The Weekly Fenwick Fenestration
Today's fenestration demonstration opens a window on What is Literature?
1. Cultural politics (how we live together) determines literary politics. Not in a linear-Marxist way, but simply because most literary efforts express the experience & viewpoints & opinions of particular social groups. Literature is not strictly defined by cultural identity, but the latter is certainly a big influence. The most valuable literature offers a critical & evaluative reflection of exactly such concrete backgrounds.
2. Literary politics, & literature itself, consists, mostly, of masks, protective coloring, camouflage, and illusion. It is cultural politics (relatively less-mediated, relatively direct personal experience) - not literary politics - which moves, challenges, frightens, inspires, motivates people. Literary politics is generally an escape from & compensation for cultural politics.
3. To speak of mainstream vs. avant-garde literature is to refer to an imaginary divide within a sphere of literary production which represents, on the whole, an extremely narrow band of prior cultural politics. To dwell on this supposed schism is to displace the pressure of real experience, of real cultural-political dilemmas and schisms.
4. The motor of the narrative sequence, the plot, of the poem Stubborn Grew - the Guide, the Hermetic psychopomp, the "Virgil" to the narrator's "Dante" - appears to be a ghostly voodoo Native/African-American possibly gay half-crazed possibly ex-con street person (Bluejay). He guides "Henry" throught the bowels & rear of the "whited sepulchre", the Atheneum, a building representing cultural "establishment" (supported, paradoxically, on the pillars of the infernal literary pride of Poe & Pound) - echoing Virgil's guidance of Dante through the anus of Satan.