THE FORM WAR

JGwithGlobe

Newton’s discovery that the apple which fell at his feet obeyed the same law as all the spheres above only diminishes in that mind which judges post-1911 physics as so counter-intuitive and incoherent, it excuses sloppy and obscure poetry.  The universality of Newton’s laws and the universality of E=MC2 has worth beyond anything that may have fallen and broken in 1911.

Shakespeare’s “light’s flame” in Sonnet #1 is post-Newtonian—science is not the same as history, yet some shallow thoughts on poetry depend on a science which follows a perfect chronological path. The Modernist (as the name implies) replaces nuanced thinking with pure chronology.

The very latest 21st century physics approves of the Big Bang theory as laid out in 1848—by Edgar Poe.  America’s first critic also ought to get more credit for showing, in his Rationale of Verse, how the origins of quantitative poetry and language itself grew up together.

John Gallaher raves on.  We at Scarriet don’t mean to pick on Professor Gallaher (we think he is some kind of poetry professor)—it’s just that his brainwashing is, unfortunately the same as all the rest, and he makes a good example.

Free-versers (I’m quoting Marvin Bell from his Iowa days) cry indignantly, “Form, not forms!”

Gallaher repeats this hoary formula:

One can still profitably teach and study poetry as poetic forms. That’s a great way to talk about poetry up through E.A. Robinson. That’s how I learned poetry in High School and as an undergrad back in the 1980s. But what I feel like I didn’t get was a study in the most interesting things that have been going on since 1911.

The Modernist theorist has won (he thinks) by out-simplifying his formalist opponents: an open-ended interest in form trumps a pedantic interest in forms.

Out-simplifying is the usual way to win any philosophical, or scientific, or metaphysical argument. But the Modernist buffoon has only out-simplified quantitative poetry in his own mind.

An interest in quantitative poetry is not defined by an interest in poetic forms—the quaint designation used by free-versers to mask the real issue.  Every poet worth the name is interested in quantity (and its sub-genre of poetic forms) while the Modernist, free-verse crackpot, wielding the false scepter of alleged post-1911 science—which has supposedly transformed his art—is interested in nothing.

There is always a great deal of high-flown talk from the Modernist of history and science.  We quote liberally from Gallaher:

Furthering the point, I think that the hundred years since the start of Modernism (It started August 15th 1911, by the way), a century of new advances in science and the way we perceive the world around us, calls for a new approach to talking about and teaching poetry.
The intellectual practices of how we talk about and teach the poetry of the last century (and continuing into this one) have not kept up with the changes in the practice of the art. We must change. The free-verse legacy has created a literary question (or questions) that haven’t been answered.
It seems to me sometimes when I’m talking to someone who has had some experience with poetry (almost exclusively prior to the 20th Century), that it’s as difficult to talk about new poetry as if I were trying to explain some aspect of Quantum Theory to someone who has only known Newtonian Physics.
This is not to knock them. Newton is still very important to the history of physics. All I’m saying is that, as poetry continues to bring one into the presence of a language act unique to itself, that language act, that approach to how language is, changes over time. And time demands new approaches. Not just because of the new poetry being written, but because of the people who are studying poetry. They also change over time, as the times change.
Form is not the best opening salvo in a course on poetry, and it’s precisely the wrong one in a contemporary poetry course. It still has a place, a large place, but I don’t believe that place is primary. Contemporary poetry, or a fairly large percentage of it, is outside the conception of what poetry is that reigned before 1911, or even—or especially—the way it was conceptualized as an object of study by the New Criticism.
I think we should be using the more innovative pedagogical strategies we use in teaching theory or fiction when we teach contemporary poetry.
Most people learn poetry through a historical lens, starting with very, very old things. Wonderful things, don’t get me wrong, but old things. I think that’s backwards. Or actually, I think completely different approaches need to be taken after The Romantics, but that’s a different argument.

It is cringe-worthy to hear such thinking boast of its own pedagogy, for such thinking is not pedagogcial, but poison.  Shakespeare and Newton are all very good in their way, but now, according to Gallaher, we’ve got Quantum Physics—and Charles Olson.   Why Charles Olson or John Ashbery or Rae Armantrout are more ‘Quantum Physics’ than Shakespeare is something Gallaher hopes we’ll just take for granted, because, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?  Rae Armantrout, Quantum Physics! They go hand-in-hand! No, they don’t.

“All I’m saying is that, as poetry continues to bring one into the presence of a language act unique to itself,” Gallaher writes—and what does this mean?   A language act unique to itself. Is this the reason for poetry?  Is that what poetry strives for, or is that what poetry has been—a “unique act?”—since 1911?  Does poetry shed light on linguistics?  Or is linguistics shedding light on poetry?  And is this true only since 1911?  Because…why?  And it doesn’t help that Gallaher adds, “that language act, that approach to how language is, changes over time.”  That’s all well and good, but what exactly happened that was so earth-shattering in 1911, again?  I must have missed that.  There’s a blindness, an hysteria, here.  I’d bet the farm that Gallaher really has no idea what he means by “a language act unique to itself.”

Now listen to Gallaher as he attempts to elucidate the profundity which sets Modernist poetry apart from “old things” which poets like Keats, Milton and Shakespeare used to write:

I would like to redirect the post I made last week a bit. Craft (form, etc) is important to poetry, and to my thinking about and reading poetry. What I was reacting to is the way—tonally maybe—people sometimes, often even, think of poetry as an erector set of formal machines. Poetry does have to get made, and everything made has a form, and a craft to create that form, but I’m more interested in the spirit behind it.

Part of this spirit, or my desire to talk about the spirit of the art object comes from the fact that there are a great many blanks in any art object. I prefer to hang out there. It’s one  of the major flaws of the way poetry is often taught in schools. Blanks can bring terror to teachers. Blanks aren’t testable the way non-blanks are. But the blanks are the very places we go to when we’re talking about the poems we love. The question of just what Wallace Stevens is getting at in “The Idea of Order at key West.” It’s the way things DON’T link up that are more interesting to me than the way they do.

That’s a form and craft issue too, but we tend to avoid those places, because they have the tendency to tie us up in knots, and that is a vulnerability we often don’t want to show to others, especially if we’re supposed to be experts.

Connotation and denotation, in poetry, for example, are part of a fuzzy interdependence. They are never in total control. Things happen there, that open what I’m calling blanks. This movement is an easy way to deconstruction, sure, but it also allows moments co-creation. All art is co-creation in this way, in its context, its situation.

