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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

add-on disappointment

From:

Keston Sutherland <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Keston Sutherland <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 7 Feb 1998 20:54:37 -0500 (EST)

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

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TEXT/PLAIN (142 lines)


to repeat myself:

(1) I suppose what I'm groping after here, is that the quality of
disappointment arising from a preparation to be disappointed is different
from that arising 'naturally', though perhaps only (and this, I hope, 
rather clinches the imperative) in -degree-.  'Natural' disappointment has
the flavour of Nietzsche's criticism of the Romantics, that naivety is
basically a paradox, and is negative; because not prepared for adequately
(or, perhaps, honestly), its issuing sense of reappointment is of inferior
urgency.    



Been pondering, with somewhat emaciated attention (Boss Hogg were a bit
disappointing), whether it's strictly accurate to say that the difference
between 'prepared' and 'natural' disappointment is in -degree-; might it
not also be the case, that the former affection is more properly
-spontaneous-?  That's to say, more voluntary, and therefore more
assertive of one's -own- disrespect, as distinguished from (though not
quite opposed to) simple disrespect?  That distinction is a tenuous one,
but smacks of at least a trifling validity - that prepared re-appointment
is more impressively reflexive than re-appointment arising from
unanticipated dissatisfaction, i.e. its effects are not stimulated (and
directed) by the substance of the book/film/song/poem alone, but also by
one's own immediately relevant understanding of the imperatives arising
from dissatisfaction.

This seems, perhaps, a bit counter-intuitive; if our intuition would have
us pleased by what we spend time over, why should we minimise our chance
of being so?  Isn't this a mere prejudice, inflated and inspecific?
Furthermore, wouldn't it effect in both reader and text a kind of
repression of generosity - a pre-emptive stultification of possible,
helpful results of reading, diminishing the ability of the text to
'mature' in reading and, at the same time and as the aetiological motive
of that diminution, making the reader -lethargic-?  Persistence has been
greatly extolled, over the past couple of decades and in certain areas of
the poesy earth, as the necessary state of a successful reading attitude;
many current writings would be almost untouchable if we were not
persistent with them - if we did not arrest, or at least consciously defer
our initial disappointment.  

Firstly, whilst a preparation to disappointment is likely to stimulate
what it prepares, and our chance of being pleased is in that sense
minimised, it's only through this preparedness that 'our chance' and
'being pleased' can be seen clearly; that their stratification in value
and into values (political values being one set) can be perceived and
examined; that, to take account of the poem simultaneously, culturally and
artificially installed mechanisms of 'efficacy' in the object regarded can
be distinguished from the effects they (seek to) produce: infectious,
-reflex- acceptance (a granting of permission) can be exorcised from
pleasure.           

The prejudice is certainly inspecific in outset.  In fact, it -must- be
so: to keep unpreparedness in reserve, to read one's favourite authors
without the same negative anticipation, is to exercise a tacit and
un-self-reproved tendency to grind to a halt (to settle down with what one
has, whether this is for comfort or its opposite).  This bears, I feel,
upon the issue of addressing discrepencies in the reception of women's
poetry compared to that of men's: it's poisoning the root of the
aspiration for equality and for redress, which is an aspiration I share,
to allow a preparation to disappointment to be appalled by its
circumstantial dependency on a politic hopefulness.  Women's poetry
deserves and demands exactly the same rigour, exactly the same distinction
of its pleasures from its 'cultural' efficacy, as does men's.  I
wholeheartedly approve of positive efforts in publishing, buying books,
organizing readings and urging reviews.  There are many women's poetries
that disable the fruition of a prepared disappointment, and in doing so,
succeed without affectionate, implicit patronage.  


Regarding the repression of possible reading-results - that a text becomes
-less- if treated in this manner, I can only assent.  And this, too, seems
quite equitable.  There are different powers of achievement in poetry, and
to some extent this difference is the product of situation and other,
apposite external factors; but those achievements (felicities, as it might
have put a while ago, or -qualities of significance-) can be sorted, over
time and within the experience of an individual reader, into two types (or
rather, identified as two types): those which are contingent upon a
neutral (or eager) receptivity for their effectiveness, and those which
are effective either because of or despite having no such contingency -
those which are capable of converting the latency of a prepared
disappointment into its own total incapacity.  Such a description is more
than a little bloated, but seems approximately relevant to me, right now.
And, importantly, wouldn't be made without prepared disappointment,
the description itself being an analysis that occurs -in rapid
reappointment-.  Those qualities which -do- covert latency to incapacity,
are genuinely exalted (they make me happy), the more so, or, in fact -at
all- for having been categorically distinguished from other effects and in
that way exposed as rarities.  Disappointment re-enables rarity, replaces
dormant rarity.     


Lethargy is a disarming charge, or at least, might be disarming if left
unexamined.  I think it's crucial to see the difference between lethargy
and refusal - that the former is a phatic and partly instinctive
behaviour, characterized by a later, incurred regret; refusal, on the
other hand, whilst momentarily similar, branches off from lethargy in its
repercussion, and is then known to have been radically different from it.
Refusal is an access to a politics of identity; lethargy is a partially
accidental eschewal of access.  It is not lethargic to approach poetry
with a prepared dissappointment.  Rather, it is either one or two
refusals: firstly, the refusal of a default 'enthusiasm' (with which word,
Peter's Puritans are recalled), which is an entailed benefit; secondly,
the potential refusal to -linger-.  By this I mean, that whereas a reader
who is not prepared to be disappointed, finds her or himself lingering
over their disappointment after reading a poem (questioning why they had
not anticipated their reaction, what had made them react in such a way,
why had they spent the 10.99/20 mins. etc), a 'prepared' reader is able
instantly to become reappointed, to reassert her ot himself, to recognise
the causes of his or her reaction without that recognition being entirely
-symptomatic- of (bought, paid for) literary unsuccess. 

This rapid reappointment, I would argue, -is- persistence; it does not
allow the relaxing rhythms of hopefulness and symptomatic dismay, it will
allow a reader to read more in less time, and, I believe to feel more
specifically and with less 'apolitical' delusion the true magnificence of 
rarity.  




Fuck 'postmodern' pastiche.



Again, much more needed,


K  
       

  



                    



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