Tuesday, November 29, 2005

End Malaria

I agree that Collins' project is useless and vapid, that he will be quickly and utterly forgotten. I don't agree that mass media coverage in any way corresponds directly to good art. There is not a single national media outlet, especially not the ones being mentioned here: New York Times, NPR, . . .etc. that we can trust as a journalism of the "news that stays news." It is not Billy Collins' fault that Morning Editions gives him this attention, it is media outlet itself. The major outlets are entirely unequipped to deal with the reality of experience, let alone art. I don't think what has been called "alternative poetries" has any value whatsoever, especially not under such an umbrella. What does have value in art is much more complicated than that, in fact it may be defined best as something that resists definition. I still think it's silly to feel underrepresented in mass culture- everyone is underrepresented. Poetry is an antiquated form. Even Hollywood, even football commericials incorporate and borrow from the postmodern project, I have no idea why there's such a conservative bent in poetry. Cognitively speaking, I think it's much harder for one to encounter something difficult and complex in language than it is in film or music for example.

Just don't kill the messenger. Billy Collins was sent to us by the demons and dust of our own experience. Everytime I'm in the mall and I get the shakes and I just want to go home; everytime I hear another fucking bomb explode somewhere- I know there are bigger fish to fry than Billy boy.

What I want to know is this: if you got your way and our countrymen started spending their aesthetic free time and dollars on art and poetry that mattered, if high schoolers could appreciate a poem by Jackson Mac Low, if we were NPR's darling poet white boys, would the world be any different? I don't believe poetry or art exists in a vacuum, that's why you're there reading this. But art is a personalized unquantifiable practice and experience. Our societal code wrongly teaches us to measure and quanitfy everything, and people like Billy Collins are dumb enough to let them. -AL


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