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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Jeremy Hester Prynne

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Date:

Fri, 17 Apr 1998 13:14:25 GMT

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Chastened by Peter Riley`s number three -  the cap fits so I`m 
sporting it at a jaunty angle...  

I`m interested in examining the ways in which critics of Prynne, as 
they register their own dismay in front of apparently intransigent 
material, have already decided and are about to decide again to 
revise that dismay and that apparent intransigence in the direction 
of a conjured "authority", identified with JHP, an "authority" that is in practice 
authoritarian because it scuppers the possibility of exercising their 
own critical franchise.  What we get instead of criticism (and this 
is where my paper seems almost as historically necessary as your own) 
is a kind of citation, where cuttings less than a line long are taken 
and re-potted in an often crudely shaped, um, ethico-political, er, 
grow-bag (time to ditch this metaphor) to generate an "opinion."  

I look at Stars, Tigers, and the Shape of Words but more especially 
the Discourse on the de Kooning painting to show how Prynne`s own 
critical practice never resorts to the registration of a "resistance" 
which is recuperated as the Mysterious Gift We Never Even Knew We Wanted 
or as a brave if precarious stand against the endless attempts of the 
market to throw cash at us.  

What else?  Problems I have with guesses at "ethical" (yawn) 
significances for works which are just not determinate enough to "be" 
ethical.  I think, I hope there`s a bit more to it than that when I 
go back to it.  There`s a tentative paddle in Not-You.

So, probably not a kick in the arse off your own project.  Your 
"antagonistic preparation &c." (and much else) sounds promising.  I 
wonder, tho`, how much the definition of poetry you posted earlier 
has been made-to-measure, to order,  in order that, say, Her Weasels Wild 
Returning can be dubbed A Really Good Poem.  If "poetry exists as 
opportunity for and of content &c." it might condemn a lot of other work 
to the status of Portentous Information.  This was the gist of my 
earlier glib response to that definition.  Can we be antagonistically 
prepared at a more general level; is antagonism the right attitude to 
adopt to a sequence as a whole, or is it only tenable at the level of 
an individual syntagma`s forking paths?  

I`d be happy to send you a copy of the paper, Keston; but only once 
it is revised.

all best

robin   


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