Tuesday, January 15, 2008

ending and stopping I

Part of what kept me away from such a spongiform tablet as the blog was the gathering sense of not knowing what to do now. An odd shoe to be putting on after 50 years of scratching and scribbling. I suppose it has to do with some sense of age or, rather, some sense of bringing a thing like a life to some conclusion. And, as soon as said, the idea wilts, exposes its mold. I've said for years about the poem that you can bring it to an end or an ending, or you can stop. Stopping implies things that make sense, greater sense, than ending. I think Lyn Hejinian is a little harsh when she complains in "The Rejection of Closure" of "The coercive, epiphanic mode in some contemporary lyric poetry," but I understand the fatigue of being always tied to what we often find in music, the need to pull out all stops and blow the listener away with crashing, clashing chords and drums. She calls the similar thing in poetry a "negative model, with its smug pretension to universality and its tendency to cast the poet as guardian to Truth....however pleasurable its effects, closure is a fiction, one of the amenities that falsehood and fantasy provide." This from her headnote to the essay in THE LANGUAGE OF INQUIRY (U. Cal. Press, 2000) , p.41.

And, too, stopping is more natural to human endeavor. Outside of the track race, that is. Stopping is what we do when the energy goes away. And the return to energy does not always connect smoothly (or at all) with what preceded it. We are energy transmitters, and most of us pick that energy up from various places, happy to do so. We chase it down for as long as we can, and when it gets away, which I think it almost always does, we let it go. If we're smart and whether we like it or not, that is.


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