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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Greatness in clusters

 What do you think is really great? For me it comes in clusters.  I like all the historical avant-garde, and the ideas of Duchamp.  I like modernism in many flavors, like Pessoa or Proust, Cavafy, Borges.   

There is a cluster of things around the time I was born, say from Miles's early cool phase until the death of Coltrane. It was a highpoint in jazz, when old-timers were still around, as well as be-boppers and avant-garde jazz. Rock and roll is about to take off, too. Soul music was a vibrant trend.  Ray Charles recording an album of country music. That's the kind of period it was. Hitchcock... 

Everything New York school in poetry (and painting). Other branches of "New American Poetry," like Creeley, Spicer... 

I think Keats, and the best poetry of that time was great. 

French symbolism if very great, especially Baudelaire.  

I'm never jaded. I never take it for granted.  Someone on facebook was saying Saura's movies have aged badly. I disagree, but even if an opinion changes, I still respect my older self's enthusiasm.  

I spent a lot of time studying Valente, who my Spanish friends think is the great ever. He is genuinely good, at his best, but I think people like him for the positions he takes in the poetry wars. Even though I study Lorca, he is not even my favorite poet.  (That would be Frank O'Hara.). 

Anyway, I think people recognize that these clusters exist, and that consequently there are relatively barren periods. I don't have problem if your cluster is different than mine.  For example, if realism is your thing, then the 19th century is your cluster.  I don't get the idea of not being impressed with greatness, though, whatever that greatness looks like for you.  

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