Featured Post


I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Inner Sorrentino

 I feel like I am channeling my inner Sorrentino in my Queneau variations. Sorrentino like the Oulipo movement, understandably. I might have heard about it first from him. There is a chapter in one of his books (I cannot remember which, right now) that consists entirely of a list of fanciful nicknames for mafiosi. He could pull off that sort of comic tour-de-force like no one else. He was Sicilian, from Brooklyn, with an Irish mother, and he loved Joyce and Flann O'Brien. He had been an editor at Grove Press, so he witnessed, and participated in, the development of postmodern American lit. 

In him, the novelistic postmodernism came together with the poetic postmodernism in a unique way. These are, in some sense, rather separate movements, with metafictional people like John Barth one side and the Pound-Williams-Olson tradition on the other. Sorrentino was in both of these worlds. When Perloff was hired at Stanford, Levertov notoriously opposed her, because she (Perloff) liked the Language poets, but Sorrentino was in favor of bringing her on board. It is interesting how Creeley and Sorrentino welcomed the Language Poets, but Levertov did not.  

Anyway, Queneau's variations are clever, but they do not aim deliberately for comic excess. The only American member of Oulipo was Harry Mathews, so you might appreciate the difference here. Mathews is wonderful, but not someone searching for comic effect to the same degree.  

I am thinking of combining my Queneau variations with my homage to Bronk.  It would be Homage to Bronk and Queneau. I take the idea of "derivative writing," derived from Robert Duncan. Derivative is an insult, usually, meaning slavishly imitative of another, but why not deliberately imitate another's work and see what happens? We know that parody is fundamental to postmodernism, after all. and parody is essentially derivative in this sense.   

No comments: