Monday, September 28, 2009

Poetry is already redundant


An anecdote from Rukmini Bhaya Nair:

When Stephen Hawking visited India in the year 2000, I was privileged to sit in on some conversations with him. One of these occasions was when he was discussing the question of when "physics would become redundant." In another twenty years or so was the estimate, I believe - because all the important questions within the discipline would have been solved by then. What about poetry? I piped up and waited while the answer appeared with measured slowness first on Hawking's silvery computer screen and was then rendered in a distant metallic American voice by his speech synthesizer. This is the unforgettable sentence that Hawking uttered in answer to my question at the turn of the century:

Poetry is already redundant
.

*
I know we're all now supposed to say bad things about Bly, "Deep Image," yadda yadda, but you'll like this, I bet! It's from the mighty fine blog, VRZHU, Bullets of Love:

Robert Bly vs. New York Quarterly

Interviewer: Well, do you think that a poet should familiarize himself with numerous rhetorical devices such as oxymoron, anastrophe, synecdoche, and so forth in order to perfect the craft of his poetry?

Robert Bly: Read that sentence again.

Interviewer: Well, do you think that a poet should familiarize himself with numerous rhetorical devices such as oxymoron, anastrophe, synecdoche, and so forth in order to perfect the craft of his poetry?

Robert Bly: All those words are horribly boring when you read them to me. The sound of them—they’re all Greekish. Isn’t it odd that we haven’t developed Anglo-Saxon words? Words with senses in them that would describe these things? Do you follow me? We’re not satisfied with the Greek word for pig for example. We get our own word for pig. We have our own word for house. We think houses are important. It’s odd that these words you mention exist only in Greek form. I don’t think that to us, even to you, they are very important.

Interviewer: I think you will find many of those devices used in modern poetry and they enhance the poetry.

Robert Bly: But remember what T. S. Eliot said: “Well, you know I have never been able to remember the difference between anapestic and trochaic.

Interviewer: He doesn’t have to remember that.

Robert Bly: If he doesn’t have to remember, who does then?

Interviewer: That’s a little bit different.

Robert Bly: How? How is it different?

2 comments:

Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

With all due respect to Dr. Hawking (a personal hero, btw), there is a significant difference between “redundant” and obsolete. Poetry has indeed been redundant for at least fifteen, maybe twenty, years. But that is soon to change. The very pressure of mediocrity will, similar to population pressure on the evolution of organisms, result in a brand new species. It is, as with all things in nature, a cycle…but also a spiral that never actually repeats but continuously improves as it moves forward in time.

Desmond Swords said...

That's right Gaz.

There is already rumblings of a New poetry, called The Thing: a school of poets practicing in a windy C, who are going back to the hidden root of poetry, eschewing the OD'ing of the previous spam schools ventriliquizing found texts as the authorship of virtually inspired sock puppets - looking for inspiration from the ancients: returning right back to Pound for their inspiration.

I read about it in a magazine, it's gonna be mega: all these crazees in the MFA depts across America, campaigning for radical change via the act of doctoral agitation: papers on the importance of Paul Blackburn in the poetry of Toadex Hobogrammathon.

The utility of tripe in found carcas poems: road kill as concrete discourse in the worlds of MC Smiggerz - sixth strand subsititute in the eighth gen C team of the IOU school.

Loads going on Gaz. Don't touch that mouse. Remember, you're dangerous because of eloquence and can reach the heights of Jade Foreskin, who - as Vidal G said about Mandy Whorlo:

The only genius with an IQ of 60.