Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Tom Orange had an interesting follow-on question to something I wrote a couple of weeks ago. I thought I would pose the question here, tho I might not answer it myself for awhile.


hi ron,


you wrote on wednesday april 14 that "it simply is impossible for even the most responsible or compulsive reader to try & keep up, truly keep up, with the state of post-avant writing. At some point, something is going to have to give, people will & do make choices & out of those choices, I would venture, new, further cracks in the landscape must appear."


i'm intrigued not only by the sense of inundation that you express here and that i often feel as well, but also by the particular way you've opened up a space for thinking further about the issue here. you went on in your post to sketch out the "new, further cracks in the landscape" that you see possibly appearing in the future, so rather than take that up i'd prefer to press you a bit further for the moment on the other portion of the quote i excerpted from that day's blog.


your phrase "at some point," for example, makes me wonder how soon. when you say "something is going to have to give," i wonder what that something is and how you think it might give or have to give. and your assertion that "people will & do make choices" makes me wonder what kinds of choices you see people (yourself included) making.


i assume with this third point we're talking about what to read and what not to read. what guides your choices along those lines? that's obviously a huge question and maybe at some level can't be articulated beyond a kind of affective or gut-level "i just felt like reading X." so maybe the more discussable question is, what is going to have to give and how?


i've been thinking lately about robert duncan's decision to stop publishing in 1968 after bending the bow, and his preface to that book as a most remarkable statement of poetics in a time of war. and i'm thinking of bob kaufman's long periods of silence. i'm not automatically thinking of duncan and kaufman as models that should or ought to be followed at the present moment and this time of permanent war: these are obviously personal decisions these poets made and could never be proper to all poets at all times.


maybe another way at this is to pose wcw's question again, and it's one that i know you have posed on occasion before as well: what about all this writing?


if we acknowledge that it can't all be read, then what is it all for? is it enough simply that it exists, to be read now or at some point in the future or not? it the making, doing, producing of it in and of itself enough?