Disruptive Juxtaposition

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Changes since last post

1.) Have returned to the city. Dealing with renewed humidity and temperatures 15 degrees higher than upstate.

2.) Have finished Robert Grudin's "Book" (1992) (review forthcoming I hope) and begun Don DeLillo's "White Noise." An overdue read, considering its reputation and foremost slot on Postmodernism 101 syllabi.

3.) Have watched "The Wizard of Oz" as synchronized with Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." The similarities are striking indeed - my favorite is that the register-chimes and coin-clinks coincide with Dorothy's emergence into the newly Technicolored world of Munchkin-Land and Oz. Unfortunately the similarities don't last beyond the first spin of the album, which being only 40 some odd minutes long must be played 2.5 times to cover the film's running time.

4.) Have flipped the mattress on the futon.

5.) Have seen for the first time "Kill Bill Vol. 1" and loved it. Singlehandedly it reaffirms Guy DeBord's "Society of the Spectacle" and Linda Williams's "Film Bodies" as viable, even crucial texts to teach freshmen comp students.

6.) Have arranged on an ocean blue bookshelf those works of poetry and fiction which I would do best to study, emulate, and surpass.

7.) Have fleetingly believed that some sort of livable life is taking shape, here, in this credible place.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Lost Art

David Orr, blogged about elsewhere on this site, comes up with an appallingly shortsighted article about letter-writing and lyric poetry in today's New York Times. Perhaps that's unfair. Perhaps it is merely ignorant. His thrust is that letter-writing has a lyricism and lyric poetry a letter-writingishness, or in other words that each is profitably bound up in the other. To be fair, there are some key, true, and interesting observations to be had. I like Orr's implication when he says that "poets are haunted by the concept of speaker and audience the way novelists are haunted by the idea of time."

What galls me however isn't the idea that letter-writing is a dying art. Letter-writing is indeed a practice that has lost some (or most) of its practitioners. I don't write a hundredth of the letters I wish I did. I have enough trouble staying on top of my e- and voice-mails. (Apologies to those who are still waiting on my replies. I am the worst.) Nevertheless, even though letter-writing is "suffering," Orr's treatment of the technology-driven changes in correspondence shocks in terms of the examples it uses to prove its case. Apparently those poets and writers who in a utopian latter-day would dedicate their tea-times to letters now write text messages. Orr translates Keats's "negative capability" letter into TXT. Yep, there sure is a lot lost there. Yep, you really lack the nuance of Keats's letter. Yep, TXTs can't hold a candle to letters.

At the risk of stating the obvious, who, who I ask you, who today thinks that any meaningful poetic discourse occurs via TXTs?

I realize that Orr fancies himself a comic. Blame me, then, for not finding him funny. The issue of how poets and writers communicate - and how that communication impacts the theorization and production of poetry and writing - is an issue to which I am meaningfully bound. I wonder and even worry about the strength of social communities, especially of writerly social communities to which I do, want to, and need to belong.

I suppose I see much more that is exciting in the way of contemporary communication than Orr does, and I wanted at least some of those elements to show in his "I and You" article. What forms have the tracts and tenets of Post-Post and the NS taken, after all? Blogs, IMs, and emails. The letter *as it has been known* may not play a role in contemporary letters. But how, how I ask you how, how can one fail to see that letters haven't gone anyway, have lost none of their reflectivity or ability to guide the development of the arts, that they have only transmuted into these new media? Why not take the history of letter-writing and poetry and try to track it forward into, and get ready for this, *what is actually happening in the real world?*

Am I making too much of this? Maybe there are more important and substantive issues to rant about this Sunday morning. Probably I've had too much coffee and too little solid food. Homemade waffles might help.