How one handles those moments (as author or as co-creating reader) is more important, or, as important, as the form, the means of control in the poem, the art object. Even if one dislikes the blanks, one must deal with them, just as if one is bored or uncomfortable with the more usual formal issues, one still has to participate with them.

“Even if one dislikes the blanks, one must deal with them,” Gallaher urges.  But what are these “blanks,” exactly?   Is he speaking of ambiguity?  Ambiguity was not invented in 1911.  Further, Gallaher, by finding so much pleasure in those “fuzzy” and “vulnerable” and “not in control” aspects, and in the “blank,” as opposed to the “non-blank” places, is choosing not to be ambiguous at all.  What we see is a man certain that he prefers uncertainty.

And what happens when one becomes more interested in the ambiguity in poetry than the poetry itself?  We find ourselves exactly in the middle of where the art of poetry finds itself today: lost, confused, and forgotten, crying out, “1911! 1911!”

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are loaded with ambiguity, a far more potent mixture of ambiguity than we find in Stevens.  But Gallaher with his post-1911 glasses on, will never see this.

Gallaher, in his modernism, is far more certain about things than any poet or philosopher was before 1911.  Gallaher prefers the “spirit behind the form.”   Gallaher is sure there is a “form” over here and a “spirit” over there.   Is this post-1911 uncertainty?  Really?

Gallaher can’t even fake the ‘ambiguity’ rhetoric well, much less make it convincing.

We begin with Plato, who invented Western Thought.  Plato defined art as measurement.   Not form, but form that can be measured.  You can simplify with, “Form, not forms!” all you want.  But form really misses the point. Poetry is form that can be measured.  Is that simple enough for you?

Gallaher cited Stevens’ “The Idea of Order at Key West” as an example of “blank” mastery.  Let’s compare this modern poem by Stevens to a 16th century chestnut,  Shakespeare’s sonnet, “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?”  Let’s see which poem is more unique, and has more of that mysterious “blank” quality Gallaher loves.  Let’s use actual examples to find out what 1911 hath wrought.

First, the Stevens:

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.
If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

Stevens begins by telling us a “she sang beyond the genius of the sea,” which sounds pretentious, and it seems we are already ‘at sea.’  Then he tell us, “the water” (that would be the sea, or perhaps part of the sea?) “never formed to mind or voice, /Like a body wholly body, fluttering /Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion /Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry, /That was not ours although we understood, /Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.”  We “understood” the “cry” of “the water,” though it lacked “mind” and “voice” and “body, fluttering its empty sleeves.”  OK.

Second stanza: Neither she, nor the sea “was a mask.”  But Stevens invokes the sound of the sea in his poem.  Her song and the sea’s song are nicely tangled up.  Pretty good.

Third stanza: Repeats theme of second stanza: her singing and the “ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea,” which just happens to be near, described.  A “we” is introduced, listening for a “spirit” that “we knew.”  The sky is described, as well.

Fourth stanza: The “she” becomes “artificer” and “maker” and the “sea” becomes her “world” and her “song.”  The “we” also “beheld her striding there alone.”

Fifth stanza: A “Ramon Fernandez” is asked “why, when the singing ended,” the sea was “arranged.”  A town and its lights are described.

Sixth stanza: The ejaculation might as well be quoted in full: “Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,/The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,/Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,/And of ourselves and of our origins/In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.”   “To order words of the sea” might sum up the surface intent of the poem, and this phrase also might be said to represent its depth, which at times earnestly, and at times coyly, is intimated.  “There never was a world for her except the one she sang and, singing, made” sums up the “she,” a figure missing from the final two stanzas, where a “Ramon Fernandez” is addressed. (Ramon is probably a stand-in for Stevens’ influential Harvard professor, the poet and critc, George Santayana.)

The broad theme of Key West: ‘the poem is what the poem sings, the poet’s song is a world of distances and dimensions and enchantment, for an audience poised between Man’s meaning and nature’s murmurings,’ is a pleasant enough one, and Stevens does a nice job of painting his theme with sound.

The Stevens poem reminds me of this song from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

When that I was a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

The Twelfth Night song creates the same effect as Key West; the rain replaces Stevens’ sea; yet Stevens seems to have a palpable design upon us; Stevens tells us what his poem means: “the sea, whatever self it had, became the self that was her song,” etc  We’ve all experienced rain every day; “she sang beyond the genius of the sea” and “we beheld her striding there alone” is fantastical and strained, by comparison. The antique song, with its strange folk song simplicity, actually does what Stevens tries to do in Key West, with its “ever-hooded sea,” better.

But now, as we promised, Sonnet #18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Shakespeare, as naturally as can be, starts a simple romantic conversation by demolishing Aristotle’s idea that metaphor is the key to poetry, rejects the world, conquers death, expands the prophecy to include all mankind, and makes it all come true with a “this”—which is his poem.

Did someone say “language act unique to itself?”

Mr. Gallaher?  

You’re welcome.

Without its formal properties, the Sonnet, as magnificent as the thought that went into it is, would fall apart.  The sound-unity which makes it a “this” is both its limit and its law, and the thoughts and ideas, the cause of the sonnet, are limited by law as well.  The ‘form’ is not simply the poem’s skeleton; the form is the whole of it, its divisions and additions—all its parts—are what it is, from idea to final  product, on every level.

We have all the “blank attributes” and mystery we need in Shakespeare’s “this.”  We could ponder for hours on how Shakespeare arrives at that little word.

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43 Comments

  1. October 16, 2011 at 5:13 am

    An Old Friend

    Visited a dear old friend today;
    been a long time since I’ve seen her.
    It was good to see her again. I missed her.
    I think she was glad to see me too.
    She gave me a little wave and we embraced.
    She’s been a friend of the family, it seems,
    for almost forever, since I was a child at least,
    and our affection was never misplaced.
    As lives change and fortunes drift
    it’s good to have a friend who’s always there,
    someone constant and wise who offers
    no rejection and never changes,
    to fill your cup with a helping hand.

    It was good to see her again…always the same
    in her wrinkled old blue and white shift.
    But though welcoming and willing to listen,
    very old and somewhat nervous, never still,
    ever tending her garden, feeding her birds or,
    with delicate care, her seaside souvenir collection
    continuously rearranges, always fussing over
    and smoothing the sand.

    Copyright 2010 – Ponds and Lawns-New and Corrected Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
      So far from variation or quick change?
      Why with the time do I not glance aside
      To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
      Why write I still all one, ever the same,
      And keep invention in a noted weed,
      That every word doth almost tell my name,
      Showing their birth and where they did proceed?
      O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
      And you and love are still my argument;
      So all my best is dressing old words new,
      Spending again what is already spent:
      For as the sun is daily new and old,
      So is my love still telling what is told.

  2. marcusbales said,

    October 17, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Art and Reality
    James Simmons

    From twenty yards I saw my old love
    Locking up her car.
    She smiled and waved, as lovely still
    As girls of twenty are.

    That cloud of auburn hair that bursts
    Like sunrise round her head,
    The smile that made me smile
    At ordinary things she said.

    But twenty years have gone and flesh
    Is perishable stuff;
    Can art and exercise and diet
    Ever be enough

    To save the tiny facial muscles
    And keep taut the skin,
    And have the waist, in middle-age,
    Still curving firmly in?

    Beauty invites me to approach,
    And lies make truth seem hard
    As my old love assumes her age,
    A year for every yard.

  3. Nooch said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:45 am

    According to the website historyorb.com, for August 15, 1911:

    Historical Events

    Results 1 – 1 of 1

    – Procter & Gamble unveils its Crisco shortening

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      LOL

      Thanks, Nooch.

      Yes, please, somebody tell us what happened in 1911, or after 1911, that changed how poetry is supposed to be written?

      Use specific examples of post-1911 poetry and show how it is more ‘scientific’ or ‘modern’ than a sonnet of Shakespeare’s written in the 16th century.

      Please.

      And what are these “innovative pedagogical strategies” that Gallaher mentions? I’d like to see them!

      • Nooch said,

        October 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

        Chief in an accounting’s specificity
        Would have to be electricity,
        The production and distribution of same,
        The Promethean spark of modernism’s fame.

  4. October 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    High Waves

    The wind tore the mainsail and the rope broke,
    swung the boom and tipped us. I lost the helm!
    We floundered, so I’m sorry.
    Then, lifted by the swell, I grabbed the wheel again,
    made her steady and got her back on course.

    The sea clutched the keel and swung her ‘round,
    crossways to the current. We lost the jib but
    were righted by the well, again corrected.
    So I’m sorry, but you must trust me with my ship.
    I have no control over this ocean, you see,
    nor the flotsam and storms spread upon it.

    But I know her pitch and roll, can name her every line.
    You haven’t sailed the seas I have, don’t know my charts
    so don’t pretend to read the compass.
    The tack she sails is mine. I know her every rope
    and the cargo that she carries is my own life’s hope.

    Copyright 2008 – Tall Grass & High Waves, Gary B Fitzgerald

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Nice, Gary. One of your best poems, I think.

  5. Mark said,

    November 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Granted you shouldn’t really be talking about poetry in the first place, but you really REALLY shouldn’t be talking about science, Tom.

    The advances in physics that start in the early 20th Century don’t ‘disagree with’ or ‘build upon’ Newton, they totally disprove him. There is no “universality” in Newton. Newton makes for a convenient shorthand and, because of this, is not entirely useless – but Newtonian thought is incorrect. Full stop.

    You do realize that, right? There’s no world where Newton and Einstein coexist. One is wrong and the other is… well let’s say less wrong 🙂

    Further, the way you talk about “Quantum Physics” makes me think you don’t have much of a grasp on it.

    Quantum mechanics, in a very real way, DOES put an end to “Western Thought”… It shows the Socratic line of thought to be predicated on a false premise. Turns out Heraclitus was right (maybe Democritus, too?) and Plato (and because of his huge and justified influence, every philosopher since Plato) was wrong.

    (sidenote: maybe this is why your own poetry is so lackluster and uninspired – beauty is truth, remember. In clinging to ignorance of what is true you shoot yourself in the foot and cannot produce anything truly beautiful. Maybe this insistence on ignorance is why you only engage with simps like Gallaher and don’t ever take on any current thinkers of real talent.)

    Now, how convincing is all this quantum physics mumbo jumbo w/r/t modernist poetry? Not entirely. Maybe somewhat. (Not at all when Gallaher tries to talk about it.) There are a lot of factors that contribute to literary modernism but physics is probably a big one.

    A lot of modernists/post-modernists seemed/seem to forget that as one moves outward from the chaos and near-infinite power of the atom the universe grows more and more predictable and evenly ordered (especially as the weak force of gravity begins to come into play). That chaos sits alongside order. I will agree that modern poetry has been enamoured of pure chaos far too long and something needs to change. Still, it’s not to be undervalued the effect of seeing 2+ millenia of “Western Thought” so resoundingly trounced and demolished (and so rapidly, at that).

    If you knew anything about science maybe you’d better understand this, Tom. There are many science books aimed at the layman… Hawking, Greene, et al. Perhaps your blog would benefit from you actually reading a bit and knowing what you’re talking about (though the exact same thing could be said regarding your discussions of poetry, I’m afraid…).

    For better or worse, the 20th century is an explosion of poets doing all the things the “Western tradition” said they couldn’t do (things that only crazy people did up to that point: see the great Friedrich Holderlin, for one). Impressionistic use of line-breaks, surreal imagery, naughty language, etc… It had to happen at some point. The question now is how do we move forward?

    It’s like when your parents leave you home alone for the first time and you end up eating sugar out of the jar with a spoon. I think we’re starting to deal with the tummy-ache that freebasing sugar straight-up inevitably leads to… Do we learn from our mistakes or do we try out try brown sugar instead and end up with the same results? Hopefully we can all get past the academic pedagogy that poetry has devolved into and deal with the problem head on: however, it simply will not do to play dumb and hide behind such antiquated pretense as you do here, Tom.

    It’s funny that you seem so desperate to start a feud with Gallaher. You’ve chosen your nemesis well, Tom: he’s the only person online who knows less about poetry than you do!

    You sniping at him (does he snipe back?) is funny in an absurd sort of way, though… Like two little kids arguing about cars when neither of them knows how to drive.

    I don’t expect any kind of considered response here, Tom, but should you present one I’d be happy to discuss any of the points I’ve made here.

