LET'S SMASH THE LITERARY WORLD WITH A WRECKING BALL!

Discussion of other topics not necessarily Keats or poetry-related, i.e. other authors, literature, film, music, the arts etc.

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The traditionalists are bankrupt

Postby WolfLarsen » Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:13 pm

Bard of Passion:

Your computer skills are most accomplished - you can highlight and paste - congratulations!

I don't know who you are refuting - because you do not debate any of the issues raised in the manifesto.

Also, where in the manifesto do I bring up anything about being a misunderstood artist? I think you are just posting to be insulting.

Judging from the bard of passion's post it seems that the traditionalists are bankrupt - all they can do is post personal insults. They say nothing in defense of the traditional literary establishment. I guess the points raised in the manifesto are true then, which hurts the feelings of traditionalists like the bard of passion, who lash out crying with personal insults.

Now, who's the one being immature here?

By the way, the Romantic Poets were rebels too.
Cheers!

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Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:04 pm

Alrighty, kids. We're all adults here, let's be nice.

I do agree with you though, bard (can I call you that for short?). I think one of the great crimes of the contemporary art world is the tendency for young artists in all genres (music, literature, visual art, etc) to alienate their audiences in the continued effort to be avant garde. After all, what good is art if it does not speak to people? Be as innovative as you want, but unless someone out there understands you and believes you, then keep it to yourself. Personally, I don't find "offending" your audience is a way to endear yourself to them or make yourself immortal: it's a shock tactic. "Shock" does not equal "art."

And you're right in saying that the great artists of history were more often than not very innovative in their own times. But the ones that have lasted and are revered today aren't the ones who reinvented the wheel. They're the ones who honored the great poets and composers and artists before them by learning their craft and then making it new, making it their own. Look at Keats, for example. Keats wrote poetry in honor of those poets of the past that he admired; was not "Imitation of Spenser" one of his earlier works? It was not until after he'd mastered the forms and language of the past that he began to really come into his own. If we choose to ignore the "tradition" and those who came before us, then we are missing out on some very important opportunities for growth in our own art and, what's more, not giving them the respect they deserve. Rhyme, for instance, has been a staple of great poetry in many languages for centuries. And there's nothing wrong with it if it is done well. Our very own Denise has written some great poems with a very original voice that happen to employ rhyming elements, yet she has worked them in such a way that they do not feel forced or trite, but very natural and, ultimately, poetic.

Besides, if it was good enough for Shakespeare (and Keats, of course), after all, it should be good enough for the rest of us.

Basically it comes down to this: if you want to break the mold, you first have to recognize that there is a mold there to be broken. What is art but a continuously evolving and living entity, continuously connected both to its past, its present, and its future? How are we supposed to recognize new and exciting literature if we don't have publishers printing it and spreading it around to the masses? How are we supposed to work new ideas and concepts into literature if we don't give people the chance to understand it and accept it first? And echoing greymouse, any prescribed system, be it traditionalist or contemporary such as the one proposed here, is still just that. . . a prescribed system. If your ultimate goal is to offend, not rhyme, and piss on the publishing industry, how is that different from your ultimate goal being to love, rhyme, and embrace publishers? Either way you end up with a group of writers doing more or less the same thing as everyone else. In all honesty, the avant garde card (ha ha, I like how that sounds. . . and it's a rhyme! :lol: ) has been played so many times that I'm waiting for someone to go completely retrograde and start writing novel-length epic poetry a la Beowulf. In today's artistic climate, THAT person would have the original voice. (I have to think of Tolkien here. . . I think few people would deny him as a great and original writer of the 20th century, and yet he didn't look forward, but rather far back into English literary history, adopting a narrative style very much like that of early English storytellers.)

