Saturday, March 18, 2006

A tonalist citings

“She plays a utopia” (Standard Schaefer, below) might exactly describe the isolate and yet universalist sensibility of California (and of a modern lyric sensibility?) that is less utopian than it is a utopian.

“Home is heaven is hell plain granite
and doused in circles” (same)

sounded familiar and sure enough turns out to have been written by oneself in the dark summer of 1993 after Jerry Estrin's death. Standard’s version is an interesting permutation of the actual lines from The Case:

“Plain granite
Hell is heaven is home”

Sung about, in and at the dark.

The first line of that poem, in fact that book, “These plant epiphanies” evokes Brian Spring’s Spider Wars in his blog Sorry Nature .

I found a vivid Peter Gizzi chapbook, A panic that can still come upon me, at the Ugly Ducking Presse table in Austin. Having mentioned Duncan to this inveterate Spicerian, I listened to him recite a litany of his own titles that had clearly come from the work of Robert Duncan.

“if speech can free us” (Peter Gizzi, A panic that can still come upon me)

Random encounter later in a cab with a person who turns out to be the friend of a long lost friend. He says

“We’ll meet again. I always meet people twice. That’s the way it is.”

Delighted, also in Austin, to be given theory of prepositions by its publisher Cole Swensen because I knew that recent & persistent a tonalist thinking would result in a new ability to appreciate this book by Claude Royet-Journoud translated by Keith Waldrop. And sure enough

“they are at war with the human” (Royet-Journoud, “birth of prepositions”)

reflects a very plain engagement of a lyric sensibility with politics

“it’s the dismemberment of a territory” (same)

For much more than I could say about this connection see Robert Kaufman's essay "Lyric Constellation, Poetry's Radical Privilege" in Modernist Cultures. In his initial comments about lyric constellation Kaufman writes:

"The point is not merely that art and aesthetic experience are productively brought together with the sociohistorical contexts or movements that illuminate them and that they in turn may help us freshly or more powerfully to register or comprehend. It is rather that constellation itself is an irreducibly aesthetic activity inconceivable without the generative experience of art and imagination and -- what amounts to the same thing -- incapable of taking place without this aesthetic infrastructure that enable us to begin pushing toward post-aesthetic, conceptual articulation of the not-yet-conceived (a not-yet-conceived by no means always utopian, perhaps not utopian at all in any substantive sense.)"

"history is on his lips" (Royet-Journoud, "WE WILL GO THERE, WHERE COMPASSION AND REGRET ARE DISPENSED," theory of prepostions)

An advantage of being a tonalist is that you don’t need to know you are one to be one. If you are not a tonalist you will simply tend to self-identify elsewhere. It is more of an disposition (dispensation?) than a criteria -- more constellative than categorical.


Blogger Molly Bloom said...

I really enjoyed looking at your blog. Great writing.

7:30 AM  
Blogger StandardSchaefer said...

Hey, that's kind of interesting the home is heaven line. I mean, last time I looked at those lines was whenever I did that interview with you, and I think maybe you said something to me that day about those lines in relation to Jerry. I didn't happen to have THE CASE open when I wrote them, though I know some poets do such things. I had more a set of words that I guess reminded me faintly of those lines. I would not have been able to quote them I don't think out of the blue. Wish maybe I'd have written about this for the poetry/memory conference.

By the way, I have that passage of Kaufman's underlined and highlighted, sitting in the top drawer of my desk with a label on it reminding me to re-read the article.

I remember being struck by that passage and thinking that this is really a critic who gets it.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Molly Bloom said...

I've just been looking at your 'sections drawn across the vortex' book - it's really marvellous. We thought we were the only two people on the planet who have loved Lewis, Burroughs et al. We have just written to the graveyard where Lewis' ashes are kept (the 'lease' runs out in 2007) but with no response.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Molly Bloom said...

The last comment was for AH. All of the comments/articles here are very interesting.

5:28 AM  
Blogger tmorange said...

catching up on a tonalism here and finding some synchronicity perhaps via patrick durgin drawing my attention to the kaufman essay around the same time, my take on it (originally an email to patrick from the same day) here.

5:10 PM  

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