April 27, 2005


One toxic New England writer, written of here some time back, continues to champion the cause of coherence above other possibilities of form and rhetoric in a poem. Billy Collins, poster child of the coherent set, and others who put the plane (metaphor) on auto pilot for a perfect landing, stick words together in such a way as to "make sense." That runway is paved with assumptions, like a Hollywood blockbuster. But I have a nagging suspicion that "meaning" and "coherence" are used by a host of trained co-pilots, not unlike those Saudis who went to flight school in Florida and San Diego, to police a poetics bounded within a certain ideology of righteous stewardship. Thought, however, is not so easily served. Indeed, thought might at times sacrifice its mental dominance to reveal what it alone can't: life's complex diffusion of forms. A poet who inheres to a complex design, digging in with language to show its collusion with thought to fail the living organism by dominating it with pure mentation, can achieve something profound. Heart and mind, those metaphors of complex perceptive capabilities, perfect the inherent possibilities of the poem. A great poem or novel like Proust's or Kerouac's will present many loose threads. Coherency often verges into chaos but the author inheres to the design to get at this thing life, and abides by an array of microideologies, but not a single, dominant cultural assumption, like that perfect runway, where the pure pilots of metaphor land their perfected, twin-engine systems of air conditioned bulk. There is a weakness of perceptive ability rampaging under meaning's guise. Or is it a love of power? Certainly, it's an indifference to life and the inherent abilities of the poem to show it from within subjective relations to the complex ideologies that contribute to the uber ideology, like the one that flies Tom Delay into Galveston to meet with his president, whose own plane will glide to a perfect stop. And that's what rhetoric has come to. And that's what poetry becomes to certain people for whom the imagination is a game, and life a reward for pretending that rules were never made to be broken. --DS

Posted by Dale at April 27, 2005 04:10 AM
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