    Cheers,
    Mark

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      Mark,

      1. But there is a world where Newton and Einstein co-exist. This one. You are confusing points of reference with reality.
      2. Quantum science essentially began with Faraday’s discovery of cathode rays in 1838. You seem to believe “Everything changed in 1925.” Nope.
      3. I didn’t see any attempt in your reply to connect quantum physics or the speed of light or the wave/particle theory to modern poetry. This is the rub. Your example, “Impressionistic use of line-breaks, surreal imagery, naughty language” might apply to one of Shakespeare’s Fools. Didn’t need quantum physics for that, did we? And quantum science isn’t an answer. It’s a question. The game’s not over. Quality of thought still counts.
      4. I leave you with a portion of Poe’s delightful “Eureka,” published in 1848:

      Now, although the philosophic cannot be said to err with the vulgar in this matter, they nevertheless permit themselves to be influenced, without knowing it, by the sentiment of the vulgar idea. “Although the Pagan fables are not believed,” says Bryant, in his very erudite “Mythology,” “yet we forget ourselves continually and make inferences from them as from existing realities.” I mean to assert that the merely sensitive perception of gravity as we experience it on Earth, beguiles mankind into the fancy of concentralization or especiality respecting it — has been continually biasing towards this fancy even the mightiest intellects — perpetually, although imperceptibly, leading them away from the real characteristics of the principle; thus preventing them, up to this date, from ever getting a glimpse of that vital truth which lies in a diametrically opposite direction — behind the principle’s essential characteristics — those, not of concentralization or especiality — but of universality and diffusion. This “vital truth” is Unity as the source of the phænomenon.

      Let me now repeat the definition of gravity: — Every atom, of every body, attracts every other atom, both of its own and of every other body, with a force which varies inversely as the squares of the distances of the attracting and attracted atom.

      Here let the reader pause with me, for a moment, in contemplation of the miraculous — of the ineffable — of the altogether unimaginable complexity of relation involved in the fact that each atom attracts every other atom — involved merely in this fact of the attraction, without reference to the law or mode in which the attraction is manifested — involved merely in the fact that each atom attracts every other atom at all, in a wilderness of atoms so numerous that those which go to the composition of a cannon-ball exceed, probably, in mere point of number, all the stars which go to the constitution of the Universe.

      Had we discovered, simply, that each atom tended to some one favorite point — to some especially attractive atom — we should still have fallen upon a discovery which, in itself, would have sufficed to overwhelm the mind: — but what is it that we are actually called upon to comprehend? That each atom attracts — sympathizes with the most delicate movements of every other atom, and with each and with all at the same time, and forever, and according to a determinate law of which the complexity, even considered by itself solely, is utterly beyond the grasp of the imagination of man. If I propose to ascertain the influence of one mote in a sunbeam upon its neighboring mote, I cannot accomplish my purpose without first counting and weighing all the atoms in the Universe and defining the precise positions of all at one particular moment. If I venture to displace, by even the billionth part of an inch, the microscopical speck of dust which lies now upon the point of my finger, what is the character of that act upon which I have adventured? I have done a deed which shakes the Moon in her path, which causes the Sun to be no longer the Sun, and which alters forever the destiny of the multitudinous myriads of stars that roll and glow in the majestic presence of their Creator.

      These ideas — conceptions such as these — unthoughtlike thoughts — soul-reveries rather than conclusions or even considerations of the intellect: — ideas, I repeat, such as these, are such as we can alone hope profitably to entertain in any effort at grasping the great principle, Attraction.

      But now — with such ideas — with such a vision of the marvellous complexity of Attraction fairly in his mind — let any person competent of thought on such topics as these, set himself to the task of imagining a principle for the phænomena observed — a condition from which they sprang.

      Does not so evident a brotherhood among the atoms point to a common parentage? Does not a sympathy so omniprevalent, so ineradicable, and so thoroughly irrespective, suggest a common paternity as its source? Does not one extreme impel the reason to the other? Does not the infinitude of division refer to the utterness of individuality? Does not the entireness of the complex hint at the perfection of the simple? It is not that the atoms, as we see them, are divided or that they are complex in their relations — but that they are inconceivably divided and unutterably complex: — it is the extremeness of the conditions to which I now allude, rather than to the conditions themselves. In a word, is it not because the atoms were, at some remote epoch of time, even more than together — is it not because originally, and therefore normally, they were One — that now, in all circumstances — at all points — in all directions — by all modes of approach — in all relations and through all conditions — they struggle back to this absolutely, this irrelatively, this unconditionally One?

  6. Mark said,

    November 6, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I’m a bit sad that all you seem to want to do is nitpick and not get to the meat of the issue, Tom. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything different.

    1. The advances of 20th c. physics refute Newton. So Newton and Einstein co-exist insofar as they are both historical figures but in terms of science, they don’t.

    2. haha, thanks wikipedia. “The history of quantum mechanics dates back to the 1838 discovery of cathode rays by Michael Faraday.” (wikipedia article on “Quantum Mechanics”). I don’t see what this has to do with anything. Psychology “essentially began” with the Greeks but the major advances happen in 20th century. Is this point another one of your attempts to pretend that the 20th century didn’t happen?

    3. I think it’s pretty obvious, Tom. Poets are attempting to respond impressionistically to a chaotic universe. When the music of the spheres turns out to be musique concrete, some poets feel the need to follow in kind. It’s not entirely convincing but that is the argument.

    My stance is that the wholesale abandonment of metre in poetry is a bad thing and disingenuous – personally I’ll stick with the classics (right now I’m reading Dante for the second time… trying out Cary’s translation and finding it to be top-shelf!) – but it will not do to play dumb and pretend you don’t know why this is the case when it’s patently obvious to even the most simplistic reader.

    4. I’ve read Eureka before (actually on your recommendation). Does Scarriet allow for prose poems? 🙂

    As long as we’re on the topic of Poe, have you read John T. Irwin’s “American Hieroglyphics” (1983)? I just took it out of the library but haven’t started on it yet.

    I was talking about the recent renaissance in Poe scholarship with an ex-prof of mine over lunch the other day (she does 19th c. American stuff, mostly) and she explained that it’s not recent at all… That the last 50 years have been really huge for Poe studies

    She called this Irwin book a “metaphysical reading” of Poe. I’m going to try it out.

    Follow-up question: why do Poe readers have such an inferiority complex about their hero?

    I realize the modernists took a couple swings at him but he’s been a fixture in scholarly discussion since at least Barthes (“Textual Analysis of Poe’s ‘Valdemar'” is one example)… Poe readers seem like they’re trying to jump in front of bullets no one’s firing.

    They’re all still responding to arguments that are over 100 years old – arguments that no one is making anymore. Since this is essentially what Scarriet does in every article, I thought maybe you’d have some insight. 😛

    • Mark said,

      November 6, 2011 at 12:09 am

      … and just a quick reply to my own post for anyone reading. Tom edited his post after I responded to it (I wish I could do that… take out some of those annoying spelling mistakes and whatnot). His third point, when I responded to it, said:

      “3. I didn’t see any attempt in your reply to connect quantum physics or the speed of light or the wave/particle theory to modern poetry. This is the rub.”

