Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jack Spicer speaks to 9/11

Ron Silliman commemorated the 9/11 anniversary on his blog yesterday with a gruesome photograph of ground zero with two poems by Jack Spicer superimposed over the carnage. It understandably caused a minor tempest among a few readers who thought we'd had enough fetishism over the attack, and that it was a use of Spicer's work the late poet might not have approved of. I thought it fine and appropriate; Spicer equated God with a Big Radio, and seemed taken with the idea of a poet's inspiration being transmissions from far off places, old voices of dead poets in turn who find their metaphors turned into apt descriptions of current circumstances. By the time the hidden essence, the secret nuance of what a poet was talking about catches with a culture's experience, their original intent, while interesting, is not relevant as to how their words make our lives comprehensible, even if only on a visceral level. You could argue that the correlative intimations older poems have on the range of contemporary events is coincidental irony, but there is a saturation point when the lines, intended for what's implied, hushed and only vaguely graspable on the specific subject, become instead the needed at-hand phrases that get the ideas that elude you when tragedies or windfalls of good fortune intervene on the come-and-go. The poet loses control of what his poet is supposed to mean as history adds associations to the syntactical skin. Spicer, I suspect, might well object to the use, but there is a savage bluntness about poets and their varied attempts to find a greater resonance from the obscenity of violence that resonates loudly with what we're remembering today. What Spicer intended is a moot point, and in this instance, inconsequential. Today was the day everything changed, as the overused phrase went, and that meant everyone had to take a hard look at who they were, who they said they were, and why that mattered in the face of such insane destruction. Spicer, not the least, likely would have considered long and hard; there is the notion that what you've said in a situation you want to clarify gets repeated against seemingly opposing backgrounds. The voices from out of the air, from the radio of memory, are triggered by extraordinary events that transform our regular which, after all, are not static in any sense. Silliman's collage is an inspired combination of histories; they are no longer mutually exclusive.

1 comment:

  1. "Lord Buckley Reads The Names of The Departed"

    (via Uncle Ray)

    "Mr. Reebadeedeeb. Mr. Beebadabeeb. Miss Ruby DoBob. Mr. Langlang. Mr. Dangdang. Mr. Bo Doakie. Mr. U. Reeka. Mrs. Boza-beaka. Mr. O. Roni. Mr. B. Loney. Mr. Joe Don Looney. Mr. Buf Fooney. Prince Pops DeClutch. Lord Ralph Hard. Mr. Billy Sol Estes. Miss Mae Westes. Lady Chicken Whopper. Mr. Karazor. Mr. Doo-dad. Mr. Oh Daddy. Mr. Dog Gone. Mr. Lester Lewd. Mr. Nude Dude. Missy Tattooed. Mr. Bill from Billville. Lord Benny Hill. Lady Doe of Dill. Mr. Diamond in the Back. Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick. Mr. Patrick Fitzmichael. Mr. Doctor Gonehead. Mr. Octagon Head. Mr. Slap DeLap. Mrs. Squeeze DeWeeze. Mr. Cy Gone. Mr. Hip Gahn. Mr. Arpie Ehm. Mr. Bag O'Plegm. Princess E. Pock. Mr. Swingin' Doc. Mrs. Bored Walk. Major Darned Sock. Mrs. Croaker Sacks. Miss Foxy Chickenheart. Mr. Duane DeWayne. Mr. Uppity Drain. Miss Sweet Refrain. Mrs. Not-so-sweet Lorraine. Mr. Bruce Wayne. Mr. Bruce Lee. Miss Peggy Lee. Mr. Junior Junior. Miss Olive Oyl. Mr. Peter Boyle. Master Sweetpea Dinger. Miss Annie Rexic. Mr. Brutus D. Fruitus. Mrs. Rose Hose. Mr. Hose Rose. Mrs. Baby Ruth. Lord Most-Unkooth. Mr. Plymouth Rock. Blue Baby Doc. Benjy "The Man" Spock. Coach Maximum Roach. Mr. Clown Loach. Mr. Eggs Unpoached. Mrs. Eggs Untouched. Mr. Wells Fargo. Prince Orson Welles. Princess Single Malt. Major Double Clutch. High Sheriff Dutch Schultz. Mr. Clang-Clang Firehouse. Mrs. Ghost Rider. Mr. Smith Sonian. Mrs. Smooch DePooch. Corporal Blowtorch Whitegas. Mrs. Frankie Guggenheim. General MacArthur G. Rant. Princess Fo Bia Dark-Ness. Mr. Babe Di Blu. Mr. Ox-Whistle True. Prince Whiski-Man-Nu. Princess Jamoka-Gotta-Shake. Lord Justta Brown-Snake. Mahatma Steppin-Onna-Rake. Tarzan Inda-Aire. Mrs. Jane Knott-Kare. Prince Gotta Squeegee. Mr. Speedo-Weegee. Major John Dillinger-Glitch. Dr. Sapphire-Wannahitch. Dr. Roland Brungastritch. Mrs. Hydee Hideeho. Reverend Oly Oleo. Prince Oliver of Twist. Mrs. Milfor DeGrist. Nurse Pyon Neer-Chikkin. Master Bobby Shakin-Bakes. Mrs. Hootie Twin of Twin Lakes. Princess Nessie of The Lock. Stallion Hickory of the Dickery Dock. General Likkin Stick. Princess Rumble Seat. Major Tumbler Neet. Sheik Tent Allkreep. Mrs. Jackie Pynk-Pillbox. Governor Dallas Lincoln-Fogg. Senator Skip DeBridge."


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