it. I don't think that is shameful at all. Everything we do in our lives is driven by one desire or another. Whether it's admiration, moeny, sex, power, peace, survival, blah, blah, blah. There is no action - poetic, artistic, or otherwise - which is free from desire.

Anyway, poetry is about communication, among other things. You're not really communicating unless someone reads you, and nobody reads poetry they don't admire.

meg

Sure they do, Matt. People read poetry admired by someone in a position of power all the time. I do it myself on an almost-daily basis. Hell, I get *paid* to read poetry that I don't admire but that somebody else does, and my students even pay for the privilege.

(I know the point you're making, but power plays a tremendous part in literary reception.)

rcjohnso

Hey, did anyone see last week's OC?

Coelecanth

Anyone who creates art wants people to admire their work. If you don't, why bother sharing it with anyone, or indeed creating it at all?

It's hard to seperate yourself from your work. When the subject matter is something personal it gets even more difficult. I think this is natural. Our emotions aren't little discreet boxes. They're sloppy and overlapping, each one affecting the others.

The problem comes when the only reason you're doing it is to be admired. The "obsessive desire" Kundera spoke of, one that excludes all others. That's a well trod path littered with the corpses of one-hit-wonders and deposed pop royalty.

Meg: power does indeed play a part. But only because people are lazy. It takes real effort to find things that aren't pushed at us by the people in charge of the media. But they're out there. It takes effort examine what you like and why you like it. But it's possible. It's just that the effort to do these things isn't seen as worth it by our society's standards and so most people don't bother.

Jane Herself

Rian: Of course we liberal, intellectual snobs never stoop to watching the OC. That's for the unwashed masses in Jesusland who voted President Chimpy back into office. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to reading my Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover with a magnifying glass.

Everyone Else: Interesting points, all. Here's what strikes me: I recognize a disappointment at not having been able to stifle the poetic impulse in some of my favorite poets. I would argue that in the case of T.S. Eliot, for instance, that his essays convey a profound desire to distance himself from the sense in which his poems throw us dogs a bone. Or, in the case of Samuel Beckett, a continual movement towards a desired silence. I think there's a sense in which poetry could never be written except out of a desire to manufacture meaning from the palpability of it's absense, and a sense of lack; that it expresses, not only a need for approval, but an even more elemental desperation to be validated, and at the same time, an abjection and emptiness. That's a bleak outlook, I know, but I actually see it as the thing that is often most beautiful in those works that contain the poetry of human endeavor. At the same time, it's the skeevy thing about poetry.

Power? That's a whole other ballgame - but I think I agree with Meg, Matt, when she says that people often read poetry they don't admire, and often assign it special value added brownie points over the works they do love... which is another interesting question, really...

As for Bono, he has succeeded in earning my everlasting love, so his project is fully working. God bless him with his soft heart and the incredible sweetness of his need for a crowd.

rcjohnso

Oh you and your silly little post-election-syndrome-thingy. Tee hee hee.

Jane Herself

Blah, blah, blah. Look at me, I'm RIAN. Blah, blah, blah.

Tara H.

Rian has lice.

Matt Ambrose

I think this whole idea of the "pure" artist as being above the rabble or more highly evolved so as not to desire admiration or is a load of crap. Art is like other kinds of work, one flourishes in it if given constructive feedback. Jane, your argument about Eliot and Beckett moving toward silence and that "there's a sense in which poetry could never be written except out of a desire to manufacture meaning from the palpability of it's absense" is very fancy - rather like our favorite Derrida analogy of the place of meaning residing outside of the text itself. If Eliot and Beckett had managed to quell their own poetic urges, would the world be less skeezy today? I don't know, but it would certainly be less good.

Jane Herself

Matt, I agree. I am so glad they didn't manage to shut the hell up like I sense they may have wished they could. Also, they didn't write anything that I find particularly skeevy, the way I find, say, the entire "soul forging" ouevre of Sylvia Plath (with the exception of the brilliantly overwrought Daddy), or the non-stop "look at me, I'm wonderful!" stylings of say, Jack Kerouac, to be pretty darned skeevy.

Maybe fighting off the skeeve is an important ingredient. I don't mean to be fancy, but as much as I hate to revisit it, I think Derrida was shooting his bullets straight into the absent locus when he cooked that shit up.

