I was trekking nostalgically through Youtube, as I occasionally do, last weekend and Cat, you made me cry three times.   “Tea for the Tillerman” was one of those iconic records I heard in my adolescence and your intense, yet gentle singing style really knocked me out.  I think it was my sister’s record, not mine, but I grew to really like it.

Now that I have a young son and daughter, there’s an added emotion for me to the songs “Father and Son” and “Wild World” (the latter is about a girlfriend, but it could almost be about a daughter) and as soon as I heard these two songs: instant tears.

It’s a good thing my kids didn’t see me blubbering at the computer—I don’t know what they would have thought.  My sentimental music tastes freak them out enough, already.

Then I decided to watch Yusuf Islam, a much older Cat Stevens, play “Father and Son” to a gathering of Muslims, and that, too, made me cry.  Maybe because he was older and singing the same song, maybe because he was singing it to a different people who were enjoying the same song in the same way, but it really got to me.

Cat Stevens, you bastard.

But, unfortunately, the pedant in me would like to say a little more.  The lyrics of “Wild World” and “Father and  Son” have parental, moral, and sentimental strains which are the basis of all art—and all religion.

Every impulse in both art and religion has some kind of parental or authoritative guidance, and this is inescapable.

The poet who has no morals is still a moral lesson.  Art is trapped in morality; to be a poet is to be a priest: from this there is no escape.

In the lyrics to “Wild World,” the narration quickly moves from the painful Petrarchan trope  of the indifferent beloved (she’s leaving him) to tender, paternal guidance and concern; the poet escapes from the hell of disappointment into the heaven of care.  Amor’s resentments and regrets are quickly transformed into a kind of selfless agape.

Now that I’ve lost everything to you
You say you wanna start something new
And it’s breakin’ my heart you’re leavin’
Baby, I’m grievin’
But if you wanna leave, take good care
Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear
But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there

Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
and I’ll always remember you like a child, girl

You know I’ve seen a lot of what the world can do
And it’s breakin’ my heart in two
Because I never wanna see you sad, girl
Don’t be a bad girl
But if you wanna leave, take good care
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
But just remember there’s a lot of bad and beware

Imagine if such passionate advice-giving took this form:

So much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

This little poem seems a radically different address; and yet, would equals speak to each other like this?   No.   If your friend turned to you and said, “So much depends upon a red wheel barrow…” you would laugh in his face. The power, if it has any, of this poem is in its moral guidance.  There is an implicit authoritative voice (religious, if not poetic) speaking to a child or devotee or follower:  here is my wisdom.

The “Wheel Barrow” wisdom is not the wisdom of “Wild World:” be a good girl, beware of a__holes, but rather: be attentive, don’t forget mere things are important, too.

Even though “Wild World” and “Wheel Barrow” seem to be very different, they are not.  Both rely on:  the advice of some kind of authority. They are both highly moral.


  1. horatiox said,

    July 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    In this case, I’d probably rate WC Williams’ piece above Cat’s song.

    One needs to understand what the modernists were reacting to. They apparently felt the great romantic visions, the Byronic heroics–and I would say Hegelian abstractions (explicit, or not)—had been tapped out.

    Instead of rhetorical panoramas, angst, sturm und drang, lyrical flights, they offer…snapshots, images, sketches–no ideas but in things. WCW’s work has that impression. But I don’t think, say, Pound proceeds as WCW did (and his followers), or Wallace Stevens. That’s a problem with…literary taxonomy. Say “modernism” and one suggests shared characteristics. But that’s not always evident. Really, 90% of poetry, even the grand byronic or Shelleyan visions seem like wasted words.

    ‘Merican poets (or poetasters) aren’t likely to duplicate Shelley–for one, they don’t have the right…conditioning, whether in terms of education, heritage, history, etc. Who has the time to like read, not to say memorize Aeschylus in the original greek? Maybe kids of millionaires in League Ivy do, but that’s about it; most students are better off sticking with practical studies, engineering, med. etc. (For writing models, perhaps aim for like matching Dashiell Hammett…Maltese Falcon–poetry.).

    Pound says “make it new,” because the grand tradition was like, kaput. Really, Pound nearly suggested the tradition …may be…Tot (as in Gott).

  2. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    July 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    A song that always chokes me up
    And leaves me at a loss,
    Is “Touch Me in the Morning”
    (Though I don’t rail ‘gainst D. Ross).

  3. horatiox said,

    July 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Comedy’s part of the problem…on that I wager Cat’s new spiritual advisers (ie, Imams, at least the somewhat rationalist ones) would agree.


  4. thomasbrady said,

    July 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm


    Williams offers “snapshots…” But he doesn’t. That’s my point. He offers morality disguised as “images.” Keats gave us “images,” too. There’s nothing ‘new’ in haiku-imagery, or imagery, for that matter. I can get down on all fours and inspect a Keats image and enjoy myself as much as I can a Williams image.

    You are so right, though, about the evils of literary taxonomy, as if “Romanticism” points to one thing: a man w/ long stockings gazing at a flower…


  5. horatiox said,

    July 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    As I said previously, I agree for the most part with your anti-modernist sentiments, but ….at least the modernists felt (or so it seems) that snapshots could produce something that the romantic visions couldn’t, or didn’t. Im not in poetry biz, so will avoid any pedantic pronouncements (tho…if Silliman’s a pedant…then street preachers are pedants). However I think at times modernistic prose–even, say detective writing, some of Hemingway, …or Orwell, good sci-fi–did eliminate some excessive rhetorical baggage or “purply prose,” tho’ one could say it may have…dumbed it down at times. Sort of difference between EA Poe, Hawthorne, or even Conan-Doyle, and….Hammett, Mickey Spillane (or other noir hacks). Personally I’d rather read Hammett than Conan-Doyle, but…with few match Poe’s elegant American writing (at least in his tales. His poems are a bit..jangly, tho at times moving).

  6. thomasbrady said,

    July 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Getting rid of the purple is OK.

    The following isn’t purple, and gave birth to Conan Doyle, Hammett, et al…

    AT Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn of 18—, I was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my friend C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library, or book-closet, au troisiême, No. 33, Rue Dunôt, Faubourg St. Germain. For one hour at least we had maintained a profound silence; while each, to any casual observer, might have seemed intently and exclusively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmosphere of the chamber. For myself, however, I was mentally discussing certain topics which had formed matter for conversation between us at an earlier period of the evening; I mean the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the mystery attending the murder of Marie Rogêt. I looked upon it, therefore, as something of a coincidence, when the door of our apartment was thrown open and admitted our old acquaintance, Monsieur G——, the Prefect of the Parisian police.

    The “silence” in this passage points to the “hard-boiled” genre with the thoughtful, tough-guy, detective of few words. I don’t know if this is “Maltese Falcon poetry,” but the template is complete: Venus emerging from the foam.

    Nor is this purple:

    Far away — far away —
    Far away — as far at least
    Lies that valley as the day
    Down within the golden east —
    All things lovely — are not they
    Far away — far away?

    This has less ‘purple’ than the ‘red’ wheel barrow.


  7. thomasbrady said,

    July 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I also might mention, in regards to “Wild World” and “Red Wheel Barrow” both being moral documents and the inescapability of morality in general…there is one way for the artist to escape morality…if the work itself and the machinations surrounding it, which build that work’s reputation, are completely fraudulent…and here what might be termed the ‘get away with it delight’ trumps everything and the con artist gains complete ‘glory’ escaping from bourgeois morality… millions for a pollock, anyone?

  8. horatiox said,

    July 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Murders of the Rue Morgue and Purloined Letter set a standard for later detective/noir writing, definitely. No disagreement–. Apart from a few greats–Hammett, Chandler, Conan-Doyle’s greatest hits– most noir hacks fall short of Poe (19th century french literary snobs loved Poe as well).

    Then, so did Crime and Punishment (at least good translations), in a different sense.

    Quite a different …Weltanschauung than the Basho-beatnik school.

  9. July 29, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Anyone that mocks a Jackson Pollock painting is either:

    A) Like the guy looking at a Picasso, a de Kooning or a Rothko who says: “My five-year old kid can paint better than that!”

    B) Poorly educated in Modern Art, or

    C) Has never seen an actual Pollock painting in a museum.

    This scenario could also apply to people who comment on poets and/or philosophers that they’ve never really read.

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 30, 2010 at 2:44 am

      Poorly educated in Modern Art.

      That must be it.

      How can anything be rejected once it becomes a matter of education?

      But who is “mocking” it? How can one mock an abstract design? Tell me how, Gary. How can one possibly mock an abstract design? If you can tell me that, I’ll tell you why I don’t like Pollock. Defenders of Pollock want to insert words where they cannot go. There are no words to go with Pollock, so why are you using them?

