Notes Toward & So On (5)

The image, the image... I bump up against the limits of my own vocabulary. One falls back into imagining some kind of neorealism, some one-to-one correspondence between the poet's picture & the "real thing". But this is definitely not what I'm talking about. It's not simply a perceptual flash, as in Imagism, or a familiar recounting, as in a realist novel or an anecdotal lyric or a memoir. "Symbol", as I mentioned, is perhaps a more appropriate word for what I'm talking about - a poetic whole which resonates with meaning in different directions, because it speaks from and to the experiential knowledge & feeling of its readers or listeners.

Take a look at Allen Bramhall's post of today. On first glance one is struck by the rather jarring dissonance between this kind of writing, and the "project" for poetry I have been describing. It's difficult here to pick out any kind of familiar "objective correlative", or synthesis of logic & impression. Yet obviously Allen is drawing on & pointing toward certain streams of writing, Whitman to the present. & he's engaged in a kind of poetry-making - a particular manner - which is not so concerned with representation as with pure creation : a kind of happy expressionism, which follows words in their sentences where they lead - resulting in continual surprise. However, if you look more carefully at this kind of writing, you recognize that under and around the sort of free jazz improvisation float the shadows & edges of both arguments (statements about how things are) and feelings (the emotions which words & their connotations evoke). The improvisation and the "mix", the "surround", go together, mutually encourage each other. And the whole leads in the direction of a sort of phantom impression or pseudo-argument (A = A) - self-defining, self-defending - an enjoyable end-in-itself.

Think, in this regard, with what Crane did with the Brooklyn Bridge. Despite the fact that he wrote parts of The Bridge from an apartment looking out on the actual bridge itself - an apartment once occupied by Roebling, the bridge's architect - Crane's goal was not to reiterate what was already known, or memorialize an already-existing history. Crane's purpose was symbolic. In the Brooklyn Bridge he had found a correlative for the real subject of his poem, which is too complex to be paraphrased. The bridge is a symbol for a metaphysical unity (a kind of time-transcending Bergsonian vital Beauty) for which poetry - Crane's "single, never-before-spoken Word" - is itself a more encompassing symbol or counterpart : creation's end-in-itself.

The poem of the "resonant symbol" which I am promoting, has less to do with 2-dimensional image-making, than with multidimensional "speaking pictures" : the fusion or synthesis of impressions into a unified complexity. At the root of speaking lies the cognitive (logical) image or impression - a paradoxical synthesis, which is the poem's underlying bone structure, its "argument". (Again, note how the scale of values differs, here, from that postmodern "indeterminacy" we have come to know so well.)

No comments: