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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

a germane humane

From:

cris cheek <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

cris cheek <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 28 May 1998 00:05:42 +0000

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Hi,

expected defense based on misunderstandings (wilful or albert wise) Robin,
i explicitly asserted the inevitability of value being inscribed into every
assemblage (Deleuze's usage). Far from looking for refrains from value
making (the business of much poetry), i insist that value making is present
at all times in acts of assemblage. What bothers me is any sense that there
exists anywhere a value that offers anything other than a pretence to the
rebuttal of ephemerality and particularity. Value, like 'truth', like
'meaning', is located within determined and determining social
articulations of function, within configuring networks of power relation in
a rush to form opinion that defines a social grouping, more often than not
for exclusionary ends. Too often, such assertions remain unlocated, or
presume priveledged discourse (speak in Latin in the cloisters and so on).
I remain as engaged by what the supposed ----- (waving their All Saints or
Cleopatra or Bewitched or . . . posters) or ------, beyond the monastery
walls have to say, more importantly how the language moves there. Not in a
condescending or patronising costume btw  -  how can anybody know what the
woman who drives the local bus can or can't understand, does or doesn't
know? I do not find more lasting value in the bound volumes of the guarded
library than in the everyday exchanges both including and beyond the
library shelves and walls. Canon formation tends to focus on the library
and what is either included or excluded from its remit among immediate and
more distant academic circles. I do not doubt or downplay the real politik
of such formational pursuits. Nor do i seek to refuse to enter those arenas
-  hence i also teach.

I, as many, am brimful of transient opinions, some of which become part and
parcel of my habitus. Some of these opinions are received, or pass the
parcel of ring-faced manu-fence-actored concensus. I question the 'value'
of this and revile what it reveals, of attempts to impose mere opinion as
'truth'. "This is great. That was the best. the greatest tricks we've every
seen. That is better than another. Mandate". I am standing for specific
detailed argument, in which detail is engaged with so clearly as to release
fixity of opinion back into flux. This isn't 'being stoned', although i'd
grant it has aspects of tao. It does amuse me that refusals to play simple
binary ball are decried as the meows of the liberal wishy-washy caucus.

Keston (enjoyed your questions much along the same pranging) and Anthony,
the point is that there is no argument (at least i don't expect to hear
one, other than that Messaien is simply more hummable that the Spice Girls
with all that jangly compressed production-noise) based on better that is
not locatable in better for whom. For many people, the Spice Girls (who
interest me in no other respect than as a striking period marketing
phenomena and heralded the current plethora of fem-singers in the pop
charts, at last some redress no pun intended), are indeed preferable to
Messaien  -  by which they would probably mean to say, they're 'better'.
Whether both positions are informed or uninformed by actual listening or
received prejudice is cogent but still not the main point. I'd venture  -
so what on either assertion (the reverse of either being neither)? What are
we going to do, have a heavyweight culture of the West contest? Who's
judging (sorry I was forgetting all about Juke Box Jury)? Who wants to be
arbiter and who do they represent and what does what they enunciate
represent? It's an all too empty game. A fascinating one, as Keith
suggests. A game not to be taken lightly. Keith, of course, I do agree
about the explicit machinations of power operating throughout academia in
canon formations. Alan's book is a useful guide to the territory.
'Self-certainties of disciplines asserting local power' are what seemed to
me to be absorbing some aspects of the discussion here on Brit-poets, my
own wilful misgivings included.

Yet, academia speaking here also  -  wearing a Cultural Studies tifter to
boot  -  such strategic stand-offs, denials even, can be destabilised back
into the positive mire of doubt that facilitates discourse, being
confronted by the slipperyness of opinion, its transient pomp, in the face
of the chute of the quotidien. Very much along the lines of your
acceleration 'of the judgements required as a way of staving off the
judgements imposed'. Yes, abso-lottery!

Education all too often has 'value' as a starter on its menu. Rather than
following the understandable temptation to dig a trench and lob a judgement
bomb, perhapsd other strategies might be explored. That's my plea.

wimper not wimper

love and love
cris





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