James Scully, not the full-lipped redheaded skeptic I've loved from 1995 on. James has this to say:
"The ramifications go on. In writing to demystify bourgeois ideology, yet doing so in terms of bourgeois belles-lettres, I write within a convention available to a tiny portion of the bourgeoisie itself. This convention effectively excludes participation by the vast majority of people - whose needs it does not meet, does not comprehend, and in fact hardly addresses. Although I, along with others, may prospose to write for the countless number who literally or effectively cannot read this, I write to those whose language I use - those who with few exceptions will not want to read this (not only becuase it demands of them time and energy, but also because it shrugs off, attacks, or occasionally, at best, dismantles their own verities), or who will apprehend it in terms of the social understanding, the ideology, that restricts the purview of their 'aesthetic' values. This is not a circumstance to be regretted or moralized on. It is what the specific historical situation, including my place in it, allows. The writing, with its contradictions, is conditioned on that situation. At most that writing is an act of resistance, a struggle. But the overcoming of these particular contradictions would require, among other things, a redisposition of social power: not the spreading of bourgeois belles-lettres to masses of people (a missionary presumption that could only extend bourgeois hegemony, especially if power relationships remained unchanged) but the development of forms, ways of apprehending that correspond to and enable the empowerment of the disenfranchised. Without the conditions for such a poetry, or culture, there is no way of producing it" (Line Break, 121).
And Paglia has this, published recently in The Telegraph (UK)'s Arts section:
"English has evolved over the past century because of mass media and advertising, but the shadowy literary establishment in America, in and outside academe, has failed to adjust. From the start, like Andy Warhol (another product of an immigrant family in an isolated north-eastern industrial town), I recognised commercial popular culture as the authentic native voice of America. Burned into my memory, for example, is a late-1950s TV commercial for M&M's chocolate candies. A sultry cartoon peanut, sunbathing on a chaise longue, said in a twanging Southern drawl: "I'm an M&M peanut / Toasted to a golden brown / Dipped in creamy milk chocolate / And covered in a thin candy shell!" Illustrating each line, she prettily dove into a swimming pool of melted chocolate and popped out on the other side to strike a pose and be instantly towelled in her monogrammed candy wrap. I felt then, and still do, that the M&M peanut's jingle was a vivacious poem and that the creative team who produced that ad were folk artists, anonymous as the artisans of medieval cathedrals.
My attentiveness to the American vernacular - through commercials, screwball comedies, hit songs, and talk radio (which I listen to around the clock) - has made me restive with the current state of poetry. I find too much work by the most acclaimed poets laboured, affected and verbose, intended not to communicate with the general audience but to impress their fellow poets. Poetic language has become stale and derivative, even when it makes all-too-familiar avant garde or ethnic gestures. Those who turn their backs on media (or overdose on postmodernism) have no gauge for monitoring the metamorphosis of English. Any poetry removed from popular diction will inevitably become as esoteric as 18th-century satire (perfected by Alexander Pope), whose dense allusiveness and preciosity drove the early Romantic poets into the countryside to find living speech again. Poetry's declining status has made its embattled practitioners insular and self-protective: personal friendships have spawned cliques and coteries in book and magazine publishing, prize committees and grants organisations. I have no such friendships and am a propagandist for no poet or group of poets."
So Camille says to James, "The conditions DO exist - the conditions to which poetry has to speak are changing all the time!" And James is all like, "Well yeah, but I'm still at base one of the snoots who can't help Joe and Mary Smitherson understand their lives through poetry, and I'm rather guilty about it." And Camille says, "Man, you're a downer. Look around you. Turn on the T.V. once in awhile and Q-Tip your ears so you can hear what's Marvin Gaye ask what's goin' on." When James, thusly: "Well hey. I never said that poetry wasn't a powerful goddam force, especially when it comes to the line break; where lines break create meaning that can speak to & expose & counter social inequalities. I just feel a little Ivory Tower about it is all." Camille's like, "Jimmy, I've had just about enough. Put your words on the page and buy stamps and bend over." And Jimmy did.