      Granted, his edited version doesn’t add much, nor does it do a much better job of making his point, but I would have responded slighly differently to the edited point #3 than I did the original point #3.

      I just thought this warranted being pointed out.

      • Mark said,

        November 6, 2011 at 12:13 am

        Oh, and his second point, prior to my response said:

        “2. Quantum science essentially began with Faraday’s discovery of cathode rays in 1838.”

        He added a bunch of inane, speculation that isn’t even remotely true or valid after the fact (including a quoted section. Who exactly are you quoting there, Tom. I don’t think I ever said that.)

        • Mark said,

          November 6, 2011 at 12:22 am

          There should be a question mark after “Tom” in that last response. Oh, would that I had the power to edit my responses after the fact like some people 🙂

          Anyway, I should just say that I never said “everything changed” nor do I believe it to be the case. I believe that everything is always changing. I believe this because Heraclitus was right and Plato was wrong.

          Tom’s inability to grasp this basic concept makes me think he’s spent one too many sleepless nights retreating into Plato… 😛

          • thomasbrady said,

            November 6, 2011 at 4:32 am

            Mark,

            You’re right, Poe defenders should just calm down. John Lennon was the worst offender: “Man you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.” (I Am The Walrus)

            Check out this thread: Brady on Gallaher’s Blog, responding to a Robert Archambeau essay on the decline of popularity of poetry. I know you don’t respect Gallaher, but how am my doin?

            http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=33532264&postID=3318922897297239116&page=1&token=1320553148852

            “I believe that everything is always changing. …Plato is wrong.”

            You are welcome to this opinion. But since this opinion of yours must always be changing, gosh, I’m not quite sure how to respond.

            Tom

  7. November 6, 2011 at 2:56 am

    1.

    A sparrow flies, spreads wide small wings
    and tilts the spin of Saturn’s rings.
    A star explodes and shifts a moon,
    which bends the time from May ‘til June.
    Comets swing and swirl and blow…
    what man sees where sparrows go?
    Snake eats bird; a faultless crime
    that shapes the flow of space and time.

    These are but waves which break a sea
    that still one ocean has to be:
    a seething field without a shore
    where here is then, and less is more.
    Of neutron, bird and galaxy,
    of void and mass and energy.
    The quivering net of being now
    has always been, and still is, Tao.

    2.

    The flute’s sweet note is like a cat:
    a minor change from this to that.
    Hear the balance…low or high?
    A vibration flux that’s passing by.
    Each note a sound, distinct, alone;
    yet the same air flows to make each tone.
    The cat will come and near me lie,
    a vibration flux just passing by.

    Gardens, horses, stones and storks;
    electrons, photons, muons, quarks:
    they come, then fade, from thin air burst,
    an air not thin, but full, immersed
    in constant movement, charged with change
    that first will build, then rearrange.
    The patterns formed, what tongue can say?
    Enough is said when called the way.

    3.

    A whale descends and music’s heard
    in instrument and written word,
    but not one song has yet to rhyme
    the tone of space and pitch of time.
    We note the rhythm, hear the beat
    of gravity and speed and heat;
    that light and space can bend we know,
    but what man walks where whales can go?

    We sense the balanced entity,
    the shadow of a harmony;
    a tune which ties to storms on Mars
    the X-ray pulse of neutron stars;
    yet neither word nor song nor math
    can read the signs upon the path.
    No lexicon has shown us how
    so this, as well, we can call Tao.

    4.

    And stars, so huge, are lost in sky,
    light years away yet still nearby.
    And atoms spinning in their dance
    are structured with less form than chance.
    And man’s a microbe, bound to Earth;
    A tiny speck against her girth.
    Built from water, fruit and bread,
    a moment’s balance, then, is dead.

    And man’s a planet, large and wide
    where generations lived and died,
    whose tissues stretch like hill and plain;
    a multitude in every vein.
    So small and great, the shapes proceed
    in nebulae and apple seed.
    As big as space, as small as light,
    in patterns near and in plain sight.

    Copyright 2005 – Evolving-Poems 1965-2005, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  8. November 6, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Entropy

    Change occurs so quickly,
    slowly, unexpected,
    invisible in the timber rot and rust.
    Inevitable yet so sudden.
    One day the barn roof falls in!
    The fender falls off of the tractor and
    people turn to dust.
    Energy pays the price
    demanded by space,
    but the cost of being is time.

    Copyright 2008 – Softwood-Seventy-eight Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  9. thomasbrady said,

    November 6, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Gary,

    You are a New Age Blake.
    Whales…(sigh) If only you was a rake.
    Give us more of men and women
    And love…give us truth that’s human!
    You are wise, but I want the odd—
    The devilish and strange, in the name of God!

  10. Des said,

    November 6, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Really like the first one Gaz. It reminds me of the early Trancendentalist metaphysically inspired verse.

    Nice one!

  11. November 6, 2011 at 4:55 am

    A Flower

    Such a simple thing,
    just a flower;
    petals and pistil and stamen,
    a scent and a color,
    a bloom and some seeds.
    Just a stem and some leaves,
    growing, absorbing, reflecting
    the light, some roots taking
    water from soil.
    Just xylem and phloem, some
    membranes and tissue and cells,
    a nucleus, some organelles,
    green chloroplasts transforming
    the sun into starches and sugars,
    just chlorophyll, molecules
    of elements and atoms built
    of protons and electrons,
    muons and quarks, made of waves
    and strings and fields of time
    and space and energy and chance.
    It’s really quite simple.
    Just a flower.

    Copyright 2008 – HARDWOOD-77 Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  12. November 6, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Tom said:

    “Give us more of men and women”

    Well, Tom…here’s one I posted on your very own blog:

    Valentine + 30

    Wow! All these years and
    such an ass, so many bad decisions
    but still you never left me.
    So inconsiderate, so often crass,
    but you’re still here beside me.
    You still make my dinner,
    pick up my clothes (carelessly tossed
    despite all admonitions)
    and still each year you happily accept
    my guilty February rose.

    Have I thanked you even half as often
    as all the things you’ve done for me?

    Copyright 2008 – Softwood-Seventy-eight Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    P.S. The publisher of my Chapbook , Allen Taylor, described me as follows:

    “Gary B. Fitzgerald calls himself a “Taoist nature poet.” The description fits. His simplicity-by-design philosophy is a testament to the hard work he has put into writing these verses. In his own words: “It’s easy to use difficult words to describe simple things, much harder to address the difficult things with simple words.”

