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

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

trying to stop ranting about the Langpos

It's no surprise to me to realize that I rant & rave. It feels good in the moment; if I change my mind later I feel no shame in saying so. My vociferousness does lead me into overstatement at times, and I do regret that. Will try to keep that in check. Temperance, brothers and sisters, temperance!

After all, we're talking about poetry here! Mustn't let our emotions or our rhetoric run away with us!

Mustn't. Acckk, cut the shmarcasm already -- overstatement can be unfair and hurt people's feelings, what's the point in that?

If I've hurt your feelings, I'm sorry.

Straightforward plea: If I have misconstrued the Langpos' critique of the "commodification of language," somebody please set me straight. I will thank you for it. Honest. I can give you references of people who have corrected my misunderstandings and misapprehensions; they will tell you that I didn't bite their typing fingers off and that indeed I thanked them.

[aside note: upon re-reading I see that I got apostrophes wrong all over last night's rant. the recovering proofreader within reaches for the blue pencil. but I'm not going back and fixing. if you want to quote or reprint, let me know & I'll fix.]

I have enjoyed many passages and lines, and sometimes whole pieces, by various Langpos.

Christopher Nealon's essay that inspired last night's rant does say more about what the Langpos were getting at in their rejection of closure. One of the strategies involved avoiding genre markers. As I have posted before, I'm skeptical of such claims. Langpo in general feels like lyric to me, specifically meditative lyric. Even when pieces deliberately avoid a consistent point of view, more often than not they reflect a consistent feeling about the world, and as the cliche of poetry goes, it's more about feeling than information. In general, I feel the Langpos reflecting dour, sour feelings about life. Their poetics, in general, reflect this. Not the exuberant multiplicity of language, but the negative, scolding turning away from rhetorical strategies that have been despoiled by society. Not a step toward, but a step away.

Nealon points out that the post-Langpos by and large feel cheerier, stepping toward our culture's too-much-ness more embracingly, if also with a sense of irony about it.

Nealon also mentions what he calls Ashbery's feeling about the "pathos of conceptualization." This rings me right. Why I usually don't like Ashbery -- the dolorous tone (even when he's witty). To me, Conceptualization, like Language, is the stuff of comedy. If you connect, that's a happy (temporary) ending (closure!); if you misconnect, disconnect, or otherwise fail to connect, that's a slip of the banana peel. Euripides knocks my socks off too; I understand the tragic possibilities of miscommunication (there's a specific name for it as practiced by Euripides that I'm forgetting); I, yup, connect with the tragic connotations in the Dionysian tearing apart (hello, Bacchae; hi Mom!).

Still haven't read the whole Nealon essay. Will get there.

As a gesture of my good faith interest in non-denotative language, I'm posting a lyric from a song I wrote several years ago that only played a couple times but have been thinking of resurrecting now for my band -- the bass player could sing it better than I ever could. [Edit: this is not the song I originally posted here, but one I thought of after.] The bare words on the page lose the emotional whatever of the music and the tone of voice that singing can convey. If you read it and think, what a terrible poem, please understand, I didn't write it as a poem to be read, but as a song to be heard.

struction romp through force and feel
burning sweeter than a streudel
how much farce do steak bake yield?
just can't get it through my noodle

streets of fire and streets of voters
piercing fiercer than a poodle
great green bashful self-promoters
just can't get it through my noodle

is amor amoral?
what if an abbess is abysmal?
why is a quarry full of quarrel?
why does a schism feel so dismal?

pulling harder than a coal train
sheets of sound, kit and kaboodle
A-train, el-train, love train, soul train
just can't get it through my noodle

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