If you want to create a new breed of writer, then you need say nothing more than this: we are a 21st century, diversified world in which anything and everything is at our disposal, be it contact with the distant past, distant cultures, distant languages, new ideas, old ideas, crazy ideas, comfortable ideas, fresh sounds, ancient sounds, and everything in between. Use them.
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Postby Malia » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:36 pm

Great thoughts, Credo :) I'm a firm believer that literature must communicate. That means that what one says must be, in some way, intelligible and *meaningful* to someone other than one's self. My favorite writers are innovative, but their innovations are grounded on a *firm foundation* of cannon works and artists who came before them who knew their craft. For example, one of my favorite fiction writers is Michael Cunningham---people may know him for his work The Hours which was made into a movie recently. One of the authors that has informed his work is Virginia Wolf. Her style and innovation inspired his work and he was able to use her insights to help create his own style. Literature is *communication*--it is impossible to write (or at least write *well*) in a vacuum. The fact that WolfLarson even uses the English language at all--and puts his letters together in a certain way that forms words others can understand--shows that he, too, does not write in a vacuum. He at least owes a debt of gratitude to the English language, itself.
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I welcome debate, thank you...

Postby WolfLarsen » Sat Jan 27, 2007 5:24 am

Hello.

I disagree with much (not all) of Malia's & Credo Buffa's arguments - but I think we can all appreciate that they are debating - instead of just writing personal insults like the Bard of Passion. While I believe many of Malia & Credo's points are wrong, I also believe that they have argued their points very well.

I would appreciate it if the Bard of Passion would stop sending me hate mail via the personal message system.

It is late right now - but I will come back and respond to the arguments of Mailia & Credo as soon as I have time. I want to thank both Credo & Malia and most of the others for making this an interesting discussion of differing points of view.

Cheers!

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Postby Saturn » Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:06 am

Wolf check your PMs please.
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Hello

Postby WolfLarsen » Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:31 am

Hello everybody!

I would now like to argue against some of Malia's & Credo Buffa's comments. However, I would once again like to credit them for arguing their case very well. I do not completely disagree with everything they said - but here are some thoughts.

The traditional publishing establishment is useless when it comes to promoting exciting innovative literature. The publishing establishment is composed of six major corporations and all of their endless subsidiaries. All they care about is money. They do not care about anything else.

The traditional publishing establishment publishes the "great" works of the past not because they care about literature, but because it is profitable to do so.

The Romantic Poets, Painters, & Composers were all innovators of their time. Of course, they built on the past, but their works breathed with originality. The Romantics were not slaves to the past.

Any Poet, Sculptor, Composer who is a slave to the past and thus lacks originality is doomed to oblivion in time. Abuse is often hurled at the innovators - but it is the work of the innovators that prevails in the long run. Almost every Poet, Sculptor, Painter, & Composer that is loved today as a great master was an innovator in his time - and these great masters were often met with ridicule and even riots when there work was originally shown to the public.

Creative work that shows "good taste" is almost certainly irrelevant and will be forgotten. Almost none of the great masters created works that were originally considered in "good taste".

I would even go as far as to say that many of "great poets" in the canon are not great at all. This is particularly true of the last century. Academia, which is inherently conservative and backward, has deliberately left out some of the greatest voices in poetry in the last century out of the canon.

When painting broke from academia that medium began to make tremendous strides that has left the literary world in the dust. Beginning in the late 19th Century painting exploded with greater creativity than ever before.

One of the reasons that painting became superior to literature in creativity is that a Painter only needs a few buyers to make a living. A Writer, on the other hand, has to sell a lot of books. Hence, a Writer is still the slave of the publishing conglomerates and academia, while the painter enjoys a great deal more independence.

Painters broke from representation - and thus painting began to explode with creativity. Writers need to break from formal grammar in creative works if they want to achieve the greatest expression possible in the medium of the written word.

Thus, we are not at some end - we have not reached the climax of creativity in literature - we are only at the foothills of Mt Everest - the greatest periods of literature are in the future and not in the past.

The Romantic period remains one of my favorite in literature and classical music. However, if we embrace the ideals of the Romantic Period then we will create a great literature that is bursting with creativity and that is not enslaved to the past. If today the Romantic Poets were magically reborn from the grave you can bet that they would soon fill their work with great new innovations, as they did when they were living. Almost every great Romantic Poet and Composer engaged in constant experimentation.

