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Society

Imitation/Interaction: the Greek Anthology, Augustine, the Psalms

April 28, 2010
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It’s immediately clear why Augustine is often seen as the last classical and first medieval man. He marks the ultimate synthesis of classical rhetoric and sensibilities with the concept of self that marked the Judeo-Christian tradition. As Cahill points out, the Psalms stand out among classical literature, as exceptionally personal. Augustine, says Ronald Heine, was “the undisputed master of using the psalms to lay one’s soul bare before God in the praise and confession of prayer….The psalms permeate everything Augustine wrote.” Rowan Williams points out that the very first sentence of Confessions is a quotation from the psalms. Augustine weaves them throughout such that we hardly know when the words are his and when they are not (a modern citation nightmare).

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Ain’t No Sunshine in My Shell

March 28, 2010
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I’m currently in a class concerning Animal Studies in the Comparative Literature Department in which the word “anthropomorphism” is a swear word. The argument is that anthropomorphism is anthropocentric, and thereby undermines the possibilities of the animal’s consciousness by placing the human in a superior (and dominating) role. It should be noted that while I think this all well-argued and slightly interesting, when it comes to poetry—it’s a large load of nonsense. We’d have to knock out some pretty significant poems in our extended canon were we to castigate anthropomorphism the way they are proposing. At least for me, and for a long trailing history of ancestor poets behind me, anthropomorphism is the stuff I (we) live for. And if it’s a profane thing, then @#*& you, Comp Lit people. (It should also be noted I am the only poet in that class, and I am looked at at least twice during every session as if I were a really cool but leggy and crawly beetle that you’re grossed out by but can’t look away from.)

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Do Movie Critics Matter?

March 25, 2010
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Journalistic standards have changed so drastically that, when I took the podium at the film circle’s dinner and quoted Pauline Kael’s 1974 alarm, “Criticism is all that stands between the public and advertising,” the gala’s audience responded with an audible hush—not applause.

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Paying and Being Paid

March 17, 2010
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I’d caught glimpses of them before. Maybe I’d been up very late and into the morning, taking the Brooklyn-bound train from Manhattan and had seen them standing with briefcases on platforms waiting for trains. Maybe I woke bright and early for my hangover, craving Naked Juice and sparkling water from the corner bodega. Maybe I had wild notions of pretending I had a nine-to-five writing schedule so that there would be an end to the thankless work.

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Waverly Gate

March 10, 2010
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A certain esteemed professor requires that those enrolled in his poetry workshop meet with him in his downtown studio apartment, right off Washington Square.

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Blogging through Grossman, Part 3: Poetic Promiscuity.

March 2, 2010
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We recent poets have two great tools at our disposal: freedom of poetic license, and freedom of publishing. Generally, we can say whatever we want, and get a significant number of people to hear what we have to say. The question is whether this freedom has led to better poetry or degeneration. Perhaps that’s not the best way to put it. The question should be, even if somebody is doing something amazing and new in poetry, would we even see it? Will we travel all this way to find that we really did need the gatekeepers of poetry??

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The Lyric Workshop, Session 1: Theme From Shaft

February 24, 2010
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PROFESSOR: Mary Ann, would you mind reading your poem aloud so that we can hear it in your own voice?

MARY ANN: Absolutely. Ahem.

Who’s the black private dick
That’s a sex machine to all the chicks?
SHAFT!
Ya damn right!

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Google Uses Wittgenstein

February 23, 2010
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Canada, it’s spring-break time. We’ve already got trees budding. Actually, many schools have gotten the whole Winter Olympics off for two or three weeks of extended spring break drunkenness. I’ve been glued to CTV for the last week or so, watching my new favorite sport: curling. No joke, this game is intense.

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A Cuban Sandwich and Levinas

February 23, 2010
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Suppose you are reading Levinas, having a nice Cuban sandwich, minding your business, thinking about the self, the other, the other self, the otherness of self, the selfishness of other, etc, etc, and the sun slants across the legs of a woman you pretend to have a deep rapport with—striping them apricot. What do you do?

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Keats Revisited: “It’s Not a Well-Wrought Urn, it’s a Well of Ashes and Wine”

February 21, 2010
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That urn is cold. I find it strange that several poets and scholars speak of the beauty-truth equation as the last lines of the poem. That equation has called forth so much fuss – its bald assertiveness is immensely persuasive at first hearing, then almost instantly the mind rebels against the symmetry of identity.

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Spam Folder Amateur Gemology

February 21, 2010
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Says that the Russians once anchored here and hunted sea-otter before the first Yankee trader rounded the Horn, or the first Rocky Mountain trapper thirsted across the “Great American Desert” and trickled down the snowy Sierras to the sun-kissed land. No; we are not resting our horses here on Humboldt Bay.

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Blogging through Grossman, Part 2: Grossman demolishes otherness?

February 16, 2010
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I probably should state right off the bat that I am not a philosopher by trade. If I mess up philosophical terms and definitions, feel free to correct me. I tend to have a more intuitive approach to philosophy, rather than a systematic one. Thus, I tend to explain things by analogy. I recognize the […]

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The Ill-Wrought Urn? A Literary Critical Debate in Truth & Beauty, Part 1

February 13, 2010
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Let’s begin with a recording of Ode on a Grecian Urn recited by Richard Howard, which was taken on 2/12/2010 through my iPhone. Ode on a Grecian Urn Thou still unravished bride of quietness, Thou foster child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: […]

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Writing Prompt Patter

February 5, 2010
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I worry about graduate students. When intention, and goals, and focus outstrip the accidental, the possibility of falling into exactly what you need to trip over, you ought to take stock: what do you just allow to happen? Some students will say, “Easy for you. You have a job.” They’re right. But I never planned […]

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