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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

10 Things about Me

The idea is to guess which 2 of these 10 things is false.  The prize is free lifetime access to SMT.

1. I never graduated from high school.

2. I wear a hat almost everywhere I go.

3. I am a huge opera fan.

4. I have an extensive collection of books from the New York School of Poetry, almost every book written by Ashbery, Koch, O'Hara, Guest, Schuyler, and many of the 2nd generation, like Berrigan, Padgett, Shapiro.

5. I suffered from very intense "ear worm" in adolescence, especially with phrases from poems.

6. I often eat salad for breakfast.

7. I have lived in four states: California, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio.

8. I have had coffee almost every day of my life since I was 17.

9. While a child of the sixties and seventies, I have had very little interest in Rock music for most of my life.

10. I didn't go to any Spanish speaking country aside from Spain until I was in my 50s.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Frameworks: late night thoughts

There are several models we might consider.

*Your main problem is your enemies.
*Your source of obstacles is your rivals.
*Your problem is a system or set of circumstances that is rigged against you.
*Your problem is your own self or behavior.
*It is something else? Random events? Sheer luck or the lack of it?

Any of these frameworks might be correct for a given problem. I don't think I have enemies to speak of, and if I do I don't think they are doing much harm to me. My rivals aren't hurting me. I might envy Christopher Maurer and Andrew Anderson their superior knowledge of Lorca, but nothing they do holds me back in any way, and in fact it furthers my own ends.

The system is rigged in my favor so it's not that.

So in my case the majority of barriers to productivity are self-generated. And, frankly, I am productive so even here these barriers cannot be all that frightening.  Yet I find that they are... I'm publishing my book later than I thought it would come out, for example.








Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Barthes on Racine

Racine's theater is highly stylized and formulaic. As formulaic and rule-driven as a soap opera. All Barthes does is point out the patterns. He is not even that psychoanalytic, considering Racine's obsession with kinship, incest, and rivalry (once again, like the soap opera plots). It is hard to see what Barthes would have seemed so controversial: he isn't even applying a structuralist method to Racine, as much as he is pointing out parallelisms and recurring structures. I'm almost finished reading Sur Racine, with only the analyses of the individual plays remaining. Here he intelligently discusses each play and looks for its distinctiveness within the rule-bound structures. Like any intelligent critic ought to do. He never seems to be forcing a plot into a particular interpretative straight-jacket.

What was all the fuss about? Was there really that much difference between Barthes and his detractors?

memorization: a dream

I was surprised in my dream that someone was reciting poems from memory and I was able to match him word for word. So he would be saying "Buffalo Bill's defunct who used to shoot a watersmooth silver pistol and kill onetwothreefour pigeons just like that Jesus he was a handsome man..." and I would be saying it along with him as fast as he could go. We went through several poems. It is unclear whether I or he was initiating the poems, but I was sure I wasn't going to do an easy one like 'so much depends upon the red wheel / barrow..."  I was sitting down talking to someone in the English department and this other poetry reciter was standing near us. Suddenly they left and I woke up.

Competition against the self? After all, the reason I knew all the poems he did was that it was my dream...

Suite

I've discovered I can combine two songs with similar concepts into one longer suite. Then I don't have to worry that two songs are too similar to each other: they are sections of the same composition. They can have contrasting rhythms but be linked by being in the same key and by using some of the same harmonic devices.

Then a problem--all my songs written within month or two sound the same--turns into its own solution. I can also add on to songs written in the past.