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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, August 18, 2010

Brackets

Going through my uncompleted work I'll find phrases in brackets, like "[not the distinction between high and popular culture that interests me, but rather the difference between an approach centered on thinking and another centered on performance and lived experience]." This means that I've had an idea for what should go there but haven't bothered to write a complete sentence. I guess it would be easy enough to make it complete:
It is not the distinction between high and popular culture that interests me, but rather the difference between an approach centered on thinking and another centered on performance and lived experience.

[wipes sweat from brow]

I'd have to change a few more things to make it a good sentence: eliminate the inelegant repetition of "centered on," flesh it out a bit to make it less cryptic. What I mean is that I am not particularly concerned with breaking down the division between high and low in a way that has already happened in cultural studies, but pointing to a more subtle distinction.

Here is the context, the sentences that immediately precede this incomplete sentence:
Modern poetry is a serious tradition, requiring a criticism that rises to a certain intellectual level. At the same time, however, my interest in the performance of poetry has led me to view it as an art-form closely allied with music. This does not mean, of course, that the musical and performative aspects of the poetic art are not, also, intellectual in their own way. I would argue, however, that the critical tools needed to analyze, say, José Ángel Valente’s debt to the philosophy of Miguel de Unamuno and María Zambrano seem very different from those that come into play when looking at the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen’s translation and musical adaptation of a poem by Federico García Lorca, in his song “Take This Waltz.”

2 comments:

Andrew Shields said...

I would argue that "I would argue" can be crossed out (along with the following "that") without any loss to the paragraph.

But then I also remember your comment (here or on Bemsha Swing, I'm not sure where) about using the standard phraseology of one's field, which currently includes "I would argue," among other things.

Jonathan said...

I felt I needed some such metadiscursive signposting right in that spot, but maybe "I would point out" would be less pretentious.