January 6, 2005

all must not be art. some art we must disintegrate

* "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." -- Dwight Eisenhower, 1953.

* Counter-Inaugural, for all your 2005 presidential inauguation protest needs.

* Ben Pleasants on Charles Bukowski. excerpt:

"Bukowski said that poets were sad creatures but they could be funny. He mentioned a dozen we both knew, all with no children. He ended with Steve Richmond. He told me he was so tired of the small presses. He laughed about all the stuff John Martin had asked him to do so he could sell out his 'Collector's Copies' for Black Sparrow. He said Martin would ask him to sign copies of Black Sparrow books in his own snot if he thought it would make him a buck, but he did it.

"Larry Flynt, on the other hand, asked him for the typed manuscripts, pure and simple. 'There's a guy who understands women,' he told me. He told me it was time to 'fuck off poetry, let those cunt suckers choke on the cum of the poet. Write prose. Write stories. Just give up on poetry unless you can curse the gods like Jeffers. Or me.'

"'But how?' I asked. 'How do you break through?'

"Bukowski thought back to when he was a kid of twenty, sitting on a park bench, running away from World War Two. He told me he'd been reading Kenyon Review and Sewanee, which he pronounced as it was spelled, not as it's sung in the song 'Way Down Upon...' And he was surprised it was the same word. So we talked about critics. The New Critics. He said that the poetry he read on that park bench in Texas was stilted and dead, without any feeling, so different from Jeffers who always thrilled him; but the critical articles were bristling with anger, frustration, and hatred.

"'These guys were so neatly bitchy in such a high intellectual, vicious way. The way they used the language in those critical articles was on a far higher level than all their creative work.' He told me to forget about Eshleman, to laugh off the viciousness of a minor leaguer. 'It doesn't count for anything.'

"Bukowski told me that poets have only that little bit of turf to quarrel about. 'Nobody reads them. They read each other. They hate me because my poetry sells; because I connect with the real world and guys like Eshleman and Ashbery connect with no one.' He told me they were born dead and could only exist through viciousness. 'Just cool off and get the fuck off the poetry train. Write straight fiction. Write a play. Anything but poetry.' I had another beer and considered his words. I felt better already."


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