    If I could point out one clear strength of Gary B. Fitzgerald, it would be his connection to human consciousness. In these poems there are elements of science, history, pathos, philosophy, spirituality, humor, and nature. I think if William Blake were writing poetry in the 21st century it might look like some of these poems.

    Whatever else you might make of Hardwood, you should just enjoy it. These poems, like the great ‘I Am’ itself, just are. They exist.

    Fitzgerald again: “I guess you could say that the purpose of my poetry is the same as that of an apple tree. It just is. It grows because it
    must. If someone comes along and picks an apple and enjoys it, so much the better.” Yes, so much the better.

    Gary B. Fitzgerald and I would like to offer you a few apples. Savor the ones you like and share the rest with a friend.

    HardSoftwood – Two chapbooks in one! Gary B. Fitzgerald is the author of two full-length poetry books, Hardwood and Softwood. We’ve taken a selection from each book and compiled them into one dual chapbook.”

    What I guess I am saying, Tom, is that I have always written poems about men and women and our human condition.

    GBF

  13. November 6, 2011 at 6:00 am

    P.S. Tom, you also said:

    “You are wise, but I want the odd—
    The devilish and strange, in the name of God!”

    If you read my books you would get more “devilish and strange, in the name of God.” than you could stand.

    I just don’t post this stuff on the internet.

    After all, among my heroes are Poe, Donne, Shakespeare, Milton and Blake.

    GBF

  14. November 6, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Okay, Tom. Here are a couple of previously unposted ‘God’ poems:

    Fields

    So maybe God is a field,
    a waveparticle field,
    a spacetime energy field,
    a field of consciousness, expanding
    in all directions, growing rich with souls,
    extending in multiple dimensions
    with a host of ultimate goals.

    Proclaimed by many bells which rang,
    a multitude of faithful voices sang.
    But which came first, the consciousness
    or the Bang? Which came first, the field
    or the flowers in it?

    Copyright 2009 – Tall Grass & High Waves, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Suppose
    (To Patrick)

    Suppose there’s God; but what is God,
    who creates the fragrant rose?
    The very meaning of the word itself
    means that which no man knows.
    And if there’s God, why would this God,
    who has every forest grown,
    plant seeds of living just to give
    the reaper what he’s sown?

    We can’t see God, can’t speak with God,
    so what man can really say?
    Perhaps all are wrong or, perhaps
    God provides us each a way.
    Each person differs in his view,
    we carry many different loads.
    So maybe God leads all of us,
    just on many different roads.

    Copyright 2005 – Evolving-Poems 1965-2005, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  15. Mark said,

    November 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Here’s the problem, Tom: Plato being wrong isn’t my opinion, it’s the truth.

    Plato views the world in terms of matter, Heraclitus views the world in terms of energy. One represents stasis, the other, flux. One is wrong, the other is right. Plato starts from a false premise… You see this error repeated over and over throughout the history of philosophy. Look at Leibniz: his monadology assumes matter to be the base of the universe and so his otherwise brilliant thought-experiment fails before it begins.

    The entire Socratic line takes matter as the base of existence when matter is simply a function of existence.

    It’s actually a shame that Plato, brilliant thinker that he is, so often ends up as a whipping boy but his influence and insistence on generalization are genuinely problematic (and yes, the irony that I’m taking a fairly generalized view of Plato while attacking him for being too generalized is not lost on me 😀 ).

    I actually think the Socratic line is why physicists have had such a hard time addressing the problems of quantum mechanics. At a quantum level things can’t be generalized. At a quantum level 1+1 does not necessarily equal 2 if it does at all.

    Your own problems, Tom, which you conveniently sidestep and ignore whenever anyone confronts you with them, are rooted in this same predilection.

    Scarriet is a paean to generalization… We need to work towards specificity. Your arguments only work in the abstract, when you’re called upon to back things up in concrete terms you flounder and fail (though this is probably just as much related to your own laziness… you commenting on things you haven’t read and attacking things you’ve made no attempt to understand).

    Great poets have always sought truth. You bring up Shakespeare but remember what Keats said about Shakespeare – that his greatest asset is his ability to write divorced from simple Platonisms, to avoid “irritable reaching after fact & reason” that Platonic thought is so often locked into.

    It’s actually nice that Gary brings up Taoism in this context – every time I read something about Taoism I’m struck by how much it predicts the advances in physics that happened in the 20th Century.

    Pre-Socratic thought in general (Taoist, Vedic, Heraclitan… maybe Buddhist too? I don’t really know very much about Buddhism) always defines the world in terms of flux.

    It simply will not do to write poetry as if Newton was still the measure. This is not to say that the modernists (nor their wretched hellspawn, the postmodernists) got it right – it is only to say that there’s no going back to the comfortable teat of an ordered universe when the universe simply isn’t so.

    The music of the spheres isn’t a fugue, it’s a swirling Wagnerian maelstrom: poetry DOES need to reflect this if poets wish to have any validity or influence in 21st Century thought.

  16. Mark said,

    November 6, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Oh, and with regards to the debate with Gallaher that you linked to: I actually think you’re both wrong 🙂

    But I think your wrongness has more rightness to it… If that makes sense.

    You know that, despite my quibbles, I dig Scarriet. I think too often you rely on reductio ad absurdum and end up coming off like a caricature but I think the reason you’re fighting this fight comes from a good, even necessary, place.

    I’m a big fan of contrarians and you’re the contrarian with the loudest mouth, Tom. Long may you swim against the current!… (but maybe you could do a bit more fact checking while you’re between streams??? 😛 )

  17. November 6, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Bewildered

    How reconcile this paradox,
    this Creator who loves creation,
    with the brutality and blood
    that makes it turn,
    the endless flow of life,
    forms granted their existence
    by the eating of each other,
    the bewildered, starving young
    still awaiting their dead mother?

    How resolve this lack of compassion,
    this cruelly designed summation
    by the One who loves us all,
    those lost to fire and fang and flood
    or blown from nests in storms?

    We will reason, for we are human,
    and create our fine Religions
    which our reason then deforms.

    Copyright 2010 – Ponds and Lawns-New and Corrected Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Evolution
    (Intelligent Design)

    Overwhelming diversity, constant multiplicity,
    extending still complexity, an existential mystery.
    Yet the polarizing entities are questioning reality:
    an accident of Being or a Being’s creativity?
    Inexplicable Cosmology, quantum relativity,
    omnipotent Holy monarchy or irrelevant necessity?

    A frog jumps and ripples ring the pond.
    A leaf floats up and down upon it.

