Friday, March 30, 2012

Poetry is where we attend to the mechanics of language

"Poetry is self-conscious language, words that refer to themselves. Reading a poem, one is supposed to be conscious of the materiality of the poem--the fact that it is made of words that shift every time they are read or spoken; words are like boxes that are packed and repacked with associations. One should never quite lose oneself in a poem the way one does in a great movie or novel. One is always participating in poetry by being conscious of how one's own past affects how one defines the words. Poetry is about words and what they refer to second; it's about the phenomenon of referring, the mechanics of words. And this isn't just some mental exercise--it's a deep emotional one. All that allows people to feel less alone, less trapped in the prison of their own incommunicable perceptions, is language, whether verbal or visual or tactile. Poetry is where we attend to the mechanics of language, hence poetry is all and always about loneliness, about the extent to which one is more or less alone because one's words do or don't carry one's perceptions across the divide between self and others.

Prose is very different...In a description of a house, you are meant to imagine a house rather than attend to the words used to describe it."

From an interview with Craig Morgan Teicher over at HTML Giant.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not in the Service...

"The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like a condemned man who is proud of his large cell."

A quote from a book I am reading about Simone Weil.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Poet and the Poker Table

A pretty good illustration of why I don't play poker anymore, from a profile of Joel Dias-Porter, a performance poet turned Atlantic City grinder:

“What’s the joy you get from poker?”

“The same as I get from chess or Scrabble—that you outsmarted your opponent.”

Intelligence not in the service of love is useless at best, and at worst destructive.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Active Love

After years of procrastination, I am finally getting around to reading The Brother's Karamazov. A gem near the beginning:

"Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself. Keep watch on your own lie and examine it every hour, every minute. And avoid contempt, both of others and of yourself: what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself. And avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie. Never be frightened by your own faint-heartedness in attaining love, and meanwhile do not be very frightened by your own bad acts. I am sorry that I cannot say anything more comforting, for active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching...Whereas active love is labor and perseverance..."