      I might stare at a Pollock painting for an hour and simply because I am a contemplative, imaginative creature, spend that hour in great pleasure. But if you weren’t privy to my thoughts and feelings for that hour, how could you know which of those thoughts and feelings were due to Pollock and which were due to my own speculative, dreamy, imaginative thinking? Such is the case with abstract design. You could tell me what paints Pollock used, how he applied that paint, etc, but of what use would that be if it was impossible to tell what effect the Pollock had on me? Whatever I might say could be ‘me’ or could be ‘the Pollock.’ If two or more people did say the same thing about Pollock’s abstraction how would this be anything but a banality, like two people looking at a road and saying ‘my eye traveled down the road, did yours?’ We have a dilemma here. There’s no public content to a Pollock which is not banal. A person could use hyperbole, like “tension” and “depth” and “passion” and “struggle” etc etc but these would be nothing but the hyperbolic descriptions of the art dealer.

      Mocking “the Pollock?”

      First we have to somehow prove that “the Pollock” even exists—to more than one person—at all.

      How much better it would be—if we could mock it!


      • July 30, 2010 at 4:27 am


        If I remember correctly, you live in Boston. I lived in New York for over twenty years and we ran up to Boston all the time. As I recall, it wasn’t a long ride.

        You should take the family down to NYC and let the kids loose in the American Museum of Natural History. Then, while they are communing with the dinosaurs and whales, you can run over to Moma and check out a real Pollock. Since the kids will be with your wife at the AMNH, they won’t have to see you “blubbering” at the Museum of Modern Art because, if you ever see a real Pollock, that’s exactly what you’ll do.

        As the tears come down you’ll say to yourself: “How could I have been so wrong?”

    • David Bittner said,

      February 19, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      “Cat Stevens, You Bastard”… Reminds me of an old story about Ed Sullivan, the host of a mid-20th-century TV variety show, and Dorothy Kilgallen, a well-known gossip columnist of the day. I don’t remember how Kilgallen had offended Sullivan, (or if she even really had at all), but Sullivan sent her a famous two word telegram: “Dear Miss Kilgallen: You bitch.”

      • noochinator said,

        February 20, 2020 at 9:55 pm

        Or Dan Aykroyd to Jane Curtin: “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

      • thomasbrady said,

        February 21, 2020 at 11:40 am

        Oh, David, but we want to know her offense!

        For its time, that telegram must have been quite shocking. I wonder how she got her revenge?

        With the brawling format of the Democrat debates leading up to what will surely be the most acrimonious presidential contest in U.S. history, these sorts of things are now of great interest!

  10. horatiox said,

    July 30, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Sort of like how you’ve never read a word of a real philosopher, Gary? Many classic philosophers have been opposed to aesthetics–not just positivists, or logicians…but Plato himself for one, who in the Republic, asserted that lyric poets, who derive their inspiration from emotion, rather than Reason, be banned from the state. A bit harsh, but …one tradition, regardless. Beatniks, booted out into the wilderness! Google ‘er).

    There are no obligations to respect Pollock’s visual chaos (certainly not when it sells for multi-millions). Or any art, really–Rembrandt or modern hucksters.

  11. July 30, 2010 at 3:33 am



    I am almost sixty years old. I spent five years in University level education studying Philosophy, the Arts, English, Poetry and Science, probably before you were born. I attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC, the University of New Mexico and the University of Strasbourg in France. I have a library of over 1,500 books and have read every poet or philosopher you care to name.

    I have spent nearly fifty years writing poetry and have self-published six books. Your comment is not only ignorant but borders on the offensive. All of the “lyric” poetry I write is based on reason, science, philosophy and ontology, not emotion (although, being poetry, emotion is hopefully the end product). You can either buy my books so we have something to talk about or you can put up or shut up!


  12. notevensuperficial said,

    July 30, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Pound says “make it new,” because the grand tradition was like, kaput.

    horatiox, which “grand tradition” would that be?

    (Pound took ‘make it new’ directly from the Chinese tradition, and believed “it” to mean the content of “tradition [itself]” in the cases of those responsible for inheriting the “tradition” of ‘Western civ’.)

    Really, Pound nearly suggested the tradition…may be…Tot (as in Gott).

    Precisely where does “Pound” “nearly” make this ‘suggestion’?

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      what ‘grand tradition’ would that be?

      They will come no more,
      The old men with beautiful manners.

      —Ezra Pound, written for Henry James

    • horatiox said,

      July 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm

      Have you bothered to read any of Pound’s essays, say “How to Read”, not? Doesn’t sound like it. Apart from the greek and latin classics and medievals, Pound claims the great poets of the anglo tradition were Donne, Herrick, Pope, a few others–mostly anglo-catholic, and …he does not include romantics, or Americans (tho for prose, he does recommend french). Ergo (this is called an inference), he’s suggesting the great tradition–which for Pound required knowledge of Latin literature (if not mastery), at least some understanding of greek, the scholastics, romance tongues, a bit of Deutsch combined with modern study–and was, for all intensive purposes, kaput, as far as American education goes. Call it pompous or pedantic–in a sense, he is, and probably was not quite the linguist he claimed to be– but that’s the Poundian programme (and modernist to a degree..Eliot also echoed most of those thoughts). You think the latest Plath of the hour on Silliman’s site has met Pound’s criteria??/ Ich denke nicht.

      • horatiox said,

        July 30, 2010 at 8:25 pm

        Pound also suggests something…nearly Sapir-Whorf like: English, aka pinche ingles is not really…a language, but nearly a pidgin of sorts. Or “Piratenzunge” as some Germans called it, mate. The lingua franca was Latin, until, like TH Huxley axed it (with help from many liberals)–as anyone who has travelled to Europe knows, most european/Gymnasium students usually know 3-4 languages, and speak british english better than Americans.

        The world only seems American to Americans who don’t know a word of span, german, french, etc, ser from estar, sein from zeit– and that includes the hundreds of talent-nite hustlers who mistake their favorite beat or hallmark hero grunting away in the Piratenzunge for a great bard. Pound at least reminds us that scribes don’t reach the top of Parnassus with a smattering of vers libre but with study and discipline… (tho’ he may have been a bit hypocritical…)

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 31, 2010 at 2:05 am

        hirrationalx, you’re making the argument – Pound’s argument – for the existence of a living – albeit only for an educated elite – “grand tradition” (of classical languages and literatures, Romance (and east Asian) languages and literatures, physical and biological sciences, history, and so on).

        “Make it new” was, in his hands – as it was in the Chinese tradition (he thought) he was taking the phrase from – absolutely both a revitalization of “grand tradition[s]” and a making-fast of their continuity.

        [T]he grand tradition was like, kaput. [… T]he tradition…may be…Tot. – doesn’t instill any confidence that you’ve “bothered to read any of Pound’s essays”.

      • horatiox said,

        July 31, 2010 at 2:27 am

        That would be you, I believe, notski. I mentioned How to Read, the ABC, etc. and pointed out the content. You haven’t as yet even acknowledged the obvious points. And as I said, it is elitism. Oh well. So is Chopin. But, you’re not a Poundian, it’s quite obvious–more like a Soundian –empty, meaningless sounds…moo! Or as we say out west–all hat, no cattle.

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 31, 2010 at 2:44 am

        Yes, horatoxic, you did “mention” How to Read, without referring it specifically to the, or to any, point – except to assert, clumsily and falsely, the imagined ignorance of your interlocutor.

        The point I’ve not only “acknowledged” but responded to directly was that raised by your slapdash references to “the grand tradition” and Pound’s imaginary ‘near-suggestion’ of its death.

        Your steadfast avoidance of the mere pedantry of making specific, clear points and referring specifically to the things you talk about, um, “suggests” that, between the horns on your hatty skull, it’s all plaque, no brain.

      • horatiox said,

        July 31, 2010 at 3:40 am

        Don’t pretend to be some grand filosophe, either, Notty. You couldn’t quite handle Socrates dissing the precious homeric heroes (and doing via logic, not….drama). I’ve made plenty of points, just not the predictable belle-lettrist ones you want to hear. I could go on about his points re usury, and social credit, his opposition to gold standard, etc but then you’d have to finish like your Western Civ 101 first.

        How about a bit of courtier-ship ala Pound, Mlle Superficial. En garde!! Yr no scholar, no scribe, no poet–prepare for your demise. So…a foil, …dirks, perhaps…or cutlass, broadsword? or shall it be ‘Merican, gloves, or sans gloves, mano a mano

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 31, 2010 at 9:15 pm

        I’ve made plenty of points

        Sure you have, emetiox – “points” such as: “The lingua franca was Latin, until, like TH Huxley axed it”, the imbecility of which beggars refutation.

        You assert swaggeringly plaque-mongered inaccuracies of Pound’s use of “make it new” and relation to “grand tradition[s]”, which inaccuracies give no reason to suspect a first-hand knowledge of “Pound’s essays”.

        Those inaccuracies having been pointed out, you flee – in this sub-thread – from textual substantiation of your guesses at what’s inside books you hope other people also haven’t read.

        Well, dear: where is your evidence that Pound’s concern for “great tradition[s]” was, in Pound’s view, post-“kaput”?

      • horatiox said,

        July 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm

        Fool, you don’t even know what I’m speaking of (which was Huxley’s battle against Arnold, and the elimination of classical learning, including Latin–which was implemented in many UK schools, and later USA). I suspect you, like most WASPS (yr not jewish are you) detest catholics (and know nothing about them), or anything which seems vaguely catholic-clerical, or french-like; ergo, you detest Pound. Or so it seems. You’re not here to test me (nor is Mr Tom). I know what Pound was about in terms of his literary views (really, preserving some aspects of classical learning ultimately, even if that just means Aristotle–or Aquinas– and not all the medieval jive) AND His politics (tied to his lit. views) which were about taking on finance capitalism, UK and USA bankers, and…usury. So it’s a Weltanschauung, even if you don’t like it, or it seems non-PC, or not nice enough for your Rahm Emmanuel-ist mind.

        And you ducked the real issue of my post, Super., which was the thrown gauntlet, pendejo. See it there? Marquess of Queensbury style. So, pick it up, and choose yr weapon (sword, fisticuffs, revolvers). Or refuse and pay homage.

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

        ergo, you detest Pound

        Which is why I keep defending Pound’s poetry at this site . . .

        “You’re not here to test me”

        Atta girl!

        bore, stick with your ‘suspicions’, keep “mentioning” “Huxley”, “Arnold”, “WASPs”, “catholics”, “Pound”, “Aristotle”, “Aquinas”, “finance capitalism”, and the rest of the names and phrases in your hoard of class syllabi, and – trust me on this, bore – stay as far away from textual “verification” of your “mentions” as you can, putillo dear.

    • horatiox said,

      July 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm

      Step in the street, basura. Yr no Poundian–Pound’s an irishman usually. Yr another little belle-lettrist phony, a pipsqueak, most likely in the NAMBLA zionist-beat union as well , just putting on yr yearly macho act.

      I’m about 6 ft. 195lbs, bench 350+ for starters. LA, near Roscoe 405, any day, Superita. La lucha! (marquess of queenybury, Tom, like even Georgie Gordon would approve.) POP

  13. notevensuperficial said,

    July 30, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Plato […] who asserted that lyric poets […] be banned from the state

    Socrates— Nevertheless, it should be said that we at least, if poetry that aims at pleasure and imitation has any argument to bring forward to prove that it must have a place in the well-governed city, should be glad to welcome it, for we are aware of the charm it exercises, but it is impious to betray what one believe to be the truth. Are you not yourself, my friend, charmed by poetry, especially when you see it through Homer?
    Glaucon— Very much so.
    S.— Therefore it is right that it should come back from exile after making its defence in lyric or any other meter.
    G.— Certainly.
    S.— We should also give its champions who are not poets the opportunity to speak on its behalf in prose to the effect that it not only gives pleasure but is useful to cities and to human life. We shall listen to them in a friendly spirit, for we shall certainly benefit if poetry is shown to be not only pleasant but useful.
    G.— How could we not benefit?

    The Republic, 607 c-e

    (Plato’s) Socrates gives defenders of poetry the floor – in the event that they should, metrically or in prose, have a defense of poetry.

    Well, Socrates has set this opening up (chiefly in books 2 and 3) in The Republic by quoting Homer over 30 times, and other poets (mostly Hesiod and Aeschylus), spontaneously in conversation about politics with young men — that is, doing what was called, in his indictment, trial, and conviction: “corruption” (of young men).

    Directly after the book 10 ‘banishment’, Socrates himself turns to figural language to talk about the “soul” in the language of muthos, that is, in the ‘story of Er’.

    Socrates proves himself to be a knower – more to the point: a lover – of poetry. He no more could survive a banishment of poetry from the “republic” of his own soul than he could survive a lobotomy and remain ‘Socrates’ – which, as I read Plato, is inextricable from the point of Socrates’s unquestionably deep suspicion of the power of “poetry” as a social institution.

    horatiox, to read Plato’s ‘banishment of the poets’ as hostility to poetry or to whatever you mean by “aesthetics” is to fail abjectly at the essential agon-strategy of classical Greek culture: dramatic irony.

    • horatiox said,

      July 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      You are cherry picking mostly, and overlooking the key section where Soc. distinguished between knowledge based on Reason (he has in mind geometry, more than likely), and the inspired madness of poetry, which merely imitates nature. (I’m not saying I necessarily agree, but …that was the view of the Republic)

      Then must we not infer that all these poetical individuals, beginning with Homer, are only imitators; they copy images of virtue and the like, but the truth they never reach? The poet is like a painter who, as we have already observed, will make a likeness of a cobbler though he understands nothing of cobbling; and his picture is good enough for those who know no more than he does, and judge only by colours and figures.

      Quite so.
      In like manner the poet with his words and phrases may be said to lay on the colours of the several arts, himself understanding their nature only enough to imitate them; and other people, who are as ignorant as he is, and judge only from his words, imagine that if he speaks of cobbling, or of military tactics, or of anything else, in metre and harmony and rhythm, he speaks very well –such is the sweet influence which melody and rhythm by nature have. And I think that you must have observed again and again what a poor appearance the tales of poets make when stripped of the colours which music puts upon them, and recited in simple prose.

      Yes, he said.
      They are like faces which were never really beautiful, but only blooming; and now the bloom of youth has passed away from them?

      Here is another point: The imitator or maker of the image knows nothing of true existence; he knows appearances only. Am I not right?

      Then let us have a clear understanding, and not be satisfied with half an explanation…..

      It’s not ironic. He does grant a certain power to Homer, et al, and “charm” but that power is essentially deceptive. Homer may offer something like melodies and reveries, but that is not equal to medicine, engineering, political strategy etc (tho….Plato/Socrates does not feel poesy IS music…which he does allow…sort of the difference between Coltrane and some beatnik talent nite type, like a Ginzo reciting his ode to the lavatory).

    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      cherry picking […] overlooking

      No, and no.

      The quotation indicates what it’s said to indicate, namely an ‘open door’ both in the anti-“poetry” argument of The Republic and in the conversation – Academic or other – that The Republic catalyzes. It’s an illustrative quotation, horatiox, and, like every making-manifest, of course it’s intentionally selected. In this catholic sense, every word you’ve typed was ‘cherry picked’.

      But Socrates’s invitation to defend poetry ‘cherry picked’, to the neglect of ‘cherries’ that might contradict it? No: on this thread, it’s in the context of a) Socrates’s demonstration (in The Republic) of a thorough knowledge of Homer and of poetry (my argument: the knowledge of a lover/b>, not of a Perfesser or Critick), and b) the last move in the many-hours conversation of The Republic, which is the story of Er (that is, a piece of literature that works partly by virtue of its “charm”).

      Socrates’s disdain for “imitation”, and his preference for “reason” over “passion”, are well-attested – you could easily have picked many feet of paragraphs iterating them.

      But look again at what you’re quoting from – I mean, at the book (or scroll, or tablet, or iPod, or etc.) in your hand – . Plato’s text is a record of a conversation at which its reader is not present — the imitation of Socrates imitating (in conversation) logos.

      Is Plato unaware that his “dialogues” are themselves imitations of imitation?? – that they’re made – perhaps unsuccessfully – to function rhetorically? – that they’re crammed with seductively, then explosively, effective metaphor, characterization, dramatic structure?

      horatiox, that’s what I mean by “dramatic irony”, which is the strategy of Plato’s Socratic arguments against poetry, writing, and democracy – all of which Plato is – I think: quite justifiably – skeptical of, but not “against”.

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm

        Whoa. That’s a mishandled embolden operation – you can see where the “<" was omitted. I trust the flow of the argument is still intelligible . . .

      • horatiox said,

        July 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm

        Soc. proceeds via Logos…not Pathos, or even really Ethos (nor the imitation of Logos). While it is a ..discussion, it’s not drama, ironic or not. It’s philosophy. I would not claim it as the final word, but the passage does demonstrate that iconoclasm was part of the Tradition, for better or worse–also seen in some early church fathers, such as St. Aug. who applauded the closing of the roman theatres, which essentially featured porno round the clock. Agree or not, but dems the facts–in a sense duplicated in England when the puritans …even a John Locke…demanded the royalist theatres be closed. Or for that matter, marxist states, which censored about everything. Maoists started the party by tossing opera stars and intellectuals into the fields. In Vichy france the nazis actually allowed music and theatre, but all highly monitored.

        Hear hear for kinder, gentler, smarter censors–(ie, censoring Britneys…or most pop/rap/rock…as well as Sylvia Plaths and Ginzos du jour, and 90% of what passes for cinema. George Lucas, enemy of the state)

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm

        [I]t’s not drama, ironic or not. It’s philosophy.

        Well, horatiox, we disagree. If Plato’s philosophical conversations are not read as they live on the page, namely, as literature, as a literary rival to Homer – and not as, simply, a ‘logical’ counterargument – , then it’s Platonism which is being read — and not Plato.

        (I’d go so far as to say that literary complement to Homer is more accurate than the common – and, I think: commonly unreflective – “rival”. Again, Plato shows us how easily Socrates turns to Homer to elucidate – and to vivify – Socrates’s discourse, when Socrates desires, or is compelled?, to remember Homer’s poetry.)

      • horatiox said,

        July 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

        The section contra-belle lettres forms only part of the Republic, in which you’ll find–that is, if you read the cliffsnotes to that chestnut–an entire…Weltanschauung , including metaphysics, politics, law, history, etc. even reflections on science of the time–and the criticism of mimesis actually fits in with the theory of the Forms (which one perceives via…Reason, not via the dionysian intoxication of poetry). Of course it’s rather quaint and spooky, with hints of a sort of statist control not unlike Hegel’s –yet hardly literature, mere literature.

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm


        No, horatiox; “metaphysics, politics, law, history, etc. even reflections on science” are not – neither for Plato, nor for German philosophers – a matter of intuition, either of “world” or of its world-disclosive elements. If Cliff Notes has a Furr’n Word Glossary, take advantage!

        Plato’s Socrates propounds the “doctrine” of forms most ‘geometrically’ – in The Republic – with the image of the “divided line” in book 6 (509d – 511c). This rational image (4:2 :: 2:1) is a picture-in-words of the relationship between the cognitive states or experiences of understanding, reasoning, opining, and image-making.

        Do you see beyond your truffle-sensitivity to student crutches, horatiox? Socrates presenting, by way of practical explanation, the “divided line” is an example, in The Republic, of an imitation of an imitation.

        Now, check your Cliff Notes Shakespeares (any will do; my guess would be that the Merchant of Venice training wheels will help you with a minimum of fuss), or wikipedia for “dramatic irony”., and you should see that the “divided line”, among – what – a dozen similarly stimulative examples of figurative language, in a book purporting ‘to oppose’ the misdirections of mimesis, is dramatically ironic indeedy.

      • horatiox said,

        July 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm

        You need to re-check your Wortbuch, not. Weltanschauung is…world picture, world view. A large system, though based on the platonic metaphysics of the Forms.

        The “intuition” (in Kantian sense, space and time..not intuition as in “feminine intuition”) that you suggest has little to do with it, though the german philosophers certainly read Plato and Aristotle; Hegel’s ideas of the State as in Phil. of Right quite platonic, at least in terms of politics. And again, it’s not primarily a literary work, anymore than Aristotle’s metaphysics, physics, or politics were–except maybe to literatteurs. Whatever. It’s just troubling to some in the lit-biz to find out that the Classics did not always approve of their aesthetic ideology.

  14. thomasbrady said,

    July 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm


    You don’t have to tell us how many books you own and how much schooling you have. That’s silly. I grew up in Manhattan, the upper west side. I went to museums all the time, yea, even stood in front of a “real Pollock.” I think I saw a Pollock in London, once. Didn’t cry.


    Thanks for pointing out that Socrates didn’t outright ban the poets. That falsehood gets repeated all the time. Well done.

    Horatiox’s simple point still stands, however. Art qua art should be questioned. The proper response is not to tell us how many books you’ve read.


    • horatiox said,

      July 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      “””Art qua art should be questioned.”””

      The insistence on “art for art’s sake” might be the central error of the modernists, to continue your …polemics–the death of Theme, really (which even Aristotle held to be central)–related to your point on normativity, perhaps.

      Instead of a Macbeth’s tragic heroics, Ahabs and Ishmaels, or the romantics’ Prometheus, the literary-modernists ….insisted upon red wheelbarrows, spindrift, haiku-ism, problems with daddy. (not always–there were Gatsbys to skew, or at least F Scott tried). But in general. Why bother with some complex metaphor like Prometheus when plum blossoms will wow some over at Cafe Gorgonia? Or something like that. But, in a sense Pound even says that–ie, poetry like classical music was traditionally an aristocratic art (ie “Schackspeare” himself wrote for the nobles…and Byron in that tradition as well), not what say Charlie Dickens was about. It’s all the poor hipsters (ie see who don’t quite get that.

    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      Tom, “art for art’s sake” was a 19th c. aestheticism, right? – argued for, in their several ways, by Ruskin, Pater (most explicitly), Wilde. You’ll discover, utterly contra horatiox, that the “modernists” were not aesthetes who made any such “central error” as ‘art qua art’, but rather argued for all kinds of social and political ‘sakes’ that art be ‘for’.

      Say, where do you get the idea that I, anyway, or Plato’s Socrates, are talking about “art qua art”??

      (You’ll also discover, should you read The Great Gatsby – the novel, I mean; not the phrase – that Gatsby was not ‘skewered’, but rather was mourned with firm-but-gentle reverence. It was Tom and Daisy, and the “foul dust that preyed in [Gatsby’s] wake”, who were ‘skewered’.)

      • horatiox said,

        July 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm

        I read it, and Fitzgerald hardly praises Gatsby. He’s a vain fool (not to say capitalist), not “as guilty” as Tom and Daisy perhaps, but a fool nonetheless.

        And to claim that modernists such as Williams or Pound, Stevens, imagistes were not aesthetes….that’s quite off base. Imagism followed from the “fin de siecle” tradition. Surface, pretty interiors, roses, vases. The stuff you like.

        Now, not all writers were aesthetes–say a Dreiser. Or Jackie London. Even Upton Sinclair’s populist manifestos. or noir writers , sci-fi etc. But that’s not really modernism but realism or naturalism (for the ism of the AM)–and influenced by vulgarians such as Darwin, Marx, economics, history. But poets as a rule tend towards narcissism and avoid realism, and generally (..not always) don’t know squat about Marx or Darwin, positivism, etc even enough to criticize it intelligently.

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 30, 2010 at 8:42 pm

        Fitzgerald hardly praises Gatsby

        Here are some sentences from a paragraph spanning the first two pages of (at least) one copy of The Great Gatsby:

        And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. [. . .] Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction — Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. [. . . I]t was an extraordinary gift for hope,a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end. It is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men. [emphases mine]

        Nick’s appellation of ‘greatness’ for Gatsby is deeply qualified – “who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn” – , but the complexity of Nick’s perspective shouldn’t confuse anyone as to the moral, as well as the aesthetic (to which most of the characters respond), ‘greatness’ that Nick discerns in Gatsby, despite Nick’s confessedly ‘Puritanical squeamishness’ for Gatsby’s economic compulsion (as it were, ‘to buy’ a second chance).

        Now, horatiox, where in the book, are the ‘skewering of Gatsby’ and contempt for his ‘foolishness’ that you refer to?


        quite off base

        “Aesthete” doesn’t mean ‘appreciative of formal, craftsmanly aspects’; it indicates ‘privileging of formal aspects to the neglect of political-economic, social, psychological, etc. dimensions’.

        Pound’s criticism and poetry are suffused with political-economic proselytizing and cultural hectoring far beyond any celebration of sensation-for-the-sake-of-sensation. Eliot also reads about and writes art objects placed in political, social, and spiritual context, quite to the contrary of privileging ‘aestheticism’. Williams’s poems are often animated by concern for political and social aspects of life, again in contrast to privileging the formal concerns of an art object. Of Stevens, one could make a not-so-easily-dismissed argument that his poems are about, and are themselves, merely formal provocations merely to perceive – that’s what Kenner asserts when he calls Stevens a ‘nonsense poet’. I think Kenner is wrong about Stevens, about Stevens’s attempt to disclose the entwinement of imagination and reality as they relate to each other in language.

        There’s four “Modernists”, none of whom “followed from the ‘fin de siecle’ tradition” in a crude line-segment-historical fashion.

        horatiox, can you make a case that some other Modernist, affected as she or he might have been by, say, Laforgue, wrote art-for-the-sake-of-art poetry, a case as strong as Kenner’s case for Stevensian ‘nonsense’?

      • horatiox said,

        July 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm

        Nick may be the narrator, but whether he’s a reliable narrator’s another matter. I don’t have time to wade through the text again right now (and it’s been some years since last reading), but recall the discussions between the two, “old sport” etc. and Gatsby’s hustle, where he comes from, his exercise routine, reading of the classics, etc.—nouveau riche.

        Fitzgerald’s not exactly a marxist, but via Nick’s descriptions of the milieu, does make fairly obvious points about greed, ambition, lust (including Gatsby’s for Daisy), vanity, WASP optimism so forth–and scorn for Gatsby, even tho’ he’s not as corrupt as some…We’ll leave the verification of that inference as an exercise.

        –I’m not the one exactly condemning Pound (at least..across the board)…and not that interested in poetics, anyway, and not a lit-maven but…reading through the usual anthologized modernist pieces once a decade or so one may detect the imagist heritage (ie…the pretty vase heritage!) in the modernist snobs, even in Pound, tho’ the Great War obviously had an impact on him (and a few others).

        In a sense the asian aspects of modernism (even beat writers) should also be read as a type of aestheticism, arguably–escapist as well. We don’t have time to flesh the point out now, but…the exquisite zen garden, quietude, misty ink drawings–bushido, really, the culture of japanese nobles. So much for…History is Rational (and/or liberty and justice for all)

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 31, 2010 at 2:30 am

        We’ll leave the verification of that inference as an exercise.

        That’s going to have to be your default analytic, eh, talcumx?

        I don’t think Nick is “unreliable” – precisely because ‘he’ (assume scarequotes from here on) is as straightforward as he is about his judgements of Gatsby’s project (to regain Daisy) and failings (as when Nick sees a look pass across Gatsby’s almost-always uebercharming face and thinks, ‘this is a guy who would actually kill a man in rage’).

        Nick scorns – after pretty close desire-enabled contact with it – the world that Gatsby has made for himself an entry into. Nick is even contemptuous of his own actions in that seduced mode – I’m thinking of his affair with Jordan and the bitter way he ‘throws her over’ (which I think Nick understands to manifest his unhappiness with his own choices, his having-been-seduced by the glamor of that world as well as by Jordan’s attractiveness itself).

        But – to me, anyway – the gist of the novel is Nick’s judgement of Gatsby’s ‘greatness’, which is given the power it has – I rate it, in my small reading, as highly as As I Lay Dying, which I’d ‘vote for’ as Greatest of All Time – by Nick’s careful qualification of his perspective of Gatsby as much as by the lapidary excellence of the paragraphs and sentences.

      • thomasbrady said,

        August 1, 2010 at 1:22 am

        Ruskin was not “art for art’s sake:” for why did Ruskin attack James Whistler for throwing a ‘pot of paint in the public’s face?’ Whistler responded with a libel suit. Ruskin had very definite ideas on art.

        But the point I make over and over again is that art is mostly about cliques, not ideas. Not that ideas don’t count, but the cliques make it so difficult to sort them out, sometimes.

        But I think the confusion here is that “art for art’s sake” is a mere phrase of no meaning. For to say ‘this art is for the sake of art,’ the question still remains…and this art is what?

        No critic can write about art for more than a couple sentences before they reveal all sorts of ideas about what they think art should be; Wilde was for beauty and pleasure, not ‘art for art’s sake.’

        ‘Tis an unfortunate phrase.


  15. July 30, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    The “death of theme” can also be tied in very strongly to the workshop culture in poetry. In the poetry workshop, discussion of a poem’s theme is completely off limits–only “craft” (such as it is) is okay to address. The academic workshops are filled with mostly young and unread poets, a good many of whom majored in creative writing as undergrads. I’m not saying that no workshop trained poets have any ideas or themes–but developing these themes, questioning their validity, refining their arguments, these are all things they are probably going to have to do completely apart from “workshopping” their poems. The vast majority of contemporary poets receive no sort of education in philosophy, science, mathematics, etecetera–if they do get it, it’s by accident and their own inclination, and it is completely apart from their education as poets. Most of them don’t even suspect they should have these things. They think it’s more important to keep up with what’s getting published in the Pharmaceutical Industry Poetry Rag and APR.

  16. July 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Lots of intelligent and erudite people showing up here, Tom. Hope you can keep up.

    Be careful.

    But to the rest of you…until you actually come up with something better, back off from my heros: Jack (not “Jackie”) London, Darwin (Punctuated Equilibrium notwithstanding), Pollock and…of course, Mr. Blake.

    None of you could even touch Lao tzu, Thomas or Cummings, so simmer down.

    P.S. Homer rules!

    I’ll get back to you when I’m sober, which will be

    Hahahahahahahahahah NEVER!

    See ya!

  17. July 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Wait…that’s ‘heroes’, isn’t it?

    And did I mention Poe?

    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 30, 2010 at 6:35 pm

      Does “B.” stand for ‘Quayle’?

  18. horatiox said,

    July 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    You don’t sound much like Jack London, Gary, and for that matter, I doubt you want your PC, faux-marxist masters (or mistresses) at SillimanCo to hear that you approve of such a …manly, non-PC, hetero savage such as Jackie. Whatever.

  19. July 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm



    You guys win.

    I never actually enter contests, anyway, especially the ‘Nastiest Bastard on the Internet’ contests.


    Oh, but do you know what you’ve won?

    All that you’ll never see.

    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 31, 2010 at 1:34 am

      Comparing, in a light vein, a tiny error of yours – which you bring attention to; otherwise, I’d have thought: ‘typo’ – to Poor Danny’s struggles is nasty bastardy??


      Winning by being morally superior to “contests”?


  20. horatiox said,

    July 31, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Hey, you got F Scott’s name, Gar. Sort of like a dyslexic F Scott, neutered.

    Itz all good. Oh bay-be bay-be, itz a wild…world.

    Allah akbar (signing off for while, Scarriet)

  21. July 31, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Always wondered…does ‘J’ stand for Jerk or Jackass?

    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 31, 2010 at 1:37 am

      “J” jands jor je-licious, Jary JB. Jitzgerald.

    • horatiox said,

      July 31, 2010 at 3:02 am

      J? Was ist das? Ich bin ..Horatiox. Ho-rat-io-x.

      Yr another phony Gar.–about the only thing phonier would be Miss Superficial here, sort of the Ren to your Stimpy. Ya know, I don’t harbor grudges (usually that izz, at least outside of ..a 300 mile perimeter of Ellay or so…approximately), but the entire Silliman poet-fan club–byatches. Same for the old “beats”, or boooists. Spineless.

      Putting the Pound/modernist jass aside, the whole decorator-beatnik school …including that freak Creeley—isn’t even worth a few decent rants from Bukowski, or Kerouac’s wild rides , or the best of Mickey Spillane. Pussays, that’s what the lit-sters became. Origami specialists. Like yr pimp Silliman hisself. ‘Nuff said.

      (and Mr Scarriet probably pretty tired of me…but hey, we’re waxing Bryonic, Tom!)

  22. thomasbrady said,

    July 31, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Enter the drunken Gary (Alcibiades) who brings the symposium to a close. Did you bring the music and the females, Gar?

    “Back off from my heroes” —Gary

    We want females and music, Gar, not “heroes.”

    Briggs Seekins, as usual, brings clarity.

    Notevensuperficial is a bulldog and will rip any argument (his and yours) to shreds.

    horatiox is that lonely philosopher who scorns the arty dabbler; the scenesters will chase horatiox out of town, at last—Gary’s drunken art dealers throwing fistfuls of paint at the scorned titan…

    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm

      Tom, I’d remind that Alcibiades does not “bring the symposium to a close” by reeling drunkenly in; he produces a – I think: self-sobering – encomium, not to Eros, but rather to Socrates – a speech rich in humorous perspective on Socratic love (which we perhaps misname ‘Platonic love’).

      You’ll note that Socrates calls Alcibiades’s ‘praise’ of him “this satyric drama – and silenic – “, which theatricality “has become evident” (222 d; my transl in this post). This said to Agathon, whose victory at a dramatic contest they’re all celebrating.

      And remember the penultimate event of the dramatic arc of The Symposium (that is, before Socrates talks everybody to sleep and heads, with daylight, to the agora): “Socrates was compelling them to agree that knowing how to make comedy and tragedy [belonged to] the same man, and that the tragedy-maker by art was a comedy-maker.” (223 d)

      More even than The Republic, The Symposium is, rather than a philosophical treatise, a drama (starring more or less philosophically rigorous players).

      • horatiox said,

        July 31, 2010 at 11:07 pm

        Nada mas que basura. A typical belle-lettrist reduction of rationalism to …drah-ma. Say it trippingly on the tongue! Alcibiades is a bombastic loudmouth , and a model of militaristic ego (and reportedly queer as well). He’s being mocked. Superita can’t quite figure it out–maybe cuz he likes a Ernst Roehm like macho man around. A big brute!

        (this person “notevensuperficial” appears to be far more demonic and irrational than even Gar, Tom. Believe it. )

      • notevensuperficial said,

        July 31, 2010 at 11:33 pm

        bombastic loudmouth

        Um . . .

        reportedly queer

        Priceless, bore.

        Yes, Alcibiades is getting the laughter he’s begging for – read the book and you’ll see how alcibiadic your 350-lb. sphincter-curls are.

      • horatiox said,

        August 1, 2010 at 12:00 am

        Not priceless, puto. Just accurate reporting, puto. Bore, wow. yr usual Joanie River yap

        So I guess you turned tale re the challenge (ie, like valor, honor, etc..all that stuff Pound valued, and you don’t know shit about). So, you capitulated, folded as it were.

        Jews don’t write poetry (nor can most WASPs). Heck they can’t even write comments (usually). Now in yr little sentimental girly mind, you think that means…someone denies the “holocaust”. No. It means jews can’t write (tho when one …on a rare occasion holds up the US Constitution, bravo. Very seldom does it happen)

      • thomasbrady said,

        August 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

        I think the Symposium is philosophy and drama, both.

        I’ve always wondered why there seems to be no tradition of staging Plato’s dialogues as plays…it might be difficult, but it could be very interesting.

  23. July 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    It is said that in every thing will be found the seed of its opposite and, my, how ‘Harriet’-like Scarriet has become. Your mean streak, now revealed, Tom, is, well…surprising. More surprising even is that I would ever agree with Christopher Woodman, but he has you nailed, dude.

    Most bistros try to keep their customers coming back, not insult them and run them off. More’s the pity.


  24. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    July 31, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I hope you don’t go,
    It will hurt the show.
    It just ain’t Scarriet
    If we ain’t heard from Gary yet.

  25. horatiox said,

    July 31, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Tom, this convo has probably reached its rightful conclusion–but have you noted Silliman’s obsession with certain countercultural figures?? As with say Dylan and G-burg.

    Really, I think it’s a type of hustle in a sense–refer to the usual beat-hippie freaks, and move product. And it’s only a few select beatniks, like Dylan, g-burg & pals. I’ve yet to see like anything Kesey-related appear on S-man. ( Kesey sort of a buffoon but not such a bad scribe, as the few that actually read Cuckoo’s Nest realize).

    The beats on the whole were essentially low-life, semi-educated deviants, and their influence quite negative, tho’most of the little frauds in lit-land couldn’t tell you why. Burroughs even capped his wife at one point (and really an overrated deviant, tho he could manage some bad f*g noir at times). We might make an exception for Kerouac (at times, at least) who was sort of lumped in with them but quite different. (In the 60s JK did not want to associate with the freaks).

    It’s instant cred. too with certain cliques (ie…queer ones). Look, Ron Fatman’s posting more pics and perverted scrawls from G-burg! What a hero. It’s really nauseating–and we don’t have to say attend fundamentalist churches to say so ( I oppose the Fred Phelps sort of moralists, and opposed Prop 8…unlike many judeo-xtians).

    Have these people ever read say Heart of Darkness? (not to say yr romantic heroes)–Hod smokes any beat text ever scribbled. It’s as if the poetry biz was taken over by a wing of Vacaville….and yet the little hipsters (and hipsterettes) all think they’re doing something useful….
    (scuzi rant)

  26. July 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Below is a link that will demonstrate the true nature of your friend ‘Horatiox’ (the ‘J’ of Silliman fame). Poor Jimmy Behrle is no longer the ‘King of the Trolls’.

    ‘J’ has put even Jack Conway and Pirvaya (Kaltica) to shame.

    Harriet is Gone. Silliman is gone. And as far as I’m concerned, Scarriet is gone.


    • notevensuperficial said,

      July 31, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Well, Jnow JI Jsee, Gary.

      That boreatiox slime on Jessica Smith’s blog is hilarious. (She – understandably (?) – got bore’s bullshit a bit wrong, though: bore is pro-Bukowski, but anti-Pound.) “[W]oefullly underinformed” does needle bore’s last logical thread.

      • horatiox said,

        July 31, 2010 at 10:05 pm

        So is that yea or no, tough guy?

        Yr a bore, not to say a philistine, and like Gary another…Sill-Bot. Someone dares to diss yr sick retarded puto-pendejo g-burg, and yr…feeewings are hurt.

  27. horatiox said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Jessica Smith’s little clique, like Silliman’s just don’t like to see their NAMBLA heroes like G-burg insulted… or say AIPAC. Is that what bothers you Gar? And gosh, Silliman gets half a dozen nasty , non-PC comments a day. Shocking (some of us get 25+).

    The Rahm Emmanuel sort of centrist liberal (like Silliman, pro-war as well a few years back, thus pro-Bush) just can’t quite accept anyone who would dare question corporate liberalism.

  28. thomasbrady said,

    August 1, 2010 at 12:43 am


    You didn’t like the alcibiades reference?

    What “mean streak” of mine was “revealed” all of sudden? Could you explain? I’m sure no one reading Scarriet has any idea what you’re talking about.

    How in the world is Scarriet like Harriet? No way, my friend.

    Woodman soured on Scarriet for reasons that are still not clear to me. I have no idea what his problem is, nor what your problem is. I honestly don’t.

    There’s always going to be great differences of opinion, and I welcome that. What I don’t like is when people start this whole game of questioning the worth of others, calling others “mean,” etc. If free, intellectual discourse is too “mean” for you, go away. But if you like calling others “mean,” stick around. I might even turn it into a post. Was Blackwood’s too “mean” to Keats? Was Byron too “mean” to Southey? Was Poe too “mean” to Wordsworth? Was Kenner too “mean” to Millay? Was Eliot too “mean” to Poe? Was Logan too “mean” to Crane? Was too “mean” to Graham? Mean, mean, mean, mean! It’s a big world of mean, Gar.


    • Christopher Woodman said,

      August 2, 2010 at 2:26 am

      For such a bright guy you’re a very poor reader.

      Had you been able to read the article called If You Had to Choose Now, Harriet or Scarriet way back in March, you would have understood precisely what “soured” me on Scarriet, and why you were losing not only my respect but that of your other close colleagues on the site, Desmond Swords and Bill Kammann. You would also understand why not one of Scarriet’s many distinguished visitors ever returned, indeed why you are now left alone with Horatiox.

      What’s obvious is that you like it the way it is — that’s evident in your new self-serving version of About Scarriet. That’s why I had to come back in and say it all over again.

      And I would add to Gary’s “mean” the word “heartless.”

      Not that that matters to you, someone who loves Wittgenstein almost as much as a good song.


  29. thomasbrady said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:03 am


    Silliman is OK by me. I gave him hell and he’s still nice to me; he links Scarriet posts to his site without me even having to ask. I think the guy’s cool.

    I sense there’s a little campaign lately to “expose” you here on Scarriet. I hope you don’t pay it any mind. I just want to let you know I only judge the intellectual content of comments, not hearsay about people. I don’t care what people are saying on other blogs, unless it’s intellectul fodder for a Scarriet post. I don’t believe one can link one’s way to the ‘truth’ about someone.

    I like freedom of speech. Spam and libel and gratuitous coarseness will be gently removed, but everything else, from the comic to the sublime, is welcome.


    • horatiox said,

      August 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      I’m for freedom and dissent as well, and generally agree to “civility”, but when dealing with lit-types things can become heated. Silliman doesn’t just moderate/censor for the obvious epithets either, but for content (a point the Jessica Smith crowd haven’t quite figured out). Fine, don’t allow the n-word, or outright obscenity–though that’s a qualification of sorts–obviously many writers of the last few decades have used dirty words, even racism or sexism of various sorts ( a Norman Mailer type could say anything he wanted to..not the case for many others).

      Criticizing a fool like Al Sharpton doesn’t make one racist. Calling Larry Summers a corrupt zionist mobster doesn’t mean one approves of Mein Kampf, etc. It’s a reverse generalization in a sense–the do-gooders like Silliman assume that the use of any nasty epithet implies one has joined the skinheads or something. Nyet– it might be for humorous effect, irony, emphasis, even …gonzo. Whatever happened to Hunter S Thompson? Uh oh, he’s not being nice. He’d have waved his glock aimed at S-man’s pretentious corpulent a**.

      S-man now has shut his comments down altogether. As with the “weed whacker” spat. Some thought it was ludicrous, so they said so, rightfully. I mean, I think the PC language mavens (including S-man) want to eliminate a certain type of thinking–even rational, erudite (to some degree) or ..skeptical. Or gonzo. They don’t want HL Menckens (or Pounds). Or Hunter s Thompson. They want the cafe artistes, the sensitivity types, the origami specialists.

    • horatiox said,

      August 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      I sense there’s a little campaign lately to “expose” you here on Scarriet. I hope you don’t pay it any mind.

      You should know that many around the Silliman group are not as cute and cuddly as they seem, anymore than like S-man’s guru G-burg was. Savvy? Which is to say, scratch the surface of a cafe-ahhtist-beat-decorator, and you usually find like a sleazy little pedophile who should be locked the phuck down (and the femmes are either blind to that, or don’t care). Let’s not name names—yet…but fairly common throughout the Lit-biz. (No prude here…even might travel to say Montreal for some R & R…but have some problems with NAMBLAoids)

  30. thomasbrady said,

    August 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm


    I’m not really interested in people’s private hells…suffering is of no interest to me, per se, and if they are dangerous let the police or social workers deal with that stuff…I worry about mine and my own. I won’t cast those kinds of aspersions…it’s not my job.

    Was it ‘Look’ magazine ran a story on the Beats and gave them fame? Burroughs had the money…Mark Van Doren was Ginsberg’s mentor at Columbia, and Van Doren was connected to the New Critic/TS Eliot modernists…and wasn’t Mark Van Doren’s brother, Charles, the cheater in that game show scam? Sweating in the booth, and all the time knowing all the answers?

    I surely am not guilty of believing artists virtuous by nature; in fact, I’m rather the opposite, believing most of Art and Letters to be nothing but a con. I guess that makes me a traitor among the artsy-fartsy set, which is fine with me.

    Silliman in his blog article explaining his decision to not have comments anymore with the treason-arrest photo of Pound, implied that when the poetry world was small and mostly male 50 years ago it was OK to be “combative,” but now that it was larger and had more women, the “combative” element was not acceptable. That makes sense, I suppose, but I really don’t like anything that smells of censorship, and I wonder if it doesn’t sound a little sexist…if Ron doesn’t want the pain of deleting spam, that’s fine, he can make that call…but the timing of his announcement, as if criticism of Massey’s poetry was some sordid crime against humanity…that I find really bizarre…


    • notevensuperficial said,

      August 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      Charles is Mark’s son; Mark’s brother, and so Charles’s uncle, was Carl.

      I thought Van Doren’s – that is, Mark’s – Shakespeare book was excellent.

      Tom, having visited only occasionally (when linked from places like here), I don’t know Silliman’s blog well, His turning-off of the comment threads isn’t really censorship. He isn’t stopping anybody from publishing – on the internet or elsewhere – anything. He’s just putting out pamphlets, as it were, that don’t include letters-to-the-editor.

      Not knowing the guy except for through some poems and a handful of blog posts, I’d guess from a great distance that he’s just wearied by the recent spate of ugliness we’ve been sent over to have a look at. Maybe he’ll get avalanched by private emails and he’ll go ahead and re-install the thread function, complete with a filter strategy: say, IP blocks whose rationale would be individually disclosed by two or three abusive/crazed posts per blocked goon left standing in an 86 zone.

      • thomasbrady said,

        August 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm


        Thanks for the van doren correction.

        I didn’t mean to imply that Silliman halting comments on his blog was censorship, but his editorial on said move: ‘the “combative” should not be allowed, etc’ seemd to me to be a censorship position.

        I think intellectual combativeness has its place, and why not on a blog?

        I respect those who ‘just want peace.’ But for those who want peace to berate others in the process seems disingenous. Practice what you preach.


    • notevensuperficial said,

      August 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      I meant to say: I think the Pound photo was meant to be an identifier-by-association, not of Silliman (?), but rather of the privilege-abusive posters (like J) who occasioned Silliman’s (over-?)reaction. Or have I read the sign wrongly?

      • thomasbrady said,

        August 1, 2010 at 7:12 pm

        I’m not sure what the Pound photo signifies, either. Maybe it just refers to the Dylan lyric, ‘Pound and Eliot fighting in the captain’s tower…’ Nothing more than that. A picture of Pound. I found the whole post a little rambling, but Ron’s probably feeling kind of emotional right now…

    • horatiox said,

      August 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      You’re the harrasser and troll here (as with trolling my comments. I wasn’t addressing you, but responding to Brady’s posts. So like, F–off). And who is J? Are you running network sniffers, or one of the Silliman stooges is, Supita? Perhaps something to hide.

      Besides, S-man had the screening app. set up. So Fatman sees a naughty comment–“jewette” apparently set him off –and he doesn’t post. Difficult one there. Or perhaps you want to call some snitchy pals of yrs in the CIA or something. Eeek! Call J-Edgar Hillary, Supita! Maybe get a badge for Ron Snitchman & pals too

      (they’re all scum, Brady. Believe it. Not Americans, not rationalists, not even interesting bohemians. Certainly not…christians.)

      • notevensuperficial said,

        August 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm


        Not sure which post(s?) you’re directly responding to here, spittletox. The post – yours- that I’m now responding to descends from Tom’s Silliman’s-thread-disarticulation post; between there and here I haven’t addressed anything to you.

        Want a lollipop to go with your meds, sweetie?

      • horatiox said,

        August 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

        Don’t refer to me or respond to my posts anymore punk. Capichay, trash?

        I got yr number, your IP, your psychotic rants, yr satanic garbage. And so does my attorney, and the LA DA, now, punk. Same for S-man and his persp (and Brady if need be)

      • notevensuperficial said,

        August 1, 2010 at 10:21 pm

        I got yr number

        Aw, how sweet, labiabotox – and all for just one lolli’!

        Have your esq. diving-judge me your bunk number at the laughing academy and I’ll put a file in a box of chock-lits 4 U. [smiley face] I’ll even throw in a book for you ‘to read’.

      • horatiox said,

        August 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm

        Ah Soopita, don’t be scared, comma queen.

        Just like..Berdoo angels swingin’ by yr pad, any day . Ouchie! Maybe wear a mini

    • horatiox said,

      August 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      No, S-man probably wants to suggest Pound deserved to be busted, put away for years, humiliated, etc. His rant seems to suggest that–like the old 60s schtick that nothing mattered until, now, man. Don’t look back, so forth. Folderol, like most of his hero Dylan’s music (or his guru’s G-burg sanitorium scrawls).

      I wager the Zimmy-man of today, a bit…more sober than Dylan of the 60s, doesn’t care for the endless pairing up with g-turd. S-man’s chaotic scrawlings are not even Dylan. For that matter, Dylan opposed the Iraq war, unlike S-man. Whatever .

      The hyper-moderation fetish of S-man and related sites is precisely the opposition of what freaks argued for in the 60s. I wager Fats circa ’67 probably said, anything goes, man, even ugly sh*t, like the n-word, pig, f*g, dyke, jews..Smash the State! It’s only much later the language cops took over (like 80s)


  31. thomasbrady said,

    August 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm


    Don’t you think certain buzz words do insult to the point where the other will no longer be friendly or rational? so why keep using those buzz words, for then civility is no longer possible and even “interesting bohemians,” never mind an atmosphere where “rationalism” can thrive, will not be possible…

    I’m not trying to be a pill…you and supe have obviously reached the ‘insult stage’ of intellectual interaction and if you want to go at each other, be my guest. I don’t mind.

    If you have made up your mind that indeed “they’re all scum” then what’s left to do? I suppose you want to warn others off them and that’s why you continue to make your thoughts known on the whole subject.

    But what do you mean by “scum?” Is this just an expression, or do you have some serious personal experience with them in which you’ve been wronged?

    By “scum,” do you mean intellectually dishonest? Stupid? Or something more nefarious? I’m guessing you don’t mean the latter…

    And are you talking in the abstract, about a type of person, or are you referring to actual persons who have done you actual harm? Just to clarify…

    My guess is such hostile discourse aims to narrow down and clarify an otherwise overly complex or confusing set of circumstances…rage, or the ‘flight or fight’ impulse is nature’s way of simplifying and resolving a situation which is dangerous due to a possible threat which exists amid a swirl of confusion. So instead of having a long debate with someone where you argue point after point after point, you just say, “you know what? you’re a nitwit and not worth my time” or something to this effect. I don’t know that these natural impulses work very effectively in intellectual discourse, however. If you have an army, like Cromwell, you just tell Parliament to shut up. But if you’re just having an intellectual discussion with someone, it seems to me you have to hear the other person out and make your case in a civil manner.

    Perhaps I’m just droning on, now…

    Please don’t misunderstand me…I’m not saying I wish I had an army…I like the challenge of intellectual exchange…I always liked a good game of Risk, where the playing field is even, or that even more interesting game which is like Risk, but uses no dice…Diplomacy…


    • horatiox said,

      August 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      I have had some dealings with …shall we say, Silliman’s coterie in California, southern and northern for a few years..actually over two decades or so. And I’m convinced (at least…95% sure) the entire indie-poet beat/MFA/-blog scene rips people off. Students primarily. Im not to the banning books stage, but these people have taken over the humanities more or less –it’s part of the quasi-marxist/postmodernist/PC agenda (beat lit sort of a precursor to pomo in ways) . That’s not to say one joins the Foxnews types, GOP, etc. But I’m opposed to the entire hustle. Perhaps it’s not that …dangerous, but S-man has become sort of a blog star (though more through hustling than talent).

      Real writers generally have some education (not just an MFA) and finally put together a manuscript and try to get it published, maybe hire an agent, so forth. And most do not go very far. But in poesy-land (and indie land) …just spew whatever. Print it up. Paste it on yr blog. Scream it to a drum machine. Blah.

      S-man’s own writing’s a chaotic mess, if not madness. One interesting line or paragraph out of a few hundred, who cares–(and the lang-po scrawls should not be mistaken for like Joycean like….labyrinthes). I think S-man’s mentally ill, really, like most of the freaks (or “poets” as a rule) who post to his blog–or did, before he had the hissy fit. Im so pissed at …jewette..Im, im not allowing comments anymore! So there. Drama queen.

      Really the best writing of old-timey gutbucket realists–say Steinbeck–outdoes the little poetry circle jerk. It’s like a symptom of something–suburban narcissism gone amuck….

      • thomasbrady said,

        August 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm

        thanks, horatiox,

        “And I’m convinced (at least…95% sure) the entire indie-poet beat/MFA/-blog scene rips people off. Students primarily.”

        Yea, the pedagogical aspect is very important. Letters used to include languages, philosophy, history, a certain rigor, and now it’s become very MFA ‘sandbox artsy-fartsy.’ I agree. I think you mentioned Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s friend? You can see the trend in essays by Allen Tate and John Crowe Ransom, the U.S. Fugitive/Southern Agrarian/New Critic wing of Euro-Modernism. Robert Penn Warren & Cleanth Brooks’ textbook ‘Understanding Poetry’ (a Deweyean ‘democratic’ text which praised Williams and Pound haiku-poems and attacked Poe) was read by all the GIs who flooded the universities after the war. Paul Engle, a terrific fund-raiser, and MFA godfather, was given his Yale Younger Poets prize by one of the Fugitives, and he went to Oxford with a Rhodes scholar just like Ransom and all the New Critics…they all went to London, Emerson, Frost, Pound, Eliot, the New Critics, Whitman didn’t go to London, but the Pre-Raphaelites rescued his reputation, even Melville was resurrected in England…

        I’m still a little puzzled by your thing for Pound. Didn’t his Cantos give license to what you call Silliman’s “chaotic mess, if not madness?”

  32. notevensuperficial said,

    August 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    [J]ust spew whatever. […] hissy fit

    Tom, surely you see that the free-speech advocate who’s – unbelievably, but hilariously – threatening another poster for laughing at her punkz doll tat’ is impervious to “Diplomacy” recommendations — because there’s nobody there to talk to. Look at the deterioration the last couple of days: she receives specific, detailed readings – she pretzels tantrum yoga. She gets tantrum re-speck – she goes NAMBLA- core.

    narrow down and clarify

    I don’t think my boorishness and incredulous contempt have been uncalled-for – but then, I wouldn’t.


    • horatiox said,

      August 2, 2010 at 5:18 am

      Supa, yr getting hysterical again. PMS? That time of the month?

      I said step in the street, chump. Either you do, or you don’t, apparently (and however bor-reeng that sounds, it’s about Honor. Which Pound understood. And me to some extent. And you not at all). So Ill take that as you concede and will now squeek like a byatch for a few days.

      (this freak started this sh*t, Tom. I said nothing to him. He/she started heckling. upset probably because someone dissed g-burg one of his beat queer heroes? IM not sure.)

      • thomasbrady said,

        August 2, 2010 at 1:15 pm

        “(this freak started this sh*t, Tom. I said nothing to him. He/she started heckling.”

        duly noted

        Do what you will with Scarriet shall be the whole of the law.

    • notevensuperficial said,

      August 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      Your short-term memory is as accurate as your action-painted cultural ‘theories’, bore. When you lick the sugar off and throw the rest of the pills out through the window-bars, those blank periods get longer and longer, don’t they?

      And such thrilling threats! – as if that friendly bruiser at the voluntary end of your leash would let you make poo-poo “in the street”. Really, bore, when you intuit a world-perspective whole, it’s important to go ‘back’ and analyze your mental phenomena for, um, incoherencies . . .

      • horatiox said,

        August 2, 2010 at 3:50 pm

        yawn. Save yr breath, daffodil. You got some commas to correct!

        Yr WF Buckley schtick doesn’t impress me anymore than yr spamming in yr favorite Hallmark memories does.

  33. thomasbrady said,

    August 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Either we need a new post, a ‘clear-the-air’ verse from Noochie-Coochie, or I’m gonna sit back with a big tub of popcorn while the fur flies…

  34. Christopher Woodman said,

    August 2, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Take a break and fix Scarriet — for the third time a comment of mine is not appearing in the Recent Comments list.

    It’s a reply to what you said about me in Comment 28 above, so it’s relevant.

  35. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    August 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Another song that makes me weep
    Is this by 20/20
    About the many joys of speed
    Despite the drawbacks plenty.

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      It appears to me you fancy
      Iconographic im’g’ry
      Music sound: ’80
      I bet you like madonna
      I’ll link her, if you wanna

      • The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

        August 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm

        No no no,
        That isn’t true,
        Here’s a different link
        To prove it to you.

  36. Music/Song/Lyrics support said,

    December 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    More music fun:

  37. thomasbrady said,

    December 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    The golden age of Scarriet: the summer of 2010!

  38. Gerald Parker said,

    August 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Cat Stevens, alas, has faced too much revilement from having converted to Islam. Cat, i.e. now Yusuf Islam, is still a public figure in the U.K., but of the Muslim World, mostly. I have read some of his post-conversion writings and rest assured that he still is a fine and very decent human being. There is a strong Sufi element in his Muslim thought, though he does not seem to carry this very far. He is very generous with charities. An Islamic pamphlet describing his conversion is available from an Islamic Youth organisation, which helps to clarify why he converted. Anyway, the fine old Cat of yore still is the same man, just a lot more satisfied spiritually than he had been as a British-Greek young man seeking his way.

  39. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    November 3, 2013 at 4:29 am

    Well, yes, except he agrees with the fatwa that was issued against Rushdie. He would have been better off converting to Mormonism. At least he would have had magic underwear to go along with the deal.

    • Gerald Parker said,

      November 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      I am with Cat Stevens regarding Rushdie, though I don’t think that fatwahs (Islam) or The Index (Catholicism) are the right approaches to resisting such low-life literature. It is modern-day willfulness and trendiness that perceives Rushdie as such a great and heroically virtuous figure. His novel is revolting, verging on pornography, a kind of indecency of the spirit. And it is windy and excessively drawn out filth, at that.

      Please, I do understand how one must resist Islamic fundamentalism, but Rushdie’s approach leads to subhuman animalism and scorns what is good, natural, and virtuous, as well as what is just backwards in Islamic culture. I know that I’ll get thrashed for saying that, but I really do think that this is so. I’ll admit that I could not bear to read his Satanic Verses in full, but dipping into it made me feel too nauseated to bother reading such a long tirade from beginning to end.

      • Diane Roberts Powell said,

        November 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm

        Cat Stevens thinks that Rushdie should be killed for insulting the prophet.

        • Gerald Parker said,

          November 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm

          If Cat really believes that, it reflects badly on him, even if Rushdie is a slimy albeit literary quasi-pornographer.

  40. thomasbrady said,

    November 3, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    It all comes down to: the Good and what authority do we trust to promote it? This is proven by the Cat Stevens article and the long tangled thread (including links) below it.

  41. drew said,

    November 4, 2013 at 12:26 am

    A hirsute young singer could do stuff
    with his voice, painting pictures of true stuff
    He reduced us to tears
    in the midst of the years –
    But Cat Stevens was better than Yusuf…

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