    Copyright 2008 – HARDWOOD-77 Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  18. thomasbrady said,

    November 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Gary,

    The aphoristic nature of your verse is soothing. You provide a comfort and your work for that reason should be popular.

    The work of an Armantrout or an Ashbery is the devil’s laughter, by comparison. Intellectuals don’t want to be comforted. That’s not their bag.

    Mark,

    Plato was not unaware of flux. Plato sought to prove the bad fades and the good remains. For you to state merely that he was “wrong,” reveals to me that you haven’t the faintest appreciation of the Socratic impulse.

    I’m glad you dig Scarriet and dig what you sense is my iconoclasm; but I have a feeling we’re pretty far apart—especially when it comes to Plato (!)— but maybe we can still be friends.

    Tom

    • Mark said,

      November 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      You’re right that I have no appreciation for the “Socratic impulse” (I did once… then I got smart 😛 ) but I shouldn’t say he’s “wrong” – that’s a Scarriet-level generalization and is, like all Scarriet-level generalizations, untenable and not very useful in an actual discussion.

      Plato does however, obviously, start from a false premise which, obviously, infects the whole of his corpus. There are philosophers (and philosophies) predating Plato the world over which don’t start from that false premise – it’s little wonder these philosophies produce works of much greater beauty and more lasting resonance.

      This is why the greatest poets of the Western tradition have always moved away from “the Socratic impulse” – Shakespeare, Keats… I’m of the opinion that this is why a second-rate poet like Byron lashed out at Keats and said he wrote “garbage” “piss-a-bed poetry” later in his life.

      That Keats could have lived another 20 years… I think he would have ended up REALLY alienating everyone! Byron couldn’t get his mind – so infected as it was with ever-stultifying “Western Thought” – around it.

      I like to think that Byron was to the 19th century what Eliot was to the 20th… but that’s just me.

      As far as friends – I disagree with almost all my friends! I wish you’d up your game and stop being so lazy but I’ll always have love for the Scarriet crew.

      Best,
      Mark

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

        Mark,

        Not lazy, I have a life—house, kids, all that…

        What are these other philosophies which are more influential than Plato?

        Shakespeare and Keats are knights serving the monarch, Plato. The Sonnet Sequence of Shakespeare is an homage to Plato’s “Phaedrus.” Shakespeare’s plays are Plato’s Dialogues in Renaissance form. Keats had a picture of Socrates tattooed on his chest. What, are you kidding me?

        Byron was moody; I don’t take his remarks on Keats seriously. But he gave Wordsworth hell, and that was spot on.

        Tom

    • November 7, 2011 at 1:52 am

      Tom said:

      “The aphoristic nature of your verse is soothing. You provide a comfort and your work for that reason should be popular.”

      Thank you. Tom. I believe poetry SHOULD be soothing and enlightening (Aphorism: noun. a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation). After all, what else is it good for?

      I’m surprised, though, knowing your interest in prosody, that you didn’t comment on the rhythm of the last two lines of my poem ‘Evolution (Intelligent design)’, above. Yes, there is a (spiritual) aphoristic observation, but if you picture rings on a pond and their influence on a floating leaf:

      A frog jumps and RIPples RING the POND.
      a LEAF floats UP and DOWN upON it.

      Gary

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 8, 2011 at 3:24 pm

        Gary,

        “a LEAF floats UP and DOWN upON it.”

        Brilliant!!

        I confess I didn’t notice that.

        The previous line sounds like this to me:

        a FROG/ JUMPS and/ RIPples/ RING the/ POND.

        The first line is an iamb (a FROG) followed by a trochee (JUMPS and)
        followed by two more trochees (RIP-ples, RING the) and then a caesura, POND.

        Perhaps because of the trochaic nature of the first line, it was harder for me to hear the iambic in the second. I don’t know.

        If you took away the ‘a’ in ‘a frog jumps:’

        FROG JUMPS/ and RIP/les RING/the POND/a FROG/floats UP/and DOWN/up-ON/it NOW.

        Then you’d have the splash: FROG JUMPS, followed by a consistent ‘wave’ of iambic up-and-down?

        FROG JUMPS sounds very haiku.

        East meets West?

        Anyway, the point here is that interested criticism or analysis of poetry always helps its cause.

        In ‘putting your poems out there,’ you feel the poems can speak for themselves, but there’s a (flawed) human factor which only criticism can address…

        My analysis comes out of ignorance. That’s one thing we must always keep in mind. Ignorance always reads our poems first.

        Tom

  19. Mark said,

    November 9, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Tom,

    For a second I thought you were being serious rather than metaphorical.

    What other tats did Keats have? Tribal band? Tramp stamp? 🙂 I really need to get more sleep (though “Keats’ Tattoo” WOULD be a pretty good name for a band: sort of a bar-band with a little punk rock in them… E-Street Band meets the Replacements… maybe with a touch of New Wave 🙂 )

    I can think of no two poets less Socratic/Platonic than Keats and Shakespeare. The plays as Plato’s Dialogues? Lol, have you ever even read Shakespeare???

    Anyway, my point isn’t that you’re lazy w/r/t your workload, Tom. Rather that you’re lazy w/r/t your thought. That you give cliched readings and rarely get beyond the realm of generalization. Your knowledge of literature not only lacks breadth (obviously… you don’t even read the stuff you write about!) but depth.

    To Gary you say: “the point here is that interested criticism or analysis of poetry always helps its cause” but your criticism and analysis are always disinterested. This is the laziness I’m talking about.

    I think you know this and I think this is why you refuse to actually defend your positions. I think you’re scared to actually get on the court because you know a lot of your ideas would be challenged and a lot of those ideas simply wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny. The crazy thing is that you end up working just as hard as a spectator as you would if you were to actually get in the game!

    Now, I realize that for your 2 parts lit-nerd and 1 part anachronistic loudmouth you’re also at least 2 parts internet troll. You say a lot of this stuff just to get a reaction. However, I feel like there is a sincerity – maybe not in your arguments which are pretty over-the-top – but in your desire to do away with the ironic “experimental” garbage that the poetry academy has been churning out for the last 40-ish years. I’m with you on this.

    This is why, though I take you with a grain of salt, I think there’s some value in the Scarriet agenda. However, just because you have an agenda and an ideology doesn’t mean you have to be an ideologue, Tom.

    Here’s a serious question: why bother with John Gallaher (or, having read back in the archives a bit, Curtis Faville)? They’re just regurgitating the nonsense they hear from other people and generalizing it in a way that makes it seem even sillier. Why aim at such easy targets when there are other perfectly good targets out there? Why set your sites so low?

