Much is being made on the Poetry Foundation blog (Harriet) over issues of sexism, fairness, marginalization etc. within both mainstream and "avant-garde" sectors of Poetry World. Lots of articulate braininess and high-octane critical thinking on full display.

As somebody writing on the extreme margins of the Marginal, I am sceptical, perhaps cynical about all this right & righteous thinking. I recognize that cynicism/curmudgeonliness is a self-defeating vicious circle (see Edmund Wilson's essay on Ben Jonson's "anal" personality, for a classic diagnosis of this feature of po-biz).

Nevertheless I can't help thinking that this is one of those areas where the path of good intentions leads straight to, etc. Everything gets over-complicated (like most of our popular technology these days) when sociological analysis or a demand for justice tries to take people's snobbery & pecking-orders and scheming ambitions & self-interest - as a whole - to the cleaners.

I guess my feeling is that these crummy behaviors will always be with us. And it's part of the miracle & glory of the aesthetic experience itself to trump them all, without all the well-meant tinkering and interventions. Aesthetic response relies solely on personal and public taste. The art that pleases, informs and enlightens is the art that wins out in the end - because it's what people are looking for.

This is just another way of saying that I have a great deal of naive faith in aesthetic detachment; the ordinary reader; the unknown interlocutor. Without that primary relationship between artist, art and audience - why bother with all those other games, all that social engineering? We have to have a baseline of trust that editors and publishers also have some dim sense of the basic aesthetic experience and encounter - and know how to capitalize on it, for better & worse.

No comments: