Friday, November 21, 2008


As this Friday extinguishes itself like a cigarette (having just quit smoking the simile is no longer apt, I suppose), I feel a flick of ash catch my metaphorical scarf that doubles potentially as a metaphysical noose when I think of the contemporary world in all its awfulness, idiocy, cruelty, and shame. This ash, in fact, signifies the burnt-out brains of our intellectuals and policy makers who mislead us, whose missteps have all of us falling down the stairs, who mistake power for justice and make us pay in body bags, cash, confusion, or our dignity. Yes, when I think of the political landscape, I think of finding a tree to test the durability of my neck hanged by, crushed by, a less-than-metaphysical noose. (At my weight it would take a drop of six feet, according to my hangman's guide).

So when I hear about political unity in this country, I can almost smell the pungency of the rope below my head. For matters literary, one should be partisan but not so much as to be a snob and sectarian. Camps and schools are fine, but one should be ecumenical when thinking about the sheer breadth and variegated beauty of the plenitude of poetry and fiction. (I'm inclined to agree with Ron Silliman's notion of the School of Quietude, how so much contemporary literature is middling, sentimental pap but, that said, I see conflicting and contrasting tastes disturbing my palate in wonderful ways).

In any case--in all cases, actually--I am for the unity of diversity in literature and in politics I approve of people staying in their corners and smashing the opposition's arguments when need be. If Obama wants to go beyond the blue and red state paradigm, fine; I'll stay in my green field dreaming of more radical transformations and possibilities than the centrist rhetoric of his Democratic party. There are some values you'll have to beat me to death to compromise on (or you can hang me, I've got the noose, remember?). I cannot merely renege on my commitments to human rights and social justice to concede the viability of a center-based coalition of right wingers and centrist liberals. I'll stay left. And probably left out. Fine; I'll take some consolation in Roberto Bolano's 2666 or some of the new and old poets who have vision and never burn out.
Bless you, sisters and brothers! J/C