Gee-Whee & Bon-Bon were down at the Boathouse this morning, where Gee-Whee was trying to untangle some fishing line that had gotten snarled around his little dog Guppy's ankle, & Bon-Bon was taking notes on the bat colony under the roof (hoping that the geometrical arrangement of sleeping bats might help him organize his catalogue system for reading the 1700 types of poetry he had identified on his sagging bookshelf). As they worked at their respective chores, they had a little chat about Henry's latest "post" on his "blog", which was getting a lot of attention around the world (the world of Grand Fenwick, that is).
BB: These bats seem to form some sort of nonlinear dynamic pattern... a pattern which I can't see from here.
GW: & I can't get this darn knot untied, either.
BB: Did you read Henry's blog this morning? He doesn't sound like his old art for art's sake effete self. He's contradicting himself. He's saying literature is a social construct, or something like that.
GW: Are you getting jealous, Bon-Bon? That he won the 2002 Litter Medal?
BB: Why should I be jealous? I won it myself in 2003! We rotate the medal, you know, Gee-Whee. This year is Baldwin's turn. Henry gets it again in 2005. Nothing to be jealous about. No, I was just surprised.
GW: You needn't be, B-B. Look more closely at what he wrote. He didn't say that literature was determined by social forces, "cultural politics". He said that "literary POLITICS", not literature per se, is determined by culture.
BB: Sounds like a mere quibble; a putative, ostensible distinction; without substance, however.
GW: Remember, Henry is a disciple of OSIP MANDELSHTAM. M. maintained a distinction between poetry and what he called "literature", or "official literature". The authoritarian nature of Soviet government brought home to him, with absolute clarity, the coercive power of cultural politics. Poetry, on the other hand, was "a stone fallen from heaven", free from determinism of any sort. M.'s "poetry" equals Henry's "literature"; M.'s "literature" equals Henry's "cultural politics".
BB: this dual-use term "literature" is awfully confusing, Gee-Whee.
GW: Literary politics, sez H., is a kind of faulty hearing, a white noise (likely caused by ear-wax), a listening which is actually a sounding-off, a yelling, a badgering. Literary politics is the aggressive self-assertion of cultural politics, dressed in the masks & get-up of art. Literary politics latches onto the free constellations of artistic imagination and integrity like a leech, like a parasitical growth.
BB: This is why, here in Grand Fenwick, we have the annual Fenwick-Failieure Medal Award for Litter. The calm annual triune circling of that honor amongst the three of us, Balwin, Henry, & Bon-Bon, serves to protect the august autonomy of Literature from any taint of venal interest.
GW: I'm so happy to hear that, Bob-Bon.
[Clumping sound along dock outside boathouse.]
Henry [peering down into boathouse]: Hey fellows - has anyone seen my copy of Rod & Reel?