Cheers!

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Hello again

Postby WolfLarsen » Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:47 am

Some of my thoughts about academia may seem harsh - but while academia is filled with many great professors and curious students - and while we have all learned a great deal in college - I also feel that academia can have its negative side as well.

Cheers!

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Postby Credo Buffa » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:35 am

I'm curious, WolfLarsen, what contemporary writers do read? I know there are a great many people who agree that literature is far behind other artistic modes as far as creating lasting, new material these days (though I also know a lot of people who feel that art in general has all but died entirely since the mid 20th century or so), and a few years ago I might have agreed with you. However, as my reading has expanded from "the classics" into more contemporary literature, I've discovered for myself that much of the literature of today really is quite innovative and different from that of the past. Writers like Ian McEwan and Frank McCourt (whom I am reading right now, actually) have, I feel, very original voices which separate them from the pack. McEwan is a master of creating moods, and McCourt is brilliant in his use of language and sentence structures to put you inside his thoughts--I like to think that he writes the way we think, or perhaps the way that excited children speak: not in proper sentences much of the time, but in a stream of thoughts which, in our memories, are consistently connecting with others to create elaborate webs of words and ideas that account for both our past and our present at the same time.

As my literature professors often said (and rightly so), we are still living under the great shadow of Romanticism. And thank God for it! Romanticism taught us to look within for inspiration, to write about our thoughts and our feelings rather than places and events and people outside of ourselves with a kind of cool detachment. There have been attempts to return to that Classical mode of thought (I'm thinking specifically of serialist music in the first half of the 20th century), but such movements, as innovative and cerebral as they may have been, couldn't replace the human emotional power of art created in the Romantic veign. People want to connect with art, and the "I" of Romanticism allows them to do that.

But while that "great shadow of Romanticism" continues to dictate the art world in the 21st century, I think that the way in which writers approach their work (and I'm not talking about your standard paperback novelists, but people who really are writting for the sake of putting something worthwhile out there) is markedly different today. The kinds of stories that people are telling have changed in many ways. When we consider how popular genres such as the memoir are right now, I think it's possible to say that we are witnessing Romantic-esque personalization of material at it's height: people are so keen to create personal connections that their stories are literally their own lives--as personal as one can possibly get. And while biography and autobiography has been around for centuries, I doubt that the form has ever been so popular or so well composed as it is today. This is just one example of how literature can be markedly innovative and separated from the past in subject and genre, not just in use of language.

As for poetry, I can't speak from personal experience, as I've honestly not read a lot of contemporary poetry largely because I don't really know what's out there. Though I can't say for sure, it may simply be that we are experiencing a "poetic draught" at present. It might just be that poetry today isn't as popular as it used to be. It's all part of the natural ebb and flow of any art form; who knows, twenty, thirty or more years from now (sooner even, considering how the world continues to change more and more quickly), memoirs might go out and poetry could experience a surge, all the innovative and creative power of every writer feeding it and turning it into something completely new and exciting. If we're not seeing that now, I don't think we necessarily have to see it as a bad thing. . . just nature. So long as there are people out there reading the great poetry of the past, and so long as we have academics (yes, we need them, as much as they might drive us nuts much of the time) who are passing it on from generation to generation, it will never truly die. Somewhere along the line, something will happen and people will pick it up again.

I am also wondering, WolfLarsen, what alternative you propose for writers of what you consider to be truly innovative works to get their writing out there if the publishing houses supposedly don't give them the chance? It's fine and well to say that publishing is an "industry" that is just as if not more concerned about turning a profit than nurturing fresh voices (I often feel this way about the music industry), but what other choice is there? Self-publishing is an option, but how many people actually have the money or connections to make something like that work? The internet is also a powerful tool, but a dangerous one as well. And word-of-mouth in most cases only goes so far unless you've got someone backing you with publicity. As much as I'd like to share the idealist point of view that we should say "down with publishers who don't care about anything but money" (which I don't think is entirely true all the time, but certainly has a basis in fact), there seems to be no rational alternative. Until there is one, what choice does anyone have but to work with the publishers rather than against them?
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Postby Malia » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:18 pm

Interesting conversation, guys :)

I don't have too much to add--only a few names of modern (or at least *relatively* modern) poets you might like to read.

