Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brian Fawcett (Part Five)

Thanks to editor Zach Wells for the organization of the Jailbreaks book launch last night, and to him and other contributors and readers. The volume is attractive, the poems I've read so far are various and fascinating, and the idea is an excellent one: I've always enjoyed a good sonnet, and the choices and evolutions in this book are well-researched and worthy.


"In 1970, such ostensibly technical and mundane insights didn’t seem like something I could transform into poetry, while chewing the cosmic and/or human scenery did." -- Brian Fawcett

Why the silly need to choose one over the other?


"Too bad. If I’d pursued some of the practical messages that episode tried to deliver to (or was it from?) my teeming brain, I might have produced a piece of readable writing." --Brian Fawcett

Ahh, yes, "practical messages". And that's what poetry is all about, no? A tidy moral. A ten-step rule of "right living". A way of "getting ahead" and doing something "serious" with one's life.

There are a lot of fuck-ups in the history of world poetry, fuck-ups who wrote timeless lines without which the world would be a lot sorrier place in which to schlepp around. Dentists, economic advisors, peak oil grass roots organizers, horse racing analysts, and spiritual adepts, and others, give me needed and valuable insights, but they would be the first to admit they know shit about poetry.

The "bigger" his statement is, the worse it gets.


"This time, I did get the implicit lesson: It is what people accept as authentic that matters, not how the authenticity is produced."--Brian Fawcett.

Bullshit. People accept all sorts of crazy things, en masse, as authentic: organized religion; white bread; TV commercials selling cars where the model couple, smiling suggestively to one another, glide over a mountain pass while eagles dive athwart the golden shafts of the setting sun as reflected from the inside of the side windows.

The "how" is everything. If someone tells me something, what does it matter if it's not an organic and deep realization already encoded in their spiritual DNA? If someone else can create something ( a poem, a meal, a table, a worthy gathering) through a mysterious and artful process of accumulated careful understanding, then that's what matters. I want an intuitive authority (not authoritarianism, which is completely different), not a rule-setting, facile declaimer.


"Too bad it didn’t occur to me to apply this to writing poetry or to my personal life, because it pointed straight at my best talents as a writer and as a human being: I was and remain a late-in-the-game fabricator of apparently inappropriate and disparate materials, a rectifier—partially and perhaps inexactly—of major foul-ups, fuck-ups, errors-in-judgment, slapstick mistakes, and so forth." --Brian Fawcett.

Great. Self-knowledge. But now he wants it both ways. Or, rather, he's negating everything he said originally about the "narcissism of the lyric mode", because he's still concentrating on himself, only in a different way: rather than a loopy romantic, he'll be an "objective reporter". That it's regarding his learned life lessons means nothing: the focus is still on him, so where's the new, supposedly superior focus on something "bigger" than the personal?


"I don’t foresee the future any better than John Naismith, Charles Olson, or NORAD and CNN, but then art and artists are with us to let us know what’s on the end of those forks we’re putting in our mouths, not to predict the future."--Brian Fawcett.

More gross misunderstanding.

Poetry lets us know what we're currectly ingesting (and digesting) as well as what the future will be like. The prophetic force is a major and serious value of high poetry. It's often pooh-poohed, but it's not as high-falutin' as it always appears to the superficially-minded: poetry (and other arts, done well), in intuiting what is happening now, therefore by definition understands what will happen in the future, since what we do today is planting the proverbial specific seeds. When I say "what will happen in the future", I don't mean predicting certain, exact events, but a broad outline or paradigm, if you will, where those events will be a natural match waiting to fire with the inevitable sulphuric trigger points.

But, Fawcett, despite his "big picture" focus, seems content to rehash his boring beach "farce" for the un-universal non-appeal of his readers.


"What art—alone of all the human mental crafts—does well is what I managed to do that day: read a messy situation and act on it accurately enough to bring some small part of it, alive, laughing and whole, through to the other side of the ongoing fuck-up called the human condition. For posterity, or for itself, or for the sheer joy of the human dance. Doesn’t matter."--Brian Fawcett.

Well, here's something, finally, I agree with. Let's end it (for the eve) with a "Kum-baya, my Lord!" Can I get an amen?

Part Six to follow .....

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