David, OK, I'm laughing. . . but I'm probably much bigger than you so be careful around the Rock.
I recognize that, as you say, Josh is pretty much responsible for setting the words/imagination dichotomy in motion. But you wuz so busy beLITTLing me that you wuz unwilling to take an interest in the particular description of the imagination/words relation I was providing. Maybe there is a big foolishness in saying what "poetry is. . .", but how do my attempts differ from Stevens's, except in being too prolix (which I admit is a gigantic difference)? Stevens said "Poetry is a pheasant." That's good enough for me.
" Okay, since you seem to want to argue this point further, let's take a look at the
history of this edgy debate. Josh Corey was responding to a post in which I wrote:
"I've always admired this phrase from Stevens -- 'the morality of the right
sensation' -- with which he ended a talk on poetry. I don't think there's anything
by Stevens I've read that I didn't like, even when it bored me.
Any writer who honors the imagination, the sensuality of the mind and perception,
as much as him -- Wilde, Lorca, Williams, Benjamin, some Stein, Nietzsche, Jimi
Hendrix, to shout out some names -- has my undying devotion.
Why I find the continual emphasis on language, the politics of language,
I do not see any definitions in that post, except the one implied by Stevens'
words*. From this Josh extrapolates that I believe that all poetry -- and notice
that I mention not only a few writers who mostly wrote prose but also a musician
-- comes from the imagination. I don't know where it comes from and maybe, like
Jennifer Moxley, don't care or would rather not know. I am merely stating my love
for poets and artists of a certain type -- not a definition of what poetry is or isn't.
Hence my anger over Josh's practice of "talking past," in this case, me, as he likes
to put it.
Notice also, please, the 'for us'. Last year of living for us, whoever that may be. It
will be many people. As usual.
Laugh, Henry, or I will hunt you down in the caverns of the Rockefeller and the
Hay and calmly kill you.
* These words I heard on a cassette I have of Stevens reading (can't find it right
now), in either '54 or '55 right before his death -- reading his poems and speaking
on his belief in poetry. I don't recall him staking any universalizing claims for what
poetry is or is made of in order to counter other claims. 'A morality of the right
sensation' accurately evokes his own style. Stevens produced pages of aphoristic
and essayistic definitions of poetry. It's clear that poetics, as an activity, was for
him also a work of imagination and not reducible to any discourse."
posted by David at 3:53 PM