2/3/11

A Series of Follies



     "For Levi-Strauss, the great ruptures that had thrilled him (namely surrealism, DADA, cubism) in his youth had led nowhere. The path to abstraction had become a story of failure as modern art degenerated into a series of follies and empty aesthetic gestures."
          -Patrick Wilcken (C L-S)

     The following is chosen at random from American Hybrid; A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (Norton 2009 ed. Cole Swensen and David St. John).
     Empty aesthetic gesture? Or great rupture?
     The excerpt is by Etel Adnan and is listed as from IN/SOMNIA. Here is "XIX"

1. Night falling. again. Not again.
    long / line no help help / less
    terror stop the terr...
    terribly all over / over
    what?

2. blows bellowing blowing
    paper and doors and what
    else? Is is it? is it coming?
    Yes. time. Last time

3. lasting timing ever-ever
    snoring orderal or deal
    dealer of cards     of smoke
    tick / no no end

4. shhh - weee - buzzz
    buzzing pele-mele
    keep     held hold-it! keep
    insane in / sane the right
    to wait wait! waited for
    for wait a minute for / the /
    dark / light of morning

5. collapsibles

     Note also that often today poems are "from" something else, something much grander we are to assume. We are also to assume that if we were reading the entire something else, we would surely think "Wow, that was something else!" Unfortunately, we rarely get access to this mysterious place all of these fragments are "from," but are nevertheless asked to say "Wow!"
     This alone could be a very important distinction between the American avant-garde of 1913 Armory Show New York, which somehow didn't seem to need to qualify its fragments, non sequiturs and general 'avantfulness' by claiming they were "from" some place else, and the avant-garde of the present day, which almost always does.
     Levi-Strauss had noted the avant-garde as a "story of failure" in 1959! Fortunately for him he didn't live to read the above-mentioned anthology.

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