Friday, January 06, 2012

In Swift and Accurate Pursuit of the Modern Imperative

I have resolved to read everything John Latta posts to Isola di Rifiuti this year. It has already borne fruit.Yesterday, he quoted Williams:

If the attention could envision the whole of writing, let us say, at one time, moving over it in swift and accurate pursuit of the modern imperative at the instant when it is most to the fore, something of what actually takes place under an optimum of intelligence could be observed. It is an alertness not to let go of a possibility of movement in our fearful bedazzlement with some concrete and fixed present.

This alertness is of course what the Pangrammaticon is all about ("all the usage..."). I am literally obsessed with "what actually takes place under an optimum of intelligence". As Cyril Connolly put it in his introduction to the Unquiet Grave:

All grief, once made known to the mind, can be cured by the mind, the manuscript proclaimed; the human brain, once it is fully functioning, as in the making of a poem, is outside time and place and immune from sorrow. (xvi)

And this brings us back to the beginning, to my confrontation with a fully functioning human brain in the process of making a poem, namely, Tony Tost's "I Am Not the Pilot", i.e., I am not Palinurus, i.e., I am immune from sorrow.

Last year, Tony completed his PhD dissertation on Pound, Stein and new media. While he was writing it, he noted that Flarf reminded him of "Pound's proposed arrangement of sound in a working factory" (comment to this post). I read the dissertation last summer and I think I'm about ready to bring my modicum of intelligence to bear upon it. So, this year at the Pangrammaticon we will be reading a lot of Tost and Latta. We are in pursuit of the modern imperative!

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