Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I’m peripherally involved in a few different discussion groups on the arts, and parallels in conflicts just occurred to me.

In contemporary classical composition, there’s the split between Uptown and Downtown. (Manhattan, that is -- and no, “Uptown” doesn’t mean Harlem, unlike in that Girl Group song.)

In contemporary poetry, a split exists between what poet and blogger Ron Silliman calls the “post-avant” and the School of Quietude. I’d heard of this split more than 20 years before I’d heard Ron’s name for it.

In both of these splits, the group that has generally better connections to institutional support denies that the split exists.

Unlike the first two, the third split is more between critics than between artists. It’s the rock / pop split in popular music. Which I’ve been writing about. Too much too.

(I’m mulling over the poetry split, but am not ready to go whole hog on it. [When writing about poetry, the more cliches the merrier!] I was struck by Ron Silliman's description of contemporary poetic practice, particularly its silence in the face of the "noisiest" of contemporary poetic practices -- the poetry slam. One of these days I’ll get to articulating my half-formed thoughts on the American avant-garde’s debt to Ezra Pound, who liberated free verse from the oratorical strain of Whitman and Sandburg, and set it off in a more meditative [quiet!] direction. Ginsberg is in the oratorical tradition of Sandburg and Whitman, and the Slammers took cues from Ginsberg and developed a new oratorical style, often with a syntax even freer than Ginsberg’s, and more opulent use of neologisms. It seems to me that the dichotomies of Ron's "post-avant" and "School of Quietude" are both, generally speaking, in a meditative mode, which is opposed to the oratorical mode. Also, post-avants and so-called Quietudians appear to be working together to deny status to the oratorical mode, Whitman and Ginsberg excepted.)

(Sketchy, parenthetical generalizations that have been often on my mind, but which I have not been able to formulate in a fashion bold and backed-up enough to shed the shadowy parentheses.)
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