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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

distant points

From:

Keston Sutherland <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Keston Sutherland <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 9 Feb 1998 23:46:53 -0500 (EST)

Content-Type:

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TEXT/PLAIN (92 lines)




Hello Pete, thanks for rolling your sleeves up and plunging in - all
modest disclaimers of course entirely adventitious, what you say is
pressing and accurate.  I'm beginning to feel as if I am not taking this
as far as it might permit, and that a period of bunged-mouth would
be suitable redress, get things spurting again.  To reply:


>1. that you're looking for a way to stand, as reader/experiencer of a
>text/performance, before that text in a way that maximises generosity
>while not distorting it
    
Yes, Id say so; but since we've the the opportunity to indulge in a little
dialectics, perhaps these few slight adjustments:

Rather than -standing before-, I'd (with some hesitation) go for
-participating in the discovery of-; in order that this be something other
than simple phenomenology, I'd say furthermore that this participation is
initialised, motivated through an ethical prerogative (rather than an
ontological curiosity): it's from an imperative to bestow care where care
is needed, that the presence or absence of needfulness must be discovered.
If a text is appalling hogcrap, or (more pertinently) if it is 'average'
or a satellite of the average, it has a kind of self-sufficiency.  It has
the self-sufficiency of a likely commercial viability, for starters; also
it has the fortitude which is the rebate for limited newness - that is, it
risks less and cannot risk more.  With a new, needful text, so much is
risked that a reader who reads only or even -some- average texts is
immediately responsible for neglect of the needful; this, I reckon, should
cause -compunction- (for which, if a reader is -prepared-, he or she can
benefit and cause benefit from/in -rapid- reappointment: a refusal to
linger, refusal of a cyclical reading process with impressive accretions
that do not, however, radically impair the cycle (of neutrality,
disappointment, lingering etc.))     

This is to maximise a -certain persuasion- of generosity, though not
generosity in toto.  An analogy might be, partisan divisions in democratic
representation: some kinds of perceived 'generosity' (banning abortions,
increasing military expenditure), whilst dismissed with only -relative-
correctness, are nonetheless capable of being described, or characterized
-absolutely- differently from others (pro-abortion law, military
cutbacks).  I think such a division of characteristics can be made within
our understanding of generosity as an attitude in reading: there are those
generosities which issue as 'culture', as sales, as friendly promotion, as
endurance, basically in sum as -hindrance-, and there is that generosity
which is utterly -unnecessary-, that is, completely preventable and not
entailed in reading insomuch as reading is a constituent part of all and
everyday activity.  This generosity gives only to what needs.  It is, as
with party divisions, a relative persuasion, but it differs from
'partisan' motivation in that it has only one, non-integrable criterion
for action (for its own persistence): giving care where it is needed.
This division of characteristics is in fact so severe a division (so
lonely - I hate rather than 'suffer' almost everything immediately) that
any radical abidance by its lone imperative must have maximised material
results.  It's a single issue drive but, unlike in politics, this is not
expedience but a total denial of other issues, other criteria. 

Compunction is in this sense a safety behaviour: of course, so stern and
important an attitude cannot always find itself to have been successful -
I read something and -catch myself- lingering in disappointment - the
point is to be prepared, so that failure is access not into the cycle of
hope and re-hope, dismay and re-dismay, but (through compunction) to a
greater power of preparedness, a swifter and more resolute reappointment,
a more fixatedly honest offering of care.           



>4. the stance before the text that would rigourously discern its merits
>& lacks is more open to that rarity - genuine surprise - than the
>"goshwowfabulous" school of fraternal backslapping


This -is- a perk, perhaps the top perk.  Also it is, if we can honour an
ideal or two for a moment, fraternal.  Backslapping is at best Fraternal,
mostly A Fraternity.  Anyone at Harvard now can see such a phenomenon the
moment she/he steps into a dining hall, keg-stands to consultancy occident
express.  Not that I'm against beer, of course, you understand, FAR from
it.  


Better hit hay.  Other points I'll address as soon as possible, perferably
after some more thought-expiry.  

Thanks again, Keston





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