Thursday, August 5, 2010

Which came first, the poet or the activist?

















One of the perks of being employed by a taxpayer-funded discothèque is all the unsolicited swag we receive, 100% of which takes the form of *shock* the printed page. We might have gotten a t-shirt once, but since it was for Transformers 2, we threw it out. Anyway, of these pages, some in Chinese, some hawking scholarly wares or office supplies, most come in the form of literary and/or poetry journals.

The summer issue of Fence arrived yesterday & the editorial caught my fancy. 'tis perhaps a bit long for you AD-addled youth, so I'll summarize: some organization/coalition/group of slackers calling themselves The 95 Cent Skool apparently declared a jihad on an individual poetry; social poetics is the wave of the futurama. The editor proceeded to go apeshit, but intellectually.

Given how 99% of my awful verse is individual, personal, I was, on the surface, inclined to immediately agree. I'm not a smartypants but since I play one on TV & the CRT, I felt it best to dialectically dive & see if the other side was as single-minded as 'down with The Man!' (a sentiment I share) or whether the situation was a bit more complex.

Thus, a response from a member of the school skool whose seminar is now scattered to the four winds. Shorter, encore: we know change is bullshit, we just wanna hang with folks who hate The Man. Oh, personal expression takes precious time away from imaginary revolution.














C'est-à-dire, slight miscommunication of a Three's Company variety, without Mr. Furley and babes in hotpants, of course. Aside: Joyce DeWitt was the finer; go play in the street if you disagree. Raging against the machine in bricked stanzas or chronicling on stray strands the beautiful & maddening genetics of the quotidian, you, I, both sides know the inexorable, unquenchable accumulation of capital & the wages of this sin being the fuckery of everything below the penthouse will continue unabated until an ostentatiously theatrical (I hope) apocalypse of our own creation.

Think global, act local? Perhaps. Let me steal & apply famous Benjamin:

Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know.
The sphere of influence is inverse to the distance traversed. No one has more influence over me, someone I ostensibly have to know, than me -- except when the opiate of new music purchasing proves too strong. Well played, oligarchy. I have less influence over my wife & children (that's for sure), even less over city & county governments, state bwahahahaha. I won't even insult your intelligence by going any further in this mostly evidence- & anecdote-free demonstration.

My personal, obvious conclusion: write whatever the hell you want to write. The only thing you can ever hope to change is yourself & if you get lucky -- really really lucky -- you might be the spark for someone else's inferno. Marxist red, or lovelorn blues, that's their call.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to implicitly support the system by writing a love sonnet.

19 comments:

Christopher said...

Probably the activist.

Today I am heady, jubilant over the Federal judge decision overturning the bigoted, homophobic Prop 8 in California.

I hope all the queer-hating Mormons and Catholics who supported Prop 8 have the biggest ice cream headache ever known.

Cormac Brown said...

"My personal, obvious conclusion: write whatever the hell you want to write. The only thing you can ever hope to change is yourself & if you get lucky -- really really lucky -- you might be the spark for someone else's inferno. Marxist red, or lovelorn blues, that's their call."

Amen, Brother Randal, amen.

"I hope all the queer-hating Mormons and Catholics who supported Prop 8 have the biggest ice cream headache ever known."

Chris,

There was a comedian on Bill Maher who said it best around the time that the Illresident Shrub claimed that he was going to do an Anti-gay Marriage Amendment in order to get the Ohio vote: "Gay marriage? Why the hell not? Seriously, let gays be miserable, just like the rest of us."

Demeur said...

Graves you Bardian swine! (sorry for sounding like Tengrain) You should know we can't read more than 149 characters. We've been reduced to redneck haiku.

Liberality said...

Amen! Preach it brother! Write what you feel about passionately and then maybe that passion will spread.

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

Roses are picked
Violets are plucked
I've read your poems
Not all of 'em sucked.

Regards,

Tengrain

Tim said...

Check Please.....

Now those words are great inspiration.
Deep meaning while being variable in matter.

Randal Graves said...

christopher, good job, thanks for ruining my marriage, hope you're happy. Hmph.

cormac & liberality, two amens? I'm thinking I should start my own church. Yes, there will be tithing. Pay up.

If I told you once,
Californistan, 'twas twice:
lay off the cheap hooch.

tim, cosmic love for everyone. Except those I loathe, which is most. I'd make a bad Gandhi.

Randal Graves said...

demeur, you may have unwittingly invented a brand new genre.

Empty cans of Schlitz
check out that tube top hottie
I know it's my sis.

sunshine said...

Since I have A.D.D. ... I skipped down to your conclusion.

(I did stop and snicker at the 3's Company photo though... on my way down)

I agree. You have to write whatever you want to write about. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Chances are, there is someone else out there that "gets you".
It's also true that you might be the spark that lights someone else's fire.

I'll be waiting with bated breath for my Love Sonnet to arrive. :P

((Hugs))
Laura

TomCat said...

I'll be back.

Off topic: Randal, did you get my email about moving the league? If not check today's open thread.

Tom Harper said...

"Joyce DeWitt was the finer." Oh yeah??? Suzanne Somers is still doing infomercials. Seen or heard anything from Joyce DeWitt in the last 20 years?

A truly talented original like Suzanne Somers will be around forever; or until she starts to look 45 or so (which won't happen 'til she's 80).

Lisa said...

Oh no you din't.

I ain't writin' nothin'.

And I ain't no poet. I'm a smacktivist.

Lisa said...

Oh no you din't.

I ain't writin' nothin'.

And I ain't no poet. I'm a smacktivist.

S.W. Anderson said...

Yeah, yeah, write for the soul or for the market, depending on survival needs and skills, or desire or lack or same for others' approval.

On a more practical level, thanks for helping me understand why the ol' turbine is always such a mess.

susan said...

Write, draw, sing or dance. It's all part of upping the aesthetic level of our anaesthetic culture. So there. Poesy on :-)

Randal Graves said...

sunshine, I think you're just lazy. Are you sure you're Canadian?

tomcat, speaking of lazy, I did, I just haven't gotten around to joining up yet.

tom, oh, infomercials, there's something to be proud of, unless you're Saint Billy and he's no longer with us sniff.

lisa, beeyotch!

SWA, dead birds man, dead birds.

susan, dance? Not this white boy.

TomCat said...

Better get it done, my friend. The draft is next Saturday and I'll have to open it to the public tomorrow.

Beach Bum said...

Joyce DeWitt was the finer;

Sorry I'm late but after reading the editorial I fell into a deep coma. I agree Joyce was bay far the sexier but my preferences were always off the main stream.

I always though Betty Rubble was hotter than Wilma and that Jan Smithers on WKRP was lightyears more attractive than Loni.

Dr. Zaius said...

What kind of oranges are best for navel gazing?