Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Dan Green

Jacob: I'm not sure where the word "neutrality" is coming from in your comment. I don't use it, nor does Silliman. He contends the New Critics are claiming a false objectivity, which is not the same thing. I don't think I know what it means to be "aesthetically neutral."

Jacob Russell

I'm not sure myself as I don't see my comment and don't much remember it. Think I wrote that after a long post-reading evening at Dirty Franks. Probably referred to the assumption of an orthodoxy that believes it needs no label because it is the is... and everything else is a self-limited other, the way speakers from elsewhere have 'accents,' and locals just speak plain English. One of the ways Silliman explains what he means by the School of Quietude. If that's what I meant, aesthetic neutrality's not a very good term for it.

Jacob Russell

Ah, my comment followed the wrong thread. It was a long night.

I think I used 'neutrality' because, frankly, I was at a loss for the right word. "Objective" ... not quite there... the pretense of a disinterested stance. The privileging of methodology as such, such that methodology offers itself as replacement of everything that smacks of the personal and idiosyncratic. "Reading" as DISengagement from the poem (by rendering the poem as pure text).

Which is not even close to Silliman's complaints about the New Critics. Describes, in fact, as you point out, how much of the New Critics live on in his own close readings.


I agree, attention must be paid as the Old Reviewer used to say in his lopsided wisdoms. To the irregular, the personal, the coincidental inside and outside of the 'text' and there is only co-modification when the reader agrees to co-modify it into an exchange. Persons hoping however for a profitable conduit will only find profit in others who profit in the same ways from the poem. Some want a kick and others a punch, some just a relaxing foray into the observation of another somewhere else. The way we gawk at mountains we never hope to see or stars we know we can never visit. The poet as such then ought to be a brave walker and familiar with the 'fluidities' that Silliman hopes to digress upon. Are they truly fluidities or just repetitions though. Are they sloshing or flowing? Stagnating even? Hmm. And for that matter, the agreement of the reader to buy into that 'consciousness' isn't any bit different if the commodity is less than or more than that which is considered 'valuable' i.e. quality language known as 'literature'.

Organization of such information into literature...well it isn't a revelation. It is a fact that unfortunately such schools of thought (jumaa) have blood on their hands when it comes to the generation of false commondities in even more false markets.

The lemon squeezing of a poem however into its various parts sans any intention is not only impossible to write but it is also impossible to read as such. That a form exists for each poem and a style (perhaps) for each poet...well. That's where the poet loses not only an audience but a whole generation and circumambulates the whole of poetic narcissism in order to generate just enough of an income ($ or praise) with an ever increasing and enthralled audience composed of only Z-reading fanatics. Horrifyingly.....this is the role of the higher education model which 'produces' artists rather than finding them. It is bought and paid for and often enough through a loan that has to be repaid. Nothing could be more suidical for the artform itself...elevating even plagiarists and rejecting the occultist who knows exactly where to hide from the martyrdom of writing 'to the audience' instead of altruistically to the self.

Forcing the consciousness issue into further Of what exactly? If not truth then beauty and if not beauty then ugliness and if not then relativity to the text itself aka historicism of the time i.e. the knowledge of the Ages versus the one of the Age and the public space is quite polluted with observations of the conscious sentient beings out there (poets supposedly rather than mere journalists elevated to the pedestal of literati who are not only too young to know the Ages but even the Age in which they live... that cannot be interpreted by the ignorant majority. It is no surprise to me then that the majority might subsist on a diet of bark and sand.

As for the criticism of same, well. It occurs to me that a person in denial of the facts ought not sit in judgement of those facts and especially one who believes that consciousness is a good substitute for the meat and potatoes of 'poetry' which has always depended on the crop called equity with the truth if not truth itself.


Since we're all, whether writing or criticizing, doing "translatations of the real, inaccurate and complete," then we should all be bowing our heads in humility.

I miss seeing the comment here of someone whose head is never bowed: Frances.

Frances Madeson

Just now, when we
Bowed our heads together,
We were praying.
Were you here?
“Were you there?” our Lord said
On the Tree.
Or did you stray–
Maybe pondering
Which seed to buy, or where
To buy it from, what land
You’d put in first?
Ladies, were you
Cooking in your heads
Or dusting house?

Only a brilliant and sly poet could write such a dumb preacher, thinking his Ladies' reveries are about housekeeping.

Re: my missing comment: never fear, I hurled some pixels but they didn't stick. Turns out Articulating a Poetics was a listening experience rather than a gabbing one, and an enjoyable one at that. The thing about Jacob is, even his outtakes are breathtaking. Or as I think about his comments here--”misspoke” as “bespoke” --not a Taylorized thought spinning its wheels in that well-shaped urn of a head of his. Some lucky scribe should be assigned to follow that dog around taking dictation. A simple enough job description: Whatever he utters (no matter how seemingly nonsensical), write it down. We'll sort it out later!

(Shelley, Wish you'd pay a visit to the N*Y*C. I'd love to see the landscape through your extraordinary eyes. Bring your daughter!)

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