Thursday, November 12, 2009

From the captain's tower

T.S.Eliot and Ezra Pound weren't friends of democracy,but they did their own style of the mash up --classical and pop styles and a preferring a diffusion of coherence rather than writing a series of unifying metaphors--in ways that would better express their idea of the fracturing of reality and the destruction of purpose in culture. Someone had said that poetry was "news that stayed news", and some of us in the later decades saw fit to use that a declaration about the merging of Art and History , in the immediate guise of the New Journalists, our recent examples being Mailer, Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Gay Talese.The New Journalists weren't really the mob--mobs cannot , by nature, be democratic nor fair nor be able to devise a fair and just politics. I'd say they were more the guys at the end of the bar who stopped opining about the way things ought to be and got off the bar seat to enter an argument that started without them; they were going to straighten folks out. As it goes, they did provide an interesting altnerative narrative line to what gets called the Movement of History, a choice , up close view of the insanity, the ugliness and the egomania that was chewing at the margins of the Great Society and it's aftershock.

Realty is both an indvidual and a collective endeavor, yes; whatever it may in fact be in God's mind, we , as a species, cannot concieve of reality without a narrative line, a script. We are all stars in our own movie and everyone else is from central casting; reality is close to being a multiplex theatre with very thin walls between the auditoriums. Dialogue and sound effects bleed into each other's plot lines. Pound and Eliot are interesting contrasts, one a windbag, a blowhard,a buttinski, a motor-mouthing gab-bag who happened to have some brilliant notions of how poetry can be made aesthetically and personally viable again, the other being a depressed, crabby, self conciously rigid individual who's view of the cracked surface of culture gave us some haunting images that perfectly convey the despair and longing decades after they were written.

Both were closet autocrats, of course, and very conservative--neither was a fan of corporations nor capitalism, and it wouldn't be so hard to imagine the current strains of the right wing characterizing these fellows as left wingers. A strange set of long-view bed fellows; two anti-semetic, totalitarian inclined poets who wind up writing stuff that dovetail comfortably with a Marxist analysis on the effect of capital on human relationships. Everyone brings their own dynamite to this party, blowing up the same thing for the same reason, but with each with a Jesus of a different name.

1 comment:

  1. Mark Farner's lyrics are obviously derived from Eliot -- ever notice that? Parts of Mark, Don and Mel are highly reminiscent of "J. Alfred Prufrock," in terms of their interstitial heft and between-syllabic grind. Farner looked better with his shirt off, though Tom had a neck like nobody's business.


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