Charlie

It's a noble quest, for sure--I've been working on that a little bit too. All of us go in for that kind of thing in some way, I think, whether we actually realize it or not.

So, how's it going? I've got a little bit of Chris Horner action cooking up on the interview front, which is very cool.

However, I really need to figure out a less bitchly way to make money--but that's beside the point.

I'm glad that Prague was as cool as you thought it would be, or even better, maybe. A friend of mine just got a job teaching English to business people in freakin' Saipan, for cryin' out loud. That sounds like a nice gig at this point. She works at the same school I do, and has had enough too.

I'm hoping for something just a little bit closer to Grenoble, or even Madison for that matter.

Nice job on PRO, by the way. Props to Jamie on that effort, when you see him, too.

Later~Charlie

Jane Herself

Hey Charlie! I love it when I get a message from you!

Bitchin' on the Chris Horner, because that guy is cool. I really like him. He's a pretty great interview subject - never holds back, always reveals his many charms, and he's got loads of big news and good shit to tell us all about just now. Is he back here in the states again? As for me, I've got a potentially super cool Fast Freddie Rodriguez project on the horizon. Should be aces!

Prague was pure lyrical poetry, and I loved it. I am really struggling not to just PINE for it all the time, now that I'm home in Hollywierd. However, the decision has been made: I am moving there in the summer to begin working in September as a full on EXPAT. Again, should be aces.

Thanks for the props on "PRO". I'll pass it on to His Majesty.

~J

Charlie

J~

Hey, you're going back for sure--that's very cool! I'm also looking forward to your Fast Freddie project--it's always great to find out what he's been up to.

Would I need a TEFL certificate to teach ESL in Europe if I already have a teaching license? Also, is there a ton of red tape to get a gig there, with getting a visa and everything? Just wondering.

Later~Charlie

Jane Herself

Charlie: In Prague, it's getting more difficult to find work without a TEFL certification like the CELTA or the TESOL from Trinity. There are a lot of people looking for work there, and a lot of opportunity, too. I'm not sure what you have been teaching, and I'm sure classroom experience would be helpful, but many schools won't look at applicants without ELT specific credentials, I think, when they have so many who have them.

That's in Prague. From what I understand, it's pretty tough to find any work at all, for an American, in other parts of the EU, with the notable exception of Spain, where, with credentials, I hear you can usually rustle something up if you keep at it.

None of that's true in Asia, though, where you can make pretty good money teaching English, and can easily find work without the qualification...

čau! ~J

Charlie

Cool--thanks for the advice. That's pretty much what I've been hearing around here too.

kate

Hummm... on the subject of the poet and the poet's desire, there may be a bit of cynicism about on that subject. A poet is NOT a rock star, but only CAN be if that is the specific poet's nature. If a poet is basically looking for the "projection of his face" on the screen of his poetry, then that is also true of any other art, science and anything else men do. You can find self-impressed or self-needy persons everywhere that use their work as a way to get laid, get money, get power, get anything.

On the other hand, many find in their discipline a way to look into the face of the "other", the face of the unspoken, the face of the ugly and the beautiful with as much integrity and courage as they can muster to learn from that experience, to enlighten their own experience, and if seen by others, to enlighten those whose path is similar and whose questions are in the same realm. For those, any admiration for their work is a by-product of what they do - just like happiness is a by-product of the "good" in our lives.

Jane Herself

You know though, I think that's a layer up from what I'm talking about, which is the origin of the impulse to, not only observe, see, and formulate, but then to go ahead and make other people read it. That's what made Eliot squirm, if you ask me.

I think the making of an equivalency between artists and scientists is apt in some ways, but not in this one, because a scientist is truly looking to understand external realities. That effort may have a sort of a poetic relationship with subjectivity, but its main impulse is directed outwards, in the effort to produce objectively unassailable data, that doesn't require approval in some important sense. I think that, with the disciplines Kundera mentions here as differing from poetry, there is the same relationship to objectivity that poetry has to subjectivity. Poetry is essentially the expression of a subjectivity or the a confluence of subjectivities, and it's place in the world is, in some sense, determined by it's ability to communicate itself, and be approved or validated by a reader. Of course, scientists validate each other's work, but they do it with science. Science is self-validating, and wants objectivity. Poetry is validated by approval, or a sense of emotional correspondence, which is essentially impossible to confirm, or make manifest in an objective sense.

