Friday, March 05, 2010
Working notes on political poetry // I don't talk to cops
Poetry aims at difficult meanings - Amiri Baraka
Neither abstract or descriptive, but to grasp what is collective within isolated images. Several will be working together at any one time, contrapuntally, in overlaying dimensions, tones, moods and shapes. Within these tensions the poem becomes an essay under pressure, on the cusp of several discourses with their differing relations, repulsions, attractions, contaminations.
An engagement, also, with ideas that have been erased from official discourse, but can still be activated. If it is incomprehensible, it is because certain ideas seem eclipsed in an epoch that cannot see them. Imagine a period when not only is, say, revolution impossible, but even the thought of revolution. On the other hand, most poetry is mimetic of incomprehensibility, rather than an engagement with it.
A tracking of eclipses in the constellations of ideas: Milton’s “visible darkness”, Shelley’s Prometheus and Demagorgon. Or is it too much to claim poetic thought moves counterclockwise to the irreality of our own historical period, which is papered over with a bourgeois myth that, though long dead, is still active and still fundamentally real in that it knows how to kill, and always acts from just that basis.
But if poetry might speed up a dialectical ‘continuity in discontinuity’, & thus detourne whatever is forced to be invisible via realistic speech (in a Brechtian sense), and where the lyric I is (1) an interrupter and (2) a collective, and where direct speech & incomprehensibility are only possible as a synthesis that bends ideas into and out of the limits of insurrectionism and illegalism, the obvious danger is that disappeared ideas will only turn up ‘dead’, or reanimated as zombies: the terrorist as damaged manifestation of utopianism, when all of the elements, including those eclipsed by bourgeois thought are still absolutely occupied by that same bourgeoisie.
The problem I have is how to make it talk back, how to make whatever it is that is trapped in aesthetics, idealism and in history learn to speak.