What's new?

Seth Abramson compiles a grand list of some of the wee corruptions of the literary profession (Poetryland version), here. A good-intentioned list of good intentions gone awry, I guess. I remember thinking & saying similar things (if not so well) 10-15 yrs ago.

But then I suppose the alchemists of olde also had their array of petty schemes & self-serving vices, their egotisms & narcissisms & jivings & trimmings, in their day... but what we remember is that they were simply wrong most of the time - that their theories were based on myths, not scientific reasoning & experiment.

& I get the feeling today's poetry scene is much like the alchemy scene of yore... some underlying askewedness puts all those petty corruptions in the shade. I can imagine a literary culture that repents of, and washes itself clean of, all the vices on his list - purifies itself morally - yet still fails to produce any good art or poetry. It makes me think of Joseph Brodsky's provocative & Promethean assertion that ethics is determined by aesthetics. I don't really hold with this, either - but what if the fundamental problem is a failure of imagination? What if we are living in the deep shadow of the mythos-styles of the late 19th and 20th century - or a conservative reaction against these styles - resulting in the manufacture of cultural cliches on an industrial scale? I'm thinking of the shadow (the great Poe-ish raven-shadow) of the Baudelarian anti-hero & flaneur-dandy : the Dostoyevskian underground man : the Camusian Rebel : the Joycean/Svevoian Chaplinesque shlemiel. We inhabit an age of the pop-culture glorification of the anti-hero & the anti-heroine, oe'rtopped with an epicene academic culture of creative 'writing" designed to memorialize the same (our wild youth) in award-winning verse & prose.... & how does a culture with such a pre-installed & -approved Mythos - a zeitgeist, a worldview - how does such encounter the authentic, the real, anymore? This I would like to know.

I wonder if artists need to turn back to the "new" - but not the packaged & certified Modern, Postmodern, or Pre-modern new - but something actually.... different.... a vision of life based on a different set of philosophical grounds, a new architectonic, or an old made new (really new)... I actually think Hart Crane & Wallace Stevens, in their different ways, were searching for these grounds, this newness : but I'm showing my old biases there, I guess...

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