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POETRYETC  August 2008

POETRYETC August 2008

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Subject:

Heritage (was Re: composing on horseback)

From:

Kenneth Wolman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc: poetry and poetics

Date:

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 11:46:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (78 lines)

Roger Day wrote:
> I never meant to imply that moneyed == stupid. I just wanted to point
> out that he could afford the odd piece of paper.
>   

Oh surely.  He seemed a bright enough man.  But speak of great levelers: 
even money and privilege could not stop his mum, after a smallpox run in 
the 1570s, from growing a face like a highway excavation.

I am waiting for a new book: "The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia for 
Dummies, a Reference for the Rest of Us."

I had a junior faculty friend at Binghamton who was once chastised by a 
senior professor at Cornell, where they let her in as a graduate student 
before they realized she was an anarchist: "Ms W------, I am a Sidnist!" 
She claims she replied, "Oh, that's all right, I heard Oscar Wilde was too!"

More to the point, class, my favorite subject:

> At the back of my is the topic of heritage; whose heritage is it? I
> see a lot of those little blue plaques over the place, the official
> histories, the kings and queens, the moneyed and well-off. Nothing to
> do with me. Nothing harks back to *my* heritage of miners and sailors.
> So money is part of it, but it's also land-ownership, education,
> title, deed, tipping my hat to the squire and his lackeys. Although
> when I lived in Cambridge, it sometimes felt that Brideshead Revisted
> was a documentary from the 80s. I jest. Class has some to do with
> money in this country, but it's not the only marker. Or should I say
> Money has some to do with class but it's not all of it. And I guess
> that's one you don't see.
>   

Maybe I missed it, but does America have that sort of stratification 
nonsense?  Nobility and all that.  Unless it indeed is the nobility of 
money and power that makes people treat Donald Trump, for example, like 
Something Special instead of the scumbag he really is.  I do not believe 
we have any impoverished aristos here, unless like Obama and McCain, 
they they aspire to the aristocracy of power but lack for a brain in 
their heads.  Here, it seems, if you fall out of money, you have lost 
the defining factor of your life.  You might as well be kicked out of a 
plane, sans parachute, from 50,000 feet.  The safety net in the USA is 
not the Unemployment check--instead, it is what we *don't* have here, 
i.e., respect as a human being for the person who has fallen.  That lack 
of respect pervades the world of the unemployed, the poorly employed, 
and other people who have been WalMarted below of the American mental 
radar.  Everyone ought to spend some time working at minimum wage behind 
a service counter, and memorize the see-through-you/contemptuous looks 
they get from customers.

A fantasy: Sir Philip Sidney visits the A&P deli counter for a 
half-pound of liverwurst. 

Money in this country *is* class.  If you have enough money you can buy 
your way into anything in the US even if people think you are a boor 
like Trump or a prick like Jack Welch.  Well, mostly.

I often think it would be lovely to stop scuffling for a week and have 
the money to sit on my ass and write.  Yet how many people in our 
history could do that?  The only one I can think of offhand is James 
Merrill.  Yes, and I worked for his Daddy's so-called brokerage for a 
year.  No comment on poetic quality, thank you.

My particular heritage over here is gamblers, glaziers, furriers, and 
dentists.  I've grown up on class hatred.  Oddly the class for which I 
had hated from time to time was my own.  I outgrew that.  In the end you 
come back to what you are.  For me someone like Philip Levine is far 
more a model than Robert Lowell.

By the way, I must ask, what the hell is a R'Owl?  It sounds like an 
angry cat.

Ken

-- 
Ken Wolman	http://bestiaire.typepad.com	http://www.petsit.com/content317832.html
-------------------
"I have been watching you; you were there, unconcerned perhaps, but with a strange distraught air of someone forever expecting a great misfortune, in sunlight, in a beautiful garden."--Maurice Maeterlinck, Pelleas et Melisande

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