Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Building a Mystery, 5: Updates Abroad!

Several longish new posts out there in the 'sphere, responding to the "Building a Mystery" debate. Mark weighed in a few days back, and I haven't really taken him up on his challenge to secularize the question; today, with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," he lets St. Peter O'Leary keep a backbeat on relics while he whips out some serious new psychodrama on a vintage Strat. But wait! There's more! Bob Archambeau, at Samizdat, has been following the argument; two more long posts on "difficulty" and "inderminacy" for your Humble Blogger to catch up on and think through in the next few hours.

Which I will do. But not now. Now, I have a guitar to buy.

Oh--but before I go, I promised Mike this last word, via email, responding to Mark and myself:

Correction of inelegancies. My riposte to Mark was not meant to exclude readers (and the demystifying usage of "consumers" strikes as insufficient, even pejorative, certainly reductive to the word "reader") or to create any division of affect (spiritual, ineffable, or, per your last, which I'll get to in a moment, some coinage you'd like). Absolutely, we are subject to the poem's energies--even if different strokes for different folks applies (Mark's position, which seemed to be concerned with the efficacy--and I was merely pointing to the possibility of efficacy for whom).

Now to your comment: "I, of course, am most interested in the question of consumption, not being a poet myself. And I think that we'd be well served to come up with some other words for that "otherwise unnameable or ineffable quality," whatever it might be, since "spiritual" has so many other implications." Zukofsky--Mark will correct me or point me--says somewhere that the reader becomes a poet because he becomes subject to the forces of the poem. I might add, as did the poet.

But I'm most concerned here with your desire for "some other words," wondering if, ultimately, this isn't an impossible task, and if a codification could be produced, wouldn't it be reductive and outdated in a sec. If I may borrow from my sense of Ari Elon's book--for which a number of us already thank you for pointing us to--every poem is going to have its own midrash, its numerous midrashes, and the last thing I would want as a teacher (I've been there) would be to close down or close off interpretation. So much else is now "settled" by the cultural industrial complex, but the poem continues to break open the cocoons and envelopes of the culture (which is, sub rosa, the dynamic/thread I hope binds my essays together), and that the teacher keeps confronting students with the existence of mystery, not as a holy secret, but as a result of the unfixability of truth and value.

In an early blog post, you spoke of "faith" as indicative of belief in "goodness:" this uncertainty is the goodness that poetry brings.

More soon, with examples, rebuttals, and a whole lot of love--

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