I'm not saying that the impulse to see and convey otherness is not important to poetry, I just think this other thing is more elemental to it's impulse.

Kate

Hey, by-the-way, I had dinner the other night with someone who lived across the hall from old T.S. when she lived in London with her husband, the Ambassador. She had a few interesting stories, yes.

Anyway, I get what you're saying, but science is a speculative work in many cases. The proof is if it "works" and even THAT can be changed often by new information. Lower math is objective. Higher math is often speculative, postulating something that is yet to be proved or holding a variable that cannot be quantified. Science, even Newton and his apple can be...on a hunch...on the "subjective" vision of the scientist who is attempting to see the "other". Science is theory until proved, we simply tend to believe on faith that what the scientists tell us about many many things is fact.

On the other hand, a poet may often illuminate the human heart, mind, behavior to such a degree that its truth can be seen in one generation after another...Shakespeare, for instance. I stand on the fact that it is very much WHO the poet is whether that poet fits into Kundera's pattern.

Nick C.

The first attempts of an aspirant poet might be considered as awkward or "insufferable", depending upon the degree of talent in their author. But first attempts being first attempts, they are probably not the best that might be written if the poet keeps at it.

In order to grow and refine their craft, the poet probably has to share their work with others and receive feedback. So from this point of view, to share poetry with others may be considered as a necessary force in the growth of the poet's craft? I think this is also true for most art in general.

C.J., all the great authors you mention would probably not have become great unless they kept at their personal practice. Sharing the work is a part of that practice. Like Kate mentions, acclaim probably comes later, usually much later in the process?

Jane Herself

Kate: I don't think there's an elemental difference between poets. I think it's only a question of degree. I agree that poetry illuminates, and I love it; but I still think that in it's essence, it's an attempt to manifest significance and meaning, and that it requires an intersubjective relationship with a reader to gain its potency. There are certainly degrees and levels of need for admiration, as Kundera suggests, but that it's always part of the equation to some degree.

kate

My problem is with the word "admiration". It includes in it, as it is being used, a sense of vanity. Yes, art does get potent TO THE COMMUNITY when it is seen and known. However, it may be very potent to the poet even if no one see it.

True, sharing of one's work is what we all do, whether it is at a 9 to 5er or as the most successful artist on the planet, we are a social being. Learning the basis of any discipline takes interaction. Continuing in it might be, but does not have to be interactive. Take a mathmatician who locks himself up and works for YEARS to finally find a proof for a 500 year old postulation. It happened. He didn't go looking for anyone to comment on his work until it was done. Moreover, there are notable examples of very great artists that were never appreciated in their own time. Van Gogh, for one. He longed for admiration and got none...and still painted. I believe he sold one painting. Often the greats are even violently disliked because they are seeing into what the "community" does not want to see, just as great scientists have been put in jail for the same thing, historians, lawyers, musicians (the 12 tones were EVIL)you name it. If admiration was at the essence, these people would not persist. Why take that route when another use of that intelligence would allow you to manipulate others into liking you...admiring you. I think the motivation is far deeper and less easily named.

It may have been a vanity that motivated our "man and superman" thinker, but I doubt that Lao Tsu gave a rip whether he was admired. Our honoring of these people is not mere admiration anyway. It is a recognition of their ACTUAL value to us, not their own desired value that brings us to them to listen, to see, to feel, to know.

I am a bit old fashioned, obviously. Deconstructing something, in my opinion, does not make it more plain, but merely hands me a pile of broken pieces, none of which exemplify the meaning of a thing. One does not attempt meaning, anyway. One is, with meaning inherent. No one and nothing can give it to you no matter how much admired or viewed or read. Notable suicides tell us that. A very sad song called the Crucifixion by Phil Ochs saws this nicely.

If we honored the efforts of our artists (instead of calling them into question as less than, vain types) in the same way as we honored our scientists we might find that art and culture would flower as much as technology and to a very beneficial effect.

Question, has the modern cult of celebrity and the cruelty of the machine tainted our ability to see?

Sarah

You all need to take a pill and lighten the hell up!!!

What happened to all the talk of cute boys and adorable pictures of Rian?

Poetry, blah Blah Blah, where are the cute boys?

Jane Herself

Oh sure. Don't ever bother with my website, and then show up one day and give me shit. Nice.

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