The Sonnets - An Eclectic Collection (Collected Poems of Hugo Searcher, Vol. 8)
This division is not so neat of course. It cannot contain, for example, Lynn Hejinian. But experimental poetry, or at least the kind that has come to dominate critical discussion, particularly in the States, has long been suspicious of the subject, the domain of the confessional. This is old news.
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However, the news stays news, we keep writing about it. A pinprick. Languages sing in their dictionaries, the covers shut, considering the soft fervor moments take on once they have passed and it is safe to rewrite them. One says, on reflection, that was such and such a moment, and perhaps another will agree. But at the time no such thing existed and in this way we are all authors.
Negotiating this split is vital. In The Idea of the Postmodern , Hans Bertens describes what he sees as the weakness of postmodernist theory as such:. The subject is important. It is important for feminism, for any political writing. There seem to be many writ- ers, particularly female writers, but more generally writers interested in political agency who are negotiating this rift.
Morris is very much careful to place her work as engaged with what would once have been seen as these two poles. As the documentation of culture, as the source material of history, and as a medium of resistance, we know that words have the power to shape us. The way that we speak to people shapes the way that they treat us, they way that we speak about ourselves creates certain permissions and impos- sibilities in our own lives.
Therefore the specific, intentioned, and pointed use of language may also constitute an attempt to change certain ideas — political or otherwise — that depend on language for their perpetuation. What the speaker is doing is articulating limita- tions, creating possibilities for surpassing them and for being a female subject in contemporary capitalist society. Bloody spray in the crest exploding over the top of a hypothetical ocean of your choice, with fear, and bark, and possibly bovine mince.
Why did you say it that way why did you not tell him that it was a fire in your heart, acanthus. The last line, without wishing to universalize beauty too far, is to me obviously beautiful in a way that the lines about desire, fashion, anorexia and bovine mince are not and it is of course said by not being said, just as those lines before are not scrubbed out. If so, then what we are not getting, of course, is any easy narrative of how capitalism has destroyed love, the work is not nostalgic, but historically situated. The poems are intricately as she says, pointedly rearticulating themselves.
It is giving me a transfer from the company payroll. It is my head plugged into the socket. It is my child plugged into my breast.
It is my gender plugged into my heart, behind which leaps a fire behind which leaps its tongue of loss, its flap of need which I have no qualms about raising, why should I. Love, again, as a female subject to capitalism, is a constant theme that rearticulates itself, struggling to be spoken, and thus fis elt and enacted between the poles of tenderness and abuse. These things must be rearticulated pointedly, carefully, and specifically rather than assumed as ahistorical or natural constants. It has to be fought for. Morris here, as in her critical writings, engages, from a feminist perspective, with the work of fellow poet and critic Keston Sutherland, most clearly around ideas of how subjects disempowered by capitalism can articulate themselves.
I do not know how to make a poetic thought.
I do not know how to make a poetic thought instead of envisioned. Maybe, he says. Some things are the same though Like peeing, I say. Yes, he says, like peeing. The trees stretch their tendrils into blue heaven. The birch is a forgotten prize. I am too high up to really get at the dahlias. Just back from the past. There is never a war alone.
Years and bodies. Right where I want you. Please print out and insert for the fullest picture. We apologise both to Nicholas and Philip.
Born twenty years after Andrew Crozier, I was lucky indeed to have heard him read his poetry, and that Colin Still was there to film it. It had been said that he had renounced public readings, but, perhaps only the presence of Carl Rakosi, over from San Francisco in England in to read from The Earth Suite, made him momentarily deflect from what he had foresworn. He declined the reading he was also offered. He also declined my offer to publish a chapbook of poems. But he did agree to introduce the programme of readings, and thereby state his views on etruscan books. Eight years later I asked four poets, all connected with Andrew, to read his poetry.
He had been a close friend with John James from , had collaborated with him and had included his work in A Various Art ; he had also had a long and close association with Wendy Mulford, who had published his Printed Circuit and High Zero at her press, Street Editions. The four poets read; Colin Still presented a rough master of the reading, and recorded the afternoon reading, which had a gale running against the windows.
It is that memoir that is reproduced here. As feared, I was made literary executor for Johannes Boanerges in the summer of A chaos merchant himself, his papers were are in chaos. And yet, and yet, at each stage he was often the most brilliant of exponents for these fads which have on occasion lingered into our present. When challenged for his inconsistency he would quote Nietzsche, his favourite creative writer: If I contradict myself, well, I contradict myself.
