Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Scatological in Artistic production

I tend to think of poetry (and art in general) as somehow scatological - in that it is part of a process of consumption; expulsion, waste and expenditure - one chews stuff up and shits stuff out, leaving a trail of effluvia (be it poetry, sculpture, sound...) and ends up creating by a process of digestion/transfiguration; the old alchemical dream of turning shit into gold (See the Coil Back catalog - "Gold is the metal with the broadest shoulders").

Art is waste - see my comments on political practice, viz. Adorno on Art's functioning outside of the normative economy of exchange/function. This applies to poetry too - poetry is, by nature, not discursive, it eschews the normative economy of meaning-production through mimesis/signification. Normally such a description is only applied to Langpo, but this is not the case - If the aim of poetic expression (pun intended) was straight communication, then the communicator would be best to chose a form more suited to such (assumed) transparency. Rhyme, metaphor, metonymy, parallelism, sonic patterning - all of these cause noise in the channel. Form (and style) inform the reader, are part of the content that is consumed. there is white noise, pink noise ... the unintended, the pun, the "trans-segmental drift"; all of this functions alchemically, as processes of digestion/transubstantiation.

Last night I was talking to a friend, and let slip that I'm not so big on Auden. He replied that September the 1st, 1939 was about Truth, and that one either agrees with old Wystan, and likes the poem, or doesn't. I beg to differ. If such was the case, then I'd probably like half the faux-beatnik political ranting that goes on, but no such luck I'm afraid. I'd rather they shat out Free Jazz. Auden, like Eliot, is restraint in practice. Language reterritorialized. Give me the sprawling morass of Stein, or Pound, or Schuyler, or the Sibylline Hysteria of Alice Notley any day.

[Robert McLean's comments have been removed at his request]


Robert McLean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ross Brighton said...

Hi Robert - Thanks for taking the time to reply. I do admit that I paint a rather disparaging caracature of Auden's oeuvre, but his work really doesn't work for me. And that's an opinion, as is my scatological analogy.
To address my other points, I like waste and noise (in this context at least), I think of them as productive processes, processes that create interesting phenomena that would otherwise be relegated to the trash-heap.
What I like about Swineburne, adn Browning for that matter, is the forced rhyme, the strain of the work; in Browning's case the exhaustive length of "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came", the noise etc that is produced by the exhasutive effort and less-than-perfect craft ... what this produces outside of the normative economy of meaning and New Critical close reading.

I would never presume to tell you, and "others too various to bundle" how to write, but I don't buy the idea of "Truth" in poetic discourse, especially as said discouse is often so vague, ambiguous (there's the New Critics again) and affect-ridden. Nor do I claim my position in the above post as Truth, it's simply a statment of my position.

As I said above, if you like Auden, pay attention to him - I probably wont (though I may give him another look out of curiosity) simply because I don't enjoy reading him - and there's plenty of people who have and will, so I don't think he'll be lacking in scholarly attention on my part.

And as for the poets I espouse having little in common - I don't see how that's a bad thing at all - if I only read things that had a whole lot in common, I feel I'd get bored pretty quickly.

I hope you're not taking said disagreements personally, as they're not meant that way at all.



Robert McLean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ross Brighton said...

I'm not sure what you're implying about said writers "property they have come to shar[ing ...] the sort of reader who likes to mention their names without addressing specific poems." I'm also uncertain of what is to be gained by, for instance, comparing "september 1, 1939" with The Descent of Allete.

And I haven't read Ransom/Tate/Empson. I don't really feel the need to. What will I gain? The majority of my reading is done for pleasure, and if I'm not diggin' it, then my time could be spent reading something I do enjoy.

And what's "self promotion" got to do with it? I don't follow.

And I am looking for gainful employment, I'm just not finding it.



Kate Durbin said...

I like this blog entry and think you are right about Auden.

And what is pink noise? Is that the noise the gurlesque poets make?

Robert McLean said...
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Ross Brighton said...

Kate - Thanks, and it could well be. its also an album by Junko and Mattin.

Robert -
I didn't mean to be condescending at all - you sounded pissed off and I was trying to aliviate that.

The Truth thing comes from our various convesations, where you have said that you don't care about langpo stuff etc, and that you're interested in tellin the truth/poems that contain truth etc. Maybe I don't understand you.

As for my disparaging of New Crit, I know the basicsfrom school and uni etc, but have come to find it distasteful after discoving other means of criticism, most notably Deleuze and Gutarri's Minor Literature project, and Lisa Sameuls and Jerome McGann's Deformance and Interpretation. I haven't read teh primary texts because I haven't wanted to/had the time. When it comes to such things I am (more than) a little flippant, I know; but at least I am being honest (I hope).

The "don't take it personally" shouldn't be interpreted as a jab - you'd be surprised at how many people do, and people with far more critical grounding/theory etc. I didn't mean anything of the sort.

Andrea said...

Some interesting points raised in this discussion. I don't have much to add other than that I've always been a little suspicious about the idea of "truth" in art.

I also think the messy and chaotic are just as valuable as the ordered and the beautiful and can even be just that in their own way.