    For the same amount of work you spend writing 3000 word responses to posts on Gallaher’s blog you could respond to someone who actually means something. One of the people Gallaher is taking his ideas from, perhaps. This WOULD mean doing a bit of research. How about writing 500 words and spending the rest of the time doing some critical reading?

    I think you prefer to keep Gallaher as the middleman because he’s very easy to caricature and in doing so you don’t have to actually engage with the ideas being presented. You don’t need to make a strawman argument – Gallaher does it for you. Are you even too lazy to make your own strawmen?!?!? (just kidding)

    Anyway… What do you think, Tom?

    Cheers,
    Mark

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Mark,

      Read Shakespeare’s The Sonnets. Read Keats’ Odes and Fall of Hyperion.

      Then read “The Phaedrus” by Plato.

      Then we’ll talk.

      I’m serious.

      Tom

      • Mark said,

        November 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

        I’ve read all of the works you mentioned more than once, Tom. There’s no need to be condescending (there’s even less need for condescension when you’re in the wrong as you are here)

        You seem to have purposefully missed the point I was making (as usual). You seem to have only read the first 3 paragraphs of my response and ignored the last 9. This is, of course, unsurprising: your axiom of not ever reading anything in full before mustering a response remains intact.

        Perhaps you could respond to the more pressing matters, first – I’ll be happy to teach you a thing or two about poetry once you have 😛

        Cheers,
        Mark

  20. Mark said,

    November 10, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    If my first point is a stumbling block for you, Tom, I’ll take it out:

    “Mark said,
    November 9, 2011 at 1:21 am

    My point isn’t that you’re lazy w/r/t your workload, Tom. Rather that you’re lazy w/r/t your thought. That you give cliched readings and rarely get beyond the realm of generalization. Your knowledge of literature not only lacks breadth (obviously… you don’t even read the stuff you write about!) but depth.

    To Gary you say: “the point here is that interested criticism or analysis of poetry always helps its cause” but your criticism and analysis are always disinterested. This is the laziness I’m talking about.

    I think you know this and I think this is why you refuse to actually defend your positions. I think you’re scared to actually get on the court because you know a lot of your ideas would be challenged and a lot of those ideas simply wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny. The crazy thing is that you end up working just as hard as a spectator as you would if you were to actually get in the game!

    Now, I realize that for your 2 parts lit-nerd and 1 part anachronistic loudmouth you’re also at least 2 parts internet troll. You say a lot of this stuff just to get a reaction. However, I feel like there is a sincerity – maybe not in your arguments which are pretty over-the-top – but in your desire to do away with the ironic “experimental” garbage that the poetry academy has been churning out for the last 40-ish years. I’m with you on this.

    This is why, though I take you with a grain of salt, I think there’s some value in the Scarriet agenda. However, just because you have an agenda and an ideology doesn’t mean you have to be an ideologue, Tom.

    Here’s a serious question: why bother with John Gallaher (or, having read back in the archives a bit, Curtis Faville)? They’re just regurgitating the nonsense they hear from other people and generalizing it in a way that makes it seem even sillier. Why aim at such easy targets when there are other perfectly good targets out there? Why set your sites so low?

    For the same amount of work you spend writing 3000 word responses to posts on Gallaher’s blog you could respond to someone who actually means something. One of the people Gallaher is taking his ideas from, perhaps. This WOULD mean doing a bit of research. How about writing 500 words and spending the rest of the time doing some critical reading?

    I think you prefer to keep Gallaher as the middleman because he’s very easy to caricature and in doing so you don’t have to actually engage with the ideas being presented. You don’t need to make a strawman argument – Gallaher does it for you. Are you even too lazy to make your own strawmen?!?!? (just kidding)

    Anyway… What do you think, Tom?

    Cheers,
    Mark”

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Mark,

      You are quite right. I will never bother myself with Curtis Faville or John Gallaher again. Nor Helen Vendler, that witch! Harold Bloom? I will shut the door. And farewell to Scarriet. I’ll lock myself in my room for the next one hundred years and read Shelley. I am done.

      Tom

  21. Mark said,

    November 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Tom,

    Again you respond in such a melodramatic fashion. It’s disappointing.

    The point is that Faville and Gallaher are just shmucks on the internet – they’re nobodies. Vendler and Bloom are octogenarians – past their prime ages ago and probably not to be remembered too fondly by posterity – they’re has-beens.

    Is Scarriet only willing to fix its critical gaze on the elderly and the simple? Why does it have to be an issue of such radical extremes? Stop trying to spin the same old reductio ad absurdum – it’s getting tired.

    No one is asking for Scarriet to go away (well, maybe some people are, but I’m not). You could be fighting the good fight but you’re bickering over the swing-set with the likes of Gallaher???

    That’s sad, man. Ditch the childish arguments and actually respond to my post, Tom.

    Mark

  22. Mark said,

    November 15, 2011 at 5:49 am

    I was just going to bump this thread to see if I could get a straight answer out of Tom but maybe I’ll add a little bit.

    I just started reading John Irwin’s “American Hieroglyphics” (a book on Egyptian symbology in American Renaissance writing focusing mostly on Poe… It’s from 1980 so it’s near the beginning of the Poe Renaissance that happened in modern academia and is still happening to this day). He quotes Whitman as saying:

    “Exact science and its practical movements are no checks on the greatest poet but always his encouragement and support… the anatomist, chemist, astronomer, geologist, phrenologist [hehe], spiritualist, mathematician, historian and lexicographer are not poets, but they are the lawgivers of poets and their construction underlies the structure of every perfect poem.”

    I’m no Whitmanian but the man is obviously correct here. It will not do for poets to keep writing as if Newton was correct when he’s been soundly disproved.

    This is probably why Tom’s own poetry is so lackluster – he doesn’t seek truth, he clings to ignorance.

    Maybe Tom knows this.

    Maybe this is why he won’t defend his viewpoints when they are directly challenged.

  23. tom said,

    December 12, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Hey, I didn’t read any of this.

    What’s up with the puke background color? This has to be the ugliest blog I’ve ever seen. Wow. Good job.

    I don’t think Plato would like it.

  24. December 12, 2011 at 11:13 am

    • tom said,

      December 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

      You are funny and weird.

      • tom said,

        December 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm

        It’s interesting how much this looks like a gang rape. Which is not very funny, really.

        Plato doesn’t like this.

  25. tom said,

    December 12, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Trolls are the greenest tho.


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