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09/10/2008

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Steven Augustine

There is something anal, airless, turgid (yet oh so oppressively fey) about the greater discussion. Poetry and its masturbatory little cloisters. The endless, quasi-Mendelian taxonomies; expertise as the aging ersatz for illumination. Silliman's jargons and genealogies are a dayglo burlesque of the Stalinist bureacracy... a maze of specializations in which the work is not the point, the point is keeping busy. Poetry: its own parodic epitaph.

Wherever the practise is still vital is wherever they haven't read learned disquisitions on the practise. Some fourth-world yokel scratching away on a legal pad, perhaps. Yes, somewhere, I imagine, some young person is reading a poem or a short story and getting goosebumps and not, thank god, knowing why.

The Wandering Jew

I'm with you, Augustine - and I'm surprised to hear this kind of thing from Silliman, whose own poems have an experimentalism that feels instinctual rather than academic. I guess selfconsciousness can strike anyone, like rust.

Dan Green

What kind of thing is "this kind of thing"?

Leon

Wonderful article. I love your blog by the way.

Nigel Beale

"expansion of available approaches to the form, an increase of insight into the variety of its possibilities"

This has been the constant call of your blog. Perhaps time could be spent providing some insight into the 'possibilities'..?

Fine to condemn the status quo, and to express hope for expansion of approaches to the form, but this is the same tune I've been hearing ever since I started visiting here a year or more ago.

Dan Green

Each time I review an experimental novel or collection of stories I'm attempting to provide insight into those possibilities. Certainly I don't always know what they are in advance.

Why would I change the tune if it's what I believe?

Chris

Insight into possibilities:

Abish
Acker
Barth
Barthelme
Beckett
Bernhard
Borges
Calvino
Carter
Coover
Cortazar
DeLillo
Dixon
Doctorow
Dos Passos,
Etc.

This isn't intended as an arch reply -- with few exceptions, the work of such indisputably influential authors (and, obviously, hundreds of others) is only occasionally mentioned alongside more conventional measures of literary excellence. Such work itself proffers possibilities, possibilities immediately apparent to writers who read it, once they've found it, which it's relatively difficult for them to do, since the work isn't discussed as frequently as the work of (say) Updike, or is discussed (as with DeLillo) exclusively in terms of the writer's ideas about society and life, rather than his or her approaches to form and language.

I don't think Dan's "tune" has ever been to urge forth more experimentation, or to assess experimentation in a way that allows us to encyclopedically catalog its various "possibilities." I think Dan's more frequently pointed out what may charitably be described as shortcomings in the systemic approach to reviewing and teaching books, flaws in an overall discussion that assumes the existence of a norm, grants acceptable deviations from the norm, and condemns other deviations from the norm.

the wandering jew

By "this kind of thing" I meant "excessive taxonomy, seemingly for its own sake."

Dan Green

"excessive taxonomy"

I guess I don't see much taxonomy in Ron Silliman's post.

What Chris said.

Schopenhauer's Bloody Knuckles

have you ever thought of expanding on some of these posts and publishing a book of criticism? or would that betray the blogosphere? It seems like you could write an interesting bit of criticism in favor of expirimental fiction and discussing the flaws of industry and creative writing programs (dear god!)..

Have you ever been contacted by any literary agents/editors/journals etc? Id be suprised if no one has made any contact with you about getting some of these ideas published.

this is the only blog i read with any regularity, and everytime i vist it has at least a few great posts; thanks.

Dan Green

I am contacted from time to time to do book reviews, but suffice it to say that the "book business" isn't much interested in what I have to say.

I am, however, looking into the possibility of publishing an e-book version of some of the posts on this blog, perhaps somewhat edited and expanded, etc.

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