He was happiest when promoting anti-philosophy, following in the footsteps of Lucretius, Montaigne, Nietzsche, and, on occasion, Rosset, urging us to see truth as nothing more than an army of metaphors on the march, a veil cast over the unpalatable real.
Again, I ask you, under such conditions who would relish the sentence of having the duty in their remaining years to organise what cannot be organised, represent what is beyond representation, in the hope that amongst such sift the pearls of wisdom which may yet save you, me, the planet, are to be found. The real Johannes Boanerges I am convinced will ever remain a mystery — for we can know man, but not any single man Rochefoucauld. We have the texts, and a few accomplished doodles, and in them, I believe we have much more than the facts of an extraordinary life, that was, if I may be permitted the hyperbole, the twentieth century encapsulated.
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If we do not follow the question through to a conclusion as soon as we can, or, as I would prefer to say, follow through to a compromised reconciliation that refuses to face THE TRUTH, then there will be no arrival, merely the death of another species, our own, special or otherwise the question before us.
Johannes had much to say on what it is to be human, although not quite as directly as we might wish. I am still at the early stage of ordering and cataloguing his materials, as I have said, so really the request for this essay, which I have take upon myself in his name, comes at an inopportune moment. Nevertheless, it does provide an opportunity for me to experiment with some thematic strands on which to hang the novels, poetry, pseudo-memoirs, theatre script, libretto, emails Boanerges — an early advocate , public and private letters, and other ephemera.
JB remained open to new forms throughout his life, right to the end, what fortitude! The diversification of media, the possibilities of many-to-many communication heralded by the brilliance of the Internet, he foresaw as an untrammelled force for good it always took him a decade to move on to the next big thing, so he had yet to lose his enthusiasm for electronic interconnectedness, as I had done early on. Our arguments around this were more general. He told me that different media facilitated a more rounded representation of TRUTH, not different truths, just as his resort to textual ventriloquism aided him in seeing the TRUTH from all angles.
But we know this to simply be false. Did not the telescope and the microscope — new ways of seeing — tell us that the world was different from what we believed? These did not add to the sum of human knowledge, but changed our view forever. We keep changing our views, changing our media, changing our metaphors. I would fling it in his face. I would have no choice but to leave, our arguments forever irreconcilable, but not our friendship, most importantly, for he would inevitably call me forth to dinner, prepared by his well-treated contrary to popular opinion companion and amanuensis, Victor ia.
As part of this preamble I should perhaps forestall what you might see as a natural resting point. At the age of surely he had intimations of mortality and was intent on bequeathing to humanity what was wisest and best in a conclusive, hopefully pithy, epigram. Blind for the last fifteen years of his life, the secret books are barely legible, and written more often than not in his native Livonian language. When he died, there were fewer than twenty speakers of Livonian one of the Uralic languages , although Boanerges always maintained that only he was alert to its subtleties and the others might as well be deceased for what they could bring to our understanding of the language.
It is true that on occasion my friend would attempt the Scots dialect, which he had tried to connect with the Uralic language family, but there is no evidence that this found its way into his writing. It is infuriating that we cannot ascertain with certainty his final judgement. Johannes, of course, would never have been so direct.
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That is our loss. Victor[ia] suggests that if I must insist on inserting a consonant for the smudge, then Johan could be referring to the death [or not] of the Livonian language, or Livonians. I have no truck with biographical underpinnings. I trust by that time any new information coming to light will not affect what I have to finally say about the man. I hold my tongue better to profit humanity. I will give her no more text time here. Always — on this he was insistent — he hated them.
Part I - Modes
From a young age he ate as much meat as he could. We know of his religious upbringing later rejected and how he felt in his very marrow that man truly had been given dominion over the earth, over animals. Man — more than animal, less than an angel in the Great Chain of Being — Man — Semi-Divine — chomping his way through the animal kingdom. This, Johannes maintained, God had decreed. I can only see this as a species of sarcastic pride — Socratic pride, daring by his actions to force God or the animals to retort. Even his brief and only spell in India, there as a journalist reporting on the Beatles, did nothing to convince him of the spiritual merit of vegetarianism.
But I concede Victor ia may be right at least on this point.