First, is a writer still living who was a recent American Poet Laureate--Billy Collins. He has an amazing ability to take an ordinary thought and absolutely turn it on its head. I love his poetry.

Second is a 20th century poet, Pablo Neruda. He is a modern poet as well and was extremely innovative, I'd say.

I believe Billy Collins either teaches or once taught poetry so (horror of horrors) he's an academic ;)

Anyway, those are two poets I enjoy and there are others out there. . .I have to dig around for some names. Admittedly, other than Billy Collins, I haven't read much modern poetry lately.

P.S. As far as innovative painters/artists are concerned, most if not all of the great ones had a *firm* foundation in the traditional skills of their art. For example, Pablo Picasso was an accomplished realist painter before he went off to do his cubism. And I don't think he would have been able to carry cubism off if he hadn't had those foundational skills to stand on as a leaping off point for his new ideas.
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Postby Credo Buffa » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:05 pm

Malia wrote:Second is a 20th century poet, Pablo Neruda. He is a modern poet as well and was extremely innovative, I'd say.

Ah yes. Reading Neruda in the original Spanish is like the best Godiva truffle slowly melting on your mouth, followed by a swig of fine wine. :D
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Hello

Postby WolfLarsen » Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:03 am

Hello Malia & Credo Buffa.

It is true what Malia said about Picasso's strong foundation in the art movements that came before him. I believe it's helpful to be as knowledgeable as possible in previous movements in all the arts - including painting, literature, sculpture, music, etc. However, there have been very good artists with little or no knowledge of tradition who have created outstanding masterpieces. I think many an untrained uneducated artist who is brave enough to paint or write anything he wants to will contribute much more to the arts than an "artist/writer" who is a slave to the past and is not willing to innovate and thus has nothing new to contribute to the arts. For example - someone who is painting in the Impressionist style today - well over 100 years after impressionism was born - such a person is often contributing nothing to the arts - no matter how good their technical form may be.

But of course it's immensely helpful to be familiar with the art/literary movements of the past.

Malia mentioned Pablo Neruda's poetry. I think his Residencia en la Tierra is outstanding - but I don't think any of his other books come even close - though I am no expert. Personally I think Octavio Paz is even better - perhaps one of the greatest Poets that has ever lived - though some of his poetry is vandalized by the translators - and some of his books are better than others. I love Anne Sexton. I know for sure that Andrei Codrescu's poetry is really great until about 1980 - though I am no expert - the book of poems I have of his after 1980 are not nearly as great as the stuff before - but probably I just don't have his best poems after 1980. Also, check out Russell Edson for something totally different. Yannis Kondos, Frank Lima, Adam Zagajewski, Edouard Roditi, & Vicente Huidobro are all good. Some great anthologies of differnet Poets are Surrealist Poetry in English (edited by Edward Germain), Modern French Poets (edited by Wallace Fowlie), and the Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry (Edited by Michelle Yeh). Also look for an anthology of cubist poetry - I don't recall the title at the moment - but if I remember well it is qood. Don't forget the early giants of modern poetry: Mallerme & Rilke & Baudelaire!

I don't think poetry is in a dry era. After all, we just don't know the greatest Poets of our era yet. The most famous poets of any era often (but not always) wither with time, their names often replaced by those who were more innovative and daring.

Credo Buffa asked what is an innovative writer to do about the publishing industry? I will come to that later. I am out of time.

It is a pleasure discussing these issues with you Credo Buffa, Malia, and everybody else. As always, please feel free to disagree. I love a good debate with people who know how to argue in an intelligent thoughtful manner.

Cheers!

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