Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Unreliable Critic

The critic who doesn't make a personal statement, in re measurements he himself has made is merely an unreliable critic. He is not a measurer but a repeater of other men's results.
KRINO, to pick out for oneself, to choose. That's what the word means." (Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading, p. 30)

I'm doing two things these days that are having a peculiar mutually reinforcing effect on each other. First, I'm reading a handful of good books of poetry (Petroleum Hat and A Defense of Poetry are on the top of the pile right now.) Second, I'm trying to articulate my response to Dan Hoy's essay in Jacket. What these two activities are teaching me (or confirming for me) is that it is pointless to discuss poetry without reference to specific poems. I don't necessarily mean new critical close reading, I just mean that attacking people's critical faculties (which is pretty much all he cites my work in order to do) without identifying even a single specific error of critical judgment (which he does not do) is less than constructive as criticism goes. The best response to Hoy at this point is just to quote from the work of Sullivan, Mohammad, and Gardner. [Update: Jacket 30 looks promising here.] In fact, just quoting "I Am Not the Pilot" and "Chicks Dig War" alongside their sources is the most definitive refutation of Hoy's criticism that I can think of right now. I just don't see any corporate bias there.

No comments: